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

Friday, January 13, 2006

Trip Down Memory Lane Part II: A Look Back At My Obbsession

After calling Sherman out for a horrendous plan, it is only fair that I look back at myselfl. If you came here in the off season last year, you would know that Magglio was the big position player that I was fully endorsing them getting last year. Of course that was because Carlos Beltran seemed unattainable to me and the Mets had a centerfielder, but I was taken to matt and beat up over that. I also thought the Mets needed a solid middle of the order bat and with a vacancy in right field, saw him as a very good fit. Magglio is also a more accomplished all around hitter than Beltran in my eyes and in line with what the Mets needed, though Beltran was a better overall player when taking into account his speed and fielding ability.

Of course, the rest is history and Beltran became a Met. I loved the signing then and I still think it was a good signing and they guy is going to produce in his time in Queens. However, someone emailed me the other day and brought it up that I must be glad that that deal did not go down. Of course Magglio only played 82 games last year, but that got my juices flowing. Knowing what I know now and how things worked out last year, am I really happy it didn't go down? That is debatable.

A healthy Magglio going forward in 2006 (is that even possible), with Mike Cameron in centerfield, with this same team, Lastings having a full year to groom himself to become Mike Cameron's successor, and a few extra millions in Wilpons pocket with a short contract sure seems like good idea to me now even still. As disappointing as Magglio was last year getting injured again, he still hit. His eight homers seem paltry, but Comerica is worse on righties than Shea and he had a 2/6 home and road split for the long ball. In a perfect world, I'm still not sure Magglio was the better fit over a five year period. This is all of course predicated upon Ordonez finding a way to stay on the field in 2006, but signing Magglio over Beltran would not exactly been the end of the world and could very possibly of been a better fit for this team even today.

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  • Seaver is done broadcasting for the Mets and not many people are unhappy about that, but I actually liked him. Maybe because he was the best Met player ever in terms of career achievements, but I thought he did a good job.

  • Nick Peters has a nice article on spending and baseball if you didn't catch it yesterday.

    In light of a fourth-place finish, the extravagance may seem foolish, yet the Mets improved from 71-91 to 83-79 despite a sub par year from Beltran. So Minaya did it again this winter in hopes of an even greater improvement and a division title.

    Besides a $43-million deal for new closer Billy Wagner, he acquired slugger Carlos Delgado and $7 million to defray the $48 million owed on his contract.

    They also took advantage of the Florida fire sale by adding catcher Paul Lo Duca.

    I'm not sure the Mets took advantage of anyone with the LoDuca deal, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

    Winter winners ...
    1. New York Mets - Best National League team money can buy.
    2. Los Angeles Dodgers - Fill holes with proven veterans.
    3. Toronto Blue Jays - With open wallet, they add four key elements.
    4. Chicago White Sox - Champs wisely get stronger for repeat try.
    5. A's - Gain Bradley and Loaiza without big losses.
    6. San Diego Padres - Huge turnover for mediocre division champs.
    7. New York Yankees - Add Damon, eliminate lots of dead wood.
    8. Giants - Replace losses, add bench ... and Bonds.

    ... and wipeouts
    1. Florida Marlins - Massive salary dump: six regulars, two aces.
    2. St. Louis Cardinals - Second year of key losses might prove costly.
    3. Los Angeles Angels - Where has Moreno's money gone?
    4. Boston Red Sox - Chemistry of 2004 miracle gone in one year.
    5. Baltimore Orioles - They hope losing Sosa, Ponson a blessing.
    6. Arizona Diamondbacks - Gains don't seem to outweigh losses.
    7. Atlanta Braves - Loss of Furcál, pitching coach could end title reign.
    8. Philadelphia Phillies - Bullpen takes big hit with loss of Wagner.

    Can't argue with that. The Mets had the best off season in baseball for the second year in a row. Now they just have to win.

