Mets Merized Online » Mets Thoughts http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:24:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Mariners Lockup One Of Their Own, Will Mets Be Ready To Do Likewise When Time Comes? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mariners-lockup-one-of-their-own-will-mets-be-ready-to-do-likewise-when-time-comes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mariners-lockup-one-of-their-own-will-mets-be-ready-to-do-likewise-when-time-comes.html/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:25:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170773 kyle seager

Kyle Seager signed a $100 million dollar 7-year extension with the Mariners on Monday. The deal absorbs his final two years of salary arbitration and tacks on five more years and a team option, keeping him in a Mariners uniform until 2022 (his 34th birthday).

Seager is something of an oddity. He was drafted out of the University of North Carolina in 2009 at 22 and was never a highly ranked prospect. He has nevertheless established himself as a power threat at the hot corner, albeit a modest one — dampened by Safeco Field. He is also the first player to sign a nine-figure deal without at least one .800 OPS season.

Younger exceptional players like Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria, and (yes) Ryan Braun, and even somewhat less exceptional players like Seager are increasingly signing extensions that swallow up their prime years, while on the other end of the “team control” spectrum you have older but still productive players getting qualifying offers. The combined effect of this pinching severely attenuates the free agency talent pool at its margins.

In the past, players like Seager were more likely to hold out until their six year team commitment expired, entering free agency with their prime still in the offing … these days that doesn’t happen. From the player’s standpoint the incentive is twofold, they’d prefer to have the money now rather than later (a bird in hand), and they’re lured by the promise of long term security, mitigating the risk of injury or decline. Most players like Seager would be foolish not to sign these extensions. If you look at dollars per WAR it is also precisely in these types (and even pre-arbitration) players that teams are relying on for wins.

Seager is sort of a template on how to maximize team control over a player’s prime – eerily reminiscent of reserve clause “fruits of development” labor arguments. You draft a promising older player out of college, delay his start time, let him play out his first couple of pre-arbitration years at the major league level, and then, provided he performs at a high level, you sign him to a “fan friendly” extension absorbing his prime production seasons.

One benefit of these retention tactics is that teams get to keep homegrown stars — which is good for the fans, but a disemboweled free agent talent pool will eventually bring salaries down — which is good for MLB. Now it’s usually at this point in the discussion when I get some push-back. In spite of all the wasted sunken dollars, free agent compensation has not decreased. Matt Swartz in The Hardball Times, looked at Dollars/WAR in 2013 and it increased slightly.

I find this almost as mind boggling as the Pablo Sandoval contract. I mean I know pandas are endangered but five years and $95 million?

So what gives? Shin-Soo Choo got $18 million last year for .2 WAR, then there’s B.J. Upton, Brian McCann, Josh Hamilton … the “unmitigated contract disaster” list gets longer every year. Why do teams continue to spend lavishly on free agents? Why would the Red Sox spend $188 million on two free agents a year removed from a purge that saw them unload a slew of cumbersome contracts? MLB’s unprecedented media cash flow may have something to do with it, but still.

It could also be that teams still believe in having a strong mix of veterans and youth and that the Red Sox simply feel they had the wrong veteran presence before (Hanley, in left? Really?). Perhaps, like the Mets and Michael Cuddyer, they feel having the right veteran influence can mean all the difference. Still, I seriously doubt a savvy organization like the Red Sox doesn’t understand the inherent risks in giving out long FA contracts given the data. It’s almost like some teams impulsively throw money around just for the heck of it … too bad the Mets aren’t one of them. By necessity the Mets are betting on their own generation of young controllable stars.

Players like Michael Conforto could (contractually) take a very similar path to Kyle Seager. Like Seager, Conforto was drafted as a college player and will probably not see his major league clock start for another couple of years. Conforto would then be around 27 or 28 before the Mets are pressed into deciding whether to offer him a pre-arbitration extension which would give them control over him until around his 33rd birthday … right around the average point of decline. If he is still playing at a high level? You Q.O. him, bam, done.

brandon nimmo

The earliest Brandon Nimmo will see the major leagues is late in 2015 by which time he’ll be 22. If he proves to be all-star caliber then an extension would take him through his 30th birthday … not quite optimal but between an option year and the Q.O. the Mets would still get him for most of his prime. People keep praising the Mets for being patient, but I wonder how much of this patience is an economic consideration orchestrated to ensure control of players through their most valuable seasons.

Now Dilson Herrera was brought up at the age of 20, and, like Reyes, could see his clock run out during his prime … why? Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Maybe it was organizational need, or maybe they see Herrera as the sort of complimentary impact player who is worth the gamble. The Mets seem to be taking “a little of everything” approach. They have the long developing High School draftees as well as the fast track college players, they have players who have stepped on all the rungs as well as players who have skipped levels, they have phenoms and dark horses alike in their pitching ranks. The Mets minor leagues are an exercise in overkill … which is as it should be when you consider failure rates.

One thing is clear, there will be a point in the next few seasons when the Mets will be faced with some tough decisions on whether to extend a growing list of high performing youngsters. Between Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, followed by Syndergaard, Nimmo and Conforto, it amounts to a $100 million (or more) extension being doled out every year or two starting at around 2016 … that’s an awful lot of spending from an organization that appears to have completely forgotten how that works.

It’s worrisome from a fan’s perspective … especially when you consider that the only thing worse than this recent stretch of losing would be to let all the fruits of our suffering walk away one by one. All we can do is hope Sandy Alderson has his $100 million dollar extension checkbook at the ready.

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These Rule 5 Draft Prospects Could Help Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/these-rule-5-draft-prospects-could-help-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/these-rule-5-draft-prospects-could-help-mets.html/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:53:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170503 delino deshields

Delino DeShields Jr. could be a solid Rule 5 selection.

With the Mets 40 man roster currently at full capacity without adding a possible shortstop or left-handed reliever it may seem unlikely they would take someone in the Rule 5 draft. But there are still players on the Mets’ 40 who are very vulnerable starting with Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Dario Alvarez, Cesar Puello, and Gonzalez Germen.

The Mets have actually been fairly active in the Rule 5 draft in recent years albeit they’ve sold their picks the last two years. The Mets’ biggest Rule 5 success is bittersweet because they were smart enough to draft Darren O’Day but not smart enough to keep him.

Now that all teams have made their roster decisions lets take a look at a few players that could possibly help the Mets.

Sean Gilmartin - LHP from the Twins organization that was drafted in the 1st round in 2011. Came to the Twins in a trade with the Braves for Ryan Doumit. He has been almost exclusively a starter in his career but the Mets could use him as a swing-man/second lefty. Pitched in AAA all last year and held lefties to a line of .201/.219/.235, and he allowed just 5 extra base hits in 149 at bats. Here is a scouting report on Gilmartin from Tenth Inning Stretch, “Currently, he is ranked as the Braves’ 10th best prospect for 2014 by Baseball America that also ranks his changeup as the best in the Braves’ system and suggest that he has 4th starter upside.”

Aaron Dott - A LOOGY in the Yankees organization who was great against lefties last year, holding them to a .179/.250/.214 line. FanGraphs said this about him, “Rule 5 madness will be here soon… Name to consider is LHP Aaron Dott, a Double-A Yankees reliever with 14.0 K/9 over last three years vs LHH.”

Mark Montgomery - A right-handed reliever also in the Yankees farm system. Talent isn’t a question here, proven by his career minor league numbers; 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.2 H/9 and a 12.4 SO/9 ratio. Problem has been nagging shoulder injuries that limited him over the last couple of years. Scouting report from Scouting Book, “A stocky righthander who many see as the future closer in the Bronx, Yankee prospect Mark Montgomery was showing off an MLB-quality fastball and slider combination while still in high school.”

David Rollins - Another lefty pitcher who has experience starting and relieving. Was part of the massive 10-player trade in 2012 between the Jays and Astros. Here is a scouting report from Outside Pitch, “He can throw his sinker in the 89-92 mph range and mixes his pitches very well. His slider and changeup have the potential to be solid secondary pitches in the future, but his off-speed command is something he is still improving on.”

Andy Oliver - Keeping with the theme of lefty relievers, Oliver is the only one on this list who has already pitched in the Majors with Detroit back in 2010. He was ranked the 87th best prospect in MLB pre-2011 and never even pitched below AA. Had a big strikeout season in 2014 for AAA Indianapolis with 85 in 64 innings. Only allowed 35 hits but also walked 47 batters.

