Some Winter Meetings so far, eh? Ready for another day of nothing from the Mets? Brace yourself for Sandy Alderson’s parting quotes about “laying the groundwork.” Sure, point to the calendar and say that Opening Day is four months away. Just ignore the fact that the bulk of the player movement has happened and with a few notable exceptions, all that is left are the lame and the halted. Like a last minute Christmas shopper (guilty as charged) Alderson will storm into the market on the day before (in this case late January) and frantically pick over the leftovers. Hello Cesar Izturis.
Perhaps more so than the other major sports, baseball player transactions can be franchise-altering events. The trades for (or of) Tom Seaver, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza and Carlos Delgado where all clear signals of the immediate direction the Mets were headed. Everyone remembers Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS for Robin Ventura’s Grand Slam Single. Do you remember the two starting pitchers that day? Try Greg Maddux for the Braves and Masato Yoshii for the Mets. With the season on the line, the Mets had to send the unheralded Yoshii against the future Hall of Famer. Despite Yoshii’s heroics that season, it was commonly believed that the Mets needed another established starter to get them over the hump. That’s why the December 1999 acquisition of Mike Hampton was so significant. It clearly showed that the Mets were going for it. The box office boomed and the Mets went to the World Series the next year.
Most of us are longing for that next signal move, the move that gives us real hope that the team is finally off the skids and ready to be competitive again. There are several problems with this. First, given the reported state of the Wilpon’s finances, I highly doubt that this type of move is happening anytime soon. Curtis Granderson is all we get. Alderson was quoted that they need to realize more revenue before they spend more on player salaries. In order to make more revenue they need a winning team. To get a winning team, they need to spend more money. See where this is going? The second problem is that the internet has been “monetized,” which means that some folks have figured out how to turn your surfing into their profit.
A little Internet Marketing 101 here: every visit to a site is recorded. Those records can be tabulated and converted into a neat little chart that someone’s sales force shares with current or prospective advertisers. The better the traffic (site visits), the more they can charge for those banner ads and other sponsorships. Now, I am all for capitalism and I realize that no one is forced to visit a site. There are many ways to drive traffic to a site, but one of the best ways is via original content. When your subject is likeable, popular or important, the traffic comes easily. But what if the subject is in a prolonged decline, contains mediocre performers, has poor management and is under the thumb of someone that most folks love to hate? What if you can’t buy anything from this site like tickets or merchandise? Factor in a lack of writing skills and the spectre of being fired if you offend the boss, which limits the amount and type of original content. Finally, consider that the site can’t just be abandoned, but it must make a profit. So, how do you build and maintain an audience? Go back to the first sentence of the previous paragraph for the answer.
I had long suspected this vulnerability of ours was being exploited by a certain Mets blog, but my epiphany came the day they announced the Huey Lewis concert. Remember the post earlier in the day, quoting Jeff about an impending big announcement? It was quite disingenuous, as after all Alderson was at the GM Meetings and some rumors were already being circulated. Like moths to a flame, the rest of the blogosphere went nuts speculating over the coming announcement. I know it got my attention and I wonder just many times I refreshed that site waiting for an update. I’ll wager I wasn’t the only one doing this. Then came the sting and the letdown. All of those clicks counted however, Mr. Advertiser.
Much damage (plenty of it self-inflicted) has been done the Mets brand. These antics from an affiliated website only add to the feeling that a turnaround is not soon in coming. Just to show how dumb they think we are, they basically invented a Ryan Braun rumor, only to back away with a “who, me?” post about a week later. I am done with that site. There are plenty of indy pages run by some dedicated bloggers that have the same news and have it unfiltered.
As my bio states, I am a long time Mets fan and was present at some of the best moments in team history. I want the Mets back. I am glad to see that the rest of the media is starting to wake up to the decay of this club’s fortunes and reputation. Anyway, some food for thought as the winter meetings wrap up and in the next weeks when The Lead Writer excretes “Mets are considering,” “Mets have talked with” or “Do the Mets match up with…?” posts that are certain to come at a near manic pace in an attempt to get you to click onto the site. If you don’t mind it, then fine. My sense is that many fans will once again get their hopes raised by these stories, only to have them dashed all over again. At the very least, by ruining a cheap form of entertainment, Jeff and his minions have shown that their reverse Midas touch potentially extends to anything remotely associated with the team.
