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Crowded Outfield

Mike SteffanosWednesday, January 21, 2009
By Mike Steffanos


Sorry that the promised daily posts aren't happening yet, but there's only so many ways to say that nothing much is happening. The Mets appear to be content to wait out the market for a starting pitcher right up to training camp.

There's a lot of speculation now that the Mets have signed OF Corey Sullivan about some sort of deal going down. The Mets now have three guys on major league contracts who are versions of the same player: Angel Pagan, Jeremy Reed and Sullivan -- solid defensively but not likely to make huge contributions with the bat.

Reed and Sullivan are both left-handed batters. Pagan is a switch hitter, but much stronger lifetime from the left side. None of the three have much power, only Pagan has a lifetime SLG over .400. Pagan and Sullivan are both very good fielders, while reports on Reed rate him at least solid.

I can't see more than one of these guys on the 25-man roster this summer, it just wouldn't make sense. Perhaps the other two will wind up in Buffalo, although that would seem to be a pricey Triple-A OF with two major league contracts.

I've seen some speculation regarding Ryan Church, but I wouldn't think any of these players are a replacement in RF. Even if he doesn't bounce back all the way from the concussion he's still a more proven offensive player than any OF on the roster who isn't named Carlos Beltran.

In other news, the Mets re-signed Duaner Sanchez to a one-year deal for just under $1.7 million. Sanchez showed some signs of bouncing back last season, particularly in the first half, but never fully recovered his fastball and seemed to fade at the end. Still, after missing a full season, it wasn't too bad of a year, and at 29, Sanchez is hardly over the hill.

In a perfect world, the Mets would have let Sanchez build up strength in the minors until after Memorial Day and then eased him back into the major league bullpen. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect and the Mets were struggling to put a bullpen together all season. Sanchez made 20 appearances before Memorial Day and just seemed to weaken as the summer wore on.

Newsday's Anthony Rieber gets an official Mike's Mets Douchebag Award, the first of 2009, for this little item:

... How in the world could [the Mets] give Duaner Sanchez a 77 percent raise? I know, it's the arbitration system, but seriously . . . isn't it time to cut bait with him, too, like they did with Heilman and Schoeneweis? They've gotten some of the stink out of that bullpen, but not all of it. Remember, when Billy Wagner went down last season, Sanchez ran under a desk and hid rather than assume the closer role.

By the time Wagner went down in early August Sanchez was sucking wind. He did pitch in 11 games that month, but his ERA was 7.94 and no one was asking him to be closer at that point, so there was no need to "run under a desk." Last year was bad enough without guys like Rieber making it uglier.

For the record, I'm all for giving Duaner another chance to get back close to what he was in 2006. With a full season under his belt and a chance to come to spring training at full strength, there is no reason to think that Sanchez couldn't be in for a nice rebound.

I think he could be a key for the season, solidifying the seventh inning for a bullpen that will hopefully provide much less of the wrong sort of drama in 2009. If he can't get his velocity back and continues to struggle, the Mets can then "cut bait" with Sanchez. Given the value of solid setup men, $1.7 million doesn't seem all that big of a gamble.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (9)

Mike, I usually am on the same page with you, but I must share the douchebag award -- how can anyone not question a 77% raise for someone with a lazy work ethic who performed extremely poorly in 2008 and is an unknown quantity in 2009? He was arbitration eligible -- why not just go to arbritration with him? As they complete their roster, the Mets are clearly operating like a small market team and the out of the ble, they reward this guy with a huge raise ... makes no sense to me and I agree with much what Rieber has to say .... I would noever have given im that large a raise and would have considered a non-tender.

Ron,

All reports from last year suggested that Duaner Sanchez worked very hard to get himself in shape for spring training. This isn't to say that Sanchez's work ethic wasn't questionable prior to 2008 but instead to caution you against making definitive statements (such as he is "someone with a lazy work ethic") when there are facts that both disprove and support the statement. At the end of the day, there are costs to going to arbitration with a player besides what the arbitrator rules. As a result, the Mets have only gone to arbitration with one player during the last 16 years. Given that the Mets would have offered him around 1.4 million (the likely floor for relievers with his service time) and he was probably seeking 2.0 million, they split the difference. In a perfect world, he wouldn't get a 77% raise but the baseball arbitration salary structure is not a perfect world. Also, I don't think it's unreasonable for the Mets to take a chance on seeing if Sanchez (in his second year removed from surgery) can return to his pre-injury form. Finally, you and Anthony Rieber are entitled to your opinions but I'd just prefer that you express them without the unnecessary and unfair personal attacks on a player.

Mike, with all due respect, what was unnecessary and unfair about my comments -- which, by the way -- I do not see as attacks. You agreed that he had a questionable work ethic in your comments .... what is the differenc in what I wrote vs. what you wrote.

Let me be very clear -- any criticsm of him is NOT personal ... I don't like him AS A PLAYER based on what he did last year as a Met and would have cut him ... I beleive his poor performance in 2009 was somewhat based on the questionable work ethic he put forth in 2008 ... I am not a doctor and don't know if the questionable work ethic lead to his second injury so I can't go there, but what I do know is he was sent home from camp by his manager in ST 2008, was out-of shape and ill-prepared for the rigors of ST, has a reputation for being lazy (from press reports around the time of his dismissal from camp in 2008 including whispers from Pittsburgh and LA where he once pitched) and had a horrid -- yes, IMO horrid -- year last year.

