New York Mets: Will Closer Francisco Rodriguez Finish 55 Games?

Sammy Makki@sammymetsfanAnalyst IMarch 3, 2011

Everyone knows by now that New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez has a huge team option for 2012.

It's worth $17.5 million and only becomes guaranteed if Rodriguez finishes 55 games this season and is declared healthy by doctors in the offseason.

That may have not sounded like a big deal prior to last season and was most likely a given when he first signed on, but times have changed.

Since Rodriguez has been with the Mets, in two seasons, he's performed well on the field—although he's never a given trying to close out games—but he hasn't controlled his temper on or off the field.

Even before last season's postgame incident in the Citi Field family room, Rodriguez has shown that he can lose it at any moment. He's gotten into fights with opposing players and even got into it with former bullpen coach Randy Niemann.

On the field, Rodriguez was having a pretty good 2010 season before shutting it down in August.

His final numbers were solid, as he allowed only 45 hits in 57.1 innings pitched and his ERA was a stellar 2.20.

He ended up saving 25 games, but also had his usual moments of inconsistency.

While the Mets were on the brink of completely falling out of the playoff race in mid-August, Rodriguez punched his girlfriend's father after a game at Citi Field and only had one more appearance.

He tore a ligament in his thumb during the fight and got into a whole legal situation.

Now, Rodriguez still can't appear in a Mets spring training game because whenever he's scheduled to pitch, he has another court hearing in New York. That happened on Wednesday morning, so the Mets are still waiting to see what he can do on the mound returning from disgrace. 

This whole saga brings up the big question: Will Rodriguez finish 55 games for the Mets this season?

It's up for debate and can't be answered with certainty yet. There will be a few factors in deciding whether or not the 2012 option will kick in.

First of all, will the Mets still be in the race come the trading deadline?

If not and if Rodriguez is pitching well along with being healthy, can the Mets get anything for him? They could probably look to get some kind of fourth starter or bat, but that would probably be it.

If they are in the race in late July, that would be the trickiest situation.

Obviously, with the Mets winning games, Rodriguez would be on his way to appearing in at least 55 games. No team, you'd think, would trade their closer straight-up for Rodriguez, so maybe trading him in the race would be a bad thing.

No current Mets reliever could be relied on to close games other than Rodriguez.

The one that has the stuff to do it, but hasn't been able to when given the opportunity is Bobby Parnell. The Mets right-handed setup man has an electric fastball and some nasty breaking stuff, but has blown the majority of games he's been asked to save in his young career.

The Mets wouldn't sacrifice a good season in the position they're in by trading away their closer without a replacement.

Of course, there's always the other possibility—that no matter how the Mets are doing, they'd find an injury to shut him down before the 55-game plateau is reached.

It's very hard these days to "find" an injury and it wouldn't go over with the players union too well, but if the Mets really want no part of Rodriguez in 2012, that would be a direction they could go in.

With all of Rodriguez's troubles concerning a bad temper and whatnot, none of this would've been an issue if he hadn't decked his girlfriend's father.

Now it's up to the Mets to handle the situation the right way.

Perhaps he'll pitch so well that they'll forgive what he did and bring him back. There's no way to tell right now what will happen.

The first step is to have Rodriguez make a spring training appearance. Then starting in April, we'll see what happens to Rodriguez and his future with the Mets.


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