Mets Merized Online » Billy Beane Wed, 22 Feb 2017 02:46:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Thirty Years Later, Looking At Mets Top Prospects Sun, 13 Mar 2016 00:00:51 +0000 Gregg Jefferies.  Alone.  Which is where most of the team wanted to see him.

Thirty years ago, prior to one of the most magical season in New York Mets team history, a young shortstop by the name of Kevin Elster was the Mets #1 prospect according to Baseball America. Elster became one of three players on this Top 10 list to play for the Mets in the 1986 championship season.

Here is BA’s Top 10 prior to 1986 season:

1.) Kevin Elster - Made his Major League debut with the Mets in September of 1986 going 5 for 30 in 19 games and hitless in four postseason at bats. Played in seven seasons for the Mets hitting .224/.288/.343 with his best year coming in 1989 when he had 25 doubles, 10 homeruns, and was worth 1.9 dWAR at short. He set the record for most consecutive errorless games at shortstop with 88 which is now held by a another former Met, Mike Bordick with 110 games.

He would go on to play six more years (13 overall), setting career highs in almost every offensive category during the 1996 season with the Texas Rangers. He hit .252/..317/.462 with 24 homeruns, 99 runs batted in, and 32 doubles. Drafted by the Mets in the 2nd round of the 1984 January draft.

2.) Shawn Abner - The Mets selected the outfielder with the first overall pick in the 1984 draft only to trade him in December of 1986 in the eight player deal to get Kevin McReynolds from the Padres. Batted only .227/.269/.323 in six major league seasons that included time with the Padres, White Sox, and Angels. His career came full circle in 1995 when he last played professionally for the Mets Triple-A team the Norfolk Tides.

3.) Stan Jefferson - The Mets former first round pick (1983) made his debut with the Mets in 1986 as well, going just 5 for 24 in the regular season. That was it for his Metropolitan career as he was traded after the season to the Padres as part of the previously mentioned McReynolds deal.

The speedy outfielder (144 steals in first 4 MiLB seasons) played in parts of six big league seasons and hit .216/.276/.326 in his career spanning 296 games. Played his final MLB game in 1991 with the Cincinnati Reds but was a replacement player with the Mets in spring training of 1995. He would later go on to become part of the NYPD, he was on duty at the time of the 9/11 attacks and worked at ground zero of the World Trade Center.

4.) David West - The tall lefty was taken by the Mets in the 4th round of the 1983 draft and made his Major League debut 1988. The next season he struggled to start the year with a 7.40 ERA in 24.1 innings for the Mets before he was part of the package that brought Frank Viola to Flushing. Best part of is New York tenure was his ability with the bat, he was 3 for 7 with a double.

West went on to pitch in ten big league seasons, he finished with a 31-38 record and 4.66 ERA.



5.) Randy Myers - He is the third and final player on this lists that played for the Mets in their last championship season. Randy actually made his MLB debut the prior year with two scoreless innings and gave up five runs in 10.2 innings in 1986. He finished his Mets career with 56 saves and a 2.74 ERA while striking out 264 batters in 240 innings over five seasons. The Mets took him in the 1st round (9th overall) of the 1982 draft.

Overall, he collected 347 saves and struck out 884 hitters in 884.2 innings during the regular season. He excelled in the postseason as well, picking up eight saves and won two games in the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Accolades include being a four-time All-Star selections, three top 10 Cy Young finishes, and four top 25 MVP finishes.

6.) Gregg Jefferies - Taken by the Mets in the first round of the 1985 draft and made his MLB debut two years later during the 1987 season as a 20-year old. In five seasons in New York he hit . 276/.332/.416 with 96 doubles, 42 homeruns, and 205 RBI while walking 140 times compared to 134 strikeouts.

He enjoyed a career year in 1993 with the St. Louis Cardinals when he batted .342/.408/.485 with 16 homeruns, 83 RBI, and 46 stolen bases. It was his first of two straight seasons in which he was an all-star and finished in the top 25 for MVP voting. He retired after 14 seasons in the majors and was Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 1986 and 1987.

7.) Keith Miller - Signed as an amateur free agent in 1984 with the Mets, made his debut in 1987 hitting .373 with eight stolen bases in 25 games. His final season in New York was his best, hitting .280/.345/.411 while playing six different positions.

After the season he was traded along with Jefferies and McReynolds to the Royals for Bill Pecota and Bret Saberhagen. In nine major league seasons he hit .262/.323/.351 in 1326 at bats. Once his playing days were over he became an agent for Aces Inc. and was part of the reason why David Wright chose the agency.



8.) Billy Beane - The Mets took Beane with the 23rd pick in the 1980 draft and gave him a $125,000 signing bonus to keep him from going to Stanford. He never lived up to expectations as a player, getting only 18 at bats with the Mets before they traded him in 1986 to the Twins for Tim Teufel.

The day after being reassigned to the minors in spring of 1990 he asked General Manager Sandy Alderson to give him a job as a scout instead. In 1997 he became the GM of the A’s succeeding Alderson and I’m sure you now the rest of the story thanks to Moneyball which is a great book by the way.

9.) Jose Bautista - The right-handed pitcher was signed by the Mets in 1981 out of the Dominican Republic. After pitching for the Double-A Jackson Mets in 1987 the Mets left him unprotected and he was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Orioles.

Jose was 32-42 with a 4.62 ERA and 1.317 WHIP in nine major league seasons with five different teams. He finished with 312 games pitched which is in the top 10 all-time for Jewish pitchers. He has been a pitching coach in the minor leagues since 2001 including the last five seasons with the Kannapolis Intimidators, the Chicago White Sox Class-A affiliate.

10.) Reggie Dobie – The only player on this list to never make it to the major leagues, topping out at AAA for both the Mets and the Mariners. The right-handed pitcher finished his minor league career going 59-44 with a 3.56 ERA in 892.2 innings.

Definitely some big swing and misses in this group, Mets did manage to get value out of a few these guys in trades. Last month I took a look at the Mets Top Prospects from 1983 which was a group that turned out much better with the likes of Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden.

Be sure to check out, your #1 source for Mets prospect news! We recently named Wuilmer Becerra our #6 prospect in the latest installment of the Top 80 countdown.

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Mets Face A Precarious Situation With Daniel Murphy Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:43:06 +0000 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

This has been a hot topic for a while and now that the offseason has arrived, it will continue to swell. Daniel Murphy is coming off another solid year in which he hit .289/.332/.403/.735, leading the Mets in a number of offensive categories including hits, doubles and runs scored. He now enters his final year of team control before becoming a free-agent. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, thinks that the time may have arrived 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.”

These are all valid points. 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, the time is now. They can’t afford to let Murphy just walk away the way Jose Reyes did a few years ago.

Murphy has value and for Sandy Alderson, getting value out of trades has been his specialty. He has squeezed top prospects like Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud out of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey. But now things are different and expectations are higher. He’ll have to trade Murphy for a player or players who can step right in and help the team now.

Another possibility Rubin pointed out was that there have been internal discussions about trading Murphy at the deadline in 2015 rather than now. When you play that out, it doesn’t add up. If the Mets plan to compete in 2015, trading off what will likely be one of their better hitters doesn’t make sense (just ask Billy Beane). So if you’re going to do it, the time to trade Murphy is now.

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.

Contributed to by Joe D. 

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Bowden Suggests 5-Player Trade Between Mets and A’s Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:55:54 +0000 Tommy+Milone

In an article for ESPN Insider, Jim Bowden proposes four different blockbuster trades he would like to see happen before the deadline and one of the trades involves the Mets and A’s.

Mets receive: LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Ryan Cook and 1B Nate Freiman 

A’s receive: 2B Daniel Murphy and RHP Bartolo Colon

A’s GM Billy Beane already made one blockbuster deal, but why stop there? The previous trade already gives the team its best chance at winning a championship since Beane became a GM, but the team has one remaining need: a solid second baseman. Why not get greedy and trade for Murphy, who is leading the National League in hits? While he’s at it, why not reacquire Colon for another year and a half, giving the A’s a two-season chance for a championship?

That would give the A’s a rotation of Sonny GrayScott Kazmir, Samardzija, Colon and Jason Hammel, with Jesse Chavez on the ready, and that would give them a much better chance of beating postseason nemesis the Detroit Tigers. With Murphy, the A’s will have lengthened their lineup and eradicated the only position in which they don’t have an above-average major leaguer.

In return, the Mets get 27-year-old Tommy Milone, who won 13 games in 2012 and 12 games in 2013 and is 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this year. Sure, he’s a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s also 14 years younger than Colon, and his finesse ways would blend well with hard throwers Matt HarveyZack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.

Meanwhile, Ryan Cook would upgrade the Mets’ bullpen and is expendable for the A’s, and if he stays healthy, he could develop into a closer. The key to the deal for the Mets could be Freiman, who has tremendous power from the right side. Many scouts think that if he’s given the chance to play every day at first base, he could end up being a 30-homer, 100-RBI producer. He just needs the opportunity.

I like Bowden, but he should stay out of the hypothetical trade business. While I’ve always been a big fan of Milone, and was surprised to see him bounced from the rotation and demoted after the Samardzija trade, I don’t see the upside in this deal for the Mets.

There is not one top prospect here and it’s very debatable that Freiman and Cook find any success with the Mets.

If the purpose of moving Colon is to open up a spot in the rotation for the return of Matt Harvey and the likelihood that one of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard join the rotation in 2015, what role does Milone serve?

And where exactly is the proven major league bat this team is looking for? How can you trade Murphy and not get a legitimate hitter back?

This is an awful return for the Mets. It would set us back another two years at least.

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Forward Thinking: The Evolution Of Being One Step Ahead Mon, 20 Jan 2014 15:34:31 +0000 Baseball has always been pioneered by forward-thinkers. These visionary minds have paired their knowledge of the game with foresight to developed ways of staying one step ahead of their competition. However, now with every aspect of the game dissected by experts, media and fans it has become harder to be original.

In 1919 Branch Rickey took the reins in St. Louis and began transforming the struggling, financially-plagued Cardinals. He established the first farm system as an inexpensive means of developing players internally. Minor leagues had been exclusively independent until this time with players being bought and sold at will. Rickey exploited the system by signing young, unknown talent for cheap and by 1926 St. Louis had won their first World Series.

Rickey continued to revolutionize the game in the well-known integration movement. The Brooklyn Dodgers broke down barriers when they signed Jackie Robinson in 1946. Rickey saw this as an untapped pool of talent that could help build revenue and bring championships to Brooklyn. Although championships eluded them, the Dodgers won six pennants in nine years after Robinson arrived in Brooklyn. Much like his Cardinals of years past, Rickey built Brooklyn into the era’s top National League team.

