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

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Some Mail From the Nationals Mailbag

Let's take a look at the Washington Nationals mailbag.

What are the Nationals looking to do with Nick Johnson? Will he be the everyday first baseman? -- Jeff, Arlington, Va.

That's hard to say. It depends on the outfield situation. If the Nationals put Brad Wilkerson in left field, Endy Chavez in center and Jose Guillen in right, then Johnson will be the everyday first baseman. But keep in mind that manager Frank Robinson loves outfielder Terrmel Sledge. He often refers to Sledge as a "complete player." If Sledge plays left, then Wilkerson most likely will go to first base. Robinson also was concerned by Johnson's problems with the bat last year. Robinson was especially alarmed by Johnson's high strikeout total when he was healthy.

Nick also just avoided arbitration at this point by signing a one year $1.45 million deal. That does not mean he'll still be there on opening day, he could still be moved.

Guillen starting + Wilkerson starting + Endy Chavez making less money + Sledge making less money = Nick Johnson getting a one way ticket out of town.

Throw into the mix the fact that Bowden is still interested in bringing Sammy Sosa to the nations capital. If Delgado falls through it really looks like Nick Johnson would be there for the taking with the Nationals looks for some pitching in return should Minaya think he is a good fit.

* * *

  • Dayn Perry is my new favorite writer.

    The Mets are probably already the favorites in a down-cycled NL East. After 13 years, I'm loath to pick against the Braves in the division, but I just don't see how the current Atlanta roster wins the flag. The Phillies will be contenders, but the rotation and bottom half of the lineup concern me.

    Florida should potentially be taken seriously, but they need to add an impact left-handed bat in the worst way (more on that in a moment). In other words, this is eminently winnable division for the Mets, but they're missing a few pieces. Here's how they need to play it the rest of the winter.

    He suggestions on how the Mets should finish out the off season?

    Sign Delgado:

    You might glance at Delgado's numbers from a year ago and assume he's no longer a superstar-caliber player. You'd be wrong. A hip injury dampened his numbers in the first half, and after the break he hit a robust .305 AVG/.408 OBP/.625 — vintage Delgado. And that's exactly what the Mets need: another fulcrum in the lineup.

    Keep Cameron:

    Cameron isn't particularly happy about a move to right field, but I do believe he can be sold on the idea of playing for a team that, provided Delgado is added, can win the World Series. Minaya and manager Willie Randolph are widely regarded as "player" guys; put those skills to use in mollifying Cameron.

    (this guy is more optimistic than I am)

    Worry about the bullpen later:

    The middle-relief corps is a source of concern, but signing Delgado and resisting the urge to jettison Cameron are far more critical. The Mets have a pair of quality minor league lefty relievers in Blake McGinley and Royce Ring who are almost ready to pitch at the highest level.

    See if the progress Mike DeJean showed after being acquired is genuine. Determine whether Dae Sung Koo is capable of handling a high-leverage relief role stateside. If those things fail, then explore some trade options. However, focus on the real needs first.

    This guy must be a Mets fan. I've never seen such praise from a non-Met fan.

    As things stand now, the Mets are a team that will contend for the NL East title. Take the steps detailed above, and they'll be on the short-list of teams good enough to win the World Series. Which is it going to be, Mr. Minaya?

    Nice article. Nice job.

  • Reyes is still smoking hot in the Dominican League playoffs.

    Reyes is batting .414 with a home run, four runs batted in and three stolen bases in 29 at-bats since the playoffs began, an impressive postseason clip that is second only to Major League veteran Julio Franco's .471 average in the league.

    Manny Aybar is looking sharp too.

    Aybar is 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two games, including a six-inning, one-hit performance against Reyes' Gigantes earlier this month. Aybar has struck out 13 and walked only five over 11 2/3 innings.

    Yusmeiro Petit is did pretty well as well in his winter leaguge. He's gone 4-3, with a 2.15 ERA, 50 innings, 43 hits allowed, 8 walk, and 53 K's. For a 20 year old it is very impressive when you put it up against Major Leaguer Tony Armas Jr's stats. Armas went 1.29 in five regular season starts with a 1.64 ERA in the playoffs. This kid is good.

  • There is some smoke starting to surround this Cameron to the A's for Eric Byrnes deal that has been rumored.

    Cameron is still owed $12.5 million on his contract ($6 million apiece in 2005 and 2006 and a $500,000 buyout in 2007), although $2 million of that is deferred. While Oakland's payroll could absorb Cameron's 2006 dollars, the Mets might have to make a 2005 salary wash between Cameron and Byrnes, the official said. Essentially, the deal could be Cameron and $4 million for Byrnes.

    Keep in mind that the A's have long been admirers of Cameron. Last off season, the A's actually offered the then-free agent a four-year contract in the vicinity of $24 million, a higher bid than the Mets' winning one. Oakland GM Billy Beane also told The Post last February that in his club's estimation, Cameron was "the best defensive player in baseball."

    It's unclear whether a deal with Oakland would involve other players besides Cameron and Byrnes, but other A's who have tradable contracts include first baseman Scott Hattenberg and reliever Chad Bradford. The Mets have needs at both of those positions, making it feasible that either player also could be included.

    Byrnes is expected to stay out of arbitration by signing a one year, $2 million deal.

  • The Marlins and the Rangers continue to heavily pursue Carlos Delgado. Mike Beradino has some suggestions for the Marlins to lure Delgado in.

    If they really get desperate, the Marlins could make a few additional concessions:

    While a new stadium isn't scheduled to open until 2008 at the earliest, they could promise to call it "The House That Delgado Built" even though he might never get to play there.

    God Bless America would no longer be played at Pro Player, er, Dolphins, er, Carlos Stadium for the seventh-inning stretch. Delgado caused a stir last season when he regularly refused to stand for the song as a protest against the war in Iraq.

