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Posts Tagged ‘Omar Minaya’

Thoughts on Lowe-balling Derek

Posted by jmkraft on January 14, 2009

Well, it appears that the Mets will not acquire the services of Derek Lowe after all. We learned yesterday that he will be heading to Atlanta instead for a four-year, $60 million deal.

With few other good pitchers on the market, it was clear that Lowe would be getting a pretty good deal somewhere. But the Mets obviously considered the 35-year old overpriced, and he probably was. Four years for someone in the later stage of their career is a lot, and on one hand, I’m happy that the Mets were conservative on their offer instead of making a Castillo-esque mistake. 

But on the other hand, Lowe is a low-risk (how many times can I use this pun in this post?) player who will probably mature well. Lowe has no injury history, and sinkerball pitchers seem to mature better than fireballers (like Pedro Martinez, for instance). 

I really think the Mets were convinced that their low-ball offer would hold up until the Braves became involved. Once that happened, it was pretty clear that they had a dilemma on their hands. But with Omar preferring Oliver Perez to Lowe anyway, the last thing the Wilpons probably wanted  was to get into a bidding war with a team desperate for a front-end starter.

Now we have to assume that the Mets will get more aggressive about Perez. It’s far from a foregone conclusion that Perez returns, but I can’t see a scenario in which the Mets don’t sign him. The Mets are going to have to accept the fact that Perez will make more money than they want to pay him, because Scott Boras, Perez’s agent, knows that the team is backed into a corner now. Sure, Omar can go out and sign Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, or Pedro Martinez, but those are three much less desirable options. 

In Perez (assuming the signing actually does happen), the Mets move forward with a pitching enigma. Perez can be really, really good or really, really bad. All of the talk about his maturity improving because he got married is ridiculous, and I don’t really see how that’s going to affect him on the mound. There’s tremendous upside with Ollie, but how much longer can we talk about upside with a 27-year old pitcher? But the fact is that a four year deal for a pitcher of his stature, at his age, is not a bad deal. Physically, he is entering his prime. Mentally, well, who knows?

I’m not happy about missing out on Lowe, but Perez is really not a bad section option. Let’s just hope that the Mets don’t drop the ball on him too.

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The Mets, Nats Pipeline keeps on growing

Posted by jmkraft on January 10, 2009

metsnats

Ken Davidoff is reporting that the Tim Redding deal is pretty much done, and that the former National will be making his way to Queens to compete with Jon Niese for the fifth rotation spot (assuming that we actually do sign Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez). More reaction here, here, here, and here. Reaction from the Nationals’ blogosphere here.

Most Mets fans probably have no idea who Tim Redding is, other than that guy who somehow won ten games for the Nationals last year. Having worked for the Nationals, I’ve seen Tim pitch a lot, and my impression of him is more favorable than not. He’s an innings eater who will always give his team a chance to win. In short, you know what you’re getting with him. And anecdotally, I’ll say this. The guy is serious about his game. I saw him in the clubhouse before a couple of his starts and no one goes near him. His expression is somewhere in between Mel Gibson in Braveheart and Russell Crowe in Gladiator. I think he’ll do well in New York, even if it’s only until Niese is ready to go. 

What’s amusing about this signing, should it go through, is that is represents yet another link between the Mets and Nationals organizations. Let’s take a look at the players who have worn both blue and orange and red and white in their careers.

1) Lastings Milledge. Probably the most obvious player to have played for both organizations, Milledge was a top Mets prospect for years before wearing out his welcome in New York. Touted as a five-tools player, Milledge showed flashes, but never matured (or was given a chance to mature), and it was pretty clear that he wouldn’t stick around for long. He was seen as immature by Mets fans and players, a young punk who high-fived fans after hitting an inconsequential home run and who released an infamous hip hop record (Bend Ya Knees by L’Millz–best lyric: “L. Millz, not George Bush, be the President). Traded for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, Milledge’s arrival in Washington was celebrated as an integral move in the Nationals’ youth movement. But after a mediocre year in which he hit .268 with 14 HR and 61 RBIs, and proved unfit to play center field, the Nationals have soured on him, and rumor is that a) the Nationals are trying to trade him and b) that they will open the center field position up for competition between Milledge, should he stay, and Elijah Dukes. Clearly, the Mets knew what they were doing in getting rid of him.

