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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

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.

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  • From KLaw:

    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.

  • I forget if I linked to this, but here I go again. Thanks to Scott D...

  • I would love to see a two-way baseball player, but is it possible? If Micah Owings does not practice hitting all that much and still rakes, he should consider switching to offense full time. I think his sparkling stats might involve that thing called sample size unless he is one of the best hitters in the universe. It is just too hard to come in and hit while not focusing solely on just that. That being said, I hope he sees some games at first.

  • Andruw goes to the Dodgers for a lot of money over a short amount of time. Andruw gets $18 million per year, but it is actually a $12 million signing bonus and the rest split over the next two seasons. If the Dodgers were smart, they would give their kids a shot and dump Pierre to someone and pay half his salary. I'm sure he has some value to someone in that context, but I doubt they move Pierre. Also, they still have Nomar on board, but he could be a supersub. With so much youth, it would not hurt to have him around getting a decent number of at-bats. If they did all this, the Dodgers lineup would look something like this:


    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.

  • Apparently frigging (or derivatives of the word) is pretty popular these days.

  • Willie on last season:

    "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 have no shot at Johan.

    The Mets are still in on Santana.

  • Picking John Maine to impersonate is brilliant. Besides hardcore fans, who would recognize him?

  • Fuentes for Heilman? Yeah...that makes sense.

  • Just an FYI:

    Feb. 14 -- Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.

    Feb. 19 -- Voluntary reporting date for other players.

    Feb. 26 -- Mandatory reporting date.


  • Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Funny Ha Ha / Winter Meeting Madness

    Yet another instant classic. Back to some baseball...

    But if the Red Sox wind up sweeping Santana out from under them -- and adding him to a rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka -- it will be fascinating to see if the Yankees feel the need to respond by reeling in another ace of their own.

    "If the Red Sox get Santana," said an executive of one NL team that's grateful to be in the other league, "they might be the best team in the history of the frigging universe."

    Nothing wrong with raising the bar a bit even if you did just win the World Series and it is safe to assume that landing Johan would be raising the bar.

    The two deals on the table are John Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson or another player versus Jocoby Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, and Jed Lowrie. Decisions...decisions. For me, the best thing for the Twins to do would be to take deal number one.

    I like Ellsbury, but he has seem to taken on a life of his own in terms of prospect status and while he is a good centerfield prospect, he is not worth that much. He is 24 and has not showed an ounce of power in a pretty big sample size in the minors. He is going to be a solid player, but I actually think the first package gives them more impact players. The Red Sox would probably be better off with them taking deal number two and keeping pitching depth in their system or using Lester in another trade.

    Lester slots into the rotation right away and has front end potential and Jed Lowrie could be an offensive star in the bigs while Masterson gives them decent arm in their system. Also, let us not forget that Crisp was pretty good in 2004 and 2005 for the Indians and might have a nice bounceback year outside of Boston and actually outplay Ellsbury over the next three seasons. People have soured on him a lot, but the fact is he is still young and still talented and could very well revert back to form. Afterall, he would not be the first guy that could not cut it in Boston (see Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Matt Clement).

    It is hard to envision Santana leaving and not bringing back a starting pitcher being they just gave up two, but they seem to like Ellsbury that much. No matter who they end up getting from the Sox, at least he is not a Yankee. With the Mets boldly dishing off a top tier talent for Church and Schneider, the Yankees landing the world's best pitcher would just be insult to injury.

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  • The news item of the day has to be Cabrera and Willis to Los Tigres. Unreal. The Marlins get Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, and three pitchers. From Gammo:

    Here are the three pitching prospects the Tigers are sending to the Marlins in the Cabrera-Willis deal: right-handers Eulogio De la Cruz (3.62 ERA in the minors with a blazing fastball), Dallas Trahern (13-6 between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo) and Burke Badenhop (12-6 between Lakeland and Erie).

    Apparently that De La Cruz guy hit triple digits with his fastball. All in all, the Tigers have balls. They made a huge deal and gave up some solid players, but got the second best right handed bat in the game at 24 years old and the resources to keep him around. Also, you have to give it to the Marlins. They made another good deal and truly seem to be a fair trading partner that a lot of small market teams should take notes from. No matter how much it hurts to trade a guy, good deals can be made.

  • I thought the Pettite fiasco was a bit strange. Unless the Yankees knew he would come back all along, it is weird why Andy would make them wait. Sure it is his right to wait, but with the Yankees in a bit of a lurch, Pettite probably affects how they approach their hunt for a starting pitcher and how much they would pay. Sure he is back in time, but he surely made them wait.

  • I like me some Erik Bedard, but let us not get crazy.

    But while Bedard's cost, in terms of dollars, is far less than that of Santana, the Orioles believe Bedard's value, in terms of the talent they should receive in return, is just as high as that of the two-time Cy Young winner from Minnesota -- who is still expected to be traded to either the Yankees or Red Sox in the next day or two, with the winning bidder signing him to a contract extension worth perhaps $150 million.

