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

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Future Looks Bright In The Outfield

I'm back in Jersey and as depressed as ever. I went to Colorado for a short trip and it is tough to come back to reality after being in such an amazing place. I'm talkin' about a place where the beer flows like wine, where the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talkin' about Colorado. Anyway, in case you missed it like I did, Jason Stark is fond of two Met prospects.

CARLOS GOMEZ, OF, Mets -- Signed at 17, but seen by one exec we surveyed in a couple of minor-league games. "They gave him $2 million," the exec said. "And [he] looks like he's worth every penny."

LASTINGS MILLEDGE, OF, Mets -- "Quickest bat in Florida," said one scout.

Carlos Gomez has played his spring pretty much under the radar. He only has thirteen at bats with the big club and four hits. Two of those hits were triples and his .308 batting average is certainly something for the 20 year old to hang his hat on as starts his season in the minors. It is nice to see Gomez get validated yet again as a true talent. It is easy to look at his numbers and not be interested much in him, but he does not have many minor league games under his belt. One hundred and sixty five games to be exact. In his first year he hit one homer and walked six times in forty five games and followed that up with eight homers and thirty-two walks in one hundred and twenty games. The kid is good. He is raw and has a ways to go, but he will break out big time and spending this season in Binghamton might go a long way to help make that happen sooner rather than later.

As for Milledge, it is nothing we do not know already. The kid is among the team leaders in at bats and owns a .347 batting average. He has only three extra base hits, but the kid has been impressive. The pop will come and he has nothing much left to prove in the minors to let everyone know he is ready. With everyone pretty much penciling him in the opening day lineup in 2007, he should not worry about putting up big numbers to solidify that spot. It is his already. He just needs to fine tune his game at the sacrifice of numbers and look at the bigger picture. It will be easy for him to put up a gaudy average this year and steal a ton of bases, but that is not what 2006 should be about for him. Of course that stuff could happen anyway, but there are more important aspects that he needs to work on.

Here is the best of the rest...

PHILIP HUGHES, RHP, Yankees -- "As impressive a [pitching] prospect as the Yankees have had in a long time," said an AL scout. "But he's a long ways away."

I'm not big on wishing harm to people, but if I was, he would be up there.

HANLEY RAMIREZ, SS, Marlins -- "He's really looked good when I've seen him," said one scout. "He's Edger Renteria for me, but maybe even a level higher. I always liked him. But now I think he's going to be a lot better player than I thought he'd be."

He is one guy I'm excited to get to see a lot this year.

CONOR JACKSON, 1B, Diamondbacks -- "I saw him hit a home run that might come down in Philadelphia soon," said one scout. "He doesn't even have any lift in his swing yet. A lot of his best shots are line drives. But he's a strong guy, and he can play. Down the road, if he develops some lift, I still think he could hit a lot of home runs."

FRANCISCO LIRIANO, LHP, Twins -- "I can't believe he's going to Triple-A," said one exec. "We had his slider at 92-93 (mph)."

These are two guys that I cannot wait to watch. Liriano to AAA is a travesty on many levels, but he will be back soon enough and certainly by the trade deadline. They will have to make room for Francisco at some point.

* * *

  • Seven players were reassigned to minor league camps.

    The competition for the bullpen lessened Tuesday morning when the team reassigned Royce Ring and Juan Perez to the minor league camp. Among position players the team reassigned Jeff Keppinger in the morning and then after the game moved Lastings Milledge, Tike Redman, Todd Self and Sandy Martinez.

    According to the article, Milledge may be back up sooner than we think too.

  • Aaron is being shifted to the bullpen for no other reason that the recently bolstered bullpen turned out to be not so bolstered.

    "I'm certainly disappointed," Heilman said in the morning before pitching two innings of relief in the Mets' 12-7 loss to the Marlins. "I'll go to the bullpen and give it my best and hopefully help this team win. They thought that's where I would be most valuable and hopefully I can go down there and continue to contribute the way that I had last year."

