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

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Steriods? Jason Giambi took Steriods? We had no idea Really.

Hmm..The Yankees are shocked and surprised that Jason Giambi is on steroids. They are so shocked in fact and they feel so cheated and so betrayed that they now do not want to pay him the $11M in 2005, the $18M in 2006, the $21M in 2007, the $21M in 2008, or the 5.0M buyout.

Does Giambi being on steroids come as a surprise to anyone? Some writer's are saying the Yankees should show him the door. But really, why is any surprised? Most of us normal people had a pretty good idea he was doing it and I'm sure baseball people, including the team that signed him, had a pretty good inkling that he was taking them. But guess what? It was OK then because it was working to their benefit. Would anyone be asking for his dismissal or calling him a bum if he hit 41 homeruns like he did in his first two seasons as a Yankee? Was anyone calling for Gary Sheffield's dismal after admitting he took Steroids? No, because he had a great year. I'm sure if he was hitting .250 with 15 homers and 75 RBIs they would have.

You simply cannot pick and chose when you will have morals and be high and mighty on this issue. It is black and white. The article I linked to above said this:

Say what you want about Yankees pride, but liars and cheaters don't fit into the mix. There was a time when Yankees baseball stood for something. It wasn't too long ago that standup guys like Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez played first base, a hallowed position in Yankees history because of Lou Gehrig and all he stood for, not someone like Giambi, who has become a shell of his MVP-self who no longer can rely on his little steroid helper.

Um, once again, what about Sheffield? For some reason his steroid use and constant denial prior to that information leaking out is not lying or cheating? The idea that Sheffield is immune to the criticism that Giambi is getting it laughable to me. Yeah, we know, just like everyone Sheff had no idea he was taking steroids. Sheffield only took them for two months, I know. Does anyone believe that?

The basic premise behind the Yankees voiding Giambi's is that he is required to keep his body in good physical condition. However, due to taking the steroids, he caused his knee to deteriorate and cause or exacerbated his pituitary tumor causing him not to be able to perform. My, this would create a slippery slope if the Yankees got this done. Coincidentally, Gary Sheffield suffers from a chronic shoulder injury that won't heal. The fact that he is having trouble recovering could be from steroids too. Does anyone know he really took them for only two months? you cannot pick and choose who's contract you can void due to steroids.

Also, according to Newsday, the Yankees are going to move forward in trying to void the final four years of Giambi's contract.

Paragraph 7 (b) (1) states that a club can terminate a contract if the player should "fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition."

Another focus will be on the phrase first class citizen. I said it earlier in the post, but you cannot pick and choose who you want to hold accountable for their actions. Sheffield did roids too. If you get rid of Giambi, you would get rid of Sheffield for doing something wrong. Just because one produces and the other does not cannot you mean you decide who is unworthy to wear pinstripes. If the Yankees get out of this contract it will be ridiculous. Luckily, the only entity stronger than the Evil Empire at this time is the Baseball Player's Union.

In 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa reenergized the entire sport of baseball, no one seemed to mind that Mark was taking Andro, which was banned in every other major sport besides baseball. Sammy went from 36 to 66 homers in one year and his 66 topped his career best by 26. Was it due to steroids? No one knows, but I know Selig would not care much then. It is 100% clear that Barry Bonds took steroids that this point. Is anyone really going after him or calling for him to be released? For some reason, Jason Giambi is getting an underserved amount of criticism for lying when Bonds did it, Sheffield did it, and others lied about doing it. But since Giambi is no longer performing, no one really cares. Unreal. If you going to make an example out of Giambi and void his contract, you have to void everyone who failed the steroid test last year and everyone who was found out to have taken steroids through the BALCO trials. As much as I do not respect Giambi for going over the enemy after they beat his team back in the 2001 playoffs, he does not deserve this. He is by far from the only one. Make no mistake, he was wrong and anyone who did steroids is wrong. However, there were a lot of people that were wrong and did the wrong thing and if something happens to him, it has to happen at all.

"This once again demonstrates the need to implement a tougher and more effective Major League drug-testing program. I have instructed Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President of Labor Relations, to look into this situation and to continue working with the Major League Baseball Players Association to have a drug-testing program that mirrors the very effective policy we currently have in the Minor Leagues. I will leave no stone unturned in accomplishing our goal of zero tolerance by the start of Spring Training and am confident we will achieve this goal."
-Bud Selig

That translated means:

"I don't care who does steroids if it is good for the game, just don't get caught."

Everyone knew this was going on for years, lets get real here. I really love how the newspapers are begging for the game to be cleaned up as if steroids was surprise to everyone. If they feel that way now, these articles should have been more prevalent over the entire year.

The guy looks like a body builder. As did Giambi, Sosa, and others. It aggravates me as if everyone was playing naive now. You can cry about innocent until proven guilty, but I think everyone had a good idea who some of the guys on juice were. You could have made a stink to clean up the game without naming names. I just do not buy that these guys did not know they were using steroids. Athletes’ bodies are like machines. They have a pretty good idea as to what they are putting into them.

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  • The Heredia trade basically downgraded the bullpen as they lost a workhorse who is more useful than Heredia to save $1,000,000.

    "At the end of the day, it was really about financial flexibility," Mets GM Omar Minaya said.

    All that for a million? It's really not a lateral move. I like the idea of getting rid of another veteran loud mouth, but I think the team being deeper should be the bigger goal.

  • According to they NY Post, the Mets are talking to Richard Hidalgo and Mike DeJean. According to Newsday, the Mets are also looking at Moises Alou, who is 38 years old. I know they are just rumors, but that is ridiculous. DO NOT BRING ALOU HERE. I just need to point to his road numbers of a .247 average, 10 homers, 39 RBIs in 300 at bats and his 29 homers, .339 average, and 67 RBIs at home. Let's get real, anyone that thinks this is good idea is out of their minds. Give me Diaz any day over Alou, and give me Diaz over Hidalgo also. If you are not going to significantly upgrade the team, let the kids play.

