Browsing Archive November, 2008

Peavy to Cubs?

The latest rumor has Jake Peavy going to the Cubs in a three-team deal that would also include the Baltimore Orioles.

According to Jeff Zrebiec and Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles would send young pitcher Garrett Olson to San Diego and receive Cubs centerfielder Felix Pie as part of the deal. Strange, since the O’s already seem set for many years with Nick Markakis patrolling center, and they have Adam Jones, a natural centerfielder, playing in right. If nothing else, that outfield would have tremendous range.

How would such a trade affect the Mets? Let’s look at the Cubs potential starting rotation with Peavy:

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Jake Peavy
3. Rich Harden
4. Ryan Dempster
5. Ted Lilly

Dempster and Lilly both won 17 games last year, and they’d be at the BACK END. Not to mention the surplus arms of Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and Sean Marshall, who might or might not be part of the trade.

The Cubs 1-2-3 punch of Zambrano, Peavy, and Harden would be the strongest in all of MLB, and would stand up to best of all-time if Harden remained healthy. The NL Central would be locked up, and it would be next to impossible to beat them in a short series (i.e., playoffs).

So why does this matter to the Mets? Because the Mets have Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and then three question marks comprising their starting rotation. We hope John Maine will return healthy, and we hope he’ll get back to the track that made him a 15-game winner in 2007. However, there’s no guarantee Maine will be healthy, and he took a step back in 2008 — which may or may not have had to do with the injury.

Enough beating around the bush — here’s my point. If the Cubs have three lights-out aces at the top of their rotation, that makes 3 lights-out aces the “standard requirement” for a postseason team. Which means if the Mets want to play “meaningful games deep into October”, they better re-think their position on C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and maybe Ben Sheets. We saw what the Astros did to playoff teams with a top three of Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, and Andy Pettitte — if the Cubs can somehow land Peavy, they’d similarly rip through the competition like a chainsaw through warm butter.

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Royals Sign J.R. House

The Kansas City Royals have signed J.R. House to a split contract.

This isn’t stunning news, and I only mention it because I was obsessed with House last winter as a nice low-risk / high-reward guy, at a time when the Mets had no backstops on their MLB and AAA rosters. The 29-year-old catcher had yet another strong year offensively in AAA in 2008, hitting .306 with 18 HR, 25 doubles and 60 RBI in 454 at-bats. He also drew 53 walks and whiffed 52 times.

In 3 Major League at-bats with the Astros last year, House had no hits and one RBI. From 2003-2008, he has 60 big-league at-bats. Hard to figure why this guy hasn’t been given more of a chance — it’s not like power-hitting catchers grow on trees. Though, much of his early career was derailed by injuries. If he can ever remain healthy, he could be an All-Star. Maybe he’ll finally blossom in Kansas City.

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O’s May Part with Daniel Cabrera

Eternal enigma Daniel Cabrera and the Baltimore Orioles may part ways this winter, according to MASN Online.

The 6’7″ righthander has had his picture next to the definition of “inconsistency” in the dictionary since coming up to the bigs in 2004. That rookie season is the only one in which he’s had a winning record; he’s 48-59 career in 145 starts. By late May of next season, Cabrera will be 28 years old, and the Orioles may already have lost their patience with him.

Despite Cabrera’s losing record and 5+ ERA, the arbitration process almost assuredly will reward him with a raise — something the Orioles will have a hard time accepting. According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, there is a possibility that they will refuse to offer him arbitration, which in turn would make him a free agent. Baltimore has until December 12 to make that decision.

Personally, I’d be surprised to to see the Orioles let him go for nothing, particularly with the dearth of starting pitching available. More likely, they include him in a trade — possibly with catcher Ramon Hernandez and/or outfielder Aubrey Huff.

Hmmm … you thinking what I’m thinking? The Mets certainly could use a RH bat such as Huff’s, and supposedly are in the market to upgrade their performance behind the dish. The Orioles, who have phenom Matt Wieters waiting in the wings, may like the idea of swapping the $9M owed to Hernandez for Brian Schneider’s $4.9M, while getting an ideal tutor for their young backstop of the future. I imagine the Mets would have to give up someone along the lines of Ryan Church and/or Jonathan Niese to get Cabrera and Huff as well — which might not be a bad idea.

Cabrera is the righthanded version of Oliver Perez, only taller and not as consistent (if you can believe that). One day, he looks like the most dominant pitcher in the American League. The next, he can’t get out of the fourth inning. Maybe leaving Baltimore is exactly what he needs to blossom. It worked with John Maine, after all.

Risky, yes, but so is going into 2009 with Niese penciled in as the Mets’ #5. We’ve been looking at the Orioles as ideal trade partners for a year now … will a deal ever happen? The teams seem destined to make some kind of trade, eventually.

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Red Murff Passes

Red Murff, the New York Mets scout who discovered Nolan Ryan, died at the age of 87 in a Tyler, Texas nursing home on Friday.

The former Milwaukee Braves pitcher had a brief Major League career in the 1950s — making his rookie debut at age 35 — before moving to coaching and scouting. He was mentioned during Ryan’s Hall of Fame induction speech:

“He thought when he saw me at 6-foot-2 and 140 pounds, he wasn’t discouraged by my build and by the way I threw the baseball as many other scouts were,” Ryan said. “And I appreciate the fact that Red spent so much time with me and worked to help me become a better pitcher. Thank you, Red.”

Murff was instrumental in creating the baseball program at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, and was named to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Texas Scouts Association Hall of Fame in 1999.

Said James Vilade, a family friend:

“He was an amazing person,” Vilade said. “He lived a long life and was a great ambassador to the game of baseball.

“He was an inspiration to all. Even after he retired he inspired kids to be great baseball players and great citizens.”

In addition to Nolan Ryan, Murff also signed Mets standout catcher Jerry Grote, and is credited for encouraging Phil Niekro to use the knuckleball in game situations.

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Freddy Garcia Injures Shoulder

Free-agent righthander Freddy Garcia, who had been pitching well in Venezuela, left his most recent start with shoulder discomfort.

No word yet on whether he is in fact injured, but the news can’t be good for his bargaining position this winter.

My best guess is that his agent will report that Garcia “felt some stiffness” and “was removed as a cautionary measure” and “his shoulder is 100%”.

Regardless, Garcia likely just lost a shot at a big-league deal, and may have to settle for a minor-league, incentive-laden contract, with an invite to someone’s spring training.

That said, I’d like to see the Mets extend him such an offer.

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