Mets Merized Online » XtreemIcon Fri, 02 Dec 2016 22:21:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Logan Verrett’s Road to the Show Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:00:11 +0000 Logan Verrett

Congratulations to Logan Verrett, whose first major league start on Sunday was nothing short of fantastic. In a spot start for Matt Harvey, whom Verrertt is clearly better than, he went eight innings and gave up just one run on four hits and one walk, and logged eight strikeouts. You can read the full game recap here. I’ve always been a Verrett fan and was given permission and access to interview him two years ago when he was a member of the AA Binghamton Mets. We talked about his early baseball career and I was able to speak to some teammates and coaches about what makes Verrett so special. I wish him nothing but the best, not only because he’s a New York Met, but because he’s the kind of guy you want to root for. For a re-introduction to the Mets newest pitching weapon, below is the article I posted here on May 22, 2013.


You hear it all the time: it isn’t about velocity, it’s about location. And no one exemplifies that old adage more than Logan Verrett. The 22-year-old Texas native was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft and has been impressive at all three minor league stops.

Verrett dominated A ball in 2012 in both Savannah and St. Lucie, combining to make 17 starts and finishing with an ERA of 2.70, a WHIP of 0.968, and a strikeout-to-walk rate of 7.15 over 103.1 innings pitched. Beginning the 2013 at AA Binghamton, Verrett has seen a slight regression in his numbers, but a slight regression from dominating is still excellent. After nine starts in the Eastern League, Verrett’s logged 60.1 innings pitched, his ERA sits at a 3.28 ERA and his WHIP is 1.044, good for fifth in the league, and his K/BB is 3.21.

And he’s doing it all with a 91 mph fastball.

“I know I’m not going to blow guys away,” Verrett acknowledges, “so I put a lot of effort into locating all my pitches and being able to throw all of them in any count. I like to keep them off balance and hitting spots helps me do that, especially with all four pitches.

Verrett’s repertoire consists of his fastball, both two-seam and four-seam, a slider, curve ball and change up His fastball has heavy sink on it and the slider is the out pitch. He has great command of all four pitches and can throw each for a strike at any time.

“You don’t have to throw 100 mph to get hitters out,” explains manager Pedro Lopez. “Guys who throw harder than he does get hit harder, because of his location. His fastball command to this point has been good. He’s also been able to throw his secondary pitches at any time in the count down in the strike zone.”

“He’s very aggressive and makes pitches when he needs to,” adds pitching coach Glenn Abbott. “He’s very competitive and likes the challenge.”

Lopez agrees. “He’s aggressive with all his pitches. He’s not afraid of contact and as a starting pitcher, when you do that, you find yourself pitching deep into ballgames. He’s been able to pitch deep into games just because he goes after hitters. That’s what he does best. He goes after hitters and he puts it in play early.”

Verrett’s 60.1 innings leads the Eastern League, as does his 6.7 IP per start (minimum six starts).

“Efficient” is how Coach Abbot describes Verrett. “You know what you’re going to get with him. When he pitched against the Yankees [AA affiliate Trenton Thunder], he got through 8.2 innings in his 100 pitches.”

Teammate Jack Leathersich sees the same thing, and from a pitcher’s perspective, adds that Verrett’s deceptiveness also plays a part in his success. “He’s not a 95 [mph] guy, but his fastball jumps out of his hand. I feel like as a hitter, it would look harder than what it actually comes in at. His slider is very, very sharp and looks exactly like his fastball coming out of his hand. That’s kind of his bread and butter.

“He’s really polished,” continues Leathersich, “and that’s how he was in college in the Cape league when I saw him there. He’s pitching really well and giving us a chance to win every time he goes out there.”

Catcher Blake Forsythe really enjoys catching Verrett. “He makes my job a lot easier than it is. He stays in the zone and is able to throw four different pitches for strikes. He’s got a lot of late movement, which forces contact, but not a lot of good contact. His slider is such a late breaking pitch, you have to try and go the other way with it. Hitters have to adjust to so many different things.”

When asked whether or not he expected to start this strong, Verrett offered a humble, if not sheepish, half-smile and shrug. “You always expect things to go well, until they don’t. But I prepared very intensely this off season I got to spring training a few weeks early. I was really able to get good one-on-one time with some pitching coaches. I was able to get an early jump on throwing. I think I took a really good approach during the off season and brought it with me to Spring Training and carried that into the season. That really helped with my confidence on the mound.

Verrett credits a high school pitching coach for helping plant the seeds that would eventually become a blossoming professional career. “He was only 10-15 years older than me and just recently got out of the game, so he was really young. It’s my senior year in high school and I have this new age approach to pitching that I’m being taught. He was always giving me tips and tidbits in my sides and bullpens, and that’s in high school. Just to be able to have a pitching coach in high school was amazing, especially one that had just left the game maybe three years before. He knew what it takes and what’s expected at the professional level and that’s the kind of approach he brought to our high school team. That carried over to my Baylor career and I felt like I was real mature for a freshman.

He finished his Baylor career seventh in strikeouts, and third among those who only pitched three years. He ranks second and third in conference-play K/BB and ERA, respectively.

Verrett knows there’s more work to be done. “What makes me successful is my ability to put the ball where I want it with all four pitches. I need to get better at doing that every single time. Not having the three or four mistake pitches that I leave up in a start. Like last night, for instance, I had four or five pitches that I could look back and say, “Yeah, I left that ball up.” If I’m going to be successful in the big leagues, it’s eliminating those mistake pitches and I think I’m on the right path.”

]]> 0
MMO Mailbag: Gerardo Parra vs. Josh Reddick Thu, 23 Jul 2015 14:00:39 +0000 -josh-reddick

Devin asks…

I read that Sandy Alderson said that there will only be one addition at the trade deadline and not to expect more than that. So if they can add just one player, who do you like better between Gerardo Parra and Josh Reddick? I think both can help in different ways.

XtreemIcon replies…

Thanks for the question. There are a lot of factors to consider since both are outfielders. It would be simple if one played third base but between those two players, we’d have to choose one. Let’s compare the pros and cons for each.

Parra is a rental and wouldn’t cost one of the top pitchers or Michael Conforto. And since he’s a rental, he’s playing for a contract. A point for Parra.

Reddick, however, is under team control through 2016. There’s inherent value in that. Point for Reddick. The other side to that coin is that he’d cost more than Parra because he’s more valuable. What the Athletics would require in return is the variable we cannot account for because we just don’t know.

Historically, Reddick is better at what he does that Parra is at what he does. As a power hitter, Reddick is not great, but Parra has been a terrible leadoff hitter prior to this contract year. Reddick, since becoming a full-time player with Oakland, averages 17 home runs per 162 games played. He’s slugging .438 and has a 109 OPS+ in that time. Good, but not great.

As a leadoff hitter, Parra is hitting .368/.410/.663 in 106 plate appearances this season compared to an overall career slash of .274/.326/.395 with a 94 OPS+ through 2014, which itself was boosted by a career year in 2011. He’s about the worst base stealer I’ve ever seen in the leadoff spot on a regular basis, with a 63% success rate that dictates he should never attempt to steal. Who gets the point, the guy who’s steadily just a bit above average, or the guy who’s been steadily below average who happens to be hot right now? That’s a tossup.


Then you’d have to consider who’s likely to keep it up. Parra plays in one of the best hitter’s parks in the sport, and his offense has seen a comparable spike. He’s having a career year in a walk year, but he also out-performed his career numbers in the 46 games he played with the Brewers after the mid-season trade from Arizona in 2014.

But I’ll remind you that Arizona is a hitter’s haven as well, so it may just be that at 28-years-old, he’s entering his prime and figuring it out. He’s putting up career highs in line drive percentage and hard hit ball percentage, which may be fluky, but can’t be considered lucky. Keep in mind, however, that Citi Field isn’t close to the launching pad Miller Park is. Regression should be expected.

Reddick, also 28, happens to be putting up his lowest hard hit ball percentage since he joined the A’s. Despite his good results over his first 350 plate appearances (.281/.335/.451), his peripherals, including a BABIP higher than his career, leads me to heavily bet the under on his next 350 plate appearances. Parra also has a BABIP significantly higher than his career, but as mentioned, he’s making much better contact this season. Reddick’s BABIP, along with some low batted-ball marks, points to a certain degree of luck. Point for Parra.

Next thing to consider is the Mets current roster. The only outfielder that’s earned regular playing time is Curtis Granderson. That means the acquired player would need to play center on occasion. Point for Parra. You also have to consider the pipeline. Conforto could be called up any day now. Reddick would block him. Another point for Parra. I’m starting to sense a pattern.

You can argue that the Mets need a masher more than they do a table-setter. That would be a point for Reddick. But if acquiring Parra would allow Granderson to hit in the middle of the order, it would solve both problems just acquiring Parra, while obtaining Reddick still leaves the team short a real leadoff hitter. Not to mention, Travis d’Arnaud will return at some point, and he slots in the middle of the order.

There is the matter of team control for Reddick. While it would cost more to get him, it’s also likely the team could trade him away in the winter and recoup the prospects spent to acquire him. That could be a point for Reddick, but I’m hesitant to strongly consider this line of thinking because of Reddick’s peripherals. They don’t point to a real offensive threat going forward and the odds are much more likely he doesn’t retain his value. One Michael Cuddyer is bad enough. It’s a strong part of the reason the Mets are in this predicament in the first place. Stronger peripherals could sway me to gamble on an overall net value on trading for Reddick, then trading him away when Conforto is ready to take the job next April, but the odds are significantly against that.

So my opinion, after all these considerations, is to acquire Parra. He’d cost less, leave the projected 2016 roster fully intact, offer a better-rounded and constructed roster, and fill more holes than Reddick will.

That said, it all depends on what the Brewers would ask for. Parra would likely decline a qualifying offer and would net the Brewers a draft pick. Not only would they be trading Parra, they’d also be forgoing a pick and the slot money that comes with it, so any return would have to account for that. Parra is my choice between the two, but it’s not a no-brainer.

mmo footer

]]> 0
MMO Mailbag: Upgrading Shortstop? Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:30:45 +0000 ruben-tejada

Vic asks…

Hey Metsmerized, I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on the following: I know everybody is looking for the Mets to do something, but I’m bothered some sites suggesting going after Jean Segura or Jimmy Rollins. I really don’t see them as upgrades defensively over Ruben Tejada. What do you think? I don’t think they will provide that much of an upgrade on offense either. I would appreciate your opinion.

XtreemIcon says…

Thanks for the question, Vic. First I should offer the caveat that the following is of course my own opinion and not any other writer’s or Joe’s.