1975 began the era of free agency with wealthy teams gaining a steady advantage over the field. Between 1976 and 2000, the Yankees won nine pennants and six World Series Titles. The Mets signed Bobby Bonilla in 1992. This contract still stands as the highest percentage jump in yearly salary for the game’s highest paid player (Strawberry (LA) $3,800,000 to Bonilla (NY) $6,100,000). Since 1975, the highest paid player in baseball has gone from receiving $240,000/year to $30,000,000/year, representing that championships could be purchased now rather than manufactured.

In the most recent decade, Bill James and Billy Beane were credited with the invention of sabremetrics and beginning the era of advanced statistics. In 2002, the Yankees payroll totaled $133,429,757 while Oakland sat at $41,942,665. Beane and Paul DePodesta knew that they couldn’t compete if they continued to play the same game as large market team. With Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada all chasing lucrative deals, Beane turned his attention away from traditional scouting and toward numbers such the ability to maximize run productivity with On-Base Percentage. Oakland and New York each won 103 games that season despite the huge salary gap.

As the money continued to get bigger so did the cost of failure. With salary demands continuing to sky rocket and many teams adopting the moneyball style of management, teams are trying to configure new ways to get ahead.

This season the Yankees failed to make the playoffs with a record payroll while Tampa Bay, Oakland and Pittsburgh all qualified for the postseason despite a combined payroll less than that of New York’s $228,995,945.

Theo Epstein appears to be making a play as the next baseball mind trying to get one step ahead. With new rules implemented, the Cubs began to chase additional international free agent money through trade.

Epstein and the Cubs might be onto something with this big picture view. The most significant costs associated with signing talented international free agents are the time and resources required for scouting/player development. With media and baseball insiders following every move nowadays, it’s unlikely that this strategy can remain under-the-radar the way that Rickey’s farm system stayed discrete for so many years. With that said, Chicago managed to land three of the top 10 international signings in 2013.

In a sports culture that demands success, Epstein’s new approach will require patience. With Chicago having lost 90+ games each of the last three seasons, it makes sense for Epstein to spend on a revolutionary strategy rather than spend more time rebuilding a depleted team in a domestic market that no longer holds any secrets.

The Cubs entered the season with their top four prospects (according to Baseball America) all imported internationally and they are now joined by the talented “2013 recruiting class”.

Despite their growing numbers in the MLB, international talent is by far the most abundant and highest value source of acquiring talent. While the Mets used the 11th overall pick to select and sign 17-year-old Dominic Smith to a $2.6 million signing bonus, Chicago signed the number one international prospect, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, to a $2.8 million signing bonus.

If you choose to view the international signing period as the MLB Draft 2.0 then the Cubs essentially grabbed four top-10 picks in 2013 with Kris Bryant, Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Jen-Ho Tseng.

It will be interesting to see where the Cubs are in five years compared to the Mets.


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OK, So What Exactly Is The Real Plan Again? Mon, 23 Dec 2013 16:06:11 +0000 Sandy Alderson 2Oscar Wilde, who would have loved modern baseball for all its hubris and wonderful folly, is quoted as having said, “One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead”. On this rather uneventful Monday, with the new year, 2014, just around the corner, an analogous baseball corollary to the Wilde quote comes to mind: “Does a GM’s real plan ever happen?”.

Clearly, the GM of the Mets professes to be a man guided by a distinct baseball philosophy, one that has presumably helped forge his real plan for the Mets, and yet despite all his condescending lecturing to the dimwitted fan base who, in his words give or take, are beyond such subtleties he seems to violate the implementation of its precepts at every turn. Put another way, with apologies to Mr. Wilde, will this GM’s real plan ever happen?

As many supporters of the GM point out whenever ‘the plan’ is even remotely held up to the light, the work he has done to make the farm system relevant again is notable, although most of this improvement is almost entirely the result of two very good trades he made, and another that fetched two prospects with some promise, one who is counted on in the bullpen in 2014. Still, the purchase from the two very good trades, Wheeler, Syndergaard, and d’Arnaud, were all jewels of other farm systems, and were cleaved from these teams for immediate gain, not the promise of tomorrow, a crucible that often ends poorly for the more desperate of the two sides. No doubt the GM did well in these trades, very well indeed — on paper. Such is the almost mystical allure of high end prospects in baseball — who, strictly by the percentages, too often fail to live up to the advanced billing in the big show.

I have written about strikeouts as it relates to this GM’s team building philosophy, and many dissenting posters on MMO, in response, have used the adage, or some proximity of it, that simply measuring strikeouts in a vacuum is a relic of the past. They proclaim new baseball metrics are the order of the new day, as if baseball has really changed much through a century or so. True, of course — the greatest home run hitters of all time also hold the records for the most strikeouts. More runs still win games, not WAR calculations. But the point wasn’t that. Still isn’t about strikeouts. Never was. Its about inconsistency, incompetence, blatant manipulation, and cynical disregard for the truth or some combination of all four to executing a plan promised from day one. You know who else suffer these same maladies — used car salesmen, swamp land salesmen, and just about anybody on Wall Street dialing for dollars. You can just never pin them down.

The GM of the Mets could sign the most notorious strikeout hitters of all time for all I care about strikeouts, if he said the plan from the start was to sign guys who strike out and hit home runs and drive in runs. Davey Johnson (and one presumes Frank Cashen who built the teams) thrived on good pitching and the three run home run, and it served him / them very well. The point here is that the current GM, in his first interview and each time asked since, has consistently said that striking out so much was an issue on the Mets that he intended on repairing. Curious then that the Mets strike out far more now than Minaya’s last team in 2010, a very bad one, who were eleventh best, at 6.76 strikeouts per 9 innings, and scored a total of 656 runs. In stark contrast, the Mets were fourth worst in striking out in 2013, with 8.54 strikeouts per 9 innings, and scored 619 runs.

chris-young-baseball-hq-4_3Even more telling, the 2006 Mets scored 834 runs, and were fourteenth worst in strikeouts, with 6.61 per game — the kind of effective strike out / run producing ratio that I believe the current GM is aspiring to. Ask Matt Harvey if he could have used a few of those runs from 2006, or even 2010. These aren’t straw man stats, as some accuse numbers of being when they don’t quite fit into the agenda. Three years later, where’s the systemic roster fixing? Where’s the implementation of this GM’s real plan? Maybe he needs to consult with his predecessor to get some pointers on the practical relationship between striking out and producing more runs. When you have both like the Mets have the past three seasons, and will most likely again next year — high strike outs, poor run production — something is fundamentally wrong with the execution of the plan. Will Granderson and Young change this dynamic? On the surface, they certainly don’t seem to fit into the GM’s so-called plan, unless you jam them in and hope for a better outcome than logic suggests.

Would Shin-Soo Choo, who is a sabermetric marvel who does happen to strike out his fair share, leading off for the Mets for what the GM spent on Granderson and Young be a more natural fit for the GM’s stated long term plan? Would it be more aligned to his team building philosophy? A career .389 OBP, and 162 game averages of 20 home runs, 81 RBI and 94 runs with a lifetime .288 BA says yes, resoundingly. He fits the GM’s stated philosophy, fits a cogent long term baseball plan, and at the same time works within the owner’s payroll constraints. Its far more fun right now to imagine Choo raising up a World Series trophy in 5 years with a young pitching staff fully developed than, well, whoever the Mets replace stopgaps Granderson and Young with. Choo could have been the first player signed in that plan, the long term plan, that has the Mets challenging for championships in years 3 to 7 of his contract.

An aside. I read a number of the posts on MMO when the Choo signing with Texas was announced. I was amazed — stunned, really — at how many fans professed relief that Choo wasn’t signed by Mets. Bullet dodged. Nothing but a polished turd. On and on went the rollicking back slapping, as if the Mets couldn’t use a player of this caliber on their roster right now, and as if it was actually their money that would pay this player. Further, this notion that Choo will be too old at the end of this contract, while Granderson, at virtually the same ages in his four year contract, will not be is so disingenuous one would have to be drunk on the Kool-aid to believe otherwise.

USATSI_7400954_154511658_lowresWhy is Choo too old, and Granderson is not, when the ages match? Again, its gross revisionism for agenda sake, and nothing more, because the argument collapses on its own weight. Moreover, Choo has better lifetime stats, and the main point, he’s more of a metrics guy, who should age better than a home run hitter in a huge ball park. And guess what? One will be 36 at the end of his contract, and the other will be, wait for it … 36. So if one is too old, they both are, if Granderson is a great sign, then so too is Choo — but that might be a tad too logical for some tastes. Yankee fans don’t seem fazed by having so many long term contracts, some worse than others. Yes, players signed to long term contracts break down, and get old. To the Yankees, its almost a collective yawn, “So what? Who’s the big free agent this winter? Tanaka — go get him!”.

The way they have spent this off season should turn Mets fans green with envy. The Yankees would have loved to have signed Choo, who appears to have taken less from Texas. Along with Beltran. And Ellsbury. And McCann. Maybe Tanaka, if his team grants permission. Imagine these guys on the Mets. You get the picture. Yet some Mets fans are ready to hold a parade down the canyon of champions for their GM — who has actually spent less than what came off the books. Insert here all the blithering rhetoric about net gross revenues this or that, and severe debt repayments. The Yankees paid for their stadium, too, which at $1.5 billion was twice what Citi Field cost to build — what about the Yankees debt? Who’s paying that off — yes, the Yankees, albeit, like the Mets, with tax and other concessions. Even this plaint about the Mets / Wilpon’s great debt repayment is a shill’s ploy to deflect the real issue that perhaps the Wilpons are diverting baseball money to their real estate business.

Which segues nicely to the Colon signing, which has been universally hailed by the fan base on MMO — albeit curiously with similar stipulations and equivocations shading each ringing endorsement, as if something deep inside is screaming for them to hedge their assessments of Colon — just in case it blows up. Yet everything about this signing screams hypocrisy — and double speak — from the GM. He won’t sign a relief pitcher, LaTroy Hawkins, a stunning physical marvel who hits the weight room instead of taking PEDs as a shortcut to hard work (what a concept?), who brought class and high level performance to the Mets, when, frankly, it has been in short order recently with this GM’s signings. Yet for an extra million dollars he is determined by this GM to be too much of a risk at this age. This makes sense? Rod Serling anyone?

bartolo colonOf course, before the howling starts, from a purely baseball standpoint you can make a case for Colon, more so if you close your eyes, pinch your nose and completely eliminate a conscience from the process. He should, rather amply at that, be able to bridge the Harvey gap, unless, of course, whatever fountain of youth PED use provides is, in fact, actually flushed from his system and he pitches to his age, and previous arm and shoulder ailments.

