Friday, November 07, 2008

It's A Major Award

Yes, I won a major award. But more on that later.

First off, it's time to bring some good feeling back to this blog. Too much negativity. Probably my fault. All right, I'll make it up to you:

With the holidays coming up, the most positive thing that you can do is to give to your favorite charity ... or perhaps, give to the favorite charity of your favorite announcers. So go get a t-shirt from Gary, Keith and Ron's website. And how about this: Enter the super secret code before November 28th, and get 10% off. Sounds good? Don't say I don't do anything for you.

Well actually, I still haven't done anything for you ... especially since I never gave you the secret code.

(Psst: BLOGGER ... pass it on.)


Oh, here's Part II of the Gabrielle Schoeneweis interview. Part III coming soon.


Oh, about that major award, I was recently presented with this:

It means I write well, I guess. But all appreciation to the presenter of this award to me. It was unexpected, and I'm not sure I deserve it. But it's appreciated much the same. Thanks!

The good news is that I get to pass it on to five more deserving blogs. The bad news is that I could only choose five. So don't scream at me for not choosing you or this newfound blog positivity is going to end quick. If I could give out awards to everyone, I would. Because I love you all ... seriously.

Here goes:

  1. Faith and Fear in Flushing: Because they constantly come up with things that I wish I came up with.
  2. Toasted Joe: Because he won't rest until Aaron Heilman is pitching for a club team in Siberia.
  3. Mets Walkoffs: Because the minutiae never stops.
  4. A tie: Nice Level Swing, My Summer Family, Archie Bunker's Army, and Brooklyn Met Fan: Because I'm incapable of making a decision. Deal with it.
  5. Jer's Steak House: Because I need to show a little versatility in my life. That and this guy is just plain smarter than me by like three miles. Probably smarter than you too. Just accept it.

You've been officially awarded. Now pass the love along to five of your favorites (or eight or nine if you can't make a decision like me). And oh yeah ... link to me, and link to the Scholastic Scribble guys. Those are the rules. If you don't follow the rules, the mogwai becomes a gremlin ... or something like that.

And buy a t-shirt.

1 comment:

Ari Berkowitz said...

Here it is Metstradamous:

Uprooting Omar Minaya...I Mean Building The Mets

The Mets failed to make it to the playoffs this year for the second straight year. This means there's a flaw in the Mets scheme. Whether it's the front office, the coaching staff or the personnel there's a problem that has to be fixed. Even though Omar Minaya has made strides as the top gun for the Mets(the CEO, COO and President are all owners) he still hasn't delivered his side of the deal with the fans. It's true that he's ushered in a new era of winning in the Mets organization and it's true that he's maintained Wilpon's level of competition. When the Mets hired Omar, Mr. Wilpon said that the Mets should now be playing meaningful games in September, and has he ever been more correct. It just doesn't make sense to me why an owner would say that he hopes for his team to play meaningful games in September instead of saying that he hopes for his team to be PLAYING in October period. Also, under Minaya's watchful eye the team has started their own cable network, and last but maybe most importantly the team's new stadium is being built right now. From a business standpoint his tenure has been a success, the Mets have made tons of money and the Mets are in competition every year. The one problem is, baseball is unlike other businesses because the only real accomplishment in baseball is winning the World Series and I'm pretty sure the Mets haven't won one since 1986. My point is he still could've been doing better than he is, but with Wilpon doing his best impression of Steinbrenner this wasn't going to be an easy task. Instead Omar opted to build a playoff contender the easy way but the insufficient way, by signing free agents.

