By Mike Steffanos
I have a bear of a day in front of me, but I thought I'd like to take a few minutes to weigh in on yesterday's happenings. Please hang with me a little if I present my thinking in a random manner -- I have only a little time to get this written.
First of all, I'd like to give my opinion on the fact that the Mets didn't give up Lastings Milledge for a rental of San Francisco's Jason Schmidt. Schmidt has had a nice bounce-back year for the Giants after an injury-plagued, sub-par 2005. Still, you have to question his durability. His ERA for July was just under 5, and he pitched 6 innings in 4 starts and 5 in the other. Sound familiar, very much like we already have? Sure, maybe it's just a tired arm and Schmidt will bounce back, but it's a lot to risk for an older pitcher with some injury issues. Moreover, it's all but a given that Schmidt wants to finish his career on the west coast. Perhaps he wouldn't have cost Lastings Milledge, but whatever he did cost would have been for only 2 months of a physically problematic hurler.
Some pundits in the media have branded the Mets deadline losers, and many mention a failure to obtain Schmidt as a reason. Perhaps some of you are in agreement on this point, I'm very happy the Mets "missed out" on this pitcher.
Roy Oswalt would have been a somewhat different story. He's a top of the rotation pitcher still in his prime, and is not eligible for free agency until after next season. He certainly would have been worth the Mets parting with Lastings Milledge and more. When I read about the proposed 3-way between Baltimore, Houston and the Mets, they mention Milledge as the player the Mets would be giving up, but I'd have to believe it would cost much more than that for Oswalt. I'd do it though. Dontrelle Willis has had one great year. Oswalt has established himself as great year in and year out. I would have rather had Oswalt than Willis. I guess Peter Angelos threw a monkey wrench into yet another Tejada deal. All I can say is I thank God I'm not an Orioles fan. It's as bad as the Mets organization was for most of the '90s -- and Angelos is unlikely to fire himself or even take a step back from his meddling. Whenever I start to feel sorry for Jim Duquette I think back 2 years and get over it quick.
Now to the trade that did happen. I understand Roberto Hernandez has gone downhill significantly in some important pitching statistics. Count me in as one that believes that reuniting with Rick Peterson and playing for something that matters will rejuvenate Bert to a point, perhaps to a level close to last year's. Some have pointed out that Hernandez broke down significantly at the end of last year. This is true, but the Mets had to overuse him in 2005. Even without Sanchez, that won't be an issue this season.
The plus side is that he is comfortable pitching in New York, works great with Peterson, and is comfortable under pressure. The negative is that he is 41 and you don't know how much he has left in the tank. It was a reasonable gamble on Omar's part. And yes, Oliver Perez is an intriguing acquisition, although he has almost no chance of helping them this year. He could go either way -- just another kid with great stuff and huge makeup issues that had one good season, or a 24-year-old left-hander who can be fixed and provide the Mets with the top-of-the-rotation power lefty that slipped away in August 2004. We'll see, but it's a reasonable gamble.
One last thing. As much as I agree the deal had to be done, you'll pardon me if I don't sign on board with all of the Mets fans who feel Xavier Nady was no big loss. I wish I had more time to write on this, but I am almost out of time. So quickly -- defense is the one thing you can drastically improve with hard work. X was a hard worker. I have no doubt he would have become an above-average outfielder by next year. Offensively, I felt like he had 30+ homer potential and could be a decent average hitter. I know he struggled in RBI situations this year, but he was improving. Nady was a hard-working kid with both talent and some sense. Don't forget that his season was interrupted by the appendix and he was playing with a broken bone in his wrist.
Would I have made the deal if I was GM? Yes, I think he had to. But I'll miss Nady, and not just because he had a cool nickname.
I'll be out most of the afternoon. I'll respond to comments tonight.