Red Sox Add Victor Martinez

July 31, 2009

It has been reported that Victor Martinez is heading to Boston in exchange for RHP Justin Masterson and LHP Nick Hagadone, the Red Sox first round pick in 2007.

Masterson is a nice COMPLEMENTARY pitcher, not an ace. His mechanics also leave him very injury prone and he is a shoulder blowout waiting to happen. And based upon Hagadone’s numbers thus far, he can not consistently throw the ball over the plate. 

Without giving up either Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard for Martinez, this trade is a steal for Theo Epstein and the Red Sox organization.

Another big deal for the master.

The GM of the Indians, Mark Shapiro, was fleeced the other day in the Cliff Lee deal, and now has received much less for Martinez.

Shapiro did not get any of the top prospects from either the Phillies or Red Sox for either Lee or Martinez, his two best players. 

I hear he is now going to trade Grady Sizemore for three 2007 draft picks who are still in Low A ball.

This game of baseball is about winning, and the future is now for most teams, especially those in the AL Central, which seems to have a different winner every year.  

If Shapiro held out and received several major league ready prospects, the Indians could have competed by 2011.

Now they are out of it until after Shapiro is long gone.

Detroit Tigers Make a Bold Move

July 31, 2009

Quite possibly beating the New York Yankees to the punch today, the Detroit Tigers made a bold move in acquiring LHP Jarrod Wahburn for the Seattle Mariners for LHP’s Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

Although French has bounced back and forth between AAA and the majors this season, neither of those two pitchers have been particularly impressive in their pro careers. But I guess the Mariners had to fill their coffers a bit after making the Erik Bedard trade a season ago.

Washburn is a free agent after this season, and he could be only a two-month rental for the Tigers.

That shows they are going for it this season. Washburn is a good complementary pitcher to the hard throwers the Tigers have in Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Armando Galarraga. Rick Porcello will likely be given a breather, by allowing him to only now start (maybe) once a week. 

That is a pretty good rotation now to compete with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. I am record saying the Twins, with a combined 24 games still left with Kansas City and Cleveland, will win the AL Central division.

This deal might have tipped the balance.

Amazing how if the Yankees were involved (and reports are that Washburn WANTED to be a Yankee), it would have taken more than two simpleton LHP’s to get Washburn.

It would of had to include either AAA OF Austin Jackson or High A catcher Austin Romine and probably a top young pitcher.

The Yankees coveted Washburn over the last few weeks, and despite their starting rotation being very good since the All-Star  break, the wanted Washburn for the last two months–possibly to ease the innings on Joba or a backup for Andy Pettitte.

They can always sign the free agent Washburn during the winter, but might have to face him in the playoffs this year. 

Just proves that the Yankees need to continue to produce their own talent through the system and then buy a pitcher the following off-season if they really have to have a guy.

Omar Minaya is an Unbelievably Bad GM – and a Worse Person

July 27, 2009

As I mentioned in an earlier post to my web blog, VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard was fired earlier today.

But the real fireworks started when GM Omar Minaya called out NY Daily News Met beat reporter Adam Rubin for trying in the past to get a player development job with the Mets. While Omar did not actually say that Rubin was trying to get Bernazard fired so he (Rubin) can get Bernazard’s job, it is what Minaya insinuated.  

The insinuation and perception of all that followed is worse than taking on the roles like a man which his GM job entails. For Minaya to blatantly call out the reporter who broke the story is completely selfish and defensive.

If Omar wanted to take Rubin to task, how about doing it to his face, alone, behind closed doors? Much later after the debacle of a press conference, Minaya essentially said he made a mistake by outing Rubin.

Minaya has made mistake after mistake with this organization in regards how he was going to build a winner, and it appears that since Minaya took over in 2005, that no one he has brought on has survived.

Without a World Series title, or even a World Series appearance, how can Minaya now survive? And when he is eventaully realived of his Met duties, how can it be possible for him to get another top job in baseball?

Ownership has to clean house, and clean house immediately, so as not to allow an incompetent GM like Minaya handle any other aspects of this organization.

