Delgado to the Mets! Wagner to follow? And What About B.J. Ryan?
What should have happened last year via free agency has happened this year by trade: Carlos Degado has gone to the Mets! This trade has already benefited the Shea men because it signaled to this year’s No. 1 free-agent closer, Billy Wagner, that the Mets are serious about winning.
Delgado will discover that he likes New York better than he thought he would when he signed with the Florida Marlins last year. Yes, NYC is a couple of hours farther away from Puerto Rico than Miami. But NYC has a large and vibrant Puerto Rican community that will welcome him. If he produces as expected, the rest of NYC will love him too.
And there’s nothing like winning to make a baseball player feel good about his surroundings.
…which brings me back to Wagner. The Mets dealt with the Wagners’ lifestyle concerns: they put money on the table, committed to 3 years with an incentive for a fourth, took Wagner and his wife, Sarah, on a tour of the family-friendly suburbs, and had the Wagners talk to the Glavines.
And, as Wagner said after visitng NYC, they took care of the baseball side: "I really like what they’ve done. And I don’t think they’re done. I’m excited. They look like the one team that wants to win, so far. They’ve got a game plan for winning. …[I]t sure looks like the Mets aren’t just trying to put a competitive team on the field. They want to win."
Wagner said this before the Mets acquired Delgado.
Meanwhile over in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles have finally made an effort to keep their free-agent closer, B.J. Ryan, who is considered the best reliever after Wagner in this year’s market. Word is that the O’s have made a three-year, $18 million offer. I am glad to see the Orioles make an effort to keep the best pitcher on their staff.
I remember the Oakland A’s saying at the beginning of 2003 that they would not even make an offer for Miguel Tejada for 2004. This after Tejada won the 2002 AL MVP award. I don’t care how many times players spout the "I understand baseball is a business" cliche. Actions like that have got to hurt the player. They certainly hurt the fans, even though, in this case, 2004 Rookie of the Year, Bobby Crosby, has been a decent replacement when he’s been healthy. Go to an A’s game and you will still see fans wearing Tejada shirts.
As for whether staying with the Orioles is a good idea for Ryan, that may be another story. Cleveland is interested and they are closer to the playoffs than Baltimore is. The Yankees are also interested, but then Ryan would end up being Rivera’s set-up man. He could stay a closer AND be with a contender by going to Cleveland. The Indians met with the Ryans, but there’s no word on whether the Tribe made an offer. How serious are they?
Whether the Orioles can keep Ryan may depend, not only on the offer to him, but on their ability to contend quickly. That means further improving their pitching staff and finding a strong defensive catcher who will allow Javy Lopez to play first base.
The Birds were in first place for 62 days early in the 2005 season, so they have a recent memory of how it feels to do well. But they have an even more recent memory of how it feels to have everything fall apart. Can the Orioles show Ryan a plan to win, the way the Mets have shown one to Wagner?