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Friday, August 29, 2003

The Mets played a great game tonight, aside from the defense's attempt to give the game away in the ninth. Senator Al outpitched former teammate Mike Hamton as the Mets beat the Braves 3-1. Letier went 7 innings, giving up 2 hits and no runs. He struck out six and walked one. Jose Reyes provided all three of the runs for the good guys, going 2-4 with 2 home runs, the obligatory 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI. As an added bonus, he took a walk. Marco Scutaro walked in his lone at bat tonight.

On to the continuation of yesterday's article. First Base

Mo Vaughn 79 ABs .190/.323/.329(.652) 2 HR, 4 2B, 15 RBI, 10 R, 14 BB, 22 K

Tony Clark 210 ABs .238/.304/.510(.814) 16 HR, 9 2B, 38 RBI, 28 R, 19 BB, 63K

Jason Phillips 327 ABs .315/.389/.465(.853) 10 HR, 19 2B, 50 RBI, 40 R, 32 BB, 34 K

AVG .277(NL Rank:9th) OBP .349 (11th) SLG .472(7th) OPS .821 (10th)

I don't think i need to say anything about Mo Vaughn.

Tony Clark does'nt hit for average or take walks anymore, two things he used to do pretty well, but he's jot for a ton of power in his limited at bats. He has made an excellent pinch hitter, spot starter, and all around role player, and he's cheap. If he stays cheap, then i'd like to bring him back next year as a back up OF/1B and pinch hitter.

Jason Phillips has become our regular first basemen, and if all goes well, will eventually be our regular catcher following a transition period in whcih he and Piazza share time at both catcher and first. Tony Clark has hit for enough power to raise the team 1B total slightly above Phillips SLG, despite Vaughn's 79 useless at bats, but otherwise our first base totals are dragged down severely by all the games before Phillips took over. Phillips stats alone would rank him second in OBP among NL first basemen, behind some guy named Helton. His .315 average would also place him second, again behind that Helton guy. The .465 SLG would be ninth compared to teams, or sixth among the first basemen who qualify for the batting title, which Phillips will might by year end, if he plays most every day He has an EqA of .298 vs a leauge average of .284 for his position, and is 11th in RARP with 21.8.( all RARP ranks are for the majors, not the NL) He does'nt hit for a whole lot of power for first base, but the average and OBP are more then enough to compensate. And when he moves to catcher, he becomes an all star candidate if he's still hitting like this.

I'm skipping second base, becuase Alomar is gone, McEwing should'nt be playing every day, and Marco Scutaro is already well documented on this site.

Shortstop

Rey Sanchez 174 AB .207/.240/.236 0 HR 3 2B.. you know what, it's just not worth mentioning, he sucked.

Jose Reyes 263 AB .312/.338/.445 5 HR, 12 2B, 4 3B, 32 RBI, 46 R, 12 BB, 33 K, 13 SB, 3 CS

AVG .261(7th) OBP .302(10th) SLG .335(14th) OPS .637(14th)

Once again, this is dragged down by all the games before Jose Reyes. Or more specifically, before Reyes started hitting. His K/BB rate is still subpar, but he's shown improvement in that area. And as i've said in the past, that's looking too hard for a problem with a 20 yr old shortstop hitting .312. For now though, it's the only thing keeping him from already being a superstar. Reyes14th among shortstops with 13.1 RARP, and has an EqA of .272 vs a leauge average of .255 for shortstops( note that neither of those reflect tonight's activities). He has impressed everyone whose watched him the last two months. Announcers, fellow players, coachers, exexcutives, all have nothing for praise. We've had alot of overhyped prospects in recent years, but it certainly looks like Reyes is for real.

Third Base

Ty Wigginton 482 AB .261/.319/.413 10 HR, 31 2B, 6 3B, 64 RBI, 64 R, 38 BB, 100 K, 10 SB, 2 CS

AVG .268(7th) OBP .332(6th) SLG .415(10th)

Wigginton has played in 129 of the Mets 131 games, and provided excellent defense. He's fallen off a good bit offensively though. After starting off well he's tailed off recently , possibly because pitchers have figured out they don't have to throw him strikes, the wear that playing third base every day takes over a major leauge season, or both. He does'nt walk a whole lot, but it's not a terribly low amount. He does strike out a ton, which reflects the problems he's had lately. He's just not getting pitches that he can hit anymore, because he swings at one he can't. He can be a very good player, but it's up to him to make the adjustments.

Despite the low numbers, Wigginton is 11th among major leauge third basemen with 17.9 RARP. He has an EqA of .264, compared to a .261 average for the position. This is a prime example of what i was talking about at the start of this article yesterday. You look at Wigginton's numbers, and think he's a terrible player, but a closer look reveals that he's actually a slightly above average offensive third basemen. And he playes excellent defense, making him a valuable player.

It's gotten late, so once again i'm going to have to put a to be continued on this article. Tommorow i'll do the outfield.
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Thursday, August 28, 2003

Marco Scutaro had his first two bad games since his call up. He is 0 for 7 the last two nights, with one walk tonight. Stats are updated to the left. Mike Piazza had 3 of the 4 Mets hits (Reyes had the other), and hit a solo shot for their only run, as we lost to the Braves 4-1.

Today i thought I'd take a look at the production the Mets have gotten from each position, relative to the leauge average. Comparing players, or in this case total team production from a position to the leauge average is often the best way of judging actual offensive production and value. This is especially true in historical terms, because of the difference in the leauges over time, but it can also be true for current day evaluations. You can look at a player hitting .260/.300/.375 and make what seems like the safe assumption that he's awful, but what if the leauge average for his position is .225/.265/340. Suddenly he's a good player, with an OPS+ of 111 relative to his position.

Catcher

Mike Piazza - 147 AB .333 .438 .626 (1.063) 11 HR, 29 RBI, 27 BB, 21 K
Vance Wilson -245 AB .237 .284 .371 8 HR, 38 RBI, 12 BB, 51 K

In his limited action, Piazza has crushed the ball. Vance Wilson started off well, but has completely lost it lately, dragging the numbers down, but we are still among th leauge leaders in production from the catcher spot.

AVG .271 (NL Rank: 6th) OBP .348 (5th) SLG .450 (3rd) OPS .798 (4th)

I can't get the Mets EqA for positions on the whole, but Piazza has an EqA of .345 and Wilson of .230 vs the leauge average of .252 for catchers.

Piazza and Phillips are likely to be splitting time next year at catcher and first base next year, with Wilson remaining as a defensive back up. Barring a severe drop off from Phillips, we should expect to continue to be among the leauge's offensive best from the catcher position.

Damn it. ESPN.com has gone to hell just now, and i can't get the stats. I've tried both MLB and CNNSI but neither provide team comparisons by position. This article will be continued once ESPN.com isback to normal. I'm also cosidering putting another addition on my sidebar, the OPS + of our regular player, or closest thing to it, at each position, and the ERA + of our five starters. I'll track them all and update it weekly.


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Monday, August 25, 2003

12 weeks. There goes my winter.

Yes, like my friend Jeremy Heit, i was one of those people yelling OH SHIT! when Pennington grabbed his wrist in pain after being sacked by the Giants Brandon Short. And I was almost getting used to going into the season with playoof expectations. On a related topic, my brother told me today what an awful job he thinks Terry Bradway has done in his tenure as GM. Despite the two straight playoff appearances, i'm inclined to agree. What was one of the best offensive lines in football has been torn apart, a shell of it's former self. Only the presence of Mawae in the middle provides any confidence in this unit. A strong seconday anchored by Aaron Glenn has been similarly dismantled. At least an attempt to rebuild the seconday was made, but it failed miserably. Getting rid of Damien Robinson is a start, but this unit still needs alot of work. I still don't understand giving up Aaron Glenn, a superb cover corner who was willing to restructure his contract ( and in fact did with Houston ). The fact that we gave them Ryan Young to take Glenn and Coleman is just infuriating. Losing Chad Morton because they failed to include an option in the contract that they never would have allowed Morton to get to anyway. Losing Coles because we did'nt make the highest qualifying offer, which would have made a team surrender a first and a third to sign him. Taking a linebacker in the second round, no matter how good they think he is, whenTyler Calico, Kelly Washington and Mike Doss are still on the board. Doss, a safety born to play in this defense, was taken by Tony Dungy four picks later. Hobson may turn out to be great, and if he does everyone will celebrate the pick, but the fact is that two thirds of the teams in the NFL would trade linebacker cores with the Jets, even if they're starting to get up their in age. I understand the concept of drafting the best player on your board, but not when you've got three huge, glaring needs(O Line, secondary, no 1 wide out) and a perfect fit for two of them still available.

Anyway, i'm done ranting about the Jets for now. How far away exactly is hockey season? Thank God i'm an Islanders fan. At least my hockey season still has hope.
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Just a quick update for tonight's game, another good one. Tom Glavine defeated Kevin Brown in a pitcher's duel. He went 7 innings, allowing 2 hits and 1 run. He struck out two and walked one, but it was intentional. In his last four starts Glavine is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA.

Scutaro went 1 for 4 tonight. The lone hit was an RBI single, bringing home Jeff Duncan for what wound up being the winning run. Stats updated to left.
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Friday, August 22, 2003

The Mets shut out the Dodgers tonight behind Steve Traschel's third straight excellent start. I think it's worth reiterating that since his awful first half season with the team, Traschel has consistently been our best pitcher.

Marco Scutaro went 2-3 with a double an RBI and a walk. Stats updated to the left.

Jose Reyes went 3-5 with a HR, 2 R, and 1 RBI

Jim, the first reader whose been sending me regular emails, sent me a letter last night:

Mike. are you forgetting about Cedeno? We have him under contract for a few more years and he is hitting over .270 now.

