The Mets have reached agreement with infielder Ronny Cedeno on a one-year deal, worth just north of $1 million. The Mets had no backup shortstop on the roster so Cedeno certainly fills a need. He’s very good insurance in case Ruben Tejada regresses or if Daniel Murphy gets injured again.

Cedeno is not much with the bat in his hands, as he has a lifetime OPS+ of 68 in 2,309 PA. But he is a good baserunner, despite last year’s SB/CS numbers, and he is a fine defensive shortstop. Last year he had a +8 DRS and a 6.8 UZR/150. For a comparison, Jose Reyes was below average in both metrics last year, with a -11 DRS and a -3.6 UZR/150.

The main question seems to be if he will be content in a back-up role. Cedeno, who will turn 29 in February, has topped 450 PA three times in his career, including the past two seasons. Will he accept getting just the 150 PA or so that a typical reserve middle infielder gets? Or does he figure that with the recent injury history of the Mets, he’s bound to wind up closer to the 454 PA he got in 2011.

HAIRSTON REJOINS METS – The Mets also addressed their need for a backup outfielder, re-signing Scott Hairston to a one-year deal, with a similar dollar value to Cedeno’s. After a dismal month of April, where he posted a .565 OPS in 34 PA, Hairston put up a .255/.315/.520 line over his final 111 PA before having his season cut short with an oblique injury in late August.

An experienced pinch-hitter capable of playing all three outfield positions, Hairston provides a solid bench option for the Mets. Like with the Cedeno deal, in Hairston Sandy Alderson picked up a low-cost bench player more than capable of filling in should one of the starters go down for an extended period of time.

NOW ABOUT THAT 40-MAN ROSTER – Both of these moves also create a problem, as the Mets are at their limit with the 40-man roster. Last year Hairston came in on a minor league deal, but I could find no reference to the contracts for either Cedeno or Hairston being that way. Most people would assume that two of the minor league pitchers like Jeremy Hefner, Armando Rodriguez or Josh Stinson would be removed to make room for the newest additions. There’s also been speculation about Fernando Martinez.

However, Justin Turner should not be sleeping soundly right now, either. In Cedeno, the Mets have another player capable of filling in at 2B. In Hairston, the Mets have a superior RH bat off the bench. Typically, a five-man bench consists of a catcher, two infielders and two outfielders. If Cedeno is the back-up middle infielder then will the Mets be content to forego the traditional backup corner infielder?

With Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy also on the roster, they very well might. Duda and Murphy have experience at first base while the latter also covers third base. Still, it’s far from a given that Turner makes the Opening Day roster, as he had just a .648 OPS in his final 388 PA. And the Mets may need to open up an additional spot on the 40-man if either Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen makes the team as the fifth outfielder.

METS HIRE CRG PARTNERS – By now you have probably heard that the Mets hired CRG, the firm that assisted the Rangers in their bankruptcy sale. Of course, the Mets have vigorously denied that the reason they retained CRG had anything to do with bankruptcy but rather they are around to help with analyzing financial statements, and deal with business projections. The knee-jerk reaction is to claim the Mets are being dishonest.

But which one seems more likely – the Wilpons hiring an outside firm to handle some very necessary business planning without realizing that the media would connect the dots, see CRG’s previous high-profile baseball customer and leap to the bankruptcy conclusion or that they are planning ahead for a graceful exit strategy? Nothing in the past three years has given any indication that the Wilpons plan to leave if there’s a whiff of a hint of a sliver of a chance to retain control of the team. I think in this case we should take the Mets at their word.

We all want new ownership with deep pockets. The Wilpons want to retain control of the Mets and their majority stake in SNY. There is a lot of debt but there is also the chance to make a lot of money if the Wilpons can ride out the current storm. If the minority investors come through, which seems a reasonable chance, they will be able to pay back the bridge loan and likely meet their debt payments. The big unknown is the Madoff lawsuits. A win for Irving Picard likely means that the Wilpons have to sell. Unless the clawback suits are decided against them in a decisive way, it’s unlikely the Wilpons will put the Mets up for sale.

SANTANA THROWS – The latest report on Johan Santana is that he is throwing on consecutive days from a distance of 75 feet. This seems like good news, although it’s anyone’s guess if this means he will be on the mound for Opening Day. The signings of Cedeno and Hairston were welcome news, but I still hope the Mets add a SP before Spring Training starts. Even if Santana is ready at the start of the year, it sure would be nice to have someone push Dillon Gee for the final spot in the rotation. In Gee’s last 17 starts he had a 5.51 ERA. He allowed 14 HR in his final 94.2 IP and it’s hard to imagine those numbers improving with the fences coming in.

METS-RAYS RUMORS – Recently the Mets and Rays were linked to a potential deal. While I think the two clubs are excellent trade partners, I want no part of a Daniel Murphy-Wade Davis swap. Last year Davis had a 4.45 ERA and it wasn’t due to poor luck, as he had a 4.67 FIP and a 4.82 xFIP. He lost nearly a full point on his K/9 ratio, which fell to 5.14 after being 6.05 in 2010. Davis is another Mike Pelfrey and one of those guys is enough, thanks.

5 comments on “Mets Notes: Cedeno, Hairston, 40-man issues and CRG

  • AJ

    Great update, Brian. I appreciate getting a summary of recent Mets developments plus your analysis.

    Any thoughts as to why management went with Hairston over Willie Harris? I thought Harris did a good job for the Metsies last year, but I admit I haven’t looked at his numbers next to Hairston’s. I just like that Harris seems to have a real positive attitude, always seems to be giving his all and can play just about anywhere. Hairston has greater potential power as a hitter and maybe he’s younger(?), but when it comes to versatility and the personality/character side of the equation I don’t think he matches up well to Harris. What’s your take?

    • Brian Joura

      Harris will be 34 in June while Hairston will be 32 in May.

      I think in addition to his power, Hairston has the edge in that he can play CF on a regular basis. Furthermore, here were their splits last year:

      As Starter
      Harris – .715 OPS
      Hairston – .778 OPS

      As Sub
      Harris – .565
      Hairston – .766

      I do think Harris provided some intangibles – I just don’t see how that outweighs the tangible advantages Hairston enjoys.

      BTW – if you get a chance, check out the Q&A I did with Amelie Mancini on 12/30. I think you’d enjoy it.

  • Metsense

    The Mets have needed to upgrade their starting pitching this winter. They chose not to sign Reyes and Capuano, a savings of about $15M in salary that was not invested back into a 77 win team. That money should have gone back into a starter, then Gee would be getting pushed and insurance would be there if a starter (like Santana) were to get injured. At this point in time, it is imperative that the Mets sign a Malholm, Francis, Harden type, just to insure that a potentially bad season doesn’t turn into a disastrous season if a starter goes down.

    • Bus

      Maholm will likely get a multi-year deal, my guess is in Boston. Harden is as good a bet to pitch 100 innings as Ron Darling at this point. Francis, they should look into, if he’ll come on a one year deal.

      You have to note that the rotation they start the year with will unlikely be the one they end with. Schwinden can eat innings, as could potentially McHugh, and Harvey and Familia could be late season call ups.

  • […] might recall about this time last year the Mets hired the firm CRG to analyze their financial statements and help with business projections. But when the news broke, […]

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