    "We looked at how we can possibly get younger, but there was no (concerted) effort," Minaya said. "We make some of the decisions based upon finances and some of them based upon youth."

    Well certainly judging by all your free agent targets no decisions appear to based on youth outside or Richard Hidalgo.

    Victor Zambrano has started long tossing and may begin to throw from a mound soon. (Haven't we heard that before?)

  • Omar Minaya, according to the NYDaily news would be OK using Victor Diaz in the outfield if it came down to it, although they prefer one more year of seasoning for him. He also said he feels comfortable going with Aaron Heilman or Jae Seo for the fifth spot if he fails to bring in another starting.

    Omar's big splash is starting to look like it may be Felix Heredia and/or Juan Padilla.

  • The Rangers have expressed interest in Mo Vaughn and he may get invited to spring as a non-roster invitee.

  • Friday, December 03, 2004

    A Look at Magglio

    Here is some info on the ailments that Magglio had dealt with last season and is still dealing with. Obviously all of the news on his health is speculation and nobody knows what is really going on but Magglio, Boras, and the doctor who worked on Magglio. But with the meetings coming up and decisions to be made, I figured I'd take a closer look on his injury situation so everyone has a full understanding of what is going on with his knee.

    A big thanks to Doug for getting this info together for me and doing the research so I could put this together.

    Magglio collided with Willie Harris on May 19th in Cleveland and that started all of his problems. On June 5th when he received surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and Magglio had a second knee surgery in October of 2004 in Vienna, Austria, to reportedly correct a posterior meniscal tear. Magglio was diagnosed with bone marrow edema after the first surgery was unsuccessful and the problem persisted.

    Now, let's get into bone marrow edema quickly.

    Your bone is comprised two types of bone, cortical and cancellous. Cortical is the hard shell and the cancellous is the bone marrow section. This area is almost like a lattice like area that has a lot of gaps in between. In short, it's not solid. When interstitial (cell) fluid leaks into these areas it is called bone marrow edema. There are a few different kinds but we will focus only on trauma.

    If you strike (or are struck) a bone in your body, in Magglio's case the knee, then it is a contusion (bumps and bruises). A strike directly on the bone that is extra painful is usually called a bone bruise. Only when the outer bone is disrupted is it called a fracture. It is basically a nice shot to your bone that you were lucky enough not to break. Injury to the trabeculae results in the leakage of this interstitial fluid into the empty marrow spaces. This is the most common cause of bone marrow edema (BME).

    BME is usually diagnosed on MRI and is often an additional finding in addition to arthritis/meniscal problems. You can suspect it in any non-fracture contusion but will usually only prove it on imaging like MRI. There is really nothing to do for BME on it's own. It is usually swelling that will eventually go down on it's own unless there is a cause other than trauma (tumor, bone/cell disease, etc which Magglio presumably does not have).

    The BME is no long-term concern but the meniscus could be. The edema is definitely reversible if the trauma is not constant and I’d assume he will not make it a common practice to slam into Willie Harris. Surgery should not be necessary for BME, just time to recuperate and maybe physical therapy if it is persistent and bothersome.

    He had the second surgery on his meniscus to either complete a job that wasn't done right the first time or to clean up an area that was injured in an unrelated incident. Why exactly he had the second surgery would be impossible to tell without the operative pictures. The long term concern would not be the BME, but the big concern would be how much meniscus he has left. Meniscus is the shock absorbers that help cushion the blows between his two main leg bones (femur/tibia). The less meniscus Magglio has the quicker the progression of osteoarthritis. There is no way to help him increase his ability to absorb shocks if he has little meniscus left.

    The Doctor’s Advice:
    The bottom line, if the Mets choose to sign him, they better do their due diligence. A new MRI would help but they are not 100% accurate. I would get one done, but I would also examine all of his medical records. Specifically the photos they took of the inside of his knee when the surgeon scoped him. This would really give everyone a better picture on the progression of osteoarthritis a in his knee. That would be the best determining factor to go along with a recent MRI as well as Ordonez showcasing the knee.

    BME should resolve, you can't grow any more meniscus. When it runs out, it is out. You can't reverse the course of osteoarthritis. Whatever he has will not get any better, it may not get much worse over a short period but it won't improve. Osteoarthritis is the real concern, Mets fans need to look no further than Mo Vaughn for a first hand experience of what happens in that situation.

    Thanks again to Doug for rounding out that information. I know you have to be cautious about pursuing any player coming off a injury, knee injuries especially, but what I take away from all of this is that a reasonable diagnosis can be made. Anyone in the medical profession would shy away from making any definitive claims about a patient they have not seen and do not have any medical records for, which is why everything about him is very vague. The fact that he went to Austria was perhaps to see a specialist in the field as some people do, no one really knows. If the Mets or whoever signs him can get a hold of those records (which presumably would be made available to a team dishing out millions for hiim), see him showcase the knee, and take a new MRI can make an assessment on his health. Let us not forget, no one will be talking about a five year deal that he was looking for before the injury. I leave this to professionals, but with all the information at hand I do not see why his health and subsequent risk cannot be accurately gauged.

    From 1999 to 2003, the year before his injury, Magglio averaged 157 games, 600 ABs, 102 runs, 40 doubles, 32 homers, 118 RBIs, 70 K's, a .309 AVG, a .370 OBP, and a .543 SLG for a .913 OPS. He has no injury history and no previous knee ailments. He is listed at 6-0 and 215 pounds. The fact that his meniscus is his biggest problem, tells me he may just be OK since he wasn't wearing it down like some other players who end up OA. Guys like Mo Vaughn who were 6-1 and 275 pounds (that seems a bit generous) have much more wear and tear on his knee's shock absorbers. Being that we are only talking about Magglio for a three year contract at maximum for about $9 to $10 million per year, the guy could be a bargain. One of the best bargains of the off season in fact. He would be the consummate hitter that the Mets need to plug in at #3 and give you .300/25/95 at Shea. The fact he has never made more than five errors in a season sure does not hurt either. People can point to him playing U.S. Cellular helped his average, but he still hit .308 away from home over the past three years and I think he can hit .300 at Shea. People preach line drive gap hitters at Shea, and that is what Magglio is. They guy can flat out hit. If not for his knee surgery he’d be one of the most sought after people on the market.

