Chuck 'n' Duck

"I'm a very optimistic person. When you're optimistic, the good opportunities, good fortune, good everything will come with it." - Jae Seo Chuck 'n' Duck: the New York Mets from an Eternal Optimist's P.O.V.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Around the World of Baseball

With the exception of Pedro Martinez, the Mets are up to nothing today, except for an interesting New York Post article that features Guy Conti, Pedro's old friend from the Dodgers organization, and the new Mets bullpen coach.

In it Conti states that he believes Martinez could be the Mets' version of Roger Clemens, a guy who comes from the American League to the National League and gives his team a big boost. While that remains to be seen, a paragraph caught my eye: Meanwhile, Conti's point about Clemens is particularly interesting when examining Martinez's and Clemens' recent performances. In Clemens' last year in the AL (2003 with the Yanks), he went 17-9 with a 3.91 ERA. This past year with Boston, Martinez's numbers (16-9, 3.90) were nearly identical. Then, facing non-DH lineups in the NL last season, Clemens went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA.

Certainly something to think about.

While there's not much new news, there was still some fun ex-Mets goings-ons in baseball while the Mets waited in anticipation.

First off, I can't say it any better than what John Minko said during the "20/20 Update" report on WFAN this afternoon: "And the Giants with a big signing today, Armando Benitez - three years *chuckle* 21 million dollars."

What has happened to Brian Sabean? Wasn't this guy considered one of the top five general managers in baseball three years ago? Wasn't he being praised for spending the money on his payroll wisely? Building a contender with great trades and fiscal responsibility? And now he's throwing money at Omar Vizquel and Armando Benitez? To quote Fred Willard: "Wha' happened?"

'Mando thinks Mets/Braves is bad? I can't wait to see what'll happen when he's pitching against the Dodgers down the stretch, looking for a playoff spot. Can you say "implosion"?

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Meanwhile, Paul Wilson, former Mets first-round pick re-signed with the Reds to the tune of 8.2 million over the next two years. Wilson's numbers were nothing to write home about, but he was somehow able to win games and keep his ERA low. Whether or not he can continue to do so is a whole other issue entirely, and probably not a likely one. But hey, with the pitching staff the Reds have got, it looks like they've locked up an ace in comparison.

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Anna Benson was on the Howard Stern show today, and you can find the recap here. The interview was, um... er... well, interesting? Even if the Mets don't get Pedro, at least we'll have this nutjob running around Shea.

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And finally, in the aforementioned Post article, Hale states that the Mets are considering, albeit lightly, trading for Douggie Mientkiewicz for first base. Go for it. This is a deal I would love to see the Mets make: great defense, gap hitter, gets onbase, and relatively young. It's exactly what the Mets need and are looking for, and it saves them from spending ten million on Richie Sexson, freeing up money for a certain centerfield acquisition. Nice.

Officially Official

Shea Stadium is a pitcher's park. For years and years pitchers have arrived at Shea, and found themselves able to throw the ball unlike they'd been able to before. With it's ample outfield, deep alleys, a centerfield that seemingly stretches on forever, and moderate sized foul territory, it is the perfect place to raise a young pitcher.

And it's a pretty nice place to build a rotation.

Even if you're a casual fan you know that free agent hitters won't be coming to the Mets to pad their stats. The Mets play in a park that demands pitching and defense above all else, and it eats up teams that try to ignore it. So, if all else fails, a return to the days of Seaver and Koosman, Gooden and Darling, and Hampton and Leiter seems in order. And if you don't have that special ace type to turn the rotation over to already in your system, you need to go out and find it.

The Mets believe they have.

While Omar remains tight-lipped about the whole thing, a "Major League Source" states that the Mets are going to go hard after Pedro Martinez, offering him a three-year, 38 million dollar deal. Essientially, the Mets have just offered Martinez what the Red Sox have been pitching, only with a guaranteed third year. Is it enough to get a deal done? Not by a long shot. But it's a step in the direction they want to go, regardless of whether or not it's the right one.

I, personally, wouldn't mind if they guaranteed the four years, but it's the money that has me worried. Knowing that many ballclubs are beginning to take a hard stance on contracts that extend past the three year mark, the Mets would certainly better their chances with a guaranteed fourth year as well. But I would rather not see the Mets going farther above the 12.5 million mark. That's dangerous territory to be going into.

For those of you who are weary about the possibility of Pedro becoming a Met, I offer you the idea that swayed me, and that is that Shea would be a huge asset to him. Pedro has always been one to challenge hitters, whether it be with his fastball, his changeup, or a breaking pitch. But where Fenway may soon not be taking the declining speed of Pedro's pitches lightly, Shea Stadium gives him the perfect opportunity to showcase his pitching mentality, with far less fear that what is hit could become runs.

If the money is right, and with a guy like Pedro that is a big if, I could see being happy with the Mets making a move for him. This isn't another Tom Glavine (although the contract offer similarities are striking), where Mets fans are banking on an old control pitcher. Pedro is still relatively young, and what he did last year trumps anything any Mets pitcher has done for quite some time.

If anything, we at least now know where Minaya will be placing the most emphasis, and that's on the pitching. And at ol' Shea Stadium, nothing breeds championships better.

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And in other news, it seems as though Al Leiter may be gearing up to join the cross town rivals. Most people assumed this would happen, him being a playoff/New York tested lefty and all. I wish Al the best of luck when he nets 14 - 18 wins for the Yanks next year. The fact still remains the Mets just aren't at that stage where they can offer a guy a one-year contract just so the guy can win his 100th game as a Met. It's that kind of thinking that landed us John Franco for six years past his usefulness.

Meanwhile, I can only hope the Mets use the draft picks netted from the Yankees to take the next David Wright. Al can have his year in the sun, and the Mets can add on key pieces to a pretty solid minor league organization. It's a win-win situation.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Minaya's Muted Moves

While I was away, Omar Minaya was out and about, reaching out to some free agents: two in particular. And if he had his way, you'd never know.

I think it's safe to say that Minaya wants to make a splash this offseason, bringing the Mets fanbase, as well as the future Mets network, some big name stars. The latest is Pedro Martinez, whom Omar met with over Thanksgiving, trying his darndest to keep the thing under wraps.

Meanwhile, in today's New York Post, in a one sentence blurb you may have passed by, we find: In other news, the Mets have reportedly offered Richie Sexson a contract for approximately $10 million per year, although the length of the contract is unclear.

What's going on here? Is somebody finally figuring out how to be a general manager of the New York Mets? For too long this organization has been announcing the players they want to sign to the general public. It's a mistake that's been made by both Steve Phillips and Jim Duquette, as GMs in the largest market in sports. By declaring yourselves in the market for a certain player, this gives the player an advantage. He can now go to other teams, let them know the Mets are interested in him and therefore are willing to pay him more money. Now this guy can go and find better money elsewhere, just by having proof that a high-profile ballclub is interested in him, and the Mets are stuck inevitably with second-fiddle ballplayers.

Minaya, to his credit, is not making this mistake. The Pedro news was broke by the Associated Press, and was something Omar had no intention of letting anybody know about. Now that the Yankees know the Mets are interested, would anybody be surprised to see an official deal from them? It's a vicious cycle the Mets have been stuck in for awhile now, and it's nice to see somebody trying to get them out of it.

However, the Sexson news to me is far more interesting than Pedro's, for the simple fact that I can't remember the last time the Mets made an offer to a high-profile free agent and it wasn't huge news. Sexson, I feel, would be the best first base option out of the free agent market. I still throw my support behind Mientkiewicz, but I could definitely see Theo trading Millar instead and keeping Doug's defense at first. If this is true, then Sexson, who is 29 years old and entering his prime, would be a great fit. And at 6'8" there will certainly be a cut down on wild throws from a maturing infield.

Of course, Pedro and Sexson as Mets would pretty much finish the Carlos Beltran discussion. But if the Mets could land Magglio Ordonez with a one-year, show-me contract, that has the makings of a pretty solid looking ballclub. The rotation would automatically become one of the best in the National League... Pedro, Glavine, Zambrano, Benson, Trachsel. That sounds promising.

