Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ike Davis, and Don't Sleep on Fernando Martinez

Just a quick note here today, as I've had this on my mind for a while.

We've been talking about Fernando Martinez for a very long time. I'm sure it seems like he's got to be at least 23 or 24 years old by now -- and how could he not be? He's been on top of prospect lists since 2006. I could understand people getting frustrated at his lack of development, or his injuries.

The thing is - Fernando Martinez is still by far our best prospect. He only turned 21 this month.

I'm hearing a lot about Ike Davis recently. Ike Davis is alright - but he isn't within a mile of Fernando. Today, Metsblog had a post called Ike Davis is a Starting 1B. In it, they say "the Mets like Davis a lot, as do other teams, but they know he needs more time in the minors… but, not that much time."

Yeah... um, really? Davis is one year removed from hitting .256/.326/.326 in short-season A ball in Brooklyn. His 2009 season was much better, but as others have pointed out:

His ability to make contact is becoming a concern, [as he struck out 29% of the time in AA]... [Y]ou have to question his ability to hit for a consistently high average.

[In addition] while he hit .309 during his stay at Double-A, it came courtesy of a .381 BABIP. [He] will likely be exposed further as he moves up the ranks.

For anyone who doesn't know, BABIP stands for batting-average-on-balls-in-play. And for Ike last year, his BABIP was extremely high. Sure, his performance in AA last year was fantastic, hitting .309/.386/.565, but it was in only 207 at-bats. In that small of a sample, there is a lot of luck involved.

I don't think Ike Davis is close to the big leagues, and I think that the hype surrounding him and his eventual promotion to the Majors is extremely overblown. For example, Metsblog reported that the consensus on Davis is that "he seems poised and destined to play in the big leagues."

So who is almost ready? Fernando Martinez. Fernando hit .290/.337/.540 in AAA last season at the age of 20. And this is building on a season where, at the age of 19, and after a slow April, he hit .303 in AA from May til the end of the year(1). That's now 400+ at bats in AA and AAA at the age of 20 or younger where he obliterated the competition.

Where was Ike Davis at the age of 20? In his second year at Arizona State, over a year from being drafted to the Mets.

Ike Davis is way too far for the Mets to be making plans around him. He might take a whole year in AAA, he might take two years, or -- as he has not shown us anything over an extended period of time at a high level -- he may never make it to the show. He might, as Keith Law fears, not learn to hit breaking balls and be overmatched by major league pitching.

The one guy that should factor into our plans for next season is Fernando Martinez. Fernando needs more time in AAA as well, but remember - he is still only 21. He is phenomenally talented. I expect him to make a big contribution this year.

(1) Courtesy of, he was 72 of 237 from May to September, with 22 extra base hits.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why I Am Rooting For The Yankees

I have finally been forced to confront my greatest baseball-related fear. My two most hated rivals are facing off in the World Series.

There is no avenue of escape. There is no more avoiding the inevitable. One by one, challengers to these two teams were dismantled and dispatched. Both teams rolled through the playoffs, marching inexorably closer to my nightmare scenario.

It was clear for a while that this might happen, so I, like many other Mets fans, have had time to process it. To weigh very carefully where our rooting interest will lie -- and make no mistake, Mets fans will be watching.

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees will be facing off to determine this year's champion. After much deliberation, I have decided to root for the Yankees.

Man, that is hard to say.

I think that Matt Cerrone over at has an interesting take on the Mets fan's choice. He said that to him, "in the end, for Mets fans, the choice is personal, and basically comes down to your typical relationship with Yankee fans." And that, to a certain extent, is true(1).

But I think he buries the TRUE reason for his and my choice in the next line. He explains that although Yankee fans "boast of their success and laugh at our failure... typically, one has nothing to do with the other." Exactly.

Sure, we share the city with the Yankees. And sure, when the Yankees stomp the Mets, we hear about it ALL DAY LONG. And yes, we have to read the newspapers, and listen to talk radio, and all of that. But in the end, the Yankees have NOTHING to do with the Mets. The Phillies, however, do.

The Phillies are our natural rival. The Phillies and Mets play 17 times a year, and the Phillies want to beat our brains in. The Phillies won OUR division and took OUR playoff spot. The Phillies dominate us, they eat our lunch, they own us at the moment.