Cedeno's been on a tear lately. Since the All Star break he's hitting .336/.372/.496. Of course, it's a very small sample size.

The problem is he does'nt hit for any power, does'nt walk enough anymore, and does'nt steal bases anymore. Cedeno's value was as a lead off hitter. He got on base, stole second on half his singles, and scored a lot of runs. If he can continue playing like has has since the all star break or something close to it, then he becomes a viable option again. However, I think we should remember that Cedeno has only had one good year, 1999 with the Mets. He played well with Houston in 2000 but only appeared in 74 games. In 2001 with Detroit his hitting was fine, but he completely forgot how to take a walk, resulting in an OBP far, far too low for a leadoff hitter. He does'nt need to hit .330 +, but that OBP does need to stay around .370 or better. As for his defense, he does cover alot of ground in right field, resulting in a superb range factor and zone rating. And to his credit, he's made very few errors this year. He misreads balls though, and lacks baseball sense, sometimes resulting in throwing mistakes ( as well as baserunning mistakes).


I'd love to see Cedeno become a good player again, and earn his money, but until he hits like this for an extended period of time, i just don't have faith in him. If he stays hot for the rest of the year, then i think he gets another chance. If he returns to his old form before season's end, i think he and his money become a lost cause, and the Mets will go looking for options elsewhere. Jim is right though, he's here, under contract for two more years, and hitting well right now. He does need to be considered. It was an oversight on my part. On a side note, if anyone else has comments on things i missed, or anything at all, I'd love to hear from you.

A few more notes on Shannon Stewart:

If he stays above .300 this year(he is currently hitting .310) it will be his fifth straight year with an average above that mark. I documented his amazing OBP consistency in the the last article. Right around .370 every year.

This is Stewart's sixth year with double digit home runs, including one fluke year in 2000 when he hit 21.

In the last three years he has hit 43, 44, and 38 doubles. He has 31 so far this year.

Stewart has topped 100 runs four years running, though he is in danger of falling a bit short this year. He is currently at 71 runs scored.

He has a career OPS+ of 110


On to the rest of the free agent class.

Starting Pitcher

I'd like to start by saying that i think pursuing a free agent pitcher this year would be a mistake. For one thing, unless we trade Traschel, it takes a spot away from either Jae Weong Seo or Aaron Heilman. There are some fine pitchers on the free agent market this year, but none are truly dominanet starters, and except for Sidney Ponson none are particularly young. We'd be beter off letting Seo and Heilman get another year's experience, to better judge their potential. Also, their are better free agent pitchers available in upcoming years. Next year's class includes Pedro Martinez, Kerry Wood, and if they return to their old form, Matt Morris and Freddy Garcia can be added to the list. And then the Oakland starters begin to come up for free agency. Tim Hudson after 2005, Mulder and Zito after 2006. It can be hard to be patient, especially in free agency. In this case though, we'd be better off waiting till our older starters have moved on, and we have a better idea what our young pitchers, namely Heilman, Seo, Kazir, and Peterson can do.

That said, there has been some speculation that we will pursue a starter this year, so here is a look at some of the better ones on the market.

Kevin Millwood

If we do pursue a starter this winter, this is the guy to go after. Still just 28 ( 29 in December), Millwood has turned into an excellent pitcher. For his career he has a 3.74 ERA, and ERA+ of 116. Opponents have batted .241/.297/.378 against him, with 7.46 K/9. Millwood came up in '97 and pitched well for the Braves for two years before having one of the best season of any pitcher in the NL in 1999. He went 18-7 with a 2.68 ERA. Over 228 innings he gave up up 168 hits, walked 59 and struck out 205. Many expected him to emerge as one of the league's best starters, but he regressed in 2000, with a 4.66 ERA in 212 2/3 innings, then fought injuries in 2001, posting a 4.31 ERA in just 121 innings. Last year Millwood returned healthy and had another excellent year. He pitched 217 innings with a 3.24 ERA, giving up 186 hits, walking 65 and striking out 178. So far this year, Millwood has a 3.83 ERA in 171 2/3 ERA. He's struck out 135 and walked 53.

Millwood's best pitch is his heavy 91-93 MPH fastball. It has nice skining action and draws alot of ground balls. He also throws an above average curveball, a decent slider, and an improving change up. His strike out rate has only been below 7 K/9 once, in his injury plagued 2001 season. His control is not superb, but he's never walked more tehn 65 hitters, and never had a K/BB ratio lower then 2. In fact the only times it was below 2.5 were his rookie year, and 2001. The only real complaint with Millwood is he gives up a few too many home runs( .92 HR/9), not a terrible amount, but it could stand to come down a bit.

He's not one of the handful of elite starters in the leauge, but Millwood is a solid No. 1 or standout No 2. on a playoff caliber team. I think the days of very long term contracts for pitchers are over for awhile, but because of the extreme premium on pitching, there salaries are'nt going to drop off as much as position players. Expect Millwood to get at least 10 million a year from someone. I can't see 15 million, but 12-13 is a very real possibility.

Bartolo Colon

Colon has struggled a bit this year, posting a 4.24 ERA in 187 innings. That's not bad, but it's far from all star level, and what he's capable of. He's given up 178 hits, struck out 143 and walked 54. He has a career 3.91 ERA and 122 ERA+, but both numbers are helped greatly by his outstanding 2002 performance. In 233 innings between Cleveland and Montreal he had a 2.93 ERA. He struck out 149 batters, and waked 70, which is good, but not quite as good as you'd expected from the 2.93 ERA. Previous to last season Colon had always been seen as a pitcher with a ton of potential, that could never take that final step into stardom. From his rookie year in '97 to 2001 his ERA's were 5.65, 3.71, 3.95, 3.88 and 4.09. Ignoring the rookie year, Colon was consistently a good but not great pitcher.

In 2000 and 2001 in Cleveland, Colon was one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball. He topped 200 K'sboth years, with rates of 10.15 and 8.14 K/9. Since then, he's seen a dramatic drop off, with 149 strike outs last year ( 5.75 K/9), and 143 so far this year (6.88 K/9).The rise from last year is a good sign, but it's still way down from his 2000/2001 level. Colon has struggled at times with his control. His walk rates tend to rise with his strike out rates. In his two 200 + strike out years, Colon walked 98 and 90 batters. Those are easily the highest totals of his career, but he's never been below 70 walks in a full season. Colon is something of an under achiever. He's got filthy stuff. His fastball can touch 99, and he can throw it with sink, and rising up in the zone. Even more impressive, Colon holds his velocity deep into starts, often for a full nine innings if he gets that far. He mixes in an adequate change up and hard curve. He has the ability to overpower hitters, but except for 2002, he's never been able to put it all together. That's not to say he's been a bad pitcher, he is cnsistently better then the leauge average, and a 122 ERA+ is excellent, but he has the potential to be so much more. He turned 30 in May, and at this point, it might be too late to expect Colon to turn into a consistently dominant starter. If he regains his 2002 form, Colon is one of the elite starters in the leauge, a true No 1 for a championship club, but otherwise he's no better then a good no. 2, or superb no. 3. I don't think he's worthas much as Millwood, but someone will probably overpay him and give him 10 + million for a few years.

Sidney Ponson

The youngest of the top free agent starters, Ponson turns just 27 in November. Their have been expectations around him for years now, but he battled injuries in 2001 and 2002,and this is really his first good year. He's pitched 176 1/3 innings, with a 3.78 ERA. He's given up 172 hits, struck out 116 and walked 53. For his career he has a 4.58 ERA, 5.69 K/9, and 1.87 K/BB ratio. His career ERA+ is 96. Ponson's strike out rate has actually gone down this year, but he's posted career bests in opponents AVG OBP and SLG.

The expectation surrounding Ponson are a result of the young age in which he reached the majors, and his good stuff. He throws a 92-94 MPH fastball, and a very good slider. He used to struggle with control of the slider, but has imrpoved a good deal, growing much more consistent with it. He lacks a good offspeed pitch since abandoning his forkball, but does a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone, drawing a lot of ground balls.

Because of his age, Ponson will get a 3-4 deal at the very least, despite the limited success he's had in his career. I see his value as a bit below Millwood or Colon, perhaps 7-9 million a year. Like Colon, it would'nt surprise me to see someone overpay because of the premium on pitching, and give him 10 million.

Javier Vazquez

Much to the dismay of 2/3 of the teams in baseball, Vazquez is not a free agent this year. He is an Expo though, and is going to make alot of money next year, meaning he's very likely to be traded this offseason. Vazquez just turn 27, since he's not actually a free agent, i won't bother going over all of his stats. Sufficed to say that over the lasty two and a half years he has established himself as one of the top young starters in baseball. He features fives pitches; fastball, cutter, curve, slider, and a change up. All five are good pitches, and he throws all of them for strikes. I'd offer Montreal their choice of two prospects not named Reyes or Kazmir, plus a decent throw in, maybe a live armed minor leauge pitcher.

Second/Third Base.

At this point i think Wigginton will get a shot at third next year, and i'm still hoping for Scutaro to get his shot at second, but the possiblity of brining in Miguel Tejada is at least worth mentioning. Briefly, since i don't think it will happen, nor should it. Miguel Tejada is a very good player. He plays a great short, and hits for alot of power, but i discussed in a previous article that for most of his career his AVG and OBP have mediocre at best. Even with this down year, he's going to command a lot of money, because someone will fall in love with a shortstop who can hit 30 home runs. And rightly so, but he's not worth that to us, because short is'nt open on the Mets. He'd have to move to either second or third base, probably second, where his offense is still at a great premium, but not to the same extent it is at shortstop. Also, current teammate Eric Chavez is going to be a free agent next year. Chavez is similar to Tejada, an excelent power hitter with decent at best AVG and OBP. He's never had the breakout year Tejada did last year, but he's more consistent, and probably has a bit more power. He is also the best defensive third basemen in the game, with all due respect to Scott Rolen. Chavez is still just 25, almost two years younger then Tejada, and so still has more room to develope. If we decide we need infield help, it makes little difference whether we sign someone at second or third, since Wigginton and Scutaro can both play either position. Given that luxury, i'd rather wait for Chavez.


