Browsing Archive October, 2007

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.


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 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”.


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.


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.


Omar: No Message for Rudy

If you “get” that headline, then you are at least as old as me and share my eclectic taste in music.

So the breaking news (hat tip to Isuzudude, who probably should be running this blog lately) is that Rudy Jaramillo will not be the Mets hitting coach in 2008.

According to Omar Minaya:

“I love Rudy like a brother, but it would be totally unfair to bring him in after I interviewed him as manager,” Minaya said. “It wouldn’t be fair to HoJo, who did an outstanding job as hitting coach. If you look at the numbers, everything in the second half of the year we were up in.”

On the one hand, I’m very surprised that Omar didn’t jump on Jaramillo. On the other, I’m pleased with Omar’s decision to bring back Howard Johnson, who in my mind did make an impact on the offense (except for Jose Reyes) and did earn the position for 2008. I feel it would have been a slap in the face to usher in Jaramillo and move HoJo to base coach — even third base coach. He did a fine job and who knows — maybe 3-4 years from now people will be talking about HoJo’s skills as a batting coach in the same way they talk about Jaramillo.

The only puzzling thing is this: to my knowledge, Jaramillo is still under contract with the Rangers, and will be until October 31st. So is Minaya allowed to comment on another team’s personnel? Probably not worth arguing, considering that it’s a dead issue.


Coffee Talk: Top Mets Prospects

Mike Myers as Linda RichmanLoyal reader “Isuzudude” has posed a great topic:

All are welcome to answer this question, but in particular I’m looking to get the opinions of those among us who really keep track of this stuff. Discounting anyone who has played in triple-A or with the Mets (i.e. Milledge, Gomez, Humber, etc), who are your top-10 prospects within the Mets organization? When answering, could you also name the current major leaguer that most resembles the type of player you think the prospect will turn out to be?

Thanks in advance, guys (and gals?)

As Linda Richman might say … “discuss!”


Premiere for Mathematically Alive

Wanted to let everyone know about the premiere of the documentary “Mathematically Alive”, which focuses on the lives of Mets fans during the 2006 season. The premiere will be held at Rutgers University from November 9th through 11th.

From the directors’ — Joseph Coburn and Katherine Foronjy — press release:

This engaging documentary is for all New York Mets fans and for anyone who is a devoted fan of a sports team. Directors Coburn and Foronjy reveal the stories of a spectrum of Mets devotees and take us on their roller coaster ride of emotion through the 2006 playoffs.

Mathematically Alive explores why Sports are such an integral part of American culture. What the affects are of following a team and, more importantly, why fans continue to invest so much emotion, time, and money into their team. They are the stories of any fan in America. For some it’s an escape from reality, for others it forms their identity. Their fanaticism, not too far off from your own or someone you know, makes for a fascinating window into an often unexamined part of everyday life – Sport fandom.

I haven’t seen it but it sounds like it could be interesting for Mets fans. If you live in central NJ, and have the time, it should be a fun event. Here are the details:

New Jersey Film Festival at Rutgers University

November 09, 2007 – 7:00PM

November 10, 2007 – 7:00PM

November 11, 2007 – 7:00PM

Rutgers University – Scott Hall #123,

43 College Avenue

(Near the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street),

College Avenue Campus

New Brunswick, New Jersey

More information can be found at the movie’s website: Mathematically Alive and at the NJ Media Arts Centerwebsite.


Glavine, Johan, etc.

Some interesting buzz affecting the Mets … let’s go over them one by one.

Johan Santana

Peter Abraham at the Journal News speculates the cost of Johan Santana. The way he sees it, for the Yankees to pry Johan from the Twins it would cost them a minimum of Melky Cabrera and either Philip Hughes or Ian Kennedy — and adds that “the Mets can’t match that”. His reasoning regarding the Yankees-Twins matchup makes sense, in that Cabrera would take over in centerfield for the expected departure of Torii Hunter (who could land in the Bronx as well), and that both Kennedy and Hughes look ready to step into a ML rotation. I have to, um, sort of disagree with the assessment that “the Mets can’t match that”.

