Browsing Archive October, 2007

Schilling for Glavine?

As you might have already seen, Curt Schilling listed the Mets as one of the teams he’s interested in signing with for next year.

Wow … where did that come from?

Ideally, he’d like to return to the Boston Red Sox, but there’s a good chance they will not meet his expectation of a one-year, $13M contract. However, there will be someone out there willing to give him that kind of deal — after all, Roger Clemens received $25M to pitch four months. Teams don’t mind spending big bucks for proven veterans seeking short commitments.

Now, although I advocate that the Mets go after a Carlos Silva or Livan Hernandez to eat up innings, I see no reason not to consider Schilling on a one-year deal. The reason being: the Mets were prepared to spend $13M for another year of Tom Glavine. Regardless of whether Glavine had accepted or rejected the option, the Mets still needed to get a Silva/Livan guy. So why not take that $13M earmarked for Glavine, and give it to Schilling?

The pros:

  • Big-game pitcher
  • Successful in the AL East
  • Longtime veteran; provides experience and instruction for youngsters
  • At worst, a solid back-of-rotation starter

The cons:

  • Not the strikeout pitcher he once was
  • Older, more prone to breakdowns / DL stints
  • Openly opinionated (or as some people say, a big mouth)

OK, so he probably won’t pitch 200 innings in 2008 … but he might. Glavine through exactly 200 and posted a 4.45 ERA, and was counted on to be the #1 starter. Do we know for sure that Glavine will pitch another 200 frames? If he does, will it be at the expense of a 5+ ERA? Would he be counted on to be a #1 next year? All these are fair questions.

Like Glavine, Schilling would not be expected to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. He wouldn’t be expected to pitch 200 innings. Also like Glavine, he would be expected to be a role model and go-to guy for the youngsters, like an “assistant pitching coach”. Similar to Glavine, he’d be counted on to pitch in the postseason, assuming the Mets get there. Tell me: at this stage in each of their careers, who would you rather have starting a “big” game — Glavine or Schilling?

Schilling threw 150 innings last season, going 9-8 in 24 starts and posting a 3.87 ERA in the American League — facing powerful lineups like the Yankees, Tigers, Angels, and Rangers. A move to the NL would certainly help him maintain those numbers, if not improve upon them. Personally, I’ll take those numbers from a #4 or #5 starter next year, if all it’s going to cost is a one-year, $13M commitment.

Of course, there is the personality issue. As mentioned, Schilling is, well, opinionated, and not afraid to speak his mind to anyone who will listen. And he often says things that some find inappropriate, offensive, or just plain stupid. You know what? Maybe that’s exactly what the Mets need in their clubhouse — someone to speak to the press. For the last two years, the New York media has been running around in circles trying to get some kind of juicy comment from a Mets player, only to be frustrated with boring quotes from the lifeless personalities in Met uniforms. After finding out quickly that Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Tom Glavine, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and most of the rest of the Mets didn’t ever say anything headline-worthy, the media focused on making Paul LoDuca or Billy Wagner crack. By the end of 2006, LoDuca was clearly tired of being “the” guy to answer all the questions, over and over — and it only became more of an issue in 2007. LoDuca is willing to talk, but he doesn’t embrace the microphones the way some players do — such as Schilling. Let Schilling come in and be the fall guy, and be the guy to say the dumb things — he’s done it before, he can handle it, and he loves it.

Before you think that Schilling will say something that will rattle some cages, or cause ill will in the clubhouse, or somehow “poison” the team, think about this: he’s made plenty of questionable, supposedly damaging comments under a hotter spotlight in Boston, yet has won two World Series rings in the last four years. Maybe Schilling will come out and say some of the Mets are lazy, or don’t have the killer instinct. And maybe that’s what the Mets will need. Maybe part of the problem has been that no one — other than Wagner and LoDuca in a mid-season tirade — has spoken up, and made others uncomfortable. Guess what? Sometimes, discomfort is a good thing. Getting your teammates riled up, or angry, can be better than lounging around and waiting for something to happen. Ask the 1976-78 Yankees. Ask the 1971-74 Athletics. Ask the Red Sox of the last four years, who dealt with Schilling as a teammate.

I’ll pose another question: which would you rather hear after a tough loss? That the starting pitcher, who was knocked out in the first inning, “didn’t feel devastated”? Or “The feeling after I lose a game, I can’t describe how miserable, and the elation I feel after I pitch good is so much less than the bad is bad” ?

The $13M is already there, for “good guy” Glavine. Why not hand it to a similar pitcher and competitor, who can also be an effective lightning rod for the media?

