Sunday, December 2, 2007



Post #30 (believe it or not I made it to 30) Topic: Demands to be MET

So the Mets are officially out of the Johan Santana sweepstakes and I can’t say that I’m upset. Although I am not disclaiming my recent powerful statement that Johan is the best pitcher in Baseball, as per the grapevine it appears that Twins GM Bill Smith (hi I’m generic nice to meet you), was trying to bully Omar Minaya. Lucky for Bill Smith Omar Minaya no longer cuts bully GM’s balls off and feeds them to Montreal Expos fans under the false nomenclature of Putin.

The modern day Expos (assuming the Marlins are not even considered a major league franchise (4-0)) probably figured that: given the lack of competitive pitchers on the market and the Mets need of a quick fix after a disastrous season before heading into the new Citi Field, that said Mets would be willing to mortgage their future for an Ace. WRONG! Although Reyes collapsed at the end of last year he is only 24 and is several years away from his prime. Plus Dominicans don’t do well in the frosty winters in the land of 10,000 ice-fishing permits, hence Santana’s exodus (movement of the pee-cher).

Now had the Mets traded Reyes for Santana, I would not have panicked. Hanley Ramirez is only a year away from Free agency and is probably dying to get away from Miami just as direly as Cuban refugees are dying to get to it (the Marlins jokes will never TIRE). But there’s something special about building a championship team from scratch, and doing so allows Sports Fans several special privileges including: Being able to say that you remember when X player was only a rookie and that you knew one day he would bring you a championship; saying that you were worried that X player was going to be traded but the GM luckily discovered your intuition and made the right move; and that your team did not buy their championship.

Despite my detestosity towards the Yankees, their fans and their ownership’s continental shelf-resembling deep pockets, I must acknowledge that despite their willingness to drop the cheddar, their success and more recent failure is indicative of just how important home-grown talent really is. Case in point, when the Yankees won their string of championships they did so with home grown talent: Jeter, Posada, Petitte, Rivera, etc… (I consider Paul O’Neill homegrown talent as well because he was considered nothing more than a “good player” during his tenure with the Reds, and the Yankees were the first (and only) team to exploit his true worth on the Diamond). But with winning comes pressure to win more. So the Yankees opened their pockets even more. And then the Red Sox won and with the Red Sox winning comes the pressure to win even more. And on cue the Yankees once again opened their pockets. Now… several years removed from a sustained run at the Series, the Yankees are beginning to understand the importance of home grown talent (see previous posts regarding Hank’s two weeks of dedication to rebuilding).

Furthermore, look at the Ducks of Los Angeles of Anaheim Of California of the United States, who won Lord Stanley’s Chalice by employing a deadly combination of veterans (Pronger, Neidermayer, Selanne) and HOMEGROWN TALENT (Getzlaf, Perry, Beauchemin (he counts), Penner, Giguere…).

So the Mets aren’t getting Santana. But in this I see two positives. Excuse me three.

First, the Yankees and Red Sox will engage in a bidding war that will drive the price of Santana far above his actual worth, and will be forced to add their top prospects to any equation. Then, several years down the line when the Twins and their Dairy Queen sponsors can not afford to re-up these budding stars, the Mets will swoop in and pick up whoever is necessary. Had these players stayed with the Yanks and the Sawx, assuming decent performance and given the landscape of today’s sports contracts (different topics but Rick Dipietro for 15 years? You gotta be f-in kidding me), they would be spoken for until they reached Johnny Damon status and began competing for a DH spot on a team like the Devil Rays. These players staying with the Yankees would reduce the crop of available free agents in X year, driving up the price of lower quality players, and forcing some poor team to pay 11 million a year for Gil Meche, (which contrary to popular belief is not what ya’ shorts are made of).

Second, the Mets won’t be pressured into mortgaging their currently hair-club-for-men-needing farm system (THIN!!!) for a high priced pitcher upon whom the team’s entire collection of hopes would rest. This is not a pleasant scenario for a pitcher or a team (see Mike Hampton on the Rockies, Mike Hampton on the Braves, and Mike Hampton on the Braves…. And Mike Hampton on the Braves).

Third, Redemption in the form of Scott Kazmir. Yes, I believe that the Mets are going to be given the opportunity to make amends for what was one of the worst trades ever (and probably made out of spite by a GM who knew that he had both feet out the door but had his scarf caught on the coat rack). Tampa Bay actually has the making of a good roster. They have Pena at 1st, Crawford in Right, Upton at 2nd base, Scott Shields as their ace, and just acquired Matt Garza (young stud pitcher) from the Twins. They have last years 1st overall pick in young pitching phenom David Price, and signed Troy Percival to make the bridge to top-notch closer Al Reyes. With Kazmir approaching free agency and sure to command major ducats, the Rays would be wise to unload him now at full value and allow their 36 fans to get accustomed to the team that is going to take them into their new stadium (which might be Joe Robbie (5-0)).

With Delmon Young gone the Rays have an opening in their outfield. Also, with young pitchers leading the staff, the Rays could use a versatile long-relief, 5th starter type guy. Oh and of course the Rays could use some salary cap relief. Enter the Mets. A package of Fernando Martinez (high-ceilinged young outfielder) and Aaron Heilman and rookie pitcher Philip Humber get this deal done, and restore some of the dignity the Mets sacrificed in trading for Victor Zambrano several years ago.

