Following up on Saturday’s post: As of right now, 37 percent of TedQuarters readers would choose Bobby Parnell to close games if Francisco Rodriguez were traded. Count me among that 37 percent, assuming the team is locked in to using one guy in a traditional “closer” role.
Parnell leads all active Mets relievers in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings. Plus he’s relatively young and under team control for a while, meaning a stint as closer in the tail end of the 2011 campaign would amount to an audition, where inserting Jason Isringhausen in the job would shed little light on the team’s future bullpen makeup.
Baseball Prospectus currently has the Mets’ chances of making the playoffs at 2.5 percent — a longshot, if not an insurmountable one. If you’re looking to be optimistic, the odds are better that the Mets make the playoffs in 2011 than they were that they would have missed the playoffs on Sept. 17, 2007. Crazier things have happened, in other words, and we’ve seen them.
But regardless of how voraciously the Mets will be pursuing that 2.5 percent chance, they should look to trade Rodriguez in the next few weeks. Though his loss will make any playoff hunt more difficult, Rodriguez has not been so overwhelmingly great that his absence necessarily precludes contention, and his much-maligned vesting option will make it more difficult for the team to contend in 2012 by limiting the front office’s financial flexibility this offseason.
Plus, if the Mets can trade him to a team that will not use him to finish games — one not concerned about his option — they might get back a player to help mitigate his loss in the short term and help them in the future.
Well-run teams can find effective closers on the cheap. Converted starters and scrap-heap acquisitions often pay huge dividends in the back ends of bullpens. The Mets should be able to replace Rodriguez’s production — or something close, at least — at a fraction of the price, allocating that cash to positions that spend more than 70 innings a season on the field.