Browsing Archive February, 2010

Mets Like Beimel, Calero, But Not the Price Tag

According to various reports, the Mets are interested in LOOGY Joe Beimel, but not for the $2M he wants. Further, the team is also looking into Kiko Calero, but he prefers an MLB contract rather than the minor league deal the Mets want to offer.

Without question, Beimel is the best lefthanded specialist available on the free agent market. The Mets have been seeking such a LOOGY to pair with Pedro Feliciano ever since Scott Schoeneweis crapped the bed. Two million dollars is not a huge commitment for someone with Beimel’s skill set and experience — compare it to the 3-year, $10.8M insanity-driven deal handed to the aforementioned Schoeneweis. Considering that Beimel would likely appear in 70-85 games, the Mets will get more value on the dollar for him than for the $2M given to utilityman Alex Cora. So the question is, if the Mets need Beimel, and Beimel is interested at a fair price, what’s the delay?

As for Calero, I can understand the trepidation — sort of. When Calero is healthy, he can be “lights-out”, but staying healthy has been a problem in the past few years for the 35-year-old. With the Mets already dealing with injury issues this spring, they’d ideally sign a more durable pitcher.

At the same time, Calero was outstanding in 2009, appearing in 67 games and setting career bests in innings (60) strikeouts (69), and ERA (1.95), while posting a stingy 1.10 WHIP and allowing only one homerun. There’s no guarantee he’ll repeat those numbers, and he did spend 15 days on the DL in June with a shoulder inflammation. But you tell me what makes more sense: giving $1.25M guaranteed to Kelvim Escobar — who threw 5 innings last year — or Calero?

What’s hurting the Mets in these negotations, of course, is Escobar’s status (and the fact that Brian Stokes was dealt to the Angels). Both Calero and Beimel deserve MLB deals regardless, but have the upper hand as long as the Mets have neither a legitimate setup man nor a reliable second lefty.

It is at this point that I would like to hear from all the people who, back in November, didn’t think it was a “big deal” that the Mets wasted $2M on the aforementioned Cora. Additionally, I want to hear from those who supported the Stokes – Gary Matthews trade, which cost the Mets another $1M – $1.5M net. The argument was that a measly $1M or $2M shouldn’t make or break the Mets’ season. Yet here we are in a situation where the Mets are desperate to plug holes in the bullpen, there are two worthwhile, fair-priced solutions available, but the Mets don’t seem to have the financial flexibility to get the deals done.

Put it this way: if Matthews and Cora get on the field often enough to truly earn their pay in 2010, then something (once again) went horribly, horribly wrong for the New York Mets. In contrast, if Beimel and Calero are signed and earn their salaries, two roles in the Mets’ bullpen were filled quite efficiently and effectively. You tell me which is more likely to have a significant impact on a successful season — overused bench players or effective relievers?

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Slow Start for Kelvim Escobar

In a shocking turn of events, Mets reliever Kelvim Escobar has suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder problems — to the point where he is expected to begin the season on the disabled list.

It is stunning news, considering that Escobar proved he was completely capable of picking up, gripping, and softly tossing a baseball only a week ago. But he felt some “weakness” and has been shut down from throwing activities.

Per The New York Times:

Escobar, who is experiencing weakness and discomfort in his right shoulder, is not even playing catch on flat ground. The plan is to start again on Monday and then see what happens. That means he will almost certainly not be ready for opening day.

Hmm … if he’s “not even playing catch on flat ground” does that mean he’s playing catch …. underground?

In all seriousness, this is really bad news for Omar Minaya, who rolled the dice on Escobar. Truth is, it wasn’t a bad idea to gamble on Escobar for only $1.25M. The bad idea, was to COUNT on Escobar to fill a significant role in the bullpen.

From John Harper’s column in the Daily News:

According to one baseball executive who spoke with GM Omar Minaya about it, the Mets were immediately penciling Escobar in as a key to their bullpen, and only a couple of weeks ago Johan Santana was praising him as an important addition to the club, saying that his toughness would help set the right tone for a comeback season.

Santana’s statement was partially right — Escobar has set the tone for the season.

Harper also noted that Japanese import Ryota Igarashi — the next reliever in line for the setup role — “was less than impressive, unable to control his splitter, his signature pitch” in a bullpen session on Saturday. Certainly not good news, but it’s still early; sometimes people have bad days. Though, I am mildly concerned that Igarashi will have trouble adjusting to the size of the baseball.

