Perhaps Karim Garcia/Shane Spencer would've been better options:
What's most amazing to me about the fallout of the Jason Bay agreement with the Mets is how the same people who are so enamored of Billy Beane and the Moneyball lot that they dole out credit for such non-moves as the A's signing of Coco Crisp or the Red Sox choice of Mike Cameron over Bay, yet treat the Mets necessary signing of a power bat to man left field as if they just signed Julio Lugo to a $36 million contract. (Oh wait, it was Theo Epstein the "genius" who did that, wasn't it?)
There were the usual suspects like Keith Law and Rob Neyer who were in love with Bay when Theo Epstein traded from him to replace Manny Ramirez and he exploded like he'd been let out of prison (and he was in prison; he played for the Pirates), but he's suddenly and miraculously lost his luster now that he's about to be a Met.
Here are the main quotes I found about Bay and the Mets from Joel Sherman from this column:
The Red Sox were worried about how Bay would hold up over four years, with particular worry about his shoulders.
I've been waiting for an answer to this question for two days and no one's come up with anything that makes even the least amount of sense. If the Red Sox were so worried about the condition of Bay's shoulders, then why did they offer him 4-years and $60 million guaranteed? The one answer I got was that the Mets offered an easily achievable vesting option for a fifth year that pushed the deal up to $80 million and the Red Sox were reluctant to do the same.
So, what you're telling me is that the Red Sox----$36 million for Lugo; $51 million posting money for Daisuke Matsuzaka----are suddenly concerned about one year from Jason Bay? The fifth year after which they'd have been stuck with him for four full, guaranteed years? With the amount of money they threw away on Lugo and Edgar Renteria, was the prospect of a fifth year for Bay via an option such a deal-breaker?
Why make the offer to begin with? Why not make an offer of 3-years, $45 million, designed to fail, so they could have Bay reject it and move on? It sure seemed like the Red Sox wanted him back; now the hindsight and endless complaining are trying to justify the decision with cryptic references to his physical condition. I look at the game totals from his stats and all I see is a player who wants to play and wants to play every day.
In Boston, Bay was protected defensively by the Green Monster. Now, as in his Pittsburgh days, Bay will have to deal with one of the largest left fields in the majors, and he is a conservative fielder with an iffy arm and lacking speed; and the physical shortcomings should worsen during his age 31-34 seasons.
We're not going to hear the end of the horror stories of Bay's defense. Left field in Citi Field is a large expanse, but he's going to be flanked by a Gold Glove center fielder with great range in Carlos Beltran; Beltran's got Jeff Francoeur----a defensive kamikaze----in right field; they'll be able to cover for Bay enough that it's not going to be as much of a nightmare as is portrayed. Is he ever going to be Barry Bonds circa 1993 out there? No, but will he catch the balls he can get to? Yes. Will he try? Yes. If the Mets position him correctly and pay attention to fundamentals with the cut-off men being where they're supposed to be, how much of an issue is Bay's defense really going to be as long as he hits?
While I've been mostly against the shifting of players to first base as the landing spot for the immobile and defensively inept, Bay is a guy that could move to first base in the last year or two of his contract if his defense becomes untenable.
This is not something I'd worry about to the degree it's being discussed.
The Mets should have spread the Bay money on one-year contracts to multiple players to provide better quality depth around Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright, K-Rod and Santana — while hoping the quintet was healthy and productive.
"The Mets should've spread the Bay money on one-year contracts to multiple players"?
I love when the Billy Beane-sniffers make these kind of statements without providing examples of what their plan of attack would've been. What players of note were going to come to the Mets for a 1-year deal as filler for the stars? And how would that have looked to an angry fan base that's playing "wait and see" before purchasing tickets for 2010 after the calamity that was 2009?
Would Sherman have liked the Mets to go the route they traveled in 2004 with Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer platooning in right field and Jason Phillips at first base? Where are these players that are pounding on the door of the Mets offices not just to join the club, but to do so at a discount?
Maybe they should've signed Coco Crisp.
That would've livened up the Mets Hot Stove.
It's not as if the Mets have said, "Okay, that's it. Vault closed." They're going to get at least one and maybe two starting pitchers; they're still playing with various scenarios at catcher; and if they can do something with Luis Castillo, they can sign Orlando Hudson or trade for Dan Uggla. With the stars returning from injury, are the Mets the joke they're portrayed?
It was a year ago that Las Vegas had the Mets as one of the NL favorites to reach the World Series. The perceived state of a club is the main factor that influences players (after money) on whether to sign on. The Bay acquisition sends a signal to the other available players that the Mets have something going on; it's a means to an end. The players deliberating on the Mets can say, "they've got Bay, they've got the returning players; it's not so bad over there".
