Trade Partner: Texas Rangers

With Moises Alou out until May and Carlos Delgado having hip problems, the Mets are even more desperate for a 1B / OF than they were when camp opened a few weeks ago.

Add in the fact that Olmedo Saenz can’t play in games due to visa issues, Brady Clark is not exactly tearing up opposing pitching, and Michel Abreu’s bat speed can be clocked with a sun dial, and it’s clear that the answer will have to come from outside the organization.

Enter the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers are in dire need of pitching — particularly bullpen help. Their closer is a combination of Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson (who?), and they have Frankie Francisco, Joaquin Benoit, Josh Rupe, and John Rheinecker as the leading candidates to fill out the rest of the ‘pen.

So it’s obvious that Texas needs to go outside their organization to find more experienced and proven arms for their bullpen. What they have a surplus of happens to be righthanded-hitting outfielders and first basemen. Huh.

Their outfield is oversaturated, with the projected starters looking to be Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, and Marlon Byrd, and rookie David Murphy pressing all three for playing time. They also have Kevin Mench in camp, as well as Frank Catalonotto. First base will likely be shared between Catalanotto and Ben Broussard, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia getting some time there as well, considering that Gerald Laird remains their best defensive catcher.

Three players not yet mentioned include Jason Botts, Nelson Cruz, Chris Shelton — all are righthanded hitters, all have played both the outfield and first base, and none are in the Rangers’ plans.

Looking at the Rangers’ bullpen, it would seem that they’d be only too happy to surrender one of those three in return for a veteran reliever such as Scott Schoeneweis or Jorge Sosa — dontcha think? All the pundits have been wondering where in the world the Mets would be able to unload The Show, but apparently Arlington did not occur to anyone.

Yes, I’ve brought up these names before, and you’re likely getting tired of hearing them. But from this point of view it looks like such a great match for so many reasons, I feel it necessary to throw it out there one more time. Specifically, the Mets open up a bullpen spot for someone like Stephen Register, and get a young righthanded slugger who can slot right in for the short term. If the slugger succeeds, great, and if he fails, so what? All it cost was a previously immovable contract. Little risk, potentially medium-high reward.

Omar, you reading?

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 March 6, 2008 at 8:08 am
    You’ll be elated to know that Olmedo Saenz played in his 1st ST game yesterday afternoon. Figures he gets the work Visa hours after I come out and post that he can’t play until he gets one.

    Maybe I should report that I think 6 out of 8 Met starters will be out the entire season….and they’ll magically come back tomorrow?

  2. isuzudude March 6, 2008 at 8:50 am
    Kudos to you, Joe. You’ve been calling for the Mets to seek a trade to acquire either Cruz or Botts since seemingly the start of the offseason, and there’s no question either would provide a huge lift to the bench. Of the 3 Rangers you mentioned, including Shelton, I think I’d prefer Botts the most, although he’d probably cost the most to obtain. I’m down on Cruz because he reminds me too much of a less-disciplined Victor Diaz, if you can imagine that. He hasn’t impressed me with his chances vs. LHP (.212 last year)….also, contrary to your post, Cruz has not played 1B in his career (unless you’re counting Spring Training or Winter Ball). Shelton was designated for assignment by Texas in January, only to clear waivers and be assigned to AAA. So the Mets had their chance to get him for free then, but passed, and it would stick in my side if now they had to give up something – anything – to get him. Plus, even with a light hitting Sean Casey at 1B for the Tigers last year, Detroit kept Shelton in AAA all season, a sign to me that he is not an answer for our injury woes.

    Botts interests me most. Switch-hitter, who hits LHP well (.333 in ’07). Only played corner OF last year, but has plenty of 1B experience in the minors. Hits for power, average, and takes a walk. Of course, I’d presume Texas would want more than just Sosa or The Show in exchange, especially considering Botts is making league minimum thru next year and won’t be a FA until after the 2012 season, while Sosa is a FA after this year and Show is making way more money than he deserves. I wouldn’t be surprised if Texas asks for a Jonathan Niese, Jason Vargas, or possibly even Mike Pelfrey for Botts. IMHO, those prices are too much for a temporary LF/1B injury fill-in, unless Omar envisions Botts becoming the heir to Delgado’s 1B throne in 2009. He’d obviously become the best 1B prospect in the organization if he were to be acquired. I only wish it’d be as easy as casting off a Sosa or Show to get Botts, but I think, realistically, it’s going to take alot more than that…which is why, again, I’ll go back to Thames and say his fit is best because he’s a FA after this year and will most likely come cheaper than one of the youngsters held by Texas. And for 2008, I think Thames, Botts, or Cruz could all produce very similar numbers.

