Category Archives: Today In Baseball

My Plan for the Mets Offseason

May 2, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) reacts after swinging for a strike against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I originally posted this article on Amazin’ Avenue as part of their AAOP (Amazin’ Avenue Offseason Plan) Contest. Check it out there!

“We enter this offseason in a far better position than I have ever experienced during my tenure as the Mets’ General Manager. We are coming off of a season in which we played in the World Series, for Pete’s sake! And that has had a huge impact on just about everything- heck, even the famed AAOP contest is starting about a month after schedule!

I had you fooled- all of you guys… You thought that I didn’t know what I was doing. But when I had a lineup containing Johnny Monell, Danny Muno, Eric Campbell, Darrell Ceciliani and John Mayberry in the middle of June, I knew what I had in store. I knew that Michael Conforto would be ready by the end of July. I was already planning to swing a couple of trades for impact bench bats, a couple nice relievers, and a superstar lineup-altering position player. Well, Kelly, Juan, Tyler, Addison, and Yoenis all came into Daddy’s arms, and they all helped bring my plan of success to fruition.

We missed the big-prize by three games (in reality, just about seven outs), but we are not done yet. When I said I was expecting 90 wins before the season, you guys laughed in my face. Welp, look how that turned out. Now all you need to do is trust me…

I will bring you to the promised land.”

-Richard Lynn “Sandy” Alderson (from this point forward, any “quotes” should be “attributed” to this great man himself)

 

Arbitration and Non-Tenders

Arb-Eligible Players

  • Matt Harvey- $4.7MM
  • Ruben Tejada- $2.5MM
  • Lucas Duda- $6.8MM
  • Addison Reed- $5.7MM
  • Jenrry Mejia- $2.0MM
  • Jeurys Familia- $3.3MM
  • Josh Edgin- $600K

Non-tender Eric Young Jr., Buddy Carlyle, Carlos Torres, Anthony Recker
“These guys have been a pain in my behind for far too long. EY is a nice burst of energy and has legs quicker than American Pharoah, but he doesn’t fit at any position and did nothing to warrant sticking around here after I traded to bring him back to NY this summer. Buddy far exceeded my expectations in 2014, but he suffered from injuries this year and couldn’t even get on the field, so we had to let him go. At this point, I’m much more comfortable having Alex Carlos Torres pinch-running than I am putting him on the bump with the game on the line. And Anthony, boy I just don’t understand that kid… He looks like he’s straight out of a Marvel comic, with super-strength, but the man can hardly even hit the ball out of the infield.”

 

One Big Trade

Send Lucas Duda, Jonathan Niese, Jayce Boyd and an international signing slot to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Marcus Semien

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“Lucas and Jon have both been key parts of this team over the past few years and I appreciate all that they’ve given us. And Jayce has always been able to hit at every level in our organization, but we simply don’t have a fit for him on the current or future roster. That’s why I called up my broseph hermano brother from another mother mentor Billy Beane. I knew that he would have interest in all three of our guys…

…Lucas is a tremendous upgrade over Mark Canha at first, providing great value as both a hitter and a fielder. Jon has the stuff the be a key southpaw in the middle of a rotation, and the A’s literally do not have a lefty pitcher in their top-6 SP options. And I knew that Jayce would be an interesting guy for Billy, for two simple reasons: 1) he always hits for a high AVG and OBP; and 2) he’s been able to play formidably at all three OF positions as well as 1B, so he provides the key “utility factor” that Billy loves.

And on our side of the deal, Marcus fits like a charm. I’m not quite comfortable throwing Dilson into a full-time role at second base just yet… And so this deal allows me to move Wilmer to second- his natural position- and replace him at shortstop with a top-10 WAR shortstop who has a whole lotta potential.

Billy was willing to move Mr. Semien for a few reasons… First off, he was a bit frustrated by Marcus’s lack of defensive production, but this just doesn’t worry me because I think that his defense will improve drastically as he matures. Also, three of Billy’s top-8 prospects are shortstops (Barreto, Martin, Pinder), and they should all be ready in a timely fashion, so it only makes sense for him to clear out the SS position before there is a major logjam. And finally—what I think was the most important thing in swaying Billy towards this deal—was that I promised a dinner at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse on me next time the A’s come to town.”

 

Free Agents Galore!

“I’m happy as heck that Fred and Jeff are giving me some more leeway to increase the payroll this offseason! I look forward to showing up to the Winter Meetings without being emasculated by my fellow-executives, telling me ‘your team is from New York, and you spend money like you’re from Middle-of-Nowhere, Missouri…’ That really hurt my feelings. I cried. A lot.”

Sign Chris Davis to a Six-Year, $132 million deal, with a player opt-out clause after four years (AAV of $22mil).

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“Chris Davis is an absolute no-brainer for me. Especially once I traded Lucas, I knew I was going to make this move. Chris will be our impact bat this offseason. I was originally planning to re-sign Yoenis, and then I decided I was going to offer a long-term deal to Jason Heyward. But then I realized that we have a Gold Glove winner in CF, one who we are paying $2.5mil per year. If we’re adding a big-time bat, it had to be at first base. A dominant first baseman is the key to a great lineup, and while Duda was superb at times, he just didn’t fill that role.”

Sign Joakim Soria to a Three-Year, $22.5 million deal (AAV of $7.5mil).

