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Marlins Restock; Mets Lock-n-Load

[November 23rd] -- The Florida Marlins announced Tuesday that they will likely be leaving South Florida following the 2008 season, and on Wednesday continued their "fire sale" as they reached an agreement to trade Carlos Delgado to the New York Mets. In return, the Marlins will receive pitcher Yusmeiro Petit and first baseman Mike Jacobs.

This is not the same type of house-cleaning that saw the Marlins cull much of their team's talent following their first World Series victory in 1997. This time, the Marlins have a plan, and a very good one at that. They are cutting payroll in anticipation of reduced fan support as they begin the process of [possibly] moving the team while restocking the roster with young, talented and potentially super-star players. By the time the team begins play in 2009, the Marlins [or whatever the team name will be] will probably have a new city, a new stadium and a roster blossoming with future stars. And what of the Mets?

It seems that Omar Minaya is doing to the Mets what he did to the Expos. Remember, Minaya is the former Expos/Nationals general manager who traded away Grady Sizemore [.289-22-81 with Cleveland], Cliff Lee [18-5, 3.79 with Cleveland], Chris Young [12-7, 4.21 with Texas] and Jason Bay [.306-32-101 with Pittsburgh] and received in return no player that remains with the Nationals today. Can you imagine the kind of year the Nationals would have had in 2005 with those four players still on the roster? Minaya has shown a penchant for trading quality young talent for older, established players. He's done it again.

Carlos Delgado will take over first base for the Mets, replacing the departed Mike Jacobs. Delgado is 33 years old [though some websites list him as 32] and has already begun his age-driven offensive decline. He came to the major leagues with Toronto in 1993 and has remained one of the game's consistent power hitters. From 1998 through 2003, Delgado averaged 38 home runs and 121 rbi's. However, he managed only 32 homers with Toronto in 2004 and 33 with Florida last year [In fairness, Delgado did play in fewer games].

Delgado will bring a weak glove to Shea along with his potent bat. He made 14 errors in 2005 and has averaged nearly 13 miscues a season over his career. He has poor range and doesn't make the throw to second base very well. In comparison, the Nationals' Nick Johnson made only 5 errors last year.

Delgado will likely produce as expected for another season or two before his aging skills make him little more than another overpaid veteran. Like Mike Piazza. And we all know how difficult it was for both Piazza and the Mets the past few seasons as his salary began to greatly overshadow his ability.

Mike Jacobs' career is heading in the opposite direction. The 25 year old began 2005 with "AA" Binghamton of the Eastern League. Prior to his August call-up, the sweet-swinging lefty hit .321 with 23 homers and 93 rbi's with a .376 on base percentage and a .589 slugging average, earning him the title of Mets minor league "Player Of The Year" for the second time in three seasons. In 100 at bats with the Mets, he did almost as well, going .310-11-23 with a .375 obp & .710 slg. In a 500 at bat season, the youngster would have been on pace to hit .310-55-115. Jacobs will likely be a star in the big leagues for the next decade.

Yusmeiro Petit, only 21, was listed #33 on the top 50 minor league prospect list. He was signed by the Mets as an undrafted player in 2001. He blossomed in 2004 with the Capital City Bombers in the South Atlantic League, crafting a 7-1 record with a 2.14 ERA. He struck out 117 in just 101 innings and showed the beginnings of his Maddux-like control, walking only 20. He spent most of 2005 baffling the competition in the Eastern League. He started 21 games, going 9-3 with a 2.91 ERA. In 117 innings, he struck out an astounding 130 batters while walking only 18. He got beat up a bit in an August call-up to 'AAA' Norfolk, but still showed some overpowering stuff, striking out 14 in 14 innings.

Omar Minaya is again mortgaging a team's future for the present. Mets fans' will come to view Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit the same way Nats' fans look at Jason Bay and Cliff Lee. In five years, Delgado will either be out of baseball entirely or, like Mike Piazza before him, will be "hanging on" for the sake of a paycheck. In return, the Marlins will have a first baseman who is in the prime of his career and a pitcher who will continue to win 15-20 games a year for another decade.

Minaya isn't finished. He's now going after Billy Wagner and might even pry away Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox. But we all have learned that in baseball, a team of stars seldom succeeds. Just ask the Chicago White Sox. Minaya has also made the Mets much older. The starting position players now average more than 28 years of age, and the average age of the pitching rotation is 34. The Mets are not a team, but rather a compilation of spare parts unable to bring a championship to New York.

I am more concerned with the Marlins than I am the Mets. The Marlins will be young and talented and able to beat any of their NL East rivals on any given day. When those young players mature, I hope the team will be playing somewhere far away from the Nationals and in someone else's division. They are going to be a great team. And the Mets? Well, like the Nationals, their best players will be playing for other teams.

Thank you, Omar Minaya.

I've always thought that baseball trades are over-rated. If the Nats have those four players last season (Bay, Lee, Young & Sizemore), the team wins another 6 games minimum and would have finished 3rd at worst.
I love the Mets, and I like Delgado, but I thought Jacobs was going to be a stud. Well, he still is going to be one, but with a different team.
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