Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for September, 2010

Another Season Ended

Posted by JD on September 19, 2010

Luis Hernandez fouled a pitch off his foot yesterday, then proceeded to hit a home run on the very next pitch. Think about that for a second. This is a guy who, prior to September 3rd, had hit just one home run in 233 major league at bats. A guy who managed just 17 home runs in 3,026 at-bats over nine minor league seasons (0.56 home runs per at-bat). The fact that he hit one off of Tim Hudson is amazing in and of itself, but when you throw in a broken foot it becomes absolutely unbelievable. I’m sure adrenaline played a large part in it (adrenaline that, judging from the pictures I linked to above, looks like it wore off immediately after his first step out of the batter’s box) but, at least in this fan’s mind, that home run will go down as one of the most amazing moments in an otherwise lost season (think Dae Sung Koo’s double off of Randy Johnson).

That being said, this season-ending injury is for the best. I hate seeing players injured, even those I don’t care for. Bench them, cut them, waive them: by all means, please remove ineffective players immediately. But the Mets’ failure to make any of those moves with Hernandez, combined with Jerry Manuel’s insistence on playing him, means that this was pretty much the only way that Ruben Tejada was going to earn the lion’s share of playing time at second base. I’m sorry that it came down to that, but at least Tejada will get a better chance to show us all that he can contribute at this level.

The Mets have been out of the race for weeks now: there was no reason to play Hernandez over Tejada*. The fact that a slam dunk roster move was decided by a season-ending injury is ridiculous and insulting. There’s eight games left at Citi Field and I have plans to attend seven of them, but I’m doing so hoping that next season we have a manager that can fill out a line-up call rationally.

*Actually, there’s NEVER a reason to play Hernandez over Tejada.

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jerry Manuel, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What K-Rod’s Future May Hold

Posted by JD on September 14, 2010

Word came today that Francisco Rodriguez will face an additional charge of contempt for violating an order of protection obtained by his girlfriend, Daian Pena. He allegedly texted her 56 times after the order was granted (the Post apparently has some of the texts) and is due in court again today. Given this new development, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the charges facing Rodriguez and see what sentences they carry. Just to make it absolutely clear: I’m not a lawyer (though I did take the LSAT) and the interpretation below is mine alone.

Rodriguez was originally charged with assault in the third degree (a class-A misdemeanor) and harassment in the second degree (a violation). The new charge of criminal contempt is also a class-A misdemeanor. In New York State, class-A misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of one year and violations carry a maximum sentence of 15 days. As a result, if found guilty of all three charges Rodriguez may receive a sentence of two years and 15 days.

New York law allows the court to impose lesser sentences if “having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history and character of the defendant, finds on the record that such sentence would be unduly harsh and that the alternative sentence would be consistent with public safety and does not deprecate the seriousness of the crime”. Rodriguez has no prior criminal record, so there’s a good chance that he’ll receive a reduced sentence. However, given how a New York court treated former NY Giants receiver Plaxico Burress after he shot himself in the pants, Rodriguez has every reason to fear the worst.

UPDATE: Looks like Rodriguez caught a break today when a Queens Supreme Court Judge Robert Raciti declined to jail him for violating a protection order. The original charges of assault and harassment will be addressed in an October 7th hearing. This means that the maximum sentence will be limited to one year and 15 days (as I understand it) unless Rodriguez violates the order of protection again.

Posted in Francisco Rodriguez, Mets | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The March to Vesting

Posted by JD on September 6, 2010

Alex Cora’s vesting $2 million option was rightfully bashed in every corner of the Mets blogosphere (including here, to pick one post among many). We don’t have to worry about it now that he’s gone, but there’s another, more ominous vesting option looming in 2011: Francisco Rodriguez’ $17.5 million 2012  option. From Cot’s Baseball Contracts (scroll down):

  • 2012 option becomes guaranteed with:
    • 55 games finished in 2011, and
    • 100 games finished in 2010-11, and
    • doctors declare Rodriguez healthy after 2011

For the record, the Games Finished (GF) stat is as obvious as it sounds: it does not require the pitcher to earn a save, he merely has to record the final out of the ballgame. Before his infamous altercation in the Mets’ family room ended his season, Rodriguez recorded 46 GF. That means K-Rod has to finish at least 64 games (and be “declared healthy” after the season, whatever that means) to see his $17.5 million option become guaranteed.

