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Trade Dontrelle Willis for Lastings Milledge?


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http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/ny-...eball-headlines

 

Sportingnews

 

Dontrelle is the answer

 

By Ken Davidoff

 

 

Dontrelle is the answer

May 8, 2006

 

 

The Victor Zambrano news doesn't really strike a blow to the Mets. It simply creates a void, and a silver lining: It underscores what they must do to carry out their impressive beginning.

 

Just as they thought last winter, the Mets will need another frontline starting pitcher to win their first world championship in 20 years.

 

The most sensible maneuver is a deal for Florida's Dontrelle Willis, even if it costs Lastings Milledge.

 

"No chance," one person in the Mets' loop said yesterday before Jose Lima and the bullpen's dregs suffered a 13-3 loss to the not-dead-yet Braves at Shea Stadium.

 

Certainly, there's no reason to panic. However, as Cliff Floyd said when asked if the Mets' starting rotation is good enough to win a World Series: "The way things are going, 31 games in, damn right. But when you start having injuries, it's a tough question. You're asking guys to do a lot.

 

"Hopefully, whoever we call up, whatever they do, they're just going to give us an opportunity to win."

 

Lima kinda sorta did that yesterday, and later this week, Jeremi Gonzalez will likely get his shot, taking Zambrano's rotation turn. So even when Brian Bannister comes back, perhaps this month, you're talking about still keeping either Lima or Gonzalez around.

 

It's not as if Bannister is an established commodity, either - and that goes double for John Maine.

 

Working your way from the bottom, you come to Steve Trachsel, who is ordinary, and Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, who are not. But they are human, and they will hit slumps, and they will require assistance from their fellow starters.

 

Aaron Heilman? No argument here to keep him in the bullpen. Why mess with a good thing?

 

Mike Pelfrey? General manager Omar Minaya tells friends that the youngster can help the Mets this year, and maybe he can. Given the stakes, though, it would hardly be ideal to lean so heavily on a guy just out of college.

 

Especially when there's Willis. The baseball landscape has changed. Teams on the bubble, mindful of the 2004 and 2005 Astros' late-season runs, are more reluctant to give away veteran talent. And clubs all over, even our Mets and Yankees, don't want to dispose of young, cheap talent.

 

The Athletics will be open-minded about Barry Zito, but there will be strong incentive for contending Oakland to keep the lefthander. Zito, furthermore, would cost talent; then, as an impending free agent, he would have to be signed to an extension for, let's call it, five years and $75 million.

 

What incentive will the Marlins have to retain Willis a month or two from now? You need be only an amateur psychologist to look at Willis' numbers (1-3, 5.15 ERA) and wonder if all of the losing in South Florida is getting to him.

 

We already know the Marlins offered Willis to the Mets for David Wright, and that the Marlins don't mind conducting business within their division.

 

Willis, earning $4.35 million, won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2009 season, and though you can never predict one's New York adjustment, the lefthander's outgoing demeanor bodes well for that issue.

 

Now, the other part of the equation: trading Milledge and other, lesser youngsters. The Mets, largely because of the deal that sent Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for Zambrano, are gun-shy about repeating that mistake.

 

The greatest sin of the Kazmir trade, though, wasn't shipping out Kazmir. It was dealing him for Zambrano, which - what with this weekend's development - now officially becomes the second-worst trade in Mets history.

 

At the time, nearly everyone thought the Mets received poor value in return for a commodity as strong as Kazmir. But Willis is no Zambrano.

 

Sure, Milledge could be a star. He might not be. Trading him for Willis would bring no shame to anyone. It could be the capper for the aggressive Minaya, who has brought in so much already.

 

"I'm confident, budget-wise, that we have the ability to [take on money]," Minaya said yesterday, and he said the same about his available talent. There's time to get this done. But it should get done.

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We already have a damn good 3B, who projects to be just as good as Wright defensively and better offensively. You dont trade for a stregnth you already have when there are other holes to fill.

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I'd take Wright for Dontrelle any day.

 

Move Cabrera to left field which is a much less important position, and get Willingham back at Catcher or even first base. I feel wright is a better defensive player than Cabrera, and offensively they are similar, with cabrera having more power and wright having some speed (to Cabrera's none).

