Karpin: Losing Bartolo Colon Doesn’t Smell So Bad for the Mets

The Braves signing Bartolo Colon away from the Mets is not a re-enactment of the “midnight massacre” from 1977.

The Mets didn’t lose Tom Seaver, or Jerry Koosman, or Dwight Gooden. They let a 43-year old pitcher, who relies on guile and experience, walk because they couldn’t meet his desire to be a starting pitcher and he didn’t really fit their needs at this time.

As the great philosopher Hyman Roth said to Michael Corleone when discussing Frank “Five Angels” Petangeli, “He’s small potatoes.”

When it comes to the Mets’ big picture, Colon is “small potatoes.”

It’s funny how the reaction has changed over the past three years.

When they signed him three years ago, I was in the minority for saying it was a good move.

The signing was being called “stupid” by some but it worked out.

Colon won 44 games during his three year Mets tenure. He gave them 95 starts out of 98 appearances and he gave them innings. His at-bats were “must watches” but it became a “sideshow”. His adventures as a hitter (he was not a good bunter) weren’t helping a team that played in the National League and had trouble scoring runs with their everyday “eight”. His successes at the plate were few and far between.

Even when he got on base, did you cringe knowing that he would have trouble scoring from second on a two out double?

As my colleague at NY Sports Day, Joe McDonald, pointed out in his piece about the former Mets pitcher, “Colon had a very positive influence on Jeurys Familia”, but that extended to the other young Latino players on the Mets also.

That’s all well and good but you don’t pay Colon to be a clubhouse presence.

Colon is ten wins shy of tying Juan Marichal for the most wins in major league history by a Dominican born pitcher. The Mets couldn’t guarantee he would get the chance to get those wins.

Colon signed with a Braves team that doesn’t figure to be a contender next season and ranked as one of the worst defensive teams in the sport. Not a good combination for a 44-year old who cannot strike out batters on a consistent basis and who, when he doesn’t have it, cannot “grind” through a game and can get lit up.

It appears that being with a team that had a chance to win was not on Colon’s wish list. He wanted a team that could guarantee him a spot in their rotation.

That being said, where do the Mets go from here.

The health of the rotation (Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard) is a key to next season’s success. That is a given, with or without Colon.

I know Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are not proven major league commodities but they showed enough last season (in the pressure of a playoff race) to take a “risk” on going into next season. I like Gsellman better as a starter but both have shown they can pitch out of the bullpen.

There are arms on the rise in the Mets system. 20-year old left hander Thomas Szapucki has been “wowing” the scouts with his mid-90’s fastball and a “12 to 6” curve ball. 21-year old right hander and the Mets first round pick in this year’s draft, Justin Dunn, was impressive at Brooklyn but is a little farther away from the majors than Szapucki.

Granted, both are just prospects but you never know who can “come out of nowhere” to help the big club.

If the Mets suffer the same amount of injuries to their pitching staff next season as they did this past season, then no amount of depth can cover those kind of devastating losses.

Just because Colon did well out of the bullpen in the 2015 post season, I’m not sold on him being a “swing-man.” Despite having a “rubber arm”, the portly right-hander has a starter’s mentality and functions better with the “five-day” routine.

The Mets got more than they bargained for when they signed Colon three years ago.

It was time to move on.


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