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.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Growing List

This Mets offseason is quickly turning into those police movies...where the local authorities pour their blood sweat and tears into a case, only to have the FBI move in and overrule the locals' jurisdiction.

Proof that you can never be too comfortable comes in the form of the news that the Yankees are looking into dealing Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I made the mistake of taking that story at face value when I perused the different versions of the story. There were no mentions of the Mets or Barry Zito until I read the headline on the Sports Illustrated website that read "Yanks dangling Johnson, eyeing Zito".

Of course I got worried, expecting to read a sentence in that story that started with "Sources say...". Instead, I read what amounted to be Jon Heyman conjuring up a scenario in his crystal ball, with a lot of "well, the Yankees haven't made any overtures towards Zito, but they could get have to think they'd get him because they're the New York Yankees and, well, you know, shouldn't we all genuflect towards the New York Yankees?"

Of course, by dragging the New York Yankees into the Zito equation, Heyman has effectively given Scott Boras a larger commission. It's not a coincidence, as the Metstradamus crack staff uncovered a copy of this cancelled check from Scott Boras made out to Heyman (there are no holidays for the crack staff when it comes to uncovering the injustices of Scott Boras):

So in response to the manuscript by Boras' newest minion, this leaves other media outlets like the New York Times and ESPN's Steve Phillips to match the genuflecting, pushing the Yankees further into the Zito conversation.

Of course, the Johnson trade has to happen first. A smart GM would only trade for Randy Johnson if it were to help his club. When Johnson went from Phoenix to New York, it was in exchange for Javy Vazquez, Dioner Navarro, and Brad Halsey. Two years later, it would figure that Johnson would go the other way at a considerably lower cost to the Diamondbacks, especially if the Yankees don't pick up any of the salary which they don't want to do. So Arizona has two options. Either

  • Take Randy Johnson and his bad back for nothing but pick up his entire salary, or...
  • Take Randy Johnson and his bad back at a reduced cost but give up a good prospect or two and help restock the Yankees farm system.

Neither would seem like a decent option for the Diamondbacks...but GM's seem to have their IQ points drop by the bushel when they talk to Brian Cashman, probably because conversations seem to go like this:

Cashman: Okay, here's the deal, give us what we want and I won't send security to kill you.

Other GM: Deal.

So basically, it's a race against the clock for the Mets to sign Barry Zito before Steinbrenner and the Prince of Darkness conspire to bring the Yankees head long into the discussion. Remember, Boras tried this before with Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees didn't bite. So some advice to David Wright, Tom Glavine and company...while you're selling New York to Barry Zito, sell the fact that the future is brighter in Queens than in the Bronx. Sell the fact that it would be bright still with Barry Zito in Queens instead of the Bronx.

And sell it quickly.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Carol For Omar

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
Arlington's no place to go...
Get Zito, get Zito, get Zito.

He doesn't show signs of stopping
And his fastball is a'popping
Since his WHIP is relatively low
Get Zito, get Zito, get Zito.

When we finally say play ball
How I'll hate Jeff Suppan more and more
But if you really sign Zito
His ERA will be well under four.

Negotiations are slowly dying
And Scott Boras is still lying
But if Omar loves me so...
He'll get Zito, get Zito, get Zito.

Happy Holidays to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good Byes And Contingencies

Inactivity is the Devil's handiwork.

At least, I think that's how the saying goes.

No really, it is. And I can prove it. I you really think it's coincidence that I take about a week off from blogging here, and Chris Woodward goes and signs with the Braves?

Satan caught me napping, and now the player that I took great pains in providing some good luck for at times in 2005, goes and joins Satan's minions.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking and you're probably right. I shouldn't sweat the small stuff, and in the grand scheme of things, Chris Woodward is small potatoes. But while we're all sitting here worrying about Barry Zito (speaking of inactivity being Scott Boras' handiwork), Chris Woodward, a bench player I've grown fond of, sneaks off to Atlanta to be a non-descript bench player who will most assuredly use his healed labrum to beat the Mets with a walk-off hit in 2007...for the Braves, I remind you...and drive me nuts in the process.

