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

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Who's what?

Mark Loretta (A)
David Riske (A)
Julio Lugo (A)
Barry Zito (A)
David Dellucci (A)
Ronnie Belliard (A)
Mark Mulder (B)
Moises Alou (A)
Mark DeRosa (B)
Ted Lilly (B)
Justin Speier (A)
Alfonso Soriano (A)

Wow. It will be tough for the Mets to make it through the off-season without getting their first and probably their 2nd round pick taken from them. It is a good thing baseball reworked the entire compensation rules in regards to flagging players Type A and Type B free agents. Too many mediocre guys are Type A players and middle relievers should almost never be type A free agents in my opinion. I mean, Roberto Hernandez (who I thought was on contract for '07 also, but I guess is not) is a Type A free agent.

Chad Bradford (A)
Cliff Floyd (A)
Tom Glavine (A)
Orlando Hernandez (B)
Roberto Hernandez (A)
Guillermo Mota (B)
Darren Oliver (B)
Jose Valentin (B)

On the bright side, it is entirely possible that the Mets will be getting a pick or two back from their crop of free agents.

* * *

  • News from the AFL:

    Pelfrey, who scrapped his inconsistent curveball and replaced it with a hard slider Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson introduced to him during his brief stay in the big leagues this year, had trouble commanding the newest pitch in his arsenal. But his fastball was quality, cutting and running down and in to righthanded hitters.

    "You don't need a (radar) gun on this guy. It was like watching a high school kid throw 96 (mph) to high school hitters," a scout from one NL club said. "All the other guys in the game were throwing 93, 94, 95, but it wasn't nearly as devastating because of the swings guys were getting against him. The fastball is plus-plus in terms of velocity and movement down in the zone. The secondary stuff still has a ways to go, but his arm speed on the changeup was good and he showed flashes of getting closer to really burying his breaking ball. It's much better than the curveball, and I think it's better suited for his mix with that pure power stuff."

    Nice. We know his fastball is top notch and if he can put his secondary stuff together, which it sounds like he is on his way to doing just that, the Mets will be very happy.

    As for Fernando?

    Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez is getting rave reviews for his overall approach at the plate that includes plus power to all fields, especially to the opposite field. Martinez, who turned 18 on the AFL's Opening Day, is hitting just .196 in 51 at-bats for Mesa. But that doesn't mean scouts aren't gushing over the young outfielder.

    "His approach is so advanced for his age and the ball just jumps off his bat," a scout from an AL club said. "The only negative you see is he's a little late in his jumps and reads in center field. He's not as explosive as you'd think he would be."

    Always good to hear.

    10/31: Mesa lost to Peoria 6-3. Fernando went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a walk with no strikeouts.
    11/1: Mesa lost to Peoria 6-3 again. Fernando went 1 for 3 with a run scored, a double, and a walk with no strikeouts. Kevin Mulvey got roughed up in three innings of work and gave up four hits, three walks, and four earned runs.
    11/2: Mesa lost to Peoria 8-1. Fernando went 1 for 3 with no strikeouts.
    11/3: Mesa beat Grand Canyon 7-4. Fernando Martinez went 1 for 4 with a run scored, a double, and a strikeout.

    Complete Winter League updates.

  • Wow! Franciso Liriano underwent Tommy John Surgery. I guess you can scrap him for the 2007 season. Sucks for the Twins.

  • Daisuke Watch '06:

    The Dogers are not planning on pursuing Daisuke.

    "The posting money is a detriment to me," Colletti said. "You're going to have to invest a lot of money before you even talk about a contract."

    That bodes well for the Mets, but even more interesting...

    RotoWire reports that the serious suitors for Daisuke Matsuzaka appear to be just the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Red Sox, and Rangers. This comes after reports of many teams pulling out of the bidding - the Orioles, Dodgers, Angels, and Giants.

    Smart money appears to be on New York, or maybe that's just where all the hype comes from. Hard to tell. Mike Plugh finds an interesting note in a Japanese newspaper: the Yankees may bid less than $20MM. As Plugh says, that's a surefire way to make the pitcher a Met.

    I think the Cubs and Rangers might pursue Kei Igawa as Plan B, but who's to say that half the league doesn't get in on the southpaw.

    Might this thing a one team race? Holy crapola. If the rumblings are true, could Daisuke just fall into the Mets laps? Would five years, $60 million get it done after that?

    So yesterday there was that article that hinted at the possibility of tampering. Rumor has it, there was tampering already.

    At least three teams have attempted under-the-table negotiations to obtain Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka, a Japanese newspaper reported. Major League Baseball said yesterday that nothing has been brought to its attention.

    Anyone think the greaseball Yankees were involved in that?

  • Carlos Beltran now has a Gold Glove to add to his list of accomplishments.

    "I take pride in trying to be a complete player," Beltran said in a statement released by the team.

    In a shocker, Greg Maddux won his 16th Gold Glove. At this point I really think it is more of a running joke.

    Speaking of jokes, Derek Jeter won his third Gold Glove in a row despite being fourth in fielding %, ninth (dead last for qualifying AL short stops) in range factor, seventh in zone rating, sixth in assists, and dead last in double plays. Look, he is not as bad as we all make him out to be in the field, but Gold Glover? Reyes is light years better than him and did not win and Michael Young got hosed big time on the Golden Glove in the AL.