Meanwhile, if everybody's healthy (and with a new medical staff onboard, there stands a chance it just could happen) the lineup could be one of the better ones as well. And on top of it all, it would put Victor Diaz in left-field. Everything's coming up Milhouse!

Side note: Does anyone else continually forget Willie Randolph is the Mets manager? Every time I see his name along with the title, it shakes me back into reality.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Cost of Greatness

Fans and managment alike get attached to greatness. It’s why whatever Daryl Strawberry does involving drugs, drinking and infidelity he still gets job offers from the New York Yankees. It’s why a visibly intoxicated Joe Namath can come onto Suzy Colber, an ESPN reporter, on national television, and still be doing radio commercials as the face of the Jets franchise two months later.

And it’s why John Henry, George Steinbrenner, and now apparently Omar Minaya are ignoring the signs that Pedro Martinez could quite possibly be rapidly declining and thinking of throwing money at him.

Pedro's ERA jumped last year. And not by a half run, or a full run, or even a run and a half. It jumped up a full 1.68. Given Pedro's injury history, the fact that his fastball was clearly not with him for long stretches last year, and also when he was dialing it up in the postseason he didn't seem to have much control of it speaks volumes on the risk of injury Pedro Martinez could pose.

Now, as a person who hates the Yankees and has been following the Red Sox for about four years, I happen to like Pedro Martinez. When he's on, he's the best in the game. And I certainly feel that a jump to the National League would give him a rebirth, pitching-wise. Getting out of a pretty offensively stacked AL East, and away from the DH rule could work wonders for his earned run average. But, I’ll put it simple: Pedro Martinez is not worth 13 million a year. And unless you’re paying for past performance, which seems to be what the teams that are bidding on Pedro’s services are doing, he’s not worth 12 million either.

There's been a long held belief that pitchers of small stature don’t last long. While there's never really been proof that this holds water one way or another, there's been pretty solid evidence that pitchers of small stature, that are dominant for a period of time, and throw 96 - 98 MPH last even shorter. Proof? Go ask all those post-WWII dominant Hall of Fame pitchers under 6’0” or 200 pounds.

Is this all for nothing? More than likely. I don't see Omar going out and spending big money on Pedro Martinez. He's got the right idea with Clement and Pavano. Replacing an aging, breaking down lefty with a younger aging, breaking down righty doesn't make the team any younger or more athletic. But a Clement certainly can go a long way. And a top three of Clement, Benson and Zambrano, if they all live up to their potential? I'm salivating.


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I'm off to New England for Thanksgiving, and will be back sometime over the weekend. The guys to the side will take care of you, I'm sure. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Future Fireballers and Trade Facilitators: Part II

In the second part, I'm going over guys who are probably a year away. While Heilman, Soler and Keppel could conceivably see time in the big leagues at the start of the season (not, necessarily that they should), these guys will more than likely start the season in the minors.


title or descriptionPhilip Humber
6'4", 210, Righthander
Throws: 91 - 93 MPH Fastball, Curve, Changeup and Split-Finger

The mysterious and elusive Philip Humber was drafted in June, the third pick overall by the Mets organization. Humber was the first drafted of the three Rice pitchers who were all picked up in the first eight spots. While Jeff Niemann was considered the starter with the best stuff, Humber was known as being the most polished and capable of helping quickly. His numbers while at Rice University were quite solid, including his senior year where he finished 13-3 with a 2.27 ERA, striking out 154 in 115 innings while walking only 37. Once signed Humber will more than likely be the number one pitcher in the minors, and possibly could stand to be their top prospect as well. When Humber will sign seems to be the bigger question however, as their has been little to no news of progress on the contract front. It was believed that Humber was waiting for Niemann and Townsend to sign their deals before he signed his own, but Townsend decided to go back to school before signing and his contract situation is hazy at best and Niemann is in the same holding pattern as Philip. While no one really knows what is going on, I tend to believe that because Humber wants a major league contract, the Mets are waiting until after the Rule V Draft and free agent signings. When these are taken care of, they will sign Humber and then be able to put him on the Major League roster. Of course, this is only speculation on my part, but all other reasons for taking this long don't seem to hold water. Humber is considered a workhorse-type, and major league scouts says his stuff has the makings of a quality starter in the major leagues. He has strong command of all his pitches, particularly his curveball, which he himself deemed the "best in the country". He also should keep his brashness in check, or else Al Leiter may have him traded away to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Danys Baez. I apologize.


title or descriptionYusmeiro Petit
6'0", 230, Righthander
Throws: 90 - 92 MPH Fastball, Changeup, Curveball, Slider

If you had been following the low, low minors of the Mets last year, then you knew the name Yusmeiro Petit. However, if you guys who aren't close to major-league ready aren't your bag, then Yusi probably came out of nowhere. Petit has spent two seasons now posting phenomenal numbers, all the while having players and scouts alike scratching their heads wondering how he's doing it. While most minor leaguers can end up using their stuff to get them to the upper levels, and then get hit hard in AAA and the big leagues where they can no longer use that trick, Petit is seemingly immune to this. Lacking overpowering stuff, Yusmeiro relies solely on control and placement of his pitches, and it has definitely worked thus far. His fastball is in the low 90's, and many scouts believe it won't be picking up any additional speed, but he knows when to use it, and when to drop a curveball or slider. Only 20 years old, Petit will more than likely spend one more year in the minors, probably starting out at AA again before the major New York papers discover him and the Mets move him to AAA. This should, by all means land him on the Mets in 2006, but with Rick Peterson the "GM of Pitchers", you never know.


title or descriptionMatt Lindstrom
6'5", 215, Righthander
Throws: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup

Lindstrom recently got some notoriety as he was placed on the 40-Man roster over guys like Blake McGinley and Royce Ring. If one were to quickly glance over Lindstrom's numbers they'd find a slightly-above average minor league career out of a guy who's already 24 years old. But Lindstrom is not your average minor league starter. Sporting a fastball that tops out around 96 MPH, Lindstrom has an above-average 12-6 curveball that he uses as his out pitch. Matt's pitching career is an interesting story, as he had limited coaching in high school, and no pitching coach while attending Ricks college. He also spent two years away from the game on a Mormon mission in Sweden. All of this however has not stopped him from putting up real solid numbers, and he's only been getting better. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America states: "Lindstrom's stuff compares favorably with almost anyone in the system. He still has to get his mechanics refined and become more consistent, but Lindstrom has a chance to be a very solid No. 3 starter in the majors." Lindstrom will more than likely start the year out at Norfolk this year, and where his career goes from there is anybody's guess. While he definitely has the stuff, he may not be there in terms of experience yet. But Omar Minaya has already showed some faith that Lindstrom will be able to help the major league roster in the near future, and I would have to agree with him.

Many thanks to Ed over at NYFS for providing the pictures of our minor leaguers. If you're ever looking for shots of some of the future Mets, Ed's got you covered with pictures and info of darn near all of them.

Do you think I missed any pitchers? I'd like to think that Kevin Deaton might stand a shot, and Brian Bannister as well, though he's probably more than a year or two away. Let me know.

Future Fireballers and Trade Facilitators: Part I

There has been a lot of emphasis placed on the Mets starting rotation this offseason, as the major free agents the Mets have take up 2/5ths of it. With the signing of Kris Benson, the Mets have locked up four members of a rotation that -- if all breaks well -- could end up being real good.

With two young pitchers in Benson and Victor Zambrano the Mets are going to have to look to the future for arms to replace the arms of the other three members of the Mets rotation, the "Big" Three: Tom Glavine, Al Leiter and Steve Trachsel. But to whom do the Mets turn? Do they go out and sign a Matt Clement or a Carl Pavano? Or can they entrust these spots to the remaining members of a minor league pitching staff?

