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Posts Tagged ‘JJ Putz’

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.
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  • 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.
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  • His run of six straight 100-RBI seasons is third-longest among active players behind Rodriguez and Pujols.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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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Same s#@t, different sport

Posted by jmkraft on December 22, 2008

It was nice for a while. After watching the Mets collapse, again, the Jets surprised us, and actually looked like the team they were supposed to be. They beat Tennessee, and if they could do that, they could go to the Super Bowl.

And then, the ghost of bullpens past arrived from Queens and cast its miserable spell on the team that used to share that cursed stadium. The Jets were suddenly a different team, a mediocre team, a choking team, and that miserable pit in my stomach that I got every time I watched Luis Ayala take the mound this September resurfaced, only now it came every time Brett Favre dropped back to pass. 

So now, with just one game to go in the season, it’s basically the same situation as it was for the Mets just a few months ago. Only this time, the Jets don’t control their own destiny, and need Buffalo, of all teams, to beat New England. Ha! Seriously, someone up above has a plan for Mets and Jets fans, and that plan involves decades of suffering. But not just simple suffering suffices, this plan involves actually harboring the belief that your team has a chance, only to see it all come crashing down.

Look, I was excited to see Brett Favre put on a Jets jersey for the first time. But I was also excited to see Billy Wagner show up at Shea before he started to blow saves like it was his job. And just like it’s time for Billy to go back to his llama farm, it’s time for Brett to go back to the bayou. 

So for all of us who are Mets and Jets fans, that miserable breed of self-loathing cynics, all we can do is sit back and watch a guy named Putz don the orange and blue, and wait until the Mets give us something to look forward to again. That is, until the next collapse.

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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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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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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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