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

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mid-Season Shake Up

Right out of the box the Mets fired off two big moves. They first fired Rick Downs while hiring Rickey Henderson and they also designated Julio Franco for assignment. First off, I was never a big Rick Downs fan. I would have preferred they did not take one of Willie's guys from the start as he was obviously taking him out of convenience and comfort and that is not the best way to build a staff. If he was special, the Yankees would have kept him. Omar went out and added solid pieces after hiring Randolph and already had his pitching coach in place. Given the choice, I'm sure Omar would have preferred not to take Downs from the start.

In regards to Rick, HoJo was credited with Wright's maturation at a hitter as Rickey was credited with Reyes' so it is unclear if he had much an affect on this team anyway. I am not actually sure what affect hitting coaches have on big league teams, but I do think there is value there. Maybe not in the teaching aspect, but protecting people from going out of slumps and identifying idiosyncrasies in a player’s swings. We do know we have seen more than a few good players go through prolonged slumps on this team and I do think this is a good move. Adding Rickey to the staff certainly has more value add than Rick Downs and one has to believe this team is now stronger in regards to the coaching side of things.

As for Franco, Omar finally removed Julio as a choice for Willie. God knows that Willie would have been calling his number every single big pinch hit opportunity while better choices sat on the bench. Maybe now Damion Easley will get a chance to actually pinch hit. What a novel thought. In tandem, Milledge has been brought up in his place in a move we all knew was going to happen anyway and Omar also inked Marlon Anderson. Anderson will report to AAA New Orleans while the Mets figure some more things out. Ultimately, Marlon is 1,000,000 times better choice as a bat off of the bench than Old Man Egg Whites.

The Mets may not have shaken the world with their moves, but it shows that Omar is not exactly enthralled by the past two months of baseball and felt he needed to make some moves. They are making a statement that they are serious about winning and really, with Franco as the first guy of the bench to pinch hit, I could not in all seriousness believe that the Mets wanted to put their best foot forward. As of today, this team has been Willie-proofed a bit more. As Bookied mused on Toasty's site, is it too much to hope for that we'll see Gotay at second (wrote this before his start) and Milledge batting higher than 8th (we now know he will)? Probably, but it is clear positive moves have been made.

* * *

  • Larry Rother has a a nice article about baseball in Brazil. Baseball scouts must be drooling at the thought of tapping into Brazil's potential. However, being entrenched in soccer, I think they are realistic about it. As stated within the piece, getting a big star or two in the bigs as Venezuela did with Johan, Miguel, Big Z., etc. can truly put baseball on the map. As baseball gets more popular and taps into the talent in places like Brazil, China, Africa, Australia, etc., there is going to be some serious talent infused into the league. The only problem is that it takes a long time to get up to snuff so it will be a long time before any of those places are contributing meaningful talent to pro baseball in the US.

  • This guy is my new favorite human being

  • Just classic....The title was Prince Charles Sizes Up a Female Soldier.

  • The Padres wished they could take a mulligan on their '04 draft, but they can't. They passed up Verlander, Humber, Weaver, and Drew and went for Matt Bush. He could not hit, but he was a spectacular pitcher in high school with big time velocity and a nice curveball. I can only imagine they preferred him as a short stop because he was small. Well, he is back on the mound and he touched 98 mph in his first two starts.

    "Very impressive. I was pleasantly surprised," said Dave Rajsich, Bush's AZL pitching coach. "He throws a lot better than I anticipated . . . His command is much better and his velocity is a little more than I expected. (He's) much more polished than I was expecting."

    Bush, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 98, also did not expect to make such a rapid adjustment to the mound.

  • In some breaking news, the Cubs are trying to deal the Jaque Jones. Really, is that even news anymore? Does that even deserved to be printed?

  • Wow. Looks like A-Rod will become the $30 million man regardless of what happens.

    The language in Rodriguez's record-breaking contract says that for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, A-Rod will receive $27 million plus the higher of $5 million or $1 million greater than the annual average value of the non-pitcher with the largest annual average value package.

    Since no one will be even close to that salary, he gets $32 million. At this point, Hicks should still be drawn and quartered for that incredibly idiotic contract. Seriously horrifying is what that thing is. Also within the article it states that the Yankees want to bring him back anyway and not even give him a chance to opt out of that contract.

    But that certainly brings up another issue doesn't it? The popular opinion is that Hicks would still be on the hook for $9 million a year for three more years if he does not invoke the opt-out clause. However, a lawyer (he said he was one anyway) said on the radio that as soon as you modify the existing contract, the previous obligor (in this case the Rangers) would be off the hook.