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“We saw it during the World Series- we need a top-of-the-line setup man to bridge the gap to Familia. In August, my plan was to re-sign Tyler Clippard to fill this role, but he was totally ineffective in the playoffs and the end of the regular season, so he was out of the question for me. Joakim can absolutely be that guy.

I was originally between Soria and Darren O’Day, but I decided to go with Joakim for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Darren is going to command a bit more money than Joakim, for very similar production. Also, Darren is notably a submarine pitcher, and I don’t know how comfortable I feel about that. Sidearm guys have tended to either have their production fall off early, or they’ve been susceptible to significant injuries. Soria is an experienced, two-time All Star who is coming off of a good season. We’re damn excited to have a back end of the rotation consisting of Addison- Jo (that’s my new nickname for Soria, you like it?)- Jeurys.”

Sign Gerardo Parra to a Three-Year, $25.5 million deal (AAV of $8.5mil).

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“Well, we really needed a lefty platoon-mate for Juan out in center field, and Gerardo absolutely got the job done. We were quite interested in him at the trade deadline, but Milwaukee’s asking price was way too high, so we passed him up and ended up going with Yoenis. But now that Gerardo is out on the open market and we’ve moved on from Cespedes, he really fits the bill for our club. He’s coming off of the best offensive season of his career (with a OFF of 7.5) and what was tied for the best base-running season of his career (posting a 2.0 BsR). And he’s got some great righty splits, hitting for a .303 AVG, 11 HRs, and 134 hits against righties this year. Having a dynamic duo of Juan and Gerardo in CF, each boasting different skillsets, suits our team well for success.”

Sign Jerry Blevins and Juan Uribe to One-Year, $1.5 million deals.

Flushing, NY - August 12: New York Mets vs Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. New York Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer #23 hits an RBI single driving home New York Mets third baseman Juan Uribe #2 during the 4th inning. New York Mets third baseman Juan Uribe #2 is greeted in the dugout after he scores on the play. Wednesday, August 12, 2015. (Photo by Anthony Causi)

“These are two guys who we loved having last year. Both provide a veteran presence and are extremely valuable in their particular niche areas.

Jerry is a great LOOGY who, in combination with either Edgin or Gilmartin, should make our bullpen very lefty-proof. In his career, lefty hitters have hit at a .200 pace against Blevins, which provides some proof for just how good of a lefty specialist he can be for us. In his 2015 campaign with us, albeit small sample size (only 4.2 innings), he really did his job, not surrendering a hit, a walk, or a run in any of his outings. Now all we need is for him to watch out for those curbs and sidewalks…

And Mr. UriBAE provides so much for this team. He can absolutely play at 3B and SS, and could also potentially play 1B or 2B if we were in an absolute pinch. It is key to have a good backup 3B like Juan, to have good insurance in case Wright goes down for a period of time. Juan has an inherent clutch factor that can come up huge in our “meaningful September games” (wait, so is that phrase retired or…)! Welcoming Juan back has been our plan all along, and we know that he provides the versatility, skill, and clutch-factor that we so need off of our bench.”

Sign Mat Latos to a One-Year, $1 million deal.

Latos

“With Jon Niese now in Oakland, we were missing a 5th starter who can hold down the fort until Zack Wheeler returns mid-season from his TJ Surgery. We were first thinking of retaining big sexy the greatest player ever fan-favorite, Bartolo Colon, but because he wanted to start all year ‘round, and will likely command at least $6 million on the open market, we decided to look elsewhere. And then Mr. Latos fell into our lap. He’s coming off of a brutal year (hence the extremely low price), but let’s not forget who this guy is. He’s a 27-year-old who went 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA just two years ago. Latos is the ultimate reclamation project for Dan Warthen, and I do believe that he’ll be successful. Latos has huge potential and can be a very good #5 pitcher, and ultimately, a lethal option out of the ‘pen after Zack returns.”

 

So now, let’s check out what we have in store…

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“This team accomplished my financial goals, as well as filled every area of need that I laid out from the outset. My pre-determined budget was $120 million, and this time comes out far below that, at $115.85 million. And with that money, we’ve created a dominant back-end of the bullpen, a great platoon in center field that can be extremely productive, added a superstar power bat to our lineup, and solidified the middle infield.

This is the team. This is the team that will get the job done.”

Blast from the Past: What the World was Like when the Mets last Played in the Postseason

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Prior to this year, the Mets hadn’t played in a postseason game since 2006. Here’s what the world was like way back then, nine years ago.