  • Omar has to approach this off-season as if Martinez is not coming back.

    Thus far, his recovery has gone well.

    "It's getting better, and progress is above all what is hoped for," Martinez told The Associated Press yesterday.

    "To go back I have to recover. I have to be healthy. But if God doesn't want that, then I would have to think about giving it all up."

    The three-time Cy Young Award winner is working on flexibility but said he "won't put his hand on a ball" until at least March.

    There is no reason why he will not be back, but it has to be assumed he will not be back and Omar needs to bring in an ace to lead this staff.

    Joel Sherman doesn't buy into as many of us are not buying into it.

    He loves to try to make himself the underdog - look at how small I am, look at the poverty I came from, look at the offensive/steroid era I pitched in. Yet, he has a chip on his shoulder larger than any tear. The moment he is cast as an underdog, this great contrarian will doggedly claw to prove his superiority.

    So short of him being completely unable to pitch, Martinez's retirement spiels should be largely ignored.

  • Huh?

    Carlos Delgado is in for wild winter. Since he was a veteran traded in the midst of a long-term contract, he has the right to demand a trade from the Mets. As well, he's already undergone a pair of elbow surgeries since the end of the season. It's not certain whether he'll be 100% for the start of spring training, and it's also not certain where he'll be playing.

    The big man ain't going no where. He likes it here.

  • The Mets are still interested in Mark Mulder. With Martinez already out, how they can be pondering another injured pitcher is really perplexing. They Mets need someone to plug into the rotation from day #1.

  • The Mets still might be interested in Barry Zito, but like many of you, they are not sold on his ability to be an ace.

    One MLB team official said yesterday there was an indication the Mets were targeting free-agent lefty Barry Zito more than Matsuzaka or free-agent righty Jason Schmidt. But the person with knowledge of the Mets' plans said the team had differing views on whether Zito was a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, but he was not seen as an ace. The source said that while Zito had not been ruled out, the Mets were not going to break the bank for him and that pursuing him would be based on whether the Mets re-sign Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez and how their relief corps gets set up.

  • John Maine? Solid citizen.

    "I'd like to think I put myself in a situation where they'd have to think long and hard to say, 'No, we don't want this guy,'" Maine said. "I've still got to work hard this off-season. I'm not taking anything for granted. My goal now is just to make the team out of spring training in any capacity - whether it's reliever or starter. They're going to need another top-tier guy. But hopefully I can fill out the back end of the rotation. That's fine.

    "Who knows? Maybe I can do the long relief. Whatever they need."

    With all the players these days thinking they are entitled to everything without doing anything, Johnny boy is refreshing.
  • Friday, November 03, 2006

    How Do you Spell Relief? H-U-M-B-E-R.

    The road to the bigs for pitchers in the past had gone through the bullpen. Then things changed a bit and now more players are groomed in the closers role and even a set-up role before they reach pro baseball. Once they reach pro-baseball, they continue down that path. The best pitchers in the Minor Leagues all used to start to get them more work and more experience. When they made it to the Major Leagues, then started in the bullpen if they were not studs and either migrated into the rotation or stayed in the bullpen. Of course there were exceptions, but that was pretty much how a lot of pitchers were introduced to the big leagues.

    Starting pitching prospects' road to the bigs then shifted to being through the rotation in most cases and they generally were not used in the bullpen. Lately however, there seems to be a renaissance of sorts of having prospects, top prospects included, getting time in the bullpen with the big club prior to starting. Francisco Liriano, Jon Papelbon, and Adam Wainwright are a few this year who are tabbed as starters for the rest of their career. Even Aaron Heilman could be lumped into that crew since he should get a shot to start at some point. Middle relievers are no longer failed starting pitchers or guys who were never good enough to start and just not good enough to close. They are also comprised of some of the best arms in the league these days with Joel Zumaya going from one of the best starting pitching prospects to bullpen and maybe for good.

    Enter Phil Humber. Why he comes to mind more than say someone like Mike Pelfrey is partly because of Adam Wainwright. Do you remember that nasty hook he was leveling batters in the playoff with? Humber's curveball is close to it. While Mike Pelfrey would benefit from as much work as possible to work on this secondary stuff, Humber's is up to snuff and should be able to get guys out with his stuff for one inning without many problems. With Mota out for fifty games and possibly not brought back coupled with the seemingly high probability of Aaron Heilman being used to bolster this team via trade, Phil Humber might just play a large part in the Mets 2007 bullpen. Humber is a bulldog who is not afraid to challenge hitters and has downright nasty stuff.

    That's not to say he is the the answer to the possibility of not having Mota or Heilman at all in 2007, but with the existing cast of characters in Billy Wagner, Duaner Sanchez, Pedro Feliciano, and Roberto Hernandez and two key moves by Omar this off-season, he could certainly play a huge role in being part of a dominant set up crew that could continue to end games in the sixth inning as the bullpen did so many times in 2006. First, Chad Bradford needs to be brought back. He was absolutely huge. Second, Omar needs to reel in Speier or Riske.

