January 22, 2006
BASEBALL: This Week In Minaya
Well, Omar Minaya is still at it, trading Kris Benson to Baltimore for Jorge Julio and rookie pitcher John Maine. Let's summarize this deal:
1. Dumping Benson: good. I always thought the Mets paid too much for Benson when there were better pitchers on the market last offseason, and I have no faith in Benson after his late-season fade last year. And he makes three times as much money as Julio, although it's not clear to me if the Mets are eating any of the difference.
2. Getting Julio: bad. Julio's ERAs of 4.38, 4.57 and 5.90 the past three seasons adequately sum up his contributions. The Mets are now mobbed with righthanded relievers - Julio, Duaner Sanchez, Heath Bell, Juan Padilla, Chad Bradford, Steve Schmoll, and possibly Aaron Heilman. But none of these guys is bankable other than maybe Heilman, although I'm optimistic about Bell and willing to see Sanchez and Padilla get a shot and Bradford show if he's healthy.
3. Getting Maine: a crapshoot. Maine's a young pitcher who threw well in the low minors, has been so-so in AAA and horrible in brief exposure in the majors, and according to reports doesn't have an overpowering fastball. Maine will be 25 this year; he's basically just another pitching prospect who might or might not work out, so the jury's out on this one.
4. Trading Jae Seo: really, really dumb. Dealing Seo meant committing two rotation spots to Benson/Zambrano/Heilman. At least it now seems inevitable that Heilman will be in the rotation, which is a very good thing, but there's now no safety net if Zambrano pitches like Zambrano, or Trachsel or Pedro gets hurt again, or Glavine gets old.
What else is about to happen? Ken Arneson at Catfish Stew has a good roundup. While I'd love to have Barry Zito, and I'm sure Rick Peterson would too, I don't like the long-term idea of dealing Lastings Milledge for a guy with one year left on his deal, or the short-term idea of dealing both Milledge and Victor Diaz, leaving Xavier Nady as the everyday right fielder and no insurance in left in the 80-90% possibility that Cliff Floyd gets hurt. And while I like Jeff Weaver as a pitcher, I think his track record in New York pretty much speaks for itself. Still, the Benson deal does have "another shoe yet to drop" written all over it.
as an O's fan, I'm happy with the trade - Benson is potential that I haven't had the up-close opportunity to sour on unlike with Maine & Benitez ....and I've long described Julio as little more than Benitez-lite....oh yeah, that's right - you guys would understand that allusion...heh, heh.... and, completely off the subject, is there a bigger whiner in College Basketball than Al Skinner, the coach at Boston College? His comments following their WIN over Holy Cross earlier this week just reinforced my low opinion of him & his program....
Yes, there is another show to drop. However, I'm not sure it will drop prior to the beginning of the season. They've got 5 starters so far, plus a lot of pieces to use as trade bait. They can go into the season with these starters and then use the pieces for trades as needed during the season.
I don't see the Mets giving up Milledge for Zito. Not that I entire trust Omar, but I do think that if he were willing to trade Millidge that he would've done it already (likely for Manny). Also, with Zito's contract status, the A's are not is a position of leverage. They didn't get that kind of package for Hudson or Mulder. I could see a package along the lines of Heilman, Diaz, and Maine for Zito.
I have no idea why the Mets have repeatedly shown no faith in Seo. It's just stupid. The guy can pitch.
If the Mets were not the Mets, but the Phillies or the Giants or some other near-contender, I'd say Weaver would be a great signing. I do like him as a pitcher. But I think it is tough to come to one of the New York teams having already failed with the other. Same reason the Jets were wise not to hire Jim Fassel, even though I think he's a decent coach.
As far as this deal, I like Maine well enough, though he's no elite prospect, and I won't really miss Benson. Julio might as well have "Mel Rojas" tattooed across his forehead, though, so I won't hold my breath for him to turn it around.
I obviously agree about Weaver, but there are exceptions to that rule, like Joe Torre and Casey Stengel.
Torre is a genuine exception, since he's in the modern era of New York media. I think most people did know that he didn't have a fighting chance with the Mets, but even so, he faced an uphill battle when he got the job.
Other, more straight-up examples, like Tony Fernandez and Kenny Rogers, have generally fared as badly cross-town as at the first stop. Rickey Henderson, of course, was Rickey in both stops, for better or worse.
Rickey can only be Rickey. If he's signed to play with the Chiba Lotte Mariners when he's 64, he'll still be Rickey.
Fassell failed? He went to a Super Bowl. Sure, the end was uglier than it could/should have been, but I wouldn't call his tenure a failure.
Fassell did a pretty good job, and I'd be more than willing to hire him to coach a team other than the Jets. But all coaches have flaws, and the disadvantage of hiring a guy who has been fired already in the same city is that everyone knows going in what they are.
Sure, and in Fassel's case thats a coach who took a team to the Super Bowl. Thats not the golden ticket necessarily, nor should it be (who'd want Mike Martz coaching their team), but its a good indicator of ability. NY is a unique situation, but thats b/c of the character of the people involved (Weaver, Rogers, Whitson, Knoblauch (eventually)...head cases all). Fassell's head is on straight, knows what to excpect in NY and would do just fine as Jets' head coach. Your disadvantage can be seen as an advantage. You know what you're getting. In Fassell's case, a guy who prepares. The only advantage to hiring an unproven 35 year old is that fans can delude themselves w/ thinking that "this guy just might be the one" for a few months. No track record to go on, so why not be optimistic. Great PR, but its v/ shaky management. Unless the Jets have goals other than winning now, which is fine. But can't anyone win now in the NFL?
Fassel's offensive and defensive coordinators both have head coaching jobs and he does not. That says it all. Nice guy, decent position coach. Neither he nor the clown that defeated him in the Superbowl has shown much since. Both offensive "gurus" who were carried into the big game by defensive coordinators. Funny how they work together now. Gmen got hot at exactly the right time and played stunning weak teams in the playoffs. The Vikings quit in the first quarter of the NFC Championship Game, rarely seen. Hindsight being 20/20, the Franchise would have been better off without the season ending run that year. It would have sent Fassel on his way, put Fox on the sideline. But it was nice seeing Mr. Mara accept that trophy.
Pedro won 15 games last year and my guess is he won't this year due to injury. Glavine was 13-13 and he'll turn 40 before opening day, Bensons gone and Trachsel won 1 game last year and is 35. No 2B or RF. Another big payroll missing the playoffs.
I completely agree with #4 on your list. If he had any inkling of trading Benson, Minaya should have kept Seo. (Even if he didn't, he should have kept Seo.) Jae's presence in the rotation would have been much, much better than having Zambrano there. I like Heilman in the rotation. He and Seo had a future together. If not as starters then as long men out of the pen until they had a spot in the rotation. Now you have to hope that age doesn't cause Glavin to suddenly go really, really bad and that they others (Trachesel, Zambrano and, yeah, even Martinez) can be consistant and durable.
For all that Zambrano annoys Mets fans (which probably has more to with the Kazmir trade than with his control problems), his ERA has constantly been around the league average. His career ERA+ is 101. Depending on Zambrano to be your #4 starter is not unrealistic.
The ERA isn't the issue with Zambrano; it's the innings. A guy who often has trouble making it out of the 5th is a bullpen-killer. In 27 starts last year, Zambrano pitched fewer than 6 innings 9 times - a third of his starts - and pitched 6 innings 8 times. So, the bullpen had at least three innings of work in 62.9% of Zambrano's starts. That's too much.
Averages are nice, but consistency is important too. And Zambrano hasn't shown much.