Why I’m Writing This
Even though I am somewhat frustrated with this offseason so far, I understand where this team is coming from. In the likelihood that there is about to be a bidding war on Jason Bay because the Red Sox (and other teams) might get back involved, and I have no faith in this team to rope Matt Holliday, the Mets have to start thinking smaller-scale going into 2010 and how to fix the team with smaller moves. I was watching the MLB Network this morning, and even though Victor Rojas, Harold Reynolds, and Dan Plesac aren’t the ones that should be making decisions for the Mets, Rojas brought up a good point about hamstringing the payroll going forward. If we signed Bay to a five-year deal, or gave Holliday six or seven years, it is highly likely we will be sitting here in 2014 trying to find a way to get him off our books. With Santana on the books until doomsday and likely extensions for David Wright and Jose Reyes looming in the future, along with a big decision with Carlos Beltran in two offseasons, this team needs some sort of payroll flexibility in the future by way of arbitration-eligible players. I could only hope we don’t sit here in 2011 with the Mets trying to lowball Jose Reyes and David Wright on extensions because we have Jason Bay taking money that should be given to our cornerstone players. Of course, this is money that could possibly be saved by playing Fernando Martinez or Ike Davis, who would be making $400,000, but who knows. All I know is, it is not necessary to make these drastic financial commitments with so many holes needed to be filled. Therefore, perhaps the Mets should just look at filling holes through depth that hasn’t really been there the past few years.
So, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of signing Mark DeRosa, and I’m starting to think it’s worth it. Even though he’s 35 years old going into this year, the $7 million a year he likely would cost would provide this team with so many options. I’m just thinking of all the roles he could fill on this team, and this would negate any sort of depth and versatility issue this team has had in the past 3 years. The core has always been there, but there has been so much constant shuffling when something goes wrong on this team injury-wise that it almost makes too much sense to have a guy like DeRosa that could play anywhere. I still have nightmares of FIRST BASEMAN Jeremy Reed throwing that ball home wide-left in Los Angeles. Terrible stuff – or better yet, how about Fernando Tatis grabbing his second baseman’s glove, or Daniel Murphy getting bonked off the head repeatedly in left field (Florida was my favorite one, personally).
Now, let’s think of all the roles that DeRosa would provide on this team. Most importantly, he could serve the right-handed side of the platoon at first base with Daniel Murphy. He could provide average defense at second a handful of times a year when Luis Castillo needs a day off (and when the immortal Alex Cora isn’t available), he could fill in at third base when David Wright needs a day off, and worst comes to worst, he could play right field if Jeff Francoeur struggles and/or Angel Pagan is not available to play there.
Better yet, the Mets could have the flexibility to sign a middle-of-the-road left fielder with the addition of DeRosa, with intentions of possibly giving him at-bats in left if need be. We’re talking on the scale of a player coming in on a 1-or-2 year deal, that wouldn’t necessarily be blocking anybody (ahem, Fernando Martinez, ahem) that may start making an impact on this team in upcoming seasons. Four examples of part-time players in left field are Rick Ankiel, Randy Winn, Marlon Byrd (for the right price), and perhaps even Xavier Nady if healthy. They could provide outfield options, with DeRosa and Pagan getting some at-bats in left field as well.
The good thing about DeRosa is that you aren’t allocating your resources to only one position. For a team that had so many injuries last year, it’s good to have that fallback option at the majority of the positions around the diamond. Even if you sign him to a 2-year deal, there is likely a hole he would have to plug in 2011 as well. It provides you with so much flexibility to fix the roster in the next offseason, and doesn’t limit you to having bench players that only play one or two positions.
DeRosa is going to be 35 years old, but he’s only been a full-time player for half the decade. He had his wrist injury but came back and had good power numbers in July, a good August and a tough September. He is a local boy that wants to play in New York (even though it’s more for the Yankees, who likely won’t pony up the money for him) and he has great clubhouse presence. Chicago Cubs fans wanted to jump off the bridge last year (SHOCKER!) when Jim Hendry shipped him to Cleveland, as if Hendry traded Aramis Ramirez for peanuts. For a role player, there was loud uproar about DeRosa leaving. Word is still coming through that DeRosa was a big part of that 2008 season for the Cubs from several members of the organization.
So, if you have $35 million to spend, that means you are allocating about half of that to DeRosa, Winn/Ankiel/Byrd/Nady, and the likely arrival of Bengie Molina (on his white unicorn, of course) in 2010. Then, you have half of that money to spend on pitching, whether it be from free agent additions like Ben Sheets, Joel Pineiro or Jon Garland (or even if you want to get into the Chapman sweepstakes), or even making a trade for Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo. I like trading for one of those two Reds pitchers, because either one of those pitchers have options in 2011. This doesn’t restrict you from going into the 2010 offseason with freed-up money to spend on one of those big-time pitchers.
Hypothetically speaking, it would look like: DeRosa at $7 million for 2 years, one of those LF options at $3 million (plus incentives), Molina at $5 million for 1 year (w/ option), then Sheets at $8 million (plus incentives), and one of those Reds pitchers coming over at $8 million (with cash coming here, and Reese Havens and 2 prospects heading to Cincinnati). That is $31 million dollars that is served with 2 new pitchers, a new catcher, and possibilities on how to shuffle the lineup at first base and in left field.
In thinking about the future for this team and the probability that Bay or Holliday won’t be batting in the cleanup hole in this team in the future, this team has to fill multiple holes with limited resources. I am beginning to think that perhaps having a guy that provides unlimited depth like DeRosa, along with other comparably smaller-scale players, isn’t the worst idea for a team with so many small roles needed to be plugged.
Happy Holidays to everyone – thoughts?