Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fantasy G.M. II "Return of the Mets Fan"
By Ben Valentine

I'm back baby. And I've got a new post for all my fans out there. So Mom, read up. You'll be quizzed on this later.

This time of year, every baseball fan seems to play General Manager. It’s the time to critique the moves, what should and shouldn’t be done… who should be traded for and who should be dumped. Are you in or are you out? Well the New York sports world was inundated with calls for Alfonso Soriano and Manny Ramirez the last few days. Much to my dismay, especially in the Soriano case, I heard Met fan after Met man demand they deal away the farm to get one of these guys. I was sickened; the Mets are a .500 team and after their failures at Coors and Enron Field last week I realized that neither Manny nor Soriano could save the Mets. So I waited… expecting to be as annoyed as I was last year when the Kazmir/Zambrano deal broke.

Then the July 31st deadline passed and nothing happened.

I was a happy camper. The Mets kept their prospects and in the end, made themselves a better team because of it. Yusmerio Petit and Lastings Milledge should do more for the Mets than Danny Baez ever would have.

Meanwhile that night, my fantasy baseball team completely revamped itself as it looked forward towards next year. I felt me and my co-owner, the illustrious Basketball power-poll man Lance Medow, had done well.

So it got me to thinking and talking with Zach and Mr. Medow, what would I do if I were the Mets G.M.? I would have done things differently. Would the Mets have been better… or worse?

So let’s take a look. I’ll provide the facts. You decide.

Like Zach, I’ll set up the parameters and give you my philosophy. First off we say I became G.M. in the off season 2004. Second, the Mets have a large budget, but I would have convinced the Wilpons that this is a four year plan. You don’t turn from a 95 loss team to a 95 win one overnight. It two or three years to truly build back up. Third, I like young players. Vets will be dealt and as you can see I stick with the Mets youth. Oh and I don't let managers overwork pitchers. No 120 pitch counts for my young arms. Fourth, I assume the Mets second half slide in 2004 with the assumption that not even the players I brought in that off season could have completely changed a 95 loss team around. Fifth, I'm wary of hitters that have only had success in known hitter's parks. They tend to fail at Shea.

To start, I would have signed Vladimir Guerrero at the bargain price the Angels got him at. He's such a good hitter I don't care where he hit before. I would NOT have signed Matsui unless he agreed to play second base, because Jose Reyes was my organization’s prized jewel and had a good glove. I’ll assume no Matsui then, so I would have signed Luis Castillo. Mike Cameron is a damn good centerfielder and well worth what the Mets paid him, so I would have signed him. Looper for the pen was fine. I would have had interest in “Easy” Eddie Guardado, but probably would not have paid what the Mariners did. Oh and no Scott Erickson or Tyler Yates in the rotation.

2004 season-

My guess is Vlad and Castillo would have had a pretty nice impact on the team. They would have been around .500 at the deadline, but not good enough to compete. As a result I probably could not have broken the team down completely. But Glavine would have been dealt because I always felt the other shoe was about to drop with him. A “B” prospect would have done it. Cliff Floyd also would have been gone presuming the team slid as it did in 2004. It would have been a waiver deal, but I suspect Cliff would have gotten through. A “C” prospect would have sufficed. Remember Floyd had pissed off management with his “injuries” and contemplation of retirement. Stanton, Weathers would be gone. Dan Wheeler wouldn’t be, because I like young arms. In the end, the record wouldn’t matter to me. The 2004 season was one of rebuilding anyway. .500 is for 2005.

Then comes this off season.

Bobby Valentine is back as Mets manager. He only had one losing season as the Mets skipper. Nuff said.

I’d turn those “B” and “C” prospects I got in the Glavine and Floyd trades into Joel Pineiro and John Patterson. While M’s valued Pineiro more than Zach does, he was coming off injury and is at his lowest point value wise. Before this year Patterson could have been had for a song. Since I like young pitchers with high strikeout totals I would gotten him, hoping the move to Shea would help him. (Zach can attest to my affinity of Patterson with my quickness to pounce on him in our fantasy league) There would be no Pedro and no Carlos Beltran. Basically I wouldn’t feel like spending the money would be wise considering the team wasn’t good the year before. My philosophy is build from within then sign what you need to fill the remaining holes.