Sounds like a lot, right? Not really. He finished 66 games last year and 69 the year before. In fact, counting his shortened 2010 season, he’s averaged about 59 GF over the last six seasons. There’s every reason to believe that, if his hand heals properly this offseason (which it most likely will), he’ll finish enough games next year to at least get very, very close to vesting that option.

On top of that, while the Mets are obligated to pay K-Rod $11.5 million next season, his contract contains a “poison pill”: performance bonuses that vest based on Games Finished. He’ll receive $150,000 for finishing 50 and 55 games, and $200,000 for finishing 60 games (for a total of $500,000). I find it ironic that Jeff Wilpon will have to write out checks to K-Rod as he inches closer and closer to cashing in on that $17.5 million option.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself: “Big deal, the Mets are going to dump him this offseason anyway”. Sorry to break this to you, but probably not. The MLB Players Association is going to fight the Mets every step of the way: they’ve already filed a grievance on Rodriguez’ behalf, contesting the Mets’ move to make the contract non-guaranteed (this would allow the Mets to avoid paying K-Rod for the remainder of the 2010 season). The grievance will go before an arbitrator in October and the MLBPA stands a decent chance of winning. At the very least, it signals that the Mets can count on fierce resistance from the union from this point on if they try to alter Rodriguez’ contract in any way.

But wait, there’s more! K-Rod has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 10 teams. I can’t tell which teams are on the list, but that’s one-third of the league. The no-trade could seriously limit the market for K-Rod, which almost ensures that the Mets will have to include a serious amount of cash to make a trade happen. Don’t forget that everyone’s favorite roster-filler, Oliver Perez, will be making $12 million next season, too. If the Mets do succeed in moving Rodriguez, I can guarantee you right now that they won’t spend the cash to move Perez, too. What strange bedfellows stupid MLB contracts make: because of that titanic contract option, I have to say that keeping Perez and moving Rodriguez is the smart move. I didn’t think there’d ever be an argument for holding Perez, but the Mets’ management might have one there. Sigh.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you (and applaud your fortitude). Here comes your payoff. You may ask yourself, is $17.5 million really too much to pay for an above-average closer? Well, yes. It’s a stupid amount to pay. Here’s why: let’s assume the 2012 Mets play 162 games (no playoffs, no games lost to weather). That translates to roughly 1,458 innings (I’m not going to try to factor in extra-inning or rain-shortened games). That means that the 2012 Mets pitchers will record 4,374 outs. In his eight full seasons, Rodriguez has averaged about 71 1/3 innings pitched per season. Let’s be generous and assume that he’ll pitch 72 innings in 2012, which would be his highest total since 2006. 72 innings pitched equals 216 outs recorded. 216 divided by 4,374 equals 0.0494. Translation? Your $17.5 million dollar closer is going to record slightly less than 5% of the team’s outs.

Let me rephrase that: if his option vests, the Mets are going to pay Francisco Rodriguez approximately $81,019 per out. What’s more, he’ll get a $1 million dollar performance bonus if he finishes 60 games that year that will raise that number to a nifty $85,648. Astounding.

Say what you want about the contracts of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, or Luis Castillo: I maintain that the single most important contract to remove is that of Francisco Rodriguez. That vesting option looms as the single biggest waste of money in franchise history. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But if you thought the Mets were handicapped by payroll concerns this season, just wait until 2012.

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I’m putting this below the line because it involves total speculation on my part. The Mets average total payroll over the past three seasons was approximately $137,888,000. I have no way to forecast what it will be in 2012, so let’s just assume it will be about $145 million (again, total shot in the dark). If that’s the case, the Mets will be tying up around 12.75% of their total payroll in a pitcher who will record roughly 5% of their total outs. One-eighth of their total payroll will go to a player who might record 216 outs. Just…wow.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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