Author Archive

One Mission Accomplished

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

In honor of pitchers and catchers reporting, I will subscribe to the notion of spring optimism, for the failures of the winter have been exhausted and beaten to death. We all understand that this was a brutal off-season where the Mets didn’t accomplish many of their goals, inferred or stated. I will focus instead on one major objective that the organization did manage to achieve, and in my estimation, with great efficacy: assembling a potent club in Buffalo.

In the first of a two-year player development contract with the Mets, the 2009 Bisons were an International League worst 56-87. The league’s third best starting rotation (38.1 pitching runs above average according to StatCorner) was sullied by a most hideous roster of position players comprised primarily of journeymen, some with Major League experience and most too old to have any upside. Only Fernando Martinez, and to a lesser extent, Nick Evans were considered prospects. Once Martinez was summoned for big league duty (before falling to injury) and Evans was exiled to Port St. Lucie after a bad slump, the cupboard was bare. The likes of Jesus Feliciano (.339), Cory Sullivan (.336) and Argenis Reyes (.336) led the team in wOBA, Javier Valentin (Jose’s hefty brother) saw time at third base, Mike Lamb received 466 plate appearances and Chip Ambres led the team with twelve home runs.

A major reason why the 2009 Mets spiraled out of control was the inability to build a competitive team in Buffalo. When Beltran, Reyes and Delgado hit the deck, there were few candidates from the Triple-A club who could fill-in suitably. It’s not that New York should’ve had players of that quality in the minor leagues, nobody does (well, except maybe the Rays); it’s that nobody in Buffalo had useful skills. Players like Cory Sullivan don’t do anything particularly well – they’re average or below across the board.

This season, however, Bisons fans will see evidence of a wholesale makeover. In addition to the return of Martinez and the promotion of prospects Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, the organization made a host of minor transactions acquiring a group of useful players ticketed for Triple A. This roster will undoubtedly be better equipped to support their parent club, while providing the city of Buffalo with some entertaining baseball.


Infielder | Russ Adams

This former first round pick is a left-handed hitter with a patient, contact-oriented approach. He brings versatility to a franchise in dire need of middle infield depth. Though he lacks the range to play SS regularly, Adams could be used there in spot duty for the Mets should Alex Cora get injured. Russ and his .278/.354/.404 career minor league slash line ostensibly replace Argenis Reyes (.281/.331/.349) in Buffalo.

3B | Shawn Bowman

A Canadian with a sterling glove at third base, Bowman’s promotion is something of achievement in and of itself. Chronic back troubles limited the right-handed hitter to 125 games played between 2005 and the first half of 2008 (he’s remained relatively healthy since). Bowman is not likely to be much better than average (more than likely below) with the bat due to poor plate discipline and average power. Possessing good range and arm (he’s pitched in 30 minor league games), perhaps the Mets could use him in the same vein as the Jack Hannahan of the Mariners – a rangy reserve 2B/3B/SS, who’s not a complete sinkhole offensively. There’s value in such players, but in the meantime, he’ll be an asset to the ground-ball inducing Buffalo pitching rotation.

Hitter | Chris Carter

A career minor league slash line of .306/.380/.510 and no defensive ability, Chris Carter is your generic Quad-A player, who’ll entertain the crowd by hitting ropes all around the ballpark. He can hang in against left-handed pitchers, so expect him to be a staple in the potent Bisons lineup at first base, left field or designated hitter. Carter’s hitting prowess is something the Mets could use should Daniel Murphy turn out to be an offensive sinkhole and Ike Davis struggle adjusting to Triple-A pitching. He’ll work hard to get his defense comfortably below average.
Catcher | Chris Coste

Coste’s career .325 Major League wOBA is higher than the other catchers in camp, which in typical Mets fashion, places him fourth on the depth chart. He’s ticketed to Buffalo to mentor Josh Thole and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The veteran can teach the young catcher a thing or two about blocking balls in the dirt
Outfielder / 1B | Nick Evans

The Blue & Orange love affair with “Nasty” Nick Evans isn’t without merit. He was the 2008 Mets Minor League Player of the Year (co-winner with Daniel Murphy) and is a legitimate lefty-killer. The Mets soured on him due to 87 miserable plate appearances for last year’s Bisons, which is semi-chronicled here. Nick would be best served and optimally used in left or right field, where he has some defensive chops.

Utility Outfielder / Infielder | Mike Hessman

The former 2007 International League MVP owns a three true outcomes hitting profile (.229/.312/.454 career MiLB) that the Mets organization typically undervalues. He’s a four corners guy with a good defensive reputation (especially at third base) and middle infield experience, and can help the Bisons in a multitude of ways. He’s virtually a poor man’s version of Fernando Tatis, substituting contact for defensive acumen.

