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

Friday, October 27, 2006

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.
Really, I'll take either one. Both will be extremely costly, but Omar needs to look at this. Sure, the Angels could slap together a better package, but they have been reluctant to part with one of their middle infield studs in Wood and Kendrick and are looking to add firepower if they deal Ervin Santana, but it would most likely cost more than just Santana to get either one of those two.

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.

* * *

  • Baseball America goes over the National League East's 2006 draft and gives a nice retrospective look at how it turned out.

    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.

  • Erik Walker, who was a pitching prospect for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, died in a canoeing accident on Saturday. His body was found yesterday after days of searching.

    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.

  • Mesa lost to Peoria 7-3. Fernando Martinez was moved up into the two hole and responded by going 0 for 4 with a walk and run scored.

  • Jim Callis speaks to an issue that a lot of people thought about. With the new CBA in place, teams that fail to sign their first round pick will no longer get a supplemental pick, but that same pick the next year. The thought was, if a team with the first pick likes next years crop better, they can pick a top prospect, low-ball him, and get to pick again next year in the 2nd slot to try and get they guy they really want.

    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.

  • What happend to the NL not having a chance? Really, sports is so unpredictable it is comical. How could a team with 83 wins beat the Mets? The same way they are beating the unstoppable AL team. So if the Cardinals beat the Mets and the Tigers beat the Yankees, then by transitive property, if the Cardinals beat the Tigers are the Mets better than the Yankees?

  • John Maine playing for MLB's All-Stars in Japan? I like the kid, but is he the best MLB is offering? Clay Hensley was also added and similarly, he had a nice rookie campaign, but it is hard to believe the MLB is putting their best foot forward pitching-wise.

  • Rumblings on the farm:

    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.

  • Looks like my prediction of Barry Zito will not come to fruition.

    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.
  • Thursday, October 26, 2006

    If a World Series is played and no one watches, does it really happen?

    Deep, I know.

    Open season is almost upon us and the only thing between us and weeks of insane rumors is a World Series that is too painful to watch for us to actually care about. Get it over with already so Omar can start shaping this team and arming them for a run in 2007 that will be a tremendous disappointment without a trip to the World Series. The Hot Stove is a time that I know most of us love. It is the time for people to write up crazy ass lineups that include Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee with Barry Zito and Dontrelle Willis in the rotation and Sandy Koufax brought in as lefty specialist. You know what? I love all of it. There is a certain rabidness to this time of year that I love.

    The future is bright and Omar is paving the road ahead with golden bricks my friends. Omar has thrown the idea of 'baby steps' out the window and has completely revamped public opinion of this team in in two off-seasons. He had the best off-season in Met history in '04/'05 and managed to have another stellar one in '05/'06. If Omar has shown us anything so far, he has shown us he is a tireless worker that is not afraid to chase someone because the Yankees might be chasing them. He is not afraid of chasing someone because their agent is Scott Boras. I am ready go so let's get this World Series over with so the real fun can start.

    * * *

  • Phil Humber is ok.

    The Mets decided to pull former top pick Phil Humber from the Arizona Fall League this weekend because the right-hander is dealing with what he called "a little tendinitis" in his shoulder.

    "Everything is cool," Humber told MiLB.com. "It's just a little tendonitis, a tired arm, so they decided to send me home. I don't think it's going to be a big deal. They're just making sure nothing bad happens out of season. I wanted to stay and compete, but it's best to be safe so I came home and now I'll get ready for spring."

    Keep moving...there is nothing to see here. I know teams sometimes play down bad situations, but the kid is coming of Tommy John surgery and has not been pitching that long. I was personally surprised he did not get the winter off and was put to work. We all know he needs to build arm strength, but I'm sure he also needs to be eased into things. Get him ready for Spring Training and let him report to AAA when the season starts so he can work on things and get ready for a mid-season call up if needed.

  • All you Apple Computer owning nerds (you know who you are) will get a nice laugh out of this one. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer, sells Windows 1.0. I thought it was a joke at first too, but it's not. 'Tis real as the mole on the side of Carlos Beltran's head.

