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Trading Pelfrey, Trusting Hughes, Aramis Ramirez, Pittsburgh Yanks



By Mike Silva ~ July 18th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

I talked about the market for Carlos Beltran earlier this morning, but there is another Mets player that I think might be desirable to contenders: Mike Pelfrey.

After losing to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon Mike Pelfrey is 5-9 with a 4.67 ERA. After making so much progress with his splitter last season it appeared he was finally living up to his “top of the rotation” stature. A second half fade that’s continued into 2011 has left Pelfrey, once again, a below league average pitcher. He still doesn’t have an outpitch that will allow him miss bats. His K/9 rate has hovered around the 5 mark since his debut in 2006. An improved walk rate has helped, but Pelfrey is probably the number five in a pedestrian Mets starting rotation.

The thought of trading Pelfrey may sound ludicrous. Why would anyone want him if he isn’t lighting it up on the Mets? There are contenders that need a reasonably priced arm and Pelfrey is both that in terms of dollars and prospects. He is making $3.9 million this year and is controllable through the end of next season. Remember, teams might also believe in his upside and think they are “buying low” in a Pelfrey deal.

Can you see contenders like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Arizona, and even Detroit taking a look at Pelfrey for the backend of their rotation? A change of scenery wouldn’t hurt and he still is productive enough where the Mets can fetch a decent return. If he doesn’t work out any team that acquires him can simply non-tender him at the end of the year.

I think this is what will eventually happen with the Mets. Can you justify paying Pelfrey $4 million plus dollars in 2012 for this performance? You can get below league average pitching for far less.

I would have loved to see where he would be if Rick Peterson were kept around in 2008. I am not sure Dan Warthen is the kind of pitching coach that is a difference maker with someone as high maintenance as Big Pelf. Would you be surprised he went to St. Louis and became a star under Dave Duncan? I wouldn’t.

The only thing that might entice the Mets to keep Pelfrey is the lack of major league ready starting arms. They aren’t going to rush Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, and Jenrry Mejia next year. Keeping Pelfrey for his last controllable season might make sense. That’s assuming you don’t get an interesting return from some of the aforementioned contenders.

***

Phil Hughes looked like the pitcher that from the first half of 2010. His curveball was working and the swings and misses that were lacking in prior starts were present. My question is do you trust Phil Hughes? If the Yankees can’t acquire a top talent like Ubaldo Jimenez, then should they just keep what they have internal? Is Ryan Dempster, Rickey Nolasco, or any other veteran on the block any better?

Hughes continues to be one of the most important Yankees. His season appeared over when he was languishing with a dead arm early this spring. We mentioned on the site that Hughes’s problems could have stemmed from a bad offseason regiment. Perhaps the 18 wins got to his head, but after win #1 yesterday afternoon he sounded like someone that understands his importance to the Yankees rotation.

The parallels between Hughes and Pelfrey have always been interesting. Both were ascending early in 2010. Both have been on the brink in 2011. Hughes has the stuff that Pelfrey lacks. It also helps that he appears to have it figured out between the ears… for now.

***

What if Alex Rodriguez can’t play third base full time when he returns? It’s a question that has to be taken seriously because of the downgrade at the position. Ramiro Pena went 0-3 and is now hitting .080. Eduardo Nunez as a stick, but every groundball will be an adventure. For as much as I criticize the Yankees for not relying on their kids, they can’t feel comfortable with Nunez getting meaningful time in the field during the postseason.

Minor league help could come in the form of Brandon Laird. Again, going with an unproven kid is not the Yankees MO. The answer would have been Eric Chavez, but he’s an injury risk so I wouldn’t count on him for the rest of the season. A veteran like Ty Wigginton could be the answer. It seems every time the Yankees try to acquire him it falls through.

You keep hearing, however, the name Aramis Ramirez and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. On the surface it sounds like excess, but it really isn’t.

Ramirez is a strong right handed bat who is having a better season than A-Rod (16/54/.844). There is a $16 million dollar option that includes a $2 million dollar team buyout. This option vests if he is traded, so the Yankees might have to negotiate some sort of buyout ala Milwaukee and K-Rod.

Better yet, the Yankees might need Ramirez in 2012. What makes them think A-Rod is going to be a full time player in the field? His lower body has broken down each of the last three years. Ramirez is three years younger and could be considered more than a two month rental.

A deal for Ramirez could include a bullpen arm like Kerry Wood, who the Yankees have been looking at for weeks.

Ramirez is an interesting player that often gets forgotten with the stars of the game. He has over 300 home runs in his career. By the time he is done he will probably have over 400 homers at third base. That would put him in the top five all time at the position. At that point is he in consideration for the Hall of Fame? Not a crazy thought.

***

The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the NL Central by a game in the loss column. Should they thank the Yankees for it? Over the last few years the Pirates have collected excess Yankees farmhands. There are six former Yankees on the 40 man:

Eric Fryer

Jeff Karstens

Daniel McCuthen

Ross Ohlendorf

Jose Veras

Jose Tabata

Can we call them the Pittsburgh Yankees?

