Mets non-tender Paulino and Baxter; Tender contracts to Pelfrey, Acosta

Photo by Michael G. Baron

As expected, the New York Mets non-tendered catcher Ronny Paulino and outfielder Mike Baxter while tendering contracts to both Manny Acosta and Mike Pelfrey, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

This move should come as no surprise as it was reported a couple weeks back by Andy Martino of the Daily News that some officials within the New York Mets organization were very displeased with the play and attitude of Paulino this past season. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:

A team source said at the winter meetings in Dallas last week that the organization had all but resolved to stay internal with its major league catching for 2012 because the free agents had warts as well and the preference was to concentrate the available dollars on bullpen spending.”

So, with Paulino gone, the move opens the door for Mike Nickeas to serve as the back-up to Josh Thole in 2012, though the team did  signed 27-year-old catcher Lucas May to a minor league deal yesterday and Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted that New York may still consider Pudge Rodrgiuez an option:

#astros, #rays possibilities for pudge. #mets also have discussed but are leaning toward nickeas as backup.
@JonHeymanCBS
Jon Heyman

Nickeas, known for his defense, batted .189 over 53 at-bats for the Mets in 2011 with two extra base hits — one home run — while driving in six runs:

Acosta, who was brilliant at times in the second half for the Mets (1.86 July ERA, 1.32 August ERA), finished the season 4-1 with a 3.45 earned run average while striking out 46 batters over 47 innings pitched.  According to MLB Trade Rumors, Acosta should net $1.1 million through arbitration this upcoming season:

Like Acosta, Pelfrey should also see a pay raise this season ($5.8 M according to MLBTR) even though the 27-year-old right hander is coming off, arguably,  the worst year of his career:

While I am sure there are plenty of Mets fans displeased with the notion of bringing Pelf back, I am not one of them. The one thing Pelfrey has provided the Mets with over his tenure, besides finger-licking heartburn, is an ability to stay healthy while giving  the club a high number of innings pitched each season; which should not go overlooked.

Photo taken by Michael Baron

Over the last four seasons Mike has made no less than 31 starts while tossing close to 200 frames in each; even eclipsing that number in 2008 (200 2/3) and 2010 (204). Knowing that every fifth day you have a durable starter who can go out there and be an innings-eater  — the quality of those inning not withstanding — has, in itself, become valuable in Major League Baseball.  I used to take that for granted but have come to realize that it’s simply not something that is not easily replaceable.  In 2011, for example, less than 40 starters hit the 200 innings mark.  Mike almost hit that number and was one of 44 starters to make that same list in 2010.

The bottom line here is that Pelfrey may never become a front of the rotation starter as some envisioned, but at this point is his career I am o.k. with that.   Sometimes you have to look at a player for what he is, not what you wanted him to be, and decide from there if he is still an asset for your team.  In my mind Big Pelf can serve still as a key cog in the Mets 2012 rotation, it’s just a matter of the fanbase accepting as a whole that he won’t be leading it.  With the future of the staff resting on the shoulders of such youngsters as Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and Jeurys Familia, keeping Pelf around for one more year just doesn’t seem like a bad investment.

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