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Revelation and Speculation

Dave MillsSunday, January 3, 2010
By Dave Mills

Bay Play
Jason Bay will be roaming the vast expanse known as left field at Citi Field for the next four seasons. While I am not particularly enamored with such a development, it should be good for the Mets for a couple of seasons. My biggest gripe is that the Mets paid a lot of money over too many years to a 31-year-old who is an average defender (a little better than most think), not fleet of foot and strikes out way too much. The Bay signing also leaves little doubt that the Wilpons will cut Carlos Beltran adrift at the end of the 2011 season, or perhaps do the smart thing and trade him on or before July 31, 2011. Fernando Martinez and Kirk Niewenhuis will get their shots at that time.

My other concern with the Bay deal is a preponderance of right-handed hitters (Bay, Wright, Francoeur and behind the dish) and switch-hitters (Beltran, Reyes and Castillo), with only one pure left-handed bat (Murphy). If Manuel wants to keep the opposition on their toes by keeping speed at the top of the lineup and also alternate righties and lefties--Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Beltran, Bay, Murphy and Francoeur--is likely the way it will look. And without much variation.

The other thing the Bay Play solidifies is Angel Pagan's critical role on the 2010 Mets. Pagan should start at least three games a week--one at each position. A smart manager acknowledging the internal damage to Beltran's knee would never let him play a day game following night, in bad weather or on a very wet outfield. Both Francoeur and Bay are susceptible to certain right-handed hurlers and Pagan should spell each of them once a week to keep him sharp, the others rested and give the Mets a little edge in the match-ups. No doubt, he will be a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and play a couple of defensive innings in LF quite frequently. If Pagan is used creatively and not allowed to rot away on the bench, he will be the Most Valuable Sub in the league. The goal is at least 350 at-bats.

No Molina Please
Alternating the catching duties between Henry Blanco and Omir Santos with both Chris Coste and Josh Thole in reserve is just fine. Spend the bucks on pitching. An argument can even be made to carry Coste as a third receiver and right-handed platoon with Murphy at 1B. This gives the Mets some terrific depth. Even better, should Thole continue to excel and Santos have a decent season, the Mets can dangle Santos in July or at the end of the season. Using Blanco, Santos and Coste effectively can deliver anything and everything Molina can and then some, without clogging up the base paths. Bengie may well be the slowest man in baseball since Ernie Lombardi.

Bench Press
In today's game, the bench (and the farm system) DOES matter. High salaries appear to make managers play the higher priced talent as regulars and diminish the role player to bench jockey. The masterful Stengel/Hodges platooning, I so often refer to, is but a distant memory. The Mets may perhaps field a true platoon at 1B with Murphy paired with Coste, Evans, Garko, Garciaparra or even Tatis. (The first three are the most likely.) Catching will be more of a potpourri from three right-handed hitters and based more on who's pitching for both teams. As mentioned above, this leaves the Angel Pagan (a switch-hitting pure outfielder) as the key bench player, followed by Alex Cora (a lefty swinging pure infielder). If the Mets go with a trio of backstops (Blanco/Santos/Coste) this leaves only one slot available to fill. If they go with two catchers and sign a Garko or Garciaparra or Tatis, they will have a power right-handed bat. Presumably, the role should be another switch-hitter who can play both INF and OF. The ubiquitous and totally versatile utility man is certainly in vogue for the Mets, rather than a one-dimensional Jack Cust-type. There does not appear to be the switch-hitting character out there. However, what about Smithtown boy Frank Catalanotto? Frank plays everywhere decently, has a good contact, left-handed bat and is a savvy veteran. Sure he's a little long-in-the-tooth, but ending his career playing in his hometown is a nice way to go out and he will want to distinguish himself. The question is whether the Mets want to sacrifice power for versatility. If Garko or Garciaparra are at 1B, power may not be necessary.

Can't argue with what Omar/Jeff have put together for the 2010 bullpen. The key roles there will be setup man, long man and swing man. With K-Rod a lock for closer and Perpetual Pedro and Sean Green (unless they get Chad Bradford back) as the situational lefty and righty, respectively, there are a number of intriguing choices for Manuel and Warthen to ponder. There also appears to be quite a bit of depth reaching all the way down to AAA for the first time in memory.