If looking in-house is the road the Mets eventually choose to take, these are certainly some viable candidates. Because nothing else of considerable note is going on with the Mets, I will run down some of the top arms in the Mets organization over the next few days.


title or descriptionAaron Heilman
6'5", 225, Righthander
Throws: Solid 89 - 92 MPH Fastball, Solid Changeup, Iffy Split-Finger, Lousy Slider

The former first round pick out of Notre Dame, Heilman came to the Mets organization amidst much fanfare. Aaron was a college pitcher, which usually means less time in the minors and a better chance of quickly helping the big league club. This didn't turn out to be the case, as Heilman spent parts of three seasons in the minors and his starts in 2003 were largely unencouraging, although did prompt one of my favorite lines overheard at Shea Stadium: "Are you sure they play baseball at Notre Dame? Because it don't look it." When Heilman was called up last year it seemed to be more of the same, as he got hammered in his first couple starts. However, Heilman had seemed to turn something of a corner down the stretch last year. As young pitchers tend to do, Aaron seemed to have one real bad inning in most of his late season starts, while pitching a real solid game for the rest of the innings. If Heilman can minimize the damage done in those innings, he could be a very servicable starter, something in the mold of a Rick Helling or a Jeff Supan isn't out of the question. The sticking point is if he'll ever get the chance while a New York Met. The Mets like to bring up youth and have them succeed for the team. But when they don't, it's very hard for the player to overcome the damage they've done and are replaced by proven veterans. If Heilman can find the chance to dodge this bullet for a pretty average ballclub, time will tell. If this team had a chance for a playoff run, he'd more than likely already be gone.


title or descriptionAlay Soler
6'4", 240, Righthander
Throws: Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Knuckle-Curve

Soler has been sending shockwaves through the Mets fanbase for the ridiculous K numbers he has been putting up in the Dominican Winter League, punching out 23 while walking only 6 in 15 innings of work. The downside to these strikeouts is that it comes coupled with nine earned runs and a 5.28 ERA. The problem with having an honest evaluation of Soler is the fact that he's playing in the Dominican Republic and any and all articles written about him are in Spanish. Translating the articles through Alta-Vista.com I've been able to figure out that Dave Rajsich, a former Yankee farmhand and pitching coach of the Escogido Lions, thinks Soler "has a great one to slider, good fast ball and knucklecurve (knuckle in curve)." I assume that means he has a good slider, fastball and knucklecurve. Jim Duquette also mentioned a changeup when Soler first signed. Also, "some understood consider that To be accustomed to he is ready to send in Great Leagues. Others think that at the most it would be to the distance of months in the Triple baseball To, to adapt." I think that means that some feel he's ready to make an impact at the Major Leagues, while some feel he should start out in AAA. Regardless, Soler has drawn praise from Duquette -- who oversaw his signing -- as well as Jose Contreras for being a power pitcher. Power pitching is something the Mets have really lacked the past, oh, fifteen years. I'll be monitoring Soler's performances the rest of the way to see exactly what the Mets have netted. For more information on Alay, check out OFF's article on Soler over at negativeseconds.


title or descriptionBob Keppel
6'5", 204, Righthander
Throws: Solid low 4-Seam 90's Fastball, high 80's 2-Seam Fastball, Solid Change-up, Decent Curve, Iffy Cut-Slider

Another former first-round pick, Bob Keppel is only two years removed from being a notch below They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Spoken-Of (Scott Kazmir and Matt Peterson) on the organization's pitching depth chart. While he is 6'5" and throws in the low 90's, he's far more of a control pitcher, as his stats indicate. But also, as you can see, his strikeout totals have fallen down the next year. Why? Because Keppel has been battling a strained forearm for over two seasons now, which does not allow him to throw any of his pitches, especially his two-seam fastball, particularly well. While he has pitched well in all of his other stops, Norfolk was a rude awakening for Keppel this year. Posting by far his worst season, Keppel gave up 111 hits in 93.2 innings, with a 4.71 ERA, but turned around his season near the end. If Bob's able to come back from his injury and regain his former form, the Mets would definitely have a middle of the rotation starter on their hands. The Mets obviously feel that he can, as they have given him a spot on the 40-man roster and he is not eligible for the Rule V Draft.

I will be back soon with Part 2 of the group, including our favorite future Met, Philip Humber.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Easy Money

There is absolutely no Mets news today. None. Benson has officially agreed to his deal, but his physical is tomorrow. The Post, which loves to shoot down the Daily News (and vice versa) says Bowden has not talked to Minaya about Nick Johnson, nor has any desire to trade him. And of course, Leiter still has not signed.

And that's it.

But there will be history made in New York today, as Eli Manning takes over at quarterback for the New York Giants. The Giants happen to be my team, so in my house, this is huge news. Of course I have no expectations. I don't expect him to perform miracles and that I would be very surprised if he did well today.

But that's really a lie. I am able to look at baseball rationally and intelligently. I know when something isn't going to happen, how difficult it is to sign a Carlos Beltran, how the Mets will more than likely not be winning more than 80 games next year; things of that nature. I am completely devoid of that characteristic when it comes to football. I am expecting Manning to march onto the field today, take the ball, throw five touchdowns with no interceptions and put the city in a frenzy.

So, to all the Giants/Mets fans out there, go! Enjoy! We haven't enjoyed a homegrown icon for a long, long time.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Leiter's Location

While I usually feel very strongly about players the Mets might acquire, I ususally do not feel so strongly about the ones that might be leaving. Every year, the Mets lose some players to free agency; usually replaceable filler players (Mark Guthrie, Mike Bordick), guys who ended up not doing what they were expected to (John Thomson, Jeff D'Amico) or the old and broken down (Derek Bell, Rickey Henderson).

And then there are those that you care about. The Mike Hamptons and the Edgardo Alfonsos. The guys that you watched, you liked, were successful and made you happy to be watching the ballclub. The Mets history of letting these kinds of guys go however has actually been pretty good. From Daryl Strawberry down to Fonzie himself, the Mets usually know when to call it quits, and it rarely comes back to burn them. That is a special feeling reserved to Mets trades.

I bring this up because Al Leiter is a free agent this season as most of you know, and the team seems to be unsure of where they stand on him. They bought out his contract, allowing him to become a free agent, but are still trying to work out a one-year deal to keep him around. Yesterday afternoon everyone was reporting that Leiter was a done deal. Yesterday night Leiter's agent came out of the woodwork to tell the media that was untrue.

I can only speak for myself, but I do not classify Leiter as one of those free agents that would hurt if he left. I've been over my thoughts on Leiter before. The way the situation looks right now, if Leiter does not sign with the Mets he will not be signing anytime soon, which means the Mets would probably not offer him arbitration and therefore would not be getting the draft picks.

But letting Leiter walk is more important than that. Signing Al Leiter does not make the Mets a contender. He's been with the Mets the past three years, and they've been awful. While resigning him would not be taking a step back, it certainly would not be taking a step forward, and his track record on this team proves that. Can anyone aruge why resigning Leiter would make this team better? Especially if the Mets could replace him with a guy like Carl Pavano?

If the Mets sign Leiter to a one-year deal, it means nothing. It means another year of mediocrity and a fourth place finish. If that's the way it's going to be, you might as well go out and sign somebody worth the money, somebody you can keep around for awhile and build the team around in the next two or three years. Kris Benson will be here awhile. Victor Zambrano, too. Throw some money at Pavano, or Clement, even Odalis Perez. Give the Mets a top three worthy of giving a damn about.

Don't keep around an old pitcher that brings nothing to an already pathetic table. David Wright and Jose Reyes finally take up one side of the infield, the future is now.

Start acting like it.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Getting Guillen

The New York Times has pulled a Mike Piazza deal back to the forefront today, saying that the Mets have spoken to the Angels about a Piazza for Guillen and contracts-to-be-named-later swap.

There are a lot of negatives to go along with Jose Guillen's good numbers. He's played for six teams in eight seasons due to countless feuds with management and accusations of immaturity. Most everyone knows by now about his run-in with one of the more respected and well-liked managers in baseball, Mike Scioscia. This will be leading him to his seventh team before his 30th birthday. Outside of your occasional Bruce Chen, that many teams in a career usually indicates bad things.

One has to applaud Minaya for checking out all the available players out there, and he has definitely looked for talent. But if a guy like Mike Scioscia can't handle Jose Guillen, what makes you think Willie Randolph can? The Mets are a veteran ballclub, yet essentially leaderless. Who is going to stand up to tell Guillen to sit down when he starts acting up? Minaya himself? Doubtful.

But, what if Guillen has learned his lesson? In fact, Guillen has apologized numerous times for the outburst that led to his suspension. It's assumed that its pretty much a given that Guillen will not be an Angel next year, and therefore another ballclub will be taking a chance on the talented left-fielder. Should that team be the Mets?

