Last night's must win game was another barn burner. The Mets are seriously taking years off my life. Traschel came up big with a great game including an RBI single of his own and the bullpen came through big time. Moreno came in the 6th and made a tremendous play on a ball hit weakly to the left side of the infield to bail out Traschel. Stanton came in and actually did his job and he was followed up by Looper for two innings and finally by Jose Parra who recorded the victory in the 11th inning. Roberto Hernandez loaded the bases for Ty Wigginton's eventual game winning infield hit. The Mets are one game out of first as are the Marlins and they are both behind the Phillies and the Braves who are tied for first. Yes! The goddamn Braves are in first place. Now there are four teams within a game of each other and today Scott Erickson will take the mound. Things should be interesting, but a Met win and a Brave loss could trigger a three way tie for first. Shit, a Marlin win, Met win, and Brave loss could make a four way tie for first place. I'm going to venture a guess and say that a four way tie of first place has does not happen too often this late in a season. I could be way off, but for some reason I do not think so. It would definitely be a rare happening.
There are 18 games in 18 days all of which are divisional games. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Let's go Mets, win one for the good guys!
Just a side note, I think it was a mistake to bring up Erickson so soon. If we had given Ginter two or three more starts it would have taken us to the trade deadline. I don’t know if we could have hung onto Erickson longer or if they had to bring him up or let him go, but if he falters, Littlefield knows he has the Mets by the nuts. We always could have said, we want Benson, but do not need him, we have other options. That goes out the window if Erickson gets shelled.
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In an attempt be wrong about a lot more things than I already have been, I am going to try and predict where the big names will end up that have been circulating in trade rumors.
*I wrote this yesterday morning when I got into work. Then I see that Tim Kurkjian did it here
for some of the same guys. I say screw Tim, mine is better.
Randy Johnson: I do not think he will be going anywhere. Right now, there just is not enough strong prospects being offered to get the job done. The Diamondbacks do not have a need to trade him, it just makes sense too if they cannot get anything spectacular in return. It does not make sense if they get Dioneer Navarro or Kelly Shoppach as the top prospect back. With the focus developing your own talent in every organization not named the Yankees or Red Sox, teams are unwilling to let go of their top prospects for a 40 year old that is going to cost $24,000,000 over the remainder of the 2004 and 2005 season. On top of that, it does not make any team that gets him a sure thing. He has had knee problems over the years and could potentially be a horrible move if he is unable to stay healthy. The Angels top chips are Jeff Mathis, Dallas McPherson, and Casey Kotchman and they happen to be positions that they need either next year of shortly thereafter. Also, with Moreno's recent spending spree, he is looking forward to some cheap homegrown talent. The only deal that has been rumored that has the juice to get done is the three way trade with Chicago, Boston, and Arizona. The Cubs would receive Garciaparra, Johnson would go the Red Sox (if he waives the no-trade clause for Boston which is sketchy if he would even consider that) and the Cubs would send prospects to Arizona. With Wood, Zambrano, Maddux, Prior, and Angel Guzman on the team in 2005 and beyond, they have plenty of arms that are expendable. They have Andy Cisco, Francisco Beltran, or Bobby Brownalie who are most noteworthy which would be welcome additions to the Arizona system. You would have to figure two of them plus another prospect would be dealt, but the deal is losing steam quickly. The Cubs would most likely not be able to retain Nomar and with the availability of Cabrera, who will come at cheaper price tag and may actually re-sign, it does not make a whole lot of sense for them to pull the trigger on that one. In the end, the D-Backs still own Johnson in 2005 and can go through this again next trading deadline if they really do not like they have got offered so far. There will be less risk and less money for teams to take on so you may see some better deals come about.
Orlando Cabrera: I think he will end up with the Cubs. They had shown the most interest and certainly have what Montreal needs. An arm, any arm. He may be struggling this season, but he is quality major league shortstop that would certainly fit nicely on their roster.
Derek Lowe: Thankfully the Mets cooled off on this one and the Phillies are the only real interested party at this point. I just do not see him moving. He is only due another 2 to 2.5 million for this year and if the Red Sox get Johnson, they still should keep him for the back-end of the rotation, but would most likely look to move him. But since Johnson is staying put, so is Lowe.
Roger Clemens: His fat ass is staying put in Houston.
Jason Kendall: He will be keeping his huge contract in Pittsburgh unless the Pirates pay the majority of his salary. No one is keen on taking that on just yet. Maybe in 2005 or 2006 someone will take a chance on him.
