Browsing Archive July, 2009

Trade To Be Announced?

According to Bart Hubbach’s Twitter feed, the Mets have sent down Elmer Dessens and promoted catcher Robinson Cancel.

Furthermore, Omar Minaya has a press conference scheduled for 11 AM.

Does this mean Brian Schneider has been dealt for a LOOGY?

Stay tuned.

** UPDATE **

As suggested by commenter “Ellie” (Hendricks?), the Mets promoted Cancel to fortify the bench, as Schneider’s legs are ailing.

Though, the definition of “fortify” could be called into question, as Cancel is hitting .218 with a .266 OBP and .259 SLG at AAA Buffalo. It was Cancel or Rene Rivera, and Cancel is already on the 40-man roster.

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A Whirlwind of Deals

While the Mets remained status quo over the past 48 hours, a number of trades were made among postseason-contending teams. Let’s break them down.

Phillies obtain Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco for prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson

Wow. The Phillies get a Cy Young winner and a very capable (and relatively young) fourth outfielder in return for three minor leaguers. Granted, those prospects are top-notch, but they are still prospects — not proven MLBers. Further, the Phils did not give up any of Kyle Drabek, JA Happ, Dominic Brown, nor Michael Taylor, their four most coveted youngsters.

Lee steps right in to give the Phillies the best one-two lefty starting combo in MLB. Francisco is a talented offensive force who runs the bases well and has gap / doubles power that could evolve into homerun power at Citizens Bank Park. He is, however, a notorious streak hitter who runs scalding hot and ice cold — not unlike current Phillie Pedro Feliz. This trade more or less locks up the NL East for the Phillies.

Mariners trade Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock to the Pirates for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson.

Finally, the Bucs find a taker for Jack Wilson, a hard-nosed, good-fielding, light-hitting, overpaid shortstop. Snell was an eternal enigma who requested a demotion to AAA to get his head straight. Both will do well in Seattle, and the Pirates will be happy with the players they received. Cedeno steps right in to Wilson’s position at shortstop, and Clement is essentially a lefthanded-hitting version of Ryan Doumit — an offensive-minded catcher with some holes behind the plate, and who may eventually find a home at 1B.

White Sox trade Brian Anderson to Red Sox for Mark Kotsay

The Red Sox had DFA’d Kotsay to make room on the roster for Adam LaRoche, so the fact they received anything for him in return is gravy. They get Anderson, who is essentially a hyped-up version of Jeremy Reed, and can stock him in AAA. The White Sox get a veteran bat who will be used immediately in return for a player who was unlikely to ever meet previous expectations. Good move for both clubs.

Giants acquire Ryan Garko from Indians for minor leaguer Scott Barnes.

This was the deal the Mets needed to make — obtain a slugging, under-30, inexpensive first baseman / outfielder who can fill in at 1B and the outfield corners and be a candidate for regular duty in 2010. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t have ANY minor league pitching prospects at the AA level who are coveted by other teams, so such a deal can’t happen — at least, not without the Mets overpaying (as usual). After being drafted out of St. John’s last year, Barnes rocketed through the Giants’ system, and despite being in the minors, could be ahead of where Jon Niese is right now. But since the Giants have tons of young pitching at the MLB level and throughout their system, he was expendable. This is what is defined as “depth”.

Giants acquire Freddy Sanchez for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson

In a matter of 24 hours, the Giants replaced one-half of their infield, adding much-needed offense to their feeble-hitting lineup. In Sanchez they get a solid singles hitter who will step right in to play second base, which has been something of a black hole for San Francisco this year. They did, however, give up a solid pitching prospect in Alderson — a 20-year-old who was ranked the #4 prospect in the Giants’ organization, and the 26th-best prospect in all of baseball. But again, the Giants are loaded with young arms, so it’s not a big deal for them. Maybe they overpaid, but, you have to give up something to get something — especially at the trade deadline. The Bucs, who are going nowhere, did well with this deal.

Final Thoughts

The Phillies deal, obviously, is the one that on the surface most affects the Mets. But the Giants also made moves that should significantly improve their club, and since they’re unlikely to oust the Dodgers in the NL West, they are a major obstacle in terms of the Wild Card.

The Mets likely won’t make a deal — partially because they don’t have the parts to spare, and mainly because they look at players returning from the DL as their “acquisitions”. The problem with that thinking is, you don’t know when those players will return, nor if they’ll return at 100% right away. For example, Jose Reyes might be back by mid-August — but will he be able to run at full speed? Similarly, when / if Carlos Delgado returns, how long will it take him to get his timing back? And will his hip allow him to swing with the same force he had before? Will either Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz be able to crack 90 MPH when they come off the DL? Lots of hopes and wishes — which has been the Mets’ strategy for three years running.

