Karsten Whitson is this 2010 MLB Draft’s Best Overall Pick

June 8, 2010

I love Karsten Whitson as a pitcher. He was drafted ninth overall yesterday by the San Diego Padres.

It was a great pick by San Diego, who realize while playing in spacious Petco Park, their future will always be in pitching and defense.

Whitson is a superb high school pitcher who has great command of three pitches, including a mid 90’s fastball, nice breaking slider and an above average change-up.

He goes right after hitters and appears to have a good feel for pitching. He reminds me of Zack Greinke, another Florida high school pitcher taken in the first round back in 2002 by the Kansas City Royals.

When he was then GM of the Montreal Expos, current New York Mets GM Omar Minaya passed on Greinke in 2002, taking Clint Everts right before Greinke was selected. Minaya also passed on Whitson yesterday.

Minaya blew it again. A guy supposedly known for his scouting acumen, Omar bypassed the best pitcher available yesterday when he selected the Mets first round pick. Minaya had the No. 7 overall pick, taking college pitcher Matt Harvey instead, who people have claimed could step in the Mets bullpen this season.

Another in the line of “save my job” moves by Minaya.

One knock on Whitson has been his lack of consistent quality competition, but he performed well last season in the Aflac All-American game.

This video shows Whitson striking out the 2010 No. 1 pick, Bryce Harper on three pitches. Harper is the second hitter to face Whitson in the video:


It is only one batter, but a really good hitter, and it shows the command Whitson has over his fastball and off-speed pitches.

In about three years, many teams will look back and say, “How come we did not draft Whitson when we had the opportunity?”

That quote could come from Omar when he is no longer a member of the Mets front office.

New York Mets: It’s About Time The Youngsters Are Getting Their Shot

April 25, 2010

Since becoming the New York Mets General Manager in 2004, Omar Minaya signed free agents Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Billy Wagner, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay.

In addition, Omar signed veterans Elmer Dessens, Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, Cory Sullivan, Mike Lamb, Angel Berroa and other assorted has-been players.

Those in the second group were all signed in an effort to find “lightning in a bottle.” And all of the second group of guys stink as major league players.

Some of those players in the first category (usually multi-year deal guys) stink as well. Why?

Because they did not help the Mets team get to a World Series, let alone win one. Wait, they almost did in 2006, but the veteran free agent Beltran took a called third strike from St. Louis Cardinals rookie-closer (at the time) Adam Wainwright made Beltran look silly.

Carlos also took the first pitch fastball right down the middle for strike one, immediately getting himself in the hole. I wonder if the “work the pitcher” guys out there in the blogosphere would like to have that pitch back.

At that time, Wainwright was a young pitcher with all of 77 major league innings under his belt. Tony LaRussa was not afraid of using his young players.

Omar Minaya and the New York Mets are. Or should I say were.

With the promotion of Ike Davis to play first base, during his first major league game, the Mets had five players (David Wright, Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, Jonathan Niese and Davis) as homegrown Mets starters, plus the final relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia.

A game which  saw the Mets win 6-1.

If you wanted, you could also include Jeff Francoeur as “homegrown” since the Mets traded Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, then spun Church off to get Frenchy from the Atlanta Braves. Francoeur has provided a stabilizing influence in right field, has played great defensively, and despite a recent 0-24 slump, has now shown moderate signs of being more selective at the plate.

He has a big run-scoring double today, a big 3-1 Mets victory.

His biggest contribution is the presence he has brought to a clubhouse desperately in need of a strong personality. Wright and the Latin contigent have not provided that since the Minaya regime began.

Francoeur is still only 26 and was a former first round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves.

Minaya, who is on the hot seat as GM and NEEDS to make the playoffs this year or at least have his team show vast improvement over last season.

And that insurgence has been helped by the play of Met young players promoted from their won system. I have consistently gotten on Minaya for his free agent signings, losing first round draft picks, and still not getting anywhere with other teams forgotten players.

And then Minaya signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract this off season.

