The Elephant in the Room

Jelephant-room11immy:

This week, Mets fans have been abuzz with renewed excitement.

There’s been much to read about, analyze, and discuss.

Quintanilla and Satin out, Flores and Campbell in. But those moves paled in significance compared to what’s happened to the pitching staff. The Mets shifted Jenrry Mejia to the pen, brought up Jake deGrom and converted him to a relief role, while they added Rafael Montero to the rotation. To make room, Gonzales Germain was placed on the DL and then, surprisingly, Dillon Gee joined him.

Even so, nobody wants to discuss the elephant in the room.

I’m sorry, was that insensitive?

I don’t mean to become the next Mike Puma. Heaven forfend. Perhaps I should have changed the metaphor to an 800-pound gorilla? It doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.

What I mean to say is, um, there’s, er . . . a dark cloud on the horizon. The cloud’s name is Bartolo Colon and he comes burdened with an almost inexplicable two-year contract.

While the Mets attempt to maximize their roster on an economy budget, there’s one pitcher on the staff earning approximately the same money as the other four starters combined. And, yeah, his stats are bad. And he’s by far the oldest.

Do the Mets have a problem here, Mike?

Mike:

Oh yes, I can’t put lipstick on that pig. The Colon contract has been hard for me to Bartolo Colondigest since day one. Given the overall lack of size of the team’s budget, and the fact that almost all of the teams top prospects were pitchers, it was a very strange move. The team had other areas of need, so I figured that maybe Bartolo was signed to allow for a trade that never happened. We now know that was not the motive. At first glance I also entertained the idea that perhaps Colon would be used as a place holder, with a plan to move him as soon as this July. Considering Syndergaard is still in Las Vegas, I guess that could still be the plan. If so, it is a very risky one, with the chance of blowing up in the team’s face.

Jimmy:

Yikes, an exploding pig. Ham, ham everywhere, but nary a sandwich to eat.

Mike:

I hate to kill these guys for doing something, because you can’t just sit on your hands all the time. But this was just weird, I mean, Bartolo Colon was the guy we had to have? Our offer was very aggressive.

Jimmy:

At that point, most of us — that us, our “2 Guys” Nation of Readers! — seemed to be okay with filling in on the cheap with place-holders. A Dice-K here, a Harang there, until the reinforcements arrived. After all, Noah is scheduled to sail into port around late June, which puts Sandy in an unenviable spot.

OPTIONS:

1) Wait and figure that an injury will help resolve the issue;

2) Keep Syndergaard down;

3) Bring up Syndergaard in the role of reliever;

4) Trade a current starter: Niese, Gee, Montero, or Wheeler;

5) Go with a nutty six-man rotation.

At the same time, it’s not like I don’t like Bartolo. He has an easy, blithe, jolly quality to him, and when it’s working on the hill, it’s almost like magic.

And the fact is, pitchers get hurt. We could turn around tomorrow to learn that Jonathon Niese just blew out his shoulder. In that sense, Mike, is there a generous reading of the Colon contract? That it was a wise, prudent signing? And that perhaps the Mets needed a veteran to anchor a young staff (and by anchor, folks, I am in no way making a crack about Colon’s weight.)

Mike:

That is the kindest reading, that Colon is a safety net as the next generation of arms continues to mature. An insurance policy. The problem is these owners cannot afford insurance, there is barely enough money to pay for the essentials. If the overall payroll had been bumped to $120 million by now I could look at this in an entirely different light. El Duque was signed to a similar style contract, and his money was not considered an albatross. That is because $6.5 million of a $140 million total is very different from $10 million of a $80 million total. When you consider the overall budget that might exist again in 2015, this signing is hard to fathom. The idea that someone gave Colon two years does not shock me. That it is a team with one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball is hard to justify.

Note: I think Mike might be under-selling the entertainment factor.

Note: I think Mike might be under-selling the entertainment factor.

As for his entertainment value, I don’t see that either. Sure, he is out of shape, and regularly embarrasses himself when he bats. That doesn’t do it for me, I don’t watch the Mets to laugh at them. His actual pitching style, even when effective, is ho-hum. Throw strikes, and hope everything gets caught. It reminds me of another Hernandez, the unexciting Livan. At least El Duque was fun and different on the mound. A funky delivery, and every once in a while the 60 MPH Bugs Bunny curve. He made the opposition the laughingstock, not himself. With all of the young and exciting pitchers in our rotation, I circle the Colon starts as the ones that are fine to miss.

Jimmy:

You look at Billy Beane in Oakland, and once again he drinks Sandy’s milkshake. For almost the exact same contracts, Beane discarded Colon and picked up Scott Kazmir.

  • Colon: 49.1 IP, 2-5 W-L, 5.84 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
  • Kazmir: 51.IP, 5-1 W-L, 2.28 ERA, 0.97 WHIP

Okay, final question: If Bartolo quickly turns his season around, and if he pitches great (along the lines of last season), then does this contract become a good signing? I think, well, yes. It means that Sandy Alderson saw something that most of us didn’t recognize, he thought outside of the box, he went after an undervalued pitcher who helped the Mets win games.