    Bedard has been impressive the last two years, but he still has not notched 200 innings, his k/9 in 2007 was way above anything else he has ever done, and he is actually older than Johan. Also, if you get Santana, you get him for another six or seven years due to the negotiation window. You have to pay out of your ass for him, but you will retain him.

    With Bedard, he is only under control for two more years and there is no guarantee at all that he would signing with whatever team acquires him. Is he worth the same haul as Johan? Probably not. He obviously has a ton of value, but we will see if McPhail ends up working something out.

    One NL talent evaluator who loves Bedard said, "Bedard is closer in talent to Santana than Haren is to Bedard. In fact, it is not impossible to believe that in a year, we will all think Bedard is better than Santana." An AL executive said, "Here is what impresses me about Bedard, he pitches in the AL East against the Yankees and Red Sox. So, to me, he can pitch anywhere and excel."

    Of course it depends if you think Bedard has turned that corner at age 28 to become an elite pitcher or if you think he had a career year and is likely to regress a bit.

  • The Mets are still interested in Kuroda.

    One AL team official, in previously providing a scouting report to The Post on the 32-year-old Kuroda, classified his fastball as "average to slightly above average." The official also praised Kuroda's forkball, strike-throwing ability and competitiveness. Kuroda will require a multiyear deal.

    This is looking like the better thing to do day by day so the Mets can keep a semblance of a farm system because the asking price for Haren and Bedard are sky high. Also, with the Mets lack of intriguing prospects, it is increasingly unlikely a deal would ever get done. I know the Mets do have some talent, but other teams are just not enthused about them.

  • I wish the Mets liked young players.

    The trade of Quentin — to the Chicago White Sox for a low-level minor league first baseman — does nothing to damage the D-Backs’ chances of trading for a high-end starting pitcher, Byrnes said. The D-Backs’ best trading chip appears to be Double-A outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, whose path to the majors is blocked by Justin Upton. Speedy second baseman Emilio Bonifacio is also drawing interest from other clubs, including Washington.

    I still have faith in Quentin. The White Sox got themselves a nice right fielder who should be able to put up some pretty damn good numbers from day one. It would have been nice if the Mets could have spun a three way as I would of rather had Quentin in right with Milledge heading to Chicago. But alas, the Mets have become infatuated with elder players.

  • Peavy and the Padres are close to agreeing on an extension that will pay Peavy roughly $17 million in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Not a bad deal at all for the Padres.

  • A heinous and yet extremely delicious crime.

  • I think Ted Berg said it best about the Milledge deal. Church might pleasantly surprise. He might outperform Milledge in '08 even, though I think Milledge will probably be better. However, the Mets really did not need to make this move. Schnieder is not all that much better than Estrada when you factor in Estrada should be better offensively and was rather proficient at throwing runners out pre-injury. Then you factor in the money owed to Schneider and this still makes no sense in any context. But the Mets did it and they seriously seem to have issues with giving young guys a shot.

    Just a view from the other side:

    Andrew (London, UK): Jayson, I understand what you're saying, but the fact of the matter is that Milledge's OPS was only 26 points less than that of Church, he's older with less upside, Schneider is AWFUL offensively (.336 SLG), and the Mets already have Estrada and Castro behind the plate. Even if Milledge's value is in decline (which I don't think it is - any outfielder who is as good as he is defensively, with an OPS of almost 800 in just 140 AB at age 22, plus he's cost controlled - has trade value), why not let him play every day for awhile to let him re-establish his value?

    Jayson Stark: (1:26 PM ET ) You make great points. If this were the only move the Mets were going to make this winter, I'd be with you all the way. But Castros isn't an every-day catcher. They obviously didn't think Estrada was what they had in mind. So they have more well-rounded pieces to deal with now, I think. All they had before was outfielders. So they had to make two deals to address their needs, not one. For pure tools, the Nationals got the best player in the trade. But it makes some sense for both sides. Remember, Omar Minaya feels the heat to WIN RIGHT NOW. If he waits around for Milledge to put it together, somebody else will be the GM of that team.

  • The most swellicious quote of the week?

    Otis (Toronto, ON): This is dedication: 1. Start your chat at the office while closing door to office and declaring a "brainstorming session" 2. Continue on the commmute home via blackberry 3. Continue chat on the home computer, taking breaks for smokes and steaks that being said, how close are we to having the Knicks banished to the WNBA?

    Bill Simmons: That a boy, Otis! I like the idea of banishing the Knicks to the WNBA - Renaldo Balkman would be the 10th most attractive player in the league.

  • Runner up for quote of the week?

    "A deadline is a deadline. It was pretty much done as of this morning," Steinbrenner said on Tuesday, according to AP. "He's a fine pitcher, but there's a lot of things that go into this. This isn't fantasy baseball."
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