…the elderly chap in question being Mets owner, Fred Wilpon. With a piece that takes just a bit of shine off the resilient Mets beating the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine last night, 6-0 (a contest notable for a rare pair of Jason Bay home runs and Mike Pelfrey managing to pitch 6 shutout innings in spite of himself), the Wall Street Journal’s Brian Costa reminds us there’s a very heavy price to be paid for the frequent use of closer Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod’s contract, which the Mets might well have hoped to void last summer, calls for the reliever’s 2012 option ($17.5 million) if he finishes 55 games or more, regardless of the outcome. Currently, Rodriguez is on pace to finish 61 games, a total that might well have Wilpon looking for the razor blades. Or as Costa puts it, slightly more delicately, “the Mets have essentially backed themselves into a corner.”
No one really expected the Mets to try to deliberately prevent Rodriguez from earning this option. But no one expected manager Terry Collins to use K-Rod as liberally as he has, either. Of Rodriguez’s 32 games finished, 11 have come in non-save situations. He entered Tuesday having pitched in 16 non-save situations, which was tied for the fifth-most among pitchers with at least 15 saves.
“I’ve been a little surprised in some instances myself,” general manager Sandy Alderson said, referring to how Collins has used K-Rod. “But that’s his job. Am I aware of it? Yes. Do I spend my time counseling Terry on the proper care and feeding of K-Rod? No.”
If they don’t trade K-Rod to a team that would use him as a setup man, the odds are that he will remain a Met next season. A team in financial distress will lay claim to the most expensive closer in baseball history, at a time when it may or may not be able to afford to re-sign a franchise player in Jose Reyes.
The obvious solution is to trade Rodriguez before the end of the month, but that would nix the idea of the Mets making a playoff push the last two months of the season. If they trade K-Rod, there is no sense in holding onto Carlos Beltran.