Alou and Easley in 2008

In case you haven’t heard, the Mets have picked up the option on Moises Alou and have re-signed Damion Easley for 2008.

Not really huge news, as picking up Alou’s option was expected — but I for one am happy it’s been done as I can’t imagine going into the winter with holes in both outfield corners. If Alou can give the Mets 100+ games, he’s worth the $7.5M option. If he only appears in 85-90 (he was in 87 last year), then it’s kind of expensive. But hey, the Mets are not going to find a better hitter at that price, with only a one-year commitment, in this market. So I’m fully on board with bringing him back and having Endy Chavez, Carlos Gomez, and/or Lastings Milledge filling out the rest of the innings in left field.

The Easley signing is only mildly surprising. As we’ve reviewed here on MetsToday, there aren’t too many solid righthanded-hitting bench guys available this winter — and few, if any, have Easley’s versatility. Now if the Mets can get Marlon Anderson signed, he and Easley (and Endy) make for a promising bench in 2008.

One must figure that bringing back Easley will affect Jose Valentin, who is a free agent. Valentin still isn’t healthy, and won’t be until just before spring training begins. He wants to continue playing, but there wouldn’t appear to be room on Mets — especially if as expected they sign Luis Castillo and bring back Marlon. Valentin may try to hook on with a team that could give him a shot at semi-regular playing time — maybe the Giants or Reds? Who knows, maybe he can platoon at 3B with Wilson Betemit for the Yankees. Personally, I’ll miss “Stache”, and a part of me hopes there’s a spot for him on the Mets’ bench next season.

With Alou signed on, the main question in the outfield focuses on Lastings Milledge. Has he convinced Mets management that he’s ready to be a full-time rightfielder? Has he convinced other teams that he’ll be an All-Star some day? If the Mets make a significant trade this offseason — and all signs point to that happening — I don’t see how Milledge won’t be included. Even if he’s not traded, I’d have to think that the Mets are considering bringing in a big bat — likely a lefthanded one — as insurance or for a platoon with LMillz. Time will tell.

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. isuzudude November 1, 2007 at 1:49 pm
    I agree with 95% of the above, Joe. Alou is fragile and can’t be expected to duplicate his .341 batting average, but has still hit .300 or better in each of the last 3 seasons and is proven protection for Delgado or who ever he hits behind. We were covered in case Alou was hurt for an extended period of time last season with Chavez, Milledge, and Gomez, but all 3 got hurt at some point of the year – something no one could have foreseen. All 3 will be healthy again by April, and as long as none are traded, all will be back to help out in case of another prolonged Alou injury.

    Easley’s signing is great. I don’t expect to see him play much 2B at all next year, considering Castillo is brought back and Gotay is his primary backup. That said, I expect to see him step into Jeff Conine’s role as backup at 1B for Delgado, and emergency backup for who ever is in RF, as well as the power-hitting right-handed bat off the bench. I know he’s not Alfonso Soriano or anything, but for $950K he doesn’t have to be. .260 with 10 bombs as a part-time player (with a .300+ avg vs LHP) would sit very nicely with me. And Joe, like you said, there’s not much right-hand pinch-hitting talent available this winter, so keeping Easley is a brainy move.

    I also see Valentin as good as gone, unless he accepts a minor league deal with the Mets (not likely). I’m not too sure about acquiring a big bat to share RF w/Milledge, unless you consider a Luis Gonzalez or Geoff Jenkins a big bat. I’m not particularly fond of either (one has no throwing arm, the other K’s like the dickens), but I could see a potential platoon with a lesser-valued lefty OF…I’m at work and don’t have my free agent list readily available so I can’t rattle off names, although Darren Erstad and Trot Nixon come to mind. However, I truly believe that if Milledge is not traded, he’ll get no less than 450 ABs in ’08 (unless injured or hitting .200 by the all-star break). Keep this in mind though: most teams carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players, which means 5 players on the bench. If the Mets keep Milledge and re-sign Castillo and Anderson, the bench would be Marlon, Gomez, Easley, Gotay, and a backup catcher. Where’s the space for the RF platooner, and at who’s expense will he be added to the roster for?

  2. joe November 1, 2007 at 2:22 pm
    The space issue is a good point. I’d imagine that if the Mets found the right bat — be it through free agency or a trade — that either Anderson would not get re-upped and/or Gotay & Gomez would ride the AAA shuttle.

    I don’t see the Mets keeping Gomez around to pinch-run and play defense while they have Endy around. Better to send him back to AAA for another year of at-bats and seasoning.