Minaya’s plan to build this Mets team through free agent signings and trades of prospects for established veterans has backfired, and really cost the Mets not only this season, but possibly for years to come.

As a matter of full disclosure, Rubin had broken the various stories which ended up bringing down Bernazard, and also wrote a hit piece on Minaya earlier this month.

I met Adam Rubin at last December’s Winter Meetings, and he was a quiet kind of guy,even somewhat aloof. Said the occasional hello early on, but when I tried speaking with him more in detail about his thoughts on various Met topics, he pulled away and avoided “the new guy.”

Other Met guys like David Lennon were more receptive, and all the Met writers do an exemplary job.

Anyway, I wrote a piece about Minaya back in March of 2008, about why I thought he was the worst GM in baseball.

It all started when Minaya was given the GM job of the Montreal Expos in 2002 because MLB desired to have a Latino GM. As the Assistant GM of the New York Mets under Steve Phillips, Omar had interviewed for several GM jobs, but always was passed over and rejected.

Why couldn’t Minaya make it to the top like other minority GM’s like Los Angeles Angels GM Tony Reagins? Based upon his latest couple of press conferences this past week, Minaya obviously can’t get his point across very clearly. He is not a well-spoken man. 

And he didn’t want to wait any longer for a GM job.

When he did get the job, Minaya wanted to impress by making big splashy deals to get noticed by the other MLB owners. And the owners, since they owned the Expos, made sure to take notice–especially the Wilpon’s. The trade for Bartolo Colon in exchange for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips and Cliff Lee might be the worst trade of all time, and all so Minaya can build a resume.

Minaya’s supporters always say that the Expos were ripe for contraction, but a citizen’s group in Minnesota (the other team with contraction talk) had filed court motions in 2002 for which a judge stopped all the contraction talk.

Both the Expos and Twins were never going to be eliminated. Yet, Omar still traded away tons of talent. I still believe that the Washington Nationals still have not recovered from all of Omar’s moves.

And after Jim Duquette was fired as Mets GM, the Wilpon’s brought back their hero for the job he sorely wanted. And Minaya built a team in his own image, that of mostly high-priced Latin ballplayers.

What is so hard about spending someone else’s money on free agents, or making one big trade with a rookie GM who just had to trade Johan Santana? As the Yankees and Red Sox were vying so the other team didn’t get Santana, the Mets were the only team really in the Santana sweepstakes.

Minaya’s drafts his entire career has been terrible. In 2002, his first ever draft as Montreal GM, Minaya passed over Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder, Zach Grienke, James Loney, Jeremy Guthrie, Nick Swisher, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Cain, Joe Blanton and Scott Kazmir in order to take Clint Everts 5th overall.

Yesterday, Everts recorded his second save for AA Harrisburg, the highest level he has reached thus far.

It is very ironic that one guy Minaya passed up in that draft, Kazmir – and the subsequent trade for Victor Zambrano, was the reason his predecessor (Jim Duquette) with the Mets was fired. So while passing up on much better talent in that draft, Minaya eventually got the job he always wanted.

Minaya did get a GM job initially, but it was not the job he wanted. After he was given (not interviewed, but given) the GM job of the Expos, the Queens native set his sights on the New York Mets job in the worst way. A job he repeatedly lobbied, among other GM jobs he prior lobbied for.

Based upon what Minaya said about NY Daily News reporter Adam Rubin, what makes Minaya so different from Rubin possibly lobbying for another job?  

Remember that the real reason for today’s press conference was to announce the firing of Tony Bernazard because Rubin investigated a story.

Again, what makes Minaya different than Rubin?

Adam Rubin does his job very well. Just ask Tony Bernazard.

New York Mets fire Tony Bernazard

July 27, 2009

There is a pre-game press conference scheduled before tonight’s game vs. the Colorado Rockies. It is at that press conference that it will be announced that Tony Bernazard, the Mets VP of Player Development and VP of Vulgar Behavior, has been fired.

Bernazard will be fired because of his threatening and castigating young players from the Mets Double A team in Binghampton over two weeks ago.

I wonder who actually is authorizing the firing? Is it solely GM Omar Minaya’s call? If so, it would then appear he has his baseball authority back within the Mets organization.

