Thursday, December 30, 2004

 

Lastings Impression

In these slow times of the Hot Stove season, it is wonderful when new topics sprout up to talk about. So today I’d like to thank Baseball America for releasing their Top 10 Mets prospects and for J.J. Cooper, the man who wrote it, for doing a marathon chat about their farm system. For those who missed it, here is the Top 10.

Lastings Milledge, CF
Yusmeiro Petit, RHP
Gaby Hernandez, RHP
Ian Bladergroen, 1B
Ambiorix Concepcion, RF
Alay Soler, RHP
Shawn Bowman, 3B
Victor Diaz, OF
Jesus Flores, C
Matt Lindstrom, RHP

No major surprises here, but I expected Petit to be top dog and Milledge #2. Baseball America focuses a lot on tools and upside with less emphasis on performance so that would explain it. Petit has been dominant at every level but there are still questions about hit stuff while Milledge struggled at St. Lucie, he is seen as a potential superstar. It will be interesting to see if Baseball Prospectus and John Sickels have them in the same order. What surprised me most in the chat was when someone asked Cooper to compare Milledge to the Devil Rays’ Delmon Young and he said the following:

That was an interesting discussion around the office all year. Milledge is a better athlete, and unlike Delmon, he doesn't have any tool that projects as below average (there is some concern that as Delmon ages he may gain weight to the point where he's a below average runner), but Delmon has two tools--raw power and arm that most scouts rate as 70 or plus on the scouting scale, which means he has the chance to be a home run champ who is a very solid right fielder.

Young had seemed to me like one of the top 5 prospects in the game and I had never dreamed of comparing the two, but once it was broached in the chat I looked up their stats and they are quite comparable. They both played the bulk of their seasons in the Sally league and had the following lines:

Milledge: .337/.399/.579, 13 HR, 17 BB, 261 AB
Young: .320/.386/.536, 25 HR, 53 BB, 513 AB

Milledge actually outperformed Young on sheer numbers although I don’t know the park effects of Charleston and Capital City offhand. Young has more plate discipline which projects well for him and as Cooper says, scouts see him as having more power; however, I think I had always shortchanged Milledege in my mind and Cooper went on to classify him as one of the 10 or 15 best prospects in baseball. Beltran who?

The other player I found most intriguing on this list is catcher Jesus Flores. Admittedly, I know little about him and had heard a lot more about Joe Hietpas and Aaron Hathaway, two farmhands aspiring to have Tom Prince’s career. While he is only 20 and it is only the Gulf Coast league, his line of .319/.368/.532 is intriguing enough that he will certainly be someone to keep an eye on in the next year as another performance like that could launch him into the realm of elite prospects.

Another interesting tidbit from the top 10 list is that Ambiorix Concepcion was caught in the Domincan visa crack down a couple of years back. Apparently, he used to be known as Robert Solano, but his age remained the same. I had heard rumors he might be older than his listed age of 21 and this might be where that belief comes from. If he is any older, he is certainly no longer a great prospect; however, going from Robert to
Ambiorix is a stroke of genius.

After seeing the top 10 and reading the chat, the consensus of the Mets farm system seems to be that they have a lot of great talent, but most of that is at the lower levels and do not have anyone close to making an impact in the majors. If they see some development though, they could have a farm system that is considered elite by 2006. Then again, they will probably trade away the best prospects anyway before they get to Shea so there is no use in getting too attached. Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

 

Beltrance

Things remain quiet in Metsville these days as 2005 approaches. We wait with bated breath, wondering what the next move will be to catapult the Mets into the ranks of baseball’s elite. Although I predicted the Mets would sign Carlos Beltran, Buster Olney (who is more of an insider than I) indicated on SportsCenter last night that Beltran is Bronx bound. Not too surprising although I can still see Omar blowing the doors off of Boras with an insane offer. As this relates to the Mets, this is not terrible news. As it relates to baseball, this would be disheartening. You don’t blame the Yankees for spending the money they have to win. They aren’t breaking any rules nor did they create the system. In fact, when the current collective bargaining agreement came to a vote in 2002, the Yankees were the only team that voted against it. The pay their outlandish luxury tax and go about their business.

I am also not of the belief that you need money to compete. The A’s and Twins have proven this not to be true as front office intelligence and fantastic player development trump cash every time. Just ask the Mets. As a baseball fan though, seeing Beltran go to the Yankees is boring. It’s like Bill Gates finding a twenty on the street. Recently, the Yankees seem to lure players with the mantra of, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” as evidenced by Mussina, Sheffield and Giambi choosing the pinstripes when similar money was available elsewhere. They are on the verge of adding Randy Johnson and could also bring Beltran in. They were already a 100 win team without these two, so 110 should be easily attainable; however, as I’ve preached before, there is no guarantee to postseason success and no matter how much you spend, you can’t guarantee a title.

