Coleman: 2 Big Arms Shore Up Mets’ Biggest Need

By Ed Coleman
» More from Eddie C.

It didn’t take long.

After enduring heavy criticism for letting Jose Reyes escape, the Mets moved swiftly and decisively on Tuesday night to shore up their biggest offseason need — reshaping their bullpen.

They signed two free agent relievers: Jon Rauch to be a setup man for the new closer Frank Francisco. Both were with Toronto last season, and Rauch set up Francisco for the most part with the Blue Jays in 2011. In addition, the Mets pulled off a trade with the San Francisco Giants, sending Angel Pagan out west for new leadoff hitter and center fielder Andres Torres while also getting righty reliever Ramon Ramirez to further fortify the pen.

So how did this all come about? Well, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton were already off the closer board — all but Broxton probably beyond the Mets’ financial capabilities anyway. The Mets liked Matt Capps to a point, but with Nathan gone to Texas, the Twins liked him more and elected to re-sign him and keep him in Minnesota.

The key move of the day for the Mets was the somewhat surprising trade of young White Sox closer Sergio Santos to Toronto. Santos racked up 30 saves while notching a whopping 13 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Nice numbers. Also, Santos’ contract is extremely advantageous to the Blue Jays — a reasonable $8.25 million for 3 years, and the contract comes with 3 option years. That allowed the Mets to jump on Rauch and then follow up with Francisco.

The 33-year-old Rauch is an imposing figure at 6′-10″ and he was given a 1-year, $3.5 million deal plus incentives. Rauch went 5-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 53 games for Toronto last season, saving 11 games in 16 chances. He had 21 saves for Minnesota in 2010. He will set up Francisco and close for him when Francisco is unavailable.

Francisco was signed to a 2-year, $12 million deal. He was 1-4 with a 3.55 ERA and 17 saves in 54 appearances for the Blue Jays last year. He struck out 9 1/2 batters per 9 innings pitched in 2011 – which was his lowest total over the last 4 years. Francisco’s best season came in 2009 when he saved 25 games for Texas.

As for the Mets-Giants trade, it quite possibly could be traced back to the trading deadline last July.

Several sources told me at that time that the two clubs had talked about expanding the Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler deal to include a swap of the underachieving center fielders as part of the package. It didn’t work out then, but it may have worked out better for the Mets this way because they garner another usable and capable bullpen arm in Ramirez.

Torres is an interesting story. He’ll be 34 in January, is an above average defensive center fielder, and has lots of family in New York and New Jersey. Both he and Pagan were candidates to be non-tendered this off-season — Torres hit a measly .221 with just 4 HR and 19 RBI — and the Mets can control him for 2 more years. Torres is arbitration-eligible and will probably make about $2.5 million in 2012. He’s mostly been a career minor-leaguer who broke in with the Tigers back in 2002. He was with Detroit for 3 years before going to Texas in 2005. Torres then disappeared until 2009 when he played sparingly with San Francisco.

But in 2010 — when the Giants won the World Series — he had a breakthrough career season and became a huge fan favorite. Torres batted .268 with 16 HR and 63 RBI, along with 43 doubles and 26 stolen bases. Both teams are hoping that a change of scenery will help Torres and Pagan return to their 2010 form.

As for Ramirez, he has a great slider which helped him to a 3-3 mark and 2.62 ERA in 66 appearances for the Giants last year. And he provides further depth to the end-of-game tableau that the Mets sorely need to improve.

So what’s next? The Mets probably have about $5-6 million, maybe a little more, to spend on a utility infielder (like Jack Wilson) and two backup outfielders.

The backup catching situation may have to be solved from within. But after Reyes’ departure, they helped themselves considerably on Tuesday night.

C U soon
Eddie C.

Mets fans: What do you think of the move? Let us know in the comments below…

  • Mr. Baseball

    Hey Mess,you’re season is over before it starts,again.By the way,after 2012 you will have to find a new AAA team,maybe Vegas,Because the Bisons will kick you out.

  • Marc Weiss

    Deck chairs are being shuffled as the Titanic sinks further…

  • Nate Boone

    Where is the power going to come from?Ike will probably hit low to mid twenties,who knows about Bay and Wright,Torres can’t replace Reyes n the leadoff spot,noone can. We have no pitching, don’t give me Johan,and plz don’t say Pelfry.Glavine and Martinez both were robbed of numerous wins because of poor offensive teams,and they were our aces,Johan has suffered some of the same fate. This team now and in the near future are headed for some rocky times.The farm does look good now but that group is still 5+ yrs away.I don’t even know how the mets recover from the Reyes loss,the one exciting player on a team of boring guys and boring play,this team is going to be so un-watchable.

  • Steven Dimartino

    Yawn, the team isn’t better at all with a huge hole at SS. Besides if any of these players are good, the Mets will have to trade them because Coupons are broke.

  • Pete Spaz

    Ed i like the moves last night…they got tougher as well. Rauch and Francisco are hot heads w/ some attitude and they can pitch too! Ramirez has a wicked arm… for Torres, we’re better defensively and also tougher in CF… thumbs up!

  • LongTimeFan

    Pretty good trade in improving the badly needed upgrade at CF and getting bullpen arm. Pagan’s the better offensive player with greater upside but Torres is classy fellow, hard-working, humble type who plays hard, comes to NY with built in support from friends and family with chance for fresh start.

    I don’t know that we know at this point whether the CF job is his, or his to earn, but I’m excited by his above average outfield D and the opportunity to increase his OBP by buying into Hudgen’s philosophy. We’ll see what happens but overall, good trade for the Mets. Good luck, Angel Pagan as well who could possibly be united with his mentor Beltran who also mentored Torres in the offseason prior to his breakout season as I’m sure Mets fans and media will learn soon enough.

    • ...

      Torres is classy fellow, hard working, you sound like you personally know this mutt. You don’t win games by being classy, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.

      If you need to knock the SS or 2nd baseman down, knock his *ss down. If you need to run over the catcher, run his *ss over. This is MLB not girls’ softball, oh wait, we’re talking about the Mets here, they are girls’ softball.

      • Anton Liebzeit

        you are a right on a few things here, but the thing that is so stupid, is when people call players classy………what the hell does that mean ???

        answer, ! it means you have nothing to say

      • Master Shake

        The stupid thing I’ve ever heard is…

        “Torres is classy fellow, hard working, you sound like you personally know this mutt. You don’t win games by being classy, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.

        If you need to knock the SS or 2nd baseman down, knock his *ss down. If you need to run over the catcher, run his *ss over. This is MLB not girls’ softball, oh wait, we’re talking about the Mets here, they are girls’ softball.”

        • ...

          you sound upset Masterbater, still can’t get over “Overrated” Reyes leaving the losers? LOL, LOL, LOL

        • Mordecai Dracula

          Yeah. I agree. What the hell is he even talking about? What a moron.

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