Tag: miguel olivo

Mets Fan Window Shopping: Catcher

It’s clear the Mets need a catcher. Actually, they need two catchers — a starter, and a backup. Josh Thole is a really nice guy, and he works really hard, but he’s not an everyday catcher on a championship club, and he might not even be a backup on a championship club. Most second-string backstops offer at least one plus MLB tool; generally, it’s either a strong defensive skill or a power bat. Sometimes, a second-string catcher is just average all-around. Unfortunately, Thole meets none of these characteristics. Offensively, he offers zero power and has steadily regressed in every other batting skill. Defensively, he’s hit his ceiling as below-average all-around; some would argue that his game calling, lack of leadership, and inability to handle pitchers is detrimental.

The Mets might try to trade for a catcher, but right now we’ll do some window-shopping on the free-agent market.


Mets Hot On Ronny Paulino

According to ESPN’s Jorge Arangue, the Mets are close to signing free-agent catcher Ronny Paulino.

If indeed this deal becomes reality, it gives the Mets a very good backup to Josh Thole — and one who, if motivated, can challenge Thole for the starting job.

Of course, that’s a big “if”. Paulino has always had the physical talent to be a solid, perhaps above-average, Major League catcher. He has a strong and accurate arm, balanced setup behind the plate, and can move his feet pretty well for a man his size — when he’s at a good playing weight. Offensively, he has the physical tools to hit for power and has at times shown an ability to get on base.

However, Paulino has also been something of an enigma. He’s been wildly inconsistent, both behind the plate and at it. Part of it, I’m sure, has been bouts of lazyness, an inability to stay focused, and a chronic weight problem. In some ways, he may remind one of Ramon Castro, though I think Paulino has better all-around defensive skills. He also reminds me a bit of Javy Lopez — another catcher who perpetually underachieved due to issues of motivation and concentration (though, Lopez was far more gifted offensively).

Maybe Paulino can reach his potential under a strict disciplinarian like Terry Collins, who knows? Maybe someone on the Mets’ medical staff will find out the guy needs medication for A.D.D.

At worst, the Mets get a RH-hitting catcher who hits very well vs. LH pitchers and provides solid if inconsistent defense — a good foil to Josh Thole. At best, the Mets may catch lightning and have an everyday catcher similar to Miguel Olivo.

Assuming the Mets sign Paulino to a cheap, one-year contract, it’s a good deal for them — particularly considering the dearth of catching available on the free agent market. Though, I’d still like to see them make a play for Dioner Navarro.

Adam Rubin has more on Paulino here.


Putz and Kendall Sign

jjputz-sadJ.J. Putz agreed to terms with the White Sox on a one-year, $3M contract plus incentives. Heck, at that price I would’ve liked to have seen him return to the Mets, who paid for his surgery and rehab. Oh well.

But hey, the Mets won’t miss the 7 players they sent to Seattle and Cleveland for the pleasure of 29 innings thrown by Putz and 161 at-bats by Jeremy Reed. And hey, there’s a good chance Sean Green returns to the Mets bullpen in 2010, so the deal wasn’t a complete loss. Meh.

In other news, Jason Kendall signed a two-year, $6M deal with the Kansas City Royals. I realize Kendall wasn’t the “sexy” choice among the free-agent backstops, but he wasn’t the worst either. The price and the two-year commitment seems steep for a 36-year-old catcher who makes Luis Castillo seem like a power hitter.

You could argue that the relatively expensive cost Kendall gives Bengie Molina leverage, but I believe just the opposite. Signing Kendall takes the Royals off the board in regard to the tiny and ever-shrinking demand for starting catchers. The only teams left who are definitely in the market for a veteran everyday receiver are the Giants (who publicly stated “that ship has sailed”), Astros, and Mets. The Rangers might be in play as well — despite having youngster Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia — but we haven’t heard any buzz about them going after Molina. So really it comes down to the Mets and the Astros, with Molina, Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, and Yorvit Torrealba all available — though, most believe that Torrealba will re-sign with the Rockies to platoon with Chris Iannetta.

Not to be ignored is the fact that Dioner Navarro — among others — may be non-tendered soon, swelling the pool of available catchers a bit more.

That said, you have to hope that the contract offer tendered by the Mets to Molina this past week was for one guaranteed year and an easily digestible salary. Anything else is bad business, since the supply exceeds the demand.


Free Agent Evaluation: Catchers

Despite already having a competent backup in Omir Santos, the Mets have signed two backup catchers — Chris Coste and Henry Blanco — and are in the market for a starting backstop. We know Omar Minaya has his eye on Bengie Molina, but he’s not the only one out there. Let’s go through the top targets.


No Arb for Olivo, Polanco, Dye, Dotel

Today is the last day for teams to offer arbitration to players who have filed for free agency.

If you are unaware, this is a big deal particularly in regard to free agents who are classified as “Type A” or “Type B”. When a team offers arbitration to those free agents, and the player signs elsewhere, the team receives compensation draft picks — one of which comes from the new team that signed the free agent. So for example, if the Mets sign a “Type A” free agent who had been offered arbitration by his former team, they would lose their 2nd-round pick in the June 2010 draft. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors offers a more detailed explanation.

So when a “Type A” or “Type B” free agent is NOT offered arbitration, the eventual signing team doesn’t lose any draft picks.

Today, it’s been announced that, among others, Type A free agents Placido Polanco, Jermaine Dye, and Octavio Dotel, and Type B free agent Miguel Olivo have NOT been offered arbitration by their 2009 clubs. I highlighted these four because they all fit holes that need to be filled by the Mets.


How Bad is Mets Power Outage?

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.

power-outageHere’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?