Saturday, January 31, 2004

From the Rumor Mill...

CBS SportsLine, reporting on a rumor published in the Chicago Tribune, had the following to say about a couple of rumored deals that would land the Yankees a new third baseman:

With the Yankees needing a third baseman, the Chicago Tribune reported the White Sox could send Jose Valentin to New York for prospects, thus making Juan Uribe Chicago's starting shortstop. The group of players available from New York reportedly includes lefty-hitting outfielder Bubba Crosby and Triple-A pitchers Ramon Ramirez, Jorge DePaula and Scott Proctor. Another possibility would have Valentin and Paul Konerko going to Anaheim, Troy Glaus to New York and lefty Jarrod Washburn and center fielder Darin Erstad to Chicago. The Yankees would send prospects to both the White Sox and Angels.


These rumors seem to have been shot down, though, at least as far as Jose Valentin is concerned by a guarantee from White Sox GM, Ken Williams, that Valentin was staying put.

It looks like Scott's dream of seeing Brian Myrow in pinstripes is still alive.

A quick one...

Here's a beautifully ironic headline for you. Is it any wonder he played for the Providence Grays?

Note: The article incorrectly calls them the "Greys." Because I'm often bored, I'll keep an eye out for a correction.

Friday, January 30, 2004

One Bidding War I Hope the Yankees Win

It's no secret that the Mets have been interested in offering Scott Erickson a shot at winning the fifth spot in their rotation, but, according to the New York Post, the Yankees have also shown an interest in bringing Erickson to Spring Training.

Even though Erickson would obviously receive nothing guaranteed, and it would be a low/no-risk move, I just don't see how it makes sense for either team, particularly the Mets. What would a team that's coming off two last place finishes and telling its fans that they're trying to get younger want with a 36-year-old pitcher who hasn't thrown a single pitch in a major league game in two out of the last three years ('01 & '03)? And in the last two years that he has pitched ('00 & '02) he was awful. Duke, I beg of you, let the Yankees have him!

Matthew over at Metsblog.com threw out the name of Ron Villone, a Jersey guy (I'll try not to hold it against him), as a possible candidate for the "veteran" the Mets are seeking to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. The Mets could do a lot worse than Villone (Scott Erickson, for example), who was actually pretty good last season for the Astros, at least until September came around.

He was 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in his 14 starts between May and September. Not bad at all when you consider that he was pitching in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park (that hurts to type). September was a much different story, though. In 5 starts, he was 0-3 with a putrid 7.03 ERA.

Overall, Villone ended up with a 6-6 record, a 4.13 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and held the opposition to a .233 BA in 19 starts. Not great, but better than what Rick Reed did last year, and much better than what Scott Erickson didn't do last year.

The only hitch would seem to be that all of the candidates the Mets have lined up for the fifth spot have been right-handed, whereas Villone is a lefty. It's possible that the Mets don't want to go with three lefties in their rotation. If that's the case, the lefty-impaired Yankees should snatch Villone up in a heartbeat and forget about Erickson.

It's late, but here I am.

I'm up late after an amazing run playing Spades, so I'm just getting around to a few articles. Here they are, in the order that I read them:

Ivan Rodriguez's potential contract with the Tigers has an interesting wrinkle. Apparently, if he spends five weeks or more on the disabled list due to a lower back injury, Detroit can void the contract after 2004. What does this mean? It means that if I-Rod hurts his back this year, he's going to say "OWW! Boy, does my leg hurt!" Then, he'll proceed to hope that the Tigers take him at his word and don't conduct a thorough physical exam. Alternatively, it means that if/when Ivan's back begins to hurt, he'll jump off a ten-foot-high ledge and intentionally land wrong, causing a leg injury. Is it that outlandish? Ask Jeff "I Wuz Just Washin' Mah Truck" Kent. (Click the link, people, it's pure gold.) With insurance companies getting more and more skittish about contracts, we're in for a lot of interesting stories in the coming years.

Next we have the only player the Yankees could acquire who would keep me from shouting Brian Myrow!, Brian Myrow!, Brian Myrow!, throughout the spring. It's Adrian Beltre. There is talk about the Yankees trading for him now. He's a serious defensive presence at third, and Jeebus knows the Yankees need at least one of those in the infield. Plus, he's (probably) only 25 years old this year. He had a very good second half at age (probably) 24 for the Dodgers in a much tougher hitters' park than Yankee Stadium. His OBP has been crap so far, but I'll deal with that. And so should the Yankees.

Aside from that, Lieber seems to be coming along nicely. Jon, gimme 180 innings of the type you've pitched in the past and I'll dance, dance, dance.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Gibberish

The headline is: Yankees Should Think Big About A-Rod, and the article is by George Vecsey. Is it an article giving reasons why the Yankees should (have) trade(d) for A-Rod? No. Is it an article examining the type of offer the Yankees could make? No. OK, so it must be about baseball's broken salary structure and how the Yankees can take advantage, right? No. Wrong again.

The article briefly touches on the fact that Rodriguez was a New York kid, then detours into talking about the Mets' failure to sign him after the 2000 season. Vecsey then goes into an analysis of the Yankees' third base situation. He drops this beauty of a paragraph in there:

The Yankees, finding themselves without a third baseman, somehow jigger their finances, make up some package that is frankly beyond my imagination and trade for A-Rod, who would be more than thrilled to rip the "C" off his mental uniform and switch to third base next to his old pal Derek Jeter.

I'll restrict myself to two comments on that steaming lump of sportswriterly quality.

1. It would take a package that is beyond George Vecsey's imagination to get A-Rod.
Are there imagination excersizes that one can do? Is it really that difficult to imagine a trade that the Rangers would take? Um.... Soriano, Jeter and Posada. I think they'd take that one. OK, fair enough, that's silly from the Yankees end, but that sentence in that article is silly on Vecsey's end. It's really not that hard to imagine a Soriano for Rodriguez deal, is it? Texas would be glad to take on some of the salary in that deal. They'd still save 10-15 million of dollars annually. The reason it's beyond Vecsey's imagination is that he wouldn't give up the one player who might get the deal done.

