While we sit idly by in watching the Johan Santana sweepstakes / soap opera, it would be nice if the Mets could acquire someone who 1.) is readily available; 2.) will come relatively cheap; and 3.) can actually help the 2008 cause.
Yeah, I’m still not sold on the acquisitions of Stephen Register, Brian Stokes, and Angel Pagan. The Schroeder / Church deal was okay, though sending away Lastings Milledge makes little sense now that the idea of losing both Carlos Gomez and F-Mart is a possibility.
Anyway, back to the subject. Here are three players the Mets should make a move on, sooner rather than later:
1. Jon Lieber
With or without Johan Santana, Lieber is welcome as veteran depth. At this moment, Lieber makes great sense as someone to fight for the #5 spot. If by chance the Mets acquire Santana, chances are good they’ll also see the exit of Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and/or Mike Pelfrey. All three of those youngsters are not only potential fifth starters, but also are the insurance behind El Duque and the rest of the starting staff. Losing two of those means the Mets will still need to sign someone cheap as insurance.
2. Octavio Dotel
What’s the holdup? Yes I am in favor of picking up various so-so, cheap arms for a shuttle system. But Dotel is the one guy I’ll make room for on the 25-man roster, specifically because he has the ability to step in and be a lights-out setup man. If that means Jorge Sosa gets the heave-ho, or Matt Wise has to fight for a job in spring training, so be it. I’m not convinced that Duaner Sanchez will come back 100%, nor that there is sufficient depth to partner with Aaron Heilman in the late innings. Sign him. Now.
3. Jason Botts or Nelson Cruz
These unknowns were brought up a few weeks back, but I’ll introduce them again. Both are fighting for the fourth outfielder spot for the Rangers, but unfortunately neither has much of a chance to win it with the plethora of flycatchers brought to Texas this winter. Each of them is a 27-year-old, righthanded-hitting outfielder with impressive power and nothing left to prove at the AAA level. Cruz has been tearing up the Dominican Winter League, and Botts doing similarly in Mexico — he’s hitting .326 with 15 doubles, 9 homers, and 54 RBI in 242 at-bats. His minor league OPS routinely nears 1.000 and his OBP ranges from .375-.400. Cruz has similar numbers below MLB level, though he doesn’t get on base as much. The knock on Botts is he resembles Adam Dunn in the outfield — but he also plays first base. For those paying attention, Carlos Delgado is in the last year of his contract, so having a big bopper waiting in the wings isn’t such a bad idea. Because the Rangers’ outfield is already filled with Josh Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, Milton Bradley, Frank Catalanotto, and David Murphy, either of these sluggers can be had for a song. Acquiring Botts or Cruz for a AA pitcher is completely possible, and exactly the type of low-risk, high-reward, under-the-radar deal that Omar Minaya supposedly loves.
As we’re all aware, there isn’t much room on the Mets’ projected 25-man roster (though anything can happen in the event of an injury, trade, etc.). But these are three inexpensive, low-risk acquisitions that could significantly fortify the club. I’d be happy to see at least one of them become reality, if not all three. If nothing else, it would be a lot more interesting to hear one of these deals done, rather than read about Hank Steinbrenner’s latest stance on whether the Yankers are pursuing Johan Santana.