Archive for the ‘Trades’ Category

I solve crime (and talk baseball) with NUMBERS

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

As I type this, the numbers are flying all over the place. 7 years, $150.75 million at an apy of $21.5 million per.  Well, all those numbers sound nice in early February, but at this same time of year, I have a few more numbers to throw out there.

14 Days…1 Hour…12 minutes.  Yes, those are the numbers that matter the most to me.  You see, those numbers will get smaller and smaller until February 14th at 12 noon, when a 28, soon to be 29 year old Venezuelan arrives in a sleepy little town off the east coast of Florida known as Port St. Lucie.  That will be the time, when Johan Santana steps into the home teams locker room at Tradition Field, looks across the room, and sees yet another number, albeit a more firmiliar one. 57. However, this number won’t be on the back of a Minnesota Twins spring training jersey, it will be that of the New York Mets.

At that point, the numbers, the money, the potential of past prospects and the ghost of bad deals past will not matter.  At that moment, it’s all about an amazingly talented man and his ability to throw a baseball; and throw it as well if not better than almost anyone else on this planet.  The only numbers that will matter between that time and October will be the one’s that precede the letter “W.”  Even the numbers on the patch on his sleeve that will read “1964-2008″ will mean nothing.  This isn’t about the past, it’s about the future.  2008 will mean nothing without those numbers in front of that “W.”  And even though all year, Johan Santana’s numbers will be dissected more than a frog in a High School Biology class, it’s all about winning.  Winning is every bit as much of an attitude as it is anything tangible.  An attitude that eluded this Mets ball club in the dog days of last summer.

Monday, David Wright, The Carlos’, Jose Reyes and many others were probably still practicing their answers to the question, “What happened?”  By this coming Monday, they will be asking questions of their own and looking forward to introducing themselves to the one man who can potentially take the pain of game 162 away.  You see, Johan Santana brings more to this club that a stellar left arm and knee buckling change-up, he brings simple change.  He brings the 2008 version of the New York Mets onto the field, and while many of them still feel the pain of last September, make no mistake about it, Johan Santana didn’t come here to be a footnote on the worst collapse in baseball history.  He may not be the savior…but he also sure as hell isn’t Livan Hernandez.

Blue and Orange… and Green!

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

The rumors apparently were true: the Mets acquired Shawn Green from the D-Backs tonight for a no-name minor-leaguer. Green isn’t having his best year, but he is hitting .283 with 51 RBI’s and is easily better than Michael Tucker, Endy Chavez, or Lastings Milliage.

I like this move simply because it didn’t cost the Mets anything of significance and I think he’ll be a popular player in NYC. More importantly, he and Carlos Delgado are good friends (I remember hearing that Green was in Delgado’s wedding party or vice versa), so I know that he wont have a negative effect on the team’s chemistry, something that you always have to be concerned about with a late-season addition.

Mets acquire Shawn Green

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Call me crazy, but I like this one. Green didn’t cost the Mets much; they have a hundred other minor league pitchers exactly like Evan MacLane, no offense to the guy. Is Green going to be the difference between the World Series and not? No, but he gives the Mets some outfield depth, which they clearly needed at this point. I mean, was anybody really prepared to throw Michael Tucker out on the field for a playoff game?

This allows the Mets to take it slow with Lastings Milledge, which they should be doing at this point. There’s no need to rush Milledge into the lineup during a period where expectations would be huge for the guy; if he can’t cut it during the regular season, when the Mets have the division beyond wrapped up, how would it be for him in October, during the playoffs, when all eyes would be on him? The Mets don’t need to rush him into the heat of this chase, and they shouldn’t.

To be honest, I like what Green provides. He gives the Mets another lefty who can hit sixth after Wright, and plays a competent outfield. He doesn’t have the power and speed he once had, but I see him giving the Mets similar production that Xavier Nady gave the Mets while he was on the team. Really, that’s all they need, and to acquire him for a pitcher who the Mets were not likely to ever start works for me. I say, good deal; if anything, I wish they had dealt Heath Bell in the move, just so the poor guy could get a chance to be an everyday reliever.

The Mets screw the pooch at the trading deadline…again

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Enjoy the next few months, Mets fans. This will be the first time the Mets have played stress-free baseball in August and September, and in a good way. And with the National League in a downswing, a World Series appearance shouldn’t be too far off.

