Tag: ken rosenthal

The Mets and Milton Bradley

Ken Rosenthal’s recent column reports that the Mets, among other teams, have been inquiring about the Cubs’ outfielder Milton Bradley.

Wow … where do we start?

Never mind Bradley’s troubled past. We’ve already learned that nice guys finish second-to-last, so stirring up the pot with a perennial malcontent won’t necessarily make things any worse. Let’s pretend Bradley is a model citizen and analyze him only according to the numbers.

Doing that, what you have is a 10-year veteran of MLB who managed 400 at-bats or more in a season only twice. Despite the fact that he supposedly has (or had) a world of talent with a rare combination of speed and power, he’s hit as many as 20 HRs in a season only once — as a Texas Ranger — and has never stolen more than 17 bases (in fact he hasn’t stolen more than 5 since 2006). His career batting average is a ho-hum .277. The statheads like his career OBP (.371) and his OPS (.821) and I have to agree he does have an ability to get on base. His fielding was at one time a strength, but as he’s aged that facet of his game has regressed (due in part to injuries collected over the years).

Now add in the fact that he is owed $21M over the next two years of a back-loaded contract. Is that money worth a guy who likely will play as often as Moises Alou, be a liability in the field, and hit like Dan Murphy (but with more walks) ? Wouldn’t the Mets be better off picking up someone like Eric Hinske or Austin Kearns on a one-year, $600,000 deal instead?

If you’re on the fence, then it’s time to consider the intangible issues. The old-school crowd likes his passion and enthusiasm, but shakes its head at his well-publicized temper tantrums, arguments with umpires, occasional lapses in focus, and similar bouts of self-destruction. You may be OK with taking on all that baggage if you believed that Bradley was the type of guy who was a game-changer, or could carry a team on his back. There might have been a time in his career when that was true, but if so those days are long gone. And again, even if you’re OK with the baggage because you think you need what he can provide offensively, why wouldn’t you just rescue Carl Everett from independent ball? He’d probably play for the league minimum, and give you a similar package. Or bring back Gary Sheffield, who actually WAS a model citizen in 2009 (and has appeared in more games over the past three years).

The only thing that could justify the Mets talking to the Cubs about Milton Bradley is a more elaborate, diabolical plan to drastically change the current roster. For example, perhaps Bradley is necessary part of a salary dumping deal that would also send Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee to Flushing, in return for a package that includes one of the Mets’ underperforming but comparatively inexpensive starting pitchers and Luis Castillo — which in turn would clear the way for Orlando Hudson to sign on as a free agent. If nothing else, it would be a splash, and proof the Mets were committed to making significant changes to their ballclub.

But if the buzz between the teams is a simpler matter of Bradley heading to New York by himself, I’m not sure what sense it makes.


White Sox Sign Bartolo Colon

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago White Sox have signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year contract.

Nice pickup by the ChiSox, who simply needed an extra guy to vie for a back-end rotation spot. They add Colon to the competition for the #5 slot and as insurance behind Jose Contreras, who is coming off an injury.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen the Mets bring in Colon, despite his physical similarity to Shamu. Despite his weight issues — which no doubt have contributed to his health issues — when he’s on the mound, he’s a tough competitor and knows how to win. In fact I would be happy if the Mets brought in four or five guys of Colon’s caliber to compete for the last two spots in the starting rotation. The more the merrier, and to me it’s better to take chances on pitchers who have succeeded in the past (Colon, Pedro Martinez, Freddy Garcia, etc.) than guys who have never been more than mediocre (i.e., Tim Redding). But hey, what do I know?

One good thing for the Mets about this signing: it likely means that Freddy Garcia is off Chicago’s radar. The question, of course, is whether the Mets will roll the dice on Garcia, or let yet another starting pitcher with postseason experience elude their grasp.


Say No To Dennys Reyes

According to Ken Rosenthal, free-agent lefthanded Weeble Dennys Reyes is “drawing interest” from the Mets (among other teams).

Please Omar, just say no.

