When Sandy Alderson took over the reigns, a lot of familiar faces were shown the door. In fact, since 2010, more than one-third of the Mets’ roster have since been traded, released, or just not re-signed. Since the 2011 season is almost at the midway point, it might be a good time to see how most of those former-Mets players are doing in other uniforms.
Rod Barajas: Okay, so the Mets sold Barajas before Alderson took over, but the all-or-nothing catcher did log 267 plate appearances for the Mets in 2010. After the Mets handed Barajas over to the Dodgers, the catcher posted an impressive .297/.361/.578 line in 72 plate appearances. He also swatted 5 homeruns, 3 doubles, 13 RBI, and 9 runs to boot. The Dodgers enjoyed “The Barajas Experience” so much, they signed him to a one-year, $3.25 million deal, and non-tendered fan favorite and former starter Russell Martin (who was then signed by the New York Yankees for just $.75 million more). In 2011, Barajas has posted just a .220/.262/.385 line, but (of course) also has 8 jacks and 21 RBI. Despite the sometimes bumpy ride with Mets starter Josh Thole, it’s fair to assume everyone in Mets-land is content with pocketing that extra $3.25 million and giving young Thole a much-deserved shot.
Luis Castillo: Much like a Presidential administration, Sandy Alderson made specific promises to the American people (well, just Mets fans) upon taking office. The most important promise was to only bestow roster spots to players who deserved them. Mets fans have heard this political rhetoric before, but Alderson’s release of Luis Castillo (and his $6.5 million contract) during Spring Training was proof of this so-called “change.” While Castillo had been a top middle infielder in the not-too-distant-past, his chronic knee problems crippled his once high-shelf defensive range and trail-blazzing speed. His diminished skills as well as his malignant clubhouse attitude gave Alderson all the right to pink slip him. Castillo signed with the Phillies, who almost immediately gave the veteran his walking papers. The former Marlins standout has yet to officially retire, but on that same token, no other teams expressed interest in him, and he has not picked up a glove or bat for any team (Major or Minor) in 2011. Needless to say, Dan Murphy, Justin Turner, and Ruben Tejada have all gallantly assumed Castillo’s at-bats.
Jeff Francoeur: There couldn’t be two more different people than Jeff Francoeur and Sandy Alderson on the topic of walks. While Francoeur once [in]famously remarked, “If walks are so important, then why don’t they appear on the scoreboard?”, Alderson built his successful legacy on uncovering players with superior on-base skills. As nice a guy and clubhouse presence Francoeur was for the fledgling 2010 Mets, he simply did not belong in 2011. However, when Frenchy bursted out in March/April this season for the Royals, some Mets fan’s ears perked up. The rightfielder posted a dynamic .314/.357/.569 line with 5 homeruns, 20 RBI, 16 runs, and 3 stolen bases. Considering Angel Pagan had been injured for the Mets during that period, some fans actually missed ole-swing-en-miss (aka Jeff Francoeuer). But since May, Francoeur has just posted a dismal .233/.275/.360 line with 4 homeruns, 23 RBI, 14 runs, and 7 stolen bases. With a healthy outfield of Jason Bay (for better or worse), Angel Pagan, and Carlos Beltran, Frenchy is a distant memory.
Alex Cora: Similar to Barajas, Cora was given the boot before Alderson took office, but the veteran infielder did rack-up 495 career plate appearances [too many] as a Mets over the past two seasons. All too many times, Mets fans heard the broadcast booth echo, “that Alex Cora will one-day be a great manager,” yet his combined .234/.299/.298 line showed that future should be right now (if at all). Despite his poor play, the Nationals signed Cora in 2011, and has so-far picked-up where he left off with the Mets. Considering the vet has posted a .248/.304/.286 in 2011, fans should be glad the Mets stacked their bench with viable players as opposed to future managers.
Chris Carter: Carter, otherwise known as “The Animal,” was the main player acquired in the trade which sent Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox in 2009. “The Animal” posted a .263/.317/.389 line mostly as a bench player for the Mets in 2010, but didn’t impress Sandy Alderson enough to tender him a contract. Apparently every other Major League team agreed. In 2011, Carter eventually signed on with the Rays Triple-A squad, where he posted a .270/.309/.460 line with 10 homeruns, 46 RBI, and 25 runs in 233 plate appearances. The Rays disposed of Carter, and he was recently picked-up by the Braves Triple-A team. Carter has a decent eye, but has essentially become an all-or-nothing hitter (mostly the latter). Considering the Red Sox received now-top-prospect Anthony Ranaudo (3.15 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 2.79 K/BB) as a compensation pick when Wagner declined arbitration and signed with the Braves, it’s fair to say Carter’s tenure with the Mets will be remembered in a negative light.
