Four Lefties Off the Table
Player pickups are going full force with spring training just weeks away. In the past week, there were dozens of players signed to minor league contracts — some of which may have been at least mildly interesting to Mets fans. Herewith a quick rundown of arbitrarily chosen transactions.
Jeremy Affeldt signs one-year contract with the Reds; Casey Fossum signs minor-league deal with the Pirates; Mike Myers and Tom Martin sign minor-league contracts with the Dodgers.
Affeldt would have been a nice fit, but he took the smart route of getting an opportunity to be a starter. As if we hadn’t noticed, even below average starters make millions more than middle relievers — just ask Aaron Heilman or Jason Marquis. Had he not been offered a spot in the Reds’ rotation, he might have been a nice fit in the old Darren Oliver role. Oh well. Fossum was the key to the Diamondbacks trade of Curt Schilling to the BoSox, but injuries have caused his star to fall. It might’ve been a nice low-risk signing to give him an invite, with hopes he’d somehow find the magic that once made him so special, but he would have been a longshot — he has a much better chance of breaking the Bucs’ roster. Myers is the submariner I was hoping (against hope) that the Mets would sign and use 85-90 times — if you missed it, I wrote an entire article on my submariner theory, and an underhander’s value to today’s bullpens. Martin was an ex-Met who flourished after Flushing — no big loss and no surprise he returned to LA, but on a minor league flyer, he would have been a good guy to have waiting in AAA.
White Sox sign Octavio Dotel to a two-year contract. White Sox DFA, then trade David Aardsma to the Red Sox.
Yes, I’ve been advocating the acquisition of Dotel all winter. And I still think, even at two years, he would have been worth it. If the Mets were willing to give flash-in-the-pan LOOGY Scott Schoeneweis a three-year deal, I see no logic in failing to offer a two-year deal to Dotel, who has tons more upside and significant experience in both closer and setup roles. Yes, his fragility is a concern, but that’s why he came as cheap as he did — if he were healthy, he would have commanded a ‘Cisco Cordero type deal.
In any case, what intrigued me even more was the Aardsma move. Besides supplanting Hank Aaron as the very first player listed in all-time register of MLB players, Aardsma was a 2003 #1 pick after becoming Rice U’s all-time career saves leader. He was rushed to the bigs by the Giants, was knocked back down quickly, and bounced to the Cubs and White Sox in the past two years. Personally, I think this kid has great potential, but needs to stay in one place long enough to build his confidence and prove his worth. He just turned 26 years old, and could be one of those guys who could blossom all at once and “come out of nowhere” — a la Cla Meredith or Tony Pena — to become a valuable middle reliever. After Aardsma was DFA’s, a part of me hoped the Mets’ brass was on the case, but the BoSox moved quickly in acquiring him for two non-prospects. I think he could have been a nice addition to the bullpen depth — particularly since he still has options (according to my interpretation of the rules, anyway).
Rangers sign Franklyn German and Corey Ragsdale to minor league contracts; assign Chris Shelton to AAA.
Ragsdale is a former #1 pick of the Mets who was the penultimate “good field, no hit” shortstop. But, he had an awesome arm so they tried to make him a pitcher last year — the experiment didn’t work any better with him than it did with former catcher Joe Hietpas. I bring it up only because he is a former Mets #1 pick gone bad. Shelton was someone I thought might be a decent guy to have in AAA as a backup to Carlos Delgado. German is a flamethrower who once rated higher than Joel Guzman in the Tigers’ organization. German stands 6’7″, weighs 270 lbs., and hurls the ball in excess of 100 MPH. Why he hasn’t done much is something of a mystery — his strikeout totals in the minors have been insane (career: 531 Ks in 495 IP) but he hasn’t been able to stay on an ML roster. I’ve seen him pitch both in Detroit and in the Dominican League, and can’t figure it out — in the Dominican, he’s been an intimidating, effective closer. He was a free agent this winter and chose to stick with Texas despite spending all of 2007 playing for their AAA team. I would have liked to seen him as one of cans of paint the Mets throw on the wall this spring — a Jorge Julio type that Rick Peterson could have had fun with. But then, I guess that project slot has been filled by Joselo Diaz.
Red Sox sign Danny Kolb and DFA David Aardsma
Now I’m really confused … no I’m not interested in one-hit-wonder Danny Kolb, but I’m trying to understand 1) why the Bosox like Kolb over Aardsma; and 2) how they DFA Aardsma on Jan. 22nd — which was six days before they “officially” acquired him according to MLB.com. If Aardsma is out there again, I wonder if anyone in Flushing is paying attention?
Padres sign OF Jody Gerut to a minor league contract.
This doesn’t really mean much to Mets fans, since Gerut is a lefthanded hitting outfielder — and we already have Endy for that role. But it’s intriguing to me anyway. Gerut finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2003, when he hit 33 doubles, 22 homers, drove in 75 runs, and batted .280 in only 127 games for the Indians. Then he fell off the planet due to knee injuries, and hasn’t appeared in an MLB game since 2005. However, he’s tearing up the Venezuelan league this winter, to the tune of .390 with 80 total bases in 40 games. It appears he’s healthy, and motivated to win a job somewhere. The Padres might have a find in this guy.
Also of note … while researching Gerut, I noticed that former #1 pick Sean Burnett had a 2.45 ERA in Venezuela. Burnett looked promising in a short trial as a 21-year-old in 2004, then succumbed to elbow issues and Tommy John surgery, which eliminated him from competition for all of 2005 and part of ’06. It appears he’s now healthy, and was never a flamethrower — more a control guy with a hard sinker. If his velocity is near the 88-90 range, he has the control and guile to be a solid #4 at the MLB level. He’s still on the Pirates’ 40-man, and it might be interesting to watch his progress. If he cracks the 25-man roster, who knows — he might be trade bait come July.
Did I miss anything? Post your comments below.