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

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ass, Gas, or Grass...Nobody Rides For Free (Housekeeping)

Part of the Mets problems over the years have been people on their major league and 40 man roster that basically are serving little to no use to the team and are doing more harm than good. If the Mets and Omar are serious about starting this turn around for the franchise sooner rather than later they need to address these problems now. The Mets cannot waste roster space on undeserving players that will not be productive enough like Gerald Williams in 2004 while he was taking up at bats that should have gone to Victor Diaz. We've already recently seen roster casualties like Jaime Cerda and Marco Scutaro amongst others in the past few years. Were they monumental losses? No, but who would not have rather had Scutaro taking up a roster spot instead of McEwing or Delgado in 2004 to serve as the primary backup middle infielder.

For the people that will not be pulling their weight, they should have no spot on this team. Joe McEwing is making $500,000 this season. The Mets could better use his roster spot on someone that may actually end up contributing to this team or they can perhaps get a utility man like Desi Relaford that would provide a step up. Whether they have to pay his entire salary to be a backup on another team or they just give him his walking papers, the fat has to be trimmed. He's not Minaya's guy so the housekeeping would be just that and Omar needs to shape the team as he wants to. A guy like McEwing should be one year contracts from here on out and his two year contract seems a bit silly now.

Another person that should be shown the door is Felix Heredia. Roster spots being hogged by one dimensional players certainly gets to me. If a person cannot pitch to a batter from both sides of the plate, then they must be shown the door. The Mets paid $2.8 million this season for Felix and I cannot see them designating him for assignment or releasing him, but if he does not win a spot in the bullpen in spring training pitching against righties and lefties, I'm not sure I see the use for him. Fantastic, he held lefties to a .216 BAA in 2004 and .226 over the past three years. In roughly 20 less at-bats in 2004 Orber Moreno held lefties to a .220 BAA and has held them to a .226 BAA in 2003 and 2004. Unless Heredia can improve upon his .333 BAA pitching to righties of 2004 Omar needs to say good bye. Unless you are the Yankees gearing up for the Red Sox and are in the AL and can waste a spot on a lefty specialist, there is no need for one. Roster spots and 40 man roster spots are pretty important in Flushing these days. Guys who can barely get lefties out better than some right handed relievers already on the team who can get both sides of the plate out better serve no purpose.

Platoon players are another beast. The Mets have already stated that they do not view John Olerud as an everyday player and the Mets have also been rumored to be interested in him at various points this off season. While he could be valuable glove for this young infield it would be better for Omar to exhaust all available options on players they do view as everyday players. If Delgado is not manning first they should look at Doug M., Kevin Millar, or anyone else who can play 140+ games. I am not a fan of platooning players and while they could sometimes be productive and I’m sure some people are a fan of them, I do believe it is a waste of roster space and a team like the Mets should have learned from 2004 where skimping and trying to get by on a platoon gets you. There is a reason these players are platooning and that is because they are not good enough to play everyday against lefty and righty pitchers. A platoon player is just another one dimensional player that is not an optimal use of a roster spot and a platoon should be the last option.

Three catchers? That is the question Omar should be asking himself. If you are hedging your bets and assuming that Piazza has zero chance of being healthy, then fine. He still managed to play in 129 games in 2004 and if he does go down Vance or Jason will be able to fill in admirably with Mike Jacobs or Joe Hieptas riding the pine. Taking up a 25 and 40 man roster spot with the extra catcher is a burden in my opinion. The only way I can conceivably condone this is if the Mets go with an Olerud/Phillips platoon, but it does look like the Mets will be traveling minus one catcher come spring training.

Another form of free loading in my opinion are backup players that can play only one position. I love the Andres Galaraga's power off the bench and teams need a power bat off the bench, but it would nice if a guy backing up first could man the hot corner if needed. Unless they have a plan to maybe use Galaraga on the roster to platoon with Olerud for a combined 80 year old duo, I'd rather have Rich Aurilla or Jose Hernandez. In these days of managers double switching like it is going out of style and their excessive use of the bullpen, it is nice to have as many options as possible. With all that being said, having a power bat that plays one position off the bench is by far the most acceptable form of roster abuse in my opinion. Tony Clark’s homerun every fifteen at bats was a nice luxury to have off the bench, but when you add in a third catcher and McEwing on the bench, there really is not enough space for a one position guy.

Some more dead weight the Mets can trim is Jeff Duncan and players like him on the 40 man roster. I love the speed and the fielding skills, but his extreme lack of ability to hit the ball is a problem. Duncan just turned 26 this past December and will be at AAA again this year hitting in the .250s with no power at all. You could make the argument that he is insurance for centerfield, but I think Wayne Lydon can be considered that as well. No need for both of them and at this point Lydon looks like a better prospect. It is hard to see Duncan developing into major league player at this point and Lydon still may turn out to be a Juan Pierre type guy who hits a lot of singles and steals a ton of bases. If the Mets had a 40 man spot open for Duncan, then I would be all for it. However, they could have lost McGinley, who I consider more important at this point while protecting Duncan. If the Mets left him exposed to the Rule 5 draft and someone thought Duncan was worth the shot to put on their ML roster for the entire season, go for it. He is one guy that needs to be removed off the 40 man roster and he probably will be removed once spring training ends and the Mets have to finalize their 40 man roster.

