Rumor: John Maine for Corey Hart

richard_kielThe big rumor out of Indianapolis early this morning was a trade of John Maine to the Brewers for Corey Hart.

As of 9:30 am, however, the deal was either dead or on the back burner, as Milwaukee is focusing on bullpen help.

But what the heck, let’s discuss it — at least until a more salacious rumor comes out of Indy.

Personally, I prefer John Maine to Corey Hart for no logical reason — I simply like John Maine. As a Mets fan he appeals to me mainly for those memorable two weeks in October 2006 and his bulldog demeanor. In contrast, the gangly Corey Hart scares me — he reminds me of actor Richard Kiel (from James Bond and Happy Gilmore, among others).

So my gut tells me that a Maine – Hart deal would be bad — unless it is the precursor of a second deal that sends Hart away for someone else (though that seems unlikely).

Someone working with logic supports my gut feeling. terms Hart as “Jeff Francoeur 2”, citing a bunch of numbers to explain that Hart’s “Below average plate discipline, decent power and bad defense at a non-premium position make for a largely unappealing package.”

Though the two players differ in several areas, the gist of it is that Hart, like Francoeur, was once an All-Star, regressed significantly, yet may still be overvalued by people like Omar Minaya. Hart has an awkward athleticism not unlike Hunter Pence (or Mike Marshall, for you older Mets fans), in that he’s tall and fast with a decent arm but always looks like he’s about to trip over himself in the outfield. That said I don’t see him as being much better in left field than, say, Josh Willingham, and unless he returns to his 2007 form his bat won’t be enough to make up for it.

On the flip side, as much as I like John Maine I’m concerned he’ll never again pitch well enough to be considered a #3 – #4 starter. In fact he may never pitch enough, period. His poor mechanics will continue to wreak havoc with his fragile shoulder, but more importantly, they prevent him from developing consistent command. He got away without command when he was throwing 94-96 MPH. But if he only tops out at 91-92, that high cheese will be mouthwatering to opposing batters. If my fears are realized, then Maine’s value may never be higher than it is right now.

But in the end, the Mets need all the arms they can get — particularly arms under the age of 30. At this point, a questionable arm is more valuable than a questionable bat.

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. gary s. December 8, 2009 at 11:36 am
    maine should be moved, but not for hart..very low obp.hart, francouer and benjie molina would be a low obp convention..keep shopping omar..
  2. Mic December 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Nicely said Joe. Maine went from a discard to being a stud in October 2006. He followed that with a good season in 2007, his last game…with the playoffs on trhe line was a 1-hitter. Obvoiusly then injury hit.

    As such as you well know, I’d rather trade Pelfrey.

  3. Mike December 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm
    Yes lets trade a mid 20 something home grown pitcher whose value is down off a bad year instead of an over valued injury risk. Mic that kind of thinking is dangerous. You probably think trading Fernando Martinez is a good idea too. You probably also thought trading Castillo last off season was possible.

    Maybe it’s unfair of me to accuse you of this but this is the internet and I really don’t know you at all. So my assumptions are not that ridiculous. Mets fans are known for being overzealous with trades. Personally the belief that trading Pelfrey off a down year is a good idea seems short sighted and irresponsible. If the belief is Maine is unrecoverable in terms of health and mechanics then yes his value is never going to be higher, although it is hardly a peek. In that case the smart move is to trade him now.

  4. isuzudude December 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm
    I think I’d pull the trigger on a Maine-for-Hart trade. If Maine is to be characterized as a constant injury risk, which I think is pretty accurate, and if we can get a starting caliber player in return for him, especially if that player is not expensive or old, then I don’t see what the hangup would be. It is true that the Mets need arms, but it is also true the Mets need power/speed/OF help. And, as pointed out previously, there are really no great solutions for LF on the open market who wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to sign/obtain; whereas, with pitching, the Mets do have Nieve and Niese on the back burner, while the likes of Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets, Rich Harden, Vicente Padilla, Pedro Martinez, Erik Bedard, and Justin Duchscherer are available for a reasonable amount. I love Maine’s potential, too, but if his poor mechanics and health prohibit him from ever throwing more than 140 innings again, it’s time to look elsewhere for SP help. And though the names listed above may not knock your socks off, at least some of them are good for 180+ innings and consistency, which we’ve come to learn is nothing to overlook.

    Meantime, Hart was an allstar only a year ago. He has 20 HR power and 20 SB speed, which is what the Mets should be focusing on building their team with. Yes, his OBP isn’t wonderful, nor is his BB:K ratio, but you gotta take the good with the bad. Not every OF can be Carlos Beltran. Hart is also under team control for 2 more years, and coming off a down 2009 campaign, probably isn’t in line to make a killing in arbitration this year. Hart is also almost a full year younger than Maine, so it’s also debatable whether Hart’s ceiling can get even higher. If the Brewers are okay with Maine as a return, I’d say I’d be very much in favor of trading for Corey Hart.