Monday, September 6, 2010

Renovation Plans

  • Refurbishments and collateral attacks:

I loathe hypothetical trades. Mostly because they make absolutely no sense and are suggested by people who haven't the faintest clue as to what they're talking about logistically----on field and off.

You'll either have some beat writer/columnist come up with planted silliness that was whispered in his ear by an executive or they'll out-and-out make things up to generate a buzz from nothing as if they're an omnipotent force clapping his hands and causing the Big Bang. One case in point was the Buster Olney "story" of a possible Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols trade.

Speaking of "omnipotent forces", there are the Mike Francesa variety of trade suggestions that have little to do with common sense and more to do with his inherent desire to have been "right" about something he'd said ten years earlier; we saw it a few months ago with the idiotic notion that the Mets trade for Vernon Wells. Francesa has a thing for Wells that I do not understand. Like his insistence that any player can be shifted to first base as if this were 1955 and defensive metrics were ignored, there was no DH, and first base was the place were the immobile slugger went to wring the final productive days out of his bat in a spot where he could do the least amount of damage with his glove. It's 2010. Not 1955. Ward Cleaver is nowhere to be found. He's dead.

And finally, there are the talk show callers. I remember in 1998 or 1999 a caller to WFAN came up with the gem of the Mets----fronting a deal with Turk Wendell and gradually running down each and every player from those Mets teams (Tim Spehr; Dave Mlicki; etc.)----coming to about ten players for...Ken Griffey Jr. This was when Junior was at the height of his powers and in his prime at age 28. It didn't happen.

So you can understand my distaste for proposed trades; but I have my own plot based on reality. They involve some high-priced players; declining producers; movable parts of convenience; and the prospect of acquiring some other big names in a larger picture.

The teams are the Mets, Mariners and Red Sox and the suggestion goes as follows:

The Mets send Francisco Rodriguez and Luis Castillo to the Mariners; and Jose Reyes to the Red Sox.

The Mariners send Chone Figgins to the Red Sox.

The Red Sox send Jonathan Papelbon, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Marco Scutaro to the Mets.

You can scoff if you like and there are absolutely going to be some minor league pot-sweeteners inserted into the deal. (Who knows? If the Red Sox want to drastically change things, perhaps they'd want to take Carlos Beltran and throw J.D. Drew to the Mets for the last year of his deal; I'd take Drew for a year.)

Let's go team-by-team as to why this would make sense.


They're going to have a new GM. Supposedly John Ricco is the likely candidate to move up from assistant to full-time GM and replace Omar Minaya as Minaya moves into a scouting/advisory role. Ken Rosenthal reported (grain of salt) that Marlins assistant Dan Jennings is a possibility; as is former Rangers and Indians GM John Hart. I don't know Jennings, but anyone coming from the Marlins operation is fine with me; and Hart is respected; the one thing the Mets need to do is shun the self-immolating temptation of automatically anointing someone as if the prospective employee is doing the club a favor by taking the job and do something relatively foreign to the current Mets leadership----interview people!!!

As for the tradable pieces; K-Rod is a no-brainer. They're desperate to get rid of him, his baggage and his contract. He's owed a guaranteed $15 million with a $17.5 million appearance/health option for 2012 that he's going to reach barring anything unforeseen. (Presumably K-Rod repeatedly punching his father-in-law in the face and tearing his thumb falls into the category of "unforeseen".) The contract is contingent on the Mets losing their attempt to "un-guarantee" the contract for K-Rod's fight with his father-in-law.

Reyes is more dicey.

This has nothing to do with a self-indulgent and capricious attempt to garner attention by "breakin' up 'da core" as Francesa said repeatedly over the past few years (he's now using a different terminology, but with the same ends in mind----getting Reyes and/or David Wright off the Mets). It has to do with analyzing the situation and coming to the determination that major changes need to be made to the club's construction.

