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According to this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog, the Milwaukee Brewers have designated OFer Kevin Mench for assignment to make room for Salomon Torres. As a result, the Brewers now have ten days to either trade him or release him outright.

No matter which way the Brew Crew goes, I can’t imagine that Mench will be without a team for very long. He’s the perfect platoon guy who crushes left-handed pitching. Since 2005, Mench has an OPS of .919 against southpaws over 400 ABs, while slugging .558. Needless to say, those are some very useful numbers, and the Mets recently traded for a guy who’s the exact opposite.

Newly acquired Ryan Church has performed very well over his career against righties, posting an OPS of .856 against them (but only a .742 against lefties). If you combine two outfielders – one who is above average against lefties and another who is above average against righties – what do you get, kids? Why, a position covered by an above-average hitter, of course!

But as with everything else, it’s simply not that easy. If the Mets feel that Mench (as the righty in a platoon) is worth what he made in arbitration last year ($3.4 million), then they may as well offer up a player to be named later to acquire him. If they take a wait-and-see approach and hope he hits the open market, it’s unlikely that Mench would sign with a team that can’t guarantee him 400 ABs, so a trade seems to be the only way to go.

If the Mets decide to go this route and are successful, they could possibly end up with a combo capable of OPSing around .850, which is roughly what you can expect out of far more recognizable names such as Nick Swisher, Bobby Abreu, and Alex Rios. Not bad, right?

5 Responses to “The Mets Should Trade for Kevin Mench”

  1. Can’t comment on the true pedigree of the Cleveland name but I remember reading about Sockalexis in SI many years ago. He was a fantastic player, but he was also an alcoholic and really liked to party. He hurt himself at a brothel and his career went downhill from there. Kind of a tragic story.

  2. You should read this: http://www.amazinavenue.com/story/2007/12/10/23651/448.

    In it, Eric Simon brings up the same point. However, he argues that platoon splits are largely an illusion and we cannot count on Mensch to maintain his .200 OPS split or whatever, and his “true” platoon ability is probably a lot smaller. The same goes for Church, with less emphasis, as Church has a larger ML sample-size.

    He also makes the point that even if you start the lefty vs. the righty or vice-versa, you will only get the advantage 2/3rds of the time (as long as the starting pitcher is in).

    The Mets are better suited using Damion Easley or even a guy like Ben Johnson (not the 16th century English poet), rather than pay Mensch $3 million.

  3. Glad you brought this up, Blastings. And Simon is right to an extent. I’ve read arguments from both sides of the sabermetric field as to whether or not platoon splits are “real”. But the vast majority of studies done on the subject indicate that it IS in fact real. Simon’s first two points – the human side of the argument – is something that we can only make conjectures about, and I acknowledge the strong possibility that Mench would object to such a role when I talk about how the Mets should not wait until he hits the open market.

    And I do agree with Simon on his point about plate appearances. Ideally, you’d like at least 2000 of them to work with before analyzing. But it’s not like 400 PAs is entirely worthless. Sure, there’s still quite a bit of standard deviation that needs to be taken into account. But I do think it’s enough of a sample size to consider the possibility.

    Simon’s third point – that it’s hard to do – is one that we’re going to just disagree on. Even in late-game situations, it’s just as difficult as any other pinch-hitting situation.

    And I completely disagree with you that using Easley or Johnson would prove better than paying Mench $3mil. To me, Ben Johnson looks like a 4A guy. Besides, it’s not like he’s been tearing up the PCL either the last two years. Just not impressed at all. As for Easley, last year he OPSed .824. The last time he had done so was in 1997 when he hit 22 dingers. No one can rationally expect Damion Easley to repeat his 2007 success.

    And regarding the contract, $3 million should give small market teams some pause. If the Mets are concerned about spending that much to potentially winning one or two more games, then the Mets simply aren’t taking advantage of their financial stature.

  4. A trade for Mench isn’t really applicable. Mench will be non-tendered Wednesday and become a free agent.

  5. Actually, non-tendered doesn’t mean that he’s a free agent. After non-tendering a contract, the Brewers have ten days to trade Mench. If this doesn’t happen, THEN he becomes a free agent. And I talk about why (if the Mets are interested) they shouldn’t wait for those ten days to pass in the post itself. It’s highly unlikely that Mench would want to sign with a team that won’t guarantee him many at-bats. So trading for him gives him no choice, really.

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