Over at Jeremy Heit's Blog he brought up some topics in his last post that are interesting. I was going to post in the comments, but then shit happened. I typed this big long comment and then it somehow did not post and I got some strange error message from Halo Scan that basically said screw you. So instead of doing it again, I just decided to expound on it here. Since it is Saturday and I have none of my own insights today it works out really well.
Topic #1 Jason Varitek:
If Varitek does become available by the Red Sox not choosing to re-sign him, should the Mets pursue him and shift Mike Piazza to first for good or try and trade him to an AL team?
I do not want to steal Jeremy's thunder in case he wanted to post in length about how this idea is bad, but the basic idea is not to sign any catcher when they are going to turn 33 in April of 2005 to a long term contract. Varitek would certainly buck all trends for catchers if he stays the same or plays slightly better over the next three or four seasons. So far, only Pudge is defying logic and for the price and length of contract that Boras and Varitek may be looking for, it does not make sense. A two year contract for 7 million a year? Maybe I'm listening. But the thing that also has to be taken into consideration is that he hits worlds better at home in comfy Fenway Park. There is a large disparity in terms of average, but his power numbers are the same on the road or home. If he was in Shea, I'd expect about .265/.330/.450 with 15-20 homeruns. Guess what? We already have a guy like that. He is basically going to be a switch hitting Mike Piazza that throws out 10% more of would be base stealers. Varitek would not be worth it and he really does not fit so great into any of the Mets plans.
Topic #2 Manny Ramirez:
Jeremy speculates that the Boston Red Sox are set to put Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers again this year. If the Manny is available and he costs nothing to get him, should his $20 million contract per year for the next four years be something that the Mets go after?
Now this one is certainly in intriguing. Manny has been one of the best right handed batters in the entire game over the last decade. He is still going to be very, very good for the next four years of his contract, but is he worth $20 million in 2005, $19 million in 2006, $ 18 million in 2007, and $20 million in 2008? He does not pose much of an injury risk and he will not be a defensive downgrade from Cliff Floyd, so the Mets will not take a step back in terms of fielding. The only big issue is that if Victor Diaz ends up in right field in 2005, Mike Cameron will have his work cut out for him with both guys at the corners having limited range. If I'm Duquette and he becomes available via waivers, it is going to be a tough decision. With Piazza's $15 million coming off the books in 2006, his contract would certainly be manageable. For me, if Magglio was healthy, I would pass on this but Magglio is not healthy. Also, if Manny does become available, that would make him the best available hitter this off season. The bottom line is that this guy has hit over .300, smashed 30 homeruns, and knocked in 100 plus runs in nine of the last ten years. If you can make it fit financially with your other needs (which the Mets can), I think you pull the trigger. He puts some serious hurtin' in the middle of the lineup.
Now, in Jeremy's comments section, someone had brought up the issue that if you willing to take Manny's contract, why not just trade for a guy who can hit just as well and field even his position with the best of them. He was speculating about Todd Helton. Now Todd's mega contract pays him $12.6 million dollars in 2005, $16.6 million dollars from 2006-2010, and 19.1 million in 2011. When the contract runs out in 2011, provided his option is not picked up, Helton will be 39 years old as opposed to 36 years old when Manny's contract runs into it's option years, which will most certainly not be picked up either. If you take Helton away from Coors Field, he is still a premier hitter, but does not put up better numbers than Manny. Manny does play in a hitter’s park as well, but actually hits a bit better away. His power numbers are about that same and his average is .012 points higher on the road over the past three years. In addition to Manny being the better hitter, the Mets would most likely have to give up some pretty good talent to get Helton. Combine all that with the fact that Manny's contract is way shorter and therefore much less of risk, there is no way the Mets should entertain taking on Helton's albatross of a contract instead of Manny's albatross contract.
If the Mets decide they are not going to take a risk with Magglio or Drew and not make a run at Beltran while Manny is hanging out there, you take him. Four years and less than $80 million left for .300/35/110 year in and year out is too much to pass up for the offensively challenged Mets.
In the second inning, Victor Diaz ripped a liner to right that he legged into a double which Phillips followed up with his own double that scored Diaz for the Mets first and only run. Diaz ended up having a tough nite as he K'd in his other three at-bats of the game. As Keith pointed out, Diaz has a nice level swing and you have to like the fact that he is not afraid to go the other way. My only complaint about him so far is that when he is batting, his face looks like Roger Cedeno with the way he holds his head. It rehashes some bad memories for me.
Benson pitched a great game for the Mets and only had one bad inning in the seventh inning. He gave up a homerun to Aramis Ramirez to tie the game and allowed a Moises Alou double right after that. With no outs he was able to work his way out of jam no thanks to a fielding blunder by Victor Diaz. But like good pitchers do, they pick up their fielders when they make an error by striking out Michael Barrett and Ben Grieve to end the inning. For Victor, no harm done but hopefully a lesson learned. The Mets eventually fell in the 10th inning to end their winning streak at two games.
Mike Piazza actually looked like a first baseman on Friday as well. In the second inning with Todd Walker at bat, he made a nice play to his right and followed it up with a nice toss to Benson. Then in the third he made a great play on Glendon Rusch by making a diving stab at a ball down the line that I thought was a sure hit. After laying out, he got up and made a nice throw to Benson for the out. As if that all were not enough, in the fifth inning Piazza made an almost identical play to his left as he did in the third to put down Walker yet again. All this does not change my position on the fact that he should be behind the plate in 2005, but it does start to provide some flexibility for contingency plans for Mr. Duquette if Piazza can prove to be adequate.
I still think he should have shut it down for the rest of the season, but since he's back, I'll marvel at that cannon of a throwing arm. Reyes and his freakishly strong throwing arm made plays that Kaz could never make from the hole with Jason Phillips running down the line. A refreshing site to see every thing hit at Reyes turned into an out.
Reyes, who plans to visit a hamstring specialist in New Orleans over the winter, also said he plans to "run the way I ran before." Earlier this season, the Mets had attempted to change his running style to prevent further leg injuries.
MRI and X-ray exams taken Monday by reliever Mike DeJean (on the DL since Aug. 30 with leg contusion), revealed a fractured tibia. "Obviously he's out, but we expect a full recovery in about four weeks and it should not be any issue for next year," Duquette said
Are you trying to tell that Mike DeJean just got x-rayed on Monday? Someone please help my understand this.