  • Mike Carp is doing OK in the Hawaii Winter League. He has a .263/.417/.421 line with five hits, one double, and one triple. However, he is 5 for 14 against righties for a .357 average and is 0 for 5 against lefties. While his stats for St. Lucie showed him to be much more adept against righties with an above .300 batting average, he was not invisible lefties, but it does warrant some watching in the 2007 season.

  • It is a long shot for the Braves to bring back Tom Glavine at this point, but did Tom forget how he could not bring his kids to the ballpark when he first was a Met visiting Atlanta to play them? I understand the memories and all the good things that happened, but you are Met now man. Live with it and enjoy the $14 million they will give you in 2007.

  • The kid should be on the block, but only for premium value in the neighborhood of a 27 year old and arbitration eligible stud. I still thought he showed flashes of game breaking ability like Jose Reyes has and will be a very good ballplayer, but I am in the Omar camp of everyone being available for the right price.

  • Braden, you are making a lot of enemies.

    Braden Looper was among the players in the visitors' clubhouse at Shea Stadium last Thursday after the Cardinals had won the pennant, mimicking the "Ole, ole, ole!" chant Mets fans do to support Jose Reyes.

    "The what?" Looper asked, pretending to be dumbfounded.

    "We always do that," the ex-Met continued, tongue in cheek. "We do that in the bullpen. We do it every time we score. We do it in the clubhouse. It's just having fun, you know?"

    You might win the World Series and get a nice ring and all, but you will still be ugly.

  • Floyd had surgery and it is hard for me to envision him back as a Met with so much uncertainty surrounding him. He has a long recovery process and the Mets need to have their outfield plan in place long before that.
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Wallace Matthews, Idiot Savant or Just Idiot?

    Wallace Matthews is a pretty accomplished figure in sports. He was an amateur boxer in his previous life and competed in the 1977 Golden Gloves Tournament and has extensively covered boxing for a while including providing coverage for ESPN, Showtime, SportsChannel, and NBC during the 1988 Seoul Games. However, when it comes to baseball Wallace may be able to put his words together much better than me and speak more eloquently, but he is an unabated jerkoff. It baffles me why he gets paid to write clearly biased articles that are borderline nonsensical.

    After this gem of an article, he comes back out this a new one.

    With all due respect to Omar Minaya, the only sure thing they are building in Flushing is a new stadium.

    It will be a beauty, too, with plenty of luxury boxes, 10,000 fewer cheap seats that just get in the way of the rich and privileged, ticket prices twice as high as those in dumpy old Shea Stadium, and a newcomer to the New York sports marketplace, a concept not even the money-grubbing Yankees have dared to adopt, the personal seat license.

    As for the ballclub, well . . . you just may have seen the best of it Wednesday night in Game 6 of the NLCS at Shea.

    Yup. You hit the nail on the head. A 97 win team built around a 23 year old shortstop who should finish in the top ten for MVP voting, a 23 year old third baseman who any GM would give their first born for, a 29 year old centerfielder who was arguably the best player in baseball for five months of the season before a September swoon, a bevy of young pitching, a brilliant bullpen, and money to spend has peaked already.

    As for the ballclub, well . . . you just may have seen the best of it Wednesday night in Game 6 of the NLCS at Shea.

    What you saw the next night in Game 7 was none too good, and clearly, not good enough. The $119-million slugger couldn't pull the trigger with the season on the line, the $44-million closer never got out of the bullpen and the manager who described himself as "a winner" before the game finished up a loser.

    First, I've heard enough of the Beltran debacle. Yes, he took strike three looking. Would everyone have felt better if he swung and missed? The pitch was as good of a curveball as you will see. The thing dropped a few feet and landed in the zone and he got beat. It happens in sports and the Met offense failed all game. As far as the team not being good enough, what other team could lose their #1 and #2 starters heading into the playoffs and still have the World Series end up being so close and within their reach? Dumb luck? Fuck no, the Mets are good.

