The Baseball Revolution
Baseball has taken quite a strange turn this off-season and I do not think that is a bad thing. In past years, getting trades done was seemingly impossible much less a trading for a top tier player. The free agent market used to be the place where people got their talent during the off-season and now the free agent market has forced teams into trading. Small market teams dish their top tier talent off to large market teams while the small market teams take their best and brightest to maintain financial flexibility. They also do not have to wait for whatever draft picks they obtain from watching their stars abscond into free agency to develop and are able to compete a lot sooner.
For large market teams, bad drafting and irresponsible development of their farm system can put them at a severe competitive disadvantage. GMs are now forced to get more creative and better at scouting and player development. Simply stated, you cannot survive on feasting on the free agent market alone while developing only a few prospects. While not as many trades have gone through that have been rumored, it is unmistakable that there has been more talent on the market in many, many, many years and I love it.
I love this new mode of operation where teams can actually go get themselves a true ace or a future Hall of Famer. Johan, Haren, Willis, Bay, Tejada, Blanton, Garland, Blanton, Rios, Lincecum, Young, Garza, etc. are a lot of big time names. Some with a serious length of time on the books. This is baseball's market today. You can either get on board with it or fall to back of the pack and unfortunately, the Mets have done just that.
By not giving their prospects enough of a chance and just enough to show other people that they are seemingly middle of the road, the Mets have shot themselves in the foot. Milledge and Pelfrey would have been better off not seeing a nanosecond of big league time. If they had not, they would have still been highly regarded. Instead, Milledge never got a true chance to shine and the media painted him as a big distraction. If he gets 120 games last season, he probably looks like a tremendous center field option over the next four years at a value. Especially when Hunter and Jones just got $18 million per year. A guy with an ability to hit .280 with 20 or so homers, 80 or so RBIs and 20 stolen bases at 23 years of age should have been a hotter commodity, but Shawn Green needed to get his ABs.
Pelfrey shit the bed early on in the year, but never got a shot to shine out of the bullpen or build upon his flashes of showing something later in the year. Humber's AAA numbers looked mediocre, but never got a shot to fill in for the Mets while Lawrence and Park stole games. At the end of the season, Humber got a start after sitting idle for nearly two thirds of a month and never got a shot at the bullpen despite how impressed the Mets said they were after his two inning show in 2006. As someone stated in the comments the other day, how can other teams take the Mets seriously about their kids having talent when they had glaring needs themselves and did not want to go to the farm system that they are holding in such a high regard.
Furthermore, the Mets have just flat out drafted bad. Sure, there are some nice guys in there that have surprised or could end up surprising, but their first pick of last year's draft is already looking like a middle reliever at best rather than a late innings option. Also, last year's draft for the Mets had everyone getting slot money when they needed to overpay for someone that fell. Then you can add Beato not getting inked because of a $200,000 or so discrepancy because the Mets wanted to be solid citizens. Now, the Mets are on the sidelines while some tremendous names are being bandied about. No one wants what the Mets have because they are not buying a word of it. That is not to say the names they are throwing out there are worthless, they most certainly are not. Mike Pelfrey still has an arm that most people dream of having and could still fulfill his potential, though many people doubt that. Humber lost a bit of bite on his curve, but it is hard to deny he was at the top many leader boards in AAA despite having minimal experience as a pro. Mulvey has taken a step forward and seems like he is ready to make that next jump.
The only hope the Mets have is that someone trusts their eyes more than ears. However, the Mets can blame no one but themselves and you really cannot blame people for not putting much stock in the words of Omar Minaya and you can certainly blame everyone from Wilpon down to Willie for putting themselves in this spot. Just when everyone thought the Mets had turned a corner in terms of doing things the right way and relying on their prospects to get them into the promised land, it is clear that not much has changed around New York but the faces. I advocated prudence this off-season and the Mets are not far away from that. The Milledge deal was a disaster, but the Mets need to operate their franchise the right way and not pay attention to what fans or the media says.
Steven Register was a top closer at Auburn before he was drafted in 2004, but the Rockies tried to make him a starter and it didn't work. As a reliever, he has good control and a 91-93 mph fastball with some sink (although it hasn't produced a good groundball rate), and a tight slider that should be an average pitch in time. I could see him making the Mets' club in spring training, and if it saves them from going after the next Guillermo Mota, so much the better.
I have no idea if this guy is any good, but the Mets needed to get creative and this would certainly qualify. They have not been lucky in the past, but that does not mean they should not try. Of course if he makes the team, he'll probably get the Heath Bell treatment and get buried in the bullpen after he gives up seven hits after being off for nine days.
That is one nice lineup that has some much youth and upside potential. Of course, you could switch some people around and I would prefer Kemp bat fourth with Jones fifth, but Jones is a veteran superstar...at least that's how I think Torre will view it. However, we know this is a pipe dream because they hate LaRoche's guts and Pierre and Garciaparra are still around. The rotation would be led by:
Despite Mike and The Mad Dog thinking the rotation is underwhelming, I think they have the makings of a dominant rotation. The back two would not be too shabby either. They still have Loiza, Kuo, Kershaw later on, and possibly Kurado. The Dodgers are truly positioned well for the future, but it is hard to know what Colletti is thinking these days.
"I think about it every day," the Mets' manager said of his team kicking away a seven-game lead with 17 to play in one of history's greatest folds.
"They should be thinking about it. I'm dealing with it and flushing it out. But, for the most part, we're not going into spring training harping on last year. We have to learn from that experience, get better from that, really just focus on the future. We all should have learned something from last year and I think we will."
A good manager is worth about five wins. A bad manager is worth about five losses. Willie is a bad manager. Hopefully he really did learn something so he can be neutral next season.
The Mets are still in on Santana.
Feb. 14 -- Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.
Feb. 19 -- Voluntary reporting date for other players.
Feb. 26 -- Mandatory reporting date.
Labels: 2008 off-season