It certainly isn’t much fun being a Mets fan anymore, don’t you think?
According to Adam Rubin at ESPN-NY, the Mets will bring back Jeremy Hefner on a minor-league contract, essentially paying him while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery under their watchful eyes. I think this is a good, low-risk move to retain someone who should have value as a back-end / depth starter and long reliever. Your thoughts?
In a three-team deal, the Angels sent the slugging Trumbo to the Diamondbacks, Arizona sent prized pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs to Anaheim (it’s NOT Los Angeles). At the same time, the D’Backs traded outfielder Adam Eaton to the Chicago White Sox, and the ChiSox send lefty reliever and Newark, NJ native Hector Santiago to the Angels. After the Rule 5 Draft is complete, players-to-be-named-later will be sent from the Halos to the Snakes (rumor has it that the PTBNL is RHP A.J. Schugel), and from the Palehose to the Snakes (supposedly Brandon Jacobs, the minor league outfielder and not the running back).
I think I got all that right.
In other news, Chad Qualls signed a two-year, $6M deal with the Astros, including a club option for a third year. I’m flabbergasted. I know Qualls had a good year in 2013, but he was awful from 2010 to 2012. I’m suspicious of his ’13 performance — was it luck? Vitamin shakes?
Finally, chronically injured Mark Mulder is attempting a comeback, after mimicking the mechanics of Paco Rodriguez in front of the TV in his living room. Maybe he’ll be the 2014 version of Scott Kazmir. Or maybe he’ll blow out his shoulder again. Maybe every pitcher in the Mets organization should be sent video of Paco Rodriguez and try to emulate him, as well. It’s all mystery and voo-doo, right?
Cross off Brett Anderson from your list of possible high-risk, high-reward, comeback pitcher types — the Oakland Athletics have traded the oft-injured lefthander to the Rockies.
Anderson underwent Tommy John surgery midway through the 2011 season, came back in late August 2012, and then suffered an ankle injury / stress fracture in his foot that caused him to miss much of 2013. When he’s been healthy, he’s been brilliant, but he’s made more than 19 starts only once in his 5-year MLB career.
Still, Anderson is only 25 years old, and he’s lefthanded, so he’s perceived as a valuable asset and potential top-of-the-rotation guy. The Rockies gave up another 25-year-old LHP, Drew Pomeranz, as well as righthander Chris Jensen, to obtain Anderson — as well as $2M toward his salary ($8M in 2014; there’s a club option for 2015 at $12M or a $1.5M buyout).
This could be viewed as a salary dump by Oakland. I think it’s more than that — I think they know enough about Anderson’s health and mechanics to believe he’s not worth $8M, and I think they believe Pomeranz has a chance to perform a bit closer to the phenom status many formerly predicted for him. He made a bit over the MLB minimum last year and isn’t due for arbitration until 2016. After learning to survive without Anderson, and adding Scott Kazmir to the mix, this looks like a very smart move by Billy Beane — are you surprised?
What’s your reaction? Did you think the Mets might go after Anderson, and/or Pomeranz?
On Monday, Sandy Alderson told reporters that the Mets were unlikely to give a free agent pitcher more than a one-year deal.
The exact quote was this:
“We’d be hesitant to give a multiyear contract, but it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t.”
Well, that’s a bit more optimistic than how most of the headlines were interpreting Alderson, but, not exactly promising, either.
The argument behind not handing out more than a one-year deal is that Matt Harvey — presumably — will be out for only one year. So the Mets don’t need pitchers in 2015? Um … really?
This kind of communication, if believed to be true, should be upsetting to a Mets fan, for three reasons. First, it significantly limits the pool of available pitchers — with the very least-talented, and/or most risky, among those who the Mets will consider. Secondly, because of the first reason, it suggests that the Mets aren’t serious about contending in 2014 — that they’re simply looking for stopgaps until Harvey returns to full health in 2015. Third, it suggests that the Mets aren’t yet looking to improve their pitching in 2015.
