Sunday, May 01, 2005

A Call for Arms:

With a name like "Metstradamus", you think I would be all into predicting the future and what not.

Well you are very perceptive, oh wise reader.

So the situation is this: Mets starters are dropping like flies. Met relievers are as dependable as Shaquille O'Neal at the free throw line. So while the no-waiver trade deadline is a full three months away, it's never two early to predict who the Mets can trade for to help out a suspect staff. Keep in mind that since the Mets are built from the outside in, rather than inside out, it will be tough to find a match for a second or third tier pitcher. But Mike Cameron remains in limbo in the role of trade bait, so something can, and must be done. Probably not until Cameron builds his value back up by taking at bats away from Victor Diaz, but it can be done. Let's look at the candidates:

Ugueth Urbina/Detroit Tigers: This is the name we've heard since the winter. The closer for the world champion 2003 Florida Marlins, Urbina has been relegated to setup man in Detroit behind Troy Percival. The kitties are in a unique position of being in need of a center fielder, but every day that Nook Logan continues to impress is another day that need for a center fielder shrinks. Besides, Urbina will be seen among the media as the successor to Braden Looper if he slides any further than he has. But Urbina has shown that he is a LaTroy Hawkins type...better in the set-up role than as a closer. Ugie made people very nervous during that Marlin run two seasons ago. But as a set-up man this season his stock is dropping, with an 0-2 record, a 4.76 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. It will be a very interesting game of chicken between the Mets and the Cubs if they decide to go after Urbina, and what will be given up for him.

Mike Gonzalez/Pittsburgh Pirates: This was an interesting name that came up in trade rumors. The Bucs lefty who averages more than a strikeout per inning is thought to be the successor to the aged and star crossed Jose Mesa. So it would be a shock if the Pirates were to give him up. However, this is an organization that has shown an unwillingness to pay their stars such as Oliver Perez and Jason Bay, so if you're Omar Minaya, you at least have to ask. Another Bucs lefty, John Grabow, is probably a more affordable (in terms of players to give up) and realistic option.

Mike MacDougal/Kansas City Royals: I throw him in because even though he has struggled mightily in the closers role with the Royals over the last couple of years (whether it be via injury or ineffectiveness), he seems to be the kind of player who Rick Peterson thinks he can fix, a-la Victor Zambrano. MacDougal has one of the most wicked curveball this side of Aaron Sele, and has a delivery that can probably be tinkered with. Peterson has been a help to pitchers like "Rolls" Royce Ring and Aaron Heilman by tinkering with their arm angle, and MacDougal, whose stock is dropping by the minute, can probably come cheap from a team that will struggle to win 50 games this year. Key here: DON'T TRADE YOUR TOP PROSPECT FOR HIM! HEAR THAT MR. WILPON?

Barry Zito/Oakland Athletics: Probably a reach here, but not by much. We know Zito has experienced his greatest success under Peterson's tutelage, and Oakland's rotation is quickly turning into Rich Harden's to lead. But while Zito wouldn't command as much in terms of players, he also wouldn't command as much when he becomes a free agent after this season, and the A's have a club option for his services. The Mets probably do not have the players to go get him, especially when Oakland is on Cameron's limited no-trade clause. Former Met and Zito's teammate Octavio Dotel is another possibility. Dotel hasn't exactly been lights out with Oakland, and the A's are grooming Huston Street to eventually take over the closer's role. We all know how Billy Beane feels about closers so don't be surprised if Dotel returns to Shea as a set-up man.

Tom Gordon/New York Yankees: Don't laugh. After two trades in the last two years, the wall between the Mets and the Yankees in terms of trades has crumbled. With Gordon becoming a human batting practice machine, and the Mets desperate for bullpen help, don't be surprised if Gordon switches boroughs, with the Yankees picking up some of the tab in exchange for the privelage of getting rid of him. Who would you rather have anyway, John Rocker? Thought not.

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