Browsing Archive January, 2008

Royals Hot on Bartolo Colon?

According to the Mullet on AOL, who heard from MetsBlog, who heard from MLBTradeRumors, who heard from Impacto Deportivo (through Google translator), the Kansas City Royals might be about to sign Bartolo Colon — clearly one of the fattest free agent pitchers this side of Bob Wickman.

Or, there could be something lost in the translation.

This is what happens when there’s no real news in the blogosphere for a few days …

Why the rebuilding Royals would have interest in Colon I’m not sure. My best guess is that the equipment manager threatened to turn Runelvys Hernandez’s old jersey into a parachute if they didn’t get a new player to fit into it.

Over at USS Mariner, there is a well-written, in-depth discussion on Colon, which suggests that he may be the “hidden gem” of the offseason crop of free agent pitchers. The numbers are well-researched and provide excellent support for the argument. However, the stats do not tell the story of Colon’s health, which is questionable at best. Also questionable are the reports that Colon is “pitching well” in winter ball — he’s pitched all of four innings thus far.

Whatever the case, I won’t lose sleep if the Mets let Bartolo slip away to Kansas City. It’s probably a better plan for everyone all around.

Anyway, trying to uncover the Bartolo Colon mystery this morning was entertaining, if nothing else. And during my struggle to read through the original Spanish and Google-translated versions of Impacto Deportivo, I did find out that Edwin Encarcion’s cousin died, which allowed Victor Diaz to get into the starting lineup for the Aguilas (Eagles) Cibaenas, and Vic smashed a three-run homer to win the game. Although Diaz is hovering around the Mendoza Line, but that homerun makes 8 on the winter (the league leader had 8, and I think they’re in the postseason now) — he’s putting one over the fence about once every 20 ABs. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a minor league contract and an ST invite, but won’t hold my breath, either. Nelson Cruz, who we briefly mentioned yesterday, is among the league leaders in batting average at .318, has smacked 4 homers and 5 doubles in a little over 100 ABs, and has a fairly impressive .860 OPS. I have a funny feeling the Mets will sign or acquire at least one bat and one arm out of the Dominican League before spring training begins.

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Roster Room

If the information posted on MLB.com can be trusted, then the Mets 40-man roster currently numbers 36, broken down as follows:

– 21 pitchers
– 2 catchers
– 7 infielders
– 6 outfielders

So there is room for 4 more players. In addition, it should be noted that Ambiorix Burgos has to be on the 40-man, but will miss the entire season. Once the regular season begins, I believe, he can be put on the 60-day DL, which frees up a spot on the roster (though they might be able to DL him prior to Opening Day, I’m not clear on the rules). Most likely, the Mets will exercise that option in the first week of April and then have the flexibility to either protect an additional prospect or pick up a player who was dropped from another team at the very end of spring training.

For those of us getting antsy about the Mets picking up some arms that are better known than the Stephen Registers and Andy Cavazoses of the world, it may be somewhat calming to look back a year. Back in January 2007, the Mets signed Aaron Sele, Scott Schoeneweis, and Jorge Sosa — as well as utilityman David Newhan — and invited several players to spring training. So, if there are four open spots on the roster, it’s completely plausible to assume that Omar Minaya will be filling them with usable big leaguers in the coming weeks — just as he did last year.

Most likely, those new bodies will come from the shallow (and getting shallower by the day) free agent pool, but Minaya may also pull off a seemingly minor trade or two — remember in 2006 he made January deals that brought Duaner Sanchez, Jorge Julio, and John Maine to the team.

We don’t need to expound on the free agent pitching possibilities — we’ve beaten that one to death. Jon Lieber, Bartolo Colon, Octavio Dotel, Freddy Garcia, etc., all remain on the radar. (By the way, I’m not fond of Akinori Otsuka anymore, and particular not after reading this about his elbow.) But what about trades?

Let’s forget for a moment the Johan Santana talk … it makes my head hurt. Instead, focus on players who may have worn out their welcome and/or may not have a job on their current team due to offseason acquisitions. For example, the Tigers may not have room for Brandon Inge now that they have landed Miguel Cabrera to play 3B — but it’s doubtful the Mets would have any interest in Inge, either. Unless, of course, he was still catching, but he hasn’t done that in a few years. But that’s just an example to get you thinking.

While reading up on the aforementioned Otsuka, I also learned that the Rangers may not have a place for Nelson Cruz and/or Jason Botts, a 27-year-old power-hitting outfielder. The 6’5″, 250-lb Botts has put up big homerun numbers in the minors, and is at a point now where he needs to either win an MLB job or be a AAAA player. Cruz is pretty much in the same place, and was originally signed by the Mets way back in 1998. Cruz also has homerun power — evidenced by his 15 homers in 162 AAA at-bats last season. Either or both of these sluggers could get squeezed out of Texas after the arrivals of Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton, and David Murphy (acquired in the Eric Gagne trade).

After trading away Lastings Milledge and non-tendering Ben Johnson (who won’t be physically ready to play by spring training), the Mets could use a righthanded hitting outfielder, and either Botts or Cruz could fit in that role — assuming they want Carlos Gomez to get more at-bats in AAA this year. Botts, by the way, is a switch-hitter who can also play 1B; the negative is that he’s about as astute defensively as Adam Dunn, so he may project as a DH. One final thing about the Rangers: they also have an up-and-coming catcher named Taylor Teagarden who is now blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia; he’d be a nice throw-in considering the Mets’ lack of catching prospects.

Another team that might have some surplus of interest to the Mets is the Giants, who entered the Hot Stove season with an abundance of young pitching and still have it. After signing Aaron Rowand, they’re no longer looking for an outfielder, but they might have interest in a young infielder — Ruben Gotay or Anderson Hernandez, for example. I still like the idea of LHP Jonathan Sanchez coming east, but it likely will take more than Gotay/Hernandez to land him. On the lower end, middle reliever Randy Messenger might be expendable, not too costly, and possibly helpful in the Mets’ bullpen.

After trading Josh Hamilton for two pitching prospects, and signing Francisco Cordero, the Cincinnati Reds are suddenly flush with arms. Perhaps they’d be open to trading away someone like David Weathers or Todd Coffey, either of which might bolster the Mets’ relief corps.

The Diamondbacks also appear to have an abundance of arms, though I’m not sure whether the Mets have anything of interest to offer. We’d certainly be interested in someone like Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz, or Yusmeiro Petit.

Surely there are other teams out there, and we’ll continue scanning rosters for possibilities. Post any ideas you have in the comments — we have four spots to fill!

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