Short of re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, it’s unlikely many fans will be happy with the Mets’ offseason. Surprisingly, one of the reasons will not be a lack of moves, as Sandy Alderson has participated in both the free agent and trade market. He’s doing his best to remove that “semi-active GM” title from his resume. Instead, it’s with the moves themselves that fans have a quarrel.

Most of the venom is directed towards Alejandro De Aza, mostly because he’s not Cespedes but also because he hasn’t played a ton of center field the past few years. Still, it’s amazing to me how quickly the fans have turned on Juan Lagares. Virtually no one shed a tear last March when the Mets traded the one player in their system ready to play center in the majors on a regular basis, and a lefty swinger, to boot. Now, the fans are outraged because they didn’t sign a lefty hitter to platoon with, if not replace, Lagares.

Bartolo ColonThe flip side of De Aza is Bartolo Colon. Most fans were more than happy to have Colon back in the fold, especially since he handled his move to the bullpen with such grace during the playoffs. The ideal scenario is that Colon holds down a spot in the rotation until the middle of the year when Zack Wheeler returns from TJ surgery. Then Colon slides over to the bullpen and the Mets get better in both areas.

It sounds great until you remember that Colon turns 43 in May and his record last year was 13-3 versus the NL East and 1-10 versus the rest of MLB. In 2013, Colon was great in the vast majority of his starts. In 2014 he was streaky, pitching like he did in 2013 for an extended stretch and then following up with multiple consecutive games where he couldn’t get anyone out. And then last year when his pitching smarts allowed him to toy with poor teams but his stuff wouldn’t let him compete against good lineups.

After beating the Braves in Atlanta on Sep. 10, Colon was 14-11 and the schedule was in his favor the rest of the way. His next three starts were against the Marlins, Braves and Phillies and he had an outside shot to match 2013 with 18 wins. Instead he suffered two losses against teams he had dominated all season and instead of starting against the Nationals in the final series of the year, he came in out of the pen.

In the three games against the dregs of the NL East, opposing hitters had a .789 OPS against Colon with a .293 BABIP. He gave up 3 HR in 17 IP and had a 4.76 ERA. You might say, so what, it’s only three games. But what happens if Colon no longer dominates the weak sisters? That was the only thing that kept 2015 from being a disaster.

And then there’s his age. Colon became just the 21st pitcher in MLB history to make at least 20 starts in a season. The good news is that there are 10 Hall of Famers on that list. The bad news is, well, just about everything else.

Colon ranked 17th on that list in ERA+ with his 89 mark in the category. He gave up the third-most homers and the fifth-most hits. But perhaps most discouraging from this star-studded list is that two-thirds of them finished with a worse ERA than they did the year before. Two players did not pitch at age 43, 12 of them were worse the following year and six of them improved. Let’s take a look at those improvers:

Jack Quinn – After posting a 3.41 ERA in 163.2 IP as a 42 year old, Quinn followed up with a 3.26 ERA over 201.1 IP. However, Quinn’s achievements should come with an asterisk. See, he was a spitball pitcher, one of 17 who was grandfathered in and allowed to keep throwing the pitch after it was banned before the start of the 1920 season. When Quinn was 43 in 1927, he was one of just eight pitchers in MLB allowed to legally throw the pitch.

David Wells – Went from a 4.45 ERA in 184 IP at age 42 to a 4.42 ERA in 75.1 IP

Charlie Hough – The knuckleball pitcher went from a 4.07 ERA in 218.2 IP at age 42 to 4.02 ERA in 199.1 IP.

Don Sutton – Went from a 4.70 ERA in 191.2 IP to a 3.92 ERA in 87.1 IP. Sutton was well known as a pitcher who “doctored” the ball and was once ejected and was given a 10-day suspension in 1978 for defacing the ball.

Randy Johnson – Went from a 5.00 ERA in 205 IP to a 3.81 ERA in 56.2 IP

Early Wynn – Went from a 4.46 ERA in 167.2 IP to a 2.28 ERA in 55.1 IP

As you can see, only two of the six cracked 100 innings at age 43 and one of those threw a spitter and the other a knuckleball. The ideal scenario has Colon throwing half a season as a starter and half as a reliever, one that you would expect would have him finish with around 120 innings or so. History says this won’t happen.

