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What's a GM to Do?

Dave MillsMonday, June 18, 2007
By Dave Mills

No doubt about it--this has been a brutal two-week slump. At the one-third point of the season on June 4, the Mets were 35-19. In the intervening two weeks they have gone 2-11. And it is not a pretty sight, as just about all aspects of their game has been far less than amazin'.

Each of the starters has been roughed up at least once (Glavine on several occasions); the bullpen has been far less than stellar (Schoeneweis and Mota look just awful almost every time out); the bats of the 3rd and 4th hitters in the lineup are silent (Beltran was 0 for 6 with 9 LOB on Saturday/Delgado is just looking worn down); and even the defense is slipping slightly, although still quite good.

The biggest questions have to be...
1. Will Glavine find his rhythm?
2. Will Alou actually be back before the All-Star break?
3. What about Schoeneweis to the DL?
4. Will the Carlos' drive in the runs they are given?
5. Will Minaya deal?

My guess is Glavine and Peterson will find a way to work out of this personal slump and find a way to win 12-14 games this season, but the current scenario should seal Glavine's resolve to retire at the end of the current campaign, which is probably good for the Mets due to their front-line starter depth (see below).

Can't imagine Alou returning before the break unless it is to one of the minor league affiliates for a few games, so he can return for the second half with a grooved swing (not one of his problems). Staying healthy has always been a real issue and no one should be surprised by the lack of at-bats in the first half. The real stunners, that could not have been anticipated, were the injuries to Lastings Milledge and Endy Chavez, who were fully expected to cover rest and injuries to Alou, Green and Beltran. No doubt Omar considered that depth before signing the injury-prone Alou.

We've said it before, but Schoeneweis' tendon in the back of his left knee is causing him and the Mets big problems. Just as certainly his right-handed compliment, Guillermo Mota, is having trouble getting outs and saving runs. It is time to DL Schoeneweis and send Mota back to New Orleans for a few weeks to sharpen up. There are two bullpen specialists at Triple A who are pitching very well and deserve an opportunity. Southpaw Willie Collazo, a diminutive 28-year-old in the mold of John Franco, and righty Steve Schmoll, a big 27-year-old sidearmer, who arrived with Duaner Sanchez from the Dodgers, have been extremely effective this season and both have excellent strikeout to walk ratios, a must for relievers. Schmoll's problem is the Mets are not very excited about having so many relievers throwing from the side as do Smith, Feliciano and even Heilman.

The Carlos Factor
For the most part, Beltran and Delgado have spent much of the season toiling in the third and clean-up roles and have left an amazing amount of runners on base. Between the two, they have 19 HR and 79 RBI, which has to be in the bottom third of all major league teams. Clearly, Delgado's season-long slump is not allowing Beltran to see better pitches to drive. The only alternative is probably to bat Wright behind Beltran with Green following, or to move Beltran to the two-hole with LoDuca in the three-hole followed by Wright and Green. Fact is, Beltran should be rested for about two weeks so his aching quad can mend, but the Mets do not have that luxury right now. So, where does that leave Delgado, who is really hurting the Mets in ways that are difficult to cover up when a potent hitter like Alou is not in the lineup? What becomes clear, as the various scenarios play themselves out, is the domino effect of Alou's injury compounded by Delgado's slump. Baseball is clearly a synergistic game.

So, what's a GM to do? Shake it up a little. Restructuring the pen from the minors from now to the break with Willie Collazo and/or Steve Schmoll is not that big a deal. Taking a good look at acquiring a high quality, high-priced starter is probably already in the works. The betting would be on Carlos Zambrano or Roy Oswalt. Likely, the Mets would have to give up Pelfrey and either Heilman or Sosa or two other prospects. Pelfrey is pitching very effectively at New Orleans and Sosa is making a bit of a mark. But without Duaner Sanchez, can the Mets afford to deal Heilman?

The outfield poses some serious problems unless Willie is satisfied with a platoon of sorts in left with Rickie Ledee and Carlos Gomez. Most of us are not. There are few options in the minors and I would rather see some of them rather than Ledee. How about giving Gotay a crash course in LF and use the talented Gomez in the Endy Chavez role. Gomez shows promise, but clearly needs more seasoning at the plate, as he has resorted to a little too much bunting for basehits, always an obvious tell of being overmatched. Gotay is an intriguing player (probably why they obtained him last season). He has some pop, speed and a pretty good batting eye. Defensively, he seems above average with decent range. In this emergency, he could be just the right fit for the next three weeks.

The Mets clear franchise areas of strength are starting pitching (Glavine, Maine, Perez, Hernandez, Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Dave Williams, Pelfrey, Jason Vargas, Phil Humber, Brian Lawrence, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra) and outfielders (Beltran, Green, Chavez, Milledge, Gomez, Ben Johnson, Chip Ambres, Fernando Martinez, Corey Coles, Caleb Stewart and Dustin Martin). They have very few promising relievers, infielders and catchers. Minaya must deal from strength to get stronger. He is also prevented from trading any players currently on the DL, which eliminates quite a few bats.

There does seem to be an undercurrent of chatter about Ichiro being available and slightly less of an Adam Dunn and Junior Griffey buzz. Dunn would be the much better choice between the two Reds, but Ichiro, if actually available, would make the Mets a dynamic team capable of winning it all. Problem is, if the Mariners were to deal Ichiro, they would need a centerfielder, and a good one, along with some arms (they have seven pitchers on the DL). Milledge would be a very good fit along with Pelfrey and another prospect. but we will have to wait for Lastings to play a few weeks and perform well. The perfect fit for the Mariners would probably be Milledge, Endy Chavez and Pelfrey. Dunn may be the most likely addition to the Mets since he could be obtained for a little less and would create an option of using Alou more sparingly to spell Dunn or Green against lefties. Both Green and Dunn can also play some 1B.

