Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 5, 2006
BASEBALL: Seo Long
The Mets' two latest moves do not look good. First, they traded Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack to the Dodgers for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. Now, I understand that Seo's strikeout rate has never been real good, although he did get it up to 5.88 per 9 innings last season. So I can't say with certainty that Seo will be reliable in the future. But as a 29-year-old starter who doesn't have a ton of mileage on his arm, has great control and seemed to figure things out last season, Seo is a valuable property and one of great usefulness to a Mets team whose rotation now includes 40-year-old Tom Glavine, Kris Benson (who missed April in 2005 and whose fastball went home to get an early start on the offseason in mid-August), 35-year-old Steve Trachsel (who pitched all of 6 games last season), and now, apparently, Victor Zambrano, who considers 5 innings a long outing. Compounding the problem, the Mets are apparently bent on using Aaron Heilman, their only remaining under-30 starting pitcher with a chance of pitching in the majors with the departure of Seo and Yusmiero Petit, out of the bullpen. Among other things, this bespeaks a dramatic misunderstanding of the relative value of starting pitchers vs. relievers. And, to top it off, the Mets pen, aside from closer Billy Wagner, will now include some mix of Heilman, Heath Bell, Sanchez, Schmoll, Chad Bradford, Juan Padilla and Royce Ring - only one of whom (Ring) is lefthanded, thus depriving the team of one of the major benefits of a deep bullpen.
On top of that, I don't know what evidence exists to suggest that Schmoll is a major league pitcher - he walked 22 batters and struck out 29 in 46.2 innings last season (compared to Seo, who struck out 59 and walked just 16). Sanchez, at least, showed signs of usefulness after bopping around multiple organizations, raising his K/9 rate from 4.95 in 2004 to 7.79 in 2005. But his 3.73 ERA (in Dodger Stadium, no less) was hardly stellar - not the kind of pitcher you surrender a good starter in exchange for. Ugh.
The second move won't cost much, except in wasted at bats, but seems like a brain-dead move: picking up Bret Boone, who is 37 and has batted .251/.423/.317 and .221/.350/.290 the past two seasons. And - there's no other way to put this - who seems a likely candidate to fall under the heading of "players who seem less likely to again hit as well as they did before steroid testing started" (Boone gained something like 20 pounds of muscle in one offseason in his 30s upon arriving in Seattle). No, I don't know a thing about what Bret Boone has put into his body, but under the circumstances I wouldn't employ him, either.
I actually thought Boone mightn't be a bad gamble in mid-season last year when the Mets were in the hunt and desperate to plug the 2B hole, but he played as badly with Minnesota as he had in Seattle, he's a year older now and there are other options out there - as the Daily News noted yesterday, second basemen who were available for a song this offseason included D'Angelo Jimenez, and Mark Bellhorn; Mark Loretta and Mark Grudzielanek were also available, and while I'm no fan of the Gruz he's not as obviously done as Boone, who's at the same stage Jay Bell was with the Mets.