Mets Merized Online » WAR Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:51:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Jay Bruce Is Not As Valuable As You Think Wed, 14 Dec 2016 16:00:29 +0000 jay-bruce

By now, you’ve heard the rumors from the winter meetings. Teams have proposed trades to Sandy Alderson for Jay Bruce but offering only fringe prospects and salary relief. Why is this? Are there really no good offers for a potential middle of the order 30 home run hitter?

Unfortunately, I think it’s time for many fans to understand that the potential for 30 home runs is all that Bruce brings to a club. And as he ages, a slightly slower swing does not translate well for an all or nothing hitter. Power hitters who strikeout a ton do not age well. You swing big, you miss big and as your bat speed goes away, the second result happens a lot more than the first.

Let’s review some of the reasons on why he was acquired in the first place and break them down on a deeper level to see if they hold any water.

He Was A Clutch Hitter

A common point of contention on why trading for Bruce was a good idea is that Bruce was hitting very well with runners in scoring position in 2016 while the Mets as a team suffered mightily in these situations. Bruce was indeed hitting very well, about .350 with RISP, 100 points higher than his career average. But did you really expect him to keep that up?

If Lucas Duda started off the first 3 months of 2017 hitting .350, do you expect him to continue that for a whole season or would you expect him to regress towards his career norm? If Curtis Granderson hits 25 HRs in the first 81 games of the season, do you expect him to finish with 50 at the end of the year?

If Bruce had always been much better in his career with RISP than in other situations, then this would be a legitimate point but his career batting average with and without RISP is right around .250 so the likelihood that his hitting in those situations continue at that pace was miniscule.

WAR Doesn’t Measure Bruce Accurately

Some people believe that since Bruce hits 30 home runs a year, he HAS to be a valuable player. The statistic of WAR or wins above replacement (the overall value of a player both on offense and defense) certainly disagrees.

While a major league average player averages 2-3 WAR per season, Bruce averaged 1.2 WAR in the 3 seasons leading up to 2016. Even with his “all-star” first half in 2016, he only produced a meager 1 WAR by season’s end. In layman’s terms, Jay Bruce is a below average starter and produces the value of a bench player.

Some fans look at this and state that WAR is a poor measurement of defense (this is relatively true) so WAR must be over-penalizing Bruce for his poor defense. How can we measure Bruce’s defensive liability in numbers that are familiar to us?

Why don’t we take a look at this from a different perspective? Let’s adjust Bruce’s player ratings and take some of his offensive value away to supplement his defensive rating to the point where he becomes a defensively average oufielder. What would his batting line look like in that case?

Over the course of a season, does Jay Bruce give up 25 more hits than your average defensive right fielder? This comes out to about one hit every 6 games. If he does, then let’s give him those 25 hits on defense and deduct them on offense. We can essentially take away 50 points from his batting line as 25 hits in 500 at bats is worth as much.

In this video game experiment, we traded a defensively poor Jay Bruce who hits .250/.300/.450 into a defensively average Jay Bruce who hits .200/.250/.400. With these statistics being a little more familiar, does this look like the slash line of an average major league outfielder to you now? The math behind this comparison isn’t perfect but it shows you why a 30 HR hitter can indeed be a below average player in the big leagues.

We Needed To Add A Bat

The Mets were struggling and fans were begging for a move. The truth is, we didn’t necessarily need a bat, we needed better production, preferably in the lineup. I won’t speculate about who else was available and at what price but internally on the Mets, Brandon Nimmo was barely given a shot before he was sent back down to Vegas.

Could Nimmo have produced better than 1 WAR in the second half of the year that you would optimistically hope for from Bruce (who produced 0 WAR in hindsight)? I would have taken my chances.

Bruce Was Leverage Against Cespedes

Stop this nonsense. A Toyota Corolla is not leverage against a Mercedes AMG. They don’t drink the same water and do not breathe the same air.

Look, I am not losing sleep over the package we gave for Bruce. However, I do find it frustrating that our offseason may be dependent on moving him. And in the case where Sandy does not find an offer to his liking, we may actually limit Michael Conforto’s playing time in order to play Bruce. This would be the biggest mistake of all.

Sandy is right about one thing. It only takes a couple of teams to be interested for him to get a good deal. If Sandy can indeed swing Bruce for something of value, then that will be another notch on his trade belt. However, it would also mean to me that the GM who does trade for Bruce overvalued him as well.

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Harvey and d’Arnaud Among MLB’s Top Batteries Wed, 23 Mar 2016 00:00:14 +0000 harvey darnaud

Anthony Castrovince of recently ranked the Top 10 MLB Pitcher and Catcher Batteries and the Mets were very well represented, occupying three of the 10 spots. The rankings were based on Projected WAR.

9. Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud, Mets (Projected WAR: 6.9)

D’Arnaud holds up his end of the bargain, with the sixth-highest projected WAR tally (2.8) of any catcher. Steamer sees him posting a .257/.320/.445 slash line with 16 homers and 54 RBIs in 426 plate appearances, while delivering terrific defense. As for Syndergaard, he’s pegged for a 4.1 WAR, thanks to a 3.14 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 176 innings over 29 starts in his sophomore season. Basically, Steamer expects him to continue to be a Thor(n) in people’s sides again this year.

7. Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, Mets (Projected WAR: 7.2)

DeGrom followed up his 2014 National League Rookie of the Year Award-winning turn with a ’15 showing in which he finished seventh in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Little wonder, then, that Steamer predicts him to contribute a 3.17 ERA in 203 innings over 32 starts, good for a 4.4 WAR.

4. Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud, Mets (Projected WAR: 7.4)

Harvey is their projected rotation WAR leader, with a 4.6 mark that is just two ticks ahead of deGrom’s tally. The Mets quite famously slowed Harvey’s innings progression toward the end of the regular season last year, and then he blew by the 200-inning mark in the postseason. Steamer sees him posting his first official 200-inning campaign (203, to be precise), with a 3.09 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 207 strikeouts.

It’s always fun to look at these projections especially when they paint the Mets in such a positive light. It’s also not far-fetched to think the Mets can exceed these WAR projections. I see plenty of room for improvement on the 2.8 WAR projection for d’Arnaud, especially if he gives the Mets 130 games this season.


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Can David Wright Cement A HOF Bid With A Strong 2016 Wed, 17 Feb 2016 22:27:55 +0000 David, Wright

Sandy Alderson spoke to reporters at Port St. Lucie today and said the team will monitor David Wright throughout the season as they try to get a better handle of managing his spinal stenosis diagnosis and maximizing his contribution to the team.

“We’re going to have to be mindful of his physical situation. We’ll have to anticipate, rather than react, to that condition,” Alderson said.

On Monday, Alderson projected that Wright will likely play about 130 games as they try to give him regular days off to try and minimize any flareup’s of Wright’s condition. “We’re going to have to be proactive, and hopefully that fits with his mindset as well.”

When David Wright came up in 2004 he hit the ground running and quickly became one of the league’s most productive players and ranked among the best third baseman in the game.

Through his first six full seasons, Wright averaged 40 doubles, 26 home runs, 104 RBI and 22 stolen bases while posting a .902 OPS, winning a pair of Gold Gloves and five consecutive All Star nods. No one denied the Mets had themselves a special player who was clearly on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

However, things began to slow down somewhat for Wright because of some various injuries that included playing through a fractured back, pulling his hamstring, and then of course his spinal stenosis diagnosis which wiped out the bulk of his 2015 season. To his credit, he still kept producing at an above average level for third basemen. Is there still a chance that with a big year in 2016, Wright can bolster his Hall of Fame chances?

Third base is the least represented position in the Hall of Fame. Accordingly, standards are high to enter the Hall of Fame as a third baseman.  The average of 13 Hall of Famers at the position had a career WAR of 67.5, a WAR7 (best seven years combined) of 42.7, and a JAWS of 55.1. Looking at the stats, Wright falls short. His career WAR is 50.1. His WAR7 is 40.0. His JAWS is 45.1. For a player that Mets fans believed would be a Hall of Famer, he now has an uphill climb.

david wright


Looking at theses factors, it’s presumably easiest for Wright to increase his WAR7. To do so, he would need to have one year where he accumulates 2.7 more WAR that his seventh best season. Here are his seven best WAR seasons:

  1. 2007 – 8.3
  2. 2012 – 7.0
  3. 2008 – 6.8
  4. 2013 – 5.9
  5. 2005 – 4.8
  6. 2006 – 4.1
  7. 2009 – 3.2

For Wright to put his WAR7 within range, he would need to have one more season that is 5.9 or better. Wright last did that in 2013. That year Wright only played on 112 games. He hit .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers and 58 RBI. His 156 OPS+ was the best of his career. In that season, Wright missed a significant amount of time with a strained hamstring.

The Mets are hopeful that Wright can play 130 games in 2016. Judging from Wright’s 2013 season, it is certainly possible that Wright can have a 5.9 season again. A better and much stronger Mets lineup will assist him in that task.

Cumulative WAR

Going into the 2016 season, Wright has a career WAR of 50.1, which is presumably 12.4 behind the 67.5 career WAR he would need to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

This is where things may get a little tricky for Wright’s chances. Don Mattingly had back problems, and his once promising Hall of Fame career was over at 34. Lenny Dykstra had spinal stenosis, and his career was over at 33. David Wright is entering his age 33 season. Based on other player’s careers, he’s near the end of his career. If Wright plays past his age 34 season, he will be in uncharted territory.

Naturally, it is safe to assume Wright will not have a 12.4 WAR season thereby cementing his Hall of Fame case. To do that, Wright would have to match Babe Ruth‘s 1927 season when he hit 60 homeruns. No, if Wright is going to accumulate the needed 12.4 WAR, he’s going to have to remain healthy and effective. He’s going to have to manage his spinal stenosis.

Wright is currently signed until 2020. There are $90 million reasons why Wright will do all he can to finish that contract.

Presuming Wright does do that, he has five more years left in his career. In order to attain the necessary 12.4 additional WAR, Wright will have to average a 2.5 WAR a year for those five seasons.

In 2014, Wright played 134 games, and he was a 2.7 WAR player. In that season, he hit .269/.324/.374 with eight homers and 63 RBI. If Wright manages his back, and his treatments are effective, seasons like this over the next five years are certainly attainable.

Other Criteria

As Wright’s peak is over, there really isn’t anything he can do to improve his JAWS. With that in mind, we need to look at other areas that would improve Wright’s Hall of Fame case.

Unfortunately, he will be unable to surpass Mike Schmidt‘s 548 homeruns or even reach the once magic number 500 homeruns. He won’t catch Chipper Jones‘ 1,623 RBI. He won’t catch Brooks Robinson‘s 16 Gold Gloves at third base. It does not appear Wright will reach 3,000 hits as he would need to average 250 hits over the next five years to reach that number. No, it seems like the only thing that will help Wright is the narrative.

