- Winter Preview---- New York Mets:
While it's trendy and easy to attack the Mets after the 2009 catastrophe, things aren't that bad. A rapid turnaround is very, very possible.
What they need: A veteran, innings-gobbling starting pitcher; a low-cost serviceable starting pitcher; a power bat in left field; a first baseman; a starting catcher; a second baseman; bullpen help.
Free agents: 1B Carlos Delgado; RHP J.J. Putz; OF Gary Sheffield; INF Ramon Martinez; INF/OF Fernando Tatis; RHP Elmer Dessens
Delgado is going to be in demand as soon as he proves that he's healthy in winter ball. He'll have options to move to the American League and DH part-time; the Mets will be very interested in bringing him back on an incentive-laden deal. Delgado is a businessman first and foremost and while he'd come back to the Mets in the right deal, he's not going to let any implications of "duty" to give the Mets some payback after the lost season of 2009 affect his decision. I don't think he's coming back.
Putz has sounded agreeable to a return to the Mets as well, but he'll get offers to close elsewhere (Detroit? Houston?); he won't be back.
The Mets would bring in Milton Bradley or coax Bobby Bonilla and Tom Glavine out of retirement before they re-signed Sheffield.
Martinez has some use as a utility infielder and might be back.
The admirable and heartwarming story of Fernando Tatis is well-known by now. He came back to baseball in order to make money to build a church in the Dominican Republic; he won Comeback Player of the Year for the Mets in 2008, etc. It's a nice story....and it's over. It's time for the Mets to move on with a better jack-of-all-trades who's more of a hitting threat.
Dessens is a veteran who pitched admirably out of the bullpen in 2009. He'll be back.
Players available via trade: 2B Luis Castillo; LHP Oliver Perez; RHP Sean Green; RHP John Maine; 1B Daniel Murphy; OF Angel Pagan; RHP Bobby Parnell; RHP Mike Pelfrey
The Mets are going to move Castillo if they have to pick up half of the remaining $12 million on his contract. They might even take Milton Bradley to move him. Castillo actually had a good, productive year for the Mets in 2009, but they need a better bat at second base. Castillo's gone.
You want to be the next one in line to make the futile attempt to straighten out Oliver Perez and take the remaining $24 million he's owed? He's yours.
Green's new, sidearm motion makes him more agreeable to keep around. The production of relievers varies from year-to-year; that said, Green's arbitration eligible and will probably be moved.
Maine has 18-win potential, but his injuries and wildness are getting to be too much to take. He's arbitration-eligible and due a big raise, so they'll talk about him in a trade; but he's going to get another chance to blossom (or at least repeat his 15-win 2007) with the Mets.
The Mets would be well-served to "git while the gittin's good" and listen if someone wants Murphy as part of a package to get a bat or an arm. And if they think Murphy's an everyday first baseman as has been implied, it's going to be a long season in Flushing----again.
Pagan is a guy who every manager ends up wanting to strangle because he's so talented and is such a space cadet. Teams are pursuing him. He's 50/50 to be back with the Mets.
Parnell has a great power fastball, but if the Mets pull off a blockbuster, he's likely to go as part of the package.
I'd listen to offers on Pelfrey in a big deal for a proven starter or power bat or for a pitcher (Brandon Morrow) who's fallen out of favor with his club. Pelfrey's arbitration-eligible.
Non-tender candidates: RHP Sean Green; LHP Pat Misch; OF Jeremy Reed
I doubt they'll non-tender Green, but it's possible.
Misch showed enough as a long man/spot starter that I'd keep him around at the right price.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: LHP Mike Gonzalez (Braves); RHP Rafael Soriano (Braves); 1B Adam LaRoche (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); 1B Chad Tracy (Diamondbacks); RHP Danys Baez (Orioles); INF/OF Melvin Mora (Orioles); OF Jason Bay (Red Sox); RHP Octavio Dotel (White Sox); OF Jermaine Dye (White Sox); INF/OF Jamey Carroll (Indians); LHP Joe Beimel (Rockies); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); RHP Fernando Rodney (Tigers); RHP Kiko Calero (Marlins); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); 1B/OF Ross Gload (Marlins); RHP Doug Brocail (Astros); RHP John Lackey (Angels); 2B Orlando Hudson (Dodgers); RHP Jon Garland (Dodgers); INF Orlando Cabrera (Twins); OF/1B Xavier Nady (Yankees); OF Hideki Matsui (Yankees); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); 1B Russell Branyan (Mariners); INF/OF Mark DeRosa (Cardinals); RHP Joel Piniero (Cardinals); RHP Russ Springer (Rays); C Bengie Molina (Giants)
I'd keep tabs on both Gonzalez and Soriano as set-up men, preferably Gonzalez. Teams appear reluctant to give up a first round pick for the useful Gonzalez and it's a mistake.
