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

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Since the failures of generation K, the Mets have babied their pitching prospects and were not high on rushing them along. However, that contributed to the reasoning behind dumping Scott Kazmir. They said he was two or three years away, but in reality, he was lot closer. How many minor league innings the person has pitched should be irrelevant. Kazmir should have been moving up faster than he was. Your skill and performance should dictate where you go and how fast you move up, not your time served.

When the Mets were looking to fill a void in the NY rotation, it was deemed that he was simply to far away because he still needed to serve a full year at Binghamton and a full year at Norfolk and had to pitch X amount of minor league innings. The Mets were not inclined to deviate from that path. When Scott was traded to Tampa Bay, they had no such inclination to let him wallow around the minors for a year or two and he showed flashes of what he can really do. Though wild, he did not give up more hits than innings pitched, posted an 11.07 K/9, and posted a .256 BAA. Not bad for a 21 year old.

In the case of Yusmeiro Petit, it seems the new Met regime is not adhering to the old policy of not rushing pitchers. Omar is letting the pitcher determine when they are ready to move up or down and is not shying away from giving them Major League innings. Yusmeiro has started two games for the Mets Major League squad an that is something that was unheard of for a 20 year old in the years past in the Mets organization. Petit looked good. He looked better than some other pitchers that I've seen this spring and it looks like he has the stuff to compete at the highest level despite not having a blazing fastball.

In 2005, Petit will not be spending a year at AA unless he gets shelled. If he continues to put up gaudy numbers in Binghamton he will find his way into the Norfolk rotation sooner rather than later. If he continues to pitch well for Norfolk, he could see major league service in 2005 should an opportunity present itself and will certainly be a September call up. The Mets will not be telling Yusmeiro when he is ready, but Yusmeiro will be telling the Mets when he is ready.

* * *

  • If you did not watch the game, Petit's line is not indicative of his performance. All game, he had people off balance. He did not surrender many hard hits. He had maybe one hard hit, and the rest were bloopers or chop shots. He was making some people take ugly swings and there a lot weekly hit grounds, choppers, and bloops. He worked both sides of the plate and changed speeds fantastically. When he gave up the two runs in the second inning, there were two weekly hit sinking liners that Cliff could not get to but made two diving attempts at. In reality, with the contact the Marlins were making with Petit, he should been in a few steps.

    All in all, it was a great look at him and what he can do. He never topped 87 during the entire game though his fastball is rumored to be in the 88-91 range. He never sniffed 90 but had great movement on his pitches and has a nice tight breaking pitch that he used on a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera. It would have been interesting to see him work out of his bases loaded jam with no outs and Carlos Delgado at the plate, but Willie was not going to have anything of that match up. It was great to get a good chance to see him pitch.

    Also in the game, Koo looked pretty good. He threw two shutout innings, with three K's, and no hits allowed. If Omar wants to do the right thing, Heredia gets released and he brings up Matthews and Koo. Koo brings more to the table in having the ability to spot start and looks to be much more talented than Felix Heredia. Do it Omar.

  • Three days after indicating that reliever Blake McGinley would be a starter for either Binghamton or Triple-A Norfolk, the Mets told the 26-year-old left-hander that he will be in Norfolk's bullpen.

    "They got scared, I guess," McGinley joked before joining the major league team here. "They thought I'd dominate too much."

  • No DL for DeJean and Heath Bell could resume sweating it out as to whether he will make the bullpen to start the '05 season.

  • Rey Rey may land with the Nats as a backup infielder.

  • Jerry Crasnick covers some Unsolved Mysteries around the majors.

    4. Can pitching coach Rick Peterson break through to the Mets' 4-5 starters?
    Leo Mazzone coaxed 15 wins out of Jaret Wright last season, and Orel Hershiser helped make a 14-game winner out of Ryan Drese in Texas. Now it's Peterson's turn to transform a project into a contributor.

    Actually, two projects. With Steve Trachsel out at least three months after back surgery, the Mets have to straighten out human walk machines Victor Zambrano and Kaz Ishii in the 4-5 spots. A day after the Mets acquired Ishii from Los Angeles, Peterson was working with him on the side trying to get him to use his hands more in his windup.

    "If you have a pitching coach who's very hands-on and mechanically oriented, which Rick is, they have a lot to offer,'' said Mets starter Tom Glavine. "You certainly see it with Leo in Atlanta. He's taken a lot of guys and turned their careers around.''

    Ishii wore out Jim Tracy and the Dodgers' brass with his 99-to-98 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. And the Devil Rays, despite a lack of veteran starting pitching, couldn't wait to move Zambrano. He's capable of pitching lights-out at times, but made manager Lou Piniella squirm with his incessant nibbling.