The best thing going for Wright is the fact that he will most likely play his entire career as a Met. Aside from Tom Seaver, Wright is making a case as the best player to ever play for the Mets. Here are his Mets rankings:

  • Games Played – Second (307 behind Ed Kranepool)
  • Runs – First
  • Hits – First
  • Doubles – First
  • Home Runs – Second (17 behind Darryl Strawberry)
  • RBI – First

In addition, Wright’s 50.1 WAR with the Mets is the second most any player has accumulated with the Mets; the most accumulated by any Mets position player. Even with Mike Piazza‘s recent election to the Hall of Fame, it appears that Wright is the team’s best position player.

So overall, Wright still has a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame. His name will be atop all the major offensive catergories. His WAR and other catergories will put him on the cusp of election. A strong 2016 will get him a lot closer to those goals.

Winning a World Series in 2016 can’t hurt either.


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Platooning From A Position of Strength Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:25:10 +0000 2 granderson darnaud

I was watching MLB Network this morning as they did a replay of yesterday’s episode of ‘MLB Now’ with Brian Kenny. Dick Scott, the Mets new bench coach, was on the phone. The questions were about prospects and was there anyone he considered able to assist the major league team this season.

The former Director of Player Development made a great point. While farmhands like Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera might be called up this season, someone like Amed Rosario or Gavin Cecchini could get a September callup and Dominic Smith is a year or two away…there’s just no room in Queens.

This is the first time I can remember when the Amazin’s head into Port St. Lucie with just about everything already locked up. There are no position battles on the horizon and the only true question is who will support Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.

But even as I write that, I realize that there’s maybe two spots available between Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Dario Alvarez and Rafael Montero. And that’s not mentioning the fact that roster spots will eventually be needed for Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Josh Edgin.

Face it Mets fans, we’re rooting for a team with a plethora of major league talent and with more quality position pieces on the horizon.

It’s a roster that’s been assembled to get the best for what’s been paid for it. I’ve willingly altered my opinion on Juan Lagares and his role, accepting that the former Gold Glover will be an exceptional 4th OF in a platoon with Yoenis Cesdepes. But it’s not really a platoon with our big-ticket big bat.

michael conforto 2

The platoon is really with Michael Conforto since he’s projected to sit against LHP, moving Cespedes to his natural position in LF. According to August Fagerstrom’s recent article on FanGraphs, the duo of Lagares and Conforto is the fifth most promising projected platoon.

With Conforto playing 2/3 of the time against righties and Lagares the other 1/3 against lefties, they combine to project a WAR of 2.9, a Defensive Runs Above Average (Def) of 2.0 and a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 107, or seven points above league average.

Now while that 107 is one point less than what Gerardo Parra put up last year, his WAR was a 0.4 and his Def was -22.1. It’s equal to the Braves’ Nick Markakis and while his WAR was 1.6, his Def was -10.8. Long story short, the Mets are getting a better than average outfield with good defense to boot.

Of course, if you read what Sandy Alderson said yesterday on this subject, nothing is written in stone yet on the outfield alignment and both Conforto and Lagares can shift to right field, rendering Curtis Granderson as the one who shifts to the bench against LHP and not the kid. It’s a good problem to have.

But like I said, they were the fifth best projected platoon. Want to guess which pair was No. 1?

Here’s a hint – One is a Pittsburgh native, the other proved last year that he lives and cries for the Orange and Blue.

The newly-acquired Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores are likely to share at-bats at second base this year since according to Fagersrom, Walker “has been 40% better against righties (123 wRC+) than lefties (83) throughout his career”. Between his plummet last year to a 58 wRC+ against LHP and Flores’ .310 batting average and .955 OPS against southpaws, it makes sense we’ll see Wilmer when Walker sits.

Whether Wilmer is playing second at the time is a different matter. He’s going to be asked to play the entire infield and against LHP, Terry Collins might want to sit Lucas Duda since Ruben Tejada has a better glove up the middle.

And while David Wright has a career .340 average with a 1.005 OPS against lefties, he’s going to sit at times in 2016. So Flores at third, Duda at 1st, Cabrera and Tejada up the middle? And I’ve failed to mention if Dilson Herrera comes north with the team. A .400 hitter in 115 ABs against LHP at Las Vegas, maybe he starts at 2nd?

These are the types of problems Collins will have to deal with. Problems from a position of strength, where the wrong answer may only go 1-for-3 instead of 2-for-3. That’s the kind of season we’re optimistically in store for and I can’t wait.


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Can This Year’s Outfield Be The Best In Team History? Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:37:48 +0000 granderson catch

So the big ticket purchases of the off-season are done, the core of the team is set and as fans, we have three things to focus on.

All of these are admirable ways to whittle down the days until they raise the flag for the 2015 National League Championship. With the added pieces to the infield, a full season on Matt Harvey’s arm and Steven Matz starting the season in Queens, the foundation is in place for a great team.

But how good is the outfield?

That’s been the big question for the better part of a decade, one that’s seen luminaries like Victor Diaz, Jay Payton, Ryan Church, Andres Torres and Jason Bay roam around in Orange and Blue…he wrote with heavy sarcasm. The fact is, the Amazin’s have never featured a great outfield…and here are the stats to prove it.

Using Baseball-Reference, I’ve complied some numbers to determine which year in franchise history posted the best 7-8-9. Since DRS or Defensive Runs Saved, as defined by FanGraphs, was only created in 2002, I’ve added Rtz, or Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average; basically the equivalent of DRS pre-2002 according to FanGraphs.

But since offense rules the day, I’ve used the combined oRAR or Offensive Runs above Replacement Level for the total. I’ve also included other stats so you can get a good feel for just how bad this group has been for more than 50 years.

I didn’t look up numbers from the really pathetic years, so you’re not going to see the WAR for a 36-year-old Duke Snider back in 1963 (It was 1.2). Instead, you’ll see a collection of winning seasons like the first one in…

1969 mets

1969 Mets (100 W – 62 L) - Total OF oRAR = 94









LF – Cleon Jones 52 11 7.0 .340 .904 12 75
CF – Tommie Agee 37 10 5.2 .271 .806 26 76
RF – Ron Swoboda 5 2 0.5 .235 .687 9 52

Let this be the first sign that our beloved franchise is founding on pitching. Cleon Jones clearly had an amazing year with a top 5 WAR for position players, but his OPS was only good enough for ninth in the league and he finished a distant 7th for the NL MVP behind teammates Tommie Agee and The Franchise, who finished second.

willie mays

1973 Mets (82 W – 79 L) - Total OF oRAR = 34

With Willie Mays in CF. with Don Hahn who started 93 games, it’s 31.









LF – Cleon Jones 6 0 -0.4 .260 .710 11 48
CF – Don Hahn -3 -3 -1 .229 .575 2 11
RF – Rusty Staub 28 -2 2.1 .279 .781 15 76
Willie Mays 0 4 -0.0 .211 .647 6 25

Sadly, this is Willie’s worst season as a professional. Granted, he was 42 at the time and showcased his age on the grandest stage of them all. But just a year earlier when he was traded back to New York, he hit .267 with a .848 OPS with a 1.6 WAR.

I could bore you with numbers from the rest of the 1970s, but the less said about Del Unser in center field, the better.

Basically, you have to fast forward to the next time Shea sparkles in October…

darryl strawberry

1986: Team Record (108 W – 54 L) - Total OF oRAR = 103

With Mookie Wilson in LF, who started 80 games and appeared in 123 games. The number drops to 88 with George Foster, who started 62, but only finished 38 and was eventually released in August.









LF – Mookie Wilson 23 2 3.0 .289 .775 9 45
CF – Lenny Dykstra 41 2 4.7 .295 .822 8 45
RF – Darryl Strawberry 39 -7 3.4 .259 .865 27 93
George Foster 8 -3 0.4 .227 .718 13 38

Upon first glance, this would seem to be the gold standard, especially since they won the World Series. But as Nick Bakay once said, the numbers never lie.

kevin mcreynolds

1987 Mets (92 W – 70 L) - Total OF oRAR = 142









LF – Kevin McReynolds 33 -3 2.6 .288 .832 27 99
CF – Lenny Dykstra 29 4 3.8 .270 .706 8 33
RF – Darryl Strawberry 57 -6 6.4 .269 .911 39 101

While this trio returned in 1988 with similar numbers (Total WAR 13.4, Total oRAR 136), they had a better oRAR in 1987 when the team fell three games short of the NL East champion St. Louis Cardinals and Strawberry finished sixth in the NL MVP voting. They clearly weren’t the best defenders, but that’s another trend since defense only seemed to matter in 1969.

roger cedeno

1999 Mets (97 W – 66 L) - Total OF oRAR = 79

With Darryl Hamilton, who was traded for on July 31 to replace Brian McRae, who the team had a total of oRAR of 64 with.









LF – Rickey Henderson 36 -11 1.8 .315 .889 12 42
CF – Brian McRae -0 -19 2.2 .221 .669 8 36
RF – Roger Cedeno 28 -7 1.5 .313 .804 4 36
OF – Darryl Hamilton 15 -1 1.2 .339 .898 5 21

Hamilton hit .315 with a .808 OPS for the year in what could have been the best deadline deal (Hamilton and Chuck McElroy for Thomas Johns (minors), Rigo Beltran and McRae) before Cespedes. Especially since he hit .280 (7-for-25) before watching Kenny Rogers throw a full-count ball four to Andruw Jones with the bases loaded.

A year later, they may have reached the World Series, but the outfield of Derek Bell, Jay Payton and immortal Benny Agbayani had little to do with it, posting a Total oRAR of 59 with a combined WAR of 5.8. The next time the outfield makes a difference is…


2006 Mets (97 W – 65 L) - Total OF oRAR = 83

But it’s 89 if you replace Xavier Nady with Endy Chavez who starts 79 games, finishes 73 of them and makes one of the greatest catches to be forgotten by everyone except Met fans.

Position & Name








LF – Cliff Floyd 3 3 -.4 .244 .731 11 44
CF – Carlos Beltran 73 7 8.2 .275 .982 41 116
RF – Xavier Nady 7 -6 .6 .264 .813 14 40
OF – Endy Chavez 13 11 1.8 .306 .814 4 40

In 2005, the outfield featured Victor Diaz and the experiment of Mike Cameron in left field. The total oRAR that year was 85 with a four-man total WAR of 9.9. But sadly, the numbers trended a little downward in the following seasons.

2007 – Total oRAR 82, Total WAR 7.9 (Beltran, Moises Alou and Shawn Green)

2008 – Total oRAR 84, Total WAR 9.6 (Beltran, Fernando Tatis and Ryan Church)

On a side note, if you’ve got a few moments take a look at Beltran’s numbers in a Met uniform. I never understood why so many people wanted to put him down. Clearly a very under-appreciated Met.

I’ve gone on long enough, especially since the next and final group worth mentioning took the field last year.

michael conforto 2

2015 Mets (92 W – 70 L) - Total OF oRAR = 91









LF – Michael Cuddyer 11 2 .5 .259 .699 10 41
CF – Juan Lagares 6 6 .6 .259 .647 6 41
RF – Curtis Granderson 40 -1 5.1 .259 .821 26 70
Yoenis Cespedes 23 -1 in CF, 6 in LF 2.3 .287 .841 17 44
Michael Conforto 11 5 2.1 .270 .841 9 26

So last year’s Total WAR of 10.6 makes them a little better than the 2006 team, but you have to go back 20 more years for the best offensive group after that. I will admit after digging through all these numbers and reading New York Post columnist Kevin Kernan’s report about how Collins believes Cespedes will easily handle center field, with a full spring training at the position, I’m willing to accept the best OF is Conforto, Cespedes and Granderson.

