Arms Race in the AL East
Danny Kolb for Jae Seo....
Dany Baez for Edwin Jackson (post top prospect status) and Chuck Tiffany...
Mike MacDougal for Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortez...
Danny Kolb for Jose Capellan....
Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, and Julian Cordero for Carlos Lee (1/2 year rental) and Nelson Cruz...
Bob Wickman for Max Ramirez...
It is very hard to put a price on closers. While I would not call Mike Gonzalez a premium closer, he is certainly effective and has the upside to become a premium closer. However, in an off-season where available closers are nil and the Boston Red Sox need a closer like I need self respect, it is certainly interesting how the Yankees simply need to give up Melky Cabrera to attain him. For the Pirates, they are getting a 32 homer guy from the left side of the plate. Typically, that type of deal doesn't get done straight up as that bat would be more valuable than the closer, so the fact that they might give up something additional is not surprise.
However, the rumor is that the Pirates are throwing in Nate McLouth or Jose Castillo to the Braves to complete this three-way deal. So, if you are keeping score... The Yankees get a good closer who will be setting up Mariano, could close if needed there, throws hard, and uses his left hand to throw the baseball and held lefties to a .163 BAA. Shit, he held righties to a .227 BAA. The Pirates get a first baseman who is not stellar, but smacked 32 homers last year, twenty the year before, and has major league bloodlines, which does count for something. The Braves? Possibly two marginal outfielders or a marginal outfielder and a decent second baseman.
From an NL East standpoint, I love it. The Braves are a worse team for this deal if it does go down. From an anti-Yankee standpoint, I hate to see yet another brilliant deal by Brian Cashman go down. If this rumor is true, Cashman is praying this deal goes down and no one realizes they are getting an absolute steal. The Yankees should be giving the Pirates another decent prospect or at the very least, Scott Proctor. This deal as currently structured would cap off what would be an off-season that has been an eleven on a one to ten scale of shrewdness for Yankees. Dishing off payroll and extra players that they had no use for and got back valuable commodities. If you are the Yankees, you come off smelling like roses and clearly get the best of this deal.
I'm not saying it's a bad deal, just a weird one. Brandon McCarthy and David Pisano for John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jacob Rasner?
After trading Freddy Garcia to free up a rotation spot for Brandon McCarthy, he deals him for more of an unknown. McCarthy was the type of cheap and solid pitcher Kenny Williams was just saying the White Sox valued as Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't believe in giving pitches more than three years. McCarthy didn't cost anything and was still under control for a while and has plenty of big league appearances under his belt. Of course, this all really depends on how much the White Sox did value McCarthy. Obviously they feel that Masset + Danks is greater than McCarthy. It does also seem like a lot to give up for a flyball pitcher on the Rangers end, but their rotation of Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, and possibly Mulder would leave them with a formidable rotation. Hard to really get a read on this one because at face value, the White Sox took themselves out of contention at least in '07 with the moves they made, but may pay off in the long run while the Ranges just weakened their system and gave away two cheap pitchers for one to get more of a known quantity in their rotation for opening day. With the trouble the Ranges have in luring pitchers to their team while not overpaying really makes me wonder why they would give up two solid arms. We'll see how this one plays out as it seems to early to really judge this one.
The quote of the day goes to Jon Daniels in regards to the Rangers pursuit of Barry Zito...
"I don't want to get into specifics about our discussions other than to say that I'm not terribly encouraged about our chances," Daniels said on a conference call. "Regardless of whether or not we felt we were going to be able to sign somebody like Barry, we would have made this deal. This is about the future with Brandon."
It could be posturing, but with the move to get McCarthy and Mulder having it down to the Rangers and the Cardinals, I tend to believe him. It is possible Barry is staying true to his desire to win multiple championships and knowing his best fit is with the Mets. They could solely be trying to hash out the numbers with the Mets and just saying "let's get this thing done". More importantly though, it takes the only guy most likely out of the equation that would just drop silly amounts of dollars and trump everyone else.
1. Fernando Martinez, OF, A- (tools and youth, just needs refinement)
2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP, Grade A- (I think the breaking pitch problem is overblown. He had a good one in college and I think he'll find it again. I am sticking with my guns on this one)
3. Phil Humber, RHP, B+ (Many prefer him over Pelfrey, I like both)
4. Carlos Gomez, OF, B (great tools, but I'm not sure about his power)
5. Jon Niese, LHP, B- (projectable lefty is a personal favorite)
6. Deolis Guerra, RHP, B- (live arm, a long way away)
7. Kevin Mulvey, RHP, B- (accidently left off first list)
8. Joe Smith, RHP, B- (impressive reliever could advance fast)
9. Mike Carp, 1B, B- (developing power bat to watch)
10. Alay Soler, RHP C+ (Cuban defector looks better as a reliever to me than a starter)
First, any system that is nine deep in 'B' prospect is doing pretty good. What this means is they have the depth to retain plenty of skill and make some of the mid-level trades that are needed during the season. Lately, the Mets system has lacked that middle depth of their system to get those deals done. Second, good to see that comment about Pelfrey and I do think the Mets have two live ones on their hands that will be ready on short order in Pelfrey and Humber. Third, they still have guys that are intriguing like Henry, Garcia, Stoner, Nall, Martin, and Junior Contreras, who took a bit of a step back in '07.
For some reason, Mets fans tend to get very defensive about their farm system, likely a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from trades over the last few years. Face it guys: this system has three strong prospects at the top, four or five more who are interesting but have question marks, then a whole bunch of guys who are only marginal right now.
Now, I have to disagree here, which I'm sure is no surprise. While his statement has some merit, it needs to be stated that they still have Milledge, Wright, and Reyes who will be under control for while and still have Maine, Heilman, Sanchez, and Oliver Perez under control for a while. Add into the mix their top three prospects, who are as can't miss as prospect can be, and their four through nine prospects, the Mets are impressive. Not as impressive as the cream of the crop systems, but no other team has the Major League core that is so proven at such a young age. 99% of the teams out there also do not have more than three 'can't miss' prospects and Sickels is making it sound like the Mets are one of the few teams who only have three blue chippers. Plenty have zero! While they are still a bottom fifteen system, there are other mitigating factors which make me overlook their system's faults. Namely the players above. Frankly, I'm ecstatic about where this team's system is after looking absolutely horrible two years ago and there are plenty of intriguing names and extremely talented players to keep an eye on that could keep this system on the upturn throughout next year and beyond.