We’ve been teased for weeks now. First, it was the question of whether Shawn Green would clear waivers. He did. Then, it was a question of him waiving his no-trade clause. Despite reports to the contrary, the no-trade appears to be a non-issue. Now, the question is money: how much and who pays it. Then, there is the issue of who goes where, but in 21st century MLB, that is the least of of the details.
So why do we need Shawn Green? Simple: we need offense.
Let’s look at the possible Mets’ opponents in the NL playoffs: Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Astros, Phillies.
In a short series — such as a playoff series — the one fear is running into fantastic pitching. The kind of pitching that can shut down a lineup, no matter how strong it is. This is usually power pitching, the likes of Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, or the Schilling / Johnson tandem of 2001. Taking a look at the possible playoff opponents, the only team I see with that type of pitching is the Astros (Clemens, Oswalt, Pettitte). The only other team capable of shutting down the Mets offensive, apparently, is the Phillies. However, last weeks’ showing against Cole Hamels, Randy Wolf, and Jon Lieber was more of a mirage — a combination of pitchers performing to or possibly above their present capability on the same evenings that several Mets batters were in uncharacteristic slumps. Even still, it is encouraging to realize that the Astros and the Phillies likely have the least chance of making the playoffs.
Looking at the remaining teams — the Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers, D’Backs, and Padres — there doesn’t appear to be one “shutdown” rotation that the Mets should fear. The Cardinals have Mark Mulder coming off a serious injury, a more hittable Chris Carpenter, and a Trachsel-like combination of Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan. The Reds have decent pitching, but nothing that would strike fear into a batter’s heart — especially since Bronson Arroyo fell back to earth. The Dodgers, meanwhile, match up best against the Mets, but outside of Brad Penny, don’t really have anyone especially dominating in their rotation. Solid, yes. Dominating, no. Looking at the D’Backs, you have Brandon Webb, who the Mets have beaten (and also been dominated by), but a collection of questions marks in slots 2 through 5. And the Padres, who at this point are fading fast, have Jake Peavy and not much else to be overly concerned with. In addition, Peavy is having a very inconsistent season.
So, barring unusual, adrenalin-driven performances such as what the Hamels-Wolf-Lieber trio pulled last week, it’s doubtful that starting pitching will dominate the NL playoffs. More likely, the winning teams will rely on bullpens and offense.
Take a look at what Yankees GM Brian Cashman did at the trading deadline. He surveyed the market and saw there was a shortage of dominating pitchers; and with the Yanks’ trade chips, there was little or no possibility of gaining one anyway. However, there were a number of bats available, so Cashman took the plunge and stole Bobby Abreu and Craig Wilson. If anyone had a doubt about the value of adding those two bats, it was erased in the five-game sweep in Fenway. Even without Sheffield and Matsui, the Yankees had maybe the top offensive lineup in baseball before July 31st; after the trades, there is no question. Presently constructed, the Bronx Bombers are just that, with a professional hitter and/or a power threat in every slot from one through nine. Ask Terry Francona what a lineup like that can do to the outcome of a game, even when you have Curt Schilling pitching the first seven innings of a game, and a dominating closer such as Jonathan Papelbon available to pitch two innings in relief.
Similarly, Omar Minaya should be taking advantage of what the market offers, rather than mining for what isn’t available. Unless the Giants want to tell their fans to stay home in September, and make Jason Schmidt available, it is highly unlikely a worthwhile starter will be available between now and August 31st. Also, the addition of Guillermo Mota — 6+ ERA and all — was probably the best that could be done for the bullpen. So as much as the Mets might like to bolster their pitching for the playoffs, it’s not going to happen by adding someone outside the organization. On the other hand, there still are bats available, headed by Shawn Green.
Adding Shawn Green gives the Mets a professional hitter with power potential … in the SEVEN hole. It also gives the Mets a much more palatable option for DH than Julio Franco can provide. Look, I love Julio, but if the Mets advance to the World Series, I don’t see him as the designated answer in AL parks. While Shawn Green has been something of a bust in LA and AZ the last few years, it’s because he was counted on to be a #3 or #4 guy — not unlike Abreu’s situation in Philly. Now look how Abreu has fortified the Yankee lineup as an extra cog, rather than a main gear; Green can do the same thing buried toward the bottom of the Mets’ lineup, especially once Cliff Floyd returns. Add Green and Floyd to the current Mets and you have a Yankee-like lineup, NL-style: damage from one through eight. That kind of lineup will create havoc and induce nightmares, no matter who is on the mound … and will wear out bullpens quickly in a seven-game series.
Even if the Mets don’t get Green, there are alternatives. Reggie Sanders is still being shopped, and though he may not be the guy he was a few years back, you can’t discount his “lucky charm” status (postseason participant in 5 of the last 6 years). There’s talk that Moises Alou can be had, and with more teams realizing the season is over, you’d think more veteran, overpriced bats might be available. Raul Ibanez, Jeromy Burnitz, Jeff Conine, and Frank Catalanotto are four guys I’d rather see in the lineup, in the postseason, rather than the overmatched Lastings Milledge (at least, this year), and it’s not far-fetched to believe those guys would be available and can clear waivers.
As stands today, it is Green who is definitely available, and there for the taking. This deal makes sense in so many ways, it’s silly it hasn’t been done. Green is a solid hitter, a good all-around ballplayer, an above-average fielder in the OF and at 1B, a leader in the clubhouse, and an ideal platoon partner for Milledge next year. To get him, it will take a little cash — which the Mets have to burn — and a non-prospect. In addition, his acquisition wouldn’t hurt ticket sales; you might see the contingent who thought Mike Jacobs was Jewish, return to Shea. Hmm … perhaps this is just what the Mets need to lead them to the World Series: a mensch.
About the Author
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.