Tagged: Mets

Chicago gets a lot more :-(

heil250.jpgSeattle hardly knew ye, Aaron Heilman. The Cubs swapped Garrett Olson (also his second time traded this offseason) and Ronny Cedeno for Heilman on Wednesday. Strictly in baseball terms, this deal isn’t much more than a blip on the radar, unless, of course, Heilman goes on to become the 25-win starter he thinks he can be. The Cubs, for the record, are undecided as to whether he’ll start or relieve.

As a Mets fan, I should note that I would not be surprised in the least if Heilman did in fact reach such heights — not because I think he’s good enough, but because I wouldn’t be an average pessimistic Mets fan if I didn’t at least have the seeds of Heilman developing into an ace starter with another team planted in my mind. But, with all apologies to homepage editor DC — a Notre Dame alum and devout eternal Mets optimist — I, for one, didn’t mind seeing Heilman shipped out the first time around and don’t expect much from him in Chicago.

Countless are the times I saw Mr. Sourpuss sulk off the mound after surrendering an untimely home run in relief. The least timely of those came in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS when he coughed up the gopherball to none other than (Choose Your) Molina — not exactly Albert Pujols.

By some scouts’ accounts, Heilman is a two-pitch, high-injury-risk hurler. Once he was converted to a reliever, the Mets were steadfast in their belief that he wouldn’t be able to pitch more than 100 or so innings without sustaining injury. One would think the jump from middle reliever to starter would be a tough one for any pitcher four years into his relief career. Most organizations prefer to bump their pitchers up in innings pitched by increments of 20 or 30 per season so as to minimize the chance of injury. That would mean Heilman would be on track to pitch about 100 frames in 2009 after tossing 76 in 2008.

But most importantly, Heilman provides MLB.com editorial producers with unparalleled dejection shots, an important aspect of postgame production. It’s easy to pick out pictures for the winning club’s site: A home run or group celebration shot will suffice. But the losing squad’s site is always tricky, and Heilman never failed in supplying those priceless hangdog shots. Enjoy him, Cubs.

Kenny Rogers’ Mets career: One minute on a scalding stove

rogers.jpgAllow me to share a bit of AIM away message wisdom. I swear, it’s relevant. My best friend forever (bff), Ski, once posted Albert Einstein’s famous quote about relativity:

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute, and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.

What prompted this thought for me was a story I produced Saturday night regarding the probable retirement of southpaw Kenny Rogers, he of the Rangers (thrice), Tigers, Yankees, A’s, Twins, and, regrettably, my Metropolitans.

I say regrettably because in 1999, Rogers issued the dreaded walk-off walk in Game 5 of the NLCS against the hated Braves. It was a scene all too predictable. The Mets, in the opinions of many, were actually better in 1999 than they were in 2000, when they went to the World Series. They just couldn’t get around the little hurdle we call the Bravos, which, fortunately, was taken care of for them by the Redbirds in ’00.

Rogers, for his part, was a midseason addition via trade to the Mets that season, having retreated with his tail between his legs to obscurity with the Oakland A’s after his miserable stint with the Yankees in 1996 and ’97. Word on the street was, The Gambler couldn’t handle the Big Apple’s bright lights with  the Yanks. So, of course, who else would the Mets have on the mound for the deciding pitch of their season than an aging midseason addition who had already proven he didn’t care for the spotlight?

piazza.jpgBitter, much? Perhaps. But this is my experience with Rogers. This is my my one minute on a hot stove. Mike Piazza’s Mets career is my fleeting hour with a pretty girl. Did I actually just write that? That’s for another post.

For Rangers fans, I’d imagine it’s a mixed bag, perhaps more good than bad. The perfect game thing is pretty sweet. I wouldn’t mind seeing one of those for the Mets, considering no Amazin’s hurler has ever spun a no-hitter (let alone a perfecto). Leaving them high and dry for the Yanks’ big bucks — only to come crawling back — was not nice, nor was the camera incident. Rogers channeling his inner-Rodman was entirely less entertaining and kind of frightening in the passive-aggressive way he went about it. Why not just kick the guy in his family jewels, Kenny?

For Tigers fans, I’d imagine it was heavenly bliss, despite the eventual outcome of the ’06 World Series. Rogers cheated pitched his tail off that postseason, rosin smudge not withstanding.

When Rogers is an old man and the Mets have choked away suffered another handful of untimely teamwide slumps in many a September, I might wonder about Rogers. I might wonder about the relativity of sitting on millions of dollars upon retirement. Enjoy it, Rogers. Enjoy it.

Boorish American Mets fan: ‘No Johan in Classic’

johan.jpgAllow me to be a company man here for a moment by virtue of not being one.

If Johan Santana pitches in the World Baseball Classic, I will be rather upset because the Mets need Johan to be healthy in the worst way. It will be better for baseball if Santana has a clean bill of health to help usher in Citi Field in its inaugural season.

In reality, I’m looking out for the best interest of the team for which I root, which has virtually no shot of winning its division without the services of one Mr. Santana — as if its two-years-running penchant for collapse slumping at the wrong time weren’t enough to prevent that.

Lost in the aftermath of last season’s collapse poorly timed, team-wide slump was one of the greatest pitching performances in Mets history in Game 161. Johan staved off the Mets’ inevitable elimination from playoff contention on that fateful, overcast day at Shea Stadium, shutting out the cocksure Marlins in rousing fashion.

