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

Friday, November 26, 2004

Where There is Smoke There is Fire..and There is too Much Smoke

Just when we read some good news yesterday, then this comes out today. Enough already with this ridiculous notion of bringing Sammy to NY. This makes no sense whatsoever. The money will not match. You cannot count Floyd's salary in 2006 this year and say it is a wash. That is counting on the Cubbies picking up the difference between both salaries completely including the buyout, which does not seem like something they are willing to do. Bringing in Sammy will cause a hit for the Mets of $6.5 to $10 million dollars in '05 making it less likely any more moves will come besides Sosa. Let us not even bring up the rumblings that he'd be looking for an extension. There is no way the Mets are not going to take in some substantial amount of payroll for Sosa services. Even if this year's money is magically a wash, the Mets are still stung because they will be putting more money up this year than they would up with just Floyd and the extension for Sosa would be between $9 million to $12 million for one year. That is going on the assumption Omar's man-crush does not force him to give Sosa a two year extension if this went down. Anyway this shakes out, the money will not be equal. The Mets are going to take on additional salary in '05 and a lot more in '06. Screw bringing Sosa here, let him finish out his days in Cub uniform. Let him be their problem and not the Mets problem. It has been stated before by plenty of people in baseball and the media and I'll say it again, Dusty Baker is supposidly the ultimate player's manager. Like Mike Soscia, every guy loves to play for him with the exception of some trouble makers (cough, Sosa, cough, Guillen, cough). As if Randolph's job will not be hard enough, this aging, decling diva should be kept off the grass in Flushing. How many future Hall of Famers on the wrong side of 35 on the dowside of their career can one team have?

Oh, and one more thing, this was a picture of Sammy Sosa in 2001. He does not have these anymore.

Sosa's shrinking physique last season generated more whispers of possible steroid use in the past, and he was limited to 126 games - his fewest since 1996 - because of back spasms brought on by a violent sneeze.

It's time to move on and look at more intelligent options.

* * *

  • Baseball America's top 20 AFL prospects are out. Not suprisingly enough, there were no Met prospects out of that lackluster group they sent. I'm not asking for much, maybe just for them to have sent Lastings Milledge or Yusmeiro Petit.
  • Thursday, November 25, 2004

    Happy Thanksgiving

    There are many reasons to be thankful today. The Mets did no lose today, the Mets did not sign Sammy Sosa, I did not write any outlandish post today and miscount the number people on the active roster, you do not have to read through my horrifying spelling and grammatical errors, the Mets are NOT the Yankees, Omar is the GM of the Mets, if you add up the age of the left side of the Met infield that number would still be less than John Franco's age, the Mets and Al Leiter have decided to "explore other options", there is no work today, Art Howe is not the manager, Alfonso Soriano is not on the Mets, the Marlins look like they are going to lose their ace from 2004, Kaz Matsui is not as bad as he looked in 2004, Maurice Vaughn is going to attempt a comeback and it will not be in a Mets uniform, that google lets a lot of write these stupid blogs for free, and most of all, three to four years of this:

    and this:

    and plenty of this:

    "I heard the players were excited about the trade because they wanted to see if they could catch Kris and me having sex in the stadium,"

    "Three and a half hours a day, for 162 days, of baseball is a lot of boredom. There's nothing to do, so I come up with fantasies. Owning a team would be fun. I'd have rules about cheating on your wife because that's out of control....And I'd always be in the locker room. If I'm paying them millions to play for me, I should be able to watch them walk around naked." As to who would be the first players she would trade for on her fantasy team, she says, "Mark Mulder, Richie Sexson, Barry Zito, Jeff Weaver - he's a cutie pie."

    Things are starting to look up around Queens these days.

    Oh, and if you want to buy Anna's calendar, click here.

    * * *

  • Thanks to CWebb, 22, Ed, Anthony, Andres, Scott, Benny from da Bronx, MikeinSpain (are you really in Spain?), Sam M, GM, James, Andy41, Steve N, Amit, Shep, Cactus, Steve (from the Eddie Kranepool Society), Adam, and whoever else I left off for coming by and making it more interesting with some discussions on the Mets.

  • The Sosa deal is fading fast and George Steinbrenner has given permission for Rick Down to speak with the NY Mets which basically means he should be named the hitting coach next week.

