29.12.04

Don't Stop The Presses

The Mets announced the signing of free agents SS Chris Woodward and P Manny Aybar to minor league contracts.

Of Woodward, we can safely say that Hamstring Jose's job isn't in any great jeopardy. He's 28 yet still unsung, but he's not really too terrible. His best season was 2002 when he hit .276-13-45 in 90 games for the Jays. On the one hand you can say he's pretty versatile on the field, having played SS, 2B, 1B and 3B over his career. His fielding percentage isn't sparkling but who knows, with all fragility of Reyes in mind, this isn't a terrible pickup. ESPN says:

"He's fit, wiry and athletic with strong hands, contributing to above-average bat speed, which can produce surprising pop. Nonetheless, he can be overpowered up in the strike zone and is vulnerable to breaking stuff low and away." Fit and wiry, I like that. It won't stop the world from spinning but it won't cause its destruction either.

Aybar, on the other hand, Aybar is 32 and hasn't been in the majors since 2003. It may or may not be important to know that you pronounce his surname EYE BAR. I don't know what, if anything this says about his pitching prowess. He's got a lifetime ERA over 5.00 which is not good. He's not a lefty, which is usually a valuable commodity in a bullpen, even with a career ERA that makes the skin crawl with dread like ole Manny has. But he's not entirely without promise. It does appear that in 2002, he was the PCL Player of the Year. Let's put it this way: he could be a younger John Franco without the annoying, interferring, frustrated GM clubhouse presence. Or he could lead Norfolk in saves. Anything's possible in the offseason.

Lastly, the Mets also announced the signing of Joe Nelson another relief pitcher past his prime without ever having experienced a prime, so to speak. You know you're really grasping at straws when you have to point out that yes, whilst his career ERA is gargoylish at 25.07 (no, that's not a typo folks!), and his page on ESPN doesn't even have a photo, I would point out that his strikouts per 9 innings ratio is a devastating 16.88. You know what Randy Johnson's strikout per 9 innings ratio was last season? 10.62! So stop snickering. This Joe Nelson kid could be worth a few dozen Gus Zernial vintage baseball cards some day.

*****

Perhaps a bit of absurdist humour at play at the NY Post was involved in Joel Sherman's MAYBE AMAZIN'S CAN SWIPE CARLOS FROM BOSS' GRASP column filled with wishful thinking.

Let's face it. King George has enough money to buy most of the other franchises in baseball. It's laughable to think he'd let a little thing like excessive payroll stop him from getting the man who is baseball's most sought-after free agent.

"But what if Steinbrenner really feels he must cap his payroll and future expenses at some point? What if a potential $100 million-plus bill for luxury tax and revenue sharing next offseason chills The Boss enough for him to shun the prettiest trinket in the window?".

Really, the day the Wilpons outbid the Evil Empire for a marquis player is the day you'd better climb down into your bomb shelter with your cans of beans and bottled water, cover every orafice with duct tape and masking tape and just hope the next world turns out better.

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