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

Saturday, December 03, 2005

You Want Zito? You'll Have to Pay.

There seems to be a common misconception that Barry Zito will not cost Lastings Milledge, the only trading chip left that carries any clout in the Mets system. Billy is looking for either power arms or a power bat from the right handed side. The Mets have Victor Diaz and Xavier Nady, but they would be more of a throw in for any deal made for a player of Zito's stature. Say Milledge/Heilman and Nady/Diaz for Zito. That's more about what it will take for him to come here. I want Zito on this team, but not at the cost of possibly decimating this farm system when there are other viable options that don't have anything to do with getting rid of Lastings Milledge or the increasingly important Aaron Heilman.

Zito has a career line of a 3.50 ERA, 3.43 BB/9, 7.03 K/9, 7.56 H/9, and a 2.05 K/BB and had a BAA of .195, .230, .218, .219, .263, and .221 since he came into the league. He is also a lefty and 27 until this upcoming May. That means he still has a lot of very, very good years ahead of him and has been very impressive so far. If you take out his worst year in 2004, which seems to stick out in everyone's minds more than his entire career, he owns a 3.40 ERA, 3.43 BB/9, 7.04 K/9, 7.41 H/9, and a 2.05 K/BB. Basically the only thing that fluxuated was the amount of hits he gave up and as a result, his ERA ballooned. The guy has pitched in five complete Major League seasons and has been very, very good in three of them, spectacular in one of them, and just alright on the other one, but not horrible. Is he ever going to approach his Cy Young year again? Maybe not, but he still figures to be one of the better starting pitchers in the league for years.

Very good and young lefty pitchers do not come around often and why anyone thinks that Billy Beane will just hand him over for anything less than a blue chip player is beyond me. To get Zito, Milledge or Heilman will have to be the center piece and while some people may not have a problem with dealing either of those two, I think it is an issue. Reuniting him with Rick Peterson seems to be a reason that people point to, but I see a guy who has largely remained the same pitcher without Peterson with one bad year. In 2005, Zito went through a stretch of three months in which he put up a 3.05 ERA, 2.51 ERA, and a 2.13 ERA and was arguably the best pitcher in the league during that time. His resurgence was due in part to Curt Young allowing him to work on a sinker/slider that Rick Peterson thought would have messed up his curveball.

While it would be nice to have Zito on this team, he is going to cost dearly. The Mets have other options at starting pitcher and unless Beane gets knocked over by an offer, what incentive does he have to just take the best deal out of four crappy ones? Imagine the market for a 28 year old left hander at the trade deadline for teams on the cusp. How often can you actually get a bonafide ace that could make a difference at the deadline that usually makes teams overpay for the Jeff Suppan's and Victor Zambrano's of the world. Zito is not coming to Queens without Beane extracting some large return for him. I would just rather see the Mets seek out another option and though I do not fault Omar for at least investigating a worth while player, I do not see how he fits in the big picture. Zito is certainly a good pitcher, but we cannot focus on his Cy Young year as a justification to move one of two guys that figure largely into 2006 and beyond when it is not necessary.

* * *

  • Tejada and Pedro? They are in for the Dominican team if they are healthy at the time. It's good to see the mega stars are on board since they will be the only reason it kind of might work.

  • The Red Sox might get lucky enough for a bidding war as they said there are five teams interested in Manny's bat. We know three of them, but the other two, are a mystery if they even exist. Anyone who thinks the Mets can get this done without paying out the nose is crazy even with the big money involved. There aren't many sluggers out there and desperation causes teams to do crazy things, but the Mets shouldn't be desperate.

    Also from the above NY Post article, the Mets might talk to Burnett's agent as well as Ricardo Rincon's while investigating a deal for Barry Zito.

    The Mets could have some options on the starting pitching front. According to A.J. Burnett's agent, Darek Braunecker, the Mets have not been too aggressive with arguably the off season’s top free-agent pitcher, but the two sides may speak at the meetings.

