For the second straight year, the Mets have acquired an aging malcontent OF named Gary who has been linked to PEDs and whose former team was willing to eat eight figures in salary.
Last year, the Tigers still owed Gary Sheffield $14 million when they gave him the boot. This year, the Angels are reported to be eating $21 million of Gary Matthews Jr.'s contract. But they are also getting back reliever Brian Stokes.
Last season, Matthews had closed-door meetings with both manager Mike Scioscia and GM Tony Reagins over playing time and staged a one-day walkout in spring training. After the season, he asked to be traded. But Scioscia called Matthews a "terrific teammate" and said that calling Matthews a"disruptive influence or … unhappy in our clubhouse was 180 degrees" from the actual situation.
In February 2007, SI.com reported that in 2004, Matthews had been sent HGH. Matthews denied the allegations and MLB found that there was insufficient evidence to discipline him.
I was opposed to the Sheffield move at the time, but he ended up helping the Mets more than I expected. He was able to play the field and remain healthy enough to get 312 plate appearances, as well as not causing any clubhouse problems for much of the year. But by the end of the season, Sheffield was both disgruntled and injured.
At 35, Matthews is five years younger than Sheffield was last year. Matthews has also been an outfielder when he plays, unlike Sheffield, who had not played much outfield since 2005 when the Mets acquired him.
Unlike Sheffield, however, who has put up Hall of Fame numbers throughout his career, Matthews has had one good season. Last year, Matthews' numbers were not even as good as Sheffield's:
Matthews: PA 360; HR 4; RBI 50; BA .250; OBP .336; SLG .361; OPS .697
Sheffield: PA 268; HR 10; RBI 43; BA .276; OBP .372; SLG 451; OPS .823
In his 11-year career, Matthews has had an OPS over .800 only twice, both times playing in Texas' great hitting park. Now he gets to try his luck in Citi Field.
It is late January, and while the Mets did sign Jason Bay, the projected lineup might well include Matthews and Henry Blanco. And possibly Fernando Tatis in a first base platoon.
Meanwhile, the rotation after Johan Santana continues to be subpar. And the bullpen loses a potentially valuable arm. Not to mention that going into 2010, Stokes was one of the few Mets not coming off an injury.
Both Bengie Molina and Joel Pineiro had a lot of question marks, but acquiring one of them would had given at least some reason for hope in 2010. Instead, the Mets, who now seem to be a place where nobody wants to play, take on a player whose team was willing to eat $21 million to see him go.