Would Minaya have been better served by not thinking of saving his ownshort-term neck by signing Bay, and looking instead to improve the Mets over the long-term? With that I mean letting all the young guys play.

Instead of Niese trying to make the team as a fifth starter, give the job to him. Let him get a full season of major league ball under his belt. Thus far in 2010, Niese, despite walking too many hitters on occasion, has pitched pretty well. Then let young Jenrry Mejia develop in the minors as another homegrown starting pitcher.

With Mike Pelfrey those three could be 60% of a current rotation.

Minaya might have been better served letting the Wilpon’s keep their $66 million they gave Bay and, similar to what good teams do, invest it in signing some of this young talent (Pelfrey, Niese, Davis) in two to three years on a longer term basis.

It’s all about the Mets future, except in Minaya’s mind.

2010 Prediction: Yankees Curtis Granderson Will Have More Power than New York Mets Jason Bay

April 4, 2010

Both New York teams have played their exhibition games and, except for Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran, all seems to healthy on the Mets front. With those guys on the DL, no other players had to see one of the Mets team doctors, and that is good.

History has shown that seeing the Mets doctors is one of the worst places a Mets player can probably be sent.

Both New York teams also have a new starting outfielder, both upgrades over their 2009 counterparts. The Mets signed free agent Jason Bay while the Yankees pulled off an old-fashioned trade as they acquired Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers in a three-team, seven-player swap.

That trade also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks, and appears to be good for all three teams involved.

New York Mets fans demanded something be done about their lack of starting pitching depth, but General Manager Omar Minaya did nothing. Many fans wanted a new first baseman and a power hitting left fielder.

Well they got their wish in left field, but the most important thing, starting pitching, was dismissed out of hand.

Bay was given a four-year deal for $66 million, and is firmly planted in left field. Seeing him in a few games (live and on TV) far this spring, his OF play is shaky. There is the power in Bay’s bat to make up for his below average defense, but his ability to make consistent contact.

However, will there be enough power in Bay’s bat in new CitiField, the Mets home where deep fly balls go to die in outfielder’s gloves? Ask David Wright how bad the new home park plays. Will Bay’s rumored knee problems hamper him during the season in the field or at bat?

Bay had his best year last season, hitting .267/.384/.537/.921 OPS with 36 home runs and 119 RBI’s. Not that it was his best season statistically, as his 2005 and 2006 seasons were more productive, but that this season came in his final, walk year before his first free agency.

That was good for Bay’s bank account, but bad for the Mets overall.

Meanwhile, Granderson was coming off his most dismal season since becoming a full time player. His line of .249/.327/.453/.780 OPS became steadily worse that his last few seasons. His  best year was in 2007 when he hit .302/.361/.552/ a .913 OPS with 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers and 74 RBI’s. He also walked 52 times.

But his OBP and slugging percentage (SLG) declined over the last two seasons, mainly because his average dropped and, while his homers increased to 30, his other extras base hits declined significantly. C-Grand’s SLG of .552 in 2007 was due to his 38 doubles and 23 triples as much as his HR total.

When those other XBH declined to 23 and 8 last year, and his average declined, too, it made his OBP and SLG (and of course OPS) fall to these extreme lows. His OBP fell despite his walk totals increasing from 52 in 2007 to 72 last year.

Just goes to show that high batting averages are still a key to high OBP’s. A walk is NOT as good as a hit unless the team has other hitters in the lineup.

Granderson has worked hard with hitting Coach Kevin Long to improve his overall hitting, more going the other way to improve is recent number against left handed pitchers. It showed with improved batting average (.286) in spring training this year and boosted his OBP to .375, two stats the Yankees will sign on the dotted line for this season.

He also improved against lefties with a .250 BA this spring.

The one negative for Granderson is that he did not hit a home run at all this spring, and his SLG was only .388. That will improve, though, once Granderson gets to the Stadium with the short right field porch. He will not pull as much as the past, but will hit his share of home runs, probably around 20-25, much less than people expect.

They might not be as high as everyone expects, but Granderson’s SLG will be much higher than last year. While his HR’s will be normal, his other XBH will improve to that of his 2007 season.

