How To Solve The Closer Issue, Without Signing K-Rod

Bill YadlonContributor INovember 8, 2008

Its typical of fans of a big market team to want to solve all of their issues in the off season by throwing a blank check at a top free agent. Thus is the case with the New York Mets this year.

After a second late September collapse in as many years, the brunt of the blame fell of the teams abysmal bullpen. With star closer, Billy Wagner out for this season, and possibly for his career, the Mets are in desperate need of not only significant bullpen help, but a guy to close out wins in the ninth. 

This year the big guy everyone wants is single season saves record holder, Francisco Rodriguez. There is no denying K-Rod's talent and ability, as he has proven himself as a great closer and is still very young. But you have to expect he will want a monster contract. The assumed total is expected to be somewhere near five years and $75 million.

Do you really want to have to pay a relief pitcher 15 million a year? The Mets do have a limit, and despite most fans desire for them to spend like the Yankees, the Wilpons have expressed a desire to cutback costs or at least keep the payroll where it is now. 

I believe giving one man in the bullpen who will only pitch 5 percent of your innings, if your lucky, $15 million is a mistake. And despite the inevitable chastising I will receive for this comment, I do not think K-Rod is that good, at least not 15 million per year good.

His WHIP is a little higher than you would like for a closer at 1.29. His ERA has been a little higher in recent years at 2.81 and 2.24. You'd prefer more of a sub 2 ERA for a top payed closer.

His emotions run high, and although he does have a World Series ring, hasn't been very good in big games, not to mention the playoffs this past year.

So if K-Rod is not the answer, who is? Creative people suggest Brian Fuentes. He is not a bad pitcher, and would probably benefit from getting out of Coors Field. However, I still do not believe he is worth the type of money he wants. 

Lets take a look at some more creative closer options for the Mets to potentially pursue.


Huston Street - Oakland

I have always liked Street, and felt he would bounce back this season. He had his confidence rattled early and lost his job mid-season, which means his value is relatively low.

I'm sure a deal can be worked out with Mr. Beane involving some low level prospects, and maybe a major league ready starter.

Of course you will have to live with the fact that Billy Beane will probably turn whoever you trade into an eventual All-Star. But Oakland has not hesitated to trade in recent years, and might be looking to dump Street, who could benefit from a change of scenery and a guaranteed closer job.


Chad Cordero - Washington

Often overlooked because of how few chances he gets on a bad Washington team, Cordero would make a great option.

Even though he is coming off a shoulder injury, I think he is a worth the flyer in maybe a short contract. Cordero would probably like to be reunited with the man who originally drafted him in Montreal in Omar Minaya, and might be open to playing for the Mets who already have a strong established Latino culture.

Coming off an injury, Cordero should be cheaper than he normally would be and could be a good option.


JJ Putz - Seattle

How the mighty have fallen. Arguably the top closer in 2007, he was less than impressive in 2008. But then again so was all of Seattle. You'd have to think that coming off a horrible season, Seattle is definitely looking to dump some players and rebuild.

Putz is another one of those proven guys whose value is very low at the moment, and can be had for a decent price. No one can deny he has the ability, and being only 32 by opening day helps.


With other, cheaper options out there, I see no need to give Francisco Rodriguez $15 million. He is of course a better pitcher than the three other options I mentioned, but I think that money can be better spent on a starting pitcher, second baseman, or corner outfielder.

Besides, if the Phillies proved anything this year, its that you can strike gold, by just giving a guy with proven closer talent, a change of scenery.