Browsing Archive March, 2008

Cubs a Trade Partner?

The Chicago Cubs are the preseason favorites to take the NL Central, but they have a number of roster spots up in the air.

First, they still haven’t acquired Brian Roberts, though a deal seems imminent — and Mark DeRosa’s status hangs in the balance. They’ve also been in the hunt for an extra outfielder — specifically, one who can play centerfield (which makes one wonder why they gave up Angel Pagan). Their biggest competition has been for the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation, which are being fought among Jason Marquis, Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, and Sean Marshall. Most recently, they found out their only lefty in the bullpen, Scott Eyre, would start the season on the DL with an elbow injury. All these question marks have led manager Lou Piniella to say

“odds increased a little bit today that something could happen [with the roster].”

Despite some bratty comments at the beginning of the spring, it appears that Marquis will win one of the rotation spots — Piniella likes his “spunk” and his skillset. Marshall is all but out of the competition and may be part of the package that eventually goes to Baltimore for Roberts. That leaves Dempster and Lieber fighting it out for the last spot in the rotation, and a team in dire need of a veteran lefty for the ‘pen.

Might the Cubs be interested in Scott Schoeneweis? How about Endy Chavez? Would you trade The Show and Chavez in return for sweet-swinging fourth outfielder Matt Murton, who presumably is available? Believe me, I’m not looking to give away Chavez, but if a righthanded hitter such as Murton was coming back, I’d at least consider it.

Thoughts?

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Players Available

As spring training winds down, more and more players will become available. A few somewhat interesting players have already hit the waiver wire, and can be had for a song.

First, Javy Lopez has retired, rather than take a demotion to AAA. He looked OK, not great, when I saw him, and one must question whether his career highs were the benefit of “something extra”. It’s sort of too bad he’s retired, as the Mets *might* have considered him as a backup catcher, first baseman, and RH hitter off the bench — particularly with the hamstring problems hampering Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro. It’s probably just as well, as Lopez wouldn’t be any better than, say, Mike Piazza, and I think we’d all rather see Piazza return for a swan song at Shea than Lopez.

Here at MetsToday we briefly considered Morgan Ensberg; however he has just been added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster so we’ll presume he’ll either break camp with the Bombers or accept a minor league assignment. That could mean OF-1B Jason Lane will soon be available — not a terrible option.

The Padres have released OF Jeff DaVanon and C / 1B / OF Robert Fick. DaVanon was a borderline slugger before PED testing began. Fick would be an absolutely PERFECT fit for the Mets if he batted righthanded instead of left. I doubt either player are of interest at this point.

The Cubs sent LHP Neal Cotts to the minors. Cotts had a marvelous 2005 (1.94 ERA in 70 games) but has been awful ever since. He’s only 28 and could still bounce back … but it likely makes more sense for the Cubbies to keep him stashed in AAA than trade him away.

The Astros reassigned both Victor Diaz and J.R. House, and neither fit into Houston’s plans. My guess is the Mets have no interest in bringing back Diaz, though I always liked his bat. House is a RH-hitting catcher / first baseman who has hit well at every level but the bigs — he hit .298 last season in AAA and .345 in 2006. The Astros do not have a lefthander in their bullpen, so could use a guy like, say, Scott Schoeneweis. How about The Show for Diaz and House?

BTW, the Toronto Blue Jays have NOT placed OF Reed Johnson on waivers (yet), according to the Globe and Mail. I’m still trying to figure out the fascination with this guy, who is a slightly younger version of Brady Clark — except that he gets injured and strikes out a lot more often. The Jays likely will cut either Johnson or Shannon Stewart, and everyone is still wondering why Stewart was signed in the first place. While I don’t condone the addition of Stewart, I have this funny feeling that the Mets will jump on him if he’s available, for no other reason than he is a “name” veteran. Time will tell.

Interestingly, the Dodgers are “scrambling for infield help“, with the injuries to Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra. The Mets may not have a spot for Ruben Gotay — sadly — so he could be a good fit for LA. Some readers here have mentioned Jason Repko as someone who might help the Mets, but he missed all of 2007 with a torn hamstring and is playing through a quad injury this spring. He’s only 27 and is a decent hitter, but like the aforementioned Reed Johnson, Repko’s skillset and value doesn’t project to be any better than Brady Clark’s. Repko still has options, which is an attractive trait — though teammate Delwyn Young does not. Young looks like he could be a fine hitter but again, is he an upgrade over Clark? IMHO, Young has more pop than Repko so he projects to be more valuable — but the fact he can’t be optioned down is a negative. Still, I could easily see a Gotay-Young deal go down (much as I’d prefer to see Ruben stay with the Mets).

Happy Easter !

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Postgame: The Boxscore Lies

Oliver Perez of the New York MetsThe boxscore lies, so don’t worry too much about the 5 runs and 4 homers that Oliver Perez gave up in 5 innings of work. The key was that Ollie’s mechanics were extremely consistent — perhaps more consistent than I’ve ever seen him (I watched the game on MLB.com). The homeruns were given up on meatballs over the center of the plate, chest-high, except for one by Ben Francisco which was an impressive golf shot.

If there was anything to be concerned about, it was Ollie’s velocity, which seemed a little less than normal on his fastball. The TV radar gun said he was topping out around 87-88; normally I’d guess it was a bit slow, but it had Cliff Lee hitting 90-91, which I believe is accurate. On the other hand, Perez was mixing speeds very well, throwing his offspeed breaking pitches anywhere from 71 MPH to 84.

