Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 18, 2002
BASEBALL: The Hampton Test, Neagle and Lidle
How smart is Leo Mazzone? We're going to put it to the test. Mike Hampton's problems the past two years were partly the direct result of moving to Coors, but he pitched badly even when you adjust for the Coors factor. Yet, there seemed to be nothing physically wrong with him. Hampton's real problem seemed to be that he let Coors psych him out, rather than just sticking to his usual game plan and letting the park take its lumps. (Dan O'Dowd will presumably be looking for new theories of what type of pitcher succeeds at Coors after the Hampton and Neagle fiascos. The answer should probably be, "inexpensive ones," unless there's a Pedro or Randy Johnson level superstar available.).
Incidentally, I'm intrigued by one swap I saw rumored this weekend, of Jeromy Burnitz and Rey Ordonez for Neagle. Neagle over the last 2 seasons has struck out 250 batters while walking 126 in 335 innings - not great numbers, but an indication that he, unlike Hampton, has stuck to his own game in Colorado and still has some stuff left. Of course, he's also been tagged for 54 home runs, and his road ERA has been over 5.00 both seasons with the Rockies, but at least Neagle has a chance of contributing, while Ordonez is just killing the team (Burnitz should bounce back next year as well, but how far?). The downside is, Ordonez and Burnitz are both gone - their contracts are up - after 2003, so the long-range plan (if the Mets had one) should be to get to 2004 with as few commitments as possible. Neagle's deal runs an extra year, if I remember right.
Buy low, sell high. Not sure if the A's got good value for Corey Lidle, but they weren't going to pay him good money. What's interesting is that they made the deal with Billy Beane disciple J.P. Ricciardi, who probably has a similar view of Lidle but more money to spend. Long term, that bodes well for the Jays.