It’s that third reason that should really irk Mets fans. It’s bad enough that the team has essentially put all of their eggs into Matt Harvey’s basket, and may be punting 2014. But if that’s the case, and assuming they’re gearing up for 2015, wouldn’t they want to start adding significant building blocks to surround Harvey?
I know the immediate reply from many Mets fans: the team has a bunch of lights-out prospects who will be ready by ’15 and smoking batters left and right. Maybe they will, but that’s a huge assumption — and moreover, an unfair one. Just because Noah Syndergaard today looks like he could be a stud, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Any of a dozen things could happen that prevent Syndergaard — or Rafael Montero, or Jenrry Mejia, or Jake DeGrom, or name-your-fav-phenom — from becoming solid MLB starters in 2015. There’s been much hype about the “wealth” of pitching prospects in the Mets system right now, but I’m not seeing that much of a difference between the number and quality of prospects they have now compared to the days of Kevin Mulvey, Eddie Kunz, Brant Rustich, Nathan Vineyard, and Brad Holt. People love to fall in love with untested prospects, but the reality is that stuff happens, and when it all shakes out, maybe one or two of any top ten prospects pan out.
But let’s pretend that at least 3-4 of this “new wave of Mets pitching prospects” turn out to be good enough to find their way to a MLB 25-man roster in 2015 — wouldn’t it be really, really nice to a) have a solid veteran innings-eater to take some of the pressure and load off the youngins’; and, b) have some depth to guard against injury and/or use as trade bait to acquire pieces needed elsewhere?
Why can’t, or why won’t, the Mets make a pitch (pardon the pun) for a hurler like Matt Garza? What’s wrong with locking in a veteran such as Bronson Arroyo — who’s tossed 199+ innings every year since 2005 (and done it pitching half his games in a hitters’ park) — through 2016? Why wouldn’t the Mets even kick the tires on Jason Vargas, Ricky Nolasco, or Scott Kazmir? Would it have been so terrible to have either lined up as a solid #4 for the next 3-4 years?
Yet here’s the kicker: of the free-agent pitchers available on a one-year deal, the best of them is Bartolo Colon — but according to reports, his price was too high for the Mets. Maybe the rumor that he’s looking for one year at $10M are erroneous, but if that is indeed the asking price for a pitcher who just went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts and 190 innings in the Adulterated League, and that’s too rich for the Mets, well, what DO they expect to acquire, and at what bargain rate? Granted, I’m not necessarily an advocate of going after Colon, but if the Mets are going to pigeonhole themselves to one-year deals, they’re not going to find a much better alternative for someone with the potential to fill one of the top three spots of the rotation. Instead, they’re in the market for fifth-starter, filler types, such as Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang. Hey, if you truly believe that the Mets starting rotation had the lookings of a playoff contender this past September, then OK. But I disagree with that opinion.
What’s your thought? Do you think the Mets are smart to only look at pitchers on one-year deals this winter? Why or why not? Answer in the comments.
Um … what?
Maybe I slacked off in my observation of Mets games this year, because I don’t recall Turner lacking hustle. Perhaps he did, and I simply missed it. If so, OK, shame on me. But, I can say — without question — that if Turner didn’t run out a few balls, he wasn’t the only Met guilty of such a crime.
At the same time, I would say that lack of hustle was NOT a rampant problem for the 2013 Mets. The one thing that most of the players did was play hard — they were motivated to do so, considering most of them were playing for a job. I do specifically remember Turner dealing with the intercostal strain, but can’t remember if he was showing a lack of hustle at that time. Maybe he was coasting in September, when I completely lost interest in watching and, admittedly, was not blogging as hard as I should’ve been.
So help me out — what did I miss? Was Turner not hustling? If so, when? And was it a chronic issue? I hate when I miss stuff like this.
Further, did you notice anyone else on the club who was not playing hard? Did they deserve a similar fate? And could lack of hustle be the reason the Mets didn’t make an offer to Robinson Cano?
Sound off in the comments.
After hearing news that the Mets signed Curtis Granderson, I went to the office of a colleague (at my real job) who happens to be a huge Mets fan and has held season tickets for the past 15 years. I asked her if she was excited about The Grandy Man joining the Mets.
