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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Old Money

So what does having your own network, a year of playoff revenue, and the richest naming rights deal in history buy you these days?

Not Tom Glavine, apparently...who still finds it necessary to think about returning to the Atlanta Braves to be with his family for less money, less of a chance to reach 300 victories, and less of a chance to reach the postseason.

Not Chad Bradford...who is apparently on his way to the worst run organization in baseball from an ownership standpoint for a three-year deal.

Hell, it might not even get you Kei Igawa.

Is this what we are reduced to these days? Kei Igawa?

It's getting ridiculous out there folks. You've got all of these wannabes paying out this funny money to pitchers like Adam Eaton for eight million dollars a year, which is one million more than the amount of victories he had in '06.

Or how about Danys Baez, who's going to get six million dollars a year to be a set up man?

The Mets? In this era of insane prices for pitching, not only have they been watching the parade of crazy go by so far, but they could actually lose a pitcher for the lure of less money (why must the Gods of Irony torture me?) Meanwhile, team Wilpon has all this money stashed behind the concession stands in the upper deck waiting to be spent, yet there's no word of Omar Minaya sitting down to a traditional California thanksgiving meal consisting of Greek spinach pie and malt liquor flavored cous cous with Barry Zito.

At this rate, they're going to have to bring back Turanga Leela (who ironically pitched with Kei Igawa in winter ball).

Oh, I forgot, there's the forty-year old outfielder that'll no doubt need doggy steps just to get to the plate by the end of August (if Steve Bartman doesn't bash his knees in first).

But look at the bright side, there's a brand new ballpark on the horizon ready to take in more cash to not spend.

Omar, start the insanity!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It Shocks You

On the heels of Justin Morneau's upset victory for the A.L. MVP award, Derek Jeter made a surprise appearance on the "Mike and the Mad Dog" show, mostly for comfort and support. Unfortunately, an ugly episode occurred when a Met fan called in. The crack staff has obtained an exclusive transcript:

Chris Russo: All right Derek let's get to the calls, William from Westchester what's up?

William from Westchester: Hi guys, first time long time.

Mike Francesa: That doesn't impress us. Please direct your question to Mr. Jeter.

WFW: Derek, I know you're broken up over not winning the MVP, but I just wanted to how it feels to be the second best team in town?

Derek Jeter: Shut up! Shut up! Fifty years ago you were at Ebbets Field rooting for the Dodgers where you'd get to the World Series against us every year and we'd shove a proverbial bat up your ass.

WFW: Will you be sending Alex Rodriguez a Christmas card this year?

DJ: You're brave now motherf***er! Hang up on him Mike, he's a MET FAN! He's a MET FAN! He's a MET FAN!

CR: Oh my God.

DJ: Oooooh. Oooooh. Alright. You see? This shocks you.

MF: Yeah, Derek. It shocks you to see what's buried beneath these stupid Met fan motherf***ers!

WFW: That was uncalled for.

DJ: What was uncalled for? It's uncalled for you to sully the same radio space as the real 2006 A.L. MVP by spewing your crap, you cheap Met fan motherf***er!

MF: William, is it too much for you to handle? Derek, they're going to arrest you for calling a caller a Met fan.

WFW: That was uncalled for, you overrated piece of crap!

DJ: You calling me overrated you MET FAN?

WFW: You're not an MVP! That's why you go home early every year and run crying to Mike and the Mad Dog for support! You haven't done anything since 2000! Aaron Boone! That's it!

DJ: Oh, I guess you got me there. Gotta toll on the radio.

WFW: That was uncalled for. That ain't necessary!

MF: Well that's what happens when you interrupt a Yankee, don't you know?

WFW: Uncalled for!

DJ: Well you see, there's those words...those words...

CR: Well, I don't know what to say guys, sorry about that. Let's go to the flash...

Derek Jeter will soon be appearing on The Michael Kay show to apologize.

(Editors disclaimer: This is satire. Derek Jeter is many things, but there is no evidence to suggest that Derek Jeter hates Met fans. William from Westchester does not exist. Any similarities to anybody who lives in Westchester named William is purely coincidental. Mike Francesa would never, ever, curse on the air. And Chris Russo would never be this quiet. Happy Thanksgiving.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Your Grocer's Free Agent Market

Have you ever been to the grocery store, and you're looking for an item in the dairy section, perhaps for that special brand of reduced fat sour cream that you like...and you look and you look and you look and there is only a small handful of that brand left. Then you look at the expiration dates on them, and the date is one day earlier than today.

