Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

7 Mets became free agents Saturday

From the New York Post’s Mike Puma yesterday:

Scott Hairston, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Kelly Shoppach, Tim Byrdak and Chris Young are the Mets who became free agents at midnight. In all likelihood each has played his last game for the team.

I wish them well, but I won’t miss any of them very much.

Scott Hairston takes batting practice before a game at Citi Field in 2011 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Scott Hairston had a nice year, and by the end of the season he was one of very few Mets who could be counted on to produce runs with any regularity. But he’s 32 and coming off a career season – Omar Minaya would have handed him a big raise and a multi-year deal. Sandy Alderson is probably smarter, even though he couldn’t put aside thoughts of an extra win or two in 2012 to trade Hairston for whatever kind of borderline prospect he could get.

Ronny Cedeno was a competent backup infielder for the 2012 Mets, and I wouldn’t mind if he’s still here in 2013. But there are probably cheaper options available for a cost-conscious team.

Kelly Shoppach was another in a long line of mediocre catchers who played for the Mets. I’d rather see him return than watch Miguel Olivo, who has been linked to the Mets in published rumors. But I’d really like to see the Mets develop a decent catcher – think about this for a moment: Todd Hundley is probably the best catcher who ever came up through the Mets’ farm system.

Tim Byrdak seems like a great guy, and was effective in his role as a lefty specialist for the Mets. But he’s 39 and coming off surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. Let’s see what Josh Edgin and Robert Carson can do, and look at the minor league free agent pool for added depth.

Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez occasionally showed why Alderson acquired them for the Mets bullpen last season, but they were too inconsistent for anyone to feel comfortable when they were called on. Rauch is 34 and earned $3.5 million in 2012, Ramirez is 31 and made $2.65 million. Let some other team take a chance that they will rebound next year.

And I really hope that Alderson is ready to turn the page on Chris Young. Although Young is usually brilliant twice through the order, opposing hitters almost always have him solved by at-bat number three. Five-inning starters lead to over-worked and over-exposed bullpens, and the Mets’ desire to get him extra rest helped to sabotage the entire starting rotation late in the year. And unless he’s willing to sign a minor league contract (preferably without an opt-out date), he can’t be viewed as rotation depth – with the Mets’ financial situation, any free agent signed to a major league contract is going to make the Opening Day roster.


Posted in Uncategorized

Mets remove Nickeas from 40-man roster


Mike Nickeas takes batting practice before a game at Citi Field in 2012 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The New York Mets have removed backup catcher Mike Nickeas from the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment.

By all accounts, Nickeas is a nice guy – I know there’s at least one blogger who’s disappointed by the move. But when he got the chance to play in the major leagues this year, he didn’t hit well enough to convince many that he belonged there. And while defense is clearly the stronger part of Nickeas’ game, it wasn’t good enough to justify a spot on the 40-man roster when there are actual prospects who will need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Nickeas will probably get a fair amount of playing time for the Las Vegas 51s in 2013, and I expect he’ll put up decent numbers in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Should anything happen to the Mets’ major league catchers, I’m sure Nickeas will be the first guy to be called – especially if needing to catch the knuckleball is still a consideration at the time.

But it’s probably time for the 29-year-old Nickeas to start thinking about how he can break into coaching, or what he might like to do when he leaves baseball behind.

The more significant questions surrounding the Mets’ catching situation still remain: is Josh Thole worth the $1.2 million MLB Trade Rumors predicts he’ll earn through arbitration? Will Kelly Shoppach be re-signed? And if not those two, then who?

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Scratch one Mets catching option

Third-string backup catcher Rob Johnson opted for free agency after being removed from the Mets’ 40-man roster, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reported today.

Kelly Shoppach
Kelly Shoppach, seen here in a 2011 photo taken by Keith Allison, may not have impressed the Mets front office enough during his time in New York this season.

Johnson appeared in 17 major league games, where he batted .250 (13-for-52) with two doubles and four RBI. He missed the end of the season with a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Johnson’s biggest virtue was that he was not Mike Nickeas. And while I’m sure Mr. Nickeas is a very pleasant and hard-working individual, he’s shown very few signs of being a capable major league hitter.

The more interesting item in Rubin’s story is this:

The Mets will consider re-signing [Kelly] Shoppach because his likely 2013 salary would match the organization’s spending capability, but team officials were not enamored with Shoppach and are first expected to investigate other options.

So, who would you like to see Sandy Alderson bring in to handle the catching duties in 2013?

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Fun facts about new Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach

Yesterday, the New York Mets acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.

Oliver Rainbow Sparkles, pet hedgehog of the Shoppach family. (Photo from Kelly Shoppach’s Twitter account.)

Shoppach was hitting .250 with 5 home runs and 17 RBI in 48 games for Boston this year and he has a very respectable  .270 / .364 / .530 career line against left-handed pitchers.

But while the numbers suggest that Shoppach will be a noticeable offensive upgrade over Rob Johnson or Mike Nickeas, it’s hard to be too interested in a backup catcher.

Fortunately, Shoppach is on Twitter (@ShopHouse10), so we’re not left with just a Baseball Reference stats page.

Ok, ok… most of those things aren’t all that interesting either. But you have to admit, Oliver Rainbow Sparkles is precious. 🙂