A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Organizational Flux (aka We Battled)

Now that the Mets have started to form a direction in which they want to start taking the organization they have a lot ahead of them. Anytime players have seemingly given up on the manager, it is not good. Art Howe was by no means THE problem, but he was part of it. The players did not seemingly have much respect for him and the crusty veterans were not really on his side. You would think that a team of veterans would be good with a laissez faire manager, but that was not the case. Some players obviously need some help motivating themselves because they cannot find it within.

The Mets are at a crossroads of sorts. The need to do some house cleaning and that comes with some big decisions. In 2005, they have Glavine and Trachsel on contract. Glavine will be 39 next season and Trachsel will be 34 years old. Can the Mets really afford to even entertain the idea of bringing Leiter back in 2005? Absolutely not. It is tough when a player feels that an organization owes them an opportunity to keep returning, but at a certain point, changes have to be made. To go back into 2005 with two 39 year old pitchers, one of whom is a five inning pitcher, and a 34 year old pitcher who have all had sub par second halves would be very bad. That money is better allocated to other places. It is must that the Mets get younger in the rotation and get players that are going to eat some innings. There are a few names out there that are possibilities for next year and it is too strong free agent class coming up to pass up.

The Mets are also in dire need of a major overhaul in the bullpen. Outside of Looper, who has really been effective over the course of the season? Will Wilpon finally tell Franco that his career for the Mets as a pitcher is over? Can you really count on Orber Moreno in 2005? Will Bartolome Fortunado, Heath Bell, or Tyler Yates have shown enough that they can be effective pieces out of the bullpen? Do you consider bringing Bottalico and/or DeJean back for another go around? Will Scott Strickland be ready? The options out there are very few. Scott Williamson is going to have off season surgery which makes him less than desirable and it is doubtful that the Orioles will let BJ Ryan walk away. The options are very, very thin and this is a weak point for the Mets. This will be Duqette's tallest task this off season.

What to do with the outfield situation? Cameron will be in center and that is all we know. Hidalgo has shown that he is a streaky player and not one that could be heavily depended upon. He gave us great thrills in 2004 and was a huge part of the Yankee sweep at Shea and the Mets contending for half the season. He hit .232 in August and is hitting .130 in September with only three homeruns. If you do bring him back, how much will it be for? He is already costing you $2,000,000 in his buyout. What do you do with Cliff Floyd? Should he be given a chance at 1B and solidify that hole for 2005 to make room for someone else in the outfield? Should he be traded to an AL team so he can split time in the outfield and at DH? Would anyone take a chance on this oft injured player? Should the Mets go after a big name free agent to go in the outfield to hit 3rd or 4th in the lineup? Is Victor Diaz someone that should be getting some serious consideration for a corner outfield spot? Is Victor even ready?

The infield has some things up in the air as well. 3B, SS, and 2B seem to be set provided everyone is healthy, but then there is 1B and C. Who plays first? Should the Mets entertain bringing in Carlos Delgado, Glaus, or Sexson or should they sign Kendry Morales with the idea he is their future first basement and use Cliffy at first or a Valent & Phillips platoon to bridge to Kendry or Bladergoen? Is Craig Brazell a viable candidate? As for catching, should the Mets try and unload Piazza and pay about 75% of this salary and have Vance and Phillips shoulder the load?

The Mets bench is actually shaping up for next year. It looks like Keppinger will be a solid backup for all the infield positions once he learns them in the off season and spring training. It is also nice to know that you have someone that can hold down the fort in case Jose's injury riddled career keeps heading down the path it is on. Valent is a valuable left handed bat off the bench and solid player to plug into the outfield. Danny Garcia is also another young guy that could develop into a nice utility player that can play the outfield as well as all the infield positions. He was not completely successful in his stint in AAA this year as a utility player, but since he played CF for Pepperdine and plays a solid 2B in the majors, I think it is safe to say he is a good athlete and will adjust over time. The Mets still need to get few pieces to the bench sorted out and they need to get another power bat off the bench, but that is actually looking better than it did this year.