This year’s group, which also includes Lagares and De Aza, has a very good chance of becoming the most productive outfield we’ve ever seen in Flushing. Now if we can only get Lucas Duda ahead of Cespedes in the lineup so pitchers have to throw him fastballs…

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How Much Did Cespedes Leave On Table To Stay With The Mets Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:30:35 +0000 Cespedes Yoenis

Disclaimer: This is my last post about Cespedes, I promise (probably). Also, I love Cespedes. Pointing out that he didn’t take a discount is not in any way a “knock” on him… I just want to correct a misconception.

* * *

The public perception is that by taking the Mets three year, $75 million deal, free agent slugger Yoenis Cespedes gave the Mets a “discount” or was charitable to stay. Although, yes, it is true that Cespedes is taking a smaller overall financial guarantee to stay with the Mets, it turns out that the Mets offer to Cespedes was by far the most financially lucrative for him. In turning down the Nationals deferral-laden deal, Cespedes didn’t give up much and kept the rights to all of his upside.

The Value of the Nationals Reported Offer

The Nationals offer to Cespedes was reported to have been for five years and $110 million. The catch, however, is that it contained no opt-out and significant deferrals. We can only speculate as to what “significant deferrals” means, so let’s do so below.

The Nationals recently signed Max Scherzer to a seven year, $210 million deal with deferrals. In reality, Scherzer will be paid $15 million per year from 2015 to 2028, a span of fourteen seasons. According to the MLPBA, that reduced the net present value of the Scherzer contract to $191.4 million, a reduction of $20 million from the overall dollar figure.

The MLBPA used a discount rate of a little less than 2%, but their purposes (payroll tax, etc.) are slightly different than ours, so we will use a slightly more realistic discount rate. For many years, people have used 7% as the standard rate of return in the market, and that might be the rate of return the Nationals are getting on their invested money right now. However, it is fair to assume that Cespedes’s people would have him invested in something safer, so we’ll calculate his discount rate at 4.5%.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NPV of Cespedes’s contracts in the following three scenarios: 1) no money deferred, 2) some money deferred, and 3) identical to Scherzer deal.


Note: any tax benefits which might come as a non-resident of DC or NY will likely not apply as Cespedes (unlike Scherzer) will not be able to “retire or Florida or Texas” because he will still be an active player when this contract expires.

Note: It was reported late last night that Peter Gammons said the NPV of the Nationals’ offer was $77 million, which is just about impossible unless the deferrals were worse than Scherzer’s or if a highly unrealistic discount rate was used.

The Value of Cespedes’s Contract with the Mets 

Already, the Mets offer to Cespedes looks much more generous. There are two scenarios that can take place between Cespedes and the Mets. Either he opts-out, earning approximately $27.5 million this season, or he does not opt-out, in which case the NPV of the contract offered to him is around $72 million (remember, this deal is also front-loaded and only extends for three years).

The worst-case for Cespedes is that he performs poorly in 2016 and does not opt-out (the idea being that if he is good, he will opt-out in favor of a huge contract) so we’ll compare the Nationals deal to this scenario.

Note: It was reported that the Nationals deal may also have included an opt-out. In either case, the Mets deal with opt-out would have paid him more prior to the opt-out than the Nationals deal would have, so in any case, the Mets deal would be superior. 

Outfielders Can Have a Big Paydays at Age 33

The year is 2018 and Yoenis Cespedes has just completed his deal with the Mets. Depending on the numbers, the Mets deal was somewhere between $15 to $25 million less lucrative than the Nationals offer, so in that sense, Cespedes is “betting on himself.” But when you break down the details, it turns out he’s making an extremely safe bet.

In this reasonable worst case scenario, Cespedes is a free agent again before the 2019 season, hitting free agency again two years earlier and two years younger than he would have with the Nationals. Cespedes will only be 33 years old at that point, an age where players can still receive lucrative multi-year deals.

Here are some “outfielders” who hit free agency at age 32+ over the last three seasons: Ben Zobrist ($56M), Nick Markakis ($44M),Hanley Ramirez ($88M), Jacoby Ellsbury ($153M), Shin-Soo Choo ($130M), Curtis Granderson ($60M), Carlos Beltran($45M), Michael Bourn ($48M), Josh Hamilton ($125M). This list includes some players substantially older than Cespedes, and omits a few who spend most of their time DHing (like Nelson Cruz). If you can still play, you will get paid.

Even The Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario is Better for Cespedes

What is the reasonable worst-case scenario for Cespedes? Perhaps he goes back to being a 3 WAR player in 2016 (instead of the 6.7 WAR player he was in 2015) and he has problems with injury and declines a little earlier or more drastically than someone of his unusual physical talents. Perhaps Cespedes is a shadow of himself and is only expected to produce around 2 WAR in 2019.

ces-compssThere are other worst-case scenarios than this, of course. Cespedes could be hit by a meteor, or have a 99%-ile worst outcome. But Cespedes is a professional baseball player, and a good one at that, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be so much a shell of himself in three years as to be out of baseball. To the right, you’ll see a list of players since 1970 comparable to Cespedes (Between 14.8 and 16.5 WAR in their age 26-29 seasons; baserunning value > 0; OBP less than .350).

By and large, these guys aged well. The other comparables list I made for Cespedes (OBP less than .330, Defensive WAR > 0 ) was also incredibly favorable, including only Curtis GrandersonAndre DawsonAdam Jones, and Carl Crawford.

In any event, assuming Cespedes is a 2 WAR player in 2019 means that a reasonable contract estimate would be similar to the one Beltran signed in 2014 at age 36, or like Markakis signed in 2015 (although even this diminished version of Cespedes is better than both).

Fangraphs generally estimates that the price of a win on the free agent market ($/WAR) will increase by about 5% per year. Therefore, if it is around $8 million per win this offseason, it’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.3 million per win in 2019. If Cespedes were to take a two year contract in 2019, at current $/WAR levels at that time, and be paid like a 2 WAR player, he ought to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of two years and $36 million.

The net present value of that would be $30.9 million in today’s dollars,bringing the value of this scenario for Cespedes — the reasonable worst-case scenario — to $102.8 million over five years. This is more money than he would have received with the Nationals offer.

The Most Likely Outcome is that the Mets Contract is by Far the Best

In just about every other scenario, Cespedes does much better than if he had accepted a five year contract with the Nationals for only $110 million (with money deferred). If he’s still a good player at age 33, he may lock in one more big pay day, a la Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury who both received $150+ million. Or, most likely, Cespedes will opt-out after just one season with the Mets and receive his huge payday next offseason. You can weight those outcomes any way you like, and in just about every scenario, the Mets offer to Cespedes was objectively the best one.


Let’s say in the opt-out scenario he gets a contract like Shin-Soo Choo ($150 million), in the 3-4 WAR scenario he gets a contract like Hanley Ramirez ($88 million), in the 1.5-2.5 WAR scenario he gets a contract like Nick Markakis ($44 million) and if he’s out of baseball he gets nothing. This weighted outcome is worth $125.7 million, not including the $27.5 million he’d earn from the Mets in 2016, bringing his grand total to $153.2 million, almost double of the Nationals five-year guarantee. Even if you were to weight everything pessimistically (say, for instance, that he were to only opt-out half the time and be a bad player a third of the time) his weighted outcomes would still add up to $133.3 million.

The worst thing that could happen to Cespedes is that his contract with the Mets is his last one. But in accepting the Mets deal, he’s only giving up $15 to $25 million in net present value in order to retain the right to bet on himself getting a big payday — or even a moderate one — in the future. In fact, signing a five year deal with the Nationals might have been the worst thing for a guy like Cespedes to do. Even though the Nationals were guaranteeing Cespedes $110 million, he was selling 100% of his upside and pretty much guaranteeing that he won’t get another crack at free agency in the future. And he was right, financially, to reject that deal.

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The Cespedes Shortcut Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:48:18 +0000 yoenis cespedes

It’s like a haircut, only with more Cespedes.

In the future, cadets in baseball general manager academies will gather around mock boardrooms and recreate the events of the great Yoenis Cespedes shortcut. They’ll be judged on their ability to focus on the mission while sticking to contractual parameters in a city gripped by panic, and their final grade will be based on their ability to extract a .542 slugging outfielder alive and intact from an exploding volcano.

In the lead-up to the Cespedes signing last week I’d become increasingly skeptical about it. I had my reasons.The Mets were still lurking in the bargain bin, targeting undervalued assets. Cespedes was a flamboyant flirtation, a whimsical interlude, like test driving a Mercedes AMG when you’re on a ’05 Malibu budget. It’s nice, something to dream about, but don’t scratch the leather.

The Mets had their numbers gremlins working overtime digging up market inefficiencies — mining for those discounted wins above replacement — rare jewels purchased at 1 win rates who are often worth considerably more. What’s the inefficiency du jour these days? OBP? Contact? Defense?

The focus lately is on players whose WAR totals skew upwards due to their defense. The perfect example of one such player is Juan Lagares in 2014. Lagares put up a WAR of 4.0 in 2014 with a UZR/150 of 25.3, so a sizable chunk of Lagares’ value is derived from his defense.

In 2014 Lagares was signed for the league minimum (.5 million) and he put up 4 WAR. If you take Matt Swartz’ estimate for $/fWAR, the value of 1 WAR in 2014 was $7.6 million … so Lagares secured production worth $30.4 million dollars (on the FA market) for a half a million bucks. You’d never think of paying a guy like Lagares $30 million because of his merely adequate 101 wRC+, 117 hits and 47 RBI, but if you believe in value metrics, Lagares was one of the best players on the 2014 Mets.

Now comes 2015 and a new extension, only Lagares reverts to league average defense and 1 WAR. The extension promises to pay him 2.5 million in 2016, 4.5 million in 2017, 6.5 million in 2018, and 9 million in 2019 for a total of $22.5 million over 4 years. But, regression notwithstanding, this is a major bargain for any 25 year old coming off a 4 WAR season no matter how you slice it.

Does anyone think the Mets would have been able to extend Lagares over 4 years for 22.5 million if that same 4 WAR was a function of his power, like say Conforto? No way. And therein lies the inefficiency if you will. Defensive metrics are problematic in how they factor into the WAR equation. The perception is that there’s a lot if inherent inconsistency in the way WAR incorporates a player’s total UZR. In a way, the market inefficiency may itself be a product of imprecise value metrics.

If Lagares continues to average 1 WAR per season he will still pay for himself by the conclusion of the contract, (this would be true even in 2019 because $/fWAR per inflation would rise to around 10.6 million). In the event that Lagares has another 2014 showing, he would essentially pay for his entire contract in one season. That, my friends, is a bargain — it is the definition of exploiting a market inefficiency. Lagares is a safe and cheap bet, and when you’re the Mets that’s what you go with, you don’t take $75 million dollar gambles on smokers with howitzer arms and bats full of moon shots.

