By Mike Steffanos
I've sat down at my computer a couple of times in an attempt to get back into more frequent updates to the site. The hot stove season has always interested me in the past, but I have to admit that I'm just not as into it this season.
I suspect part of the reason for this is that I am less inclined to take anything I read about impending deals or free agent signings all that seriously. We've just seen too many examples about how these anonymously sourced stories of impending actions are nothing more than well-written speculation. I've read so many of them over the years I think I can do a credible job of producing my own:
A baseball insider who is familiar with the Mets' thinking has confidentially notified the Mike's Mets news desk that a deal is on the table to bring [insert your personal favorite rumor here] to the Mets in exchange for Aaron Heilman, Luis Castillo and a package of minor leaguers. Our sources inform us that the one stumbling block is the Mets reluctance to include [insert your favorite prospect's name here].*
Of course, some semblance of said deal probably was broached at one point but never came even remotely close to final form. No matter -- if the rumored deal is reported enough it takes on the quality of "fact". The consequence, of course, is that whenever that prospect who the Mets allegedly refused to give up has a bad day -- particularly if it is at the major league level -- there will be writers and bloggers will feel the need to identify said prospect as the one who cost us the privilege seeing [rumored star player] in a Mets uniform. And this process will continue endlessly every time that prospect stumbles a little.
The myth has grown over the years that the Mets turned down a deal for Manny Ramirez straight up for Lastings Milledge, and the fact that it's patently ridiculous doesn't seem to matter. I'm reading the same sort of thing now where I am informed that Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Robert Parnell or some other Mets prospect was somehow deemed "untouchable" by the Mets and cost them that one magical player who would have clinched the playoffs for the Mets in '08.
I guess if there was a shutdown reliever out there somewhere who could have contributed 3 or 4 innings to the cause every day that magical player might have actually existed, but I strongly tend to doubt it.
Although I am a strong proponent of the Mets developing some of their own prospects, I am not against trading prospects in the right deal. On the other hand, most teams have very, very few prospects in their systems that have much chance at all to make any real impact at the major league level, and I believe that they have to be very careful about dealing these players for veteran mediocrity or short-term rent-a-players.
Despite their being no shortage of folks willing to present themselves as expert evaluators of prospects -- hence the endless profusion of dubious top prospect lists -- it's my belief that very few people have that talent. I can assure you that if I had that ability I would be making my living doing just that. I won't pretend that I can predict what type of major leaguers youngsters like Martinez, Niese and Parnell might eventually become, if they even make it that far.
I'm not going to attempt to add myself to the list of all the tedious self-appointed prospect experts, and will avoid constructing or criticizing trade scenarios that involve specific prospects. If you're looking for that type of thing there is no shortage of places to find it, you just won't find it here.
Well, I guess I rambled enough about what I won't do this hot stove season. Check back tomorrow to see what I will do. I'm looking forward to figuring it out myself. Let's talk some baseball.
*By the way, for more on how to compose anonymously sourced generic hot stove reporting, please see Chuck Rothman's excellent piece from earlier this month.