The Yankees, aside from a coincidence on geography, are irrelevant. I'm a Mets FAN. I'm a nobody-hater. And that's why I have to root for the Yankees.

Matt Cerrone eventually draws a distinction between Yankees and Phillies fans, saying that Yankees fans are not "arrogant," while "under no circumstance will a Phillies fan ever take pity on the Mets." I don't think that is necessary.

The Yankees are like that annoying brother that bothers us and we share a house with and that we want to strangle sometimes. But the Phillies are like a criminal prowling our streets. The Phillies wish to harm us -- and they should -- because it's US or THEM. Only one can win.

So on Wednesday, I'm going to be rooting for the Yankees. In a way, I think it might even feel good. But there is only one way to find out -- and when the first pitch is thrown, I'll see if I can actually root for the pinstripes.

(1) For years I have tried to explain to people the cyclical nature of the relationship between Mets and Yankees fans in New York. Outsiders never understand, and even those of us who have been in New York all these years sometimes fail to grasp why their feelings toward the other team changes so drastically.

For me, it has always been that the MORE success the Yankees have, the more unbearable and unsufferable their fans become. That might be because with more success, fair-weather fans and jocks and idiots will come out of the woodwork and say things like "COUNT DA RINGZZZ" and other such nonsense. This, as opposed to when the Yankees hit some difficulties (well, relatively speaking) and the casual idiot fan loses interest. Only then, do respectable fans remain.

That has been my experience. Through my formative years, I had no particular issue with the Yankees or their fans. When they won in 1996, it was not a disaster. However, I was in high school in Manhattan for their three-peat in 1998, 1999, and 2000, culminating with a win over, of course, the Mets. During that three year stretch, and the years following it, Yankee fans seemed to be the most obnoxious, arrogant, stupid fans on the planet. I was really awakening in my baseball consciousness at that point, and I thought I hated the Yankees more than any entity on the planet.

But then something weird happened. They lost the World Series for the second time in three years in 2003. In 2004, they suffered the worst choke in the history of baseball, losing to the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. And things changed.

There seemed to be less Yankee fans roaming the streets in September and October. The ones I encountered started becoming... dare I say, almost human. By the time 2006 came along, Yankee fans almost seemed like Mets fans. The Yankees were still an unstoppable beast in the American League, winning 95 games or more almost every season -- but the people following that team were beginning to act like baseball fans again, instead of entitled pr*cks.

I imagine that it will be like that again someday, when the Yankees rattle off a few years of dominance again in the playoffs. Perhaps roles will be reversed some time, and Mets fans will be flush with victory and become overbearing and insufferable.

But right now, I respect the Yankees. I respect their fans. And I always, in good times and in bad, love and respect the people who I know who are Yankee fans but do not fall victim to what I discussed above. In fact, the majority of my close friends who follow baseball are very reasonable, normal, intelligent baseball people and also Yankee fans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jim Thome and Pinch Hitters

I was reading the Hardball Times tonight (excellent) and came across their article breaking down the Phillies win over the Dodgers, when one little paragraph caught my attention:

Another baffling decision was not pinch-hitting Thome with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of a 9-4 Phillies lead in Game Five. Torre elected to let Martin strike out with one away, and then let Casey “the Grinder/Battler/insert stupid analyst cliché here” Blake ground out for the 9,000th time this series. All the while, Thome waited in the on-deck circle. I fail to see the logic in this. Both Martin and Blake struggled in the series, and both are much worse candidates to face Ryan Madson than Thome.

I thought to myself -- self, is that true? I wonder how Thome did this year. Turns out, with the White Sox, the 38-year-old Thome was having a typical season: Hitting only .249 but with an 864 OPS thanks to his walks and power. But then I saw his performance with the Dodgers. 17 pinch-hit appearances, 4 hits, all singles.

Curious, I took a look at his career splits:

as 1B: 999 OPS
as 3B: 937 OPS
as DH: 922 OPS
as pinch hitter: .220/.343/.378 ... 721 OPS, in 99 plate appearances

Oops, Dodgers? Did they acquire Thome without knowing he couldn't pinch hit well? Then, come playoff time, never want to use him in a big spot?

Is that merely an aberration, and Thome isn't worse at pinch hitting than he is regularly? I realize that most hitters would probably be worse at pinch hitting, but is it typically so severe?

