Browsing Archive October, 2008

Mini Trade with Dodgers

OK, my megatrade proposal didn’t go over too well … so let’s pare it down:

Mets trade Luis Castillo to the Dodgers straight up for Andruw Jones.

Would you do this deal?

Jones’ eternal smirk drove me nuts when he wore an Atlanta Braves uniform, but I got used to Tom Glavine’s condescending facial expressions. I’ll smirk with Jones if he can hit 30 HRs again.

Which of course is the big question: is Andruw Jones finished, or is there something left?

Personally, I think Jones is poised to make a comeback — which is why am I so infatuated with Jones lately.

First of all, Jones will be in the walk year of his contract, and that, in addition to wanting to erase 2008, should be motivating factors for him this winter. One must only look to the offseason preceding his previous walk year, when he lost 30 pounds and was in the best shape of his life. It didn’t help — he had the worst year of his career — but it did prove that Jones can be motivated by free agency.

Secondly, his incredibly awful 2008 season was due more to a combination of health and internal pressure, than in any loss of skills. Jones came into spring training overweight, consequently injured his right knee, tried to play through it, had surgery, then came back from knee surgery too early, and reinjured it. For those who have never played baseball, the right knee is key for a righthanded hitter — all great hitters have the ability to keep their weight “back”, and for a RH hitter, “back” means on top of the right leg. If that leg is not strong, a hitter will transfer his weight too early to the front (left) leg, and be ahead of pitches. The swing mechanics will be affected, as well as bat speed. You can’t have bat speed without good weight transfer.

In addition to his physical health, Jones was his own worst enemy in terms of putting pressure on himself to fulfill his extraordinary contract and be “the guy” in LA. Playing outside the Atlanta organization for the first time in his life — outside his comfort zone, away from the leadership and confidence of Bobby Cox — had to affect him as well. He admitted he felt the need to prove himself in LA. It can be argued that for those reasons he might not be suited for playing in New York City. But, he would be embraced if he came to the Mets in return for fan unfavorite Luis Castillo, and wouldn’t have to be counted on to be a star — he’d be asked to bat behind Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, possibly behind Ryan Church as well. Expectations would be very low, compared to when he joined the Dodgers.

While he probably won’t hit 50 homers again, it’s not out of the question to think he’ll hit at least half that many — IF he’s healthy. Further, he has hit fifty bombs before, so it wouldn’t be shocking if hit 35. Think of it this way: where would the Mets be if they had TWO Carlos Delgados in their lineup? Because that is essentially what you have with Andruw Jones, in any year other than 2008.

There’s still the issue of convincing the Dodgers to take Castillo off the Mets’ hands in return for Jones. They should be in the market for a second baseman, as Jeff Kent is expected to walk. Re-read that sentence and understand what it means in regard to the Mets’ expected chase after Orlando Hudson. If the Dodgers acquired Castillo, it would remove them from the Hudson sweepstakes. Taking $15M off the books for 2009, in return for taking on $18M spread over three years, might give the Dodgers the flexibility to make an offer to Manny Ramirez. I’m no accountant, but I think the money men like to spread dollars out into the future if given the option.

The Manny issue would be key to the Dodgers dumping Jones, and not pursuing Hudson. Ramirez will likely require at minimum a 3-year, $75M commitment, and if the Dodgers put that out, they’ll need to shed some dollars AND find a way to fill second base … not to mention that they may try to bring back Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, and Derek Lowe.

But then, there is Blake DeWitt, who looks like he might be able to handle second base full-time. Much depends on how confident the Dodgers are in DeWitt, and how badly they want to rid themselves of Jones — who has become as much a pariah among LA fans, if not moreso, as Castillo.

Your thoughts?


Playing for Peanuts

Not sure about you, but the prospect of watching the Phillies in the World Series makes me ill. Still, I have a dire need to watch (consume?) baseball every chance I get.

