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.

Monday, January 31, 2005

How About that Future?

With there being next to no Mets news today, I've decided to talk about something very near and dear to my heart: the upcoming 2005 Draft. Personally, I just like drafts, even though MLB's draft takes a backseat to the more high-profile ones belonging to the NFL and NBA. There is more than likely a reason for that, but I've yet to figure it out. If baseball is more popular than the NBA, and the first couple rounds worth of picks are usually relied on to make it to the majors, it would make sense that the draft would be televised. At least put on the first five rounds or so, it'll only take two hours or so.

But regardless of my gripes with the inability to watch Major League Baseball's Draft, it's still one of the highlights of my season. Going into the offseason, it was a big deal to me. Now, it's an even bigger deal, as the Mets have lost their second and third round picks (for Beltran and Pedro, respectively), and also because the Mets minor league offensive cupboard is bare. While there are some interesting options out there to fill it, there is one name that I can't help but drool over, and the Mets have a very good shot at landing him.

You see, the way I reasoned that giving up Ian Bladergroen wasn't that big a deal was because the Mets had the ninth overall pick in the draft next year. Doug Mientkiewicz is a gold-glove talent, and a solid hitter, but he's also a free agent in a year (or two, if the Mets pick up his option). So, where then, does that leave the Mets first-base situation, with nobody on the horizion to man the bag?

Enter John Mayberry, Jr. A second-generation player (and his Pop wasn't too shabby) and already taken once before in the first round (by the Seattle Mariners in 2002), Mayberry is everything the Mets have ever desired from a first basemen.

He's got power (16 HRs in 216 ABs). He's got speed (ranked second on his club in stolen bases with 9). He's got glove (Has a .993 fielding percentage and is Stanford's active career leader in putouts (921), defensive chances (963), double plays (70) and triple plays (2). And he's got patience (.419 OBP last year, .388 overall). As you can tell, I'm a huge fan. Plus, he's already 21, so he could conceivably be ready by the time Mientkiewicz is ready to hit the road. And he's 6'5"! That's a helluva target!

The Mets have never had a consistent power threat at first base for as long as I can remember, if ever. While Keith Hernandez and John Olerud were always solid, and sometimes great, hitters, they never brought power to the table. The only power threats the Mets have had have been has-beens (Eddie Murray, Mo Vaughn) and never-was (Butch Huskey, Rico Brogna). This is the Mets shot for a true, well-rounded first basemen.

Baseball America's Early Draft Preview has come out today, talking up some of the potential top picks of the draft. There's a lot of talent in that draft, for both hitters and pitchers, which means the Mets will more than likely leave the draft with a solid player in their system. But with the pitching depth the Mets alreayd have in the system, it's just not necessary to go after another arm once again. By the time Glavine is ready to go, Humber will be ready, and when Trachsel is starting to wear down the Mets will have a host of arms (Pettit, Bannister, Hernandez) to try out in his spot. The Mets need to go for a hitter, a power threat, in a place of need.
The future of first base is glaring.

Eventually, there's going to be a need for a fourth hitter. A need for some protection for Beltran and Milledge and Wright and Reyes and Diaz.

And I'm getting goosebumps thinking about one heck of a homegrown lineup.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Answers Abound!

Well, whether you wanted him here or not, Sammy Sosa is officially no longer going to be a Met. Waiving his no-trade clause, as expected, the Orioles deal away Jerry Hairston, Jr and two minor leaguers for Sosa. This move instantly makes Sammy a 40+ HR threat because of the gracious dimensions of Camden Yards (337 down the left, 320 down the right, and a 364 left-center!). Personally, I think it's a good move for the O's, and it'll keep their fans from rioting about this offseason they had. And it keeps the Mets fans from rioting as well, as the vast majority of them did not want Sosa here by any means. Of course, this leaves the Mets with no options for a fourth hitter... or does it?

Since Carlos Beltran put pen to paper and became a member of the New York Mets, every fan penciled him into the number three spot. When a guy comes off a season in which he hit 38 HRs and had 108 RBIs and switches to a team where the RBI leader had 76, he's usually going to hit in the three-hole. But who's to say that's where he shoud be or if he's even suited for it? Enter Doug Mientkiewicz, the Mets new "Keith Hernandez Lite".

Hernandez, in an interview with the NY Sports Express states something he has said numerous times in the past, as well as in his book, "If At First": "The third hitter, I feel, is the most important part of the line-up. Your third hitter is always your best hitter. He doesn't necessarily have to be a power hitter but he has to be an RBI hitter and someone who gets on base—like a first or second hitter—to set it up for the power guys to come in at four, five and six. So it's a dual role of the third hitter."

So, what does this have to do with Mientkiewicz? Well, Douggie M was a three-hitter for the greater part of his time in Minnesota, and just so happens to fit the bill Hernandez is speaking of above. He's a good hitter, not a power hitter, but a guy with a history of being clutch and getting on-base. With the exception of last year, and there are numerous reasons/excuses as to the season he had, he owns three solid seasons of hitting well and finding himself on the basepaths. While Mientkiewicz is not your new-age prototypical #3 hitter, a guy who'll hit .300 and hit 30+ HRs without striking out much, he's a three hitter in the old school sense. His low strikeout total means there's less of a chance he'll kill a rally or whiff with runners on, and he gives the Mets another guy on base for Beltran, Wright and Piazza.

Now I'm not going to say pencil him in the third spot right away, especially not after the season he had last year. While it may be an "Out-of-the-Box" move to hit Mientkiewicz third, it's an "Out-of-the-Box" move in the sense that hitting Barry Bonds leadoff is an "Out-of-the-Box" move -- just because it might work doesn't mean you do it. Carlos Beltran, who for the majority of his career was actually a two hitter, also fits the bill that Hernandez is speaking of in the fact that he his, without a doubt, the best hitter the Mets have right now. But if Mienky hits in Spring Training like he's the 2001-2003 Mienky, it's an idea to keep in mind. And if he comes to Shea, and keeps it up, there's no reason to let him waste away in the eighth spot.

As Keith Hernandez himself said, your power guys should be in the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, let one, two and three get on base for them. Mientkiewicz serves no purpose getting on base, something he's built his career on, for the pitcher. Meanwhile, Beltran now fits that vacant four-spot, bumping -- in my opinion -- Wright to fifth and Piazza to sixth. Floyd's hitting seventh and Cameron's hitting eight. Nice lineup all the way through.

