An Ideal Deal

Let’s stop pretending that the Mets “are fine” with the corner outfield situation. They’re not. Nick Evans is overmatched, and has shown nothing in his past to suggest he’ll suddenly become the #5 or #6 power hitter the Mets so desperately need right now. Dan Murphy has the unknown on his side, but, like Evans, isn’t exactly on a talent level that one would compare to, say, a young Darryl Strawberry. Further, since being handed a regular job, Fernando Tatis is hitting .238. Add in the fact that Ryan Church couldn’t take batting practice the other day, and now has “no timetable” for his return, and suddenly there is a mild panic regarding left and right fields.

Maybe it wouldn’t be such a concern if Carlos Beltran were living up to his $18.6M salary this year. However, he’s been moved to the #2 spot in the order, leaving the middle of the order devoid of yet another potential run producer. And perhaps we wouldn’t worry so much if we knew Ramon Castro would be in the lineup against lefties, but he just suffered a “mild ankle sprain”, which based on the medical info we’ve received from the Mets this year, may as well be a broken leg. In other words, the bottom of the lineup will be featuring two “automatic outs” — the pitcher and whomever is catching. That means there is even more pressure on the #5 through #7 hitters to drive in runs.

I have an idea, though, and it’s fairly realistic. It’s based on a suggestion made on July 30th involving the Orioles, and makes more sense for the Mets every day.

The Mets can trade a few of their “lesser” prospects — say, anyone other than Jon Niese and Fernando Martinez — in return for Chad Bradford, Aubrey Huff, and Ramon Hernandez. In Bradford you have an adequate reliever who can pitch in just about any situation, and has been successful with the Mets previously. Huff is the power bat you need in one of the corners, and Hernandez gives you a solid catcher with more potential to hit than Brian Schneider. Hernandez can also play some first base, as can Huff.

All three of these veterans should pass through waivers due to their hefty contracts, which continue through 2009. Though, Bradford may be tough to slip through considering the dearth of quality relievers available. (Funny, ChadBrad’s $3.5M for ’09 looks like a bargain now, compared to when the Mets thought his contract was “overpriced”.) Why would the Orioles give up those three players in return for a less than elite package of prospects? Same reason they’ll pass through waivers — hefty contracts. Huff will make $6.75M next year and Hernandez is owed a minimum of $9M in ’09. Both players will be 33 years old next season, and therefore don’t figure into the O’s rebuilding plans. Further, Hernandez is merely keeping the position warm for phenom Matt Wieters, who is ripping the ball at a .354 clip between high-A and AA ball this year. Wieters should be ready to take over behind the plate some time this year, certainly by Opening Day 2009 — making Hernandez an expensive caddy. He’s only hitting .250 but his 12 HRs are more than all Mets catchers combined, and if Castro’s ankle injury is more serious than the Mets are letting on, his potential pop would be a welcome addition to the lineup.

What, if anything, is keeping this deal from happening? Pride. By reacquiring Bradford, Minaya would be admitting the mistake in letting him go to begin with. But, there’s a good chance ChadBrad won’t pass through waivers anyway, so if the Mets can swing a deal to get the two bats, at least the lineup holes will be plugged. They might have enough arms in the system to alleviate the pitching problems.

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.