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Metropolitan's Musings



A blog dedicated to ramblings about the Mets in particular and baseball in general.



Updated: 2012-04-15T16:39:20.439-07:00

 



Big Bopper - Check

2005-11-26T18:17:39.213-08:00

In my last entry I established my wish list for the beloved Metropolitans. Certainly it took no great insight to diagnose the Met needs:A closerA bopperBefore the Thanksgiving turkey was stuffed, Omar completed half of the off-season "things to do" list. And as he is an avid reader of this blog, he did the best he could to make me happy. Noting that Carlos Delgado was actually #2 on my bopper, I still find it hard to be disappointed. My primary target, the vastly under appreciated Brian Giles, has the unfortunate benefit of free will on his side. And it seems that Mr. Giles has no great desire to make Flushing, NY his place of primary employment for the next several years. Now typically I make no attempts at divining the inner thoughts of other human beings. I leave that to the mainstream sportswriters because they are so good at it. You know the litany of their successes. Mark McGwire would never sign with St. Louis because his son lives on the West Coast and he wants to be near him. Mike Piazza is not a New York "kind of guy". Carl Pavano will return to his New England roots and sign with the BoSox (oh, how the Yankees wish that one was dead on). So why do I despair of the Mets chances of signing the offensive juggernaut - did I mention that he is vastly underappreciated - that is Brian Giles? Because Omar covets free agents like Mike Francesa covets doughnuts. Hell, he publicly acknowledges having offers out to two free agent catchers as I write this. But nothing on Giles. Nada. Zilch. Nary a word or the wisp of a rumor. Let's do the math. Omar must know that Giles is completely cold to the Mets.Now that leaves us to Delgado. Like Giles, an OBP monster. Like Giles, a slugger. Unlike Giles, he cost more than money - the very reason he was 2nd on my list. But now he is a Met, and that is a glorious thing. Many lament the loss of Jacobs and Petit. They were interesting players, and I wish them well. Few baseball arguments are more tiresome or futile than the debate over what a prospect will or will not become. For this reason I'll pass on such projections, except to say that most prospects disappoint.So what have we here with Mr. Delgado? Well, according to my favorite gage of offensive production, OPS+, the 5th most productive player in baseball last year. That's right, 5th, after Derek Lee, Albert Pujols, Travis Hafner, and Alex Rodriguez. And ahead of guys like Manny Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, and David Ortiz. And by the same measure of OPS+ Delgado is coming off his 2nd best season at age 33. In short, then, we have a devastating slugger who has not shown sign of any decline. This acquisition also gives the Met lineup the anchor it had been lacking. Lineups do funny things to players. Placed properly, a decent hitter can look very good - think Kevin Millar in 2004. Placed properly, a pretty good hitter can look prodigious - think Hideki Matsui over the last 2 season. Of course, the opposite is also true. Consider the Mets of recent vintage. Mike Cameron is a decent offensive player. Forced into lineup spots that ill-suited him, he languished. Cliff Floyd is as good a hitter as Hideki Matsui, and probably better. Plug him in the proper lineup slot, in the 5 or 6 spot, and think about his 3o plus homers and around 100 RBI's. So the rest of the Met lineup will assuredly benefit from Delgado's presence. The other Carlos, Beltran, should hit in the 2 hole, a spot in which he has flourished in the past. David Wright will bat cleanup, mostly because of Willie Randolph's obsession with the right/left pattern. In this case Willie will stumble into the right configuration because Delgado is the Mets' best hitter, and although Willie doesn't know it, the best hitter should bat 3rd. It's a guarantee that either Benjie Molina or Ramon Hernandez will be the Met backstop in 2006, so here's a pretty fair guess at the opening day lineup:ReyesBeltranDelgadoWrightFloydHernandez/MolinaNady/DiazA. Hernandez/Matsui/KeppingerReferring back to my original wish list, it also called for a closer. It seems a pretty fair bet that Omar will lock u[...]



What Is To Be Done?

2005-11-05T19:15:54.740-08:00

Ahh, the sweet signs of the nascent baseball season. The leaves are turning orangey yellow, ready for their death spiral towards the ashen earth. The days are shortening. The creatures of the wilds are readying their winter stores in anticipation of the coming frosts. Crisp days and frigid nights will soon be our constant companions. All of these signs portend one thing and one thing only. The true baseball season is upon us. Yes, you’ve read correctly. The true Met fan knows that nature’s death throe of autumn commences our season, a season of eternal hope and optimism. For the Mets of recent vintage are Winter Warriors, Checkbook Champions, Sultans of Speculation. The dance of free agent courtship is their stock and trade. This winter, though, looms larger than others. You see, the Mets are close, oh so close to summers charged with the heady sensations of real championship aspirations. The Metropolitans are much closer to the top of the National League than they are to the bottom. A 100 win season in 2006 is much more likely than a 100 loss season. Many pieces are in place. But the next few steps will make all of the difference. For this reason, this winter is the key, the linchpin, for the fortunes of the next several summers.So, what is to be done? In 1902 the notorious revolutionary V. I. Lenin posed this question to the Russian people in a polemic with the same title. I don’t think that Lenin would have been a Met fan. Probably the Devil Rays, maybe the Royals, certainly a small market team that suffers under the yoke of capitalist injustice. No loss there. Lenin was as bleak and humorless as he was murderous. If he were a baseball player he would be Randy Johnson – brilliant but joyless, devoid of all human charm, possessing the ability to amaze but never to endear. The anti-Ali, if you will. But what, you ask impatiently, does this have to do with the Mets? Nothing, of course, so let’s move on.Last winter I postulated that the Mets best strategy would be a double free agent assault on Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Delgado. Omar Minaya agreed with the first part of this attack, but as to the latter he chose the duo of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. By now we are all aware that the Martinez signing was a master stroke, as Pedro dazzled us with his brilliance and élan. Beltran not so much. But Carlos is still a young man and a rebound season in 2006 would surprise no one. All in all, then, Omar’s first season was a success as the Flushing Nine improved by 12 games and stayed in Wild Card contention until early September. Even more importantly, a core of young players established themselves as cornerstones for the franchise.Foremost among these was David Wright. The 22 year old Met fan from Virginia blossomed into stardom while we watched. He became an offensive force, leading the team in doubles, runs batted in, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. He should be the best 3rd baseman in the National League for years to come. Standing about 50 feet to Wright’s left was another 22 year old named Jose Reyes. This superior athlete led the National League in stolen bases and triples. His season was far from the resounding success that Wright’s was, but Met fans were ecstatic that he remained healthy, played a strong defensive shortstop, and displayed improvement throughout the season. These two youngsters, along with Beltran, should provide stability and excellence for years to come.Other players proved valuable in 2005. Cliff Floyd stayed healthy and gave the lineup a left handed slugger. Mike Jacobs came up in late August and hit 10 homeruns in less than 100 at bats. His sweet lefty swing could be a staple in the Met lineup through the decade. Tom Glavine was as good as any pitcher in the league in the second half of the season. Aaron Heilman showed versatility as both a starter and reliever. Kris Benson and Jae Seo were effective during large segments of the season.But the team has weaknesses, although not [...]



