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Three Pressing Issues Facing the Mets Going Forward - Part III

By Kevin Casey

So far, I have addressed the two most pressing issues facing the Mets, pitching and first base. Now it is on to a very overlooked issue the Mets face: Catcher.

Projected - Omir Santos/Josh Thole/Henry Blanco
Since the departure of Mike Piazza, the Mets have been lacking behind the plate. While Piazza was not the greatest defensively, his offense is what will put him in Cooperstown and made him the face and name of the past, present, and future of the Mets organization. Paul LoDuca was not a bad player in that he was a New York guy with a New York attitude. He demanded the most out of his pitchers and called an aggressive game. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee you that the pitchers during his tenure with the Mets will say he was their favorite catcher to throw to. With the current Mets lineup and their questionable pitching staff, the Mets should be more concerned with having a defensive catcher to demand the most out of their rotation.
With that in mind, the Mets pursued the best defensive, and offensive, catcher available on the market in Bengie Molina. Not only has he been a gold glove catcher for years, but he can easily put up 20-25 homeruns per season. With that being said, he is 36 and his production and amount of playing time is going to decline this year; mark my words. From the time that the news broke that the Mets were pursuing him, I was not in favor of signing him to anything longer than a 1 year contract. Not surprisingly, Molina was holding out for a guaranteed second year while the Mets were holding firm with a one year guaranteed, second year option offer. Instead of taking that offer, Molina decided to return to the Giants for one year. Many viewed the Mets not signing Molina as a failure. I could not disagree more. The Mets have a history of signing old, declining players to long, overpriced deals. This is a sign that things may be changing in Metsland. Also, I certainly don't want the player that ripped the hear out of Mets fans in 2006 donning the blue and orange this season.
So, in other words, the pressing issue is not so pressing. The Mets should stand pat with what they have right now. They could explore the trade market to try to bring in a veteran, but they should reserve this option to the July deadline if they are in the playoff hunt. Let's not forget, as of now Joe Mauer will be a free agent after this season. There are reports that he and the Twins have agreed to an extension, but nothing is concrete yet. The small market Twins do not have the financial flexibility to sign Mauer to the $20-25 million he will get if he opts for free agency. Even a hometown discount of $18-19 million per year is a stretch for the cash-strapped Twins. If they do somehow find the money to sign Mauer to an extension, then the Twins will be forced to move Justin Morneau. Either of which, so long as the Twins do not stay in contention this year, should be available come July. If the Mets play the 2010 draft correctly, they very well could have the chips to land Mauer or Morneau at the deadline. So while the Mets will not have the scariest catchers in the league, they can deal with it for now. However, this is not a long-term solution and this need MUST be addressed sometime in the near future.


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