The Mets' first basemen last season -- Mike Jacobs, Doug Mientkiewicz, Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward, Jose Offerman, Miguel Cairo and Brian Daubach -- combined to hit 21 home runs, drive in 62 runs, scored 67 and bat .227, with slugging and on-base percentages of .303 and .391 as first basemen. Each composite figure except home run total (12th) ranked last in the National League.
It was with that kind of difference in mind that the Mets this week pursued a trade for Delgado, the player they wanted to be their 2005 first baseman. And now they have him, one year and lots of missed run production later.
The trade that was to save the 33-year-old first baseman from the Marlins' fire sale is complete, approved by the Commissioner's office. And the two clubs are satisfied the players they are receiving -- Delgado to the Mets and Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Minor League third baseman Grant Psomas to the Marlins -- are in good health.
"One of our goals this offseason was to acquire a big bat for the middle of our lineup," said Mets general manager Omar Minaya. "Carlos Delgado certainly fits that description. He'll be a superb fit for our lineup."
All that remains now for the Mets is to hear Billy Wagner say "Yes," and most of the heavy lifting involved in their offseason overhaul will have been accomplished. Sign a catcher, decide on second base, find a reliable left-handed reliever other than Wagner and then roll out the balls in Port St. Lucie.
"We started out [the offseason] thinking getting a closer and a catcher were the two big things -- No. 1 and 1A," a Mets official said Wednesday night. "We wanted to bring in an RBI man too. But first we had to get the closer and catcher done. But we look a lot better already with [Delgado] in the middle of the lineup. Now, if we get Wagner and one of the catchers [free agents Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina], we're a contender."
The Mets announced nothing new Thursday other than the inclusion of Psomas in the deal that had been struck, conditionally, Wednesday and then widely reported. But their acquisition of a left-handed-hitting slugger speaks loudly to the National League East and to Wagner, who, seemingly is as impressed by the Mets and the offer they have extended to him as he is unsettled by what he believes is the Phillies' willingness to remain competitive rather than upgrade.
"Good gracious, they're going to have a good team. Aren't they?" Cameron said Wednesday after learning of the then-conditional deal. "I like where I'm going [San Diego], and I'm in center field again. But I'll be watching for those New York Mets."
The acquisition of Delgado gives the Mets a significantly deeper batting order. The addition of Wagner certainly would leapfrog them past the Phillies and seemingly would put them at least on the heels of the perennial-champion Braves. Wagner saw things in that way Wednesday when he said "I don't think [the Mets are] done. You can see they're really determined to win. They want to make up the difference right away, and they are."
Delgado's presence balances the Mets' batting order. His and Floyd's power may force opposing managers to use left-handed starting pitching more often than they might have otherwise. And that would be fine with David Wright and Carlos Beltran, each of whom is more effective against left-handed pitching. Delgado's run production also might prompt manager Willie Randolph to bat Beltran second, a change the manager toyed with last season and one he said he would consider more strongly if a No. 4-type hitter were obtained.
Moreover, Delgado's presence reduces the reliance on Beltran and Floyd, who at times swung as if their middle-of-the-order responsibility was an anvil attached to their bats. "He would be a difference-maker," Floyd said.
Minaya had figured as much, of course. He had offered Delgado a contract almost identical to what the Marlins offered and signed him too. The Mets offered a no-trade clause, the Marlins didn't.
Funny how that's worked out.