Two Simple Questions

2005-03-04T18:44:10.863-08:00

Last weekend I was enjoying my Sunday morning newspaper, ESPN buzzing vaguely in the background. In one of those rare convergences of the cosmos, two jolting bits of information came careening at me simultaneously. At the exact moment that Newday’s Jon Heyman was telling me, via his Sunday column, that the Mets should trade Mike Cameron for Ugueth Urbina, Peter Gammons on ESPN told me that Hideki Matsui was one of the ten best players in the American League. Reeling and dazed, I gaped open-mouthed, my disoriented stare switching back and forth from the newspaper to the TV. Which piece of stupidity was most in need of an infusion of logic from my addled brain? Within minutes, lucid thoughts began to form again, mostly in the form of questions:How is Mike Cameron worth only a fading set up man?Is there another American League that Gammons is referring to?Were a dozen or so American League stars traded to National League teams last night?If so, did the Mets get any of them?Why is Jon Heyman fixated on the Met bullpen?Can Ugueth Urbina play right field?Or does he see himself as more of a center fielder who views right field as beneath him?Slowly, these questions morphed into these two:Why is Hideki Matsui so overvalued?Why is Mike Cameron so undervalued?Let’s start with question #1. Right up front, let me say that Hideki Matsui is a good, solid major league hitter. All in all, he is a solid, productive offensive player. But he is not one of the 10 best players in the American League. In fact, he’s not one of the 20 best. His actual number probably lies somewhere between 25 and 40. Many players are difficult to evaluate because they do things that can’t be quantified easily. These skills include playing defense and running the bases. Hideki Matsui is not one of these players. His peripheral skills are abominable. He can’t field and he can’t run. By any measurement he is one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball, playing the least demanding position on a baseball diamond. He’s also 31 years old, meaning he’s not going to improve very much, and he’s only had one really good season. So, in a very real sense, Matsui is what his numbers say he is. This means that it is very easy to evaluate and rank him. Most other very good offensive players also bring something else to the table that adds to their value. Not Matsui.So who’s better than Hideki? Here’s my list. Now, keep in mind that I’ve only chosen the “definites”. I’ll deal with the “maybes” later in this article. So these are the guys, in no particular order, that I have no hesitation about:Derek JeterAlex RodriquezGary SheffieldGarret AndersonVlad GuerreroEric ChavezAubrey HuffCarl CrawfordTravis HafnerIchiroAdrian BeltreMiguel TejadaMelvin MoraHank BlalockMark TexeiraMichael YoungManny RamirezJohnny DamonDavid OrtizEdgar RenteriaMagglio OrdonezIvan RodriquezCarlos GuillenFrank ThomasNow there’s an even two dozen to start off. As I said, these are the no-brainers. Matsui had better offensive numbers than some of them last year, but many of these players outrank Matsui by virtue of position scarcity. For example, Derek Jeter will never post the kind of power numbers that Matsui posted last season, but his value as a shortstop inarguably places him above Matsui. Ditto Edgar Renteria. Also a couple of players here are coming off seasons in which injuries reduced their effectiveness – Eric Chavez, Garret Anderson, Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez. In each case their bodies of work are so strong that they warrant inclusion here.Of the 24 players listed, the one most similar to Matsui is the one that most casual fans would find least recognizable. It’s Travis Hafner. HR RBI OBP Slg% Avg.Matsui 31 108 .390 .522 .298Hafner 28 109 .410 .583 .311Similar numbers, but the edge to H[...]



Digging in the Corners

2005-02-21T11:31:30.950-08:00

Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron have been dangled so often they belong in a bait and tackle shop. That is, if the media and Metropolitan fan base count for anything. As for the Met front office, I really can’t say. One can be pretty sure that Floyd and Cameron have been mentioned in some trade scenarios, but it’s impossible to judge Omar Minaya’s true interest in jettisoning one or both of them. The amateur G.M.’s, however, – both in the press and in the public – have been working overtime to clean out the corners of the Met outfield. The reasons usually boil down to these:Cliff Floyd is an injury prone loose cannon.Mike Cameron strikes out too much, has lost value as a corner outfielder, and will be an unhappy camper playing a new position.Let’s take each case individually. Cliff Floyd is indeed injury prone. Yeah, you had noticed that already, hadn’t you? As for the loose cannon part, that’s a bit of an overstatement isn’t it? Yes, Cliff occasionally lapses into brutal honesty when a microphone is shoved in his face. Perhaps he could be more circumspect when speaking to the press. But a loose cannon? A bad guy in the clubhouse? No way. Cliffy is a good guy who speaks his mind. The early trade rumors had the big lefty headed to Chicago as part of a Sammy Sosa trade. With that no longer a possibility, the rumor mongers have decided that Texas would be a good destination for Floyd. In these fantasy trades the Mets usually receive Kevin Mench or Laynce Nix. Both of these guys are interesting, but I wouldn’t trade Floyd for either. On this Met team Floyd could be a vital bat in the lineup. First of all, he’s a lefty slugger and the only one on the team. This means that he will be strategically placed in the lineup to break up Mike Piazza and David Wright. Secondly, he is a bona fide run producer. He posts high on base and slugging percentages consistently. As for his propensity for injuries, this Met team is constructed to withstand his absence from the lineup. If Cliffy plays his Met average of 110 games again this season, I believe that Victor Diaz and Eric Valent can provide capable production in his place. My hope, of course, is that Floyd finally gives the Mets a full season of .360 on base percentage and .500 slugging. A very fair projection for a full season of Floyd would be 25 home runs and 90 RBI’s. And if Cliff suffers through another injury plagued season, I would expect the Diaz/Valent combo to come very close to those numbers. The bottom line, then, is that the Mets actually have the luxury of keeping Cliff and hoping for the best on the health front. This takes us to Cameron. The anti-Cameronites point to his high strike out totals. Yes, Mike strikes out a great deal. That’s a stat that just has never bothered me too much. Some very good players strike out a lot. The list includes Carlos Delgado, Derek Jeter, and Adam Dunne. For the most part, an out is an out. The same critics who want to ride Cameron out of town on a rail are theorizing trades that include people like Preston Wilson and Willy Mo Pena. What are these guys, Tony Gwynn disciples? You can’t criticize Cameron for striking out too much and then propose trades for whiff kings like Wilson and Pena. As for Mike losing value as a corner outfielder, that has some truth according to principles of economics. Very few centerfielders have Cameron’s power, but many rightfielders do. But this is more than compensated for by Beltran’s presence in center. And again, the players who would come back have no more power than Cameron. Does anyone honestly think that Eric Byrnes would hit 30 home runs as a Met? Jason Lane has been a highly thought of prospect for years, but he’s 28 now and has never played a full major league season. Could he provide the kind of power that Cameron does? Well, it’s possible, but why trade a known quantity for an unknown? As for Cameron’s unhappiness playing a new positi[...]



