Stop the presses! The Mets have signed a righthanded-hitting outfielder. Finally, Ted Berg gets his man.
If you haven’t yet heard, the Mets signed outfielder Andrew Brown to a minor-league contract. In all seriousness, I like this signing. Well, I’m not happy that the Mets have become a bargain-basement-hunting version of what the Kansas City Royals used to be, but, considering the depths to which this franchise has descended, the addition of Andrew Brown makes sense.
Yes, I would have preferred to see B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, or even Nick Swisher introduced at a Flushing press conference. And no, I don’t give a rat’s tail about those free agents being “too expensive” or “risky signings” that might affect the Mets’ “payroll flexibility,” because I live in the New York City area, and therefore am more competitive than most of the rest of the population, and don’t believe a NYC-based team with a payroll under $100M should be worried about such nonsense. If I was not so competitive, and happy to watch a Major League team that had to pinch pennies and keep an eye on budget, I’d move to Cincinnati, Kansas City, or some other small-market city.
However, I’ve also accepted the fact that Mets ownership is both grossly incompetent in terms of financial management and too stubborn to sell the club to someone who is, so I try to adjust my perspective and view the Mets in the same way I saw the Pirates or Royals of five years ago. And seeing the Mets as the destitute, pathetic, Mickey Mouse organization that they are, signing Andrew Brown is a good move.
Again, I mean this in all sincerity. Brown is one of those “AAAA” players who has yet to be given a true, legitimate shot to earn a big-league job. He’s put up intriguing power and could, as Ted Berg suggested, be the next Ryan Ludwick.
I like Ted’s argument for Brown, but don’t necessarily agree that his ceiling is at the level of Ludwick, because there are a few stark differences separating the two outfielders. For one, Ludwick was always considered a raw talent with considerable upside; he played for Team USA as an amatuer, was a projected #1 pick who slipped into the high second round, was once a “Top 100″ prospect, and was a “Top Ten” prospect for two organizations. Ludwick also put up impressive numbers right away in minors, hitting 55 homers in his first two pro seasons at the ages of 21 and 22.
Ted Berg’s colleague Matt Cerrone suggested that Brown could compare to Brandon Moss, who was a surprise 20+ HR guy for the Athletics last year. A more realistic comp, but, like Ludwick, Moss had been highly regarded previously — he was the Red Sox #2 prospect after the 2004 season and was among their Top 15 for four straight years.
In contrast, Brown was an 18th-round pick who — to my knowledge — wasn’t ever on any “Top” prospect lists. Though he hit 21 HR and jumped three levels in his second pro season, he had some issues in his third year (I believe injury problems) and then spent his age-25 year in AA. He’s done well in his minor league career, but his success has mostly occurred when he was a touch older / more mature than than the level in which he played. That’s not his fault, nor an indictment, but it means that scouts and other analysts tend to take his stats with a grain of salt.
That’s not to say that Baseball America is the final word on all minor leaguers. My point is that by being ranked multiple times, the perceived talent of Ludwick and Moss had the support of a consensus — they were expected to succeed, eventually. Brown, on the other hand, has been “under the radar,” a darkhorse. Many players who were never ranked by BA became very good MLBers — including All-Stars — and that’s where the hope lies for Mets fans. Maybe, with a little luck, Brown can be one of 2013′s success stories.
The way I see it, the Mets have absolutely nothing to lose by giving someone like Andrew Brown a chance to win a spot on the big-league roster. They’re not going anywhere in 2013 anyway, so why not see if a star can be born? Brown may turn out to be another Ryan Ludwick, or he may be another Dan Norman (or Ben Johnson). What choice do the Mets have but to find out which he’ll be?
About the Author
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.