Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Baseball stuff

If you’re not on Twitter, you missed the announcement: Starting Monday, I’ll be writing about baseball for USA Today Sports. I’m very excited.

For Edgin: Why not? It’s difficult to predict which relievers will ultimately earn closer jobs and the elusive “proven closer” label, but Edgin seems to have as good a shot as any. He throws hard, he’s got pretty good control, and he strikes out lots of batters. His ERA wasn’t great in his tiny-sample first Major League stint, but his peripherals (besides his home-run rate) look strong. I’d say the biggest thing working against him is his handedness, as unless the Mets have one or two more viable lefty options for middle-inning specialty work, they’re probably going to want Edgin there.

Also, I’m not ready to write off the idea of Bobby Parnell eventually emerging as the Mets’  closer. I know he has struggled in limited opportunities in the role, but Parnell’s been a good big-league reliever for three seasons. Now that he seems to be settled on the knuckle-curve as a second pitch, I don’t know why he couldn’t succeed in a ninth-inning job.

As for the fat sandwich: Yes. I wrote about it here, back before I reviewed sandwiches proper.

I don’t really want to troll on my way out the door here, but I’d say this seems like LOLMetsing of the highest order. Especially the caption on the bottom photo. I mean… c’mon. But then I clicked it, so the joke’s on me.

UPDATE: Actually, on second thought I’ll amend that. Clicking through the rest of the Daily News’ website after reading that story, it seems like they’re blowing out every possible angle of the A-Rod/PED/Miami thing. So that’s probably just one of them, and hey, a Mets connection. Only the caption is LOLMetsy.

That’s a tough question. My natural inclination is to pick the five worst players on the Mets so the team can stay competitive throughout the Mars project. But since that doesn’t seem like the spirit of the question, I’ll say David Wright for leadership and interstellar diplomacy, Lucas Duda for brute strength, Dillon Gee for guile, Daniel Murphy for determination, and Johan Santana for general awesomeness.

https://twitter.com/RandomOrlando/status/297389635724787712

Hey, I’m still a member of the baseball media, and I’m still going to be based out of New York. If there’s one of those tasting events this year, I’m going to do everything in my power to go. Obviously.

Honestly, if they can get the draft pick protected I don’t think signing Michael Bourn is such a terrible idea for the Mets. It depends on the deal, of course, but it sure seems like Bourn’s price tag has fallen far, far below the $100 million figure he was reportedly seeking at the offseason’s outset. We keep hearing about how the Mets will have money to spend in the coming years, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to do so with a protected first-round pick again anytime soon. Plus, watching Bourn play center field is a thrill. Guy gets to everything.

Pack my bag and let’s get movin’

This I’ve mentioned before: Tomorrow I’m leaving for vacation. I’ll be out of the country for a few weeks, visiting various points of interest in Southeast Asia and ideally eating all sorts of delicious food that I will tell you about when I return. I may check in here a couple of times, but I’m not really planning on it and I don’t know how often I’ll have access to the Internet.

thailandThis I haven’t mentioned: After I get back, I’m leaving my job at SNY and this blog will no longer update with anything like the frequency it has for the past three and a half years. It will still exist in some fashion, and I hope to continue discussing sandwiches and Taco Bell and nearly everything else here when I’m so moved. But it will live outside the SNY umbrella, and it will not even nominally be a sports blog.

You definitely haven’t heard the last of me, and, in fact, I hope you’ve only heard the first of me. But I’ll discuss that more once I’m back from my trip and stuffed to the gills with banh mi. For now, in lieu of anything more creative, I wanted to use this post to express some gratitude.

Maintaining this blog is awesome. So is working at SNY. I became a Mets fan sometime in the winter after the 1986 World Series, and went to my first game at Shea Stadium on Opening Day of 1987. Bob Ojeda won the game and Darryl Strawberry hit a home run. Thanks to this job, I get to chat about baseball with Bob all the time. And one time Darryl Strawberry bought me a sandwich. That’s so unspeakably crazy to me. I hauled soda and hot dogs around Shea Stadium in the summer heat in 2000 and it seemed nuts then that they’d pay me to go to Mets games. Now they pay me to go and I don’t even have to lift anything. Please don’t take that as bragging. It’s just… how is that real?

