Getting Rid of Francisco Rodriguez Won't Solve Many Problems

Will Mets try to void contract of volitile reliever?

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010  |  Updated 2:00 PM EDT
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Getting Rid of Francisco Rodriguez Won't Solve Many Problems

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It is hard to imagine many people who didn't immediately think that getting rid of Francisco Rodriguez was the best way to deal with the news that he probably injured his thumb while tuning up the grandfather of his kids.

He's never been particularly popular in the first place, was now a pariah because of his behavior and he's got a lot of money still coming his way over the next two years.

Even more than that, it was a chance for the Mets to show some spine and say that enough is enough. They're mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore! Voiding Rodriguez's contract would be a major PR win after two rough years on that front and it would free up money better used on other positions going forward.

The fact that there will be a furious fight with the players union isn't dissauding anyone from recommending this course of action. It is a fight worth winning because what Rodriguez did was so egregious that it must be dealt with no matter how long or painful the process.

Or was it? 

The biggest problem with this course of action is that the Mets didn't seem particularly preturbed by his behavior in the first place. Jerry Manuel was talking about using him last Thursday after K-Rod spent the night in jail and then he did use him on Saturday night. If his behavior was so unforgiveable, why did it take the Mets so long to decide to consider this course of action?

Because, of course, they didn't know he was hurt until Monday. The key argument to any attempt to voiding the contract is that Rodriguez got hurt doing something outside the behavior allowed under his contract. The thing is, the Mets have already said they have absolutely no problem with what K-Rod did based on their decision to pitch him on Saturday.

Assuming they can prove he got hurt while beating up an older gentleman, the Mets would be totally justified in arguing that they shouldn't owe him a dime for the rest of the season. That one game is going to make it much more difficult for the Mets to prove exactly how Rodriguez injured himself. If the injury is healed for next season, the Mets have already shown that they don't care what he does so long as he is able to pitch. That makes their argument for voiding the contract much weaker. 

There are other issues that make a fight over voiding the pact less than a sure thing for the Mets. There's the amount of time such a proceeding would take, especially if it winds up impacting the way the Mets can approach the offseason. No one would really argue that getting rid of Rodriguez and not using his money on upgrading the roster is acceptable, would they? And there's not much chance the Mets are going to spend any money if they still have K-Rod on the books.

Baseball matters also rear their ugly head. If the Mets do dump K-Rod, who is going to be their closer? We'd love to see the team buck convention and avoid buying into the stupid notion that you need a bona fide closer but somehow it seems impossible to believe that the Mets will be so bold. So they'll spend big money to get another closer who probably won't even be as effective as K-Rod.

More than anything else, the Mets can't be allowed to use the Rodriguez situation to distract them from the bigger tasks at hand. This isn't a team with one problem, it is a team with many problems and simply doing what many people think is right doesn't solve any of them.

Standing on principle is great but the Mets are supposed to be in the business of winning baseball games.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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