    My concern is that a rotation with Traxx, Zambrano, and Bannister cannot win it all. That is just not going to get the job done. They should be able to skim by the regular season, but they are not 'built' for the post season. Their starters simply will not stack up. Heilman had the x-factor for me to be a big boon to the rotation. He can be shifted later, but at what price? Omar fell asleep at the wheel when it came to the bullpen and failed to pony up for a set up man and ended up short handed because of it with questionable signings like Iriki and a questionable trade with Julio. Omar can sign players with the best of them, but he has a long way to go before he proves that he can be the GM to help this team win it all.

  • Keppinger is not happy and he has reason to be. He never really had a chance to step in for Kaz and Anderson Hernandez now has the opening day job. Keppinger has no future whatsoever with this organization no matter what he does and he is probably a really, really unhappy camper today.

  • Billy Wagner reports no problem in the bullpen.

    "No problems," the closer said.

    Thanks Billy. In worse news and something that does concern me when I look at this current Mets rotation, Pedro will throw four innings next Friday.

    Pedro Martinez also threw yesterday in the bullpen - his first action since pitching in a game on Sunday - and said he was OK. He said he is slated to throw four innings in his next start on Friday.

    In case you are keeping track, opening day is Monday. That means he will not be throwing in a real game until the end of the following week at the earliest and that even looks sketchy.

  • Joel Sherman has his five questions for the Mets.

  • The fact that Heath Bell only has six innings this year and only has a shot because two guys I could have told you would suck have in fact done that is absurd. The guy should have gotten a chance to earn a shot and he really did not. Ridiculous. This team needs to figure some things out. No matter who runs the team, some things just never change.

  • Jim Street things Nady could be a breakout candidate.

    Xavier Nady, RF, Mets: Moving from pitcher-friendly PETCO Park to Shea Stadium should be just what this smooth-swinging outfielder needs to put up big numbers.

    Hopefully. However, this is certainly something that makes you wonder if anything he has written should be taken seriously.

    Kris Benson, RHP, Orioles: A 20-game winner waiting to happen.

    I for one liked Benson. I thought he would have a big year one of the days. However, moving to the AL East and in Camden Yards is not how it is going to happen.

  • Paul Hagen wraps up the Mets nicely in his article from yesterday.

  • I could read this all day.

    Wright established himself as a player last season, hitting .306 with 27 home runs and 102 runs batted in, ranking in the National League top 10 in seven different offensive categories. At third base, he shrugged off an early flurry of errors -- many from just trying to do too much -- and got better each game as the year wore on.

    The kid is an MVP waiting to happen.

    "I think he's the next Scott Rolen," says the Braves' Chipper Jones, a star at the position himself. "David can do it all. He can hit to all fields for power. He's a developing third baseman. He's got a great head on his shoulders. I think he's going to be an all-star for a long time."

  • I've been to heaven and on earth, it is called Carl's Jr.

    That is a chili cheeseburger and possible the best burger I've had a at fast food place. It was one tasty son of a bitch.

    Not to be outdone, the breakfast burger beckoned me as well. A tasty beef patty with bacon, a fried egg, and has browns. I subsequently washed down those two heart attacks with another heart attack in a vanilla shake. I had to use a defibrillator at the airport when I got there, but it was worth it.
  • Friday, March 24, 2006

    Soriano Is In Left

    Ok, he did it and did not really make much noise after it was done and Washington did some spin control.

    "I have no choice," Soriano said. "I love the game. I hope I stay healthy and I hope they play me there every day because I love the game."

    "All I wanted to know from him was, was he willing to play left field," Robinson said. "He said he was ready to go, he wanted to get at-bats and get out there and play."

    Alright, all is well in the nation's capital and despite all the hoopla, Soriano handled it well in the end. Of course the second day he was in left, he let two catchable balls drop in, but what can you do? The guy is going to have an adjustment period and by season's end, I have no doubt he will be a solid left fielder. He is athletic and has an excellent arm. I would not be surprised if he nailed a few people at the plate.

    * * *

  • Ziiiiing!

    In an espn.com piece about Japan's win against Cuba in the WBC championship game Monday, Stark wrote that Cuban manager Higinio Velez "spent the first inning managing like his raft was on fire, and it didn't work out too caliente [hot]."

    Stark, reached on his cell phone Thursday, said, "I apologize to anyone I may have offended. I really feel badly that I wrote that. I regret it. I will never do it again."

