Archive: March 5th, 2008

Trade Partner: Texas Rangers

With Moises Alou out until May and Carlos Delgado having hip problems, the Mets are even more desperate for a 1B / OF than they were when camp opened a few weeks ago.

Add in the fact that Olmedo Saenz can’t play in games due to visa issues, Brady Clark is not exactly tearing up opposing pitching, and Michel Abreu’s bat speed can be clocked with a sun dial, and it’s clear that the answer will have to come from outside the organization.

Enter the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers are in dire need of pitching — particularly bullpen help. Their closer is a combination of Eddie Guardado and C.J. Wilson (who?), and they have Frankie Francisco, Joaquin Benoit, Josh Rupe, and John Rheinecker as the leading candidates to fill out the rest of the ‘pen.

So it’s obvious that Texas needs to go outside their organization to find more experienced and proven arms for their bullpen. What they have a surplus of happens to be righthanded-hitting outfielders and first basemen. Huh.

Their outfield is oversaturated, with the projected starters looking to be Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, and Marlon Byrd, and rookie David Murphy pressing all three for playing time. They also have Kevin Mench in camp, as well as Frank Catalonotto. First base will likely be shared between Catalanotto and Ben Broussard, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia getting some time there as well, considering that Gerald Laird remains their best defensive catcher.

Three players not yet mentioned include Jason Botts, Nelson Cruz, Chris Shelton — all are righthanded hitters, all have played both the outfield and first base, and none are in the Rangers’ plans.

Looking at the Rangers’ bullpen, it would seem that they’d be only too happy to surrender one of those three in return for a veteran reliever such as Scott Schoeneweis or Jorge Sosa — dontcha think? All the pundits have been wondering where in the world the Mets would be able to unload The Show, but apparently Arlington did not occur to anyone.

Yes, I’ve brought up these names before, and you’re likely getting tired of hearing them. But from this point of view it looks like such a great match for so many reasons, I feel it necessary to throw it out there one more time. Specifically, the Mets open up a bullpen spot for someone like Stephen Register, and get a young righthanded slugger who can slot right in for the short term. If the slugger succeeds, great, and if he fails, so what? All it cost was a previously immovable contract. Little risk, potentially medium-high reward.

Omar, you reading?

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I Can’t Let It Rest

So another politician is exploiting the Roger Clemens situation for his own good. This time it’s New York congressman Anthony Weiner (Dem) asking the FBI to end its investigation on Clemens and “focus on real threats” to our country.

I know, I know … this is a baseball blog, and space shouldn’t be wasted on political crap. But insanity such as this makes my blood boil. Weiner isn’t the only person expressing such a view — there are dozens, and all are condescending and self-righteous in their delivery. And simple logic supports what they’re saying. Yes, of course, there are more important matters for our country, so why should the feds be “wasting their time” with such a seemingly unimportant issue as some baseball player’s PED ingestion?

On the surface, it’s a fantastic question. Think about it for more than 30 seconds though, and you realize how the concept is nonsensical, shortsighted, and the product of shallow thinking.

Here is Anthony “I Could Really Use Some Positive Press and Cheap Exposure” Weiner’s direct quote:

“The FBI should focus on the real threats facing our communities, such as terrorism and violent crime,” Weiner told the New York Daily News. “Whether or not Roger Clemens may have committed perjury should not compete with real national security issues for the FBI’s time, attention and resources.”

Um … OK. Let’s think realistically about this … for example, we know that the FBI has more than just the Clemens case on its plate. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of investigations being conducted at this very moment by the feds. There are FBI agents on stakeouts for drug deals. There are G-men monitoring the browsing habits of internet porn creeps and illegal MP3 downloaders. There are feds following counterfeiters across the Canadian border. There are agents questioning the bodega owner up the street about the keno machine in his back room. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course.

Yet, to hear it from media whores such as Weinberg, the FBI should drop their investigation of every suspected illegal activity and put all of their efforts into terrorism and violent crime. Never mind the gambling, the prostitution, the drug pushers, the tax evaders, the child molesters, the car thieves, the inside traders, the fraudulent businessmen, the ballot stuffers, and the people who lie to Congress — let all those people do whatever they want, and just concentrate on terrorism. Yeah. Right. Excellent. I think it’s called “anarchy”. Let me know when that initiative commences, and I’ll buy a one-way ticket to a nice, warm, Caribbean island.

My wife, who is a publicist, puts it best: the FBI is doing a terrible job of PR. She’s right. Rather than leaving themselves open to the criticism of lemming-leaders such as Weiner, they should be making it clear that Clemens is being investigated by the “perjury department” or whatever the official term of that arm of the agency is called.

The FBI has not dropped all of its attention on “more important” matters to focus on Clemens … sorry Roger, you’re not THAT important. The perjury investigation is just one of hundreds going on, but since it is on TV, the internet, the radio, and every other media outlet, it appears to be the “only game in town”.

Let’s put it this way: if you or I lied to the federal government, our butts would be fried. The entire neighborhood could tell the agents, “hey, why don’t you do something about terrorism rather than bothering some simple blogger?”, but it would fall on deaf ears. Why should it be any different for Roger Clemens?

It is what it is.

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The Mets M*A*S*H

Those who play (or played) baseball probably have used the term “mash” for someone who is a very good hitter … as in, “that guy mashes the ball”, or, “he’s a masher”.

Well, we’re not sure if the Mets have any mashers, because so many of them are banged up (hmm … bangers and mash … and St. Paddy’s day on the way). In fact, it seems as though the Mets currently have 4077 players who are hurting.

