I can’t believe we haven’t discussed this before. We all know that the Mets post seasons have only come when we’ve had an All-Star behind the plate (Jerry Grote in ’69 and ’73, Gary Carter in ’86 and ’88, Mike Piazza in ’99 and ’00, and Paul LoDuca in 2006). Yet, somehow our discussions about getting back to the post-season haven’t included bringing in an All-Star catcher.
We all know theÂ free agentÂ catcher market is pretty weak with these guysas our options. Sure some ofÂ them are serviceable, but aside from Victor Martinez who will have his option picked up by the Red Sox, none of them can compare to The Kid, Mike or Paulie.
The 2010 class of free agent catchers are not going to deliver us to the promise land. Instead, let’s look at the trade market. This is the list of the 2011 free agent catchers:
John Buck (30)
Raul Chavez (38)
Gerald Laird (31)
Joe Mauer (28)
A.J. Pierzynski (34)
David Ross (34)
Any name pop out at you? No? Do you know who these career highlights belong to?
Joe Maueris The Missing Piece To The Mets Playoff Puzzle and the answer to our prayers. In fact Dave Cameron points outthat Mauer may be on his way to the best season ever for a catcher. He’s currently hitting .371/.445/.605 in 562 plate appearances. He also combines the rare combination of power, energy and defense and is just entering his prime.
The Twins are going to try to sign Mauer to a 7 year/$120 million extension, but there’s a good chance they won’t be able to it without a serious home town discount. Also, the Twins have a young catcher by the name of Jose Morales who’s been doing a nice job of backing up Mauer. On the other hand, the Twins are opening up Target Field in 2010 and trading away the face of the franchise probably isn’t the best way to sell tickets.
Similar to the Santana trade, only the teams that can afford to extend Mauer will be in the mix given that he can block tradesto 3 teams each year and will be looking for a big time contract extension. You can expect the Red Sox and Yankees to open up their pocket books for Mauer’s services but there’s no reason why the Mets shouldn’t be involved in those discussions.
Being a pessimist Mets fan, you probably have already come up with a thousand excuses of why this is a bad idea. Let me attempt to persuade you otherwise.
- What about Josh Thole?Josh has done nicely in his September call-up, but let’s not kid ourselves. Thole is no Joe Mauer. If he ever develops to anything close to Mauer, then we’re dealing from a position of strength and can move one to first base or pursue a trade.
- The Mets don’t have the prospects! How do you know? Let’s wait to see what other teams are offering before we denigrate our farm. Despite what you may have heard, the Mets do have some pretty decent players in their farm system.
- The Mets can’t afford it!Again, how do you know? Before you startÂ telling meÂ the Mets are going to cut payroll, I say I’ll believe it when I see it. The Mets can keep costs down by going with inexpensive options at other positions.
Like Mark Teixeira last off-season, Joe Mauer is a difference maker. A 3-4-5 of Mauer, Wright and Beltran would be quite impressive. Plus, the Mets would have a young nucleus of elite position players at premium positions (catcher, shortstop and center field).
I won’t begin to speculate on whether the Mets have the right prospects, etc. because: a) What else are we gonna do during the off-season? and b) Without knowing what other teams would offer, it’s a useless exercise.
What do you think? Is Joe Mauer the missing piece to the Mets post-season puzzle? Will 2010 be the year of the Mets?