The Mets have taken on the persona of a team in turmoil; on the SNY pregame broadcast last night, Keith Hernandez practically started emergency sirens and sprinted away to dry land, to freedom, to higher ground. "This clubhouse is imploding," Hernandez said. Oh, the Mets clubhouse is always imploding. Give us something we can use, Keith. Here's what he should have said: Francisco Rodriguez's punch of his father-in-law, which tore a ligament in his thumb and will cost him the rest of his season, is the best thing that's happened to the team in weeks.
Sure, it's a public-relations hit — and it's not like the Mets should make a habit out of punching in-laws in the face — but what isn't a public-relations hit with the Mets these days? What really matters is that the Mets might be able to get out from underneath K-Rod's contract. Fangraphs has the details:
Thanks to the torn ligament in Rodriguez's hand resulting from the fight, the Mets may attempt to void the remainder of Rodriguez's contract, which calls for a guaranteed $15 million and another $14M if Rodriguez's 2012 option were to vest. ... It's just very, very difficult for a reliever to justify that kind of paycheck, unless he's Mariano Rivera.
Even if the Mets fail in voiding the entirety of the contract, they may dodge a bullet in that 2012 vesting option. The option vests if K-Rod finishes either 55 games in 2011 or 100 games between 2010 and 2011. As Rodriguez finished 46 games in 2010, that means that K-Rod's option will vest if he finishes 54 games in 2011. He still may achieve that mark if he stays with the Mets - he has finished at least 56 games every season since 2005. However, if the Mets' are intent on keeping Rodriguez's option from vesting, they will have a much easier time of it now that Rodriguez is on the shelf for the rest of this season - he was on pace to finish 63 games this season, meaning that he would only need to finish 37 to vest the option, an easy task for any full-time closer.
So let's give Jerry Manuel a little credit: His decision not to use K-Rod, a clear tactical mistake in the short term that led to Rodriguez's outburst, may have saved the Mets $14 million, or even more, down the line. Here's to accidental prudence! Not that Manuel will be here to appreciate it. Oh, and forget moral high ground: Just get rid of the feller already!