As with any team, the Mets need to continue to improve their development of minor league talent and international scouting. They need to sign Kendry Morales to give them more depth at the 1B and COF positions. The assistant general manager of the Indians John Mirabelli said the 22-year-old Morales is, at the minimum, Double-A ready. He does not cost any talent to get him, so it has to get done (After all, didn't Wilpon just say money is no option, we are a large market team with resources?). Venezuela is a recent treasure trove of talent and the Mets have gotten Petit and Baldiris from there and need to keep that up. The Mets need to take a look at Daisuke Matsuzaka and see if he is worthy to bring over and give a shot too. They have been improving here, but in scouting, there is always room for improvement.

The Mets have back office issues, too many for a franchise that needs to figure things out quickly. I still think Duquette is a good GM and could be very, very good one. He has shown that he can make shrewd moves and he has shown that he can get some value back in giving up little. He seemed to be on the right track with his build from within, defense, and pitching philosophies, but some of that got derailed when he traded Kazmir. I was OK with parting with everyone else, but losing Scott made no sense when you look at what the Mets got back. The scouting department that decided that Zambrano was worth the risk needs to be reworked. Their medical staff needs a major overhaul. There are simply too many injuries and too many mishandled athletes when they are identified to have an injury. Wilpon insists that Jeff and himself let Jim do all the GM and personnel work. Many of us have trouble believing that, but that is a huge key, making sure Jim has total autonomous control of all the players and transactions. I have zero problems with their minor league and amature scouting. They have drafted pretty well in the recent years and had the three best consecutive first round picks that they have ever had. They picked up some value in the later rounds and have managed to build a pretty decent system and got it to respectability in a short amount of time. It was not too long ago they were in the bottom of the barrel in terms of minor league systems.

The Mets problems run long and deep. With a tremendous off season, they can make big strides to getting back into the thick of things. They still have depth and impact players in the minor leagues and they have some players at the major league level to build around for the foreseeable future. Perhpas what the Mets need most is a PR overhaul and need to establish themselves as a classy organization as opposed to a classless one that they have looked like over the past few years. The fans, who are the most important cogs to a team’s success by forking over their cash, feel cheated by the current Mets brain trust. In addition to changes that the Mets can control, they need to get some help from things they cannot control, like luck. The injury bug that has been plaguing this team needs to go away. Health is the most important factor for this aging team to be respectable. It is clear big changes need to go down and Duquette has a lot of work cut out for him. There are a lot of questions and issues that will need to be resolved, I guess we will all see if he is up to the task.

* * *

  • Check out this quote from this ESPN article about the Red Sox adding another 1,000 to 2,000 seats to Fenway.

    Boston is the fourth team to sell out an entire season, joining the Cleveland Indians (1996-2000), the Colorado Rockies (1996), and the San Francisco Giants (2000).

    Did I just read that right? The Cleveland Indians sold out five consecutive seasons? That is unreal.

  • Jim Caple had written a piece on Ichiro for ESPN's Page 2. Check out this quote:

    Seattleites aren't the only ones paying attention. White Sox fans gave him a standing ovation after a five-hit game in Chicago two weeks ago. That was really remarkable because by the end of a game, Chicago fans are rarely sober enough to stand, period.

    Good stuff, take that White Sox fans.

  • I like Matsui. Matsui approached Howe and Duquette within the past week to express his desire to get a head start. He is a team player and his fielding woes overshadowed his good offensive play. Matsui seems to be a team player and I'm sure this move to 2b is a blow to his ego, so for him to embrace is 100% says something about his character. I could be smoke and mirrors on his end, but I don't think so.

  • Zeile will be catching tonight against Ty Wigginton and the Pirates. Ziele last caught on Sept. 1, 1990. He expressed his interest to get in one more game as a catcher before he retired. I believe he also wants to bat left handed before the year is out as well.

    Zeile now needs two more hits to reach 2000. Once he reaches that plateau hopefully we'll be able to get some looks of Brazell at first base.

