I'm Alive and Kicking
I am alive and kicking and loving Omar's moves so far. He balked at Willie's outlandish request for salary and years of employment (more on that later), he picked up an athletic outfielder who happens to be right-handed, a useful bullpen arm, a hard throwing lefty, two more possible useful bullpen arm, and a guy who pees on his hands and fits perfectly into next year's plans.
The Mets undoubtedly got older with the addition of Moises Alou and his defense may indeed be weeker than Floyd's, but the terms of one year deal for $8 million and a team option is just perfect. His line against lefties from '04 to '06 is .337/.403/.615 and his overall line is .304/.371/.548 with 82 doubles, 80 homers, and 243 RBIs. Though he has not exactly been the pinnacle of health over the past two years, he does nothing but produce while he is playing.
The reality of it is, Lastings Milledge is only 21 years old and does not turn 22 until April. He has only had 1293 at-bats of minor league ball and has not set any level on fire. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but he is simply not ready. Buying him an extra year gives him time to really work on his skills and earn his way up to Queens rather than just get there by injury. I've said it before and I'll say it again, making Lastings play for a spot on the Mets roster is good for him. I still believe in him, but he needs more time.
When Omar traded Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens, he got back Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas. In other words, a great deal. I liked Henry Owens and was intrigued as much as the next guy, but the Mets already had a full pen and managed to turn two relievers nearing 30 for two 23 year old lefties and one who can throw his fastball in the 91-94 mph range. Vargas is the type of guy you want in the hands of Rick Peterson. In a way, the trade satisfies both teams’ needs and gives Lindstrom and Owens a chance to pitch in the bigs next year. Whether or not they will be effective is another question. As for Vargas, the upside is there and this is one of those little moves that Omar does that we will be thanking him later for.
In addition to the above moves, Omar nabbed Jason Standridge after getting Jon Adkins in the Ben Johnson deal. Again, Omar is just looking to throw as much crap against the wall to see what sticks and really, you cannot argue with results. It worked out well last year and Rick Peterson seems to have and endless line of mediocre relievers that he turned into effective ones. Omar has already made a lot of very shrewd moves and it is not even December yet. Omar is basically getting his team in place so he can concentrate on the truly big pieces of the off-season in top notch rotation arms.
It is clear the Mets are after Zito and with the insane money going out to Soriano, Pierre, and Gary Matthew Jr. (I do not think anyone will call Beltran overpaid anymore) and the eventual insane dollars throw at Carlos Lee, the Mets are going to pay. I truly think Zito wants in on this Met team. With the Peterson factor, the spacious outfield for a flyball pitcher, the lack of a DH, and the fact that the Mets are building something truly special, this is the team to be on for the next five or six years, which would coincidently be the length of Zito's next contract. If Zito wants to get paid and get to win, New York is the place for him to be.
As for Glavine, the Mets have a huge need in the rotation. They simply cannot wait for him to gallivant around the world and mull his precious future. That money could be spent on Zito with more money out there to spend on another arm. As Glavine is mulling over what is best for him, the Mets should contemplate what is best for their team. Ultimately Glavine will be able to do what he wants as Wilpon will simply let him, but I do not think Glavine affects how Omar will attack this off-season. He will assume Pedro and Glavine will not be back and go about things that way. If Pedro comes back healthy? Great. If Glavine wants to return? The Wilpons will extend the team's payroll to fit him in and take that one year hit. I'm growing tired of his game, but it is what it is. I'd rather let him walk at this point, but that will not happen.
So far the off-season has been a resounding success. I thought he overpaid for The Duque a bit at first, but I guess things do not look quite so bad now that serious bucks have been flying around. The Mets had the best off-season of any team the past two off-seasons and the early returns are that Omar might be going for the hat-trick. I truly see Zito on this team and I also think the Mets will bring in one more arm be it via trade or just another free agent. At what point does the Mets rotation become overcrowded with Humber, Pelfrey, Bannister, Maine, Perez, Pedro, possibly Zito, possibly another arm, The Duque, Vargas, and the ever looming Glavine possibility? I think Omar is welcoming that with problem with open arms.
"Lastings is as much in our plans for '07 as he is for '08, '09 and beyond" Minaya said. "What this does is it allows Lastings to play, whether it's at the major leagues or wherever ... and gives us the opportunity that we don't have to feel like Lastings has to be that righthanded-hitting run producer at 23 years old."
I'm not going to cry if he is dealt for the right player or players, but I would like to see him at AAA next year hitting in the PCL. Not only should it be a confidence boost to pad his numbers, but his value should be vastly increased after '07 and he'll still only be 22 after completing his second full year at AAA. It really is not unreasonable to see Lastings and Gomez work on their skills at AAA in '07 and '08 as well.
As for trading Milledge for the right players, John Patterson, Jon Rauch, and Jason Bergman do not qualify as such.
"Bowden is trying to sell the Mets on a John Patterson for Lastings Milledge deal, which the Mets have flatly refused."
New York does have interest in Patterson, Jon Rauch and New Jersey's Jason Bergmann, but certainly not for Milledge, whose value may have lowered, but “not that low”.
I like Patterson a lot, but the reality of it is, he's hit 198.1 innings once in his life in the bigs and never topped 100 in any other season. In fact, if you add up 2003, 2004, and 2006, they still do not total his career high of 198.1. Also, as good as Rauch looked last year, trading Lastings for very good set-up man and a injury prone guy who has talent but one good year is borderline insane. If Bowden wants to work out some other deal great, but one including Milledge just reinforces everyone's belief that Bowden is one of the dumbest GMs in the league.