  • The A's are going to land Jason Kendall and it is a great pickup for them. They gave up Mark Redmond and Arthur Rhodes essentially make it a steal and move that guarantees that the big three will now become the big four with the emergence of Rich Harden. Billy Beane is the man.
  • Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    Rounding Out The Bench

    As I've stated before in the comments section of my site, bringing back Al Leiter has more ramifications than just spending a rotation spot on him when it is debatable when other options were possibly better. It forces Willie Randolph to go with a seven man bullpen to keep his arms fresh. Every five days there is a strong bet the bullpen will need to shoulder four innings like clockwork should he return. I like having a seven man bullpen for obvious reasons, but this is not the American Leagues and it is not an optimal use of roster spots. The runoff from the seven man bullpen then leaks over to the bench because they have one less person to have riding the pine. With the Mets already carrying two backup catchers, they are for the most part running short on the bench already and with McEwing occupying one of the other spots, they are really running short on capable bats that can send one out of the park in late innings off the bench. Right now, Eric Valent is the only lefty and the only go to guy if the Mets need a long ball late in the game.

    The bench currently looks like this:


    There is not much to fill at point, but there are two other spots to get guys who can backup the infield positions and another outfielder, one of whom should be a left handed bat. If the Mets can rid themselves of either Wilson or Phillips, then it certainly clears part of the problem and makes the seventh reliever a little less problematic. A strong bench will only help a team that has been injury prone to say the least over the past few years. As for McEwing, I do not mind a utility guy that can play every single position if he is the 25th guy and not relied upon as heavily like he has been over the years. Unless Phillips gets shipped to Oakland, I think the Mets are going to head back into 2005 with two catchers due to Piazza's recent injury bug over the last two seasons. To optimize the remaining spots, I think Rich Aurilla and David Delluci would be good fits. Both guys could hit the occasional homerun off the bench or start in place of a regular while holding down the fort and may actually be productive for an extended period of time. Aurilla can and has played all infield positions and will provide the exact type of infield flexibility off the bench the Mets would need. He is 33 and at this point does not look like a good candidate to land a starting job elsewhere so he should be cheap and willing with to join the Mets since he stands to see a lot of playing time as the regulars drop like flies.

    As for Delluci, he had a solid 17 homeruns for the Rangers and is a Gabe Kapler type of guy to have in the clubhouse. He is a good teammate with a good attitude. The fact that he is a lefty also helps balance the bench out. That would leave two left handed backup outfielders, but I'm OK with that since you can plug McEwing out there too. Delluci can also take a walk as outline by his OBP% being .100 points higher than his average in 2004.

    I know not many people are going to like the idea of Aurilla, but adding Delluci and Aurilla gives the Mets the ability to cover the field adequately in case of injury while giving them some marginal pop off the bench that they were lacking in 2004 outside of Valent. It does not hurt that they are two veteran guys that should be able to give you a good at bat late in the game when called upon to pinch hit a-la Todd Zeile.

    I have no idea if Willie Randolph will carry a seven man bullpen even if Leiter does not return. If he does not carry a seven man pen, it would be good if the Mets can ink Jose Hernandez to backup on the infield as well and he is someone that you have as the homerun threat off the bench. Carrying Hernandez also allows the Mets to use McEwing as the 25th man and used exclusively in emergency type situations. McEwing has averaged over 200 at bats per season as a Met, and as much as I like him for his versatility and his style of play, that is too much. As for Keppinger and Garcia, whom people may complain about being left off my bench for 2005, I have some other plans for them. For 2006 the Mets need to start grooming Danny Garcia to be a younger and actually effective Joe McEwing type and Jeff Keppinger to be a utility infielder and they will be valuable and cheap in those roles in the coming years. Of course, I wouldn't mind Keppinger or Garica on the bench instead of Hernandez, but they are a bit lacking in the homerun category and think they need to refine the skills at other positions at Norfolk. The bench I proposed would not knock anyone's socks off, but it would be slightly upgraded from 2005 and certainly get the job done.

    C- Wilson
    C/1B - Phillips
    1B/OF - Valent
    UT - McEwing
    INF - Aurilla
    OF - Delluci
    INF - Hernandez (if they go with a six man pen)

    UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that I have the counting skills of 6 month old child. My proposed bench would leave the Mets with 26 on their active roster, so below is how should shake out.