    If Zambrano and Ishii run up huge pitch counts early, they'll put pressure on a thin Mets bullpen and negate the team's defensive upgrades. The Mets should be much stronger in the field this year, with Doug Mientkiewicz at first base, Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes turning double plays and Carlos Beltran chasing down everything in center. But it won't matter much if 40 percent of their rotation can't throw strikes.

  • Friday, March 25, 2005

    Five Reasons Why Everyone Else Can Beat The Mets

    I'm not naive enough to think the Mets don't have some serious question marks and as I see it, these are the top issues.

    1) Wet Behind the Ears: I was exchanging some hate mail with a Yankee fan a few weeks back and I was telling him how his manager got exposed in the playoffs last year. I thought Torre made several bad moves, though I cannot recall what they were, and mentioned that he was exposed after his bench coach left for the Devil Rays and Zim was the real brains behind the operation. Then he responded with a notion that escaped by grasp until that point in time. Torre's bench coach last year is our manager this year. Maybe Randolph had nothing to do with it, and maybe he did. The Mets did surround him with some great, great baseball people this off season, but it is his team. Is Randolph going to get the job done? Is Randolph going to be a competent manager? Did he really learn anything at all from Torre besides silly rules like moustaches only and how to sit on the bench motionless and do nothign? His experience may come into play at some point.

    2) The Black Cloud: The injury bug has been around Shea seemingly forever. Last season five of their current eight position players had significant injuries and everyone was on the DL for a long period of time out of the bunch but Cameron, and he should have been. Then you turn to the rotation and the obvious injury concerns with Victor "I didn't ask to be traded for Kazmir" Zambrano. Then there are concerns with the senior citizen, Tom Glavine, and Martinez and Benson have had significant time off in the past few years due to injury as well. Nothing scares me more than the health of this team as there are a lot of question marks on all fronts in terms of health.

    3) OBP: Last season the Mets were the second worst team in getting on base and posted a .317% team OBP. If they plan to win games this year, it starts there. I believe the pitching will be there and the bullpen will be better than last season's, but they lost forty eight games by two runs or less. As aggressive as this may be, they need to collectively raise that about .023%. If that happens, and there a men on base for Beltran/Piazza/Floyd, the Mets will be successful.

    4) Protection: One of the biggest concerns and the biggest reasons I advocated getting a guy like Delgado, and was always for Magglio, is because Beltran is your newest investment and the best offensive player on the team right now and to be effective, he needs people producing behind him. Piazza was in the .260's last season and may not play 130 games this year. Floyd certainly cannot be counted on to be there 150 games a year and cannot be counted on to provide adequate protection if he hits like he did in 2004. David Wright may turn into that player, but he will not be there anytime soon after the season starts since Willie is leaning towards experience. If Beltran is getting pitched around, teams have to pay. Making them pay will be the hard part.

    5) Pressure: Playing in NY is always pressure. However, after signing the two best free agents available and after trading three of your top five prospects to win now you are sending a message. If the All-Star break comes around and the Mets are a struggling club, the firestorm will be big. Will it be warranted? Maybe, but Omar was clear about building a team for next season and beyond, which he has done. The pressure will be big to put up some results and I think the Mets have a lot of players that can stand up to the challenge.

    * * *

  • If that team is the Mets, who currently have Braden Looper in that role, Urbina said, "We'll see if they trade me there," adding, "I love New York. I love the pressure."

    There is a whole lotta smoke around the Urbina situation.

  • Brian Bannister is quite the businessman.

    An art major at the University of Southern California, Bannister is as adept at snapping photos as he is at hurling a 93 mph fastball or his patented "snap hook" curve. His owns Loft 19, a state-of-the-art studio and hosts photo shoots for clientele that includes ESPN The Magazine.

    He is not a bad pitcher either.

  • Heath Bell just made the team.

  • From the NY Post:

    The Mets have made calls to Colorado to inquire about backup catcher Charles Johnson. The 33-year-old Johnson is likely to be released at the end of camp, but the Mets are interested in having him be the backup catcher.

  • ESPN goes around and gets some quotes on Bonds and McGwire from some reporters around the nation.

    Rob Parker, The Detroit News

    "I'm not bothered by the steroids issue and because there were no rules on the books before December 2003, it's impossible to go back in time and penalize people. Would I rather people not use steroids? Sure. People talk about integrity in baseball, but there is no integrity. This is the same sport that kept blacks out until 1947. If you want to talk about asterisks, let's go back and do that prior to 1947. It's the most ridiculous witch hunt I've ever heard of. If we got past the omission of blacks in baseball, we can get past this."

    "First-ballot Hall of Famers, both of them. It wasn't against the rules of their workplace. There are 20 guys in the 500-home run club. Everyone was playing with the same rules, and nobody else hit 500 home runs. Barry Bonds is the greatest player of our lifetime, with or without steroids. He won three MVPs as a stick figure. … I don't think they were cheating. Something has to be against the rules for you to be cheating. Despite their size, these guys climbed through a loophole."