So my idea is to hire a player development overseer. Who takes care of all minor league operations and runs the amateur scouting department. I have a feeling that this job would be perfect for Terry Ryan. He stepped down as the Twins GM before this season because he claimed that he had lost a step and did not want to hamper the Twins. He would be coming back to his career roots for he started his career as an executive by scouting for the Mets way back in 1980. He had been a GM in Minnesota for 14 years before stepping down and I'm sure he at least misses it just a tad. Ryan's specialty is building excellent, cheap teams through the farm system. Also, Ryan's top assistant from his days in Minnesota, Wayne Krivsky, was brought on as some kind of scouting adviser right after the Reds relieved him of his general managing duties. So now the Mets can afford to let Tony Bernazard go because Terry Ryan is essentially taking his job but just with a better title(Overseer of Minor Leagues). I would suggest the Mets clear the cupboard and fire all of Omar Minaya's assistants starting with Bernazard. I would then promote Krivsky to Director of Scouting and would hire Chuck LaMar(the old Devil Rays GM) as Senior Vice President/Director of the Amateur(Rule 4) and Rule 5 Drafts. He is very qualified because A)he worked under John Schierholz for a while, b)he was a GM. c)He just won the World Series as an assistant with the Phillies and d)he is terrific at drafting players. If you look at his drafts from his time with the D___l Rays he drafted so many high risk high reward players(Josh Hamilton) throughout the draft. In the middle rounds of the draft he was especially good picking Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael A. Pelfrey to name a few. His draft philosophy is to take as many risks on highly athletic, 5-tool players you can and hope for them to develop into stars(B.J. Upton).

Now by letting Omar Minaya keep his job, you allow Omar to redeem himself and if he succeeds he would then be in line for a promotion to President. I think he'll excel now that he has additional help and can now focus on who's going to be on the 2009 Mets instead of the 2013 Mets. Also, I believe he'll succeed because he's now feeling the pressure for he is surrounded by three former GMs. Moreover, this means that if Omar falters he'd be gone before you could say "Hey Omar". Everything that I'm about to write cannot happen because all of the coaching decisions have already been made. Therefore this is just my opinion of who should've gotten these jobs. Cleaning up the coaching staff and hiring a new field manager is a little simpler. Hire John Farrell as your Manager and promote first base coach Ken Oberkfell to bench coach and fire Sandy Alomar Sr.(period) Oberkfell will act more like an Assistant Manager and will help out with the managing. He has more experience(AAA) than Farrell does and Farrell(along with Dan Warthen) will have to deal with the pitching staff for the first few months of his rein. Howard Johnson(hitting coach), Dan Warthen(pitching coach) and Luis Aguayo(3B coach) should all be brought back. Or you could just hire a Shiny Razor to coach 3B. Tim Teufel, the current manager in High A(Port St. Lucie), should be promoted to coach first base for the Mets. He has been outstanding in that role and has a great influence on the younger players.

Part I - Talent Evaluation
Now onto the personnel. The Mets were one of the top five best teams in the MLB last year and missed the playoffs. There is two problems with that. First, the Mets missed the playoffs last year and second, the Mets should've made the playoffs and didn't. The chances of the Mets missing the playoffs in both '07 and '08 were less then 2% but somehow the Mets managed to pull it off. The Mets sole issue last year was their bullpen, but in order to prevent another collapse the Mets should find it in their best interest to shore up all their other holes and problems. This does not mean using up all your money on signing Mark Teixeira and C.C. "Hefty Lefty" Sabathia to whopping contracts, it means investing time and resources to find the optimal solution to each of their problems.