Delino DeShields Jr.- The 8th overall pick from the 2010 draft was rated as the 66th best prospect in MLB pre-2014 by MLB.com. Has played LF, CF, and 2B in the Minors and stole 54 bases last year while hitting .236/.346/.360. Obviously a down year offensively, but not far removed from 2013 when he hit .317/.405/.468 with 51 stolen bases (101 SB in 2012) and 14 triples.

If the Mets do expend a Rule 5 pick I think it will be on someone who can fill the a second lefty role in the bullpen given the current crazy market prices. I mean Zach Duke got an AAV of $5 million a year… I like DeShields and think he could replace Eric Young pretty easily and he actually has some offensive upside.

Problem is the Mets don’t select until 15th and DeShields, Gilmartin, and Montgomery will probably be off the boards by then. Other intriguing players who could be selected in the draft, but don’t fit Mets needs include right-handers Cody Martin, James Needy, Daniel Winkler, outfielders Mel Rojas and Zach Borenstein, catcher Jose Briceno, and infielder Andy Burns.

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MMO Mailbag: Does Collins’ Job Depend On A Hot Start? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-mailbag-does-collins-job-depend-on-a-hot-start.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-mailbag-does-collins-job-depend-on-a-hot-start.html/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:49:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170428 Terry-Collins-New-York-Mets-Manager

Darren asks…

How important is it for Terry Collins that this team gets off to a great start in April? Considering how most fans including me disagreed with the decision to (bringing) him back, you have to think that he’s on an incredibly short leash, right?

Daniel replies…

To be honest, I don’t think Terry Collins is as big a part of the problem as some critics claim he is.  However, I don’t think he’s part of the solution either.  When asked about their manager, no Mets player has ever had anything bad to say, but the response is never what you’d consider a ringing endorsement either.  I see Collins as a faithful field general who acts as a voice for the front office.  I think his job is to defer to GM Sandy Alderson on all clubhouse issues and in the process, I think that is where players lose the mutual respect that comes from having a close personal relationship with their manager

This is very similar to how Alderson runs the organization, rarely getting close to players in order to preserve the best interest of the business.  From the viewpoint of a shareholder, I would have a wealth of respect for how this team has maximized it’s assets over the years and is now poised to take over NYC with a young, talented core of stars.  Those who trusted the GM’s vision and bought low on minority shares when the club wanted to raise capital a few years back must now be giddy.  Collins is an essential cog in the wheel that turns this machine and effectively renders a successful business model.

From the standpoint of a fan though, I want to feel close to the manager.  I want him to symbolize stability, discipline and a winning culture.  I want the players to respect him and trust his leadership so that they give their best effort day in and day out.  Right now, I’m still a little skeptical that this team fits that mold.

Where these two sides meet is at the corner of cash and flow.  If this team does get off to a bad start and it has a bad impact on ticket sales, than Collins may find himself in hot water and the team may give the fans what they want in an act to preserve the best interest of the business.  Yes, I mean Wally Backman.

Regardless, there’s a lot be excited about.  There’s a wealth of young talent and a healthy mix of veteran leadership to go with it.  The NL East is going to be competitive, but as long as everyone does their job, I think Terry Collins will do his just fine.

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The Impact Of Granderson’s Nine Missed Home Runs http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/the-impact-of-grandersons-nine-missed-home-runs.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/the-impact-of-grandersons-nine-missed-home-runs.html/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:38:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170369 curtis granderson

Marc Carig of Newsday illustrated the impact that the new dimensions of Citi Field would of had on Curtis Granderson last season.

According to Sandy Alderson, the Mets would have hit 17 more home runs with these new dimensions, and Granderson would have accounted for nine of those homers. This would have given the veteran outfielder a total of 29 home runs on the season.

B20TExECIAAjiEL

Granderson’s nine additional home runs would have given him twelve more RBIs, raising his total on the season to 78.  His batting line would have gone from .227/.326/.388 to .236/.333/.436. Four of the nine at-bats resulted in three doubles and a triple, therefore, the net impact would have left Granderson with five additional hits.

His total number of runs scored would have gone up by seven.  In two extra base hit situations, Curtis was driven home after getting on, so I had to account for the fact that he made it all the way around the diamond as he would have in a home run situation.  With the seven additional trips across home plate, Granderson would have scored a total of 80 runs on the season.

What’s interesting is that these additional home runs would have had absolutely no impact on the Mets overall record.  The team won eight of those nine games without the need for Granderson’s homers.  In the lone loss, which was to the Washington Nationals on September 14, Granderson hit a fly out that would have been a solo shot. The caveat is that the Mets lost 3-0, so it would not have shifted the result to a win.

How would have these new dimensions impacted the Mets as far as the standings? Well, in the case of Granderson, bringing in the fences would have boosted his individual statistics, however, it wouldn’t have translated to any additional wins for the team.

New hitting coach Kevin Long believes Granderson will produce better in 2015 regardless, and believes the Mets right fielder was putting too much pressure on himself.

“The first time you come into an organization and you signed a big contract, I think it’s a little more difficult than it might seem,” said Long. “That probably played into it.”

Long also said he has spotted several minor adjustments that will help Granderson, such as reducing excess hand movement in his swing and the two will work together this offseason to fix his swing. David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud will also be joining Long to work. not just on their mechanics but their psychological approach.

“We’re going to have to change the culture a little bit,” Long said. “But, I think, the main thing is to believe that a line-drive swing and a good line-drive swing can work in any ballpark against any pitcher in any conditions. So we’ll start there and see how that goes.”

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Can Matz Be That Second Lefty In The Bullpen? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/can-matz-be-that-second-lefty-in-the-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/can-matz-be-that-second-lefty-in-the-bullpen.html/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:17:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170382 steve matz

Echoing what I wrote last Thursday and again this Monday, general manager Sandy Alderson said there’s a possibility that pitching prospect Steve Matz can make his debut in 2015 as a left-handed reliever in the Mets bullpen.

Alderson is very high on Matz, recently telling MMO, “”I would say Steven is probably one of the top handful of left-handed pitching prospects in the game right now.”

“He’s got an excellent fastball for a lefty, at 93, 94 mph. It can get a little bit higher than that. His breaking ball has gotten much better. And he threw some excellent changeups that night in Binghamton in that championship game.”

As for making his way to the majors as a reliever, Alderson said yesterday, “It might be a way for him to break in.”

Matz may also get the call when the Mets opt to skip a turn for Matt Harvey to conserve his innings. Along with Matz, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard and Cory Mazzoni were also options.

Given what Zach Duke (3 years, $15M) just signed for and the numbers being tossed around for Andrew Miller, it would behoove the Mets to explore Matz as that second lefty in the bullpen. If anyone can pull it off it’s him, and it’s only until we can open up a spot in the rotation for him..

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Harvey Will Give Mets The Best 1-2-3 Punch In Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/harvey-will-give-mets-the-best-1-2-3-punch-in-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/harvey-will-give-mets-the-best-1-2-3-punch-in-baseball.html/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:11:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170317 matt harvey

Timing is everything.  Matt Harvey is returning to lead the New York Mets rotation, now bolstered with a matured Zack Wheeler and 2014 NL ROY winner Jacob deGrom.  All three have experienced their own setbacks this year, but their talent is in another stratosphere and they’ve each grown from their own experiences.  There may be a lot of question marks still surrounding the Mets in 2015, but one thing is for certain, Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom will be one of the most formidable front lines in all of baseball.

In three combined individual seasons (Harvey 2013, Wheeler and deGrom 2014), the three right-handers played a total of 39 divisional games,  went 16-8 (.667 W%) against the NL East, owned a 2.49 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and accumulated 286 strikeouts.  That strikeout total was good for 10.48 SO/9 innings.  Now, I want to be clear, these numbers are comprised using Matt Harvey’s 2013 metrics. For the die-hard analysts, I’ll admit there’s an element of inconsistency by combining his 2013 data with the 2014 data of the other two. But considering that the 2013 version of Harvey is the pitcher most are expecting to retake the mound next season, this analysis is based on that premise. I wanted to see how the Mets stacked up against other teams with Harvey in the rotation.

I placed heavy emphasis on the divisional statistics for two reasons.  One, if the goal is the postseason, then we need to play well in our division. Two, the NL East is going to be tough. The Marlins get the return of their ace Jose Fernandez, the Braves recently added Shelby Miller, and the Nationals will return with a similar cast.  It’s important the Mets front line sends a message to the NL East.

