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Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Rodriguez’

10 free agents who should be on the Mets’ radar

Posted by jmkraft on January 7, 2009

With the signings of Pat Burrell and Milton Bradley by the Rays and Cubs respectively, experts are predicting that the floodgates will now open, and teams will actually start to sign players, as opposed to sitting on rumors, which is what they’ve pretty much done for the past few months. 

Before I list the ten players who I think the Mets should consider, here’s something worth considering for Omar & Co. The Mets are one of baseball’s richest franchises, and, being in that enviable position in this year’s harsh economic climate, should really cash in this year. With all due respect for baseball’s “suffering” owners, this is the time that the Mets should act like the Yankees and sign the best talent that they can. Economics dictates to buy low, and that is precisely what the Mets have already done in the case of K-Rod, and what they should be doing from here on out. 

Anyway, here goes:

1) Manny Ramirez. I put Manny first on the list because it’s impossible to stretch how impactful he can be on a team. We all saw what happened when Manny joined the Dodgers last summer, and we all know that he’s a surefire Hall of Famer. But he’s also Manny, the circus freak. Unleashing him in New York could be a huge mistake. But he’s Manny Ramirez. The guy makes a team (some might say he breaks it). Seriously try and make the argument that a platoon of Dan Murphy and Fernando Tatis is an improvement over Manny. Even defensively, try and tell me that two converted infielders can cover left field better than Manny, no matter how dicey his defense may be. I understand why the Wilpons are nervous about dealing with such a high risk personality, but if your ultimate goal is to win baseball games, there is no reason why Manny Ramirez, whose price will ultimately prove too high for almost everyone, should not be a New York Met. If the Wilpons want to contend in the NL East, then they should tell Omar not to sign Manny. If they want to win a World Series this year, they must sign him.

2) Derek Lowe. It’s all but clear that the Mets will sign either Lowe or Oliver Perez. The question is, who is the better choice. Lowe represents the dependable veteran. He won’t blow anyone away, but you know what you’re getting. 

3) Oliver Perez. With Perez, unlike Lowe, there is electric potential. When Perez is on, he is a shutdown southpaw who blows batters away. But when he is off, he can’t make it past the fourth inning. There is no question that Perez needs to get his walks down, something that has always been the case with him. But he can flat out dominate when he brings his “A” game. Plus, he is a whole lot younger than Lowe, which should mean something in a long-term deal for a pitcher. 

4) Orlando Hudson. If hell freezes over and Luis Castillo is somehow unloaded from second base, I would love to make a play for Hudson. He’d be a terrific fit in the number two slot for the Mets; he’s fast, he hits for average, and he has some power. Plus, Hudson is an excellent defender, which is always an improvement over Argenis Reyes. Hudson is well known as a clubhouse leader, something the Mets have been lacking for some time now.

5) Bobby Abreu. Why does everyone love to hate on Bobby Abreu? I’ve never met a Phillies fan who actually liked him. That should be the first reason why the Mets sign him. But seriously, Abreu is a really good player. All he did last year was hit .296 with 20 HR, 100 RBIs, and 22 SB. No big deal. Here’s what Jerry Crasnick has to say about him:

  • This year Abreu joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson as the only players to amass 200 homers and 300 stolen bases while maintaining a .400 on-base percentage.

  • Abreu is one of five players with 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in each of the past two seasons. The others: Chase Utley, Adrian Gonzalez, David Wright and Alex Rodriguez.

  • His run of six straight 100-RBI seasons is third-longest among active players behind Rodriguez and Pujols.

  • In 2008, Abreu amassed 35 or more doubles for the 10th straight year, tying the record held by Colorado’s Todd Helton. Hall of Famer Tris Speaker is next on the list with nine straight 35-double seasons, and he did his best work during the Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge administrations.

  • Abreu has the longest-running streak of 20-steal seasons in the game, with 10. Jimmy Rollins, Ichiro Suzuki and Juan Pierre are next in line with eight.

