Mets Fans – Count Your Blessings
We are in the midst of the holiday season, and nearly everyone in MLB is clearly insane. I bring this up because, part of the end-of-year holidays is to reflect on the past year, and count our blessings.
The Mets made enormous strides over the last year, and before we condemn the Mets for signing, or not signing Barry Zito, or trading, or not trading Lastings Milledge, or not having the sense and decency to put Aaron Heilman back in the rotation, we must take a look at Omar Minaya’s actions and inactions and see that he has clearly shown more sensibility than nearly every other GM.
For example, consider some of the Hot Stove insanity over the last few weeks.
I sort of understand the Cubs spending loads of money on their manager, Alfonso Soriano, and journeymen such as Ted Lilly (OK, not really). Obviously the Cubs are just desperate to make a huge splash, after finishing last in a season they were expected to contend.
But then I see the Yankees and Blue Jays bidding fiercely against each other for a BACKUP CATCHER. Perhaps this was spurred by Bengie Molina receiving a three-year contract from the Giants, who were quite obviously bidding against themselves. Speaking of three-year deals, how the heck did Miguel Batista get one?
Of course, this is not nearly as insane as the $75M given to Japan for the right to negotiate with a couple of AAA pitchers.
And there are the five-year, $50M contracts handed to a fourth outfielder — Gary Matthews, Jr. — and a centerfielder who can’t hit nor throw (Juan Pierre). Seeing that insanity drove J.D. Drew to give away four years of guaranteed millions — a psychotic act in itself — to hit the open market.
But it’s not just the free-agent dollars being tossed around, it’s also the unbelievable trades being made. Were all the GMs slipped a “mickey” (pardon the pun) at Disneyworld during the Winter Meetings? How else do you explain the logic behind trades made recently by the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals?
The M’s, who have a number of affordable free-agent choices to fill their DH role — Aaron Guiel, Jeromy Burnitz, Craig Wilson, Cliff Floyd, Shea Hillenbrand, and Todd Hollandsworth are just a few that come to mind — instead send two live bodies to the Washington Nationals for Jose Vidro to be their DH. While Vidro was once one of the best all-around second basemen in the game, he’s no longer a guarantee to hit .300, and even in his best years would only hit maybe 12-15 home runs — hardly the type of hitter you entrench in the DH spot.
But even more mind-boggling was the recent deal done by the Royals — Andrew Sisco for Ross Gload.
To refresh your memory, the Kansas City Royals have not mattered since Bret Saberhagen, George Brett, and Buddy Biancalana were household names. In fact, they have stunk. There, I said it, and I’m sorry to y’all KCers but this isn’t opinion, it’s fact. The Royals have lost 100 games in each of the last three years, in four out of the last five, and have lost less than 97 only twice in the past eight seasons. It does not take a brain surgeon to understand that this is a team in need of rebuilding. And even your Aunt Tilly can tell you that rebuilding a ballclub begins with youth and pitching, preferably both put together. Andrew Sisco, by the way, is a healthy, 23-year-old, lefthanded pitcher (starter or reliever), who throws in the mid-90s. They traded this fine young specimen in return for backup first baseman Ross Gload, who will be 31 years old when the 2007 season begins.
This is not a joke, by the way.
Their justification is nearly as laughable, and I won’t directly quote anyone to protect the ignorant. Basically it came down to this: Sisco walked too many batters, and the Royals weren’t comfortable with Justin Huber as their backup first baseman (Mets fans remember Huber as the Aussie catching prospect swapped in the convoluted Kris Benson deal a few years back).
This was their public statement, anyway — that you have to give up something to get something, and apparently trading a young Randy Johnson type was necessary to obtain a good fielding, 31-year-old backup first sacker (again, I mention the names Aaron Guiel, Craig Wilson). The unpublic story (a.k.a., the truth) has something to do with a taco. That, also, is not a joke.
Even if the taco was the real reason behind trading Andrew Sisco, you would think a team like the Royals would try to get something of more value in return. Or at least more youthful. Or at the very least, a potential mid-July trading chip. This is dumber than the Scott Kazmir for we-forgot-who deal. At the time, the Mets were at least within striking distance of a Wild Card spot, and were desperate for an experienced MLB pitcher. How does Ross Gload fit into Kansas City’s rebuilding plans?
Apparently, the Royals are making it clear that the future is now. That’s why they opened the safe for Gil Meche and Octavio Dotel, and gave the Mets another young flamethrower, Ambiorix Burgos, in return for a pitcher who projects at best as a #5 starter. They’re committed to putting a Major League team on the field in 2007 — following the same plan they have, ever since George Brett retired after the 1993 season (their last winning season, by the way). In other words, they make a few mediocre splashes with third-tier veterans to fill out the roster, giving fans just enough of a flicker of hope to get them to renew their season tickets.
Again, I bring your attention to this smoldering franchise as a means to invite you to count your blessings as a New York Mets fan. No matter what players come and go between now and April 2007, you can be sure that Omar Minaya and the Mets brass will be committed to fielding a team much UNlike the Kansas City Royals.