  • "When I'm home, in Virginia or New York, I can get plenty of swings and plenty of time in the gym, but it doesn't feel like baseball season," Wright said. "But when you come to Florida it gets you focused. You're around the guys again in the clubhouse. It's the way your spikes feel when they dig into the ground. It feels like baseball season."

    With camp starting, baseball season is around the corner. This winter seems a lot longer than last year's winter to me.

  • No one writes more about Mets' broadcasting than Bob Raissman and he has a good read on Keith Hernandez.

    The conversation took place three years ago. Jim Kaat, one of the finest baseball TV analysts, was talking about Keith Hernandez.

    "Keep watching that guy," Kaat said. "He just keeps getting better."
  • Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Trip Down Memory Lane

    Sometimes people like us casual fans and writers think they know more than GMs and actual baseball people, but sometimes someone comes along that is so wrong, so absolutely off their rocker, that it makes me question my own existence and right to question anything Steve Phillips, Jim Duquette, Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, or Omar Minaya in any of their decisions. What am I talking about? Let us review and this one is truly a gem.

    This was an actual plan that Joel Sherman laid out during last year's off season. (the article cost money now so you'll have to take my word for it)

    1) Mike Piazza to the Dodgers for Shawn Green
    2) Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui to the Mariners for Bret Boone and Eddie Guardado
    3) Tom Glavine to his home-state Red Sox for Doug Mientkiewicz and Trot Nixon
    4) Victor Diaz, Aaron Heilman and Vance Wilson to the Pirates for Jason Kendall and $13 million
    5) Sign free agents Tino Martinez and Magglio Ordonez

    Joel Sherman's
    2005 Mets Lineup
    1. Jose Reyes, SS
    2. Jason Kendall, C
    3. Shawn Green, RF
    4. Magglio Ordonez, LF
    5. Bret Boone, 2B
    6. Tino Martinez, 1B
    7. David Wright, 3B
    8. Mike Cameron, CF

    At the time some people might have thought Sherman was making sense, but just let that sink in if all those deals would have happened. Not only would the Mets have finished in last place last year, but they probably would only miss last place this year because the Marlins are basically a AAA team. I know it's tough to write articles when there is nothing going on, but c'mon. That was just silly talk.

    * * *

  • SportsNet New York has done the right thing and brought back Keith Hernandez and has added Ron Darling. Nicey nice. Now, I just have to hope that Cablevision actually broadcasts the games.

  • My how his star has fallen. It looks like he has less interest than Sammy Sosa, who is drawing interest from the Nationals again, and that is a sad commentary on things for Piazza.

  • Metsdaily.com has some Q&A with Mike Pelfrey's old pitching coach.

    PA: Is Mike the best pitcher you've ever coached?

    BK: I coached Randy Johnson in Alaska, Ben McDonald (1st pick in 1989), and about 23-24 guys at the big league level. I see Pelfrey as number one. We had (Darren) Dreifort here, we had Looper here and Pelfrey is the BEST we've had and that is what he's doing today.

    Fucking swell. Not much else to say.

    PA: When do you think Mike will be in the majors?

    BK: Mike has to get comfortable, get some innings in A ball, and get in sync there. Then he could be called up by the end of the year or next year. I'm not saying one of the guys in the rotation immediately, but they'll want to get him called up in September

    Maybe a year will be all he does need.
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    My Personal Top 10

    My how much has changed in the last few weeks in terms of the Mets system and now is as good a time as any to take a look at The Metropolitans favorite top ten prospects. But first, here is a run down of how things looked before, and after the 2005 season.

    John Sickle's Top 20 Metropolitan Prospects (pre-season)
    1) Yusmeiro Petit, RHP
    2) Phil Humber, RHP
    3) Lastings Milledge, OF
    4) Gaby Hernandez, RHP
    5) Victor Diaz, OF
    6) Alay Soler, RHP
    7) Aarom Baldiris, 2B-3B
    8) Ambiorix Concepcion, OF
    9) Matt Durkin, RHP
    10) Brian Bannister, RHP

    Mets top ten prior to 2005 season according to BA:

    A quick look back reveals a fugly top ten. A lot had changed over the course of the season as it usually does with prospects. Some rocket up and some like Ambiorix lose some steam. Watch for Ian Bladergroen this year in the Sox system to see if he can recover from his injury riddled 2005.

