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Some Thoughts on Yesterday

Mike SteffanosTuesday, August 1, 2006
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.

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Comments (5)

I agree with you on Schmidt, I wanted him no where near this team. As for the Orioles... in my opinion they are the worst run franchise in the league. I say that because they spend money, big money, and have not had any results since the early-mid 90's.
I will miss Nady, he will be a decent everyday player.

I agree w/ you as well on the Schmidt issue as it seems that he would be the definition of a rental, as all reports point to him staying on the West Coast (SF or Seattle, most likely) next year.

Also, personally, I just feel bad for Nady. Like you said, he was a guy that worked hard...and to be sent from the NL-leading Mets to the awful Pirates (who just completed a fire-sale of sorts) cannot feel good. But, w/ the terribly unfortunate accident involving Sanchez this deal had to be made. Who knows, maybe Perez can get his act together...he is only 24.

Finally, something that I've wanted to bring up...do you think that the Braves series showed that the Mets play over the past few weeks--while not as terrible as some thought, but definitely lacking some fire at times--was possibly just out of boredom and being complacent w/ a big lead?

Sure, Glavine looked pretty bad again...but our Mets said they wanted to bury the Braves, and the offense certainly did it's job in that department, putting multiple runs on the board before Andruw Jones could even muster a smirk. It reminded me of the 9-1 road trip during which it seemed like the Mets had a 3-0 lead every game before the National Anthem was even sung.

Even when the Braves fought back w/ 4 runs in the 1st on Friday, and 6 over a few innings on Sunday (rallies that probably would've signaled the end of the game for the Mets in the past) the Good Guys just put their foot to the gas a little harder and left the Braves, and the terrible memories of the Ted, in the dust.

To me, it seemed like the Mets felt they finally had something to play for and/or prove for the first time in a while...and they certainly did that with authority.

I agree with your opinion about Schmidt; another mid-30's pitcher that is a rental, is certainly not worth Milledge. Oswalt? Man, it's too bad Angelos pulled the plug on that trade, he is just what the Mets needed! A true, front of the rotation pitcher who's not a free agent; they don't come along often and that would have been too good to be true. I also agree about Nady; I think he's taken far too many hits by Met fans for his defense and clutch hitting. Yeah, he's rough around the edges defensively and has his troubles with men on base, but he's a hard worker who has had some incredibly big hits for the Mets this year; this while having appendix surgery and the broken wrist bone! Over-using Endy Chavez isn't a good idea and Milledge isn't ready for prime time yet. Nady will be missed, but the trade probably had to be made because Heilman isn't producing like last year; Omar had to cover Sanchez's loss.

George and Fans,

I think the missing point is that Omar is building a dynasty. He has used the Braves blueprint of raising bonafide kids reyes Wright Heilman) and plugging with all stars (pedro-beltran-Delgado). that keeps his cost/budget manageable. He has Ahern (SS), Gotay (2nd), bannister Pelfrey, Collazo, Pinango and Devaney (add humber Lindtrom Gomez & Owens)ready for next yr if neeeded.

That said the Mets will not mortgage the next 6 yrs for one possible title. That means no Schmidt. But note as Omar has Proven in 2 previous yrs he sheds salary but picks up blue chip FAs not the mediocre pieces of the Duquette era. By saying no Schmidt he is saying I'll keep Milledge and wait for Zito (or other FA).

On Nady yes he had 14 HR, but batting 7th??? How good does he have to be???
Nady was not coming back next yr. He is as many point out a Craig Wilson type. But I think Milledge/Chavez/Gomez represent what is really needed out of the 7-spot. STRONG defense, speed and sound technically (bunt/hit&run).

With a 14 gm cushion the Mets are no looking at match ups and tehnical flaws. As well as affording to look at pitching options. In Oct the Mets will need to have their flaws worked out.

on Heilman: he had a sub 1.00 ERA after the break. He could well do that again. also I think pelfrey should go to the Pen.

Matt -- I agree with you completely on the O's. Put the Royals right up there with them. When they decide to spend money, they spend it stupidly.
Bini -- We're in agreement that the deal had to be made, and on Perez, too. I think the Mets struggles for a while may have been partly due to boredom, but they weren't playing the solid fundamental ball that typifies this team, and you don't want to get into bad habits. It was a fun weekend, though.
George -- Like I said, I think Oswalt would have been a better pickup then Willis. He's a true #1.
Ed -- I like both Milledge and Valentin. I admit I would have mad this trade, too. I think Nady had the potential to be a middle of the order bat. He made a lot of progress this year, and would have made more if he wasn't hurt. So sorry, I'm not in agreement with those who say good riddance.

I think Pelfrey is going back down for a while. He could probably help in the 'pen, but I still think he might wind up replacing Trachsel in the rotation.

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