Tag: adam dunn

Oliver Perez Signed

Finally, the Mets signed Oliver Perez.

The contract is a very fair three years at $36M. Not too much for the Mets to feel hamstrung in the event Ollie spends more time as Mr. Hyde, and not so little that Perez should feel slighted. And in fact, the three-year contract makes a lot of sense for the still-young lefty, who at the end will be only 30 years old and — if he plays his cards right — could be in line for a mega deal.

Personally, I’m very happy Oliver Perez is back with the Mets. He’s one of the few members of the team who has some style and character, and plays the entire game with passion. Yes, that passion sometimes is his downfall, and he has yet to learn how to avoid falling apart and beating himself when things go poorly. However, it’s part of who he is, and I enjoy watching “colorful” and unique ballplayers.

As we all know, Ollie is as gifted as any lefthander in MLB. Whether he can “figure it out” and get his mental skills to reach the levels of his physical gifts remains to be seen. Should that connection ever occur, the Mets could have the best lefty in the NL, a dominant Cy Young candidate. More likely, he’ll be the same Ollie we’ve known since 2006 — up and down, outstanding at times and awful at others. In the end, that’s OK, because the bottom line is this: he takes the ball every five days, and he goes into the 7th inning the majority of the time. Yes, there are days he can’t get out of the fourth (or third) frame, but for more than half his starts, he’ll get past the sixth. Considering that both John Maine and Johan Santana are coming off surgeries, and the back end is full of question marks, one cannot underestimate the value of an above-average starter making 30-32 starts. It’s easy to forget the days that people like Brian Lawrence, Jose Lima, Dave Williams, and Chan Ho Park took the mound too many times.

With Oliver Perez in the fold, we can assume that the Mets are done assembling arms for the starting rotation — though, I’d still like to see Pedro Martinez brought back on a minor league deal. They might pick up another scrub for the back end, but you can forget Ben Sheets — at this point, it ain’t gonna happen. Hopefully, Omar Minaya will now focus on bringing in one or two more middle relief arms (Chad Cordero?) and a power-hitting outfielder. At this point, I no longer care if it’s a lefthanded hitter (Adam Dunn? Bobby Abreu?) or a righty (Manny Ramirez!) — a strong hitting lefty is still better than anything that Fernando Tatis and Danny Murphy can produce.

Oh, and how about picking up Pudge Rodriguez on the cheap, to platoon with Brian Schneider? He’ll come cheap.

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Mets Sign an Outfielder

The Mets’ front office is really cooking with gas now! Hot off the heels of the Casey Fossum pickup, the team has now added Cory Sullivan to their outfield, signing the 29-year-old to a $600,000 contract that includes another $300,000 in incentives.

Obviously I can’t contain my excitement … especially when this signing comes so close after the Fossum deal. The Bisons are starting to look like a real AAA team — one that might actually provide competent support during the year in the event of injuries to players on the big club’s 25-man roster.

It does seem strange, though, that the Mets would scoop up another light-hitting, good fielding, centerfielder who hits from the left side. Endy Chavez was surplus last year, and the Mets already have Angel Pagan and Jeremy Reed signed to guaranteed MLB contracts, not to mention Marlon Anderson. Oh, and there’s Jason Cooper and Rule 5 (minor league phase) pick Carl Loadenthal, and the imminent arrival of Fernando Martinez. Considering that neither Carlos Beltran nor Ryan Church will ever be taken out of games for defensive purposes, all these Endy types are overkill, no? You can only put in one player at a time to play left field, after all.

FYI, Sullivan’s career: 355 games, 927 ABs, 8 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB, .279 AVG., .330 OBP, .391 SLG. He does have the reputation of being a very good fielder, though the sabermetrics don’t necessarily support it.

The only way this signing makes sense is if it is a small part of something bigger brewing. For example, maybe the Mets are about to ship Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy to Colorado for Aaron Cook or Jeff Francis, and will then sign Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez to play the corners — both of whom WOULD require late-inning defensive replacements. Pipe dream, I know, but dreams are about all we Mets have left at this point in the Hot Stove season.

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Lineup Comparison: Phillies

Consider this: the “team to beat” is the Phillies, so the Mets’ focus should be on putting a team on the field that is better head-to-head. I don’t believe that the Mets’ pitching staff — even with the game shortened to seven innings — is head and shoulders above the Phillies’. Where the Mets have an advantage at the end of the game, the Phillies appear to be stronger through the first seven. So the separating factor between the two teams is more likely to come down to offense — an area where they were exact equals in 2008, tying for second in the NL with 799 runs apiece.

The question is, can each team score almost 800 runs again, and/or, will one team have an offensive edge?

Comparing the two lineups, it’s a close call. The Mets have Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and most likely Luis Castillo occupying the first four spots in the lineup. The Phillies counter with a top four of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. We can argue which team is stronger leadoff through cleanup, but I tend to think that — even if Dan Murphy is the Mets’ #2 hitter — the teams are pretty close to equal. Similarly, the bottom of the orders are comparable — right now it looks like the Brian Schneider / Ramon Castro platoon hitting eighth vs. the Chris Coste / Carlos Ruiz tandem.

Where the edge will come, then, is in batting spots 5 through 7. It’s my cockamamie theory that the team strongest 5-7 will be the NL East champions in 2009.