I have this forum here in which I can write about nearly anything I want, from the fringes of the Mets’ roster to the far reaches of outer space. And actual human people read it regularly, and comment on it and email me with links to other things to write about or sandwiches to try. It’s so amazingly flattering, and it makes me feel awesome, and I love it.

I should say, also, that this blog would never have been possible if it weren’t for my excellent colleagues here. In making the real-job aspects of my job easier, the entire SNY.tv team afforded me time to write from the office. So thanks to Jeff, Jay, Adam, Fred, Jaime and Gil, Tom at MLBAM, and to Matt Cerrone for encouraging me to start this site and getting it set up in the first place. All the bloggers whose sites are, for now, linked in the left column here are excellent people producing good stuff and far less demanding of my time than they could have been, so thanks to them too. Really, thanks to most everyone here for being cool.

And thanks, of course, to the larger Mets blogosphere for hooking up the traffic, especially my friends at MetsBlog, and Eric Simon and the folks at Amazin’ Avenue.

When I spell it all out like this, it makes me wonder why I’m leaving. But I’ve been here five years, and new frontiers await, and it’s time. The Mets’ front office seems to be in good hands, and all your yelling isn’t going to convince me otherwise. Increasingly, I find myself explaining the team’s decisions rather than berating them. Hell, not only did the Mets just actually sign the Minor League outfielder I clamored for, but Paul DePodesta then tweeted Andrew Brown’s Minor League slash line against lefties immediately following the announcement. This is fantasy-land stuff for the True SABR among us who were blogging during the Omar Minaya era.

Plus, when you get to interview Keith Hernandez on stage immediately after he publicly shaves his mustache, you drop the mic and walk away. I started writing about the Mets for SNY.tv in Oct. 2006, when I was an MLBAM employee, a couple weeks after Carlos Beltran struck out to end Game 7 of the NLCS. At the last Mets game I attended for SNY.tv, Keith Hernandez shaved his mustache on stage and R.A. Dickey won his 20th game. Those seem like as good a way to bookend this phase of my career as any I can think of. And I got to witness the Mets’ first no-hitter as part of it.

I’m straying from the point, which is this: Thank you so much. Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, thank you for emailing. I have put a lot of thought, a lot of effort, a lot of words, and, occasionally, a lot of emotion into this site over the past few years. On the whole I’m proud of the output, and it’s led me to the next step in my career. And there’s no chance I’d have done any of it if I didn’t know there were people out there enjoying it.

Like I said, I’ll be back — both here and elsewhere. But it’s 2013, so you can also get at me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or via email at dtedberg-at-gmail.com.

Since I expect this post will sit here at the top of the site for a while, here are some links to select past posts to entertain you while I’m gone. Some of these were popular, some of these I just kind of liked and remembered this morning when putting this together. For lack of a better system, I categorized them the same way they are in the tabs up top:

Baseball

Feb. 2, 2009: Moving out, moving on
Oct. 15, 2009: Embarrassing Photos of Cole Hamels
March 1, 2011: Beltran selfishly punishing Digital Domain Park scoreboard
June 15, 2011: What we carry
March 7, 2012: The lobster pot

Other sports

June 12, 2010: For the Internet
Sept. 24, 2012: Is anyone really ready for some football?

Taco Bell

Aug. 31, 2011: Dear Taco Bell
Sept. 14, 2011: Mets as Taco Bell menu items

Other stuff

March 18, 2010: From the Wikipedia: The Great Auk
Feb. 25, 2011: Spaced out

Sandwiches

June 30, 2010: The sandwich that made me love sandwiches
Sept. 8, 2010: Sandwich of the decade

Video
2008ish: Matt and Ted go to Philly, Mets Weekly vendor piece
March 18, 2009: The Nooner
Oct. 5, 2012: Requiem for a mustache

What wouldn’t you trade for Giancarlo Stanton?

Look: The Mets aren’t trading for Giancarlo Stanton. It’s just a fun thing to think about, because Giancarlo Stanton is a fun thing to think about. And with speculation about potential Stanton trades pummeling the Internet, I polled Mets fans on Twitter to see what they wouldn’t be willing to trade for Stanton.

Most, understandably, said they’d give up practically anything. A few said they wouldn’t trade Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler or Travis d’Arnaud, which is… well, I think any deal for Stanton would have to start with at least one if not two of Harvey, Wheeler and d’Arnaud.