The Mets interest in Beltran seems far more about public relations than practicality. It has been written and said more than once this week, “with Cameron out for a month, the Mets need a centerfielder.” This is hogwash. If David Wright were out for a month, would the Mets have signed Adrian Beltre? Obviously not. We need not make excuses for signing Beltran. Mets fans want him because of how good he looked in the postseason. Reason #237 why Beltran is overrated: His career high OPS is .927, Vlad Guerrero’s was .989 last season and has had no lower than .943 since 1998 and is a year older. Yes, Beltran is entering his “prime,” but maybe he isn’t going to get better. If he is putting up .280/.370/.550 for six years, he is not worth the figures being discussed regarding him. Vlad had injury issues, but when healthy he is a superior player yet got a $70 million dollar deal. Remember, the Mets have a good centerfielder and a good centerfield prospect in Lastings Milledge. If the Mets are determined to sign one more free agent, Delgado and Magglio Ordonez make far more sense because they play positions at which the Mets have an actual void, and they will come a lot cheaper. Beltran would make the Mets better, but just because he would does not mean he is a prudent investment.

I apologize for continually writing about the negatives attached to Beltran, but I feel like I am the only dissenting opinion out there. I am not adamantly opposed to signing him, I just don’t think it is as beneficial as others do. I have an open mind about it though, and could be convinced otherwise. All off the field reasons aside and speaking strictly from a practical baseball standpoint, why should the Mets sign Beltran?


Monday, December 27, 2004

 

Power to the People

There is nothing like some grassroots activism, and one ambitious Mets fan is heeding those words as he or she has started an online petition asking Omar Minaya to sign Carlos Beltran. I am too young to remember the 1960s as I was born in the 1970s, but after sigining the petition now I know what it must've been like. Power to the people! Sign Beltran!

It does appear as though the Mets are becoming major players in the race for Beltran. Now that they have announced their intentions, the Mets have to worry about both Beltran the player, and the back page. From now until he signs, with the exception of the Jets playoff collapse and the Knicks blowing a 20 point lead to the Clippers, Beltran will get more than his fair share of attention on the old back pages. I foresee Beltran reaping the benefits of New York city politics as the Mets look to re-establish themselves as "players," and the Yankees doing everything possible to prevent Beltran from signing in Flushing. Scott Boras will be swimming in gold like Scrooge McDuck.

I am a little tired of writing about Carlos Beltran over and over again. I really don't know what else to say as anyone who has read this blog knows how I feel about him. I am starting to believe that Beltran is going to end up on the Mets as Omar is determined to do everything to separate himself from his predecessors, Duquette and Phillips, who are most remembered for not making deals for Vlad and Guerrero. Omar will do whatever it takes, and I'd imagine that means milking the Wilpons for all of their pennies. Much like Pedro, they are going to have to pay a lot more than anyone else to get him. Based on gut and nothing else which is usually not the way I like to do things, Beltran will end up on the Mets for six-years $114 million.
You heard it here first folks.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

 

Mohr, Mohr, Mohr

Mets fan can breathe easy and rejoice, as Moises Alou has signed with the Giants so he can play for his daddy. Brian Sabean has developed a reputation for being one of the shrewder GMs around, able to consistently put together contenders with a mid-level payroll. Folks, it’s all Bonds. He has gotten so good that is almost doesn’t matter who else is on the team, they are going to compete. Sabean has made some head scratcher moves over the last few seasons, but he is outdoing himself this off-season. Omar Vizquel and Mike Matheny for three years? Alou for two years at $13.25 million? These are terrible moves, but will be masked by Bonds’ greatness and they will once again compete and Sabean’s rep will grow. Remember how Jerry Krause used to be considered a basketball genius, and then Jordan retired and he became a dud? The same thing is going to happen to Sabean.

With Alou going to the city by the bay, the pool of potential Mets is dwindling. Reports are that the Mets are going to be “players” in the Beltran sweepstakes. At this point it seems likely that Beltran, Delgado or Ordonez will end up on the Mets. Omar just needs to make sure he gets the player he wants without grossly overpaying. I fear him missing out on Beltran and Delgado and then being so desperate to do something, he hands Ordonez an asinine contract. While the Mets have a competent CF in Cameron, Beltran is about as sure of a thing free agent that has ever come along. Yes he will cost a lot, but unlike any other option, we can be very confident that he will be fantastic for the life of the deal. The Mets announcing their involvement is great news for Scott Boras, as this will only drive up the price.

If the Mets get Beltran, I am assuming he stays in center and Cameron goes to right. Do you think they would just have Floyd basically stand on the left field line while the other two take 75% of the outfield? Speaking of Floyd, I have been down on him like most fans, but I am starting to think that he is getting a bit of a raw deal. I know he has a bad contract, but he seems to have been made a scapegoat for the Mets problems, which are numerous. As we all know, his problem is staying on the field and if the Mets could get 500 AB from this guy, he would be a solid corner OF. The problem is that Mets expected him to be an elite LF when they signed him, but he has never been that with a career high OPS of .968. It is not his fault the Mets overpaid for him. Instead of jettisoning Floyd, they should be looking to add some depth to the outfield instead of signing guys like Ron Calloway. They could start with Dustan Mohr who Metsmerized addict Bernard Gilkey pointed out was non-tendered. Having Mohr would be fantastic insurance for Cameron being out as well as any potential Floyd foibles. His 2004 line of .274/.394/.437 is nice and I can’t believe the Giants got rid of him. They might not get that from Moises Alou. Omar, what are you waiting for?


