Friday, January 22, 2010
The Mets Acquire Gary Sheffield Again
When I first read that the Mets were acquiring Gary Matthews Jr. from the Angels, my immediate reaction was, "What in the wha?"
That doesn't really say much - that's usually my response to anything remotely coming out of nowhere. (It was my reaction to the Francoeur trade. And 75 percent of "Lost".) My second immediate reaction was, "Beltran's out till July. Must be."
I've mentioned before that I am skeptical of Dr.Met's current estimation that the Mole will be out 8-12 weeks. "8-12 weeks" in 2009 meant "out for the season". If Beltran was only going to be missing action for a month why would Omar Minaya find it necessary to trade for a Gary Matthews Jr., with Angel Pagan already on the roster? But the more I thought about it the more I realized Omar Minaya is just as much of a joyless, nervous shell of a man as I am - Angel Pagan is far from a safe bet from surviving the entire season. Pagan's 88 games played in 2009 was a personal record - he's been hurt every year. (Do you want to uh, laugh? A New York Daily News headline from July 14, 2008 blared, "Mets and Angel Pagan have opposing views on shoulder surgery.")
So it makes sense for the Mets to get a backup for the backup - not to mention Matthews can also spell Bay and Francoeur when they need some days off. But why Matthews? This to me parallels the Gary Sheffield signing a little bit too much: Gary, like Gary, is an outfielder acquired on name recognition with a diminished skill set. The guy hasn't been good since 2006 when he took steroids*. But yeah, why Matthews? Jeremy Reed was allowed to leave and his projected stats are similar to Gary II's. Cory Sullivan was allowed to walk away too and some of his numbers are better than GMJ's.
Here's a disturbing thought: What if nobody wants to sign with the Mets? Unless nobody else wants you (Bay cough cough) maybe you're stupid if you want to play for a possibly cursed, management flawed ballclub. I wouldn't be shocked if Reed, Sullivan and other free agent outfielders told Minaya to take a hike. Maybe he HAD to make a trade. So for this transaction - one that isn't significant enough to get apoplectic over anyway - I will give Omar the benefit of the doubt.
Unless Brian Stokes becomes the next Heath Bell. Oh the hell he will pay...
& He totally did
My first reaction to this news was to have a little bit of a freak out. Gary Matthews, Jr. is owed a TON OF MONEY over the next couple of years. $23.5 million to be exact. And he is not very good. He is bad, in fact. However, the reaction of Mets fans around the blogosphere hasn't been fair.
We have to look at the context of the acquisition -- namely, why we are acquiring him, what we are asking him to do, and what we have to pay to get him.
Firstly, we only gave up Brian Stokes. Now, I like Brian Stokes. I thought that Stokes was underrated in his time here. But he is what he is - a 7th inning guy, at best. There are a lot more relievers available on the open market right now than there are centerfielders.
Secondly, we are only paying Matthews $2 million over the next two seasons. He's making barely more than the minimum. We are paying him less than Pagan, less than Francoeur, less than Cora. It's a tiny financial investment, and a small investment in talent to acquire him.
So now the most important question. Why is he here?
If Gary Matthews Jr. is going to be given a token opportunity to compete in Spring Training to start, and then be relegated to fourth outfielder, AWESOME. If Gary Matthews Jr. is going to be given a bona fide opportunity to start, SUCKY.
Angel Pagan is a better player and deserves to fill in for Beltran while Beltran is rehabbing. However, beyond Pagan there is nobody who can play centerfield on our roster aside from Fernando Martinez, who should be in AAA.
CHONE sees Matthews hitting .246/.321/.371 this year. Bad, yes, but this is a guy who has a career -2.4 UZR/150 in centerfield for his career. He'll make for a fine fourth outfielder in the time being. He will be there if Pagan - who has been perpetually injured - goes down again.
You can argue that we might have been able to go cheaper by signing Jeremy Reed or some other no-stick outfielder, but what is the difference between Reed at 500K or Matthews at $1M? A quarter of a win? Less?
Let's take a deep breath guys.