    In case you missed my first Magglio post and you have nothing better to do, here it is.

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  • The Mets are the only team thought would deal Stanton for one of the worst pitchers and send money to cover the difference. Unreal.

  • Thursday, December 02, 2004

    Some Options for Omar

    In my opinion, the entire way Omar deals with these Winter Meetings starts with if he intends to go after Carlos Beltran or not. The bottom line is if the Mets choose to go after Beltran and they seriously think they have a shot at Beltran, they need to bring in Sexson or Delgado for insurance in case he slips away. If they feel that have a slim chance of getting him, they need to really really need to jump on Sexson or Delgado. If they feel they are not going to chase Beltran, they need to bring in Sexson or Delgado. See a pattern here? The outfield can be filled in house if need be, 1b cannot.

    As the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday, the Astros are set to give Carlos Beltran a six or seven year deal worth around $13.5 million per season. Furthermore, the article says that the Astros were told Beltran is "yours to lose". The offer is just an initial one and a good starting point. Will Beltran go for $13.5 million per year? I don't think so.

    "We would be doing a disservice to our fans not to look at the opportunity,"
    -Arte Moreno on Carlos Beltran

    Mets Committed Payroll for 2005 so far:

    They are at about $72,000,000 with the Kris Benson signing in terms of payroll. They still need one starting pitcher, a right fielder, a starting first baseman, four relievers, one backup infielder, and the last spot is for another bench player or another bullpen arm.

    Obviously the Mets have Victor Diaz, Aaron Heilman, Keith Ginter, Bartolome Fortunado, Heath Bell, Orber Moreno, Scott Strickland, Grant Roberts, Tyler Yates etc. so they can fill the bullpen mostly with young in house guys and add a free agent reliever and the RF and SP spot could get taken care of in house if all else fails and for a cheap price. Now, let's go over a few scenarios that would fit within their payroll constraints. Let's keep in mind the Mets will basically have $35 million to fill these spots.

    Scenario #1
    We'll start with the idea that Omar plans to give this Carlos Beltran idea a go. I fully expect him to be on of the last guys standing in the free agent market, unless he actually has an opinion where he wants to go and will take their offer if it is reasonable. In that case, it won't be the Mets. It would be Anaheim or Houston. Landing Beltran is a risky proposition because waiting for him may leave an opening for people to steal other viable options. So, in my opinion, if you go for Beltran, you have to pick up a big bat for first base which means they have to get Sexson or Delgado or even Nick Johnson in a trade, who isn't the biggest bat, but he's no slouch. Now the Johnson thing is a stretch to get done soon, so that idea is not so hot and really should be depended on. If give the chance I'd see Bowden holding on to Johnson and moving Chavez or Sledge to make room for Guillen.

    Out of Sexson and Delgado I am in favor of Sexson. He's three years younger and can play the outfield in a pinch. Everyone points to Delgado's batting average and OBP as a huge advantage that Delgado has, but He has hit under .280 six times since 1996 and topped .300 twice with a MONSTER year in 2000. He does get on base more, but Richie has been improving. Give me Richie. I know that was a rudimentary comparison, so shoot me.

    $10 million for Richie
    $6 million to round out the bullpen/bench
    $16 million

    That leaves about $18 million left for starting pitcher and Carlos Beltran. Keeping in mind Wilpon paid almost $6 million in buyouts at the end of this season, so if the Mets lands Beltran, it would seem that Heilman would be the fifth starter with Beltran getting inked for about $15 million. Is that necessarily bad to have Heilman get the fifth spot? Nope. That team is actually pretty damn good and is at about $104 million. That leaves a million to play with for the pen or bench and gives the Mets with two backup starting pitchers in Seo and Ginter with Keppel, Soler, or even Petit ready by late 2005. If Beltran does not sign the Mets have Diaz start in right and still get that big bat in Sexson while the Mets payroll stands at about $89 million. Now at time if Beltran bolts and Diaz gets the job, the Mets could look back to the rotation and see if Lowe is still around or try and fill right with a bat. There may still some options to play with that leftover money.

    Scenario #2
    This one figures on the Mets wanting to lock down that last spot in the rotation with a major league proven guy that can slot into the #1 or #2 spot. In this case, you can fit Beltran in with a cheap first baseman like Olerud or Mientkiewicz, but I do not think there is a person in the world that can guarantee me that the Mets will land Carlos. There is no way the Mets can add Sexson/Delgado, Beltran, and a big name pitcher while taking care of the pen and the bench. That would take them over $110 million and at close to $117 million with the buyouts included. If he would go that high, then fantastic by all means try and get everyone you can. In reality you will have the entire outfield, infield, rotation, bullpen, and most of the bench set with Piazza's contract coming off the books and Glavine's salary going down $6 million. That is $21 million in 2005 coming off the books. The Mets could be at about $100 million with a very very good and young team in 2006 if Wilpon would be willing to go that high. But since we are playing with $105 million only, forget that idea.

    So if Omar decides to upgrade the rotation, JD Drew or Magglio Ordonez would fit the best for right. I think the Mets can reasonably make sure Magglio is in good shape and if they decide he is, I think he is your guy. Take a look at the guy's numbers, he is good, really good. He may be a better pure hitter than Beltran and if he was healthy, he would be a close second to him in terms of desirability out of any position players this off season. He could be a complete steal if he is healthy.

