Mets Can Save Dignity by Fighting to Void Francisco Rodriguez’s Contract

Mets Can Save Dignity by Fighting to Void Francisco Rodriguez's Contract The New York Mets aren’t the worst team in baseball, but they’ve effectively become the biggest laughingstock in the league over the past few years.

After having the best record in the National League in 2006 and falling one game short of reaching the World Series, the Mets successfully blew seemingly comfortable division leads in September to the Phillies in 2007 and 2008. Somewhere along the way, they have lost the label as a championship contender.

Off the field, the Mets can’t seem to do anything right. And Francisco Rodriguez is not helping the cause.

The Mets’ closer was arrested following a loss to the Rockies on Aug. 11 for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend’s father (also his child’s grandfather) in front of several of his teammates’ family members.

The Mets suspended Rodriguez for two games. He returned on Saturday night to pitch a scoreless inning against the Phillies in a 4-0 loss, but that would prove to be the final inning "K-Rod" will pitch in 2010.

Rodriguez suffered a torn ligament in the thumb on his pitching hand during the aforementioned fight and will be forced to miss the remainder of the season.

Of all the turmoil surrounding this once-proud franchise, the past week for the Mets has been one of the worst in team history.

Luckily, they might be able to save some face.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Mets are trying to void Rodriguez’s contract, a move that could save the team at least $17 million.

Rodriguez, baseball’s single-season saves leader (he saved 62 for the Angels in 2008), signed a three-year, $37 million deal with New York prior to the 2009 season, with a $17.5 million vesting option for 2012 with a $3.5 million buyout (which may not even come into effect if Rodriguez doesn’t meet his minimum "games finished" tally of 55 in 2011).

It’s not a definite that the Mets will be able to void the contract, because the players’ union will undoubtedly have serious pull in the league’s decision.

Nevertheless, if the Mets decide to fight this one, win or lose, the lasting effects could prove to have positive implications on a spiraling organization.

New York has had talented players over the past few years. But unlike their two biggest rivals — divisional foe Philadelphia and the cross-town Yankees — the Mets lack a winning attitude.

That attitude is about more than signing the best players. It’s about promoting discipline and an organizational philosophy that demands consistency on the field and in the front office. The Mets have been anything but consistent since 2006.

Losing Rodriguez would cost the Mets one of the most talented closers in the game, regardless of the financial benefits of voiding his contract. But it’s about time that the Mets take a stand and show some dignity to the rest of the league.

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