Mets catcher might bolt town

Without Mike Piazza, the Mets would be shorn of the one marquee name they have left in their lineup.

Updated: November 14, 2003, 8:03 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Has Mike Piazza reached the limit of his patience with the Mets? Long Island Newsday is reporting that a "source" familiar with the Piazza situation has indicated the sure-thing Hall of Famer is about to ask for a trade. What appears to be at the root of the matter is his reluctance to switch to first base. Apparently, Piazza would like to continue catching, albeit in a reduced role. The rest of the time he would like to avail himself of the semi-rest that DHing would afford him. Obviously, this would necessitate a trade to an American League team. Baltimore is the team most often mentioned in conjunction with a final destination. The Orioles were rebuffed a year ago in their attempts to land baseball's other most-famous catcher: Pudge Rodriguez.

Mike Piazza
This is the eighth season in which Mike Piazza is a member of the Mets.
The Mets owe Piazza another $30 and seem bent on paying it. A brief note in the New York Daily News says the Mets have no intention of trading him and would not comment on the Newsday story. While other teams are reducing payroll actively, the Mets are doing so reactively but not chasing some of the bigger names in the free agent market as they have in the past. Disastrous new hires have been the undoing of the club in the past two seasons and they are understandably gun shy. Without Piazza, the Mets would be shorn of the one marquee name they have left in their lineup, so it is also understandable that they would want to keep him around, even when a certain logic would be to allow a 35-year old catcher making a barnload of money go away.

Piazza remains the most popular Mets player and his loss for the better part of 2003 was among the many lowlights of their dismal year. When he's healthy he can still mash a ball with the best of them. The question is, how healthy is he going to be from here on out? After appearing in at least 135 games for seven consecutive seasons, Piazza was limited to 273 plate appearances last year by a groin injury. This is the downfall of being an offensive-minded catcher: when the travails associated with the position take their toll, there isn't a whole lot left to show.


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Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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