So, the Mets are paying $7.25 million to a soon-to-be 43 year old. Odds are against him repeating what he did last year, which was hardly overwhelming. And somehow the fanbase is okay with this? The at-bats are humorous and the behind-the-back flip is one of my favorite moments from 2015. But it was a mistake bringing him back and expecting him to be a productive rotation guy, even for just half a year.

The fact that they paid $7.25 million to avoid giving a youngster a shot is even more depressing.

47 comments on “Re-signing Bartolo Colon should be the questioned offseason move

  • Steve S.

    Agree completely! Montero would do at least as well as Colon—probably better, I think. The money spent on Colon should have gone to signing Bastardo for the first year of a contract.

    • JC

      I’m not sure montero would bother to show up at all given the chance

      • Brian Joura

        I so don’t get this.

        It’s one thing if a guy has been in the majors awhile and made some money and then no longer put in any effort, to pull a Frank Francisco. But why on earth would Montero do this? He hasn’t made enough money to act this way.

        It’s reasonable to discount Montero because of injury concerns. The guy hurt his shoulder last year and wasn’t able to pitch after that. But effort because he wasn’t able to pitch when Terry Collins wanted him to? That doesn’t pass the smell test.

        • TexasGusCC

          Montero has barely pitched in winter ball.

          • Brian Joura

            I believe his first outing was right before the playoffs started and he was pitching regularly since then. Unfortunately, out of the bullpen but given that he wasn’t pitching at all, it’s still a good sign.

    • Drew Kanter

      I love Colon, but spending 7.25m on him I felt was very excessive. You have Montero, Verrett and Gilmartin who can compete for that 5th spot until Wheeler comes back. Thats pretty good and they could have used the 7.25m toward a offensive player that a NY team who just went to World Series would need.

  • James Preller

    When comparing Bartolo to similar-age pitchers, we can at least cling to the hope that all the steroids he’s pumped into his body have helped make a difference.

    • Brian Joura

      Does he no longer get tested for steroids? Or do you think he’s using designer ones which cannnot be traced?

      Edit: Or do you think the ones he used previously have a lasting effect, even if he’s no longer taking them?

      • Chris F

        There is no long standing positive effect for anabolic (not cortico) steroids. Most half-lifes are hours, days, or weeks, so once they are out, they are out (and so will their metabolites). For effects to be long term, the abuse needs to be long term.

        National Geographic did a fabulous TV show on steroids, which you can find on Youtube by searching “anabolic steroid national geographic”. It is very much worth the 45 minutes to watch.

        It is worth noting that testing lags far behind using. Developing testing protocols can be arduous (although now many are tagged because they are synthetic). Testing negative has little to do with if a person is doping or not.

        • Chris F

          For those interested, here s a fabulous story about an amateur athlete who decided to “test” the system. In his case he used a very popular PED called EPO, which boosts red blood cells (used for people with anemia, cancer etc), and helps with endurance and stamina. As the article goes, he managed to acquire the drugs over the internet easily and boost his performance dramatically, but had he been an elite athlete, he would not have tested positive.

          The testing program (and punishment) for cycling and athletics is far above what we see in baseball. I am certain it would be easy to be on a planned doping regimen with steroids, EPO, and HGH (human growth hormone) and test negative. It is sobering indeed. It is also worth noting that these drugs are transformational to the human body and sustained performance. I regularly here things like, oh people have been trying to cheat for ages, why worry now? My response is that in no generation of trying to cheat to win have the drugs of choice had so much of an effect on performance. We know that because the full abuse PED era is easy to spot in the record books just by looking at the stats.

  • DED

    For what it’s worth, Brian, I was among those who shed no tears over the exit of Matt Den Dekker. The reason was that it appeared that nearly all of his offensive production came late in the season(s), against teams that were out of the running and probably against September call-ups.

    I just ran the numbers, which at the least do not refute this impression:

    Matts’ career slash line for Septembers: .286/.360/.442

    All other Months: .208/.291/.302

    The two totals were compiled in about the same number of Plate Appearances, perhaps 150 PA’s each.

    Small samples, sure; but Matt is 28 years old. I think we are seeing what he is here.

    • Brian Joura

      When MDD gets 200 consecutive ABs come bring this info to me. You’re penalizing him for not performing with sporadic playing time and dismissing when he does get it because it’s September.

