It’s time to send Bartolo Colon to the AL West

Bartolo ColonInjuries in professional sports are always tragic. Some are obviously worse than others (Bo Jackson for instance) and no one ever wants to see someone get hurt doing their job to the best of their ability. However, one can never forget that professional sports are a business at their roots and everything is utilized to create angles towards success. On Wednesday, Garret Richards, playing hard and attempting to do the best at his job, appeared to have severely injured his knee, potentially leaving the Angels, in a tight pennant race with the Athletics, a pitcher short. In the business of baseball, this is Sandy Alderson’s time to move and take advantage of what is a terrible situation for Richards and the Angels.

Bartolo Colon has yet to be passed through waivers, but now it’s time. The Angels were already in need of pitching, but now, with the moves the Athletics have made, acquiring Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija and with this potentially devastating injury to one of their top starters, the perfect situation has been created for an Alderson special, trading the veteran for a return that is greater than the value of the vet.

Colon is exactly what the Angels need. He’s imperturbable on the mound, eats up innings and keeps his team in games. The Angels biggest Achilles heel has been their bullpen, which was helped by the Huston Street acquisition, but still remains an uncertainty. The last thing the Angels need is a young starting pitcher being brought up to the majors, in a pennant race and expected to pitch a lot of innings. A pitcher like Colon, who is also familiar with the AL west and is a pitcher who can normally be relied upon to pitch into the seventh inning, is the guy the team needs to not only hide their biggest weakness, the bullpen, but also compete with the pitching strong Athletics.

The questions about such a move are related to what the Mets could get from the Angels and whether Billy Beane and the Athletics will allow it to happen. The Angels farm system isn’t exactly loaded right now with talent that the Mets need, namely young players at shortstop or the outfield that can impact the team at the latest next year. Kole Calhoun would obviously be a player they would be interested in, but the Angels aren’t going to be jumping to move him, even for a player that obviously fits exactly what their needs dictate. CJ Cron is probably the best young player the Angels could offer, and his power does match what the Mets have a need at, but he’s never played a position outside of first base in his entire professional career. Since Lucas Duda might hit 30 home runs and knock in over 90 runs at that position for the Mets, Cron doesn’t fit, unless the Mets want to create another Duda in the outfield situation. The Angels could offer a big contract back, like Josh Hamilton, but the Mets aren’t going to accept anything like that as compensation.

Knowing how Beane treats these kinds of situations, the Mets might not even get that far. The Athletics currently would have to pass on Colon for him to get to the Angels on a waiver claim. Beane’s Machiavellian nature could lead him to put in a claim on Colon. With Jason Hammel’s struggles, the protégé might even be willing to cut a deal with his old mentor, to further solidify his pitching staff into one that would be absolutely frightening to run into in the postseason.

Waiver rules will also factor into this as some of the players the Mets might want might not have passed through waivers themselves. Another team could also put in a claim (he has to get through the entire National League first also). In the end, nothing could come of this, but why Colon hasn’t been put onto waivers yet is mind boggling. It’s possible that Alderson was waiting for the perfect time to do so, but if it isn’t now, with the Angels injury concerns and Hammel’s terrible start in the Athletics rotation, then when would it be? Alderson had done extremely well in these types of deals so far (the Marlon Byrd and Carlos Beltran deals) and it’s hard to see a time where he could get more for Colon (right before the playoffs, another year left on Colon’s deal at a manageable salary, etc.), so it’s time for him to strike. Let’s hope, if he does, that he gets back something of significance that can help the Mets sooner rather than later.

16 comments for “It’s time to send Bartolo Colon to the AL West

  1. pal88
    August 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Is it possible that the passing of Colons mother has delayed putting him on waivers? I can’t think of any other reason why Sandy has not done this yet…in my mind saving Colons 11m next year would go a long way in bringing in the ss or the lf bat needed in 2015..

  2. August 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I’m with you Scott. It’s time to put Colon on waivers and see what SA can get. I’d add Granderson and maybe Mejia to the list as well as Detroit is looking for an offensive outfielder and Joe Nathan is just unreliable this year. If Oakland does block the move then what could the A’s offer?

