Experienced youth is treasured by baseball teams.
Francisco Rodriguez will be 27 years old by the start of the 2009 baseball season, and he has already acquired 208 career saves—note that he has only been a full-time closer for five seasons and recorded over 40 saves in each of those seasons.
As soon as the Mets found out that Billy Wagner would be out for all of 2009, rumors about Omar Minaya signing K-Rod swept through the streets of New York City.
Signing a closer to a multi-year deal was necessary because Wagner spoke about retiring due to age and his injury. The free agent market sported a handful of closers, but Rodriguez was the most reliable of the group.
K-Rod broke the single-season saves record with 62 saves in 2008. Of course, he had plenty of opportunities, playing on the Angels, but 62 saves is indubitably impressive.
As much as Mets fans do not want to hear this, K-Rod is statistically similar to Wagner. Over the course of their careers, K-Rod has a 2.35 ERA and Wagner has a 2.40 ERA. Both closers strike out 1.3 batters per inning and blow around five saves each year.
The best part of the signing is the age difference.
Adding K-Rod to their shoddy bullpen was the best move for the Mets to begin their offseason with. However, there is more that must be done in order for the Mets to emulate their 2006 season.
First, how will signing K-Rod to a three-year, $37 million deal help if the bullpen cannot hand the game over to him?
The Mets now have a closer, but they lack a setup man. Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith, and especially Aaron Heilman are not good enough to setup for K-Rod.
Smith had the lowest ERA among all Mets relievers—excluding Wagner—with an ERA of 3.55 last season.
Unfortunately, there are not any substantial relievers left in the free agent pool. Chad Cordero and Brian Fuentes are still available, but neither will accept an offer that does not involve them as the team's closer.
According to ESPN, the Mets will have Brandon Knight and Jonathon Niese as their fourth and fifth starters this season.
Knight is 33 years old, but has only started two games in his entire career—both were last season—and has not done anything impressive.
Niese is only 22 years old and had one incredible start last season—he went eight shutout innings against the Braves—but he also had two abysmal appearances. Considering he is young, he may be able to build on his positives, but he will probably be inconsistent this season.
Johan is Johan.
John Maine and Mike Pelfrey got the job done last season but, other than some spectacular stretches, were mundane.
The offense is one of the best in the National League, but the lack of a solid pitching rotation and better relief will hinder the Mets' ability to win games in 2009.
In order to be competitive, win games, and get K-Rod save opportunities, the Mets still need another starter and a good reliever. Theoretically, Minaya can still bring Oliver Perez back; however, if he doesn't, he may need to sacrifice some offense in order to obtain a starter and reliever.