Alex Rodriguez: as 3B: 967, as PH: 0-for-9

Manny Ramirez: as LF: 1011, as RF: 1011, as PH: 4-for-30, 541 OPS

[Interesting footnote on Manny... as a LF and as a RF, he has the same career OPS and over 3200 at bats at each position. His LF batting average is .311, his RF batting average is .318. His OBP and SLG are exactly the same at each.]

Carlos Beltran: as CF: 860, as PH: 3-for-19, 554 OPS

Obviously very unscientific here -- but it seems like struggling to a huge degree as a pinch hitter is common for stars(1). That said -- what was Los Angeles thinking when they traded for Thome?

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti envisions Thome playing a role similar to the one Matt Stairs filled for the World Series champion Phillies last year -- he hit a key home run against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. - ESPN

Hm.(2) I love baseball.


(1) Curious about pinch hitter extraordinaire Lenny Harris? His career OPS was only 667. As a pinch hitter, it was 654. So he was merely no worse than usual. But in context -- he should have been viewed as a more fearsome pinch hitter than any of the above guys (A-Rod, Manny, Beltran) should be.

(2) What the hell? Matt Stairs is amazing. A hitter with a career 839 OPS, he owns a shocking 885 OPS as a pinch hitter. That's a .268/.377/.508 line over 325 at-bats. The man is a clutch god. I guess he just loves the feeling of guys hammering his ass so much that he steps it up a notch.(3)


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can Angel Pagan Play Everyday in 2010?

I think so.

Taken by itself, Angel Pagan's 2009 performance is MORE than enough to justify handing him a starting job in 2010. He hit .306/.350/.487, with 11 triples and 6 home runs in only 343 at bats. He struck out only 56 times and stole 14 bases compared to 7 caught. He is only 27 years old, entering his prime, and he is not yet a free agent. He played excellent defense, and is well-known for being the most athletic Met.

Is that enough to justify handing him the keys? His track record has been spotty.

After an unspectacular minor league career, we lost Pagan to the Cubs in 2006. He hit .247/.306/.394 in 170 at-bats -- about in line with his previously middling minor league performance. In 2007, he about replicated that performance, hitting .264/.306/.439 over 148 at-bats. As we all know by now, the Mets then traded with the Cubs to reacquire Pagan before the 2008 season.

In 2008, Pagan started looking like a different player. After almost 2500 at bats in the minors, was something starting to click for him? Although his OPS was only 720 as a Met that season, his OBP increased to .346 and he impressed the team with his speed.

I'm a big fan of Pagan. I enjoyed watching him play at the start of 2008. I appreciated his gutsy catch in Los Angeles on May 7th where he hurt his shoulder. I respected the fact that he didn't seem to complain or gripe when the Mets called his injury a "bruise" instead of acknowledging a bigger issue which required surgery(1). But even I didn't see this season's breakout performance coming.

We know he hit well. But as for his fielding, the metrics seem to love him. In 2009, his UZR/150 was 26.8 in left field and 45.7 in right field. According to, his fielding was 5.5 runs above replacement, even though he only played 88 games. Along with his hitting, in free agent dollars, he was the equivalent of a $12 million dollar player(2).

So the stats *do* match the perception. He makes hard plays look routine with his speed and instincts.

But can he keep it up? I imagine that is the million dollar question. I doubt many people see Pagan as an option, but I also think that not many people realize just how good he was this season. I think if people knew that by hitting .306 and playing excellent defense he provided almost as much value as Jason Bay did, they would think differently(3). And he's NOT A FREE AGENT YET, so he's cheap.

I think that acquiring a bat is going to be the big talking point of the offseason -- the question of where is more important. As for me, I'd MUCH rather have Angel Pagan be an every day player than Daniel Murphy.

I don't think it's crazy to expect Angel to be able to hit .280/.340/.460 this year at least (which would be a 37 point drop from his 2009 OPS). If he did, he'd be good enough to have the job, no doubt about it. I think he can do that, or even match what he was able to do last season.

It is probably true that a LF is going to be easier to acquire than a 1B, but as we progress in this offseason, it's going to be exceptionally important for the Mets to recognize what they've already got. It'll be interesting to see what everyone else thinks(4).

(1) I guess one could argue whether being a good "organizational soldier" is a good thing or not when your organization is as dysfunctional as the Mets. But my compliment to Pagan centers more on his willingness to be a team player, do his rehab, and get back on the field as soon as he can without rocking the boat. I respect that.

