Breaking Down “The Deal”
Now that the smoke has cleared, and the details revealed, let’s break down the three-team, 12-player deal that made J.J. Putz a Met.
When healthy, Putz may be a better reliever than K-Rod, believe it or not. The term “filthy stuff” gets thrown around a little too much these days, but if you want to know what “filth” is, watch Putz from a camera behind home plate. He has a nasty 94-95 MPH fastball with movement and a knee-buckling curve that reminds me of Gregg Olson’s “yellow hammer” (anyone remember him?). In addition, Putz has icewater running through his veins — nothing rattles him. He has the makeup and the stuff to close in big games.
If there’s any negative, it’s that “when healthy” phrase. Putz will be 32 years old when spring training begins, and he’s coming off a season in which he suffered a torso injury early on and an elbow issue that knocked him out of action for over a month. That elbow problem (a hyperextension) could re-surface, considering his age and the violent force required to throw his curve.
Green is a tall, gangly, sidearming righthander with a deceptive delivery and who pitches to contact. His ball has decent sink so he throws a lot of ground balls, however, he walks way too many hitters. One major concern is his ineffectiveness in New York; his career ERA in Yankee Stadium is 14.63, and at Shea it is 27.00 (one inning, three runs). He’ll turn 30 in April, so it’s hard to believe he’s going to make a marked improvement going forward. Moving to the NL will not necessarily make him better, as he’ll be facing tough RH hitters and pinch-hitters later in games. My guess is he won’t be much more than a situational righthander. My greater fear is that he’ll make fans clamor for Heilman’s return.
Reed is a “poor man’s Endy Chavez” (to steal a phrase from my friend Joe Hamrahi). Hmm … that doesn’t sound so promising, does it?
Truth is this: Reed doesn’t hit for a particularly high average, has no power, doesn’t take walks, and his speed is only average. He’s a lefthanded hitter who struggles mightily against lefties. On the other hand, he is a decent to good defender who can handle all three outfield positions well, and he plays hard. At 27, now is the time for him to blossom. My best guess is that he doesn’t make the team out of spring training — particularly if the Mets sign a big-name, LH-hitting free agent outfielder.
There were two kinds of Mets fans: those who hated Heilman and wanted him gone, and those who loved him and hoped he could turn it around. It appears that he may finally get a chance to start, and the low expectations of Seattle make it an ideal environment for him to succeed. Good luck Aaron.
Ouch. The pundits are positioning this as “Green replaces Smith”. I’m not so sure about that, since at a tender young age Smith proved he could succeed in New York, and was a huge fan favorite. Looking purely at the numbers, Smith struggled against LH hitters, allowed the first batter he faced to hit almost .400 against him, and was ineffective with runners on in scoring position. Still, he’s young and promising, had some memorable, electric outings, and most of all, he was OURS. He’ll be missed.
Everyone will miss Endy, and no one will ever forget “the catch”. Unfortunately, Endy was the odd man out once Dan Murphy was promoted … actually, he was phased out much earlier than that. For whatever reason, Chavez fell out of favor the minute Jerry Manuel took over as manager. Considering that Murphy figures to be in the plans for ’09, Fernando Tatis was retained, and Carlos Beltran rarely takes a day off, Endy’s playing time was not going to increase. Better to see him get a shot to play semi-regularly in Seattle, than waste away on the Mets’ bench.
For most fans, losing Vargas seems inconsequential, since he’s been hurt for most of the time he’s been property of the Mets. I beg to differ, as I think he’s on the verge of finally breaking out.
There are a few things that simply can’t be taught. A 95-MPH fastball, for instance. Heart, for another. Vargas’ stuff is ordinary at best, but he has plenty of heart, and is a tremendous competitor. I’m of the ilk that you can’t underestimate what’s inside a ballplayer — see Dustin Pedroia, David Eckstein, Greg Maddux, Johan Santana. No, I’m not saying Vargas is another Santana — he’s not even close — but his competitiveness will take him further than better-skilled pitchers with weaker stomachs. I think he’ll win a job with Seattle, and do OK for himself. In my mind, he had a better chance of effectively filling the #5 spot in the Mets’ rotation than Jon Niese. Also, it’s too bad he won’t be able to hit in the “other” league.
Carp can hit, but is a man without a position. Further, I doubt he ever would have gotten a fair shot to win a job with the Mets, for whatever reason. Certainly he wasn’t in the conversation for ’09, and he’d need to have a big year to be considered for a job in 2010. His biggest problem is his bat is his only tool, and I’m not sure he’ll hit enough to justify an MLB job. In the AL, he at least has the option to DH.
