Archive: November 15th, 2007

Get Used to Yorvit – Done Deal

ESPN has reported that Yorvit Torrealba is about to sign with the Mets. They usually don’t post things like that on their website unless they’re true.

Score one for the buzz machine. On to the next issue … which is, pitching. If the Mets are going to give away both the 8th and 9th spots in the order to people who can’t hit, and the best offensive player in MLB is re-signing with the Yankees, they better find a way to lower the number of runs scored against them.

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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?

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More Fun with A-Rod

I’m not sure what’s more entertaining — the hourly twists and turns of the Alex Rodriguez saga or the unspoken feud between former radio playmates Michael Kay and John Sterling.

For those who missed it, yesterday afternoon’s sports talk radio in NYC was something of a showdown between “reports” of A-Rod’s meeting with the Yankees. On 660 WFAN, Yankees radio announcer John Sterling told Mike and the Mad Dog that A-Rod returning to the Bronx Bombers was “a done deal” — citing “someone very close to A-Rod”. Meantime, on 1050 ESPNRadio, Michael Kay profusely and persistently refuted any such talk, citing his own “high level source within the Yankee organization — as high as you can go without it being a Steinbrenner”. Unfortunately I can’t find the exact quote online, but Kay also added something to the effect of “anyone reporting that it’s even close to a done deal is absolutely wrong … it’s complete nonsense and not based on factual information.”

So … A-Rod’s back, then he’s not. Or he never was. Or he is.

Ugh … I have a feeling this thing will be playing out for quite a while. But at least it appears the Mets are no longer involved. For now.

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Scouting Report on Silva

Hat tip to MetsBlog for showing us the way to Mike Pagliarulo’s scouting report on Carlos Silva. As we have been discussing here for a while, Silva is, as Mike says:

“His best quality is his durability. He has the ability to go deep into a game and take the ball every fifth day.

Carlos Silva belongs in the National League.”

He goes on further to say,

“We recommend that a team invest $12M over three years for Silva. Obviously, we’re realists when it comes to the operation of the market and the certain irrational behavior of some teams, so expect Silva to get something along the lines of $32M over four years.”

Obviously there is a stark difference between a scout’s valuation and the market’s. How quickly would YOU sign Silva to a 3-year/$12M deal?

Pagliarulo also suggests that the Diamondbacks and Rockies appear to be good matches for Silva’s style. Whether either of those teams will get involved in the free agent market remains to be seen — they generally stay on the fringe and target low-level FAs. But, the D’Backs will likely be losing Livan Hernandez, and Silva would slip right in to eat up those innings left behind.

Let’s hope that AZ stays out of the bidding as expected, and that the Mets can pick up Silva — at the scout’s price.

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Two Ramons for the Price of One?

Loyal MetsToday reader suggested yesterday:

“I wonder if some of this ‘buzz’ is being leaked by the mets. It certainly wouldn’t hurt torrealba, so he’d stay quiet, and it may help lower a different teams asking price in a salary dump type move. If the orioles thought they might lose the only team that could afford to take ramon off of their hands, do you think they may just offer to give him for filler?”

That sounded plausible to me … and then this morning in The Baltimore Sun Jeff Zriebec stated

“In other trade news, the New York Mets expressed interest in Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez. However, the Orioles’ asking price – a high-end prospect – was more than what the Mets were willing to give up, according to an industry source. The Mets reportedly are close to signing free-agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba.”

Huh.

Is it possible all the “buzz” around Yorvit Torrealba is a form of posturing to get the Hernandez deal done? Could it be well-calculated manipulation of the hot stove by Omar Minaya to get the Orioles to drop their demands?

Anything’s possible in the hot stove league.

Though I don’t doubt that the Mets have spoken with Torrealba, and may have discussed terms, I now wonder if the 3-year / $15M numbers thrown out there were complete bunk. As Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog opined late last night:

“if it is three years guaranteed, i hope he would have signed it, no matter who offered it…therefore, to me, this all suggests that, since he is still unsigned, maybe, the Mets are offering him two years with an option, as incentive, which is just thinking-cap speculation on my part, by the way …”

Now THAT is logic — something the pundits have escaped lately. Seriously now, if a career backup who just hit .255 in a hitter’s park is offered three guaranteed years at $15M, he damn well better be breaking into Staples to steal a pen if he has to in order to get his name on the dotted line. Of course, Torrealba could have a much higher opinion of himself, or he could be waiting it out to see if there are any other fools making a more lucrative offer.

But back to logic again, for a moment. Ramon Castro — someone who compares very closely to Torrealba — is reportedly about to sign a 2-year contract for $4M. And the plan is that Castro and Torrealba will somehow platoon. Suggesting that Castro could see equal time with someone who will make more money in one year than he will make in two. No. Not seeing it.

What I’d like to see, rather, is the Orioles GM shaking in his boots over the possibility that the Mets — one of the few teams with genuine interest in Ramon Hernandez — are about to drop out of trade negotiations. (OK, now that’s illogical, but I can dream.) in response, perhaps the O’s stop demanding for, say, Philip Humber, and instead ask for Caleb Stewart (all speculation here, fill in your own prospects here — like Mad Libs). Or maybe — just maybe — the Orioles expand the deal to include Erik Bedard or Miguel Tejada, so long as the Mets send back Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey. Or something like that. A good old fashioned blockbuster!

Again, all conjecture, and not likely. But the idea of the tight-lipped ship keeps coming into my mind in regard to all this “buzz” about Yorvit Torrealba. Over the last two winters, the Mets rarely made a move that someone reported beforehand — Omar Minaya usually does a great job of keeping things quiet and holding his poker face. Yet now there is unprecedented “buzz” and leaks regarding a backup catcher. It could all be a smoke screen.

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