New York Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez, often referred to as ‘K-Rod’, has a torn ligament in the thumb on his pitching hand, which resulted from the altercation he had last week with the father of his common law wife. The injury will require season ending surgery, and very well might signal the end of K-Rod’s Mets’ career.
The injury brings up an interesting situation for the Mets, and while they would never say it, it could end up being a blessing in disguise.. K-Rod is under contract for 2011, and has a clause in his contract that says if he finishes a total of one hundred games between this year and next, he gets an additional year for 2012 for a whopping $17.5 million in salary. Clearly, this is much more than the Mets would want to pay any closer. The contract with him was signed during a different economic time and before K-Rod’s off the field problems became a serious issue for the team.
K-Rod finished 45 games so far this year, so getting to a total of 100 closes by finishing at least 55 next year is not out of the realm of possibility. But given the very negative public reaction to the incident over the weekend, for which K-Rod was arrested for assaulting his common law wife’s father, may give the Mets the incentive to simply trade him, and potentially even question the validity of his contract, since his season ending injury was sustained as the result of an assault.
While the Mets realistically fell out of contention a couple of weeks ago, in many ways, the announcement of K-Rod’s season ending injury is the symbolic end of their season. Ironically, K-Rod was actually one of the Mets’ few bright spots this year, as he has a 2.20 ERA with 25 saves. But even the best closer in the world (Mariano Rivera), would make little difference to a team such as the Mets, who have struggled offensively and is clearly out of the pennant race at this point.
It will be very interesting to watch the Mets’ next move. The team could simply wait for K-Rod to get better and potentially use him less next year than they might otherwise have…fan sentiment will clearly be on the team’s side. The fans booed K-rod lustily in his only post-arrest appearance following a two game suspension last week.
While it would be overly cynical to suggest that Mets management was hoping for an injury such as this, it would seem likely that as the team projects its payroll for next year and prepares to make personnel decisions, K-Rod’s season ending thumb injury hasn’t exactly added to the franchise’s problems.
Source: Joel Sherman, “3UP: Jeter, K-Rod and Francoeur”, nypost.com
Source: Dan Martin, “K-Rod Has Torn Ligament in Thumb, Surgery Planned”, nypost.com