Archive for the ‘News & Notes’ Category

Mets and Oliver Perez are close

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Looks like I made a good assumption last night, huh?  To be honest, ever since the Mets made little movement in their initial offer to Derek Lowe, it looked like they preferred Oliver Perez.  They also seemingly had a set amount of money that they wanted to spend on a starting pitcher: 3 years, $36 million, or around what they paid for K-Rod.  And if they plan on going out and adding a nice power outfield bat from the remaining pool of Manny, Dunn, and Abreu, I’m glad that they were able to get their guy for their dollar amount.  If they don’t, though, then they are basically saying that they feel their only needed improvement this offseason was in the bullpen and that they will be able to finally avoid collapse in 2009 with an improved bullpen, and I’m not so sure that’s the best way to look at this.

I guess I like the signing, though I’m not sure if I’m ready for another three years of Good Ollie/Bad Ollie drama.  The fact is, game to game, month to month, season to season, Oliver Perez is often a completely different pitcher.  You never know which Ollie Perez will be taking the mound, how many innings you’re going to get, whether he has his control or not, whether he can keep the ball in the park.  At times, he is a dominant starting pitcher, a potential ace, but he doesn’t appear to have the makeup to be anything more than rotation filler.  Giving a guy like that three years…I just don’t know.  I would have been pretty content letting Ollie leave, picking up the first round pick for him, and bringing in a guy like Sheets or Lowe, a guy who would be a marked improvement.

I think we are now at a point where Mets fans just aren’t that excited about this season.  The K-Rod and Putz acquisitions were nice, but they feel like so long ago, and while the bullpen should be better than last year, there are still problems with the composition of this team, problems that have not been resolved.  Second base and catcher are still disaster areas.  Ryan Church is still being counted on to start, when his past performance indicates he’s a platoon guy.  The team is hoping to squeeze another miracle out of Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy. 

Signing Oliver Perez is nice, and hopefully we will see more Good Ollie than Bad Ollie this year, but the problem with bringing Ollie back is that it makes the rotation exactly the same as a year ago.  There just feels like an overriding feeling of sameness to the 2009 Mets, and considering that the past two seasons have ended in heartbreak for the Mets, it is hard to get excited simply for an improved bullpen.  I think Mets fans were hoping for a more sweeping change, with a better #2 to back up Johan or an impact bat to help cover for expected declines out of Delgado and the corner outfield platoons.  Other than Johan, Putz, and K-Rod, what has really changed from the team that ended the 2007 season and the team that opens the 2009 season?  This team could use a small shakeup, with a new base around the core, but this team has been loathe to do so, and with what has happened the past two seasons, I am wondering why.

Argenis Reyes and Ambiorix Burgos…gone

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

The Mets failed to tender contracts to Argenis Reyes and Ambiorix Burgos last week, making them free agents.  The result?  The two players I hated watching hit the most in 2008 are both gone (although at least Endy had defensive value; Reyes only had defensive value compared to the other, lousier second basemen the Mets employed).  Reyes made lousy hitters like Robinson Cancel look like David Wright by comparison.  I will miss Burgos, though.  It’s not every day where you lose a total lunatic relief pitcher, one whom had one crazy story after another written about him without having stepped foot on the field in two years.  It’s a shame, really.

Our long national nightmare is over

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Scott Schoeneweis will likely not end the Mets’ season in 2008.  Well, I guess if the Arizona Diamondbacks traded him to the Houston Astros next year sometime, hypothetically it could happen.  But that would seem unlikely.  In two seasons with the Mets, Schoeneweis did little to distinguish himself, not pitching well in either 2007 or 2008.  He could get left-handed hitters out, but that’s it, and on a team that already had about 5 specialists too many last season, one of them was clearly expendable; why not the one that gave up the run that eliminated the Mets from the playoffs?

I shouldn’t be too hard on Schoeneweis; he didn’t belong in the game for that batter (who was right-handed), he was suffering from some real personal trauma with his newborn baby at the time (and of course, I wish him nothing but the best with that), but…I mean, as a Mets fan, you can’t help but be disappointed by the way Schoeneweis pitched.  Plain and simple, he just wasn’t a good pitcher most of the time.  He was marginally better in 2008, but he still wasn’t somebody you felt comfortable with when he was on the mound, particularly if the batter was right-handed.  He won’t be missed, but I still wish him well, particularly on the family front.

