Take It to the Bank....
Mike Piazza will start the year off on a tear. If the past two years are an indication of anything, he'll have a hot start. Pre-All Star Break 2003 and 2004 he has shown flashes of being the Piazza of old, then comes injury and no production whatsoever. After he has gotten hurt and comes back, he has been horrible. He looks more like Joe McEwing than anyone else and whether it is a by product of coming back off of injury and being rusty or his body breaking down at the end of the season is beyond me.
In March, April, May, & June of 2003 and 2004, Mike is hitting .318/.406/.565 with 23 homers and 53 RBIs in 384 at-bats. In July, August, September, and October of 2003 and 2004, he's hitting .216/.325/.321 with 8 homers and 35 RBIs in 305 at-bats. Yes, a .646 OPS after July in 2003 and 2004 as compared to a .971 OPS through July in 2003 and 2004.
If Piazza's new wife was aware of those ugly splits in the second half, she may have thought twice about getting hitched with him. The power outage is bad, very bad. His .200/.305/.310 in 2004 after the All-Star break with four homers in 145 at-bats could be the worst 145 at-bat stretch of his career. The question is, what can reasonably be expected from Piazza?
In 2002, his output pretty much maintained the same production throughout the year and was his last healthy season. He knocked 33 homers, just missed 100 RBIs and provided a .280 AVG in less than 500 at-bats. He played 135 games that season and it is not unreasonable to think Mike can give 125-135 games this season. Barring a major injury, and his 2003 injury was certainly a freak injury, he should be able to contribute that many games, but the 33 homers seems like a long shot. However, he will not need 33 homers to be effective in the four spot for the Mets this season. He just needs to be productive.
He'll get plenty of days off and he certainly looks to be in shape from the pictures circulating around so who knows? If Piazza can still give a .275/.335/.540 line with 25 homers, that would be welcome. I'd bet he outperforms that in the first half substantially which may be all the Mets need. If Piazza has people on base and forces pitchers to go after him, it could certainly jumpstart his season and with the three switch hitting speedsters on in front of him, it certainly looks like he will have plenty of opportunities.
The number four slot has been somewhat of a hot button issue this off-season, but it may have been overblown. Who knows? If Piazza can give 130 games and maintain the same type of output he put forth in 2002 Post All-Star break everything may be great. Piazza was on a tear to start the 2004 season and smashed 16 homers in 310 at-bats and certainly still has the ability in him. It all boils down to him staying fresh and healthy.
If he can sustain a solid output and protect Beltran for the 1st half of the year and does not stay healthy through the entire season, that may just buy the Mets enough time to figure something out or have another player step up and be that guy needed to protect Beltran should Piazza disappear in the second half. Willie may feel comfortable enough with Wright after he tears things up for half a season to give him a shot to produce in a vital spot in the order. Maybe Diaz gets a few at bats if Cammy is not healthy and ends up getting some serious playing time and steps up and ends up being that guy in a long shot situation to help out. If Piazza can produce at least until the All-Star break and provide the protection the Mets need in the fourth spot, it should buy enough time for alternate options that may present themselves later on. Either way, Piazza should be the right buy to provide protection to start and season and very well could end being the guy providing protection from start to finish for 130 games. I think the fourth spot in the order is not in as bad a situation as previously thought.
His contract extension is expected to be worth between $11 million and $12 million annually, with an additional vesting option year tied to innings pitched.
The Braves and Hudson's agent have been negotiating the final details of the deal since Thursday. The pitcher wanted the fourth year guaranteed, instead of three years with two option years as the Braves had proposed.
Without Tim Hudson, next year's free agent pitching crop is officially horrible with no big prize out there.
His younger brother, Jose, also threw for the Orioles yesterday, and some observers said the 20-year-old was more impressive.
Still slightly more than $2 million apart in negotiations with first-round pick Jered Weaver, the Angels are giving indications they might soon shelve the talks. Team executives indicate they might let Weaver re-enter the draft on June 7.
#76 is Kendry Morals and I'm going to cry about spilt milk again. I still think the Mets should have taken a chance on this kid. With all the cash they were throwing around the ability to get a guy who can help them organizationally with the lack of depth in the OF and 1B, it seemed like a great fit. Oh well.