With Bay signing, Mets put their eggs into one basket, again

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bay red sox swinging.jpgIf there was ever a winter for the Mets to forgo their obsession with stars and improve their depth instead, this was the one. Injuries practically everywhere on the diamond devastated the team in 2009, forcing the team to turn to such non-entities as Angel Berroa, Lance Broadway and Wilson Valdez. It’s certainly true that no team could have survived losing as much of its top players as the Mets did last season, but there was also no reason for a club with a $150 million payroll to have to turn to mediocre Triple-A veterans so early and often.
GM Omar Minaya, though, showed no signs of learning his lesson. Instead of concentrating on the second- and third-tier free agents that were only going to keep getting cheaper as the winter dragged on, he spent $66 million to bring in Jason Bay on Tuesday. The deal could be worth more than $80 million if the option for the fifth year vests.
That is the Mets for you. The club now has five players making at least $12 million per season: Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Bay, Francisco Rodriguez and Oliver Perez. David Wright and Jose Reyes aren’t quite yet there, but they’ll combine to make $19 million next year and $25 million in 2011 before Reyes becomes a free agent.
Will it buy anything more than another fourth-place finish? The team. at present, looks like this:
SS – Jose Reyes – $9 million
2B – Luis Castillo – $6.25 million
CF – Carlos Beltran – $20 million
LF – Jason Bay – $16 million (approx.)
3B – David Wright – $10 million
1B – Daniel Murphy – $450,000
RF – Jeff Francoeur – $4.5 million (approx.)
C – Free agent
OF – Angel Pagan – $1.1 million (approx.)
INF – Alex Cora – $2 million
C – Henry Blanco – $750,000
C/INF – Chris Coste – $650,000
INF – Anderson Hernandez – $450,000
Total: $71.15 million
SP – Johan Santana – $21 million
SP – John Maine – $3.3 million (approx.)
SP – Oliver Perez – $12 million
SP – Mike Pelfrey – $500,000
SP – Jon Niese – $400,000
RP – Francisco Rodriguez – $12 million
RP – Pedro Feliciano – $2.1 million (approx.)
RP – Bobby Parnell – $420,000 (approx.)
RP – Kelvim Escobar – $1.25 million
RP – Ryota Igarashi – $1.25 million
RP – Sean Green – $750,000 (approx.)
RP – Brian Stokes – $420,000 (approx.)
Total: $55.39 million
That’s $126.5 million spent on a team that’s still short a starting pitcher and a catcher. Plus, an upgrade at first base would be nice. The defense takes a hit with Bay replacing Pagan in left field, and it doesn’t look like it will get any better at second base, since Minaya has been unable to find a taker for Castillo.
Fourth place seems just about right at the moment. There simply aren’t any sure things in the rotation with Santana coming off elbow surgery, and while the top of the lineup looks awfully strong, there will also be a lot of quick innings turned in by the bottom half.
Some other thoughts on the Bay signing:
– I don’t think this means Bay needs to be avoided in fantasy leagues this year. While Wright’s decline made it appear as though Citi Field was an impossible home run park for right-handed hitters in its initial season, the stats say it actually helped them. Its home run park factor for right-handed hitters was 110 (with 100 being average), putting it behind only Cincinnati, Colorado, Philadelphia and Houston in the NL. With plenty of strong OBPs ahead of him, Bay should be good for 30 homers and 110 RBI in year one as a Met.
– For that reason, Bay won’t have to worry about being viewed as a disappointment right away. Still, I really think the Mets would be better off playing him at first base, even though it would block a quality prospect in Ike Davis. Maybe we’ll see it in 2011 if Davis disappoints in the minors next year.
– Right now, it’s Fernando Martinez who is blocked. He needed some additional Triple-A time anyway, but he’s now at the mercy of Jeff Francoeur. If Francoeur continues to hit like he did in the second half of last season, he won’t be budged at any point during 2010.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.