Is it an unorthodox lineup? For this era of baseball, yes, but not for the ones in which we've won World Series. All those teams were also fielded at Shea Stadium, and all played to the strengths of the stadium: fielding a good pitching rotation and filling the lineup with gap hitters, doubles guys. This team is built around that theory, and if the Mets are playing 81 games at Shea, it makes sense to work towards that theory. Don't pencil in Beltran in the third spot because he's Carlos Beltran. Does it make sense for him to be there?

More importantly, does it make sense for Mientkiewicz not to be?

*

(Big thanks to NCMetFan over at the NYFS.com boards for letting me know there's more than one guy who felt this way.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Pen Problems

According to Ed Coleman of WFAN, Tyler Yates is apparently out for the season.

For some reason, I am far more upset about this then I thought I would be. Perusing Yates' stats from last season, he wasn't exactly the most reliable arm the Mets had. But if you check out his minor league numbers, they turn out to be pretty solid. And I, as a person who usually feels that AAA minor league numbers will parallel eventually with major league numbers, was pretty upset by this. Not only that, but Yates is the only guy in middle relief that can touch 95 MPH with his fastball (Moreno, who occasionally may reach that, is also expected to be out for much of the season). So, now we have lost our one big power arm in the weakest part of the team.

The problem is now, who fills this spot up? Right now, our bullpen stands at:

Felix Heredia (ugh)
Mike DeJean
Braden Looper

Yikes.

Of course, Omar went out this offseason and signed a plethora of bullpen arms: Roberto Hernandez, Alay Soler, Manny Aybar, Juan Padilla, Joe Nelson, as well as the three guys non-tendered and then re-signed: Scott Strickland, Grant Roberts and Orber Moreno.

Add that to the bullpen guys already employed by the Mets: Dae Koo, Matt Ginter, Heath Bell, Aaron Heilman, Bartolome Fortunato, Jae Seo and the Rule V lefties: Blake McGinley and Royce Ring.

So, the Mets have options. Some are more appetizing than others, but they've all reached a certain level of success throwing a baseball for a living. Which is good, when trying to fill up a successful big-league bullpen. Who do we put in it now? And how many arms should they have? There's some questions.

The two predictable guys, who have the best chance of getting a spot in the ben are Strickland and Koo, and for good reasons. If Strickland is healthy, and he sounds like he is, he has now become a lock for the 'pen. If you missed the story on him in the Daily News today the dude sounds locked and loaded: "But that's my spot. It was my spot and I lost it due to injury. I'll get it back due to health. I'm not here to be in Triple-A or to be on the DL. I'm here to be in that bullpen and get outs." All right, so Strickland's in there. If healthy, we have dueling setup-men with him and DeJean, both two guys who have topped 80 innings in a season in their careers. Strickland is a personal favorite of mine, because the guy absolutely shuts down right-handed hitters, his last full season as a Met holding them a .192 average.

As for Koo,
OFF has already put up far better reasons than I could have about why Koo is a solid addition to our bullpen. But besides all that, the Mets need a Japanese reliever to wash away the memory of our old pal, the "Japanese Greg Maddux", Satoru Komiyama. He can take the John Franco role of coming in and shutting down lefties, and hopefully that'll take even more time away from Heredia. Good stuff.

The rest of the arms are a case of who should be in there and who will be.

As to who should be in there, I would have to go with: Heath Bell and either
Bartolome Fortunato or Jae Seo. There really shouldn't be much discussion about Heath Bell, as he did pretty well in his first try against big league hitting, posting a 3.33 ERA and striking out 27 in 23.3 innings, while only walking six. Also, if you saw him at the Mets Winter Caravan he looks like he's lost a lot some weight and put some muscle on, which can only help his chances.

The last spot is a throw-in, as I don't think anybody who's on the team now is eventually going to be here. This spot is reserved for a Jeff Nelson or a Mike Matthews, somebody with some veteran presence and a history of success. I throw in Fortunato here because I like the numbers he put up last year, or Seo because he could be a longman if he's still with the team.

So, the bullpen, while certainly not glamorous, may get the job done. And if it doesn't, I wouldn't expect Omar to sit around and let it mesh, as he's not that type of guy. The pen may be a worry for the "baseball experts", but it's just not that big of a concern for me. I feel like we have the arms (even with the absence of two of the best young ones) to put up a decent bullpen and have some quality pitches thrown in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

And even if the bullpen isn't that great, Stanton and Franco are gone, and I'm pretty sure that's all you asked for last season anyway.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sit. Stay. Good Omar.

After trading for Doug Mientkiewicz, the Mets are in a position they have not handled well in the past: sitting tight with what they have. From Amos Otis to Lenny Dykstra to Scott Kazmir, the Mets have never been a team to sit tight when they've got a good hand, always searching for something better. And while some would say that Cliff Floyd in left-field and Mike Piazza hitting fourth isn't the best hand, right now, it just may be.

The Mets have a team built around what all their other winning ballclubs were built around: pitching and defense. As I stated yesterday, the Mets have five potential gold-glovers out on the field right now (Mientkiewicz, Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Cameron) and possibly a sixth (Hey, Matsui did win four gold gloves in Japan, he must've been doing something right). While Piazza has never had a cannon for an arm, even he's had a reputation for being a solid defensive catcher and calling a good game. The pitcher's ERA when he's catching is a testament to that. The weakness for the Mets right now defensively is where their one power lefty bat offensively lies, in left field.

The problem with that is there is no upgrade over Cliff Floyd. The two names that have been mentioned the most, Sosa and Ordonez, are both right-fielders, and both would more than likely insist on holding that position if they were to come here. And because Cameron sure as hell isn't moving to left-field, the only option the Mets would have is to deal him away to make room for one of those two. While Ordonez isn't a bad rightfielder, he's also not the more likely option. As we heard from Minaya, he has no problem trading for players if the one available is an injury risk (Mientkiewicz over Lee). Therefore the more likely scenario would be Sosa to the Mets, which would leave a defensive outfield of Sosa in right and Floyd in left. Even Beltran can't cover that much ground.

