Eight 2009 Mets filed for free agency: Alex Cora, Carlos Delgado, Elmer Dessens, Ramon Martinez, J.J. Putz, Brian Schneider, Gary Sheffield, and Fernando Tatis. Let’s go through them briefly, one by one.
Tag: gary sheffield
Entering the 2009 season, the Mets were one slugger short of a championship lineup. They didn’t bother acquiring one during the winter because Daniel Murphy was going to hit like Wade Boggs and the Fernando Tatis – Ryan Church in right field was going to be the best seen in Flushing since the days of Ron Swoboda and Art Shamsky.
But when Gary Sheffield was released outright by the Detroit Tigers, the Mets snapped him up — much to the chagrin of nearly every fan, blogger, radio personality, journalist, and pundit within earshot of Citi Field (note I said “nearly“).
After all, Gary Sheffield was a loafing, selfish, evil, degenerate senior citizen who was going to cause a major disruption in the delicate Mets’ clubhouse and poison the minds of the precocious young ballplayers. There were also fears that he would steal everyone’s wallets, molest the players’ wives, put a cap in David Wright’s head, eat the Wilpons’ babies, and otherwise completely disgrace the Mets’
brand image — all while confined to a body cast and wheelchair resulting from his first attempt to walk up the dugout steps and onto the field.
As it turned out, Sheffield was
Quick, what do Miguel Olivo, Garret Jones, David Wright, Gary Sheffield, and Grady Sizemore all have in common?
All four players lead their respective teams in homeruns, but have hit less than 20.
Here’s where it gets scary — the season totals for these four:
Olivo (Royals), 19
Jones (Pirates), 19
Sizemore (Indian), 18
Wright and Sheffield (Mets), 10
Now, homeruns aren’t everything, but they do have a significant place in today’s game of watered-down pitching and emphasis on offense. And 20 is just a number — though most would agree it is something of a benchmark. A player who knocks at least 20 balls over the fence is generally considered to be a “power threat” — the type of hitter one needs to pitch carefully to in tight situations.
Yes, the injuries to Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran had something to do with the Mets not having a 20-HR hitter this year (though the pace of each suggested barely hitting 20 through 600 ABs). But Wright’s 15-day stint on the DL wasn’t the reason he is unlikely to reach that milestone. Further, the only other players on the Opening Day roster who had hit as many as 20 in a season were the 40-year-old Sheffield and Fernando Tatis (whose 34 in 1999 smell mysterious).
And before you point to vast expanse of Citi Field, consider that opponents have hit 75 homeruns in Flushing — or, a dozen more than visiting teams have hit in Coors Field. Chew on that one for a moment.
In fact, the Mets have hit 46 of their dingers in their home stadium, compared to 39 on the road. So Citi Field may have stolen a few fly balls, but that doesn’t explain the lack of power when visiting other parks.
Now consider this: there are currently 71 in MLB right now with at least 20 homeruns. In fact, 19 of them have 30 or more. Not one is a New York Met.
With a shade less than 20 games left in the season, there’s a very real possibility that the Mets finish the year as the only team in MLB without a 20-HR hitter. I’m not sure of the last time that has happened to an MLB team, but I know it hasn’t happened to the Mets since 2003, when Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz hit 18 apiece. You have to back another ten years, to 1993, to find a sub-20-HR guy lead the team (Bobby Bonilla, with 19, if you care).
Can a Major League team make it to the postseason in this day and age without at least one power threat? Some may argue a playoff-bound team requires at least three. Going into this offseason, the Mets are likely to let Delgado go, leaving Wright and Beltran as the only players under contract with the potential to hit 20 homers in a season — though they have an arbitration / non-tender decision to make with Jeff Francoeur, who has hit as many as 20 HR once in his five-year career. Assuming Francoeur returns, will those three “sluggers” be enough power to contend in 2010?
Congratulations to all you members of the media and other pundits who were so “right” about Gary Sheffield.
Just for the record, though, let’s make clear what you all were so right about.