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 

Snakes Might Bite on Pretty Boy Floyd

Things have grinded to a halt in terms of the big-ticket moves for the Mets, so the blogging community is left with little to talk about except for the Mets non-tendering Scott Strickland and Orber Moreno. Both of these seem odd, particularly for Moreno who in 33 games posted a 3.38 ERA with a solid K/9 of 7.53. Strickland makes more sense in that he has missed a lot of time over the past two seasons and the Mets don’t want to waste any more time with him. That being said, the Mets could still sign both of these guys at lower rates. Omar referring to Strickland as “Rod” does not bode well for Scott’s potential return.

The question now is how Omar is going to fill out the pen, assuming Strickland and Moreno are out of the picture. This probably means big things for Heath Bell who in limited duty struck out 9.99 per nine. This guy has a funky delivery and if he maintains that K-rate, will get a lot of the set-up innings in 2005. I’m guessing they are also expecting contributions from Mike DeJean, Pedro Feliciano, Felix Heredia and of course Braden Looper. Will Bartolome Fortunato be in the mix? Like Bell, he has a nice K-rate, but walks more guys than me in little league. Tyler Yates was an equal opportunity pitcher last season, yielding runs frequently as a starter and as a reliever. I guess Peterson didn’t “see anything” in him. Who knows if the Mets will give this guy another opportunity. The bullpen jobs, like the bench jobs, are often the last to be filled in the spring. Stay tuned.

The big news of the day is that Mike Cameron had wrist surgery and will likely begin the season on the disabled list. This is an unfortunate turn of events for the Mets as Cameron was the Mets best player last season for start to finish. His defense,
according to Clay Davenport’s numbers at Baseball Prospectus, was a little down (20 runs above replacement as opposed to 41 in 2003), but he made up for that by hitting 30 bombs. He will be missed, but the speculation is that this will be Omar’s excuse for stepping up the pressure on Carlos Beltran. This doesn’t make much sense as they will still have two CFs when Cameron comes back anyway, and the word is he will be back early on. Then again, Reyes was supposed to be back early on last season. Either Omar is going to make a run at Beltran or not, Cameron’s injury should have nothing to do with it.

The only intriguing rumor du jour had the Mets offering Cliff Floyd to the D-Backs straight up for Shea Hillenbrand. I guess the Diamonbacks figured, why not go a little further into debt? Or maybe they wanted the hitting version Russ Ortiz? Maybe the Mets think that they need to have someone named Shea on the team. The NY Post would certainly have a field day with this. Whatever the reason is, I think this would be a solid deal for the Mets, assuming they didn’t pay a dime. Floyd is the superior hitter, but is a lot more expensive than Hillenbrand whose only real asset is his ability to hit lefties. Or at least I thought so. In 2004 he was much better versus lefties (.892 OPS vs. 791 vs. righties) but for his career, he actually has a higher OPS versus righties (.773 vs. .763). This pretty much makes him useless because the Mets need a little more than that from first. Than again, he has been better against lefties the last two seasons, so he could potentially for a decent platoon with my boy Eric Valent if his splits the last two seasons are any indication. The only reason to do this deal is if the Mets subsequently make sure to get an OF with some pop.

What do other Mets fans think of this deal? Even if it doesn't happen, I would love to hear if people think it is of sound philosophy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

 

Firing Bullets

The hot stove has cooled off a bit as the market seems to be waiting for Carlos Beltran. With not much Mets news, I figured I'd take a stroll around the league.

Friday, December 17, 2004

 

The Mystery of Beltran

Now that Pedro is on board, the rumor mill is really starting to churn. Newsday is reporting the Mets are again interested in Carlos Beltran and based on comments being posted on other blogs, Mets fan are collectively wetting themselves. I understand why everyone is so excited about Beltran, he is young, injury free and is a seven tool player. But if you look at what the market seems to be for Beltran versus other players, I am having a difficult time understanding why he is valued so much more than others. Look at the following example:

2004
Player A: .305/.436/.569 and 31 HR
Player B: .267/.367/.548 and 38 HR

Career
Player A: 742 Games, .287/.391/.513 and 127 HR
Player B: 885 Games, .284/.353/.490 and 146 HR

These players are both free agents and both represented by Scott Boras. Can you guess who they are? Give up? Player A is J.D. Drew, and Player B is Carlos Beltran. It makes one wonder why Beltran is getting so much more attention than Drew. The obvious reasons are that Beltran is younger (about a year and a half), plays CF, has never been injured and also steals bases at an amazing rate (192 for 215 for his career). Beyond those numbers though, Drew is a more accomplished hitter who tops Beltran in each of the three major rate stats last season and for his career. If you use EQA, a metric that accounts for stolen bases and caught stealing, Drew posted a .335 last season and Beltran a .306. Yet a quick look at the ESPN Rumor Mill says the Astros have offered Beltran 5-years for $70 million (and he is expected to get more than that) while Drew is seeking 5-years for $50 million. I smell a bargain.

