Browsing Archive October, 2008

Hot Stove – First Moves

Wow … didn’t take long for the hot stove to heat up. Let’s quickly rake over the first coals.

Mets Pick Up Option on Carlos Delgado

No surprise here — after his second half, Delgado is a bargain at (gulp) $12M. There’s been speculation that he’d be traded, but I’m not seeing it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mets flipped him, and I think it would be the right move, but it’s rare for this organization to sell high. It will be easier to leave him set at first base and spend the winter looking to fix other areas.

Mets Re-Sign Fernando Tatis

Tatis signed with the Mets for a paltry one-year, $1.7M contract. Great move to lock up a fine RH bat with plenty of versatility. While I doubt he’ll ever again hit like he did last July, he nonetheless proved he still has gas in the tank and fire in his belly. He’ll be a top man off the bench — taking the at-bats Damion Easley is likely to leave behind — and provide insurance in the OF corners in the event the Mets don’t find a legitimate slugger this offseason.

Damion Easley Files for Free Agency
Unfortunately, I think there is little chance of my favorite Met returning, particularly with the quick signing of Tatis. Why? Partially due to his age, and partially because I think the Mets are going to bring in a second sacker, one way or the other. That said, his main tool is as a RH bat off the bench, and that will be Tatis’ job. There are enough teams looking for a veteran second baseman this winter for him to find a job, though, so he should land on his feet. He may find himself in Chicago, with the White Sox, the Dodgers, or the Nationals (all of this is pure speculation — I have no inside track).

Oliver Perez Files for Free Agency

No surprise here. Ollie’s going to the highest bidder. If the Mets don’t sign him early, I don’t think they’ll sign him at all. Considering Scott Boras is his agent, an early signing seems unlikely. Bye bye Ollie, it was fun (regards to Mr. Hyde).

Matt Wise Files for Free Agency

Who woke him up and pulled him out of his cave? Wise never stayed healthy for a long enough time to determine his value. Too bad. Watch him move on to the Angels or Diamondbacks and become a decent 7th-inning guy.

Royals Trade Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs
The semi-annual fire sale is on in Miami! An interesting deal from KC’s point of view, as they flip a middle reliever for a starting first baseman — this deal would suggest that they’ve officially given up on Ryan Shealy. Nunez is only 25, and could step into a setup role for the Fish. Otherwise, it looks like the Royals are selling high, and the Marlins are selling out (yet again).

Chad Cordero is a Free Agent

The Nats cut ties with the reliever, and I can’t believe 24 hours passed without the Mets scheduling a press conference to put a flat-brimmed Mets cap on his head. Is there any other organization where he’ll be as welcome? My bet is on Omar Minaya plunging into the Cordero rehab project, and I like the idea. My guess is he won’t be helpful in 2009, and he may never regain the velocity needed to be a closer, but he has the mentality needed for a reliever and he has age on his side. He may be a valuable middle reliever for the second half.

Ken Macha Hired to be Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers

Ho-hum. The Brew Crew managed to find someone just as boring as Ned Yost. Should be a mildly entertaining puppet show.

65 Players Filed for Free Agency

See the “official” list here. We’ll discuss them here all winter.


Loewen Pulling an Ankiel


No, Adam Loewen is not intentionally straining the ligaments in his ankle. Rather, he is following in the footsteps of Rick Ankiel, and reinventing his pro career as a hitter.

The 6’6″, lefthanded Loewen was a fine hitter in college with a rocket launcher for an arm, but after being drafted by the Orioles, was told to focus on pitching. Why? Well, because Loewen was a 6’6″ lefthander with a rocket launcher for an arm.

He’s still lefthanded, and still 6’6″, but no longer has a rocket launcher attached to the left side of his body. His career path from the mound has been decimated by injuries and inconsistency. He suffered a second stress fracture to his elbow this past season, an injury that would have set him back a minimum of a year. Instead of taking the grueling road back, and in the process seeing his value as a pitcher continue to dwindle, the young Canadian decided to change his job description.

“He has every bit as good a chance of doing what Rick Ankiel did. I wouldn’t bet against him,” said one American League scout who watched both when they were in high school.

“He was very similar to Rick Ankiel in high school, both as a pitcher and as a hitter. Ankiel might have been more advanced pitchability-wise, but Loewen’s weapons were every bit as good. You could probably dream a little more on him.

“As a hitter, Loewen had more raw power, and they were very close in putting the ball in play. They were in the same conversation, the same kind of animal, really.”