Harvey is simply an ace in every sense of the word, it’s in his demeanor but more importantly it’s in his top tier performance on the mound. In his 11 divisional games in 2013, he went 5-1, owned a 1.88 ERA and 0.90 WHIP and churned out 11.13 strikeouts per 9 innings.  In the 72 innings he pitched against the division, he only gave up one home run and 14 walks. Oddly enough, his toughest opponent that year was Miami, who found a way to get to him early on.  Still, he gritted his way through the best and worst of his outings and the Mets will look for him to set that tone again in 2015. He is the undisputed ace of the team.

jacob degrom

Jacob deGrom exploded onto the scene late in the season, but still managed to compile 22 starts in his first stint in the majors.  He held opposing hitters to a .225 average and posted a 2.69 ERA en route to the Rookie Of The Year award.  His 11.61 SO/9 innings against divisional opponents was better than Harvey in 2013 (11.13) and Wheeler in 2014 (9.38).  He owned a 1.29 ERA against the NL East at home and even tied the major league record for most strikeouts to start a game with eight against the Miami Marlins on September 15th.  Jacob put up numbers that are indicative of a true ace and by all reasonable accounts, should be slotted behind Harvey for the number two spot in the rotation next season.

Zack Wheeler made his case for the best and most consistent starter on the staff this year with his team leading 21 quality starts, although he admits there is a lot of room for improvement. A quality start translates to a 4.50 ERA (6 innings of 3 earned run ball) and Wheeler recognized that far too often, he found himself removed from games because his pitch count was too high.  It translated to more stress on an already overworked bullpen.

However, Wheeler still found ways to bear down and win big games for the team, and 21 quality starts is still 21 games you gave your team a shot to win.  Wheeler was especially better on the road, where he locked down NL East opponents.  Against divisional opponents away from Citi Field, Wheeler owned a 2.69 ERA in 2014, with a 1.18 WHIP and 9.54 SO/9.  His complete game shutout against Miami in Marlins Park was brilliant, going nine innings, allowing zero runs and still touching 97 mph on the gun in the final frame.  There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it stems from maturity and experience.  My bold prediction for the future, keep an eye on Zack, he has a good chance to be the Mets’ most valuable pitcher over the course of his career.

The Mets will be much more competitive against the NL East with those three power arms manning the front of the rotation next season. Having a triad like that, can put a stop to any extended losing streaks or even keep them from starting. The next questions is, does this bode well for the Mets and gets them into the postseason?  I found the answer to be yes.

Using xFIP and SIERA (FanGraphs explains both here: xFIP and SIERA) I wanted to see what they could tell me about the Mets’ top three compared to the rest of the league when you add Matt Harvey into the mix. What’s significant about these two statistics is that they’re weighted for such factors as defense and ballpark factors and it makes for a better team by team comparison. Using my own calculations, I determined who the top 3-man rotations of the 2014 season were.

Not surprisingly, I found that of all 30 MLB teams, the ones with the best 1-2-3 punches all made it to the postseason in 2014. Those teams include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had the best 3-man rotation, led by NL MVP Clayton Kershaw,   Zack Greinke and Dan Haren. Together as one unit, they put together an outstanding 2014 campaign, compiling an ERA of 2.83 (2nd).  More importantly, they ranked 1st in xFIP (2.83) and SIERA (2.90). The Washington Nationals came in second in xFIP (3.17) and SIERA (3.24), but had the best 3-man ERA of 2.74.

In between those two teams are the New York Mets. Combining the most recent single season performance for Harvey, deGrom and Wheeler, their ERA is a dead match with the Dodgers at 2.83. Their xFIP (3.05) and SIERA (3.12) ranks second only to the Dodgers, but ahead of everyone else. Below is the full Top 10 rankings I put together, using xFIP and SIERA as the common evaluators. It was easy for me, since all ten units rank the same in both metrics, which does reaffirm the accuracy of both stats.

Top 10 xFIP / SIERA

  1.   Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren (2.83/2.90)
  2.   Mets: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler (3.05/3.12)
  3.   Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister (3.17/3.24)
  4.   Tigers: Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price (3.36/3.29)
  5.   A’s: Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Scott Kazmir (3.42/3.41)
  6.   Giants: Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson (3.51/3.54)
  7.   Mariners: Felix Hernandez, Chris Young, Hisashi Iwakuma (3.53/3.58)
  8.   Reds: Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, Mike Leake (3.58/3.61)
  9.   Braves: Julio Teheran, Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana (3.74/3.83)
  10.   Marlins: Tom Koehler, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi (3.83/3.92)

Just a few things, I included all of David Price’s 2014 as a Tiger, if anything, I wanted the analysis to be tougher on the Mets to see just how good these three were. Same thing goes for Jeff Samardzija, who was originally with the Chicago Cubs to begin the season. The best part of all this for me, was seeing the Mets finish right at the top and above Washington.

The Mets ranked first in SO/9 (9.32), HR/9 (.49), BAA (.223) and FIP (2.74).  FIP is the original version of xFIP, but only removes defensive biases and does not account for ballpark factors. Those stats all tell the story of a high octane strikeout machine parked in Flushing and offering little hope to opposing hitters next season.

I’ll conclude with this. Hats off to the Mets organization for their handling of Harvey during his rehabilitation process. Both sides made it through unscathed and Harvey’s final bullpen session in Queens went great, hitting 95 mph on the gun consistently.  Preserving the opportunity to add Harvey to deGrom and Wheeler was an important objective for the franchise this season, and by all accounts they did just that. The Mets handled everything brilliantly and this team enters next season with a legitimate shot at contending because of it.

You notice anything in particular about the teams with the top five 3-man rotations, not including the Mets?  They all went to the playoffs.

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Mets In Enviable Position To Break Starting Pitching Mold http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-in-enviable-position-to-break-starting-pitching-mold.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-in-enviable-position-to-break-starting-pitching-mold.html/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169455 wheeler harvey

The issue of innings caps for Met starting pitchers in 2015 would be mitigated if the Mets thought forward and initiated a six-man starting pitching rotation.  For many, the idea of a six man starting pitching rotation is too revolutionary and defies what is believed to be standard protocol in most baseball circles.

Yet, the number of starting pitchers major league teams employ has gradually grown over the years.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s pitchers sometimes started 50 games in a season needing only two days of rest between starts.  When rest days increased to three days an additional pitcher was added to the starting rotation.  Four-man pitching rotations were vogue as baseball headed into its expansion years in the 1960’s. Then due in great part to Mets pitching coach Rube Walker, the rotation stretched again, this time to five, as innings pitched replaced games started in the definition of a starting pitchers workload.

A six-man rotation might rankle baseball traditionalists, but with the depth of potential starting pitching in the Mets system, they are perfectly positioned to start the 2015 season with six starters.

Why use six starters?  With a stockpile of young pitching talent, 2015 is the year the Mets should challenge for a spot in the postseason. Baseball is tipping toward strong power pitching, exactly where the Mets rebuild is centered. Rather than speculate all season long about pitch counts and the potential of shutting down young starters in the rotation, guys like Matt Harvey, returning from elbow surgery, or Jacob deGrom, who faced limited innings in the just finished season, or perhaps even Noah Syndergaard, who might be transitioning from a minor league innings count to a major league workload, Mets starting pitchers could pitch uninterrupted from the start of the season to the finish.

An added day of rest would also help the aging Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese – who often suffers from tired arm syndrome – would benefit as well. It couldn’t hurt Dillon Gee, who has dealt with his share of injuries throughout his career. There’s a good chance that one or two of these veterans won’t even be here next season, but that brings Rafael Montero into the picture – another youngster whose innings will be limited.

Conceivably, moving to a six man rotation might allow the Mets to amp up the expectation that pitchers regularly work into the seventh or eighth inning of games. This would lessen the load on the bullpen and allow Terry Colons the luxury of mixing and matching his relief pitchers.

Detractors will emphasize the fact that the best pitchers in your rotation will actually have five or six less starts a year.  Who would you rather see pitch, Matt Harvey or Dillon Gee (?) they will counter. That’s a valid argument.

In fact, it would be foolhardy to consider stretching a starting pitching rotation from five to six, if you didn’t feel you had a wealth of quality starting pitching.  Evaluating the Mets, I do believe they have that kind of starting pitching depth.  In using a six man rotation, the Mets can keep someone like Syndergaard on the big league roster rather than return him for another round of pitching at Triple-A, a less than motivating outlook for a promising young pitching prospect.

An additional benefit would be a pitching-rich starting rotation that could easily transition to a five man plan should a starter suffer an injury or simply under-perform.  Using a six-man rotation gives the Mets an advantage and  positions the team with the flexibility to adjust and adapt to the changing events that impact a 162 game regular baseball season.

