One of my most treasured baseball pals is my cousin Gabe. He's the Met fan I always turn to first whenever anything is going on. Here is his take on the Mets' pursuit of Glavine:
Tom Glavine is a red herring, isn't he? I mean, I
like him more than I did at the start of all this, and
I don't have any reason to believe that he wouldn't
win 16 games for the Mets next year. But let's
consider some things:
1. The Mets had a $94 million payroll in 2002 and
2. In spite of this payroll, the Mets didn't have any
basis for expecting to be a great team in 2002. A
competitive team, maybe, but not a great team.
3. It is maybe fair to say that the Mets could not
have expected the complete meltdown of 2002. However,
the notion that most or all of the underachievers will
rebound and propel the Mets into postseason contention
is a bit dubious to me. The Mets are an old team and,
in one or two cases, an overweight team. (Mo is
obviously beyond overweight for an athlete, but Cedeno
and Alfonzo looked way too beefy last year.) Of the
players who underachieved, it is perhaps only safe to
assume that Burnitz and maybe Alomar will rebound.
And in Burnitz's case, his adjusted career norms are
not so much better than his 2002 performance. Mo will
probably be closer to his second half than his first,
but his days of hitting .300 seem long gone.
Meanwhile, Piazza had his worst offensive season.
From a historic standpoint, the fact that his worst
season still left him the best hitting catcher in
baseball is tremendous; however as the centerpiece of
the Mets line-up, he left something to be desired.
Cedeno and Alfonzo had years solidly within their
established parameters. Given all this, even if the
Mets were to win 88-90 games in 2003, they wouldn't
have any basis for expecting to compete with this team
beyond next season.
4. It is not impossible that 2003 will be Tom
Glavine's last great year. Glavine is old and at this
point strikes out few hitters. Pitchers with low
strike out rates tend to deteriorate faster than those
who strike out more than the league average. There
are some exceptions, but not many. If it's true,
Glavine's last great year would coincide with an
imminent, massive, and unpredictable roster turnover.
5. After the 2003 season, the Mets will (one way or
another) be free of the contracts of Burnitz, Ordonez,
Benitez, Franco, and Alomar--about $36 million in
2003, $46 million if they don't sign Glavine. If the
Mets simply play out the string with this roster,
however many games they win, they have the chance to
be off-season monsters next year. $46 million per is
some serious dough. Even if that is an unpredictable
road to take, it seems like it has the potential to be
much more productive in the long run than signing an
6. If we can expect Tom Glavin to win 16 games in
2003 under normal circumstances, how many can we
expect Steve Trachsel to win? I'm gonna say 10-11.
(He's won 11 the last two years.) Now, five games
isn't nothing--it's often the difference between
making the playoffs and not. But it doesn't guarantee
a berth. More importantly, it seems as if the Mets
will have between $27-30 million committed to Glavine
in 2004-2006, when he likely will not be winning
sixteen games a year. If the Mets don't honestly feel
that the acquisition of Tom Glavine all but assures
them a playoff berth in 2003, they should forget about
signing him. If the realistic outcome is winning 84
games instead of 79, it's a bad move. Frankly, it may
be a bad move anyway. There are appropriate and
inappropriate times to break the bank on a free agent.
Even if the Mets make the playoffs with Glavine, the
signing could hinder them for three years. (It's why
trades for people half way thru contracts are usually
more productive signing free agents.)
7. Acquiring Denny Neagle is a bad move.
8. Acquiring Tom Glavine is not a great move. It
would not turn an organization around. Signing a free
agent never turns an organization around. It might
make a good team a championship team, but in the Mets'
case it may be like treating frostbite with a
flashlight. Or something like that. . .
Bob Klapisch updated his take on the Glavine situation last Friday.
I was amused by the talk of a Yankees-Rockies-Mets swap over the weekend. I agree with my cousin; acquiring Denny Neagle would be bad for the Mets. Shea is a good place to pitch, but the vibe is all wrong for a flake like Neagle. Forget Glavine, how much better is a fruitloop like Denny Neagle than ol' Steve Trashcan?
There is a Lovable Loser quality about Traschel. In another baseball lifetime, he could have stepped right out of Ring Lardner's "You Know Me Al". As a matter of fact, you can read Lardner's epistolary novella in the time in takes Traschel to get through the bottom of the 5th.