You hate to start drawing comparisons between established stars and unproven prospects, but it happens. It happened with David Wright and Scott Rolen and it happened to a lesser extent with Victor Diaz and Manny Ramirez. Both are sub par defenders (though Manny has gotten better throughout the years and is decent now and I think Diaz will be more than adequate) who both carry a mighty stick, both are 6 feet tall and around 200 pounds, and both were born in Santo Domingo, DR.
They both started off at the Rookie level at the age of 19. Victor put up a .354 batting average with three home runs and 31 RBIs in 53 games and Manny put up a .326 average with 19 homeruns and 63 RBIs in 59 games.
In Victor's 2nd professional year, he split time between A ball and AA ball at the age of 20. Victor hit .350 for South Georgia (A) with 10 homers and 58 RBIs and hit .211 for Jacksonville with four homeruns and 24 RBIs for a total of a .307 average with 14 homeruns and 82 RBIs between the two levels in 133 games. When Manny was 20, he played exclusively for the Kinston A ball team for the Indians. During that campaign, Manny hit .278 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs.
In Diaz's third year of pro ball, he played exclusively at the AA level for both the Dodgers AA team and Binghamton. During that year he tore up Eastern League by hitting .354 with 6 homers and 23 RBIs. Before coming over to the Mets, he hit .291 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs with Jacksonville. In Manny's third year he managed to skip ahead of Victor's pace. He played both AA and AAA that year in the Indians farm system and make a major league appearance. That is the year he won BA's Minor League Player of the year award by batting .340 with 17 homers and 79 RBIs at AA and .317 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs in AAA.
When Manny was 22 years old, he was playing in the majors at that point. He hit .269 with 17 homeruns and 60 RBIs. For Victors fourth year in pro ball he was 22 years old and just starting AAA. This year, Victor hit an impressive .292 with 24 homers and 94 RBIs.
Now, the thing that separates Victor from Manny is the fact that Manny always had a decent number of walks and has 167 minor league walks in 286 minor league games. Victor only has 116 walks in 457 games. Manny also developed a lot more power a lot quicker than Victor. Although Victor has always shown decent power, he never really broke out until this year with the long ball. The one thing I found interesting was that Victor K'd in 20% of his at-bats compared to Manny's 22% during his minor league career, which is definitely notable since that is one of his bigger knocks. He will imrove in that area and if he is under Manny's K %, that is a good sign to me.
In my opinion, Victor has nothing left to prove at the minor league level. Everyone would like for him to develop some more plate discipline, but the fact remains that his minor league career shows that he can hit. He won two batting titles in his first two pro seasons and has the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field which is always a good indicator of an accomplished hitter. At the end of Manny's first three pro seasons he had a .316 batting average and Victor had a .318 batting average. After this year Victor's career batting average is .310 and he has really been young for each league he has played. Throughout their minor league careers they have really put up somewhat similar numbers. If you went back and compared the two, Manny has better all around future indicators (SLG%, OBP%, etc.) but Victor is close behind him in many categories and getting better. I am by no means suggesting that Victor Diaz will be as good as one of the best right handed batters in today's game, but I think he will be pretty damn good. After all, he is batting .400/.600/1.100 so far in the majors (I don't really care if it is only in five at-bats). The Mets need to clean house of some older and less motivate players and Victor should be considered in their near future plans.
"My preference would have been to wait until the end of the season (to announce a change) but an unfortunate set of circumstances led up to it," Duquette said. "I know how he felt after that article. You can't have anything but empathy for him. But I didn't make any final decisions until I heard from him. The article expedited my decision.
"I asked him to stay because it was best for the continuity and consistency of the organization. I didn't think naming an interim manager would make sense."
Maybe I'm overreacting here, but what the hell? An article expedited your decision? Shouldn't you run the team and not the NY Media. I have a real problem with the "leaks" that have been going on. I guess the term loose lips sink ships does not apply here. You cannot sink what is already sunk, right?
I also found this song that Piazza wrote for Artie.
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game
Laughing and a runnin', hey hey
Skipping and a jumpin'
In the misty morning fog with
Are hearts a thumpin' and you
My battlin' manager
And you, my battlin' manager
Oh what ever happened
The Tuesday went so slow
Going down to the old mine
With a transistor radio
Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hiding behind the rainbows wall
Slipping and a sliding
All along the waterfall with you
My battlin' manager
You, my battlin' manager
*Do you remember when
We used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la la la de da
Just like that
So hard to find my way
Now that I'm all on my own
I saw you just the other day
My you have grown
Cast my memory back there lord
Sometimes I'm overcome thinkin' about it
Makin' love in the green grass
Behind Shea Stadium with you
My battlin' manager
And you, battlin' manager
Oh the memories, there were so many of them.
In all seriousness, I wish Art the best of luck and I hope he spends his $4.7 million retirement package wisely. He was just not the right fit for this team and not what they needed. What do the Mets need? I'm not sure, but it was not Art Howe. Some people don't even feel bad for Art. In fact some people think this is the best thing that could have happened to him. One thing is really clear, the Mets are bumbling idiots in the way they handled it.
While the Mets talked to Matsui last month about taking grounders at second, Matsui said yesterday he did not know a final decision on his 2005 position had been made. He said he was not surprised about the fact that he found out through the media as opposed to the front office.
"My intentions were going to be to prepare at second base," he said. "Now it's just concentrating on second base, doing what I can and becoming a great second baseman."
Why should he be surprised that he found out through the media instead of the front office. I mean the media learned of Piazza's move to first and Howe's firing first. This team is so unprofessional it will be wonder if they get anyone to sign as a free agent here. The Mets have to build within because no one will be dumb enough to actually sign with this real life Soap Opera As the Mets Burn.
"We will look for a manager who has experience, a manager who we feel can manage in New York — and by that, deal with the media because it is a very important part of a manager's job — and who can deal with a team who has veterans and young players. And we think that there are managers like that out there."
On top of that, he said money will not be an issue.
"We're in New York, and we are a big-market club and we have resources."
Oh yeah? Could have fooled us with you small-market offers to top tier talent. Unreal, how many times can Wilpon look like an idiot?
Mike Piazza, who has one year left on his contract, on his future this off season: "I've always looked at signing a contract like a marriage, for better or worse. When I sign a deal, I expect to be there for the duration. But again, it's a two-way street. If they don't think I fit into their plans, we'll see."
RESTRAINT OF TRADE: In his first comments on the subject, Wilpon defended the Scott Kazmir-Victor Zambrano deadline deal: "I understand (the outrage), but you have to understand when you have a baseball department ... and unanimously they want to make a trade like this, including a guy who knows a lot about pitching (Rick Peterson) ...you do it."
One thing I will say is that if you have a baseball department that UNANIMOUSLY decided to pull this trigger, you need another baseball department.