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Waiver Wire Update

To make room on the roster for newcomers Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez, the Braves had to release RHP Chad Paronto and C Corky Miller. Paronto had been DFA’d earlier, and was expected to be dropped anyway. The big — and I do mean BIG — righthander was fairly effective in a middle-relief role with the Braves over the past two years, sporting a 3.57 ERA in 41 games in 2007 and a 3.18 ERA in 63 games in 2006. He’ll be 32 next season, and doesn’t quite have a “wow” effect on anyone, but he could be a decent guy to have in AAA to provide depth in the ‘pen as the season wears on. Miller is a typical catch-and-throw backstop; essentially, a younger (32) version of Mike DiFelice.

In a more under-the-radar move, the Braves claimed RHP Chris Resop off waivers from the Angels — actually, they made room for him by DFA’ing Paronto. Only two years ago, Resop was a highly touted prospect in the Marlins’ organization; he was traded to the Angels for current Marlins closer Kevin Gregg. This could turn out to be one of the better moves by the Braves in the offseason, as Resop is only 25 and touches 98 MPH. He spent most of the last two years in AAA as a setup man and occasional closer, and posted OK numbers — 82 Ks and 31 BB in 95 IP. But before you dismiss those numbers, understand he’s a converted outfielder, and has only been pitching for four years. Since the Braves, I assume, get dibs on the waiver wire before the Mets, we can’t call out Omar on this one. But I’d imagine Resop would be the type of project ideal for Rick Peterson. Oh well.

Another hard-throwing reliever who became available is the well-traveled Jay Witasick, who was cut by the Devil Rays when they claimed OF Chris Snelling off waivers. Witasick will be 35 next year, and sported a 6.61 ERA in 20 games with the Rays — though only 3.60 with the A’s in 16 games. He still throws hard, but still walks far too many batters — 27 in 31 innings last season. In my mind, he’s the righthanded Ron Villone — just when you think his career is over, someone picks him up for garbage duty. A return to the NL might help him, but he’s not worth a roster spot. I’d prefer to take my chances with Guillermo Mota.

The White Sox released RHP Ryan Bukvich, a middle reliever who resembles Chad Paronto in size but not in effectiveness. He throws in the mid-90s but has always had control problems. Last season he appeared in 45 games but walked 25 in 36 innings (he struck out 18). I’m not sure he’s even worth a AAA spot.

The Reds dropped RHP Tom Shearn, who went 3-0 as a starter for them last season — including six shutout innings against the Mets. However, he’s not all that, and not much more than filler material for the back end of a AAA roster.

Corey Koskie was officially DFA’d by the Brewers. I don’t see a fit for the injury-riddled, 34-year-old Canadian.

There were other players dropped and moved, but none seemed remotely interesting. We’ll have another update in a few days or sometime next week.

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Reaction: Renteria, Girardi, Torre

Herewith the first installment of the “do we care” category of the Hot Stove season …


Edgar Renteria Traded to the Tigers

Do We Care: yes

The Atlanta Braves made the first move of the offseason — a preemptive strike on the impending free agent market — by sending shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Tigers for two minor leaguers no one has ever heard of, RHP Jair Jurrjens and OF Gorkys Hernandez.

On the one hand, it’s great that the Braves have dumped one of their most dangerous hitters and an excellent defender in the infield. On the other hand, they have Yunel Escobar waiting in the wings and looks more than ready to take over — possibly matching Renteria’s production both in the field and at the plate. Plus, he comes at a much lower salary, which means the Braves now have some cash to throw at free agents such as Torii Hunter and Tom Glavine.

Oh, and then there’s that matter of the two “unknown” prospects — it turns out they’re pretty good. Jurrjens, a 22-year-old from Curacao with outstanding control and a 97-MPH fastball, is almost guaranteed to step right in to the back end of the Braves’ starting rotation and be the pitcher that Kyle Davies couldn’t. Hernandez may be further away from MLB duty, but he’s only 20 years old and is a Carlos Gomez type of prospect — great speed, good raw ability, some possibility of developing power as he grows older. Baseball America rated him Detroit’s #7 prospect last November, saying, “The only position player in the system with more upside is Cameron Maybin. Hernandez may follow the same path and play in low Class A as a 19-year-old. He could become a special prospect if he continues to mature.”

Ain’t it amazing how the Braves are seemingly always able to make brilliant deals, shed money, and come up with great young (and inexpensive) talent? It’s really annoying …


Joe Girardi Named Manager of Yankees

Do We Care: No

Ho-hum. Do we care? Not really. The only benefit to the Mets is that Girardi is not a manager in the NL, where he showed promise leading the Marlins. Had he not been offered the job by the Yanks, he likely would have had a shot at the managerial position of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that might have bothered me, since Girardi would have been a good fit there. However …

Joe Torre May Manage the Dodgers

Do We Care: Not really

So, “Clueless Joe” is moving westward … or at least, that’s the rumor. The rumor also surmises that Don Mattingly will follow him there as bench coach.

This is supposed to make the rest of the National League shake in their boots?