So, until a better choice stands up and presents itself, the Mets would be right to stand firm and be proud of their Amazin' Offseason. Not that they can't make some minor moves -- one reliable bullpen arm would be nice. But the big moves, the front page news, that can come to an end from here on out. And doing that may be hard, as they may have to wait until July until a fringe team like the Brewers are looking to deal a Carlos Lee or the Reds decide to deal off one of Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn just to pull off their annual upsetting of their fanbase. But it would be the right move to make. Pitching and defense has always been the key to the Mets winning seasons.

Let's not blow that off before it even gets its chance to work.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

My Kingdom for Some Defense

For many Mets fans, today is a sad day. We missed out on Carlos Delgado, to a division rival no less. There is a gaping hole behind Carlos Beltran and in front of Mike Piazza, and the challenge of taking down both the Braves and the Marlins + Delgado is not one that will be easy.

But for me, I am ecstatic, because news across the wire is that Doug Mientkiewicz is mere moments from donning a Mets uniform. Since 1999, when the Mets arguably had one of the best infield defenses in recent history, the Mets have been without a defensively solid infield corp. Now, that all changes. In Mientkiewicz the Mets will have their best defensive first-basemen since John Olerud and Keith Hernandez, and not a moment too soon. The Mets infield is young and wild, with David Wright and Jose Reyes -- both 22 -- manning the leftside of the field for the forseeable future. And with Kaz Matsui transitioning to second this year, the more reliable defense the first basemen can provide, the better.

The thing about the "New" Mets infield defense is this, it's actually pretty good. David Wright has long been considered a future gold glover at third-base because of his above-average range and strong arm. Yet, what may have been forgotten in all this Jose Reyes position-switching and injuries is that he was once considered a future gold glover as well. Reyes has great range at short, not to mention a rifle for an arm. With two possible future gold glovers at third and short, Mientkiewicz adds to the makings of a winning infield defense. Couple that with Beltran and Cameron in center and right, the Mets have the makings of a club built around... will you look at that, pitching and defense!

Of course, I'm upset that the Mets didn't land Carlos Delgado. But as much as I hate to agree with Al Leiter, Delgado as a Met didn't make much sense past his offense. He wasn't going to hurt our defense to the extent a Mo Vaughn or Mike Piazza did, but he was by no means going to make it better. The Mets needed some defense at first, and that's taken care of now. And it's not like Mientkiewicz is Rey Ordonez with the bat. He's had two seasons where he's hit .300+, knows how to get on base, and has a history of being a clutch hitter. Because of those facts, Ron Gardenhire slotted Doug into the three spot in the lineup on quite a consistent basis.

Not that Mientkiewicz will be hitting third in this lineup:

1.) S - Reyes
2.) S - Matsui
3.) S - Beltran
4.) R - Piazza
5.) R - Wright
6.) L - Floyd
7.) R - Cameron
8.) L - Mientkiewicz

That is a wonderful lefty/righty mix, especially if health is a non-issue this season. And quite frankly, that could be the team we enter the season with. Listening to Klapisch on WFAN tonight, it seems that Omar Minaya is going to listen to his Cabinet and not go after Sammy Sosa. While I personally am torn on Sosa, (I really would like to have somebody hit between Beltran and Piazza), this is good news in the sense that the Mets now have a surplus of cash that was going to be spent on Delgado to spend at a later date.

The infamous "minor leaguer" that is being dealt for Mientkiewicz still has not been revealed, although numerous names have been tossed about ranging from Aaron Heilman to Yusmeiro Petit. Personally, if I had to guess, it'll end up being Ian Bladergroen, who had been mentioned in previous trade talks with the Red Sox. He had a phenomenal, albeit injury-shortened, season in A-Ball last year, and remains, at best, two years away from the majors. While it's never fun to give up a guy who hit .342-13-74, I'm not too upset by it. "Blade" is a solid ballplayer, but could be pretty easily replaced with the Mets ninth pick in the upcoming season's draft.

So, what it comes down to is this: the Mets did their best to sign Carlos Delgado, but in the end, it just wasn't meant to be. It's better that he be collecting checks in Florida, then taking money in New York while never wanting to have played here in the first place. Now, the Mets have the ability to do what they wanted to all along, shore up the defense and make the infield sparkle. Doug Mientkiewicz goes a long way towards making that happen.

And, come on, a Mets Mientkiewicz jersey is going to look cool.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Yeah, it's over, folks.

I'll have more about it tonight. Quite frankly, I'm a little stunned, I really thought that in the end the Mets would pull it out. Now, Omar has the ability to solidify the infield defense and get creative with the offense in the process.

And hey, get ready to purchase your Sammy Sosa Mets jersey.

Piazza's Revival

Carlos Delgado has been talked to death. Right now, as long as he doesn't go to the Marlins, I don't care where the hell he goes as long as this madness ends. My wrist has cramped up from the constant pressing of "Reload" on sportspyder.com and the ESPN Newswire. David Sloane has inserted himself firmly on the Second Level of People I Hate along with Roger Clemens and Steve Phillips. And for the first time in a long time the Mets Winter Caravan is coming to town, and I'm on such a Mets overload that I can barely muster the ability to care.

Therefore, I don't want to talk about Carlos Delgado. I want to talk about Mike Piazza.

Although it's probably a cliché pick, Mike Piazza has been a Top 3 favorite Met since he got dealt here. A power hitting catcher, especially one with his credentials, is a rarity in the baseball world and when the Mets traded for him in 1998, but seven days after being traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins, it was one of the happiest days of my life up to that point. I had a perma-smile on my face, even though everyone said he would never re-sign with the Mets because he hated the overexposure and the intensity. Then he hit .348 the rest of the season and the rest is history.

Mike had some very fine seasons, never replicating what he did in a Dodgers uniform (though, honestly, that .362 season was insanity) but was still the face of the Mets franchise for years. He carried the Mets offense for years and took them to the playoffs two years in a row, even getting to a World Series. I'm not going to talk about what happened in that World Series, but we got there, dammit.

Now, there've been some lean years for the team, followed by Piazza's predictable offensive deterioration. A catcher just doesn't stay a great hitter forever, it's happened to the best of them. The Mets tried to stave off Father Time by switching Mikey to first-base, but that resulted in a larger disaster than Mo Vaughn. So now, the Mets have finally reached the end of the line with Mike Piazza, as he enters his possible final year in a Mets uniform.

