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Why are the Indians not offering 3 years and $38 million?


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The Mets were on the brink Monday night of closing their most important game of the offseason -- landing closer Francisco Rodriguez.


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Rodriguez's agent, Paul Kinzer, said, "I am more optimistic than I have ever been" about finalizing a deal between the single-season saves leader and the Mets.


Kinzer would not divulge terms of the deal, except to indicate that it would be longer than the two years with a vesting option that the Mets used as an opening salvo in negotiations. SI.com reported that K-Rod would get a 3-year deal worth $37 million.


However, it is going to be well south of the five-year, $75 million mark that Kinzer was shooting for initially in this offseason. That would have been a record for a closer. But those dreams came before the nation's economy tanked and began to seriously impact baseball, as well.


Kinzer indicated that a deal could get done before these Winter Meetings end Thursday. He said, "We will know more in the next 24 hours, but so far everything has been positive."


The Mets have concentrated their full energies on securing a closer as the leadoff to their offseason strategy. And in Rodriguez, they are obtaining a reliever who does not turn 27 until next month and generated 62 saves last season for the Angels.


The Mets played this offseason brilliantly. They recognized quickly that the closer market was over-saturated and that they were the lone big-market team looking for a ninth-inning man. So they decided to employ patience rather than strike quickly. That led to the prices continuing to drop and drop. Then in recent days they put an offer out to Rodriguez and indicated they were about to follow with offers to others such as Brian Fuentes, Kerry Wood and perhaps Trevor Hoffman.


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They wanted the closers and their representatives to worry about what would happen if the Met offer was not taken. Kinzer came to slowly recognize that he was not going to get a record deal for his client. He conceded he was "disappointed" that his client's 62 saves would not be fully rewarded financially.


"Obviously it is a different (economic) world we are all living in," Kinzer said. "Just turn on the TV. It's a different world than six months ago. The markets have changed for teams. We just don't know what degree to yet. This is what we have to figure out. That is where creativity comes in."


The Mets identified K-Rod as the best closer available due to his pedigree and age. However, in negotiations for a closer, the Mets were channeling their inner Scott Boras. They were doing to their closer candidates what Boras does when multiple teams seek one of his free-agent clients.


Boras is expert at making teams uneasy by playing one against the other while using time as his ally. As the clock ticks, teams tend to grow edgier, imagining that they will lose the player and often react by blindly increasing their bid.


They let the clock tick, forcing each of the relievers and their agents to envision the Mets signing someone else. And then what?


Or, as one AL official said, "Where does Francisco Rodriguez get his money, if the Mets, say, sign Brian Fuentes?' "


But the Mets really began to turn strongly toward K-Rod when they met with him Sunday. Team executives Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya, Tony Bernazard and John Ricco went to dinner with K-Rod and Kinzer. The agent described the get-together as "a great meeting."


The Mets still have worries about Rodriguez. He is not very big. He throws with maximum effort. His velocity dropped off a few mph last year. But the Mets also worried that Fuentes might not be temperamentally built for New York and that Wood is a pitching medical ward. Despite all the duress, Rodriguez has stayed healthy and effective for a perennial contender.


Now he is ever so near to being the man the Mets hope can replace Billy Wagner.






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Too much money

Too many years

Velocity dropping

Hesitant to throw his fastball


Hoffman, Wood, Putz, Fuentes



2nd and 3rd base




I like K-Rod but I'm not really the least bit interested in the Tribe going after him. If we're giving the big money to someone, have it be someone with a bigger impact...like Orlando Hudson or Furcal, who can fill a hole in the infield, bat leadoff, play every day. Having a lights out closer is wonderful, but keep in mind we won 96 games with Joe Borowski.


If we come out of these meetings with Hoffman, Furcal, and a #3 starter (Nolasco?) for Shoppach...I'll be a happy man.

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What Cimo said.


He was pretty terrific last year and he makes perfect sense for a big market team with money to burn that's in need of a closer. That's not the Tribe. Even ignoring the warning signs pointed out by CIMO, there are some metrics that suggest he wasn't even the best reliever on his TEAM last year, never mind the division or the league or all of baseball.



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