    New stretch-time selection: This Land Is Your Land.

    Even though they refused to grant no-trade protection to such stalwarts as Mike Lowell, Jeff Conine and Luis Castillo, and have a stated club policy against such clauses, the Marlins could make an exception for Delgado, who figures to insist on such treatment.

    They could also bring in the distant outfield fence in right-center. Over the last three seasons, left-handed hitters have accounted for a majors-worst 96 homers at the erstwhile Pro.

    Greg Cote even has his sales pitch and went as far to start his own rumor.

    Oppositely, Mets owner Fred Wilpon has yet to meet with you, right? There is a rumor Wilpon is upset over that whole God Bless America thing and also thinks you are overrated and over the hill.

    I started that rumor.

    Just trying to do my part.

  • I was listening to the Opie and Anthony show yesterday and they had this guy on talking sports. I have no idea who he was but he said he had a friend who works for the company that makes the hats for the major league baseball players. He said Bruce Bochy, who is notoriously known for his large cranium, was the only guy with a with a hat size of eight or more. Today he said there was close to fifty. Can you say human growth hormone?

  • Damon Stoudamire accomplished an amazing feat in basketball last night. He scored the most points in NBA history without a rebound. He scored 54 points, which was more than half his teams points, during the game that I can only assume his ass was cherry picking and not crashing the baskets for rebounds on defense.

    Oh, in case you still think it think it is some crule trick, the Mets really did sign Carlos Beltran.

  • Friday, January 14, 2005

    100 Million Dollar Men

    After the 2000 season not only did Met fans have to endure losing to smug Yankee fans in the Subway series, but it was the last year Major League Baseball had seen a year in which no team had a payroll over $100 million. That year the Yankees had only three players making $10 million or over. Their highest paid player was Bernie Williams and he was not even making $13 million. The Yankees will never sniff $100 million dollars again and have already broke the $200 million barrier this year. Since 2001, the $100 million barrier has been broken fifteen times. Four of those times fifteen times the barrier was broken by the Yankees. In those four times, the Yankees broke the $100 million barrier by a total of $175.16 million. All of the other teams that broke the $100 million barrier went over it by a combined $96.31 million in an eleven combined seasons.

    Out of the fifteen combined times that a team broke that barrier, only one team has won the World Series with a payroll past $100 million and that was the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Seven teams managed to miss the playoffs all together and only two made it to the World Series. 2005 will be only the second season Wilpon and the Mets have pushed past the $100 million barrier.

    2004$127,298,500Red Sox2ndWS
    2002$108,366,060Red Sox2nd
    2001$109,675,833Red Sox2nd

    In a not so far away time I call the 90's, things were different. In the 90's the Toronto Blue Jays topped the majors in payroll twice while the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals both led the league in payroll one time each. The last year anyone not named the Yankees topped the majors in payroll was in 1998 when the Baltimore Orioles held the top spot and that is the last time any team not nomed the Yankees will of held the top spot in my lifetime. All in all, the Yankees have lead the league in payroll nine times in the last eleven years. The 90's also passed without the team that lead the league in payroll being more than $9 million more than the second place team at any point. In 2005 it is quite possible the Yankees payroll will be $80 million more than the second place team.

    In 2005 the Mets are looking like they will have the third highest non-Yankee payroll in the history or organized sports. They also stand to be one of the three teams in MLB that are going to be beyond the $100 million dollar threshold. Whether or not Omar or the Wilpons are going to make their expectations known, they fully well anticipate that this team is going to makes some noise in the playoff push and they are going to look to hedge as best as they can even if that means spending more money. Omar has gone to far to turn back now and has already put too much on the line, but it remains to be seen if they Mets will be yet another $100 million team that misses the playoffs or if they will be the next team that bought their way into the playoffs. I'll be cutting the heads off of chickens daily in hopes it is the latter.

    * * *

  • Bob Klapisch reports that the Mets may be interested in acquiring Eric Byrnes to place right field if they can find a taker for Mike Cameron.

    The A's sent out a feeler regarding Byrnes several weeks ago, but the Mets' sudden shift comes as they're mulling deals for Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron. Oakland GM Billy Beane may be willing to take on Cameron, considering he tried to sign him as a free agent after the 2003 season.

  • BA thinks that Yusmeiro Petit has a ceiling of a number three starter.

    Scouts still aren't sure how Petit has dominated lower-level hitters as much as he has. His fastball has good velocity (89-93 mph) and movement but is a 55-60 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. His slider and changeup are solid-average and could become plus pitches. While Hernandez projects as a No. 1 starter, Petit realistically has a ceiling of a No. 3.

    This year will be a big test for Petit, who figures to open in Double-A after making two starts there at the end of 2004. If he enjoys similar success in Double-A, it'll be that much easier to believe he's for real and probably will serve as a springboard for his major league debut by the end of the year.

  • Couldn't someone tap the kid on the shoulder and just tell him it may not be such a good idea to leave the house dressed like a Nazi? Just a little reminder that it may not be the best costume choice he's ever had for Halloween.

    Is the NFL really serious about fining Moss?

  • Thursday, January 13, 2005

    I love it when a plan comes together

    After all the moves that Omar has made this off season, the A-Team's Hannibal Smith, who was played by George Peppard, comes to mind. I barely remember the show since I was pretty young at the time but the only thing a do remember is that Hannibal would say, "I love it when a plan comes together" in every episode.

    Hey Buster Olney. I guess pigs really do fly and hell is pretty good for some ice skating.

    Damien from Jediakaos.net had posted an excerpt from Baseball Prospectus.

    In all of this movement, someone must have done well, right? Well, the Mets have now signed the best pitcher, Pedro Martinez, and the best player, Beltran, on the market. Seven years and $119 million for Beltran is in line with reasonable expectations, given the change in the market from last year and Beltran’s edges over Vladimir Guerrero in defense, speed, and assumed health. I actually expected Beltran to come in at 8/$126MM, but that was assuming he’d play on a different subway line.

