High Risk....High Reward
"When you get involved with this, you know it's a long process," said GM J.P. Ricciardi. "It's no slam dunk. ... We want a resolution just so we can move forward. But we've gone this far. Another few days won't hurt."
On AJ Burnett
Every time I say something like that, it bites me in the ass. The Cardinals raised their offer to $48 million over five years making their offer only $7 million short of the Blue Jays five year offer. It looks like JP is going to get his man and even though the Mets have fared well against him, I am happy his nastiness will not be on the Cardinals forming a pretty disgusting one/two punch. Of course, I was hoping Omar would have jumped in the fray, but the way his yearly salary was escalating, it was doubtful they would ever, every take on a $12 million per year pitcher at this point for that many years. Especially when Mr. Peter Abraham gives us an inside look at the Winter Meetings in his Reporter's Notebook and thinks the Mets are working on a swap that will net them a pitcher and not a hitter. That guy in all likelihood would be Javier Vazquez if it goes down.
Also from his Notebook:
Herb writes: Has Minaya given any indication about signing Mike Pelfrey?
Answer: Pelfrey, the first-round pick last fall, will follow the same path Philip Humber did last year. That means signing in January in time to get to camp in February. What else is he going to do at this point?
No point really, Met fan are just getting antsy to have a true pitching prospect whose arm is not in a cast.
Mike writes: Is there any way the Mets make Alfonso Soriano a Met by the end of the week? I have heard that he will be traded before Dec. 20.
Answer: It's doubtful. The Mets have never been as high on Soriano as some in the New York media are. He's a poor defender and his offensive trends are pointing downward. He and Carlos Delgado on the right site of the infield would be a disaster.
But enough of those hot stove rumors. I just wanted to touch upon the hot point of the week and that is trading Gaby for Paul. I'm going to state some painfully obvious things, so just skip if you would rather not be patronized. Here goes...this trade highlights something for me that is the single biggest problem of not having a strong farm system. You trade talent for talent, right? Well, what happens when you need role type players and only have blue chips left? There are GMs who simply will not do a deal out of desperation if they feel they are getting ripped off and will only make a deal if it makes sense. There is the Mets big problem. If the Mets want to get these middle of the road trades done, they have nothing to get them done with. People can point to David Wright, Jae Seo, Jose Reyes, and Aaron Heilman and tell me that the Mets system produces some good players for a bad system. However, the shallowness of their system is exacerbated when you need to get these deals done for a Paul LoDuca, a middle reliever, etc. they simply do not have the second tier prospects to get it done and have to pony up blue chip talent for players that are not worth it. They simply have too many high risk, high reward guys and teams are looking for a bit of certainty in return. As talented as Carlos Gomez may be, he would not bring back anything decent in a trade.
You need to have talent at every level. If a guy is in A ball, but is a great prospect like Phil Hughes or Gaby Hernandez, they simply do not carry as much clout as a Yusmeiro Petit pitching at AAA. Then you have a blue chip prospect that is not quite valued as high as they should be and the dearth of second tier talent leaves a team no other recourse than to trade players they otherwise should be holding onto for the fact that there is nothing else to trade. When the Dodgers need to go out and get players like Milton Bradley, who I consider to be a better player than LoDuca all around, they have the resources to give a solid prospect like Franklin Gutierrez and not even feel a dent to their system. They have players of all skill levels at all levels through their system and have the juice to get any deal done while still hanging onto their top, top players. Year in and year out they can make moves while still holding onto Joel Guzman, Chad Billingsly, Andy LaRoche, Greg Martin, etc. They can deal a guy like Victor Diaz who won batting titles and forget he was in the system two days later.
