Jose Valentin Rumors
4:01pm: Hubbuch says the Mets put Nieve on waivers and will keep Rule 5 reliever Darren O'Day. Nieve, who is out of options, was claimed from the Astros recently.
12:20pm: According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Mets released veterans Jose Valentin, Tony Armas Jr., and Junior Spivey today. Valentin could return to the organization as a coach eventually.
According to Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog, the Mets released lefty reliever Ron Villone today. Villone, 39, allowed eight hits and six runs in five spring innings. Cerrone guesses Pedro Feliciano will be the team's only southpaw reliever when they break camp.
Cerrone also reports via SNY that the Mets released infielder Jose Valentin. He hit .267/.320/.378 in 48 spring plate appearances. In February, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News learned that Omar Minaya wants Valentin to be a player and unofficial coach at Triple A Buffalo.
According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, the Mets don't see a fit for Jose Valentin on the big league roster, and would rather him work as a player/unofficial coach for their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.
Valentin, of course, has a different idea. "Right now I'm still a player and my goal is to make the team," said the 39-year-old middle infielder. He signed a minor league deal with the Mets a little over a week ago. If he still wants to play at the big league level, however, it's probably not going to be in New York. The Mets already have Luis Castillo, Alex Cora and Ramon Martinez in camp.
Valentin didn't reach the majors last season after struggling through serious neck issues for much of the year. He batted .182/.229/.333 in 33 at-bats for Triple-A New Orleans.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets have signed infielder Jose Valentin to a minor league contract.
Valentin will be invited to spring training and can earn $800K if he makes the squad. He should provide adequate backup to Luis Castillo this season and could get a good amount of at-bats if Castillo continues to struggle. Valentin was the Mets' starting second baseman in 2006, when he hit .271 and 18 home runs.
Some loose ends and links from today...
- Closer Kevin Gregg is the highest-paid Marlin at $2.5MM. Quick! Trade him!
- Ryan Howard and the Phillies submitted salary figures: Howard wants $10MM, the Phillies want to pay him $7MM. If they can't meet in the middle then an independent arbitrator will pick one of the two amounts next month. MLB.com has a handy table showing all the figures submitted today by players and teams.
- Fun fact, the Cubs signed Shingo Takatsu. He's 39 now; he saved 19 games for the '04 White Sox. He had a 6.17 ERA in 23 innings in Japan last year though. Mr. Zero is the all-time saves leader in Japan.
- Jose Valentin's minor league deal was announced today. The free agent market is pretty much barren of middle infielders now.
- The Cardinals and Rick Ankiel agreed on $900K plus another $100K in incentives for '08. He was an oddball case without comparables given his career progression.
- The Royals appear to be done this offseason.
UPDATE, 1-16-08 at 9:06am: Mark Hale of the New York Post quotes Valentin's agent saying he has a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite with the Mets. He can earn $1MM if he makes the club. The Mets haven't confirmed this yet.
FROM 1-8-08 at 2:57pm:
El Nuevo Dia is reporting that infielder Jose Valentin is close to re-signing with the Mets. He talked to several teams, but decided to take a nonguaranteed backup role with New York.
A few months ago, MLB.com's Marty Noble suggested the Mets would only re-sign Valentin if he was able to play the outfield. Valentin dealt with a partially torn ACL and fractured tibia in '07, and hopes to be 100% in February.
Plenty of action around the Mets lately; Omar Minaya has his work cut out for him. Hat tip to MetsBlog for several of the links.
- The sensational storyline here is that Minaya will meet with Scott Boras to discuss Alex Rodriguez. However, Boras and Minaya might spend more time discussing Kyle Lohse and Eric Gagne than A-Rod - the Mets' focus is pitching.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff reminds us of past trade talks regarding Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. Those talks may be re-opened, though Davidoff notes that the White Sox aren't enamored of Lastings Milledge. Additionally, the Mets will meet with Carlos Silva's people this week.
- Buster Olney discusses the Mets' pursuit for pitching today in his blog. They need a horse, somebody who can chew up innings. Aside from the aforementioned Silva and Blanton, Olney names Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir, and Dontrelle Willis as possible targets (though Marc Lancaster considers the declaration of Kazmir's availability to be "dubious at best." Meanwhile one exec thinks the Rays would only make him available if "his arm is about to blow.") Olney's guess is that the Mets will acquire Blanton. The Mets have some combination of Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, and Aaron Heilman to offer. There are pros and cons to dealing each.
- There are other concerns besides pitching: second base and catcher. Besides the forthcoming monster offer to Jorge Posada, the Mets are considering Paul Lo Duca and Yorvit Torrealba as fallbacks. Ramon Castro is looking for a two-year deal, and hopes it's with the Mets. However, the Rockies have their eye on him.
