There have been a few rumors floating that the Mets could obtain Pat Burrell from the Rays — possibly as part of a three-team deal that would send Luis Castillo to the Cubs and Milton Bradley to Tampa Bay.
Such a trade may not come to fruition, but “Pat the Bat” is definitely on the trading block, and he fits the description of “power hitting left fielder” that the Mets are so desperate to acquire.
But would you, as a Mets fan, want him?
Forget that his name is Pat Burrell for a moment, and consider whether you would want a left fielder who averaged 31 HRs, 99 RBI, and an .890 OPS in the last four seasons he played in the NL East. Would you take on his one year and $9M in return for a marginal player, in a salary dump deal (from the Rays’ perspective)? Be sure to factor in the player’s motivation — in that he’ll be playing for a 2011 contract.
Granted, Burrell had a poor year in 2009, but it was his first time in the American League, his first time as a DH, and he spent the entire season fighting a neck injury. If the neck is fully healed — and yes it’s a big “if” — and he returns to the comfort and knowledge of NL opponents, there’s a decent possibility he returns to the 30-HR threat he was from 2005-2008.
Before you say “whoa, a lot of his homers came from playing in that bandbox known as Citizens Bank Park”, go check the stats — he hit 21 of his 2008 HRs away from CBP. In 2007 the split was about even (14 away, 16 in CBP) and in 2006 it was 17 away, 12 at home. There is no question he has the strength to hit the ball out of any park (18 in 334 career ABs in pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium helps support that argument).
In addition to his homerun power, Burrell hits the ball into gaps, takes a ton of pitches, and usually walks close to 100 times a year. When he’s on a hot streak, he can put a team on his back and carry it.
On the negative side, his fielding has gotten worse as he’s aged, he is a poor baserunner, and when he slumps, he slumps like no one else — they are massive, horrendous slumps that make him look like he’d be better off serving hot dogs for a living. I doubt the average Mets fan would be able to handle a lengthy Pat Burrell slump without sending a blunt object through the TV set.
Additionally, Burrell has proven to be less than savvy with the media, and often comes off as condescending or bitter when he’s quoted. Combine a bad slump with NYC reporters, and Pat Burrell could quickly become the target of angry Mets fans. Oh, and then there’s that whole history with him mashing homeruns in Shea while wearing a Phillies uniform — he’d be coming in with a reputation not unlike when Tom Glavine first arrived in Flushing.
How do you feel about the possibility of Pat Burrell joining the Mets?
*** UPDATE 11:30am ***
Andrew Vazzano of TheRopolitans has posted a rumor that Burrell has been traded to the Mets.