Supporting mediocrity since 2001...
Spring Loose Ends
So we are almost their, the season is almost upon us. Is it just me, or does spring training seem a little too long? Maybe it is the anticipation of the season, but it is endless. Every minor story becomes a major story and it has gotten to the point where I have just stopped reading. Well maybe not stopped, but my enthusiasm has waned.
One story that has gotten some play is Willie's insistence on batting David Wright eighth. I've gotten into this before, and I don't want to repeat myself, but how many teams bat their second best hitter eighth? I want to give Willie every benefit of the doubt, but this is senseless. Maybe he is doing this to get the press' collective panties in a bunch, but if Wright is hitting before the pitcher next Monday, it is cause for concern and takes into question Willie's ability to evaluate talent. If he said he didn't want to put pressure on him because he is young, I wouldn't agree with it, but I would at least understand his rationale. However, since he has penciled Reyes in as the leadoff hitter even though he is younger and has had less success in the majors, that can't be the reason. I'd like for a Mets reporter to ask Willie this question, I would love to hear the answer.
In other news, Andres Galarraga retired as I'm sure you know by now. As a result, the consensus seems to be that Kerry Robinson has a spot on the team. I don't get it. The other four spots for the bench are earmarked for Cairo, Woodward, Valent and Castro. Was it really down to the Big Cat and Robinson? A slugging righty and a punchless fifth outfielder? Without Mike Cameron, Robinson has a purpose as the Mets would need someone else who could play center. Right now, their bench lacks any righthanded pop. Castro has some, but as the backup catcher teams are hesitant to throw them up in any situation. I don't like the fact that Luis Garcia, who hit his third homer of the spring today, didn't seem to get a legitimate shot at the job.
I am not saying Garcia should've gotten the job over Robinson, but you would think the Mets had a role they wanted to fill with the last bench spot. If they wanted another outfielder, take Robinson or Calloway. Another slugger, Galarraga or Garcia. Maybe I am reading too much into the press and it really wasn't between Galarrage or Robinson. Here is hoping that Garcia mashes in Norfolk, proving his stats in 2004 were not a product of Las Vegas and the PCL, and that Robinson turns out to be the useless player he has always been.
I'm getting tired of speaking in hypotheticals, bring on the games.
Ugh To Urbina
Mr. Gilkey raises a good point about the Mets talent evaluation. Are they delusional about how good their talent is, or are they just bad talent evaluators? I think it is a little of both and they have far too often fallen prey to the lure of the "proven commodity."
There is no better example of this then their supposed interest in Ugueth Urbina. Maybe this is not true, but if it is, it is a major red flag about how they run their team. Urbina comes with the "proven closer" label after some dominance in the late 90s and a great run for Florida in 2003, when he took the closers role from our own Braden Looper.
Have you looked at his stats? In 2004, he had a 4.50 ERA in 54 IP in the pitchers heaven that is Comerica Park. For his career, his ERA is 3.42 in 618 innings with 717 strikeouts and 268 walks. His K/9 is strong, but his K/BB is mediocre and with the exception of a couple of dominant stretches in 2002 and 1998, seven years ago(!), he has been extremely average. A 3.42 career ERA for a supposedly upper echelon reliever is an abomination.
Note to Mets: He does not provide an upgrade over anything they have in house and a trade for him would be a waste of resources. What does he have over Strickland or Bell other than that we have all heard of him? The thought of this trade makes me nauseous as the Tigers are supposedly asking for one or two prospects. It is same type of thing as the Ishii and Benson deals. The Mets continually fail to understand the concept of replacement-level talent.
Hopefully this is all smoke, but I fear there is fire there as well.
Fun with Leverage
My overall feelings about the deal were very similar to Wally’s at first there was some anger and frustration, and then that slowly subsided, because I realized this trade isn’t actually killing the Mets.
The trade does sound alarms about the overall long-term plan of the team. Those alarms ringing basically signifying “we have no long term plan, we don’t know what the f we are doing.”
My view of the goal of this season was to build respectability with a possible outside shot at the playoffs, but for me that would’ve been gravy. I will gladly take an 86 win season from this Mets team, especially if it meant that Wright, Reyes, Matsui were all healthy and growing as major leaguers, and Beltran continued to establish himself as a superstar. Lay the groundwork, wait for Petit, Milledge, Humber to join the party and in a year or two the Mets will be ready for a long run of good times.
This move clearly signifies a win now attitude from management. While this move isn’t particularly detrimental to the team (like say trading away the best young lefty prospect in baseball, but who would do that?). I believe Phillips to be more like the player of 2003 than 2004, but that’s my opinion and the Mets clearly felt otherwise. As a backup catcher Ramon Castro is not a significant downgrade from Phillips because there will only be so many at bats for a backup catcher.
However, where I believe this really hurts the Mets is the 2006 season and beyond. With Piazza’s contract expiring and the Mets organization dry at MLB ready catching prospects (thanks Kris Benson!) the Mets are going to be stuck with Ramon Castro as their starting catcher as they are supposed to start their run of dominance.
Phillips could have at least bought them a season and played a league average catcher while they either waited for a prospect to develop or better ones to hit the market (I think Ramon Hernandez is the big name on FA catcher list for next year).
Regardless, holding onto Phillips whether or not they planned on using him, gives the Mets leverage in solving their long term catching situation. This “leverage” term is clearly something that Omar is still struggling to grasp. Additionally, Phillips makes peanuts, and it is invaluable to have a few good starters who make nothing.
While the immediate downsides of this trade are minimal, and hey, I guess it’s possible that Ishii reverts back to form (I’m not holding my breath) it signals that the new management still doesn’t get it. They are still stuck in this indecisive limbo position of waiting or deciding to go for it, and as a result will ensure themselves a long run of expensive mediocrity.
One last note, Similar to last year’s deals, this deal makes me question the Met’s organizations ability to realistically, and objectively judge the talent on this team. As a fan it is easy to overrate or be overly optimistic about players that you have a certain affinity for. As a fan it’s expected, except for those of a few teams, that you approach every season with optimism and excitement. As a GM or Owner it is simply unacceptable to approach players or expected team performance with anything other than objective analysis. So sadly, and I don’t know which is more sad, either they don’t realize this or their objective analysis is just really poor.
What Is Better Than One Guy Named Kaz? (Answer At Bottom)
It seems as though most of blogging community is split on whether the Jason Phillips for Kaz Ishii trade is a good one so I figured I would weigh in on the subject.
My first instinct was that this was a terrible trade. After further deliberation I am not so sure it is terrible, but I am not a fan. I can understand why the Mets were not too pumped about putting Matt Ginter in the starting rotation because he is not a known quantity, but Kaz Ishii is not a reasonable upgrade.
I look at the trade and I see two teams with a need. The Mets felt they needed another starter and the Dodgers felt the needed a catcher. Phillips provides the Dodgers with a legitimate upgrade over David Ross and Paul Bako, while Ishii does not provide the same type of upgrade for the Mets. I am not opposed to trading Phillips because 2004 notwithstanding, he is one of the stronger back-up catchers and better than a number of starters in the league; however, Kaz Ishii is an erratic starter with questionable command whose numbers have not been great in one of the best pitchers parks in the league.
