No Qualms for Mets

Oops, spell check doesn’t work on headlines. What I meant to say was “no QUALLS for Mets.”

Chad Qualls agreed to a minor league deal with the Marlins. Good. The more teams don’t sign Jon Rauch, the better chance there is of him returning to the Mets. Rauch isn’t great, and is an injury risk for 2013, but at this late point in the offseason, he’s looking better than the similarly affordable alternatives.

Jeff Baker agrees to a deal with the Rangers. Cross off another righthanded hitter who can stand in the outfield on occasion. Like Mark DeRosa, Baker’s value is in his ability to play several positions adequately, combined with a short span of time many years ago when he was an OK hitter, and GMs can’t seem to forget that span of time.

Jair Jurrjens will reportedly sign with the Orioles. Nice gamble – it’s an MLB deal for $1.5M, with incentives that can raise it to $4M. The Mets might’ve considered such a deal, but likely were looking to offer Jurrjens a minor-league contract instead. His descending velocity has been a huge red flag, along with his chronic injuries. One interesting feature of Jurrjens, though — he still has options remaining. So had the Mets rolled the dice on him, and he didn’t make the club out of spring training, they could have stashed him in AAA until needed. Oh well – he’s in Baltimore instead, and probably about to suffer a major, season-ending arm injury anyway.

Thomas Neal signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. I have no idea who he is, though he is listed as a righthanded-hitting outfielder.

Zach Stewart signed with the White Sox. Like Neal, I have no idea who he is, but I understand he is a pitcher.

Ryan Sweeney signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox, after spending 2012 in Boston. He’s a lefthanded-hitting outielder.

George Kottaras has been claimed by the Royals, who in turn DFA’d Tony Abreu. Abreu is a switch-hitting utility infielder who has spent most of the last six years shuffling between the minors and Majors. He’s shown a bit of pop and on-base ability in the minors, but never been able to stick in MLB. In 2006 he was the Dodgers’ #5 prospect. Since he’s still under 30, can hit from both sides, can play above-average defense at 2B, SS, and 3B, and will cost relatively nothing, he might be a good guy to bring into Port St. Lucie. He’d be a cheaper version of Ronny Cedeno.

As for the Mets, there are still reports that they are interested in Michael Bourn (BTW, I’m interested in driving a Lamborghini), and the latest rumor is that they are kicking the tires on Roy Oswalt. I’ve always been a huge fan of Oswalt, and though I doubt he’s healthy enough to make 30 starts, it would be fun to see him pitch a few times for the Mets — in a Randy Jones kind of way.

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. Kanehl January 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm
    I simply don’t get Sandy’s interest in Bourne, certainly not at 5 years X $15 million. He’s 2,years older than Reyes when we passed on him, has a similar OBP (mediocre for a supposedly elite lead off guy) with much lower SP. he’s 30 now and his game is based purely on speed (though his SB/CS ain’t great). He does play 158 games a year, so his durability is his only plus over Reyes. But giving him a 5 year deal seems stupid, especially since the back loading will take away dollars in 2015-2018, when the Mets may be legit enough to use those dollars for FAs who could actually help. I get that he should be better than Neuwenheiss this year, but getting a couple of wins loser to 75 seems like a poor excuse for this lousy deal.
    • Izzy January 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm
      Nice post Kanehl… Could be that the great Alderson and his 20 year plan has run into a wall with the Wilpon’s inability to sell any tickets for a AAAA club. Freddy boy found out that Met fans ain’t dumb and a bad team with a signed David Wright isn”t worth watching anymore than a bad team with an unsigned David Wright. As for a long term deal, just about every long term deal is bad at the end. The idea is to win and keep the fans coming and therefore having equity to replace the end of the bad deal with a new guy with talent. Unfortunately, this seems like another act of Wilpon desperation, if it is anything more than a cheap ruse.
  2. mike B January 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm
    I dont understand people who keep pointing out that bourn is 30. Even a 5 year deal would be ok, although I would guess he would be getting a 3 or 4 year deal at this point. How old do you want your players to be? Because Duda, Murphy and Kirk Niese are all 27-28 years old. Are we to believe that these players will be awesome at 29 and then begin their down fall at 30?????