    Ok, it was in poor taste to write that and by no means should he really be disciplined other than removing that statement from the column, but c'mon. I'm not exactly easily offended, but it is common sense to leave something like that out.

  • Mo money, mo money, mo money...

    Japan had the pitching, hitting and defense needed to win the inaugural World Baseball Classic, but the tournament remains firmly in the grip of Major League Baseball, which bankrolled the $50-million event.

  • Kaz is ahead of schedule. However, the Mets still will not have him for opening day and are leaing towards Anderson Hernandez.

    Hernandez, a switch-hitter, has had a decent spring, batting .286 (12-for-42) with no homers, one RBI and two steals. He has committed one error playing second base and shortstop.

    Keppinger, a righty, also has hit .286, going 10-for-35 with five doubles and a triple. Hernandez's 12 hits all are singles.

    I'm for Keppinger getting the shot at this point simply because I feel his bat is more big league ready. I think Hernandez is going to have a battle with the Mendoza line as where Keppinger would prove much more useful all around at this point. They say it is coming down to defense (though defense did not factor in their choice to start Kaz, just another case of Mets selective reasoning) and while Hernandez is clearly better on defense, Keppinger is not horrible. In fact, he will not even be a detriment. I think the Mets should consider the entire package.

  • Channel 60 bitches.

  • Posada gets uglier and is set to battle Hideki for ugliest Yankee.

  • Is it just me, or does the new Yankee Stadium look a little too much government building like? I'm not a fan.
  • Thursday, March 23, 2006


    Spring stats could be deceptive, but .109 BAA for Aaron Heilman is impressive any way you slice it. Heilman pitched a solid five innings giving up one earned run while striking out three and not walk a batter. Oh, Milledge won the game in the ninth with a double. Just another day for one of the best prospects in the game.

    Some foreshadowing?

    Hitting instructor Rick Down said Beltran might be the team's most natural No. 2 hitter because he can do all the fundamental things required of the slot, but he also has speed and is a switch-hitter with power.

    "I think I'll hit second because I've been hitting there," Beltran said. "I like to bunt and get the runner over."

    With Beltran's speed, Henderson said he should steal more. Beltran agrees and said he would run more as the second hitter than if he hit third.

    You can tell me lineup construction does not matter and give me research to back that up. However, that does not take into account the psyche of the player. Will Beltran be a more productive player from the number two slot because he is more comfortable? Maybe, but if that is what it takes, the Mets just need to stop being stubborn and put together the most optimal lineup.

    * * *

  • Hmmm..

    Smith was found guilty of maltreating three prisoners, conspiring with another dog handler in a contest to make detainees soil themselves, dereliction of duty, assault and an indecent act. The assault charge was dismissed.

    The indecency conviction was for Smith directing his dog to lick peanut butter off the genitals of a male soldier and the breasts of a female soldier.

  • Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Sadaharu Oh

    Here is some WBC redux on Sadaharu Oh. Oh was getting plenty of commentator fellatio the past few weeks with his Japanese team. Of course, his numbers are intriguing. His .301/.446/.634 line with 868 homers, 2170 RBIs, 1967 runs, 2786 hits, 2390 walks, with only 1319 strikeouts is certainly jaw dropping. You really would not be a baseball fan not to wonder how those numbers would have translated in the states. Would their best have made a mark on the game out here during that era? Through their first ten seasons in the Japanese League, Oh, and Hideki Matsui were very comparable.
                G  Runs  Hits   2b  3b   HR  RBIs
    Mastsui 1268 901 1390 245 16 332 889
    Oh 1293 833 1222 216 22 356 906
             SB  CS    BB    K   Avg   Slg   Obp
    Matsui 46 33 844 934 .304 .582 .413
    Oh 58 37 1000 735 .294 .614 .435
    I would say that is very comparable to say the least. Throw in the exodus of top tier players during Matsui's time playing baseball and the more players due to migrate to the US to play with the best of the best, it is not unreasonable to think that Hideki, if healthy, could continue his output. If Hideki put up the same numbers he averaged in his first nine full years over the next twelve, he would have ended up with a .306/.416/.586 line with 760 homers, 560 doubles, 2038 RBIs, 2066 runs, 1947 walks, and 2113 strikeouts.