Here I've identified the areas of need for the Mets and possible solutions, internal and external. Here it is:
1)Bullpen-internal:Eddie Kunz, Carlos Muniz, Bobby Parnell, Willie Collazo; free agents:Juan Cruz, Trevor Hoffman, Eric Gagne; trades:Huston Street, Bobby Jenks, Frank Francisco, *Joel Hanrahan, *David Aardsma, Chad Cordero(recovering from a difficult arm injury/surgery)
2)RF/LF-internal:Ryan Church, Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy, Fernando Martinez; free agents:Bobby Abreu(A), Milton Bradley(injury prone), Rocco Baldelli, Juan Rivera; trades:Travis Buck, Brandon Boggs, Brian Barton
3)Starters 4/5-internal:Jon Niese, Aaron Heilman(I believe he'd be good in his return to Starting), Bobby Parnell; free agents:Brad Penny, Mark Mulder, Mark Prior, Horacio Ramirez; trades:Jason Hammel, J.P. Howell(was a starter in the minors), Sean Marshall, **
4)2B-internal:Daniel Murphy, Argenis Reyes, Luis Castillo; free agents:Orlando Hudson
5)Backup/Starting 1B-internal:Mike Carp, Val Pascucci, Chris Aguila; free agents: Jason Giambi, Hank Blalock, Eric Hinske
6)RH PowerHitter off Bench-internal:Val Pascucci, Chris Aguila; free agents:Kevin Mench, Greg Norton
7)Utility-internal:Argenis Reyes; free agents:Alex Cora, Craig Counsell
8)Depth-Although at the bottom of the list this is probably the most important area of need the Mets have. The main quagmire that killed the Mets was that they weren't able to cover up their uncertainties even the slightest bit because they had no depth last years. Thus the Mets should stockpile cheap pitchers with good stuff and stick them in AAA if they don't make the team out of the spring. This way if a starter or a reliever goes down with an injury or are ineffective or tired one of these players can immediately come up and replace him. The same should be done with position players but more importantly with the pitchers.

The aforementioned paragraph talked about the Mets needs and player targets while the next paragraph will talk about the players the Mets should rid themselves of:
Duaner Sanchez(non-tender, if he'd sign a minor league deal I'd resign him), Scott Schoeneweis(trade), Luis Castillo(trade), Marlon Anderson(release) and Carlos Delgado if he'd bring back something decent in a trade. Now onto the major offseason plans. We are now officially ready for the offseason because we've successfully resolved the Mets front office complications, hired a new coaching staff and prepped ourselves for many player acquisitions.

Part II - Impending Free Agents
Oliver Perez, Pedro Martinez, Luis Ayala, El Injuryque, Damion Easley, Matt Wise, Moises Alou and Fernando Tatis are all free agents. I would not be willing to resign any of these players back for the apparent reasons(they stink). Tatis is going to suffer from regressing to the mean because he's clearly not the player he was last year career wise. Everyone else is either awful or injury prone except for OP. Oliver Perez is interesting because all Mets fans will of course want to resign him but New Yorkers tend to forget too easily when it comes to sports(who one the Super Bowl last year?). They remember Ollie defeating the Yankees and Phillies in crucial games last year. They don't remember that Oliver Perez had a 5.58 ERA in May and nearly had the same amount of walks as he did strikeouts(24/20), while letting up 8 homers. Following up that terrific performance Perez posted a 5.28 ERA in June and let up 7 homers. Then in the last month of the season Perez posted an ERA of 5.79, to help the Mets into the playoffs(what did I say about New Yorkers?). Mets fans have to realize that Perez's pitching is as inconsistent as the Knicks. Since Perez is going to command a mega contract around 5y/$75MM(Scott Boras is his agent) he isn't worth it. The Mets should offer him arbitration so when another team obliges to these preposterous demands the Mets will then collect two draft picks. So while the Mets are shaving around $32.7MM(after raises and losses not including arbitration raises) they're also collecting 2 drafts picks.

