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Oh Buster, You So Crazy

Mike SteffanosSunday, November 12, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Buster Olney clarifies his silly Mets rumor in his blog today. Basically yesterday Olney cited the private speculation of unnamed baseball executives that proposed a scenario where, if the Red Sox failed to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Mets would send most of the Sox' posting fee and prospects to the Sox in return for the Japanese pitcher. In effect, the Red Sox would be keeping Matsuzaka away from the Yankees and buying some talent from the Mets for whatever millions they were not reimbursed in the deal.

Today Olney clarifies this proposal to note that the Red Sox would actually have to sign Matsuzaka to a contract before they could trade him:

Assuming that the Red Sox win the bidding on Daisuke Matsuzaka, they have the option of trading him -- but procedurally, it would have to be a sign-and-trade, with a contract being set before Boston shipped him to, say, the Mets. They cannot merely swap the rights to negotiate with him, according to the U.S.-Japanese player contract agreement: "If the highest bid is acceptable to the Japanese club, the US Commissioner shall award the sole, exclusive, and non-assignable right to negotiate with and sign the posted Japanese player to the US ML club that submitted the bid." This can be circumvented the way it is in the NBA, where the teams negotiate the trade and terms of the contract with the player involved.

It still would be a crackpot move on the part of the Mets, who would be giving up both more money than they have originally bid and young talent in return to the Red Sox. Even in that scenario, I can't see the Red Sox taking much less money in return than their bid that is reported to be in excess of $40 million. The whole thing just doesn't make any sense, and to me is just another example of the garbage speculating that fuels the winter hot stove season. You can conjure up some unnamed baseball insider as a source for any spurious deal you want to put forward.

I guess what annoys me the most here is that the Mets are often portrayed as the team that is so desperate to make a move that they will throw caution and good baseball sense to the wind in order to facilitate this deal. How many times last year did we read of "imminent" Manny Ramirez deals where the Mets were going to ship out all of their prospects and take on most of Ramirez' salary? Yet, you notice this deal never actually happened.

Two years ago when Minaya took over the Mets undoubtedly overpaid for both Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. In Martinez' case, it was almost a given that he was unlikely to hold up physically for the entire 4 years of the contract. But there was a purpose to these two signings -- Pedro's in particular -- in that they quickly brought credibility to a franchise that effectively lacked any real standing going into that winter. Two years ago the Mets were a joke, but when Pedro and then Beltran signed here the laughing stopped rather quickly. There was certainly a method to the madness.

Nevertheless, Minaya was branded as an impatient and impulsive GM who depended on Fred Wilpon's checkbook rather than any real baseball smarts, and that impression seems to have stuck despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary. Sure, the checkbook played a big part in signing Billy Wagner last winter, but there were also the smarter deals. We killed Omar for trading for Lo Duca instead of signing the big free agent, but who had the last laugh there? He was also accused of giving up too much for Carlos Delgado, but although Jacobs is a nice player he'll never be a superstar, and Petit may be a decent major leaguer but he's experienced some troubles at the higher levels. Meanwhile, Delgado's leadership was huge to this team. And how do we all feel about Seo for Sanchez now?

Last winter it seemed that one crackpot deal after another was rumored to be imminent for the Mets. I spent most of the winter convinced that Minaya was a lunatic and a bad deal was only a matter of time from coming to fruition. Gradually, however, it hit me that Omar wasn't quite the impulsive wide-eyed lunatic that he was often portrayed as. His deals -- even if there were some I liked more than others -- always made baseball sense. He resisted the urge to mortgage the future to rent Barry Zito for a few months. He refused to take Manny off the Red Sox' hands in a one-sided deal that only made sense for Boston, despite the fact that many in the media and possibly even the Sox themselves were convinced he would.

The Mets are a large-market club, and they spend some money. They are, however, about much more than just wild spending. While sporting the highest payroll in the NL last season, they were fifth in the majors and not a significant amount above the other larger market teams in the league. They operate under a budget that requires an approach that is more subtle than just trying to spend their way to a title. This may frustrate some of the fans occasionally, but I like it. As I've said many times, I have no desire to see the Mets become the Yankees.

Despite this, some media guys like Olney never tire of creating wild scenarios to attribute to the Mets. The source is always some anonymous official or scout or maybe the guy who cleans the restrooms. These rumored deals always seem to make much more sense for the other team involved. I've come to the grateful realization that the Mets are smarter than this, and that Omar has a plan that involves more than impulsive shopping sprees. Perhaps Olney has Minaya confused with his ESPN colleague Steve Phillips.