    "I anticipate talking to them next week, but we haven't really had any ongoing dialogue with them," Braunecker said yesterday.

  • The Nats are eyeing up AJ as it seems a market might seriously start to develop for the right hander and he could end up being another five year, $60 million dollar guy. I think ultimately that will be what it takes to sign him. It is arguable whether or not he's worth it, but we all know how I feel.

  • Oh baby. The Dodgers are gunning for Rafael Furcal and offered him a contract worth $13 million over three years. Talk about busting the market. The idea is give him less years and more money so he can then sign another lucrative free agent contract when his three years is up. It's $10 million less, but as long as he is at least healthy enough to play at the end of his next contract, he should easily eclipse the five year offers by a large amount. Interesting angle that I'm sure Mr. Selig will not like.
  • Friday, December 02, 2005

    It's Friday and I Need Some Beer

    Just as everyone cries fowl on a potential Benson trade, it seems that Omar might receive some more attractive offers from other teams. Since he already got rid of his best trading chip in Mike Cameron, Kris Benson now represents his best option to upgrade the team via trade. One target that should be visited in the coming week would be Orlando Hudson who the Blue Jays are willing to trade and might bite for if they feel they cannot land AJ Burnett. They have some extra capital to spend and are in the market for starting pitching so there is a potential, though unlikely, deal there. Hudson just won his first Gold Glove last season and had a solid year at the plate and would provide possibly the best up the middle defense in the league with Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.

    Of course, Omar still has his eye on the prize. He is still dreaming sugar plum dreams of one Manny Ramirez smashing homeruns at Shea Stadium. The Phillies are seeming less and less likely due to the fact that they need starting pitching, but there is potential for a three way deal involving the Mets, Red Sox, and Phillies in theory since the Sox are also looking to possibly move Matt Clement and the Mets are looking to move Benson. Benson or Clement for Abreu straight up does not necessarily work since I think Abreu is worth more, but I would leave that to the powers that be to figure out how to make it all work. The Phillies are reluctant to add too much salary over Abreu, so it actually still gives them financial wiggle room for other moves since it saves them about $5 million in 2006.

    * * *

  • Furcal is drawing significant interested from the Dodgers and that is just fine and dandy with me. Both the Cubs and the Dodgers are dangling five year offers close to $50 million and that is too rich for the Braves' blood at this point. One of these days, the Braves will finish below first and I just hope I'm alive to see it.

    In part II of good news in the NL East, the Phillies closed a deal with Tom Gordon for three years, $18 million.

    In part III of good news in the NL East, the Marlins are still looking to deal Luis Castillo and the Twins appear to be hot for him.

    In part IV of the good news in the NL East, the Marlins are looking to deal Juan Pierre to the Yankees and the Marlins asked for Sean Henn and Scott Proctor and that deal was not rejected. Of course if not the Yankees, the Rangers are also in the mix for Pierre's services. Basically, he'll have a new home either way you shake it.

    I know you have to actually play the games, but the NL East is looking weaker than it did last season with one team head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Farnsworth is close to a deal with the Yankees, but not quite done yet. It seems the Yankees could be dealing in a bit of funny business in an effort to save a draft pick. It's been done before and who doubts the most hated franchise in baseball would be out to screw the little guy again.

  • What to do with Aaron. What to do indeed. I vote bullpen. I think he can be a good starter, but he was absolutely devastating in the bullpen.

  • The Mets are interested in Dotel and that is fine by me. The Mets need to start using their money on risky stuff like this since they can absorb the risk. The article also echoes the idea that the Mets are interested in Javier Vazquez and Barry Zito.
  • Thursday, December 01, 2005

    What's Up Next?