Toward that end, if you are not looking forward to watching the “fightin’ Phils” this week, but would like to be entertained by our National Pastime, you have the option of viewing the first eight episodes of “Playing for Peanuts”.

Hmm …. watch Wally Backman and a group of scrappy overachievers … or Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and co.?

Seems to be a no-brainer ….

Playing for Peanuts, episodes 1.1 – 2.4


Mega-Trade with Dodgers?

There is one great way for the Mets to trade Luis Castillo — and wind up with a gold glover, a #2 starter, and a catcher for now and the next ten years.

It DOES involve some sacrifice on the Mets’ part, but it doesn’t include any of their “untouchables”. In fact, the trade wouldn’t include any minor leaguers whatsoever. All big leaguers, going both ways.

This deal would also require that the Mets be willing to gamble on a few things. But then, isn’t any trade a gamble?

Oh there’s one other caveat — there has to be truth to the rumor that the Dodgers are looking to deal Russell Martin, as reported by Joel Sherman:

You want a surprise name that could end up out on the trade market? How about Dodgers catcher Russell Martin? Rival executives say the Dodgers are not overly enamored with his makeup and at a time when front-line catchers are hard to find, Los Angeles could decide to see what his value is.

Heck, if I’m the Mets, I’m making a phone call. Young all-star-caliber catchers are few and far between, and becoming rarer every year. The Mets have little in the way of catching prospects in their organization, save for 18-year-old Francisco Pena, who is still very far from MLB.

So here goes my proposition for a mega-deal with the Dodgers:

Mets trade: Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, and Brian Schneider

Dodgers return: Russell Martin, Brad Penny, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, and Cory Wade.

Why the Mets do it:
Number one, to trade Beltran when his value will never be higher, and get in return a two-way catcher. While everyone talks about how impossible it is to find an offensive-minded centerfielder with tools like Beltran, it’s even more rare to find a catcher who can both catch and hit — and is only 25.

Number two, the Mets are desperate for a frontline starter who can back up Johan Santana and keep the pressure off Mike Pelfrey. Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez are likely to depart via free agency, and there’s no guarantee that John Maine will come back healthy and effective after shoulder surgery and an inconsistent 2008. Penny has the potential to dominate, and will be motivated by pitching in his walk year. Yes he had a lousy 2008, but he knows that another 16-win season will earn him a huge payday next winter. Remember Mike Hampton?

Number three, in Jones the Mets get a centerfielder with the skillset to replace Beltran both in the field and at bat. Like Penny, he had a lousy 2008 but I’m betting he’s the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year. And if he really is a .158 hitter from now on, Pierre is insurance.

Number four, the Mets rid themselves of Castillo. And fifth, they get a young, bright-looking middle reliever in Wade, who will help in the bullpen right away.

Why the Dodgers do it:

First, they get Beltran, the best all-around centerfielder in baseball, to play between young stars Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and provide some of the offensive firepower lost when Manny Ramirez walks. Second, they get something in return for Penny, rather than declining his option and losing him for nothing. Third, they dump Jones’ $15M contract for ’09. Fourth, they get a fine receiver in Schneider, who will be a stopgap while they figure out what to do in the future at the position. Finally, they get a veteran second baseman to fill in for Jeff Kent, who is expected to leave via free agency.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know — Jones is no lock to go back to being a star centerfielder, and his .158 average is quite scary. But you have to think of the deal as being more of Beltran for Martin and Pierre, and figuring that one of Jones or Penny are going to do an about-face. Think of it this way: would you rather hope that Luis Castillo can be a singles-hitting .300 hitter again, or that Jones can be a 30-HR, MVP centerfielder with the potential to carry a team all by himself? Jones can’t be that bad again — he simply can’t. And like Penny, he’ll be performing in a walk year. It’s amazing how much of a motivating factor that can be, especially for players in their early 30s.