      Edit: Grammar

      • norme

        Brian, I’ve always liked MDD, and his numbers (though still under 200 PAs) with the Nats last year were better. However, the Nats brought in Ben Revere as a possible platoon with Michael Taylor. What does that say about how they view MDD? At 28 years of age how many more chances, with how many more teams, will he get to prove himself as nothing more than a bench player? Personally, I’m not sure deAza is an upgrade, but I have not really seen him play much lately.

        • Brian Joura

          I don’t think he’ll get any chance.

          The Nationals didn’t acquire him to necessarily give him a chance. They got him as a minimum wage guy when the goal was to get rid of salary they didn’t view as necessary. That’s okay and I certainly don’t blame them. The Nationals, just like any other club, are not in business to test the MLB-worthiness of one player.

          They make determinations just like every other club. They’re probably right on a lot of them. Like any other club, they won’t be right on all of them.

  • BadRaZoR

    I’ve complained about the colon signing since it happened and get crucified on the fan sites every time I do so I stopped. Everyone seems to like watching him look like a fool at the plate and they all seem to think his “mentoring” of the young pitchers has helped them greatly (does he even speak English to mentor them?). I believe he is the 5th highest AAV on the mets right now which is mind boggling

  • Bryan Aronson

    I understand that it must be tough to think of articles to write in the off season since the Mets are notorious for doing absolutely nothing every year, however this is the most idiotic article I’ve ever read.

    • Brian Joura

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Constructive criticism is always welcome here. Unfortunately, there’s nothing constructive about this comment. Care to elaborate why?

      • Bryan Aronson

        Boy oh boy were you ever wrong about this one…don’t you ever doubt bartolo again

  • Matty Mets

    This is great fodder for off-season discussion and I see your point, however i have no issue bringing Colon back. With Gee and now Niese gone, Montero an enigma, and Wheeler a ways off, we needed rotation depth. Bart gives us that, plus flexibility, experience and a clubhouse presence. The players and fans love him. It’s a modest one year deal and one that I’m pretty confident will provide a better ROI than de Aza.

    • Name

      “I’m pretty confident will provide a better ROI than de Aza.”

      Among 127 starting pitchers who have pitched 200 IP in the last 2 seasons, Fartolo ranks 112th in ERA-. And it were not for a late season surge, he probably would have ranked closer to 120th. His production has been similar to another fatass Sabathia, who i’m sure Mets fans would be horrified to learn if he was in their rotation.

      We’e already wasted over 20m on this guy and will most likely get even worse next year. The production he is providing is worth 1-2m at most if you’re don’t care about winning and are desperate for innings. But you’d be better of giving those starts to a youngster with some actual upside.

      • Matty Mets

        Bartolo is one of those pitchers whose performance gets skewed by ERA. About 1 in 4 games he gets clobbered so his ERA goes up. But if he’s giving you quality starts in the other 3, I’ll take it. That’s how a guy with a 4+ ERA consistently wins 15 games. Bronson Arroyo was the same way.

        • Brian Joura

          But he’s not giving a QS anywhere near that often. If he was, he wouldn’t have a negative WPA.

          Last year, he threw a QS 58% of the time and most of those were against the dregs.

      • Blaiseda

        I don’t think you understand baseball as well as you think you do.

        • Paul Schwartz

          Agree completely Blaiseda. Because you’re on a blog doesn’t give you knowledge, just a forum. Bartolo last year (and the year before) brought veteran leadership to a pitching staff that needed it (Niese needed leadership when he should have been providing some). He brings innings to a staff that had multiple pitchers with innings limits (perceived or actual). He brought fun to the ballpark every night and I believe had an amazing impact on Familia, Flores, Lagares (who I think will snap back) and Tejada. I don’t believe the cost was too much and as the next poster points out, this one year deal thing is a little much. Although in this case for these reasons (plus the fifth starter thing) I am fine with it. Many of the same people who are criticizing this move (including our blogger I’m sure) criticized the previous 2 year deal for Bartolo too.

          • Brian Joura

            Thanks for reading and commenting.

            There are two things I believe you are confused about here. First, Blaiseda was replying to Name, not me. Second, this post is filed under “Perspectives” not “Truth” or “Gospel.” If you don’t find perspectives interesting, then this is not the place for you.

