No Deal with Pirates

Not that there was any offer on the table, or any talks between Omar Minaya and Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield, but I’m going to make a preemptive statement regarding any trade with the Pirates: no thanks.

While last year’s deadline deal seems to have been a boon for both teams (no, we didn’t fleece the Bucs out of Ollie, as their cleanup hitter Xavier Nady is one of their few offensive forces), there appears to be no possibility of a similarly win-win trade this time around.

The Pirates have no chance of accomplishing anything this year, and are holding three middle relievers hostage (Damaso Marte, Salomon Torres, Shawn Chacon), and are dangling a few position players (Jose Castillo, Jack Wilson) on the market, it would not behoove Omar Minaya to try to obtain anyone currently in a Bucco uniform.

Why? The answer is simple: Dave Littlefield is currently playing the game of an annoying fantasy baseball owner. You know, that one guy in the league who’s always trying to pry Alex Rodriguez off your roster in return for Steve Trachsel and Julio Lugo? Yeah, that’s Littlefield this year.

Two cases in point:

1. The Pirates, woefully in need of a power hitter, and desperate to get one who is both young and relatively cheap, are offered Wily Mo Pena (ideal!). In return, Littlefield is asked to give up the 35-year-old, meltdown-waiting-to-happen Salomon Torres. A no brainer, right? After all, Torres has been in the doghouse since losing his closer job, and in addition has been a whiny be-otch about it. His current role with the Bucs is mopup man. Now, there’s no guarantee Pena will ever be the slugger everyone thinks, but he’s only 25 years old and has a 26-HR season behind him. What’s Littlefield’s response to the offer? “No thank you. Maybe if you could present a juicier package … ”

2. Littlefield offers good-field, no-hit Jack Wilson to the Blue Jays for Troy Glaus. And he was serious — he went so far as to pick up Cesar Izturis to play short with the idea such a deal would go down. There was no report on whether J.P. Ricciardi gave him an answer — if he was ever able to stop laughing. There’s a rumor that Ricciardi, in fact, laughed so hard at the proposal that he fell backward off his chair and was knocked unconscious — as a result, Littlefield thought that negotiations were still open, since J.P. never actually said “no”.

Would YOU want to deal with this joker?

Not a major loss, since the Pirates don’t really have much to offer the Mets. There was a time I thought maybe Torres would help, but certainly not at the price Littlefield has in his head. If he won’t take Wily Mo, what would he want? Milledge AND Gomez? David Wright? I’d hate to think what’s holding out for in regard to Marte, who’d be a better choice for the Mets’ bullpen.

With Ruben Gotay and Marlon Anderson playing well, and Damion Easley back, there’s no reason to gamble on Jose Castillo. Thank goodness, because it would likely cost Mike Pelfrey. Even the rumbles about the injured Zach Duke — or Ian Snell — being “available” don’t interest me anymore, knowing that the price is astronomical. Let the Pirates peddle with someone else, we’ll deal with more realistic GMs.

Teixeira to the Braves?

This one has me worried. The Braves have the pieces — in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and young arms — to nab Teixeira. Don’t believe that Atlanta is hesitant to trade away “Salty” — that’s veteran GM John Schuerholz playing his typically shrewd negotiations. With Brian McCann locked up for the next decade, the “other” young catcher is very available, in the right deal. And any deal that can land Teixeira is the right deal. Rangers GM Jon Daniel, however, is under pressure to make a very good deal — particularly with the Chris Young / Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton / Akinori Otsuka trade looking so badly. Daniel will want Saltalamacchia plus a young MLB arm (Kyle Davies? Chuck James), plus another arm on the farm (Jo-Jo Reyes? Matt Harrison?). They might also want Scott Thorman in the deal — and if they’re smart, they’ll hold out for all that. The scary think is, the Braves probably can deal all that talent away, and still be fine for this year and 2008 — especially with Teixeira in the lineup. And the Mets have no way to prevent it.

