Monthly Archives: December 2014

What if Wednesday: Justin Upton

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In the offseason of 2012-13, the Mets made a push for Justin Upton. Upton, then of the Arizona Diamondbacks, was just 25 years old and was considered to be one of the best outfielders in the game.

Supposedly, Sandy Alderson was pushing hard for Upton, trying to make a trade work for a while. Eventually, this effort failed.

Upton was traded along with Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves in January of 2013 in exchange for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado and three prospects- Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury.

But what would a Mets trade for Upton look like? What would change as a result of this acquisition?

  • The Mets trade Daniel Murphy, Jenrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, and Rafael Montero to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Justin Upton and Chris Owings.
  • Let’s take a brief look at how this one trade two winters ago would’ve impacted the way this offseason (2014-15) has played out…
    • With Justin Upton on the Mets, the Braves clearly can’t send him along to San Diego. The Padres killer offseason comes out a notch below where it is today.
    • The Pads’ lose out on Upton, and so, have no need to trade Seth Smith to the Mariners. He remains in San Diego.
    • Even with Upton, the Mets still sign Cuddyer to fill out the outfield, forming the “Norfolk Three” with Upton, David Wright, and Cuddyer.
    • Because Martin Prado is never a Diamondback, he can’t be traded to the Yankees in the summer of 2014. As a result, the Yanks can’t send him to Miami. Prado is still a Brave, and Nathan Eovaldi is still a Marlin.
    • Now that the Marlins don’t have Prado, they have no reason to trade Casey McGehee to the San Francisco Giants, and he thus continues to call Miami home.
    • With the Giants missing out on Chase Headley, and now not acquiring Casey McGehee, they’re in some big trouble at third base. They make a greater push for Asdrubal Cabrera, ultimately signing him, as he spurns the Tampa Bay Rays.
    • The Rays don’t sign Cabrera to add to their surplus of infield talent, and thus, all of these Ben Zobrist trade rumors (particularly to the Mets) are, more or less, obsolete.
    • The D-Backs don’t trade Didi Gregorius to the New York Yankees, as they have nobody else at shortstop, with Chris Owings a Met and Nick Ahmed still a Brave.
    • The Yankees need to find another shortstop, so they go out and place the winning bid on Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang.
    • And lastly, the Mets aren’t the subject of every shortstop rumor, because they already have their shortstop of the future in Chris Owings…
  • Now we can rewind a little bit…
    • The Braves need to acquire another outfielder to accompany Jason Heyward and BJ Upton after failing to acquire the latter’s brother. With all of the big-time corner outfielders off of the market, the Braves really have nowhere to go… They place utility-man Evan Gattis in left field.
    • In the 2013 season, the Braves don’t perform to the level that they did in the “real world” without Justin Upton, but they still just barely sneak into the playoffs with the weak NL East. They get swept in the NLDS by the LA Dodgers.
    • The Mets don’t sign Curtis Granderson in the winter of 2013 because they already have Upton and Lagares, and plan on signing another outfielder the following offseason. He ends up back with the Yankees on a lesser contract.
  • And many, many, many more things would’ve changed if Upton was a Met…

What else do you think would’ve changed? Let me know in the COMMENT section!

Trade Talk Tuesday: Nothing New Here…

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On this day, there’s really no other trade proposals that I can make… I’ve already posted about Starlin, Javy Baez, Tulo, and Alexei. And while I think that Ben Zobrist would be a nice addition, I think his age, the fact that he only has one year left under contract, and his lack of history at the shortstop position all lead me to believe that Sandy won’t make a play for him.

I have just one thing to say…

SANDY, GO GET TULO!

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!

Trivia Friday: December 26th

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The answer to the last question was… FOUR!

Four players with surnames beginning with “Z” have, at one point or another, donned a Mets uniform. They were Pat Zachry, Victor Zambrano, Todd Zeile, and Don Zimmer.

And now for this week’s question…

Throwback Thursday: Christmas Birthdays

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On this wonderful Christmas day, we look back in Mets history to see what notable events occurred on this day.

Since baseball, of course, isn’t played in December, and teams usually don’t finalize transactions on the holiday, opting to spend time with the family, it was difficult to come upon a notable event from Mets history that took place on December 25th.

And then I found two. Two notable players from Mets history, regardless of for how long they donned the blue and orange, were born on this day.

