“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
- Statue of Liberty inscription
Depending on what reports you believe, sometime in the past 6 months the Mets had a package that the Toronto Blue Jays found acceptable for Roy Halladay, but he didn’t want to come here.Â He wanted to go to, and ultimately earlier this month went to “a contender,” which I interpret as locker room code for “I don’t want to be a savior.Â I don’t want to make a decent team better, I want to be on a team that’s good already.Â Roll out the red carpet to the World Series for me, I’m done trying to do it myself.”
Allegedly, the Mets had a reasonable offer on the table for John Lackey, but his agent didn’t call the Mets back and he signed with the Red Sox.Â Lackey just “wants to win.”Â As he enters the second decade of his career, he’d rather by the cherry on a sundae than the ice cream foundation.
The highest offer that Jason Bay has been reported to have received was from the Mets.Â Bay’s options are rapidly closing.Â The Red Sox have already replaced him with Mike Cameron, and his close-to-hometown Mariners would rather shed one undesirable in Carlos Silva and risk a meltdown from another in Milton Bradley than sign him.Â Yet the Mets offer sits there, gathering dust on Bay’s agent’s desk.
The Mets have seemingly become baseball’s pariah.Â They can’t give their money away to any player that is at all coveted for a significant role in the major leagues.Â Screw them.Â If they don’t want to play in a brand new shiny stadium in New York City (or at least, not one in Queens) that has state-of-the-art facilities and cushy locker room recliners, let them go elsewhere.
“Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ‘em
that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says.
Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ‘em to death
and get it over with and just dump ‘em on the boulevard.”
- Lou Reed, ‘Dirty Boulevard’
Perhaps Lou Reed was referring to Astoria Boulevard, or Northern Boulevard, and the only baseball players willing to come to Citi Field for 2010.Â Even the hungry and tired are going elsewhere.Â As noted above, Silva and Bradley were exchanged for each other.Â As I write this, Jason Marquis, an ordinary starting pitcher who playoff teams go out of their way to remove from their rosters, is signing with the Nationals.Â Apparently the shores of the Anacostia River are a preferred destination to Flushing Bay.
Who is left among the undesirable, the untouchable, the huddled masses yearning to break free that will come play for the lowly New York Mets?Â Other than Marquis, the only player who has expressed a desire to play for the Mets is carpetbagging second baseman Orlando Hudson.Â I won’t go so far as to say the Mets don’t need a second baseman, but I will note that they already have one in Luis Castillo.Â Hudson, who manages to win gold gloves despite negative fielding, and who is good enough to be benched for the stretch run by uber-manager Joe Torre, might actually be OK with coming here but he doesn’t fit.Â The Mets need pitchers, starters more so than relievers, a catcher, and a left fielder, and perhaps a first baseman, but not a second baseman.Â So who might come?
According to Deadspin, Dmitri Young was accused by his ex-girlfriend of choking her.Â He plays 1B.Â Jose Canseco and Wil Cordero both walk under a cloud of domestic violence.Â Both are retired so they’re theoretically available, and could stand in LF or at 1B if asked.Â The Braves are allegedly trying to trade Derek Lowe.Â He was arrested for domestic violence in 1996 and underwent 5 months of counseling.Â Noted misogynist and pitcher Brett Myers can start or relieve so he fits.Â Kirby Puckett’s ex-wife claims he tried to strangle her with an electrical cord.Â He’s deceased, but he could still probably play LF as well as some of the currently living, less criminally active available free agent outfielders.Â So these players should be willing to come to Queens.Â Who else?
Stepping away from criminals, some other tired and hungry (if not poor) players might come, but many seem to want to be overwhelmed financially.Â C Bengie Molina, whose career OBP of .307 is sometimes mistaken for his weight might come, but apparently not for 2 years and $10 million.Â Catchers Rod Barajas and Miguel Olivo have similar issues with getting on base, and all 3 are lacking defensively in some way.Â At least Barajas and Olivo haven’t refused to sign for less than 3 years.
Free agent OF Jack Cust has hit at least 25 HR in all 4 of his full major league seasons, boasts a fine career OBP of .374 and to his credit has yet to make outrageous contract demands but it’s hard to predict that his OF defense would be anything short of disastrous considering his career UZR/150 as an OF is minus 20.4, improving slightly to minus 18.9 when considering solely LF.Â Pitcher Ben Sheets is always one movement away from a season-ending injury, but when healthy is an ace.Â He would give the Mets a dynamic one-two punch at the front of their starting rotation either on the field or in the trainer’s room.
