Frozen Ropes

Dave Mills

Scott Free
Sometimes things happen because they were meant to. Sometimes things happen because there was nothing else that could happen. There were not many suitors out there who were willing to get together with Scott Hairston on a multi-year deal. The Cubs may have been the only ones. Scott should be quite comfortable in the “friendly confines” and put up some impressive offensive stats. There will also be far less outfield to cover than at expansive Citi Field. Word is he bagged something in the $6 million range for the two campaigns. Makes one wonder why did the BoSox jumped to sign Jonny Gomes at $10 million for two, when they could have had Hairston, who may be a slightly better and much more versatile performer, for several million less. Clearly, Hairston got his multi-year deal and (can we presume?) some guarantee of more playing time than just against southpaws. None of this solves the extended dilemma for the Mets, who are now Scott-free and without a right-handed power option in case they sign a speedy CF/lead-off type (Bourn/Fowler/Young Jr./Crisp).

Circuitous Routes
Th Hairston signing in the Windy City combined with the Justin Upton deal with the Braves makes us even more confident that Alderson & Company are about to land a big fish (Giancarlo Stanton) or one of those CF/lead-off types we just alluded to. The talk is that the Mets are petitioning MLB for a clarifying ruling on the circumstances that dropped them from the non-compensatory 10th pick in the June draft to the compensatory 11th pick. In the unlikely event MLB rules in their favor, the Mets 11th pick in the first round will be protected from being taken as compensation for signing Michael Bourn (or any other FA who had been delivered a qualifying offer by his 2012 team). Even more importantly, the Mets will retain $2.6 million in capital to sign draft picks. Originally, the Mets had the 10th overall pick in the MLB Draft this coming June, which is automatically protected. However, when the Pirates failed to sign their No. 1 draft pick and were put back in Top 10, it pushed the Mets down to the 11th pick, which is not protected. There is no way Sandy gives up the 11th pick and all that dough to sign Bourn for a year or two. However, with no compensation, the Mets are a double winner if they land Bourn: (1) The Bravos get absolutely nothing in the way of compensation; and (2) The Mets fill two holes—CF and lead-off (albeit with 150 strikeouts). This thing has Scott Boras written all over it. He needs to park his client somewhere for a year, so he can put Bourn back out there next year as a FA unencumbered by a compensatory pick. Perhaps something within a million of $11 million for 2013 puts Michael Bourn in CF for the Mets, with nothing given away. If the Mets are to lose the pick and the $2.6 mil for signings, they will have to sign Bourn to a long-term deal or go in another direction (Fowler/Young Jr./Crisp).

Delmon-ation
Philadelphia turned out to be the landing place for Delmon Young, but is this really a boon for the Phils? Another plodding, terrible defensive player who they can’t hide in a corner outfield slot. Young will likely set career power numbers in the bandbox that is Citizen’s Bank Park, but at whose expense? Halliday, Lee, Hamels and all the other arms looking for some defensive support. And where will he hit where the result will not be congestion on the base paths? At least Amaro can claim it didn’t cost much at a $750,000 base. A few years ago the Phils had Palanco gobbling up grounders and everything else that came his way at 3B, Victorino winning a questionable gold glove in CF and a decent keystone combination. Now, it will be 36-year-old Michael Young at 3B, two 34-yearold middle infielders and a 33-year-old first sacker with Ben Revere trying to range all the way to Atlantic City. And don’t forget, their best everyday player will be missing the first month of the season. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be a fly on the cap of Charlie Manuel every time he lumbers to the mound with the bases juiced?

The Arms Have It, Don’t They? Shaun They Do
The middle of the Mets rotation is capable of blowing the lid off the league. Harvey, Niese and Gee are all going to have excellent seasons with 14-16 wins each and ERAs in the low 3′s. You heard it here. The real question marks lie with the 1st and 5th starters. Can the fragile Santana have a decent closing campaign in Flushing and can newly inked FA Shaun Marcum stay healthy enough to outdistance any other option as the 5th starter? Two things are for sure—both Santana and Marcum are far better pitchers on five days rest AND Wally’s Vegas rotation should be quite compelling with Wheeler, Mejia, Gorski, Familia and McHugh. Along with Jeremy Hefner, who will likely be the long man/spot starter out of the pen, the Mets should have plenty of starting pitching depth. In fact, Hefner may get a few more starts than reasonably expected since the Terry and Dan may want to keep the entire rotation in the 185 inning range by scheduling lots of five-day rest periods. That makes a lot more sense than shutting people down a la Strasburg.

The Pen-ultimate
Lets start with the premise that the Mets starters are not likely to go deep into games. Unless he breaks down in the spring, we have to expect Hefner will be that long man who wraps up the seventh slot. They have five lefties (Edgin, Carson, Laffey, Feliciano and Byrdak) from which to fashion two left arms throughout the season. Parnell is a lock with Greg Burke, Elvin Ramirez and Carlos Torres competing for one other right-handed slot (assuming the best place for Familia is in the Vegas rotation). So, what would be wrong with signing Jose Valverde to one of the Delmon-style deals for a year with a bunch of incentives and let Francisco and Valverde handle the closer duties in tandem? Certainly, there will be more innings to close out games than any one arm could be expected to assume.

Good Humor
If you don’t have a sense of humor and a thick skin, there is no way to function as a GM in NY. Yet, each time Sandy Alderson displays his dry sense of humor the agitators come out of the closet. If the observers and commentators don’t appreciate that we are talking about a game and not life and death or the great geopolitical questions of our time, don’t commentate. Here is a guy whose every move (fairly) and non-move (often unfairly) is scrutinized. At the same time, he is intelligent and confident enough to make jokes about his efforts and his team in what is usually a self-deprecating manner. He is always pleasant and respectful to everyone who enters his realm. He appears with Francesca on a regular basis and answers all his questions warmly and thoroughly even though some of the probing is inane. He gets together with bloggers several times annually, for which he should be commended. He clearly has a plan and a strategy, and it is very difficult to be forthcoming and not blow the plan and strategy which he legitimately expects to inure to the benefit of his team, his owners and the fans. And until the end of this season, when the overspending of the previous regime for-the-most-part clears the books, we have to give this guy the benefit of the doubt that he does have a sensible, realistic and applicable plan (which doesn’t have to be divulged) for the Mets to play meaningful games in September and October.

 

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ABOUT:    Kew Gardens born Dave Mills made his first appearance the day after Willie Mays’ circus catch in the 1954 World Series. He made his first appearance at a Mets game  on September 14, 1962, at the Polo Grounds. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo (“Bub”) Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR and Dave was a baseball junky for life. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State.

 

 

 

 

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