Monday, November 21, 2005

It's All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating

Between 1995 and 2000, 308,000 people made the move from New York to Florida, creating the largest state to state flow in the United States.

In return for our generosity, New York is guaranteed to receive any stragglers from a Florida Marlin fire sale.

It happened in 1997 after Wayne Huizenga oversaw the fire sale of all fire sales after his Marlins won the World Series. The Mets acquired Al Leiter (for some lad named A.J. Burnett) and Dennis Cook in seperate deals in the offseason, and in another offshoot of the garage sale, acquired Mike Piazza from Florida for Preston Wilson during the 1998 season. This all came out of an inability to land a stadium deal.

Well it's 2005, and you can insert your own proverb about history repeating itself here. First, it was rumors about Carlos Delgado. Then unthinkably, the talk turned to Josh Beckett. Now, it looks like the Marlins, again, are going to blow the whole thing up. And once again, the Mets are willing to play main they are talking about Luis Castillo.

Now if you care to recall the writings of the prophet that is me, my thoughts on second base are the ones that I seem to be all over. The first name I mentioned is Castillo, but I didn't think the Marlins would be silly enough to talk about wheeling him. And I was right...they're not being silly. They're just hemorraging money. They still can't get funding for a stadium (a task now made next to impossible after repeated hurricanes). And the Mets are doing what all big market teams should do...take advantage.

In fairness to the Marlins, they're in a tough spot. They were stuck in a football town, made to play in a stadium that if you ever sit in it, it looks less like a diamond, and more like a pentagon from hell. In fact, it would be a perfect five sided geometrical "masterpiece" if not for the forced attempt at a "V" shaped quirk in center field which is their sad attempt at a nook...or is it a cranny? They're a teal and black team that plays in a stadium that features two of the loudest colors ever discovered: aquamarine and neon orange. It's almost as displaced a situation as the Jets playing in Giants Stadium, where there's green bunting that tries to make you forget you're sitting in blue and red seats. But the Marlins don't even make that much of an effort. The greatest effort they made to give you a "Marlin feel" was to sew a small Marlin Logo on the chests of the Dolphin cheerleader outfits, featuring the aforementioned aquamarine and orange. You had to use a magnifying glass to find them (luckily, I just happened to have one with me expressly for the purpose of inspecting the cheerleaders' outfits). It wasn't even an antiseptic experience to see a game at Joe Player was impersonal. As baseball works more in a personal matter, the atmosphere just doesn't work.

Luckily, that's not my problem.

Funny how Carlos Delgado isn't enough to stir my pot enough to place me in front of the laptop to pen my thoughts, but Luis Castillo is. That's because Luis Castillo is the cure for what ails this lineup. I love power hitters as much as the next guy, but there was a reason I thought Doug Mientkiewicz was a better fit for the Mets than Carlos's because Shea Stadium will knock down a good power hitter, but it's paradise for hitters like Mookie, Lenny, One Dog and now Jose Reyes. To me, Juan Pierre and Castillo were the modern day Dykstra and Wally Backman, and the fact that one of them (the right one) might very well be on his way to Shea is a spectacular concept. Reyes and Castillo at the top of the lineup is the perfect was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Champs...Lenny and Wally redux...with Xavier Nady playing the part of Danny Heep.

(And if we're lucky, playing the part of Bobby Ojeda in "1986: The Motion Picture" will be Barry Zito.)

Of course, something will blow those dreams to bits...whether it be Florida's insistance on a top flight prospect for a player with injury problems (which is nonsense), or Omar's infatuation with Manny Ramirez which will drag him away from the player he should be going head long after...or perhaps the trade does happen, but instead of becoming Wally Backman, Castillo becomes Robby Alomar (as Xavier Nady becomes the second coming of Rich Becker).

But in this confusing and hectic rumor mill known as the hot stove, I have found my number one reason to be pumped up.

And my number one reason to complain if it doesn't happen.


Darth Marc said...

