Archive: October 25th, 2007

Buzz: Harden, Silva

I’ll admit to being slightly late on these tidbits, but feel they should be covered.


Rich Harden

MetsBlog deciphered from a recent Oakland A’s Mailbag that Rich Harden would be traded before Danny Haren or Joe Blanton. However, after reading the A’s Mailbag, it appears to me that trading Harden is the opinion of beat writer Mychael Urban rather than buzz based on “inside info”. So I wouldn’t necessarily read anything into it — and Billy Beane would never be silly enough to publicly put any of his players on the block. But, Harden was mentioned in Mets rumors last winter, and likely will be on the market again.

I’d love for the Mets to get a talent like Harden, but my gut says that he’s another Mark Prior, and will never be healthy enough to make a significant contribution. Unfortunately, my eyes tell me the same thing. Check out Carlos Gomez’s (a different Carlos Gomez) article at Hardball Times titled Bringin’ Some Serious Cheese. Gomez does an outstanding job of breaking down Harden’s delivery, complete with slo-mo video frames of it from several angles. While I don’t 100% agree with all that Gomez says, I do agree with much of it, and also see significant problems with Harden’s delivery. The three biggest issues I see are:

  1. Front shoulder flies open, putting significant strain on right shoulder.
  2. Carries the ball too long in his glove, causing ball to lag behind body. So his forward momentum is going and his arm has to work extra-hard to catch up. (Gomez blames this on focusing on the balance point and stopping his momentum; I see it as needing to get the ball out of the glove earlier — semantics.)
  3. Remains upright after release, cutting off follow-through. This puts a lot of strain of the deceleration process on the shoulder, rather than allowing the rest of the body to absorb some of the impact.

Based on Gomez’s videos, and my analysis, it’s no wonder that Harden has chronic shoulder issues. That said, he’d need to make substantial changes to his pitching mechanics in order to be consistently healthy — something next to impossible for a 25-year-old. However, it’s been done before — Roger Clemens made tweaks to his delivery in the late 1980s (after several arm injuries), and he turned out OK.

Shameless plug: Oh, and if you think I know something about pitching, and are interested in learning more (or getting lessons), visit OnBaseball.com.

Carlos Silva

According to “Shooter” Charley Walters of Minnesota’s Pioneer Press (btw can you imagine a NYC beat writer going by the nickname “Shooter” ?), Carlos Silva is seeking a 4-year contract (hat tip to MLBTradeRumors). Per “Shooter”:

“A little birdie says the Twins have offered free-agent pitcher Carlos Silva a three-year deal worth slightly more than $7 million a season. Silva, however, wants at least one more year on a contract.”

If that’s true — and if all Silva is looking for is a 4-year deal worth something under $30M — then this is a no-brainer for the Mets. He is exactly the type of workhorse the Mets can use in the middle of their rotation, and will be only 29 at the start of the 2008 season. Further, I sincerely believe he’ll enjoy slightly improved performance in the National League and in the pitcher-friendly confines of grass-lined Shea Stadium. Silva had some pretty good years in Minnesota in the past, despite being a sinkerballer on turf in a hitter’s park. He throws tons of strikes and would easily be a steady 6-7-inning, #3 or #4 starter. No, he’s not Johan, he’s not Oswalt, and he’s not Beckett — but the Mets need a guy who can eat up the innings effectively (as opposed to the way Steve Trachsel used to eat up innings). Considering that schleps like Gil Meche and Jeff Suppan received $40M contracts last winter, Silva is a great value at under $30M — I’d take him over those other two in a heartbeat.

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Bats Available

Scouring the transaction wire, it looks like a few potential bats are available.

