Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
No Relief
2005-11-25 19:27
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

How do you spell Relief?

Mike Piazza's old spring training Tango partner Guillermo Mota, a talented right-handed set-up reliever who had a down year in 2005 after two fine seasons in 03-04, was included in the Josh Beckett trade at the last moment. According to The Boston Globe:

The Sox, according to a major league source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, threatened to call off the deal because of health concerns over Beckett unless the Marlins included Mota. And so, on the busiest shopping day of the year, the Sox can sit back today pleased with not only a full cart of goods but what appears to be at bargain prices.

In adding the 32-year-old Mota to the deal, the Sox had to sweeten the deal only with Harvey Garcia, a 21-year-old righthander who in 32 games with Single A Greenville last season went 3-5 with a 2.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, the Daily News reports that B.J. Ryan, the hard throwing southpaw coveted by the Yankees and a host of other teams around the league, is close to signing a five-year, $47 million deal to become the closer of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays are also rumored to be hot after starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, and may even trade their erstwhile closer Miguel Batista to the Rangers for Kevin Mench, the only outfielder in the majors with a larger noggin than Godzilla Matui.

Beckett, Mota, Ryan--who'd be moving from Baltimore to Toronto, the chance of Burnett joining him: the AL East is adding some arms. With Billy Wagner set to to ink a big deal either with the Mets or back in Philly, Trevor Hoffman remains as the best high-profile reliver left on the market. I doubt that there is any chance that he'd want to become an eighth inning guy at this stage in his career, what with so many saves already to his name, but he'd be a swell cherce to set-up Rivera. Again, I don't think Hoffman's ego could handle it (understandably so too), but with Ryan gone, it's a nice little fantasy.

With the Cubs spending liberally on set-up men Eyre and Howry, the Yankees are in a tight spot. The big names--even Flash Gordon--may sign elsewhere. If the middle of the road guys are getting $3-4 million, then Gordon is going to get more like $6-8 million, no? That's a lot of cheese. Steve Karsay cheese. I'm not crazy about Farnsworth, but if you signed him Gordon it wouldn't be awful.

Relievers are so funny. A journeyman like Todd Jones can turn around and be lights out one year and then have an ERA of 4.50 the following season. It seems crazy to spend a lot of money on but a few select relief pitchers--guys like Wagner, maybe even Ryan. The other guys, it's a crap shoot. Mota was nasty for two years, had a down season last year, so what will he be in 2006?

Bullpen and centerfield, it's simple the Yankees tell us. That is what they need to address between now and spring training. Though they were not confident that they'd be able to ink Ryan, I wonder what their plan B or plan C is gunna yield. Anyhow, it's exciting to see all Hot Stove movement over the past couple of days, and somewhat unfamiliar to find the Yankees standing off to the side. Their two closest rivals, the Red Sox and the Mets, are clearly out-Yankeein' the Yanks. Still a long ways to go before Opening Day, but the final days of 2005 are providing some interesting results thus far wouldn't you say?

Oh, and one last word on the Sox deal. I'm not familiar enough with the young players they gave up to speak on how they'll pan out for Florida, but I can tell you my impressions of the newest members of the Red Sox. Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota are two easy guys to root against if you are a Yankee fan. Beckett is the goods when he's healthy, a tall, cocky Texan, who already has some pretty nice success against the Bombers. He's good and he's got attitude, perfect for the rivalry. Mota, a hot-tempered slinger should add some fireworks as well. I don't know if he's wised up any since his two confrontations with Piazza but he struck me as a punk in those days. He can be a nasty pitcher, and he's certainly an easy guy to root against.

Mike Lowell, on the other hand, I would find hard to hate under the most extreme circumstances--and this here's the most extreme you can get for a Yankee fan. I won't necessarily root for him, but I think he'll do just fine in Boston. I wouldn't want him to be a disaster. He's a solid citizen and a fine fielder. If he hits .262/.360/.500 with 18 dingers and plays stellar defense, he's going to do more than just fine for the Home Nine.

2005-11-26 06:25:34
1.   debris

I think you're pushing it on Lowell by a bit. The number I can't buy is the .500 slugging. I do see a bounce-back to his 2001-2002 numbers, but not the 2003-2004. The ballpark switch will help, switching leagues will not. As a Sox fan, I'll be quite happy with the defense and an .800 ops; the .860 you project is probably a bit high.

As for the guys they dealt, I don't trust Ramirez. He's a tools guy, a fabulous athlete. The numbers he's put up have never suggested top prospect. He's also reputed to be quite immature.