The short answer is, I agree with you. This, of course, saves the Tejada haters and the “DO SOMETHING, SANDY!” people several minutes of their lives. They can just go straight to the comments and make their peace.

When Alderson said the trade market was narrow, he was in agreement with several other GMs who told Buster Olney the same thing, as he revealed on last Sunday’s Cubs vs. Cardinals national broadcast. So if these are the best two options, the best move is the one Sandy doesn’t make

Segura_JumpingOverRunner_BennySieuBoth Segura and Rollins are not signed for next year, so there’s no long-term commitment to either.

However, Segura is only 25 and still under team control through the 2018 season. Rollins is also due roughly another $6 million as of this writing. Either the Mets would limit the prospects but significantly overpay in dollars, or they can give the Dodgers significant prospects to eat the cost. Either way, it’s an overpay for the Mets

“But Sandy said he’d overpay!” Fair enough, so let’s continue with the comparison

We’re talking about the shortstop position, so the first thing to consider is defense. Defensive metrics aren’t very reliable, but we know enough to discount fielding percentage and the number of errors, as well as using a multi-year sample of UZR/150 as a better (but still not great) gauge. Well, Segura stinks. His UZR/150 is -5.0 for his entire career, and he’s trending downward with a -1.1 in 2013, -4.0 last season and a -6.8 thus far in 2015. He rates as a poor arm with poor range.

Rollins is better, but not good. Yes, he once was a very good defensive shortstop. But it’d be disingenuous to declare him “good” based on his career 4.1 UZR/150 when he was putting up excellent numbers in his mid-twenties. He’s not that guy anymore.

Since Segura has only had two full seasons before this one, we should use the same timeframe for Rollins to be fair. His last three seasons, including this one, is -2.7, 3.6 and -3.3. So he’s been, and is, better than Segura defensively, but still doesn’t help the infield defense this season. Point for neither.

Offensively, it’s also a wash. Segura had a breakout 2013, his first full season. He hit .294/.329/.423 while slugging 12 home runs and 44 stolen bases at an excellent 77% success rate. But the league adjusted to him and he hasn’t yet adjusted back. Since then, he’s sporting a dreadful .250/.289/.332 slash line. Rollins, similarly, can’t hit. Last season he sported a .243/.323/.394 slash, but that slugging percentage was aided by 17 home runs in Philadelphia’s sardine can of a stadium. I doubt he’d show the same power stroke in Citi Field. This season is his worst offensively. He’s slashing .211/.265/.333 to go with his poor defense.

So what we’re looking at are two players at very different points in their careers, but both can’t hit or field. Rollins costs a lot, but there’s a lot of inherent value in Segura’s team control. Neither player would be cheap and would offer very little production.

Tejada, as comparison, is hitting better than both Segura and Rollins. He’s also plays significantly better defense. There’s also no evidence that either of them is as versatile as Tejada, either.

Ruben’s already proven he can play a good second base and third base. He’s the same age as, and under team control for only one fewer year than, Segura is. He’s a much better option than both of them.

Is Tejada the answer? Likely not. No doubt the Mets should consider upgrading at shortstop, but not with Jean Segura or Jimmy Rollins. That’s just making a move for the sake of making a move, and that’s never gotten anyone anywhere.

]]> 0
My Hall of Fame Ballot and the Problems with the Voting Process Tue, 30 Dec 2014 15:00:08 +0000 baseball_hall_fame1

The Hall of Fame debate to me these days is less about who is deserving and more about why they should or shouldn’t be disqualified. For several years now, each new candidate comes with their own set of speculations as opposed to qualifications. Every candidate that played in the steroid era will always have suspicion or doubt cast upon them, warranted or not

This is one of the two things that bug me the most about voting for the Hall of Fame. Not the mistrust per se, but the fact that there are still no firm rules about how to handle it. The Hall of Fame and MLB are shirking their responsibilities as far as I’m concerned. Baseball needs to decide how to handle the statistics of those who either tested positive or admitted to it later in life. Their punishment for active players are doing a decent job deterring players, but there’s been no ruling on how those players should be viewed in the pantheon of the greatest game in history in retrospect. The Hall of Fame doesn’t get a pass, either. They don’t seem to have come forward with their bottom line, either.

The problem I have with this is that they are the respective governing bodies of this process. Their opinion is what it is and I’m not so much concerned with whatever ruling they might make, I just need them to make one. In avoiding the tough questions, they are forcing the BBWAA to make the decisions they should be making and that’s not right or fair. Each member has their own opinions, but in forcing them to make their own determination, you’re creating a subjective platform for enshrinement, and let’s face it, statistics are subjective enough.

Our own John Delcos (he actually has a vote; my ballot is fake as I do not) took his stand on how to handle players linked to steroids in the explanation of his ballot and he has every right to take that stand. The issue I have is that someone else with a vote will have a different stand and for all we know there are 580+ different stances. This is where the inaction of MLB and the Hall of Fame fails the election process.

So I have a stand of my own. My stance is that I’m not taking one. So as long as both the MLB and the Hall of Fame recognizes Barry Bonds as the all-time home run king, then so will I. It’s not fair that they force the voters to make their decisions for them.

The second problem I have is the limit of ten. This is silly and archaic. The rule has been in place since 1936, when there were a total of 16 teams and minorities weren’t allowed to play. To put it mildly, the pool is much larger now. So the biggest issue for me in putting together my fake ballot is not who is deserving, but which ten would get my vote. To help with this, I split the candidates into two categories. The first category is for all time players. The game’s greats who would have dominated in any era they played. The second category is for players who dominated their era. I’m very much in favor of enshrinement for meeting this criterion because the game has changed so drastically over the years.

So with all that said, here’s my fake ballot:

Column One                 Column Two

Barry Bonds                   Tim Raines

Roger Clemens            Edgar Martinez

Mike Piazza                   Craig Biggio

Randy Johnson            Mike Mussina

Pedro Martinez

Jeff Bagwell

I don’t suppose I have to explain Column One. Those guys are the very best to ever play and with my stance that so long as every number they put up are still deemed official by MLB and the HOF, then they warrant enshrinement.

Column Two could be debated, so here goes:

Tim-RainesRaines was an outstanding hitter in an era not known for offense. He was a better base stealer than Rickey Henderson. In point of fact, The Man of Steal would have to come back to baseball and swipe 448 consecutive bases without being thrown out just to achieve Raines’s success rate. Another way to look at it is this: if Raines had attempted as many steals as Henderson did while still maintaining his success rate, he’d steal 1475 bases, eclipsing Rickey’s record. From his 1983-1993, among players who qualified each of those years, Raines had the third best wRC+ in all of baseball. He had the sixth best batting average, third best on base percentage and the 25th best slugging percentage despite being a leadoff hitter for the majority.

Martinez has the DH bias working against him, but the DH has been an official position in the game for over 40 years. So my answer to those who leave DHs off their ballot is: get over it. Not to mention there are some absolute butchers already enshrined because of their offensive prowess. There’s a very real argument to be made that Martinez was more valuable to the Mariners by NOT playing the field than some HOFers were to their teams by costing them runs in the field. Between 1990-2003, among players who qualified each of those years, Martinez ranks third in wRC+, and has the highest batting average, the third highest OBP and the ninth-best SLG%.

Biggio’s detractors say that his best attribute was longevity. True, he didn’t dominate in any one specific facet of the game statistically, but the longevity bit is misleading. Biggio played twenty seasons. That’s not unheard of at all. No one in the 3,000 hit club played fewer than twenty seasons, so why are we penalizing Biggio for it? I also believe there’s a lot of inherent value in doing everything really well for a really long time. I don’t necessarily vote for him because of the magic number of 3,000 hits, but part of his credentials is how he got there. Is a player who potentially had ten great, what we call “Hall of Fame” seasons and ten average ones better or more valuable than Biggio, who played “just” really well for twenty seasons if the final results are the same? Biggio gets my vote.

Lastly, Mussina. Mussina’s numbers are somewhat like Biggio’s in that there wasn’t one thing he did particularly better than anyone else, just a lot of really, really good seasons. For example, from 1992-2008, Mussina’s full time career, he’s seventh in ERA, sixth in FIP and fifth in xFIP among pitchers who qualified each of those years, all while pitching in some homer-friendly parks against some of the game’s best offenses. Two more seasons would have given him the automatic nod because he would have reached the magic totals for wins and strikeouts, but he chose to leave the game on his terms. Personally, one of my favorite stats, which is neither here nor there re: his HOF candidacy, is that since balk records have been kept in 1974, no one with a minimum of 2,500 innings pitched has had fewer balks than Mussina, who has 3,562.2 innings pitched. In his entire career, Mussina balked only one time

Those are my ten, which means I did not vote for Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield, Curt Schilling and John Smoltz, all of whom are worthy of enshrinement. The rule of ten couldn’t be thrown out soon enough.


]]> 0
What Michael Cuddyer Signing Says About Free Agency Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:30:35 +0000 Cuddyer

The deal between the Mets and Michael Cuddyer made me a little sick and a little confused and a little perplexed and a little vindicated. That’s a lot for a Monday.

What we have here is a 36-year-old who has a career .261/.328/.425 slash on the road, plays terrible defense, can’t stay on the field and now is under contract for two years with an AAV north of ten million dollars. For what it’s worth, Matt den Dekker slashed .290/.392/.374 the second half of 2014, plays great defense and costs about a tenth as much money. So I’m a little sick.

And lest we forget, the signing comes with the cost of a draft pick, because the Rockies had extended a qualifying offer to Cuddyer. It was the 15th pick overall, which certainly doesn’t guarantee anything, but this coming draft is expected to be deep with pitching and outfielders. Sure, whoever that pick is likely won’t sniff the majors till 2018 at the earliest, but we’re not talking about a top free agent here. We’re talking about Michael Cuddyer. He ranked 46th out of Keith Law’s top 50 free agents list. He didn’t make Jon Heyman’s at all. The Mets have coveted draft picks during Sandy Alderson’s tenure, and they cited it as the reason they let far better players sign elsewhere. And they sell one off for Michael Cuddyer? So I’m a little confused.

Now, all that said, the fact is Cuddyer was probably the best outfield value on the free agent market. When you consider the likely $100 million price tag on Yasmani Tomas, what may end up being a four-year, $50 million contract to Melky Cabrera, the big contract to one dimensional Nelson Cruz (and that dimension is negated in Citi Field), and other entirely undesirable options available, this deal isn’t that bad in a vacuum. Unfortunately, players don’t use vacuums, aside from whatever Juan Lagares wears on his left hand.

