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The Trade Deadline Approaches, Rumors Fly

Mike SteffanosFriday, July 14, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


As the Mets gear up to get back into action this afternoon in Chicago, the rumor mill is firing up, also. With just over 2 weeks left to go until the trading deadline, don't expect that to cool off anytime before then. Let's take a look at some of the names that are being thrown around:

Javier Vazquez or Freddy Garcia (Source: Adam Rubin, Daily News)
This is a new one, as Rubin reports that the Sox would be willing to deal one of these pitchers for top-notch relief help, which Rubin thinks could be Duaner Sanchez or Aaron Heilman. I would hate to let Sanchez go at this point, and you would have to think it would take two good relievers for the Sox to part with one of these guys. I know Omar has liked both of these pitchers in the past, but I'm not particularly enamored with either -- especially at the expense of decimating the bullpen. I'd probably like Vazquez a little more than Garcia, although their stats are very comparable this year. This one would at least seem to bear watching.

Julio Lugo (Multiple Sources)
This also popped up in Rubin's story, among countless others. Lugo to the Mets is the rumor that won't go away, as Manny to the Mets was last year. I can understand concerns about Jose Valentin holding up for the whole season, but with the pitching concerns I would think 2B would be the least of Omar's worry. To give away Aaron Heilman or any other chip of any value for Lugo makes zero sense to me. At this point, if I'm the GM I'd roll the dice with Valentin and try to fortify elsewhere. I'd be really annoyed if anything of value went to the Devil Rays for a player who would be a luxury for this squad rather than a necessity.

Bobby Abreu (Source: Joel Sherman, New York Post)
If Lugo would be an unnecessary luxury for this club, Abreu would be an unfathomable expense. The offense is good enough, and there is already a lot of salary tied up in Delgado, Pedro, Wagner, Glavine and Beltran. Whatever Abreu would cost in prospects, and the large amount of salary Abreu would chew up to me would be unjustifiable. The thought of watching him play fly balls 20 feet from the wall into hits makes me ill. Pass on this one. Please.

Trading Milledge (Multiple Sources)
Lastings Milledge made a generally favorable impression on most fans, but it seems safe to say that is not the case with most of the writers. I'm sure the kid is cocky and has an ego, but the same could be said about many very good ballplayers, and that's the key. If Milledge becomes a very good ballplayer, people will overlook the baggage. If he doesn't, not so much. If the Mets want to trade Milledge, they have to bring something young and worthwhile back in return. Milledge for Livan Hernandez does not fill that bill. It just seems to me if the Mets feel they can spare this kid the time to trade him would be over the winter when you would have more teams involved.

Trading Mike Pelfrey (Multiple Sources)
With apologies to Joel Sherman after verifying that a team has 6 months to complete a "player to be named later" deal, that would indeed make Pelfrey tradable at the deadline. I'd still hate to see him go. Bringing back a young pitcher like Willis -- although I think Willis would command more than Pelfrey and Milledge in return -- would justify it, while bringing in a mediocre older pitcher wouldn't, at least in my eyes.

Why do I feel this is so important? The Mets are moving into a period of significant salary pressure over the next few years. They will owe a lot of money to aging (and probably declining) veterans like Pedro, Delgado and Wagner. Beltran has 5 more years on his deal after this one, and David Wright and Jose Reyes are on the verge of cashing in on their stardom. It's crucial that they have some young, cheap and good players on the roster -- the roles filled by Wright, Reyes, Nady, Duaner Sanchez, Heilman, and Brian Bannister this year. The big question is, where are these players going to come from? If you trade your prospects away, in particular if traded for older players, this type of player won't be there. The Mets will look like they did at the end of the Steve Phillips regime: some high-priced vets, many mediocre roster fillers, and a farm system as barren as Jim Duquette's scalp.

Some sportswriters like to write off the concerns of fans like me with the patronizing thought that we just get "attached" to the prospects like Pelfrey and Milledge that we hear so much about. That's unfair and untrue. We understand that the balancing act is to find a way to improve what you have now without destroying your future. The Red Sox have proved that you can win now and still have a productive farm system supplying that key young, cheap quality talent. In today's MLB, where parity and revenue sharing have dried up the trade market to a tremendous degree, having a balanced roster is going to be a key to succeeding for any team going forward. For writers, developing prospects makes for a boring story compared to the hubbub generated over a big trade. For ball clubs, it can mean the difference between mediocrity (or worse) and winning.