Peter Gammons reported during the Sunday night debacle against the Highlanders that Billy Wagner has been pushing Minaya to get Brad Lidge and that the Mets are talking to the White Sox regarding Mark Buerhle. Nice pickups both, if they can be had.

What about these potential deals?

Jorge Sosa, Fernando Martinez and Mike Pelfrey or Phil Humber to the 'Stros for Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge.

Jason Vargas, Aaron Heilman and Ambiorix Burgos or Guillermo Mota to the White Sox for Mark Buerle or to the Cubbies for Carlos Zambrano

The White Sox badly need bullpen help. Houston needs starters and a front-line lefthanded-hitting OF prospect. They would also dump quite a bit of salary.

Lots of prospects for some proven arms.

There is no doubt that the next six weeks will be a fascinating period for Omar Minaya if he is to solidify his stewardship of the Mets. Perhaps there will be no better moment to exemplify the saying, "When the times get tough, the tough get going."

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

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Comments (5)

You do not trade Fernando Martinez no matter what.

I heard Lastings Milledge for Mark Buehrle

We won't end up with Lidge, as they will want Pelfrey and more.

Joe; I disagree on Lidge. They could not get anything for him last off season. The problem with Dave's proposal is they are not balanced.

All teams will see the same list; Humber/Pelfrey/Vargas and Gomez/Milledge. Then the haggling begins. add Heilman, Collazzo, Jon Niese, Parnal, Mike CARP, Corey Coles...some lower level prospect. But the bottom line is one of our top pitchers, one OFer(or Carp), and another lower level prospect go. Frankly I WOULD give up FMart. Gomez and Milledge are possibly essential to a title run especially given the fact Green and alou have issues. But for Oswalt. Buerle is a FA so that factors to. Now Frank Pena, No way. Its interesting. to compare situations...the Bosox let Lowe and Pedro go now have added MatsK and Beckett. Similarly the Mets would add Buerle or Oswalt replacing Glavine (prematurely).

I don't think that you can give up Sosa under any circumstances. The guy's not just having a nice run, he was a frontline pitcher for a full season two years ago, and they need him to continue to be that this year. Given that you can't rely on Glavine "getting it back" at his age, or El Duque's health, you don't get enough guaranteed upside in the rotation replacing Sosa - even with a pitcher who's better than he is. If you bring in a big-time starter, and either Glavine or El Duque are doing well, you can move Sosa to the 'pen if in the postseason, but you can't subtract him from the rotation at this point.

Milledge's injury really complicates things. I sense that they like what they're seeing from Gomez - even though he could have used a full year at AAA, and probably could have benefited from two full seasons down there - which would have made him a 22/23 yr-old rookie in '09 (still very young.) The kid's got good size, so some power will likely come, he can clearly play the OF (he'll probably develop into a plus-plus OFer as he matures) and he's looked less and less overmatched at the plate even now. Plus, you can't coach that kind of speed, and the thought of two blazing speedsters in the lineup for the next 8-10 years is something that Omar is banking on, I'm guessing.

F-Mart is too advanced at his age to deal him. He may or may not turn into what they're hoping, but I don't think you can risk letting him go at 18 years old.

Milledge is the guy - if you can get him healthy in time to deal him. If that leaves you short an OFer this season, well, you weren't winning the WS with two barely-ready rookies starting in the OF anyway. Barring a trade for a productive vet, two of your starting three (Beltran, Green, Alou) are going to have to be healthy and contributing down the stretch and in the postseason to get a ring this year.

To get a frontline starter (for multiple years, not just a rental) it's fine to give up either Pelfrey or Humber, and some combination of names from the list of other prospects outlined above. Dealing either of them along with Milledge in the same package must return something a lot better than Mark Buerhle, however.

It's going to be interesting to see how Omar plays this. He's shown thus far that he's not willing to mortgage the future by overpaying in prospects for short-term help. There'll be a lot of pressure this year to do that. I think that a few years from now, we'll be able to look back at what he does or doesn't do over these next six weeks and see whether he's a good GM, or a great one.

1. Will Glavine find his rhythm?
Yeah. He will. He won't be great, but he won't be a liability.
2. Will Alou actually be back before the All-Star break?
I wouldn't count in it, but I think number 4 plays a part in how important he is.
3. What about Schoeneweis to the DL?
From what I understand, it won't help. He either has to find a way to deal with it,(He didn't look too bad Sunday) or just have some sort of surgery to remove it. In the Mota aspect of this, I think he sucks. Lets see some of those prospects.
4. Will the Carlos' drive in the runs they are given?
Probably. I think Beltran is just slumping with the team and the pain. He'll be back.(sooner if we don't boo him tonight... Delgado..I'm not sure about. Maybe he's having risidual effects from surgery, and maybe he needs a couple of days of no baseball activity to strengthen it. I don't think he'll have a good stretch, but I think he'll get more clutch, and probably have a strong sept/oct
5. Will Minaya deal?
I imagine he was up all night.

I disagree violently with your two trade proposals. Our pitching has been excellent baring this slump. Another starter is not a priority, I think the biggest priority is some bullpen consistency, which is hard to do with Mota and Schoeneweis having contracts.

I have mixed feelings about trading Milledge for Buehrle. On the one hand, you hate to lose a guy with such talent as Milledge. Our starting pitchers has been our strength this year; If Pedro comes back, that gives you 7 starters.

One the other hand,you can't expect our starting pitching to keep it up. El Duque is always a candidate for another injury, Sosa going's to come down to earth, you don't know if Perez & Maine are going to stay as good as they've been this, and you can't rely on Pedro to come back & regain his old form. We do also have Gomez & Fernando Martinez waiting in the wings, which makes Milledge a little more expendable.

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