  • Politics and World Affairs…
    • George W. Bush was the President of the United States, and we were in the fourth year of the Iraq War.
    • The Democrats won the Mid-Term elections here in the U.S.A., and as a result, Nancy Pelosi won the position of Speaker of the House.
    • Speaking of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was executed.
    • The Irani nuclear crisis, which (as we know) is still going on today, more or less began when the country refused to allow U.N. inspectors to view their facilities. North Korea (then ruled by current leader Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il) began to test nuclear weapons, as well.
  • Pop Culture…
    • Sir Paul McCartney separated from his wife of seven years, Heather Mills. So did Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. And Britney Spears and Kevin Federline did, too.
    • “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” was far and away the highest grossing film nationwide.
    • Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” topped Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 charts.
    • “American Idol” was the top regularly-scheduled television show.
    • The Oscar winner for Best Film was Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.”
  • Technology…
    • The billionth song was purchased on iTunes. It was “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay.
    • Google purchased the up and coming video sharing website, YouTube.
    • Nintendo first released a revolutionary gaming system, the Wii, in the USA.
    • Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” was “You,” or all internet users.
  • Science…
    • Pluto was officially “demoted” from the title of ‘planet’ to that of ‘dwarf planet’
    • A Russian astronaut hit a golf ball in space, resulting in an estimated 2.2 billion yard drive.
  • Deaths…
    • Legendary funk singer James Brown died at 73.
    • Steve Irwin “The Crocodile Hunter,” died at 44 after being stung by a sting ray.
    • President Gerald Ford died at 93.
    • Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott, passed away at 78.
    • Minnesota Twins’ legend Kirby Puckett died at 45.
    • Negro Leagues’ star and later MLB manager Buck O’Neil died at 94.
  • Sports…
    • Italy defeated France in the World Cup finals after French star Zinedine Zidane was sent off for the “head butt heard ’round the world.”
    • Yankees’ pitcher Cory Lidle died tragically after flying his plane into a NYC buildings
    • Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth, moving into the second position on the all-time home run leaders list.
    • The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl, and the Miami Heat won the NBA Championship.
    • Geoff Ogilvy won the golf U.S. Open, and Roger Federer won the tennis one.
    • University of Florida won both the national football and basketball championships.
    • The first World Baseball Classic was played in Arizona; Japan defeated Cuba in the finals.
    • LeBron James won his first All Star game MVP.
    • Speaking of All Star Games, Mark Loretta, Vernon Wells, Edgar Renteria, Jason Bay, Chase Utley (BOOOOOOO), Kenny Rogers, and Brad Penny were all starters in the MLB’s version of the game.
    • Donavan McNabb donned the cover of Madden NFL 06.
    • Miguel Cabrera was an emerging star at third base for the Florida Marlins.
    • The Seattle SuperSonics and Atlanta Thrashers were still active teams in their respective leagues.
  • Putting Time in Perspective…
    • Malala Yousafzai, now a Nobel Prize winner, was just 9 years old.
    • Justin Bieber and Harry Styles were both 12 years old.
    • Miley Cyrus had just completed her first season as “Hannah Montana” in the show of the same name.
    • Of the current late night hosts (Fallon, Meyers, Kimmel, Oliver, Corden, Colbert, Conan), only Jimmy Kimmel held the same position that he does today.
    • Donald Trump was no more than a businessman and reality star.
    • The first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Karl-Anthony Towns, was just 11 years old.
    • Current MLB superstars Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were students in high school.
    • Not one of the Mets’ young stud pitchers (deGrom, Harvey, Wheeler, Matz, Syndergaard) was older than 18.
    • President Barack Obama was in his second year serving as the US Senator from Illinois.

My Game 3 Experience

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Attending Game 3 of the NLDS was, by far, my greatest experience at a sporting event thus far in my young life. I remember being at the second-to-last postseason game at Shea Stadium in 2006, Game 6 of the NLCS. John Maine pitched a gem and Reyes hit a bomb as we outlasted Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals. We all know what happened in the next game, though, so the inevitable heartbreak of Mets fans happened once again.

This year, as the Mets clinched the NL East Crown for the first time since way back then in 2006, a glimmer of hope re-appeared. We, the Mets, were ready to enter the playoffs with one of the best pitching staffs and a drastically improved offense led by Yoenis Cespedes and the now-healthy David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud.

In Games 1 and 2, the Mets played all the way across the country, in Los Angeles, and even still, the absolute excitement felt by all long-suffering Mets fans could be felt everywhere. deGrom pitched arguably the best game of his career in Game 1, leading to an early victory. In Game 2, we saw a winning performance by the offense & Noah Syndergaard early on, but as a result of an unfortunate, despicable, and most importantly ILLEGAL slide by Chase Utley (BOOOOOOOOOOO), the Mets surrendered a loss to the Dodgers, tying the series at one a piece.

Entering Game 3, excitement was at an all time high… Fans were excited to see the first home postseason game for the Mets since we called Shea Stadium home in 2006; Matt Harvey was ready to step onto the mound, with no pitch cap this time around; Chase Utley was the most hated man in the state of New York; and the Mets were all but poised to take a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS.

I was fortunate enough to attend Game 3, and let me tell you, the environment there was like nothing I’d ever seen before…

The tone was set early on, when the Dodgers were being introduced. A loud and all encompassing “BOOOO” filled the stadium with every name announced, even that of the Dodgers’ massage therapist. But when Alex Anthony on the PA said, “infielder, #26, Chase Utley,” this intensity was taken to an all time high. I can’t even begin to put it in words. So here, watch this clip.

And then, our beloved Mets were introduced. When Ruben Tejada limped out of the dugout with a cane, wow was that a heartfelt moment. After being unfortunately injured by Chase Utley (BOOOOOOOOOOOOO) in Game 2, Tejada was diagnosed with a broken fibula that would put his season to an end. I know that I, along with my brother beside me and several other fans in our vicinity, got “the chills” as our shortstop walked to join his team.

The entire night, the fanbase was standing, screaming, and waving their orange rally flags in the air. Even when Matt Harvey surrendered a three-run-inning in the top of the Second, the Mets fans continued to stand strong.