    Interesting read, but I agree with the above two. Making a statement by not voting for them on the first year is everyone's right, but how is it cheating if you did not break any rules?

  • And so it begins.

    Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui were among a handful of New York Yankees players randomly selected for steroid tests by Major League Baseball, the New York Post reported Friday.

    Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, who testified in the BALCO grand jury hearings, were not among those tested by members of baseball's drug testing program Thursday at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., the newspaper reported

    Shouldn't Giambi and Sheffield get tested every time there is testing? Call me crazy, but Jeter and Matsui are not on roids. Check 'em fine, but baseball has a good handle on who may have done steroids.

    "It's not a comfortable feeling, but what can you do?" Jeter told the newspaper.

    Derek, you just took a wiz in a cup. You did not get a rectal exam. Give me $18,000,000 per year and I'll pee in anything anyone asks me too. That invasion of privacy argument the players and the MLBPA use is crap. You want to the enjoy the life of a ballplayer? You can ahere to a few rules.

  • You have just entered, the spin zone.

    Zambrano has makings of ace
    Mets right-hander just needs to work on control

    Just needs to work on this control?

  • Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Carlos Beltran, Hall of Famer?

    Beltran in the Hall? You really hate to start predicting whether young guys like Pujols or Beltran will make it into the HoF, but Beltran is not even 28 and has already built up an impressive resume.

    "I like challenges," Beltran said. "It might sound crazy. But I want to be in the Hall of Fame. I know I have a long way to go. But I have good health, and I work hard and God has blessed me. I think God is proud of me."

    What has he done so far?

    Beltran became the sixth player since 1900 to record three seasons with 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 30 steals, joining Barry Bonds, George Sisler, Honus Wagner, Kiki Cuyler and Ty Cobb. In 2004, he joined Honus Wager (4 times total) and Barry Bonds (5 times total) as the only three players to accomplish that feat.

    Anyone hear of those guys?

    In 2003, Beltran became the first switch hitter and the eleventh overall player in big league history to hit .300 with at least 25 home runs and 40 or more steals in a single season.

    After over 100 years of baseball, it's tough to be the first ever anything.

    In the 2004 playoffs, Beltran tied Barry Bonds for the most post season homeruns with eight and had a record five consecutive playoff games with a homerun.

    The HoF certainly loves people who are October proven.

    Beltran is the first player in major league history to drive in more than 50 runs in each league in the same season.

    That would be another first.

    Beltran's 15 home runs with the Royals, and 23 more with the Astros, allowed him to join Mark McGwire as the only players with at least 15 home runs in each league in the same season.

    The first not on steroids, the second overall.

    Beltran is the only player in baseball history with four consecutive seasons of 20 homers, 100 runs, 100 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases.

    Yet another first for such a young player.

    There is no doubt he is full of talent and the complete package. Only time will tell if he can stay healthy enough and keep it up. Although I think a lot of people do not view Beltran as a HoF talent and just as a very gifted player, he has done some impressive things so far. He will need to win with the Mets and the Mets lineup needs to help him out. One thing is for sure, it will be awesome to see him try and get to an immortal level in a Mets uniform and he very well may end up being the best Met position player ever.

    People think Omar and the Mets overpaid?

    * * *

  • Why, oh why, does Baseball Prospectus love to kick the Mets around? For those of you who missed this article, it was supposed to be on the Dodgers, Twins, and Giants. Yes, the Dodgers just completed a trade with the Mets, but shouldn't this focus on the Dodgers and what they got? Not how bad the pitcher the Mets got is, even though it was good deal. I'm sure they will undoubtedly unload on the Mets next Triple Play write up too.

    I first starting reading the article and got a good laugh with one of the best lines that I've ever read.

    He fell out of favor after 21 innings last year, and spent most of the season in Syracuse piloting his favorite airplane, the 7.17 ERA.

    I was in good spirits until...

    If a Trip to Shea is the Prize, is it Really Winning?

    Fuck yeah? It sure beats a one way ticket to Yankee Stadium. Besides, who wants to play in LA anyway? Isn't a game more fun to play when the fans do not arrive in the 3rd inning and leave by the 6th inning regardless who is winning or losing. On top of that, Paul DePodesta did a good job screwing the team up with perplexing deals and letting Beltre walk and giving his money to JD Drew while giving away a pitcher when they plan to do battle with Scott Erickson and Wilson Alverez at the back end of the rotation to start the season. As much as Ishii tried their patience with all the walks, he is WORLDS better then Scott Erickson. The Dodgers are in for quite a rude awakening if they were annoyed with Ishii. Good luck with all that (by good luck with all of that, I mean Erickson sucks).

    What's the over/under on the Dodgers shopping for some pitching at some point during the season?