At 24 years of age, there’s still time for Loewen to make the transition, though he’ll have to progress quickly. His arm issues all but ended the chance to fulfill the bright promise as a pitcher the Orioles saw when they made him the 4th pick overall in the 2002 draft. In 35 MLB games over parts of three seasons, Loewen posted an 8-8 record with a 5.38 ERA. Even if he were able to come back from the most recent elbow injury, he likely wouldn’t have the velocity that dominated minor league hitters six years ago. So it’s not much of a gamble on his part — more a last-ditch effort to salvage his career as a baseball player.

The gamble, rather, is on the Blue Jays, who swooped in quickly to nab Loewen after the Baltimore birds dropped him from their 40-man nest. And for the Jays, it’s worth the chance. After all, it’s a great story — Canadian boy returns to his home country to chase his dream, against insurmountable odds. Not to mention that he might just be able to pull it off.

“If Adam Loewen was in the amateur draft this year, at 24, would he go in the top five rounds as a hitter? I’d say yes,” said the AL scout. “It’s worth the chance, for sure. I think he could do it.”

Of course, Adam Loewen’s comeback has nothing at all to do with the New York Mets, but it’s the first intriguing story of the Hot Stove Season, and worth watching.


Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that every media outlet will be spouting about some philthy team down I-95 today. The good news is that the Hot Stove Season has officially begun!

That means we’ll begin discussing:

1. Free agents to bring back, or unleash

2. Free agents to pursue

3. Trades to conjure and debate

4. Rumors to discuss, and dispel

5. Scrap-heap pickups to analyze

6. Prospects to postulate for positions

7. My Bullpen Blueprint, if it’s ever finished

8. and so much more ……

First on the slate, this week’s scrap heap, which includes:

Jose Castillo (FA)
Dave Borkowski (FA)
Chip Ambres (FA)
Jolbert Cabrera (FA)
Tyler Walker (FA)
Francisco Rosario (FA)
Kip Wells (FA)
Kevin Mench (DFA)

And for those who missed it, LHP Adam Loewen was released by the Orioles, only to be picked up by the Blue Jays as an outfielder / first baseman!


Weathering the Storm

Supposedly there is still baseball being played this month — in Philadelphia no less! Can anyone confirm the rumor? Hard to believe anyone in the Northeast would be attempting to play ball in this cold, wet, windy weather.

david_weathers_met.jpgAnyway … with the typhoon-like conditions and snowfall sweeping through our area, I can’t help but pay attention to the weather. And then think about the weather. And somehow the name David Weathers comes into my mind.

Actually, that’s not entirely true … loyal MetsToday reader and commenter “sincekindergarten” tickled my intellect with this quip:

I saw on MLB Trade Rumors that David Weathers might be available. Yeah, he’s 39, but he might be able to give some counsel to some of the other members of the pen, a la Roberto Hernandez to Aaron Heilman in ’06. A year at, say, $3 mil, with a $3.5 mil option . . . ? Is my brain suffering from some sort of pre-freeze by thinking about getting Weathers again?

Tell you what, either I’m also suffering from pre-freeze, or I agree that Weathers would be a welcome addition to the bullpen. Before the naysayers start screaming “no! he’s old and fat and ugly and he stinks!”, please read on for some reasons this could make sense.

First, we’re not suggesting that Weathers is the end-all, be-all, fixitup solution for the bullpen. It’s a START toward improving the ‘pen. By no means should we believe that bringing in Weathers will be a lights-out setup guy, nor that he is the answer to fill the vacant closer role.

But, now that we’ve mentioned it, there’s one reason to bring him in. Weathers does have closing experience, and was pretty decent in that role. Not great, but decent. Again, not suggesting he should be brought in to close, only suggesting that it can help to have him around as a backup plan. As recently as 2007, he saved 33 games and blew 6.

Further, I like where “sk” is going with the counseling aspect. For the past few years, Billy Wagner was the de facto leader of the bullpen. He won’t be around, and despite what fans may think of his public persona, bottom line is that other relievers went to him for advice and looked to him for leadership. That leadership needs to be replaced, and the tough, cool, no-nonsense, and well-experienced Weathers would be an ideal replacement. In his last tour of duty with the Mets, Weathers had a positive effect in the development of Dan Wheeler. He could be a calming influence and mental guide for youngsters such as Eddie Kunz. His knowledge and preparation would be an asset particularly if the Mets decide to find a closer from within.