Piazza has always, always, always been the good soldier for this team. He's never rocked the boat, and never spoke up against management or ownership, even though he's had ample opportunity to do both. Even when Roger Clemens threw a bat on him in front on national television, he didn't go after him because he knew it was more important that he stay in the game then beat Clemens' head in with a piece of lumber.

The question, of course, is what to expect of the Face of the Franchise? While Piazza at first-base was pretty bad, Piazza at catcher was, well, Piazza-esque. In 181 at-bats while catching he hit .331 with 11 homeruns and 24 RBI. If you do the math, that would equal around 30 homeruns if given 480 at-bats, which is what a healthy Piazza could probably reach. Not that one should expect him to hit .331, however. If Piazza's healthy, and that seems to be the big if these days, there's a good chance he has one more 30 HR, 90+ RBI season in him, with an average around .290 or so. Hitting fifth in the lineup, with the "Nature Boy" David Wright behind him, that has the makings of a solid lineup. There isn't a catcher in the league that could put up numbers like that. Hopefully, he's still got it in him.

Quite frankly, it would be nice to win a World Series with Piazza, as ridiculous as that sounds. The Mets won with Seaver, they won with Hernandez/Strawberry, and so, at least to me, it would be upsetting if our generation's Mets icon left the team without ever getting a ring, automatically making him and Don Mattingly synonymous.

Which kinda, sorta means the Mets need to win a World Series sometimes around this October. Sounds... doable?

*

Mike M has returned from his vacation over at East Coast Agony with Omar's list of reasons for Delgado to sign with the Mets, which is simply the funniest thing I've read thus far this year. Quite frankly, Mike consistently puts up the funniest stuff I have ever read online, so go check it out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Hey, Who Wants to Talk Some More About Delgado?!

According to who you're reading, the Mets are either in the Delgado race or they are not, which is really a big help to all Mets fans who are wondering what the hell is going on.

From what I can gather, David Sloane is a dunce and seems to have no idea how one manages a multi-team negotiation. These kind of agent-types seem to pop up every once and awhile, always managing to have somehow roped a pretty good player and then eventually end up causing their client to miss out on the big money or the better team. If you are to believe what the New York Post is saying, and thus far early this morning it seems to be the most logical explanation, the Mets have decided to spend big on Delgado, but asked if it was possible for him to make up his mind by midnight. Sloane took this as an intimidation "take it or leave it offer", and therefore announced the Mets were out of it, much to the surprise of the Mets themselves, as well as their fanbase.

So, where does this leave the Mets now? Who knows? The Post says the Rangers dropped out because the Mets were too rich for their blood, which certainly sounds like the new Mets to me. Hopefully, this is true. At the risk of sounding like George Steinbrenner, throw all the money you want at Delgado because I'm just sick of losing, as is every member of the Mets fanbase. Some Mets fans may disagree with how the Wilpons and Omar Minaya went about fielding the ballclub, but no Met fan can disagree with the winning that will more than likely follow it. So, go ahead, and spend big on Delgado. Piazza's contract will be off the books next season, and Glavine's will be gone the season after that (unless we luck out and he doesn't trigger his 200 innings clause next season) and all this talk of Delgado's monster contract taking up all this room will be nothing.

It keeps coming down to the same thing, over and over again: the Mets don't have a shot at the playoffs without him on the team next year. Speaking to Mike from Los Metropolitans today, he summed it up about as well as anybody I've heard: "Spending all that money on Carlos Beltran, and then having him be protected by Mike Piazza is like buying a brand new Ferrari and parking it under a tree. You need to protect your investment." There just is no reason to not make this deal happen, no matter how dumb an agent Delgado has or how much this situation has taken a turn for the worse. This deal needs to get done, plain and simple.

Protect your investment, Omar.


Edit: Now the New York Times is saying that the Mets set the deadline because of their winter caravan starting tomorrow, and they wanted to have the Delgado situation resolved before the beginning of it. For some reason David Sloane took offense to this, and decided to cut off the negotiations. As previously stated, David Sloane is a dunce.

Edit 2: FULL AUTONOMY, JEFF! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!

He's like a puppy who never got his nose rubbed in his mistakes. In other similar news, I want to hit Jeff Wilpon with a rolled up newspaper.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Dealing with Delgado

According to the Post, the Mets have decided to do their best to land Carlos Delgado by matching the Rangers' offer to him. I now am officially torn on the Carlos Delgado situation.

The upside of Carlos Delgado is apparent: the dude's a hitting machine and he lacks any real offensive weakness. Nobody in their right mind will pitch around Beltran on a consistent basis with Delgado sitting behind him, and that's exactly what this "New" Mets lineup needs -- protection. And while I'd gladly pay him 12 million over the next two years, over the next four is a little risky. For all the ranting and raving I've done about Delgado really not being that bad of a fielder, he by no means is an expert first-basemen. And the aging progression of baseball players doesn't usually make a guy a better fielder in his age 35 and 36 seasons.

So, while the Rangers have the ability to sign him for one big reason (if Delgado can't field the position, he doesn't have to play it), the Mets don't have that safety net to fall back on. Not unless Major League Baseball goes through some drastic changes within the next four seasons.

If the Mets really did decide to match, and the source being the Post there stands a chance they did not, I'm not sure if this isn't the mistake all the cynics have been waiting for. Although, all things considered, it isn't that bad. Delgado would more than likely be a terrific to solid hitter for the duration of his contract, and provide solid protection to whomever bats third, and first base defense isn't critical to a team's success (although it's not something to be breezed over, either).

And, there's always the belief that if the Mets start running on all cylinders, and Delgado is a Met, the next two years should do more than enough to help ourselves ease into the last two years of his contract.

The area of most concern to me however is still the Marlins. If the Marlins land Delgado, you would assume there goes the chance of the Mets making the playoffs this year. I don't see the Mets toppling the Braves and the Marlins + Carlos Delgado. And by the time Delgado is breaking down with the Marlins, there stands a good chance Pedro is breaking down with us and they've cancelled each other out. If Delgado goes to the Rangers, I can live with it.

If he goes to the Marlins, save us all.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I have a very busy day today, but luckily there's nothing in the way of Mets news to talk about. At the very least, we'll know if Carlos Delgado is a Ranger or not by tomorrow. My gut feeling is he's gone, but my gut has been known to be wrong many times before.