You could get another brand of sour cream, maybe a brand you don't like quite as much but you know is going to be fresh. You might even walk the extra two blocks to another store to look for fresher sour cream. But then you know, the container does say "best by", which means that while the sour cream may not be at its freshest...may not be at its "best", it could still be pretty good, and go well with your tacos.

Or, it could have fungus and spores and put you in the hospital after you puke the colors of the rainbow.

That, in a nutshell, is how I feel about the Mets potentially signing Moises Alou.

I mean, maybe Alou is stamped with "best by 2004", when he hit 39 HR's and drove in 106 runs with the Cubs (in Wrigley), but he could still be pretty good as he was last season when he hit .301 with 22 HR's and 74 RBI's in only 98 games. But that's the key. He hurt his hamstring when the Mets tried to trade for him late last season, and this is the guy that's going to replace Cliff Floyd because Floyd is injury prone?

It's one thing to bring in older guys in bench roles (and let's face it, Damion Easley is the supermarket equivalent to Twinkies anyway...they aren't going to get stale, but they've got no nutritional value and no place in a main course anyway.) It's quite another to pencil in a forty year old for 500 at bats for a division champ.

Not to mention that signing would ensure the departure of Floyd who, while left handed and while injury prone, was the glue that made the Mets clubhouse a happy this respect making him a latter day Ed Charles. (If you remember, Ed Charles was the wily old veteran who was the old sage of the Miracle Mets of 1969...and his departure was believed to play an underrated part in the Mets failure to repeat. I wasn't born in '69, but you'll just have to take my word for it.)

The 2006 Mets were a tasty meal. Hopefully, the delicious topping isn't due to spoil.


You all remember this, right?

Well, I bet you thought it would be the last time that I would share a mass transit line with a Mets least for the rest of the calendar year.

Yeah, that's what I thought too. However...

The line for the bus after today's 10-0 Jets loss was probably the longest I had ever seen...I was probably further back than I can remember, yet there were about 500-1000 people behind me. I thought I was lucky not to be in the very back, but then I heard a guy near me in line yell out:

"Hey wassup, Ronnie!"

It never occurred to me to look up until the same guy said: "Hey, that's Ron Darling."

Ron Darling? At a Jet game?

And stranger than that: He went to the very back of the longest bus line in Meadowlands history (I assume).

Ron Darling? Taking the bus?

He was too far away from me to say anything to him, but some considered adding an hour to their wait time to move to the back of the line just to hang out with Ron Darling.

Some considered offering their place in line to Darling in exchange for an autograph.

I just wanted to ask him how he got stuck working during the playoffs while Keith Hernandez got the whole damn month off in favor of Todd Zeile and Tim Teufel.

One thing we did notice was that the line hardly moved until "Ronnie" got on his cell phone. Us mere mortals thought it was to avoid the line altogether and order a car (which he should have done in the first place...1986 Mets shouldn't ride buses), but apparently he called Port Authority to complain, because the line moved significantly faster after Darling hung up.
"Hey, can we move his line a little faster here? I'm Ron Darling" -Ron Darling...maybe
Don't mess with Ron Darling.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Stop! The Metaphors Are Making My Head Spin!

I guess the next time Trevor Hoffman enters a game at Petco Park, they'll be Royce Ringing Hell's Heath Bells.

(Excuse me as I dodge rocks and garbage.)

And do you really think it's a good idea, especially on the heels of the Guillermo Mota suspension for performance enhancing, to trade for a guy named Ben Johnson?

(Now dodging gunfire.)

All right all right. Look, here it is: Heath Bell is a 29 year old quadruple A pitcher. There, I said it. He dominates AAA, but is mediocre in the majors. He can do good things but his lack of an effective out pitch gets him rocked more often than not. Royce Ring is the guy that I regret losing. He came up in 2005 and displayed a very effective curveball. He struck out Ichiro Suzuki, struck out Eric Chavez, and got squeezed on a ball four call to Bobby Kielty which led to a loss in Oakland. He has a's just not at Shea (or CitiField, for that matter.)