    • Scott Ferguson
      August 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

      The A’s have a lot of good position prospects, so maybe a deal could be made in that kind of vein.

  3. Joe Gomes
    August 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Colon should have been put on waivers along with Niese and Granderson. So should have Gee. This is just another instance of the Mets not being proactive and Sandy thinking that he is smarter than every other GM out there.

    Now any team can claim Colon and simply refuse to give anything of value in order to block the Angels.

    It doesn’t matter if Sandy thinks he can get a better deal during the winter. Its about being prepared to do a deal now if the opportunity comes to get a prospect that can potentially help the Mets in the future.

    Yet another stupid decision by the GM Trifecta or is it the 3 Stooges?

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Sandy will be satisfied to just get Colon’s $11m off the books for next year, even if he doesn’t get a player in return. And if you look at the cold, hard facts, Colon is almost guaranteed to be pitching elsewhere next year, no matter what.

      The Mets’ potential rotation looks like Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, and some kind of combination of Niese, Gee, Montero and Matz. If they can avoid having to resort to a 42-year-old hurler, whose career could end at any moment, they will.

      Besides, they still have Dice-K & Lannan if they need the dreaded “veteran leadership.”

    • August 22, 2014 at 10:49 am

      DUH! I left Syndergaard off my little list, there. That just knocks Colon further down the ladder, IMHO.

  4. Metsense
    August 22, 2014 at 11:28 am

    This is one area that I have full faith in Alderson. I am sure he knows which teams have shown interest in Colon and knows who he wants to extract from those teams. He may be waiting for a standings shift.
    There is absolutely no reason to allow Colon to be claimed as a salary dump without compensation.If the Mets start 2015 with Colon in the rotation at a reasonable $11M and instead traded two other pitchers then they may get better position players. Then by the 2015 trading deadline they could move Colon for prospects and allow a Matz or Montero to fill his rotation spot. Although it would be nice to move the salary, I don’t see the urgency. If the Wilpon’s can’t afford a middle of the rotation starter for $11M (5.5M 1/2 year) then maybe they shouldn’t own the team.

  5. Name
    August 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I would like to get an actual fan’s opinion on whether their team would even want Colon, because to me, I can’t see any team wanting him because of his contract next year.

    He’s making $11 million as a 42 year old. That’s probably among the top annual salaries for a pitcher his age, and is equivalent to a $25-$30 million given to a player in his early 30s.

    It was a huge, huge mistake giving this guy 2 years. Mets fans seem to overstating his value to this team and to other teams

    • August 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Since 1980, there have been 91 seasons of a starting pitcher age 41 or older to log at least 10 innings. Here’s how they break down by fWAR:

      5.0 or greater – 4 seasons
      4.0-4.9 — 3 seasons
      3.0-3.9 — 15 seasons
      2.0-2.9 — 12 seasons
      1.0-1.9 — 20 seasons
      0.0-0.9 — 30 seasons
      Negative — 7 seasons

      If we say he’ll be worth his contract if he accumulates 2.0 fWAR, he’s got around a 37% chance of being worth the deal.

      Here’s the same chart, with 100 innings rather than 10. Now we have 65 seasons in our sample.

      5.0 or greater – 4 seasons
      4.0-4.9 — 3 seasons
      3.0-3.9 — 15 seasons
      2.0-2.9 — 12 seasons
      1.0-1.9 — 14 seasons
      0.0-0.9 — 15 seasons
      Negative — 2 seasons

      If he’s healthy enough to pitch 100 innings, he has around a 52% chance of being worth his contract.

      There are other adjustments that probably should be made. Nine of the worst seasons in this group were turned in by knuckleball pitchers. Several more were turned in by HOF guys – Steve Carlton, I’m looking at you – who were allowed a longer leash than someone like Colon would be. But if you start making too many adjustments then you don’t have a decent enough sample size.

      Colon has been relatively healthy so in general, I would consider the erosion of skills, rather than health, to be the biggest factor in if he pitches a full season in 2015.

