Tag: orlando hudson

Mets After Andruw Jones?

Back on October 21st, we threw out the idea of the Mets trading Luis Castillo to the Dodgers for Andruw Jones. Exactly ten days later, Joel Sherman dreamed up the same deal (hmm …. is it possible he reads MetsToday?). On Monday afternoon, Buster Olney reported that the Mets were indeed talking to the Dodgers about Andruw Jones — however, those talks did NOT necessarily include Luis Castillo. Naturally, there is already at least one source poo-poohing Olney’s scoop. Seems everyone wants to be either the first to report a rumor, or the first to squash it.

So let’s pull back for a moment, and look at this rationally. First, the Dodgers have absolutely no interest in Castillo. A month ago, when the left side of their infield was empty due to free agency, they might have, but in the last few weeks they signed both Casey Blake and Mark Loretta (as well as Rafael Furcal). Blake almost certainly will start at 3B, pushing youngster Blake DeWitt to 2B. Loretta is the ideal backup for all infield positions and insurance if DeWitt suffers a sophomore jinx. In other words, Castillo doesn’t fit. So if Jones comes to the Mets, it’s a near guarantee that Castillo will not be wearing Dodger blue.

But that doesn’t mean Jones to the Mets is dead — the Dodgers are still desperate to shed his contract, and are operating as if he was not on the roster. Otherwise, why would they be kicking the tires on Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, and, of course, Manny Ramirez? Clearly they’ve given up on the idea that Jones can succeed in LA, and — come hell or high water — he’ll be gone before spring training. There aren’t too many other teams in MLB who have the money to take a gamble on the $15M left on Jones’ contract … heck, few teams can handle taking on HALF of it. The Mets have the resources to do it, though, and might be willing to do so if it costs them next to nothing in return — and if the Dodgers are willing to throw in a young pitcher such as 24-year-old LOOGY Greg Miller.

But then what about Castillo? Is there some way that he can be jettisoned while Jones jets his way into Flushing? Perhaps, but only if a third team is involved. Is this getting too complicated? Too unbelievable? Maybe, but it’s happened before. One need only look to the immovable contract of Mike Hampton back in the winter of 2002. If you remember, the Rockies were on the hook for around $70M over 6 years at the time, and Hampton was coming off a miserable 7-15 season with a 6.15 ERA. However, they managed to move his hefty contract — eating a nice portion of it — by involving both the Marlins and the Braves, as well as seven players. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Can Omar Minaya pull off a similar heist? Time will tell, but one thing’s for certain — Orlando Hudson is waiting very patiently, quietly, and idly, hoping something breaks with one of the two New York teams. He won’t wait forever, but it’s kinda strange that not a peep has come from his camp this winter. Methinks that Minaya has made a contingency offer to the O-dog, perhaps with an expiration date.

Personally, I like the idea of rolling the dice on Jones. When he’s right, he’s a rare talent, with the ability to put a team on his shoulders and carry it. If he wants to play in MLB beyond 2009, he will have to put up decent numbers, so one would think he’ll be motivated to, at minimum, arrive to spring training in shape, ready to rock and roll. My inside source confirmed that Jones’ major issue at the plate had to do with his leg injuries — it’s hard to hit when you don’t have solid legs beneath you — and that his condition was exasperated by being overweight and out of shape. The same source also told me that, in-season, Jones worked his fanny off — there was only one player who put more time in after hours, and that was Manny Ramirez. I’m betting that no matter where Jones winds up, he’ll have a better year than most corner outfielders.

Whether that year will occur in Queens is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, keep your hands away from the hot stove — the fire is still stoked and going strong.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Did you send your Christmas “wish list” to Santa Claus? Or perhaps you sent it to Omar Minaya?

Already Mets fans have received two early presents — Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. But the offseason is far from over and most of us are clamoring for more than answers to the eighth and ninth inning — though it’s a fine start.

One thing to keep in mind, however: be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus recently wrote an interesting column for SI.com, pointing out “Five Free Agents To Be Wary Of“. Among them are Orlando Hudson, Randy Wolf, Milton Bradley, Jon Garland, and Jason Varitek. Huh … if it weren’t for Bradley being on that list, you’d think the article was written specifically for Mets fans, since the other four players have been rumored to be on the Mets’ shopping list.

Though I’m generally not a stat-head, Sheehan shows stats that support the headline — and I personally am wary of these five guys without delving into the numbers.

For example, as much as I love the O-dog’s personality, and think that alone would upgrade the Mets as a team, I do worry about the Mets giving him a long-term, expensive deal because he does, to me, compare to Luis Castillo at the same age. Not surprisingly, Sheehan offers the same comparison, so I’m not the only one. Think about it — when Castillo celebrated his 32nd birthday (Hudson turned 32 last week), he was about to finish a season with a .301 batting average and .368 OBP. Though he played most of that season and the one before on bad knees, he still managed to steal 34 bases and score 175 runs between 2006-2007, and his glove (not range) was still considered one of the best in the game. Yes, those bad knees greatly diminished his range, but few were in his class when it came to glovework (he made less than a dozen errors in two seasons combined) and turning the double play. In his free-agent offseason, he was finally going to get much-needed, but supposedly minor, knee surgery. Most expected that he’d return to at least 80-85% of what he was as a Gold Glove winner and top of the lineup table-setter.