Multiple sources have reported that according to a source, “the Mets shifted their thinking on Cuddyer after surveying the free-agent market and after doing a sweep of the trade market. They did not feel comfortable with the expected asking prices for upgrading elsewhere. And from early in the process, Cuddyer in their view represented the best fit in terms of price and need.”

Anthony DiComo tweeted: “Official said Mets had no interest in Cuddyer post-qualifying offer, but changed their minds. Spotty pool of alternatives forced decision.” So how bad are the other options if Cuddyer is the best fit? That’s a little perplexing.

But the free agent landscape isn’t a surprise, or at least it shouldn’t be. It certainly isn’t to me. Almost three years ago I wrote about free agency and it’s slow death. We are in fact seeing a steep decline in the talent pool in free agency. Gone are the days where the young, five-tool players are available. The future Carlos Beltrans of 2005 are already locked up through their early 30’s, so when they finally do hit free agency, their best years are behind them. In point of fact, perusing Keith Law’s top 50, Pablo Sandoval is the only free agent with MLB experience in the top 15 under thirty years of age. So I feel a little vindicated.

My final word on the signing is this: I don’t expect Cuddyer to be a $10 million player. I think he’ll eventually play himself out of the starting lineup, either because of injury or poor production, and most likely both. His only value to the Mets is the occasional spot start for Lucas Duda at first base or den Dekker in left against the tough lefty. They gave him one too many years and $15-$18 million dollars too much. If the Mets can trade Bartolo Colon or Daniel Murphy to recoup the money to make another signing and recoup the prospects they lost selling off the draft pick, then this deal will be easier to swallow. They’d have just wasted money, and it’s always easier and better to waste money than prospects. But the Mets aren’t on very sturdy financial standing, so it may not be so easy for them to waste any money either . So the deal is not very easy to swallow, and yes, it made me a little sick.

]]> 0
Some Second Half Thoughts: Kicking Tires On Rasmus Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:30:16 +0000 A couple of things have been on my mind recently as we get set to open the second half of the season. No preamble. Here they are:

Free Agent Target?

colby rasmusAs expected, the crop of free agents after the 2014 season is miserable, but there is one guy who intrigues me. Should platoon options over the second half not work out for the long haul in left field, I’d kick the tires on Colby Rasmus. He’s is in the throes of an injury-riddled season and his numbers are terrible. But he put up solid numbers as recently as 2013, hitting .276/.338/.501 with 22 home runs. And he’s always a plus defender. He’ll only be 28 next season, and the Jays aren’t likely to ask him back with former highly touted prospect Anthony Gose needing to sink or swim. He would come cheap and on a short-term deal and offer a solid fourth outfielder/defensive replacement/lefty part of a platoon.

I’d still look to bolster the position via trade, because Rasmus is not the impact player needed in left field, but he has the highest upside of any of the available outfielders, and could have value in a limited role.

Why Would the Cubs Trade?

starlin castro

The boards have been rife with trade proposals to the Cubs because they have an abundance of shortstop prospects. But my favorite part of amateur trade
proposals is the disregard of the needs of the other team. Why would the Cubs trade away any of their shortstop prospects when there are so many holes on the Chicago Cubs? Aside from their current shortstop Starlin Castro, Arismendy Alcantara is on the horizon, Javier Baez is making a joke out of AAA and they just acquired Addison Russell. But believe you me; if you think current second baseman Darwin Barney and left fielder Chris Coghlan are blocking some top prospects, you’re out of your gourd. Ditto Justin Ruggiano currently in right field. Let’s assume both Alcantara and Russell are up the middle, because they are the two best defenders of the group. Kris Bryant is currently toying with AAA pitchers at third base, but Baez and Castro (can’t forget about him) profile better defensively there. Let’s give it to Castro because he’s the “veteran” of the group, so we’ll defer to his status and keep him in the infield. That means Bryant could play left field and Baez can slot in as the right fielder.

Just because Castro is making the most money doesn’t mean he’s making a lot of money. He’s on a very team-friendly contract and doesn’t need to be traded. The Cubs have room on the major league roster to play all their prospects and their need for pitching may be abated by two top prospects, CJ Edwards and Pierce Johnson, pitching well in AA this far. They may trade someone, but since they don’t need to, the price will be huge.

Who’s Been Pitching Better?

Pitcher A: 3.42 FIP, 3.50 xFIP, 3.64 SIERA, 2.28 K/BB, and a .253/.333/.358 opponent slash and a 19.6%/54.1%/26.4% LD/GB/FB contact rate

Pitcher B: 3.64 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 3.96 SIERA, 2.64 K/BB, and a .250/.304/.369 opponent slash and a 21.3%/47.9%/30.8% LD/GB/FB contact rate

Looks pretty darn similar. Maybe a slight edge to pitcher A, though it appears he walks more hitters. That might be a clue. I can give it away and tell you that pitcher A has a 3.90 ERA on the season and pitcher B has a 2.96 ERA. So why is there nearly a full run difference in Zack Wheeler’s and Jon Niese’s ERA? Well, Zack’s a little bit unlucky and has been a victim of a poor timing. The significant difference is, despite Wheeler’s slightly better peripherals and contact rate, is that in 14 plate appearances with the bases loaded or runners on 2nd and 3rd, Wheeler’s opponents are hitting .583/.571/.750 against. Niese has kept those runners on base, sporting a .182/.267/.182 line in 15 plate appearances. Hitters raking against Wheeler with at least two runners in scoring position are bringing in a lot more runs.

Wheeler is pitching very well this season, a lot better than people give him credit for. Those numbers with at least two in scoring position will obviously normalize as the sample size becomes larger and his ERA will represent it.

MMO footer

]]> 0
D’Arnaud Changed His Mindset, Not His Approach Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:45:13 +0000 travis d'arnaud

When Travis d’Arnaud was demoted to the minors, the coaching staff down there had a two-hour talk with him, and he emerged a new man. Well, a new hitter, at least.

Since returning to the Mets on June 24th, d’Arnaud is hitting .295 (18 for 61) with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.

D’Arnaud said he needed to clear his head and Frank Viola said the coaches just got him to stop thinking. This riled up a certain subsection of Mets fans who claimed immediately that TDA’s success was due to forgetting about the Philosophy (so capitalized because it’s taken on a life of itself) and just began swinging more.

False. Nonsense. And false nonsense.

Understand something. d’Arnaud’s Pitches per Plate Appearance (PPPA) for the season is 3.54 and his PPPA is 3.52 since his return.

What really happened in Las Vegas is that the coaching staff got him to stop thinking so much about his mechanics and focus on the pitches he was seeing.

The (at the time) season-long slump had gotten in his head and he kept worrying about where his hands were, where his feet were and often made adjustments to his swing, sometimes from plate appearance to plate appearance within the same game.

TDA is a free swinger by nature, so the idea that adhering to a philosophy of taking pitches led to his struggles is two-fold absurd.

First, he clearly wasn’t taking pitches. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, he’d be tied for 14th worst in all of baseball in that category.

And second, he’s seeing the same amount of pitches in his second stint with the big club, but the results have been night and day. All he needed was to change his mindset, not his approach.

mmo presented

]]> 0
My National League All Star Team Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:56 +0000

Yesterday, you (hopefully) read my picks for the American League All Star team. If you haven’t, give it a whirl and let me know what you disagree with. Before I get to my NL picks, a few notes for your information if you haven’t read my AL picks: In the case where good arguments can be made for more than one player, I lean towards the player with the more established career. This is the All-Star game, not the All-Good-For-Three-Months game. After that, I lean towards the player whose offensive contributions are greater. This is not how I would choose my roster for a real team, but as the saying goes, “Chicks dig the long ball,” and so do most casual fans, and this game is merely a fun exhibition. So let’s score some runs.

As I run through each position, I’ll highlight my top three candidates, and the first name listed is my choice for starter. In the end, I’ll have rounded out a 34-man roster with eight starters and thirteen each of reserves and pitchers, keeping in mind that every team has to be represented. It’ll make for a fun debate. So here are my choices for the National League:

CatcherJonathan Lucroy, Evan Gattis, Yadier Molina. Pretty easy choice. Lucroy and Gattis are killing the ball. There’s a cluster of catchers with comparable offensive numbers for that third spot, which include Russell Martin, Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Montero and Buster Posey, but Yadi is easily the best defensive catcher out of the bunch and perhaps the biggest star, too. However, this is the first year in a while he isn’t the best.

First BasePaul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman.  I would listen to arguments for Matt Adams, Justin Morneau and Adam LaRoche, but I think the numbers speak for themselves, and also playing time keep them off the roster.

daniel murphySecond BaseChase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Scooter Gennett. Utley has really turned back the clock this season. He’s a shoo-in to be voted in as the starter and deservedly so. Scooter Gennett of the Brewers has been the best offensive second baseman, and his name is “Scooter.” Points. Dee Gordon warrants consideration, but Murphy is having a slightly better year and also has to go as the only representative of the Mets. Neil Walker might have gone if the game was three weeks ago, but he missed time due to injury and hasn’t come back strong.

ShortstopTroy Tulowitzki, Troy Tulowitzki, Troy Tulowitzki. That was easy. Seriously, though, Hanley Ramirez and Starlin Castro get the nod here. Jhonny Peralta’s defense and home run total shouldn’t go unnoticed, but aside from that, he’s been a huge disappointment considering the contract he signed with the Cardinals. A rare mistake from the best organization in baseball. Brandon Crawford has had a nice season, but not nice enough.

Third BaseTodd Frazier, Aramis Ramirez, Anthony Rendon. Frazier and Ramirez were fairly easy choices. Rendon was a tough pick over Casey McGehee. The offense was a toss-up. McGehee has a better average and OBP, but Rendon slugs better, and is a better base runner than McGehee. He also plays better defense. There’s also the matter of Rendon’s pedigree and star power compared to McGehee, whose lackluster career forced him to play in Japan in 2013.

OutfieldYasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton (left to right), Carlos Gomez, Seth Smith, Hunter Pence.  Cutch and Puig are playing a different game right now and Stanton’s power is not of this world. Puig starts in LF because I think he’s a better athlete than Stanton and would adapt better in a different position. I’ve been impressed with the plate discipline Gomez has finally developed, and he’s on pace toGiancarlo-Stanton-Marlins1 shatter his career high in home runs, too. Smith has had a very good season and deserves to be here, even though he may strike some as the “pity” pick from the Padres. Pence just beat out Michael Morse for the last spot, though he should be the comeback player of the year. Remember Charlie Blackmon? Since his 9-for-10 stretch over two games, he’s been the picture of mediocrity. Justin Upton has had a nice season, but not nice enough. Ryan Braun has comparable numbers to Pence, but an injury cost him time while Pence is dependable.