    The Mets have had the best off season of any team, not just this year, but in recent memory. By ignoring the middle class and focusing on getting the best players they could, they’ve improved by 10 to 15 wins, vaulting to the top of the NL East mix.

    If New York is a Mets town again in 2007, it will be the decisions made this winter by the two teams that made it that way. The Yankees’ mistakes directly benefited the Mets, and that they took advantage is a credit to Fred Wilpon and Omar Minaya. For the first time in a long time, the best front office in New York may be located in Queens.

    About a week after taking their shots at the Mets, they come back with a decidedly different tone. Going as far to say as this off season is the best out of any team in recent memory. December 1st, no one outside of some optimistic Mets fans thought the Mets had a shot in making any noise this off season with big ticket free agents and during the regular season. In a month Omar has change peoples minds. Even if they are not calling the Mets favorites to take the division or make the playoffs, some baseball experts, talk shows, columnists, etc. are ate least saying there is a shot, which no one was willing to say before. All of this and Omar is not done yet.

    Minaya just gained a valuable trading chip in Mike Cameron should he try and use it to try and fill in some more holes that are out there and he went a long way to provide some solid insurance up the middle with Miguel Cairo who just batted over .300 for the first place Yankees in a starting job. Omar has been, and still is recruiting plenty of arms to try out for the bullpen. He has operated this off season like a genius game of chess up to this point. He has made one move with his eye on three moves ahead. Everything is having a domino effect and on top of all that he has done this off season, he seems like he gets it.

    We’ve been active in the free agent market – but, I want to get this organization to a point that we don’t have to be as active in the free agent market. Right now, the only way we can improve the team is being active in the free agent market. Now, you guys know I have a passion for scouting and development. My goal is to have minor leaguers to come up…these kids playing in Brooklyn…to be ready to play in New York. I don’t want to be in the market every year…the less you’re in the market, the better the organization is and I think the identity we’re going to have is these home-grown kids. We’re not there yet, it’s gonna take a couple of years, but we’re gonna work hard at it.

    With this spending spree that he has been on and is continuing to be on, one thought kept going through my head. I loved what was going on in terms of getting the best talent out there, but I felt the Mets were doing just what everyone hates the Yankees for. I personally would not like to have Mets continually get the best free agent every season and dwarf every other major league team's payroll. With the new cable network coming up, I was worried the Mets might try and do business more like the Yankees and forgo maintaining a solid minor league system and having players come up through the system. However, during all of the hoopla over the past few weeks he still managed to bring in the Mets first round pick and give the Mets some legitimate arms in the minors and one of the best stocked system in terms of impact starting pitching. To see him take time out of this media storm to specifically note the importance of growth from within was tremendous for me in terms of building a franchise from the bottom up.

    By gorging himself this off season, he is buying his way back to legitimacy this year and setting up a sustained winner for years to come if things break in the Mets favor for a change. Of course Omar is taking a huge risk and he could either be crucified by Met fans at the end of the season, or coronated as the new mayor of NYC (hey maybe the Mets could get a new stadium if this happened). The days of the Mets trying to fit a square peg in a round hole would seem to be over and if Omar plays it right, there could be no dabbling into free agency next season. Omar knows that next off season his team could be set with one more big move with the exception of some bullpen and bench moves.

    "We have a plan here and the truth is it's not about a one-year plan here. What [Beltran] definitely does, we can see a clear vision of this long term plan - you have Carlos, [Jose] Reyes, David Wright, Kaz Matsui. We go into next year and we might get some financial flexibility in the future. But we looked at potential free agents for next year and we said we might not get the opportunity to get these kind of guys in future years."

    He knows the best opportunity to put the finishing touches on this team is this off season. He knows the lack of talent in the '06 off season and he knows he has talent on the horizon in the minors. Whatever holes in the starting rotation or the field there may be after 2005, they should be able to be filled within. They may be surrendering a 2nd and 3rd round pick this upcoming draft, but they should be able to keep every pick in 2006 draft and possibly the 2007 draft at this rate. Despite the fact the Mets may spend more than the GDP of small countries this off season, they can keep things reasonable.

    I'm not sure anyone would say the Mets are lock to win anything this season outside a few crazed fans, but no one can deny the Mets have now firmly inserted themselves into the hunt for a National League playoff spot right now. They have already inserted themselves into the mix with more moves to come. Every team in the NL has taken a step backwards or remained about the same with the exception of two or three teams in my opinion. Granted the Mets had a lot of ground to close to catch up to the top tier NL teams, but they have made up a lot of it.

    It is really interesting to look back and see how Omar mapped out his off season and it really goes back to taking the offer for Al Leiter off the table. That never happens and we have no idea where we would be right now. Maybe we have Beltran. Maybe the no trade clause with Houston is not the deal breaker if the Mets team did not upgrade themselves by bringing in Pedro and the excitement that surrounded his signing. I just picture Omar sitting back in his office, smoking a cigar and saying:

    I love it when a plan comes together.

    * * *

  • On MLB.com Radio, Ted Robinson said he smells money in this Mike Cameron situation. He noted that Cameron took less money to play for the Mets than Oakland was offering and may be looking at all the money being thrown around thinking he deserves some compensation.

    I do not think this is about $2 million or a $3 million to Mike Cameron and I do not know what to make of any of this yet. Maybe someone asked Cameron's agent where he'd prefer to play and I think we all know what his obvious answer would be. From what anyone has ever heard of Mike Cameron is that he is a stand up guy and as good as they come. We saw that first hand last year and I see no reason to throw him under the bus just yet. Omar has already come to his defense and I’m sure some more PR will be out backing up Cameron’s desire to stay on the team.