Years of losing draft picks to free agent signings has done damage. Not in terms of top tier talent, but second tier talent. The Mets have done well with their first rounders and managed to get some talented players, but where the damage is done is the second and third round picks that carry enough clout to get the deals done that need to be done to round out the team. We are not talking about netting the Carlos Delgados or the Manny Ramirezs of the world, but the Paul LoDucas, the Steve Reeds, or the Victor Zambranos. These are things that cannot be fixed overnight. Next season, the Mets will probably not even have the luxury of picking up an impact talent unless they pull of a pick like when they got Gaby in the third round. This was a pervasive problem before the Mets dumped Kazmir, Huber, and Peterson last year, but now the problem is gaping. This is something that takes five or six years to rectify. Big market or not, you cannot sustain yourself without a farm system and I think the Yankees are proving that right now. This is why I was steadfast on looking towards free agency to fill holes and trying to keep what you have unless there is no other recourse.
New York Mets
Additions: 1B Carlos Delgado (acquired from Marlins), C Paul Lo Duca (acquired from Marlins), INF/OF Xavier Nady (acquired from Padres), RP Billy Wagner (four years, $43MM)
Subtractions: INF Marlon Anderson (Nationals � two years, $1.85MM), CF Mike Cameron (traded to Padres), 1B/C Mike Jacobs (traded to Marlins)
Needs: Middle infield depth, left-handed setup man
The lowdown: The Mets have been the winter's most active team, and they may not be done. They're still mentioned in connection with Manny Ramirez, and a trade for Javier Vazquez or Barry Zito may also be on the radar.
Off-season grade so far: B. The Delgado addition was excellent, and Wagner, while they overpaid for him, will help in the near term. The Cameron trade, however, was damaging. Lo Duca is fairly overrated, and signing Ramon Hernandez would have been a much better choice.
One scenario discussed by the teams would see Mench and first base prospect Adrian Gonzalez go to Toronto in exchange for Miguel Batista, Orlando Hudson and Brandon League, a reliever coveted by Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor dating back to his time working with the Jays a few years ago.
Ricciardi spent time yesterday revisiting with the Philadelphia Phillies a potential blockbuster swap of Vernon Wells for right fielder Bobby Abreu. The Jays have also looked at a deal with the Rangers for left fielder Kevin Mench.
There were rumors yesterday that the Nationals and Jays had discussed a Batista deal that would send outfielder Brad Wilkerson — who can also play first base — to Toronto. Nationals general manager Jim Bowden later denied to reporters that he is trying to trade Wilkerson.
The AL East is shaping up to be a pretty good race to watch this upcoming season.
Though that Boston Herald article mentions six suitors, this NY Daily News article said there is really only one outside of the Mets and those are the Angels, who the article says really are not that interested. It also mentions that the Mets are happy with their team and if the Red Sox want to unload Manny, they have to pick up salary and not take Heilman or Milledge. If Omar could actually pull that one off, it would be impressive. Most impressive.
The Texas Rangers have been trying to engage the Mets in talks for second baseman Alfonso Soriano, with the hope of getting Benson or Steve Trachsel in return. But so far, the Mets seem focused on Ramirez as their next big bat and Mark Grudzielanek as their second baseman.
However, from the same article...
While the cost-cutting Marlins still are refusing to lower their asking price of Robinson Cano for Juan Pierre, they have begun to tell teams that every player on their roster - including Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera - is available for the right price.
Now that's what you trade blue chip talent for. Miguel fucking Cabrera. Take Milledge, Gaby, Jacobs, and Petit for that guy with a sprinkling of Matt Lindstrom. Talent for talent. Not talent for BloDuca.
PIAZZA HISTORY: Minaya confirmed that Mike Piazza's tenure with the Mets officially will end tomorrow when the club declines arbitration to the future Hall of Famer, forfeiting negotiating rights. The GM was coy speaking about Braden Looper, but strongly hinted the Mets will cut ties with the former closer tomorrow as well.
WORLD CLASS: Mets committed to playing in the World Baseball Classic are: Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico), Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico), Pedro Martinez (Dominican Republic), Billy Wagner (United States), David Wright (United States), and Victor Zambrano (Venezuela).