After four seasons away from Flushing, Mike Jacobs returns to the Mets.
Jacobs signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, and though I’ve always been a huge fan of his and happy to see his return, it seems like a strange acquisition.
For one, the Mets already have two lefthanded-hitting first basemen in Daniel Murphy and Chris Carter, and Jacobs doesn’t project to be appreciably better than either of those options. His one tool is the ability to hit the ball over the fence; the rest of his game is ordinary at best — for a first baseman.
However — as I suggested back in early December — Jacobs would have much more value as a catcher. It’s too perfect a solution for both the catcherless Mets and the quickly dwindling career of Jacobs, though, to happen. The Mets don’t have the chutzpah to suggest it, and Jacobs might not want to go back behind the dish. Such a return wouldn’t be unprecedented — Robert Fick, for example, extended his big-league career by 2-3 years making such a move from right field, and Brandon Inge was a semi-regular catcher for the Tigers in 2008 after not squatting for almost four years.
If such a fantasy turned true, the Mets would have an almost acceptable tandem behind the plate. There are many fans who sincerely believe that Josh Thole should be platooning with Henry Blanco come Opening Day. For those wearing the rose-colored glasses, may I suggest that if Jacobs were willing to don the tools of ignorance again, he’d immediately be on par with or possibly be ahead of Thole in terms of defense. Jacobs wasn’t a great defensive catcher, but he wasn’t godawful, either — and he was a backstop going all the way back to little league. His defensive development was stunted by a shoulder injury in his early 20s and the fact that the Mets’ organization was loaded with good young catchers in the early 2000s (Justin Huber, Vance Wilson, Jason Phillips, Joe Hietpas). With better backstops in the system and a hole at 1B, it made sense to move Jacobs out from behind the plate and fast-track his bat to the bigs.
Enough with the fantasy though … I honestly do not believe Jacobs will consider the catcher’s gear, unless he doesn’t make the 25-man roster and is sent to Buffalo. Let’s get to the reality of the situation.
There is a glimmer of hope for the 29-year-old Jacobs, considering that he’s only a year removed from a 32-HR, 93-RBI season in Florida. The Beaneheads will be quick to point out that RBIs don’t mean anything and his OBP was awful in 2008, but the fact is this: Jacobs will likely get on base as often as Dan Murphy / Fernando Tatis, and be a similar player all-around (baserunning, defense, etc.), but is more likely to hit more homeruns than Murphy and Tatis combined. And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? It’s not like the alternative is Adrian Gonzalez or Albert Pujols — Jacobs need only be better than Tatis and Murphy.