    $10 million for Magglio
    $10 million for Sexson
    $8 million for Clement
    $6 million for the bullpen/bench
    $34 million

    That fills every open spot bringing the Mets to about $106 million dollars and fielding a solid starting five and a good offensive and defensive ball club. I really like this lineup since it provides the Mets with Diaz as a call up in AAA if needed and half a season to work on taking a pitch while the Mets could prime Floyd for a mid season trade. It also provides plenty of starting pitching options if someone goes down in the rotation with Seo, Heilman and Ginter ready to step in from day one. This option really creates the deepest team.

    As for starting pitching I still prefer Clement. I do think Omar bringing in Pedro would be a waste of money since I think Clement could be devastating this year for a lot less money. As for Pavano, the reason I'm not high on him is because he does not make people swing and miss and had his best season last year by far and away. I'm not convinced he deserves the $10+ million he is looking for. The Met need a guy that will knock down 9 to 10 k's per nine innings instead of another guy who puts the ball in play.

    Scenario #3
    This scenario basically is Art Howe's dream with balancing the lineup and rotation with plenty of lefties and switch hitters to always have the lefty right match ups at any given time. This one nets Carlos to play centerfield, brings in Odalis Perez to for the fifth spot and gets John Olerud or Doug M. for first base.

    $15 million for Carlos
    $4.5 million for Olerud or Doug M.
    $6 million the Odalis Perez
    $6 million for the bench/bullpen
    $31.5 million

    This leaves the Mets at about $103.5 million, but everything has to basically go right. They have to get Beltran to make this team an effective team in 2005. If they come out of the gate in the Winter Meetings and just lay out an offer he cannot refuse, who knows, maybe it can happen. This lineup would have three switch hitters and two lefties with a rotation that still includes two lefties. Also, if Doug is the first baseman they land, they Mets will get three key players who are 28 and under. Problem as I stated, you miss Beltran, you could have a weak lineup.

    Scenario #4 (aka Omar's Wet Dream)
    This one is least appealing choice in anyone's book I'm sure. This one has Sammy Sosa. The Mets will most likely have sent off Mike Piazza in this case and replaced the face of the franchise with Sammy Sosa (speaking of the three way deal with the Dodgers that MetsBlog.com has mused about) unless the Mets can convince the Cubbies to pick up Floyd's entire salary and throw in about $8 million for Sosa's salary and buyout. Omar also brings in Pedro Martinez after guaranteeing a fourth year and gives Pedro about $15 million dollars per year to sweeten the deal. Minaya then replaces Piazza with Henry Blanco to anchor down the staff.

    $15 million for Pedro
    $2 million extra for Sosa’s salary than Piazza’s salary
    $1.25 million for Blanco
    $6 million for the bullpen/bench
    $5 mill for first base
    $29.25 million

    This team for about $103 million makes me want to lose my breakfast.

    Scenario #5
    This one says Piazza stays and Mets cannot ditch Piazza or Floyd for Sosa. Magically, Pedro also lands in Shea but the Mets fail to actually bring in a big outfield bat and manage to bring in a big first baseman. Strangely enough, this scenario may happen if the Mets push hard enough for Pedro.

    $13.5 million for Pedro
    $10 million for Sexson/Delgado
    $6 million for bench/bullpen
    $29.5 million

    This entire team costs about $103 million too and would not be the worst team Omar could assemble. Again, not a fan of spending so much on Pedro, but I’m not going to complain because he still has good baseball left in him. Diaz gets the nod in right and all in all, things could be worse…like directly below or directly above.

    Scenario #6 & #7
    The Mets boringly fill in their empty spots with Richard Hidalgo, a Jermaine Dye type, or just use Diaz in right while trying to bring in no pitcher and use Heilman or a reclamation project like Derek Lowe or Kevin Millwood, and bring in Olerud or Minky to hold down first with a stellar glove and to bat eight in the lineup.

    (Scenario #6)
    $5 million for Hidalgo or Dye-type
    $4.5 million for Olerud/Minky
    $7 million for Millwood or Lowe
    $6 million for the bench/bullpen
    $22.5 million


    (Scenario #7)
    $ 6 million for bullpen/bench
    $ 5 million for first base
    $11 million

    These are Wilpon's favorite situations as it leaves the team's payroll under $95 million in Scenario #6 and under $85 million in Scenario #7. At least Scenario #6 gives the illusion of trying to improve the team although it is a completely lackluster and disappointing off season that would basically leave the Mets fighting for third place at best. When faced with #6, I’d rather not pick up anyone but a first baseman and go with Heilman and Diaz and have Scenario #7 play out. Either one of these would be rather disappointing with the available bats and arms this off season. Luckily, both of these have little to no chance of happening with Omar looking to make a huge splash.

    When all the dust clears, I think Omar is going to have to stay around that $105 million dollars. The fact remains the Wilpon lost about $20 million in 2003 and probably broke even in 2004. He also paid about $7 million in buyouts at the end of the season and is still paying Nelson Doubleday back for the $140 million he bought Doubleday's stake in the Mets for. As if that were not enough, he did a lot of front office overhauling and is paying Jim Duquette GM money to not be the GM and still paying Art Howe almost $2.5 million dollars a season for the next two seasons. It's easy to say that the Mets can stretch if another $5 million to fill all their needs, but I think Wilpon is already stretching it until he can draw 3,000,000 fans or until the network starts bringing in some real revenue. Once you add in all those extras like the new staff, the buyouts, Art Howe's money, etc. The Mets are knocking on $118 million dollars’ door and Wilpon is still paying back Doubleday for at least a few more years. I think $105 is going to be the magic number that Wilpon is willing and that includes any special players. With all that in mind, which scenario would you like to see play or what other scenario would you rather see?

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  • Thanks to Ariel (aka Benny from the Bronx) for pointing out one of the craziest demands I've heard. I say good for the D-Backs. They know how bad the Yankees want this to go down and they know they got nothing to show for Schilling and for all those regulars they gave up for Sexson. The bottom line is they need something and something big for this future Hall of Famer.

