$2 million dollars.
Doesn't seem like much (in baseball terms), does it? Well, in this case, $2 million dollars brought the Mets Alex Cora, a utility infielder with a great leadership pedigree, but limited offensive and defensive ability. Sure, there are some who will bitch and moan about the Mets spending $2 million on a backup middle infielder, but to me, this move is a strong statement by the Mets front office.
And here's why. In 2009, shortstop Jose Reyes missed nearly the entire season with various leg issues and ailments. Eventually, Reyes was forced to undergo surgery in October to repair a torn hamstring. At this point, no one knows how Reyes will recover from his injuries, how he will perform once he comes back, when Reyes will be able to come back, and most importantly, if Reyes will be the same player he was prior to the injuries.
All of these unknowns make Alex Cora a potentially vital player for the Mets in 2010. The responsibility falls on Cora to pick up the slack and play everyday at shortstop for the Mets in 2010 if Reyes is hurt. This contract is a sure sign that the Mets front office trusts Cora to be a steady force at shortstop for a prolonged period of time. No one can honestly expect Cora to fully replace Reyes's production, but clearly the Mets think highly enough of Cora to hand him a $2 million dollar contract in a down economy.
But the real question is this: should the Mets feel comfortable with Alex Cora as their starting shortstop in 2010? Cora's 2009 performance (.251, .320 OBP, 1 HR) reflects that he is a below average hitter at this stage in his career and his -7.8 UZR suggests that he is actually a defensive liability at shortstop. Is this a guy who you would trust to play 100+ games if need be?
That's the two million dollar question.
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Game 157: Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
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