Obviously, Drew has downside in that he has missed a lot of games over the course of his career due to knee problems and that is part of what drives his value down. While some may point to 2004 being a “contract year” for Drew, but
if you look at his career, when he has been on the field, he has performed well. Conversely, Beltran playing the best ball of his career during the playoffs has driven up his value. Remember, he is not as good as he played in October, nor is he some type of special clutch player because he did.

Another factor is that while Beltran is a centerfielder, the Mets don’t need a centerfielder as they have Mike Cameron who generates a lot of his value from his defensive ability. Drew has played mostly right field for the Braves so he does fill a Mets need although some reports have suggested that he might be best served switching to center, which he has played in his career, because there are fewer quick stops in center which would save some stress on his knees.

All of this is not saying I believe the Mets should go out and sign J.D. Drew, but if they are interested in Beltran, they should be interested in Drew as well because he seems like a better bargain. It is possible that Omar is trying to make the Mets a team filled with Latin players as a way of appealing to the large Latin community in NYC as well as making the Mets a draw for other Latin players. If that is his goal, Beltran obviously makes more sense because J.D. does not stand for Jose Diaz. Ethnicities aside, Drew is a better hitter and his perceived value is low. Sexson got four-years $50 million for chrissakes, not only is Drew better than him, but he is not coming off a major injury with major question marks. Drew is going to be the steal of the year.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

 

Let the Insanity Begin

Like it or not, Pedro is coming to the Mets. The press conference took place this morning and if it is an indicator of things to come, the upcoming season will certainly be entertaining. It was a zoo at Shea as Omar hooged the mic, the media fired question, and Pedro smiled like a man who just signed a contract for millions of dollars. All speculation about the health of Pedro’s arm aside, the Mets are shaping up to have a very strong rotation. They all have question marks, but I’ll break down the rotation 1-5.

Pedro Martinez-The doubts surrounding his health have been well documented so it is not worth going into too much depth. If healthy, he is going to be nasty and his ERA is going to look mighty nice at Shea. There are a lot of Red Sox and Yankees fans talking about how foolish this move is for the Mets. I have outlined my questions before, and the Mets need to make sure they can get extra rest for Pedro when possible. He has proven to be far better on more than four days rest so getting some spot starts from a long reliever could go a long way towards maximizing Pedro's effectiveness. There has been a lot of criticism about this move and there are legitimate concerns. But for other fans, particularly Red Sox fans, to be ridiculing this move and snickering about how Pedro is a ticking time bomb, they should stop drinking their Haterade. The Sox and Yanks both pursued this guy and didn't get him. As I've said before, if his arm is in such bad shape, the Red Sox would know better than anyone yet they were offering him a lot of money as well.

Tom Glavine-Looked great for the first half of 2004 but fell off in the second half as he posted an ERA of 5.06 after the break. This can be attributed to higher walk and HR rates. In September alone, he allowed 9 homers. Glavine ended the season with an ERA of 3.60, which I would be pleased to get from him again. A little more consistency would be nice though. He needs to pitch 200 innings this season for his 2006 option to kick in, so it will be interesting to see how the Mets use him, particularly if they are out of the race.

Steve Trachsel-There are a lot of mixed feelings out there about Trachsel as a pitcher, but when it comes down to it, he has been excellent for the Mets. His ERA over the last three seasons is 3.73 in 581.0 IP. You would like to see him pitching more than 200 innings per year, but you can’t argue with his performance when he is on the mound. It is somewhat difficult to understand how he does it because his career K/9 is 6.06 and his career K/BB is 1.89 while giving up 26 homers per season. I guess he just lulls the hitters to sleep somewhat time-consuming ritual between pitches.

Kris Benson-The former #1 overall pick has never quite lived up to the expectations that come with being that selection. Then again, neither has Paul Wilson. Now that the Mets have locked him up for the next three seasons, it is up to Rick “I think I see something in him” Peterson to get something out of this guy who obviously has talent. He has had his share of arm problems, so keeping him healthy (as with all pitchers really) is the primary concern. Looking at his peripherals, his biggest problem seems to be lack of Ks. He doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (1.29 career groundball/flyball) so he needs to miss more bats as batters have hit .266 against him for his career. His best year, 2000, his K/9 was 7.61 but every other year it has been no higher than 6.75 and only 6.02 last season. He needs to find a way to get back to his 2000 form.