I never saw Carrera play so don’t have an educated opinion. From what I understand he is, ironically, at best another Endy Chavez — a defensive-minded centerfielder with not much pop, and fairly fleet of foot. At age 21, he’s still young, but is not particularly toolsy — his speed is above-average, but he’s not “a burner”; his arm is weak; he has no power potential. At 5’10, 180 lbs, he doesn’t expect to develop into a power guy. In his first full year of high-A ball, he hit .263. Youth is on his side, but to me this looks like a throw-in.
Another guy I’ve never seen. All I know is he’s 19 years old, and he’s a 6’3″, 220-lb. righthander who pitched at two different levels of A ball last year. Though his numbers were unimpressive, he’s only 19 so who knows? He did throw a shutout, so he must have something.
The way I see it, this is a great deal in that the Mets acquired one of the top ten relievers in MLB, but a difficult deal to love because they gave up so much. Putz was a great pickup, but the other two players are throwaways — in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if both began the year in AAA, or were cut. So essentially the Mets traded seven players for one.
In my mind, putting both Smith and Vargas in the deal will come back to bite the Mets, and shouldn’t have been necessary. I understand you have to give up something to get something, but there’s a point where you’re getting fleeced. The Mets are in dire need of at least two, possibly three starting pitchers, and in Heilman and Vargas they traded away two guys who could have potentially filled those spots.
If it turns out the way I think it will, the Mariners traded a 32-year-old, damaged reliever and two fringe MLBers in return for two starting pitchers, a young and decent middle reliever, a fourth outfielder, and three prospects who may or may not turn into something. That’s too much for the Mets to give up, in my opinion.
One more note: Omar Minaya made a point in the press conference to say that the inclusion of several minor leaguers was indicative of the Mets having a quality system, and a great scouting department. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Carp was a product of the previous regime, Vargas was originally a Marlin and would have been on the MLB roster if not for injuries, and Carrera and Cleto are no-name, highly projectable throw-ins. Moreover, the fact that the Mets had to trade seven players for one legit big leaguer and two question marks is indicative of a WEAK organization.
Agreed on Green, as his career numbers are a small sample size. From what I’ve seen of him, though, he’s not going to be an upgrade. Hmm …. second thought … his motion is a little herky jerky, and he hides the ball well, so he has a good chance to be effective the first half of the season, as NL hitters will not have seen him before.
Omar already earned the extension by selling 10 million tickets in three years. Everything from here is gravy.
I’m not torn up in the least over losing any of the prospects in this trade. I figure Carrera will have the biggest upside, but he’ll proably only amount to another Endy Chavez – aka a 4th OF. Carp’s only future in the bigs is as a DH, and Cleto is too raw to accurately project. Jason Vargas is an enigma who, over 2 years with the Mets, we barely even saw in a game. I think the Mets brass soured on his durability and didn’t think twice about sweetening the pot by including his name. Then you look at the player for player breakdown. Heilman could have as much potential as Putz, but had definitely worn out his welcome in NY. Management felt he was best used as a reliever, and all he wanted to do was start. The two sides kept butting heads and trading him was the best solution for all, case closed. His awful 2008 season did nothing to encourage management to use him as a starter in the future. Meanwhile, Putz can be the best setup man in baseball, and gives the Mets an insurance policy in case something happens to KRod – something they failed to have in place during Billy’s tenure. Putz’s health will be a concern for the rest of his career, but the same can be said for any closer in baseball who has had injury issues in his past, and that list is quite extensive. But what I see is the Mets trading for a pitcher who would have required FMart, Church, Heilman, and maybe more to obtain this time last year, but instead getting him now, while his stock sunk, for Heilman, a backup OF, a ROOGY, and 4 prospects, while getting some spare parts back in return. In essense, Omar pulled the same stunt as the Phillies did last year when they acquired Lidge while his stock was low in a deal that included no powerhouses going to Houston. For Putz’ standards he had a poor 2008, but he still compiled some very encouraging numbers (strikeouts, ERA, opp avg), and what I really like to see is that over the 2nd half of last season, especially August and September, Putz was back to being the Putz of old. View the stats for yourself. That means nothing would suggest that Putz still can’t be a dominating force, even at 32 with a past history of injury. Maybe the only thing I would be concerned about is his willingness to be the setup man instead of THE man. Hopefully he’s more willing to be a team player than Aaron was. Time will tell.
Otherwise, I think Endy for Reed is a virtual wash, with neither slated to get any more than 200 ABs. Smith for Green hurts, but again, gotta give up something to get something. If Green is used properly, I’m sure he can be effective.
