Izturis, Cedeno, Francis, Young Off the Table

Over the past few days, Cesar Izturis, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Francis, and Delmon Young agreed to deals with teams not in Flushing.

Regardless of whether the Mets plan to go into 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop or not, Flushing seemed a plausible landing place for veteran middle infielder Cesar Izturis. Instead, the soon-to-be-34 year-old defensive whiz inked a minor-league contract with the Houston Astros, which includes an invitation to spring training.

The slightly less-slick fielding, slightly better-hitting, and slightly younger version of Izturis — Ronny Cedeno — accepted a minor-league contract and ST invite from the Philadelphia Phillies. We enjoyed watching Cedeno perform in the orange and blue in 2012, and though he was far from spectacular in that 78-game stint, the .741 OPS he posted as a Met dwarfed those put up by Omar Quintanilla (.589) and Tejada (.519) last year. Granted, Cedeno followed that career-high OPS with a paltry .617 in 2013, but, heck, that’s still almost a hundred points better than Tejada’s output. I’m not suggesting that the Mets should have brought back Cedeno to be their starting shortstop, but would it have been so terrible to bring him in for depth and competition / motivation?

More to the point, there aren’t many utility infielders left on the open market — are the Mets going to go into spring training with only Wilfredo Tovar as the main backup? Are they counting on Quintanilla remaining unemployed until the last minute, again?

In other earth-shattering news, Jeff Francis signed a minor-league contract with the Reds. He and Chien-Ming Wang will battle for a nonexistent job at the back of Cincinnati’s rotation, and he may also get a look as a reliever. Why should you care? Because it wouldn’t hurt the Mets to have someone stashed in AAA who has big-league experience — particularly, someone who appears healthy enough to take the ball. The Canadian lefty was absolutely awful last year, and nearly as terrible in 2012 — pitching both years with the Rockies. I don’t believe Francis would have any shot at earning a spot in the Mets rotation in spring training, but his signing reminded me that the Mets really, really need to ink someone like him to a minor-league deal for insurance against the inevitable injuries that will occur.

Finally, the Orioles signed Delmon Young to a minor-league contract, inviting him to spring training. Before you dismiss that piece of news, compare his production last year to that of the Mets’ big free-agent signee Chris Young. In 103 games and 361 PAs, Delmon knocked 11 homers, drove in 38, and posted a .715 OPS. Meanwhile, Chris appeared in 107 games with 375 PAs, hitting 12 homers, driving in 40, and posting a .659 OPS. Oh, and if you want to consider the two players’ career 162-game averages, Delmon’s is 16 HR/.739 OPS while Chris’ is a bit better at 24 HR / .746 OPS. Delmon — who is remarkably only 28 years old (he seems so much older, doesn’t he?) signed a minor-league deal that could be worth up to $1M if he makes the big club, with another $750K possible via incentives. The 30-year-old Chris was handed a guaranteed one-year deal for $7.25M. Now, if it’s assumed that Chris Young plays primarily in CF and gives the Mets average to above-average defense there, is that worth 5-7 times more than a corner outfielder like Delmon Young? Maybe. But, if Juan Lagares is the Mets’ primary centerfielder in 2014, and Chris Young makes most of his appearances in a corner spot, will his glove, versatility, and better all-around athleticism be worth the extra millions? Hmm …

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. chris January 14, 2014 at 11:43 pm
    I am still confused by the Young signing. For a wildcard, it seems a bit expensive no? A lot of people hate the Colon deal, but at least he has both recent and long term track records of substantial success at a premium position.

    As for Cedeno, I don’t think we need more spare parts. The Mutts seem to have those in abundance.

    • Joe Janish January 15, 2014 at 1:15 am
      The scary thing is that on every other club in MLB, Cedeno would indeed be a spare part, yet on the Mets, he’d have a bona fide shot to be the starting shortstop. Can one be an everyday player and be a spare part?
      • chris January 15, 2014 at 6:54 pm
        To your point, on the Mets they can be! All our shortstops, all our first baseman, and potentially all our outfielders and catching options fit this description. I know you’re not a Murphy fan, but at least he is a legitimate major league hitter. But then, maybe he will regress as well. And some other sites call the Mets a rising team …
  2. Izzy January 14, 2014 at 11:54 pm
    Did not like the C Young deal, but Delman seems like he is poison. Sometimes stats are irrelevant.
    • Joe Janish January 15, 2014 at 1:10 am
      I’m not so sure about him being a poison. He certainly had his issues early in his career, but I hadn’t heard anything negative about his behavior over the past few years — outside of that issue in Manhattan when he was drunk and spouting anti-semitic slurs to tourists in the middle of the night. Now, I don’t condone that behavior in the least, and don’t excuse him, but I don’t know that it is evidence that he could be a “poison” in the clubhouse. There were otherwise no problems in Detroit, where he helped them reach the World Series, and no issues to report in Philly, which was a losing team (in case there was the theory that he behaved well because he was on a winning ballclub / surrounded by strong personalities). I do remember a point in his career when he seemed on a path similar to that of Elijah Dukes / Milton Bradley, but he seems to have matured through the years (not unlike his brother Dmitri).

