K-Rod and the Mets settle

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Francisco Rodriguez and the Mets have settled the grievance K-Rod filed after the team tried to make his deal non-guaranteed. The settlement: his deal is still guaranteed, but he drops his challenge to the Mets placing him on the disqualified list for the end of the 2010 season. That means he basically forfeits the $3.1 million he was owed for that last month and a half or so. He’ll be back on the Mets, deal in place, for the 2011 season.

Thus concludes a really weird chapter in Mets history.  I’m certainly no fan of K-Rod’s in light of this whole incident, and if the allegations about his history with his girlfriend that have emerged in preliminary hearings related to his criminal case are true, he can drop dead as far as I’m concerned. At the same time, I think the Mets approached all of this pretty poorly.

The Mets’ get-tough-stance with K-Rod was one of financial opportunism, not disapproval of his actions.  After the incident in the clubhouse, but before it was revealed that K-Rod hurt his hand, the Mets used him in a game. If he had not been hurt, they no doubt would have continued to use him in games. The extent of the punishment they would have leveled against him was that game or two suspension he served prior to his final appearance. The idea of disqualifying him and then seeking to void his contract — or, at the very least, render it non-guaranteed — was in no way a statement regarding his actual behavior. Just the results.

Nor do I know for certain that the Mets were even viewing it as some kind of stand against that behavior. I’m not accusing them of anything. It may be the case that the team merely saw this as a situation in which they were trying to recoup losses from a player who could not perform as contracted to and the domestic violence stuff didn’t enter into it at all.  I’m just saying that I wish the Mets would have viewed it as a serious situation before they realized K-Rod was hurt — I wish they would have considered his outburst, and not just his injury worthy of punishment — and acted to suspend him then.

I would applaud any team that wanted to take a stance against domestic violence, even if doing so meant going up against the union on what may have been a lost cause. I don’t think the Mets were doing that here, and that bums me out a little.

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph: “We suck”

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As I mentioned in the recaps this morning, Baltimore lost its 107th game last night, tying its 1988 mark for the most losses in Orioles history. They will certainly break that record and will almost certainly blast by the all-time franchise loss record of 111, set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns. That team only played a 154-game schedule so the O’s likely won’t be the worst team in the franchise’s 118-season history by winning percentage, but it’ll be close enough.

Over at The Athletic Dan Connolly reports that one Oriole, catcher Caleb Joseph, is well aware of how bad the Orioles are and he is not mincing words about it:

“I’m not a loser. So, to be associated with that severity of losing is embarrassing. It’s shameful really . . . I don’t blame [fans] at all [for not attending games]. We suck.”

That last bit was in response to Matt Olson of the Athletics coming up to him before a recent game, noticing how many empty seats there were in Camden Yards and asking Joseph if it was always like that. Let that sink in: a player for the Oakland Athletics who, year after year, have some of the worst attendance in baseball, is shocked at how poorly Baltimore is drawing.

As for Joseph, he spends a lot of time talking about how the attitude is all wrong with the Orioles, how there does not seem to be any accountability and how things weren’t like that when he came up back when the Orioles were winning. Which, well, yeah.

Baseball players often attribute winning and losing to whatever attitude is prevailing around the clubhouse. Maybe that’s true on greatly underachieving teams or borderline teams that aren’t catching the breaks, but it seems far more likely that winning makes teams happy and instills camaraderie while losing makes teams sad and makes people look inward. Players tend to get the causation wrong about all of that because, I suspect, they don’t want to admit that they’re not as talented as the competition so it has to come down to some motivational or mental defect. Which, if that makes a player feel better, fine, but these O’s weren’t going to win many games even if they came in with smiles on their faces while singing “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” out of their rear ends every day. They just aren’t good.

Whatever you think of all of that, one thing is clear: the O’s need to clean house in a major, major way.