Reyes is coming off the second-best year of his career (ironically, in a walk year!), and is poised to fall back to the bottom of the barrel. Other than the season past and an extraordinary 2006, Reyes has been a remarkably mediocre pitcher — no matter what role he’s been placed in. His career ERA is over 4 and a quarter, career WHIP one and a half. Yes he’s held lefthanded hitters to a .237 average but righties crush him to the tune of an .810 OPS. He’ll turn 32 shortly after Opening Day, so he’s not getting any younger, and he has a history of nagging shoulder and elbow problems — both of which are due to terrible pitching mechanics. His listed weight of 250 is probably closer to 275, and not due to “big bones” — if he was righthanded I might mistake him for Rich Garces. Considering all these factors, it’s absolutely laughable to hear that he was seeking a 3-year contract earlier this winter.

I’m on board with the idea of the Mets getting another lefthanded pitcher in the bullpen, if not a “crossover” than at least a LOOGY. But not this one. Why throw years and money at someone like this when you can get the same performance at a much cheaper rate from Ricardo Rincon?


Braves Targeting Lowe

Per several sources, agent Scott Boras is meeting with the Atlanta Braves to talk about Derek Lowe.

Lowe had reportedly been offered a 3-year, $35M contract by the New York Mets. Boras is seeking at least four years at around $16M per season for his client.

In desperate need to add starting pitching, the Atlanta ended trade talks with the Padres for Jake Peavy a month ago, and most recently were spurned by longtime Brave John Smoltz, who just agreed to a one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Seeing the talent pool thin, and Lowe’s price tag dropping to below-market standards, Braves GM Frank Wren reached out to Boras. In addition, manager Bobby Cox met with Lowe in Atlanta, and Chipper Jones placed a phone call to the free agent pitcher in hopes of turning him on to “America’s Team”.

Despite this three-way blitz from Atlanta, Ken Rosenthal claims,

“From what I understand, the Braves are not interested in going beyond the three-year, $36 million offer from the Mets… I still don’t see the Braves going where Scott Boras will want them to go.”

Well then Ken, they’re putting on an Oscar-winning performance in the art of the bluff.

Meanwhile, the Mets are standing firm with an offer that pales in comparison to what Carlos Silva received last year from the Seattle Mariners.

While they have Boras’ ear, one must wonder if the Braves will also inquire about Oliver Perez, another free agent handled by the superagent? After all, the 27-year-old lefty has a 6-4 record and 3.46 ERA, including one shutout, in his career against Atlanta.

Actually, the best scenario for Boras is for the Braves to sign Lowe, which would in turn jack up the price on Perez for the Mets. But while the Mets continue to play chicken, the market for both pitchers continues to swell — some reports have the Phillies and Brewers looking at Lowe, and the Angels could be in the bidding for either pitcher.

What if the Mets lose out on BOTH Lowe AND Perez? The next-best starter on the market is probably Jon Garland, who would be a nice innings-eater at the back end of the rotation, but doesn’t project to be much else — even with a change to the NL. After Garland, the quality drops off considerably, with Tim Redding and Randy Wolf — both of whom have been linked to the Mets this winter — leading the pack.

This should be a significant concern for Omar Minaya, who as of now has two healthy starting pitchers heading into spring training (which by the way is only 36 days away). Should Lowe, Perez, Garland, and Redding sign elsewhere — which is a distinct possibility — Minaya’s best chance of putting together a championship rotation will begin with a novena. Hope he has knee pads.