Kris Benson: I believe Kris Benson will be a Metropolitan. The Mets are the frontrunner in this and I do not think they will end up giving any major cogs of the future in the end. When the dust clears, the Pirates won't have any substantial offers and Matt Peterson will not be going anywhere. The Mets can give the Pirates two or three decent players they can stick in their opening day roster in 2005 and that will ultimately prove to the best all around deal. Some teams may step up with a promising prospect with a higher ceiling, but the Mets can offer a known quantity. The other teams interested, which are rumored to be the Dodgers, Twins, and Phillies, all have better systems (well, not the Phillies, theirs is worse), but who will they part with? Minnesota's small market stature makes it tough for them to give up serious talent. They need young and cheap talent to survive and it may be too big a gamble for a 1/2 season rental. The Phillies best chip is Ryan Howard who blasts homeruns, but also strikes out 1 in 3 times per at bat and is actually going to be 25 this year. He has been old for his league every step of his career and his numbers are deceptive because of that. He'll be 25 and just starting to play in AAA with a lot to work on. For me, He is not that much different than Craig Brazell. Brazell is younger by a few months and is at AAA already and has much better luck at making contact more often. If Craig was at AA, I'd guess you would see about 30 homeruns from him as well. The Dodgers scare me, it is unclear whether they would give up James Loney or Greg Miller for a player of Benson’s level, so they do not scare me that much. The bottom line is with last year's bad deals (aside from the Giles trade) Littlefield should approach this one with more caution.
Steve Finley: San Diego or bust. They are the only team that could get him. A Xavier Nady for Finley deal straight up may work, but Towers has been reluctant to make any rash moves. The other interested parties are the Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. The Yankees really do not need him, nor the Red Sox. The Rangers are not really interested in making any moves, and the Cubs may look to bolster their offense if they do not get a SS, but they ultimately should look to their bullpen to upgrade. Finley will be a D-Back with Randy on August 1st.
Carlos Beltran: Will he be traded twice in on year a-la Cliff Floyd in 2002? They will not get anything substantial back and nothing to the level that John Buck was. The best return may be a compensation pick and a sandwich pick in 2005 after they offer him arbitration. Although the Dodgers are warming up to the idea of pursuing Beltran and could actually throw down a trump card with a top prospect like James Loney or Greg Miller. Whether they would actually move on that, is another question, but they can certainly change the Astros mind in a hurry. I do not think they would move top prospects for Benson, but I think they would at least consider it for Beltran.
Nomar Garciaparra: He will be a Bean Towner for the remainder of the season for sure. The Red Sox need him. Also, outside of Randy Johnson, there is no one worth Nomar on the market in terms of pitching. Next year they should let him walk, move pokey to SS, sign Troy Glaus, and move Mueller to second base. But I’ll leave the Red Sox suggestions to the Red Sox bloggers if they can walk themselves down from the ledge.
Carlos Delgado: He is new name to the rumor mill, but it was widely expected he'd be traded, he just needed to get healthy. The Red Sox and the Dodgers are the preliminary front runners at this point, but it is early. My guess is that he ends up being a Dodger as they have the most to offer. They have more chips to get the deal done and would have no problem sitting Roberts or platooning Roberts and Encarnacion due to their relative lack of production.
That takes care of all the major names surfacing on the trade market. If some of my predictions shake out, it looks to be one of the deader deadline trade markets of recent years.
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Scott Kazmir won his first game at AA. He faced New Britain and went five innings, surrendered three hits, one run, one walk, and he K'd five. I'd have to say that was rather impressive and his ERA in eleven innings is 2.45.
Since when did Royce Ring and PJ Bevis get demoted to AA?
David Wright went deep not once, but twice in the game against Ottawa. He was 2 for 5 overall with two homeruns and three RBIs. He did K twice, but is now batting .326. He now has 18 homeruns between AA and AAA in a little over 300 at-bats. He is impressing everyone with his development of power at the ripe age of 21. Umm...Wiggie, this site may be helpful to you in the near future.
The Mets 10th round pick Brahiam Maldonado had a great game for the GCL Mets against the Marlins. He went 3 for 4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. He is now batting .281.
From Baseball America's dish pieces:
Another name turning heads Sunday was Braves righthander Jose Capellan, who gave up one hit and struck out two in an inning of work. He also was the hardest thrower on a day dominated by power arms. Mets third baseman David Wright got his only hit in three trips off a 99 mph Capellan fastball, who threw 15 pitches, with only one of his 12 fastballs registering under 96
I think it is safe to say David can handle a major league fastball.
Mark Prior was injured in his start last night. That sucks, Prior is great for the game could be the best pitcher in the league at 23 years old. When people like Reyes and Prior go down for extended periods it detracts from the game because they are so exciting and provide a shot in the arm for the fans and the league.
Here is excerpt from a piece by John Sickels on Joe Blanton.
Many teams have asked about Blanton in trade talks, but so far Oakland has refused to budge. If that remains true, Blanton should get a full shot at the Athletics rotation next spring. He is very close to being ready for Major League action, basically just needing some additional experience and refinement to his pitch sequences. He gets into a rut occasionally, over-using one or two pitches. When he uses his entire arsenal, he can dominate a game.
If you read my site on a consistent basis, I do not need to tell you how important it is that he IS ready for the A's rotation by next spring. He can single handedly be responsible for Barry Zito being available.
Delgado will be on the block soon. Likely destinations would be LA and Boston according to this article.