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Marco Scutaro went 1 for 4 tonight with a run scored. Stats updated to left.

Jae Weong Seo pitched 6 strong innings, giving up six hits and one run. He struck out two and walked one. This follows yesterday's quality start from Aaron Heilman. He pitched six innings, walking five and striking out just 3, but he gave up just two hits and one run. The lone run was a solo shot i nthe 6th by Mark Loretta.

As promised today's article is on the upcoming free agent class. This being a Mets Blog, I'll be focusing on the positions that i see as open for the Mets in 2004. Here's how i see next year's team so far, not including the bullpen, where there's so many options it would be an article unto itself.

Definite
SS Jose Reyes
1B/C Jason Phillips/Mike Piazza
LF Cliff Floyd
SP Al Leiter
SP Tom Glavine
SP Steve Traschel (unless traded)

Likely
3B Ty Wigginton
SP Jae Weong Seo
SP Aaron Heilman


The two obvious holes are center field and 1 of the corner outfield spots, probably right field, if you assume Floyd stays in left. The only potential answer there among the current roster is Timo Perez as half of a platoon, preferably in right field, not center. Secondary needs may include one starting pitcher, depending on what the Mets think of Seo and Heilman. A second or third basemen is also a possibility, if the Mets are convinced that none of the various in house options is an answer ( Wigginton, Scutaro, Daniel Garcia, Victor Diaz). I wish i could include Scutaro on the likely list for next year, but unless he continues his hot hitting i don't think Mets management thinks enough of him to warrant it. At the very least, he'll be given a chance to win the job, barring a major free agent signing. The bullpen is in need of some help, but the Mets are more likely to look to the wealth of relievers in the farm system then to another pricey free agent. At least, i hope they are. On to the free agents.

Center Field

This has been a black hole on the team for years. We have'nt had a productive center fielder since we traded Lenny Dykstra for Juan Samuel, unless you count the one good year from Jay Payton. If we try to find a long term answer in center field this year, there's really only one option.

Mike Cameron

Cameron is one of the most underrated players in baseball today. Everyone knows what a great defensive player he is. If you ask me, Andruw Jones is pretty clearly the best defensive center fielder in baseball right now, and probably since Willie Mays. But Cameron is in the pack just behind him, along with Torii Hunter, Jim Edmonds, Carlos Beltran, and Vernon Wells. What alot of people don't realize is what a good hitter Cameron is. His overall numbers are dragged down by Safeco Field year after year. Aaron Gleeman wrote a very extensive article on this (scroll down, Tuesday July 8). If your not really that interested in Mike Cameron, and would rather just take my word for it, here's the short version.

Safeco 903 AB .218/.329/.364
Road 1015 AB .297/.385/.540

That's a decrease of 26.6% in average, 14.5% in OBP and 32.6 % in SLG. When you take that into consideration, his career line of .252/.344/.439 looks pretty good. He hits for a good average when he's not in Safeco, and although he strikes out a ton, he takes a lot of walks to compensate. His career IsoP is .187, which is'nt quite great(.200 +), but it's very good. Per 162 games he averages 21 HR, 80 RBI, 28 2B, 6 3B, 72 BB, and 151 K. The extra base hit and RBI numbers are dragged down by his two early years in Chicago. As a bonus, he averages 30 stolen bases a year to 8 caught stealing. This year he's hitting .269/.351/.468 with 16 HR, 68 RBI, 26 2B, 5 3B, 50 BB, 113 K, 14 SB, and 4 CS. At home he's hitting .238/.317/.436. On the road he's hitting .298/.382/.498.

Cameron's not exactly young anymore, but he's only 30, and in the last three years he's played 155, 150, and 158 games. This year he's played slightly less, but is still on pace to play 144 games. So health is not a concern. Cameron's not perfect, but he's an excellent option. We also have to consider the future. We have no center field options anywhere in the system. Theo nly other elite center fielder up for free agency anytime soon is Carlos Beltran. Now admittedly, Beltran would be a much better solution then Cameron. They're similar players, but Beltran's younger, and better. He has a better arm, strikes out less, hits for a better average, and more power. Of course, that might change if Cameron ever spends a full season outside Safeco. The problem is that it's not as simple as waiting for Beltran to become a free agent. There is still a strong chance he'll be traded either in the offseason or sometime next year. If he's traded, there's then a very good chance that the team who traded for him will lock him up long term before he ever gets to the market. If Beltran is being marketed this winter, then i think we have to at least call and see what they want as our first option for center field. If he is'nt being shopped, or the price is too high, then Cameron becomes an excellent option. He's one of the best center fielders in the game, he's available, and he'll come at a reasonable price in this market.

Corner Outfield

Let's start with the two big ones.

Vladimir Guerrero
Vlad is probably out of our price range, but you never know, so it's worth a quick mention. We all know how good Vlad is. He's far and away the best free agent on the market. He's 27 and his career line is .322 .388 .585. Per 162 games Vlad averages 38 HR, 113 RBI, 37 2B, 5 3B, 61 BB, 78 K, 20 SB and 12 CS. His career OPS+ is 146 His stolen base rates have been better the last two years, but not much. Vlad has made the 30/30 club the last two years, and was one home run shy of 40/40 last year, but he'd actually be a better player if he stopped stealing bases. He gets caught far too often for it to help his team. That's really looking for a problem though. He's one of the games elite right handed hitters, and also has one of the strongest outfield arms in baseball. Vlad may be the last guy to get 15 million a year for quite awhile. As i said, that is probably out of our price range.

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield is 34 now, 35 in November, but boy can he still hit. He's been the third best hitter in the NL this year at .334 .430 .609 with 32 HR, 99 RBI, 29 2B, 73 BB, 43 K, 16 SB and 3 CS. For his career he is .298 .401 .526 with 33 HR, 105 RBI, 31 2B, 2 3B, 96 BB, 69 K, 17 SB, and 8 CS per 162 games. He has a career OPS+ of 145.

I have no doubt that Sheffield would help make us a respectable team by putting up huge numbers the next two years. The problem is that the Mets are'nt going to be competing for anything in the next two years, and in 2006, Sheffield will be 37. He's also going to be looking for at least a 3-4 year deal. Given our current state, Sheffield is too old for us to get commited to long term.

After those two, there's a whole list of good to mediocre outfielders out there including:

Jose Cruz Jr

Shannon Stewart

Rondell White

Will Cordero

John Vander Wal

Jeromy Burnitz

Raul Ibanez

Raul Mondesi

Let's rule out Mondesi because of his percieved attitude problems, and Burnitz because we probably would'nt have traded him if we wanted to re sign him. Also, John Vander Wal has no value to us. Raul Ibanez, Rondell White and Jose Cruz Jr are all decent outfielders who can be quality players on chamionship teams, but are nothing more then role players. Cruz has power, and is a good run producer, but does'nt hit for average. White and Ibanez are more balanced, both hit for decent average and power, but don't standout in either. Only Cruz is on the right side of 30. None would really be bad, but none would be a real solution either. Jeremy Heit has suggested Wil Cordero as half of a right field platoon with Timo Perez. Cordero hits lefties pretty well, and he'd come real cheap. A Perez/Cordero platoon might well produce solid numbers for a miniscule amount of money. So i think this is a good option. However, if Duquette ( or whomever, if someone else gets the job) decide they want to spend a bit more money on the corner spot, i present to you...

Shannon Stewart

I've gottenthe impression that alot of people think Shannon Stewart is overrated, and i'm not really sure why. He's 29, with a career line of .303 .368 .449. Per 162 games he averages 14 HR, 68 RBI, 41 2B, 6 3B, 60 BB, 83 K 30 SB, and 10 CS. He has a career OPS+ of 110 And he plays good defense. This year he's hitting .308 .363 .467 with 12 HR, 51 RBI, 31 2B, 2 3B, 39 BB, 50 K, 3 SB,and 5 CS. He's hitting right about his career average, but this year his stealing has been awful. Last year he had a great success rate, but stole only 14 bases ( 14/16). His stolen base numbers have been ona downward trend for years,and at this point i think it's time to stop considering it a skill. He's still a very good hitter though. I'm not saying Stewart is a superstar, but he's been one of the best leadoff hitters in the AL the last 5 years. His OBP is'nt excellent, but at around .370 every year it's pretty good, and he hits .300 with some pop. Stewart bats only from the right side, but handles righties and lefties equally well. This year his splits are a bit out of whack..

vs Left 115 AB .365 .415 .557
vs Right 330 AB .288 .344 .436

but we get a better idea of his ability over a three year span...

2000-2002
vs Left 385 AB .314 .376 .462
vs Right 1415 AB .312 .367 .477

Quite simply, Stewart can hit. He's virtually a lock to hit .300, puts up a ton of doubles, double digit home runs, and has a solid BB/K ratio. Except for his power, which has varied from year to year, he's very consistent. His OBPs the last seven years are .368, .377, .371, .363, .371, .371, and .363 Like Cameron, Stewart can likley be signed for a reasonable price because of the current market in baseball. He's 29, so a 3-4 year deal would'nt be a problem. He would slot nicely into right field, and the lead off spot. Then Reyes could bat 2nd, see some pitches, and hopefully learn more plate discipline without the pressure of batting leadoff.

