Heath Bell’s Benefit In Announcing This Is What?

All Star Game, Draft, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Prospects, Trade Rumors

Is this meant to be a threat? Simple honesty? Someone who is bolstering his reputation as a loudmouth and flake?

Heath Bell came out and said that if the Padres offer him arbitration after the season, he’s going to take it rather than explore free agency—MLBTradeRumors.

The purpose of this is anyone’s guess. Is he trying to discourage them from offering it so he can secure a long-term contract from someone else without that club surrendering compensatory draft picks? Is he trying to make sure he gets through waivers in August? (He won’t.) Does he really want to stay in San Diego to the degree that he’d shun a 3-year contract elsewhere?


Along with his bizarre behavior in the All Star Game in which he sprinted in from the bullpen and slid into the grass near the mound, Bell’s decision to say this publicly enhances the reputation as a loudmouth he carted over from the Mets.

For years the Mets have been savaged for trading Bell with the implication that they never gave him a chance—Bell’s used this as fuel. It’s not true, but that’s neither here nor there; he didn’t get along with Rick Peterson and he didn’t pitch well. These are facts.

Much like his declining strikeout numbers, it’s taken out of context. A personality clash and poor performance resulted in the Mets making a bad trade of Bell. Trading Bell wasn’t the mistake; trading him for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins was.

What has to be examined when looking at Bell is his stuff, not his strikeout numbers. This is why pure stat examination will never fully replace the scouting eye and discernment of veteran baseball men. If Bell’s velocity and stuff are of the same quality as they were in previous years, there has to be another reason or reasons that he’s not accumulating strikeouts with the frequency he once did.

Bell would probably get a good contract somewhere as a free agent…unless teams look at those declining K numbers and off-the-wall statements and behaviors and decide they don’t want to deal with him.

Then what’s he going to do?

Blame the Mets? Rick Peterson is nowhere to be seen. Or heard.

But Bell apparently is. And he’s letting everyone know it.


Mets Have To Check In On Colby Rasmus

All Star Game, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, MLB Trade Deadline, Players, Trade Rumors

So deep into Tony LaRussa‘s spacious, entrance only doghouse; so far out of favor with the Cardinals has fallen Colby Rasmus that it’s being said that they’re shopping him.

There are different levels to “shopping him”. In extreme cases, the phrase means “we gotta get this guy outta here”; in some, it’s “let’s move him now before he declines any further; in others, it’s “we need ‘X’ to compete for a championship now and the easiest way to get that is by dealing ‘Y’ and worrying about the consequences later”.

Whatever the reason, Rasmus is available and the Mets have to check in on him.

What would it take? With the statement from none other than Joel Sherman in the above-linked piece (grains of salt at the ready) that the Cardinals are asking for a “ton”, Rasmus won’t be easily attainable; but what are the Cardinals asking for?

Could the Mets convince the Cardinals that Carlos Beltran, Bobby Parnell and Fernando Martinez for say Rasmus, Bryan Anderson and Maikel Cleto would be a sufficient return?

Beltran could mean the difference between a playoff spot in 2011 or 4th place for the Cardinals.

It’s no guarantee that Beltran would want to leave St. Louis once he’s there nor ask for an absurd contract to stay—many players have been traded to the Cardinals and taken short money to preclude free agency because they enjoyed it so much; plus he’s a LaRussa-type of player. Beltran would also be a viable fallback/threat to Albert Pujols‘s prospective free agency. They could keep Lance Berkman and shift him to first base and install Beltran in right field with Jon Jay in center in the unlikely event of Pujols leaving.

After his breakout season in 2010, Angel Pagan has reverted into being, well, Angel Pagan. A flash of brilliance here; an injury to keep him out for weeks there; and a rockhead play like the one he pulled against the same Cardinals in which he tried to double a runner off first….by throwing the ball to Cardinals first base coach Dave McKay.

He’s not the long-term solution in center for the Mets.

Maybe Rasmus is.


Precision Strikes 5.12.2011

Books, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Let’s try some short bursts of….stuff.

