Not a shocker that the Mets traded K-Rod, nor is it a shocker that the Brewers took the plunge. The timing threw everyone off, that's all.
You generally don't expect a trade to get announced moments after the All-Star Game concludes.
Let's go at it: I'm in an enumerating mood this morning:
1. K-Rod's vesting option made his saga one of the more fascinating ones in recent baseball operations/transactional history. And now that it's concluded, we have to say that the Mets managed it pretty well.
In the end, they got what they always wanted: Payroll relief. A freeing up of that $17.5 million commitment for 2012.
To get to that point, however, the Mets had to hit every item on this list: a) Showcase K-Rod positively for prospective suitors; b) get K-Rod himself back in a good mental state; c) keep the Mets fans happy by trying to win; and d) satisfy the Players Association concerning any potential grievances.
That's quite a balancing act, and Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins pulled it off rather deftly. You know that if the old regime were still around, they would've botched the execution, and then the Players Association would've gotten a hold of their plans, just as Principal Skinner found significant evidence of Bart's scheme to sabotage the launch of a weather balloon in this "Simpsons" episode.
2. The Brewers wound up as the perfect trade partner most of all because of their owner, Mark Attanasio.
He's a go-for-it guy, and Milwaukee already has gone for it so much this year, trading for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, that its farm system is savaged. So that's why getting K-Rod for virtually nothing in return made so much more sense than trading prospects for someone like San Diego's Heath Bell.
And continuing the Attanasio thought, while I have to think that the Brewers will use K-Rod to set up successful closer John Axford, if the worst-case scenario comes to life and Axford gets hurt, Attanasio is the type of owner who would emphasize to his baseball people, "Use K-Rod to close. This is our year. We'll deal with next season, next season."
3. As for K-Rod setting up...Scott Boras did his best, as the song goes, but I guess his best wasn't good enough. The whole intent of his Monday public threat tour was clearly to try to scare teams off from acquiring K-Rod to set up.
The Brewers weren't on K-Rod's no-trade list, and they couldn't be bothered with Boras' noise. And now it's in Boras' best interests to tell his client: "OK, time to suck it up for a few months and pitch great, and I'll get you a huge deal this winter."
Besides, Boras doesn't want the option to vest. If it does, that money goes to K-Rod's former agent Paul Kinzer.
For what it's worth, K-Rod's behavior has been much improved this season.
4. What does it mean for the Mets? I'm not in the "It means nothing" camp, that this was predetermined due to the vesting option. It means something. It means that Alderson won't be held prisoner to any notion of contending.
Maybe Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell can step in for K-Rod in the ninth inning. Maybe Collins can sell his bullpen on a committee approach, since he's proven quite the salesman this season. But a team with serious designs on contention doesn't do this move.
Does this mean Carlos Beltran gets traded by July 31? I'm betting that yes, he does - San Francisco is the safest bet - at which point the Mets will be all the more challenged to stay relevant to their fans. But they simply couldn't let that option vest.
5. So how would we summarize the K-Rod Era in Flushing? You could argue that Rodriguez symbolized the Omar Minaya Era better than any other player in his reign.
I wouldn't choose Luis Castillo or Oliver Perez for that honor, because that's not fair to Minaya. He had his share of successes, and you wouldn't classify K-Rod as an absolute bomb of an acquisition.
Here's why I'd go with K-Rod as Omar rep:
--He came aboard as a result of some classic, backward-looking analysis: "Hey, we just missed the 2008 playoffs because our bullpen was terrible. So let's get the best reliever out there!"
--His contract resulted from the Mets' thoughts about the market, rather than the reaality of the market. The reality of the market was that the Mets should've been able to get the deal done for three years and $37-ish million, without the vesting option. But there had been so much chatter about K-Rod getting a five-year, $75-million package - absolutely nonsensical chatter, as it turned out - that the Mets thumped their chests for getting K-Rod at less than half that $75 million figure.
--He was a disciplinary nightmare whose bad behavior was left unchecked by Mets authority figures, because they lacked a bad cop to call him out. And that lack of internal policing certainly contributed to one of the most infamous nights in the Mets' colorful history.
Rodriguez be remembered, certainly, and not only for bad reasons. There was a rush in the building whenver he emerged from the bullpen to that awesome song.
But no one would dispute that it was time for K-Rod to go, promptly.