The New Richard Justice?
Rich Hofmann probably does not believe this himself and I do understand he needs to write articles and I do understand what team he is writing for. However, you cannot help but sense a bit a jealousy.
After all, they have not been able to snag a big time free agent since Jim Thome waaaaaaay back in 2003. The funny part about that one is they traded him after the 2005 season because they blocked one of their only remaining offensive prospects. Good job. In their defense, not many people really thought Ryan Howard was going to be as good as he is.
I mean, Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton, and Wes Helms are not exactly great reasons to have big press conferences, but rest assured, if the Phillies signed anyone of any skill, they would have one. Sure, they traded for Mr. Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge, but that is hardly of the magnitude of signing a player that is the best of best to a long term contract while still in their prime.
The news conference seemed to have seating for about 200 or so, and plenty of people were standing. The luncheon menu featured chicken and beef satay, rice pilaf, pasta, green salad and gourmet sandwiches. The festivities were broadcast live on two television stations, one radio station and two Web sites (mets.com and losmets.com).
First, a video was shown that featured all manner of New Yorkers, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Chris Rock to Jerry Seinfeld, proclaiming their city as the greatest place in the history of places. It was all very understated, as per the local custom.
Then Santana arrived and was introduced by general manager Omar Minaya. Then they lined up for pictures - ownership, manager Willie Randolph, everybody smile now. A public-relations functionary had them turn to the dozens of exploding still cameras, and then to the other cameras over there, and then, could the still cameras please kneel down so the television cameras in the back could get a clear shot? Turn this way, turn that way; the guy had the group pose for everybody with a camera except Google Earth.
Who dates a hot chick and tells her to hide out in the basement? You would have preferred some low key function with little fanfare with some Blimpie subs? I mean, it is not like the Mets have a rabid fan base that they need to placate. But who cares about them? They are just the customers who are paying Johan's salary.
The Mets themselves said all of the right things - third baseman David Wright said the Phillies were still the team to beat in the National League East, as did Randolph - but this was quite the welcome for Santana, the two-time Cy Young winner. And listening to the radio on the way home, you could tell it was clear that all of the pomp and circumstance has led Mets fans to the inescapable conclusion that they already have won the World Series, before the first golf club has been shipped to spring training.
If they said the right things, why are you even complaining? It is not like they were spouting off that they were the team to beat like the Phillies did after not winning anything. Sure, Rollins was right, but I am pretty sure he that was not how he scripted it in his head. As for the rest? Conjecture! Unsubstantiated claims! Who said the Mets are locks to win the World Series?
I do believe the Mets have a long way to go before any World Series win and I may not be a smart person, but I am probably pretty sure that Johan helps the cause, which is the point. Why must people attempt to quell our giddiness? Why are we not allowed to enjoy this momentous occasion in which a perfectly manicured man has come into our lives?
And, in that spirit, Santana raised his hands at one point and showed off all the World Series rings he won in Minnesota.
Let's add up the World Series rings from everyone on the Philly roster. Umm...None? Not one? I can see the relevance.
Still, with everything, it is hard to believe that last season will be so easily forgotten. Maybe Santana will be great and Pedro Martinez will be unusually healthy and Jose Reyes will mature a couple of years in a couple of months and Carlos Delgado will find himself again, and nobody will notice that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are all better than the corresponding guys in the New York uniforms. Maybe all of that will happen and the Mets will get off to a hot start and never look back. It is a clear possibility.
But if it doesn't go like that...if it is a summer long gut fight with the Phillies and Braves...if Martinez grabs his (insert body part here), as has become routine...if Santana joins the long list of free agents who come to New York and struggle at the beginning...
Pedro might be 'unusually healthy'? Weird. Actually, him being unhealthy was the unusual thing. But good thing for us developed countries, we have doctors and medicine and stuff that can make ouchies go bye-bye.
Jose Reyes need not mature. He needs to simply continue to be the most dynamic player in the universe. Maybe he slumped at the wrong time, but are we now supposed to give up on a 25 year old who still made great strides last year with his ability to get on base? 77 walks to 78 strikeouts! For Jose Reyes, that would have been impossible to think about in 2003, but let us ignore progress for the sake of making arguments about maturity that you cannot prove nor can be disproved.
Utley, Rollins, and Howard better than the 'corresponding guys' in New York? Did anyone contest that they were not better as a group than Castillo, Reyes, and Delgado? I am not even sure what he is talking here because those are the corresponding guys. I am completely lost. Perhaps he is speaking about Beltran, Reyes, and Wright against his local trio? Well, let us play along and see how they all stack up over the last two years.
Win Shares Warp1Hmmm...A few things jumped out yet again to me. The 2006 MVP had seven less Win Shares than Beltran and was 2.7 behind in WARP1. Interesting, but we know the voters like when things go boom. In fact, you could have made a pretty good case he was the second best player on his own team, which is not exactly a dig, but worth noting. Also, the 2007 MVP had six less win shares and was 1.2 behind in WARP1 than the true MVP in David Wright.