In the best case scenario, we could sign Cameron and Stewart, both to 3-4 year deals worth 6-7 millin a year. Similar to the Cliff FLoyd contract. That would give us a line up that looked something like this.

Stewart
Reyes
Piazza
Floyd
Cameron
Phillips
Scutaro(for lack of a more likely option, and wishful thinking)
Wigginton

That's a pretty good lineup. I dare say it would finish somewhere near the top in runs scored if everyone stays healthy. Maybe not top 3, but somewhere very respectable. Even if Reyes and Phillips struggle, Stewart, Floyd, Piazza, Cameron would for one of the better cores in the leauge.

Ok, it's late, i've wirtten alot tongiht, and i've covered our major hole, the outfield. Tommorow i'll write the second part of this article, covering secondary needs. Some are speculating we'll go after a starting pitcher, and a second or third basemen is still an option.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Marco Scutaro went 2 for 3 tonight in the Mets loss to the Padres, including a lead off home run in the fifth. The Watch has been updated accordingly. Scutaro has been nothing short of outstanding so far. It is a tiny sample size of course, but the strong BB/K ratio is a good sign. A couple more multi hit games and i think Scuatro is finally going to find himself playing every day. I hope Jose Reyes watches him closely.

When they first brought him up the Mets seemed concerned with making sure Reyes had good influences around him, so i think it's worth noting that you could'nt ask for a better ones then he's got right now. His fellow middle infielders are Joe McEwing, the ultimate hard worker, and Marco Scutaro, who makes a living by working the count and getting good pitches to hit. Cliff FLoyd set an example this year by having the dedication to play through tremendous pain. And then there's Tom Glavine, one of the most respected people in the game. He can learn alot from all of them, as well as others on the team.

Speaking of Tom Glavine, he had an excellent start wasted tonight when Mike Stanton gave up a two run homer to Phil Nevin in the eighth. Glavine went 6 2/3 innings, giving up 6 hits and 1 run. He struck out 5 and walked 3. Glavine's got his ERA for the year down to a respectable 4.55. Not exactly what you want from your ten million dollar a year pitcher, but at least he's getting near the leauge average. He's been lights out this month, in 3 starts he's pitched 18.2 innings with a 0.96 ERA, including six scoreless innings at Shea. If Glavine could get Questec out of his head, most of his problems would go away. He's got a 3.53 ERA in 74 road innings and a 5.70 ERA in 66.1 innings at home. His home run, hit, and walk rate are all higher at home, and his stike out rate lower. Basically he's been awful at home, and good old dependable Tom Glavine on the road.

According to Lee Sinnis's wonderful Around the Majors reports, and his Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) metric, Glavine is down to -7 RSAA for the season. A good final six weeks and he might even get back to neutral. " Baby steps Bob, baby steps"

While we're on the subject. Jose Reyes has become the fifth met to have a positive Runs Created Above Average (RCAA), with a + 3. If your curious, the others are Cliff FLoyd(18), Mike Piazza(15), Jason Phillips(11), and Jeromy Burnitz(10).

My next article will be a long one on the upcoming free agent market. Unless something else comes up of course.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Well I'm done moving, and just got the internet back. I'll have something up tonight. The Marco Scutaro watch has been updated
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Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Mets pounded on Colorado today, 13-4. Their hot hitting continued, led by Cliff FLoyd and Timo Perez with four RBI each. Jason Phillips had 3 RBI, and phenom Jose Reyes continued his amazing play with 3 hits and 3 runs scored. Joe McEwing went 0-4 with a walk while Marco Scutaro wasted away on he bench. Jae Weong Seo won his first game in his last ten starts, giving up four runs and seven hits over five innings. He struck out one, walked noone and gave up one home run. The Mets have now won eight of their last 11, mostly on he strength of their hot bats. Jason Phillips is up to .326 for the year, Reyes to .311. Our batting average for August is .305 as a team, led by Reyes (.400) and Cedeno (.375)

I wonder how many 20 year olds have come up and hit as well as Reyes has, but I'm not really sure how to check until Baseball Reference updates for the 2003 season. I'd also like to compare this to the first half a season for A-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, and Tejada. I can't find a source for splits that far back though. If anyone knows of one, please email me. Otherwise i'll continue my search, and once i have them, i'll post a comparison of Reyes to the aforemented shortstops in their first however many at bats. Either way, what Reyes is doing is pretty damn impressive. He's at .311 .328 .429 (.757 2 HR, 12 2B, 4 3B, 34 R, 28 RBI, 24 K, 7 BB, 11 SB, 2 CS) And that's after an awful June, in which he had 73 at bats and hit .205 .211 .342.(.553) He took no walks and struck out 12 times. Then, everything changed. He caught fire in June, hitting .330 .340 .418(.758) for the month. He took only 1 free pass, but struck out just 7 times, a huge decrease in his k rate from June. He's continued the dramatic improvement in August. Reyes is making a bid for player of the month in August, let alone rookie of the month. He's had 50 at bats so far, and is hitting .400 .444 .520(.964) He's walked 4 times, and struck out 5. He's also stolen 5 bases without being caught.

I argued that Reyes should be returned to Norfolk, and i still believe that at the time, all the evidence suggested that that was best for his developement. Now though, there is no doubt, Reyes is here to stay. What he's done since his slow start is astonishing. His OBP is still a measly .328, and he's still at .258 batting from the right side, but he's shown improvement in both areas, and otherwise he is tearing it up. He's hitting .324 from the left, .372 with runners on, .386 with RISP, and .322 when leading off an inning. It's a bit early to start making comparison, Reyes is young, brand new to the majors and all his skills can be expected to improve, especially his power, but when he bats from the left side Reyes reminds me of Ichiro. He's agressive, makes very good contact, does'nt walk or strike out a whole lot, sprays hits to all areas of the field, and creates absolute havoc in the defense with his speed. More on this when i find the information i want.

For those of you who are familiar with Clay Davenport's fabulous work with EqA and RARP over at Baseball Prospectus, Marco Scutaro was eight in the International Leauge in RARP with 31.3. For the unitiated, that essentially means he's been 31.3 runs better then an average replacement player with the same number of outs made. Among those with signifigant at bats, he is 4th in EqA at .332. That reflects the fact that Norfolk is a strong pitchers park. The international leauge average EqA is .270 for third basemen, and .272 for second basemen. Scutaro's major leauge equivalent EqA is .282. For a point of reference, the average EqA for major leauge first basemen is .285 this year. So adjusting for leauge and park factors, Scutaro has been about a good a hitter as your average major leauge first basemen. Except he's not a first basemen, he plays second or third. The average EqA for major leauge second basemen this year is .264, and it is .263 for third basemen. So scutaro has actually beena good deal better of a hitter then the average major leauger at his poistions. So remind me again why he is STILL not playing every day, and is looked at as a utility guy?

While we're on the topic of minor leauge EqA's, an update on our two third base prospects.

David Wright is 7th in the Florida State Leauge with 34.3 RARP. He has an EqA of .320, compared to the leauge average of .285 for third basemen. It should be noted though that third base is a very strong position in the FSL right now. .285 is the highest EqA for any position in the leauge.

Aaron Baldiris is ninth in the South Atlantic leauge with 38.5 RARP. He has an EqA of .319, compared to a leauge average of .275 for third basemen.

One other thing i wanted to talk about.

Last year was supposed to be Miguel Tejada's breakout year, the season which he put it all together and emerged as the superstar everyone expects him to be. Of course, Tejada has struggled a great deal this year, and only very recently is he starting to hit well. While i was taking a look at the beginning of his career, to try and compare it to Reyes, i started looking through Tejada's career stats, and it occured to me that last year was his only truly stand out season. Starting in his first year wtih extensive at bats:

1998 .233 .298 .384 (.682) 11 / 45 (HR/RBI)
1999 .251 .325 .427 (.752) 21 / 84
2000 .275 .349 .479 (.828) 30 / 115
2001 .267 .326 .476 (.802) 31 / 113
2002 .308 .354 .508 (.862) 34 / 131
2003 .257 .310 .426 (.736) 17 / 75

Career .267 .327 .453 (.780)

Tejada is now 27. He could still continue to imrpove, but chances are he's done most of his developing at this age, especially given his major leauge experience. He's had good a good OPS three years in a row, but all of them make his season's look better then they were, because the OBP's are low, and of course OBP is the more important factor in OPS. Only last year was truly a very good year, and even their his OBP is mediocre at best. He has been an excellent power hitter and run producer, and any team would be happy to slot 35 HR's and more then 100 RBI into their 5 hole despite the low on base numbers, especially from a shortstop. Power hitting is all he does well though. He's an excellent 5 or 6 hitter, but his avearge( excluding last year) and OBP are'nt high enough to bat in the top 3 or 4 on a team with a good offense. Now once again, his value is greatly inflated because he's a shortstop, and a good one, but looking at his stats, he's only had one really great year. Sure, he's topped 30 home runes and 100 RBI three years in a row, and even to me, and addmited stat junkie that means something. But last year was the only year he had an average higher then .275 an OBP better then .350 or a SLG greater then .500. (Granted, his SLG was only higher because of his batting average, His IsoP has been consistent around 200 for the last 3 years, and he actually walked at a lower rate then any year of his career.) It was supposed to be his breakout year, but now he's having his worst year since 1999. Certainly Tejada is'nt as bad as he has been most of this year, he's a very good player, an excellent shortop who hits for alot of power. But I'm starting to wonder if he will ever be consistently as good as he was last year, ever rise to the superstar everyone expected him to, or if maybe that .270/.340/.475 guy is the real Tejada, and not the one who hit .300 last year. I'm also wondering how many teams are starting to think about that, and how much money he'll actually get in the offseason.