But however this gets spun around on its head, there remains the intractable reality that the same GM who unceremoniously let Hawkins walk away, signs a player who a season ago was banned for PEDs, and who in the 5 seasons before he was caught cheating won only 22 games, total, and only averaged 84 innings per season. Hawkins is precisely the epitome of the type of player who deserves to be financially rewarded, the kind a fan base can embrace for integrity and honor and relentless class and really rally around, and Colon is quintessentially the opposite, as undeserving as they come, seemingly wholly lacking in anything remotely called a moral compass, seemingly cut from the same ilk who must confuse picking up a needle to actually exercising. Yet, somehow, and I swear I can hear Rod Serling’s voice right now, Colon fits the GM’s plan and Hawkins doesn’t. Colon, the cheater, gets the big contract, and Hawkins, who plays by the rules, gets dumped. For a lousy million dollars savings. Is this the real plan — or have we, indeed, entered the Twilight Zone?

Moreover, is anyone out there wondering how a superior GM, Billy Beane, who had a choice between Colon, his own player who he watched win 18 games for him, and Scott Kazmir, and he took Kazmir, same years, just about the same money? Hmmm — I wonder why. What did Beane know? What could Beane no longer abide about Colon? That clean, he’d break down? Or dirty, he didn’t want him anymore? Think about it next time you think Colon was the wiser choice over Scott Kazmir. Its difficult to comprehend, but the Mets have missed out on Kazmir twice now. One presumes the GM watched Kazmir mow down the Mets last year, so dominating them — and so easily striking them out — it was truly cringe-worthy embarrassing to watch.

Except for a few brave, strident voices in the posts on MMO, where is the groundswell of outrage for this signing — moral, ethical, even baseball-wise? Can Mets fans boo ARod and Bonds and the cheaters like them, and applaud Colon, just because they think he can win a few games next season for their team? That is implicitly the definition of hypocrisy, and if the moral high ground is to be so arbitrarily depreciated for the sake of winning baseball games, than doesn’t that say more about the GM’s code of ethics and team building fidelity, than it does for a starving fan base, who are being force fed these moral dilemmas? Colon comes with a hefty price tag that is measured in more than dollars, and the implications and compromises can only be ignored if we willingly turn our backs on his past indiscretions for a narrow, short term benefit. Is the impeachment of a player’s market viability through failing drug tests and being banned merely only another MoneyBall opportunity to exploit for this GM, regardless of the stench? Clearly Beane didn’t want him, under any circumstances, and that is truly damning. Is this the real plan?

Too many of this GM’s previous free agent signings who have already played for the Mets share this in common: low character, low production, high fan frustration level, high cost, and the same GM who handed them the pen when they signed their contracts. Yet the GM keeps going back to the very same foul-smelling well for more. Will Colon, the admitted cheater, join this group? Will advanced age, lack of conditioning, lack of dietary discipline, past injuries and presumably no longer taking PEDs to cheat his way through next season lead to a total and early collapse? If Tejada was called fat and out of shape by this GM last season, what does that make Colon? And what message does it send to Tejada and any other young player who decides to skip training, eat everything in sight, and when injured or not playing well, cheat, because their so-called mentor did, and look where it got him, after all? Has the GM given his tacit consent for cheating, for taking expedient short cuts through illegal means whenever the greater good — winning baseball games — is in the balance? But never mind, goes the hue and cry by the majority. Byrd turned out okay. And if Colon needs to use the needle again to get through next year, that’s his business – wink, wink, wink. This is baseball not Boy Scouts. So much noise about nothing, right? He did win 18 games last year, after all, didn’t he? Gees, shut up already. I’m tired of reading this puke. Bang another drum, hunh?

Here’s the opportunity that was missed…

shin-soo choo

– Choo in right, leading off (high OBP, high run production, and at 7 years, a part of the long term solution)…

– The big-hearted Kazmir on the mound (much more of a prototypical MoneyBall signing than Colon, much more cosmically appealing to Mets fans who rued him being traded away, and someone who sacrificed and worked very, very hard to get back into the game the right way, and who, like Dickey, is an inspiration for all athletes, pro or not)…

– And Hawkins (the definition of a professional athlete, and the man that the GM should be saluting as the penultimate example of a professional baseball player to the younger pitchers, not Colon), who in a very young bullpen would have been a much needed anchor.

– Hell, with some payroll creativity and a true $90 million payroll, he could even have reasonably fit Granderson into this haul, too — a terrific player, of high moral character.

Strangely, these players, this plan, this roster, more closely approximates what the Mets GM’s plan should have looked like if he was being faithful to his own stated plan in the first place.

It is philosophically aligned to a baseball ethos of honor, commitment and integrity, it adheres to a short term plan and a sustainable long term plan, the total salaries are within the constraints of the budget this year and for the next seven years, and to a player, not just two out of three, their character is unimpeachable.

You know, the kind of players you thought this GM, purportedly a man of impeccable character, and a team building visionary, would have brought to this franchise when he finally implemented his real plan — not some makeshift, on the fly, reactionary, stick this square peg into that round hole, this spooks us, that spooks us, the markets too hot, too cold, non-existent, over-ripe, keep looking under the rocks, scour the suspended lists, the injury lists, pinch another penny abomination the GM calls a plan.

And then he’s heralded for all the money he has spent so far this off-season and how wisely he spent it. Now that’s a special genius, and I bow to it.

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A’s Won’t Trade Jed Lowrie Who Was Atop Mets’ Wish List Fri, 15 Nov 2013 17:00:35 +0000 jed lowrie

If you thought when the Oakland A’s signed veteran infielder Nick Punto to a one-year deal that it would open the door for them to  trade shortstop Jed Lowrie, think again.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Lowrie, who was atop the Mets’ wish list of potentially available shortstops, is staying put and not going anywhere.

A’s assistant GM David Forst said in an email Wednesday: “Punto’s signing has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie. Jed is our starting shortstop.”

That echoed what GM Billy Beane told The Post the previous day, that “there is no such thing as a definitive ‘no’ in Oakland,” but that the A’s feel they can win the AL West for a third straight year in 2014 and have no plans to move pieces, such as Lowrie, vital to that effort.

Lowrie, 29, had his best season in 2013 batting .290/.344/.446 in 662 plate appearances for the A’s, and he is a free agent after the 2014 season.

He would have made a nice backup plan should the Mets’ attempts to sign Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew failed.

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Are the Oakland A’s a Potential Trade Partner for the Mets? Tue, 12 Nov 2013 20:32:42 +0000

There are two general managers in today’s game that pioneered the incorporation of the moneyball concept into the Major Leagues. One of them was a former marine who was the first to adopt into the then little known Bill Jame’s philosophy of advanced statistics, while the other was a one-time elite outfield prospect whose hobbies include breaking bats, throwing chairs and analyzing sabermetrics in his spare time. Neither of them cares about what you think.

Alderson is the former and the teacher of the latter, the Oakland A’s Billy Beane, and if there is another GM in the game that values third party input less than Sandy, it would be his protégé running the A’s.

Last winter, they worked together to swap reserve outfielder Collin Cowgill for third base prospect Jefry Marte. The move was low risk for both as Oakland was sporting a crowded outfield with the acquisition of Chris Young while the Mets gave up a marginal prospect with the upside of a replacement player. Cowgill was designated for assignment and was on a different team before the weather warmed up, while Marte put together a pedestrian year for Oakland’s Double-A affiliate.

This year, I think there is a chance for them to make a more impactful move. On the Mets end are two first basemen (Davis and Duda) with less popularity in Queens than Miley Cyrus at a proper etiquette class. Yet both have displayed enough potential that they may interest Oakland who has a need at the 1B/DH position.

Oakland’s current first baseman is Brandon Moss, who put together a strong offensive campaign (30 HR, .859 OPS). However, his WAR rating was weighed down heavily by his inability to field. In contrast, A’s right fielder Josh Reddick had a dreadful year at the plate but still ended up with a higher WAR rating than Moss.

Brandon Moss 505 .256 .337 .859 30 2.2
Josh Reddick 441 .226 .307 .686 12 2.6

Their DH position was manned mostly by Seth Smith who is a non-tender candidate after an unimpressive season according to MLBTR. This makes me wonder if Billy Beane, who loves to buy low as much as any GM in baseball, would consider trading for Duda to be his DH or Davis to be his first baseman and slot Moss as his DH.

If the A’s do indeed have interest in either player, then the Mets can consider trading for LHP Brett Anderson. A former second round pick and top prospect, Anderson debuted with the A’s in 2009 and appeared well on his way to being a top of the rotation starter before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned in late 2012 and was impressive enough that the Kansas City Royals were rumored to be considering a deal involving Wil Myers for him. However, Anderson continued to battle injuries in 2013 and finished the season with a woeful 44 innings pitched and a 6.04 ERA.

His $8 million dollar option was picked up earlier this month with most speculating that he will be traded this offseason as the A’s will hold a full rotation when they presumably re-sign Bartolo Colon. If the Mets part with one half of the Double D tandem, then a swap for Anderson would be equivalent to trading for a different roll of dice for both teams, at positions that fit better with their respective needs. Brett Anderson is understandably a huge risk since he can no longer be optioned to Triple A if he falters early. My hope is that he can become serviceable and keep the Mets with a second mid rotation lefty if Niese gets hurt for whatever reason and a best case scenario of him becoming the rotation ace and worst case scenario that he is DFA’d when Montero/Thor are called up.

But Anderson isn’t the only name I am interested in. As someone who is coming around to the idea of pursuing Choo and believing the lure of playing in a highly populated Korean neighborhood is a major advantage for the Mets, I think it would be strategically beneficial for them to acquire an outfielder before negotiating with Boras as a way to increase their leverage and have a fall back option. A reasonable candidate from the A’s (if they are willing to trade him) would be Josh Reddick who appeared to have a breakout season in 2012, clubbing 32 homers while winning a gold glove. Last season, he regressed (likely due to a wrist injury) into a clone of Ike Davis at the plate but still managed to post a 2.6 WAR thanks to his superior defense.

The key to making a trade between these two teams is helped by each having multiple players that may interest the other team. In addition to filling out 1B/DH, the A’s are in market for a closer and 2B/SS as well.

Mets chips: Davis, Duda, Parnell, Black, Murphy, Tejada?, Valdespin?

