Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ho, Hum...


While it certainly doesn't complete the ideal offseason by any stretch of the imagination, I really like the signing of Matt Wise to a one-year deal

Friday, December 14, 2007

Close the Retirement Loophole

I just read a pretty compelling article on the Daily News website, an interview featuring that alleged hamstring specialist, Marty Miller, from last year's Yankees who was fired after the team's fourth hammy injury. At any rate, he certainly didn't even begin to refute what's been said about Pettitte and Clemens, but more notably, mentioned players who "just suddenly retire, and then come back", pointing out that these players are technically not MLB players while "retired", and therefore are not subject to testing. The most notable baseball player I can think of that really fits this mold is ol' Rocket (but don't forget Sammy Sosa, among others...), and that's obviously who he was referring to in this instance, but beyond that there has been a lot of talk in recent years of other aging players beginning to follow suit with Clemens, exploiting the extra months of rest and the elevated, rental-type paychecks. The point raised about the potential to bypass testing, however, is really a valid one, no matter what Miller's intent was. Any old player could just say "hey, I think I'll just 'retire', get all jacked up on juice until around June, and then sign up somewhere for a bunch of loot and play like a 20 year old for 4 months!" In my eyes, the seesaw retirement thing has got to go; some sort of league policy needs to be concocted, one that would still allow for sincere players to come out of retirement under a set of guidelines, i.e. testing prior to reinstatement.

Just a thought...

I'm Not The Man They Think I Am At Home, Oh, No No, I'm a Rocket Man.


I'm not sure whether to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the Mitchell Report.

Here's what I think:

For one, let's get half of that 2000 World Series trophy back to Shea. While almost every Major League team was dishonorably represented in the report, perhaps no single ball club stood out more than the 2000 New York Yankees. The most compelling statistic relating to that series is that the four Yankee pitchers from the 2000 team that were indicated as users in the Mitchell Report combined in the Subway Series for 30.2 IP, 5 ER and an ERA of 1.46. The rest of the Yankee staff? 16.1 IP, 9 ER and an ERA of 4.95. Kudos to Anthony DeRosa at Hot Foot for that stat. (Who incidentally, I'm pretty sure, took the flickr photo I'm using for this entry. My appreciation) Beyond pitching, the '00 Yanks also featured 5 position players who popped up in the report, most notably the frequent #3 hitter David Justice, and 2B Chuck Knoblauch.

Game 1 really hurts the most: Andy Pettitte starts the game against Al Leiter, going 6.2 innings and allowing 3 er; After Benitez blows Leiter's win by giving up a sac-fly to Chuck Knoblauch (Leiter having gone 7 innings giving up 2 runs, both runs produced by David Justice), Mike Stanton delivers 2 shutout innings in the 11th and 12th for the Yankees, setting up Jose Viz's game-winning single off of Turk Wendell in the bottom of the 12th. Then Clemens dominates Game 2, after roid-raging all over Mikey P. Jeez.

As my friend Rob put it today, "I always knew Benny Agbayani was a champion".

At the end of the day, my protestations are really tongue in cheek. What's over is over, but it kinda hurts. Good ammo with a Yankee fan, I suppose.

Kind of ironic that the day before this thing comes out, I post an entry half devoted to eulogizing the great Paul LoDuca, who now looks like the most likely candidate for discipline in the wake of the investigation, not only using himself, but apparently sharing the love with anyone who was interested. Really puts a damper on my love of Paulie, and particularly that great game against Oakland last year that I wrote about, in which he blew his top with the ump. Quite possibly that great memory can also be attributed to roid rage. Ugh. I have to join Adam from Brooklyn Met Fan in conceding to Omar, and taking back all of my constant complaints about not re-signing Duca, though official word from the Mets is that the decision to let Duca walk had nothing to do with the Mitchell Report. Yeah, right. They can't come out and say it, but it's pretty clear they knew something about this, so I say nice job doing your homework, something the Milwaukee Brewers didn't do with regards to their new closer. I really enjoyed LoDuca's time here, but if I have any self-respect I have to admit that he is just as bad as any of them. I can't sit here and bash the Rocket (Who I once adored as a member of the Red Sox when I was a little kid) and with a straight face defend LoDuca.