Ben Johnson (not the disgraced track star) will be a help off the bench with his pop and his versatility in the outfield. He'll probably wind up platooning with Endy (come on, is a last name really necessary at this point) and Shawn Green in the corner outfield positions, and it will show the world that you don't need to be at the level of genius that Tony La Russa is at to platoon three outfielders in two spots.

And when the lefties are starting, it gives Randolph another right handed option other than Julio Franco (baseball's Vinny Testaverde...or is Vinny Testaverde football's Julio Franco?) Admit it, you cringed every time Julio strode to the plate in a late inning with runners on first and second. Every time Franco came to the plate, you ran downstairs to the stationary store to play Lotto number 643, didn't you? Oh, come on. You know you did. Well now, sweet child, there's hope. There's hope for a new tomorrow.

As for Adkins? I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I know a lot about him. But why are there little birds telling me that long as Chad Bradford is re-signed (let it be so) going to wind up greasing the skids for Aaron Heilman to hit the bricks out of town?

So while Metstradamus will miss Ring's ability to scale the right field wall and rob batters of batting practice home runs, along with Heath Bell's dog Slider, I have to say that this deal is "Adkins approved".

(Now THAT...was bad.)

And The Bret Boone Award Goes To...

If Rocky can have five sequels, then I guess we can get ready for "Ordonez II: No Stick".

Trying to regain his fielding touch by fielding fish at Pike Place Fish Market Inc., Ordonez will attempt to comeback to the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners this coming spring on a minor league contract.

When asked why he hasn't played in two full seasons, Ordonez said: "Why don't I play baseball? Because it's hard, right? It's hard."

Ordonez has already said that Mariner fans are much smarter than Met fans.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Vote For Loyalty, Is A Vote For Finely Trimmed Facial Hair

"If it's as you say: a tie on all ends, then I'd cast my vote...for loyalty." -Edmund L. Shaff, as GE CEO Jack Welch, in that direct to video movie about Jay Leno and David Letterman that is aired on HBO 58 at 3:30 know the one, the one that had Treat Williams play Michael Ovitz.
It's a line of thinking that this blogger wishes would be taken with, say, Cliff Floyd over Moises Alou...but the Mets cast a vote for loyalty when, instead of Adam Kennedy or Mark Loretta, they brought back Jose Valentin for 2007 on a one year contract.

To understand who Jose Valentin is, and how he got to where he got, it's important to understand where Jose has come from.

Jose was born October 12, 1969 in a small town in Puerto Rico. Even as an infant, he had an easy time sticking out.

Jose's baseball skills made him a popular lad growing up, but he most enjoyed the company given to him by a loving cat named Bigote.

Bigote was a constant source of comfort and inspiration as Jose made his way through the baseball ranks which took him to Milwaukee, Chicago, and Los Angeles, where he suffered a bad knee injury that ended his 2005 season and threatened to end his career. But this twist of cruel fate brought him to Flushing...where Valentin persevered with a bounce back year helping him to become a cult hero among the female sect.

But through it all, Valentin has remained as humble as ever, as he will continue his epic comeback story as the second baseman for the New York Mets, playing for his new inspiration: a young daughter...

Monday, November 13, 2006

The First Casualty

Old friends never die, they just take the Amtrak to Washington.

Of course, we here at Metstradamus would like to wish Manny Acta the very best of luck as the new manager of the Washington Nationals. But the query for the Mets is who to replace Acta with at the third base coaching box.

This would be the perfect time to soothe Howard Johnson's bruised ego over being passed over for the Rockies hitting coach, by bringing him up to be the third base coach for the Mets. Why, you ask? What credentials does HoJo possess to be qualified to wave his arm around in a counter-clockwise windmill motion?

Hell, I don't know.

But here is what I do know: 2007 is an odd numbered year. As you know, odd numbered years are where Howard Johnson does his best work:
  • 1987: .265/36/99
  • 1989: .287/36/101
  • 1991: .259/38/117

Even numbered seasons, however, are a different story:

  • 1988: .230/24/68
  • 1990: .244/23/90
  • 1992: .223/7/43

So for 2007, Howard Johnson is the perfect choice to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first great season by being the third base coach for the Mets. He will no doubt be smart enough to send Jose Reyes home from first on a double to the left center field gap against Johnny Damon's arm.

