The Two Roys, Weaver And…Igarashi?

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Rangers sign Roy Oswalt.

At least now we don’t have to endure the daily updates of Oswalt’s movements—taking out the garbage; playing golf; huntin’-n-fishin’.

Neftali Feliz is hurt and they have the hole in the rotation. The Rangers are no longer judged on whether they have a good regular season, but what they do in the playoffs and Oswalt is an experienced playoff performer. The Rangers have the defense, offense and bullpen to keep the pressure off of Oswalt to be anything more than competent.

Oswalt will make $4.25 million and Ron Darling just said on the Mets’ broadcast that he’ll get a $1 million bonus when he makes his tenth start.

It’s a good move for the Rangers and for us that we no longer have to hear about Oswalt as a lazy story when there’s nothing else to write about.

Roy Halladay is gone for 6-8 weeks.

Halladay was feeling pain in the back of his shoulder and has been diagnosed with a strained latissimus dorsi. The lat muscle is located below the shoulder and extends from mid-back and to underarm.

That’s not the shoulder.

Was Halladay saying it was the back of his shoulder when it was really his upper back? The back of the shoulder and lat are not all that close to one another.

Overall the Phillies and Halladay are better off with a lat injury as opposed to a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t alter the time they’ll be without one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball. The talk that the Phillies were possible sellers at the trading deadline was ridiculous when it was first floated a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s not so crazy to think they’ll be so far out of contention by late July that they start listening seriously to offers for Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.

Jered Weaver’s Twitter diagnosis.

Weaver left his start against the Yankees in the first inning with a strained lower back, but according to Twitter it was everything from a knee to an ankle to his elbow to his shoulder. This is the danger of social media and it’s not limited to fans. Sometimes those who are actually in the media and whose job it is to be accurate go over the edge in trying to get the story out there before anyone else and run with a rumor before it’s been verified.

Weaver’s been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Back injuries are tricky and it could be something long term or it could be a strain. The advantage that highly-paid athletes have over you and me is that they have access to cutting edge treatments and medications to get them back on the field.

Hopefully Weaver won’t be scouring Twitter for remedies.

Yankees claim Ryota Igarashi.

Yeah. I don’t know why either.

There’s signing people for organizational depth and there’s signing people because they have a functioning arm and a pulse. Igarashi is the latter.

I thought it was impossible, but Brian Cashman’s pitching assessments are getting worse and worse.

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Considering Isringhausen

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Should the Mets think about Jason Isringhausen as closer for 2012?

Almost a month ago when they traded Francisco Rodriguez, Isringhausen was considered the veteran stopgap before they decided what they were really going to do. Most of the focus centered around Bobby Parnell, but Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta and Ryota Igarashi have all gotten long looks in innings prior to the ninth. Beato had a chance to close a game but a failed double play necessitated the use of Tim Byrdak to finish.

Would Isringhausen be an inexpensive, veteran option to start the season in 2012?

His arm is duct-taped together and he’s about to turn 39; his numbers are mediocre if you take them at face value; but he’s been a good-humored leader in the clubhouse; has done everything asked of him; has pitched well enough that if age and injury-history weren’t factored in, he’d be an obvious choice to stay and continue in the role. He strikes out a fair amount of hitters and throws strikes; there would be a seamless transition once they move on to someone else.

His stuff isn’t as impressive as K-Rod’s was, but what I call the “aggravation factor” (no, it’s not a stat) is diminished with Isringhausen. You pretty much know what you’re getting—he allows a homer here and there; is going to blow a few games; and doesn’t get in trouble just for the sake of it as K-Rod does—and for the most part, will do his job.

There will be numerous closer-types available next season, but given what the Mets front office believes, they’re not going to overpay for a mediocrity when they could find someone from within who’d do the same job at a lower salary; nor are they going to spend the money and draft picks for a Jonathan Papelbon or Heath Bell; they’re not going to trade the exorbitant player-price demanded for Joakim Soria.

Parnell is too inconsistent to be trusted as a set-up man, so using him as a closer could be disastrous especially to start a season; the others are question marks and the Mets have no young minor league fireballer like the Braves did with Craig Kimbrel.

Would the Mets be better off taking a chance on a Brad Lidge or Fernando Rodney than Isringhausen? By digging through the scrapheap to find another arm the way they did with him and Beato?

If they’re going to do that, they should just keep Izzy.

Such a thought would’ve been seen as ridiculous a few weeks ago, but given what’s out there and the way this Mets team is being rebuilt, it’s not so ridiculous anymore.