Olmedo Saenz
Saenz was granted free agency by the Dodgers after hitting .191 in 2007. The 37-year-old was considered among the best righthanded pinch-hitters in baseball (even better than Julio Franco!) before this past season. Though he’s not as versatile as, say, Damion Easley or Jose Valentin, he does have a good glove at both infield corners (though his range is not the greatest). If Easely or Valentin do not return, he might be an ideal backup first baseman and top RH pinch-hitter. There aren’t too many solid righthanded “bench” bats on the market. If the Mets were crazy enough to give Julio Franco a 2-year deal, I don’t see why they wouldn’t offer Saenz at least a one-year contract — though please, not at the expense of Marlon Anderson!


Matt Kata

Kata was released by the Pirates. He has a good glove at a number of different positions and as a switch-hitter has some pop. Think Chris Woodward, but perhaps a better hitter. Since Willie Randolph didn’t know what to do with David Newhan, I wouldn’t think it’s a good idea to give him someone as complex as Kata — and not sure he’d be a big help anyway.

Mark Bellhorn
Don’t ask me why, but I like Bellhorn. Maybe it’s that attitude of his, the competitive fire. He can play all four infield positions and can play any of the outfield spots in a pinch. He’s a switch-hitter who kills lefties and does one of three things: hit a double, hit a homer, or strike out. OK, there’s a fourth thing — he’ll take plenty of pitches and earn walks. It wouldn’t bother me in the least to see him on the Mets’ bench in 2008. He cleared waivers and refused a minor-league assignment from the Reds.

Matthew LeCroy
Oh, if only he could play a position, he’d be worth bringing in to camp. But as Frank Robinson found out, he’s not suitable as even an emergency catcher, and he doesn’t provide enough value as a backup big-swinging first baseman. He’s available after refusing a minor-league assignment by the Twins.


J.R. House

House is a catcher, which is something the Mets do not have presently. He once had the tools to be a starting MLB catcher, especially offensively, but has been marred by injuries and at 27 is running out of time. His defense is acceptable if his bat produces, and therein lies the rub — he may project better as a backup C/1B/OF guy. The Orioles, strangely, have given up on him as he was granted free agency. He looks to me like he’d be worth taking a flyer on, but there must be a reason the O’s dropped him.

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Southpaws Available

It’s interesting that lefthanded pitchers are supposedly so valuable to MLB teams, yet there seem to be so many available. There certainly isn’t a shortage of supply of LOOGYs out there — and most of them come cheap.

This isn’t huge news, but a few lefty pitchers became available recently that may or may not fit into the Mets’ “throw paint on the wall” plans. Here are some I noticed:

Mike Bacsik
The former Met was granted free agency by the Nationals. He’s basically the poor man’s — or destitute man’s — version of Tom Glavine. A lefty soft-tosser who pitches to (lots of) contact, but is generally around the plate. I’m not sure he can break a pane of glass with his fastball, which tops out around 81 MPH. However, the guy has been hanging around forever with less than MLB stuff, so you have to respect his determination and gumption. Getting him onto the Mets’ AAA squad in 2008 would not only provide some decent depth, but also keep him from pitching against the Mets. He’s only 29, and Jamie Moyer didn’t find success until age 30, so who knows?

Mike Maroth
We’ve already covered Maroth in the article on non-tenders, and MLB.com reports that he’s been released by the Cardinals. He’s a year older than the aforementioned Bacsik, but unlike Mike has shown flashes of success in the past. Injuries have all but destroyed his chances of furthering his career, but it’s hard to count out a guy with his kind of tenacity and hardworking attitude. He’s certainly worth a minor-league contract offer.

Micah Bowie
Hmmm … two Mikes and a Micah, isn’t that special? Bowie, like Bacsik, was outrighted by the Nats and granted free agency. He had a winning record for the Nats, which is saying something. Not much, but something. He’s 32, he’s tall, and he’s less than ordinary. I’d be more interested if his last name were “Owings”.

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Updates: LoDuca, Castillo, Duaner

According to the Daily News:

  • Luis Castillo has undergone knee surgery and should be 100% by January 1, 2008.
  • Duaner Sanchez will be pitching for the Gigantes in the Dominican, starting on December 1.
  • Moises Alou’s $7.5 million team option is expected to be picked up.
  • “The Mets are not expected to re-sign pending free agent Paul Lo Duca.”