In addition, there’s the fact that Weathers can still pitch. As mentioned, he saved 33 games in 2007, and last year he posted a 3.25 ERA, with 19 holds, in 72 games. He has a rubber arm, he and experience pitching in every situation — mopup, setup, closing, you name it. We know he’s not going to panic, and we know he can handle New York. We also know he has some chutzpah, something this club can use a bit more of. He won’t blow anyone away, and he’ll give up hits, but he will throw plenty of strikes — and isn’t that something that was a big issue from Mets relievers last year?

Finally, Weathers should come cheaply. Last year he made $2.75M, and I doubt he’d require a huge raise over that. Perhaps he’ll hold out for a two-year deal, but who will offer that to a 39-year-old righty?

If the Mets can bring him in on a cheap, one-year contract, I say do it — but don’t stop there, make it a first step.

Count me in as a “Weathers man”.


Hot Stove Preseason Predictions

The World Series is not yet over, but already there are a slew of mixed messages coming from the media in regard to the Mets.

For example, the Mets ARE after Manny, but the Mets are NOT after Manny.The Mets ARE after K-Rod, yet the Mets are NOT after K-Rod. Derek Lowe doesn’t want to play on the East Coast, Derek Lowe’s preference is to sign with Boston. Jake Peavy hates New York, Jake Peavy would agree to go to New York. The Mets will sign a closer, the Mets will trade for a closer, the Mets will fill the closer role from within. Luis Castillo will be traded, Luis Castillo is untradeable.

Welcome to the Hot Stove Preseason!

Here are my vague predictions:

1. The Mets will not get K-Rod, C.C. Sabathia, nor Ben Sheets, but will nonetheless overpay to bring in pitching.

2. The Mets will not have the goods to trade for Matt Holliday, Jake Peavy, Garrett Atkins, nor any other big-name star on the market.

3. The Mets will wind up unloading Luis Castillo for garbage, and eating most of his salary.

4. The Mets will either trade Aaron Heilman for garbage, or announce that he will compete for the closer role.

5. The Mets will fail to protect an MLB-ready position player, and lose him in the Rule 5 draft.

6. If they don’t trade Castillo and sign Orlando Hudson, the Mets will sign Ray Durham to compete with Castillo at 2B.

7. At least one former Expo will be signed as a free agent.

8. The Mets will make a trade with the Dodgers.

9. Brian Fuentes, K-Rod, and Oliver Perez will sign very late — within a few weeks of spring training.

10. If Ollie doesn’t sign with the Mets, he will sign with either the Yankees, Rangers, or a California team.

Please note, I take no responsibility whatsoever if any of these predictions ring true — or false. Most of them are based on pure guesswork. At least one or two have some “inside” substance behind them, but I refuse to say which ones.

More rumors coming soon !


Roster Remake of 2001-2002

This offseason is eerily similar to the one between 2001 and 2002 — when the Mets also were intent on “remaking” the roster, and “addition by subtraction”.

The Mets went to the postseason — the World Series, in fact — in 2000, then took a step back in 2001. There were big contracts to dump, aging veterans to clear out, a bullpen to restructure, and room to be made for up-and-coming prospects. (Any of this sound familiar?)

For example, they were looking toward youngsters Grant Roberts, Jerrod Riggan, Bruce Chen, and possibly Billy Traber making contributions to the pitching staff. Roberts and Chen had shown some promise in short stints in 2001, and Riggan had established himself as a strong righty out of the bullpen. Though their farm system had been criticized, they did have a potential star in Alex Escobar, a can’t-miss lefty in Traber, and some good-looking talent at the lower levels, such as Juan Lebron, Jason Phillips, Mike Kinkade, Ty Wigginton, Dicky Gonzalez, Jason Roach, Earl Snyder, Robert Stratton, Pat Strange, Heath Bell, Jeremy Griffiths, Jae Seo, and Prentice Redman.

However, they were smarting from a third-place finish, and fans were eager to see underperforming stars such as Todd Zeile, Kevin Appier, and Al Leiter get the heave-ho. The bullpen would need an overhaul, with the absence of John Franco (elbow), the exits of Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook, and the subpar work of Rick White and Donne Wall, among others. Riggan, in fact, was seen at the time as the best returning middle reliever — a possible setup man to Armando Benitez. The thought was that if they could make a few moves to expel the excess baggage, and find solid players to surround Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, Rey Ordonez, and Benitez, they could get back to the postseason. Don’t laugh — Benitez was coming off a 43-save season, and Ordonez, in addition to being the best defensive shortstop in the NL, was starting to look better with the bat, with career highs in doubles, triples, and homeruns. If they could add a few sluggers and shore up the bullpen issues, they’d be on their way.