(2) For reference, David Wright, who played all season, was only a $15 million dollar player).

(3) Jason Bay, with his 36 home runs but an UZR/150 of -8.7, ended up 34 runs above replacement, for a value of $15.3 million)

(4) had a poll today about Pagan, giving three options. Here are the results:

# He is an every-day player, so long as the team acquires another big-time bat for the lineup. (54%, 1,985 Votes)
# He is not an every-day player, period, end of story. (32%, 1,169 Votes)
# He can start every-day, regardless of the players around him. (14%, 499 Votes)

That's 86% which thinks Pagan isn't good enough to start right now.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Following Up On The Milledge Trade

On December 12, 2007, I said this about the trade:

We traded 22-year old Lastings Milledge for a 31-year old catcher who can’t hit and for a 28-year old right-fielder worse than him. We traded him within the division. This is a nightmare scenario.

So where do we stand today, two years later?

Brian Schneider, after posting a 707 OPS and having a bad season defensively, did even worse this year. He started 52 games, hit .218 and slugged .335. His 65 OPS+ was second worst among all Mets who got at least 100 at bats this season (ahead of only Jeremy Reed).

Ryan Church, whether justifiably struggling after his concussions or not, also stunk. He posted a 707 OPS and was traded for Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur, shockingly, was pretty good in his time with the Mets, batting .311, with a .338 OBP and slugging .498. He didn't set the world on fire, but drove in 41 runs in 70 games. He was competent, with a 118 OPS+.

Where does that leave us? Brian Schneider will be non-tendered, leaving us only with Jeff Francoeur. So the trade essentially becomes Lastings Milledge for Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur is a right fielder who has a career .311 on base percentage. His career OPS+ is 92. He strikes out four times more than he walks, and he has no speed. His arm in right field is powerful, but hasn't shown that he covers a particularly large amount of ground in right. He made only one error this season, and had 11 outfield assists.

Milledge, on the other hand, was injured early in the year. Since his return from the disabled list with Pittsburgh, he batted .291, posted a .333 on base percentage, and slugged .395. He beats Francoeur in average and on base percentage. He is an accomplished base stealer, having stolen 24 bases for Washington in 2008. He is a natural corner outfielder, but can play a passable center field if pressed. In 56 games, he made no errors and had an excellent 6 outfield assists.

So, who wins? Francoeur with the power, or Milledge with the on-base percentage and speed? How about a tie breaker?

Age: Francoeur 25. Milledge 24 (14 months younger, with time lost to injury)

Salary for 2009:
Francoeur -- 3.375 million. And with 708 games played of MLB experience, he is almost a free agent.

Milledge -- 0.462 million. And with 318 games played, is much further from free agency, and is subject to arbitration.

If we had Milledge, we would have a younger player, who is a superior defender, with a broader range of abilities (speed, on base, fielding) who posts a superior batting line, who has a higher upside, and who is much much cheaper for the next two years. Clearly, Mets lose. I wish we could trade Francoeur for Milledge today, but the Pirates would never accept it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Metsblog and Irresponsible Non-Journalism

We've been over this before, but this instance is so egregious that I feel compelled to comment once again, and this time with the proper panache.

All season I've been complaining that the opinion on, the most widely read baseball blog in the universe, has been irresponsible in the manner in which it pushes the opinion of its writers on its audience. Metsblog is no longer a mom-and-pop operation run by a nobody fan - it is now sponsored by SNY, gets time on the cable television network, and is enormously influential. As such, the writers have a journalistic responsibility to take care with regard to what they write. However, they continually fail to do so.

All year they have re-reported vague rumors, linked to even more extremist blogs spewing vile complaints, and pushed their opinion on their readers. Another example comes this morning.

In "Opinion: The Future of the Mets," Michael Baron goes on an extended rant about the team. I'll let him speak mostly for himself, with my comments interspersed throughout.

I think it was easy to anticipate that wins were going to be scarcer when their key players went down early, but there is absolutely no excuse for the general lack of execution offensively and defensively, the poor base running, and the poor decision making and to me, that is a failure on management’s part to mentally and physically prepare players for the game. Even this group of Mets should have been better in the end and I feel that is a general failure at the heart of the organization from a philosophical level, and that is why I feel that a leadership change is necessary.

