The Red Sox were the latest team to make a splash with a Cuban defector, reportedly signing Rusney Castillo Friday to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. They are hopeful he can have the same impact as his new teammate Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu. The Mets have been largely silent when it comes to this newest wave of ballplayer. But now it appears the Mets are ready to tip their toes in Cuban waters. Personally, I fear another Kaz Matsui.
A report in the New York Post claims the Mets are looking at shortstop Roberto Carlos. A source said Roberto may have “slipped through the baseball cracks” because unlike other defectors, he failed to get representation after leaving the free and democratic island of Cuba.
Carlos hit .339 with four homers and 49 RBIs for the Cuban national team in 2012, but there are said to be concerns because he has not played at top-level competition since then. It should also be noted that he is 28, not exactly a spring chicken.
I do not think anyone slips through the “baseball cracks,” whatever those are, anymore. If this guy was any good, teams would have been all over him. This is certainly not to disparage Carlos; I obviously know nothing about him. But in this day and age of scouting and the Internet and whatnot, top-notch players do not go undiscovered.
To me, this smacks of Kaz Matsui all over again. After Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui proved that hitters can make it on our shores as well as pitchers, the Mets decided they needed a Japanese guy, too. They chose Kaz Matsui. Obviously, the chose wrong; he was awful.
The fact that he, like Carlos, was a shortstop is probably an ironic coincidence. But the circumstances are the same — “Everyone else is doing well with these guys. We should try too. But of course, we do not want to spend as much money for our player, so let’s find a cheaper one who no one else wants.”
Maybe Roberto Carlos is a great player, the next Puig or Abreu. But given the fact that he has basically been a free agent for two years and no one has signed him, combined with Sandy Alderson’s sketchy skills as a talent evaluator points to Kaz Matsui, Part II. Maybe I’m being unfairly negative, but I just get the feeling that the Mets, as they so often do, will pick the wrong guy. I guess this is what it means to be a Mets fan these days.