2. A-Rod would be more than thrilled to move to third base.
And the Yankees would be less than stupid to do that. This has been talked to death and I'm now tap-dancing on the corpse, so I'll keep it short. Jeter = Very poor range. Rodriguez = Gold Glove winner. I'd bet that Cashman understands that, and I'm pretty sure the Yankees fans would get over it pretty quickly if Jeet were pushed off his position by a Gold Glover.

The rest of the article is just a bunch of very poorly-written Mets bashing. I'm beginning to wonder if George Vecsey really still writes, or if there's some "George Vecsey" robot that just pulls sentences and paragraphs out of the NYT's archives at random, hatchets the syntax, and pastes them together.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Zeile Fires Some Shots at Yankees

In an article on ESPN.com, Todd Zeile stated that he wouldn't have gone back to the Yankees, even if an offer was there following the injury to Aaron Boone.

"I have no desire to play again for that organization," Zeile said during a telephone conference call Wednesday.

"I think some of the things that happen over there are different than any other organization in baseball. I have a pretty good track record to judge that," Zeile said, citing his numerous stops across the majors.

"Every day is potentially the end-all," he said. "It's whatever they need that day. It sometimes can be unsettling for people in role positions there. ... I don't really have a desire to get back into that mix."


Zeile also commented on Boone's injury and the possible voiding of his contract:

"If your injury is self-inflicted, then I think the team should then have the opportunity to undo that contract and look at it on the merits of what the language says. I think it's going to be tricky in particular with Aaron. I think most of the things that are put in the contract as far as prohibitive language (are) reasonable."

There's no word yet on whether or not Zeile sought to have the "no croquet" rule removed from his contract with the Mets.

Only Slightly Less Slow...

There's still nothing exciting happening in the world of New York baseball today, but the Yankees did announce that they've signed Tyler Houston and Darren Bragg to minor league contracts.

I suppose Houston is as good an option as any of the other players the Yankees currently have available to them, though he's never proven that he can be an everyday player. He's also had a career that has been plagued with injuries, and has never played in more than 113 games in his 8-year career.

If George and his fans can live without having an all-star at every position, a healthy Houston could fill in nicely in the 9th spot in the batting order where little would be expected of him, at least until a better option comes along.

The Yankees are also said to be negotiating with veteran lefty, Donovan Osborne, who last appeared for the Mets in Spring Training last year.

***CORRECTION***

The Yankees haven't officially announced these deals yet, but they've been confirmed to the Associated Press by two separate baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

I guess I should've read the article in its entirety if I was going to post a link to it.

Sloooooow day.

Nothing exciting is happening with the New York teams today. There's more speculation over who's going to play 3B for the Yankees, but none of it means anything right now. The more I think about it, the more I'd like to see Brian Myrow get a shot. I know it won't happen, but he looks like a fun guy to root for. After leaving U. of Michigan, he played two seasons in the Northern League before making the jump to the Yankees Class A team in Tampa. Since then, he's been playing a level behind Drew Henson... for no rational reason. Myrow could always tell a ball from a strike, and he added some power last year, apparently. As I said, I'd like to see him get a shot. Sheffield will not (and should not) play third base - not if the Yankees management retains any semblance of sanity.

The big story of the day seems to be Kazuhito Tadano's acting history. There are already good pieces up on Baseball Musings and Bronx Banter. Read those. There are also bad pieces, of course, and with a story like this they get especially dumb. No link-love for them. You'll find them yourselves, anyhow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

We should rename this "The Boone Blog"

So the Houston Texans want to sign and trade Drew Henson, according to this article. I wonder who the best draftable third baseman is? Here's an idea, bear with me. The Yankees trade Henson to the Houston Texans for a player to be named later. The Texans then select the best available third baseman in the world with the last pick in the NFL draft, and presto! The Yankees get their new 3B in the last week of April! It's a brilliant plan, I tells ya! Brilliant!

I'm going to go lie down now.

Aaron Boone: Croquet Daredevil?

Sorry for making this a full-fledged post, but it wouldn't fit in the Comment thingy:

I just got around to reading the Daily News' write-up on Aaron Boone's injury, and found the following excerpt particularly amusing:

...But Boone had a more standard contract, which bans players from participating in such sports as archery, darts, croquet, hang-gliding and basketball."

Archery, hang-gliding and basketball I can see; maybe even darts, but croquet? What possible harm could come to someone from playing croquet?

In an effort to find out, I did a Google search on "the dangers of croquet." This was the best I could come up with:

From the Maui Croquet Club's Ten Commandments of Practice:

10.  Vary your practice exercises and beware of possible dangers.  For  example, some players like to start every practice session by taking  one ball around through all the hoops and pegging it out in as few  strokes as they can manage.  This teaches good control of distance and  the ability to run long hoops, but has the disadvantage that the player is  also practising running most of the hoops fairly hard, and may find it  difficult to resist the urge to do the same in game situations, when  gentle control is more often needed.

Yes, it's all very clear to me now. I see now why owners would prohibit this type of reckless behavior.

My friends, we must act now before one of our beloved major leaguers falls victim to this deadly game of croquet. It doesn't matter if it's phone calls, letters or E-mails to your friends, neighbors and politicians,as long as we are successful in our mission:

Croquet must be stopped!!

If the Mets trade Jaime Cerda in the woods and there is no one there to see it, does anyone really care?

In a minor (extra emphasis on minor) move on Monday, the Mets dealt soft-tossing lefty reliever, 25-year-old Jaime Cerda, to the Royals, in exchange for starter, Shawn Sedlacek.

Cerda was unimpressive in his 27-game stint with the Mets last season, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.85 ERA. He would've been an extreme longshot to make the Mets' opening day roster in a crowded veteran bullpen that already includes the likes of David Weathers, Mike Stanton, John Franco, Scott Strickland (when he's healthy), Grant Roberts (assuming he doesn't win the spot as the 5th starter) and Braden Looper. Other candidates include Jason Anderson, Dan Wheeler and Pedro Feliciano.

