16.11.06

Trades In A Minor Key

"IT is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day 5
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures, life may perfect be."


from Ben Jonson A Part Of An Ode



Now that the naming of the stadium controversy has subsided, blindsided as it were by a "bold" pair of roster moves involving our Mets and the Padres, I can happily proclaim the Mets to have just traded for a major English Renaissance dramatist and poet...

Aha, not Ben Jonson but Ben Johnson.

This is all so confusing. Not CitiPark but CitiField. CitiPark, unlike the new Mets stadium, is a parking facility in Vancouver. CitiField, unlike the parking facility in Vancouver, is a blueprint befitting a millenium of Mets domination to come. (and having spewn a rant about corporate sponsorship once already on the naming of the new Mets home, that is all I have to say on the matter other than Let's Go Mets...

So onward to Hermano Omar's recent deal which on its face appears to be minor and insignificant but given a handful of other transactions which he has handled, it would appear any new Met is a potentially significant Met just waiting to sail under the radar and make us think in July or August, damn, that Omar is a clever git.

Losses

Two relievers of questionable authority. Royce Ring who will forever be linked in my mind with the better-late-than-never dumping of Roberto Alomar and who spent a schitzophrenic season between the Big City and Norfolk recently, was already left unprotected at least once in the Rule V draft so giving him yet another change of scenery is no shocking news.

The other reliever, Heath Bell, however disappointing he was this season past, was once renowned for the empathy he invoked (see Save Heath Bell), a poignant schrie for a once-potential "first rate set-up man" joins his bullpen brother and at least two other former Mets (Cameron and Piazza, tho Piazza may be plying his charms in the American League next season) in the dull lustre of San Diego for the mini Mets.

Verdict - although this doesn't quite reach the scope of "Addition by Subtraction" it is a sign that the Mets bullpen is going to aspire to even higher peaks next season, shedding dead weight like an ageing athlete in search of one more fleeting moment of glory.

Gains

Although not the English Renaissance dramatist and poet, Ben Johnson, the outfielder, the Xavier Nady-in waiting, is another prospect whose prospects have never quite reached the dizzying heights once expected.

Ducksnorts once mused:

"Johnson is an excellent athlete who has a good mix of power and speed. He will take a walk but hits from behind in the count too often; also, his swing sometimes gets a shade long. In the field, the former high school football star features a strong arm and decent range, although he is sometimes erratic, which is not unusual for such a young player. If he gains better control of the strike zone and settles down in the field, Johnson could be a fixture in right field and the #5 hole for the Padres by late 2003. His upside is roughly a cross between Andruw Jones and Brian Jordan."


Well, it's no longer 2003, not by a long shot and time has sifted through Mr Johnson's disappointing episode with the Padres to deem him at the moment, at worst, a platoonish sort of outfielder and at best, the second coming of Xavier Nady, which he probably already experienced once in his career and how many outfielders can really say that about themselves?

To his credit, he once decimated the Pacific Coast League, something neither you or I can claim. His other claims to fame:

"Ben was selected as the 1999 Memphis area high school Player of the Year. He was drafted in the 4th round by the Cardinals (along with Albert Pujols) and His granddad (Jimmy 'Jimbo' Johnson, a catcher with the White Sox), his dad (went to college on a football scholarship and played other sports as well) and his uncles (all of whom played some sports, including fast-pitch softball)." from the Madres luncheon.

The other tomato can in this deal was reliever Jon Adkins.

By all accounts, Adkins is well, another version of the two relievers just jettisoned. He's a righty, like Bell and his claim to fame just might be that he played an initial roll in last season's much-hyped Dodgers Amazing Comeback against the Padres by giving off a lead off homer to Jeff Kent and then following that up by giving up another homer to JD Drew.

Verdict - Wait and see. On the surface this is a very unexciting trade. But if you can recall back to 23rd December last year when the Mets made a very tiny splash by announcing the signing of Endy Chavez and look how that ended up.

*****

El Duque - at $12 million for 2 years this is hardly a steal for a guy who didn't even put in a postseason appearance for the Mets. But he would have started Game One of the 2006 World Series had the Mets gotten that far and frankly, that would have been a welcomed relief so unless the starting rotation is massively boosted by a series of off season signings, this was pretty much a no-brainer. In May we may be moaning about how auld he is when his ERA sits at 7.45 and he's 0-2 with a sore calf but if the Mets harbour aspirations to return to the postseason, even at his advanced age, the Duke is a savvy vet to lean on provided his aging muscles don't break down first.

Jose Valentin - $3.8 million to return to the Mets for 2007, another man potentially prone to age and fatigue even though Omar sez "Jose Valentin is our second baseman today" and that Valentin will play "pretty much every day," let's hope that "today" is GMese for "until we find a more promising replacement" and "every day" means "when necessary."

*****

It's the beginning of a bad off season for Willie Randolph. Firstly, we're well into November and he hasn't had his contract extended nor does it appear there is interest in giving him his coveted three year deal. That's what following chum like Art Howe, whom the Mets were paying more NOT to manage the Mets than they were paying Randolph to manage the Mets last year, gets you.

To make matters worse, he was beat out by Joe Girardi, who is no longer even a manager, as the NL Manager of the Year.

But, he might find some schadenfreude in the news that the man who beat him in the NLCS, Tony La Russa, the man who managed the World Champions, didn't even get a single vote for Manager of the Year. (Explained of course by the fact that such votes were tallied on the heels of the Cardinals' illustrious fade that nearly knocked them out of the postseason altogether rather than after his team shocked the pundits by winning it all.)

2 comments:

sanchez said...

these kinds of trades are just trades to pass the time away. none of these guys are going to matter in 6 months.

jdon said...

probably neither one of these guys starts the season with the team. omar just had an itchy trigger finger.