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Thursday, August 14, 2003

With all the talk about Pete Rose, and the report by Baseball Prospectus saying a deal has been reached for his reinstatement, i figured i'd weigh in on the issue...

First let me say that i believe it's rather obvious Pete Rose bet on baseball, and on the Reds on occasion, though probably only to win. I don't know whether or not Dowd was "out to get" Rose or not, and I don't think it really matters. Whether Dowd was trying to find something to get Rose on, or he was fairly investigating the situation without any bias is irrelevant. He did'nt frabricate the extensive eveidence against Pete Rose. If the evidence was'nt there to be found, then the commisioner could have hired the FBI to investigate Rose, and it would'nt have helped.

So i believe he bet on baseball, and even worse, on his own team. The question then is does that warrant his lifetime suspension. MLB's rules are quite clear on this, without going to find all the fancy language they use; betting on baseball gets you a one year suspension, betting on any game on which you can have an effect on the outcome gets you a lifetime ban. Gambling is the cardinal sin in baseball. It's unacceptable in any sport of course, but in baseball it has an even greater stigma attached to it. The Black Sox scandal almost destroyed the game, and baseball has never forgotten it. To this day, more then 80 years later, it's effects are felt in every clubhouse, where the rule on gambling is posted. Betting on the game is the worst thing you can do in baseball. If you do it, you get thrown out. Pete Rose knew it, every baseball player since 1919 has known it. Changing the rules to let Rose back in, simply because of his popularity would be an insult to the integrity of the game. This man bet on games he managed, and we're going to allow him back into a position where he could do so again?! That's insane.

I don't think Rose should ever be allowed to work in baseball again, but there is still the matter of the Hall of Fame. I believe this is a seperate issue from working in baseball again. Cooperstown is a shrine to the game, a home to the greatest players (and managers/broadcasters) to ever grace a baseball diamond. Now, i could go on some long rant about how it's for the best performers on the field and that if we were to consider what kind of people they were Ty Cobb would'nt be in yada yada yada. You've heard it all before. Here is all i have to say on whether or not Pete Rose belongs in the Hall.

4,256 Hits

It happened, they exist. Someone passed Ty Cobb. How can that not be represented in Cooperstown?
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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

For the first time since John Olerud went back to Seattle, the Mets are hitting. At the All Star break the Mets were 15th in the National Leauge in runs scored, ahead of only the Dodgers. Since the All Star break, the Mets are tied for 7th in the leauge with the Reds. What's really strange is we're doing it hitting for less power, and with a slightly lower walk rate then we had before the all star break. We are just getting alot more hits. Before the break the Mets hit .249 .316 .391, after the break we are hitting .271 .333 .388. Our pre all star game ranks were 14th in avg, 15th in OBP, and 14th in SLG. Since then we are 3rd in avg, 8th in OBP, and 12th in SLG. The drop in power can be attributed to the loss of Burnitz, and Cliff Floyd losing at bats to injury. As for the rise in batting average:

Jose Reyes is following up his excellent July with an even better August. He's hitting .378 .439 .432 in the month, and best of all he's taken four walks to only three strike outs. Reyes is now hitting .337 .368 .416 since the break, with 4 2B, 2 3B, 5 RBI, 18 Runs, 8 K, and 5 BB. He's also stolen eight bases without being caught. After going 2 for 4 tonight against the Giants, Reyes is up to a .298 average for the year.

Jason Phillips continues his hot hitting as well. He's up to an EqA of .300, compared to the leauge average of .254 for catchers, or .286 for first basemen. Since the break he's hitting .345 .400 .460, and for the year he's hitting .326 .397 .475.

Jow McEwing has gotten 57 at bats since the break, breaking out of his two year long "slump" by hitting .333 .415 .474, and earning himself more starts at second base.

Tony Clark has had 51 at abts and is hitting .314 .386 .627 with five home runs.

Timo Perez has also had 51 at bats and is hitting .294 .351 .392.

In what might be the sixth sign of the apocalypse, Roger Cedeno is hitting .333 .338 .474 in 78 at bats since the midsummer classic. He's still not getting on abse at any kind of decent rate, but hey, he's hitting .333.

Phillips has been doing this for most of the year now, and we all know Reyes has the talent, but everyone else on that list is playing above their head. Only Perez can be expected to not suffer a large drop off in his numbers, provided he continues to only play against right handed pitching. Joe McEwing is a fan favorite, plays hard, and can play every position, including catcher in an emergency, so he has his uses. He's not going to continue to hit like this though. Tony Clark will continue to provide some pop, and a punchers chance in pinch hit situations, but he's not going to conintue to hit above .300. He's a career .269 hitter, and is at .241 this year. He is slugging .513 though. Like i said, great pinch hitter who gives you a punchers chance. Roger Cedeno, well, he's Roger Cedeno. You should'nt need any further explanation.

So don't expect this to continue, but it bodes real well for the future that the two guys most responsible for this offesnive ressurgence are rookies. In fact, they're a rookie catcher, and a 20 year old rookie shortstop. If you've gotta play out the rest of a lost season, in which you completely and utterly suck, watching two rookies at the two most premium defensive positions tear it up with the bat is a pretty good way to do it.

A few notes:

Mike Piazza played two innings at first base Sunday night in one of his rehab games at Norfolk. It looks like this is really going to happen, if not this season then next. It's about damn time too.

I'm officially adding the Marco Scutaro watch to to my sidebar. I'll be keeping daily track of all his statistics, and giving regular updates on whether or not all that minor leauge hitting translates to major leauge success for everyone's favorite over achiever.

So far Scutaro is 7 for 18 with 1 HR, 2 2B, 4 K, 4 BB (.333 .455 .611 for a 1.066 OPS) after his call up. all numbers on the Scutaro watch will be his numbers since this most recent call up, and will not reflect the 17 at bats he had earlier this year.

Aaron Heilman pitched tonight against the Giants, and while not stellar, he was far better then he has been. He pitched 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, and 3 runs. He struck out 7, walked 3, and got taken deep once by Bonds, Barry Bonds.

Speaking of Mr. Bonds, his two home runs tonight ( second off of Weathers) gives him 37 for the year, and 650 for his career. Soak it up folks, we're watching one of the five best players ever, and at this point, the almost certain future Home Run King of baseball. He'll break Rickey Henderson's walk record next year, and should approach his run record shortly after passing Aaron's 755. At the end of this Giants contract he should be near Aaron's extra base hit record. It's even possible Barry will go to an American leauge team after the end of his Giants contract, and continue to produce as a DH for two or three years. Then we'll have start talking about Aarons RBI and total base, and Pete Rose's times on base mark. He's unlikely to reach any of the three, but given what Barry's doing right now, are you willing to bet against him being a productive DH four years from now?

Bonds may get to 800 home runs, has over 500 stolen bases, is going to have 2,000 RBI, and probably 3,000 hits too. He's won eight gold gloves and five MVPs. Simply amazing. He is fourth all time in career OPS+ at 177( meaning over the course of his career, Barry's OPS is 77% better then his leauge average) behind Ruth, Williams, and Gehrig. Thats some pretty good company.


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Sorry for the lack of updates the last few days. I'm in the process of moving this week, so things are busy, but i'm going to set some time aside tonight to write an article
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Friday, August 08, 2003

This blog has now been up for one month. I'd like to thank everyone whose visited, especially those of you who come daily to read my ramblings. 850 visitors was beyond my greatest expectations for my first month. Quite frankly, i would've been happy had anyone other then my brother noticed my little site. I hope you've all enjoyed reading my stuff as much as i have writing it, and i look forward to doing this more many months to come.

On to today's article. I was talking about the Mets with a couple of friends of mine, when i mentioned that i thought Jim Duquette getting the permanent GM job is probably only a formality right now. Neither of them are Mets fans, but they were surprised by this, and questioned me for an explanation. After the conversation, it occured to me that i mentioned the same thing on this blog a few days ago, and perhaps some people here were a bit surprised by my comment as well. Here then is my look at some of the potential candidates for the Mets GM job, and why i see Duquette keeping it.

In no particular order:

Billy Beane

I think everyone who reads this site has probably figured out that i'm a big fan of Billy Beane and the organization he's put together in Oakland. The first of the modern GMs to be greatly influenced by Bill James and sabermetric analysis, Beane has built the A's into perrenial contenders on one of the games lowest payrolls by turning Oakland into one of baseball's best talent producing organizations. They've already turned out Giambi, Chavez, Tejada, Hudson, Zito, Mulder, and now Rich Harden. Oakland continues to have one of the strongest farm systems in the game, both in top prospects and system depth. In many ways, Beane is perfect for the Mets job. He's an accomplished GM who would bring immediate credibility back to the organization. He's proven his ability to build a succesful farm system, which is the most important thing in the Mets rebuilding process. He's shown a talent for so called bottom feeding, picking the best players off the worst teams when they choose to trade rather then pay them. In consecutive years he got Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye from the Royals. He even managed to sign Dye, which should have been a great move. You can't blame him because Dye has inexplicably stopped hitting, same as we can't blame Steve Phillips for Alomar. Beane has also proved to be among the most innovative GMs on the trade market. He is a master at networking with his fellow GMs to pull off 3 and even 4 team deals. There has not been a year in which Oakland was in conention that Beane did'nt make a move to improve his team, and while he is always willing to part with talent to get what he wants, Beane has never sacrificed a player who was of any great importance to Oakland's future. That's a tribute both to his skills as a negotiater and the depth of the farm system he's built. He has everything the Mets could want in a GM.

Enough about his credentials though, because the real question with Beane is could he be lured from Oakland? The answer is probably no, given Boston's failure last year, but we should at least explore the possiblity because of Beane's link to the Mets. He spent his time as a player in the Mets farm system, and greatly admired then GM Frank Cashen, so it's at least possible that the Mets job would hold some personal interest for Beane.