In 2008 though, Johnson is destined to send Ramon Castro home on a sac fly to short right field against Ichiro, and disappear in the fifth inning to catch one of his son's high school games. Maybe first base would be better for him in even numbered years.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Livin' For The Citi mean to tell me that Jackie Robinson's middle name wasn't "Citigroup"?

I suppose we could have done worse than CitiField. The Mets certainly could have done worse than $20 million a year for the naming fact, every other stadium naming rights contract pays less than the bid that Citigroup has provided.

It's a figure that wouldn't have even paid for half of Daisuke Matsuzaka's posting bid.

But it should pay for one and a half Barry Zitos, no?

It certainly should pay for about three or four Julio Lugos.

Speaking of which, this is why I can't go ape over the latest hot stove rumors...because more often than not, they're wrong. Take into account a phone call I received today...and I'm not going to reveal who it is because it would embarrass this guy to no end (that, and if I told you who it was, you wouldn't believe me anyway so why bother?) But let this be a lesson to all that if you're going to call me, you don't necessarily need to have all of your facts straight...but at least have one fact straight.

Mystery Caller: Hey, I heard the Mets signed Julio Lugo!

Metstradamus: They did?

MC: Yeah.

MD: Where did you hear this?

MC: I heard they signed a second baseman.

MD: And who told you it was Lugo?

MC: Well...I just assumed it was Lugo. There's nobody else out there.

MD: Have you ever heard of Mark Loretta? Maybe, Ray Durham?

MC: Oh.

MD: But they signed a second baseman?

MC: Well, they're interested in a second baseman.

MD: (exasperated) That doesn't mean they freakin' signed one!!!!

MC: Oh, well I gotta go.

I obviously have acquaintances that live in alternate universes. Some have accused me of living in one of those alternate universes...don't I wish. Hey, if I had an alternate universe at my disposal, Adam Wainwright's curveball would have ended up in the right field bullpen.

Of course, I tooled the internet, and no Julio Lugo. It's just as well, because as I've said before: I don't completely trust a second baseman who can be repositioned defensively by a stiff wind.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Full Steam Ahead

Doc Gooden was released from prison today after serving seven months of a one year plus one day sentence.

This is good news, as the Mets can now forge ahead with their plans for their blowout celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1987 Mets, who missed the playoffs. The plan is to have Gooden show up at the celebration around the third inning, just as he showed up two months late to the 1987 season.

It's the first bit of good news for the Mets regarding the ceremony, as Gene Walter has threatened not to show up due to money issues, Kevin McReynolds has a previous engagement hunting a duck in Arkansas, and team officials are trying to convince Don Schulze that he indeed pitched for the Mets in 1987.

Todd Zeile will fill in for Keith Hernandez during the ceremony, as SNY has already given Hernandez the day off to stay home and drink wine.

Just as the 1986 celebration included some fun and surprises, the 1987 celebration promises to be suspenseful as well. The Mets plan to recreate the Al Pedrique for Bill Almon trade two minutes into the ceremony, as Pedrique will be ushered out of Shea Stadium through the crowd...which is a nice touch. Keith Miller will be honored while standing in the upper deck, continuing the tradition of placing Miller out of position. And Ron Darling will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, which will be bunted down the first base line by Vince Coleman...recreating the play where Darling tore up the ligaments in his thumb in the infamous "Terry Pendelton Game".

