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?
Oh yes, I can’t put lipstick on that pig. The Colon contract has been hard for me to digest 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.
Yikes, an exploding pig. Ham, ham everywhere, but nary a sandwich to eat.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.