Overall, the report didn't really shock me, or anyone else. It is certainly only the tip of the iceberg as far as the list goes, but I imagine that wasn't really the point. The point is to display the widespread use of PED's, and discuss what to do about it. Again, Mitchell doesn't say anything too revolutionary, but he does suggest that MLB use other methods than testing to regulate steroids, and that the testing be expanded and controlled by an independent party. I would agree with both ideas, and I hope Selig follows suit. The Players' Union would probably take issue with either policy, but there probably isn't much they could do about it. I can't imagine anything worse PR-wise for Donald Fehr and the MLBPA than a lockout caused by unwillingness to submit to drug-testing and investigation.

Then there's the whole Mitchell/Red Sox conspiracy theory, which is just ludicrous. We're talking about a man who served in the US Senate, and was a key figure in Cold War foreign policy and a mediator in Northern Ireland. Somehow I doubt he would put the integrity of his career on the line for the sake of protecting a baseball team that he used to have a limited stake in. He has dealt with much bigger issues in his life. This is coming, mind you, from someone (me) who doesn't happen to be on the same side of the political fence as Mitchell.

The other interesting elements of all this are the potential sources of fallout: How will the players named, or their lawyers, respond? How will ownership respond? I for one would love to see a Fernando Vina, who works for ESPN, fess up and use his role in the media to candidly address this stuff. Will David Justice still host the kids show on the Yes network? Ha. Also, will other names start to trickle in from elsewhere? The next congressional hearing, which has now been announced, could produce something like that.

Without getting too hard into schaudenfreude, it's nice to see that arrogant prick Clemens get his due. Oh my goodness gracious, of all the dramatic things...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So long, it's been good to know ye


The image to the left was taken by someone else, who I'm glad took it and took the time to post it on flickr. The scene it shows took place during quite possibly the most memorable baseball game I have ever attended, certainly the most memorable regular season game. The primary reason for that is that attending this game with about 20 other people, using my 2 season tickets and going stubhub crazy, was the highlight of a great, clean, bachelor party last spring. That alone would have made this a game that would stick out in my memory, but on top of the event, it also happened to be an interleague game, and ended in a David Wright walkoff double. Even better. Oh, and Brooklyn's own Paul LoDuca went absolutely ape on the umpire, not once but twice, totally inspiring the crowd and apparently the team as well.

This is what Paulie could do above all else. I know I'm beating a dead horse by alluding to Duca's heart, but there's a reason that every Met fan on the internet or in any deli or bus stop says this, and that's because it's true. On a team rife with players possessing questionable drive, he was among a small minority who really gave it their all, and stood out.

Now he's a Nat, and I for one hope he gets a Piazza-esque standing O next year at Shea. (Oddly enough, Mikey P got a Shea standing ovation at that same bachelor party game) I can guarantee anyone that he will stand out against the Mets from here on out, as he probably feels slighted by them, and should.

The real annoying part of all this is that the only logical explanation I could find for not resigning Duca was an insistence on multiple years in a contract. That made some sense, what with his clear tendency to wear down. But he signed a one year deal in DC! Somehow I doubt he wouldn't have done the same to stay in a place he loved.

I wonder what would happen in a collision at the plate between Paulie and Brain Schneider. Ugh...

The Santana race continues, and frankly, if what we're hearing is true, I'm frustrated, and my reason for it probably puts me in the minority. If John Heyman's article on is accurate, Johan Santana would be a Met, done deal, if the Mets were to include both Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez.

Here is where the whole prospect thing aggravates me. Youth and Minor League talent is certainly valuable, and something to be held on to at almost any cost. Don't for instance, trade your best pitching prospect for an aging, mediocre starter when your team probably can't contend anyhow (Kazmir). Don't trade an OF who has allegedly been the gem of your system for years when his value is low for a truly sub-par return (Milledge). In short, don't sell the farm for mediocrity or mild improvement, but by all means sell it all, sell anything for the chance to bring the best pitcher in the game onto a team that is already a borderline contender in the weaker league.

What I don't get about all of this unwillingness of Omar's (and, admittedly, most Met fans...) to trade both of these guys is that at the same time the Mets are talking them up and don't want to give them away, everyone else seems to be killing the quality of the Mets' collection of top prospects. We go from "not having the chips to land a front-line starter", which I've heard again and again, to being unwilling to include one more guy to get THE front-line starter of all front-line starters.