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Did Jeff Wilpon Play Pro Ball?

You may already know that I’m a former college baseball player and coach, and therefore geeky enough to have an appreciation for listening to an interview with Moby Benedict. For those unaware, Benedict was one of the most successful college coaches of all-time, leading the University of Michigan from 1963-1979. In those 17 years, no less than 25 of his players went on to play in MLB — a fairly stunning accomplishment. After his college coaching career, Moby spent three years coaching the Jamestown Expos in the NY-Penn League (from 1982-1984).

Considering that Moby played for Michigan in the mid-1950s and managed Jamestown in the early 1980s, one would think that he’d be familiar with Fred and Jeff Wilpon. After all, Fred was supposedly a “star” pitcher in high school and college, and Jeff played for the Jamestown Expos in 1983 … or did he?

According to the biography on the Sterling Equities website:
jeff-wilpon-se

The exact same bio appears on the Brooklyn Cyclones official website.

However, if you listen to Moby Benedict tell the story, Jeff never played for Jamestown. Per the interview:

Q: “One of the players you managed while at Jamestown, but Jeff played with you in 1983 at the Jamestown Expos … what can you tell us about Jeff?”
A: “I don’t think he did … the years I was there, and I was there three years, and I don’t recall that he played. No. No — not for me.”

Moby is not a young guy, so you might think that his memory is failing him, or that Jeff was such a poor player that he didn’t leave much of an impression on Moby. Except, you would think that Moby Benedict would remember the son of Fred Wilpon playing for him — even if it were for only five minutes. After all, Fred and Moby were teammates at the University of Michigan, and Fred was extremely helpful to Moby’s baseball program. Indeed, Benedict later mentioned, in regard to Fred Wilpon:

“… he was there at the same time as I was … in fact, I know him well — we were pretty good friends … he gave us a lot of money to re-do our baseball field … he was very, very, very generous … it’s called the Wilpon Baseball Complex … it’s really beautiful … he was very generous, and a very kind man.”

Benedict also clearly remembered that Fred came down with a sore arm while at Michigan, and therefore never pitched for them.

You can listen to the interview here (the Wilpon discussion comes in around the 3-minute mark):

Still, maybe Moby, for whatever reason, forgot that Jeff Wilpon played for him. But there doesn’t seem to be any information, anywhere, that supports the claim that Jeff played pro ball. For example, if you go to the Jeff Wilpon page on TheBaseball Cube.com, there are no stats listed. Neither is Wilpon’s name listed on the 1983 Jamestown Expos page. Baseball-Reference.com reports the same non-info on Jeff Wilpon (nothing for ’82, ’84, either).

Of course, neither of those websites can be considered “official” — so it’s possible that both of those sites have mis-reported the facts and that Moby Benedict mis-remembered his time in Jamestown.

Perhaps I’m nitpicking, but this information is bothersome to say the least. If it’s true that Jeff Wilpon never played pro ball, why does his bio claim that he did? Why would the COO of a billion-dollar company have to lie on his public resume? And what else is he, the Mets, and Sterling Equities lying about?

And for the record, I have never lobbied for the job of COO of the New York Mets. I’m not looking to tear anyone down, either — only in search of the truth.

** UPDATE **

An alert MetsToday reader pointed me to a Murray Chass article from the September 14, 2004 edition of The New York Times, which includes this tidbit:

Wilpon is the son of Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ owner. Like his father, Jeff was a baseball player as a youngster but didn’t go far. In 1983, at the request of and as a favor to Fred Wilpon, the Montreal Expos drafted Jeff, a catcher. He joined Jamestown of the New York-Penn League but apparently never played before he was released a week or so later. Jeff Wilpon’s name does not appear in the team’s statistics for that season.

So this is old news that has yet to be addressed. Or does being a bullpen catcher count as “playing”?

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Castillo In the Two Hole

manuel-ghandi-smBespoketh Jerry Manuel during last night’s postgame, in regard to Luis Castillo:

“The thing about Luis, we have found a way to fit his game in to what we’re doing and we’ve kind of worked around him as well. He’s been very good, a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, he’s playing tremendous baseball… When he’s batting eighth, he’s not the same as when he’s batting second. When he’s batting second, he’s in his game-mode of taking pitches, seeing pitches, moving runners, running the bases well.”

I’ll tell ya, that Manuel sure knows how to get the most of his talent. I don’t know how many other managers would’ve figured out that the second spot in the order is an ideal spot for Luis Castillo — and to come to such a conclusion in less than 100 games.

By the way, what exactly is Manuel referring to when he says, “we have found a way to fit his game in to what we’re doing” ? That statement insinuates that the Mets have a plan of some sort — a method. Who knew?

