Browsing Archive March, 2008

Gotay NOT On Waivers

Despite what’s being heard on the airwaves and various internet sources, we’re now hearing that only Steven Register, and not Ruben Gotay, has been placed on waivers.

Hat tip to Andrew at The Ropolitans, who dug out the dirt and provided the link to the scoop from the NY Post.

Of course, we’ll never know for sure whether Gotay (or Register, for that matter) was put on waivers or not. The “waiver wire” is supposed to be a private process, and the only time anyone knows about players on it “officially” is when they are claimed, and their team relinquishes all rights.

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Better Than Reed Johnson

So the Cubs quickly signed Reed Johnson, to the disappointment of many MetsToday readers who thought he would be an ideal RH-hitting outfield option. But the Cubs’ move could make someone available who is a better fit for the Mets:

Matt Murton.

Murton is only 26 years old, but already has three years of MLB experience — including 2006 campaign when he was a semi-regular. In 455 at-bats that season, he hit .297 with 13 HRs and 65 RBI. Not All-Star stats by any means, but encouraging for a 24-year-old given his first chance to start regularly. Last season, his ABs were cut in half due to the presence of Cliff Floyd.

This winter, the Cubs signed Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome to play right field, pushing Murton back to the bench — Alfonso Soriano will start in left and rookie Felix Pie in center. With the RH-hitting Reed Johnson added to the mix, Murton would appear to be the odd man out, and could be dealt.

Why would the Mets want Murton, a guy being pushed out by Reed Johnson? First of all, the Cubs needed a veteran centerfielder as insurance behind Pie — and Johnson can play CF while Murton can’t. Personally, I prefer Murton because of his youth, his ability to rake, and his very good strike zone judgment / ability to get on base.

That last point is why I’m hot on Murton and wasn’t so hot on Reed Johnson. As far as batting average and power numbers go, the two are very similar. But Johnson strikes out once every five times up and rarely walks — his OBP is tied strongly to his batting average. Murton, on the other hand, strikes out once every eight times to the plate, and takes his walks — his career OBP is .365. Murton also hits for slightly more power than Johnson, slugging .455 career to Johnson’s .410. Plus, Johnson is not getting any better, while Murton still can.

What would the Mets have to give up to get Murton? The price may not be too high. The Cubs have just lost their only lefty in the bullpen, Scott Eyre, to an injury, so they might be interested in, say, Scott Schoeneweis as a stopgap. Unlike others mentioned recently (Johnson, Juan Rivera, Marcus Thames, etc.), I think Matt Murton IS an upgrade over some of the current outfielders in the organization.

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Gotay and Register on Waivers?

Hat tips all around to those who posted and sent emails regarding the Mets’ placing Steven Register and Ruben Gotay on waivers.

We could all see Gotay going on, since his injury makes him less palatable for other teams. I believe the recent availability of Marcus Giles — who had a good spring but will not be part of the Rockies’ plans — may have had something to do with the timing.

However, there is still the chance a team could claim Gotay and put him on the DL to start the season. I wouldn’t put it past Billy Beane, for example — it would allow Oakland to more easily deal away Mark Ellis.

The Register move is a little surprising, because it appeared he was ahead of both Joe Smith — who has options — and Brian Stokes. Stokes has put up poor numbers this spring, and his stuff isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. He also sported a hefty 7.07 ERA over 59 games last year. A bit puzzling, from this point of view.

My guess is that the Mets and Rockies already have a deal in place, whereby the Mets will send a minor leaguer to Colorado in return for the right to keep Register in the organization. First, he’ll have to clear waivers — which is no guarantee with teams such as the Marlins, Rays, Royals, and others desperate for talented youngsters.

The Gotay move would suggest that Fernando Tatis has a fair chance of taking the 25th spot on the roster.

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Gomez Up, Humber Down

Carlos Gomez sprinting to first base for the Minnesota TwinsIn case you’re interested, Carlos Gomez has won the starting centerfield job for the Minnesota Twins.

Gomez hit .278 with 10 stolen bases in 16 spring training games.

Said manager Ron Gardenhire:

“Overall, it’s the excitement that he brings. I know there will be some moments where we all scratch our heads and all those things. He brings that extra little flare right now. He’s kind of the unknown. We watch him run around and he can ignite a baseball team. Right now, that’s what we are looking for — people who can ignite us and maybe get us to a level everyone says we can’t get to.”