Ah, what I’d give for the optimism of yesterday. Instead, today, I stand before you a beaten man. Can’t the Mets go through one July 31st without making a stupid trade? Can’t the Mets avoid making Kazmir deals at the deadline at least once in a while? Just once, even? Please? At least when I came home from work today, my cats were still alive.

Let’s recap: Duaner Sanchez seperated his shoulder in a car accident last night. Out for the season. Obviously, this is bad news. The Mets, suddenly incredibly desperate to fill a hole in the bullpen, start scrambling to try to pick up a reliever, finally getting Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez for Xavier Nady. To repeat; the Mets just traded their everyday starting right fielder for a 41 year old relief pitcher, and not even a guy having a particularly good season, and a starter who has been utterly horrific for the last year and a half.

First, let’s talk about the guy they traded in the deal, Xavier Nady. I’m not going to pretend that Xavier Nady was this once-in-a-lifetime right fielder, a guy the Mets will rue the day they gave him up years from now. He was, at best, an average to below average right fielder. His pop was okay, not great (a .487 slugging percentage is nothing to get excited about, though homering once every twenty-one plate appearances isn’t bad). He wasn’t much for hitting (.264 average) or getting on base (.326 OBP). You’d like more out of a corner outfielder, but he wasn’t actively bad or anything. With the lack of available Mets options, he wasn’t bad. Trading him isn’t a bad idea…if they have somebody they can plug into his hole (more on that in a minute).

Next, how about Roberto Hernandez? In forty-six appearances this year, he checks in with a 2.93 ERA, but with 1.63 WHIP. In other words, he’s allowing baserunners, but not allowing them to score, or to use a Cox term, he’s been “getting lucky.” He’s also striking out 6.91 per nine, so he’s not blowing batters away with his stuff. By the way, have I mentioned that he’s forty-one? To expect him to replicate what Duaner Sanchez gives the Mets in the eighth inning is foolhardy. The Mets have at least four non-closer relief pitchers who are as good or better than Roberto Hernandez. Apparently, Omar Minaya doesn’t see Hernandez’s 2005 season with the Mets as the fluke that it was.

Now, let’s talk about Oliver Perez. Last season, he checked in with a robust 5.85 ERA, up from 2.98 in 2004. He allowed twenty-three home runs in 103 innings, or about two per nine innings, up about one home run per nine from the season before. To put this in perspective, he gave up one more home run in ninety-three fewer innings. He also checked in with a 1.67 WHIP, (up from 1.15 the year before) which includes over six walks per nine, (up from 3.71 per nine the year before) and a strikeout rate that declined from 10.97 per nine innings to 6.12 per nine, always a sign of a pitcher on the rise.

This season, the strikeout rate has improved a little, (up to 7.22 per nine, still not up to his 2004 level) and the homeruns have come down, (to “only” 1.54 per nine) but everything else is down. His ERA is up to 6.63, and his WHIP is up to 1.83, and again walking six per nine, so that means that he’s getting hit a lot worse this year than last.

Basically, Oliver Perez is a hugely flawed pitcher. He has upside; his 2004 season was tremendous, and he was only twenty-two at the time, so he was thought of as a pitcher on the rise. There’s also a good chance, a very good chance, that he is never going to replicate that 2004 season ever again. In all likelyhood, he has been injured for the past season and a half (and he did spend time on the disabled list last season). But I’m looking at some Oliver Perez notes in his Sportsline profile…these are the ones that jumped out at me:

“Pirates demote Perez to minors”
“Perez resembles good pitcher”
“Oliver Perez sickening Wednesday”
“Oliver Perez pounded by Padres”

Ladies and gentleman, this is the guy the Mets traded for to solve their rotation woes! So right now, going into a playoff series, they have Pedro Martinez starting Game 1, a guy with health issues and who hasn’t had a “Pedro start” since May. In Game 2, you have Tom Glavine, who was probably the NL’s best pitcher in April and May, but has been god-awful in July. And starting Game 3…well, take your pick: Steve Trachsel, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey, or now…Oliver Perez. Is anybody REALLY worried about this team in a short series, with THOSE options?

This is why the Mets NEEDED to get Barry Zito. Barry Zito was available. They could have gotten him for the right deal, if they weren’t afraid of trading Milledge. I’m going to let everybody here on the blog know, something I’ve kept to myself the past few weeks, but I’m going to go public with it, and if I look like a fool years from now, so be it.