One True Thing

2005-01-27T18:34:40.263-08:00

After the flurry of activity this winter, the Met starting lineup may finally be all set for the 2005 season. I’m not entirely convinced of this, but it is pretty safe to say that the infield is now set with the acquisition of Doug Mientkiewicz. The upside of signing the Mientkiewicz is the Gold Glove caliber defense that he brings to the right corner of the infield. The conventional wisdom is that this will have a steadying influence on the Mets' young infielders. The truth is that these players - Kaz Matsui, Jose Reyes, and David Wright – hold the key to the Mets’ fortunes in the upcoming season. Perhaps this is most true of Reyes, the dynamic but oft-injured shortstop who has teased Met fans with his raw athleticism. When Reyes first came up to the Mets in the summer of 2003 I felt much the same way as I did when I first saw Michael Vick playing football at Virginia Tech. It was amazing to me that an athlete playing at such a high level could be so obviously more gifted than his peers. All of us in Metropolitan Nation thanked the gods for our good fortune, while at the same time pleading with them to allow this one good thing to flourish and prosper in the barren wasteland that had become Shea Stadium. Of course, the gods are a cruel and arbitrary group. They smile on the unworthy in the Bronx, they bless the indifferent in Miami, they shed sunshine on the sun drenched in Arizona. We asked them, we implored them, for this one thing. Let this flash of brilliance, this sublime gift – let this one true thing be. Let him be our Jeter, our Pujols, our Vlad. And how have the gods answered us? With a resounding maybe, of course. Now, on the verge of what should be Reyes’ 3rd big league season, we still wait and wonder what will become of our fondest hope. Well, I bring you good news of great joy. For unto us a child is born . . . Oh, my mistake, wrong story. But I do have good news anyway. Jose Reyes is tearing it up in the Dominican Winter League. Yea, yea, you knew that already. Big deal. Reyes is putting up big numbers against middle-aged factory workers and under-aged wannabes in the jungles of the Caribbean. Your reaction is understandable, if uninformed. You see, the Dominican League is a very good league filled with big time talent and major league players. And many of these big time talents and major league players are not performing nearly as well as Reyes is. In fact, none of them are. The Dominican League is currently finishing up its playoffs. Each playoff team has played 18 games. Below are the playoff averages for some of the recognizable talent in the league: Tony Batista .190 Miguel Tejada .322 Charles Thomas .167 Julio Franco .293 Ron Belliard .214 Jose Guillen .267 D’Angelo Jimenez .250 Jose Offerman .288 Carlos Pena .045 Timo Perez .308 Jose Reyes .422 That’s right, .422. That’s 27 for 64. Throw in 9 stolen bases in 9 attempts. The next highest average on that list is Miguel Tejada, and I’ve heard he’s pretty good. He’s .100 points behind Jose. Actually another recognizable name has a playoff average even closer to Jose’s. Victor Diaz, .355. To further validate the high quality of baseball in the Dominican League, let’s look at some regular season numbers for a group of major leaguers: Tejada .250 Timo Perez .256 Eric Byrnes .273 Raul Mondesi .192 (I particularly like this one) Willy Mo Pena .202 Angel Berroa .256 Pedro Feliz .227 Juan Uribe .227 Enrique Wilson .231 Jose Reyes .302 That .302 is based on a 38 for 126 regular season. This time throw in 11 bags in, you guessed it, 11 attem[...]



Tick, Tick, Tick

2005-01-22T21:21:18.536-08:00

For the second time this January, a Texas team is on the clock. And for the second time the Mets are hoping for a buzzer beater. We are all in the dark as to actual numbers, but unlike my fellow writers in the mainstream media I won't make any uneducated guesses as to what each team is offering Carlos Delgado. It is being reported that Texas wants an answer by Sunday. If true, this is good news for the Mets. Other reports claim that Omar Minaya is pondering whether or not to try to outbid the competitors for the left-handed slugger. Delgado's agent, a guy who issues press releases each time he gets a phone call, had this to say today:

"I had extensive telephone conversations today with representatives of the Mets, Orioles and Rangers and a face-to-face meeting with the Marlins due to the proximity," agent David Sloane, who lives in Florida, said in an e-mail.

It is, and has been, my firm belief that Delgado wants to play for the Mets. I don't think this was true in December, but the sudden ascension of Met fortunes has grabbed Delgado's attention. For these reasons the Mets are now attractive to Carlos. But, like most humans, he will chase the money. In Delgado's case, however, I don't believe he'll make this his sole consideration. If the Rangers offer $48 million for 4 years, and the Mets offer $33 million for 3 years, I believe Delgado will don a 10 gallon hat and tatoo a lone star on his arse. But, if the Mets offer $45 million or something close to the Ranger offer, then I believe that Carlos Delgado will become a Met. Why do I believe this? Well, mostly because I want to. Also because Delgado is a guy who has languished in what has become a lukewarm baseball climate. New York would offer him the most exciting atmosphere to spend the latter days of his possible Hall of Fame career. He is good friends with Carlos Beltran. He is, by all accounts, a cultured, intelligent person. New York just seems right for him.

To prove the extent of my delusional ponderings, I also am reading into his agent's statement. Why are the Mets mentioned first? There was a 25% chance of this happening. Shouldn't the Marlins be first? They met with him face to face. What about Texas? They have the most money on the table. Why the Metropolitans? Because this is where Delgado wants to be. And if Omar is thinking about raising the ante, then my strong hunch is that he will do so. The truth is, however, that we have no idea what Omar is doing. This has been true all winter. To me, this proves the extent of his power and influence in the Met organization. He has changed the entire culture. It used to be an amateurish, gossipy, loose-lipped organization. Now they operate with the secrecy of the CIA. This is a welcome change and a sound negotiating strategy.

Why is Texas even in this thing? They don't need Delgado at all. They are a good team that needs pitching. Their tussle with the Mets should have been for Pedro Martinez. They have a great, young, slugging first baseman in Mark Texiera. It just seems that their owner woke up one day this week and decided that he had to have a free agent and Delgado was the only sexy one left. Well, Mr. Hicks, I don't think you're getting him. Sometime next week, let's say Wednesday or Thursday, the Mets will break out the good china and hand a jersey with #25 on it to a very large gentleman named Carlos Delgado. He'll smile, we'll all smile, and then we'll bide our time until pitchers and catchers report.




An Early Look at the N.L. East

2005-01-17T07:52:26.583-08:00

New York has certainly been the hub of hot stove activity this winter, with probably the three biggest off-season maneuvers – the signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, and the trade for Randy Johnson. Surprisingly, the Mets have garnered most of the headlines by successfully recruiting both the most desirable free agent pitcher and position player. This is part of a greater trend in the National League East. Every team in the N.L. East has made major acquisitions over the winter, making this division the most balanced one in major league baseball. Any one of 4 teams could realistically win this 5 team division, which has been locked up by the Braves since Warren Harding was President. None of the teams looks like a world-beater, mind you, but each of the 4 contenders could win as many as 95 games if all breaks well for them. On the flip side, any of the 4 could also win as few as 75 games if their best laid plans go astray. The 5th team, ostensibly called the Washington Nationals, is far from awful and is my bet to be baseball’s best last place team in 2005. Let’s take a look at where each team stands as currently constituted: Atlanta Braves Key Acquisitions – Tim Hudson, Danny Kolb, Raul Mondesi Safe Bet – Hudson will pitch outstanding baseball and contend for the NL Cy Young Award. Has-beens and never-weres flourish under the genius of Leo Mazzone. In this case Mazzone has a big time talent in the prime of his career. Look for 20 wins and a sub 3.00 ERA. Burning Question – How will John Smoltz adapt to his return to the starting rotation? My guess is that it will be a difficult transition for Smoltz. He’s been a closer for several years now and he has a history of arm trouble. A few stints on the DL wouldn’t surprise me at all. Most Likely to Flop – Raul Mondesi is a very strange person. He will self-destruct in Atlanta, just as he did in New York, Arizona, and Pittsburgh. And, somehow, it won’t affect the Braves at all. Question Mark – Can Danny Kolb be a big time closer for a contender? Danny Kolb saved 39 games last season for a bad team. That’s impressive, but not the most interesting stat from Kolb. That would be his 21 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. Trust me, this is the only time in baseball history that a guy with that kind of K ratio saved 39 games. Is there a message in those numbers? I would say yes, and that message is that Danny Kolb does not have 39 save stuff, and that this number will decline significantly. Florida Marlins Key Acquisition – Al Leiter Safe Bet – Miguel Cabrera will continue to mature into an absolute superstar. What I wouldn’t do to have this guy on the team I root for. Let me put it to you this way; baseballreference.com has a section on each player’s page that tells you the most statistically similar player to the player you are looking at. It’s called a similarity score. Cabrera’s most similar player at this point in his career? A guy named Henry Aaron. Burning Question – How will the lefties pitch? Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter are key lefties in the Marlin rotation. Willis fell off considerably from his stellar rookie season, posting an ERA over 4.00 and giving up more hits than innings pitched. Leiter, as every Met fan knows, pitched very well at times last year, but threw a ridiculous amount of pitches, causing him to be removed from most games by the 6th inning. Both of these guys are capable of having excellent years. The Marlins will need them to. Most Likely to Flop – Guillermo Mota will close for the Fish. He’s got a great arm, but closing games requires a certain attitude that Mota might not possess. Will he be able to take on the pressure that goes with being the last line of defense? Question Mark – Can Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett stay healthy? Last year they combined for a record of 16 wins and 15 losses an[...]



