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11/11/09 10:00 AM EST

Inbox: Why is Delgado a Type B free agent?

Beat reporter Marty Noble answers Mets fans' questions

I don't understand how the Elias Sports Bureau can classify Carlos Delgado as a Type B free agent, so that if he signs with a club other than the Mets, they won't get any compensation. Delgado was hitting as he did in 2008 when he went down with the injury to his hip. How does the Elias Sports Bureau decide he wouldn't have continued to hit if he remained healthy.
-- Jimmy S., Ramsey, N.J.

Jimmy, you're mistaken, as is anyone who refers to the rankings that determine the classification of players as the "Elias Rankings." And too many people do. The ranking statistics, as they are properly identified, are calculated by the Elias Sports Bureau for Major League Baseball. Elias didn't create them.

The ranking statistics are a by-product of the 1981 players strike. In the negotiations that interrupted the season for 50 days, the clubs sought a system of direct compensation for a club losing a free agent. For example, if the Mets signed Reggie Jackson after the 1981 season, they would have been obligated to compensate his former club, the Yankees, with a player.

That didn't happen. At first, compensation for a club losing a Type A player to free agency came from a pool of players fed by all clubs left. Clubs could protect 15 players from the pool. That system was in effect in January 1984. The White Sox, having lost free agent pitcher Dennis Lamp to the Blue Jays, chose from the pool and selected Tom Seaver off the Mets roster, causing the Mets untold embarrassment.

Years later, the current compensation system was implemented. Now clubs losing a Type A player to free agency lose a selection in the subsequent First Year Player Draft.

A means of valuing all players was devised in 1981 so that the value of every free agent, visa vie compensation, would be established before players could begin negotiating with clubs other than their own. The complex formula used to assess players measures performance statistically over the two previous seasons. So Delgado's 2008 was reflected.

So don't kill -- or disparage -- the messenger. The system wasn't devised by Elias. The Sports Bureau just does the work. Moreover, if Delgado were ranked a Class A player, the Mets would be unlikely to offer him salary arbitration for fear of him accepting it and winning an award for greater than the club would feel comfortable paying him. And if the club doesn't offer arbitration, it cannot be compensated with a Draft choice from the signing club.

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I saw you never replied to my e-mail about you picking the Phillies. Why not? The Yankees made you eat your words. I knew it. We crushed them.
-- Arnold T., Long Island City, N.Y

One of the possible reasons for not responding is that I might not have seen it. I've been receiving about 350-400 e-mails a day for the last three weeks. I thought the Phillies were the only National League team that would compete with the Yankees. They are bold, resilient and filled with the good arrogance it takes to win. I don't believe what I saw was the Yankees crushing any team, but a terrific and competitive World Series. It wasn't 1961 Phillies (47-107) vs. the '61 Yankees (109-53). It wasn't the Yankees sweeping the Phillies as they did in 1950. It was a compelling and entertaining World Series that the Yankees won in six games, a series that turned when Johnny Damon reached third base when Cole Hamels came up small.

And, after checking the Yankees roster, I suggest "We crushed them" is inappropriate phrasing. I saw no mention of you, Arnold. So it wasn't "we" and there was little crushing. Enjoy their championship.

What are the Mets doing to make Citi Field better?
-- Richard N., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ah, this is too easy: improving the team that plays there.

What would you do to improve Citi Field?
-- Jerry W., Paramus, N.J.

Eliminate the part of the left-field wall in fair territory right at the foul pole. The wall is about 2 1/2 feet higher there for about 2 1/2 feet. I have no idea why.

The Mets really think they can find a club to take Luis Castillo. Just because he had a high on-base percentage. Come on!
-- Sandy M., Queens, N.Y.

Yes, though not just because of his on-base percentage. But they do think it makes him more attractive. On-base percentage and the ability to play small ball are more appealing now that home runs are down.

I was watching Prime 9 on MLB Network the other day, and they listed the nine best center fielders of all time. They had Joe DiMaggio No. 5 (and not because of his uniform number), behind Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and Tris Speaker.

I know from reading your stories over the last 25 years, that you think a lot of Paul Blair as a center fielder, and when you and I spoke in Spring Training a few years ago, you mentioned Vada Pinson and Ken Berry. I'd be curious to know your top nine or 10.
-- Sean F., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

I've seen the Prime 9 program you mention. I think it's safe to say they took offense into consideration. Otherwise, Mantle wouldn't have ranked higher than DiMaggio. I have no trouble with Mays being No. 1, no matter the criteria. But if it's based on defense and limiting it to the players I've seen live, I'd have Mays, followed closely by Andruw Jones and Blair, then Curt Flood, Berry, Andy Van Slyke and Ken Griffey Jr.

Then, in no particular order, Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, Duke Snider, Garry Maddux, Pinson, Cesar Geronimo, Eric Davis, Kirby Puckett and Amos Otis. That's 16. Did I leave anyone out?

Adam Jones of the Orioles may be on the list soon. I enjoy watching him.

If offense is considered too, then Mays, DiMaggio, Mantle, Griffey Jr., Snider, Carlos Beltran, Puckett, Jones, Davis, Hunter and Pinson. That's 10.

Thanks for the letter. It's a fun exercise. And I do recall our center field discussion. It was spring 1992 when Pinson was working for the Mets.

Do you think Willie Randolph would have kept his job if not for interference from Tony Bernazard?
-- Sandy T., Barre, Vt.

Wow, from out of left field. My sense of it is that Bernazard indirectly undermined Willie by being a sounding board for some dissatisfied veterans. Moreover, Bernazard was so indiscreet about his feelings about Randolph and his desire to hire Manny Acta. I believe the situation wouldn't have soured for Randolph as it did if Bernazard had done his job in player development and not tried to influence decisions on the big league level.

Bernazard's presence and rough edges prompted the departure of others from the Mets, by their own hands, not the club's.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.