Sinusitis, you cheat me of sleep. Joel Sherman, you separate me from sanity.
Contrary to much of the nonsense reported yesterday, this Maine-Hart rumor is completely plausible: both are non-tender candidates; the Brewers are looking for pitching; the Mets are looking for outfielders; and Rick Peterson is the pitching coach of the Brewers. It’s a perfect match.
If nothing else, a Corey Hart acquisition would be consistent with Omar Minaya’s affinity for bad corner outfielders. Hart posted a 4.4 WAR campaign in 2007 on the strength of career highs in BABIP and HR/FB ratio in conjunction with a total +7 center field and right field UZR in small sample sizes (232 innings in CF, 864 innings in RF). As those rates regressed and Corey settled in as the full-time Brewers right fielder, his value plummeted, accruing a measley 1.6 WAR in 2008 and 2009 combined.
I expect many to react to this potential trade thusly: “Maine is always injured and Corey Hart is an All-Star. Good deal for the Mets.” That line of thinking would be wrong. Both will command similar salaries in arbitration and they’re each two full years removed from their last good seasons. Though Maine’s shoulder issues may preclude him from pitching more than 140 innings, he’s likely to outperform a healthy Corey Hart (Maine 2008-2009: 2 WAR). Should his right shoulder fatigue, Maine can be moved to the bullpen or the disabled list for optimal roster performance. There’s no such way to “hide” Corey Hart.
Below average plate discipline, decent power and bad defense at a non-premium position make for a largely unappealing package. He’s Jeff Francoeur 2, a marginal corner outfielder with similar offensive skills, pushed into a starting role to diminishing returns. I fully expect Omar Minaya to be blinded by Hart’s 2008 All-Star Game appearance (ironically he won the final fan vote over David Wright) and back-to-back 20 home run seasons. If only Minaya could swing this deal and the Bengie Molina signing concurrently: “Whenever you have the opportunity to add 40 home runs to your lineup, you’ve got to do it, youknowwhatImsaying?”