August 15, 2005
The Ten Things I Hate About Koo
by: Matt Gelb on Aug 15, 2005 12:00 AM | Filed under: Articles

Originally, this was going to be a list of things to look for in the final two months of the 2005 season, but then I decided that rather than predicting what Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya may do, I’ll tell them myself. So without further ado, my demands for the remainder of the 2005 season.

1. Hey, it’s about time we get a little younger out there.

The recent rash of injuries that have beset the Mets is a perfectly acceptable excuse for the necessity to employ replacement level talent on the Major League roster. Only problem is that the Mets have been utilizing replacement level talent at a handful of their starting spots. There’s two catches to this: a. The players they are using are below replacement level and b. The players that they are using are above the age of 35.

Sorry, when you’re out of a playoff race, that does not fly. We moaned and groaned when Gerald Williams was recalled on June 9, 2004 and here we are, more than a year later and he is now the starting centerfielder. Bad. There are a few younger outfield options down in the minors, however I would not advocate going the Pagan or even Milledge route until September 1 when rosters expand and arbitration clocks can stay on hold.

Jose Offerman may have been a serviceable veteran pinch hitter for a team in the Wild Card race, but on these new Mets, there should be no home for a 36-year-old position player who can hardly play the field.

In the bullpen, Danny Graves and Jose Santiago are taking up oxygen. Sure they don’t pitch often, but in three weeks Norfolk’s season could be over and Heath Bell, Royce Ring and Blake McGinley won’t be pitching at all.

2. Mets trainers: listen to your heart, not the injured player.

Carlos Beltran is hurt. Carlos Beltran is being paid around $104 million over the next six years. The Mets are not in contention. Carlos Beltran should not play hurt for the rest of 2005. He’s already played hurt and look what it did. Remember when you listened to Jose Reyes? Yeah, he was healthy, uh huh. Do not make the same mistake again.

3. Commence the auditions for the 2006 catcher.

When the clock hits 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, September 1, the Mets should promote Mike Jacobs from Double-A Binghamton. Going into the offseason, the biggest uncertainty will be the position of catcher and would it hurt to get Jacobs, considered the best in-house option, some Major League plate appearances? The answer is no and his four weeks in the Majors could go a long way in helping determine the catcher’s situation for ’06.

The Mike Piazza Farewell Tour will be in full swing during the month of September, but it is important that the Mets be conscious of the impending hole. Ramon Castro should get increased playing time in addition to Jacobs’ recall.

4. Promote Petit for a playoff run – in Virginia.

The organizational policy of the New York Mets has always been to send minor leaguers to a lower level for the playoffs, but last year the team violated its own unwritten rule and experimented with Yusmeiro Petit in Binghamton for the Eastern League playoffs. This year Binghamton won’t be going back to the playoffs, but Triple-A affiliate Norfolk holds the second-best record in the International League at 70-51. Move Petit up one level for the Triple-A playoffs and keep a very close eye on him.

Headed into Spring Training ’06 he will have had a full season in Double-A and experienced some time in Triple-A. Not a bad resume for a pitcher who will be 21 in March 2006.

5. Keep Jae Seo in the rotation and do not allow Tom Glavine to reach his option.

Warning, pipe dream to follow: Sure it’s a stretch, but it is also a no-brainer. Do I like Tom Glavine? Yes. Am I impressed by his recent performances? Yes. Do I want him back next year with the money he’ll be earning if the option vests? No. Do I want Tom Glavine back next year? Sure, at the right price.

Glavine very well may make the perfect fifth starter in 2006, but last time I checked, fifth starters don’t earn $10.5 million. And if one of the younger starters emerges in 2006 (Bannister, Petit, etc.) the Mets would find themselves trapped underneath the massive contract.

I would advocate bringing Glavine back in 2006 for lesser money, if given the chance, but the Mets should restrict him from reaching 164.1 innings in any way possible. Whether it is a demotion to the bullpen or a trade, now that he has cleared waivers it is a second option and should be explored.

Jae Seo deserves a better fate within this organization. When Trachsel comes back, he should at least be guaranteed a spot in the bullpen, where perhaps he can take the Aaron Heilman route. Unfortunately, the better option for both the Mets and Seo at this point is to showcase him and explore an offseason trade when his value is at its peak.

