Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stop Trading!

In an earlier post, I wrote that after the Delgado and Wagner acquisitions, Omar could twiddle his thumbs for the rest of the offseason. I'm starting to wish he had.

A couple of the moves make sense to me. Bret Boone is worth a shot. Sure, he'll be 37 years old, but he was 34 when he posted a 900 OPS with 35 home runs. And yes, he appeared to completely collapse last year (.221/.290/.350 in 360 ghastly PAs), and wept openly upon his demotion. He's even been removed from ESPN's player database, so you need to go to Baseball-Reference for his numbers.

Still, given his fairly stellar record since his 30th birthday, a return to career-average type numbers isn't difficult to imagine. Second base was the blackest of holes last year, and a minor league contract is no great expense.

And Paul Lo Duca? Fine. He's an adequate hitter, so I'll put up with Buster Olney & Co. telling us what a great clubhouse guy he is until my ears bleed. What chance did Gaby Hernandez have of making it all the way through the Mets farm system anyway? It's almost as though this front office won't be satisfied until they've cleansed it of every pitching prospect who could possibly be flipped for a C-grade veteran. But again, I can understand the move in this new, Post-Mike Jacobs era.

[Note: On second thought, I'm looking at Ramon Castro and seeing that he was appreciably better than PLoD last year. Better hitter, better at throwing out (and apparently discouraging) baserunners, and he's three years younger. So forget that deal, too.]

The ones I'm unhappy about are the two that ostensibly "bolstered" the bullpen, but did so by depleting the rotation to a much greater extent. I've never fancied myself a hard-core Jae Seo fan, but apparently no one else believes that he took a big step forward last season. He doesn't strike guys out, but neither does Brad Radke, and you don't see him getting traded for Duaner Sanchez.

Similarly, Kris Benson is no Cy Young contender, and it's now pretty safe to say he never will be. 2005 was his best year in a while, and it wasn't all that sweet. But at the end of the day, he doesn't suck. Let there be no mistake: Jorge Julio S-U-C-K-S.

He's the reliever people wrongly accused Armando Benitez of being: the hard-throwing righty who's constantly walking hitters, and watches a lot of the strikes he does throw get crushed. It's not a good steez.

Heath Bell was not as good as I thought he'd be last year, but can anyone honestly make the case that he (or Padilla) is a worse bet than Julio in 2006? Why would Omar trade ANYONE, let alone a full-time starter, to get this clown? ...That's right. I'm sticking my neck out. If Julio is any good at all, I'll eat my words.

I'm trying to stay focused on the positive, like how much better Delgado will be at first than Mientkiewicz-Cairo, but I think the chances are good that we'll miss Seo and Benson at some point this season. Good starters are more valuable than good relievers, and Jorge Julio isn't either.

This is still the best team in the NL East, and I'm looking forward to Spring Training.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Observations

The Gary Cohen move to the TV booth may be a great thing. I've thought him the best announcer, on TV or radio, but had no idea until recently how many people feel the same way. The upgrade from the Seaver-Healy team will be considerable, but I almost feel like Cohen will be wasted on television. His uncanny ability to communicate the action of the game will really not be called for in his new job. But maybe we'll only regret the move wasn't made sooner.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Mets make a deal for Miguel Tejada, provided they don't sell the farm. But man, Tejada needs to shut his pie hole. You signed a long-term deal for huge money with a team with no recent track record of success. This is the business you've chosen.

I don't hate Toronto's offseason. The BP heads were generally outraged by the money and years of the Burnett and Ryan signings, and Glaus is rightly considered an unsure thing. As I mentioned earlier, I am a BJ Ryan fan. Will he be fairly old (35) at the end of that deal? Sure, but I think will be $9M/yr-type dominant for the bulk of it. He hasn't been this good for very long, but you don't do what he's been doing by accident. We're not talking about Danny Kolb here.

Dayn Perry wrote a dissenting opinion, which I mostly agree with, in which he argues that the Blue Jays are now legitimate contenders for the division title. The one point of his that no longer holds is the synergy of the high GB:FB Burnett with the awesome defense of Orlando Hudson (as the latter was dealt for Glaus), but they should be good regardless.

I would trade Lastings Millege before Aaron Heilman, and I wouldn't trade either for Danys Baez.

It could be mostly the ones I know, but it seems like Red Sox fans are getting way too bent out of shape out of Johnny Damon's departure. Maybe it was just about the money. Maybe not. In either case, pull yourselves together.

Kevin Millwood's new contract with the Rangers makes Benson's look fiscally responsible.

If the Mets make even a modest upgrade at 2nd base (having come to grips with the awfulness of Kaz Matsui), they really should be the betting favorite for the division. Florida will be terrible. Washington should be terrible. Atlanta doesn't appear any better, but I haven't really looked into them yet. Maybe I should hold off on the predictions, come to think of it...

I'm not putting money on the Rose Bowl, but if I were, it would not be on Texas.