I hate to say it, but maybe so. As Mike is saying over at his blog, the Mets need to worry less about questionable characterists and more about winning ballgames. Jose Guillen would go a long way towards reaching that goal. The guy can hit, as his numbers dictate, and he stays healthy and on the field. His outburst shows that he at the very least wants to play, and play he would for the Mets. It seems that every year since Cliff Floyd has joined the organization we've gotten our obligatory "I'm Healthy and Ready to Play" article.

Well, for two years now he hasn't been, and I'm putting all my money on it being true three years in a row. Guillen will at least stay on the field, and if acquiring him would mean not having to acquire Sosa then so be it. I'll take a Guillen, Beltran, Cameron outfield any day.

It's time this team took steps towards fielding a healthy and talented ballclub. If it means acquiring a contentious leftfielder and an overpaid former starter, so be it. Rick Peterson's supposed to be working magic anyways, right?

Meanwhile, the Mets have put up Fran Healy's Hot Stove Reports on their website. The reports feature Omar Minaya, Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine and David Wright. I've only watched Minaya's and Piazza's. Minaya's is a real sleeper (why did I remember Minaya being a real charismatic guy when he was in Montreal?) Watch Piazza's, however, for Eric Valent's "Quick Tips": Why You Need to Wear a Batting Helmet. It's unintentional comedy at its finest.

Favorite part of Mike Piazza's interview: "I think the key is health for Jose Reyes. I think, as an organization, we're only going to go as far as he's gonna take us. From the top on down. And that's not putting a lot of pressure on him, I think it's what he can do. David Wright, I think it's important not to give, or put so much, pressure on him."

Basically, Piazza just pinned the hopes and dreams of the New York Mets on a 22-year old shortstop, but doesn't think it's fair to do so to a 22-year old third-basemen.

Granted, if Reyes is healthy, he just might be right to do so.

EDIT: And from the "Where In the Hell Did This Come From" department: Mo Vaughn is thinking about making a grand return to baseball. Read that last sentence again. And again. One more time. "He's interested in what options there are."

I'm not even gonna touch this. I'll let it wash over you and work the magic it has on me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Kris is Close?

For months Kris Benson has been a New York Met. That sentence is strange for me to say, because I've done fantasy baseball for years. Benson was always one of those guys found on the "Sleepers" list in pre-season fantasy baseball magazines along with lifers like Rico Brogna, Alex Ochoa and Todd Hollandsworth. Every year, for as long as I can remember I would draft Kris Benson, around the 17th or 18th round. And around June or July, I would unceremoniously drop him for a Scott Spiezio or a Masato Yoshii.

And now, a season removed from the fantasy baseball magazine Sleepers section, the Mets are apparently close to bringing Kris Benson back for 23 million a year.

If this is true -- and there is a good chance it isn't -- it's pretty disappointing. Omar Minaya should know better then to throw needless amounts of money at Kris Benson of all pitchers. If it was 21 mil, like the Mets had originally offered, that would have been something else. Seven million a year for a pitcher who's had an ERA under 4.07 only once in his career is doable. Eight million is not. Eight million is the money you pay to somebody who has done something in their time in the bigs, not a below-.500 pitcher. In a free agent pool that offers a lot better options for righthanded starters, Benson is not going to be garnering much interest, and will not be getting offered eight million a year anywhere. He more than likely won't be getting seven million either.

The Mets are simply bidding against themselves here. The only thing that might be happening is Benson is considering our old friends, the Atlanta Braves, and would take less money to pitch at home. Even then, is overpaying for Kris Benson the right way to go here? It's a question to wonder, feel free to let me know what you think.

**

Meanwhile, the Washington Fill-in-the-Blanks are slowly building one hell of a defensive team. The former Expos have signed Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman for two and four years, respectively, and now have one of the better fielding infields in baseball. Nick Johnson, former Yankee defensive replacement is over at first, while Vidro remains one of the best fielding second basemen in the game today. It more than likely won't be an offensive force, but at least the pitching staff should improve mightily, while it lacks a pure strikeout pitcher for the time being.

Also, the Phillies resigned Cory Lidle to the tune of a two-year 6.3 million dollar deal, which gives them a guaranteed arm in a rotation that will see some turnover with Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood probably not returning. As long as Philly lets their better pitchers go and their mediocre ones stay it'll bodes well for the Mets. For now.

And last, but not least, the Braves have been scaring me by how quiet they have been. The Braves have burned me too many times in my lifetime to trust them at all, and I've found that when they're quiet is when they're at their best. There's no way their big splash is Kevin Brown this offseason. No way.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Bizarre Barry Bonds

As expected, the Mets declined Leiter's option today. The move isn't much of a shock, and it won't be much of a shock if this is the last time you see the Mets and Al mentioned together until he signs onto the Mets network or becomes a member of their front office in three or four years.

The big news today is that Barry Bonds has broken yet another one of his own records.

But first, a sidestory. I am obsessed with High Heat Major League Baseball 2003. It's the best baseball game I've ever come across, giving you the option to run your own team or autopilot it, trade for guys, create guys, or trade Mike Piazza and Roger Cedeno to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. It's a less than believable game, but it's the most addicting one I've found yet. I've bought many more baseball games trying to find something comparable (it's pretty dated now), and haven't found anything that competes yet.

But I have found new fun in the datedness. The Mets have beaten the Yankees in the World Series on the arms of Shawn Estes and Jeff D'Amico. How? Because in High Heat you are able to edit the stats of all the players, listing the exact numbers you want. Instead of EA Games where a guy gets a power of "85" or "23", you can say that you want the player to hit around 38 homeruns or walk an average of 120 times a season. This helps to create more believable players, instead of having Roger Cedeno hit .315 every year.

Examples: in the game Curt Schilling's numbers are pretty high, especially since he was coming off his 2002 season where he placed second in the Cy Young voting, and tenth in the MVP. Also, Joel Pinero is the second coming of Sandy Koufax, and if you sim far enough into the future, it is possible for him to retire with over 400 wins. Simply edit these guys to normal, and you've updated the game yourself.

The edit function comes with a warning, however.

"NOTE: Changing a player's statistics to highly exaggerated values could cause
the High Heat game to become unstable. Experiment at your own risk."

I've realized today that if I were to edit Bonds' numbers to normal values, it would more than likely cause the game to become unstable. The numbers he puts up are that unbelievable, and today he walked away with his seventh MVP, his fourth in a row. The guy is simply the best player today, and stands a good chance to be the best of our lifetime.

I used to hate Bonds. I don't know why, maybe because everyone says he's rude and arrogant, and that may be true. I see a guy who tells it like it is. He can say he's the best in the game, because he is. He can say what he wants, because he has the track record, an unparalled one, to back it up. He's a veritable superstar, one of the few that exist in the game, a person who can year in and year out put up huge numbers.

And then I realized where my obsession with the Mets landing Carlos Beltran comes from. Beltran's numbers are comparable to a young Bonds, although more comparble to his father's. All three have had superstar potential at one point in their careers.

The Mets have never had a superstar. They've had great pitchers, but the closest they've ever come to a true offensive threat was Daryl Strawberry, and we all know how that turned out. Landing Beltran would give the Mets, and their fans, something to look towards. The Giants are kept in contention by Bonds and Bonds alone. The Mets have more money then the Giants and are beginning to become a lot more intelligent about how to spend it. To slot in Beltran could give the Mets their Bonds.

Not that I'll ever expect 70 homeruns or 200 walks out of Beltran, that would be ridiculous. But we've already seen that Beltran's power numbers and walks can rise drastically from one season to the next. Nobody expected Barry Bonds to become Barry Bonds.