  • Floyd backs Don Baylor for for manager of the Mets in 2005. The players seem to like him, but I'm not sure he is the answer. His health is big concern and I think if you are going to bring in someone from the inside, you might as well give Ken Oberkefell a shot. But the most disturbing portion of the article is this:

    "I don't see us revamping the team," Floyd said. "Maybe we'll add a couple of pieces here and there, but this group will be relied on next year."

    ..."We're going to be healthier," Floyd said. "We'll have Victor [Zambrano], [Jose] Reyes and Kaz [Matsui]. Hopefully, we'll hold on to [Richard] Hidalgo. If we have our boys here, he'll straighten it out and it will be a different story."

    There needs to be some personnel changes. There is still a base to build around, but to come back with the same team is a problem. I think the term revamp may describe what needs to be done.

  • Bobby V. speaks out.

    Valentine said he didn't know "necessarily" that some of the Mets' vets got him fired in 2001, but "there were obviously some veteran guys who had agendas that were different than mine."

    That sounds like to me that veterans had too much to say back then and too much to say right now. Input is always welcome, but it just seems that some have decision making power. Leiter vehemently denies it, but I think a lot of people have a hard time swallowing that.

    Valentine didn't dismiss the idea of returning to Shea: "Let's say that everything is open for conversation." A source close to Valentine said that before he left for his current managerial job in Japan, Fred Wilpon told him over lunch, "I fired the wrong guy."

  • Leiter also said he wants to return to the Mets for 2005. You know what that means? He will be a Met in 2005. After all, if he is such good buddies with Met management, how could they let him walk? Now us Met fans get to look forward to two 39 year old pitchers and a 34 year old pitcher being relied upon to be effective for 30+ starts a year. It is going to be a long season next year too if that happens.

  • Leiter should take notes from young David Wright.

    "I hate to lose," Wright said. "It's the worst feeling in the world. It's something that I'm definitely not going to get complacent with. I'm definitely not going to get used to losing, because I think this organization is on the rise and we're going to do some incredible things over the next couple of years.

    "I'm expecting to win here," he added, "and that's the mind-set you have to have going into it."

  • The Mets took the Braves series 3-2 and last night beat up the Braves super prospect Jose Capellan. Capellan is as highly touted as they come and he was battered for seven runs in one inning. Good stuff if you ask me, but this kid is still nasty. Steve Trachsel won for the first time in over a month and the second time in over two months. He went seven innings giving up only two earned runs but only struck out two while giving up eight his and walking one. Heath Bell once again makes a convincing case for being considered a part of the 2005 bullpen. I'm pulling for him to do it and I think he is good enough. He reminds me of a younger Ricky Bottalico. Mike Cameron continues to do well in the leadoff spot and Hidalgo, Zeile, and Cameron accounted for seven of the nine runs. Hidaldo and Zeile hit back to back homeruns and Zeile's was a monster shot.

    Maybe if we are lucky we'll get to see Brazell of Diaz this weekend.

  • Heilman is starting tomorrow instead of Seo. Hopefully he does good so someone is fooled into trying to make a deal for him thinking he might be useful. Hey, you never know, maybe he will be useful to someone else.

  • Boston heads into the dump some people call Yankee Stadium this weekend. Both teams have been on a roll lately and Boston sits 3.5 games out. Is it too much to ask for a Boston sweep?

  • This is a bit of bad news. The last thing the Expos needed was their #1 stud prospect to go down. Clint Everts is going to get Tommy John surgery. Clint, who was Scott Kazmir's high school teammate, managed to go 9-5 with a 2.45 ERA with 122 K's in 110 innings while allowing only 83 hits despite arm soreness and a drop in velocity due to his arm needed surgery. Everts will probably miss all of 2005 and hopefully he will rebound fully.

  • The Devil Rays are on pace for the best season in their history. If trends hold, they'll finish 70-92 and out of last place for the first time ever. Congrats Lou for all the hard work.

  • Last night Curt Schilling became the majors first 20 game winner. To think, all Theo had to give up was Casey Fossum.