I don’t think Milledge is going to become the superstar outfielder we’re all expecting him to be. I don’t think he’s going to pan out. At most, I think he turns into Jay Payton, which is better than being Alex Escobar, but still…he’s not going to be the top-level guy everybody thinks. If the Mets were concerned that they couldn’t get equal value for him in return, I have bad news; I don’t think starting him in right field and displaying his flaws to every teams’ advance scouts wasn’t the way to protect that value.

If all this was going to take to seal the deal was Milledge to bring a top-level starting pitcher to New York, even if only for two months, and the Mets passed up on it…then to me, that means they’re a little too satisfied with this team. They see that the Mets are miles ahead of the rest of the NL East, and that the National League, on the whole, is severely down this year, so a World Series berth is all but guaranteed.

The problem is, this Mets team, as it stands today, is not going to win the World Series, unless whomever wins the AL West sneaks past the good teams of the American League. Sure, once they’re actually in the Series, it’s a crapshoot and anybody can win (see Marlins, Florida). But as it stands, right now the Mets’ odds of coming out on top in that crapshoot are a lot lower than they would have been A) had they not traded their starting right fielder to start an unproven rookie; and B) had they acquired a big-name pitcher to fill out the rotation.

The trade that was made today was not about winning the World Series, and that’s what today’s deal had to be about. This team is too close for them to stockpile parts for the future. Trading Nady, the right fielder of now, to protect Milledge, the right fielder of tomorrow, is an example of that. In current value, Lastings Milledge could have netted the Mets a lot bigger of a catch than Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez, and Xavier Nady could have given the Mets more production in right than Milledge. Meanwhile, Perez is clearly not a guy who can help the team win today, especially if they send him down to Norfolk, as is rumored, but he may (or may not) do so in the future. We don’t know if Milledge or Perez will pan out, or if the Mets will have this kind of opportunity to make the World Series ever again, and that’s my biggest problem with today’s moves.

The big problem a lot of Mets fans, and perhaps Minaya himself, seem to have with Zito is that he’s a “two month rental.” First of all, that’s no guarantee; he may wind up liking the Mets and staying here for a long time. Secondly, 2006, for me, is about winning the World Series. This is the best Mets team in a long time, and in a depleted National League, they have an excellent chance of making the World Series. Once they’re there, anything can happen. Today’s moves should have been about improving their chances once they got to the World Series. I would hate for their opportunity at becoming World Champions to be wasted because they were afraid to pull the trigger on the big move. To use a poker term, Omar was afraid to “go all in.”

Ultimately, I’m just really disappointed. I don’t think Milledge is prepared to step in and play every day. I don’t think Roberto Hernandez is the guy to replace Duaner Sanchez in the bullpen. And I certainly don’t think Oliver Perez is the big-time starter the Mets needed to dominate a short series, even if Handyman Peterson can fix him up, good as new. Ultimately, I just don’t think the Mets are as good as they were yesterday, or even as good as they were before Duaner got hurt. I just hope the Mets didn’t ruin what, up until today, was looking like a dream season.

And yes, it did take 1,600 words to say “I didn’t like this trade.”

The Reds got raped

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

I know this isn’t Mets-related, but it may become relevent at some point. The Reds just traded Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals for two relief pitchers, Royce Clayton, infielder Brendan Harris, and a pitching prospect. I mean…what the hell? Kearns is a guy who has a history of injury problems, but when he’s healthy, he’s a very dangerous hitter. Felipe Lopez probably peaked as a hitter last season, but…I mean, Royce Clayton is replacing him. Even if Lopez has been disappointing, he’s better than Royce Clayton. That’s not to mention Ryan Wagner, who has the potential to become a better reliever than anything the Nationals acquired.

In return, the Reds got a whole lot worse. Gary Majewski and Bill Bray will not improve the Reds’ bullpen enough to where they will make up the production they would have received from the position players. I honestly can’t believe this trade happened. The Reds basically just conceded the NL Central to the Cardinals, or at the very least, to a team that isn’t them. I feel bad for them. How does a team make a trade where the three best players involved all go one way?

How does this affect the Mets? Two ways. One, the Reds just set the trade market from now until the deadline. In order to acquire two mediocre relievers, the pricetag is at the Austin Kearns level. Now, the Mets don’t need bullpen help, they need rotation help, but this will indirectly affect the price of a good starter, since relievers aren’t as important as starters. Though it also means that maybe the Mets can parlay one of their excess relief pitchers for a second baseman, or maybe even a starter. Who knows. They may not get Zito, but they may get something servicable.