As for the 27-year-old Sedlacek, the Royals' minor league pitcher of the year in 2000, he will probably get a look as a possible 5th starter in Spring Training, but, based on his performance in 2003, he should probably keep an eye out for apartment vacancies in Virginia.

In 5 starts for KC's AA affiliate in Wichita, Sedlacek posted a 1-2 record with a 5.60 ERA last season. In 27 appearances for AAA Omaha, he was 4-11 with a 6.75 ERA. Those kind of numbers probably don't have Aaron Heilman, Jeremy Griffiths, Grant Roberts and Tyler Yates (you can throw in Jason Anderson, too, if you'd like) trembling in their boots.

One of the Mets' main motivations in making this move was to clear a spot on the 40-Man roster so they could finalize a deal with veteran utility-man, Todd Zeile. Apparently, the Mets were also a bit upset by Cerda's decision not to play winter ball.

There seem to be some people upset over this move, not so much because of Cerda, but because it was made to accomodate Todd Zeile. In my opinion, guys like Cerda are pretty much a dime a dozen, so I can't be upset about him being sent packing. Making a move to accomodate Todd Zeile is a bit confusing when you consider that Tony Clark, a much younger and more productive hitter was a non-roster invitee last spring, and actually started the season in Triple-A Norfolk.

Zeile should get nothing handed to him (least of all a guaranteed contract for $1 Mil), and should have to earn his spot on the roster, but he was around for the '00 World Series and I guess that still counts for something with the Wilpons.

Zeile, along with Robin Ventura, was apparently also vocal in discouraging the Mets from trading for Gary Sheffield a few years ago. Thanks, Todd, and welcome back!

Aaron Boone, Basketball Star

It seems that Aaron Boone injured his left knee playing basketball back on January 16. Apparently, it's still swollen enough that the extent of the injury is still unknown. It could be a torn ACL, which would likely sideline him for the year. Brian Cashman says this appears to be a Ron Gant/dirt bike situation:

"Concerning his contract, I can confirm that there are certain prohibited activities, which include basketball," Cashman said.

So now it appears that the Yankees will be without their most average (read: worst) everyday hitter and their most average (read: perhaps their best) fielder for at least part of the year. Drew Henson, anyone? Sure, he can't field or tell a ball from a strike, but he did (apparently) hit 40 doubles last year. I like lots of doubles in a minor leaguer - but not as much as I like some evidence of familiarity with the strike zone.

What are the non-Henson alternatives? Miguel Cairo. Homer Bush? There aren't any free agent third basemen left, which suits me fine. Even I get tired of the Yankees signing player after player.

That leaves a trade, or... Brian Myrow? He's 27 and played at AA last year. He's (obviously) a late bloomer, but he did put up a .306/.447/.525 line last year. Mmmmm, OBP. I don't know a thing about his defense, but I wouldn't bet against him playing a fair amount of games for the Yankees in 2004. He may not start the year with the big club - they'll probably keep Henson up there until his BA falls below .100 for a week - but, barring a trade, he may well end up there.

Monday, January 26, 2004

If at first...

Scott asked me for my opinions on the Bob Klapisch article on Mike Piazza’s impending move to first base, so here goes:

First and foremost, I think that Bob Klapisch is an idiot, but that’s neither here, nor there. My opinion of him isn’t based on this specific article, but rather a long history of excellence in the field of mediocrity.

As for the move of Piazza to first base, I have mixed feelings about it. In some ways, I think Mike is unfairly made to be a scapegoat for the Mets’ failures over the past couple of seasons. With his offensive production on the decline and his obvious struggles with throwing out base runners, he, as the Mets’ star player, is an easy target for critics.

Where were all the people criticizing his inability to throw runners out a few years ago when the Mets were a contender? The fact is, if the Mets had performed better as a team over the past couple of years, no one would be talking about Mike Piazza’s throwing. So, for that, you have to feel a little bad for Piazza for essentially being forced out of a position he obviously loves playing.

I know it’s been said a million times in his defense, but Mike Piazza is not a bad defensive catcher; he just makes some throws to 2B that are painful to watch. He performs all of his other duties as a catcher very well, including calling the game. Obviously, most of the blame for Piazza’s failure to throw runners out falls on his shoulders, but some of the blame also has to go to the Mets’ pitchers, who, with only a few exceptions, don’t hold runners on very well.

All that said, at this stage of his career, maybe a change of positions would be in Mike’s best interest. I don’t necessarily buy into the thinking that moving him out from behind the plate will prolong his career or cause his production to increase. Neither of those things happened for Johnny Bench, whose career was actually over by the time he was Piazza’s age (35). What it will do is hopefully keep his bat in the lineup more for whatever time is left in his Hall of Fame career.

When it comes to the position of first base, Piazza has the advantage of being a part of the Mets organization, so he has Keith Hernandez, who was probably the best ever at that position, available to him (assuming they can put their differences from a couple of years ago behind them). It would behoove the Mets to pair Piazza up with Mex in Spring Training, much the same way they did with Todd Zeile in 2000.

Even with Hernandez’s help, Piazza couldn’t be expected to be anything more than a passable first baseman. With the exception of Craig Biggio, I can think of no other catcher that moved out from behind the plate to another position and excelled (anyone remember Todd Hundley the left fielder?). Scott Hatteberg isn’t a horrible first baseman, which is about the best we can hope for out of Mike Piazza.

In Piazza’s favor is the fact that his most recent predecessors at the position would be Todd Zeile, Mo Vaughn and Jason Phillips, who had never even played the position before (but performed admirably, under the circumstances), so how bad could he possibly be? He’s probably already a better first baseman than Jason Giambi.

I guess the questions and controversy will continue until he proves that he can handle the switch, or until he’s been moved back to catcher or traded. I would expect that he’ll be playing a fair amount of first base in Spring Training, so hopefully he will either silence his critics by playing well, or be such a disaster that he has to be moved back to catcher (he’s not going to be traded). Either way, I’m just tired of hearing about it.

Duh.

Both commentors on the below post are correct, while I was dumb. If Vaughn retires, there's no salary to be liable for. Also, Vaughn won't *officially* retire and lose out on all that money. What's the best case scenario for everyone involved?

