Round Up The Troops, The Target Has Been Identified
The rumors are out there and really, there has to be some truth behind them.
Execs think the Devil Rays would trade either Carl Crawford or Rocco Baldelli but would insist on young pitching studs in return. Teams love the contract Baldelli negotiated for himself. But he's one player who'd really be wise, if traded, to abandon his deal. This is why you need to hire agents, fellas.
- Rocco Baldelli is signed through 2008. He receives $.75 million in 2007 and $2.25 in 2008 with kickers that can push both figures up to $2.5 and $4.5 million in each respective year. Then he has a team option in 2009, a dual option in 2010, and a team option in 2011. Basically, he can be under control for another five years at bargain prices although he would most likley opt out in 2010 or ask to renegotiate (honestly, I have no idea how a guy that is traded mid-contract but is signed through their arbitration years is treated in terms of being able to opt out). Besides, the guy fired Scott Boras and did the contract himself so he earns some bonus points there.
- Carl Crawford is signed through 2010 with team options included. He is due to earn $4 million in 2007 and 5.25M in 2008. Then there is a team option for 2009 worth $8.25 million and a team option for 2010 worth $10 million with incentives that could escalate his salary.
- The Devil Rays have Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Johnny Gomes, and Delmon Young ready to play the outfield opening day in 2007. Throw into the mix the extremely talented and highly insane Elijah Dukes. You could call that a log jam.
- Both Baldelli and Crawford might be gone by the time the Rays are competitive. They are clearly still a few years away while they wait for their young arms to step up and will most likley be out of their price range when their contracts are up. The Devil Rays are looking more for pitching depth than outfield depth anyway.
- With Joel Guzman and BJ Upton both slated to be ready in 2007 added to big club's roster, this Devil Ray team has plenty of firepower. They want arms, so while it looked like posturing and shit-talking in the past in regards to freeing up their log jam, it really makes sense for them to act on this and move one of them.
The Mets have some blue chip prospects in their stable to deal. If either one of those guys is brought in, Lastings Milledge is completely expendable. He can be dealt for more chips to give to the Devil Rays and package whatever they get back for Milledge with likes of Mike Pelfrey or Phil Humber, whomever the Mets prefer to deal (I'd stick with Humber). My gut tells me that Crawford should be more costly than Baldelli. Crawford has more raw talent, but Baldelli balances out the lineup better being a righty and hits lefties and righties very well. However, Crawford hits lefties very well for a left-handed batter so I'm torn between the two. It's a win/win situation between the two players.
I know the focus for the Mets is starting pitching and they would be giving away some of their pitching depth, but if given the chance, the Mets need to explore getting these guys at all costs. They can still add a stud pitcher via free agency because these two players are so affordable. Either of these guys would really enable the Mets to upgrade their team appreciably and much more than anyone could have imagined. An ace in the form of Zito/Schmidt/Daisuke and a 25 year old tabbed to be a perennial All-Star? Coop predicted something big. She might have been thinking about a trade involving pitching, but Crawford or Baldelli could be that huge trade with the Mets flexing their financial muscle to bring in their ace. If it can be done, it must be done. Bottom line.
Best Pro Debut: RP Joe Smith & SP Tobi Stoner
Best Athlete: OF Daniel Stegall
Best Pure Hitter: OF Dustin Martin
Best Raw Power: C Bradley Hubbert & OF Jeremy Barfield (not signed yet)
Fastest Runner: OF Will Bashelor
Best Defensive Player: SS/SB Ritchie Price
Best Fastball: SP Kevin Mulvey & RP John Holdzkum
Best Breaking Ball: RP Joe Smith
Closest to the Majors: SP Kevin Mulvey & RP Joe Smith
Best Late Round Pick: SP Josh Stinson
already works at 89-92 mph and touches 94, with a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. He also has the best curveball in New York's draft, though it's not as consistent as Smith's slider. He posted a 1.35 ERA in three low Class A starts at age 18.
The One Who Got Away: Justin Woodall
Assessment: Rudy Terrassas didn't have a first-round pick in his first draft as Mets scouting director, but his first two choices already have advanced to Double-A. New York focused on pitching, with Stegall the only position player signed out of the first 11 rounds.
Overall, the draft is bad. Mulvey looks better than expected after mediocre numbers out of a weak school for baseball and Joe Smith looks like Chad Bradford on steroids as he kept righties to a .104 BAA, but lefties hit him at a .306 clip and the rumor was he can get lefties out too. However, if at worst he is another Bradford, they could have done worse because Bradford was huge for the Mets this season.
There were some nice surprises in terms of pitching a la Jon Neise in 2005 in the last draft, but not having a first rounder really hurt them. In the Mets 18th spot in the draft, the Phillies nabbed Kyle Drabek. If the Mets had a chance to nab a blue chipper of that ilk in addition to what they picked they up, it would have changed the outlook of the draft, but it is what it is. The Mets did get value for that first round pick in Billy Wagner, but it is vital to get that top tier talent in the system. Luckily, the Mets have managed to pull of some nice late round picks in addition to their international signings to help fray the damage of not having a first round pick, but the draft left a lot to be desired.
Walker and his girlfriend, Charlotte softball player Christy Murray, were on a five-hour trip on the New River when their canoe got stuck on a group of rocks. The pair was able to get out of the boat and free it and were trying to wade downstream when Walker reportedly stepped into a trough and was pulled underwater by the current, forcing him to lose his grip on the canoe. Murray was able to get ashore and run to call for help.
I don't see teams playing chicken with the Millers, spending early-first-rounders on them and trying to sign them for slot money. That's going to result in not signing the player and then waiting an extra year to sign a talent comparable to what they could have drafted. In 2000, the Marlins made Gonzalez the No. 1 choice in large part because he took a below-market bonus, and it's unlikely they would have given Mauer or Prior well above slot money in 2001. Same thing with the Padres taking Matt Bush No. 1 in 2004: If they weren't going to give Stephen Drew $6 million dollars, why should we think they'd give it to Justin Upton a year later?
With the unpredictability of the draft, injuries, the need to develop talent, etc., that would be a dangerous game for teams to play especially teams that value their picks highly. Also, the teams that are not going to spend big for big talent one year will most likely not be doing it the next year as Jim had said. Might teams do it? Sure, but it would be rare. Furthermore, that worry particularly would be aimed at the earlier part of the round. I do not envision teams pulling any funny business for latter first round picks in the next season. Is the risk there is a team that thinks a once in a lifetime talent will be there next season? Of course. But even if they were the first pick, they will not be the first pick the following season, but the second pick. I do not think there should be much concern about this.
Ken Oberkfell is expected to remain the manager of the Mets' Triple-A team as it move to New Orleans, with Howard Johnson as his hitting coach, unless either gets a major league job elsewhere. HoJo is up for the Rockies' hitting coach post, as is Gary Carter, who has been offered the AA Binghamton managing job. ... Agent Gregg Clifton said Tom Glavine will wait before evaluating whether to return to the Mets or go back to Atlanta.
The Mets would be silly to let those guys get away. I am pulling for Acta to move on to create an opening for one of those two.
Two big names - Barry Zito and Alfonso Soriano - will be free agents this fall, and a third big name, Manny Ramirez, could available in a trade. But right now, according to a source familiar with the situation, the Mets are not interested in pursuing any of them.
The Mets' agenda this off-season still can change, as the team will have organizational meetings shortly. But the strong initial indication, according to the source, is that the Mets are not targeting any specific position player unlike last year when they went after closer Billy Wagner.
I have a friend who says Omar always says the exact opposite of what he intends to do, but it is hard to believe that Zito would be out of their price range.