Mets Game 106: Win Over Phillies
Mets 7 Phillies 1
Mets make mincemeat of Phillies.
Mets Game Notes
Was this a contest between two clubs, or an audition for two pitchers on the trading block?
The two starters entered the game with very similar numbers, and similar doubts about their immediate futures. Yes, one team won and the other lost, but it’s possible that the game’s procession and result, in the end, will have more impact the two starting starting pitchers and their respective teams’ ability (or inability) to deal them in the next 48 hours.
A.J. Burnett did nothing to improve his status as trade bait, while Bartolo Colon may have increased his value. If there were scouts in the stands deciding between the two, it’s likely the recommendation would be for Big Bart. Though, there are also financial considerations, as both pitchers will be due many more millions after this season.
With Colon, it’s cut and dried — he’ll get $11M guaranteed in 2015. With Burnett, it’s more complex. On the one hand, he’s guaranteed a minimum of $7.5M as part of the “player option” written into his contract. That number can increase to $8.5M if and when Burnett makes one more start this year (it triggers at 24 starts, and this was his 23rd). If he gets to 27 starts, Burnett gets bumped up to $10M. At 30 starts, it jumps to $11.75M, and at 32, $12.75M. So there’s a very good chance that Burnett and Colon will be equal in terms of how much more is due once the 2014 season ends. The only difference is that the price paid to Colon is in return for another year of service, while what’s paid to Burnett will only close out the financial responsibility for 2014; if a team wants another year of Burnett, both Burnett and the team will have to mutually agree upon it, and instead of Burnett getting the buyout figure, he’ll get a $15M contract for 2015.
Hmmmmm … Seems ugly either way. And by ugly, I mean choosing between Colon and Burnett, as well as the complicated Burnett situation. If he pitches well enough in the final two months, maybe a team would want to keep Burnett another year. Who knows? Burnett has pitched pretty well in most of his ballgames, but his stats look uglier than he’s pitched most of the time because of a handful of truly awful performances (such as last night’s). Colon’s numbers are similarly bloated — most of his starts have been good to very good, but there were five in which he was shelled.
Sorry, I know this is supposed to be a game recap, but I find the parallels between these two pitchers much more fascinating. If you were the GM of a contending team and in need of one veteran righthanded starter, which of these two would you choose, and why? And what would you be willing to give up? Is the second year of service a positive or a negative? Burnett is only 37 compared to Colon’s age 41, so a team looking for more than a two-month rental, and considering these two, might be more inclined to trust that Burnett will be healthy enough to pitch another year. But $15M is more than $11M, so who knows? And then there are the somewhat contrasting styles of the two hurlers; Burnett does it mostly with a sinker and hard breaking pitches, while Colon gets through by pinpointing essentially one pitch — a fastball of below-average velocity. Is one style more trusted than the other? I have no idea.
OK, the game, which was over almost before it started. The Mets jumped all over Burnett from the get-go, scoring four runs in the first inning, highlighted by doubles by Daniel Murphy and Juan Lagares. Travis d’Arnaud put the game away with a three-run homer in the fifth. The Phillies lineup somehow collected 13 hits, hit into only one double play, and went 3-for-10 with RISP (as did the Mets), but somehow scored just one run as they left 12 on base. And that was the ballgame.