Holliday List Includes Mets

matt-holliday-cardsAccording to Ken Davidoff, free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday’s first two choices are the Yankees and Mets.

Like Jason Marquis, Holliday is an intelligent man.

It’s no surprise that the New York Yankees tops his list. They do, after all, have the deepest pockets in MLB — and will have over thirty million dollars coming off the books this winter when the contracts of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, and others expire. Assuming the Yankees allow all three of those individuals to walk, they’ll have a big hole in left field. Telling the world he’d like to fill that hole immediately gets the Red Sox involved in the bidding, driving up his price further.

With the Mets it’s a similar situation. Does Holliday really want to play in Flushing, or does he merely want the Mets to help increase the bidding? Sounds like a calculated move — if the Mets do in fact make a bid, the Yankees would be obliged to make a slightly higher offer, and in turn the Red Sox need to raise their offer as well.

You may recall a similar drama played out in the 2004-2005 winter with an outfielder named Carlos Beltran. Go back a few more years and there was another involving Alex Rodriguez.

In recent years, the Mets have shied away from bidding on Yankee targets. For example, the Mets completely ignored C.C. Sabathia last winter — a pitcher they desperately needed — and never considered entering the bidding for Mark Teixeira. But last year, they had hyped-up excuses not to go after either of those individuals: the general consensus was that the Mets needed to beef up the bullpen. At the time, the Mets could get away — publicly — with relying on Johan Santana followed by a band of question marks, and in picking up Carlos Delgado’s option. Short-sighted, band-aid applications that appease the public have been the Mets’ strategy for past decade.

But now, the Mets have several band-aids to apply — and one of them is in left field. The public insists that they need to add a big bat in the middle of their lineup. Further, Jeff Wilpon has publicly stated that the Mets are financially strong, and Omar Minaya will have no limits in regard to budget.

If it’s true that Holliday has the Mets on his list, then Wilpon has no choice but to enter the bidding. He has been cornered by his own words, and in turn compromised his negotiating position.

Once again, the Mets have managed to muck something up — and the free agent parade has yet to begin. Weeks before the filing period, the most difficult negotiator in sports — Scott Boras — has mountainous leverage against the Mets. Already, Boras has the upper hand. The Mets may end up with Holliday in the end, but not before overpaying — dearly — in terms of dollars and years.

You can guess how this drama will play out.

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. Brian October 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm
    Holliday wants Teixera money, and if the Mets want him that is what it will take. Problem is, HES NOT WORTH IT! Too risky a move for a player with so little time outside of Colorado.
  2. isuzudude October 19, 2009 at 11:18 am
    I’m seeing some inconsistencies here.

    First, though Sabathia and Teixeira had monster years for the Yankees in ’09 and would have been welcome additions to the Mets, both still signed for over market value and to contracts that only the Yankees could afford. CC signed a 7-yr, $161-mil deal with a $9-mil signing bonus, which is a higher annual salary than Johan Santana. It’s debatable if CC is worth that much, but how are the Mets supposed to afford both of those contracts, along with Carlos Beltran’s $100-mil+ salary, considering CC would not have likely signed for less to be a Met? Additionally, Teixeira signed an 8-yr, $180-mil deal with a $5-mil signing bonus, of which the Yankees only outbid themselves on. So I strongly disagree that the Mets used the bullpen as an excuse not to make bids on other high profile players last offseason. The real issue is that they never would have been able to afford the likes of CC or Teixeira, and never would have convinced either one to play at CitiField over Yankees Stadium for less money. However, I was very much in favor of pursuing Javier Vazquez or Nick Swisher in a trade, or going after a lower-teir free agent to provide some depth in LF or 1B. But Omar did wind up with Sheffield for nothing, while overvaluing Fernando Tatis, which is why no further reinforcements were brought in.