Granderson’s work with Long will allow him to love the deep left field gap. With his speed, the doubles and triples will skyrocket, raising his slugging percentage to that of 2007, somewhere around .530 to .550.

Jason Bay will also hit share of home runs, but due to the expansive home park, it will not be the 30+ he hit in four of the last five seasons. His double rate will also decline as those balls off the Green Monster will be caught by the left and center fielders in the more spacious ballpark his plays half his games.

Plus, Bay is expected to hit fourth or fifth in the lineup, one that does not scare many pitchers. Don’t be surprised if teams begin to pitch around Bay to get to the freer swinging Jeff Francoeur. Once again, a walk is not as good as a hit, if there are no other good hitters to produce.

Therefore, Bay’s OBP may be a bit higher, but his SLG rate will decline from last season’s .537.

With the type of player each guy is, and with the dimensions of CitiField, wouldn’t Granderson have been a better fit for the Mets as the left fielder? And he could have been the center fielder while Beltran is out. For Minaya, another boat that left the dock without him doing anything or having a plan and he appeared to settle to the whims of the public in regards to what the team needed.

When all is said and done in 2010, Granderson will more important for the Yankees than Bay will be for the Mets.

In fact, with his new hitting approach, C-Grand will have a higher SLG rate this year than Jason Bay.

You can bank on it.

Jose Reyes Needed To Be In The New York Mets Opening Day Lineup

April 3, 2010

The Mets wanted to have a nice easy Spring Training. After coming off three consecutive debacle seasons, they went out and signed Jason Bay, thinking they needed a power hitting left fielder (Ike Davis, maybe? Think out of the box, Omar!).

But then Carlos Beltran went out to Colorado and had his cranky knees operated on, Kelvim Escobar still has a sore pitching shoulder, Daniel Murphy twisted his knee and, most importantly Jose Reyes had a thyroid problem. The thyroid issue cost Jose three weeks of training camp, and he still has not played in a major league spring training game.

Still, Reyes’ thyroid levels stabilized, he is now able to resume athletic activities. Reyes has played a few simulated and minor league games, getting more at bats and even played three inning in the field during one game.

For a major athlete in his physical condition, which is better than mine and more than 99% of the population, he is ready to play. Reyes wants to play.

But the Mets have put Reyes on the Disabled List (DL) because they are being overly cautious. That is understandable after the prior season injury mishaps to Carlos Beltran, many of the pitchers and Reyes with his bad leg last season.

Being overly cautious is similar to a bad free throw shooter in basketball. If the shooter misses the first free throw really short or really long, they always overcompensate too much with the next shot. Being overly cautious with Reyes is bad for the Met fans who need something to improve their spirits.

With Beltran out for at least another month, and now Daniel Murphy out a few weeks, with all the bad karma over the last three seasons, it is important for Reyes to be starting at shortstop on opening day.

The Mets need to give their fans some optimism, and that will not happen with Reyes on the DL. General Manager (LOL!) Omar Minaya is making another mistake.

Even if Reyes plays Opening Day and then rests for a few days, it would mean so much to the Met fans, on this important day to be in the lineup.

In seeing the new left side of the defense, David Wright at third base, Reyes at short and new left fielder Jason Bay all starting opening day would give hope to the Met fans.

That is of course until Oliver Perez pitches a few days later.

Why the New York Mets Jenrry Mejia was always ticketed for the 2010 Bullpen

March 27, 2010

This spring has brought us more stories of the Joba Rules. It has also created more pitchers likely to go under similar rules and talked about in “Is he (pick your guy) best suited as a starter or a reliever?”

Most relievers are failed starting pitchers. The New York Yankees closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera is one such example. At 25 years of age, Rivera started 10 games in 1995 (the season before Joe Torre became manager), producing a 3-3 record, 5.94 ERA and 1.680 WHIP.

While their were flashes of brilliance, such as this July 4th (George’s Birthday) eight inning, 11 strikeout, zero run gem*, their were obvious duds, too, like three of his first four career starts when he gave up more earned runs than innings pitched in each of those contests.