          • Name

            “Bartolo last year (and the year before) brought veteran leadership to a pitching staff that needed it”

            No proof the club needed it. Ask yourself this simple question. Would the other pitchers performed just as well if Colon was not there?

            This veteren leadership stuff is absolute bullshit. Do you know when people bring it up? It’s when the guys are turning into shit. Do you seem people talking about Trout or Stanton’s leadership? No, because they produce on the field and lead by example. It’s when people stop producing on the field do people bring up influence and leadership to try to justify their inflated bloated contracts.

            “He brings innings to a staff that had multiple pitchers with innings limits (perceived or actual).”

            The Mets had no shortage of starters last year. In fact, the prescence of Fartolo caused them to screw up with Montero and Gee.

            “He brought fun to the ballpark every night and I believe had an amazing impact on Familia, Flores, Lagares (who I think will snap back) and Tejada.”

            Your own opinion that holds zero weight with me. If Colon were not there, another ballplayer would be in the step in to the same thing. You seem to think that Colon is some magical whisperer who is the only one who can get through to these players. Get real.

            “I don’t believe the cost was too much and as the next poster points out,”

            You’ve done zero analysis to back this up while I have provided numbers and facts.

            “Although in this case for these reasons (plus the fifth starter thing) I am fine with it.”

            Again, none of your reasons hold any weight.

  • Rob Rogan

    I think the lack of outrage probably has to do with the relatively low cost, if we look at it outside the context of Mets’ specific finances, and the fact that he generally endeared himself to the fan base. Beyond that, it’s probably because he took a one year deal and liked it here. It’s becoming alarming how dead set this FO is on the one-year deal to the extent that it seems to have become a deal breaker for them.

    Anyway, there’s probably not much noise here because there isn’t really a concern with the rotation and re-upping Colon invokes a “meh” reaction more than anything.

    • Brian Joura

      I’m not sure how (or even why) we would look at it outside of the Mets’ specific finances.

      The majority of the fanbase likes Colon. I get it, he’s a fun guy to root for and he has some shiny win totals, too. One of the past criticisms of Alderson is that he does whatever is easiest and this move feels that way to me. A popular guy among teammates, the fans like him, he’s not asking for a lot of dollars and he’s willing to sign for one year. Let’s sign him and not think too hard about if it’s the best way to allocate money.

      • Trotter76

        3 main points pro-Bart:
        1. If Familia and other pitchers credit Colon with making them better, both in terms of preparation, being professionals, etc, that they are bringing more to the team than their starts every fifth game. With Thor and Matz getting their first full season, having the extra “coach” Colon could be a major reason for wanting him on the team. Does Montero or Verrett have anything to add that is going to help the young pitchers on this team get better or more consistent? No.
        2. Bartolo throws strikes. Period. He’s still one of the best in the business at location. Obviously he’s not overpowering anyone anymore, but he’s not scared to come in the zone and challenge a hitter. Does he sometimes get smoked for it? Sure, I’m not saying he can pitch like a CY candidate anymore, but is there anything worse than watching a guy nibble on the corners and walking guys? That’s what I saw from Montero in his few appearances in the bigs last year: a guy who didn’t have dominating stuff but also didn’t trust himself to come in tight without leaving it over the plate. So nibble, nibble nibble, walk.
        3. Most baseball teams need 9-10 starters over the course of a season. Sometimes things go bad and you need even more. If Montero and Verrett were fighting for #5, before long we’d be looking at Gsellman starting games out of necessity. Having Bart as the #5 is prudent, because it’s not unlikely that those youngsters will get some starts even with BC on the team.

        • Name

          “If Familia and other pitchers credit Colon with making them better, both in terms of preparation, being professionals, etc,”

          So is Colon some magical whisperer? There are millions of pitchers out in the game who can do the same thing. Colon is not the only one who can teach them these things. If given the choice between Colon or Kershaw as a mentor, would anyone choose Colon?

          “With Thor and Matz getting their first full season, having the extra “coach” Colon could be a major reason for wanting him on the team.”

          Coaches don’t get paid 7.25m and take starts away from more deserving folks.