Take a look for yourself at the starters available after Perez and Lowe:

Healthy, but Mediocre to Adequate:

Jon Garland
Tim Redding
Randy Wolf
Braden Looper

Healthy, but Awful to Mediocre:

Chuck James
Livan Hernandez
Odalis Perez
Sidney Ponson
Josh Fogg
Elmer Dessens

Good Potential, Questionable Health:

Ben Sheets
Jason Jennings
Mark Prior
Andy Pettitte
Mark Mulder
Curt Schilling

Questionable Potential, Questionable Health:

Bartolo Colon
Pedro Martinez
Freddy Garcia
Orlando Hernandez
Tom Glavine
Tony Armas

Now, let’s consider a few things. First, Tom Glavine is not coming back, and neither is Braden Looper. In addition, the Mets won’t roll the dice on dicey arms such as Mulder, Jennings, and Prior. They might take a chance on Freddy Garcia, and might be forced to gamble on Sheets. Pedro and El Duque would love to come back, but then it would feel like Groundhog Day. If Schilling were a possibility — which he likely isn’t — he wouldn’t be available until at least July. I’m not even going to qualify Dessens, Fogg, and Ponson. Odalis Perez and Livan Hernandez have been linked to the Mets in the past, and they could get ST invites — the question is, would we care? Pettitte would be a nice coup to annoy the crosstown Yankees, but he’s already turned down a $10M offer the Mets aren’t likely to top. Chuck James had a 9.10 ERA last year; he’s a guy who would be nice to have at AAA — not someone holding up the middle of your rotation. That leaves the underwhelming trio of Garland, Redding, and Wolf as the last men standing — they’re not necessarily coveted, but rather the default values left over when the quality has exited the market.

Should the Mets be stuck with a combination of Redding, Garland, and/or Wolf supporting the back end of their rotation, they will have no choice but to bring in Manny Ramirez. If you can’t keep the other team from scoring, then you have to outscore ’em, right?

It will be interesting to see how this drama develops over the next two weeks …


Mets After Juan Pierre?

Ken Rosenthal’s latest column suggests that the Mets are interested in Juan Pierre.

Per Rosenthal:

Imagine Jose Reyes and Juan Pierre combining for 140 stolen bases at the top of the Mets’ batting order.

The Mets may have interest in dealing for Juan Pierre.

The idea is a longshot, but the Mets have shown interest in trading for Pierre, the Dodgers’ forgotten outfielder.

To move Pierre, the Dodgers would need to assume a large chunk of his remaining salary — $10 million in 2009, $10 million in 2010 and $8.5 million in ’11.

We sort of threw this idea around back in October, as part of a “megadeal” (which looks sillier and sillier as time goes on).

To me, I don’t see the Mets going after Pierre unless it’s as part of an exchange of bad contracts — i.e., for Luis Castillo. But since the Dodgers have signed Mark Loretta, why would they want the broken-down Castillo?

Further, as Rosenthal points out in his column, the Dodgers aren’t sure whether they’ll re-sign Manny Ramirez for left field, and don’t know what they’ll get out of Andruw Jones — so Pierre is a guy who is insurance for both spots. Further, there have been rumors brewing that Matt Kemp is being dangled at the winter meetings — possibly in return for Robinson Cano.

Finally, if the Mets do in fact acquire Pierre — even with LA footing part of the bill — will they also keep Castillo? How many punch-n-judy hitters can they afford to have in their lineup?

Those of you around my age and older might remember the Cardinals of the early 1980s, who routinely featured lineups with various combinations of Lonnie Smith, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, and Vince Coleman. It was a run and gun strategy that worked well back then, when parks were larger and half used astroturf, but I’m not sure how it would perform in today’s game. As an old school guy, though, I’d love to see it — but I don’t believe the Mets have the chutzpah to try it. They’ll let someone else do it first, then copy them.

I’m still intrigued by the idea of taking on LA’s other bad contract — that of Andruw Jones. If you’re going to gamble, gamble big, no? Throw your chips on a guy who could be a monster, rather than one whose best-case scenario is an OPS in the .600s.

The only way I see Juan Pierre wearing a Mets uniform in 2009 is if the Dodgers sign Manny, the Mets move Castillo AND Ryan Church, and the Dodgers agree to pay a significant portion of Pierre’s salary — which will be difficult for them to do if they’re paying Manny a king’s ransom.


Tigers Acquire Gerald Laird

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Texas Rangers have traded Gerald Laird to the Detroit Tigers for AA pitcher Guillermo Moscoso.

