Friday, January 16, 2009

Wilpon: Money Ain't A Thang

Rob Neyer quotes Will Leitch in more depth than I'm about to, but here's what Will's blog post for the New Yorker boils down to:
The Yankees are opening a new stadium and, as a result, changing the economic infrastructure of baseball with their spending. The Mets are opening a new stadium and are being outbid for their target free agents. Bernie Madoff might not to be blame. But something must be.
I'm sure there is some feeling of impending doom when the future $400M sponsor of their new digs is depending on a $20B fix from Uncle Sam. But the Mets have the same built-in advantages, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, that the Yankees do. They are moving into a brand new ballpark, they play in a gigantic market and have public transportation piping fans right into said park. They have a share in a major regional sports network and are owned by a family whose wealth stretches far beyond their baseball team-related holdings. The $300M Fred Wilpon lost in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme really had no effect on their offseason spending? None? Really?

Yes, they acquired K-Rod and J.J. Putz to shore up their porous bullpen. Excellent work. But both Leitch and Neyer point to a distinct lack of starting rotation depth. Let's start from the top:
  1. Johan Santana - Awesome.
  2. Mike Pelfrey - Great last year, but threw 50 more innings than the year before. As Neyer points out, has an alarmingly low strikeout rate.
  3. John Maine - Good when healthy but had shoulder problems at the end of last year and has never thrown more than 191 innings in a single season.
  4. Tim Redding? - Don't look at his (NL!) numbers if you've eaten recently. And no, I don't think he sucks because of the one inning of six run ball he "pitched" for the Yanks in 2005.
  5. ????
  6. Ron Darling

Were they waiting for the guy to change his name to Derek Lowez? Derek Lowe would have been a terrific stabilizing presence in the middle of their rotation. For similar money, they still could probably sign Oliver Perez who, like basically every other free agent this offseason is looking at potential deals far smaller than he expected. But Perez is the model of inconsistency, while Lowe is the exact opposite.

Perez gives up fly balls and walks while Lowe gives up neither. You can count on Lowe to put together a competent start almost every time he takes the mound, where Perez is bound to have a 5 walk, seven earned run shitshow where he gets pulled in the 2nd inning once in a while, like this one. Lowe only had 3 games where he went fewer than 4 innings last year and one was in his last appearance of the season when he had yet to give up a run.

The Mets' corner OF spots are occupied by Ryan Church, who is a pretty big question mark coming off his concussion shortened season last year, and Fernando Tatis/Nick Evans/Daniel Murphy? I would probably avoid Manny since they are in the NL, but Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu are pretty nice fits at the prices they are going to end up at, despite their marginal fielding.

If I'm a Mets fan, I don't know who I hate more: Bernie Madoff for stealing Fred Wilpon's money or Wilpon for saying that losing $300M doesn't matter, then not taking the necessary steps to improve the team after two Hindenburg-ian late season meltdowns. All I know is that Bernie Madoff didn't just steal the Wilpon's money, he stole Derek Lowez, Adam Dunnito and their graphic design budget.

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