    There was nothing to be happy about in Game 7, unless it was the realization that Oliver Perez might well be your No. 2 starter next season, right behind the ace, John Maine. How's that for an encouraging start on 2007?

    Dick. There is no way the Mets do not come away with a front end starter this off-season and will most likely be bringing The Duque back. That leaves Glavine, Pedro, The Duque, mystery stud, John Maine, and Oliver Perez for five spots. This team will go from their rotation being their weakness to having the best rotation in the NL, if not baseball by August of 2007. All of that is if Oliver Perez does not keep improving. If he regains 80% of what he was in 2004, the Mets could have three #1-type starters when Pedro returns with The Duque and Glavine rounding out the starting five with Maine moved into the bullpen. I just wet myself.

    The Mets thinking they can "build off this experience" makes as much sense as fighters who claim they somehow benefited from being knocked unconscious in a title fight.

    Teams don't build off collapses like the one the Mets suffered against the Cardinals. Often, they get buried under them. And the way the game is played these days, often the first chance is the only one a team gets. The likelihood is the Mets will never get another chance as good as the one they had this year.

    You 'build' off it by your young players getting big game experience. You learn from it by having an idea where you need to improve to take your 2007 version of the Mets further. This team is going to be a contender for a long time. Omar gets it, but it seems you don't.

    Whichever team wins the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals will represent the seventh different team to win it all in the last seven years, and four of the previous five did not even make the playoffs the following year.

    Um, but the Cardinals have made the playoffs the last six of seven years. I'm pretty sure the Mets will have more opportunities and I do not call a year in which their ace and their back-up #1 playoff starter goes down their best shot. Also, didn't you write the other day that whoever won the NL had no shot anyway (how is that prediction working out anyway)? Again, how was this their best shot if they had no shot?

    If the Mets think they are laying the foundation for a dynasty of their own, and multiple trips to the World Series, they are fooling only themselves. This was their shot, their perfect storm, and they blew it. This year, they got a chance to dominate a weak National League and roll over two mediocre playoff opponents, one of which managed to win only 83 games all season. But they couldn't do it.

    Last I checked, the Mets were so far ahead of the other NL teams. In 2007, their young guys like Maine, Reyes, and Wright should continue to improve. The Mets have some play room and that is if they brought back the same 2006 team. The same 2006 Met team would STILL be the best team in the NL in '07 and they will actually improve in '07. The league should be worried about the Mets and not the other way around.

    How Minaya or his boss, Fred Wilpon, can truly believe the baseball planets will align this way for them again next year, only they know.

    How do they know the Braves will continue to play like bottom-feeders, or that the Phillies will continue to underachieve, or that Jeffrey Loria, whose largesse gifted the Mets with Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado, suddenly won't decide he would like the Marlins to win again?

    Ah, Minaya and Fred have no idea. Luckily for all of us heebs, you know. As for the rest...
  • The Braves will not always be bottom feeders, but they are a bit more than a off-season away from actually making a run at second place, forget first. I don't care if Glavine convinces Maddux to head back to Atlanta with him for 'one last run'. The Mets would roll over them.
  • The Phillies are a good team offensively, but last I checked, their rotation leaves a bit to be desired. The Mets are a better team top to bottom and it's not even close.
  • The Marlins will win again. They will assuredly win again. When? Who knows. They'll be competitive, but they have a bit of growing up to do. And when they do win, they will be torn down again only leaving one year the NL is not the Mets to lose.

    The Mets? The Mets have staying power. They have money and they have depth. Their team's core will be back next season with the priority on starting pitching this off-season. After the bigs, they have Phil Humber, Lastings Milledge, Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Carlos Gomez, Mike Carp, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra, Mike Pelfrey, and Jesus Flores. They have top flight prospects where they need them and they have developed some depth to trade from. Other teams will surely improve. The Dodgers had a good team this year and stand to get better in 2007. The Padres had a nice little year to build off of. The Cubs can really take a big leap forward if they can snatch Soriano. However, the Mets will be in it every year and are the team to beat.

