Tag Archives: mlb offseason

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

Semien

“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.”

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?

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!

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

Nick Markakis signs with Atlanta Braves

MLB: JUL 20 Rays at Orioles

Outfielder Nick Markakis has signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves. The contract will be for 4-years, $45 million. This deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

The former Baltimore Oriole is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, and while he’s never been selected to an All Star Game, he has been a very good hitter throughout his career.

After trading away one of the best outfielders in the MLB just a few weeks ago, they’ve just signed another player in that same category. As of now, Markakis will man right field while the Upton brothers will be placed in left and center field.

That is, unless Justin Upton is traded. He has been on the trading block for virtually all of this offseason, with teams like the Mariners and A’s at the forefront of that conversation. With the addition of another outfielder, this could be the end for Justin Upton in Atlanta.

While Markakis is surely a good fit in Atlanta, this pairing, just like any other, is not without its pitfalls. Virtually all of his power is towards right field, and what with Turner Field having a quite deeper right field than Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a slight dip in his home run numbers can be expected.

In regard to his old team, the Baltimore Orioles, several former teammates of his have been publicly disappointed by the move:

The Orioles are set for a large regression next season. With Nelson Cruz in Seattle, Markakis in Atlanta, and Andrew Miller likely on his way out, the O’s are on the verge of losing their most productive hitter, fielder, and reliever, respectively. As a result, they’ve already seen a major drop off in right field (now David Lough) and at designated hitter (now Steve Pearce). If they do indeed lose out on Miller, their bullpen will be in shambles as well. With the re-emergence of the Red Sox and Blue Jays, don’t be surprised if the O’s go from a 96-win team to an 80-win one…

Trade Talk Tuesday: Xander Bogaerts

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The Red Sox recently signed star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and while he says that he’s willing to play anywhere, and analysts no longer view him as a shortstop, and he’s now expected to play left field, things can always change. Han-Ram has been viewed as a shortstop his whole career, and a pretty darn good one at that. If they get an offer that they like, it seems likely that the Sox would be willing to trade Xander Bogaerts and play Hanley at the position he’s most comfortable with. While trading Bogaerts isn’t a priority for them, it is expected that Boston will listen to offers for the star prospect shortstop. It’s likely that they’d have to acquire at least one pitcher that would slot near the front or middle of their starting rotation.

The Mets need for a shortstop and their surplus of pitching has been cited in nearly all of our previous “Trade Talk Tuesdays”. The basic overview is no different in this case. Bogaert’s would be a great fit to start at short in Flushing, and the Mets are looking to trade at least one of their starting pitchers.

With the Sox potential willingness to move Bogaerts, and the Mets possession of plenty of talent at starting pitcher, it seems as though these two teams would be more than able to get a deal done.

However, due to Bogaerts high prospect ranking, and the Red Sox apparently wanting to trade Yoenis Cespedes, a third team may have to come into play. The Cincinnati Reds would be a perfect team to fit that role, what with their weak left field position and strong starting rotation.

Here’s my proposal:

Mets get: Sean Marshall, Xander Bogaerts
Reds get:
Yoenis Cespedes, cash from New York
Red Sox get: 
Jon Niese, Mat Latos

This blockbuster trade seems as though it’d make sense for all involved parties…

The Reds benefit by letting go of two contracts that are set to expire within the next two years (one for Marshall, two for Latos). While these are both very good pitchers, they can become expendable with the right price. Letting go of Latos clears up a rotational spot for their top prospect, starting pitcher Robert Stephenson. Also, moving on from Marshall frees up a lot of cap space. Losing Marshall doesn’t affect the bullpen that much, as the Reds’ “pen” is quite deep.

Addition-wise, the Reds adding Yoenis Cespedes in left field is huge. Cespedes, Billy Hamilton, and Jay Bruce could form a lethal outfield trio for years to come. Cespedes is a terrific hitter and fielder, so he would be a tremendous upgrade over Skip Schumacher at this position, on both sides of the ball. He would be a game-changer, and could potentially push the Reds into the playoff discussion.

The Red Sox acquire two front-of-the-line starting pitchers for the price of two semi-expendable players. Yes, Cespedes and Bogaerts are good, but with the increasing depth of this lineup, their placements have come under question. Latos and Niese would slot as their first and third starting pitchers, respectively, giving the pitching staff an immediate boost. If they were then able to sign Jon Lester, this pitching rotation would go from pretty terrible to really good in a matter of weeks, if not days.

Finally, the Mets adding Sean Marshall and Xander Bogaerts would be tremendous, as they would fill their two biggest needs at the moment. The Mets are in need of a viable left-handed relief pitcher, and Marshall fits that bill perfectly. And of course, the Mets need a shortstop, and Bogaerts is just the right guy.

Let’s take a closer look at young Xander Bogaerts: he has good power, great speed, a fluid swing, can hit for a nice average, and is quite a good fielder. He’s also only 22 year old. All of those skills are what the Mets would be looking for out of an everyday shortstop, and he’s got all of them.

Check out what the Mets positional lineup would look like:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Lucas Duda

2B: Daniel Murphy
3B: David Wright
SS: Xander Bogaerts
LF: Curtis Granderson
CF: Juan Lagares
RF: Michael Cuddyer

That is, without a doubt, a massive improvement over the lineup that we have today, and if all of these guys pan out, the Mets would be looking at October baseball.

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