Back in early April, when the Mets pulled the no-brainer of picking up Sheffield for the MLB minimum, people bashed the move, saying, among other things:
After 65 games at first base, Dan Murphy has shown he can be defensively adequate at the position. Other than a few brain farts and errors due to inexperience, Murphy is, right now, better than Mike Piazza ever was at the position.
If the Mets are serious about going into 2010 with Murphy penciled in as the starting first baseman — or even if they’re not — there is another player who should be getting reps at first base:
Minutes after an awkward stretch while covering first base, Jonathan Niese was removed from today’s ballgame with a severe ankle injury. Niese was immediately sent for an MRI, and during the postgame, manager Jerry Manuel said that “…we suspect it to be a tear”.
A “torn” ankle would be terrible, terrible news for the young lefthander, and would certainly end his season. Further, it could knock him out of action for 6-8 months. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the MRI comes back with a better report than the Mets suspect. Though, what worries me is the Mets have usually erred on the side of optimism.
In addition to losing Niese, Gary Sheffield also left the game after re-aggravating his hamstring. As expected, he’s listed as “day to day”. A few days ago, Jerry Manuel made it clear that Sheffield would not play in day games after night games. Despite this, he allowed Sheff to play after the two had a conversation last night. According to Manuel:
“…. he was very adamant about playing today, that he wanted to play. And the day game / night game for him, normally means that if there is a stretch of games — say we have five or six games in a row, and then we have a day game — then that becomes an issue. But we did not have that type of stretch since he went on the DL.”
Depending on Niese’s MRI, we should expect to see Niese go on the DL and a position player come up from the minors, now that both Sheffield and Luis Castillo are “day to day”.
It was only a week ago that Omar Minaya claimed the Mets to be “buyers” rather than “sellers” but that was as much hogwash then as it is now. The Mets have 11 more losses than the NL East-leading Phillies and are 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card with 65 games to play. Mathmetically, yes, they have a chance to reach the postseason. Realistically, though, it’s not likely.
With four days before the trading deadline, it’s time to see where the Mets can cut their losses and bring in some talent for 2010. Unfortunately, the list of trade bait is pretty short.
“Pedro Lite” is one of the most sought-after lefthanded relievers right now, in a mix with Joe Beimel, George Sherrill, and John Grabow. But how much will a pennant-starved team give up for a LOOGY? Would it be more than an A-ball suspect or AA filler material? The Mets may be better off holding on to Feliciano, who is showing no signs of slowing down.
Teams need pitching, and are willing to part with talent in return for quality arms. The question is, do other teams consider Green a quality arm? His stock has fallen due to a terrible first half and the fact that his performace drops considerably with overuse. The White Sox recently gave up a slugging first base prospect to pry Tony Pena from the Diamondbacks, and Pena was in the midst of a similarly down season. But, Pena is 27 and has a better track record. Can the Mets obtain a decent player for the 30-year-old Green? It’s worth trying.
After a horrible 2008, Castillo is in line for Comeback Player of the Year, and currently sizzling at the plate. There are a few pennant-contending clubs who might be in the market for a second baseman, most notably the White Sox, Twins, and Cubs. The Rockies and Giants might also have room for Castillo’s .400 OBP. However, there is the issue of Castillo’s unbearable contract, which still has two years and $12M remaining after this season. The Mets would certainly have to eat all or most of that money to get anything of value in return — much like the Red Sox’ dumping of Julio Lugo for Chris Duncan.
If the Mets are willing to continue paying Castillo, they might be able to get a prospect or two. For example, the Giants have a switch-hitting second baseman in AA named Brock Bond who is an on-base machine like Castillo, but is already 24 and has no power and only average speed — though, Mets fans would get excited over his currently .350 batting average (he’s projected to be a Jeff Keppinger / Brendan Ryan utility type of guy). The White Sox have some intriguing pitchers at AA and a big young catcher named Tyler Flowers, who was caught with PEDs in 2007 but has done well without them — whether they’d give him up for Castillo, though, is another story. Most likely, the Mets can get a mix of A and AA borderline prospects — similar to what they gave up to get him back in 2007.
