To catch up on part one, read this. Basically, the Mets have Reyes-Wright-Sheffield-Cora/Castillo-Beltran going forward, with uncertainty in right field and first base. I played with the idea of trading for Nick Johnson, and think the Mets should if they can avoid trading Niese, Holt, and Parnell. If Parnell would be the centerpiece of such a trade, I would be tempted to do it. Middle relievers are inherently less valuable than starters and Parnell wildness and inability to get swinging strikes are a little troublesome. Still, 20% strikeout rate is fantastic and only Frank can boast a mark better than Parnell's 3.07 tRA. With Putz still not looking like his old self, the Mets can't afford to give up their second best reliever. One remedy would be picking up Joel Hanrahan, if the Nats have given up on him, but I doubt they'd make a trade that circular.
Stranger things Stupider trades have happened.
Per request, Russel Branyan should be another firstbaseman considered. He's been the entire offense for the Mariners, who have slowly dropped out of contention. Zduriencik signed Branyan on a low-risk/high-reward sort of deal and is in a great position to cash in. Branyan, a notorious 3-true-outcome hitter, with a career .236 batting average is hitting .311, thanks to an unsustainably high .386 BABIP. The crash back to Earth you might be expecting, however, may never come. Jeff at Lookout Landing does a good job explaining the observable improvements Branyan's made since playing in Milwaukee's farm system. The conclusion: expect him to regress down to a .260 average, not .230. That adjustment makes his ZiPS rest-of-season projection of a .372 wOBA (.852 OPS) seem pretty reasonable. For all you Aubrey Huff people out there, Russ is your man. He's cheaper, a better hitter, and more athletic, with outfield experience. The total zone data from the minors and the UZR data from the majors on Branyan are both insufficient to make any conclusions, but he has played the OF and probably wouldn't be any worse than Sheffield or Huff out there. The only caution flag on a potential Branyan-deal is Zduriencik. He's a heck of a talent evaluator, and if the Putz deal didn't convince you of that, look at the Brewers draft history. Jack Z's also in a good bargaining position, with no real urgency to sell. If Minaya can find a decent compromise of talent for the rental, Branyan would be a good pickup. In terms of wins, I'd estimate somewhere around +1, assuming the Mets don't use him during a strikeout heavy cold streak.
Another distinct route the Mets could go is for an outfielder. Sheffield has earned his spot, but he's old and rightfield is a huge question mark. Fernando Martinez, if given regular playing time in the coming week, could pull an Omir Santos and play his way into a permanent position. That seems unlikely, however, and I doubt the organization views him as more of a placeholder. There's also Ryan Church to consider, who could be back in a week or two, assuming he recovers quickly. As hard as he's been to watch this year, he's no this bad, and 2.9 % HR/FB suggests he due for a few homers. The possibility of Church's return, though highlights the real problem with the Mets corner-outfield depth the past couple of years. The backups were not great, but neither were the starters. It wouldn't hurt to add a player that provides a better back-up plan than Angel Pagan, but if the Mets are going to deal serious talent, they need to get a significant offensive upgrade.
First, three possible depth additions that have been mentioned include Mark DeRosa and Frank Francisco of the Indians and Eric Hinske of the Pirates. DeRosa's name pops up all the time and with good reason: the Mets seemingly have injuries at every position and DeRosa can seemingly play every position. In the outfield, UZR pegs him as a ridiculous +20 runs. He has experience at every infield position, but is not particularly good at any of them. As a hitter, DeRosa projects to be ~.350 wOBA, which is about as good as one would expect from Ryan Church. He could play first while Delgado is out, and move to play whatever else when Delgado gets back. If Church and Delgado are healthy and producing, DeRosa would provide a nice righty bat to balance the line-up and could rest Castillo and Sheffield. He'd probably even start over Castillo eventually. Mark DeRosa is not a player who could hit so well he'd take over right field, although his defense could make him just as valuable. He could probably help in a variety of ways down the stretch, but I worry Minaya would pay too much for the name.
Ben Francisco is pretty unspectacular, both as a fielder and a hitter. He may have some upside, but not the kind that would make him better than Ryan Church. Having him and Pagan would be redundant. Eric Hinske, on the other hand, is a player who was once better than Pagan, but looks on the decline. He has an unspectacular .730 OPS, but actually has gotten lucky, having hit all of 4 line drives all season.
Matt Holliday would be the one player who keeps Ryan Church on the bench. His struggles with the A's have been blown out of proportion by the I-told-you-so crowd and he's been picking up the pace in recent weeks. His ZiPS rest-of-season projection calls for a .371 wOBA (.839 OPS), which is good, but not the Matt Holliday of old. Still, assuming he just puts up a ~.850 OPS in the next 400 PA, he'd be a 1.5 win improvement over Church and probably a 2 win improvement over Church+cool guys who should be in the minors. The upside on that projection is huge, obviously, if he keeps up his recent pace. The price on Holliday, however, would be huge, especially compared to Nick Johnson, who I projected to have a similar contribution. I know many of you hate the idea of Minaya trading with Beane, but I think the Harden trade last year, proved he was human. Beane's good but overrated, and I think that chapter in Moneyball about him talking to Omar was full of exaggeration. Yes, it would take a lot, but the Mets should consider, given how weak the division looks this year.
Two other "big names" are Brad Hawpe and Jermaine Dye, but no thanks. Both players negate much of their offensive value in the field, which says a lot about Hawpe's defense, considering what a great hitter he is (cough cough, -77 UZR). That may sound hypocritical considering I advocate giving Sheffield a full-time job, but both of those players would command actual prospects in a trade, Sheff was free. I also think Sheffield is better than Dye.
One last name I'll throw out there, who doesn't get talked about enough, is Austin Kearns. He's got great on-base skills, despite the bad average, and could probably post a wOBA in line with his career .344 mark. Coupled with great outfield defense, and Kearns could be more valuable for the Mets than any player listed here, not named Holliday. The Nats view him as a bad contract, and the Minaya could pick him up for literally nothing. Omar could also feign like he didn't want Kearns, but would take him on to help a Nick Johnson trade happen. That's the trade I want to see.
Request any OFers I missed, SP/IF is next.