    Arizona was asking New York for a package which included Javier Vazquez, Tom Gordon, prospects Eric Duncan and Chien-Ming Wang, another prospect and cash considerations between $12-20 million. The Diamondbacks also asked the Yankees to acquire another pitcher from a list of 10 -- Oakland's Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, Florida's A.J. Burnett, Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman, Toronto's Ted Lilly, Los Angeles' Edwin Jackson, Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir, Colorado's Shawn Chacon and Jason Jennings, and Texas' Kenny Rogers -- to include in the deal as well.

    First off, does anyone know how Rogers fits into that crew? Second, it’s nice to see two former Mets products in Burnett and Kazmir on that select group of ten also.

    According to ESPN, they also requested Vazquez, Tom Gordon, pitcher Brad Halsey, several prospects and the cash to pay the salaries of both Vazquez and Gordon at one point.

    STICK IT TO THE MAN D-BACKS. Besides, if you look at what Victor Zambrano gets you, it stands to reason that Randy Johnson should net about 1000% more.

    ESPN says the Yankees have said thanks, but no thanks although people have their doubts as to whether or not that is exactly true.

    One last quote from the ESPN article:

    "Even the Yankees have their limits," the executive said, "whether anyone wants to believe that or not."

    I'd have to agree, they do have their limits and it looks like this off season is going to test those limits.

  • Thanks to C. Webb for pointing out that Kendry Morales has signed a six year deal with the Anaheim Angels for about $10 million plus incentives. He was looking for a similar deal to Texeira and the Angels had said they may use the money they were going to spend on Jared Weaver and use it on Morales. Things could get interesting on the Weaver front. Also, Rich Lederer brings up a good point that this perhaps makes Casey Kotchman available. If the Angels choose to chase Randy Johnson again, Kotchman can become the centerpiece with John Lackey, either Jeff DaVanon or Juan Rivera, Alfredo Amezaga or Maicer Izturis, plus one of their middle relievers in as much as a five-for-one deal for the Big Unit. Very good point and this will be interesting to follow.

    Note to Jared: Fire Scott Boras if you'd like to play in the majors...you too Stephen Drew.

  • I missed this from Mets.com's mailbag:

    As for top pick Phil Humber, the club is inching closer toward an agreement with him. Humber wants a deal that includes a $3.6 million signing bonus and nearly $6 million in salary, and it doesn't appear that's not going to happen. Still, the Mets have traditionally had little trouble signing players and Humber should be in camp come February.

    Good news.

  • Straight out of the no shit category, Giambi admitted he used steroids.

    No worries Jason, despite you denying it, we all knew. I wonder if the Yankees will try and void his contract? I don't think it will ever get done, but I can see George trying.

  • Peter Schmuck is truly that...a schmuck. He is maligning the Pedro Martinez offer from the Mets. Fist off, no one from Baltimore has the right to speak of any other team running in an inefficient manor. I really hate when people outside NY bash my favorite team, especially when their team is in disarray. They've created quite a team there, in fact, they would be well advised to bring in Martinez due to the fact their ace is Sidney Ponson. I repeat again, SIDNEY PONSON!!!! Add in the fact he points to the Mets bad record last year disregarding the plethora of injuries. Given the Mets farm system and current team, there is no doubt they are in a better spot than the Orioles and will win sooner. Pedro can help this team next year and even three years from now. Despite the fact I think the money could be spent better, by no means is he a bad pickup. How bad is it really to pick up a pitcher who would immediately become the ace of a team? The answer: Not that bad. Maybe the Orioles should try that.
  • Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    Strike Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

    With the Winter Meetings starting on Tuesday, I'm going to do a few pieces on free agents, strategy, and play out some scenarios that could help out the Mets now and for a few years down the line. Ideally Omar comes away with one or two major pieces in place or their deals in place shortly after these meetings.

    I think the consensus of most Met fans is simple. GET BELTRAN. As much as I'd love to have Beltran, the idea of waiting for him may not be best for the team. Yes, they can afford him and yes, I'm sure Omar would love to have him, but it is not that simple. In a perfect world, the Mets get Beltran as their #3 hitter and star for the future with Reyes and Wright. They also get a slick fielding first baseman who wields a lefty bat in Doug M. or John Olerud and they solidify their rotation. The bench and pen will follow, but those aspects of the team are not as burning right now as others. The pen will most likely be solved in house with the bevy of relievers that the Mets have (and for better or worse, most likely Dejean, who I have no problem with) even though it would be nice to add a lefty and McGinley won't be around to try out for that spot which is a shame. As for the bench, I posted about it here and that is really the least of Omar's worries.

    Now enter reality. Carlos Beltran will most likely be one of the last if not the last big ticket free agents to sign with a team. Now, the Mets are in a unique situation since they can go into the spring thinking they can use Floyd, Cameron, and Diaz in the outfield and if they get Beltran great, Diaz can stay at AAA until the Mets dump Floyd at the deadline to extract the most value from him. If they do not get Beltran then they have a capable outfield. Only one problem, the Mets needed to add some thump to meat of the order. In the above scenario, the Mets would have picked up a light hitting first baseman with a good mit. That will not help the team too much at all. Omar is going to have to make some quick hits to walk away with a team that is going to good for the next couple of year and not miss out on some sorely needed offense.