She frowned, and answered, “He’s a good player, and the Mets need a hitter, but …”
“He’s a Yankee.”
Ah. Something I hadn’t considered. In fact, I was thinking the opposite. The fact that Granderson has been in New York for the past several years, performed well, and truly inserted himself into the community, made me thin that most Mets fans would know he is and have positive feelings about him. And perhaps, many/most do.
On the other hand, there is the fact that he was very much, and very publicly, a Yankee. Not unlike the way Tom Glavine was a Brave, for comparison. I can easily see a Curtis Granderson “Yankeeography” produced in the next two years.
What about you? Do you care that Curtis Granderson was/is a Yankee? Curious to hear your thoughts.
Mets Item of the Day
It’s the holiday season, and — per Larry Hockett — candlesticks always make a nice gift. So how about buying some sweet-smelling Yankee Candles to put under the tree (unlighted and wrapped, of course)? This one is spiced pumpkin, but there are many other scents to choose from. Click on the link or the image below to buy a few from Amazon.
Bushy-bearded Mike Napoli has agreed to return to Boston for two years and $32M. That said, Mets fans can scratch him off the list of potential first basemen to acquire this winter. Though, why would the Mets be interested in a first baseman, when they have a “glut” of them?
Hey, it would’ve been nice for the Mets to bag the bearded Bostonian, but their budget currently has no space. Besides, there are still a few free agent first baseman available that are worth considering, including Corey Hart, James Loney, Mark Reynolds, Michael Young, Kendrys Morales, and Kevin Youkilis. You know, if the Mets wanted to add to their glut.
What’s your take on the Napoli signing? Do you care? Is it irrelevant to the goings-on in Flushing?
Finally, the Yankees get Beltran. And finally, Beltran fits himself into pinstripes. In a union that nearly consummated almost exactly ten years ago, Beltran agrees to — wait for it — LESS money than he was offered elsewhere to become a Bronx Bomber.
According to various reports, Beltran had been offered 3-year deals for more than $45M from other teams, including the Diamondbacks. This time around, though, Beltran eschewed the dollars and went with his heart — leaving possibly $3M on table to make memories as a Yankee.
It’s a good signing by the Yanks, who desperately needed to add to their collection of aging position-player/DH types. Somehow, Joe Girardi finds a way to mix and match all of his DHs to keep his team competitive, so I can’t be too critical. If he’s limited to 125-130 games, including a few dozen DH appearances, Beltran likely will continue to be a .800+ OPS hitter, and that’s not too shabby.
Surely there are Mets fans who would have liked to see Beltran back in Flushing, but at this point in his career, with his battered legs, Beltran needs that DH spot as well as supporting characters to perform at his best. I don’t believe he could be the 150-game starting rightfielder the Mets need Curtis Granderson to be.
Which brings up an interesting point: why did the Yankees completely ignore Granderson (other than extending a qualifying offer) — who has proven to be an extremely capable offensive force in Yankee Stadium — and court a broken-down Beltran for a similar cost? Was it really all about Grandy’s demand for a fourth year, or do the Yankees know something we don’t?
What’s your thought on the Beltran signing? Why do you think the Yankees preferred Beltran over Granderson? Answer in the comments.
There has been a flurry of activity just prior to the opening of the annual winter meetings.
Here is a quick synopsis of the most recent non-Granderson developments:
Scott Feldman signed a three-year, $30M deal with the Houston Astros. The innings-eating Feldman would have been a nice addition to the Mets rotation, but maybe not on those terms. I imagine Houston had to overpay a bit to convince someone to join the worst team in MLB.
Two slugging first baseman that might have been considered for Flushing have agreed to terms elsehwere: Justin Morneau with the Rockies for two years, $12.5M, and Garrett Jones with the Marlins for two years, $7.5M. The Marlins have been busy so far this offseason, and this latest move would suggest that they’ll shop first baseman Logan Morrison at the meetings next week. We explored the possibility of the Mets picking up Jones a few weeks back, but if that is the price necessary to convince him to play for a non-playoff-contender, it’s probably best that the Mets passed. The cost of Morneau doesn’t seem so steep in comparison, but then, my image of him is as the beast he was five years ago; he’s been a shell of himself since entering his thirties.
