Francisco Rodriguez is like a third family car.
You get one car one parent takes to work, then another that the other parent takes to work and/or uses to cart around groceries and the kids, and then you get a third car. No practical purpose — two adults in the house, and anything you buy now will probably be scrap before the kids are driving — just because you really wanted to buy something, or you saw it and fell in love, or you’re going through some kind of severe mid-life crisis. A year later, though, you’re stuck with payments you can’t really afford on a depreciating asset you’re too proud to sell, kind of sick of looking at the thing, and really wishing you had that extra garage space for the lawn mower and such.
One has to kind of assume that Doug Melvin looked at K-Rod the way other men about his age might look at a red convertible — so sexy and so extravagant that he doesn’t really mind that it’s completely impractical. Rodriguez is a big name and has the all-time single season saves record, and he costs a lot of money. Never mind that John Axford has been a better pitcher than Rodriguez since taking on the full-time closer’s role, or that Kameron Loe has pitched much better than his ERA while LaTroy Hawkins has been phenomenal in injury-limited time, making the addition of Rodriguez almost utterly superfluous; he was out there, and could be had for essentially nothing but money, so Melvin jumped. Just the kind of impulse buy a 58 year old guy might stereotypically make, but usually it comes with bucket seats and a spoiler.
(The move became a lot more reasonable when it was announced on Friday that Scott Boras and the Brewers had agreed to a restructuring of the contract that essentially takes the automatic trigger for Rodriguez’s huge 2012 salary off the table; with the cash the Mets handed over in the deal, it cost the Brewers very little at all. Still, though, he’s flashy and of pretty limited utility for a team that could really use a shortstop and third baseman.)
Carlos Beltran is like a hedge fund.
Investing in a hedge fund will cost you dearly up front, and, particularly given their status as largely unregulated funds, carry a pretty high risk that the investor will see no return whatsoever. On the other hand, when things do go well, the yield can be very, very high.
Carlos Beltran has been phenomenal so far in 2011. He’s made the shift from Gold Glove center fielder to average-glove right fielder, and his 3.3 FanGraphs WAR is fifth among all National League outfielders (albeit well behind the big four of McCutchen-Kemp-Victorino-Braun, about as close to twelfth as he is to fourth). What a team that trades for Beltran should be getting is a huge middle-of-the-order bat with power, patience, and just enough speed and defense to make it a pretty great overall package.
On the other hand, Beltran’s 89 games played and 377 plate appearances so far in 2011 are already the most he’s had in a year since 2008, having been hampered by a knee injury that could always come back to haunt the 34 year old. And if you want him, he’s going to cost you quite a bit. He could give you the league pennant for that hefty price, as he did for the Astros in 2005, or he could give you basically nothing at all.
Results are not guaranteed, past results are no guarantee of future success, and Carlos Beltran is not insured by or subject to the regulations of any governmental organization.
Jose Reyes is like Godot.
Because he’s not coming.
Reyes was the best player in the NL in the first half, and could be healthy and ready to be activated from the DL as soon as Monday, and as a 2012 free agent to be, has been the subject of trade speculation since before the season began. With the dearth of excellent shortstops around the league nowadays, Reyes could (assuming he’s healthy) be a huge and immediate help to most of the contenders in both leagues, including the Yankees (if they were willing to shove Jeter aside, which of course they’re not) and Red Sox. Fans of pretty much every team could do some pretty serious daydreaming on Reyes.
But as much sense as a Reyes trade might make, the Mets have shown no inclination to explore the possibility, and it’s hard to see a New York team giving in and jettisoning its best player. They’re supposed to acquire veteran superstars through those kinds of trades (see Santana, Johan), not give them up. If I’m the Mets, I seriously look into trading Reyes (as you can probably tell), but I don’t think they will. It seems much more likely that they’ll hang onto him and try to resign him long-term (and probably too long-term and for too much money).