Don’t worry, this proposal has not one nugget of truth behind it, and there’s no way the Mets make such a deal — they don’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. At the same time, I refuse to take responsibility if this trade idea gets picked up by and finds its way to airwaves as legitimate “buzz” … I’ve seen similar speculation reported as rumor recently.


Dumping Castillo

It would appear the Mets are in quite a fix if they intend to deal away Luis Castillo. The most recent rumor is that the Diamondbacks have no interest in trading Eric Byrnes for Castillo — and who can blame them?

According to Joel Sherman at the New York Post:

… the Diamondbacks considered shipping diminished righty-hitting outfielder Eric Byrnes (two years left at $22 million) for Castillo, but determined they just don’t like Castillo at all.

Later in the article, Sherman reports:

The Post has learned that the Mets and Royals had discussions in July about swapping expensive malcontent outfielder Jose Guillen for Castillo. An executive who was aware of those talks said he thought it was possible the clubs could revisit negotiations this offseason.

OK, let’s re-read that last sentence and remind ourselves that ANYTHING is possible, so we shouldn’t assume that a Castillo for Guillen deal is something that will definitely be discussed. It’s nice kindling for the hot stove, but in my mind it makes little sense for either team.

First of all, why would the Royals want to take on a bad contract for an overaged second baseman with questionable health? There’s no chance of them “pulling a Tampa Bay” in 2009, and we’d assume they’re looking toward 2010 and beyond — so why bring in a 32-year-old? Wouldn’t a team like KC want to get younger? Then again, Castillo WOULD be younger, considering they played 38-year-old Mark Grudzielanek at the position last year. Which begs the question — why not simply bring back Grudzielanek on a cheap two-year deal? The fans love him, he’s fairly productive, and he seems to enjoy playing in Kansas City. So it’s hard for me to understand why the Royals would be so quick to part with anyone for Luis Castillo.

Now from the Mets’ side of things: why in the world would they want to bring in Jose Guillen? I do realize they need a righthanded, power-hitting corner outfielder — and Guillen certainly fits the bill. But this is the same franchise that felt it necessary to rid themselves of Lastings Milledge mainly because of his attitude and “questionable” character. And it’s the same organization that refused to make a serious play for Manny Ramirez at the deadline for the same character issues. There’s zero truth to the “there wasn’t a match” epithet that Omar Minaya keeps repeating (the Pirates were willing to deal Jason Bay for a package of “touchables”), so the only other thing we can assume is that someone in the hierarchy didn’t want the baggage that came with Manny.

So if a team is unwilling to take on Manny Ramirez for free, why in the world would that same team want to bring in Guillen — who comes with similar baggage plus two more years and who will never have the impact of Ramirez?

If the Byrnes report is true, and if it’s also true that the Royals weren’t interested in parting with Guillen, it may take a miracle to move Luis Castillo. In fact, it probably makes more sense to hold onto him and hope like heck that he can be healthy again. Because I stick to my belief that Castillo on healthy wheels can be productive. Not an All-Star, but productive.

The Mets may have no other choice.


Omar Dealing with Brad Pitt?

Finally, the mystery has been revealed as to why Omar Minaya did not make a trade to help push the Mets into the postseason.

He was trying to make a trade with this guy:

Brad Pitt

And you can’t blame Omar for mistaking the famous Hollywood actor Brad Pitt for Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane. After all, the two men look strikingly similar — so much so, that in the upcoming movie “Moneyball”, Pitt is playing the role of Beane. (No word yet on who will be playing the roles of Art “Light Up a Room” Howe or Rick Peterson.)

So while Jim Hendry and Pat Gillick were prying away Rich Harden and Joe Blanton from the real Billy Beane, Omar Minaya was discussing a deal for Huston Street over lunch with Beane’s imposter:

Omar Minaya lunching with Brad Pitt

Apparently, this was part of Pitt’s “research” in understanding and performing his upcoming role. According to Pitt:

“I’m a method actor, and the only way to really ‘get’ a character is to step inside his skin — to literally BE that person. I had to walk like Billy Beane, talk like him, dress like him … quite simply, I had to be Beane.”