    Any legal feedback on this one?

  • The Mariners need starting pitching. Is there any team that doesn't?

  • Blow it up.

    Even if you can only two B grade prospect for each, it needs to be done. They need to get whatever they can get and start turning their situation around. They are not going to get what they want and the trades will not be popular, but they have some fun guys to watch that will draw some fans. They backed themselves into this corning and have to make some difficult decisions to get back out.

  • Did anyone that watched the game think the telecast cutting to the a sunset behind the Statue of Liberty was weird? They made it seem it was close. They might as well have show us a Costa Rican sunset. I just missed the relevance. It was nice, but it's not really where the stadium is. Now maybe if they mentioned the sunset behind the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey, I would be OK with it.

  • Great win and the players we have been clamoring for came up in a big way. Good stuff.

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The game today was great, Gary and Keith spoke for a long period of time about how "important" a hitting coach really is, and the short answer was, they're really not THAT important. It's all about them recognizing bad habits. I mean for the most part, they're all veterans. The hitting coach is really for Wright, Reyes, Gotay, and Milledge. Althuogh it was kind of dissapointing to hear that the hitting coach doesn't have that big of impact, it was stilll a great conversation and tons of insight in tonights game.

    Matt Bush the reliever. We'll see how that goes.

    I'm taking advantage of the free week of MLB Extra Innings and umm, J.J. Putz is nasty, he just struck out Magglio.
    Speaking of the Mariners, the season started while I was in Europe and I wasn't able to give those silly "predictions", you know the standigns plus MVP's and Cy Youngs and all that. But as far as my "surprise team" goes, I picked the Mariners, seriously! It may not be on this site but I did type it in one of the newspaper blogs... Soooo, I'm correct about that one, I'm the man!

    The Reds need to trade Dunn and Griffey. Unfortunately they're a year or two late on trading Dunn. They have to start all over and begin with Hamilton as thier main man or something.

    And umm, Lastings Milledge is the man! He makes his presence felt immediately. No one scores that run, not Franco, not Green, not Ledee, only Milledge and Gomez...
    And his bat speed, jeeze louise! I've fallen in love with him again!

    1:08 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I really can't believe how your take on every single move the Mets just made was Omar covering for an inept Willie.

    Franco - who signed him? Omar. What did he think, Willie would never play him? As it is, every single non-pitcher on the Mets roster has more AB's than him. Castro. Gotay. Even Newhan. 50 atbats in 87 games? And Willie uses him too much? Are you kidding me? Name me one player who has been on a roster all year and didn't even get 100 atbats. What is Willie supposed to, have him sit in a rocking chair? Omar signed him, Willie used him - as little as possible. Willie gets points for this one, and Omar takes a hit in my book.

    Rick Down - sure, I'm not happy with the team's atbats this year. And maybe firing Down will have an effect. But let's not forget that the Mets led the league in runs scored last year. So it's not like Down was some horrible coach who never worked out. Finally - 90% of the time when a manager is hired, he brings in most or even all of his own coaches. So bringing in ONE of "Willie's guys" as a coach is not exactly some huge mistake or unprecedented event.

    Finally - Miledge: good, bat him eighth. Make him earn his way up the lineup. I like him, but let's be honest - the kid's a bit full of himself. He should have to earn his way up the lineup. It's a lesson that should pay off in the long run.

    Listen, I like Willie, and I like Omar. But I call a spade a spade. I love 90% of the moves Omar has made over the years, just like I agree with 90% or so of Willie's tough decisions. I respect Omar for making some significant changes even if this team is in first, but I also feel he needs to take some of the blame for signing those guys in the first place. Blaming Willie for using the players he's given (and barely, at that) is just ridiculous. Please try to be fair.

    2:44 AM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    Yes. That convo about the hitting coach was great. I wrote this earlier and not that I’m saying anything new, but it crossed a bit with what Keith said and I almost didn’t want to post it. To redundant…but whatever. Also, they do have an impact, but more on the young kids. Gomez’s approach isn’t where it is going to be in five years. He’ll learn from everyone, Beltran, Reyes, Wright, Rickey, HoJo, etc… One thing I did agree with Keith 1000% is that it helps if the guy played in the bigs. He just might be able to impart more knowledge having played at that level.

    RE: Keith. Keith says Lastings shouldn’t use maple. Lastings should use ash.

