On Thursday, the New York Mets signed 40-year-old RHP Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million contract. Last season, Colon posted a 18-6 record with a 2.65 ERA as a member of the Oakland A’s. Colon was surprisingly durable, striking out 117 batters in 190 innings. Over the last three season, Colon has tossed at least 152 innings, silencing his critics that his girth (265 LBs) and age (41 in May) will lead to his decline. Still, this signing is high risk and there are a few reasons why Colon could crap out in New York:
- Home Run Rate: Over the course of his career, Colon has given up one home run per every eight innings. Colon called Oakland home for the last two seasons and only allowed one home run per every 9.1 innings. The Oakland Coliseum, which is known as a pitcher’s park, is the fifth friendliest stadium for pitchers. After moving its fence in, Citi Field was 14th last season. On the surface, the change from the AL West to NL East should present easier line-ups, but the park factors may make this a moot point.
- Injuries: Despite throwing 152+ innings over the last three seasons, Colon has made multiple trips to the disabled list for thigh, abdomen, and groin issues.
- 2013 Playoffs: Colon was passed over for the inexperienced Sonny Gray during the ALDS. Colon had an ugly August (0-2, 8.41 ERA in three starts) and A’s promptly sat him down for two weeks. Colon responded and went 4-1 during September, but the need for a ‘break’ does not exactly installed confidence in Met fans.
- Pitch Selection: Call it an aberration or a way to beat Father Time, but a whopping 87% of his pitches last year were fastballs. Curve balls and sliders obviously cause stress on the arm, but one has to wonder how long Colon’s fastball velocity will remain a Major League level. Last season, Colon’s fastball averaged 90.1 MPH.
If you examine signings thus far, Colon’s deal appears to be a good one. Dan Haren (1 year, $10 million), Scott Feldman (3/30), and Tim Hudson (1/12), received similar deals, but Colon’s workload and performance has been better.However, a 2-year, $20 million deal for a Met team that isn’t expected to compete doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Met won’t have their ace as Matt Harvey rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Colon could arguably be the Met ‘ace’, but he could also re-injure his thigh and miss two months. Colon has never been one to mentor younger players, so the Mets aren’t getting a player that’s interested in helping develop younger players. A two-year deal to a contender would make sense, but for a Met team that needs to develop younger players, it’s a waste of money. This move was strictly done to appease the Met fan base.