*It is interesting to see that during that game, Rivera threw eight solid innings and was pulled after 129 pitches. His ninth inning replacement was John Wetteland, the first of many times the Rivera-Wetteland combination would help win a game for the Yankees.

We will never know if Rivera would have developed into a starting pitcher, as potential starters need more than 10 career major league starts to have a proper evaluation.

Besides the perpetual Joba starter/reliever story this 2010 spring training, the biggest starter/reliever conflict has occurred with the other New York team, the Mets.

Their 20 year old flame thrower Jenrry Mejia has been talked about as a top Mets pitching prospect for at least two seasons now. In his brief professional career, Mejia has been in 47 games, starting 40 of them. The only seven relief appearances for Mejia came in 2007, his first pro season as a 17 year old, when the Mets were slowly breaking him in.

Over the last two seasons Mejia has appeared in 33 games, and started all 33.

But at lest for this season, the Mets envision Mejia as a relief pitcher due to some dominant outings this spring.

They are making Mejia a relief pitcher despite the Mets lack of adequate starting pitchers in their organization, and seeing what happened to Joba over the last two seasons, as he was jerked around by the Yankees.

Many Met fans do not like it, and they are staged a protest to support keeping Mejia a starting pitcher.

As mentioned earlier, Mejia has only been a starter the last two seasons. In year one he advanced from Rookie Ball in the Gulf Coast League up to Short Season ball in Brooklyn, where he faced mainly recent college draftees.

Mejia fared pretty well that year producing a 2-0 record, 0.60 ERA, 0.800 WHIP in Rookie ball and a 3-2 record, 3.49 ERA, 1.147 WHIP in Brooklyn. Really good as he was still only 18!

In 2009, the Mets jumped Mejia to High A St. Lucie in the perennially pitching rich Florida State League (FSL), and Jenrry did not disappoint. He went 4-1 in 9 starts, with a 1.97 ERA and 1.132 WHIP.

At a tougher level, Mejia significantly improved his pitching numbers from one season to the next, just what an organization wants to see out of a young player.

After the great start in the FSL, Mejia was moved to Double A Binghamton, where he went 0-5, 4.47 ERA, 1.511 WHIP in 10 starts. In 44 innings, Mejia (still only 19!) struck out 47 hitters.

That Double A jump is the biggest a minor league player will make. If you can make it their (Double A) you can make it anywhere, meaning the majors.

After the successful adjustment Mejia made from his A ball stint in 2008 to 2009, the biggest no-brainer then is to see how your best #1 starting candidate pitching prospect (sorry Jonathan Niese), will fare starting his 2010 season in Double A Binghamton.

Will Mejia again adjust to the Double A hitters, and begin to pitch well early on? And with the annual terrible April weather in the Northeast, Mejia has the elements on his side, too, as pitchers usually fare better in early season nasty weather, especially when all hitters have been used to the Florida sunshine.

Wouldn’t this advantage allow him to gain confidence early and give the Mets another potentially major league ready starting pitcher if not later in 2010, but the following season?

We may never find out due to the inabilities of Mets General Manager Omar Minaya*. Coming off the debacle that was September 2008, and last season’s full-year disaster, the GM and manager Jerry Manuel NEED TO WIN NOW.

*Remember that Minaya was given his first GM job by MLB to be the GM of the Montreal Expos. He pretty much ruined that organization (now the Washington Nationals), but they are showing sign of getting things together, seven years after Minaya took the helm. Ironic that the Nats are now showing some young promise, and the Mets now being run by Minaya are starting to crumble.

That is why they signed Jason Bay in the off season instead of shoring up the starting pitching, and why Mejia will be in the Mets bullpen to begin the 2010 season. Minaya would have been better served to protect the franchise by saving the money spent on Bay, allowing all the kids Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Jonathan Niese, Josh Thole, etc. to play and develop instead of trying to win a very tough NL East in 2010.