LaRoche is an underrated player all the way around and if the Braves vacillate, the Mets should strike.
There are the lower-cost relievers like Baez and/or Calero who could fall to the Mets; Brocail is a well-respected clubhouse presence, a fiery guy and he can still pitch a little.
I'd go heavily after Gload if I were the Mets. Carroll is in demand as a utility guy.
Would Cabrera move to second base for the Mets? His teams tend to wind up in the playoffs, so if Orlando Hudson goes elsewhere (this is all contingent on moving Castillo), it's not a bad idea.
I'd prefer Bay by a large margin over Matt Holliday, who I don't think is a good fit for the Mets.
The Mets are the heavy favorites to get Molina. He still handles pitchers well and has pop in his bat for the bottom of the lineup.
I feel relatively certain that they'll end up with Piniero and it's a good move on a reasonable deal.
Could Lackey fall to the Mets as Francisco Rodriguez did? Maybe.
Via trade: LF Carl Crawford (Rays); RHP Roy Halladay (Blue Jays); RHP Jeremy Accardo (Blue Jays); 1B/OF Luke Scott (Orioles); RHP Chris Ray (Orioles); OF Delmon Young (Twins); INF/OF Miguel Cabrera (Tigers); RHP Edwin Jackson (Tigers); 1B Paul Konerko (White Sox); OF David DeJesus (Royals); RHP Gil Meche (Royals); OF Juan Rivera (Angels); RHP Kevin Millwood (Rangers); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); 2B Dan Uggla (Marlins); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); 1B/3B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); RHP Matt Lindstrom (Marlins); OF Josh Willingham (Nationals); OF Milton Bradley (Cubs); OF Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs); OF Carlos Lee (Astros); C Ryan Doumit (Pirates); RHP Chris Young (Padres)
Do the Mets have the minor leaguers to get a mega-deal the likes of Crawford or Cabrera done? The consensus is no, especially for Crawford. For Cabrera, would taking his salary and giving up one top prospect and a couple of good ones be enough? Maybe.
I want Carlos Lee above both Bay and Holliday. The Astros have said he's not on the block, but I'd keep asking and let them know to let me know if they change their minds.
Meche can be had for a team that's willing to take his contract and if he's healthy, he'd win 15 games for the Mets. The same can be said for Millwood, but the Rangers aren't giving him away.
I'd check with the Mariners about a Pelfrey for Morrow swap. I think Morrow's better and he needs to get out of Seattle.
The Marlins have no qualms whatsoever about dealing within the division and I'd move Uggla to first base if I could get him.
They screwed up once in dealing Lindstrom for Jason Vargas. I'd get him back for the right price.
I've long been a fan of Willingham, but the Nationals aren't going to give him away for nothing. The Mets like him too and will keep tabs on that situation.
Milton Bradley in New York? I wouldn't do it, but if it gets Castillo's contract out of here, it's not something to dismiss out of hand if the Cubs made up the difference in the contracts of the two. I'd consider it and try to get assurances (for what they're worth) from Bradley that he'll behave. (Yah, right!)
Then we get to Roy Halladay.
The Mets do have the prospects to get him now if they're willing to gut the system. But it could go another way if they hold their fire.
The Halladay situation is almost creepy in its similarity to what happened with Johan Santana in 2007-2008. The very idea that the Mets were players in the negotiations was rightfully ridiculed at the outset. The Yankees and Red Sox were the front-runners and either/or was widely expected to get a deal done, but neither club appeared all that interested in giving up a chunk of their farm system and ostensibly sign Santana as a free agent after the fact.
The Twins, overplaying their hand, waited too long to trade Santana and as time passed, one team after another withdrew. Spring training approached and Santana----with a gentleman's agreement between himself and the Twins----wanted the situation handled before he reported. Faced with no other options, Twins GM Bill Smith took what the Mets offered in terms of players (essentially nothing at the time and absolutely nothing in retrospect) to get the situation behind them.
