New York should look elsewhere

Darin Erstad put the Mets on the list of teams to which he cannot be traded.

Updated: November 21, 2003, 12:33 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
It has been so long since the Mets have gotten production out of their outfield that it has become apparent they can no longer identify the difference between a good outfielder and a bad one. Fortunately for them, they have been done a great service by the latest apple of their jaundiced eye who has taken himself out of their consideration by adding New York to his no-trade-to list.

According to a report by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Angels centerfielder Darin Erstad put the Mets on the list of teams to which he cannot be traded. The Angels loaded up Erstad with a container ship full of money a couple of years ago and the Mets are one of the few teams that would be able to absorb his contract without having to resort to a "bring-your-own-toilet-paper" policy for fans who wish to use stadium restrooms during games. That the Angels made a horrific error in judgment by making Erstad a rich man is no reason for some other team to help them pay the bill by taking him off their hands. Other lucky teams on his no-trade list include the Devil Rays, Expos and World Champion Florida Marlins. So, lucky them: even if they wanted to get stupid with what little money they have, Erstad won't let them.

Speaking of ill-conceived moves, the Angels have actually contemplated moving Erstad to first base, writes Shaikin. He doesn't hit enough for a centerfielder, so to move him to first would make him an even greater financial liability than he already is. Besides, it would neutralize the one thing he does especially well on a baseball field: play outfield defense. Why is Erstad not worth the money he is paid? Why is it indicative of the Mets loss of perspective to even contemplate trading for him? After getting off to a decent start to his career in 1997 and 1998, Erstad had a miserable 1999 season. He followed this up with an amazing year that has proven to be so completely out of context with the rest of his career it looks as though it was channeled to him by a spiritual medium from some long-dead 1930s ballplayer.

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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