    Baseball America's top 10 prospects (current, but prior to the trades)
    2. YUSMEIRO PETIT , rhp
    3. GABY HERNANDEZ, rhp
    4. MIKE JACOBS, 1b
    5. PHILIP HUMBER, rhp
    6. CARLOS GOMEZ, of
    10. ALAY SOLER , rhp

    I feel better about the above top ten knowing Pelfrey will be in there. Some serious talent and some guys ready to help soon. Petit, Milledge, Jacobs, A Hern, Bannister, and Soler are all guys that could figure into a 2006 Major League role at some point.

    Ricardo's Metsgeek.com Top 10 prior to trades:
    1. Lastings Milledge
    2. Yusmeiro Petit
    3. Mike Pelfrey
    4. Gaby Hernandez
    5. Phil Humber
    6. Grant Psomas
    7. Brian Bannister
    8. Anderson Hernandez
    9. Brett Harper
    10. Mike Carp

    Now? My list. This is not necessarily as scientific as this is just my personal top ten of players that I like the most in the system in terms of what I think of their future.

    1. Lastings Milledge - Obvious choice. The kid can play and undeniably has five tools.
    2. Mike Pelfrey - I wish I was born with his right arm. Instead, I have trouble holding my own with nine year old girls right now.
    3. Fernando Martinez - The boy, the myth, the legend. Will he start at full season Hagerstown? He might. If they think highly enough to put a 17 year old there, he has to be special.
    4. Carlos Gomez - He has tools and talent oozing out of his ears and he held his own at Hagerstown at 19, where Fernando will be at a full two years younger. I'm also happy with his 32 walks. Usually toolsy guys are horrendous in the free pass dept and he went from 6 in 45 games to 32 in 120 games. You have to start somewhere and he is young.
    5. Phil Humber - He's off track a bit since 2006 will be a complete wash. When he comes back in 2006, he should spend the entire second half working his way up from a rookie league to A-Ball for a best case scenario.
    6. Deolis Guerra - Yeah, yeah, but I'm a sucker for the unknown. I am intrigued with any guy that young that gets a boatload of money at 16 years old. He is 6-5 and has a fastball that touches 90 and a plus change while not being able to drive a car in New York yet. I'm curious....
    7. Alay Soler - You read different things with Soler, but BA says he immediately has the best slider in the system and can throw mid 90's. He has the stuff to start, but might end up being the closer of the future. The closer thing probably isn't going to work out at this point since he'll be 30 by the time Wagner is done, but maybe he'll get a shot to start this year when someone goes down.
    8. Brian Bannister - Not only am I a sucker for the unknown, but I'm also a sucker for the cerebral pitcher who throws fifty pitches. His ceiling is a back end guy, but if a team can find a consistent #5 for no money for four or five years, it's a plus. Who likes watching five different guys start and fail out of the five spot?
    9. Andy Wilson - He was an undrafted free agent and was 24 last season when he hit 28 homers in St. Lucie. Wilson plays a few different positions and shucks the organizational philosophy of swing at everything. Yeah, he is old for the league and all being 24 in St. Lucie and a guy like him has an uphill battle to beat the odds, but he looks like a solid all around player. He has a good approach at the plate and he hits the ball to all fields. With guys like this, I would like to see the Mets push them more to see what they can take. He is not getting any younger and better find out if he is worth anything.
    10. Bobby Parnell - This was a tough spot for me because I like any player named Emmanuel, but I have to say, Parnell's .185 BAA and one homerun allowed in 73 innings for Brooklyn is impressive. He still walked too many, but has a low 90's fastball, a hard slider, and a nice penchant for keeping the ball down and in the park.

