Veteran Bats Moving Fast

Only a few days ago we discussed various possibilities for the Mets’ bench, focusing on righthanded batters who ideally play 1B, OF, and/or catcher.

Since then, several veterans have been scooped up, including many mentioned here (by me and you). Hat tip to Walnutz on some of these.

Herewith a roundup of recent last-minute signings and ST invites:

Mike Sweeney (Athletics)
Once again Billy Beane grabs a vet with an excellent bat on the cheap. Sweeney accepted a minor league deal with an ST invite and the “opportunity” to back up Jack Cust, Dan Johnson, and Daric Barton at DH / 1B. Looking at that situation, maybe he would have been OK backing up Carlos Delgado and putting on the catcher’s gear once in a while for a team focused on the postseason. Who knows, Delgado may slump and the Mets may decide to overbuy at the trading deadline for Sweeney.

Tony Clark (Padres)
Clark returns to his home in San Diego for $900K and remains in the NL West, a division he knows well. He was too tall for the Mets anyway.

Craig Wilson (Reds)
The OF/C struggled with the bat the last two years due to injury, but claims he’s now healthy. He accepted a minor league deal with ST invite. According to Ken Rosenthal:

The Mets, looking for an inexpensive, right-handed hitting outfielder, considered free agent Craig Wilson before he signed a minor-league contract with the Reds.

The team does not believe Shannon Stewart or Kevin Mench would provide adequate insurance if Moises Alou were injured — Stewart has a below-average arm and Mench is a below-average defender.

Mench is expected to sign a minor-league deal with the Rangers.

Chris Woodward (Yankees)
The Yanks invite the hairless utlityman to spring training. There wasn’t any talk of him returning to Shea, but his hard play and strong fundamentals made him something of a fan favorite while with the Mets, so thought I’d mention it.

Eric Hinske (Rays)
Hinske took an ST invite to fight for a spot on the Tampa Bay roster. He was a lefty bat and strikes out a lot so not much interest for the Mets, but worth noting.

Juan Gonzalez
Yes, THAT Juan Gonzalez. Glad the Mets didn’t so much as kick the tires on this one.

Sean Casey (Red Sox)
Again, a lefthanded bat, but worth noting. He’s a good fit for the Bosox.

Pitchers Picked Up

Victor Zambrano (Rockies)
Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca (former Met as well) says he can fix this guy in NINE minutes.

Mike Lincoln (Reds)
This guy had a couple of good years as a middle reliever, then his ERA doubled and hasn’t been seen in the bigs since 2004.

Brendan Donnelly
Once a lights-out setup man, Donnelly had Tommy John surgery this past August and was named in the Mitchell Report but still found an ST invite. Shows you how desperate teams are to find bullpen help.

Sean Burnett
The Bucs DFA’d Burnett, no one claimed him, and they re-signed him to a minor league deal. I still think he would have been worth stashing in AAA, but we’ll see what he does this spring.

Josh Towers (Rockies)
Glad he signed with the Rockies because it means he didn’t sign with the Mets. In the mold of Adam Eaton / Josh Fogg, except he’s not even that good.

Matt DeSalvo (Braves)
Nothing interesting here, other than he was with the Yanks so you probably heard of him.

Mike Maroth (Royals)
At first glance, I thought he might be a good choice for AAA depth, but he’s most likely the lefthanded version of Brian Lawrence — except he throws a bit slower.

Scott Elarton (Indians)
The eternal enigma, Elarton gives the Indians a chance to look stupid.

If you are interested, here are a few of the free agents still waiting for an ST invite:

– Sammy Sosa
– Antonio Alfonseca
– Bartolo Colon
– Armando Benitez
– Tony Batista
– Kris Benson
– Russell Branyan
– Shawn Chacon
– Jeff Cirillo
– Kyle Lohse
– Shawn Green
– Livan Hernandez
– Jason Tyner
– Mike Piazza
– Aaron Sele
– Jeff Weaver
– David Wells

There are others … but the names don’t get much prettier.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. whatdatmean February 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm
    i would still consider on 1 yr deals:
    chacon for long relief
    green to play OF/1B-i really think we need a true backup 1b, we are taking a big risk. is a lefty, but splits arent bad
    Weaver for AAA-has shown big game potential
    Alfonseca to AAA
    Lohse to a 2 yr deal….would make a nice option to split time with the duq and take the #5 spot next year[considering we only have 3 SP, including pelf]
  2. Walnutz15 February 11, 2008 at 5:54 pm
    Speaking of Minor League deals….maybe Lohse will fall into Omar’s lap afterall?

    From Rotoworld:

    Orioles signed RHP Steve Trachsel to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

    Trachsel began last season with the Orioles, going 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 starts before being traded to the Cubs in late August. His 4.90 ERA in 29 starts overall makes it surprising that he couldn’t find a major league deal anywhere, but Trachsel is 37 years old and his horrible 56/76 K/BB ratio probably scared most teams off. He’ll compete with Troy Patton, Garrett Olson, Matt Albers and Hayden Penn for the final two spots in the Orioles’ rotation.…MLb&id=1908

  3. Walnutz15 February 11, 2008 at 7:23 pm
    Can’t hurt — another Omar Expo special….….aspx?sport=MLB

    Mets signed RHP Tony Armas Jr. to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
    Not that he had much chance anyway after posting a 6.03 ERA last season, but Armas picked the wrong place to win a rotation spot given the Mets’ pitching depth following the deal for Johan Santana. Barring an injury, his best chance to win a spot on the Opening Day roster will likely come as a long reliever.

  4. isuzudude February 11, 2008 at 8:42 pm
    Way to stay on top of things, ‘Nutz

    Personally, I like giving Armas a minor league deal more than giving someone like Lohse a multi-year, major league deal. I’d be some some serious shock if Omar were to give any pitcher – starter or reliever – a major league contract at this point. Seriously, we all know how fragile El Duque is, but after his tremendous (albeit abbreviated) 2007 campaign, it’s impossible to envision Omar demoting Hernandez to the bullpen or spot starter duty. Duque is the #5, end of debate. And I’m sure Omar thinks having Sosa, Pelfrey, Vargas, Bostick, Figueroa, Joselo Diaz, Jonathan Niese, Robert Parnell, and now Armas around is more than enough insurance in case of an injury or two to the starting rotation without having to give a current free agent a very valuable guarenteed 25-man roster spot along with a few million dollars.

    I would have preferred Ramon Ortiz over Armas, but I’m glad it’s not Chacon or Colon.

    Just some fun stats on Armas…
    – Over 58.2 IP during the 2nd half of 2007, he had a 4.30 ERA and held opponents to a .239 average with 46 K’s.
    – Over his career at Shea Stadium, Armas has a 3.25 ERA in 27.2 IP.
    – He is very familiar pitching to Brian Schneider, as the two spent many years in Washington together. As a tandem, Armas has a respectable .260 opponents batting average.

    Mad props to

  5. Walnutz15 February 12, 2008 at 9:29 am
    Interesting to see that the Twins sign the Mets fallback option — after the Metsies trade for their ace.


    Terms of the deal are not yet known.

  6. Walnutz15 February 12, 2008 at 9:31 am