Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bad Santa

Dear Santa,

When you drop by the house on December 25th, please drop off a lefthanded ace. Preferably the one from Oakland.

Milk and cookies are on the counter top,

So December 25th comes and goes, no Santa.

Finally today, at about noon today, I hear a faint noise at the door. Not a knock, more like somebody trying to pick the lock. So I open the door (baseball bat in hand)...and wouldn't you know it, it's Santa Claus!

"Ooh ooh Santa! You're finally here! Where's that pitcher I asked for" I exclaim.

Santa proceeded to kick me square in the nuts.

Then he said that he had to relieve himself. And he did...all over the couch.

I tried to introduce Santa to my cat...and he kicked her.

He slapped my wife.

He broke my phone.

He ate my meat loaf, then threw up on my television.

He threw my Christmas tree out the window.

Then Santa handed me a note...

You can't have your pitcher because you've been a bad Mets fan.

-Mr. Scott Boras
With that, Santa let loose a 10 second belch which reeked of bourbon and vomit and he was on his way.

Forget this being a long winter...this has been a courtship that has lasted the better part of two years. And now it's over. Barry Zito is a San Francisco Giant, having received a shocking 7 year, $126 million offer, the largest contract ever for a pitcher. The offseason all of a sudden feels very empty.

Where to begin...perhaps with some frequently asked questions:

Do you blame the Mets for not going to 7 years and 126 million?

No, I can't. But I'll tell you what I do blame them for: All along, it seemed as if the Mets were playing games with these negotiations...going at them half ast as if it the Jim Duquette regime was back. This was the player that the Mets were going to take a stand with. But the Mets misread the market that they tried to set. If the Wilpons had come to 6 seasons and 100 million from the very beginning, maybe the negotiations don't drag out this long while giving the Giants ample time to look under the cushions of every couch in the stadium (including Barry Bonds' private vibrating one) to gather enough money to blow everybody out of the water. Instead the Mets, just as they did with Vladimir Guerrero, tried to get Zito on the cheap. No, Barry Zito isn't anywhere close to Vladimir Guerrero. And no, this wasn't as embarrassing as Guerrero if it's even construed as embarrassing at all. But there were definite similarities in how each situation was handled.

Why would Barry Zito choose a team that, while close to home, is aged and going nowhere fast as long as Barry Bonds is taking up their whole payroll, over a team that is young and has a chance to do great things?

My response to that would be: what choice? The $126 million contract offer from the Giants was $126 million more than what the Mets offered. Where was the offer, exactly? My only question would be this: Did the Prince of Darkness bother to give the Mets even a cursory chance to match the offer? If he did, I'm sure the Mets would have said no. If not, then Darkness probably just assumed that by the Mets' lack of aggression that they weren't going to match it anyway. Or did Zito, upon hearing of the offer from San Francisco, tell his Prince to end the suspense right then and there and sign the deal?

Is this a case where the Mets are reverting back to their cheap ways?

I hope not, and I don't think so. Look, the Wilpons went out and overpaid for Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, and attempted to pony up $38 million just to talk to Gyroball Matsuzaka, so they are willing to spend money. Who the hell thought that a $38 million bid would be second best? It's just a matter of the Wilpons thinking that Gyroball was worth the obscene money and Zito was not. In my humble estimation, that's a miscalculation.

But that's why Omar Minaya runs the Mets and I have a blog.

Did the Mets take a lukewarm approach to Zito because they feel that next season's free agents are a better crop?

That's entirely possible. There's one problem with that: If the Toronto Blue Jays, of all teams, can lock up a player who wanted to escape Toronto badly with a 7-year $126 year contract, then why wouldn't you think that the all of a sudden free spending Cubs wouldn't lock up Carlos Zambrano? Why wouldn't you think that the increasingly dangerous Astros wouldn't lock up Jason Jennings? Why wouldn't you think that the White Sox would have a renewed interest in locking up Mark Buehrle? My point is, I think that everyone that the Mets would/should hope for for 2008 will never hit free agency. The Mets should have factored that into their thinking.

Well, in Omar we trust...right?

I trust Omar. I've trusted Omar to do the right thing all along.

I still do. But right now, I trust that Omar will do nothing.

I have to be honest...I fear plan B. The Mets needed an ace. They will not get one unless they make a trade...and most likely, they will not land an ace via trade unless they give up either Mike Pelfrey or Phil Humber. Is there an available ace that is worth giving up one of those pitchers? My guess is no. Oswalt isn't available. Dontrelle? If Dontrelle was available, he would have been gone already. With the White Sox having unloaded Freddy Garcia and Brandon McCarthy, that crosses off Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland (notice, Omar, I did not equate the name "Javy Vazquez" with the word "ace". Take heed, please.) With Zito gone, I'll take my chances with Pelfrey or Humber or both in the '07 rotation.