Plenty of great seats are still available.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Phone Seduction

(We start our story in the middle of a recent phone conversation between Mets GM Omar Minaya, and Mets blogger Metstradamus):

MD: yeah, that's why I think Lastings Milledge for Mark Buehrle is the way to go.
OM: Are you kidding me? I'd be carried out of town after being set on fire in my own feces. How do I explain that one to my wife? (Omar's cell phone beeps.) Oh, hold on Metstradamus, I have another call. (clicks over). Hello?
SS: Omar? Omar is that you?
OM: Yeah, it's Omar.
SS: Omar it's me, Sam.
OM: Sam? Is that really you? I thought you were dead.
SS: No, that was just my career. But I'm coming back.
OM: Sam, that's crazy talk!
SS: No really. I think I want to do it. I have my passion back and I have my groove back! I'm ready to go.
OM: Well good for you.
SS: You know Omar, we should sit down and talk sometime.
OM: Yeah we should have din...wait a minute. Do you mean what I think you mean?
SS: You know it baby! You've wanted me in the past. And you need an outfielder.
OM: Oh Sam, I don't know. I mean, it's tempting, but I'm not sure man.
SS: Come on Omar. This is Sammy you're talking to.
OM: I'm just not sure it's the best idea. The press would crucify me if I signed you. Not to mention the bloggers...oh crap, I'm on the other line. Hold on! (clicks over) Hey, Metstradamus, you still there?
MD: Yeah man. Was that Scott Boras?
OM: No no no. Listen, I have to let you go.
MD: Is it Ken Williams?
OM: No...I mean, I just have to go. I'll, to you later.
MD: Omar, you sound shaken. Are you all right?
OM: Oh, uh...yeah yeah. I'm fine. I just...
MD: Omar, who's on the other line?
OM: Um, it's official business. I have to go.
MD: Omar, is there something you're not telling me?
OM: Hold on one second.

(Omar puts Metstradamus on hold again. Then after a long pause...)

OM: Sammy, I can't do this.
SS: Come on Omar. You can have a 600th HR and a 300th victory on the same night! Think about it.
OM: Sammy, if it's late July, and you only have 12 home runs, I'll shoot myself!
SS: But Omar, I'm in shape!
OM: You know, Guillermo Mota told me the same thing after I traded for him and look what happened.
SS: No man, I don't do that stuff. Those were Flintstones vitamins I took. I've never been caught.
OM: Sammy, how am I supposed to know that after a season playing with Rafael Palmeiro that he hasn't given you one of those B-12 shots along the way?
SS: Man, you appear at one congressional hearing and you get labeled. C'mon Omar, what's a little guilt by association among friends?
OM: Of all the phone numbers of all the GM's in all the baseball leagues...why'd you have to dial mine?
SS: Because my 588 home runs seduce you.
OM: Sam...
SS: My relative inexpensiveness seduces you.
OM: Don't do this.
SS: You know you want it, Omar. You want this.
OM: Damn you Sam. What am I going to tell Moises?
SS: Oh Omar...Moises pees on his hands. Do you really think he'll notice if you don't return a phone call?
OM: Yes of course he'll...wait a minute. That doesn't even make any sense! Have those Flintstones chewables gone to your head?
SS: C'mon Omar. Let's make this happen.
OM: Sam, let me get back to you. And don't pee in any cups before I call you. Is that understood?
SS: Can I pee on my hands?
OM: I gotta go. (Clicks back). All right Metstradamus. Where were we?
MD: We were talking about my trade idea.
OM: Oh right, the one that's going to get me fired. Next you're gonna say I should sign Sammy Sosa or something...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Results Are In

And it seems that I've been sentenced to death for my actions.

Please know I never meant to hurt you with my trade proposal.

It's OK, because with my months of service, the call of reprieve from the governor will come at any time.

Oh damn, it's an election year? I guess I'm as good as dead.

My last request is simple: Please don't shoot me in the face so I can have an open casket.

Milledge for Crawford anyone? Anyone? I can change, dammit! Really!!! I can chaaaaaaaannge!!!!!!!!

Let The Healing Begin: Part Two

And yes, we need another round of healing after today's transpirations.

When we last left our season preview, we were buried in names on the free agent market (Zito, Soriano, Spiezio, something else-o), but you know that the Mets are going to be prudent in their approach to this season and not necessarily dive into the free agent market. Hence, there will more than likely be a trade. And I know what it should be.

Except that after Guillermo Mota's 50 game suspension for an unidentified substance, my master plan might be buried deep into the Shea Stadium bullpen grounds before it ever gets off the ground.

