Elster's World

Monday, March 31, 2008

Mets Pick

With first pitch scheduled for 4:05, it's time to get it on. here's one man's (quickly put together) prediction for how it will play out. I cannot wait for Joe to quote this article in September and kill me for it.

The Mets will win in the low 90's (90-92 games) because they have the best pitching staff in the East and their bullpen will be better in '08 than it was in '07. Also, while the Phillies have a better lineup (3 studs to the Mets 3 studs, but Phils lineup has less holes) the Mets can still score runs and play relatively good defense.

I think Johan Santana will win the NL Cy Young.

I think David Wright will compete for the MVP this season (and by compete I mean be a top three finisher).

I think Jose Reyes will tone his act down and get his numbers up.

I think Moises Alou will play in no more than 70 games this season.

I think Pedro Martinez will stay healthy and have a very good year.

I think John Maine takes 3 steps forward from last year.

I think Oliver Perez takes 3 steps back from last year.

I think the Mets will be ok with el Duque and Pelfry in the number 5 spot.

I think Carlos Delgado will underwhelm (.260 22 hr 87 rbi)

I think we won't see Duaner Sanchez before May. I think he will end up being the 8th inning guy and Heilman the 7th inning guy.

It's hard to predict how the Mets will finish in the playoffs because there are way too many variables (their health, the competitors' health, etc) but if you don't get something on paper, you are just a big weenie so....

I'll take the Mets losing in the NLCS in 7 painful games. I hope I'm dead wrong.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gotay Away?

The Mets have placed Ruben Gotay on waivers - probably ending his career as a Met.

Hey, just because Willie doesn't want a 25 year old second baseman who can rake (.295 last year in 190 at bats) and a little bit of speed, you know, the guy who can eventually replace an ailing Luis Castillo at third, doesn't mean no one else will.

This means that Fernando Tatis, who (i) is 33, (ii) is a career .260 hitter and (iii) has not had a major league at bat in the last three seasons is going to make the team in all probability.

The question is, where is the logic here? If the Mets are so worried about Angel Pagan in left, then trade for a veteran left fielder. As Joe pointed out in an email, Tatis isn't going to get many starts ahead of Endy Chaves and Marlon Anderson anyway. So why is it so important that he can play the outfield? This seems like another example of Willie just not liking a guy and refusing to give him a fair chance. 25 years old, .295 hitter with the ability to add some power in his game, the chance to replace Castillo when his knees finally snap like twigs and the Mets are giving up on his for Fernando Freaking Tatis. These are the "little things" that kill franchises over the course of the long haul.

So the Mets got a bit older and, in my opinion, a little worse. I'm hoping that Gotay miraculously passes through waivers and the Mets can keep him.

I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

For Shame

Shame on the folowing peolpe/things for the following reasons:

- Shame on Georgetown for losing an 11 point lead at halftime, letting Dell Curry's son torch them for 25 second half points (after playing stifling D in the first 20 minutes) and losing to freaking Davidson in the second round of the Tournament (sorry, it's taken me a few days to get over this loss even though I kinda saw it coming). As I had written before, this Hoya team was very flawed and I had them as a sweet 16-er no better. Without a clutch scorer who can make his own shot, you can only go so far.

Roy Hibbert was exposed this season without the Jeff Green crutch, and Jessie Sapp and Dajuan Summers did not take steps forward. Sadly, the Patrick Ewing Jr. era is over after only 2 seasons.

The good news, major help is on the way in the 2008/2009 recruiting class.

- Shame on Joe for erroneously(or, at least prematurely) reporting (in an email) that the Mets cut Gotay, scaring the bejesus out of me and forcing me to unfairly criticize perfect GM Omar Minaya. Why on earth would the team give up on a younger player who can hit .300 and between 15-20 home runs, eventually replacing Luis Castillo as the regular second baseman? Oh, because you need to find a spot on the bench for 73 year old Jose Valentin of course!

And way to secure that number 5 spot in the rotation Omar. When El Duque and Pefrey go a combined 3-17 this season, will you then not shelling out a bit more for Livan or Lohse?

- Shame in the Knicks. Period. Truth is, while Donnie Walsh is probably the right move, who wouldn't be rooting for a Mark Jackson/Greg Anthony GM/Coach combo?