First, there was Rickey Henderson- the fastest, most incredible baserunner in MLB history. One of, if not the, greatest left fielder in MLB history. He was a Met from the 1999 season into early 2000. For more on his impact in Mets history, check out my article “What if Wednesday: Rickey Henderson”.

Here’s Rickey’s Hall of Fame Induction speech, which came after he received 94.8% of the vote in 2009, his first year on the ballot.

Happy Birthday, Rickey!!

The other Mets birthday today is that of Al Jackson. The southpaw starting pitcher, fondly known as “Little Al,” pitched for the Mets from 1962-1965, and then again from 1968-1969. While most of his records have been broken, he set virtually every Mets pitching record during his time with the team.

He established a Mets single-season record for walks in 1962, which he broke himself in 1963.

He established a Mets single-season record for shutouts in a single season in 1962.

He established a Mets single-season record for strikeouts in 1962, which he then broke in 1963.

He established a Mets single-season record for wins in 1963.

He established a Mets record for all-time shutouts.

Al Jackson was one of the first Mets, and he was a great one no less… And on this Christmas day, we shouldn’t forget his impact.

Happy Birthday, Al!!

What if Wednesday: Rickey Henderson

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Before the 1999 season, the Mets signed one of the best left fielders in MLB history, in Rickey Henderson. However, Henderson hadn’t made an All-Star game since 1991, nine years earlier, and was clearly entering the twilight of his career. He put up some nice numbers in 1999, winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Aside from that, his statistical impact wasn’t major, but his overall impact was tremendous…

What would’ve changed had the Mets passed up on the opportunity to sign Henderson in the winter of 1998?

  • In Henderson, the Mets signed a starting left fielder and a leadoff hitter. Now that they passed on him, the Mets use in-house options to fill these two roles. Bobby Valentine slots Benny Agbayani in left field and gives the role of leadoff hitter to the team’s speedy right fielder, Roger Cedeño.
  • With the Mets no longer an option, Rickey has to look elsewhere for work. He ends up going back to his hometown of Chicago, IL, and joins the speed-starved Chicago Cubs lineup.
  • In Chicago, the Cubs had a nice hitter in LF already, with Henry Rodriguez, and they had superstar Sammy Sosa in right. As a result, Rickey has to man center field, which was not his primary position.
  • With the addition of Henderson, the Cubs put up an ever-so-slightly better performance in 1999, finishing second-to-last in the NL Central as opposed to fourth-to-last in the entire MLB.
  • After gaining a full-time spot as the Mets’ left fielder, Benny Agbayani excels, taking advantage of the depth of the left field wall. He gains a reputation as a nice power hitter and sticks around in the MLB for far longer than he actually did (he was out of the league after the 2002 season).
  • However, the absence of Rickey’s impact in New York changed a lot. In reality, he acted as a mentor to Roger Cedeño, teaching him maturity and helping him develop his speed and offensive skills. Without Henderson’s presence, it’s doubtful that Cedeño would’ve ended up with 66 steals and a .313 batting average.
  • With Henderson no longer in Flushing, and Cedeño giving a depleted effort, the Mets don’t end up winning the NL Wild Card spot, and miss the playoffs.
  • Instead, the Cincinnati Reds snatch that NL Wild Card spot. With their subpar pitching rotation, the Reds fail to defeat the Randy Johnson-led Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the MLB Playoffs.
  • However, the D-Backs are no match for the Braves, and they get swept right out of the playoffs.
  • With all of that momentum riding into the World Series, the Braves are able to put up more of a fight against the Yankees, not getting swept. They still can’t win the series though, losing in 6 games.
  • With Roger Cedeño not living up to his full potential with the absence of his would-be-mentor, Rickey Henderson, he isn’t valuable enough to be traded after the season to Houston in exchange for Mike Hampton, an All-Star in 1999.
  • Hampton was a key part of the Mets 2000 playoff run, that ultimately resulted in a World Series loss to our crosstown foes, the New York Yankees. He won the NLCS MVP with two wins. Without Hampton, the Mets lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games, failing to make the World Series.
  • All of these changes will lead to a bunch of other changes throughout the league…

What else do you think would’ve changed if Rickey was never a Met?

COMMENT your responses!