Brian Sabean

The other current GM mentioned for every big opening that arises, Sabean is regarded as one of the game's best executives. He has consistently put together playoff caliber 90 plus win teams on payrolls that usually rank in the top 10, but never in the top 5. With alot of help from Barry Bonds, and excellent owenership, Sabean has overseen the return to prominence of the once almost dead Giants organization. He does a superb job of replacing parts year after year to maintain a good rotation and a solid line up around Bonds, by making smart choices on veterans and free agents, and by not getting commited to many long term contracts, allowing for alot of flexibility every year. He also does well on the trade market, always looking to improve his team at the deadline. Two years ago it was Jason Shmidt, and this year he got Sidney Ponson for the stretch drive. You can't argue with Sabean's results,but the one real knock him is that the Giants have'nt produced many young players in his tenure there. He's done a fabulous job building teams year after year, but in a decade now has'nt developed any other stars to compliment Bonds.

It's well known that Sabean would love to return to the East Coast, and would probably be very interested in the Mets job. Noone is really sure how long he is commited to San Francisco for though, and Giants owner Peter Magowan is a huge baseball fan that knows he's got a good GM, and would be very reluctant to let him go.

Gerry Hunsicker

He's not as talked about as Sabean, but Hunsicker has been putting together playoff caliber teams in Houston for years now with a middle of the road payroll. He was also the Mets assistant GM before being hired away by Houston. Hunsicker's strength in his tenure with Houston has been player developement. Bagwell and Biggio have provided much needed stability for the team, but the reason they win is because the farm system continues to produce. Most recently we've seen the emergence of Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller, and Tim Redding. Hunsicker has also shown a willingness to "think outside the box" something I'm always a fan of. Oswalt and Redding were over looked by many teams because of the stigma on right handers less then six feet tall, but it did'nt discourage Houston. That's not exactly ground breaking, but it's a good sign that Hunsicker is'nt bound by "conventional baseball wisdom".

I've not heard any specific comments on Hunsicker's interest in the job, but id the Mets come calling, my guess is he'd probably be intrigued by a return to New York. Houston owner Drayton Mclane would probably prefer to keep Hunsicker, but it's almost certain something could be worked out as compensation.

Paul DePodesta
Just 29, DePodesta is Billy Beane's top assistant, and one of, if not the top GM prospect in baseball. DePodesta is extraordinarily intelligent. After graduating from Harvard with an Economics degree, he took an intern job for the Indians in the winter of 1995. He was an advance scout by '97, and got hired away by Beane in November of '98. Since then Beane has more or less groomed him to be a GM. He is involved in every facet of the Oakland organization, from trades, to the farm system, to finances. When Beane almost took the Boston job last year, it was such a given that DePodesta would succeed him in Oakland, that Beane and DePodesta actually negotiated the compensation for Oakland to let Beane out of his contract. He was considered the favorite for the Toronot job before it went to Beane's other top advisor, J.P. Ricciardi.

Beane would be very reluctant to lose DePodesta, but will not deny him the oppurtunity to pursue a GM job. If we don't pursue him, expect someone else to do so soon.

Omar Minaya
Minaya was Mets assistant GM before being hired away by MLB to run the expos last year. He is regarded as an excellent baseball mind, and is obviously very familiar with the Mets organization. I still think he blew the Colon deal this year by overplaying his hand with the Red Sox and Yankees, but overall Minaya has done a very good job in a difficult situation. I also give him alot of credit for aquiring Colon ( and Cliff Floyd) in the first place. Don't let his gung ho mentalist in Montreal fool you though. While Minaya is very agressive on the trade market, he's also a very accomplished scout and farm system director. As assistant GM, Minaya was the director of latin american scouting for the Mets. He was the one that signed Jose Reyes.

Minaya is still on excellent terms with the Wilpons and the Mets front office, and you have to believe he'd be interested in a return trip to New York.

Jim Duquette

We all know Duquette, so i'll keep this brief. He was assistant GM and in charge of the farm system before being promoted to take over for Steve Phillips as interm GM. He is considered one of the best GM prospects in baseball, and his people skills are unanimously praised.

Ok, here's how i see this:

Oakland can be convinced to let Beane go, but we probably can't convince Beane to come. We'd have to offer him full control, something that Fred Wilpon will be reluctant to do, given the prominent role of his son Jeff in the organization. Something would have to be worked out where Jeff would run the business end of things without interfering in any way with Beane's control over baseball matters.

Sabean would love to come back to the east coast, but Magowan is'nt going to let him go without alot of compensation. Probably alot more then we're willing to offer unless Wilpon is really in love with him.

Hunsicker is a very good GM, and would be a fine choice, but there's just no reason for the Mets to reach to reach to such an old relationship with the presence of Minaya and Duquette.

DePodesta would be a wonderful choice, would require no compensation, and there's no doubt he'd take the job if offered. Had the Mets waited till the end of the season to fire Steve Phillips, i think DePodesta would have been a serious candidate, but i just can't see the Wilpons making a switch to anyone but an already established GM now that Duqutte has been acting as interm general manager.

Basically, i think this comes down to Omar Minaya and Jim Duquette. It's hard to tell just how much the Wilpons like Minaya. They were reluctant to let him go to Montreal, but there was an extraordinary amount of pressure on them to let him do so because the Expos are owned by MLB, and because he was the most qualified minority candidate. On the other hand, it's pretty obvious how the Wilpons feel about Duquette. They denied him permission to talk to the Dodgers about there GM position two years ago. Executives are denied permission to interview jobs all the time, but exceptions are almost always made when the job in question is GM of one of baseball's elite organizations. The Dodgers job is one of the five best in baseball, and it says a lot that the Mets did'nt let Duquette interview for it. What it really boils down to though is that Duquette is here. He's already got an excellent working relationship with Jeff Wilpon, he's started the rebuilding process, and so far other GMs have nothing but good things to say. Unless a superstar GM like Beane can be lured, there's just no reason for the Mets to go looking elsewhere when they've got one of the best GM prospects in baseball sitting right here.
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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Another note from looking through July's stats, and what a difference a few weeks can make.

Barry Bonds just had the best month of any baseball player this year. It's only 65 at bats, but check this out.

.415 .581 1.000 (1.581 OPS) 11 HR, 5 2B, 26 BB, 10 K, 21 RBI

At the all star break, ALbert Pujols was everyone's pick for MVP. After that month from Bonds, it's a whole lot closer.

Here's how they stack up:

Bonds 300 AB(413 PA) .330 .511 .723 34 HR, 71 RBI, 14 2B, 1 3B, 104 BB, 47 K, 216 TB
Pujols 418 AB(478 PA) .373 .441 .682 30 HR, 99 RBI, 39 2B, 0 3B, 49 BB, 40 K, 282 TB

Bonds leads the majors in on base percantage, slugging percentage( and obviously in OPS), home runs, and walks. Pujols leads the majors in batting averae, doubles, extra base hits, and total bases. He is third in on base percentage, second in slugging(second in OPS), and tied for fifth in home runs(3rd in the NL).

For my fellow stat junkies, Bonds leads in RC/27(14.18 to 11.34), and .EqA(.406 to .366) He also leads in Lee Sinnis' RCAA, but unfortuantely i don't have the last update saved to give you the actual numbers ( For the non stat junkies, EqA- Equivalent Average. A measure of total offensive value per out, with corrections for league offensive level, home park, and team pitching. RC/27 estimates how many runs per game a team made up of nine of the same player would score.)

This is still to close to call, and of course could all change against over the remainder of the season, but it presents an interesting comparison. People who prefer to evaluate baseball in a more traditional manner might very well argue that Pujols is having the better, or more valuable season. He's played more, he's got a big edge in batting average and RBI and total bases. He's in serious contention for the triple crown. On the other hand, those of us whose who prefer statistical analysis stare in awe at the .511 OBP .723 SLG and .406 EqA, and say once again Bonds is clearly the best offensive player in baseball. It will be interesting to see which way the voters go. Right now i think you have to give the edge in the voting to Pujols because of the traditional views of some of the voters, and their natural reluctance to give Bonds his third straight MPV, and sixth overall. As far as who deserves it, i can respect the argument for Pujols because of the shot at the triple crown, and the .373 average, but Bonds power and walks are too much for this admitted stat junkie, i think he's been the better hitter.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I was perusing through July's splits, and figured i'd write on some of the more notable things.

Any thoughts that Al Leiter was done should be gone, as Leiter just wrapped up a brilliant couple of weeks. In 19 innings he went 2-0 giving up 14 H, 0 HR, and only 2 ER, with an ERA of 0.95 He had 16K and 10 BB. The walks are a bit high, but then Leiter has always had fairly high walk totals, so that's nothing out of the ordinary. He's striking out 7.58 hitters per nine, and giving up few enough hits to keep his WHIP a respectable 1.26. Looks likes his struggles really were the result of injuries. Good to have you back Senator Al.

Jason Phillips continues to get stronger with regular playing time, hitting .343 .391 .524 with 4 HR and 11 2B in 105 at bats. He aslo led the team with 18 RBI in the month. Combined with Vance Wilson's massive slump: .179 .247 .254 with 3 2B and 1 3B in 67 July at bats, is making Phillips more and more likely to be our starting catcher next year. Or at least the guy splitting time with Mike Piazza. Phillips is younger, obviously the better hitter and though not quite as good as Wilson, a competent defensive catcher. He's also Jae Weong Seo's personal catcher, so assuming Seo is starting next year, he has to catch every fifth day anyway. Given his minor leauge track record, it's quite possible that Jason Phillips is having his career year right now. He may never live up to these numbers again, but you've gotta give him the shot. Especially if he can catch every day without wearing down. Of course that remains to be seen, Vance Wilson is evidence of what catching every day can do to a player over the course of the season. Wilson should remain around as a good defensive back up.