    If you are a small or mid market team like the Indians or Tigers, you need to choose your targets and pounce fast. It is nice to be able to wait and see how the market develops, but sometimes that is luxury you cannot afford. Sometimes a team like the Tigers can catch an I-Rod after the dust settles, but that is a rarity. Look at the Indians pursuit of Clement. Right now, not many big market teams have been rumored to be clamoring for him. The Indians pegged him as their #1 priority and want to wrap it up soon before Pavano, Pedro, etc. fall off table and Clement's stock rises and the big boys get into the bidding. If a player you may be interested in is receiving serious consideration from a few teams, then do you pass him up and hope for the biggest prize this off season when you are against the odds of landing him? The Mets need to assess their chances with big time free agents, talk to their agents and base their decisions off that. If they feel that have NO chance with Beltran and he is part of their plan to pick up a slick fielding light hitting lefty to compliment him on the team and Sexson is close to a deal in Seattle, what do you do? You KNOW Sexson will help this team now and even five years down the line and you know you can nab him, do you let him go on the hopes that you beat out four or five teams more successful and with better teams in place right now than the Mets in the Beltran sweepstakes? You ahve to choose your battles. Am I saying pass on Beltran without and offer? Not necissarly, but certainly do not watch the premier hitters drop off while Beltran is still unsigned in January and possibly into February. It is a given that Boras is going to take his sweet time with the off season's biggest prize, but the Mets have a few holes that need to be addressed and outfield may or may not be one of them. If they do not find a taker for Floyd coupled with the fact that they have Diaz, that may not be of paramount concern like first base where there is no option currently. We do know that they have a big first base vacancy and a need to add some pop. So, what do you do here if you are Omar? It's nice to say "Get Beltran and get Olerud or Doug Miencladjoaf34uljncnarjalkej?#(#jl3jkj4l" but what if you do not get Beltran? Offense is a bigger priorty than pitching in my opinion. What if the market plays out and you lose out on Sexson, Delgado, and Beltran? By the time Beltran goes, Magglio, whom you could probably afford with Sexson or Delgado, and JD Drew, who has not been attached to the Mets in any rumors and will likely remain a priority for the Braves, will presumably be off the market and getting ready for press conferences with their new teams.

    Omar has quite a conundrum ahead of him, but waiting will not help. If he chooses to chase Beltran, he also has to bring in a guy like Sexson and forgoe upgrading the staff any further. Make the finances work because if you miss Beltran and lose out on the other big hitters it will be another long summer at Shea. I've already outlined what I think the Mets should do, and it does not include Beltran. I do not see him coming here unless the Mets vastly overpay for his services. Money does talk, but are the Mets prepared to overpay for him to come here? It may just take something close to the silly contract that Boras is asking for. The Mets are in a bad position right now. They are not seen as great place to come and for that they have to overpay to get stars to come here. Who was the last mega star to sign here? As for Vlad, let's be real, he never wanted to come to the Mets and it was his last resort. Even if the Mets match the Angels exact offer, he was not coming. Would Sexson for $10 million be overpaying? Yes, but he, nor anyone else, would come here for market value if NY was not their top choice. Luckily Mike Cameron wanted to come here. He told the Mets he wanted X amount of dollars for X amount of years and you'll have me. You know what? No one feels that way about the Mets this off season. I think Clement can be had for around market value and so can Magglio. Clement can be swooped up before a bidding war may happen and people are leery of Magglio because of his knee. But if you were Magglio would you come to Shea on a one year contract to prove you are healthy and pad your numbers for your next big contract? Nope, he'll most likely need a three year contract with an option to land in Flushing.

    Omar needs to act fast after the meetings next week for sure or else the his big splash just may be Sammy Sosa.

    Tomorrow I'll take a look at the finances and what is committed for 2005 so far and how a few scenarios can work that will improve the team realistically. Omar has to have a few plans that are contingent upon different things so I'll play around with a few options and some will include Beltran.

    Friday will be a post on Magglio as I've finally gotten some medical opinions on his knee and will be going over what exactly should be the biggest worry about him and if these worries can be subsided a bit.

    Things are going to start happening fast.

    * * *

  • From the Daily News:

    The Mets have expressed interest in free-agent catcher Henry Blanco. And Vance Wilson can read between the lines whether the flirtation is genuine, considering the Mets seemingly have no intention of playing Jason Phillips at first base, and also have yet to deal Mike Piazza. "It's a good chance two catchers are leaving by trade or whatever," Wilson said. "I think that's how you have to take it. If the Mets plan on moving two of us, you would hate to let a guy like Henry Blanco pass." Last season, the Mets had shown interest in Oakland reliever Chad Bradford, who is pricing himself out of that market. But Phillips, offered at the time, isn't as good a fit since the A's obtained Jason Kendall. Phillips was unsure of his future, but suggested it probably wasn't a good sign that manager Willie Randolph did not return his call.

    It was not a good sign that the manager did not return his call? Sure is. I would not like to see Phillips traded. I like him as the backup and still think he has some usefulness. We'll see how this plays out, but I do not like the silly notion of Blanco coming to this team. Especially since he turned down a two year $2.5 million deal from the Twins. Too much money for a backup when you have two here that will be much cheaper.

  • The Indians are closing fast on Matt Clement. Omar may be asleep at the wheel on this one. I still think he'd be the best fit cost wise and talent wise.
  • Tuesday, November 30, 2004

    Matsui vs. Matsui

    I I think the consensus was that Hideki was hands down a flat out better hitter than Kazuo when they played back in Japan. Kaz’s career average was .309 and Hideki’s was .304. Kaz hit under .300 only twice (his 1st two years) and Hideki hit under .300 five times. Kaz hit over .320 three times and Hideki hit over .320 twice. Kaz had 26 more doubles than Hideki in one less season. Kaz had 35 more triples and 260 more stolen bases. The big knock on Kaz was that he struck out too much. However, he struck out over 100 times only twice (his last two years) and only topped 90 k’s three times in nine years. Hideki topped 100 four times and topped 90 k’s in eight out of ten years. Kaz was reportedly a gold glove fielder with tons of speed that could switch hit. The two areas Hideki buried Kaz in is BBs and HRs. Since Kaz is not a homerun hitter like Hideki, one would think that his numbers would translate over to the states better due to his ability to shorten his stroke to put the ball in play and use his speed.