But Minaya and Manuel (the lousy version of the M&M boys) need to win now to save their jobs. If the Mets get off to a slow start in 2010, they both could be fired by June 1. If that happens, neither one will ever get another chance at their current roles with any other organization.

This is it for both of them. Last chance.

There is an old sports cliché which states a team never wants to face a desperate opponent, because that opponent will do anything to win. Manuel and Minaya are desperate people. When asked by a reported if he was desperate and crazy to bring Mejia north as a reliever, the very honest Manuel has said he “Yeah, I am both of those.”

The Wilpon ownership never should have allowed their GM and field manager to come back for 2010 for the same reason. The Mets M&M boys will do anything to win this season, and that includes ruin the Mets for the future.

The game of baseball is about starting pitching. The teams with the best starters will usually win.

Mejia in the bullpen gives the Mets the best chance to win in 2010, but his bullpen gig in 2010 will hamper the Mets development in future years.

With the injuries last season Minaya did not have good enough replacements in the minors to make the necessary moves to improve a bad situation. He continually spent for free agents trying to win now, and it pushed the Mets into a bad overall organization, similar to a Ponzi scheme.

Like Bernie Madoff** in pulling in more investors to pay older investors, the Mets constantly needed to replenish their older resources (Delgado) with more expensive resources (Bay), in order to win now.

**Ironic how the Mets ownership was moved to keep Minaya and his Ponzi player scheme due to his guaranteed salary in order to save money, when much of their family fortune was lost to the same Ponzi type scheme run by Madoff.

Back in early March when Manuel said that Mejia reminded him of Rivera, with a sharp cutter, people took that as Mejia was going to be the Mets 8th inning guy. With the entire talk surrounding starter vs. reliever, it appears Manuel began to listen (and believe) to all that talk.

The primary reason why starters fail is that they have a limited amount of pitches in their repertoire. Guys like Rivera (and all time saves leader Trevor Hoffman) can become good relief pitchers is they have a master of one or two pitches which translates well to shorter stints in a game. Has Mejia mastered his pitches yet?

Often the second or third time through a lineup as a starter, the lack of different pitches leads to getting hit hard. Mejia has four pitches, including an exploding mid-90’s fastball, and has a cutter, curve and change up. He also can sink the fastball as a fifth pitch.

In seeing him pitch this spring, Mejia needs to get more command of the off speed pitches, and he doesn’t seem to use his curve that much. That shows a lack of feel for the pitch, and is something that can be worked on down in the minors.

Mets starting catcher Rod Barajas said “You’d like to get him more seasoning down there, make him use those pitches. I think he could get major-league hitters out on a regular basis. With that fastball, he definitely can have success. But the second and third time he faces clubs, if they can just sit on one pitch, it’s going to be tough for him.”

Mejia has made hitters look bad this spring, but has faced mostly non starters so far. Up until this past week, Mejia has faced only six hitters who have had over 300 at bats in the major leagues. But the last week or two of spring training is when the regulars are going to play most of the games.

Mejia did not do well yesterday in the Mets game against the Florida Marlins when he faced seven hitters, allowing three hits and a run. That appearance was against the Marlins regulars.

That 1.1 inning appearance is another telling sign that the Mets are going to take Mejia north with them as a reliever. If teams were going to use a pitcher as a starter, they would allow him to throw more innings in each appearance to get him ready for the season.

In developing a starter for the season, a team extends the innings each appearance to allow him to throw at least 5-6 innings in the first regular season start.

However, Mejia has not been extended out, never pitching more than into a second innings in any appearance this spring. He also has been used back to back days this past week, something the Mets would not do unless they were going to use him in the bullpen.

The Mets are in a difficult division, with Philadelphia, Atlanta and Florida all capable of winning the division. While I am not saying the Mets are not in the hunt, they have a lot more questions than the other three teams. Plus, after Johan Santana, their starting pitching stinks.

And when the starting pitching is terrible, you need better starters. No amount of capable relief pitchers will help you win many games. That is why Mejia needs to start the season in Double A to continue his development as a starter. To see if he can replicate the advancements he made the prior season.