Maybe nobody expects Carlos Beltran to, either.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Message from Minaya

Apologies for not being around much this weekend, I've been entertaining company the past two days. Longer posts soon. For now however, Omar Minaya has sent a message to Mets ticket holders, but I was unsure if anyone else recieved it. If not, here it is:


> Dear Mets Fan,
>
> As I pause briefly to take a breath after making my first major
> decision as General Manager of your favorite team, I want to
> share some thoughts with you while I'm in Florida for the
> annual GM meetings.
>
> To reiterate what I said at my first press conference, I am
> honored to be GM of the Mets. As a Queens kid who grew up next
> door to Shea Stadium in Corona, played Little League baseball
> in Flushing Meadows Park and snuck into more than a couple of
> Mets and Jets games at Shea, this is truly a dream come true.
> I rejoin an organization that, to me, is like an extended family.
>
> The Mets organization is made up of great people who are
> passionate about what we do and determined to be the best at
> what we do. I like to use the word "we" when talking about my
> staff and my team, because this is all a collective effort.
> We are determined to turn things around. We are determined to
> make you proud of your team again. We started to see that last
> year, especially after we swept the Yankees three straight in
> early July. More Mets caps and shirts were being worn proudly.
> We want to see more of that in 2005. I will do everything in my
> power to return this team to its winning ways.
>
> I am excited to have Willie Randolph as our Manager. Willie is
> a class act. He is a champion not only by experience as a
> player and coach, but he has championship character which is
> reflected in all that he does. He is also a leader and a good
> communicator. Equally important for me is that Willie is a New
> Yorker. He was a Mets fan as a kid growing up in Brooklyn.
> He knows our fan base, he knows the expectations of our City,
> he knows the media, and he feels the beat of New York. He has
> that special edge that New Yorkers have. In short, he is the
> best person for this job.
>
> Hiring Willie is only the beginning. He and I are now working
> on assembling our coaching staff, which will be comprised of
> experienced baseball men who bring a passion and energy to work
> every day. But, Willie and his coaches will be successful only
> if we give them championship-caliber players.
>
> That is the challenge for me and my staff. We are already
> assessing our needs and exploring ways to upgrade the team
> through trades and/or free agent signings. We will consider
> every free agent who could possibly fill a need - I am going
> into this process with a blank page and an open mind. Of course,
> we will ultimately be working within a budget, but owners Fred
> and Jeff Wilpon have told me to be creative and expansive in my
> thinking and planning, and then come to them with my
> recommendations. I am excited to have all the resources and
> support of the Mets organization.
>
> As I close, I want you to know that you matter to us. We are
> working hard for you, our fans, to make you feel excited again
> about our team. We know you are ready to cheer, and I will keep
> that in mind as I do my job. I would also like to communicate
> with you on a regular basis. I have already discussed my
> interest in doing some on-line chat sessions to hear from you
> directly. Keep an eye on when those sessions will be scheduled
> on mets.com
>
> Stay positive. We are determined to have better days ahead.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Omar Minaya,
> Executive Vice President & General Manager

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Sexson Info

From ESPN's Rumor Mill:


Nov. 13 - Sexson is still on the desert radar. But he has a problem with the Diamondbacks' deal to woo him back – they want him to meet playing time requirements in order to earn full-value of the contract, the East Valley Tribune reports.

Sexson played only 23 games last season because of a shoulder injury, but he had missed just nine of a possible 486 games in three previous seasons with the Brewers. "I have so much confidence in my shoulder right now, it's hard for me to sign a deal like that," the first baseman told the Tribune." "Say I take a deal of that nature and sprain my ankle . . ."

The newspaper reports that he could reach that threshold by playing at least 120 games either next season or in 2006.

Sexson dismissed reports that the Diamondbacks have offered a three-year, $30 million deal because he says not all of the offer is guaranteed. He also questions a report that an offer from the Mariners is imminent. "Nobody told me," he said.


He gets offered a ten million dollar a year deal, and he's upset with it because of an injury clause. The more and more I hear, the more and more I think this guy doesn't sound like an ideal first basemen for the Mets anymore.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Benson's Bucks and Beltran's Believability

While there is a lot of news going on about who the Mets may trade for, who may be traded, and who may be signed over the winter, there has not been a lot of news on the in-house free agents the Mets currently have. Originally, I gave this little thought, because the Mets really don't have any free agents I'm all that interested in keeping, with the possible exception of DeJean.

But an article yesterday by Peter Abraham perked my interest about the Mets free agent options. In it, we see Kris Benson, who has long been asking for a three-year deal worth anywhere from $24 - $27 million dollars, despite a less than overwhelming past record. Essientially, Benson tips his hand in the article, as he has much of this offseason, noticing how many top free agent pitchers there are in this year's market, and comes across as worried, going so far to say: "I wanted this to be over by now. I don't like being on that list so much."

While Benson has not played his free agency well Omar Minaya has, and thus far, has gotten very little credit for it. While most general managers in his position would be throwing money at Benson to stay after what they gave up for him, Omar is simply playing it cool. Minaya realizes that letting Benson linger out in free agency purgatory for awhile is going to open his eyes to what his true market value is. Benson is not a top-flight starter, nor is he a lefty or a postseason proven pitcher. He is just a decent starter with some promise, something that most organizations in baseball don't label as "Must Haves".

I'm beginning to feel confident with Minaya at the helm. Years and years of bad trades and questionable signings have deteriorated the confidence of even the most diehard of the fan base, and with good reason. But this non-move speaks volumes to the faith Minaya has that they will get a Benson deal done, and it will be for the money the Mets want to spend. It's the mark of a good GM, and that's something the Mets need right now.

**

Meanwhile, Ken Davidoff states the Mets are unlikely to land Beltran. Big surprise. In fact, everywhere I look the Mets are unlikely to land Beltran -- be it ESPN.com, where the Mets weren't even on a poll of his likely destinations (although the Orioles were?!) or WFAN, where Mike and the Mad Dog essientially laughed off any caller who proposed it.

Yet, this almost makes me even more convinced there's a shot. The last bunch of topflight free agents the Mets went after, were practically gift-wrapped and left on the front porch of Shea in the eyes of the media. A-Rod, Juan Gone and Vladimir all were considered New York Mets at one point, virtual locks to be signed.

Maybe this unassuming role works well for the Mets, as there really isn't a better year to sign somebody under the nose of the Yankees. The Yanks need pitching help, and they need it badly. They're going to go out, and they're going to get their big starter and their lefthander and their bullpen arms. And while I'm not silly enough to think that they're going to stop before acquiring Beltran because of financial concerns, there's an outside chance that if the Mets floor Beltran with an overwhelming offer, the Yankees might not try and stop it.

When the fans aren't expecting Beltran to come, it makes it even more important to give it a shot.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Future Isn't Green

If you haven't heard, the Mets are apparently discussing a salary swap of Mike Piazza for Shawn Green. There has been cases made for either side, Matt and Jeremy both have two dueling articles, both great, and both have their pluses.

Personally, I want to keep Piazza on. Not because I want him to go to the Hall of Fame as a Met (although the fact that he would probably go in as a Dodger if this deal went through ticks me off a little bit) or because I think he's all that good of a catcher anymore. It's because I'm selfish, and I think a deal for Green will leave the Mets with an inability to go after the top outfielders that are available this year.

You see, it's not every year that free agency offers up names like Beltran, Ordonez and Drew. This is a group of players that, when healthy, are offensive cornerstones. If Shawn Green were to come to the Mets, it more than likely will be for rightfield. With Cameron in center that would leave someone to be named later in left (I'm betting that in this instance, it won't be Victor Diaz). If the deal goes through, it pretty much comes a certainty that none of these prime players are coming to the Mets.

So what, you ask? Green will be coming off the books, along with Piazza, and Stanton, and even Super Joe, and that will give us a lot of wiggle room to go after next years free agents, you say?

To this I respond, have you seen next year's free agent class? There's not a lot of names that pop out at you if you're looking for outfield help. Possibly Brian Giles, but we now know what to expect from him in a pitcher's park. Possibly Carlos Lee or Jose Guillen? These guys are above-average players, certainly, but with Ordonez gone Lee will probably be resigned by the White Sox. And Guillen's proven to be a major headache this past year, and the Mets passed on Milton Bradley for exactly the same reason.

Quite frankly, this free agent class is a group that needs to be pounced on now. There's a chance there will be some nice pitchers in next year's group (Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner are free agents, Mulder and Schmidt have club options), but that special star outfielder to lead the Mets to their network and fans to the ballpark will not be found in 2006.

Although, apparently Ramon Hernandez will be. And while the Mets have no solid replacement for Piazza if he were to be gone this upcoming season, Hernandez may prove to be a solid replacement when Piazza comes off the books at the end of next year.