But the Mets were one game from the World Series. So what's the problem?

The problem is that the Mets haven't significantly improved. Everyone else in the National League seemingly has. Two teams needed an ace pitcher. One ponied up the money, the other didn't. Plain and simple. The Mets had one chance to improve their team and didn't do it. They tried to get the Gyroball, and they didn't have a realistic chance at Jason Schmidt because he wasn't moving east. Apparently, they never had a real chance at Zito either.

Is there anyone that wants to pitch in New York?

Are other teams mindful of the Mets' need for an ace to the point where they will drive up the price for their ace?

If Brian Cashman calls Omar Minaya and offers Randy Johnson for Pelfrey and Humber, then you will know the answer to that question.

Isn't there anything the Mets can do that isn't going to involve the two studs?

Maybe. Brad Penny could probably be had without giving up the studs. He's not an ace like Zito's an ace, but he might be ace light (or at least Ace Frehley.) I know people like yourselves would go nuts if I even suggested trading Aaron Heilman, but if it takes unloading Heilman to get a top half of the rotation starter, you have to do it. Yes, I preach bullpen, bullpen, bullpen all the time. But can you really expect Aaron Heilman to keep pitching with motivation and conviction if his role is at best going to remain the 8th inning, and more likely be demoted to the seventh inning when Filthy Sanchez is deemed to have regained full strength?

But wouldn't this be the perfect time to give Heilman that shot to be a starter?

Maybe. But think about this from the Mets' perspective: They do not see Heilman as a starter. With his numbers against batters the second time through the lineup, I can't say that I blame them. Yet there are other teams out there that feel that the Mets undervalue Heilman. If those teams are willing to give up a top half starter to obtain Heilman to start, then why not let them take that chance instead of the Mets?

Is there an ace out there that might be available that nobody would believe is available?

Probably not. Put a gun to my head and demand an answer? I'll say Boston's Josh Beckett. I only say that because if they need a closer, they could probably ask for Heilman and Milledge and get a deal like that done...then decide whether Heilman slides into Beckett's spot, or closes, while replacing Coco Crisp in center field with Milledge. A Josh Beckett return to the National League would be lethal...partly because I think Beckett is going to have a nice bounce-back season with the Red Sox.

But that's a wild guess that I don't think the Red Sox would go for.

Would you consider bringing back Steve Trachsel at this point?

I would rather Santa Claus return and barf on my laptop computer.

Thanks for everything Santa. And just so you know, I can't guarantee that next year's batch of cookies aren't going to be laced with something, and that there isn't going to be ecstasy in the milk (though I doubt it would have any effect on you, you booze hound.) Merry Christmas.


The Metmaster said...


It's been a while, but I remember the breathing exercises I coached my wife with when our first child was born. Breathe deep. Let the air out slowly. Focus on something besides the pain.
This is preposterous money to pay for a good, not great, pitcher. I say, well done Omar. One needs to look at another sport to see the damage a preposterous deal can do to a franchise. Have the Vikings ever REALLY recovered from the Herschel Walker deal? The Giants are now hamstrung with this deal. Good luck and good night as the man with the cigarette used to say.
Let's look at this calmly. The one team that has imporoved in the league that impacts the Mets are the Phillies with the Garcia deal. Will that be the difference maker between these two teams? I think not. Will Zito make S.F. a lock in the West? Is Houston that much better? The Cardinals? The Cubs? If there is a team to fear, fear the youth of the Marlins. We have to consider one constant that we heard all winter. Every potential deal the Mets talked about started and ended with Pelfry, Humber and Heilman. Well, we still have them. Is every other GM crazy? (I know, I know. I remember "Generation K") Time for Peterson to earn the big bucks. Make these studs into stars. We saw glimpses in 2006. Hopefully it was not a tease.
Now, breathe deep. Slowly exhale.... Think of something pleasurable. Scott Kazmir....Tommy John surgery.

DFrank11 said...

Can we talk about the Heilman as a starter thing for a minute? i may be crazy, but this is the way I see it ...

Heilman wants to be a starter, he'll be happier as a starter and the rumors are that many of the teams that the Mets have talked trade with want him in the deal so THEY can make him a starter. So ...

Rather than taking a fly on Okha, Weaver, Redman, or one of the other less than average starters available, and instead of trading the future, why not give him a shot?

Go out and make a free agent move for a quality middle reliever, move Heilman into the rotation and see how he does for the first third of the season. If he is as good as some people seem to think, then he is a solid #3 starter. If not, then a trade can be made.