The Mets should consider another contract extension … no make that, extensions … for both Manuel and Castillo. Lock these guys up until 2020, before someone else snaps them up.

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Mets Game 99: Win Over Rockies

Mets 4 Rockies 0

Mike Pelfrey allowed 7 baserunners in his first four frames, but was saved by two double play balls and four strikeouts. He continued to battle, working out of jams, and kept the Rockies scoreless through six and a third.

Meanwhile, the Mets scratched out three runs — one each in the second, third, and fourth innings — and the bullpen combination of Pedro Feliciano and Sean Green held it up to give the Mets their fourth consecutive victory and seventh shutout of the season.

Notes

According to the SNY announcers, Dan Murphy received defensive pointers from Carlos Delgado prior to the game and used Delgado’s glove during the game. In spite of this, Murphy nonetheless performed well at his position.

Speaking of Murphy, he had two more hits, an RBI, and two runs scored from the cleanup spot — a position in which he’s become entrenched. I don’t see how Jerry Manuel can move him out of there.

Is it terrible that I spend most of these games waiting for the Mets to show me how they’re going to lose? And how bad is it that I’m still doubting the final score a good 15-20 minutes after that last out? My guard is up from inning one through nine, making it difficult to enjoy the game even when the Mets are on the winning end.

I want to know who Josh Fogg was pitching against in his previous 14 outings — the ones against whom he posted a 0.89 ERA? Did the Rockies have an “outer-league” part of the schedule where they faced American Legion teams?

Four straight wins, and now the Nepopolitans are only 5 1/2 games behind in the Wild Card standings. Never mind the other six teams between them and the Rox — ya gotta believe!

Prior to the game, Jeff Wilpon held a press conference to apologize for yesterday’s press conference — though I’m not sure whether he was referring to the first press conference, or the the second. He mentioned something about Adam Rubin, blah blah blah, and he might’ve stated something of import, but I was too focused on his hair, wondering if he uses Vitalis For Men, or possibly Dippity-Doo (do they still make that? just a dab’ll do ya!).

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies do it again at 7:10 PM on Wednesday night. Johan Santana pitches against Jason Hammel.

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Mets Sign Adam Pettyjohn

adam-pettyjohnAccording to a press release posted by the Buffalo Bisons, the Mets have signed lefthanded pitcher Adam Pettyjohn and assigned him to Buffalo.

Don’t get too excited, folks. The 32-year-old Pettyjohn, once a “can’t-miss” prospect, has been a career minor leaguer going back to 1998. Pitching for the Louisville Bats last year, he set a Louisville record with 15 wins. That earned him a September callup with the Cincinnati Reds, and he appeared in 3 ballgames (starting one). In four innings pitched, he allowed 11 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP, and 9 runs. It was his first taste of the bigs since 2001.

Gotta love the Mets’ obsession with stocking southpaws in Buffalo. Makes me want to go outside and start flipping baseballs against the wall with my left hand. Hey, you never know.

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Deep Throat Speaks Again

woodward-bernstein

In a remarkable turn of events that may change the course of American history, it has been discovered that journalists Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein spilled the beans on Watergate as part of a devious plan to become President of the United States and/or gain Presidential Cabinet positions.

According to recently found notes from an old file box that once belonged to W. Mark Felt, Sr. ,

“Woodward wrote all that Watergate stuff not to sell papers, or win a Pulitzer, but to force an impeachment of Richard Nixon and have lobby as Nixon’s most logical replacement.”

Further,

” … Bernstein was tired of the newspaper industry — his eyes were on becoming a Presidential speech writer … he had lobby — he lobby to Nixon to be Press Secretary on many occasions.”

One of Woodward’s relatives — and a person familiar with the situation — corraborated Felt’s posthumous remarks:

“As a child, Bobby wasn’t like the other boys … when all the other boys talked about becoming firemen, policemen, or centerfielders for the New York Yankees, Bobby would say he wanted to be President. It was an obsession.”

G. Gordon Liddy could not be reached for comment.

In related news, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams admitted that they broke the BALCO story in the San Francisco Chronicle in part to replace Barry Bonds in left field.

Said Fainaru-Wada:

“We wanted the Giants to consider us as a platoon — me from the right side and Lance from the left. We thought it was a good plan to tear down Barry and then lobby them for a tryout.”

For those of you looking for something else after seeing this headline, my apologies, and, shame on you!

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Mets Fire Sale

firesaleIt was only a week ago that Omar Minaya claimed the Mets to be “buyers” rather than “sellers” but that was as much hogwash then as it is now. The Mets have 11 more losses than the NL East-leading Phillies and are 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card with 65 games to play. Mathmetically, yes, they have a chance to reach the postseason. Realistically, though, it’s not likely.