In exchange, the Mets got right handed reliever Connor Robertson.  Robertson has been a strikeout pitcher in the minor leagues who, in limited big league innings, hasn’t shown much.  Granted, when I say “limited,” I mean “nine big league innings,” but still.  He’s 27 years old, so he’s not young, but he could turn into a useful reliever at some point.  It does feel like right now, the Mets bullpen is very right-handed, with Feliciano being the only lefty reliever likely to pitch in 2009.  With the Phillies picking up another left-handed bat, you’d think that the Mets might be looking to pick up another lefty reliever at some point, but we will see what happens.

Phillies sign Ibanez, 3 years/$30 million

Friday, December 12th, 2008

I believe the internet term used to describe this would be, “LOL.”  Seriously, I can’t figure out why the Phillies did this.  So they replaced their right-handed, power hitting, walk drawing, poor defensive left fielder for…a left-handed, power hitting, walk-drawing, poor defensive outfielder, only this left fielder hits for less power, draws fewer walks, and might even be worse defensively.  And he’s five years older?  And it replaces the only power righty in their lineup with another left-handed power hitter?  And they signed him until he turns 40?  I wish Mets fans could really, truly laugh out loud at this signing…but the Phillies just won the World Series and we didn’t, so…

Look, I know not everybody loves Pat Burrell, and he has his problems.  He has periods where he is absolutely terrible at the plate, he strikes out a lot, he stinks defensively…I get the problems.  But he draws walks and hits for power from the right side of the plate.  The Mets should get involved here – it really wouldn’t be a bad move for them at all.  It would make Murphy a super-sub for 2009, which might be his best position, and it would make Tatis a pinch hitter/4th outfielder, which also might be his best position.  Sure, the Mets would have to figure out a way to jettison Marlon Anderson, but the team would be better and more interesting.  What’s not to like here?

Mets acquire J.J. Putz

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Four hours ago, I wasn’t sure who the Mets were going to find to set up for Francisco Rodriguez, but I was pretty sure they’d use Aaron Heilman to get him.  Well, I was partially right – the Mets used Aaron Heilman and a cast of thousands to help get their setup man, and his name is J.J. Putz.  Here’s a breakdown of who is going where:

THE METS GET: 

J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, and Sean Green

THE INDIANS GET: 

Joe Smith, Luis Valbuena

THE MARINERS GET:

Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Franklin Guttierez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, Maikel Cleto

Breaking this down…

The Mets essentially replace Aaron Heilman in the setup role with J.J. Putz.  Putz has primarily worked as a closer the past three seasons, racking up 242 strikeouts in 196.3 innings.  This gives the Mets two hard-throwers working the 8th and 9th innings, guys who make the defense irrelevent by racking up strikeouts.  Unlike K-Rod, he doesn’t seem to be all that walk-prone, although he had his issues last year (which could be due to injury). 

But considering how horrible Heilman was in 2008, Putz brings a new look to the 8th innings, and backup in case K-Rod is injured.  This has to be seen as an upgrade for the Mets.  There are risks, mainly regarding Putz’s health, but as long as he’s healthy, it gives the Mets a strong, viable setup man and it helps ease the concerns of Mets fans worried about the bullpen in 2008.  The Mets bullpen has become quite strong tonight thanks to this trade.

I will miss Joe Smith.  I have been a Joe Smith supporter.  But…the difference between Joe Smith and Sean Green isn’t that wide.  They are both essentially the same player; right-handed groundball specialists.  Green is older and hasn’t pitched quite as well as Smith, but will likely be limited to facing exclusively righthanded batters in the 6th or 7th innings.  As far as value, it’s a step down, but not a massive one.

I’m not a huge fan of Endy Chavez.  I hate watching him hit.  I mean…hate, hate, hate watching him hit.  But I’m not sure if I’m down with the Chavez for Reed swap.  When used exclusively as a defensive sub, Chavez has real value.  He’s probably one of the top defensive outfielders in all of baseball.  Reed is good, but not great.  There is a definite defensive downgrade here for the Mets, and considering that the 5th OF is going to play very often, it’s a bit suspect there.