Maybe Rick Peterson can “fix him in 10 minutes” like he has with Victor Zambrano. If both of these guys post sub-4.00 ERAs, build him his plaque in Cooperstown now. The Dodgers were also looking to get rid of Ishii as reports indicated that manager Jim Tracy was tired of his endless innings and he was included in the first proposed Randy Johnson deal. In fact, it was supposedly the Dodgers who proposed the Phillips trade.
Trachsel’s BP Projections
In the comments section on my last post, Bernard wanted to know if Trachsel had outperformed his PECOTA projections the last few years, which I’m guessing is Bernard’s way of asking if Trachsel may have some inherent quality that PECOTA cannot measure.
In 2003, his 50% projection was a 4.24 ERA with a 40% chance improvement in 155 innings and he put up 3.78 ERA in 205 innings, greatly exceeding his projection, particularly in terms of innings pitched. In 2004 his 50% projection was a 4.50 ERA in 147 innings and he had a 4.00 ERA in 2003 innings. As it says in BP, the PECOTA projections tend to be conservative but Trachsel has outperformed his innings projection by a ton in both years and his ERA as well, but to a lesser extent. Whether this indicates a special ability on his part, I don’t know.
Petit Is The Man
As if I didn’t have reason enough to love Yusmeiro Petit, I just got MVP Baseball for Playstation 2 which, on Franchise, Mode allows you to play with a team and you can play with their minor league all the way down to High Class A. I am early in the 2005 season with the Mets and I decided to play a game with Norfolk where they had placed Petit and Lastings Milledge. In my one game against Columbus, I pitched a perfect game with Petit. It was one of the greatest video game performances of my life, up there with 600 yard game I had with Bo Jackson in Super Tecmo Bowl. Although he only had six strikeouts, I think they had one hard hit ball all night. I may have to bring him up sooner than the Mets intended. If you have the game, Petit is known as T. Tucker and Milledge is known as B. Tyner. Fortunately, it isn’t J. Tyner.Answer:
If your response to title question was “Two guys named Kaz!” You were right. The Mets have now set the record for most guys named Kaz. This note is soon to be appearing in a Jayson Stark column, but you heard it here first.
So Long Super Joe
Well, Omar must’ve finally read Metsmerized because Joe McEwing was cut. I have probably spent more time on this blog ripping McEwing than anything else. It isn’t personal, because he would be on the short list of current Mets I’d like to have a beer with. I guess he is no longer a current Met, but you get my point. In fact, I’ll take this chance to make a list of the Top 5 Mets of all-time I’d like to have a beer with. Feel free to enter your own in the comments section.
5. Eric Valent-Have to give some love to my current favorite Met.
4. Pedro Martinez-He is new, but is there any doubt he would be hysterical?
3. Kevin Mitchell-Just so I could pick a fight and watch him run the show. I wouldn’t bring a cat though
2.Karim Garcia-It would be the same night Pedro and I were drinking. The two of them together would ensure some good Pedro one-liners.
1. Wally Backman-I’ve heard some stories of him as a minor league manager (and as a player), apparently he would out drink his players, once holding up the team bus for three hours while everyone sat on the bus waiting. That, coupled with him being my favorite Met ever made him an easy choice for the top spot.
But I digress. McEwing is a sucky major leaguer, and Chris Woodward does everything he does, but does it better. Tony LaRussa is obsessed with McEwing so he will probably end up there. As we all know, LaRussa is clueless when it comes to filling out his bench. If you want evidence, remember that he used Marlon Anderson as his DH in the World Series last October.
At one point, McEwing was useful for a few weeks, like when he came up in 1999 with the Cardinals and played every position, hit .300 for a while and was on every Smallworld baseball team in the country. Those who played Smallworld, you know what I’m talking about. So long Joe, I won’t miss you. At least on the field.
As for the Steve Trachsel debate, we may have to agree to disagree, but I will offer one more piece of evidence. While I don’t think it is gospel, I do find the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA forecasting system fascinating. PECOTA agrees with my assessment that Trachsel is a pitcher due for a fall. It has him pegged for 4.74 ERA in 152 IP and a VORP of 9.7. It has Ginter pegged for a 4.57 ERA in 90 IP with a VORP of 7.2. Ginter will obviously have more opportunity than this now so that would certainly change the looks of his projection. Can he throw 200 league average innings? I doubt it. Can he throw 150 league average innings? I think so.
If you subtract his one relief appearance, and his two awful appearances against the Yankees (maybe this isn’t fair, but the Mets do not regularly face a lineup as good as theirs) he threw 60.2 innings in 12 starts. That is an average of slightly more than 5 innings per start, not great; however, his ERA in those starts was 3.56. While I do not think he is capable of upping his innings per start and maintaining that ERA, it is realistic to think he can add an inning per start and keep his ERA in the low 4.00s, which is what we would be getting from Trachsel.
For all the talk about the Mets pitching, it has been their offense that has really been their shortcoming the last few years. In the last three years, they have finished 26th, 28th and 24th in runs scored in the majors. Upgrading their offense is really what the Mets needed and they should be a lot better there. Maintaining their runs allowed and adding 50 runs should make the Mets a winning team.
I digress again. I’d rather have Trachsel, but the difference between him and Ginter is not much.
I am less optimistic than Wally about what this Trachsel injury does to the Mets season. This is strange, because usually I am blindly optimistic while Wally tends to be the realist.
The first point I want to address is Trachsel's anti-pedro K/9 ration. While yes, last year it was 5.20 which is not very good, It was actually an improvement from the 4.86 he posted in 2003, and only a slight decline from his 5.44 in 2002. Nothing is pointing to an immediate or really any decline in Trachsel's numbers. He has been getting by on smoke and mirrors, but he has been getting by on smoke and mirrors for a long enough period that maybe he is just really good at using his smoke and mirrors. Christ, I know i would grow impatient waiting for him to throw the damn ball. Trachsel has established himself for a long enough period that one should follow his considerable service time numbers and say "well maybe this guy doesn't need k's" rather then assuming he's been getting by on luck the last three years.
That being said, I think in terms of ERA or RA(for you wally) Ginter will be a suitable replacement for Trachsel. The real area where this kills the Mets is that Trachsel was a lock for 200 innings, whereas Ginter barely could go 5 per start last year. He is going to be a phenomenal drain on the bullpen. Additionaly, It would have been really nice to spot start Ginter every few weeks to give Pedro an extra day off.
Here is hoping Koo will have some effect on Jae Seo. Maybe Seo will listen to him or maybe even the pitching coach for a change!
On a sad note, and I'm sure this is an especially trying day for Wally and David Wright, It appears as though the Mets have finally given Super Joe his walking papers. Wow. To lose two consistent performers like Joe and Trachs in a week is rough. Welcome 2005, the year of the Amazin' Unpredictables.
