Potential Off-Season Targets: Endy Chavez

By Unknown author

With the 2011 season over, the old saying, “There’s always next season,” instantly becomes all Mets fan’s credo. But before we can think about riding the 7-train out to Flushing again, there is a whole off-season to project and pontificate about. Considering the amount of holes the Mets will have, this coming off-season holds a lot of importance.

In this new on-going series, Rising Apple will analyze potential off-season targets for the New York Mets. Today’s target at-hand is free agent outfielder Endy Chavez.

Endy Chavez? As in that Endy Chavez? The answer is, yes [that Endy Chavez]. Chavez was a fan favorite in Shea Stadium from 2006 to 2008, before being dealt to the Seattle Mariners in 2009. The outfielder was probably best known for his God-like catch in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, saving a for-sure homerun. But as great as that one catch was, it was just one of many terrific and game-saving defensive plays Chavez made and still continues to make.

Chavez’s post-Mets career wasn’t as heroics-filled as he would have hoped. In 2009, Chavez tore the ACL in his right knee on a freak-play, forcing him to miss the rest of the season and essentially all of 2010 too. But the then 32 year-old worked hard to rehab during 2010, and was ready again for Major League action in 2011. Chavez started the season in Triple-A for the Texas Rangers, but proved that his knee was willing and able for higher-play (.305/.353/.445 line with 2 homeruns, 17 RBI, 16 runs, and 6 stolen bases). The outfielder got a decent chunk of playing time due to the poor play of Julio Borbon, and various injuries to David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Hamilton.

In 2011, Chavez owned a solid .301/.323/.426 line with 5 homeruns, 27 RBI, 37 runs, and 10 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances. His low walk rate was a little worrisome (3.6% BB% versus career 5.5% BB%), but the slap-hitter’s .125 ISO was his best showing since 2006. The .274 career hitter’s .301 BA was a bit inflated (.321 BABIP versus career .297 BABIP), but the added pop makes up for the likely BA regression in 2012.

Hitting aside, Chavez continued to be a force in the field for the Texas Rangers. While he didn’t do well in left field (-77.2 UZR/150 in 32 innings), the defensive stud dominated in right (39.0 UZR/150 in 41 innings), and was also prime in center (9.3 UZR/150 in 514.3 innings). His tremendous showing in center despite coming off a horrendous knee injury illustrates that Chavez appears completely healthy going forward, and obviously still capable of playing a top-shelf center field.

Endy Chavez would once again make a perfect fit for the New York Mets bench. By no means should Chavez occupy the potentially vacant starting center field gig, but considering the team has defensive-dud outfielders like Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, and Daniel Murphy on the roster, Chavez would make an ideal, and cheap late-inning replacement.