Remember, we're not talking about hurting the quality of the on-field product. In any of these Gomez and F-Mart scenarios, we keep Reyes, Wright, Perez, Maine, Beltran, and every other current potential starter except maybe Church, while adding Santana. How can you not do that? Especially in a year when the Mets are particularly draft-heavy, having effectively three first-round picks in the upcoming draft. I don't mind if the farm system takes 2-3 years to be rebuilt while I watch ballgames in late October at Shea/Citi.

My vote: if they want 'em all, give it to 'em.
I'll probably get killed for this in the era of BA, BP, etc. Oh, well, I think I'm right.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Still in the Mix?


Rumors can be downright infuriating, but we ask for it. A week ago, Johan Santana had one leg in pinstripes if you bought what was being tossed around, and then the Boss Jr. pulled the plug. Three days ago, he was allegedly even closer to joining the Red Sox, and all along 'Los Mets figured to have no chance.

Now, any deal that seemed imminent involving Johan is on hold, at least, and reports are that the Mets think they are very much in the discussion to acquire the lefty.

If I didn't care so much, I'd just shut the computer off and ignore it all until I saw a press conference with a done deal.

My constant thought on this whole thing has been that the Mets do not have what it takes to get Santana, short of trading Jose Reyes, which is completely out of the question. Even if a deal were right, Reyes, despite a foul fall, has aroused as much excitement at Shea as any player in franchise history who wasn't a world champ in 1986. You just can't do it.

But despite my impression on it, and what appears to be the prevailing opinion amongst the sports media, the Mets are seemingly right back in the race. I don't know what changed.

Perhaps the Twins now have a desire for a bundle of talented players from top to bottom, rather than a couple blue chip studs and a couple longshots. This the Mets can offer: quantity. While Gomez and Pelf are no Ellsbury and Buchholz or Hughes and Melky (we think...), Boston's Masterson and Lowrie or the Yankees' Jackson and Marquez are no F-Mart, Heilman and Mulvey.

Perhaps there is some question as to whether the Yankees or Red Sox, both heavily soaked in payroll already, would be apt to work out a reasonable extension with Johan. If not, he and/or the team in question would almost certainly veto any deal. One would think that the Mets, awaiting Citi Field and still lagging behind the Bombers in payroll in such a rich market, wouldn't think twice about paying Santana if given the opportunity.

Or perhaps Bill Smith and his boys in the Minnyapple stopped for a moment and gazed into a crystal ball, foreseeing a dark decade for any team that dared play AL baseball against a Red Sox or Yankee ball club anchored by endless cash and the best pitcher in the game. Maybe the thought of shipping him over to the senior circuit is more comforting, and the Mets appear to be the NL front-runners.

Again, I don't really see it, but if Omar does I hope he has a reason, and I hope I'm proven wrong.

In other news, John Maine will not be releasing any collaborative material with RuPaul or David Bowie any time soon.

Just a ridiculous story "broke" earlier this week on the AM dial, reporting that wholesome ol' Johnny Maine followed a woman into a restroom at an NYC restaurant and asked to wear her dress. Apparently, Maine was in Virginia well before and after this event occured. Might shoulda checked on that, huh?

But at least if it had been true SOMETHING of note would have gone down this winter...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bring Your Kiddies, Bring Your Wife, Bring 'Em All...


So after driving cross country, totaling my car and getting stuck in the Show-Me State for 3 days, I came home to some serious family matters, and thus have been absent blogwise for a glaring amount of time. Hopefully, somebody noticed.

Where the hell do I start? It's difficult to navigate through all of the non-action/potential yet improbable action that the hot stove has yielded through early December. You probably gathered what my feelings were with regards to the Milledge debacle based on the last post and the current poll, and I've simultaneously softened and hardened towards the deal. I've softened because time has passed, we have what we have, and one must always try to practice acceptance; I've hardened because since the moment of that deal, all the really juicy wheeling and dealing began, and the Mets, if they were not going to let 'Stings play, are at the very least short one more chip. Mets PR is telling us that there wasn't much interest in Milledge, but you just can't tell me that a 22-yr old who has been touted as a 5-tool player for the last three years (whether those tools work or not...) wouldn't be of some value in a trade, even as a throw-in. Not many teams would refuse to take him. I put a lot of stock in what Peter Gammons says, and he said this (2nd paragraph from bottom).