Part III - Acquiring The Wright Personnel
The Mets have many holes that need to be filled so I chose the optimal options for each and every hole the Mets have using the list of players above.
C: Brian Schneider and Ramon Castro should platoon again in 2009. I liked this platoon a lot because they are almost complete opposites, Castro's an offensive minded catcher and Schneider's one of the best with the glove. I believe giving Schneider another year to work with the Mets pitching staff would be an excellent idea. He works very well with young pitchers which the Mets now have in Jonathan Niese, Eddie Kunz, Robert Parnell and quite a few more good pitching prospects. Castro can also handle a pitching staff too and also is a fantastic, above average hitting catcher. If this LH/RH platoon manages to stay healthy it should be a good one for the Mets in 2009.
1B: The Mets should stick with Carlos Delgado at first base unless they get blown away with an offer. If he falters the Mets now have the personnel to replace him(Evans, Carp, Murphy, Pascucci) and if he continues his success the Mets will be solid at 1B.
2B: Daniel Murphy all the way. He'll pick up all of Castillo's offense with no problems and will probably also make up for the slight hitting discrepancy behind the dish.
3B: David Wright. I think that's the only thing I have to say, David Wright
SS: The same goes for Jose Reyes
LF: Nick Evans should at least win the RH side of the platoon in LF out of spring training if not the full time job. I believe the Mets should acquire Travis Buck the A's left handed hitting outfielder. He won't cost much because he had a brutal year this past season and the influx of a ton of top outfield prospects into the Athletics farm system(Carlos Gonzalez, Aaron Cunningham, Matt Murton, Ryan Sweeney, Eric Patterson, Matt Spencer and Chris Denorfia)should all but push Buck out the door. Since most of the A's top prospects are big league ready they now have no room for Travis Buck in their jam-packed outfield. He's an above average fielder, he gets on base and by playing against righties only his stats will be pretty inflated but very high.
CF: Carlos Beltran
RF: I would let Ryan Church, Val Pascucci and Chris Aguila vie for the rightfield starting job which might also end up as a platoon. Church can at least platoon in right field this season, I hope. I strongly believe Ryan Church will return healthy and improved and hopefully turn in a good season as the Mets starting rightfielder. If not and he truly cannot play baseball anymore in a bearable manner hopefully both of Travis Buck and Nick Evans step up and cause the platoon to be split into two.
C: Like I mentioned before Ramon Castro and Brian Schneider should be platooning and in that case each one is the other's backup on the nights their not playing.
IF: Alex Cora. When he's called on he performs and he plays a good role in the clubhouse. He's also extremely versatile and has one a World Series title. When Murphy will need a break against LHP's Cora will fill in. Cora can also spell Wright and Reyes.
OF: Angel Pagan and Endy Chavez could battle it out for the speedy and plus defensive outfielder job.
Power-Hitting 1B/OF: I would let Pascucci, Aguila and Kevin Mench(minor league deal/invitation to spring training) compete for the 23rd spot on the roster and provide power off the bench.
OF: The other half of the Nick Evans/Travis Buck platoon sits in this spot.