With Carlos Beltran and Kelvim Escobar missing Opening Day, Francisco Rodriguez suffering from pink eye, and Jose Reyes being questioned by the FBI, the spring has not exactly gone off to the best start. However, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel — things can only get better from here, right?

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Video from PSL Training Room

MetsBlog isn’t the only website with video coverage of Mets spring training … we have some of our own available below, which is purportedly recorded from the trainer’s room at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

I say “purportedly” because the person with the camera isn’t exactly an expert on baseball, nor even a Mets fan. But he was the best cameraman we could hire on the meager MetsToday budget … and, well, you get what you pay for.

The quality isn’t great, so it’s hard to tell who is getting the back rub, but the videographer claims it’s “one of the Mets catchers” (a good bet, considering that half the players in camp don the tools of ignorance).

My money is on Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco … though, for all I know this is re-used video of Ramon Castro from last spring.

If you can positively identify exactly who this is, please let us know in the comments.

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Is That a Balk?

Check out the video of Japanese hurler Ryota Igarashi posted by Matt Cerrone at MetsBlog:

OK, watch it again.

One more time, please.

Is it me, or is “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd running through Igarashi’s head when he comes to the set from the stretch position?

All that footwork ain’t gonna fly come game time. He’s balking, and umpires will call it. I vaguely remember other Japanese imports having similar hitches and hesitations in their motion, which caused problems in their MLB rookie seasons. Apparently the rules are a little different in NPB.

I don’t bring this up to be negative, but in the hopes that someone (Dan Warthen) takes note and adjusts his routine accordingly now rather than later. Left uncorrected all spring, it could turn out to be a major issue.

By the way, big kudos to Matt Cerrone for his massive, multi-channel, multimedia coverage of spring training. He’s like James Brown — the hardest-working man in the Mets blogosphere.

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What, Me Worry?

For most of the winter, I’ve been whining, opining, and complaining about the Mets’ inability to address the concerns of their ballclub.

However, now that pitchers and catchers have reported, hope springs eternal, and all of my worries have subsided. After all, we keep hearing wonderful, reassuring quotes from everyone in Port St. Lucie.

For example …

Kelvim Escobar’s arm does not worry me, because he CAN in fact “grip a baseball”, and is only experiencing “weakness”, rather than pain. Further, he says that he is going to be fine. Whew!

I’m not worried about Jose Reyes, because he says he’s happy to be here!

I’m not worried that Carlos Beltran expressed displeasure with the way the Mets handled his injury and surgery, because he also said that he is no longer upset.

I’m also not worried because …

Jose Reyes says he’s happy to be a Met!

Sandy Koufax said that Oliver Perez has talent. What else would I need to hear?

Jason Bay says that the Mets’ roster is filled with talent.

Angel Pagan said that the Mets have a great team on paper.

Angel Pagan also says he has learned from his baserunning mistakes.

Everyone and his brother says that the Mets should be good as long as everyone stays healthy.

Jose Reyes says take a look at his new custom-made cleats!

Rod Barajas said that the Mets were always his first choice.

Luis Castillo says he lost a few pounds in the offseason and is looking to get back to Gold Glove caliber defense.

Keith Hernandez said that Daniel Murphy has the tools to be OK at first base.

Mike Pelfrey says he’s unhappy about his 2009 performance, and he’s going to establish a secondary pitch.

John Maine has assured us he’s healthy and ready to go.

Jose Reyes says he’s happy to be playing baseball again!

Jason Bay says he has no worries about Citi Field affecting his game.

Jerry Manuel said the Mets will work on their fundamentals.

Jerry Manuel has also said the goal is to improve their “interior defense”.

Jerry Manuel additionally said the Mets hitters will focus on home runs.

Johan Santana says that he is the best pitcher in the NL East.

David Wright whispered said that the Mets’ goal is to win the World Series.

He won’t say it, but Jose Reyes is a modern-day E.F. Hutton.

Considering all of the above — particularly, what everyone has been saying — I am feeling very confident in the Mets chances in 2010. Bottom line is this: as long as I keep hearing good quotes, I have nothing to worry about.

Ya know what I’m sayin’ ?

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