Archive: March 31st, 2008

Last-Minute Pickups

The Mets’ roster is set, and, barring an injury, there is next to no possibility of a change being made for at least two weeks — when Duaner Sanchez is eligible to come off the disabled list.

However, there are a handful of mildly interesting ballplayers available after final cuts were made around the Majors.

Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Cruz was the loser of the Jason Botts vs. Nelson Cruz spring training smackdown. I like Cruz — who happened to pass through the Mets organization early in his pro career — and think he’d be valuable off the bench for his power potential. He is out of options so Texas designated him for assignment. While I love Brady Clark, he or Angel Pagan becomes redundant when Moises Alou returns. The 27-year-old Cruz is the type of player the Mets don’t currently have: a slugging righthanded-hitting outfielder about to enter his prime years.

Jay Gibbons, Orioles
The Mets are desperate for a legitimate, veteran, righthanded-hitting outfielder / first baseman with power. Gibbons — released by the Orioles — fits the bill only too perfectly. Except for one thing: he has a 10-game suspension pending due to an HGH purchase in 2005. The Mets may not like the idea of bringing in a player with that kind of baggage … but who knows?
*** UPDATE ****
I’m an idiot … Gibbons is a lefthanded hitter. Thanks to isuzudude for setting me straight.

Woody Williams, Astros
Counted on to be the ‘stros #2 or #3 starter, Williams shat the bed this spring (11.25 ERA) and was released. Upon his release, Williams announced his retirement and stated that he would not pursue an MLB job elsewhere. Too bad, he might have been a decent option as a #5 starter.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Rangers
This is an emotional choice — though, Fonzie did hit .308 before being amongst the last cuts by the Rangers.


Ryan Church : Xavier Nady

Mets outfielder Ryan ChurchA few years ago, the Mets made a very unpopular trade during the offseason, trading one outfielder for another. The trade seemed illogical, nonsensical, and a complete mis-read of the market.

After all, the Mets swapped a Gold Glove centerfielder — Mike Cameron — to the Padres in return for an unknown corner outfielder, at a time when it seemed like half the league was in dire need of a centerfielder. Heck, it was the same offseason that journeyman Gary Mathews Jr. netted himself a five-year, $50M payday.

Everyone said that Omar Minaya was an idiot for dealing away the popular Cameron for some guy named Xavier Nady. Nady, after all, wasn’t even a fourth outfielder for San Diego — he was a converted third baseman with a suspect glove and an inability to hit righthanders. The deal was universally panned by every respected news authority.

Somehow, Nady beat out Victor Diaz for the starting rightfield spot. Somehow, Nady hit 14 homers in half a season, and became not only a formidable force in the lineup but also a fan favorite. And when the young slugger was shipped to Pittsburgh for Roberto Hernandez (and some throw-in named Oliver Perez), people were again up in arms over a Nady trade — only this time they said the Mets were crazy for trading him away. Ironically, Omar was correct in the initial Nady deal, as well as the second Nady deal. In Omar We Trust.

Once again, Minaya made a universally unpopular move in a trade of two outfielders. This time, it was Lastings Milledge going to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Never mind that it’s rare for a non-MLB player to fetch two legitimate MLB starters — the Nationals stink, right? Milledge will run and hit circles around both of those scrubs.

Or will he?

Like Nady, Church is coming in as a result of an extremely unpopular deal. Like Nady, Mets fans barely heard of Church before the trade. Like Nady, Church comes in with a reputation as one who can’t hit pitchers who throw from a particular side. Like Nady, the expectations are low — everyone’s expecting this deal to look like a really bad one on Omar Minaya’s resume.

And with a little luck, like Nady, Ryan Church will silence the critics, and be a guy that no one wants to see leave at the trading deadline.