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Minnesota Snow Storms and New York Media Maelstroms http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/minnesota-snow-storms-and-new-york-media-maelstorms.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/minnesota-snow-storms-and-new-york-media-maelstorms.html/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:45:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170213 mets twins target field

Target Field covered in ice and snow a day before Twins host the Mets.

The bleak Minnesota landscape can really get to you, especially when you’re experiencing mid-January weather in November. I tend to be cranky when it’s so cold your nose hairs crackle. As a New Yorker who likes to complain I’ve run into problems confronting my neighbors with questions like “what the hell was wrong with your ancestors that made them want to live here?” They politely chuckle failing to appreciate the seriousness of my query and go back to their jovial salting and shoveling.

See I possess kind of a trifecta of tribulation that has often caused me to run afoul of the stoic and obdurate happy people … I’ve got the New York disposition, the Mediterranean blood, and worst of all I’m a Mets fan, which pretty much seals the fist-shaking “F.U. polar vortex” deal. This triad of ill-temper limits my patience for whatever annoyances may cross my path, like a dog hair on my couch, or a cap left off the toothpaste…

So the other day when I read John Harper’s article about Jon Niese in the Daily News, I found myself looking for a snow bank to swing a shovel at.  It sounds like Niese was upset after being “top-stepped” by Terry Collins because he didn’t bunt after being given a bunt sign. Now here’s the thing … you can’t expect me to believe that casual fans can point out a poo-poo platter of bizarre late inning permutations orchestrated by our cantankerous white haired gnome of a manager, and that the players who are actually following his orders don’t notice …

Unfortunately, the team, as constituted, is an odd assemblage wide-eyed rookies who don’t have the service time to question anything, and veterans who either tend to be reclamation projects or who have one foot in the proverbial grave – either way there are few viable mid-career veterans with backbone on this team and, oddly enough, it sounds like Jon Niese is one of them. The other veteran in this category is of course David Wright and boy it sure seemed like there were times Collins got under his skin as well.

It kind of reminds me of when I first moved to Minnesota. I was a winter rookie back then. I did stupid stuff like wearing wire-rimmed glasses on a bike ride to the good old U of M in January. Nothing like having a nice chunk of skin torn off the bridge of your nose as you walk into class screaming, the whole room turning and wondering what is wrong with that guy? See I didn’t complain much those first couple of winters … I figured I was the problem. Now-a-days having been here 19 years, I push back. Sure I’ve got my 800 gram Thinsulate Red Wings and my arctic parka, but still I complain … especially to some of my more docious neighbors. I will routinely accost them as they shovel a particularly chunky snow-plow drift blocking their driveway with questions like, “Did you know, home prices in Florida are at all time lows?” It’s a rhetorical question of course.

Anyway, the Mets by and large lack the sort of player who might push back when Collins emerges from his mushroom forest to manage the team and proceeds to throw wrenches out of his penny-arcade bag of tricks. Maybe the team was purposely constructed to conform and obey, but if that’s the case, someone should let management know that this docile persona runs categorically at odds with a fiery and temperamental fan base. Not to mention the fact that they’re going to have to somehow manufacture a backbone if they ever want to win. So the Niese story is really not a story at all, it’s more like growing pains.

Niese-Collins-3

Nevertheless John Harper gets wind of this tidbit about how Jon Niese lost his temper last season (I especially liked the “F#%& You … Take me out if you don’t like it” part – which is pretty much how I feel about the weather) … and he holds onto this little nugget, keeping it in his pocket protector like a chunk of beef jerky he found under his car seat that still looks maybe good enough to eat. Harper then decides to feed us this rotten little morsel, but not just any time … noooo … he waits until worst possible moment, the day the Mets made some positive headlines with the signing of Michael Cuddyer. How dare the Mets try to energize their fan base…

I don’t know if it’s like this with other major league teams, but I doubt it. Maybe the press corps in New York have this dog-eat-dog mentality because they work in the media capital of the world. They are presumably the best at their trade in spite of their tasseled penny loafers and weird hats. It’s a tough gig in a tough town … I get that. I might even excuse a haughty air in press boxes across Midwestern cities that barely rival Staten Island … what I don’t excuse is the old guard’s “kingmaker” mantle and the wrecking ball approach to covering a young team struggling to find its identity.

It isn’t all of them. Mark Carig is a throwback in his honesty and he genuinely seems to take his role as a journalist seriously. Ackert and Rubin are articulate and exacting respectively… Diamond, DiComo and Vorkunov are young, refreshing and insightful…

I think there was a day when a journalist would have taken Neise’s little explosion and kept it to himself if he ever wanted to interview Jonathan again. What purpose does the story serve? It undermines the player’s value at a time when the team’s GM is actively shopping him, it damages the player’s reputation, it harms the relationship between the press and the team… and for what? A few thousand additional hits on a web page and a nascent twitter storm?

The team is young and maturing and as it does it will outgrow not only some of its rookie errors but its complacency and acquiescence too. At some point they will discover they can in fact swim … even in the shark infested waters of the New York media landscape. It’s a shame that one of the lessons young athletes have to learn in NY is to be wary and guarded towards the press, their comments scripted, generic, Jeteresque

We already know what most players are going to say, so why bother with a quote? Why bother trying to cultivate the sort of rapport with your host-team that might make for interesting insightful journalism if they know full well you will throw them under a bus the first chance you get? All for the instant gratification of kicking up a shit-storm in next morning’s sports pages. And they wonder why the print media is going the way of Polariods and the fax machine.

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It All Still Hinges On Wright and Granderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/it-all-still-hinges-on-wright-and-granderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/it-all-still-hinges-on-wright-and-granderson.html/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 01:34:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170200 terry-collins

Manager Terry Collins says “2015 is gonna be the year,” and that the Mets are “gonna be in the mix to play in October.”

“We’ve been preaching patience for four years, and it’s time to step up,” said Collins on Thursday while volunteering at a food bank in Queens. “We’ve got Matt coming back, Michael Cuddyer coming in. We’re gonna be a different team. We should be playing in October.”

I hope Collins is right, but there’s so much the Mets need to go right for that to happen and the top two items on that list are big rebound seasons from Curtis Granderson, 34, and David Wright, 32.

It reminded me of a conversation I transcribed between Gary Cohen and Ron Darling during a Mets broadcast, last September.

Gary Cohen: Granderson missed most of last year and hasn’t had a great year. But I don’t understand how you simply assume he’ll rebound next season. I mean how do you do that as an organization? How do you just go with these assumptions going forward?

Ron Darling: I don’t know. It’s a very relevant question but I don’t have a good answer for you. I think it’s almost impossible to make that assumption.

Cohen:  They can spout all these advanced stats based on age and performance and all the Pecota predictions and what have you, but they don’t give you any answers whatsoever, and lets face it, all of it only amounts to an educated guess.

Darling: That’s absolutely right.

Cohen: So are they just gonna act on that and simply hope things get better without any contingency plan to do X, Y, or Z? Are they just going to tell us, ‘of course he’s gonna bounce back why wouldn’t he?’

Darling: They really have no other options. There are only two things they can do here. First, you act on optimism and you hope that both these guys, Granderson and Wright, return to form. And secondly, and most importantly, financially the Mets are stuck in a place where they have to perform. They just have to. There’s nothing else you can do.

Cohen: I understand that. You can’t trade them… You can’t trade them… You have to play them. So no matter what, these two have to be in the lineup no matter what regardless if they are good or bad.

Darling: Exactly. There is no Plan B. There’s no Plan B for the Mets now that they’ve decided to have that much money invested in two players. This is it. When the Mets made the decision to give those two players those kind of longterm contracts, essentially they made both Granderson and Wright their core players. Guess what, now they have to live or die with those core players.

Gary and Ron raised a lot of interesting points but the takeaway here is that with Wright and Grandy swallowing up 40% of the projected payroll, both players will need to produce and produce big for the Mets to have a real shot in 2015.

The addition of Michael Cuddyer makes the team better, but that gets negated if it’s coupled with the loss of Daniel Murphy.

The Mets will certainly have the pitching, nobody disputes that. But they will need an offense that can complement it and minimize all those one-run losses they endured in 2014.

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The Franchise Turns 70 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/the-franchise-turns-70.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/the-franchise-turns-70.html/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:32:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170236 tom seaver bw

James Rosen of the New York Post, penned a worthy piece that reminds us of the remarkable career and the greatness of Mets icon Tom Seaver who turns 70 today.

