Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 31, 2006
BASEBALL: Quick Mets Thoughts

I'm really not in a position to judge Brian Bannister as a prospect, but he seems like a potentially credible Major League starter, and I have no gripe with giving him a spot in the rotation. But I have a very big problem with taking Aaron Heilman, who I regarded entering the spring as the third starter, and shunting him into an overcrowded bullpen that was supposed to have been adequately stocked by the stupid Jae Seo trade. I'd rather see the Mets use Duaner Sanchez and the underappreciated Heath Bell as the setup guys and Victor Zambrano in long relief, at least until we see if Zambrano needs to be pressed into service in case Pedro or Tracshel breaks down or Bannister proves un-ready.

I will say this for Zambrano: his one great skill is keeping the ball in the park. In fact, his ERAs do show him as a league-average pitcher, a perfectly adequate fifth starter. What's problematic is the strain his short outings puts on the bullpen.

As for the 2B mess, I still don't think Anderson Hernandez is quite major-league ready, but I'd rather see the team let a good prospect play. Still, it's appalling that it has come to this - the number of adequate major league second basemen who were available cheaply in the offseasoon was extensive (even aside from more expensive options like Soriano and Hudson, there were Loretta, Castillo, Bellhorn, Jimenez, Grudzielanek, Graffanino) . . . not all these guys were great options, but they were better than being stuck playing Hernandez without a net. I would have focused on Bellhorn and Jimenez, both guys who are not old (Bellhorn's 31, Jimenez is 28), had been quality regulars as recently as 2004, and could be had basically for nothing.

I'm also not thrilled with Nady playing ahead of Diaz, but that will work itself out.

I'm still convinced that Matsui could be a good hitter for a middle infielder if healthy, and I still think he will be if he leaves the Mets. But that's beside the point; at this stage he's a weak glove with a questionable bat who can't stay healthy. It's time to eat his contract and be done with it.

On an ex-Mets note, as Bill Simmons would say, I wish I could buy stock in things like "Kris Benson's marriage to his nutty wife won't last."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:01 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

gonna be another expensive 2nd (or third) place for the Mets.

Pedro will break down. Glavine is still decent and durable, but no longer dominating. Wagner and Delgado durability a question mark.

TOO MANY question marks for all the $$ they spent.

2006 prediction
Phillies 1GB
Mets 5GB

Those top two could go either way, but I'm sticking with the champs.

Posted by: JB at March 31, 2006 1:52 PM

Pedro will be fine and probably win the Cy Young. But Glavine and the rest of the rotation concerns me. Heilman in the pen makes the game a 7-inning affair like in the days of Rivera-Wetteland, but he'll be back in the rotation once Bannister flops.

They'll win the division, but I'd feel more confident about it if they had done things - or not done things - like trading Seo.

Posted by: paul zummo at March 31, 2006 4:50 PM

Jeez, if a bland, mediocre pitcher and a borderline insane stripper can't make it, what hope is there for the rest of us? Apparently Kris cheated on her and you know what that means. Who on the Mets gets first crack? Or did that right get transferred to Baltimore? I put the over/under on a Playboy spread at 6 months.

Posted by: Ted at March 31, 2006 7:03 PM

Willie seems strangely committed to batting Lo Duca second, ensuring more ABs for him, and less for the four guys who are substantially better hitters. I'm not too enthusiastic about that. I don't see the value of a traditional 'bat control guy' in the two hole when the leadoff hitter can steal at will, and in the 65-70% of the time that Reyes makes an out, I don't see too many people who are worse choices to bat with one out and no one on than a slow, singles-hitting catcher with a so-so OBP. I realize lineup choices are not hugely important, but this still feels like a bad one.

Posted by: Jerry at April 1, 2006 10:04 PM

I hate to sound cynical with Opening Day tomorrow and all, but the Mets aren't nearly as good as ESPN-types have predicted. They're also fragile and they don't have many options at Norfolk right now.

Shoot me down, but I'll put it here to come back to later. I was in favor of a platoon partner for Jacobs, keeping Seo, Ryan over Wagner (although I really didn't want either), solidifying 2B, trading Floyd at his zenith, and using Cameron to get somebody good from the Padres. That $ and the prospects given up for LoDuca, Delgado, and Wagner could have been used elsewhere.

But, as it stands now, I'd be okay with seeing Heilman and Bell and Sanchez pitch a lot earlier in games and for longer. I think that Bell--look at his BABIP last year--is really pretty good and Heilman's versatile to move all over the place. Then again, we have a manager batting LoDuca what do I know.

I'm a bad person, I know.

Posted by: Kent at April 2, 2006 3:05 PM

Remember when they played baseball for the pure fun rather then big saleries?

Posted by: spurwing plover at April 2, 2006 3:27 PM

They never played baseball for fun. They've always played it for the best salaries they could get - those just weren't as big then as they are now. What is different today is the salaries often get more media coverage than the games.

Posted by: Jerry at April 2, 2006 9:14 PM

It's almost not worth commenting about when they "played the game for fun. ; But for those, like S. Plover, I suggest you read some of the early histories, look up Monte Ward, the revolt of the Player's League, The Federal League, all the events leading to the Black Sox Scandal.

Many played the game, not out of love, but to make some m oney the best way they knew how. The last itme anyone these days plays sports for fun is middle school, and sadly, not always then.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 3, 2006 1:13 PM
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