    I dont think Bourn would be the greatest signing of all time and if I cared about the Mets money i would agree that we will prob have to overpay. But when you charge people to come watch your talent at some point you have to have actual talent dont you?

    The Wilpons greatest con is not the ponzi scam its getting fans to believe in this rebuilding phase which basically consist of taking the money they would normally spend on the team and putting it in their pocket. Wake up people.

    • argonbunnies January 28, 2013 at 1:04 am
      I don’t think 30 is old for a baseball player, but I do think 30 is old for a base-stealing CF.

      If you take away a few infield hits, great catches, and stolen bases away from Bourn, what is he? An average player at best. But he’ll be paid a lot more than that.

      Kenny Lofton’s average season:

      Age 25-29: .316/.382/.437, 65 SB, 108 R (also 4 Gold Gloves)

      Age 30-34: .290/.375/.418, 30 SB, 100 R (zero Gold Gloves)

      Tim Raines, Cesar Cedeno and other speedsters did the same.

      • mike B January 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm
        Argon if Bourn can match Lofton’s years from 30-34 I would sign for that in a second.

        And thats my point Izzy everybody is going to be 35 eventually, right now he is 30 and could be usefull for the next 3-4 years

        • argonbunnies January 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm
          Michael Bourn never has and never will put up Kenny Lofton numbers (partly because of the different eras, partly because Lofton was a much better hitter with half as many whiffs).

          Bourn, age 25-29: .272/.338/.365, 51 SB, 86 R (2 Gold Gloves)

          Predict a Lofton-like decline, and you get something like:

          Bourn, age 30-34: .249/.330/.346, 25 SB, 78 R (zero Gold Gloves)

        • TexasGusCC January 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm
          Argon, I agree with your logic. Probably why it NEEDS to be a long term deal.
    • Izzy January 28, 2013 at 10:11 am
      People point it out because the GM of the Mets, Mr Liarson pointed it out for two and a half years when bragging about not signing Reyes who would be in his mid 30’s at the end of a long termdeal, and for his excuse for not signing anyone to a long term deal, until of course, when he changed his tune, and signed Wright to a deal that will last until he is 38. Now, it is OK because Mr Liarson has new tunes to sell. The claimisn’t that 30 is old, but 35 is old in the post roids era and the speedy Bourn will be a slow poke who is worthless but making 15 mil a year.
  3. Kanehl January 28, 2013 at 12:22 am
    It’s a shame that Selig bailed out his buddy Ferdie and the Idiot Son. It’s clear that, without Ponzi money from Bernie, they can’t afford to own a big league team and give it the payroll to be competitive. But signing Bourne solves nothing. He’s a mediocre hitter whose game is built on speed. Generally, whe the Braves let one of ther players go, there’s a good reason. We’re not getting anyone at this stage to save the 2013 OF, and giving a rich 5 year deal to an aging mediocrity ain’t gonna change that.
  4. TexasGusCC January 28, 2013 at 1:33 am
    Folks, my opinion has been to let us see the kids and what they can do. Let’s see Neuweinheis, Valdespin, den Dekker, Cowgill, Duda. The Baxters and Browns I think belong on contenders as #5 outfielders. But, after seeing the free agents for next year, I see even less hitting. Here are the notables:

    Cano (31), Zobrist (33), Prado (30), Granderson (33), Chris Young (30), Choo (31), Pence (31), Kendres Morales (30).

    Halladay (37), Garza (30), Hughes (28), Josh Johnson (30), Jimenez (31), Lester (30), Lincecum (30), Nolasco (31), E. Santana (31), J. Santana (34), Shields (32), Vargas (31), Wainwright (32),Volquez (30).

    As you can see, the pitchers outweigh the hitters and so all of them should get their money and they are all 30+. So, if the Mets can sign Bourn to 3-4 years for $10-12MM, and not lose the #1 pick, then fine I guess. Because unless they make a trade, we will have these same discussions next year.