Maybe I am being too optimistic, but the loss of Trachsel may not be as bad as we first thought. Yes, as I outlined he has been excellent over the last three years, but when you look at his age, his "stuff" and his peripherals, he looks like a good candidate to start getting hit pretty hard one of these years. In fact, it is impressive his ERA has been as good as it has been considering his peripherals over the last few years.
Last year, he struck out 117 and walked 83 in 203 IP, not exactly Pedro-esque. While he has never been a great strikeout pitcher (his career K/9 is 6.06), the 5.20 figure from 2004 is cause for alarm. On top of that, Trachsel allowed 14 unearned runs, which is a lot and makes his ERA look a lot better than it is. Anyone who has read this blog knows how I feel about errors and the quick version of that is there is no difference between an error and not getting to a ball you could've. If it were up to we, RA would be the accepted stat and not ERA. A lot of unearned runs will often mask a pitchers shortcomings, and I think this was the case for Trachsel. The point here is that Matt Ginter is a decent bet to be about as good as Trachsel in 2005 when you figure that as a 27-year-old, he is more likely to have his best seasons than the 34-year-old Trachsel.
This could be wishful thinking, but the bigger concern as I see it now is Victor Zambrano. While I try not to read too much into spring performance, he has thus far been extremely hittable. While my proposed Barry Zito for Mike Cameron swap from yesterday might not be ideal, I still see Cammy as the Mets most valuable trade commodity. Miguel Cairo alone won't get it done and Cameron could potentially net a good starter. I am not saying the Mets should be in a rush to do this, but if push comes to shove, he is the one expendable player they have that other teams might want. Using him for Ugueth Urbina as some reports have suggested makes me shudder. Urbina is overrated based on name recognition, but that is a column for
Just a Teenage Dirtbag?
With all the babies on the Oakland staff I just can't see them trading Zito, who is at least a dependable innings eater(214, 229, 231, 213, jeez!) unless they are well out of the race. If they are out of the race, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for them to trade for someone with Cameron's age or contract.
Also, I think one of the more fascinating story lines going into this year for the Mets involves Cameron. Personally, I am curious to see what an outfield made up of two elite defensive centerfielders can do together. Gone are the days of Roger Cedeno circling aimlessly at pop-ups, Welcome the days of Cliff floyd sitting in a beach chair while Beltran and Cameron have daily contests of who can get to more balls. Yet I digress,
The trade Wally proposes essentially involves the Mets giving up Cameron and Ginter for V. Diaz and Zito. There are a number of things that need to be looked at when discussing this trade. The first being, How good is Zito? Opinions vary, clearly he is not the Cy Young pitcher he once was, but on the flip side he is probably better than the 4.48 era he put up last year. His peripherals, except for HRA, were actually better last year and it seems as though he suffered from some bad luck of balls dropping in. In my estimation, Zito is a dependable lefty who is slightly better than league average.
Ginter is clearly not as a good as Zito, but did post a respectable 4.54 era in 69 innings for the mets last year(sources say Ginter added a change over the winter and it is proving to be somewhat effective this spring). Ginter doesn't walk a lot of people and relies on his fielders to make plays behind him. Incidentaly, Zito's K rate isn't that good either and he also relies on his fielders to make plays.
Bringing me to my point. Since Diaz has no true position, It's hard to imagine that his left field could hold a candle to the (likely) awesome left field that Cammy will provide. Since neither are huge K guys, It might very well be that Ginter with a Cameron assisted outfield is a more effective pitcher than Zito with a Diaz assisted one.
This is a similar argument that some have made about the yankees off-season pitching acquisitions. That instead of spending tons of money on new "front line" starters they could've addded Beltran and some scrubs and the Yankee runs allowed would have been the same, plus they would be adding Beltran's bat.
Since we are talking about potential deals...and the yankees.... I like what I see from Woodward this spring, and considering his age and experience I think he will be a great backup middle infielder. This signing makes Cairo somewhat expendable. I'm guessing in a few weeks, The Yankees will grow tired of seeing Womack a) getting thrown out stealing second b) not getting on base in the first place c)muffing balls at second, and will yearn for the days of Cairo. In return for returning their savior they throw us a cheap lefty that's never cracking their rotation anyway, Alex Graman. Everyone is happy... except for Cairo's ex-agent that is.
Trachsel Is A Dirtbag, Seriously
The whole Trachsel thing is extremely unfortunate, particularly now that he looks like he is out for the season. Bernard is right, since 2002 he has been pretty fantastic with an ERA of 3.73. For comparisons sake, Mike Mussina's is 3.96 during that time. I know the AL has the DH, which hurts your ERA, but the two have been quite similar and at $5 million a year, Trachsel has been a bargain. It is somewhat amazing that he is able to have done this due to unimpressive strikeout (5.16 K/9) and walk (3.36 BB/9) rates. We can wax poetically about the glory years of our favorite Dirtbag (he went to Long Beach St., "The Dirtbags"), or we can figure out an alternative.
After this season, Trachsel's contract is up. If he is out for the season, his days at Shea may be over. Matt Ginter is a marginal alternative, so if the Mets think they are contenders, a trade is in order. As far as minor league depth, the Mets have little to offer and it is not worth trading one of their big four (Petit, Milledge, Humber and Hernandez) for a mediocre starter. As I see it, they have two options. One is squeezing as much as they can out of Ginter and hope that Petit dominates Double-A and bringing him up. The logic here is that Petit will probably see the majors at some point this season (most likely September), so a couple of months earlier won't be too bad. Heck, it worked for David Wright. I just don't like the idea of relying on Petit at this point and the Mets should bring him along slowly.
There has been a lot of talk about the Mets trading Mike Cameron because he was unhappy but now he says he wants to stay. As I see it, he may know be the Mets most valuable commodity in a trade. Here is what I propose. Let Ginter start the season in the rotation and see how he does with Cameron in right and Diaz in Norfolk playing every day. If Ginter is fine, roll with it. If not, put Cammy on the block and plan to slot Diaz into right upon trading Cammy. Cameron is reasonably priced and could net a solid starter. There has been talk about the Mets reuniting Barry Zito with Rick Peterson and the A's were interested in Killer Cam, with Zito a free agent after 2005 and the A's guaranteed not to re-sign him, doesn't this make sense? The Mets could then ride Zito for a season, see how he does and then re-sign him or net a first round pick when he leaves as an FA. I hate to get into the habit of hypothetical trades, but this makes too much sense. No?
Let Me Introduce Myself
With slightly less fan-fare, yet shockingly more literaracy, than Scoop Jackson on Page 2, Bernard Gilkey (a rare 3rd person reference) announces the second stage of his career for the Mets.
The past couple years for me have just kind of rolled by in drunken haze. Getting that call from Wally was like finding out that 1996 did in fact happen, and that they had not been confusing me with Ray Lankford as many had thought.
Some quick things about me:
1) I don’t like Joe Morgan. In fact, I had a previously failed blogging career last October at Joemorganfactcheck.blogspot.com. If anyone is interested in partnering or purchasing send me a note.
2) 1996 did happen
3) I believe that as bad as the Mets have been/are, it is still infinitely better than being a K.C., Pitt, Detroit, or Yankee fan.