    And just as an update, Saenz’s visa issue is cleared up now b/c he played in the Mets ST game vs. LA yesterday, going 0 for 3.

  3. joe March 6, 2008 at 9:18 am
    Good points isuzu … one thing, though, is that Botts and Cruz have no options, so the Rangers are in a fix, and I think either of those players would come fairly easily. One thing I like about Shelton is that he can catch; otherwise I agree he’s not the final answer to start at 1B if Delgado goes down for the count. But I don’t think we’re looking for a starter … yet. My focus is on guys that we’d be OK to throw away if they didn’t work out.

    This from a Q&A on Evan Grant’s column at the Dallas Morning News:

    Q: The battle between Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz is an important one, as it is likely that the “loser” might find himself traded or designated for assignment. So far, they are getting plenty of AB’s. What exactly are the Rangers looking for? Is it end results? Does sample size play a role? Do they factor in winter ball, as both of them played well?

    Patrick, Somerville, Mass.

    GRANT: Bottom line, they’ve got to hit the ball and produce runs when they have opportunities. Case in point: Botts had a chance to drive home a run with less than two outs in a game last week. He bounced to short for what would have been an inning-ending double play had the first baseman not dropped the relay from second. That’s a bad wasted chance.

    Botts’ fielding has improved and he’s showing some ability to play first base, but his defense is never going to be considered much better than marginal (at least not in the U.S.; in Mexico, he’s a Gold Glover). He’s got to hit the ball with authority to have a shot at making the roster. Cruz is going to win virtually any defensive tiebreakers, unless the Rangers really, really need a backup first baseman (and with Frank Catalanotto and Ramon Vazquez on the roster, I can’t see them being that desperate for a backup first baseman).

    To me, it comes down to this. Botts has to clearly have the best offensive spring of the bunch (including Kevin Mench) to make the team. If it is close between Botts, Cruz and Mench, I think Cruz gets the spot, Mench goes to Oklahoma and Botts gets put on waivers. If neither Cruz nor Botts show much this spring, it’s possible the Rangers might keep Mench and place the other two on waivers.

  4. isuzudude March 6, 2008 at 9:31 am
    Good stuff, Joe. In your opinion – or anyone else willing to contribute their 2 cents – what’s the most realistic trade proposal to get accepted?

    A. Botts for Sosa or Show
    B. Botts for Joe Smith
    C. Botts for Jon Niese or Jason Vargas
    D. Botts for some A-ball scrub
    E. None of the above (list your own best proposal)

  5. whatdatmean March 6, 2008 at 10:59 am
    outstanding spot guys! excellent facts and points…
    1 problem…you got me very excited for the Mets to pull in this talent, but its not even an official rumor yet! ughh…we absolutely need some additional insurance for delgado/alou.
    From the way it was written above, it looks like Botts will be the odd man out, and he also sounds like he is the right fit for the Mets.
    Botts will have to pass through waivers, so Texas would be better served adding a player.
    If im the Mets, you have to push the issue of trading Show…
    he isnt as bad as Mets fans see him. if used primarily as a LOOGY w/occasional other use, he would be effective. he does own lefties. ditching his contract would be a plus for the Mets. As for Texas, they would add a vet to lead a young BP, who has done everything. He was a SP, long relief, loogy, set up, and was a closer. I think its a smart move for Texas, especially bc the Mets would just snatch him off of waivers anyway!
    We would likely have to eat a large portion of his salary and include a low level prospect, but it would be worth it!

    btw…anyone know if register is/was a SP?
    if we move Sosa, our depth is: pelf-still working on a 2nd pitch, Figgy-looks good, but is a soft-tosser like lawrence/sele, armas-not in the country yet, vargas-on the shelf, heilman-blacklisted to the BP.
    Im on the fence about losing Sosa.

  6. joe March 6, 2008 at 12:15 pm
    Register always has been a reliever, to my knowledge. He’s a future closer, some say.

    Good point on the lack of starting depth … we may want to hold on to Sosa until we get positive news re: Vargas, at the least.

    Kyle Lohse, Jeff Weaver, and Freddy Garcia are all still out there, BTW.