‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Anybody who has watched the Mets lately knows they sorely need bullpen help.
How they get it is a major question. And perhaps a bigger question is, where SHOULD they get it from?
The question is asked because Francisco Rodriguez’s name has come up over the past few days as a potential trade target. Mets fans will remember his days in a Mets uniform, or more accurately, his last full season of 2010.
Not because of anything he did on the field, but for what he did off the field. Like belting out his girlfriend’s father after an Aug. 11, 2010 game at Citi Field. The visual of K-Rod being led out of the stadium in handcuffs remains a lasting impression not just for Mets fans, but apparently for a few of his former teammates, too.
Just yesterday, a couple of unnamed Mets veterans came out in the Daily News against the concept of re-acquiring Rodriguez for legitimate reasons. One said a right-handed bat inserted into a batting order that looks all but helpless against left-handed pitchers right now would be more important than getting Milwaukee’s current setup man and his 1-4, 4.06 stats.
The other basically said, “Who needs the aggravation?”
That, too, is fair enough.
But that last part is exactly why general manager Sandy Alderson should not strike K-Rod’s name from the list of potential moves.
When it comes right down to it, Rodriguez can help. With Frank Francisco on the DL right now, the Mets don’t have a bona fide closer. And let’s face it, Francisco is a major tightrope walker when healthy. Like most relievers not named Mariano Rivera, he’s hardly automatic.
Not that Rodriguez is, either. Or was. But he did save 35 games for the Mets in 2009, his first year here after seven years and 208 saves with the Angels. He probably would have saved as many in 2010 had busting up his girlfriend’s father’s face not cost him the torn thumb ligaments that shelved him the rest of that season. And that doesn’t take into account the the legal and public relations mess that came out of the incident.
The issue Alderson will have to weigh is whether lasting memories of Rodriguez’ off-field action will affect a delicate clubhouse chemistry that has kept this overachieving Mets team together so far. There is little doubt that the 30-year-old right-hander can still save games for the Mets. And putting Francisco in a setup role for the remainder of the season would give the pen some much-needed depth.
Then again, the veteran who claimed a right-handed bat would be more valuable also had a point. The team’s .244 BA against left-handers ranks the Mets 19th in the majors, 22 points below their 11th-ranked .266 mark against right-handers. And is it any surprise that 44 of their 25th-ranked 67 homers have come against righties?
Still, the Mets aren’t losing games because they’re not hitting home runs. They are losing games because of ineffective relief pitching.
Whether Rodriguez can remedy that issue is a tough question that Alderson must mull cautiously and thoroughly if, indeed, he does have the former Met on his trade list.
Even if Rodriguez comes at a bargain price, and the Mets could probably get him for cash and some very minor prospects at this point, anything less than full acceptance of him in the clubhouse could create a headache neither the young team nor Terry Collins needs at this point.
K-Rod to the Mets — good idea or bad? Make your case in the comments below!