Monday, January 10, 2005

Beltranscendental Meditations

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

I rarely quote Queen songs. Trust me. But what is a Met fan to do? Giddiness, breathlessness, dizziness – these side effects and more are associated with signing Carlos Beltran. Did the Mets really sign the most sought after free agent on the market? Thank you Omar, thank you Mr. Wilpon, and thank you Mr. Steinbrenner for sitting this one out. Now, I’m not going to lie to you. All winter I have been saying, some might say adamantly, that Beltran is not the best hitter on the market. Based purely on performance, both Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Delgado have more impressive track records with the bat. Of course, Magglio has to be scratched from the debate due to his injury. Delgado is a stone cold masher, and OBP machine, and a fearsome slugger. But, he is not as desirable as Beltran for several reasons that are obvious – age and defensive position being primary among these.
Omar Minaya obviously decided that Beltran would be a better buy than both Ordonez and Delgado. He could have had both for just a little more than Beltran cost per year. There are several factors that support his strategy. The first is Shea Stadium itself. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not exactly a hitters’ paradise. It favors versatile gap hitters over pure sluggers. Think of the few hitters who have excelled at the Big Shea. Piazza can hit to all fields and does not rely on the home run. The Straw man posted high OBP’s and also brought speed to the table. Edgardo Alfonzo, for his brief shining moment as an elite hitter, hit line to line. Beltran is more of this type of hitter, not so much prone to park factors as a pure slugger. Beltran’s age and health also had to be a vital factor. At the end of this contract Beltran will be the current age (34) of the best centerfielder in baseball (Jim Edmonds).
So now the Mets have signed the best free agent pitcher and the most coveted free agent position player. Quietly, they have also stocked up on every bullpen arm from here to East Asia. This is always the best strategy when it comes to middle relief. There are no good middle relievers, there are only middle relievers having good years. Stockpiling arms makes it more likely that you’ll have one of the latter. The Miguel Cairo signing was also solid. He is to Joe McEwing what Barry Bonds is to Benny Agbayani. Cairo actually belongs in the big leagues, unlike Super Joe. He was the starting second baseman for an excellent team last year. He can also play the outfield if needed. And, although I am not advocating it, if an attractive trade materializes for Kaz Matsui, Omar can pull the trigger knowing he has Cairo.

Now, let’s tackle some post-Beltran questions:

Did the Mets overpay for Beltran? Well, yeah, judged by any acceptable moral standard of justice and fairness. Since neither apply to professional sports, let’s suspend reality and enter this magical fairy land where mediocrities are paid millions. Ten players have signed $100 Million contracts. Beltran is obviously better than five of them. The five are Derek Jeter, Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown (insert laughter here), Jason Giambi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. I believe that three are better than Beltran. They are Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols. This leaves Todd Helton, and I’ll call that one a push. Helton is awesome, but that whole Coors Field thing is a tough one to evaluate. I think on a neutral field Beltran gets the edge. Remember, the Astros pushed their offer to $108 Million. That shows you how badly they wanted him back, maybe the best sign that the Mets spent wisely.

What should the Mets do about Floyd and Cameron? Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. These two are pretty good players. That’s been their problem since they joined the Metropolitans. We needed them to be great players and they are not. As complementary players, however, they are very valuable. Cliff Floyd as a number 6 hitter is pretty imposing. Mike Cameron as a number 7 hitter is solid. How many 7 hitters hit 30 home runs last year? Don’t trade these guys just for the sake of trading them, especially for lesser players who have been rumored (Eric Byrnes, Shea Hillenbrand, Doug Mientkiewicz). Are Cameron and Floyd untouchable? Of course not. Floyd for Manny? Yes, please. Cameron for Zito? Yes, please. Floyd for Sosa? No thank you. Cameron for some middle reliever? No thank you.

Who will play first? The Mets have three options.
1) They can sign a big ticket item.
2) They can sign a bargain bin item.
3) They can trade for a serviceable player.
I’m a fan. I vote for number 1. The best answer is Carlos Delgado. As mentioned before, he is the best free agent hitter. He has the 24th highest OPS ever. That’s right, that says ever. He is in baseball’s middle age (32) and in excellent physical condition. He also is a lefty slugger. Indeed, he is a mediocre fielder. Umm, who cares? That’s kind of like saying that Barry Bonds doesn’t throw well. Delgado would perfect the lineup:

Reyes
Beltran
Delgado
Wright
Piazza
Floyd
Cameron
Matsui

That’s pretty potent. I acknowledge that it will also not be the Met lineup if Delgado is signed. It is, however, the way I would hit them. Willie Randolph will pencil it in this way:

Reyes
Matsui
Beltran
Delgado
Piazza
Floyd
Wright
Cameron

I can live with that, although I suspect that the third best hitter is batting 7th. If the Mets go with choice 2, the bargain bin item, I vote for Travis Lee. Good power, great glove, relatively young. For choice 3 I vote for Nick Johnson. His biggest problem is that he’s out of shape. That can be fixed. He gets on base and has a good glove. Notice I have not mentioned Doug Mientkiewicz. There’s a good reason. He is a pitiful hitting corner infielder.

Can Carlos Beltran handle New York? Of course he can. We all saw how he shrunk from the spotlight of the playoffs last season. Now, if he assaulted a camera man on his way to his physical on his first day in New York, I might be worried.

6 Comments:

Blogger Hojo4Life said...

Nice article, I enjoyed it. I emailed you the other day about any interest you may have in being part of our Blurbing a Blog program at NYFS. I don't know if you got it or not. Do you have another email address I can send info to you on?

January 15, 2005 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Genmet41 said...

Hojo - No, I didn't get the email (although I will check again). My email address is keelyn@optonline.net, and yes I am interested. Thanks.

January 15, 2005 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Hojo4Life said...

sent you two emails Steve, I thought I used this address the first time as well. Maybe not though. Just check to see if the emails got sent to your junkmail or something. For some reason that is where yours went when I got it.

January 15, 2005 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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November 2, 2005 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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December 25, 2005 at 6:34 PM  
Blogger iza roberto iza said...

Dear Administrator:

Some of Iza's comments above have invalid links without a nofollow value. You may want to disregard them.

Best wishes

August 15, 2007 at 6:52 PM  

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