Per Rosenthal:

“The Detroit Tigers have filled one of their prime offseason needs, acquiring catcher Gerald Laird from the Rangers for Double-A right-hander Guillermo Moscoso and a second prospect, according to a major-league source. . . . The second prospect in the deal is a 17-year-old who spent last season in the Dominican Summer League, the source said.”

Not huge news, but if true this deal removes the Tigers from bidding on free agent catcher Jason Varitek. In addition, it may put the brakes on the Rangers trading Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

For those unfamiliar with Laird, he’s a strong receiver and a so-so hitter. A younger, righthanded-hitting version of Brian Schneider. There were some tepid rumors earlier in the offseason that the Mets were inquiring about Laird but such an acquisition didn’t fit with their desire to add more punch behind the plate.

Moscoso is an intriguing prospect — a 25-year-old Venezuelan originally signed by now-Mets scouting assistant Ramon Pena. He didn’t crack the Tigers’ top 30 prospects this time last year, but was #10 this winter according to Baseball America. His age, injury history (shoulder surgery in 2005, soreness in 2008), and underwhelming stuff (90-91 MPH fastball, so-so curve and change) make him a questionable return for a starting MLB catcher. Perhaps that mystery 17-year-old is another F-Mart?

Let’s wait to see the official word on this … something seems missing.


Mets Want Orlando Hudson

Per Ken Rosenthal:

The Mets are desperate to move second baseman Luis Castillo to create a spot for free agent Orlando Hudson. The only way to do it would be to exchange Castillo’s contract for another of similar value, but lots of luck. When the Mets asked the Rangers about a Castillo-for-Vicente Padilla — a swap that would require the Rangers to move Ian Kinsler to left field — they were told, “No thank you.” …

Is this a rumor, or speculation? We’re never quite sure with Rosenthal, who tends to blend the two.

If true, it’s not much of a scoop to hear that the Mets want to move Castillo — we’ve been hearing that since October 1. And it’s not surprising they’d be interested in Hud-Dog, especially since Hudson himself has stated he’d “love to play for the Mets and with Jose Reyes”.

Also not surprising that the pitching-starved Rangers would reject such a trade offer.

What IS surprising is that the Mets would think the Rangers would have any interest in Castillo, since they already have one of the best young second basemen in the game in Ian Kinsler. Also mildly surprising that there is any talk about Castillo when the Mets #1, #2, and #3 needs right now are pitching.

I know, I know … not much of a rumor … but anytime Rosenthal mentions the Mets, I figure you may be interested.


Buzz Around Burnett

The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies, Orioles, and Blue Jays are all in pursuit of A.J. Burnett, according to various sources.

Supposedly, the Yankees are going after Burnett fairly hard, and would like to sign both him and C.C. Sabathia this winter — and may also extend an offer to Derek Lowe. I for one wouldn’t put it past the Bronx Bombers from signing all three of the top starting pitchers available on the free agent market. They can certainly afford it.

Buster Olney believes a guaranteed fifth year will seal the deal for Burnett. Ken Rosenthal thinks the Red Sox are interested, perhaps to keep him from pitching against them.

I’m not sure any team will give Burnett five years, based on his injury history. As for Boston’s interest, that may have waned since this morning’s trade of Coco Crisp for Ramiro Ramirez. Obtaining Ramirez means they can move Justin Masterson to the rotation. The Bosox already have four strong starters returning in Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and Tim Wakefield, in addition to youngster Clay Buchholz. Of course, a team can never have enough pitching, so perhaps they will be after a free agent starter such as Burnett or Derek Lowe, who reportedly would like very much to return to Boston. Further, one of those returning arms could be used as trade bait — such as in a deal to the Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Cubs’ retention of Ryan Dempster suggests that they will be less active in their pursuit of a big-name starter — and increases the demand for Burnett and the other starters still available.

Where do the Mets fit in on all this?

So far, no buzz has suggested interest in Burnett by the Mets, probably due to his injuries and possibly also the fact that until 2008, he was a .500 pitcher. Fishy, isn’t it, A.J.’s best season came in a walk year?