Does Coco Crisp do that for the Athletics?
The bottom line of all this is that the Mets needed to do something bold for a bat. They needed a player who wasn't a jerk; who would produce at the plate; and would play the game the right way. That they got it at their price should be treated as a positive and taken as such rather than finding reasons to denigrate what should be a happy day for the New York media even if they hate the Mets and GM Omar Minaya.
If they're going to rip it, then leave the warmth of Beane's, Bill James's and Theo Epstein's collective backsides for a moment to acquire some objectivity for what went right instead of what could go wrong; then they might be able to write something that makes sense instead of Sherman's ridiculous drivel that's similar to much of what's out there savaging the move based on little more than that it was the Mets that made it.
Whither Matt Holliday?
Matt Holliday's market is almost non-existent at this point unless the Red Sox, Yankees or Angels make a quick and sudden strike to blow the Cardinals current offer out of the water. The Cardinals are exhibiting confidence that the offer will be successful----link.
There was talk about the Orioles jumping in with a major offer of $130 million, but team president Andy MacPhail shot that down completely. With agent Scott Boras, there's always the chance that he's planting the phony "one mystery team" to drive up the price if he has no other options; then there's the chance that there really is a mystery team like the Yankees with Mark Teixeira a year ago.
For all the criticism Boras receives, for the most part, his players get their money----eventually. Kyle Lohse had to settle for a 1-year deal with the Cardinals, but pitched so well that he got a long term deal a year later; and amid all the controversy and contretemps of the Alex Rodriguez opt-out during the 2007 World Series, Boras still negotiated the contract and got ARod another $200 million deal where there was none available anywhere except from the Yankees. So where could Holliday still wind up if it's not the Cardinals? Let's take a look.
St. Louis Cardinals:
This is still the most logical destination and where he'll presumably be when all is said and done. Holliday had no interest nor the intention of taking short money to stay in St. Louis as players have done in the past, but it's still a great baseball town; he's playing with the best hitter of the past 50 years in Albert Pujols; and as long as Tony La Russa's there, the Cardinals will be contenders.
Baltimore is no longer the toxic wasteland it was five years ago thanks to MacPhail's rebuilding of the farm system, making some smart trades and convincing owner Peter Angelos to back off. The Orioles still have some issues, most notably manager Dave Trembley, who I doubt will be there when they turn the corner; but with the additions of Kevin Millwood and Mike Gonzalez and the young pitching and bats, a .500 season in 2010 isn't out of the realm of possibility; and they've got the money to pay Holliday. Plus, he'd put up big offensive numbers in Camden Yards.
Boston Red Sox:
Holliday would hit in Boston and he's exactly what the Red Sox need short of Adrian Gonzalez. Given the way the Red Sox have complained about a payroll limit recently, they'd have to find a taker for Mike Lowell and possibly J.D. Drew, but don't discount Epstein's creativity and the club's desperation to bring in a bat and assuage a skittish fan base.
New York Yankees:
The Yankees had hovered around Mark Teixeira, but weren't actively involved until they struck. I don't think they'll get in on Holliday and truth be told, they don't need him; but there's always that chance...
San Francisco Giants:
They need a bat desperately and Holliday would slot perfectly into their feisty lineup; plus Aaron Rowand could cover for his defensive liabilities in the outfield. They're not going to spend $100+ million on Holliday especially after he flamed out across the bay with the Athletics. The only way this happens is if GM Brian Sabean finds a taker for Barry Zito. In other words, forget it.
Los Angeles Angels:
In years past, I'd say this is the team to watch for with a late lightning strike as they pulled with Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero, among others. But the Angels front office was livid with Boras for the way he jerked them around with Teixeira; and while most teams talk out of both sides of their mouths when saying they're not dealing with a certain agent if they can help it, the one team I believe when they say something like that is the Angels.
From owner Arte Moreno on down to manager Mike Scioscia, the Angels are an organization that doesn't put up with crap. I'd faint if they got in on Holliday.
Don't discount the Red Sox, but my guess is Holliday ends up back with the Cardinals simply because he doesn't have much choice.
Viewer Mail 12.31.2009:
John Seal writes RE Mark DeRosa and the Giants:
Prince, I'm duly noting your prediction that the Giants will win the NL West and am already preparing to pummel you with ridicule come next October. (If I'm wrong, don't bother to pummel me. I will already be dead at my own hand.) The DeRosa signing is classic Sabean: sign an old guy after his career year and expect him to do it again.
Of course, my perverse and unnatural hatred of the Giants (they are the number one team in my Trinity of Baseball Evil; you can probably guess the other two) may be clouding my vision...