    Justin Speier posted his second sparkling year of relief in a row and has really seemed to find his groove. His batting average against in the last five seasons was .216, .257, .239, .198, and .235. The dude is good and he has solid command to boot which we all love out of our relievers. David Riske, while not as good as an option as Speier, is certainly a solid reliever. He has posted ERAs of 2.29, 3.72, 3.10, and 3.89 in the last four years. Either would represent a solid arm in the pen should the Mets move Heilman and with the Mets needs this year and how the market is looking for Heilman, I do not see how Omar does not dish him off. Ultimately, relievers are replaceable and Aaron is certainly expendable given Omar's options.

    * * *

  • Sugar Pants was laying it on thick in the Orient.

    "He fit into the jersey pretty good, so we told him we had some spots we needed to fill, and maybe he could fill in for us," Wright said. He continued that conversation by pushing for Matsuzaka, who declared his wish to play in the majors in Wednesday's news conference.

    "I asked if he could make a couple phone calls for us and maybe persuade him," Wright said. "We could use another quality starting pitcher next year. He said he'd look into it for me."

    Wright called the visit with Abe "one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities."

    That was a lot of sugary goodness.

  • Omar is aiming to bring back Bradford and The Duque.

  • Mota still might be in the mix.

  • Wally is at it again.

    Sometimes the solution to a seemingly complex problem is so simple, so obvious, you can't believe someone hasn't thought of it already. And you figure there must be some logical reason why it can't be done.

    In this case, the problem is the Mets' lineup holes in leftfield and at second base. The solution is Alfonso Soriano. It's so simple, so obvious, it can't be real

    What? Huh? I wouldn't go that far man.

  • Daisuke watch:

    While it is impossible to predict how many teams will make bids, it's assumed five or six teams will enter the market. Expected to be in the hunt, in addition to the Yankees, are the Mets, Cubs and possibly Red Sox.

    Not everyone in the Yankees universe is completely sold on Matsuzaka. There are members of the organizations who believe free agent Jason Schmidt is a better investment.

    Interesting tidbit.

    With the Mariners out of it, the Red Sox not going balls deep into the bidding, and the Yankees not 100% sold on Daisuke, you have to wonder if someone just might end up bidding against themselves.

    In the not so swell portion of things, there could be some shady dealings here.

    But there may be loopholes. It can be in the Japanese team's best interest for the winning bid to come from a team with which the player wants to sign, since that is the only way the Japanese team gets money. So a Japanese team could make an under-the-table deal with a U.S. team in which only a portion of the winning bid would have to be paid.

    When the Seattle Mariners won the rights to sign Ichiro Suzuki in 2000, there were rumors they paid just $4 million of the $13 million winning bid to the Orix Blue Wave.

  • Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Day Two of the Posting Period

    Don't believe me. I'm just some dumb guy from New Jersey. However, these guys have some street cred.

    Depending on what you think about Barry Zito, Matsuzaka may be the best pitcher available this off-season. Between the posting fee and the long-term deal that will follow, he may sign the richest contract of any player before the 2007 season. He's been a key contributor to Seibu since 1999 (when he was 18!), throwing nearly 1,200 innings in the last seven years, striking out 1,141 batters and earning an ERA well under 3.00.

    If those numbers belonged to a MLB pitcher, well, he'd be Johan Santana, only a year younger. (Be careful: you're drooling on the keyboard.) Of course, the NPB isn't the same as the American major leagues, so it's unlikely he'll match his 2006 ERA of 2.13 over 180 innings in the US.

    It is said that the NPB is equivalent to AAA, but I definitely tend to think it is a step above AAA.

    Plugh translates Matsuzaka's 2005 stats and a chunk of his '06 numbers as follows:
    Year    ERA     IP      H       HR      BB      SO
    2005 2.74 215 185 16 63 200
    2006 2.52 187 156 21 39 181
    Let's say, for whatever reason, that you're skeptical of those numbers. So am I. It seems well established that the NPB hosts a higher level of baseball than American Triple-A, but for the sake of argument, let's translate his 2005 NPB stats as if they were accumulated in the International League. (I can't find all the components I need to do this with 2006 stats, so 2005 will have to suffice for now.)
    2005    IP      HR      BB      K       FIP
    NPB 215 13 49 226 2.56
    MLB 215 18 65 189 3.44
    So, as long as there's nothing about Matsuzaka that makes him incompatible with success in America, and assuming that the Seibu faces harder competition than Pawtucket does, the upper bound on his ERA these days would seem to be about 3.50.

    Estimations, equations, fornication, masturbation, computations...before you get all sassy, we all know no one knows what Daisuke will do here, but it is fun to think about. We all know Kaz was a bust. We all know the history of pitchers from the Eastern part of the hemisphere do not have a good track record when getting paid $15 million per year. We all know that Irabu was supposed to be the Japanese Nolan Ryan. However, Daisuke is the pitching equivalent of Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro is the only guy who has his first name on the back of his jersey and is the best position player that Japan has ever offered. Daisuke is the best pitcher Japan has ever offered.

    Before he came to the states, Irabu had nine seasons in Japan and posted below a 3.00 only twice and never posted below a 2.40 ERA. Since then, baseball in Japan has gotten better as we can all tell by Japan's WBC win. Daisuke has posted below a 3.00 ERA in six of his nine seasons including his rookie season in 1999 when he was 18. Is he a risk? Yessum. Is he an expensive risk? Yessum. Is the ceiling a high one? Yessum. Ichiro won the MVP award and the ROY award in his rookie season. Is it possible Daisuke makes the same kind of waves in 2007 in the bigs? I certainly think so.