Beltranscendental Meditations

2005-01-10T17:21:06.636-08:00

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? I rarely quote Queen songs. Trust me. But what is a Met fan to do? Giddiness, breathlessness, dizziness – these side effects and more are associated with signing Carlos Beltran. Did the Mets really sign the most sought after free agent on the market? Thank you Omar, thank you Mr. Wilpon, and thank you Mr. Steinbrenner for sitting this one out. Now, I’m not going to lie to you. All winter I have been saying, some might say adamantly, that Beltran is not the best hitter on the market. Based purely on performance, both Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Delgado have more impressive track records with the bat. Of course, Magglio has to be scratched from the debate due to his injury. Delgado is a stone cold masher, and OBP machine, and a fearsome slugger. But, he is not as desirable as Beltran for several reasons that are obvious – age and defensive position being primary among these. Omar Minaya obviously decided that Beltran would be a better buy than both Ordonez and Delgado. He could have had both for just a little more than Beltran cost per year. There are several factors that support his strategy. The first is Shea Stadium itself. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not exactly a hitters’ paradise. It favors versatile gap hitters over pure sluggers. Think of the few hitters who have excelled at the Big Shea. Piazza can hit to all fields and does not rely on the home run. The Straw man posted high OBP’s and also brought speed to the table. Edgardo Alfonzo, for his brief shining moment as an elite hitter, hit line to line. Beltran is more of this type of hitter, not so much prone to park factors as a pure slugger. Beltran’s age and health also had to be a vital factor. At the end of this contract Beltran will be the current age (34) of the best centerfielder in baseball (Jim Edmonds). So now the Mets have signed the best free agent pitcher and the most coveted free agent position player. Quietly, they have also stocked up on every bullpen arm from here to East Asia. This is always the best strategy when it comes to middle relief. There are no good middle relievers, there are only middle relievers having good years. Stockpiling arms makes it more likely that you’ll have one of the latter. The Miguel Cairo signing was also solid. He is to Joe McEwing what Barry Bonds is to Benny Agbayani. Cairo actually belongs in the big leagues, unlike Super Joe. He was the starting second baseman for an excellent team last year. He can also play the outfield if needed. And, although I am not advocating it, if an attractive trade materializes for Kaz Matsui, Omar can pull the trigger knowing he has Cairo. Now, let’s tackle some post-Beltran questions: Did the Mets overpay for Beltran? Well, yeah, judged by any acceptable moral standard of justice and fairness. Since neither apply to professional sports, let’s suspend reality and enter this magical fairy land where mediocrities are paid millions. Ten players have signed $100 Million contracts. Beltran is obviously better than five of them. The five are Derek Jeter, Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown (insert laughter here), Jason Giambi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. I believe that three are better than Beltran. They are Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols. This leaves Todd Helton, and I’ll call that one a push. Helton is awesome, but that whole Coors Field thing is a tough one to evaluate. I think on a neutral field Beltran gets the edge. Remember, the Astros pushed their offer to $108 Million. That shows you how badly they wanted him back, maybe the best sign that the Mets spent wisely. What should the Mets do about Floyd and Cameron? Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. These two are pretty good players. That’s been their problem since they joined the Metropolitans. We needed them to be gr[...]



A Critique of Pure Nonsense

2004-12-31T23:54:30.716-08:00

You all know that the Crankees seemed to have a deal in place for the Big Ugly. If the details of the trade are as reported, then it is actually a good baseball trade for both teams. Responses have been predictable, ranging from the “Yankees are destroying baseball by spending astronomical sums on their payroll” to “God bless George Steinbrenner for doing everything possible to make his team a winner.” Also predictable is the reaction of the media and “baseball people” who view all moves made by the Crankees as divinely inspired. Randy Johnson is awesome. That cannot be denied. Reporters and Crankee sycophants (is there a difference?) can shout it from the rooftops with no criticism from this little corner of Metropolitan land. Randy Johnson is a stone cold stud, an all-time great, and damned close to still the best pitcher in baseball.

What then, you ask, has instigated what is sure to be an oncoming rant against injustices perpetuated against the Metropolitans? Simply this – the idea that Randy Johnson is more likely than Pedro Martinez to stay healthy over the next several years. This seems to be the conventional wisdom in the media: The Mets got bamboozled by a broken down pitcher on his last legs (or last labrum) and the Cranks went out and got a pitcher in the full bloom of health and well-being. Take today’s Newsday, for example. Two veteran major league scouts reveal their opinions on the RJ deal. Under the category of “Durability”, one of these sage gurus opines of the Big Ugly that “He’s more durable and stronger than Pedro.” Oh, really? And what is this based on? Well, based on actual data, this opinion must spring from a combination of the following foundations of logical thought:
1) Pure whimsy
2) Unadulterated nonsense
3) Hallucinogenic Drugs

Aside from the obvious – Johnson is 41 and Pedro is 33 – let’s blow some holes in the gospel according to two anonymous scouts. And, as an aside, let me add this. Sometimes I deal with scouts. Overall they are typically uninformed dullards who possess very little baseball acumen. Read Moneyball, if you haven’t already. That’s a very accurate description of how scouts think (apologies to the word “think”). Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Over the past two years, here’s a look at the two shiny new acquisitions for Gotham’s two baseball clubs.

Pitcher Games Started Innings ERA Record
Randy Johnson 53 359 3.43 22 & 22
Pedro Martinez 62 403 3.05 30 & 13

Hmm. Yep, them thar scouts sure know their stuff. The much older guy who has been hurt much more over the past two years is far more durable than the younger pitcher who has been much healthier in recent years. Seems highly logical to me. I wonder what other pearls of wisdom dropped from the lips of these baseball prophets. Jose Reyes will play more games than Miguel Tejada? Joe McEwing will gather more hits than Ichiro? David Ortiz will steal more bases than Juan Pierre? These predictions all are about as logical as the ruminations on Randy and Pedro.

We all know that the health of every pitcher is tenuous. Each pitcher is one thrown ball from career oblivion. But here’s a guarantee you can take to the bank. Pedro Martinez will start more games next season then Randy Johnson. Any logical analysis of the question would yield the same answer.



