28.1.05

Just Say No To Delgado

Well, if you consider NOT signing a dodgy-fielding first baseman with enormous power who hits equally well for average, a success, then I guess we can assess that Omar's magic touch is still in intact. Even though Carlos Delgado signed with the Marlins rather than the Mets and added insult to injury by claiming he chose to sign with the Marlins largely because they have the best chance of competing for a championship among the four finalists for his services, there are many different ways to spin this, some of them valid, some of them absurd.

First of all, adding yet another long term, big money contract (Delgado ended up signing for $52 million over four years) was probably not in the best interests of the Mets' long term interests. You can't buy everyone and even if you can, it doesn't necessarily buy success.

Getting Doug Mientkiewicz instead of Delgado to fill first base, at first glance, seems like a pretty small consolation prize but as Baseball America notes:

"Mientkiewicz is a career .272/.363/.404 hitter with 44 homers and 276 RBIs in 692 games, including a pair of .300-plus seasons under his belt. He has limited power, but posts good on-base percentages and is an excellent contact hitter. One of the better defensive first basemen around, he won a Gold Glove in 2001."

Of course, he isn't a slugging, left-handed swinging cleanup hitter, like Delgado but then again, who is? What probably hurts more is that every time the Mets play the Marlins this season, there will be that nagging questions: if we had Delgado, what difference would it make? Or, if Delgado kills Met pitching all summer every time they meet, well, the I-told-you-so chants will kick in a loud chorus.

Omar said the Mientkiewicz trade is likely his last major move before spring training so like it or not, welcome back Piazza, Floyd and Cameron.

The Daily Yomiuri says the Kaz Man is ready for his move to second base. He might not have to worry about it much. If Hamstring Jose has his typical season, most of it will be spent frustrating himself on the DL and the Kaz Man will be playing short for half the season anyway.

But, IF Jose Reyes stays healthy, the double switch will seem like a miracle performance and will solidify what will be a very good defensive infield.

"I feel great. I played a lot, like 50 games, no days off, with no problems, and that's the most important thing. I feel 100% and ready to go," Hamstring Jose claims. "Last year I had a lot of problems, and right now I have no problems in my body.". Hopefully, that's true and if so, Hamstring Jose might prove to be more important to the Mets than Carlos Beltran OR The Pedro.

The biggest problem for me about this signing is that Delgado signed with a team that is our own division rival, improving an already-strong team further still. The Marlins, Braves, and Phillies are all formidable opponents and is now perhaps, the toughest divsion in the National League. (What?? More formidable than the Cubs-Cardinals-Astros troika? More frightening that the Dodgers/Giants/Padres trio?) Well, in a word, yes. No team has been more resilient in the regular season than the Braves. The Marlins are one year removed from the World Championship and the Phillies, potentially anyway, could prove to be a very tough, albeit very expensive team, now that Larry Bowa isn't there to mismanage them for another season.

So if a Met is to bemoan the failure to sign Carlos Delgado, do so because the Marlins signed him, not because the Mets didn't. This signing wouldn't matter as much if he'd have gone to the Rangers, in another baseball league far, far away.

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