    * * *

  • In case you missed it...read this. Simply one of the best reads ever on a blog. Also, this one is a gem too.

  • I heard something about Mota getting a fifty game suspension, but I could not find it anywhere on the net. He should have just retired like Roger and came back mid-season.

  • Wright goes deeeeeep.

    What a day for David Wright. A few hours after joking with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in his downtown office, the Mets third baseman crushed a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night as the MLB All-Stars finished in a 7-7 tie with the Yomiuri Giants in an exhibition game at Tokyo Dome.

    Wright, who entered the game in the sixth inning, struck out looking in the seventh before turning on a first-pitch fastball from Giants reliever Takahiko Nomaguchi in the ninth. After rounding the bases, Wright followed up with his custom handshake with teammate Jose Reyes in the dugout.

  • The reports out of Atlanta say that Tom Glavine will likely return to the Mets, but the reports out of New York are saying that it is not to far along and Glavine has not made up his mind.

    "We've had absolutely no talks with the Mets whatsoever," Clifton said.

    What is really weird is after the false reports by Scott and the New York papers, Clifton is singing another tune.

    Glavine's contract was restructured earlier this year to include a $7.5-million player option and a $14-million team option, but if Glavine chooses the Mets, Clifton will simply negotiate a new one-year contract.

    "I will pick up the phone and I'll say, 'Listen, Tom said he wants to be a Met and we understand you want him back. So let's figure this out,'" Clifton said.

    It certainly affects how the Mets will attack the pitching market so hopefully Glavine sorts this out soon.

  • M's out...Mets and Yankees are in.

    Fearful of the steep posting price for Matsuzaka, which could reach a record $30-million, the Mariners, owned by Japanese businessman Hiroshi Yamauchi, apparently want to allocate their funds for re-signing Ichiro Suzuki, who will be a free agent after next season.

    But the Yankees, desperate for a front-line starter, have no such payroll concerns, and the Mets insist they are not rattled by the prohibitive cost as well. One person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday that the Mets definitely will bid for Matsuzaka, and that dealing with his agent, Scott Boras, is not a deterrent. The Mets believe they have a good relationship with Boras after negotiations for Carlos Beltran and Mike Pelfrey.

    Omar! Mikey wants birfday gift and he wants Daisuke.

  • Token minority interviewee? Maybe.

    Mets third base coach Manny Acta reportedly will interview for the A's manager's job when he returns from Japan.

    That is added to his growing list of managerial interviews he has already had.

  • We'll be reading about Jeff Allison for years to come as a another sad story.

    Allison, as first reported Tuesday on the Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record's Web site, also has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a public officer, both misdemeanors, in connection with an Oct. 25 incident. Police said Allison was spotted driving a 2002 Dodge Ram truck that had been reported stolen when he was pulled over.

    Allison, 21, tried to flee but was apprehended by officers, police said. Allison, who listed a Greensboro address on the arrest report, faces a Nov. 30 court date on those charges.

  • What in the name of David Wright is going on with Lost? Just when they have the best episode by far, they go and do what they did last night. For anyone who has not watched it yet, I do not want to ruin the surprise so I will not speak of what happened, but what the fuck? Then they overload my senses with a preview of next week's episode which included a wanton bres-a-sist shot of Kate and tell me it's the season finale and Lost will not be back until 2007! 'Tis a cruel world we live in.
  • Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Operation Pitching: Posting Day

    First off, kudos to Scott for calling out the rumor that Glavine will be back for two more years. Scott said it would possibly be a $20 million deal, but the Daily News reports that it is $25 million deal. Personally, it seems like a lot to pay for a guy who will be turning 41 during Spring Training, but saying $2.5 million more per year than he should get is going to break the Mets backs would be overdramatic. What does this all mean for the Mets though?

    It certainly changes the pitching picture. The Mets are still likely to bring in pitcher from outside the organization via trade, the posting system, or free agency. However, when Pedro returns it is entirely possible the Mets have three veterans coupled with John Maine and Oliver Perez forming the Mets rotation for 2007 and 2008. It really should have a marginal effect on things with Humber and Pelfrey needing one more year in the minors anyway and the probability of an injury happening to get them in sooner is always looming. Besides, we all know that someone will be logging about ten to fifteen starts in place of Pedro in the first half.

    So, where does leave the Mets and their pursuit of the current available players? I do think that Glavine coming back for two years might just preclude the Mets from chasing Barry Zito. Why? The Mets have been saying they are not interested and really might not be. If Glavine left, I would have thought it was a foregone conclusion that they chase Zito. If Glavine was around for only year, I would have thought they would have gone after him. However, with Glavine around for two years as the resident lefty getting $12.5 million per year, it is hard to think they will add another $12+ million dollar pitcher to Pedro and Glavine being they might only have a $25 million dollar budget to fill a few holes. That is unless it is Daisuke who's stock is rising by him simply doing nothing. Believe the hype or not, he is the best pitching prospect out of the entire minor leagues and international market. You have to be players for a guy like that and he is a reason to blow through a budget. So, if I was Omar, how would my pecking order look?

    1) Daisuke Matsuzaka:
    Pros: Sick splitter. Add onto that a nice slider (check around 1:05) and a consistent fastball in the 91 to 93 mph range (147 km/h is 91...150 km/h is 93). Jim Callis said the other day he is better than Phil Hughes, who is widely considered the best pitching prospect in the game. Sure Daisuke is older, but in terms of them both being considered prospects, Diasuke is up there. His stuff is legit.

