If the title of this blog post hasn’t scared you off yet, then obviously you have some morbid curiosity regarding how anybody who is not in Brian Bixler’s immediate family can write a thousand words on Brian Bixler. And not just how … but why. Why? Simple answer: This is the Mets’ version of “hot stove season”. Writing a post about Brian Bixler, who was signed by the Mets yesterday, might be the only shot I’ve got to discuss any sort of addition until this time next year. So, you get a post to lead off your Saturday that is somewhat related to Brian Bixler. But I’m going to warn you right now: If you get to the end of this, it’ll be five minutes of your life that you’ll never get back. So here it goes:
The best thing that I can say about Brian Bixler is … that he’s not Melky Cabrera. I had been resigned to the fact that the Mets would take a flyer on Cabrera to help him get his career back on track for slightly higher than the standard one-three million dollars given to injury reclamation projects like Chris Capuano and Chris Young. With Sandy Alderson not able to find an outfield while sifting through his bounty of able-bodied baseball players, and Cabrera theoretically about to be punished for his foray into the world of performance enhancing drugs and website building, the Mets and Cabrera seemed to be a match made in limbo. But along came the Toronto Blue Jays, who are aspiring to be the Dodgers with a side of poutine, to sign Cabrera to a two-year $16 million deal … saving the Mets from what some would call the dreaded “low risk-high reward” signing (it’s been years since I had arguments about that phrase … and I still hate it.)
He’s also not Jose Reyes … another former shortstop who’s still in the news over that trade that sent him to the Dodgers w/poutine: as the Marlins apparently broke verbal promises to Reyes and Mark Buehrle that they wouldn’t be traded. Let this be a lesson to you kids out there: Verbal promises from the Marlins are about as trustworthy as a press briefing from Baghdad Bob. Come on … if this world can’t guarantee that Twinkies will be around forever, how can you trust anything David Samson or Jeffrey Loria say to you? You might as well buy a Ford Pinto from Herostratus.
(Perhaps Jose can be comforted with a Christmas gift from Harry & David’s … a box of chocolates, perhaps.)
Not to mention that Mark Buehrle might have to be traded again because his new baseball home of Ontario has a stupid law that forbids the ownership of pit bulls. Now if the Blue Jays want to cut their losses and trade Mark Buehrle for a bag of baseballs, the Mets can never have enough pitching. This would fulfill my decade-long obsession of getting Buehrle in a Mets uniform (we have blue ones now, y’know). But in reality, if Buehrle gets traded it will probably be to the Cardinals so that he can fulfill his lifetime fantasy. Missouri accepts all breeds of dog and cat, right?
Okay, I’ve gotten halfway through to a thousand and still no real words on this Brian Bixler fellow. Well, he was most recently a Houston Astro. This doesn’t exactly instill me with confidence. The Astros won 55 games last season. If this is the roster that Sandy is scouring for talent, we’re in big trouble once again. The only thing worse than plucking somebody from the Astros would be to sign somebody who spent the majority of the season in their 27th ranked minor league system, where Bixler spent most of his time last season. Sweet.
Bixler is also a career .189 hitter in the majors. But at the very least, Bixler hit .269 with the Oklahoma City RedHawks last season, which means that in his most likely destination of Las Vegas, his numbers will be inflated to the .300 range which will make him seem like a viable option to come to the majors in the middle of the season. It will be at this point where Bixler will most likely disappoint us. Or as Steve from Amazin’ Avenue puts it: he’s Mike Nickeas without the flowing locks. Wonderful. Stiff drinks for everyone.
Or, Bixler will be the Opening Day shortstop when Terry Collins inevitably suspends Ruben Tejada 100 games for reporting to spring training one day early.
Bixler wore 12 for the Astros, which is a black mark against him because Jeff Kent also wore 12 for the Astros. This means that either Bixler is going to be traded for a 44-year-old Carlos Baerga, or that Bixler will one day be voted off Survivor by Tootie and Natalie. (If you haven’t been paying attention lately, the very mention of Jeff Kent makes me go into the fetal position sobbing like a baby. David Cone was tending bar at Foley’s the other night, and even he acknowledged that Kent might be a hall of famer one day, “just not for the Mets”. And those were seriously his words, not mine.)
Take comfort in the fact that in 2009, Bixler hit over .300 in spring training, as Pirates managment, which included current Brooklyn Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly, raved about him. He was so good that spring training that he was sent to the minors just before the season started. But he did have his highest batting average of .227 for the Pirates in ’09 while filling in at shortstop and center field. Okay, he did it in 44 at-bats … but if Bixler does start the season with the Mets, he’ll probably be the new Ronny Cedeno/Joaquin Arias/Alex Cora type player. If those words don’t make you want to drink chlorine straight from the tap, then you’re a better Mets fan than me.
That leaves me a scant few words short of 1,000, which only leaves me enough to say that hey, I was sarcastic when R.A. Dickey signed with the Mets too, and look how that worked out: He’s got a Cy Young award. Perhaps Bixler will be the new David Eckstein, full of grit and hustle and reason for Mets fans to love him and wave banners in his honor. My guess is no. But if the Mets are as broke as some people say, this might be the best we’re going to get for a while. So freakin’ enjoy it. Or, curse your life for getting all the way to the end of this hoping for some sort of wild revelation about a minor league shortstop. Sorry. But look, just be happy the Mets didn’t blow $16 million on Melky Cabrera and enjoy your weekend. I’ll continue to look for a new hobby which will keep me away from the internet during hot stove season.