Center Field | Jason Pridie

Pridie, claimed off waivers to the chagrin of Dave Cameron, is a poor hitter, but an excellent defensive center fielder (+44 Total Zone in AAA). He’s fifth outfielder insurance, but will more than likely become Eric Niesen’s best friend.

Old hands / Bench Players | Andy Green, Jesus Feliciano, Val Pascucci (see Tedquarters.net for write-up, altar), Mike Cervenak, Jolbert Cabrera, Shawn Riggans

Nothing for Nothing Doesn’t Mean Nothing

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

When “Mets to Acquire Gary Matthews Jr.” pops up in your Twitter timeline, you begin to fear the worst. Thoughts collide and doomsday scenarios materialize: Mets trade something of value; Mets take on a chunk of the contract; Mets sign him to an extension with a vesting option. Using those alternatives as a basis for comparison, Brian Stokes for Gary Matthews and $21 million in salary relief seems like a good deal.
 
But it isn’t. And constantly having to judge a transaction in light of the worst possible outcome is probably the most pathetic part of cheering for this poorly run organization. The heart of the matter is that the Mets are going to devote a roster spot, perhaps over the next two seasons, to a replacement-level player. Where it would’ve been prudent to sign one of the available free agent outfielders, who in this depressed market, will be fortunate to get much more than the salary owed to Matthews, the Mets will instead settle for a two million dollar paperweight.
 
As Chris stated earlier, “Sarge Lite” neither hits nor fields well, rendering the notion of “Beltran insurance” laughable. Sadly, he was likely targeted because the front office views him as a center fielder. That is, Minaya and company probably popped in MLB The Show 2010, saw “#24 Matthews Jr., CF” and decided that it was more preferable than “#2 Winn, RF” and “#9 Johnson, OF”.
 
Tony Reagins and the Angels organization deserve kudos for recognizing a sunk cost and dealing with it swiftly. Hopefully, the Mets learned something here and will use the same tact to deal Luis Castillo immediately.
 
I somehow doubt it though.

Filling in the Gaps

Friday, January 8th, 2010

The 2010 Mets believe in comebacks. The additions of Jason Bay, Kelvin Escobar and Ryota Igarashi work to that end, but in order to truly support this aphoristic ad campaign, the front office must fill in the gaps.

The team is set at five positions in the field: Bay, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Jeff Francoeur all project to start at their respective positions; Alex Cora, Angel Pagan and Henry Blanco have guaranteed bench spots;  Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine will be in the rotation; Francisco Rodriguez, Sean Green, Pedro Feliciano, Bobby Parnell, Igarashi and Escobar will be in the ‘pen.

Assuming the club carries the usual thirteen position players and twelve pitchers, there are six or seven roster slots open and/or in need of an upgrade: catcher, first base, second base, starting pitcher (or two depending on Niese) and two bench spots.

Catcher
I’m bored of making fun of Bengie Molina, especially when others have done it better. Molina and low free agent Rod Barajas are not good hitters. In fact, Chris Coste’s .325 career wOBA is compares favorable to the free agent pair, plus there’s reason to believe he is better than both defensively. The team’s current payroll is ~$123M with another $3M or so in obligations due to the rest of the 40-man roster. Assuming the team caps spending at last season’s $150M mark, there’s a $24M budget to address those roster spots. There’s no reason to allocate resources here, unless it involves trading Luis Castillo for Chris Snyder. Any combination of Coste, Blanco or Santos should be good enough to provide slightly below-to-average production.

First and Second Base

It’s possible that the Mets turn to internal options, namely Daniel Murphy and Luis Castillo, to fill the right side of the infield. This is the worst-case scenario, but one that’s become increasingly likely as the off-season’s developed. Castillo’s dime-sized range is a major liability and his lack of positional flexibility makes him nearly impossible to carry on National League bench. His absolute upside is one-and-a-half wins above replacement, with a reasonable projection closer to a win. Murphy’s a rangy fielder, probably better suited for a more difficult position — yes, I think he should still be used in the outfield — but his averageish bat doesn’t play as an everyday first baseman. Murphy, conservatively, is about a one win player.

