Archive: November 6th, 2007

Yoshii Off the Market

Masato Yoshii pitching for the New York MetsAll the rumors and speculation that Masato Yoshii would be returning to Shea to alleviate the Mets’ pitching woes can be put to rest: he’s officially announced his retirement.

In addition, Rick Peterson can sleep restfully, because Yoshii won’t even be returning to be a coach. He’s accepted the position of pitching coach for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Last season, Yoshii went a disappointing 1-9 ERA of 7.47. He pitched his final four games for the Chiba Lotte Marines after a June 29 trade from the Orix Buffaloes. A native of Osaka, the 42-year-old Yoshii retired with a career 89-82 record in Japan.

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Astros After Castillo

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Astros have Luis Castillo on their list of free-agent targets.

Strange, since they have publicly committed to moving Chris Burke back to the keystone after spending some time as an offensively challenged outfielder the past two years.

Per the Chronicle,

“The Astros have started dialogue with the agents for Castillo and center fielders Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand, but the talks are exploratory.”

This is something I don’t quite get; according to the “rules”, a team can’t negotiate salary with free agents other than their own until November 13th. Yet the Astros are speaking with Castillo’s agents, the Mets are speaking with Scott Boras on Thursday, and myriad other teams are yakking it up with agents all over the GM meetings. The technicality is that the teams can’t discuss dollars until the 13th. So presumably all these meetings are “exploratory” or “just dialogue”. We’ve heard that Omar Minaya and Boras are getting together to find out what it will take to get A-Rod in orange and blue — but per the rules they can’t discuss money. So what are they talking about, if not money? The weather? The Queens public schools? Where to pick up the #7 train? Bunch of bunk. All that November 13th date means is no one will officially sign with another team until then.

But I digress … back to the Astros and Luis Castillo.

So the Astros are interested in Castillo, and the Mets haven’t yet made any hard offers to him — though they retain exclusive rights to negotiate with him for another week. By not taking advantage of this exclusivity, what are the Mets saying? That they’re seriously considering moving Jose Reyes or David Wright to second to make room for A-Rod? That they’re comfortable going into 2008 with Ruben Gotay and Damion Easley platooning at second base? That they’re planning to make a deal for Orlando Hudson or Jeff Kent?

Though I’d prefer to see Luis Castillo retained, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to lose him to the Astros. That scenario would likely make current Astros free agent Mark Loretta available — a guy I’d seen as a nice pickup on, ironically, this day last year. Back then, my argument was that he’d make an ideal platoon partner for Jose Valentin, who was a good hitter from the left side in 2006. This year, Loretta is still a good fit — as a platoon partner with Ruben Gotay. Gotay kills righties, Loretta kills lefties — perfect combination, offensively. Defensively, of course, they might not match Castillo, but we’re working this theory on the idea that Castillo is unavailable. The next-best free agent second base options are Tadahito Iguchi, Marcus Giles, Kaz Matsui, and Miguel Cairo. Considering that Kaz will not be brought back, and Iguchi is overvalued, the Loretta-Gotay scenario suddenly looks pretty good.

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Yankees Today

Might we have to change the name of this blog to “Yankees Today” ?

It’s something of a conundrum: on the one hand, we as fans (read: fanatics) want our team to do well. And obtaining fantastic players are obviously quite helpful toward a team’s success. On the other hand, when your team acquires those players solely by throwing money at them … the charm of the team loses its luster — at least, for me it does. If I wanted to watch a team assembled of all-stars via the almighty dollar, I’d be a Yankee fan.

The Mets are on their way toward becoming the Yankees of Queens by meeting with Alex Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras this Thursday, according to Adam Rubin:

” … the Mets have an appointment with Scott Boras before the meetings conclude Thursday to discuss what it would take to make A-Rod a Met, according to a source close to the team.”

That’s not all. Supposedly, the Mets are also preparing to make a “monster offer” to Jorge Posada. If we’re to believe Ken Rosenthal, it will be in the $70M range.

Ugh. I’d like to see Posada come our way, but not on a five-year, $70M deal. Let’s hope that’s Rosenthal spouting off nonsensical conjecture and not actual fact.

As for the A-Rod “talk”, my dream is that Omar is simply helping out Boras by publicly entering the auction, thereby driving up the stakes for the teams in the West, who will do the “real” bidding. Maybe it’s some kind of favor that Boras will pay back in the future. After all, it would be very difficult for A-Rod to get his $30M per year without a New York team entering the picture.

Here’s my fantasy: Omar talks to Boras, finds out the the bidding begins at $300M. Omar says OK, we’re in. Boras flies out West and tells the Dodgers, Giants, and Angels that A-Rod can be had, but there’s already a $300M offer on the table from the Mets. While the Angels spend two weeks trying to figure out how to placate their current highest-paid ($15M) player Vlad Guerrero, the Dodgers and Giants are dumping salaries left and right and driving up the bidding to somewhere around $330M. At that point the Mets drop out and watch LA and SF duke it out, when finally the Giants offer a 12-year, $375M contract to seal the deal.

Unfortunately, this is what I see as the reality: Omar is still hung up on erasing the Steve Phillips / Jim Duquette era, and proving to everyone how much smarter he was than both of them. He looks at the current A-Rod free agency as a “second chance” for the Mets to “do right”. The last time, Steve Phillips failed to recognize A-Rod’s value and thereby failed to sell the idea of buying A-Rod to the Wilpons. Omar will not allow the Mets to fail this time. He sees the value of Rodriguez — both to the Mets’ chances of winning and to SNY — and has a very nice PowerPoint presentation to blow away the Wilpons. They buy the idea, and they buy A-Rod. If A-Rod does indeed return the expected value over the next ten years, Minaya looks like a genius and is offered part-ownership of the Mets. (OK that last part is actually Omar’s fantasy.)

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