Jose Reyes had a very impressive month, hitting .330 .340 .418 with 4 2B and 2 3B in 91 at bats. He's still not taking any walks and his IsoP is a measly .088, but he's striking out less, and well, he hit .330. I've always said OBP is by far baseball's most important statistics for hitters, and it is, but any 20 year shortstop who hits .330 over a month in the majors gets a free pass. The walks would be lovely, but it just seems to me that complaining about something after he hit .330 in July would be looking for faults. He's raised his average to .282 for the year, and is hitting .303 as a lefty, but is still struggling from the right side of the plate, hitting just .236. His IsoP (.104) and XBH% ( 24%) are both low, and if anything they reflect his power as better then it has been, because at least a couple of his doubles are the result of his speed, not the hits. That said, he has shown some pop on occasion, has good bat speed, and at just 20, we are only seeing a small part of his power potential. Basically, his power so far is off of raw skills, and as his body fills out we can expect a lot more of those singles to become extra base hits and home runs. I've argued for a long time that Reyes belongs in the minors, and i still think that's the best place for him to learn plate discipline. If he keeps hitting like this though, there is no doubt he's here to stay, and rightly so.

Ty Wigginton has taken a big downturn, hitting .245 .284 .333 with 1 HR and 6 2B in 102 at bats during July. Both his .avg and IsoP have gone way down this month, dragging his overall numbers down to .269 .318 .407. I think this is just the expected struggles of a rookie, especially one who still has some troubles with strike zone judgement. Pitchers have seen Wigginton now, and they're just not throwing him as many strikes. Most every rookie goes through this, so it's not a real cause for worry. It's now up to Wigginton to make the adjustments and prove he belongs in the big leauges.

Jae Weong Seo had an awful month. His strike out rate actually went up, but opposing hitters batter .300 against him, his walk rate and home runs given up both increased, and he had an ERA of 6.61. That was after months with ERA's of 3.18, 3.00 and 3.12. I think that perhaps Seo is starting to tire, starting to feel the effects of pitching a full season in the big leauges just a year and a half removed from tommy john surgery. He may just be having a bad stretch, but if he does'nt turn it around i would consider limiting his innings the rest of the year. It will only hurt his confidence to continue to get shelled, and we want him fresha nd healthy for next year, when he should be fully recovered from the surgery, and ready to pitch a full season in the majors. He's already at 128 innings pitched, Limiting him to 150 or 160 innings this year would be plenty for a rookie.

Aaron Heilman got shelled this month, with an ERA of 7.96 in 31.2 innings. He gave up 40 hits, an astounding 28 earned runs, and 6 HR. He struck out 25 and walked 18. Heilman's major leauge debut has obviously been something less then succesful, as he's getting hit hard, and walking far to many batters. The one good thing is that he's maintained the strikeouts, sitting batters down at a rate of 7.11 per nine in July. He's pitched very poorly, but one should never rely on sample sizes this small, and the strong strike out rate still suggests a good future. most important thing here will be his walks returning to there minor leauge levels.

Jeff Duncan came back to earth, hitting .246 for the month in 57 at bats. He struck out 15 times, but maintained a strong on base percentage of .377 though, thanks to 11 walks.

Joe McEwing, for all the talk of replacing him with Marco Scutaro, enjoyed a very solid month. In 54 at bats he hit .296 .400 .426 with 1 HR, 4 2B , 9 BB, and 10 SO. It could'nt come at a better time for him either, because with all the kids coming up, Super Joe would'nt have kept his job much longer if he was still hovering around the Mendoza line.

Finally being used in the platoon role he's best suited to, Timo Perez is starting to show his value. He went on a tear in July, hitting .339 .377 .484 in 62 at bats, with 1 HR, 6 2B 5 BB and only 3 SO. He obviously is'nt this good, but it should'nt be a surprise to anyone that Perez is a prductive hitter now that he only plays against right handed pitching. In 380 at bats vs right handers last year, Perez hit .318 .352 .479, with 8 HR, 25 2B, 6 3B, 28 K , and 19 BB. He's always hit righties well, and even has a surprising amount of power against them. If we don't find a better solution between now and then, i think Perez could make a very nice half of a center field platoon in 2004.
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Monday, August 04, 2003

Thanks again to Avkash, for providing me with the rest of the Mets Minor Leauge park factors. Here's an interesting one...

Buffalo 1003
Charlotte 1008
Columbus 1006
Durham 977
Indianapolis 1038
Louisville 1002
Norfolk 963
Ottawa 963
Pawtucket 982
Richmond 1000
Rochester 995
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 984
Syracuse 1035
Toledo 1023

So in a leauge full of neutrals, we play in one of the only biased parks, a pretty solid pitchers park. This made me wonder if maybe Marcos Scuatro is playing even better in AAA then his overall numbers suggest. And if you believe in splits, he probably is:

Home : 125 AB .296 3 HR, 7 2B, 2 3B
Away: 119 AB .328 6 HR, 11 2B, 1 3B

Seems like Norfolk is negatively effecting both his batting average and his power numbers, and the guy's still slugging .520.

I love Joe cEwing. I think it's great that someone with such limited natural talent has made a career in the majors for himself through an amazing amount of hard work and dedication, but seriously it's time for him to stop getting at bats. If you believe in the conversion of minor leauge statistics, and all the evidence says we should, then Scutaro would have been one of the best hitting second basemen in baseball ths year. He's only 27, can we please give this kid a real shot?

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Saturday, August 02, 2003

Streinbrenner is at it again. Word is that the Yankees did the Aaron Boone deal because they were convinced Boston was going turn him into Freddy Garcia. Hey George, stop worrying about what Boston is doing and start worrying about the giant black hole that is your right field situation.
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Thanks to The Eddie Kranepool Society for the reminder that yesterday was cash in day on Mo Vaughn's insurance policy! That's $3.6 million to spend in the offseason : ) Now let's all start hoping tha Vaughn does'nt even attempt to play next year, and insurance will pay 16.3 of the remaining 17 million on his contract.
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Friday, August 01, 2003

Oh how i love the trade deadline. Even in the worst of seasons, like this one, it provides excitement. It gives us a reason to dream about future seasons, and sparks many a debate over how to make those dreams come true for your team. Unless the Mets are in the pennant race, this is without a doubt my favorite time of the baseball season. So with that said, i'd like to give my review of how the Mets, and some other teams did in this year's trade market.

We'll begin, naturally, with the Mets.

I give Jim Duquette alot of credit here, given the circumstances i think he did a good job. He had just been promoted to the GM position. All our trading chips were on the wrong side of 30, and most had some kind of issue. It's also pretty obvious that Wilpon ordered the Mets under the luxury tax threshold. The commisioner's office calculates payrolls based on the 40 man roster, and add $7,552,271 to cover health benefits, pensions, etc. All multi year contracts are counted as the average anual value of the contact, not the actual salary that year. The luxury tax threshold this year is $117 million. The Mets came in at $116,253,927. ( If your wondering, the Yankees came in at $180,322,403) It's pretty obvious the Mets wanted under that 117 million line. I don't think this was strictly about money though, at least not the money it would cost Wilpon this year. He has shown the willingness to go above the tax line in an attempt to win. If things had gone right this year, and we were in the pennant race, we'd be paying the luxury tax just on the players we had, regardless of any salary we might have taken on at the deadline. It seems that this was all about getting under the threshold this season, because we're not going anywhere. So that if the payroll has to go this high again when we are ready to compete, we won't be "second time offenders" and draw an even higher tax rate.

Based on that, this is how i see what happened. Duquette was left to get as much as he could, while dumping a certain amount of salary. When Chicago offered Royce Ring, he decided to pay the Alomar salary, and get the A prospect. Burnitz did us a favor and went on a tear, raising his value to the point where we were able to get the Dodgers to take on $2 million of the contract, and give us a B/B+ infield prospect, plus two live arms with good track records. He then had to dump Benitez to get under the tax threshold. Once the Alomar deal was done, i think Duquette realized he was'nt going to get very much in return, because he had to dump so much salary. So he got the best prospect he could (Victor Diaz), then aquired as many power arms as possible. He said himself that the Mets system is low in power arms, and he's trying to improve an organizational weakness. Which is true, but all Duquette is really doing is searching for a diamond in the rough. Stock up enough live arms, and every so often you'll find a gem. Dontrelle Willis was a throw in in last years Cubs-Marlins deal. If you've gotta dump slary and take a bunch of mediocre prospects, you might as well get as many power pitchers as possible. Overall, i think Duquette got a good return given how much salary he had to get teams to pay. He got an excellent lefty closer prospect in Royce Ring, a good infield prospect in Victor Diaz, and a bunch of guys that can throw real hard. At least a couple of them should wind being productive pitchers, and just maybe one will emerge as something more. I still would have liked to see at least one decent outfield prospect, but i can't argue with the logic in what Duquette did.

Neither the Grame Lloyd or the Rey Sanchez trade are of any real signifigance, but i give him credit for being able to get a warm body back for Sanchez. The one real mistake i believe Duquette made was not marketing Traschel. As is often the case, starting pitching was this year's most valuable commodity. We could have gotten a solid return on Traschel, and restocked the farm system even more. Alone he was worth at least one good prospect. Packaged with a reliever, he could've gotten us an A prospect, or a solid package. Trading him also would have freed up a slot in the 2004 rotation for the starter alot of people expect us to go after this winter, without costing either Heilman or Seo a spot. As it stands now, bringing in a Millwood or Colon would mean only one spot for those two to compete over.

