With the Mets' playoff hopes all but erased, it's time to take an early look at 2010. The front office needs to rebound from its awful 2008-2009 offseason. We don't need to continue the recent streak of poor contracts, starting with Luis Castillo and continuing with Oliver Perez. To this end, here are a few players who will be free agents or may be available for trade this upcoming offseason who should be avoided for various reasons. Their 2009 stats and 2010 age are listed:
Bobby Abreu, age 36
.388 wOBA, 3.1 WAR
The Angels' signing of Abreu for $5 million plus incentives this past offseason is already a steal, and he will likely end being worth 3 or 4 times that amount. He will probably command a multi-year deal from some team, but let's hope it isn't the Mets. His plate discipline is still outstanding, but his ISO is a career low. Decreasing power + Citi Field = No thank you. Abreu's defense remains a major source of concern. The advanced metrics say he has been average or slightly above average this season, thanks mostly to his throwing arm. Before this season, he measured up as one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball. While he probably wasn't as bad in 2008 as UZR said (-25.6 runs, wow), Abreu is likely a -10 defender at a non-premium position going forward.
Jason Bay, age 31
.382 wOBA, 1.2 WAR
Bay was the American League MVP of the first 2 months, posting an OPS of 1.042 and making Red Sox fans forget about Manny Ramirez. He has cooled off dramatically since then and his historically atrocious defense has continued to be terrible. Talks of a contract extension have stalled, and it seems likely that Bay will test the free agent market. With teams more aware of the importance of defense and also weary of signing older players to long-term deals, Bay might not receive the kind of money he thinks he's worth. Theo Epstein is in a tough position in that Bay is a supremely popular player in Boston right now but doesn't project to be worth much more than a 3-year, $45 million offer. However, Epstein has shown a willingness to let go of favorites (see Nomar, Pedro, Manny) so smart money says Bay doesn't return to Boston. Let's hope he doesn't return to the Mets organization, unless it's for a fair deal.
Orlando Hudson, age 32
.351 wOBA, 2.3 WAR
Like Bay, Hudson got off to an outstanding start, hitting .337/.411/.537 in April. This embiggened the Hudson proponents, and despite his not-so-great .278/.344/.399 line since then, the calls to sign him have continued. Sam already debunked the popular "Hudson >>>> Castillo" myth. Unfortunately, I don't think it is enough to stop the inevitable "SIGN O-DOG" discussions come November. It's not worth the effort and if Castillo can put together 2-win seasons from 2010-2011 it should be the least of our worries. There was some brief talk last offseason of Hudson being moved to the outfield. Considering he has never played even 1 inning out there, and his bat isn't exceptional for a corner outfield spot, this isn't a viable option.
Jason Kendall, age 35
.265 wOBA, 0.0 WAR
Next year's catcher situation is murky. Brian Schneider is a free agent and unlikely to be re-signed (although I wouldn't be opposed to it for the right price). The other internal options are either terrible (Omir Santos, Robinson Cancel) or unproven (Josh Thole). Ideally, pairing Thole with a Ramon Castro-type is a passable solution. Kendall does not qualify as a Castro-type. He hasn't posted a wOBA greater than .300 since 2006. After an outstanding defensive season in 2008, during which he threw out 43% of potential basestealers, his defense has suffered in 2009. He's the kind of player who would have value if signed to a minor league deal, but giving him a major league contract would be silly.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, age 29
35 IP, 5.72 FIP, 6.00 tERA
The rumblings have already begun and I hope they do not continue. Matsuzaka recently annoyed the Red Sox organization with some bizarre statements about their forced training regimen. The more likely cause of his injuries is the number of innings he's logged at such a young age and pitching in the World Baseball Classic prior to the season. Whatever the cause, he has not lived up to the hype, posting a tRA+ of 109 and 108 in 2007 and 2008, respectively. He is owed $28 million from 2010-2012, which is actually somewhat reasonable. The catch is the Mets would have to give up players to trade for him and I don't want Omar Minaya negotiating with Epstein. One walk machine (Ollie) is enough - we don't need to trade for another.
Xavier Nady, age 31
.321 wOBA, -0.1 WAR
Along with Hudson and Mark DeRosa, Nady completes the Holy Trinity of overrated players coveted by Mets fans. I think I've pinned down the reasons why:
- Wears a double ear-flap helmet, automatically doubling his grission factor.
- Smiles a lot.
- Universally praised for his positive clubhouse presence by the mainstream media. (Note: This isn't a bad thing. If given the choice between 2 identical players, and 1 is a good clubhouse guy and the other a bad one, I'll take the good guy. However, it's an overrated trait and not reason enough to seek a player's services.)
- Is white.
- From New Jersey.
- The Cubs struggles this season were attributed to missing DeRosa's presence.
- Former Met, still associated with the 2006 season.
- Was traded for Oliver Perez, no one's favorite Met.
- Has a fun name.
2008 was a career year for Nady, both at the plate and in the field. Was it a breakout year and a preview of things to come or a fluke? It's probably somewhere in between and coming off of Tommy John surgery I'm not optimistic enough to think he will be more than a 2 win player at best. Mediocrity from the corner outfield spots has been the Mets trademark for years and adding Nady wouldn't change that.