    5 rotation
    8 starters
    6 bullpen
    6 bench

    Add Delluci and either Hernandez or Aurilla, whoever is cheaper.

    My apoligies for not actually counting up the heads on the roster.

    * * *

  • "Negotiations started before I got here," said Minaya, hired in late September. "I have to review which is the best way to put the club together, and Al has to review what is in his best interests."

    No one is safe....no one. You listening Fred and Jeff? You may be next.

    Some people think that Mets are leaving the door open for the Yankee to woo AL. I say he fits better on an American League team that carries a larger bullpen and could rely on him as a good fifth starter. The Mets however to not have that luxury and could find a better fit.

  • To Omar Minaya,
    Sign me.
    Yours Truly,
    Richie Sexson

    Sexson averaged 39.6 homers a year and 117 RBIs with Milwaukee from 2001-03. He had nine homers and 23 RBIs in 90 at-bats for the Diamondbacks. He's also a solid defensive first baseman, something the Mets have been lacking since John Olerud left.

  • From Omar to everyone else....IT'S ON.

    Omar has interest in Pedro, Matt (who's agent says he has been contacted by 12 to 14 teams, none of whom are the Mets), and Carl. Before everyone gets their panties in a bundle on Pedro, he may not be a horrible idea. Certainly an idea that is better than bringing in Sammy. Pedro notched the 2nd most innings he had in his career in 2004 while averagee 200 innings per year over the past three years. He has only given up 148 walks, while posting a 10.3 k/9 innings, a 4.54 K/BB ratio, and 7.22 h/9 over the past three years while posting a 2.84 ERA. Yes he posted a career high in ERA in 2004, but his numbers are still solid aside from that. Stick him in Shea and with a pitcher batting ninth, you could have some Roger Clemens type numbers from El Diva.

    Now, don't take that like it is my first choice for him to be a Met, but if Omar inks Pedro, you will not hear me complain.

  • From the NY Post:

    Zambrano, who had a flexor muscle strain that limited him to three Mets outings, began throwing off a mound during the instructional league. He should be healthy by spring training, but didn't face batters during his Florida rehabilitation. The Mets instead shut Zambrano down because of a lingering ankle injury.

    The Mets don't have a high-caliber internal candidate to fill out the rotation without Leiter, though Minaya mentioned they are prepared to use Jae Seo, Aaron Heilman or whoever else emerges during spring training. Cuban defector Alay Soler was let go by his winter league team after compiling an 0-2 record and 5.28 ERA in five appearances. First-round pick Philip Humber remains unsigned, though an ultimatum may be coming soon to move that process along.

    On Zambrano, I'll believe it when I see him this spring

    On Alay Soler, he was out of baseball for a while, so he gets a pass. But released by a winter league team? Isn't he supposed to be close to MLB ready?

    On Humber, please someone issue an ultimatum so we can get this done. Sign Phil already.


    In a galaxy not so far away, a young pitcher who was widely regarded as a budding start signed with the New York Yankees, AKA the Evil Empire. He was so happy to ink a four year deal that would keep him in the Bronx. Javier had pitched no less than 217 innings in the previous four years before coming to the Yankees while registering a sub 4.00 ERA in the last three. Javier also notched a career high in K's in 2003 with 241. His contract paid him 8.5 mil in 04 and will pay 10.5 mil for 05, 11.5 mil for 06, and 12.5 mil in 07. Now? The Yankees have been decided to rid themselves of him and send him to the team that owned the worst record in the majors last year.

    To Pavano, Clement, Milton, etc...this could be you. Things like this make me wonder why people sign with the Yankees. If this deal is done, there is still a lot of money on the table that the D-Backs won't pay. With $34.5 million due over the next three years and the D-Backs knowing that they have the Yankees bent over a barrel, I cannot see them assuming all of it or even 80% of it. Taking on Randy Johnson’s salary, while paying part of Vazquez's salary, and picking up another starter like Milton or Leiber could take them out of the Beltran sweepstakes.

  • UPDATE: I was trying to link to this picture yesterday and I just realized that it did not work. So here it is again.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Coaching Staff? Check.

    The Mets have issued a press release on their 2005 coaching staff.

