Mets Could Win Big on K-Rod Fiasco

On the surface, the Francisco Rodriguez incident seems utterly disastrous for the New York Mets franchise. After a season which started out with playoff possibilities has fallen to below .500 and 10 games out of the NL East in August, the Mets’ problems only appeared to be compounded by losing their closer Francisco Rodriguez, first to a suspension following the now-infamous father-in-law punch-out incident.

Despite the black mark it may put on the organization, this whole incident may turn out to be a major financial boon for the Mets. Thanks to the torn ligament in Rodriguez’s hand resulting from the fight, the Mets may attempt to void the remainder of Rodriguez’s contract, which calls for a guaranteed $15 million and another $14M if Rodriguez’s 2012 option were to vest. That’s quite the cost for a reliever whose FIP over the past three years barely ranks in the top 20 and hasn’t posted a 2.5 WAR season since 2006. That doesn’t mean that Rodriguez isn’t a good pitcher – he’s a strikeout machine and is projected to have a FIP under 3.00. It’s just very, very difficult for a reliever to justify that kind of paycheck, unless he’s Mariano Rivera.

Even if the Mets fail in voiding the entirety of the contract, they may dodge a bullet in that 2012 vesting option. The option vests if K-Rod finishes either 55 games in 2011 or 100 games between 2010 and 2011. As Rodriguez finished 46 games in 2010, that means that K-Rod’s option will vest if he finishes 54 games in 2011. He still may achieve that mark if he stays with the Mets – he has finished at least 56 games every season since 2005. However, if the Mets’ are intent on keeping Rodriguez’s option from vesting, they will have a much easier time of it now that Rodriguez is on the shelf for the rest of this season – he was on pace to finish 63 games this season, meaning that he would only need to finish 37 to vest the option, an easy task for any full-time closer.

Francisco Rodriguez is a very good closer, but it was hard to imagine his contract being worth the money when he signed it. The 2012 vesting option looked especially dangerous, but thanks to Rodriguez’s stupidity and rash actions, the Mets may be able to get out from under that financial burden. Remarkably, it’s possible that they may even wiggle their way out from under the guaranteed 2011 season. If the Mets manage to void Rodriguez’s contract, it would be a major coup for both the Wilpons and GM Omar Minaya.

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29 Responses to “Mets Could Win Big on K-Rod Fiasco”

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  1. Preston says:

    As Craig Calcaterra notes (, the chances of voiding the entire contract are somewhere between slim and none.

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  2. CajoleJuice says:

    I believe BOTH milestones need to be hit. In the context of your analysis, it actually makes it easier for the Mets to avoid vesting of the option (since he needs 55 instead of 54 games finished next year), but I wanted to point it out.

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    • supermets says:

      This is correct. He needs 55 GF next year for his option to vest regardless of how many he has (above 45) this year.

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      • acerimusdux says:

        Correct, in other words the Mets really can’t win anything at all here, unless K-Rod is not healthy by next season. Additional games finished this year would have cost the Mets nothing.

        OK, maybe they gain a higher draft pick next year. But that assumes Takahashi won’t do a better job closing than K-Rod.

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    • fanofdefenseagain says:

      Even if they could void the contract, it wouldn’t be much of a coup for the Mets since…they are the Mets.

      Who here believes that they won’t go out and overpay for another closer? Maybe not to the same extent as they have in this case, but some terrible move is inevitable.

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  3. Dan says:

    As CajoleJuice points out, it’s an “AND” not an “OR.”

    The more interesting question, of course, is whether the Mets can void any part of the contract, including the remainder of 2010 only.

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  4. The A Team says:

    The vesting option was the first thing I thought of. If he stayed healthy it was an easy enough target for him to hit.

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  5. tylerv says:

    A man life shouldn’t be ruined because he beat the crap out of some dickhead guest. Oh sorry, wrong website. Go Mets.

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    • Jason B says:

      Pretty sure he’s made enough in his career that with even the barest of financial planning or investing acumen, having the remainder of his contract voided shouldn’t be ‘ruinous’.

      (Not that it’s going to happen.)

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  6. NM says:

    There is no chance the entire remaining contract is voided. If anything, hopefully this just helps with making that silly vesting option a bit more difficult.

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  7. Mike says:

    The Mets know there’s no chance of this working. I can only hope the goal here is to further embarrass K-Rod publicly, which is something we can all appreciate.

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  8. tdotsports1 says:

    This guy is a failure at life…

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  9. Franco says:

    Just curious, what would be the grounds for breaking the contract in 2011? Is there a morality clause or something?

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  10. Stu says:

    Takahashi looked good tonight locking things down

    K-Rod was a disaster from day for the Mets

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    • Jason B says:

      2009: 35 sv, 112 ERA+, 1.31 WHIP, 0.2 WAR
      2010: 25 sv, 184 ERA+, 1.15 WHIP, 2.2 WAR


      The best allocation of resources/dollars? Not at all.

      A “disaster from day one”? Not by any conceivable stretch of the imagination.

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  11. moebius says:

    Papelbon to Queens? Since the Mets need to find SOME way to screw this up.

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  12. joe says:

    Need to stop with this dependence on WAR…. WAR (and FIP) are predictors, not actual measurements of past value.