Second, the Nationals just got a lot better. Kearns, Lopez, and Wagner means that Washington improved three spots on their roster in one fell swoop. While it shouldn’t affect the Mets too much in 2006, those three players are all young and could very well haunt the Mets for years to come. I can say that I, for one, am not happy Kearns is in the division. He seems to kill the Mets every year. In any event, I can’t believe Jim Bowden, the same GM who signed Cristian Guzman to a four year, $16 million contract, just got the better of another GM in a trade. Reds GM, whomever you are, you can go join Jim Duquette in the “General Managers Who Made Bad Decisions In The Heat Of A Playoff Race” section of the Shitty GM Hall of Fame, which we hear may soon be renamed the Isiah Thomas Hall of Fame.

Julio traded for El Duque

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

This news kinda caught me off-guard. Orlando Hernandez was acquired by the Mets this afternoon for Jorge Julio. You know, I’m not really against this. Jorge Julio sucks. Sure, his ERA is no longer in double digits, but he never had much of a chance of providing the team with good relief. That they were able to get anything for him is, frankly, a miracle. Now, the likelyhood of El Duque ever providing the Mets with good starting pitching is not great, but he can’t be worse than Lima, can he? I mean, that’s the standard we’re talking about. We need him to be better than Jose Lima, and about even with Victor Zambrano. Maybe I’m an eternal optimist (ha!) but I think we can get that from Duque. Plus, we know he can handle New York. He’s not an ideal candidate for the starting rotation, but as a flyer that only cost the Mets the worst reliever out of their bullpen, he’s certainly worth a shot.

The Mets suck at trading

Friday, April 7th, 2006

Over at the Hardball Times they did an evaluation over which teams have made the best and worst trades over the years 1961 to 2002. Guess who finished last? Well, this is a Mets blog, and I wouldn’t have mentioned this if the Mets hadn’t finished last.

You know what’s pretty remarkable about finishing last? In the 80’s, the Mets made some pretty good moves. They stole Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Tim Teufel, Howard Johnson, Ray Knight, Bobby Ojeda, Sid Fernandez, Jesse Orosco, and David Cone from their teams. With the exception of Cone, those were key players in the ‘86 World Series champions, and the best player they dealt in those deals was Hubie Brooks. So despite building a world championship team at least partially out of trades, they are still dead last in these rankings.

Of course, there’s a lot of deals that hurt them. Trading Nolan Ryan was obviously a monumental mistake. Trading Jeff Kent, who looks like he may actually be on his way to a Hall of Fame career, for Carlos Baerga also didn’t really help much. Dykstra and McDowell for Juan Samuel has haunted, and will continue to haunt Mets fans for years. And there’s more, but we don’t need to get into all of those here. Let’s just hope that Omar Minaya’s deals for Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, and Xavier Nady don’t one day join these trades on the scrapheap of suckitude.

Trade fallout

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Okay, I’ve calmed down a little bit since Saturday. I’m not going to lie, when I heard about the trade being completed (my friend MJD of TheMightyMJD.com and Deadspin.com called me to break the news, and would have linked me to Deadspin had I been anywhere near a computer) I was furious. I was planning a blog item much angrier than the one you wound up reading. I’m pretty sure I would have wound up getting sued for slander had it been posted. Jorge Julio simply is not a good baseball player. Kris Benson is only a mediocre starting pitcher, but he will eat 160-190 innings every year, will pitch at around average, and won’t hurt the Mets. With some run support, he could win 12-15 games. Trading a pitcher who will throw that many innings for a guy who is a relief “specialist,” who is worse than players already on the team, and who will take opportunities from players that are better, is a bad move. But it happened and it’s time to live with it.

As expected, a good deal of the trade talk in the New York papers centered not on whether or not it was a good deal for the Mets, but on Anna Benson. The New York Times called it “addition by subtraction,” which I’m not really sure what that means. Anna Benson has no impact on the Mets. She’s attention-starved, but most of the people who care about that sort of thing don’t really care about the Mets anyway. Vic Ziegel of the Daily News proposes a “wife swap.” Didn’t Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich get in trouble for that back in the 70’s? Plus, all the Yankees fans would accuse the Mets of copying them anyway. Another Daily News article discusses the trade, and also includes some of Anna Benson’s more ignorant comments. Buried all the way at the bottom is something that should interest most Mets fans, statistics about Jorge Julio. Now, call me old-fashioned, but isn’t what the Mets are acquiring more important than the wife of the player being shipped out of town?