    Manny Acta, Sandy Alomar, Sr., Guy Conti, and Jerry Manuel are all in. No Mookie, no HoJo, no Oberkefell, and no Alfonso. Next up is Rick Down to be named as the hitting coach.

    In other news, the Mets name Ray Ramirez as the head trainer. He was previously the head trainer for the Texas Rangers.

    Overall, I'm a bit dissapointed that HoJo, Oberkefell, nor Alfonso got a shot, but that staff certainly looks experienced and more than capable. No complaints from me on anyone. As for the Trainer, it can only be good things to get a new trainer and if I remember correctly, he was highly praised in Will Carroll's interview on Metsblog.com.

    The Mets have put together probably the most racially diverse front office and coaching staffs this past season and now that this is all finally taken care of, let's get Minaya working on filling out the roster.

    Does anyone still wonder if Omar has full autonomy?

    Is the Sky the Limit for the Yankees?

    During Jason Stark's chat the other day, one thing he said particularly stood out.

    The Giants believe they have a two-year window remaining to win with Barry. But the debt service on that ballpark prevents them from bringing in somebody like a Carlos Beltran. Bud Selig's new debt rules are being strictly enforced this winter. So if you don't have it, you aren't allowed to spend it. They're addressing closer first. Then they hope to add a CF or RF. They're all over Steve Finley, and that's far from impossible. They look like his most attractive option on the west coast, depending on how strong the Dodgers come on.

    The part about Barry Bonds and the Giants is not the part that stood out, but the part about Bud Selig's new debt rules being strictly enforced. The good ole Yankees lost about $25 million in 2003 and raised their payroll by about $20 million in 2004. Bud already suspects that the Yankees are not reporting all of their revenue from the Yes Network and if the Yankees think they can raise their payroll by another $20 million this off season, Mr. Selig may take that up with The Boss. The Yankees did pull in 300,000 more mindless Yankees fans to the park in 2004 which would certainly make up for a lot of that extra revenue needed, but the Yankees have for the most part maximized their income at this point. Unless they plan on drawing 4,000,000 people to that dump they call a stadium, their revenue streams are already working over time. If they cannot show Bud where the money is going to come from, then signing Beltran while addressing their pitching needs and rounding out the team may be trickier than everyone thinks. I for one do not think it is a foregone conclusion that the Yankees have locked up Beltran and if the Yankees think they are going to push their debt in the $30 to $40 million dollar range, they may have another thing coming.

    In 2003, the Yankees had to pay a 17.5% tax on anything over $117 million dollars. They ended up contributing a paltry $10,764,809, which is nothing to Mr. Steinbrenner. The luxury tax thresholds were set at $117 million in 2003, $120.5 million in 2004, $128 million in 2005 and $136.5 million in 2006. Also, every year that you are over that threshold, the % a team is taxed increases. If a team was a first year offender in the first year of the luxury tax back in 2003, you had to pay 17.5% of every dollar over the threshold. If you offended in 2003 and offended in 2004, you were then the hook for a 30% luxury tax for every dollar over $120.5 million. If you busted through for the third year in a row in 2005, you are on the hook for a 40% tax on every dollar over the threshold and another 40% in 2006 if it is busted again.

    Now in 2004, their total payroll was listed at $183,335,513 on ESPN.com. However in 2003, they were listed at $180.3 million for their payroll and it was widely considered that their payroll was around the $165 million dollar figure, so I'm not quite sure they get to that number. But since I do not know, I'll stick with ESPN's 2004 figure and say the Yankees are $62,835,513 over the luxury tax threshold for 2004. That raised their tax to $18,850,653.90 in 2004 and if they have a payroll of $200,000,000 in 2005, they Yankees will be on the hook for $28,800,000 in luxury taxes and would be $72,000,000 over the threshold.

    What is my point from all of this? Something has to give. Even the Yankees have a breaking point. Can they afford to lure this off season's biggest star here while address their pitching as well as other needs AND keep Bud Selig at bay while in direct violation of this debt rules? By my quite rudimentary calculations, the Yankees could be at least $40 million in the red if their payroll is at or exceeds $200 million. For those of you conceding Beltran to the Yankees, you better think twice. Things that may have seemed like a given before may not be such a slam dunk now. If the Yankees continue to upgrade their team and dish off bad contracts while paying most of the remaining balance for them to play on another team there is going to be a point where their accountant says, ENOUGH! No one has limitless resources even though it sure looks like the Yankees do. Revenue sharing and luxury taxes keep taking more and more from the Yankees every year and if Bud uncovers extra revenue from YES that George is hiding, that is just going to be more money that Yankees have to kick into the revenue sharing pot.