    Ishii has walked a ghastly 5.8 men per nine innings over the course of his major-league career while striking out only 1.25 for every walk. Watching him pitch is only slightly less nerve-wracking than watching one's grandmother fend off a saber toothed tiger from an icy driveway with just a broken umbrella.

    Who cares? Giving up a backup catcher for a starting pitcher like Ishii who will slot in the #5 spot for a small price of just over $1 million is a good trade no matter how you try and shake it. But damn, it's hard to stay pissed with that analogy.

    Unreal. Even when it is not supposed to be about the Mets, they sure find a way to throw them under the bus.

  • Since I could not listen to the game on WFAN since AM is not so hot in my place and the game was not on TV, I had to listen to it on XM radio. Unfortunately, they had on the Cardinals broadcast instead of the Cohen and Rose. The Cardinal announcer said, "not many people are paying attention to David Wright, but they will be soon."

    Living in NY, you foret that everyone does not know about him.

  • My buddy and I were talking about the Mets and how sick Beltran looked. He pointed out that one of biggest bright spots was not how well Beltran was hitting, but how many runs he had scored. Coming into yesterday's game, he scored fifteen runs in fourteen games played and thirty four at-bats. He is going to be making things happen all year round.

  • It has to start somewhere.

    "I think it's important," said Tom Glavine, who is 16 years older than Wright. "You want to believe that you are a better team, an improved team. The only way you make yourself believe that is to go out and see the results. You certainly want to come down here and play well and back whatever enthusiasm there is. I think the guys are paying attention to this. People are coming in the clubhouse after games saying, 'Yeah, we did it again.' That certainly creates a more upbeat attitude."

  • Strickland is ready.

    "I'm better now," Strickland said. "There's no question. I've got a change-up and the cutter to help take care of the left-handed hitters, which I had some trouble with (lefties hit .293 against Strickland from 2002-03, compared to .194 by righties).

    "With those two weapons, I feel better now than I ever was before."

    Up next for Strickland is the challenge of pitching on back-to-back days, an effort that should be scheduled by pitching coach Rick Peterson sometime this week. Strickland believes that he will ace that exam as well.

    "There's no doubt in my mind," Strickland said. "I'm ready. It's none of this, 'Oh, is he ready yet?' Hell yes, I'm ready."

    If the Mets can land Urbina without sacrificing a top prospect and if Strickland is ready, the Mets can add some fire into the bullpen. That is something they have really been lacking.

  • Jeff Duncan has been removed from the 40 man roster.

    "It seems like ages since I was up there," he said. "But I don't even think about it any more. All I can control is how I play. I'm playing for the Mets, but I've got to play for the other 29 teams as well. Hopefully, I can wind up in a situation where I have a chance to get back there."

  • I love Wayne Lydon's ambition and 100 bases would certainly be impressive, but tell me again why a guy who could be a solid ML player is being blocked from AAA?

    An outfield logjam at the organization's top levels is keeping Lydon from playing at Triple-A Norfolk, where 37-year-old Gerald Williams, Ron Calloway, Angel Pagan, Prentice Redman or Jeff Duncan and Victor Diaz (if New York right fielder Mike Cameron's surgically repaired wrist is ready by Opening Day) are clamoring for jobs.

    The AAA outfield should be Victor Diaz, Wayne Lydon, and Angel Pagan. Done. No to Williams, no to Calloway, and no to Redman. The Mets have two capable replacements in Diaz and Valent should someone go down with Anderson and Cairo able to play the corner spots as well. There is absolutely no reason for the Mets to collect aging players in the AAA outfield again. Someone needs to remind them that blocking legit prospects with retreads is not an intelligent way to run a farm system.

  • Get the violins out and make sure to grab a tissue.

  • Here is another thing that just leaves you wondering how the Mets are constructing their roster. I know it's not written in stone, but just the mere thought of this is crazy.

    From the Daily News:

    Even with seven relievers, the Mets figured to lose Scott Strickland or Roberto Hernandez. But it now seems possible that Heath Bell could be demoted despite no earned runs in eight innings, a .161 opponent batting average and resounding praise from pitching coach Rick Peterson.

    Umm..so forget talent. Configure the bullpen on who has options and who doesn't. GREAT!!! Let's flip a coin to round out the bench while we're at it. Really good message to send to you minor leaguers too. You will not get a spot on the team even if you earned it for retread arms that are not as good as you simply because you have options. Forget winning and fielding the best team, right?

  • A great article on the phenom Felix Hernandez from the Seattle Mariners posted at Baseball America today.

    "I don't like the Yankees. I never did. I don't know why. The Yankees are too big. I could have gone with the Yankees but I really didn't like them. It's not the people. It's the team."

    What a smart kid. See? Not EVERYONE wants to be a Yankee.

  • Jerry Crasnick performs some virtual fellacio on Jose Reyes.

    Best of all, Reyes won't turn 22 until June. It makes you wonder what the Mets were thinking when they: a) considered trading him for Alfonso Soriano and b) moved him to second base in 2004 to make room for Kaz Matsui.