    Secondly, you mention that opting to bring back Delgado and not adding a true #2 starter were “short-sighted, band-aid applications that appease the public [and] have been the Mets’ strategy for past decade.” This statement, however, contradicts a previous thought in which the Mets are always overpaying and giving too many years to free agents (you listed Alou, Ollie, Krod, Beltran, Pedro, Castillo, Cora, Tatis, etc) in attempt to appease the fan base and sell tickets. So what do you really believe?Also, do you really think that signing Tim Redding, Livan Hernandez, and Freddy Garcia instead of Randy Wolf, Derek Lowe, or John Garland appeased the public?

    Lastly, the major point is that there are two philosophies to choose from regarding the Mets’ future. One: the Mets are to spend like the Yankees (but obviosuly never as much), go after big name free agents and trade away prospects for proven players in an attempt to always be competitive, but may sink instead of swimming when those big players get hurt or have off seasons. Or two: the Mets are to stock pile young players and lay off the free agent market for a few seasons, saving money until they develeop a core foundation of young players to build around, and then fill in the holes with role players and versatile veterans and gamers who will compliment the core. You can’t have it both ways, but I see advocacy for both methods in your points of view, Joe. First, I read that the Mets spend too much on free agents and give away the farm through trades and compensation, and hence need to be more frugal and build more from within. Now, I see the Mets were unwise to splurge for CC and/or Teixeira, and “Wilpon has no choice but to enter the bidding” and pony up the dough this winter for Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, or John Lackey because the Mets are in dire straights and can ill afford another season of mediocrity (or worse), “but not before overpaying.”

    I don’t fault you for being indecisive, and perhaps you don’t even know you’re conveying mixed messages. But I’m curious not know which side of the fence you’re on. Do you advocate overpaying for top talent in an effort to outbid the Yankees and Red Sox, or do you spend less money on lesser-quality talent and hope they mix well with what the Mets already have, while keeping your prospects and draft picks and saving your money for a rainy day? Do you always try to win a championship every season regardless of the cost in terms of prospects and money, or are you willing to sacrifice a few seasons in order to rebuild the farm system and influx the team with a younger, cheaper base? And you do realize, once you pick a side, there ain’t no going back.

    I realize a lot depends on whether the Wilpons are being truthful about not having any financial restraints this offseason. If that is true, and they are as desperate as we are about staving off a repeat of 2009, then I have to imagine they will make some pretty big impacts on this winter’s free agent class. But, in my opinion, that is the way a franchise appeases the fans and acts short-sighted. Because in the interim, yes you are getting a stud player and things look peachy for 2010. But if that player is signed to an 8-yr deal like Teixeira, who will be 36 by the time the contract ends, is that not being short-sighted, knowing he’ll still be making $22.5-mil when the contract wraps up? Aren’t the Mets taking the future more into account when they are letting Ike Davis/Dan Murphy develop for cheap, which is by far the much less fan friedly approach? That’s where I see your analysis go most awry.

  3. joejanish October 19, 2009 at 10:26 pm
    i-dude – You are pointing in the wrong direction. It is not me who is indecisive — it is the Mets’ ownership.

    Nothing in this post is my opinion. Think about it: did the Mets need a #2 starter THIS YEAR? Are they NOW looking for a #2 starter? Did they not need to add a big bat to the middle of the lineup, preferably at 1B or LF, last winter? They chose the short-term, high-risk, cheap (over the short term) choice of Delgado. And a year later, they still need a big bat for 1B or LF.

    My point is not that the Mets should have signed both Sabathia and Teixeira — it is that those two players would have filled gaping holes for the next 5+ years, yet they didn’t even get into the bidding. They addressed the most obvious issue that all the pundits harped on, and cheaped out the rest of the way.

    You may have forgotten that the Mets had no chips to trade — the very few they had were all packaged together for one setup man with a bad elbow. So the only way to improve the club was with the deep pockets that they keep insisting they have.