With four days before the trading deadline, it’s time to see where the Mets can cut their losses and bring in some talent for 2010. Unfortunately, the list of trade bait is pretty short.

Pedro Feliciano

“Pedro Lite” is one of the most sought-after lefthanded relievers right now, in a mix with Joe Beimel, George Sherrill, and John Grabow. But how much will a pennant-starved team give up for a LOOGY? Would it be more than an A-ball suspect or AA filler material? The Mets may be better off holding on to Feliciano, who is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sean Green

Teams need pitching, and are willing to part with talent in return for quality arms. The question is, do other teams consider Green a quality arm? His stock has fallen due to a terrible first half and the fact that his performace drops considerably with overuse. The White Sox recently gave up a slugging first base prospect to pry Tony Pena from the Diamondbacks, and Pena was in the midst of a similarly down season. But, Pena is 27 and has a better track record. Can the Mets obtain a decent player for the 30-year-old Green? It’s worth trying.

Luis Castillo

After a horrible 2008, Castillo is in line for Comeback Player of the Year, and currently sizzling at the plate. There are a few pennant-contending clubs who might be in the market for a second baseman, most notably the White Sox, Twins, and Cubs. The Rockies and Giants might also have room for Castillo’s .400 OBP. However, there is the issue of Castillo’s unbearable contract, which still has two years and $12M remaining after this season. The Mets would certainly have to eat all or most of that money to get anything of value in return — much like the Red Sox’ dumping of Julio Lugo for Chris Duncan.

If the Mets are willing to continue paying Castillo, they might be able to get a prospect or two. For example, the Giants have a switch-hitting second baseman in AA named Brock Bond who is an on-base machine like Castillo, but is already 24 and has no power and only average speed — though, Mets fans would get excited over his currently .350 batting average (he’s projected to be a Jeff Keppinger / Brendan Ryan utility type of guy). The White Sox have some intriguing pitchers at AA and a big young catcher named Tyler Flowers, who was caught with PEDs in 2007 but has done well without them — whether they’d give him up for Castillo, though, is another story. Most likely, the Mets can get a mix of A and AA borderline prospects — similar to what they gave up to get him back in 2007.

Livan Hernandez

In two weeks, Livan went from nearly getting booted from the rotation to emerging as their second-best starter. Everyone always needs pitching, but would anyone give up anything of value for Hernandez — particularly since he projects as a #5 on any contending club?

Angel Pagan

I know, I know — he’s one of the few exciting and dependable players the Mets have in the lineup right now. But he’s also most likely playing the best baseball he’ll ever play in his life — so it may be a good time to “sell high” (i.e., like when the Mets traded Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Desi Relaford). With Carlos Beltran presumably coming back for 2010 and 2011, Pagan’s value to the Mets is diminished. The Tigers and White Sox could be trolling for an outfielder with Pagan’s skillset, and if he can bring back something of value, it’s worth exploring. On the other hand, if you believe Beltran’s knee woes are only beginning, then it makes sense to hold on tight to Pagan, and pencil him into centerfield for next season — because there are no centerfield prospects in the Mets’ minor league system ready to step in.

Brian Schneider

I’m not seeing it. Schneider is a fairly solid defensive catcher with occasional pop, but what is a contending team going to give up for two-month rental who can’t beat out Omir Santos for a starting job? The Mets would get MAYBE an A-ball suspect, and then we’d have Robinson Cancel back in Flushing.

Gary Sheffield

He can’t go anywhere as long as he’s on the DL. If he passes through waivers in August, maybe the Mets can get a AAA guy who was once a prospect but now a suspect.

Conclusion

I keep looking at the Mets’ roster and seeing nothing of value to other teams — a frightening parallel to their minor league system. Veterans not mentioned, such as Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Cory Sullivan, Brian Stokes, and Jeremy Reed are all key contributors on this fourth-place team, but to a contending club they are basically worthless — other organizations have similar talent stocked at AAA, so why trade for it?

More disconcerting, even if the Mets are able to pull off a few trades, will they get anything worthwhile in return?

Consider this: the last time the Mets held a fire sale was July 2003, when they unloaded Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd, and Armando Benitez — you can argue that those players were as or more more valuable then, than what the Mets have to offer now. The total return on those trades? Jeremy Hill, Jason Anderson, Kenny Kelly, Royce Ring, Victor Diaz, Kole Strayhorn, Joselo Diaz, Edwin Almonte, Andrew Salvo, Anderson Garcia and Ryan Bicondoa. Victor Diaz and Ring made minor contributions, and the rest never made it to Flushing.

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