We witnessed an absolute offensive explosion. The Mets put up 13 hits total and set a team record for postseason runs in one game with 13… Travis d’Arnaud went 3-5 with 3 RBIs, Curtis Granderson had 5 RBIs, and then there was Cespedes.

In the home half of the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes sent a three-run-homer into orbit, making the score 10-3. At this moment, everyone understood that this game was long over. Yo’ hit one of, if not the, most powerful home runs I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. The place erupted, and they began to play some sort of movie theme song as Cespedes rounded the bases, further adding to the larger-than-life feeling of him, his dinger, and the game as a whole.

Game 3 was a magical experience, highlighted by the incredible offensive output, but also furthered by the overlooked pitching performances. While Harvey was certainly not himself and had one of his toughest games of his career, he still only let up 3 runs (all of which came in the same inning), putting into perspective just how good he really is. And Bartolo Colon, the absolute fan-favorite, pitching two innings (striking out the first one in order) was not only exciting, but actually historic. See below:

While Game 4 was not as magical and we just couldn’t get the best of Clayton Kershaw (still undoubtedly the best in the world), Mets fans, like you and I, remain hopeful and excited. So put on your Mets gear & get ready for JdG and the Mets to play in Game 4 on Thursday.

 

#LGM

Recap of Mets’ Clincher Celebration

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The Mets clinched the NL East crown Saturday evening and it was absolutely incredible. Being a young, lifelong Mets fan, I have only seen my favorite team in the postseason twice, once in 2000 and again in 2006. It was genuinely a heartfelt moment for all Mets fans, spanning the spectrum from die-hard to fair-weather. Seeing Familia come into that blowout of a game and get the job done was a reflection of his season as a whole- he has been tremendous and reliable, even in his toughest of stretches.

Yes, it was an incredible moment. It was a heart-warming moment. It was a historic moment. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about… Let’s take a look at the Metsies’ post-game celebration.

Today in Baseball: Is Wilmer “The Future”?

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I remember on June 10th, 2003, when some guy named José Reyes played his first game in a Mets uniform. Entering the game, he was ranked the #3 prospect in the MLB by “Baseball America.” The 20-year-old Dominican shortstop was so highly touted that, on his debut, the Mets gave out mini-bats with Reyes’ picture and “the future” plastered all over them.

So yeah, he was pretty good.

He ended up playing nine seasons with the Mets. In those nine seasons, he totaled 370 stolen bases, a .292 average, 99 triples, 81 home runs, and 423 RBIs.

Here’s a clip just to remind you how electric Jose was…

…how fast he was…

…and how much the fans loved him.

And then, after a phenomenal 2011 season in Flushing, he was gone.

On December 7th, 2011, Reyes inked a deal with the Miami Marlins.

Reyes has expressed that he wanted to stay in Flushing. As the story goes, the only reason he bolted is that Sandy Alderson didn’t even schedule a meeting with him.

But, regardless of the reasoning behind it, Reyes is gone, as he has been for the last four years. And ever since he left, the Mets shortstop position has been constantly in flux.

Since Reyes has been gone, we’ve seen 276 games of Ruben Tejada, 126 games of Omar Quintanilla, 51 games of Wilmer Flores, 28 games of Justin Turner, 27 games of Ronny Cedeño, 8 games of Wilfredo Tovar, 5 games of Jordany Valdespin, a game of Eric Campbell, and even a single game of David Wright at shortstop!

Wilmer Flores, the third man on that illustrious list, is slotted as the Mets’ Opening Day shortstop.

It’s becoming increasingly evident with each passing day that Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins have a lot of faith in Flores. They’ve passed on Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Desmond, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jung-Ho Kang, Jed Lowrie, Hanley Ramirez, and more, in favor of sticking with Wilmer.

This aforementioned faith in Flores isn’t unwarranted…

The 23-year-old is taller than the average shortstop, standing at 6’3″. He possesses nice power and has the potential to become a very good hitter.

While he often looks like a subpar and sloppy defensive shortstop, the numbers say otherwise… In 51 games at shortstop this past season, he had a .979 fielding percentage, which would put him tied with Adeiny Hechavarria for 7th amongst all shortstops last season (albeit small sample size). Wilmer had just four errors in 51 games, or .078 per game- during his Mets tenure, Jose Reyes, largely looked at as a nice fielder, averaged .1 error per game. While Flores is far from a defensive wiz, he’s an acceptable defensive shortstop. His lack of fancy plays, among other factors, unfairly gives him this reputation as a defensive liability.

Do I want the Mets to acquire a better, more proven shortstop? Yes, of course.

However, I don’t think that they will do that until AT LEAST the end of next season.

Flores certainly isn’t Reyes… He certainly isn’t “the future.”

But one thing is for sure- Flores has a whole lot of potential. The question is- can he make good on it?

Today in Baseball: HOF Reflections

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I felt that it was critical to move my “Today in Baseball” post to Tuesday this week in order to respond to the Baseball Hall of Fame results. So, we won’t see a new Trade Talk Tuesday until next week!

Today, at 2 o’clock ET, we, the general public, discovered that Craig Biggio (82.7%), Pedro Martinez (91.1%), Randy Johnson (97.3%), and John Smoltz (82.9%) were all elected to the Hall of Fame.