Don't get me wrong. I believe Omar will upgrade the Mets starting pitching. It sounds like the Mets were aggressive in their pursuit of Matsuzaka, and came up just short. I'm sure Omar will aggressively pursue other options and pull the trigger on any that make sense from the Mets point of view. I really, really doubt that the Mets will do anything crazy to get a starting pitcher, however. They didn't last offseason, that didn't do it during the year, and I don't believe they will do this now.

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Comments (7)

Mike, I don't think anyone's making a fool of the Mets; The only fool here is Olney making one of himself. This is the case of a national media baseball guy being ridiculously irresponsible in not even bothering to research the rules before clicking the "send" button.

I don't think anyone disrespects the Mets; in fact, quite the opposite since Omar took over. Respect comes from within and is earned by how the person or entity conducts himself/herself/itself in the face of challenge and ordinary day to day existence. I don't equate trade rumors and speculation about what the Mets may or may not do, or have in the past few years - as having anything to do with lack respect from the inevitable conjecture that is the Hot Stove. Baseball's a business, Mike. Are you perhaps taking it too personally?


And if his middle initial were actually an M, that would be even cooler.

You know that saying that if you get an infinite number of monkeys typing a infinite number of years, they'll come up with the works of Shakespeare?

Buster Olney is one of those monkeys.

And not one of the smarter ones, either.

Olney is no more or less credible than many other media 'experts'. mike& mike for one continue to pound the mets at every oppurtunity. Indeed even when such as Lupica are praising them, I view it as a set up, waiting for the death toll.

I am suprise more are not laughing now that Pedro has had the long foretold Labrum surgery. That reservation is a testament to Omar and Co. who have not only rebounded from the trough that was kazmir-gate, but scooped a former cy young competitor who just turned 25 from Pitt, drafted two phenoms in humber and pelfrey, have two/three 5-tool prospects coming in F-mart, Milledge and Gomez. and with approx $25million in tow are set to build on an already WS contender.

olney like so many E-TV media 'entertainers' are just stirring the pot, and actually I think it helps not hurts.

E.L. - you misinterpret what I'm saying. I don't believe that Olney makes a fool of the Mets here. I'm not worried about whether they respect the Mets or Omar Minaya, that's their problem. I'm just tired of the way that so many guys like him work the Mets into all of their crazy rumors. Olney seems to do this a lot. He seems to have the view that the Mets exist to make bad trades with the Red Sox and play second fiddle to the Yankees. I'm annoyed with him, I don't hate his guts or anything, and I'm not taking it personally. I think his scenario was bizarre and really kind of silly and I'm calling him on it. It's part of what we do here.
NostraDennis - The world will someday come to appreciate your genius.
RealityChuck - Not a big Olney fan? I know a lot of Mets fans don't like him because they feel he is Bronx-biased. I certainly see an AL bias for sure in some of what he writes, but I don't even mind him that much. Some of his stuff is interesting. When he writes something that I think is stupid, though, I'll say it.
Ed - See all of the above. This post isn't anti-Olney, just anti stupid Mets rumors, which seem to have become somewhat of a cottage industry in the sports media. I'm sure Olney's career will survive my displeasure.

Hi Mike:

1. Mike & Mike with SP absolutely trashed Duquette for 3 days over the Kaz AND the Wiggy/Peterson 4 Benson trades during black friday...a barrage that probably cost Duq his job. I say this to point to the fact the media has power and the fact SP was trashing both trades while they were still rumors points to the relationship the media can have with teams.

While many rumors are utter fabrication...where there's smoke there is usually at least a spark. In the recent case of Sheff...he did not go to the cubs...but he did go and quickly. Mosst likely the Cubs were outbid or Sheff nixed the trade.

On Mats-2: I dont really care. Yes he might be the best FA pitcher. But ala Jojima who Omar went after...personal stats may come but the team as a whole may not gel as the 2006 Mets did. Remember Hideki Irabu? I think thats the back drop for Olney's thory...but I cant see Omar throwing 90M at a FA not from the ML..(see Alay Soler..'world beater'). My personal FA preference is Scmidt to a 3yr/27M deal, or Zito at 4yrs/44M.

I agree with you the media has power. I thought this rumor was completely assinine. As far as there being smoke, you could tell from the wording (which I made fun of) there was no smoke or fire here.

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