    True, Matsui probably wouldn't have signed with New York to play second base – even for three years and $20 million – but there wasn't a scout or player personnel person in baseball who believed the Mets were doing right by Reyes. You don't ask Jeff Gordon to drive a school bus or make Gladys Knight sing backup, and you don't ask a dynamic, energetic young shortstop to shift to second.

    Good stuff. With Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Diaz, and Milledge either on the team, or in the Mets near future bringing an injection of youth and immense talent should make them contenders for years to come.

    UPDATE: BP names three Mets to watch as players who could have breakout years.

    Heath Bell checks in at #5 overall suprisingly and BP has shown him some love before. Kaz gets an honorable mention and Bartolome Fortunado gets a mention in the Bell piece.

  • Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    10 Days Until Heading North

    What's that weird high number of .706 next to the Mets name in the standings? Screw the whole spring training means nothing crap. Darryl Hamilton's hex is on vacation and the Mets are, if nothing else, building some good vibes to roll into the season with.

    The entire make us first bit scares me. I'm keeping the faith here, but the Mets are surely looking desperate. Dombrowski is sticking to his illogical proposal of someone absorbing Urbina’s entire contract and giving a top prospect or major leaguer in return. To make matters worse and me more scared, the Cubbies are likely to be heavily involved in any negotiations with the Tigers. Their farm system is in much better shape and with the young starters they have at the major and minor league level, they can afford to give up a guy like Bobby Brownalie and not blink. If the Cubbies push hard for Urbina, will Omar get into a bidding war? Dombrowski has got to be salivating right now with two teams geared up and highly interested with possibly more jumping into the negotiations.

    "There's still two weeks to see what we have. I see no reason to make a trade," general manager Omar Minaya said. "We're still evaluating our players."

    Omar is playing his game and Dombrowski is playing his. Dombrowski says they are not in a position that they need to move payroll, but not many teams have a set-up man making $4,000,000 outside the Yankees. Detroit is not exactly large market and has some hefty contracts to deal with, so it seems Dombrowski is not being 100% honest.

    One highlight of the bullpen has been Heath Bell.

    "I feel like I'm on the team until somebody out pitches me this spring," said Bell, who began spring training by using Rollerblades to travel to the Mets' facility to get in better shape. "Everything I tried to work on this winter has fallen into place. I felt like if I had a really good spring, they would see that I deserved to be in the big leagues, or I'd make it a really hard decision on them to send me back to Triple A."

    Peterson said: "Heath didn't throw one low strike with his fastball in the 25 innings he had for us last year. He's pounded the bottom of the strike zone this spring. It's not just the fact he's had a lights-out spring. He's doing things he didn't do last year, like he's more effective with his changeup. He has made a huge case for himself."

    * * *

  • John Franco is selling his Staten Island Mansion for $8.3 million. According to Baseball Reference, Franco has made $46,762,499 in his career.

    Not that I need to feel more feeble than I already do, but reading this mind boggling.

    All this could be yours for $70 million. As Forbes points out, if you put down a $14 million down payment, and obtained a 30-year mortgage at 7% on the apartment, your monthly mortgage payments would only be $372,569.40.

    I got this from a link in the article above:

    Greta Van Susteren, an Appleton, Wis., native, has dipped her toes in the big city real estate market. The Fox News host of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren purchased a one-bedroom pied-à-terre in the Essex House on Central Park South, according to the New York Observer. The apartment is 850 square feet, and she is said to have bought it for $657,000.

    Yeah, 850 square feet for $657,000, but if I'm a millionaire, I'm not going to be holed up in 850 square feet.

  • I was going to the bathroom at work and walked into the luxurious handicapped stall. What do I notice on the sink? An empty snack wrapper. Now, I know people take this valuable downtime in their busy day to read the paper or a magazine, shoot a message on a blackberry, or even a nap for those narcoleptics out there. However, eating is something that should not be doing while you are sitting on the bowl. I guess it can be viewed as efficient, but it's pretty gross. To make matters worse, this person was eating a pack of raisinettes! That is a really, really bad choice of snack if you must eat on the crapper.

    They certainly look like something, but I cannot put my finger on it.

    I'm not sure whey people do the things the do sometimes. Maybe they should have washed the rasinettes down with cool glass of lemonade...mmmmmm.

    If that was me who was eating raisinettes in the bathroom, I would have kept the wrapper and left about five or six of them on the floor leading out the door. If you are going to satisfy your need to eat in an unsanitary manner, you might was well have fun with.

  • Does anyone think Barry Bonds will retire? With the likelihood of him being out for half a season, if not the entire year, and him getting older while trying to get the all time homerun record, he may need to play through 2007. With all the scrutiny of him having done steroids and going for the most coveted record in possibly all of sports, will Barry give everyone the proverbial middle finger and "punish" us by going away? He's sick of it all right now and as close as he may be to that record and Babe Ruth for 2nd place, he is one guy I think could simply walk away from everything right now.