    In Kazuo's first season he struggled a lot more than Hideki did. His power took a huge hit and only averaged a homerun every 66 plate appearances. Hideki averaged a homerun every 39 plate appearances in his first exposure to major league pitching. Hideki hit RBIs with a higher frequency and walked at a slightly higher frequency. Part of Hideki's success could be attributed to the park he was playing in half the time and the lineup that was surrounding him. Kaz had very little in terms of protection and played half his games at Shea. Despite that, Kaz was proving to be a capable hitting after going through a rocky start in the US. He finished with a .272 average, but it was on the rise. After his first three months in the Majors, Kaz had 303 at bats and owned a .250 batting average. Kaz would have had to hit .300 in his next 303 at bats just to get his average up to a respectable .275 average. Kaz never reached another 303 at bats for the remainder of the season but almost brought his average up to .275 anyway. He only had 157 at bats the rest of the season due to his back spasms but managed to hit .312 in those 157 at bats. Kaz was also near the league leaders in doubles before he went down with his back injury. He finished the year with 32 doubles in 460 at bats which is a double every 14.4 at bats. He was on pace to be in the top 10 in entire MLB in terms of doubles.

    After a season of adjustment in the states I see no reason why Kaz cannot be a force in the United States like he was in Japan when you look at both his and Hideki’s numbers. Kaz was arguably the more complete player back then and could turn into a more complete player now. He will never be the homerun threat and run producer that Hideki is, but he has more facets to his game. Kaz may have struggled more than Hideki did in each of their respective first seasons, but I think he can again top Hideki in every category except homeruns and base on balls. Let's not forget that Kaz was making a resurgence at the end of the season before he went down and was on a similar path that Hideki was on in terms of adjustment. Hideki batted .254 and .261 in his first two months of major league experience before taking off and hitting .394 in his third month, following that up with .299, .233, and .289. Hideki finished with a .287 average which was about 6% off his career numbers and 14% off his last year in Japan. Hideki also hit 78% less homeruns in 123 more at bats in his first year in the States than his last year in Japan. Hideki then raised his average by .012 and almost doubled his homerun production with one year of seasoning. The strangest thing about Hideki's first year was his ability to not strike out. He almost tied a career low in K's and just missed by 2 K's in a ton more at bats. Kaz finished with a .272 average which was almost 14% off his career mark and was about 12% off his mark in 2003, but his average was rising fast before his injury. Like Hideki, Kaz hit 78% less homers in the States than his last year in Japan, but did so in less at bats than in Japan and actually had his power translate better than Hideki's did despite playing in Shea while Hideki was in Yankee Stadium. Kaz was also on pace for a career best in doubles, which is definitely noteworthy. Yes Kaz struck out more, but he was more of a contact hitter than Hideki was for his career back in Japan and K'd as little as 60 times in 2000 and 83 times in 2001.

    It is not unreasonable to expect a .290/.340/.485 line with about 15 homeruns and about 45 doubles in his second season. Kaz was basically on pace with Hideki in terms of extra base hits in their first exposure to the majors and I have faith in Kaz that he will prove that he is the player that the Mets thought he was. In terms of fielding, Kaz can only go up from here. He averaged 13.5 errors a year in his first eight seasons as a starter in Japan. Hitting and pitching do not translate as well as fielding and there is no good reason for Matui's horrible work in the field. He only topped 20 errors once and booted less than ten balls in 2001 and 2002. There is no conceivable reason why he could boot 28 balls in 280 games in his last two seasons in Japan and boot 24 balls in his first 114 games in the States. It also has to be understood that since he played on turf in Japan, he was not used to charging groundballs as they got to him faster. Between his weak arm and waiting back on balls, I'm sure it forced him to rush a lot of throws and screw him up all together with his approach to fielding. The shorter throw from his move to second base compounded with a solid fielding first baseman and time he spent his first year getting used to the grass will hopefully translate into 150 or so games with under 20 errors. The Real Matsui will show his true colors in 2005 and be the all around threat that the Mets scouted in Japan. His adjustment period in this new culture and level of competition is over and it is time for him to produce. There are no more excuses and judging by his last 157 at bats and the amount of doubles he finished with, I think it is very projectile that he will be a major surprise for Met fans next in this upcoming season. Kaz has a very real possibility of being in the top third of all ML second baseman in doubles, triples, homeruns, RBIs, and batting average. For anyone that wants to trade Matsui to let Garcia and Keppinger play or whatever, that would be mistake. Matsui can play and I have feeling he'll earn his keep a bit better in '05.

    * * *

  • Newsday has this tidbit:

    With the Mets cooling on Sosa, they have turned their attention to free agents Richard Hidalgo and Magglio Ordoñez for rightfield.

    As for first base, the Mets have not yet made an offer to Richie Sexson, according to a person familiar with the situation, but he is on the club's radar, as is Carlos Delgado.

    The Mets have summoned their front-office personnel and scouting directors for conferences in New York this week. Those sessions will help design a strategy for the winter meetings in Anaheim in less than two weeks.

    One source says the Mets have cooled on Sosa and one source says the Mets are awaiting response from Hendry on a proposal that Omar made with the Cubs picking up more money. Please just let the deal have been pulled of the table and this is just some garbage news about proposals and counterproposals.

  • Even if the Mets do not get Pedro, Omar is doing what he set out to do. He set out to make some waves, create a buzz, steal some back pages, and make the Mets relative and distinct from the Yankees. He's trying to create the feeling that the Mets are not just the other team. Like Lupica said in his column today:

    Minaya is saying that the Mets don't sit back anymore. I think Pedro belongs in Boston. I think he'll stay in Boston, unless he leaves a great situation over money the way Jason Giambi did. He's still better than anybody the Mets have, if he can pass a physical. You want to know why Minaya tries? That's why.

  • "Go ahead and arrest me."

    Milton, not want you want to say to a cop. Milton Bradley got arrested in an investigation for disorderly conduct. Oh, and he is in the midst of undergoing anger-management treatment.

  • Benitez is about to ink a three year $21 million contract with the Giants. No matter how good he ends up doing, I'm just glad he is not in Flushing.

  • The Yankees have a one year contract offer to Al Leiter. It's a bit more than the Mets offer, but still incentive based for the most part. If he takes the offer before Dec. 7th, the Mets would own the Yankees' first round pick and would received a sandwich pick basically making any picks the Mets lose in the free agent market moot. C'mon Al, sign already.

