Archive: October 10th, 2007

Will Yankees Cross the TriBoro?

This whole Joe Torre – leaving thing seems to have a number of Yankees with their panties in a bunch. Two hardcore loyalists — Mariano Rivera and his batterymate Jorge Posada — have suggested that if Torre goes, they’ll go too.

And go where, pray tell?

It just so happens the crosstown New York Mets are in the market — desperately — for both a starting catcher and bullpen help. Wouldn’t it be the best slap in the face to George Steinbrenner — the ultimate demonstration — for these two Yankee icons to play in the Mets’ orange and blue?

OK, maybe it would be a bigger slap to head north to Boston. But the Red Sox aren’t replacing Jason Varitek, and Mo might prefer to stick around NYC to keep an eye on his steakhouse, Mo’s New York Grill. Staying where they’re comfortable, in New York City, with the potential to be on the back pages of the tabloids and a pebble in George’s shoe, would be a fine way to express their displeasure. They’d also be ideal pieces to the New York Mets’ 2008 World Series puzzle.

This is all conjecture, of course. Both Posada and Rivera can say what they will, but the bottom line is, we all know they’re going to return to the Yankee pinstripes in 2008 — and likely retire as career Yanks.

But in the meantime, we can dream, can’t we?


Minor Options

As noted on MetsBlog and unofficially reported by Baseball America, the Mets have assigned some prospects to the fall leagues and released Lino Urdaneta, Jon Adkins, and Ricky Ledee.

If you read the Baseball America report, there were some other notable actions:

  • Jae Seo granted free-agency
  • Lew Ford outrighted off 40-man roster
  • Brad Sullivan granted free-agency
  • J.R. House outrighted off 40-man roster

Also, not noted at BA was that the Nats outright another former Mets pitcher, Mike Bacsik. He’s no great shakes, but no worse than, say, Brian Lawrence. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a filler option in AAA.

Seo has been abysmal since leaving Rick Peterson and the Mets. Would he be worth a flyer to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation? Why the heck not? At worst he’d be decent depth in AAA.

Ford is probably not worth picking up, but he has been a regular / semi-regular outfielder in a Major League lineup for a few years, showing some pop in 2004-2005. He could be a good righthanded bat off the bench.

Sullivan was once a #1 pick, he’s a 25-year-old pitcher not far removed from leading the NCAA in strikeouts two years in a row and pitching for Team USA. He was overworked in college, though, and has battled health issues as a pro. Scouts like his wicked slider, composure, and bulldog demeanor. Who knows, he could be worth a gamble.

The J.R. House thing I don’t get, as I was of the assumption that he was part of the Orioles future behind the dish — perhaps he’s not moved fast enough, as he’s already 27. However, he has hit at every level, with some power. His main issue has been his arm, but he has enough bat to be used as a backup catcher / first baseman / outfielder. If the Mets don’t re-sign Ramon Castro, he could be considered.

Take a look at that Baseball America article and let me know if I missed anyone of note.


Check with Eck

So the “buzz” surrounding the Mets today is David Eckstein.

Now, before we go nutty about the possibilities, understand that there has been no talk from anyone inside the Mets’ organization regarding Eckstein. Rather, it is pure speculation tossed out by Ken Rosenthal and Joel Sherman. (Actually, Rosenthal might have come up with the idea after reading Sherman’s column.)

Here’s the irony: Paul LoDuca is to Jason Kendall as Luis Castillo is to Eckstein. In other words, Eckstein is essentially the same player as Castillo, so if you’re on board with bringing Castillo back, but he doesn’t return, then you’re probably cool with Eckstein coming to New York.

David Eckstein is 32, the same age as Castillo. They’re both scrappy, heady ballplayers who play hard, can bunt well, run the bases intelligently and with good speed — they’re fairly equal in doing “all the little things”. They both have World Series rings, so they “know how to win”. They’d both fit nicely in the #2 hole, and they both play above-average defense. They also both are punch and judy hitters who spray the ball to all shallow areas of the outfield — but they make consistent contact and are good hit-and-run men. Additionally, they’re both tenacious and annoying little pests, always fighting and seeming to come up with the bloop hit or diving play to break their opponent’s back — the kind of guy you want on your team, but not playing against you.