The Mets proceeded to secure two up-the-middle switch hitters while simultaneously upgrading their defense — skill sets that register marginal upticks in price for potentially game changing abilities given the recent league-wide deluge of defensive shifts. Prudent and measured moves.

In center the Mets retain Lagares (and his upside), but ideally you want to actually get better, and you certainly want more than 1 WAR from center field. Six million dollars later, say hello to Alejandro De Aza and his not really better 1.2 2015 WAR and 104 wRC+. De Aza was a good candidate to outperform his price tag considering Met independent analyses viewed him as defensively underrated – a plausible victim of the muddled UZR integral inherent in WAR. He also put up 33.1 UZR/150 in 2011 so, he’s got some potential in his own right, but again, that word, potential. At his best De Aza is a .329 hitter with 150 wRC+, but he did that in 2011 through 171 total plate appearances with only 21 of them against lefties. He’s a platoon player, albeit good one … Lagares from the left side.

Still, Lagares represents the largest potential year-to-year bump (in value) of anyone on the Mets roster with the possible exception of David Wright. Juan is still the jewel, make no mistake. In addition to being 5 years younger than De Aza he has demonstrated 4 WAR upside, so it would be huge if he could find his form. But can the Mets afford more disappointments when they could be looking for secure avenues back to the post season? Should they meander on roads lined with underpriced vendibles when they’d be better off finding a shortcut, a bopper to put the fear of god in the opposition?

Cespedes was coming off a superstar-ish 6.7 WAR derived almost exclusively from some gaudy power numbers. He is exactly what the Mets lineup needs, but over a 5 to 7 year term, the presumption that he’d sustain his all-star production is dubious. He’d probably average out to barely 3 WAR a year, if that. Considering the extent to which Mets decision making is informed by value-based market fluctuations, you’d think signing Cespedes had a popsicle’s chance in a pizza oven.

And, like me, you’d be wrong.

Not because Cespedes didn’t want to be in NY, but because his signing went against everything the Mets front office was known for.

The Nationals were offering him $110 million over 5 years, but Peter Gammons reports that up to a third of it was deferred making that deal’s present day value $77 million. With the Mets paying him 27.5 million, Cespedes may clear anywhere from 8 and 10 million more as a Met in 2016, and that’s not pocket change folks … 10 million over 5 years is a very big bird in hand. There was also security of year 2 and 3 plus a player opt-out clause, giving Cespedes another shot at a mega-deal next winter when the pickings are slimmer.

The Mets on their end sign a player motivated to repeat his 6-ish 2015 WAR and are as close as they’ve been in a long stretch to playing moneyball with real money. They were faced with choosing between potential and established production and they went with the far more expensive choice — a clear break from recent tightwad tenets.

Perhaps some brilliant accounting wizard in the ticket office came up with the fantastical notion that you can make A LOT of money in NY if you routinely field a contender … What a concept, give that man a 2% raise! The only real concern in all this is Cespedes’ center field play. The hope is that Cespedes’ true defensive ability is somewhere between his decent overall UZR/150 of 14.5 in 2015 and his worrisome -14 in center field. Given that the one redeeming feature of his defense is his arm, which should translate to center, there is some validity in the notion that his defense in center isn’t quite -14 UZR/150 bad. By the way take a look at a top 10 in UZR/150, Cespedes comes in 3rd (number irony I guess) and is in some un-believable company.

The Mets made their offer “known” (saves on paper) and shifted back to their ponderous bargain hunting, when suddenly, BAM, shortcut. An advanced offensive asset circumvents their moneyballing as everyone in NY croons about how much these guys want to play for the Mets … And while there’s truth to that, lets not forget the big ring “and all that that implies” as Kent Mansley might say. Cespedes wants to win a championship, in New York, he wants to finish what he started. It’s a great narrative, perhaps even one for the ages if all the pieces fall into place.

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Mets Have A Lot Riding On David Wright Thu, 21 Jan 2016 15:04:17 +0000 david wright

It isn’t hard to pick out the player shouldering the most pressure this season for the New York Mets, that would be third baseman David Wright. Somehow, last year the Mets withstood playing without him for over four months, but several things combined to make that possible, notably the ineffective Washington Nationals and several key mid season acquisitions headlined by outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Will the Mets be as fortunate if Wright goes down and misses a sizable chunk this year? Will Wright be able to give the Mets at least 135-140 games at his previous level of production?

FanGraphs (Steamer) has Wright hitting .266 this season with 11 homers and 48 RBI. projects Wright to hit .275 with nine homers and 37 RBI. Both of those projections would be absolutely terrible news for the Mets in my opinion. The scary part is based on Wright’s recent injury history I can envision that before I can see him returning to one of his 6.0+ WAR-type seasons.

Wright hasn’t hit 30 homers since 2008 and has only hit at least 20 twice since then. He has a combined 31 in his last three years, and only once since 2013 has he played in as many at 130 games. Including the 2009 season, he’s had as many as 500 at-bats only four times.

You can talk about OPS and WAR all you want, but all statistics are predicated on at-bats and Wright hasn’t had many in recent years. Look, I am one of Wright’s biggest supporters, but I can’t ignore the facts that he hasn’t been healthy lately.

He missed over four months last year with spinal stenosis, and that he even returned late in the season was remarkable. Considering the good feelings about his return, recovery and playing in the playoffs, it would be another devastating blow is he were to go down again.

The Mets did not add a right-handed hitting power bat during the winter, perhaps with the outside hope Wright would come back close to form. As of now, they won’t have Cespedes back and it could be a dangerous gamble if they are thinking they can make another at-the-wire trade.

Let’s face it, as long as Wright is here he’s the face of this franchise, but if he’s hurt again and doesn’t produce, that contract with five years and $87 million remaining will be an albatross.

Imagine how much better things will be if Wright plays in 130 games, hits at least 20 homers and drives in 80 runs. Could make for another fun year, and for me that’s why Wright is the Mets’ most overriding issue.

I don’t know what these stat sites base all their projections on, but I’m hoping that they’re wrong about Wright.

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Mets Offseason Strategy May Be Better Than You Think Mon, 11 Jan 2016 14:00:14 +0000 CYZ3Fn1UEAAvZJP

I’ve been accused of having rose colored glasses permanently affixed to my head when it comes to the Mets. When I was a kid I used to pour over potential lineups rationalizing how they could actually win games. Richie Hebner batting third? That could work… Wayne Garrett leading off? Why the hell not? Of course as soon as the season started my hopes would be dashed like a dead seal on a line of jagged boulders off the coast of Vancouver Island. I mean Richie #%$ing Hebner?

Anyway. My dad would always say stuff like “that’s nice son” when I’d bring up potential lineups while bouncing my Spaldeen #4 … “Montanez could be a pretty good cleanup hitter.” He’d pat me on the head and smile as if trying to hold back the “keep dreaming kiddo” that you’d normally share with anyone but a starry eyed kid with baseball cards in every pocket.

Growing up in the late 70’s you kind of learn to deal with the Mets losing. We just figured it was part of growing up in Corona, like the constant rumble of the 7 train and the wonderful smell of empanadas and tostones. I think that’s why those of us fortunate enough to remember the early days have a tough time complaining about the current state. For me it was always easier to complain about high priced and high expectation disasters like 1992 and 2003.

So I have mixed feelings about 2016 … They certainly lack that high priced “what could possibly go wrong?” composition of early 90’s monstrosities, and, given the Mets placement as runner-up for the World Series, you’ve got to feel pretty good about the Mets getting back into the fray — kind of like how you felt after Rocky lost to Apollo Creed.

On the other hand the expectations are admittedly high and the potential for a letdown is something no Mets fan can really ever dismiss, after all there’ve been so damned many letdowns it’s hard to keep track. It’s in our frigging DNA at this point. There’s also the very worrisome dearth of investment in what was a very successful 2015 squad.


Nevertheless I am pretty sure my glass is half full because, well, just look at it, it’s obviously half full. The Mets have been on something of a roll with their player moves, and one thing I noticed is that they picked up a couple of interesting switch hitters in Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker.

A recent article on fangraphs showed how increasingly, successful hitters are going the other way. On the Mets we need go no further than Curtis Granderson to see the benefit of slapping the ball to the opposite field now and again.

The thing about Walker and Cabrera is that not only are they switch hitters but when you look at their hit spray (I hate that term, it reminds me of feral cats …) they spread the ball around pretty good. Even De Aza (to a lesser degree) can go the other way. This is a trend we shouldn’t ignore, shifts have been roughly doubling across the league every year for the past several seasons and we can be pretty sure there’ll be more of the same in 2016. So, these additions look pretty good in this respect.

The other consideration for next season is the conspicuous absence of a big signing for a big bat. For me, this is definitely the bigger concern.

“Look, we know Cespedes was instrumental to us getting to the World Series, but, I think along the way we learned a few things about ourselves and about the team and I think the way we’ve approached the offseason put some of those lessons in to play.” – Sandy Alderson.

A lot has been made of Cespedes’ contributions and how there was more to the Mets success than Yoenis’ admittedly gaudy numbers, which is true in and of itself, however, what’s been taken for granted is the “tipping point” effect of Cespedes’ presence in the batting order. You have to consider the element of protection both up and down the lineup around him. There’s a reason the Mets hit better after Yoenis was added and it’s hard to fathom how Cespedes’ looming presence was somehow detached from that broader uptick.

The Mets front office is constitutionally disinclined to long, expensive second generation contracts, and so I thought I’d look into it a little bit. I did a quick search of WAR and wRC+ (a scaled rate stat which shows the value of a hitter’s outcomes [hits] while accounting for park effects) from 1980 to the present at 6 different age points to see if there really is a precipitous decline as players age and whether this is worse now than it was during the steroid era.

Strangely, when looking at wRC+ the results can be dramatically skewed by two or three aging but productive players … this can happen when you have Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz in the league. That being said, contributions of older players appear to have been valuable even going back to the 80’s and 90’s … perhaps this is a function of wRC+, which quantifies a player’s value by runs created (Ortiz had a wRC+ of 138 last year), but the chart definitely shows that veteran players can be valuable in their ability to create runs.

This of course may be a simple function of longevity being a byproduct of competence — only a very good player will still be around well into his late 30’s — nevertheless, it’s surprising because the prevailing notion is that players lose their physical abilities as they age, their bat speed, dexterity, strength, what have you. This wRC+ chart seems to imply that good hitters continue to hit well into their late 30’s and that this hasn’t changed much over the years.

wRC+ by Age

Screenshot (1)

WAR by Age

Screenshot (2)

WAR on the other hand is perhaps a more appropriate measure when considering the contributions of aging players because it takes into account the fact that there are fewer players as you move up in age, reducing their aggregate contribution accordingly.

This is indeed the case with major spikes in value occurring between the ages of 27 and 33 … but again, somewhat curiously (when you consider how well some older players performed in wRC+), with the exception of 1985, players between the ages of 39 and 40 never produced more than a combined 8.3 WAR, and 37 year old players never combined for more than a 30.7 WAR (which they did in 2000).