For Vaughn: A magic knee-healing meatloaf appears, which he devours. No, seriously, he'll get his best case scenario, in which he doesn't officially retire and he collects the remaining amount on his contract.

For the Mets: Mo officially retires. The Mets owe him nothing more and get his spot on the 40-man to use. Won't happen.

For the insurance company: Mo retires or finds that magic meatloaf. Do the insurers have any recourse here? Vaughn has said he's not coming back. It seems to me that this kind of situation is just this side of fraud.

Scoreboard: Mo Vaughn - Big winner. New York Mets - Come out ahead by compromising. Insurance company - Screwed by arrangement.

No Mo.

Mo Vaughn is officially done. I wish I didn't have to link to ESPN yet again on this one, but they're the only ones with the story online so far, according to Google News, which rocks.

Instinctively, I feel bad for Mo. I wonder if his plunge into the dugout while trying to catch a fly ball for the Angels accelerated his physical decline. Reason steps in to combat instinct though, and advises that it's tough to weigh 300 pounds and have a long career.

As I understand it, the Mets now have a problem. If Vaughn is officially retired, and not on the 40-man roster, the insurance the team had on him does not cover any part of his remaining salary. This won't have any immediate effect; the Mets' roster seems pretty solid. Will it affect any potential trades in July? I don't know, but I'll be watching out - with about half of Vinny's intensity, probably.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Further thanks...

...to Eric Simon over at SaberMets for adding us to his stable of links. There's a lot of good stuff over there. Go check it out.

A strategy fetish and a rant

Vinny, I'd like your take on this story. Aside from that, it gives me an excuse to blather on about one of my pet theories.

While it looks like Ivan Rodriguez* might just sign with the Tigers, there was some serious chatter that he might have gone to the Orioles. Since they already have Javy Lopez, I would have loved that. The DH rule provides the perfect situation for an experiment. It goes like this:

1. Get two catchers who can hit. Not just hit, but hit.
2. Shuttle them between the catcher and DH positions.
3. Profit.

Apologies to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for appropriating their construct. Anyway, the Ivan/Javy combination isn't actually ideal for this experiment. Ideally, you'd like to have two catchers of the same approximate defensive ability. At least you'd avoid some second-guessing that way. Here's the thing - could a team use this arrangement to get 150 games or so out of two players who can do some serious offensive damage, rather than the 130 or so that they might normally play? I don't think it's implausible. If not for the difficulty of acquiring two catchers who can seriously hit, I'd be shocked that it hasn't already been tried. Right now, however, any team that has a catcher who can hit and a free DH spot can take advantage. Unfortunately, that ain't the Yankees. Some of you might be saying, "What about Dickey/Berra and Berra/Howard?" Well, no. Berra took the job from Dickey pretty cleanly. They didn't play together, really. When Berra and Elston Howard shared the dugout, it was Howard that wore the shinguards in the on-deck circle. Yogi was playing left field or sitting out.

So why not? By all means, tell me what's wrong with this idea. Tell me why, other than the relative scarcity of catchers who can mash, somebody hasn't tried this.


*I'd like to propose a new rule of etiquette. Most nicknames are transferable. Some guy in 1946 could have been known as Willie "Blueball" Smith, and another "Blueball" can come along next year for all I care. There are several ballplayers in MLB history known as "Dummy." Lots of guys nicknamed "Red," and so and so forth.

There's only one Iron Horse. There's only one Babe. There's only one Home Run... but that's because it's a stupid nickname. I'm getting off track.

The point is: STOP CALLING IVAN RODRIGUEZ "PUDGE." I beg you. You know who Pudge actually was? That's right, Carlton Fisk. Carlton Fisk was Pudge. That doesn't mean nobody can ever again be Pudge, but it means Ivan Rodriguez can't. You know why? Because their careers overlapped. This is the new rule that I propose. A nickname cannot be applied to a player while another player who already has that same nickname is still playing. That's not too much to ask, is it? Besides, who needs another nickname when there are plenty of X-Rods to go around. Besides #2, who needs a nickname when he has a name as cool as EE-van? You say EE-van and even casual baseball fans know you're not referring to the dearly departed Calderon.

This rule should apply even when different sports are involved, by the way. Wally Szczerbiak cannot be "Wally World." You know who that is, and yes, their careers overlapped. Wally Szczerbiak should be known as "The Consonant."

P.S. - Anyone remember the whole "Italian Stallion" controversy? Rick Cerrone and Lee Mazzilli? That was fun.

/rant

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Thanks and Complaints

Baseball Musings is a great read, day in and day out. David Pinto, the man behind the blog, was nice enough to link to us today. Thanks, David, and congratulations on your exciting new situation. He has a post up today about a change that's happened over at the ESPN website. Go read this post, then come back and read the rest of this. I'll wait.
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Okay. This is just silly. You can still copy any text you want from them. I'm not going to explain how other than to mention that IE isn't the only browser in existence. There are ways to do it using IE, but so what? It's not just copying text - you can no longer save a copy of the page locally, either.

The funny thing is, as David points out, there's no real benefit to them. For one thing, you know what people do quite often? They email web pages to each other. No kidding. Quite often, when using Internet Explorer, they just click that little 'Mail' button up at the top, and select 'Send Page...' on that cute menu that comes out. You know what happens when you do that now? You send the message, with the "web page" as an attachment. A text attachment. So you want to use this feature in your browser/mail client - that you've been using for years - to send your buddy a story. What does he get? He gets this pile of crap to wade through: (with a few alterations to make the code show up on this page)


title>ESPN.com - NCB - Diener returns from neck injury in Marquette win/title>

!-- pageType = ncbrecap -->

meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
script language="Javascript" src="http://espn.go.com/insertfiles/javascript/flash.js" type="text/javascript">/script>
script language="Javascript" src="http://espn.go.com/insertfiles/javascript/ua.js" type="text/javascript">/script>
script language="Javascript" type="text/javascript">
!--

...and so on. That's the beginning of what I got, in a .txt file, when I tried to email the page to myself. The wheels start turning in my head. "Gee," I say to myself, "that looks an awful lot like HTML. Hey, it is HTML! Y'know, I could have saved myself the trouble and just right-clicked on the page and viewed the code directly."