"To my teammates and the entire Mets organization, I am sorry. I truly regret what I did and hope that you can forgive me. To baseball fans everywhere, I understand that you are disappointed in me, and I don't blame you. I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen. I am determined to prove to you that this was one mistake." -Guillermo Mota, on giving up the game tying triple to Scott, on his drug suspension
After much consideration, I have decided that the show must go on. Even with this latest development, the trade I have cooked up, while most likely affected greatly, still must happen...especially if all free agent opportunities go bust (mainly because I worked so hard thinking this up that I nearly pulled a brain time to turn back now).

So as promised, the trade so blockbuster, so out of this world, that it gets it's own post.

It's that big.

It's that blockbuster.

It's that stupid.


Padres get: SP Oliver Perez
White Sox get: RP Scott Linebrink, RP/SP Aaron Heilman, and CF Andruw Jones
Braves get: SP Freddy Garcia, and OF Lastings Milledge
Mets get: SP Mark Buehrle, and SP Tadahito Iguchi

Got all that?

Trust me, it's not as confusing as I'm making it out to be. Let's start from the beginning and go step by step:

Let's remember something about Ollie much as Omar Minaya is pumping him up as having a bright future with the Mets, and he still might, don't forget that Minaya might also be pumping him up for a possible trade. We know that Ollie Perez for Scott Linebrink almost happened in July, and that Ollie has made no secret of his recessed desire to play in San Diego. Besides, the Mets are plentiful in fourth and fifth starters, between John Maine, Dave Williams, and Brian Bannister. So let's make this one for one deal right away.

Now, the Mets add Linebrink to a bullpen that includes Billy Wagner, Filthy Sanchez, Guillermo Mota (assuming he re-signs), Chad Bradford (assuming he re-signs as well), and Pedro Feliciano (and let's throw in Juan "The Fly" Padilla, who's coming off of injury just for fun). Mighty crowded 'pen, no? So now, the Mets are dealing from as much strength with their bullpen as the White Sox will be from their starting rotation.

And what else do we know about the White Sox other than they're looking to make room for Brandon McCarthy (and eventually, a kid named Lance Broadway)? Well, we know that they have to rebuild their bullpen, which was much better during their World Championship season of 2005 than it was in 2006. For all of the bluster going around about starting pitching, the Mets got to Game 7 of the NLCS with almost no starting pitching, while the White Sox, who went five deep, didn't even make it to October. I would be willing to lay money down that Ken Williams looked at Omar Minaya's plan of building a better bullpen and would like to emulate that plan by dealing from their strength.

On the Mets side, I agree with Joel Sherman. Mota suspension or no Mota suspension, it's time to trade Aaron Heilman.

Aaron Heilman will never hold as much value to the Mets as he does right now. With Filthy poised to take the eighth inning back, and the Mets refusing to put Heilman in the starting rotation, Heilman's value would only go down if he remained in New York since he would be pitching in less important spots. And not only would his value go down, his morale would go down since he wants to start. Aaron Heilman wants his innings to mean more, not less. If he stays, his innings will mean less. So why do that to Heilman when it's clearly in the best interests of the Mets to maximize his value?

Heilman, along with Linebrink, immediately improve the White Sox bullpen ten-fold...if that's how the Sox want to use Heilman. They could also choose to use him to plug Buehrle's vacant spot in the rotation if they wish.

Now I challenge you, the astute baseball fan that you are, to argue to me that it isn't necessary to include Milledge in a deal for Buehrle, who has a team option for 2007 at $9.5 million that the Pale Hose will surely pick up. If you told me that since Buehrle is coming off a down year, and he's admitted to having lower back issues which have only hampered him on off days, that Linebrink and Heilman would be quite enough to get this deal done, I would absolutely believe you. I would believe you because you probably know more than me. Your line of thinking would leave Milledge free to trade (along with Phil Humber) for Carl Crawford. I would be completely on board with that...partly because I've been going back and forth on that subject in my fragile mind.

I just don't think this line of thinking would fly with White Sox GM Kenny Williams.

So this is why I make sure the deal gets done by including Milledge, and getting an answer for second base in return also, provided the White Sox pick up their team option on him as well (for a shade over $3 million).