      If a team views Colon as the difference for making the playoffs this season, I wouldn’t let the 2015 contract be a deal-breaker. The difference in revenue for making the playoffs would exceed the money owed him next year and there’s a good chance he earns the contract, anyway.

      • Name
        August 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        Couple notes:

        -Steroids. I have to bring this up of course.
        -What was the average length of contract and average salary of those players?

        Which brings me to this point
        “If we say he’ll be worth his contract if he accumulates 2.0 fWAR”

        As someone who studies business, i have a serious problem with this general valuation. In business, you require a certain return for a certain level of risk. Or as everyone knows it: No Risk, No Reward.
        This needs to be applied here.

        A 42-year old is a much riskier asset than a 30 year old (especially post steroid era). Add in the fact that he’s been busted for PEDS, had major injury issues in the past, and that he isn’t in the fittest of form, and you can understand someone’s concerns about him.

        If the standard level of risk requires 0.2 WAR per million (or $5 per WAR) for an average FA, one should require more WAR per million (or less dollars per WAR) from Colon because he is riskier than the average.

        Hopefully, this is how most front offices operate. I can see why fans wouldn’t apply it on a daily usage, but that’s my reasoning why Colon has not been worth the contract.

        And this analysis isn’t even considering context and the Opportunity costs that apply. (AKA, we need the money for hitters)

        • August 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm

          I think there are two separate questions at play here. A lot of what you’re focused on seems to me as evaluating the Mets’ decision to sign him to the deal they did. That’s certainly a valid question to ask but not really that important to if a team should acquire him for the stretch run now or for the 2015 season.

          • Name
            August 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

            What i’m focusing on does apply to a trade situation as Colon is under contract for next season.
            Teams don’t want to commit to paying him that amount because the majority of non-Mets fans would probably disagree with you that he earns the contract next year.

            • August 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm

              Fortunately, Sandy Alderson will not be negotiating with fans of other teams.

  6. August 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Of the 100 inning 5 or greater WAR is Nolan Ryan in there somewhere?

  7. Name
    August 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    There’s a lot more strategy and game theory when it comes to waivers then you are giving credit for. It’s not clear whether it’s better to have someone get claimed or not, and timing is important because if someone does get claimed, there is only 48 hours to negotiate.

    From the POV of a team that actually wants Colon:

    If Colon is placed on waivers and you let him clear, you do not reveal your hand that you would like him and you can negotiate all the way up to August 31st. If you do claim him, you only have 48 hours to negotiate. If something doesn’t get done, you either lose him as an option, or, the team might dump his contract on you, causing an unforeseen financial burden for some.

    From the POV of the Mets

    If Colon clears waivers, you have until August 31st to deal with anyone, but you don’t know if anyone actually wants him and you might end up stuck with him if you didn’t really want him for 2015.
    If Colon gets claimed, you have 48 hours to negotiate and/or decide whether you want him for next season. If a team that truly wants him claims him, then it’s a showdown of who will blink first and cave in. If a team that doesn’t want him claims him, you have to decide whether it’s better just dumping the contract on them and using the money elsewhere.

  8. Jerry Grote
    August 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Not sure why every wants to trade a guy that likely will throw 190 IP two years in a row … will put up FIPs of 3.23 and 3.4; WHIP of 1.16 and 1.15; he’s been able to actually decrease his bb/9 and increase his k/9 (at age 41).

    Contrary to what Name says, there is literally really not a single reason to suggest that he will regress. Of all the numbers – and, nice job Brian – that compare him to peers, I believe the true comps would be to pitchers that actually improved their performance in their later years. That makes for an incredibly small peer group.

    Corpulent? Meaningless, when it comes to being a pitcher. There are tons of guys that have produced well with round bellies. And find for me one GM that passed on Cruz or Peralta because of roids (for that matter, Colon) that would use that rationale again.

    Some writer over at metsblog put together a good piece on ratifying that Colon was worth this contract. I agree, on the that POV.1

    Between 2013 and 2015, Bartolo Colon will have thrown almost 600 IP with a FIP around 3.4 and a WHIP right around 1.15. Hopefully 400 of them will have been for the Mets.

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