Mets Pass On the Buck, Say Nay to Nyjer
Several players have found homes outside Flushing over the past few days. Let’s take a look at them briefly.
John Buck has agreed to a one-year, $1M deal with the Seattle Mariners — a far cry from the 3-year/$18M contract he inked with Miami in 2011. Buck hit like Babe Ruth last April, then like Babe the pig before being dealt to Pittsburgh (along with Marlon Byrd) in the trade that brought back Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. There was no need for the Mets to bring back Buck, other than to placate fans who own Buck Shot and Buck You shirts. His (lack of) production will easily be replaced by Anthony Recker, Taylor Teagarden, Juan Centeno, and/or any other random backup catcher. As for the intangibles he brought to the team, I understand that Travis d’Arnaud had nice things to say about Buck, but I felt that the veteran backstop’s frequent whining to home plate umpires was a negative influence on the Mets’ younger players (Ike Davis and Josh Satin, in particular, seemed to follow his lead in that department).
Another former Mets catcher, Rod Barajas, has left active duty and will be managing a Rookie League team for the Padres. Remember when Barajas hit like John Buck a few Aprils ago?
Nyjer Morgan returned to the USA after a stint in Japan and signed a minor-league deal with the Indians. Throughout the winter, a few MetsToday readers have suggested Morgan as a possible candidate for center field / leadoff, and, considering his cost, to me it would’ve made sense for the Mets to give him a flyer. Perhaps they did make an offer, and he preferred Cleveland — who knows? His three main tools — glove, bat, and speed — were all wearing down prior to his exile to Asia, and at age 33, being the player he was three years ago is unlikely (without tapping the resources of an anti-aging clinic, of course). But, bringing in a veteran like Nyjer Morgan might have been a good message to send / motivation for the Mets’ young outfielders. The argument against such a move is that the Mets are content with Matt den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Juan Lagares competing against each other for roles on the 2014 club. But, sometimes there can be too much familiarity and camaraderie amongst players — perhaps throwing a wild card like Morgan into the mix would put everyone on edge.
Chris Coghlan signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs. If he makes the big club out of spring training, his salary is $800K, with another $250K possible in incentives. Again, would it have hurt the Mets to bring in Coghlan to light a fire under the youngsters? Further, Coghlan spent the bulk of his minor league career as a second baseman, and has seen time at 3B as well — I wonder if he’d be able to be a utlityman? If so, he’d be a nice bat to have on the bench. What the Cubs are giving him, though, is far more than what the Mets wanted to pay the “lazy” Justin Turner — who is a similar player but with more recent infield experience.
Two more middle infielders are off the table: Gregorio Petit and Alexi Casilla. Petit is a minor-league shortstop who had a strong 2013 in the hitter-happy PCL; he inks a minor-league deal with the Astros. Casilla joins the Orioles on a minor-league deal; Baltimore originally declined his 2014 $3M option. I realize that few of you ever heard of Petit, and may not be so high on Casilla, but there aren’t many middle infielders left on the market, other than Omar Quintanilla and Stephen Drew. Well, there’s Miguel Tejada, but he’s not so slick at shortstop any more, and he still has about a hundred games to serve on his latest PEDs suspension.
The Orioles also signed Alfred Aceves to a minor-league deal. The lefty will get $1.2M guaranteed, and up to $3M in incentives, if he makes the Majors. He’s been wildly inconsistent over the past two years, with some behavioral issues that didn’t fly in the pressure-cooker of Boston.