Did the owner’s son, Jeff Wilpon, who supposedly had a good relationship with Bernazard, get passed over on this decision? If he did, then Omar surely will continue to be GM past this 2009 season, as it would appear he has the backing of daddy Wilpon, Jeff’s dad Fred.

Thoughts on Roy Halladay – Forget the Phillies, Angels Need Him More

July 27, 2009

He is the best pitcher in baseball with tremendous mechanics and the ability to throw strikes. Both of those factors allow him to go deep into games, and he is one of the few pitchers who throws complete games. He has four complete games this season, had nine last year and has led the league in that category four of the last six seasons.

It was reported by Jon Heyman of that the Blue Jays want both P Kyle Drabek and J.A. Happ, plus either stud minor league OF Dominic Brown (High A Clearwater) or Michael Taylor at AAA Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies would be crazy to give up those players. Happ is fully cemented in the rotation and has gone 7-1, 2.97 ERA this year and has been a consistent winner with solid ERA’s every season in his pro career. Drabek is a high ceiling pitcher, currently 6-1, 3.12 ERA in Double A Reading. He is viewed as a future #1 starter.

Both Brown and Taylor also have high ceilings and in the cozy Citizen’s Bank Park will hit home runs by the bunches. While not considered the better of the two, Taylor has hit .326 with 17 homers and 70 RBI’s this season in Reading and Lehigh Valley. Brown has held his own in the pitching friendly High A Florida State League.

The Phillies are defending World Series Champions and won that World Series without Roy Halladay. Their team is basically the same as last year except for adding Raul Ibanez and the emergence of Happ. Brett Myers is expected back in August to give the bullpen a needed lift.

I am surprised the Phillies are considering trading Drabek and/or Happ for Halladay. Granted that Halladay improves any team out there, but the Phillies have made their current team through home grown talent. Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Brett Myers have all come through their system.

With the two young pitchers, the Phils have the makings of a really good rotation for much more than the 1 plus seasons that Halladay will give them. Also, if the Phillies obtain him, with Doc’s disdain for hitting, he will likely depart to another American League team after next season.

I have no problem trading good prospects for top talent, but I have major issues with trading projected future studs such as Drabek, Happ, Taylor and Brown.

But Heyman also said that the Los Angeles Angels have checked in with Blue Jays for Halladay. The Angels NEED Halladay more than the Phillies do and they also have the players Toronto wants. They have quality major league pitching and solid shortstop propects. The Blue Jays SS this season is Marco Scutaro, who is 33, having a career year and is a free agent after this season.

According to Heyman, the Blue Jays asked for 28 year old LHP Joe Saunders, 21 year old RHP Sean O’Sullivan, SS Erick Aybar and SS/3B Brandon Wood. Saunders and O’Sullivan are currently in the Angels rotation, Aybar is the starting SS and the 24 year old Wood is a promising power hitter.

If that Blue Jays request is real, I make that trade in a heartbeat if I am the Angels GM Tony Reagins.

Getting Halladay without having to give up your best pitcher Jered Weaver is the reason to make the deal. The Angels would then have Halladay, Weaver and John Lackey as a top three–very formidable.

Saunders is serviceable, but doesn’t scare many teams, while O’Sullivan is having a pretty good major league debut. In five starts, he is 3-0 wihth a 3.72 ERA, and despite great success at the lowel levels of the minors, he struggled the last two seasons at the higher levels of the minors.

Aybar is a slick fielder and Wood can definitely hit at the major league level, but both aren’t make or break players.

Getting Halladay is a steal for the Angels based upon those players mentioned, while the Phillies would be better off holding on to thier young talent.

If they don’t cave in for Halladay, in two years the Phillies starting staff will include Drabek, Hamels and Happ along with another former first round pick, Joe Savery, currently 12-3, with a 4.36 ERA in AA Reading. All drafted and developed pitchers, the way the Phillies have  done it before, all the way to a World Series title last season.

And Utley, Rollins and Howard (if re-signed) will still be their later prime years, still good enough to win another World Series.

