A Star Returns, And A Role Player Departs
Posted by JD on July 15, 2010
Carlos Beltran is back! That’s the main story tonight as the Mets return from the All-Star Break. I’m sure he’ll be rusty and I’m sure he’ll need time to get his game back, but he’s an instant upgrade over Jeff Francoeur and a boost to the offense. It feels like forever since I’ve seen him play (or 10 months at least) and I can’t wait for his first at-bat tonight. It’s a much needed jolt of energy for me (as a fan): I look forward to watching him again.
This being the Mets that we’re talking about, of course there’s negative injury news to balance out my Beltran euphoria. Jose Reyes has again been limited to swinging from the right side only and is riding the pine tonight as the San Francisco Giants start Tim Lincecum tonight. I’ll admit to waffling on this one: half a Reyes is so much better than a whole Alex Cora that I can see why the Mets are reluctant to bench him. I can’t shake the feeling that this will end poorly, but I hearby waive my right to criticize the Mets for this move: I don’t think they’re wrong to keep him active. I’d much rather just continue to slam them for not signing Felipe Lopez instead of Cora in the offseason.
But I digress: the departure I refer to in my post title is that of Fernando Tatis, who was moved to the 60-day DL after he went under the knife on Wednesday. This move almost definitely ends his season, and most likely, his career. I know Tatis has been ridiculed by many Mets fans for the better part of two seasons, but I never quite thought that was fair. Signed to a minor league contract in 2008, Tatis was a revelation that year. He hit 11 home runs and had an 123 OPS+ while backing up in right and left field and first and third base.
He re-signed for $1.7 million in 2009, and while his 13 GIDPs earned him the wrath of many a Mets’ fan, he hit 8 homers and had a 105 OPS+ while adding second base and shortstop to his defensive resume. He wasn’t a whiz with the glove at those positions but he didn’t embarrass himself, either. Add in the fact that he served as the Mets’ emergency catcher and it’s clear that he was worth more than Cora, who had a 69 OPS+ last season while making $2 million dollars. Tatis was actually one of their better players during that lost season, and he took far more criticism than he deserved.
He re-signed again, this time for just $850,000 (or $1 million less than the aforementioned Cora). 2010 was admittedly a down year for Tatis, who found himself in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse, who limited him to a mere 72 plate appearances this season. Still, his 59 OPS+ is higher than Cora’s 58*.
*Can you tell I don’t care that much for Cora as a player?
When all was said and done, he was worth 3.3 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) for the Mets, not a bad return for the roughly $3 million they spent on him. By comparison, Cora has been worth -1.6 WAR. I’ll say it again: Tatis was worth almost five wins more than Cora. Think about that the next time you want to run him down. His career with the Mets may not be over, but if it is, this fan will remember him as a useful bench player acquired for a reasonable price. Tatis may not have helped them reach the playoffs, but he wasn’t the reason why they missed them either. I thank him for his service and wish him nothing but the best in the future.
That said, it’s time to watch the return of Carlos Beltran. The rest of the season starts today, and hopefully Beltran’s return key’s a successful road trip. Let’s Go Mets!