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Poof!!! Alderson Makes K-Rod Disappear From The Mets

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Marine.

Lawyer.

Baseball GM.

Magician.

Somehow, some way Mets GM Sandy Alderson got rid of Francisco Rodriguez and his onerous contract without having to eat a significant chunk of it.

He even got two players to be named later back from the Brewers in exchange for K-Rod.

It’s pure genius.

Not genius in the crafted and farcical Moneyball sense of the word, but in a practical application of what needed to be done to make the Mets better in a timely fashion.

In part because of the onerous $17.5 million contract option that was in serious jeopardy of being activated if and when he finished 55 games this season (and was deemed healthy—evidently physically and not mentally); that the club loathed him for his inexplicable assault on his father-in-law in the Citi Field family room last August; and that they have to see what they have in Bobby Parnell as a closer, K-Rod had to go.

Did the pitcher’s decision to fire agent Paul Kinzer and hire Scott Boras have anything to do with Alderson acting so decisively in getting rid of him two weeks before the trading deadline? Possibly. Boras was already saber-rattling with demands as to where K-Rod wanted to go via trade even though his contract only stipulated 10 teams to whom he couldn’t be traded without his consent. The Brewers weren’t on the list. Boras is going to have a say in what happens with Carlos Beltran when (not if) the Mets deal him as well—I doubt Alderson wanted to spend the entire month of July with Boras squawking in the newspapers, websites and in his ear.

According to Jon Heyman, the Mets tossed $5 million into the pot along with K-Rod. This greased the skids to get the deal done and may have yielded better prospects than expected. For a pitcher who was a release candidate when (again, not if) the Mets start to fade, at least they got something and didn’t have to go through the legal nightmare that undoubtedly would’ve ensued had they released K-Rod in August to prevent him from reaching the contract incentive.

Regardless of what they’re getting back, this was a great maneuver on the part of Alderson.

Jason Isringhausen will presumably get a chance to close for the next couple of weeks until he too is traded. He’s a popular player with Mets fans and is 7 saves away from 300—the number seems important to Isringhausen. The same fans reviled K-Rod and wanted him gone. Reaction to the trade has been mostly positive.

After that, we’ll see.

Will they give Parnell a chance at closing? Or will they look at Pedro Beato, Manny Acosta, Ryota Igarashi or some combination of the group?

They’ll be free to do anything. They can even use a modified bullpen-by-committee based on the matchups. None of the above-mentioned pitchers—including Isringhausen—are in a position to demand to “know their roles”, a familiar and viable lament among veteran relievers.

The Mets won’t be beholden to this concept because all of these pitchers are either journeymen or youngsters who are trying to hold onto their jobs—that more than anything is the tipping point of the failure of a bullpen-by-committee.

This trade will be perceived as the Mets giving up on the 2011 season.

But giving up on what exactly?

Did anyone really believe they were contenders?

Really?

In a division with the Phillies and Braves and 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card lead, they weren’t a factor in the playoff race with or without K-Rod. To keep with the magic-related theme, it made no sense to proffer an illusion and placate a delusional segment of the fan base, thereby harming the franchise even more for 2012 and beyond by letting K-Rod reach 55 games finished and activate his option.

It was better to make him disappear.

This was the right move all around and a master stroke from Sandy the Magician—the man who made K-Rod go POOF!! to the joy of Metsville.

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Your 2011 New York Mets

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We’ve seen this story before.

It’s gone on since 2007 when the rickety foundation showed cracks all season long before it came crashing down with the September collapse.

The Mets will waste good work from a few of their players with a late-inning stumble and embarrassing mishap on the bases, in the field or at the plate; they’ll mount a furious comeback only to fall short.

It’s the template and you’d better get used to it if you haven’t already.

Last night was another example of the Mets relentless self-sabotage. The failure to complete relatively simple pitcher-to-catcher force/tag plays is indicative of what’s gone on with the team since 2007. Both Ryota Igarashi and Bobby Parnell couldn’t execute a throw to the catcher on a grounder back to the mound—a play that is practiced ad nauseam in spring training and should be second nature to any big league competitor.

Igarashi’s errant throw with one out and the bases loaded caused catcher Josh Thole to jump off the plate; he had to scramble back to force the runner at home and had no chance for a 1-2-3 double play. The next batter, Carlos Gonzalez, broke his bat and singled through hole at shortstop due to the exaggerated shift; two runs scored to tie the game.