    Pretty impressive. However, just for the record, Oh had a better twelve ending years than his first ten years. If I followed the same math as I did with Matsui's first full nine years with Oh, Sadaharu would have finished up hitting .298/.439/.622 with 2758 games, 1829 runs, 471 doubles, 783 homers, 1983 RBIs, 2193 walks, and 1545 strikeouts. Of course this is not scientific, but still, it shows that Hideki was very comparable to Oh and considering they both debuted at the age of 19, it is not unreasonable that would have continued somewhat following the same career path in terms of numbers and years played in the league.

    So while all the fanfare about Oh is well deserved, I doubt he would rank up with the Major League's greats. There is no doubt he was a tremendous player and would have most likely succeded here and been one of the better players of the day, but he seems to be a cut above Hideki Matsui by my rudimentary look at things and not a legend.

    * * *

  • The delusional Alfonso Soriano wants to return to the Yankees despite the fact that have no openings whatsoever for him unless he wants to DH and play a utility role in the field. He probably thinks it makes sense for the Yankees to remove Cano for him. I'm beginning to look forward to his daily ridiculousness.

    As it relates to the Mets, it does not look like it is going to happen.

    Although the Mets are frustrated by Kaz Matsui's continuing troubles and still could have a need at second base, two Mets people characterized their chances of trading for Soriano as a "long shot" and one Mets official suggested they'd listen only if the division rival Nationals offer to virtually give him away.

    If they gave him away, I would be dumb not to say I have interest. It is intriguing, but giving anything of value to this team like Aaron Heilman would be detrimental.

  • Cuba celebrated the return of the team upon arrival back to the motherland.

  • Wagner's finger hurts, but it is not serious.

    "Let's make it known, it's not serious," said Wagner, who remained here while the team bussed to Fort Lauderdale. "It's not career-ending. [The MRI] was negative. Everything was normal, no swelling, no ligaments or tendons, nothing like that.

    "I did it against the Braves [Thursday night]. It felt weird. I pitched on Saturday. Sunday, it didn't feel so good. Instead of trying to pitch with it, since I had time, I just wanted to see if I could get it to heal up."

    Keep moving along, there is nothing to see here. Looks like no big deal. The ace and the closer are just having minor setbacks.

  • Kris, no one will get me to say a bad word about you.

    "I didn't really think much about [facing] Victor," Benson said. "But it's just ironic that I'm facing them twice in spring training. It was fun. No doubt it was fun to face the guys. They've got a great lineup."

    Zambrano looked good in his first game starting with the team this spring. He only struck out one batter, but did not walk one. He now has a K/BB ratio of infinity.

  • Dan Graziano thinks the Mets should get Soriano. He does throw it out there that it needs to be cheap and he thinks Victor Diaz fits that bill. I guess the plans they have for Nady vs. Diaz would heavily factor into this because the Mets publicly say the still like Diaz, but with Milledge on the horizon and their preference for Nady, it is hard to see how Diaz will find at bats at all with the Mets...ever.

  • Jose is saying the right things.

    "I swung at a lot of bad pitches last year," Reyes said. "Last year, I didn't take a walk. This year, I will be more patient. I'm going to be aggressive and look for my pitch."

    If he can lay off the breaking ball in the dirt, that alone is worth .020 points. Of course, these are things that you work on in the minors when it doesn't count, but he is here now.

  • Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money.

    Catcher Jesus Montero, a 16-year-old Venezuelan phenom, had a painful tryout. Looking to get a jump on a base stealer from behind the plate, he reached too soon and was clobbered by minor-leaguer Jamar Hill's swing. Observers feared a broken arm as Montero writhed in pain, but that concern proved unwarranted. Montero could command more than the $1.4 million Dominican outfielder Fernando Martinez got last year at 16 if the Mets win the bidding when Montero is eligible in July

  • Classic.

    It's a good thing I no longer have internet access at home - this Heilman BS would make me rip my hair out.

    Down the stretch last year, Pedro was arguably the 4th best pitcher on the Mets. Of the guys in front of him, all of which had 2-or-under ERAs, one is 40 and throws one stinkin' pitch, another was traded for a pair of goggles and the third, people are now advocating, should be put in middle relief (or traded).