  • Abreu is currently working on a streak of 11 straight seasons with 150 or more games played. The only big leaguers with longer streaks are Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Pete Rose and Cal Ripken Jr.

6) Alex Cora. First of all, he gives the Mets an improvement over Damian Easley because he’s actually been to the playoffs. Cora has starting experience, so he could certainly give David Wright or Jose Reyes a day off once in a while, which might pay dividends come September. He’d be a nice addition to the bench.

7) Tim Redding. The big news on Redding this morning is that the Mets have reportedly made an offer to the journeyman. Redding is not spectacular by any means. He did win ten games for the Nationals last year, which says something, but he was also dreadful in the second half of the season, which was probably to be expected after Jim Bowden failed to sell high on him, instead non-tendering him this fall. The reason for signing Redding has more to do with Jon Niese than with Redding himself. The biggest mistake the Mets could make this offseason is in failing to sign a fifth starter to compete with Niese for the fifth spot in Spring Training. Without opening that spot up to competition, the Mets are making a huge gamble that Niese is Major League-ready, which probably is not the case. Behind Niese, there is little pitching depth in the farm system, meaning that the Mets would have to turn to an AAAA type pitcher to take the mound every fifth day. While there have been some nice surprises here and there like Brandon Knight and Brian Stokes, I’d feel much more comfortable with a more established starter holding down the spot until Niese is ready, or another pitching prospect emerges, which is also entirely possible.

8 ) Randy Wolf. He’d be the backup plan to Redding.

9) Chad Cordero. If the season started today, the Mets would have a pretty solid bullpen. Led by Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, the pen is also anchored by Sean Green and Pedro Feliciano, who will finally be used in his correct role as LOOGY. But why stop there? The most significant problem in the bullpen last year was the lack of depth. Should one or more of the aforementioned pitchers hit the DL, I would hate to count on Bobby Parnell or Eddie Kunz in a big-time situation. Cordero is a former lights-out closer coming off of a bad injury, so who knows how he’ll rebound. But the potential should be enough to convince Omar Minaya, his former GM in Montreal, to sign him. Should Cordero return to form, imagine a 7-8-9 combination of Cordero, Putz, and K-Rod. Holy @*#$!

10) Adam Dunn. Ahh, the other guy everyone loves to hate. But seriously, someone tell me how a guy who hit 40 HR with 100 RBI last season, who also posted an OBP of .386, is still on the market. “Yeah, but he strikes out too much,” everyone loves to whine. The truth is that Dunn is one of the most misunderstood players in baseball. Putting a player like Dunn in the middle of the Mets’ lineup automatically ensures that David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado see better pitches. Sure, his defense is sub par. But as with Manny or Abreu, tell me how that would be a downgrade from the Murphy/Tatis platoon.


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Could two closer situation get awkward?

Posted by jmkraft on December 12, 2008


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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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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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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Mets “on brink” of signing K-Rod

Posted by jmkraft on December 9, 2008

According to a number of sources, the Mets appear to be on the brink of signing Francisco Rodriguez. Per David Lennon of Newsday:


“The Mets appeared to be closing fast on a deal for Francisco Rodriguez late Monday night after another productive round of meetings with K-Rod’s agent, Paul Kinzer. The two sides made significant progress Sunday over dinner on the eve of the winter meetings, then took a giant step forward on Day One at the Bellagio.

Despite an opening offer of two years and roughly $24 million that included a vesting option for a third, the Mets and K-Rod are now prepared to agree on a three-year deal that should also be worth about $12 million per season. As one person familiar with the situation explained on Monday, the initial offer was part of a feeling-out process that would likely result in a three-year deal.

Kinzer told reporters here late Monday night that he was “optimistic” after his latest sitdown with the Mets, who should be thrilled to begin their holiday shopping with such a relative bargain. When this offseason began, Kinzer was hopeful that K-Rod would command a five-year, $75-million deal. But the market for closers was flooded this year and the Mets were able to better their negotiating stance by keeping Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman and Kerry Wood in the mix, along with possible trades for J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks.”