From what we understand, Castillo’s surgery was minor — cleaning up scar tissue that caused him pain and affected his mobility. It would be nice to see what his “100%” looks like in a Mets uniform in 2008. He was one heckuva player while with the Marlins, and if he can get back to near that kind of performance — have a bit more speed and range than what we saw in 2007 — then he’s the ideal candidate for the Mets’ lineup.

Though, Metsgeek thinks Jeff Kent is the ideal choice (if you didn’t yet see Chris McCown’s evaluation of the 2B candidates, click on over there as it is a good read). From a completely statistical standpoint, I agree wholeheartedly with bringing Kent back to Flushing, for many reasons. From a realistic perspective, it’s not happening. Omar Minaya has very carefully chosen certain personalities for the clubhouse, and I’d be surprised if he added the controversial Kent to the mix. The guy can still hit — he batted .302 with 20 dingers this past season — but his previous dealings with the media and supposed irascibility are negatives from Minaya’s point of view. It doesn’t help that most fans and media have less than fond memories of Kent’s short stint in the orange and blue.

Speaking of strong personalities, I find it a little surprising that the Daily News would say that the Mets are “not expected to sign Paul LoDuca”. Is that coming from somewhere inside the Mets’ organization or is it pure conjecture? With Pudge Rodriguez off the market, Jorge Posada likely too expensive, and Jason Kendall probably staying away from NYC, there isn’t much to choose from in the free agent market. That said, wouldn’t the Mets be at least considering LoDuca as their 2008 backstop? Time will tell.

The Moises Alou notation is not news. The Duaner Sanchez report, however, is good news. Let’s hope he can get healthy and get his rear-end in shape by mid-February.

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Mike Carp Update

Mike Carp of the Binghamton MetsAs we’ve gone over in the past few weeks, the Mets don’t have much in the way of trading chips, with most being prospects that may be overvalued by the Mets brass.

That said, here is an update on Mike Carp from Baseball America — Carp is currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

Several scouts aren’t sold on Mets’ first baseman Mike Carp, a ninth-rounder out of high school in 2004. “I don’t believe in the power at all,” said a scout from a National League club. “He doesn’t make good, hard contact, he’s inconsistent in his approach and swings and misses too much. And he’s not going to play anywhere else but first base. His performance here defines what he is for me.” In 43 at-bats, Carp is hitting .256/.333/.349 with 10 strikeouts.

OK … not such a glowing report, and his stats aren’t anything to write home about. But, the specific quote is from one nameless scout, and scouts have been wrong before. Unfortunately, negative buzz can travel just as quickly as positive buzz (if not more quickly), and Carp was a disappointment the entire season. After impressing the Mets staff in spring training, Carp took a step backward by batting only .251 with 11 homers in 359 at-bats in AA Binghamton. However, his season — and his hitting — were affected by a broken finger suffered in early May.

Sure, his stats were probably a result of the injury. And when he returned from the injury, it likely took him a while to get back in the swing of things. And he likely pressed a bit when he was slumping. But guess what — none of that matters to scouts from other teams when evaluating talent, and a .250 hitter in AA doesn’t bring back MLBers like Danny Haren or Johan Santana.

Personally, I think it’s too early to give up on Carp; he’s only 21 and has made big jumps since joining the organization in 2004. There’s every reason to believe he’ll bounce back with a stellar 2008 and reestablish himself as a top prospect. But right now, his value is at a low point, and therefore won’t be much help as a trading chip during this offseason.

And maybe that’s a good thing — it could be a blessing in disguise. Because Carp’s value is currently low, the Mets may be more inclined to keep him around. For comparison: Jeff Bagwell (Red Sox), Travis Hafner (Rangers), and David Ortiz (Twins) are three first basemen who were traded or let go by their original team because their value had plummeted. Not saying Carp is the next “Big Papi”, but the point is, you just never know.

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