    Just missed and in no particular order: Anderson Hernandez, Brett Harper, Shawn Bowman, Matt Durkin, Mike Carp, Nick Evans, Emmanuel Garcia, Jeff Keppinger, Evan MacLane, Hector Pellot, and Aaron Hathaway.

    Before anyone bites my head off, keep in mind, these are my personal favorites and not a true top ten. These are the players I feel best about in terms of their future success in what limited knowledge I have of them. It was hard to ignore Harper's 36 dingers and his supposid iron mitt, but he just missed for me. I'm fringing him and calling him a poor man's Mike Jacobs. As for A Hern, I just wasn't impressed with his at-bats for the Mets. Sure there were only 18 of them, but he has a lot of work to do and it is clear Jeff Keppinger should be first in line for second base should Kaz fail again in 2006 until A Hern refines he game a bit more. There were a lot of near misses that I'm sure a lot of people can make compelling arguments for when put up against the bottom five of the top ten. It is not unreasonable to see some of the 'just miss' guys hit up to six on some lists at this point, but that is the problem after the top five, the talent pool is seriously dilluted and top heavy.

    * * *

  • "First of all, I learned that I can manage, knowing that I could lead a ballclub," Randolph said. "Just that all of the things that I've learned over the years, I can apply when I have to. You never know until you're in the situation how you're going to react."

    I like confidence. I like that 'can do' attitude. However, I'd also like to know where this 'I can apply what I've learned over the years' crap was last year. Didn't look like he was around the game that much from what I saw.

  • Wiggie catches on with the Devil Rays and The Metropolitans wishes him well.

  • Posted on NYFANSITES.com's message board, the Mets sign a 17 year old Aussie pitcher. He was a two way star and throws 90 mph with good movement on his fastball. He hates snakes, likes Team America, talks too much, likes Chipper and Greg Maddux, and likes Brazil.
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Wanna Stop Being a Wanksta and Become A Gansta?

    You can buy a nifty URL that is being auctioned on eBay and start your own site. There are no bids yet so it looks like you could be bidding against yourself.

    * * *

    One of the hardest working men in baseball writing world weighs in with his off-season grades.

    Off-season grade so far: C+. The Delgado addition was excellent, and Wagner will help in the near term. Not such high marks for the Cameron and Lo Duca deals. With the short-sighted trade of Seo a done deal, it becomes even more vital for the Mets to install Aaron Heilman in the rotation for good.

    Was he overly hard? I don't think so.

    Not sure if I linked to this the other day, but I remember reading chunks of it posted somewhere. Here in the comments or somewhere else. I have no idea where it was, but it's a great article by Tim Marchman.

    This week's trade of starter Jae Seo and a D-grade prospect for Dodgers reliever Duaner Sanchez and another D-grade prospect is just another in what is now a fairly lengthy list of minor stupid moves, none of which are enough in by themselves to get agitated about, but which are in their totality troubling.

    Exactly. You can't get your panties in a bundle about the Seo or Cammy deal, but when you add them all up, you don't get equal value. Far from it. If you missed it, check it out. Thanks to Woodrow for pointing it out.

    In relation to that, there were some fantastical observations made by MikeinSpain and Matt the other day.

    One difference between Omar and Billy Beane is that Omar zeroes in on the players he wants to get, while Billy focuses in on the players he wants to get AND the players he's willing to give up. Omar and the Mets have to learn how to value and evaluate their own players in a more efficient way.

    That said, this move is way better than the Baez rumors. Sanchez is young, was good last year and is under contract.
    MikeinSpain | 01.04.06 - 12:19 pm | #


    It's true that this deal isn't as bad as the Nady deal, but my frustration is really mounting with Omar's habit of overpaying.