Okay. So when the injuries struck, we were excused from being the 95-win juggernaut that everyone expected... but THIS level of play is considered unacceptable? Listen -- I'm not happy with the Mets level of play this season. It's been bad. But the Mets ARE BAD.

Let's face the facts. The majority of the mental mistakes and errors that can be pointed to this season have been committed by guys like Daniel Murphy (who stinks, and was asked to play out of position twice this season), Luis Castillo (who is lazy and prone to those kinds of mistakes anyway), Angel Pagan (who never was supposed to be starting, but DESPITE the mistakes has hit .304 and done a fantastic job) and a few others. What does this blogger seriously expect from these guys?

The leap he takes next - that it was "a failure on management's part to mentally and physically prepare players for the game" - is complete nonsense. Where does that come from? First of all, if this guy (or any others) have some kind of inside information which would indicate that Jerry Manuel has not done a good job preparing his guys to play, then they should TELL US. Otherwise, this is completely made up.

It is the end of a long, ugly, losing season... and this is a universal human response. You pay lip service to the fact that we didn't expect them to win a lot -- but that doesn't stop the fan from wanting his pound of flesh. Someone has to pay. Some phantom must be CREATED so that it can be BLAMED for the failure. Otherwise, without a scapegoat, this fan can't be optimistic about the next season. Unless there is inside information, this is nonsense.

The players like Jerry Manuel. And this is irresponsible blogging. Thousands of people will read this post, and have read dozens of posts just like it, and they don't all have the patience to read them critically. They believe these posts -- or even if they don't, they become organizational talking points.

Second of all, and this is a much easier point to make -- does this guy watch ANY baseball other than the Mets? Teams make tons of mistakes all over baseball. Josh Thole got thrown out at home the other night and it was an ugly play -- but if you pay attention, outfielders all over the league have dozens of outfield assists, and they don't just come against the Mets.

The average MLB team made 95 fielding errors this season. They made scores of other mistakes which don't show up as actual errors. The Mets, with all the injures made only 97 errors. All this hand wringing about preparedness is simply bullcrap.

The difference between today’s 90+ loss team and the 90+ loss team in 2004 to me is that there was still some sort of road map to success in place with David Wright and Jose Reyes developing

This is simply made up. The Mets hit the LOTTERY with Wright and Reyes - two generational talents coming up through the system at the same time. It wasn't an organizational philosophy which created them. The 2001 team missed the playoffs, and Phillips tried to patch things up in 2002 by overhauling the roster. It didn't work. Game over. There was no sea change in Mets organizational thinking. There was no road map. WE SUCKED FOR A COUPLE YEARS AND GOT HIGH DRAFT PICKS. That is baseball.

The team was really close to winning in 2006 and that playoff series against the Cardinals was brutally disappointing, but instead of continuing on the trail that was set by Omar after the 2004 season with “the new Mets”, he deviated and started to plug holes with the wrong players rather than continue to develop and refine the core and today, the Mets lack a road map or a vision in my mind which is evident with the problems with player development, team success in the minor leagues, and the clear lack of depth at the Major League level or coming to the Major League level.
I think that the organization in general, with the players they have acquired in the last couple of winters, have become their own Monday Morning Quarterback’s again and they only seem to address needs that were weak the prior season, losing sight of everything else.

This is something that Metsblog has been harping on literally for MONTHS -- that Omar plugs holes and fixes yesterday's problems. The above statement is absolute garbage as well.(1)

Each offseason, there has been one most-glaring area of weakness... and with LIMITED RESOURCES, you have to do the best you can at addressing them. I'm really not sure what these people would have rather that Minaya done.

The big big offseason acquisition which was pushed by the people at Metsblog was the acquisition of Derek Lowe. Let's face facts: Derek Lowe was better than Oliver Perez this year. But would it have made a difference? Would we have won 30 more games? Hell no. In addition, the acquisition of Derek Lowe cost another year in commitment and MANY million more dollars per year. And for what it's worth, Derek Lowe is showing his age big time -- he is 36 and posted a downright ghastly 4.67 ERA and 1.51 WHIP this season. Congratulations to Atlanta on that contract.