He also isn’t much with the bat.  He had real promise in the minors, but he’s never adapted to major league pitching.  He needs to hit .300 to have any value.  Who knows, maybe HoJo can work wonders, but I liked Chavez when used as a strict defensive replacement.  The thing with Reed is that he does have potential, and if they can figure out how to get him to utilize his abilities, he could wind up being a steal, but for now, he’s a step down.

The Mets traded four minor leaguers in the deal.  Mike Carp has been in the Mets system for a few years.  He showed some promise last year, after struggling in Binghamton the year before, but he was either 3rd or 4th on the Mets’ organizational depth chart at first base (depending on how you feel about “Nasty” Nick Evans) and was expendable.  He’s a good player, but redundant in this organization.

Jason Vargas was acquired two years ago as part of the Matt Lindstrom trade.  He hasn’t pitched great, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him moved to the bullpen in Seattle and for him to do well as a lefty specialist.  It’s too soon to do any real evaluation on Cleto or Carrera, but neither has particularly distinguished themselves in the minors.  Cleto is a hard-thrower, but hasn’t had any success yet.  His strongest value to the Mariners is his youth.  Carrera struggled last year, but is also quite young.

Overall, you have to see the trade as a win for the Mets.  They improved the bullpen again without trading anything of real value to do so.  The Mets now have two lights-out caliber relievers pitching the 8th and 9th, hard-throwing strikeout guys.  Figure the two of them throw about 130-140 innings per season with about 140-160 strikeouts. That’s going to be quite formidable for other teams who used to feast on the Mets in the later innings.  The Mets came into the winter meetings needing to revamp the bullpen and they have done so in dramatic fashion.

Mets sign K-Rod

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

The Mets and Francisco Rodriguez appear to have reached a consensus on a contract, and as long as K-Rod passes a physical, he will be the first offseason acquisition of the New York Mets.  It’s a good move for the Mets, as they managed to keep the contract to 3 years/$37 million, roughly half the dollars K-Rod’s agent was originally asking for and two fewer years.  It’s another offseason victory for the Mets, to go along with the Carlos Beltran contract four years ago and the Johan Santana trade last season.  We will soon see if this offseason victory can help propel them to postseason wins as well.

We here at BlueAndOrange.net had earlier endorsed Brian Fuentes for the role of the Mets closer in 2009.  While we are sad that Fuentes will not wear the colors for which this site is named in 2009, we wish him well in his future endeavors.  We meant K-Rod no ill will; we simply preferred Fuentes.  With K-Rod in the fold, you can bet that this site will support K-Rod to the max.  He’s our guy now.

And there is a lot to like about Francisco Rodriguez.  As his name implies, K-Rod is a strikeout pitcher.  He has never had a season where he threw more innings pitched than strikeouts.  Because he is a power pitcher, he tends to be walk-prone as well, but is capable of having stretches where he is absolutely unhittable.  Another plus is his ability to avoid the long-ball; he has allowed only 7 home runs in 135.7 IP over the past two seasons.  Plus, for those of you who like to know that a pitcher can get it done in the 9th, K-Rod has proven himself an adept 9th inning man with four straight 40+ save seasons.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect signing.  K-Rod’s strikeout rate has dropped in each of the past four seasons.  Now, one could argue that striking out 12-13 batters per nine innings was simply unsustainable, the fact is we are a pretty far way past that point.  Of concern is the drop in his velocity.  Keith Law of ESPN.com does a great job here explaining that part of the reason is because K-Rod has cut back on throwing his vicious slider, adding a changeup to his repetoire of pitches.  Hmmm…Venezuelan pitcher, wears #57, throws a changeup…I think there is somebody that can perhaps help K-Rod improve that changeup a little bit.  But the violent delivery of the slider has caused K-Rod to cut back on using the pitch and makes him a health risk if he continues to use it, even though it’s his best pitch.  But worst-case scenario, if K-Rod gets hurt, it’s only a three year deal.

