Depressed Mets Fan

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Yankees sign A.J. Burnett

Posted by jmkraft on December 12, 2008

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting through Jerry Crasnick that the Yanks have inked Burnett to five years and $82.5 million. It was that fifth year that Burnett was requesting, and my guess is that the Braves, who were the other bidder, wouldn’t give him more than four. 

I hate the Yankees for being able to do this, but I’m happy that Atlanta lost out. Now for the Braves, the question is who they’ll be able to sign. Will they resign John Smoltz? Will they bid for Derek Lowe? Or will the Atlanta rotation continue to be mediocre? My money is on the third choice, at least for now.

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Could two closer situation get awkward?

Posted by jmkraft on December 12, 2008

closers2

First of all, let me clarify that I am very, very happy that the Mets have acquired the services of both Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. Ecstatic is more like it, actually. But I couldn’t help but think, as the cynical Mets fan I am, that having two All Star closers in one bullpen could possibly lead to an awkward situation. Here is what Keith Law had to say about the acquisition of Putz:

If he’s fully healthy, he’s one of the most dominant late-game relievers around, with outstanding control and an out-pitch splitter. He’ll make more of a difference to the Mets’ bullpen than the other guy they acquired this week.

So the possibility of Putz out-pitching K-Rod seems a real possibility. Let’s compare their pitching lines from 2007, because Putz was injured for part of last season.

Putz: 68 G, 71.2 IP, 37 H, 11 ER, 6 HR, 13 BB, 82 SO, 6 W, 1 L, 40 SV, 2 BLSV, 1.38 ERA

Rodriguez: 64 G, 67.2 IP, 50 H, 21 ER, 3 HR, 34 BB, 90 SO, 5 W, 2 L, 40 SV, 6 BLSV, 2.81 ERA

Yep, Putz was better in 2007. Not that K-Rod was particularly bad, though. So the question is, should Putz prove to have a better start to the year than K-Rod, does he assume the closer role? Or does Jerry Manuel realize that K-Rod is the guy signed for three years while Putz is a free agent after the season in all likelihood, and keep the roles as they are now for the purposes of continuity? Note here that Jerry has said before that he likes to play the hot hand. But, then again, he seemed to lock Luis Ayala into the closer role very, very quickily as to better define roles in the bullpen last year. 

The Mets have had two closers before. In 1986, RHP Roger McDowell had 22 saves, while  LHP Jesse Orosco recorded 21. In 1999, LHP John Franco had 19 saves and RHP Armando Benitez had 22. So it’s been done before. But let’s be real here, the Mets have never had two pitchers like Putz and K-Rod in their bullpen at once. Not only that, both of these guys are established closers, two of the best in the game. So the possibility of a power struggle is real. 

I’m encouraged by the fact that, apparently, Putz’s agent told him that he’ll be a set-up man for a championship team for just one year and then he can cash in on the free agent market. And, apparently, that was enough for Putz to accept his new role. But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if this topic comes up again in the future.

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Phillies sign Raul Ibañez, Mets don’t really care

Posted by jmkraft on December 12, 2008

Sure, the Mets had been linked to Raul Ibañez for some time, and sure, it would have been an nice story for the native New Yorker to come home and open up Citi Field in left field. 

But while the Mets are hardly starved for cash, Ibañez would have been an expensive solution to a problem that can be solved very easily. In fact, it might not even be a problem at all. While many are wary of leaving left field to a combination of Fernando Tatis/Daniel Murphy/Nick Evans, keep in mind that the Mets were getting excellent production out of this position last year.

Even if Omar Minaya desires an upgrade at the position, there are plenty of other more than adequate outfielders on the free agent market. I’m a big fan of signing Juan Rivera, who could be this year’s best free agent bargain. Rivera has been hidden on the Angels bench for much of the past few seasons, and he provides the right-handed power that the Mets have been looking for. In 2006, with the Angels, he hit .310 with 23 HR and 85 RBIs in 124 games. 

Then, there is Ibañez’s fielding. I didn’t realize what a bad fielder he really is, but Matthew Artus of Always Amazin’ does a great job of summing it up:

Yes, Ibanez can hit. He put up a .293/.358/.479 in 2008 with 23 HRs and a BB/K ratio of 0.58 in 707 PAs. And both Bill James (.278/.343/.448 with 22 HRs and a 0.57 BB/K ratio) and Marcel (.277/.342/.461 with 21 HRs and a 0.51 BB/K ratio in 617 PAs) project numbers in that neighborhood for Ibanez’s 2009 season. So he’s consistent. Then why not sign him? 