    If I was a rival GM, I would want to be doing business with Omar all day long. How are we going to get value when every GM knows that Omar will overpay for any desired player
    Matt | 01.04.06 - 4:05 pm | #

    These are in line with an article I wrote for Metsgeek.com a bit back about Omar jumping at moves and making them with seemingly no long term plan. Instant gratification. It is not so much that this move is bad, but yet another one that he did not extract value. I am by far not against the move, and this one is arguable as to who got the edge depending on who you like better, but as Mike stated above, the best of the best GMs work with some more caution. Omar knows his players he wants and goes after them, but where he differs with a Billy Beane or Brian Sabean, he'll give up more than you would in an optimal situation. As much as I do not like Mike and the Mad Dog, their biggest criticism of Omar was the ability to do the smaller moves. We know he can sign the big fish, but it is the smaller moves that define the good GMs.

    Some GMs will not get ripped off often. Everyone makes a bad move or two and I'm not classifying these moves with Cameron, LoDuca, and Seo as particularly bad, but they certainly add up a net loss when you look at what was given up, what was out there, etc. Omar was kind of sleeping at the wheel in terms of middle relief. Yes, the market value was set high, but things could have worked out better to this point. Omar needed a some first base insurance, so he overpaid for Nady. Then they got Delgado making Diaz and Nady redundant. At least Nady will be the backup first basemen, right? Not so much. Julio Franco was brought in for that. He got LoDuca without even seeing the arbitration date pass. Then Seo was dealt when he could not get Baez for Seo instead of looking at Tavarez or shopping around a bit longer or letting a market develop for his players. I still stand by saying that his aggressiveness has been a blessing, but it has also been detrimental in some cases. You have to hope that over the years these types of deals do not lead to the Mets being knee deep in shit.

    I get it. Sometimes these deals need to be done for fine tuning, but you get the feeling Omar will overpay just to fine tune things that do not necessarily need to fine tuned. Hopefully he stands pat and lets this team see what it can do with maybe one other bullpen arm inked. The good news is the Mets have come a long way, but it is time for him to take a page out of the book of Billy Beane and taking harder stances and looking for more frugal trades. Maybe being the GM of the Mets means people will always try and rip you off. Maybe everyone will always try and take advantage of the big market teams, but there are GMs out there that will give up fair value for players, we just know none of them have even been in Tampa Bay....ever.

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  • In case anyone missed it, Lost is coming back this Wednesday for two hours of Kate filled goodness. Watch. Enjoy. Revel in the glory of the best show on TV.

  • Brian Bannister gets some love from Kevin Czerwinski.

    And with Yusmeiro Petit and Gaby Hernandez dealt to Florida in separate deals, Bannister finds himself alone at the top of a thin heap.

    "It's kind of funny because I never considered myself a top prospect," said Bannister, whom the Mets chose in the seventh round of the 2003 draft out of the University of Southern California.

    Yes, life was good for Bannister since the LoDuca deal, but he's no longer the Mets top pitching prospect. Good news for everyone.

    One source with knowledge of the negotiations, however, indicated Pelfrey received a contract similar to but richer than that of Jeff Niemann, the former Rice pitcher whom the Devil Rays signed as the No. 4 overall pick in 2004. The source indicated Pelfrey received a signing bonus of around $3.5 million (Niemann’s was $3.2 million) with a contract guaranteeing Pelfrey $5.3 million. The difference is Pelfrey’s deal is payable over four years, rather than five. Pelfrey could earn up to a maximum of $6.6 million if he’s on the Mets’ 25-man roster in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

    For the second year in a row, the Mets hand out a Major League contract. While it does not matter since Humber will be on the 60-day anyway, it is a bad thing to do year after year. Regardless, the Mets system is dramatically better than it was yesterday.

  • I coulda been a contanda....

    "Keppinger's name came up several times in discussions, and we definitely considered him," Minaya said. "But in truth we never got that far because. ... "

    Because what?

    "Well, because he got hurt," Minaya said.

    On a steamy afternoon in mid-June, with a major league call-up perhaps a day or two away, Keppinger was spiked a few inches below his left knee in a contentious incident that left him with a fractured knee and an uncertain future.

