Clubs expected to be hot after Vazquez include the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander has two years remaining on his contract worth $11.5 million in 2006 and $12.5 million in '07.
I know Omar is leaving no stone unturned and exploring all options even though some do not seem likely, but giving up anything to for a guy who I consider Kris Benson with more strikeouts, more homers allowed, and better curveball at this point in his career makes no sense. Maybe a straight up swap I would consider since the money just about evens out and Javy could be better, but this is far from a need that they need to pursue. Kevin Millwood is basically the same thing too and will not cost prospects.
Javy is not the Javy that was on the Expos. He is far too inconsistent these days to take an unnecessary risk to deplete a farm system that really cannot handle a big loss on something that is not a necessity. Deplete it further for Adam Dunn or Manny Ramirez? I can swallow that. However, Javier Vazquez, like Barry Zito, represent risks that do not need to be taken. I hope Omar is just doing his due diligence and not really serious about pursuing him. Vazquez will not come cheap and the Mets are more advised to look at Washburn, Burnett, or Millwood if they want to truly shake up the rotation.
Background: Signed as a speedy but wiry 16-year-old, Gomez has grown into his body and some in the organization think his raw tools might be better than Milledge’s. Eight months younger than Milledge, Gomez isn’t nearly as polished.
Gomez excites scouts with his raw power, speed and arm strength. He can put on a show in batting practice, ranked second in the minors with 64 steals in 2005 and has the best outfield arm in the system. Though he always has been young for his league, he has had no trouble making consistent contact.
Still extremely raw, Gomez hasn’t shown much power in game situations because he doesn’t control the strike zone, tends to let his hands drift to the ball and often over strides. He’s also unrefined on the bases, getting caught stealing 24 times in 2005. He can be erratic as a center and right fielder as well.
Gomez flashed enough upside potential in low Class A that he should begin 2006 in the Florida State League, a notably pitcher-friendly environment. If everything comes together, he’ll be New York’s right fielder of the future.
Tools better than Milledge? New York's right fielder of the future? The problem with unpolished five tool guys is that they obviously need work. Jose Guillen was always a guy who scouts drooled over because of this talent, but he never became a good player until he was 27 after making a solid Major League debut at the age of 21. His power developed faster than most and that contributed to him getting a shot early on, but he bounced around due to attitude and underperformance. The bottom line is Carlos Gomez may never get his stuff together, but the guy still managed to put up some solid numbers, though not much power, and walked 32 times, which is not great, but hot horrific for a kid his age. He will not be rushed and will be moving up one level at a time making him 23 when he gets to AAA if all goes according to plan. He can even spend an extra year there or anywhere else if he needs more seasoning, there is plenty of time for the Mets to see what he can do and who knows, he could get his stuff together and have a breakout year and push himself into an elite prospect standing.
The other thing that stuck out from the top ten, and this echoed what the Mets said early in the year, was that Fernando Martinez may start at full season Hagerstown to start his career at the ripe age of 17.
Background: In their first year under Omar Minaya, the majors’ lone Hispanic general manager, the Mets were extremely aggressive in mining Latin America. Their biggest splash was Martinez, who signed for $1.4 million. New York, which lacked second- and third-round picks in the draft, believes he matched up with any U.S. high school outfielder taken in the draft.
Martinez’ hitting approach is well beyond his years. He maintains his balance very well while keeping his hands back in his stance. His bat and power are both plus tools, and he’s a good athlete with solid speed and arm strength.
Though he’s very advanced for his age, Martinez still will need plenty of time to refine his game and is unproven against pro competition. Currently a center fielder, he projects as a right fielder and his bat will need to carry him if he’s to become a star at that position.
Because of his precocious hitting skills, the Mets believe Martinez may be able to handle a full-season league in 2006. If they send him to Hagerstown, he’ll almost certainly be the youngest player in the South Atlantic League at 17.
No two guys are more intriguing out of the Mets system with Alay Soler a close third and their 2006 seasons are highly anticipated and will go a long way to seeing who is the real deal or not.
"Think about it: The Cardinals' biggest position need is a corner outfielder, but the most attractive free agent, Brian Giles, turns 35 on Jan. 21. Rather than give Giles a deal for, say, three years and $30 million, the Cardinals could sign a cheaper alternative like Jacque Jones, take on Soriano for one year and devote a greater percentage of their resources to pitching."
Makes sense to me and if Giles is only costing three years $30 million, he should be a top priorty for Minaya. Old? yes. The guy is still in great shape and I have no problems thinking he can hit close 25 to 30 homers a year, hit .300, and get on base at a .410 clip for those three years.
