When I was a young fledgling newswriter, an experienced anchorman told me never to use the word “rumors.” “We deal in facts, not rumors,” he said. And he was right. It’s advice I’ve followed ever since. But when it comes to possible trade and free agent signings, rumor is the only word to use. Because unless a team general manager tells a reporter a trade is about to happen, everything else is just pure speculation. And speculation leads to rumor, which is all sportswriters write about this time of year.
And this time of year is often times as fun as the season itself. In the Mets case, it’s way, way more fun because last season as so, so awful. Over the next few months, we can dream about Roy Halliday as the number two starter, Matt Holliday patrolling left field, Orlando Hudson manning second base, and Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo distant, unpleasant memories. Will any of this happen? Who knows? So let’s look at some of the rumors being reported thus far:
I keep reading reports that the Mets are interested in Chone Figgins. And I just don’t get it. I’m not saying he’s not a solid player — he hits around .300, steals a lot of bases, walks a lot. But he has absoultely zero power. And that, more than on-base percentage, is what the Mets need right now. Figgins can play both left field and second base. Now, if the Mets are able to pawn Luis Castillo off on someone and plan to put Figgins at second, I say go ahead and sign him. But if what David Lennon wrote in Newsday is true, then the Mets are just crazy:
If the Mets intend to employ Figgins in left as part of their speed configuration, as a person familiar with the club’s thinking said, that would appear to rule out Jason Bay or Matt Holliday – the two big-ticket solutions for that spot.
I know Citi Field is a big park, and I agree that team speed is important, but can the Mets win in 2010 if their leader in home runs hits 12 again? Plus, I read Figgins will likely command upwards of $10 million per year. With all the holes the Mets have to fill, that’s too much money for a leadoff-type hitter, expecially when the Mets already have a better one. Remember Jose Reyes?
Hudson (left) and Figgins are very similar players. They are both the same age (31), play second, and get on base. A big difference is that Hudson has some pop in his bat. He’ll hit you a double or a homer every now and then. Figgins won’t. And Hudson is a four-time Gold Glove winner at second. Figgins is not. Again, assuming the Mets get rid of Castillo, I would choose Hudson over Figgins. He reportedly will come cheaper, too.
Brandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang
The Reds are reportedly looking to shed salary, so Phillips is another second base option. He’s got power, and is also a Gold Glove winner. The Reds probably don’t want to trade him, but Joel Sherman in the New York Post speculates the Reds might part with him if another team took the high-salaried Arroyo and another player off of their books:
In return, Cincinnati would have to accept Luis Castillo (two years at $12 million), but also would get a couple of prospects (think Ruben Tejada and/or Brad Holt, for example) plus save $14.75 million in 2010 and $22.75 million overall to use to fill other needs.
That would be a brilliant trade for the Mets. I like Arroyo a lot. He’s a fly ball pitcher playing in a home run park. Imagine how he’ll do in cavernous Citi Field? I also like Harang. Although he’s 12-31 over the past two years, he’s got pretty good stuff. I think they’d both be better than Staten Island’s Jason Marquis, who finally had a good season and is looking to cash in with his hometown Mets.
Omar Minaya has reportedly spoken with Lackey’s agent, and all reports say the Mets will be serious bidders for Lackey’s services. And that’s good. There are some concerns over his durability — he’s spent time on the DL each of the past two seasons, making only 24 and 27 starts, respectively. And while scouts like him, many say he is not a true ace, that’s he’s more of a solid second starter. That will work just fine with the Mets, who already have a pretty good ace in Johan Santana. With that in mind, the Mets should only pay him as a number two. If the bidding gets too high, they will be smart to wave goodbye, just like Minaya did with Derek Lowe last off-season. By the way, after being wildly criticized for that move, guess which big contract the Braves are reportedly trying to move now? — that’s right, Derek Lowe’s. But I don’t think the bidding will get out-of-control. Despite media reports, I don’t think the Yankees or Red Sox will spend big for starting pitching this off-season. Both teams have enough pitching and other areas to address.
Matt Holliday & Jason Bay
I’m putting these two together because the Mets are either going to pursue both of them, or neither of them. Minaya is doing his due diligence in talking to their agents, but media reports conflict on whether the Mets are serious about spending big for a left fielder. At this point, there’s no way to tell. I would prefer Holliday (left) — he’s younger (29 to Bay’s 31), is a better fielder, has more power, and hits for a higher average (.318 career to Bay’s .280). Plus, while Holliday averages 115 strikeouts per season, Bay averages 157.
No no no no no. The Mets are reportedly keeping tabs on Delgado’s play in winter ball, and have not ruled out bringing him back. I repeat, no no no no no. The old addage in sports is “you’d rather get rid of a player one season too early than one season too late.” The Mets had a chance to do this last off-season, when they could have exercised Delgado’s option and traded him after his solid 2008 finish. But they didn’t, and they kept him around one season too many. Now, they want to keep him around two seasons too many? Delgado will turn 38 during the 2010 season. Do you really want to count on a 38-year-old coming off a major injury?
Something is wrong with the Mets. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something that has kept them from winning. They need to change their so called “core.” Delgado would be a good place to start. Also, there are reports that he divides the clubhouse. David Wright, who defers to his elders almost to a fault, was finally able to exert leadership over this team in Delgado’s absence. There’s no reason to turn back now. If the Mets resign Delgado, they’ll have pretty much the same team that collapsed in 2007 and 2008. Who wants that?
Having said all of this, I don’t dislike Delgado. I hope he signs with someone, gets his 500 home runs, and gets elected to the Hall of Fame. I just don’t think he’ right for the Mets right now.
This is a longshot at best. I keep reading that the Tigers are in “firesale mode.” They are looking to unload players, and since “no one can afford the contract of Miguel Cabrera…” he’s likely to stay put. If he’s made available, The Mets could, and should afford the contract of the first baseman. He’s got six years left on the 8 year, $152.3 contract he signed before the 2008 season. That’s a lot of money. But Cabrera (left) is a hitting machine, perhaps the best hitter in the game not named Pujols, averaging 33 homers, 117 RBIs and batting .311 over his first seven seasons. And he’s only 26-years-old. If he’s available, and that’s a big if, the Mets should get him, at almost any cost.
There are sure to be plenty more rumors over the next few months to obsess over. For now, these will have to do. In the end, perhaps a few of these will come true, perhaps none of them. But that’s the fun of this time of year. The Mets have just as good a shot of obtaining any of these guys as any other team. Ah, to dream…