    Maybe Bush will be a reliever, but they are pretty valuable these days, no? Bad draft pick no matter what. They drafted a SS that wasn’t all that good. But if they can salvage anything useful out of this they would be ecstatic.

    I don’t watch other teams as much as I need to. That is why I do like the All-Star game. Guys like JJ Putz are not people I see very often at all.

    Kudos to your Seattle prediction, but it ain’t over yet bro. But let’s rewind to what I said….

    NL: Mets; Brewers; San Diego
    AL: Boston; Cleveland; Angels

    Wild Card: Diamondbacks (Braves may well be my second choice, arghh!!)
    Detroit (AL is hard as Blue Jays & Yankees are both potentially there as well
    * Detroit & Cleveland may flip-flop, but I’m pretty up on the Indians this year.

    ‘Zona is 2.5 out, but looks baked with the loss of Johnson and Quentin and Drew not stepping up. This will be the hardest one, but I feel pretty good about the rest.

    Too late on Dunn yes. But at least get something. I guess they can cross their fingers and hope for a decent draft pick, but the rules have changed a bit and there will be less compensations and downgrading of players. If they can get a player or two that are closer and more projectable because they played a few years of college ball, all the power to them. You are not getting exact value…they are selling low. That being said, they probably had one of the top 3 drafts. Suck it up…deal for what you can.

    Milledge is a game changer. Anyone that doubts that just needs to watch the highlights again. He might not come out and hit a ton of homers, but the kid can play. If Gotay plays and bats second, can they really even move Milledge up much? I’d still prefer to him bat sixth in front of LoDuca and Green, but batting below that is not exactly a national crisis. I love yesterday’s lineup…

    1) speed
    2) decent speed
    3) speed
    4) speed
    5) slow
    6) slow
    7) slow
    8) speed

    Four speedsters and one decent guy. Just group Milledge up further and you have a team that just have power, speed…everything. They’d put up some runs. As for Milledge’s run, he should have been out, but Hattenberg screwed up. That being said, that’s why you do run sometimes. You try and force a mistake and make the other team make the plays. The Reds didn’t (surprise!) and it gave The Duque the win. Or else he pitches great and leaves with a ND.


    Yes…Omar was wrong for signing Valentin and Franco. Who said I didn’t think that was wrong. But who keeps playing them? WILLIE!!! Willie isn’t forced to use Franco in every big spot, but he does. Willie can start Gotay, but he doesn’t. Maybe he will now, but he hasn’t. Easley is a much better pinch hitting option, check how many times he has pinch hit vs. Franco. Just because Omar made a bad move or two does not mean Willie needs to compound the problem. 100% agree that Omar’s moves did not quite work out this year….Valentin…Franco’s regression, Scott S….His drafts even seem to be lack.

    What is Willie supposed to, have him sit in a rocking chair?

    Um…yes. Don’t use him! Bury him until a 17 innings game. Are you really that incapable to understand Willie used him waaaaay too much in big spots. Even a Willie supporter friend of mine told me yesterday he things 2 to 3 games were lost because Easley and better options sat on the bench while Willie send Franco to the plate!!!! Indefensible moves.

    90% of the time when a manager is hired, he brings in most or even all of his own coaches. So bringing in ONE of "Willie's guys" as a coach is not exactly some huge mistake or unprecedented event.

    I know that. But Willie brought over a guy who Steinbrenner just let walk from the team even though he was under contract and you’ll pardon me if I think picking the best of what is out there is the way to go. And surprise!!! Read back in my posts from when Willie was hired. I wanted HoJo and guess who’s the hitting coach? Maybe I’m not so stupid and you’ll excuse me if I don’t like old man Down. Too many guys have slumped. Too much inconsistent hitting. Is it him? I’m not sure, but firing him could help. If it doesn’t was it a big loss? You get to add Rickey and I think we can all agree adding Rickey is a plus and Rick Down is a causality that allowed that to happen. Maybe the move was more about that.

    Make him earn his way up the lineup. I like him, but let's be honest - the kid's a bit full of himself.

    Umm…just like Bobby Cox makes kids earn their way up? I’ll argue this one until I’m blue in the face. Let skill not age dictate where you bat. When Kelly Johnson came up, Cox bat him third in front of some pretty big names. He moved Chipper down…why? He thought Johnson could handle it and had the skill to. Only a manager who has some axe to grind doesn’t arrange the optimal lineup to do something as ridiculous as make players ‘earn’ their way up. If they can play, they can play. Why are you OK with Milledge having to earn his way up and Gotay hit second? That to me is a little contradictory, but we are talking about Willie here. If it is not evident that Milledge can help this team win and should be used higher where he can make more of an impact you should really think about it a bit more.

