Mets Ship Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee

The $17.5 million option is now Milwaukee's problem.

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All season long the Mets were playing with a doomsday clock counting down over their shoulders and causing many a win to take on an ugly tinge.

Every time Francisco Rodriguez picked up a save, ostensibly a good thing, there was a mention of how many games finished he now had on the season.

The closer he got to 55 and the $17.5 million contract for 2012, the less fun it felt to see him shaking hands on the mound even if it meant that the Mets season was continuing to be one with more success than failure for a change.

That unnatural feeling now belongs to the Milwaukee Brewers. Just after the end of the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, the Mets announced that they had sent K-Rod and cash to the Brewers for a pair of players to be named later.

Those two players could be named Lenny and Squiggy -- given the state of the Brewers system, they might actually be Lenny and Squiggy -- for all that they figured into the decision making that went into this deal.

It is all about getting rid of the chance that K-Rod will be eating up a significant chunk of payroll next season that could be earmarked to keeping Jose Reyes in Queens for a few more years.

Looking ahead to next year when there's still a lot of this season left with the Mets on the happy side of par seems a bit wrong, but it was the kind of decision that Sandy Alderson was hired to make as general manager of the Mets. The Mets of the past chased temporal bliss at the expense of organizational health, but Alderson knows the team is unlikely to be eight games better than the Braves over the rest of the season.

Knowing that, how could you take the risk of keeping K-Rod on the team for 2012?

Sure, it might depress some of the good feelings generated in the first half, but Alderson is here to make rational, cool-headed evaluations about what's best for the team. 

Two questions naturally flow from this deal. The first is about who closes for the Mets now that K-Rod is gone and the answer should be Bobby Parnell with Jason Isringhausen as a possibility as well.

The second, more important, one is what it means for a Carlos Beltran trade. Trading K-Rod is about payroll relief not the start of a firesale, but the impact on the chances of making a serious playoff run are unavoidable and that means a Beltran trade is pretty likely before July 31st.

That will be met with a different reaction than the K-Rod news, but the message sent by Alderson is exactly the same. The Mets are building for long-term success, even if it means taking a pass on long shot playoff chances in the present.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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