A’s chips: Anderson, Reddick, Jemile Weeks

Most importantly, a Mets – A’s trade would take two GMs who do not care for convention and are willing to trade for players who do not appear to have immediate value. I believe Beane and Alderson have great respect for each other and that they can certainly find a high upside trade for both teams with the names above.

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MMO Flashback: Grady Sizemore Is Still Out There – A Risk The Mets Should Take? Thu, 07 Nov 2013 17:58:00 +0000 I wrote a piece last October questioning whether the Mets should take a shot on Grady Sizemore. He should be fully recovered from knee injuries now, and could be signed on a minor league deal.

Why not take a shot?

I’m not talking about making Sizemore the main signing this off-season, I’m talking about taking a shot on a player that could be had relatively cheap, and potentially be this year’s version of Marlon Byrd.

The Mets seem comfortable going with Juan Lagares in center field in 2014, which is good, because the Mets could slot Sizemore in left field, and not put the added strain of playing center on his knees. 

I’m not convinced Eric Young Jr. should be handed the starting left field job and be the leadoff hitter in 2014, so why not bring in Sizemore and have him compete for a corner outfield spot—especially after seeing EYJR’s salary is going to triple this season.

The Mets probably won’t be in a position to bring in two big bats for the outfield, and unless they flip a couple of players to gain a second big bat, Sizemore could be a nice, low-risk, high-reward signing this winter. 

Original Post – 10/16/12

This is not breaking news – the Mets are in need of a lead off hitter and outfielders as we move towards the 2013 season. Some people may be ready to close the door on Grady Sizemore‘s career, but there is still value there. We are still talking about a player that was on his way to super stardom before some injuries side tracked his career.

After missing the entire 2012 season, Sizemore should be fully healed, rested, and ready to finish what he started a few seasons ago. There isn’t a team in a better position to take a risk on Sizemore than the New York Mets.

Many people will scoff at my last statement and argue that the reward isn’t worth the risk in Sizemore’s case. They will argue he’s too injury prone. Seriously…who cares at this point? Beggars can’t be choosers. With the outlook of the Mets outfield in 2013, adding Sizemore would bring Mets fans a glimmer of hope, and add another player with superstar potential to help David Wright out (pending him re-upping with the team).

The bottom line is the Mets are going to have to take some risks if they want to be able to get competitive again, and fast. The Mets are a Moneyball team now, right? Well, if my memory serves me correctly, one of the main story lines in Moneyball was that they went after a player in Scott Hatteberg, who other teams were avoiding due to injury risk, because they saw value there. Even Billy Beane, lord Moneyball himself, understood that there has to be some sort of risk involved if you are ever going to achieve greatness.

Signing Sizemore on the cheap screams Moneyball.

It’s time for the Mets to start taking a some calculated risks. Sizemore may be a risk, but oh the reward the Mets would receive for taking that risk if Sizemore is even 2/3 the player he was in 2008. Cleveland seems ready to finally part ways with Sizemore who is a free-agent this off-season. reported in August that two scouts said that Sizemore is worth signing if there isn’t much guaranteed money at stake. Hopefully one of those scouts was from the New York Mets.

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In Baseball You Get What You Pay For? Not Really… Thu, 17 Oct 2013 15:33:16 +0000 Albert-Pujols

I was having an email discussion with one of my writers this morning about the virtues of WAR (Wins Above Replacement). It’s not a perfect stat by any means, but most of the time it gives you a fair indication of how good or bad a player performs overall.

I was kind of curious after our discussion and decided to do some research over at FanGraphs which has become one of my favorite haunts lately. In addition to some great reading backed with solid analysis, you can find numbers and rankings on just about anything you could possibly want.

But for this post, I’m going to present some research on WAR (I’m sure some of you will damn me for this) and also corresponding payrolls.

The following are the Top 10 Teams in Offensive WAR for the 2013 season:

  1. Boston Red Sox* – 36.6
  2. Tampa Bay Rays* – 30.3
  3. Oakland Athletics* – 27.6
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers* – 27.5
  5. Baltimore Orioles – 26.6
  6. Detroit Tigers* – 26.5
  7. Los Angeles Angels – 26.4
  8. San Francisco Giants – 26.3
  9. Atlanta Braves* – 25.3
  10. Cincinnati Reds* – 24.4

* Seven of the ten teams made the post season.

Only four of the top ten teams in Pitching WAR made the post season in 2013. (Surprising, huh?)

Now here are the Top 10 Teams in 2013 Payroll:

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers** – $220,395,196
  2. New York Yankees  - $203,445,586
  3. Philadelphia Phillies – $170,760,689
  4. Detroit Tigers** – $148,414,500
  5. Boston Red Sox** – $140,657,500
  6. San Francisco Giants – $136,042,112
  7. Los Angeles Angels – $127,896,250
  8. Chicago White Sox – $119,573,277
  9. Toronto Blue Jays  - $117,035,100
  10. Washington Nationals  - $114,194,270

** Three of the ten teams made the post season.

It’s amazing to see low revenue teams with bottom tier payrolls ranking in the top ten in offensive production. Tampa Bay and Oakland have been doing this for years now, with the Rays checking in with a $58 million payroll and the A’s residing in the $60 million area code. Both of them were in the bottom four with only the Marlins and Astros having spent less.

Of course Billy Beane has gotten plenty of notoriety for what he’s done and still doing in the Bay Area, but one general manager you hear or read so little about is the Rays’ Andrew Friedman.

Friedman doesn’t have any screenplays being written about him, but should be equally recognized for how he manages to keep the Rays in contention year in and year out in the toughest division in baseball – the American League East.

The Houston, Texas native initially started out as the Director of Baseball Development for the Rays from 2004 to 2005, before being promoted to general manager and eventually vice president as well. Friedman took over a team that lost 101 games in 2006 and were in the World Series two seasons later.

In the six years spanning 2008-2013, the Rays have posted a 550 – 423 record with a .563 winning percentage while making four post season appearances. It could have been five post season appearances, but despite winning 90 games in 2012, they were eliminated on the last day of the season.

I hear the word “genius” thrown about way too often in describing our general manager as well as others. But lets call a spade a spade here, and admit the real star among all general managers is Andrew Friedman – and what he’s done with the few financial resources he’s been given to work with, has been nothing short of genius and spectacular.

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Alderson On Track To Be First Mets GM To Have Three Straight Seasons Of Increasing Losses Mon, 16 Sep 2013 02:22:33 +0000 sandy

Adam Rubin points out that Mets GM Sandy Alderson is on track to become the first general manager in the 52 year history of the franchise to post increasing loss totals in each of his first three seasons.

After losing the first game in tonight’s doubleheader, the Mets have clinched their fifth consecutive losing season. It is the fourth-longest losing streak in franchise history.

As a general manager, Alderson now has a streak of eight straight losing seasons that goes back to his tenure with the Oakland A’s when he left after five consecutive losing seasons and gave way to Billy Beane.

The pressure will be on for Sandy this offseason, his fourth since taking over the Mets.

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Matt Cerrone Reports Alderson Will Step Down After 2014 If Wilpons Don’t Let Him Spend Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:53:11 +0000 Sandy Alderson talks to the media

MetsBlog’s Matt Cerrone has learned that unless the Mets let Sandy Alderson spend money to improve the team this coming offseason, he will resign as general manager of the team after 2014.

Sandy Alderson wants to significantly move this franchise forward in the next year or so. And, if it doesn’t happen, or if he isn’t allowed to spend a good portion of new money coming off the books because revenue is down again, he may very well choose to leave the team after his contract expires after 2014.

I’m surprised this post of his got by the censors at SNY.

If this is true, it only validates what I’ve been saying that Alderson’s only years where his teams went to the post season was when he had one of the top five payrolls in baseball when he was with Oakland.

I never bought into this whole “Sandy can win without spending” mantra that has dominated his tenure in New York. Without spending, Alderson has presided over eight straight losing seasons going back to San Diego and Oakland. By the time Billy Beane started incorporating his Moneyball techniques to acquire undervalued assets, Sandy was long gone. His role on those solid A’s years was as minimal as his character role in the movie – almost non-existent.

Alderson was brought here to change the culture, rebuild an under-performing roster, polish a very tarnished image, and restock the farm. The only thing he’s accomplished among those initiatives was the latter and it took trading a Cy Young and All Star outfielder, at the expense of the MLB roster, to accomplish it.

Cerrone also has learned that the Mets will now consider moving Zack Wheeler in the right deal for an outfielder.

As I’ve maintained since – forever – the Mets have nothing on the way in the minors, first round draft pick Brandon Nimmo is moving too slow, and there a lack of quality outfielders in this year’s free agency crop where ironically Carlos Beltran is the best of the bunch.

This team is in worse shape than it was when Sandy took over, and denying that only means you’re operating with blinders on. Even the Jeff and Fred Wilpon owned MetsBlog is now admitting as much. So what are you waiting for?

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The Great Divide: Where We Are Going and Where We Are Tue, 26 Mar 2013 20:10:39 +0000 If there’s one thing I can say about Mets fans if I were to use Twitter as the barometer, you could slice the entire fan base down the middle and the divisions are quite clear.

In the past 12 months, when anyone asked me to describe the state of the Mets fan base, my reply would always be this:

half hate like

So color me surprised when I came across some of the comments made by general manager Sandy Alderson yesterday, in an interview on

“I kind of have a sense of what they’re thinking, and that’s motivation in itself,” Alderson said. “My goal ultimately is for a lot of Mets fans to be happy with where we are — not where we’re going, but where we are.”

Close enough, right? Who knew we were so alike… :-)

The great thing about MMO is that both those of those sides frequent the site and defend their positions quite passionately – and for an unlucky bakers dozen – too passionately.

Alderson fully understands the resentment many fans have for him and the way he’s gone about it. He knows his offbeat, off-the-cuff style doesn’t resonate with many of the fans. But here’s another interesting quote from the same article regarding that very thing, and it came from newly appointed captain, David Wright:

“It’s obviously a difficult position when you’re trading Carlos Beltran, when you’re trading R.A. Dickey,” Wright said. “Sometimes it’s not the most popular thing to do. Fans are very expressive about how they feel. But in the grand scheme of things, he has a vision and a plan, and he stuck to that, whether it’s been a popular move. That’s what you want out of a general manager.”

Somewhere in Bayonne, I can sense someone is seething upon reading that.

In a way, the captain is correct. You do want a GM who isn’t swayed by the whims of fans as I told another blogger last week about him needing to see Travis d’Arnaud in the Opening Day lineup.