I appreciate the fact that the Mets mean business here. Go in, get the most important deal done first, then move on. We can’t stop here. If Omar Minaya is smart, he’ll announce the signing or acquisition of a set-up man or at least another established reliever soon after K-Rod is [hopefully] signed. 

One more thing, I think that people will eventually look back at this deal as a major indicator of how the economic downturn has affected the sports industry. The fact that K-Rod jumped on this deal so quickily says a lot. If I’m Brian Fuentes or Kerry Wood, I’m a little worried right now.

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Posted by jmkraft on December 9, 2008

For some time now I’ve been trying to come up with a new twist on a Mets blog until it hit me. Why not use the angle that is so natural to me, writing about the Mets from the point of view of a depressed fan who has been disappointed for his entire life? I’ve been writing about the Mets for a while, first on (let it rest in peace) and then on my personal blog. I quickily discovered that no one really wanted to read that, so I decided this might be a better idea. Being the cynic I am (thanks a lot, Mets), I’m fairly sure the same will be true here. 

So yeah, I’ve been a Mets fan my whole life, and I’m none the better for it. The Mets last won the World Series the year I was born, and I’m pretty sure that will be last time they win in my lifetime. And I don’t plan on leaving the Earth for some time, thank you very much. I’m pretty convinced that the Mets have, in fact, ruined my life, conspiring with the Jets and Knicks to make me the sarcastic, depressed person who I am today.

But in all seriousness, I do love the Mets, and I love to write about them. More than loving the Mets, I love the sport of baseball, and I’ll write about more than just the Amazin’s when I’m so inspired. I’ll also slip in some other sports, perhaps, because there’s only so much I can write about Francisco Rodriguez in the offseason. 

In terms of how I approach the sport, I consider myself a pretty balanced fan. I’m a fan of sabermetrics and loved Moneyball like everyone else, but I do believe that scouting is still an important aspect of the game. I think John Schuerholz put it well in his autobiography when he said that no team would ever sign a player, no matter how good on paper, without watching him play the game. But at the same time, numbers don’t lie. 

I generally respect Omar Minaya and the team he’s put together, but I do think it has a number of significant faults. The Luis Castillo signing was a significant mistake, for one. Not concentrating enough on the bullpen was another. But I think Omar is a good judge of talent, and I have faith that he’ll put together a competative, if not dominating team this year. And the deal he pulled off for Johan Santana was incredible. If I had to pick a GM who I most admire, though, it would have to be Andrew Friedman of Tampa Bay, who did so much with so little. I’m a pretty big Theo Epstein fan, too.

I hate the Philadelphia Phillies with every bone in my body, but I respect the job the organization did in putting together a World Championship team. I even count Chase Utley as one of my favorite players for his old-school approach to the game of baseball. Don’t worry, one of my other favorites is David Wright (I know its cliche, but seriously, he’s already one of the best Mets ever and I don’t buy the argument that he’s not clutch, he presses at the plate because he gets no support so much of the time).

Let’s move on to the medium of blogging. Blogging is the future (and part of the present) of media, and like it or not, blogs will eventually have to become part of the mainstream sports media. I believe that bloggers should be given more access, and I also believe that bloggers should hold themselves to the same standards as print journalists. It’s a two way street. 

In terms of a day job, well, the current economic crisis has me sitting on the sideline for now, but in short, I have two career interests, sports and politics. Separate, they are each great. Together, not so much. 

My hope is that this blog somehow contributes to the great collection of Mets blogs out there already. Seriously, the Mets are lucky to have so many quality blogs writing about them. But there is always room for more opinion, and Mets fans have never been accused of being quiet (see: response at Shea Stadium to Rocker, John). But hey, that’s why I love this team that ruins my life.

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