4) I’m pretty uninteresting… so that’s about it about me.
Onto some baseball…
This Trachsel thing is just devastating for the Mets. The PR machine that runs the Mets have been billing Trachsel, even before the injury, as the 4th or 5th starter on this Mets team. While this might be the case if you were to rank the Mets pitchers in terms of potential upside (I would go Pedro, Zambrano, Benson, Glavine, Trachsel), this is not the case in reality and/ or actual performance.
Trachsel over the last 3-4 years has arguably been the best pitcher in New York, and this includes that other AL team. He is not flashy and he is not winning any awards but Trachsel has been consistently effective for a long time. Consistent, unfortunately is not the word to describe the rest of the Mets staff, Pedro excluded.
Glavine is aging, his strikeout rate is declining and the chance of him putting in a full season of #2 quality is nil. Benson because of his #1 overall status and his hot wife makes people forget that he has never been good enough to be at the top of a rotation. Zambrano has shown the ability to be dominant and at times is unhittable; unfortunately half the time that he is “unhittable” it is because he is hitting the backstop or the dugout. Maybe Peterson should spend $100 at lens crafters for Zambrano instead of the thousands at his high performance institutes?
Excluding Pedro from this discussion, Trachsel is by far the most consistent and effective performer on this Mets staff. In reality the Mets are not losing their #5 starter, but one of the very few guarantees on this team the last couple years.
The Trachsel loss is especially painful for the Mets, because even though they don’t need a 5th starter for a couple of weeks because of the early off days, every extra day off for Pedro is huge.
As Wally mentioned, throwing Humber on a Major League roster before he has thrown a professional pitch in his career is a mistake even beyond the idiocy of Mets management. I could see Petit getting a call after the break, if he is again dominant in the minors, but that help is months away at best.
As for mixing up the rotation in different ways… I would think that it would still be beneficial to have your best pitchers pitch as many times as possible. Also, you would have to redefine who is a #1, the guy who is most effective? The guy who eats the most innings? The guys who does the best combination of both? Anyone feel like doing some math?
Off The Trach
Metsmerized was about to enter a new era, but my boy Bernard Gilkey has been under the weather and unable to post just yet, so I figured I’d pick up the slack. Trust me though, when he comes back he’ll be performing like it was 1996.
So Trachsel might be out for a while. This is terrible news. Sure he isn’t a star, but he is anz “innings eater” in the truest sense of the word. Over the last three years, he has been extremely reliable and as far as third or fourth starters go, you could do a whole lot worse. All of the options to replace him range from awful to terrible. Some people are throwing out Philip Humber and Yusmeiro Petit as suggestions, I cannot endorse this. As talented as they might seem, there is a big difference between the Phillies lineup and TCU, let alone the Asheville Tourists. Being able to dominate at college and Class A ball is one thing, the majors is a different animal and it would unfair to these guys to put them in that position.
Of those available, I see Matt Ginter as the best available option. Neither his ERA or peripherals were great last year, but Francisco Campos does not instill confidence in me. He is unknown, so that is intriguing, but if he were really good, people would know who he was.
While they won’t do this, I was thinking that it would be interesting if the Mets applied a less conventional pitching rotation during this period, or for the whole season for that matter. In a recent chat, Rob Neyer suggested instead of throwing your starters in order from best to worst, it might be better to do 1-5-2-4-3, because theoretically, it would maximize your bullpen rest. For example, you need your bullpen the least when your #1 guy pitches, so they will be rested for #5, then, you won’t need them as much for #2 etc. For all the stink people make about batting order, the pitching order might be more important and I would love to see a study on it done by someone smarter and more importantly, more patient that me.
Things Done Changed
As I’m sure some of you may have noticed, I have been writing with a lot less frequency of late. Part of it is a new job that has kept me busy, but for the most part I feel as though I have been lacking inspiration. In hopes of beefing up to content and creating more of a debate atmosphere, I have invited loyal reader Bernard Gilkey to join me as a writer on the site. Our hope is to create a PTI-type feel on Metsmerized where we can have a good back and forth discussing Mets’ issues. I hope you welcome him with Journey-esque open arms.
On that note, I will bring up a note that Bernard pointed out to me this morning. In the notes towards the bottom of this article
, Willie Randolph says that he is not sure where David Wright will bat this year, but he sees him possibly fitting into the eighth slot. While he hasn’t done it yet, I hope Willie reconsiders and realizes this is an awful idea. There are numerous theories about the importance of lineup construction and some say it doesn’t matter all that much. I tend to think its importance is overstated; however, I do believe that it is in your best interest to get your best OBP guys towards the top, insuring that you will maximize the number of time through the lineup. The standard construction most teams use is pretty effective, and within the standard construction David Wright should be hitting third or fourth considering he is the second best hitter on the behind Carlos Beltran. Piazza might still be better, but I don’t think so.
The only justification I can think of is that Willie doesn’t want to put a lot of pressure on the kid by hitting him in the middle of the lineup. If that theory were true, it would lead me to believe that Willie was unaware of what Wright did in the second half of last season. The guy proved he can do it in the majors and he should be slotted into the lineup accordingly. Furthermore, if anyone needs pressure off of them, it is Jose Reyes who has not proven he can consistently perform at this level, yet he is unquestionably considered the leadoff man.
As for today’s game, Chris Woodward went 3 for 3, strengthening his case for the utility job as he is now hitting .350 for the spring. I thought he was the best man for the job from the start, so I am glad to see he is making it clear he is the man…My boy Luis Garcia hit his second bomb of the spring and hopefully he is making an impression…Ambiorix Concepcion continues to get a shocking amount of playing time with the big league club. While I can’t imagine he would make the team, it leads me to believe the Mets have high hopes of him advancing quickly this season. I’m very curious as to where he will start out and how they treat him. Hopefully he picks up some plate discipline along the way, because he has tools and after seeing him in Brooklyn last year, he is fun to watch.
Random Mets Thoughts And Such
For those of us on the Heath Bell bandwagon it has been an excellent week. Bell has thus far allowed no runs in five innings while fanning four and allowing only two baserunners. It is obviously early on, but he is making a strong case for the bullpen. That is obviously more than can be said for Aaron Heilman, who is doing absolutely nothing to help his case, unless his case is to be mentioned in the same breath as Bill Pulsipher and David West. I haven’t seen him pitch, but there is nothing positive you can take from six earned runs in three innings and three home runs allowed.
As for my personal fave for the spring, Luis Garcia has homered in five at-bats with nothing else to show for his chances at the plate. Galarraga also has homered and will most likely make the team for some reason, and I’m guessing that veteran leadership will have something to do with it. After six weeks when Garcia is mashing at Norfolk and Galarraga is doing nothing, the Mets will realize that a 27-year-old who destroyed the PCL is better than a 58-year-old who has been in and out of baseball over the last four years.
