Tag: ryan spilborghs

Centerfield Options

As we all know, Carlos Beltran has underwent knee surgery and is expected to be out for 12 weeks. No one is sure if “12 weeks” refers to the time before he can walk, run, or play ball. No one has made clear that it is “at least 12 weeks” or “a minimum of 12 weeks”. The recent history of communications from the Mets in regard to player injuries, though, tells us that the “12 weeks” means little or nothing.

That said, we’ll pretend that Carlos Beltran will NOT be in uniform, in centerfield, in April, and possibly not until May (which, in Metspeak, means, he most likely will be back in the lineup sometime in August).

Who will play centerfield for the Mets while we wait for Beltran’s return? Here are some of the possibilities.

Free Agents

Rick Ankiel
The best free-agent centerfielder still available on the open market. He has no desire to play in NYC, and is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he hit .231.

Alfredo Amezaga
The second-best free-agent centerfielder still available. Hits from both sides of the plate, has good speed, and can play every position on the diamond except catcher. He hit .217 last year and turned 32 a few days ago. In his prime years (27-29) he was a semi-regular super utlityman who hit in the .260s with no power.

Endy Chavez
Endy is coming off major knee surgery that ended his 2009 season. He turns 32 in a few weeks. His age and his surgery likely will affect his once excellent range. Neither issue should affect the fact he has no power, no plate discipline, and is a streak hitter.

Johnny Damon
There was a time that Damon was adequate in centerfield. That time has long past. Comically enough, there have been some pundits who suggest signing Damon for left field and shifting Jason Bay to center — many of the same pundits who previously insisted that Jason Bay’s defensive skills in left field would nullify his offensive production and ultimately doom the Mets.

Cory Sullivan / Jeremy Reed
Either of these choices would provide stellar defense, solid fundamentals, hustle, and good baserunning but only limited offensive production. The cost would be very affordable — likely under $1M.

Reed Johnson
This name is being bandied about more than Sullivan/Reed and I don’t understand why — Reed Johnson is essentially the righthanded, more expensive version of those two. I guess it’s a matter of people preferring change for the sake of change.

Rocco Baldelli
Is he healthy? Can he play every day? Does he want to play in NYC? If the answer is “yes” to all three it’s a no-brainer. But we don’t know the answers.

Randy Winn
Winn has been coveted by the Mets for several years, as his name comes up in rumors every July. He hasn’t been an everyday centerfielder since 2004 because his range is limited. He might be an OK stopgap, providing solid if unspectacular all-around performance. Certainly he is a well-rounded, fundamentally sound ballplayer with extensive experience and has a good rep off the field / in the clubhouse.

Jerry Hairston, Jr.
This name has been suggested by various sources recently. Why, I have no idea. Hairston is essentially an older, more versatile, but otherwise less-talented version of Reed Johnson. His main value is the ability to stand in several different positions on the diamond, but, at none is he particularly stellar — centerfield included. In any case, it appears he’s about to sign with the Padres.

Eric Byrnes

The price tag should be cheap, and if he’s healthy, he might be an OK option — if he’ll sign an MLB-minimum contract. The Crashtest Dummy last played CF regularly in 2006, and no one knows for sure if he’s healthy enough to walk out to center, much less play it.

Gerald “Ice” Williams
I’m kidding.

Trade Candidates

Gary Matthews, Jr.
The Angels are dying to rid themselves of Matthews and his contract — and will probably pay some or all of his salary to make him go away. He hasn’t performed anywhere close to his “enhanced” career year with the Rangers in 2006, and is now 35 years old.

Ryan Spilborghs

The rumor mill was rife with Spilborghs’ name earlier in the winter, and he remains an extra outfielder on the Rockies’ depth chart. The Beaneheads love him for his OBP, and he can cover centerfield adequately enough to be a worthwhile stopgap. But at what cost, and is he any better than Angel Pagan?

In-house Possibilities

Angel Pagan
The most likely and most sensible solution is Angel Pagan. He has the physical (if not mental) skills to handle center field more than adequately, and showed in 2009 that he can be an offensive force in spurts.

Fernando Martinez

Do we really want to watch him be overmatched in MLB when he should be further developing his skills, confidence, and ability to stay on the field in the minors?

Jason Bay / Jeff Francoeur
Even if either of these players was capable of handling centerfield for more than a week, it would still create a hole in one of the corners. Not plausible.