    Blaming Willie for using the players he's given (and barely, at that) is just ridiculous. Please try to be fair.

    Omar does have large part to play here and righted some wrongs. I think you are not exactly catching what I’m saying. Either way, I have the right to not like Willie. I think he plays favorites and has his guys. I think the way he goes about doing things is ridiculous. To outline that, the top pinch hitters on the Mets…

    David Newhan (.133 BA) and Julio Franco (cannot get around on a 88 mph fastball). He BARELY uses these guys? Easley 11 pinch hits. Preposterous. And don’t post as anonymous…if you regular post here an disagree it’s ok. If you don’t, what’s the point of posting anonymous anyway? Post and discuss….

    9:22 AM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    FYI...Willie said that 'Stings would play...but mixed in with Newhan and Easley.

    That's silly. Omar put Newhan on the roster, but that doesn't mean you need to use him in some sort of screwed up platoon. It’s Omar’s problem for not have a better player (Marlon will be or when Moises or Endy comes back…he’s going to be DFA’d again and not picked up) in that roster spot. I agree. But Milledge, Beltran, and Green should be your starters. The others should get mixed in like any other reserves, but Milledge should get as much playing time as normal starter would. But Willie being Willie needs to work Newhan in. We aren't in a close race or anything...let's get a guy that has zero chance of being on the playoff roster some at-bats to keep him warm.

    Newhan can play anywhere and that has value in a long game. He is officially the 25th man and should be used as an emergency player or pinch hitter in a big loss/big win or double switch at the end of meanginless game. Again, I blame Omar for putting him on the roster, but he’s not forcing Willie to get him playing time. Willie chooses who he puts in and that is where I take issue with him.

    Easley is your #1 pinch hitter or Gotay is when he is not starter.
    Valentin provides some nice pop off the bench, but he is still injured and really should not start. Pinch hit...spot start whatever. Let Gotay loose the job.

    Should be easy to me to navigate through the next few weeks in regards to the lineup, but it won't be. Trust me.

    9:33 AM

    Blogger michael o. said...


    "I really didn't like it," Randolph said. "But it got the job done. He tried to go around the catcher and a lot of these guys do that nowadays; it's so silly. You end up getting hurt."

    That was about Milledge's great slide. That about what I expect. Instead of lauding a great play, he gets on him. He wants him to lower his shoulder and knock him down? That's better? This is the manager of the NY Mets people.

    9:46 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    About the legal question --

    What the lawyer said sounds right to me. When you modify a contract, what you are really doing is voiding the old contract and replacing it with that is only slightly different -- its a new contract based on the old one. So you can't hold Hicks to something he never agreed upon. However, to the extent he agreed upon a certain contigency in advance (the player option) he can be held to it. Just my thought.

    Jon (formerly from JCNJ)
    Fordham Law '03

    9:49 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "I really didn't like it," Randolph said. "But it got the job done. He tried to go around the catcher and a lot of these guys do that nowadays; it's so silly. You end up getting hurt."

    Milledge had no other chance of scoring if he slid any other way!
    Willie's a dick. I mean I understand there's a method to his madness. It's obvious what he does and I could respect that, but Willie is still a dick.

    11:18 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    We lose last night's game if Valentin doesn't hurt his pinkie "breaking up a fight". Thankfully Willie was forced to play Gotay.

    Willie's postgame comments about Milledge's slide were classic Silly Willie. He can be so frustrating at times. If he actually starts working in Newhan regularly and creating a platoon with Milledge while Alou is still out I will cry. No really, I think I will cry. After all, Shawn Green is the one that needs to sit when Alou comes back:

    April: 93 AB, .355/.412/.538, .949 OPS
    May : 76 AB, .263/.325/.421, .746 OPS
    June: 66 AB, .182/.229/.318, .547 OPS
    July: 37 AB, .243/.263/.324, .587 OPS

    Not a good trend.