          “Does Montero or Verrett have anything to add that is going to help the young pitchers on this team get better or more consistent? No”

          Are our other pitcher so stupid that they would completely fall apart or be any worse if Colon were not here? No. No. No. Got it? No.

          “but is there anything worse than watching a guy nibble on the corners and walking guys?”

          Yes. It’s worse when you have a guy who will consistently give up stinkers every few games.

          “Most baseball teams need 9-10 starters over the course of a season.”

          You’re right. But it doesn’t answer the question why Colon at 7.25m is a better option than another pitcher, Colby Lewis at 6m or Gee at 2m. You need depth, but you can’t blow all your resources on depth.

          • Pete

            So Name why do you think the FO felt they had to bring back Colon with so many other cheaper options out there? ( for a number five starter which the team will need for only 15 or so starts). What was the sense of urgency that they had to overpay? And what’s the point of paying Colon 3-4 million to pitch out of the pen after Wheeler returns?

  • James Preller

    I am not outraged by the signing, and can see, at least, the logic behind it.

    They could have gone a different way, used that money in other places, but that was not the call.

    It was a defensible move. Also, if SA is thinking he might flip one of the young arms in July — or wants to have that option — then Colon gives him added security.

    However, I personally think a cheap veteran obtained on a minor league contract — a Dillon Gee type, or two — would have been fine.

    • NormE

      Okay, James—–right now, who would you rather have in your rotation, Colon or Gee?

      • Name

        That’s not how it works. It’s not just about the player, it’s also about the contract that comes with the player.

        Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. At 10m, he’s a bargain. At 20m, he’s still a bargain. But say to get him you had to sign him for 10 years and 1 billion? No chance in hell would he be worth that contract.

        Gee contract according to Cots:
        2m base with up to 1.55m in incentives for GS and up to 1.75m for IP. He also has up to 0.7m in incentives for relief appearances. Opt out if not on 40 man by 3/15

        Colon gets 7.25m with unreachable incentives.

        Considering the output of Colon and Gee are similar for their last ~60 games, i’d much rather have Gee than Colon.

        • Chris F

          The big difference is clear. For whatever reason, the FO had felt that Gee was becoming a bad clubhouse guy. Hardly unexpected given the Mets had openly shopped him for ages. Obviously they wanted him out for reason that extend past the numbers on the card. And the reverse is abundantly clear about Colon. The FO and field staff love him. They rave about his influence on the younger staff. He has the longevity Im sure they all dream about. And sometime last year Harvey had a long interview where he spent 10-15 minutes being quizzed and I distinctly recall him talking nothing but positive about how the young staff has gravitated (no pun intended) towards Colon. In the end you have “X factor” or whatever you wish to call it and hes most definitely got it, at least with the Mets.

      • James Preller


        Right now, I think Colon is a surer bet than Gee. But that’s why I said a “Gee type,” since Gee w/ Mets is an impossible scenario.

        But for the record: I like Gee. In the right park, I think he’s a good candidate for bounce-back.

        Baseball is filled with veteran pitchers who signed minor league contracts in the hope they can re-establish their value. Guys like Matsuzaka, Harang, Capuano, Dickey, etc. It’s a long list. Then you throw in the career minor leaguers, like Verrett & Gilmartin, plus the odd prospect in Montero. At that point, I think you’ve got a very good chance of coming close to Colon’s output, and possibly doing better, for a much lower cost.

        Remember, too, that the club need is 20 starts. With Bartolo, they spent a lot of money on the back end of the rotation. It’s something a big-budget team might do, but seems like an odd fit for the Mets.

        Again, I think it’s defensible. He pitched well for the Mets the last two years and stayed healthy. Frankly, I didn’t think that was going to happen. I was wrong about the previous contract, so I’m less inclined to go crazy over this one.

        • NormE

          James P.,
          Thanks for the well-reasoned answer.
          There was a time I had a good feeling about Gee on the mound. He seemed to have an idea how to maximize his talent. Unfortunately, it seems that his talent has diminished to the point that he may never again have much success at the major league level.
          While I recognize that Bartolo is on the down-side of a productive career, his assets as a mentor and innings-eater have value. Yes, you could try to replace him with another veteran arm that is trying to hang on, but there are no guarantees that would be anymore successful.
          It seems that Colon has accepted his role, and will not cause any discord when, and if, Wheeler, replaces him. That’s got to be worth a big positive in the clubhouse.