Victor Zambrano
-Forever to be remembered in Mets lore as the man acquired for Scott Kazmir. In fact, he should consider legally changing his name to, “Victor Zambrano, acquired for top prospect Scott Kazmir.” We have him, so it’s time to move past Kazmir and live with him. Say what you want, he is an intriguing talent. He came up as a shortstop but converted to pitcher and has amazing natural movement on his pitches, just not much control of them. Enter Rick “black windbreaker in the dead of summer” Peterson. The question is whether or not Victor Zambrano can cut down on his walks while maintaining his ability to make hitters swing and miss. I have confidence that Peterson can turn him into an effective pitcher and he will be the most exciting Mets’ pitcher to watch this season, besides Pedro Martinez.

Other thoughts…Apparently, the
Mets get a supplemental first round pick for their failure to sign Phillip Humber. They’ll need it as they will lose a first round pick for signing Pedro Martinez. If you get an extra first rounder for not signing your first rounder, why don’t teams say to their picks, “We want to sign you, but let’s wait until after the deadline for us to get an extra pick?” I don’t fully understand how this works. If someone could explain it to me, I would appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 

I Got a Fever, And The Only Prescription...Is More Pedro!

Mets fans wait with baited breath for the results of Pedro’s MRI. Wondering if it will reveal anything that could be a deal-breaker. As someone who knows little of things, I was pleased to see that injury-guru Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus weighed in on the topic today.

Is there a labrum tear there? Possibly, but no MRI is going to give a significant degree of confidence. There is only one way to diagnose a labrum tear:
arthroscopic surgery. MRIs of this nature are notoriously difficult to read…The question becomes whether or not that damage is symptomatic. Is there clicking, popping, catching or pain in Pedro Martinez's shoulder? Only Martinez himself knows the answer. Asymptomatic pitchers can certainly have some success while being ticking time bombs. Martinez has shown himself to be an effective pitcher over the past couple seasons.

While it’s amusing to read each New York’s manifesto as to whether or not the Pedro deal is good for the Mets, I’m glad Mr. Carroll is around because unlike every other writer, he has some idea of what he is talking about when it comes to injuries.

That being said, his insight does not convince me one way or the other on if this is a good move or not. Unlike most Mets’ fans and writers, I do not have a strong opinion either way on the subject. When it comes down to it, I am always an optimist when it comes to Mets transactions. Even if the smart baseball fan in me recognizes the stupidity of certain moves, I still thought, “If all breaks right, maybe Scott Erickson can recapture his 1991 form!” In this case my thought is, “Pedro will take down the NL like Don Zimmer!” For the first two seasons, I feel confident that this will be the case. As for years three and four, I am not nearly as confident but then again, it is not our money.

One luxury the Mets have is that a lot of their big contracts will be coming to an end over the next two seasons.
Past 2006, they are only on the hook for $5.5 million, and they have some prospects that could potentially step in when those contracts expire. When Pedro signs, that would bring the guaranteed money up to about $19 million for 2007 depending on who you believe as to the value of Pedro’s contract. Granted, that is only for a couple of roster spots, but it gives the Mets plenty of room to work with when you consider that Wright and Reyes will still be a couple of years away from free agency and hopefully Yusmeiro Petit and Phillip Humber will be anchoring the rotation.

As for other Mets acquisitions, Omar seems to be entering the Carlos Delgado sweepstakes. Unfortunately, with Richie Sexson on the verge of signing an absurd four-year $48 million contract, Delgado is now demanding four-years which, like Pedro, is a year more than he deserves. Unlike Pedro, the Mets are not bidding against a team he wants to stay with so it is possible he could be had for three-years. As reader Bernard Gilkey points out,
Josh Phelps has been designated for assignment and the Indians have 10 days to trade, release or put him on waivers. He could provide a low risk/high reward solution at first. The guy has power (career IsoP of .211) and is worth taking a flyer on if their other first base dreams don’t pan out. As I’ve pointed out before, unless they significantly upgrade their offense in the outfield, they need someone offense from first base.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

 

Paid-ro

When the Mets would be involved in crazy rumors or make awful transactions, I used to get mad. I would get a Mets fan friend on the phone and rail on the move and say, “what the %&*# were they thinking?” Now, I just laugh. Really, what else can you do? While the Mets may not provide the best entertainment on the field, the certainly provide some of the best off of it. How else can you explain their insane pursuit of Pedro Martinez?

After it seeming like Pedro was just using the Mets to up the offer from the Red Sox, now it appears as though he was using the Mets to get the Sox to up their offer to get the Mets to up their offer. It worked. All signs indicate Petey is bound for Flushing with a four-year contract in the $52 million range. This is on the heels of a rumor that the Mets were discussing sending Cliff Floyd and prospectus to the Sox in exchange for Manny Ramirez and Doug Mientkiewicz. If Omar’s goal was to make a proverbial splash, he is John Goodman doing a cannonball in a kiddie pool.