    Oh, and the Yankees are still pursuing Milton, Johnson, and Leiber.
  • It's On

    Minaya is certainly sending a message, but it is up for debate what that message is.

    According to the NYTimes, the Mets have offered Pedro Martinez a three year, $38 million dollar offer with a vesting fourth year option.

    The Red Sox indicated that they would not change their initial offer to Martínez until they knew there was competition. Now, the 33-year-old Martínez has something to take back to Boston, whether the Mets are just a bargaining chip or a legitimate destination. For everything Boston can promise - a clubhouse accepting of Martínez's somewhat unpredictable ways, a rabid fan base and another chance at a World Series - he knows that he would start next season behind Curt Schilling in Boston's rotation. With the Mets, he would become the team's ace.

    The article also points out that the Mets have not offered Richie Sexson a contract though there has been some open dialogue expressing mutual interest. Unfortunately the article also points out that Minaya is still eagerly chasing one Sammy Sosa.

    The Mets would certainly make the Diva scale rise of the charts with both Sosa and Martinez. In fact, if Sosa and Martinez ended up in Flushing, there would not have been such a collection of Diva power since Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, and Chaka Khan took the stage.

    Monday, November 29, 2004

    Moving and Shaking

    John Harper did a piece for the Daily News that says Pedro is worth the risk. The basic premise of the article is that Pedro is still one of the elite pitchers in the league, but for how long is the question. To that end, I say who cares? At this point, it is extremely rare when a pitcher will be signed for more than three years. As for a guy like Pedro, two or three years seems to be all he'll get. To look at a pitcher beyond two or three years is inane if their contract will not exceed that time frame. It seems to me that the Red Sox would be perfectly happy seeing Pedro take a walk over to the NL where he will not hurt them and break up their marriage peacefully. Can the Mets get Pedro with a two year contract with a third one that vests based on performance? Maybe. Pedro is a guy that is big on pride, if he feels slighted by the Red Sox, he may feel it necessary to abscond his current team and go to a team that wants him and needs him more. For the article, they posed a questions to five baseball people — one manager, two scouts and two GMs — who basically ranked the top fifteen pitchers in baseball.

    As the article points out, not one Met is ranked above Pedro. He would be the ace of the staff instantly and give them legitimacy in the #1 spot and an ace better than more than half the teams in the league's ace while giving them a damn good rotation with the #5 guy being Steve Trachsel. To me, that is a very good staff. Now, is he my first choice? As I stated everyday for the last week, no. But if Omar is going to bring him in, he is absolutely worth the short term risk with the reward he can bring. That is based on the idea that the contract is no longer than three years and for around the $12.5 million Boston is offering. Pedro's fastball was consistently down over the year and he was working in the 89-91 mph range, but he could still dial it up to 96 mph when needed. The guy can still pitch and can still get people out. In the NL with the pitcher batting and generally a weaker 7th and 8th hole on just about every NL team, he could thrive for a few years in Shea. Those who say the Mets need to completely rebuild are wrong. They need to get younger but can stand to infuse free agents that can help the team now. They can afford to put a quality product on the field while bringing in people from the farm each year and signing big free agents. Not only that, signing Pedro sends a message to other free agents like Beltran, Sexson, Delgado, etc. that Omar and the Mets are serious about winning now even if he does not end up signing with the Mets. Would signing Pedro be an apocalypse for the Mets? Even Beltran could turn into a disaster, but the risks and rewards have to weighed.

    With their payroll to be about $105 million in 2005, Omar has just about $35 to $38 million to play around with and he can do some damage and bring in some good pieces. The Mets can field a good team in 2005 with a few right moves. The pitching will be there even without Pedro. If the Mets add Pedro/Pavano/Clement/Perez to an already solid staff and they can add some offense via a bat or two, they can be a good team. The NYPost reports that the Mets have reportedly offered Richie Sexson a deal worth approximately $10 million per year and that would certainly be step to adding some offense giving them a monster cleanup hitter. Would they be Cardinals good? Nope, but who is? Houston is already down Berkman in 2005 and may not have Clemens or Kent either, the Cubs are losing Alou's 40 homers and may not bring back Nomar, San Fran is the same story every year unless they can get a big bat behind the Giants and address their rotation depth, the Dodgers rotation has holes and they may lose Finley and Beltre, the Padres have some offensive questions, the Marlins may lose their best pitcher from '04 and already got rid of Penny last year, the Braves may not be able to bring back Drew or Wright, and the Phillies have some rotation questions and locking Corey Lidle is better for everyone in the NL East than it is for the Phillies. Basically, outside the Cardinals, not one NL team is given to be solid contending team and without some serious issues to deal with. Why not the Mets if they make some smart moves for a change?

    Sunday, November 28, 2004

    Big Splash?

    This would certainly qualify as one.

      The Mets plan to make an offer to Martinez "shortly," a baseball official said last night. Minaya dined with Martinez in the Dominican Republic on Thanksgiving night.

      "All I can say is I'm not going to comment on what we do, what we're thinking," Minaya said yesterday. "I would be at a disadvantage if I were to comment."

    He's the type of guy that would love to pitch in Shea's cavernous park and in the NL to make his once guady numbers gaudy again. Will he actually come here? Doubtful, but Omar is certainly keeping us Met fans entertained this off season so far.

  • The M's have offered Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson contracts. Strangely enough, they want to rotate Raul Ibanez, Carlos Delgado, and Richie Sexson at 1st, DH, and LF. They are looking for Sexson to play primarily left field. Strange enough for you?

    Omar is too busy looking at Sosa and Pedro and guys like Sexson and Clement who could help the team are probably going to just slip through. Sometimes I wonder if Omar is looking too big for all the wrong reasons. If you really want to make a splash, none is bigger than Beltran. So if you want to wow us, do that. If not, do the sensible thing and upgrade the team with more affordable options that fit the team better.