Shea closed its doors for the last time the following day — with the Mets officially going home for the postseason — but in the coming weeks, we learned Johan had spun his masterpiece on a balky left knee, which eventually required surgery and rehabilition.

Which brings us to now. Team Venezuela surely wants its best native hurler on the mound in March, and Johan speaks as if he’d like to pitch for it, but he won’t do it if he’s not physically able to.

Just remember, Johan, it’s not Venezuela that signs those robust paychecks. The Citi Field faithful needs you this summer. No pressure, or anything.

Braves sign Lowe; can now tell opponents to ‘suck it’

lowe.jpg

Perhaps in an act of desperation, the Braves stabilized their shaky offseason by coming to terms with Derek Lowe on a four-year contract worth $60 million today.

Lowe, perhaps best remembered for flashing the Oakland A’s the crude ‘suck it’ gesture made popular in professional wrestling about a decade ago, pitched the past four seasons with the Dodgers, to generally solid results. I kid, of course, about said gesture being what he’s remembered for; in actuality, it was his extramarital affair with a Dodgers beat reporter for which we shall remember D-Lo.

I had hoped the Mets would land Lowe, but their offer of 3/36 seems paltry compared to where the Braves have gone here. Atlanta was desperate to make a splash after bungling the Rafael Furcal negotiations and falling short of dealing for Padres ace Jake Peavy.

Is it sour grapes on my part? Probably so. But objectively speaking, this deal is an ominous one for those teams still trolling the free-agent market for starting pitching. This contract is more in line with one a free agent of Lowe’s caliber would have gotten in offseasons past, not this depressed market which has seen relative bargains abound, save for the Yankees’ high spending.

This almost guarantees that fellow Scott Boras client Oliver Perez will get four years from some team; he’s younger and arguably has a higher upside than Lowe at this point in his career.

Lowe’s deal has ramifications for the Hot Stove and the Braves’ position in the NL East. By my estimate, the Braves are the first team outside the Yankees (and the Phillies’ curious Raul Ibanez deal) to arguably overpay for a free agent, which should bode well for those remaining on the market, particularly the pitchers. Within their division, the Braves have not only added a solid arm to their rotation, but also prevented him from joining the Mets.

It’s hard out here for a former ace

pedro200.jpgFirst the Marlins said they were not in negotiations with and had no interest in Pedro Martinez, now the Mets are saying the same.

Unfortunately for Pedro, he seems to be getting the Milton treatment here — you know, the dude from Office Space whom no one wanted to actually fire, so they just kind of removed him from the payroll and moved him down to Storage B.

Pedro’s contract with the Mets expired after 2008, and he’s now the victim of age, ineffectiveness, injury and a bad free-agent market.

In the words of pop act k-os, “Time is a thief that leaves nothing behind.”

I think Pedro might be thrown a bone with a desperate team on the cheap, but it appears 2005 will hold our last memories of Pedro even remotely approaching the Pedro we knew and loved.

Pedro could be joining the ranks of Mike Piazza and Bernie Williams right before our eyes — just sort of phasing out of the game by virtue of no interest. It feels like a lifetime ago Pedro was just a skinny kid in Montreal with a terrible jherri curl (which he eventually reverted back to with the Mets), brushing back the muscle-bound Reggie Sanders of the Reds.

Mets close to deal with Redding

Tim Redding is an adequate Major League pitcher, but that’s about it. His impending addition to the Mets’ rotation does little to comfort me.

Concerns still linger regarding Mike Pelfrey’s development and the added strain on his arm from a heavy workload a season ago.

John Maine is coming off an injury and is a one-trick pony on the mound.

Jon Niese is entirely unprove.

But worst of all, this almost certainly rules out either Derek Lowe or Oliver Perez, meaning the Amazin’s will only sign one of them. I may have been greedy in asking for both, but that would have added a ton of depth to the rotation.

I still think Lowe is their man, but that won’t come easy with agent Scott Boras playing hardball. I’d imagine Randy Wolf is a contingency plan in case Lowe and Perez both fall through.

Xavier Nady: Soon-to-be journeyman

When the Mets were apparently steamrolling their way to a World Series title (lol) in 2006, they flipped outfielder Xavier Nady to the Pirates for reliever Roberto Hernandez and throw-in Oliver Perez. A taxi accident involving setup man Duaner Sanchez necessitated the deal.

Mets fans, by and large, were pissed at Sanchez for being in a Miami-area taxi at 2 a.m. and equally upset the Mets had given up on Nady, whom they had taken a liking to. Fans in general tend to favor mediocre players who distinguish themselves with the occasional big play (see: Chavez, Endy).

Prior to joining the Mets and Bucs, Nady was a touted prospect in the Padres’ organization who never realized his potential.

2008, his age 29 season, was a breakout campaign, of sorts, for Nady, enjoying a previously unseen spike in on-base tendencies and power.

This drew the attention of the cherry picking Yankees, who, in looking to bolster their roster, dealt for Nady.

Then came this offseason, one which saw the Yankees first trade for 1B/OF/DH Nick Swisher and then sign first baseman Mark Teixeira. Now, rumors abound the Yanks will trade either Nady or Swisher — probably Nady, due in part to his career season and Swisher’s defensive flexibility.

X-Man, welcome to the ranks of the journeymen.