But that's a future heartache for a future time. The clear and present danger is what happens to the Mets if they don't sign Zito. And, in a scenario I was afraid of, the Mets have talked to the man who is setting himself up to be America's Consolation Prize, Jeff Suppan.

Oh, great. A potential soothing analgesic to ease the pain of losing Barry Zito, and at the same time a reminder to the Mets and their fans of the way they had it shoved down their throats in October by the very same Suppan. Yes, let's push Barry Zito away from Shea with our fiscal responsibility, then show up at the door of Scott Leventhal...reeking of desperation...while opening our wallets and shouting "pleeeeease, won't somebody take our moneeeeeeey" and proceeding to bid against ourselves to fill a gaping hole to a man who will most likely use the extra cash to hire a therapist to remind him that he's a .500 pitcher with an ERA of over four and a half just in time to make his Mets debut.

A lifetime supply of Turtle Wax in the role of: Ace.

Sounds like a plan to me. I'll ponder that possibility on Christmas Eve while watching a marathon of "The Game 365" featuring Fran Healy on MSG network, and preparing sharpened candy canes to stick in my eyes soon afterwards.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The "u" Is Silent...The Agent Will Not Be

So now that the Dicey-K deal is finally finished, can the world resume spinning already?

That's gotta be what Barry Zito was asking this morning. Personally, if I'm a lefty pitcher who is a Cy Young award winner, I'd personally be offended that my agent would make a pitcher who has never thrown a pitch in major league baseball his first priority while shoving me aside and treating me like a second banana. And if I were Barry Zito, I'd fire my agent immediately.

But that's me speaking as a Met fan pretending he's Barry Zito...and not really as Barry Zito.

Far be it from me to suggest that Daisuke (the "u" is silent) Matsuzaka (the "u" is not silent) is a tad bit overvalued while the major-league experienced yet still just entering his prime lefthander has to wait in line for his agent, who supposedly works for him, to get done with Dice's deal. But such is life when your agent is the prince of darkness.

And while some may say that the two contracts are mutually exclusive of one another considering the unique circumstances surrounding the Japanese posting system, I fear otherwise. Scott Boras, you see, was arrogant enough to think that he could get close to $20 million a year for his Japanese league client, in addition to the $51 million the Red Sox posted for him. He soon realized , however, that he had no leverage, and only wrangled about $9 million a season for his client.

How do you think the prince of darkness feels this morning?

He's furious.

And if you were Boras, and you had to make a statement not only to major league baseball and it's member clubs, but to every young baseball player ready to enter the majors and wrestling with a decision as to which agent to hire, wouldn't you be even more determined to use Barry Zito's free agency to get every...last...dime that you could get from an owner regardless of whether that owner's team played in New York, Arlington, Anchorage, or Amsterdam?

Try not to answer that as a Met fan pretending to be Scott Boras. Really put yourself in the mind of the prince of darkness and think about how people might be thinking that the failure to get Dice a ridiculous contract is a chink in your armor.

Scott Boras is furious, and you would be too.

If Zito truly wants to play in New York, then now would be the perfect time to remind Boras that the agent works for the player and not the other way around, by instructing his agent to do everything he can to make sure Zito ends up as in Queens. But a more likely scenario is that Barry Zito hasn't made up his mind that strongly. More likely, Boras takes advantage of Zito's fragile mind and uses him to prove to the world that the prince of darkness is still the dominant baseball agent on the landscape.

The words "unleash" and "fury" come to mind.