When you contrast that with 27 year olds in 2010 putting up a 133.5 combined WAR, youth definitely has it’s advantages. Also, there is a pronounced recent spike in the contributions of 24 year olds in 2010 and 2015 as they put up the age bracket’s two highest combined WAR figures (69.5 in 2010 and 70.9 in 2015).

So, younger players are definitely trending up in terms of combined value. This shouldn’t shock anyone when you consider that injuries and attrition deplete the ranks of older players. Are younger players getting better? Perhaps, but the wRC+ chart also shows that those veterans that manage to stick around can sometimes be pretty darned good.

david wright curtis granderson

There are two takeaways. Firstly, veteran players retain value into their late 30’s (although there are fewer of them), and that has been true since the early 80’s and it hasn’t really fluctuated much … Secondly, a value driven metric such as WAR really brings out the contributions of players in the 27 – 30 year old bracket, you can’t really ignore that.

If we know anything about Alderson’s approach it’s that he likes to work in the aggregate. This was true in his Oakland days when they spread OBP over a roster (and a system), and it’s true now when they concentrate their focus on younger players who work the count and (at least this off-season) use the whole field.

I think it’s hard to deny that approaching improvement by addressing deficiencies across an entire system has benefits over simply looking for the best guy who can fill a given need at a given time, which seems like a very reactionary after the fact approach.

There isn’t anything revelatory about this … we’ve always known that Baseball is a young man’s game and that great teams tend to have great farm systems. The fact that the Mets are putting this reality into practice is certainly a good thing. The only real surprise with the data above is that steroids over the years didn’t have as big an impact in sheer age related value as you’d think – which might be cause for further review.

In the end I’m keeping my hopes up that this Mets brain-trust knows a thing or two about securing winning “assets” or whatever you want to call them. It’s hard not to feel good about these current Mets because of their unbelievable pitching arsenal. With the exception of 1969 (a terrific omen by the way), I can’t recall a roster as pitching heavy as that of these Mets. But 1969 came and went and those mets were unable to sustain a lasting legacy because they didn’t have the positional depth to support their pitching.

Similarly these 2016 Mets are somewhat lacking on the positional side in terms of major league ready prospects while the organization also seems to lack the resources to purchase quality players on the free agent market, which is certainly foreboding … Still, until I see that dead seal smashed against the rocks I will continue to believe we’re in the midst of something special, something along the lines of a very smartly conceived Mets renaissance.

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Mets Minors: Syndergaard Part Of BA’s All-Rookie Team Sat, 10 Oct 2015 15:30:34 +0000 noah syndergaard

Baseball America picked nine position players and six pitchers to be part of their All-Rookie team with Noah Syndergaard being the only Mets player chosen. Michael Conforto was passed over in the outfield for Joc PedersonRandal Grichuk and Odubel Herrera mainly because of his limited opportunity this year (only 174 AB’s).

Syndergaard led rookie pitchers with his 166 strikeouts this season in 150 innings. He also led all MLB rookie starting pitchers with a 1.05 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 innings.

Thor was also the hardest throwing rookie starting pitcher ever (minimum 80 IP) since Pitch fx started tracking eight years ago with his average 96.5 MPH fastball.

He also led rookie starters with his 3.25 FIP, 2.91 xFIP, and SIERA at 2.95. Noah finished with the second best WAR at 3.1 behind only Anthony Scalafani who started seven more games than Syndergaard.

For more great info on Mets prospects head over to

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Three Trades The Mets Should Consider Wed, 08 Apr 2015 09:32:20 +0000 Las Vegas 51s

With an impressive balance of power arms, consistent bats, and major league ready talent, the Mets have a consensus top-five minor league system. They also, at least in my opinion, have a damn good major league team as well.

The big club definitely has some holes, though, notably at shortstop, but otherwise there seems to be no huge area of weakness. The rotation will receive is already overflowing with talent and will receive an influx of young arms at midseason. The outfield, while aged in the corners, has two not-so-far-away replacements in Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. I haven’t even mentioned Gold Glover Juan Lagares, recently inked to a four year contract extension.

But if the Mets are serious about contending this season and even beyond, Sandy Alderson needs to make a big splash. We all know the saying that “Prospects will break your heart.” But the Mets actions (or lack thereof) seem to suggest the team plans on fielding a roster completely composed of prospects over the next few seasons.

Consider the Daniel Murphy situation. For all his faults, Murph loves Queens and would not seem to command much more than a three year, $24M deal. Granted, the Mets would be paying for a player in his age 30-33 seasons, not ideal, but this man has been the most consistent and reliable Met of recent years, producing a combined 10.9 WAR in four full big league campaigns.

Alderson and co. seem content to let Murphy walk and hand over the job to rookies Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, but as the Mets move closer to contention, they should be emphasizing proven talent over potential.


Six Mets prospects were named to Baseball America’s annual top 100 list. But looking at the correlation between BA prospect ranking and career WAR values (credit you can see relying on prospects yields frugal results at best.

If history is any indication, Syndergaard (#11) will produce around a 10.0 WAR during his career, Matz (#33) around a 7.0 figure, Nimmo and Herrera (#45 and #46) near 6.0, Conforto (#80) at approximately 4.0, and Amed Rosario at 3.0. Keeping in mind that Ruben Tejada has totaled a 4.0 WAR in his brief major league career, and these marks are all very underwhelming.

Certainly, though, there are many flaws in using this graph. For one, Rosario, Conforto, Matz, and even Nimmo have not yet reached their peak prospect ranking. Furthermore, the rankings are completely arbitrary and say nothing in particular about the Mets current crop of talent.

Still, it is clear that, after moving past the top five ranked prospects, there is little guarantee when it comes to young players. If the Mets are smart, they will select the prospects they believe have the highest chance at success, and deal away the players with too many question marks.

While he did not make BA’s list, I will add Kevin Plawecki to this group of top prospects as well.

My list of “untouchable” players would be as follows: Syndergaard, Nimmo/Conforto, Rosario, and Plawecki

The logic behind my picks is simple. Syndergaard must stay, as pitching is expensive and free agent arms often come with a checked injury past. Herrera looks to be the heir to Murphy’s second base throne, but I think the Mets can find equal production in Wilmer Flores or Matt Reynolds once Murphy leaves. In short, he is replaceable.

Catchers are prone to injury and need heavy rest. Therefore, Plawecki will play a significant role on the Mets whether or not d’Arnaud is healthy and is an excellent backup at worst. Conforto and Nimmo are very similar players: both have a polished swing, a good eye, a strong chance at reaching the majors, but also a relatively limited ceiling. Nimmo is the more explosive player, but there is so much overlap between these two players that I will leave this decision up to the front office.

That leaves all the prospects at their highest values, Matz, Herrera, and probably Conforto (as Nimmo is a true ‘Alderson guy’) as trade bait.

Now, using these three players and some unmentioned less-heralded prospects, let’s see if we can find a few realistic deals that the Mets should consider. It is very hard to acquire proven major talent, so I will do my best to present scenarios in which the trades are as fair as possible.

Scenario 1: OF Leonys Martin for Michael Conforto and Kyle Johnson

Whether they admit it or not, the Rangers are in full rebuilding mode after a dismal season. Martin is not exactly a great hitter (career 91 OPS+), but he can post a solid batting average and play stellar defense. Last year, he earned a WAR of 4.6 thanks in large part to his stellar glove. In fact, besides Juan Lagares, Martin saved the most runs of any outfielder last season. may not be the sexiest move, but pairing another elite defender with an all-world centerfield like Lagares would be a huge upgrade for the Mets. The Rangers net promising outfielder Michael Conforto, who should develop into a better hitter than Martin, and Kyle Johnson, who has an intriguing blend of power and speed. This move would create an outfield logjam in Queens, but that is less of an issue than it seems. Cuddyer and Graderson are both on the wrong side of thirty, and the former can play first against lefties. Collins could also use a three-way rotation for the two corner outfield spots, adjusting based on match-ups for maximum success.

Scenario 2: SS Starlin Castro for Jon Niese, Steven Matz, and Matt Bowman,

This may be the toughest deal for Mets fan to swallow, but it could prove well worth the cost. Castro has shown he can hit and defend in the past five seasons and will not reach the open market until 2020. The Mets do have Amed Rosario and Milton Ramos down on the farm, but they are years from contributing the major league club and should not factor into this decision. Chicago has a fantastic offensive team but they are very short on pitching at the major and minor league levels. Jon Niese would immediately become their number three starter and Matz could grow into the number two role behind Jon Lester. Bowman has the ability to contribute to a big league rotation in the near future as well. For the Mets, it hurts to lose three talented pitchers, but Sandy has more than enough arms to compensate for the lose of Niese, Matz, and Bowman. Not only does Castro greatly fit the Mets needs, but he has a very-team friendly team deal and could be the young star the Mets need. Further adding to the pros of this deal, New York could move Flores back to second base or opt to go with Dilson Herrera for the 2016 season, leaving them with a very strong infield in either case.

Scenario 3: SS Jose Ramirez for Michael Conforto, Robert Whalen, and Cesar Puello

Assuming the Mets strike out on Castro, Cleveland shortstop Jose Ramirez would be a nice Plan B. He does not have much power, but he batted .262 in his rookie season, which should improve. Most importantly, the Ramirez plays excellent defense at short, is just 22 years old, and does not become a free agent until 2021. Conforto could solve the Indians’ outfield problem as soon as 2016, conveniently when Nick Swisher’s huge deal comes off the books. Whalen (2.01 ERA in Low-A last season) and Puello are solid throw-ins and will push this deal through. Three solid prospects is a lot for a not-so-flashy player like Ramirez, but he is a proven major league defender, holds his own with the bat, and would be a great fit behind the Mets power arms. Speaking of those arms, New York improves their shortstop situation without giving up any in this trade. That should be a win itself.

Now it’s your turn. If you were the Mets General Manger, would you agree to any of these trades?


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Featured Post: Granderson Was Getting A Raw Deal Sun, 15 Feb 2015 12:04:46 +0000 curtis granderson

Many people seem to have low expectations and even less optimism when discussing Curtis Granderson.  It seems like his bad season was what should be expected as everyone points to his age and playing in more of a pitcher’s park than Yankee Stadium was.  However, while he only had a pathetic 1.0 WAR last year, that was worse than even Ruben Tejada, let’s breakdown the factors that led up to this.

Granderson was placed in right field last year to accommodate Chris Young and Eric Young.  Chris was such a proud signing that he was promised certain opportunities even though he had stunk for three years running and was pronounced the starting center fielder a week before the opener by that noted player development guru, Terry Collins, and Eric was “the only leadoff hitter” on the roster.  So as the right fielder by default, Granderson’s Fangraphs defensive rating of -17.2 was mostly due to his poor throwing arm (he rated the worst of all qualifying right fielders) because he had a 43% success rate of catching fly balls that were in the “unlikely” category (10%-40% chance of being caught).  That’s pretty good!  So he definitely can cover ground.  Shifting to left field and not needing to have a good arm while covering pretty good ground can only make that defensive rating shoot up, thus increasing his overall WAR.

