Lo Duca Replaces Piazza… Again

Omar Minaya made a deal over the weekend that appears to be very unpopular with other Mets bloggers. Excuse me for thinking differently than the crowd.

In order the fill the catching vacancy left by Mike Piazza‘s departure the Mets turned to the source that gave them Piazza in the first place and traded for Florida Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca. I’ve liked Lo Duca for a while and had been thinking of him for the Mets empty catching spot but hadn’t had the time to write a proposal here before news of the deal began to filter in over the last couple of days. To acquire Lo Duca the Mets gave Florida minor league pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez and another minor league pitcher to be named later.

Though Lo Duca is not the best catcher in the game he is definitely serviceable and when teamed with backup Ramon Castro, another former Marlin, should give the Mets a good catching tandem that is as good as any in the game and will cost less than signing either of the two big free agent catchers, Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez. (Lo Duca will make $6.25 million in each of the next 2 years while the Molina and Hernandez are seeking 3 or 4 years at upwards of $8 million a year.)

Most of the dissenters to this deal cite the 19 year old Hernandez as too much to give for the 33 year old catcher. They may be right when you weigh potential against a known quantity. But Hernandez struggled at double-a last year and is only predicted as a middle of the rotation starter anyway. In this case the Mets traded the possibility of a number 3 or 4 starter for a definite starting catcher. I think this deal is not as lopsided as the deal that sent the major league ready Mike Jacobs and not so far off Yusmeiro Petit to the Marlins for Carlos Delgado. Jacobs will (probably) be a serviceable first baseman who is not quite as good as Delgado offensively and Petit could be a number 2 starter.

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I had very mixed feelings about the Delgado trade but this one I like. I followed Hernandez’ development after he was drafted and think he’ll make it one day, but he’s a long way off. Paul will help the Mets win now. He’s a decent catcher but is more valuable because of his leaderhip. He will help motivate the Mets and add to the team chemistry. He is the kind of guy every champion must have.

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