The way I see it, what’s the point of having a general manager if all he did was coddle to a vocal majority? We can get any sheep to do that. I can certainly tell you that Frank Cashen never did that. Whether Bing Devine or Johnny Murphy ever did, you would have to ask our Mets historian Barry Duchan. But I’ve never heard that was their style either.

Alderson acknowledges mistakes and does not run from the tough questions. Whenever I get the chance to speak with him, I like to needle him with those types of questions. But I think he understands that someone has to speak for the half that hates where we are – and I do hate where we are – make no mistake about it.

But I also know that sometimes it takes patience to build a winner, so I sit and wait like the rest of you, hoping that the other half are right about the future.

We’re putting a lot of our eggs in one basket, and I’ve seen this before – actually many times before and dozens upon dozens of times before if I were to include other teams.

Many of Frank Cashen’s prospects all came through for him. 50% of his top picks struck gold. Usually, as Billy Beane famously said, if you strike gold with just one out of fifty you’ve done a great job.

For Sandy Alderson’s sake, and of course the Mets’ sake too, I hope he strikes gold with his prospects, none of which have arrived yet.

“Are there things I would have done differently? Absolutely,” Alderson said. “In this business, you have to keep in mind that you’re not going to be right every time. But you have to be right often enough so that the team is successful. We haven’t been right often enough.”

Honesty is a good attribute to have if you wan’t to connect with ALL the fans in this town. We’re seeing more of that from him in the last few months.

Like him or not, Sandy Alderson is ours and the future of this team is in his hands. If you are not rooting for his success, I don’t think too highly of your Mets fandom.

Obviously, we can’t expect much from this current Mets team this season. I’ve yet to see anyone say the Mets are going to win the World Series this year – at least not on the record. But as for our future Mets team (2015?), I’ll leave you all with this quote from one of John Lennon’s songs,

“Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any tears.”

The Future

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MMO Post of the Week: Are Advanced Statistics Hurting Or Helping The Game? Fri, 11 Jan 2013 20:28:26 +0000 mmo encore presentationSomewhere along the line baseball became more than just a game.

Once upon a time, baseball was a simple game. The goal is to score more runs than your opponent. Each team is given 27 outs to score as many runs as they can. In order to score runs, a team’s players have to get on base. Once a player gets on base it was the other players’ jobs to drive them home to score runs. On the other hand, the defense’s job is to get 27 outs allowing the opposition to score the fewest amount of runs. Whoever scores more runs in 9 innings of play wins – simple.

Now let’s fast forward to the 1980s. The 1980s were famous for Nintendo, big hair bands, Reaganomics, and the invention of rotisserie baseball.

Fantasy baseball exploded onto the scene in the 80s, and the men that played this game were looking for ways to build better teams. They wanted to build better teams in order to take home the lucrative prize money that came along with winning their rotisserie league. They used different combinations of stats to form equations, which in return would spew out which players they should select on their team.

Yes, the advanced stats that the game uses today were ultimately developed by men that maybe never even played the game. They were simply looking to build better fantasy teams. It leads the people with advanced knowledge of how the game is played on the field to butt heads with those that sat at their desk and computer doing all the math.


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Bill James, the father of advanced statistics and sabermetrics, didn’t start to gather a serious following until the mid to late 1990s. Until then, he published his yearly baseball reviews and would sell 500 copies per year if he was lucky.

The game wasn’t ready for the story he was trying to tell. James was basically telling everyone in the game that they have been looking at the game improperly for nearly 100 years. Advanced statistics were born. He broke down nearly every single aspect of the game, except defense, which he was never able to develop an accurate statistical rating for.

But did the game really need the advanced statistics?

The game had survived over 100 years just fine without advanced statistics. But now, in every team’s organization, there are mathematicians working in this area. The question is, is it really necessary?

The reason why sabermetrics and advanced statistics took over the game in the 90s is because that is the when player salaries started to get to the point where some sort of projection and analysis was needed. Owners wanted to know if it was really worth it to spend the money on player X.

Baseball had officially become a full-fledged business.

In every MBA program across America, students are often required to take a course dedicated to statistics and spreadsheet analysis. The students are taught how to use Excel spreadsheets and programs like Risk Solver to make business decisions. If you are under the assumption that the CEO of a big company makes decisions based on his/her gut you are mistaken.

More often than not, the decisions are made by a computer than runs simulations based on the data that the decision maker inputs. The program takes all the data and then it gives you the most logical decision after running all the simulations.

It’s actually pretty cool. You could build a model that can tell you the best location to build an ice cream shop, based on three different locations, with three different average yearly temperatures, three different traffic patterns, and three different populations in the towns they’re in. Not only will it tell you the best location to build your ice cream shop, but the expected revenue at each location.

The same thing can be done with baseball players – in theory that is.

Everyone knows that Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta’s use of advanced statistics and sabermetrics officially put them on the map. Their use was chronicled in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

The book that exposed Billy Beane's strategies.

The book that exposed Billy Beane’s strategies.

Beane used the advanced statistics to remain competitive with a team that had the lowest payroll in the league. Once he started winning, people started to question how the heck the Athletics could be winning when they were only spending one-third of the money of the other teams. At that point, every Tom, Dick and Harry fell in love with sabermetrics.

Sabermetrics became the key to unlocking hidden baseball talent.

But here is the fundamental flaw with peoples’ understanding of what Billy Beane actually did – Beane wasn’t intentionally trying to win by spending the least amount of money he could. Beane wanted to spend money. He wasn’t trying to do his owner a favor by spending the least amount of money on building a team. He was simply in a situation where his hands were tied. He had to think outside of the box. He had to get more efficient with spending what little money he had. That’s it.

Somehow Beane’s strategy became an excuse for teams to spend less money, and try to build teams using a philosophy that Beane only developed because he had to and not because he wanted to.

Players are now investments, plain and simple. If a team is going to make an investment, the projections, spreadsheets, models and simulations have to all tell the same story – that the player is worth the investment.

However, there is a problem with advanced statistics – the game is still ultimately played on the field. You cannot remove the human element from the game, and no statistic can factor that in. And while past performance is a good indicator of future performance, there is only so much weight that advanced statistics should carry.

Advanced statistics paint an imperfect picture of the game when used improperly. Here is why:

Advanced statistics use inputs which are plugged into an equation and are determined by the person developing the statistics in order to arrive at a desired outcome. They often have to finagle with different stats until they get an answer that makes sense. What also comes into play is the developer’s bias.

If someone is playing with stats in order to make their equation work, how is that more accurate in telling me which player is better than if I used the old school statistics (OBP, AVG, ERA, etc.) which have been used for the past 100-plus years, and my eyes, used to watch the players play?

Let’s take a look at the Holy Bible. There is a show on TV that comes on one of the learning channels every once in awhile which basically alludes to the fact that the bible has a hidden code in it, which not only predicted things that happened in the past, but also can predict future events. Now on the surface, they did prove that there was a code in the bible. But is there really a code in the bible, or was it manipulation by the developer to come to a desired goal/outcome?

Odds are there isn’t a code in the bible, but this just shows how the manipulation of data can get to a desired outcome when played with long enough. One of the major issues with scientists to this day is trying to conduct scientific studies and not have their bias come into play. Bias alters outcomes.

The bottom line is that baseball is still a game where there is still a lot of luck involved. For instance, if a player is half a step to the left or right, a ball drops in that maybe shouldn’t have been a hit. Which stat factors any of these things in? The argument is the law of averages balances everything out. In the end, the math is the constant.

However, there are internal and external factors affecting the game constantly. These factors cannot be built into models. These factors cannot be accounted for statistically.

Where a card counter at the black jack table can turn the odds against the Casino by using probability and a system of advanced mathematical equations to gain an advantage, there is a set number of cards in the deck, and only a certain number of things can occur to account for. You can’t do that in baseball. In baseball, there are an infinite number of things all taking place simultaneously which affect the outcome of every pitch.

The problem at large is that the game has changed significantly since the introduction of advanced statistics. There are too many statistics which are complicating the game. They cause managers to over-manage situations.

For example, is a lefty specialist really necessary in a team’s bullpen? According to advanced statistics they are. But when it’s all said and done a bullpen pitcher is simply a pitcher who could not make it as a starting pitcher. Very few pitchers are groomed to be in the bullpen. In other words, why would I bring a pitcher into a game, and take out my better pitcher, simply because statistics show that one guy is better at getting left-handed batters out?

It doesn’t make sense. The best players should be on the field.

Statistics tell front offices they need lefty specialists. They tell the manager that they better go against their gut which tells them to leave their better pitcher in the game. It sounds crazy when you think about it. I’m going to take out my better pitcher because statistics show that over time, a pitcher of lesser quality has done a better job of getting left-handed hitters out? It doesn’t sound logical.

Now I have decided to take my best pitcher available out of the game to bring in a lefty specialist in order to get one hitter out. After he gets that batter out, I have to take him out of the game to put in an even lesser quality pitcher? Why not just leave my best pitcher in to get the lefty out. Now I have changed the odds of getting the remaining hitters out, all because stats have told me to take my best pitcher out of the game.

The entire landscape of the game changed because of a single stat.

Is there a stat that shows the odds of getting the remaining hitters out in a game after I made that decision? There is a stat that shows me that I should bring a lefty specialist into the game, but not a stat that shows the odds that I will get the remainder of hitters out now that I made that pitching change.

That is just one example of how stats have changed the game, but the question that still remains is – are all of these advanced statistics helping or hurting the game?

Cases can be made for both sides, but the truth of the matter is that all these stats are really good when looked at from the surface. It’s how the people behind the scenes use them that will ultimately determine whether they are good or bad for the game.

My daughter preparing for a front office job someday - you can never start them too early.

My daughter preparing for a front office job someday – you can never start them too early.

Advanced baseball statistics is very similar to the app market for smart phones. App developers are always looking to develop the next Angry Birds, and stat developers are looking to develop the next stat which proves that they have the secret formula to determine who the best player in the league is.

There is no secret formula. Baseball is played on the field, not in a laboratory, and not in a computer program. There isn’t a single stat or mathematical equation that can determine the outcomes on the field.

Nothing will ever change that.


Follow Mitch Petanick on Twitter.