In two weeks, Livan went from nearly getting booted from the rotation to emerging as their second-best starter. Everyone always needs pitching, but would anyone give up anything of value for Hernandez — particularly since he projects as a #5 on any contending club?
I know, I know — he’s one of the few exciting and dependable players the Mets have in the lineup right now. But he’s also most likely playing the best baseball he’ll ever play in his life — so it may be a good time to “sell high” (i.e., like when the Mets traded Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Desi Relaford). With Carlos Beltran presumably coming back for 2010 and 2011, Pagan’s value to the Mets is diminished. The Tigers and White Sox could be trolling for an outfielder with Pagan’s skillset, and if he can bring back something of value, it’s worth exploring. On the other hand, if you believe Beltran’s knee woes are only beginning, then it makes sense to hold on tight to Pagan, and pencil him into centerfield for next season — because there are no centerfield prospects in the Mets’ minor league system ready to step in.
I’m not seeing it. Schneider is a fairly solid defensive catcher with occasional pop, but what is a contending team going to give up for two-month rental who can’t beat out Omir Santos for a starting job? The Mets would get MAYBE an A-ball suspect, and then we’d have Robinson Cancel back in Flushing.
He can’t go anywhere as long as he’s on the DL. If he passes through waivers in August, maybe the Mets can get a AAA guy who was once a prospect but now a suspect.
I keep looking at the Mets’ roster and seeing nothing of value to other teams — a frightening parallel to their minor league system. Veterans not mentioned, such as Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Cory Sullivan, Brian Stokes, and Jeremy Reed are all key contributors on this fourth-place team, but to a contending club they are basically worthless — other organizations have similar talent stocked at AAA, so why trade for it?
More disconcerting, even if the Mets are able to pull off a few trades, will they get anything worthwhile in return?
Consider this: the last time the Mets held a fire sale was July 2003, when they unloaded Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd, and Armando Benitez — you can argue that those players were as or more more valuable then, than what the Mets have to offer now. The total return on those trades? Jeremy Hill, Jason Anderson, Kenny Kelly, Royce Ring, Victor Diaz, Kole Strayhorn, Joselo Diaz, Edwin Almonte, Andrew Salvo, Anderson Garcia and Ryan Bicondoa. Victor Diaz and Ring made minor contributions, and the rest never made it to Flushing.
In the latest move by the Mets, Gary Sheffield was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury. This occurred a day after Sheffield was pronounced “available” for a game, and on the same day that Sheff expected to be in the starting lineup.
And you wonder why people like me are constantly concocting conspiracy theories about the New York Mets organization.
Obviously, SOMETHING is going on that we are not privy to. A team simply doesn’t put a healthy player on the DL without an ulterior motive. Further, a team that is already hamstrung (pardon the pun) with injuries, and has had difficulty scoring runs, does not remove from the roster their most productive hitter and only legitimate power threat — not unless something is up.
Is there a trade brewing that requires roster space, or the showcasing of someone? Is there some kind of insurance money that can be collected for having a certain number of players injured? Is their poor handling of other injuries forcing them to be ultra-conservative? Did Sheffield tick off someone inside the organization? Have they exhausted so many options that they’re giving the George Costanza “do the opposite” strategy a whirl?
And the ultimate conspiracy theory: are the Mets purposely sabotaging themselves — i.e., trying to lose games on purpose? Let’s hope not — though if they are, the idea seemed to backfire, as the Mets exploded for 7 runs in the first five innings of play on Saturday night.
This one is hard to figure, but maybe something will occur in the next few days that cause us all to say “a-ha!”. For example, maybe the Mets are on the verge of making a blockbuster trade that will bring in 5 MLB players — named Halladay, Rios, Wells, Overbay, and Scutaro (hey, crazier things have happened). Or maybe they are showcasing Cory Sullivan for a team in need of a light-hitting, good fielding outfielder. Or maybe they’re auditioning Sullivan for the left field job next year. Perhaps there’s something else.
Something is brewing …