Opinion: Pitching, Speed and Defense

The Mets confuse me. They really do. I mean, I can’t say acquiring Gary Matthews Jr. from the Angels is a bad move, considering they’ll be paying him just $1.25 million each of the next two seasons. I’m actually fine with it. But, it just seems odd to me that they felt it necessary to give up a decent relief pitcher, making very little money, for a player who has shown very little promise since 2006.

I don’t know, I guess I assume it would have been easier to sign a guy like Eric Byrnes, for one season by the way, then cut Stokes if he was really that expendable and his roster spot was needed. But, maybe I don’t know the market like I think I do.

The thing is, that isn’t what concerns me; because, who knows, maybe Matthews is ‘in the best shape of his life,’ which I am sure someone will write this Spring, and maybe he becomes an outstanding fourth outfielder. The move is weird, but I understand how the team justifies it. Nevertheless, he’s not the issue.

The issue, to me, is: how does acquiring Matthews fit in to the overall plan to be better? Actually, come to think of it, what is the overall plan to be better?

I mean, I look at the Mariners, and I read that article yesterday for MLB.com, and what jumped out at me was that they clearly have an idea, and they speak of it, talking quite often about how, because they play in Safeco Park, they need to build a team around defense and speed and pitching. And so, what did they do this off season? They got rid of Carlos Silva, they let go of Erik Bedard, Russel Branyan and Adrian Beltre, and they acquired Chone Figgins, Brandon League, Casey Kotchman, Jack Wilson, Cliff Lee and inked two of the better, young players in baseball, Felix Hernandez and Franklin Gutierrez, to long-term extensions.

The Mets, who also play in a pitcher’s park, talk a lot of pitching, speed and defense, too. Omar Minaya has been talking about it on air and in interviews since he took the job in 2004. In fact, last October, in an interview with WFAN, Jeff Wilpon said Minaya and his staff intend to always build a team around pitching, speed and defense, and so he built a ballpark with that in mind. However, this off season, they acquired Jason Bay, and tried to get Bengie Molina, neither of which fall in to the idea of pitching, speed and defense… not even close. This is not to say the Mets haven’t tried to re-adjust their make-up. For all I know they have, i.e., Joel Pineiro, John Lackey, etc., and things just haven’t worked out as they hoped.

However, as of now, it terms of what they have to show for this off season, I see Bay and a of bunch intriguing, but questionable relief pitchers. And so, moves like acquiring Matthews, though perhaps fine as a single transaction, still seem off message and out of step from what management claims to want, and from what the fans want, meaning the Mets come across as seeming confused, as if they’re just making random moves for the sake of filling roster spots. Which is not to say this is what they’re doing. It just seems that way. And so, it makes sense then, that I, as well as other fans, would also seem confused.