    Cons: It might cost $30 million just have the right to sign him and another $75 million to sign him. $110+ million for a guy who is still an unknown is crazy. Scott Boras has all the leverage as well with Daisuke eligible to just go back to Japan if he does not get the deal he wants and the ability to become an free agent after the 2007 season and have teams fight it out for his services.

    My Take: He should be the #1 target and the only pitcher the Mets should target for more than three seasons at big dollar amounts. While some people are still feeling the sting of Kaz Matsui, this is not Kaz Matsui.

    2) Jason Schmidt:
    Pros: Jason Schmidt has a bad wrap as being an injury prone player. He topped 207 innings three times in the last four years and has averaged 30 starts per year since 2002 and 31 a year in the last four years. Schmidt is also a hard throwing righty that has the ability to dominate and would give the rotation another look while not costing $15 million per year and might not take more than three years to sign. If someone is willing to give him four years, I would pass.

    Cons: His declining K Rate is somewhat of a concern, but hitters still only posted a .238 /.310 /.379 line against him in '06. From '04 through '06, hitters own a .227 /.301/.363 line against him. He has Cy Young stuff and is a guy that can flat out dominate. For the right amount of years and the right amount of money, he could be a perfect fit. If the market starts to get out of control, the Mets should pass, but they need to be involved if they miss out on Daisuke.

    3) Freddy Garcia:
    Pros: Since 1999, there was only one year that Garcia did not top 200 innings and failed to make at least 31 starts. He is only on contract for one year and with Pedro and Glavine tabbed to be around for two more seasons, having a guy for one season might be a good thing for the Mets with all the youth they have ready to go.

    Cons: He has a declining strikeout rate and is coming off a year in which he posted the highest ERA of his career and gave up the most homers of his career. Garcia also needs to be traded for and would require the Mets give up talent in return.

    My Take: After Garcia's 18-6 season with Seattle when he posted a 3.05 ERA, many thought he was going to be in the upper echelon of pitching. In 1999, he had finished ninth in the Cy Young voting in his rookie season and finished second in the ROY voting. He followed that up by finishing third for the Cy Young award in 2001 after the aforementioned great season. It looked like he was no fluke. While he has not been horrible as evidenced by his 4.01 career ERA in the American League, he did not live up to expectations. However, he is one guy that has the ability and could quite possibly put up a career year after moving to the NL and playing for a team as good as the Mets. If he does that, the Mets have the option to bring him back or let him go and they can nab a draft pick for him while giving an extra year to Phil Humber and Mike Pelfrey.

    4) Trade:
    Pros: With the Mets depth of young, top tier pitching already in the bigs or just about ready for the bigs, they are in a perfect position to nab a stud just about to hit his prime or in their prime.

    Cons: With the need to have payroll flexibility and the climate of the Major Leagues being one in which teams have been drastically overpaying for pitching, giving away promising prospects seems downright insane.

    My Take: If you give away youth, you better get youth in return. If the Mets trade a stud prospect for a player over 30, it would be a grave mistake. However, if traded for the right pitcher, it is a no brainer 100 times over. For instance, with the emergence of Chris Young as an ace, Clay Hensley having a great rookie season, and the rumblings of the Padres making a run at Barry Zito, could Jake Peavy be available? Kevin Towers already said he would be targeting Oliver Perez for the bullpen and the Mets have blue chips ready to add to any deal, could Jake Peavy be had? The bottom line is when you have young talent to trade away, there are always possibilities and if Zito is signed to a lavish contract with the Padres, an Oliver Perez and Lastings Milledge based deal would not shock me.

    5) Barry Zito:
    Pros: Since becoming a full time pitcher, he has topped 213 innings in every season and made at least 34 starts. In seven big league seasons, he has a Rookie of the Year award, a Cy Young Award, a 21st finish in the MVP race in 2001, and a 13th place finish in 2002 for MVP. Throw on top of that a possible top five finish in this year's AL Cy Young race, and you have a very accomplished pitcher that has yet to turn 29. His 3.55 career ERA is certainly impressive and I have a hard time believing he would not flat out dominate the National League if he chooses to move there.

    Cons: Scott Boras.

    My Take: The bottom line is that the Mets need to get stronger in the rotation. While I'm against overpaying for mediocre talent, Zito is not mediocre talent. if plans A through Z fail, getting a guy like Zito for a few million more per year than he is worth is not the worst thing that can happen since he is legit. If Omar has a rough time of it in getting an arm that fits into their long term plans better, Zito should be his guy by default.

    The Rest:
    We know that Omar had mentioned Chris Carpenter as a model for the way he might be approaching this off-season. Carpenter was not a big name before the Cardinals nabbed him and now he is a bonafide ace. Omar is might try and look at a guy who is undervalued like Ted Lilly and see if he can predict the next breakout pitcher. Lilly has good stuff, but has never logged more than 200 innings in his career and has had a myriad of injury troubles. If the free agent market starts awarding AJ Burnett type contracts to undeserving pitchers, Omar should stay away. If by chance the market for 2nd tier pitchers does not get blown out of the water, Ted Lilly bears looking at.