Meanwhile, if any of you are in the New York City area, and are looking for something fun to do tonight, my friend's band has a concert at Kenny's Castaways starting at 9:00. Cover is only $5! Good times! If you'd like any info, feel free to e-mail me at andrew.hintz@gmail.com.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Gamble

Omar Minaya has apparently decided to do things the old fashioned way. Instead of overpaying by ten million dollars or putting an excessive amount of years on the table, he's decided to try and sell Carlos Delgado on the Mets, not on their money. It's a gamble, but it's one that just might work.

As Kanehl brought up in the comments yesterday, the Marlins are a team in transition. Not talent-wise, but location-wise. The Marlins are at odds with their homestate of Florida, and have been called "terrorists" and "blackmailers" by Florida Senate President Tom Lee. The Marlins are essientially telling Florida that they need sixty million dollars from the state in order to finance the building of a new ballpark, or they are going to start to consider entertaining an offer to move to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Omar has apparently decided to utilize the Mets' stability as a selling point. Omar has a five year deal, Randolph has a three year deal, and if he likes the Wilpons, they'll be around a lot longer after he'd be gone. The team certainly is not leaving New York, and he will be surrounded by Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran for the duration of his contract. It's a solid proposition.

The fact remains, however, that depending on who you're talking to, the Mets have either offered more than the Marlins, or less.

This will be a true test of Delgado's stated commitment to winning and stability. On one hand, there's the Mets, who are promising a turnaround, and the people they're dedicated to turning it around with will be around for some time. Meanwhile the Marlins are no slouch of a team, either, but there's no promise that they will be in Florida by the time Delgado's contract enters it's final year, let alone in 2006. What the Mets are doing is gambling on the hope that Delgado is serious about what he's said.

Regardless, there is always the chance to just come and blow Delgado out of the water with another offer if he seems to be headed to the Marlins. But that might not be the best way to play it. The Mets have no made no attempt to hide the fact that their superstar signings have left them with limited financial manuverability, and that Delgado would need to agree to a reasonable contract if he wanted to join on with the team. If what they say is true, they may be better suited with a defensive first basemen, although, at this point, nobody really wants to see that.

I love Doug Mientkiewicz, but as Torii Hunter himself said in his interview with Matt Cerrone, if you're looking for homeruns you're not going to find them there. And if we don't find homeruns at first base, where else are we going to turn to?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

All About Ordonez

"And I wanna toilet made out of solid gold but that's not in the cards, now is it?" - Austin Powers

Apparently everybody's favorite free agent first basemen is looking for a five year, eighty million dollar deal. Delightful. Luckily, the Mets have already given their play money to a Hall of Fame arm and a superstar centerfielder, so the one player with the most upside for failure (Delgado) is -- hopefully -- going to miss the boat on the Mets outrageous spending offseason.

The good thing, of course, is that the Mets are competing with two teams that have burned by spending big money on players (Texas and Baltimore) and another team that's never been known to spend big on anybody. Because of this alone, one would have to like the Mets chances. Yet coupled with Carlos Beltran in one ear, and apparently Pedro Martinez in the other, you have to like the Mets chances even more. Quite frankly, with Delgado making his mind up at the end of the week, the Mets need to do whatever is financially possible tomorrow to land him. I'll say it before, and I'll say it again: Pedro Martinez has Win Now written all over him, and this lineup doesn't have the power to back that up. The Marlins have to be a tempting option to Delgado, what with their solid lineup and solid starting rotation, coupled with it's closeness to his home in the Puerto Rico. Carlos Delgado is by no means in the bag.

So, if Delgado does go elsewhere, what do the Mets do?

One word: Magglio.

Courtesy of ESPN's Insider, Magglio Ordones has let us all know why he went to Austria for surgery on his knee instead of staying in the good ol' U S of A: the surgery he used to make himself new isn't approved in the United States. Wolfgang Schaden, an Austrian surgeon, used shock-wave therapy instead of drilling a hole into Ordonez's femur to begin the same type of healing to repair Ordonez's knee. This has seemingly cut Ordonez's rehab time in half. Schaden now believes that Magglio will be more than ready for Spring Training with whatever team he signs for.

I do not believe the Mets should go after Ordonez over Delgado, but if Delgado does end up with the Marlins, there are no longer any lineup protectors of Delgado's status available. Magglio, when healthy, averages thirty homers and has always been a consistent run producer. Placed behind Reyes, Matsui and Beltran, he'd have a better chance of driving in runs then on any other team that is rumored to hold interest -- the Cubs or the Tigers. This could be a tempting proposition, especially if the contract ends up being a one and done deal.

This also gives the Mets a chance to trade off the clearly unhappy Mike Cameron in a deal, and even gives the Mets the chance to make the oft-talked about A's deal. The Mets no longer have to be worried about getting burned, because they already have a more than competent replacement in rightfield in Ordonez. Meanwhile Byrnes could platoon/play left, where he seems more suited, Bradford would add a reliable arm against righties for the bullpen, and the Mets would have far less financial strain to go out and sign one of Travis Lee, John Olerud or trade for Doug Mientkiewicz. This would shore up the infield defensively, without fear of where we would get the offense from.

So, while Carlos Delgado is still the most popular choice, and for good reason, it is not the be-all end-all of the Mets season if they don't land him. There's still offensive options out there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cameron's Concerns

Early yesterday afternoon, Omar Minaya and his coterie of baseball men stopped off in Atlanta to talk to Mike Cameron about his future, which is either rightfield or another organization. Following the meeting Cameron finally talked to the media, and delivered impassioned quotes such as, "Right now, I'll kind of do what I can to help the team" and "It's hard. The one thing that I looked at is that I'm trying to do a whole lot." And lest we not forget the incredibly inspirational "I think I can truly, maybe, excel at this. We'll see what happens."

Look, Mike, we get it. You don't want to play rightfield. You didn't think the Mets would land Carlos Beltran, just like the rest of us. So you went out there, and you said you'd move to right if they could somehow get him. You could have just as easily gone to the press and said you'd switch to catcher if they were able to land Mickey Mantle, and your chances would have been just as good. But because of some twilight zone situations like George Steinbrenner running out of money, you're between a rock and a hard place -- you lied to the media and to the fans, and now your bluff has been called. Now, you're delivering the most blatantly transparent quotes since A-Rod was named captain of the Rangers ("I definitely think I'm going to be here for a long time. I'm probably pretty sure it will work out for the best.") A person like Mike Cameron, who is one of the best centerfielders in baseball in terms of defense, and has never let anyone think otherwise, is not all of a sudden questioning if he has what it takes to cut it as a rightfielder. If you didn't want to be a rightfielder, don't say it in the first place.