    Then again, I could have no idea what I'm talking about and Beltran may very well be a Yankee.

    * * *

  • Turn and cough.

    Kris Benson passed his physical and is now officially going to be a Met for the next three seasons (...and possibly four).

    "Their willingness to compete next year is exactly what I'm looking for," Benson told reporters on a conference call. "I don't want to go through another rebuilding process. I don't want to win a World Series five years from now. I want it next year. I want to be in a winning situation. I haven't been in one in eight years. This is my best chance."

    Does he know something we don't know?

  • "I told my agent that I want to play for a team that really needs me and where I can start regularly," said Seo, who returned to Korea last week for a two-month visit. "It is not very important whether it is in the United States or in Korea. If they really need me, I will consider returning to Korea. I expect the decision will come in December or January."

    Note to Omar, traded him while you still can.

  • According to the NYTimes, Al Leiter was offered a one year contract worth seven million dollars by the Florida Marlins.

    Also from the above article on the coaching front:

    The biggest additions to the staff are expected to be the bench coach Sandy Alomar Sr., who is with the Colorado Rockies; and the third-base coach Manny Acta, who was the third-base coach for the Montreal Expos and a finalist for the managerial job with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Jerry Manuel is also expected to be named as the first-base coach and Guy Conti as the bullpen coach. Rick Down is expected to be hired as the hitting coach, but the Mets will have to wait until his current Yankees contract expires on Dec. 31.

    Jerry Manuel was up for the Seattle Mariners vacancy and Acta was a finalist for the Arizona Diamondback job.

  • The Star Ledger reports the Newark Bears have a heavy interest in John Franco and have submitted a one year $5,000 offer to his agent, who also happens to be in waste management.

  • If this is true, how can you not respect Leiter?

    Leiter has not yet accepted the deal, according to someone who has been briefed about his sentiments, not because he wants more money, but because he wants assurances that Minaya truly wants him back. The person said that Leiter isn't asking for a better deal; he wants to make sure the Mets aren't just bringing him back for sentimental reasons, especially when there are other teams out there who definitely want him to be a part of their rotation purely for baseball reasons.

    Al is giving Omar the opening to make nice clean break.

  • Don't forget these important Hot Stove dates:

    Close of World Series marks the commencement of the 15-day period during which eligible players may elect free agency or demand a trade.

    November 10 Waivers secured on/after Aug. 1, 2004, expire at 5:00 p.m. ET.
    November 11 New waiver period begins. Waivers (exclusive of Special waivers) secured today and after shall be in effect until February 15, 2005.
    November 19 Day to file reserve lists for all Minor League levels and Major Leagues
    December 7 Last date for former club of player who declared free agency under Art. XX (B) to offer salary arbitration. If Club does not offer, then it loses all rights to negotiate with and sign the free agent until May 1st of the next season.
    December 10-13 Winter meetings, Anaheim, Calif.
    December 13 Major League Rule 5 Draft

    December 19 Last date for player, who declared free agency under Art. XX (B), to accept an arbitration offer of former club. If player rejects offer to go to arbitration, his former club may still negotiate with and sign him until January 8th of next season.
    December 20 Last date to tender contracts.

  • While on the topic of dollars and cents, this is some interesting stuff.
    Comparing the leagues' financial arrangements

    Average salary
    MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:$2.5 million.
    NBA: $4.92 million**
    NFL: $1.25 million.
    NHL: $1.8 million.

    Top salary
    MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox), $22.5 million.
    NBA: Shaquille O’Neal (Miami Heat), $29.5 million.
    NFL: Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears), $15 million.
    NHL: Peter Forsberg (Colorado Avalanche) and Jaromir Jagr (N.Y. Rangers), $11 million.

    Average Team payroll
    MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:$68.1 million (25 players).
    NBA: $59 million (12 players).
    NFL: $71.8 million (53 players).
    NHL: $41.6 million (23 players).