    Mark Mulder's name has been bandied about as a possible low risk/high reward type player, but he will not be ready for opening day. Can the Mets really have two key starters start the season on the DL and not have any idea what to expect from either of them when they return? The only way Mulder makes sense is if Omar brings back The Duque on a one year deal and prefers not to have both Oliver Perez and John Maine in the starting rotation in the second half of the season.

    The bottom line is Omar has to do something. Some things make more sense than others, but one thing is clear, Omar needs to get a front line starter in the form of someone who is one, or will be one in 2007.

    * * *

  • It is amazing what a two year, $25 million contract will do for a 41 year old pitcher's outlook on things.

    "Tom wants to come back to the Mets," his agent Gregg Clifton said yesterday. "He has some unfinished business with them. He wants to win a World Series with the Mets."

    I am happy they actually made a definitive statement though. You can argue the pros and cons of giving an old pitcher a two year deal, but he has been a solid pitcher since he has been here. Ideally you give him one year, but he will still be an effective pitcher in 2008 in my opinion.

  • Newsday goes over how the auction works for Daisuke.

    Once Matsuzaka is posted, and MLB is notified, teams have only four days to submit their bids, and the highest one - without the team identified - is turned over to the Lions. At that point, Seibu has four days to accept it, and only then is the team revealed. Then the club has 30 days to get a contract done, and if that doesn't happen, Matsuzaka would return to Seibu and the posting fee is refunded.

  • Alfonso Soriano still has a place and New York and has told friends he would like to return to New York and play for the Mets.

  • The Phillies are still planning on being big players in the Soriano sweepstakes. At worst, let's see if the Mets can't drive up the price.

    The good thing is that this will all be over soon enough for the Mets to not be waiting on Daisuke while the other pitchers are ripped off the market.

  • Now the Cubs are interested in Heilman. Provided the Mets bolster their pen, it seems like the market for Aaron Heilman will be a very nice one. Omar might be well advised to see what he can get for the disgruntled reliever to try and fill other needs for the Mets.

  • Kenny Williams is going to go hard after someone. Just who it will be is the question.

  • Baseball Prospectus gives out their Internet Baseball Awards. The Mets had three players make their top ten in terms of the National League MVP award. Sick.
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    The Rumor Mill Is Churning

    The Red Sox like Milledge and Heilman.

    Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball has a new but familiar trade rumor for us: it appears that the Red Sox would like to acquire Aaron Heilman to be their closer next year. In addition, Theo Epstein and Co. may have their eye on Lastings Milledge. It could be the makings of a Manny Ramirez trade, if the Mets want to pay Ramirez's $39MM salary over the next two seasons.

    I think we all know the Mets do not want Manny Ramirez. The only way I could even see this as a remote possibility would be if Red Sox eat half of the money owed to Manny. The Mets would not pick up every dime. Aside from that huge issue of Manny taking up Omar's entire off-season budget, he is not the type of character guy that Omar targets. When talking about 24 + 1 players, Manny could be accused of that. Sure, he is an affable guy, but there is an endless list of things that can be attributed to Manny being Manny.

    Manny does not need the Mets and Mets do not need Manny. Good for the Red Sox. They like two very young and very bright players. I'm sure there are 28 other teams that like them too.

    On the pitching front, we have seen predictions that say the Mets will get Zito...

    Prediction: Seattle strikes again to sign Matsuzaka, a move that will convince Suzuki not to go looking for greener pastures when his deal expires after next season. The Mets outbid the Dodgers for Zito and Schmidt winds up with the Cubs. At least two other Japanese starters accompany Matsuzaka to the United States, including Hiroki Kuroda, an unrestricted free agent.

    ...and some that predict he stays out West.

    Prediction: Signs with the Dodgers for 6-years, $85 or with the Padres for 5-years, $70M

    Me? Depends. Depends on whether the Mets actually bring back Glavine and/or lost out on Daisuke. The bottom line is the Mets need to get stronger in the rotation. If Glavine walks (and no one knows much about that situation) and Daisuke is off the table, the best pitcher left is Barry Zito. Sure, the Mets and Yankees say that they have no interest, but that is hard to believe. Omar might try and go the low risk/high reward avenue, but if Glavine leaves and frees up more money, the Mets would have no choice but to go after Zito. Would singing Zito if Glavine leaves wreak of desperation? Possibly, but the Mets need to take steps forward, not backwards.

    Speaking of Glavine, MLB4U.com has him heading back to the Mets.

    Prediction: Sides split the difference and agree to 1-year, $10.25M deal for 2007

    Glavine wants a story book ending and really, it is grinding on me more and more by the day. The Mets have been vocal about wanting him back. The Mets are light years ahead of the Braves in terms of talent. The Mets are a team on the verge of making big things happen. The Braves? Not so much. I appreciate all that Glavine has done for the Mets as an organization in helping bring some professionalism and some players to New York, but enough. He is playing both sides of the fence here and has to decide if being a winner is more important than making one more run with the good 'ole boys. This ain't no fucking high school reunion. It is professional baseball.

    Update: Scott said in the comments section last night that the rumor is Glavine is getting a 2 year extension @ $10 million a year. If this is true, I really do not have a big problem with this. You ideally only wanted him for one year, but I do think he is an important part of this team in '07.