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Then your hunch is wrong. It's his natural position, he is as good or better in zone rating and range factor than Scott Rolen and David Wright.

 

He is re-adjusting to the position, but he plays gold glove defense at third. And you dont waste an arm like that at first base.

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Well after seeing limited time at 3B and spending the majority of your first 3 seasons shuffling back and forth from two outfield positions than ya, it is probably hard to adjust. Espicially since most of his mistakes have come at little slow moving dinks down the line or just slight misplays that will get better once he is once again used to playing there.

 

Plus he wants to be at 3B...why move him yet again and piss him off? Espicially when he will be just as good or better than Wright defensively and better offensively? And who has an absolute cannon. We have a stregnth at 3B, and weaknesses at other positions. So why trade for a 3B?

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An ERA close to 5?

 

Because pitchers who should have won the Cy Young become terrible at the age of 24.

 

If he has a high ERA this year it will be more a result of inconsistent defense than his own shortcomings. He's had two starts where he's been bad.

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An ERA close to 5?

 

Because pitchers who should have won the Cy Young become terrible at the age of 24.

 

If he has a high ERA this year it will be more a result of inconsistent defense than his own shortcomings. He's had two starts where he's been bad.

 

Or maybe his magnificent season was just a fluke? I honestly don't think his stuff is that good.

 

Try watching a Marlins game with out of town commentators. When they talk about D-Train, they only really comment on his unconventional delivery. Well, deception can only work for so long before hitters begin to catch up to it.

 

I'm sorry to say that it appears to be happening.

 

Even during his "Fluke" season he had bad starts. It happens.

 

He's got a 93-94 mph fastball, a good slider, and a changeup that he can throw consistently. His biggest problems come if he gets out of his rythym as he relies a lot on working quick and throwing strikes. He may not be one of the top 5 pitchers in the league, but he'd still be an ace on most staffs, including this one. He'd easily be the Mets number 2, and it wouldn't be questionable.

 

Dontrelle has pinpoint control as long as his mechanics don't get messed up, and he relies on this as much as anything to get batters out. Even if he doesn't have great stuff, that mix of pinpoint accuracy, solid pitches and an unconventional delivery mean he will be good for a while. Maybe never as good as last year, but he will be good.

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He doesn't really have a change-up. And he's no Randy Johnson in that he can get by on just a fastball and a slider alone. It's a lofty comparison, I admit, but it is still something to consider. He did have some good starts at the beginning of the season but has been struggling with insanely high pitch counts since the very beginning? How would you explain that?

 

 

Girardi has been leaving him in too long.

 

He doesn't seem to expend too much energy when he throws, since he's always been a horse. I don't think it's anything to worry about. Girardi left him in too long against the Phillies (And they should've been out of the inning earlier if not for Uggla's lapse) and he ran into a strong Cardinals line up that leaves absolutely no room for error.

 

2 starts does not a downfall make.

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He's not working with much. A brand new infield defense. A catcher that despite a strong arm is likely a below average defensive catcher.

 

I'd say they all add to the problems D-Train is having. He went from having the all around best defensive infield in the majors(including the best double play combo of this era IMO) to 3 rookies, including stone hands Jacobs, and a guy playing 3rd who over 3 seasons has only seen limited time there.

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Whoever thinks we should move Miggy from third base to some other position at this point is just plain ridiculous. He's 23 years old. Most third basemen were relatively weak third basemen at that age. We need to keep him at his position. There is no way you move one of the game's superstars at the age of 23 to LF. No way. And those of you who advocate that are just looking at things short term - we need to give him time to adjust (he hasn't played third base full time since early 2003).

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Girardi has been leaving him in too long.

 

Compared to the past three seasons, Dontrelle might as well be on vacation.

 

 

BTW, I came across some batted ball stats from Hardball Times yesterday.

 

Willis' line drive (the type of batted ball that produces the best chance of a hit) rate has jumped while his infield fly (the type induced by many high-strikeout and dominant pitchers) rate has dropped substantially.

 

Something's wrong with him. Some say mechanics. Some say scouting and catcher pairing. Some say WBC. Some say talent. Some say aliens.

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Girardi has been leaving him in too long.

 

Compared to the past three seasons, Dontrelle might as well be on vacation.