More Mets-style bad luck in Anaheim.

I said at the time of Angels first baseman Kendry Morales‘s ankle injury (incurred when leaping onto home plate to celebrate a game-winning homer) that it was the type of thing that heretofore only happened to the Mets.

Now it’s gotten worse as Morales’s ankle isn’t healing sufficiently and he needs season-ending surgery to repair it.

It was a stupid injury in an innocuous situation and it might have ruined Morales’s career. There’s no lamentation necessary. It happened and not much can be done other than hope this new surgery works to fix Morales.

This is slightly out of context.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson discounted the notion that the Mets would trade Jose Reyes and then try to re-sign him as a free agent after the season—MLBTradeRumors.

One of the reasons Alderson mentions is the lack of history of teams trading a player and then re-signing him as a free agent.

What’s missed is how many teams actually even attempted to re-sign a player they traded immediately following the season.

Austin Kearns returned to the Indians after last season; Jim Thome was ready to return to the White Sox after 2009; but apart from that, how often has there been an avid pursuit of a player like Reyes who’s in his prime and set to go for a Carl Crawford-style payday?

I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

Bartolo Colon‘s succes “explained”?

Bartolo Colon’s treatment in coming back from injuries is detailed here in this NY Times Story.

What this means is anyone’s guess. It seems to be working for now. I’m highly dubious about Colon for the long term and I’m guessing reality will hit within the next month.

The doctor in question looks like he wants attention and/or clients; MLB is “investigating”, which shouldn’t inspire much confidence considering history and the “don’t ask/don’t tell” nature of prior PED “investigations”.

What I find most striking in the Times piece is the following:

Colon, whose English is limited, answered only, “I don’t know, I don’t know,” in Spanish when asked last week about his medical treatment in the Dominican Republic.

Bartolo Colon has been in the big leagues since 1997.

He still doesn’t speak English?



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A Diet Coke Sitz Bath

Books, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Mike Francesa has always had an ego; such was expressed in a 1996 Sports Illustrated profile in which former WFAN program director Mark Mason said it was as “big as all outdoors”; but there’s a difference between believing what you so so fervently that you present it in a matter-of-fact way and don’t care one way or the other as to the reaction or response and not listening to dissent or acknowledging being wrong.

There’s something to be said for, “this is what I think; and if you don’t like it, too bad.”

But there’s a line between confidence and self-indulgent narcissism.

Francesa crossed that line long ago.

Now, he’s ventured into the world of arrogance meeting obfuscation meeting Diet Coke.

Interpreting what the subject of an interview is really saying by reading between the lines is an important part of being in the media; but twisting what the person said to suit one’s own needs is not only inaccurate, but it’s unprofessional.

Two years ago, the Mets had gotten off to a good start over the first 50 games and Francisco Rodriguez was fantastic early in the season; this was before injuries ravaged the entire team and relegated them to a laughingstock as 2009 was the next step in the downward spiral that they’re now trying to repair with a new baseball braintrust.

On the West Coast, Brian Fuentes was closing games for the Angels as K-Rod’s replacement; he got off to a terrible start and Francesa, discussing the Angels, Mets and K-Rod, said something to the tune of the Angels had openly admitted their mistake in letting K-Rod leave.

This struck me as a huge story. A team allowed their homegrown free agent closer to leave—the same closer who had set a record for saves in the previous year—and was now confessing that it was a mistake a month into the next season?

Wouldn’t that cause a tremor and aftershocks in the Angels clubhouse with Fuentes? With his teammates? With other players around baseball who would think it odd that the team was burying one of their players in favor of the one he replaced?

It was unheard of.

It was unheard of for a very good reason—it wasn’t true.

I scoured the web, searching for various stories in the California papers, ESPN, MLBTradeRumors and other sites to see if there was anything anywhere that indicated the Angels expressing regret—publicly—that they replaced K-Rod with Fuentes.

I didn’t find anything because it didn’t exist. Not even the worst-run teams in sports are going to allow themselves to be quoted ripping one of their players in favor of a former player—one they chose to let go.