The Mets would be foolish not to survey the landscape for proposed trades of Reyes and/or Wright. With the way things have unraveled year-after-year and on a massive scale, perhaps it is time to make a bold maneuver. Reyes has an option for 2011 at $11 million that will be exercised; he's been hurt for most of the past two seasons. The club could get by with Scutaro as a veteran in case Ruben Tejada can't handle the job next year. I like Tejada a lot defensively and believe he'll eventually hit; he has to get stronger, but he has a quick bat and puts a good hip turn on the ball. He looks and moves like a player and has great natural instincts.

Castillo will be gone one way or the other. His contract is up at the end of next season at $6 million and, contrary to the prevailing beliefs, they'll be able to move it somewhere.

Papelbon would replace K-Rod; Matsuzaka needs to get out of Boston and would be a background factor who'd benefit from the big ballpark and switch to the National League. The Mets could find a second baseman the likes of Orlando Hudson, Clint Barmes or Ryan Theriot (they could use Scutaro or Tejada at or short/second) to hold the position until Reese Havens is ready.


Given the disaster that has been 2010 on and off the field, there's a viable question as to whether GM Jack Zduriencik is going to still have a job after the season. Making personnel mistakes is one thing; presiding over an off-field embarrassment is another and team CEO Howard Lincoln is not happy. The Josh Lueke affair has put Zduriencik's status is serious jeopardy.

Be that as it may, they have to get Figgins out of there. He plays as if he's miserable (presumably because he is miserable) in Seattle; it must've been a drastic culture shock for Figgins to go from the regimented and "all for one", chain-of-command based atmosphere with the Angels to the dysfunctional Mariners and it's shown in his play and behavior. The shift to second base didn't help either. He's been awful.

Figgins has $26 million guaranteed through 2013 and a vesting option that, barring injury, he'll reach to make it $35 million through 2014.

The Mariners need a better closer than David Aardsma and K-Rod will be on his best behavior wherever he goes. The possibility exists that the Mariners----reeling from this season with Milton Bradley, Figgins and Lueke----might take a zero-tolerance policy and refuse to touch bad actors. This would be understandable and could undo any potential deal for K-Rod.

Castillo is a cheap acquisition and only in the proposal because the money fits. Dustin Ackley is the Mariners second baseman of the future, but like Scutaro to the Mets, Castillo would be veteran insurance just in case.

Red Sox:

Boston is in panic-mode for no reason. They've become accustomed to success and expect a title contender every single year no matter what. Greed is fine to a point, but when put into context, they have absolutely nothing to complain about. They've been unlucky with injuries and that they happen to be in a division that has two teams that are better than they are. That they've been able to stay in some semblance of contention with the injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron and Victor Martinez deserves praise rather than frantic calls for substantial alterations.

But you can't tell that to a Red Sox fan as resignation of a missed playoff year in 2010 settles into their collective psyches. As cold, calculating and detached as Theo Epstein and the club operation is, they're not immune to outside pressures. Attempting to go with pitching and defense instead of offense this year is not what undid the club as I expected it would----they're still second in the league in runs scored. The aforementioned injuries, shaky starting pitching and the two teams in front of them are the problem.

Adrian Beltre has been an MVP candidate with his clutch bat and defense; Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury have missed pretty much the whole season. David Ortiz has a $12.5 million option for 2012; Matsuazka is a pain on and off the field whose marketing assets don't outweigh his inconsistency and exasperating attitude.

The club has a large amount of money coming off the books if they choose to move on from Ortiz; resist the temptation to keep Beltre; trade Papelbon and elevate Daniel Bard to closer; move Scutaro; and let Victor Martinez leave. Bill Hall's $8.4 million will be gone as well. Mike Lowell's contract is expiring and the Beltre situation mirrors that of Lowell in that the Red Sox only acquired Lowell as a necessary addendum to getting Josh Beckett not expecting much for an injury-plagued veteran and wound up with an MVP candidate on the field (he was the 2007 World Series MVP), and leader in the clubhouse.

Papelbon has worn out his welcome with the Red Sox. They've had enough of him in every aspect; don't like paying big money for a closer; and he hasn't exactly been reliable this year. It has nothing to do with his latest blowup from yesterday, but that he's expensive and will be moved one way or the other.