    The merits of another pitcher vs. a starting catcher are debatable, but I'm going to assume there is a minority out there that actually favors a catcher rather than another pitcher. I'm all for the Mets going with the cheaper option at catcher and hedge their bets with starting pitching. The Mets are deep in starting pitching and that is the best adjective for their rotation. That is not a bad thing necessarily either since I think this team can hang with everyone, but why not throw down a trump card? When playoff time comes and if the Mets are in it, Seo, Benson, Glavine, and Trachsel are who will potentially be tossed out there if everything remains as it is today. Who do you explicitly trust beyond Pedro? Glavine has been there and could rise to the occasion, though his last trip to the playoffs was a forgettable one. Benson has yet to prove he can go an entire season without getting dead arm at the end of it. Trachsel should be in the bullpen come playoff time at this point in his career. Seo could develop into a nice number three and could emerge as the Mets second best and consistent starter. Is the rotation bad? Obviously not. However, I think they need to be deeper. You are not sure what will happen with Pedro's shoulder and if he goes through a stretch throwing 86 mph again, especially at playoff time, what do the Mets do? Can they compete?

    Probably not. Furthermore, when teams get to the playoffs, they sometimes ride their ace with less than regular rest and try and fit them in as many times as possible. That is not a luxury the Mets have with Pedro and that is the reason they need to rethink their current direction. Can the Mets afford another starter and a nice new free agent catcher in Molina or Hernandez? Probably, but the Mets need to maintain payroll flexibility for the future. Bad contracts, injuries, having to eat salaries, young players coming into arbitration years, etc. Yes, they will have more money from the network, but that does not mean they couldn't be knee deep in bad contracts in two years precluding them from fielding the team they should be able too. Ideally for me, the Mets are at about $115 to $120 million for 2006. That is an $11 bump from last years $109 million dollar payroll and with the new network launching, I do not think that is out of the question. Afterall, they were willing to go that high when they tried to snag Delgado last year. They might be able to spend $130 million, but having the money doesn't necessarily mean you need to spend it. The Mets still may be interested in Javier Vazquez if they can shed Benson's salary and that is great. If they can do that, all the more power. But should they even stop there? Should they still not look into AJ Burnett and get together the best 1-2-3 punch in the league?

    There are benefits to either Hernandez or Molina, but they certainly do not outweigh the benefits of deeper rotation. The Mets could potentially have three number ones since they can obviously buy AJ and they can most likely work a deal out for Vazquez. Payroll management is key to long term success and works hand in hand with production from your farm system. As weak as it is, there is still promising young guys with high ceilings. I would love Omar to pull off a shrewd move as it relates to the catching position and hedge their bets with the starting rotation. Why not Javier and AJ? If Pedro went down or experienced the same arm tiredness that contributed to him not being able to top 90 mph last year, the Mets would still have a World Series caliber team. Though it probably will never happen, there is merit to the idea of focusing on those two starting pitchers and shooting for the stars, which Omar is getting me accustomed to. I think this offense has the juice to produce some runs and the focus should be remaining on the rotation and the bullpen. One more catcher with good defense to share some time with Castro and more arms will give this team exactly what it needs and at a reasonable payroll.

    * * *

  • Wagner's contract terms...

    Wagner's four-year, $43-million contract has incentives including a $25,000 bonus for making the All-Star team, $100,000 for Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, $50,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 for NLCS MVP. He also will receive $4 million up front for the purchase of a house, according to the AP ... The Mets are accepting deposits for season tickets and ticket plans for 2006 at Mets.com or by calling 718-565-4348. Single-game tickets go on sale in late February.

  • Manny's destinations look like either the Angels or the Phillies. Here's to hoping he goes to the Angels.

  • Benson for Julio? It's more or less a salary dump and the guy is under control for 2006 and 2007. I have to say, I'm not against this. If it goes down, it certainly fills the void in the bullpen a bit more and since he will not be the main guy unless Heilman moves back into the rotation. Hopefully this has no bearing on whether or not the Mets can still land Vazquez, but we will see how Omar approaches the rotation in the coming days.

