When we last left our season preview, we were buried in names on the free agent market (Zito, Soriano, Spiezio, something else-o), but you know that the Mets are going to be prudent in their approach to this season and not necessarily dive into the free agent market. Hence, there will more than likely be a trade. And I know what it should be.
Except that after Guillermo Mota's 50 game suspension for an unidentified substance, my master plan might be buried deep into the Shea Stadium bullpen grounds before it ever gets off the ground.
"To my teammates and the entire Mets organization, I am sorry. I truly regret what I did and hope that you can forgive me. To baseball fans everywhere, I understand that you are disappointed in me, and I don't blame you. I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen. I am determined to prove to you that this was one mistake." -Guillermo Mota, on giving up the game tying triple to Scott Spiez...er, on his drug suspensionAfter much consideration, I have decided that the show must go on. Even with this latest development, the trade I have cooked up, while most likely affected greatly, still must happen...especially if all free agent opportunities go bust (mainly because I worked so hard thinking this up that I nearly pulled a brain muscle...no time to turn back now).
So as promised, the trade so blockbuster, so out of this world, that it gets it's own post.
It's that big.
It's that blockbuster.
It's that stupid.
Padres get: SP Oliver Perez
White Sox get: RP Scott Linebrink, RP/SP Aaron Heilman, and CF Andruw Jones
Braves get: SP Freddy Garcia, and OF Lastings Milledge
Mets get: SP Mark Buehrle, and SP Tadahito Iguchi
Got all that?
Trust me, it's not as confusing as I'm making it out to be. Let's start from the beginning and go step by step:
Let's remember something about Ollie Perez...as much as Omar Minaya is pumping him up as having a bright future with the Mets, and he still might, don't forget that Minaya might also be pumping him up for a possible trade. We know that Ollie Perez for Scott Linebrink almost happened in July, and that Ollie has made no secret of his recessed desire to play in San Diego. Besides, the Mets are plentiful in fourth and fifth starters, between John Maine, Dave Williams, and Brian Bannister. So let's make this one for one deal right away.
Now, the Mets add Linebrink to a bullpen that includes Billy Wagner, Filthy Sanchez, Guillermo Mota (assuming he re-signs), Chad Bradford (assuming he re-signs as well), and Pedro Feliciano (and let's throw in Juan "The Fly" Padilla, who's coming off of injury just for fun). Mighty crowded 'pen, no? So now, the Mets are dealing from as much strength with their bullpen as the White Sox will be from their starting rotation.
And what else do we know about the White Sox other than they're looking to make room for Brandon McCarthy (and eventually, a kid named Lance Broadway)? Well, we know that they have to rebuild their bullpen, which was much better during their World Championship season of 2005 than it was in 2006. For all of the bluster going around about starting pitching, the Mets got to Game 7 of the NLCS with almost no starting pitching, while the White Sox, who went five deep, didn't even make it to October. I would be willing to lay money down that Ken Williams looked at Omar Minaya's plan of building a better bullpen and would like to emulate that plan by dealing from their strength.
On the Mets side, I agree with Joel Sherman. Mota suspension or no Mota suspension, it's time to trade Aaron Heilman.
Aaron Heilman will never hold as much value to the Mets as he does right now. With Filthy poised to take the eighth inning back, and the Mets refusing to put Heilman in the starting rotation, Heilman's value would only go down if he remained in New York since he would be pitching in less important spots. And not only would his value go down, his morale would go down since he wants to start. Aaron Heilman wants his innings to mean more, not less. If he stays, his innings will mean less. So why do that to Heilman when it's clearly in the best interests of the Mets to maximize his value?
Heilman, along with Linebrink, immediately improve the White Sox bullpen ten-fold...if that's how the Sox want to use Heilman. They could also choose to use him to plug Buehrle's vacant spot in the rotation if they wish.
Now I challenge you, the astute baseball fan that you are, to argue to me that it isn't necessary to include Milledge in a deal for Buehrle, who has a team option for 2007 at $9.5 million that the Pale Hose will surely pick up. If you told me that since Buehrle is coming off a down year, and he's admitted to having lower back issues which have only hampered him on off days, that Linebrink and Heilman would be quite enough to get this deal done, I would absolutely believe you. I would believe you because you probably know more than me. Your line of thinking would leave Milledge free to trade (along with Phil Humber) for Carl Crawford. I would be completely on board with that...partly because I've been going back and forth on that subject in my fragile mind.