Figgins is a darling of the stat zombies because of his ability to get on base. He'd presumably be happier in the more structured and successful atmosphere of Boston and wouldn't be expected to do too much. The Mariners lineup had no one to drive Figgins in, so what was the use of his on base ability and speed?

Reyes will play like a maniac in the last year of his contract. The Red Sox have repeatedly tried to get Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins, but given the financial revelations of how much cash the Marlins are pocketing due to their frugality, it's hard to see them trading either Ramirez or Dan Uggla. Another option at shortstop is Reyes.

With the available cash, consistent contention and versatility of Youkilis, the Red Sox can do many things. They can move Youkilis to third base and go after Adrian Gonzalez, but that would cost a chunk of the farm system and they'd have to pay Gonzalez a free agent contract; such would not be the case with this idea.

How would the Red Sox lineup look with Ellsbury batting 9th; Figgins leadoff; and Reyes second? Do you know how much havoc they would wreak on the basepaths? How many runs Youkilis would drive in? He might have 150 RBI. Or more.

Another possiblity with the free money, acquistions or Reyes and Figgins is a little payback on the Yankees.

The Red Sox could go after Cliff Lee.

Pitching was supposed to be the Red Sox strength, especially in the starting rotation.

It hasn't been.

John Lackey was acquired for his post-season gravitas, but they don't do much good if the team isn't in the post-season. He's pitched poorly for the most part. He'll be better in the coming years if he's healthy, but they need to bolster the rotation again.

How would the rotation of Lee, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Lackey look? Do you want them coming at you not just in a short, post-season series, but in any series?

The machinations between the Yankees and Red Sox are always great theater. Having lost out on Mark Teixeira due to a lull in their usual astute analysis and decisiveness, they're looking for a little payback for the Yankees swooping in and pulling Teixeira from their grasp.

The Red Sox thought they were the only serious players for Teixeira and weren't.

The Yankees think they're the only serious players for Lee.

In fact, there's an attitude of fait accompli that Lee is already being fitted for pinstripes. I don't believe that the Red Sox are going to sit by and let that happen without at least checking in on what it would take to get Lee.

Lee's back issues and poor performance for the Rangers might give certain teams pause, but he'll still get his money. How sweet would it be for the Red Sox to make a lightning strike and get Lee for their rotation while simultaneously keeping him away from the Yankees? The consensus is that Lee wants money. Period. And he doesn't care where he has to go to get it----just like Teixeira.

Even if the Red Sox don't get Lee, the collateral impact will make it worthwhile for them to get involved in the bidding. Let's say, hypothetically, the Yankees have to pay an extra $20-30 million than they had allocated to get Lee because of a bidding war with their bitter rival; with the Yankees no longer arbitrarily spending budgetless amounts of money with no regard to payroll, perhaps getting Lee will cost the Yankees an important lefty reliever; or a bench player that might have gotten a big hit or out to haunt the Red Sox in a game in late September.

It's not all about the one player in the constant duel between the two teams and if they prevent the Yankees from making a corresponding move, then they've executed a strategy for a flank attack.

This would be a massive deal.

It would shake baseball up from top-to-bottom. But if you get passed the eye-rolling and ridicule, it makes sense for everyone. It's like a difficult to solve puzzle, but the pieces fit. Complicated and explosive, it's feasible for everyone involved----and could turn into an unexpected and recurring nightmare for the Yankees.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Thursday talking about a lot of stuff. You can download it to I-Tunes via Sal's site; visit him on Facebook and get it directly here.

  • My alternate site:

I posted on my alternate site It's My Father's Ring if anyone's interested in non-baseball whatevers.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


Jeff said...

Impressive. Very impressive.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Add in a first round lottery pick and an expiring contract...Then maybe Commish Stern would approve the deal. I'm open to it. I'm all for turning the page on this know that. Anyone is tradable. Mets have Havens, Jon Malo and Flores to work with. A couple of this year's Cyclones had insane years. We'd be OK. Reyes ~ The whole thing with him is the "if" factor. Meh...sell High buy Low.

She-Fan said...

Cliff Lee to the Red Sox would put a stake in my heart. But Papelbon to the Mets would make me very happy. :)