Meanwhile, Philip Humber was one of the last cuts of camp, and will begin the season in AAA — despite a sparkling 1.29 ERA over 14 innings.

“This is the best I’ve felt in pro ball by far,” Humber said. “I feel like I’m in control of all my pitches. I feel like I’ve got life on my fastball, and I can really attack hitters with three good pitches. I’m excited. If I keep throwing the way I’m throwing, I don’t have any doubt I’ll be back here soon.”

Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra were not expected to compete for Major League jobs, and were reassigned to minor league camp earlier this month.

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Pessimism in Port St. Lucie

With the end of March — and the end of spring training — arriving soon, optimism is not running as high as it was a month ago.

In a matter of weeks, the excitement surrounding Johan Santana has been dulled by the breakdowns of key cogs Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez, Carlos Delgado, Brian Schneider, and Ramon Castro. The Mets find themselves scrambling for a catcher, a righthanded-hitting outfielder, and now, a fifth starter.

Yesterday, both El Duque or Mike Pelfrey pitched in the same game, with assumption that one or both would show he was ready to take the #5 spot in the rotation. If Hernandez looked healthy, he’d likely be the winner. If not, and Pelfrey continued his string of impressive appearances, then big Mike would be a fine backup plan. In other words, the game against the Cardinals would presumably give the Mets enough information to lean toward keeping one pitcher over the other.

Instead of providing answers, however, the game brought more questions.

El Duque, sporting a new, briefer leg kick, looked uncomfortable … and then he looked awful. He was tentative, his accuracy was off, and his velocity nonexistent. Hernandez resembled a batting practice pitcher tossing on his first day of work — and without a protective screen. He looked foolish even when he wasn’t embarrassing himself in his deliveries to the plate — at one point, he balked because he began a pickoff throw to first, only to find Carlos Delgado playing behind the runner. You can’t blame Delgado, though — it was opposing pitcher Todd Wellemeyer on base. At this point, it is crystal clear that El Duque is nowhere near ready for the regular season.

Unfortunately, Mike Pelfrey didn’t look any better — though he did have his health.

Pelfrey allowed 13 hits, one walk, and 8 runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. On the one hand, he had to throw a lot of strikes to give up that many hits. And while it’s true many of the Cardinals’ hits were ground balls that found holes, overall the Cards were simply comfortable in the batter’s box, hacking away without fear. That’s what happens when a pitcher throws one speed — the hitters relax, sit back, time the fastball, and tee off on it.

As usual, Pelfrey’s first two innings were strong — but once the batters got used to seeing his fastball, it was all over for Mike. He quickly lost his confidence, started picking at the corners, and eventually got hammered. This routine is all-too-familiar. There’s no doubt that Pelfrey has a Major League fastball, but he doesn’t have anything else. Until he develops either a change-up or a curve — or advances that rinky dink slider — success in MLB will be difficult.

On a positive note, Fernando Tatis smells a roster spot … and might just steal one. He had two doubles in three times at bat, while stationed in left field. FYI, Tatis was originally signed by Omar Minaya while Minaya was a scout with the Texas Rangers in the early 1990s.

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Forget About Botts

According to the Dallas Morning News:

“DH/1B Jason Botts may have ensured his spot on the roster by going 2-for-5 with three two-out RBIs in the Rangers’ first win in six games against Seattle or Los Angeles. Botts had a two-run double in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the seventh. With Seattle lefty Ryan Feierabend on the mound, Botts started. If he is on the team, Botts probably will get most of his starts vs. lefties.”

I didn’t think the Mets were seriously looking to make a trade for Botts, but it’s OK to dream, isn’t it?

On the other hand, if Botts makes the team, that means Nelson Cruz will not. Cruz — who began his career in the Mets organization — has been a serious slugger in the minors but has yet to reproduce that success in the bigs. He’s 27, and out of options. Personally, I think he’s worth picking up as a free agent. Would I drop, say, Brady Clark, to make room for him? Not sure … probably not.

Speaking of the Rangers, they are about to sign recently released John Patterson.

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Reyes Not That Aggressive

A quick stat pointed out by Gary Cohen during the Mets broadcast yesterday had to do with batters and 2-0 counts.

In 2007, Barry Bonds led the NL in 2-0 counts with 146. Albert Pujols was second. In sixth place, surprisingly enough, was Jose Reyes — a testament to his increased patience and improved strike zone judgment.

By the way, David Wright was seventh. The total numbers weren’t announced on air, and I’m not sure how to find them without an Elias Sports membership.

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