Now, according to Bob Klapisch, the man who brought us the Eric Byrnes for Mike Cameron swap in the first place, the deal is dead. Klapisch, on last night's MSG SportsDesk, said that Omar refused to throw an extra two million dollars into the deal, which would have essientially made the trade a straight-up salary swap, and Billy Beane considered that to be a deal breaker. This now leaves the Mets with Mike Cameron in right, and a handful of other destinations for him in case that doesn't work out.

Personally, I didn't feel strongly one way or another about the proposed Cameron trade. As I've said before, if the Mets are adamant on dealing Cameron, I'd like to think they were replacing him with somebody that offers more offense. And while it seems Byrnes could do that, there's a good chance that his horrendous defense makes the offensive upperhand he has over Cameron a wash. If Cameron is truly not happy with his situation and looking to leave, and the Mets don't end up with Delgado, I would have no problem with Omar taking the cash they had stored away for the Delgado chase and throwing it at Magglio Ordonez for a year. Meanwhile the Mets could deal off Cameron for some bullpen help or a first basemen, and the Mets are concievably set for spring training.

That isn't the best way for things to go, of course. I don't think anyone wants to trade off Mike Cameron, as a defensive outfield of Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron makes one salivate. As Jeremy stated in an article over the weekend, our pitching staff needs a solid defense behind it to achieve its best results. No one can deny that Beltran/Cameron cover enough ground that you could throw Todd Hundley or Roger Cedeno into that outfield and it would still be one of the better defensive outfields in the league.

And with a bopper like Delgado at first, one of the better teams in the league.

I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Billy Beane's Trademark

I've got a busy day ahead of me, so quick post:

With the A's and the Diamondbacks in trade talks already, and both of them being interested in Mike Cameron, does anyone else see one of Billy Beane's patented three-way trades going down here?

What I personally would propose:

Mets trade Mike Cameron to D-Backs
A's trade Eric Byrnes/Chad Bradford to Mets
Diamondbacks trade Jose Valverde to A's
One or two million in cash given to Diamondbacks by Mets

And, because Beane has to fleece somebody because he has yet to this offseason, I'll say the DBacks give him Conor Jackson or someone of that ilk.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Difficulty with Delgado

The Mets spent part of the day yesterday with Carlos Delgado, a player that many are mixed on. Some say his defense is atrocious, while others say it's better than advertised. Some say he's anti-American, while others think he's simply a patriot of a different country then ours. Some think he's a perfect fit for the Mets, while others think he won't be two years from now.

I, however, am not torn on Delgado. I'd love it if he signed with the Mets, because I think he makes the Mets lineup far more solid and gives pitchers a reason to pitch to Beltran. While his baseball-reference.com compare him to players like Willie McCovey and Mo Vaughn (otherwise known as guys that dropped off drastically after their age 32 seasons) he's also comparable to Jeff Bagwell and Fred McGriff, guys who have remained productive well past that point, as well as Jim Thome, who more than likely will continue that trend. Delgado has been the most consistent hitter next to Manny Ramirez in the American League for the past couple years, and if the Mets lineup has screamed for anything the past four seasons it has been consistency.

But if the Mets do not land Delgado, I will not be outraged, or even disappointed. What Omar has done this offseason is well beyond what my expectations were going into it (which were renewing Al Leiter's contract and the signing of Magglio Ordonez to a one year deal).

The only problem I would have with the Mets not signing Delgado would be the Marlins signing him instead. If Delgado were to land with the Marlins, and it appears that it might be a possibility, this is how their top five would set up:

Juan Pierre
Luis Castillo
Miguel Cabrera
Carlos Delgado
Mike Lowell

Ugh.

Delgado may really the wildcard in the NL East right now. It's quite possible that his landing with either team -- the Mets or Marlins -- could be the trigger that pushes them to the the top of the division. While the Braves landed Hudson, they haven't done much of anything since, except for the fact that they're close to making their new rightfielder Raul Mondesi. Yes, that Raul Mondesi. And remember, when Smoltz first returned from surgery he came back as a starter, and his numbers were not impressive. I'm not going to be the one to predict Schuerholz's reign of terror will come to an end, I'm just saying there stands a chance. The rotation has a chance to be weaker than usual, and the lineup still has some mighty holes in it.

Meanwhile, the Phillies pitching staff of Wolf, Lieber, Padilla, Lidle and Myers would be pretty average in a normal ballpark, let alone the bandbox known as Citizen's Bank Park. Also, their lineup has been ultimately disappointing, with some key member going down for one reason or another every season. And something tells me that Kenny Lofton isn't going to be the sparkplug that gets this team going next year.

So, Delgado, and his guaranteed 30 homeruns and 100 RBI is more than likely the key piece the Mets and Marlins are missing. The Mets need that bat more than the Marlins, as Lowell can better protect Cabrera than Wright or Piazza can for Beltran. With the signing of Pedro Martinez, Omar Minaya has signaled this season and next as Win Now. If the Mets truly want to win now they need that big bat to make sure pitchers pitch to Beltran instead of passing him up for weaker hitters. While there's always a chance to acquire a big bat midseason, who knows if one will even be available? Or worse yet, what if the Mets are out of it and don't realize it, and we're trading Yusmiero Petit and Lastings Milledge to San Diego for Brian Giles halfway through the year? So, in reality, for the good of the future, we need Delgado now.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Cameron Doesn't Do Corners

Don't let those visions of the Mets' superior outfield defense take too strong a foothold in your mind. According to Newsday, despite Cameron's statement that he would move over only for Beltran, he's decided he would rather be a centerfielder afterall. After giving this much thought, I'm somewhat torn on this.

Plus:
First and foremost, Mike Cameron is a defensive wizard, and with Beltran and Cameron in the outfield, one could slot a defensively-challenged ballplayer (such as, oh, I don't know... Victor Diaz?) into leftfield without worrying about his range issues. Cameron already has some idea of the dimensions of Shea Stadium, and a move over to right shouldn't do anything to hurt his defensive standing.