“His very motion was a thing of beauty: the high leg kick, the deep rearing back of his right arm, his right knee, perpetually dirtied, dragging along the mound as he lowered himself for maximum thrust, his face, even in the extremis of competition, a study in symmetrical perfection as he bit his lower lip and bore down.”

“When he ended innings with another strikeout, he never showboated with fist pumps or other unseemly displays. Rather, he walked calmly to the dugout, head down — as if in deep contemplation of the physical mechanics of pitching he so often spoke of, with the erudition that made him, in the sportswriters’ estimation, the Thinking Man’s Pitcher.”

Seaver epitomized what grace and class was in every aspect of his life both on and off the field. I always thought it was a real shame that there is no statue honoring him at our home park, after all he is The Franchise.

Seaver recently said that the Mets have never approached him about erecting a statue or monument in his honor.

“I understand that I’m a part of the history of the game of baseball, it is going to be what it is,” Seaver said, when asked about his legacy. “The wonderful thing are the memories that I have about the game, and I loved it.”

We are nearing 25 years since Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Wouldn’t it be something if we could mark that anniversary with a magnificent statue erected in his honor?

The Mets owners should make this happen, however as I see it, there’s just one obstacle standing in the way… The Mets owners.

Enjoy this video of a futuristic Tom Seaver unleashing an explosive fastball to home plate at Citi Field. It’s pitcher versus batter as a high powered windup unleashes a sci-fi fastball in this thrilling one minute short created exclusively for the New York Mets last season.

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Doc Gooden’s Greatness On The Mound Extended Past The 1986 Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/doc-goodens-greatness-on-the-mound-extended-past-the-1986-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/doc-goodens-greatness-on-the-mound-extended-past-the-1986-season.html/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 14:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170153 doc gooden shea stadium

Dwight Gooden, the Mets’ hurler who helped exhume the team from Grant’s Tomb and brought Shea Stadium back to life in the mid-’80s, is celebrating his 50th birthday today.  When Gooden was at his peak three decades ago, the baseball cognoscenti agreed that his first three seasons in the major leagues were among the best by a young pitcher in the game’s history.  Gooden took the mound 99 times from 1984 to 1986, going 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 35 complete games, 13 shutouts and 744 strikeouts – reaching 200 or more strikeouts in each season.

But after off-the-field problems came to light prior to the 1987 campaign, Gooden went from being Dr. K to being Dr. Just OK.  Or did he?

From 1987 to 1991, Doc’s numbers were clearly not the same as they were during his first three seasons.  But they were still pretty darn good.  In his fourth through eighth seasons with the Mets, Gooden went 74-34 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, striking out 797 batters, completing 22 games and tossing eight shutouts.  He also finished in the top five in the Cy Young Award voting twice.  (Gooden was fifth in the Cy Young balloting in 1987 and fourth in 1990.)  He accomplished all of this from 1987 to 1991 despite making fewer than 28 starts in three of the five seasons.

Perhaps his greatest and most under-appreciated accomplishment occurred in 1991.  After seven consecutive seasons of winning 87 or more games, the Mets finished under .500 in ’91.  But Gooden still managed to finish with a 13-7 record, 3.60 ERA and 150 strikeouts in only 27 starts.  In 15 of those 27 starts, Gooden allowed two earned runs or fewer, but received losses or no-decisions in six of the games, mainly because he was surrounded by a putrid offense.

Keith Miller (.280) and Gregg Jefferies (.272) were the only players with 300 or more plate appearances to finish the year with a batting average north of .260.  Howard Johnson (38 HR, 117 RBI, 108 runs) was the sole Met with more than 16 homers, 74 RBI or 65 runs scored.  Gooden basically had to help himself when he was in the game, as he batted .238 with three doubles, a homer, six RBI and seven runs scored in only 63 at-bats.  His .333 slugging percentage was higher than the marks posted by Mark Carreon (.331 in 254 AB), Vince Coleman (.327 in 278 AB) and Garry Templeton (.306 in 219 AB).

In the five seasons immediately following the 1986 championship campaign, when Gooden supposedly went from being a great pitcher to just being a very good pitcher, the right-hander’s winning percentage was .685 in 137 starts.  That was the highest winning percentage for all pitchers who made 100 or more starts from 1987 to 1991.  The rest of the top five included Dave Stieb, Roger Clemens, Bob Welch and Dave Stewart – pitchers who combined to win 909 games over their long and successful major league careers.

Player W-L% GS W L ERA FIP BA OBP SLG OPS
Dwight Gooden .685 137 74 34 3.39 2.78 .249 .304 .342 .647
Dave Stieb .667 137 68 34 3.32 3.78 .226 .306 .332 .638
Roger Clemens .662 172 94 48 2.74 2.61 .227 .284 .329 .613
Bob Welch .662 174 88 45 3.47 3.93 .245 .313 .375 .689
Dave Stewart .629 181 95 56 3.54 3.66 .246 .314 .366 .680

The Mets averaged nearly 99 wins a season from 1984 to 1986, with Gooden accounting for 58 of the team’s 296 wins in those three campaigns.  Although several stints on the disabled list caused Gooden to miss significant time in 1987, 1989 and 1991, Doc still won 74 games in the five years immediately following the team’s championship in 1986.

Averaging 27 starts per season from 1987 to 1991 should have allowed other National League pitchers to finish well ahead of Gooden in wins, but that never happened.  In fact, only Doug Drabek won more games in the Senior Circuit than Dwight Gooden did during that five-year stretch, as seen in the chart below.

Player W G GS CG SHO W-L% IP H BB SO
Doug Drabek 77 165 162 26 12 .602 1106.0 1009 283 643
Dwight Gooden 74 139 137 22 8 .685 969.0 911 283 797
Greg Maddux 73 171 168 32 9 .549 1143.0 1107 374 718
Tom Browning 72 176 175 19 5 .576 1141.1 1123 297 573
David Cone 67 155 138 27 10 .620 994.2 829 336 945

When Gooden was at his best from 1984 to 1986, he was the league’s premier strikeout pitcher, fanning 200 or more batters in each of his first three seasons and averaging nearly 250 Ks per year.  Gooden’s propensity for throwing strike three earned him the nickname Dr. K, but just because he wasn’t leading the league in strikeouts from 1987 to 1991 as he did in his first two seasons didn’t mean he was no longer frustrating batters at the plate.

In his fourth through eighth seasons in the big leagues, the good Doctor struck out 797 batters.  Only one pitcher in the National League had more strikeouts than Gooden did during those five “post-dominant Doc” seasons – his teammate, David Cone, who won two strikeout titles of his own in 1990 and 1991.

Player SO SO/9 SO/BB K% GS W L W-L% IP BF
David Cone 945 8.55 2.81 23.1% 138 67 41 .620 994.2 4092
Dwight Gooden 797 7.40 2.82 19.8% 137 74 34 .685 969.0 4023
Sid Fernandez 733 8.40 2.55 22.8% 128 48 40 .545 785.2 3211
Mike Scott 719 7.13 2.72 19.4% 134 59 46 .562 908.0 3715
Greg Maddux 718 5.65 1.92 14.9% 168 73 60 .549 1143.0 4831

There’s one last thing that won’t show up in a boxscore or a chart that helps assess Dwight Gooden’s value to the Mets after his first three historic seasons with the team.  During the five-year period from 1987 to 1991, Gooden was outstanding at helping the Mets win games that immediately followed a loss, thereby preventing the Mets from suffering through extended losing streaks.

In Gooden’s 137 starts during those five years, 65 of them came after a loss by the team.  The Mets’ record in those 65 contests was 41-24, giving the team a .631 winning percentage in post-loss games started by Doc.  When any other starting pitcher took the mound immediately following a Mets loss during that five-year stretch, the team’s record in those games was 147-148, for a .498 winning percentage.  That’s how valuable Gooden was to the team after he had supposedly lost his ability to dominate hitters.

Dwight Gooden never had a winning percentage under .650 in any season from 1987 to 1991, while the Mets never posted a winning percentage above .625 in any of those five campaigns.  The entire team stopped being as great as they were in 1986, but not Doc.  He just continued to find ways to win.  If anything, he was one of the main reasons why the team continued to be competitive for as long as they did, until the bottom fell out in the early ’90s.