6. Okay, since number five is not happening, how about a six man rotation Willie?

It’s not every season where you remove your third best starter from the rotation twice – but there is the possibility it could happen to Seo. In a playoff race or not, both Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine (even if he insists no) would benefit from an extra day between starts.

Steve Trachsel is a fine Major League back-end starter, but how many fifth starters will comprise of the Mets rotation? And is there anyone who rationally believes that Trachsel can replicate the sparkling performances that Seo has demonstrated in 2005?

Bobby V did it with an aging rotation in 1999 and went 14-13 with the six man setup during September and October. Do you remember that twenty-seventh game? Al Leiter pitched that beauty.

7. Speaking of Aaron Heilman, what’s up with him?

One of the most intriguing players of 2005 has been Aaron Heilman. In what will be his first full season in the Major Leagues, Heilman has gone from throwing the one-hitter in April, to accepting a different role as a relief pitcher, to successfully adapting to that role, and now to a mystery. Heilman’s outstanding peripherals (78/23 K/BB, 1.65 G/F ratio, 5 HR in 80.1) detail what should be a very solid reliever, but during the entire season Heilman has displayed the propensity to self-destruct in critical situations.

A goal of the Mets for the final eight weeks of the season should be to give Heilman increased roles in the bullpen, such as eighth innings or even a save situation ninth inning here or there in order to see how he responds. Let’s face it, Roberto Hernandez does not have a future on this club and he should be used far less, and in entirely different situations for the remainder of the season. Plus, are we sure that Braden Looper will be closing games at Shea in 2006? Maybe Heilman should be explored in the closer’s role.

8. Give Mike Pelfrey whatever he wants and have him locked up and ready to go for AFL.

Here’s where the Mets went wrong in the signing process of now-injured Phil Humber. Negotiations with Humber and his agent went on so long that the Mets signed him past the deadline required to place a player on an Arizona Fall League roster. Pelfrey has not pitched in a few months and it would be in the Mets’ best interest to get him on the mound during the fall in order to not have him completely rusty for March. Simple as that.

9. Discover the sure-fire way to neutralize the The Kaz Matsui Effect.

Ah yes, we’ve come to what very well could be the biggest conundrum facing the Metropolitans. Kaz Matsui, with one year remaining on his three year, $21 million contract, has convinced many, time and time again that he is not a Major League everyday player.

So, what should they do with him?

That is the hardest question. The good news is that once they figure what to do with KazMat, there are plenty of eligible replacements for the starting second base job – and none of them are named after a fish, or the capital of Egypt.

Anderson Hernandez and Jeff Keppinger both are enjoying eye-opening seasons in the minors, both are second basemen and both come from a very different background heading into 2005. Keppinger, notoriously a sound hitting prospect, played much of the last month of 2004 in New York and showed some flashes of everyday material, but not nearly enough. Keppinger has recently been fighting an injury that has surely cost him about a month’s worth of Major League time in ’05.

Hernandez was acquired for backup catcher Vance Wilson and burst onto the Met organizational scene in 2005 with a brilliant offensive year in Binghamton and now in Norfolk.

Cairo and Anderson are backups, and good backups at that. They should stay as backups.

10. Lock David Wright up until the year 2022. Keep David Wright in the three hole and don’t move him down in the order until the year 2021 or so.

The final two months of 2004 was The David Wright Show and with each passing day in 2005, Wright accumulates more and more godlike qualities.

Wright recently celebrated one year of service in the Majors. Just in case you were wondering, it went something like this:

162 GP, 593 AB, 96 R, 41 2B, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 54 BB, 104 K, 14 SB, .292/.356/.509

He’s 22.

23 Responses to “The Ten Things I Hate About Koo”

  1. Comment posted by Russlan on August 15, 2005 at 12:24 am (#9316)

    I know the Mets last three losses have been very, very tough but it’s a little early to give up. They are only 4 games back and will play the teams ahead of them a lot in the next month or so. This team is due for some good luck.

  2. Comment posted by mets on August 15, 2005 at 12:50 am (#9317)

    wow..great write up. Its so funny to see the contrasting routes taken by a winning organization when faced with injuries, the braves, and a losing organization, the mets.

    The mets continue to START and give major roles to players whom the MLB grim reaper is calling for (Williams, Anderson, Cairo, Offerman, and even Piazza and Matsui.