Gag Order

2004-12-27T14:01:55.583-08:00

Today’s entry is a list of sentences that should be banished from the language for evermore:

1) “Hey, the Mets should get Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base.”
No, they shouldn’t. Not unless the rest of the lineup improves dramatically. Mientkiewicz is not the answer. Well, I guess he’s the answer to some questions, such as “What’s the name of that banjo hitting, slick fielding first baseman who didn’t start for two different teams last year?”, or “Who is that guy who plays a power position and hits about 8 home runs per year?”. Yes, Doug M. can pick ‘em with the best of them, guys like David Segui and JT Snow. Guess what? I don’t want them either. A first baseman basically has three jobs. In no particular order they are hit, hit, and hit. The Red Sox won the World Championship with Kevin Millar at first. He’s not exactly a Gold Glover, and, he’s really not a big time thumper either. And Mientkiewicz couldn’t beat him out. The Twinkies moved Mientkiewicz to make room for a rookie. He’s a luxury in a great lineup. The Mets can’t, as currently constituted, afford this luxury.

2) “Wow, that Chad Pennington is a brilliant guy.”
I do not root for the Jets. I do not root against the Jets. When it comes to Gang Green, I’m basically objective and neutral. Pennington seems like a nice guy. After this week, he also seems like a dumb guy. His press conference last Monday was embarrassing. For him, that is. He came across as inarticulate and immature. OK, you’re all thinking that I’m way off base because he was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship. By the way, he was not a Rhodes Scholar, although he is sometimes referred to as one. He was nominated. And do you know what it takes to be nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship? An application. There is no other requirement – no minimum grade point average, no qualifying exam, nothing. I’m sure Chad was a good student at Marshall. He probably had a good GPA, after all he majored in journalism (how ironic) - not quantum mechanics, not microbiology, not even physical education. One of the qualities looked for by the Rhodes committee is involvement in “sport”. It doesn’t take a forensic detective to figure out what happened here. Someone in the Athletic Department at Marshall nominated Chad for a Rhodes Scholarship. Good for them. The Rhodes Scholarship Committee didn’t award one to Chad. Good for them.

3) “Pedro Martinez is basically a 100 pitch pitcher at this point in his career.”
This is the whole line of thinking – or non-thinking – that says that Pedro is a broken down, labrum frayed, disaster waiting to happen. Three pitchers in the American League averaged more pitches per start than Pedro last year. Five threw more innings. Pedro started 33 games and the league leader started 35. Wouldn’t you say that this paints a picture of a durable pitcher? In terms of innings pitched, batters faced, and starts he was most similar to Brad Radke last year. I don’t recall the great concern over Radke’s health. He started 6 more games than Tim Hudson. He threw 29 more innings than Hudson. Yet, Hudson is a young workhorse and Pedro is a pitch away from his arm blowing up. Go figure.



Omar's Watching

2004-12-22T19:51:38.656-08:00

Just a few days ago I posted about the possibility of adding athleticism to the Mets outfield. Two suggestions were Eric Byrnes and Randy Winn. Lo and behold, Byrnes shows up in the papers as a possible trading target for the Metropolitans. You do the math. The Mets' front office is obviously closely monitoring my posts and using my ideas to run the organization. That's OK with me, but let me qualify the idea of acquiring Byrnes. Do not, I repeat, do not, give up a top prospect - Milledge and Petit have been mentioned. Offer Heilman and listen carefully to hear if Billy Beane laughs or not. If he doesn't, then we may have a deal. Throw in something as equally useless as Heilman if you have to - say, Jason Philips. Yes, Omar, do that. Trade Philips and Heilman for Eric Byrnes. Then sign Delgado and Magglio. On the first day of the season, bring this list to Willie Randolph and tell him to tape it on the wall in the dugout under the sign "Today's Lineup".

Matsui - 2b
Reyes - ss
Ordonez - rf
Delgado - 1b
Piazza - c
Wright - 3b
Byrnes - cf
Valent/Diaz - lf
Martinez - p

When Cameron comes back, the hottest hitter of the Byrnes, Diaz, Valent troika gets the left field job. The others become very useful bench players. And, Omar, one more thing. Wrap up the Delgado thing this week sometime. I need a fix of off-season excitement for the holidays.

On another front, some reports are saying that Moises Alou is signing with the Giants. While this will thrill many Met fans, I'm not one of them. Alou is a very good hitter and the list of corner outfielders is dwindling daily. The Giants interest in Alou is somewhat vindicating, however. Brian Sabean is a great GM. If he wants Alou, then it's probably a good move to sign Alou. Met fans are funny. When evaluating a guy who hit 39 homers, drove in over 100 runs, and has a lifetime batting average of .300, they say he's old or that his home and away splits were overly skewed. Both of these are true, but why is this a poor reflection on Alou? He stays in great shape and he hits well at home. We can't have that on our club, can we. The last thing the Mets need is a veteran hitter in excellent shape who hits well in hitter's parks. Whew! Thank God we dodged that bullet. You know what? Hitting behind God (the player formerly known as Barry Bonds) in the SF lineup, Alou will have an awesome season.



What's Next?

2004-12-19T10:10:00.616-08:00

Omar has really created a buzz among Met fans about the next big move. If the papers are to be believed, Alou seems very close. I have always thought that this would be an excellent move IF it were just one in a series of moves to upgrade the team. Alou by himself makes little sense, but along with Delgado it is a great move. Moises is a very good hitter. I know his home and away splits last year showed a Wrigley boost to his numbers, but he is a lifetime .300 hitter who has good power. How many of these guys are there? On the Metropolitans he should go about .280, with a good OBP, and hit close to 30 HR's. Which, by the way, is about what Carlos Beltran would do to, only with a lower BA and OBP. Of course I'd rather have Beltran due to youth, defense, and base stealing, but the point is that in the short run Alou will be a good addition to the offense.

Delgado is the key. From the start of the off-season he has been the key. Simply put, Delgado is the best hitter available via free agency. By far. Not even close. He is a stud, lefty power hitter. On top of this, he posts eye-popping on base percentages, in the .400 range. The Mets are lucky that the market for him is not that great. They need to take advantage of this and steal him, now. Delgado plus Alou makes the offense very formidable.
If these two things happen - and indications are that they will - then Floyd probably has to be traded. This lineup just doesn't seem to work:

Matsui
Reyes
Alou
Delgado
Wright
Piazza
Floyd
Cameron

Am I right? It just doesn't seem balanced. I'd rather replace Floyd with a more athletic, speedy type like Randy Winn or Eric Byrnes. Valent might work in this lineup, too. Push Cameron up to 7th and put Valent 8th. That provides a little better speed/defense balance. It also allows Alou to play left and the more athletic outfielder to play right.

Now, if I were managing this team, the lineup would look like this:

Wright
Reyes
Alou
Delgado
Piazza
Valent
Cameron
Matsui

Or:

Matsui
Reyes
Wright
Delgado
Alou
Piazza
Cameron
Valent

This is a pretty good lineup no matter how you slice it. And, amazingly, it seems like these will be the players Willie Randolph will be working with. Bring it home, Omar. And, while you're at it, drop a dime on Billy Beane and see what a Zito is going for these days. Offer Zambrano or Trachsel, packaged with Milledge, Valent, and cash. You never know.