Think about it: The Mets just got d’Arnaud and fellow top prospect Travis Syndergaard in a package for one year’s worth of R.A. Dickey, plus the negotiating window in which the Blue Jays signed Dickey to an extension. It’s hard to draw a clear parallel because it’s hard to determine the value of the exclusive negotiating window, but trading for Stanton would mean acquiring four seasons’ worth of his cost-controlled services — plenty of time, of course, for an acquiring team to lock him up to a longer-term contract extension.

Harvey, Wheeler and d’Arnaud have a combined 10 games’ worth of Major League experience. Stanton has been unspeakably awesome for almost three full seasons. And Stanton’s younger than both Harvey and d’Arnaud, and only six months older than Wheeler.

One of these things is not like the others

Per MetsBlog, the Mets are looking for a free-agent starting pitcher on a one-year deal and have been “most linked in rumors to Shaun Marcum, Joe Saunders, Carl Pavano and Chris Young.”

One of these things is not like the others, in that only one of these things is a pitcher I have any inclination to see starting games in Flushing in 2013. First, the stats. Over the last three years:

Marcum: 85 GS, 520 IP, 113 ERA+, 1.179 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

Saunders: 94 GS, 590 IP, 100 ERA+, 1.368 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 5.1 K/9

Pavano: 76 GS, 506 IP, 95 ERA+, 1.292 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9, 1.5 BB/9, 4.5 K/9

Young: 28 GS, 159 IP, 112 ERA+, 1.252 WHIP, 1.1 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

Notice anything? Of the four, Marcum’s pretty much the best at everything except eating innings. That title goes to Joe Saunders, who belongs to the larger category of boring, league-average innings-eaters who don’t strike anybody out and don’t really get enough ground balls to be dominant best known as “Pelfreys.”

Pavano’s got the best control of the group, but he’ll be 37 next week, he pitched to a 6.00 ERA in 2012, and he’s Carl Pavano.

If all of these guys are actually available on one-year deals — no safe bet, since lots of teams still need pitching — then Marcum seems like the best choice for the Mets. Apparently there are some concerns about arm issues that cost him part of his 2012 season, and though Marcum finished the season in the Brewers’ rotation, he was hit pretty hard in September.

But since Marcum’s got the highest upside of the group by a pretty wide margin, and since a one-year deal wouldn’t hamstring the Mets down the road, and since the 2013 Mets are in a position where they need risks to pay off to be able to contend and since it’s really, really hard to envision any scenario wherein Carl Pavano carries the Mets to meaningful games in September, Marcum’s the guy here. But you probably knew that already.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment and some meetings this afternoon. Enjoy yourselves. Here’s Method and Red:

Someone listening. Alternately (and far more likely): Someone making reasonable decisions

Check it out:

Me, here, Dec. 4:

So it seems to me that the Mets would be better served trying to identify the next Ryan Ludwick rather than committing two years’ worth of guaranteed money to the current Ryan Ludwick. Somewhere, almost certainly, there’s a guy the Mets can have for nearly nothing who can serve as an effective right-handed half of an outfield platoon in the Majors. Maybe he’s not likely to hit as well as Ludwick did in 2007, but it’s far from a safe bet Ludwick will, either.

With some quick searching, I found my horse: Andrew Brown. The 28-year-old Brown notched 112 unspectacular at-bats with the Rockies in 2012, then elected free agency last week after the Rockies removed him from their 40-man roster. Brown bats right-handed, has experience in all four corners, and has hit .296/.373/.551 over the last two seasons in Triple-A with a .314/.416/.564 line against lefties.

Brown’s presented here more as an archetype of what the Mets should be looking for than a specific guy the Mets should be signing, and for all I know there are 10 teams currently bidding for Andrew Brown’s services. But if Brown’s looking for Major League playing time, it’s hard to figure a better spot for an unproven righty-hitting corner outfielder than Queens right now.

So, ahh, Andrew Brown: Make me look good here, huh?

New Year’s over-under polls

Busy morning here, unburying myself after some time off. Here are some over-unders.

Friday Q&A, pt.3: Food stuff and randos

Top 10? Gil! What am I, Zagat? Here are the Top 5: 5) Adobo torta, 4) No. 7 Sub Club, 3) Fry bread taco, 2) P.B.L.T., 1) Jibarito.

Also, for what it’s worth: I’ve seen so many year-end top-sandwiches list, and almost all of them contain multiple sandwiches that I’ve tried and don’t think belong anywhere near a top sandwiches list. I suspect some of it is flavor-of-the-month stuff and some of it is sample-size issues.