The Mets will have to pay through the nose to get Zito, in direct contrast to recent propaganda (and until Barry Zito is holding up a Rangers jersey with Tom Hicks at his side, yes I believe that any words out of the Mets camp on Zito is propaganda). Because unlike with Dice, Scott Boras holds leverage. The best the Mets can hope for is to include a clause in the deal that stipulates that Barry Zito will not be allowed to hang glide, ride motorcycles with Jeff Kent, play pick-up basketball with Aaron Boone, or play Guitar Hero with Joel Zumaya.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pain Relief

I feel better already.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dark Chi

"Boy, our bullpen is getting worse by the day. No Chad Bradford, no Guillermo Mota for 50 games, and now, no Darren Oliver. This is getting ridiculous. And do you think maybe you can update your blog more than once a week before the tumbleweeds blow through? I appreciate your optimism, but you're a hump". -reader with dark Chi, in a quote heavily paraphrased and creatively licensed.
So let me get this straight: In a shark infested free agent market for pitchers, Darren Oliver takes advantage of the opportunity to triple his salary...and I'm the bad guy?

Dark Chi...indeed.

But dear readers, what surprises me is that Oliver is going to the Angels to resume the very same role he had as a Met. One would think that his six inning liferaft in Game three of the NLCS would have opened some eyes as to his ability as a starting pitcher...and in this market, you would have thought that Oliver would have seized the opportunity to elevate his role with a desperate team like Kansas City or Milwaukee.

Instead, he joins a solid Angels bullpen with nary an overture by the Mets.

Curiously, the Mets are gambling that lightning doesn't strike twice. Blueback Bradford was one story, with Omar Minaya not willing to give three additional seasons to a submariner with back issues. But Darren Oliver is an entirely different ballgame. We all assumed that Cousin Oliver would be a goner with the money flying around for starters...but the Angels signed him relatively cheap for the same role as he had before. At about $1.75 million for one season (with a $2 million) that's just about triple what Oliver made in '06 ($600 K). Consider that the Mets just about tripled Jose Valentin's salary in signing him for '07, but wouldn't do so with the similarly aged Oliver. As Dark Chi so eloquently put it (well, more like he grunted it to me while at the Fatburger drive-thru) why wouldn't you work to keep together the strength of your club, which is the bullpen?

The Chi's answer to the Dark Chi would be that just as with the reasoning for not offering a third season to match Chad Bradford, relievers rarely have two good seasons in a row. And add to that the fact that the Mets will have plenty of internal candidates to take over for name a handful: Jason Vargas, Dave Williams, Jon Adkins, Phil Humber...heck even Orlando Hernandez if Minaya acquires enough top end starting talent (hint hint).

Now if Dark Chi had come complaining to me about Jesus Flores becoming the new Dan Uggla in '07 after the Nats took him from the Mets as a Rule V player, then I would have understood.

Speaking of Dark Chi, what if Keith Partridge and Kelly Leak had a child?

That's right, you get SNY's newest employee.

Yes, Lee Mazzilli is returning, somewhat, to his roots, as he will be a studio analyst for Mets Post Game Live with Matt Yallof on the Home Of The Mets That Sometimes Runs Derek Jeter Commercials, Sports Net New York. It's a homecoming made possible by the fact that Mazzilli couldn't find a job after being fired as a manager, and then as a bench coach. So when Mazzilli says "I love the fact that I'm coming back to work for the team that originally drafted me", he really means "I needed a job on a major league bench but was having no luck...even Art Howe was more desired than I it was time to fall back to television. But when my smooth television persona and my good looks land me a managerial opening I'm sooooooooooo outta here." Of course, this move never happens without Keith Hernandez's desire to expand his vacation time to 130 games in 2007.

Of course, with Mazzilli's expansive infusion of Yankee blood, we can expect to hear such riveting analysis such as "Well, when I was a Yankee coaching under Joe Torre...", and "When I was the first base coach and Todd Zeile blatently interfered with Chuck Knoblauch on the basepaths..."

