An Ode To Rhodes: Arthur Rhodes Designated For Assignment By Texas Rangers

You're working. You're doing the same thing you've been doing for 20 years, more or less, and maybe your production is slipping a little bit, or a lot, but you feel like you can do your job.

Then in comes your boss. He has two guys with him, and he says, "Okay, so this is Mike and Koji, and they do your job, but much, much better." Then he tries to bring another two chairs into your cubicle, and they just won't fit. He looks at the chairs, looks at you. Looks at the chairs, looks at you ...

Which is to say that Arthur Rhodes was designated for assignment by the Rangers today to make room for Mike Adams today. Rhodes had a 4.81 ERA in 24-1/3 innings, striking out 15 while walking eight. He had become the ghost of the Rangers' bullpen, pitching meaningless innings if he was even seen at all. From July 4 through July 25, the closest game he appeared in was a game in which the Rangers won by nine runs. That's Ron Washington's way of telling a pitcher to polish his résumé.

Rhodes is a fascinating pitcher -- he's the most unreliable reliever in recent memory, which is like being the least dependable heroin addict in the world. But don't think that unreliable is a synonym for bad. He was great, he was good, and he was awful from one season to the next. Teams would sign him to be the relief ace, and he'd be a radioactive leak in the bullpen. Teams would sign him because they didn't have any better ideas, and he'd be the relief ace.

Phase 1
The fire-throwing lefty with command problems. One of a hundred in professional ball, though Rhodes was thought of highly enough to rank as baseball's #5 prospect in 1992. If only he could throw strikes, went the refrain

Phase 2
Abysmal starter. Terrible. From ages 23 through 25, he might have been the worst starting pitcher in baseball. It took 52 innings for "Arthur Rhodes" and "strike" to be mentioned in the same sentence in 1994, and that didn't have anything to do with baseball.

Phase 3
He takes his talents to the bullpen, where he throws close to 100 innings for an Orioles team that makes it to the ALCS, picking up some MVP votes along the way.

Phase 4
He's awful and can't throw a strike, walking 7.6 hitters per nine innings in 1997. 

Phase 5
He's great again! He throws 137 innings for the Mariners between 2001 and 2002, walking 25 hitters and striking out 164 with a 2.03 ERA. He walked more batters in the first half of 1997 than he did in those two seasons combined.

Phase 6
Awful!

Phase 7
Great!

Phase 8
Awful!

Phase 9
Great! An All-Star middle reliever, even.

And now, in phase 10 of Arthur Rhodes' career, he's not so good. Any team that wants the 41-year-old can have him. Again. So while this might read like a career obituary, why would you bet against him? He's left-handed and can still throw 89 mph, and he's like Jesse Orosco crossed with Jason Voorhees. He'll probably latch on somewhere, and he could turn into an unexpected relief ace again. It's happened about 488 times before.

But even if he does or doesn't get another job, here's to Arthur Rhodes -- a reminder that when trying to project the career path of a pitching prospect, you should just quit and play "Frogger" or something.

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