Mets acquire J.J. Putz

Four hours ago, I wasn’t sure who the Mets were going to find to set up for Francisco Rodriguez, but I was pretty sure they’d use Aaron Heilman to get him.  Well, I was partially right – the Mets used Aaron Heilman and a cast of thousands to help get their setup man, and his name is J.J. Putz.  Here’s a breakdown of who is going where:


J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green


Joe Smith, Luis Valbuena


Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Franklin Guttierez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, Maikel Cleto

Breaking this down…

The Mets essentially replace Aaron Heilman in the setup role with J.J. Putz.  Putz has primarily worked as a closer the past three seasons, racking up 242 strikeouts in 196.3 innings.  This gives the Mets two hard-throwers working the 8th and 9th innings, guys who make the defense irrelevent by racking up strikeouts.  Unlike K-Rod, he doesn’t seem to be all that walk-prone, although he had his issues last year (which could be due to injury). 

But considering how horrible Heilman was in 2008, Putz brings a new look to the 8th innings, and backup in case K-Rod is injured.  This has to be seen as an upgrade for the Mets.  There are risks, mainly regarding Putz’s health, but as long as he’s healthy, it gives the Mets a strong, viable setup man and it helps ease the concerns of Mets fans worried about the bullpen in 2008.  The Mets bullpen has become quite strong tonight thanks to this trade.

I will miss Joe Smith.  I have been a Joe Smith supporter.  But…the difference between Joe Smith and Sean Green isn’t that wide.  They are both essentially the same player; right-handed groundball specialists.  Green is older and hasn’t pitched quite as well as Smith, but will likely be limited to facing exclusively righthanded batters in the 6th or 7th innings.  As far as value, it’s a step down, but not a massive one.

I’m not a huge fan of Endy Chavez.  I hate watching him hit.  I mean…hate, hate, hate watching him hit.  But I’m not sure if I’m down with the Chavez for Reed swap.  When used exclusively as a defensive sub, Chavez has real value.  He’s probably one of the top defensive outfielders in all of baseball.  Reed is good, but not great.  There is a definite defensive downgrade here for the Mets, and considering that the 5th OF is going to play very often, it’s a bit suspect there.

He also isn’t much with the bat.  He had real promise in the minors, but he’s never adapted to major league pitching.  He needs to hit .300 to have any value.  Who knows, maybe HoJo can work wonders, but I liked Chavez when used as a strict defensive replacement.  The thing with Reed is that he does have potential, and if they can figure out how to get him to utilize his abilities, he could wind up being a steal, but for now, he’s a step down.

The Mets traded four minor leaguers in the deal.  Mike Carp has been in the Mets system for a few years.  He showed some promise last year, after struggling in Binghamton the year before, but he was either 3rd or 4th on the Mets’ organizational depth chart at first base (depending on how you feel about “Nasty” Nick Evans) and was expendable.  He’s a good player, but redundant in this organization.

Jason Vargas was acquired two years ago as part of the Matt Lindstrom trade.  He hasn’t pitched great, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him moved to the bullpen in Seattle and for him to do well as a lefty specialist.  It’s too soon to do any real evaluation on Cleto or Carrera, but neither has particularly distinguished themselves in the minors.  Cleto is a hard-thrower, but hasn’t had any success yet.  His strongest value to the Mariners is his youth.  Carrera struggled last year, but is also quite young.

Overall, you have to see the trade as a win for the Mets.  They improved the bullpen again without trading anything of real value to do so.  The Mets now have two lights-out caliber relievers pitching the 8th and 9th, hard-throwing strikeout guys.  Figure the two of them throw about 130-140 innings per season with about 140-160 strikeouts. That’s going to be quite formidable for other teams who used to feast on the Mets in the later innings.  The Mets came into the winter meetings needing to revamp the bullpen and they have done so in dramatic fashion.

4 Responses to “Mets acquire J.J. Putz”

  1. tjv101 says:

    I am sad to see Joe Smith go as well. I liked him a lot and actually he would’ve made the cut as the two Mets I would’ve kept from last season (the other being Feliciano). I am thrilled the Mets have Putz to set up K-Rod even though from reports I have heard, Putz isn’t all that happy about being a set-up man. Well if that’s the case, he can stay in Seattle and lose another 100 games next season. I think he will see what a winning ballclub and playing meaningful games in September might change his tune. As you know I am a big fan of the strikeout especially in later innings. With the 1-2 punch combo of Putz and K-Rod, the Mets 8th and 9th inning is better than any other in the NL (especially since the Cubs have gotten rid of the Marmol-Wood combo).

    I will also miss endy Chavez; probably for no other reason than him being the man who made “The Catch” in a year that the Mets should have won the World Series if not for Aaron Heilman. His defense was good and he was a fan favorite. Maybe he will get more playing time than being just a defensive replacement and a late-inning pinch runner.

    To Heilman…Yes he was on the Mets way too long. He should’ve been traded after the 06 season not the 08 season. He’s cost the Mets a lot of games over the years, blown a shitload of leads, and caused me many headaches. Seattle’s just about as far away as I want him because I hope to never see him again. I will enjoy watching him fail as a starter in Seattle. His fastball and change-up aren’t all that good nor his rare-seen slider that he developed prior to last season. Good riddance.

  2. Chris Wilcox says:

    Man, you were once Heilman’s biggest fan. Anyway, he was a good pitcher in 2007, not so much in 2008, but I bet he bounces back in Seattle. He was hurt all year and tried to pitch through the pain, which probably affected his windup in ways you or I wouldn’t be able to tell just by watching him. He still has good stuff, but he needs a change of scenery, and I think he will thrive in Seattle.

  3. tjv101 says:

    I think he will be pretty bad in Seattle and not fool anyone and be another mediocre 5.00 ERA type of AL pitcher. Lets not forget who else played hurt last year. Johan Santana and Albert Pujols and look how good they wound up. Heilman has killed the Mets for years and side tracked them with his aspirations of starting. He is finished as far as I am concerned.

  4. Chris Wilcox says:

    Johan wasn’t hurt in spring training, and from all accounts his injury didn’t affect his windup either. At some point, it probably would have been better for the team to shut down Heilman rather than continue to run him out there, but the fact remains that he’s a pretty good pitcher and to let one good year obscure the good he did for the Mets from 2005-2007 is ridiculous.

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