Tag: russ adams

The Fourth Outfielder

I keep reading in various places that the Mets have earmarked a portion of their meager winter budget for a fourth outfielder. If this is true, why?

It’s pretty much been established that the 2011 season will not be one seeing the Mets fighting for a playoff spot. Call it “rebuliding”, “assessing and evaluating”, “reconstructing”, or whatever you wish — the bottom line is that the team is not making a conscious effort for the short-term, and is only in the nascent stages of the long-term plan. That said, why would there be any concern about acquiring a fourth outfielder — even if it is low on the list of priorities?

Moreover, don’t the Mets already have a fourth outfielder somewhere in their system? Unless something changes between now and opening day, the starting outfield will consist of Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, and Jason Bay. None of these three men need a defensive replacement in the late innings, and none are likely to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in any situation, either. Beltran is the only of the three who may require regular rest; if he’s the starting centerfielder, Pagan will slide into his spot on those days and a the “fourth” outfielder will step into a corner.

Now that we’ve established the regular routine, what do the Mets need from that fourth outfielder?

Ideally, he’s someone who can provide some power on the days Beltran (or Bay) is absent from the lineup. It would help, but is not necessary, if he can cover all three outfield positions; if Pagan turns out to be the starting centerfielder, both Bay and Beltran are capable of handling CF when Pagan needs a break. Additionally, this extra outfielder should also be a potentially strong pinch-hitter. In reality, the Mets probably are best suited with not only a fourth outfielder but a fifth one as well — but that “fifth” would also be versatile enough to handle an infield position (or catch) and have a slightly different skill set (i.e., hit from the opposite side, provide speed if the other has power, etc.).

Taking a cursory look at the Mets 40-man roster and high-level minor leaguers, there are several candidates to fill these roles:


Mets Sign Russ Adams, Dusty Ryan

According to Mets.com, the Mets have signed infielder Russ Adams and catcher Dusty Ryan to minor-league contracts.

I liked Adams the first time the Mets signed him, and thought he should’ve been given the chance to take the utility role last spring. Unfortunately, his audition was a facade, as the Mets had already given Alex Cora a guaranteed deal and Omar Minaya pushed Ruben Tejada to the MLB roster in an effort to convince the world that his farm system could produce genuine prospects. Maybe he’ll get a legit shot at a roster spot this coming spring; otherwise, he is the fill-in at AAA when Justin Turner takes over second base for the big club.

Dusty Ryan is a tall (6’4″) backstop with a cannon for an arm but slow feet, so his throws to second aren’t as good as they should be and he’s not very adept at blocking pitches in the dirt. He showed power potential at the lower levels of the minors but hit only .199 in 89 games for AAA Portland last year. Previously a “Top Ten” prospect in the Tigers organization, Detroit considered moving him to the mound before letting him go after the 2009 season. He’s 26 years old, so there’s still an outside chance he can find his stroke again. My guess is that he was signed to add depth at AAA, and that the Mets will stockpile a few more similarly skilled catchers before spring training begins.


Final Cuts: Analysis

My apologies for not posting this earlier, but like most of the news out of Port St. Lucie this spring, it took me a long time to understand and extract the logic.

Let’s just run through specific personnel.

Nelson Figueroa (cut) – He’s not a Cy Young candidate. He’s barely an MLB-quality 5th starter. However, he had a spectacular spring, he had a great winter campaign, he had an outstanding


Mets Sign Russ Adams

5148MMMEeeetss zzazasign RRRRRRRRRRussa;ldkja; Adddddd

Sorry … I was shaking with so much excitement when I heard the news that the Mets signed Russ Adams that I could barely type!

Yes, it’s true — the Mets have finally landed a low-cost, lefthanded-hitting, super-utilityman who can ably man both middle infield positions as well as fill in at 3B and the OF if necessary.

Oh wait, didn’t they already sign Alex Cora? Well then I guess Russ Adams is the “backup to the backup”, as Jerry Manuel might say.

Which further begs the question: if someone with Adams’ skill set is available for a paltry minor-league deal and MLB-minimum salary, what was the point of signing Cora to an extravagant and guaranteed $2M contract (with an option, no less) ?

Oh, right … Adams doesn’t have nearly the same “influence in the clubhouse”. Whatever.

I like this signing. Adams is a hustling, athletic performer who never quite fulfilled the promise attached to his status as a former #1 pick, but is fine as a bench man / AAA depth. His hitting is only so-so but he has shown good discipline / strike zone judgment, is fundamentally sound, and can play all areas of the game. His arm might be a little weak to play shortstop over a long period of time but it’s fine for second base and he’s otherwise solid on defense. There was a point early in his career that scouts compared him to Brian Roberts, and he was an everyday player for the Blue Jays as recently as 2005.