Obviously the Mets can’t match Phil Hughes — neither Mike Pelfrey nor Philip Humber look to be as polished as the Yankees’ young righthander. But I don’t see how Kennedy is suddenly a brighter prospect than either of the Mets’ top pitching prospects — not to mention Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. Sure, Kennedy pitched three brilliant games … but that was it. Three games are not nearly enough to form an opinion. From my point of view, Kennedy has great talent and a promising future, but not yet on a Hughes level. I want more proof, and I bet the Twins would also. Now, if the Yankees were willing to trade Joba Chamberlain, I can buy into Abraham’s argument.

That said, I believe the Mets could — but might not want to — put together a package of Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, plus two or three prospects that would likely have to include Humber, Guerra, Mulvey, and/or other top prospects at lower levels. The issue, however, is do the Mets want to sabotage their farm system for the next three years for Johan Santana? Probably not.

Rudy Jaramillo

Abraham is also fairly certain Rudy Jaramillo will be joining the Mets coaching staff as soon as his contract with the Rangers lapses at the end of this month. But, we’ve already covered that.

Tom Glavine

Jeff Gordon at the St. Louis Dispatch wrote that Tom Glavine “has shown some interest in finishing his career here (St. Louis) … “. Huh. Really? No … really? I wouldn’t put much stock in that, and would be interested to know if and when Glavine said such a thing, or if this is another one of those “friend and/or source close to Tom Glavine” deals. If Tom wants to pitch another year, he can have $13M to do so with the Mets, or he can return to his home in Atlanta. No other team in baseball can offer the money he can get from the Mets, and no other team plays in Atlanta. Word regarding any other clubs is mere conjecture or posturing by Glavine to enhance his negotiating leverage.

A more credible opinion comes from David O’Brien at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

And by then moving to the president’s role a week later, Schuerholz allows Wren to get to work and have an entire offseason to make the moves he wants to make, including one that I think is close to a sure thing: Tom Glavine.

I feel almost certain that the Braves are going to sign him now. I can’t see them possibly dropping the ball on this again. If they had no interest in Glavine this winter, they could have said so all along, not been coy about it or offered the “no comments” they have for the past couple of months.

That means they certainly do have interest, at least that’s how I see it. And I just can’t see them failing to sign Glavine for the second consecutive winter, them being outbid for his services for the third time as a free agent. Just can’t see that.

And I also don’t believe Glavine is going to rake them for every last time he can. Not at this point. He wants to be here, doesn’t want his career to end like it did with those last three starts, and certainly doesn’t want to go pitch somewhere else and leave his wife and kids back in Atlanta another season.

It’s going to happen. If it doesn’t, it means one side or the other just failed miserably in the art of compromise. And I can’t see the Braves doing that in Wren’s first offseason.

Now, if he comes out and says they’re just not interested in Glavine, that’s one thing. I’d be surprised, but at least it’d be a reason. If they say they’re just not willing to pay Glavine what he wants to be paid, to me that’s unacceptable. Both sides must compromise, and I think they will.

That’s the way I see it going down — Glavine gets all mushy about returning to Atlanta and negotiates a deal he can be happy with to return there and finish out his career. And the Braves would be silly not to placate him. After all, they could use a #3 starter who can almost guarantee them 30 starts and 190+ innings — especially if they can get him on the cheap. Which, they probably can — after all, Tom has already walked away from $13M, so it’s not like he needs the money. He’ll be welcomed with open arms in Atlanta, he’ll be back with his “Smoltzie” and his “Coxie” and his “Chipper” and the rest of the gang. Who knows, maybe they’ll convince “Madduxie” to ride out the sunset too.

Jorge Posada

Word on the street … or at least, from the Daily News … is that the Yankees will offer Jorge Posada something in the neighborhood of 3 years / $40M.

That sounds about right for the 36-year-old catcher, and the Mets would be nuts to offer him a 4-year deal. If they were in the AL, and could consider using him at DH two years from now, that’s a different story. But in the NL, he’d have to catch and maybe play some first base — and you have to expect significant regression from Posada over the next two+ years.

However, the Mets could offer, say, $50M over three years. Not a great idea, again, because Posada is due to regress. Further, I doubt the Yankees would allow themselves to be outbid — especially not to the Mets.