There are two types of people in the world: People who aren’t Mike Francesa, and people who are. Only one tyrannically shouts in a manner that would be nicely complimented by a giggling Salacious Crumbs as co-host. (Not a shot at the WFAN host’s weight, but rather his general demeanor. There is no doubt in my mind Mike Francesa would joyously feed callers to a pet Rancor if he had one.) And that’s all you need to know about that. The Mets don’t have any money to spend because of various bad contracts, and the team’s most realistic trade chip is Jose Reyes, whose value is probably as low as it has ever been. No amount of radio volume is going to change any of that. Sandy Alderson is handcuffed, as Omar Minaya’s mess is going to take time to clean up. This offseason, any improvements to the team are going to be marginal. 2011 is a bridge year. Come on — it’ll be fun. I promise.
That said, let’s review the Mets marginal acquisitions from winter meeting:
– Signed catcher Ronny Paulino to a one year, $1.3 million dollar deal
– Signed relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco to a two year, $2.5 million dollar deal
– Signed catcher Dusty Ryan to a minor league contract
– Drafted second baseman Brad Emaus in the Rule 5 draft
– Drafted relief pitcher Pedro Beato in the Rule 5 draft
– Signed relief pitcher Boof Bonser to a minor league contract
– Resigned infielder Russ Adams to a minor league contract
– Elvin Ramirez was drafted by the Nationals in the Rule 5 draft
Two winters ago, Omar Minaya determined that infielder Daniel Murphy was going to be his team’s starting left fielder in 2009. This was slightly based on Murphy hitting .313/.397/.473 in 49 games down the stretch of 2008, and slightly based on misread runic divination. Things did not go smoothly. The Mets were forced to use a forty year old Gary Sheffield and various other scrapheap left fielders to fill the void when Murphy was moved to first base.
Fastforward to this winter: Josh Thole owns a .286/.357/.373 line as a major league hitter … in 286 plate appearances. That’s not even a half season. This is not to say Thole is going to be Daniel Murphy. But it is good to have a Plan B, because he might be Daniel Murphy. Ronny Paulino can capably fill in as a backup, a platoon partner — he destroys lefties — or the starter, depending on how Thole’s 2011 goes. Paulino has been worth more than one win each of the past two seasons as a part time catcher in Florida. One win is worth about $4 million dollars on the open market, so at $1.3 million, Paulino adds a win a discounted cost.
2. D.J. Carrasco – Carrasco leads all relievers in innings pitched over the past two seasons, 171.2 innings, and has averaged 5 outs per appearance over that time span. Carrasco also has the fifth lowest home run allowed rate over the past three seasons. Basically, he keeps the ball in the ballpark and eats up innings. He’s been worth two and a half wins over the past three seasons, pitching exclusively in low leverage situations. If he can handle bigger spots for multiple innings, Carrasco could be a steal. Even if he can’t, at $1.25 million per season, Carrasco only needs to be worth 0.8 wins over his Mets career to earn his keep. Reliable, undervalued middle reliever.
3. Dusty Ryan – Before signing Paulino and Ryan, could you name the catcher that was third on the Mets depth chart? I think I finally decided that it was Advanced-A’s Kai Gronauer. Ryan owns both a .720 minor league OPS and the sort of name given to fictional baseball characters. We’ll see him sometime this season, because every team uses their third string catcher at some point.
4. Brad Emaus – The Mets’ first pick in the Rule 5 draft is slow, doesn’t defend well, and draws walks: Moneyball, baby. Emaus drew 81 walks and struck out 69 times between the Blue Jays’ Triple-A and Double-A affiliates last season, and put up a .290/.397/.476 batting line. BUT a large chunk of that was done with the Las Vegas 51s in the Pacific Coast League, playing in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league. Using the magical Minor League Equivalency Calculator, Emaus’ 2010 statistics translate to a far less impressive (and possibly too harsh) .227/.316/.360 — that, Katy Perry, is what you get for waking up in Vegas. He can play second base and presumably has a pulse, so he’s worth giving a shot, but there is a reason Emaus was a Rule 5 pickup.
5. Pedro Beato – The Mets second pick in the Rule 5 draft. Six foot six and two hundred thirty pounds, Beato saved 16 games for Baltimore’s Double-A affiliate, his first year working out of the bullpen. He showed good control, walking 19 and striking out 50 in 59.2 innings. A former top prospect and graduate of Xaverian High School, he should compete for a bullpen role in spring training. If he makes it, cool. If he doesn’t, he gets shipped back to Baltimore. Why not, right?
6. Boof Bonser – Bonser has an awesome name, gives up a lot of home runs, and is now a two seasons removed from shoulder surgery. A reliever last season and a starter before surgery, Bonser is a candidate to be helped out by the deep fences of Citi Field. But probably not. He gave up a lot of home runs in Minnesota and all over the minor leagues. Fun fact: The Twins once ordered Bosner to lose weight when they felt his large stomach was making him physically unable to finish his delivery. So there’s that. Maybe he should ask Ronny Paulino about losing weight via supplements … oh, right.
7. Russ Adams – Hey there. Did you ever play second base at any point in your life? Yes? Little League? That’s cool. What are you doing this spring break? How about a free trip to Florida? Adams had a .805 OPS playing second, short, third, left and right for Buffalo last season, but a .685 OPS in the major leagues over five seasons with Toronto. He’s slowly added power to his game, hitting 16 home runs last season after hitting 15 in 2008 and 11 in 2007. Like everyone, part of the second base group.
And the lone subtraction:
8. Elvin Ramirez – The Mets lost the righty reliever Elvin Ramirez in the Rule 5 draft to the Washington Nationals. Ramirez — who worked in Double-A last season — throws hard and doesn’t allow home runs, but has control issues. He probably has a chance to hide out in the Nationals bullpen all season, because the Nationals bullpen is always awful. Apparently they used Owen freaking Wilson at some point last season, though in their defense, the forty-two year old Wilson is a particularly crafty lefty.
Paulino and Carrasco will contribute, Bosner is a medium reward/low risk candidate, Ryan and Adams add depth, and Emaus and Beato are why-the-heck-not pickups. These are little moves, and they’re boring moves — Paulino jerseys won’t be flying off the shelf — but they’re all good moves.
Paulino and Carrasco are the only players guaranteed roster spots for 2011, but those two alone probably bump the Mets up two wins for the cost of $2.55 million in 2011. Two wins are generally worth $4 million a piece on the free agent market, meaning the Mets got $8 million dollars worth of value for $2.55 million. Backup catchers and long relievers are … the new Moneyball? Whatever. The Mets made marginal improvements at a lower cost than John Maine’s 2010 salary, and only lost a Double-A reliever along the way. Alderson used these winter meetings to improve the 2011 Mets without damaging the 2012 Mets and 2013 Mets. This is good. This is progress. This is how you build a baseball team. No more candy — you’ll eat your vegetables and you’ll like it, Mets fans.