PitchersJohnny Cueto, Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Jeff Samardzija, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmerman, Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Craig Kimbrel, Huston Street, Steve Cishek, Pat Neshek, Tony Watson. This was tough. I only chose three closers for the NL because of the wealth of starting pitching. I also included two middle relievers because they have both pitched much better than most closers. Zach Duke and Joaquin Benoit have had tremendous seasons. Jason Hammel, Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels and Michael Wacha got long looks and could have made someone else’s team.

35th man vote – Jason Hammel, Dee Gordon, Adam LaRoche, Justin Upton, Cole Hamels

What say you?

]]> 0
My American League All Star Team Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:00:36 +0000

The All-Star game is almost upon us and with that comes my annual two-post series revealing my picks, because I know you were all having trouble sleeping in anticipation. Well, fret no more. Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, but my votes are already in. Are yours?

Votes are all subjective, of course, but the following is how I came to choosing: Some comparisons and choices are easy. Some are not. In the case where good arguments can be made for more than one player, I lean towards the player with the more established career. This is the All-Star game, not the All-Good-For-Three-Months game. After that, I lean towards the player whose offensive contributions are greater. This is not how I would choose my roster for a real team, but as the saying goes, “Chicks dig the long ball,” and so do most casual fans, and this game is merely a fun exhibition. So let’s score some runs.

As I run through each position, I’ll highlight my top three candidates, and the first name listed is my choice for starter. In the end, I’ll have rounded out a 34-man roster with eight starters and thirteen each of reserves and pitchers, keeping in mind that every team has to be represented. It’ll make for a fun debate. So here are my choices for the American League:

Catcher – Derek Norris, Salvador Perez, Kurt Suzuki. This one was somewhat easy. Norris has been fairly convincingly the best offensive catcher in league, and is a decent receiver to boot. Salvador is a defensive whiz and can handle the stick. Suzuki falls in a cluster of deserving third-string backups, so I’ll give him the hometown nod because he’s a good enough hitter to justify the selection. Yan Gomes is a great defensive backstop but doesn’t quite have the offensive numbers to warrant a selection over Salvador or Suzuki.

Miguel CabreraFirst BaseMiguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu. This is where I get a bit irritable that the ballots are released so early. Encarnacion is listed as a DH, but has only started at DH sixteen times as of this writing. He’s a first baseman and I’m listing him here. Defense isn’t a factor because all three (and most AL first baseman) are butchers. Brandon Moss also got consideration, but he butchers several positions equally and can’t be defined as a first baseman.

Second BaseRobinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve. I thought about starting Kinsler because he’s been the all-around best second baseman in the league this season, and Altuve’s been the best hitter in the bunch, but Cano is one of the better players in the league and has the “superstar” pedigree. Brian Dozier and Howie Kendrick have had nice seasons, but not nice enough.

derek jeterShortstopAlcides Escobar, Erick Aybar, Derek Jeter. Jeter’s been a smidge north of abysmal this season, but he’s an all-time player and it’s his last season. That tends to resonate with the baseball community, so I’ll let him go. He’ll probably be voted in to start, but I have standards. Alcides has been hands down the best offensive shortstop this season and Aybar is in the next batch while playing superior defense. That next batch also includes Alexei Ramirez, who falls victim to Jeter’s farewell tour. Xander Bogaerts has had a mediocre-at-best season on first glance, but strangely enough, he’s hitting .296/.389/.427 as a shortstop, easily enough to earn the starting nod, but .143/.186/.264 as a third baseman. Signing Stephen Drew has weakened two positions in Boston.

Third BaseAdrian Beltre, Lonnie Chisenhall, Kyle Seager. Who should start was close. While Chisenhall has some stupid gaudy numbers, Beltre has been a top third baseman for years, so he earns the start. On June 1st, Josh Donaldson would be starting, but since then he’s hit .168/.213/.277 and allowed Seager to sneak in there. Big ups to Conor Gillaspie, who’s just a victim of bad timing. He’s having a real nice season, but has no power to speak of, and chicks dig the aforementioned longball.

mike-troutOutfieldJose Bautista, Mike Trout, Alex Gordon (left to right), Adam Jones, Yoenis Cespedes, Nelson Cruz. Quick note on Trout: If you extrapolate his 2014 season thus far, his 162-game average is .314/.407/.610 with 39 home runs, 45 doubles, 11 triples, and 22 stolen bases (hasn’t been caught yet). He plays a different game than the rest of them. I digress. This is actually the easiest position to call because the three starters are easily the three best outfielders this season, and they just happen to play each of the three positions. Works out well. Cruz would sub in right field for my All Star team so Cespedes can play left. Better defender earns his actual position. Jones is a solid center fielder. If Lorenzo Cain hadn’t missed some time, he’d get heavy consideration, but while his numbers are good, and he’s a defensive whiz, the full-timers get the benefit of the doubt. Michael Brantley was snubbed in favor of Cruz. Brantley has an edge in most facets of the game, but Cruz’s power advantage is significant. The knock on Cruz is his defense, and it’s miserable, but so is Brantley’s. If I were managing, Cruz would be my starting DH.

PitchersFelix Hernandez, Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel, Jon Lester, David Price, Phil Hughes, Dellin Betances, Sean Doolittle, Koji Uehara, Greg Holland, Joakim Soria.

Pitchers are always the biggest source of debate, but I’m very comfortable with this staff. Price could be questioned because his ERA is a little high, but I’d counter that by pointing out his peripherals are much better than his ERA suggests and he’s the lone Rays representative. You can debate Evan Longoria for third base and thus adding another pitcher instead of Price, and I’d listen, but in the end I don’t think Longo is more deserving than the three third basemen I chose and I really am confident in Price’s peripherals.

Hughes is another debate, on my team instead of Mark Buehrle, but Hughes has pitched much better when you look at the peripherals, is a hometown guy, and I really like his story this season. So far, he’s got to be the front runner for comeback player of the year. I tried to find a second set-up man instead of just sending Betances, but I couldn’t justify leaving off a starting pitcher for a middle reliever. Wade Davis is that snub, admittedly, and I guess I could have left Hughes off for him, but Hughes is a great story and I was a little uncomfortable sending two players from the same bullpen (Holland). Maybe you wouldn’t be.

35th Man candidates – Michael Brantley, Conor Gillaspie, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Brandon Moss.

Those are my votes. Who’d you vote for?

]]> 0
Over and Under Predictions – Win A 2014 Topps Mets Team Set! Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:00:57 +0000 lagares

Win A 2014 Topps Mets Team Set!

Opening Week is here, thank heavens. MMO has been rolling out a series of predictions over the past few days, and now it’s time for our annual Over & Under questions and results.

How many home runs will Curtis Granderson hit? How many saves will we get from Bobby Parnell? How many games will the Mets win this season? We tackle all those questions and two dozen more as we see what Met fans are thinking as we enter a new season that should be fun to watch and exciting to follow.

Here’s how 20 of our writers responded to 27 different under and over questions. You can click each chart for an expanded view. 

over under 1

MMO Staff Over Under – Part 1

over under 2

MMO Staff Over Under – Part 2

Now it’s your turn!

Go ahead and post your own Over & Under responses in the comment thread below, and we’ll choose one random winner who will get a cool prize!


2014 Topps Mets Team Set – Series One

This recently released set includes rookie cards for Wilmer Flores and Travis d’Arnaud, plus young up and coming stars Juan Lagares and Zack Wheeler. Matt Harvey is also included in the 9 card set!

Sound off in the comments with your predictions on the following!

  • Wins – 77.5
  • Final NL East Standing – 3.5
  • Games out of final WC spot – 9.5
  • Home runs for David Wright – 22.5
  • Home runs for Curtis Granderson – 25.5
  • Home runs for Ike Davis – 29.5
  • Starts for Bartolo Colon – 19.5
  • Debut of Noah Syndergaard – June 9
  • Debut of Rafael Montero – May 19
  • Number of saves for Bobby Parnell – 27.5
  • K/9 for Zack Wheeler – 9.00
  • BB/9 for Zack Wheeler – 3.50
  • DL stints for Bartolo Colon – 2.5
  • Starters with 200 innings – 1.5
  • Pitchers to make a start – 8.5
  • Relievers with 60+ appearances – 1.5
  • Relievers with 50+ appearances – 2.5
  • Relievers with 40+ appearances – 3.5
  • All Stars – 2.5
  • Total WAR (Fangraphs) of the entire outfield – 9.5
  • Number of Mets to get ROY votes – 2.5
  • Combined OBP for leadoff hitter – .3245
  • Number of starts at SS for Ruben Tejada – 119.5
  • Number of player to start 30+ games at first base – 3.5
  • NL rank in HRs – 10.5
  • NL Rank in OBP – 11.5
  • MetsBlog Fan Approval Rating – 69.5

Leave your Over and Under responses below and we’ll choose a winner for the Topps Mets team set after today’s game and announce the winner in our game recap!

Have fun!


]]> 0
Sign Up For MMO Fantasy Baseball – 100% Free, 100% Metsmerized!!! Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:00:12 +0000 MMO FANTASY BASEBALL

Update 3/7 – Great turnout so far! Thirty people and there’s plenty of room for more. Read further to learn how to sign up.

Spring Training is upon us, and it’s time to start preparing for this year’s MMO Fantasy Baseball Season. Consider this the first notice. What we at MMO Fantasy Baseball will do this year is accept signups via e-mail. After a couple weeks of gathering as many names as would like to play, we’ll make as many leagues as we can. We will not form a league with fewer than ten participants or more than fourteen. If 30 people sign up, we’ll play three ten-player leagues. If we get 48 people, we’ll use four twelve-player leagues.

Joe D., who should be regarded and thanked at every opportunity, has continued to support this endeavor by offering a prize to the champion from his own stash of giveaways for the site. He has generously agreed to put up as many prizes as we have leagues, so everyone has something other than pride to play for.

The rules of the leagues will be uniform so everyone will be playing the same game. Scoring will be based on the standard fantasy 5×5 categories: AVG., HR, RBI, Runs, SB and Wins, ERA, Ks, Saves and WHIP. We will be playing through Yahoo. It will be a snake draft, and the rosters will consist of 25 players and will be as follows: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF, OF, IF, UTIL, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P and five bench spots. This can be tweaked if league size dictates (maybe add another UTIL for a ten-team league).

There will be a maximum limit of seven add/drops per week and no limit or deadline for trades throughout the regular season. After the final game is complete on the last day of the regular season, rosters will lock for the playoffs. You will dance with who brung you. Injury add/drops after rosters are locked will only be offered for those players who hit the DL. E-mail your commish with your replacement, and he or she will make the add/drop for you. Rosters won’t unlock. Final rule: good-natured trash talk is expected.

