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Faulty Intelligence

NostraDennisThursday, December 28, 2006
By NostraDennis

I've got a friend who's a good friend of the brother of a member of the New York Yankees.

Lest you think I'm about to spin one of those urban legends, be assured: this friend has shown us videotape of him cruising along Lake Michigan's shores in a party boat with this player and a few others. He's got him on his speed dial; he hears baseball news, whispers it to us, then in the next day or two, the mainstream media reports it.

This friend said a few weeks back that this member of the Yankees had spoken to Barry Zito to sell him on the benefits of playing in New York (they'd played together earlier in both their careers), and that Zito seemed to be sold on it. Of course, this was done for the Yankees' benefit, not the Mets'. But I was certain that if he wasn't worried about the pressure of playing in the greatest city in the world, then Zito would be packing his bags soon enough and heading to Shea.

It was not to be.

Now that we've had a moment of silence to commemorate what could have been, let's move on.

I don't fault Omar or Wilpon for not winning this battle; in fact, I applaud them for not turning it into an insane auction. I'm just happy I never heard the phrase "If Gil Meche is worth that much, then..." at any point in the negotiations. I'm not angry at the Orlando Magic, my adoptive team, for letting Shaquille O'Neal go ten years ago. Orlando was not where Shaq wanted to be, just like New York turned out to be not where Zito wanted to be.

If money was the issue, then Texas would have come out on top in this bidding war. In many respects, Barry Zito is simple. Not stupid; simple I think he simply wanted to keep playing in an area in which he was comfortable living. His decision belies his recent quote, though, that he was looking to play for a team with a chance to win a World Series. The team he left has averaged 95 ½ wins in the last six seasons, with three division titles and three second-place finishes. The team he's signed with has averaged a little under 88 wins in those same six seasons, with but one division title, and they averaged ten games under .500 each of the last two seasons. Zito makes the Giants better; he doesn't make them a playoff team. I'm taking bets on whether the Giants will appear in the World Series in any of the next seven years, and laying 4-1 odds against it.

Now the Mets need to shift their focus on working a deal for a starter with some experience. My buddy Johnny Gunnz has an interesting trade idea; I don't want to steal his thunder, though, by spilling his beans. I'll let Johnny send his well-formed thoughts on to our beloved editor Mike and see if they're blog-worthy.

About Dennis McCarthy: I was born in the Bronx in 1960, but moved to Long Island four years later. I became a Mets fan in '69, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who still lived in the Bronx.   Read More -->

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Comments (3)

Hey, I likes that first sentence! It reminds me of an old Dick Cavett line, of an Ivy League classmate of his who could trace his lineage back to the first lungfish to crawl out of the pond scum.

Apologies; and sorry to reveal my own expiration date with that Cavett reference.

Anyhow, at that price I am also glad the Mets let Barry Zito get away. I know that it's clearly been a seller's market for baseball talent this winter, particularly for pitching. I simply believe that it makes no sense to follow that trend beyond the point of reasonable return to capital.

I guess we're going to see it every few years: the economy has a few years of sustained growth, baseball somehow doesn't shoot itself in the foot with a strike or a scandal, with the result of numerous teams with a lot of money to invest in their immediate future. And every time it happens, it's as if someone just gave a teenager a platinum card; the spending is wild, erratic, and mostly nonproductive. No one seems to remember that money spent today will come out of future revenues.

Why it matters is simple: spending all that money foolishly limits a team's ability to maneuver in the future. It can stick a franchise with a collection of aging nonproductive players with no recourse but to play out the string with them. There is a perfect example in Colorado, now just coming out of the self-inflicted dive created by the contracts handed out to Denny Neagle, Mike Hampton, Larry Walker and Todd Helton. Good players, all; only the two pitchers went south almost at once, Larry Walker averaged 462 at bats over the course of his five year, $50+ million deal (Cliff Floyd averaged 471 PA's in his Mets years), and even Helton's talents showed serious decline as he passed the 30 year mark. Now, finally, the Rockies are showing signs of life; but it's the kids who are leading the way, not any of those guys.

Not for my Mets. When the market goes crazy, sane people stay away. My respect for Omar grows daily.

What I will never understand is how the owners go along with the feeding frenzy. These owners didn't get into the position of being owners by being stupid; yet we see evidence of stupidity nearly everywhere we look this winter. I am happy that the Mets are an exception.

Hey Dennis.
I was born in Brooklyn,moved to Long Island, and currrently reside in Orlando. Weird?
I was on my way to Nashville yesterday so imagine my suprise when I checked my favorite blog and I read about this "done" deal. I have to admit I was stunned and disappointed. I can definitely see the Mets's side on this, 126 for 7 that's nuckn futz. I am also saddened because I believe Zito would have fit in here in that chemistry way.
Where do we go from here? The thought of giving up one of our young guns scares me but not as much as putting too much pressure on them.What are our options?? Is it VZ time?? It is worth a shot. I like the thought of him coming to our rescue and maybe that bad karma Kasmir trade wil be put to rest.The only guy that really excites me is Dontrelle and I fear he would cost too much.One would think that Omar had the oppotunity to match but he didn't so once again we must trust in Omar. He's been great so far so let's hope his roll continues.

dd - You're not getting older. You're aging, like fine wine or a nice hearty cheese.

I agree; crazy money now becomes stupid money in years 6 and 7, and the best deals are sometimes the ones you don't make. Get back to me in 2012 and let's see whether Pelfrey, or Humber, or Vargas, or even Soler, would have made the progress they'd have made by then with another pitcher in front of them in the rotation.
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Jim - Lots of us Noo Yawkas down here in O-Town, aren't there? Unfortunately, when most locals find out I'm a New York sports fan, they think of the Shot Doctor (sorry, all - local Orlando humor here). And that's buffoonery.

If VZ gets back onto the Mets' roster, I suspect it'll be in a long relief/cleanup role, or what I like to call "the human surrender flag". The name Jeff Musselman comes to mind with this role.

I'm on the fence about Dontrelle fitting with the Mets. We've already got one Mets pitcher recovering from an unfortunate auto mishap suffered in Florida. I know this is silly, but I'd sure love to see another Mets pitcher who can hit well with power as a bonus.

The Kazmir karma can be undone; as I've teased recently, look for an exit strategy from that cosmic quagmire from Johnny Gunnz soon. With Mike's approval, of course.

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