    It's pretty funny though, just when you thought Matthews had turned a corner with this article, he just comes back to confuse everyone with drivel that confounds most rational people.

    * * *

  • It's a slow news day and about 90% of Met articles are about Carlos Delgado winning the Roberto Clemente award. I may be wrong about a lot of other things, but I was right about Delgado being much more than a good bat at first base. The guy is a leader and all around swell guy.

    Also mentioned in the article was Delgado's possible desire to have the Mets pick up his option and guarantee it while using his ability to opt-out of his contract as leverage of sorts, though I would not expect him to leave regardless. Delgado is on contract for $14.4 million in 2007, $16 million in 2008, and his option is worth $12 million. The Marlins are footing some of the bill and are paying the Mets a total of $7 million in payments of $1 million in 2006, $2 million in 2007, and $4 million in 2008. Basically, the Mets are getting him for $12 million a year and 2009 would be no different. He would be 37 during that option year and in reality, should be able to perform reasonably well. I would like to see them guarantee 2009 for less money and add an additional option with a buyout that will not get picked up to reduce some of the financial burden in 2009 a la Tom Glavine's deal, but it certainly will not hurt to have him around for another year which would give the Mets one more year to develop Mike Carp.

    I say go for it.

  • 'D' is for Detroit. 'D' is for Destiny. 'D' is for Douchebags. Listen, I do not like the Cardinals. Far from it. However, with all the trashing on the Mets and the NL this year, you cannot tell me there will not be the slightest sense of accomplishment to have had gone seven against the eventual World Series winners. Would you rather lose to the losers or the winners? The Yankees might have lost to the losers, but the Mets? Not so much. Carpenter was brilliant, but instead of just saying they got beat, the digs kept coming.

    "He made more mistakes against the Mets, from watching on TV," said Detroit's Vance Wilson. "We hammer mistakes. There weren't many mistakes made."

    Oh, it is not that the Mets are good or anything and maybe better than the Tigers? The game seven loss still hurts, believe me. I think you all know how much I like the Mets, but only one winner makes sense.

  • Steve Popper has his possible off-season moves.

    1) Add Offense
    2) Bring back the bullpen
    3) Add an ace

    Popper is not reinventing the wheel here, but I'm on board.

  • Changes...changes...changes.

    Teams that fail to sign a first-round pick no longer receive an extra pick after the first round as compensation, but instead a virtually identical pick the following year; for example, a team that fails to sign the No. 5 pick one year will receive the No. 6 pick the next, rather than one in the 30s or 40s. The same compensation also now exists for unsigned second-round picks, while a team that fails to sign a third-round pick will receive a sandwich pick between the third and fourth rounds.

    The new system should decrease the growth of bonus payments to amateurs, as teams can walk away from negotiations with the reassurance of having a similar pick the next year.

    I like it and they are right. Simply too much leverage was on the side of the kids who never played professional ball with some never playing above high school!

    One other change to the amateur draft is a uniform signing date of Aug. 15 for all players (other than college seniors), replacing the longtime and clumsy deadline of the moment a player literally attends his first four-year college class. In addition to creating some order for all involved--from teams to players to college coaches wanting an earlier idea of their incoming class--this also eliminates the junior-college, draft-and-follow rule in which players who attended two-year schools could sign with their drafting club until one week before the following draft.

    No more negotiations dragging on and dragging on. This is a good one too.

    Several ideas that have been discussed over the years, such as the trading of draft picks and an either supplemental or combined draft of all players worldwide, were not adopted.

    Game on! The Mets can still outspend small market teams on the int'l front. I was for leveling the playing field and having everyone added into the draft since I do not mind everyone having as equal of an opportunity as possible to get players, but I'm not going to cry about this one.

    Some changes have been made to the draft-pick compensation afforded teams which lose major league free agents. Type C free agents have been eliminated, while teams that lose Type B free agents, which had previously received a second-round pick from the signing club, will now get a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. (This was pursued by the union to remove the disincentive for teams to sign those players.) Those changes go into effect immediately.

