Wednesday, July 26, 2006

24+ 1 Revisited: A-Rod to the Mets
By Ben Valentine

With David already getting the ball rolling with the A-Rod trade ideas, I thought I’d continue it. After all, as A-Rod’s biggest defender at Sportszilla, it’s only natural I’d like him on my team, right?

Of course, but with a caveat; it has to be in a deal which is actually beneficial to the Mets this year and going forward. Because I, much like the Mets themselves, would not make a trade with my team doing this well unless I was certain it would improve their chances of taking it all in October. So that limits it some here, but that doesn’t mean a deal is impossible. Following the same format as David used, it’s time to head to the negotiating table.

The Mets assets: The most appealing asset for any team looking at the Mets would be the left side of that infield. David Wright is the player most teams would want first because he probably has the greatest marketability; like it or not, a clean cut white guy sells not only in New York, but across the country. Jose Reyes might be the more valuable of the two, just because he has the potential to give you a 20 home run, 20 triple, 60 stolen base guy complete with solid defense at shortstop. We’re talking about a guy who could end up being the best player at his position one day. They also have a resurgent Carlos Beltran, who is the second most valuable player in baseball this year behind Albert Pujols. The Mets also have free agent to be Cliff Floyd, big bopper Carlos Delgado, and hot prospect Lastings Milledge down on the farm.

The rotation features Pedro Martinez, who is still one of the best pitchers in the game. Tom Glavine is a solid 2/3 starter at this point, veteran El Duque who looks to have something left in the tank, with rookie Mike Pelfrey brining up the rear in terms of tradable starters. The Mets of course have the trio of Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner in the pen. The Mets farm isn’t particularly deep, with the lone pitcher outside of Pelfrey being 2004 first rounder Phillip Humber, rehabbing now from Tommy John surgery.

What the Yankees would want: Mr. Wright. He’d be an instant sell to the fan base. Of course, the Mets would laugh and demand Phillip Hughes back in addition to A-Rod. At 23, and making absolutely nothing money wise, the Mets have no reason to deal Wright, especially with Reyes at short. Reyes is in a similar vein, though the Yankees would have less use for Reyes since Jeter occupies shortstop. Somehow if A-Rod couldn’t move the Captain, I doubt young Reyes would.

It would seem as though best player to start with would be Carlos Beltran. He provides the Mets with a swappable salary. But why exactly would the Mets move Beltran, when he plays an even harder position to fill, and plays it well. They’d have to move A-Rod to second anyway, and if the Mets want to throw a ton of money at a second baseman who might not play the position well, they can do that with Alfonso Soriano this winter. Remember, for the Mets to make this move, it would have to make them loads better now, or slightly better now and better down the road.

Cliff Floyd and Carlos Delgado would be the actual places to start. Floyd would become the Yankees best defensive outfielder and with the short porch at Yankee Stadium, be an asset there. Delgado is the same story, with the short porch being very appealing to a dead pull hitter like he. The Yankees would also need a pitcher. Loving the old, proven vet, the Yankees take back Orlando Hernandez and Tom Glavine. This allows the Yankees to fill out their rotation with five proven starters.

So the Yankees lineup would look like this:

Damon CF
Jeter SS
Giambi 1B
Delgado DH
Posada C
Floyd LF
Cano 3B
Williams/ Cabrera RF
Cairo 2B

Rotation:

Mussina/ Johnson/ Glavine/ El Duque/ Wang

The Yankees lose A-Rod’s production but gain a guy who at Yankee Stadium can give you something close to it in Delgado. Floyd is a solid rent a player who could be resigned if the team lets Gary Sheffield go. The lineup is definitely lefty heavy, but it's so good that shouldn't matter. Rotation wise, they gamble that Glavine and Hernandez are still able to get guys out in the AL, but they get pitching help without giving up Phillip Hughes.

Meanwhile the Mets turn around and spin Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge into Barry Zito, which at this point, seeing as Zito has signed with agent Scott Boras, is about all the A’s can hope to get for the lefty. The Mets also go to the Mariners and send them either Heath Bell or John Maine along with AAA propsect Evan Maclane for Gil Meche, which is probably more than the M’s are going to get back for a free agent to be who’s had one nice half season in his entire career. So now, the lineup would look like this:

Reyes SS
LoDuca C
Beltran CF
A-Rod 1B/3B
Wright 3B/1B
Nady RF
Valentin 2B
Chavez LF

Rotation:

Martinez/ Zito/ Meche/ Pelfrey/ Steve Trachsel

The Mets weaken themselves in a few spots but get the best player in the deal. A-Rod, with something to prove returns to his 2005 ways. That gives the Mets the best 3-4-5 in the majors and with Reyes at the top, the line up is just one giant run scoring machine. The rotation is arguably stronger, as Zito is an upgrade from Glavine and Meche is at least equal to but likely a better pitcher than El Duque. Heilman is tougher to replace, but Heath Bell, Pedro Feliciano and Chad Bradford can pick up the seventh inning slack. Meanwhile the since neither is a star at 3B, the Mets move either Wright or A-Rod to first. Another option is to move Reyes to second, but since he’s an above average defender who’s arm is most valuable at short, this isn’t a likely solution.

Would the Yankees do it?
They’d want Wright, Reyes or Beltran, but we know the Mets won’t do that. Lastings Milledge or Mike Pelfrey aren’t appealing since the Yankees want to win now. They’re getting two players who fill holes, and would deepen their lineup. In an ideal world, Delgado by himself would come close to A-Rod’s production, while Floyd and the pitchers would be icing on the cake. It would be a gamble, but the Yankees wouldn’t have to eat salary on A-Rod’s deal; so they do it.

Would the Mets do it?

In a video game world, yes. The Amazins give up Glavine, but replace him with a better pitcher who they want anyway. Delgado is older and less valuable as a 1st baseman than A-Rod is. Floyd might well be gone after this year regardless. While they lose Milledge, with the Mets huge cash reserves, they can go out and throw 13 million at Alfonso Soriano in the off season, if they feel they need to. Either way, they now have a lineup which should be the best in baseball for the next 4 years at least, given that both Beltran and A-Rod are under 32. Plus, the Mets do all that while keeping Wright, Reyes and Mike Pelfrey. Money wise Zito's huge deal is tempered by Glavine's being off the books while Delgado and Floyd make up for A-Rod's deal. (since Texas is still paying part of it)

In real life, no way in hell this happens because of chemistry issues. No G.M. would turn over half his roster with an 11.5 game lead in the division. The PR fallout would be enormous, and people would say A-Rod’s problems won’t be solved by moving from the Bronx to Flushing. So unless Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman are playing around on a Playstation 2, this isn’t going to happen.

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