I picked the Giants to win the division last year at 89-73; I got almost full credit as they went 88-74, but faded down the stretch (much like my horses from last night's fun-filled foray to the racetrack---one of my horses literally just wandered off during the race, but I digress...).
I'm hurt John. I'd never pummel you for an accurate or inaccurate pick. In fact, if I chose to make you suffer, the worst thing I could do would be to let you endure witnessing the towering inferno that the Billy Beane "genius" and Moneyball has become.
All kidding aside, the Giants pitching is more of a factor than anything for me to think they're going to bust through next year. As of right now, I'd say they've got just enough hitting to be there at the end of 2010; if they brought in that one power bat, they'd be the class of the division; and when manager Bruce Bochy has had his clubs in serious contention late in a season, they generally make the playoffs. DeRosa's another good, versatile player who they got relatively cheaply and will fit into the clubhouse seamlessly.
With Sabean, he's been cleverly adroit in addressing what his club needed at a particular time. During the Barry Bonds years, the strategy was to "build around Barry" and it worked beautifully. It was expected that the Giants would be stumbling and struggling for at least five years "post-Barry", but Sabean rebuilt the farm system and got the club back to respectability faster than would've the more media-beloved GMs Beane, Epstein and Cashman .
You'll have to accept that the Giants are back in contention.
Look on the bright side! The A's got...Coco.....Crisp.
Joe at Statistican Magician writes RE the Red Sox rotation:
Ok, here is a huge disagreement, what is wrong with the Red Sox "back-end of their rotation?" Buchholz, Daisuke, and Wakefield trying to notch up the final two spots? Tazawa and Bowden for spot starts. Try to find a better "back end" than that.
Buchholz is still basically a rookie with great potential, who knows?
Even for a knuckleballer, Wakefield's about shot. His body's breaking down from top to bottom and if you think you'll be able to count on him in 2010 at age 43, you're dreaming.
Matsuzaka has flashy stats on the surface, but you of all people should know that the 18-2 record from 2008 masked what he really is. He was mediocre in 2007; he was rotten in 2009; and his Gamelogs in 2008 shine a clear light into those gaudy numbers.
He's wild; he racks up ridiculous pitch counts by the fifth and sixth innings; he gives up a lot of homers; and he's shielded in a cocoon by the Red Sox offense and bullpen. They deploy him effectively because they know what he is. He's a product of a system, not a weapon in and of himself.
Y'know who he reminds me of? Storm Davis from 1988. As a pitcher who'd get through six innings, give up 4 runs, and hand the game over to the bullpen, Davis took advantage of the Tony La Russa strategy with the A's and parlayed it into a 19-win year and a lucrative free agent contract with the Royals (provided by the "genius" John Schuerholz, apparently before he discovered his inner-"genius"). Matsuzaka is Storm Davis and while that's not bad; it's not good either.
In other words, Matsuzaka is the epitome of mediocrity. No one is concerned about facing him because he's not that good; he wasn't worth the posting money, and he's not a big time starter even at the back of the rotation. He could be replaced by a Jon Garland; by a Doug Davis, and truth be told, I'd rather have Garland or Davis. That's how little I think of Matsuzaka.
The Yankees, Angels and White Sox (just off the top of my head) have better back end rotations than that. The Red Sox have some problems that you refuse to accept, but you'd better hope Epstein and co accepts them and quick if you want another playoff run.
Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Red Sox:
I could think of plenty 'back ends' better than that, but unfortunately, none of them have to do with baseball and everything to do with the club I was at last night.
I think this dissection of the Red Sox organization and fan base as being "whiny" is great. I've been saying that for a long time, but never in such a coherent manner. I love the bit about offering $60 million to a guy who has "medical issues". Hilarious retort.
The Prince of New York Family Research Council must know: what club was this? Just for research purposes, of course.
What stunned me more than anything is that I wasn't attacked by Red Sox Nation for that very reasonable question; in fact, as stated earlier, no one even answered it!
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jason Bay:
I'm very grateful to the Mets for taking Bay out of the American League East. Many thanks!
It's our pleasure. Anything to help the Yankees.
Note on a loyal soldier:
One of my loyalest of loyalists, Isaac, has started his own blog called A Baseball Thing.
Isaac's writing is impressive on it's own, but even more impressive because he's still a teenager; and we all know what a notorious prick I am when it comes to assessing the writing of others. (It's never personal.)
Isaac's been a loyal soldier for me from the start; in fact----and this is not an indictment of anyone else----but he was the only one who was around to provide protection for me on Twitter as I was bombarded by arrows and worse in the aftermath of my picking the Angels to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. I was under siege and he had the cojones to stand with me me as I took the bullets. Amid the other reasons to check out his blog, that's a pretty good one in and of itself. Loyalty counts.