Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Is it going to happen or not? Really quite annoying if you ask me. Hopefully its the former and I do have some faith because Adam Rubin is behind the story.

Not much else, though it seems Pavano might not meet with the Mets until the winter meetings because the Yankees will have a nice control over him when he's in NY next week.

That's all for now... Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 26, 2004
Well, Newsday has a story about Minaya and Sosa's past together while the Beacon Journal has this to say...
Faced with a large financial gap with the Cubs, Mets insiders portray the chances of obtaining the 36-year-old slugger as increasingly unlikely.
As usual, I'm just confused. I'm not sure anyone knows what's going ot happen.

OFF has a nice article on his #5 prospect Shawn Bowman.

Batter's Box has a nice Rule 5 preview to check out.

Enjoy your Black Friday. At least this one doesn't involve trades or anything...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The guys over at TCR answered 5 questions for me on Sammy Sosa, so I returned the favor by answering 6 questions for them that focus on Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza. Go on over and check out what I had to say on the subjects.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I'll be back on Friday.

Al Leiter Open Thread.

You can take this anywhere with Leiter, though I'd prefer some thoughts on who everyone wants to replace Leiter with in the rotation (Heilman... when I have more time and energy, I'll get to explaining it in some full detail).

Also, just as a note, if this is truly the end of Al's Met career, I want to thank him and for all the fans to thank him for what he's done for the Mets in his time here. His departure might be overdue and some of the things he's done (or maybe done) might be annoying, but he was still a great pitcher for the Mets, especially helping the Mets in their 1999 and 2000 playoff runs.

And, if nothing else, there is always this game, which I truly think is the night I became absolutely hooked as a Met fan.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Sammy Sosa- 5 Questions

The biggest on-going story of this offseason for the Mets is the Sammy Sosa trade rumor. With that in mind, I decided to get some Cub experts to answer a few questions on the man every Met fan doesn't want in Shea to see if it would really be such a bad move. They are Christian Ruzich, Derek Smart and Alex Ciepley from the Cub Reporter, the best Cub blog out there. Enjoy.

1. Sammy Sosa has obviously been on a decline the last few years and it makes Met fans very unhappy with the rumors surrounding a Sosa to Shea trade. Met fans have heard that his decline has been caused by slower bat speed, a bad approach at the plate, not standing close enough to the plate and even maybe the steroid issue. What do you believe has contributed to his decline?

Christian: All of those things. It's always been my opinion that Sosa is a very streaky hitter (and someday I'll have the time, energy, and resources to see if that's true). When he's on, he kills the ball, especially to right and right-center. When he's off, he expands his zone and swings at everything. This year, he got into a typical slump and, because of declining bat speed, was unable to get himself out of it. He compunded the situation by being unwilling to listen to the advice of others (specifically, to move forward in the box).

As far as steroids go, I have absolutely no evidence of this, but I think he stopped taking them a year or so ago and either hasn't, or can't adjust to playing without them.

Derek: He's getting older, so he has to have lost some skills, but I don't think that's the whole story. The perceived loss of bat speed has a lot to do with the way he was muscling up before swings on high fastballs, particularly from pitchers who threw under 90 mph. He looked to be trying to prove himself, prove that his skills hadn't diminished, and in doing so I believe he made it seem worse that it was. Another symptom has been a loss of patience, and it showed in his walk rate and the way he was swinging at pitches he hadn't offered at since 1997. Short answer: decline has been due to some diminished skills and an attempt to overcompensate and prove that the skills are still intact.

Alex: I'm not sure exactly what it is: I don't think it's the steroid issue, because Sosa's power hasn't really decreased terribly -- he still has very high home run rates. I do think he makes less contact at the plate. Sosa seems to be a bit timid on breaking balls, and as a result is swinging at some pitches he would have laid off of a few years earlier. He doesn't walk nearly as much, true, though part of that is simply because he isn't *intentionally* walked anymore.

I wouldn't be surprised for Sosa to have a mini-rebound next year. It also wouldn't surprise if he continued to decline at a slower pace. His slip, in the end, could be nothing more than age catching up to him.

2.How much effect has the corked bat incident, steroids issues and all of the other negative things that have occurred in the last year had on Sammy's play? And is he really a clubhouse cancer?

Christian: I have no idea. I have to imagine it can't help, but I don't know if he's the type of guy who lets off-field things affect his on-field performance. As far as being a clubhouse cancer, there have been rumors to that effect for a long time. Of course, when he was hitting 60 homers, it was more along the lines of "it's his clubhouse, what are you gonna do?" Now that he appears to be on the decline, suddenly it's a matter of him being too arrogant or whatever. I don't put too much stock in those sorts of things, because often reporters hang "bad attitude" on guys they don't like, but it seems like there has been an awful lot of tension around Sammy and his magic boom box for years.

Derek: It's difficult to say. I think Sosa tries tolight the world on fire anytime he senses that people don't love him the way he wants them to. The way he's been pressing, or at least seeming to, reminds me of the first half of the 2000 season when there were all the rumors about dealing him to the Yankees. That sort of thing seems to distract him, and he has trouble regaining his focus until the source of the irritation is removed. As for the clubhouse cancer thing, heck if I know. Again, he seems like a guy who really wants unconditional love from everybody, in fact, feels like he's earned it. When he doesn't get that, I imagine he might be difficult to deal with.

