Fernando Tatis Could Return to Mets

From Mike Puma of the New York Post:

According to an industry source, if Carlos Delgado is not re-signed, Fernando Tatis is a strong candidate to rejoin the Mets next season. The organization continues to monitor Delgado’s progress in the Puerto Rican winter league

Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of Fernando Tatis. I love his hustle, love his team-first attitude, love his versatility, love his passion on the field.

However, I also love Chris Woodward, Eric Valent, Joe McEwing, Jay Bell, Bob Bailor, and John Stearns for similar reasons. But that doesn’t mean I want those players on the Mets now.

Further, I’d be OK with Tatis if he were the sole utilityman on the club — rather than a secondary utilityman to Alex Cora. And I like Cora nearly as much as I like Tatis, but I do not see a contending club carrying both men at this point in their careers. Five years ago, maybe. Today? No.

But what makes this notion of Tatis returning more perplexing is that the Mets might consider him a platoon partner to Daniel Murphy at 1B. If that’s true, how did they arrive at that conclusion?

Probably it was his final stat line, which surprised me when I saw a .282 AVG, 21 doubles and 48 RBI in 340 ABs. Those aren’t All-Star numbers, but certainly much better than I remembered. Wasn’t he godawful most of the year, a DP machine? Ah, he was — until the last two months of the season, when he went on a tear, hitting .310 in August and .373 in September, swatting half of those doubles and RBI in the process. No wonder I forgot — he caught fire during the most forgettable part of the year.

His furious finish skewed his final numbers similarly to his “outstanding” 2008 — which in reality was only so-so, save for a ridiculously hot July. This is pretty much what Tatis has been throughout his career — a highly streaky hitter who will have dramatic swings of hot and cold throughout a season. Unfortunately, though the hot streaks can stretch for weeks, the cold ones last for months.

Yes, many hitters are streaky. But those that are can remain on a contender if they: a) have manageable cold streaks; b) provide stellar defense; and/or c) can carry a club on their shoulders during a hot streak. Unfortunately for Fernando Tatis, none of those conditions apply. Hitting .230 or below for three straight months — as Tatis did in 2009 — is not “manageable”. His defense is barely adequate at any position other than 3B. And when he’s hot, he’s nice complementary bat to have in the lineup, but he won’t “carry” a club — it’s not as though opposing pitchers shake in their boots when he comes to the plate.

The Mets have precious few bench spots to work with, and they should be filled by more consistent, more highly skilled, youthful ballplayers. Several, in fact — meaning, players who can be easily shuttled between the bigs and the farm if things don’t work out.

Again, I am a fan of Fernando Tatis. At this point, though, I’d prefer to move on and remember him fondly, rather than watch him wear out his welcome.

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. Paul January 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm
    I’d rather give Nick Evans a legitimate shot or sign Ryan Garko than use a roster spot for Fernando Tatis.
  2. isuzudude January 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    Good link, mic. Ever since Garko was let go by Frisco I’ve been advocating for the Mets to sign him. To me, his age and potential are edges over Fernando Tatis, and if the Mets are looking to “turn to page” on the Carlos Delgado era because of his association with the recent failures of the franchise, the same could also be said for Tatis. Plus, though I may be relying too heavily on small sample sizes, Garko matched up much better against LHP than Tatis in 2009, thus would give the Mets a better fit as a platoon partner with the left-handed swinging Murphy. Garko could also play some OF in a pinch, but likely no better than Tatis or Nick Evans, so I’m not really considering that as part of his appeal. Hoping Beltran gets healthy sometime before the all-star break, there would be little need for Garko to play the OF in 2010 anyway, what with Pagan and Matthews now patroling the backup OF duties.

    Speaking of Evans, I concur with Paul that he’s also a candidate for consideration, but I’d prefer to exhaust all avenues with Garko before settling on Evans.

    Perhaps Tatis’ sole appeal is his experience at the hot corner, since hardly anyone on the roster now looks like a backup to David Wright. I guess Anderson Hernandez is the best option, but is he even guarenteed a spot on the 25-man list? Just who are the guarenteed bench players now anyway? From my vantage point, it looks like Blanco, Cora, AHern, Matthews, and someone from the scrapheap of Evans/Carter/Jolbert Cabrera/Russ Adams/Mike Hessman. If AHern is a lock, then the Mets could certainly use someone who could play 1B/3B/OF, and I guess that’s why Tatis is getting so much attention now.

  3. joejanish January 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm
    I don’t see AHern as a lock to make the club. He would seem to be redundant to Cora — why would a team need two defensive replacements, neither of whom can hit? I’d guess he starts in AAA as a backup plan in case something happens to Reyes.

    If Wright goes down the Mets would move Danny Murphy over there, wouldn’t they? That’s his “natural” position after all.