    The number of players deemed Type A and B has been tweaked as well. Type A free agents, whose former team continue to receive a first- or second-round pick from the signing club as well as an extra pick between the first and second rounds, will be reduced from the 30 percent of players (as determined by a statistical formula) to 20; the Type B band is reduced from 31-50 percent to 21-40.

    Game not on! Chasing big time free agents will still cost draft picks, but 2nd tier players will no longer be mystically deemed type A players.

    Rather than teams being allowed three years (for players signed at age 19 or older) or four years (for players 18 and younger) before leaving them off the 40-man roster subjects them to the Rule 5 draft, those periods have been lengthened to four and five. Ownership considered this a significant boost in their efforts to operate their minor league systems more effectively.

    Also good.

    All of this does not take effect until next off-season.

  • Mesa beat Peoria 12-7. Kevin Mulvey got the start and gave up three runs, five hits, and one walk in three innings. Fernando Martinez went 1 for 3 with a run scored and is batting .233 as a boy amongst men.
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Endy Will Save Us All

    There comes a time in everyone's life when they have to admit they were wrong. I was critical of Endy Chavez being brought in and Tike Redman being jettisoned off and now? Not so much.

    According to NYFansonly.com, Tike Redman was designated for assignment. That didn't take too long and that leaves Endy Chavez as the resident backup outfielder/speedster lefty off the bench. Chavez is worse player in my opinion and not by a little either. Though it is a minor thing, this is the kind of stuff that gets me pissed at Omar. He could still pass through waivers and be retained, but I just think he has no shot at the big club with Chavez around.

    Just for the record, I was behind Tike because I thought he was the better glove from what I've seen of him in Pittsburgh playing centerfield and I thought he had more upside offensively.

    Omar stands by his guys. He loves his old players and will try and give them the opportunity to succeed over and over again. Endy Chavez has not only been thrown into the mix, but given a Major League contract. The team already had four outfielders on the Major League roster and one guy in Tike Redman, who figured to compete as the backup centerfielder that could be a defensive replacement/platoon guy and as a left-handed bat off the bench. Endy Chavez represents the same type of player as Tike Redman, but will cost money if cut from the team and is needlessly taking up a spot on the 40 man roster. The redundancy is certainly perplexing, but would have been acceptable if the best man would be able to win the job.

    Omar is sometimes almost loyal to a fault. Maybe he feels he knows his old players better and their abilities since he is so familiar with them, but for whatever reason he tends to lean towards them. It is not only not out of the realm of possibilities that Redman out performs Chavez this spring and does not make the team, but highly likely. Just like Heath Bell is set to be a causality solely because he has options while less talented players head north simply because they got Major League contracts.

    Who would have guessed that Endy Chavez would have had a career year for the Mets in 2006? His mom? Maybe, but probably not even her. The thing about Endy is that he was supposed to be the Expos/Nationals leadoff man of the future. He broke in the league at 23 and was traded to the Montreal Expos from the Kansas City Royals. At 24, he hit .296/.321/.464 for the Nationals and looked like a promising young player. He followed that up with a sub-par year in which he posted a below .300 OBP and played slightly better in 2004, but had worn out his welcome with Frank Robinson. In 2005, he was horrendous and put up a .215/.243/.299 line in 91 games with the Phillies and was rewarded with a $500,000 contract with the Mets.

    Could I be faulted for not being enamored with the guy? Now, I may look stupid, but I'm not. I do not think it is a forgone conclusion that the Endy Chavez of 2006 is the Endy Chavez that we will see for the rest of his career, but the fact remains he is in his prime right now. He could have just needed some guidance and could have just needed to be a in an environment more conducive for him to succeed. Philly was not exactly the best place in 2005, just ask Mr. Billy Wagner. It is well documented that Frank Robinson is not exactly the most well liked manager in the league and if you are on his bad side, you are not in a good position.