Please send an e-mail to with the subject “MMO Fantasy Baseball” answering the following questions:

  • What is your MMO handle (it does not have to be your eventual team name; just need something with which to identify you for the time being)
  • When is your preferred time to draft (days of the week and time of day)? Please list all available times. We want as many people as possible to be able to take part in a live draft and will likely group leagues based first on draft availability. Your commish will drill down a specific time with the league.

We’re hoping for an even better turnout than last year. Consider the 2014 fantasy baseball season open for business!

]]> 0
Using Projections to Forecast the 2014 Mets – The Offense Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:34:04 +0000 bats

With Spring Training underway and the roster more or less solidified, let’s take a look at how the team might fare this upcoming season. After splurging on free agents this past offseason (comparatively, obviously), how do the 2014 Mets stack up against the 2013 version? We won’t know the actual answer till October, but who wants to wait that long? This article will compare the offense, while a pitching comparison will follow in due time.

To make the comparisons, I studies three separate projection systems, then calculated the average of each to get a “final” projection, then compared it to each player’s 2013 stats. I used the projections from ZiPS, Steamer and Oliver. I chose those three, or rather, I didn’t choose others because: Marcel is very basic, Bill James is unreliably optimistic, CAIRO is just Marcel with a few more factors and CHONE is no longer publically accessible. PECOTA relies on historical comparisons, but I find that unreliable because the game was far too different in the past to base today’s projections on it. The scope of baseball has changed dramatically.

This is all my opinion. If you swear by Marcel or CAIRO, bully for you. They are all valid, and sometimes very accurate. However, for reasons stated above, I prefer the three I’m using. You can bone up on ZiPS and Oliver here, and on Steamer here. Pay close attention to how they extrapolate playing time.

I will present a small chart for each of the twelve players to likely get the most playing time. Around the infield with David Wright, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and the three first basemen: Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin. I’ll go around the outfield with Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Chris Young and Eric Young, Jr. I’ll finish it with Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores.

The charts will show each of the three projections for the player, the average of the projections and the 2013 line for comparison. Enjoy.


Thoughts: ZiPS is not a fan. It’s projecting a DL stint, it looks like, but what I find strange is that the loss of playing time isn’t going to affect his home run total. I find that odd. ZiPS likes Wright to regress as a hitter just about all around, except his home run rate will increase, since his total is right around normal but his plate appearances drop. That seems like a very rare scenario. There’s a regression expected from each projection, but ZiPS is hinting at such a slide that it could cost the team a handful of wins if it bears fruit. If Steamer and Oliver prove to be true, it should be another All Star season for the Mets captain with a few MVP votes sprinkled in.

TejadaThoughts: I’m an unabashed, unapologetic Tejada supporter, so I’m encouraged by these numbers, as they all predict Tejada to be better than last season, though Oliver doesn’t expect much of an upgrade. I do think each projection is pretty light on the OBP. We’ve all seen Tejada in 2011 and 2012 show pretty good plate discipline and display enough hand-eye coordination to enable him to see lots of pitches and hit with two strikes. I think he can be a .270/.335/.350 hitter with a doubles total in the low 30′s. A line like that, however, will still require him to maintain an above-average defensive season to be a real contributor.


Thoughts: It’s just Danny being Danny. Remarkably consistent, I do think if Murph was ever going to top 15 home runs, this would be the season so long as the middle of the order bats meet expectations and he sees a few more fastballs. There’s not much to add.


Thoughts: Confirming what we already surmised, Satin as an everyday player would be exposed. He does show moderate power and a good walk rate, and it comes as a surprise to no one that he’s best suited as a platoon partner. He could be the first to lose his job, however, as Flores can do everything he can, and more, but with a much higher ceiling. He might not even come north if Omar Quintanilla and Wilfredo Tovar have good springs.Ike

Thoughts: Not one projection thinks Ike will finally figure it out. Oliver thinks he’ll be downright useless. I’d like to see Steamer be correct here, obviously, but even if that proves to be the case, is that really what we want? Isn’t that settling? Provided good health everywhere else, it might behoove the Mets to maybe leave Flores down in extended to start the year and get full time reps at first base. You know. Just in case.


Thoughts: Yikes. Not as productive as Ike and half the defense, even though Ike is a tad overrated with the glove himself. I’m starting to like the idea of getting Flores real first base reps more and more.


**Marlon Byrd‘s 2013 Mets stats. It’s who Granderson is replacing in the lineup and Grandy didn’t have a 2013 to speak of, anyway.

Thoughts: The problem with projections is that they don’t factor in a hitter’s approach and they put more weight on most recent seasons. We can lament these projections and try to justify it by telling ourselves that at least he’s not Jason Bay, but it certainly looked for all to see that he changed his approach in Yankee Stadium. He hit .272/.344/.484 as a Tiger, and that would be pretty darn good along with 25 home runs and plus defense in left field.


Thoughts: Even with these numbers, Lagares would contribute positively because his defense is so good, he’d prevent more runs in the field than he’d cost at the plate. That said, even though I’d take .260 with 35 extra base hits, he needs to improve his plate discipline. I’m sure he can do that based on his improvements in the high minors in 2011 and 2012, and that could conceivably make him an All Star.

C. Young

Thoughts: The good news, for those who put stock in WAR and it’s value, is that Young will earn his $7.5 million in the current marketplace, even with these numbers. However, most expect more, and rightfully so. If Young can hit .240/.330/.420 with his plus defense and ability to steal bases, he could be a very productive player. If he remains unable to hit right handed pitching, the platoon experiment needs to begin as soon as possible, lest he really hurt the offense.

EY, Jr.

*These numbers are only Young’s Mets numbers, not including his time with the Rockies.

Thoughts: These numbers are pretty consistent across the board and really are very good numbers for a fourth outfielder. Young has great baserunning ability and defensive versatility and will give the Mets a huge late-inning advantage. If he finds himself in a starting role, he’ll be exposed.


***John Buck‘s 2013 numbers. TDA’s 2013 was much to small a sample size.

Thoughts: On the plus side, TDA should have no problem providing more offense from the catcher’s spot than Buck did for the Mets. However, the numbers are still lower than what we all hope for him. It’s still only his rookie season and his scouting reports all laud tools that speak to much better numbers in the future. He’s raked in the minors as recently as 2011 and 2012, but his ability to stay on the field will make or break him.


There are no 2013 stats for Flores. Too small a sample size, plus a majority of those plate appearances were hindered by injury.

Thoughts: Like TDA, Flores isn’t expected to hit the ground running. The majors are a big adjustment, but again like TDA, Flores has all the tools to become a big time hitter. Based on his minor league performances, I see a better OBP for Flores, even if he maintains a .260 batting average. Playing time might be a big issue for Flores, and I advocate getting him regular playing time. If he can’t crack a starting job with the big club, he should get regular plate appearances in Vegas and work on his defense. He may not have anything more to prove offensively at the minor league level, but he needs a position and regular playing time.

believe mr met button

Overall: The Mets seem primed for an improvement offensively. While a downgrade/regression is projected for Wright and Granderson (compared to Byrd), the Mets will see increases in production at shortstop, first base (assuming Ike gets the majority of the starts), center field, catcher and Chris Young represents an upgrade over Eric Young, Jr.’s 2013 campaign. EYJ, as the fourth outfielder, would be an upgrade over Duda’s 2013 as the fourth outfielder.

Last season, the Mets had a record north of .500 after Wheeler was called up to replace Shaun Marcum. Add Marcum’s ineffectiveness with Jon Niese and Dillon Gee‘s slow starts, and the Mets were in a big hole almost immediately. But if the offense does improve and the pitching meets expectations from the start, the Mets could compete for a Wild Card spot. We’ll take a look at said pitching in the next and last installment of Using Projections to Project the 2014 Mets.

]]> 0
Featured Post: What Tom Glavine’s Induction Means for Doc Halladay Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:24:17 +0000 The election of Tom Glavine into the Hall of Fame makes me wonder how voters will reflect on Roy Halladay’s career. The two careers are by no means similar, but that’s what makes it a fascinating comparison.

Glavine is well deserving of his induction. Over his twenty-year career from 198-2007 (excluding his very first and last seasons in which he combined to throw only 113.2 innings), which spanned the heart of the PED era, he compiled a 3.48 ERA, a 1.304 WHIP, fewer than one hit per innings, fewer than one home run per nine innings, 2,550 strikeouts and, of course, the magical 300-plus win total (301 to be exact, 305 for his entire career). He also won two Cy Young awards and finished with two more second place finishes and still two more third place finishes. He was a ten-time All Star and received five top-25 MVP finishes, including one top-10 in 1992. And all that while pitching with Greg Maddux.

Halladay doesn’t have those counting credentials. His career as a full time starter only spanned ten years, 2002-2011. He only has 170 wins in that span (though he does have the wins per season advantage over Glavine 17-15), but he does have 203 overall having played part time for four seasons before becoming a full time starter in 2002 and hanging on for two injury-plagued seasons in 2012-13. He only has 2,117 career strikeouts, and he spent most of his career playing after the PED era (though it’s naïve to think PEDs were eradicated after 2004).

But here’s the case for Doc. The hardware is very similar. Also two Cy Young awards and also two other second place finishes. He has one third place finish and two other fifth place finishes. He’s an eight time All Star and has two top-ten MVP finishes, all in ten fewer years to accomplish these feats. When you consider most of that came while pitching in the AL East in the 2000’s, without question the toughest offensive division, while on a bad team for most of it and in hitter’s parks, and Glavine pitched for one of the best teams in baseball, I give the hardware edge to Doc.

Halladay’s rate stats were also superior. He had a 2.97 ERA and 1.111 WHIP in his ten-year period of dominance, considerably better than Glavine’s numbers. Halladay has the better career FIP, as well (3.39 to 3.95). Glavine, for all his dominance, only had a pedestrian 1.78 K/BB ratio during his full-time years while Halladay’s was a loftier 4.57 during his stretch.

My ballot would include Roy Halladay the second he becomes eligible. His average season was better than Glavine’s, his trophy case is very similar in ten fewer years, and even though his career may not have the longevity of Glavine and some of the other best pitchers in the game, he does indeed have a very dominant ten-year stretch, which is the unwritten, unofficial minimum one can have to be considered dominant.

However, I feel if Doc were on this year’s ballot, he wouldn’t have been elected. There’s still a predilection among voters to over-value counting stats without much attention to their context. Some will cite Doc’s 203 career wins and mention Rick Reuschel, Kenny Rogers and Chuck Finley, others with similar win totals with no chance at enshrinement. Or his 2,117 strikeouts and offer Kevin Millwood, A.J. Burnett and David Wells as comparison.

