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"Do Something" Is Not a Roadmap for Organizational Success

Mike SteffanosWednesday, July 5, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

On Monday, Buster Olney opined in his ESPN Insider "blog" that the Mets needed to get a starting pitcher. (Wow, I think your Pulitzer is in the mail, buddy.) After suggesting that the Mets need to look at Mike Pelfrey before the trading deadline, Olney says if the kid doesn't work out, the Mets need to be prepared to bite the bullet:

And if [Pelfrey] doesn't work out, the Mets aggressively should pursue the best pitcher available, and be prepared to pay a steep price that might wound their future a bit. The 2006 Mets have most of the elements necessary to win a World Series, if Pedro Martinez is right.

If he's not right, they need a good solid replacement. The Mets' executives would kick themselves if they came all this way and then got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs because of a trade they didn't make.

I have to strongly disagree with him at this point. I think the Mets need to obtain a really solid starter and have a Pedro Martinez who is "right" in order to have a chance to beat whoever the AL sends to the series. If Pedro can't get it back together and be the pitcher he was early this year, the Mets have zero chance of winning a championship.

I'm not jumping on Tom Glavine just because he is enduring a personal slump right now, because no one is going to pitch as well as he was for the first couple of months for an entire season. He's been off on hitting his spots, and he's not getting away with it. I have every confidence that Glavine will figure out his mechanical glitches and pitch much better than he has over his last few starts. What I am not confident about, however, is that Tom Glavine will be able to be that truly dominant pitcher that he was early in the year.

The league has made adjustments to Glavine's new style of pitching, and batters no longer go up to the plate just sitting on the outside corner. Those inside pitches that they were swinging and missing or taking for called strikes are now being fouled off or even hit. Again, I have no doubt that Glavine will pick up his game, but I'm not sure I'd want to bet the ranch on him being an ace-type pitcher on a consistent basis again.

One of the questions the Mets must come up with the correct answer to is, can Pedro return to dominant form, and sustain that throughout the playoffs? If they do not believe the answer is yes, they should absolutely not consider a move that forces them to "pay a steep price that might wound their future a bit". What for? Only with a dominant Martinez, a solid Glavine, and another solid starter do the Mets have any chance of winning against any of the pitching-rich AL contenders. Only a championship is worth mortgaging the future for -- to make it into the World Series and get your ass kicked after giving up your future is a hollow "victory" indeed.

The Mets have some tough decisions to make, because the days of a lot of big players being moved at the deadline are long over. Jason Schmidt? The Giants are 2 games over .500, but only 1/2 game out of first. Barry Zito? The A's are in first place. If you panic, and feel that you have to make a move, you might wind up trading your future away for a pitcher that's not even good enough to make a difference. As much as I'd like to see the Mets go as far as they could this year, I wouldn't be willing to mortgage the future to make it a round or two deeper into the playoffs.

But wait, you say, the Mets are a "win now" team. Omar has to honor that and do whatever it takes to improve the club. I ask only one thing, why is this team considered to be "win now"? Especially if Martinez is unable to be an ace, I don't believe this stands up. The core of this team is mostly young, and some careful work this off-season could easily put them into a better position next year. Give Steve Trachsel a gold watch, a sincere handshake, and a polite boot out the door. Same (with sincere regrets) for Cliff Floyd, whose money could be better spent. Sign a Zito or a Schmidt. If you don't believe Milledge is the future for the Mets, nothing wrong with moving him, but take your time and make the best deal you can for him. At the trade deadline, with so many buyers and so few sellers, you're not going to get top dollar.

Two years ago we saw what happens when a team misjudges where they really are and pulls the trigger on deals that they regret. Zambrano and Benson didn't keep the Mets from falling out of the race then. While this Mets team will almost undoubtedly make the playoffs, I don't want to see them make another mistake for a deal that doesn't stand a really good chance of pushing them over the top. There would be no shame to take one more year to build the team that has a realistic chance of going all the way, especially if it also borrowed less from the team's future.

This posting is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

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Comments (8)

Hi Mike,

What a week. If you caught Cold Pizza and Mike&Mike there is plenty of blog out there.

1. The failures of the last TWO spots in the rotation is GLARING! I was suprised to see Maine but then again Omar has rotated Soler/Bannister/Maine and each has had a chance. Obviously he is trying to catch lightning. I dont disagree with what he has done but it is patchwork at best. At this point one option could still be to let Soler/Maine relive and Aaron start.

