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K-Rod is poised to get expensive. What should the Mets do?

Jul 6, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Francisco Rodriguez Getty Images

A reminder in the Wall Street Journal this morning that the Mets — playing solid enough baseball that talk of the wild card is not delusional — have some hard decisions to make.  And not just with Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.  That’s because, as all Mets fans know, if Francisco Rodriguez finishes 55 games this year, his $17.5 million contract option for 2012 is triggered. And right now he’s on pace to finish 61.

On some level you have to think that Sandy Alderson was hoping that events would take care of themselves, and that either the Mets’ competitive situation would be such that there wouldn’t be as many save opportunities and/or meaningful games — or that K-Rod wouldn’t be effective enough — to where it would make baseball sense for him to finish 55.  But that hasn’t been the case, and as of now there is no plausible reason to change his usage pattern.

So absent a serious July swoon, the Mets are kind of damned if they do, damned if they don’t.  If they keep him, they’re on the hook for an intolerably large financial commitment to K-Rod next year (or a union grievance if they alter his usage pattern for purely financial reasons).  If they shop him — again, assuming they’re still playing good baseball — they’re basically saying that 2011 doesn’t matter and will be accused by some of waving a white flag due to their serious lack of green.

I would still think the latter problem would be the better one to have. Haters (i.e. the talk radio and tabloid crowd) are gonna hate anyway. You gotta think long term and you can’t worry too much if someone gets some short term mileage off of some disingenuous white flag talk (disingenuous because the same ones who would offer it would go crazy if commitments to K-Rod prevent the Mets from making an offer to Reyes).

But that doesn’t make the short term any easier. And I’m kind of glad I’m not in Sandy Alderson’s shoes and don’t have to deal with the contractual mess that was left for him to clean up.

  1. Kevin S. - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Uh, yeah, they aren’t catching the Phillies or Braves. Trade him to a team where he won’t reach his games finished quota.

    • tsi4431 - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      Considering the Twins have already made up 10 games in there division just this year, it isn’t impossible. Heck the Phillies made up 7.5 games in just 17 games played a few years ago.
      I think they are definitely in contention still, especially with Wright, Santana, and possibly Ike Davis coming back. 3 former or soon to be all stars.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        The Indians and Tigers aren’t the Braves and Phillies.

  2. uyf1950 - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Does anyone honestly believe the Mets have a shot at the NL Wild Card. They are currently 6.5 games behind the Braves who btw are the wild card leader currently. They also would have to leapfrog not only the Braves but the Diamondbacks, Pirates and nominally the Brewers. But it’s probably the Braves and Diamondbacks that currently present the biggest obstacles to the Mets making the post season that and their inconsistent play.

  3. FC - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Man, I don’t care how much the Mets have improved. The Braves and Phillies are on fire. I can’t see the Mets keeping this up till September. I’d shop K-Rod and let him be someone else’s problem. Play a good second half and Alderson can use the off-season to put together a more financially sensible and competitive product on the field for 2012. With all the contract uncertainties and fierce competition in the NL East, it would be unwise to go all-in and mortgage the future. Alderson has yet to put his imprint on the Mets.

  4. sdelmonte - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    1. Who is going to want K-Rod? That contract is an albatross. And even if he’s past his anger management problems, he’s probably perceived in some circles as damaged goods.

    2. Sandy has to try and pedal him. The rest of the Mets’ pen has been pretty good – Parnell might finally be coming into his own – and we’ve seen time and again that teams can absorb the loss of a closer better than expected. Clearing some “cap space” for a Reyes deal is a good idea. Getting a couple of prospects as well would be a nice bonus.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      Nah, it’s not an albatross if he goes to a team that won’t let him get his games finished quota. If the Mets have to kick in money owed to him this year, so be it. He’s a sunk cost for 2011. They need to avoid him being sunk for 2012, too.

  5. jamie54 - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    That’s why GM’s and the like get paid the money they do. They’re the one’s that have to make the decisions that possibly cause the impact on the field. Bloggers and other media do just that, blog and the like.

  6. dodger88 - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Move him no matter their record come July 31st; relievers in general and closers in particular are so inconsistent that one needs to avoid large financial committments for nearly anyone not named Mariano Rivera. I’m not convinced that moving Rodriguez would punt the season but even if it costs them a few games allowing his $17.5 million option to trigger would be bad business and negatively impact the 2012 campaign.

    • Paul Zummo - Jul 6, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      Exactly. Trading Beltran and/or Reyes would certainly doom whatever slim playoff chances that they have. Getting rid of a guy worth exactly half a win is hardly going to make or break the rest of the season, but it will help alleviate the massive financial strain that his contract contributes to.

  7. deathmonkey41 - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Wherever he goes, just don’t let his girlfriend’s father in the locker room.

  8. Jonny 5 - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    They have to trade him. How many games will they really lose because they traded him? Not enough to make it worth that much money, not to a team who’s so obviously in need of rebuilding, the fans get it. Now it will be quite a job to find a team desperate enough for a good closer to not only take on that much $$$, but also the baggage that comes with this guy. He ain’t right. Good luck Sandy, you’ll need it.

  9. Reggie's Bush - Jul 6, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    As a Mets fan, this wouldnt be my preference but it is an option…

    Renegotiate and extend his contract, he already said that would be an option with a new club so why not here? Once this has happened trade him to a new team after the year ends… of course this is if he doesnt have a no trade clause in the renegotiation…

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