Cliffy, Platoon Candidate?
Yesterday, Damien took a look at Cliff Floyd and what we can reasonably be able to expect from him this upcoming season. The basic premise, if you had not checked it out, was that Cliff was in a steady decline prior to the 2005 season and his 2005 season was so out of line with the direction he was headed, that it can only be viewed as an anomaly. That is all well and fine, but Cliff was in steep decline from pre-all star to post all-star. Pre-all star, he hit 22 homers in 300 at-bats and only 12 in his next 250 at-bats.
I could not agree more with Damien and his thoughts on Cliff. Floyd is probably going to be good for about 22 homers in 2006 should he even log enough at-bats too. In 2005, he hit a homer every 13.6 at-bats in his first 300 at-bats and a homer once in every 25 at-bats in the second half. His second half numbers would keep in line with his decline over the years and I think it is a fair assessment that Cliff will not be the Cliff of early 2005, but it will not matter anyway. The Mets will be better offensively because of the fact they have a better team offensively this year and they simply will not be relying as heavily on him as they did last year. The only problem is that I hope Willie realizes Floyd's place on the team and bats him accordingly. He was being counted on to anchor the offense last year long after he started to not shoulder the load.
While Floyd still stands to be a valuable player on this team, no one expects him to play 150 games again. He will be providing great protection for whoever is in front of him because no one wants to make a mistake to him because he can and will make them pay. Albeit, not as often as the first half of 2005, but he should not be batting in front of David Wright in the lineup and should bat no higher than fifth if Beltran is batting second, which he will not be the case, and no higher than sixth if Beltran is batting third and Wright batting fifth. Floyd was undoubtedly the MVP of the team for the first half of the year and immensely helped the team top mediocre by two games, but the chances of him repeating such a solid year is unlikely. A .265/.350/.460 line with 22 homers and 85 RBIs sounds about right and with all the talk about a righty/righty platoon in rightfield, it almost makes more sense to have the at-bats shared in left with a Nady/Floyd platoon to give him the most rest and perhaps optimize the team's output. We'll see how it all shakes out and hopefully Victor Diaz forces the issue by coming to St. Lucie raking.
Iriki, a 32-year-old righty who spent last year with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, will get a one-year deal which also includes a team option, the source said. The deal, which is pending a physical today, is worth slightly less than $1 million and also includes approximately $500,000 in potential incentives, according to the source.
Though he did not even start one game in 2005, he is expected to be able to start or come out of the bullpen. In 2005, he posted a 6-7 record with no saves, a 3.35 ERA, 122 K's in 150.2 innings, and walked 65 in 150.2 innings. For his career, he is 35-35 with three saves and a 3.73 ERA and has struck out more batters than innings pitched twice in his career with both of those years coming in his first two years. He gave up a homer to Slammin' Sammy during the MLB All-Star tour off Japan in 1998 and struck him out in his next at bat. Interestingly enough, the Ham Fighters are interested in Kaz Ishii. In the end, with a seemingly already crowded bullpen, it is strange for the Mets to hand out a Major League contract guaranteeing him a spot to start the season off at least when he was no where near dominant in Japan and probably figures to be cut at some point during the season if history is any indicator of the future. Heath, it was nice knowing you. I doubt you will be in the bullpen when the team comes north to start the season.
Maybe the Mets can get a Japanese signing right and ink Daisuke Matsuzaka, who's nickname is "the monster", when his time comes. In two years, he will be eligible to come to the states at 28 years old. In 2005, he posted a career low of 2.30 ERA in 215 innings with 226 k's to a measly 49 walks. He boasts a mid 90's fastball and is probably going to be the best Japanese pitcher ever to come over to the states if/when he does finally arrive. Not many people from Japan are worth throwing millions and millions at for buying out contracts, but he is one of them.
I am not a Victor Zambrano fan, and I would be perfectly happy just letting him fade away into oblivion on some other team's roster. He is a mediocre pitcher with natural ability but terrible mechanics and I have no reason to believe that he will ever be an above-average big league pitcher, or even a consistently-mediocre one. He is not an awful pitcher, and is probably worth the $3 million the Mets will pay him this year, but the Mets would be wise to keep him on a short leash. Should he struggle early on as a starter (assuming that's where he slots in) the Mets should waste no time in banishing him to the bullpen or to Triple-A and replacing him with someone like Brian Bannister.
I like Zambrano. I like watching him because he could be downright nasty at times, but his tenure with the Mets coming to an end is something I look forward too as he serves solely as a painful reminder to me at this point.