Trade Talk Tuesday: Troy Tulowitzki

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As we’ve heard since mid-July, the Mets have been speaking to the Rockies about Troy Tulowitzki for quite some time now. And every time another rumor about these talks pops up, it seems like no more than a mean tease to us Mets fans. But, through the frequency of these talks, it seems likely that it’s more than that…

“Tulo” has been a premier shortstop in the MLB since entering the league in 2006. He has blossomed even further, becoming one of the best hitters in the National League, arguably third behind only Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton.

There are only two concerns with Tulowitzki- his proneness to injury and his large contract. He’s guaranteed $129 million over the next 7 years, and he’ll be 37 years old when the contract expires. In terms of injuries, so far in his career, “Tulo” has had: torn quadriceps tendon, cut right palm, fractured wrist, left groin surgery, fractured right rib, injured left hip leading to labral repair surgery.

However, regardless of his downfalls, Tulowitzki is still one of the premier players in the MLB, and his addition would push the Mets over the edge and make them a potential World Series contender.

Here’s my proposal:

Mets get: Troy Tulowitzki, Rex Brothers, cash considerations
Rockies get: Noah Syndergaard, Dillon Gee, Dilson Herrera, Kevin Plawecki

This trade makes sense for both sides…

The Mets are in need of a shortstop and are clearly interested in Tulowitzki, so it goes without saying that he’d be a tremendous addition. Rex Brothers would also be a nice addition, as the Mets have been looking for a lefty bullpen arm to accompany Josh Edgin. Also, the additional cash considerations could cover a portion of Tulo’s contract.

Now, this trade also makes the Rockies more adept for future contention. They get the ace they’ve been longing for in Noah Syndergaard… Dillon Gee, who they showed tremendous interest in at the Winter Meetings, would also serve as their #2 or #3 pitcher. Dilson Herrera, a top second base prospect who has a great bat and is also a great fielder, would assume the role as the team’s starting second baseman. And Kevin Plawecki, a top catching prospect who has a nice bat, would become the team’s catcher of the future, as Wilin Rosario hasn’t been reliable enough to assume this role.

DJ LeMahieu, the team’s current second baseman, would shift to shortstop, a position that he played until midway through his college experience.

To make this deal even more enticing for Colorado, all three of the prospects that they receive are 23 or younger, and they all are expected to be fully MLB-ready by mid-season. Also, Dillon Gee is only 28 years old and won’t hit free agency until 2017.

Check out what the Mets potential lineup would be if this trade went through:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Lucas Duda
2B: Daniel Murphy
3B: David Wright
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
LF: Curtis Granderson
CF: Juan Lagares
RF: Michael Cuddyer

Now that… That’s a playoff team!

Let me know what you think about this potential trade in the COMMENT section! Would the Rockies do it? Should the Mets do it? Does this make the Mets a playoff team?

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…

Interview with David Aardsma

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David has pitched in the MLB for 10 years, from 2004 to 2013. He pitched for the Mets in 2013. Follow him on twitter at @TheDA53.

Kings of Queens: You were drafted in the first round of the 2003 MLB Draft, which is really awesome… What was your reaction when you got the call from the Giants? What was the first thing that you bought?

David Aardsma: I was so excited to get that phone call that I actually forgot who I got drafted by, haha. My heart was pumping so fast I didn’t hear who it was, I couldn’t believe it. My lifelong dream was coming true and I couldn’t even grasp who it was that actually drafted me. haha. The first thing of significance that I bought was a car, I had been driving my sister’s Explorer so I traded that in (took the money I got for it and gave that to her) for a 2004 Navigator. It took me a good seven months before I bought it, I wanted to make sure it was exactly what I wanted.

KOQ: Who is the toughest batter that you’ve ever had to face?

DA: The toughest batter I have ever faced…. this is tough. There are several batters I have struggled with during my careers but there is definitely a pattern to them. I have made my living on getting hitters to try to hit fastballs that were either to fast or to high for them, I dont have great control but I don’t miss by a lot either. I throw my fair share of balls and I have my fair share of walks but I generally force deep count when I walk guys and am around the plate a ton. I like to challenge hitters with good rising fastballs, but there is one particular type of hitter that does well against me because of that. Some of the characteristics of hitters that I struggle against are great plate discipline, power, but willing to go with a pitch to get a hit. These hitters dont swing at my out-pitches (generally not strikes) and have the ability to drive my strike pitches. Hitters like Bobby Abreu, Mark Teixiera, Torii Hunter, Hideki Matsui. I very rarely get these hitters to swing at the pitches I want them to swing at.