    If for some reason he never makes the bigs, he will go back and read that time and time again as he turns into a raging alcoholic at the corner of the bar telling everyone how close he was to getting his shot.

    In the I coulda been a contenda category, part II...

    "I'm a living testimony of what happens to someone who had a great deal of talent and made a lot of wrong choices in his life," he said without hesitation.

    Poor Straw.

  • Anyone work for a ski shop? Email me. Looking to buy a new snowboard that I love to not pay full price for.
  • Monday, January 09, 2006

    No Presure Willie

    Carlos Beltran likes the way the Mets are looking and the improvements they've made, but there's a caveat with some of his optimism.

    "If we can stay healthy, and can find a way to play the game the right way," he said, "I don't see any reason why we can't win our division."

    Sounds good, right? And, who knows, the Mets might stay healthy, but there aren't many teams that actually find a way to play the game the right way. That's a big if, Carlos.

    Finding a way to play the game the right way has more to do with Willie than anything else. He's calling the shots and he is making the calls setting all the pieces in motion. That's the bad news and that makes this statement a bigger if than Tom Gage probablyl thinks. The Mets improved last year on paper and on the field and this year they improved even more on paper. Willie's honeymoon is over and Gary Carter is moving up the food chain. He will manage high class A St. Lucie this year and could make things interesting.

    "I'll be managing in Port St. Lucie this year and I'm looking forward to that," Carter said Saturday after participating in the 18th Annual Martin County Pro-Celebrity Skins Game. "It's one step closer to my goal of getting to the big leagues as a manager."

    If Willie shits the bed this year and the Mets are down in the standing mid year, who knows. We all know Willie is not my most favorite manager and somehow spending his life around baseball did not properly prepare him to make obvious and sound decisions in 2005. He should be on thin ice if he gets off to an inauspicious start and makes curious decisions yet again with not only one, but two managers below him in the Mets system that very well could be better.

    "I figure I'll give it a couple of years," Carter said. "Who knows, if I do a good job this year in St. Lucie maybe an opportunity will come next year. Even though I would like to stay in the Mets organization, they have to realize that there are 29 other teams out there.

    "It's not what you know, but who you know. Look at (Florida Marlins first-year manager) Joe Girardi, he doesn't have any managerial experience, but he sat alongside Joe Torre and (Marlins' owner) Jeffery Loria took an interest and hired him."

    Sad but true. Carter will most likely not be a manager for the Mets and many guys get hired not necessarily because what they know, but because they might have Yankee mystique that could magically rub off on their new team. Hopefully Omar took note of Mazzilli's failure as a manager and how he was over his head and relate that to Willie because this Met team should be the favorites to win the division and only Willie stands in their way.

    * * *

  • The Yankees top ten list of prospects is out and Philip Hughes gets a pretty rousing endorsel from BA.

    The Future: The wraps come off Hughes in 2006. The Yankees will start him at high Class A Tampa, and he shouldn’t be there long. As he reintroduces his slider, he should become a starter with well-above-average control and above-average command who throws three plus pitches for strikes. In a different organization, a healthy Hughes could reach the major leagues in 2006. Instead, he should be in the mix for a rotation spot in New York in 2007—as long as he stays off the disabled list.

    Just to point this out, the dude does not turn 20 until June. Just saying he might be able reach the Majors in 2006 if he was with another organization is pretty impressive. Hopefully the Yankees deal him in a desperation.

  • Lie or not, Pedro needs to sit the out for the Dominican team. Too much is resting on him this year.

  • David Wright and Kris Benson are getting to work early. Hopefully Benson does some long tossing or whatever he needs to gain arm stregth.

  • People in Florida, including the Devil Rays front office, better get serious about backing off ridiculous demands for Baez and everyone else on their team. Marte for Lugo? Heilman for Baez? The Mets really screwed things up with that Kazmir for Zambrano deal. The Devil Rays just assume that every deal needs to involve a top player regardless of the actually value of their player.