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Deal or No Deal

Dave MillsThursday, July 26, 2007
By Dave Mills

As the non-waiver trading deadline approaches, it is time challenge the semi-conventional wisdom being strewn about newsprint and the Internet and to think like a general manager. In particular, a guy by the name of Minaya.

Wading into the last week of July, our beloved and oft times frustrating Amazins, do in fact, have the best record in the National League and should have little trouble being included in the postseason festivities. That being said, a wise GM will be looking for a little something for the short term with an eye on building for the future.

Perhaps the best way to analyze the Mets is an in-depth analysis, position by position.

First Base
No matter what Carlos Delgado ends up doing for the balance of this year, he will be the first sacker next year. His contract is rock solid and no one will take him off the Mets hands. With Mike Carp as their best 1B prospect and at least two years away from The Show, about the best thing Omar can do is pick up a righthanded-hitting first baseman, who can play three times every two weeks and offer some pop off the bench. Probably the best pickup in this regard would be former Met Ty Wigginton, who is a very versatile infielder and has the potential to be a stellar role player for many years. With Delgado or Carp (a left-handed hitter), Wiggy could platoon very nicely at 1B or 2B. The next best option for the balance of Delgado's tenure could be Jeff Conine, a durable 41-year-old with some baseball savvy.

Second Base
While no one wished Jose Valentin be injured (more than he already was), it is a blessing not so well disguised for the Mets. Ruben Gotay has been eating up right-handed hurlers since being brought up and is deserving of at least platooning with Damon Easley, which is the likely scenario for the balance of the year. Anderson Hernandez is not likely to stick around. The only second sacker with some serious curb appeal is Brandon Phillips. If the Reds want to take Pelfrey, Heilman and Gotay, I make the deal right now. Lorreta is intriguing, but for who? And with Biggio retiring, it seems the Stros might want to hold on to their Mark.

We have Reyes and nobody else does. Anderson Hernandez will spell Jose a few times in September as Willie gets Reyes a little rest before the playoffs.

Third Base
We have Wright and nobody else does. Easley will spell David a few times before October.

While no one mentions it, this is where Omar can get very creative for the long term. Clearly, Paul LoDuca is having some issues with age and being beat up behind the dish. It appears the Mets will not be looking to bring him back next year and, if they do, it will be for one year only. Alomar is certainly not an answer. All the while, Ramon Castro is really blossoming. I have never been satisfied as to why so many sages think Castro is only a backup. The Mets have no legitimate plate jockey in their farm system, so a deal will have to be made. No doubt Minaya should look for a switch-hitter or a lefty. There are six potential targets who could help the Mets next year and beyond. All are 29 or less. Ryan Doumit (26) of the Bucs is a legitimate candidate as is Miguel Montero (24) of the D-Backs. A little less attractive, but interesting catch, could be Mike Rabelo (27) of the Tigers. A prospect of some note is the Red Sox George Kottaras (24). Josh Bard (29) of the Padres and Eric Munson (29) of the Astros round out the field. Any of these backstops could potentially balance out with Castro to create an excellent platoon and get into 90 games or so. The Mets won pennants with lefties JC Martin and later Ron Hodges balancing out Jerry Grote.

Shawn Green is likely to be gone at the close of this season, but like LoDuca, he could end up with a one-year extension at the most. Alou will not be back. Endy Chavez will. That leaves three sensational prospects to make major contributions over the next three seasons--Milledge (2008), Carlos Gomez (2009) and Fernando Martinez (2010). With all that talent and speed and Carlos Beltran in CF, why would any smart GM do anything except perhaps pick up a platoon mate for Green. The outfield depth goes even further than those three genuine prospects, with names like Ben Johnson, Corey Coles, Caleb Stewart and Dustin Martin making for a strong "B" list that could be moved for some of the backstops indicated above or for a Wigginton or Conine.

Addition by subtraction, with Marlon Anderson a deft left-handed swinger and more agile utility player replacing Julio Franco. In fact, Anderson (2B, IB, OF) and Easley (2B, SS, 3B, OF) are not only extremely versatile, but they may be a perfect compliment from the left and right. Wigginton (1B, 3B, 2B) or Conine (1B, RF) would fit Willie's mold perfectly. And Endy Chavez has to be the best 4th outfielder in baseball, defensively and offensively.

Starting Pitching
Lets be truthful...the starters have been very good and, like in the outfield, there is considerable depth in the system. With Pedro a possible before the end of August and certainly for next year, is it really worth giving up "A" prospects like Pelfry, Humber, Vargas, Mulvey (my keeper), Guerra? Perhaps one. "B" prospects include Ambiorix Burgos, Willie Collazo, Steve Schmoll, Ryan Cullen, Brian Lawrence and a few others. Glavine will retire at the end of this campaign. Bet on it. If the Mets enter the 2008 season with a rotation of Martinez, Maine, Perez, Sosa and El Duque backed up by the prospects, I could sleep very soundly.

If Omar is to make a powerful statement, he might do something about a right-handed setup man to compliment Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano. But with Heilman coming around and Mota delivering glimpses of his 2006 medicinally enhanced self, is it worth giving more than the B's away? The big name this week is Chad Cordero. He is more than serviceable. Brad Lidge or Eric Gagne would be even better. Wagner is pushing for Lidge. Sele has been very effective lately. Joe Smith is starting to move toward Schoeneweis, which is not encouraging. Right now, those are the two weak links in the pen.

