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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Clarity Is Key

It’s clear that everyone is not panicking. It’s good to see Coop will be able to move on from this. It’s obvious that the Giants, though not a bad team, are not appreciably better than last year if better at all. You cannot blame them for chasing Zito when it seems like such a natural fit in that ballpark with a quick move across the bay. However, the Mets needed him. He was what the Mets needed to sure up the rotation while enabling them to keep all of their studs. That being said, it is far from a disaster. These new Mets are not ones that operate with knee jerk actions and stand their ground. They put a price tag on Zito and stuck to it. You could have seen the Mets going up to the $96 million range, but still would have been $36 million or so off the Rangers bid. I’m not going to criticize the contract. Barry Zito should have in now way gotten the biggest contract of any pitcher of all time, but that is beside the point. What really irks me is that the Giants have seemingly operated without a clue the past few years. They always seem to be on the fringe of contention, but they have been giving away their first round picks on mediocre free agents like it is their job and have signed 90% of the over 40 free agents over the past few years.

When they should have taken their team down to rebuild last season and traded their usable parts away at the deadline, they stood pat and got nothing in return. Yes, they have a solid rotation, but they also have seven years of being fringy contenders if they are lucky. How this is a good long term buy and sound business deal is beyond me. It’s seems that Brian Sabean has been at Barry Bonds’ mercy over the years to operate with no long term strategy and play for today. The Giants just inked one of the better pitches in the league, but have a really bad farm system behind him. They have virtually no offensive prospects and every starting position player could possibly be over 30. Not only are they over 30, which isn’t necessarily the problem, but they aren’t very good. How they are going to supplant these old guys once they are put to pasture is beyond me. The Giants have Merkin Valdez and Tim Lincecum who are two premium arms, but Valdez has lost just about all of his luster and is not exactly young anymore.

One thing is clear, the Mets are still OK. Their rotation is better than the one they took to the playoffs and could be vastly improved….or it could be vastly worse. There are a lot of wildcards with the young arms of the Mets and how they shake out has everything to do with how they proceed with their rotation issues. Will Maine continue to be a solid big league pitcher and can he go deeper into games? Will Oliver Perez take a step forward and get his ERA around 4.50 and be more consistent? Will The Duque hold up? Will David Williams…Phil Humber…Mike Pelfrey step up? Will it be someone else? Outside of a taking a run at Mark Mulder, I am not seeing a benefit in the Mets making any move. Barry Zito’s signing along with all these other crazy ones to the pitchers this off-season just raised the value of every usable starting pitcher and the Mets could in no way get a fair deal. They should just stand still and see what the have towards the break at which point they can judge Pedro’s progress and see how all of the kiddies are coming along. If Pedro is healthy, they can easily have a formidable playoff rotation with a surplus of starters. They can also make a deal for a starting pitcher if it is clear the kids are not working out. The good thing is that I do not expect the Mets to panic and trade a young stud unless they get a young stud back. A few years ago I might have been nervous at this point, but I have the utmost confidence in regards to this team being run the right way these days. The Giants lack of a clear plan and them sweeping in to steal Zito out from under everyone else is certainly not the best thing that could have happened to these Mets, but is far from the worst thing. Come the All-Star break, we might be wondering why we even needed Barry Zito in the first place.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Another pitcher is down and only three prominent starters are left in Barry Zito, Jeff Weaver, and Roger Clemens as Jeff Suppan has been taken off of the market. Suppan is obviously not an ace, but he improves the Brewers pitching staff and improves the Brewers chances at the wide open NL Central. It's obvious that Suppan is not worth four years and $42 million, but nothing seems to be obvious anymore after this off-season.

'Tis the season of giving....

Overall, more Type (A) and Type (B) free agents have switch from the AL to the NL. However, the NL has signed their Type (A) and Type (B) free agents to a total of 80 years and $672,000,000, which works out to an astounding $8,400,000 per year. Comparatively, the AL has signed their Type (A) and Type (B) free agents to a total of 55 years and $347,770,000 which works out to $6,323,090.91 per year.

In terms of the top fifty free agents, the NL has signed twenty five of them compared to the AL signing eighteen with seven left on the market. Eight have switched from the AL to the NL and only five have switched to the NL from the AL. However, out of those five that switched, an astounding three have come from Texas. Texas did managed to steal three top 50's from other teams, but Carlos Lee is a greater loss than all of their gains combined and Lofton doesn't represent any upgrade of the '06 version of Gary Matthews Jr. Texas certainly has not been stellar this off-season when you factor in what they gave up to get Lee and if you believe they gave up too much for McCarthy.