So I did. And you know what else? I saved the code and uploaded it to a server. I'm looking at it in another window right now. It displays the webpage perfectly, ads and all. The links work.

Let's get this straight: I can take the HTML code of an ESPN web page. I can save it locally. I can upload it to a server so that it can be viewed by anyone in the world without them ever visiting espn.com. But I can't copy 8 words of text off the page. This, my friends, is first-class dopiness.

Miscellaneous Debris

Well, it looks like Rick Reed will be doing his "Poor Man's Greg Maddux" routine elsewhere this season. I don't know if this means the Mets will now try to lure "The Japanese Greg Maddux" Satoru Komiyama back from Japan, but I sure hope they stay away from the "Past His Prime" Greg Maddux, who seems unwilling to humble himself at the feet of baseball's changed economic climate.

Reed's agent, Phil Tannenbaum, had some pretty unflattering (and classless, if you ask me) things to say about Jim Duquette:

"He's the only GM that won't return his phone calls," Tannenbaum (it's sad when I have to correct the Daily News' spelling mistakes) said. "I think we would have probably got a deal done had we dealt with Mr. Wilpon. My guess is it will be reflected in the standings."

Right, because when I heard that the Mets had offered a contract to Reed I immediately thought that he was the missing piece that would propel the '04 Mets straight to the World Series. Now if you'll excuse me for a moment, I have to mop up all this sarcasm.

Who does this clown think he's kidding? After the kind of season Reed had last year, at his age (38), he should be thankful that any team has even slight interest in his client. Instead, he's running off at the mouth and burning bridges for him. Good show, Phil!

For his part, The Duke had this to say:

"Did I personally return every phone call? No," Duquette said. "Did we return it as an organization? Yes."

If you ask me, this is the best thing that could've happened. It would've been a shame if Reed just came in and was handed the 5th spot in the rotation ahead of one of the younger guys, who are probably more deserving, simply because of his past achievments with the Mets. Good riddance. One less 38-year-old in the rotation this year.

And Scott, to answer your question, what you should expect from Tony Clark this season is for him to be very tall. In fact, he'll probably be the tallest player on the Yankees. Other than that, he'll do very little to make you forget Nick Johnson.

If I have to lay down in front of the construction vehicles, I'll be damned if the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets get an arena built in New York before the Mets get a new stadium.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Homer Bush!

Sure, the article is mainly about Karsay, but one of my favorite bit players from recent Yankees teams has un-retired! I can't possibly explain the joy that this news brings me.

It's nice that Karsay seems to be coming along well, too. There's a formidable bullpen coming together in the Bronx.

All the way from New York to... well, New York

First of all, thanks again to Alex and Avkash for the mentions. We now hope to gain the endorsements of the rest of the 27,000 bloggers whose names start with 'A'. Then, we're out to impress the rest of the alphabet swiftly and decisively.

On to the actual post. I'm wondering if El Duque was lollygagging it because he believes he's so good that all he has to show is that he can get his hand up above his shoulder. I don't know if he's been rehabbing strenuously... maybe that's all he's got. If the Mets sign Spencer they figure to have an ex-Yankee platoon in right field. The Mets seem to be collecting ex-Yankees, in fact.

There's Al Leiter, to start. By now, of course, he's much more Met than Yankee. I wanted to bring him up again to say that I may have been a little over the top on the "Done, done, done" comment. Vinny points out that he was injured early last year and recovered from an awful start. I looked back at his game log (duh, gee, maybe I shoulda done that before, eh?) and after taking three weeks off in July, he came back and he wasn't a bad pitcher at all. So I take back my negative outlook on him. In fact, consider me cautiously optimistic.

One other comment I'd like to amend concerned his high walk total: "It's not the defense doing that." Well, it's almost never the defense that does that. Although I'll be damned if I can give you an example, it's easy to imagine a pitcher not trusting the defense behind him to such an extent that he loses focus... or intentionally gets wild, hoping to strike the batter out on a pitch outside the strike zone. Doing whatever it takes to keep his fielders from screwing things up.

Then there's Mike Stanton. You got to know him last year, and that seems to be pretty much who he is now. He used to be a guy who'd come into the game for an inning, give up a hit, get a ground ball, strike a guy out. Those things were certain. He'd get the third out by strikeout or some other way. In half his games, he'd get the grounder, walk a guy, give up the hit, give up a run, and get the other two outs somehow.

I'm understating his control back then, but if you look at his numbers (and remember a few of his appearances) from 1997-2001 that's about how they shake out. In 2002 he became the Mike Stanton you see before you now. More of the second type of outing than the first. The difference is the increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts. Between 2002 and 2003 the trend-line is flat.

You know David Weathers by now, too. Last year, I wondered why he wasn't closing more games for the Mets. 40 walks in 80 innings isn't impressive, but it's not like they had a half-dozen Eric Gagnes out there, either.

You got Jason Anderson, about whom you probably know more than I do. I do know that he's a jug-eared, chinless boy who throws hard.

Jeez, there are more of these guys than I thought. Karim Garcia. He wasn't a Yankee for long, but I got to know him well. You won't have this problem, but sometimes I'd flip back to the game, see the hitter take a huuuuuge hack and miss by a foot and mutter "Dammit, Jomby, get your head down" before I realized that it was Karim walking back to the dugout. His swing-and-a-miss looks exactly like Jomby's. He's helpless against any lefty, but can smack righties around. Your eyebrows will go up when you see him make a throw from the corner. He's got a cannon. Decent fielder.

Lastly, Shane Spencer, assuming he signs. He is the mirror image of Karim Garcia, although he has a weaker arm. He'll fatten up on lefties while righties will handle him easily. They even have similar histories. Each has seen his career frustrated by injuries and by lack of opportunity when healthy. They're both streaky. Would you believe that Spencer is the older of the two, by three years? I was surprised by that. He's 31 this year, while Garcia is 28. Karim has a far greater chance of producing a big year, due to age and the fact that he's a lefty and will get most of the at-bats in this potential platoon. The Mets will be wise not to let him out of that platoon role, no matter how hot he is to start the year.