Toward that end, following are the trades GM Steve Phillips made.

Robin Ventura to the Yankees for David Justice
David Justice to the As for Mark Guthrie and Tyler Yates

Ventura had underperformed and was having back issues, so they sent him (selling low) to the Yankees for David Justice, who also was coming off a terrible year. It seemed like a decent gamble, since the Mets had no power hitting outfielders — until they flipped Justice to Oakland for 36-year-old LOOGY Mark Guthrie and hard-throwing Hawaiian Tyler Yates. The Justice part of the deal turned out OK, in hindsight — Guthrie had a career year and Yates looked promising, while Justice had a so-so final season (.266, 11 HR) — but neither player had much of an impact on the 2002 season. Ventura, meanwhile, hit 27 HR and 93 RBI for the Yankees in his last season as an effective Major Leaguer. You could say that the Mets were better off trading Ventura a year too early than a year too late, but they didn’t get much in return. Yates showed flashes of potential before being released, and Guthrie left via free agency after the 2002 season. In the end, the Mets would have been better off holding on to Ventura, because removing him meant Edgardo Alfonzo would move to the hot corner, setting up this deal:

Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder and Billy Traber to the Indians for Roberto Alomar, Mike Bacsik, and Danny Peoples.

Talk about buying high! In the end, none of those prospects did anything, so it didn’t hurt the Mets in that respect. But people forget that Traber was a brighter prospect than Jon Niese is now, Escobar was more toolsy than Fernando Martinez and closer to the bigs, Riggan at that time would compare to Joe Smith, and Snyder was a power-hitting first baseman coming off a strong season in AA — in other words, he was Nick Evans. Lawton was a pretty good all-around player with a strong bat and gap power, but who had trouble hitting lefties. Can you say Ryan Church?

Considering that the Mets could do better at second base, would you trade Church, Niese, F-Mart, Joe Smith, and Nick Evans for, say, Brian Roberts? Or, for Chase Utley? For Ian Kinsler or Michael Young?

After the Alomar deal, the Mets sent Justice to Oakland for Guthrie and Yates. Both would be candidates for the bullpen, but the Mets were going to need starting pitching depth, because they were looking to unload Appier’s enormous contract. San Francisco was listening.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Desi Relaford to the Giants for Shawn Estes.
This was a situation where the Mets appeared to be selling high and buying low — both Relaford and Shinjo were coming off the best seasons of their career — and Estes was coming off a disappointing season. Estes was also due a big raise in arbitration, which combined with his poor 2001 were the reasons he was available. Still, the Mets traded two men who were borderline everyday starters, under 30, and with cheap contracts. In return they received a fourth or fifth starter with a salary more befitting a #2. I would liken it to trading Endy Chavez or Nick Evans and Dan Murphy for someone like Chris Young of the Padres.

Estes’ arrival made the next trade easy.

Kevin Appier to the Angels for Mo Vaughn
For those who want to dump Luis Castillo’s bad contract, try to remember this deal. The Mets signed Appier to an extraordinary deal (at the time) — four years at $42M — and he proceeded to go 11-10. Not a great year, but the worst of his career. There were whispers he was injured, or simply done (sound familiar?). The Mets, embarrassed with the contract, and desperate to remove this albatross, send Appier to the Left Coast in return for Vaughn, who had missed the entire previous season and had ballooned to around 300 pounds. Again, a sell-low situation where the Mets were desperate. They did get rid of Appier’s bad contract, but took on Vaughn’s, which was worse. Appier won 14 games the next season for the Angels.

I can’t think of a good comparison to this year’s team. Maybe it would be like if the Mets had Barry Zito and were trading him for Moises Alou, and Alou had a three-year contract.

But these deals had further-reaching effect. To fill Appier’s spot in the rotation, and make room for Vaughn, the Mets first signed Pedro Astacio to a 1-year, $5M deal with incentives, and then made this deal:

Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Brewers and Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile, and cash to the Rockies, for Craig House and Ross Gload from the Rockies and Jeff D’Amico, Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Mark Sweeney, and cash from the Brewers.

D’Amico, who had been injury prone but had a decent 2001, was a typical “buy high” acquisition — the Mets gave up starting first baseman Todd Zeile, left fielder Benny Agbayani, and young lefty Glendon Rusch (among others). Now, it could be argued that the Mets actually sold high on Agbayani and Rusch — I’d be with you on Benny, but not Rusch, who threw 210 innings the next season and might have continued his upward rise if not for injuries. It’s hard to draw a comparison with current Mets, but I’ll say it’s like sending Ryan Church and Jon Niese for Ricky Nolasco and Luis Gonzalez. Actually, that’s probably not a great comparison, but the best I can come up with right now.