    I think that Jose Valenin is a great guy. His moustache is second to none. The likelihood of him doing that again? Not very good. There is plenty of talk of the Mets needing to bring him back with a right handed bat to play second base in a platoon with him, but I would just as soon as get someone more valuable. Valentin was horrific off the bench and I do not envision him repeating 2006 so I would rather the Mets look elsewhere.

    Rich Aurilia isn't sure he'll exercise his part of a $2 million mutual option with the Reds and may opt for free agency, The New York Post reports. Cincinnati will still be a player for him, but the Staten Island native could be of interest to both New York teams.

    "Rich wants to play for a contender and wants to, if possible, play just one position," his agent, Barry Axelrod, told the newspaper. "Both New York teams qualify for what he is looking for."

    The Mets need a second baseman, and GM Omar Minaya signed Aurilia to his first pro contract. The Yankees need a first baseman to make Jason Giambi a full-time DH.

    Aurilla is certainly a good fit for the Mets and they need a guy that could play 2B and 3B because Wright needs a few days off every once in a while. Rich can take a walk and hit lefties to the tune of .347/.406/.680 in '06. From 2003 to 2005, he hit .294 /362/.505 against lefties. I would not mind seeing Anderson Hernandez make the team in the last rost spot and see some time at second while Aurilla is resting or while Aurilla is resting Wright. Overall, Rich would stand to get plenty of playing time and would certainly fit right in with LoDuca as a player returing back to his home to play. He made only $1,300,000 in 2006 and figures to get a raise, but he will still be a relative bargain.

    Heilman still wants to start.

    Aaron Heilman's stance remains the same: He wants to be a starting pitcher, either for the Mets or another team in 2007, according to a person familiar with the right-handed reliever's thinking.

    Heilman has reiterated his desire to start to management already, the person said.

    If Mota comes back, I fully expect him to be traded.

    Adam Kennedy is interested in the Mets, but the Mets should not be interested in Adam Kennedy.

    This past year Kennedy hit .273 with four homers, 55 RBIs, 16 steals and a .334 on-base percentage for the Angels. Kennedy, who turns 31 in January, has fared well in the playoffs (he was the ALCS MVP in 2002 and has hit .308 in 25 career postseason games) and although he committed nine errors this year (tied for seventh among AL second basemen), he had the fewest among regular AL second basemen in 2005 (five).

    He is a lefty who was under the Mendoza line against lefties in 2006 and does not hit lefties all that well overall. If the Mets were looking to platoon someone, they could just bring back Valentin. At any rate, Rich Aurillia is a far superior choice over Adam Kennedy.

    Overall, the Mets are leading the bigs with players that filed for free agency. They really need to bring back Bradford and Mota with The Duque looking like a possible vital piece for 2007 if he would accept a one year deal. However, I'm sure there will be some team willing to dish up two years which the Mets should stay away from.

    * * *

  • The line of the day:

    "A lot of players are somewhat nervous or apprehensive about becoming free agents because of all the uncertainty," Borris told the Associated Press last weekend. "Barry has nerves of steel. That's also evident in the way he plays baseball."

    Of course he has to interject that last part in his little quote. He is always jockeying for mo' money.

  • Carlos Delgado should be like new for opening day 2007.

    Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left elbow yesterday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. The team called the surgery a success and said Delgado's rehab schedule put him on course to be ready for spring training workouts.

    "All indications are that he's doing great," one official said.

    Delgado's elbow had hindered him at times this season, his first with the Mets. Delgado often was seen wearing a large ice pack on it around the clubhouse. But the elbow was an issue before he ever got to Queens.

    I have no idea if his wrist and elbow played a part in his .268 batting average, but I'm willing to bet they did. I expect a more dangerous Delgado in '07.

  • Cammy's option was picked up as Mike Piazza's $8 million option was predictably turned down.

  • Marty Noble gets some mail.

  • Alfonso Soriano is looking to get paid.

    According to the source, Soriano is seeking a deal similar to the seven-year, $119 million deal given to center fielder Carlos Beltran by the New York Mets before the 2005 season. It's unlikely the Orioles will be in the running for Soriano if he doesn't back off those demands. Teams can start bidding on free agents on Nov. 12.

    Um, no. Not happening bub. Beltran was three years younger than you were when he signed his contract. Yours would expire when you are 38 and Beltran is one of the more adept fielders in the league. It can't hurt to ask though, right?

    The Phillies are prepared to go hard after Soriano with a $15 million per year offer.

    A team source says the Phils are prepared to dish out at least $75 million over five seasons for Soriano, who hit .277 with a career-high 46 homers, 95 RBIs and 41 steals last season for the Washington Nationals, most out of the leadoff position.

    Yikes. That is some lineup they would be putting together in Philly.

  • Mesa wins big as Fernando Martinez went 2 for 4 with a run scored and a strikeout. He is batting .218 so far in fifteen games. Bobby Malek and Michel Abreu were a combined 4 for 9 with four runs scored, three homers, and nine RBIs.
  • Monday, October 30, 2006

    Optimism Abound

    'Tis upon us. The World Series is finally over with the improbable happening. The 'weakest' playoff team from the 'AAAA' league has taken out the insurmountable American League representative. Now that everyone has had time to digest the amazing season the Mets had and the second straight year of positive progression, I certainly hope everyone is left with an air of confidence. Why? This team is young, learning, and improving. Next season there are plenty of things to be optimistic about and Lyle Spencer had some extra helpings of Kool-Aid...and why not?

