Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 19, 2005
BASEBALL: Not Another Kaz Deal!
First, the Mets brought in Kaz Matsui. I'm pretty optimistic about Matsui this season, but he last season was a mild disappointment with the bat and a catastrophe with the glove (despite a glove-wizard reputation in Japan) before his season was cut short by injury.
Then, they dealt Scott Kazmir, still thought by many to be a potential future rotation ace, for Victor Zambrano, who promptly went down with an injury.
Now, the Mets are pursuing Kaz Ishii, apparently offering in return to deal Jason Phillips while his stock is down.
This would be a bad deal coming and going. Phillips' lousy season last year disabused anyone of the idea that he's any kind of star-caliber player, but I still think he can hit enough to provide decent insurance on the aging Mike Piazza behind the plate and, in a pinch, the injury-prone Doug Minky at first. Piazza is almost a certainty at this juncture to spend a 2- or 3-week stretch on the DL, and possibly months; if Phillips is dealt (with the team having dumped its top catching prospect in the Kris Benson deal), the Mets' only option will be lifetime .212 hitter Ramon Castro, who batted .135 last season.
Phillips is hardly untouchable, though, and dealing him for something resembling a productive rotation starter would be worthwhile. Despite the Dodgers' desperation to land a catcher, Ishii is not that guy; the huge dropoff in his strikeout rate last season (from 8.57 to 5.18 K/9) eliminated the advantage that had offset his dismal control (career rate of 5.80 BB/9). With the Mets' defense shaping up to possibly be outstanding this season, I'd rather give anothers shot to with Jae Seo, who will at least throw strikes and take his chances with the defense.
UPDATE: Rob at 6-4-2 notes that "Phillips made league minimum last year, while Ishii will make $3.23M in 2005, and is owed $5.4M overall with a 2006 buyout clause." The news just gets better and better . . .
SECOND UPDATE: Shea Hot Corner has a roundup of reactions from other Mets blogs, a disturbing number of which seem to like this train wreck of a deal. If I actually thought Ishii would be a league-average-ERA innings-eater, I'd agree; I think he's more likely to have an ERA that would make Chan Ho Park cringe. And Rob from 6-4-2 notes in the comments that the Dodgers may be eating some of Ishii's contract, although frankly I'd rather they just ate Ishii.