If there are any differences between the two, Castillo will probably walk more often and have a higher OBP. He also has more experience turning the DP from the second base side. Further, Castillo can hit from both sides of the plate. If (a big if at that) Castillo’s knees are healthy, he might steal a few more bases. Otherwise, they’re basically the same player.

What I like about having either Eckstein or Castillo — in addition to the above — is that they both hit well from the right side, which means Ruben Gotay could have an opportunity to stick around another year and get some ABs on Thursday afternoons against righthanders (assuming the planets line up according to Willie Randolph’s master plan).

Now, if there is any truth at all to Ed Coleman’s remark that Luis Castillo is a “bad influence”, I’d think the Mets would consider Eckstein a top candidate for second base. However, I get the feeling — at this point in time — that they’re leaning toward Castillo as their #1 choice.


Refund Application

If you were like me, and Toasty Joe, you had a few (thousand) Yankee fan “friends” email to you a “NEW YORK METS TO NEW YORK YANKEES FAN CONVERSION APPLICATION”.

Well Toasty Joe fired back with a much more hysterical NEW YORK YANKEES FAN REFUND APPLICATION.

It’s great stuff and not to be missed. Be sure to have pillows or bubble wrap strewn around your chair, in case you fall off it from laughter.


Mets: Where are the Trading Chips?

The Mets have holes to fill this winter — that’s obvious. We’ve looked at the potential free agent pool, and it doesn’t appear to have much depth in regard to the Mets’ needs. Therefore, the Mets likely will explore the trade route in order to strengthen the club for 2008. Oh, just one problem:

There isn’t much to trade.

Let’s take a look at the players who are currently on the 40-man roster, and will be the Mets’ property when 2007 contracts expire. I’ve taken the liberty of splitting them into three groups: Won’t be traded, Can’t Be Traded, Untradeable (due to health), and Trading Chips.

Won’t Be Traded

Moises Alou
Carlos Beltran
Orlando Hernandez
John Maine
Oliver Perez
Jose Reyes
David Wright

I could be wrong about El Duque, Maine and Perez. Certainly, Maine or Perez would have to be involved in a major blockbuster — the type that would net a Roy Oswalt or a Victor Martinez. But I’m guessing that Mets management would prefer to hold onto all of these guys.

Can’t Be Traded

Carlos Delgado
Pedro Martinez
Billy Wagner

Some of the MetsToday faithful are anxious to send Billy away. However he, like Pedro, has a full no-trade clause. Delgado has declining skills and a guaranteed $20M left on his contract. Maybe I’m nuts, but I highly doubt the Mets can move him.


Ambiorix Burgos
Juan Padilla
Duaner Sanchez
Jason Vargas

Burgos underwent TJ surgery, Vargas had a less serious elbow surgery performed (bone spur), and both Padilla and Sanchez are huge question marks after missing all of 2007.

Trading Chips

Adam Bostick
Endy Chavez
Willie Collazo
Pedro Feliciano
Carlos Gomez
Ruben Gotay
Aaron Heilman
Anderson Hernandez
Philip Humber
Ben Johnson
Lastings Milledge
Guillermo Mota
Carlos Muniz
Mike Pelfrey
Scott Schoeneweis
Joe Smith

Yeah, that’s a fairly long list — better than a baker’s dozen. But hold on there, do we really believe that Mota, Bostick, Collazo, Muniz, or Johnson can land anyone of signficance? Those are throw-in guys. I doubt any would even bring back someone worthwhile in a salary dump.

So let’s cut the list down:

Realistic Trading Chips

Endy Chavez
Pedro Feliciano
Carlos Gomez
Ruben Gotay
Aaron Heilman
Anderson Hernandez
Philip Humber
Lastings Milledge
Mike Pelfrey
Scott Schoeneweis
Joe Smith

First of all, I’d be very surprised if the Mets traded Endy Chavez. But who knows, if they re-sign Marlon Anderson and decide to keep Carlos Gomez around, maybe Endy goes. Yet if he is offered, what could he possibly bring back? A cheapo team like the Marlins, Nats, or Devil Rays could be interested, but none have a desperate need for a fourth outfielder who may or may not be talented enough to play centerfield every day.

