Under the Radar: You Guessed It, More Interesting Baseball Moves

There have been lots of moves these past few days. Big names have been signed here and there—for example, Melvin Mora went to the Rockies, Kevin Gregg went to the Blue Jays and Erik Bedard went back to the Mariners. And Yorvit Torrealba went to the Padres, and Adam Kennedy went to the Nationals. And Orlando Hudson went to the Twins, and…you get the picture.

Of course, a bunch of smaller, under the radar transactions have occurred as well, and those are what really matter.

Here’s a name that Mets fans remember all too well: Alex Escobar. Escobar was supposed to be the next big thing, a five-tool superstar, blah blah blah. Needless to say, he didn’t pan out—he ended up playing in only 125 big league games (a whopping 18 as a Met), hitting .258 in 388 at-bats.

He is notable for being a key component in a trade that brought another dud to the New York Mets franchise: the great Roberto Alomar. After his trade to the Indians, he had scant success—he hit .235 in 74 games (an improvement over the .200 he hit with the Mets) with them. The most recent big league team he played for was the Nationals, with whom he actually did pretty well, hitting .356 in 33 games. Still, he hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2006.

Well, he’s back—he recently signed a minor league contract with the Rockies after not playing in 2009. While he once had the skills to be a solid contributor, those skills have waned over this past half-decade or so, and now I don’t see him as being anything more than “average.” That is quite a fall for a guy who was supposed to be huge, the epitome of greatness for the New York Mets.

Speaking of the Mets, they recently signed infielder Luis Hernandez, who had been waived by the Royals in January. Despite hitting .303 in 55 AAA games in 2009, he has a career AAA batting average of .238, in 140 games…which means he has traditionally been a terrible AAA hitter (and how—in 2008, he hit .185 in 57 games). That’s bad, obviously, but in every grey cloud there is a silver lining, and though Luis Hernandez’s silver lining is very small and hard to find, it’s still there: He’s good at defense and can switch hit. There you go.

And just a quick note: The Rockies also signed three other guys: Chris Gissell, Josh Phelps and Bronson Sardinha

…Phelps has the potential to be a very solid bench player, as he has excellent power (he has 189 minor league home runs over 12 seasons, and 253 total professional home runs).

…Gissell doesn’t excite me too much, even though I am impressed by his 14-2 record with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in 2004.

… Sardinha similarly isn’t too exciting, though his middle name is: Kiheimahanaomauiakeo. It’s longer than his entire big league career.

And another quick note: The Mets also signed Travis Blackley, who in 2003 went 17-3 with a 2.61 ERA in Double-A. Unfortunately, he hasn’t posted a season ERA under 3.83 since. But hey, considering he signed with the Mets, he may end up being their winningest pitcher this year.

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