    When the braves faced their injury plague did they start Julio Franco, Raul Mondesi, and call up roster fillers from their AAA club? Hell no they didnt, they went with youth. The mets brass continues time after time to make such stubborn and safe player management decisions. Its insulting to the fans and leaves me continually scratching my head. I want a GM with some guts not just a gm who is a good salesman.

    RIP 2005 let the audtions begin

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  4. Comment posted by Matt Gelb on August 15, 2005 at 1:16 am (#9318)

    I know the Mets last three losses have been very, very tough but it’s a little early to give up.

    I no longer set myself up for disappointment.

    This way, if they miraculously get back in it, I’ll be suprisingly happy.

  5. Comment posted by PEG on August 15, 2005 at 1:16 am (#9319)

    In defense of this year’s Mets, they don’t have the youth that the Braves have especially in the outfield. Maybe if this was next year and Mildridge was a year older, but look at what happened with the Yankees in the outfield.

    Look Keppinger would have been called up if he hadn’t been hurt. They called up Diaz and started him all weekend in LA. Tell me who’s down in the minors whom the Mets are truly holding back.

    If there’s anyone to blame it’s that ESPN hack Steve Phillips, who left the organization in poor shape. And that Duquette for getting us Diaz and Keppinger, as well as Omar for trading for Hernandez for three of our top prospects.

  6. Comment posted by Bada on August 15, 2005 at 8:17 am (#9330)

    “And that Duquette for getting us Diaz and Keppinger, as well as Omar for trading for Hernandez for three of our top prospects. ”

    Three of our top prospects? Omar traded Vance Wilson for Hernandez. What prospects are you talking about??
    Trading Burnitz for Diaz was a good move. Obtaining Keppinger with Benson turned out to be a good deal as well. Huber was the only loss in that deal. Matt Peterson has done nothing in the minors.

  7. Comment posted by Goldy on August 15, 2005 at 9:21 am (#9332)

    Great write up, Matt. Sound ideas, good realism, no misplaced sympathy. Well done.

    With the exception of that last line, I agree with PEG. The problem is we really don’t have many major league-ready prospects right now. Many of our best guys are still too young and too unpolished. Hopefully with September 1 we’ll at least see the organization taking some chances and trying out some new things. But I’m not holding my breath.

  8. Comment posted by Frank on August 15, 2005 at 9:49 am (#9334)

    Good work.

    I really, really think the mets don’t even want to even look like they are taking steps from keeping Glavine from his option/money.

    First, I’m sure if the Mets took any odd steps (including a six-man rotation) that cost Glavine starts and innings- he could take a dispute to an arbitrator and have a decentchance to win.

    Second, if it ever got around MLB that the Mets did that to classy veterans…. the damage would be a lot more than one season with a bad contract for Glavine.

    Plus, you know, $10 million for just one year isn’t that bad a contract for a New York team to have to swallow. Bringing another .500 plus veteran pitcher in here to fill that role would require multiple guaranteed years (say 3 years for $14 million or so for a Eric Milton type character). Yeah, the dollar figure works against the Mets, but you get a lot less on the “risk” angle.

  9. Comment posted by Sam Burns on August 15, 2005 at 10:40 am (#9336)

    Matt Gelb, Even if all your demands are met for next year it all won’t help, because the main demand is missing. Getting rid of Randolph. Until he is fired NOTHING will help the Mets. He is a cancer on this team.

  10. Comment posted by Rob on August 15, 2005 at 11:20 am (#9338)

    1 – Agree

    2 – Agree to a point. I think that if a player can play without risking further injury, he should. Having the superstar of your team play while he’s hurt sets a good example for the rest of the team. Besides, I’d rather have an 80% Beltran than a 100% Williams.

    3,4 – Agree

    5 – I hate the money argument. This is the Mets, not the D-Rays, Twins or other money strapped club. If Glavine can excel as your fifth starter, then he should be it regardless of how much money you pay him. According to that argument, you shouldn’t take advantage or Reyes, and Wright’s production because they are making a combined 800000. I loathe that argument!

    6-10 – Couldn’t agree more.

    Mets 2006!!!!

  11. Comment posted by Bring back Edgardo on August 15, 2005 at 11:44 am (#9342)

    Nice article but I’d like to point out something about #4, regarding Petit. What a lot of people on this website don’t seem to know is that the talent level at AA in a lot of leagues is better than that at AAA, which is often used for MLB veteran reserves. Just look at some of the names of our AAA roster and you’ll know what i’m talking about — Gerald Williams (formely), Brian Daubach, Eric Valent, etc. So moving Petit up to AAA is pretty insignificant…

    Also, regarding 5, we need to do whatever we can do move Glavine NOW. He has been pitching well and his value is peaking. Don’t let the opportunity get away, I don’t want to see his ass on this team next year. His signing felt wrong from the start (him being a fixture of the Braves rotation for so long), and he has been a pretty big failure for the Mets. It’s time to move on and get rid of his overpaid ass. And please don’t tell me anymore about how despite his ERA offen hovering around 5.00, his “professional” behavior can set a good influence for the younger pitchers. Pedro, Benson and Trax can lead in that way. Glavine Must Go.

  12. Comment posted by Dan in Gettysburg on August 15, 2005 at 11:52 am (#9343)

    Nice article but I’d like to point out something about #4, regarding Petit. What a lot of people on this website don’t seem to know is that the talent level at AA in a lot of leagues is better than that at AAA, which is often used for MLB veteran reserves.

    I think that moving hitters to AAA is more important than moving pitchers to AAA, because you see a lot more “crafty veterans” and breaking stuff there than you do in AA. But I’ve never heard something similar for pitchers…

    Either way, I’d like to see if Petit can continue his strikeout potential in any move upward, so I’d have no problem with moving him to AAA.

    For #3, there’s at least some chance that the Mets bring back Piazza for one more year in limited duty, maybe splitting time with Ramon Castro. The Mets have gotten a LOT from the catcher spot this year; they rank 7th in the bigs in catcher OPS at .756. Piazza has also been throwing a bit better of late…

    I don’t know if I’d advocate it, but it could happen.

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  14. Comment posted by Matt Gelb on August 15, 2005 at 12:11 pm (#9344)

    I think the promotion to Triple-A is more of a symbolic one than an actual promotion. It gets him experience at all levels and next season in Spring Training when the Mets may be considering carrying him up to New York, they can say he’s had seasoning at every minor league level.

    Triple-A probably has less talent, but more players who have been in the Majors before. Can’t hurt Petit to pitch for Norfolk, especially in a playoff setting.

  15. Comment posted by Mark in Astoria on August 15, 2005 at 12:49 pm (#9346)

    Yeah, let’s move on Petit. I wonder how much of his ERA is made up of HRs allowed. (That’s been his handicap right?) I’m guessing the dimensions in Shea would leave a few of those in the park. Yup, right there in the gap for our man Ice to run down.

  16. Comment posted by Michael Oliver on August 15, 2005 at 3:26 pm (#9360)

    Yeah mark. The Eastern League is a MAJOR hitters league. Even moving to Norfolk should reduce that. I am not overly concerned with the homers allowed. He has been horrible to lefties, but he needs to work on that in AAA next season. Having a pitch that can get lefites out consistantly.

  17. Comment posted by Dan in L.A. on August 15, 2005 at 4:03 pm (#9367)

    Wait a second, so the argument *for* the six-man rotation is that the Mets used it in ’99 and they went 14-13?? In a PENNANT RACE?? Wow, I’m impressed. Or, y’know, not.

    Why don’t we actually find four pitchers who can help us win (and a fifth for when we need him) rather than trying a different mediocrity for each day of the week? Pedro, Benson, Seo, and Zambrano, with Heilman available in the bullpen for when we need a fifth. (I’d rather start AH, but I realize the team is heavily invested in Z.) Trade Glavine while we can, even if we have to pay some salary. Trachsel, I dunno, but I’m damned if I’m gonna cost Pedro and Benson starts just to get him some.

    Btw, Pedro was really worn out on 4 days’ rest yesterday, wasn’t he? (Seriously, I need to pull the stats on 4 days’ vs. 5 days’ for him this year, just so I put this “use him once and then rest him for two weeks so his po’ widdle arm doesn’t fall off” crap to, ahem, rest.)

  18. Comment posted by Uncle Bob on August 15, 2005 at 4:07 pm (#9368)

    Good Job Matt. In addition to seeing Hernandez at second and jacobs behind the plate, I would like to see Harper at first base. He’s a 6’4″ left handed bat that has been hitting the snot out the ball.

  19. Comment posted by The Real Marty on August 15, 2005 at 4:16 pm (#9369)

    OK I’m the contrarian. Matt I’m on the other side of your arguments.

    1) You aren’t going to pull up a rookie to sit on the end of the bench. First it takes a “special” guy to play once a week and maybe all that is, is pinch running. Most guys would bitch and moan about their playing time. Even if it isn’t in the press, think about every team you’ve ever been on, everyone thinks they are better than they are. You really need a guy who is just hanging on to take that role. Of course when both CF go down and you actually have to play ICE that is a problem. But he did HR in his first game.

    2) Carlos Beltran has a broken cheek bone. This will not effect his future abilities.

    3) I don’t think we are out of it, so I’m not ready for auditions.


    5) Come on now, this is silly. Can you spell grievance? What do you think the effect would be on future free agents? You don’t think players talk?

    6)Maybe one time, but otherwise, it gets pitchers out of rhythm. I thought it was a bad idea when Bobby V did it. Seaver ripped him about it, and I will defer to his opinion.

    7) I think we are way too in love with Heilman. We wanted him off the team in April and now that his ERA is 4.15 we want him to close?? This is the backup QB mentality. Everyone loves the guy not getting the chance.

    8)Pelphrey won’t see a mound until spring training. I don’t care what Humber says. College pitchers get abused by their coaches. Giving the guy time off is not going to hurt. Start him up in the spring. He could be up on the club by September.

    If you want to think outside of the box, try to trade Glavine and Traschel for anything now. They aren’t in your future plans and because of the dearth of available starting pitching, you might get something.

    If you want Seo and Heilman in your rotation, you only have 3 spots left. Pedro, Benson, VZ.

    Then someone has to go when YP is ready to go. I’d also think Bannister has to go too.

  20. Comment posted by DP on August 15, 2005 at 4:18 pm (#9370)

    Fire Willie and the list would be perfect

  21. Comment posted by Michael Oliver on August 15, 2005 at 4:54 pm (#9379)

    I don’t have the stats, but Pedro is much worse after four days rest than five. I’m too lazy to look it up too.

  22. Comment posted by Dan in Gettysburg on August 16, 2005 at 12:08 am (#9391)

    I think we are way too in love with Heilman. We wanted him off the team in April and now that his ERA is 4.15 we want him to close?? This is the backup QB mentality. Everyone loves the guy not getting the chance.

    The peripherals are much better than the ERA. It could be simple bad luck… or maybe something deeper.

  23. Comment posted by Max in NJ on August 16, 2005 at 12:59 am (#9392)

    As of July 11, 2005, according to the NY Daily News, “Martinez is 5-2 with a 2.75 ERA on standard rest this season, 5-1 with a 2.53 ERA with extra time.” Not much difference at all at that time. I certainly wouldn’t call him “much worse” on 4 days rest, again, at that time. Of course, about a month has passed between then and now. I don’t know what the updated stats are.

  24. Comment posted by Max in NJ on August 16, 2005 at 1:54 am (#9394)

    P.S. Regarding Pedro and 4 days vs. 5 days rest, obviously I didn’t take the time to look up peripheral stats — I just grabbed the quickest thing I could find. I realize wins/losses and ERA aren’t the most meaningful.

    Pedro pitches best when he’s a) healthy and b) well-managed. It’s unclear if he’s totally healthy right now, i.e. what’s the scoop on his foot? I think managing Pedro, i.e. pitch counts, innings, looking at how stressful a start was, whether it was at home or on the road — in other words, looking at the whole picture — is more important than just flatly saying he does better on 5 days rest. (I think the Red Sox managed him well prior to 2004, for example.)

    Basically, I’m not trying to argue one view over another. What I want is for the Mets to manage Pedro well to give him — and the Mets — the best chance to succeed.

    If giving Pedro more rest (and possibly fewer total starts) will give him an edge and help him be even more effective than he is, then naturally I’m in favor of it.

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  26. Comment posted by Gategem on August 17, 2005 at 12:49 am (#9452)

    I agree with most of your comments except “Unfortunately, the better option for both the Mets and Seo at this point is to showcase him and explore an offseason trade when his value is at its peak.” After Saturday’s game Peterson said about Seo, when describing the difference between Seo in Spring Training and now “The difference between then and now? Immeasurable” He also compared Seo’s pitch sequences yesterday to the usually masterful Pedro Martinez.
    Seo not only added the cut fastball, splitter and curve to his fastball-changeup repertoire but used different speeds for each as if shifting gears. He could be a top of the line pitcher. I would not trade him.