- Shame on the Rangers for letting another point slip away against Philly last night. They had the lead into the third and failed to seal the deal. Then they gave up a breakaway in overtime. Let's hope that this one doesn't come back to bite them. At 89 points, they sit in 6th place with a mere one point lead over the Flyers.

On the bright side, I will be winning my Rangers islanders bet with Noyam - so there's a free dinner headed my way.

- Finally, shame on me for not getting nearly enough sleep the last few weeks. it's starting to affect me. I am having weird vision of Mets world series wins and the Jets in the super bowl. I think I need a shrink.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Reader Poll

Should I force myself to write even if nothing seems to be coming? I have a few ideas I'd like to pen, but every time I sit in front of the computer, I lose interest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking News - Law and Herm a Package Deal

Reports are coming in from sources in both New York and Kansas City that the Jets are close to a deal with free agent cornerback Ty Law as well as (soon to be former) head coach of the Chiefs, Herm Edwards. This stunning development should serve as the last piece to what has been an "on paper" Super Bowl winning off-season for the New York Jets. Edwards will serve the triple role of defensive coordinator (replacing the ineffective Bob Sutton), assistant head coach to Eric Mangini and, perhaps most importantly, game clock manager. The best news? edwards will only cost the Jets this year's second round pick as compensation to Kansas City.

Law played corner for the Jets in 2005 Edwards of course is a former head coach of the Jets. These moves serve both to (i) solidify what is slowly becoming a dynastic Jet team (the additions of Alan Faneca and Damien Woody are drawing comparisons to the great Redskins line of the 80's and the Cowboys line of the 90's and Kris Jenkins and Calvin "You Never Heard of Me Before, But I had 6.5 Sacks last Season" Pace, plus the addition by subtraction of talentless non-playmakers like Jon Vilma make the Jets defense especially fierce) and (ii) tweak the New England Patriots (the Pats reportedly had interest in Law and it is well known that nobody out-coaches Bill Belichick like Edwards).

Edwards has announced that Darelle Reevis, the Jets first round pick last season, will move to dime situations to make room in the starting lineup for Law. "My man Ty will be going against the other team's fastest receivers each week," said a grinning Edwards, "and he hasn't lost even a quarter step."

Said Law: "It was a tough choice man, the Pats really wanted me, but the truth is that even though I only played one season there, my heart has always been with the Jets."

Said Mangini on these almost historic moves: "Every season is different. You cannot look backwards as to what we accomplished as a team last year. Last year was last year. This year is this year. Herm will help us immensely, especially late in ballgames when the clock becomes so important. Herm's added benefits on the sidelines completely outweigh anything a second rounder could ever do for us on the field. As for Ty, we will evaluate him like we evaluate each player every week. " Mangini then stepped out of his tightly controlled veneer to announce that Law was cemented in at starting right corner, opposite Hank Poteat at left corner.

Edwards on the Jets going 4-12 last year and his expectations for his defense this season. "Hello? We play to stop opposing offenses. We play to win the game. Reevis, he's a nice player and all, but when you have a Ty Law....man you have the league;s top shut down corner...it allows you to do so many things." Edwards also noted that he plans to rotate middle linebacker David Harris out a lot more to keep him fresh.

General Manager Mike Tennebaum announced that the Law signing was for three years and $6 million a season, all $18 million fully guaranteed. Law's contract also includes a guaranteed roster spot for all three seasons.

Analysis - What's to say? The Jets have gone all out this offseason and have put together the greatest Jet team money can buy. All fans I've spoken to are beyond thrilled by the moves and look forward to the enriched team chemistry these moves will make.

In other words, with Herm and Law on board, start printing your Super Bowl tickets now!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Military Operations Vs. Murder

Yesterday's killings at Merkaz Horav take on a slightly (and I stress the word slightly) personal note for me. When I was learning in Israel, I used to spend many Shabbosim my first year at cousins of mine who lived in Givat Shaul, walking distance to the Yeshiva. Every Friday night we would walk to the Yeshiva for Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv before returning to my cousin's for the meal.