Closer: Frankie Rodriguez
8th Inning setup man: Kelvim Escobar
7th Inning go-to-guy: Ryota Igarashi
Situational lefty: Pedro Feliciano
Situational righty: Sean Green
Swing arms: Brian Stokes and/or Bobby Parnell
Long lefty: Pat Misch
Long righty: Nelson Figueroa

If the Mets go with three southpaws in the starting rotation (Santana/Perez/Niese), look for Misch to open the season in Buffalo as a starter, along with Fernando Nieve, Toby Stoner and Dillon Gee. The Buffalo pen should feature lefties Derrick Ellison and Arturo Lopez, plus righties Elmer Dessens, RA Dickey, Clint Everts, Jack Egbert, Eddie Kunz and perhaps Parnell (if he is not dealt and Escobar & Igarashi each have a nice spring training). Dickey and Parnell could also be candidates for the Bison rotation.

Would you make Deal A?
Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell (or Fernando Martinez) and Luis Castillo to the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano?

The Cubs would need to replace Zambrano in the rotation with a pitcher who can deliver 200 innings. Pelfrey throws a heavy ball and is generally considered a ground ball pitcher. He appears to be durable. Parnell has a lot of upside. Still a prospect with a full season of experience and a 98 MPH fastball. He slots nicely into Piniella's pen. Castillo provides much of what the Cubs are looking for--a steady hand at 2B, who can put the ball in play from both sides of the plate and get on base for Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano. The Cubs problem is too much right-handed hitting and an aging roster. Fukidome is at best a platoon right-fielder. And who is going to play CF? This is why F-Mart could be in the mix. If so, the Cubs would have to put a prospect into the mix.

Mets rotation candidates:
L - Santana
R - Zambrano
L - Perez
R - Maine
L - Niese
R - Nieve

Cubs rotation candidates:
L - Lilly
R - Dempster
R - Wells
L - Gorzelanny
R - Pelfrey
R - Silva

Or would you make Deal B?
Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell (or Jon Niese) and Luis Castillo to the Reds for Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips?

The Reds would be looking for a big young arm to replace Arroyo at a lesser price. Between Pelfrey and Parnell, they fill a couple of needs at a far lower cost. Phillips is a defense, speed and power upgrade, but he adds another big right-handed bat to the Mets lineup, which they do not necessarily require. Castillo would certainly replace Phillips in the Reds lineup, but the Mets would likely have to pay $4-5 million to satisfy the contract for the low payroll Reds. Substituting Niese for Parnell might mitigate the paydown and deliver a "B" prospect to the Mets. Or, how about Pelfrey, Niese, Castillo and a few mil for Arroyo, Phillips and Matt Maloney or Homer Bailey?

Mets rotation candidates:
L - Santana
R - Arroyo
L - Perez
R - Maine
L - Niese
R - Nieve

Reds rotation candidates:
R - Harang
R - Volquez
L - Maloney
R - Pelfrey
R - Cueto
R - Bailey

Trade Proposal Follow-Up
Just because I'm suggesting moving Pelfrey and Parnell does not mean I do not want them, like them or believe they are not still very good prospects and valuable pieces. Clearly, John Maine does not have Pelfrey's value due to injuries and age. Parnell has a tremendous fast ball and good delivery, which should keep him less prone to injury than other fireballers. For the Mets, the problem is where does Parnell slot? For a team that once developed and distributed an amazing array of closers (McGraw, Lockwood, Reardon, Aguilera, Orosco, McDowell, Myers, Isringhausen and Heath Bell), it sure seems the Mets like to go out and acquire them for the past 20 years (Franco, Benitez, Looper, Wagner and Rodriquez). Right now, Bobby Parnell, who is a step beyond most prospects, should have some very good upside to another ballclub be it as a closer, setup man or perhaps starter.

There are certainly other prospects and names that can be thrown in the mix, but only as throw-ins. At this particular point in time, the guys mentioned above (Pelfrey, Parnell, Niese and F-Mart) are the only meaningful names to other organizations.

In the unlikely (but not out-of-the-question) event that Zambrano could be acquired, the Mets would likely go after Orlando Hudson to man the second sack. However, Felipe Lopez could be a cheaper, younger (2.5 years and 9 seasons in The Show as opposed to 8 for the O-Dog) and more versatile option (has played SS, 3B and OF in addition to 2B). Lopez and Hudson, both switch-hitters, have remarkably similar offensive stats and neither is the base-running threat they once appeared to be.

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.

Comments (10)

Pagan will be lucky to get 200 Abs. First with his arm he can't play RF. Second the Mets aren't sitting Bay very often at 16 million a year. Third Beltran has to play if the team is going to win. The only way Pagan gets ABs is if Bay or Beltran have long term injuries.

Arroyo or Zambrano ? Wow! Hudson or Phillips at 2nd. Wow! My heart is torn on Pelfrey going away. I think he is very close to becoming a #2 pitcher. It would be hard for me to pull the trigger on that kind of trade.

