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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Baseball's Most Obsessive Time of Year

Here we are, the week before the non-waiver trade deadline. Every day there is a new rumor, raising my adrenaline level and making me keep checking the baseball web sites for new information. The Mets and Yankees are always in the middle of everything, as teams that are in the playoff hunt and with lots of cash to throw around for that veteran who will help put them where they want to be, October baseball.

Will the Yankees current hot streak make them more likely to surrender a top prospect for someone that will help them now? Will the Mets injuries cause them to make a move that hurts them in the future? Will the Red Sox make a move simply to prevent the Yankees from improving? Stay tuned....

If I were Omar Minaya, I would look to get rid of some of veterans, as well as adding some. Four guys they should consider trading are Paul Lo Duca, Shawn Green, Scott Schoeneweiss, and Guillermo Mota. Billy Beane is an expert at being both a buyer and seller at the trade deadline, which is one reason the team never aged rapidly and needed to completely rebuild. The Mets should follow this path, to get some prospects or young major leaguers back for the guys they should replace or already have replacements for.

I would like to see Ramon Castro become the number one catcher, with Sandy Alomar, Jr. backing him up. I think Castro contributes more than Lo Duca, especially when you take into consideration their different temperaments. Castro keeps everyone light and loose, while Lo Duca is temperamental and negative a lot of the time, like right now.

Shawn Green is a player I have always liked, and his offense isn't hurting the team, but his lack of range in RF is killing the Mets time and again. In last year's loss to the Cardinals, it was Green's lack of range that led to two huge hits, and may have cost the Mets the series. There are teams that could use Green as an offensive upgrade, and maybe he could be a DH somewhere. He's a better hitter than Johnny Damon these days, for example. Jermaine Dye would be an upgrade defensively, and will probably hit for more power the rest of the season.

The bullpen could really use an upgrade, and since the Mets are not sure what Pedro Martinez will contribute, they can't be sure they will be able to move Jorge Sosa into the bullpen to replace Aaron Sele, or one of the two guys I mentioned earlier. If they trade for a starter now, it will improve both the rotation and the bullpen, and make Pedro's return less essential. The problem with trading for a starter is that none of the names I've seen are really better than Sosa. The guy I've wanted for a while is Dontrelle Willis, but I would not want to give up too much for him, since it looks like he may have an alcohol problem. When the Marlins send a pitcher to rehab, it is just as likely to be for substance abuse as an injury. I would be willing to trade Mike Pelfrey for a considerably better than average starter or reliever, if there is one to be had. To me, Pelfrey lacks the killer instinct that is required to become a consistent winner in the major leagues. He also looks like Charlie McCarthy with that teeth grinding contraption he was wearing the last time he was called up. If you are too young to get the reference, Google it.

It's not a coincidence that the Mets have been playing better with Lastings Milledge and Ruben Gotay playing most of the time. They are both high energy guys that hit the ball hard and seem to enjoy coming up in pressure situations. The Mets are probably fortunate that Jose Valentin got hurt when he did, because he wasn't contributing enough since he came back from the knee problem. I don't think they need a new second baseman, but if they could get someone like Grudzielanek without giving up a real prospect, it would probably make sense. At this point, they can't even think about trading Milledge, because Moises Alou is so unreliable. He really is more injury prone than Cliff Floyd, which is hard to believe.

As for the Yankees, I agree with Brian Cashman that trading one of his top pitching prospects is a mistake. They should be looking to dump some of their overpaid, underperforming guys, not add more expensive contracts for marginal upgrades. Trading Johnny Damon and/or Bobby Abreu would be priorities, along with Kyle Farnsworth. I was right about it being a mistake to resign Mike Mussina, especially for two years. He is probably untradeable, but they should investigate anyway. The Yankees need to get younger and more athletic, rather than older and more expensive. Carl Crawford would be the kind of guy they should be going after. Their bad pitchers are better than Tampa Bay's "good" pitchers, so maybe there's a fit there somewhere.

Yes, the Yankees look pretty good right now. And when Phil Hughes comes back, it should help a lot. I don't think they have a chance to pass Boston, because Boston is still a better team, and I can't see the Yankees playing that much better than Boston the rest of the way to make up the deficit. The Wild Card is more realistic, and could be had if Cleveland struggles and none of the other teams gets hot. My recommendation for the Yankees all along has been to get some hungry young guys who are ready to prove themselves on the biggest stage, and get rid of the old guys that are deteriorating before our eyes. Rather than a salary dump, I think this would result in a better chance to make the playoffs.