Overall, I was very happy with who WAS elected. In my mock ballot from last week, I voted for three of these men (Biggio, Martinez, and Johnson). I didn’t pick Smoltz, but I definitely believe he’s a Hall of Famer, and I solely left him off my ballot in order to leave space for some guys that I felt would get less support (Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling). All of these four men had tremendous careers and are deserving of a bronze plaque in Cooperstown.

However, I was extremely upset with who WASN’T selected…

Mike Piazza (69.9%) is the greatest offensive catcher in MLB history. Plain and simple. He finished his career with 427 home runs, a .308 batting average, and 1,335 RBIs, some outstanding statistics. He was a 12x All-Star, a 10x Silver Slugger, and the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year. His accolades and statistics were clearly phenomenal, but to add to his legacy: he hit one of the most powerful and significant home runs in MLB history… Watch the touching video below:

Please, watch that video.

Please, take a quick glance at Piazza’s statistics and accolades.

Please, think about Piazza’s underdog story (drafted in 62nd round of 1988 draft as a favor from Tommy Lasorda to his good friend, Piazza’s father).

Please, find any definitive evidence that Piazza used PEDs.

If you have fulfilled the first three requests, and have failed to complete the last one, you know. You know and understand that Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer. End of story.

Moving on.

On my ballot, aside from Piazza, there were 6 players that I voted for that didn’t get in. They were:

  • Jeff Bagwell (55.7%)
  • Barry Bonds (36.8%)
  • Roger Clemens (37.5%)
  • Mike Mussina (24.6%)
  • Curt Schilling (39.2%)
  • Edgar Martinez (27%)

While I am disappointed that none of them got in, I honestly expected it. The latter 3 are victims of overlooking and undervaluing certain aspects, or the whole, of their career. The first 3 didn’t get in due to steroid issues: suspicion for Bagwell, and certainty for Bonds and Clemens. I hope, and believe, that all of these 6 guys, who are each extremely deserving, will one day end up in Cooperstown.

Lastly, I’m quite disappointed that Carlos Delgado (3.8%) has fallen off the ballot, as his percentage was less than 5%. He hit for 473 home runs, a .280 batting average, 1,512 RBIs, and 2,038 hits during his career. He excelled as a hitter during the Steroid Era, and he did it clean. He put up numbers comparable to some of the steroid users that the BBWAA so emphatically despises- and he did it the right way. He succeeded as a monk in a city of gamblers. Due to his excellent career achievements, the way in which he reached them, and the era that he played in, I believe that Carlos Delgado is a Hall of Famer. I can only hope that the Veteran’s Committee gets it right and puts him in the Hall when he becomes eligible once again.

Some final food for thought about Delgado? Take a peek at this photo that a fan tweeted. It’s a page from a Spanish magazine that puts Delgado’s numbers up against those of Hall of Famers. (Note: “jonrones” means home runs, “empijadas” means RBIs)

Today in Baseball: Hall of Fame Edition

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On January 6th of the new year, at 2 PM ET, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce their next class of inductees.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has been criticized a lot in recent years, due to their unwillingness to induct “suspected” steroid users, the fact that zero legends were inducted in 2013, and the MLB’s persistence in continuing the ban of Pete Rose, one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

This year, there’s a pretty nice ballot. Several returnees, like Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell, reemerge to the forefront of conversation; well known steroid abusers, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, add some spice to the conversation; and then there are the newcomers, like Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez, who bring something new to the party.

Here’s what my ballot would look like if I had one…

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Randy Johnson
  • Pedro Martinez
  • Mike Mussina
  • Mike Piazza
  • Curt Schilling
  • Edgar Martinez

And now for my explanation of each of these guys…

Jeff Bagwell was truly one of the great power hitters of his generation. He spent 15 years in the big leagues, all with the Houston Astros. He finished his career with 449 home runs and a .297 batting average. He made it to four All-Star games, won three Silver Slugger Awards, and earned a Gold Glove in 1994. However, the most notable of his accolades was his 1994 NL MVP Award. Regardless of the rumors about his steroid usage (which have never been proven, or anything close to it), Baggy deserves a gold plaque in Cooperstown.

Craig Biggio, Bagwell’s teammate and partner-in-crime, also played in Houston for his entire career, from 1988 to 2007. Mainly a second baseman, Biggio was a true super-utility, as he could also play catcher and outfield, all at an All-Star level. He finished his career a member of the 3,000 hit club- he has the 21st most hits in league history. Biggio also ended up with 414 stolen bases, 291 home runs, and a .281 average. He won five Silver Sluggers and four Gold Gloves, as well as being elected to seven All Star Games. Biggio was a rare breed- a player that could excel as a hitter, fielder, and baserunner; a player who could play at several different positions; a player who had true character; a player who stayed with one team through it all. Because of this all, though his stats aren’t the greatest anyone has ever seen, Biggio is the true definition of a Hall of Fame player.

