Friday, January 09, 2004

Vlad Update & Mets Mini Camp 

According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Orioles are considering making a new offer to Pudge Rodriguez, with the plan being for he and Javy Lopez to both split time between catcher and DH. Such an offer may indicate that the O's will take a pass on Vladimir Guerrero, electing to spend their money on an outfielder from the 2004 free agent class, such as Carlos Beltran or Magglio Ordonez.

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If you didn't already know, the Mets have been conducting their January Mini Camp in St. Lucie, Florida. NYFanSites.com has been reporting from Florida all week with news and photos of the Mets in action. Check out their daily reports from this week if you haven't already.

Monday: Mini Camp Opens
Tuesday: Braden Looper
Wednesday: Peterson Tinkers With Roberts & Wheeler
Thursday: Davidson Puts On A Show
Friday: Lastings Impression

Dream A Little Dream 

According to several sources, the Mets have made an offer to free-agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. Based on reports, the offer appears to be worth $30 million over three years, with incentives based on plate appearances that could bring the value closer to $40 million, or approximately the same $13 million annually that the Baltimore Orioles have offered. There is also speculation that the offer contains vesting options for a fourth and fifth season, similarly based on plate appearances.

If all incentives were met (which probably only requires that Guerrero not spend an inordinate amount of time on the disabled list), the total value of the contract would likely be between $65-$70 million over five years, which is almost identical to the terms of Baltimore's offer.

For all intents and purposes, acquiring Vladimir Guerrero amounts to little more than a pipe dream for the Mets (and me). Be that as it may, a pipe dream still requires that there be at least a modicum of hope that something can happen. The fact that Guerrero has not signed yet and that Spring Training is but a month away means that there is something keeping him from signing with Baltimore.

The player's union is no doubt encouraging (read: demanding) Guerrero's agents to take the largest guaranteed offer, which doesn't bode well for the Mets' chances. Regardless, I am, by nature, a hopeless optimist. An answer was originally expected from Guerrero within the next couple of days, but some think it could drag into next week, if not longer. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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If you missed any of this week's blogs, please check them out.

Monday: A Closer Look
Tuesday: Link-A-Dink
Wednesday: Things Are Not As Vlad As They Seem

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Things Are Not As Vlad As They Seem 

You never know. I almost shat myself when I saw this at ESPN.com last night:

Report: Mets interested in signing Guerrero

The likelihood of the Mets signing Vladimir Guerrero is remote at best. He has an offer on the table from Baltimore for 5 years, $65 million, that has seemingly been out there since he became a free agent. The Dodgers and Marlins are allegedly interested, though my guess is that any deal with Florida would be contingent on a new stadium deal (a la the Mike Lowell deal).

We've known all long that Guerrero desires a new home with a significant Dominican population. Baltimore does not fit that bill. Florida does, but there are contract issues there that I am skeptical about. New York can definitely cash in here, as it sports a large Dominican contingency, as well as a general wealth of spanish-speaking individuals.

Guerrero's fear of the big stage spotlight appears to have been overblown, as his agent has testified to the contrary.

The hangup, as usual, is the money and contract length. Mets GM Jim Duquette has gone on record as saying that his organization has put a three-year cap on free agent contracts. This could actually work to Guerrero's advantage. Lets say the Mets ink him to a three-year deal worth $15-$16 annually, plus a couple of mutual options that could bring it up to five-years, $80 million. Guerrero could then go out there for the next three seasons and continue to tear apart National League pitching (he sports a career 978 OPS). After his three seasons, he'll still only be 30 years old. If the market opens up a bit for him, he will have proven that:

a) he can play in the big city
b) his back is fine
c) he's one of the five best players in baseball

If he wants out of the contract at that point, the Yankees could then sign him for four-or-five years at $16-$18 million per. If he can't get that kind of deal, he can stay with the Mets for another year or two at $16 million, and continue to test the waters after each subsequent season.

Plus, with the Mets he would actually have a chance to compete for something other than third place. Granted, the Mets are not in position to win anything in 2004 (though Guerrero could be enough to push them from a .500 team to a Marlins-esque underdog). However, they stand a very good chance of competing in 2005 and 2006, particularly with Scott Kazmir and David Wright making their way to big Shea.

If you want Vlad, you can now make your voice heard. Head on over to SignVlad.com, where you can sign an online petition or fill out a mail-in petition to send Mets owner Fred Wilpon and beseech him to sign Guerrero.

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Believe it or not, there are two new Mets blogs to check out on the sidebar. The first is East Coast Agony, a two-headed blog monster featuring two long-suffering baseball fans: Red Sox fan Big K and Mets fan Metropolitan Mike.

The second is The Baseball Blog of Oz, which discusses current Mets events, as well as other local professional sports.

Stop by both and say hi.