On a similar note, the Mets seem to be determining their fifth outfielder based on their performance this spring. Kerry Robinson appears to be the front-runner based on his .400 batting average. Do you think Willie and Omar sit in an office and say, “Kerry Robinson really is a .400 hitter!” Here is my question, if they really think he is good, why wouldn’t he be starting? He would be their best player. I have a decent idea of what he will do, and it is roughly close to his career line of .267/.305/.338. Then again, his competition is Ron Calloway whose career line is .224/.268/.344. How did the Mets end up in this postion where these were there two options for a roster spot? I cannot believe I am saying this, but McEwing would be a better choice than these two because he can put up the same crappy numbers and play a bunch more positions. There had to be a better option out there somewhere.
In the other good news department, Kaz Matsui seems to be adjusting well to second base; however, I cannot imagine he is too happy about it. Last season, the Mets moved their prize prospect off of his position to accommodate Kaz, and now they are making him switch. One would have to think that this is not what he imagined when he signed in the US.
WARNING: HYPOTHETICAL TRADE ABOUT TO BE PROPOSED
So, here is what I have in mind and yes, I am being a hypocrite because I hate when fans come up with hypothetical trades, at least on sports radio. Kaz to the Mariners for Bret Boone. The Mariners are in the midst of an overhaul and would love to rid themselves of a steroid creation (at least according to Jose) who makes a lot of money. More importantly, the Mariners would have Kaz and ICHIRO!, which would be fantastic for marketing purposes. They could put Kaz at short and move Pokey Reese over to second. Kaz would help provide some good PR while the Mariners rebuild a bit over the next couple of years. Boone would provide the Mets with a natural second baseman who, despite being on the downside of his career, would put up numbers better than Kaz. I am not saying I would do this, but it makes sense in a lot of ways. If you think I am being outrageous, I apologize because I might be. Other thoughts…
The Mets signed Brian Daubach to a minor league deal, I have no idea what this does.
Who Are You Luis Garcia?
So, although it has not yet been posted on their website, Baseball America’s top 100 prospects are all over the internet. It has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere and I have gone into it a lot as well so I won’t now. Milledge at #11 is not surprising considering his tools and Petit at #46 is because of his lack of them. What was interesting was to see Philip Humber at #50 despite never pitching a professional game; however, his repertoire was too good to pass up. What was also noteworthy was that Jeff Niemann, drafted after Humber (his Rice teammate), ranked #20. From all reports, Niemann just has nastier stuff and was taken behind Humber because he was deemed to be tougher to sign. In his favor, Humber has a splitter (which Niemann doesn’t have) and has less of an injury history.
As for the big club, they kick off their exhibition season tomorrow against the Nationals and I’m sure very Mets fan is eagerly awaiting seeing Beltran in a Mets uniform. Unfortunately, Glavine will be starting so we will have to wait a little longer to see Pedro. The season is upon us, hallelujah.
As for what to look for this spring, the first thing I am looking for is to see Jose Reyes not pull up lame like last season. In the process, I would like to see him work the count and show some patience. I wouldn’t mine seeing him get some seasoning at Norfolk, but that is not going to happen so we can only hope he develops his batting eye in the bigs, not an easy feat. Willie R. was quoted in the paper recently as saying how he wants to see more patience and walks from Reyes and Matsui which is encouraging because it means Randolph will be on top of them for it. As I’ve noted before, Willie was a great OBP guy in his career and hopefully it will be a skill he continue to stress, particularly with the guys who need it most.
Another guy who I am interested to see is Luis Garcia. An NRI, Garcia is a righthanded hitting minor league masher. He was .314/.354/.584 with 32 HR at Las Vegas last season, Triple-A in the Dodgers system. He is 26, so he is not a prospect but if the Mets are talking about Andres Galarraga on the 25-man roster, this guy strikes me as a potentially better option for a Minky platoon. I’m guessing Galarraga will get a shot and Garcia will go to Norfolk, if the Big Cat falters, we will see what Garcia can do. I’m curious to see what Garcia is all about.
Obviously, it will also be exciting to see what Yusmeiro Petit can do in his few appearances and how the bullpen sorts out. Here’s hoping Heath Bell pitches well in spring.
The inspiration for posts have not been frequent of late and has lead to some silence on Metsmerized. Luckily, Baseball Prospectus released its list of their top 50 prospects and John Sickels did a list of the top 20 Mets prospects.For the BP list, they did not give commentary on the list so it was hard to gauge their reasoning. Obviously, we know they value skills and numbers over tools, but the list left me with a lot of questions. For example, they rated Matt Cain behind Jered Weaver even though Cain has dominated at High A, pitched well at Double-A and is younger! This makes no sense to me. If you were going by tools, you could make the argument if you thought Weaver had better stuff, but Cain has already put up numbers in professional baseball. From reading the BP prospect roundtables, they seemed to be all over the place in determining the list and not as consistent as past years. I would like to know if they do a vote, or if it is a consensus or if one person takes the commentary and makes the list.As a Mets fan, the on thing that jumps out at you is Kazmir is ranked one spot ahead of Yusmeiro Petit. As I commented in an earlier post, it would be interesting to see how BP rated Petit and Milledge as opposed to Baseball America where Milledge was #1 and Petit #2. As I hypothesized, they had Petit ahead of Milledge but I was pleased to see Milledge at #19. Although Milledge has a rep as toolsy guy, he did have an enormous year in 2004, too big for BP to ignore. Although Delmon Young is #2, the difference between him and Milledge is not that large. In fact, you could argue that Milledge has a higher ceiling because he has speed and is a better fielder. Right now, Milledge is comparable to a guy like Rocco Baldelli due to his lack of plate discipline. Obviously, Baldelli would be nice, but if he can work on the walk rate, he could become closer to Carlos Beltran. His future will be exciting to follow.Similarly, it is nice to see Petit get some love from BP but it isn’t surprising. This is a huge year for him and if he succeeds at Double-A, he will be on the fast track to Flushing while silencing critics who say he lacks “stuff.”Only one Yankee, Eric Duncan, made the list and I was surprised to see him at #13 right ahead of Kaz and Petit. His line of .254/.366.462 in the Florida State League is not that impressive, but the walk rate is impressive and that must’ve been what clinched it for him; however, his line of .260/.351/.479 in the first part of the year at Low A is nothing special either, Milledge’s were far more impressive but Duncan walks a lot more.As for Sickels, he has Petit and Humber rated ahead of Milledge, which is surprising and somewhat curious. Sickels does not speak too highly of either though, giving Petit a B+ and saying he thinks he is the #21 pitching prospect. His criticism of Petit and Milledge are what you would expect and what I have outlined before, but apparently he sees their shortcoming as larger obstacles than most.On the plus side, he speaks glowingly of Gaby Fernandez and from what I’ve read, I have become very excited about this guy. He is a ways off but another guy worth following. I enjoy tracking the Mets farm system and was so dismayed when they made the “Black Friday” trades and a big reason was because I had enjoyed following those guys. On a side note, I saw the Justin huber is now being moved to first base primarily thereby diminishing his value and making that trade a little easier to swallow.Looking at the Sickels’ list, it is apparent the Mets system lacks depth but is top heavy, particularly in the pitching department. The assessments in B[...]