  • If you have not given Seth Everett and our very own ex-Met Darryl Hamilton a listen on MLB Radio, then given them a try. They start everyday at 3:00 PM and the show is pretty good. Satisfies my baseball needs without having to listen to biased radio personalities that we are subjected to on the WFAN and 1050 ESPN.

    Though I do like the Dan Patrick show on ESPNRadio.com, but I need all baseball, all the time.

  • I'm going to keep a link of the Mets payroll through 2011 on the sidebar until Dugout Dollars updates their site. I also took some liberties with Wright and Reyes in their arbitration years and I think I was pretty generous on the dollar amounts. It's not perfect, but it is close enough to get the idea across.

  • The Marlins and the Mets may end up in an all out dogfight for Delgado. The Marlins are so serious that Jeffery Loria is cutting a trip to France short to meet with Delgado. However, Loria is not taking a page out of the Mets playbook and meeting him on his home turf. By the Mets and Marlins being heavily interested, it certainly adds an interesting dimension to the chase for Delgado. If either the Mets or the Marlins land Delgado, they would most likely be looked at as the favorite in the division. Both already have solid staffs and suspects pens with some nice position players. Delgado will tip the scales in the NL East if he lands on either team.

    "I go to the United States to play ball," Delgado said. "I don't go there thinking that it's a question of being more relaxed in a certain place. It's not a question of where I would be more 'chilling.' It's all about a team that's a contender; that is the major obligation. That is what will influence."

    Hmmm..Both are could conceivably called contenders so it will come down to who wants to spend more.

  • Humber certainly had a big couple of days. He flew to NY, became a multi-millionaire, was there for the hoopla of the Carlos Beltran signing, and flew down to St. Lucie on Wilpon's private jet. Just like every other normal 21 year old does.

    Some Phil Humber Stats from his time at Rice:


  • Thanks to Sam from Revenge of the Mets for giving me some help on how to do tables. I'm going to be abusing them so get used to seeing them.

  • How many of these bats you think will be up on Ebay by the weekend?

  • UPDATE: Not that long. Not that long at all.

  • So far he's saying the right things.

    "My role right now is to do things right," Beltran said. "Let young guys follow me. I have to do things right. Wright has the potential to be one of the best third basemen in the game and Jose Reyes has the potential to be one of the best in the game. The organization has a lot of potential where we could be a good team in a short period of time."

    "I expect a lot from myself," he said. "I just want to go out and do my best. That's the type of player I am. I work hard and make teams happy. I want to walk around and meet some of the players, come here to see the facilities because I'm going to be here a long time.

    "I feel happy and secure. I now have an opportunity to help my family and a lot of people. But I'm not going to change at all. I'm going to work hard and be an example for the young guys. If you think like that, money doesn't change people. You change."

  • Baseball America has updated the compensation picks for this year's crop of free agents.

    The Mets are due to lose their 38th and 60th picks by bringing in Beltran and Martinez respectively. A very acceptable casualty.

  • JD Drew has an opt-out clause in his new contract that allows him to forgo the final three years of his contract. I'm guessing he thinks he is worth more than $11 million per year and this is his way to cash in on it when he turns 30 if he has two more healthy and productive years.

    I will say this about the Dodgers, LA went from looking like they were in trouble to bringing in Drew, Perez, and Lowe in short period of time. They now have a solid staff and good enough offense to win some games and keep in the race for the NL West title.

  • I am praying the Nationals can somehow get Sosa.
  • Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Trade Scenario

    The East Valley Tribune reported that the Athletics are interested in Mike Cameron and may be willing to part with Eric Byrnes. Add to that mix that Mike Cameron may not want to move to right field after all. So, with all the events that had transpired in the past few days, one would assume that Omar is at least willing to listen to offers for Cameron. I do believe he is great person to have a on the team and he is more marketable and valuable than Cliff Floyd. I also think Omar at least owes him the respect to find out if he wants to have a shot at playing center elsewhere if the move makes sense for the Mets. Also, if the Mets somehow landed Delgado, then Cameron may be slated to bat 8th. With his high strikeout total, it just may be a wrong fit altogether and may devalue his offensive contribution and push his strikeouts higher. The Mets can keep their outfield as is and I will not complain, but I propose this trade. I read this elsewhere yesterday as well, but I already had the post coming. So for a lack of having another post ready, here it goes.

    Mike Cameron and Aaron Heilman for Eric Byrnes and Octavio Dotel.

    I threw in Heilman as a guy who they can potentially use should one of their new young guns need some more time in the minors and because I would rather not see his face again. The reality of it is that the A's plan to start three rookies. Chances are that one or more is going to falter will need more time at AAA. Personally, I like Cameron a lot. I believe that he is great guy in the clubhouse who can help in many ways and is an asset to any team. However, you are not losing that much in terms of offense and Byrnes can still steal a base or two while giving you good defense as well. In the mix you will also add Octavio Dotel who would be a devastating set up man for Braden Looper and give you a great alternative option should Looper go down with an injury or falter. Dotel is the main piece in the deal, but the Mets also lose Cameron's $14 million over the next two seasons which is a good thing. They Mets pick up a guy who will make $4 million to $5 million this year in Dotel and Eric Byrnes who costs less than a million dollars while opening a spot for Victor Diaz in 2006 for full time service.

    Why would Beane want him when they have Kotsay? Easy. With three rookies starting he wants the best defense possible. He pushed hard for him before the 2004 season and valued him as a run saver. He would love to have him back in the mix.

    It is a tough call, but it is one that I would have to pull the trigger on to bring in one of the best set up men around while not taking a huge step down from Cameron in terms of offense. You cannot compare their defense, but Byrnes is no slouch and due to his small salary, he's easy to move at the end of the season and fits in much nicer into the 8th spot of the order better than Cameron if they get one more big bat. Also due to his small salary, if the Mets should choose to add some more firepower during the season in bringing up Victor Diaz, he'd be great off the bench and will not cost much sitting there.

