10 Free Agency Fears for Mets Fans
Free agents go on the open market today, and with a lack of trading chips, the Mets are expected to dive in deep to fill their multiple holes.
At minimum, they need at least one starting pitcher — maybe two; a catcher; a left fielder; a utility infielder; a LOOGY; a righthanded reliever; and a first baseman (though, that one’s up for argument).
With so many holes to fill and the Mets desperate to erase the 2009 season from memory, fans should fear the following.
1. Signing Matt Holliday
Whoa, you say — what’s there to fear about Matt Holliday? Two words: Scott Boras. Boras is positioning Holliday at the same level of Mark Teixeira, which means he’s looking for 8 years, $180M. Holliday is good, but not that good, and not good enough on his own to turn the Mets’ fortune around. And who knows if Holliday can handle NYC, after spending his entire career in small markets?
2. Not signing Matt Holliday
Either way the Mets lose. When they miss out on Holliday (and Jason Bay), the Mets will turn to the likes of Marcus Thames, Randy Winn, Mike Cameron, or Jermaine Dye. Winn and Dye would be decent gambles if offered incentive-laden contracts, but that’s not the Mets’ style — they like to guarantee big bucks and multi-years for vets on the dowside of their careers (see: Moises Alou). Thames has been coveted by Omar Minaya for a while, and for reasons that defy logic. I can see a two-year, guaranteed deal doled out to any of the four.
3. Signing John Lackey
Again, doesn’t Lackey fit into the Mets’ needs of a #2 starter? Well, yeah, but the Mets will have to pay him dearly. To outbid the likes of the Red Sox, the Mets will have to go to 5 or 6 years and $100M — making him one of the top 5 highest-paid pitchers in MLB. Lackey is good, and the Mets need him, do you want to give 5 years and 9 figures to a 31-year-old with chronic elbow issues?
4. Over-valuing Bengie Molina’s homerun power
The Giants aren’t budging from a one-year deal for the thick, aging catcher, and it’s suggested the Mets can have him if they guarantee two years. Last year was the first time in his career he hit as many as 20 HRs, but it came at the expense of a .285 OBP. He’d be an upgrade over Omir Santos, but not enough to warrant an overpriced, multi-year deal.
5. Losing out on Molina, and over-paying Barajas
There’s almost no possibility the Mets are out-bid for Molina’s services, but in the event they are, they might take the same money and years and fork it over to Rod Barajas, who also has hit 20 HR only once in his career, is also closing in on his mid-30s, and fashions a similarly frightening OBP (.284 career).
6. Going “Schoeneweis” on Joe Beimel
The Mets would like to pair Pedro Feliciano with another LOOGY, and Joe Beimel tops the list. But the 2-year / $7M extension handed to John Grabow raises Beimel’s value. Can’t you just see the Mets handing over a 3-year, $10.8M deal to Beimel?
7. Going “Ollie Perez” on Joel Pineiro
Pineiro is the righthanded version of Oliver Perez — world of raw talent, Jekyll and Hyde personality. Magician Dave Duncan has kept him straightlined for one full season, and now Jo-el is looking for a big payday — the pundits estimate he’ll get a 3-year, $30+M deal. Check out Jeff Weaver’s stats since leaving Duncan’s care.
8. Trading Luis Castillo, then going “Castillo” on Orlando Hudson (or Chone Figgins)
I can see it now: the Mets find a taker for the final 2 years and $12M of Castillo’s contract — then sign O-Hud or Figgins to a 3-year deal of $20+M. In essence, one bad contract swapped for another.
9. Viewing Randy Wolf or Jason Marquis as frontline starters
Both Wolf and Marquis are coming off career years, and will command huge deals. It’s not fiscally responsible to pay back-end starters frontline money.
10. Not addressing the bullpen
In the midst of all the injuries, the lack of power, and collapse of the starting rotation, the inadequacy of the Mets’ bullpen was hardly noticed. But the fact is, the ‘pen needs an overhaul, and there are several decent arms available on the free agent market. In between the “splash” signings, the Mets should also be on the lookout for low-risk / high-reward relievers seeking affordable one-year deals.