J.P. Arencibia agreed to join the Texas Rangers, where he presumably will back up Geovany Soto. The slugging backstop gets $1.8M guaranteed, another $300K possible in incentives. I know many people are down on Arencibia, but he can put the ball over the fence, and costs a heckuva lot less than John Buck did (about one-third, in fact). Considering Sandy Alderson’s infatuation with homeruns, I’m mildly surprised there wasn’t more of a push for him by the Mets. In Texas, I see him developing into Mike Napoli Lite. Anywhere else, he’s a modern version of Gene Tenace.
Finally, Nate McLouth has agreed to join the Washington Nationals outfield, which already consists of Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth (not to mention the heavy-hitting Tyler Moore). McLouth reportedly will receive $10.75M over two years. It’s a good match for both sides, as McLouth seems to do his best as something more than a part-time player. However, since he’s a lefthanded hitter, one has to wonder if the Nats will shop Span (who is also a lefty hitter). I can see Werth, McLouth, and Harper all splitting time in center field, while also mixing Moore’s big bat in the lineup. Washington could use Span as bait for whatever it is the Nats still need — more bullpen help? An extra starter?
What do you think? Were any of these players fits for the Mets? Sound off in the comments.
Robinson Cano has agreed to a ten-year, $240M contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Clearly, the Mariners have lost their minds. But the Yankees have lost a second baseman. And Daniel Murphy can rest easy, knowing that Cano won’t be taking his job in 2014.
The Mets bid against themselves and gave Curtis Granderson the fourth year he was seeking. According to reports, the Mets and The Grandy Man have agreed to four years, $64M.
We’ll cover this in more depth soon enough, but I’m at work so can’t offer my two cents at the moment. Meantime, though, post your reaction in the comments.
Mets Item of the Day
You don’t need to join the US Army to be all you can be — you can simply follow the path led by Curtis Granderson. In all seriousness, The Grandy Man wrote a wonderful book for kids that I recommend: All You Can Be: Learning & Growing Through Sports
There is also a drawing book featuring Grandy that was written during his time in Detroit: All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It!
We weighed in on Furcal a month ago when there was first buzz about the Mets kicking the tires on him. I didn’t think it made sense for the Mets to sign him as their “answer” at shortstop. Rather, I thought it would be a decent gamble, provided he wasn’t the ONLY upgrade at the position. As it turns out, the Marlins envision him as their second baseman. So there you go.
Your reaction? Sound off in the comments.
NOTE: this is a post by David Berg
With the Mets lagging behind the competition in every department except High-End Starting Pitching Prospects, there’s a pressing need for either creativity or dollars to make up that gap. Seeing as how the dollars don’t appear to be flowing, let’s get creative!
Every team knows that free agent stars are costly and home-grown talent is the lifeblood of a roster, but when it’s time to fill out a team by importing bullpen and bench players, organizations take many different approaches. Some look for platoon splits, others look for tools like velocity and power, and a few even follow less measured quantities like high-effort ferocity and grinding out at-bats. In each case, the goal is to find some aptitude that hasn’t yet been maximized by the player’s previous organization. This doesn’t work out all that often, as most teams value similar things, but when it does happen, the results are dramatic. See the
2012-2013 Oakland A’s, plus at least one or two key Rays players every year.
One area in which the Mets have particularly struggled during the Alderson regime is relief pitching. While the Rays were getting stellar seasons out of journeymen, minor leaguers, and failed starters, the Mets were selling low on Angel Pagan to buy high on Ramon Ramirez, winning the Frank Francisco bidding, and making desperation promotions like Robert Carson. If the Mets want to catch up to the opposition, their bullpen track record has to change. Fortunately, there’s a way to do it that not everyone has caught onto yet: find failed starting pitchers who throw strikes.