But the way I see it, if he turns into a solid #3, then the rotation is in much better shape than it was when the Mets were 1 game away from the WS.

Coop said...

Mad props for Omar - it wasn't about money, it was about years.

** "We were not willing to go to the seven-year areas he said he had," said Minaya, who conducted studies on the performances of pitchers with lengthy deals. "This is one guy who has been healthy, and we all wish him well. At the end of the day, the history ... I could not recommend to my ownership to go to seven guaranteed years."**

Could not agree more.

adoniram said...

This is frustrating news but you can't really blame Omar and Co. for not wanting to go as high as the Giants have. Locking up 18 million a year for a pitcher (no matter how durable) for 7 years is truly insane.

Where do we go now?

Beckett is probably not available but if Pelfrey and Milledge could get that done... pull the trigger.

As for Heilman. The idea of moving him back into the rotation is intriguing but the idea of packaging him off to someone else who thinks he can start is even better. Let them take the chance.

The worst scenario with Heilman is letting him start only to find out that he still can't hack it in the rotation. Then his trade value plummets as he truly becomes a middle reliever.

As for next year. We're in a little bit of trouble pitching wise. We'll really need some of our young guys to step up to a whole new level.

On the lineup side though I believe an already great offense will be even better.

Reyes and Wright should be one year better. Beltran is still in his prime. Delgado was up and down all year in 2006 and we can probably expect mostly the same from him. Valentin is not gonna hit 18 homers again but we do have Alou to replace Nady (and then some). So I think run production should equal or exceed 2006.

Sadly... that's only half of the equation.

So long Barry Zito, we hardly knew ye.

G-Fafif said...

When this offseason began, six for a hundred for a pitcher was insane. Five for 75 was reasonable and generous, especially as a starting point. More than five, whatever the price, is asking for trouble. Has anybody in the modern era put together seven consecutive acelike seasons? And stayed healthy? On one hand you can count them (use the middle finger for Clemens).

The Guerrero comparison is interesting but those Mets were going the bargain basement route (not totally insane in the context of Vlad's bad back and the market the way it was, if ultimately futile; the Mets in Jan. '04 struck me as a bad team trying to add a great player so they could become a bad team with a great player). These Mets may not have led the Zito chase, but they didn't cheap out.

Unser said...

Yes, this was an outrageous deal. Yes, I would have done the same thing Omar did. But we still have a big hole, or holes, in our starting rotation. Putting aside effectiveness, we have no one who's a lock to pitch even 150 innings.

I think Heilman is a good option at this point, for all the reasons mentioned by MD and dfrank. What have we got to lose? If it doesn't work out, send him back to the pen. At least let him compete as a starter in spring training.

Here's hoping Perez and Pelfrey bust out this year.

beezermess said...

The Mets had three chances to land a "top-notch" starter; one that will ease the wound of not having Pedro until August; one that would take the mound and ooze with confidence.....
Schmidt: Strike one
Matsuzaka: Strike two
Zito: Strike three (but not any strike three, it is the same strike that Beltran took from Adam Wainwright that ended the NLCS)
Seven years is a long time, I agree, but he would have been 35 at the end of the contract, not 41 like Kevin Brown and he has been durable. I think Omar choked on this one. He had the chance to put a stud starter in their with their two best players, Wright and Reyes. That would have been a great nucleus, but it is all for naught.
What now, Omar? Minor-league contracts and invitations to Victor Zambrano and Steve Traschel? Thanks for the non-gift!

Anonymous said...

beezermess - I can't call strikes on Schmidt (he wanted the West Coast, is 32 and has faltered the past couple of years) or Matsuzaka (they bid $38.5 million for Pete's sake, who thought anyone would bid $50+).

As for Zito, the mistake was not saying to him last week - 5 years, $90 m. They tried to wait him out, and lost. I will not blame them for not going 7 years. And as much as I like Zito, he is far from a stud. Santana is a stud, Oswalt is a stud. Zito is second tier, quite good, but not elite.

Metstra - good analysis as always. I was thinking the same about Beckett. Boston does need a closer and centerfielder, and Beckett is cheap compared to some of the deals done this offseason.

the king said...

And what a shame it would be if we give young talented pitchers like Pelfrey and Humber a chance.

That NEVER works. Just ask last years Detroit Tigers! They tried it last year, and it only got them to the World Series.

I would be distraught if Mike Pelfrey turned out to be next year's Justin Verlander.

Shame on you, Omar! Way to not give an overrated a pitcher one of the 5 worst contracts in baseball history, and going with young arms instead.