Minus:
As anyone who watched the Mets last year can attest to, Cameron's arm is nothing to write home about. This fact will become even more noticeable with a switch to rightfield. While Cameron will certainly catch the ball, but his bat and his arm might make him better suited as a centerfielder for another club.

Plus:
With a year under his belt getting accustomed to National League pitching, one might assume his numbers might be slightly better next season.

Minus:
Cameron's numbers last year -- .319 OBP, 30 HRs, 143 strikeouts are not in line with the regular production one would expect out of a corner outfielder. While the thirty homeruns are nice, they're quite possibly a statistical anomaly, as he's never had more than twenty-five in a season. Also, while his defense helps to make those numbers acceptable as a centerfielder, one can't really predict what a switch to rightfield will do. As a player who's best known for his defense, if he fails to live up to expectations while making the switch it may have some effect on an already sorry offensive output. Already the average Mets fan doesn't think Cameron was all that great defensively last year and will be ready and waiting to have a field day on him if he fails to make the switch.

Plus:
Cameron is a great clubhouse guy, and was one of the few players last year who took on a leadership role in the clubhouse. With Vance Wilson and John Franco gone, and Pedro and Beltran not having a history of clubhouse leadership, Cameron remains the only outspoken voice the Mets have.

Minus:
He can't be that much of a leader if he's asking to be traded.

Plus:
The Mets can more than likely get something of value for him. While Cliff Floyd won't bring that much to the table because of the amount he's paid and the amount of time he's actually healthy and on the field, Cameron has actual worth to a ballclub. He's top three defensively in centerfield, and has hit in some of the worst offensive ballparks in baseball, which may have something to do with his low offensive numbers. A couple days ago there were rumblings that the Diamondbacks and A's would be interested, and now the Astros, suddenly without a centerfielder, could be looking to get involved as well. All three are teams with players the Mets could be interested in. The Diamondbacks have Shea Hillendbrand, who is young, cheap, solid and plays firstbase. The A's have Octavio Dotel or Chad Bradford and the Astros have young pitchers with plus upside like Tim Redding or Carlos Hernandez, all of which are guys the Mets could find some use for. Meanwhile, this would give the Mets the chance to free up money and go after an actual rightfielder, such as Magglio Ordonez.

Minus:
This gives the Mets the chance to free up money and go after an actual rightfielder, such as Magglio Ordonez. Magglio, once one of the most consistent hitters in the game, has made some questionable moves this offseason regarding his knee injury. Whether it be September knee surgery in Austria or calling off a much heralded try out at the winter meetings, no one is quite sure what Ordonez is up to, and it would be very much like the Mets to take a Mo Vaughn-type flier to find out. If Ordonez is healthy, it's a coup. If he isn't, the Mets are sunk. Although, hey, there's always Sammy Sosa to fall back on. Yikes.

Conclusion:
More than likely, Mike Cameron makes a smooth transition to rightfield, but his numbers aren't all that different from what he put up last year. More than likely a higher batting average, resulting in a higher on-base percentage, but there'll be a drop in his home run total. I don't doubt that Cameron could eventually win a gold glove in rightfield, but quite frankly, there are more appetizing offensive options out there, namely Ordonez. Maggs isn't a slouch in rightfield himself, and his production would make a solid number four or five hitter in the Mets lineup, as long as he's healthy. If the Mets can guarantee health, I'd have no problem trading off Cameron for some bullpen help or a first basemen and bringing on Ordonez for a year or two. Of course, Carlos Delgado at first and Cameron in right doesn't look so bad either.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Batting Backup

In this time in baseball where Sammy Sosa is humiliated by batting sixth in a lineup, and Marquis Grissom can net 90 RBIs just by hitting behind Barry Bonds, never has where a player is hitting in a lineup been so noticed. And now, with the acquisition of Carlos Beltran, everyone has dreams of what the Mets lineup may look like come Opening Day and beyond.

However, in a column yesterday by Steve Popper, a 'baseball official' touched upon something I found extremely interesting: "If they don't add something like that [a big bat], Beltran will be No. 2 in the league behind Barry Bonds in walks." It's a great point, and one the Mets have had a problem with for some time, and more than likely don't have a solution to right now.

The top three of the lineup should be set: Jose Reyes, Kaz Matsui, Carlos Beltran. That's three switch-hitting, fleet-footed ballplayers, that any ballplayer would do cartwheels to hit behind. Yet, the Mets don't have that ballplayer on their club right now, the prototypical number four hitter who can protect Carlos Beltran and make sure he sees pitches to hit. The Mets have some options, however.

Mike Piazza
Once upon a time, Mike Piazza was an unquestionable number three hitter he could hit, hit homeruns, and get on base. But age and regular catcher wear and tear have taken it's toll on Mike's once mighty bat. While there are still flashes of Piazza's former .300+ AVG, 35+ homerun swing, his numbers indicate that he is a .280 hitter with 25+ homer potential. Not bad for a catcher by any means, but not something that a pitcher will be particularly afraid of when trying to decide whether to pass or pitch to Beltran.

Cliff Floyd
If anything, the Beltran signing is to move Floyd out of the four hole, where he really had no business being in the first place. When Floyd is healthy, he's a fine hitter, but he's not somebody that can carry an offense. Clifford looks good in the fifth spot, and even better in the sixth spot. Beltran gives the team some much-needed reliable offense, and more offense means the inevitable Cliff Floyd breakdown isn't cause for sobbing yourself to sleep.

David Wright
My personal pick for the number four hitter, for a couple of reasons. One, as anyone who watched the Mets last season saw, the kid can hit. As his time in the majors went on, his numbers got better, posting a higher batting average, on base percentage and total bases as the months went on. Number two, David Wright looks much better in front of Piazza then behind him. If Piazza gets a base, he moves to third on a Wright single. If the roles are reversed, the Mets more than likely have just scored a run. Wright doesn't have blazing speed, but he's an intelligent baserunner and if Wright can continue his offensive progression he is the best chance the Mets have in their organization to protect Beltran, meanwhile giving Piazza some more RBI opportunities.

