Non-Tenders and Others

Kiko Calero signed a one-year deal with the A’s, so he’s not an option. Too bad, I was liking the idea of him coming to camp. Of course, it’s very possible he was nowhere near the Mets’ radar.

My second-favorite non-tender choice, Neal Cotts, also signed a one-year deal — with the Cubs. Scratch him off as well.

Brendan Donnelly was non-tendered by the Red Sox, but he was also implicated in the Mitchell Report as someone who sought out an anabolic steroid known as Anavar and purchased Deca-Durobolin from former Mets bat boy Kirk Radomski. Even though the Red Sox internal staff noted before acquiring him that “He was a juice guy but his velocity hasn’t changed a lot over the years … he could be a breakdown candidate,” I doubt the Mets will be signing ANYONE mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

25-year-old LHP Heath Phillips was non-tendered by the White Sox. Young lefties always make nice pickups, but Willie Randolph doesn’t like pitchers named “Heath”. Oh well.

Mark Prior
was non-tendered by the Cubs. Goddammit Omar, get on this one ASAP yesterday!!! Yes he’s a serious health question and a gamble but he won’t cost a prospect, won’t cost a draft pick, and if he comes back healthy could be the ace the Mets are dying for. Basically, a MUCH safer and cheaper alternative to A.J. Burnett. Do it do it do it!

The Tigers non-tendered Chad Durbin. Hmmm … he pitched a damn good game against the Mets in 2007, and went 8-7 with a 4.75 ERA in 19 starts for Detroit. A move to the NL might make him a very solid #5 starter.

Miguel Olivo was non-tendered by the Marlins. Too late, Miggy — we already have Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro.

Dallas McPherson was non-tendered by the Angels. The Mets don’t need a third baseman but the 26-year-old slugger might be able to transition to first base — where the Mets may have an opening in a year. His issue is a herniated disk in his lower back. I have two and can still CATCH in my late 30s. Certainly he can suck it up to play some first base.

Lefty Mark Hendrickson is a free-agent. What the hey? I’ll take him on a minor league deal.

Interestingly enough, Hendrickson was let go to make room for Tanyon Sturtze, who signed with the Dodgers after letting the Braves pay him to sit on the DL for all of 2007. Now Joe Torre has both Scott Proctor and Sturtze to abuse all over again. My guess is that Sturtze is a masochist.

The Brewers non-tendered both Matt Wise and Kevin Mench. I say sign them both. Wise would be a nice addition to the bullpen and Mench can bat against lefties in place of Ryan Church. The only issue is finding both a helmet and a pair of shoes to fit Mench, who has both a pumpkin head so big they call him “Shrek” and an inability to decipher a brannick device.

Former Met Jason Tyner has been non-tendered by the Twins. Pass. There’s a guy who should have become better friends with Kirk Radomski.

Though the A’s non-tendered, and then signed, Calero, they also non-tendered Lenny DiNardo, the big lefty who had a 4.11 ERA in 35 games, including 20 starts. He’s in the same class as Hendrickson and Durbin — a guy who could well be a solid #5 or at least good depth in AAA.

Pitchers T.J. Beam, Matt DeSalvo, and Darrell Rasner were non-tendered by the crosstown Yanks. Rasner is the best of the three, but at best a 5-inning starter. If he has any potential in middle relief, he might be worth signing to a AAA dea.

Scott Munter
was non-tendered by the Giants. He’s a big guy — 6’6″, 240 lbs — who doesn’t strike anyone out, even in the minors. Pass.

Former Astro one-hit wonders Morgan Ensberg and Jason Lane were non-tendered by the Padres. The bigger surprise is that neither were mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Pass.

Akinori Otsuka
was cut loose by the Rangers. On the surface, this looks like a no-brainer target — after all, weren’t the Mets talking about trading Lastings Milledge and Aaron Heilman for Otsuka just a year ago? Ah, but what a difference a year makes. Otsuka missed much of 2007 with an injured elbow. He’ll be 36 next season and the word on the street is that he’s not far away from Tommy John surgery. Pass — except on a minor-league deal.

RHP Josh Towers was non-tendered by the Blue Jays. Pass. I’ll take Durbin or DiNardo.