Whether Kazmir is the man for the job is of course purely conjecture. But the Mets need a starting pitcher that can comfortably assume the place at the front of the rotation, which implies several requirements. The player acquired must be able to pitch 200 innings. The Mets can not afford a “Kerry Wood” who will show signs of brilliance in the 1st inning only to need Tommy John in the 2nd.

The player acquired must register Strike outs, and a lot of them. Strike outs are the only statistic that accurately reflect the effectiveness of a pitcher. Many fans would disagree and tell you that E.R.A. is the appropriate method by which to judge a pitcher’s talent level, but these people are the same people that advise you to take one more shot after you’ve already forgotten your name; they shant be trusted.

E.R.A. is how many runs a pitcher forfeits, on average, over 9 innings. However, a lot of chance is factored into this number. For example, E.R.A. fails to account for how athletic your fielders are, how much ground they can cover and how willing they are to sacrifice their body to make a catch. A good outfield can shave a considerable amount of points off of a pitcher’s E.R.A. In addition, E.R.A. fails to account for how a pitcher accumulates outs. Pitchers want to induce ground outs. Doing so symbolizes superior control. Pop-outs on the other hand, although still outs, suggest that if a player swung slightly earlier or later that he would have had a home run or a line drive; again not factored into E.R.A. With Strikeouts, you see that the pitcher is not allowing a player to put a ball into play, and thus eliminating the omnipresent element of luck in an at-bat. It is no coincidence that the same group of pitchers lead the league in strike outs year in and year out. Pitchers that don’t throw strike outs are more susceptible to fluctuating E.R.A. (see Tom Glavine).

So this limits the class of pitchers that the Mets should target. Mind you that settling for a 2nd tier pitcher to fill a 1st tier spot in a 1st tier baseball market is unacceptable and subsequently not worth the cellular minutes required to negotiate such a deal. Targets (pitchers that threw 200 innings and more than 150 K’s, and are potentially available): Kazmir, Erik Bedard (less than 200 innings but young and had a small injury so he’s still eligible but might be too expensive), Aaron Harang, Javier Vazquez (yes, the numbers support it – 216 innings, 213 K’s, 3.74 E.R.A (you happy ERA fans?)), Dan Haren (DING DING DING, the A’s love cheap prospects and hate established pitchers (Mulder, Hudson, Zito)), Rich Hill from the Cubs (who quietly had a great year – 183 K’s, 195 innings pitched, 3.92 E.R.A. (wins are irrelevant)), Ian Snell from Pittsburgh (this would be nice, for a young pitcher he seldom walks batters), Daniel Cabrera (shitty E.R.A. but played for Baltimore… the other numbers were there), And DONTRELLE who fell below my statistical cutoffs but was flat-out disinterested this year (6-0).
Any one of these guys would be the perfect addition to the Mets staff, and I’m confident that Omar and crew feel the same.

What about Brad Penny, Mark Beurhle and Miguel Batista who all won 15 games, threw 200 innings and had E.R.A’s under 4? The Strike Out formula should disqualify these guys… don’t trust your favorite SportsCenter anchor’s Home-Run excxitement act… Mets fans would MUCH prefer winning 2-1 every game than 8-7, and E.R.A. is as previously eluded to, not a stable statistic.

Last Point: People criticize Omar’s Milledge trade but in reality, this was a plain example of good GMING for several reasons. 1: Milledge was slated to start in right field this year, and whether or not he wound up putting up good numbers, other teams would start to see just how thuggish he was which would significantly reduce his trade value. Imagine he didn’t produce!!!!! Which leads to 2: Getting rid of him while we could was a great move. Milledge doesn’t figure as a part of this team’s future as two other prospects have the corner outfield spots in a virtual lock. 3: What do Oliver Perez and John Maine have in common? They both have the potential to be 20 game winners but both incur periodic collapses. Having a catcher notorious for calling one of the best games in baseball will help their consistency tremendously. Add to that Schneider’s 29% throw-out rate (amongst baseball’s best) and his decent production (don’t forget he’s platooning with Rrrrrrrrrrramon) and you have a solid backstop, both figurative and literally. 4. Church is a quality player. Great in the field, good against righties and a STABLE PERSONALITY. But don’t buy Omar’s claim that he is this team’s right fielder. I predict that by mid-season Carlos Gomez will have proved his worth in the minors or if he hasn’t, that Omar will go get someone who has. 5. Carlos Delgado. It’s a make or break year for C-del (does that work?) and he has a miserable year to atone for.

The one downside is that the Mets could potentially face an all-star Milledge 18 times/year. But so long as the Nationals are in rebuilding mode, Milledge’s bat does not scurrrr me.

Other Notes

The honorable Justice Bradley (of the Supreme Court) once said: man is or should be woman's protector and defender. The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life. The paramount destiny and mission of woman are to fulfill the noble and BENIGN offices of wife and mother - bradwell v. state 83 U.S.130, (1873). My how far we’ve regressed.. I mean come.

I feed my plants seltzer. I get bored of simple old water and carbonation is a easy way to spice your life up. My plants deserve the same.

You know a movie is good when you watch it fo the 487th time and find a new line to laugh at that you didn’t laugh at before.

Given that, why don’t I stop putting gel in my hair, go to college and start wearing blue jeans?.

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