 

 

BTW, I came across some batted ball stats from Hardball Times yesterday.

 

Willis' line drive (the type of batted ball that produces the best chance of a hit) rate has jumped while his infield fly (the type induced by many high-strikeout and dominant pitchers) rate has dropped substantially.

 

Something's wrong with him. Some say mechanics. Some say scouting and catcher pairing. Some say WBC. Some say talent. Some say aliens.

 

Wouldn't you see those types of stats everytime a pitcher is struggling? I mean, if you take any 6-7 game period in which a pitcher is struggling (ERA over 5, say) he's going to be giving up a lot of line drive hits. I'm not worried. If he's got an ERA above 4 at the end of the season then I would worry.

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Dontrell has won a Cy Young award, been an All Star twice, was runner up in the Cy Young voting after winning 22 games last year, is 17 games over .500 lifetime, and has 47 wins in 100 starts (almost 50% of his starts he wins). All this and he is entering just his 4th season at 24 years of age. Yet you think he is going to fade. Why because of a couple bad starts? Do you actually watch him pitch? He doesn't have a blazing fastball but his STUFF is certainly very good. When he keeps the ball down, like he does most of the time, he is very hard to hit. Forget the windup. Location and change of speeds are what make the D Train. Also, forget all those crappy a@@ stats, and line drive numbers and saber stats. This kid has been winner everywhere he has pitched. Not just a winner but he has dominated. I guess penguino doesn't think Maddux belongs in the hall of fame because he doesn't have great STUFF. I'll take D-Train over A.J, Penny, and Beckett anyday. They couldn't do what he's done with the same team behind them. STUFF is over rated......

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Girardi has been leaving him in too long.

 

Compared to the past three seasons, Dontrelle might as well be on vacation.

 

 

BTW, I came across some batted ball stats from Hardball Times yesterday.

 

Willis' line drive (the type of batted ball that produces the best chance of a hit) rate has jumped while his infield fly (the type induced by many high-strikeout and dominant pitchers) rate has dropped substantially.

 

Something's wrong with him. Some say mechanics. Some say scouting and catcher pairing. Some say WBC. Some say talent. Some say aliens.

 

Wouldn't you see those types of stats everytime a pitcher is struggling? I mean, if you take any 6-7 game period in which a pitcher is struggling (ERA over 5, say) he's going to be giving up a lot of line drive hits. I'm not worried. If he's got an ERA above 4 at the end of the season then I would worry.

Yes. Although past stats do have some predictive value in addition to their ability to tell you about the past. I hope Willis can make the adjustment necessary to reverse this negative trend.

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There is no reason to believe Willis won't survive the season with the Fish, but just for argument sake let's say he is available in a trade.

 

The middle of May is the wrong time to pull the trigger for both teams being discussed.

 

Injuries "could" implode the Mets, making a playoff run this season and the need to make the trade moot. Alternatively, injuries to other division teams could vault the Mets into an insurmountable lead by the all-star break. The "Miracle" Mets could all of a sudden be reborn the "Miracle" Marlins. The number of scenarios are virtually endless.

 

In short, six weeks into the season, it's premature to be talking blockbuster trades by either team. Other than providing copy to meet your editor's deadline, this column exists because there was nothing better to write about, not because of it's validity.

 

Maybe in July or if desperation sets in somewhere it rightfully will be revisited before the end of August, but no GM is going to pull the trigger on something like this with so many months of baseball ahead.

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Dontrell has won a Cy Young award, been an All Star twice, was runner up in the Cy Young voting after winning 22 games last year, is 17 games over .500 lifetime, and has 47 wins in 100 starts (almost 50% of his starts he wins). All this and he is entering just his 4th season at 24 years of age. Yet you think he is going to fade. Why because of a couple bad starts? Do you actually watch him pitch? He doesn't have a blazing fastball but his STUFF is certainly very good. When he keeps the ball down, like he does most of the time, he is very hard to hit. Forget the windup. Location and change of speeds are what make the D Train. Also, forget all those crappy a@@ stats, and line drive numbers and saber stats. This kid has been winner everywhere he has pitched. Not just a winner but he has dominated. I guess penguino doesn't think Maddux belongs in the hall of fame because he doesn't have great STUFF.

 

:thumbup

 

 

great post

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