    11:47 AM

    Blogger AE said...

    where is that willie quote from? if that's a statement that truly came from his mouth, i think omar needs to sit down with him and let him know that he can't be throwing lastings under the bus like that...

    and if willie has a personal vendetta against da edge, this team is not going to go very far. after watching milledge last night, i was impressed. the kid seems to be on a mission to prove himself. anyone with the raw talent that he has that has a drive to succeed, that's a dangerous player...

    and as for the reds, if i were them, i would hold on to dunn and trade griffey. obviously i like dunn - i havn't had a single fantasy team without him for the last 3 years. but seriously, i don't think trading dunn for 30 cents on the dollar is going to help the reds. he creates runs, averaging 7.21 RC/27 over the last 6 seasons (for comparison pants has produced 7.29 RC/27 during his career). now obviously you get shakey defense with dunn, but he is still a very very good hitter, regardless of the strikeouts.

    i just think there's a big chance for another disaster that was the lopez/kearns trade if and when they trade dunn if they rush to make a deal this year.

    11:53 AM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I disagree a little with saying the hitting coach has little importance. I felt like Keith made that statement and then proved himself wrong last night.

    Mechanically the hitting coach isn't going to change much at this level, but as for preperation the job is very important. Keith spoke about how pitchers work an at bat and how his coaches helped him learn what to do in a particular situation. Like if you like the ball outside, so a pitcher is going to work you inside, look for the pitch inside even if it cost you to miss a few outside. Then when word gets around that you are looking inside, the pitchers will start throwing in your zone.

    That's exactly what the hitting coach is needed for. He needs to watch hours of film and have his players come to each game with a plan. There is no reason that pitchers with eras of 8 and losses in the double digits should be shutting down our offense. did they not know to take a strike? there is no reason that are batters should look foolish against pitchers that throw alot of junk. did they not expect the curve ball in the dirt?

    keith also said that back when he played he got up against the same pitchers many times during a season, but that now with more teams, divisions and interleague play that's not the case. Plus the fact that most teams only had a couple of bullpen arms and now you see a different pitcher in each of the last four innings. I would imagine it's even more difficult to preapre for a series or a game.

    The good news is that there is more information and that's where our pitching coach thrives. the psychological stuff may be great for the young pitchers, just like the mechanical help may be great for the young hitters. The greatest thing the coaches can do is prepare the players for the game after that natural skill takes over. we know this team has the skill, but they've played this season without that motivation and often they look unprepared.

    sorry for the long post, but doesn't anyone else see that? or get that from what keith said?

    12:03 PM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    Wholeheartedly agree. I think some praise was in order and instead he was chastised a bit for a fantastic and athletic slide. He’ll probably get benched for it…you show ‘em Willie…show ‘em who is boss!

    Danny, I didn’t even know Valentin was injured until today. Absolutely, his hand was forced and Valentin would have been batting #2 if was healthy. Maybe he strings a few games together and asserts himself in the position…Milledge too.

    Green is the odd man out and without Franco, he can assume backup COF and 1b and provide a nice lefty bad off the bench. I like him a lot in that role.

    AE..that was from a paper…it was emailed to me without the link. You should be able to find it on SPORTSPYDER.com

    anyone with the raw talent that he has that has a drive to succeed, that's a dangerous player...

    That fits in well as an addendum to yesterday’s post. I’m high on Milledge right now.

    RE: Dunn…but he walks away any. Are they really going to resign him? At least get a player you can project to be a big league regular for him. If they do that even if it is 30 cents on the dollar, I think it helps them. Tough decision though, but you have to bite the bullet on this one.

    Joe, great stuff and you make a great case for it mattering. I don’t think Beltran’s approach is going to change, but I think they have a big impact on kids’ approach to the game like Gomez, who didn’t walk at all. That’s not going to come right away obviously, but he still needs to start working on that. Also, I do think they can be big value add in regards to preparation and how to approach the pitchers you might see. Guys like Leiber and Smoltz are knowns, but the SUCK ME (thanks Toasty) theory is definitely in play with the Mets and that could be the hitting coach’s fault.

    12:52 PM

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I always enjoy listening to Keith break down a player's swing. So as you suggest, he counters his own arguement that hitting coaches aren't very important. He's been going on for weeks about Delgado's swing and how it's different, same for Wright when he was struggling in late April. You have to imagine that a guy like Delgado would take the advice of a former MVP more seriously than Down's. Too bad Mex doesn't want the job.

    I'm also excited by a lineup with Milledge, Gotay, Reyes, Wright and Beltran. With Rickey coaching, they could become a major disruption on the basepaths, like that hated mid-eighties Cardinals team was.

    1:47 PM

    Blogger michael o. said...

    Rick...I'm drinking the Keith Kool-Aid. Whatever he says I believe.

    1:52 PM

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