MLB Trade Rumors: Why the New York Mets Must Not Re-Acquire Francisco Rodriguez

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2012

DENVER, CO - MAY 12:  Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Just when the New York Mets appear to have turned a corner, a rumor like this emerges to remind everyone that they are still the Mets.

According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Mets are interested in bringing back Francisco Rodriguez to bolster their bullpen.

Yes, the same 30-year-old relief pitcher they traded to the Milwaukee Brewers last year after he posted a 1.41 WHIP in 42.2 innings with the Amazins that year. And yes, the same guy who was charged with assault after a clubhouse incident with his father-in-law in 2010.

After an underwhelming three-year tenure in New York, the Mets would be crazy to haul K-Rod back to Citi Field.

Have they called the Seattle Mariners about Oliver Perez yet? I wonder what Braden Looper and Armando Benitez are up to these days.

While Rodriguez ranked as one of baseball’s premier closers during his prime with the Los Angeles Angels, his golden years are gone. Now, Rodriguez is an erratic pitcher who often creates more trouble than he can fix.

This season, Rodriguez holds a 4.00 ERA with a 1.47 WHIP in 36 innings pitched for the Brewers. No longer living up to his nickname, Rodriguez’s K/9 ratio has sunk to a career-low 8.0. Meanwhile, he still struggles to avoid handing out free passes. Rodriguez has walked 15 batters already, which is a recipe for disaster.

Nothing represents the opposite of Moneyball more than acquiring a big-name, overpriced relief pitcher whose perceived value stems from accumulating saves. Rodriguez’ past experience in the ninth inning does not make him a superior option to middle relievers with better numbers.

So why would general manager Sandy Alderson, who mentored Billy Beane, consider such a foolish move? Their desperation for some quality arms in the final innings cannot cause a trade the franchise will regret down the road.

For the Mets to continue their unlikely playoff run, they need to fix their bullpen, which ranks last in baseball with a 4.93 ERA. Besides Bobby Parnell and left-handed specialist Tim Byrdak, their entire relief corps has disappointed.

Acquiring a guy like Rodriguez, however, is not the answer. The Mets should seek Matt Belisle, Jared Burton, Luke Gregerson and other unheralded relievers. Maybe even take a flyer on Brad Lidge.

And if they really want to obtain a top-shelf reliever, they should target Huston Street from the San Diego Padres. While Street would cost a decent prospect or two and often fights the injury bug, he can at least provide the Mets with a top arm. In 21 innings pitched this year, Street sports a sparkling 1.29 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and a 4.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

Even for Street, the Mets should pass if it means parting ways with a blue-chip prospect. They have exceeded the wildest of expectations this year, but they need to establish a top-notch farm system that will allow them continued success.

Their bullpen must improve, but relief pitchers are far too fickle to warrant gambling the future away. Remember when Lidge was the best closer in baseball?

Also, they can find lightning in a bottle at a much cheaper rate. In 2006, they claimed Guillermo Mota off waivers, and he allowed only two runs in 18 innings down the stretch. Big name relievers frequently fall off the map one season and re-surface two seasons later.

Bringing back Rodriguez will remind Mets fans of a painful period of baseball that the franchise has worked so hard to put in the past. Their current squad is easy to rally behind because it consists of an array of home-grown talent. An unstable, highly-paid relief pitcher is the last thing the Mets need.