By Paul DiSclafani:
Big Sexy is headed to Atlanta to try to win 11 more games so he can have the record for the most wins by a Dominican-born player (244). And if he can eke out two more and get to 13 wins, he can best Dennis Martinez with the most wins by a Latin born player (246). I understand and respect that. And if the rebuilding Braves want to invest $12.5 million in the 43 (going on 44) year old Colon, so be it.
For everything that Colon is and was to the Mets these past three years, they were never going to pay him $12 million dollars for one more year of it. In 2016, he was more than a temporary starter, more than an insurance policy and more than the plucky comic relief. He was a player that made a difference on this team.
He was the heart and soul of the Mets in 2016. While all else was collapsing around him, Bartolo leaned over and offered his teammates a ride on his back. He would lead them through the muck and mire and get them into the Wild Card game.
Even if Colon accepted less money to return to the Mets, he could see the writing on the wall. Not because his career is dwindling – hell, he won 15 games – but because the Mets pitching depth was not going to offer him a starting position for the entire season. The emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman sealed his role on this pitching staff for 2017 to a spot starter and long reliever.
With Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom all poised to rejoin Noah Syndergaard in the rotation come February, where would that leave Bart now that Lugo and Gsellman proved they are ready to step in if there is a need?
Lugo (5-2, 2.67 ERA in 17 appearances and 8 starts) and Gsellman (4-2, 2.42 in 8 appearances and 7 starts) stepped into the major leagues in the middle of a pennant race, proving they have the chops and deserve to be on a major league mound in New York, unlike Rafael Montero. We keep hearing things about Montero that just doesn’t translate to the Major Leagues. Montero is 43-29 in the minors with a 3.29 ERA, but just 1-5 during three seasons with the big club and pitching to a 5.15 ERA.
The Human Highlight Reel may be gone to the Braves, but during his three seasons here in New York, his statistics were largely ignored because of his entertainment value. He was one of us, he even looked like one of us. Yet year after year, he performed over expectations and was the steady hand that calmed the ship. And yeah, he made us smile all the time. Maybe that was because he was smiling all the time. He made baseball fun again.
And if you are lucky enough to have tickets to Opening Day in 2017 on April 3rd at Citi Field, make sure you get there early so you can thank Bartolo Colon, who will be wearing an Atlanta Braves jersey, during the pre-game ceremonies. I can’t think of any Mets player more deserving than Big Sexy.
MORE METS CONNECTIONS FOR THE BRAVES
The Braves continue to snatch up former Met pitchers as R.A. Dickey lands in Atlanta. One day before announcing they were going to sign the Bartolo Colon, the Braves added the former CY Young winning knuckleballer. They now have the two oldest starters in the major leagues with Dickey (42) and Colon (43). Only one other team in major league history has ever had two pitchers at least 42 years old make a start; the 1981 Atlanta Braves, with Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry.
Both Dickey (with the Mets in 2012) and Colon (with the Angels in 2005) are former CY Young winners.
YO, JUST PAY THE MAN
Now that the Mets trimmed Colon’s $7.25M salary and Neil Walker is not expected to accept the Mets $17.2M qualifying offer, why not use that money and go out and sign Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $125M contract? Those savings alone just about get you the first year of Yo for free, doesn’t it? Throw in the $13M you will get back when you trade Jay Bruce somewhere (anywhere) and the insurance money from David Wright’s back injury (he’s not coming back, folks, let’s face it) and this deal is a no brainer.
But is it going to be enough? What if the Yankees drop $150 for four or $175 for five years, or someone else approaches the $200M plateau for six or seven years?
Sandy Alderson and the front office need to grab Cespedes right now and give them their best offer, no fooling around. No offering three years and $90M and asking them to come back to the table if they get a better offer.
Of course they are going to get a better offer. That’s why they need to let Cespedes know how much he means to them and how they are going to invest in him because they believe in him. He is going to get his money no matter what, so he needs to know that the Mets need and love him.
Last year, the Mets were concerned that they hadn’t seen enough of Cespedes to know what type of player he really is and were reluctant to offer him a long-term deal. Now they know – he is a game changer, he plays hurt and he makes everyone around him play better.
Since he joined the Mets on August 1, 2015, the Mets are 32 games over .500 when he is in the lineup (106-74) and just 18-23 when he isn’t. Need I say more?
REBUILD THE BULLPEN
Jeurys Familia is going to face a long suspension for domestic abuse, and rightfully so. It doesn’t matter if his spouse decides against pressing charges. There is no place for that kind of behavior in Major League Baseball, period.
That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve his day in court (if that ever come to fruition) and he should return to his job when his suspension is over, why not? He is a flawed human being, just like you and me, but he crossed a line.
So what does that mean to the Mets bullpen? Looks like they will have to wait and see about Cespedes to see if there is enough money to make a run at Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon. What about Aroldis Chapman, you say? Not a chance. Could you imagine the backlash with three of the top domestic abusers in the game in the same clubhouse in Reyes, Familia and Chapman?
Both the Cubs and Indians gave the rest of baseball the blueprint to playoff success in how they used their bullpens. Looks like it is time for the Mets to go out and get themselves another closer so they don’t have to burn one out by the middle of July.
CUBS WIN, CUBS WIN!
I can’t say I was rooting for the Cubs to break their streak. Misery loves company, right? But the night they beat the Dodgers in the NLCS changed everything for me.
With a five run lead going into the ninth inning, the story was no longer on the field, it was in the stands. As the cameras were panning around and trying to capture the feel for what was going on as the fans anticipated that final out, you got a chance to look into their eyes and their souls.
You could feel the emotion through their tears. There was absolute joy and maybe disbelief that this was not only possible, but was actually happening. The thought of how many of those fans were not only thinking about that moment, but also thinking about their fathers or their grandfathers and wishing they could share that moment with them.
As Mets fans, I believe we share a common bond with these long-suffering fans. Winning is not a birth right with us, it is a joy to behold and a true treasure. I’ve always told my kids that the Mets don’t win a lot of the time, but when they do – ho boy! It means something and it is true joy.
That’s what I saw that night in the faces of those Chicago Cubs fans, pure joy and a sense of relief.
So congratulations to the Cubbies and their fans. Enjoy this moment because as we both know, nothing in baseball is ever guaranteed year after year.
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.