baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

As baseball fades away from the papers . . .

This is the time of year I wish I were a General Manager. To me, this is the most interesting part of the process of building a baseball team, and very little of the work gets reported to the fans, unless you have a contact on the inside. Right now, Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman are trying to follow the organizational blue print for designing a World Series winning team in 2007, without destroying the future by trading away too many top prospects. It's always a challenge to focus on improving now, without losing sight of the next few years; both the Mets and Yankees have some older players who will need replacing in the near future.

So far, Brian Cashman has been very creative in getting rid of guys he doesn't want (Sheffield and Jaret Wright), and replaced them with pitching prospects, while keeping Sheffield away from the Red Sox, the Yankees' major division rival. The only move that I disagree with is the resigning of Mike (I'm still recovering from the Japan trip) Mussina. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Yankees haven't won a World Series since Mussina joined the team. Not that it's all his fault, by any means, but he has a really clear pattern of pitching just well enough to lose in the big games. He will need to take whatever Kenny Rogers was taking, if he is to become a post-season asset for the Yankees in the next two years.

As for the Mets, they are doing the typical New York thing: sign old guys with histories of success, and trade away a bunch of young and talented pitchers that may come back to haunt them. In one of the few moves where they actually got younger, they gave up Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom, both of whom throw close to 100 mph, for two younger lefthanded pitchers who also have potential. Here's where the scouts earn their money; projecting pitchers is extremely difficult, and can be the difference between winning the World Series and not making the playoffs a few years from now. I think Henry Owens will be a very successful relief pitcher as soon as next season, and Lindstrom is probably going to make the Marlins next year as well. With the trade of Heath Bell and Royce Ring, the Mets have given away a lot of their bullpen depth, and haven't noticeably improved any of their weaknesses.

I would have preferred any of the available secondbasemen--Ron Belliard, Mark Loretta, or Adam Kennedy--to resigning Jose Valentin, who overachieved last year, and is another year older. Moises Alou is one of those guys (kind of like Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado) that the Mets would have been better off getting a year earlier. He missed a lot of time again last year, and is really just as fragile (and older) as Cliff Floyd. On the other hand, he bats right handed, which is a plus, and when he plays he is usually more productive than Cliff.

Of course, if the Mets sign Barry Zito, and trade for Dontrelle Willis, all of the other moves will fall off the radar completely. It looks like they are willing to trade one of my favorites, Aaron Heilman, and Lastings Milledge (the future Albert Belle?), and should be able to get a pretty good pitcher for that package, preferably Willis. I've seen Dontrelle pitch at Shea Stadium each of the past two years, and he has been the best player on the field in both games. He seems to have been born to pitch for the Mets, and I think he would be one of the best acquisitions they could ever make. Zito would also be a good move, because he is more mature than most pitchers, and he should thrive again under Rick Peterson. The best thing is, they won't have to give up young players to get him, just money, and Citibank is taking care of the money these days. Most likely, they will only get one top pitcher, and they can still lose Tom Glavine to the Braves, if the Braves want him back and he decides to return home to finish his excellent career.

The bottom line is that the Mets should still be the best team in the National League next year, and this time anything less than reaching the World Series will be a disappointment, at least to me.

© 2006 Judy Kamilhor


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