I have repeatedly said the Angels would end up getting Halladay, because he likes the American League and the Halos need him most. I they do get Halladay, the other AL Playoff teams would face a formidable rotation, and a tough out in a seven game series.

The Angels need to make that trade immediately.

Johnny Damon’s been good in 2009, but should he be a Yankee in 2010?

July 25, 2009

For a few weeks early in the season, Johnny Damon was the entire Yankee offense. At various times this season A-Rod was not yet back from hip surgery, Mark Teixeira was struggling in April, Xavier Nady was out (for the entire season now) and even Robinson Cano, who started so brilliantly with the bat, had begun to struggle, especially with runners in scoring position.

But there was Damon, he of the walk off homers and other game winning blasts. (The Baltimore pitcher that day< Jim Johnson, also allowed the recent GW HR by Hideki Matsui). Damon sported a decent April with .295/.385/.500/.885 OPS with 4 homers and 10 ribbies, and in May he really hit well, hitting .304/.355/.565/.920 OPS with 10 doubles, six home runs, 25 runs scored and 21 RBI’s, the most important stat on offense, including the two game winning HR’s.

But in July, Damon has only put up a .226/.342/.355/.697 OPS with two homers and eight RBI’s, three of which came in last night’s victory over Oakland. Defensively, he continues to be a nightmare, never looking sure even on the easiest of catches and still possessing that Little League throwing arm.

Damon’s 4 year/$52 million contract he signed before the 2005 season expires at the end of this year, and Damon seemingly has the ability to be an offensive force at the age of 36. 

Despite his great start and production 2009 season, the Yankees should not sign the lefty hitting outfielder on a multi-year contract in the off season.

Many Yankee fans will disagree, and maybe even Yankees GM Brian Cashman will disagree, too. Both the fans and Cashman will think that the Yankees need Damon’s offense and he could be a viable player for several more years.

Maybe he will, but the Yankees don’t need him.

Even though Damon says he wants to stay in New York and play for the Yankees, he also has the desire to go for 3,000 career hits( he currently has 2,365). That means he needs to play four more seasons after 2009 and based upon a nice ending to 2009, Damon would for a three-year deal in the off season.

That is too much time for the Yankees, who need to continue to get younger as a team, not older. Without PED’s in teh game today, getting younger and more versatile is the trend in baseball.

Think Kevin Youkilis and Ben Zobrist, not Johnny Damon.  

The Yankees will likely be relieved of Hideki Matsui’s contract (unless, of course, he has a big season, too and then the fans will want him back next year) and Xavier Nady, who has been nothing during his time with the Yankees.

Have I mentioned before how I hated that Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady trade with the Pirates?

They can therefore certainly afford Damon, but with youngsters Austin Jackson coming ready soon, and Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner becoming important parts for the Yankee team, is Damon (and a multi-year contract) what this team needs? The younger guys style of play is good for the team, so why bring back an aging player?

Where will the Yankees play him next year? Despite being only 22 and needing more seasoning at AAA, Jackson could be ready, Swisher is an New York media darling, while  Gardner and Cabrera play great roles on this team and show they belong.

Damon won’t play in left field as his defense is brutal and his arm is terrible. He looks timid out in the field, and just can not go back on this ball any more. Jackson, Cabrera, or a free agent signing (or trade) will patrol left field in 2010, especially if Matt Holliday impresses down the stretch for St. Louis.

Don’t get me started on that free agent disaster waiting to happen.

Damon also can’t exclusively DH, because where will Jorge Posada play most of his games next year? Posada is slowing down behind the plate (he is lazy and can’t block pitches anymore) but will catch some in 2009, 2010 and 2011, as he is signed through those years. With the emergence of Francisco Cervelli, however, and a plethora of catchers in the system (namely Jesus Montero and Austin Romine), Posada’s days behind the plate are numbered.

As I mentioned previously, Montero is the next big bat for the Yankees.

The Yankees are all tied up with long term deals with Teixeira and A-Rod and don’t need another aging, one dimensional player in Damon for the next several years. If Johnny wants to play towards getting 3,000 hits on one year deals for the next couple of seasons, that will be beneficial to both sides.

Seriously, with limited defense what National League team will take him? And where in the AL could he play?

