The U Files #17: The Replacement Reliever

Steve Phillips has done something so ugly it might have made him sick last year: he signed an old reliever without giving up a draft pick. The Mets, who have acted like they're allergic to draft picks, signed Mike Stanton, who had not been offered arbitration by the Yanks. I'm sure Phillips threw up when he found out he had not wasted a draft pick. There are still plenty of chances to lose what draft choices we have, and he did manage not to acquire any despite losing three type A free agents.

The Mets let Mark Guthrie walk without offering him arbitration, which in addition to missing out on a high draft pick, cost the Mets their go-to lefty reliever. As he was coming off a career year and could demand more than he's worth for what's likely to be middling performance, it's not a bad choice not to re-sign Guthrie. Stanton, signed for a 3 year, $9 million deal with a full no trade clause, has generally been an above average pitcher. His career ERA is 16 percent better than the league average, and he's been above average in 10 of the last 11 years. In 1997, his 5.47 ERA was 18 percent higher than the league average ERA. On the other hand, he'll be 36 next year and 38 in the last year of the contract. But, if the pitching doesn't work out, he owns a .971 OPS in 18 career plate appearances.

Also, the Mets lost prospect Enrique Cruz in the Rule V draft. The Milwaukee Brewers took the 20-year-old third baseman with the first pick of the draft. The thing that burns is, the Mets have a few really worthless players on the 40-man roster, which could easily have been spared to protect Cruz. Joe Orloski? Doug Nickle?

Do you have an opinion on the Mets? Be sure to let us know on the message board. is always looking for die-hard Mets fans who would like to be writers for the site. Click here to learn more on how to become a Mets beat writer for

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories