Monday, March 21, 2005


A few transactions to get things going...

The week started off busy for a few baseball teams, with the Mets and Dodgers making a trade (much to the chagrin of Yankees executives, who despise Paul DePodesta getting anything done after the Johnson debacle), Lance Berkman getting a massive extension, and rumors of Juan Encarnacion finding a new outfield corner to poison.

Steve Trachsel requires back surgery to fix the discomfort and pain he has been feeling as of late, which means he will be out of action for the Mets for a good chunk of time. The Mets had been looking at Tim Redding as a possible replacement out of Houston, but settled for a swap of 1B/C Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii of the Dodgers. Ishii leaving the rotation in Los Angeles means that Edwin Jackson is probably going to be stepping in to the role of the #5 starter, and if he is able to fulfill his promise Dodger fans won't miss Ishii. As for the Mets, Trachsel was in the midst of the decline stage of his career, but Ishii may not be the best thing for them. In the Mets defense, they needed someone, and can't afford to give up too much for a pitcher at this point. If only they still had Scott Kazmir, then this wouldn't be an issue. We'll chalk that one up to the old regime though, so Minaya gets a break for now.

Ishii had a translated ERA over 5.00 last year, and was on the walks leaderboards. He had a 99:98 K:BB ratio (good God) and was lucky to pitch in LA where batting averages are depressed and a lot of those runners were kept from scoring. Shea Stadium is pitcher friendly as well, but expect Ishii to complete his implosion. The Mets only gave up Jason Phillips though, and he is a backup catcher at this point in his career, especially after the failed Mike Piazza at first, Phillips behind the plate experiment. Phillips will have his uses for the Dodgers though, since they are having an offensive issue behind the plate themselves.

Lance Berkman got a 6 year, $86 million extension on his contract that will run from 2005-2010, with an option for 2011. I love Lance Berkman and all the numbers he puts up. He is 29 years old though, and the Astros are going to be paying him for years he has already produced. I am not saying he is going to fall off the planet immediately, but this contract is only going to have production = money spent for the first few years. Berkman will be 35 at the end of the 6 year phase of the contract, and knowing how much the Astros love to keep fan favorites around (especially when their names start with B) the option for the 7th year will most likely be picked up to keep San Francisco for overpaying for a veteran past his prime. Berkman's contract will not be an issue until the last few seasons of it, so the Astros should not be criticized as much as say, for the Jeff Bagwell deal that will pay him $17 million to hit .260 with less than 25 HR's soon. If that does happen though, since Berkman is not a speedy player, and thus will probably not age that well, I can see everyone asking the Astros if they have learned their lessons about contracts that are way too long and pay too much money. I would rather the Astros made a 3-4 year deal with Berkman paying him a few million more per season than he will make now than give him the 6-7 year deal with a teeny bit less cash and run the risk of having 2004 Bagwell version 2.0 on their hands.

Juan Encarnacion is rumored to be moving to the Pirates at some point if Jeff Conine can show he is healthy enough to start in the outfield for the Marlins. This deal would make me much more confident in the thought that the Fish are capable of dethroning the Braves as division champs, solely because Encarnacion will not be in the lineup (I would have said, "because Encarnacion will not be hitting", but that is the problem with him, isn't it?)

I also sigh at the prospect of Alex Sanchez getting a job so quickly after his release by a team who almost set the loss record two seasons ago. If they don't want him, why would you?

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