Is it possible that someone told Francesa privately that the Angels regretted letting K-Rod go? Of course, but he didn’t provide any background to the assertion other than that the Angels regretted it and left it there as if his simple utterance was good enough for everyone to accept it.

It was a factoid. Not a fact.

Francesa’s gotten worse as he’s been left alone to do his own show without a partner to check him on the things he says that are in the realm of megalomania/egomania. I was no fan of Chris Russo, but he performed that function.

The dismissals of callers has gone on ad infinitum; but Francesa’s become delusional.

This week alone he made two ridiculous statements that are easily torn to shreds by anyone who has a basic concept of baseball.

His ironclad decree that the Yankees will always be able to stay toward the top of baseball because of their financial might sounds like it would come from a die-hard fan and not one who is supposedly the expert baseball analyst Francesa thinks he is.

Did he miss this past off-season in which the prize of the free agent crop, Cliff Lee, spurned the higher offer from the Yankees to go back to the Phillies because he was familiar with the team and atmosphere and straight out thought that the Phillies had a better chance to win?

Has he been paying attention to the new trend clubs (and players) are employing in signing long-term contracts to prevent said players from ever seeing free agency? It just happened with Ryan Braun and had previously occurred with Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Howard.

Here’s the math: the more young players who sign long-term deals to preclude their first few years of arbitration/free agency, the fewer will be available to sign with the Yankees or anyone else; nor will they be available via trade. Revenue sharing has allowed teams to spend money they heretofore didn’t have to try and compete with the Yankees.

Do you really think that Tim Lincecum is ever going to be a free agent while he’s still healthy and in his prime? That Felix Hernandez will be traded to the Yankees simply because the Yankees want him?

Those days are over and aren’t coming back. All they have to hang onto is their supposedly bursting farm system and the money to buy the aged veterans who are a massive risk—see the offer they made to Carl Pavano.

As for the farm system, you can rave about the “high-end” prospects like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, but as the Phil Hughes injury and team-induced failure of Joba Chamberlain has proven, you cannot automatically expect a player to fulfill his hype just because there have been rules, regulations, news stories and overprotective measures enacted to place him in a box and “guarantee” success.

The Yankees are always going to be contenders?

Does he remember the fall of the Yankees dynasty from 1965 to 1975? When they couldn’t do anything right? It happens more quickly than you realize and all it takes is one crack to slowly allow seepage to poison the whole foundation until it comes crashing to the ground; it can happen to the Yankees; it can happen to anyone.

Age; terrible contracts; failed free agent acquisitions; unfulfilled promise of prospects; bad trades; injuries and the dearth of available replacements all contribute to such a downfall.

The pieces are in place for the Yankees right now.

Then we get to the most egregious of the Francesa assertions: that Mets GM Sandy Alderson had called around to other teams during their 5-13 start to try and clean out the house.

At least that’s what Francesa’s tone implied after his interview with Alderson in which Alderson said he was calling other GMs to “gauge the market”.

There’s a bit of a difference—no, there’s a giant difference—between calling another club and saying, “What are you willing to offer for Jose Reyes; David Wright; K-Rod; the light fixtures; Jeff Wilpon; whatever?” and calling to say, “If you’re ready to deal and we’re still playing like this, call us when the warm weather hits and we’ll talk about anyone.”

It all returns to the Francesa fantasy to “break up da core” of the Mets. He’s wanted it for so long; believes—again as is his right—that it was the right thing to do after the 2008 season and thinks it’s now a bit too late, but still an alternative.

But it’s not due to analysis. It’s the propping up of the self that’s so entrenched in his mind.

“I hafta be right.”

Much like his pre-season predictions in which he made such idiotic declarative statements like “I’ll pick the Twins because I always pick the Twins”, there was no research; no basis; no nothing. Just an agenda based on his own enormous opinion of himself.

It’s getting worse and worse as he transforms from irritating in his arrogance, but making a good point occasionally, to simply formulating stories that don’t exist and living in a universe all his own.


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Please purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

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