Who's Next on the Met Free Agent Hit Parade?

Now that the Mets have Beltran in the Bag, the focus becomes on who they might sign next now that the free agent fever has hit them.

Well, for starters, to fill their hole at first base, they are trying to set up a meeting with Carlos Delgado. All along the rumour has been that it was either Beltran or Delgado as the consolation prize. We didn't see it coming that the Mets might sign both.

On first take, wow. Delgado's bat would really wreak havoc in concert with Beltran, and Piazza, Wright, Cameron and (if he stays) Cliff Floyd. He batted .269 with 32 homers and 99 runs batted in for Toronto last year, but also averaged 39.5 homers and 123.5 R.B.I in the previous six seasons. Beltran has already chimed in. "It would be seriously tremendous if we sign Carlos, too," Beltran was quoted as saying in the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia on Monday. "I would love it if that could be achieved because we are good friends, but I know he has to make the best decision for him."

But although splashy, it isn't necessarily in the Mets best interests.

If they are serious about building a team with a good defence (that said laughingly, I suppose, considering they'll have the worst defensive catcher in baseball backing them), Delgado isn't the first choice that comes to mind. Signing old man Olerud or trading for Mientkiewicz, both former Gold Glovers, would probably be the wiser, shorter term move as they won't cost an even bigger future payroll mortgaging and they will provide solid defence.

On the other hand, with an aging Glavine and Pedro anchoring their starting rotation and the decision to keep Piazza around for a final year means, that even with Beltran, this is a team being built to win now, not five years down the road, so perhaps Delgado's offence might be worth the sacrifice of his dodgy defence under that philosophy.

He certainly has the backing of Met manager Willie Randolph. "For any team, this guy is a solid, solid offensive player and he's a lot better defensively than people give him credit for," Randolph said of Delgado, 32.


Whilst on the one hand, the Mets are preparing to introduce Carlos to New York, on the other, they have already introduced Kootchie Koo.

That's Dae Sung Koo, for whom the Mets OUTBID the Yankees and who spent the past four seasons -- the last three as a starter -- with Orix of the Japanese Pacific League. He went 6-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 18 games in 2004. Overall, he was 24-34 in Japan with 10 saves and a 3.88 ERA in 110 games.

So naturally you've got to ask yourself, what's the fuss about a 35 year old Korean pitcher with a mediocre record in Japan and what did the Yankees want with him? Is he a starter or a bullpen addition? And how did we get him after the Yankees had already signed him?.

There's a nice website called Baseball Guru that tries to figure out what Japanese League players stats would mean in terms of "real" MLB stats. Koo's cipher out thusly:

Dae-Sung Koo dob Aug 2, 1969 BL TL
pos P 2004 salary: $1.03 million
2001 59 7 9 0 146.1 120 20 88 146 87 78 4.82
2002 25 6 6 0 169.1 152 19 58 147 84 74 3.93
2003 22 3 11 0 131.2 163 33 63 121 128 120 8.17
2004 21 5 10 0 138.0 138 36 57 107 110 102 5.64

"He's 35, and while the strikeouts per innings pitched are fine, the home run numbers are awful. Combine that with at least a hit an inning in the last two years, and you've got quite high projected ERAs. I'd pass."

Well, nothing to get excited about at Shea, it appears. Unless you're a Korean Mets fan, I suppose.


If Koo isn't exciting enough for you, you can always turn to Victor Zambrano, the infamous pitcher whom the Mets traded phenom Scott Kazmir for.

Yesterday, they "signed" him to avoid arbitration. So what did we get for Kazmir besides a dodgy-armed 5th starting pitcher with a mediocre record?

Reportedly the hard-throwing righty wants management to know he is healthy and that he'll be capable of pitching when Spring Training starts next month.

""The ankle is good. I've been throwing off a mound and have even thrown a couple of BPs [batting practices] in Venezuela, no problems," he said. "My arm feels good, too. I'm confident that it is over. Hopefully it is. There were a lot of opinions about it [his elbow] but I went to Instructional League [in the fall], and once I started working I knew I could keep going. It made me feel good."

Well, let's hope so. A healthy and effective Zambrano will go a long way towards establishing the depth of the Mets rotation.

Better still, deeper ramifications of the Pedro signing were shown when Martinez was introduced to the media and said he was looking forward to working with Zambrano, who seems equally eager.

"He's a big guy for us," Zambrano said. "I've talked to Pedro in the past and gotten a lot of confidence from him and everything he has said to me. It will help us to have him close and see a lot of the little things he does that can help."

Oooooh. The excitement just seems to have no end.


And look, these deep pockets of the Mets suddenly have no bottom. Not only these signings were announced, but they also signed their top pick, Phil Humber.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Humber, a Carthage, Texas, native, went 13-4 for Rice in 2004, posting a 2.27 ERA in 20 games (15 starts). Most impressive, however, were his 154 strikeouts in 115 innings. He finished his college career with a 35-8 record.


Meanwhile, the other New York Newcomer, Randy Johnson, showed NYC his pitching hand yesterday. The Unit is a mercenary, whilst Pedro and Beltran just might be saviours.

Looks like the Mets are headed in the right direction.

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