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Stache to return to Shea

The Daily News and New York Post are reporting that the Mets are on the precipice of signing Jose Valentin two a one-year deal for 2007 that would include a vesting option based on plate appearances for 2008. Final terms have not been announced and the deal is pending a physical, but it looks like his 2007 deal with be worth in the neighborhood of $3 million with some kind of guaranteed buyout of 2008.

Valentin's glovework at second this season was exemplary, and he hit well enough -- from the left side, at least -- to warrant a short term contract at these terms. This deal shouldn't necessarily preclude the Mets from acquiring a right-handed bat to complement Valentin, who basically needs to give up batting righty and probably should have years ago. This is what he has done over the past three seasons.

     AB    AVG    OBP    SLG
vs LHP   104   .212   .300   .327
vs RHP   877   .233   .311   .463
Given Valentin's well-documented struggles against southpaws, I think it would be in the Mets' best interest, performance-wise, to find a capable platoon partner for him. In addition to his pronounced platoon swing, Valentin seemed to run out of gas at the end of last season. It's possible that he just ran into a bad slump, but it's equally likely that a 36-year-old beaten up ballplayer was worn down by the long season. A solid right-handed bat would allow Willie Randolph to give Valentin the occasional off-day and use it to best effect by doing so against left-handed starters. This would be the optimal use of a backup second-baseman.

Here are a few guys who could be used to that end.

2004-2006 vs LHP

Player          Age   AB    AVG    OBP    SLG
Mark DeRosa     31   291   .306   .367   .509
Rich Aurilia    35   147   .347   .406   .680
Mark Loretta    35   462   .312   .401   .431
Nick Green      28   218   .289   .357   .394
Chris Woodward  30   248   .246   .323   .347
Chris Woodward is pretty clearly the worst option as backup infielder. I kind of assume that Mark Loretta will get a starting job somewhere, even though he really didn't hit (or field) well enough in 2006 to necessarily deserve it. Aurilia or DeRosa would each be a fine choice if either could be convinced to play part-time. Both players are versatile enough that they could not only spell Valentin against lefties but could also fill in occasionally for David Wright, albeit against righties. Such an arragement would give them a few more at-bats than they might otherwise if they were only a platoon partner for Valentin.