Conclusion

I think we know the way the Mets will go — they’ll plug in Angel Pagan and hope for the best. And looking at the alternatives, it’s not a bad plan. Though, I’d prefer they also back him up with a solid, cheap defender such as Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan, AND have a “Plan B” in place — Randy Winn would appear to be the most logical choice in terms of availability and cost. Winn can fill in as a late-inning defender in center and left, and be a veteran bat off the bench — he can just as easily play every day, and/or split time in a platoon situation. Maybe if Ankiel were more interested in playing in New York I’d think differently, but that plus his history suggests he isn’t “built” to play in a big market.

What do you think?

READ MORE +

If the Mets Buy

When the team was more than 8 games behind in the Wild Card standings, Nepopolitans GM Omar Minionaya insisted that the team would be “buyers” rather than “sellers” at the deadline. This, of course, came as a surprise, since they were window shoppers last year at this time — a time when they were atop the NL East but desperately in need of one or two final pieces to solve the puzzle. If they were so close last year and didn’t “buy”, why would they “buy” now?

But we have tired of trying to figure out what’s going on in the minds of the Nep’s front office — it’s a futile and frustrating exercise. Most likely, it’s the four-game winning streak, which has lifted the hopes of the fans and fed the Mets’ hype machine. If the Mets make a deal now — even a little one — it could be enough to incite many fans to buy tickets for August and September. So with a little more than 24 hours left to wheel and deal, let’s consider what Minionaya might try to procure.

A LOOGY

The Mets have needed a second lefthander to team with Pedro Feliciano since … well, since forever. The never-ending auditions of Pat Misch, Ken Takahashi, Casey Fossum, etc., has not uncovered a gem. Maybe the Mets can swing a few A-ball suspects for someone like John Grabow or Joe Beimel — but in the grand scheme of things, would such a deal make a difference?

First Baseman

Forget it. The Mets are committed to Dan Murphy at first until Carlos Delgado or game 162 — whichever comes first. So get used to second baseman-type production from the first base position, and hope against hope that the Mets can make up for it at another position.

Left Fielder

The player that would have fit perfectly here was Ryan Garko, but the Giants beat the Mets to him. Mark Kotsay might have been a nice pickup for the short-term, but he also was scooped up. Ben Francisco or Wladimir Balentien would have been an upgrade over the current menagerie being thrown out there. Heck, Wily Mo Pena would’ve been nice to try out right now, but that possibility was muffed. No use crying over split milk. The list of players left include Ryan Spilborghs, Mark Teahen, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, maybe Luke Scott and Ryan Freel. Of that group, Hermida has the most upside, but I don’t see the Fish dealing within the division. Willingham would step right into the middle of the Mets’ order, but the Nats likely will ask for too much in return. Teahen is the one that may make the most sense, but the Royals are looking for a centerfielder — which would mean, I presume, Angel Pagan, who is currently igniting the Mets’ offense. Would KC take Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan, along with a prospect along the lines of Nick Evans?

Catcher

Unless you believe Omir Santos is the long-term answer behind the plate, the Mets will need to get a catcher for 2010. If there was a young catcher available for less than a king’s ransom, it would behoove the Mets to make a deal. I don’t see that happening — they’ll take their chances on finding another fill-in or former Expo over the winter (Michael Barrett should be available).

Pitcher

The Mets needed a solid starting pitcher going back to last July, and the best they could come up with was Livan Hernandez. Say all you want about the “brilliance” of plucking Livan off the scrap heap, but it glazes over the “stupidity” of bidding against themselves for Oliver Perez, over-paying for Tim Redding, and counting on John Maine to come back at 100% health. One junkyard pickup doesn’t make up for purchasing three zirconias at the jewelry store. Unfortunately, everyone needs pitching, and few good arms are available, so if the Mets were to trade for anyone of value, it would cost them dearly. A Halladay deal isn’t happening, so the Mets will cross their fingers on the theory that the thirty-six-million-dollar man and young Jonathan Niese can hold up the back end of the rotation — while also hoping that Mike Pelfrey will make more steps forward than backward and Livan will continue to stymie bad-hitting teams.

Shortstop

If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s probably not happening — the Mets appear committed to Alex Cora while pretending Jose Reyes is coming back. I don’t know — maybe the Mets make a move for someone like David Eckstein. If Angel Berroa continues to stink up the joint, it’s back to Argenis Reyes, Wilson Valdez, or Jerry Manuel’s .220-hitting protege Jonathan Malo.

Conclusion

I think the Mets make some kind of deal, for no reason other than to make it appear as though they’re trying — and also to help push away the tiresome Omar Minaya – Tony Bernanzard – Adam Rubin debacle. I’ll go on a limb and say the Mets’ best trade partner is the Royals; perhaps they make a deal with them for Teahen and Freel or Willie Bloomquist. Or, they can hold onto the message that “good players can still be had after the deadline” and pick up some garbage like David Dellucci or Chris Shelton.

READ MORE +