I would do deal B in a heartbeat. But the versions of that deal that I've seen speculated on in the past have the Mets giving up Maine rather than Pelfrey. I would like that even better and even if the Mets then had to send a prospect along in the deal.

Given the amount of salary relief that this would provide to Cinci it is unlikely that the Mets would have to give up Pelf.

I like Pagan as a 4th OF, also in the back pocket for trade piece later on during season. I dont know if I would do deal A. I like Zambrano but he has been injured too. Seems like too much to pay. However I also would do trade B in a heart beat! I have said all offseason Pelfrey must go in a pitcher deal. If you could do the deal with Maine instead even better... Personaly I feel like no team wants Castillo. Thats the part of the deal that kills it everytime. The Mets should just eat his contract or keep him as a backup player and just sign Hudson.

I would stay away from deal A and Zambrano, and not trade Pelfrey at all. He is only getting paid $500,000 next year, and there are few pitchers we can bring in who offer what he can. Also, replacing him with a slightly better pitcher doesn't make the 3, 4, and 5 spots better, and I don't think Arroyo is better (although Phillips would be huge).
I agree that we need some more left-handed pop and also hope that Manuel will be smart in his use of Pagan next year, though I don't think Bay will need rest as often as you say or should be replaced by Pagan. Also, Bay isn't as slow as you say - he has 66 steals in 80 attempts, including four seasons of double digits steals and a high of 21.
I also don't think that will be the lineup Manuel uses, I think he goes Beltran, Bay, Wright; even though Beltran's switch hitting is nicer in between the right handers, Bay is the best RBI guy of the bunch and, at least early on, Wright will have to reprove himself some.
Aside from getting a lefty slugging right fielder or one to replace Murphy (Ike Davis midseason could do both), I don't see where one could fit in the starting line-up but there is plenty of room on the bench.

Guys, Great posts! Good opinions on all the replies. I would take plan"B". The only thing that I wouldn't want to do is to trade Parnell. The last time we traded a guy who hit 100 moh, look what happened! We were bit once but not again. It's kind of tough on Niese too. We really didn't see enough of him but I got the feeling he was rushed and really wasn't ready from what I did see. Arroyo, I honestly don't know that much about other than looking at stats. Phillips on the other hand would be a great pick up. Better fielder and hits with power! We need the extra power for any shortfall Murphy has. That's the guy who worries me most. Will he go through the sophomore jinx? I feel right now if we could get Adam LaRoche at a respectable price, we should do it. The cost has to be respectable though. Also, do not put in a no trade clause. If everything goes alright with Murphy, he could be traded at the line for another need. The issue here may be playing time. Too bad Gil wasn't around to handle that one. Right? On another note, what happened to the power hitting catchers? There just doesn't seem to be any out there. Is it a dying breed? Just thought I would through it out there for some feedback.

What , no mention of solving our SP problems through Free Agency this year without Trading more of our scant Minor League prospects in this Article ? Come on , Garland , Pineiro , Sheets , Washburn , and Bedard are All Availble for the right Price . Please don't tell me the Mets Organization is Still Stupid enough to not see the Error of their ways these last 4 years ?...........Sigh .

Acquiring Zambrano off a down year would be a coup. The key to a deal is the Mets willingness to guarantee the back end of Zambrano's deal as a concession for him giving up his no trade clause.

Because of the financial committment to Zambrano in yrs 3-4, it's less likely that the Mets will have to part with Pelfrey. I believe that's why most of the trade rumors have centered on Maine.

While the Mets want to make a trade the Reds, Royals, and Cubs may decide to wait until the trade deadline. By then, some other options may be available:

1. Wang - He should be able to demonstrate that he's healthy by June/early July.
2. Lee - Seattle went on a spending spree and if things don't pan out they may be sellers.
3. Oswalt - Ownership loves him but he's losing value and they may want to move him before it's too late.

Any free agent center fielders out there still ? LOL I can handle Pagan if he stays healthy. But does this just increase the stink or what... I figure Bletran did the right thing. His own health is #1 to Beltran. The Mets I figure would have wanted him to hold off for a few months so he could get surgury in time for all star break....

1Wang - many teams want him
2Lee - I hope too
3Oswalt - older now so who knows

have to vent sorry....

So I hear today that Pinero took less money to go to California. Did his agent tell him dont go to NYM, They have no catcher , no firstbast ext.. Does Pinero have the same agent as Beltran? I hope not. It has been a terrible off season. Even the Nats had a good offseason this year. The Dodgers got Padilla for 1 yr/5mil... I would have had him on the Mets for that this year... someone is asleep or someone is saying no more cash to spend this year win or loose ?? Gotta be one or the other right ??

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