Out of the Box Idea: Athletics
If we believe the buzz, Omar Minaya and Billy Beane will be continuing their two-year conversation concerning Lastings Milledge and various young Athletics arms.
Supposedly, Beane is in love with Milledge and might possibly be interested in Aaron Heilman as well. In response, speculation has been that Joe Blanton, Danny Haren, or Rich Harden would be requested in exchange.
As has been mentioned previously, Omar Minaya deals are rarely leaked. In fact, is has seemed that the more “buzz” there is around a deal, the less likely it is to happen. The reality of the past two years has been trades and signings coming “out of nowhere”. Think about it, who was “buzzing” about Scott Schoeneweis or Damion Easley before they were signed last year? Did anyone last November ever mention that the Mets and Marlins would be trading AAA pitchers? Was there even a whiff of the Brian Bannister – Ambiorix Burgos exchange? Or the Heath Bell and Royce Ring exile? Even the Moises Alou signing was somewhat surprising, for its swiftness — in fact it was similar to the Billy Wagner signing the previous November. This year’s Luis Castillo deal was another one that had little foreplay. Going back to 2006, prime examples were the Jae Seo – Duaner Sanchez trade and the Xavier Nady deal. When Omar has a real deal in the works, he moves quietly and quickly.
So to try and predict the “real” Mets trades and signings takes creativity. You have to try to think like Omar — which is often “out of the box”, for better or worse.
While everyone is buzzing about Yorvit Torrealba and now Ramon Hernandez, the silence of the annual A’s rumors is deafening. But we’ve been hearing Blanton – Harden – Haren – Heilman – Milledge for so long it can’t be true. At the same time, we know Omar and Billy are talking, and eventually they’ll strike a deal.
Here’s a crazy idea: the A’s send LHP Danny Meyer and RHP Kiko Calero to the Mets in return for Ben Johnson and Jason Vargas. Everyone goes ho-hum. But at some point in 2008, all four players help their new teams.
Meyer was once a tremendous prospect — he was the key to the trade that sent Tim Hudson to the Braves. From Baseball America in 2005:
“It looks like the A’s are expecting Meyer to make their Opening Day rotation. Despite a 2.79 ERA, he didn’t exactly dominate Triple-A last season, so it’s possible that he’ll need more time at that level. With a 91-93 mph fastball, a tight slider and an improving changeup, he has a ceiling as a No. 2 starter and the realistic possibility of becoming a No. 3. No question, he’s one of the best lefty prospects in the game.”
Unfortunately for Meyer, he did not mature as quickly as the A’s would have liked, and went backward in 2005 and 2006, posting ERAs over 5 in the heavy-hitting PCL. Turns out he was plagued with shoulder issues those two years, and spent another year in AAA last year trying to re-establish himself. His shoulder apparently healthy, he made 21 starts, going 8-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 105 Ks in 110 IP.
Now let me pose a question: if Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber had produced those kinds of numbers in the PCL last year, wouldn’t you think they’d be penciled into the ’08 rotation and the Mets wouldn’t be starving for starting pitching?
Calero also had a shoulder issue — one which occurred this year, forcing the A’s to shut him down at the end of the season. His 2007 numbers are horrendous, but he was a lights-out setup man previously. Oakland is likely to non-tender him in December, but would prefer to trade him for something of value before then. If he can come back healthy, he could be a steal and step right in to the Mets’ bullpen.
Now, why would Billy Beane make this deal? First, he’s looking to dump Calero anyway. Meyer has lost the luster of his previous praise, and is considered damaged goods. He may consider it a good idea to flip the 25-year-old lefty for 24-year-old lefty — and also damaged — Jason Vargas. Vargas fits the Beane mold: an undersized, non-athletic looking, gritty competitor and overachiever. Plus, the A’s need some outfield depth, and Ben Johnson still projects as a serviceable fourth outfielder. Though Johnson doesn’t draw the massive walk totals Beane likes, he does have homerun potential, and he’s a tremendous hustler. If not for his broken ankle last spring, he very well might have had a chance to prove himself while Moises Alou was on the DL.
Mind you, I have absolutely no “sources close to the organization”, nor any “National League officials familiar with the situation”. It’s pure conjecture, and almost certainly will not happen. So I guess you can call it “buzz”, right?