  

 

 

 

 

2) Ryan Church. It’s hard to judge this one, because Church really hasn’t had a fair shot in either Washington or New York. In DC, Church was seen as unable to hit lefties, and he platooned in left for a long time. He even made a trip to the minors in 2006. I’ll admit that I was less than excited for Omar to annoint him the everyday right fielder last year. But Church proved that he could hit anyone, and he was unquestionably the Mets’ MVP before getting his brains knocked around last summer. We’ll see if he regains his pre-second concussion form this year. As a sidenote, Church also infamously asked the Nationals’ chaplain if Jews could go to heaven. A perfect fit in New York.

3) Brian Schneider. The other piece of the trade for Milledge, Schneider supposedly would be the defensive catcher who the Mets lacked. As it turns out, he’s pretty mediocre, although he is a very nice guy, one of the nicest in baseball according to some. He also wears a hockey mask behind the plate. He’s been the same kind of player in both Washington and New York, a good clubhouse guy who apparently calls a good game, but a guy who can’t hit for anything. 

4) Paul Lo Duca. The heart and soul of the 2006 Mets, Paulie broke our hearts when his name was announced on the Mitchell Report. Lo Duca was really the face of the Mets’ franchise, but it was clear by 2007 that he no longer had a place in the lineup as his skills began to diminish. He was also a pretty awful defensive catcher, and everyone stole on him. I mean I could probably steal on him. When the Nationals signed Lo Duca, there were plenty of questions about his steroid-using past, but a general optimism associated with his status as a clubhouse leader. And let me tell you, the Nationals need a clubhouse leader. I’ve met Paul, and he is that type of guy, a player who can motivate his teammates to win. But he couldn’t stay healthy on the Nationals, and was rendered useless once Jesus Flores (we’ll talk about him later) emerged. There was an attempt to transform Lo Duca into a utility player (he played first base and left field at various points in the season), but there was no room for four (yes, four) catchers on the Nationals’ roster, and he was released on August 1. 

5) Anderson Hernandez. This is a strange case. Hernandez was the Mets’ opening day second baseman in 2006, but although he was flashy in the field, he couldn’t hit, and he soon became mired in Triple-A. He had no real future with the Mets, and then, suddenly, was traded for Luis Ayala this past August. When Hernandez arrived in Washington, he started a new life, and became a prolific hitter, hitting .333 in 81 plate appearances. WTF?!? As of now, Hernandez is the second baseman in Washington, and while I thought the Nats would sign Orlando Hudson to take over that position, they now say that they may be done with free agency for this year, which, in Jim Bowden‘s language, means that they are.

6) Luis Ayala. So I’ll admit it, I rooted for the Nationals last summer. I was working for them, so I sort of had to. But it was nice to root for the little team to succeed, except when it was against the Mets, of course. So this is why, when the Mets’ announced that they acquired Luis Ayala, my friends and family were confused to why I rattled off strings of expletives while pounding my fist repeatedly. Ayala used to be a good pitcher. Then he broke down, and started to royally suck. I mean, the guy was like Aaron Heilman‘s less-talented brother. I’ll admit it though, he held it together with the Mets for a while, and I was about to eat crow. That’s until he gave up quite the untimely home run in the last game of 2008, the icing on the bullpen cake. He also made fun of me in Spanish when I was interviewing his best buddy Saul Rivera. I’m not a fan.

7) Jesus Flores. Omar fails to protect him in the Rule-V draft, and he goes on to be the catcher of the future for the Nationals. Nice.

8 ) Endy Chavez. We’ll remember him for The Catch. The Nationals remember him for 7 games.

9) Marlon Anderson. I like Marlon Anderson. He seems like a good guy. He had a great year with the Mets in 2007, and I thought Omar made a great choice adding him to the team mid-year. But he was dreadful this year, and was probably more hurt than we knew. Anderson also played for the Nats, in 2006, hitting a respectable .274. He was traded to the Dodgers after scoring the winning run of a dramatic extra-innings game. Nice.

10) Manny Acta. Ah, the one who got away. A player favorite as a coach in New York, Manny soon found himself in greener pastures a couple of hundred miles south. But he may be soon put out to pasture if his team doesn’t turn it around. This after he received Manager of the Year votes in 2007. Interesting. I’m a huge Manny Acta fan. First of all, he’s a no-BS kind of guy. He looks like the rest of us, speaks like the rest of us, and acts like the rest of us. I remember standing at the Milledge/Lo Duca press conference last year and Manny walked in looking like a 13-year old whose father just tied his tie for him, with a smile from ear to ear. But don’t let the apppearance fool you, Manny Acta is an innovator. He is well known to use Sabermetrics in his daily decision-making, and I have no doubt that he will be a general manager in the future. I’m a Jerry Manuel fan, but should Acta become available, the temptation to bring him back to New York will be great (and, if you believe the rumors in Washington, Manny already wants to come back). 