The team must move Castillo, regardless of the cost. There’s a number of available second baseman on the market (Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez and to a lesser extent Adam Kennedy) and the team cannot eschew the opportunity to upgrade the position.  At minimum, Hudson and Lopez would add a full win over Castillo. More importantly, all three players are significantly better fielders than Luis, allowing the Mets to leverage defense to improve their pitching.
The rumored Mike Lowell for Castillo deal would work on multiple fronts. It would rid the team of Castillo and a $6M obligation next season. Lowell, a right-handed hitter and once excellent third baseman, could be platooned with Murphy at first base to minimize much of Murphy’s potential downside (i.e. issues with left-handers, continued BB rate erosion). Lowell is only marginally better than Murphy at this point in his career, but he’s much more of a known quantity. Should this trade not materialize, and many media sources have shot it down, Omar Minaya must look to unload a heavily subsidized Luis Castillo on any team willing to listen. If that fails, eat the entire contract.

The Mets have shown varying degrees of interest in first basemen Carlos Delgado and Russell Branyan this offseason. It’s obvious the team prefers Delgado, but both players represent an offensive upgrade over Murphy and neither necessitates a platoon. Unfortunately, the injury risk attached to both players is significant. Another option is right-handed hitting Ryan Garko, who sports a career .887 OPS vs. left handed pitchers. If all else fails, the team can bring him in to platoon with Murphy. Be it injury, age or talent level, these alternatives only stand to add a half win to one full win at first base.  The goal is to raise the production “floor” under the auspices of budget constraints.

Starting Pitcher

Improved defense at second base, the return of Jose Reyes to shortstop, Beltran’s knee condition and Bay’s below average defense should shift the focus to ground ball pitchers. This seems counter-intuitive, with Citi Field’s cavernous reputation, but given the pitching market and the players currently on the roster, it just makes a lot of sense. The best (healthy) free agents available – Joel Piniero (48.6% ground ball rate since 2002), John Smoltz (45.9%) and Doug Davis (44.6%) — are ground-ballers. Signing Joel Piniero to a backloaded three year contract with a vesting option would be Omar Minaya move of choice. He wouldn’t necessarily be wrong; clearly, Piniero offers the best combination of effectiveness and durability. Should contract negotiations prove difficult, the Mets should move toward signing the tandem of Smoltz and Davis. Such a move would bolster the rotation’s depth, protecting the team from the volatile and injury prone Perez and Maine and allow the team to take things slow with a rehabbing Jon Niese. Either alternative stands to add three wins to the pitching staff.

Bench

Given that the Mets most significant liabilities are in the outfield – Beltran’s knee, Bay’s defense, Jeff Francoeur – adding a reserve outfielder to pair with Angel Pagan would be the best use of the the final roster spot.  If Murphy platoons with Lowell or Garko, this player should bat left-handed/switch to compliment Francoeur’s right-handedness and play well defensively to replace Jason Bay late in games. Randy Winn (switch hitter, +17 UZR/150 last two seasons), Gabe Gross (left handed, +16 career UZR/150) and Endy Chavez on one-year deals would all fit the bill.

In the event of Delgado at first base, Murphy should move into a bench role, giving the team a left handed hitting reserve player. To balance the left-handed bench, the team would need a right-handed, defensive oriented outfielder. Reed Johnson is a good left fielder (+23 career UZR/150) and has an .841 career OPS vs. left handed pitchers. For a creative solution, Eric Byrnes’s .857 career OPS vs. lefties and +6 OF UZR/150 is an ideal match. Castillo for Snyder/Byrnes saves Arizona over $10M in contract obligations (perhaps more if there’s cash included) and fills a few holes for the Mets.

If deployed correctly, any of these players could add as much as a full win to the team. I’m looking at you, Jerry Manuel.

Conclusion

The Mets as currently constituted are about an 84-85 win team. Adding three wins to the pitching staff, a win and a half to second base, one-half win to first base and a full win to the bench would catapult this team over 90 projected wins, well within striking distance of the division and a favorite for a wild card berth.

Berman: Jason “Flushing” Bay

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The Mets finally did something substantive, if what Mike Francesa’s slinging on WFAN is correct. They’ve come to an agreement with Jason Bay, which should be announced next week. Mike didn’t give any contract specifics, ok, but you would have to figure it’s in the ballpark of the $65M offer the team submitted earlier this month.

Given the Mets habit of bidding against themselves, let’s call this a four year, $68M contract agreement. Assuming the value of a win on the open market is between $4M and $4.5M, Bay would have to be worth about 4 wins above replacement per season to make this a fair deal for the Mets. This is no certainty considering his poor defense in left field, though the magnitude is very much up for debate.

Bay hit for a .397 wOBA with the Red Sox last season. That ranked him sixth among all American League hitters. While we should never lose sight of defense and positional scarcity, you can’t deny that this is one of the very best hitters in baseball. At 32 (next season), he’s past his physical peak, but young enough to be nearly as productive.