    Heilman was lights out last year, this winter and this Spring. Also, Omar promised him the starter's job AND traded away a perfectly decent pitcher for a sack of shit with two first names (Jorge Julio?). What's the guy gotta do to start a few games?

    Also - who wants to bet that George July loses at least 6 leads before the all-star break?

    - MikeinSpain
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    !!! WARNING !!! Michael Smells BS

    Joe Benningo from the WFAN and Brandon Tierney from 1050 ESPN Radio reported a trade rumor that included Aaron Heilman and Xavier Nady for Alfonso Soriano. I do not think this holds much water at all because the Mets said they would only be interested only if the move was a steal, but it has to go deeper than that. He is a disaster waiting to happen in Shea Stadium and I am not just talking about defense. I think a Carlos Beltran 2005 type batting average from him in 2006 would be wishful thinking.

    Not that Nady would be a huge loss and that the Mets could not replace Heilman, but Aaron is young and versatile and could be very, very important to any Mets playoff push. Although Heilman may be much less of a sexy name to most fans, he could be much more important than Soriano ever would be to a 2006 run. Let us not forget, the Mets offense is not the question mark. The question marks surround around the rotation's health and the bullpen's effectiveness. Heilman goes a long way to help fill either one of those needs and trading him for Soriano is completely counterintuitive to what Mets are trying to wrap up in the next few weeks before the season.

    This rumor sounds completely false.

    Viva Japón

    The World Baseball Classic is over and I'm disappointed. Watching some real baseball and going to back to watching Spring Training games is going to be rough (not that I can even watch the ones not on channel 11). The WBC gave us all some phenomenal baseball games and upstart teams with few to no Major League players beating the behemoths and making it to the finals. Korea was undefeated until their semi-final loss against the eventual winner of the WPC in Japan and really was the big story for me for most of the tournament.

    Cuba's rough first inning was just too big to recover from with Japan's entire lineup seemingly able to beat out infield hits and Cuba gave up four runs despite giving up only one solid hit. With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for Japan, Cuba had little chance. Cuba should know Daisuke pretty well as he hurled eight shutout innings against Cuba for the win in the 2004 Olympics before giving up three runs in the ninth inning.

    Matsuzaka was throwing some nasty mid 90's heat and featured a filthy slider. The dude is good. Major League quality no doubt. Matsuzaka went four innings and was the eventual MVP of the tournament and finished with a 1.38 ERA. Japan took a 6-1 lead before he was pulled with the game seemingly over, but Cuba came back to make it a one run game in the eighth inning. Japan then firmly wrapped it up by scoring four in their half of the ninth capping off an amazing game. This tournament was packed with great baseball and was a smashing success. It really was no surprise for many that the best three teams were the teams that had their players in much better form due to when their own baseball seasons start and were more familiar with playing with each other. Hopefully the next WBC is planned out better time wise to give everyone more of a chance to get up to speed. All in all, Selig is smiling and for good reason.

    A couple side notes from the game though. First, hearing Jon Miller say "adios pelota" after Cuba's first inning homerun off Matsuzaka hurt my ears much like it hurt Vincent Antonlli's (aka Todd Wilkinson) ears when Barney Coopersmith was trying to say capice. "Are you trying to say capice?" "Yeah" "Well, don't do it, cuz it hurts my ears when you do it.". Jon, do us all a favor and lay off the Spanish. If you cannot lay off the Spanish, do it right then. Say "goodbye sr. pelota" or "quadurangular". Secondly, when ESPN first flashed to Parque Central back in Cuba after the homerun, a guy with USA Flag on the back of his shirt. He's probably in jail now. Everyone pray for him.