Hopefully the culture will change in five years and voter turnover will open the doors for Halladay to receive the respect he deserves.

Presented By Diehards

]]> 0
Who Are You And What Have You Done With Ken Davidoff? Wed, 08 Jan 2014 15:02:19 +0000 I hardly ever agree with Ken Davidoff. I actually can’t remember the last time I did. But I have to give him credit. He nailed it 100% with his Hall of Fame ballot, or more specifically, his explanation of it. You can read the whole thing here. I can quibble with a choice or two, but he was dead on with his reasoning.

About his vote, he wrote, “I am a judge, but not a cop, an agent of vengeance or a babysitter. I don’t conduct my own investigation into players’ alleged performance-enhancing drug usage, nor do I seek to right past wrongs or protect “clean” players. If, and only if, baseball has punished someone for a violation, then I will factor that punishment into a candidacy.”

To that end, he emphatically supports assumed (but not proven) steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and also questionable-by-association (absurd) candidates Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. He did not vote for Rafael Palmeiro or Sammy Sosa because their failed drug test and corked bat incidents, respectively, damages their cases enough to fall off his ballot with other such qualified candidates. He did not state he would never vote for either player, just that their transgressions drop them below the threshold for this, a ballot lousy with no other such convicted players. 

His specific choices aside, I think he approached it the right way. He, as a writer and voter, is not the moral police and it bothers me when other voters and fans assume that role because of some almighty sense of entitlement. If there’s documented evidence, like in the cases of Palmeiro and Sosa, then that should by all means be considered. But as Davidoff also writes, The U.S. government couldn’t prove Bonds or Clemens used illegal PEDs, so who are any of us to punish them for it.

For what it’s worth, I’d have left Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker off my ballot in favor of Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez and Craig Biggio. Not that the former three don’t deserve votes and potential enshrinement, but the latter three, in my opinion, are more deserving than they.

Kudos to Davidoff. His is a Hall of Fame ballot, in more ways than one.

]]> 0
MMO Mailbag: Add Zobrist to the Fold? Wed, 11 Dec 2013 14:47:10 +0000 ben zobrist

David asks: The Rays are looking for a first baseman. Do you think they could consider trading Ben Zobrist, who would be a real upgrade, for a package like Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and a pitching prospect?

I’m not sure how this makes sense right now, David. Sure, Zobrist is better than Murphy, but the Mets’ needs are deeper at other areas. Second base is low on the list of priorities for the Mets. If they can get a return for Murphy and/or Ike, they should be looking for a shortstop or a legit first baseman, neither of which are on Zobrist’s résumé.

Daniel  Murphy pointAnother factor going against this is the relative lack of interest in both Ike and Murphy. There have been rumblings from Orlando that there’s not much buzz surrounding either player. In Ike’s case, that may be due to an unrealistic price tag, but the fact does remain.

Now, Zobrist is a terrific ball player. He’s a two-time All Star and has a top-10 and two other top-20 MVP finishes. He’s a career .263/.354/.435 hitter with a 75% stolen base success rate and he plays great defense at both second base and right field.

So it makes me wonder how strong the pitching prospect has to be to pry him away from a competitive team. Since the prospect isn’t going to contribute this season, or at least contribute minimally later in the season, he must have one heck of a ceiling for the Rays to unload an All Star for him and two guys that aren’t really generating any interest. It would be a significant downgrade for this season. And if it’s going to take a top prospect, is it worth it to use him for a guy that’s going to free agency after this season at a position that’s not dire?

I could see taking the chance if the Mets were a strong contender and second base was a big weakness for them, but they’re not and it’s not. If the two teams want to discuss a trade, the Mets should inquire about shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee. Wilmer Flores, Wilfredo Tovar and Ruben Tejada would be more than adequate second basemen in the event that the Mets acquire Lee (or any other legit shortstop) and Murphy has been traded for another area of need. I feel Zobrist is a poor allocation of resources at this time.

]]> 0
Xtreem Ideas: Mets Should Try Revolutionizing Free Agency This Winter Tue, 22 Oct 2013 00:56:06 +0000 Sounds so easy, don’t it? Just revolutionize a 40-year institution. Look, the bottom line is this: free agency is dying a slow death, anyway. Each year the class gets thinner and thinner because teams are locking up their young studs early and buying out their prime years so that the players that do eventually hit the market are all on the wrong side of 30 or middling, non-impact players, and usually both. The middling players are filler, and the occasional impact players on the wrong side of 30 are huge risks for most of the league to consider.

robinson-cano3-540x422Robinson Cano is a perfect example. He’s a top-three player in all of baseball and still in his prime, and his initial request of 10 years and $305 million will get his representatives laughed off the phone, but he’d likely end up signing something between teammates Mark Teixeira’s (8/180) and Alex Rodriguez’s (10/275) deals. I’d make a rough estimate at 8 years and $200 million dollars. Cano turns 31 next week and therefore would spend the bulk of the contract playing beyond age 34 than before it.

It’s apparent that the Mets hierarchy is adverse to such risks, and I applaud them for it. It’s clear that most of baseball is as well, which is why this conundrum exists to begin with. The biggest deals are going to the younger stars entering their prime, not the ones leaving it. But there are holes to fill and some supreme talent available.

According to Baseball Reference (who makes educated estimates on arbitration costs; Cot’s does not), the Mets will pay out $54.8 million to their players under guaranteed contracts and eligible for arbitration, as well as bought-out options and deferred payments. This of course includes arbitration players such as Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Greg Burke, Jordany Valdespin and other players whose return to the Mets is questionable. It’s safe to assume not everyone will return, so let’s round off committed payroll to $50 million for the sake of argument.

I don’t wish to get into a debate on just how much the Mets will spend over the winter. That’s not the point. The point is to come up with a way the Mets can sign free agents, but alleviate the overwhelming risks in doing so. Here’s the answer:

Overpay in money to keep the contract length shorter. Simple, right?

If Cano wants to have the highest AAV in baseball history, fine. Let him have it. Five years, $150 million. I’d even give him $175 million for five years. Is it that asinine? If he would get $25 million a year in a “normal” contract, wouldn’t you rather pay him an extra $5-$10 million a year to NOT have to pay him $25-$50 million over those final three least productive years? You could sell him on the idea that he’d get his $30 million a year and allay his issues with “pay cut” by pointing out he could still sign another contract at age 36. Signing Cano wouldn’t pigeon-hole the Mets into looking for a power bat from the left side in the outfield, because he would be their lefty power bat and allow them to simply find an outfielder, not necessarily an impact outfielder. He would also allow the Mets to shop Daniel Murphy in a package to bring back something to fill another hole.

Hiroki KurodaAnd they should do the same with Hiroki Kuroda, in my opinion the best free agent starting pitcher available. It’s been widely speculated that Kuroda will play for either the Yankees or the Dodgers, or go back to Japan. He made $15 million pitching in New York in 2013, so why not offer him $20 million to do the same in 2014. Kuroda might possibly be the best free agent fit for the Mets (with apologies to Cano and Shin-Soo Choo) because he would only sign for one year, which is exactly the length of time it would take Matt Harvey to return. He would also be the veteran presence the young pitching staff needs.

While that wouldn’t be a sacrifice at all for Kuroda, who wouldn’t have to move and get a handsome raise for not doing so, would Cano make that sacrifice? He has every right to look for every last cent he can get, and if he chooses not to leave $25-$50 million on the table and try for the longest, richest contract he can get, then good luck to him. But achieving his desire to have the highest AAV in MLB history and still signing another contract at age 36 to make up for the money he “lost” in the deal are inherent positives in taking that hypothetical deal from the Mets.

Suppose this all comes to fruition. That leaves the Mets with a manageable $100 million payroll. To put that in perspective, it would have ranked the Mets 15th in baseball if they sported that payroll in 2013 and would only be roughly $9 million more than their actual payroll. It’s likely Cano wouldn’t take that deal. It’s even less likely the Mets would spend $100 million in 2014. But it would get the Mets the best hitter and best pitcher available, fill a few holes, do it for a reasonable total payroll cost, and send one hell of a shockwave through Major League Baseball.

]]> 0
Manuel Out; Sandberg In Fri, 16 Aug 2013 18:38:53 +0000

Update 3:20 PM

According to ESPN, the Phillies made the decision not to renew Manuel’s contract, so the decision to part ways now was made to see what Sandberg can do. Manuel, to his credit, pulled no punches. He made it clear he did not resign, saying “”I’m mad because they took the best seat in the house from me.”

Manuel has been offered a spot in the organization, but is considering all options. “What I need to do is get some time off to sit and think,” he said. “I think I can manage for a few more years, two or three more years.”

Original Post

Several outlets, including CBS Sports, are reporting that the Philadelphia Phillies will officially make a managerial change any minute now. Charlie Manuel, at the helm since 2005, will be replaced by current third base coach Ryne Sandberg.

Manuel won five division titles with the Phillies, two National League Championships and the 2008 World Series, but the team has struggled the last season and a half and has finished progressively worse since the 2008 season. In 2009, the Phillies lost the World Series.

In 2010, they lost in the NLCS. In 2011, they lost in the NLDS and in 2011, and in 2012 they didn’t make the postseason for the first time since the 2006 season, the same year they last finished without a winning record.

Ryne Sandberg’s post-playing career includes managerial positions in the Cubs system from 2007-2010, but left the organization he played the bulk of his Hall of Fame career with after being passed over the major league gig in favor of Mike Quade.

The Phillies, with whom Sandberg was drafted and began his career, snapped him up to manage their AAA affiliate, and this season was his first on a big league field, as the third base coach.

The Phillies are currently fourth in the NL East at 53-67 and the .442 winning percentage would be the worst the Phillies have seen since their 97-loss season in 2000.

More on this story as it develops.

]]> 0
Is Jurickson Profar Worth What It Would Take To Get Him? Wed, 14 Aug 2013 19:02:38 +0000 Cincinnati Reds v Texas Rangers

Mailbag time again at MMO. This time, Marcus asks:

Long time reader; first time question asker…

What’s with all the Jurickson Profar love? He’s rated number 1 by popular prospect polls; his minor league numbers (with my un-sabrey-eye) don’t seem to justify his rankings. Heck, he was ranked in front of Wil Myers who had some killer numbers. I get that he plays a premier position; but it’s not like he’s been a 20/20 guy with a 330 avg./400 obp through the minors. I read somewhere (maybe at MMO) that the Rangers have a knack for over hyping their prospects. I’m hearing some crazy trade proposals involve Wheeler, Montero or Thor. What’s your take? What back ups the high ranking? Hype machine or some metric or advanced scouting I don’t get. B/c the killer traditional (avg., hr, rbi) numbers are not there.