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SaberMets passed the 10,000 visitor mark yesterday, which is an honor to me and a testament to you, the readers. Given the large number of return visitors, I realize that many of you have eschewed better judgment by continuing to read the nonsensical digressions of an obsessed baseball fan, and for that I thank you.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


I am so horribly lazy. That, compounded with the fact that there isn't a lot of real interesting baseball news going on (unless you consider a Scott Stewart trade interesting, Mrs. Stewart's opinion notwithstanding), has left me with little to write about and even less motivation to do so.

With that in mind, I present to you some recent links regarding the Mets top prospects.

BaseballAmerica.com: Top Ten Prospects: New York Mets

If you didn't already know, BaseballAmerica.com is the top dog in minor league coverage. This particular article whets your appetite with the Mets top stud, Scott Kazmir. You then must subscribe to their online service in order to view the rest of the top ten. You can also Pre-Order their 2004 Prospect Handbook like I did. Even if you don't, I will fill everyone in on the rest of the top ten when my copy arrives in March.

BaseballAmerica.com: Top Ten Prospects: Mets Chat

If you're into reading about Mets prospects and farmhands, look no further. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper sat down for three hours and chatted with one and all about the Mets farm system, prospects, etc. It's a long read, but you're bound to learn something new here.

The Minors First: Top 100 Minor League Prospects

A bit disappointingly, Scott Kazmir is only #14 on the list. Of course, he's only a little over a year out of high school. The Mets have a total of five players in the top 100, including David Wright, Matt Peterson, Justin Huber, and Victor Diaz. Some nice insight on each of the players.

ProspectReport.com: 2003 New York Mets

This list was actually compiled back in April 2003, so you'll see some names that aren't prospects anymore because they're with the big club. There should be a 2004 list up soon, so keep an eye out for that.

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Before I go, I'd like to pass along my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Frank Edwin "Tug" McGraw Jr., who lost his battle with brain cancer today. He pitched for the Mets long before my time, but his words "You Gotta Believe" still ring true today.

I'd also like to give my thoughts and best wishes to my buddy Mike and his family, who put their six-year-old cocker spaniel Hunter to sleep on Sunday. Even though he wouldn't let me give him the Pedigree a few years back when I used to call him HHH, I hope he's at peace now.

Monday, January 05, 2004

A Closer Look 

Ah, the closer. Pretty standard, really. Usually a fireballer, summoned from the bowels of the bullpen to shut down the opposing team's hitters for one inning. Three outs is all he's asked to record. If he does so, and he does so well, he will be richly rewarded with praise, fortune, etc. Should he ever falter in this task, however, he shall rue the day. A fickle bunch, these closers. Untouchable one day, uncomfortable the next. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen, they say.

And so it was, the Mets, having pawned off "beleaguered" closer Armando Benitez last season and spent much of this offseason searching for his replacement, even if he were to be an interim one. You heard the names tossed around: Billy Koch, Ugeth Urbina, Keith Foulke.

Take a look at the following career lines:

            ERA+   K/9    BB/9   HR/9   SV%
Player A    113    5.66   3.56   0.71   69%
Player B    144   11.77   4.84   1.03   85%

Even though Player B is more prone to the gopher ball, he is clearly the better closer. You must be saying to yourself, "Self? It's brutally obvious that Player A is the closer we dumped last year and Player B is the next big thing, our closer of the present, a player I would gladly give a two-year, $6.5 million deal with a team option for a third year at $5 million with a $250k buyout. Why, even somebody with as many textbook-case neurological disorders such as myself can tell that".

I'm sure you've already seen through my thinly-veiled rhetoric to come to the conclusion that Player A is new Met Braden Looper while Player B is Met castoff and new Marlins closer Armando Benitez.

Benitez had clearly worn out his welcome in New York. He will probably do for Florida what he has done for the Mets these past few seasons. Namely, save the majority of his games, strike out a batter-per-inning, and give up a few too many homeruns, particularly in important situations. That, if anything, is what has haunted Benitez throughout his career. Even before he was traded to the Mets (in what was one of the unheralded acts of ingenuity on Steve Phillips part, by netting Benitez and then-speedster Roger Cedeno for Todd Hundley), Benitez had post-season issues with the Orioles.

The two biggest games he blew, for me at least, were Game 6 of the NLCS in 1999 against the Braves and Game 1 of the World Series in 2000 against the Yankees. That's not to say there weren't other memorable heartaches, just that those hurt the most.

The big picture, much to the dismay of Benitez-haters, is that he has actually been one of the best closers in baseball over the past five seasons, and will continue to be one.

Looper is a fresh start, though. He's a former first-round pick of the Cardinals, and the Mets are obviously hoping that pitching coach Rick Peterson can do for him what he's done for Billy Koch and Keith Foulke these past two seasons. Unlike Benitez, Looper doesn't give up a lot of home runs, and actually does a very good job of keeping the ball on the ground.


Looper     1.91
Benitez    0.67

With the Mets now-solid up-the-middle defense, this will be a welcome addition. At the very least, the Mets are not paying too much over too long, and Looper will keep the spot warm for one of the Mets potential future closers.

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