But wait! There’s more! Jon Heyman of Newsday weighs in, and believes despite Mets comments to the contrary, that Anna Benson did play a part in the trade. Well, that’s a good reason to make a dumb trade, because the wife of a player annoys you. Seriously, nobody who cares about the Mets cares about what Anna Benson has to say. I point out the garbage she spews on here to make fun of her, because she is dumb.

In fact, Here’s some quotes from her press conference, in which she asks that the Mets’ “Be liberal or not, make a choice.” Anna, the Mets didn’t acquire Carlos Delgado because he’s liberal. The Mets might have the most conservative front office in baseball. They acquired Carlos Delgado because he helps them win games. If Benson had remained on the team, he would have put your husband in better position to win games. That’s what Mets fans care about. Not political beliefs, or what the wife of one of the players thinks. Delgado gives them more of a chance to win games than just about any other first baseman in baseball. Kris Benson gave them more of a chance to win baseball games than Jorge Julio. That’s why I hate this trade, and why most Mets fans seem to agree with me.

Where does the team go from here? The starting rotation depth, which went seven deep less than a month ago, is now at five deep, with pretenders like Brian Bannister, Yusuku Iriki, Alay Soler, John Maine and others “challenging” for spots that they won’t get. Personally, I liked the idea of a competition. If Heilman really was good enough to start, and had a good spring, he may have earned that spot, and Zambrano would have gone to the bullpen. If Heilman didn’t perform well enough, Zambrano would have been there to stink up every fifth game. Now, they are guaranteed spots, and the lack of competition won’t push them to go further.

But what about another acquisition? MetsBlog.com says that a Zito trade is not likely until at least mid-season, and won’t come without trading Lastings Milledge. It would probably cost them Victor Diaz as well, but since the Mets don’t seem to have anything firm in mind for him, why not include him?

MetsGeek.com discussed Jeff Weaver about a week ago, back when the Mets didn’t have a spot open in the rotation. If you had told me a week ago that the Mets might be interested in acquiring Weaver, I would have called it a bad idea. Now? I’d welcome it with open arms. He’s the best free agent pitcher still on the market, and with most teams having lukewarm interest at best, they could probably get him for an affordable one year deal. I’ve read that the Mets have only had lukewarm interest themselves so far, but with nobody really stepping up to the plate to sign him, I think it would be in their best interests to do so. Remember, starting rotation depth has never, ever been a bad thing.

In the final word on the Julio trade, here’s a look at him at MetsGeek.com and a look at other similar trades the Mets have made over the years that did not work out well. I really really dislike this trade, and I still think it is the sort of trade that could cost the Mets a playoff spot at the end of the year, but at least I’m much calmer now than I was yesterday. Just ask my friends, whom I called and left angry messages to yesterday.

And I didn’t mention this earlier, and was planning a blog item about it for Saturday before the Julio trade happened, but progress is being made towards the new Mets stadium. I know it’s been talked about so much over the past ten years that some people won’t believe it until it’s built. But it looks like they are really going to break ground on the stadium this spring. You know, for all of Shea’s faults, I really do love that place. Sure, the sightlines suck, the seats are in some cases miles away from the field, and unless you enjoy pork-based products, (and don’t get me wrong, I do) you can’t find a decent meal in the place. But it’s a place where good things have taken place. The Mets won two World Series at Shea. Mookie Wilson’s grounder rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs there.

On a personal note, I have seen countless games there, most of them Mets victories. I was there in the 2000 NLDS, when Bobby Jones threw his one-hitter to beat the Giants, in what is still the best moment I’ve ever seen in person as a sports fan (and I’ve been to NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals games). Shea Stadium rocked like I have never felt another place rock before. Some of my friends at that game felt unsafe, it was rocking so hard. I probably never felt safer in my life, even in the Upper Level. Will it be nice to actually get good seats at a Mets game? Sure. But any other Mets stadium isn’t “home” to me like Shea Stadium. A part of me hopes that the construction of the stadium gets delayed just a bit, so I might one day be able to take my children to Shea Stadium before they tear it down. I’m running out of time.