Karstens and McCuthen have been breakout pitchers this year. Karstens has been the Pirates best starter (8-4, 2.34) and McCuthen has a 2.27 ERA out of the bullpen. Jose Veras, signed as a free agent from Florida, continues his high wire act as he strikes out over a batter an inning, but walks the ballpark at the same time.

Former top prospect Jose Tabata should round out the outfield when he returns from his quad strain. He isn’t a star, but a solid corner that provides speed and plays good defense.

If they make the playoffs will the “Pittsburgh Yankees” moniker go mainstream?

***

I said on last night’s show that this could be a wild trading deadline. In addition to the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes and the Yankees looking for an arm, teams like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Arizona are unlikely buyers. Outside of the NL East and NL Wild Card, everyone else is in some sort of race. I count about 13 teams that could justify being buyers as of today. I don’t see how that number becomes less than 10 in the next two weeks. This could get fun.

***

Terry Collins will be judged this season by how he keeps the Mets motivated and playing hard in the face of adversity. The players aren’t stupid. They see the K-Rod trade and know that Carlos Beltran is next. They know the organization is looking towards the future. They want to win, but do you really think they believe they can compete for a playoff spot? Perhaps if they were in any other division but the NL East, or maybe if there was a second Wild Card. Knowing this, Collins made sure to address it with the team before the start of the second half.

If Collins keeps this group playing hard till the end he would have earned his salary for 2011. The double edged sword is you get one chance at this kind of “feel good” type of situation. Another season of 162 spring training games and the players will lose interest. They need to show they are building a contender this offseason. Re-signing Jose Reyes would be a great start towards that.

Collins and Alderson have their mulligan. I suspect we will see the team play hard the rest of the season. They shouldn’t expect this kind of effort for a going nowhere situation again in 2012.

***

Bobby Valentine is conducting Fire Chief interviews in Stanford this week in case anyone in the audience is interested.

***

Howie Rose informed everyone during the radio broadcast that Juan Samuel holds a Mets record. He appeared on three consecutive postgame shows in 1989. Two were for his performance on the field. The other was for being the center of a brawl. It’s the only records that Samuel holds during his brief stint that many Mets fans wish to forget.

***

If you look back at that trade the Mets really did get very little for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Samuel was flipped to the Dodgers for Mike Marshall and Alejandro Pena. Marshall was sent to Boston a few months later for three minor leaguers. One of those kids was part of the Bobby Ojeda/Hubie Brooks deal. Brooks was traded to Anaheim for OF Dave Gallagher after the 1991 season. Gallagher was traded to Atlanta for RHP Pete Smith, who eventually left the Mets via free agency.

Pena was sent to Atlanta late in 1991 for Tony Castillo and Joe Roa. Castillo was sent to Detroit with Mark Carreon in the Paul Gibson deal. Gibson was eventually released in 1993.

Roa was part of the Jeremy Burnitz deal where he went to Cleveland for Dave Mlicki, Paul Byrd, and Jerry DiPoto. All three were useful pitchers for the Mets for a brief time. Dipoto was sent to Arizona for Armando Reynoso, Mlicki was sent to the Dodgers for Hideo Nomo, Byrd was sent to Atlanta for Greg McMichael.

McMichael was actually traded to the Dodgers in the Nomo Deal. A few months later the Mets reacquired him for their bullpen in exchange for Brian Bohanon. Eventually, McMichael went to Oakland in the Jason Isringhausen/Billy Taylor deal.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is from just looking that stuff up. So in essence Lenny Dykstra/Roger McDowell were traded for one grand night by Dave Mlicki where he shut out the Yankees in the Subway Series.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Trading Pelfrey, Trusting Hughes, Aramis Ramirez, Pittsburgh Yanks

  1. Paul S.

    I agree with you on your take with Pelfrey. I have finally started getting frustrated over his constant inconsistent performance. But as you stated, who can the Mets turn to. I also like Daniel Murphy, but what happens to him when Wright comes back this year and Davis next year? It would be tremendous if Alderson could somehow trade Pelfrey & Murphy to Seattle for Michael Pineda and any B-Level prospect. I believe in the old school thought of you don’t trade an everyday player for a pitcher, but the Mets need to shake things up. Pineda along with Santana and Niese next year could give the Mets a very good 1-2-3. Murphy could easily start at 1B or 3B for Seattle and give them a jolt to the offense. Murphy kind of reminds me of Gregg Jeffries, but at least he has shown he can play 1B/3B more that adequately.

  2. 86mets

    @Paul S.-Mets aren’t getting Pineda from Seattle, not for Pelfrey or anyone else. Pineda is a #1 starter in waiting and combined w/ King Felix gives the M’s a 1-2 punch unmatched in talent anywhere in the game.

    As for trading Pelfrey, it may be time to cut bait and find him a new home where new surroundings might help him. As I’ve said in the earlier post about Beltran, they aren’t really likely to grab a top prospect for Carlos. However, packaging him with Pelfrey might land them a legit top prospect. Given that teams like the Tigers and Red Sox are likely looking for help on both sides of the ball a package deal like this could get the Mets some real talent if they’re willing to peddle it a bit. As hush hush as Alderson is I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t already taking just such an approach. Can’t wait to see what happens.

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