  • Giles strikes a deal tentatively with the Padres which for three years $30 million dollars. Seems like a fair deal all around to me for the 35 year old Giles.

  • Dayn Perry thinks that Billy Wanger will not return overall value on his contract, which I don't agree with, and thinks that the Mets should sign Jacque Jones to platoon with Nady or Diaz. Very interesting stuff on Jones, but I'm not sure that is necessary. I guess it really boils down to how much he will cost and for how many years.

  • The Mets are standing by Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge and view them as large parts of their future.

    "There's nothing -- no one -- we have in mind that we think will require us to move either [Heilman or Milledge]," another person said. "We think we can make the moves we want without hurting ourselves at other positions."

    That's what is being said for now anyway.

  • Oooooo baby. Kyle Farnsworth looks like he is getting four years, $24 million from the Yankees. Anyone else need any more reasons why Heilman is not going anywhere?

  • Anyone notice that Matt Peterson has dropped out of the Pirates top 10 prospects list and is at risk of becoming a ‘non-prospect’ according to John Peratto of Baseball America. Seems that he cannot find the strike zone with any consistency and it is killing him. Matt Durkin is trying to do his best his best Matt Peterson impression and needs to straighten himself out sooner rather than later.
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Gulp, gulp, gulp...

    What does gulp, gulp, gulp mean? Well, if you listened to the Mike and the Mad Dog Show yesterday you would know. I've never seen such a display of....um....affection from Mike and the Mad Dog in my life toward the Mets. I had to check the calendar to make sure it was not April 1st and I had my friend punch me in the stomach to make sure I was not dreaming the entire deal. Bringing in Mr. Bill Wagner (as Carlos Delgado affectionately calls him) shortly after reeling in Delgado has brought out the good side of the usually dim witted duo. Of course they had to add in their off base comments like Met fans can never say the Yankees buy their championships because of their new found desire to buy everyone and anyone amongst other off base opinions, but I would like to point out they are still about nine Mr. Billy Wagner's off of their payroll.

    They then went on to talk about how the Mets asserted themselves as a relevant baseball team in New York and that this was not the Yankees town anymore. Of course I could care less what they say, but it goes a long way in showing how the perception of the Mets has changed. They have gone from the red headed step child, the junior varsity team, second class citizens, etc. all by spending a few hundred million dollars and handing out no trade clauses like condoms at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. As the newest Met and good 'ole boy Billy Wagner said, "if you win in New York, you are remembered forever". The only thing left for this team to do is actually do that.

    * * *

  • With the Indians poised to sign Trevor Hoffman, the Phillies eyeing Tom Gordon, not many scraps for the Braves to chew on in terms of closers, and the Cubs making progress with Furcal, life is looking pretty good these days in the NL East for Met fans.

  • From ESPN.com, there was some impressive information.
    Lowest career opponents BA among active pitchers*
    Billy Wagner .183
    Armando Benitez .187
    Troy Percival .187
    Pedro Martinez .208
    Trevor Hoffman .208
    *Minimum 500 IP
    Not bad and the Mets have two of them. Of course Armando Benitez being on this list is possibly damning to any good points that can be taken out of this, but whatever.

  • Since I did not post yesterday, I did not get a chance to print this gem, but it was at Metsgeek.com which I will assume everyone checks regularly.

    Jeff Wilpon admitted as much when he said, "We want to create something exciting on the field instead of waiting for the minor-leaguers to produce."

    Oh, baby. Even if you think it, keep it to yourself.

  • Who doesn't like Mike?

    "Good gracious, they're going to have a good team. Aren't they?"
    --Erstwhile Mets outfielder Mike Cameron, reflecting on New York's trade for Carlos Delgado

    "I like where I'm going [San Diego], and I'm in center field again. But I'll be watching for those New York Mets."

    Hopefully he wins a gold glove this year and does it all for San Diego.

    The other two quotes from Baseball Prospectus' This Week in Quotes that stand out are from David Wright and BJ Ryan.