    These are the main two points of the post:

    1) Jeff Wilpon continues to insist that Omar Minaya will be given all the resources he needs –in effect, he has no budget. By saying that, Scott Boras has challenged him to put his money where his mouth is, and now Wilpon is screwed. Again, NOT MY OPINION — he’s dug his own grave with this one. If the Mets don’t bid for Holliday — the bat “everyone” says they need — then he looks like a fool.

    2) It is the METS who are sending mixed messages. One minute they say they’re “building with youth” and the next minute they’re saying “we have plenty of money to go after free agents”. There is NO INTEGRITY and NO PLAN — everything is a knee-jerk reaction to whatever is the current “hot button” in terms of public perception.

    Cases in point:

    – Tony Bernazard’s inexcusable behavior went on for two years, but was not fired until all his ugliness became public.

    – The Mets make terrible medical decisions for two years running, but don’t consider changing their “give him a cortisone shot and get him back on the field” until that prehistoric philosophy becomes public knowledge and they are exposed for acting like dinosaurs.

    – Dan Murphy, Eddie Kunz, and Nick Evans get forced up to MLB not because they’re ready, but because Baseball America comes out with a scathing article criticising the Mets’ farm system.

    – K-Rod and Putz are acquired because “everyone” is saying the bullpen needed an upgrade (when in fact there were many other glaring issues).

    The list goes on and on. They have no concrete plan — only reaction. Ergo, you receive mixed messages. But not from me — I’m just the messenger.

  4. isuzudude October 20, 2009 at 9:27 am
    Hey man, I’m with you all the way in believing the Mets are totally indecisive in which direction they want to take the franchise. But I thought that indecisiveness had become contagious when I first saw you write the Mets need to stop handing out careless, longterm contracts, and then advocate for overpaying for CC, Teixeira, Holliday, Lackey, etc. And lost in translation here is that you still haven’t pinpointed which side of the fence you’re exactly on. As I wrote before, do you always try to win a championship every season regardless of the cost in terms of prospects and money, or are you willing to sacrifice a few seasons in order to rebuild the farm system and influx the team with a younger, cheaper base? I know you’re not the GM or anything, but inquiring minds would like to know.

    I realize the Mets never put bids on CC or Teixeira, but in retrospect what would have been the point? Even without putting bids on them the Yankees still blew them out of the water. Why waste time on players you know you will never get? What the Mets should have done was go after Derek Lowe and Bobby Abreu, and in that sense they failed. But I still don’t think they stayed pat because they only wanted to fix the bullpen. I seriously think they thought Dan Murphy was the next Wade Boggs and Mike Pelfrey was the next Tim Hudson. They were wrong in both instances, and paid for it dearly this season.

    I also disagree that the Mets had no chips to trade last offseason. Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Dan Murphy, Nick Evans, Dillon Gee, and Michael Antonini were all coming off strong 2008 campaigns and, in my eyes, were very attractive to trade for and should have been made available by the Mets. And that’s not counting Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis, Brad Holt, Reese Havens, Jenrry Mejia, and others down on the farm that I would have preferred to hold on to but could have been dealt in the right trade. That seems like plety of tradable chips to me to fetch a player or two, especially considering the relative steal the Braves and Yankees got when they acquired Vazquez and Swisher, respectively.

    But I do agree with you on your two main points. If the Wilpons want to brag about having plenty of expendable cash, then they better use it this offseason or they will look like total dopes. I could care less if it takes more then it should to sign someone of the ilk of Holliday or Lackey because, in the end, it’s not my money they’re spending, and if they’re so goshdarn rich to flaunt their financial flexibility, then they deserve to get taken for every dollar they have. All I ask is that they spend it on players that will actually help the Mets win. And yes, the Mets are most guilty of sending out the mixed messages, and I know you play the role of messanger here. But hopefully, with the message this offseason being “2009 is unacceptable,” then I gather that the Wilpons are going to do everything in their power to build the Mets back into a respectable team thru the use of their assets. Because if they don’t, it won’t be Jerry and Omar taking the fall anymore.

  5. PK October 20, 2009 at 10:00 am
    I <3 Janish.

    Preach it, keed.