Castillo is a good defensive player who will steal bases and hit bad pitching(mistakes).

But he can't hit a curveball to save his life. Is clueless to hitting any breaking stuff.

I see your point about needing a second baseman. Kaz is a train wreck. But if Delgado becomes available, I'd take him. Outside of Manny, he's the only out there that makes your lineup better.

erik love said...

The good thing about Castillo is, he owns Shea Stadium.

(Kyle, can you get his Shea numbers for me?)

He owns the Mets too

Does that translate? who knows

But, it's worth a shot....

Kyle in Newport News said...

I'm getting a sense of blog comments deja vu here, so this is the condensed version, just so my vote is counted:

I don't like Josh Beckett. At all.

And erik, I'm guessing there's another Kyle around here, because I am as far from a practiced stat finder as any you will come across here. As you once memorably mentioned, I "can write a lot of s___," but most of it is quite unemperical. :)

cp said...

Re: Castillo.

You had me at hello.

mr. met said...

Re: Castillo.

You had me at hello.


I disagree about Delgado. He would suffer no ill effect from moving to Shea. Shit, Shea is easier on lefties than his home in Miami is. He still hit 16 homers at home and had 77 XBHs overall. Just chew on that number for a bit. Wright led the team with 70 and he had 19 more than 2nd place Cliffy. He was 11th in the Majors in XBHs and 6th in the NL and had MORE than Manny. If Castillo gets you more excited than Delgado, I'm not sure why exactly. The Mets need more guys on base, but more importantly, they need a guy like Manny. However, Manny is costly financially and talent, and Delgado might be a better fit. Floyd and Manny won't be on the corners and first base is solidified with one of the better hitters in all of baseball. He hits for power and average and I am drooling about thinking of him in the middle of the lineup launching balls into the scoreboard. Guys with marginal power like Huff scare me, but not guys with big time power like Delgado or Manny.

Dare I say, I agree with the Yankee fan....

Metstradamus said...

Metmaster, From what I read in the Daily News today re:Delgado, he's got Bobby Bonilla written all over him. It was a more contentious negotiation with the Mets than I thought...he called Tony Bernazard "the highest paid translator on the planet".

I'd sooner take Manny. But I love Castillo

MikeinSpain said...

"The highest paid translator on the planet."

Pure Gold. Delgado's got character, that is for sure. And Castillo's got good defense and the ugliest swing known to man. But I'll take him over Kaz any day of the week and twice on however you say Sunday in Japanese. Furthermore, Castillo speaks Spanish, so the Mets front office will have no problems communicating with him should our translator ever leave.

Seriously though, what Delgado doesn't realize is that Omar's verbal skills in both English and Spanish are so bad that a translator is actually necessary.

Metstradamus said...

All Omar has to do his hold up the cash...that's enough verbal skills for me, thankyou.

jdon said...

I like him. I like his OBP. I like his hands and he turns a nice DP. But the last 2 years he has been beset with lower body woes. Hip and hamstring I believe. Could he be 5 years older than his birth certificate claims?

The Metmaster said...

So who's stupid now Yankee fans?.......

Jayson Stark

Since finals are approaching, it's time for a little baseball-economics quiz to help us make sure you're fully educated on a key development in the 2005-06 offseason:

If the Mets' payroll inflates to, say, $150 million next season, how much luxury tax would they have to pay -- if the 2006 tax threshold is $136.5 million?

A) $3.04 million (22.5 percent)?

B) $4.05 million (30 percent)?

C) $5.4 million (40 percent)?

D) Way more than that, just because they're making Bud Selig really nervous?

E) Zero dollars (nada percent), because of a little-known technicality in the Basic Agreement?

OK, kids. Pencils down. All those answering "E" pass this test.

And if you answered that correctly, either you've spent way too much time reading the Basic Agreement online (and feel free; it's here) ... or you cheated.

But it's true. No matter how much cash the Mets insert in the wallets of free agents, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Delgado or all those talented and charming players they already have added this winter, their luxury tax next year is guaranteed to be exactly ... zilch.