2. On cold Pizza (again) it was the Tigers need a lefty bat.
I have been vocal that FA to be Cliffy is expendable and if he fetches Humberto Sanchez or Joel Zumaya that deal should take place. Ditto if you role in Woodward to spice the deal, and promote Kepp (who is officially hot..) who has played 3rd/2nd and OF. This also creates flexible in the roster and allows Milledge to play RF. That deal needs to be done now!!!;
a. While floyd is healthy
b. There is still a race in that division
c. While competitors can drive up the price.(note every other division HAS a race).

3. Dont promote Pelfrey.
a. We know nothing of the durability in his arm
b. Dont rush him.

4. Then again is he worst than Lima?

5. No Schmidt The Giants will stay in the race. Ditto all of the NL West. BUT one name who could be traded is MIGEL BATISTA.

Jayson Stark was on the radio today saying that the Mets covet Livan Hernandez despite his stats because they think he can "turn it on and turn it off" and that he'd be motivated by being with his brother and headed to October.

Forget about Joel Zumaya. He's become really popular out here is a short time and the Tigers won't take the PR hit to deal him for a rental of a broken down player.

I don't think it hurts to promote Pelfrey for one game, Ed. I'll defer to Dave who lives in Tiger country on Zumaya, and I don't know anything about Sanchez. I just looked him up and he looks good this year, but has had control problems in the past. Is he the guy that will put them over the top this year? Why would the D-backs trade Miguel Batista when they are only 3-1/2 out? If they could get a strong prospect for Floyd I'd be happier than a so-so starter, that's for sure.
Dave, I know Livan is an uintriguing guy, but I don't think he has it anymore, and he still has a high salary coming next year. If they got him, I wouldn't give up anything of value. You're doing the Nats a huge favor just taking his salary.

I'm not against picking someone up, but it has to make sense. Who knows? I want to see if Pedro is able to get it back after the break.

July 5
Los Angeles Times (scroll down) (registration required): "Before the Angels designated Weaver for assignment last week, Stoneman asked the Mets for prized outfield prospect Lastings Milledge, baseball sources said. The Mets would consider trading Milledge for a top starter but not an innings-eater like Weaver, sources said."

I'd take a flyer on Weaver with a more realistic asking price, as he is an innings eater.

At this point, I wouldn't mind seeing Pelfrey come up for a start. Anything but Lima time. Please!

Ed, everyone perceives the Mets as desperate. The Nats asked for Milledge in a Livan deal. Hopefully someone will ger real before too long.
Gary, when I saw Lima warming up in the bullpen I actually started to cry a little...

Why are the Mets a "win now" team? I think that they are more of a win now team than a futures team, although there are elements of both present on the roster.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that the Mets can be viewed that way is the large money they have invested in certain players who, by the end of their contracts be older and less productive. That includes Pedro (2 yrs to go), Delgado and Wagner. And by the time their big salaries burn off, the Mets, given the unstated salary cap imposed by ownership, will be in spot because we'll have to be paying Wright and Reyes huge money. Last year, they added Delgado and Wright by recycling burned off money from Piazza and payroll cuts (Cammy, Benson, etc.).

The team still needs a corner outfielder after this year (heck we need one now). Floyd will burn off and depart and even if he doesn't he'll be pushing 35 next year. That will cost money too. Lo Duca will be 35 around Opening Day 2007.

Glavine has one year to go and will be 41. Trax is shot as a middle of the rotation guy on a true contender. Other than Pelfrey, the Mets have very slim starting pitching prospects who are healthy, reliable and on track.

We gave up on Mike Jacobs and Petit to get a guy who will be effective for maybe three years. They would have been good futures, for a team that wasn't in a win now (or very soon) mode.

So what do we have to keep us "young"?

Wright, Reyes, Beltran. Not a single other position player or pitcher.

Heilman? You can't count on him because the Mets refuse to count on him.
Milledge - good prospects, although most would be hard pressed to say that he wasn't just a tad bit disappointing during his short stay at the show.
Bannister? - At best a middle to the back of rotation guy.

So I think that's where people come off thinking the Mets are a win now or win soon team.

You're not a "win now" team if you're not good enough to win now. My point is that they could be better suited to win a world series next year.

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