How I bet you will not be hearing Mazzilli starting a sentence will be:

  • "Well I managed Sammy Sosa, so I have some experience with corked bats, and..."
  • "Speaking of syringes, I managed Rafael Palmeiro, and you know I looked like Palmeiro way back in 1982..."
  • "Hey, with the success of my run in 'Tony and Tina's wedding'..."

Italian Stallion Live...only on SNY in '07.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Screw You Guys, I'm Going To The Dominican Republic

And with that, Omar headed for the airport, with Muselix Burgos in tow.

What, you expected more?

Yeah, me too.

But the winter meetings seem to be all about chasing windmills anyway. Lotsa talk, lotsa foundations laid down...but if you want big news, the last thing anyone should do, myself included, is depend on the winter meetings for excitement and thrills.

So let's review, shall we?

The Phillies trade Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia.

What's this, now Pat Gillick gets smart? While I still haven't forgiven Gillick for his awful Bobby Abreu/Cory Lidle salary dump, this isn't a bad trade for Philly. Garcia isn't a world beater (there was a reason why Aaron Heilman alone would have gotten this deal done during the 2006 season), but for Floyd and Gio it's an upgrade, and more importantly, Philly now has the flexibility for a possible Jon Lieber for Derrick Turnbow and Kevin Mench trade, which would help them more than the Garcia trade does. (And heaven help the rest of the National League if Dallas Green can keep Pat Burrell away from the "broads"!)

But here's the good news: Carlos Beltran is a lifetime .429 hitter off of Garcia. Carlos Delgado is a lifetime .357, and each have three home runs. And get this, Todd Zeile is a lifetime .455 hitter off of Freddy Garcia (no, I have no idea why Zeile, and Mo Vaughn, and Wil Cordero, and Andres Galarraga, and Bret Boone, and Jay Bell who hasn't played in the league in four years, are still listed either). Now place those at-bats in Citizens Bank Shoebox and you have the potential for some Playstation numbers...or at least steroids era numbers.

The White Sox then put Jon Garland on the market, attempting to trade him to the Astros only to have Taylor Buchholz fail a physical (like he's Lee Suggs or something).

All right. We knew that the White Sox would get rid of one pitcher. But now they're getting rid of two, which leaves nothing for the Mets...which is fine since the fact that Omar Minaya seemingly wants to have Javy Vazquez's children (in an "adopt them from the eastern hemisphere" platonic kind of way...of course) doesn't instill comfort in my loins. But what it does mean is that the Astros are starting to scare the crap out of me...adding Garland along with Carlos Lee means that the Astros can still pitch and now they might be able to hit too. Metstradamus cannot sanction an Astros revival.

The Dodgers sign Jason Schmidt to a 3-year $47 million deal.

We knew all along that Schmidt was going to sign with a west coast team, but aren't we mildly surprised that he went directly from the Giants to the Dodgers? Barring Gil Renard tracking Schmidt down in the Dodgers lockerroom and using a rusty wrench crawling with scurvy to take liberties with his insides, this tips the balance of power in the Western division towards Los Angeles. Since Greg Maddux is about 85 years old anyway, so Maddux to Schmidt is an upgrade.

So three seemingly unrelated items come out of the winter meetings (and by the way, if GM's had any testicular fortitude, they would hold the winter meetings in Toronto or Montreal or Moose Jaw. It's not like these guys leave their hotel rooms anyway, right? What use are you going to get out of Lake Buena Freakin Vista? So Steve Phillips could play golf?) But as you know, nothing is unrelated. The signs are flashing, and the truth is out there.

Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, and Jason Schmidt merely underscore the importance of the Mets signing Barry Zito.

Omar is still going to dance the waterdance. He's still going to tell Scott Boras (in the guise of addressing the public at large, of course) that "hey, we have Glavine back, we have a reliever named Trail Mix, we have our very own performance enhancer for 112 games, and we might even trade for Danny Haren! We don't need to pay your ridiculous prices for your high end merchandise". And if Minaya loses this game of chicken, he'll repeat that line. But he doesn't mean it.