Pedro Ponderings

2004-12-14T16:44:27.280-08:00

Well, this is an interesting turn of events, isn't it? Even with the Mets' public overtures to the mercurial Dominican I never expected him to actually join the Metropolitans. But now that he has, every precint is being heard from. And much of what they are saying, as usual, makes no real sense. Let's take a look (with sanity added, courtesy of this blogger): Pedro is a shell of his former self and a bad gamble at this point - Are we likely to ever see the Pedro of 1999 again? No. But this hardly makes him washed up. The fact is that he has 50 wins and 17 losses over the past 3 years. He won't be 33 until next September. And guess who's aged 32 season most matches Pedro's historically? I'll give you a hint. He also played for the BoSox and just won the NL Cy Young Award.Pedro's labrum is 90% torn - Wow, so with a labrum 10% attached, Pedro dominated a great lineup in a World Series game a couple of months ago. And also threw in the mid-90's all game. Very impressive. This torn labrum myth is a great one. Guess what, fellow orthopedic surgeons? Your labrum is torn. My labrum is torn. Randy Johnson's labrum is most definitely torn. I love when idiots on the radio become medical doctors.The Red Sox didn't want him back - Three guaranteed years at 40 million dollars total doth not a rejection make. I'm not real intuitive about the subtle communication skills of baseball executives, but I'm guessing that a typical blow-off does not have that many zeroes in it. And, by the way, doesn't this offer also tell you a great deal about the torn labrum theory. Ya think that maybe the Red Sox medical staff knows a thing or two about this guy?The first year or two will be fine, then Petey will fall apart - Or maybe the second and fourth years will be great, and first and third not so great. Or maybe the first part of year two will be mediocre, and the middle part of year four will have some down spots, but he'll pitch great in June of year three. You get the picture. This type of prognostication has a name - it's called idiotic, uninformed nonsense. Nobody knows what will happen over the next four years, but the best guess based on something called data is that it will be pretty effective.The Pavano signing was better - On what planet do these two pitchers get to be mentioned in the same sentence? Before I mentioned that the most similar pitcher historically to Pedro in their aged 32 year was Roger Clemens. Pavano just finished his aged 28 year, and his most similar pitcher was also a Red Sock. Oil Can Boyd. Oil Can Boyd. Oil, friggin' Can, Boyd. And for their careers Pedro's best match is this guy named Koufax. Pavano's is this guy named Paul Byrd. The interesting debate is Kris Benson compared to Carl Pavano. When you get a chance, go to baseballreference.com and check out their careers. Virtually the same, slight edge to Benson.The Mets overpaid - Apart from the notion that all athletes are overpaid, let's just look at the market value. Well, actually we can't, because no pitcher in this market is comparable to Pedro. But, since the Mets offered the most, let's assume Martinez is overpaid. OK, we are the Mets and we have stunk for 3 seasons. We have to overpay. Hell, it works for everybody else. My experience is that it's not the superstars' contracts that are most heinous. It's the Steve Karsay type middling contracts that really suck.Pedro is a jerk who will make life difficult for Willie Randolph - Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Curt Schilling, Nomar Garciaparra, Jim Edmonds, Sammy Sosa, Armando Benitez, JD Drew, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Juan Gonzalez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Scott Rolen - All of these - and many others - have been accused of jerkiness [...]



Sexson Thoughts

2004-12-09T19:11:08.206-08:00

Over at Sabermets (use link on sidebar) is a very good article comparing Richie Sexson and Carlos Delgado. I, too, have been a strong advocate of Delgado over Sexson. He's simply been a much better offensive player. If you don't know it already, you will find that I invest very little importance in the nebulous concepts of:
1) Chemistry
2) Defense (in all sports, not just baseball, but especially baseball)

The idea of "chemistry" in team sports is a farce. Great teams can be riddled with division and tension. Lousy teams can get along wonderfully.

Don't even get me started on the concept of defense. True story - John Wooden is doing a basketball clinic for high school coaches. By show of hands he asks how many coaches spend more time on offense than defense. Not one hand shoots up. Then he asks how many spend more practice time on defense. Every hand hits the sky. Wooden shakes his head and admonishes the coaches, "Why would you spend more time practicing defense? Offense is so much harder to play." Well, I'm with the Wizard on this one. When the Mets say they are emphasizing defense, I interpret that as saying "We are going to be really cheap and sign some bad players." Pitching and defense DO NOT WIN baseball games. Pitching and offense do. Which team would you rather field?

Catcher Victor Martinez Mike Matheney
1b David Ortiz JT Snow
2b Alfonso Soriano Pokey Reese
3b Aramis Ramirez Bill Mueller
SS Derek Jeter Alex Gonzalez (the Marlin)
OF Manny Ramirez Mike Cameron
Hedeki Matsui Andruw Jones
Vlad Guerrero Darin Erstadt

Of course the team on the left is a team of very poor defensive players who mash. The team on the right is comprised of excellent defensive players. Which team would you choose to play a season with? Pretty easy, isn't it? Oh, and for those of you who think Vlad is a good defensive player, think again. He has a great arm, but he is an awful defensive outfielder. Not Matsui awful, but that would require a significant physical handicap. Matsui is probably the worst defensive outfielder in the game, much worse than Manny, who actually is not completely terrible out there. But I digress. My point is that offense is much more important than defense in sports, especially in baseball.

So what is the point of all of this defense bashing. Simply this. Those who prefer Sexson to Delgado typically tout his supposedly superior defense as well as Delgado's questionable clubhouse presence. As stated, I prefer Delgado, yet I am a straddling the fence a bit. I'm simply not sure if Delgado is a New York type of player. He seems very quiet and sensitive. And Sexson is a damned large target for the Mets young infielders to aim at - or more accurately perhaps, not aim at. So as you can see, my feet are firmly planted in mid-air on the Sexson/Delgado question. I can see the merits of either.

But whether the Mets sign Delgado or Sexson, they also need an outfield bopper. Magglio, Magglio, wherefore art thou Magglio?



The Week That Was

2004-12-04T22:19:03.450-08:00

Some inane musings on this past week: Notre Dame fires a football coach - Who cares? Let's all hope that the Irish never fire their coach during the same week as a presidential assassination, world war, or alien invasion. Then the media will have a difficult decision regarding their lead story. A mediocre college football program fires a coach with a mediocre record, and the media reacts with the same intensity as if, oh, I don't know, pigs were flying. Some baseball players are taking steroids - Shocking, stunning news. It seems that some sluggers have been taking performance enhancing drugs. And the really crazy thing is that Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi have been doing it. Who the hell saw this one coming? Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the literary device known as sarcasm. I know this will be grossly unpopular, but I really can't get too worked up about this story. On my list of baseball villains steroid users don't rank very high. Oh, really, you say? Then who does rank high on this list? I'm glad you asked: 1) Performance destroying drug users - Why are we angrier at the enhancers than the destroyers? I have much greater contempt for those who pissed away their talent on drugs that ruined their careers - Gooden, Strawberry, Howe, et. al., then for Barry and the 'Roid Heads ( which would be a great name for a rock band). At least the 'roiders are helping their teams. 2) Lazy Bastards - Memo to Nick Johnson, Edgardo Alfonzo, Shane Spencer, any catcher with the last name Gil, Karim Garcia, Randall Simon, and Dmitri Young; you are professional athletes. Hit the weight room, cut back on the carbs, and buy a treadmill. No professonal athletes should look as soft as you guys do. I'm a middle aged schmoe and I'm in better shape than these clowns. Again, the 'roid heads get the nod for at least having pride and helping their teams. 3) Roger Clemens - Did anyone else chuckle when they read about Roger being on the major league baseball tour of Japan? Mr. Family Man needed to be at home for his boys, and then he hightailed it to Japan as soon as the season ended. And also refer to number 2 on this guy as well. If I have to hear about his rigorous workout sessions one more time I'm gonna puke. He's fat. Yes he's big. Big and fat. The YES network did a special on his workout sessions a few years back. It was pretty tame, actually. Some free weights, some crunches, and some jogging. Not nearly the Navy Seal type workout that Clemens talks about ad nauseum. During this show a moment occurred which summed up Clemens perfectly. As he was driving to the gym his cell phone rang. He answered it with, "Rocket here." What type of middle-aged man answers his phone by referring to himself by his own nickname? Only the most self-important, pretentious clown on the planet. 4) Politicians who threaten to police baseball - Hey, Senator McCain, I voted for you this year as a write-in. Don't make me regret it. Americans are dying in Iraq. Half the world hates us. Job growth has slowed down. Medicare is too expensive. There are real issues to be dealt with. Stay out of the candy store and deal with important stuff. I love baseball. You love baseball. That doesn't make it important. 5) Nostalgic buffoons - You know these guys, the ones who lament the lack of talent today as compared to the good old days. The truth is that the players of today are vastly superior to the players of the past. Now, it's entirely possible that if the oldtimers had the same training advantages as today's players that they would be as good. But they weren't as good. Not even close. Take a lousy player of today, Joe McEwing will d[...]