(If you got that 4077 joke, and the “M*A*S*H” reference, then you probably also remember the days of Doug Flynn at second base. Props to Walnutz for giving me the headline idea.)

Here is the list of Mets being verbally abused by Hot Lips Houlihan in the infirmary:

– Moises Alou (strained groin)

– Carlos Delgado (hip impingement)

– Ruben Gotay (ankle sprain)

– Ryan Church (headaches / concussion)

– Marlon Anderson (bruised sternum)

– Carlos Beltran (knees)

– Luis Castillo (knee)

– Damion Easley (ankle)

– Jose Valentin (knee)

– Orlando Hernandez (bunion)

– Brian Schneider (sore legs?)

– Brant Rustich (sore shoulder)

In addition, these players are still less than 100%, at various points of returning from injury, but not technically “injured”:

– Duaner Sanchez (shoulder)

– Juan Padilla (elbow)

– Jason Vargas (elbow)

– Ben Johnson (ankle)

Also, Ambiorix Burgos is out for most if not all of the season after Tommy John surgery.

Finally, these players cannot play in games due to visa issues:

– Olmedo Saenz

– Tony Armas, Jr.

– Fernando Tatis

Huh … would have taken less space to list the healthy Mets …

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How Hurt is Carlos Delgado?

Something to consider: the Carlos Delgado mysterious hip injury could be much more serious than we know. Perhaps the Mets are offering up guys such as Joe Smith, El Duque, Ruben Gotay, AHern, etc., because they need a legit starting first baseman? They could be keeping quiet on his status to keep their bargaining power.

Not sure about a legit starter, but if the Mets need a temporary guy, Brandon Inge would be ideal, as he could play 1B, then be a “super sub”, getting regular playing time on both OF corners, both infield corners, and behind the plate (if he’s willing to go back there). In fact I could see him easily getting 400 at-bats or more in such a role.

Other than Inge, players we’ve mentioned in the past who might be able to handle 1B and be good bats off the bench include Kevin Millar, Nelson Cruz, Jason Botts, Dan Johnson, Justin Huber, and Andy Marte.

Mike Sweeney would have looked SOOO good in a Met uniform right now … he’s batting .364 en route to winning a spot on Oakland A’s roster, btw.

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Joe Smith On the Block?

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Can Joe Smith really be on the trading block, as Joel Sherman has reported?

Let’s hope not … most fans are like me, and huge fans of Mr. Smith. However, I can somewhat understand the Mets’ thinking.

First, there is a chance that Smith was a “one hit wonder” … a guy who pitched fantastically more because he was unusual than anything else … like a Shingo Takatsu. The question is was his second-half demise due more to his physical burn out or over exposure?

The Mets might think the latter (over-exposure), and if so, his stock may never be higher than right now.

Second, there is the emergence of Eddie Kunz, who is a similar pitcher in angle and role. For all we know, he may be ahead of Smith for a 2008 spot on the 25-man roster right now. If that’s the case, it makes sense to trade Smith now, while he has good value.

Third, in addition to Kunz, there is Nelson Figueroa, Stephen Register, Joselo Diaz, and others all pitching well — and Brant Rustich somewhere in the mix for ’08 or ’09. Whether they all keep up the pace is question — it’s still early in the spring — but if, for example, Register, Figgy, and Diaz are all continuing to pitch well come late March, someone must be moved.

Personally, I’d be OK with Smith leaving in a package only if it brings back a seriously strong player, a difference-maker — someone like Brandon Inge. I might toss my lunch if Smith gets sent away for scrap heap material such as Marcus Thames or Delwyn Young (both are fine players, but can be had late in the spring for next to nothing).

While I understand the need for a RH-hitting 1B/OF/C — we’ve been talking about it here since what? October? — I don’t get the need for “a middle infielder who can handle shortstop well.” Isn’t that Anderson Hernandez? It’s not like Jose Reyes will be replaced in the late innings for his defense, and I don’t see any problem with putting Ruben Gotay out there for the ten games Reyes will be rested. AHern is perfect insurance in case Reyes goes on the DL (heaven forbid!), because he can hang out in AAA and come up if necessary. The only way it makes sense to bring in someone else to back up shortstop is if the player has a big bat — and I don’t know of too many reserve shortstops with big bats (they’re usually called “starting” shortstops).

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Sosa for Thames?

You may or may not have heard on WFAN yesterday from Jon Heyman that the Mets are discussing a trade of Jorge Sosa to the Tigers for reserve outfielder Marcus Thames.

On the one hand, I’m not so hot on Sosa and think trading him is a good idea — particularly for a righthanded bat. On the other hand, I’m not sure Thames is the best guy to bring in, particularly with Angel Pagan torching the Grapefruit League.

I *think* Thames has options, and if so, then I’m sort of OK with such a deal. He does hit from the right side, he does play decent defense in the outfield, and does hit with some power. Further, he played 33 games at first base last year — and with Carlos Delgado’s hip a question mark, it would be nice to have options beyond Marlon Anderson. The only thing I don’t like about Thames’ game is his propensity to strike out — he K’d 72 times and walked only 13 times in 282 plate appearances last year, while popping 18 homers. So, he’ll hit a homerun every 15 times up, but he’ll strike out once in every four. That wouldn’t be so bad if he got on base often, but he doesn’t — it’s all or nothing.

That could be good for a part-time player — Tony Clark, for example, has made a career out of it. And the Mets could use some more power off the bench. Dramatic walkoff homers are fun to watch, that’s for sure. Maybe he would be a good fit after all … I still haven’t decided, partly because of Pagan’s performance thus far. If Angel can continue this pace, it would be terrible to see him sent to AAA.

What’s your take?

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