New Relief Option
While we ponder the previous potentialities of Dotel and Chacon, rest assured the Mets are already on the case — they’ve acquired Brian Stokes from the Rays for cold cash. Yes, THAT Brian Stokes — the one who logged a 2-7 record with a 7.07 ERA in 59 games for Tampa Bay last season, allowing 49 runs and 90 hits in 62 1-3 innings. I know, I know, it’s too exciting to breathe just thinking about it. This deal brings me back to that much-ballyhooed winter evening of December 10, 1985, when Len Berman came on at the end of the channel 9 news to tell us that the Mets had acquired Gary Carter. Despite this remarkable turn of events, I’m fairly sure that Omar Minaya is still pounding the cell phone in search of more relief to tandem with Stokes.
Seriously though, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the Stokes purchase. I’m guessing it was a favor to the Rays, who have a ton of young talent to protect on the 40-man, while the Mets have empty spaces all over the place. Tampa Bay was likely going to release Stokes outright, so instead they get some cash. There’s also the chance that Stokes gets sent back to Tampa Bay at the end of spring training, for “cash considerations” or a player to be named later. And then there is the absolute longshot that the Mets are actually interested in his services. Hey, I never understood their signing of Darren Oliver, Chad Bradford, nor Pedro Feliciano, and all those decisions turned out great (of course, there was also Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez, Mr. Koo …).
Here is the scoop on Stokes from Baseball America, circa January 21, 2007:
“He also missed three months of the 2003 season with a right shoulder strain before having Tommy John surgery in August and sitting out the entire 2004 campaign. Stokes showed a better feel for all of his pitches last year, mixing his 90-mph fastball with a mid-70s curveball and improving changeup. His heavy fastball has natural sink and produces groundballs when heâ€™s at his best. The key to Stokesâ€™ success centers on throwing strikes. He gets in trouble when his fastball rises above the knees because it tends to straighten out, making it much easier to hit. At 27, Stokes is old for a prospect, but his rebuilt arm has relatively low mileage and he’ll be a strong candidate for the back of the Tampa Bay rotation or the bullpen in 2007.”
Well that’s a nice write-up, but the fact of the matter is that Stokes allowed nearly two baserunners per inning in 2007 while filling the back end of the Tampa Bay bullpen. Maybe The Jacket can work his magic and extract something special out of him, who knows. Or maybe the simple move from AL East to the National League will transform him into Jon Adkins. Ah … now we’re getting somewhere. The Mets need some AAA bullpen depth, and Stokes fits the Adkins role — a guy with big league experience who might be almost good enough to eat up some innings, but who will also be happy receiving a check to play baseball, even in the minors. Additionally, Stokes can probably be left off the 40-man roster if necessary … for example, to protect the next Jesus Flores.
Since the Mets gave up nothing but cash, and likely won’t have to worry about him hogging a spot on the roster, I have no qualms about the acquisition. The more the merrier.