Building A Contender: How Far Away Are We?

I recently made a joke in the comments to a piece that Brandon Butler did about what our priorities should be in the offseason after settling the Reyes Issue which will be front and center. I thought I should expand on what I said and show the facts to justify my opinion. Basically I said the offseason focus should be:

1 – Pitching
2 – More Pitching
3 – Even More Pitching
4 – While you’re at it better get Pitching
5 – Then look for Pitching!

There is a lot of truth in what is said in jest…

Let’s start off by comparing our regular players to those of the Phillies.

1B – Ike Davis (.302 BA, .543 Slg .383 OBP) vs Ryan Howard (.249 BA, .429 SLG, .343 OBP)

Ryan Howard hit a HR once for every 16.3 ABs Ike Davis hit one for every 18.4 Abs But Davis hit .302 and Howard hit .249 so Ike was way more valuable than Howard when niether hit a HR! And Davis is probably capable of hitting AS many while keeping that average if he stayed healthy all season and played in the summer months where the ball goes out easier! Add the superior fielding of Ike over Howard and it’s Advantage Mets

2B – Murphy (.320 BA, .448 SLG, .362 OBP) vs Utley (.263 BA, .443 SLG, .343 OBP)

Utley is a superior fielder no doubt with a .991 FP at 2B. Murphy at 2B has a .978. Is it really such a bad tradeoff to give up -.02 in fielding for +.057 in BA, +.005 in SLG and +.019 in OBP especially when you consider the fact that this was Murphy’s first year playing 2B? I will give the edge to Utley here but it’s so slim when you consider the whole player that it’s almost non existent! Only question is will Murphy actually play 2B next year?

SS – Reyes (.331 BA, .481 SLG, .376 OBP) vs Rollins (.268 BA, .395 SLG, .343 OBP)

Not much to say other than the fact that the Phillies are probably going to make an offer for Reyes which will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about this match-up. Advantage CLEARLY METS!

3B – Wright (.263 BA, .448 SLG, .353 OBP) vs Polanco (.281 BA, .345 SLG, .340 OBP)

We give up only .018 BA to get +.105 in SLG. And this in a year where you can hardly call a banner year for Wright with his missed time that coincides with his historical best months of June and July! Polanco has a .975 FP compared to Wrights .927 but that 100 points of SLG clearly outweigh that! Advantage again CLEARLY Mets!

C – Thole (.263 BA, .343 SLG, .345 OBP) vs Ruiz (.278 BA, .381 SLG, .370 OBP)

Thole and Ruiz have the same exact FP. Ruiz Gave up 70 SBs with 22 CS and Thole 61 SB with 15 CS. Not a big difference when you consider our pitching staff’s poor ability to hold runners! Still I’ll give the edge to Ruiz here!

Now the picture changes a bit towards the Phillies mostly due to SLG

RF – Duda (.292 BA, .480 SLG, .365 OBP) vs Pence (.315 BA, .545 SLG, .386 OBP)

No contest here really but consider Mayberry (.269 BA, .521 SLG, .332 OBP) was their guy before they went and got Pence to replace him. They already had a 10 game lead with Mayberry. Advantage Phillies

CF – Pagan (.261 BA, .375 SLG, .319 OBP) vs Victorino (.289 BA, .508 SLG, .367 OBP)

Nothing to discuss here Victorino and the Phillies are the CLEAR winner here!

LF – Bay (.246 BA, .375 SLG, .329 OBP) vs Brown (.246 BA, .393 SLG, .335 OBP) and Ibanez (.243 BA, .423 SLG, .290 OBP)

Hmm pretty similar with the exception of SLG which has been the deciding factor in all of the OF positions and we will address now… Look at those SLG numbers that determined the main advantage of the Phillies over us in the OF.

A simple look at Park Factors tells the story…

Compare those numbers between the bandbox they play in and Citi Field… Is it any wonder why their hitters have such a great SLG compared to ours?

CBP is CLEARLY a Hitter’s park which explains why they need to buy and steal all the best pitching money can buy to win ballgames. So how many of those advantages on offense were merely a product of the park they play in?