Alex: Well, I think the corked bat incident was actually a result *of* a slump he had been going through prior, but I don't really think it has affected his play so much since.

Is Sosa a clubhouse cancer? My impression is that Sosa is simply very extroverted, and when the going's good, he's seen as a fun-loving guy. When the Cubs collapse in a pennant race and Sosa can't hit a pitch right down the middle, he pouts, scowls, and acts out.

3.The Mets mantra last offseason was "speed and defense". So, how is Sammy Sosa's defense in RF?

Christian: Eh. Tangotiger has him at 0 UZR runs over the last few years, and I'd say that's about right. He won't hurt you out there, but he won't help you much either. His arm has deteriorated over the last few years, making more obvious his accuracy problems -- when you have a great arm, it doesn't matter quite so much that you can't hit the cut-off man. When you have a so-so arm, it matters quite a bit.

Derek: If the Mets acquire Sosa, it's time to change the mantra. He's slow, doesn't get particularly good jumps, and has had trouble looking ball into glove for years, whether on the ground or in the air. His arm used to be a plus, at least from a strength perspective, but it's never been accurate and now the strength is diminished as well. He's not Roger Cedeno bad, but he's safely below average.

Alex: Bad, but not as awful as some might make it seen. And if you believe in BP's fielding runs above average (Sammy Sosa), he actually saved more runs on defense (6) than Ichiro (3). I don't buy that for a second, of course, but it either shows you that we really know nothing about evaluating defense statistically, or Sosa had a pretty decent year defensively. (Huh, actually Win Shares has those pair equal with 3.7 defensive Win Shares. Who knew?)

Sosa has this one play that's pretty nice: the dive to his right. He actually had some pretty memorable dives-to-the-right this past year -- these days, it's his best chance of getting on Baseball Tonight.

4.What are the chances that Sammy Sosa will have a bounceback year next year? Why?

Christian: Depends on what you consider "bounceback." I don't think he's ever going to be a 50-homer guy again. He's 36, and he's not Barry Bonds. I don't think it's unreasonable that he'd get back over the 40-homer playeau, though. What you get from Sammy is home runs and strikeouts. He has a career OBP of .348, and in a bounceback year I think you could hope for that number -- he's only been over .360 five times.

I think the chances are pretty good he could go 270/350/600, 40/110 in Wrigley next year. I don't kow what Shea does to offensive numbers, so you'd have to translate them.

Derek: Depends on what you mean by bounceback. I think there's a decent chance he'll improve relative to his performance last year, but if the question is whether he'll be worth the cash, I really doubt it. I think he'll be able to stay relatively healthy, and if he's able to do that he should be an above average producer, although not the superstar he once was.

Alex: Doh! Answered this question a bit earlier. Not for nothing, Sosa had some notable management quibbles before both 1998 and 2001. Those years turned out fairly well...

5.Do you want to see Sammy Sosa traded to the Mets, if the deal were Cliff Floyd for Sammy Sosa and some money from the Cubs? Why?

Christian: That's the $35M question, isn't it? The numbers I just suggested really aren't worth $17M, that's for sure, and I'm sure the Cubs would love to get out from under that contract (and, specifically, the $18M option for '06). The difference between Sosa & Floyd in '05 is $10.5M -- if the Cubs paid a few mil, I'd be happy. If they paid $5M or more, just to be rid of Sosa's contract, and a gimpy 32-year old who hasn't played 150 games since 1998 and might not have the arm for right field, well, I don't think I'd be too psyched.

Derek: My answer is conditional: if doing a deal like that gives the Cubs the financial flexibility they need to sign a top tier outfielder and keep Nomar Garciaparra in the fold, then I'm all for it. Otherwise, I'm not sure it's worth it. However, I'm also just donedealing with the distractions that Sosa brings. There's a part of me that would be happy to see him goin exchange for a cold six-pack and a bag of really good chocolate chip cookies. Maybe a larger part than I'd like to admit.

Alex: Sure, I think. I'd be pretty sad to see Sosa go, especially under such bitter circumstances. He was really one of the greatest players the Cubs have ever seen, and he made the games worth watching in a lot of years where the Cubs really didn't deserve to be seen.

That said, I think Floyd is a maneagable risk. He's younger, lefthanded, and in a full season would likely trump Sosa's output at this point in their careers. Of course, Floyd doesn't play full seasons, so his value will be tempered in part by the scrubbiness of whichever Baker-favorite is manning the outfield backup spot.

I also think Floyd's a more tradeable commodity, in case the Cubs wanted to turn around and deal him for another player or a couple prospects.

Thanks once again to the guys at The Cub Reporter for taking the time to answer my questions.

Monday, November 22, 2004
Between the picture of him and the general idea of the article, I was amused by this.

Comments? Anyone?

Sunday, November 21, 2004
Or maybe not...
In other Mets news, don't write Nick Johnson in the Mets' lineup yet. A published report yesterday offered the possibility of Johnson returning to New York, but Washington GM Jim Bowden said he has not had any discussions with the Mets and that he wants to keep Johnson.
We'll see what happens.

As for me, blogging will be slow the next few days as I'm quite busy... still, something interesting might pop up here in the next day or two or three.

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