Thanks, Marcus. I’ll begin with the disclaimer that what I write below isn’t MMO’s stance; it’s mine. Perhaps some writers might agree with me, but I did a small poll to a scant three other writers, including Joe D., and it seems that I’m on my own here. So here it is: Profar is legit.

I think you underestimate the tools and skills Profar has, as well as the numbers he’s put up. I’ll also remind you that prospect rankings are less about what the player is currently doing in the minors performance-wise and more about what his skills and tools say his potential could be. Of course, reaching that potential isn’t a sure thing, so it’s very possible Myers ends up with the better career, but Profar has the higher upside.

If you’re judging him based on his .239/.301/.354 major league line in only 234 plate appearances at ages 19 and 20, I feel you’re not looking at the big picture. He’s had excellent offensive seasons in the minor leagues, and always played young for his league to boot. He hit .286/.390/.493 with 12 home runs as a 18-year-old in High A, .281/.368/.452 with 14 home runs in AA at 19 before his call up last season and hit .278/.370/.438 with four home runs in 36 games this season in AAA at 20 before heading back to Arlington, probably for good. He also stole 45 bases at a 76% success rate in those minor league seasons. Those are outstanding offensive numbers for a top-of-the-order shortstop. There were only 14 hitters in all of baseball last season that hit at least .280/.375/.460, a rough mean slash line for those three seasons. And not all 14 played exceptional defense at a premium position.

Which brings me to his defense. He’s widely considered (as you probably know from reading the prospect polls) one of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues. But don’t take my word for it. I’ve only seen him play a handful of times. I went looking for scouting reports from trusted people that have seen him plenty and I wasn’t surprised with what I found. Consider this from our good friend John Sickles from before this season:

He does all the stuff you want a prospect to do. He hits for a solid average. He hits for power, good power for a shortstop anyway. He steals bases, and he does it at a sabermetrically-sound percentage. He draws walks. He plays excellent defense. He works hard, thrives under pressure, is highly intelligent, and has a great personality. Jurickson Profar does not do the things that you don’t want a prospect to do. He doesn’t strike out too much. He doesn’t swing at pitches three feet off the plate. He doesn’t run himself into outs. He doesn’t make a huge number of errors. He doesn’t snarl at the press or alienate his teammates.

Take all the positive things, and the lack of negative things, and combine that with a guy who has been very young for his levels and you have, well, Jurickson Profar. With Bryce HarperMike Trout, and Manny Machado safely ensconced in the majors, Profar is now the best prospect in baseball. With additional physical maturity, this is a guy who could win Gold Gloves while hitting .300, hitting 15 homers, stealing 20 bases, drawing 80 walks, and charming puppies and kittens and beat reporters all across North America. Grade A.

Also from John:

On defense, he features plus range and plus arm strength at shortstop. His error rate isn’t bad for such a young player, and his reliability will continue to improve. Despite average running speed, he’s adept on the bases and a threat to steal. His makeup and intelligence are exceptional. He has no significant flaws, and the main thing he needs is simple experience.

Professional scout Mike Newman had this to say:

In the case of Jurickson Profar, I’ve scoured my notes and video to identify problem areas in his all-around game, but I simply can’t find any. At present, the young shortstop is as complete a position prospect as one could hope to find at any level of the minor leagues.

Baseball America graded him as follows on the 20-80 scouting scale: Bat: 70. Power: 60. Speed: 55. Defense: 65. Arm: 60. For reference, the scale is defined as:

70+: MVP, Perennial All-Star – Front-line ace pitcher; superstar position player

60-69: Above average, All-Star caliber – #1 or #2 pitcher; position player among the best

55-59: Solid MLB player – #3 or #4 pitcher or top middle relief; solid starting position player

50-54: Average MLB player – Back end starter, average relief; position player that could start on most teams.

45-49: Backup – Spot starter, fair relief; utility/bench player

40-44: Fringe player – Up and down, could make the team for lower-tier club

30-39: AA or AAA – Emergency call-up

20-29: Low minors

Additionally, the good folks at Baseball America add:

To paraphrase one Rangers instructor, Profar may not have the most power, the most speed or the strongest arm on the field, but typically he’s the best player out there. A natural right-handed hitter, he learned to switch-hit after signing and now shows uncommon bat speed from both sides of the plate, lending him more power than his lean 6-foot frame suggests. Profar surprises some opponents with his pop—which is above-average for a middle infielder—but he may have to tone down his swing to maximize his overall production. He takes a disciplined approach to hitting, with strong knowledge of the strike zone that ought to make him a consistent .300 hitter in his prime. An above-average defender at shortstop, Profar has instincts that outstrip his plus range. His hands and arm are above-average as well. Some of his throws to first base tend to sail when he gets on the side of the ball, but that’s just a matter of adjustment. He has solid speed and knows how to use it on the bases, stealing 16 bases in 20 tries in 2012. Observers rave about Profar’s mental toughness, leadership skills and grace under pressure. “He’s all about winning and getting better,” one club official said. As his body matures, he ought to hold up better under the rigors of the long season.

So, Marcus, to answer your question “What backs up the high ranking? Hype machine or some metric or advanced scouting?” it’s a combination of all three. His stats are excellent, the scouting reports back it up, and the hype is real. He’s #1. And what makes him more unique is that those hypothetical trade offers you read about, from the Mets or any other team, that include two or three of a team’s top prospects aren’t normally offered for a prospect. Those are usually reserved for young studs, and it’s Profar getting that kind of attention. He’s going to be something else.

Hat tip to Teddy Klein for contributing the Baseball America scouting report and scouting grade.

]]> 26
Potential Trade Deadline Targets For Mets Thu, 04 Jul 2013 05:06:57 +0000 As the non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer, the Mets find themselves in what’s normally a seller’s situation. They are ten games under .500 and eleven games out of the second Wild Card spot. However, with 2014 being the year everything is supposed to start coming together, what with (presumably) plenty of money to spend and the top two starters both on the major league roster, the Mets can afford to add pieces via trade that are already on multi-year contracts. Here are three options:

Glen Perkins, closer for the Minnesota Twins. I should open with the declaration that the Twins aren’t shopping Perkins and have spread the word he’s unavailable. That said, the Twins have recently dealt Denard Span and Ben Revere and appear to be reloading, though one can argue that they were never really loaded to begin with.  And since Glen Perkins is not named Mariano Rivera, he’s just as viable as any other relief pitcher to hit a valley as low as how high his peak is right now.

Currently, Perkins is sporting a 2.05/1.88/2.19 pitcher’s slash (ERA/FIP/xFIP), an incredible 6.14 K/BB, a WHIP of 0.82 and opponents are hitting .168/.224/.271 against him. He’s in his third year as a full time reliever and each year he’s gotten better. The 30-year-old’s contract is very team friendly. It calls for a $2.5 million salary this season and $3.75 in each of the next two seasons. There’s a team option for $4.25 million in 2016 with a $300,00 buyout.

What makes the Mets a viable trade partner is that the Twins have only Kyle Gibson in their current rotation that’s viewed as a viable long-term option, and Alex Meyer should arrive next year, but that’s all, at least as far as Twins pitching prospects on Baseball America’s Top 100 go. The organization is not heavy on pitching, and that’s something the Mets could spare. It’ll cost a lot, but the Mets should check in and get an idea of the price. Naturally, I disagree with my colleague Gerry Silverman on trading Bobby Parnell. That could be a devastating back end of the bullpen for the next few years.

Jose Veras, closer for the Houston Astros. Veras is a step down from Perkins in performance, but also in price. He won’t cost more than maybe one mid-level prospect or two lower level prospects. The Astros are always ready to deal and have made it known that they would move anyone on the roster.

Veras, 32, currently owns a 3.60/3.83/3.71 slash, which isn’t great, but his peripherals tell a bit of a different story. He’s striking out more than a batter per inning and is posting line drive and ground ball rates considerably better than his career averages. This has been evident in his recent performance. Through May, Veras had a 4.50 ERA and a 26:10 K/BB ratio. In June, however, his ERA was 1.64 and he only walked four batters against twelve strikeouts.

Veras is only guaranteed though this season, making $1.85 million, but has an option for next season worth $3.25 million. There are escalators based on games finished, but if Veras were to be acquired, the Mets can leave Parnell (or maybe Perkins) in the closer’s role and negate that incentive. And $3.25 million is not bad for his production when you consider how expensive saves are on the free agent market. When he would hit free agency after 2014, the Mets would have a much clearer picture on the roles of Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia.

Luke Gregerson, set-up man for the San Diego Padres. We’ve been through this before, when it came out that the Padres offered Gregerson for Daniel Murphy. Gregerson has been incredibly consistent in a role that doesn’t offer much in the way of consistency from year to year. He’s a reliable back-end bullpen arm that has struggled lately due to workload, but if the Mets trade for him, he’d be entering a bullpen that has recently been clicking on all cylinders. He wouldn’t have to be called on four days a week.

Gregerson is still arbitration eligible and the earliest he can hit free agency is after 2014. Under control for another full year, like Veras, would give the Mets time to get some arms healthy and back into rhythm. Unlike Veras, however, Gregerson will be highly sought after and wouldn’t come cheap. But the Padres have engaged the Mets in trade talks before, so I don’t see why they couldn’t again.

In the interest of showing both sides, the following are two players I don’t want the Mets to trade for: Starlin Castro and Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton only joined this list Tuesday afternoon after I heard Peter Gammons on with Joe and Evan. Gammons agreed that while a package centered around Zack Wheeler could get the job done, he doesn’t think Stanton has any interest whatsoever in signing an extension in New York. That changes things. I was all for emptying the farm for Stanton, but of course under the condition that he signs an extension. Even the most ardent supporter of acquiring Stanton would agree that Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, etc. or any package including several of these names cannot be traded for anyone for only three years of their service.

I don’t know where Gammons got this information, but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. If Stanton would be agreeable to an extension, then proceed. But if he plans on hitting free agency as early as possible, all bets are off.

Consider me someone who’s lukewarm at best on Castro. He burst on the scene in 2010 and then had an even better 2011, but his 2012 season was merely average and he’s struggling mightily in 2013. He’s regressing big time, but even when he was on top of the world, there were red flags. His BABIP in 2010 and 2011 was .346 and .344, respectively; it dipped to .315 last seasons and is down to .276 in 2013. However, there’s been no drastic change in his batted ball rates or his plate discipline over his career and therein lays the red flag. It leads me to consider the idea that he benefitted from a good amount of luck early in his career and his regression is due to normalization.

