The Legend of Zorro
"The dude's been clutch," said Cliff Floyd, who had grounded out as a pinch-hitter with two runners aboard for the final out of the ninth. "Valentin, he's been as important as anyone here all season."
At no point this year could even the person with the most fantastical imagination in the world have predicted Jose Valentin's success this year. Valentin looked horrendous during spring training with a .143 batting average and only one extra base hit and three RBIs in seventeen at-bats. The Mets can say all they want they had faith in him and believed in him, but it looks more like a case of dumb luck.
If you look at his spring training numbers and his at-bats through May 12th, which is just before his breakout Milwaukee series, he was horrible. He was hitting .155 and slugging .172. If you back up into his 2005 season with LA, he was batting .166 and slugging .239 in 205 at-bats when you include this spring and the beginning of the Mets season.
And yet, the Mets stuck with him. The rewards have been huge with a .303 batting average as a starter and a .576 slg%. He is on pace for 19 homers, 26 doubles, and 71 RBIs in 388 at-bats this year and has showed no signs of slowing down. Jose Valentin has become one of the greater mysteries of the world and has made Omar and Willie's blind faith in him look like a stroke of genius, but who cares? Valentin has been just huge for this team.
To this point, the price for the 28-year-old lefthander has been too steep, with Athletics general manager Billy Beane demanding Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman and perhaps even a third prospect - possibly Brian Bannister or John Maine - in return.
Of course, there are conflicting reports that say Zito is not on the market.
Mike Vaccaro is pulling a Jon Heyman and saying Omar should go for Willis or Zito and deal Milledge and Heilman for either one.
Said one observer: "[Maine] has a lot of last-second life on his fastball, same as Zito. His 91 or 92 [mph] looks a lot harder than that to a batter. It creates the illusion of accelerating just as it gets to the plate, which is pretty rare."
He certainly helps to temper everyone’s fears in regards to the rotation and Mr. Billy Wagner thinks Maine and Pelfrey might be the answer if no starter is acquired.
"Unless we get some great deal that's a steal for us, I'm thinking we just hand the ball to those two guys and say, 'go to work.' "
Brian Bannister, who has been out since late April with a hamstring injury, started a rehab assignment with Class A St. Lucie last night. The rookie right-hander threw 83 pitches over five innings and gave up four runs, six hits and four walks.
"We know the price that we need to have from clubs," Bowden told the Times. "The price doesn't change. The price today is the same price it's going to be at the deadline. We don't have to trade anybody."
Bowden back to his old ways. If Soriano can bring you a A/B+ prospect and B prospect do it. You will not get two A/B+ prospects from anyone for a rental. Beltran netted Baird Mark Teahan, Mike Wood, and John Buck. Of course Baird made a horrible deal and refused to take the best prospects and was targeting specific positions, but you get the idea.