To be honest, I don't remember too much of those experiences. I was usually exhausted by the time Friday night rolled around, dreaming more of chicken soup and a loooooong sleep than another hour or so davening, but I certainly remember the teffilah there being powerful and serious and the singing done by people who were very serious about their Yiddishkeit.

And now eight of them are dead - some of them just 15 year old children.

How someone can walk into a room full of children with a rifle and clips and clips of ammunition - and proceed to start firing at innocents - is something I will never be able to understand. It takes even less of a heart (assuming such a person even has a heart) than the detonation of a bomb - at least with the bomb detonation, you die instantaneously. Here you have to fire until your gun runs out of bullets, stop, eject the clip, slap home a new one and pull back the slide, all while the sounds of people screaming in horror and pain fill your ears.

How can a person do such a thing? What drives someone to be so full of hate that they can gladly give their own lives so that innocent blood can be spilled?

The answer, sadly, is simple. Someone who is born in hate, who is raised in hate and is immersed in hate their whole lives knows nothing other than hatred. Someone whose parents raise a mourning tent draped in the flags of Hamas and celebrate the death of their child as part of the greater good. Someone who probably ran in the streets and fired his weapon in the air when he heard the news that another bus or restaurant filled with innocents was just vaporized by a bomber. Can you really blame someone who knows nothing but murder when he commits murder?

And therein lies the biggest problem faced by Israeli people. They want nothing more than to just live their lives normally - without fear. But that will never be the case. They are surrounded on all sides by lands teeming with people who know nothing other than hatred towards them. People who don't know about George Clooney, Brett Favre, Lebron, Radiohead or Lindsey Lohan. They know about poverty (from their own leaders), they know about hatred and they know about death. They reside in depths that free people could never possibly understand. They are filled with hatred since their inceptions, it if injected into then as surely as the inoculations our children receive for small pox and measles.

Is this the first of a new wave of terror against our people or an isolated incident? What will be the fallout of these attacks? I don't know. What I do know is that when the internet sites describe how the funeral procession began in the courtyard in front of the Yeshvah - I know that i have stood in that courtyard many a time after shul on Friday night, watching hundreds of people milling around and talking to each other before their Friday night meals and their Friday night sleeps.

And I'll never think of that courtyard the same way again.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The New Contract

From the Daily News:

The Daily News has obtained the contract breakdowns for The Big Four - Alan Faneca, Kris Jenkins, Damien Woody and Calvin Pace.

• Technically, Pace’s deal has $12.5 million in guarantees (including an $11 million signing bonus). It was widely reported as $22 million in guarantees. What gives? Well, he’s due a $9 million roster bonus in 2009. That can’t be counted as guaranteed money, although, for practical purposes, it is.

• GM Mike Tannenbaum frontloaded the contracts. Of the total value of the four deals ($137.75 million), $79.2 million is due to be paid out in the first three years. For cap purposes, this makes sense.

• Pace’s contract borders on mind-boggling. He’s due to make $26 million in the first three years, topping Faneca ($24 million). For that price, Pace had better perform like an All-Pro. On his conference call the other day, Pace said, “I’m not a savior.” Well, guess what, dude? With that kind of contract, you’ll be expected to produce more than 6½ sacks a year.

• Not surprisingly, Woody, like Fat Man Jenkins, has workout and weight clauses in his contract. He can make $400,000 a year by working out and making his prescribed weight.

• Strictly an educated guess here, but I’d say they have anywhere from $6 million to $8 million in available cap room - even after the spending spree. They will recoup another $8 million when DT Dewayne Robertson is sent packing.

As I mentioned previously, the Pace deal seems to be the most (insane??) curious of this bunch. It just feels like way too much money for a guy no one's ever heard of before. Of course, if he averages 10 sacks a year, all will suddenly make sense. Also seems insane that the team has money to spend, but they still have to sign their draft picks, including a top 6 pick (unless they trade down).

The more I think about it, the more this smacks of desperation on the part of team Tangini to keep their jobs beyond the season. I hope it works out or the team is ruined for years to come.

- Jets also signed Tony Richardson, a 36 year old pro bowl fullback, to a one year deal.

Exclusive ElstersWorld Interview!