What the hell is going on?

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

(Note: There’s no way to get around this. Today’s update is going to have a lot of dirty language. I have tried to avoid using dirty language since I started this blog back in November, but if you remember, the first (and until this article, only) time I have dropped an f-bomb here on MiracleMets was in response to the very trade that happened today. I can’t help it. If you are a child under the age of 18, or if you are the type of person who is offended by profanity, I have posted an alternate version of today’s update that is something you can read without worrying about my words polluting your brain. I apologize for this, but unfortunately, it was unavoidable. Thank you for understanding.)

What the fuck is Omar thinking? Why would he revisit this shitty trade? Didn’t he realize that he was let off the hook the first time when this trade wasn’t completed? In case you’re wondering, the Mets have traded Kris Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jorge Julio and some guy named John Maine. John Maine isn’t what I’m upset about. He could be John Maine, John Vermont, John New Hampshire, and I still wouldn’t give a shit about him one way or another.

But why in the world would the Mets want to acquire Jorge Julio? WHY? Have they not paid any attention to how he has pitched the past three seasons? They refer to him as a “power pitcher,” but he was only 90th in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings. Meanwhile, last year he got hit up worse than he ever had, allowing more hits and home runs than he had previously in his career, while his strikeout numbers went down. Overall, he hasn’t posted an ERA under 4 since his first full season in the majors, and last year his ERA was 5.90. About the only thing he does well is keep batters from scoring that are already on base, allowing only 4 out of 24 inherited runners to score. Still, this is a guy who has gotten progressively worse since his first season in the majors, and we just gave up a fucking reliable starting pitcher for him?

This is not meant as a defense of Kris Benson by any means. He is a mediocre, at best, starting pitcher. His wife is an ignorant bitch. I have no problem trading Kris Benson, and it’s possible that trading Benson was done so they could clear payroll for another trade. If the next trade is for a starting pitcher, that’s great. If there is no next trade, and this was done with the intention that it betters the team, then this is a god damned travesty of a trade.

I’m going to fill Omar Minaya in a little secret, something he may not be aware of: STARTING PITCHERS ARE BETTER THAN FUCKING RELIEF PITCHERS. If relief pitchers were good enough to start, they would be starters. That goes for just about every relief pitcher to ever live, including Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, and other great relief pitchers. The idea for these trades (if they aren’t salary dumps) is that they are dealing from a stregnth (starting rotation) and filling a weakness (relief pitching). That’s fine, if you have four starting outfielders and want to fill a bullpen hole, because a fourth outfielder can’t pitch the seventh or eighth innings. But he’s trading one pitcher for another. In both trades that have been made this month (including Seo for Sanchez), Omar is dealing one pitcher for another, more limited pitcher.

Let’s do this for an example. Say that the Mets had not made any trades, and they still have Benson and Seo. They would go into spring with seven starting pitchers (assuming Aaron Heilman is a starting pitcher, and I’m not convinced that he is, despite his feeling to the contrary). Five of these starting pitchers would win spots in the rotation, and the other two could fill the bullpen spots. What’s wrong with putting Zambrano and Heilman in the bullpen? They are able to pitch, does it matter to the Mets if they start pitching in the first inning or the eighth?

Plus, the Mets rotation is not exactly a picture of health. Pedro Martinez is having toe problems, and has a history of breaking down as the season progresses. Tom Glavine is 39 years old and is prone to minor aches and pains. Steve Trachsel just had fucking back surgery. Victor Zambrano has a history of being both injured and terrible. There is a very good possibility that at some point, one of these starting pitchers is going to require time on the disabled list. Possibly more than one of these pitchers. Before, if one of them had to go on the DL, the Mets would have had rotation depth to fill these spots. They could have slid Heilman out of the bullpen for some spot starts, or Zambrano, or whomever.

Now? They can’t slide Duaner Sanchez to make a spot start. Jorge Julio…the man can barely pitch one inning in extremely controlled situations, how the fuck could he pitch five or six solid innings? They dealt rotation depth, which has never proven to be a bad thing in the history of major league baseball, so they could improve a bullpen that did not need improving. Repeat: To improve a bullpen that did not need fucking improving. They had Billy Wagner, who is an improvement over Braden Looper at closer. They had Aaron Heilman, who was terrific last year. They signed Chad Bradford at an affordable price, and he has traditionally been a very solid reliever at getting righties out. They had a thousand arms whom they had acquired during the past several months, or that they had in the minors, any one of whom could ably and effectively held down leads in the later innings.

