Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hot Stove 101

I belong to a small Mets e-mail circle amongst some friends. During the season, it consists mainly of state of the team kind of missives fired at each other every few weeks. It's also where my annual Mets Report Card began, something I've continued at the current time. When I'm feeling salty (or uninspired), I may post a previous year's report card just for shits and giggles, but that's neither here nor there.

At any rate, with the offseason in full swing, I've found myself deluged with e-mails suggesting different ways the Mets can improve themselves. Now, I should mention that, along with myself, the major contributors to this circle are as follows:

Subject A: Likes to kick off debates by suggesting a barrage of moves, each one resulting from the previous, as if a chain reaction.

Subject B: Disagrees with everything. Way too into Sabermetrics. Also was way to into Benny Agbayani and, after him, Timo Perez.

Subject C: Has been saying the Mets "Need to go young" for the past decade.

Subject D: Just the facts, please (This is me).

There are also some lesser figures in this circle, who often remain sideline to these debates, which, believe me, can become long winded. Hot Stove Baseball simply does not exist without a week-long string borne out of the suggestion of a series of ridiculous trades that wouldn't ever happen, and such a string began this past weekend, meaning that it's officially Hot Stove time.

Now, bear in mind that I don't quite understand the thought process that goes into these deals, but Subject A kicked things off by suggesting the following:

1) "Trade Delgado to the Angels for Justin Speier, Erick Aybar, and a player to be named. The PTBN should be a minor league hitter with on-base skills and poor athleticism -- an A's kind of layer, not an Angels kind of player."

2) "Trade Scott Schoeneweis, Luis Castillo and cash to the Diamondbacks for Chad Tracy. (They don't need Tracy, he'll cost them $5 mil, and they need a 2B and 'pen lefty. Veterans may also appeal to them. We'll eat some of Castillo's contract.)"

3) "Trade Aaron Heilman, Eddie Kunz, and the PTBN to Oakland for Huston Street and Justin Duchscherer."

Within minutes, my BlackBerry was abuzz with riotous discussion, where Subject B was advocating that Subject A be fed to the wolves while the Mets deal for JJ Putz, sign Chad Cordero, trade for Javier Vazquez and sign Bobby Abreu to play LF. Subject C blasts this as utter insanity, as Daniel Murphy needs to play, and needs to play 150 games wherever he ends up playing, be it against RHP or LHP. He figures this to be in LF, since there was a minor blurb on Rotoworld stating that Murphy's defense at 2B in the Arizona Fall League was "Less than Stellar."

I decide it's time for me to chime in. I read on Rotoworld (and you can read the same thing on your lower right hand side) that a deal with Tampa involving Aaron Heilman for Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson was in the works. I figure this should throw a nice curveball into the discussion.

Subject A is still stuck on this supposed deal for Duchscherer. By Monday afternoon, the Matt Holliday deal has been made, meaning Oakland has sufficiently gutted its pitching staff to make a Duchscherer deal make even less sense for them. Knowing he's finally beat on this end, he decides to come completely out of left field and suggest that the Mets go after Trevor Hoffman. Trevor Hoffman! A 41-year old Closer who displayed frightening inconsistency and is showing signs of wear after a 17-year career. This as a potential alternative should talks with Brian Fuentes go sour.

This is one of those suggestions that makes me crazy, since I believe that the Mets have erred the past few seasons in relying too heavily on older players. I state that the only advantage to having Hoffman on the team is that the fans will get really fired up when they play AC/DC every 9th inning when Hoffman comes into the game.

Nobody agrees with me. Only Subject B seems to be even somewhat against the move, reluctantly agreeing that "Cheap and short-term sounds good to me." He then immediately jumps back to Murphy playing 2B, and that even if his defense is barely passable, he should get a shot at 2B. It's not, he states, as though Murphy is a natural in LF. Subject A agrees, and tosses Rickie Weeks into the mix, inferring that the Brewers "may be fed up" with him. Everyone agrees that this would be a great move, assuming that the Brewers could be suckered into Heilman. Stranger things have happened; they did take Guillermo Mota off our hands last year.

Since Subject A's suggestion of Weeks went over so well, he's feeling good, so he decides to toss Milton Bradley's name out there as a solution in LF. Subject C would love to roll the dice on Bradley, headcase be damned. Subject B, however, is wholeheartedly against the move. Subject B isn't a fan of the dreaded "clubhouse cancer," despite the fact that Bradley had no problems in Texas. He quickly compares Bradley to the likes of Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman and Bret Saberhagen. As if to dangle a carrot in front of Subject B's face, Subject C slyly remarks that none of those guys led the league in OPS the previous season. OPS being the magic word, the one that makes Subject B drool and Subject D want to kick him in the teeth.

On that note, the entire discussion takes a brief hiatus for the night. We have to sleep sometime, don't we?

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