Linebrink Deal Sets the Bar

So finally there has been a significant trade: Scott Linebrink from the Padres to the Brewers in exchange for three minor league pitchers. Seems a little odd that the Pods would give up an Aaron Heilman-type setup man for anything other than offensive help. However, Linebrink has had an up-and-down year (like Heilman), and as a result his stock has dropped. Since he’s likely to test the free-agent market come November, San Diego felt it a better plan to dump him now and get some bodies in return.

The pitchers they received are actually pretty good. One of them, lefthander Joe Thatcher, will join the team immediately, as their only southpaw in the bullpen is Royce Ring. Thatcher had a 0.55 ERA in AA, then a 2.08 in 24 games in the PCL, and could be a difference-maker down the stretch. The other two pitchers obtained — Will Inman and Steve Garrison — are 20-year-olds with good upside. Inman, in fact, was the #3 prospect in Milwaukee’s organization, according to Baseball America. To put things in perspective, Inman is kind of like a righthanded, younger version of Jason Vargas — he’s a control pitcher with an aggressive demeanor and good makeup but only tops out in the low 90s. Garrison is a lefty drafted in 2005 out of The Hun School in Princeton, NJ. He’s heated up recently, and was part of Baseball America’s “hot sheet” last week:

A mid-season surge has propelled the 20-year-old Garrison toward the top of the Florida State League leaderboard. A 10th-round pick in 2005, Garrison has won his last four starts–including a seven-inning, three-hit shutout on Sunday against Daytona–and is 4-0, 1.38 with 24 strikeouts in 33 innings in July. Garrison had yielded 28 runs over 10 starts in June and July but has given up only five earned in five July starts.

Sounds to me like a pretty good deal for the Padres, particularly if Thatcher can help them this year. Now that we know an underachieving setup reliever rental can fetch three promising youngsters, it makes the trade market seem all the more difficult for Omar Minaya. You know the Nationals are looking at this deal, and licking their chops with Chad Cordero offered around. Same think with Kansas City, who have Octavio Dotel. It would appear that if the Mets were interested in obtaining either of these pitchers, or a similar late-inning hurler (Eric Gagne?), the cost would be AT LEAST Mike Pelfrey PLUS two more prospects, at minimum.

My guess is after seeing this deal go down, Omar is sniffing the waiver wire, on the lookout for this year’s Guillermo Mota. Let’s hope he can find one, as it appears we’ll need someone to take over Joe Smith’s spot.

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. isuzudude July 26, 2007 at 4:40 pm
    I agree that the Braves seem like the favorites to land Teixeria. They certainly have the peices to land him and it would make sense for the Rangers to move him to an NL team where he wouldn’t be able to hurt them (as opposed to the Angels). I could also see the Braves getting Gagne in a potential Teixeria deal too, and plugging him into their set-up or closer’s role. That is scary to think of for a Met fan, as both would be huge additions. I know Teixeria is arbitration eligible in ’08, so there’s a chance (knowing how cheap the braves are and how many other holes they’ll have to plug next year) could trade him during the offseason, but if he were to go to Atlanta suddenly the Mets 3.5 game lead looks really small.

    On the topic of Joe Smith: although before Thursday’s outing his July ERA looked pretty good, further examination shows he’s lost something in his delivery. I also agree it may be time to demote him and then call him back up in September with hopes he can pull it back together. If getting an average reliever like Linebrink costs the Brewers 3 top-teir prospects, then I don’t even want to think of what it will take to get Dotel or Gagne or someone of that level. That leaves the Mets with 3 options to address the bullpen…

    1. Scour the waiver wire for a short-term fix
    2. Find a solution in triple-A (Steve Schmoll, Ryan Cullen, Tim McNab)
    3. Plug Jorge Sosa into the bullpen when Pedro returns

    None of those options are attractive, but the alternatives are overpaying for help. I guess you really have to assess if the Mets bullpen woes are seriously hindering the team’s success, and if adding an arm (and likely overpaying for it) puts the team over the top. Not like I viewed him as the bullpen’s ace, but the team’s current situation makes you miss Ambiorix Burgos. At least a little bit.

    Finally, if the Pirates are demanding too much in return for their garbage, than f*ck ’em. Mark Loretta is a better, and probably cheaper, option at 2B for the Mets than Castillo anyway.