    Player share of revenue
    MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL:63 percent*.
    NBA: 58 percent*.
    NFL: 64 percent*.
    NHL: 75 percent*. (And people wonder why the owners are trying to curtail spending)

    Estimated annual revenue
    MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: $4.1 billion.
    NBA: $3.1 billion.
    NFL: $5 billion. (Isn't this amazing? 16 game seasons and it is the biggest moneymaker)
    NHL: $2 billion.

  • This just proves Microsoft Paint has some socially redeeming values.

  • Gabe Kapler will be playing in Japan next year. He signed a one year, $2 million dollar contract to prove that he can play everyday.

  • Monday, November 22, 2004

    The Cliffy Quandry

    Cliff Floyd, usually clear-eyed and optimistic, all but issued a concession speech when he said, "things aren't looking bright. There's no light at the end of the tunnel."

    All of this Cliff Floyd has to be traded stuff originated from the above statement. After walking off the field in 2003 when he played his last game on August 18th to a standing ovation at Shea Stadium, he could not be further away from his current standing in the organization. Cliff had raised his batting average from .271 to .290 in five games while he was hobbling around playing through pain at the end of his season. Cliff is not a malcontent and he is a team player and made one error in judgment after one game. He got down in what was an extremely tough stretch in a season that was frustrating. All the injuries and losing can mount up and when the press keeps asking you questions, things are going to come out in the heat of the moment.

    Let's not forget, Mike Cameron had made this statement last season:

    Mike Cameron, another upbeat Met, echoed the dreary sentiment, saying, "San Diego took everything we had away from us. They took everything."

    His comments were not as scrutinized by Floyd's, and I think that is a bit unfair. What is one of the things the Mets looking for this off season? They are looking for a lefty bat to put in the lineup to replace Cliff Floyd's presence should he be moved. Yes, I know he has not topped 120 games with the Mets in his two years. However, the previous to years he notched 149 and 146 games. If the Mets cannot move Floyd and get something back, which seems very likely at this point, why not keep him? Bring in another bat for right field via free agency or another trade (I'm not going to suggest anyone) and have Victor Diaz at AAA refining his approach at the plate and working on whatever he needs to work on. Let him put the finishing touches on his game and prepare for 2006. The big worry with Cliff is his health. If he goes down, there is a more than capable insurance policy at AAA waiting to take over. If Cliffy proves he's healthy he could be a more valuable trading chip with one year left on his contract or would provide some good trading fodder for the deadline if he his healthy and the Mets could most likely extract more from teams for him. If he gets injured again, then he will not be valued any less next off season and will be less of risk due to one year remaining on his contract and the Mets could eat the entire thing if necessary. I just do not see the burning need to jettison Cliff away as if he is a clubhouse cancer while the Mets foot most of the bill or have to take another big contract back. If (and this is always a big IF with Cliffy) he is healthy, he will put up numbers that will make his contract look like a huge bargain. Also, power hitting outfielders that bat from the left side of the plate do not come around often for $6.5 million dollars with a lifetime average of .283 either. He could deliver a .280 average, 25 homers, and 90 RBIs if he can stay in 140 games. With the deals that we have been hearing involving Floyd, it makes more sense to have in the lineup for the Mets this upcoming season. It's time for Omar to stop looking at Cliffy for Sosa or Cliffy for Soriano deals and start focusing on upgrading the rotation, finding a first baseman, and finding a right fielder. Like Piazza, if dealing Cliff is not a total salary dump, then they are more valuable to the team. It's time to give Cliff one more chance to prove himself in NY and a healthy Cliff Floyd could add tremendous production in 2005.

    * * *

    Random Anna Benson pic

  • From the LA Times:

    The Angels are one of five teams that have expressed interest in Cuban defector Kendry Morales, a switch-hitting first baseman and left fielder. Morales, 21, might be willing to sign an incentive-laden contract for the opportunity to play in the major leagues, his agent, David Valdes, said.

    "This is a kid that hit cleanup on the Cuban national team at 19 years old," said Eddie Bane, the Angels' scouting director. "This isn't like anyone else who has come out of Cuba. He's legitimate."

    If this kid will take an incentive laden deal, I'm not sure how someone could not take a chance on him.