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Some Things To Watch For This Playoff Season Fri, 05 Oct 2012 18:00:31 +0000 I am reminded of that Christmas song…”it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It doesn’t get any better than playoff time. I’m bummed that the Mets aren’t playing significant baseball again this fall, but I guess it does give us an opportunity to sit back and enjoy these games and celebrate this great game of baseball, without the stress of having our team’s fate on the line. Anyway, here are a few things to watch that could make a major impact on this year’s playoff picture:


Wild Card winner getting first two games at home in Divison Series

When the Marlins won the World Series in 1997 they had the same first two games at home, which gave them an added advantage. Going up against the San Francisco Giants in the Divison Series, they won the first two games at home, and then the first game back in San Fran to complete the sweep. They later went on to win the World Series. If that series started in San Fran, who knows how it would have turned out. Expect similar upsets this year.

Not having Mariano Rivera will hurt the Yankees chances

This is a given. Mariano is the greatest closer in the history of the game, and post-season play. Aside from a hiccup in the 2001 World Series, Rivera has been flawless. When the Yankees made it to the 8th inning with a lead in previous years, it was a lock they would walk away with a win. Don’t expect similar results this year.

The Rangers will go as far as Josh Hamilton takes them

If Josh Hamilton catches fire, the Rangers will be playing in the World Series. If he continues to slump, the Rangers will make an early playoff exit. During a contract year, if Hamilton wants to really cash in, now is the time to really step up. I think he will.

Oakland’s weaknesses will be exposed

Like Billy Beane’s great moneyball teams of the early 2000s, the Athletics will ultimately be exposed in the playoffs against the Tigers, and eliminated in the ALDS. Maybe if they continue to shock everyone, and go on to win the World Series, Brad Pitt will play Beane in the Moneyball sequel. In other news, the comedic spoof of Moneyball, The Moneyball Mets, is slated for release in 2013.

Bryce Harper

Rookie Mike Trout has been all the talk of 2012, but Harper has been lurking in the shadows waiting to get his chance to steal back the rookie spotlight. This is his opportunity to show the world that he is still the best young talent in the game. Bryce Harper doesn’t sink back into the crowd, and is going to lift his play to another level with all the national attention. He will prove why Sports Illustrated dubbed him as “the chosen one.” I wonder if he will give us a few more memorable quotes along the way – That’s a clown question ‘bro.

These were just a few things that will make for a very interesting playoff season. There are a slew of other story lines that will impact this year’s playoff picture, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all unfold.

Everyone has a clean slate starting today. Team records are reset to 0-0. Everything that happened over the course of the season is in the past. Everything is on the line, and the glory is there for the taking. Who wants it more? God I love this game…

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Do You Still Believe In Moneyball? Mon, 13 Aug 2012 14:15:06 +0000 Moneyball is a ultimately a strategy that was developed by a small market team’s general manager in order to compete large market teams. When Billy Beane sat down and started to think about creative ways to stay competitive with large market teams, he didn’t write the word moneyball on a dry erase board, and tell everyone in the room that this was his new idea. Moneyball was a name, that was given by an author, to describe to the success that Beane experienced in the early 2000s. I’m here to tell you that much like Santa Claus, moneyball doesn’t exist.

Before you call me crazy, sit and think about it. The strategies that Beane developed and ultimately used do exist, but moneyball doesn’t. If it did ever exist, it ended once large market teams also started to implement Beane’s strategies once they saw how successful Beane’s Oakland A’s were. The Red Sox started implementing the small market strategies made famous by Beane, and what did it lead to? They finally broke the curse of the Bambino. But that wasn’t moneyball, because moneyball doesn’t exist.

There are basically two schools of thought in baseball – the old school scout mentality, and the moneyball school of thought. The old school thinkers say “wow that guy has all the tools,” but moneyballers ask “can he play ball?” Old school thinkers look for potential, while moneyballers look for performance. The old school mentality has driven me crazy for years. Year after year I watch teams draft players based on the coveted five tools, and then pay them upwards of $1 million just for signing a contract. They don’t even know if this guy can play, and simply because the guy can hit a baseball a country mile during batting practice, they invest millions. It doesn’t make sense to pass up on a guy that has shown he can play the game at a high level, for a guy who is visually or physically more impressive. That’s a stupid strategy even if you have a lot of money to spend. I guess that means my beliefs would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

Remove the word moneyball from your vocabulary. Instead, call it performance based evaluation of players. Rather than looking at what this guy might be able to do for your team, you look at what this player can do for your team. You do that through evaluation of statistics, but also based on what you see on the field. You can not evaluate a player on statistics alone. The two schools of thought really should work hand in hand, not against each other. If you combine the schools of thought, you really have a total of six tools that players should be evaluated on (not the traditional five) – running speed, arm strength, hitting ability, quickness, mental acuity (patience at the plate), and ability to get on base. I firmly believe that teams should always value proven players over guys who have an array of tools but can’t apply them in game situations. I guess that would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

One team that I think has been doing this well the past few years is the San Francisco Giants. They tend to draft guys that they can get through the minor leagues as quickly as possible to start helping the big league club. You can’t do that by drafting guys based on talent alone, so there has to be skill there. If a guy has tons of talent, but has to spend six years in the minor leagues developing the skill, then what’s the point? Just draft the guys with skill, and save yourself time and money developing them in the minors. That’s why Beane focused his draft on more polished college players – there is less development needed, and they can help the team in a shorter period of time (in most cases). Then you don’t have to spend big money in free-agency to address your needs. I completely agree with Beane’s drafting strategy. I guess that would make me a moneyballer, that is, if moneyball existed.

Moneyball doesn’t exist. There isn’t some magic formula, or mathematical equations, that a team can use to evaluate players and uncover undervalued players. If that’s what you think, get it out of your head. Teams can’t expect to win without spending money, unless they have a well developed minor league factory that is spitting out skilled players like Ford spits out Mustangs. This is an area the Mets are lacking. Every team uses the same analyses now, so those days of Beane’s A’s are all but over. But the Mets have a distinct advantage over those early 2000′s Oakland A’s – they aren’t a small market team. Those small market team rules don’t apply.

The New York Mets should focus on what the San Francisco Giants have done the past few years. They have to find a way to get guys to the major leagues, as fast as possible, because the team is in a complete state of disarray right now. There are guys playing out of position in order to plug holes. The problem is there are more holes than plugs, and we all know what happens when there are more holes than plugs – the ship sinks. The fix is simple enough – start drafting more polished players that will be able to help the team now, rather than later. Either that, or they have to pony up some cash and address their needs.

The Mets can turn this around, but they have to get their hands dirty, and re-evaluate their organization from the ground up. They better do it fast, because this is starting to remind me of the Mets teams of the early 1990s…and I don’t know how many of us can go through that again.

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Should The Mets Retire The Moneyball Project? Fri, 10 Aug 2012 14:30:10 +0000 The Mets currently have a front office in place that has earned them the nickname the “Moneyball Mets.” Mets G.M. Sandy Alderson was once Billy Beane’s mentor, and the Mets have also added a couple of other front office executives that once worked with Beane. As the Brady Bunch theme song goes – everyone sing along – that’s the way we became the Moneyball Mets.

Does that mean the Mets are on pace to have the success the A’s had ten years ago that was chronicled in the book and movie Moneyball? Not likely.

For those of you who haven’t read the book (or watched the movie), Moneyball is based on a form of analysis called sabermetrics. Simply stated, moneyball theorizes that in order to win games, a team has to score more runs than their opponent by getting on base more frequently. It goes further to analyze which players actually help you score more runs using a series of mathematical equations to develop advanced statistics called sabermetrics. This is obviously a very rudimentary explanation of moneyball, but it inevitably goes against everything the traditional scouts have been saying for over 100 years. Scouts search far and wide for the coveted five tool players which are as rare as unicorns and leprechauns. The search takes them around the globe with one goal in mind: to build the best teams they can by seeking out the best talent.

Sabermetrics allowed Beane to take advantage of players often ignored by other teams in order to build his historic 2002 team. They were ignored since teams didn’t understand their true value. This misunderstanding was due to not using sabermetrics to evaluate players. At least that is what we are led to believe. We will return to this later.

The movie alludes to the idea that Beane was looking for a way to analyze talent that was different from the traditional scouts. This was supposedly due to the fact that he was once considered a “can’t miss” five tool player. He was selected in the first round of the 1980 MLB draft (by the Mets coincidentally), but never lived up to expectations. The Mets had three first round picks that year, and held the number one pick. They used that number one pick on Daryl Strawberry after Beane signed on to play football and baseball with Stanford, even though scouts thought Beane was as close to a “sure thing” as you can get from a prospect. No teams wanted to risk a first round pick on a kid that was going to be John Elway’s heir at Stanford. The only team who could afford to take that risk was the New York Mets since they had two other first round picks.

To this day, scouts say Beane was the most gifted athlete in the 1980 draft class. But if Beane learned anything from his playing career, it’s that there is no such thing as a “sure thing.” This has him at odds with scouts who wanted to try and put the best overall players on the field, the way big market teams do.

Back to Beane’s 2002 Oakland Athletics team which was the basis of the book and movie Moneyball. First, let me say that the movie was entertaining. Unfortunately, it paints a picture of Beane building the entire 2002 A’s from a bunch of players that no other team wanted. It reminded me of the scene in the movie Major League when they are trying to build a team bad enough that will help the Indians move out of Cleveland. Nobody was previously playing in the California Penal League, and the team was actually stacked before Beane added the final few pieces of the puzzle using sabermetrics.

The movie fails to mention the fact that the pitching staff consisted of Barry Zito (2002 Cy Young Winner), Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson who were affectionately known as the “Big 3.” Let’s put it this way, if Beane didn’t win the division with those three guys he should’ve lost his job. By the way, the closer was Billy Koch, and it gets even better. The A’s had Miguel Tejada (2002 AL MVP), Eric Chavez, Jermaine Dye, Ray Durham, and David Justice all in their lineup. So was the success of the A’s due to sabermetrics being used to add a few players that nobody even remembers from the team, or the fact that everything came together for the A’s due to great player development? And if you thought the 2002 pitching staff was scary, the 2003 & 2004 A’s added a young Rich Harden to the mix. How did the Athletics manage to never win a World Series with those guys on their pitching staff?

Now let’s get back to the Mets. I think everyone will agree the Mets don’t have the talent the A’s had in the early 2000s. Not only that, but the A’s are a small market team, so they had to come up with creative ways to compete with big market teams. Look at it this way - when a person with a lower income goes to buy a car, they look for different attributes in that car than a person with a higher income would. The person with lower income goes to buy a Honda. It will get you back and forth to work, it’s reliable and good on gas, but you aren’t winning any races. The person with higher income goes to buy a Corvette, and the license plate reads “eat my dust.”

