The Chronicle’s Richard Justice suggested the other day it was time for Astros owner Drayton McLane to openly plead poverty given Houston’s reluctance to enter the free agent market this off-season. Such a statement is no longer necessary, however, given the Astros’ stunning acquisition of free agent CC Sabathia A.J. Burnett Mike Hampton. Let the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox bicker over lesser lights, Houston has successfully ensnared one of the highest paid pitchers of all time, and a devoted advocate of public education, no less.

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tipped the Mets to pursue Gerald Laird, one of some dozen or so catchers the Rangers are apparently shopping around. In the words of Bugs and Cranks’ Brad Bortone, “In the midst of all the Mets’ bullpen woes, maybe it™s time they nursed this wound too.”

Because he brought more balance than LoDuca and much better plate defense than Mike Piazza, Schneider™s limp bat and average arm strength was never really called into question.  But after a year of watching him swat aimlessly at outside curveballs while Ramon Castro nursed injuries and Raul Casanova looked, well¦old¦the Mets seem to finally be getting fed up with the lack of production from their backstops.

Though not a perfect fit for the Mets, Laird put up a .329 OBP and .398 SLG in 95 games for the Rangers, a rare team with catching to trade. They have Laird, Max Ramirez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden and are looking to trade from this surplus in return for young pitching.

Yes, Aaron Heilman is on the block again. A package of a AAA starter and a major league reliever should get this done.  The Rangers are desperate for pitching ” they have been for years ” but they never seemed to have the clout or the means to obtain some front line arms, especially after overpaying for Kevin Millwood what seems like a decade ago.  Though the Mets hardly have talent to spare, our guys must look like champion thoroughbreds to a team as desperate as Texas.

Schneider is a solid ballplayer, who even showed signs of clutch power late in the 2008 season.  But the Mets need more consistency in every slot in the lineup, and the catching position has been largely ignored for years. Schneider was never going to be a solution for this problem, just a Band Aid till something better came along.