    However, in 2006, Endy came up big for the Mets time after time and displayed some spectacular defense while being solid at the plate. He hit over .300 in three months of 2006 and hit .280 in September. His .328 batting average in the second half of the season was second to only Paul LoDuca and .023 points higher than third place David Wright. With Shawn Green manning right field at this point and left field due to be Lastings Milledge or possibly a big bat, there is room for Endy. While I do not think a full time job is the way to go with him, it is not crazy to envision him getting 130 games again. The tricky part will be keeping him around. He certainly played well enough and would be cheap enough to warrent some team taking a chance on him for an affordable multi-year contract, but Omar needs to see what he can do to hold onto him. He was such a big part of this team and added so much depth to this team, it would be a shame to see him leave.

    * * *

  • Talk about spin:

    Do you think trading John Maine for Kris Benson was a good deal? I understand Benson is a reliable innings eater, but Maine seems to have much more potential to contribute to the Mets in the future.
    -- Will R., Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

    Actually, when Baltimore acquired Benson from the Mets last winter, Maine wasn't even the main player in the exchange. Ex-closer Jorge Julio also went over to New York in the deal, but he was subsequently traded to the D-backs. Maine pitched well for the Mets -- both in the regular season and the playoffs -- but Benson is a far more accomplished pitcher and should be effective for years to come.

    In hindsight, Maine may have proven to be a better starting option than Rodrigo Lopez or Bruce Chen, but the Orioles decided that they had some more important pitching prospects to protect. Benson didn't have his best year, but he provided a steady backbone to the rotation and bought more time for young arms like Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen to mature.

    The move is indefensible if you are team that is essentially in a re-building phase to trade a guy like Maine for a pitcher like Benson. If Benson is going to be your team's Jeff Suppan as a mid-rotation solid guy and you figure to be in the playoffs, great. But he was not that for the Orioles. They got him to be their ace on a bad team. You need to build on young pitching the Orioles made a bad move. It was a bad move for them then and it is still a bad move in hindsight.

    Here is the funniest part though...

    You have to give talent to get talent. The O's gave up a potentially good pitcher, but they got a league-average starter at a league-average salary.

    And you are backing that deal as a good one while giving a potentially good pitcher up for a league average one? The Orioles might even lose him this off-season as he can opt out of his contract. So Will R., to answer your question, it was a bad move by the Orioles to deal Julio and Maine for Kris Benson.

  • Jim Callis? On board with Daisuke train.

    The bottom line is that Matsuzaka has a lively 90-96 mph fastball, a plus-plus slider, a splitter and a changeup. He has dominated in Japan and he dominated in the World Baseball Classic, where he was the MVP. In eight years in Japan, he has led the Pacific League in strikeouts four times, victories three times, ERA twice and won the Sawamura Award (the Japanese Cy Young Award) once. He has been a legend since his high school days, when he threw 250 pitches to win a 17-inning game in the quarterfinals of Japan's national prep tournament—then came back to get a save the next day and to throw a no-hitter in the finals two days after that. He's also 26, so he should have a lot of pitching ahead of him.

    Without hesitation, I would take Matsuzaka over Zito or Schmidt or any other pitcher who will be on the free-agent market this offseason. Similarly, if Matsuzaka does come over, he has to rank as the game's best pitching prospect. His stuff is in the same class as Philip Hughes (Yankees) or Homer Bailey (Reds), and he has proven himself at a higher level.

    It could cost $20 million to $30 million to win the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka and at least twice that to sign him. Every big-budget team is expected to at least explore that possibility, and he's worth more to a club that doesn't already have a Japanese star because of the new revenue it could generate from Japanese TV and advertising rights. It's just a guess, but I could see him winding up with the Rangers, who need pitching in the worst way and never have been afraid to spend exorbitantly on Scott Boras clients.

  • Ouch! Baseball America has their prospect rankings out and it is a grim picture for the Mets farm system. I really thought Jesus Flores was going to make an appearance in the top ten for catchers, but he missed out. In fact, the Mets only had prospects check in for the centerfield spot and for the right handed pitching spot. Fernando Martinez checked in at the sixth spot and Carlos Gomez checked in at the eighth spot. If Lastings had been eligible, he would have most likely checked in in the fourth spot pushing everyone else down one slot in center. For right handed pitchers, Mike Pelfrey checked in at the ninth spot and Phil Humber checked in at the eleventh spot.