My wife and I enjoyed some leftover Chinese food and watched old episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix. Pretty good way to celebrate your birthday, actually.

Notably, the Chinese food was fish, and I enjoyed it very much. It tasted more like the delicious sauce it came in than it did fish, but this is a huge step for me. My goal is to have as few dietary restrictions as possible, so I’d like to like fish, and I never really have before.

Wait, is anyone against ice cream sandwiches? Like, anyone in the world? The only possible problem I can think of with an ice cream sandwich is that sometimes if you get a freshly made ice-cream sandwich and squeeze the cookies too hard, the ice cream pushes out of the side and you have to scramble to lick up all the ice cream before it drips all over your hands and you get brain freeze. But that’s just really not so bad.

I welcome ice cream sandwiches of all varieties. I think the classic, store-brand, rectangular ice-cream sandwich is a massively underrated dessert treat. I like how you get the weird, delicious cookie sludge all over your hands while you eat it.

Typically it’s wildly overrated. What’s worse than New Year’s Eve? Until you’re old and crotchety, you wind up pressured by someone to spend $100 on some stupid open-bar thing that’s going to be a nightmare and packed with people but because you’ve invested in it you can’t even leave if it sucks.

This year, I’ll eat fancy cheese in my apartment then go watch the fireworks in Central Park. Maybe old-person New Year’s Eve is actually underrated.

Yikes. I really hope I’m never in any type of disaster that requires robots to uncover me, and I really, really, really, really, really hope that if I ever am, they don’t send f-ing cyborg cockroaches to root me out. Trauma on trauma.

Beats me. I usually eat my fill at Citi Field, and I almost never get pizza there. I know that if you go west along Roosevelt Avenue from the park, there are a bunch of little storefront eateries and a few of them always smelled pretty good when I would go out that way for a car service ride home at my old job. And obviously if you go east on Roosevelt into Flushing, there’s pretty much all you can handle in terms of Asian food (except Laotian food, incidentally. As far as I understand it, there’s no readily available Laotian food to be purchased in New York City. Luckily I should be getting plenty of Laotian food in Laos soon). Anyone? Good pizza near (but presumably not inside) Citi Field?

Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Mets stuff

I don’t know, but if it’s anything of value, it’s probably not worth it. Cuddyer’s a nice player, and though he’ll be 34 by Opening Day he seems a pretty safe bet to hit for the next couple of seasons. Plus he bats right-handed, which the Mets need, and can play all four corners. But he has two years and $21 million remaining on his contract, and given the Mets’ widely reported financial constraints, that seems like more than the team should take on for a player of his age and ability even without sacrificing additional resources.

Per the latest reports, the Rockies have “made it clear that they highly value Cuddyer,” so a salary-dump type deal appears unlikely. If that’s the case, it seems the Mets could re-sign Scott Hairston for less money and yield similar production without having to trade away a pitcher to do so. Several teams have been linked to Hairston this offseason, but no reports I’ve seen have suggested he’ll earn anything like what Cuddyer’s set to make for the next two seasons. So if the Mets did somehow have the financial flexibility to bring on Cuddyer, they could pay whatever it takes to bring back Hairston and allocate the rest to bringing on a backup middle infielder or a bullpen arm.

Good question, and I fear I’ve been guilty of that some too. But to clarify: Right now, Baxter looks like the Mets’ best all-around outfielder on the roster. That’s damning with faint praise, I know, and all of Baxter’s Major League success has come across a tiny 260 plate-appearance sample. But it’s not out of line with what Baxter did in the Minors, and at the very least Whitestone Mike’s strong 2012 campaign should put to rest the nagging assertion from before last season that he had no place on a Major League roster.

From here, Baxter looks like a viable platoon and bench option at the very least, and given that he’s solid on defense in the corners, I wouldn’t mind seeing the team give him a few more opportunities against left-handers to see what he could do with them. Baxter, by his own account, lost playing time to more heralded prospects throughout his Minor League career. He seems like exactly the type of solid big-leaguer that can fly under the radar and emerge when given a proper chance.

Also: Awesome dude, shares a name with Ron Burgundy’s dog, grew up a Mets fan, saved the no-hitter. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but if you’re a Mets fan and you’re still complaining about Mike Baxter’s role on the team, you probably need some time away.