Sanchez is a top pitching prospect, though in Papelbon and Lester the Sox have better. The only knock on Sanchez is that he has very little experience above A ball. He's probably at least two years away and, as you know, that's light years for a pitcher.

Delgado would likely have shown up near the bottom of the BA Top 20 Sox Prospects lists.

As you know, acquiring MLB talent for prospects almost always pans out for the team getting the established talent. I don't see why this deal will be any different. Beckett will have to blow his shoulder out for this not to be a great deal. He's averaged 28 starts the last two years; I'll take that.

2005-11-26 07:03:31
2.   joejoejoe
I think the bullpen formula has been stagnant since the Yanks started winning World Series under Torre. It was a freak run to have Nelson and Stanton (and Rivera and Wetteland) be so dominant and consistent. Maybe mixing it up a bit so the same guy doesn't pitch the 8th most times (and wear down) would pay benefits. I'd bite my tongue and enjoy seeing Aaron Small rolled out there some days in the 8th. Making the 8th inning the turf of one guy says to the rest of the pen "enjoy being also-rans". It also reduces your chances of finding a suprise where somebody responds far better to an unfamiliar circumstances. Nobody will ever close with Rivera on the roster but the odd off day can be mixed up instead of just giving it to Gordon, or Free Agent X or whoever.

And if somehow the Yanks could swap Pavano for Derek Lowe I'd take that. Lowe and Chacon can both pitch out of the bullpen. Add a mid season stud for the rotation and you have a mean post season pitching staff. Putting your eggs in the middle relief basket doesn't always work. You sign someone like Karsay and Hammond and then you get zero return on your investment. If Derek Lowe has no luck as a starter you can always try him in relief. Building in some flexibility to your pitching roster pays big benefits in the playoffs.

2005-11-26 07:09:26
3.   Simone
Doesn't the explanation of why the Marlins supposedly added Mota to the trade tick anyone else off? What a scheme these two have going.
2005-11-26 07:22:34
4.   joejoejoe
It's classic monopolistic behavior. Allocation of internal resources at the expense of the consumer. If you need obvious evidence just look at how MLB didn't allow the Expos to expand to a 40-man roster in 2004. That gave the owners of the Expos a competitive advantage and a cost savings. Crooks.
2005-11-26 07:38:27
5.   wsporter
Joejoe: That pesky old Antitrust Exemption lets them get away with all kind of great stuff, without being crooks in the eyes of the law. Morally and ethically, well that's another story don't you think?
2005-11-26 09:20:38
6.   debris

The Red Sox really did no better with the Marlins than did the Mets. The Marlins were simply looking to cut payroll; that they received anything in return is a bonus to them.

If you want to get a look at one ML team truly using another as a minor league affiliate, take a look at the trades consummated in the 1950s between the Yankees and the Kansas City Athletics.

2005-11-26 10:00:22
7.   strangeluck
At this point, I'm starting to think that the best place for the Yankees to pick up bullpen help (outside of throwing some of their AAA guys against the wall and seeing who sticks), is the Rule V draft. Obviously, its something that'd be very unpredictable, but with the market so inflated, they should at least see what they can pick up before making any big signings.
2005-11-26 10:00:24
8.   strangeluck
At this point, I'm starting to think that the best place for the Yankees to pick up bullpen help (outside of throwing some of their AAA guys against the wall and seeing who sticks), is the Rule V draft. Obviously, its something that'd be very unpredictable, but with the market so inflated, they should at least see what they can pick up before making any big signings.
2005-11-26 19:33:34
9.   BklynBomber
Yeah, no big heartbreak with the current crop of FAs (or tradeable) talent on the market this year. Ryan's talent would have been nice as a set-up guy, but if he's truly concerned about 'stress', he made the right choice. For him and for us. If reports on that are correct — what do you think about this guy? He reportedly wants to be "a closer", yet shy's from the 'stress' of taking closer money to be a set-up man in The Bronx.

Isn't being a "closer" a highly stressful role? Seems like a case of taking the money and playing out your days in hockey country, comfortably beneath the radar, as opposed to bringing your game to The Bronx. Not the kinda guy we want or need. I can't wait until he blows his next save and takes a 'L' at The Stadium.

Rowland is the guy I really wish we could have landed, but — oh, well... not in the cards this year...

All told, I like what we're (not) doing so far. No one out there is worth selling the farm for, nor getting stupid with payroll. Let the Saux and Mutts grab the winter headlines for once. The respective medias will eat them up if they're not 10 games ahead by the break...

I'm more concerned about how my Jints will deal with Seattle tomorrow. Huge game for the G-Men, with a chance to grab the division lead and look forward to hosting The Tuna next weekend...

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.