For the NL, eighteen of those twenty-five signings came between the Mets, Dodgers, Cubs, and Giants and only five other NL teams signed a top fifty free agent. So far in regards to the NL's top fifty signing, they have inked them for a total of 54 years and a total of $566,600,000 and $10,492,592.59 annually. For the AL, ten teams nabbed a top fifty free agent and Texas leads the AL in four signings and is looking to drive that number up to five with Mark Mulder or Barry Zito. So far in regards to the AL's top fifty signings, they have inked them for a total of 50 years and a total of $385,570,000 and $7,711,400.00 annually. Also, if the NL nabs Zito and the AL nabs Clemens, the NL would have taken seven of the ten top fifty free agents.

Out of the entire free agent pool, the NL has signed 64 players and stolen only eleven from the AL. Those players have been signed for a collective 115 years and a total of $785,700,000 and $6,832,173.91 annually. The AL has signed 46 players, stolen 22 players from the NL, and nabbed all three prominent Japanese players. Those players have been signed for 93 years and a collective total of $567,370,000 and $6,100,752.69 annually. We'll see if the bargain hunting AL comes out looking better or the big spending NL.

It is not over yet either. With some big dollar guys still out there in Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Jeff Weaver, and Roger Clemens and some interesting names like Mark Loretta, Shea Hillenbrand, Ronnie Belliard, Tony Armas, Aubrey Huff, and Keith Foulke, there are still some bargains on the board and still some big money guys as well. With the way things a have shaken out so far, I think the Mets have the obvious goal of bringing in Zito and should explore Lorretta or Belliard should they remain on the board much longer and could be had for a great bargain and a great platoon partner on a one year deal.

Thanks again to everyone for the continued support and coming by!

..and Jake, just for you I give you a sufi-licious Christmas....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Arms Race in the AL East

Danny Kolb for Jae Seo....
Dany Baez for Edwin Jackson (post top prospect status) and Chuck Tiffany...
Mike MacDougal for Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortez...
Danny Kolb for Jose Capellan....
Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix, and Julian Cordero for Carlos Lee (1/2 year rental) and Nelson Cruz...
Bob Wickman for Max Ramirez...

It is very hard to put a price on closers. While I would not call Mike Gonzalez a premium closer, he is certainly effective and has the upside to become a premium closer. However, in an off-season where available closers are nil and the Boston Red Sox need a closer like I need self respect, it is certainly interesting how the Yankees simply need to give up Melky Cabrera to attain him. For the Pirates, they are getting a 32 homer guy from the left side of the plate. Typically, that type of deal doesn't get done straight up as that bat would be more valuable than the closer, so the fact that they might give up something additional is not surprise.

However, the rumor is that the Pirates are throwing in Nate McLouth or Jose Castillo to the Braves to complete this three-way deal. So, if you are keeping score... The Yankees get a good closer who will be setting up Mariano, could close if needed there, throws hard, and uses his left hand to throw the baseball and held lefties to a .163 BAA. Shit, he held righties to a .227 BAA. The Pirates get a first baseman who is not stellar, but smacked 32 homers last year, twenty the year before, and has major league bloodlines, which does count for something. The Braves? Possibly two marginal outfielders or a marginal outfielder and a decent second baseman.

From an NL East standpoint, I love it. The Braves are a worse team for this deal if it does go down. From an anti-Yankee standpoint, I hate to see yet another brilliant deal by Brian Cashman go down. If this rumor is true, Cashman is praying this deal goes down and no one realizes they are getting an absolute steal. The Yankees should be giving the Pirates another decent prospect or at the very least, Scott Proctor. This deal as currently structured would cap off what would be an off-season that has been an eleven on a one to ten scale of shrewdness for Yankees. Dishing off payroll and extra players that they had no use for and got back valuable commodities. If you are the Yankees, you come off smelling like roses and clearly get the best of this deal.

* * *

  • Fucking ponderous....

    I'm not saying it's a bad deal, just a weird one. Brandon McCarthy and David Pisano for John Danks, Nick Masset, and Jacob Rasner?