But again, what's done is done, and I can only hope that Brian Schneider solves the whole staff and that Ryan Church either helps acquire something bigger, or decides to play against everyone else the way he has played against the Mets.

Now we come to the winter meetings madness. It was really wishful thinking on all of our behalves approaching the Santana situation, and it seems as if Omar and Co. knew that. If what appears is going to happen happens, and the Red Sox end up with Johan, you can start talking about a rotation of historic proportions. Remember Pedro and Schilling in 2004? Subtract 14 combined years of age. Oh, and they've still got Curt Schilling, and the other guy, that japanese guy. I recall some sort of mild hubbub surrounding him about a year ago. If this Yankee "deadline" with Santana and the Twins proves to be a reality, Hank Steinbrenner is simply a fool. Not only have they (the Yankees) arbitrarily withdrawn from a negotiation they certainly weren't out of, they've also made things a lot easier for their arch-rivals. Just don't make no sense. Sometimes the whole prospect thing just gets a bit out of hand. You won't give up Hughes, Cabrera and Kennedy for JOHAN SANTANA? Melky Cabrera is not a star, and he never will be a star. He's a little better than Preston Wilson at his prime, but still with less power. Phil Hughes has definitely been pumped up quite a bit for a while now,and showed flashes of real effectiveness but he's already been injured. Ian Kennedy is basically Mike Pelfrey with less hype-time behind him. If I'm a GM, I give up just about anyone for Johan Santana. It's great to hold on to young talent, but when one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen is on the table, let it go. Remember, blue chip prospects can always turn in to a deal for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. Hank Steinbrenner's misconduct to date is encouraging to me as someone who has a vested interest in seeing the Yankees in peril.

So Johan's out. Next stop? Dan Haren. Simply, I really, really don't see it happening for the Mets. I hold Dan Haren in a very high regard. He's very young, very good, and very consistent, all nice things, but early reports are that Billy Beane is coming out guns blazing as he shops Haren. The word is that it'll take about what it takes to get Santana from the Twins to get Haren from the A's, and there are two reasons that that should leave the Mets out of it. A) They don't have what it takes to get Santana, so they wouldn't have the equivalent of something they don't have. B) Good as Haren is, he's not Johan, and no one should pay that price. Maybe I'm wrong here, maybe Beane backs of a bit, but unless that happens, you can count the Mets out of Haren.

Then there's Erik Bedard. The nice thing about him is that the two biggest suitors for any big name (NYY-BOS) are just about eliminated from the start by sharing the division with the Orioles, as are the Blue Jays, who apparently have expressed interest in him. Common sense, as well as winter meeting rumblings would say Baltimore wouldn't deal him withing the AL East, although Peter Angelos has a tendency to be a complete moron.

Bedard is an option that I find to be very attractive. He brings a little more flash than a Haren, if not a little more risk, and probably at a lower price than the two pitchers mentioned earlier. The Mets are said to have offered Humber, Gomez and Heilman for Bedard already, twice actually, (credit to the O's declined both times. What's encouraging is that if that package is a discussion, maybe Pelfrey/Mulvey instead of Humber is a deal, and I'd be happy with either scenarios. Also, the Dodgers initially appeared to be the front-runner in the Bedard race, and have now backed off significantly. I say go get him if you can.

The next option would have been Dontrelle, but Dave Dombrowski dropped a bomb on all of us by acquiring him and more notably Miguel Cabrera, thereby creating a potential powerhouse in Detroit. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over missing out on Dontrelle Willis, at this point.

A.J. Burnett? Meh. I suppose he's better than a lot of other options, and definitely better than no one, but at what price. He has an opt-out clause in a year, and a bad history of injury. If this drives the price for him down considerably, say a Humber/Pelfrey and a minor-leaguer, I'd go for it, but anything more is too much of a risk to give up a lot of value for a potential albatross is he got injured and then didn't opt out.

I don't see why the Mets don't sign Carlos Silva regardless of anything else, and I have a feeling they will. Can't hurt.

With all of the pitching talk, I'd be curious to see if the Mets were inquiring on any outfielders, via free-agency or trade. Not the priority right now, but another bat that's better than a Church would be nice if the pitching thing can get worked out...

Or maybe nothing happens at all, Pedro pitches 200 innings, Delgado returns to Toronto form, and Ryan Church explodes. Or not.

Go get that Canadian lefty from Baltimore, dammit.