Anonymous said...

you're a retard

would you pay ziti 126 million for 7 years?

hell no

what kind of team would pay that much for a pitcher like that?

the giants

this is the point in every organization where you have to make decisions about your minor league system that you are paying for...and grow some homegrown weed

beezermess said...

Ed--In this year's free-agent market, Zito was a "Stud". I am not comparing him to Santana or Oswalt because we both know that they are studs. For what our need was, he is 28 years old, has not been hurt and gives you innings and with a starter who is out until August and two starters that are 40+ years old...he is EXACTLY what you needed to lead a rotation of the future.
You're right on Dice-K...who the hell knew that the Red Sox would bid 50+ million, but it is a strike...
As far as Schmidt, If the Mets had offered three years and 50+ million and he decided to stay in the West, than that is fine, but the fact that they did not even try makes it a strike. And if you did not notice, he got stronger and better in the second-half last season....
As far as Beckett is concerned, he is a injury-risk as he has yet to be "fully healthy" in any year. I think he is worth the risk, but not at the expense of trading young pitchers (Humber or Pelfrey).
Pelfrey and Humber are are right if they become our version of Justin Verlander, but they could also become Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen or Paul Wilson...remember those three?
We have a team that is built to win and you need to have a starter that can go out there every fifth day...are you that confident with Pelfrey and Humber? I am not ready to commit to that...

Anonymous said...

beezermess - I wouldnt trade either of Pelfry or Humber for Beckett. Heilman (sho could close for them) and another body could go to Boston.

I've gotta think Omar at least spoke to Schmidt's agent, and was told no way. Besides, there was enough in the press that he was west coast only. Just because we never heard about it, doesn't mean it did not happen. The Mets do not leak as much as in the past, thankfully.

I just don't blame Omar for not going 7 years for a pitcher. The track is littered with durable guys who signed big contracts like that and got hurt, Brown and Hampton come to mind. They bid $75 for 5 years, and told Boras they could increase the $ but not the years. It's a fair offer. The Giants offer is ridiculous. They bid against themselves.
Detroit went with young guys last year, and it worked. No one is expecting Pelfry to be a #1 this year, more like a #4 or 5.

Am I thrilled with the rotation at this point, no way. But it is fine for now, and Omar will act when he needs to.

Happy New Year everyone.

Metstradamus said...

"You're a retard." -anonymous

Once again, excellent analysis from the rogue gallery of anonymouses. I'm a better person for having read that, as I'm sure we all are.

Next time, please specify the "retard" in question so they can respond...although I don't see the point because how can you craft a response to match "you're a retard" in wit and knowledge?

I mean, it's just sheer brilliance.

Jadier from Queens said...

Not getting Zito was a real loss and forces the Mets into a situation where they may have to trade to get what they want. And other teams know it. Paying that much for Zito is a real risk but the free agent market over the next couple of years looks pretty dry. Thank goodness this team has some trade bait to make things happen...or you'd really be stuck. Teams are going to want these young guns and/or Milledge to get a deal done at this point. Sadly, without a significant trade, they'll have to go with the young staff and perhaps add on a second tier guy before the season starts.

You can go back to trade deadline on this blog to see all of the pitchers discussed that would have helped out in the 2006 season much less the 2007 season. Take a look at all the names dreamed about on this blogsite....they've all landed somewhere...and not in New York.

The Mets have the same weaknesses in 2007 that they did in 2006. The only difference is that you are relying on a young staff to fill out a playoff rotation versus wondering how Trachsel would fare as a Game 3 starter in the World Series.

I respect Minaya for not throwing the franchise at Zito. However, Met fans would be lying if they thought they'd be entering 2007 without a big splash.

As the rhyme on the blogsite before Christmas went.....Omar's go no place to go...."No Zito, No Zito, No Zito"

Marlon Muñoz said...

Oliver Perez, baby.

jdon said...

the mets won 97 games last year and all they have really lost is chad bradford. they have upgraded for a year with aloum who will probably play the same number of games floyd would have and drive in twice as many runs. i hear they are considering a trade for C. C. Aircraft Carrier from Cleveland?

adoniram said...

Well I mostly agree with you jdon, but let's not forget Pedro.

Granted, Pedro wasn't so great for the second half but he did contribute to those 97 wins, especially before the injuries started rolling in.

However, you could argue that the Mets basically didn't have Pedro for the second half last year and basically won't have him for the first this year making it a wash. The problem with that argument is the assumption that Pedro will pitch at all in 2007 and that he will be effective. That's probable but not a lock.

Even as things stand today (assuming no more moves) you've gotta pick the Mets to win the East. No doubt about that.

Anonymous said...

jdon--is that cc sabathia mention
credible? any sources?

fredstradamus said...

congrats on the 300k+ hits, bro.