Randy Wolf
signed with the Padres. Great. One less schlep to have to worry about hogging a roster spot all year.

As for the Mets, they non-tendered Johnny Estrada, Juan Padilla, and Ben Johnson. Obviously, we no longer need Estrada with the acquisition of Brian Schneider. However, I sincerely hope both Padilla and Johnson are signed quickly. Though Padilla won’t be ready for Opening Day, he’s always been a favorite of mine and I think he can help out in the bullpen at some point. Allowing Johnson to leave is really painful considering how Heath Bell turned out. Also with Lastings Milledge leaving, I’d like to see the hustling Johnson given at least half a chance to be the 25th man in spring training. The Mets don’t have any other true righthanded hitting outfielders for the bench — or am I missing somebody? (No, Damion Easley doesn’t count.)

So there you have it. Even after all this non-tendering, I still think Octavio Dotel is the best relief option available. However I’d really, really, really like to see the Mets make an outrageous offer to Mark Prior, throwing caution to the wind. It’s only money, right? And that’s the one thing the Mets have plenty of.

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. sincekindergarten December 14, 2007 at 7:58 am
    I’d love to see Prior get a deal from Omar. He really could be a steal.
  2. whatdatmean December 14, 2007 at 8:21 am
    Omar….this is your chance now. I agreed with you in not trading 4 SP prospects for Santana, bc we would have no backups in case of injury, or SP in 09…but now, you can do it. Give them Gomez, heilman, pelf, humber, + mulvey….try to keep 1 and give a different guy, but get it dont. I think we win the NL with this[lineup stays, acquisitions in CAPS]:
    SP-SANTANA, pedro, maine, ollie, el duque [PRIOR, moves duq to the BP, when he is ready]
    RP-HENDRICKSON[long/spot], show, DOTEL, OTSUKA, feliciano, sanchez, wags [thats 4 legit setup guys]
    in AAA:SP convert rustich back to SP, with Sosa, DE SALVO/RASNER, vargas,+ bostick. RP-burgos, kunz, muniz, collazo, smith.
    *plus, we get to keep Guerra and Fmart, our 2 best prospects, AND we have 3 picks this year.

    I think pelf/humb/mulv will be good, but not Santana good. As long as we have guys to sub in when injuries happen, bc they will, then we are in good shape. So, get crackin Omar, you got some work to do!!!!!!!!!!

  3. isuzudude December 14, 2007 at 9:40 am
    whatdatmean: we need to instill a reality check here. The Twins want Gomez AND F-Mart from the Mets, along with a package of Heilman/Pelfrey/Humber, so if you’re unwilling to include both OF prospects for Santana, you need to throw your projections out the window. Also, I’m not sure how many times Joe has reminded you, but Burgos is not going to pitch at all in 2008. He is recovering from TJ surgery, which traditionally needs over a year to heal completely. I know you only have him in AAA, but you need to accept that he will not be available at any level until 2009 at the earliest.

    I think the only way Omar goes crazy with non-tender pick-ups is if he creates a lot of holes on the team as a result of a blockbuster trade. But I still don’t think one is on the horizon. There’s a chance we swing a deal for a back-end of the rotation guy, like Marquis or Matt Morris, or we pick up an innings eater, like Livan or Silva (who I’m starting to lose hope in obtaining). But as of right now, there’s little room on the roster for all these “desirable” non-tenders, and little chance they’re all willing to accept minor league deals. Someone out there will be desperate enough to sign them to guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts, which I’m pretty sure Omar is not handing out this winter to questionable talents.

    For argument’s sake, if the Mets were in need of additions to the roster due to trade, I’d be a fan of picking up the following:

    1. Matt Wise – his numbers are pretty similar to Heilman’s, in that he gets both lefties and righties out and, in good seasons, his WHIP numbers are around 1.00. He would also provide us with a good insurance plan in case Sanchez isn’t fully recovered and if Sosa doesn’t come back as strong as he was last year.
    2. Eddie Guardado – he’s still out there. Call me crazy, but I think he’s still got some good innings left. Granted, I’m not sure if I sign him to anything more than a minor league deal, but Guardado would be the perfect addition to completing my bullpen of 4 lefties (along with Billy and Feliciano, with Scho being the LOOGY) to match up against those deadly lefties in the division.
    3. Jason Lane – again, nothing more than a minor league contract. He’s right-handed and has the ability to hit 20+ HR (see 2005), and would make an adequate replacement if Alou were to get hurt or Church were to need a platoonmate.

