Monday, December 13, 2010

With The Passage Of Time

  • Genius is fleeting:

As the cumulative damage from years of abuse took their toll on Muhammad Ali and he was stricken with boxer-related Parkinson's Syndrome, Joe Frazier claimed to have been the "winner" of their three epic battles.

It took years and years for him to be able to make that claim after losing two of the three fights, but it's not an absurd thought to suggest that the true nature of "victory" can't be immediately determined; nor can it be stated with a finality based on little other than the transitory assessments of others who may or may not have a stake in the result.

Such is the case in baseball trade.

While any deal may seem to be brilliant when it's initially consummated, it can take years for the true results to be established.

Did Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz look good for the Tigers when Alexander was unhittable for a month and led them to a division title in 1987?

As bad as the Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell trade ended for the Red Sox, Andersen did help the Red Sox win the 1990 AL East.

And would the Marlins want to re-do the Ugueth Urbina deal to get Adrian Gonzalez back? Even after the Marlins won the World Series in 2003? I'd always take the World Series title over a player's career regardless of how great the player is----there are so many variables in development that Gonzalez might never have become what he is now had he stayed with the Marlins; you can never, ever take away that championship ring.

It's a little different in the case of the J.J. Putz trade to the Mets.

Because of the perceptions of the architects of both clubs----the Mariners and the Mets----there was immediate ridicule doled on the Mets and accolades on top of accolades for Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. Because he received a lot of stuff and cleared salary, Zduriencik was again portrayed as a the perfect blend of scouting experience and stats as he rebuilt the Mariners after a 100-loss disaster in 2008. It was made worse when Putz got hurt for the Mets and the allegations that the Mets GM Omar Minaya didn't perform due diligence in making sure Putz was healthy before completing the transaction.

At the time though, was it that big of a mistake----in theory----for the Mets?

And has it been, with the passage of time, a gigantic win for the Mariners?

Let's take a look at all the participants and what the teams have ended up two years after the fact.

The Mets received RHP J.J. Putz; RHP Sean Green; OF/1B Jeremy Reed.

Putz was a good idea that plainly and simply didn't work. He whined incessantly about not getting the buzz as a set-up man that he did as a closer and, as said earlier, was not healthy. What was interesting was that he took a job with the White Sox after the 2009 season to be a set-up man; I suppose need supersedes want when you have little choice after a terrible year.

He was hurt and miserable; the Mets were savaged for not examining Putz prior to signing off and taking him, but it was more agenda-driven vitriol aimed at the Mets. It's not customary for teams to perform in depth medical examinations before trades are made.

One would presume that Minaya asked Zduriencik and Putz if he was healthy and received an affirmative response. Considering Zduriencik's shady behaviors since----backing out on the Yankees in trading Cliff Lee; the Josh Lueke fiasco----his credibility isn't stellar.

Putz was recently signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks to be their closer.

The Mets bullpen was the impetus of their twin downfalls in 2007 and 2008; Minaya took steps to rectify the situation. On paper, it was a good move for 2009. It didn't work.

As for Green, he'd been a solid enough reliever in the American League. He pitched poorly for the Mets and was non-tendered.

Reed is a journeyman.

In the end, the Mets have nothing remaining on their roster from the trade and Minaya's gone.

The Mariners received OF Endy Chavez; LHP Jason Vargas; RHP Aaron Heilman; 1B/DH Mike Carp; OF Ezequiel Carrera; RHP Maikel Cleto; and from the Indians, OF Franklin Gutierrez.

Chavez blew out his knee. That's no one's fault. He is what he is----a brilliant defender and speedy hitter with a flair for the dramatic.

I'm no fan of Vargas; he was atrocious with the Mets----atrocious----and the biggest mistake Minaya made with Vargas wasn't trading him to the Mariners.


The biggest mistake Minaya made was trading Matt Lindstrom to get Vargas in the first place.

Vargas was bad for the Mariners in 2009; serviceable in 2010. He's a cunnythumber who gets away with his average (at best) stuff because he's lefty and throws across his body.

Heilman was traded to the Cubs for infielder Ronny Cedeno and LHP Garrett Olson. Heilman isn't good. Cedeno was traded to the Pirates in a multi-player deal for RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson----both expensive disasters.

Olson is a lefty who's gotten hammered by hitters from both sides of the plate; like most relievers, he could eventually have some use.

In an intensely odd call, Zduriencik traded Carrera (a minor league talent with speed) to the Indians to reacquire Russell Branyan after letting Branyan leave as a free agent following the 2009 season.

Carp is a bat who, one would think, should've gotten a chance to play in the midst of the Mariners horrific 2010 season just so they could have a look at what they have. He didn't. Carp's shown pop in the minors.

Cleto is 21, is still in the low minors and has gotten blasted everywhere he's been. Zduriencik traded him to the Cardinals over the weekend for Brendan Ryan. Ryan was terrible in 2010.

One excellent maneuver was getting Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians as the Mets sent Joe Smith to Cleveland. Smith is a sidearming righty reliever who's pitched well at times, but Gutierrez is considered one of the best, if not the best defensive center fielder in baseball. He has pop too. Zduriencik signed him to a long-term contract.

It's easy to pile on after the 2010 nightmare endured by the Mariners on and off the field, but that's not what I'm doing. I'm putting everything into perspective. Zduriencik----lauded as a new thinking "Amazin' Exec" by none other than Joel Sherman as he went into one of his familiar rants against the Mets----has seen his reputation as both a baseball man and as a human being brought down to earth to a remarkable degree.

The Mariners signed Jack Cust to improve the offense; they're closing in on Miguel Olivo to catch----two imports that will make a rotten offense better; they hired a quality manager and man in Eric Wedge; but the bloom is off the genius. Zduriencik is teetering in Seattle and if there's anything close to the gaffes he made in 2010, he'll be out of a job a year from now.

That's objective reality in full context.

  • Viewer Mail 12.13.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Cliff Lee:

I'm sick of hearing about Cliff Lee too. What's worse is I'm sick of writing about him!

Normally, we'd be happy that there's something so easy to squeeze out a posting, but it's enough. More than enough.

Mike Fierman writes RE Melky Cabrera:

was wondering if you could give an example of one of melky's strengths.

Asking me complicated questions at this hour of the morning is dirty pool.

NapLajoieonSteroids writes RE Cliff Lee:

This is one Yankee fan who hopes that he goes to Texas. This has all the trappings of the Giambi contract and not the Mussina contract. Lee's back problems are a huge warning sign and the Yankees would be better off without, what will surely be, another albatross-like contract.

I'd still want him if I were a Yankees fan, but I see what you're saying. The big question has to be what the Yankees have in mind as a back-up plan. Brian Cashman has to have something on the burner ready to go if Lee stays in Texas; the options are limited, but there are some quality pitchers out there available via trade.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Royals:

Oooooh boy watch out! Barbecue ain't the only thing on the KC menu! The Suck Train is goin' full steam ahead!

It's out of control at this point.

  • Linking the Prince:

My postings regarding the failings of Moneyball has been a topic of discussion in the following forum----Baseball Fever----check it out.

I was on with SportsFan Buzz on Wednesday talking about the Red Sox; Cliff Lee; Carl Crawford; Jayson Werth; the Yankees; the McCourts; Zack Greinke; and the ESPN broadcasters.

I'll be on again with Sal this Wednesday as well.

Get the link directly here----The SportsFan Buzz: December 8, 2010----or on I-Tunes; you can go to Sal's Twitter feed and site as well.

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