    Interestingly enough, Humber seems to have closed the gap on Pelfrey in terms of prospect status and Hochevar, who was not considered as good at Pelfrey during the 2005 draft has rocketed up to the third spot. The best overall? Philip Hughes. A little tidbit for you to chew on and enjoy, the Mets had four guys land on the list while the Yankees had three.

  • The Minor League free agents are out and here a few guys I would give an invite to join Spring Training.

    Dustan Mohr: He has had two pretty bad years in a row, but he has had some mild success in the past and is a right handed outfielder that could play all three outfield spots. The Mets direly need to balance their outfield this off-season.

    Carlos Hernandez: He has had shoulder issues in the past but really opened some eyes when he was 22 and pitching well for the Astros. He is certainly worth a look for a Minor League contract if the Astros are fed up with him.

    Esteban Yan: He has a live arm and has mixed results in the past (mostly bad), but he is the type of guy that thrives under Rick Peterson.

    Jesus Colome: He has a rocket for an arm and has had mixed success in the bigs in the past. Again, a guy that can thrive under Rick Petereson.

    Francis Beltran: He has never lived up to expectations, but he can throw a mid to high 90's fastball being he is still just 26 years old, he could still end up being a solid reliever.

  • AFL Update:

    Fernando and Mike Pelfrey are good.

    Two Mets players, outfielder Fernando Martinez and righthanded pitcher Mike Pelfrey, will play in the Arizona Fall League's inaugural "Rising Stars Showcase" at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, AZ on Friday, Oct. 27th.

    Pelfrey will start for the East Division in the Showcase. Martinez and Pelfrey both play for the Soler Sox in the AFL.

    Just let it sink in how young Fernando is.

    Oct 21st: Mesa beats Grand Canyon, but Fernando Martinez goes 0 for 4 and faces a legit pitcher in Luke Hochevar in the process. He did not strike out though, he managed to pop out to Troy Tulowitzki.

    Oct 23rd: Mesa lost to Phoenix 3-2 as Fernando went 1 for 2 with his second homerun in the AFL with his fifth RBI.

  • Steve Popper gives Willie straight A's. While I cannot argue with leadership and handling players resulting in an A, his strategy is still lacking. It is only masked by a well balanced team in which no bullpen arm was the wrong choice and the Mets quite a few capable bats in which the lineup could just be written and then left to perform.

  • Four Mets got surgery and the surprising one is obviously Aaron Heilman.

    Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Aaron Heilman and Chris Woodward went under the knife yesterday at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Cliff Floyd and Roberto Hernandez are scheduled to do the same tomorrow.

    Pretty crazy. That will make seven guys who have gotten surgery already since the playoffs started through the end of today.

    The Mets never disclosed that anything was wrong with Heilman, who served up Yadier Molina's tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning of Game 7, but he also had surgery for tennis elbow. Woodward's operation was for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

  • 44 and still trucking. Should the Mets be shaking in their boots yet?
  • Monday, October 23, 2006

    Compensation? We Don't Need No Stinking Compensation.

    Thanks to Benny for pointing this out...

    In the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there will be no compensation picks for singing free agents anymore.

    The new deal won’t have any major changes from the past, but there were be several subtle alterations that will have a long-term benefit. The two sides have agreed to eliminate draft choice compensation for teams losing free agents, and they will have a slotting system for bonus money paid to June draft choices.

    At first look, this helps the richer teams who will be picking studs whose contracts expire and are leaving small market teams while not having to surrender anything to do it. However, the compensation idea has hampered free agency to the point where it inhibits who will actually pursue who. Small markets teams who depend on their draft picks are forced to look elsewhere sometimes when there is a guy they like, but will cost them their first round pick if they did not own a top fifteen draft pick.

