The Mets did indeed sign Shinjo today for one year at $600 K plus incentives. The AP says that he was signed as insurance in case the projected regular center fielder, Roger Cedeno fails. This is a tremendous vote of confidence for Cedeno and also a poor plan. Should Cedeno fail, are the Mets prepared to eat the remaining three years and $14.5 M on his contract? They have been rumored to be shopping him around, but it is extremely doubtful that anyone would be willing to take on his salary.
Lost in all of this, as I said before, is the starting center fielder and best offensive Met outfielder from last year, Timo Perez. Ostensibly, Perez is now the fifth outfielder behind the three designated starters (Cedeno, Cliff Floyd, and Jeromy Burnitz) and Shinjo. Shinjo can play all three outfield positions well and was brought in potentially to replace Cedeno, so I assume he becomes the #4 outfielder. So where does that leave Perez? Apparently, he will be fighting Brady Clark and Joe McEwing for the last one or two spots available in the outfield.
That would be great, just great. Perhaps McEwing will be retained because of his versatility and Clark for flashes of talent after being acquired form the Reds last year (including a 3-for-3 game). It would make sense because two starters (Burnitz and Floyd) bat left-handed and the third is a switch-hitter. The Mets would probably prefer to retain the two right-handed bats over Perez' lefty one. That would mean the Perez would be traded, demoted, or released. Perhaps the Phillies can pick him up. He would be a superior to Ricky Ledee as a sub for Marlon Byrd. Whatever happens, it is highly probable that Perez will no longer be an integral part of the team in 2003 and he is probably the least deserving of such an honor of all the Mets' disappointing outfielders.
One last item related to Perez, he made $205K last year as a third-year veteran. That's only $5K over the major-league minimum. Perez would also be the cheapest of all of the players concerned (except perhaps for Clark). So the apparent rejection of him makes little sense based on performance or on salary. That's a twin killing for GM extraordinaire Steve Phillips. How does he do it?