Joe Smith On the Block?

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Can Joe Smith really be on the trading block, as Joel Sherman has reported?

Let’s hope not … most fans are like me, and huge fans of Mr. Smith. However, I can somewhat understand the Mets’ thinking.

First, there is a chance that Smith was a “one hit wonder” … a guy who pitched fantastically more because he was unusual than anything else … like a Shingo Takatsu. The question is was his second-half demise due more to his physical burn out or over exposure?

The Mets might think the latter (over-exposure), and if so, his stock may never be higher than right now.

Second, there is the emergence of Eddie Kunz, who is a similar pitcher in angle and role. For all we know, he may be ahead of Smith for a 2008 spot on the 25-man roster right now. If that’s the case, it makes sense to trade Smith now, while he has good value.

Third, in addition to Kunz, there is Nelson Figueroa, Stephen Register, Joselo Diaz, and others all pitching well — and Brant Rustich somewhere in the mix for ’08 or ’09. Whether they all keep up the pace is question — it’s still early in the spring — but if, for example, Register, Figgy, and Diaz are all continuing to pitch well come late March, someone must be moved.

Personally, I’d be OK with Smith leaving in a package only if it brings back a seriously strong player, a difference-maker — someone like Brandon Inge. I might toss my lunch if Smith gets sent away for scrap heap material such as Marcus Thames or Delwyn Young (both are fine players, but can be had late in the spring for next to nothing).

While I understand the need for a RH-hitting 1B/OF/C — we’ve been talking about it here since what? October? — I don’t get the need for “a middle infielder who can handle shortstop well.” Isn’t that Anderson Hernandez? It’s not like Jose Reyes will be replaced in the late innings for his defense, and I don’t see any problem with putting Ruben Gotay out there for the ten games Reyes will be rested. AHern is perfect insurance in case Reyes goes on the DL (heaven forbid!), because he can hang out in AAA and come up if necessary. The only way it makes sense to bring in someone else to back up shortstop is if the player has a big bat — and I don’t know of too many reserve shortstops with big bats (they’re usually called “starting” shortstops).

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.