I'm convinced (and this will never be authenticated on the record by anyone) that both the Red Sox and Yankees let Mets GM Omar Minaya know through back channels that they weren't in on Santana and that he shouldn't give up any more than the bare minimum to get the deal done.
The Blue Jays are faced with this now concerning Halladay. And Roy Halladay is more aggravated at the Blue Jays than is being let on. They embarrassed him as they made public his quiet request to be traded at mid-season; then-GM J.P. Ricciardi botched the trade negotiations and Halladay was stuck in Toronto. He's already said he wants out before the spring and it's no "gentleman's agreement" between him and the Blue Jays; it's a "get me the hell outta here" demand. The longer it goes, the uglier it's going to get and the price for the pitcher is going to drop as the days pass.
Is it likely that the Blue Jays are going to make the same mistake the Twins did and leave the Mets as the last team standing that can: A) give them anything at all to get Halladay, and B) pay for the contract extension to keep him? No. But it was considered absurd that the Mets would get Santana, and look what happened.
For all his faults, mistakes and botching of the English language, backing someone as savvy as Minaya into a corner is a mistake because he comes out swinging with both fists.
- Echoes of Juan Pierre:
That's not all.
The contract supposedly vests (details aren't available yet) so that it could be worth $45 million over 5-years.
The stat zombies are in love with Figgins for some reason, some going as far as saying he's as good a player as Jason Bay.
Here are the objective, realistic, non-zombie facts on Chone Figgins:
He's a speed guy who's about to turn 32:
Players like Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock, who are able to maintain some semblance of their speed, don't come around very often. In fact, that's why both are in the Hall of Fame; that and because they could also hit the ball out of the park.
Is Figgins going to get faster as he ages? He's not a particularly great basestealer to begin with. He got caught stealing 17 times in his 59 attempts last year. Not good. Do the Mariners and the stat zombies think he's going to be stealing 40 bases (or even 30 bases) at age 35?
He has no power and strikes out too much:
Figgins is good for 3-6 homers a year.
At third base or left field.
Historical power positions.
He strikes out over 100 times a year.
With no power.
I'm not of the school that certain positions have to be manned by a player who hits the ball out of the park, but the Mariners don't currently have anyone who can be counted on to hit home runs. One would assume they're going to find a power bat somewhere at first base or left field, but the DH spot is clogged up by Ken Griffey Jr and his nonsensical and sentimental re-signing. Who's driving in the runs for the Mariners?
Small ball and defense are great, but the Mariners don't have the pitching to play that game and contend.
The zombies say he's "versatile":
He can play left field, third base or second base. So what? Is that versatility worth that money with what his game provides?
To me, Figgins is a step above Juan Pierre. A slap hitter who can run. His on base ability will be mitigated by his penchant for getting caught stealing and that the Mariners don't have anyone to knock him in on a consistent basis.
This capricious signing from a GM, Jack Zduriencik, who's been a solid talent evaluator and pretty smart GM so far is a disaster in the making. This off-season, with the re-signing of Griffey and this stupid move, is off to a bad start for the Mariners. Really bad.
- That's right, Einstein. What tipped you off?
Has Billy Beane lost his mind?
For what possible reason would the Athletics offer 3-years and slightly more money than the Red Sox for Marco Scutaro?
To do what?
Are the A's contenders who need a plug-in here and there to take the next step? Because that's what Scutaro provides. He's not a difference-maker; he's a competent player who's complement to what a team like the Red Sox already have.
The A's have a load of young pitching, so they'll be competitive next year, but this revelation combined with the strange trade Beane made to get Jake Fox show a man who isn't simply human, despite his portrayal in Moneyball, but a man who's revealing himself to be relentlessly mediocre.
If the A's have a bad year next year, could Beane be in trouble? The blame game----it was said by way of alibi that owner Lewis Wolff spurred Beane to make the aggressive trade for Matt Holliday last year and to sign Jason Giambi----only goes so far. Eventually Beane is going to have to answer for his baseball-related crimes. And it could be happening before our very eyes.
The Teflon Billy persona is wearing thin.
Either the pressure's getting to him, or he was never that smart to begin with.
The truth is coming out day after day. And it's portending a bad ending for Billy Beane, Super Genius on a level with Wile E. Coyote.Over the cliff he goes.