Archive: April 29th, 2008

Go Get Botts

Jason Botts of the Texas RangersAs was pointed out by loyal MetsToday readers Micalpalyn and DaveVW, Jason Botts has been DFA’d by the Texas Rangers.

The switch-hitting slugger has been a low-risk, high-reward, under-the-radar target here at MetsToday since about 1949. OK, maybe not that long, but it sure feels that way. Now it appears he’s there for the taking, available for a scrub A-ball non-prospect.

For those who haven’t been following, Jason Botts is the poor man’s version of Adam Dunn. He’s 27 years old, stands 6’5″, weighs 250 lbs., can play both first base and left field adequately. He hasn’t yet made his mark in the big leagues, but has a career OBP of .390 in the minors and began to mature as a power hitter in the last three years. He strikes out a lot, but puts the ball over the fence fairly frequently and will also take a walk. There’s no guarantee he’ll be a success in MLB but he has proven all he can prove at AAA and will now come cheaply.

He’s out of options, and the Rangers kept him on their 25-man roster to start the season after batting .313 in spring training and beating out fellow out-of-options slugger Nelson Cruz for the last spot on the team. However, after the first month of the season, Botts is batting only .158 with 18 strikeouts and two homeruns in 38 at-bats.

With Moises Alou supposedly returning by the weekend, perhaps now is not the time for the Mets to chase after an enigma such as Botts. After all, to make room for Alou, the Mets will have to demote someone — most likely catcher Gustavo Molina. The next most likely to be demoted position player is Angel Pagan, and as much as I salivate over the possibility of putting the orange and blue onto a horse like Botts, I’m not convinced he’d be more valuable than Pagan at this point in time. Though, Pagan has cooled off, and he is essentially redundant when you consider that Endy Chavez is on the roster. Further, Pagan has options. If by chance the Mets can grab Botts for next to nothing, it might be worth the gamble, as there are ZERO MLB-ready homerun hitters in the Mets’ farm system.

Most likely, Botts would be a bust — though an inexpensive one. But, there’s that tiny chance of catching lightning in a bottle — as the Tampa Bay Rays did with Carlos Pena last year, the Padres did with Adrian Gonzalez, and the Indians did with Travis Hafner prior to the 2003 season. And guess what? All three of Pena, Gonzalez, and Hafner were originally Rangers’ property. Huh.

To refresh everyone’s memory, here are previous mentions of Botts on this site:

Forget About Botts

Latest On Botts

Three Guys to Get Right Now

Roster Room

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Mets Game 24: Win Over Pirates

Mets 4 Pirates 4

It took eleven innings on a chilly night in Flushing, but the Mets eventually wore out the Pirates thanks to some good old fashioned small ball.

Endy Chavez — who had three hits on the night — ripped a leadoff single in the bottom of the 11th, advanced to second on a balk, moved to third on a bunt by Marlon Anderson, and scored on a booming fly ball to the deep rightfield corner that went unplayed by Xavier Nady (who was appropriately playing shallow to guard against the bloop or line drive single).

Johan Santana — who hasn’t had his best stuff yet this year — didn’t have his best stuff but battled through six innings and 114 pitches to keep the Mets in the game. When he left, he had a 4-2 lead, but the Pirates tied it against the Mets’ back end of the bullpen, scoring a run each against Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner.

Notes

Wow! Willie pulled off a double switch! In the 11th inning, Randolph expertly inserted Jorge Sosa on the mound and Marlon Anderson at first base. The move was made after Carlos Delgado made the last out of the 10th, so Sosa would not bat for a really long time. Well done, Willie! Randolph also attempted a squeeze with Luis Castillo earlier in the game, proving that he is aware of his team’s presence in the National League. Next lesson: wheel play.

Remarkably, Aaron Heilman appeared in the game and did not give up a run. However, it took a heroic tag at home plate after a wild pitch by Scott Schoeneweis to make that reality.

Jose Reyes may have finally busted out of his slump. Reyes reached base six times, going 3-for-3 with three walks, a run, and an RBI, and was letting the ball get deep — key to his success. (That means he’s waiting longer on pitches before committing to swinging.) He has such quick hands, all he needs to do is trust them — something he tends to get away from. This isn’t rare — it’s something nearly all hitters have an issue with at one point or another.