While Mejia did well early in the week throwing in back to back games, they were in front of about 6,000 vacationing sunbathers. How will Mejia react to a situation in front of 45,000 serious baseball fans? If Mejia does wilt under the major league New York pressure, will the Mets send him down to Double A and convert him back as a starter?

We shall see. But it would be better for the Mets if Mejia made his major league debut later in 2010 as a called up starting pitcher who dominated Double A, or in 2011 when he is informed by new Mets manager Bobby Valentine that he made the team.

But it shouldn’t be at the beginning of this season as a reliever.

The New York Mets Signed RHP Clint Everts! Yes!

January 12, 2010

When news broke last month that the New York Mets, led by GM Omar (the Maniacal) Minaya, signed Clint Everts, a minor league pitcher for the Washington Nationals, most of the reaction by the Mets faithful was ho-hum.

At least this signing wasn’t another back up catcher like Chris Coste and Henry Blanco.

The Mets did say this off season was going to be spent looking for a left fielder (Jason Bay – check), catching and pitching. What Met fans did not realize that by pitching, they meant the career minor leaguer Everts.

Who ever heard of this guy, a Washington Nationals reject?

Actually, I have and wrote about him  (although he was a spare part to the story) on several occasions.

Clint Everts* was the first ever draft pick (5th overall) in 2002 by Omar Minaya when he was GM of the (then) Montreal Expos. Coupled with the acquisition of Jason Bay, it appears Omar really loves to have his old chums back in the fold.

Minaya chose Everts over such also rans as Zach Greinke (6th – one pick later), Prince Fielder (7th), Jeff Francis (9th), Jeremy Hermida (11th), Joe Saunders (12th), Scott Kazmir (15th – Mets), Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th), James Loney (19th), Denard Span (20th), Jeff Francoeur (23rd), Joe Blanton (24th) and Matt Cain (25th).

*Interestingly, Everts played HS baseball with Kazmir. Imagine two high school players both chosen that high in the draft? (That also happened in 2007 when Mike Moustakas was taken second overall by the Kansas City Royals and his teammate Matt Dominguez was taken 12th overall by the Florida Marlins.) 

Kazmir was traded away to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a trade which cost the job of GM Jim Duquette. Minaya then replaced Duquette as Mets GM. 

See how everything comes full circle in baseball? Minaya has very few of his drafted players which have made the majors, with virtually no players making an impact. Mike Pelfrey is the best Minaya draftee thus far.

For all his supposed scouting prowess, Minaya is a terrible drafter.

I wonder if all those ex-Expos guys like Bay, Everts, and Orlando Cabrera (Why not Omar?, Cabrera is Latino and once played for you in Montreal) are making the 360 degree turn and coming back. Why does Omar insist on bringing back all his former players that he once rid himself?

Because Omar never has, is not now or never will be a good General Manager.

A little refresher course on how Omar became a MLB General Manager. He was assistant GM of the Mets and interviewed for several GM jobs which had opened up.

Minaya interviewed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, then interviewed with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers (his old team which gave him his start).

All for their open GM positions!

And no one wanted him, as John Houseman would say, the old fashioned way…by earning it! Even the lowly Pirates, probably the worst managed organization in baseball did not want Omar to head their team, to be the face of their franchise!

Looking back at this past season, with all the terrible press conferences he held where Omar had a terrible UZR on the English language, most likely did not help him in the interview process.

Despite all the people throughout baseball who thought Omar was a great guy and terrific ambassador type for baseball with the Latin community, he still did not impress enough to warrant a real, earned job.

But in December 2001, MLB wanted to contract two teams from its “roster.” One targeted team was the Montreal Expos (the other was the Minnesota Twins). MLB wanted to appease the Expos owner Jeffrey Loria so when the Boston Red Sox franchise became available, MLB allowed Florida Marlins owner John Henry to buy them. Then the Marlins were purchased by Loria and MLB assumed the ownership of the Expos.

A nice, tidy, three way swap.

