For a good portion of 2008, the members of the Mets bullpen treated both the fans and the team in a way that can only be described as awful.
The failures of the bullpen were largely responsible for the hugely talented Mets missing the playoffs. Forget the National League, the Mets had one of the most talented rosters in all of Major League Baseball.
When Bill Wagner was severely injured, Luis Ayala was brought in from the Washington Nationals. Instead of igniting the flagging pen, his ineptitude led to another September flame-out for the Mets.
The huge pre-season acquisition of Johan Santana ended up not paying off (for now anyway), and the season—the last at storied Shea Stadium—was deemed to be a massive failure as a result.
So what's the solution?
The Mets have thrown $38 million at the problem though in an attempt to stop the bleeding once and for all.
Francisco Rodriguez, meet New York. New York, this is Francisco Rodriguez.
Over the next three years, one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball will be a Met.
Rodriguez is the record-holder for the most saves in a season, which he set last season with an astounding 62 saves.
The new record blew away the old mark of 57 that was set by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990.
The addition of makes the Mets bullpen legit, once again.
Gone now are all of the questions, at least in the role of closer.
Rodriguez, with his unhittable curve ball, and his other assortment of incredible pitches, instantly makes the Mets a contender.
In an off-season where their arch rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, won the World Series in five games over the Tampa Bay Rays,something big had to be done.
The Mets stepped up to the plate, and nailed one out of the ballpark.
Yes, this team has thrown money at problems before, and has not had it work out for them, but this move is almost fail-proof.
Since he was named the Angels closer years ago, Rodriguez has been one of the most dominant closers in the game of baseball.
Saving over 200 games in his career up to this point, the Angels won a World Series because of his efforts early in his career, and were in the playoffs more often than not because of his nailing the door shut in the ninth inning.
K-Rod is now a Met, and as a long as the rest of the bullpen can get the ball to him with leads, this team will be very hard to beat in the last inning of games.
The Mets went out and got not only one of the best free agents on the market, they got a pitcher who just came off of his best season.
They also got a pitcher who is in his prime.
In addition, Rodriguez's loud demeanor should fit in well with the personalities that are on the Mets almost ensuring the he is bound to flourish in New York.
In a season with a new ballpark opening up, the Mets gave their fans something even more important.
They gave their fans peace of mind that leads late in games will not be thrown away like they were last year.
As long as all goes well, which it should with K-Rod, for the next three years, a problem area of this team has been solved.
His impact will be huge.
At the same time though, the Mets cannot stop here.
They must continue to get more arms for the bullpen.
In addition, they must assess who they want to keep from the bullpen last year, and they have to make the right decisions here.
They did not do this last year, and as a result, they missed out on the postseason once again.
If the Mets make the right calls here, the bullpen issues will be solved once and for all.
Instead of fans having brown bags nearby next season, they will be looking forward to many more victories instead.
With the skill players, and the starting pitching, which can still be improved at least a little bit, as long as everyone does their part, this team will be very hard to beat next season.
As long as injuries do not destroy this club, and as long as manager Jerry Manuel pushes the right buttons, the playoffs should be in the cards for the Mets next season.
How far they will go though depends on all of these factors.
K-Rod alone may get the Mets into the playoffs next season.
If the Mets had him last year, who knows, maybe they would have been celebrating instead of the Phillies.
Everything happens for a reason, though. The team was not complete.
The team still has to be worked on a little more, and if it is, the sky is the limit for this club.
This much remains certain though:with K-Rod as the closer, a huge problem area for this team was solved.
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