Is this the most efficient use of resources by the Mets?  Definitely not given the many holes on the roster yet to be filled; but the team has added a legitimately good player to their mix.

A Different Course of Action

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Clint Everts

Clint Everts hopes to do right by the man who drafted him.

Japanese right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi may be close to a deal with the New York Mets, depending on when you last checked your Twitter timeline.  Even if he decides to sign with the Red Sox instead, I’d have to classify the team’s pursuit of Igarashi as a success. It’s a indicative of a shift in philosophy the Mets have made toward building a bullpen.

Last year, Omar Minaya, haunted by an inflammable bullpen, placed a premium on relief pitching. He signed Francisco Rodriguez to a three-year, $37.5 million dollar contract and traded a haul of useful players for the right to pay J.J. Putz five million dollars. Neither deal really worked out, despite what the team would have you believe about K-Rod’s 2009 season.  This year, instead of targeting other team’s closers or high priced middle relief flotsam, the Mets appear to be pursuing other alternatives to improve the ‘pen.

Minor League Free Agency: Last week, the team signed 25-year old Clint Everts, former 2002 first round draft pick of Omar Minaya in Montreal. He pitched to a 2.97 FIP in just less than 60 A+/AA/AAA innings for the Nationals organization. He’s shown the ability to induce ground balls and generate strikeouts against both left and right handed hitters.  He has a bit of a control problem, especially against left handed hitters, but his strengths would suit him well in a bullpen role. Of course, this is all contingent on his ability to handle major league hitters, but you have to like this signing.

Japan: Ted Berg wrote a little bit about Ryota Igarashi here. He throws hard, strikes people out, has an assortment of pitches and is pretty wild. Again, strikeouts are the key here and paramount to successful relief pitching. Taking a flier on the Japanese Fernando Rodney for $2M-$3M is much more palatable than signing the real one to a market rate contract.

Reclamation Project: An ace in his own right behind John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar was a lynchpin of the Angels pitching staff from 2004-2007. Sidelined for virtually two seasons due to shoulder surgery, Escobar wants to return in a relief role and that shouldn’t be a problem. Escobar closed for the Blue Jays as 21-year old rookie in 1997 and later in 2002. While it’s doubtful that he’ll strike out a batter an inning again, a return to his pre-injury level of 7.00 K/9 complimented by respectable walk and ground ball rates and no significant platoon split, Kelvim would make a fine high-leverage bullpen option.

While none of these players are any guarantee to contribute positively to the Mets in 2010 (and at this time, only one is even signed), I come away impressed with the team’s willingness to target relatively cheap bullpen options with legitimate upside. Pitchers like Brandon Lyon and Latroy Hawkins have signed multi-year, multi-million dollar deals because they have the “experience” and they’ve “pitched in big spots” despite mediocre results. Their output can be matched or bested easily and inexpensively using the tact the Mets appear to be employing. I’m not sure if this is a case of budgetary restriction or the team finally learning their lesson, but I’m at least encouraged by this development.

Corey Hart for John Maine

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Sinusitis, you cheat me of sleep. Joel Sherman, you separate me from sanity.

Will put up links in morning, but learned #Mets talking to #Brewers about Maine-Corey Hart swap, also with #Rangers about Millwood.


Contrary to much of the nonsense reported yesterday, this Maine-Hart rumor is completely plausible: both are non-tender candidates; the Brewers are looking for pitching; the Mets are looking for outfielders; and Rick Peterson is the pitching coach of the Brewers.  It’s a perfect match.

If nothing else, a Corey Hart acquisition would be consistent with Omar Minaya’s affinity for bad corner outfielders. Hart posted a 4.4 WAR campaign in 2007 on the strength of career highs in BABIP and HR/FB ratio in conjunction with a total +7  center field and right field UZR in small sample sizes (232 innings in CF, 864 innings in RF). As those rates regressed and Corey settled in as the full-time Brewers right fielder, his value plummeted, accruing a measley 1.6 WAR in 2008 and 2009 combined.

I expect many to react to this potential trade thusly: “Maine is always injured and Corey Hart is an All-Star. Good deal for the Mets.” That line of thinking would be wrong. Both will command similar salaries in arbitration and they’re each two full years removed from their last good seasons. Though Maine’s shoulder issues may preclude him from pitching more than 140 innings, he’s likely to outperform a healthy Corey Hart (Maine 2008-2009: 2 WAR). Should his right shoulder fatigue, Maine can be moved to the bullpen or the disabled list for optimal roster performance. There’s no such way to “hide” Corey Hart.

