Dream Series matchups, latest on Billy Wagner and notes (cont.)
Minaya gets another vote of confidence
Mets owner Fred Wilpon, perhaps caught in a weak moment by the New York Post, reiterated ownership stance that embattled GM Omar Minaya is returning. "Absolutely," Wilpon told the Post, which said it was allowed only one question. The second question presumably would have been "What do you think of the job he's doing?" No time for that, though.
Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel were first given a private vote of confidence several weeks back by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. But things have gotten worse in Flushing since that expression of faith. So the question remains pertinent.
While Fred Wilpon isn't batting 1.000 on his votes of confidence (he fired Bobby Valentine in 2003 after one), that is the team's clear intention and hope. Wilpon, a man of integrity, means it at the moment.
If Minaya does make it back as GM, one big reason will likely be the $3.5 million that remains on his three-year contract (one of the very best deals Omar made as Mets GM was his own). In any case, assistant GM John Ricco is likely to have expanded duties, and perhaps even a bigger title, though Ricco is a loyal soldier, and friends say he is very uncomfortable about all this speculation regarding him replacing Minaya.
Whatever happens, "full autonomy" is probably out the window at this point.
Wagner predicts he'll stay. But does he know?
By pitching Billy Wagner before his waiver period is up, the Mets took a calculated gamble. If they had waited, he'd have sailed through waivers, and they'd have been able to trade him to any team.
The way it happened, Wagner threw a lights-out inning, and Boston claimed him, at least assuring that the Mets had someone to take his contract if they want. That's no small thing, as $2.7 million remains on Wagner's deal through this season. Not sure whether it was better to pitch him or not, but the belief that the Mets would like to save the money has led folks to think they're anxious to find a deal here by the Tuesday afternoon deadline.
One competing GM said Wagner's "no giveaway," and called him "a difference-maker," suggesting that the Mets should seek a decent prospect for Wagner even though it's only for a month of his services. That GM noted that Wagner has an $8 million option for next year, which could enhance his value slightly since that isn't a bad price if he has shutdown-closer stuff. While the Mets have no plans to employ Wagner next year, that doesn't mean the option isn't worthwhile for some team. Still, with his hefty '09 salary and limited usage since returning from Tommy John surgery, it's hard to imagine Boston paying too steep price for Wagner.
Wagner has a full no-trade clause, which could complicate things. Wagner made clear in an interview Sunday he wants to close, at least in 2010. He knows he's very unlikely to close games for Boston in 2009, not with Jonathan Papelbon there. So if the Mets and Red Sox work out a deal, it's possible he could request that Boston reject the 2010 option before agreeing to the trade. There are lots of interesting possibilities here.
While it makes more sense for Wagner to be on the Red Sox than the Mets, Wagner still said he doesn't expect to go. Why not? "Inside intuition," he said.
Wagner, Papelbon would make interesting tandem
Closers don't like to give up their jobs. Or even have a threat of such change.
Papelbon issued some quotes suggesting he wasn't necessarily so anxious for Wagner to join the team. Which was reminiscent of how Papelbon felt about Eric Gagne joining the Red Sox two years ago, according to Michael Holley's book.
"What has he done? Has he pitched this year?" Papelbon said to WEEI.com. "Is he ready to pitch or is he not? You know what I mean? I think our bullpen is good where we're at right now. Don't get me wrong. But I guess you could always make it better."
Wagner, incidentally, didn't sound too impressed by Papelbon's remarks. When he was read the Papelbon quotes by a reporter, Wagner said, "I don't have anything to say about somebody like that ... When he walks in my shoes, I'll say something. Let him be 38, and have Tommy John surgery and come back."
Presumably, Papelbon would remain the closer if Wagner is acquired. But these closers can be fairly territorial about their jobs, no doubt about that.
Selig wants a real slotting system for draft
In the wake of Stephen Strasburg's record $15.067 million deal, commissioner Bud Selig very badly wants a real, defined slotting system for the First-Year Player Draft, to the point where he is said to be determined to make it an issue at the next CBA bargaining session. MLB also doesn't love that $160 million was spent on bonuses in the first 10 rounds, though it was pleased to see 65 percent of players agree to contracts at or below the slotting number assigned by the commissioner's office.
It's those other 35 percent of players that worry the commish.
Selig wants the slot numbers to be more than recommendations, and his office is somewhat heartened to see a bit of grumbling over Strasburg's deal from veteran players. However, union people say there's been nothing more than a grumble here or there and that there's certainly no movement afoot to overturn the current system.
Union officials may make the case to major leaguers that a cap for amateur bonuses could be the first step on a slippery slope toward caps for big-league payrolls. Though one MLB source called this a "cockamamie" argument, it still may prove compelling for players who fear their own salaries could be capped. MLB powers seem determined do something about these bonuses, so at the very least this looks like a subject to be hashed out at the bargaining table two years from now.
While Strasburg's amateur deal is a record by 50 percent over Mark Prior's 2001 $10.5 million contract, scouts see him as a future star, and very likely, a bargain. The real issue should be the tens of players who get seven-figure deals and never make the majors. History shows only about 50 percent of first-rounders make the bigs.
MLB Truth & Rumors