But since MLB was desiring to have their first Latino GM, it was a great triangle for MLB as they get to kill two birds with one stone. They would rid themselves of two undesirable franchises and hire themselves MLB’s first Latino GM, something Bud Selig was being pressured to do.

All involved knew that contraction was NOT going to happen due to the Minnesota lawsuit, and the likely result was that both teams, but primarily Montreal, were going to switch cities. Even though the franchise would  remain viable, MLB allowed Minaya to make terrible trades as Montreal GM which continues to ruin the franchise even today after the team moved to Washington.  

And now Minaya has continued his trend of ruining teams by running the New York Mets into the ground. His total lack of player development has put the Mets into a Ponzi scheme type hole of continuously needing to sign big money free agents to fill needs.

With his job on the line Minaya continued that trend by signing Jason Bay and Everts, of course.

 Why would Mets ownership continue to put their future into Minaya’s hands knowing he is desperate save his job? Desperate men do desperate things, which is detrimental to the future of the organization. If Minaya fails this season and gets fired, he will NEVER get another top job within baseball.

But at least Clint Everts will still be working.

An Open Letter to all Major League Baseball General Managers

September 7, 2009

This is an open letter to primarily the National League GM’s, but it will apply again next season for the American League teams, too. In fact, all teams can benefit from this advice.

Just imagine you are the GM of a team in trouble. You might have lost your standings in the playoff picture (like the Dodgers, Marlins or Giants) or your team has mired itself in so much turmoil that you need a good looking trade to build up your stature with the owners (like Omar Minaya of the Mets or Jim Hendry of the Cubs).

Do you want to look good as GM for your respective team and possibly keep your job?

Then make a trade for an aging veteran pitcher just before you go play the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of the worst hitting teams in the majors and a team which has pretty much given up on the season.

This tactic will work for any contending or needy team about to visit a terrible hitting team. You could also trade for a pitcher right before you play the Kansas City Royals or Cincinnati Reds. Maybe the San Diego Padres or currently comprised New York Mets are coming to town.  

This would then give Omar Minaya one less team to work with.

But this situation has worked wonders for playoff contending teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. Both teams acquired starting pitchers last week, who ended up turning in great performances against the Diamondbacks.

Jon Garland was acquired by the Dodgers from the Diamondbacks themselves, and went out and threw a gem against the Diamondbacks a few days later.

Then two days later, Jose Contreras, just acquired by the Rockies from the Chicago White Sox during their veteran player fire sale, pitched a great game against the same lowly Diamondbacks.

Now, it should be mentioned that the Diamondbacks are likely the worst hitting team in the major leagues RIGHT NOW, worse even then the Washington Nationals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Only the Royals could challenge the Diamondbacks for mediocrity with the bat.

While the Rockies have to contend with the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers lineups the last seven games of their season, it only gets better for the Dodgers.

 They have three more games this week against the Diamondbacks, then seven more against the Pirates, three versus the Nationals, seven against the Giants and finishing up with two against the Padres.

No exactly a Murderer’s Row in the bunch.

Joe Blanton Continues to Win as do the Philadelphia Phillies

September 2, 2009

When the Phillies traded for Oakland’s Joe Blanton at last years trading deadline, many people were suggesting the Phillies didn’t get the right pitcher. Blanton’s good numbers over his career might have been exaggerated in the spacious Oakland ballpark. Pitching in cozy Citizen’s Bank Ballpark was supposed to equalize Blanton’s effectiveness.

But after Blanton became a Phillie, he proceeded to pitch better than ever. He went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA for the Phillies, and the eventual World Champions would go 9-4 in his 13 starts.

In 2009, after a disastrous April where Blanton went 0-2, 8.41 ERA in four starts, he has responded to go 9-4 the rest of 2009. And Blanton has truly dominated in July and August. In 10 starts since July 1, Blanton is 5-2, 2.15 ERA  with a 1.04 WHIP, and his K:BB ratio over the last two months (only above 2.0 one other season) is an impressive 4:1.

