Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Five Six Questions About Sammy Cliff and Mike
2004-11-24 18:31
by Derek Smart

Yesterday, Jeremy Heit of Jeremy Heit's Blog asked us five questions about Sammy Sosa, with a mind toward recent Cub/Met trade rumors. Sensing an opening, we asked some questions of our own - six of them, in fact - about Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza. Jeremy was kind enough to answer, so read, enjoy, and discuss!

The Cub Reporter: Floyd has only played in 150+ games once in his career and has a reputation as injury-prone. Is that reputation warranted, and is he a player whose future lies at first base or DH instead of the outfield?

Jeremy Heit: The reputation is warranted. He just doesn't stay healthy, for whatever reasons, whether the injury is suffered in the field or running the bases. He's clearly beat up from past years and is extremely fragile, mostly in the legs.

As for where his future lies, if he keeps hitting when healthy, someone will probably take flyers on him in the OF (I mean, they did with Juan Gonzalez). Should they? Eh... his defense is very suspect. It certainly isn't astheticly pleasing to watch him take routes to the ball, his arm isn't that good and he's not very fast anymore. I personally view him as a below average defender, though he generally catches what he gets to. When he's finally done in the OF, he'll probably end up at DH, which might help him stay healthy with less demands on his legs overall. As for 1B, its generally not a good idea to ask any Met fan about moving players from different positions to 1B after the Mike Piazza debacle last year.

TCR: What do you think the cause of Floyd's drop in batting average and increase in strikeouts might be, and do you see it as a permanent backslide?

Jeremy Heit: Declining bat speed is the main cause with the injuries also hurting him a little. Watching him at the plate this year, he wasn't the same hitter. He couldn't hit any low breaking balls, especially sweeping ones from lefties. He also had some problems getting around on high fastballs, though the biggest problem is the breaking balls.

Also, on the batting average part, he was terrible against lefties. He hit .239 against them with no power, much lower than he normally does. I don't know if he'll be quite that bad against them again next year, but I don't see him doing much better than .260. He just looked lost against lefties this year.

Overall, I don't think he'll strikeout as much as he did this year, but it will be up from his normal career rate. His average might get up to .270, though I wouldn't be shocked to see him at .260 or lower again, especially if he's back at Shea.

TCR: The Cub fanbase has become noticeably hostile toward Sosa both during the season and in the direct aftermath of Left-Early-Gate. What is the general Met fan feeling toward Floyd, and knowing what you do about him, how would you expect him to be received in Wrigley upon arrival? Would you expect feelings to change over the course of a season with prolonged exposure?

Jeremy Heit: The general Met fan feeling towards Floyd is pretty good. Most fans really like him and appreciate how badly he wants to play through injuries, especially in 2003. He definitely enamored himself to me.

The only cause of controversy with Floyd and the fans was the "no light at the end of the tunnel" comments this season, but most fans tended to agree with him, so things didn't get too overblown among fans with this (The Wilpons didn't appreciate it much though). Most fans want him traded because they understand that his contract is tradeable and that clearing his money and spot in LF would be beneficial to the team, not because they don't like him.

I would think he would be received well in Wrigley. He goes out there, he plays hard, he runs everything out hard and he wants to do everything he can for the team. As for prolonged exposure, it depends on how Cub fans take to him and his inevitable injury. If they like his toughness and his willingness to try to work his way through his bumps and bruises, he'll be well appreciated. If not, they might get very angry over just how often he is banged up.

TCR: Mike Piazza: Washed up? First base or Catcher? Blond or Brunette?

Jeremy Heit: Washed up in the sense that he isn't the same Mike Piazza he once was. But he's still a damn good hitter, especially at catcher, though it might only be for 100-120 games between injuries and the years of catching on his body.

Catcher. That's an easy one. He was really bad defensively as a first baseman, so bad that I'm not sure there is an adjective that exists that can verbally explain just how terrible he was (though I tend to go with craptastic). Plus, he is an above average hitting catcher, isn't as bad of a defensive catcher as people make him out to be (his only problem is his arm) and the Mets would be better off finding a real 1B (both offensively and defensively) to fill a hole they don't have players in the farm system to fill for at least a few years.

As for his hair, I guess I prefer the Dodgers mullet look, though I guess that isn't coming back, so we'll go with brunette, since that's what it was back then. Personally, I wouldn't care if it was blue and orange as long as he stayed healthy and hit.

TCR: Is Piazza someone you would like to see dealt? If so, why, and what would you hope to get in return?

Jeremy Heit: I'm going to take this question two ways. First, the emotional side.

No. Never. Mike Piazza is my personal boyhood hero, the one player I could always count on in a big spot. This is the final year in his contract and there is a sentimentality about letting him finish out his contract before he leaves the Mets (which hopefully he will). He's an important part of this Mets era and as a pure fan, I wouldn't ever want to see him traded away.

As for the non-emotional side, the answer is still no. Because, realistically, this would be a salary dump for the Mets, with them getting back overpriced players that another team is unhappy with. What's the point in that? The Mets would create a hole at catcher (and one they can't replace well in house and I'd rather not touch Jason Varitek) which would hurt the team and then end up filling another spot on the team with an overpriced player where they could have just as easily filled that spot with a better player in free agency. Mike Piazza has one year at catcher left and with no real answer for the Mets at that spot in house or out of house, trading their starting catcher doesn't seem like a good idea, especially if it brings back more overpriced/underacheiveing talent.

TCR: Do you want to see Sammy Sosa traded to the Mets, if the deal were Cliff Floyd for Sammy Sosa and some money from the Cubs? Why?

Jeremy Heit: No. This trade doesn't make sense for the Mets in any way possible, unless the Cubs want to make the money perfectly even (or close), in which case I might do it, because I would probably take a shot on Sosa over Floyd next year, plus I get out of Floyd's contract for next year.

But since that isn't realistic, I don't want to do it. Sammy is not the answer for the Mets, just a sidestep, even if his 2006 option doesn't trigger with the trade. The Mets are much better off running at Carlos Beltran (with Mike Cameron moving to RF) and J.D. Drew to fill their RF spot to get stability in their outfield for years to come. Plus, it would actually make them younger, which would be a nice concept for the Mets to take on.

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