11) Omar Minaya. Technically, he was never employed by the Nationals, but Omar Minaya’s warmup gig came as General Manager for the Montreal Expos. But this counts, because several moves Omar made were pivotal in ruining the Nationals’ future. The most notable was a trade bringing Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Montreal in exchange for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore. Omar’s tenure in New York has been less disastrous, but still marred by several late-season collapses and a few head-scratching moves (ahem Luis Castillo ahem). But the fact is that the Mets are a stronger brand because of Omar Minaya, and more of the moves he makes than not turn out well (in particular, the Johan Santana deal was very well done on his part). 

So when Redding joins the Mets this spring, he’ll hardly be the first person to move from one franchise to the other. It’s a curious connection between these two teams that keeps getting more interesting.

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Why is everyone trying to sign Tim Redding?

Posted by jmkraft on December 21, 2008

When the Washington Nationals non-tendered Tim Redding last week, it seemed that no one would really care. The only team linked to Redding, in fact, was the Colorado Rockies, who were about to acquire him for Willy Taveras before that deal fell apart the week before. But since then, Redding has become one of the most talked about free agent pitchers on the market, reportedly targeted by up to nine teams, including the Mets.

This interest is puzzling at best, and goes to show how trendy certain free agents can become. Redding is not a bad pitcher, but he’s not a good one, either. He’s a serviceable, affordable fifth starter, and, at best, he’ll give his team a chance to win every fifth day. And that is exactly why he is attracting so much interest on the market.

In today’s climate of inflated prices for starting pitchers (see: Silva, Carlos), pitchers like Redding become more desirable because of their price. For a team like the Mets, who are waiting for Jon Niese to develop, a pitcher like Redding would provide a good stopgap until Niese is ready. Of course, the danger is that Niese will not be ready this year, and that the Mets will have to go through the season with Redding in the rotation. 

Of course, Redding would not be the only starting pitcher signed by the Mets this offseason. The Mets will almost certainly sign a more established starter, whether that turns out to be Oliver Perez or Derek Lowe. In a rotation of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Perez or Lowe, and John Maine, Redding would fit in nicely as the fifth starter. But before jumping on the journeyman, the Mets must ask themselves, is Redding the best man for the job?

Let’s compare Redding with two other pitchers who have been discussed for the fifth spot, Jason Marquis (who would have to be acquired via trade), and free-agent Freddy Garcia. Here are the 2008 pitching lines for Redding and Marquis, and the 2006 line for Garcia, who was injured in 2007 and most of 2008:

Redding: 33 GS, 1 CG, 0 SHO, 182.0 IP, 195 H, 100 ER, 27 HR, 65 BB, 120 SO, 10 W, 11 L, 95.1 P/GS, 1.43 WHIP, .275 BAA, 4.95 ERA

Marquis: 28 GS, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 167.0 IP, 172 H, 84 ER, 15 HR, 70 BB, 91 SO, 11 W, 9 L, 94.2 P/GS, 1.45 WHIP, .267 BAA, 4.53 ERA

Garcia: 33 GS, 1 CG, 0 SHO, 216.1 IP, 228 H, 109 ER, 32 HR, 48 BB, 135 SO, 17 W, 9 L, 100.5 P/GS, 1.28 WHIP, .267 BAA, 4.54 ERA

One thing is clear upon comparing these lines; these three pitchers are very similar on paper. So the question is, if these are the three candidates for the fifth spot (plus Niese), which would be the most desirable? Marquis is a New York native (and, as Mets fans know too well, he can hit), but the Mets would have to surrender a prospect or two in return. Garcia is the most dominant of the three, but he is unreliable and an injury risk. Redding is cheap, used to pitching in the NL East, and acceptably mediocre. Of course, the last time he pitched for a New York team, he surrendered six earned runs in one inning pitched, so who knows how he would respond to the big stage. But Redding seems to be the prototypical fifth starter, and that is why I believe Omar Minaya will ultimately sign him.

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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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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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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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