At a time when the media has concentrated on the exploits of the newest Phillie Cliff Lee, the re-emergence of Cole Hamels to ace material, the signing of Pedro Martinez, and the continued development of JA Happ, it has been Blanton who has been at his consistent best since that terrible month of April.

And remember, Met fans, that Blanton could have gone to Flushing before the 2008 season, but Minaya declined that trade.  Or in trading for Blanton at last season’s deadline. How good would Blanton look in spacious CitiField? And it is not the first time Blanton was overlooked by Omar. As a rookie GM in his first draft in 2002, Minaya picked Clint Everts over Blanton, Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Zach Greinke, Joe Saunders, Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher and Matt Cain.

I love pointing out Minaya’s faults–of which there are many.

The Phillie rotation in October is going to be tough to beat, and with the possibility of Brett Myers returning from a hip injury to pitch out of the bullpen, the late innings will be tough to score also. In addition, Pedro could be moved to the bullpen — a little wrinkle Charlie Manuel could throw out there.

It could be long October and November in Philadelphia, and that is in a good way.

Billy Wagner…He’s Back with his Arm and his Mouth

August 21, 2009

I like Billy Wagner. Always have. Even when he was part of that no-hitter six years ago against the Yankees.

Wagner speaks his mind, like I usually do. And it gets him in trouble some times, like my mouth sometimes does too. I guess people get offended when they don’t want to hear certain things. True that many times, people can be taken aside and spoke to in private, like a manager with a player. But sometimes things need to be said out in front.

It’s like when a woman wants to “always hear the truth” and when you tell them the truth, and they don’t like what they hear, they get upset.

You may not like what Wagner has to say sometimes (especially if you are Oliver Perez) but you can’t doubt his passion for the game and the way it is played.

Listen to his quote after last night’s game: “To know that I was pretty much written off and then make it back quick, it was very enjoyable. I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and not make a fool of myself. ”

Typical Wagner. Breaking chops of all the doubters, and breaking his own as well. I am sure the media crush around his locker had fun last night at CitiField for the first time in a while.

Another reason why I like Wagner is that he advanced to the majors via a Division 3 small college Ferrum College in Virginia. I also went to and played college ball at a D3 school.

But when his song Enter Sandman played on the sound system AFTER his impressive inning of work (3 up-3 down, 2 whiffs vs the meat of the Braves order), it seemed like it was Wagner’s New York curtain call.

It would be great for Wagner to have shown what he could do, then be sent to a contender and play the last month of this season in a playoff race.

Unfortunately for Billy, Omar Minaya is still at the controls and is supposedly looking for a “top prospect” for Wagner.

The mets should get what they can get, but unless the Mets are going to pick up Wagner’s option for next year (at $8 million, it is unlikely), they will pay the $1 million buyout and Wagner is done – and the Mets get nothing.  

Mets need to take their losses on Wagner being hurt last season, do the right thing and trade Billy to a contender. They will save money and get a player, but don’t shoot for the moon on the player. Get something the system needs – get a young arm.

What teams would be interested in Wagner? Three teams come to mind (Atlanta, Philly, Florida), but they are all in the NL East. Would Omar trade Wagner to one of those teams, knowing he would help a rival to win this season?

Also, remember that Wagner does have the option for 2010, and if he is healthy and productive, why wouldn’t the new team want to sign a dominant closer for one season? It would be like the Angels getting a free agent on a financially feasible one-year deal for under market conditions.

While only out of the wild card by three games, Tampa Bay is also a possibility, and they could really use a veteran presence like Wagner, even for next season, too. There is no way Tampa would part with top pitching prospect Wade Davis, but would Jeremy Hellickson or even Rayner Oliveros be available?

They could be if Omar pulls the trigger early. The more time you give a new team with Wagner the more quility you will get back. Also, a team like the Rays could pick up Wagner’s option for next season. Even though he came back early (only 11 months) Wagner would have all fall and winter to continue his rest and rehab.

Omar needs to listen to all offers, even if they come from within the division, but unless he is looking to re-sign Billy for next year, Omar needs to take what he can get.

Exit Sandman.

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.