At least, I hope he doesn't mean it.

Here's the problem, Omar's dancing may have been a shrewd strategy before the winter meetings started, it isn't going to scare Satan Boras anymore. Boras has Tom Hicks ready to turn on the money faucet for Zito. He may have the Giants, Mariners, and Angels on line as well. Boras also has the Garcia trade, the Schmidt signing, and the potential Jon Garland trade as proof that the Mets need to keep up with the Joneses, and he'd be right.

What does Omar Minaya have...besides of course, Orlando Hernandez and his calf slated to be the number two starter? Minaya might have had Boras' desperation to keep a New York team in the chase, but with Boras using a four hour chat with Brian Cashman as a possible smokescreen (Lord I hope it's only a smokescreen), does Minaya even have that anymore?

What I'm trying to say is that there's no chance that Zito's asking price is going to remain in the general vicinity of the atmosphere. So if Omar really wants him (and he does if he's smart), he brings Barry Zito to New York City...he takes him to Corona Ice King, Spanky's BBQ, and every other New York City landmark that Minaya can think of (all while keeping him away from the "broads"), and then bringing Zito and the prince of darkness to the Shea Stadium mound and offer him six years at $105 million right then and there...then give him a pen and have him sign the contract right on the pitching rubber (even offer to buy Zito a new outfit after the duds he's wearing get all muddied up by lying on the pitching mound). And if he can't commit, then send them on their way to Arlington, or Orange County, or Oblivion, or wherever he wants to go.

Is $105 million for six years overpaying? Maybe. But would you rather overpay for the best that's out there, or would you rather overpay for Adam Eaton...especially when your glaring need (and everyone knows it) is a top of the rotation pitcher? And is it really overpaying when your organization is the beneficiary of two rounds of playoffs, the largest naming rights contract in the history of naming rights contracts, and the future revenue of the new stadium named for the corporation that paid out that highest amount of naming rights money...ever?

For Zito? I say this: Remember when Tom Hicks overpaid Alex Rodriguez? How exactly did that work out? And Rodriguez was a hitter going to a hitter's park. You, my flaky left-handed friend, would be a pitcher going to a hitters park. You would also go back to Oakland 10 times a year, where those Athletic supporters will taunt you with dollar bills and insults about your guitar playing. Would it be worth all of that to pitch in Texas during brutally hot summers where the ball will fly long and hard over that outfield wall?

If you think it would be worth it, if you would trade in the immediate chance to go to the World Series...along with the opportunity to pitch to the anemic 7-8-9 hitters that the National League is famous for and the chance to reunite with your pitching guru...for a few extra million and those Arlington summers, then good luck to you. Good luck.

For now, good luck to us, as we wake up every morning to turn on ESPNEWS hoping that breaking news box reads "Mets sign Barry Zito". With perhaps a Dan Haren trade (or a Vernon Wells trade??!?) to follow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Brian Bannister In: "Royally Screwed"

"Oh no. I've ripped my hamstring apart running the bases.

What if I'm really hurt, and can't work?

This is not good.

Wait! I have Aflac!

They give me cash, which is just as good as money!

And it won't hurt to miss work...since I know that I can't lose my job due to injury and get traded to the Royals, right?


Wrong, Brian Bannister. You tore your hamstring running the bases against the Giants...and in the "What did I do to deserve this" category, your reward is being banished to the Kansas City Royals a mere 7 months and change later.

Your Aflac duck, apparently, has failed you. If it was up to you, Brian Bannister, that duck would be sizzling on top of that "hot stove".

Perhaps the new guy has a better plan.

When you get a pitcher from the Rockies, you have to take into account park factor. When an A.L. team gets a pitcher gets a pitcher from the N.L., you have to take into account the DH factor.

The Mets now have a pitcher from the Kansas City Royals. They have to take into account the Royal factor. As in, how much of Ambiorix Burgos' stats have to do with the fact that he was with the worst team in baseball?