  • This auction is closing fast.

    Art Howe's baseball card is ONLY 2.99 for the starting bid. The only problem is that is that the auction has been on for seven days and not one person has bit yet.

    C'mon, that card is not not totally useless. Can't someone use it as kindling for their fireplace?
  • Sunday, November 21, 2004

    10 Players Likely to be Traded

    Jerry Crasnick points out 10 players most likely to be thrown around in trade rumors this off season. Sometimes I feel bad about posting material that is in the pay part of sites, and sometimes I do not. This time, I feel kind of bad so I'll only actually put in the meaty part of players that pertain the Mets.

    1. Randy Johnson

    2. Sammy Sosa

    The more Cubs GM Jim Hendry and agent Adam Katz say they expect Sosa to be playing right field in Chicago next year, the more events seem to conspire to suggest the opposite. Sosa's contract situation is much more palatable now that it's clear the players union will allow him to waive an $18 million option that automatically kicks in if he's traded. That makes Sosa a less burdensome acquisition – even though a $4.5 million buyout and $3.5 million severance package ensure that moving him won't be easy. The Mets remain the most likely landing spot. Omar Minaya signed Sosa as a Texas scout in 1985, and Sandy Johnson, the Rangers' scouting director at the time, is now a special assistant with the Mets. While Sosa's all-around skills are fading, he still has power and could be a drawing card in New York. A trade for Sosa also would be a way, right or wrong, for Minaya to put his imprint on the franchise. Events will continue to unfold when Sosa returns from a trip to Europe. One thing you can say about these baseball millionaires: They take great vacations.

    3. Shawn Green

    Green had a mediocre season in Los Angeles. The buzz is he'd like to leave, and the Dodgers would be happy to oblige him and get rid of his $16 million salary for 2005. Whether the team's feel-good run to the playoffs changed that dynamic, it's hard to say. The recent Green-for-Sosa and Green-for-Mike Piazza rumors didn't appear to make much sense. While the contracts are similar, Green is younger and significantly better in the field than either of those two. Sometime between now and spring training, general manager Paul DePodesta has to figure out a way to keep Adrian Beltre, rebuild his starting rotation and deal with an arbitration-eligible Eric Gagne. If moving Green can help in that effort, it makes sense that DePodesta will at least try.

    4. Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd

    Floyd seems like a reasonable trade possibility for Sosa. He'll make a total of $13 million over the next two years, while Sosa will earn $17 million in 2005, so the overall money isn't too far out of whack. The Cubs could use a left-handed bat, and they have an opening in left field with the departure of Moises Alou. As a bonus, Floyd is a native of Chicago. And as Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News points out, Floyd signed a letter of intent to play for Creighton when Jim Hendry, the current Cubs' general manager, was coaching baseball at the school in the early 1990s.Problem is, Floyd has become progressively less mobile in the field because of injuries, and he's a candidate to spend a good part of each season on the disabled list. He's been limited to 365 and 396 at-bats the past two seasons.

    Piazza, 36, is due to make $15 million next year – bad news in light of his 54 RBI in 455 at-bats. His slugging percentage has declined each year since 2000, from a high of .614 to a low of .444 this year. He's best suited for a DH spot, but any team that takes him is going to want to dump some salary on the Mets.

    5. Jose Guillen

    Already traded.

    6. Barry Zito or Tim Hudson

    Billy Beane is never afraid to think boldly, and he's always looking at ways to maximize his resources. Beane recently shot down rumors that he'll deal one of the Big Three, but lots of observers expect him to at least listen on Hudson (who will be a free agent after next year) and Zito (who has regressed from 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA in 2002 to 11-11, 4.18 this season). "When you're on a limited budget like Billy and you might be stretching it beyond the boundaries of where it should go, that's the time to move people," said a National League front office man. Beane would really like to move Mark Redman, but it's hard to envision anyone taking the two years and $9.2 million left on his contract. Even if the A's trade Zito, they'll still have a rotation of Hudson, Mulder, Rich Harden, Redman and Joe Blanton for 2005. That should be good enough to keep them competitive in the AL West.

