Potential Off-Season Targets: Endy Chavez
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.