Today is Doc’s 50th birthday, making it a perfect day to look back at how golden he was not just during his first three seasons with the Mets, but in the years immediately following the team’s World Series championship.  The baseball pundits might say Gooden wasn’t the same pitcher after 1986, but that didn’t make him any less valuable to the Mets.  The numbers don’t lie.  Doc Gooden never lost his ability to be among the best pitchers in the league even when his club stopped being one of the best teams in the league.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Andrew Miller, LHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-free-agent-profile-andrew-miller-lhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-free-agent-profile-andrew-miller-lhp.html/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:10:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170034 andrew-miller-mlb-seattle-mariners-baltimore-orioles-590x900

Andrew Miller

Relief Pitcher

Bats: L  Throws: L

Age on Opening Day: 29

2014 Snapshot

Andrew Miller had a career year in 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles. Through 42.1 innings in Boston, Miller held a 2.35 ERA before being dealt for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez during Boston’s massive fire sale before the trade deadline. Down the stretch for Baltimore, he was even more impressive, posting a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings. His strikeout, home run, and hit rates were all at career-bests. And at 29 years old, Miller has hit free agency at just the right time.

Pros

Miller strikes out an insane number of batters. This season, in 62.1 innings, he fanned 103 batters, equating to a 14.9 K/9 rate and a 42.6 strikeout percentage. Both of those numbers are second only to Aroldis Chapma among pitchers with 50 innings or more.

What was it? The numbers, albeit in a small sample size, point towards his slider. His slider was over 13 runs above average this season, far better than ever before. He has been able to use his low arm slot and deadly slider to his advantage, producing gems like this:

Miller-Jeter-1-091514

Yes, that’s not Miller striking out a power-hitting lefty, that’s Derek Jeter. While that may not be too impressive anymore, it highlights my point: Miller dominates righties, too. Righties hit just .145/.245/.202 against him, which was actually slightly worse than the .163/.206/.261 line lefties put up against him. Although his numbers overall favor Miller against lefties, he has actually reversed his platoon splits over the past two seasons. That doesn’t mean he will going forward, but it is something to consider.

Forget about the strikeouts for a minute and look at the number of baserunners allowed. Miller had a 0.802 WHIP this season, a career-best by far. Over the last three years, he has really improved in this manner, bringing his walks down to a (somewhat) manageable level, and limiting his hits allowed as well. He is running on all cylinders right now.

Cons

Miller’s track record of major success is relatively short. From 2006 through 2012, Miller owned a career 5.54 ERA and walked 5.4 batters per nine innings. Even as he started to turn his career around in 2012, he walked five batters per nine innings. That should be an area of concern for Sandy Alderson. He could easily regress back to his career averages.

His 4.8 hits per nine innings rate from last season is, without a doubt, unsustainable. You don’t see that very often, and you definitely don’t see is multiple years in a row.

As good as Miller is, his biggest weakness is the fact that he doesn’t really fit. Signing Miller would only muddle up the closer situation even more. Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Bobby Parnell can handle the late innings just fine. If the Mets are going to spend big money on a multi-year contract, it shouldn’t be for a relief pitcher. Maybe Miller would be a better fit if the team had more money.

Projected Contract

To give you a sense of what Miller is looking for, check out what Jason Mastrodonato wrote for MassLive the other day:

According to an industry source, Miller is seeking at least a four-year deal and isn’t listening to any other offers unless the average annual value is “astounding.”

I am assuming “astounding” is at least $12 to $15 million per year, which is ridiculous for Miller. Yes, he is 29, but he has also only been dominant for two seasons. That being said, he is arguably the top relief pitcher on the market, meaning there will be demand for him. He won’t get what he wants, but I see a four-year deal as almost a guarantee. I see Miller getting four years and $40 million.

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No Extension Talks With Murphy, Trade Contingent On Shortstop Situation http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/no-extension-talks-with-murphy-trade-contingent-on-shortstop-situation.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/no-extension-talks-with-murphy-trade-contingent-on-shortstop-situation.html/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:25:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169696 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

In a report by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Sandy Alderson acknowledged Thursday that the Mets are not particularly interested in working on a contract extension this offseason with second baseman Daniel Murphy who becomes a free agent after the 2015 season.

“Anytime soon? Probably not,” Alderson said about contract-extension dialogue.

Alderson also added that the team is inclined to retain Murphy for 2015. “Right now we would be reluctant to trade Murphy,” Alderson said.

However, sources told Rubin that if the Mets can get a high-powered bat at shortstop, their inclination to trade Murphy would dramatically increase.

Asked if adding another quality bat could change the desire to trade Murphy, Alderson said: “Perhaps.”

In other words, if Wilmer Flores is your opening day shortstop, Murphy will be at second base. If lets say Alexei Ramirez is your shortstop, most likely Flores is at second and Murphy is gone.

November 11

Mike Puma of the New York Post looks at three burning issues for the Mets this offseason and among them is determining the fate of their lone All Star in 2014, Daniel Murphy.

The Mets tried last offseason to trade Murphy, but were unimpressed with the offers. Murphy is under club control for one more season, and the Mets have shown no inclination to offer him a long-term contract. As it stands, Murphy will get a bump to the $8-9 million range for 2015. He made $5.7 million last season.

One possibility is the Mets will begin the season with Murphy as their second baseman and then deal him before the July 31 trade deadline. But if the Mets were to trade him this winter, it would allow the club to head into spring training with Flores as the likely starter at the position.

The Blue Jays and Giants were among the previous teams that had some level of interest in Murphy. The Giants can be subtracted after the emergence of former St. John’s standout Joe Panik.

Murphy, 29, batted .289/.332/.403 with a 110 wRC+ and a 2.8 WAR. Among all NL second basemen, Murphy ranked first in doubles, second in batting average, hits and runs scored, and third in OPS.

But of course, no discussion about Murphy is complete without pointing out his defense at the keystone position – or should I say his lack of it.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, recently argued that the time has come to trade Murphy.

“So, basically, it is time for the Mets to decide to retain Murphy via a contract extension or look to get some return before he walks as a free agent in a year. And although Murphy has expressed a willingness to talk contract, Mets officials have shown no inclination to engage him. Apparently they do not view him as $10 million a year player going forward. So it’s time to deal.”

Murphy will likely earn about $8 million in arbitration, a significant bump from the $5.7 million he was paid in 2014. But Rubin is right, if the Mets are not inclined to extend his contract, then you have to deal him. But is that something you do now or at next season’s trade deadline when teams are usually willing to overpay for a specific need?

With Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores and Matt Reynolds all waiting in the wings, Murphy has become somewhat expendable. However the Mets know what they’ll get out of Murphy if they were to keep him and the same can’t be said about the other three. It’s a very precarious situation that can backfire just as easily as it could work out for the team. But that’s why the GM gets the big bucks.

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MMO Exclusive: I Guess Sandy Wasn’t Kidding After All http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-i-guess-sandy-wasnt-kidding-after-all.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-i-guess-sandy-wasnt-kidding-after-all.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:34:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169452 sandy alderson matt

One of our readers named Matt, reached out to me last week and wrote:

I’ve been following MMO for the last two years or so, although I’ve only commented maybe once or twice. Thank you for the great content and dedication.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is because I am taking a Literature of Baseball class this term at Drexel University, and my professor is a consultant for the Mets. Tonight, at 6 pm, Sandy Alderson will be coming to speak to the class and will be open for any questions.

The class only has 15-20 students or so, and I should have plenty of time to ask him anything and everything. I was just wondering if there is anything you would like me to ask on behalf of MMO and then pass along the answers. We were told anything is fair game, but to please refrain from the ongoing Leigh Castergine lawsuit.

Having just ran a series of posts covering MMO’s John Bernhardt’s exclusive one-on-one interview with Sandy Alderson last week, there was really only one more question that never got asked that I wanted to throw at Sandy:

“There are many fans who have become frustrated with how every decision still seems to be heavily based on dollars. There are those who believe the team should be operating with a payroll that should be on par with other teams that play in large markets. My question to you Sandy is, what do you believe is an appropriate payroll range for the New York Mets and how long until they can operate at that level again?”

About three hours later, Matt responded to me with a photo he took with Sandy and the following response:

It was a great experience, he is probably as knowledgeable as anyone in baseball. Some very interesting things about the Mets, as well as Major League Baseball in general. I’ll send you another email soon with more about what he said, but as for the payroll question…

In typical Sandy Alderson fashion, he said that payroll should be so that the team at least hits a break even point. Now that the Mets are at that point, payroll increase will correlate with revenue increase which he acknowledged would only come from winning.

He also said that right now, the Mets need to continue to get a little more out of their players than what the team is paying for them – a la Lucas Duda, Jacob deGrom, and others. That would lead to more winning and give the Mets increased revenue, and thus increased payroll, and hopefully even more winning.