Barry Bonds was the greatest player that I’ve ever seen, and arguably the greatest of all time (I said arguably). He was the most electric player of his generation. The combination of power, contact, and speed made him a the force to be reckoned with. Even before he ever as much as touched a syringe, he already had three NL MVP Awards under his belt. While the steroid situation may take away from his legacy and reputation as a person, it most certainly shouldn’t take away from his legacy as a ballplayer. He already was on track to be one of the greatest players of all time BEFORE he used the steroids. Now, of course, his stats may have been somewhat inflated by the ‘roids. He probably wouldn’t be the all time home run leader, but he’d surely be close. What people forget is that Bonds already had the skill- the steroids didn’t make him a better player, they just made him stronger. Heck, Jay Gibbons has been accused of using steroids, and that guy batted .260 with 127 home runs. Bonds isn’t the greatest guy, and yea, he cheated, but he was already a superstar. I’m not in any way approving steroids- quite the contrary, actually. I’m not sure that the majority of the successful steroid users deserve to get in, but there are some exceptions. Barry Lamar Bonds is one of them…

…and so is Roger Clemens. Being a Mets fan, I especially despise this man. Not only was he a Yankee, but he repeatedly started problems with the Mets, most notably the “bat incident”. How big of an A-Hole do you have to be to throw a broken bat at another person, particularly a superstar [Mike Piazza]?! But, regardless of his character issues, Clemens is still the most dominant pitcher of his generation, and maybe of all time. His seven Cy Young Awards are an example of his sheer dominance, as are his eleven All Star appearances, his MVP Award, his two Pitching Triple Crowns, his two World Series wins, and all of his other accolades. Overall, there really is no doubt that Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Randy Johnson, AKA “The Big Unit,” was one of the few pitchers that could even be named in the same sentence as Clemens… The 6’10” southpaw maintained dominance throughout his 22 years in the MLB. He finished up with the 22nd most wins and the 2nd most strikeouts in MLB history. He had ten All-Star appearances, 5 Cy Young Awards, a World Series victory, a no-hitter, and a perfect game, just to name a few of his accomplishments. Randy Johnson deserves to live on amongst the immortals, no less gain a plaque in the Hall.

Pedro Martinez was just about the only pitcher besides Randy Johnson that could be mentioned alongside Roger Clemens. “Petey” was a superb pitcher, one who, according to Baseball Reference, is the 15th best pitcher in MLB history. His stats don’t quite do his legacy any justice, as he was much better than his 219 wins would lead you to believe. He finished with the 2nd highest winning percentage in MLB history. Just let that sink in for a bit… Better than Cy Young, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson. Better than them all. As Mets fans, we sometimes overlook Pedro’s legacy here in Flushing. He was at the top of his game in 2005, giving us one of his best seasons of his career. In 2006, he started off great, but injuries got the best of him. Those injuries basically derailed Pedro for the rest of his Mets tenure, and ultimately, his career. Just imagine that, if Pedro didn’t get injured during his time with the Mets, his career would’ve ended up even better than it already is. Pedro was an all time great, and an excellent postseason performer, and he most certainly belongs in Cooperstown.

Oriole and Yankee great, Mike Mussina, had an illustrious career. The most notable of his all-time stats is that he ranks 19th amongst all pitchers in career strikeouts. He was selected to five All-Star Games and won seven Gold Glove Awards. While he never quite reached the very top, with no Cy Young Awards, he sure got close, finishing in the top-five six times. He finished with 270 career wins. Mussina’s career is fairly comparable to that of fellow Oriole great, Jim Palmer, and he’s considered to be one of the best pitchers in league history. As a result, there is no doubt in my mind that “Moose” deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

And then we get to Mike Piazza. The Mets legend. The greatest offensive catcher in MLB history. The subject of many steroid rumors, all of which have zero foundation. Piazza is one of the most deserving members of this class of potential inductees. While he wasn’t a great defensive catcher, he was better than people originally thought. And, regardless of his defensive skill, or lack thereof, Piazza’s offense was something to be remembered. Piazza, the last player picked in the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft, was asked by LA Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the best friend of Piazza’s father, to give up first base in favor of catcher. Piazza listened, and the rest is history. He was a twelve time All Star, a ten time Silver Slugger, and a former NL Rookie of the Year. Mike was traded to the Mets in the spring of 1998, after just five games in a Marlins uniform, and he went on to further his superstardom. He finished his career with 427 home runs, the most by a catcher, a .308 batting average, and 1,335 RBIs. There is no question that Piazza earned the right to call himself a “Hall of Famer.”

Curt Schilling is a borderline-HOF caliber pitcher who played 20 years in the bigs, splitting time with the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, and most notably the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. He was a three-time World Series champion, sharing the World Series MVP with teammate Randy Johnson in 2001, and playing an intricate role in the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 World Series runs. He was a phenomenal postseason performer, going 11-2 in all of his career playoff starts, and putting up a .846 winning percentage in playoff games, the highest of any pitcher with 10+ decisions. He also finished in the top-4 of Cy Young voting four times, three of which he came in second place. He has the fifteenth most strikeouts of all time, with 3,116. Schilling finished his career with a nice career record of 216-146. For all of his accomplishments, during both the regular and postseason, he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

For the last spot on the ballot, I had a pretty difficult time. I had to decide between Edgar Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Tim Raines, and Larry Walker. All of these guys can have a nice argument made in their favor, but in the end, it came down to Martinez and Mattingly, for me. It’s Mattingly’s last year on the ballot, and he had a nice career- former MVP and a legend for the most illustrious team in MLB history, the Yankees. Martinez played for longer and put up better stats. In the end, I had to go with Edgar Martinez. He is one of the greatest players in Seattle Mariners history, and his famous hit, “The Double,” from the 1995 ALDS is arguably the most famous play in team history. He revolutionized the position of Designated Hitter, as he’s the only DH to ever win a batting title. Edgar finished up with 309 home runs and a .312 batting average, and while those are good numbers, they don’t do Martinez’s career justice. Here’s what does: Mariano Rivera said that the toughest batter he ever faced was Edgar Martinez. That all but sums it up- Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Fame-worthy player.