  • Pete

    What purpose does Colon have at 4 million+ coming out of the bullpen? Is he your long man? To have Colon pitch out of the pen for 4 months is just a waste of payroll. He may be able to pitch back to back days but against how many batters? one? Two? you mean to say the FO couldn’t find a better solution from the many FA’s available or within the organization? 7.25 million for a part time 5th starter? If we were talking about the Yankees or Dodgers I could see it. But these are the capped out Met’s. It isn’t that their payroll is limited. It’s the squandering of how it’s being spent. Between De Aza and Colon that’s 11 million that should of been applied to CF
    Name I would rather have Gee than Colon it’s not like Colon is going to pitch great of the pen in the post season ala Sid Fernandez.

    • TexasGusCC

      Pete, it’s 13MM.

      • Pete

        Even worse Gus. Very depressing and with Cespedes still out there.

        • TexasGusCC

          I said it before. With Wheeler coming back, the Mets only needed about 12-15 starts. Couldn’t those have gone to Verrett and Gilmartin, or Montero if he ever gets healthy?

          Don’t get me started on this front office and their free agent signings.

          • Pete

            Why not Gus? They keep telling their fan base everything is going to be okay and that the money will be there for the “right” player. But if you know you have limited resources than you need to hit a home run every time. I’m sorry but Colon is not worth 7.25 million as a 5th starter for 20 or so starts (no matter how much of a positive influence he has been). If as a FO you believe that he is that valuable then hire him as a pitching coach. Sandy’s track record on FA signings is ? You can fill in the adjective Gus.

  • Pete

    What happens when De Aza starts to butcher winning games and turns them into loses? What happens when base runners take the extra base because he’s barely adequate defensively? How will the Core 3 perceive his poor defense costing them wins? Sorry but there are just to many negatives and questions marks about this signing. Alderson must see something in his make up we are all missing

  • Eraff

    $7 million for a 44 year old Pitcher who was, at best, Competitive… i have a feeling that would love “2016 Bartolo” more as an Ex-Met.

    I’d have preferred to “guess” at the stop-gap 5th slot in the Rotation with Verret, Gilmartin, Torres, or any one of a Dozen “Dylan Gees” who are out there.

    Give me back the d’Aza Money and the Colon Money— coulda done better!!!

    They are addicted to 1 year Patches, and the patches are not good

  • Jeff

    Mr. Joura—You noted three age-43 Hall of Famers without making note of a fourth who threw 100+ innings in his age-43 season: Warren Spahn, 1964. It was his final season with the Braves, after seven straight seasons leading the National League in complete games, and it followed his final 20+ win season as well. He pitched 173.2 innings with a 1.47 WHIP (a drastic slip from his 1.11 in 1963), a 4.36 fielding-independent pitching mark (his ERA in 1964 was 5.29), and one shutout in 25 starts out of 38 games. All of which were worth -1.9 wins above a replacement level player according to

    After the season, the Braves sold Spahn to . . .the Mets. Between the Mets and the San Francisco Giants in 1965, Spahn at 44 was only slightly better than 1964 (and threw 24 more innings, while being worth almost a full win above replacement level between the two clubs), but 1965 was his final major league season.

    I was sort of surprised you didn’t make note of Spahn since he did end up a Met for a period after that age-43 season. (Referencing both the 1963 Mets and his earliest Boston Braves season, becoming a Met gave Spahn his license to quip that he played for Casey Stengel before and after Stengel was a genius . . .)

    • Brian Joura

      Jeff – thanks for reading and commenting!

      I detailed the ones who improved from 42 to 43, which is where Colon will be going to in 2016. There were 10 HOF (and Roger Clemens) who made 20 or more starts at 42, including Spahn. But Spahn went from a 2.60 ERA in 259.2 IP as a 42 year old to a 5.29 ERA in 173.2 IP at age 43.

  • Chris F

    Adam Rubin: New York Mets third-base prospect Eudor Garcia was given an 80-game suspension Tuesday after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substances bumetanide and furosemide, Major League Baseball announced.

    Wikipedia: The drug is often used for weight loss, but also to mask other drugs or steroids by helping to dilute the contents of the user’s urine, yielding a lower concentration of filtered substances which may then go undetected.

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