And here we have Hudson, who himself is a Gold Glover and coming off a career-high .305 / .367 year (wow, those numbers are close!). Also like Castillo, he’s had several nagging injuries in his most recent two seasons. Granted, his injuries have been to his wrist, various fingers, and hamstrings — none of which would be nearly as damaging to his range as Castillo’s two bad knees. But he’s been less durable since he’s entered his 30s — is that a pattern developing? Yes, his ability to swing the stick with occasional pop still makes him a better alternative to the slap-hitting Castillo — but does it make him worth $30M over 3 years? Moreover, will the Mets be sorry they gave an injury-prone second baseman a long-term deal a year from now? It’s easy to say “no” now, and many of us thought the 4-year deal given to Castillo was crazy even at the time. But how many expected Castillo’s value to drop so drastically, so quickly? We figured it would be a bad contract when it was in the third or fourth year, not the first.

Similarly, Sheehan points out concerns that I share for Wolf, Garland, and Varitek. I’ve been shaking my head all along wondering why Wolf is in the conversation at all, and this adds fuel to the fire:

Since coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2006, Wolf has a massive Petco Park/Earth split: a 3.58 ERA and a 68/26 K/BB in the Happiest Place on Earth (For Pitchers), 4.90 with a 232/117 K/BB everywhere else. He’s a flyball pitcher without the velocity to work up in the zone any longer, and will have a huge home-run rate in a normal park.

Garland has put up better looking numbers on the surface for the last few years, but Sheehan informs us that his low strikeout and high contact rates suggest he’ll be progressively worse as time goes on. Even still, a move to the NL should stave off that downslide for at least a year or two, and he has the potential to be an innings-eater. But he certainly isn’t worth more than a two-year deal.

Varitek came up in recent rumors surrounding the Mets, though how much truth to them is up for debate. Still, the Mets have supposedly been shopping Brian Schneider in the hopes of upgrading the catching position. Would Varitek qualify as an upgrade? Hard to say. Defensively, he’s about equal to Schneider, with a weaker arm. Offensively, it’s hard to be worse than Schneider was last year, but ‘tek was close; where Schneider had no power and a so-so average, Varitek had so-so power and a terrible average — you make the call. From a leadership standpoint, there’s no question — Varitek is exactly the type of leadership personality the Mets need, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Problem is, can he play in enough games to be effective? He turns 37 next April, and is probably best served in a platoon role — ideally and ironically, with someone like Schneider. But is it worth a compensation pick and $9M/year for someone who might play in only 100 games? (Well, that’s about what the Mets paid Moises Alou to appear in 15, so ….)

Of course, there are no guarantees with any free agents, and if the Mets added one or two of these players mentioned it wouldn’t be the end of the world. In fact, I’d welcome the additions of Varitek, Hudson, and Garland. The key is not overpaying for what could turn out to be yet another bad contract.

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Mets Want Orlando Hudson

Per Ken Rosenthal:

The Mets are desperate to move second baseman Luis Castillo to create a spot for free agent Orlando Hudson. The only way to do it would be to exchange Castillo’s contract for another of similar value, but lots of luck. When the Mets asked the Rangers about a Castillo-for-Vicente Padilla — a swap that would require the Rangers to move Ian Kinsler to left field — they were told, “No thank you.” …

Is this a rumor, or speculation? We’re never quite sure with Rosenthal, who tends to blend the two.

If true, it’s not much of a scoop to hear that the Mets want to move Castillo — we’ve been hearing that since October 1. And it’s not surprising they’d be interested in Hud-Dog, especially since Hudson himself has stated he’d “love to play for the Mets and with Jose Reyes”.

Also not surprising that the pitching-starved Rangers would reject such a trade offer.

What IS surprising is that the Mets would think the Rangers would have any interest in Castillo, since they already have one of the best young second basemen in the game in Ian Kinsler. Also mildly surprising that there is any talk about Castillo when the Mets #1, #2, and #3 needs right now are pitching.

I know, I know … not much of a rumor … but anytime Rosenthal mentions the Mets, I figure you may be interested.

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Rafael Furcal’s Offers

Various media outlets are reporting that the Oakland Athletics have offered Rafael Furcal a 4-year, $48M contract — and, that the Mets have also made him a “tempting” offer.

However, Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle had this to say:

Los Angeles papers have picked up on a report in El Caribe that the A’s have offered free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal a four-year, $48 million deal that could be as much as $50 million with incentives.

A well-placed A’s source tells me this is “untrue.”

How untrue? Hard to say. That could just mean a million or two either way, or it could mean it’s way off the mark.

Personally, I also find it hard to believe that the A’s made a four-year offer, considering Furcal’s chronic back issues. Though, it may be possible that the four years are not guaranteed, but rather tied to games played. Furcal is a fine talent, and when healthy that kind of commitment is plausible — but he’s not so outstanding that he’s worth a four-year risk.

Now, what about this Mets rumor? It’s coming from the same source that Slusser says is suspect. But the Mets have been after Furcal before — they talked to him about playing second base the last time he was on the free agent market.

But if there’s any truth to the 4-year / $48M offer — or, if there’s a chance that anyone is willing to give Furcal four guaranteed years, I’d imagine that the Mets are out of the bidding. If they go four years for a second baseman over the age of 30 (again), it will be for Orlando Hudson — who has a better chance of remaining healthy, won’t need to transition from another position, and has the kind of media-friendly personality the Mets need in their clubhouse.

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