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.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Doing Things the Brave Way

Reading all the things written about Delgado today, here and elsewhere, as well as hearing the people on ESPN Radio — hey, it's the only New York station that streams over the internet — there are, as always in trades, two factions of people: those who dig it and those who don't.

Personally, I dig it. Granted Mike Jacobs had an impressive September, but so did Benny Agbayani, Shane Spencer and who can forget the playoff run magic that was Timo Perez? Truth is, Jacobs was a kid who wasn’t even penciled in as the everyday first basemen for next season, and more than likely only would have got the position and stayed there if he continued to hit over his head. Yusmeiro Petit was twenty-one years old with no spot in the rotation on the horizon — especially once power pitchers Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey are (re)introduced into the system.

But really, the fact of the matter is this: Pedro Martinez isn’t getting any younger. And the Delgado trade can be summed up right there in that one sentence. The Mets did not spend fifty-two million dollars for four years so that Pedro Martinez could teach Yusmeiro Petit and Brian Bannister how to throw a changeup in Spring Training — they got him to deliver the Mets to the playoffs. And with Carlos Delgado at first the chances of that happening are a lot better than with Mike Jacobs there. That’s just a fact.

But here’s the biggest point from the Delgadno group: the ever-popular comparisons with our rivals, those Atlanta Braves. The point has been brought up all day that the Braves continually win because they know when to bring their minor leaguers up, and they don’t go off trading them for the first big name guy that hits the block. Understandably there are Mets fans that are upset with trading our top minor league talent to a division rival, all the while having to worry about the aforementioned Braves and their moves that seemingly never fail. But the thing of it is, what these fans are complaining about is also pretty much what they are asking for: this move is an Atlanta Braves move. The Mets are doing what the Braves would have done, or would have done if the Braves had the financial capabilities that Omar does.

What the Braves seem to do every year is split their minor league system into two groups: guys they’re willing to trade and guys they’re not. The Braves were never willing to deal guys like Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans and Brian McCann. But they were willing to trade Odalis Perez, Dan Meyer, Adam Wainwright and Tim Spooneybarger. All of these guys were considered top Atlanta Braves prospects at one point or another, but it was John Schuerholz who decided which guys he was willing to keep around, and which guys he wasn’t. That doesn’t mean he’s always correct, but he knows who he wants in his system and who he wants eventually donning a Braves uniform.

Yesterday, Omar appeared to have done the same thing. Jose Reyes and David Wright remain on the team. Victor Diaz, Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo as well. And Lastings Milledge gets to move over to a corner spot for the Binghamton Mets next season — a position change most fans never would have believed would happen in a Mets uniform.

The Mets have taken a page out of that highly-touted Braves playbook: trade a guy at the height of his popularity, someone who’s coming off a good year, and get a proven player in return: Gary Sheffield worked out for them. So did JD Drew. And let’s not forget Mike Hampton.

And you know what the common trend is with all those players?

Braves fans were calling for Schuerholz’s head after every one of them.