The Mets are a large market team. They shouldn’t be shopping for Hondas. Their license plate should read “eat my dust.” It doesn’t make sense for them to use the strategies of the small market teams. Their strategy should be to use their revenue stream to crush their opponents. The Mets can certainly learn a thing or two about player development from the Athletics of the early 2000s, but I’m still not sold on the fact that sabermetrics had anything to do with the success of those teams after looking at the players on that roster.

Can the Mets build a winning team using sabermetrics and moneyball? I know one thing for certain – no small market teams have won the World Series using sabermetrics alone in the past ten years. So if the Mets want to start winning again, they better start taking the money out of Moneyball, and start spending it.

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Moneyball Movie Review Mon, 26 Sep 2011 13:47:06 +0000 Walking into the movie theater to see Moneyball, I had my doubts. Will this capture what the book is about? How can Brad Pitt play a hot-head GM like Billy Beane? Is this going to be another Hollywood interpretation of the true essence of sports? To say the least, I had my doubts. I had very low expectations as the lights dimmed and the previews started rolling.

But from the moment the opening scene began with the highlights of the 2001 ALDS, my questions were answered and my skepticism disappeared. I thought that director Bennett Miller captured the true meaning of Moneyball on several levels throughout the movie. From touching on Beane’s underwhelming playing career to the great deal of opposition the A’s GM faced in and out of the organization, Miller managed to include almost everything into the movie. Although if you did not read the book I think some aspects may be lost on the general public, but for those of us who did so, there are obviously many tips-of-the-hat to the novel.

Brad Pitt was absolutely phenomenal in playing Billy Beane in this film. Originally I could not picture Pitt playing a loose-cannon baseball general manager like Beane, but he pulled it off and then some. Pitt was the perfect actor for this role, playing the character of an unconventional, temperamental executive who uses a “bull-in-a-china-shop” approach to get what he wants be it Scott Hatteburg, Jeremy Brown or John Mabry. Whether it is chucking a television across the hallway or taking a baseball bat to the clubhouse stereo, Pitt seamlessly played the borderline-insane, yet lovable protagonist.

Jonah Hill, normally a drunk teenager in most of his films, played Peter Brand (Paul DePodesta) very well for being out of his element. He performed as Beane’s side-kick and offered some comedic moments throughout the film.

I was glad to see that the “Rudy moment”, if you will, of this film was not an altered world championship, as speculated by many, but instead focused on the record 20-game win streak that the A’s put together in their 103-win season.

I thought the film was well made, and stuck to the actual story Michael Lewis meant to tell when he wrote the novel. It was nice to see for once that a director did a book justice instead of taking poetic license.

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Ok, I’ll Bite….. Tue, 04 Jan 2011 14:26:07 +0000 Why haven’t the A’s finished above .500 since 2006? It’s a question I’ve seen asked by some detractors of sabermetrics, as if a few seasons under .500 can eradicate nearly 40 years of research. I never felt the need to dignify that question with a response, as the answer is very simple. Poor Billy Beane spilled the beans about his winning formula with a very small payroll, and the teams with a large payroll took their money and Beane’s secrets all the way to the bank. Simple.

Sure, it’s logical. But it was logical to assume big-game Cliff Lee would dominate the middle-of-the-road Giants offense in the World Series, too. That’s why we play the game. Or in my case, that’s why I do the research.

The timeline fits, doesn’t it? The book is released in 2003, and one full season later, 2004, was the last of five consecutive 90-win seasons for the A’s, dating back to 1999. The team rebounded in 2006 to win 93 games and play for the AL pennant, but haven’t had a winning season since.

I tried to think of it from the other perspective. I tried to think of exactly what reason there could be for Billy Beane’s on-base percentage approach to all of a sudden stop working. Is OBP no longer the best factor of runs scored? Research shows it still is; where a team ranks in OBP is roughly where it’ll rank in runs scored in any given year, in either league.

Ok, was Beane’s A’s an aberration during their period of dominance?  Nope, quite the contrary.  From 1999-2004, they ranked 5th in the AL in both OBP and runs scored, so that checks out. What about their recent period of failure? Well, in the four seasons since 2006, the A’s rank 11th in OBP in the American League and 12th in runs scored. So that checks out, too.

So what does that tell us? Something happened in between 2004 and 2006. Was it the release of the book? Just for fun, I checked the OBP rank of the A’s in 2005 and 2006. They checked in at 6th and 7th, respectively. So what was going on in baseball that caused the A’s OBP to decrease steadily each year? Maybe my theory was starting to check out. Were the big market teams really buying up all the high-OBP players, offering contracts far greater than the small-market A’s could?

Consider the following list of the 35 highest on base percentages in all of baseball since 2006 (author’s note: to compile this list, I set the minimum plate appearances to 1,700, or 425 per year. 425 PAs per year, using the same rate MLB does to qualify players for the batting title, comes out to a player missing 25 games per year. To me, it’s a sample size large enough to trust the numbers. I’m so convinced my findings will remain true, if a reader has an issue with this threshold and can logically offer a better one, I’d be happy to re-crunch the numbers).

By Jove, I think I’ve got it! Wait, got what? Well, read the list again. Of these 35 players, 28 of them have enjoyed a multi-year contract valued at over $10 million annually. Of the seven that haven’t, Chone Figgins is in the middle of a multi-year contract worth “only” nine million dollars and Dustin Pedroia is earning an average of $7.357 million (it’s a relatively safe bet his next contract will be worth over $10 annually). Shin-Soo Choo, one of the best young players in the league, has yet to hit free agency and so has Joey Votto, and Votto will likely earn nine figures when he next signs a dotted line. David Wright is also on this list, averaging $9.17 million per year. But if the Mets exercise his 2013 option, he’ll move to other end of the line, as the value of his seven-year contract will exceed 70 million dollars.

That leaves Jack Cust and Brad Hawpe, and of course Jack Cust has spent his entire career as an Athletic up until about two weeks ago. To compare, the highest contract the Athletics have ever doled out in the history of their franchise came to 69 million dollars over six years to the face of their franchise Eric Chavez. To think the A’s could afford the contracts given to the names on this list is sheer lunacy.

So, why haven’t the A’s finished above .500 since 2006? Because they couldn’t afford to play under the same organizational principles they used to. But give Beane some credit. Last year’s team finished exactly at .500 and the A’s are a lot of “experts” picks to be a surprise contender next year, especially since Lee is now out of the division. If the A’s make the playoffs this year or next, Beane would have turned the organization around within five years. For a team with one of the lowest payrolls in the league (the absolute lowest the last two years and the second lowest three years ago), a successful 5-year plan is enviable.

*All statistics researched and verified by

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The Sabermetrician In Me All Along Tue, 30 Nov 2010 01:00:15 +0000 The purpose of Sabermetrics, in a nut shell, lay in its constant pursuit of finding the value of player’s most minute components. It’s a pure almost sanitized view of a player’s performance however like it is even admitted to in the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, in human behavior there was always uncertainty and risk.

No matter how accurately you valued past performance, it was still an uncertain guide to future performance. If it were perfect by design then the players would be digital representations of themselves and seasons would be played out on a computer, with Las Vegas putting Johnny’s college fund on the line as to whether David Ortiz would ever regain his pre-performance enhanced game or not. But the game is played on the field and not in some cyberspace vacuum.

Actually I feel sorry for guys like Podesta and Beane. The purest of the Sabermetricians seem to take no joy from the game, for that is subjective emotion and clouds ones’ judgment. I suppose in their positions I can understand their reluctance, but I still find that to be a profoundly sad and lonely place to be. To not allow yourself to enjoy what you want to enjoy so badly is borderline Greek tragedy.

I happen to be someone who appreciates the value of finding…value, especially where it is least apparent. For years I would argue with friends and family about why the mid to late 90′s Yankees were better then any of their later teams.

To me it was obvious that players like Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and even Chuck Knoblauch shared a similar trait among them; plate patience with the ability to get on base. They would work the count deeper and battle the opposing pitcher so much that in little time their opponent’s weakness was exposed – their bullpens.

Lets face it if relievers were all that great they’d be starters so to me, it made sense to wear the starter down. Those particular Yankee teams embodied that premise. That’s part of the core of Saber and never once did that dawn on me at the time.

I don’t fully agree with all of Sabermetrics rationale, such as the idea that there is no such thing as a “clutch hitter”, that luck is simply the answer. Some players do well under pressure. Some don’t. Is it any different to see someone like Derek Jeter elevate his game in the postseason as it was when Michael Jordan would at times will the Chicago Bulls into dominance during the NBA Finals or perhaps Joe Montana in the Super Bowl?

Now can it be scientifically dissected and explained? Of course not, if it could I’m sure Alex Rodriguez would be one of the first to feast on the knowledge. Luck certainly plays a part in every game as I’m sure a player like Bucky Dent would admit, but talent tends to rise when need be, exceptional talent that is.

To quantify a player who excels in the spotlight – consistently – by saying his success is pure luck does a disservice to the game. Just like trying to prove the existence of God; in the end you either have faith or you don’t. And to those who argue that it’s simply luck – who would you rather have hitting with two outs, the bases loaded and down by a run in the post season – Derek Jeter or A-Rod?

When you look at the 2010 New York Mets and do a comparison to Team X – we’ll call them Team X for now – you may be surprised to say the least. First off the Mets scored 656 runs, 13th in the NL. Team X scored 697 9th in the NL. The Mets had a .314 OBP raking 14th in the NL and Team X had a .321 OBP for 9th in the NL. The Mets walked 502 times with Team X walking 487 times. Ranking both 12th and 13th in the NL.  Comparitively, their pitching were both outstanding.  The Mets allowed 652 runs, 11th best in the NL while Team X just 583 which was second best in the NL.  Considering the Mets pitching staff from 2010, it’s remarkable.

Which leads me back to the glaring difference being the 41 runs scored differential between the two. If you don’t know by now Team X happens to be the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Just take into account if the Mets had full, average seasons from Beltran, Reyes and Bay, that run differential might be a bit different, no?

The need going into the 2011 season for the Mets will be to acquire a starting pitcher, especially since Johan Santana will be out optimistically until the All Star break. How much are the Mets willing to spend and on whom happens to be the key question. We’ve seen Jon Garland go the Dodgers for a one year $5 million dollar deal and Javier Vasquez go the Marlins for a one year $7 million dollar deal.

I just don’t see the Mets spending that kind of money, period. One of the hallmarks of Saber is finding hidden value in players that others cannot or have not seen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alderson go after a player like Justin Duchscherer.