I’d say Roy Hobbs but he’s old and notoriously streaky, plus the last thing the Mets need is more lefties. So I’ll stick with the same fictional world and go with The Whammer, who was purportedly the greatest hitter in the world, hit right-handed (at least in the movie, despite his obvious parallels to Babe Ruth), and was smart enough to strike out against a farmboy in front of a mysterious woman dedicated to shooting the best there ever was and best there ever would be.

I’d take the World Series, without question. I live well outside of the Rockville Centre Gino’s delivery range now, and a big part of Taco Bell’s appeal is its inexpensiveness. How much am I legitimately going to spend on Gino’s and Taco Bell over the course of the rest of my life? Hard to imagine it’s more than $6000 or so, unless inflation runs wild. I’d gladly shell out $6000 in monthly installments over the next 50 years to secure a World Series win for the Mets now.

Doesn’t seem like he will be, but I sure hope he is — if only because I want Mike Piazza honored in every which way possible. Don’t try to come at me with rational arguments against this because I won’t hear them. LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU MIKE PIAZZA IS THE BEST.

I don’t know if it’s a longstanding thing or a recent trend, but I think it’s silly when writers leave guys off their first ballots because they don’t believe they should be “first-ballot Hall of Famers.” If you decide a guy’s a deserving Hall of Famer, vote for him. Let the first-ballot stuff happen organically.

Scott Hairston or bust?

Since we last met, both Cody Ross and Nick Swisher came off the market, leaving precious few viable free-agent outfield options remaining for the Flushing Nine. Here’s the full list of unsigned outfielders who bat right-handed or switch, from MLB Trade Rumors:

Here's what Scott Hairston looks like. - Jeff Baker
– Mark DeRosa
– Ben Francisco
– Scott Hairston
– Austin Kearns
– Darnell McDonald
– Ryan Raburn
– Juan Rivera
– Delmon Young

Slim pickings. Not all of those guys could realistically be called outfielders, and some of them are no safe bet to be upgrades over Justin Turner in an outfield corner. No joke.

Baker has played more infield than outfield across his career and suffered a woeful season at the plate in 2012, but he can boast a lifetime .296/.344/.498 split against lefties, even if it’s bolstered by stints in Colorado and Chicago. DeRosa will be 38 by Opening Day and hasn’t done any hitting to speak of since 2009. Francisco’s a poor fielder with no demonstrable platoon split, so he’s no upgrade over the Mets’ cadre of lefty-hitting guys, even against lefties.

Hairston you know about. Kearns you probably know about too, though he’s somehow still only 32. He doesn’t have much of a platoon split either, but since he gets on base and is a decent defender, he wouldn’t be the worst option for the Mets.

McDonald also wouldn’t be terrible on a flyer. A Minor League veteran who became a fan favorite with the Red Sox in 2010, he seemed to suffer at the hands of the BABIP demons in 2012 and has a Fenway-aided and small-sample career .274/.342/.436 line against lefties. Raburn had a terrible, horrible, worse-than-Jason-Bay 2012, but hit lefties very well in 2009 and 2010 and pretty well in 2011. Supposedly six teams are interested in his services, so he might cost more than he’s worth, but on a cheap contract Raburn’s a decent bet to bounce back, with the added bonus of some positional flexibility.

Rivera’s offensive output has been on a steady decline since 2009 and at 34, he’s pretty limited in the outfield, but he can still hit lefties a bit. Delmon Young looks a lot like Reginald VelJohnson but lacks Lieutenant Winslow’s plate discipline.

Not included on MLBTR’s list is my guy Andrew Brown, a better option than about half the above listed players. If I had to rank them in terms of how they’d fit the Mets’ needs, I’d probably go something like this:

1) Hairston
(Gap)
2) Kearns
3) Rivera
(Gap)
4) Raburn
5) Brown
6) Baker
7) McDonald
(Gap)
8) Francisco
9) Young
10) DeRosa

With the bottom three there not really preferable to making the best of what’s already available in house.

So, yeah: Scott Hairston makes sense for the Mets, and, since Hairston reportedly seeks playing time above all else, the Mets make sense for Hairston. Depends on the deal, of course, and since Hairston’s hardly Nick Johnson in his ability to get on-base he’s not the ideal fit for the Mets’ lineup. But he’s the best of what’s available, and his awesome laser shots made for some of the team’s greatest moments of 2011 and 2012.