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.


stumped1 said...

so how would you expect the mets to improve? you cant sit and wait for your prospects to live up to potential, or for mediocre starters to finally turn that corner. if you dont like any of the moves, is it safe to say you would rather toil along with the same team as last year? sure, julio hasnt been great, but he has the same potential to turn it up a notch, just like seo and benson. and they got a very good prospect in the deal too. to date omar hasnt gotten rid of any make or break players, and has improved the team from 2 years ago. the starting rotation is now just thin on mediocrity. it was only deep in mediocrity in the 1st place. and i personally dont see 1 area where the team is in worse condition than it was at this point last year. in fact, it is in much better shape in many areas.

Doyle said...

Stumped -

I've been pretty glowing on the Mets' offseason, overall, I think.

You're right to point out that Maine is a legit prospect, exactly the kind I knock the Mets for undervaluing.

But Seo DID "finally turn the corner" last year. I seem to recall you predicting a return to mediocrity, and being wrong.

I think that Seo and Benson could forseeably combine to throw 350 above-league-average innings in 2006. I don't like Sanchez+Julio's chances of being so dominant in their 140 innings to be worth the trade. Especially Julio.

stumped1 said...

as i recall, seo did return to mediocrity near the end of last season. while his numbers are very good for the year overall, he did slide near the end. whereas sanchez seemed to get better as the year wore on. granted both have had limited success, but the pen was the weak link. bannister also put up comparable numbers to seo in the minors, although its been a while since ive looked. between bannister, heilman, zambrano and whoever else steps up(maine, maybe), i think its safe to assume that those mediocre numbers wont be much worse, if any worse. id still love for this team to get a bonified top end starter, but as far as what there is now, i dont see it being any more of a problem than it already was. plus the pen is way better off even if julio winds up being a mop-up. i give omar nothin but props for completely remaking this team, while keeping the core players around in just 2 years. if nothing else the guys he has gotten,such as nady and julio, are still young with big up-sides, and are still trade bait. you know what benson had to offer, and it was nothing special. i question his heart and makeup, not to mention the yearly dead arm he comes up with.
by the way, good to have your site back and running.

Doyle said...

Thanks Stumped. Good to be back (sporadically until Spring Training, probably).

This is from Joe Sheehan's article yesterday. He's on the same page w/r/t these two deals:

Jae Seo went from the Mets to the Dodgers as part of a four-pitcher deal in which the Mets picked up a couple of nondescript relievers. Seo probably should have spent the entire season in the Mets’ rotation, but wasted three months at Norfolk while the team messed around with Kazuhisa Ishii. Seo posted a 2.90 ERA in 14 starts, with nearly a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, numbers more in line with his solid ’03 than his disastrous ’04. He’s no star, but a capable mid-rotation starter who should make 32 starts and keep his ERA in the 3.00s, especially in Shea West. The Dodgers would have missed Jeff Weaver more if not for this pickup.

Kris Benson was also a Mets’ dumpee, sent to the Orioles in exchange for Jorge Julio and John Maine. Benson’s three-year, $22.5-million contract kicked off a 16-month rush of silly deals for pitchers long on potential and short on production. Standing on the other side of that rush, having Benson--a league-average pitcher with some durability issues--for two years and $15 million doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Like the Dodgers with Seo, the Orioles didn’t give up anything of note in exchange for a pitcher who is a good bet for 180 league-average innings, perhaps more if he can shake the nagging injuries.