Straw Stirring the Drink

2004-11-30T18:54:26.183-08:00

You probably know that Darryl Strawberry is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. You probably also know that Darryl Strawberry does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. What you may not know is how good a player he was. Some of you are probably too young to have seen him in all his raging glory - circa mid to late '80's. Others saw him play but now judge him through the haze of his drugging and lying, and his potential unreached. Let me remind you of the now hidden truth of the matter. Darryl Strawberry was a great player. He wasn't good. He wasn't very good. He was great, a true game-wrecker. Like many Met fans, I never was a huge fan of Straw's. I preferred the white hot intensity of Keith Hernandez to the cool frost of Darryl. But this does not diminish what Straw was; the greatest everyday player that the Mets ever had. OK, I'll wait for you to get back in your seat, assuming you tumbled out of it after that sacriligious sentence. The Straw Man the greatest position player in Mets' history? Yes, I believe he was. His competitors for this distinction are the aforementioned Mex and Mike Piazza. All would be worthy choices, and each has a strong case. The purpose of this article is not to glorify Strawberry at the expense of these two Met icons. What would be the fun of that? The true fun is in annoying Yankee fans by weilding the one weapon that they have little aquaintance with - the truth. You see, to paraphrase a certain cinematic legend, "They can't handle the truth." How could they, since they have never been exposed to it. Now I don't expect many - or any - Yankee fans to visit this site, so I am commissioning you to do the dirty work. That's right, sidle up to that sanctimonious Yankee fan that you work with and just as he is about to bring his coffee cup to his lips, casually say this simple sentence, "Darryl Strawberry was better than Don Mattingly." Make sure that you are out of spitting range when you say this, because I would expect that a torrent of piping hot java will come spraying out of your colleague's mouth. Oh, he'll huff and puff, and perhaps even suffer a mini-stroke. When he finally can put together a lucid thought he'll berate your baseball knowledge and try to have you institutionalized. That's when you'll ask him this series of questions: Who averaged more home runs per season? Who drove in more runs per season? Who scored more runs per season? Who had a higher on base percentage? Who had a higher slugging percentage? Who had a higher OPS? As he does a slow burn, give him the answers - Straw, Straw, Straw, Donnie, Straw, Straw. Then inform him that the one category that Mattingly won, on base percentage, he did so by a whopping .001 percentage point, .358 to .357. As for the other categories, Straw wins homers 34 to 20, RBI's 102 to 100, runs scored 92 to 91, slugging .505 to .471, and OPS .862 to .829. Granted, many of these categories are very close, but Straw played his prime in the National League in a pitcher's park. I would provide the league adjusted and park adjusted stats, but this is an argument best kept simple. And by the way, Straw could run and Donnie couldn't. Darryl stole 221 bags and Donnie stole 14. Believe me, your friend/co-worker won't go down easily. Remember, as a Yankee fan he is used to an alternative reality, courtesy of Sterling, Kaye, and Waldman, the three stooges of journalism. Here are the arguments he'll throw your way: 1) Donnie had a higher batting average. True, but who cares. The objective of the batter is to get on base and not make an out. Darryl did this better than Mattingly. Yes, Donni[...]



Beltran Buyers Beware

2004-11-27T20:30:56.970-08:00

Carlos Beltran is good. He is very good. He's just not as good as many pundits and talking heads say he is. Let's play a game called "Better or Worse than Carlos Beltran". It works this way. I provide a name and you quickly decide if that player is better or worse than Beltran. By the way, about the same is also an option. For each player, assume that he is in his prime as Beltran is now. Oh yeah, one more caveat. Forget intangibles and focus on quantifiable production. You know, things like on base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, and RBI's. 1) Willie Mays - See, I started it off easy. 2) Roger Cedeno - Again, we're just warming up. 3) Jim Edmonds - OK, now it's getting tougher. 4) Marquis Grissom 5) Andruw Jones 6) Trot Nixon 7) JD Drew 8) Moises Alou 9) Magglio Ordonez 10) Bernie Williams My guess is that the average baseball fan would have answers very close to this pattern: 1) better 2) worse 3) worse 4) worse 5) worse 6) worse 7) worse 8) worse 9) worse 10) worse Maybe I have put too much faith in the ability of the media to overhype a player, but I do believe that the typical fan - not you, of course - would answer in this way. Let's see how accurate these answers would be. Of course the first two are no brainers, with Mays being the better player and Cedeno the inferior player. The next 8 are trickier than you might think. In all honesty, I chose everyone except for Bernie Williams completely off the top of my head because I thought that their career averages would compare more favorably to Beltran's than most people would think. I had already run the numbers on Bernie a few weeks back, so I knew what to expect. The stats I used are OBP, Slg.%, HR, RBI, and Runs. Let's see how Beltran ranks among the 8 outfielders who fill out slots 3 through 10. The only adjusted numbers allowing for peak performance are for Grissom and Williams because they are older players whose numbers have slipped considerably. Alou is roughly the same age as they are, but he has maintained a high performance and his career numbers are used. OBP - Beltran ranks 7th out of 9. Only Grissom and Andruw Jones have lower OBP's than Beltran's .353. Slugging % - Beltran ranks 8th out of the 9. His .490 is only better than Grissom's prime adjusted .425. HR - The number I used here is out of a projected 162 games. Beltran does better here, coming in 6th out of 9 with an average of 27, better than Grissom, Bernie, and Nixon. RBI's - Again, out of a projected 162 games. Carlos does well here, coming in 3rd with an average of 104. Runs - Another strong showing from Beltran, as he leads the pack with 113 runs projected over 162 games. Now, let's make some kind of score out of this. Each player is assigned their rank in each of the 5 categories, so the best score possible is a 5, and the worst is a 45. There were several ties (for example, both JD Drew and Moises Alou have slugging percentages of .513) so the numbers will not compute exactly as you might think. Here is the ranking: 1) Jim Edmonds scores a 12. No surprise to me here. I fully expected him to win easily. He's the best player on the list not named Mays. 2) Bernie Williams scores a 17. As a Yankee hater, I've never been much of a Williams fan. It's easy to make fun of his ridiculously poor defense, but the guy was a big time producer for a long time. And if you want to argue that he was aided by the great Yankee lineups, be aware that he scored his best here in OBP and Slugging, the two categories most dependent on his own performance. 3) Magglio Ordonez scores an 18. A great hitter, Magglio won the RBI[...]



