Feb 04

Mets did not win Santana trade.

I read a blog posting this morning that claimed the Mets won the Johan Santana trade, based on the talent given up, but lost the contract extension. This couldn’t be any less accurate or more naive.

SANTANA: On the hook for three more years.

While it is true the players surrendered didn’t amount to much on the major league level and Santana did have several productive years, one cannot separate the trade from the contract because they are linked. The trade was made because Santana waived his no-trade clause and agreed to a six-year extension.

Translated: There would have been no trade without the contract.

I wrote at the time the Mets overpaid for Santana both in terms of players – not that it matters now – and in money. That has proven to be correct.

The market for Santana was Boston and the Yankees, and the Mets only became involved only after both those backed off because of the Twins’ demands. When the deal was made Omar Minaya admitted Santana came back to them.

In essence, the Mets were bidding against themselves, something Minaya also did in the contracts for Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and several others.

The contract of $137.5 million over six years was excessive for Santana because of the accumulated innings on his arm and he had a previous arm injury. Six years is a gamble for any pitcher at any time because of the fragility of the arm, shoulder and elbow. Too many things can go wrong and the team ends up paying from damaged goods.

I believe, as I did then, the Mets misjudged the market and overpaid for Santana. While he did win for the Mets, he was injured at the end of every season and required surgery. The Mets already paid for one season and received nothing, and it is possible they could be on the hook for three more years.

Any trade is a gamble, but this one the Mets lost. That is, unless Santana makes a full recovery and pitches – and wins – for a pain-free three more years.

Anybody want to take that bet?

Jan 26

Tigers will regret Fielder signing ….

Not surprised at the reaction to Detroit signing Prince Fielder, giving them a formidable pair of sluggers when teamed with Miguel Cabrera. All that power; all those home runs will make the Tigers the team to beat.

Yeah, and I remember all those World Series the Yankees would win after signing Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. At last count, the Yankees won only one Series with Rodriguez and none with the other two.

The Tigers are the latest team to be seduced by agent Scott Boras.

Detroit said it would move Cabrera to third base, which he prefers, but in truth he’s a defensive liability at third and if his mind were clear about it, he’s best suited to be a designated hitter. Fact is, so is Fielder.

All this makes me wonder what the over/under is on the number of years it will be before the Tigers regret signing Fielder for the princely sum of $214 million over the next nine years. I’m guessing four years.

His body type suggests he’s susceptible to getting out of shape or breaking down physically. I don’t know enough about Fielder’s emotional make-up to say he won’t work hard to stay in shape, but history dictates he could get complacent and possibly break down. It also dictates, and strongly, that the deeper the Tigers get into this contract the more the money will become a burden.

Look at the scorecard: Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers and Yankees; Manny Ramirez with Boston; Ryan Howard with the Phillies; Jayson Werth with Washington; Carlos Beltran with the Mets; Barry Zito with San Francisco; and Giambi with the Yankees.

There are dozens more.

Whether it be the money, lack of production, injuries, testing positive for steroids, or in Ramirez’s case, being a boor and quitting on his team, every one of those teams wished they could dump the contract.

The Tigers are going for it this year. They’d better make it because this won’t be a happy marriage.

Jan 18

What can $90 million get you?

First of all, I’d like to apologize for my spotty attendance lately. I’ve had several personal issues I’ve needed to attend to, and lately my health hasn’t been good. I was in the hospital yesterday and just haven’t felt up to it.

I have tried to maintain a consistent presence over the years, but have not been good so far in 2012. I apologize to you and promise to do better. I also appreciate your continued support.

Thank you.

This past few days have given me time to think, and, or course, attention drifts to the upcoming baseball season. Usually, this time of year has the optimism of spring training. With the Yankees making moves to improve their pitching, the Mets have done little.

The Mets’ projected payroll for 2012 is $90 million, which is a long separation to that of the Yankees, Phillies and most any other team expected to contend for the playoffs.

There have been examples of teams with small payrolls contending and even reaching the playoffs as Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Minnesota proving over the years.

Winning can be done with limited financial resources, but a common denominator has been building with homegrown talent, having it develop and locking in the key pieces. Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun and Joe Mauer are prime examples. At one time, that’s what I thought the Mets were doing with David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Wright is entering the prime years of his career, but he is doing so with a string of nagging injuries the past few seasons and a lack of complementary support. The Mets aren’t in a hurry to trade him, but the fact they are contemplating it is all the proof you need to know where this franchise is headed.

Teams can compete – to a point – with a $90 million payroll, but doing so requires a strong foundation, and that’s also lacking. Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy are young pieces, but I would be hesitant to label them a core for the future. We’ve only seen a smattering of promise from them, but also flaws and in some cases an injury history.

None possess the potential Wright and Reyes had when the Mets signed them to long-term contracts early in their career when the winning window was wide open.

Yes, 2006 seems like a long time ago.

If Niese and Davis, Duda and Tejada can play well, others stay healthy, and veterans such as Wright, Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey play to their potential, the Mets could make some noise.

But, that’s a lot of things that have to break right for a franchise that’s been on a negative slide, and not going away is the potential $400 million hit from the Ponzi scandal.

I can’t say things won’t break for the Mets, but it is January, time for positive hoping if you’re a baseball fan.

Dec 09

Reflections on a wild Winter Meetings.

* I understand the fans’ dismay over the Mets losing Jose Reyes, but I believe it has more to do with the disarray the team is in more than losing the player itself. Reyes’ departure is emblematic to the degree of how far the Mets fell since the 2006 playoffs.

The fact is Reyes makes his living with his legs but hasn’t been completely healthy in three seasons, including two stints on the disabled list last year. The Mets’ financial situation made it cost prohibitive to bring him back at that price and it wasn’t worth the risk. Realistically evaluating things, bringing back Reyes was the wrong play.

If you’re frustrated and angry, it should be at the Mets’ overall condition and not that a brittle player took the money and ran.

* It is premature to give the Angels a pass into the playoffs. Their rotation might be stronger than Texas with the addition of CJ Wilson, but the Rangers’ lineup remains superior and there’s always the chance they might add Prince Fielder.

Do you remember when the Yankees added Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson? They were supposed to win multiple World Series, but didn’t win anything until 2009, and by that time Johnson retired. The Phillies were favorites the past two years. How did that work out? Also, how did it work out for the Miami Heat last year and the Philadelphia Eagles this season? Rarely, do things work out smoothly for Dream Teams.

* Don’t you think the Yankees regret the Rodriguez contract? I bet they do. I’d also be willing to bet eventually the Angels and Marlins might regret their wild spending, which never guarantees anything.

* I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis made a run at Fielder to take the sting out of losing Albeert Pujols. Even so, the money might be better spent on maintaining because the Cardinals are still a good team and don’t need an overhaul.

* Regarding Fielder, I found it laughable to read the Cubs don’t have the money to spend on Fielder. The Cubs have the resources, but are they willing?

* The Mets believe they bolstered their bullpen, with Sandy Alderson saying they have the seventh through ninth accounted for. Then again, they took from the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with over 20 blown saves last season.

 

Dec 07

Mets talking Niese.

It isn’t as if the Mets want to trade Jon Niese, but he’s one of the few valuable chips they have to deal. Left-handed starters are always a premium and the Mets are hoping to bring back a starter, catcher and infielder. Niese ended the season on the disabled list, so his health is a concern making it doubtful they’ll get that much.

And, if they don’t, what’s the point considering pitching is their biggest need.

Reportedly, the Yankees, Boston, Toronto, San Diego and Colorado inquired. If this is the fire sale it seems to be, I don’t see them dealing with the Yankees unless they overpay.