12.13.2004

Come right out and meet the Mets



Nothing is official , but I suppose no trade is truly official until after Billy Beane is asked if he wants to be included. Nothing has been signed, although I have no doubt that the Mets sent a couple of six pack of Mont Blancs. Nothing at this point is definite, but there is a good chance that come April, Pedro will be throwing the opener at Shea with Sammy behind him in right.

Admittedly, the Mets were 26th in the league in runs scored and 28th in hits. However, over this same period, they were pathetic in several other statistical categories, including fifth in strikeouts (in their lineup), 19th in walks, and 28th in OBP. Truthfully, it's hard to know where to start if you're the Mets. They rank 28th in fielding percentage, but eighth in ERA. They were 26th in strikeouts (by their pitching staff), fifth in walks given up, and 27th in saves. Just to toss in one more stat, the Mets were 15th (dead middle of the league) in homeruns hit.

This is not a problem with an easy solution. The easiest part is identifying what does not need to be done. I see only one thing. The Mets need not take any drastic steps to reduce staff ERA. The ERA was spread evenly across the staff, so neither starters nor relievers carried or hindered the team. One very obvious problem is that of saves. Looper was fairly consistent (29 of 34) but blown saves are scattered through the bullpen, 6 from Mike Stanton and 4 from Ricky Bottalico with five others floating around. Those fifteen blown saves in the hands of a more capable, more durable closer could have been turned easily into ten more wins, enough to move the Mets to .500. While a dominant starter is certianly an ambitious move, it may not be the most oportune one, especially when Mets pitchers are hamstrung by a defense that rivals the current EPA in both agressiveness and effectiveness. If the Mets really wanted to improve their staff, they should have found some competent, tough relievers and, most importantly, they should have held onto Scott Kazmir. At a bare minimum, his trade potential would have skyrocketed given the current state of free agent pitchers on the market. With the exceptions of Johnson and Martinez, the pitching market is composed of possible or current number two and three starters. If Kazmir would have posted a few good starts with the Mets at the end of the year after they were out of the running, he could have brough considerable compensation to the Mets. I fault the Mets in no way for signing Pedro, though, as he is a quality pitcher who is definite to give a team five more wins a season over the average starter. However, I think there are other, larger holes to fill, especially on defense and offensive consistency.

None of the offensive categories that the Mets are deficient in (R, H, K, BB, and AVG) are categories that Sosa will help substantially in. His defense is average, but does nothing to help an error prone, weak throwing outfield. He will add some spash to a team with the personality of cardboard, surly cardboard, but if he leaves Chicago with bad blood, I have the feeling that some of those feelings will carry over, and New York sports fans are the least forgiving people on the face of the Earth. It has been mentioned ad nauseam that Sosa's gentle, senstitve persona will be in conflict with the New York fans. I can see the same sort of issues with Pedro, who is extremely susceptible to his emotions. Sosa's and Redro's high maintenance personalities will be targets if the Mets underachieve, as they are alsmot certian to do.

Now, finishing this on the morning of the 14th, the Pedro trade is official and I expect Sosa's name to find its way back into the hot stove conversations by tomorrow. No matter if they win or lose, I can say something about the Mets' season this year that usually can't be said. It's going to be interesting.

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