      Then again, maybe being in the fishbowl of NYC would be a really bad idea for a guy who clearly has had issues of controlling his emotions as recently as two years ago. At the same time, does that make him worth six to seven million less than Chris Young? Or, maybe the question is, does Chris Young have that many more positives to be worth six million more than Delmon? I have a really hard time supporting either argument.

      • argonbunnies January 15, 2014 at 6:58 am
        I think more contracts are factoring defense these days, and I’ve heard Delmon’s is awful.
        • Joe Janish January 15, 2014 at 4:34 pm
          His defense IS pretty bad. But then, Daniel Murphy is slated to get a raise that puts him around $6M. Would he be a $10M player if he had a glove?
      • Izzy January 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm
        Sorry but Delmon’s problems in Manhattan were less than two years ago. When the Phillies signed him one year ago Amaro stated that he had character issues but …… This is pretty recent. He alsoo can’t field, nor run. Why would any NL team take him?
  3. argonbunnies January 15, 2014 at 12:31 am
    No interest in Delmon, but yeah, interesting contract comparison for Chris Young. Hopefully the overpay there isn’t impacting the team’s pursuit of Drew.

    I am sad to see Jeff Francis off the board. Had the Mets made him an offer, he might have preferred to come here due to the unsettled #5 spot. I don’t want him as a starter, but I think he could be an excellent reliever, so it would have been nice to add him to the organization.

    • Joe Janish January 15, 2014 at 1:13 am
      The overpay of Chris Young combined with the impending overpays (due to arbitration) for Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, and Ruben Tejada could very well be what’s preventing the Mets from signing Drew.

      Hmm … would you rather have Young, Duda, Davis, and Tejada, or, Drew? An interesting argument, no?

  4. DaveSchneck January 15, 2014 at 9:41 am
    None of these guys interest me. Cedeno comes close, but no thanks. I agree with your point that the backup SS market is drying up up fast. Combine that with the fact that the Mets have only one MLB quality SS in the system, that being Tejada, and there are question marks surrounding him. This tells me one thing – despite what Alderson and the brass says about Tejada, they want Drew, but they want him at a realistic price. Boras knows this, and it is just a game of chicken. Each side has risk – the Drew camp having to settle for a bargain basement deal and the Mets having to put all the chips on Tejada or pray that Tovar excels at AAA and can step in if needed. It’s quite interesting, but at the same time it’s like watching paint dry. ST, itself boring, can’t get here quick enough.
  5. DanB January 15, 2014 at 11:29 am
    Ugh. Remember when everyone was predicting a $100 million payroll as a starting point for 2014? Now the Mets can’t afford Jeff Francis and they are looking at a $85 million payroll? It makes it really hard to be interested in the hot stove debates. Any guesses to the 2015 payroll? Lots of debt still to be addressed.
    • Joe Janish January 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm
      I think Sandy Alderson’s hands are tied at least until the Mets can out from under the albatross contracts of Granderson, Colon, and D-Wright.

      Oh, wait …

  6. DanS January 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm
    One question: Does anyone know what the Mets ongoing stadium debt is?
  7. DanB January 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm
    I don’t have the time to look up the exact figures nor the time line, however the problem with the debt is that the Wilpons had original negotiated a balloon mortgage like loan that is now coming due. I am assuming they were betting that increased revenue and increased team value would allow them to renegotiate better terms now rather then when they first negotiated. They were half right. In and of itself, there is nothing out of the ordinary. However, they appear to be focused on paying down the debt in addition torenegotiating. No matter what their game plan is, having a payroll in the bottom third of the league while cutting costs throughout their system does not reflect a financially healthy team.
  8. Jujo January 17, 2014 at 9:26 am
    Its a shame that Alderson did not take advantage of “cheap” available players to shore up the depth. They should have:
    signed LaTroy Hawkins he would have helped the bullpen for 2.5 mil
    traded for Aoki (KC got him for a reliever!) He would have been our leadoff hitter instead of CY OR we could have signed David Murphy 2 years $12 mil
    signed Cedeno as SS backup (minor league deal)
    signed Arenciba as backup C (he signed for 1.8 mil)
    These signings would have been cheap and addressed key areas: leadoff hitter, bullpen depth, SS depth.