Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Johan Santana is going to be a New York Met

This hasn't been an easy offseason to be a New York Mets fan. For months it seemed the Mets would either do nothing significant to improve the 2008 squad or they'd sacrifice the farm system for the sake of a short-term splash. The Milledge trade made it appear that they'd much prefer the latter approach. I never would have figured they'd pull off what they did today. The Mets have acquired Johan Santana in exchange for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. Wow.

If the Mets are going to trade prospects for veterans, this is the kind of deal to make. None of the four players given up was likely to make a significant contribution in 2008. None of them is an elite prospect. And the player the Mets got back will make a serious difference for years to come.

Gomez is the closest to a sure thing among the players the Mets gave up and even he is not that close. His offensive potential is still mostly wrapped up in his tools and his youth rather than his actual performance. He already appears to be quite a defensive player and he may hit enough to be a very valuable player in center field someday. But given that the Mets don't have much need for a center fielder in the next few years, Gomez is more valuable to the Twins.

The three pitchers don't seem likely to make the Mets regret this deal in the coming years. Only Humber has thrown more than six innings above AA and none of them have put up the sort of numbers that portend future dominance. Guerra is only eighteen and he's pitched well in A-ball, so there's a lot of room to dream. But realistically, if two of these guys turn into solid middle of the rotation starters, things will have gone well for the Twins.

This trade does empty out the Mets' cupboard a bit. After 2008, they will have some holes to fill and it would be nice to have some cheap, talented youngsters to plug in or use in trades. This trade leaves them more dependent than ever on the free agent market. But at least they did hold onto top prospect Fernando Martinez. I'm sure we'll still be hearing his name in trade rumors for a couple of years, but I am very glad he'll still be in the organization at the end of this offseason.

Of course, none of this addresses the fact that Johan Santana is about to join the New York Mets rotation. You can pretty much close your eyes and point to a spot on Santana's career stat sheet and expect to land on something that will amaze you. His career strikeout ratio of 9.497 per nine innings is fifth best all time, right between Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. He's pitched at least 219 innings each of the last four seasons. He's never allowed more than 54 walks in a season. He's only twenty-eight!

The idea of Johan Santana pitching to National League lineups in Shea Stadium the day before (or after) Pedro Martinez is enough to make one weak in the knees. The Mets' bullpen could still use some tweaking. Carlos Delgado might not bounce back. They don't have a great backup plan for the weeks Moises Alou will spend on the disabled list. But with a rotation featuring Santana, Martinez, John Maine and Oliver Perez, the Mets should find their way back to the top of the NL East in 2008.

Thank You, Omar.

See the previous post.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Get it done, Omar.

Ok Omar, it’s time to get it done. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Johan Alexander Santana. (Alexander?)

This is very simple. Just shy of 29. Lefty. Two-time AL Cy Young winner. Last year, #1 in WHIP, #2 in strikeouts in a down year. (One might add that the year went downhill when they traded his best friend on the team – TO THE METS.) He’d be going from an even park to a pitchers park. Citi field should be pitcher friendly to. Let’s not forget the league switch, which is good for an ERA drop of 1 or so. Plus, he wants to come.

This team can win now. Prospects schmospects. You’re hung up on the outfield prospects? Go ahead; name me one outfielder – one – you’d rather have than Santana. It can’t be done. Say you’d take Pujols at .330 and 50 jacks over him? What if I reminded you that it wouldn’t be that hard to replace that with .300 and 30. It’s not that hard to buy an outfielder. Especially in this market for pitching. It’s way easier to get outfielders, and that’s what is seems the deal is hung up on. – Prospects. Prospects may not pan out.

*Cough* Gregg Jefferies, Alex Ochoa, Jay Payton, Bill Pulsipher *Cough*.

Or they could turn out to be Jeff Kent, except he is a second baseman. Outfielder schmoutfielders.

I’ll leave it to someone else to pull the VORP and WARP+ numbers which I’m confident will support this argument. Johan Santana to the Mets can be like Pedro to the Sawx all those years ago. Even though they gave up several future major leaguers, you think the Sox would have undone that? You think they’d even want Hanley Ramirez back? Doubtful.