If Minaya can find a right-handed setup guy and add a Wigginton or Conine, along with a platoon catcher for the future, the Mets will be well-served. If just one of those moves happens, it will also be fine. The risk is if nothing happens at all.

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)

This is more of an offseason idea, but anyway....

If I ran the Mets I would look into acquiring the Dodgers' James Loney. I was pretty impressed with him this recent series, both in the field and at the plate.

It could be done, I think, if both teams looked to trading strengths to address weaknesses. The Dodgers have Andy LaRoche; after a lousy early season when he showed he wasn't ready for the majors he has really turned it on at AAA Las Vegas. He is their future third baseman; Nomar could cover the first base duties. Actually, if it was me I would sent Matt Kemp to extended spring training or something and let him learn first base before he kills himself in the outfield. If Willie McCovey could do it...

Which brings me to what the Dodgers might want in exchange; bad as he certainly is, Matt Kemp was actually used as a defensive replacement by the Dodgers in this last series. He has actually seen time in centerfield! The Dodgers need some outfielders that can catch the ball; and it happens that the Mets have several of those knocking on the door.

The other corner of this thought is that Carlos DelGato may be approaching the end of the line. He certainly has been a less than productive player this year. The Mets need production from that position; as things stand they will be heading into the future with a speedy outfield with only moderate power numbers. That's fine if you're getting the juice from the infield, not so fine if your first baseman is negating your shortstop's production.

So in my fantasy trade one of Carlos or Lastings or Fernando would have to go, but we would get a talented young first baseman in return. Thoughts?

BTW, Carlos' contract is not any more solid that Jim Thome's was, and he was moved after an injury-marred season with the Phils. So while the contract makes moving Carlos less likely, it could still happen I think.

Good article, Mr. Mills. Barring a blockbuster style deal that would be a no-brainer for the Mets to jump on, getting a Wigginton/Brandon Phillips for 2nd Base and a Conine for the bench would be moves I'd be happy with. Otherwise, I'd be looking (like you) towards pitching, especially in the bullpen. I think that Otsuka, Lidge, Cordero, and Gagne will have a nice price tag attached to them, however. If you want something more reasonably priced- Jimmy Gobble, David Weathers, and Jon Rauch.

As for blockbuster deals, if the Mets can get themselves a starting pitcher who can anchor their rotation, that's about all I'd go for in that regard. That means if they find themselves trading for a Roy Oswalt or a Johan Santana, by all means, sacrifice the blood of your first born and second born children to get them. Also, if there are deals that can improve their farm system- for an Erik Bedard or a Zach Duke, I'd gof for that as well. Otherwise, there's no reason to try for rotation filler like a Jeff Weaver or a Jon Lieber.

In terms of hitters, if the Mets find themselves able to replace Shawn Green or Moises Alou with an Eric Byrnes or Adam Dunn, I'd also jump at that chance. Especially Byrnes, who I think would be a perfect spark plug to complement Reyes, in the Mets lineup. As for first base, I'd move Delgado only if the Mets get Mark Texiera. And with Catcher I really like Ramon Castro as well- although Victor Martinez is a free agent in the offseason. If the Mets get him, I'll wave goodbye to Lo Duca in a heartbeat.

With all due respect DD, James Loney and Carlos Delgado are going nowhere. Loney has a world of talent and a salary less than $400,00. Delgado is a waning talent with a $12 miilion salary and a contract that cannot be altered. Look for both to remain with their respective clubs unless Ned is blown away with a buffet of "A+" prospects. I am sure Omar has some targets to man the first sack on Citifield in 2009. That being said, Adam Dunn could be in his sights, but he strikes out a lot, is not much of a glove and doesn't compliment Delgado in the interim the way a Wigginton or Conine might. I would pass. The time to deal for, or sign, a first sacker will be at the conclusion of the 2008 season.

Jason - I see Wigginton as the ultimate role player who can fill in competently at three positions, pinch hit and deliver some pop. Brandon Phillips is a different story, as he would really fill the righthanded hitter with power role (Nady/Alou) and deliver speed and a respectable glove. He is an impact player who can bat 2, 5 or 6 and drive in runs. In my opinion, batting cleanup with the Reds is not exactly the role he can flourish in. Too much power pressure. Phillips, like Loney, would take a blend of "A+" prospects and proven major leaguers. I can't really see Minaya making a deal for a frontline pitcher without moving either Jorge Sosa and a number of "A+" prospects. With Smith and Schoeneweis struggling, I like your suggestion of Jimmy Gobble or Jon Rauch. Eric Byrnes would be a very good fit and excellent platoon partner with Endy Chavez. And if Omar can get Victor Martinez as a FA, warts and all defensively, I would be thrilled. Could happen and it may be a big reason the Mets have not been forthcoming to LoDuca in terms of an extension.

As much as I like the Loney kid I also really liked what I saw out the Mets own Carp. He looked real good during spring training so I would not send Milledge and or Martinez, Fernando that is for loney. Also, Texiera is a free agent after I think next season. With I believe Delgados also being up at the same time. Now with Mr. Boras representing Texiera , we all know he will take mark to free agency. This may be a go unless first base gets addressed before that.

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