It was an interesting response. I never expected Sandy to give me an actual payroll range simply because the truth would probably not coincide with what his employers have in mind. But that Sandy transitioned into a player’s performance outpacing their cost to the team was interesting to hear. That is the essence of the advanced metric revolution, of course.

But there was one more thing Matt mentioned that we both probably had a good laugh about.

I don’t think you can quote him on it, but a Phillies fan took a jab at Sandy and asked him, “When are the Mets ever gonna make the playoffs again?”  Sandy replied,  “Next year.”

I can tell you that neither me or Matt took that exchange very seriously, and in fact, I wasn’t even going to mention it. But in light of yesterday’s stunning events, maybe Sandy wasn’t kidding after all… Maybe he was dead serious about making the playoffs in 2015… Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. :-)

I want to thank Matt for reaching out to us and letting us share his experience with the MMO community.

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What Michael Cuddyer Signing Says About Free Agency http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/what-michael-cuddyer-signing-says-about-free-agency.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/what-michael-cuddyer-signing-says-about-free-agency.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:30:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169815 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.

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Happy Veteran’s Day To All Who Served http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/happy-veterans-day-to-all-who-served.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/happy-veterans-day-to-all-who-served.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 05:10:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132656 soldier military kid

On behalf of everyone at Metsmerized Online, we would like to take some time to remember and honor all of the brave servicemen and women that have served and continue to serve our great country.

Each Veteran’s Day we have an opportunity to recognize all the sacrifices of the amazing men and women who make up the greatest military in the world. They faithfully protect our borders, our freedom, and our way of life.

Thank you for your unwavering loyalty, patriotism, strength and courage.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

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Dodgers Are Aggressively Shopping Kemp, Crawford and Ethier http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/dodgers-willing-to-eat-significant-dollars-to-move-kemp-crawford-or-ethier.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/dodgers-willing-to-eat-significant-dollars-to-move-kemp-crawford-or-ethier.html/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 14:19:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169701 Matt-Kemp

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported via Twitter on Sunday night, that the Los Angeles Dodgers are aggressively trying to move one of Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, or Matt Kemp. This comes as no surprise since Yasiel Puig has burst onto the scene and with super-prospect Joc Pederson ready to go.

The Dodgers are stuck with three starting caliber outfielders – when healthy – and the big question here is do any of these three fit in with what Sandy Alderson is trying to accomplish with the Mets and can we afford either of them?

Rosenthal pointed out that depending on the return in trade, the Dodgers are very willing to eat a “significant” part of any of their contracts:

  • Kemp: $21 million in 2015; $21.5 million per season in years 2016-2019.
  • Crawford: $20.5 million in 2015; $20.75 million in 2016 and $21 million in 2017.
  • Ethier: $18 million in 2015; $18 million in 2016, $17.5 million in 2017, $17.5 million team option in 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout.

The most attractive player to the Mets out of that bunch would be Matt Kemp. Besides shortstop, a right-handed hitting outfielder with power and the ability to drive in runs is near the top of the Mets wish list this offseason. The biggest knock against Kemp is his lack of time on the field due to injuries. Before 2014, Kemp played 73 and 106 games in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Last season, Kemp batted .287/.346/.506 while hitting 25 home runs and driving in 89 runs in 150 games. That type of production is exactly what the Mets are looking for.

The big question mark is whether or not the Wilpons will be willing to dish out the coin needed to pay Kemp for four more seasons. The Dodgers would be willing to eat part of the contract depending on the value they get in return. The Mets would be smart to make a move for Kemp, giving the Dodgers a decent return centered around one of the Mets top pitching prospects. Obviously, he can probably be had easier if the Mets were willing to pay him most of the money he is due, but we all know that isn’t in the cards.

Some people have argued that Kemp is not the right player to go after, but rather Carl Crawford. The 33-year old Crawford played in 105 games last year for the Dodgers, putting up a .300/.339/.429 slash line while stealing 23 bases. The year before that, he played 116 games while being slightly less productive offensively. In 2012, Crawford only played in 31 games. He is a career .292 hitter. His gold glove caliber defense, as well as his near league leading stolen bases numbers are probably behind him now. But he still projects as a pure leadoff hitter, something the Mets haven’t had since Jose Reyes. While the Mets are more in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder with power, Crawford is an interesting consideration. Alderson will probably look the other way on him though. Why trade for Crawford when one might be able to get similar production from either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker?

Outside of Giancarlo Stanton, there is no ‘perfect fit’. Every potential player is going to have their flaws, whether they’re injury prone, not young enough, overpriced, etc. At some point, the Mets need to bite the bullet and make a move.  I think Kemp is a viable option for us in the right circumstances.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Let’s start with Ethier. As I discussed tonight on Twitter, he’s 32, in decline, and bats left-handed. I would argue that given 500 at-bats, Matt den Dekker would likely outperform him across the board offensively and defensively.

As for Crawford, he’s simply not a good fit. He’s even older at 33 and hasn’t played more than 130 games in a season in four years, and as a leadoff hitter is his .339 on-base percentage really worth breaking the bank for?

Kemp is the one that stands apart and makes the most sense for the Mets. But if the Dodgers are eating a big portion of his salary to get a bigger return, then you’re talking about giving up either Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler plus Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki. Still interested?

Of course if money were not an object we’d probably be able to swap Jon Niese, Daniel Murphy and Carlos Torres for Kemp… And how huge would that be?

But with Jeff Wilpon running the show and calling the shots, the only option the Mets will consider is the one that has the Dodgers eating $50 million dollars and that means a huge cost in players.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Pursuing Pirates Prospect Josh Bell http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 18:02:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169531 Josh_Bell_qvrhw676_mdesbg6a

An MMO Fan Shot by Jason Bay

The case for Josh Bell as I see it is threefold.

1) The longstanding belief that it is having many good players together for as much of their careers as possible, all at the same time that is the critical difference in how high a team can rise. (Think Rollins, Utley, Howard)

2) Combining Bell with Brandon Nimmo is a perfect fit as they compliment each other very well whether it be in the lineup together or splitting time in certain circumstances .

3) It’s an opportunity of being able to acquire Bell without having to move any of our young high end pitching, namely Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz. The immediate needs of the Pirates are such that we can add Bell without worrying about raising payroll or moving any of our prized arms.

Platoon splits for left-handed hitters in the minors do not always hold up when reaching the majors and in Nimmo’s case there is some cause for concern.

Nimmo vs. LHP

Career – .220/.331/.298, 24.2 K/9, 11.8 BB/9

2014 AA – .152/.278/.239, 22.0 K/9, 13.8 BB/9

2014 A+ – .333/.435/.417, 16.5 K/9, 12.9 BB/9

Let’s see how the switch-hitting Bell compares…

Bell vs. LHP

Career – .300/.343/.450, 11.2 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

2014 AA – .295/.354/.341, 8.3 K/9, 8.3 BB/9

2014 A+ – .320/.333/.495, 10.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

What this tells me is that if Nimmo does not hit LHP in the majors, Bell’s presence allows us to get the production we need from one outfield spot the 30-40 times a year we face a left-handed starting pitcher.

When we face a righthander however, is where the benefit of adding Bell really kicks in because in this case we would have both in the lineup together (Approx.120-130 starts)

Bell vs. RHP

Career – .298/.363/.449, 17.5 K/9, 9.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .280/.333/.280, 14.8 K/9, 17.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .341/.396/.504, 12.1 K/9, 8.6 BB/9

As you can see in limited play (94 AB) the power did not show up for Bell in AA but here is where Nimmo compliments Bell if his weaker side power doesn’t develop.

Nimmo vs. RHP

Career – .287/.409/.440, 23.3 K/9, 16.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .291/.379/.493, 17.6 K/9, 12.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .316/.454/.477, 19.1 K/9, 20.1 BB/9

What you have in Bell and Nimmo are two players who together can be a real force in the lineup and who individually cover the others potential flaws. An outfield with Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto (plus a RH compliment to Conforto) would afford the opportunity to start three right-handed hitters or three left-handed hitters in the outfield anytime we wanted with the ability to double switch and strategize later in the game, utilizing all five outfielders in situations that accentuate their strengths and bypass their potential weaknesses.

Bell also has the arm for right field, something we do not currently have in-house unless Cesar Puello somehow comes through. And If we did execute a trade for Bell, Cesar could get his shot this year as a platoon right fielder while Bell continues to develop.

Having at the least Lagares, Bell, Nimmo and Granderson followed by Conforto does give us four outfielders which in case of injury to one wouldn’t hurt and would be a godsend in the event Conforto does not have the range to play the outfield.