Well, I'm pretty sure that's all the former Yankees who are currently on the Mets. Vinny, is there anything I oughta know about Tony Clark?

*Late correction: Spencer is actually 32 this season. He's four years older than Garcia. I caught this mistake while reading Jeremy Heit's Blog, which you should check out.

Thank You

On behalf of Scott and myself, big thanks have to go out to Alex Belth of Bronx Banter and Avkash from The Raindrops for mentioning little ol' us.

Be sure to check out both of their sites.

Thanks again, guys.

Mets Not Impressed With "El Duque"; Reportedly Offer Deals to Reed and Spencer.

According to several sources, the Mets came away from Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez's Thursday workout unimpressed and frustrated. Scouts that were expecting to see him let it all hang out instead got to see him throw 35 pitches, the fastest of which topped out at 78 MPH.

"It looked like he was playing catch," said one scout in attendance.

The general consensus among those in attendance was that the workout was a waste of time and that any team would need to see him throw again before even considering offering him a contract. The Mets seem to have other ideas, though.

Apparently, the Mets have made an offer for Rick Reed, who pitched for them between 1997 and mid-2001, to return to the team. The terms of the offer are unknown at this time.

Reed, who saw his greatest success while pitching for the Mets, would be competing with Grant Roberts, Aaron Heilman, Jeremy Griffiths and possibly Tyler Yates for the fifth spot in the Mets' starting rotation.

In another move that would almost certainly seem to signal the departure of Timo Perez, the Mets have also offered a contract to former-Yankee, Shane Spencer.

If Spencer were to sign, he would be a likely candidate to enter into a platoon in right field with recently-acquired Karim Garcia. With the Mets apparently stuck with Roger Cedeno and his bloated contract, such a move would leave no room for Perez in the Mets' outfield.

According to a sports radio station in Montreal (it's hard to imagine baseball being discussed on a Montreal station), the Mets have had discussions with the Expos about swapping Perez for Livan Hernandez (speaking of bloated things). Omar Minaya is apparently a big fan of Timo Perez.

I would have to doubt the validity of these reports, though, because the Mets would not have made an offer to Rick Reed or sent scouts to Florida and El Salvador to watch El Duque and Maels Rodriguez work out if they were confident that they could land Livan Hernandez.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

No time for the Yankees post yet, but...

Gee, I wonder what happened to the comments.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The '04 Mets: Relative Optimism Defined

First things first: Ladies, don't be shy. Get in touch with Vinny right now by utilizing our comments section. I know there are thousands of you reading. Hop to it!

Yes, sports radio in New York is a wasteland. So it is in most places. I do have to say, Vinny, that I disagree with you about Jerome. I don't listen anymore, but when I did (and especially when Captain Midnight was in full effect), Jerome's calls were a delight to listen to. Only New Yorkers will understand. I agree that the Mets are improving. I agree that Duquette is better than Phillips. That one's a no-brainer. Even Steve Phillips could figure it out.

I'd like to address some of your points in order.

Cameron
This guy is one of the top centerfielders in baseball. His offense, adjusted for park, is well above-average for his position. He's probably a top-five centerfielder offensively. Defensively, he takes a back seat to noone. I've seen several analyses that show him to be better than Andruw, and, reputation aside, I can't find a reason to disagree. Mike Cameron's addition to the Mets' everyday lineup ranks among the biggest improvements made by any team in MLB this offseason. The Yankees acquisition of Sheffield, Red Sox getting Schilling, Cameron to the Mets, Vlad in Anaheim. Put 'em in any order you want. People object to Cameron's high strikeout totals. Get over it. Outs, generally, are outs. And Cameron doesn't make a truckload more of 'em than the next guy does. I wish the Yankees had signed him. Enough said.

Matsui
I hadn't thought about it in those terms: best shortstop in the history of the Mets. You're right, though. Who else would it be? Elster? Tavares? Reyes?

Reyes
I worry about Reyes. Ankle injuries are a bitch, as are position switches from shortstop to second base. Injuries on the pivot are the leading cause of career-shortening and general suckiness of middle infielders. Reyes now has to learn the pivot from the other side of the bag while avoiding Scott Rolen's and Ryan Klesko's attempts to take him out. I like Reyes, but I worry. Reyes, by the way, pulled off one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen. It was against the Yankees, and it looked routine at the start. He hit a ground ball that Jeter just missed (surprise, surprise). It continued on into the outfield where H. Matsui (I believe, it could have been Bernie, which would make this make even more sense) picked it up. It wasn't a gapper; it was cut off cleanly. The ball comes in, and there's Reyes standing on second base. It was a grounder through the left side. A grounder! I don't believe I'd ever seen that before.

Floyd and Piazza
Sure. Healthy seasons from both. I'd like 240 quality innings out of Lieber, too. I'm one of those who think that Piazza's even more likely to get hurt while playing multiple positions. Yes, catching causes the most wear and tear on a player's body, but first base is a position he's never played before. I wonder how many balls to the face he'll take before he hits the DL. No homoerotism intended. As for Floyd, I like him. For your sake I hope he doesn't miss more than twenty games.

Vastly improved defense
No argument here. Alomar is now sub-par in the field. He dives a lot, but that's not exactly a measure of quality. In his case (like Carney Landsford's, around 1990 or so), it just means he doesn't have the range he once did. It'll take some adjustment time for Reyes to turn the double play effectively, but he's going to make a lot more plays at 2B than Alomar did. An aside: who's the best second baseman in Mets' history, Wally Backman? I think there's a new candidate here. Rumor has it that Matsui's a Wizard with the glove. I'd like to see it. Cameron? Well, I've had my say about him. First base is going to be ugly. Not Mo-Vaughn-Ugly, but ugly. Wiggington is solid.

