Q&A with Jim Callis from Baseball America

Jim Callis from Baseball America answers some questions about the two trades the Mets made Friday and gives his insights on the trading of Scott Kazmir, the timing of the trades, whether or not he feels the likes of Justin Huber, Matt Peterson, and Scott Kazmir were overrated, who he would rank as the Mets' Top Five prospects now, and some insights into the two prospects the Mets acquired in the trades. <i>(Special thanks to Jim Callis and Baseball America)</i>

NYF: First and foremost, give us your thoughts on the two trades the Mets made Friday? In your opinon, did the Mets vastly upgrade their team by acquiring Kris Benson and Victor Zambrano?

Callis: They upgraded the rotation, but I wouldn't use the word "vastly." I don't understand why the Mets felt compelled to make these deals. They were seven games out in the NL East, 7 1/2 back in the wild-card race, and they're under .500 here at the end of July when they made these trades. History will show that clubs in that situation almost never make the postseason. Maybe these shortsighted deals are the cost of trying to appease the New York market and keep up with the Yankees, but I don't get it.

NYF: Many Mets' fans are calling this day, "Black Friday". Just how bad did the Met deplete their farm system with these two deals?

Callis: I'm looking at our top six Mets prospects coming into the year, and five are gone: Kazuo Matsui and David Wright to the majors, and Scott Kazmir, Matt Peterson and Justin Huber in deals Friday. I like Kazmir and think the Rays robbed the Mets in the Zambrano deal. I like Peterson and Huber, too, but I think they've been overhyped and aren't necessarily frontline players who will carry a team to the playoffs. Peterson is probably a No. 3 starter at best, and there are doubts whether Huber is good enough defensively to catch every day in the majors. There's still talent on hand. Wright just came up to New York, so I guess you can't call him part of the system, but he was as good a prospect as there was in the minors. Lastings Milledge has had a very promising year. They'll get Philip Humber signed soon, and he'll be very good. Craig Brazell, Victor Diaz and Royce Ring could help the Mets in the near future. Yusmeiro Petit and Aaron Baldiris have had nice years, too.

NYF: Some sources have said certain Mets' executives felt that the prospects they traded were vastly overrated. What are your thoughts on the futures of Scott Kazmir, Matthew Peterson, Justin Huber, and Joselo Diaz? Were they really overrated in your opinion? If so, which ones?

Callis: Again, I wouldn't use the word "vastly." As I just mentioned, Peterson and Huber probably were overhyped in some corners. Joselo Diaz has a great arm and still is putting it together. He might become something, but he was eminently tradeable. We've heard rumblings that some Mets executives might have had issues with Kazmir's mechanics, but I've talked to other people who aren't worried. Bottom line: no lefty in the minors has an arm that electric. You don't trade someone who very well could be the next Ron Guidry for Victor Zambrano.

NYF: Can you tell us a little more about Jeff Keppinger and Bartolome Fortunato? Are they decent prospects that we should keep an eye on?

Callis: They're just OK. Keppinger went to my alma mater, Georgia, and he hit two homers off Mark Prior in a College World Series game. I'm rooting for him, but to me he looks like a guy who hits for average and doesn't really do much else particularly well. Fortunato has a plus fastball but nothing else really stands out. They're both probably role players at the big league level.

NYF: Now that the Mets have lost three of their top five prospects, what would be the new Mets Top Five prospects as their farm system currently stands and why?

Callis: Wow. This isn't easy after the exodus. I'm going to cheat and count Humber, who should sign in the next month. I'll go Humber, Milledge, Petit, Diaz, Brazell. That's quick, so I may have overlooked someone.

NYF: Is there any reason for hope with the Mets farm system now? Is there anybody at the lower levels of the farm that Mets' fans can hang their hats on as potential "replacements" for the prospects the Mets lost Friday? If so, who and why?

Callis: We ranked the Mets as the 10th-best farm system entering 2004, mainly because of their star-caliber talent. As I mentioned earlier, five of their best six players are gone to the majors or via trades, so their system doesn't look nearly as good. There still are some promising players on hand, but Humber and Milledge are the only blue-chip guys left.

We would like to thank Jim Callis from Baseball America for taking the time to give his insights on the two trades the Mets made this weekend. You can find Jim's articles at BaseballAmerica.com.

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