Baseball’s trade deadline is less than 24 hours away, and the Yankees have pulled off a bigger move than anyone had expected, acquiring Ivan Rodriguez from Detroit for Kyle Farnsworth. From a baseball viewpoint, the trade makes lots of sense for the Yankees, who get an excellent defensive catcher — one who’s hitting somewhat higher than Jose Molina’s .226 — to replace Jorge Posada, who spent the day having major shoulder surgery.
But the timing of trading Farnsworth is priceless, and the trade itself almost bittersweet. There has been no more hated Yankee over the past few seasons than Farnsworth. (An example: In a game against Cincinnati last month, he was actually cheered for getting hurt by a line drive.) His entrance to games had become the polar opposite of Mariano Rivera’s: a unified chorus of boos raining down from 50,000-plus spectators. But he played the part of the whipping boy so well; it was hard not to find an easy punch line in his obsession with Big Buck Hunter or apparently superb baking skills, or not to soak up the words of wisdom from “pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth” on the Dugout.
Yet in the last month or so, Farnsworth had been not just effective, but downright great, as the Yankees setup man. (At one point, he’d thrown nine straight hitless innings — a sort of reliever’s no-hitter.) It was almost like watching a child come of age, or at the very least, a junkie graduate from rehab a new man. Yes, he was the terrible Kyle Farnsworth, but he was our terrible Kyle Farnsworth, and look at him now! The Yankees bullpen might be able to absorb his loss, but Bronx-cheering Yankee fans may not find it so easy. A good whipping boy is tough to come by. —Joe DeLessio