And how much of it was the fact that Burgos was, as Omar Minaya believes, was rushed to the big leagues?

Well, considering he was a Royal (you know, the team that brought you a ten run first inning only to lose the game...and guess who blew that save), probably a lot more than you think. After all, Burgos has averaged about a strikeout per inning over the last two seasons, and he did save 18 games for Kansas City which is a feat onto itself.

He did, however, blow 12 saves, which is a feat on any team. But luckily, Burgos isn't going to be asked to save games, hold games, keep games close, and for his own sake...pinch run. He may not be asked to do much more than be the 2007 version of Jorge Julio to begin with.

And that's...comforting. I think.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winter Wonderland

Many may describe the first day of baseball's 2006 Winter Meetings as relatively uneventful, but they haven't caught many of the nuances of Lake Buena Vista's happenings. If you look closely, there have been many interesting things going on at Disney World.

The crack staff has called in to Metstradamus HQ to report on the goings on at day one.

One of the great things about having the meetings near Orlando is the close proximity to Walt Disney World. But that could also prove a detriment. For example, one of the many people that wear Mickey Mouse costumes has been badgering Jim Duquette all day long taunting him about Scott Kazmir. Police had to be called in to investigate the alleged stalking. Turns out the person in the mouse suit was actually former Devil Rays GM Chuck Lamar, who was inebriated at blood alcohol levels never seen in the state of Florida.

Many have been wondering what has gotten into Jim Hendry and Cubs, who are all of a sudden turning into the biggest spenders in the league. People have wondered whether it has to do with the potential sale of the Cubs by the Tribune company.

My sources, however, have unearthed this exclusive picture of the inside of Hendry's hotel room, where a Tribune employee has apparently made the trip...

albeit unwillingly.

Surely, the Mets hope to be in play at these winter meetings in their quest for lefty Barry Zito. Zito's agent, Scott Boras, has had preliminary talks with our very own Omar Minaya, hopefully regarding Zito.

Boras is a longtime fixture at these much so that his hotel room is the most recognizable in the complex:

People wonder if GM's, owners, and agents are the only ones who attend the meetings. I can now confirm that the answer is no. Many players make the trip to the various warm weather locales that host these meetings. I can confirm that Manny Ramirez has been spotted in the lobby of the official baseball hotel...handing out flyers of all things (although he would only pass them out to every other person).

The crack staff has obtained an exclusive copy:

The one bit of news that came out of Monday's meetings was Chris Carpenter's contract extension. This of course came as a great relief to the Cardinals brass...but Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa knew it would happen all along because he is a freakin' genius. In fact, the quick end to the negotiations enabled La Russa to sit in the hotel lobby signing copies of his new book:

Here's a passage from the prologue:

"People give Adam Wainwright a lot of credit for having the fortitude to throw his wicked curveball in tight spots during Game 7 of the NLCS. Adam is a good kid, but he's also a rookie. You see, what people need to realize is that the drop that Wainwright was getting wasn't all physical. In fact, that curveball doesn't have half the drop on it if it wasn't for my mind control. C'mon, dear really think his curveball looked like the off-speed stuff created by cheesy special effects in that Rookie Of The Year movie because he's an elite pitcher? No no no. That was me on the bench...willing that curve ball to drop with my mind. You see, only a man of tremendous mental capacity such as myself can do that. I mean, Uri Geller could probably do it too...but could he have known the right game to start Chris Duncan and the right game to start Scott Spiezio? Ha! That's all me, friends. Because you see I...dear a freakin' genius."

I can't wait for the movie.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glavine? Check. Zito?

Thankfully, Tommy G and his agent Gregg Clifton have come to their senses and have returned to Queens for one year and an option for a second.

Tommy's family is just going to have to deal with it. He explored the opportunity for didn't work out. I'm sure the house in Connecticut is nice enough for one more year. They should remember the Christmas adage that "it's the thought that counts".

