So, the Mets got Johan Santana for what appears to me (and others) to be easily a less valuable package of prospects than the D-backs gave up for Danny Haren, or that the Mariners were rumored to be giving up for Erik Bedard before that whole thing blew up over the weekend. Go figure. That said, while the deal puts the Mets out in front of the NL East right now, they're in a similar boat to the D-backs in that their farm will have to be rebuilt quickly to maintain their dominance.
This does put more pressure on the Rockies own playoff ambitions for 2008, as being in the Wild Card chase is much less certain at this point, particularly when combined with less heralded moves around the NL such as the Phillies acquisition of Pedro Feliz. The Phils weren't getting any offense from their third basemen last season anyway, so upgrading the defense by as much as Feliz does definitely helps them. We've now seen three of the four other teams in that 88-90 win tier make upgrades this offseason, two significantly, as well as three of the four (Dodgers, Cubs, Brewers) in the 82-85 win range make enough upgrades to be considered real threats. I don't buy the Braves right now and I believe that the Padres are going to be heading south this season. Our own chances right now seem to hinge on keeping the Dodgers at bay and hoping that the Diamondbacks players disappoint while ours don't. I think we've got an okay shot at those things happening but we've still got to be considered underdogs right now. I would have loved to see a more certain upgrade to our team this winter to help us keep up the pace for 2008, and I hope the gamble to sacrifice that for even better shots in 2009 and beyond pays off.
When was the last time a team, any team, found success by targeting a player solely for his speed and no other reason? Otis Nixon with the Braves in the nineties maybe? I'm drawing a blank here. So enter Scott Podsednik, who wants a pinch runner job and seems as much a disaster in the making as Steve Finley was at this time last year. Pods' career line against RHP's is .277/.341/.384. Willy Taveras has put up .300/.343/.350 and Ryan Spilborghs' .275/.332/.440. So the left handed Podsednik isn't markedly better than the right handed options -or Cory Sullivan for that matter- and yet you know Clint Hurdle will be tempted to keep him on the roster and use him instead because of the bling on his finger and the fleet in his foot. Speed's a great luxury to have. We all love watching players who have that added dimension to their game, but the moment you start structuring your player evaluation philosophy around it, you've taken a dangerous step toward the land of the Also-Rans, and there are Giants there. Speed should be a bonus you get with players who have other skills, not what you look for in acquiring them.
You know by now that I'm big on building the depth of the ballclub. The more arms we can get the better as long as they're attached to the shoulder somehow. Catchers woohoo- everybody needs lots of catchers. I'm even fine in targeting other legit defensive specialists up the middle as long as you have legit bats in front of them. Unfortunately that's not what we did here. Despite his speed, Scott's worse defensively in center than Sullivan or Spilborghs. Worse in left than Matt Holliday. Podsednik just doesn't qualify in any category that really matters though, he's not good defensively, he's less than mediocre as a hitter, and even his CS rate is too high. Even as a AAA emergency filler this looks like a bad decision. I'm sorry, there's simply no way I can look favorably on this move and hope the team comes to its senses by early March in letting him walk.