Then there’s the contract. This is easy. C’mon Freddy Coupons, get it done. Here’s how you work it. Can’t insure a 7 year contract? Don’t. Insure a 5 year deal at $22MM per year. Then offer Santana 3 consecutive player options at $17MM. Gives him the security he wants to get to 140/7. Gives the Mets a little security too. See if you can tack on 3 team options at $25MM in case he’s still a stud. Everyone is happy.

Who do the Twins take? I don’t care. Give them a list of seven players, tell them to take any four they want. Gomez, Martinez, Guerra, Humber, Mulvey, Pelfrey, Heilman. If you have to, give them five.

Just get it done.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rolen along

I was going to write something about the Rolen-Glaus trade, but came across this story by David Pinto in the Sporting News. So I'm taking the easy way out.

Prospects aplenty

Lynn Henning in today's Detroit News says the Tigers farm system is in great shape despite giving up numerous players in recent trades.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good deal

The Tigers signed Nate Robertson to a three-year, $21-million extension today. Robertson went 13-13 with a 3.84 ERA in 2006, but struggled with a "dead arm" last season and was 9-13 with a 4.76 ERA.

Robertson's 2007 was in line with his 2004 and 2005 seasons, which is a concern. Maybe he'll never be as good as 2006 again. But even if Robertson is no more than a decent No. 5 starter, the Tigers did well to sign him to this deal becaue they've got Robertson at below market value should he rebound. Robertson went 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last September.

Robertson will be 30 this season and is left-handed.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Inge's future in the past?

If the Tigers are unable to trade Brandon Inge, they would love for him to consider returning to the catcher position. Jim Leyland said backup Vance Wilson still might need time to recover from last year's elbow surgery. Plus, Pudge Rodriguez's contract expires after this season.

GM Dave Dombrowski, according to the Detroit papers, recently said: "If I was Brandon Inge's best friend I'd tell him 'you should catch.' I say that not thinking he can't play third, but because to me, this guy can be an All-Star catcher. Not only is he good defensively, but his offense takes on a different meaning at that position. Last year was a down year for him, but if he puts up the same offensive numbers, but as a catcher, he might be an All-Star."

Inge primarily was a catcher from 2001 throught 2003. He never batted above .203 during that time and seemed to become a better hitter when moved to third base. He hit .287 in 2004. His batting average has slipped steadily since then, but Dombrowski is correct that Inge's .236-14-71 line would be favorable as a catcher.

The Tigers will still try to deal Inge, as he requested, so he can play every day elsewhere.

"It breaks my heart, to be honest with you, because I love Brandon Inge," Leyland told the Detroit News. "He's one of my favorite players."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Quiz results

With Goose Gossage getting into the Hall of Fame, I’ve been looking at relief pitchers of the ’70s and ’80s. Dan Quisenberry didn’t have enough peak years to reach the HOF, but he had a tremendous six-year run from 1980 through 1985.

His saves by season were 33, 18, 35, 45, 44, 37.

His innings pitched by season were 128.1, 62.1, 136.2, 139, 129.1, 129. (He never started a game, either).

His adjusted ERA+ were 131, 207, 159, 210, 153, 185.

This is what I found most interesting during that six-year span – Five times he finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award and four times in the top 10 for MVP. Twice he was runner-up for Cy Young (losing to LaMarr Hoyt in 1983 and Willie Hernandez in 1984) and twice he finished third for Cy Young.

He probably should have gotten the 1983 Cy Young; he was sixth in the voting for MVP while Hoyt was 13th. Hoyt’s ERA+ was 115, not too far above average.

Quisenberry’s career adjusted ERA+ is 146, good for 4th best in MLB history, behind Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove and Walter Johnson.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Better than the New Hampshire polls

Chris Jaffe predicted the Hall of Fame vote on Hardball Times. Here are the percentage results of the actual vote followed by his prediction (in parentheses). He did well. If you want to see the method, here is the story.

Goose Gossage 85.8 (83)
Jim Rice 72.2 (74)
Andre Dawson 65.9 (62)
Bert Blyleven 61.9 (56)
Lee Smith 43.3 (35)
Jack Morris 42.9 (42)
Tommy John 29.1 (26)
Tim Raines 24.3 (45)
Mark McGwire 23.6 (32)
Alan Trammell 18.2 (17)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Riddle me this

It took Roger Clemens under 17 minutes to pressure Brian McNamee into pleading, "What do you want me to do?"

How long did it take Senator Mitchell?