Same with the Angels, who were No. 4 (just behind the Mets) in the 2005 payroll standings. Or the Phillies, who were No. 5. Or any other team not known as the Yankees or Red Sox.

That's because -- as first noted by's Chris Isidore -- back in the crazed pre-agreement hours leading to the 2002 labor deal, the frenzied labor negotiators inserted a mysterious clause into the impending deal.

That clause says, essentially (in language way more complicated than this) that any team that didn't pay luxury tax in the 2005 season is 100 percent off the hook in 2006.

Doesn't matter by how much that team blows by the payroll threshold. Doesn't matter how many different tax rates are listed in the agreement for next season. Doesn't matter whether that team paid the luxury tax in any previous season. None of that matters.

So, unbeknownst to most of the sport, the only teams that face a potential tax bill next year are the Yankees (guaranteed to be taxed at 40 percent, as four-time offenders) and the Red Sox (who paid this year but probably won't pay next year unless their payroll goes up by $13 million). But that's it.

All righty then. We know what you're thinking: How the heck did a strange rule like this find its way into this labor agreement -- with just about nobody noticing?

Well, here's the story, as we've heard it:

You might remember that in the previous labor deal -- the first one to contain one of these payroll taxes -- the last year of the agreement was completely tax-free.

OK, even if you don't remember, trust us. It was.

Well, because of that wrinkle in the old deal, the union was pressing for the same free ride to be included in the current agreement. The idea was to give the market a year to adjust, in case the tax turned out to suppress player salaries more than anticipated.

Oh, and one more thing: That one-year gap was supposed to establish the principle that the two sides weren't necessarily committed to this tax forever and ever.

So naturally, as negotiations heated up, this issue remained a thorny little tug o' war. The owners didn't want any year to have no tax. The union was digging in. So in the end, they did what negotiators are supposed to do: They compromised.

And this was the compromise: No matter how much tax a team paid in 2003 or 2004, if it dipped under the threshold in 2005, it was safe from the tax man in 2006.

"I admit it's kind of quirky," says one baseball man who was involved in those talks. "But that's the compromise we came up with."

So now here we are, more than three years later. And here's that compromise, ready to take hold for this, the final year of the labor deal. But when we polled high-ranking officials of four teams last week, only one had ever even heard of this rule.

Why? Because MLB never mentioned it at the time the deal was done -- and hasn't advertised it since, even now that the time to apply that rule has arrived.

Matter of fact, MLB has never even advised the Mets (or the Angels or Phillies, either) that it could directly affect them -- and save them millions of bucks. Why? Because it obviously was hoping nobody would bother to read the fine print.

Oops. Somebody did. We didn't mean to blow anybody's cover. But someone needs to read this stuff -- and let the world know the rules. Sorry about that.

Meanwhile, there's one more reason this rule could be even more significant than it might appear:

We've been hearing murmuring beneath the surface that enough people in the sport are so happy with the current labor deal that they'd be interested in taking advantage of another clause in the agreement -- a clause that allows the two sides simply to extend the deal for 2007.

But if they just extend it, they would be extending another tax-free year along with it (a potentially monstrous advantage for the Red Sox in 2007 if they pay no tax in 2006). Or they could negotiate yet another compromise on that particular issue.

Now it isn't likely the Mets will actually add enough dollars to their payroll (which was about $101 million this year) to have this wrinkle kick in. But it's possible.

Which means that, with a new TV network ready to hit the air, Mets GM Omar Minaya and his good friends, the Wilpons, have been handed the right to go on their very own fun-filled free-agent supermarket sweep.

All thanks to the Wacky World of Labor Deals. Gotta love it.

Anonymous said...

133 days until opening day

Metstradamus said...

jdon, it only means that the Mets can get him without giving up the world. I think Zambrano and Anderson Hernandez (I had guessed Zambrano and Keppinger last month), along with maybe a lower level prospect should get it done