29 - Number of blown saves last season by the Mets
15 - Number of blown saves last season by the Phils
3 - Number of games out of first place the Mets finished last season.
I bring to you these numbers because, as you all well know, the Mets took a big step toward solving their bullpen woes by signing Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year deal. The Mets have not officially confirmed the contract, but it is set in stone. The Phillies neighbor to the north has a closer.
What does this mean for the Phillies? First of all, it means Brad Lidge didn't sacrifice as much money as you might have thought when he signed his extension this summer. Lidge's deal went for three years and $37.5 million, which is $500,000 more than K-Rod will reportedly receive. There was a school of thought at the time that Lidge could have secured more money or an extra year had he waited until free agency. But that apparently was not the case. A fair deal all around, it seems.
More importantly, the K-Rod signing means the Mets once again have plenty of pressure on them heading into this season. Last year, they inked Johan Santana to a record deal, leading many to believe - including Carlos Beltran - that they had supplanted the Phillies as the favorite to win the NL East. Things didn't work out quite as planned, thanks in large part to a bullpen that rivaled the Exxon Valdez in terms of oil leakage.
It'll be interesting to see how this move changes they dynamic of the Mets' pen, which had the third-worst ERA in the NL last season.
The latest name to surface in connection with the Phillies is that of veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte, but I'd handle this rumor with care. While there is no doubt Pettitte would be a solid addition to the staff - he has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last four seasons and has shown the ability to pitch well in a hitters' park in Houston - he also made $16 million last season. From the reports I've read, there is little indication that he is looking to take a big pay cut. I'm not saying the Phillies wouldn't hand him that kind of money. But coming off a season in which he posted a 4.54 ERA, I'm sure they would think long and hard about it.