Dear Santa,So December 25th comes and goes, no 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,
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...
Metstradamus,With that, Santa let loose a 10 second belch which reeked of bourbon and vomit and he was on his way.
You can't have your pitcher because you've been a bad Mets fan.
-Mr. Scott Boras
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.