  • Why can't the Mets just admit that Matsui's back is a big concern?

    "I'm not concerned at all," Randolph said. "I'm just being a little overly cautious, that's all. It's spring training. It's early. I know he's had some problems in the past.

    Had some problems in the past? How about having some problems in the present. Omar, you've done well getting Cairo and it looks like Miguel will be earning every dollar of that $900,000 and then some. Willie says he would have played if it was a regular season game, but his back problems certainly look like they have an opportunity to be nagging problems.

  • Mike Jacbos gets demoted for what I presume to be a roster crunch. The guy is turning 24 this year and already crushed AA in 2003 at 22. Why move him back?

  • Banco Popular said it was not precisely the Mets' signing of the Latino stars Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martínez that led to yesterday's announcement that it would be the team's exclusive bank sponsor through 2009.

    Banco Popular loves the new Los Mets despite what they say.

    Banco Popular and the Mets declined to divulge the value of the sponsorship. But Jim Andrews, the editorial director of the IEG Sponsorship Report, a trade publication, estimated that the agreement was worth $750,000 to $800,000 annually, a tier below what beer and soft drink sponsors pay.

    "This is a significant statement for them to make," Andrews said.

  • Jason Phillips has drawn the ire of The Metropolitans before. As a remembrance, let's take a look back.

  • Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    11 Days Until Heading North

    There is a lot of bullpen talk today. Steve Popper seems to believe that there are five givens in the bullpen. He sees the bullpen being populated with Braden Looper, Felix Heredia, Mike DeJean, Dae-Sung Koo, and Heath Bell with one or two more spots open. Adam Rubin believes that Mike Matthews will actually get the nod instead of Koo.

    With the Mets being somewhat intrigued with Roberto Hernandez and Scott Strickland throwing decently, it seems that Matt Ginter is on the outs, which is a shame. Ginter was formally the closer of the future for the White Sox and he never panned out. He added a third pitch to his repertoire and is seemingly having some success with it. He can not only serve as the long man, but it seems he could be worked into some higher leverage situations. He throws stikes and keeps the ball in the park. Going to battle with Looper, DeJean, Ginter, Strickland, Bell, Heredia, and Koo is not bad at all in my mind. The Mets bullpen performed admirably last season and by my accounts, this pen would look better. Then with Moreno on the horizon, it is like picking up a reliever at the deadline and the Mets could release Heredia after he undoubtedly lives up to his name as The Run Fairy.

    On the trade front, Trever Miller may be available from the Devil Rays. The lefty posted a 3.12 ERA in 49 innings and is slated to make $1.1 million in 2005. He held lefties to a .214 BA and righties fared pretty well against him hitting .303. The Tigers are also still dangling Urbina and the Mets are still interested. The Tigers are looking for the Mets to pick up $3 million of the $4 million left and want a promising young player. Someone forgot to send Dombrowski the memo that it is one or the other, although we are not sure what exactly a promising young player is by his definition. Are we talking Shawn Bowman or Wayne Lydon or Victor Diaz? Dombrowski is better advised to wait until the dealine if he wants to get back maximum value. It would be a nice luxury for the Mets, but Urbina is not a necessity. Besides, anyone think it will play mental games with Looper if the Mets did land him?

    * * *

  • Dan Graziano has a good article on Kaz Ishii on NJ.com

    "He's got tremendous stuff," said Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca, who was Ishii's catcher in L.A. before the trade that sent Lo Duca to Florida last summer. "Obviously, his only weakness is he gets in trouble throwing strikes. But he's got 20-win stuff, and when he does throw strikes, he can be dominant."

    Being that he has led the Major Leagues since 2002 in BB/9, I'd say that only weakness is a large one.

  • Adam Rubin checks out the likelihood of a few guys on the fringe making the club. This part was rather interesting:

    South Korean Dae-Sung Koo (4.05 ERA this spring), who has a split contract that means he can be sent to Triple-A Norfolk at reduced cost, doesn't have the same assurance. Though Koo turned in two scoreless innings Saturday, he has been out pitched by Mike Matthews (1.13 ERA) this spring. Matthews went 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA in 35 appearances for the Reds last season, so he figures to get the ticket to Flushing.

    This part was rather disturbing:

    Anderson, still listed on Randolph's board as an infielder, and Valent look like the victors over Kerry Robinson and Gerald Williams. Ron Calloway can be optioned to the minors. The Mets appear likely to ship Victor Diaz to Triple-A to get regular work if Mike Cameron is healthy for Opening Day. Williams seems like he will also get an invitation to the farm, which is curious because he could stand in the way of a group of minor leaguers.