The reason I think this is potentially doable is pure opportunity. Pittsburgh has Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano most likely departing the starting rotation as free agents and Russell Martin leaving a void behind the plate as well. They also have outfielders in abundance in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows on the way.

Here’s one possible suggestion. We can offer Jon Niese, Dillon Gee (or Bartolo Colon), Kevin Plawecki and Wilmer Flores (or Daniel Murphy) in exchange for Josh Bell and RF Keon Broxton (ETA 2015),  C Reese McGuire (ETA 2017) and CF/LF Harold Ramirez (ETA 2017).

Flores or Murphy can takeover at 3B and allow Pedro Alvarez to move to 1B, and we can kick in some money to help cover part of Niese’s or Colon’s salary if necessary.

It does leave us a little bare behind the plate in case of injury, and of course means SS comes down to a competition between Tejada, Tovar and Reynolds while we await Cecchini or Rosario. But the deal would certainly accomplish the Pirates’ offseason goals and pretty much solidifies the Mets outfield for many years to come in the most impactful way possible.

It also gets us a top notch catching prospect who hits left-handed to boot, and more importantly, maintains all of our elite young pitching.

The OF in 2016 at some point would be:

LF Grandy, Nimmo
CF Lagares, Nimmo
RF Bell, Nimmo

What do you think?

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Jason Bay. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo presented

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Mad Money, Bad Returns, Sad Outcomes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mad-money-bad-returns-sad-outcomes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mad-money-bad-returns-sad-outcomes.html/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 18:37:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169489 adam laroche

Adam LaRoche killed a huge Elk this past week for his hunting show Buck Commander. LaRoche (who I’ve never liked much — not sure why) posted a picture of it on Twitter and my first thought was damn that is one big ass elk …

Dan Haren had this to say: “Poor elk, just minding his own business eating some leaves and boom, dead. At least you’re having fun.”

LaRoche is puzzling to me for reasons that have nothing to do with his elk. One reason why he may have felt the urge to go out and shoot stuff was because his team declined his $15 million dollar option. If my employer declined to pay me fifteen hundred I’d be bummed. I tend to blow my stack every time my health care premium goes up. Now what might be especially annoying to LaRoche is that another first baseman in the same league got $15.3 million after hitting .332 with 10 homers and 31 RBI to his .259 average, 26 homers and 92 RBI. That other first baseman is Michael Cuddyer and his qualifying offer will actually pay him more than LaRoche stood to make in Washington.

Confusing isn’t it?

You might point out that one team is a contender and may be inclined to spend more, but It is in fact the contender who discarded LaRoche and his gold glove caliber defense. The Nationals have a glut of infielders and wish to move Ryan Zimmerman to first (who by the way hit .280 with 5 homers and 38 RBI last year), thereby weakening a defense already ranked 20th in baseball. Make sense yet?

The Rockies, who saw an awful lot of money go to their disabled list last season, are offering $15.3 million to a guy who only played 49 games and will be 36 on opening day. In virtually the same breath they let it be known they are willing to part with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez who are due to make $36 million combined next year, and who together played just 161 games in 2014.

If that doesn’t make your head spin, how about the guy who was saddened about the Elk … Dan Haren had a $10 million option kick in for 2015 even though he had an ERA over 4.00 and got shelled in the playoffs. I wouldn’t be so sad.

On the Mets, Jacob deGrom and Juan Lagares made just under $1 million and combined for a WAR of 4.2, while Curtis Granderson and David Wright made $33 million and combined for a WAR of 2.9.  Weird enough?

At some point, no matter how dense some of these front offices are, no matter how determined they are to throw money around, it has to occur to them that players are aging faster and that big free agent contracts are becoming albatrosses more often than not. The free agent mega-deal may soon become a thing of the past. Nevertheless, in the here and now many teams continue to spend.

jay bruce

Pick a team, any team … what the hell lets go with the Reds. Their top four players by salary were Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Homer Bailey, and Jay Bruce, who earned $42 million in 2014. Those four had a combined 1.8 WAR. Now lets take the top 4 players on the Reds for WAR. They would be Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, Billy Hamilton, and Kristopher Negron, who combined for a 14.5 WAR and earned $2 million … that’s right two million between the four of them.

How about a team with a bigger payroll and a winning record, the Angels. Their top four players combined for 20.1 WAR. Those players were Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Kole Calhoun. They earned a combined $19.3 million ($24.2 million if you count Trout’s signing bonus). Their four highest paid players (Pujols, Hamilton, Wilson, and Weaver) earned $70 million dollars and had a combined 4.4 WAR. Yikes!

The Giants? Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and Brandon Crawford led the team with a 16.1 combined WAR, earning $35.2 million. Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Pence, and Posey led in salary at $63.5 million with a 10.3 WAR. The world champs had the lowest salary / WAR differential of all the teams I looked at. Incidentally, Madison Bumgarner made $3.5 million in 2014.

You wonder why any team would offer a long term deal to anyone over the age of 29? Post steroids, players are falling off sooner and declines are much steeper than they were even as recently as 6 or 7 years ago.

The Nationals probably did the right thing declining LaRoche’s option, but they replaced him with someone just as brittle and even more expensive, while the Dodgers are on the hook for $10 million for Haren and his over 4.00 ERA. The Mets better hope against hope that Wright ages well, and the Rockies? The Rockies have lost their minds. Maybe it’s the thin air.

The more I look at these salary numbers vs. performance value the more I become mortified at the thought of the Mets trading any of our prized youngsters away for anyone over the age of 29. Now more than ever, baseball is a young man’s game, and crazy amounts of money thrown at over the hill players with declining skills isn’t going to change that.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Jed Lowrie, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/free-agent-profile-jed-lowrie-ss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/free-agent-profile-jed-lowrie-ss.html/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 18:38:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169080 jed lowrie

Jed Lowrie

Position: Shortstop

Bats: Both, Throws: Right

Age on Opening Day: 30

2014 Snapshot

In his second season with the Oakland Athletics, Jed Lowrie saw his offensive numbers drop across the board. After posting a .290/.344/.446 line (a great line for a shortstop) with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, and two triples, Lowrie put up a .249/.321/.355 slash with just six home runs in 136 games. His wRC+ dropped 27 points from a 120 in 2013 to a 93 this year. The only real positive from Lowrie’s 2014 season was higher defensive numbers. While his defense still wasn’t great, most metrics had him at ten to 20 runs below average last season and about ten runs better than that this year. If anything positive came out of this year, it’s that Lowrie’s 2013 defense was an anomaly.

Pros

Past Hanley Ramirez, Lowrie has the highest upside among free agent shortstops. When at the top of his game, he is a top three offensive shortstop (he was second in wRC+ in 2013). Very few shortstops are able to put up the kind of numbers that Lowrie can.

At his best, Lowrie can be a solid home run threat for his position. Over his entire career, he has a 162 game average of 15 home runs. Only five shortstops hit 15 or more homers last year and only two did it while posting a wRC+ of 120 or greater.

From the numbers, Lowrie looks like a solid bet to return to old form. His lower-than-usual BABIP points towards a higher batting average in the future and a HR/FB rate of just 3.2 percent, half his career rate, the power could come back as well.

Cons

While Lowrie has shown he can be an elite hitter, the question remains whether he can be consistently elite. This season, he had a 1.9 fWAR and a 0.8 rWAR, not the kind of numbers that warrant a starting spot on an MLB team let alone the multi-year contract Lowrie will likely receive. However, this is the type of player the Mets will be looking at if they decide to solve the shortstop issue through free agency. They don’t have the money to go after Hanley Ramirez, so unless Sandy Alderson decides to make a trade for a shortstop, Lowrie is probably the best option.

Turning to his defense, Lowrie hasn’t bee fantastic with the glove either. Even tossing out his dreadful 2013 defensive numbers, Lowrie is probably only an average defender. While that is probably not going to be a sticking point for a team starving for offense, it is still something to consider.

Projected Contract

It is always difficult to predict what players like Lowrie will get on the free agent market. Had he hit free agency after last season, he may have gotten a four or five year deal in the $60 million range. Even without a qualifying offer, Lowrie won’t get anything close to that this offseason. That being said, with the way free agency has gone the past few years, a two or three-year contract for a player coming off a down year like Lowrie is more than reasonable. I’m predicting a three year, $27 million deal.

Previous MMO Free Agent Profiles:

Yasmani Tomas, LF/RF

Nick Markakis, RF

Colby Rasmus, OF

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