Wilson Valdez has a career 36 OPS+.
Look, we're all in favor of Omar Minaya acquiring a shortstop of sorts to tide us over until we get Jose Reyes back. But Wilson Valdez isn't a prototypical gold no hit/good glove middile infielder, he's a negative hit/good glove middle infielder. James descrbed his offense as "exceptionally poor", but I don't think that even begins to put into words how bad he has been. Valdez isn't just a standout, he's cream of the crap.
Neifi Perez, oft-joked about as the worst offensive player of the decade, had a career 64 OPS+. Upon the occassion of Tony Pena Jr. being intentionally walked by Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons, Joe Posnanski said that he would've "fired him on the spot." Tony Pena Jr has a career OPS+ of 47, although to be fair he was in the midst of a season where it ended up being 7. To put this in a Mets fan perspective, do you remember last year when Marlon Anderson kept getting to pinch-hit in key spots even though he was essentially an automatic out? His OPS+ last year was 40, or 6 points higher than Valdez's CAREER MLB numbers.
Beyond the fact that Valdez couldn't hit in the California Penal League, look at the long-range plan of this move. He's already 31 and he's in the midst of a season in which he is hitting .198 in the International League. So let me get to defense, since this is obviously the only reason this move was made. Yes, Ramon Martinez isn't really a shortstop at this point in his career. Fernando Tatis was never really a shortstop at any point in his career. So alright, you pitch me the argument that Valdez is valuable because he'd give the Mets someone who could play a competent shortstop. Well alright. Pray tell me then, why they couldn't find one that was even marginally competent with the bat?
Omar Minaya has always tended to look past marginal youngsters for bench spots, leaving the system ill-prepared for a rash of injuries of this magnitutde. In 2007, the Mets lost Ruben Gotay on waivers to the Braves. Not really a big deal. In fact, he's mostly forgotten now. But Gotay has a respectable .334 wOBA for the Diamondbacks this year in Reno. We didn't just deal him for something we needed, we gave him away for free. We gave him away because at the time we wantead Brady Clark on the bench at the start of the season, the same Brady Clark who appeared in seven whole games for the Mets in 2008.
Alright fine McCown, but Gotay was never really a shortstop! He played some games there, but yeah, fair point, although he's as much a shorstop as Ramon Martinez is at this point. Well, how about when we, ironically, in another panic-induced trade, dealt Anderson Hernandez away for 19 games of Luis Ayala? Hernandez is, by both scouting and numbers, a competent defensive middle infielder. He's in the midst of a career offensive year, although I'm not going to use that to buoy my argument, since it's probably going to last about as long as Girls Club lasted on FOX. However, he does have a career 66 OPS+. He's also 25. Gotay is 26. This is another key point: they both possibly have (or in Anderson's case, are having) a career year or spike in them. The only spike Wilson Valdez has left is his dog, assuming he has one and that it's named Spike.
It's just a matter of sloppy managing. As much care and consideration as Omar gives to the big dollar signings and the big trades in the offseason, watching him fill the back end of his roster is like watching a ten-year-old boy trade for baseball cards. "Oh I've heard of him!...Used to be an Expo...He played in the World Series one year...This guy hit a homer at a game I went to..."
Not many teams would be able to withstand their starting shortstop and his primary backup going down at the same time without having some problems, but when you have a team as thin as the Mets are at the top of the minors, both due to Omar's negligence and the team's penchant for promoting players who shouldn't really be where they are yet, it goes from bullet wound to shotgun blast to the leg. Most teams have people like Gotay or Anderson to turn to in the minors in case of an event like this, and the Mets have nothing. They carry first aid kits, and the Mets tear off a piece of their pant legs and tie it around and hope it heals.
For every Fernando Tatis or Jose Valentin, we get three Jose Offermans. Before Carlos Delgado started hitting again, our backup options were something like Marlon Anderson, Andy Phillips, and luring Lee Stevens out of retirment if that didn't work out. When the Mets were relying on Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez, and Pedro Martinez last year, injuries were an excuse for the club not playing up to expectations. I would argue that the Mets are a team that is uniquely in a position where good health is a neccesity for their chances, not only because so much of their talent is concentrated in their stars, but also because there is absolutely nothing behind them.
So we have our new pants leg strap. But for one thing, he's not really any better than Ramon Martinez, even if he can field better than him, since his batting is probably somewhat similar to when Mr. Burns showed Ozzie Smith how to bunt in The Simpsons. If all he's going to be is a defensive replacement for Martinez...well, why are we not better off just playing Tatis there and seeing if he can reel in 80% of the plays the average shortstop makes? For another, we gave up actual cash for him, money that I'm sure would probably be better used taking X amount of children to the ballgame one day to watch Ramon Martinez. Thirdly, where is the way out of this? We're wandering around from strap to strap here and have been for some time. Hell, I'd almost rather deal one of our 15-20 prospects for someone like Ronny Cedeno or Maicer Izturis than watch us run out Valdez. At least then theres a chance you have an actual solution.
So we've established that Valdez can't hit, hates children, and is the root of all evil. No, I'm sure Wilson Valdez is a great guy. Might wanna try out those "ster-oids" or whatever they call them, but his acquisition is the problem, not him. The very fact that there was a reason to ever trade for Valdez, like Ayala and Trot Nixon before him, is an indictment against the Mets organizational philosophies. Branch Rickey is famously quoted as saying that luck is the residue of design. While that quote doesn't quite encapsulate everything behind how the Mets have managed to blow division leads in September two years in a row, it sure is evident that they aren't doing everything in their resources to put together a solid amount of MLB-ready replacement players for Buffalo in case of disaster.
On the plus side, while the Mets are stumbling around with their pants leg strap, gritting their teeth all angrily, they sure do look like a badass. It shows pluck and determination to keep going on, and this should increase team grission levels. Grission and "edge" don't win you any actual games in the standings though; that takes talent. Something that Wilson Valdez doesn't have enough of to be in the majors.