Was Sean Green Worth All That?


A sickening feeling came over me after again looking at this December, 2008 trade:

Mets trade Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, Endy Chavez, Jason Vargas, Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto in return for J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green.

Here’s part one of the analysis:
Heilman and Smith were somewhere between so-so and mediocre this year, so no big loss on the surface. Though, I bet Heilman would be an interesting option to consider right now in the starting rotation — I’d certainly prefer to see him rather than Tim Redding every five days — and Smith is still only 25.

Carrera, Carp, and Cleto spent the season in the minors. Cleto took a step back, spending most of the season on the DL. The 21-year-old Carrera is having a nice year in high-A ball, hitting .340 with 25 SBs. Carp wasn’t outstanding, but solid in his first year in AAA — he’s hitting .274 with 15 HR and an .824 OPS. One would assume that Carp would be getting a look at 1B right now if he were still a Met, but there’s no reason to believe he’d be any better than Dan Murphy or Nick Evans.

Endy Chavez started the year strong, then injured his knee and is out for the year. It’s doubtful he would’ve had any more impact on the team than Jeremy Reed, Angel Pagan, or Cory Sullivan.

Jason Vargas, healthy for the first time in two years, had a short stint of success in Seattle as a starting pitcher. He’s since been sent down, but considering his age (27), his lefthandedness, and the fact he enjoyed some success in the American League, you could safely say the Mets wouldn’t be unhappy if he was still with the organization.

You can look at that list of seven players and decide for yourself whether any would have made a difference this year, and/or could have an impact in the future. That’s not what bugs me. Rather, the issue to me is that, in the end, it could turn out that those seven players were what the Mets gave up for Sean Green.

After this season, the Mets will have to decide whether to pick up J.J. Putz’s $8.6M option for 2010 or cut him a check for $1M to walk away. Considering that they couldn’t get rid of Billy Wagner fast enough, I’m guessing Putz is a goner. After all, Wags proved to be healthy, and would’ve been $600K cheaper to keep, whereas Putz remains disabled.

In addition, the Mets will have to decide whether or not to offer arbitration to Jeremy Reed. Reed’s current salarly is $925,000, and almost no one ever comes out of arbitration with a lower salary. That said, the Mets will likely cut Reed loose and hang on to Angel Pagan and/or Cory Sullivan, both of whom are paid in the $600K area.

So, two of the players acquired in that December deal are as good as gone, leaving Sean Green.

But this isn’t the only deal that has quickly become a washout. Consider the trade of Lastings Milledge for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church. Schneider is a free agent this winter and Church, of course, was traded for Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur is another arbitration-eligible player who may be non-tendered by the Mets.

Looking over the past few years, too many trades have gone this way — where the Mets eventually wind up with nothing. Sure, the Johan Santana deal looks like it’s going to work out, and they did pick up Angel Pagan for next to nothing, but overall, Mets trades are like dead-end streets.

In my next post, we’ll review the vast number of dead-end deals made by the Mets over the past four years.

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. Pete M August 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm
    In reality, every one you named is a scrub not worthy of anyone’s fantasy roster. Even Francoeur. Especially Heilman.
  2. upson August 31, 2009 at 6:49 pm
    Joe: not that it mattered much, but Putz’s option is actually worth $9.15 million. The reported $8.6M salary was automatically increased by $0.55M of performance bonuses earned in 2007. So there’s really zero chance that his option is picked up. Nevertheless, the Mets can still offer Putz arbitration and get a look at him in Spring training for a prorated portion of the arbitrated salary – which I guess would be significantly lower than $9 million.

    Of course, you’re right that the Putz trade does not look very good right now. However, I do not quite agree with your sentiment that, looking back, the Mets got “nothing” for Milledge. The Mets got exactly what they paid for: a two years of production from Schneider and Church/Francoeur and an additional year under control from Church/Francoeur. The Mets knew that Schneider is signed only through 2009 so his potential production in 2010 was not part of the deal. If the Mets want him in 2010, they can sill pay him his market rate just as if they kept Milledge.

  3. joejanish August 31, 2009 at 6:59 pm
    Upson, thanks for the clarification re: Putz’s option. I don’t know about the prorated portion of the arbitrated salary; his base salary this year is $5M, which means he’d likely receive at least that much from an arbiter for next year.

    Your point is duly noted re: the Milledge deal. But it is an example of a consistent pattern by the Minaya regime. My view of “nothing” will be better explained tomorrow, in a post titled “Dead End Deals”. It’ll be published by 8am EST. No doubt you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting with bated breath, until then. 😉

  4. upson August 31, 2009 at 7:17 pm
    I perhaps was not quite clear about “prorated portion of the arbitrated salary”. What I meant is that the arbitrated salary is not guaranteed. Hence, if Putz does not look healthy in spring training, the Mets can release him – similarly as they released Duaner Sanchez this year – and pay only about 1 month of his salary. Also, it’s debatable whether Putz can get anything close to $5 million in arbitration.

