A RH Hitter To Consider

Andy Marte of the IndiansIt would be a risky gamble, but it could pay off — big time.

Only two years ago, Andy Marte was one of, if not THE, top prospect in all of baseball. The Braves shipped him to the Red Sox for All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria, and the Bosox flipped him to the Indians (along with Kelly Shoppach and Guillermo Mota) for Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard.

However, he has struggled at advanced levels, batting only in the .260s in AAA and barely above the Mendoza Line in the bigs. The Indians have to keep him on the 25-man roster when spring training breaks, or place him on waivers because he is out of options.

To make matters worse for Cleveland, Marte came into camp out of shape and has been struggling. There is a very good chance that he will not truly earn a spot on the big league roster by the end of March. He might be carried regardless, because if he isn’t, he’ll be seen as a flop.

A few things intrigue me about Marte. First, he was considered a better prospect than Lastings Milledge a year ago. Second, he’s only 24 and therefore has time to turn around — maybe moving him to AAA as a 21-year-old was too soon. Third, the Tribe has been working him out at both first base and the outfield in an effort to make him more valuable off the bench. My, my … couldn’t the Mets use a righthanded-hitting first baseman / outfielder?

It’s possible that Marte will never live up to the extraordinary expectations thrown his way a few years ago — it wouldn’t be the first time a “can’t-miss” prospect missed. But the Indians have their hands tied with him, and really don’t have a place for him on the ML roster. In contrast, the Mets need a player exactly like Marte — both right now and next year. If Marte can get back on track, he could be the ideal “heir apparent” to the first base job that Carlos Delgado will be leaving behind after this season.

This from Dayton Moore, in a quote from Baseball America in 2006:

“Andy profiles as a guy who has the ability to hit in the middle of the lineup of a championship major league team. He has all the ingredients to be a special hitter.”

Marte’s dropoff is due to a mechanical flaw — whereas he used to have a solid, level, line-drive swing, he fell into the bad habit of dropping his shoulder and pulling off pitches after joining the Indians organization. He used to do things “correctly”, so in my mind he can be fixed. I haven’t seen him this spring, so have no idea if he’s already on his way to better mechanics.

The risk, of course, is that Marte may never find his “old” swing, could indeed be a flop, and would have to be kept on the 25-man roster all year. For a team planning to go to the postseason, they have to have all 25 man contributing. Tough call, but if Marte pans out, the Mets could have a circa 1986 Kevin Mitchell type of player, who can come off the bench in 2008 and take over a starting position in the lineup for many years to come. And considering the Tribe’s tough circumstances, the cost could be relatively low.

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. isuzudude March 10, 2008 at 9:38 am
    Certainly a name worth considering, Joe.

    Another story that caught my attention:

    Perhaps the Dodgers might be interested in Ruben Gotay, while the Mets could ask for Jason Repko in return. He’s coming off hamstring surgery, which forced him to miss all of 2007, but is hitting .313 in 16 ABs this Spring. He’s under contract thru 2010, and I’m not sure about options, so I don’t know how willing the Dodgers would be to trade him. But if they’re desperate enough for IF help after the loss of Andy LaRoche, perhaps Repko can be had for Gotay. I’d be more ambitious and mention Matt Kemp, but I doubt the Dodgers are looking to part with him unless they get Jose Reyes or David Wright back in return.

    Just throwing names against the wall to see what sticks.

  2. isuzudude March 10, 2008 at 9:49 am
    BTW Joe – just read your article over at Gotham (http://gothambaseballmagazine.com/mets/mets-bullpen-why-willie-gets-a-pass.html) and I have to say very nice job. Mike Lupica has nothing on you. Do you know how many times you’ll be contributing over there, and if it will have any impact on the existence of MetsToday?
  3. Micalpalyn March 10, 2008 at 1:42 pm
    Nice post:

    Marte and Repko fit into the mold of players who have no significant chance of cracking their teams everyday line up, and the Mets need to plan for 09. Carp and Evans do not have significant stock and Del has a restrictive contract and right now looks like having a Shawn Green year. By that i mean even a good yr will not get him anything but a contract buyout.

    On that note what is your feelings about Rocco Baldelli? Is he just a young Cliff Floyd?

  4. joe March 10, 2008 at 2:13 pm
    isuzu, thanks for the props … yes I hope to be writing more for Gotham … i often have these ideas that turn into stories that are way too long for MetsToday, and I’m going to try to have them posted there. Thanks again.

    Hopefully being on Gotham will help drive a few people over here … these server fees are not getting cheaper.

    Repko … I LIKE it!

    Baldelli I like a lot, but you’re right he may be in the Cliff Floyd / Darin Erstad / Jim Edmonds mold of a guy who plays too hard and winds up with injuries. If he’s available — and I don’t think he is based on the exits of Dukes and Young — I imagine he’d be expensive … meaning, costing F-Mart or a package of the rest of what remains of the prospects.

  5. sincekindergarten March 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm
    Marte, a former Braves’ prospect, on the Mets . . . the irony would be too rich. Ya think he’d be willing to prove his old team wrong for letting him go?
  6. Micalpalyn March 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm
    Baldelli: The problem Tampa is showing is that they have too many blue chippers. Baldelli (see MLBrumors) has a contract kicker upcoming and his injury history could make the Rays spin him off for a useable part. That said I hate to repeat history and even give them Jon Niese.
  7. joe March 10, 2008 at 5:47 pm
    Knowing TB, they’d want Niese + Pelfrey + FMart.
  8. sincekindergarten March 10, 2008 at 6:20 pm
    Which means, Baldelli’s staying in Tampa.
  9. Micalpalyn March 12, 2008 at 11:15 am
    I kinda disagree. I think a viable ML ready player could fetch Baldelli, who could play LF-RF until he gets injured again….right about the time Moises is ready. Hopefully they coordinate their injury schedules.
  10. joe March 12, 2008 at 11:28 am
    OK, Mic, I’ll take the bait … who is the viable ML ready player that the Mets can offer?

    Personally I’d guess they’d seek another arm, so maybe Ollie Perez? Pelfrey + ?

    Remember Baldelli is locked up for a while at a fairly cheap rate, has All-Star skills, and is a good face for the organization.

  11. joe March 12, 2008 at 12:14 pm
    OK, Mic, I’m interested now and see your point.

    But based on the reasons the Rays may be interested in dumping him, it would seem that Baldelli would not be of much help currently — but rather a gamble that he’d help later in the season or 2009.

    Maybe the Rays would take Ruddy Lugo in return for Baldelli, for no reason other than they still owe us one for the Kazimir deal.

  12. isuzudude March 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm
    There should be no interest at all in Baldelli. http://blogs.tampabay.com/rays/2008/03/baldelli.html
    This is apparently a career-threatening disability. For the money he’s owed, why would the Mets want to give up anything for a guy who might not ever play again?
  13. joe March 12, 2008 at 12:44 pm
    dear lord … the Baldelli plot thickens every hour!

    sounds like he could be an ideal candidate for a legal prescription of HGH

  14. » Trade With Indians? » Mets Today March 20, 2008 at 11:52 pm
    […] alternative for fifth starter insurance … or who knows, maybe I was on to something with the Andy Marte […]