After watching sub-replacement level Ramon Martinez struggle both hitting and fielding over the past week, it appears the Mets front office decided to find a shortstop who could do at least one of these tasks well. Rather than looking within the organization to replace the DL'd Jose Reyes, Omar Minaya sent the Cleveland Indians some cash in exchange for 31 year-old middle infielder Wilson Valdez. This could be a nice little pickup for the Mets, and there is one reason why: Valdez's defense.
Valdez is the prototypical no-hit, good-glove middle infielder. In 274 major league plate appearances, he sports an exceptionally poor .234 wOBA. He has had some success in the minors however, posting wOBA's of .338 and .382 for the Dodgers AAA team in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In 137 plate appearances for the Indians AAA team this season, his slash line was .198/.263/.207. Bottom line: he stinks with a bat in his hand. With his glove, he has been worth 6.6 runs above average at shortstop in 527 major league innings, per UZR. This equates to a UZR/150 of 18.1, which is spectacular. His career UZR/150 at second base is 33.5, albeit in just 89 innings. TotalZone also likes Valdez's fielding ability, putting him at 6 runs saved above average at shortstop from 2006-2007 in the minor leagues.
Given his past performance, Valdez should be useful in improving team defense while playing a premium position. This is important because Mets defense has been abysmal this season. Their team UZR is 28th in all of baseball at -16.2. No matter how Valdez performs, this is a smart move by Omar and I give him credit. Who knows if he consulted defensive stats in making this acquisition (he probably didn't), and it's possible that Valdez was signed simply because he was once in the Expos organization. Regardless, considering this move and the successful low cost signings of Livan Hernandez and Gary Sheffield, Omar has earned some goodwill from me, at least for a few