Right now the concentration should be on landing one more starter who can be penciled in to throw 180-200 innings. That way, you keep the bridge from the starter to the setup man as short as possible. Because right now, even with as much work as Omar has done, I’m still shaky on letting the bullpen handle the 6th and 7th innings 3 out of every 5 games. With Maine still a question mark at this point, I’m only confident about Johan and Pelfrey going 6 or 7 innings strong every start, which puts a ton of pressure on the bullpen (i.e. Stokes, Sanchez, Show, and Feliciano) to hold a lot of leads. And if no one else significant is added to the bullpen, that means more rotation arms must be acquired – either thru trade or free agency. I’m sure this is the next project Omar is already busy working on. I’m inclined to opine that bringing back Ollie might just be the best solution.
The Lidge comparison is a little off. At the time, the Phillies gave up next to nothing for him — Geoff Geary and Michael Bourn? Come on — that’s a far cry from 8 players. Further, Lidge wasn’t coming off an arm injury (though he did have some oblique issues).
<< Hopefully he’s more willing to be a team player than Aaron was. >>
What the heck are you talking about? When was Heilman not a “team player” Was there a day, ever, that he refused to take the ball? I think that is an irresponsible statement. If anything, Heilman was the CONSUMMATE team player. The Mets would have been in the playoffs in ’08 if they had more players as dedicated to the team’s success.
Just because a guy asks to pitch in a different role, doesn’t mean he’s not a team player. It means he wants to make the most of his talent before the team demolishes his arm. And those requests were always made in the offseason. I’ll agree that it was never going to work out in NY as long as the Mets thought they were smarter than everyone else in baseball by keeping him in the bullpen.
Further, the Mets DID have a backup plan for Wags, and it was Heilman. But Manuel was too busy managing for a contract to let him take it. Manuel’s constant panic moves made it impossible for ANYONE to succeed in the late innings. I’m tired of hearing the crap that the Mets’ bullpen stunk — Manuel stunk. He made Willie Randolph look like a savant. Thank goodness Omar’s made innings 8 and 9 a no-brainer for him — now he just has to figure out the 6th and 7th with his asinine matchups.
Agreed on the rotation. If the Mets don’t bring back Ollie, I’m not sure what they’re going to do. They’re letting the big bad Yankees scare them out of signing Lowe. Sheets and Burnett are too risky. Garland is only so-so, though he’d be a decent #4 — similar to Trax — and he’d fit the innings-eating role you suggest. Maine’s a big question. I still think Church is going somewhere for a starter.
True, the Phillies did not give up as much quantity as the Mets in their deal for Lidge, but of the 7 (not 8) players the Mets sent away in this deal, 4 may never see the light of day in the majors from this point forward, including Vargas. No doubt Philly still got the better deal when compared head-to-head, especially when looked upon a year later after Lidge led the Phillies to a World Series championship, but my point is Omar took a page out of the Phillies handbook by acquiring a stud-closer for a less-than-studly package. I know you have a serious man-crush thing going on for Heilman, but the dude was awful last year. The Mets are lucky ANYONE was interested in him. Throw in a ROOGY and a 4th OF, and if you get yourself a bonafide closer back in return you pulled off a helluva deal. Not to mention the Mets got some usable pieces along with Putz in the deal. It’s not as big as a heist as Philly pulled off for Lidge, but it’s still a pretty big one.
My attack on Heilman regarding his willingness to be a team player was a bit overboard, I admit. Damn, you sniff out the one questionable thing I say and spend 3 paragraphs ripping in to me! Still, I wonder outloud how much of Heilman’s regression in 2008 had to do with his attitude regarding relieving. It’s all speculation, but I’m allowed to wonder. His performance certainly leaves room for interpretation.
I’m sensitive about Heilman for the same reasons I’m sensitive about the notoriety around Pit Bulls and the “magic” of Jerry Manuel — the casual onlookers don’t see the whole story, and the media jumps on the emotions of people who have “headline attention” and perpetuates reputations that are undeserved. So I spend three paragraphs hyping up Heilman in a feeble attempt to rectify a gross injustice.
Were Heilman’s numbers bad last year? Yes, no question. Did he blow a few games? Yes, without question. But the constant booing and the venomous, evil comments made by fans on blogs, etc. (not you, others all over the place) are ridiculously unwarranted. Forget my man-crush — from an objective standpoint, Heilman isn’t nearly as bad as many fans and all of the press would like you to believe. And the notion that he’s selfish and ineffective because he’d rather be starting is remarkably off base. But it’s easy to come to that conclusion, rather than considering all the other factors — i.e., his overuse, injuries, mismanagement by knuckleheads like Randoph and Manuel, etc.
The short-sighted fans (again, not you isuzudude) are quick to criticize players when they fail, but just as quick to forget all the successes. Yes, that’s the way it is in NY but it really bugs me when a stand-up guy and team-first player gets rapped with a reputation that is completely opposite of the truth.
Steve Trachsel, who begged out of a playoff game, might be deserving of such contempt. But not Heilman. His biggest flaws are taking orders and doing his job despite being 100%.
BUT here is my salvo. I dont see Putz setting up K-Rod. Yes he IS the perfect set up man, ….but not at 9M. I see Hoffman, ayala, Cordero, Rausch, Brandon Lyon, even Street in that role but I cant see Putz at 9M. My spin is that he is spun off elsewhere for other pieces (with Church, Schneider).
I have some ideas but lets see. The big thing is the Mets gave up virtually no projected talent …i love Vargas but he is 26 now and Niese is ML ready. But we still need a 4th starter.
Here are some ideas that were rattling around my head last night:
1. Rumors are swirling about a possible Jason Marquis-to-the-Mets deal. Supposedly the Mets rejected Heilman-for-Marquis, for obvious reasons, but methinks Omar has a mild interest in Marquis as a #4/5 starter. And Joe, you’re always looking for a pitcher that can hit – Marquis should be right up your alley. The big question is what do you fell comfortable in giving up to acquire him? If the cost is Schoeneweis, I’m cool. If the price is FMart, Church, Pelfrey, or any of our younger, cheaper major league talent, I’m not cool. If it’s a package of prospects, I’d have to see what names are involved. But Marquis definitely would fulfill that #4/#5 starter role pretty well, in my eyes.
2. With news that the Cubs and Braves are out of the Peavy sweepstakes, could the time be right for Omar to make his plea? I think I’d be willing to give up a package of Church/Niese/Murphy for Peavy, though I may be in the minority. Who knows if San Diego would even bite on the offer…but if they really want to trade Peavy, and no one else is left to dance with, then maybe the Padres accept. The addition of Peavy would give the Mets the best 1-2 punch in the NL, along with the already acquired best 1-2 punch in the bullpen. Then replace Church with a free agent (Ibanez, Bradley, Abreu, etc), allow Tatis to platoon with Reed or Pagan in LF, and re-sign Pedro to be the #5. Yes, it sounds like a lot to do and it sounds like the Mets are going to be spending a ton of money on new talent, but think about how awesome the rotation would be with Johan, Peavy, Pelfrey, and Maine, with Santana and Jake both signed at least thru 2013. Who knows, maybe the Padres take Castillo off our hands as well and Omar can bring Hudson aboard. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?
I would definitely do a deal like that for Peavy, but doubt Omar will do it. Who knows, though …. it appears the Mets are maybe, seriously, gunning for the postseason for real this time.
First though, Omar has to get Alex Cora wrapped up. I imagine those negotiations are taking precedence right now 😉
And were giving up 3 players. In the players we let go, NONE were in the Mets future. I even had reservations about Joe. So my idea is that Omar plans to danle him for other players…Ed jackson and another player(or 2) from Detroit is one idea. Or going to Tampa for Sonnanstine/Niemann and Gomes.
Right now we have Dirty, Parnell, feliciano, Green, Adam Bostwick, Sho, Stokes (with Puz) and K-Rod. frankly if Sanchez stays he could be the 8th inning guy again. also I like Brandon Lyon as a set up man.
I like the Peavey approach too. I think Church-Schneider/Reed and Brad Holt/Parnall would draw interest.
But what’s obvious is the Padres want young, cheap, MLB-ready talent. Does Niese fit that? People in NY think so, but I’m not sure everyone does (many think he’s another year away).
What if the cost were FMart, Church, Niese, and Maine? Do you do it? I might, but only if Ollie were re-signed. Also I have some concern about Peavy’s ability to make 30 starts a year. He’s already had issues with both his shoulder and his elbow, and his violent arm action and so-so mechanics will exacerbate both. The Mets might be better off keeping their personnel and signing Ben Sheets to a two-year deal, with a vesting option for a third.
2. Putz: I STILL feel that he can be re-dealt for 3 pieces to fill into a package for Peavy. …..just a feelin.
1. More and more the value of a pitcher who takes the ball 30 times a year goes up. Even with his dreadful mechanics, I think Ollie will be able to do that for another 2-3 years at least. And at least half the time, he’s one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. That’s acceptable if he’s the #3 or #4. I’ll get more into this in a future post.
2. Nearly all of the guys you mention have suffered injuries, and have been the opposite of a “sure thing” when it comes to taking the ball 30 times a year. In my mind, if you’re going to add a guy who’s only going to give you 18-25 starts, make that guy Ben Sheets.
3. Stop feeling it — Omar got Putz to give the Mets the most devastating 1-2 punch at the end of a game in all of MLB. Putz is going nowhere.
4. Even if he was going to be flipped, SD would be the last place for Putz. They’re looking to REDUCE payroll and add youngsters. Putz is 32 years old and gets $5M in ’09 and is due a $1M buyout (or $8.6M in ’10). Padres are not interested in those figures.