Final Cuts: Analysis

My apologies for not posting this earlier, but like most of the news out of Port St. Lucie this spring, it took me a long time to understand and extract the logic.

Let’s just run through specific personnel.

Nelson Figueroa (cut) – He’s not a Cy Young candidate. He’s barely an MLB-quality 5th starter. However, he had a spectacular spring, he had a great winter campaign, he had an outstanding year at AAA in 2009, and he was arguably the Mets’ best starter after Johan Santana went down last year. Further, he may not have the best-looking “stuff”, but he manages to get the most out of it and compete. The irony is that three of the pitchers who will be in the rotation — Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, and Oliver Perez — have much more talent, yet they don’t always pitch to their potential because they are often lacking in the “4 C’s” that Figgy depends on: craftiness, composure, consistency, and competitiveness. I would’ve kept Figgy around for no reason other than to hope that those traits would somehow rub off on the Mets’ youngsters and eternal enigmas — or at least, to be an inspiration of sorts. Unfortunately, it’s hard to win the #5 spot in the rotation when it is held by someone due $24M over the next two years. How Figueroa didn’t at least earn a job as a long man in the bullpen, though, is mind-boggling.

Sean Green (made the team) – Do I really need to comment here? Besides taking a spot from the aforementioned Figueroa, Green has options remaining and could have been sent to AAA without being waived. His new underhand angle clearly remains a work in progress, so why not let him continue to develop it in Buffalo? Finally, why in the world would the Mets keep a ROOGY / matchup guy over a long reliever when they have four starting pitchers unlikely to pitch past the fifth inning in April (or beyond April)?

Ruben Tejada (made the team) – The Mets start the arbitration clock, and waste an option, on someone who will be sent down in a week and who is unlikely to return to MLB until 2011 or 2012. The public line is that Tejada has superior defensive skills compared to others in the organization, but that’s not saying much. If Tejada had Rey Ordonez-like wizardry, I might understand the move, but he doesn’t — at best, Tejada is an above-average shortstop, but one who like most young shortstops, also makes a lot of errors. There is only one reason he made the team: so that Omar Minaya and co. can continue to force the mirage that “the Mets have a strong minor league system that can produce MLB-quality players”. It’s a sham, a total PR move to incite journalists to write positive things about the farm system and help Minaya keep his job.

Russ Adams (cut) – Adams didn’t show to be much of an upgrade defensively over Alex Cora. But he did show some pop with the bat, and for five or six days, the Mets could have lived with his defensive limitations as a “backup to the backup” — and be a viable bat off the bench. Why waste the option and start the clock on Tejada when Adams was perfectly suitable?

Chris Carter (cut) – I’m not sure why he was acquired, and why he was in camp, if he wasn’t going to get a fair shot to make the team. What more did he need to do?

Hisanori Takahashi (made the team) – I like this move. I get the feeling that Takahashi’s soft stuff won’t translate over the long term, but like Figueroa and Carter, he couldn’t do any more to deserve a spot. More importantly, the Mets are likely to need a long reliever several times in April.

Kiko Calero (cut) – This one makes sense, because Calero isn’t yet up to full strength and needs extended time in PSL to get ready. My guess is he’ll be with the big club in a few weeks and inserted as the setup man.

Bobby Parnell (cut) – I never completely understood why the Mets broke camp with Parnell last April, and why he remained on the 25-man all season. Let him develop consistent command of the fastball and a secondary pitch in AAA, and bring him back up when he’s ready. He has a future in MLB, but it’s not now.

Frank Catalanotto (made the team) – I like this move, mainly because he’s exactly the “professional hitter” the Mets need off the bench.

Raul Valdes (cut) – What was the point of his presence in the last two weeks of ST? Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel. No argument here.

Fernando Nieve (made the team) – If Nieve has the same stuff he showed before the injury last year, he could be a major sleeper out of the ‘pen. The Mets keep positing him as a long reliever but he has setup man written all over him. Though, I could see him turning into a Ramiro Mendoza-type.

Elmer Dessens (cut) – No argument here. Why was he re-signed in the first place?

Jennry Mejia (made the team) – No question he has “electric stuff”. Doubtful he’s ready for prime time; see Bobby Parnell this time last year. A combination PR / desperation move to “prove” the Mets have top prospects and a bone thrown to Jerry Manuel so he can’t blame the front office for not allowing him to have top talent on the MLB roster. The latest news is that Mejia won’t be in the setup role; so what’s the point? You’re going to waste a kid’s development in the minors so he can pitch garbage innings? Again, see Parnell — imagine how far along Parnell might be right now if he pitched 150-160 innings in AAA last year, developing his command and secondary stuff?

Bottom Line

Most of these moves stink of desperation and chest-pounding self-promotion — and are not surprising considering that both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya are on the hot seat. Keeping Mejia, in particular, suggests that Manuel is simply trying to survive through June — the decision has no long-term benefit for the Mets nor the kid. Of course, these final cuts won’t make much of a difference to the Mets’ chances for the postseason in 2010 — though, some of the moves could affect how they look in 2011.

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. Mike April 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm
    I give up. I would have done most of the opposite things here. Fans have a long term commitment to a team and would always vote for the long term option like sending Mejia down. Meanwhile the GM and manager are short term only at this point and will gladly sacrifice our future for their chance at seeing tomorrow. F$@% Jerry and Omar.
  2. tarheelcoach April 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm
    If you like the Mets keeping Catannotto, then you have to like them sending Carter down. Its one or the other – the professional veteran or the young guy. Can’t have both.

    As far as Tejada goes, I don’t see why people are complaining. No one that I’ve read considers him a top prospect – his ceiling seems to be as a utility guy. Do we really worry about the very unlikely scenario that he doesn’t spend anymore time with the big club this season and we wasted an option year? Omar’s point, which is valid I think, is that the Mets lost out on making the playoffs by a game for 2 straight seasons. If taking Tejada makes the Mets a better team for the first week of the season then you take him.

    Agree or disagree, but the Mets are playing for NOW.

  3. joejanish April 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm
    tarheelcoach – disagree on Catalanotto. Why can’t you have Catalanotto and Carter and not Garry Mathews, Jr.? Or not Mike Jacobs? Or not Alex Cora? Isn’t Cora redundant to Tejada?

    The problem with Tejada is that a) his defense won’t make a difference he’s error prone; and b) he can’t hit worth a lick, so that’s one less bat off the bench. Ergo, Mets are NOT a better team with him in the first week of the season.

    Luckily, the Mets won’t miss the playoffs by a game in 2010. It’ll be more like 15 or 20.

  4. isuzudude April 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm
    The Figueroa and Carter cuts irk me the most. I prefer Carter over both Jacobs and Catalanotto, and will be shocked if either of the 2 jabronis who beat Carter for roster spots end up making any type of significant impact during their current tenure. Meantime, Figueroa did nothing but show guts, competitiveness, and the ability to achieve maximum success with what talent he has, and once again Mets management decides they want glitz and glamour over consistency and effectiveness. Mejia should be in AA getting reps in as a starter, not being thrown into a bullpen managed by a moron who will have no qualms about destroying his confidence, health, or future.
  5. gary s. April 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm
    oh the pain!!! and the season hasn’t started yet.i’ll make over /under for manuel’s carear as manager to end as june 1..any takers?i’m going to the game tomorrow.can’t wait to see the dave kingman