    Joe: in regards to right-hand hitting OFs. With Johnson’s departure, the only major-league ready righty bat we have who plays OF by trade is Gomez, so we definitely need some more bodies who fit that bill. But Easley does have to count. Read this:
    Am I the only one getting the feeling that 2008’s RF production is going to be worse than the Karim Garcia/Shane Spencer platoon of 2004?

  4. whatdatmean December 14, 2007 at 10:39 am
    i agree with matt wise…he would be a good decision.
    dude, reality check, its IF the reports are true. reports are that the twins asked for 4 pospect SP’s the gomez, OR 3 SP + gomez + fmart. so, with that, i trade the 4 SP and restock with the non-tenders.
    thats what i said in the 1st place, and you agreed. geez
    btw, wise + dotel or otsuka would make sense bc dotel and otsuka are returningfrom injuries.
    My main point is that the depth of the non-tender list makes it easier for the Mets to add depth to replace the prospects they would lose in the trade. So, it makes sense to sign 3-4 guys and trade what you have to to do it.
  5. joe December 14, 2007 at 11:06 am
    OK, maybe I should have qualified my “Easley doesn’t count” statement.

    What I meant to say is, if Easley is the platoon partner to Church in RF, the Mets are in deep doo-doo.

    While Easley had a flukey first half of success last year, I don’t see him as someone who is going to give you much — not with the bat nor the glove. It’s nice to have him around for his versatility, but I think he’s blown his load — kind of like Jose Valentin having that great ’06.

    Maybe I’m nuts but I don’t see a championship team trotting Easley into RF on a semi-regular basis. However, I do see Kevin Mench fitting in nicely and becoming a fan favorite.

  6. sincekindergarten December 14, 2007 at 1:35 pm
    I was wondering about Kevin Mench as well. It would seem that he might be the 25th Man off the bench. Then again, I’m probably wrong, but at this stage, . . .
  7. isuzudude December 14, 2007 at 2:24 pm
    I’m on board with signing Mench and letting him share RF duties with Church. However, fitting him on the roster likely comes at the expense of Ruben Gotay (since I don’t see Anderson, Easley, Chavez, or Castro as candidates to be dumped before opening day). I gotta say I think Mench would be more valuable than Gotay on the roster, for a few reasons. One, he’s right handed, and the only righty we currently have on the bench is Easley (as I wouldn’t use Castro as a pinch hitter and Gotay is virtually useless from the right hand side). Two, I think it’s much more important to have a platoon partner and reliable backup in RF than at 2B, as I feel much more comfortable giving Castillo 500+ atbats than Church. Third, Gotay is expendable as Easley and Anderson could serve as backups at 2B (although I’m not sure who inherits backup SS behind Reyes). The toughest part of it is telling Gotay to go back to AAA despite his terrific 2007 season.

    This would give us a bench of Castro, with lefties Anderson and Chavez, and righties Easley and Mench. Good power, good versatility, decent speed.

    RF would then become pretty close to a straight-up platoon of Church playing vs RHP and Mench vs LHP. On paper, the platoon figures to produce some strong numbers from RF and from the 7th spot in the order. Mench is a career .305 batter vs LHP with a .924 OPS, while Church (in his first season seeing significant playing time) was .287 vs RHP with an OPS of .866. This could help us forget about shipping Milledge away, as his overall numbers this year will likely fall between .260-.275 average with an OPS of .760-.830. Of course, platoon situations don’t always work out as planned, as injuries and insufficient playing time can lead to many problems. But at this point, I’m very much in favor of something that would break up the left-handed heavy bottom of our order while allowing us to nurture Gomez one more year in AAA and wouldn’t cost us any prospects in the process.

    whatdatmean: I agree that the non-tender list is strong this winter and could provide the Mets with a lot of opportunities, but projecting that we’ll be able to sign 4 or 5 of them, particularly the ones that are going to be most sought after (Prior, Otsuka, Wise) is not realistic. I also don’t understand why it “makes sense” from the Mets point of view to sign as many injury risks (Dotel, Otsuka, Prior) as possible. Are we looking to assemble an entire pitching staff on our DL, or looking to beef up our current staff with capable bodies who will be ready at a moments notice if Pedro, Duque, Perez, Sanchez, or Wagner go down with injury?

