It's one thing not to want to sign Manny Ramirez to what could be the second-highest annual contract in baseball. But the Post's Joel Sherman reports that the Mets are looking to get rid of backup catcher Ramon Castro to save $2.8 million. According to Sherman, the Mets think Robinson Cancel can do just as good a job as backup catcher.
Last year, Brian Schneider was injured several times and only played in 110 games. And when he did play, Schneider was not a great hitter, especially against lefties, against whom the lefty Schneider batted only .187.
So the Mets need a good backup catcher, ideally one with a strong righthanded bat. And Ramon Castro has shown that he can fill that bill. Castro's production did tail off last year, especially after the All-Star break, when he batted only .197. But he's still a lot more of a proven commodity than Cancel, who got into 27 games last year after being out of the major leagues since 1999.
If Cancel were a young, promising prospect, that would be one thing. But Cancel turns 32 this season. He's only two months younger than Castro and several months older than Schneider.
The last two years suggest that the Mets would be wise to keep all three catchers in their system. In both 2007 and 2008, the Mets' top two catchers went down, forcing the team to turn to the likes of Mike DeFelice, Raul Casanova, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Cancel.
If the Mets truly believe that Cancel is just as good as Castro, that's one thing.
But getting rid of Castro to save what amounts to 2% of the projected payroll could come back to haunt the Mets.
At yesterday's Oliver Perez news conference, Jeff Wilpon included money owed to Billy Wagner and Willie Randolph when discussing what the Mets' payroll would be in 2009. Fortunately, the Mets realized that the money still owed to Wagner should have no bearing on getting a new closer for this year.
But if the Mets had been willing to eat Willie Randolph's contract earlier, they might have won the division last year. And if they get rid of Castro to offset the cost of paying Randolph the $2.5 million owed to him this year, they could jeopardize their chances in 2009.