In The Papers
While things are a little slow as spring training is yet to get into full swing, the Sunday papers treated us to some excellent Mets content.The New York Times gave us the first feature I have seen yet on Yusmeiro Petit. He is really an intriguing prospect who is a source of disagreement between scouts and performance analysts. It has been well documented, and is discussed in this article, that Petit does not throw very hard. For the most part, his fastball operates in the high-80s, usually not enough for a righty to be considered an elite prospect. Then again, you cannot argue with results. In the Florida State League (a known pitchers league, granted) he had 62 K in 44 IP and a 1.22 ERA, this was after dominating the Sally League for half a season and earning an invitation to the futures game.The most interesting tidbit from the article is from catcher Joe Hietpas:In the two games Petit pitched for Binghamton last season, catcher Joe Hietpas watched a string of opposing batters whiff on 88-m.p.h. fastballs. Puzzled, Hietpas started to quiz the batters on how hard they thought Petit was throwing. "Everyone guessed 95 miles per hour," he said. "I can't explain what he does out there, but guys cannot pick up the ball. They're completely deceived."Maybe Petit has an inherent ability that is hard to quantify. Maybe he is fat, so is Bartolo Colon. Maybe he doesn’t throw hard, neither does Greg Maddux or Tim Hudson. I’m not saying he is going to be as good as these guys, but there are exceptions to every rule and just because he is a chunky soft tossing righty doesn’t mean he can’t be a stud. Until he starts getting hit, I am not going to doubt him. He has given no reason for anyone to doubt him yet. Binghamton will obviously be a major test and will go a long way towards silencing the critics.The Daily News gave us a nice feature on David Wright, one of what will probably be many over the next decade. There is really nothing bad you can say about this guy. In fact, he is almost too good to be true. Maybe when he becomes a little more recognizable he may not be as accommodating as he has been thus far, but he has been unbelievably gracious and humble as he deals with the outsized expectations of NYC. The acquisitions of Beltran and Pedro should be most beneficial for Wright because he will not be the focus of attention he would’ve been without these signings. The only bad thing I’ve heard about him is that apparently he is a George W. Bush fan, but maybe you like our president so if you do, Wright is perfect. If he is smart, he may want to keep that quiet in this city as it might hurt his stardom a little bit.Newday provided us some continuing coverage of the Willie “Stalin” Randolph team rules controversy. The one that has drawn the most attention is the no facial hair rule except for moustaches. What I think is hypocritical about that is that Randolph happens to have a moustache. I think it is possible to look presentable with facial hair, but I am not the manager.I don’t know what to make of these new rules. Part of me thinks they are kind of dorky and I wish the Mets would try and take the Red Sox tact of being the anti-Yankees. Then again, it is not surprising that Randolph is bringing in some Yankees influence and if it means more victories, I am fine with it. That is probably how it will work with the players. If they are winning, no one will be complaining, but if there is some trouble in paradise, that is when we will start to hear some grumbling.[...]
Minky's Glove is Worth Ten Wins! No, Not Really
As many of you have probably seen, ESPN.com has been doing their annual off-season series of “Hot Stove Heaters.” They are all extremely subjective and in my mind, often frustratingly stupid. While I tend to err on the side of sabermetrics, I like to think that I am willing to keep an open mind to other arguments and I can be swayed by non-sabermetric arguments, as long as there is some degree of statistical evidence to back up whatever claim is being made.
Earlier this week, Eric Neel wrote a “Hot Stove Heater” proclaiming Doug Mientkiewicz the best defensive first baseman in the game
. In this case, my beef was not with this claim for two reasons. First, Eric Neel is one of the few writers who is able to skillfully toe the line between an understanding of sabermetrics and colorful writing that can illuminate the non-statistical side of baseball. Second, even though Neel did not get into it, statistical evidence (beyond fielding percentage) does support the claim that Mientkiewicz is if not the best, one of the best defensive first baseman in the league and calling him that is not so ridiculous. Conversely, calling Juan Pierre the best base stealer in the league
was absolutely ridiculous, but that is for another time. But I digress.
What jumped out at me about this article was a quote by our favorite GM included in the following excerpt:
Minaya figures first base is undervalued in the market place and in the minds of the average fan. "People take the position for granted," he said. He looks at a guy like J.T. Snow of the Giants, a smooth, graceful glove who "saves the Giants 10 games a year," and he anticipates something similar for his club with Mientkiewicz.
So J.T. Snow saves 10 games a year with his glove. As my friend Ted said, “So that is why the Giants are so good! I thought it was Bonds’ hitting, but apparently it is Snow’s glove.”
It’s possible that Omar was speaking off the cuff and didn’t think much about what he was saying, but even speaking in complete hyperbole that is such an outrageous statement it makes me question Omar’s judgment. It is statements like there that bother me about non-statistical analysis. There is no basis for this statement whatsoever and people often take it at face value. In fact, I am a little disappointed that Neel did not take him to task for it, but I guess that was not the point of the story.
Analysts have gone to great length to quantify defense, and it is far from an exact science. But there is no way that any fielder is worth ten wins a season, particularly at first base. Maybe Omar was saying that Minky, versus eight fielders and no first baseman at all, was worth ten wins. If so, that might be true. However, it is not possible that Minky is worth ten more wins than anyone else good enough to make it on a major league field as a first baseman, even our good friend Mike Piazza.
Maybe Orlando Cabrera is ten wins better than me at shortstop, but that is neither here nor there. And maybe I am making too big of a deal of a seemingly innocuous statement, but I just could not get over this statement, not could I get over the fact that it was printed at face value. But if Omar is speaking the truth, that means the Mets are an 81 win team even before you factor in the additions of Beltran and Pedro and a full season of David Wright.
October baseball here we come!
McEwing, More Like McSucking
As anyone who has read this blog before knows, I hate Joe McEwing. Not as a person mind you, I’m sure he is a good guy, but as a player. Yes, being able to play eight positions is charming and it will always make you a fan favorite, particularly when you look like you are trying really hard. But let’s be honest, he cannot hit and no amount of positional versatility is going to compensate for that.
In the last three seasons, his OPS have been .538, .600 and .609. He is 32 so it is not likely that these figures are going to improve. In those three seasons, he has had a combined 655 plate appearances. It is inexcusable that the Mets have allowed him to come to the plate, on average, over 200 times in each of the last three seasons.
Fortunately, the Mets seemed to have realized this and have signed a bunch of potential back-up middle infielders, which is essentially what McEwing has become despite his ability to moonlight at every other spot on the diamond. While not glamorous, the battle for the Mets bench will be one of the most intense of the spring.
I’m assuming the Mets will carry 12 pitchers, so that leaves five bench spots. Going in, we know that both there is going to be a back-up catcher. Most likely, that will be Jason Phillips but Ramon Castro will have a punchers chance to win the job after Phillips’ disastrous 2004.