 

So, there’s my ballot, folks. Share your opinions with me in the COMMENT section!

Today in Baseball: San Diego Padres, Offseason Superstars?

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We’re at a point in the offseason where things are sort of at a stand-still- well, at least for most teams. Big-market, East-coast teams like the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox haven’t made any largely impactful moves since the Winter Meetings, if not earlier.

However, there are a few Western teams that haven’t gotten stuck in this aforementioned stalemate, namely the San Diego Padres.

With their new General Manager, former Texas Rangers’ assistant GM A.J. Preller, the Pads have been one of, if not the, most active team thus far this offseason.

First, they traded a package centered around Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp…

Then, they traded a bunch of prospects to Tampa Bay for Wil Myers…

Afterwards, they traded a couple of young pitchers to Oakland for All-Star catcher, Derek Norris.

And finally, this past Friday, the Padres received Justin Upton from Atlanta in exchange for a few high-profile prospects.

San Diego’s positional lineup/starting rotation/bullpen at this point in time is as follows:

C: Derek Norris
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Jedd Gyorko
3B: Yangervis Solarte
SS: Clint Barmes
LF: Justin Upton
CF: Wil Myers
RF: Matt Kemp

SP1: Andrew Cashner
SP2: Tyson Ross
SP3: Ian Kennedy
SP4: Odrisamer Despaigne
SP5: Brandon Morrow/Robbie Erlin

RP: Alex Torres
SU: Kevin Quackenbush
CL: Joaquin Benoit

Obviously, that [offensive] lineup has four bright spots, each of the four acquisitions that I previously mentioned. Last season, those four guys combined for 70 home runs, a .262 batting average, 237 runs, and 281 RBIs. Which is particularly extraordinary when compared to the combined stats of last year’s three outfielders and catcher (Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Yasmani Grandal): 36 home runs, a .238 batting average, 173 runs, and 145 RBIs.

However, those four players don’t make up the entire Pads lineup…

Yonder Alonso was, as of 2011, the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system and the 30th best in the entire MLB. While he hasn’t lived up to the hype thus far, and he’s coming off of a bad season in 2014, he’s still only 27 years old. His main downfall has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching, and if he can conquer that, he has the chance to be a solid starting first baseman.

Jedd Gyorko is another Padres prospect who hasn’t panned out fully so far. In 2012, he was the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system, and the 52nd in all of baseball. He has tremendous power- hitting for 33 home runs in his first two seasons (2013, 2014) in the MLB. He came up as a third baseman, so moving him to second base originally came with some struggles, but he has started to settle in. The real concern with Gyorko is his overall bat- he hits for a horrendous average. Of course, it’s a relatively small sample size, but thus far, he has a .231 lifetime batting average. If he, and the lineup, can overcome his inability to hit for contact, the Padres will be in good shape.

Then there’s Yangervis Solarte… He rose to fame as the unheralded backup infielder who made it into the Yankees lineup early last season. While he started off playing phenomenally, he just couldn’t keep up the pace. He had been sent down to the minors by the time the Yanks’ traded him to San Diego for Chase Headley. While he hit for a better average and nearly as many home runs during the remainder of the season, Solarte still looked like a different player than the scorching young phenom from early in the season. Given the fact that he hadn’t played in the MLB until last season, it is unclear as to whether he’ll ever be that same player, or if it was a fluke.

And finally, there’s Clint Barmes. The 35 year old journeyman seems more like a stopgap for the Padres. Maybe they plan on trading for another shortstop, or signing someone else… Or maybe they plan on starting Barmes for a year or two until a better opportunity arises, whether it be from a prospect or an acquisition. Either way, Barmes shouldn’t be tremendously impactful, regardless of how often, or for how long, he plays.

The Padres starting rotation looks pretty good, as well. Andrew Cashner had some phenomenal games last season, and it can be expected that he improve even further this season. Tyson Ross looks like a star in the making, and is also a prospect for tremendous growth in 2015. Ian Kennedy also put together a nice season last year, and although he’s been quite inconsistent throughout his career, could potentially replicate that pace next season. The Cuban import Odrisamer Despaigne had several dominant outings last season, and could be a nice #4 starter. Finally, the young-gun Robbie Erlin and the veteran Brandon Morrow will fight it out for the fifth spot.

Finally, the bullpen, while efficient, is an area in which they could improve. Quackenbush and Torres were largely reliable out of the ‘pen last season, so the real concern lies with closer Joaquin Benoit. The 37 year old only had 12 save opportunities last season, so with his age coupled with his lack of experience as a full-time closer, Benoit could end up being a major concern later on.

