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10 free agents who should be on the Mets’ radar

Posted by jmkraft on January 7, 2009

With the signings of Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley by the Rays and Cubs respectively, experts are predicting that the floodgates will now open, and teams will actually start to sign players, as opposed to sitting on rumors, which is what they’ve pretty much done for the past few months. 

Before I list the ten players who I think the Mets should consider, here’s something worth considering for Omar & Co. The Mets are one of baseball’s richest franchises, and, being in that enviable position in this year’s harsh economic climate, should really cash in this year. With all due respect for baseball’s “suffering” owners, this is the time that the Mets should act like the Yankees and sign the best talent that they can. Economics dictates to buy low, and that is precisely what the Mets have already done in the case of K-Rod, and what they should be doing from here on out. 

Anyway, here goes:

1) Manny Ramirez. I put Manny first on the list because it’s impossible to stretch how impactful he can be on a team. We all saw what happened when Manny joined the Dodgers last summer, and we all know that he’s a surefire Hall of Famer. But he’s also Manny, the circus freak. Unleashing him in New York could be a huge mistake. But he’s Manny Ramirez. The guy makes a team (some might say he breaks it). Seriously try and make the argument that a platoon of Dan Murphy and Fernando Tatis is an improvement over Manny. Even defensively, try and tell me that two converted infielders can cover left field better than Manny, no matter how dicey his defense may be. I understand why the Wilpons are nervous about dealing with such a high risk personality, but if your ultimate goal is to win baseball games, there is no reason why Manny Ramirez, whose price will ultimately prove too high for almost everyone, should not be a New York Met. If the Wilpons want to contend in the NL East, then they should tell Omar not to sign Manny. If they want to win a World Series this year, they must sign him.

2) Derek Lowe. It’s all but clear that the Mets will sign either Lowe or Oliver Perez. The question is, who is the better choice. Lowe represents the dependable veteran. He won’t blow anyone away, but you know what you’re getting. 

3) Oliver Perez. With Perez, unlike Lowe, there is electric potential. When Perez is on, he is a shutdown southpaw who blows batters away. But when he is off, he can’t make it past the fourth inning. There is no question that Perez needs to get his walks down, something that has always been the case with him. But he can flat out dominate when he brings his “A” game. Plus, he is a whole lot younger than Lowe, which should mean something in a long-term deal for a pitcher. 

4) Orlando Hudson. If hell freezes over and Luis Castillo is somehow unloaded from second base, I would love to make a play for Hudson. He’d be a terrific fit in the number two slot for the Mets; he’s fast, he hits for average, and he has some power. Plus, Hudson is an excellent defender, which is always an improvement over Argenis Reyes. Hudson is well known as a clubhouse leader, something the Mets have been lacking for some time now.

5) Bobby Abreu. Why does everyone love to hate on Bobby Abreu? I’ve never met a Phillies fan who actually liked him. That should be the first reason why the Mets sign him. But seriously, Abreu is a really good player. All he did last year was hit .296 with 20 HR, 100 RBIs, and 22 SB. No big deal. Here’s what Jerry Crasnick has to say about him:

  • This year Abreu joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson as the only players to amass 200 homers and 300 stolen bases while maintaining a .400 on-base percentage.
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  • Abreu is one of five players with 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in each of the past two seasons. The others: Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, David Wright and Alex Rodriguez.
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  • His run of six straight 100-RBI seasons is third-longest among active players behind Rodriguez and Pujols.
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  • In 2008, Abreu amassed 35 or more doubles for the 10th straight year, tying the record held by Colorado’s Todd Helton. Hall of Famer Tris Speaker is next on the list with nine straight 35-double seasons, and he did his best work during the Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge administrations.
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  • Abreu has the longest-running streak of 20-steal seasons in the game, with 10. Jimmy Rollins, Ichiro Suzuki and Juan Pierre are next in line with eight.
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  • Abreu is currently working on a streak of 11 straight seasons with 150 or more games played. The only big leaguers with longer streaks are Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Pete Rose and Cal Ripken Jr.

6) Alex Cora. First of all, he gives the Mets an improvement over Damian Easley because he’s actually been to the playoffs. Cora has starting experience, so he could certainly give David Wright or Jose Reyes a day off once in a while, which might pay dividends come September. He’d be a nice addition to the bench.

7) Tim Redding. The big news on Redding this morning is that the Mets have reportedly made an offer to the journeyman. Redding is not spectacular by any means. He did win ten games for the Nationals last year, which says something, but he was also dreadful in the second half of the season, which was probably to be expected after Jim Bowden failed to sell high on him, instead non-tendering him this fall. The reason for signing Redding has more to do with Jon Niese than with Redding himself. The biggest mistake the Mets could make this offseason is in failing to sign a fifth starter to compete with Niese for the fifth spot in Spring Training. Without opening that spot up to competition, the Mets are making a huge gamble that Niese is Major League-ready, which probably is not the case. Behind Niese, there is little pitching depth in the farm system, meaning that the Mets would have to turn to an AAAA type pitcher to take the mound every fifth day. While there have been some nice surprises here and there like Brandon Knight and Brian Stokes, I’d feel much more comfortable with a more established starter holding down the spot until Niese is ready, or another pitching prospect emerges, which is also entirely possible.

8 ) Randy Wolf. He’d be the backup plan to Redding.

9) Chad Cordero. If the season started today, the Mets would have a pretty solid bullpen. Led by Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, the pen is also anchored by Sean Green and Pedro Feliciano, who will finally be used in his correct role as LOOGY. But why stop there? The most significant problem in the bullpen last year was the lack of depth. Should one or more of the aforementioned pitchers hit the DL, I would hate to count on Bobby Parnell or Eddie Kunz in a big-time situation. Cordero is a former lights-out closer coming off of a bad injury, so who knows how he’ll rebound. But the potential should be enough to convince Omar Minaya, his former GM in Montreal, to sign him. Should Cordero return to form, imagine a 7-8-9 combination of Cordero, Putz, and K-Rod. Holy @*#$!

10) Adam Dunn. Ahh, the other guy everyone loves to hate. But seriously, someone tell me how a guy who hit 40 HR with 100 RBI last season, who also posted an OBP of .386, is still on the market. “Yeah, but he strikes out too much,” everyone loves to whine. The truth is that Dunn is one of the most misunderstood players in baseball. Putting a player like Dunn in the middle of the Mets’ lineup automatically ensures that David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado see better pitches. Sure, his defense is sub par. But as with Manny or Abreu, tell me how that would be a downgrade from the Murphy/Tatis platoon.

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