Take a look at the comparison side by side:

Raul Ibanez | Carlos Delgado
Jayson Werth / Geoff Jenkins | Ryan Church
Pedro Feliz / Gregg Dobbs | Fernando Tatis / Daniel Murphy

The order above is interchangeable, but what I tried to do was pair up the combinations that most closely matched. Ibanez and Delgado are similar in that they’re both entering the twilights of their careers, but had strong enough finishes to their ’08 campaigns to provide optimism for ’09. I think this comparison, like the first four hitters, is a wash. I expect a dropoff from Ibanez due to the change in leagues and aging process, but CBP may artificially soften that downward trend. Delgado will still hit more homeruns, but Ibanez will swat more doubles and hit 25-30 points higher. In the end their runs and RBI totals should be close.

Where the Phillies really had an advantage last year was in the #6 and #7 holes, which featured any combination of Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz, Greg Dobbs, and Geoff Jenkins. The Werth / Jenkins tandem last year combined for .260 AVG. /33 HR/96 RBI production. Feliz had his typical injury-riddled year, dotted with hot streaks and cold streaks, and Dobbs might have hit a little over his head at .301. None of those players are guaranteed to repeat their performances, mind you, but all of them have enough history to lead you to believe they’ll come close.

That said, I’m not sure Church can approach the production of Werth / Jenkins (or Werth on his own, if that’s how it shakes out). Looking at each’s skillset, Church and Werth may well put up close to equal numbers. But that will only happen if Werth’s 2008 was his ceiling, AND Church can significantly increase his ability to divert pitches over the wall.

Just as concerning, I don’t know that the Tatis / Murphy experiment is going to be head and shoulders above the Pedro Feliz / Greg Dobbs combination. If Feliz can stay healthy — which is a big if — he’ll hit his typical .250, and probably hit 20-22 homers. Dobbs may not hit .300 again, but his 9 HRs and 40 RBI in 226 ABs were a followup to 10 HR and 55 RBI in 324 ABs in 2007. In other words, there’s a decent shot that the 30-year-old Dobbs provides similar numbers in ’09. If so, that gives the Phillies a combined #7 hitter with a line somewhere in the neighborhood of a .270 AVG., 30 HR, and 100 RBI. Can Tatis and Murphy match that? Again, there would have to be either a status quo or decline on the Phillies’ duo, and a trend upward for the Mets. Not impossible, but another case of hopes and wishes.

Of course, the Mets could remove all doubt by signing Manny Ramirez. However, all indications suggest that won’t happen. In fact, the Mets likely won’t sign either of the other two impact bats still available — Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu. Beyond those three, there might be a few veteran hitters who, with a little luck, could tip the lineups into the Mets’ favor — someone like Andruw Jones, Kevin Millar, Garret Anderson, Jonny Gomes, or Ken Griffey. Millar, in particular, would seem to be a nice fit, as he could spell both Delgado and Church, and/or be the platoon partner for Murphy in left, and provide a solid RH bat off the bench. But, Millar could be looking for a regular job elsewhere, and even if he is interested in wearing the orange and blue, Tony Bernazard still holds a grudge against him for crossing the picket line in 1994 (Bernazard was an important pencil-pusher for the MLBPA back then).

But in the end, none of the free agents appear to be on the Mets’ radar, and it’s hard to see a situation where the Mets can import one via trade. Their top trading chips for an MLB position player are Murphy, Jon Niese, and Fernando Martinez, and they’d probably have to trade at least two of those three to get back an impact bat. The chance of that happening is about as likely as Eric Byrnes arriving in return for Luis Castillo — slim and none.

In short, the Mets and Phillies, as currently constituted, appear to be equal again offensively. The Phillies are probably done making offseason moves. So, if the Mets can acquire one more big bat, it would give them an edge — at least, offensively.

Unfortunately, the Mets still have to make three or four moves to improve the pitching staff, and their “one thing at a time” approach suggests that bat may not make it by spring training.

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Phillies Sign Raul Ibanez

According to various reports, the Phillies have signed Raul Ibanez to fill the left field position vacated by Pat Burrell.

Sounds good to me. First, it keeps Ibanez off the Mets — let him stumble around CBP rather than Citi Field next season. At 36 years old, his all-around skills are diminishing quickly and he’s simply not worth the three years and $30M the Phils have given him. Though Ibanez supposedly is a good clubhouse presence and a fine, upstanding citizen, that doesn’t replace the fact he’s never played on a winner, and it’s too much money and too many years.

Of course, he’ll likely prove me wrong and have a monster season in homer-happy Citizen’s Bank Park, which I suspect was built according to Ripken Baseball dimensions.

Besides taking too many years and too much money from Philadelphia, I like that it puts another lefthanded hitter in the middle of their lineup. Now, it’s time to stop fooling around and re-sign Oliver Perez. Give him 4 years / $55M. Let him have the patented Boras opt-out after two if necessary.

Further, I also believe that Ibanez — who has spent his entire career in the AL — will have trouble adjusting to the National League. Watch him struggle for at least the first few months as he faces pitchers he’s never seen before.

With Ibanez off the table, what corner outfielder to the Mets go after next? Unfortunately, probably Bobby Abreu, who is worse than Ibanez. I don’t care that Johan Santana wants Abreu — the Venezuelan national team plays in March. In April we play the real games, and need real players. If the Mets are hell-bent on putting a circus clown in left field, let’s make it Adam Dunn. Or heck, why not Pat the Bat?

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