Ruben Gotay was put on waivers yesterday and was claimed by the Atlanta Braves today. The Mets put Gotay on waivers because they did not have any room for him on the major league roster. They wanted him to start the season in AAA. In order for him to be sent to the minors he has to go through waivers, and the Braves picked him up.
I am furious about this move and think it is quite stupid. Last season, Gotay stepped up his game and took over the second base job. He was really crushing the ball with an average in the low to mid .300s and playing average defense. The Mets then went out and traded for Luis Castillo to replace him. The main reason for the trade was because Castillo was an experienced veteran who has postseason experience. I didn’t mind this trade that much because I knew was Castillo was capable of a lot but everyone knew that Gotay did not deserve to be benched. Gotay’s average then dropped and he finished the season batting .295 with 4 home runs, 24 rbis, 25 runs, and 3 stolen bases. It must have been an insult to Gotay signing Castillo to a 4 year deal showing Gotay that he will not be starting at second base any time soon.
The Mets once again did not trust a second baseman from their minor league system. Again, the Mets gave a young second baseman a chance and took it away. The Mets gave Jeff Kepinger a chance and he hit .284 with 3 home runs, 9 rbis, and 9 runs in 116 at bats but eventually traded him to the royals for Ruben Gotay. The Mets gave Anderson Hernandez a shot 2 years ago when he started the season as the Mets second baseman. He made a spectacular catch in the Mets Opener but shortly after got injured and did not receive the second baseman job again. And now Gotay, the Mets started him and he flourished, but I guess they didn’t think he had what it takes.
The Mets wanted to send Gotay to the minors because of his inability to hit left handers. Even though he is a switch hitter, Gotay only hit .194 against lefties. The Mets are most likely going to bring Fernando Tatis with them to start the season. The 33 year old hit .194 in 2003 and did not play in the majors again until 2006 for the orioles where he hit just .250. The Mets essentially gave a way a young bat who is working on hitting left handers for a 33 year old third baseman who has not hit higher than .250 since 2000. He better not miss left handers then because that doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.
The thing about Gotay is that he really wanted to win and wanted to be a Met. In the Bergen Record, Steve Popper wrote: “Gotay sat alone in the clubhouse with tears in his eyes as he made phone calls to family and to his agent, trying to find out what is next.”
This incident reminds me of a few things in recent Mets history. The Mets traded Mora to Baltimore in midseason 2000 with two minor league players and Mike Kinkade for shortstop Mike Bordick. In 2006, Bell was traded with fellow relief pitcher Royce Ring to San Diego for outfielder Ben Johnson and reliever Jon Adkins. Most recently, in December of 2006, the Nationals claimed Jesus Flores, one of the Mets best catching prospects out of the Rule 5 draft. In all of these cases the Mets underrated these players and just tossed them around. Now they are all on new teams and playing great.
Last December, I suggested another option for Gotay would be to move him to the outfield. “I believe it would be a smarter move to convert Gotay into an outfielder. He could get a lot of playing time and he is a pretty good hitter. Alfonso Soriano recently made the switch from second base to outfield so why can’t Ruben Gotay do it. I do not want to waste Gotay’s bat for just pinch hitting and the rare start.” I also suggested that Gotay could play first base because of the extreme lack of depth in the minor league system.
The absolute worst part about this trade is the fact that the Atlanta Braves claimed him. It couldn’t be some random American League team; it had to be one of the Mets rivals. So now he will be on the Braves 25 man roster and will be competing against the team he once loved. What could be better motivation for Ruben Gotay?