RH Sluggers Available

We know the Mets are not going to add any position players to their roster, but there’s still a major, glaring void — a righthanded-hitting outfielder with home run power. This week, a two players filling that description became available. Let’s take a quick look at them and a few others.

The Sluggers

Gary Sheffield
In a shocking move, the Tigers ate $14M to rid themselves of the surly slugger. Sheffield’s character and clubhouse presence has often come into question, but was generally accepted when he was hitting 35+ homeruns a year. However, injuries and age have affected his performance in the past two years, and many think he’s done. Sheff has looked healthy thus far this year, and he claims his shoulder is fine. His numbers have been terrible this spring, but he’s never been much of a March hitter. His arm issues suggest his future is only as a DH, but who knows? His bat speed is still there, and I think his reputation as a “clubhouse cancer” is overblown. The guy can flat-out hit and is more of a team player than he’s given credit for. Watch the Phillies pick him up.

[UPDATE: about an hour and a half after I wrote that last sentence, an article appeared on Phillies.com reporting “Phillies Release Jenkins; eye Sheff?”]

Wily Mo Pena

Pena was placed on waivers by the Nationals on Saturday; any claiming team would assume his $2M contract (which is $200K less than Tim Redding’s). No one is going to claim him, and when he clears, he’ll have the option to report to AAA or become a free agent. If he chooses the latter, why not take a chance? The cost is the MLB minimum salary, and he just turned 27 — the age many hitters begin to mature. Yes, three organizations have given up on him in the past three years, but that had more to do with him being out of options rather than a lack of talent. The guy does a lot of swinging and missing, but he can also mash. The Mets do not have ANY RH hitter in their organization with his raw power.

Other Available Free Agents

Jimmy Gobble
The LOOGY is back out on the market after being released for the second time this spring. He had a terrible season last year — an ERA near 9.00 — but did hold LH hitters to a .200 batting average and a .257 OBP. Plus, he’s never pitched in the National League, which gives him another slight advantage. I like his upside better than Ken Takahashi’s.

Mike Stanton
Another available LOOGY. No thanks.

Paul Bako
A solid “catch and throw” backup catcher, meaning, he can’t hit. Pass.

Marcus Giles
If Luis Castillo didn’t look so good this spring, Giles might have been worth taking a look at. Pass.

Morgan Ensberg

I like Ensberg a lot, love the way he approaches the game, he’s a righthanded hitter who can play multiple positions and once blasted 36 homeruns. However, his offensive production dropped significantly after turning 30 (and after MLB started testing and suspending for PEDs). Pass.

Tyler Walker

He appeared in 56 games for the Giants last year and posted a 4.56 ERA. Pass.

Mike Maroth
He’s a lefty, he’s had past success, and he was lights out against the Mets on one fine June evening two years ago, but he hasn’t been the same since early 2006, thanks to an array of injuries to his arms and legs. Even when he was healthy, he wasn’t especially effective against LH hitters, so he doesn’t figure to have a future as a LOOGY — much less a starter. It may be the end of the road for Maroth, which is too bad, as he was a fun guy to root for. Pass.

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 April 1, 2009 at 8:05 am
    I just can’t see Sheff on the Phillies. Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth are getting at least 450 ABs each this year. Additionally, they already have Matt Stairs, who will likely spell Werth in RF against tough RHP. Because I doubt Sheff would agree going to a team where he wouldn’t have a chance to start the majority of the time, that would mean the Phils would have to tell him he’d at least be a platoon player in LF with Ibanez. Not only do I think the Phils wouldn’t make their new $33 million investment a platoon player, but I don’t think Sheff would agree to those terms. Unless I’m wrong and Sheff is willing to take a bench spot, or if he’s declaring himself eligible again at 3B, destination Philadelphia ain’t happening.

    My gut tells me he’s staying in the AL. I’ll predict Seattle or Texas.

  2. isuzudude April 3, 2009 at 11:57 am
    It appears as though the Mets are now the frontrunners for Sheffield. I’m confused. Obviously the Mets would have been a better team with Manny in LF than Murphy/Tatis, but we have to buy the idea that the Wilpons are too cash-strapped to make such a signing. So moving on, the team still could use a strong OF bat who can hit from the right side but not cost a fortune. Keilty and Evans impressed in spring training, but weren’t really strongly considered for permanent bench spots. Andruw Jones was available and has been solid for Texas, but was never really linked to NY. Yet, the Mets like Gary Sheffield? Of the bunch, Sheff is the worst in the field, is the oldest, has never been a bench player, and has had the worst spring. And I guess you can count me into the group that says he’s washed up. I just don’t get it.

    I know Marlon Anderson would be the guy to go to make room, so no major loss there. Still, should we expect 20 homers and a .290 average from Sheff? Is he going to step on Church’s toes in RF? Are we simply going to throw defensive caution to the wind and go with an OF flanked by Murphy and Sheff? Does his presence take ABs away from Tatis, whose bat and glove look far better than Sheff’s these days? Does he disrupt the cohesion in the clubhouse, a la Bonilla/Henderson 1999? A veteran presense does not automatically translate into leadership and zen. And Sheff is no stranger to clubhouse controversy. With the Brewers he made accusations of racism and purposely committed errors in the field to get traded. With the Dodgers he openly criticized his teammates, coaches, and the team’s business decisions. His time with the Yankees was tumultuous, accusing Joe Torre of being a racist and calling Latinos easy to control. Let’s not forget his link to PEDs. And for a guy who’s been such an offensive superstar, he sure has been traded a lot. 5 times to be exact. Although speculation, I doubt teams would be so willing to trade such a star if he were truly a pleasant fellow behind the scenes.

    I know he’s a potential hall of famer and has had an outstanding career. But he’s 40 now and his performance on the field is showing his age. Evidence also suggests he’s going to hinder the team’s unity more than help. I’d almost rather him go to Philly, sulk on their bench, spew off hatred to the media, and cause discension amongst the players, than come to NY and be given a chance to re-assert his career. I say PASS ON SHEFFIELD, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  3. Walnutz15 April 10, 2009 at 9:48 am
    I know this is old and that I’m late to the fame in responding…..

    (Also, do NOT take this as anyone making a plea for the organization to sign him…)

    What’s the deal with Richie Sexson? Is he injured or something?

    To my knowledge, no one picked him up over the winter — even on the cheap. Anything?

  4. joe April 10, 2009 at 9:56 am
    Maybe he strained his neck again trying to put on a hat.

    Well, combine two consecutive awful years, his age (34), his supposed bad attitude, his inability to play the field, and the fact that his best years came when players were not tested for PEDs, and there you have it.

    I think MLB owners colluded this winter, both in driving down salaries and in “washing away” players from the “steroid era”. In other words, he’s been Dave Kingmaned.

  5. Walnutz15 April 10, 2009 at 10:25 am
    More or less what I was thinking myself — just wasn’t sure if he’d been picked up at all.

    Adieu, sweet Sexy.

  6. 2009 Analysis: Gary Sheffield : Mets Today November 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm
    […] But when Gary Sheffield was released outright by the Detroit Tigers, the Mets snapped him up — much to the chagrin of nearly every fan, blogger, radio personality, journalist, and pundit within earshot of Citi Field (note I said “nearly“). […]