    Additionally, this hurts the ball players themselves. There are guys that have their markets limited because they are offered arbitration and some teams have been undoubtedly deterred from going after certain players because they could not lose a pick. It opens up the market completely with no caveats. While the system was geared to help teams that could not afford some of their departing players, it did work both ways. For one, rich teams like the Red Sox sometimes had more picks than any other teams in the first round and compensation round. Second, there are plenty of teams who do not have deep pockets that couldn't risk offering big ticket players on the chance they could accept and let those players walk away anyway. It became a vehicle for teams like the Yankees to offer whomever's contract is up arbitration so they can stockpile picks.

    The system should either have been chucked or re-worked so it did benefit poorer teams, but if the rules were not going to help poor teams, this was the way to go. There are plenty of poorer teams that have enough trouble affording one first round pick much less two or three and bypass some of the better players just so they can stay within a budget. Maybe it is for my own selfish reasons like my favorite team has deep pockets and is usually giving their picks away, but I really do not think that is it. Ultimately, it makes sense and if they want to help some of the poorer teams, I'm sure there is a better way. For now, Omar can just concentrate on spending on whomever he wants without any impact on their draft...swellicious.

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  • Why would Tom even want to go back to the Braves? Ten wins on that team is far from a guarentee and with the Mets, he will have an exceptionally easier time notching his 300th win. I do not care what excuses he has about family and needs to head back to Atlanta for them, but it makes more sense for him to stay with the Mets, get more wins, and have a shot at winning another World Series title.

  • The rich man's Steve Trachsel is going to cash in on his next contract.

    ESPN.com's Buster Olney estimates Suppan added $15-$20 million to his next contract by virtue of his stellar Game 7 performance in the NLCS.

  • Adam Rubin has the four keys to the Mets off-season.

    1. Re-sign Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, Guillermo Mota and Chad Bradford

    I would not complain about The Duque coming back, but with the Mets need to bring in a bonafide ace, John Maine looking like a keeper, Oliver Perez looking like a starter in 2007, and Glavine most likely coming back, it will be a crowded situation. I would also like to keep a spot open for Humber or Pelfrey, but having them get one full year at AAA would not be the worst thing in the world. When Pedro comes off the DL, he would push Maine, The Duque, or Oliver Perez into the bullpen and hopefully that would be a tough decision. Mota, Bradford, and Glavine are musts, but Hernandez is not a must, but not a bad luxury item to crowd the rotation.

    2. Trade Lastings Milledge for an ace

    I would package Milledge and Heilman up for an ace in a second. But ONLY a true ace on the right side of 30. That, of course, is dependent upon Dirty being ready to go also.

    3. Sign Moises Alou and Julio Lugo

    I cannot argue with these choices as long as Moises is here on a one year contract. Next year is kind of a transitional year for the Mets in the outfield as they are buying time for some of their young studs to develop more.

    4. Stockpile starters

    Adam Rubin does not think the Mets would run with John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Pelfrey/Humber for the first half of the season, but I believe in Maine and Perez a lot. I guess it depends what camp you are in.

  • How much is Willie-Time worth? If you ask me, not much. He will be signing an extension for sure and I will get to enjoy is managerial prowess for years to come. Good seasons to not mean you necessarily have a good manager and he did make some mistakes this season as all mangers do, but he is far from the upper echelon of managers. The Mets need a guy who is in that upper echelon but that will have to be tabled for long, long time.

  • Apparently, the Mets like to try and kill their ushers. Who knew?

    According to the complaint, other elderly ushers were reassigned to jobs they were sure to fail at. One suffered a fatal heart attack soon after he was sent to work the upper deck. Two others were demoted to the commissary, "a position that is very difficult for elderly people," according to the complaint. One died soon after, the documents said.

  • Omar wants The Duque back.

    I'm a big fan of El Duque," he said. "To me, he brings a lot to the table, not only between the white lines. He brings a lot to the table in the clubhouse. He's a competitor. He's the kind of guy who makes us better."

    Like I said, I have mixed feelings on this but it certainly would not be a bad thing.