    • Kanehl January 28, 2013 at 5:59 pm
      TexasGusCC, I agree. 2013 is the year to play Duda and Newenheiss to see if they can be MLB regulars. If Duda can hit 25 HRs with a .340+ OBP, that’ll help mitigate his defense; if Neuwenheiss can hit at a .750 or so OPS, his glove may make him a suitable CF. And then 2013 & 2014 are for seeing if a trade or a reasonable FA deal can give us an OF upgrade or two (not a superstar, just a respectable #5 hitter, RH, preferably). And, if there’s anyone who actually wants Bourn enough to give him a multi-year deal, consider this: his carerr OPS is a whopping 13 points higher than Neuwenheiss’ in 2012.
      • Kanehl January 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm
        Should have said I agree with the part of your post. Not with giving Bourn the 3-4 year deal. Seems like Vince Coleman (hopefully, sans the firecrackers).
  5. Dan B January 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm
    Izzy, you said it best when you said it would be a signing out of desperation. Just imagine the desperation if the Mets are heading towards 95ish losses and, even worse, attendance falls another 20%. My biggest fear is that Jeff Wilpon (aren’t the Mets so lucky to find someone SO qualified to run a team in the family?); jumps up and down on the panic button and starts making idiot trades and signings.
    • Dan January 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm
      100 and 30% would be much better, especially with more panic. Sometimes things have to get much worse before they can get better, in this case things have to get bad enough to force the Wilpons out.
      • Kanehl January 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm
  6. Joe January 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm
    “signing out of desperation”

    That was Bay. He was basically the “big” move that off season and it was stupid to give him so much for so long. The team shouldn’t do the same now. There probably was/is a cheaper option for OF this season, a good but not great steady OF and not signing someone like that is a better thing to complain about.

    • mike B January 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm
      Was that Jason Bay? I remember him being one of the top two free agents when the Mets signed him. Of course we picked the wrong guy.
    • argonbunnies January 28, 2013 at 8:47 pm
      At the time, the years and dollars looked pretty fair for Bay’s recent performance. The only bad things about the deal were:
      – bad defender (turned out to be untrue, just Fenway stats nonsense)
      – very streaky (does slump-prone mean mechanics might fall apart for good?)
      – decline in 30s
      – backloaded deal (“we’ll worry about future budgets later” has always struck me as stupid)
      – thinking we could contend in 2010 and that it was a good time to sign a top free agent rather than prioritizing the long-term
      – Madoff

      How many of these apply to Bourn? Too many for my taste.

      • mike B January 28, 2013 at 11:41 pm
        All you can do is make a fair offer on a players recent performance, It wasnt like Bay was 5 years from those stats or it was one year out of 6 years. He had 6 good years in a row. Most if not all FA’s will be close to 30 and you will have to worry about decline. And what FA huge contract isnt back loaded and they usually look pretty expensive towards then end. And while we are at it name me the MLB position player that isnt streaky??? All those points you made apply to bourn as well as any other FA ever signed in the history of baseball that doesnt mean you dont sign anyone.
        • argonbunnies January 29, 2013 at 12:20 am
          Well, two things:

          1) We agree that there was nothing horribly out of the ordinary about the Bay signing. The Mets weren’t any dumber than most teams with that one. And yeah, what are you gonna do, never sign anyone?

          2) SOME teams actually DO avoid handing out huge backloaded contracts to flawed players in their 30s. These are the teams we call “smart”, and they win more consistently than the rest at their payroll levels.

          The Rays sign their stars long-term while they’re still cheap. The Braves trade from surplus for stars then take the draft picks when the stars walk. The Twins for a while had a drafting and development strategy of pairing two cheap assets — defense and control.

          Then there are huge contracts that pay a superstar what he’s worth, like the Red Sox paying Manny $20mil every year to lock up one of the top 5 hitters in the game.

          So, what are our standards for how the Mets do business?

          If we’re not going to outspend the competition, then I don’t think we can expect to beat them unless we follow the strategies of the smart teams.