Parnell simply threw the ball over Thole’s head and allowed the go-ahead run to score in the top of the eighth inning. Troy Tulowitzki then homered to make the score 7-4.

As is customary, the Mets scored 2 runs in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 7-6 and that’s how it ended.

I’m not sure what people were expecting from this Mets team.

GM Sandy Alderson has done the right thing in eschewing the quick fix advocated by the likes of Mike Francesa and the newspaper writers.

What was he supposed to do? Repeat the mistakes of Omar Minaya and the prior regime and overspend to make a splash that wasn’t going to alter the team’s fate one way or the other?

The difference between a team like the Rockies and these Mets is that the Rockies take advantage of the other team’s mistakes and the Mets make the mistakes.

Anyone who looked at this transitioning group and thought they were going to contend was engaging in bizarre fantasy.

This season is about keeping the tradeable pieces like Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran healthy; finding a few scrapheap reclamation projects; and sifting through the various messes that accumulated since 2003.

Don’t act stunned or indignant because you were warned.

Regarding Francesa, you can hear the bitterness and vengeful attacks against the Mets as he ramps up the rhetoric and fans the flames of fan discontent.

Is it a true reaction to the team’s play and off-season inaction? Or is he being his normal two-faced self as he unleashes on the team on-air and is nothing by kind and conciliatory when a member of the organization is a guest on his show?

Francesa is a notorious frontrunner who used his relationship with Minaya as a justification for saying whatever he wanted about the former GM without fear of reprisal. The gentlemanly Minaya may have thought it was a legitimate “friendship” when it was Francesa triangulating his position.

“I like Omar,” as a Francesa justification for being “honest”.

Wariness with the media is the wise course of action in any circumstance, but this is worse because Francesa is clearly retaliating for the Mets new hierarchy refusing to kowtow to his bullying; not only that, Alderson and manager Terry Collins have had the sheer audacity to hit him back!

We’ve seen this for years with Francesa. The closeness with former Giants and Jets coach Bill Parcells was both inappropriate and mutually advantageous.

I couldn’t care less who’s friends with whom, but Parcells was also a bully whose demeanor intimidated the media at large; his success gave him a hammer to shun those who he perceived as threats to his autocratic rule over the city. Francesa had insider’s access to Parcells’s operation because of the relationship and never criticized “the coach”.

Naturally it undermined credibility.

The Francesa Mets bashing is going to grow incrementally worse by the summer, but if you look through the subterfuge you can see what’s going on.

On the bright side for the Mets, the new front office is neither reactionary nor desperate for the media/fan approval at the expense of doing what’s right for the organization. A large part of that is enduring the current atmosphere.

The Mets fans who are upset about the team’s play need to realize that it’s all for the greater good. The quick-fixes and coziness with the media—exacerbated by Minaya’s likability and desire to be liked—didn’t work.

They’re on the right track now whether it shows up immediately on the field or in the stands.

Endure.

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Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here (coincidentally, it’s the section about the Mets).

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.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

I’ve started a Facebook fan page. Click on the link.


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Mets DFA Boyer; Recall Isringhausen And Igarashi

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What the Mets were expecting from Blaine Boyer is a mystery.

There are players for whom you look beyond their statistics and decide to give them a chance even if it’s at the expense of more proven commodities; but Boyer was a journeyman reliever with poor strikeout/control numbers before joining the Mets and that’s what he was with the Mets—beard, goatee, clean-shaven or whatever.

It made little sense to keep Boyer and run the risk of losing the younger and better Manny Acosta and letting proven veteran Jason Isringhausen retire or go to another club.

The Mets were lucky that Acosta got through waivers and is still with the organization; that Isringhausen was willing to hang around extended spring training for a couple of weeks before making a decision to retire or go to another team. Had the Mets not recalled Isringhausen, he’d shown enough that another team was going to pick him up.

In addition to Isringhausen, the Mets recalled Ryota Igarashi and optioned Lucas Duda to Triple A Buffalo—ESPN Story.

Despite struggles and injuries last season and his status as a forgotten man this spring, Igarashi has a power fastball and strikeout stuff; he showed flashes last season and has the potential to be a useful component.

I’m all in with finding journeyman-type relievers like Boyer and giving them a chance to pitch well out of the bullpen—that’s the proper way to build a bullpen inexpensively and intelligently; but it can’t be at the expense of better options; that’s exactly what Igarashi, Isringhausen and Acosta are.

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Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available and will be useful for your fantasy leagues all season long. Plus I write, um….good.

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 also out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll hash out the details.

I’ve started a Facebook fan page. Like it today.


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