Unless the Dodgers decide to double their payroll, I’m not concerned. Without the very best talent in the universe available to him, Joe Torre’s managerial record is a sparkling 894-1003. Yes, he managed some bad Mets teams in the 1970s, but he also did nothing of consequence leading the Braves and Cardinals. OK, he did finish first with the Braves once (1982), but didn’t finish first in any of his other 15 non-Yankee years as a manager. Returning to the NL, he’ll have to actually manage again — you know, do that stuff that Willie can’t comprehend, like remove pitchers at the right time, use pinch-hitters effectively, call bunts at opportune times, and do that double-switch thing every once in a while.

If the Dodgers are dumb enough to blame their 2007 season on Grady Little, and think Joe Torre is the answer … well … good luck with that, guys. Another fourth-place finish in the ultra-competitive NL West looks to be in the future.

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A-Rodpercussions

Earlier this month, we took a premature look at how A-Rod’s departure from the Bronx could affect the Mets.

Now that it is reality, what are possible repercussions of A-Rod’s decision to opt out of his contract? Here are a few scenarios that are (NOT) likely to happen:

1. Mets sign A-Rod

The Wilpons buy into Scott Boras’ “IPN” theory that Alex Rodriguez is worth at least $500M to SNY. That said, renting A-Rod’s services for $320M over the next 10 years is well worth the investment. A-Rod is installed at third base, and David Wright immediately reports to the Gigantes to learn second base. Or, Carlos Delgado is dumped on the Orioles in return for catcher Ramon Hernandez and D-Wright moves to first. Either way, the Mets suddenly have a more potent infield than the Philadelphia Phillies — with or without Mike Lowell.

2. Red Sox sign A-Rod
They also re-sign Lowell, and announce that A-Rod is moving back to shortstop. However, they need to lose some cash — as well as Julio Lugo — and send Manny Ramirez, Lugo, and Craig Hansen to the Mets in a salary dump deal; the Mets give up Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, and Mike Carp.

3. Orioles sign A-Rod
Once again, owner Peter Angelos decides the best thing for his team is to throw more money at it. Rodriguez is his new shortstop, but he needs to move his old shortstop Miguel Tejada. Miggy, Erik Bedard, Ramon Hernandez, and Jay Gibbons are sent to the Mets in return for Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Lastings Milledge, and Carlos Delgado. Tejada immediately accepts the Mets’ request to move to second base.

4. Angels sign A-Rod

With A-Rod playing either shortstop or third base, there’s suddenly no room for hot prospect Brandon Wood, who has hit 91 HRs in the last three years in the minors. They send him and young catcher Jeff Mathis to the Mets in return for Carlos Gomez and Kevin Mulvey. Wood, a natural shortstop, is given the opportunity to win the second base job, and Mathis will back up Paul LoDuca, who is re-signed to a one-year deal.

5. Dodgers sign A-Rod

Partially to make room in the infield, partially to clear some salary, and partially to dump him before he becomes a free agent at the end of ’08, the Dodgers send Rafael Furcal to the Mets in return for two unknown A-level minor leaguers.

6. Tigers sign A-Rod
The only way Detroit can afford A-Rod is to shed the $61M still owed on the contracts of Gary Sheffield and Jeremy Bonderman. They send Sheff and Bonderman to the Mets for the future Sheff, Lastings Milledge, and the future Bonderman, Mike Pelfrey.

7. White Sox sign A-Rod

The Sox have to clear payroll to sign Rodriguez, and can shed $55M in one fell swoop by sending Javy Vazquez and Jose Contreras to the Mets for Mike Pelfrey and a few nondescript minor leaguers.

8. Cubs sign A-Rod

The Cubs cannot afford both Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is sent to the Mets in return for Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, and an assortment of unknown A-ballers. Soriano waives his no-trade when the Mets promise to move him back to second base.

9. Rangers sign A-Rod
For the second time in less than ten years, Tom Hicks loses his mind and signs A-Rod to the highest contract in MLB history. However, he now needs to do some long-term salary dumping. He “dumps” Michael Young and Kevin Millwood — along with Gerald Laird — on the Mets for Lastings Milledge, Texan Philip Humber, Ruben Gotay, and Eddie Kunz.

10. Yankees sign A-Rod
By committing $300M to Rodriguez for the next ten years, the Yankees are unable to enter the bidding for Johan Santana at the end of 2008. The Mets easily outbid other suitors and Santana is the Opening Day starter for the first game ever played at Citi Field.

11. Giants sign A-Rod
Barroid Bonds and his $20M salary are off the books, as are the contracts of Omar Vizquel, Ryan Klesko, and Pedro Feliz which means there’s money for Rodriguez. However, they also need another big bat, and send Tyler Walker, Kevin Correia, and Randy Winn to the Mets for Carlos Delgado. The Mets then flip Winn to the Orioles for Ramon Hernandez. On a side note, Shawn Green accepts arbitration and becomes one-half of the Mets’ platoon at first base with free-agent signee Mike Sweeney.

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