My buddy Brian did some work for the Mets and has some contacts there. He managed to score me the cell phone number of one Diego Vargas, who works in the Mets trainers room at their spring training facility. In other words, he's a huge "in" on the Mets current injury situation. I managed to get a hold of him at 1:00 am this morning to discuss the injuries and their impact on the coming season. Here is a transcript of our call:

Elstersworld: Diego how are you?

Diego Vargas: Not so good man, I just dropped a sixer of Dos Equis at some seedy bar, I'm reeling pretty badly right now. But since your such a good man, I'll answer some questions. The twenty dollars is in the mail right?

EW: Uh, yea. Sure. So tell me, what role do you play in the training room.

DV: Janitorial.

EW: Jane...but you DO work there right?

DV: uh huh.

EW: So based on our conversation, who do you see as the biggest of the issues?

DV: Lessee here...um, I guess Sosa, Schoenweiss, Heilman...

EW: Wait, those guys aren't hurt??

DV: Ohhhh, you were asking about the hurt guys. I though you meant issues like as in "sucking". Hmm. Well, we can start with Alou and that hernia. Not an easy injury for a 45 year old to come back from.

EW: You mean 41?

DV: (Snickering) You think Danny Almonte was the first Latin American to fake a visa compadre? (Cackles).

EW: And besides Alou?

DV: Well Delgado is suffering his second hip injury in 6 months. He's also 35 and a little heavy. All things considered would anyone really be shocked if he snapped in half while bending down for a low grounder this season?

I'm also terrified about Orlando. He's also close to half a century old and all of a sudden he has to learn a new delivery to compensate for a bunion injury. First of all, bunions? Second of all, talk about an old dog learning new tricks.

EW: But couldn't that really be a blessing in disguise with Pelfrey getting the number 5 slot and El Duque going to the pen?

DV: Hey I'm the janitor, not the Manager. Go talk to Willie or Mr. Minaya about that Senor.

EW: Who else should worry us Diego?

DV: Well, me and Luis Castillo go drinking and to strip clubs pretty much every night and he's looked a step or two slower. Since the Mets are looking to him for speed at the top of the order and defense, I dunno. Beltran's knees will be fine, it's his big mouth I'd be worried about. Churchie jus got a bad headache. He'll be ok by May. Same with that Jewish catcher. It's jut a hammy and Lord knows he can't run or hit anyway (another cackle). My other compadre Gotay - I dunno man. But even if he hit .750 this spring he'd be gone. you know, no options and loco manager. Easley will be ok too. I mean ok as he's gonna be you know? And Endy...(trails off into unintelligible Spanish).

EW: So not a pretty picture is it? It seems like there's a good chance the Mets will dig themselves into a huge hole in April and maybe May. where are they going to get a first base/corner outfield righty bat? Should Mets fans start panicking?

DV: (Laughs). No way man. Why worry. We still got Johan, Pedro, Maine and Ollie baby. That erases a lot of mistakes. Besides, as the guys proved last year - it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Now i gotta go find a bathroom before my rental Ford becomes a urinal.

EW: Good night Diego.

DV: (Snores softly)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What It All Means

Sorry about the flurry of posts abut the Jets, but so much has happened since free agency began last Friday - it's been positively dizzying. So you need to bear with me while I try and sort this all out in my own head.

Since Friday, the Jets have added 2 interior offensive linemen, a nose tackle and a pass rushing 3-4 linebacker. In other words, they have spent gobs and gobs of money to shore up the two weakest parts of the team - the lines.

From left to right, the Jets will now trot out D'brick, Faneca, Mangold, Woody and Clement to protect the quarterback (more on that later) and open up holes for Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Assuming Faneca still has enough left in the tank (and presumably while he isn't the same guy he was when he was 27, 28, he still has something left in the tank), this should solidify the left side of the line. Bringing in Damien Woody to play with Clement means the right side is much stronger as well. Assuming he isn't cut, Brandon Moore provides needed depth at the position.

UPDATE - The Jets axed Clement today, meaning they plan on playing Woody at right tackle. So much for the above paragraph.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets are slotting Jenkins in at nose tackle, to play along side the Big Cat (Ellis) and defensive end X (perhaps Dewayne Robertson - the trade with Cincy fell through and with his size and quickness (when he tries), he wouldn't be a terrible option if they can re-do his contract). If Jenkins is healthy, happy and engaged (all big ifs), he could be the nose the Jets 3-4 scheme has been desperately seeking since the switch. Sione Pouha and Kenyon Coleman (assuming he isn't cut) provide decent depth at best.

