In the offseason the Mets knew they needed to upgrade behind the plate, and they made Bengie Molina their target.

Unfortunately for them, Molina re-signed with the San Francisco Giants, and the Mets were forced to settle for Rod Barajas.

Early this season the Mets looked like they had struck gold. Barajas led the team in homers with 10 and had a decent .276 average to go with a very good .893 OPS. Combine all of that with a one-year, $400,000 contract, and he was a major contributor on the cheap.

He was doing so well that the Texas Rangers, who were in need of a catcher and were one of Barajas’ many former employers, contacted the Mets on his availability .

Unfortunately for the Mets, their offense was looking so weak that they were afraid of making such a move. Between that and the fact that they probably thought mid-May was too soon to start dealing, the Mets and the Rangers never really got into trade talks.

That has turned out to be a huge mistake for the Mets, and they should have seen it coming. Barajas is a 34-year-old journeyman who had never even managed a 100 OPS+.

If anybody in the organization thought that he could manage to continue that type of production, an .893 OPS, they were mistaken.

The story that the Rangers had contacted the Mets on Barajas’ availability was on May 22. Since the day before that, May 21, Barajas has been terrible.

In 21 games he has one home run and a .214 batting average with a .547 OPS. He has become an automatic out with almost no pop, not to mention very slow on the bases. He’s not even the best defensive catcher on the Mets; that would be Henry Blanco.

The Mets would not have been able to get any top-flight prospect for Barajas, but it is certainly possible they could have added a Chris Carter type like they did in the Billy Wagner deal. At the very least they could have added a piece they could turn around and include in a Roy Oswalt/Cliff Lee/Dan Haren deal.

Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. Barajas has shown the fallacy of small sample sizes. Any player can put up good numbers; it’s just a matter of how long they can sustain those numbers. In Barajas’ case, the answer is not very long.

Barajas is not an answer in the short term or the long term for the Mets. They should have gotten something for him when his value was at its highest.

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