Instead, they traded for Jorge Fucking Julio, and you know what he’s going to do? He’s going to keep somebody like Heath Bell in Norfolk, or Juan Padilla, or any one of a number of decent relievers who could be filling Julio’s role in the majors, and fill it better than Julio. Plus, they acquired ANOTHER right handed reliever, which was about the last fucking thing they needed.

There is one circumstance, and only one, where this trade is acceptable: if it is a salary dump to acquire a better starting pitcher (like Barry Zito). Unfortunately, I believe only the former part of that statement is true. It’s a salary dump. They wanted to move Benson’s $8 million, they didn’t want to pay him for 2006 or 2007, so they accepted a much lesser pitcher in return so they would not be obligated to the rest of Benson’s contract.

Lost in all the hubaloo over the Mets’ spending this offseason is that the payroll has not increased one cent. The Mets’ Opening Day payroll had been around the same mark as last year’s, but because they acquired Delgado and Wagner, it was assumed that they had decided to bump the payroll up. But they also waved goodbye to Mike Piazza and his $16 million and they traded Mike Cameron and his near-$8 million for fifty cents on the dollar. Now, they may actually be paying less for next year’s team. It’s the Wilpon M.O.: make a splash on the back pages of the New York Post, and then quietly spend as much, or less, as they did last year. That’s how bad trades like this happen. It’s never a good sign when Jim Duquette beats you in a trade.

Look, I’m not trying to be negative. When I started this site, I wanted to try to keep it positive here because I am generally not a fan of negativity. But this is just so beyond a dumb trade, I don’t know what to say. Words don’t describe how bad this trade is. I was expecting to have to write something similar back when the Baez rumors were still hanging around, but I got a reprieve on that when the Dodgers acquired Baez instead. I thought I’d be free from having to write something so angry. But then they go and trade Benson for Julio, and I cannot understand why. Benson was perfectly acceptable as a guy who could eat 160-190 innings per year. Jorge Julio is just bad. This trade had the dual effect of making both the starting rotation and the bullpen worse than they were before it was made. I seriously believe this one trade may have submarined the Mets’ chances of making the playoffs in 2006. Unless it was made with another acquisition in mind, I just can’t get behind this trade. Omar, I thought you were better than this.

What the heck is going on?

Saturday, January 21st, 2006


What the heck is Omar thinking? Why would he revisit this lousy trade? Didn’t he realize that he was let off the hook the first time when this trade wasn’t completed? In case you’re wondering, the Mets have traded Kris Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jorge Julio and some guy named John Maine. John Maine isn’t what I’m upset about. He could be John Maine, John Vermont, John New Hampshire, and I still wouldn’t give a crap about him one way or another. But why in the world would the Mets want to acquire Jorge Julio? WHY? Have they not paid any attention to how he has pitched the past three seasons? They refer to him as a “power pitcher,” but he was only 90th in the majors in strikeouts per nine innings. Meanwhile, last year he got hit up worse than he ever had, allowing more hits and home runs than he had previously in his career, while his strikeout numbers went down. Overall, he hasn’t posted an ERA under 4 since his first full season in the majors, and last year his ERA was 5.90. About the only thing he does well is keep batters from scoring that are already on base, allowing only 4 out of 24 inherited runners to score. Still, this is a guy who has gotten progressively worse since his first season in the majors, and we just gave up a freaking reliable starting pitcher for him?

This is not meant as a defense of Kris Benson by any means. He is a mediocre, at best, starting pitcher. His wife is an ignorant person. I have no problem trading Kris Benson, and it’s possible that trading Benson was done so they could clear payroll for another trade. If the next trade is for a starting pitcher, that’s great. If there is no next trade, and this was done with the intention that it betters the team, then this is a gosh darned travesty of a trade. I’m going to fill Omar Minaya in a little secret, something he may not be aware of: STARTING PITCHERS ARE BETTER THAN FARTING RELIEF PITCHERS. If relief pitchers could start, chances are they would be starters. That goes for just about every relief pitcher to ever live, including Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, and other great relief pitchers. The idea for these trades (if they aren’t salary dumps) is that they are dealing from a stregnth (starting rotation) and filling a weakness (relief pitching). That’s fine, if you have four starting outfielders and want to fill a bullpen hole, because a fourth outfielder can’t pitch the seventh or eighth innings. But he’s trading one pitcher for another. In both trades that have been made this month (including Seo for Sanchez), Omar is dealing one pitcher for another, more limited pitcher.

