Vargas for Stairs? – Mailbag
Once a month, we randomly choose two questions from Marty Noble’s Mets Mailbag on Mets.com, and provide an alternative answer.
Following are two fairly interesting inquiries from Mets fans.
Do you think it’s possible for the Mets to make a trade to bring in a left-handed-hitting slugger this season, say Jason Vargas to the Blue Jays for Matt Stairs?
Also, do you think it’s possible Ruben Gotay becomes the everyday second baseman? If this happens, the Mets get some speed and excitement in the lineup and a lot more pop from both sides of the plate and having both Jose Valentin and Damion Easley on the bench. Imagine a bench of Stairs, Ramon Castro, Endy Chavez, Easley and Valentin with Easley being the fourth infielder, Chavez the fourth outfielder, and Valentin as a utilityman.
— Ben S., Boston, Mass.
So you want the Blue Jays to deal a hitter with 11 home runs in 153 at-bats (through Sunday) to the Mets for a pitcher unable to win a place in a big-league rotation that bears scant resemblance to Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Nolan Ryan and Don Cardwell? Why not ask for Roy Halladay and throw in Cliff Floyd’s old socks as compensation? Stairs is a nice complementary player. I think the Mets would be pleased to have his left-handed power on the bench, but he is a designated hitter-type player.
In your second query, I suggest you undervalue Valentin. Gotay has proven he has value, but he is probably best suited for the role Willie Randolph had designed for him — reserve, pinch-hitter, pinch-runner.
I personally endorse using Easley in the outfield as Randolph did Sunday when, incidentally, Valentin had three hits and three RBIs. Easley has genuine extra-base prowess as Gotay has shown he has, as well.
If you read MetsToday regularly, then you know how highly we value Gotay. However, Valentin is a solid second baseman and excellent all-around team player, and deserves to start there the majority of the time — Gotay’s chance to shine has come and gone.
While Marty “personally endorses” Damion Easley in the outfield, I’d much rather see Valentin play leftfield, and Gotay play second in the same lineup, against some righties.
Easley hits one homerun every three weeks, causing everyone with half a brain to overvalue his skillset. In reality, Easley is a detriment in a starting lineup — though very valuable as a bench player and pinch hitter. We learned early that Easley is the type of guy who can win games with walkoff homers in the pinch — why mess with success?
Your proposal of Vargas to Toronto for Stairs is intriguing, and considering that they’re 10 1/2 games out of first, the Blue Jays would jump at the chance to pick up a 24-year-old, former first-round lefty who throws in the 90s in return for a one-dimensional, 39-year-old DH whose best days are behind him. The question is, do the Mets want to give up a potential future 4th or 5th starter in return for a lefthanded hitter who may only provide a half-season of performance? Probably not, as the Mets most likely would want to add a righthanded bat to their lefty-heavy lineup. Using your suggestion of Vargas as an example, I can see the Mets dealing for a righthy veteran bat such as Jeff Conine, Kevin Millar, or Eric Hinske.
While there are obviously penalties when a pitcher balks with runners on base, why is there no penalty when no one is on base? The circumstances are few and far between, but I saw Jamie Moyer stop in mid-windup with no one on and nothing happens. I suggest an automatic ball or something along those lines.
— Adam Z., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The basis for a balk call is that the pitcher does something to deceive the baserunner. It has nothing to do with the batter. If no runners are on base, there is no one to deceive and, therefore, no balk.
Close Marty, but not quite. There are some instances where a balk is called on an illegal pitch — but if there are no runners on, the umpire is supposed to call a ball. It happens only once every 30 years, but, technically, that’s the rule. In the above-mentioned scenario, for example, Moyer could be called for delaying the game, and a ball called. This is because, technically, the pitcher is supposed to pitch the ball within 12 seconds after receiving it from the catcher. However, that is NEVER called.