    Btw, I would not count on me being up at 8am, but it’s good to know there’s something to look forward to tomorrow. Although, I’m afraid, the reading might be a bit depressive.

  5. joejanish August 31, 2009 at 7:28 pm
    LOL! you don’t have to wake up at 8am to read it, I’ll leave it up all day!

    True, it’s debatable that Putz can get close to $5M. But if history is any indicator, players rarely receive a cut in pay when they go through the arbitration process.

    Even with the injury, I doubt Putz would get less than $4M — his saves totals from 2007-2008 almost guarantee he’ll get a raise. That said I will be surprised if the cost-cutting Mets offer him arbitration.

    Consider the case of Duaner Sanchez last winter — he and the Mets settled on almost $1.7M. That for a guy who NEVER had big save numbers and could no longer break a pane of glass with his fastball.

  6. Dead End Deals : Mets Today September 1, 2009 at 7:03 am
    […] Lindstrom and Henry Owens for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick Vargas was part of the Seattle trade we analyzed yesterday. Bostick still has a shot to make the Mets, possibly as a LOOGY — he may get an audition in […]
  7. Old Backstop September 1, 2009 at 9:41 am
    Good points, but one thing you must remember is that it’s somewhat unfair to evaluate a trade based on hindsight only.

    Most people felt the Mets made a good move when they acquired Putz for Heilman, even with Putz coming off an injury. Green and Reed were essentially throw in players where the Mets and mariners swapped bench player needs (we had Pagan already, and we were swapping Endy’s glove for Reed’s bat). Heilman and Putz were swapped because Mets P.R. needed to move Heilman, and Seattle wanted to move JJ’s contract.

    Joe Smith was more of a case of a submariner specialist who the Mets felt had already peaked and they wanted to move him while they could. The Mets clearly over-valued Green, who according to his entire history (major and minor league) had never actually been effective … so while I can understand why they threw him into a deal, I DO NOT understand why they really bought into him being some form of key ingredient. Green is/was roster fodder and should have been treated as such.

  8. isuzudude September 1, 2009 at 11:04 am
    I actually think Green is a goner after this year, and that, out of the trio who were acquired from Seattle, Putz has the best chance at returning, but not because the Mets pick up his option. There is no lack of middle relievers from the right side in the Mets bullpen plans (Stokes, Nieve, Kunz, and hopefully Parnell), and none of those guys have proven they can handle or have amassed the experience it takes to be a setup man. Meanwhile, Green would just be another name on the pile, and not a great one at that. In Putz’ case, he’s got the closing & setup experience, and if healthy, certainly the talent. And with many teams likely to be gunshy going after Putz this offseason, I can definitely foresee him accepting arbitration from the Mets, as long as the Mets are willing to offer it. And I think they should be, since they don’t really have a lot of other setup options in-house. As well as because they want to have something to show for sending 612 players to the AL last winter.

    With projections based on 2009 performances and 2010 salaries, my best guess at next year’s pen would include KRod closing, Putz the setup man, Stokes and Parnell from the right side, Feliciano and Bostick from the left side, and Nieve as the long man. Of course, this requires them to cut bait on the Parnell-in-the-starting-rotation experience, which I’m cautiously hopeful about. And it also leaves Green on the outs. Does he still have minor league options? If not, then I say he and Jeremy Reed are this winter’s non-tenders. Their projected roles in ’10 and their increase in salaries are enough to make me send them off, despite the mega-package the Mets sent to the M’s & Tribe to get them. Sometimes you just gotta know when to cut your losses.

  9. Pete M September 1, 2009 at 11:23 am
    I don’t think there is a chance in hell that Putz returns. Expect the Mets to pick up a bunch of low priced alternatives. Here’s the list: Danys Baez, Fernando Rodney and Kiko Calero would be my guesses.

    Danys Baez BAL
    Joaquin Benoit TEX
    Rafael Betancourt * CLE
    Chad Bradford BAL
    Doug Brocail * HOU
    Kiko Calero FLA
    Octavio Dotel CWS
    Ryan Franklin * STL
    Gary Glover WAS
    Mike Gonzalez ATL
    Tom Gordon ARZ
    John Grabow CHC
    Kevin Gregg CHC
    LaTroy Hawkins HOU
    Matt Herges COL
    Trevor Hoffman MIL
    Jason Isringhausen TB
    Masahide Kobayashi * CLE
    Brandon Lyon DET
    Ron Mahay MIN
    Gary Majewski WAS
    Trever Miller STL
    Darren Oliver LAA
    Troy Percival TB
    J.J. Putz * NYM
    Fernando Rodney DET
    Duaner Sanchez NYM
    Scott Schoeneweis ARZ
    Rafael Soriano ATL
    Matt Thornton * CWS
    Jose Valverde HOU
    Luis Vizcaino * COL
    Billy Wagner BOS
    Jamie Walker BAL

  10. luis September 1, 2009 at 6:29 pm
    Omar must go!!!