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“Little Sarge” a Stopgap, Ike in the OF

By Jed Weisberger ~ January 31st, 2010. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

All in all, it was a good offseason week for the Mets, Johan Santana’s return to the mound and the re-signing of Fernando Tatis are positive developments.

Santana gives his team all he has as the ace of the staff, while Tatis, at this point, ceratainly appreciates having the opportunity to wear a major-league uniform and contribute.

The other acquisition - outfielder Gary Matthews Jr.  – is the one that makes me wonder. Obviously the Mets need an outfielder until Carlos Beltran returns, and “Little Sarge’’ came cheap, but don’t look for any great contribution from him.

In fact, one of the more direct things Mets general manager Omar Minaya has emphasized is that Matthews will have to earn playing time.  Steroid allegations or not, how often will a contending team agree to pay another $21.5 million to take a player off their hands.

Granted, the Angels, who signed Matthews to a five-year, $50 million pact prior to the 2007 season – perhaps the biggest free-agent mistake of the last decade – had no place for him to play, but this guy had to be sent out of town.

You think Angels manager Mike Scioscia was going to listen to this 35-year-old yelp about not finding playing time?

During his early years of bouncing around, he failed to take the advantage of opportunities in San Diego, Pittsburgh, the Cubs, and Baltimore. Matthews actually played two games for the Mets in 2002.

Finally, in 2004, he found a home in Texas, hitting 47 homers in three seasons (2004-06). The Angels got excited about him after his best season – 2006 – in which he batted .313 (194-for-620), hit 44 doubles, 19 homers and drove in 79 runs.

After signing that big contract, he played regularly for Los Angeles in 2007, hitting 18 homers, but slumping to .252 (130-for-516) in 140 games. Then came 2008 and a .242 (103-for-426) average, followed by 2009, in which he batted .250 (79-for -316).

Give the man credit. He never established himself early in his career, parlayed one good season into a big contract, and never lived up to it.

The Mets simply needed a body in the outfield and Matthews comes with little risk. Maybe he’ll get off to a strong start.

I agree the Mets aren’t looking to rush Ike Davis into the fold. While many think of the 22-year-old (he’ll turn 23 March 22) as a first baseman, others have talked about the Arizona State product as a possible right-fielder.

Several feel, because of his strong arm, Davis would be a natural in right field in not too long a time. Remember that he pitched his freshman year at Arizona State and threw a fastball that registered 92 mph.

One way or another, he has a chance of helping the Mets this season, and, if asked to play right field, he certrainly could.

Hopefully Beltran will be ready to go in May and the Mets will get a break in 2010 as far as injuries are concerned.

To me, Matthews is nothing but a stopgap, a fourth outfielder at best.

Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.
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3 Responses to “Little Sarge” a Stopgap, Ike in the OF

  1. Goldie

    “All in all, it was a good offseason week for the Mets”

    How high do you guys at NYBD get?

  2. R U Kidding

    Davis in right sounds good as it leaves a spot for Murph! Unless Murph can learn second (or catch) he’ll be without a job if Ike comes up. Yeah, Davis in right sounds good.

  3. RonOK

    ” …. All in all, it was a good offseason week for the Mets …. ”

    Did someone publish thr April’s Fools Day article too soon?

    Johan Santana is back on the mound? For 25 pitches? And now all is right with the world?

    Fernando Tatis?

    I really enjoy this site — but this is one of the worst articles I have ever seen ….

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