    What is the love affair with Ice? C'mon now. The AAA outfield will have plenty of useful players. There is absolutely no reason for him to be hanging around. Some things really never change with the Mets.

  • We all knew this was coming:

    Mike Jacobs, the organization's 2003 minor-league player of the year, is being converted to a first baseman with only part-time catching duty. He started working out with the Double-A Binghamton squad yesterday.

  • Brian Heyman has a good article on the The Big Cat.

  • BP's This Weeks in Quotes had plenty to choose from.

    "The shame of it is [McGwire] wouldn't even be up there if Canseco wasn't trying to sell a book."
    --Jim Edmonds

    Well actually, he would not even be up there had he not done steroids or been able to say that he had not done steroids. Blaming Canseco doesn't help. It seems he told the truth about his fellow Bash Brother.

    "This organization has drafted, signed and developed a winning major-league player in Lance Berkman. And today we have signed him to a long-term commitment that will keep him with the Astros for six seasons, including the 2005 season. That's a tremendous accomplishment for the organization to have Lance on contract this long."
    --Astros GM Tim Purpura, on signing outfielder Lance Berkman to a 6-year contract worth $85 million (Houston Chronicle)

    Is Berkman a $14+ million player? I think Lance has talent, but he's not a five tool guy that really warrants that type of salary.

    "If Lee Smith can't get in with 478 saves, I ain't getting in with 246."
    --Phillies closer Billy Wagner, who has said that he’ll retire at the end of this season if the Phillies win the World Series, on his Hall of Fame chances (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

    No need to worry about that Billy.

    "It's a sad day, it really is. It signifies a couple of things, too, that this team is going in a different direction. I think hopefully a winning one."
    --Mets catcher Mike Piazza, on teammate Joe McEwing’s release (New York Newsday)

    The team is going in a winning one by dumping Joey Mac? I could not agree more.
  • Monday, March 21, 2005

    Phillips Aftermath

    According to NJ.com, the Dodgers are picking up about $2.05 million of Ishii's deferred payments from his 2005 salary. This season, the Mets only have to pay $1.15 million and if the Mets opt to buy out his contract after the 2005 season, which they presumably will, the Dodgers foot that bill too.

    "I think he's a winner," Colborn said. "I think whoever he pitches for this year will be happy to have him. He does things in a way that's self-destructive sometimes, but he still ends up being successful. That's why I say he's a winner."

    Gone are the days of a Mets GM sitting on his laurels. If Omar needs something, he goes after it. He has to be applauded for turning Phillips into a starter and only being on the hook for potentially $1.5 million Where is the risk? Don't get me wrong, I like the Gint, but him as the long man/spot starter in the pen is better than Koo and makes the bullpen stronger. Phillips was a fan favorite, but coming off the year he had, he is still a relative unknown and Omar held on to few good prospects the Mets have left. It is not given he would hit .300 again and with limited power, he is replaceable. Next season's crop of free agents is not very hot in Benito Santiago, Eli Marrero, Eddie Perez, Charles Johnson, Brad Ausmus, Mike Lieberthal (team option), or Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez is the cream of the crop and the Mets will have three in-house options in Mike Jacobs, Ramon Castro, and Joe Hietpas with an outside possibility of a one or two year contract for Mike Piazza with him retiring a Met. I'm basically 100% OK with any of the aforementioned or another one year contract with a stop gap if Ramon cannot be lured here since they will most likely bat eighth. Everyone needs to keep some perspective here and not think Phillips was any sort of catching savior. At 28, he was as good as he is going to get and viewed primarily as a backup catcher.

    With Castro as the main backup, people are quick to point out his .212 batting average in 466 MLB at-bats. However, I'm not the only one who remembers Phillips hit .218 in 2004 in 362 at-bats. I do not care how unlucky he is, no one is so unlucky that a few inches a bunch of hits is going to knock you down .080 points. I like Phillips. He does not K much, he walks, he plays first, and is solid behind the plate, but Castro will be suitable for the backup role. For one, he has more power. In his MLB career, he has averaged on homer in every 26 at bats. In comparison, Phillips has hit one every 42 at-bats. Phillips strikes out much less than Castro, but Castro actually is slightly better at taking a walk. There is no doubt Castro has not lived up to what was expected from him after putting up some huge years in the minors, but he will be fine. He can work a walk and is a bat off the bench with power while providing solid defense.

    * * *

  • Iron Man in Japan, oft-injured in the States. Do the Mets have any luck? All of a sudden Matsui is having back problems at 29 years old. I know people are heralding Cairo as one of the best, cost effective pickups of the off-season, but it could be one of the better pickups all around cost thrown aside when all is said and done.