  2. joe July 26, 2007 at 5:02 pm
    UPDATE: Smith’s been demoted, Jon Adkins (yikes!) promoted.

  3. Micalpalyn July 26, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    still smarting. This game was a blow away. Not even a give away. broken play, fake bunt error then HR. Not cool. PLUS we AGAIN are getting homers with no one on.

  4. Micalpalyn July 26, 2007 at 7:11 pm
    joe smith. He had a good era, but again he was misused. Was Willie doing a Franco and useing him in obvious choke spots ?
    All season long Smith has failed in spots where there are inherited runners. I have increasingly noticed that Joe follows Scho especially if Scho allows a runner or two. And Willie is drawing oout that point…..Is he emphasizing that he needs a reliever?

    I saw a new story on how Millz is being taken under Ricky’s tutelage.

    now for the blog-story: Going to the well often is a good thing. Once upon a time The Mets gave up Geoff Goetz, Ed Yarnall and Preston Wilson for future HOF Mike Piazza. Goetz and Yarnall were bonafide prospects but never made the bigs. Preston was ML ready. My point is We are looking for final pieces to deliver a WS. Fla has often been a partner & Pitt has given us some good trades it is likely Omar will talk with them. I’d love Zach Duke with Damaso Marte. Maybe we take a Wilson salary dump….

    Irony: I was supposed to write something for Joe on the prospects but time is not kind. Any how I noticed Humber, {Pelfrey, Vargas and Bostwick (?)are not far apart in age…probably just over a yr seperates them. Camach is somewhat similar in age tioo. , as I remember. basically these prospects have near ML status with upside it will be interesting where they go. Adkins should see a batter or 2, but I think we get relief help. Or we get a starter and let Sosa relieve.

  5. isuzudude July 26, 2007 at 8:41 pm
    Mic: I don’t think we need a starter from elsewhere b/c we still have Pedro coming back, and he fills out the rotation along Glavine, Perez, Maine, and El Duque. Then we’ll still have Sosa, Pelfrey, Lawrence, and Vargas waiting in the wings in case there’s another injury. Remember, you only need 4 starters in the postseason, so adding a SP on top of what we already have is overkill. Say what you will about Glavine’s struggles, but he’s guarenteed to be a starter in the playoffs. The Mets already face the tough prospects of sending one of their arms to the bullpen already, let’s not force 2 to be playing outside of their position.

    However, I do agree that we need relief help. Your point is well taken that 75% of “top” prospects never pan out, so perhaps it would be wise for the Mets to part with a Mulvey or Humber to get a proven major league commodity. Start at the top and go for Brad Lidge and Eric Gagne, and work your way down the list, seeing which general managers will bite. I think most of us feel the rotation and offense is solid enough to win with in the playoffs, it’s the bullpen we need to upgrade most. And if adding that big arm to compliment Heilman, Feliciano, and Wagner gives us the edge, then let’s do it.

    This all makes you think how Duaner Sanchez’ recovery is going….

  6. Micalpalyn July 27, 2007 at 3:38 pm
    Nobody has anything nice on the boards, although Gammons has said that Pedro will be the best Aug addition any teaam can make.

    But, I am wary. Pedro was panned for turning down a BoSox extension then in 2005 when he signed for the Mets THEY were panned as EVERYONE said including Gamms that Pedro had a 70% labrum tear. Obviously that was true. As true as the fact VZ had elbow damage when HE was traded.

    I thought Pedro should have had sugery after 2005. I was in Seattle when he pitched against them and it was obvious he was hurt. Note he was in another class until post all star break when the strain took over. Regardless I want him here NEXT YR and beyond . If he can pitch THIS year great but I’d rather it be on a 70 pitch limit in a six man rotation.

    I said clearly I want Zach Duke. But it is also clear a starter is in view. MLB rumors is pointing to Jon Garland now.

    I think Adam Bostwick should get a look as a reliever ythis weekend

  7. joe July 28, 2007 at 12:04 am
    Technically, Pedro did not have a labrum tear — at least, I hope not. Labrum and rotator are very different issues. Rotator can be fixed — sort of — labrum really can’t (though there is a surgery, and people do come back, it is an injury where it is next to impossible for one to return 100%).