For this reason alone, trading Piazza would be a mistake. If the Mets are serious about looking to the future, there's no reason they shouldn't look to the future in this sense as well.

**

We may be so lucky after all. The Yankees apparently have no desire to wait to see how things pan out with Al Leiter and "are planning to make a big free-agent play for Leiter if he's not re-signed with the Mets by tonight at midnight."

Why is this such a big deal? Because if Leiter signs with the Yankees before the Mets can offer arbitration, the Mets get the Yanks first round pick plus a supplemental first rounder. If Leiter does indeed sign with the Yankees, that would give the Mets three firstround picks next draft. And if Hidalgo goes early, which more than likely won't happen, there's a chance for five first round picks overall.

Al, I love you, man, but a mutual breakup is the best for the both of us.

Here's to you replacing Fran Healy on the Mets Network in 2008.

**

One quick note, that I'd like to get your opinion on: my friend and I were discussing the Mets, or more to the point David Wright yesterday, and I declared him an untouchable, saying that I felt the Mets would need to be overwhelmed to trade him. He brought up Ben Sheets. The question is: Would you trade Wright for Sheets? Or Reyes for Zito? Yikes. I don't even want to talk about that one right now.

Farewell to a Favorite

For every fan that cites Mike Piazza or Howard Johnson as their all-time favorite Met, there is a different person that gives the title to somebody less deserving. I went to school with a kid who grew up a Met fan, and his favorite all-time player was Vince Coleman. If you don't know why it's an odd pick, I suggest you check the link and learn about just how bad off the Mets team of today could be. Allen St. John, who has sponsored Daryl Strawberry's page over at Baseball-Reference.com for awhile now sums it up quite nicely: "Choosing a favorite ballplayer is more like falling in love, than, say, picking a mutual fund..."

My all-time favorite Met is Grant Roberts. I still don't know why. He wasn't touted like Scott Kazmir was when drafted, nor did he come to the majors in great acclaim. And he certainly didn't go about his business in a quiet or respectful manner while he was here. He was often injured, and when he wasn't he was usually complaining about not starting, not seeing enough time while relieving, or bringing shame to the organization with a particularly memorable drug scandal. But when he was on, man oh man, was he on.

He put together some good years in the minor leagues, and the New York media jumped all over it (as they tend to do from time to time), citing him a future lock for the rotation. But his immaturity peeved those upstairs, and they put him in the bullpen, and kept him there. He responded with some solid seasons in relief, (yes, I do sponsor his page), but he just kept coming up lame with injuries. I believe he had at least four in his time here, but I may be wrong. Some began to suspect Roberts wasn't even hurt, he was just milking it because he was unhappy with his situation. No matter how much talent one has, the Mets organization is one of the few in baseball that puts good citizenship over ability. Grant's days had been numbered in the organization since Day 1.

So why am I mentioning any of this? Today, the Mets released Grant Roberts along with Jose Parra. It wasn't all that surprising a move. In fact, the Mets attempted to do so earlier this year, but it turned out he actually was hurt this time, and they placed him on the DL. He never came back. And now he more than likely never will.

Is this a good move? I hate to say yes, but it more than likely is for the Mets right now. It frees up space on the 40-man, which will be needed for free agent signings and the Rule V (where the Mets got hurt last year). I actually find myself more upset by the Parra move then Grant's dismissal. Parra was pretty solid in his time here, and it's not like we were breaking the bank by keeping him around. Regardless, Roberts is a free agent now. What'll become of him? He'll more than likely end up in another organization with a minor league contract, and there's a chance he'll go on to be a servicable major league reliever. But regardless of what stats and numbers and past history dictate, there will always be a huge chunk of me that believes this guy is going to come blowing onto the mound, with the Mets luck in a Braves jersey, throwing 96 MPH fastballs and winning 20+ games. As Vance Wilson once said: "You realize, too, that he's something special." I guess he wasn't all that special in the end. Take care, Grant.

**

Meanwhile, the Post is overflowing today with possible future New York Mets. While you have to take everything the Post says with a pound of salt, I do like to see that Omar Minaya and Scott Boras are talking. While nobody likes Boras, nobody can deny that the man does his job well, and for that reason alone he has the best free agents year in and year out. It made no sense for the Mets to be so averse to talking to him in season's past. Hopefully this offseason can go a long way towards changing that stance. For the good of the team, I mean. Not that I care if the Mets sign Beltran or anything. It's all about the team. Ahem.

And finally, the Mets acquired two more members of the front office in Tony Bernazard and Sandy Johnson. Both have well-known ties to the Latin-American ballplaying community, and have much experience in all aspects of the baseball world. Sandy Johnson is the more interesting of the two, because while working as assistant general manager of scouting for the Texas Rangers his pickups included: Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rich Aurilia, Kevin Brown and Robb Nen. If he can do half that while here, I'm all for these guys.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Mapping Out the Mets: Part III

I’ve been putting this part off, because it’s the most difficult part of the plan this season. For the first time in a long time the Mets have some real options to consider at positions that desperately need filling, and there has been debate throughout the blogging community of how to fill these spots. Do you go with proven veterans? Do you go after guys coming off injury-riddled seasons? Do you go for people who turned it on in their walk years, but have never performed consistently before now? How about a rookie? The question marks are plentiful, and there's no real set way of deciding the best course of action. I’ll do my best to try and figure it out today.

INFIELD:

Catcher: Mike Piazza. The guy's not going anywhere. Even if the Mets dealt him, it would be for somebody like Sosa, and that would be a whole new mess. Give Piazza his spot, where he hit well, and leave him be. Pencil him in for 130-135 games, give him his three (or four) spot, and forget about him. He's not the Piazza of old, but he's by no means finished. Meanwhile, that contract comes off the books at the completion of the year, unlike Sosa's deal. He doesn't complain, he works hard, and his name still draws. Let him stay.

First Base: Doug Mientkiewicz. For anybody who has followed the Twins (or if you’re like me and have been following Mientkiewicz) you know this guy has a glove comparable to Wonder Boy. What you might not know is that Doug is as well known in Minnesota for his clutch hitting as his golden glove. I've really given this one some thought, because getting Mientkiewicz would mean trading for him, and there are obviously viable options in Olerud and Tino Martinez. But I really feel that Mientkiewicz could be the first basemen of this ballclub for a long time, which helps the Mets because they have no first base prospects anytime in the near future. Doug is a line-drive hitter and has become a difficult out of late while boasting a high on-base percentage. Also, having Mientkiewicz would complete what should be a real solid infield fielding wise. Who do we trade for him? How about Heilman? He may yet become a useful major league starter, but he's in limbo right now. He's not there yet, and by the time he is we'll probably be giving away spots to Humber and Petit. Maybe we can even throw in Keppinger. The Red Sox have no use for Douggie anyway. I bet it'd get done fairly easily. Of course, Sexson and Delgado remain options at first, but I think the chances of them signing for a reasonable price is very slim. The Mets will need to overpay to bring these guys to the Mets, and there overpaying needs to be done elsewhere.

Second Base and Shortstop: I’m doing these together so I can shoot down all the rumors now. Kaz Matsui is more than likely remaining a Met this off-season, and I guarantee Reyes is not going anywhere. If I was Omar Minaya, I would go out today and let the fans know that he will not be traded, not for Alfonso Soriano, or anyone. On second thought, that might not be such a good idea. But seriously, Reyes is one of the most exciting young players in baseball. He’s cheap, he’s good, and when healthy he is a run scoring machine. That also translates to big money in the souvenirs department, something the Wilpons seem to enjoy. Kaz Matsui will move over to second base, and he’s going to be fine there. I expect a real solid season out of him, and his splits indicate that if the month of June had somehow fallen off the face of the planet he would have had a real good rookie season anyways. Matsui/Reyes will be a good little middle infield, and hopefully the move to second will cut down Kaz’s range issue errors. As long as he doesn’t go all Knoblauchy on me, I’ll be happy.

Third Base: David Wright. 'Nuff said. I look forward to penciling this guy into the starting lineup for the next fifteen years.

C: Piazza
1B: Mientkiewicz
2B: Matsui
SS: Reyes
3B: Wright

Here's where it gets fun.


