The J.J. Putz era in New York ended yesterday, as the Mets bought out the final year of Putz’s contract. With the last year at 8.6 million dollars and the closer position locked up by Francisco Rodriguez, it is a no-brainer for the Mets to pay the 1 million dollar buyout and avoid locking up a significant sum of money on a questionable set-up man.
How remarkably quickly it seems that one of the potential best 8th and 9th inning combos in baseball has been disassembled. While giving up a seven player package, including major league talent in the form of Aaron Heilman, Jason Vargas, Endy Chavez, and Joe Smith, for a small package centered around an expensive reliever appears to be wrong at a glance, due to the fungibility of those kinds of pitchers, this deal brought things to a whole new level.
To begin with, Putz spent much of 2008 on the DL and did not pitch like the 2 to 3 win relief talent that he showed in 2006 and 2007. Although his fastball velocity hadn’t dropped, something was clearly off with his stuff. His BB rate soared and his LD% rose by 3 points. His 3.78 FIP wasn’t terrible, but was only worth .6 wins in 46 innings pitched. All things considered, with the fungibility of relievers, Putz’s age (31 entering 2009) and an injury in 2008, chances were low that Putz would bring the Mets 13.6 million dollars in value in ’09 and ’10.
It hit the fan for Putz in 2009. His control problems persisted and his strikeout rate plummeted. Now, as a 32-year old-reliever running a 1.00 K/BB ratio, Putz hits the market again. He just screams reclamation project. It will be interesting to see what team bites.
From the Mets’ standpoint, they sunk 6 million dollars and 7 players into acquiring Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green. The trade has produced 0.1 WAR from Putz, -0.7 WAR Reed, and -.1 WAR from Green. Unless Reed and Green somehow become productive major leaguers, this trade will go down as historically bad for New York.
The Mets bullpen will likely be a focal point for the front office again this winter. We’ll find out if they’ve learned their lesson.
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