Riding The Rumour Trolley

With no "real" news to report on the free agent front, all the New York tabloids resort instead to speculation. In honour of that system of keeping the fans interested even when nothing is really happening, the latest rumours are:

They prefer Sexson. After leaking official denials of a $10 million per year offer, it is allegedly confirmed that they've made an offer to him at the expense of one to Carlos Delgado.

It's a tough call to make, even if they have a chance. Sexson, on the one hand, fills a defensive void and is one of the more underrated defensive first basemen in baseball. He has hit for power, with 30, 45, 29 and 45 homers each season leading up to last season's disasterous outing with the cursed Diamondbacks. However, with that power, over that same period of time, comes a walk to strikeout ratio of 267-624, keeping in mind that he played for a Brewers team who had essentially no one else to be feared in their lineup - he's a free swinger and misses alot for all that power. Still, a lifetime OBP of .349 is not too shabby. Over the last three seasons, with runners in scoring position, Sexson hit .288 and perhaps more interesting, he has hit .344 at Shea with 2 homers, 3 doubles and 7 rbis in 32 at-bats. Against Philly, Florida and Atlanta, the Mets biggest NL East rivals, Sexson's numbers dwindle slightly although the power is still there: in 155 at bats against those three teams over the last three seasons, Sexson has hit .232 with 11 homers and 30 rbis. What that boils down to is a good defensive first baseman who will hit for power but not much else. Something like Jeremy Burnitz with a glove. Is that worth $10 million a year?

Delgado, 2 1/2 years older than Sexson, is a lesser fielder than Sexson, so they'd lose something defensively. He too hits for power with a similar average but a better OBP. Now, he's the power hitter of the lineup so you don't really care as much what his OBP as you do whether or not he produces. With runners in scoring position, Delgado has hit .312 and his walk to strikeout ratio is much better than Sexson's, in fact, he's walked over 100 times the last four seasons in a row. Unlike Sexson, he isn't coming off major surgery though he missed 33 games last year due to a strained rib cage.

So, what you'd see is a Delgado who can't field as well but who gets on base more, strikes out less and hits for just as much power and possibly more than Sexson. He's healthy, he's hot (after a crap May and July last season because of the rib cage, Delgado hit .330 with 17 homers and 51 rbis over 200 at-bats.) That borders on superpower and that, if replicated, is something the Mets could sorely use.

Then again, with Delgado, unlike the svelte 6-8 220 pound Sexson, you've got the ominous Mo Vaughn Factor. Granted, Delgado is listed at 6-3 230, and even ESPN has Fat Mo weighing in at a very unsvelte 275 lbs at 6-1. (Good god, I wonder how much Fat Mo weighs now that he doesn't have to "be in shape" to play baseball -- think he's hit the 1/2 tonne mark yet?)

Well, the way I see it, there is no Fat Mo Factor - Delgado isn't coming off several years of injury and inactivity, nor is he a load and if the Mets sign either player for first, Sexson might be the better bargain if only because of being younger and playing better defence and would be cheaper than Delgado. On the other hand, if Sexson is at $10 million per season and Carlos Delgado can be had for less (highly unlikely), Carlos has perhaps a better potential to simply explode offensively and carry a team.

If the Mets keep Piazza, as it appears they are leaning towards despite everyone's better judgement, either one of these players would be a good compliment.


Now that Al Leiter has finally left the Mets, whingeing all the way - (get over it Al, you weren't wanted any more, not at ANY price) --from at least one quarter it is being reported that Omar Is Ready To Raise the Stakes On Pedro.

"Minaya already has scheduled his next pitch to try to overcome the Red Sox' efforts at sentiment and loyalty by countering with cash.

The Red Sox were hesitant to guarantee a third year, and now that they are reportedly relenting on that, Minaya can top them with a guaranteed fourth year."

Four years at what will probably amount to somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 million a season would be a $52 million investment. Comparatively, they paid just over $37 million over four years for Al Leiter's 49 victories b/w the age of 34-38, which averages out to about $755,000 per victory. Of course, inflation has to be figured in but Pedro won 57 games over the last four seasons. That's two victories more per season for about four million extra per season. Over that same four year period, Al Leiter pitched about 746 innings compared to Pedro's 720. Leiter had a 3.50 ERA over that period, Pedro had a 2.76 ERA. So, Al Leiter pitched 746 innings over 112 starts the last four years. Pedro has pitched 720 innings over 110 starts the last four years. They last about the same duration per outing.

Let's face it, in many ways, you're getting the Dominican Al Leiter. Pedro is a prima donna and christ knows I can't stand him, but Al Leiter is an outspoken Republican who actively campaigned for George Bush. I'd rather have an eccentric prima donna than a Republican in my clubhouse any day. This doesn't even account for all the filthy rumours of Al Leiter helping the front office make personnel decisions for the Idiot Collective over the past several seasons. And let's face something else: I read on and on about what a great community guy Al Leiter is, his charities, the time he gives blablabla. Bottom line is he could be the biggest asshole in the world but if he's winning 20 games or leading the Mets to the World Series, I don't care if he keeps children locked in his basement and eats them one by one every morning.

Finally, with reference to concerns that Pedro's arm or elbow or shoulder could blow at any moment, what pitcher in baseball DOESN'T come with the risk that he's going to suffer a serious arm/shoulder/elbow injury over the course of a four year contract? It's a gamble, it's a risk, blabla. The Wilpons have plenty of money, I don't want to hear it. Fat Mo was a gamble and a risk. Pedro is one of baseball's better pitchers. If Omar can sign him and it's as reasonable as $52 million over four years, I say do it!

As documented, Tim Hudson is available in a trade. Tim Hudson has made 130 starts over four years for a total of 901 innings. That's an average of just about 7 innings an outing. He will turn 30 middle of next season, whereas Pedro will still be 33. Over the last four seasons, he's 61 games to Pedro's 57. He will cost the Mets something they don't have the luxury of spending: prospects. The only real prospect the Mets might be willing to trade is Jose Reyes. If the Mets sign Pedro, (yes, they'll surrender a draft pick) but they can keep Hamstring Jose Reyes and hope he improves - hell, now that the Mets have changed their medical staff along with their training staff, why not? If Hamstring Jose, who by all accounts, is tearing up the Dominican League (hitting .339 (21-for-62) with a home run and six RBIs through 14 games for Gigantes del Cibao)now that he's being helped by New Orleans-based fitness guru Mackie Shilstone, can play a full season, he's worth two Tim Hudsons.

The best option is still to sign Pedro.

So there you have it for today's rumours, sportsfans. I'd have a look at Magglio Ordonez before I'd pay the big bucks for Delgado or Sexson because the Red Sox are shopping Doug Mientkiewicz and he is a cheaper option for first base, the logic being that unless they trade Piazza, the Mets don't really need Delgado/Sexson at first PLUS Piazza PLUS Ordonez. They do need Pedro, especially now that Omar is putting all his eggs in one pitching basket. Of course, if they can unload Floyd on some unlucky team, they could use Ordonez even more and then might also want Sexson, the cheaper option at first. How about that batting order?

Reyes - ss
Kaz - 2B
Sexson - 1B
Piazza - C
Ordonez - RF
Wright - 3B
Cameron - CF
Leftfield platoon

Starting rotation of Pedro, Glavine, Benson, Trachsel and Zambrano. Tweak the bullpen and these are the NL East favourites. O heady days of winter!

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