    "It's not fun. It's almost like a cartoon, the ball is in the mitt before you see it. And the difference between Billy and a lot of closers is that he throws inside. And when he throws that slider of his that looks like a fastball, before you know it, it buries in on your back foot. No, it's not fun at all."
    --Mets third baseman David Wright, on facing free agent closer Billy Wagner (New York Post)

    Nicey nice.

    "Bo Junior. After my dad. That's just straight redneck-ology, right there."
    --Free agent B.J. Ryan, on how his given name "Robert Victor" became "B.J."

  • The Orioles were the highest bidder on Paul Konerko and submitted a five year, $65 million offer, but it was rejected. Despite being the highest number of years and the most money, he appears to be leaning towards the Angels and White Sox. I doubt the White Sox are going to retain him especially after they brought in Jim Thome as insurance.

  • IF Derek Jeter moved from shortstop to center field next season, he would win a Gold Glove within a year, Bobby Murcer said yesterday.

    No he wouldn't. He will not get the chance, but he would never win a Gold Glove within a year and probably never ever ever. Sure Jeter is athletic, but there are a lot of athletic people in this league.

  • Manny is selling his pad and the same David Ortizzle that said that Pedro "ain't gonna be no Met" says that Manny will not be back in Beantown in 2006.

  • Braden Looper said he would return to set up Wagner, but it's unclear if that's an option for the Mets. "Is he in the mix? I have to sit down and talk to the agent," Minaya said. "He's not out of the mix."

    I'm torn. I think Looper could be useful, but he certainly would not be the main set-up man.

  • The Mets also have made pitcher Roberto Hernandez an offer to return, Minaya said. "It's in their hands," Minaya said. One of Hernandez's reps, Randy Hendricks, wrote in an E-mail, "There is really nothing to comment on at this time."

    Once again, I'm torn. He's old so you don't know if you are going to get what you did last year out of him and he represents a possible first round pick if someone else signs him and the Mets offer him arbitration. The Mets can ink Dotel and offer Bert and Looper arbitration and hope they go elsewhere. If they don't, the Mets have a mighty expensive, but effective bullpen.
  • Monday, November 28, 2005

    Slow to the Punch

    Yes, I've been incommunicado for a last two hours and had no idea the Mets signed Billy Wagner. Since 1980, the Mets finished in first place only twice and went to the playoffs only four times. As of now, the Mets, behind aggressive the GM work of Omar Minaya, went out and addressed the two biggest needs for the Mets from this past season. They got the big bat (and clubhouse leader to boot) and the electric arm to close games out. As things stand now, the Mets have the second best team in the National League when I look through my Mets colored glasses and I do realize that not everyone is done dealing yet and that includes the Mets. If the Mets do what a lot of people want and go for AJ Burnett and add a reliever, they could arguably have the best team on paper in the National League. Of course, you could make a case for why the Mets have the best team in the NL right now, but I'm happy just being regarded at the top and letting everyone play the games.

    As Will said in the comments the other day when Delgado was signed, Willie just became a 'better' manager. Today, Willie just became a 'much better' manager. Something tells me he will 'improve' a lot more by the time all is said and done. Of course, all these moves guarantee nothing as the Yankees will tell you, but the Mets are putting themselves in prime position to be the team to beat. Really not much else to add here but fucking swell. Four years?FUCKING SWELL! Billy Wagner is a Met, the Phillies Plan B will be pitching north of the border, and all is right in Queens. Now, if everyone can convince Omar to ease up on Manny and perhaps trade some starting pitching for another bat or trade them for prospects to be used for another bat while wrapping up AJ Burnett by Christmas, I think it could be argued that the Mets topped one of the best off seasons in history last year with this year’s effort. You can call it what you want and say throwing money around is not so impressive, but what Omar has done here is impressive considering the shape this team was in and the stigma attached to this team and it’s front office. Don't expect a post tomorrow. I'll be hung over after celebrating the week us Met fans have had.