Now for the offense.  He rated 43rd offensively for all qualified outfielders with a 6.5 rating.  Not great, but that is the middle of the pack for a player that last year everyone agrees just sucked at times.  Miscast once again, but this time in his offensive role, first he was a cleanup hitter and having the pressure of being in a spot he wasn’t familiar with and then he was put in the table setting spots of #1 and #2 in which he hit a dreadful .198 in about 1/3 of his at bats.  But, when placed in a less pressure #5 or #6 spots, he hit .268.

Therefore, between being in a comfort zone offensively and being moved to a more favorable defensive position according to his abilities, I don’t see why he couldn’t have a season of 2.8 WAR like Daniel Murphy had last year who also was poor defensively and not overly impressive offensively other than his doubles, but was more a consistent accumulator of statistics by playing all the time thus scoring alot of runs despite an ordinary .332 OBP.

Lastly, while I am not Granderson’s lawyer, one thing that warms the heart of us fans is clutch hitting.  Guess who was #1 of the Mets qualified hitters according to Fangraphs?  Yep, the Grandy man.

I’m not expecting miracles, but I think he can do a .269/.340/.435 stat line, with 75 runs scored as I expect TDA and Flores behind him to rock, 80 RBI, and 25 homeruns.  This is exactly what the Mets need from Granderson and the rest of the lineup.  Steady and consistent production according to their histories and let the pitching staff carry the team.

So, let’s take a more objective view of this player before he is pronounced a complete bust and give him another year in more favorable conditions.


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MMO Fan Shot: Big Market Hickory Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:28:45 +0000 HoosiersTeam

An MMO Fan Shot by Dezzy S.

To state the painfully obvious, Mets fans have not been given many gifts from the Baseball Gods over the years. Disasters, yes. Collapses, for sure. Heartbreaks, more than we care to count. But with the signing of Max Scherzer, we might have been given the greatest gift we could ever ask for…

Unquestionable underdog status.

Here me out for a second, as this article is light on metrics and WAR and long on gut feel.

Let’s face it, the Mets don’t do a particularly good job of meeting lofty expectations, and they have a comical track record of signing formerly respectable free agents who disintegrate before our eyes under the New York spotlight (I won’t list them here so your salty tears don’t interfere with your ability to read on).

We win — with one rare exception in 1986 — when no one expects it. The Nationals, on the other hand, cannot seem to win when everyone expects it. How many years has the press talked about Bryce Harper’s projectable awesomeness, which somehow always seems to translate into a .270 and 55 RBI season? The Nationals have been a favored team to win it all for several years running now, and how many times have they made it out of the first round of the playoffs?

The way I look at the Scherzer deal is that it adds enormous pressure on a team that has yet to prove it can handle it. Bryce Harper, Matt Williams, Stephen Strasburg, and the whole crew can thank the $210 million dollar Boras monster contract for exponentially increasing the pressure on the Nats to win right now.

To me, the Scherzer signing makes 2015 a make-or-break year for the Nationals’ collective psyche. If they choke again, how will they exorcise what will become The Curse of Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit? How can you not win it all with far and away the best pitching staff in baseball and a lineup stocked with stars? The Nats’ core group won’t be the same, psychologically, or, for that matter, from a personnel standpoint due to impending free agent departures of key players.

If they don’t win it all this year I think they are done.


The Mets have a perfect opportunity to thrive as the underdog here. Crappy ownership. Small market budget in a big market city. A bunch of kids looking to make their mark, older guys looking to return to glory, and major contributors returning from injury. Who would have thought a New York City team could actually become the Hickory of MLB.

The Baseball Gods are lining things up for Mets fans to truly embrace our real heritage and identity – and why we love the team so dearly. We love the fighter and the underdog and the disrespected. This is who we are and now the Mets have the absolute perfect opportunity to embody everything that we love. We have always been more Rocky than Drago, more David than Goliath, more Hickory than South Bend.

Here’s how you can bring some light to what feels like a very dark Mets’ winter:

Think Ed Pinckney and Patrick Ewing, Villanova versus Georgetown. The 1985 National Championship game that stunned the sports world just one year before the Mets won it all.

Who’s gonna be our Harold Jansen or Jimmy Chitwood? Who’s gonna stand up and say, “I’ll make it.”

My bet, Matt Harvey, whether he is 100% back or 50% back from his injury.

He’s the one that will stand up and say, “Bring it on Nats. Let’s see what you got, Beltway Evil Empire. We cannot wait to see you wilt under the heat of the spotlight. And when you do, we’ll be there to snatch that NL East title right out of your grasp.”

Lets Go Mets! Opening Day can’t come fast enough.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Dezzy S.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Mets Have The Most Homegrown Players On Roster Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:40:06 +0000 sandy alderson

In an organizational roster analysis by August Fagerstrom on FanGraphs, he discovers plenty of unique outliers.

For one, the Oakland Athletics have only four homegrown players on their 40-man roster – that is, of the 40 players who comprise the current A’s roster, only four were actually drafted by the organization at some point. The MLB average is 17 and only one other team has less than 10.

On the flip side, the New York Mets have 27 homegrown players on their 40-man roster, the highest percentage in the majors. The differences in organizational philosophies, he says, are very stark between the A’s and the Mets.

“The organizational ladder for the Mets dates all the way back to 2001 when franchise-favorite David Wright was drafted in the first round. Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell were both drafted in 2005, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada followed in 2006, and a whole host of current 40-manners came in 2007, including starters Jenrry Mejia, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores.

“It’s interesting because the Mets have been undergoing something of a rebuilding process over the last several years, which could help explain their stockpiling of homegrown players. They trust their draft selections, and so they want to see them pan out.”

Of course there are other factors that feed into this which are borne out of necessity. Most of the homegrown players go back to Omar Minaya, and Sandy Alderson has yet to trade for an active MLB player that sticks, only minor leaguers thus far. But mostly, the financial distress the team has been under for the last six years also explains why the Mets have the third fewest free agents on their roster – just six out of their 40 roster allocations. And the Mets were again an outlier of sorts where those free agents are concerned.

“I added up the 2015 salary commitments for the free agent acquisitions of each team, and I added up their projected WAR for 2015, taken from our in-house depth charts, which are based on Steamer projections. Using these totals, I was also able to calculate $/WAR — how much each team is paying for their wins.”

The Mets are paying $11.9 million dollars per 1.0 WAR which is the second worst $/WAR in the majors behind the Philadelphia Phillies.

It points out that the few free agents the Mets have signed are not really giving the team any value, which has the Mets vastly overpaying for their projected production in 2015.


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Pitching Or Hitting? Assigning Post-Steroid Era Value Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:41:39 +0000 jacob degrom

There’s been a lot of talk these days about value. Many Mets fans wonder whether stockpiling valuable pitching assets will prove advantageous in an era when scarcity dictates that quality hitters possess the most value.

Value metrics have become the go-to statistic among many fans in this discussion as they provide a practical tool for defining a player’s contribution. But it’s hard to assign a win-value to a player completely exclusive of contextual influences such as lineup, quality of competition, difficulty of position, and even effectiveness of coaching … to assign a definitive value judgment when comparing similar players based on WAR is dubious. WAR is a broad stroke metric. On any given leader-board you can find multiple instances of  players falling behind clearly less valuable counterparts. Jhonny Peralta is not more valuable than Miguel Cabrera, likewise Josh Donaldson is not more valuable than Giancarlo Stanton.

WAR is more useful in grouping players. You can, for instance, be confident that a 4 WAR player will be categorically superior to a 2 WAR player. WAR only becomes problematic when comparing players separated by smaller increments.

Now if we want to assign a relative value to offense in today’s game we can look at WAR over time. In the charts below you can see that there is a spike of 6+ WAR players right around 1998 (24) with a spike in 8+ WAR players occurring in 2004.


8 war

Interestingly, in 1994, at the height of the steroid era, there were only five 6+ WAR players and no 8+ WAR players. There is definitely a dip in number of high value players in recent years, but there have been other dips over the years and the correlation between the steroid era and numerous high WAR players isn’t as strong as you might think. Part of this might be whatever value is placed on a player’s defense and the possibility that steroids didn’t factor in as much on the defensive side of the game.

A statistic that I do like is OPS. It is the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. OPS is the only widely used statistic that incorporates all the elements of offense: patience, power, and contact.  It is a relatively simple stat that gives us a good solid offensive performance indicator. OPS over time yields a much more pronounced pattern as you can see below (I also included a wOBA comparison for good measure).

ops by year



As you can see, the spike at right around 1998 in both OPS and wOBA is significant and the decline from about 2002 on is steep. This correlates heavily with increases in numerous other offensive categories during the steroid era. The subsequent decline is considerable and in many ways trends all the way back to standards set back in the early 60’s.

The question nevertheless remains … how does this precipitous decline in offense translate in terms of here-and-now value? Clearly there are fewer high level offensive players than there were only a few years ago … scarcity dictates that their monetary value should increase accordingly. Why have good hitters become so hard to come by? Steroids certainly had something to do with the insane number of 900 and 1000 OPS players in the late 90’s, but as the wave of PED’s subsided, like water finding its level, pitching has slowly begun to ascend to pre-steroid norms. The reason why hitters have become so scarce is because they are increasingly overmatched by pitching, which may have benefited less from steroids than hitting did.

So where do you assign greater baseball value in today’s market, hitting or pitching? 900 OPS players are fewer and further between … so from a monetary standpoint elite hitters will be expensive, probably more expensive than pitching. On the other hand, in this great contest of pitchers vs. batters, the pitchers have been absolutely destroying the batters. Good pitching is in fact beating good hitting all over the place. Tough question.

If you have the money and resources, securing an elite hitter or two will give you a rare advantage because there are so few of them available. I took the top three salaries from every team in the league and split the money between pitching and hitting and sure enough in 2014, teams spent $520,008,647 on “top 3 in salary” pitchers, while they spent a whopping $818,182,379 on “top 3” team hitting. So there is quite a difference.

If you are on a tight budget it becomes difficult to field a balanced team when you apportion a huge percentage of your payroll to 1 or 2 hitters (availability is also a major consideration), and you may be better off cultivating a pitching heavy system (since it’s clearly pitching that is carrying the day anyhow). Ideally you’d want to augment with a host of young cost-controlled home grown offensive players as well … Sound familiar?

This goes back to an earlier discussion that compared Sandy Alderson’s approach with the Mets to Theo Epstein’s strategy with the Cubs. The Mets are going to have a lot of pitching coming up in the next few seasons and the Cubs are brimming with young position players. Theo’s premise goes something like, “Since hitters are so scarce, teams will trade more than their pitching equivalent in value to obtain them.”  According to Theo (and a lot of Cubs fans) because there are so few quality hitters Sandy Alderson should be willing to part with deGrom or Syndergaard and Herrera and Plawecki for a single Starlin Castro … but that’s money talking, and increasingly expensive hitters haven’t been winning on the field, cheap young pitching has.

