A potential solution is at hand if the Mets do not want to deal with one aspect of this sure to be soap opera of a season. They can unload closer Francisco Rodriguez and the prospect of paying him $17.5 million next season.
The taker: Texas. The Rangers will be looking for a closer if they decide to put Neftali Feliz in the starting rotation. Depending upon the deal, the Mets might still have to eat some salary, but not be on the hook for what K-Rod will get if he finishes 55 games for them in 2011.
Here’s some baseball 101 on closers: You don’t really need one on a non-contending team. And everything about this season’s edition screams non-contention. If the Mets were a Broadway show, the opening would be delayed. But you can’t turn off a baseball season.
The starting rotation is shaky; who knows what to expect from a supposedly healthy Jason Bay in left, or a decidedly unhealthy Carlos Beltran in right. And what is going on at second base?
The Mets need to start saving their pennies for the off season when they will need every cent to resign Jose Reyes, if that’s even possible given the uncertainty of substantial debt and the as yet unknown ramifications of the Madoff suit.
Removing Rodriguez sooner rather than later sends a clearer signal that the makeover is underway. It also fends off a further public relations nightmare later on if Rodriguez approaches the magic number needed for his contract to vest. The manager wants to use K-Rod in a normal fashion, but management can’t take the chance of being stuck with his 2012 deal.
Do the Mets really want to get into a situation where they use K-Rod in the seventh or eight inning and make it super obvious what they are doing? Or, not use him at all?
The Rangers expect to be contenders and they’ll need a closer to cement that position. For the way the Mets project, they may very well have one closer too many.