But I would have brought in a few free agents. Matt Morris would have been a Met, for about 5-6 million. The Cardinals gave him a 2 million this year. He took a discount because he liked the team but he’s a NY guy (Went to Seton Hall). If the Mets had interest I think the extra 3-4 million would have swayed him.

Wheeler, Looper and Heath Bell would be the main guys out of the pen. I would have brought in Dae Sung Koo and used Royce Ring for lefty relief.

Here’s how the team would look.

The rotation:
Morris, Jae Seo, Scott Kazmir, Aaron Heilman and Pineiro/Patterson

Evaluation: It’s young, it’s unproven. It’s not as good as the current Met rotation at the top but better at the bottom. Morris is good enough to anchor this group at pitcher’s friendly Shea. Seo doesn’t scare people but coming into this season he’d had as many good years as Kris Benson (1). Kazmir is all potential, and judging by what he’s done for the piss poor D-Rays in the AL, it’s not crazy to think he might be able to post a low 4.00 or even high 3.00 E.R.A. I’ll take that from my #3 starter. Heilman should be in the rotation in real life over Kaz Ishii. Patterson has shown he can pitch in the big leagues this year. Pineiro would probably have ended up in the pen. Once Trachsel got back, I’d move my weakest starter back to the bullpen. (Or if by some chance it was Kazmir, to the minors)

The bullpen:

Closer: Looper, 8th Inning- Wheeler, 7th inning Bell, lefty specialist Royce Ring, mop up guys- Koo, Pineiro/Patterson, Jason Scobie.

Evaluation- Looper is still the weak link, but that’s gonna be addressed next year anyway when my team is ready to contend. Pineiro start in long relief. With his stuff I would have given him a look in the closer role if Looper continuously imploded. But of course that’s if he showed anything as a long relief guy. Jason Scobie is having a great year at AAA, so I’d give him a look. Ring deserves a chance. Koo is an extra lefty.

Lineup:

1. Castillo (2b) 2. Reyes (SS) 3. Wright (3b) 4.Guerrero (RF), 5. Piazza (C), 6. Cameron (CF), 7. Victor Diaz (LF) 8. Craig Brazell/Jason Phillips (1B)

Evaluation: Castillo gives the Mets a real leadoff hitter. He’s a real stolen base threat and allows Reyes to see a steady diet of fastballs, which should help his average. Of course nobody will see more fastballs than David Wright, with the speedsters in front of him and Vlad behind him. Piazza shouldn’t be batting five, but I don’t have a better option at this point. Cameron is a fine 6th hitter with his .330-.340 on base. Diaz should be a .270 hitter with moderate power at this point. Brazell would play against righties and Phillips against lefties. That combo stinks, but it should produce more than Doug Mientkiewicz. Besides it’s a stopgap for Justin Huber.

Bench:

Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward, Miguel Cairo, Brazell/Phillips, Vance Wilson
Evaluation: Yeah I got lazy here and just used the same main bench guys as the Mets actually have. I don’t have a problem with any of them honestly, because they are solid bench guys. They shouldn’t start but they won’t be starting on this team. (Outside of the Brazell/Phillips combo).

All in all, I think this Mets team is stronger on offense, weaker in starting pitching and stronger in the pen. They have a better manager. My gut says they play roughly to where they are now. But with two main differences:

They’re a hell of a lot cheaper.

They haven’t hit their peak yet.

So if Pineiro, Seo or Heilman can’t cut it, Yusmerio Petit will be in there at the end of this year or spring training next year. Lastings Milledge won’t be far off if Diaz is only a .250 hitter. (10 points worse than Beltran mind you) And Justin Huber would be playing some first base at AAA right now and maybe even starting for this team at this point depending how he played in the minors. (He should be starting in KC right now) It’s not necessarily better than the 2005 Mets. But I like the future of this team with a 22 year old future ace in Kazmir and a legitimate superstar in Vlad rather than a 33 year old Pedro (as good as he’s been, what next year?) and Carlos “I told you he’d hit .260 at Shea” Beltran. And you know what; I think I would be guaranteed one thing…

At least with Castillo, I wouldn’t have to hear about Alfonso “I hit .230 on the road” Soriano anymore.

What do you think?

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