January 26, 2005
BASEBALL: Think Mink, Thinkity Minkity
So the Mets missed out on Carlos Delgado. I'm disappointed, but after the Pedro and Beltran signings, you can't win 'em all. The bad news is that he's signed with the Marlins. Frankly, I didn't like the idea of the Mets offering Delgado a fourth year, and I gather they only did so because he was talking to a team in their own division.
Instead, in a deal that will give fits to transaction-column proofreaders everywhere, the Mets traded A-ball first base prospect Ian Bladergroen for Doug Mientkiewicz. (Hint to beat writers: Alt-M. Trust me on this one). Minky was, in my view, the best of the available first base alternatives: younger and healthier than John Olerud (who's coming off surgery and even before that couldn't beat erosion in a foot race), and without Travis Lee's long record of being an awful player. It's possible that Minky could bounce back with a big year: recall that Olerud was coming off three straight disappointing seasons when he came to the Mets, and Sean Casey, another similar player, was stuck in reverse for two years before last season. Then again, Olerud was 28, Casey 29; Minky is 31.
Minky's Established Performance Levels entering 2005:
Not encouraging numbers, but if Minky can bounce back by about 3% and get to a .400 slugging and .370 OBP, he'll be useful. Yes, you'd like a first baseman who can bop, but at least he gets on base, which is a skill the Mets are in much greater need of, and unlike Olerud he's not a complete clog of the basepaths. And I like the idea of adding yet another top-shelf defensive player; except for Floyd's range and Piazza's throwing arm, this should be an exceptional defensive team.
Of course, I don't know much about the about-to-turn-22 Bladergroen, who's coming off an injury and who will ultimately be the guy who determines whether this is too expensive a deal for a stopgap first baseman. Baseball America is high on him:
Don't forget about Bladergroen just because a wrist injury (ligament damage) ended his season in July. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound slugger was doing it all in a .342-13-74 season for low Class A Capital City. "He was aggressive and would chase a bit like a young slugger," said Charleston (W.Va.) manager Ken Joyce, "but he had a real nice swing and legitimate big-time power. His swing path put the bat in the (strike) zone for a long time."
His full stats are here, adding up to .313/.505/.376 in a full season's worth of professional at bats, all in A ball. Which looks like a guy who's not a star-caliber player at the moment, but definitely has that potential in a few years if he doesn't develop a Nick Johnson-like penchant for wrist and hand injuries.
"and without Travis Lee's long record of being an awful player."
LMAO - great line!
Bladergroen has one decent year, at low-A ball, and is coming off a wrist injury. He has potential, but then again so does my 11 year old nephew. I won't weep for his loss.
Minky is over-rated defensively, he posted a sub-zero VORP for 2004. On the other hand, the Mets now have the funds to build middle relief.
And that's really how this team has won their championships. Not from big sluggers, but from stellar defense and deep pitching. Get a couple of real pitchers (heredia?! C'mon!) to bridge the gap from a great rotation to Yates & Looper in the back of the 'pen, and you've got something with a lot of potential.
Would have preferred to see the Sox keep Doug M and move Millar. While Millar proved to be a better fielding first baseman than most people thought he was still just adequate most of the time. Thought Minky would hit far above career norm at Fenway as well. Epstein never plays the chemistry card so I don't think he is keeping Millar around because of his role in the lockerroom. One of the two had to move though. I don't think Minky will do much for the Mets in that ballpark and I don't think much of 22 year old first baseman in single A ball. This does mean the Sox need to get a utility infielder to play some first as I assume they are not going with the Millar/Ortiz/McCarty (don't even know if he is still with the team) line-up. Prediction: Sox will miss Doug M. next year.
Will he get promoted out of Cap. City, with only a half year & injury? The Capital City Bombers just switched their affiliation from the Mets to the Red Sox, it'd be awful if he had to spend another year at that ballpark, it is truly atrocious.
Don't forget that Minky has a wrist tendon about the width of a human hair. He's been hurt quite a bit over the last several years and he had the tendon shaved about a year ago.
Take it from a Twins fan. He's no prize. He catches the ball, but he's not that big. When he left, we missed him for about 10 seconds.
By not that big, I mean he's not that tall -- he isn't a big target at first.
McCarty was signed to a minor league deal - so he should be back (unless he makes another run as a pitcher...). Looks like Youkilis will see some time at 1B during spring training. Overall this seems like a smart move for both teams. The Sox won't miss Minky and he can keep the damn ball...
As a sox fan, I am delighted to see him go. Like Theo, I am not a big believer in chemistry, but I saw Minky looking an awful lot like a clubhouse cancer in Fenway (complaining about Francona not playing him) after creating major problems in Minneapolis. If his skills have in fact dimished below starter caliber, which I believe, he will not go quietly. If I were a GM, one of the few behaviors I would not tolerate is badmouthing teammates in an attempt to justify more playing time. Minky apparently did that in Minn and was very close in Boston. All for someone in the decline from a .767 career OPS. I would have been happy with the deal if Boston had to give the mets the minor leaguer...
I had the priveledge to playwith Ian Bladergroen in Lamar Colorado. I have never met a guy that deserves this oppurtunity more than Blade, he is a stand up guy and is a good addition to any organization. If he is moving in that organization, I might start watching the DED Sox. Noboby has any clue how quickly we could see Blade on T.V. and his jersey on kids at the park.