A more confident and probably improved pitching staff
Here's where you begin to lose me. Trachsel will be helped by Cameron and probably by Karim Garcia. However, I don't have the same love for Glavine as you do. He strikes me as a guy who's lived eight inches off the outside corner for his entire career. That time is up now. Questec is the reason. Some view this as unfair to Tommy. I don't buy it. If you don't throw it over the damn plate, it's a ball and that's that. I don't know that he can adjust. Granted, he's a groundball pitcher. It won't surprise me if his numbers improve this year. That'll help, but I doubt it'll be his improvement. It's the improvement of the defense... which is your point, I guess. Leiter? Done, done, done, in my opinion. He walked 94 in 180 2/3 innings last year. It's not the defense doing that. He's just losing the plate. He did allow fewer hits than innings pitched last year, but if his control doesn't come back he's finished as an effective major league pitcher. I like Jae Wong Seo. He could be Maddux-lite.

No more closer-by-committee
Braden Looper's fine. I'm of the opinion that anyone you'd trust with a one-run lead in the 7th could close games just fine.

So I think the Mets will be better. They should score an average amount of runs. Their defense is improved. I see their pitching as shaky. All things considered, 80 wins is not out of the question. Give it a year or two and they could be contenders.

I'll be back soon with my glass-half-empty take on the current Yankee team.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A "Glass is Half-Full" Perspective on the '04 New York Mets

As Scott has previously mentioned, I am not a typical Mets fan; which is to say that I choose to be optimistic (while still remaining realistic), rather than dwell on all of the negativity (on and off the field) that has surrounded my beloved Amazins over the last few years.

As a man who is presently single (ladies, you're welcome to change that), there is no love in my life like the love I have for baseball, and more specifically, the New York Mets. It boggles my mind when I turn on one of the local sports radio stations or read through the posts in the Mets' usenet newsgroup (alt.sports.baseball.ny-mets) and see and hear the things that alleged Mets fans have to say about their team.

Sports radio is, at best, a vast wasteland where empty-headed goons like Chris Russo, Mike Francessa and Rob Dibble are allowed to make a living, and where an idiot like "Jerome from Manhattan" is allowed to repeatedly subject other listeners to his tired, old raving lunatic schtick and be given his own sound bytes and intro music. My research has shown that you can safely dismiss 98.4% of everything you hear on New York sports radio.

That said, you would think you could seek shelter from the downpour of negativity and stupidity that flows from your radio speakers in a place full of like-minded individuals: the Mets' newsgroup. Well, sir, you would be very far from correct.

If you're a Mets fan, or a baseball fan in general, that has never had the pleasure of reading through the rantings and ravings of the collection of misfits and condescending know-it-all snobs that populate this little corner of the internet, I can only suggest that you find a nearby object, such as a pen, well-sharpened pencil or screwdriver and jam it in your eye six or seven times instead. I assure you that it will be a far less painful experience.

Right about now you're probably wondering when the "glass is half-full" part begins. OK, here goes...

So, why do I think the Mets will be better in '04 than in the past couple of years? Well, they can't really be any worse, can they? Right, right...positivity.

But seriously, despite their widely-publicized and criticized failure to land Vladimir Guerrero, the Mets have made some wise acquisitions this off-season, even going back as far as mid-season in '03 when Jim Duquette replaced the architect for the Mets' recent failures, Steve Phillips.

In their anger over Duquette's failure to land Guerrero, a player who, in my opinion, had little or no interest in playing for the Mets and was merely using them to get the contract he wanted elsewhere, Mets fans seem to have forgotten that this is the guy that managed to unload the contracts of Armando Benitez, Roberto Alomar and Jeromy Burnitz and get value in return for them; bringing back highly-touted prospects like Royce Ring (White Sox) and Victor Diaz (Dodgers).

In a little more than six months on the job, Duquette has done more to replenish the Mets' minor league system than Phillips did in his six years as general manager. The Mets have turned what was considered to be one of the worst minor league systems into one of the best in a relatively short period of time.

As for the players that will make an immediate impact in '04, you have to love the signing of Mike Cameron. In fact, you have to wonder why he didn't have more suitors than he did. He brings a glove in center field that is probably second only to the Braves' slick-fielding Andruw Jones.

At the plate, Cameron should benefit from the change of scenery. He's stated that some of his struggles at the plate last season could be attributed to problems with the batter's eye at Safeco Field.

In addition to his glove, Cameron can usually be counted on to provide in the neighborhood of 20-25 home runs and 75+ RBI. He won't hit for much of an average, but should provide a boost on the bases to the suddenly-speedy Mets.

Other reasons for optimism:

1) Kaz Matsui: Even if Matsui puts up numbers that are half of what he did in Japan, he will still be better than any shortstop in the history of the Mets.

What he will do offensively remains to be seen, but he comes to the U.S. with an impressive resume.

Defensively, we are told to expect great things from Matsui. The Mets must believe this if they were willing to move mega-prospect Jose Reyes over to 2B. Those two should combine to make a double-play combination that will be very entertaining to watch.

2) A full season of Jose Reyes: Believe the hype! Reyes is the real deal, and he won't even be old enough to legally drink a $7 Shea Stadium beer until mid-June.

Recent reports suggest that Reyes isn't quite 100% recovered from the nasty ankle injury that ended his season early, but he's very close and there doesn't seem to be any concern on the part of the Mets. It's also said that his transition to 2B is going extremely well.

3) Full, healthy seasons from Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza (hopefully!): OK, so maybe this is more of a 2004 Mets Wish List kind of thing, but healthy years from Floyd and Piazza would certainly go a long way towards making those "meaningful games in September" we've heard so much about a realistic possibility.

4) A vastly improved defense: The Mets defense in the early part of 2003 was just awful. With Reyes, Matsui and Cameron up the middle, it should be anything but awful. In fact, it should be very exciting to watch.

5) A more confident and probably improved pitching staff as a result of the improved defense: Good defense will always inspire confidence in pitchers. The pitchers on the '03 Mets didn't have many reasons to have confidence in their defense. That shouldn't be much of a problem this year.