I just don't think this line of thinking would fly with White Sox GM Kenny Williams.
So this is why I make sure the deal gets done by including Milledge, and getting an answer for second base in return also, provided the White Sox pick up their team option on him as well (for a shade over $3 million).
Those who would argue the other extreme might ask this: Buehrle's a stud. Does Lastings Milledge hold enough value to bring this ace back? The answer is yes for one simple reason: The Mets run the risk of having Buehrle, or Iguchi, or both becoming the next Mike Hampton. With both players on their option season, they could decide that the "school systems" are better in Denver or St. Louis or the Bronx after 2007. So there's decided risk on the Mets part here (unless they work out a long-term deal with Buehrle at the very least, which would be mandatory).
So there you have it. Outside of perhaps some extra minor leaguers to flesh this bad boy out, that's my idea in a nutshell (key word: "nut"). The Mets get their top of the rotation starter who pitches so fast that you can go to a Mets game and be home in time to watch his highlights on Baseball Tonight. The Mets also solve their second base problem as well. (And as for left field, don't forget about Scott Podsednik, who might be non-tendered by the Sox.)
The White Sox have room for McCarthy and Broadway in their rotation, improve their bullpen, and for entertainment purposes only, turn around and trade Freddy Garcia and Lastings Milledge for Andruw Jones and get the Curacao Curator the heck out of the National League East (it's the only incentive for the White Sox to enter into a deal that involves Milledge rather than a starting pitching prospect). The Sox would then probably attempt to fill their hole at second base by pursuing Chone Figgins, possibly by dangling Brian Anderson...who if this deal goes through would be rendered defunct as a White Sock.
The Padres get a starter with upside who wants to be there.
The Braves get a pitcher, and cut payroll at the same time. They also get a young replacement for Andruw Jones. And while it might be difficult to see Lastings Milledge as a Brave, consider that Jones wouldn't be around to murder the Mets anymore, and that the Mets would still have some outfield futures in their lineup such as Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez.
Now you may be wondering what happens if Buehrle comes on board, and the Mets also sign Zito. Wouldn't the Mets rotation be a little crowded if Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez return as expected?
Good question. And the answer is "not necessarily". Remember that Petey is gone until June. Also remember that a post-rotator cuff Petey will probably not be at full strength until the start of 2008, when he'll be 36. Although it's certainly possible that Petey has one more great run in him at the age of 36, it would behoove the hierarchy to make any and all moves under the assumption that Pedro Martinez will be a non-entity moving forward.
(Don't be mad at me Petey, I got the term from Macha.)
If Zito and Buehrle are your 1-2 punch, Glavine is three, John Maine is four and Orlando Hernandez is five. Simple, right? And you know as well as I do that there will be opportunities for Mike Pelfrey or Dave Williams or Brian Bannister to get work due to the fact that two of the Mets starters would be pulling forty years old (once you get to the other side, you're no longer pushing 40...you're pulling it) and will probably have calf issues.
Even if Petey comes back and is Petey, guess who Orlando Hernandez becomes...very good. He becomes the new Darren Oliver, as Oliver will no doubt look for riches (well deserved riches, I might add) elsewhere.
But most likely, the Mets will get one ace and not two, which would mean that your pitching staff for '07 would look something like this:
- Hernandez (Orlando, not Roberto)
- John Maine
- Pelfrey/Bannister/Williams/Petey in July
After Mota's suspension (killing any chance that the Mets bring him back), maybe it's imperative to table this trade and put all of their efforts into signing Barry Zito. But remember, there are free agents out there for the bullpen too. None of them are under 30 but hey, there are plenty of good ones out there (think Jamie Walker, Cliff Politte, or Joe Borowski for starters), as opposed to the lack of starters available. And hey, if Milledge is gone, they could bring in Steve Kline for the express purpose of beaning him 19 games a year!
So that, my friends, is my attempt to become part of the solution, and not part of the problem.
Discuss amongst yourselves.