  8. whatdatmean December 14, 2007 at 2:44 pm
    dude…. wise + otsuka or dotel, bc they are injury risks, thats why we only take 1 with wise, who is less of an injury risk. also, as unrealistic as it may be, it is still entirely possible, especially when you purge your team for 1 player. You have to figure we need atleast 3 guys if that trade goes through…2 is a stretch. we need 1 SP/long relief for depth, and 1 RP for the pen to replace heilman. Thats still leaving a vacancy from Mota and sele, and counting Sosa, plus, we need someone in AAA just in case. So, if there is a need, it is entirely possible, especially at that cost.
    I like the idea of Mench, but i just dont see Gotay going. he did too good last year, and is the only viable ss + 3b backup. As long as he has options, he could go to AAA and be recalled when wright or reyes needs a break, but thats inefficient. The Mets could always go with 1 extra bench guy[6 total] and 1 less BP[6 total], to start the year. As long as the SP go deep to start the season, and the BP isnt getting killed, it could work. It may be needed considered the injury risks in delgado, cstillo, beltran, and alou. Other teams do it with success. If that was the case, we would be using a guy like smith/muniz like heath bell was, shuffling him back + forth when we need a fresh arm.
    It may be too early to speculate on the bench bc the trade waters havent settled down yet. Also, you dont have to be a righty to have success against lefties, it just helps. Chavez, Easley, or Anderson can hit both sides fairly well, and Church isnt that bad against lefties, he just isnt that good. If you were to always play the matchups, then we would have to sub delgado, which doesnt work. You would also have to assume that castro would start against lefties most of the time, which would add another righthanded bat.
    Lets see how it plays out, Mench is good, but we should be focusing on adding pitchers right now, especially if Omar thinks he will be swinging a deal for Santana.
  9. isuzudude December 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm
    whatdatmean: We disagree about the Mets likelihood of acquiring Johan. I stand fast in believing the Twins are demanding Gomez and F-Mart, and nothing less than that. If Gomez/Heilman/Pelfrey/Humber/Mulvey was what Minnesota was looking for, Santana would have been a Met by now.
    You’d really be flirting with danger by only carrying 11 pitchers. All we’ve done since the end of the season is point out how Willie doesn’t allow his starters to go deep enough in games, and now you want to take a reliever away from him so you can keep a backup at SS/3B? How many times in 2008 do you plan on giving Wright and Reyes days off to justify keeping Gotay instead of a 7th reliever? Chances are also great that Gotay suffers a serious regression in 2008, as he’s never come close to the production he contributed last season in any previous season. Considering guys like Pedro, Duque, and Pelfrey are not strong candidates to be pitching 7+ innings every outing further stresses the importance of having as deep an available bullpen as possible.
    It’s also never too early to speculate anything. You’re already speculating the Mets have what it takes to land Santana without any hint that the transaction could be made into reality, so why can I not speculate about what our bench is going to look like in 2008? What’s the point of sharing our thoughts on a blog anyway? Also, I know righties aren’t only good against LHP, and vice versa with lefties vs RHP. But in this circumstance with Mench/Church, it applies. In 209 career atbats vs LHP, Church has just 3 HR while hitting .254. It doesn’t seem like he’s yet to figure them out (certainly not to the level Mench has), and at 29 if he hasn’t figured them out by now he’s probably not going to. I’m also not saying to play strictly by matchups for the entire team. Guys like Alou, Delgado, and Wright play everyday against everybody, no matter what the matchup is. Their reputations and career numbers indicate they can handle that type of responsibility and workload. But in the case of Church and Schneider, it does not. That’s why subbing in a Mench and Castro when tough LHP mathcups are presented should provide the lineup with significant boosts. Numbers don’t lie.
    However, like I said in my last post, I understand platoon situations don’t always produce successful results. But I think trying a Mench/Church platoon would be much better than having Church contribute squat when LHPs take the mound against the Mets.
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