The Mets and Francisco Rodriguez appear to have reached a consensus on a contract, and as long as K-Rod passes a physical, he will be the first offseason acquisition of the New York Mets. It’s a good move for the Mets, as they managed to keep the contract to 3 years/$37 million, roughly half the dollars K-Rod’s agent was originally asking for and two fewer years. It’s another offseason victory for the Mets, to go along with the Carlos Beltran contract four years ago and the Johan Santana trade last season. We will soon see if this offseason victory can help propel them to postseason wins as well.
We here at BlueAndOrange.net had earlier endorsed Brian Fuentes for the role of the Mets closer in 2009. While we are sad that Fuentes will not wear the colors for which this site is named in 2009, we wish him well in his future endeavors. We meant K-Rod no ill will; we simply preferred Fuentes. With K-Rod in the fold, you can bet that this site will support K-Rod to the max. He’s our guy now.
And there is a lot to like about Francisco Rodriguez. As his name implies, K-Rod is a strikeout pitcher. He has never had a season where he threw more innings pitched than strikeouts. Because he is a power pitcher, he tends to be walk-prone as well, but is capable of having stretches where he is absolutely unhittable. Another plus is his ability to avoid the long-ball; he has allowed only 7 home runs in 135.7 IP over the past two seasons. Plus, for those of you who like to know that a pitcher can get it done in the 9th, K-Rod has proven himself an adept 9th inning man with four straight 40+ save seasons.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect signing. K-Rod’s strikeout rate has dropped in each of the past four seasons. Now, one could argue that striking out 12-13 batters per nine innings was simply unsustainable, the fact is we are a pretty far way past that point. Of concern is the drop in his velocity. Keith Law of ESPN.com does a great job here explaining that part of the reason is because K-Rod has cut back on throwing his vicious slider, adding a changeup to his repetoire of pitches. Hmmm…Venezuelan pitcher, wears #57, throws a changeup…I think there is somebody that can perhaps help K-Rod improve that changeup a little bit. But the violent delivery of the slider has caused K-Rod to cut back on using the pitch and makes him a health risk if he continues to use it, even though it’s his best pitch. But worst-case scenario, if K-Rod gets hurt, it’s only a three year deal.
The Mets aren’t done yet, of course. While K-Rod does improve the Mets significantly, there is still the matter of adding a starting pitcher or two, more work to be done in the bullpen, finding a way to jettison Luis Castillo and install a second baseman who isn’t terrible, and perhaps upgrading behind the plate and in left field as well. But the big move is out of the way; the Mets have found the man who will close games for them the next three-plus seasons, and based on what was available on the market, they may very well have gotten the best relief pitcher they could, and on favorable contract terms. As a Mets fan, how can you feel bad about that?