KOQ: What team were you a fan of growing up? Were you bummed out the first time you had to face them?

DA: I was a huge Cubs fan growing up and thankfully never had to face them until much later, I was actually traded to them long before facing them. It was an absolute dream come true to play for them and put on the Cubs uni. It also tore my heart out when I got traded.

KOQ: What is the funniest behind-the-scenes story that you experienced during your MLB career?

DA: One of the funniest stories…. One of the funnier moments (that I can speak of :-) )  happened with the Mets last year. Our rookie dress up was easily the best rookie dress up I have ever been around. We had all the rookies learn Disney songs to sing as duets. Then, we had them dress as a bridal party with Zach Wheeler as the bride; we also decorated the plane and had Dom Perignon champagne for the flight (I lost a bet and had to supply that). When we got to Cincinnati, there was a music festival going on outside our hotel so we made the rookies all in wedding and bridesmaids dresses go dance with the girls at the festival. Then they gave us the mic so the rookies had to sing their songs infront of about a thousand people. It was so much fun and everyone got a kick out of it. (plenty of pictures online).

KOQ: Who was the most influential person on your baseball career?

DA: My first ever pitching coach Tom Page was and still is a huge force for me. He really taught me the value of giving back to the game, never giving up, and always believing in myself. He still calls me all the time to see how I am doing.

KOQ: Do you plan on playing again, or do you consider yourself retired?

DA: I am far from retired, I think some people believe that I am retired because I didn’t pitch in the big leagues last year, but apart from an injury, I actually had a really good season. I am currently training in New Orleans, LA with Brent Pourciau of Topvelocity.net; we are getting a lot stronger than I have ever been in my career, while working on my mechanics to clean up some of the issues I had after my hip and elbow surgeries. After I had those surgeries I unknowingly changed my mechanics and got a lot weaker. I am working my butt off with Brent to get back to my old self.

KOQ: What do you plan on doing after baseball?

DA: I don’t quite know what I want to do after baseball. I have been continuing my college education throughout the last several years. Last offseason I actually did two internships with the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess a resort in Scottsdale Arizona, I worked with their events departments. First thing is I need to finish my degree (im not far at all now) then Ill figure out whats next, I have some good ideas that I’ve been kicking around for a little.

KOQ: When you first got told that you would have to undergo Tommy John Surgery, what was your reaction?

DA: I was shocked!!! I had just come off a hip surgery that I had in Jan of 2011 and on my rehab assignment I knew I had done something to my arm. There was no doubt in my mind something wasn’t right but I was just trying to stay positive. After my hip I think I tried to come back way to fast and wasnt strong enough or ready to put the loads on my arm that I had in the past. I was really eager to prove I was worth the money the Mariners just signed me for and just wasnt ready yet. It was really tough but I am a very level headed person, I never saw that as an end to anything. I am always looking forward to the next challenge.

KOQ: Who was the funniest teammate that you’ve ever had? How was your experience with the Mets organization? Do you keep in touch with any of your teammates from that season?

DA: Last year I became very close to Scott Atchison and Latroy Hawkins. There wasn’t a day that both of them didn’t have me cracking up! I also keep close with Scott Rice (who is hilarious along with his wife Ladawn) and Jeremy Hefner. I was in spring with Shaun Marcum and Aaron Herang. Josh Edgin and I keep in touch often (we were close in NY and in Vegas last year). I saw Greg Burke several times this season in Colorado Springs (great guy), I still talk to vic Black and even though we didn’t actually play together on the Mets last year Aaron Laffey and I are close from the mariners. Pedro Feliciano and can’t get away from eachother, We have played together on 3 different teams the last 3 seasons haha (so we have gotten very close). I speak with Ike Davis every now and then (arizona connection). I had a great time with the mets, they gave me an opportunity to prove myself and I am very thankful for that. As a team we all got along awesome and I loved coming to the ballpark every single day. If we could have stayed healthier I think we could have had a really good chance of competing in the east last year.

KOQ: Who is the closest friend that you’ve made during your time in the league?

DA: My closest friend in baseball? That is tough, I would have to say without a doubt Jason Bulger. We never played together but we have the same agent, we got stuck staying together in his house one year for spring training and we both hated it. We were like oil and water, but once we separated we became closer than ever. He is one of my dearest friends.

 

Make sure to give David a follow on Twitter