Just when you thought the hot stove was down to its final ember, the rumor mill sputtered to life last night! Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that the Mets were interested in signing Ivan Rodriguez. Adam Rubin reported that no, they weren’t. I’m going with Rubin on this one, based on past reporting.
But the news that the Mets had roughly $2 million in reserve to spend on either a fallback plan for Johan Santana and/or a backup catcher is interesting. All things being equal, I’d have preferred to see the Mets bring in another starting pitcher with that money. The five of Santana/Dickey/Niese/Pelfrey/Gee is relatively sound, but Santana is an obvious question mark, Gee has options in case the roster is too stocked with starting pitching (which never happens), and the backup plans are Miguel Batista, Garrett Olson and Chuck James.
Bartolo Colon, incidentally, signed for exactly $2 million with Oakland. He’d have been a nice fit.
That said, I don’t see how they are spending that $2 million on anything approaching starting pitching depth with what is left on the market. Roy Oswalt isn’t taking $2 million to pitch with the Mets. And the remaining free agent options are uninspiring, to say the least. I’d be fine with Javier Vazquez or Doug Davis, but that seems prohibitively expensive for either.
But the Mets can still help themselves at catcher, and it shouldn’t take $2 million. Consider that Ramon Castro made $2 million, combined, over the past two years. For the job of backing up Josh Thole, facing left-handed pitchers and giving the Mets pop off the bench, Castro shouldn’t require more than $600,000 or so. Realistically, that isn’t even a large chunk of the $2 million, since it means Mike Nickeas returns to Triple-A, rather than earning the MLB minimum salary of $480,000. That leaves plenty of room for Davis or Vazquez, if needed.
And Castro can still mash. He put up a .928 OPS against lefties last year, and his career mark is .808. Ivan Rodriguez hasn’t approached that kind of offense against lefties in years. And Mike Nickeas has a career OPS against everyone of .493. I mean, this isn’t close.
This is a massive hole that doesn’t need to exist on the 2012 New York Mets. Here’s hoping Ramon Castro is back in Port St. Lucie, and soon.