SP1: Who do you think it is? Pedro? Johan Santana of course!(say with hispanic accent)
SP2: This should be John Maine's spot but in crucial parts of the year he didn't play up to his potential and at the most crucial time, September, he got injured. I still believe he'll enter the year as the Mets number 2 though.
SP3: Expect a similar thing to what happened to Maine last year to happen to Mike Pelfrey this year. Remember that if you throw more than 30 IP than the year before you are a serious injury/ineffectiveness risk. Pelfrey in 2007 threw 152 2/3 IP(minors and majors combined) and this year threw 200 2/3 IP, an increase of 48 innings. It's true that Pelfrey is a big fellow and was/is capable of carrying this type of workload as the Mets number two starter this year, but he's still an injury/ineffectiveness risk for next season.
SP4/5: I am combining these two positions because a)there really isn't a need for a 5th starter
and b)the Mets should have an open competition for these two spots and have the two best start the season as the 4 and 5. So this is really one competition with two victors and not two separate competitions. I would sign Brad Penny and have him compete and be the frontrunner for the 4th starter spot and prove to the Mets that he's healthy enough to be effective. Last year he got really unlucky with the homerun ball having a whopping 13.4% HR/FB rate which is 4.4% above his career rate so that means it'll deflate this year. Up to June Penny's always great but after June he's been downright awful. In 2006 he had a 2.32, a 3.51 and a 3.05 ERA in each of April, May and June, followed by a 6.00, a 5.14 and a 6.83 in July, August and September. In 2007 he was the best first half pitcher in baseball throwing 1.95, 2.15 and 1.90 ERA's in April, May and June but followed that up with an atrocious 2nd half yet again posting ERA's of 4.91, 4.00 and 3.90 to finish the season. So the Mets should trade Penny on July 1st while he has max value, for a good young pitching prospect, and hand the job over to one of the losers of the last starting spot. If Penny's ineffective from the get go the Mets should just let him go[sign him to a contract with a clause that lets him become a free agent again after Spring Training if either a)he wants to become a free agent again after winning a roster spot with the Mets while getting no money from the Mets or b)if he loses the 4/5th starter battle the Mets would have to pay him $1MM to become a free agent]. The other candidates would be Jonathan Niese, Aaron Heilman, Robert Parnell and Jason Vargas(Just let up his first run in the AFL). I would also trade for David Aardsma because he has a superb fastball and will come cheaply. He's worth the gamble because he has excellent stuff, he probably won't win the starting job but he'll try out for a bullpen spot. If he loses out on the bullpen spot he could always be DFA'd and would then join an already excellent AAA staff. I would also sign Horacio Ramirez to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. This gives the Mets something they didn't have last year, pitching depth. Whether it'll be having all 5 starters healthy, whether it be having a few starters in their bullpen, or even having former MLB starters on their AAA pitching staff.
CL: As I said before, you do not have to be a proven closer to be a major league closer, just look at David Price. The mannerisms you do need is a positive attitude, resiliency and swagger. You need these attributes to be able to give it your best one night while blowing a save and still be able to come back the next night and dominate a better team. You do not need experience to close it's a load of BS(Blown Saves). So signing Trevor Hoffman to mentor Eddie Kunz, Joe Smith and Robert Parnell doesn't look like such a good move now that I've mentioned all this. But the point of signing Hoffman is not to close, rather to help these young players gain these attributes because younger players are sometimes lacking in these areas. Hoffman will probably be able to hold the fort until midseason while then probably succumbing to injury or ineffectiveness due to his age. This is irrelevant because he'd have already completed his task in teaching the young ones the ways of the closer.
6-8th Inning: Eddie Kunz, Robert Parnell and Joe Smith will battle for the top spot and each of them will almost certainly win a roster spot. This is good news for the Mets because this young trio of relievers are all very unique and different than the other. Eddie Kunz has been a closer since his sophomore year in college and has thrived in that role. He throws his 4-seam fastball at 94-96 MPH, a hard sinker at 91-93 MPH and a great slider at 89 MPH. The only concern with Kunz are his struggles verses lefties because lefties kill right-handed pitcher's sliders. Robert Parnell has been a starter his whole professional baseball career but for lack of a breaking ball should be moved into the pen. He throws a fastball that tops out at 97 MPH and a slider that needs work but could be good in a little while along with a changeup which is nothing to write home about. Joe Smith is a submariner who has a wicked delivery and a nasty repertoire of a biting 4-seamer, a snapping 2-seamer, a looping slider and a deceiving changeup. As you can surely tell all these pitchers are extremely different.
Lefty Specialists: The Mets should start the season with two left handed relievers in their bullpen. They have to choose two of: Pedro Feliciano, Jason Vargas(not Claudio), Willie Collazo and Adam Bostick. Feliciano was misused last year by both Jerry and Willie because of the fact that he can face both left-handed batters and right-handed ones(unlike another lefty reliever we're all familiar with, cough...Schoeneweis...cough) but last year only pitched against lefty batters. Vargas, Collazo and Bostick are all starters but I believe they aren't good enough to be starters in the majors and should therefore relieve instead. Vargas is currently dominating the AFL after successfully recovering from knee surgery which caused him to miss most of last season. Collazo is a minor league veteran and has a similar arm slot to Feliciano's. All these pitchers fair pretty well against righties, so no need to worry if your manager is an idiot and leaves your lefty specialist in the game to face a right-handed batter in the most important game in the season.
Long Reliever: This job belongs to Brian Stokes although he may be challenged by Horacio Ramirez, Stokes should win the struggle and become this team's long reliever. By midseason however Trevor Hoffman should be out of the picture and Horacio Ramirez would then be pushed up to the major leagues and have his own bullpen role. Brian Stokes would probably shift to middle reliever/6th inning guy. This is a vital role and Stokes is perfect for it because of his hard fastball, 94-96 MPH, and his diving slider which gets excellent rotation, movement and speed.
Depth: Arguably the most important area of all, the Mets will have an excellent rotation in Buffalo(AAA) to help out if something goes wrong in Flushing. Led by Jonathan Niese the rotation will feature Tobi Stoner(Mets pitching prospect), Horacio Ramirez, David Aardsma, Willie Collazo and Adam Bostick(swingman). They will also have a pretty good bullpen with Carlos Muniz and Ricardo Rincon leading the pack.