    * * *

  • As was pointed out in the comments last night, Rotoworld.com has put up Beltran's contract information.

    Beltran's deal calls for an $11 million signing bonus -- $7 million this year and $2 million in each of the following two seasons. He gets a $10 million salary this year, $12 million in each of the following two seasons and $18.5 million in each of the final four years of the deal. A total of $20 million in the contract will be deferred. A full no-trade clause is included.

  • Phil Humber looks like a bargain at this point. He got his major league contract and the Mets did not have to spend too much in my opinion. He signed for $3 million bonus. Humber’s contract is a five-year major league deal with a $5.116 maximum value, with $4.2 million guaranteed. What you can say about a guy that has his own day name after him? There is a "Philip Humber Day" in Carthage, Texas. On top of having the "best curveball in the country" and his own day, he turned down a chance to sign with the Yankees in 2001 after they drafted him in the first round and he is now with good guys. The sweet irony.

    "I'm excited I'm officially a Met today," said Humber. "I can't wait to get to spring training and start playing baseball. I don't want to set any time tables, but it's my goal to be back at Shea soon and be part of a championship team."

  • Luckily Leiter and Franco or gone or else Lastings days might be numbered.

    "I can play any outfield position," Milledge said. "Of course, I have my preference. But center field is my bread and butter. I just want to be the best and do what I do. If I have to move to right field, it will take time, but I will be the best at that position, too."

    We cannot have cocky kids running around the Mets organization, there just is no room for that stuff.

    He won't be invited to big league camp next month and that's OK. But it's still nice to think about the possibilities.

    "Of course, I think I'm ready for it, it's just a matter of when they put me there," he said. "It's just a matter of what they want me to do. Within myself, I know what I'm ready for."

  • BP Baldwin is back in the bigs...well maybe.

    Baltimore signed right-hander James Baldwin, 33, to a minor-league contract. He was with the Mets last year. Baldwin pitched for the Mariners in 2002.

    That does not exactly help their pitching woes.
  • Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    The Mets Still Have Some Question Marks.....

    ....but so do the New York Yankees. I'm getting a bit sick of many people in the media writing about the Mets and constantly giving the back handed compliments. They say, "the Mets made some good moves, but they still have a lot of question marks." Yeah? Well so does everyone else and that includes the Yankees and their bloated payroll. They have some large ones for a team that is spending $200 million on their baseball team.

    Gary Sheffield's bursitis is painful. It is so painful Gary has tossed around the idea of retiring early because it is unbearable at times. His wife prays for his shoulder in church and he is truly a big concern for the Yankees. The player who finished #2 in the MVP voting is a big part of that lineup and is a big stick to try and replace should he go down or become ineffective.

    Jason Giambi's knee is going to be a huge problem. He is mainly going to be relegated to the DH role at this point since Bernie Williams looks like he is going to play centerfield. I do believe Giambi can still be a productive player, although not the .340, 40+ homer, and 130+ RBI guy. Will he be able to stay healthy for the entire season though?

    There are many doubts as to whether Bernie Williams can do an adequate enough job in centerfield. Gary is an average fielder in right and Hideki is a good fielder, but not a quick one. There will be balls a plenty falling into the gaps in the outfield and at 36 years old, he does not look like he is going to gain some spring in his step. I would also say his offensive decline is cause for some concern as well. Will the Yankees be looking to acquire Juan Pierre at the deadline if the Marlins are out of it?

    Randy Johnson's knee is another big concern as well as his fracas with the Channel 2 camera man. Will he have problems with the relentless NY Media? He's already shown a complete lack of restraint and it is only fair that this is brought up since there was an entire article fixated on Carlos Beltran's thin skin. As for his knee, that is the biggest concern. He has to inject fluid into his knee before every start and is 41 years old. There are no doubts about the effectiveness of his shoulder, but he certainly needs to knee if he plans to hurl a baseball towards home plate.

    All that money and no bench? Rubin Sierra is a good insurance policy for right field and Jason Giambi at DH, but outside of that, it gets really bad. Tino Martinez would have been coming off the bench if they picked up Beltran but will be in the starting lineup at this point. Honestly, for all the money they spent, could they not have spent a few million on their bench? They have a lot of aging players and will not have one starter under 30 years old and six over 33 years old. They have five starting position players over 34 years old. They have four starting position players over 35 years old. It would certainly behoove them to have a solid bench, but they do not and the Mets signed an very solid replacement in Miguel Cairo that they could have easily signed to strengthen their team.

    Tony Womack is coming off a career high in average, OBP, and SLG at 34 years old. He's not costing much so there is not big risk there, but there is no one to spell him should Steinbrenner not be excited with the production he is giving.

    Can Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright survive in the toughest division in baseball? I've brought up this point before, but they have only had three combined seasons with a 4.21 or below ERA out of fifteen years of major league service. Both are moving out of one of the weakest divisions in baseball where there are a lot of pitching friendly parks.

    I can see Pavano turning to Wright around mid July and saying; "Jaret, we're not in Kansas anymore".

    Javier Vazquez was head and shoulders better and more successful than either of these two pitchers were and had a tough time adjusting. To assume that these guys will be picking up right where they left off last season will be a huge mistake. Do not be surprised to see one of these guys being jettisoned like Javier Vazquez after they are deemed to be unfit for pinstripes.

    Kevin Brown in another question mark. What are the Yankees going to get out of him? He had a rude awakening coming into the AL East like the above two players and the real questions pertain to his back problems. Will he be able to stay healthy the entire season? The Yankees had one hell of time finding guys to make starts for their injured starters last season and do not have a luxury in El Duque and got rid of Brad Halsey. I hope Yankees fans like Tanyon Sturtze because they may be seeing a lot him and expect them to be looking for an arm at the trade deadline.