Koji Uehara joined the Orioles as a starting pitcher. He was okay, but was a bit too hittable, giving up lots of hits and homeruns. The O’s converted him to relief, and he immediately became one of the top relievers in the game (when healthy). This probably defied everyone’s expectations, but looking back, it shouldn’t have: Uehara’s arc is virtually identical to the path of Dennis Eckersley. Both were successful starting pitchers, extreme strike-throwers whose hittability eventually caught up to them as they aged. Both took their “never walk anyone” ways to the bullpen, where they threw (a) fastballs and (b) a single secondary pitch that
greatly improved once they dropped the rest of their repertoire. Eck’s slider became death to righties in a way that it never was when he started. Uehara gradually moved from throwing half splitters and half change-ups to throwing only a split, which became nastier and nastier. Both pitchers were still a bit homer-prone
after switching to relief, but their ability to prevent baserunners more than made up for it.
If this seems counter-intuitive, in an era where throwing 97 with no control seems to make a pitcher a coveted reliever, then good. If no one else sees it, the team that does can gain an advantage. While other teams are trying to grow the next Billy Wagner, the Mets can grow the next Doug Jones. Laugh at your memory of slop-tossing Doug… and then look up his stats. Of retired pitchers with more than 1000 innings pitched, the all-time K/BB list reads Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Doug Jones. 303 saves isn’t too shabby either.
So, who out there is a candidate to take his finesse game from mediocre starting to top-notch relieving? Here’s my list of strike-throwing starters whose value may be low enough, now or shortly, for the Mets to acquire them on the cheap:
Many of these guys are still thought of as starters, and I’m listing them only because they either are free agents or may become cheaply available if their teams give up on them. Would it shock anyone to see Blanton cut in spring training? If he is, the Mets could probably get him for very little. Let’s skip those pitchers for now, though, and focus on my top 3 candidates:
Coming off Tommy John surgery, Baker threw only 45 innings last year and was pretty terrible. His career 2.1 BB/9 rate is good, but not at Eck or Uehara levels. On the plus side, he’s a free agent, should be cheap, and may be desperate enough to keep his career going that he won’t contest a move to relief.
Francis is also a free agent, and one has to think that his perceived value has dropped at he turns 33, so perhaps he’ll come cheaply. From 2010-2012, he average 1.9 BB per 9 innings as a starter. Last year, back in Colorado, his walks increased, and a move to long relief did not go well. His change-up, probably his
best pitch before 2009, hasn’t been effective in years, and his 4-seamer’s been lit up like crazy. So he’s a bit of a project. If he has a future as a precision 2-pitch short reliever, it’s probably with his sinker and curve.
The Indians still control Tomlin, who’s arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2014. After 2012 Tommy John surgery, who knows what the Indians think of him, but his performance before the surgery was exactly the sort of thing that got Eck and Uehara sent to the bullpen: way too many HRs. So I’m guessing he’ll be cheap. Why am I interested in a guy who’s allowed 1.4 HRs per game in his career? Well, it’s simple: of all the pitchers I looked at, Tomlin’s control is the best, with a 1.7 BB/9 career mark and 0 walks in his 27 minor league innings last year. His curveball, cutter and change-up have all been good at times (though never all at once), so the Mets would need to identify which one to focus on.
None of these guys are the accomplished pitchers that Eckersley and Uehara were before they transitioned to relief. Baker and Tomlin are younger, with more injuries in their past. Francis looks ready for a change, but simply may not be all that good. It’s an underwhelming selection at first glance, but then, Uehara looked
pretty underwhelming going into 2010. Since many bullpens are cobbled together by gathering a bunch of arms and hoping one sticks, the same methods could be employed here: bring in Baker, Francis and Tomlin, hoping one of them makes it. It may not be perfect, but it may just work out better than all those other teams betting on the likes of Matt Lindstrom, Jose Veras, or Kyle Farnsworth.
Usually innovative fan proposals have about as much chance of coming true as Justin Verlander learning a knuckleball, but if we want to look for signs of hope, the Mets do have a prime example right under their noses. Carlos Torres spent 2013 throwing a lot of strikes. As a starter, he gave up (surprise, surprise) too many hard hits and homers. But in relief? A 1.47 ERA, and opponents hit .203 / .232 / .316 off him. Find a few more performances like that, and the Mets could turn a weakness into a strength, all without breaking the bank.
What do you think? Is this just the type of “moneyball” initiative Mets fans have been waiting for since Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi took over? If so, who do you see as “next-Uehara” candidates? Sound off in the comments.
