Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust
By Ben Valentine

Normally I wouldn’t post on something one of my fellow blogmates had already commented on, but since the Carlos Delgado trade involved my favorite Met prospect to hype, Yusmeiro Petit, I felt it necessary to.

First lesson here; players I like never end up performing well for the teams I like. Santana Moss was my favorite Hurricane, and I loved it when the Jets drafted him. He has a disappointing 2004, gets shipped off to Washington in a trade I hate, and becomes an All Pro. Alexei Kovalev was perennial disappointment for the Rangers until they traded him in 1997 to Pittsburgh. Then he became an all star. When he ended up back on the Rangers, he never lived up to his hype. Scott Kazmir was going to be the next great Met pitcher. Too bad he ended up in Tampa. The list goes on, and with Petit today, it just got longer.

But I have to take a step back for a moment and take a look at this trade from a purely baseball sense. Whether or not I like Petit, is this a good trade for the Mets? Reluctantly, I have to say yes.

A week or so ago, I said the Mets should hold on to their prospects because this team’s best years are ahead. I still believe that. However, unlike trading for Manny, or Aubrey Huff, Carlos Delgado is a bit more of sure thing offensively. I know it sounds crazy to say that, since Manny is arguably the best right handed hitter of this era. But Delgado played his games last year in a pitcher’s park and jacked 33 hrs with a .301 average and most importantly, a .399 on base percentage.

That on base is key for a couple of reasons. For starters, the Mets don’t have enough guys who work the count. Secondly, it offsets the biggest negative of this trade; Delgado’s age. He’ll be 34 next year, so he’s entering the twilight years of his career. His numbers are going to decline, probably starting this season. The question is will it be a gradual, acceptable drop off, or will he become the next Robbie Alomar? As I said in the comments to my Matsui post, guys who post solid on base percentages tend to age more gracefully than guys who don’t since eyes last longer than bat speed. Delgado has consistently put up on bases around 100 points higher than his average; i.e. comparable in that respect to Brian Giles. Thus, while his 2005 is probably not going to happen with the Mets in 2006, off the top of my head I don’t think .270/.365/.550 is that outlandish a prediction. As one might have guessed, that’s a conservative estimate. Even with his poor defense, that is light years more than what the Mets were getting out of first base last season.

So let’s review. The pros of this trade are the Mets get a player who even if he’s a fraction of his ability will be an upgrade. Secondly, he’s coming from a pitcher’s park, so we don’t expect Shea Stadium to be much of a factor to his numbers, something that is always a plus when it comes to new Met acquisitions. Third, as an on base guy, we can expect him to continue to put up solid numbers at the very least.

The cons? He still is 34. His numbers could steeply decline or he could get hurt. They are giving up a top notch prospect to get him, one who might have helped next season. Some people might also include the whole “how will he react to New York thing.” I don’t buy the New York factor, so I won’t include it. And that’s about it, since the Marlins are apparently also throwing in seven million bucks to cover Delgado’s salary. (What a joke. As I said in my post earlier, baseball should be ashamed with what’s happening to the Marlins).

When you add it up, I just can’t argue with this trade from a baseball sense. As much as I like Petit, and his minor league numbers are sick, he’s a prospect and not a sure thing. (Forget Jacobs; I like him but I don’t think he’s going to be anything more than a serviceable major leaguer) The Mets are getting good value back on him. Will it stink if he goes on to become one of the best pitchers in the league? Yes it will. Of course I did say the same thing about Octavio Dotel.

Interesting story, quickly. The Mets traded Dotel away to the Astros along with Roger Cedeno for Mike Hampton in December 1999. Hampton would help the Mets get to the World Series and then depart for Colorado via free agency. As it turned out, the trade might prove to be one of the greatest ones in Met history. Not because it got them to the World Series, but because when Hampton took that ridiculous contract from Colorado, the Mets received a draft pick from the Rockies. And with that pick the Mets selected…

David Wright.

Octavio Dotel for David Wright. I’d make that trade any day of the week. Sometimes baseball really is a funny game.


Blogger David Arnott said...

The only way this works is if the Mets' new network proves to be the cash cow it should be. The 7 mil is important, but Delgado's reported salaries don't take into account how much he's owed in deferred money; the Marlins paid him something like 3 mil this year. If the Mets truly are at the Red Sox/Yankees level of salary absorption, then I'd be behind it. If I'm a Mets fan, I'm cautiously optimistic because this almost certainly HAS to be the year, and I wonder if there was a more creative way to spend that ton of money.

5:59 PM  

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