When spring training broke, the Mets still had questions on their pitching staff, particularly in the bullpen. As a result they made this trade:

Bruce Chen, Dicky Gonzalez, Saul Rivera and Luis Figueroa to the Expos for Scott Strickland, Phil Seibel, and Matt Watson.

They sold high on Gonzalez, who was coming off a strong minor league season, but low on Chen. Eventually, Chen got his act together — though it took a while and was fairly brief. It turned out to be a great trade when Strickland had a strong year as the setup man, and began pushing Armando Benitez for the closer role.

As the 2002 season went along, it was clear that the offseason makeover wasn’t working. The Mets still needed pitching, and, still within striking distance of a wild card berth, made two last-ditch efforts on July 31st, the trade deadline.

Jay Payton, Robert Stratton, and Mark Corey to the Rockies for John Thomson and Mark Little

Frustrated with waiting for the oft-injured Jay Payton to blossom, the Mets shipped him off to the thin air of Colorado, where his career took off. Thomson had shown some promise before tearing his labrum and missing all of 2000, but his 7-8 record with the Rockies at the time had suggested that he was on the way back. The 24-year-old Robert Stratton was a former first-round pick who had hit 20 homers in his first 256 at-bats with Norfolk. Corey was a 27-year-old righty who had posted a 1.04 ERA out of Norfolk’s bullpen. Thomson was a bust, and they let him walk after the year. Corey and Stratton never did much at the big league level. Payton didn’t win any batting titles, but the Mets would have been happy to have an outfielder like him every year since.

Bobby M. Jones, Josh Reynolds, and Jason Bay to the Padres for Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook

Jones was having a tough year (selling low), but Middlebrook was just as bad and the Padres had no need for the 37-year-old Reed, who was in the middle of the best season of his career and would be a free agent at the end of the year. San Diego liked the lefty Jones for reasons unknown, and Reynolds was more suspect than prospect. Padres scouts were high on Bay, who had hit .362 in A ball the previous season and was showing gap power, discipline at the plate, and surprising speed in his first year of AA.

In the end, the makeover for 2002 didn’t work out so well, and in fact sent the organization into a quick spiral downward for the next two seasons. You can say that Steve Phillips was to blame, but again, there is an eerie similarity to the present situation. Phillips was only a year removed from being heralded as the savior of the franchise, making great deals picking players off the scrap heap in leading the Mets to their first World Series in 15 years. Under Phillips, the Mets became perennial postseason contenders, and were breaking records in ticket sales. Then it all got ugly quickly — and it was sparked by the need to move the Appier contract.

Is this to suggest that Omar Minaya will make the same terrible moves? Of course not. What we need to point out here is that dumping one bad contract, and/or trading players at their lowest value, can have far-reaching, long-term effects. It’s not as easy as “getting rid of a guy” and then being done with it. The Appier-Vaughn deal was the first domino that felled the franchise, because it led to several other bad trades.

You can argue that trading Luis Castillo won’t cause the same effect. But there are people who believe that not only Castillo should go, but also Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, and perhaps Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano. Add in that Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, and Luis Ayala may leave via free agency, and now you’re looking at SEVEN holes to fill on the pitching staff (not to mention second base and left field). The 2002 Mets were crippled after sending away one key starter — which led to the trade of a second key starter. Before thinking it makes sense to “get rid of” all these players coming off bad years — and at a time when they have little value — try to be realistic in figuring out how the Mets will replace all those innings and appearances. Look at the deals above and note how much the Mets overpaid in nearly every deal in an attempt to change their situation.

Further, even though most of the youngsters traded away turned out to be trash, it did weaken the organization to a point where they’re still trying to recover. At the same time, before you go counting on Niese, Parnell, Evans, and Murphy to save the franchise, remember guys like Traber, Escobar, Griffiths, Snyder, Gonzalez, Riggan, Redman, and countless others who were tabbed as “can’t miss” prospects at similar points in their career. For every Jason Bay there are ten Robert Strattons. If history is any indicator, the Mets, in order to dump some of these bad contracts, they’ll likely have to include prospects — if they want anything of value in return.

Bottom line? Be careful what you wish for. The Mets may find new addresses for Heilman, Castillo, Schoeneweis, etc., but at what cost?

