The Philadelphia Phillies signed starter A.J. Burnett to a one-year, $16M contract (that includes an option for a second year). In response, the Mets signed Jose Valverde to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. Which deal will turn out better?
Both of these signings smell like a desperation moves. For Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, it’s a desperate attempt to make it appear as though his team could compete for the postseason; the reality is that he’ll need nearly every single player on the roster to drink from the fountain of youth in order to finish with more than 75-80 wins.
Meanwhile, this is Valverde’s last-ditch effort to remain a big-leaguer. “Papa Grande” was always and forever one of the most inconsistent and frightening relievers to watch, yet he somehow found a way to save 40+ games three times in his career, with three different teams. His last productive year was recent enough — 2012 — but he finished that year so poorly, the Tigers didn’t trust him to pitch in the postseason and cut ties with him that offseason. He wound up finding his way back to a beleaguered Detroit bullpen in late April of last year, and though he converted 9 of 12 save attempts, when he failed, he failed so spectacularly that the Tigers let him go. Maybe his methods were too much for aging Jim Leyland‘s heart. Maybe he still has something in the tank. If Detroit was too pressure-filled for Valverde, I can’t imagine him gaining his confidence back in the fishbowl that is New York. But we’ll see. It’s more paint for the Mets to throw on the wall, and there’s no risk, so the signing makes sense.
As for Burnett, he’s reinvented himself as a sinkerballer who pitches to contact. But I wonder how much he’ll be affected by the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park. He was smart not to return to the AL East, but he’ll have his challenges when pitching at home. I get why the Phillies signed him — they’re betting that starting pitching can carry them, and they figure they have more offense (when everyone is healthy) than the Mets and Marlins. But they’re still no closer to the Braves and Nationals, and, unless Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Domonic Brown all play 150+ games, they’re going to have to battle to stay out of the cellar.
What’s your thought? For the Mets, is it more cans of paint, the better? Do you think the Phillies have any shot at a Wild Card, now that they have A.J. Burnett? Post your notes in the comments.
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.