I would have liked to see the Mets aquire as much talent as possible, money be damned. Its not my check book though, and it's not Jim Duquette's either, so i cant fault him for that. He made us younger, and cheaper, and got at least two more good prospects for the system while following Wilpon's order to get under the tax line. He gets excellent reviews from his fellow GMs, who say he is easy to talk to and deal with, in stark contrast to Steve Phillips. And so far at least, he seems to be placing an emphasis on the farm system and developing young talent, which is always a good thing. Alot of the so called experts think that we did'nt get very much back in terms of prospects for our players. I look at it this way though, neither Burnitz, Alomar, or Benitez would have been back next year. This season is lost, and all they'll do here is get paid to help us lose. So in return for three players we don't want back, we get a potential lefty closer, a potential every day second basemen, a bunch of power arms, and we don't have to pay the luxury tax. If nothing else, we've added alot of organizational depth, which is always important. If im right, and Wilpon only wanted under the threshold this year, so that he can spend the money when we're ready to win and not be charged the higher tax for multiple years above the tax line, then i think it's understandable. We have to accept that we're not the Yankees, and won't spend unlimited money. So if taking less prospects this year means Wilpon opens up the check book a bit at the deadline to put us over the top in 2006, or has a few extra dollars to entice that star free agent, then it could wind up as a good thing. Overall, i think this was a good , but not great trade deadline for the Mets. We did'nt dramatically improve our future, but it's a step in the right direction, and our new GM passed his first test. ( Duquette getting the job permanently is probably nothing but a formality at this point.)

Boston Red Sox

I'm jumping on the wagon with all the media guys on this one, because seriously, is there anyone left in baseball not thoroughly impressed with Theo Epstein? This winter, he oversaw the reconstruction of a line up which is now very deep, very versatile, and leading the leauge in runs. He needed pitching for the stretch, so he aquired the starter he needed in Jeff Suppan, and completely remade the bullpen, bringing in Byung-Hyun Kim, Scott Williamson, and Scott Sauerbeck. And what did young Theo pay for all of this? Shea Hillenbrand, Freddy Sanchez, Phillip Dumatrait, some cash, and a player to be named later that is'nt expected to be anyone of note. Hillenbrand is over rated. He hits for a good average but it's completely empty. He does'nt take any walks and does'nt hit for much power. The one thing he does well is hit lefties. Getting Kim for him is the best deal any GM has made this year. Freddy Sanchez will probably be a very good second basemen, and could have been a valuable player for the Red Sox for a long time, but this team is'nt exactly struggling to score runs. I dont know anything about Dumatrait, but the general consensus is that he's nothing special.

If Boston does'nt make a run this year, they may one day regret trading Freddy Sanchez for two replaceable pitchers. But that's a risk you have to take sometimes in baseball. The Yankees look as beatbale now as they have since, well, last year, when the age of there pitching staff showed against the Angels. Bravo to young Mr Epstein for going for it. Even if they can't bring down the Yankees this year, the Red Sox have still improved their team for the future, despite the loss of Sanchez. The most valuable player that traded hands in Boston's deals was the 24 year old Kim. He of the nasty stuff, the rubber arm and the ability to start or close. He's actually a year younger then Sanchez, and has already had success in the majors. Williamson was another steal, basically a salary dump from the Reds. He strikes out alot of guys, and should be a valuable set up man. Sauerbeck is nothing special, but he's a solid lefty specialist. Going into trading season, Boston's only realy weakness was their bullpen. The three of them now make it one of the best pens in the leauge. They also filled there secondary need for a starting pitcher. Suppan won't pitch them to the World Series, but he'll give them alot of solid six inning starts, and with there offense and revamped bullpen that should translate into wins much more often then not. Basically, Boston filled every hole they had, and have BK Kim for the future, and all they gave up was Freddy Sanchez. They did'nt even have any need for Hillenbrand anymore because of there offseason aquisitions. That speaks for itself. Theo Epstein and the Boston brain trust have been nothing short of brilliant so far.

New York Yankees

Mixed reviews here. Money is no object to the Yankees, so purely on a talent standpoint they did well in the Benitez trade. He'll probably be an excellent set up man for them over the rest of the season, and maybe Joe Torre can even weave some of his magic and prevent the meltdowns Benitez is famous for. That's a pretty big if though. I'm sure the nightmares of Yankees fans everywhere are filled with images of Benitez blowing a curcial game against Boston. They did need bullpen help tho, and in terms of stuff, he was the best arm out there. He also came cheap in terms of talent, so the deal made sense given how little the Yankees had to trade. The Boone-Claussen trade is a bit more puzzling. Aarone Boone is a fine player, and he's definately an upgrade over the aging Robin Ventura. He's also a strong clubhouse presence to replace the one lost in Ventura. They also did an excellent job moving Ventura, getting a couple of decent prospects from LA. The problem is that the Yankees line up did'nt really need any help, and if it did, it was in right field. The price was also high, in left hander Brandon Claussen. The Yankees rotation is old and expensive. Clemens is going to retire, Pettite and Wells are up for free agency, and their only young starter, Jeff Weaver, is floundering in New York. Claussen, who looks every bit like a future star, would have stepped right in and filled one of the holes in the rotation. Now, the only starter the Yankees can depend on for next year is Mike Mussina. Boone's a good player, and he'll help them win some ballgames, but he's not really an all star, and is'nt worth a 24 year old lefty that might be a future ace. I think the Yankees will regret this trade come the offseason, unless Boone is a key to another World Series. It seems like a trade just to make a trade, because it did'nt fill any hole. That's not Cashman's style, this one has Steinbrenner and the Tampa office written all over it.

The Yankees helped there bullpen with the aquistions of Benitez, Orosco, and Gabe White, but not as much as Boston improved their's, and there is still the spectre of Benitez blowing a big game. They did a decent job of trading Mondesi, who they were intent on dumping, but it left them a huge hole in right field. Then instead of filling that hole, they upgraded at third base. Trading a long term solution for one of the rotation slots, for a less long term solution at the hot corner. I don't want to say the aquisitions are bad, because they're not really. Especially not if the Yankees just buy a starter to replace Claussen, which of course they will. There's just not any method to them. With the exception of the Benitez and Mondesi deals, all of them were reactions to deals by Boston, and the Boone trade just did'nt make any sense. Oh, and there's still that whole right field issue. The Yankees are just making deals, and not planning a team. Personally, i think the New York, Tampa split is starting to effect them.

A few short notes on other teams.

Baltimore only made one deal this year, but it was a good one. They got Damian Moss, and two good pitching prospects for Sidney Ponson. Moss is still young, has good stuff, and could turn it around. Kurt Ainsworth has been a much heralded prospect at times, but has suffered through some injury problems. If he gets over them, he'll be a fine pitcher. Ryan Hannaman is also a very good pitching prospect. Thats a pretty good package for one pitcher, and Baltimore may very well just re sign Ponson in the off season.

Three good young pitchers is a bit much for Sidney Ponson, but i think this deal made sense for the Giants also. They're twelve games up in there division, and looking towards October, where they'll need another starter. Ponson has been very good this year, and they got him without giving up Jerome Williams or Jesse Foppert. The presence of those two made Hannaman and Ainsworth expendable, and the Giants have soured on Moss. Ponson will help them come playoff time.

The Royals did'nt do a whole lot, just aquired some bullpen help, but hey it's the Royals. The fact that they're not selling Raul Ibanez and/or Carlos Beltran is surprising enough, them being buyers is astonishing. Them and their fans are the real winners at this deadline, because they're fianlly trying to win. They won't add any payroll, but at least they are'nt dumping players, and if they can do it cheaply they may add some more players throguh waivers. The names of Kevin Appier and even Juan Gonzalez have come up. Truly amazing.

Cincinatti did a good job getting Brandon Claussen when Aaron Boone wanted out, and got two pretty good pitching prospects for an outfielder they did'nt need in Jose Guillen, but got nothing for Scott Williamson. As usual, Billy Beane found himself a hitter. This year it was the afore mentioned Jose Guillen, who does'nt fit their organizational philosophy, but the way he's hitting this year, he is a good pick up for anybody. He's also cheap, always a concern for Oakland. Pittsburgh basically dismantled it's roster, in return they got Freddy Sanchez, pitching prospect Matt Bruback and rid themselves of Aramis Ramirez' contract. The Giles trade could still happen through waivers, as the Padres hold the first pick. I can't see Alomar and Everett helping the White Sox much. The Rangers did well in the Urbina trade, and still might be able to move Gonzalez and/or Palmeiro. If they can move one or both they could really re stock their system. Seattle, St Louis, Houston, and Atlanta did'nt do anything. All are solid teams, but Seattle could've used bullpen help and a third basemen, the others all needed starting pitching.

There will be more deals to be made through waivers. But except for a few notables, most of the waiver deals will be for second and third rate guys at best. Noone's going to get a halfway decent pitcher through waivers unless they're owed a ton of money. It's interesting that San Francisco was the only National Leauge team that added anything. In the East, The Marlins and Expos are making an effort simply by not selling players, but it seems like Atlanta is confident in it's lead, and noone else really believes they can catch them. In the second closest division in baseball, the NL Central, noone did much either, choosing to play out the season with more or less what they have now. Over in the American Leauge, things were much more active. The Yankees made there typical handful of trades, and Boston has been very active, trying to finally overtake the Yankees. They look stronger then they have in years, and might actually have a shot. In the AL central, baseball's closest divison, Chicago and the Royals both made moves trying to win, while the Twins should have gotten a middle infielder, but instead chose to swap similar outfielders with the Blue Jays. Oakland got it's anual bat. I have to agree with the experts that Boston is the big winner this year. They filled all there holes, and Kim is the prize of this year's deals. I'd rank the Royal next, simply because of the fact that they're buyers, and how far they've come.







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