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Mets Hot Stove: Dotel gets away, doing it right in Southern California

Mike SteffanosTuesday, December 20, 2005
By Mike Steffanos

In today's evening news wrap up, we miss out on Octavio Dotel, and take a look at a different way of running an organization than we're used to here in New York.

Newsday: One who got away
John Heyman is reporting that free agent reliever Octavio Dotel and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $2 million dollar contract. If the Mets hope to acquire an experienced pitcher for the bullpen, this would seem to leave them the choice of signing the volatile Julian Tavarez or making a trade.

Baltimore Sun: Orber Moreno signs with the Orioles
Roch Kubatko reports that the Orioles have signed former Mets reliever Orber Moreno. I was hoping, based on his decent performance with the Mets in 2004, that the Mets might take a flyer on Moreno again. Not that he's wonderful, but he's better than a lot of the flotsam and jetsam floating around out there.

ESPN Insider: Walking With Angels
Jerry Crasnick gives us an interesting look at the flip side of the New York attitude toward the farm system, where despite good finishes year in and year out, the Angels have managed to put together one of the best farm systems in baseball. The reason? Crasnick says to look no further than Angels' GM Bill Stoneman:

Stoneman, who spent 16 years in the Montreal front office, has an appreciation for scouting and player development bordering on reverence. He believes in giving prospects a chance rather than burying them or using them as trade bait, so he took vicarious pleasure in watching Atlanta use 18 rookies on the way to a National League East title last year. [my emphasis]

Crasnick quotes Stoneman on his philosophy:

We're very much committed to doing it right, and by that I mean making sure you're building from the ground up. Young guys need opportunities. That's not saying we'll never trade any of them. But to unload a good chunk of your system for one experienced and proven guy? That's fine for now, but where does it leave you tomorrow?

Hint: It leaves you where the Yankees are right now, struggling to gain some flexibility back -- where the Mets might be 2 or 3 years down the road if they're not careful.

Stoneman and the Angels are somewhat of an extreme example -- his unwillingness to move young players to fill some of their current needs has probably hurt the team's chances. Still, you have to admire his commitment to the system, and whatever else you can say about it, the Angels have been a much more successful team than the Mets have been over the past decade.

As Stoneman said, young guys need opportunities. It's not going to be enough for the Mets to do a better job of scouting talent. They're also going to have to do a much better job of developing that talent -- not just the "can't miss" 4 or 5 tool guys, but the other guys, too -- the ones that can give you some depth, the ones that can pitch out of your bullpen, and the ones you can call up in a pinch when someone goes down.

Finally, when you develop these guys, you have to be willing to give them a chance to succeed, the way Bobby Cox does so well in Atlanta. It's not enough just to throw them out there if you're ready to yank them after one mistake. You're going to have to change the culture and expectations of sports in New York City. It takes a little bit of guts to do it right.

Mets.com: More on Pedro's toe
Marty Noble has an article on the Mets' web site that's basically just a rehash of the AP story, but he also reports that the Mets did not tender a contract to potential relief pitcher Tyler Yates. Like Orber Moreno, I'm not trying to make this guy out to be more than he is, but as desperate as we are for bullpen help, I'm a little surprised. Of course, the Mets can still negotiate with Yates.

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