Let’s do this for an example. Say that the Mets had not made any trades, and they still have Benson and Jae Seo. They would go into spring with seven starting pitchers (assuming Aaron Heilman is a starting pitcher, and I’m not convinced that he is, despite his feeling to the contrary). Five of these starting pitchers would win spots in the rotation, and the other two could fill the bullpen spots. What’s wrong with putting Zambrano and Heilman in the bullpen? They are able to pitch, does it matter to the Mets if they start pitching in the first inning or the eighth? Plus, the Mets rotation is not exactly a picture of health. Pedro Martinez is having toe problems, and has a history of breaking down as the season progresses. Tom Glavine is 39 years old and is prone to minor aches and pains. Steve Trachsel just had freaking back surgery. Victor Zambrano has a history of being both injured and terrible. There is a very good possibility that at some point, one of these starting pitchers is going to require time on the disabled list. Possibly more than one of these pitchers. Before, if one of them had to go on the DL, the Mets would have had rotation depth to fill these spots. They could have slid Heilman out of the bullpen for some spot starts, or Zambrano, or whomever. Now? They can’t slide Duaner Sanchez to make a spot start. Jorge Julio…the man can barely pitch one inning in extremely controlled situations, how the heck could he pitch five or six solid innings? They dealt rotation depth, which has never proven to be a bad thing in the history of major league baseball, so they could improve a bullpen that did not need improving. Repeat: To improve a bullpen that did not need any improving. They had Billy Wagner, who is an improvement over Braden Looper at closer. They had Aaron Heilman, who was terrific last year. They signed Chad Bradford at an affordable price, and he has traditionally been a very solid reliever at getting righties out. They had a thousand arms whom they had acquired during the past several months, or that they had in the minors, any one of whom could ably and effectively held down leads in the later innings. Instead, they traded for Jorge Gosh Darn Julio, and you know what he’s going to do? He’s going to keep somebody like Heath Bell in Norfolk, or Juan Padilla, or any one of a number of decent relievers who could be filling Julio’s role in the majors, and fill it better than Julio. Plus, they acquired ANOTHER right handed reliever, which was about the last freaking thing they needed.

There is one circumstance, and only one, where this trade is acceptable: if it is a salary dump to acquire a better starting pitcher (like Barry Zito). Unfortunately, I believe only the former part of that statement is true. It’s a salary dump. They wanted to move Benson’s $8 million, they didn’t want to pay him for 2006 or 2007, so they accepted a much lesser pitcher in return so they would not be obligated to the rest of Benson’s contract. Lost in all the hubaloo over the Mets’ spending this offseason is that the payroll has not increased one cent. The Mets’ Opening Day payroll had been around the same mark as last year’s, but because they acquired Delgado and Wagner, it was assumed that they had decided to bump the payroll up. But they also waved goodbye to Mike Piazza and his $16 million and they traded Mike Cameron and his near-$8 million for fifty cents on the dollar. Now, they may actually be paying less for next year’s team. It’s the Wilpon M.O.: make a splash on the back pages of the New York Post, and then quietly spend as much, or less, as they did last year. That’s how bad trades like this happen. It’s never a good sign when Jim Duquette beats you in a trade.

Look, I’m not trying to be negative. When I started this site, I wanted to try to keep it positive here because I am generally not a fan of negativity. But this is just so beyond a dumb trade, I don’t know what to say. Words don’t describe how bad this trade is. I was expecting to have to write something similar back when the Baez rumors were still hanging around, but I got a reprieve on that when the Dodgers acquired Baez instead. I thought I’d be free from having to write something so angry. But then they go and trade Benson for Julio, and I cannot understand why. Benson was perfectly acceptable as a guy who could eat 160-190 innings per year. Jorge Julio is just bad. This trade had the dual effect of making both the starting rotation and the bullpen worse than they were before it was made. I seriously believe this one trade may have submarined the Mets’ chances of making the playoffs in 2006. Unless it was made with another acquisition in mind, I just can’t get behind this trade. Omar, I thought you were better than this.