  • Pedro dominating? Check. Wright smashing three hits, three RBIs, a stolen base, and a great play in the field? Check. Heredia no runs, one hit, two K's, and no walks? Double check. Valent hitting a three run homer to win the game? Check. Cairo 2 for 5 with two runs scored? Check. Danny Garcia still on the team going 2 for 4 with 2 runs? Check. Castro trying to step up with a roster spot given to him? Check. Ginter & Heilman eight innings, no earned runs, two walks, six K's, and five hits? Check.

    The Mets in first place in the Grapefruit League and first place overall with the best winning % out of any spring team? Check. I do not care if it is spring, this team looks good. The Yankees are 7-10, Tampa Bay is 11-6, and Toronto is 10-5 so spring records mean little to nothing, but it sure beats losing.

  • The D-Rays are interested in Eric Valent's services since players would rather retire than actually play for the Devil Rays.

    Players they have interest in will be identified, and LaMar and his assistants will initiate at least preliminary discussions. Some probable targets include Baltimore's Jay Gibbons, Cincinnati's Wily Mo Pena, Pittsburgh's Rob Mackowiak, Washington's Terrmel Sledge, Oakland's Eric Byrnes and the Mets' Eric Valent.

    We all know that if you average Valent's at-bats out to an entire season, he'd have hit 30+ homers. It does not quite work like that in real life and it is not that easy, but he is a good player an extremely solid backup. But once again, he is a backup. Would the Mets be able to pry away Danys Baez for Valent who can also closer insurance for Looper? Victor Diaz could be a power bat off the bench, spot starter, and Cliff Floyd platoon partner. He would presumably see plenty of starting time and could log a few hundred at-bats. He could probably be able to play first base in a pinch as well and with Kerry Robinson or Ron Calloway available as the last outfielder and left-handed bats off the bench. It is certainly interesting to if Omar can strengthen the team in a deal with the D-Rays, but one would have to hesitate in downgrading what could be the strongest bench the Mets have had in quite a while. A good bench could be the difference to the Mets season more than their bullpen, which I think will shake out fine in the end.
  • Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Jae States His Case

    Ah, baseball on TV and the Mets beat up on the Marlins 6-0 and everyone played well. Life is good. Does anyone think Jae Seo is making Omar re-think his trade? Probably not, but he did look good. The enigma that is Jae Seo is a shame because he can be good. His off speed pitch is nasty and one of the best around when he is working in the high 80's, which he was doing and was regularly touching 89. When he he is hitting 88-90 mph, his off speed pitch is really efffective. Last year he was throwing 86 mph regularly and it really hurt him. He used his breaking pitch a bit and if he goes to AAA pitching like his did on Saturday afternoon, he'll put up dominant numbers. If nothing else, he's worn out his welcome with the Mets and at 27, could be solid trade fodder. Cheap and effective, much like Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    Good to see Wright and Galaraga get off the homer schnide and poke opposite field homeruns. The Big Cat did it all and will make Willie and Omar think pretty hard about letting him on the team. If you can get your backup first baseman to come in and hit with power and save the fielders with great digs, that's a great luxury. However, with the Mets most likely carrying twelve pitchers, it is a tough decision. Carlos Beltran is just raking. Hitting over .400 and leading the team in homers, I'm pumped and I'm dreaming of MVP. He has the talent and if the top two guys can get on, he can get the numbers.

    * * *

  • Jason Phillips is not a happy camper, but he should be happy that he will get a chance to start. They are bringing him in because Dioneer Navarro is not quite ready and they are pretty sick of Kaz Ishii.

    Given the disparity in salaries - Phillips will earn roughly $330,000 this season - the Dodgers have agreed to pay a substantial part of Ishii's contract to facilitate the deal, which could be wrapped up today.

    It looks the Mets will not be paying out much cash for Ishii and they only gave up a backup catcher to do it. It's worth a shot. I like Phillips as much as the next guy, but let's be realistic about his upside being 28 years old now. He is not a hot prospect.

  • Mets fans are the best fans for a reason.

    "Maybe they like me. Maybe they wanted to show me they really, really wanted me," said Delgado, who grounded out, lined out and flied out at the right-field wall, all to the delight of 7,053, the largest crowd at Tradition Field since the ballpark opened in 1988.

    "They were singing God Bless America when I came up to the plate in my last at-bat," he said, laughing. "Boy, oh, boy, I love fans."

    Oh we do not like you. In fact, we hate you and your agent.

  • According to Newsday, the Mets have decided not to pursue recently released reliever Billy Koch at this time, according to senior vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette. "Right now, I think we're going to go with the guys we have in camp and give some consideration to that down the road but nothing that's immediate with him," Duquette said.

  • According to the Washington Post:

    Two club sources said the Nationals won't part with lefty Mike Hinckley, the organization's top prospect who'll likely begin the season at Class AA Harrisburg. Other clubs -- the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in particular -- are closely watching outfielder J.J. Davis and third baseman-outfielder Tony Blanco.

  • Buster thinks Roberto Alomar belongs in the hall and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I definitely agree.