- Pedro Martinez expects to pitch beyond 2008. Whether that will be for the Mets or someone else, who knows.
- Marlon Anderson's two-year deal will be announced today, according to Adam Rubin. The Mets will pass on Jose Valentin and Brian Lawrence's options.
Jose Valentin's fractured tibia on Friday should knock him out about six weeks. Unfortunately for Valentin, this injury and a previous one will stop him from reaching 400 plate appearances this year. That means his $4.3MM option for 2008 will not vest.
The Mets have a number of internal options: Anderson Hernandez, Marlon Anderson, Ruben Gotay, and Damion Easley can all handle second base and offer different skills. Willie Randolph didn't seem thrilled with the idea of Gotay as the everyday guy, though Omar Minaya expects him to play the most.
Minaya's not actively looking to trade for a second baseman, but he will listen. Jose de Jesus Ortiz believes Minaya covets Mark Loretta, even speculating on expanded deals involving Chad Qualls or Wandy Rodriguez. I had not previously known that Wandy was on Omar's radar last winter. Still, it doesn't make much sense for the Astros to give him up in the midst of a possible breakout season.
Dejan Kovacevic mentions Jose Castillo as another option, though there's no indication the Mets are after him. Two other options for the Mets are impending free agents Luis Castillo and Tadahito Iguchi. There's been speculation that the Mets will sign Castillo this winter.
According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Mets are shopping for a second baseman with Jose Valentin expected to be out two months with a partially torn ACL. Valentin would like to return in four or five weeks for the sake of his contract incentives. However, Rick Wilton of Baseball Injury Report notes that the ligament can't heal in six weeks and Valentin will likely play at less than 100% for the rest of the season. Who might be on the radar if the Mets are looking for more certainty?
With the Mets sporting at least a top-three NL offense (boy the NL East can really hit) Omar Minaya probably doesn't need to make a major move here. He could try to pluck a struggling Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox. Iguchi will reach free agency after this season and is sitting at .241/.351/.380. His power stroke should come around.
You may recall the Mets' strong attraction to Luis Castillo. Should the Twins deem Alexi Casilla ready for full-time duty, they could shop Castillo in hopes of bringing in a good prospect before the veteran walks after this season. Additionally, the Mets considered signing Mark Grudzielanek in the winter of 2005-06. There's no good reason for the Royals to hang onto him.
Baseball Prospectus's John Perrotto lends another name to the discussion - he considers the Pirates' Jose Castillo a possibility for Omar Minay. Perrotto would know; he's the team's beat writer for the Beaver County Times.
Tuesday’s nuclear meltdown of Oliver Perez in Shea Stadium has an important potential impact on the NL East as the Mets are counting on Perez to hold down the fort till Pedro’s bionic arm heals. Perez is nursing the uneven balance between an ace’s arm and a George McFly mind that has inspired many in the business to toss in their two cents. Perez’s talent has been the lost pirate treasure for many the gold thirsty pitching coach and columnist, each with their own interpretation of the treasure map. After Tuesday’s multi walk extravaganza, the theories were bountiful even if the reward wasn't.
- David Lennon over at NY Newsday’s Metsbeat blog recaps the performance, as Paul LoDuca feels the Phillies were just patient hitters and Rick Peterson pulls the “Chewbacca defense” out of his back pocket, comparing Perez to the stock market.
- Bill Madden at the Daily News bullets out theories and excuses from numerous personnel.
- Steve Keane at the Kranepool Society asks for patience.
- John Delcos from the Journal News theorizes that Ollie is not mean enough and searches for answers.
- The NY Times focuses on Ollieworld not having his usual thunderstorm after the terrible outing.
- On SNY during the broadcast, Ron Darling and Jerry Koosman gave their two cents:
Koosman: “He was simply trying to aim the ball, instead of throwing it. When you try aiming it, you'll lose velocity. He threw 94 and went down to 87 with his fastball. When I got into trouble like that I just threw harder and it helped.”
Darling noticed his arm was slightly lower in his delivery, like he was almost throwing side arm. It's just a matter of him locking down his mechanics and getting into the habit of pitching the "right" way. They also mentioned Rick Peterson had him pitch over and over in side sessions, literally stopping him if he gets into his old routine.
Other Mets tidbits:
- Toasted Joe’s came up with the greatest nickname ever for Ambiorix Burgos. The fans in Kansas City should appreciate the “Amburglar”.
- If you haven’t read the Jose Valentin Experience you’re missing out. This has helped make “’stache” a cult hero in New York. Employees of the Ground Round salute you Jose!
- The Mets are looking at Todd Williams as a possible salary dump pickup.
By Nik Kolidas