    Since I was already posting some Yankee bashing today, Scott's post from the comments section seemed to fit all to perfectly so it makes sense to add them into the mix.

    Lets talk today about "overpaying". Overpaying is spending money on a guy who weighs 40 less than he did at the end of the previous season, plays a hand full of games, gets implicated in pumping chemicals into himself and cant play decent ball. Overpaying is having two shortstops and having the better of the two play third base. Overpaying is having a 42 year old getting a 2 year contract extension between lube jobs on his knee. Overpaying is a $65m rotation that WILL NOT be healthy for the entire season. Overpaying is having ZERO prospects in your farm system. Overpaying is having your RF train with suspected steroid abusers and come to training camp looking like your $17m 1b did the previous year. Overpaying is a bullpen with one reliable arm and one sort-of-pretty-ok arm.

    Scott 01.10.05 - 8:10 pm #

    * * *

  • Joel Sherman has a good article in the today's Post.

    For now a limited Bernie Williams is the Yankee center fielder and Bubba Crosby the backup, which means my first prediction of the 2005 season is the Yanks will be looking for a center fielder at the July trading deadline, not only a starter to replace Brown.

    The Mets, set in center field now until 2011, would not have Beltran if the Yanks had been interested, the Astros had given him a no-trade clause or they had not offered the most money, just as they did with Martinez. But it is no sin to offer the most money. The Yanks do it all the time.

  • From NJ.com:

    Will he be angry today? Marcus, the public relations firm owner, doubts it. He said Steinbrenner is too good at the PR game in New York to get upstaged any more -- and that there was enough room on the back pages for both teams.

    "What the Mets have to do is sign (Carlos) Delgado -- and they have to do it just as the Yankees are starting (the Johnson press conference)," Marcus said. "All the beepers will be going off. It would only cost $60 million, but it would be worth it."


  • According to and article by Bob Klapsich, if the Mets signed Carlos Delgado, their payroll would balloon to about $140 million.

    If the Mets can lure the free agent first baseman to Shea, their payroll will bloat to nearly $140 million, putting them second in the big leagues only to, you guessed it, the Yankees.

    I'm not sure how this is, but here is where it stands right now according to my calculations:

    Cameron, Mike.......$6.00
    Carlos Beltran ........$17.00
    Floyd, Cliff ..............$6.50
    Matsui, Kazuo ........$7.00
    Reyes, Jose .............$0.50
    David Wright ..........$0.40
    Piazza, Mike ...........$15.00
    Eric Valent .............$0.35
    Andres Galaraga ...$1.00
    Miguel Cairo...........$0.90
    McEwing, Joe.........$0.50
    Phillips, Jason........$0.50
    Glavine, Tom.........$10.50
    Pedro Martinez.....$10.50
    Kris Benson...........$8.50
    Trachsel, Steve.....$5.00
    Victor Zambrano..$2.10
    Looper, Braden.....$3.50
    Koo Dae-Sung........$1.10
    Moreno, Orber......$0.30
    Mike DeJean..........$1.50
    Scott Strickland.....$1.00
    Felix Heredia.........$1.80
    total = $101.95

    The only two spots open are one bench/bullpen spot and first base. I've even included Koo Dae-Sung's incentives. I cannot see how they would be sniffing $140 million. I know there is medical and benefits that get added into the deal and minor leagues get added in too, but their major league payroll is completely manageable. I'd love to know if anyone can tell me what I'm missing here.

  • "Regarding the unfortunate incident that happened this morning as I was on my way to take a physical, I hope that everyone will understand that the past few days have been a bit overwhelming and I wish I had handled the situation differently," Johnson said. "I am very sorry it happened."

    He's not even a Yankee yet and cannot handle one camera man. The man is in for a rude awakening. Great stuff.

  • According to the Star Telegram:

    The Rangers are expecting Delgado to sign with the New York Mets for $12-$14 million per year. The Rangers have already shown a reluctance to go higher than $10 million per season.

  • Pitching, pitching, and more pitching.

    Three out of the Mets top four prospects are pitchers and very solid pitchers at that. The fact that they signed Humber early enough so he can report to spring training is awesome. No more lost time and the Mets now have the guy with the self proclaimed best curveball in the country. Despite losing Kazmir and Peterson, the Mets still have a very strong crop of pitching talents. Young pitching is good. Very, very good. Minaya signs Zambrano, Cairo, Koo Dae-Sung, Beltran, and Humber in the span of a few days. They guy deserves a hand. I'm not sure he's slept at all lately.
  • Monday, January 10, 2005

    Falling Into Place

    Now the attention turns to first base. I'm done saying the words can't and Omar in the same sentence. The big question is, will he go for Carlos Delgado? He has made his intentions known of adding one more big bat and at this point there is one open hole that needs to filled in the starting lineup. However, Carlos is interested in Texas and Texas is certainly interested in him.

    Playing in what might be baseball's toughest division, the Rangers need him. You'll find Rangers fans stacked at the wall, thousands deep, wailing about pitching. But if you were paying attention last September, when the club's surprising comeback try fell short, it was the offense that let the Rangers down, not Kenny Rogers and company.

    They have already added Richard Hidalgo who has a great chance of knocking 40+ homers in Arlington to team that scored the 4th highest run total in the majors with 860. Now they are looking to add Delgado. They won 89 games in 2004 and bringing in that much firepower would certainly seem to push them past that 90 win margin and into legitimate contenders. However, who actually trusts their staff? Their bullpen was the strong point of their pitching staff, but anyone who had ten or more starts possessed ERAs of 4.76, 4.20, 5.46, 5.68, 5.61, and 6.78. Out of all those pitchers, they K'd only 475 guys in 787.1 innings and had a WHIP of 1.55. The Angels ramped up their team a bit too, but if the Rangers happen to hit their way into the playoffs, they will have some serious problems getting past the first round with Kenny Rogers leading the charge. However, acquiring Delgado will allow them to shop Adrian Gonzalez and/or Mark Teixiera for some much needed pitching and Teixiera can certainly bring back a stud should they make that highly unlikely move. I like Texas and their young nucleus of players and it will certainly be interesting to see how this thing plays out because the media is suggesting that they will need to move Alfonso Soriano to be able to bring Delgado to Arlington.