I do realize that in the real world there will be players usurping roster spots that are not optimal simply because of the lack of options. However, trimming the fat is place to start to getting this organization moving in the right direction with all the pieces involved being able to contribute capably to the success of this team. It is hard to build a winner without depth in all areas of the team. There are plenty of options out there for a team that could afford them and going on the cheap with band aid solutions should be put out to pasture. It's not that it is about wasting money either, but making good personnel decisions and bringing McEwing back was not one for example. Sometimes it is hard to let certain guys go and a guy like McEwing who plays hard and does everything you ask of them are tough to all out cut. It seems unfair and disrespectful to them, but these types of things have to be done. Omar trimmed some fat by not asking John Franco back and I'm sure that was more of a tough decision for other people in the front office than Omar since he is not Minaya's guy. If the Mets want to be serious about this season and contending, they need to get the bench up to snuff and not waste roster spots. They have to add more quality and it starts by making room for some acquisitions and players who can help.

By the way didn't Franco say he had plenty of teams interested in his services?

* * *

  • Ricardo Zuniga did not get the memo about Piazza and first base.

    Baltimore signed Rafael Palmeiro to a $3 million, one-year contract extension, and the Mets play Mike Piazza at first base, although he is mentioned in trade rumors.

  • According to the Houston Chronicle, this Beltran deal is going to come down to the wire.

    "That report that he's signed with the Mets is bull," a person close to the negotiations told the Chronicle.

    Despite all that, the word around Mets.com is that the Mets seem to be leading the Beltran sweepstakes.

    One prominent Major League executive, who asked not to be named, did say on Wednesday that he believed Beltran would be signing with the Mets, another indication that word of Boras' intentions is getting around.

  • Steve Phillips speaks out:

    "You can certainly see multiple reasons why they need to be aggressive," said Steve Phillips yesterday, "even if it goes against some of the practices of the organization. It's an awful lot of money you're paying -- or I should say overpaying -- but in New York you go for it. I give them credit."

    Should Steve Phillips ever talk about anyone overpaying? At least this time the Mets will be over paying for a guy on the right side of 35, which is very unlike most of Phillips acquisitions.

    "If they get him he's going to make them a better team," Phillips said. "But I don't see him with the personality to be a marquee guy ... With the Mets, he's expected to get them out of the gate right from the start. If he doesn't, he could disappoint people and if the boos start, it could be tough on him."

    Wright has the personality to be that clubhouse leader if Beltran does not. The boos will not be coming if wins show up on a consistent basis. If they lose, everyone is getting booed. Beltran is no Vlad or A-Rod, but Beltran is still a special player.

  • Some useful tax information in regards to the Beltran deal though I do not think it will play a major part in the negotiations.

  • Miguel Cairo for backup infielder? According to the Daily News, the Mets are interested and it is not a bad idea either. He performed well for the Yankees on '04 and would be a solid reserve and good insurance since he's proved he could handle a starting job already.

  • An anonymous source throws Beltran under the bus painting him as a selfish, short tempered, and thin skinned player.

    "He has always played for himself," the scout said. "He is not a leader. Teammates respect him for his ability, but he is not a guy they rally around. I'd be worried that his personality is going to become an issue in New York. He's not going to like it when the press asks him why he's not hitting. He's going to bite back."

  • According to John Heyman of Newsday:

    The Yankees "definitely are players for Beltran," according to a source familiar with their thinking.

    A source familiar with their thinking? What in hell does that mean? Someone who is familiar with spending tons of money? That does not sound very reliable. It is not even the infamous unnamed club executive, but it is a person familiar with their thinking. I think all of us are familiar with their thinking and that is spend, spend, and if that does not work, spend some more. So yeah, they could be in it.

  • The New York Times gives a quick look out everyone's favorite team's finances.

    Surely, the Yankees must be rolling in cash thanks to the 3.77 million fans who went to Yankee Stadium last season, the $64 million in rights fees from the YES Network and sponsors like Adidas.

    But a closer look at the private finances of baseball's most successful, envied and valuable team reveals that it may not be making money.

    I've read the Forbes articles and I've had this argument with a Yankee fan at my work. I've told him that the Yankees lose money every year and he tells me they make like $80 million in profit. While I cited my source as Forbes he said he had one too, which I assume is his head since he could not remember. Amazing how some people refuse to believe the reality of things. Yes, they make the most money out of any MLB team, but they still have finite amount of revenue that is rather maxed out at this point.

  • Stephen Drew could be headed to the draft again and would most likely be available by the time the Mets 9th slot comes around. I know he will be expensive, but he would sure look nice at 2nd base once Kaz's contract expires. Also, without another year of school as leverage, the ball would be in the Mets' court in terms of negotiations.

  • Ask BA speaks some truth:

    On paper right now, they have as good a chance as any team of winning the 2005 World Series. But they're not a lock by any means, and for a $200 million-plus payroll, they still have a roster with a shocking lack of depth if a serious injury strikes any position.


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