Henry Blanco: The tandem of Rod Barajas and Henry Blanco has to be one of the worst catching combinations in Mets history. The defense-first Blanco posted a .215/.271/.300 line in 144 plate appearances as the backup to Barajas in 2010. Alderson decided to make better use of his backup catcher roster slot by signing perennial left-handed-pitching masher, Ronny Paulino. For about as much as the Arizona Diamondbacks signed away Blanco, Alderson inked Paulino to split time with youngster Josh Thole. Even though Paulino endured a bout of anemia to start the season, the backup has since posted a .317/.371/.390 line, including a .344/.400/.375 line against left-handed pitching. Blanco has done marginally better with the bat for the D’backs than he did with the Mets, racking up a .229/.302/.521 line (his SLG spike mostly due to a few fluke homeruns), but his 3:1 K/BB ratio and increasing age limit his value to that of a catching/throwing machine.
Hisanori Takahashi: Takahashi was one of the Mets brightest surprises in 2010. The Japanese import wowed in a variety of pitching roles, and owned a combined 3.61 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 2.65 K/BB. Letting him go to the Los Angeles Angels was contested by most fans, but in all fairness to the Mets, matching or outbidding the Angels’ two-year, $8 million for a 36 year-old pitcher with only one season of experience in the Majors would not have been a prudent decision. Takahashi has looked a little shaky so-far for the Angels, but has posted an overall solid 3.73 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 2.27 K/BB. While it would be nice to have Takahashi in the bullpen, Alderson instead used 65% of Takahashi’s contract to bring-in Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, D.J. Carrasco, Jason Isringhausen, and Taylor Buchholz. How can one argue with that?
John Maine: Maine, who was acquired in the Kris Benson deal, won the hearts of Mets fans in 2006 after he posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 6 Wins, and 2.15 K/BB during the regular season, and even managed a win in the playoffs again the St. Louis Cardinals. While the righty pitched to the tune of 15 wins, featuring a 3.91 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and a 2.4 K/BB in 2007, Maine struggled to stay healthy over the next two seasons, finally reaching rock bottom in 2010 (6.13 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, and 5.7 BB/9 IP). In addition, his relationship with the Mets really soured when pitching coach Dan Warthen accused the righty of being a “habitual liar” about his health (or rather, claiming he was healthy). Given his injury-status, Alderson let Maine go, and the Colorado Rockies signed the pitcher to a Minor League contract. While some fans suggested cutting Maine would haunt the Mets in the future, unfortunately for Maine’s sake, it doesn’t look to be the case. The former Met has posted a dismal 7.43 ERA, 2.06 WHIP, and 0.95 K/BB for the Rockies Triple-A team. Given the success of Dillon Gee and Chris Capuano, there would be little room for even a semi-healthy John Maine.
Sean Green: The side-winding reliever was an important addition to the trade that sent J.J. Putz to the Mets before 2009, however, Green never quite fulfilled his potential. In bits and pieces of two seasons for the Mets, the righty owned a “blah” 4.44 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 1.50 K/BB in 79 innings. Due for a raise from his $.975 salary, Alderson sent Green packing, and used the funds elsewhere. The Milwaukee Brewers pick-up the former-Mariner with a one-year, $.875 deal, but DFA’d him in May after he posted a 5.40 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 1.17 K/BB. Why pay Green over a million, when he’s producing like Dale Thayer?
Oliver Perez: On March 21, 2011, Sandy Alderson released Oliver Perez from his contract. Perez was in the final season of his much-maligned three-year, $36 million deal. Despite his $12 million price-tag, Alderson showed Perez the door, and us Mets fans never looked back. Until right now. No one really cared much that the Washington Nationals took a flier on Perez. In fact, Alderson was praised for making the move past General Managers would never have made. The Nats assigned the control-ridden pitcher to Double-A in the hopes he could rediscover himself. So far, the low-risk signing has paid off. Perez has posted a magical 2.22 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 7.00 K/BB in 24.3 innings (spanning five starts). More importantly, the southpaw also owns a Greg Maddux-esq 1.1 BB/9–Perez’s lowest in his career (Minors or Majors). The good news is that Perez doesn’t seem to have a open spot on the Nationals roster, so Mets fans won’t have to experience the former-Met pitch a no-hitter against us.
Pedro Feliciano: As the longest tenured Met on the roster (from 2002 to 2010, with the exception of the 2005 season he spent in Japan), seeing Feliciano go was tough. “Perpetual Pedro” had always been a force out of the bullpen, despite being misused as more than just a left-handed specialist (career .283/.376/.420 against right-handed hitters). It also stung just a little bit when Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the New York Yankees. However, it didn’t take long for the former rubber arm’s arm to fall off. Even before the regular season started, Feliciano was placed on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder. This prompted Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman to claim that the Mets had “overused” Feliciano. Cashman was bashed by the media for “sour grapes.” Hostility aside, [not financially] poor Pedro has still yet to rightfully earn his overpaid $4 million yearly salary–making Alderson look like a genius, and Cashman look like, well, the opposite.