So, if the Mets don't have the hitter they need, who can they go out and get? The obvious answer is Beltran's close personal friend Carlos Delgado, who's 162 game average calls for 38 homers, 120 RBIs and 101 runs, coupled with a .282 batting average and a .392 OBP. Of course, with a Texas Rangers team lacking a DH and a Baltimore Orioles team that keeps forgetting that they need pitching help both willing to throw money at him, the Mets may not have what it takes financially to land one last top ten free agent. Sadly, that's the last shot at a real four hitter the Mets have from the free agent market. Sammy Sosa is always available through a trade, and if the rumors that the Cubs are getting desperate enough to make the salaries a wash is true, the deal is certainly stomachable with our recent acquistion. Manny Ramirez, though infinitely available, is far less likely an option now.

However, it's pretty certain that if the Mets have a shot at competing by the All Star break Omar won't have a problem pulling the trigger on a deal for somebody to have Beltran's back. Strangely, the Mets have one of the top rotations in baseball, and are a piece or two away (and Jose Reyes' health may just be that piece) from having one of the top lineups. And this is all happening in our lifetime.

Meanwhile, it would seem that while Omar was roping in Beltran, Jim Duquette finally got Philip Humber to put pen to paper and sign that freakin' contract already. I wasn't too surprised that after the Mets landed Pedro and Beltran that Humber decided to finally do a deal with the Mets. Thanks for the team first attitude, Phil. Regardless, the Mets now have some pretty nice arms in their minor league system with Humber, Yusi Petit, Gaby Hernandez, Alay Soler, Matt Lindstrom and Brian Bannister, the Mets all of a sudden have reliable minor league pitching again, and eventual cheap replacements for Steve Trachsel and the bullpen.

Wonder of wonders, there's a reason for optimism. Who'd have thunk it?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Willie, Mickey, The Duke... and Carlos.

Two months ago, I mapped out my dream Mets team. Damning believability, I forged ahead and threw Carlos Beltran into centerfield. Such a pipe dream however needed reasons, which I listed: 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.

Today, for a million less than I originally thought it would take to land him, the Mets and Beltran agreed to a contract. Carlos Beltran is the Mets centerfielder for the next seven years.

The chase of Beltran was a wild ride. Orginally, I threw myself into it, thinking it would never, ever happen. After the Guerrero debacle, I assumed Wilpon wouldn't touch Beltran with a ten foot pole. Lowballing, or not even offering contracts, to free agents was more the Mets style, and with Scott Boras at the helm of the Beltran ship, a possible signing was a fantasy.

Then, Omar Minaya came out of nowhere with a Pedro Martinez signing, somebody that wasn't even on the horizon for the Mets, and things took a sudden turn. The Mets had landed a big free agent for the first time in, well, ever (unless you think Bobby Bo was a top guy). The Mets now had some respect, some swagger, and some reason for a free agent to like them. The media and the fans alike loved the Pedro deal, but two days later were asking for more. Pedro can only go every fifth, or possibly sixth or seventh day. Where's our big deal, everyday player?

Enter Beltran. The name was bandied about as a possibility, but never was it taken seriously. While the newspapers called for a Beltran signing, talk radio brought Mets fans back to reality. If Beltran is coming to New York, it's in a Yankee uniform. There is no way he is coming to the Mets. And by all means, he shouldn't have. That Pedro deal may have been un-Met like, but it was supposed to be a rare occurence, not the sign of a full-scale change in organizational direction.

As other competing teams started to drop off, the likelihood of him in blue and orange increased. And as the odds increased, I took a step back. We've been through this before. We've waited with baited breath, been pushed and pulled by the whims of management and top free agents, and never have we ever landed the cornerstone. While the Rangers got A-Rod we got Kevin Appier, while the Angels got Vlad we got Mike Cameron. Serviceable players, certainly, but not guys you build a World Series contender around. So, instead of putting myself through the ringer again, I took a step back and refused to get caught up in it. Especially when the general consensus has you competing dollar-for-dollar against the Yankees. I left for Canada with the belief that when I returned it would be Carlos Beltran following in the switch-hitting centerfielding footsteps of Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams.

Every day, I would pay 2.30 Canadian for a New York Times, to follow what was going on. The Mets news was scarce, all I knew was that the Mets had gone to Puerto Rico to offer an undisclosed sum to Beltran, while the Yankees were trying to figure out if forty cents on every dollar was worth it to them to sign him. I downloaded ESPNews on my cell phone, but even there only the top stories were told, and the opinion of ESPN's Buster Olney was that Beltran was going to the Astros. I was upset, but I had not caught myself up in it, and therefore was able to accept the inevitable.

Until last night, when Beltran let the deadline come and go, and my phone reported the Mets and Beltran were hammering out details. I shouted and whooped and threw my phone in the air. Then it landed on the ground, the battery fell out and I spent ten minutes trying to find it. Carlos Beltran was a Met, and my seemingly unreasonable offseason offensive plan was coming to fruition.

The Mets have lacked a true number three hitter since 2001, Piazza's last true 3-spot year. Carlos Beltran now fits into that slot quite nicely, moving Piazza down to four, and David Wright and Cliff Floyd dueling for the fifth spot. This signing automatically makes them better hitters where they are in the lineup. Floyd was never a three or a four hitter, but a fifth or a sixth hitter he can do, and do well, even if it is for 110 games.

Yet at the risk of sounding like a Yankee fan, I must ask: what's next? Some seem to think that because Beltran is as shy and reserved as he has been made out to be, there needs to be a counter-balance; an offensive player more than willing to take the publicity and the limelight. Sammy Sosa seems to fit that mold, as could Manny Ramirez, but is it worth the cost? Is there even really a need for that type of player? With the offense a Beltran brings to the table, coupled with a healthy Jose Reyes (and indications out of the Dominican are he is) and a Kaz Matsui with a full season under his belt, this offense isn't looking too shabby. If Wright does what he did last year for a full year, and Piazza can get back to even 2002 numbers, the team has an outside shot at the NL Wild Card. The addition of an aforementioned star player to be the yin to Beltran's yang would be a nice touch, but not at the risk of financial flexibility. Carlos Delgado would be a fine addition, but a John Olerud or a Doug Mientkiewicz would make sense for their glove and would provide reasonable offensive output for the eight hole.

Regardless, tonight is the night everyone should hand it to Omar Minaya, he has done something no Mets GM has done before him: set his sights on two of the top five free agents, and land them. Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez are New York Mets.

Amazin'.