Overall, it can be assumed that the Padres aren’t done making acquisitions. They have a surplus of outfielders, with Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, and others practically in limbo. Maybe they trade some of those guys for a bullpen arm, a shortstop, a third baseman, or even a starting pitcher… Maybe they flip the newly acquired Wil Myers to Philly for Cole Hamels… Maybe they sign Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada…

All in all, it remains to be seen what A.J. Preller will do next…

Today in Baseball: The Offseason Just Keeps on Trucking

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After a highly eventful Winter Meetings, this past weekend was relatively quiet in terms of MLB transactions. We basically just saw the finalization of moves made at the Meetings, like the Twins-Ervin Santana signing, the Wade Miley-to-the-Red Sox trade, and the Astros signing of two relievers- Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek.

However, today, a few MLB transactions came to fruition:

For one, the Astros signed shortstop Jed Lowrie to a three-year deal. The deal guarantees $23 million, with another $5 million potentially added, which will be dependent on a 2018 team option. Lowrie developed in Boston, playing for the Red Sox from 2008 to 2011. After the 2011 season, he was traded to the Houston Astros in a deal that sent reliever Mark Melancon to the Red Sox. After playing just one season with the Astros, he was shipped to Oakland in exchange for a package centered around power-hitting DH/1B, Chris Carter. After playing two seasons in Oakland, Lowrie hit the free agent market. His return to Houston should be a substantial upgrade for the team, who was previously expected to play Marwin Gonzalez at short. Lowrie is a horrific baserunner, especially when you consider that he’s a shortstop, usually a position that warrants speed. However, he’s an above-average hitter, and has had some flashes of good power, and he’s quite a solid defender.

Lowrie was previously considered to be one of the many options to fill the Mets apparent void at shortstop, but now that he’s off of the market, the Mets will have to look elsewhere for such. Stephen Drew, Yoan Moncada, Jung-Ho Kang, and Brad Miller appear to be the most likely options as of today (if they don’t stick with Wilmer Flores).

The other notable move of the day was the Yankees re-signing of third baseman Chase Headley, who they’ll pay $52 million over 4 years. Headley, one of the top third basemen in the MLB today, was traded to the Yankees at last season’s trade deadline. He’s mainly known for his tremendous 2012 season, in which he won a Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and led the NL in RBIs, but that’s not the only season in which he’s impressed. He was one of the Yankees top priorities this season, and their locking him up should be viewed as a positive move. This will likely send either Alex Rodriguez or the former Met, Chris Young, to the bench, while the other will play Designated Hitter.

Lastly, on the homefront, the Mets made two moves today, one of which resulted from the other. The Mets agreed to sign John Mayberry to a 1-year, $1.45 million contract on the last day of the Winter Meetings, last Thursday. The deal was finalized today. While not a tremendously “sexy” move, it shouldn’t go unnoticed… After signing Michael Cuddyer to play right-field, the Mets had three main priorities: signing a right-handed backup outfielder, acquiring a starting shortstop, and acquiring a left-handed relief pitcher. Through this signing, they’ve achieved one of those goals. The 30-year old outfielder hasn’t been very consistent over his six-year career, but he has displayed tremendous power at points. As a specialty backup player, Mayberry could be quite impactful. He’s a lefty-killer, an unbelievable pinch hitter, and someone whose power doesn’t apply to Citi Field, as we saw throughout his six seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In order to clear up room for Mayberry on the 40-man roster, the Mets were forced to DFA Gonzalez Germen. Germen, who has constantly been called-up and sent-down by the Mets since 2013, is a 27 year old Dominican reliever. He is expected to either be sent to the Mets AAA affiliates, the Las Vegas 51s, or to hit the open market.

Today, we saw the Mets lose out on a shortstop candidate, see their crosstown rivals sign a nice player, add a solid bench piece, and DFA a fringe-MLB reliever. Now, they just need to get a shortstop…

Today in Baseball: Mondays Continue to Impress

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So far this MLB offseason, nearly every big story has broken on a Monday. First there was Joe Maddon to the Cubs; then Michael Cuddyer to the Mets; then Russell Martin to the Jays, J-Hey to the Cardinals, and Giancarlo mega-extension; then the Red Sox inked Han-Ram and Pablo Sandoval. And this Monday has been no different.

Today’s headline move was Nelson Cruz heading to Seattle.

Last season, with the Orioles, he led the AL in home runs with 40. He only ended up in Baltimore due to a PED scandal in late 2013 that left a sour taste in the mouths of most teams. The O’s took a flier on Cruz, inking him to a one-year, $8 million deal (yes, that’s the virtually the same contract that Chris Young signed with the Mets).

After “Nellie’s” tremendous 2014 campaign, a large contract was a foregone conclusion. It had been reported recently that the two main contenders to sign Cruz were the Baltimore Orioles (the incumbents) and the Seattle Mariners (the newcomers).

Ultimately, today at around 11 AM Eastern Time, Cruz made his decision. He signed with the Seattle Mariners on a 4-year, $57 million contract. This deal was first reported by a Dominican news site, El Caribe, and later confirmed by baseball writer Jerry Crasnick.

Nelson Cruz is a tremendous offensive addition to the Mariners lineup. Regardless of whether Cruz replaces Stefan Romero at DH or Michael Saunders in RF, his tools, particularly his power hitting, will be invaluable. Cruz is projected to slot as the cleanup hitter behind Robinson Cano. A top-5 of Austin Jackson, Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager is very good. Now, the M’s just need to focus on solidifying the rest of their team.