Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 1, 2008
BASEBALL: The Ones You Don't Make
Cerrone summarizes Omar Minaya's press conference on why the Mets made no deals at the deadline. Realistically, having dealt Milledge and stripped much of the farm system's tradeable chips in the offseason to get Santana, the Mets could not compete for the likes of Manny or Jason Bay. Bay brought home 4 prospects - the Mets only really have two prime time prospects now, outfielder Fernando Martinez and LHP Jon Niese, and with a long-term core of Wright-Reyes-Santana-Beltran-Maine (if healthy)-Pelfrey in place, they don't want to totally abandon the future to win now just because they are running near the end of the line with Delgado, Pedro, Wagner and maybe Perez (I won't mention Alou and El Duque here since they aren't contributing now anyway). It's frustrating, since this is a pretty good team now that just has some gaping holes to fill, especially with Church's status perenially uncertain, but I guess we are now wedded to Fernando Tatis as an everyday player, and hoping the 33-year-old Tatis doesn't wake up one morning and realize the 1990s are over.
Cerrone runs down the longer list of guys Minaya talked about as prospects. A quick look:
*Martinez, 19, is batting .292/.332/.420 at AA and has is ailing again, this time his hamstrings. .292 with doubles power is not bad for a teenager at AA, but with no HR power yet and a 14/56 BB/K ratio he's clearly not going to be of any use to the big club this year and probably needs a full year in the minors in 2009 before you can talk about him as a serious major league regular.
*Niese, 21, has just been bumped up to AAA. I assume we see him for a September cup of coffee, earlier only if Maine's rotator cuff is worse than the Mets are letting on. He has a 2.95 ERA and his per 9 ratios are 8.15 K, 3.15 BB and 0.41 HR in 23 starts. His ERA was 4.29, but with similar peripherals, in A ball last year. He seems to project as a third starter type, maybe a #2 at best.
*Robert Parnell, the #2 starter behind Niese at AA Binghamton, pitched really well his first season in low A ball in 2005, but has a 4.39 ERA since then, including 4.32 this season, averaging 6.56 K, 4.32 BB and 0.93 HR. I can't see what in his performance record makes him a prospect any time in the near future.
*Dan Murphy, 23, has good numbers at AA this year (.308/.374/.496 with 26 2B, 13 HR, and 14 steals). Unfortunately, Murphy's a third baseman (and an error-prone one at that, career fielding % of .920) and has little prior track record of minor league success; to be useful to the Mets he would need a new position, but breaking in a new position makes a guy hard to trade while he's learning it.
*Eddie Kunz, 22 and also at AA Binghamton, is a RH reliever who has never allowed a home run in 59 pro innings, has a 2.87 ERA and 7.85 K/9 this season, but also 4.40 BB. Like Murphy, he's only done anything to merit appearing on the prospect radar this season. I can't see the use in rushing a guy like that until his control improves.
There's also Nick Evans and Mike Carp, of course, who will presumably battle it out for the 1B job next season assuming Delgado is allowed to walk (anything else would be nuts) and the Mets finish second in the Teixeira sweepstakes.
One more note: the Mets officially do not miss Paul Lo Duca, who was cut by the Nationals along with Felipe Lopez and Johnny Estrada.