By Jason Keidel
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It’s the little things, right?
Those microscopic moments that seem to wear on you worse than the major moments. The train pulling out just as you gallop into the station. The body odor wafting across the subway car. The speeding taxi splashing gallons of slush onto your legs.
The Mets letting Bartolo Colon walk. For no reason. To Atlanta.
This wasn’t a personnel move. The Mets didn’t need to surrender any players to keep the ageless, chubby, cherubic wonder. Colon, the Swiss Army knife of MLB pitchers, is the perfect pitcher for any rotation, especially one as young, gifted and turbulent as the Mets’ starting staff. Already we’re hearing about a blister on Noah Syndergaard’s pitching hand. We hear about Steven Matz already missing a month before his season begins. We have Matt Harvey, who has gone from the Dark Knight of Gotham to Robin’s sidekick.
While it warmed the heart — and even seemed to startle the unflappable Colon — to see the throaty masses welcome “Big Sexy” home with a standing ovation. But they also had to be internally cursing the front office for such a boneheaded move.
The Mets let $5 million — well, $5.25 million, to be precise — dictate the back end of their rotation. Colon made $7.25 million last year in Queens, and now makes $12.5 million in Atlanta. There’s no shortage of shortsightedness in club history. And while this hardly rivals trading Tom Seaver in the ’70s, there’s just no reason, no fact or extrapolation of fact that would explain this move.
Syndergaard misses a start? Throw Colon. Matz misses a month? Bartolo’s got your back. Need some long relief? Splash on some Colon. Sure, he’s an athletic anomaly. When you look at his width, the rotund righty should not be pitching like this, especially six weeks from his 44th birthday. Nolan Ryan was blowing gas in his mid-40s. But not only was Ryan a freak, he was never fat.
Forgive the ’70s reference, but Colon is a pitching Weeble — he wobbles but doesn’t fall down. Maybe the Mets thought this was the year Colon would finally surrender to age, physics and logic. Then they saw him in Wednesday night’s 3-1 loss. Six innings. Two hits. One walk. Six strikeouts.
Five million. It sounds surreal to say, “It’s only cash.” But it is. Especially for billion-dollar behemoths like an MLB franchise. The Mets let a fifth starter, long reliever, goofball and good clubhouse presence stroll to a division rival for a few quid.
And Colon really resonated among New Yorkers. Part of that was his renaissance with the Yankees a few years back, when the Bombers grabbed him off the scrap heap and he came alive in the Big Apple. (Bet the Bombers would love to have him now?) And while many pitchers melt under the bright lights of Broadway, Colon blossomed under them.
Then there was the epic homer, the first of his career, and his glacial trot around the bases, while he thundered onto each bag.
Whether it was manager Terry Collins, general manager Sandy Alderson, owner Jeff Wilpon or all three, this was a teamwide failure. Maybe it doesn’t register on the Richter scale of baseball moves, barely a log in the hot stove. But it was also a senseless failure, something so easily remedied.
Cash. The Mets have always been notoriously cheap. But in this case, they are notoriously dumb.
And now they are also 0-1 against Bartolo Colon. Of the Atlanta Braves.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel