Someone Is On Crack

crack_pipeBy now you’ve read or heard about Jon Heyman’s SI column reporting that the Mets turned down a Blue Jays trade proposal for Roy Halladay.

According to Heyman:

Toronto’s request of the Mets for star pitcher Roy Halladay was for top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez, young pitchers Bobby Parnell and Jon Niese and shortstop prospect Ruben Tejada, sources tell SI.com.

The Mets responded with a resounding no.

OK, someone here is on crack, and I want to know who. The authorities need to be informed and someone needs to go to jail, because drugs are bad, and hurt everyone.

Either it’s Heyman, for not getting the facts straight, JP Ricciardi, for making such a light proposal, or Omar Minaya, for not pulling the trigger. Because seriously, the Mets wouldn’t want to trade four youngsters with less than a half season of MLB experience combined in return for the best pitcher in MLB? They wouldn’t want to pair the best pitcher in MLB with the second-best pitcher in MLB (take your pick on who’s who), and have the most dominating 1-2 duo since Curt Schilling / Randy Johnson? (Some would argue that Halladay / Santana would be more dominating.) Really?

For the crack smokers out there who are emotionally tied to F-Mart, Niese, Parnell, and a 17-year-old you likely wouldn’t know if he was sitting on your living room couch, may I remind you of David West, Alex Ochoa, Alex Escobar, Ambiorix Concepcion, Butch Huskey, Keith Miller, Ryan Thompson, Brook Fordyce, Damon Buford, Billy Beane, Terry Blocker, Chris Donnels, DJ Dozier, Bill Latham, Wally Whitehurst, Floyd Youmans, and Herm Winningham — for example. Not to mention Mike Vail, Gregg Jefferies, Jason Phillips, Calvin Schiraldi, and others who may have had brief stints of success but never quite lived up to the hype.

Yes, every once in a while the Mets give away a gem like Scott Kazmir, Jason Bay, or Nolan Ryan, but those were deals for nobodies. Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, bar none. He’s not Victor Zambrano, Jason Middlebrook, or Jim Fregosi.

There is the argument that the Mets’ system is already void of prospects, and can’t bare to lose any more. But where was that whine the past four winters, when the Mets were gobbling up Type A free agents and in turn losing #1 draft picks? And do you really believe that Martinez, Parnell, Niese, and Tejada are going to make a significant impact on the team in 2010 and 2011 — the type of impact that will put them in the Fall Classic?

Further, if the Mets did about five minutes of negotiating, they’d likely also net Alex Rios or Vernon Wells — two outfielders with enormous contracts that a New York team like the Mets should be able to handle (Rios, with the cheaper contract, is the obvious preference). Again, start crying that the Mets can’t afford to take on any more big contracts, or that Rios and Wells stink. Now tell me who is playing left field next season? Nick Evans? Who’s playing center in 2012, when Carlos Beltran will have jettisoned for a warmer, calmer climate? Not Fernando Martinez, nor anyone else in the Mets’ farm system. The Mets have nothing in the way of outfield prospects coming up between now and 2014, so guess how the holes will be filled? Free agency. Possibly Type A — i.e., Matt Holliday, Carl Crawford, Jason Bay, Magglio Ordonez, Vladimir Guerrero, Rick Ankiel, Jermaine Dye, Manny Ramirez. Heck, Xavier Nady may qualify as Type A. And there goes another draft pick. And most likely, an expensive, too-long-term contract. So either way the farm system gets kicked in the groin, and the budget gets expanded. Further, I don’t know that any of those free agents are guaranteed to significantly outperform Rios or Wells over the next five years.

If we knew for sure that the Mets were going to throw in the towel on 2009 and 2010, and focus on building from within, then maybe you refrain from trading those four suspects. But Omar Minaya has three more years beyond this one, and his modus operandi is to pay exhorbitantly for upper tier, well-known players, for the purpose of “putting a winning product on the field” in the short-term. A Halladay trade like the one proposed is as much a no-brainer as the Santana deal was (I’m sorry, do you wish you had Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Carlos Gomez, and Deolis Guerra right now, instead?).

Of course, the rumor has already been shot down by a number of sources, so we may never find out who was smoking crack yesterday. Maybe all three were passing the pipe around together.

Conspiracy Theory: the Mets “leaked” this “trade offer” — even if it never occurred — as a means of making those four prospects appear more valuable than they really are. Think about it — it makes the Mets look good, in that a) their farm system has plenty of worthwhile trading chips, and b) it tells their fans that they’re committed to the future, and won’t give away their top prospects — not even for Roy Halladay.

***Conspiracy Update! ****
Per Heyman’s updated column from this afternoon (thanks to Walnutz for the link!):

In any case, it appears that the Mets’ prospect list isn’t as thin as some suggest, as even in that proposal they’d be keeping top young pitchers Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt and shortstop prodigy Wilmer Flores.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 July 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm
    My sentiments exactly, Joe — after a whole morning of thinking it through….there’s no possible way that Heyman’s report could’ve been truthful.

    After reading his latest afternoon-update on CNNSI.com — the worm-turns — and the Met-system “isn’t as thin as some suggest” (check the site, since I always have problems linking.)

    Maybe someone within the Met-organization leaked this ‘non-rumor’ to change perception around the league and within the media.

    Kudos, in that case. If you’re rational, then you couldn’t ever see that package netting Halladay, anyway.

  2. joejanish July 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm
    c’mon, Walnutz …. don’t you believe F-Mart is another Juan Gonzalez? and that he’ll start hitting 40+ homers a year in 2010? And Niese is only a new-curveball-grip away from Sandy Koufax. And Ruben Tejada will make everyone forget Miguel Tejada. And Parnell … well, he already throws 100 MPH … The Jays should give the Mets Halladay AND Rios AND Wells AND eat all their salaries, to boot, for that package!
  3. Walnutz15 July 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm
    I’d been going back and forth on the Blue Jay and Met board this morning — here was my stance on the Heyman Speculation.

    My personal opinion of this “proposal” is that it came straight out of Left Field; and I don’t really put much stock into it at all.

    The Blue Jays would have been receiving:

    – a young, talented kid that simply can’t stay healthy — at any point in his Minor League career (F. Martinez)

    – a lefty that projects as a #3-4 starter (Niese)

    – a kid that throws a straight 95mph fastball that gets hit around like BP (Parnell); and

    – a young SS that no one truly knows anything about yet to project anything. Certainly nothing special at this point. (Tejada)

    As a Met fan, I’d have been elated if it came to fruition….as it really resembles the Johan Santana deal on the surface.

    However, I don’t see how The Jays would’ve ever offered it…..

    Nor how the Mets could’ve spun this to the calamity-Jane’s within our fanbase in pulling the trigger; given their current rank in the standings….coupled with SO MANY off-season needs, that these prospects could contribute toward in other packages.

    Besides — there’s a whole untapped “NTC” angle of this! Halladay would have to approve of going to a club with a worse record than the Blue Jays, and very little shot of the post-season in 2009…..etc.

    Sense made? None…..

    Utilizing only what Met-fans would know of their own prospects:

    It seems more than a tad-bit fishy that the Blue Jays would be accepting/approving of a deal that doesn’t include Wilmer Flores (but instead Ruben Tejada)….or either of Jenrry Mejia or Brad Holt — both of whom have been said to be more talented than Jon Niese.

    Heyman seems to have something mixed-up here, or simply put — not much of anything in terms of a credible trade-rumor.

    Maybe Ricciardi asked to have something leaked…..hoping to get the ball rollin’. However, I refuse to believe the Mets would have balked at this package — unless they’re that worried about having little flexibility on the trade-market this winter.

    I doubt Halladay would have approved to come to the Mets anyway. However, if anyone does ever come to the conclusion that this deal WAS, in fact, on the table…….they should be having a good chuckle over the stupidity of BOTH GM’s.

    Minaya: for not pulling the trigger; and
    Ricciardi: for putting it out there, that he’d approve of that insignificant of a package.

    There’s NOT ONE irreplaceable player, that would be headed to Toronto, out of the bunch…..and from the start — we’ve heard that Ricciardi has been asking for better.

    Heyman will have some ‘splainin’ to do on WFAN today w/his boy Mike Francesa. Don’t be surprised if all of this is just talk-radio fodder, headed into a miserable Trade Deadline for the Mets. Francesa loves to Met-bash — while exploiting angry, irrational Met fans who call into his show. With the team falling rapidly toward irrelevance — and nothing big on the horizon……controversial talk like this, true or not, could only be good for his ratings.

    Even with Halladay, their season is pretty much toast……but does give a very sexy head-start to the 2010 season.

    Guaranteed, this all changes by the afternoon.

    – Nutz

  4. Mike July 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm
    I think the notion that the Mets farm is barren is slightly misleading. From what I have read this year the Mets are very thin at the top, but possess several prospects AA and below that project to Major Leaguers. There are two issues here, namely that low A ball prospects rarely pan out to the high ceiling given to them and that most teams want to trade for ML-ready (or near) prospects and not high risk high reward guys. The few near ready or the closest to near ready prospect the Mets have I doubt Omar wants to trade because he has taken a ton of flak for not having a strong farm system. I agree Omar should not trade his few pieces but realistically they will not help his job status right now. So what’s a GM to do? He obviously can’t go back in time and undo his bad drafts or FA signings contributing to his lack of depth, nor can he make Mike Carp and Jason Vargas Mets again (two guys who would have helped this year while Jeremy Reed and Putz have done almost nothing). I think Omar should clear payroll this off-season, sign anyone he can who is not a Type-A, and continue to monitor the progress of his youngsters looking to make deals that make sense for the next few years.
  5. joejanish July 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm
    Mike, some good points there.

    One thing, though … EVERYONE has prospects that project to be MLBers in A and AA. Very few, if any, players are drafted or signed to pro contracts unless someone thinks they project to play in the bigs.

    But I get what you’re saying … and as you mention, A-ballers rarely pan out.

    The Mets’ main issue — and has been for about 15 years — is that they don’t have very much at AA and above. The B-Mets have two or three guys who might be MLB regulars some day, another one or two in AAA, but they’re not likely to be in MLB until at least 2011. Even when you look at Niese, Parnell, Murphy, and Evans, there’s a question as to whether any of them really belong in MLB right now. When you look around at other teams’ AA and above, there are 5,10, a dozen, or more players at the same progress level as Murphy / Niese / Evans, but they’re still in the minors.

  6. Mike July 21, 2009 at 4:58 pm
    Joe don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to convey the idea that the Mets low A ball prospects are any different from the Red Sox or Dogers, because I believe they are the same when you really break them down. Raw, athletic and promising are words thrown around A+ and below by pretty much all talent evaluators regarding anybody worth taking a look at. I was merely saying that it is misleading to say the Mets are completely barren when in reality from A+ and below they are pretty much average.

    Your last paragraph sums up my feelings on AA and AAA. To quote Theo Epstein regarding the Red Sox when he first took over “The Red Sox don’t lack stars, what they lack is major league average players, and luckily those are the easiest guys to find.” There was more than a bit of paraphrasing there but the point remains: the same could be said about the Mets in 2009 (and 2006-2008 as well) and this has been Omar’s biggest failure. AA and AAA need to be stocked with guys not necessarily cut from the cloth of the gods per se, but guys who can come up and contribute the level of a Nick Green has for example on the Red Sox. Moreover if you look at the Phillies championship team last year guys like Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins were clearly not the reason they won the WS, but they did contribute and have a role. It all points to depth and whether it is AA, AAA, or the bench, having a solid 40-man roster with capable replacements for a few injured guys is necessary for winning a title. Nick Evans and Ramon Martinez have no business being in the starting lineup the final day of the year against the Marlins last year…

    Yes much of this argument is taken from Joel Sherman of the NY Post, he simply makes a great argument.

  7. isuzudude July 21, 2009 at 6:57 pm
    Great job Joe & ‘nutz for staying on top of this!

    People seriously need to get their eyes, or brains, checked if they thought this trade rumor was legit. Heyman is obviously being put to task by SI and WFAN to drum up a controversial topic that will get people talking. And what better team to include than the Mets, and what better pitcher to include than the best in the game, Roy Halladay? Heyman can swear to a higher power all he wants that the proposal is true, but anybody with half a brain can see what’s really going on here. Maybe someone should actually get in touch with Riccardi and ask him if that deal was really offered. If his response is as resoundingly negative as Omar’s alleged response was according to Heyman, then we’ll all know whose nose is going to be growing out of this bunch.

    However, I can’t see this as something the Mets would leak out to gain support for their farm system. Plain and simply, the Mets will get and are getting HAMMERED from all sides for not accepting this deal – and they would have had to of known that when concocting this rumor. Have they not alienated their fanbase enough this season? Now they want to convey the message that they are too stupid and stingy to give up a bargain basement package for a perennial Cy Young? I know the Mets are incompentant in some areas, but they can’t be this dumb.

  8. joejanish July 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm
    Hey I didn’t get you wrong … and I definitely gotcha now.

    The Theo Epstein comment is EXACTLY what I was thinking — thank you!

    Also interesting that you bring up the Phillies, who to me are one of those organizations with prospects that run circles around the Mets. The best young pitching the Mets have is Parnell, Niese, and Holt – none of whom are ready for prime time. Maybe you throw in Kunz or Stoner or Antonini or one of these other suspects, whatever. Now compare that sorry lot to what the Phillies have at AAA: Carpenter, Carrasco, Kendrick, and Register(!) for example — and they already have Happ, who is right now where we wish Pelfrey was, and Bastardo, who is light years ahead of Niese (but injured). Then you go down to AA Reading and they have Savery, Drabek, Zagurski, and Worley — any of those guys would be in Parnell’s or Niese’s shoes right now, if they were with the Mets. And those are just the pitchers … I start looking at the positon players the Phils have down on the farm, and I want to cry (or become a Phillie fan).

    The Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and other perennial postseason contenders have similarly stocked systems. So the Mets’ dearth of talent can’t be blamed on low draft picks, for example.

  9. Mike July 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm
    So can we blame Tony get the F out of my seat” Bernazard? I can’t fully blame Omar because that is not his job (or it is only part of it); so who do we blame? I guess the whole lot of them but even so Omar has proven to be savvy and can get the job done with the free agents and big trades, he simply need to surround himself with better staff for the minor leagues and scouting. That’s my take anyway.