Bartolo Colon is a Met

The Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a two year contract worth $20 million dollars.

No, that’s not a headline from 2004. That’s from yesterday. I find it hard to believe that Bartolo Colon would get that kind of money on a two year deal during has age 41 and 42 seasons.  That sounds like crazy time from Sandy Alderson.  Is it?

Back in 2004, a 31 year old Colon signed a 4 year $51 million dollar deal with the Angels. That came after a durable and decent 2003 season which saw him make 34 starts, amass 242 IP, and toss a league leading 9 complete games. The Angels must have also seen that Colon’s ERA+ for the previous three years (2002-2004) was: 172, 129 and 120 and that he started 33, 34 and 34 games each of those years while amassing 683 IP.  Colon was one of eight pitchers with more then 650 IP from 2002-2004. The others: Mark Buehrle, Livan Hernandez, Ben Sheets, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Javier Vazquez, and Curt Schilling. Colon won 53 games during that stretch, the most among that crew of 8.

The 2004 free agents from that band of 8 were Curt Schilling (Red Sox/5 years/60 million), Javier Vazquez (Yankees/4 years/45 million), Mark Buehrle (White Sox/3 years/18 million) and Colon. Colon’s deal with the Angels was not that far out of line, despite his age.

As an aside, one does wonder why a 22 year old Mark Buehrle got so much less then his older counterparts. It must have been that he was only 22 with one season under his belt. Here is the career WAR for all 8 players:

  • Buehrle 54.6 (14 seasons)
  • Colon 44.6 (16 seasons)
  • Hernandez 25.2 (17 seasons)
  • Sheets 26.1 (10 seasons)
  • Zito 33.9 (14 seasons)
  • Hudson 55.3 (15 seasons)
  • Vazquez 43.3 (14 seasons)
  • Schilling 80.7 (20 seasons)

Schilling is a likely hall of famer what with his post-season heroics and bloody sock. The rest are not, though some might argue that Hudson’s 200 wins should give some juice with the BBWA voters. No crying for Buehrle though, as he accumulated earnings north of $141 million during his career.

My research surprised me a bit about Colon. He has had a more impressive career then I thought. Perhaps his rotundness makes me think less of him. Aside 2 – there have been only 5 pitchers in major league history that are six feet or shorter and weighed more then 250 pounds – Colon, Rich Garces, Jose Mijares, Garland Buckeye, and Jean Machi. Weird how four of these guys are from Central America – three are from Venezuela, Colon is from the Dominican. And, Colon is really the only starter.

Back to present day Colon and his 2 year/$20 million dollar deal with the Mets. Are the Amazing’s nuts?

Most analysts suggest that 1 WAR is worth $5 million dollars. The Mets, if considering the financials even a little, are hoping that Colon will be worth 4 WAR over the next two years.  Is that reasonable thinking on Sandy Alderson’s part?

Since expansion in 1961, there have been 30 players to start in the majors in their year 41 and 42 seasons. Of those 30 only 9 were worth 4 WAR in those two seasons (a players age is figured as of June 30 of that year – Colon was born in May). Here are those players with their two year WAR and career WAR in parenthesis:

  • Roger Clemens 13.2 (139.4)
  • Warren Spahn 9.6 (92.6)
  • Randy Johnson 7.4 (104.3)
  • Dennis Martinez 7.2 (49.5)
  • Nolan Ryan 7.1 (83.8)
  • David Wells 5.8 (53.5)
  • Phil Neikro 5.1 (97.4)
  • Tim Wakefield 4.9 (34.5)
  • Don Sutton 4.3 (68.7)

A group of four hall of famers and two likely hall of famers (Clemens and Johnson). Martinez, Wells, and Wakefield being the non-royalty. Apart from Wakefield, whose longevity as a knuckleballer makes him more of an outlier, this is a pretty select group. Does Colon belong here? Maybe beside David Wells?

Lets look at the twenty-one other guys who started and pitched in their 41 and 42 seasons since expansion and had a two year WAR under 4.0:

  • Gaylord Perry 3.6
  • Kenny Rogers 3.6
  • Jerry Koosman 3.5
  • Greg Maddux 3.1
  • Charlie Hough 2.9
  • Jamie Moyer 2.8
  • Andy Pettite 2.5
  • Orlando Hernandez 2.5
  • Tom Seaver 2.5
  • Early Wynn 2.4
  • Tom Glavine 1.8
  • Rick Reushel 0.7
  • Tommy John 0.6
  • John Smoltz 0.4
  • Danny Darwin 0.4
  • Bert Blyleven 0.3
  • Luis Tiant -0.3
  • Joe Niekro -0.8
  • Tom Candiotti -1.0
  • Orel Hershiser -1.8
  • Steve Carlton -2.3

I’m more inclined to see Colon in this second group of players. Despite the chorus of “good signing” comments from numerous baseball people, do we really see Colon continuing with his post stem cell extraction rejuvenation?  As a Met fan, who would your rather have on a short term deal during the 2014 season when you won’t have Matt Harvey? Colon or the eighty pound lighter and soon to turn 30 Scott Kazmir (signed by the A’s for 2 years/$22 million)? Billy Beane says Kazmir. I’d have to agree with him. Maybe the Mets are just biding time with Colon since Harvey probably won’t be back to snuff until 2016 (if he returns to form at all).  But, if that were the case, why not Dan Haren on a one year deal?

Does this Colon signing excite the Mets fan base and give them hope for the future? If I were a Mets fan I’d rather take a flyer in Kazmir.

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