Caroms off the wall

Congratulations to Jon Lester on his excellent comeback performance. I hope the Sox don't trade him.

If Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract, the Texas Rangers will dance for joy, and the Yankees will be screwed. I dislike agent Scott Boras, but you have to give him credit for A-Rod's ingenious contract. And of course, A-Rod discovered the key to success in New York, which is something many people didn't expect him to ever do.

I have a feeling that Buddy Carlyle is about to become a household name. Like Al Downing.

© Judy Kamilhor 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Midseason's Night Dream

Halfway through the 2007 baseball season, and the Mets and Yankees are having strange seasons. The Yankees are one of the streakiest teams of modern times, with a 9 game winning streak closely followed by a 2-9 streak. Now they are on a mini hot streak, playing very well for the past two games, and looking like the Yankees of old. Don't get used to it. The only real question for this team is who to get rid of, rather than who to add. If I were Brian Cashman, I would take this opportunity to trade some overpaid, over the hill players like Damon, Mussina, Abreu, and Matsui for as many prospects and young major leaguers as possible. Joel Sherman suggested trading A-Rod, with the idea of resigning him next year, and that is not a bad idea, too. Each of these veterans might be attractive to a contending team looking for one more experienced hitter, and the Yankees need to get younger and more energetic sooner rather than later. These moves would actually make it more likely that the Yankees would make the playoffs this year, counter to the usual thinking. Last year's Phillies made a great playoff push after trading Abreu to the Yankees, and this happens because it takes some pressure off the guys that remain, and it injects new life into a tired clubhouse.

As for the Mets, they might be in for a tough stretch, with two sudden injuries to starting pitchers Jorge Sosa and Oliver Perez. I have to question the choices for replacements that the Mets have made. I would have called up Brian Lawrence and Dave Williams for recent starts made by Mike (I'm not ready) Pelfrey and Jason (I need a year at AAA) Vargas. This is the time for veterans to fill in, not young guys who have very limited major league success. Both Lawrence and Williams have been much more effective in their time at New Orleans recovering from their injuries. It's not too late to make a switch, though, as they can still send Pelfrey and Vargas down before they get another chance to decrease the Mets' lead in the division.

I would also recall minor-league veteran Andy Tracy, a right-handed hitting first baseman, to replace Julio Franco. Tracy is having a great year at New Orleans, and this might be his last chance to contribute to the major league team since he is in his early thirties. Every time Julio Franco starts at 1B, I want to cringe, not because he can't field the position, but because he can't hit nearly well enough to play there. And, when he starts, he can't do the one thing he can do adequately, namely pinch-hit.

To give credit where credit is due, Willie Randolph finally left a reliever in to pitch the 9th inning. A few days ago, he let Pedro Feliciano finish the game and get his first save of the year, instead of bringing in Billy Wagner with a four run lead, like he usually does. Feliciano has been the team's most effective and reliable reliever for two years, and Randolph is usually much too quick to take him out. Thank you, Willie!

Paul Lo Duca is a decent player, and brings some needed fire to the Mets, but he is also incredibly immature. I saw a recent interview, and he sounded like a whining seven year old who wasn't getting his way. Now that he has promised to stop talking to the media, maybe some of the team's more mature and controlled players will have to step up and speak once in a while. Maybe the reporters will have to be more creative when collecting post-game quotes, and go to some new voices. It can only help the team. Next year, it would be nice to see Ramon Castro as the number one catcher, or at least splitting the job with someone new.

At first, I was against the Mets trading for a starter like Mark Buehrle, but now I think they need to upgrade. In addition to the two injured guys (and three if you include their best starter, Pedro Martinez), they have an injury-prone Orlando Hernandez, showing signs of fatigue or injury recently), and a less-reliable Tom Glavine. John Maine has become the ace, but they need more reliable pitchers in their prime. I would be willing to trade Pelfrey and a mid-level position prospect for Buehrle, on the condition that the Mets sign him to an extension. I don't think Pelfrey will ever develop into a dominant starter, because he doesn't seem to have that killer instinct that guys like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Josh Beckett have.

Caroms Off the Wall

The Red Sox should trade for Omar Vizquel to replace the fatigued/burnt-out Julio Lugo at SS. Since the Red Sox traded Nomar Garciaparra, the position has been cursed, except for the sorely-missed Orlando Cabrera. Omar Vizquel would look awfully good for the Sox in the playoffs, making every play, and contributing a big hit or two along the way.

© Judy Kamilhor 2007