OUTFIELD:

Leftfield: Victor Diaz. The Mets save money here, and do what everybody is asking them too, promote youth and give them a shot. Diaz's minor league numbers were most impressive, and his cup of coffee in the bigs was nothing to laugh at either. Quite frankly, the kid has potential, and cheap potential is something the Mets desperately need. Of course, there's a chance Diaz falters, but it's a chance I'm willing to take to see what he's got. If it's all that bad, the Mets have Eric Valent waiting in the wings to share the load, and there's always a Richard Hidalgo-type available via trade. But who here really, sincerely feels Diaz will fail? The confidence level Diaz has in his abilities is becoming well-known, and is very infectious. While I don't expect Diaz to put up Manny Ramirez numbers, I could certainly see a .275 batting average with 25 homeruns and 75 RBIs. It's more than likely what Cliff Floyd will put up in an injury-shortened season next year, for six million dollars less. Give the kid a shot.

Centerfield: Carlos Beltran. I've caught it once again. In 2001 it was Alex Rodriguez, in 2002 it was Juan Gonzalez and to a lesser extent Barry Bonds (does anyone remember that?), last year it was Vladdy and now, I've been suckered again. I really believe the Mets have a shot at Beltran. Why? Why do I do this to myself every year? It's a Met fan thing. We need to believe that they can do this, I don't know why. It was probably Piazza that started all this. Up until he became a Met I can never remember thinking that the Mets could go and get the best player in baseball, but when they traded for him it was as if anything were possible. That was a loooonnnng time ago. But the Mets have two things that Beltran wants: money and time. Minaya is an intelligent man, and a New Yorker. He knows what signing Beltran would do for Mets fan, for the New York media, and for his legacy. Being the guy that finally reeled in the big fish would do wonders for this organization, and it's a must. I don't want to do something crazy and give him the ten years, but I'll give him the money. Seven years for 120 million. Go crazy. Go bananas. Don't go Hicks crazy, but show him the money. Make him the new Mets posterboy. Make Met fans happy, and do it right. And if it can't happen, fine. But don't try and overcompensate by making another trade for a Mo Vaughn. Go, find role players and key parts, and plug them into the lineup. Do one or the other. Get him, or use the money another way, but wisely.

Rightfield: Mike Cameron. Cameron opened these floodgates by agreeing to move over. Now he'll go, and he'll become a gold glove rightfielder. Meanwhile, after a year of adjustment to Shea and the National League his batting average might even increase, and we'll have a pretty nice starting outfield. I'm feeling good.

LF: Diaz
CF: Beltran
RF: Cameron


BENCH:

Jason Phillips more than likely stays on until he's traded. Vance Wilson as well stays on as the overrated defensive catcher. If Keppinger goes in the Mientkiewicz deal then Danny Garcia is free from the shackles and is the primary backup middle infielder. I like him there rather then starting in AAA. Joe McEwing will more than likely be back, although I could see bringing up Jeff Duncan instead and giving him the bench spot. Valent will be back as well. I can see offering Hidalgo arbitration, but he won't be getting a starting spot out of it, and I don't see him taking it. More draft picks for the Mets.

That's it. That's my team. I wanted to stress what was supposed to be the intention all along -- building this team around pitching and fielding. I feel good about the starting staff, I have no problem going into a swing season with a five-man staff like that. Obviously it will be better once the Glavine/Trachsel contracts run out, or Trachsel gets traded, whichever comes first. But the lineup is solid top from bottom, and in the process makes the Mets one of the better fielding teams in the National League. There are definitely some arguable moves I've made, but in the end I think is the best team the Mets can have while keeping the payroll in check.

Mapping Out the Mets: Part II

The bullpen is one of the most underrated parts of any ball club. While most reporters and fans look towards the offense or the starting staff, it’s usually the bullpen that needs the most help on any given day. This however, is not the case for the Mets. I have a strange faith in the bullpen of this organization, as I really think the young arms the Mets have at the major and minor league levels have a very good shot at doing something of note.

So, because I like the bullpen possibilities the Mets have I will not do much to tinker with it. Also, this is a place where I think money can be saved, so the Mets can gear themselves towards finding some nice pieces for the lineup.

The first thing I wanted to do for the bullpen has already been taken care of: getting rid of John Franco. This should have happened in 2000 when Franco thought about signing with the Phillies, but it’s better late than never, which for the past couple years seemed to be a distinct possibility. Best of luck to Johnny down the road, wherever his future endeavors take him. Hopefully to a team in the NL East.

Looper stays on at closer for now. While I like Braden a lot, I’m not entirely sold on him as a closer for a team in contention. But because the Mets aren’t there yet he lucks out, and I have no problem keeping him on in that role. If by the grace of God the Mets are looking at a wild card chance, or even somehow leading the division, I could see Looper moving to the setup role for a deadline acquisition in the form of an Ugie Urbina or Octavio Dotel.

I’ll bring back Yates, who really turned it on at the end of the season posting a 4.15 ERA in his final thirteen games, striking out fourteen and walking six in thirteen innings. I could see him setting up for Looper for the time being, as long as he pitches well enough to keep the role. Of course, Scott Strickland should be back, and when healthy he could definitely be considered for the setup role as well.

Orber Moreno should be healthy, and hopefully Randolph will see what Art did not, and get the kid in some games. Granted, so far the bullpen is going to be real young and green, but I like the prospects of the pen being an eventual strong point for the Mets, starting as early as this season.
Next, am I the only guy who wants DeJean back? The guy was lights out once he came to the Mets, you only need check his numbers. I agree with Jay’s sentiments over at Doc Baseball, at least offer the guy arbitration. If he takes it, we have a real nice veteran bullpen arm, if he doesn’t it’s a first round draft pick. It doesn’t get much more win-win than that.

Stanton remains the X-Factor. While I wouldn’t hate it if he stayed on the team, I don’t want him pitching in nearly as many critical situations as he has seen the past two years. One thing that worries me about the Willie Randolph hiring is the fact that Stanton was used a lot by Torre and the Yankees back when Mike and Willie were on the team. Will Randolph continue the trend of Stanton seeing a lot of games? Only time will tell. But I just don’t see the Mets trading Stanton. He’s not exactly finished like Franco, but no organization has anything of value they want to offer up for him. Meanwhile there’s surprisingly been no real fan uprising (i.e.: Roger Cedeno, Armando Benitez) that will make management trade him off for nothing.

So, that leaves the bullpen with Yates, Strickland, Moreno, DeJean, Stanton and Looper. I think that leaves room for one more pitcher, and that spot has me torn between two guys.

1. Billy Koch: Hometown kid, 96 MPH fastball, enjoyed a career year while with the Oakland A’s under the tutelage of Rick Peterson.

2. Scott Williamson: Pitched very well while the Cincinnati Reds, had some success at closer. Put up dominant, albeit season-shortened, number with the Red Sox this past year.

I’m pretty confident in the fact that the Mets could get either one of these guys, and wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they picked up Koch around January or February. Koch was really, really lousy with the Chicago White Sox, but he seemed to straighten himself up once he was traded to the Marlins and placed in a setup role. He could be a nice pickup, and more than likely will ask for less than Williamson. The money comes into play here, though. There’s a good chance Koch’s stuff has simply fallen off the table, and signing him would be pointless because we have more than enough bullpen arms in the minors. If he’ll take something like one million for a year, something in that ballpark, I’d sign him. If not, the Mets have minor league guys like Fortunato, McGinley, Bell and Soler and that could slot in just as nicely.

Final Outcome:

Orber Moreno
Scott Strickland
Mike Stanton
Mike DeJean
Billy Koch -or- Fortunato, Bell, Soler, McGinley, Parra, Ring, etc.
SU: Tyler Yates
C: Braden Looper

Coming Soon: Part III - The Rehauling of the Offense

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mapping out the Mets: Part I

The GM Meetings are coming up, which is my favorite time of the offseason. It's really where you get a handle on what direction your team is going to take, what guys they're looking at, and always leaves me thinking we're going to walk away with the prettiest girl at the dance. Which never happens. Ever. But it's fun to think it might, which is the whole point of the offseason.

