Mid-Spring Pickups

Cuts came quickly this March, many of them due to the current economic condition — in many cases, teams are only responsible for one-sixth of a player’s salary if he’s released by March 18th (Duaner Sanchez was cut for specifically this reason, even though the move was made a week ago).

As a result, there are at least a few interesting names wandering around out there. Let’s take a look at a few in particular.

Shawn Hill

Hill spent his entire career in the Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals organization, but the club lost patience with his perennially injured arm. When healthy, the Canadian-born righthander has great stuff – – relying mostly on a hard low-90s sinker — and can be dominating. However, he hasn’t been healthy long enough to finish a big league season. Every year, he looks great, and before long, his elbow gives out. Most recently, he suffered forearm tightness, but Dr. James Andrews saw no structural damage. Hill is only 27, certainly young enough to still make something of his career. He could be an interesting, low-cost pickup, though I see him finding his way to a smaller market team like the Cardinals. Who knows, Hill could either go the way of Paul Wilson, and finally find health, or he could be another Jeff D’Amico.

Jimmy Gobble

The Royals lefthander posted an 8.81 ERA in 39 games last season, after a very strong 2007. Again, this may have been more a financial move than anything else — how can you justify paying in excess of seven figures for a guy with an ERA near nine? However, like Hill, Gobble is only 27, but more importantly to the Mets, he held lefthanded hitters to a .200 average last season. American League lefthanded hitters. Worth a look, no?

Dave Roberts
Looking at the Mets’ current roster, they seem to need a few more singles-hitting, good fielding, lefthanded-hitting outfielders. (Not.)

Yhency Brazoban

Another oft-injured pitcher, Brazoban was the guy that convinced the Dodgers to jettison Duaner Sanchez a few years ago. A big guy with a big fastball, it’s not only multiple surgeries that have curtailed his career but also an appetite for Big Macs — he’s increased his weight from 170 to over 250 in the past five years. Soon to turn 29, his career could be over, but someone may take a chance on him — a 95 MPH fastball tends to help with that.

Josh Bard
Yet another financial move — the Red Sox could not justify paying close to two million dollars to a backup catcher who can’t catch a knuckleball. Since the Mets don’t have a knuckleballer on the staff, Bard could be someone to consider if they are interested in carrying three catchers on the 25-man roster — especially now that Brian Schneider’s health is in question. Bard is a solid defensive backstop who hits from both sides of the plate and has a little bit of pop. As a semi-regular for San Diego in 2006, he hit .285 with 5 homers and 50 RBI and a .364 OBP in 389 ABs, and hit .338 in 90 games the season before (again, those stats were in San Diego, not Fenway). And, of course, if he were around it would be fun to use corny Shakespeare references.

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. Andrew Vazzano March 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm
    I’m all for Gobble.
  2. joe March 20, 2009 at 6:45 pm
    Yeah but he’s a turkey
  3. isuzudude March 21, 2009 at 9:17 am
    Actually, the Mets have already made a move for a mid-spring pickup in Fernando Nieve, as previously reported. And of all the guys mentioned in this post, I think Nieve is the pick of the litter. In 2006 he prospered in the Houston bullpen, earning a 3.38 ERA in 34.2 innings as a reliever that year. Then he underwent TJ surgery, the Astros lost their patience in rehabilitating him, and cut him. Yet, Nieve can still bring it in the mid-90s, and yet may still recoop some more of his velocity lost via surgery. He’s also been in the minors since 2001 and yet will only be turning 27 this July, so experience and youth are on his side. I loved the comparison to Amby Burgos you made, Joe, in a previous post. So for all the folks who were dumping on Omar for trading the future star Brian Bannister for Burgos (ha, you won’t hear much of that anymore), now Omar has made amends and gotten another Burgos in the form of Nieve for free. Very good move in my opinion.