Probably ALL of them… Especially when you consider we have some players like Davis, Murphy, Reyes and Wright who are better in those areas despite playing in Citi Field. Put them on the Phillies and they would actually be offensive upgrades over more than half of the Phillies lineup.

So what makes the Phillies so much better than us?

It’s all about the PITCHING!

I don’t think I need to show stats here to state what is obvious, Phillies have the best pitching money can buy and need it to keep the scores within reason at the home bandbox which also helps them win games away when the pitching does not need to be so stingy. And if we could match that pitching somewhat, the park factors would compensate and make the comparable pitching look even better than what the Phillies have. None of our pitchers matchup with the Phillies battery of starters and only RA Dickey actually comes close to matching them on the QS column, but that is simply not enough.

Their starters are stifling, go deep into games (saving and resting their Bullpen) and thier bullpen has two or three guys who could be front line closers on other teams in the league, especially us. But we have some kids in the Minors who could change all of that soon. Harvey probably being the first, Familia and Mejia next followed by Wheeler. That’s 4/5ths of a starting rotation.

Dickey is no Ace (3.35 ERA), but he is every bit comparable to Oswalt (3.66 ERA) who is a FA this winter. Maybe he bests Dickey in our Pitcher’s park, but he won’t leave there to come here anyway so get that thought out of your head.

Niese had a poor year but could rebound if he can take the next step up in his development. Gee started strong, but they figured him out, He needs to adjust. Santana is a big question mark at this point, but not a useless arm by any stretch of the imagination. I say make him the closer, but that’s just me.

Pelfrey’s contract is up and might not be worth tendering an offer in arbitration. Capuano is good for five innings a game and Young is pretty much in the same boat as Santana only a couple of months behind.

The bullpen is just horrible and it must be rebuilt, but if we can hold out long enough with the players we have and some improvement from the starters it might just hold the line long enough for those kids I mentioned to come up and add that young potential ace pitching we don’t have but the Phillies do!. If that happens then we will have quite a few guys who we can bump to or trade for Bullpen. And since the budget will be in order even after Reyes’ signing we will have the money to go after good FA pitching when it is available.

We have a ton of other prospects available as trade bait or to fill bench depth either as bench themselves or as replacements for current starters who would then comprise our bench. No less than 5 players who can play 2B, SS and/or 3B – Three of those have proved the ability to hit at this level. Two or Three who can play 1B as well, One them was in the race for the batting title. We have quite a few OF prospects who can replace Pagan and Bay if we let them go provided they show the ability to stay healthy and hit in the MLB.

All in All this team is probably in the best position it has been in over 25 years while some make the claim it is the worst!

They make that claim because it fits the implementation of their philosophy to claim it or they merely look at the GB column and not the comparable player by player comparison. When they DO compare they use the grass is greener bias to judge both without taking into account the park factors or actual performance.

This team could be a dominant team but it probably won’t happen next year. And in order to dominate you have to be in a position to do what the Phillies did and go and buy what you need when your close enough to need it. That means buying tickets and cheering for the players when your there! Never forget the affect of the 10th Player…YOU!

The one comparison that is difficult to make between the two teams is that fighting spirit! The Mets showed that this summer for the first in years and it is that fighting spirit that puts the Phillies into position to do what they are doing now… Luring top pitching to come and play for them!

The last thing this team needs is a major shakeup in the regular lineup. It’s really all about our lack of pitching in a pitchers ballpark! Minor moves will be made but the infield is one of the best hitting IFs in the league!

We don’t need CY YOUNG on the mound every day the way the Phillies do, But we do need some pitching that can look like Cy Young when they pitch in our Pitcher’s ballpark! So Pitching Pitching and More Pitching should be our focus and plan going forward.

As I’ve shown, our regular position players match up quite well with the Phillies despite the park factors the Phillies have in their favor. If we merely match up our Pitching to theirs the NL East will be not be dominated by them. And the Braves (who we just took 2 of 3 from) will wind up chasing US for the Wildcard even as soon as next year.

This team has FIGHT now, and that’s as important as BA, OBP and SLG when it comes to winning games because it’s easier to win a game 2-1 than it is to win one 10-9.

All it takes is the Pitching and a team that NEVER QUITS!

This Fan Shot was submitted by Metsie.

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