Oh, and screw you, John Schuerholz. Next time maybe you aren't going to be so quick to write a book. Any Matt Franco secrets you want to share?

Now please, Mr. Minaya, dial up Satan Boras and slap a black uniform on Barry Zito...and we'll have a Merry Christmas.

(Editor's note: Did I just hear Steve Phillips say that George W. Bush would be a candidate to replace Bud Selig as commissioner after Selig retires in 2009? thought he butchered "nuclear", wait'll he takes a stab at "Matsuzaka".)

And, They're Off!

So Barry Zito finally makes an appearance in the off season script, visiting with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

Outside of Zito's 11-1 career record at the home run haven known as Arlington Stadium (actually, it's called something else but I have no idea what it is, and frankly I don't feel like looking it up. Whatever corporation the stadium is named after is just going to have to deal with it...I'm sure they're going to lose sleep over that lost revenue), what could drive Zito to Texas?

Is it the barbecue?

You know what bothers me? It bothers me that everything is being done on Scott Boras' timeline. Used to be that GM's could be aggressive and go after the guys they want right away, just as Joe Torre did with Mike Mussina just hours after the 2000 World Series ended. Now, it's the agents such as Boras who are writing the scripts, and setting the timeline. Omar Minaya, probably in response, smartly is holding back his interest so as not to tip his hand. The fact that it's now December and there has been no chatter linking Barry Zito to the Mets (or to anybody until hours ago), causes me to turn on the shower while still dressed and rock back and forth in the crash position...but Omar's hands are sort of tied in this case, and he's playing it right. He'll get his chance.

And when he does, I suggest that Omar mentions Spanky's BBQ in Times Square during his wooing of Zito, if indeed Barry likes barbecue. They have a pig...on the menu.

A pig...on the menu. Barbecue doesn't get much more authentic than that, my friends.


Wouldn't it be just hilarious if the Mets lost Zito to barbecue, and Tom Glavine to less money?

No it wouldn't. But we're going to find out soon, aren't we? And it provides me a cheap segueway.

Tom Glavine once had a run-in with Joe Beningo of WFAN. Not many people know about it, because Glavine himself didn't make a huge deal out of it. Beningo, during one of his classic Mets rants, railed on Glavine for a number of reasons...including a charge that Glavine wasn't trying.

The next time the two were in the same building, Glavine...from what I understand...pulled Beningo aside and told him that it was OK to berate him for sucking. But he did have an issue with Beningo with saying that Glavine wasn't trying. Beningo understood and that, proverbially, was that. Glavine's handling of the situation was textbook.

It was a textbook that Michael Strahan should read.

Michael Strahan may be the single season "sack king", but his media friendly persona is as phony as his Brett Favre enabled record.

Oh yeah, he's great with the media when it's his weekly appearance on "Best Damn Sports Show" where can he show off that those pearly whites that Moses parted...or when he does his regular WFAN spot that he's likely compensated for monetarily (as Paul Lo Duca was with his spot), where he finds it necessary to throw Plaque-sico Burress under the team bus. But when it comes to the lunchpailers like Kelly Naqi (who's about the size of a Michael Strahan Scooby Snack) merely asking the questions she's supposed to ask, then it's time to put the Lincoln Tunnel Smile on the shelf and let loose on the media and lecture them on how to do their job. (It's also not the first time this so called "leader" has let loose on the lunchpailer media.) Yup, that's a leader for you.

So Glavine, a class act in his time here to this point, might leave...yet New York is stuck with Strahan. Aren't we lucky. (Editor's note: For once, we are lucky.)


Allow me to ask a totally unrelated question.

When the Chicago Bulls hit the 100-point mark against the Knicks on Tuesday, and everyone who attended the game got a free Big Mac, does that mean Stephon Marbury gets one too?

Well, he helped.