The Mets aren’t done yet, of course.  While K-Rod does improve the Mets significantly, there is still the matter of adding a starting pitcher or two, more work to be done in the bullpen, finding a way to jettison Luis Castillo and install a second baseman who isn’t terrible, and perhaps upgrading behind the plate and in left field as well.  But the big move is out of the way; the Mets have found the man who will close games for them the next three-plus seasons, and based on what was available on the market, they may very well have gotten the best relief pitcher they could, and on favorable contract terms.  As a Mets fan, how can you feel bad about that?

Affeldt and Awards and K-Rod

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

I don’t want to go too in-depth into either, so quickly…

  • I was disappointed to see that Jeremy Affeldt signed with the Giants.  I thought he would have been a good pickup for the Mets.  The Mets are looking for strikeout guys, and Affeldt had 80 in 78 IP last year, and unlike every left-handed pitcher in their bullpen from last year, he can get right handers out.  After seeing Affeldt get 2 years and $8 million from the Giants, he looks to have been exceedingly affordable, too.  Plus, unlike Juan Cruz, he won’t cost the team a first round draft pick.  It is disappointing that the Mets apparently didn’t even make an offer here, considering the talk on relievers so far.
  • Start the award talk with the Gold Glove.  I’m happy that Beltran won his third straight Gold Glove.  I love watching him play center, he covers so much ground.  I don’t think Mets fans will realize what he brings to the defense until he’s gone.  As for Wright…it’s debatable that he deserved the Gold Glove, but the NL seems to have a dearth of great defensive third basemen.  At gunpoint, I’d probably say Zimmerman deserves it over Wright, but Wright isn’t a bad defensive player and it’s not a horrible pick, though perhaps not the correct one, either.
  • No Mets rookie received any consideration for Rookie of the Year, and rightfully so.  It’s a shame Daniel Murphy lost his rookie consideration on the last day of the season and didn’t have a playoff birth to show for it, but thems the breaks.
  • Jerry Manuel did not receive support for Manager of the Year, although I think he would have finished higher had the Mets made the playoffs.  I have to think that if the Mets do get over the hump next year and make the playoffs, the writers will “reward” him with the award unless something crazy happens like Manny Acta managing the Nationals into the playoffs.
  • Johan Santana finished third in the NL Cy Young voting.  I’d say Lincecum is a worthy winner of the award, although I’d probably put Santana just a slight notch ahead (then again, I’m biased).  Webb finishing second because of wins is a joke; I’d probably rate Brad Lidge as a better pitcher this year, and I’m usually loathe to rank a reliever that high.  I like Webb, as I like groundball/strikeout pitchers, but his second half really wasn’t very good.  His finishing second was as a result of the high win totals and his great first half.
  • Five Mets received MVP votes, though none finished higher than fifth (Wright).  It once again shows how well the team’s core played, and how poorly their complimentary players played, that so many players could receive MVP consideration and yet that team failed to make the playoffs.  I’d also argue the order that those Mets finished; BBWAA ranked them Wright/Delgado/Santana/Beltran/Reyes, while I would rank them Wright/Beltran/Santana/Reyes/Delgado.  It’s also pretty shameful that Chase Utley only finished 15th, while his less valuable teammate Ryan Howard finished 2nd, but at least Albert Pujols won the award, deservedly.
  • The more I read about K-Rod, the more I’m worried about him.  His strikeouts are down, his fastball is down, he’s overusing his breaking pitches…I just see him as a guy who is going to spend time on the DL sometime during his next contract.  With the Mets already getting burned by Wagner, they can’t get burned on another closer.  While we’re here, I also think it’s telling that a lot of what we’re hearing about K-Rod with the Mets is coming from the agent.  The more I think about it, the more I think Fuentes is Omar’s guy, and he’s the one he’s going to sign, and you know what?  I’m getting more and more OK with that.

That’s all for now – expect something from Joeadig sooner rather than later, and sometime this week, I’ll wrap up the first basemen for the Top Ten Offensive Seasons in Mets History series.  Plus, we will react to any and all moves that happen on the free agent market that directly or indirectly affect the Mets, so please keep on coming!