Because he’s dead weight in left field. That’s a big statement, considering most teams hide their worst defender in left field as its the least busy position on the field. But Ibanez is at the bottom.

Of players with over 500 PAs this season, Ibanez put up a -17.1, ranking last among left fielders in average BIS and STATS rating (as provided by Justin’s Stats). For perspective, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun led left fielders with 500 ABs, posting a 9.1 rating while Fernando Tatis (-3.1 in 306 PAs) and Daniel Murphy (-1.3 in 151 PAs) kept their defense in more respectable areas than Ibanez.

So the only reason to be upset about the Phillies signing Ibañez is the fact that he’s on the Phillies, which means that he will take Pat Burrell‘s place as Met Killer.

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Heyman: Mets, Cubs talking Marquis trade

Posted by jmkraft on December 11, 2008

Per Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman:

The Mets and Cubs are discussing a trade that would send Jason Marquis home to New York.Marquis, a Staten Island native, would fill a need in the Mets’ rotation at a reasonable cost. The Cubs are offering to pay some of Marquis’ $9.5-million 2009 salary to defray the cost. The Mets could also consider sending reliever Scott Schoeneweis to the Cubs to further offset Marquis’ salary.

Not a total surprise here, as Marquis fits the bill for the fifth starter the Mets have been looking for. At the very least, acquiring Marquis would have two nice side effects. One would be to put some pressure on Jon Niese, who otherwise would come into Spring Training annointed as the fifth starter, which has trouble written all over it. The second is to get rid of Scott Schoeneweiss, who is probably unfairly maligned by Mets fans because he has been grossly misused in his tenure with the team. But with two lefty-specialists on the roster, the bullpen is unfairly constrained, and it’s time to get rid of one of them. 

Here are Marquis’ stats from last season:

29 G (28 GS), 0 CG, 0 SHO, 167.0 IP, 172 H, 87 R (84 ER), 15 HR, 70 BB, 91 SO, 11 W, 9 L, 94.6 P/GS, 1.45 WHIP, .267 BAA, 4.53 ERA

Those stats are almost identical to his career averages, so we know what we would get. I don’t like his WHIP or K/BB, but he’s a serviceable fifth starter who gives his team a chance to win every fifth day (gotta love those baseball cliches).

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MLB.com: Mets acquire RHP J.J. Putz

Posted by jmkraft on December 11, 2008

According to Jim Street of MLB.com, the New York Mets have traded RHP Aaron Heilman (!), OF Endy Chavez, and 1B Mike Carp to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for RHP J.J. Putz, reliever Sean Green (really?), and CF Jeremy Reed (who?). They have also sent RHP Joe Smith (bummer) to Cleveland, who send OF Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle in exchange for 2B Luis Valbuena

Wow, did this move fast. I’m going to have to take some time to digest this some more, but obviously there’s a lot to like here. And I’m going to be buying a Putz jersey as soon as possible (as will every Yiddish-speaking Mets fan, which amounts to about 78% of the team’s fanbase).

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My [remaining] Mets Hot Stove Wish-List

Posted by jmkraft on December 11, 2008

At the beginning of this year’s Hot Stove season (aka the offseason), I wrote a post  indicating my wish list for Omar Minaya and the Mets’ brass. Here’s an update:

1) A set-up man with closer experience. This could be filled soon if the JJ Putz trade goes forward. If not, I’m looking for either Huston Street or Chad Cordero to fill the gap.

2) At least one starting pitcher. At this point, I think we’re out of the running for Derek Lowe, which is probably a good thing, because the market is way too inflated for a pitcher of his age. Jon Garland or Jason Marquis would be expensive options to compete with Jon Niese for the fifth starter spot, as would Pedro Martinez. Even more expensive would be Oliver Perez, whom I think the Mets will ultimately resign. There really is no great option here, so I’d rather see Omar get creative here, if possible.

3) At least one veteran outfielder. Raul Ibañez probably won’t happen, but I’d be just as happy with Juan Rivera, who could prove to be this year’s most significant bargain. 

4) As many bullpen arms as possible. Seriously, bring in as many guys as is fiscally possible and let them battle it out in Spring Training. Relievers are inconsistent by their very nature, so this is not a bad strategy.

5) Some kind of miracle which would purge Luis Castillo from Flushing and replace him with Orlando Hudson. Sadly, this is just not going to happen. Sigh.

6) A solid utility infielder, and preferably one not named Felipe Lopez. I don’t know why I have a bad feeling that Lopez could find his way to Citi Field. Maybe it’s because the Mets are the place where former Nationals go to continue their mediocrity. Should Castillo find himself starting at second in 2009, he’ll certainly need a backup who is capable of starting if and when he goes down.