    Both sides are motivated to get this move done and it really looks like something that will happen in my opinion. Delgado will be going to a team that will be contending for a division crown and he will be able to smash a ton of homeruns which certainly seems like a good fit for both sides. For that reason, I am afraid Sammy Sosa may be the guy Minaya adds to the mix as the last big bat. Phil Rogers makes his pitch for Sosa being traded to the Mets.

    Does Minaya have one more move left in him? Don't be surprised if he does.

    How about Sosa, Kyle Farnsworth and cash to the Mets for Floyd, Jae Seo, Aaron Heilman and a prospect or two? That move, or one like it, could be made by the end of the week, or at least in time to get Sosa on the cover of the Mets' media guide alongside Martinez and Beltran.

    If Sosa would waive his clause that kicks in that guarantees 2006 and does not receive and extension from the Mets, I can kind of go along with it. However, the chances of Sosa not asking for a very expensive extension is bit unlikely and therefore makes this trade a bad idea. Throwing in Farnsworth sweetens the deal with his 100 mph fastball and his ability to face plant Paul Byrd, but Sosa would be deadweight to this team past this year with his huge contract. Financially, adding Sosa would only add about $6.5 million this year as the Cubs are going to pick up a ton of money owed to him. I just think the writing is on the wall and it will be a way for the Mets to keep their payroll a bit under or at $110,000,000, which Wilpon would probably like to see at this point. Yes, I'm predicting it. Sneezin' Sammy Sosa will be manning the outfield in Shea. We all know Minaya wants him and he would certainly fits the role of a cleanup hitter which the Mets need at this point. Add Minaya's desire for Sosa and this Beltran deal with the rumors that the Mets have been looking at another Boras client in Travis Lee. Travis Lee made $2,000,000 in 2004 but was troubled by injury for the most part of the year and only got nineteen at-bats. Now the Boras and Minaya have a nicey nice relationship this looks like a real possibility. I do not think this is an optimal set of moves for this team, but the lineup still looks effective.

    Reyes (S)
    Matsui (S)
    Beltran (S)
    Sosa (R)
    Piazza (R)
    Wright (R)
    Cameron (R)
    Lee (L) / Galaraga (R)

    Not as balanced as you would like in the middle, but a pretty good lineup that should knock a few homeruns and drive in a few runs. My personal preference is the keep Floyd's left handed bat and smaller contract at Shea to balance out the lineup perfectly, but Omar looks set to send Cliff packing.

    As for the Mets and Carlos Delgado, they are really not completely out of it yet. We've been over the payroll and for the money that the Marlins and Rangers are interested in him for, the Mets should at least put forward an offer. For $11 or $12 million dollars a year, the Mets would be at around $113 million per year for a very good rotation and a lineup that can mash. Before Minaya becomes fixated on Sammy Sosa again, I truly hope he explores the possibility of in Delgado, bringing in Magglio, or looking at Texas as a trade partner. I know Soriano already said he would not move to the outfield, but I'd rather have him than Sosa if Omar needs to have Cliff shipped out. As far as people complaining about Soriano being asked to play a position he has not played before in the majors, Alfonso Soriano came up as outfielder and was moved to the infield. He has never really made the transition 100% as evidenced by his high error total and like how Sheffield moved to the outfield in the middle of his career, I think Soriano would do a decent job. If Soriano would agree to move the outfield, the Mets would get younger and have more speed and power in the lineup and Soriano brings a very good throwing arm. In addition to exploring a Soriano deal, I hope Omar at least explores what it could possibly take to get Mark Teixeira or Adrian Gonzalez here.

    I really cannot believe I just endorsed bringing Alfonso Soriano to the Mets but if it came down to Sosa or him, I’d take Alfonso. Besides, with Texas’ motivation to move him quickly to pave the way for Delgado he may not cost as much as he did a year ago when the asking price Reyes or Kazmir and if he can be bargin, he may be worth it.

    Just chew on this opening day lineup.

    Reyes (21)
    Matsui (29)
    Beltran (28)
    Soriano (29)
    Piazza (36)
    Wright (22)
    Diaz (23)....should be starting in place of Cameron the beginning of the year if there is any justice
    Lee (29)

    All ages are as of may 1st and that is a lineup I would not mind going to battle with. Of course if they somehow move Floyd without getting deadweight back, which they have not been able to do and probably will not be able to do, and bring in a healthy Magglio that would be a solid option if Delgado really will not leave the AL.

    Omar’s got a lot of options out there in Delgado, Magglio, Lee, Soriano, Millar, Mientkiewicz, Teixeira, Gonzalez, Huff, and Sosa. In all likelihood Omar's next move is tied to moving Cliffy. Is he going to go for another outfielder and a first baseman or just first basemen since it is still possible he just sticks with Cliff? Although I cannot see him just sticking with Floyd, think Cliff should be kept at this point with him adding either Delgado, Millar, Lee, etc.

    Now we all sit and wait for Omar's next move.

    * * *

  • Welcome to NY Carlos!