(BTW, I want to give credit where credit is due: see Mike Steffanos’ excellent piece from two years ago for a great synopsis of Mets deals going back to 1981 — it was a main piece of my research for this long-winded post. Mike and his staff continue to do a great job blogging at Mike’s Mets.)


Goodbye Conti Equals Goodbye Pedro?

The Mets announced that Howard Johnson would remain their batting coach for 2009, Dan Warthen will continue as the pitching coach, both Sandy Alomars would return to the staff, Razor Shines will take over as the third base coach, and Randy Niemann will replace Guy Conti as bullpen coach. The lucrative and vital position of first base coach is still open — and it’s no wonder, as the organization should take their time to make sure the absolute correct candidate is chosen for such a key role.

It was also announced that Conti and Luis Aguayo would be reassigned within the organization.

What could be interpreted by the demotion of Guy Conti — and it IS a demotion, no matter which way you slice it — is that Pedro Martinez also will not be returning. Conti had been originally promoted from the Mets’ farm system at the request of Pedro, who had worked with the coach as a member of the Dodgers.

Of course, it could just be a signal that if Pedro returns, he won’t wield the same influence in the organization as before. Based on Pedro’s performance the last few years, it’s understandable. At the same time, Conti’s presence was nothing but positive during his tenure, with several pitchers going to him for advice and guidance. He, like Warthen, was the “anti-Jacket”, a coach who had a somewhat opposite philosophy from Rick Peterson. Pitchers who didn’t buy in to Peterson’s approach could go to Conti (and Pedro) for support.

That said, it’s probably redundant to have Warthen and Conti at the big-league level — and I’m hoping he’ll accept a reassignment and work with the Mets’ young prospects.

As for Luis Aguayo, no one’s sure how or why he was handed the third base coaching job in the first place — he won’t be missed. Tony Bernazard will likely make sure his countryman is placed in a position in the lower ranks where he can succeed.

Randy Niemann‘s return to the big club is not a shocker, but intriguing. One of his main jobs was rehabilitating pitchers after injuries — and has been given high marks for his work in that role. I’m curious to know if Niemann will be working with John Maine over the winter. Maybe part of Niemann being promoted has to do with keeping an eye on Maine — who I maintain MUST correct his mechanics to avoid another injury.

Razor Shines should be a fun addition to the coaching squad. Besides having a great baseball name, he was a legend in the minors — a real-life Crash Davis in AAA during the 1980s. From all reports, he’s a great guy who has earned this promotion to the bigs. Though he’s won over 500 games as a minor league manager, he has never been seriously considered for a big-league job.

The return of the Alomars is fine with me — they seem to be good guys and they know baseball. Sandy Jr. in particular appeared to have a positive effect on the catching corps. In addition, they’re both harmless, and non-threatening.

There’s an interesting detail regarding the staff thus far — not one of the coaches would be seriously considered as a replacement to Manuel anytime soon. The one guy who might be considered would be Ken Oberkfell, who, if he remains in the Mets organization, will be back in AAA. Don’t be surprised if Obie takes a big league job with someone such as St. Louis, where he could be groomed as an eventual replacement to Tony LaRussa.

I’m not sure what to think about the 2009 coaching staff. On the one hand, I love Hojo, like the Alomars, Warthen, and Niemann, and believe I’ll like Shines (how can you NOT like a guy named Razor Shines?). On the other hand, most of this staff has witnessed one or two collapses, and only Hojo has a World Series ring. The playing roster is devoid of Champions — except for Luis Castillo, the one guy everyone wants to jettison — and the coaching staff (including the manager) also has not tasted the Champagne. Maybe that means nothing, or maybe it means everything. Willie Randolph had a few rings, and he had four coaches on his staff with World Series rings. That staff did lead the Mets to their last postseason appearance, but perhaps it was just a coincidence.

Bottom line is this: key leaders of the last two collapses have been retained, which suggests that the blame is put squarely on the shoulders of the players. If that suggestion holds true, we should expect to see a significant roster turnover, as hinted at by COO Jeff Wilpon earlier in the week.


The Mets Makeover

Earlier this week, Mets owner Jeff Wilpon suggested that the Mets’ roster would undergo a makeover:

“I think we’re gonna be active in trying to remake our roster. I think I said at a time that I wanna be uh, some addition by subtraction, and I think that will happen. Whether that happens by free agency or more to the fact from some trades.”

Before you hope “addition by subtraction” means dumping Aaron Heilman, Luis Castillo, and most of the bullpen, understand that the Mets