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Comments (7)

Mike
If the Mets can't acquire a front-line starter -- and it sure looks like a poor market right now -- a great way to improve the team is to bolster the offense. Do you not think that Julio Lugo is a marked improvement over Jose Valentin? Are you confident that the 37-year-old Valentin's resurgence is here to stay? Bobby Abreu has gotten on base nearly 45 percent of the time this year and, despite his HR woes of late, is a doubles machine....do you not think that he would improve the team dramatically over Xavier Nady?

Clearly, we don't know what it would take to obtain either player. It very well might be too much if too much young talent or money is swapped hands. But I'd much prefer the Mets obtain Bobby Abreu or Julio Lugo than, say, Livan Hernandez or Rodrigo Lopez. Pitching isn't the only way to win ballgames; there are many ways to skin a cat.

I hear you Ryan, but I don't want to see the payroll skewed too far to the Offense. I really think the Mets have to get a front line pitcher this winter. I wouldn't trade Heilman for Lugo right now, despite his troubles I think he's more valuable than Lugo would be. If you could get Lugo for a second-tier prospect, I'd have to reconsider. I just don't see Lugo as an important piece of the puzzle.

I do agree with you on Livan Hernandez and Rodrigo Lopez. And I could see the value Abreu would bring to the offense, but I don't think this team can afford another high-priced superstar position player without the payroll getting out of whack.

The Mets aren't the Yankees. I really think Abreu is a luxury this team can't afford, particularly beyond this season. Again, I think $$$ has to be spent on pitching. Teams that win championships need pitching. I think the Mets offense is already championship quality, their pitching isn't. Anyway, that's my opinion.

During the last Phillie series I was tempted to write something like: if I owned Bobby Abreu's contract, I'd try to get him to playing first base. I think a glaring weakness, exposed for the world to see, can sink a ballplayer, depriving the team of the good things he can do. And Abreu clearly is afraid to chase a flyball to the wall.

Love the outs conserved on offense, but I don't want him playing outfield for any team I care about. How about the A's, or maybe the Giants as a destination for Abreu?

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

Here's a few more. I posted somewhere about an interest in Randy Wolf. Here is some fuel. this link also has Brett Myers info on it.

I like Myers but NY is not a good place to rebuild a life. But I'd LOVE to take that chance. I also am enamored by the probability of a Contreras/Vazquez trade. I dont see Garcia beccause of Ozzies family ties to him. But a vazquez for Heilman is a no brainer to me, Heilman (from Indiana) gets a fresh start, and The Mets have jettisoned Matsui and could dump Floyd ($8M).

Your THEORY is spot on: THAT is why Lastings WILL be in RF in Sept and either Floyd or Nady stays, (plus Chavez/Abreu/Concepcion provide depth).

The rotation will lose Traxx (and his 1.84WHIP) and Bannister, Soler, Maine, Pelfrey....plus Humber or FA/trade will fight for the 4/5 slots. BUT I think Pedro, Glavine, and (Zito/Vazquez/Garcia/Meche/Pinero/....) slots in at 3 soon, and Traxx babysits at #4 thru the playoffs.

DD -- even more than the defense is the $16 million Abreu has coming next year. I just don't think they need to tie up another hug contract for a position player when their rotation is below average. I think Abreu may still wind up a Yankee, or maybe go to the Angels.
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Ed, we'll never agree on Heilman, I know. Why take on Vazquez' contract in return for Heilman without at least giving Aaron a chance to start. He'll be a lot cheaper than Vazquez, and I'm not convinced Vazquez will be much better. I don't know, I guess I can be very conservative with my thinking on deals sometimes

shouldn't the mets go after a jason schmidt? if the mets can get him (and guarantee him signing back next yr) then they will have the best starting rotation in the NL by far. and next yr, they can dump floyd and trax and have milledge play in floyd's space, and try and sign a zito. shouldn't the mets be after a mark grusalnek over a julio lugo?

mets starting 5 in 2007 should be:
pedro
zito
schmidt
glavine
bannesiter. (if not zito, move everybody up and put in maine. pelfrey isn't ready. he only has 1 big league pitch)

Dylan, I've heard Schmidt will be looking for a 3-4 year contract and will probably get it with someone. Yet he's 34 and has had arm problems. They really need to get younger.

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