Among players already being overwhelmed financially, Houston OF Carlos Lee is a fine all around hitter but he has a full no-trade clause through 2010 and is scheduled to make $55.5 million over the next 3 years, and he hasn’t been a positive defender in LF since 2004, his last season with the Chicago White Sox.Â I imagine the Toronto Blue Jays would be happy to send OF Vernon Wells our way considering he is scheduled to make $98.5 million over the next 5 years.Â Surely Toronto would take a non-prospect in exchange for Wells’ marginal batting and his 3 consecutive years of negative and declining defense.Â Perhaps the new owners of the Chicago Cubs might want to shed some salary.Â LF Alfonso Soriano is scheduled to make $72 million over the next 4 years.Â His offense is in a 4 year decline, but on the bright side last year was the first year he has been a negative defender and his career defense is positive overall.
The Arizona Diamondbacks might be able to help on two fronts.Â C Chris Snyder is now a back up for them, is scheduled to make $10.5 million over the next 2 years, and has back problems.Â They’ve finally reached the last year of OF Eric Byrnes‘ contract, but may not want to pay him $11 million to back up at 3 positions this season, especially since he has only managed to participate in 136 games over the last 2 years and put up an OPS of .653 in those games.Â OF Jose Guillen is being paid $12 million by the Kansas City Royals, perhaps they’d be willing to part with his career .322 OBP and his career minus 5.2 UZR/150 in LF.
If the Mets are looking for the right handed version of Oliver Perez perhaps they could offer the San Diego Padres some salary relief and acquire Chris Young.Â His salary is not high by most standards, but these are the Padres we’re talking about and for them trading away $6.25 million this season and an option $8.5 million next year would be relief.Â Having made only 32 total starts and walking more than 4 batters per 9 innings over the last 2 seasons qualifies him for consideration among the poor, huddled masses.
In my fantasy world the Rays might consider 1B Carlos Pena and his $10.125 million too much to bear, but he’s productive enough for them to keep and instead seek to move LF Pat Burrell and his $9 million.Â Burrell certainly did not take well to the AL and to the DH, having by far the worst season of his 10 year career.Â The last time he was a positive defender was 2004.Â The Reds are rumored to be seeking some salary relief, perhaps they would move Aaron Harang and his remaining 2 years, $25.25 million (which lucky for the Mets becomes 2 years, $26.5 million if he’s traded).Â Since being used on 2 days rest to pitch 4 innings of relief in May 2008, Harang is 10-25, and his ERA and WHIP have been the highest of his career the last 2 years.Â Maybe the Colorado Rockies consider the $35.7 million owed to Todd Helton over the next 2 years too much and would consider parting with the 1B.Â He does still hit over .300 pretty much every year, and he’s a decent fielding 1B, but he hasn’t eclipsed 20 HR since 2005.
Last but not least there are the Detroit Tigers who offer a veritable plethora of high priced, flawed baseball players to choose from.Â OF Magglio Ordonez is owed $18 million for this season, has a club option of a mere $15 million for 2011, plus the added bonus of being owed annual deferred payments of $3 million in each of the next 2 years.Â After averaging 24 HR for 11 seasons, Ordonez managed just 9 last year, and has experienced a 2 year decline in both his offensive and defensive production.Â Miguel Cabrera is still a very productive hitter, but his defense has lapsed forcing his movement from LF to 3B to 1B where so far his defense has been negative, he apparently stayed out all night drinking then came home and hit his wife with a phone before the post season play-in game versus the Twins, and he is owed $126 million over the next 6 years.Â Pitcher Jeremy Bonderman has managed to pitch only 256 innings total over the last 3 years, just 10 last year, and is owed $12.5 million this season.
LF Carlos Guillen is coming off a 2 year decline offensively, has been moved all over the diamond only to defend poorly at every position he plays the last few years, and is owed $26 million over the next 2 years.Â Then there are 2 horrible and horribly overpaid lefthanded pitchers in Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson.Â Willis is owed $12 million and Robertson $10 million for 2010.Â Willis made 35 starts and led the league in earned runs allowed in 2007, then managed to make only 14 starts over the last 2 seasons with an ERA of 8.27 and a WHIP of 2.046!Â Robertson is an ace by comparison, despite having led the league in earned runs allowed in 2008.Â He has made 44 appearances, 25 starts, over the last 2 seasons to an ERA of 6.14 and a WHIP of 1.681, blowing Willis’ WHIP away.
The great players don’t want to come here.Â The good players are trying desperately to avoid coming here.Â We are left to choose from the huddled masses, and try not to piss on ‘em, ’cause they’re all we’ve got left to pick from.
Happy Holidays Met fans!Â Remember, each new player is a gift, even if the wrapping paper is ripped, even if when you open the box broken pieces fall out, hell even if Daddy doesn’t get it to you by the 25th.Â The mutt puppy rescued from the shelter is not quite the purebred golden lab you hoped for, but at least it wants to be with you.Â Hopefully it can cover a lot of ground in LF.