Posted on: April 13, 2008 9:13 am
Edited on: April 13, 2008 9:14 am

What to Not Look Forward To

If the Mets don't make significant improvements over the next couple of weeks -- they're 5-5, and can charitably be described as playing "flat" -- manage Willie Randolph will take a fair share of the blame.  But I want the Mets to take a good look at Omar Minaya as well.

Minaya has had a good run of signing big-money, grade-A free agents, and he made the Johan Santana trade happen.  But I want to look at two other areas -- the farm system, and lower-end trades.  I'm beginning to think the Mets are having a very hard time judging talent on the field.

The Mets, as a franchise, have had a long, awful history of trading young players for that last veteran who'll push them over the top -- only to have the veteran become an old man the second he enters the clubhouse at Shea.  Toward that end, I give you the following, all before Minaya came along:

1969 – Amos Otis for Joe Foy.
1971 – Nolan Ryan and three others for Jim Fregosi.
1981 – Jeff Reardon for Ellis Valentine.
1989 – Len Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel.
1989 – Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani and three others for Frank Viola.
1996 – Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza.
1999 – Jason Isringhausen and Greg McMichael for Billy Taylor.
2000 – Melvin Mora and three others for Mike Bordick.
2004 – Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.

Lately, these trades include trading young guys for other young guys -- and watching the players the Mets had become stars.  Here are two:

- Jeff Keppinger for Ruben Gotay.  Keppinger was dealt to the Mets along with Kris Benson, and could have made that deal a win -- except he was sent to Kansas City two years later for Gotay in an exchange of fringe infielders.  Keppinger had shown a little in 2004, batting .284 in 112 ABs.  Gotay had been given a chance at the Kansas City second base job in 2005, but hit .227 (.632 OPS), so the exchange was made.  Today, Keppinger is a Cincinnati Red -- and hit .332 with an .877 OPS last year, improving this season to a .928 OPS.  For the time being, he's the starting shortstop, but he's capable of playing any infield position.  Gotay was waived at the end of spring training.  He's now a bench player in Atlanta.

- Brian Bannister for Ambiorix Burgos.  Bannister's an extremely bright guy (member of Lambda Chi Alpha), and had a few decent starts for the Mets in 2006 before an arm injury, going 2-1.  Last year, he finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting as a Kansas City Royal, going 12-9.  Burgos had saved 18 games for the Royals in 2006, but was dumped out of the closer role after logging a 5.52 ERA.  After 18 games with the Mets in 2007, he was sent back to Triple-A, and has since undergone elbow ligament replacement surgery.  As far as I know, he's still out.

As for the farm system, the best way to judge a team's system overall is by their won-loss record.  In 2004, before Minaya took over, they had a winning percentage of .547.  That's dropped steadily in the past three years, hitting .442 last year.  That's also the lowest percentage the teams' affiliates have posted in the last 15 years.

Neither of these problems are thing Willie Randolph can control.  This is a system-wide problem, and must be corrected if the Mets want to achieve long-term success.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 31, 2008 12:29 pm


It's been pouring here all morning in Chicago, and it's looking very unlikely the Cubs game will go off as scheduled.  Unfortunately, it's also supposed to be lousy all week.  Actually, that fits in with the weather we've been getting all winter (it snowed last Thursday).  At least we don't have to worry about drought restrictions.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 20, 2008 4:01 pm

Glog Glog Glog

Got to glog for my first time today at the first round of the NCAAs, ignoring:

1) I don't know college basketball very well

2) I know Kentucky and Marquette even less.  (I mean, I know where the schools are, but other than that...)

I think I'll stick to baseball and football.  Well, I'll do the Cornell basketball game -- this may be the last time in my lifetime my alma mater plays in an important NCAA game other than hockey and lacrosse.

Posted on: March 4, 2008 3:45 pm

Well, It's Important Around Here

The big news in Chicago -- aside from that guy in Green Bay retiring -- is that Steve Stone will be working the White Sox radio broadcasts full time.  Chris Singleton is going, well, somewhere (probably ESPN, according to the Chicago Tribune, but who's to say?).

This will be interesting throughout the year.  Stone was known as the king of analysis on WGN, pairing up with Harry Carey.  (It should be stated he was a pretty good pitcher, winning 107 games and a Cy Young Award in 1980, before coming down with arm issues.)  He spent 15 years working with Carey, then three more years with the Cubs before taking a few years off due to health issues.  He came back after two years (Dave Otto and Joe Carter were his replacements -- Otto's still involved with Cubs broadcasts, and Joe Carter... well, great guy, awesome ballplayer, not a great broadcaster), but then left again after 2004 when several Cubs (okay, Moises Alou and Kent Mercker) whined and complained about Stone.  He's spent the last couple of years with 670 WSCR here in Chicago doing guests spots and such, but this is the first time he'll be back on full time baseball.

It would be interesting to see if Singleton left or was pushed.  After replacing John Rooney two years ago (the White Sox wouldn't meet his salary demands, so he left for the Cardinals), Singleton's had a rough go.  He's been picked apart for his broadcast style (and, frankly, Ed Farmer's been pretty icy towards him as well -- to the point where it's noticeable on the air).  He might be a better fit for ESPN at that.  Meanwhile, this should be a good pairing, *but* the important thing to know is Stone will be honest, and the White Sox seem to have preferred rah-rah guys in the booth in the past.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2008 1:01 pm

Farewell, Brett

And good time to retire -- on top.

I still have one issue -- the Falcons picked Brett with the 31st pick in the 2nd round in 1991.  Just before the Jets, who were dying to get him.  Instead, they took... Browning Nagle.  Remember him?

Posted on: March 3, 2008 3:29 pm

Hey, Cubs... Just Do This!

It's simple.  Get better at getting on base.

I was just reading an old Bill James book today, and he made that point.  The Cubs likely won't win a lot until they lead the league in runs scored, and they won't do that until they lead the league on on-base percentage.  James was making this point in the process of saying the Cubs shouldn't have signed George Bell that winter; they should have taken Tim Raines or Brett Butler.  Fair enough (although they turned Bell into Sammy Sosa, so that turned out okay).  But the truth is, the Cubs haven't led the league in runs scored -- or OBP -- since 1984.  Last year, they were 9th in the NL in OBP, and 8th in runs scored.  And ninth is actually the best the Cubs have done since 2001.

They *may* have gotten the message.  Here's the Cubs lineups the last two seasons:

C -- 2007 Barrett, 2008 Soto

1B -- 2007 Lee, 2008 Lee

2B -- 2007 DeRosa, 2008 DeRosa

3B -- 2007 Ramirez, 2008 Ramirez

SS -- 2007 Theriot, 2008 Theriot

LF -- 2007 Alfonzo, 2008 Alfonzo

CF -- 2007 Jones, 2008 Pie

RF -- 2007 Floyd, 2008 Fukadome

Soto, Fukadome, and Pie usually take a few more walks than their predecessors.  This is important for Fukadome, as a batting eye is the one thing that he can definitely bring over than Japan that should be no different.  Pie just has to stay within himself and not try to lunge at everything (see Patterson, Corey).  *If* the Cubs can get into the top 5 in the league in OBP, they should be in pretty good shape offensively.

Category: MLB
Tags: Chicago Cubs
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