There’s also the fact that he’s not a very good defensive shortstop. You can look at any stats you prefer, and they all agree. His fielding percentage is poor, his UZR/150 is poor for his career (while a one-year sample is hardly accurate, a four-year sample is enough to base an opinion on) and his manager saw an issue earlier in the year. He’s a terrible base-stealer. His career 67% success rate is killing his team. His walk rate is very low, and his marginal pop in a hitters haven like Wrigley would translate poorly to Citi Field. To recap, a top of the lineup hitter supplements his potentially decent batting average with an inability to draw walks or steal bases, he can’t play defense and has minimal pop. And would likely cost a ton in prospects.

Sure, he’s only 23 and could figure it all out, but is it worth the risk? After seeing how his good seasons could easily have been enhanced by luck, I don’t want to risk all he would cost on him. Not at all.

I’ll leave you with a loosely formed idea. When researching Gregerson, I came across an internet chat held by Bill Center, a 30-year Padres beat writer for the UT San Diego, in which he stated that he thinks the Padres deem shortstop Everth Cabrera untouchable, but might possibly deal him if a major league shortstop is returned.

Everth Cabrera. Now there’s a guy I like. He has some limitations, but he’s someone who can really help the Mets. He’s finally getting a shot everyday in his first full season and he’s not disappointing. Currently, he sits at .291/.381/.386, though his line drive rate is much higher than his career and may not be sustainable. I, however, would give the benefit of the doubt to a guy who’s finally playing everyday and trending upwards at 26 years old. He’s an incredible base stealer with an 82% success rate, is playing the best defense of his career and is only just entering arbitration after this season. He’s not a free agent till after 2016.

Well. I’m not a trusted confidant of the Padres front office, but I know they employ at least one person who probably thinks highly of Ruben Tejada. They’ve already offered Gregerson for Murphy in the past. Without bringing up prospects or cash considerations, because I don’t know the ins and outs of the Padres farm system, could a deal possibly be worked out centered on Tejada and Murphy for Cabrera and Gregerson?

That could move Omar Quintanilla to second base. Or maybe the fun’s not over.  Maybe the Mets look at a reunion with Jeff Keppinger. Jon Heyman has mentioned that Keppinger has been brought up in White Sox trade talks so far this season. Keppinger would fit at second base for the Mets pretty well. He’s not a great defensive player, but let’s be honest. He’d be replacing Daniel Murphy.

Over Keppinger’s last four seasons, he’s hitting .288/.330/.386 while Murphy’s last four seasons amounts to .287/.329/.418. That surprised me a little. Almost identical, with the exception that Murphy’s propensity for hitting doubles gives him the SLG% edge. While the defense is a wash, Murphy’s doubles can be offset by Keppinger’s defensive flexibility around the infield and his right-handedness. Keppinger is also in the first year of a team-friendly three-year contract.

Could the Mets work out a separate deal for Keppinger, or maybe involve themselves in a three-team trade? Keppinger currently starts at third base for the White Sox and as luck would have it, the Padres have been listening to offers for third baseman Chase Headley since last season. Then who would play third base for the Padres? Daniel Murphy. See how it all seems to fit? Maybe they choose to keep Murphy at second and play über-prospect Jedd Gyorko at third base. They have options.

Like I said, it’s a loosely formed idea. Prospects would be heavy in this one because Headley is a top third baseman and the White Sox are looking to retool. I don’t have insight to the Padres and White Sox respective farm systems. But it’s fun to think about.

]]> 0
Featured Post: Breaking Down Zack Wheeler’s Debut Thu, 20 Jun 2013 12:31:19 +0000 Zack Wheeler MLB Debut

I noticed a few things during Zack Wheeler’s start I’d like to point out. A few things impressed me and there are some things that are noteworthy after doing some research:

  • Of Wheeler’s seven strikeouts, six were swinging and it was only the opposing pitcher that took a called third strike.
  • All seven third strikes were fastballs. Six were four-seamers, none of those were less than 95 mph, and the other was a 90 mph cutter.
  • Wheeler threw 23 pitches in his debut inning. 21 were four-seam fastballs, one slider and one curveball.
  • Wheeler’s command was off on his breaking pitches. He spotted his fastball when he needed to and threw that pitch 73% of the time, which is how he managed to limit the damage despite runners on base in every inning. Here’s the breakdown:
    • Curveballs: Eleven for three strikes (27%)
    • Sliders: Fifteen for eight strikes (53%)
    • Changeups: Two for two strikes (100%)
    • Fastballs: 74 for 42 strikes (57%)
  • Of his 42 fastball strikes, only ten (24%) were put in play.
  • Zack got Braves hitters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone (O-zone%) 19.2% of the time according to PITCHf/x plate discipline. One start doesn’t tell a story, but a sampling of some of the best pitchers force opposing hitters to expand the zone at least 30% of the time. Note the chart, and note three Mets on there:

CaptureAuthor’s note: these are not the top 21. This is a sampling of the best pitchers and I had to reach down to include Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Clay Buchholz for accurate comparison. Jeremy Hefner is actually 43rd in MLB in this particular stat, Dillon Gee is 24th and Matt Harvey is 17th.

  • Average PITCHf/x velocity:
    • Fastball (four-seam): 95.4 mph
    • Fastball (cutter): 89.8 mph
    • Slider: 88.7 mph
    • Curveball: 77.3 mph
    • Changeup: 85.6 mph
  • Wheeler got swinging strikes on 9.8% of his pitches, which (if he were qualified), would put him right between Hiroki Kuroda and Jarrod Parker in the top 30 in MLB. The really good pitchers average between 10.5% and 11% and above 11% is where the likes of Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Hisashi Iwakuma and Verlander live.

Final Thoughts 

I thought Wheeler did even better than I expected. I predicted Wheeler to only get through 5.1 innings in his 100 pitches while giving up two earned runs, but his six shutout were a pleasant surprise. His wildness was to be expected in his first career start, but it bears keeping an eye on. He should be commanding his pitches better as the novelty of being in the majors wears off.

The slider could be Wheeler’s most important pitch. If he can’t completely master the curveball, he’ll need to have that slider be his best breaking pitch because of its resemblance to his fastball out of the hand. If hitters have to sit on his fastball because of its dominance, a slider that looks like a fastball for 50 feet could be devastating if he can control it. As he becomes more polished, I’d like to see three mph shaved off his breaking pitches, as that variance from his fastball could make a world of difference.

Once he proves he can get his breaking pitches over for strikes, his O-zone% should jump rather quickly. I was, however, impressed with his ability to miss bats overall. One would think that throwing the fastball 73% of the time and not getting his breaking pitches over would tip the batters the second and third time through the order what was coming, but Wheeler still managed to notch seven swinging strikes in the 67 pitches (10.4%) he threw from the third inning on, when the Braves started their second time through the order. He actually missed bats at a greater pace after the Braves had seen him once through already. That speaks to the authority of his fastball.

My esteemed colleague and fellow immortal Satish put it ever so succinctly: “I think he did everything as expected tonight. The stuff was electric and he was nervous as hell. That was Wheeler without his command. Wheeler with his command…oh boy.”

Check out Grade 80 where Matt Koenig has even more on Wheeler’s debut.

]]> 0
Mets By The Numbers: Comparing The Seasons Of Gee And Hefner Sat, 15 Jun 2013 13:18:30 +0000 With Zack Wheeler’s arrival Tuesday, the Mets will spend some time utilizing a six-man rotation designed to afford Dillon Gee and Jon Niese a little extra rest to straighten out some tendinitis issues. That won’t last forever, however, and at some point, either Gee, Jeremy Hefner or Shaun Marcum will head to the bullpen. It’ll be a few more starts from each before a decision is made, but I’m going to assume Marcum bounces back and stays in the rotation. For this post, I want to examine and compare Gee and Hefner based on their performances through today. (Note: Hefner’s numbers reflect his performance as a starter and do not include his one inning in relief.)



The numbers at a glance clearly favor Hefner. Gee’s edge in both FIP and xFIP are tied to his edge in strikeouts and walks, but we can see that Hefner’s done a much better job inducing weak contact and keeping opposing hitters off base.

jeremy hefner springThere are a few things to keep in mind, however. While Hefner has been relatively consistent throughout the year, Gee’s season has been split in two. His miserable beginning has been somewhat offset by a torrid stretch recently. If he can keep it up, after three more stats for each, the numbers may even out slightly.

There’s also the issue of that abnormally high BABIP for Gee. His worst BABIP in his short career came last season at .301. What’s the reason for such a high BABIP? His batted ball rates jump out at me. He’s allowing more line drives and fewer ground balls this season, and more well-struck balls lead to more hits. His hits-per-nine at 11.2 is considerably higher than any other season in his career. It again should be noted the stark difference in recent Gee and early Gee, but it bears noting that batters have been teeing off on him this season.

Hefner’s low BABIP, while at first glance could be misconstrued as luck because he seems to have an issue with the long ball, doesn’t strike me as a surefire “regress to the mean” candidate. He’s got the fourth-lowest line drive rate amongst qualified starters in all of baseball and his contact rates bear a striking resemblance to those of Hisashi Iwakuma, one of the best pitchers in the game this season. Of course, Iwakuma keeps the ball in the park a bit better and has a remarkable 6.21 K/BB, hence his dominance.

dillon geeThe final thing I want to bring up in defense of Gee is the recent revelation that he’s been pitching with flexor tendinitis around the forearm area. It makes you have to wonder how much that played a part in his early season struggles and his ability to snap off a good slider. His best pitch in 2012, the slider has yielded below-average results this season. His pitch f/x run value is nearly four runs lower than last season and Gee has lost around one mph off all his pitches from the year before. Gee admitted that during his recent gem against the Cardinals, his forearm tightened up in the second inning and that he probably couldn’t have made that start on regular rest had two consecutive rainouts a week ago not pushed him back a few days.

I’m concerned about the tendinitis issue in both Gee and Niese, and before Gee goes out there and pitches for his job, it might serve both him and the Mets well to debate skipping his start entirely after the turn through the rotation that includes Tuesday’s doubleheader. During the turn after that, the Mets might also think about skipping Niese.

The one thing I hope doesn’t factor into the decision, its bullpen credentials. Being able to handle a relief role is a nice plus, sure, but a starting pitcher is far more valuable to a team than a set-up reliever, and my hope is that the decision is based solely on who the better starter is, not who the better reliever is. Before the Mets can make a decision on whether Gee or Hefner moves to the pen, it behooves everyone to get Gee healthy and see how long he can continue stringing together dominant performances.

It’ll be a tough decision, but it’s a good problem to have.

]]> 0