You have to believe that Tom Glavine will bounce back and put up respectable numbers after posting his first losing record since 1990 last season. He battled some nagging injuries and the controversial QuesTec system last year, but, being the pro and competitor he is, it's not unreasonable to expect that he'll make the necessary adjustments to return to his winning ways.

The years don't seem to have caught up to Al Leiter yet, as he continues to put up consistent, albeit unspectacular numbers at the top of the rotation. Until he stops doing that, I'll continue to expect pretty much the same of him.

Steve Trachsel was the Mets most consistent and effective starter for all of 2003, and he managed that on a really bad team. Things can only get better when he's pitching for what should be a much-improved team in 2004.

6) No more closer-by-committee: How much of an upgrade Braden Looper is over Armando Benitez is debatable. What's not debatable is that he didn't fold under the pressure of facing the Yankees the way Benitez did, and his reward for that was a World Series ring.

At very least, if Looper starts blowing saves, he won't be getting grossly over-paid to do so. He should be fine, though.


Will the Mets contend for a division title, or even the Wild Card this season? Probably not, but they will be an improved team that should be able to finish above .500

With a replenished minor league system and a manager in Art Howe that has proven that he can handle young players well, there is reason to believe that the Mets will return to prominence in the not-too-distant future. Just don't tell Mets fans that, you might ruin their day.

OK, I don't feel like typing anymore.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Comments section added

It works, too.

Clemens and integrity... and a little more

Vinny, welcome!

Of course your first actual post was about the Yankees. I'm the first to say that you're not the typical Mets fan (I do so because I like you) but it just wouldn't be right for you to begin by talking about your own team when in a discussion with a Yankees fan, would it? You'd be violating some serious Mets fans' laws.

Is Clemens a traitor? I'm really tired of hearing the whole "traitor" thing thrown around. What, exactly, does Clemens owe anybody? I mean, it's not like he's had the amazing career he's had because the owners of his teams have been doing him lots of favors. They've been paying him to make them money and win them games... in that order. OK, so George was paying him to win games. Fine. Doesn't affect the discussion in any meaningful way.

"It shows a lack of integrity. If you're going to retire, stay retired."

I'm not one to claim that Yankees fans are paragons of analytical thought. Hell, most of us think Jeter's a great shortstop.* But hey, fan-guy, what the hell are you thinking? A player plays for a long time. He decides he's going to leave the game he loves in order to spend more time with his family. Along comes a team from his home state. They offer him a chance to play on his own terms. They go out of their way to assure him that most of his starts will be at home. He's told that he will not have to travel on road trips during which he's not scheduled to pitch. His best friend is just about begging him to come aboard. The entire community shows support for the idea.

1. He will spend much more time with his family.
2. He will to continue plying the trade he loves.
3. He will fulfill the wishes of his best friend.
4. He will honor his community.

This points to a lack of integrity?

Fan-guy, you should shut up even if those points don't matter to you. Kevin Brown, whom the Yankees obtained to replace Roger Clemens, is a better pitcher who is just as likely to be healthy all year. If he can overcome his infield defense (the worst in the majors - and he's a groundball pitcher) and stay healthy, he'll contribute a lot more to a championship season than Clemens would have.

I love the Hummer comment, by the way.

*Check out some defensive statistics sometime - or watch a game, even. You'll see Jeter lunge at and just miss a ton of balls that other shortstops routinely field. It happens every game. He has a great throwing arm and good judgement, but he might be the worst fielding shortstop in the majors.

I've added a title bar...

...and corrected the time zone setting. I'd like to make the font smaller (and maybe change it altogether) but I don't have the energy to look at the template html right now.

Roger Clemens: Is He Really a Yankee Traitor?

As the Mets fan mentioned in the description of this blog, it seems only natural that my first post be about the Yankees; more specifically, about a former Yankee. I am, of course, referring to the now un-retired (you'll have to pardon me for taking some liberties with the English language) Roger Clemens.

If you've been anywhere near a newspaper or sports radio station in New York over the past few days, you would probably have the impression that Roger Clemens is the biggest scoundrel to have ever donned a baseball uniform. While Mets fans are having a good laugh and salivating at the thought of Roger Clemens having to hit against one of their pitchers, Yankees fans are expressing their outrage over Clemens' decision to put off retirement, at least for one more year, and sign with his hometown Houston Astros.

In typical "New Yawk" fashion, some of the comments from disgruntled Yankee fans that were interviewed had to be censored by the local papers:

"I am so [bleeping] unhappy.I think that [Andy] Pettitte leaving was the deciding factor for Clemens. I don't think Clemens would have went through with it."

"It shows a lack of integrity. If you're going to retire, stay retired."


OK, this is the comment that puzzles me. Lack of integrity? Did anyone question the integrity of Michael Jordan when he returned to the NBA after his brief and undistinguished stretch as a "professional" baseball player? Did anyone question the integrity of Mario Lemieux when he returned to the NHL after retiring? In both cases, fans of their respective sports were so happy to have them back, integrity was the furthest thing from their minds.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Roger Clemens means as much to baseball as either of the aforementioned individuals do their sports, but he is one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the modern era of baseball. Shouldn't the desire to see a Hall of Fame career continue be enough to earn him a pass with the fans?

What, are you kidding? This is New Yawk, ya friggin' moron!

When you think about it, where else but in the "What have you done for me lately?" Big Apple could people blame a husband and father for wanting to be closer to his family? Roger Clemens' problem is that he's just in the wrong line of work. If he was a stock broker from Westchester who was putting in long hours at the office on Wall Street before suddenly deciding to leave it all behind to work closer to home so he could spend more time with his family he would be applauded for such a decision.

The truth is, whether or not fans of the Yankees and the sports "journalists" who have to fill space every day choose to admit it, Roger Clemens made a decision that any one of them would have made, given the opportunity. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance to play for our hometown team? I know I certainly would, and I would do it for considerably less than what the Astros are paying Clemens.

Let us not forget that Roger would probably still be retired, cruising around Houston in his shiny, new Hummer if George took a break from his courting of Gary Sheffield to make Andy Pettitte feel wanted. If the jilted Yankees fans are looking for a villain, look towards Tampa, not Houston.