    After trading Freddy Garcia to free up a rotation spot for Brandon McCarthy, he deals him for more of an unknown. McCarthy was the type of cheap and solid pitcher Kenny Williams was just saying the White Sox valued as Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't believe in giving pitches more than three years. McCarthy didn't cost anything and was still under control for a while and has plenty of big league appearances under his belt. Of course, this all really depends on how much the White Sox did value McCarthy. Obviously they feel that Masset + Danks is greater than McCarthy. It does also seem like a lot to give up for a flyball pitcher on the Rangers end, but their rotation of Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, and possibly Mulder would leave them with a formidable rotation. Hard to really get a read on this one because at face value, the White Sox took themselves out of contention at least in '07 with the moves they made, but may pay off in the long run while the Ranges just weakened their system and gave away two cheap pitchers for one to get more of a known quantity in their rotation for opening day. With the trouble the Ranges have in luring pitchers to their team while not overpaying really makes me wonder why they would give up two solid arms. We'll see how this one plays out as it seems to early to really judge this one.

    The quote of the day goes to Jon Daniels in regards to the Rangers pursuit of Barry Zito...

    "I don't want to get into specifics about our discussions other than to say that I'm not terribly encouraged about our chances," Daniels said on a conference call. "Regardless of whether or not we felt we were going to be able to sign somebody like Barry, we would have made this deal. This is about the future with Brandon."

    It could be posturing, but with the move to get McCarthy and Mulder having it down to the Rangers and the Cardinals, I tend to believe him. It is possible Barry is staying true to his desire to win multiple championships and knowing his best fit is with the Mets. They could solely be trying to hash out the numbers with the Mets and just saying "let's get this thing done". More importantly though, it takes the only guy most likely out of the equation that would just drop silly amounts of dollars and trump everyone else.

  • John Sickels goes over the 2007 Mets prospects....

    1. Fernando Martinez, OF, A- (tools and youth, just needs refinement)
    2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP, Grade A- (I think the breaking pitch problem is overblown. He had a good one in college and I think he'll find it again. I am sticking with my guns on this one)
    3. Phil Humber, RHP, B+ (Many prefer him over Pelfrey, I like both)
    4. Carlos Gomez, OF, B (great tools, but I'm not sure about his power)
    5. Jon Niese, LHP, B- (projectable lefty is a personal favorite)
    6. Deolis Guerra, RHP, B- (live arm, a long way away)
    7. Kevin Mulvey, RHP, B- (accidently left off first list)
    8. Joe Smith, RHP, B- (impressive reliever could advance fast)
    9. Mike Carp, 1B, B- (developing power bat to watch)
    10. Alay Soler, RHP C+ (Cuban defector looks better as a reliever to me than a starter)

    First, any system that is nine deep in 'B' prospect is doing pretty good. What this means is they have the depth to retain plenty of skill and make some of the mid-level trades that are needed during the season. Lately, the Mets system has lacked that middle depth of their system to get those deals done. Second, good to see that comment about Pelfrey and I do think the Mets have two live ones on their hands that will be ready on short order in Pelfrey and Humber. Third, they still have guys that are intriguing like Henry, Garcia, Stoner, Nall, Martin, and Junior Contreras, who took a bit of a step back in '07.

    For some reason, Mets fans tend to get very defensive about their farm system, likely a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from trades over the last few years. Face it guys: this system has three strong prospects at the top, four or five more who are interesting but have question marks, then a whole bunch of guys who are only marginal right now.

    Now, I have to disagree here, which I'm sure is no surprise. While his statement has some merit, it needs to be stated that they still have Milledge, Wright, and Reyes who will be under control for while and still have Maine, Heilman, Sanchez, and Oliver Perez under control for a while. Add into the mix their top three prospects, who are as can't miss as prospect can be, and their four through nine prospects, the Mets are impressive. Not as impressive as the cream of the crop systems, but no other team has the Major League core that is so proven at such a young age. 99% of the teams out there also do not have more than three 'can't miss' prospects and Sickels is making it sound like the Mets are one of the few teams who only have three blue chippers. Plenty have zero! While they are still a bottom fifteen system, there are other mitigating factors which make me overlook their system's faults. Namely the players above. Frankly, I'm ecstatic about where this team's system is after looking absolutely horrible two years ago and there are plenty of intriguing names and extremely talented players to keep an eye on that could keep this system on the upturn throughout next year and beyond.