So, in honor of these upcoming meetings, I've decided to put forth my plan for the Mets. I'll do it in parts, and I start today with the Mets' rotation. I consider the pitching staff to be the most important part of any team, and with the Mets playing 81 games in a pitcher's park it makes it even more true. So, here you are... my plan for the Mets rotation:

Let Leiter walk.

I’ve let my feelings on Leiter be known already, so I won’t get into all that again. We’ve all heard the arguments about keeping Al here: “Leiter can’t be that bad, or else why would the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox all want to sign him?”

My rebuttal to this is simple: these teams have deep-pockets and are ready to compete for a World Series. While the Mets can conceivably match the prices they throw out Leiter, they will be paying Leiter money in the hopes he’ll be something he isn’t any longer: an ace. The Yankees and Red Sox are looking towards Leiter to be a veteran lefty presence, to go out there, throw 170+ innings and put up solid numbers, which Al can probably continue to do. Right now the Mets simply can’t afford this luxury, they need to take the Leiter money (reportedly four million dollars) and put it towards someone else.

But to whom do we give Uncle Al’s money?

Shawn Estes. Come on, the guy won fifteen games last year in Coors Fie--...

No, not really, I'm just messing with you.

Personally, I want to sign Matt Clement. We already know the Cubs have no intention to resign him because they already have less-expensive options to go with for the starting rotation. Clement has put up some real solid numbers besides pitching in a big offensive division the past three years, and he’s got some great stuff that would translate well to Shea. I like him a lot as a number two or number three (which I believe he would eventually become behind Benson or Zambrano).

The rest of the rotation seems set. I don’t see the Mets getting rid of Glavine’s contract, nor do I really believe they would want to. Glavine seems to have taken Franco’s seat on the “You’re a Met For Life... As Long As You Don’t Mess with the Mafia” bus. I happen to like Glavine, although I also happen to dislike his contract, but we're stuck with that as we've been stuck with most of what Steve Phillips did during his time here.

I also happen to like the rotation that would be set up if the Mets let Leiter go and brought in Clement. It seems pretty much guaranteed that the Mets will re-sign Benson, and if they don’t they’ll more than likely do something foolish like give a Carl Pavano or a Brad Radke some Kevin Appier-type money.

Either way, I have full faith in Rick Peterson’s project Victor Zambrano…

*ducks flying, rotten vegetables*

…and I sincerely feel Victor will put up some great numbers in 2005, as long as he’s healthy, which I also feel he’ll be. I forsee an eventual Russ Ortiz type, with more strikeouts. It could happen. Meanwhile, Glavine, Benson and Trax are all solid major league starters. This is an entirely possible rotation comprised of all solid major league starters, with the possibility of Zambrano, Benson and Clement surprising us by finding their "On" switch and becoming that ace the Mets have so desperately needed for years now. This isn't a win-now pitching staff, but could definitely turn into one once the offensive side of the club is set.

Final Outcome:

Tom Glavine
Kris Benson
Matt Clement
Victor Zambrano
Steve Trachsel

Be back soon with Part II: The Bullpen

Friday, November 05, 2004

Boras Boggles the Brain

Just when you thought Carlos Beltran's free agency couldn't become even more of a big deal, news out of Houston is Beltran wants a ten-year deal. That's right. Wherever Carlos ends up, he wants to be there for a decade, which is pretty much unheard of in baseball these days.

The last two ten-year deals were issued in the Before time, in the Long, Long Ago, to Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod's contract was huge and unwieldy, eventually landing him with the New York Yankees after the Rangers were choked into non-contention by it. Boras wants to bring this fun to another Texas team now.

Quite frankly, I'd be amazed if anyone in baseball gave Beltran ten years. Ten year deals just do not make sense for a ballclub. If Beltran gets what he wants, (I'll assume fifteen million a year for ten years, as Boras has not let out the actual price yet) that would leave whatever ballclub he signs with with an 150 million dollar contract. Conceivably whatever team he wound up with could be paying a thirty-eight year outfielder fifteen million dollars. Even Steinbrenner would be leery of that. ...right?

So what it's going to take to bring Beltran to Shea? Possibly six years, with a team or player option for the final two? Something in the ballpark of fifteen - sixteen million? Is it worth it? That's up to Omar to decide. But think now, of all the big contracts handed out in baseball from those couple of years where ownerships and general managers went a little off the deep-end and paid all that money for A-Rod and Manny and Kevin Brown... for Mike Hampton and Mo Vaughn and Darren Dreifort, think of all those ballclubs. How many remain ecstatic that they got those guys for that money?

Times up.

Derek Jeter the only guy you could come up with?

Same here.

It gives you something to think about.

In other news, the Mets named Willie Randolph their manager today, in a move that was no big surprise. The major complaint I've heard so far is a lack of managerial experience and the fact that he's a Yankee, but both of these things can easily be changed with one season. If Willie wins as a Met he will quickly be accepted as one, there's no doubt in my mind.

An interesting thing to note about the Randolph signing comes courtesy of Mets.com, where they let us know that Willie is going to help Kaz Matsui get adjusted to Randolph's old position. Randolph was never a gold-glover at second, but he was always a decent fielder and has been an infield coach with the Yankees for the past couple seasons, so anything that'll help Matsui adjust better sounds good to me. Just as long as Willie doesn't help Kaz at second like Art helped Piazza at first.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Cameron All About Carlos

I was sitting at my computer, checking election polls and things of that nature, when I decided to pay a visit to the Mets website. There, an interesting article popped up out of nowhere and took me aback.

Mike Cameron, who on June 12 had this to say, ""I knew this would happen," Cameron said, leaning back in his chair, obviously disturbed by the topic of conversation. "If I had to play right, I'd have signed with Atlanta in the off-season. I could have played right anywhere. I play center. For some strange reason, a lot of coaches and managers have agreed." Is apparently ready, willing and able to switch to rightfield to allow the Mets to get in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

"To be able to play center field is my dream and I worked very hard every day at it. But if it helps the New York Mets in 2005 to get Carlos Beltran, there's no question about it, I will move. If it makes the team better, go ahead and try to get Beltran. I'm all for it. I'm all for getting Carlos Beltran here. If he can make things better, we have to find out if he's interested in coming here. They came down for that meeting and I put it all out on the table, laid it out there."

This is huge news for a couple of different reasons.

First off, this goes and proves that Cameron's a team player. This team has been stuck in a rut for awhile now, and it's a lot easier for players to have a 'Me First' mentality when there's no winning in sight. With Cameron, arguably the closest thing the Mets have to a team leader, stating that he is willing to move positions to facilitate Carlos Beltran coming to the Mets, it could possibly motivate the other veterans on the team as well.

The Mets certainly will have the money to sign Carlos Beltran this offseason. With Mo Vaughn coming off the books, and the new cable deal, the Mets have money to burn. This gives them yet another reason not to go after Sammy Sosa. This also works to get Beltran's name out there. Mets fans finally have a player on the Mets putting Beltran out there, telling Mets management to go get the guy. The media will hopefully take this and run with it, and there's no reason not to. The Mets didn't get Vlad Guerrero last year, and this could really make up for it, especially if they took him away from the Yankees.

Now I'm not getting my hopes up, because when you're competing for a player with the Yankees (and possibly the Red Sox, Cubs and Astros), you're already behind before the race even begins. All of those aforementioned teams are winning ballclubs with solid, set futures. The Mets don't have much in the way to offer Beltran that the other clubs can't except for overpayment. Would it be worth it? Absolutley.

Cameron moving to right would also set up Victor Diaz as the starting leftfielder. The Mets would be able to get rid of Cliff Floyd's contract, get some prospects to help build the farm system, and all the while have arguably one of the top three outfields in baseball (as long as Diaz continues to do what he's done in the minor leagues).

How much is Beltran worth? That's hard to gauge, because he's worth more to the Mets then he is to the Yankees. The Yankees can sign Beltran, and have him be just another player, but to the Mets he would be the new face of the franchise. For this reason alone, the Mets should offer more for him then the Yankees should. This is not needlessly throwing money at a guy in order to get the backpages, this is making a wise investment in a young superstar with no real history of injuries, coming off career highs in homeruns, walks and stolen bases.

On top of all of that though, Cameron also wants John Olerud at firstbase.

I love Cameron more and more everyday.