Omar does what he has to do. You look at your teams strengths and weaknesses. You analyze the market. You see what adds the MOST wins to your team. You see what you can buy, in terms of money or players, which provides the greatest return on investment. This offseason we were able to sign the best closer available and flip Aaron Heilman for a worthy gamble in J.J. Putz. There was nothing else to do.

The Mets were Sports Illustrated's preseason pick to win the World Series.

Things went wrong. I thought we needed more starting pitching. But the allegation that Omar is somehow stuck in yesterday is ridiculous. Baseball, and baseball teams, and organizations in general are constantly changing. You constantly fight different challenges. I have no idea what these critics would have preferred -- perhaps instead of getting two closers to fix a faulty bullpen, they would have preferred that he somehow magically acquire a backup all-star shortstop, first baseman, centerfielder, and ace.

I am not saying that bringing in Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez were bad moves – in fact I think they were the best moves Minaya could have made to address the needs they fulfill. But he failed to recognize other problems year over year and did not look at his team as a whole.

These sentences make no sense next to each other. And how do you know what Minaya is seeing or not seeing?

I believe that ownership needs to acknowledge the failure and remember past failures at the organizational level and begin a complete rebuild as a result. They must begin to examine their tactics in talent evaluation, and more specifically looking at talent and developing talent in a way for their players to be successful at Citi Field.

Okay -- I want a magical bountiful farm system which produces oodles of talent too. But this has NOTHING to do with Jerry Manuel (who this blog post begins out asking for the firing of). This has nothing to do with playing Monday Morning Quarterback. If the organization needs to do something differently with its farm system and player development, that has nothing to do with the year-to-year acquisitional philosophy that Omar has been taking. It makes no sense to besmirch the organization as a whole.(2)

This blogger is obviously frustrated. And I share his frustration. But I think the opinions he shares with us in the blog are ill-informed, and will be read widely by thousands of fans all over New York. It's irresponsible. It's also just wrong.


(1)2004-2005 Offseason: The 04 Mets were a disaster. The 2004 disaster was really a combination of things --- the end of the Piazza/Leiter Era, injuries to Piazza and Cliff Floyd, and the acquisition of Richard Hidalgo failing to pay dividends. It was a bad year. They won 71 games. They fired Art Howe and Jim Duquette and brought on Omar Minaya. Omar hired Willie Randolph, and began to reform the team in his own image.

What did Omar do? He signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Beltran, one of the best players in the game, signed to a (relatively) under market contract. The rebuilding began.

2005-2006 Offseason: The Mets did decently well in 2005, and then made a shrewd trade for Delgado and signed Billy Wagner. They addressed their need for a slugger and for a closer. No paradigm shift here. The results of these acquisitions, as we know, led to a legendary playoff run.

2006-2007 Offseason: After our tough loss to the Cardinals, the Mets basically stood pat. This, if you ask me, might be the worst mistake.

2007-2008 Offseason: After "the Collapse" and the departure of Tom Glavine, it was acknowledged that the Mets primary need was to get pitching. Omar did us one better than that and went out and got the best in the business in Johan Santana. This was his second masterpiece (after the acquisition of Beltran). That need fulfilled, with a team who missed the playoffs by one game, they entered the 2008 season with promise.

2008-2009 Offseason: A second mini-collapse was enough to send the entire city into a complete frenzy. The injury to Billy Wagner was devastating, so Omar had to use his limited resources to fix the Mets faulty bullpen. We acquired Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, and looked to have the best bullpen in baseball. The only remaining weakness - the starting rotation - didn't seem to have a simple answer.

(2) All things considered, the Mets farm system has been pretty fruitful over the last few years. In addition to stars like Wright and Reyes, it has produced...

Major league regulars already/role players: Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge (hit .293/.336/.400 with Pittsburgh), Daniel Murphy, Brian Bannister, Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, Jesus Flores, Mike Carp, Joe Smith, Jon Niese

Players good enough to trade for established stars: Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit (for Delgado), Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra (for Santana)

Useful and young with some upside: Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Brad Holt, Fernando Martinez, Nick Evans, Dillon Gee, Tobi Stoner

Big time but speculative prospects: Wilmer Flores, Jenry Mejia, Jefry Marte,

Sure. I wish our team was stacked with homegrown stars. But I also wish I had a toilet seat made out of solid gold. Sometimes its not in the cards baby. Let's keep our widely-read journalism out of the sky-is-falling department from now on, okay?