Further, as stated before, AHern doesn’t have much value. Sorry, but slick-fielding middle infielders who don’t hit are fairly easy to find. Mario Mendoza had no value in the 1980s, and AHern has none now.

Now in the case of Ruben Gotay, you have a kid who may or may not have played over his head in 2007. Not too many teams are looking for a second baseman, and those that are, probably are more comfortable with their in-house options. Off the top of my head I’d imagine the Rockies will need a second sacker if they don’t re-sign Kaz Matsui. Otherwise I’m having a hard time thinking of a team that might be interested.

I’m also having a hard time believing the Mets can trade Scott Schoeneweis for anyone that can help in 2008. Maybe you agree. Let’s cut the list down again, removing The Show, Gotay, AHern, and Endy for the reasons above.

Realistic Trading Chips – Adjusted

Pedro Feliciano
Carlos Gomez
Aaron Heilman
Philip Humber
Lastings Milledge
Mike Pelfrey
Joe Smith

Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Take a good, long look at that sparse list of tradeable chips. That’s what Omar has to work with this winter.

Consider the following:

1. Feliciano, Heilman, and Smith are probably your best in-house options for middle- and setup relief in 2008.

2. Humber and Pelfrey are two of only three young pitchers the Mets have in their organization who could be ready to pitch at the MLB level by 2009. (Kevin Mulvey is the other).

3. Gomez and Milledge were corner outfield starters in 2007. Like Humber and Pelfrey, they constitute two-thirds of the Mets’ top position prospects in regard to the near future.

Obviously, you have to give up something to get something. For the Mets to make a deal of any consequence, they’ll have to give up either significant pieces of their future, or the better arms of an already disastrous bullpen. Tough call.

What makes things more difficult is that the Mets may think more highly of their own players compared to their perceived value on the open market. Sure, the Mets think that Pelfrey is the bomb, but nearly every other organization has one or two or three Pelfreys — same with Humber. To get a proven MLB player would probably require BOTH Pelfrey AND Humber — if recent trades are any indication. We may love the speed of Carlos Gomez, but opposing scouts question his bat. Lastings Milledge could indeed be the next Gary Sheffield but there are a large number of clubs who see him as a potential headache — deserved or not, that’s the opinion viewed by many on the outside.

Omar has his work cut out for him this winter, there’s no doubt. Even if you disagree on some of my opinions stated here, you have to agree the Mets don’t have a whole lot to work with. Finding the key pieces necessary for a 2008 postseason bid will take some remarkable creativity.


Suzyn Waldman Cries

As far as I’m concerned, the baseball season ended on September 30th.

However, it is damn near impossible to live in the NY-Metro area and avoid the fact that the Yankees were in the postseason while the Mets weren’t. Besides the constant media coverage of the greatest baseball team of all time, and the daily reminders of “the worst collapse in baseball history”, there are the oodles and oodles of fair-weather Yankee fans who jump out of the woodwork and become especially obnoxious, belittling, and loud when they find out you are a Mets fan. (Same people who gave up on “their team” back in May.)

And though I try not to have sour grapes, and avoid wishing bad tidings for our rivals (bad karma), I couldn’t help but pass along this tidbit from the Awful Announcing blog:

Suzyn Waldman Cries On-Air Following Yankees Defeat

I won’t even get into how ludicrous this behavior is, nor how damaging it is to other women trying to make a living as a sports announcer. And apparently, she did not see the movie A League of Their Own, in which Tom Hanks clearly states “there’s no crying in baseball!”.

What a shame, the poor Yankees season is over and poor Joe Torre is going to have to collect his $7M salary next year sitting home all alone. What a shame, after they worked so gosh-darn hard all these years. Boo hoo.

Warning: the surgeon general recommends that you do not follow the above link if you are emotionally unstable, manic-depressive, or suffer from hyperacusis.