As for the outfield, my homeboy Eric Valent is almost assured of a job although I worry that he will not be able to duplicate his promising 2004 season. There will be a fifth outfielder as well, and Ron Calloway seems like a likely candidate despite a .437 OPS for Montreal last season. He makes McEwing look like Clue Haywood. This also depends on when Cameron comes back and how they decide to use Victor Diaz. If Cameron is healthy, having Valent and Diaz as your back-ups is a little dangerous because neither can play center, although both Cameron and Beltran can so that might be the line-up. It all depends on whether or not the Mets want Diaz playing everyday in Norfolk or backing up in the bigs. This will be a tough decision and I am in favor of latter. In some ways, I want to see Cameron take his time coming back so we get a better sense of what Diaz can do. For some reason, Calloway is on the 40-man roster so I am led to believe Omar has some sort of man crush on him from his time in Montreal. That, or he lost a bet. Kerry Robinson and Gerald Williams are both on the NRI list and are equally horrible options.
On the infield, that leaves two more back-up jobs and one of the certainly is going to be a middle infielder. If Andres Galarraga, another NRI, seems healthy, it appears that he might get a shot to be Minky’s platoon partner. He’s old, but he has put up a line of .306/.371/.459 against lefties over the last three years. I have a hard time imagining he will be able to replicate this, but I have been wrong before.
That would leave one spot for Miguel Cairo, Marlon Anderson, Chris Woodward and McEwing. While Cairo has played about 20 games at short in his whole career, it would stand to reason that he will get the job and the rest will be in Norfolk. Plus, the Mets have the added bonus of Matsui and Reyes being able to play both second and short so having a versatile back-up is less important. Besides, Reyes will get hurt at some point so one of these other guys will get a shot.
Wow. What seemed like a complicated position battle wasn’t so complicated after all.
The February Blues
I’ve got it. The February blues. Sports fans talk about it all of the time, and I’m sure most of you reading this have them as well. The NFL is done, March Madness is weeks away and opening day in Cincy is almost two months away. The Duke-Carolina game tonight was a nice respite, but we all know we’re waiting for Pedro to take the hill in Cincinnati and begin what should be the most exciting season in years. How good the Mets will be remains to be seen, but they will be exciting. Pedro came to camp early for god’s sake, and David Wright was excited about it. Then again, I think Wright would be excited if you kicked him in the groin.
Luckily, for those of us who are desperate for Mets news, here is a little update that someone posted in the comments section on Mets Blog. It gives some details about Piazza’s recent wedding.
Joe McEwing married the two, played the organ, served as the flower girl and was the DJ at the reception. He didn't do any of them well, but was hired because of his versatility.
Cliff Floyd pulled a hammy during the Electric Slide.
Zambrano hurt his elbow doing the Macarena.
Armando Benitez choked during the main course.
When asked how it was that his daughter was the one to catch the bouquet, Art Howe responded, "She battled."
Mike made it very clear to his new bride that he was not willing to try new positions.
Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo showed up to the wedding uninvited, but stuck around for a while, as Piazza was unable to throw them out.
When the bride threw the bouquet, it inadvertently landed in the arms of Doug Mientkiewicz. He refused to give it back, stating that it landed in his hands and it was his right to keep it.
Those who have been reading this blog have sensed my distaste for McEwing, in my next post I will break down the Mets bench situation which is as up in the air as the bullpen and show just how bad McEwing is. Even if he is a good DJ.
Omar Says Maggli-No
First off, I want to apologize for my delinquency with Metsmerized of late. As I’ve mentioned before, I just moved and began a new job, and the new job has been a lot more hectic than I originally expected. Hopefully, I can back on schedule starting now.
So the big news in baseball this week (besides the Yankees inking Buddy Groom) is the Tigers signing Magglio Ordonez, a player long thought to be on the Mets radar this offseason. When I first read about this contract, I honestly thought it was a typo. Five years $75 million with the potential to be worth $105 million over seven years to Magglio, Beltran is suddenly looking like a steal.
There was a time when the consensus in baseball was that Magglio might have to take a one year deal or an incentive laden multi-year deal a la Pudge Rodriguez, his new teammate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, whatever you think about Scott Boras as a person, the guy is good at his job.
Yes, there is a clause that allows the Tigers to void the contract if he has a recurrence of the knee injury he had last season and it lands him on the DL for more than 25 days; however, what if he doesn’t have a recurrence, but the injury has debilitated him so that he is no longer the same player? He could also make it through the season and then have a recurrence the follwing year, or better yet, re-injure it with less than 25 games remaing. Yes he is a year younger, but he is getting more years and money per year than Carlos Delgado.
Not to sound like a whiny Mets fan, but I definitely get the sense that there is a double standard in the media when it comes to the Mets. Can you imagine the outcry in the media if the Mets made this deal? They would be accused of just trying to buy a division title and that they don’t know what they are doing. When the Tigers spend money like they did on Pudge, Percival and Magglio, they are applauded for trying to spend their money to win to put the best product on the field. All three of those are questionable contracts and when you consider what happens if Pudge and Magglio meet certain clauses in their contracts, those could look like two of the worst in baseball in about two years. I’m no Will Carroll, but catchers, and outfielders with horrific knee injuries tend not to age well.
Often, the best measure of a general manager is not the moves the make, but the moves they don’t make. In this case, kudos to Omar for backing off this red flag. The Mets have had plenty over the years and they don’t need another.
• The Mets have updated their 40-man roster, and I just don’t get it. McEwing stays, and Garcia his .371 OBP is a non-roster invitee. To be honest, this is more about McEwing that Garcia. The Mets need to cut this guy loose. If they want a nice guy who tries hard, I’m available and I would play for a lot less than the league minimum if they let me. I once played every position in an IM softball season, so I’m versatile just like Super Joe.
• Ramon Castro is also on the NRI list for the Mets. This guy hit 18 bombs in 2002 and I wonder if Jason Phillips is feeling the heat a little bit. While I don’t like the idea of spring training dictating position battles, this could be an interesting one to watch.
Note: I realize my font is larger than normal, for some reason the blogging program is not letting me make it smaller. The readers with poorer vision will benefit I guess.
All has been relatively quiet on the Mets front since last weeks Mientkiewicz deal. Mets fans and writers are so used to action this offseason that is seems like rumors are flying for the sake of rumors. At this point, it seems as though the team the Mets have now is the one that is going to enter the season. Obviously, they are going to be better than last season’s squad in which my boy Eric Valent made a great case for team MVP. The questions is, how much better? I figured I’d look into Bill James pythagorean method (with help from Baseball Prospectus PECOTA) to try and figure out how much better.
Last season the Mets were 71-91. They scored 684 runs and allowed 731 runs.
To review, the pythagorean formula is:
Winning Percentage= Runs Scored^2 / (Runs Scored^2 + Runs Allowed^2)
So, for the Mets it was: 684^2 / (684^2 + 731^2) = .467
When you multiply .467 by 162, you get 75.6, which means the Mets underperformed their pythagorean projection by about 5 games. Now the problem is figuring out how much better their run differential will be.
I like to think of myself as a relatively objective Mets fans so I will try and maintain that objectivity in my projection; however, I know that as a fan, it is hard to not envision a best case scenario. If you think I am being to conservative or too optimistic, please let me know.