As I noted in a previous post, barring major injury Pedro should be an effective top of the rotation starter for the next three years. That statement; however, has two major qualifications; three years and major injury. As we know, he contract is for four years and as
Jayson Stark is reporting, Pedro’s has what some believe to be a 90% labrum tear. The contract is worrisome, but for Omar to lure Pedro from Boston, he had to offer him something that Boston wouldn’t, a fourth guaranteed year. As for the labrum, I have no idea but if he does have a large labrum tear, wouldn’t Boston know and if they did, why would they offer him a penny? Supposedly the Mets want Pedro to have an MRI as part of his physical but he is hesitant. Shocking. Whether or not he has a labrum tear remains to be seen, but if you are a pitcher who is about to sign a major guaranteed contract, the less they know about your arm the better. Whether or not the MRI happens is something we should keep a close eye on.

The thought of Pedro in a Mets uniform is exciting and I would certainly make a point to watch his first few starts; as for the future of the organization, there were smarter moves. For example, the Mets would be better off signing Matt Clement or Odalis Perez for about $20 million less. Not only are they good bets to be as good as Pedro over the next four years, they are better bets to stay healthy. That is my ongoing problem with the Mets’ management, they make moves that are not about baseball. Will Pedro sell a few extra tickets? Yes. Will he make them a better bet to reach the playoffs over each of the next four seasons? No. In the spectrum of potential Mets’ moves this offseason, the Pedro acquisition is not the worst move they could’ve made, but it is certainly not the best. Let’s just hope that
Nelson De La Rosa is included in the deal.

Other thoughts…The rumored Manny deal is not worth it. When I read the Mets would be sending “Cliff Floyd and prospects” for Manny and Minky, I cringed. Manny is my favorite player in baseball, but this is business and the Mets should hold on to their top prospects, they actually have some good ones even after this summer’s debacleMoises Alou, bleech. If it’s one year, it isn’t terrible, but I don’t see a benefit to itI got very excited when I heard Richie Sexson was headed to Seattle but it isn’t official yet, let’s keep our fingers crossed...No Mets were taken in the Rule 5 draft, I am not sure if this is good news or bad news.



Thursday, December 09, 2004

 

More Sexin'! I mean Sexson.

Rumors are a-flying that Richie Sexson is the apple of Omar’s eye. As I discussed yesterday, I think this is a bad idea. All things being equal, Delgado is the superior player. When you consider that Delgado is not coming off a major injury and was not offered arbitration, it tilts the scale even more in his favor. Sexson is younger, but he is not “young” and old enough that we know he is not going to get significantly better. I could go into greater depth of the statistical discrepancy of these two players, but I don’t even think it is worth it. It would probably just make me angrier about this and force me to put my fist through my monitor. Go to their player pages on ESPN.com and see for yourself.

Richie Sexson
Carlos Delgado

I do not understand any argument that favors Sexson over Delgado. In fact, I believe Sexson is such a risk that I would prefer the Mets sign neither than sign Sexson for the type of money he is commanding. Based on what Troy Glaus is getting from Arizona (4-years, $45 million) it is safe to assume that Sexson will get similar dollars. When you consider the questions surrounding his injury, I’d say pass. As I’ve noted before, this is an injury similar to the one Shawn Green had, and he has not been the same player since. Why would the Mets consider giving big money to such a high-risk player? Just because they got burned by not signing Vladimir Guerrero does not mean that Sexson will work out. Also, based on his injury history there is now way the Sexson contract would be insurable a la Mo Vaughn.

My hope is that the Mets are throwing up a smoke screen to hide their true agenda. While I disagree with the Yankees signings of Womack and Wright, they did a good job of hiding their interest in each player as we never really heard them rumored to be going to the Yanks, and the Mets could learn from that. Maybe Cashman can teach a seminar?

I’ll be gone for a few days but will be back next week with commentary on the winter meetings. Here’s to not screwing up!


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

 

I've Got a New Drug

As I opened up my browser this morning, I had no idea what I was in store for. While I have never taken any intravenous drugs, I can imagine the feeling now as much to my surprise and excitement, there has already been a lot of action in the wake of the arbitration offering deadline. I don’t really know how to handle it all, so pardon me if some of my thoughts are incoherent.

If the Mets needed another reason to go after Carlos Delgado over Richie Sexson, they got it when Sexson was offered arbitration and Delgado was not. The Mets can now make a hard run at Carlos without having to worry about giving up draft pick compensation. For those who think draft pick compensation is overrated, remember that the Mets drafted David Wright with a compensation pick they got from Colorado when they signed Mike Hampton. While Sexson is younger, he will demand more money and possibly a longer contract as a result when he is only two years younger and is coming off an injury that we don’t know how he is going recover from. Delgado is much more of a sure thing, we know what to expect and it is excellent. He is 32 and if the Mets can get him for a three-year contract, they can be confident will be productive for the life of the contract.

As for Sexson, his career line of .271/.349/.528 is nice, but there was no discernible upward trend before he got injured which leads us to believe that at best, that is what we can expect. His highest OPS season was 2003 (.927) but even then, his VORP (Value Over Replacement Level, as determined by Baseball Prospectus) was 51.0, about 5 wins while Delgado’s was 66.6 wins that season, closer to 7 wins. The point is, that even at his best, Sexson is not as good as Delgado offensively. Defensively, Sexson has the better rep, but UZR has Delgado rated –2 from 2000-2003 and Sexson a –3 while Prospectus’ Runs Above Replacement (RAR) gives Sexson a 97 to 50 advantage for their career. These can guys can both rake, but neither of them are going to make us forget Keith Hernandez with the cowhide.