    * * *

  • In honor of Ossy's interest in Jack Bauer kicking some ass last night...
    • Jack Bauer shops at Costco... without membership.
    • The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times. They had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street. No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.
    • Jack Bauer sleeps with a pillow under his gun.
    • There have been no terrorist attacks in United States since Jack Bauer has appeared on television.
    • If Jack Bauer shot you while quail hunting, it wouldn't be an accident.
    • Jack Bauer could strangle you with a cordless phone.
    • Kim Bauer was an accident. Not even the pill can stop Jack Bauer.
    • The Black Eyed Peas were just The Peas until Jack Bauer heard their music.
    • My parents told my little brother and I that Jack Bauer was "just a television character". We are now orphans.
    • Jack Bauer thinks it's cute when David Banner says “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”. You wouldn’t have the opportunity to not like Jack Bauer when he is angry, you'd be dead.
    • The real reason whales beach themselves? Jack Bauer occasionally goes swimming.
  • Marty Noble breaks out a scary fact:

    With Kaz Ishii back in Japan, Zambrano (5.04) and Dennys Reyes (5.28) are the only active pitchers with a minimum of 500 career innings who average five or more walks per nine innings.

    Wow, and the Mets had both of them in the rotation for the majority of last season. At least Zambrano did have streaks where he was successful. Ishii just had nothing and the Mets rode that nothing for just about the entire year.

  • The Mets already surpassed two million tickets sold before the season even started. Eight teams last year did not even draw two million fans and the Mets have already eclipsed that number. In 2005, the Mets drew 2,782,212 fans, in 2004, the Mets drew 2,318,321 fans, and in 2003, the Mets drew 2,140,599 fans. By no means is this number this early a small one. The Mets will easily eclipse 3,000,000 tickets sold this season and will make a run at the top five in attendance this year and should sneak in there.

  • Reyes could have been honing his skills instead of bench warming, but better later than never.

    With Jose Reyes back with the team, Rickey Henderson will be an instructor -- teaching Reyes the art of base stealing and about being a better leadoff hitter.

  • Some reassuring words:

    The Mets view a trade for Alfonso Soriano as unlikely even after the Nationals said yesterday they will try to find a new home for him.

    While top Mets decision-makers batted around the idea of making a play for Soriano after his refusal to enter last night's exhibition game, Mets people aren't enamored of him as a player and would be interested only at a deep discount. Some Mets decision-makers view Soriano as a defensive liability at second and inflexible in his approach at the plate.

    Smart move. The Nationals are threatening to put him on the disqualified list if he does not agree to switch. That means he gets no money. Good stuff. How the Nationals could trade this guy and get even a bag of balls right now is beyond me. Check this out though...

    Yet when the Nationals practiced fielding situations in the afternoon heat, Soriano promptly reported to second base, where he took grounders and turned double plays as the second-teamer, behind Vidro. Robinson said Soriano had not been assigned to second base for the drills. Soriano joked with a few teammates as the players stretched and went through their workout, but for the most part seemed isolated.

    I'm starting to think he is a bit crazy and as if all of that were not enough, getting put on the disqualified list means the Nationals can really screw him.

    So if there is no trade, and Soriano doesn't have a change of heart, the most likely resolution is a trip to the disqualified list. An interesting wrinkle to that possibility is the fact that Soriano would not earn service time if he were disqualified. Therefore, though Soriano is due to be a free agent after the 2006 season, his contract would in effect be suspended, "and he would not be a free agent," Bowden said. "He would still be our property."

    I'm thinking he better have a change of heart soon.

  • Mark Hale breaks down some scenarios involving Heilman and Bannister.

    One MLB team executive suggested yesterday the Mets are best served with Heilman in the rotation, saying, "They should send Bannister to [Triple-A] and keep their depth in order. He will be the protection if Pedro [Martinez] is not ready. I would start Heilman for now and give Pedro as much time necessary to rest the toe and recover between starts. They can always put Heilman in the pen later in the year and bring up Bannister if they want."

    Keep in mind there is a danger in putting Bannister into the rotation based on excellent spring stats. Bannister has allowed only one earned run in 14 innings, but two springs ago, the Mets awarded a rookie pitcher the job after he gave up one earned run in 14 spring innings. That was Tyler Yates, who ended up appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for the Mets that year and put up a 6.36 ERA.

    I think Bannister looks better than Tyler Yates did and Yates did have some control issues which ultimately buried him.
  • Here is plenty of information on Xavier Nady for whomever is interested.

    Xavier Nady's father calls him Junior, as his father did, as his father did, as his father did and as his father did.