    Some Good News and Some Bad News

    The good news first. Omar Minaya sets his sights sky high and sees no reason why he cannot get any player and go for any deal.

    The bad news. Omar is still has visions of Manny Ramirez as a Met. This is a loaded issue for me because there is not one person in their right mind that would not love to Manny on their team knocking RBIs in left and right.

    Mets and Red Sox execs have agreed to discuss Manny Ramirez at the winter meetings in Dallas in early December, and Omar Minaya recently told one baseball person, "I'm going for it."

    Of course the bad might outweigh the good. Right now, if the Mets can ink Billy Wagner and net one more middle reliever, I like the current team. Of course, I would love for them to explore AJ Burnett, but if nothing else happened, I think this team still has put themselves into the upper echelon of the NL. Getting Manny is complicated because the Mets traded Mike Cameron already and are left with not much help for the Red Sox by way of Major League talent. Of course the Mets can always throw in a starting pitcher or perhaps even Cliff Floyd, though I doubt the Red Sox would be that interested. However, the main cogs of any deal with Boston would likely be Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge.

    They will not be the only two players mind you, just the two main pieces. With the Mets not being able to net a left reliever and Heilman's success against lefties in 2005 coupled with the fact that he figures to be the main set up man for whomever is closing is a bad thing. With relievers escalating salaries and the Cubs throwing the market out of whack for once and not a New York team, Heilman's worth has soared through the roof. It has also been no secret that the Red Sox like Lastings Milledge and would probably require him back in any deal now that Petit and Cameron have left the organization.

    I am all for adding more offense, but at what cost? It is already something that I feel is adequate given their potential pitching staff and the Mets already have a possible murderer's row with Beltran, Delgado, Wright, and Floyd. Those four guys are going to provide a lot of pop for this Met team. Would Manny help? You would dumb to say no, but at what damage to the future of this club? Getting Manny would also necessitate moving payroll. That means the current makeup of this team is going to look very, very different. Maybe Floyd gets moved for prospects or players to get back Manny, maybe Kaz gets half his salary picked up to make some room, Cameron's salary is already off the books, maybe Minaya can move Benson, etc. However, one has to wonder what, if anything, will be left after the next flurry of moves in terms of youth.

    When Minaya took over, he stated his vision to infuse homegrown players with free agents. However, the Mets and Minaya have seemed to enter a full win now mode despite the fact they could have a nice balance of win now mentality and keep their best position prospect in Lastings Milledge to form a core of Wright, Reyes, and Milledge for years to come. The Mets may have a lot of money coming to them, but to sustain yourself financially, you need to have young and productive talent. Having big ticket items will get you where the Yankees are today. No help on the farm coming soon and tons of bloated contracts that you cannot move. If Delgado is part of this deal, so be it. That would certainly lessen the blow. However, I do not think that is the direction Minaya is going in. I see this as being a blood bath for something that is not a necessity for this team. Again, if Minaya wants to further improve this offense, try a guy like Brian Giles who will not cost you that young talent. I may sound like a broken record, but this Met team seems to be on the right track. Why throw that off?

    * * *

  • The second biggest topic of the day is how Ryan's $9.4 million a year will affect teams negotiations with Billy Wagner. It is obviously bad and now rumblings of Wagner possibly getting five years is surfacing. Given the age difference, I cannot see a team going five, but if the Mets lock him in for four guaranteed and the Phillies match, things could get ugly. They could get ugly fast.

  • The Mets chasing Jose Valentin? One question. Why?

  • Looks like not much has changed in Tampa despite the new GM.

    While negotiating with free-agent catchers Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina, the Mets also have held trade discussions with Tampa Bay about catcher Toby Hall. The Mets have offered a package headed by young second baseman Anderson Hernandez; the Devil Rays want pitcher Aaron Heilman.

    Um, not happening. Has anyone been watching this off season with good middle relief?