Friday, January 27, 2012

While Division Rivals Add More Pieces To Their Roster, The Mets KeepLooking

Over the past few days the Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a minor league deal, traded Wilson Valdez (former Met) to the Reds, and the Nationals added Brad Lidge to their already formidable bullpen on a one year deal.

In Juan Pierre, the Phillies added a "name" more than anything valuable. With Laynce Nix, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and John Mayberry already in the fold, Pierre provides them with outfield depth if one or more of them were to go down with an injury, but not much more than that.

There were some people out there who wanted to see Pierre in a Mets uniform, but I was not one of them. As FanGraphs points out, while Pierre can still run, he is not the asset on the base-paths he once was and he has gotten worse defensively with a -9.2 UZR last season.  Signing him to a minor league deal can do nothing but help the Phillies, but with a WAR of -0.4 last season in 711 at bats, there is very little that he brings to the table.

Brad Lidge on the other hand is a name I hoped the Mets would go after.

Outside of 2009, Lidge has always been an excellent pitcher, never having a FIP above four in nine out of his ten seasons. The reason he was available this late into the offseason is that he has struggled with injuries recently, with only 123 innings over the last three seasons. Despite the injuries, his stuff never left, and with a 10.0 K/9 and an ERA of 2.49 over the last two seasons, he has proven he can still be a valuable piece to a major league bullpen. No matter what he ends up producing, signing a pitcher of this caliber to a one year deal worth only $1million plus incentives is a great deal; one in which I hope the Mets can find over the next couple of weeks.

While there are still plenty of upside free agents available, for now it seems that the Mets first priority is going to be filling out the last spot on their bench. Some of the names that the Mets are reportedly interested in are Johnny Damon, Rick Ankiel, Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez and the aforementioned Juan Pierre.

One name that jumps out from this list is Johnny Damon.

Damon’s skills have declined over the past couple of seasons, but I think his leadership would be his most undeniable asset to the Mets. He has proven himself in two of the biggest baseball markets of Boston and New York, and his presence in the locker room, would not only give David Wright a break and let him focus on baseball, but also give the Mets some veteran leadership they have not had since Carlos Delgado in 2006.

Damon posted a 1.5 WAR with the Rays last season, with 16 home runs and 19 steals, hitting .261. With the question marks that surround Jason Bay’s performance, Damon would provide some insurance as a guy who can step in and play every day, or at the very least, platoon with Bay, given his struggles against right handed pitching these last two seasons.

I think he would be a great fit, and an even better answer to the moves made by the Mets rivals within the division.

For more news and stats on the Mets, follow Zach on Twitter @MetsVibe!

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