Closing on Cora

The Mets are reportedly close to a one-year deal with Alex Cora worth about $2 million.

I’ve said my piece on Cora, and I’m not out to repeat myself any more than I already do.

Instead, I’ll turn it over to “Hit the Weights Zeile,” a commenter on MetsBlog who put it pretty clearly:

Not worth 2 million. This team just can never figure this out but if you give out 3-4 contracts like this to guys who simply arent good you couldve used that money for useful parts. Cora’s production can be replaced for a fraction of that contract.

As they say on the Internet: This.

It’s nothing against Cora. It’s something against guaranteeing Cora $2 million.

And it’s nothing against making Cora and Elmer Dessens the first two offseason acquisitions. The Mets entered the offseason needing depth in the middle infield and the bullpen.

It’s about allocating resources where they do not need to be allocated. It’s about promising a roster spot — and remember, this front office rarely gives up on sunk costs until long after it should — to a guy who should be competing for one.

And it’s about committing to a guy to fill a need that might be filled more adeptly by a non-tendered free agent before anyone is certain who will be non-tendered.

I’m sick of making this argument, and I have a feeling I’m not going to change anyone’s mind anyway. The bottom line is that Cora won’t prevent the Mets from competing in 2010 or beyond, but he’s not likely to help them either.

I used to work with a really awesome guy who wasn’t very good at his job. People would complain about his various inabilities all the time, and then they’d inevitably punctuate their complaints with, “But hey, great guy.” So here’s that for Alex Cora:

But hey, great guy.

10 thoughts on “Closing on Cora

  1. I’ve never been totally convinced by the denunciations that follow these kinds of signings by the Mets.

    First, we’re not comparing Alex Cora and his $2 million to zero. The major-league minimum for 2009 is $400,000. A $400,000 player to fill Cora’s role would be someone like Wilson Valdez. I’m assuming everyone agrees that we’d rather have Alex Cora than Wilson Valdez. I am quite dubious that anyone we would be happy with who would fill that role will cost us any less than $800,000, if not more. The expense of signing Cora is being exaggerated.

    Second, the concept that a player’s value may not be wholly captured by VORP or the stat du jour is not fanciful. If Cora can impart some useful knowledge or instruction to Angel Pagan that Wilson Valdez would not, that is value. If Jerry Manuel can count on a veteran like Cora to be his own manager, rather than having to waste time and energy he would spending a younger or more clueless player how to do some basic things, that is value. If Cora can inspire at least some of his teammates to play harder by playing through a painful injury, as he did last season, that can be of some value.

    The question is *how much* value there is in stuff like that. No one knows how to measure it. Chances are it’s not worth $1.2 million per year. But I don’t think that managers and executives are morons for thinking that it’s worth *something.”

    When someone can cite with some precision a situation in which the Mets have been prevented from making an important signing or acquisition because of the Cora deal or a series of deals like it, I’ll be more persuaded that it’s a bad move. In the absence of that, I think it’s been over-analyzed.

    • You make a series of good points here, and I very much appreciate that you did so without saying anything nasty or suggesting that I don’t even watch the games.

      One definite point of contention would be on Valdez: It’s not hard to argue, when looking only at the stats, that Valdez would indeed be a better backup middle infielder than Cora. Unlike Cora (and Anderson Hernandez, for that matter), Valdez appeared to be an excellent defensive shortstop last season, something very valuable to a team with a strong groundball pitcher in Pelfrey that could add at least one more in the form of Marquis, Pineiro or Garland.

      I agree that there’s some value to having a good clubhouse guy, as you suggest. But there are also good clubhouse guys that are above replacement level at their position, guys who might actually be worth the $2 million on the field who can bring leadership in the clubhouse for no extra fee.

      I do think, though, that good clubhouse guys can develop organically, and that on well-constructed teams, they do. It’s a credit to Cora that he managed to maintain a great attitude on a terrible team last season, but it didn’t appear to do that much to help the Mets in the standings.

      That’s unfair, of course, because it’s also not Cora’s fault that everyone around him got hurt. So there’s that.

      As for the contracts adding up, I suppose we’ll see. It’s always tough to say in a vacuum or to isolate a single acquisition not made, but Minaya makes a ton of these deals — Tim Redding, Cory Sullivan, Marlon Anderson, Julio Franco — and the Mets do operate within a finite budget.

    • Like Ted said it’s hard to pick out one single move that a signing like Cora prevents, but you could just go back and look at the Mets 2009 draft where they spent less than any other MLB team and failed to sign numerous top 10 picks.

  2. Well said and like the new site.
    The old saying goes, “Shake a tree and six utility infielders will fall out.” Granted, some of them hitting the ground will be Anderson Hernandez and Wilson Vazquez, but at least those guys can play shortstop…Cora doesn’t have the range. Andy why is Elmer Dessens being signed now? Guys like that should earn their stripes in March, not be given jobs in the November. This is how the Mets spend more than any team in the league and wind up being worse than the Nationals after May. They could have been perfectly healthy last year and finished fourth, though they’d have avoided 90 losses. Probably.

  3. Ted,

    You convinced me to jump on the anti-Cora bandwagon. If the Mets are going to continue to penny pinch and limit their offseason budgets, then there is absolutely no excuse to pay Cora anything more than the league minimum. And if he said, “I want 2 million or I’m out of here”, I would have been fine with the “Shake a tree and six utility infields will fall out” theory.

    And I assume you’re talking about SNY.tv’s Tom Boorstein when you mention your former co-worker who wasn’t very kid at his job. I kid of course…we all know Tom is not a really awesome guy.

  4. Look at it this way. We NEED a utility man. Every team does. They are invaluable. Cora is a good guy to have around and in the clubhouse. And he has grit. He was signed as a bench utility, but played all season with a torn thumb ligament.

    Maybe, just maybe, we can look at this as a sign that the Mets aren’t as constrained as the media says they are and they have plenty to spend as they have been saying all along.

  5. Omar does not seem to think in time and space. I asked the same question: why these guys now? Before non-tenders and before spring training. I have no love at all for Omar and wish he were gone but I wonder if a Wilpon could be behind some of this.

  6. This Signing is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with the Mets.They’re gonna sign 4-5 of these kind of guys,Sign one Free Agent,and then Fill the rest of their holes on the Cheap.This is what The Wilpons do,This is what omar does,and it ain’t gonna change no matter what We say,or do.It ain’t gonna change no matter how many times this Team Collapses or has a Bad season altogether!The Wilpons have never cared about putting a Championship Team Together,They just wanna string us along and make us all think there is hope so they can sell seats at [Ed. Note: removed expletive] Field! I for one am sick and tired of it! I can’t stand to watch Every good free agent go to other Teams while we continue to sign the Alex Cora’s,and The Elmer Dessens of the world! 2010 Will be a repeat of 2009,only Jose Guillen will be playing The Part Of Gary sheffield!

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