          Signing Bay was either a big-budget-team move or a not-super-smart-team move. Signing Bourn would be the same thing. (Except worse, because Bay was more valuable and a better bet to keep his skills.)

        • Mike B January 29, 2013 at 9:50 am
          Fair enough on bay.

          You give the braves props (rightly so, they have only been good for the last 20 years) How do you feel about giving a guy that hasnt had a batting avg over .250 since 2008 75 million dollars for 5 years? I wanted Upton but there are alot of question marks there.

          And while the Rays and Twins sure do produce a lot of young talent. They locked any up long term except for Joe Mauer and Longoria. And I am waiting to hear Mauer will be playing in bronx this year.

  7. DaveSchneck January 28, 2013 at 11:18 pm
    There are pros and cons to signing Bourn, but the big questions that cannot be answered in the blog world are at what cost years/$$ and for what pick 1st or 2nd. There is a price that Bourn is a good signing. It is nowhere near Boras’s asking price, but it is at least the 3/$39 mil that Victorino got. I understand the argument to give up on 2013 and see what the kids can do, but this argument is flawed. This team has no legit everyday MLB CF or MLB leadoff hitter. Capt. Kirk is not and never will be an everyday CF, he just is not fast enough and on his fastest day will not be able to catch Bourn when he is 35 years old. Tejada is no leadoff hitter, nor is Kirk. IKf they are going to gamble in house of CF/leadoff, the choices are Den Dekker or Valdespin. Den Dekker is not ready offensively and Spin has the tools but is high risk due to inexperience in CF and lack of discipline at the plate. If Alderson can’t get Bourn at his price, or deal for Crisp, to me it is Valdy’s job to lose – CF & leadoff, make or break. Put the rest of the money into the pen.
  8. Kanehl January 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm
    Bourn turned down 1 X $13.3 from the Braves. How much is a guy with a career OPS of .704 worth, and how long do you want to be stuck paying that?
    • mike B January 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm
      Is anyone ever really worth what they get paid? Is robinson Cano going to be worth 20 million a year until he is 40 next year? Some one posted the available FA’s for next year, you know the year WE ARE GOING TO COMPETE. All those guys have the same questions, all on the north side of 30 and all are going to command way more money then they prob deserve. So Sandy can feed us the same BS and you guys can spill koolaide all over this blog.
      • Kanehl January 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm
        And you see a guy with a career .704 OPS as making any difference? For a team that has been scraping together $10 million to sign scrap heap guys fill out the rotation and bullpen, $13-15 million x 3-5 years seems to take away dollars we’ll need if opportunities come up. And if it’s a five year deal, I predict wpe’ll end up eating a year or two of that. At some point, we need to stop paying for guys no longer on the roster.
        • Mike B January 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm
          His OPS is irrelevant to me, what matters to me is that he is the best available OF and we have a team with ZERO OF’s. He is the best available leadoff hitter and we have ZERO leadoff hitters. Why does anyone accept the fact that this team has to scrape together 10 million dollars to sign guys off the scrap heap and that’s a good reason not to spend money to fill holes that desperately need filling? Their payroll is under 100 million, they should be able to sign 3 guys at 15 million per year without blinking. And why do you care what structure they choose to pay players? Do you really care if they are still paying Bobby Bo or Jason Bay. Me myself, I like to pay my debt right away, but those tight wad Wilpons try to hold on to every red cent as long as they can. OPS, AVG, SO, OBP, WAR, whatever there will always be an excuse not to sign someone but when someone is the best available player that’s the guy I want.
  9. Kanehl January 29, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    OK, so his performance and wasting the limited dollars the Wilpons will make available for payroll are irrelevant considerations?

    I do agree that the Wilpons are the problem. With the decline of their real eastate holdings, declining (justifiably) ticket and merchandise revenues, and the cut-off of the Ponzi funds they were relying on, I don’t think they heave the money to run an MLB team, and it’s a shame that Selig saved them. But that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. So, unless they’re driven to sell (in whihc case, we should root for the team to really suck and attendance to delcine further), payroll will always be limited.