Right?

Mike:

He will have to be very good, very quickly because a decent shortstop or bullpen arm could have helped this team win a lot of games this year.

But there is a bright side for me. As long as the boring Bartolo takes the hill every fifth day I get the chance to catch up on other things.

life is pure adventure

 

 

 

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16 comments

  1. Michael Geus says:

    The statistics for Colon above were from before his solid start this weekend.

  2. Tommy2cat says:

    Colon will be fine. He just needs to keep the ball down & change speed a little more. It’s the team playing behind him that concerns me more.

    Please sign Stephen Drew or trade for Nick Franklin.

    Please trade one of the Youngs and promote Andrew Brown, once and for all.

    Please don’t rush Noah Syndergaard. Give him a full season at AAA.

    2014 is 1983. It’s impatience that has been ownership’s undoing, as much as anything. It’s impatience that led to the insensible Kazmir trade or rash of Omar’s unmeasured FA signings. Simply allow the roster to unfold at a more natural pace – there’s nothing wrong with finding out exactly what we have in our system.

    Best to adopt Frank Cashen’s perspective. Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were acquired via trade of movable assets. Cashen knew what he had and knew what he needed. It’s called perspective.

  3. Eraff says:

    They felt they needed an Innings Anchor—- and signed an old pitcher with a past injury problem and a “MYSTERIOUS” recovery to an Over Market 2 year deal….this is NOT an example of finding an “Undervalued” pitcher.

    I believe Bartolo will pitch under 300 innings for the Mets—- I’ll be surprised if he does more than 250……I’m talking about 2 years. Of course, I’m just guessing…fearing….. I’m stunned that THIS is the guy who they signed to a 20 million dollar 2 year deal.

  4. Eraff says:

    BTW…On Wheeler— I’m “not so impressed”, but This is what young pitchers look like when Big Leaguers get a book on them— unless you’re Bob Feller or Dwight Gooden, etc.

    He needs to stay in the Rotation—take his Hits…. and become what he’s going to become.

    All of the young players and pitchers will face the same thing…almost without exception.

  5. brianb26 says:

    Billy Beane must like dinging the Wilpons because he dangled Art Howe to them too.. You know, the guy who lit up the room…

  6. Reese Kaplan says:

    I hope it’s ERIC Young who is traded because we’ll be rid of the other Young at the end of the year anyway. That way Terry will all of the sudden pencil Lagares into the lineup every day and let him bat leadoff. While he doesn’t have EY’s speed, his OBP is actually better.

  7. One thing to keep in mind, though, is what would Colon’s ERA be if he had middle-infielders who had any range. His ERA, according to calculations on Baseball-Reference.com, should be over a full run lower than it currently is (4.04 vs. 5.34), meaning he’s had some bad luck with balls in play, which I think we can safely attribute at least in part to below-average infield defense. Not saying his signing was a great idea, given their budget issues, but considering the probability that at least one more of their pitchers will get injured this year, and with the likelihood that at least some of his issues can be attributed simply to bad luck, this still might turn out to be a reasonably decent signing after all.

    • I don’t have that data in front of me, but I find the thesis hard to believe. Colon is a fly-ball pitcher, and he’s benefited from plus-defense in the outfield. While I think the Mets infield is shoddy, at best, I don’t feel it has particularly hurt Bartolo. His ERA seems to be the product of 3 very bad games, when he gave up a bunch of HRs and got hit hard. That’s anecdotal, not the result of any real study. Just my sense of what I’ve seen — and believe me, I am critical of the infield defense.

      • Hopefully, things will even out for him, regardless of the infield defense. I could be wrong, but I’d be surprised if he finishes the season with an ERA over 5.00. As you say, take away the debacles in Coors Field and in Anaheim, and that ERA goes down substantially. Also, his strikeout rate is actually better than it was in either of the last two seasons, so that’s encouraging as well (though he does get to face more pitchers now in the N.L.)

  8. IB says:

    At the time, I thought Colon was a good move to bring in some veteran brains and change the clubhouse atmosphere – for whatever that’s really worth. I don’t know. It hasn’t played out yet.

    TC’s weird and weirder press conferences really have Metland in an uproar. Baffling to say the least. It feels like it’s getting awfully close to Storm the Bastille time. Kinda fun.

  9. TC has been incoherent and inconsistent with his logic. The stuff on Tejada is just nuts. He’s not making much sense, daily.

  10. Patrick Boegel says:

    The only logic behind Collins lack of logic is that he wants to be fired. Why else would someone say the things he says, then do the things he does. He is a loon in that regard.

  11. Eraff says:

    Ok…I’m gonna say it… I miss The Two Guys!

  12. […] Mike and I actually discussed the Bartolo Colon situation at some length a while back, and I think much of what we wrote then still stands up today. Click here to read “The Elephant in the Room.” […]

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