In addition, Minaya said he was "planning to" make offers to three players on the first day teams could talk money with free agents: their top closer choice, Philadelphia's Billy Wagner; Baltimore closer B.J. Ryan and San Francisco lefty reliever Scott Eyre. Minaya also scheduled a visit with Ramon Hernandez, another free agent catcher who batted .290 with 12 homers and 58 RBI for the Padres this year.
Niiiiice. As long the Mets match Ryan's offer from the Yankees when it comes and offer him the closer's role while he is still in his prime, how in good conscience can he pass it up? The Mets are on the up and up and he could be a mega-star in New York no matter what team he plays for.
The Yankees are said to make $150 million a year from their YES network, and while the Mets can't expect that sort of return initially, the revenue their network brings in will help fund a payroll that will easily exceed $100 million.
Cha-ching. Omar, make it happen. Make it all happen.
The Mets have talked to the Red Sox about Ramirez and are waiting for them to decide if and how they want to proceed. Their talks with the Texas Rangers about Alfonso Soriano, on the other hand, have cooled.
"Jojima has studied English since elementary school," Nero said. "He's got good comprehension of English; he needs to improve his speaking. He's caught more than 20 foreign pitchers, so I don't think it's an issue."
Nero recalled how Piazza, in his early years with the Dodgers, caught a United Nations staff of pitchers although he didn't speak their languages and they didn't speak his. And, Nero added, mentioning a Yankees battery this year, "I don't think Jorge Posada brushed up on his Chinese when Chien-Ming Wang stepped on the mound."
Nero has his own way of dealing with the language issue. Melvin Romon is the director of Latin American operations for C.S.M.G., Nero's company, and Mac Hayashi is head of Japanese operations.
"We speak five languages," Nero said. "The problem is, my second language is profanity."
Nero seems to be the anti-David Sloane.
Centerfield is a great need this off-season. The Red Sox, Cubs, Tigers, Royals, Angels, Padres, Mariners and Yankees are all in the market for centerfielders. Cameron spent 2005 as the Mets' rightfielder, moving to make room for Carlos Beltran, but he never hid the fact that he thinks of himself as a centerfielder.
If the Mets get Manny, I'm not sure Floyd should not be used as a valuable chip as well. He is cheap and only has one year left and no one really knows how hill pan out in right, though he looked pretty solid in left this year and should be decent there. Of course then the Mets will lose some offense, but Victor Diaz should be an adequate enough bat since Manny's offense far outweighs Cliffy's and Lastings might be ready after the All-Star break anyway. Between the glut of starting pitching, Mike Cameron, and possibly Cliff Floyd, Omar has a lot of ability to get very creative.
Signing Molina away from the Angels would probably take a three-year deal worth $24 million. Hernandez and Jojima could come a bit cheaper.
Did I miss where Molina became the best catcher available? I think he is solid, but I'm not sure he is worth that cash or worth more than Hernandez of Jojima.
1. Dynamic duo. Ramirez and David Ortiz provide the best 1-2 punch in baseball. No matter whom Boston gets in a trade, there will be a drop off in offensive production.
2. Consistency. Manny's got it -- big time. You can pretty much mark him down for a .300 batting average, 40 home runs and 120 RBI every season. You'd have to go back to 1997 to find the last time he didn't have at least 33 home runs and 107 RBI.
3. World Series MVP. Remember that? It was just last season.
4. Manny being Manny. Ramirez does the "I want to be traded" thing every year. He missed 10 games last season -- mostly because of his antics -- and still batted .292 with 45 homers and 144 RBI.
5. Character. He's an adventure in the outfield who can spice up the occasional boring game
Since he is writing for a Florida publication, I think he left out the part about it being game, set, match if the Mets get Manny and a closer.
Comment: Clubs love his youth and strength. He is a horse. Some clubs value him higher than Billy Wagner because they can think long-term with him. Everyone who likes Wagner will also keep an eye on Ryan.
Comment: He still has the most dominating stuff among all the closers on the market. Expect a bidding war because teams that feel they are close to competing for a playoff spot will value his experience immensely.
Comment: He led the majors in walks (119) and was fourth overall in OBP (.423). His power numbers aren't what they once were. On the right team, he could log huge numbers; bat him second or third in front of a couple of big boppers and he may score 150 runs.
Prediction: Blue Jays.
Comment: He has the stuff of an ace, but the record of a No. 4 starter (49-50 in his career). He has a history of health problems and an erratic personality. In the right situation, he could blossom. If everything isn't just right, then he could be a bust.
Comment: His game has matured at just the right time ... when he reaches free agency. He cut down on his errors substantially in '05, and also developed the patience needed to be a premier leadoff man.
He is still an ass.