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Beltran’s Deal With Mets Was The Gift That Keeps On Giving Fri, 21 Nov 2014 02:51:34 +0000 tron carlos beltran

Paul Casella of Sports on Earth analyzed 15 years of data and ranked the top producing $100+ million dollar deals in baseball history. Coming in second was the seven year deal Carlos Beltran signed with the Mets in 2005. Casella considered every deal since 1999 when Kevin Brown became the first player to land a $100 million contract. Alex Rodriguez’ first 10-year mega deal with the Texas Rangers came in first.

2. Carlos Beltran, Mets (2005-11)
Contract details: Seven years, $119 million
Total/Projected WAR: 32.3
WAR/million: 0.27

Beltran was traded to the Giants during the final year of this deal, but that didn’t stop the Mets from getting their money’s worth. Not only did Beltran put up a .280/.369/.500 line to go with 149 home runs over his six and a half seasons with the Mets, but the return in that eventual trade was 2009 first-round pick Zack Wheeler.

In just his second year of the seven-year deal, Beltran racked up 41 homers and 116 RBIs, while helping the Mets come within a game of the 2006 World Series. He then exceeded 100 RBIs in each of the next two seasons, as well. That production is still paying off to this day as it ultimately helped the Mets bring in Wheeler, an integral part of the Mets’ highly-regarded starting rotation.

Always good to read something like this – it keeps the haters in check… Beltran was my favorite Met during his time with the team. It’s a shame he was so under-appreciated.


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Don’t Sell Michael Cuddyer’s Impact Short Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:30:17 +0000 Michael-Cuddyer-Colorado-Rockies

Before we go any further let’s be clear, I like the Michael Cuddyer signing. Some of you may raise an eyebrow because I recently wrote a piece about the correlation between spending, value and performance, however, we need to consider this particular signing in the context of the 2015 Mets.

I’ve been following Cuddyer since he came up with the Twins. He’s always been one of these more than the sum of his parts type guys. He struck me initially as being very well coached and his approach at the plate was refined. He was another in a long line of young productive players churned out by an outstanding Twins player development program.

He was sort of a third baseman back then but he ended up splitting his time all over the place — 3B, 2B, 1B, OF and DH. Over the course of his career, he has spent the most time in the outfield where he sports a .986 fielding percentage. He also has a -15.6 defensive WAR, not the greatest. He seems to get decent jumps and he can handle what he gets to but his range is an issue. Over the past five seasons Cuddyer is next to last in UZR for right fielders.

You also have to factor in the value of the number 15 pick in next year’s draft which is probably somewhere between 10 and 15 million. That pushes the real cost of the Cuddyer contract north of $30 million (a conservative estimate). Cuddy will be 36 before opening day and he only played 49 games last year … there’s that as well. Wait, did I say I liked the Cuddyer signing? I did didn’t I … hmm.

The thing about Cuddyer is he always seems to be in the middle of things offensively.  He has a lifetime .813 OPS, a .347 OBP and a 114 OPS+.

He also has six seasons of 235 or more total bases and five years of 80 or more RBI. Those are some pretty decent figures folks, so there is definitely an argument for this guy … but wait, there’s more.

Since signing Cuddyer, there’s been a lot of talk about park factors and home/away splits, well, consider that from 2005 to 2011, Cuddyer batted .292 at home (at the Metrodome mind you, which most consider a pitcher’s park in it’s later years) and .250 on the road before he arrived to Coors. He has always performed much better at home, and lets face it, couldn’t the Mets use someone like that?

Not counting 2014, Cuddyer averaged 32 doubles a season from 2009 to 2013 — that’s five straight seasons of 30+ doubles (three of them in Minnesota). Since the beginning of 2013 he also has a wRC+ of 142.  He’s got 1,366 hits over his last 10 seasons, and 732 hits over that same recent five year stretch.

He’s getting better as he gets older. You may scoff and point out he spent two thirds of his season on the DL last year, but lets look at the one third he did play. In 49 games he had 63 hits, 32 runs, 15 doubles, 10 home runs, a .579 SLG, and a .955 OPS. Extrapolated over a whole season those are MVP numbers. He’s the kind of player that can carry a team. During one game last September, he had a three hit, one homer, two double, seven RBI game.

If you ask me, there is no argument … Cuddyer is in the midst of a phenomenal six year stretch and over the past year and a half he has been putting up MVP numbers. It reminds me a little of Chipper Jones the way he seemed to get better and better as he got older, eventually wearing down from injuries that in no way seemed to impact his hyper-refined ability to hit. When he played, he was incredibly dangerous.

Most would say we overpaid for Cuddy, especially if you look at his career stats and tack on any kind of dollar value to the draft pick … but when you look at his last six seasons it’s not quite the overpay you’d think. Cuddyer right now (and by right now I mean as recently as last September) is playing at an extremely high level. He’s one of these guys whose intellect and experience appear to be enhancing his approach and making him remarkably productive in spite of his age

If, and it is a HUGE, tremendous, gargantuan if, he can stay on the field. Is it worth the risk? No doubt about it. We have a shot in 2015 if we can muster even a minimal uptick in offense … If Cuddyer can keep himself relatively healthy he will almost single-handedly give us that.

Oh, one other thing, Cuddy has a .338 batting average over the course of six series in the playoffs, including a .348 batting average in the ALCS.


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Mad Money, Bad Returns, Sad Outcomes Sat, 08 Nov 2014 18:37:37 +0000 adam laroche

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

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

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

Confusing isn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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

jay bruce

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Importance Of Securing An Elite Catcher Mon, 06 Oct 2014 14:00:12 +0000 johnny bench

Scarcity: the state of being scarce or in short supply. Scarcity is when you don’t have enough of something you really need, like clean socks and pomegranates – there never seem to be enough pomegranates around when you need them. Pomegranates are a damned delicious fruit … especially if you don’t mind seeds stuck in your teeth.

Anyway, if you are like me and you have just won your MMO Fantasy Baseball League (obligatory fist-pump), you are all about scarcity. There are lots of ways to get production from the outfield — productive outfielders are like the apples of the baseball world. If you shake a stick at a baseball tree a .900 OPS outfielder falls out. Guys like J.D. Martinez and Steve Pearce put out top-tier production for extended stretches at a bargain rate in 2014 and there always seem to be a bunch of hot hitting outfielders that come up late in the season. No, if you want to separate yourself from the competition you’ve got to get production from positions not typically known for offense, you need to find that rare scrumptious Saskatoon blueberry!

Catcher, shortstop, second base and center Field.

When Sandy Alderson and his brainy triumvirate undertook a Mets rebuilding phase in 2010, one of the critical areas they looked at was catcher. They held to the notion that elite catchers in baseball are like great drummers in the rock world – you can’t have a super-group without a great drummer — and you can’t have a playoff team without an outstanding backstop. When you look across the league at the distribution of elite catchers over the past 20 seasons, they seem to appear with inordinate frequency on playoff teams. From Joe Mauer, to Buster Posey, to Yadier Molina, to Victor Martinez, and (more recently) Salvador Perez, an argument can be made that perhaps more than any other position, securing an elite catcher may have the biggest impact on a team’s fortunes.

Now if you want to set the bar high, look no further than Johnny Bench. The Reds’ hall of Fame catcher was like the John Bonham of catchers, no one even came close.  Johnny Bench, who was also the backbone of one of the greatest baseball dynasties in the modern era. And it wasn’t just his offense, he was a tremendous presence defensively. You got the feeling that it would be hard NOT to win with a guy like this on your team.

gary carter out at home

Gary Carter was another example of a player who seemed to direct his teams to the win column by sheer force of will … but an odd thing happens when you look at their production, particularly in terms of WAR. Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench for that matter, don’t rank as high as you’d think. Per Dave Fleming of Bill James Online, Bench’s 5.6/162 WAR ranks most closely with guys like Dick Allen, Larry Walker, and Scott Rolen … All good players but not the earth-shakers in whose elite company you’d expect to see someone like Bench.

And what about Gary Carter? A guy who dominated his position and whose unbelievably positive influence propelled the Mets over the top and right into the history books. He averaged 5.9 WAR from 1977 to 1987, which is certainly good, but it isn’t “elite” good when you look across positions. Carter did have three elite type seasons from 1982 to 1984 where he averaged 7.4 WAR, but when you look at his numbers it does appear that he was already in decline by the time he got to the Mets. What we know of The Kid bears this out – he was famously banged up in 86 but he iced and ace-bandaged himself onto the field and willed his team to victory night after night. His influence on the field remains impossible to quantify; he simply did not allow the Mets to lose. The fact that his decline also coincided with several close-but-not-quite seasons after 1986 should not go unnoticed. The Mets were not quite the same without Gary Carter at the top of his game.

WAR is clearly flawed when it comes to elite catchers. It fails to accurately measure the effect of Gary Carter’s incessant positive coaxing directed at his pitchers, his fearsome competitiveness, his unbelievable energy and interminable tenacity. The fact that It took six years for the BBWAA to vote Gary Carter into the Hall of Fame may unfortunately speak to this numbers bias. Personally I don’t know of anyone who watched Gary Carter play in the early 80′s who wouldn’t consider him a first ballot Hall of Famer. Mike Piazza, another elite Met catcher, has yet to be elected in spite of his career 5.4/162 WAR and gaudy power numbers (or, sadly, perhaps because of them).

The problem with WAR, as Fleming pointed out, becomes apparent not when comparing catchers to catchers, but when comparing catchers to other position players. It’s just not a fair comparison, it’s like saying grapefruits are better than pears because they keep longer and don’t bruise … Catchers have, by far, the most bruising job on the field not to mention the shortest average career span (around five and a half years), A catcher’s production should be looked at through the lens of that hardship if you will — it is precious in a sense because it comes from such a uniquely challenging and unlikely source.

The take away? Elite catchers can improve your team’s chances in a big way, but their performance continues to be maddeningly difficult to assess, with particular caution against comparing production from the catcher’s position to that of other positions. Larry Walker and Scott Rolen were good players, but I would never in a million years put them in the same company as Johnny Bench.

New York Mets v Minnesota Twins

More recently many teams (the Mets and Yankees most prominently) have taken to using extensive statistics on pitch framing. Our very own Travis d’Arnaud, who has been called, among other things, a butcher behind the plate because of his poor throwing and numerous passed balls, nevertheless put together a 1.6 WAR season mostly on the merits of his hitting. Is that accurate? I don’t think so. WAR paints a very narrow picture for catchers, and the absence of pitch framing from these value appraisals is certainly one reason.

Stat Corner ranks TDA as 14th in MLB at the art of pitch framing. The Mets apparently have been meticulously working on improving pitch framing organizationally, (you can read more hereand they appear to have manufactured a good one in d’Arnaud.

Travis has a knack for snatching borderline pitches (especially low balls) back into the strike zone in one fluid twist of the wrist, getting more called strikes on these offerings than just about anyone I can think of in recent memory. Also, among qualified catchers in the second half, d’Arnaud ranks fourth in ISO, tied for fourth in home runs, fifth in wRC+ and sixth in wOBA. Added to his offense and the possibility that his throwing issues were injury related, Travis d’Arnaud may be an elite catcher in the making, if (and that’s a big “if” for any catcher) he can stay on the field.