Speaking of defense, there is also talk about the Mets trying to acquire Doug Mientkiewicz based on his defense. This is nonsense. His defensive reputation has been completely inflated based on being part of the Red Sox championship late-inning defensive team. He is not worth giving anything up for as he is essentially a zero with the bat, at least for a first baseman. The Mets need offense from first base as they ranked 12th in the NL in runs scored last year (8th in runs allowed) and got little from a position most teams get a lot from. They would be better off with a Valent/Phillips platoon at first, which wouldn’t be terrible because Valent would get the majority of the ABs due to the fact there are more righties out there and could hold his own based on his .836 OPS against righties last season. I realize it is only one season, but his discerning eye leads me to believe he can maintain it. I shouldn’t worry too much as Mientkiewicz is a gringo and Omar does not seem interested in acquiring any of those. Then again, neither Delgado or Sexson is Dominican so we could have a problem there. Delgado is hispanic so he is closer, but he is Puerto Rican and as anyone from Washington Heights knows (I grew up in Washington Heights), Puerto Ricans and Dominicans don't like eachother. So who knows?

Another element in the equation is that Delgado is a left-handed hitter. This should not be a major factor, but should be considered since the Mets lack a lefty with significant power. Delgado also took a stand against standing for “God Bless America,” which I fully support.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I will stick with what I learned from the Bush campaign and stay on message. Sexson is a high risk signing (as is Magglio Ordonez for that matter), and these are not players the Mets should be making large investments in right now. If the Mets are going to make a point to sign acquire a new first baseman, and it seems like they are, the best option is Carlos Delgado unless he asks for the moon and the sky. In that case, the Mets can tell him to “God Bless deez nuts.”

Other thoughts…Moises Alou to the Mets? I’ll take “Omar’s obsession with Dominican players for $500, Alex.” I can’t root for anyone who has peed on more skin than R. Kelly. Not to mention the fact that he is 80I don’t know what the Yanks are thinking with the Womack and Wright signings. Womack is thought of as a lead-off hitter, but his career OBP is .319. He will have the worst OBP on the Yankees yet getting the most PAs. I hope those 25 SB are worth it. Signing two guys coming off their best years who both have major question marks is not good business. It seems like Steinbrenner is running the ship again. I can enjoy this until the Mets start their stupidityLeiter back to the Fish, good luck Al. We’ll miss you, but not your clubhouse politicking or your 50 pitch innings.




Monday, December 06, 2004

 

You Like a The Juice?

I don't know about you guys, but I have been looking forward to Dec. 7th for weeks. After midnight tomorrow, teams can no longer offer arbitration to their free agents so the big name signings will finally happen. I was hoping Al Leiter would sign before tomorrow so the Mets could get some picks, but it looks like it won't happen. The big signings probably won't happen right away, but at least we know it can go down at any time. This has been lost in the shuffle a little bit due to the steroids outrage, so before I get to the Mets first base situation which I will do tomorrow, I figured I'd weight in. Everyone else gets to, why not me? So excuse me while I step on my proverbial soap box.

Based on the average columnist and ESPN polls, everyone seems upset that Giambi and Bonds have essentially admitted to taking steroids and who knows who else did as well. Should there be asterisks? Should there be new standards? The steroids issue never really bothered me. I have always found it odd where we draw our lines over what are acceptable methods of enhancing ones performance. For example, what Curt Schilling did before Game 6 against the Yankees was by no means a natural means of preparing for a game and if you need to take the measures he did to pitch, you probably shouldn't be pitching. When guys have to shoot up cortisone and various horse tranquilizers to play, that doesn't seem right to me yet when they do it, they are lauded as heroes and warriors.

Another issues I have always had is that it is possible to bulk up without Vitamin S. Baseball players used to never lift weights because they thought it ruined their swing. Yet in the early 90's, players started bulking up. Is this where steroids came in? Was it inevitable? I guess, but if you never lifted weights and then became a weightlifting fiend for 10 years, wouldn't you get a lot bigger? This is the argument I used to use to defend Barry Bonds. That argument seems weak now because Bonds has essentially admitted he used steroids albeit unknowingly. Beyond Bonds, it applies to other players suspected of juicing because it is possible to get a lot bigger the old fashioned way, by lifting weights.

Lastly, what about pitchers? Isn't Roger Clemens as likely a steroid candidate as anyone else based on his age, size and performance? No one talks about it, but if there are as many pitchers as hitters juicing as hitters, doesn't that level out the playing field to some degree?