The former Oakland Athletic has had a barrage of injuries the past few years and has dealt with clinical depression. When healthy he’s one of the better arms in the game – when healthy – and since he’s coming off of an injury he may be willing to accept a lower end deal that’s incentive laden.

Another pitcher coming off an injury that may be affordable is Chris Young formerly of the Padres. Sandy Alderson certainly knows everything there is to know about Young and as long as he’s healthy, he too may be of interest. The bottom line, the Mets are not going to spend their way to a championship, at least not in a flashy Omar Minaya-esque kind of way.

The Mets are going to be in the market for Rick Reed type pitchers and that is more than fine with me. I’m sure we’ll hear names that we’ve hardly heard of before being bantered around to fill out the rotation. That’s where having a front office of executives schooled in the art of finding value in players becomes irreplaceable.

I know MMO has touched on Sabermetrics a few weeks back so many of you might think I’m a bit late on the subject. Maybe so but in all honesty I wanted to read Moneyball for myself before going on the record. Sabermetrics isn’t some new age alchemy, it’s taking existing statistics but looking at them in a different way.

Do I believe that a team of Scott Hattebergs would be good for the Mets? Probably not. But, plate discipline is the foundation to greater success offensively. I wonder what Ted Williams would’ve said about Sabermetrics? I have a feeling he’d actually agree on many of the principles especially when it comes to hitting as I have come to as well.

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Billy Beane, Moneyball and OBP Mon, 01 Nov 2010 17:00:07 +0000 This past weekend, we had quite a battle here on MMO over a post I wrote regarding the so-called Moneyball Mets era Sandy Alderson is expected to usher in.

I never read the book, but several readers that I spoke with or chatted with via email, all told me that the book was based on Billy Beane and the formula for success with the A’s during the first half of this decade and part of the late nineties. No doubt that the A’s had a very impressive run and even made the post season four consecutive season between 2000 and 2003. They never advanced past the ALDS, but anything can happen in a short series, their accomplishments in that span were nonetheless noteworthy.

Several people who have read the book all told me that the original concept of Moneyball, was not to spend more money, but to spend less money while getting the most value out of your offensive players by focusing on on-base percentage. It was supposed to even the playing field between teams with extensive resources and those teams who didn’t have as much to spend. In other words, it was a “low budget strategy to stay competitive in the era of big market baseball” according to one sabermetric devotee.

A passage in the book Moneyball explains how all sabermetric followers of Bill James, including Billy Beane, understood that on-base percentage and slugging percentage were the two best ways to assess a players value. But the book explains how Paul DePodesta convinced Beane and others that “OBP is worth three times more than slugging percentage”.

As one reader emailed me this quote from the book on page 128,

A player’s ability to get on base in unspectacular ways tended to be dramatically underpriced in relation to other abilities. Never mind fielding skills and foot speed. 

So the conclusion which is now universally adopted by all saber heads was that the ability to get on base and avoid making outs was the most critical attribute of player and worth even more than the ability to hit for power. (pages 128-129)

Whether you agree or disagree with that premise is solely up to you. The purpose of this post is not to support or refute that but to pose this question:

Has Billy Beane abandoned the principles on which the book Moneyball was based on?

One of our readers sent me an email last night from another blogger who basically concluded that that impressive Oakland A’s run was due more to with having the best pitching in the division than with anything else especially on-base percentage.

I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I decided to take a look for myself and collected the last five years of data for the Oakland A’s for on-base percentage, obviously, but I also wanted to compare their OBP against the American League average and I also threw in the Mets just for another point of reference. Tell me what you think?

You can see that the Oakland’s on-base percentage has been at league average or worse for the last five years. In fact, take a look at how well the Mets stack up and remember that the Mets statistics include pitchers plate appearances, while the A’s had the designated hitter.

I thought the results were very odd considering how this topic has stirred up so much debate. I decided to take the basic conclusion and purpose of Moneyball which was to get value for your dollars, and see how that played out during the same span. I thought maybe the A’s payroll was slashed so much in the last five years that it was too difficult to put a competitive product on the field even for a moneyballer like Billy Beane. I decided to look at the payroll for the periods of 2000-2005 and compare it 2006-2010.

Once again I was shocked by the results. The A’s have actually averaged $17 million dollars more in payroll during the last five years than the first half of the decade when they were winning division titles.

Why not look at wins while we’re at it.

Again, the results are startling as well as dramatic.

It really does make one wonder what exactly has gone wrong for the Oakland A’s in the past half decade, because judging by these results it does give some evidence that the point raised by one of my readers was right. Has the Moneyball philosophy run out of steam in Oakland?

In the last five years, Beane has spent more money on average, finished below league average in on-base percentage, and has won 15 fewer games per season on average since the book Moneyball gained mainstream attention and shot through the roof in sales and popularity around 2005 after it’s release in 2003. Incidentally, the movie “Moneyball” is set to come out in 2011 and Brad Pitt has been cast in the role of Billy Beane.

What are your thoughts?

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The Moneyball Mets? I Don’t Think So. Fri, 29 Oct 2010 15:26:59 +0000 I caught a post by Sam Page yesterday entitled the Moneyball Mets, in which he writes:

For the past five years, though, we’ve taken considerable crap from fellow Mets fans, concerned with the harmful spread of “Moneyball” ideas in their favorite sport. We (usually) bit our tongues as people with no scouting expertise shielded their bunk opinions under a non-existent “stats vs. scouting” conflict. The same fans, who most loudly bemoaned the failures of Omar Minaya, denounced our specific criticisms without the slightest hint of irony.

Yet, the Mets have now hired the man Moneyball is actually about. Nobody protests.

I kind of snickered a little bit, and was about to hit the back button when I saw the name of our site Mets Merized in the first few comments. Naturally, I had to investigate. It seems a few of their readers wondered what Mets Merized thought about the new Moneyball Mets. That’s fine, I respect the fact they care to know my position, but remember that this is just my opinion and I don’t speak for our other 30 bloggers, half of whom would probably disagree with me.

The Moneyball Mets? Well… it’s a baseless conclusion.

You see, Moneyball is not about Sandy Alderson at all. It’s too bad because if it were, I would have loved to have seen Ed Harris cast in Alderson’s role for the movie version. Moneyball is all about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s under his tenure.

Apparently Moneyballers are having a love-fest over the soon to be official announcement of Sandy Alderson as GM, but methinks doth celebrate too prematurely.

Let me tell you the little I’ve learned about Alderson in the past month. We all know about his impressive run as the general manager of the Oakland A’s, and nobody can question his integrity and accomplishments during and after his Oakland days. I am extremely proud that Alderson, a former US Marine, will be running the Mets beginning today. Things are going to get better with Sandy now calling the shots.

But lets get back to Moneyball…

Alderson turned to sabermetrics for help in 1995 because the new owners ordered him to slash payroll. And when I say slash, I mean slashed to the bone.

Unaccustomed to running the team with such low resources and no more open checkbook, Alderson was looking for any kind of edge he could get. He believed he found that edge when he stumbled upon a book by Bill James and his new sabermetric stats.

The joyride of the late 80′s, which was built on lavish spending, was coming to an end and Alderson needed to find a way to continue keeping pace with all the other high rollers in the American League.

While implementing this new found magic, Alderson didn’t get the effect he was looking for and the Oakland A’s went on to lose 77 games in 1995, 84 more losses in 1996, and finally 97 losses in, you guessed it, 1997.

It was after that season that Alderson split the scene leaving his trusty side-kick, assistant GM Billy Beane, firmly in charge of a last place team with an MLB worst pitching staff that finished with a 5.84 ERA. So much for that.

To Beane’s credit, he ran with those sabermetric principles introduced to him by Sandy Alderson, and Beane would go on to become the number one poster boy for the sabermetric movement. Beane eventually led the A’s back to respectability, but it was he that did it, and he alone.

The truth is that the book “Juiced” by Jose Canseco had more to do with Alderson’s four division titles and the World Series win, than the books “Moneyball” or the Bill James Annual.

As a matter of fact, I posed this question over a week ago in a blog entitled: Sandy Alderson And The Spotted Elephant In The Room.

What if anything did he know about the rampant steroid use on the Oakland A’s during his tenure as President and General Manager?

I wasn’t looking to rain on Sandy’s parade, but simply wanted an acknowledgment that steroids did play a part during those championship years.

Since I wrote that blog on October 21st, my question found it’s way to Ian O’Connor of ESPN who actually demanded an apology from Alderson. Parts of it also appeared on Mets Today, Mets Blog, and yes, even our friends at Amazin’ Avenue dedicated a post to it yesterday.

Anyway, getting back to the “Moneyball Mets”… Sandy Alderson will not have any shortage of resources and payroll, now that he’s in New York.

In fact, this might stir up some great memories for Sandy of the good old days, when he could spend money freely and do whatever it takes to win a championship. And the best part is that in Sandy we’ll have someone who is intelligent enough to spend that money wisely and maintain some semblance of fiscal responsibility for the organization. We couldn’t have hired a more perfect leader to take this team back to respectability and back to a championship caliber level.

Dan Martin of the NY Post had an interesting quote from longtime Alderson associate and assistant in both Oakland and San Diego, executive Grady Fuson.

“He realizes that there are different expectations in New York,” Fuson said. “And that there should be no five-year rebuilding process when you have the resources the Mets do. People forget, in the late ‘80s, we were pretty much a big-market club, when we were putting rings on our fingers.”

And it’s those resources that Alderson didn’t have toward the end of his tenure as GM in Oakland or CEO in San Diego.

“It’s a totally different job when you have the revenue to work with that he’ll have with the Mets,”

Fuson, who knows Alderson better than just about any person alive, substantiates what I wrote. Sandy Alderson is a smart guy… a take charge guy… a hands-on guy…

There will be plenty of instances where he’ll turn to advanced statistics to evaluate a potential signing, draft pick or trade target, and that’s not a bad thing. He will use statistics to measure performance and a player’s productivity as well he should. This is what most or all GM’s do each and every day as routine part of their jobs. Baseball is all about numbers, so to ignore them would be akin to disrespecting the game.

However, Alderson will not use sabermetrics as the end-all to running an organization. He will use every tool in his arsenal to build a winner and that includes using his own instincts and scouting reports as well. He will consider things like character because he himself is a man of integrity. This is what he’s done his entire career, and he’s not suddenly going to stop now.

So I urge my sabermetricaly inclined friends, to take a deep breath and stop fantasizing about some Cecil B. DeMille epic where Alderson will raise his mighty staff, part the Hudson River, and lead the Mets into the promised land where they can worship Bill James at the foot of Mount Saber.

It ain’t happening…

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