Maybe We'll Get Lucky, God Knows We've Got it Coming

2004-11-26T21:46:23.136-08:00

There are only so many teams that pursue big ticket free agents, and only so many positions for these blue chippers to play. Based on these facts, I think the Metsies might actually sign a productive player or two this off-season. We certainly need a bopper for the OF, so let's start there. Here are the candidates:

Beltran
Drew
Alou
Ordonez

Essentially a centerfielder, two corner guys, and a guy who can maybe play anywhere (Drew). What teams need, or think they need, a slugging OF, and can probably afford one? The list is not that long. The Yanks will probably go hard after Beltran. Great, let them have him. He's very good, but not nearly as good as many think. For no particular reason I could see Drew going to the Red Sox to play RF or the Angels to play CF. He would be a great fit in either place. Alou is the least attractive candidate to most teams, due mostly to age and reputation. He is coming off a great year, however, so he'll make some dough. The Giants seem like a good fit. Dad is the manager, Barry needs protection, and I guess Alou could play RF, although it probably won't be pretty. In that situation Moises will - if he stays healthy - tear it up. I would bat Barry second in the lineup and Alou third. If Moises can stay off the treadmill he'll put up 110 ribby's minimum. Now Ordonez is left, and who will court him. God, let it be the Metropolitans. He's the best pure hitter in the group and is still only 31 years of age. If any of this shakes down as theorized above, the Mets' competition for Magglio will be Baltimore, the Cubs, and maybe Texas. Assuming he shows well when he works out at the GM meetings, we've got to lock this guy up. Let the others compete for Beltran while we woo Magglio.
The other black hole in our lineup figures to be first base. I don't have a good feeling about this one. Delgado is the best available, in my mind a far better option than Sexon, but I don't see him as the type of guy who would consider NY as a home base. You might think this is insane, but signing Castilla and moving him to first would have been a good idea. Of course, a better idea is doing the same with Glaus, but I don't know if Glaus is up for this. My guess is we end up with the proverbial slick fielder, which, in Metsspeak, means low salaried. Let me be clear on one thing. I DO NOT WANT NICK JOHNSON. He is largely a media creation. That is one soft 26 year old. If the Mets do go cheap at first, I'd much rather have Doug Mentkeiwicz (I don't even concern myself with spelling his name right). Please forget any in-house solutions - Philips or Brazell. These guys are not the answer.
Here's where a Piazza deal makes some sense. The rumors include deals for Green and Erstad. Both would be good solutions at first, but then who catches. As Casey Stengel once said, without a catcher you'd have a lot of passed balls. I don't think that Vance Wilson is an everyday player, but neither are half the catchers in baseball. Maybe a combo of Wilson and the rookie, Hietpas, would be adequate. Notice no mention of Philips again. I'm really down on him. All in all, I think I'd rather have Piazz and try to find a first baseman without dealing Mike.




Welcome to Metropolitan's Musings

2004-11-25T21:49:32.706-08:00

What the hell, everyone is doing it. I figured I like the Mets as much as anybody, and I like to write about them, so here goes. Hopefully some of you will enjoy the site and I'll see how much of any worth I have to say. Let's start with a holiday wish. It is now Thanksgiving night and good timing for a Christmas (or Hanukkah) list. Here goes:
1) A slugging first baseman. To hell with the slick fielders (Mientkewiecz) or used-to-be's (Olerud), I want a truly feared slugger. My first choice is Delgado, followed by Sexon.
2) A slugging corner outfielder. Believe it or not, I can live without Beltran. Now, believe me, I can live with him also, but I would target Magglio Ordonez to play RF. He is a better hitter than Beltran - trust me, look it up - and will come cheaper, allowing wish number 1 to also come true.
3) Trade Floyd for middle relief. Forget Sosa, send Cliff packing along with some cash to offset his salary, and pick up a good arm or two for the bullpen. Scott Shields would be a good start.
4) With LF now open, pencil in Victor Diaz and let him hit. Everyday. All season. Some guys, very few mind you, but some guys just look like hitters and Diaz is one of them. I think .280 with 20 HR's and 80 RBI's is realistic.
5) Sign a good starting pitcher. I kind of like Clement because of his stuff - it's nasty.
6) Sit back and enjoy this lineup:
Wright 3b
Reyes SS
Ordonez RF
Delgado 1b
Piazza C
Diaz LF
Cameron CF
Matsui 2b

Yes, I know I'm the only one who has considered Wright for leadoff, but it makes all kinds of sense. Trust me.



A Critique of Pure Nonsense

2004-12-31T23:51:56.233-08:00

You all know that the Crankees seemed to have a deal in place for the Big Ugly. If the details of the trade are as reported, then it is actually a good baseball trade for both teams. Responses have been predictable, ranging from the “Yankees are destroying baseball by spending astronomical sums on their payroll” to “God bless George Steinbrenner for doing everything possible to make his team a winner.” Also predictable is the reaction of the media and “baseball people” who view all moves made by the Crankees as divinely inspired. Randy Johnson is awesome. That cannot be denied. Reporters and Crankee sycophants (is there a difference?) can shout it from the rooftops with no criticism from this little corner of Metropolitan land. Randy Johnson is a stone cold stud, an all-time great, and damned close to still the best pitcher in baseball. What then, you ask, has instigated what is sure to be an oncoming rant against injustices perpetuated against the Metropolitans? Simply this – the idea that Randy Johnson is more likely than Pedro Martinez to stay healthy over the next several years. This seems to be the conventional wisdom in the media: The Mets got bamboozled by a broken down pitcher on his last legs (or last labrum) and the Cranks went out and got a pitcher in the full bloom of health and well-being. Take today’s Newsday, for example. Two veteran major league scouts reveal their opinions on the RJ deal. Under the category of “Durability”, one of these sage gurus opines of the Big Ugly that “He’s more durable and stronger than Pedro.” Oh, really? And what is this based on? Well, based on actual data, this opinion must spring from a combination of the following foundations of logical thought: 1) Pure whimsy 2) Unadulterated nonsense 3) Hallucinogenic Drugs Aside from the obvious – Johnson is 41 and Pedro is 33 – let’s blow some holes in the gospel according to two anonymous scouts. And, as an aside, let me add this. Sometimes I deal with scouts. Overall they are typically uninformed dullards who possess very little baseball acumen. Read Moneyball, if you haven’t already. That’s a very accurate description of how scouts think (apologies to the word “think”). Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Over the past two years, here’s a look at the two shiny new acquisitions for Gotham’s two baseball clubs. Pitcher Games Started Innings ERA Record Randy Johnson 53 359 3.43 22 & 22 Pedro Martinez 62 403 3.05 30 & 13 Hmm. Yep, them thar scouts sure know their stuff. The much older guy who has been hurt much more over the past two years is far more durable than the younger pitcher who has been much healthier in recent years. Seems highly logical to me. I wonder what other pearls of wisdom dropped from the lips of these baseball prophets. Jose Reyes will play more games than Miguel Tejada? Joe McEwing will gather more hits than Ichiro? David Ortiz will steal more bases than Juan Pierre? These predictions all are about as logical as the ruminations on Randy and Pedro. We all know that the health of every pitcher is tenuous. Each pitcher is one thrown ball from career oblivion. But here’s a guarantee you can take to the bank. Pedro Martinez will start more games next season then Randy Johnson. Any logical analysis of the question woul[...]