Mets Item of the Day
Have you done your holiday gift shopping? Then it’s time to start wrapping the gifts. You need the stuff that goes outside the box (see what I did there?). How cool would it be if the gifts were covered in New York Mets Wrapping Paper? This thick, high-quality paper is available from Amazon for less than ten bucks, and includes 150 square feet of wrapping. Follow the link or click on the image below.
The Kansas City Royals have traded LHP Will Smith to Milwaukee in return for outfielder Norichika Aoki. A number of other deals have been made in the past day or so, though none involving the New York Mets.
There had been buzz about the blogosphere that the Brewers could send Aoki to the Mets in return for Ike Davis. The assumption was that Aoki would fit nicely as a leadoff hitter for the Mets, and the Brewers had a vacancy at first base where Davis could start over. However, a trade between the two teams never materialized, perhaps because Milwaukee is considering bringing back Corey Hart to play 1B, perhaps because the Mets felt they can get more for Davis, or perhaps any number of other reasons. Bottom line is that Aoki is in Kansas City, and Davis is still, for now, property of the Mets.
For what it’s worth, I thought a Davis for Aoki trade would’ve made good sense for both clubs. Though Aoki is on the wrong side of 30, he’d upgrade the Mets’ corner defense and provide them a legit leadoff guy with speed who rarely strikes out and has a bit of pop — players like that aren’t easy to find.
In other news not involving the Mets …
Joe Nathan signed with the Detroit Tigers; two years, club option for a third, reportedly in the neighborhood of $20M.
Edward Mujica signed with the Red Sox; two years, $9.5M.
The Bosox also signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8.25M contract. Good sign for Boston, I think. It seems Pierzynski is perennially underrated by the market; he’s a solid backstop who swings a good stick. Pierzynksi apparently turned down several multi-year deals, but chose winning over money.
Paul Konerko agreed to return to the White Sox on a one-year deal for $2.5M, so scratch him off the list of possible Flushing first basemen. He could’ve been a nice fit as a platoon partner for Lucas Duda, in my opinion — but there was never any buzz on Konerko leaving Chicago.
Ryan Vogelsong is returning to San Francisco, also on a one-year deal, but for $5M.
Jose Molina returned to Tampa on a two-year, $4.5M deal. Bargain for one of the top defensive backstops in baseball.
Finally, The Beard — a.k.a. Brian Wilson — has agreed to a two-year, $18.5M contract with the Dodgers. The plan is for Wilson to be the setup man to Kenley Jansen. Personally, I think it makes good sense to spend big bucks for a lights-out 8th-inning guy, and even for a 7th-inning guy. Too many games are decided in the 6th and 7th inning by the worst pitchers on either club.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any comment on the above moves? Answer in the comments.
Mets Item of the Day
Did you put up a tree yet? How about hanging a Mr. Met ornamenton it? It’s under ten bucks — a steal!
At this point, there is nothing else to report.
However, in a miraculous coincidence, I ALSO ATE SALMON JUST LAST NIGHT. Holy crap! What does it all mean?
Luckily, salmon tend to live in the river, rather than the (Jason) Bay.
What did you have to eat last night? Or on Sunday, for that matter?
I don’t remember this much activity, this early in the winter. Maybe it’s my old age, or maybe it had something to do with the late arrival of Thanksgiving / early arrival of Chanukah. In any case, there have been so many deals happening these past few days, it’s hard to keep up. Though, there hasn’t been much activity by the New York Mets. Still, we should quickly review what’s been happening outside of Flushing.
Phillies acquire Brad Lincoln from Blue Jays for Erik Kratz and Rob Rasmussen.
Mildly interesting, as Kratz seemed to find a place as the Phillies’ backup catcher, and the Jays just signed Dioner Navarro and cut J.P. Arencibia, leaving Josh Thole as the backup / designated knuckleball catcher for R.A. Dickey. Apparently, though, Toronto is not sold on Thole. Kratz showed some homerun power and good skills behind the dish in his first legit shot at semi-regular time in 2013, but also showed holes in his swing that limited him to a .213 average. His departure means the Phils are in the market for a backup backstop.