    Ladies and gentlemen, here they are, your 2007 World Series champions ...

    The New York Mets.

    Led by 2007 National League MVP Jose Reyes, Comeback Player of the Year Pedro Martinez and Manager of the Year Willie Randolph, they take that final stride and wash away the bitter disappointment of '06.

    Let's make that eight new champs in a dizzying, dazzling, Amazin' roll.

    And why the heck not?

    If you believe in truth, justice and the American way, baseball style, you have to acknowledge the Mets' many assets -- and their appealing prospects of conquering the World Series.

    Those are Minnesota's Twins, with all that dashing young talent and superlative pitching, we see across the field soberly observing the Mets' final October celebration after Game 7 at Shea Stadium, New York having claimed home-field advantage courtesy of Trevor Hoffman's save for the National League in the 2007 All-Star Game at San Francisco.

    Yes, the Mets. It's simply their time.

    The Mets were arguably the best team in the Major Leagues in regards to being the most well rounded when healthy. No other playoff team had a young core like the Mets with their blend of offensive prowess and pitching youth. The Tigers have some great young arms, but not one team boasted comparable young talent in all aspects of the game. The Mets had eight players under 30 last season play prominent roles with the team and all will be back and will be improved in 2007 while more youth stands to be added in 2007 as well. This team is not one and done and will be back and should be saddled with the burden of being the favorites in '07.

    * * *

  • Good News on Pedro is always nice.

    Michael Silverman in the Boston Herald suggests Pedro Martinez could return from surgery to repair his torn right rotator cuff before the All-Star Break in 2007.

    Pedro told me two weeks ago, less than a week after the procedure:

    "Without a doubt I'm supposed to come back by the second half of 2007. I'm going to work my tail off and get better. I'm actually feeling better right now - already. I'm very optimistic that with hard work, which I know how to do, and with the proper rehab, I should be right back. And I'm supposed to be better than I was. ...

    "I'm very, very optimistic and very happy about the results. Right now, the doctor just told me today that I looked like a month after surgery - and it's only been a week - because of the way everything is moving around and the way that I'm feeling and the way my flexibility is reacting to the surgery. That's more than good news."

  • Professor Rick is always hard at work.

    In September, Pelfrey worked with Rick Peterson on a slider. The pitching coach instructed him to stop throwing the curveball he brought from Wichita State, which actually resembled a slurve. The curveball ranged from 78-82 mph, while the slider is thrown harder.

    "It looks like a fastball and then has late movement," Pelfrey said. "I'm throwing it more and more, and I think it's going to be a better pitch for me in the long run. So far I've been throwing it in the game a lot and I'm getting more consistent with it. I think it will be there for that extra pitch. Peterson said for my game - my fastball and my changeup - I needed something that looks kind of the same that goes the opposite direction (away from righties)."

  • If you cannot out-pitch 'em, just bash their heads in. The Phillies will be looking into bringing Alfonso Soriano or Gary Sheffield to the City of Brotherly Love while moving Pat Burrell to free up some more capital. There is no doubt the Phillies have the money to get a guy like Soriano, but will they have enough to upgrade their pitching as well?

  • Dave Dombrowski might be setting the standard for GMs in terms of salary soon enough.

    Largely because of his dual title, Dombrowski is already the highest-paid GM in baseball, with an annual salary of about $2 million. The team's success likely will motivate owner Mike Ilitch to pursue an extension for Dombrowski this off-season. The afterglow of an American League pennant, coupled with industry-wide praise for Dombrowski's rebuild, could translate into a handsome raise beyond an already standard-setting salary.

  • State of the Day from Baseball Prospectus.

    Top 5 AL Cy Young Candidates, by SNLVAR
    Player           Team   VORP    SNLVAR
    Johan Santana MIN 79.6 8.4
    Roy Halladay TOR 68.0 6.4
    Justin Verlander DET 47.5 6.1
    Barry Zito OAK 49.9 6.1
    C.C. Sabathia CLE 46.5 6.0
    I know a lot of you are very ho-hum about Barry Zito, but no matter how you spin it, the guy is good. I'm sure a lot of people's ambivalence towards him is based on what they see with their own eyes in an average fastball and guy who has trouble finding the zone at times. However, he would be a welcome addition to this team to upgrade a staff that is in dire need of being upgraded.

    That's not to say he is my first choice, but he is certainly one of the few choices that make this team substantially better.

  • Here is a solid read on the Cardinals and the consensus that they are one of the worst teams to win the World Series from Baseball Prospectus.

    I don’t think the 2006 Cardinals were a 100-win team by any means. But they were probably a 90-win team, a 92-win team, at least based on the roster they fielded during the playoffs. Plenty of teams with 90-win talent have won the World Series. If this result was an embarrassment to baseball in any way, it’s because there’s a reward system in place that allows an 83-78 team to compete in October. It wasn’t because of the Cardinals.

    So about this worst-team-ever business: I don’t think the Cardinals are demonstrably the worst team ever to win the World Series. But I do think they’re in the company of some similarly mediocre teams that represent the lowest echelon of World Series champion.

    Some interesting stuff and a good take on the 2006 Cardinals.

  • On Saturday, Mesa beat Phoenix 5-3. Fernando Martinez went 0 for 4 with an RBI and two strikeouts to see his average dip below .200.