Major League Baseball should investigate this situation immediately, since Pitt obviously had a hand in altering the outcome of the 2008 season. Had Minaya been speaking with the REAL Billy Beane, perhaps the Mets would have acquired the arms and bats they needed to get to the postseason. Based on the facts, it’s not out of the question to award the Mets with the NL East title, add Huston Street, Justin Duchscherer, and Brad Ziegler to the roster, and and have them play the Phillies in an impromptu 3-game series to decide the true NL champion. Heck, there’s plenty of time to do it, and it will generate a few extra hundred million in lost TV ads.

I implore you Bud Selig: do the right thing.


Chance of Lowe is Low

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Derek Lowe would prefer to stay on the West Coast, and “…teammates say he has little interest in playing for the Mets or Yankees.”

(Hat tips to ‘Ropolitans and Isuzudude for the link)

Of course, money can change most people’s minds about geography. Everyone has their price.

But, I don’t think the Mets are willing to overpay for Lowe, and doubt they were going to make a big run for him anyway. Lowe might demand a 4-year, $50M deal or larger, and for that kind of dough and term length the Mets might prefer to keep the more youthful Oliver Perez around, or sign the 28-year-old Jon Garland.

As mentioned on MLB Trade Rumors (hat tip to Micalpalyn), the Mets will have a payroll around $110M after arbitration. If they plan to stick to the $138M payroll they operated under in this past year, that means they’ll have about $30M to play with. But that’s a big “if”. For all we know, the Wilpons may want to stay around $120M. Certainly, there’s no reason for them to expand their budget with Citi Field a guarantee to be a profit center regardless of the team’s success or failure. They have at least two years to coast on the “honeymoon effect” of the new ballpark.

We’ve already heard hints that the Mets won’t go after K-Rod, so the highest-priced closer they might sign would be Brian Fuentes, who will probably cost in the $7-10M per year range. It’s a good bet the Mets won’t make a big splash and sign a big-name — i.e., CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez — but instead sign a few a second-level veterans and pick a few projects off the scrap heap.

There’s also the consideration of Perez — at 26, is he worth locking up long term? — and Pedro Martinez. From a performance standpoint, Pedro has been a bust, but behind the scenes, a leader and an unofficial pitching coach. Might the Mets give him an incentive-laden, one-year deal to come back as a fifth starter? If so, then they probably don’t need to sign a Lowe or Perez or any other expensive starter, but make a competition among Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Aaron Heilman for the #4. Niese and Parnell, after all, are the untouchables who couldn’t be included in a deal for innings-eater Joe Blanton, so they must be considered serious candidates for the 2009 team. I threw Heilman into the mix as wishful thinking.

Personally, I do think the Mets need to sign someone as a potential #2 or #3 — be it Ollie, Lowe, Garland, Ryan Dempster, or Brad Penny. But I get the feeling that Perez and/or Garland will be the targets, rather than Lowe.


Ambiorix Who?

Ambiorix Burgos arrested

From the above picture, it’s clear that Ambiorix Burgos is NOT a member of the New York Mets but the Chicago White Sox. Whew! that was a close one … the Wilpons should be relieved that Burgos was traded to the Palehose prior to his running and killing two innocent women in his Hummer. What a public relations nightmare THAT would have been!

Oh wait … Ambiorix Burgos is still listed on the Mets’ 40-man roster. Huh. Guess Jay Horwitz has some damage control after all.

So from this picture I see one incredibly disturbing, and three baffling things, in that order:

1. Burgos is smiling. To get caught on camera smiling when you’re being arrested for the murder of two innocent people is NOT good.

2. Why is he wearing a White Sox cap? (Though, thanks for distancing yourself from the Mets, Amby!)

3. Can the Mets give Ramon Castro a raise so he doesn’t have to work as a cop in the offseason?

4. Who is the midget grabbing Amby’s right elbow?