7) An end to the “evvvvvvvverybody clap your hands” chant. And to the wave. And to the excessive playing of Sandstorm. Can we enjoy a game in peace for once?

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The Patience of Omar Minaya

Posted by jmkraft on December 11, 2008

Great post by 1050 ESPN Radio’s Rich Coutinho about how Omar Minaya‘s patience has led to two monster moves at bargain prices. He writes:

“Timing and patience–2 attributes that Omar Minaya has clearly used to reel in 2 superstar pitchers. That, my friends defines a great general manager and Met fans should wake up this morning thanking their lucky stars that Omar sits in that chair in Citi Field.”

Mets fans love to criticize Minaya for mistakes he’s made, like Luis Castillo‘s ridiculous extention, trading Brian Bannister for Ambiorix Burgos, trading Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, and others who could have improved the abysmal bullpen, failing to fix said bullpen, and failing to provide adequate depth in the outfield last year. But the fact is that, in pulling off last year’s trade for Johan Santana and in waiting until the time was right to sign Francisco Rodriguez, Omar has proven that he is incredibly adept at knowing when to make moves.

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Are the Mets close to landing JJ Putz?!?

Posted by jmkraft on December 11, 2008

Well let’s just say I was surprised tonight when a Ken Rosenthal report came across the interwebs suggesting that the Mets, Mariners, and Indians are close on a deal to send JJ Putz to New York. The Mets would send Aaron Heilman (good riddance!), Mike Carp (not needed if Nick Evans is a real part of the future) and Endy Chavez (great defense and speed but I’m ready to move on) to Cleveland, who would send young outfielder Franklin Guttierez to Seattle. As crazy as this may sound, and as fast as it came on, I think this deal is phenomenal. The Mets would be giving up very little (Heilman is a goner anyway and the two other players are a small price to pay), Seattle would be getting a very good pitching prospect, and Cleveland would get a lot of upside in Heilman (yes, he does have upside) and Carp, with a good fourth outfielder in Endy. And the Mets would be getting their set-up man with closer experience.

Pull the trigger, Omar!

UPDATE:

Now, apparently, Joe Smith is somehow involved. I don’t like this deal as much anymore, though I think it would still be a good one for the Mets.

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Should the Mets resign Pedro Martinez?

Posted by jmkraft on December 10, 2008

Just after the Mets finally agreed to terms with Francisco Rodriguez today, it was reported that Omar Minaya and the Mets brass are interested in bringing back Pedro Martinez next season. This goes against previous reports which had suggested that the Mets and Pedro were ready to part ways.

I can’t make up my mind here. Part of me wants to believe that Pedro had such a bad year last year both in baseball and in his personal life that he is poised for a resurgence next year. And I really, really don’t want to see him with lights out stuff on, say, the Nationals. But part of me also realizes that Pedro is over the hill, and that last year wasn’t an abberation, but merely a premonition. 

I’d feel comfortable bringing Pedro back if the Mets make at least one other deal to solidify the back end of the rotation. We’re not going to sign C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Ben Sheets, or Derek Lowe, but that doesn’t mean Omar shouldn’t do everything in his power to bring in a Kyle Lohse-caliber arm (I’m still bitter about not inking Lohse when we had the chance last year). Jon Garland has been mentioned, as has Jason Marquis, who could probably be swapped for Aaron Heilman. Let’s also not forget about Oliver Perez, who might not find another suitor with his exorbitant price. Combine all of these options with what Jon Niese might bring to the table and the Mets could have some good options. 

My plea to the Mets fans and members of the sports media who are going to be tearing Pedro a new one while the internal debate on whether or not to bring him back progresses, is to remember how great of a pitcher Pedro Martinez is. The guy is a Hall of Famer, and while he is certainly past the prime of his career, he is still Pedro Martinez. My point is, if the signing is low risk in nature, why not see what can happen?

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Mets sign K-Rod

Posted by jmkraft on December 9, 2008

Not a huge surprise here as the Mets seem to have finally come to terms with closer Francisco Rodriguez. The great news here, besides having acquired the pitcher who set the Major League record for saves in a season, is that the Mets did so at a bargain price. inking K-Rod to three years and $37 million. There are few things to be thankful for in regard to the current financial crisis, but this is certainly one of them. 

Now it’s time to go out and get a supporting cast. I’m not talking about just a set-up man, I want to see a whole new crew of bullpen pitchers brought in to compete for jobs in Spring Training. Let’s hope Omar learned from what the Rays and Phillies did with their bullpens last year.

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