    After a 6ER, 7.1 inning performance last night, Cliff Lee gained ~0.5 WAR (because no runs came via HR and he only walked 1guy).

    For those keeping score at home Cliff Lee’s WAR had gone up nearly 1 win over his last 2 outings… that would be 2 outings where he gave up 10ER in 15 innings. Are the Rangers really 1 win better over Lee’s last 2 outings?

    Sure you can blame some of it on defense, some on luck… but this is exactly why WAR, which is meant as a predictor of FUTURE performance should not be used as a measurement of past performance….it’s as if Lee’s 10ER don’t exist because he only walked 1 guy and didn’t give up a HR.

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    • Mike says:

      ” WAR (and FIP) are predictors, not actual measurements of past value.”

      According to who? You can make any stat look silly by looking at a ridiculously small sample size like ONE GAME.

      How about a start where a guy puts 13 runners on base, gives up several line drive outs, in addition to having more walks than strikeouts-, but gives up zero runs. His ERA for that games is 0.00.

      I guess ERA is not an actual measurement of past value either, huh.

      So, which team are you a fan of that has a pitcher with a good ERA and bad FIP this year?

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      • TFINY says:

        Hey, lets be fair now. He pointed out two games. That’s twice the sample size you gave him credit for!

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      • BobLoblaw says:

        Question: If we plugged in Lee’s numbers from his last game 30 times to represent a whole season, what would his WAR be for that season? 15?

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      • Sockmonkey says:

        It may not be exactly true that WAR is more of a predictor than a measurement, but it’s an important point that he’s trying to make. When we make adjustments to the actual performance, we’re saying something like “If Cliff Lee pitched a game the same way 1000 times, he’s likely to add X WAR, on average. ”

        So, it has sample size issues, and sample size issues are real and not to be ignored. Cliff Lee’s a good example of that. The fact that it happens all the time doesn’t mean it’s not a problem for analysts.

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      • joe says:

        Exactly… WAR (specifically for pitchers) is intended to mean if he maintains this strike out rate, walk rate, HR rate we should expect (on average) for him to be X wins above a replacement level player. It is a model, it is not a measurement of past performance.

        The problem is this modeling has been converted into player Z HAS been X wins better than replacement level based solely on BB, K, HR rates and ignoring all other balls put in play.

        Cliff Lee has given up 4 or more ER in 4 of his 8 starts with Texas… it is perfectly fine to call some of this luck, variation, bad defense and say if he continues to pitch the way he does he SHOULD give up fewer runs and be more valuable to the Rangers going forward. But the bottom line is WAR is not saying he HAS been that valuable it’s saying under average circumstances he SHOULD HAVE been that valuable.

        This is not about sample size, it’s about using a model that relies on essentially 3 outcomes to predict the future (for which it is a very useful and powerful tool) and misusing it to recreate the past because people are too lazy to actually measure the defensive or luck impact on something that has already occurred.

        @Mike: that start has tremendous value for a team because it is what happened… It also means it is unlikely to continue to be the case moving forward (again this is where the whole ‘predictor’ thing comes in)… The guy gave up 0 runs and that has more value to a team than a guy who gives up 10 ER on 10singles, and racks up 20 K’s (don’t really care if it was luck because it already has happened, you can’t go back and replay the game based on how it ‘should’ have occurred)… What FIP and WAR tell you is that the likelihood of that value re-occurring in the future and that same pitcher has much more limited value moving forward and that’s what I would (appropriately) use WAR for.

        This is no different than taking a stock market model and saying my portfolio has more value than it currently does because an empirical model tells me the price shouldn’t have done what it’s done. The value is the value because it has already happened, regardless of luck, foreign factors, etc… what that same model will be useful for is trying to predict the value of that same portfolio moving forward and how I should allocate things.

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      • bmt24 says:

        WAR can be either predictive or descriptive or both depending on what inputs you use, but arguing about FIP as predictive more than descriptive is slightly misguided. Yes, FIP is excellent as a predictive statistic because of the correlations of its components to scoring and to the repeatability of those components based on pitcher skills, but it’s also descriptive of what the pitcher alone has done. It may not completely capture all that the pitcher is responsible for, but it captures most of what the pitcher is responisble for and is highly correlated with run scoring. ERA isn’t desriptive either; it ignores things that happen as a result of errors.
        When Cliff Lee gives up 6 R on 9 H and 0 HR over 7.2 IP with 10 Ks and 1 BB we can say with confidence that he had a pretty big part of those 10 Ks and 1 BB, but we don’t know about the H. Did he miss his spot and groove a few pitches that allowed the hitters to make better contact or were the fielders out of position or was it just an unlucky distribution of batted balls?
        FIP is descriptive, it’s just only descriptive of things that have been found to be mostly under the pitcher’s control and therefore is a good statistic to describe what a pitcher has done without including that which he may or not be responsible for. Is it a perfect statistic for describing a pitcher’s performance? No, but it’s pretty good and arguably as good as anything else out there and better than many.

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  13. spindoctor says:

    They won’t be able to void the entire contract, but they may be able to get out from paying him until he is back on the playing field. That would be the safer bet, though they may very well get nothing out of this.

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  14. PTS says:

    If this works, the Mets should pay AARP-Rod to get beat up by Ollie P next.

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  15. AB says:

    lol PTS syndrome

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