Mets Land RH Bat

The Mets finally added the last piece to the puzzle — a veteran righthanded-hitting bat to come off the bench and fill in at 1B behind Carlos Delgado. They’ve signed Olmedo Saenz to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

Oops … hope you were sitting down for that; otherwise the excitement likely would have caused you to fall over. (Luckily most people surf the ‘net while seated.)

While many of us have been clamoring for Kevin Mench, he decided to take a minor league deal and invite from his former club the Texas Rangers. It’s possible that the Mets made him a similar offer, but he was more comfortable returning to his roots. By all public accounts, he was quite happy in Arlington, and not everyone is thrilled by the idea of the pressure cooker in the big city. So be it.

Before we all go crazy with criticism on the Saenz signing, remember that it is a minor league deal and he’ll have to earn a spot on the MLB roster. In addition, if his bat speed looks good in the spring, this could prove to be a great addition. Before hitting only .191 with the Dodgers last season, Saenz was one of the premier RH pinch-hitters in the big leagues — in 2006, he hit .296 with 11 HRs in 179 ABs, which were almost identical numbers to Damion Easley’s in ’07. In addition, Saenz can play both infield corner positions, and is generally considered to be a good clubhouse guy. Yes, he’s starting to sound a lot like Julio Franco, but at least in this case, there’s no multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract in place. So if he’s hitting .078 in late May, it won’t be a big deal to cut him loose or send him down to the farm.

Whether Saenz has a real chance to make the team depends a lot on how he looks when he reports. If he looks like Olmedo Saenz of 2002-2006, he has a chance; if he looks like Horatio Sanz, we could have another Bret Boone-like retirement within a week. All in all, I like the signing — no risk, decent return if he pans out.

Livan Off the Market

Besides Mench signing with Texas, the Twins quietly announced that they signed Livan Hernandez. Interesting move, as he steps right into the spot that Carlos Silva left behind — and he might well outperform Silva. Livan will be expected to eat up innings and take some of the pressure off the myriad young arms that will be on the mound for Minnesota in 2008. A wise, shrewd move by the Twins — and one that came almost out of nowhere.

The only other ST invites of consequence: Doug Mientkiewicz signed with the Pirates (why, no one knows) and the Orioles handed invites to Steve Trachsel and OF Luke Scott — who hit 18 HRs and 28 doubles in 369 ABs for the Astros last year.

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. Walnutz15 February 13, 2008 at 7:34 am
    1. Is it mandatory to think of Horatio Sanz when hearing Olmedo Saenz’s name? Thanks for confirming I’m not going crazy through the power of subliminary messages, Joe.

    2. “Before hitting only .191 with the Dodgers last season, Saenz was one of the premier RH pinch-hitters in the big leagues — in 2006, he hit .296 with 11 HRs in 179 ABs, which were almost identical numbers to Damion Easley’s in ‘07.”

    ^ I’m more afraid of the idea that the very same Damion Easley that everyone seems to be depending on as the RH bat off the bench — drops off to the point of Saenz’s 2007 numbers.

    3. I like this signing on the basis of a Minor League deal — with a more or less defined role for Saenz. He’s okay with being a RH pinch hitter, with a very limited role…..Julio Franco wasn’t. And that’s where the problems began.

    Saenz makes the team, it means he was swinging it in ST. If he doesn’t, he becomes Andres Galarraga and disappears from Met memory.

    4. Rawja Clehmens is a dewshbag. Ov awl thuh draaamaatic things eye have evah seeen in myy entyah lyfe….he throws his own wife under a bus!! — attaboy, Raj.

    Thanks for confirming your douchebaggery to the entire world.

  2. Walnutz15 February 13, 2008 at 1:03 pm
    Subliminal, even….lol — MUST have been early when I posted that.
  3. joe February 13, 2008 at 4:13 pm
    1. Yes. Olmedo Saenz = Horatio Sanz

    2. I was hoping someone would notice that. The only difference is that Saenz had consistent success before 2006 — unlike Easley, who has been fairly inconsistent since becoming a role player.

    3. Agreed.

    4. Yessum, dat Clemmins ain’t no genteelman.

  4. isuzudude February 15, 2008 at 9:34 am
    Metsblog is reporting the Mets will sign OF Brady Clark to a minor league contract. Another righty!

    How about this minor league team at New Orleans?
    OF Brady Clark
    OF Angel Pagan
    OF Ben Johnson/Jose Valentin
    1B Olmedo Saenz
    2B Anderson Hernandez
    SS Anderson Machado
    3B Fernando Tatis
    C Raul Casanova/Robinson Cancel

    No prospects, but I’d say all are capable of being adequate major league fill-ins.