At linebacker the Jets look to go Linebacker X, Barton, Harris and Pace across. Pace and Bryan Thomas are the same type of linebacker (rushing type, not guys who can cover tight ends) so this might spell the end of Thomas' career with the Jets. He's a bit too expensive to be a backup. Bowen will be gone too. Despite Team Tangini's talk of depth, Jets seem a bit bare at linebacker still.

The quarterback position is still a mess. Certainly, the line should be much better this season at keeping either Clemens or Pennington upright, but the choice at quarterback remains Pennington or Clemens - one is too raw and the other still has a weak arm. With the additions the Jets made through free agency, the quarterback position is the most glaring weakness on the team right now.

The signings mean the Jets can draft less for need and more for talent with their picks. I don't believe Darren McFadden will be around at 6, but if he is - go get him. I think the Jets might be better served trading down a bit to get a few more picks or maybe a corner or speed receiver - available a bit lower down in round one.

All in all I like the moves the Jets made - especially Jenkins (a good calculated gamble - and his contract is not nearly as bad as originally thought), Faneca (sure they overpaid, but what choice did they have? They needed him) and Woody. I think they totally overpaid for Pace but to be honest, I don't know anything about him. Perhaps they could have gotten more value drafting Vernon Ghoulston, but time will tell.

On some level, these moves smack of a bit of desperation - desperation on Team Tangini's part, knowing that they have to win now or they will be jobless next January and desperation of an owner, Woody Johnson, who is sick of watching the Patriots and now worse, the Giants, bringing home the glory. Maybe the Jets needed this kick in the pants to succeed - and certainly the Giants super bowl win has taught us you don't need to be a perfect team to win - so with a few breaks and a good draft, this could end up working out great.

If not, the Jets just saddled themselves with a number of bad contracts.

Let's pull for the former.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Even More Jets

The Daily News is reporting (via ESPN.com) that Calvin Pace has agreed to the Jets offer (including 22 million in guaranteed money) and that the Jets are close to sifgning Damie Woody for 5 million a year too.

Was the salary cap abolished over the weekend?

Cimini Hates the Proposed Robertson Trade

"GM Mike Tannenbaum panicked on the Robertson trade, giving him up for a couple of second-day picks."

True - but as he also points out, the Jets lost their leverage when they traded for Jenkins. Also, Robertson had a big cap number and the Jets are in the process of signing 340 free agents this off season. Trading Robertson saves about 8 million according to Cimini.

Looks like Damien Woody might be joining the fold to play right guard for the Jets, who suddenly have a decent (but not great, unless D'brick gets a whole lot better this season) offensive line.

Jets are also looking at RB Jessie Chatman from the Dolphins (a move I don't get) and are still waiting on Pace to get back to them.

The signings allow the Jets more flexibility on draft day - since they aren't locked into a need position.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lots To Recap

Pardon the spelling and grammar - I'm going to pump this out and go:

- Looks like Faneca is a Jet - 5 years and 40 million dollars - 21 of which is guaranteed. A bit much, and he'll be 36 when all is said and done, but I think the Jets need to make this move.

- The Vilma trade is for a 2008 4th rounder. IF Vilmas hits certain levels this season, the Jets could get a 2 or 3 NEXT year and give the Saints back a 4th rounder.

- Tannenbaum indicated that the Jets could keep Dewayne Robertson, which would entail restructuring his contract. He also said trading Vilma had most to do with his free agent status next year (BS) and the fact that the Jets have good depth inside (even more BS).

All in all, landing Jenkins, getting a 4th rounder this year and landing Faneca = a good 2 days for the Jets.

- G'town escaped Marquette with a very much needed, though apparently controversial, win. Huge win for the Hoyas, who desperately needed a big road win and got one against the 21st ranked Golden Eagles.

- Ryan Church collided with Marlon A - both are hurt - Church has a concussion and needs a CAT scan.

- Carlos Delgado has a bad hip and needed to fly back to NY for an MRI.

In other words, very bad day for the Mets.