    7. Kevin Brown

    8. Alfonso Soriano

    Soriano is an impressive blend of speed and power, but he's erratic defensively, has a .323 career on-base percentage, and is probably as good as he's going to get at age 28. The Rangers don't think that justifies a $7 million investment in 2005. Texas initially aimed high, talking to the Mets about Jose Reyes. But the dollars don't add up, and the interest wasn't reciprocated. Soriano also made it clear he has no interest in moving off second base to facilitate a trade. Still, the Rangers will continue to talk with other clubs in hopes Soriano might be able to bring them some pitching help.

    9. A.J. Pierzynski

    10. Pick a Rockie

    * * *

  • Jim Bowden has said that he intends to try and keep Nick Johnson for the 2005 season and has not had any discussions with the Mets. However, Endy Chavez is one of the better fielding center fielders in the league in my opinion and his .277 batting average and his 32 stolen bases with his low strikeout rate (only 40 K's in 502 at bats) tells me that they cannot sit him on the bench. Sledge could be the odd man out, but he showed some promise hitting .275 in the 2nd half with 38 RBIs. For a rookie only striking out 66 times and having and OBP of .336 he may be too tempting to bench as well since he looks to be a very effective player. If they decide to try and upgrade their rotation, Nick Johnson is going to be moved. He is definitely expendable at this point and despite what Bowden said, this rumor has legs.

  • Alan Schwartz is a Clement fan like me.

    The sleeper of the group is clearly the Cubs' Matt Clement, whose electric stuff has yet to translate into performance. Although he walks more than many prefer, his rate of 8.5 strikeouts and 7.6 hits allowed the last two years are by wide margins the best among his free-agent competition. It is these numbers that have some executives wondering if he will be the best investment of the group.

    In many ways, Clement resembles Jason Schmidt, who entered the 2001 free-agent market as an enigmatic right-hander. He signed with the Giants and has blossomed into an ace.

    "The guy I like is Clement," said one National League general manager, who withheld his identity and limited his remarks for fear of driving up the price. "We're buying the future, not the past."

    You reading this Omar? Schwartz also mentions Odalis Perez as another potential sleeper and a lot of value for the salary he may command.

    The Cubs intend to offer Matt Clement salary arbitration. Clement is a type B free agent and would require the team that signs him to surrender their first round pick. However, if a team owns a top 15 pick, then the team would get a the team's 2nd round pick.

  • The Marlins have reportedly offered Al Leiter a contract.

  • Some interesting rumors from ESPN.com:

    Randy Johnson

    Nov. 20 - Randy Johnson wants to play for a contender and is waiting for the Diamondbacks to come to him with specific trade possibilities. If the Diamondbacks can't trade or choose not to trade Johnson, he will honor the final year of his contract (worth $16 million).

    "Randy's desire to leave isn't because he does not want to remain a Diamondback," said one of his agents, Alan Nero, at the Big Unit's annual charity golf tournament Nov. 19. "At this stage of his career, he's got some milestones he'd like to achieve, and he's a competitor. When you work as hard as he does at age 40, it's hard to come to the yard and not feel like you have the best chance of competing."

    One industry source expects the Diamondbacks to get the best offer they can for the left-hander and then take it to him for approval (Johnson has no-trade rights) as opposed to first asking him which teams he would OK, the East Valley Tribune reported. In return for waiving his no-trade clause, the Unit would likely want a one-year extension.

    According to the New York Daily News, several baseball officials believe Johnson will land in St. Louis. GM Walt Jocketty has made no secret of his desire to upgrade his rotation, and the Cards have more than enough resources in their farm system to appease Arizona's desire for top prospects and major-league ready players. "The money is the big stumbling block for us, but we still have to make a run at it," Jocketty recently told KMOX radio.


    Adrian Beltre

    Nov. 19 - Fresh of their signing of Troy Percival, the Tigers now have Beltre on their radar, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Detroit signed Percival in part to send a message to other free agents that they're for real. Stark indicates the Tigers are expanding their payroll from from $50 million to nearly $70 million and have the dollars to sign big-ticket players.

    Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and GM Paul DePodesta met with Beltre and his agent, Scott Boras, earlier this week but have yet to make the third baseman an offer, according to the L.A. Daily News. "Scott and I have had multiple conversations, and when both sides feel like the time is right, we will (make an offer)," DePodesta told the Daily News. "It's not being delayed for any particular reason."