I tend to assume that there are a lot more players juicing than we think. There is not that much known about the side effects of steroids but they don't seem healthy. If players want to risk their health, it is not going to change my enjoyment of the game. I would prefer if the players didn't, but I am not going to get high and mighty about the sanctity of the game when every era had it's issues. Babe Ruth set his records without having to compete agains black and Latin American players. The old days are romanticized for pitchers who threw spitballs and various illegal pitches, yet that is seen as part of the charm of the history of the game even though they are illegal.

You can find flaws in any era and the records and the game are not as pure as the average scribe would have you believe.


Thursday, December 02, 2004

 

Jose, No Way!

For those who were wondering, Jose Reyes is playing in the Dominican Winter league. Here is a note from Fox Sports.

Wed Dec 1 2004 - Jose Reyes had three more hits yesterday and is now batting .362 in the Dominican Winter League. Reyes also has five extra-base hits, five walks and no torn hamstrings in 52 at-bats.

Great news Mets fans! Reyes is playing, playing well and even drawing some walks. Now this is the dreaded “small sample,” but it is better than nothing. Here is another note from the same link.

Wed Nov 17 2004 - Jose Reyes homered and singled yesterday for Cibao of the Dominican Winter League. Reyes has decided to play winter ball even though he might be better off continuing to work on his hamstring problems. The Mets don't seem especially concerned one way or the other.

It’s true, the Mets don’t seem too concerned either way and that is frightening. While Omar Minaya is off chasing every player this side of Jason Giambi, a potential franchise cornerstone is off playing in the Dominican Republic when he could be strengthening his hamstring. How does this happen? Why is Reyes not working his ass off to do everything in his power to play a full season? Even if the Mets can’t force him to do it, isn’t it in his best interest to do whatever he can to prevent re-injry so he can become rich and famous? I just don’t get it. He is such a tantalizing talent and he seems destined to never reach his full potential. It sounds like what my 9th grade biology teacher said to me. At least he is playing well in the DR, but watching him is like watching Fred Taylor try and cut on a muddy day, you can’t watch and enjoy, you are just waiting for him to get hurt.


Other thoughts…I don’t know where any of you were today, but you should have been at Sotheby’s. In an auction of “Important Baseball Memorabilia” Ed Kranepool’s 1973 NL Championship ring fetched $9,000 and a 1986 full-sized World Series trophy got $34,500, ten grand above the estimate. Never accuse Mets fans of being cheap! I didn’t know this but they also produce a few full-sized versions of the championship trophy. Supposedly, Kranepool has been selling off a lot of his old mementos. I don’t know if he needs the money or what, but it strikes me as depressing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

 

Anna and the Bat Boys

Maybe the Mets overpaid for Kris Benson, you know what, I don’t care. You want to know why? Check out today’s Page Six in the New York Post. Anna appeared on Howard Stern yesterday and for those who listened, you got an amazing treat. Here are some of her gems.

"I told him [Kris] — because that's the biggest thing in athletics, they cheat all the time — I told him, cheat on me all you want. If you get caught, I'm going to screw everybody on your entire team — coaches, trainers, players. I would do everybody on his whole team."

"Even the coaches? What about, like, the bat boys?" Asked Stern.
"Everybody would get a turn," Anna pledged. "If my husband cheated on me and embarrassed me like that, I will embarrass him more than he could ever imagine."


Excuse while I apply for the next available job with the Mets.

Ok, I’m back. Having Anna Benson associated with this team is the best thing that has happened to the Mets since they brought back Mr. Met. You cannot put a price on the type of material that Anna Benson provides. In fact, I think the Mets should put her on the payroll; she should do public appearances for the team. She is somehow leveraging her status as the wife of a mediocre pitcher and turning herself into a C-list celebrity. If she plays her cards right, she could earn a spot on the next season of The Surreal Life with Urkel, Lou Vega and Jessie Spano.

They might lose 90 games again, but with Anna Benson on board, there will never be a shortage of amusing stories.

Other thoughts...The ESPN Rumor Mill has the Yankees offering Javier Vazquez, Tom Gordon, Eric Duncan and $4 million per year for Vazquez’s contract for Randy Johnson. For those who don’t know, Eric Duncan is a 20-year old third baseman who Baseball America just rated the Yankees best prospect. Gordon was arguably the best reliever in baseball last season, are they counting on Steve Karsay and Tanyon Sturtze? Also, Vazquez is not as bad as he pitched in the second half. Does anyone remember he was an All-Star? Yes, this is just a rumor, but if it happens, it is another step in the Yankees downfall.

At some point, they will start losing money and if Steinbrenner has to lose money for the Yankees to win a World Series, that is fine with me because the joke is on him. If he were smart, he could have a chance at the playoffs every year while making a fortunre. Hasn’t he learned anything the last few years? Now matter how good you are or how much you spend, you cannot guarantee post-season success. On top of that, they are getting to the point where they might not even be that good anymore because the keep getting older. The Big Unit trade might be good in the short term, but it hurts them down the road much like the Giambi acquisition.


The Yankees are screwing themselves and if Kris Benson gets lonely on the road, the Mets could be screwing Anna Benson. I think the Mets get the better end of that. Let’s Go Mets!


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