Marlins salary dumps continue

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Kevin Gregg is the latest Marlin to get dumped, as he is on his way to Chicago for a minor leaguer whom you will probably never hear from again.  For the Cubs, it looks less likely that Kerry Wood will return to Wrigley Field, as the Cubs could easily stick either Carlos Marmol in the closer role and let Gregg set him up, or let Gregg close and keep Marmol in the 8th inning.  With Gregg now a Cub, it would appear that they no longer have a spot for Wood, so it looks like that there is one fewer team who will be looking for a closer in this free agency market, and one more closer available for Mets to sign.  The K-Rod Super Refridador Deluxe may have just fell further in price.

As for the Marlins, this takes a reliever out of their bullpen, and for likely little return. However, if you look beyond what they got back, the trade may not look so bad.  Kevin Gregg is due a big raise in arbitration, thanks mostly to high save numbers.  For a team with a limited budget, he isn’t worth that kind of money, particularly since he didn’t pitch well in the second half.  This was pretty much a straight salary dump, and with other bullpen options in-house (particularly after the Mike Jacobs trade), Gregg was a guy they simply didn’t need, and since this is a soft closer’s market, the Marlins may have felt compelled to dump him early.

Another move made today with less impact on the Mets was Nick Swisher going to the Yankees for Wilson Betemit and two minor leaguers.  The package the White Sox got back for Swisher is less than what they gave up a year ago, but after Swish’s bad year, his value was way, way down. Swisher had shown good power and patience in the past, and is about average defensively.  His 2008 was bad, but he’s a prime candidate for a bounce back season, and I think it’s a good move for the Yankees, particularly since he has versatility and the team seems to lack versatility in the outfield and at first base.  He’s my ridiculously early top candidate for 2009 Comeback Player of the Year.

 

Marlins and Nats get together, shuffle the deck

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Scott Olson and Josh Willingham are now Nationals.  Emilio Bonifacio and some minor league gus are now Marlins.  Who wins?  It sure feels like the Nats, at least short term.  Bonifacio is young, but he showed no power in the majors or minors, and his ceiling is probably a .280-.300 singles hitter with a .340 OBP and good defense.  This probably means Dan Uggla either moves to first base, moves to third base, or moves to another team.  Either way, this doesn’t feel like a trade where the Marlins got better in 2009.

The Nats get a league-average pitcher in Olsen and a slightly above average LF in Willingham.  Willingham should be a 30 double/20 homer/.360 OBP guy for the Nats.  His defense has also improved in each of the past three years, which will be important in the vast Nationals Park outfield.  Olsen will give them an average starter, which doesn’t sound like much, but when you look at how bad the Nats’ starting pitching was last year, even an average starter will be an improvement.

The fun thing to follow here will be the Nats’ locker room; Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Scott Olsen are now all on the Nats.  These guys have found interesting ways of making friends since entering the league.  None are particularly fond of the Mets or their fans, either.  Perhaps the Mets will no longer be the most hated team in the NL East?  When the Nats don’t make the playoffs next year, Omar Minaya should tell the press it was because the Nats were so hated, everybody played them tough down the stretch.

Holliday to the A’s – good news for Mets fans

Monday, November 10th, 2008

The Matt Holliday trade to Oakland is good for the Mets if only for one reason – that means the best LF option on the market is in Oakland, and not Philadelphia.  Sure, the Mets could also use an LF, but realistically, they were not a match for Oakland; the package Colorado received included a top OF prospect (which the Mets could have matched if they dealt Fernando Martinez), a major league ready starting pitcher (which the Mets could have matched if they dealt Aaron Heilman) and a major league ready closer (which the Mets could not have matched under any circumstances). 

Could the Phillies have matched this?  Without knowing their minor league system too well, I can’t say.  But no question – I was scared to death that they could.  Now, they could still sign a Manny Ramirez or a Pat Burrell; they are going to have to have somebody play left, and they don’t have anybody in the minors ready to step in.  Manny in red and white could be particularly dangerous in the short-term, especially if the Mets have designs of retaking the NL East in 2009.  But Matt Holliday was a guy who could step in and give that team another impact righty bat (albeit one who played bad defense, but they put Burrell in LF for years) and he’s now an A.  He can’t help the Mets, but at least he can’t hurt them either.