    The continual line of Xavier Nadys spans six generations and stretches back more than 150 years, to when Nady's great-great-great-grandfather, the man they call X the First, moved his family from eastern France to raise horses on a 660-acre patch of farmland in southeastern Iowa.
  • Monday, March 20, 2006

    Second Chance to Do Things Right

    Last off season, the Mets had an amazing off season. It is hard to imagine that they could have made it even more amazing, but they sure could have. They were very, very close to bringing in Delgado, but righted that situation earlier in this off season. The other piece that should have been added was Matt Clement instead of Kris Benson. They both got similar numbers in terms of salary, but Clement was much higher on everyone's list in terms of nastiness. Of course the Mets gave up a decent amount to get Benson, so that decision was already made pursue him, but that does not mean it was the right decision. Matt Clement is on the block. The Sox could trade David Wells, Matt Clement, or Bronson Arroyo and it looks like they are definitely trying to trade one of them. The Reds are interested in Matt Clement and the Red Sox like Wily Mo Pena, but no deal seems imminent. The Mets are about eight to nine million dollars below last year's payroll and could stand to add some cash.

    While I know there are probably not a lot of people high on Clement at this point, he could be a great addition to this rotation. He has the stuff to very dominant in Queens and in this division. It certainly takes more focus off of Martinez being the lynchpin of the season in my opinion. What would they want? I have no idea, but Xavier Nady or Victor Diaz would certainly be likely to be involved to platoon with Nixon. Nady would seem like the better choice for them and the Red Sox might be interested in saving some cash while fixing this log jam. Of course an optimal rotation might be one that includes Clement and Heilman or Bannister without Zambrano in it, but the Mets are married to Zambrano in the rotation. Even if Zambrano is a lock for the rotation, Clement makes this team better and helps complete the core of the team the Mets should have had last season.

    * * *

  • Iriki got blasted on Saturday during the Mets split squad games. He gave up two homers, five walks, and five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Also getting blasted on Saturday was Henry Owens. He gave up four earned runs in one inning. All was not horrible though. Royce Ring threw 2 1/3 innings and gave up one hit while striking out three. Lastings Milledge also led off the game with a homer.

    In the other game on Saturday, Mike Pelfrey went four innings and gave up three hits, one earned run on one homer, and struck out three.

  • Brian Bannister looked solid in five innings of work against a weak lineup giving up two hits, one earned run, and struck out three while walking none. Jorge Julio looked like...well...Jorge Julio 2003, 2004, and 2005. Unfortunately for the Mets, not the 2002 version. Hopefully he puts it together, the Mets gave up a decent starter for him. Lastings Milledge also displayed his cannon in the game throwing a strike to home from the outfield. He did not get the runner because Martinez could not hold onto the ball, but the kid just flashed his nasty arm.

  • The rumors are swirling that a Cuban player has defected. Hopefully it is Yulieski Gourriel and hopefully he is in Omar's front passenger seat while being driven down to Nicaragua.

    Here are some guys of interest from the team.

  • While I'm sure these computer models are a nice tool, they are not absolute. The only way to truly tell is play an entire season or stretches of the season with various lineups. As we all know, that is impossible. There are just too many x-factors involved for me that cannot be quantified that make the exercise useless. I defer to conventional wisdom.

  • The Nats are standing strong on Soriano moving to left field. Alfonso apparently is still marching to his own beat.

    Alfonso Soriano said yesterday he plans to decide in the next day or two how he feels about playing for the Nationals.

    "I have 24 hours or 48 hours to think about it," Soriano said.

  • Without much fanfare from this site, Al is done.

  • From the Daily News:

    Pitchers Matt Perisho, John Maine, Steve Schmoll and Henry Owens, outfielder Julio Ramirez and first baseman Juan Tejeda were sent to minor-league camp, leaving 47 players.

  • Pedro is in no rush and he shouldn't be.

    "We have plenty of starters who can do that," Martinez said. "What's the rush to see Pedro Martinez on Opening Day? It makes no sense. If I'm going to pitch on the third day, what difference does it make?"

  • Kris Benson faces the Mets tomorrow in Fort Lauderdale. I bet Benson has never wanted to win a spring game so bad.