Those who would argue the other extreme might ask this: Buehrle's a stud. Does Lastings Milledge hold enough value to bring this ace back? The answer is yes for one simple reason: The Mets run the risk of having Buehrle, or Iguchi, or both becoming the next Mike Hampton. With both players on their option season, they could decide that the "school systems" are better in Denver or St. Louis or the Bronx after 2007. So there's decided risk on the Mets part here (unless they work out a long-term deal with Buehrle at the very least, which would be mandatory).

So there you have it. Outside of perhaps some extra minor leaguers to flesh this bad boy out, that's my idea in a nutshell (key word: "nut"). The Mets get their top of the rotation starter who pitches so fast that you can go to a Mets game and be home in time to watch his highlights on Baseball Tonight. The Mets also solve their second base problem as well. (And as for left field, don't forget about Scott Podsednik, who might be non-tendered by the Sox.)

The White Sox have room for McCarthy and Broadway in their rotation, improve their bullpen, and for entertainment purposes only, turn around and trade Freddy Garcia and Lastings Milledge for Andruw Jones and get the Curacao Curator the heck out of the National League East (it's the only incentive for the White Sox to enter into a deal that involves Milledge rather than a starting pitching prospect). The Sox would then probably attempt to fill their hole at second base by pursuing Chone Figgins, possibly by dangling Brian Anderson...who if this deal goes through would be rendered defunct as a White Sock.

The Padres get a starter with upside who wants to be there.

The Braves get a pitcher, and cut payroll at the same time. They also get a young replacement for Andruw Jones. And while it might be difficult to see Lastings Milledge as a Brave, consider that Jones wouldn't be around to murder the Mets anymore, and that the Mets would still have some outfield futures in their lineup such as Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez.

Everybody wins.

Now you may be wondering what happens if Buehrle comes on board, and the Mets also sign Zito. Wouldn't the Mets rotation be a little crowded if Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez return as expected?

Good question. And the answer is "not necessarily". Remember that Petey is gone until June. Also remember that a post-rotator cuff Petey will probably not be at full strength until the start of 2008, when he'll be 36. Although it's certainly possible that Petey has one more great run in him at the age of 36, it would behoove the hierarchy to make any and all moves under the assumption that Pedro Martinez will be a non-entity moving forward.

(Don't be mad at me Petey, I got the term from Macha.)

If Zito and Buehrle are your 1-2 punch, Glavine is three, John Maine is four and Orlando Hernandez is five. Simple, right? And you know as well as I do that there will be opportunities for Mike Pelfrey or Dave Williams or Brian Bannister to get work due to the fact that two of the Mets starters would be pulling forty years old (once you get to the other side, you're no longer pushing're pulling it) and will probably have calf issues.

Even if Petey comes back and is Petey, guess who Orlando Hernandez becomes...very good. He becomes the new Darren Oliver, as Oliver will no doubt look for riches (well deserved riches, I might add) elsewhere.

But most likely, the Mets will get one ace and not two, which would mean that your pitching staff for '07 would look something like this:
  • Zito/Buehrle
  • Glavine
  • Hernandez (Orlando, not Roberto)
  • John Maine
  • Pelfrey/Bannister/Williams/Petey in July
Buehrle's $9 million option plus Iguchi's $3 million and change option adds about $12 million in payroll...but considering that Cliff Floyd's $6.5 million, Kaz Matsui's $8 million, and Steve Trachsel's $2.5 million are gone, the Mets come out of this exchange ahead by a small bit, which allows them to consider adding one big free agent with the money they've made from playoff gates, their new network, and playoff merchandise (much of that provided by yours truly, which I feel gives me a say in where my share goes, thank you very much.) Perhaps Zito, giving them some of the best lefties in the league? Perhaps Soriano, ensuring that the Mets lineup remains as special as it was last season if not more so?

After Mota's suspension (killing any chance that the Mets bring him back), maybe it's imperative to table this trade and put all of their efforts into signing Barry Zito. But remember, there are free agents out there for the bullpen too. None of them are under 30 but hey, there are plenty of good ones out there (think Jamie Walker, Cliff Politte, or Joe Borowski for starters), as opposed to the lack of starters available. And hey, if Milledge is gone, they could bring in Steve Kline for the express purpose of beaning him 19 games a year!

So that, my friends, is my attempt to become part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

Discuss amongst yourselves.