Interestingly, Damon’s best bet for 3,000 hits might be as a Yankee hitting in front of Tex and A-Rod on a series of one year deals. Keeps him hungry and motivated. It is a much better scenario than going to play out his career in an unappetizing setting somewhere else.

Cashman needs to play hardball with Johnny Damon this off season, and let the broken bats fall where they may.

Losing Chien-Ming Wang Not That Great a Yankee Loss

July 24, 2009

Recent news came out that New York Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was shut down again after experiencing shoulder pain while throwing off of flat ground*. Reports have Wang possibly out for the season.

*Can someone please explain how throwing off flat ground helps a pitcher? In games, pitchers throw off 10 inch high mounds, not flat ground. So when I see that a pitcher is rehabbing by throwing off of flat ground, it makes no sense. If your shoulder or elbow doesn’t hurt off flat ground but hurts when you get on the mound, does it make you feel better?

Losing Wang for the balance of the 2009 season really isn’t a big deal for the Yankees. It’s not like Wang was pitching well when he was healthy. What good are “giving a team innings and a veteran presence” when those innings and that presence aren’t very good?

Why isn’t it a big deal? Because Wang was never in the Yankees long term pitching plans.

Despite back to back 19 win seasons in 2006 and 2007, the Yankees did not offer Wang a long term deal. They only renewed Wang for $489,500 for 2007 and went to arbitration in 2008, where Wang lost.

Instead of signing Wang to a multi-year deal, the Yankees fought Wang in the arbitration process, even gloating after their “win” in court. Wang received $4 million that year and avoided arbitration in 2009, signing for $5 million.

Although he still was completely under Yankee control for the next several years, and before Wang was hurt last year in Houston, he had the highest winning percentage of any  pitcher in Major league history with at least 50 career wins. His record entering 2009 was 54-20, for a .730 winning percentage.

If most other clubs had Wang and that record, they would have signed Wang to an extension which carried him through his arbitration years and the first couple years of his free agency. Why then did the Yankees not want to secure Wang’s services through his first couple years of free agency?

The Yankees felt Wang was not as good as his record indicated. The Yankees were waiting and wanting Wang to regain his prior form this season, then trade Wang mid-season to a contender for prospects.

Sinkerball pitchers almost NEVER have long, successful careers. The problem with sinkerball guys is that when their pitches stop sinking, the get hit hard–like Wang has this season. They usually do not have any other pitches to fall back on. When Wang was ultra-successful a few seasons ago, he was mixing in his 95 MPH four-seam fastball, and locating his slider better.

The idea for the Yankees was to promote their younger pitchers in 2009, but to wean them into the rotation. They didn’t want to thrust Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy into the fire as quickly as they did last season. Brian Cashman knew of the innings limitation on the young guns and the team needed to have more than five starters this season.

It is a similar concept which Minnesota did last year, using Livan Hernandez to give them depth early on until they could bring up Francisco Liriano mid-season.

With Wang gone by mid-season, both Hughes and Kennedy would be in the rotation with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte paving the way. Another choice for innings from the rotation was Alfredo Aceves, a nice versatile option.

Envision all four younger guys combining for the last two rotation spots.

After Joba’s innings would be eaten up by August, he would then go to the bullpen. I know the New York papers on Friday had the Joba innings limit thing, but we were on it back in April.

And the Yankees have some really good arms coming up through the system, too. I love Zach McAllister, and despite the Yankees putting him on the minor league DL, he will be in the Bronx by the 2011 season–if not sooner. He is a strike throwing machine. I always love to push young pitchers.

The one thing that hurt the Yankees grand plans were the injuries. Nobody saw Kennedy’s aneurysm or Wang’s shoulder issues. Another thing was Hughes’ dominance in the pen. His pen success only goes to show that it is much easier to be a reliever than a starter, making starters much more valuable. It also shows that patience is needed with young starting pitchers such as Joba, Hughes and Kennedy.

Since Wang is now hurting again, don’t expect the Yankees to tender him a contract for 2010. He wasn’t in their plans for the second half of 2009 and shouldn’t be in their plans for 2010.