As you know by now, the Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez and cash to the Brewers for two players to be named later. We don’t know which players yet, so it’s impossible to fully assess the trade. There has been some talk of how the Brewers gutted their system in trades in the past offseason — and that’s true — but they’ve still got guys playing games in the Minor Leagues. Obviously there’s a pretty broad range of quality there. So let’s hang tight on that one.
The good news is the deal guarantees Rodriguez’s ridiculous $17.5 million option for 2012 will not vest. This assures the Mets’ front office some much-needed financial flexibility this offseason.
Rodriguez did not pitch terribly for the Mets. In 168 innings, he posted a 130 ERA+ and struck out more than a batter an inning. He allowed a lot of baserunners, of course, and he blew some saves and punched a man in the family room. It wasn’t always good. But no closer besides Mariano Rivera is Mariano Rivera. The Mets got what they overpaid for.
But if the first three years of Rodriguez’s pricey contract were excusable given the Mets’ position after the 2008 season, it was the fourth-year option that ushered the closer out of town.
Terry Collins and the 2011 Mets probably could have managed it better, keeping him out of more three-run wins and six-run losses to suppress that games-finished total. But for whatever reason, they didn’t. With 34 games finished and 71 left to play, Rodriguez was careening toward that option, necessitating a deal.
Essentially, the Mets loaded up the bases in the ninth in a tight game. They worked their way out of it and now we are celebrating on the mound, perhaps a bit too brazenly.
Meh, maybe the metaphor isn’t perfect. If you listened to the podcast a couple weeks ago, you heard me insist that Alderson had something up his sleeve, and there was no chance the Mets would let that option vest. So maybe the most innocent explanation here is the correct one: The Mets were using Rodriguez as best they could to help them win as many games as possible before moving him, knowing all along they’d be able to move him.
As for what happens now: Despite the LOLtastic “news” treatment of the trade the New York Post, it is hardly the death knell for the Mets’ chances of contention in 2011. That’s still a longshot, but it’s only made slightly longer by the absence of Rodriguez. Hanging onto a guy who could financially cripple the team in the future in the name of a 46-45 team that’s 7.5 games back of the Wild Card would be downright moronic, I am sorry to say.
Bobby Parnell probably takes over as closer. In a very small sample in 2011, Parnell has been extremely similar to or slightly better than Rodriguez in just about every category.