If you, the Wilpons and Minaya feel that is worth $1.7M dollars, all I can say is I wish I worked for you .... I would have non-tendered him or offered him a ST invite to put his competive juices in gear .... rewarding him for sub-par performance only enables him and I am opposed to that.

Different Mike, Ron, not me.

I think you're being WAY too tough on Sanchez in your comments, however. Also, if the Mets non-tendered him he could sign with anyone. Given the shortage of relievers, there was no reason to let a potentially valuable reliever go for virtually nothing. I do agree with the above Mike that, given the cost of decent relievers nowadays, $1.7 million isn't a lot of money. You can only compare it to what others are getting in baseball, not what you and I are making in the real world. I'm sure you disagree with that, but I'm glad you're not the GM of the Mets. Letting valuable players go for nothing is not a good business decision.

There were no rumors that Sanchez wasn't putting out full effort last season, quite the contrary. If you look at Sanchez' Game log from last season

http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_gamebygamelog.jsp?c_id=nym&playerID=400093&statType=2

...you'll see he was pretty good in the first four months. He was just pitching too much for a guy who had been out for a year and a half and it caught up to him. So yeah, you and I are in disagreement over Sanchez. I think he has a chance to be a valuable arm this season.

By the way, Sanchez is already in FLA getting ready for the season. That would seem to indicate some positive level of commitment to me.

Agree to disagree. You view him as potentially valuable, I do not. To one of you other points, teams let potentially valuable players go all the time. Randy Wolf is "potentially valuable" but the Astros let him go. Ty Wigginton is "potentially valuable" but the Astros also let him go.

I believe he has a suspect work ethic and is a mediocre at best pitcher .... his role with the 2009 team will be a 6th/7th inning guy and for that we gac=ve this guy a 77% raise.

You are entitled to your opinion and I respect it -- I just don't necessarily agree with it. I am sure that the feelings are mutual and that's OK.

Frankly, I hope you are 100% right and I am 100% wrong -- I just don't think I will be .... thanks for the response and for not admonishing me for stating my opinion like in the origonal Mike's post.

Wolf and Wiggy are going to make a lot more than $1.7 million. $1.7 is a lot of money to us, but it's chump change in MLB these days. To make a decision based on $1.7 million on a guy like Sanchez would be pretty cheap considering the Mets will have a payroll over $140 million. Sanchez will be pulling down just over 1% of that.

I also completely disagree with your assessment of Sanchez as mediocre at best. He was one of the best set up men in the game in 2006, is 29 years old, and has a chance to recapture some of that. Again, there is no credible reporting that Sanchez had any problems with work ethic last season.

You ARE entitled to your opinion, but I'm entitled to challenge you on it if you elect to post it here and I feel your point is unfair. And I do still think you're being incredibly unfair.

Point me to one credible article from last year where someone with any authority challenged Sanchez' efforts and I'll concede it to you.

"You ARE entitled to your opinion, but I'm entitled to challenge you on it if you elect to post it here and I feel your point is unfair. And I do still think you're being incredibly unfair."

Differing opinions are healthy .... I love them .... I encourage them.

Frankly, what I resent here is thre tone of your posts ... I am not some kid ... I am a 54-year old Met fan who attends nearly 40 or so games a year -- home and away. I have a passion for this team and my passion can be directly tied to the dollars I spend to experience them.

You are entitled to challenge me on anything I state in a post -- that is correct.

But to blabber on about this guy as if he is a stud is really unbelievable. He had a good April & May of 2006 ... he was good but not great in June/July of 2006 before the accident .... and the accident -- are you seriously telling me you belive that at 2AM he was leaving his hotel room to look for cuban food or whatever nonsense he was selling?

He was terrible last year -- you might be able to spin some of his numbers to look OK, but he was never a guy I wanted to see in the game .... completely unreliable.

So go on defending him and his modest 77% raise ....

Don't worry about feeling compelled to challenge me in the future -- maybe I will scan your site, maybe I won't ... but I will never post here again.

I will say that at least I was able to add a little spice to this thread -- certainly got you and the other Mike riled up a bit -- good thing since this post would have gone into the vast wasteland of cyberspace without any validation that it ever really existed or that anyone cared.

Good luck with the site ... and I meant what I said earlier -- I hope Sanchez has a great season in 2009 ... I don't know if you express your fandom by actually going to see the Mets play, but if he has a great year, it will justify the many thousands of dollars I do spend on them.
So, we'll make this easy .... I'll refrain from doing so further in this thread or any future thread .... it's a shame in a way because if not for me, this thread would have been just as dead as many of your other recent ones.

Jeez, Ron, you want to challenge me because you disagreed with something I said, but when I challenge you then you're offended. I challenged you more respectfully than you challenged me. I used respectful words, while you choose to use words like blather. I re-read everything I wrote looking for words that indicated disrespect for you or anger on my part, and I am at a loss. Telling you I think you are being unfair is disrespect? Really?

I respected you right up until reading this comment. I was never angry at anything you wrote, I just strongly disagreed with you. You seem like the kind of guy who reads things that aren't there into normal disagreements, and if that's the case -- respectfully -- your comments won't be missed.

To get back to the main point, I just read that the Phils are considering Wigginton. Up until now, the names I had been hearing were names like Alou and Aurilia (I believe it was him). This worrisome to me. Don't know if Wiggy would be open to a return to the Mets, but this is the kind of guy our team needs--insurance in the outfield, plays a couple of infield positions as well, is right-handed and has serious pop in his bat, not to mention he is exactly the type of "gritty" ball player we need.

And who are these guys we are signing? David Newhan part deux.

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