Billy Wagner finally allowed a run, but it was unearned because leadoff batter Ryan Doumit reached base on Reyes’ fifth error of the season. Is that kid on drugs?

This win marked the Mets’ third in a row, their third walkoff victory, and put them three games over .500.

Hey, welcome back Straw Man! Darryl Strawberry appeared on SNY’s Nissan Post Game Live to discuss the contest with Matt Yallof. Straw looked good, and sounded good, and had good things to say. After his rollercoaster life — the result of more bad decisions than good — it’s great to see him come full circle and be (sort of) back with Mets.


Next Game

The Pirates return to Shea for a day game, it will be a 1:10 PM start. Oliver Perez will face his old team and Tom Gorzelanny. Weather reports say it will be sunny and in the mid-50s.

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Figgy Loses a Turn

figgy.jpgAs a result of yesterday’s rainout, Nelson Figueroa will get skipped when his turn comes around the next time in the rotation — which would be Sunday at Arizona.

Instead of Figgy, Johan Santana will go to the hill.

On the surface, this appears to be a good idea. After all, Santana has a few more Cy Young Awards than Figueroa (though, Johan’s never pitched in Taiwan).

However, the part I don’t get is why are the Mets passing over Figgy’s turn instead of Mike Pelfrey’s? Pelfrey is scheduled to pitch the day before, on Saturday. Looking at the stats, the two pitchers aren’t very different thus far this year — they’re both 2-1, their ERAs are similar, and they both average a little over five innings per start. The only contrast is in strikeouts per nine innings (Figgy is nearly 3 Ks better) and WHIP (Figgy: 1.34; Pelf: 1.75). But through only around 25 innings, it’s too small a sample to compare them strictly on the stats.

Outside of the stat lines, it “feels” like Figgy has had better starts so far. In all but one of his starts, Figueroa has been good to great. Pelfrey, on the other hand, has been good, great, terrible, so-so — in that order. On the plus side, Pelf has induced 43 ground balls in 22 innings, while Figgy has only 28 GBs in 25 IP. Pelfrey’s problem, however, is that many of those grounders have found holes.

I’m not suggesting that Figgy should be getting his turn on Saturday instead of Pelfrey, but curious to the thought that went behind the decision. My best guess — and it makes sense — is that Figueroa is more experienced and effective coming out of the bullpen than Pelfrey, and if long relief is needed this week, Willie Randolph may be more comfortable knowing Nellie Figs is available. The only other thing is the ground ball factor; Chase Field in Arizona is not a bandbox, but it was 11th in MLB last year in home run rate (right behind Miller Park in Milwaukee). In addition, the D’Backs offense is on a rampage right now, first in all of MLB in runs scored and third in the NL in homeruns. Perhaps the surprising bats of free-swinging Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Young factored into the decision to start the sinkerballing Pelfrey.

Whatever the case, I’m not happy about the West Coast swing coming up so soon. Those games ending after midnight EST make for cranky mornings.

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The Deal That Wasn’t

Barry Zito T-shirtYou may have heard by now that Barry Zito has been demoted to the bullpen, after an atrocious start to the season for the San Francisco Giants (0-6, 7.53 ERA).

As Mets fans, why should we care?

Because for every time we weep when the names Scott Kazimir, Brian Bannister, and Nolan Ryan are mentioned (among others) — players that were sent away only to become stars — we should also be thankful that certain deals didn’t happen.

For those with a short-term memory, Barry Zito was — in the minds of the fans and pundits — the number one target of the New York Mets during the 2006-2007 offseason. And for about a year before Zito was on the free market, it seemed as though the Mets were perpetually on the “verge” of acquiring Zito from the A’s in return for Lastings Milledge.

The Mets did, in fact, offer Zito a contract during the winter of 2006 — one for five years and $73M. Scott Boras laughed at the offer, claiming he had a $110M offer from the Giants (we didn’t believe him). Imagine now if the Mets caved in to Boras’ demands, and handed Zito a nine-digit contract? Most likely, there would be no Johan here, and the organization might be in dire straits.

As my friend Hot Toddy quipped, Barry Zito’s current contract commitment makes Carlos Delgado look like a bargain. Hat tip also to Toddy for finding these great T-shirts.

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