    You will probably be known as a Yankee reject for the rest of your days here according to some in the media. Way to put negative spin on this in some way NYPost. Very impressive indeed. The ridiculousness is that it seems the reason the Yankees did not purse him was because they simply could not afford him and not because they did not want him. That does not make him a reject. There are a lot of players that would like to stay with their current team or go a specific team, but in reality, most people do not get their choice. Tim Hudson wanted to stay and Athletic, but was traded for monetary reasons. Is he now an Athletic reject? No. When Giambi only came to the Yankees because Billy Beane would not add a no trade clause was he an Athletic reject? No, but the Yankees were brilliant to land him at the time. The stupidity of that headline cannot be overstated especially since the Yankees did want him. They just could not afford him and the last minute offer by Boras was not so much of discount. Boras had asked for 6 years, $16.66 million from the Yankees compared to the 7 years $17 million that was eventually offered by the Mets. This was not a big bargain for the Yankees and Carlos was not going to take that much of a hit to play for the Yankees. I do not think many people could argue the point that the Yankees can convince players to come play for them a lot easier than the Mets can though it looks like that is about to change. They could have given the Mets some credit with their pack page headline with a positive headline but that would be way too hard. There was no reason to make this about the Yankees.

  • So whatever did happen to those Yankees in this Beltran bidding war?

    A person familiar with the Yankees thinking said that while they liked the player very much, they were concerned about the luxury-tax implications of a $112-million contract, and that the timing wasn't perfect since some big contracts, like Kevin Brown and Bernie Williams, don't come off the books until next year.

    Steinbrenner held a 90-minute meeting in Tampa on Friday to discuss the Beltran situation, and while his baseball people expressed a concern about Bernie Williams' diminishing skill in centerfield, his "money men'' also had their say.

    One person who talked to Yankees officials said that the Yankees might have considered re-evaluating things if they were able to make a favorable separation settlement with Jason Giambi. However, that could take until close to spring training, and would be an enormous gamble for Beltran to wait it out when he had other $100-million-plus offers on the table.

    Ah, the infamous person familiar with the Yankees thinking. I think this finally proves the Yankees have a threshold. Beltran would have been a perfect fit for the Yankees and their aging team, but there was no bid. No peep or offer at all. I'm not sure what is bigger though, the Mets getting the two best free agents that were available this off season or the Yankees not even bidding on the two best free agents of this off season. This seems like some bizzaro reality. Life is good right now.

  • What the hell was Houston thinking not adding in the no trade clause? Only one team could ever trade for a contract as large as that and he would have basically untradeable anyway. If they really wanted him, it certainly looks like they made a huge mistake.
  • Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Do, or do not. There is no try.

    In Mr. Met We Trust

    What a perfect time for some Yoda wisdom. This past week felt more like a month and it finally took a lot of Met money, but Omar and the Mets finally got their man. Someone forgot to send Omar the memo that the Mets are supposed to roll over and play the sorry team they have been over the past few years. Someone forgot to send Omar the memo that his moves were reserved for the Yankees and not the Junior Varsity team. Someone forgot to send Omar the memo that no big names wanted to come to New York and play for the Mets. Someone forgot to send Omar the memo that Fred Wilpon would not have big enough cajones to put enough money in front of Beltran's face to get him in Shea. Someone forgot to send him the memo that Carlos Beltran would not play for the downtrodden New York Mets and he might as well start getting fitted for his pinstripes.

    I have nothing but love for Jim Duquette and I wish him the best in the future, but if he is the GM right now the Mets do not have Pedro Martinez. They may not have Carlos Beltran either, although you could argue both points that he too could have dumped a lot of money on the table and got them anyway. The reason I say he may not have them is simply because Omar is the one who got Fred to do things that are not very signature of the way he worked in the past. He got Fred to get to that $100 million amount for a contract and got the two best free agents on the market by dishing out around $173 million on two contracts and Omar may not done just yet.

    No one thought Pedro would be a Met and people said there was no chance Beltran would be a Met. It is a good thing that Omar is using his new found resources, his courting skills, his ethnicity, and his relentlessness to get what wants. A lot of people were down on him after the winter meetings and I am included in the bunch. As of Saturday night I still did not think Beltran was Queens bound. You would be hard pressed to find an unhappy Met fan at this moment in time. Put aside the obvious fact that anyone who gave Beltran that much money was overpaying because it was necessary. Every Met fan is now wondering what next? Things that were once thought impossible or a long shot are now realities in Shea. Omar's goal was to make a splash and I do believe that signing a future Hall of Famer in Pedro Martinez and a five-tool, switch-hitting, 27 year old Carlos Beltran would qualify as a splash.

    It is really hard not to be optimistic about the Mets future when they have three key components under 30 years old with Reyes, Wright, and Beltran together for at least another four years and probably longer. Today is good day for the Mets and their fans.

    If the Mets paid $120 million over seven years like speculated, the Mets will be at $102,520,000 for their 2005 payroll so far assuming that the money is evenly divided over seven years.

    * * *

  • Omar got another arm.

    Mets sign lefty. The Mets got some bullpen help when they signed Korean lefthander Koo Dae-sung to a one-year contract with a club option for 2006. Koo, 35, had previously been linked to the Yankees, but the team was irked when his agent announced a deal prematurely.

    Sounds fine to me.

    "Dae Sung is a versatile pitcher who can start or pitch out of the bullpen," general manager Omar Minaya said. "I was in Sydney for the Olympics in 2000 when he beat Japan to win the Bronze Medal for Korea. He's a veteran pitcher who can help our staff in a variety of ways."

    The Mets were in need of a long man at this point if they were not going to use Ginter of Heilman so this move seems like a good one without knowing if this guy can really pitch at all.

  • According to Bob Klapisch's article:

    According to one major league executive, the Yankees will now become players in this cash orgy, and are certain to outbid the Mets and Cubs. That's no small undertaking, considering the Mets fattened their offer Saturday to seven years, $120 million and even included a vesting option for an eighth season.

    How could so many people have been wrong about the Yankees lurking in the shadows?
  • ESPN News says....

    Beltran is due to sign with the Mets though nothing has been 100% confirmed yet.