Between Kevin Plawecki and d’Arnaud the odds are pretty good that we’re going to have decent production from our catchers over the next few seasons. This should, at least in theory, significantly bolster our playoff hopes given the relative scarcity of this type of production. It shouldn’t be lost on us that Gary Carter’s final few elite seasons coincided with a run that bagged us our last world championship.

Met management has done well to fortify our catching ranks with a couple of extremely talented athletes and I very much doubt they will trade either of them … it’s all about supply and demand. Plawecki and d’Arnaud should continue playing for the Mets until two questions can be answered: 1. Can d’Arnaud be counted on to stay on the field? And 2. Will Plawecki’s eye popping numbers translate to the majors? Until then, trading one of two potentially elite difference makers is just too much of a risk.

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Di-JEST: The MMO Chat You Missed Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:26:25 +0000 This MMO Chat isn't loading for me...

This MMO Chat isn’t loading for me…

OK.  Truth be told you didn’t miss this Mets Merized chat on account of the fact that it never happened.  Here’s the back-story.

I’m a sucker for online chats and read them at MLB Trade Rumors, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and wherever else I stumble upon them.   I don’t know why I bother since I rarely find more than 10% of the questions and answers interesting or useful.  But once you’re hooked, your hooked.  Sort of like being a Mets fan.

The reason I don’t do a real chat is two-fold.  One is that I’m not all that technologically advanced and probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it.  I’m the guy with the cell phone that has a crank on its side so I can call Mabel and ask her to connect me with Andy or Barney at the sheriff’s station.

And the other reason, a bigger one I suppose, is that I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as those guys who do the real live chats.  These guys can tell you who the 11th rated prospect is for the Royals and what his chances are of cracking the major league roster.  Me, I think I know that Josh Satin plays for Las Vegas – end of knowledge.

Another thing about those chat hosts is that it seems they all are expert in some other area too. For half of them it’s their ability to tell you what craft beer to order in any particular county in this country.

My beer knowledge consists of liking Samuel Adams and a few others. And I do know that my son likes Yuengling – but in the BOTTLE, not the can (won’t make that mistake again).

So my chats stay on topic for that reason.

Given all that, here’s the chat transcript you missed.

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Philadelphia Beans:  You’re always so hard on Terry Collins.  What is the thing that most bothers you about him?

LS: I suppose it’s that he plays too many Young guys (Chris and Eric) and too many old guys (Bobby Abreu).  I’d prefer to see Chris released, Eric confined to pinch-running mostly, and Abreu restricted to pinch-hitting.  Let Soupy Campbell share LF with Captain Kirk and let Flores, Murphy, and Duda share 1B and 2B.

Ted Pontiff:  Clearly Ruben Tejada is a bad hitter but exactly how bad is he?

LS: Let’s give him this – he’s not the worst.  My scale of awfulness begins with Rey Ordonez, the ABSOLUTE ZERO of offensive effectiveness.  In Rey Rey’s illustrious career he batted .246 and had an OPS of exactly 600 (remember readers I use the Bill James method and toss out the decimal point when I discuss on base + slugging percentage).  His career WAR (wins over replacement) is a ridiculously puny +1.2 and almost all of that is due to his defensive prowess.

Ruben has a career batting average of .255 with an OPS of 644.  44 points of OPS is not monumental but it is more than trivial. He already has logged a WAR of 3.8.

So bottom line is that Ruben is a poor hitter and really should be a team’s utility infielder.  But he’s not the bottom of the barrel.

My Name Is Earl:  In Washington they do the Presidents race and in Milwaukee it’s the sausages.  What kind of race can the Mets do to entertain the fans?

LS:  Certainly not a pennant race….

But let’s try this.  We’ll have Mr. Met, a person dressed as a large apple, the Statue of Liberty, and someone impersonating Jeff Wilpon all racing towards a  dollar sign that’s placed at the finish line.  (Come to think of it, to save money maybe Jeff will do the running himself)

Strato Buddy:  What was your reaction when the Mets came back dramatically in the 9th inning on Friday to win?

LS: I think this sums it up nicely:

Bucky Dentine:  When the Mets don’t make the playoffs (you know – most every year) what team do you pull for?

LS:  There are other teams?   Who knew?

Not Really Sandy Alderson:   Should I be trading Murphy and/or Colon?

LS: Listen NRSA, questions like that are silly since we fans have no knowledge of what players are being offered for our guys.  I don’t think any Met should be ruled untouchable – if the Angels want to offer Mike Trout for David Wright + Matt Harvey (or Syndegaard or friggen anyone else) I’m down with that.

I really like Daniel Murphy and would hate to see him go but knowing that Flores, Matt Reynolds, Dilson Herrera, and Mazzilli are coming on strong makes it more palatable to trade Murph IF the return is particularly promising.

Bartolo would be easier to deal but hopefully he can bring back someone to upgrade LF or SS.  If all that is offered is another minor league arm then hold on to the guy and have someone teach him to bunt.

SNY Viewer:  You’ve always been extremely complimentary towards the broadcast team of Gary, Keith, Ron, and the soon to be departed Kevin Burkhardt.  Surely there’s something about them that ticks you off.

LS: You got me.  There’s just one thing.  It drives me nuts that none of them ever describe a player as “hot” but rather that they all use the term “red hot” exclusively.

I know that’s not a biggie but I always felt there were degrees of hotness.  For example, if Ruben Tejada has three hits, all singles, in his last 10 at bats, I’d say he is “hot”.  If he has four hits in his last 10 and one of them accidentally is a double, then OK he’s “red hot.”

If Chris Young is one for his last five – “hot”.

If he’s one for his last five and has two loud fouls – ok, “red hot.”

Depressed Mets Fan:  With the commissioner retiring how might this affect the Mets?

LS: Good question.  I’ve always suspected that Papa Fred Wilpon had a stash of incriminating photos of Bud Selig doing kinky stuff with Suzyn Waldman in the Yankees’ radio booth.  What else could explain why the commish would let a big market team run such a barebones operation?

Hopefully the next commissioner won’t feel so beholden to the Wilpons.  Perhaps he prods them to spend more on their team and less on the real estate market.  One can hope.

Skeptic:  So you say you’ve been a Mets fan since their inception in 1962.  Who are your favorite players and least favorite?

LS:  Check out this table for a semi-pleasant walk down memory lane.


(click on the graphic to embiggen it)  

Stratogist: Where do you stand on the question of bunting?

LS:  I’m not a big advocate of sacrifice bunting.  What does puzzle me is why Terry Collins will have a good hitting pitcher like Jake deGrom give up an out with a bunt in order to bring up a pansy hitter like Eric Young Jr.  Hell, I’d rather see Tejada bunting to bring up deGrom!

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LS: Sorry folks that’s all the time I have. Got to wrap up this chat.   I have to go check on eBay to see if anyone’s bid yet on that Brad Emaus jersey I’m auctioning off.  Damn, thought that kid was going to make it.

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Collins Preaches Patience For d’Arnaud, Ojeda Disagrees And Says He’s Lost Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:26:50 +0000 Bronx, Baseball, MLB, New York Yankees, Mets, Yankee Stadium, Subway Series

“He has no idea what he’s doing up there. He has no idea what pitch is coming, where it’s going, and what he’s going to do with it. D’Arnaud is lost.”

That’s what Bobby Ojeda had to say after d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 on Thursday night. Ojeda ran video and criticized d’Arnaud’s approach and the uppercut in his swing.

“This was a guy who used to square up on the ball and spray line drives to all fields. Now look at him, he’s lost. His zone recognition is lost. D’Arnaud is not hitting an unlucky .186, he’s earning that .186.”

Terry Collins cautioned after the game that d’Arnaud needs to continue developing. ”You have to be patient with young players like him and allow him to develop at this level.”

Ojeda vehemently disagreed. “I respectfully disagree with Terry, players don’t develop in the major leagues they do that in the minors. He should know what he’s doing up there and at the most basic level, he hasn’t a clue.”

“He has a world of potential and it’s not being realized because he’s being allowed to have one bad at-bat after another. He needs to go back to Triple-A and find his swing again. That’s why you are seeing all these swings out of the zone. He’s lost.”     

June 5

I can’t even begin to count the number of emails, comments and questions I get every week from Mets fans regarding outfielder Chris Young. But running a close second is Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

The sentiments range anywhere from bewilderment to frustration to out and out anger.

“I’m going to throw a brick at my TV the next time I hear how great he frames pitches.”

“Where the **** is all the power this guy was supposed to have?”

“He’s 25 and he still has no clue how to hit at this level?”

“If  d’Arnaud is supposed to represent our future, we’re in big trouble.”

Regarding d’Arnaud’s defense, one reader pointed out the following in an email:

TDA has the worst defensive WAR among all catchers in the majors, both qualified and unqualified, at -0.4.

TDA ranks 26th in the majors with a 3.87 Catchers ERA which is also behind teammates Anthony Recker (3.29) and Juan Centeno (3.57).

TDA has allowed 15 stolen bases and his .211 caught-stealing percentage ranks 26th in the majors and far behind teammate Anthony Recker (.500) who is third best in MLB.

Look, I get it… d’Arnaud is floundering right now, both offensively and defensively, but hear me out…

Back in April, I expressed my frustration at d’Arnaud batting so low in the batting order – seventh back then, and relegated to batting eighth now. I wrote that d’Arnaud was being setup to fail in my opinion, and I was pretty angry about it.

I’ve gotten to see more of d’Arnaud since then, and have also digested the countless opinions about him from analysts, scouts, coaches and evaluators. Same as you. We’ve all heard what’s being said by all the talking heads on SNY, many of whom have already pulled the plug on him and suggest a swift demotion to the minors. Many of those folks were the same tools screaming to send Wheeler back to Vegas two weeks ago. Sorry, but again I have to disagree.

We have far too much invested in this kid to just toss our hands in the air and say I give up. If there was somebody who I felt was an improvement and was major league ready and could step right in, then maybe I would feel differently. But Kevin Plawecki, who I love, is closest and still a year away.

It would be in the organization’s best interest to stay the course.   

Quite frankly, I wish that Terry Collins took more of an interest in trying to get our top hitting prospects going rather than wasting excess breath and at-bats on aging veterans or players nobody would consider a part of our future.

I wish Collins would show some inclination toward taking different measures and approaches to developing prospects like d’Arnaud, and I have to throw in Wilmer Flores as well.

But developing players and building a longterm future for this team ranks very low on Terry’s totem pole right now as he’s busy chasing down his 90 win pipe dream. The hell with a future filled with sustainable success, I’ve gotta beat the Cubs tonight…

Are there red flags with d’Arnaud? Of course, but many a great catcher developed late in their careers and had similar concerns. It’s all part of the curve. 

I still would like to see what d’Arnaud can do if he were batting second. Yes, we have Daniel Murphy there now, but one, will Murph still be here next season? And two, couldn’t he be just as successful batting fifth or sixth?

I want to see what d’Arnaud can do if pitchers actually had to – you know – pitch to him. We really haven’t seen that yet.


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