Part IV - Transactions
I have the Mets making a number of transactions in the offseason but mostly tinkering and no big deals(i.e. Jake Peavy, Mark Teixeira or Brett Favre). In most offseason preps(mine of course isn't a prep it's what a smart GM would do) the writers have the Mets signing big name free agents, this of course is idiotic. I have Duaner Sanchez and Ruben Tejada(a 19 year old SS in high A) going to the A's in the aforementioned Travis Buck trade. The Signing of Brad Penny to a one year $6MM deal with incentives and an opt-out clause. Also picking up Horacio Ramirez, Kevin Mench and Chad Cordero from the scrap heap and signing them to minor league deals with invitations to spring in St. Lucie. The Mets will be filling their veteran utility role by signing Alex Cora to a one year $2.5MM deal with an evergreen clause that vests with 200 at-bats for $2MM in 2010 . And the Mets would acquiring David Aardsma who should cost next to nothing. The biggest move is signing Trevor Hoffman to a one year $6MM contract with a club option for a second year at $5MM. Luis Castillo and Scott Schoeneweis should be shipped out of town for anything short of a sack of baseballs. After June the Mets should trade Brad Penny for a top pitching prospect. This would then allow for the callup of the highly touted Jon Niese. They should also look to trade Delgado at the halfway point if Mike Carp is ready to take over or if Nick Evans has outgrown his platoon in LF. Pedro Feliciano could also be shipped off if one of Collazo, Bostick outperform AAA and are ready for a callup as well.

Part V - Conclusion
The Mets will be able to survive injuries this year unlike last year, if they'd go with this blueprint. The worst case scenario, I believe is Ryan Church being done, Delgado being finished, Hoffman getting injured in the first week of Spring Training, Pelfrey declining, Penny getting injured and the bullpen not growing because of missing Hoffman. If all this happens they could get move one of Chris Aguila, Val Pascucci, Travis Buck and Fernando Martinez to RF. One of Mike Carp, Pascucci and Nick Evans would replace Delgado at 1B. They could replace Pelf with Jon Niese, they could replace Penny with Ramirez or Aardsma. With many useful pieces aligned at AAA they could easily revamp their bullpen with fresh arms. But seriously what are the chances of all that happening in 2009 to the Mets? I mean the Mets aren't that unlucky, are they? As you can see all these question marks have apropos solutions and therefore this plan is as flawless as can be. I can imagine the bullpen having a bounce back year in 2009 with all their new arms and lots of talented young pitchers with a mentor in Hoffman. This team has not only improved but has also lowered their payroll, has gotten younger and healthier, added lots of depth and hasn't taken anything away from the farm system to make this grand plan work. Their only problem is not having a spot for Niese but I believe this problem will work itself out. So Mets fans look for Omar to sign Derek Lowe and Brian Fuentes each to 4 year deals paying them an excess of $90MM over the lifespan of their contracts. Or totally ruin his nicely built up farm system to get Matt Holliday(who is average outside Coors) or Jake Peavy who just isn't worth it. I just hope Minaya will wise up and make sure the Mets don't lose on the last day of the season again because then something really bad could happen. Sorry Mets fans for bringing you guys back down to earth, I also wish I was the Mets GM.