Mets 184 167
Phils 48.7 47.2
That being said, it would be silly to sit here and call any trio better than the other. It is a win/win situation. They are all young and have long and prosperous years ahead of them. Debating any of it is completely and utterly ridiculous as you really could not lose with any of them over the next four years, which brings me to my next point. Why solely focus on the three best position players? Should we not examine what the key moves have been this off-season?
Phillies: Acquired Pedro Feliz, Brad Lidge, and Geoff Jenkins while losing Aaron Rowand and Kyle Lohse.
Mets: Acquired Ryan Church, Brian Schnieder, and Johan Santana while losing Tom Glavine, Shawn Green, Paul LoDuca, and Lastings Milledge. They also get a full year worth of Pedro Martinez.
Hmmmm...Let us think about this for a second. When I look at it that way, I can certainly see why Rich decided to be envious and solely focused on comparing Utley, Howard, and Rollins to Castillo, Delgado, and Reyes, which as nonsensical as it sounds, certainly seems to be what he is implying. He has only one quantifiable way that suggest the Mets are inferior to the Phillies, so I cannot blame him and anyone poo-poo'ing this deal from the Mets perspective has completely lost their perspective.
Finally, has '7/17' now become the rallying cry of the Philly Phans (get it? I replaced the 'f' in 'fans' with a 'ph')? If so, that is rather weak. There simply is not much for them to hold over our heads, huh? It was a bad collapse, but at the very least the Mets did manage to make it out of the first round in 2006, not that it was a crowing achievement. How about this, we make it best two out of three? Whoever wins in 2008 can brag all they want.
- Gee, I wonder what Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Livan Hernandez and Orlando Hernandez have in common."
- Hey, glad you asked -- because the Useless Information Department is here to tell you exactly what they have in common. Here's a trivia question you'll never, ever get: Outside of the Big Unit, who's the only other left-handed starting pitcher in history to run up a better single-season strikeout ratio than Bedard did last year? No, not Johan Santana. It's Johan's new teammate, Oliver Perez, of course. He punched out 10.97 per nine innings for the 2004 Pirates.
- Since Johan Santana moved into the Twins' rotation to stay on July 11, 2003, he has the best ERA (2.92) of any left-handed pitcher in baseball. Guess how many left-handers are even within three-quarters of a run of him? How about three:
- Andy Pettitte, 3.56
- Scott Kazmir, 3.64
- C.C. Sabathia, 3.66
Roughly a week before pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training, the Herald has learned today that right-hander Curt Schilling has a significant shoulder injury that could end the veteran right-hander’s season and is causing tension and friction between the player and club.
While neither Schilling nor Sox officials could be reached for comment, baseball sources have indicated that the club has at least inquired about the possibility of voiding the one-year, $8 million contract Schilling signed last November. It is not known to what lengths the Sox have gone on the matter, but their threat has been serious enough to create a conflict between Schilling and the Red Sox.
Should Schilling really be all that shocked that the Red Sox are a bit miffed they are spending $8 million for him to possibly never play for them again? I mean, it would be different if it was the last year of a multi-year pact, but this is a ridiculous.
I guess this means the Red Sox are going to be pretty dependent on Buccholz and Lester. I have to say, this changes things a bit. Schilling, while no ace anymore, was still going to help pitch in with some consistent innings. Relying on two guys who have yet to put up with the rigors of an entire big league season is dicey at best. Although, I guess this evens out the playing field a bit with the Red Sox and the Yankees.
"I understand that people are upset, but this is part of our Dominican culture and it is legal in the Dominican Republic," Martinez said in a statement. "I was invited by my idol Juan Marichal to attend the event as a spectator and not as a participant."
Juan Marichal? Under the bus.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said the two players "exhibited appallingly bad judgment ... It doesn't excuse the behavior to find a legal haven for this reprehensible and inhumane conduct. It's animal cruelty no matter where it occurs."
I do not particularly condone two cocks in such close proximity, but it is not like he sought out this safe haven. He lives there.
Blanton and Hattenberg basically bring about twelve wins and Votto as a rookie might not bring that much with whomever is that other starter. Also, you have to factor in the fact Hattenberg is still on the team and probably would be playing over Votto even if he was there. I would guess that Livan is not an option due to cost, but he would represent a three loss difference with Hattenberg in the fold.
That is a tough decision. I love Cueto, Bailey, and Votto and would have a hard time giving them up for three wins in '08. Of course, if they have no intention of actually bringing in Livan, it could be a four or five win swing. The real problem here is are the Reds appropriately estimating their shot of competing?
Blanton is no ace and would not tip the scales enough in my eyes as I think the Cubs are really, really good. That is before the Brian Roberts deal, if it goes through. My advice to Wayne? See if you can get Livan on a one year deal to eat innings and keep the kids. For the marginal difference in wins, you will thank me in 2008.