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Hot Corner Hot Potato It
2003-01-09 16:33
by Mike Carminati

Hot Corner Hot Potato

It appears that the Mets deal with the Red Sox and Expos, in which New York would acquire third baseman Shea Hillenbrand and the Sox would finally get Bartolo Colon, will never happen. Earlier today there was talk of the Expos sending Colon to the Marlins in a package including Brad Penny. Now ESPN reports that those negotiations because third-wheel Cincinnati, who would receive Penny, has concerns about his arm. Nothing has gone smoothly for Expo GM Omar Minaya in the MLB-mandated process to rid the 'Spos of Colon's contract.

Meanwhile, the Mets may have to look elsewhere for a third sacker. A trade directly with the Red Sox, who just signed Bill Mueller, is still possible. The Mets may have to re-open negotiations with free agents Jose Hernandez and Tyler Houston.

Free-agent journeyman, Chris Stynes, was just signed ostensibly to play third base for the Rockies. Stynes has only played 198 games at third in his career and according to has played it poorly (a range factor 70 points below average). He has also played second, so range shouldn't be an issue. However, reactions and arm accuracy and strength could definitely be a problem. Stynes had a career three years ago with Cincinnati. Since then Boston and the Cubs have both given him short trials at third. Both found him wanting. Now, the Rockies will give him a go. Of course, salary enters the conversation right about here.

Jose Hernandez, though mainly a shortstop, is clearly the best player here. He was arguably the best shortstop in the NL last year. No one seems to want to sign him while they can get someone cheaper. The Mets would do well to snatch up Hernandez while he is cheap (they had recently been discussing a Rey-Sanchez like $1.5 M, one-year contract). Hernandez deserves to be treated better, but given this odd offseason, he may be left standing when the music stops. The strangest part is that not only will the metaphorical chairs be occupied by inferior players, the GMs of the teams that own the chairs will be the ones helping these subpar players into the chairs. So endeth the metaphor.

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