Again, the key was Ollie’s consistent mechanics. My guess is that he was concentrating more on repeating his delivery and finishing with a balanced follow-through, and less on location. When counts reached 3 balls, he was going for the middle of the plate, which resulted in getting hit hard (and over the fence). Concentrating on mechanics, rather than cutting loose without thought, also would explain the slight drop in velocity. No concerns from my point of view — sometimes you have to take two steps back to take one step forward, and now is a good time to be working on issues that will make Ollie a better pitcher come April.

Meantime, if Cliff Lee was auditioning for the Mets, he did a wonderful job of impressing Omar Minaya. His straight overhand delivery propelled a good changeup and running cutter that kept the Mets off-balance, though he didn’t throw too many of his big overhand curves. Based on how he looked on Saturday, he’d be a fabulous fifth starter for the Mets — whether the Indians are interested in trading him, however, is another story.

Notes

Ruben Gotay had one at-bat, from the right side, and struck out. Damion Easley played shortstop for some of the game, slid over to third for a few innings, and went 2-for-3. Fernando Tatis played 3B for part of the game, then was moved into left field. He may have a legitimate shot of making the 25-man roster, as his bat speed looks decent and he can play just about anywhere on the field. Brian Schneider caught half the game and made a great throw to nail Jamey Carroll attempting to steal.

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What’s the Deal with Indians?

A few days ago we wondered what Omar Minaya and Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro might have been talking about in their face-to-face meeting.

Would Shapiro trade Cliff Lee? Jason Michaels? Jeremy Sowers?

At least one Indians blogger suggests that Andy Marte was probably not part of the discussions. According to Ryan Richards of Lets Go Tribe:

“I doubt Marte would be the main topic of conversation, especially given who the Mets have at third. Andy hasn’t looked good at all on defense, but I feel that he’s making the team regardless. There’s no point in trading him now.

It would make more sense that they’d be discussing either David Dellucci or Jason Michaels. Ben Francisco has made a good impression, so Dellucci might be on the trade block. Cliff Lee? I’d be in favor of it, but I doubt Shapiro does it unless the offer is compelling.”

Incidentally, Lee is pitching this afternoon against the Mets. No TV coverage, but it’s on WFAN. I’ll be listening on XM 179, as the Cleveland announcers should have a better scoop on what’s going on with the Indians.

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Opening Day Starters

We’re not going to concern ourselves with the Mets’ Opening Day starter, who we presume will be Johan Santana. Rather, let’s take a look at the two teams in the Baltimore / DC area.

There is a very good chance that the Orioles’ Opening Day starter will be Steve Trachsel. Ouch. According to the Baltimore Sun:

“Trembley will wait until tomorrow to name his Opening Day starter. He needed to consult today with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Adam Dunn, who stayed back to watch Steve Trachsel throw a simulated game.

The decision comes down to Trachsel and Jeremy Guthrie … ”

BTW, Trachsel, who signed a minor league contract last month, has surrendered 10 earned runs and 19 hits in 13 innings. Did I mention the “ouch” ?

But it gets better, because just a few miles away, the Nats may be opening with Odalis Perez.

Makes one feel good to be a Mets fan right about now.

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Cancel Robinson

Robinson CancelAccording to NJ.com, another Mets catcher is down for the count.

This time it’s Robinson Cancel, who has a small tear in his knee that will require surgery.

Not that Cancel was going to make the team, but, he actually had an outside shot if both Ramon Castro and Brian Schneider begin the season on the DL — which is a slight possibility.

Too bad for Robbie, who was having a decent spring training. Good for Gustavo Molina, who is 4-for-12 this spring, and Raul Casanova, who is hitting .308 this spring.

Hat tip to The ‘Ropolitans, who sourced me with the info on Cancel’s knee.

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I Don’t Get It

Jose Reyes on cover of 2k8 sports MLB baseball video gameIf you have been watching the SNY broadcasts of the Mets spring training games, you likely have seen the TV commercial for 2K Sports MLB video game, featuring Jose Reyes (who happens to be on the cover of the game package).

If you haven’t seen it, it begins with what looks to be a clubhouse guy polishing a bat and counting … presumably, counting the number of wipes he does with the rag on the bat. Jose comes into the scene with a boom box playing loud music. The clubhouse guy whacks the boombox with the bat, then goes back to his wiping and counting. Reyes looks at him and starts laughing.

OK, so, there’s *some* humor in the guy stopping what he’s doing, whacking the boombox, and going right back to what he was doing as if nothing ever happened. That’s about it. The rest of the commercial makes no sense, and really isn’t that funny.

Or have I lost my sense of humor?

The regular season cannot come soon enough …

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Fallen Angel

Angel Pagan of the New York MetsOnly a week ago, many of us were excited by the hot hitting of Angel Pagan. He was scorching the ball, hitting close enough to .500 to remind us of spring training stars such as Butch Huskey and Darren Reed.

However, it appears now that Angel has fallen to Earth.

Pagan is now down to .333, more than 100 points less than this time last week. We can say that it’s merely a minor slump, a few bad bounces, a bit of poor luck — after all, he has only 60 at-bats, so of course his average will drop drastically after going, say, 2 for his last 17.

In reality, it’s more like this: Angel Pagan is regressing to the mean, to his true capability.

For the first part of March, Pagan was “in the zone”, and it was fun to watch. But it wasn’t something that was going to continue forever. I still hope he will make the team, though I have a feeling Brady Clark will get that last roster spot. But it’s now clear why the Mets were looking for an outfielder, even though they seemingly already had one ripping the cover off the ball.

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