I will go position by position to try and decipher where the Mets will gain and lose runs. I will be using VORP, which is designed to measure “the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances.” My estimates are not the most scientific, but they should be decent approximations.
Catcher-This is one position where the Mets stand to gain a lot of runs. Essentially, his at bats will be replaced by Mientkiewicz as Piazza and Minky will be manning catcher and first whereas last season it was Piazza and Phillips. But to keep it simple, lets say Piazza reaches his projected VORP of 24.2, that is a gain of about 30 runs over Phillips miserable 2004.
First base-Unfortunately, a lot of the gain at catcher will be lost at first because Minky can’t hit like Mikey. While Minky’s projected VORP of 12.7 seems conservative, the odds of him putting up 29.9 (Piazza’s 2004 figure) are slim; however, a VORP of 20 is realistic if he stays healthy.
Second base-Hard to say, but Reyes and the other knuckleheads who manned second were pretty awful last year and Matsui was coming into his own when he got hurt. If Kaz reaches his projection of 25.9, it would be a gain of about 10 runs for the Mets.
Shortstop:A complete wild card. I would not be surprised by anything Reyes done this season. PECOTA has him pegged for a VORP of 12.7. I am going to declare this a loss for the Mets as Reyes has done nothing to indicate he is the star he was supposed to be.
Third: Wigginton and Wright were a good combo, Wright alone should be better; however, Wright and Wiggy combined for a VORP of 42.5, if Wright does that alone it would be fantastic. I’ll call it a push.
Left field: Another big question mark. Which Cliff Floyd will show up this season? The real unknown is how much he will play. PECOTA foresees an upgrade in 3.1 runs for Floyd this season. I’d like to think that he can at the very least replicate his perform[...]
It Ain't Sosa
Breathe easy Mets fans, Sammy Sosa will not be our problem. He is supposedly en route to Baltimore in exchange for Jerry Hairston, Mike Fontenot, Dave Crouthers and a boatload of cash. Admittedly, I was at first relieved when I heard about this trade. Like most fans, I was not too pumped about the idea of Sosa on the Mets, but that was mainly because rumor had it that Sosa would only waive his no trade clause if he received a contract extension from his new team. Apparently, this was not the case.
Sosa has agreed to a trade without a contract extension and the Orioles appear to have made about like bandits. They are giving up Hairston, a player they don’t need since they have Brian Roberts and two marginal prospects for a year of Sosa at $9 million. In any other division, they would be a force. While I know the Cubs were desperate to rid themselves of a player they perceive as a cancer, they may have given up a bit too much here. If the Mets could’ve gotten Sosa under similar circumstances (i.e. for Cliff Floyd), I would’ve been all for it.
Crazy, you ask? Hardly. Think of it this way, Sosa for one year versus Floyd for two? The Mets cannot get rid of Floyd’s contract soon enough and this would’ve been a way of doing so. Not only that, Sosa will probably be better than Floyd next season, PECOTA (the projection system of Baseball Prospectus) sure thinks so. Here are the predicted lines for each player
Sosa 385 AB, .259/.351/.515, 26 HR, 25.3 VORP
Floyd 381 AB, .270/.363/.476, 17 HR, 23.1 VORP
If Floyd has a season like this, with a few more ABs, the Mets would be ecstatic; however, when you consider that this trade would’ve allowed them to get out from under his contract a year sooner, it would’ve been beneficial. Even last year, supposedly a terrible one for Sosa, he was .253/.332/.517 while Floyd was .260/.352/.462 and played in 18 fewer games. This analysis ignores park effects, but it shows that at the very least, they were comparable players.
Mets fans have fallen in love with Omar, but were fearful of the acquisition of Sosa who has fallen from grace faster than Britney Spears because they felt Omar had an infatuation with Sosa since he signed him. That might be true, but getting him for one year would not have been terrible. I cannot imagine he is as awful a guy as the Cubs have made him out to be. Obviously, the guy is an egomaniac, so are 90% of professional athletes. The Cubs would have you believe he was melanoma incarnate. He was made the scapegoat for the Cubs failures and they have suffered for it because they did not get appropriate value for his ability. The Orioles reaped the benefits, it could’ve been the Mets.
Sorry For the Delay
My move is about done, so Metsmerized will return tomorrow at its normal frequency.
Who Needs a Farm System Anyway, Right?
For all the goodwill the Mets had established with their fans this offseason, a lot of it was undermined yesterday when they compounded their failure to get Delgado with a boneheaded trade that involves them sending rising first base prospect Ian Bladergroen to the Red Sox for Doug Mientkiewicz. While it won’t garner the attention of the now infamous “Black Friday,” this trade should be mentioned in the same breath as it illustrates two factors extremely well. They don’t care about their farm system and they don’t understand the concept of replacement level talent.
The latter is completely revealed with the Mientkiewicz trade as he actually performed below replacement level last season posting a VORP of -1.5 with stints with the Twins and Red Sox. Craig Brazell had a higher VORP last season. Now this is not to say that Mientkiewicz will post a negative VORP in 2005. In fact, I think he is much better than that; however, how much better? “Much better” than -1.5 is not that hard to find.
In his defense, Mientkiewicz has had a couple of strong years but they are rooted deeply in his batting average. When he can get that BA into the .300 range as he has done in 2001 and 2003, he isn’t terrible because he draws a decent number of walks and has had two seasons with OBP over .390. On the downside, he has the power of Dave Magadan on “the clear.” Coincidentally, BP lists Magadan as Mientkiewicz’s most comparable player so Mets fans should know what to expect. I don’t care how good of a defensive player he is, he is a light hitting first baseman who will make $3.5 million next season. I figured if the Mets wanted him desperately, they could’ve gotten him for next to nothing considering the Red Sox were eager to rid themselves of him. So Heath Bell? Tyler Yates? I wouldn’t have liked those either considering Travis Lee is available for no prospects and a lot less than $3.5 million, but Ian Bladergroen?
In case you were wondering, Bladergroen was just named the Mets fourth best prospect by Baseball America after mauling Sally League pitching with a line of .342/.397/.595. Yes, he had a wrist injury that curtailed his season, and yes, at 22 he is on the old side for the Sally League, but the Mets are short on guys in their system who can hit, and shorter on first baseman. This is a big season for Bladergroen as he could have shown himself to be on the fast track for Queens with another strong season coupled with recovery from his injury. Now they have Mientkiewicz for one season and no long term plan at first.
Some will try and justify this trade with Mientkiewicz’s defense, but it is no better than Lee’s (or Oleurd’s for that matter) and will cost a lot more in terms of money and in talent. In fact, in terms of Runs Above Replacement defensively, Lee and Mientkiewicz are equals with Lee being 97 RAR in 782 games and Minky being 80 RAR in 675 games. Simply stunning.
All of this in on the heels of my own encounter with the Mets caravan that had me feeling great about the Mets. As I have mentioned before, I am moving out of town and my friends took me to the Knicks game against the Suns last night. After the game, being the high rollers that we are, we went to Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club where we were instantly whisked away to a private room. After a few overpriced shots and beers, a group of three gentlemen I recognized walked in and it was none other than T[...]