Speaking of catchers, the Rays acquired defensive whiz Ryan Hanigan from the Reds, and former Mets reliever Heath Bell from the Diamondbacks, in a three-team deal. The Rays parted with minor league pitcher Justin Choate and a PTBNL, and Arizona also sent LHP David Holmberg to Cincinnati. I don’t see how this deal is relevant to the Mets.
Meanwhile, the Rangers dealt outfielder Craig Gentry and RHP Josh Lindblom to the wheeling-and-dealing Athletics for prospects Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. I know nothing about Choice and Bostick, but Gentry and Lindblom might’ve been useful to the Mets. Not a huge deal, though it would seem to free some roster and budget space for Texas to make another move, while Oakland continues to make improvements to their big-league roster despite small-market constraints.
That’s not all out of Oakland. Billy Beane also swung a deal with the Padres to add Luke Gregerson to the A’s bullpen. Beane traded outfielder Seth Smith, who was very close to being a non-tender candidate. For those who remember, around this time last year, the Padres supposedly were interested in swapping Gregerson to the Mets for Daniel Murphy. Honestly, I don’t know whether that would’ve been a good deal or not, nor do I know if it matters — it’s not as though such a trade would’ve made much difference in the Mets’ 2013 outcome. But it is interesting that Beane was able to acquire Gregerson for a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Finally, there is news that the Tigers have signed closer Joe Nathan to a two-year deal, which means there’s a good chance that Brian Wilson will, in turn, sign with the Dodgers. Not that the Mets were in play for either.
Your response to these moves not made by the Mets? The comments section is open.
For those of you who shed the dreams of sugarplum fairies surrounding Jacoby Ellsbury, and moved instead toward visions of Dexter Fowler in Flushing, well, strike that thought from your brain, as well.
I have no idea who Barnes is, and Lyles has a 5.35 ERA and 6.2 K/9 ratio in three years of MLB service. Maybe Barnes is the next what-Lastings-Milledge-was-supposed-to-be, I don’t know. Maybe Fowler is not as good as I think he is, on both sides of the ball. I could be wrong about the fleet-footed, sure-handed, switch-hitting center fielder with pop and a career .365 OBP going into his prime years. But I would think he’d have been on the Mets’ radar, and considering the paltry package that landed him, I’d also think the Mets could have put together something similar or better to acquire him.
But what do I know? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.
If you haven’t already heard, former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has signed a 3-year, $21M deal with Mets NL East Rival Miami Marlins, and, in turn, the Bosox replaced him by signing A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal.
Interesting move by the Fish, who apparently feel that youngster Rob Brantly either needs more seasoning or is not cut out for everyday MLB duty behind the plate. You know, the same Miami Marlins who would appear to be behind the Mets in the rebuilding process. Or perhaps not?
Meanwhile, Pierzynski’s landing in Boston doesn’t affect the Mets, unless you thought they were interested in signing the veteran backstop to tutor Travis d’Arnaud. I hadn’t heard / seen any buzz to that effect.
What else might the Marlins do this winter? Or is signing Salty their “big fish” (pardon the pun) of the winter? Sound off in the comments.
If you were dreaming of sugarplum fairies and a Flushing outfield grazed by Jacoby Ellsbury, you at least still have the fairies.
Ellsbury agreed to sign with the New York Yankees (gasp! visions of Johnny Damon!) for 7 years and $153M. Wow.
I don’t think the Mets were ever in play for the speedy, multi-talented, oft-injured centerfielder, but, nonetheless, there were many fans bidding for his services in their own minds, and those thoughts are now squashed by the mighty Yankees, who clearly care less about a potential luxury tax. And how can you blame them? They do have the advantage of operating their business in the largest big-market in baseball.
Oh, wait …
In other Bronx banter, the Yankees are reportedly on the cusp of signing second baseman Kelly Johnson, presumably as insurance against the possibility of Robinson Cano cash-strapping another organization. The Bombers have also signed RHP Brian Gordon to a minor-league deal, and could still be in play for Carlos Beltran (as well as Cano).
Oh, and if that isn’t enough, there is buzz that the Yankees are also making overtures to Omar Infante and Nelson Cruz — two players who could also be on the Mets’ target list and might actually fit into their miniscule budget.
Your reaction to this stunning news? Tee off in the comments.