Below average plate discipline, decent power and bad defense at a non-premium position make for a largely unappealing package. He’s Jeff Francoeur 2, a marginal corner outfielder with similar offensive skills, pushed into a starting role to diminishing returns. I fully expect Omar Minaya to be blinded by Hart’s 2008 All-Star Game appearance (ironically he won the final fan vote over David Wright) and back-to-back 20 home run seasons. If only Minaya could swing this deal and the Bengie Molina signing concurrently: “Whenever you have the opportunity to add 40 home runs to your lineup, you’ve got to do it, youknowwhatImsaying?”

The Great Eight of 1998; The Terrific Ten of 2010?

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Not only have the Mets decided to dip into the catcher’s market, they’ve decided to swim in it.

Last night, Henry Blanco was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million dollar contract. Blanco is the second catcher acquired this week, joining the newly-minted Chris Coste. The tandem joins Omir Santos and Josh Thole on the catching depth chart, which will almost assuredly be captained by Bengie Molina. That’ll make five catchers with Major League experience all with a chance of playing with the big league club next season.

While pondering our new found catching surplus, my mind wandered back to a time of a richer plenitude. It was 1998. Todd Hundley was slated to be the starting catcher, but off-season elbow surgery sidelined him, eventually forcing him into the outfield. This thrust a career journeyman, Tim Spehr, into the opening day lineup.  Spehr alternated catching duties with Albert Castillo for the first few weeks. Unhappy with their performance, the team called up Jim Tatum and traded for Rick Wilkins. Unsurprisingly, both failed to distinguish themselves and the Mets completed a blockbuster deal for Mike Piazza. Jorge Fabergas and later Todd Pratt would serve as the Piazza’s primary back up. In September of that year, Bobby Valentine mercifully ended Todd Hundley’s stint in left field and started him behind the plate for a couple of games, completing  the catching circle.

In total, eight different catchers started games. This is how they fared:

  Age G GS Inn PB WP SB CS CS%
Mike Piazza 29 99 99 845.1 5 18 74 28 27%
Alberto Castillo 28 35 28 245.2 1 4 13 15 54%
Tim Spehr 31 21 15 147.0 1 6 12 7 37%
Todd Pratt 31 16 8 90.2 2 0 5 4 44%
Jorge Fabregas 28 12 5 63.1 0 6 8 3 27%
Rick Wilkins 31 4 4 34.0 0 2 3 1 25%
Todd Hundley 29 2 2 18.0 0 4 1 2 67%
Jim Tatum 30 4 1 14.0 0 0 1 4 80%
Team Total   162 162 1458.0 9 40 117 64 35%

So, can we get to ten in 2010?  It’s certainly possible. We have our aforementioned five, plus Robinson Cancel always seems to be in the picture — recent release be damned.

Raul Casanova? Gustavo (not related to Bengie, Jose or Yadier) Molina? How about dusting off Mike DiFelice?

Vance Wilson is a free agent. What’s Jason Phillips doing? You know, Phillips had a .373 on-base percentage his rookie season…

Where Omar Minaya Hides the Wins

Friday, November 27th, 2009

During my bitchfest earlier in the week, I compared the corner outfielders from the best teams in the National League to the hypothetical tandem of Jose Guillen and Jeff Francoeur. While that pairing is highly unlikely, a similarly lackluster combination isn’t out of the question for the 2010 Mets. A look at the corner outfield production (Table 1) over the last five seasons highlights a key failure of Omar Minaya’s tenure.


Table 1

Year

Pos

sOPS+

UZR

2005

LF

106

-2.4

RF

108

-13.1

2006

LF

81

1.8

RF

99

-7

2007

LF

104

0.1

RF

81

-10.4

2008

LF

87

13.6

RF

94

10.6

2009

LF

99

-6.3

RF

92

-6.4

sOPS+ is the adjusted OPS of Mets players relative to left and right fielders throughout baseball (sOPS+ > 100 is above average; sOPS+ < 100 is below average).  UZR represents the cumulative Ultimate Zone Rating of all players manning each COF position.

Table 2

Year

Player

PA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS+

2005

Cliff Floyd

626

34

.273

.358

.505

126

2005

Mike Cameron

343

12

.273

.342

.477

114

2005

Victor Diaz

313

12

.257

.329

.468

108

2006

Cliff Floyd

376

11

.244

.324

.407

88

2006

Endy Chavez

390

4

.306

.348

.431

101

2007

Moises Alou

360

13

.341

.392

.524

137

2007

Shawn Green

490

10

.291

.352

.431

103

2008

Ryan Church

359

14

.276

.346

.439

106

2008

Fernando Tatis

306

11

.297

.369

.484

123

2009

Jeff Francoeur

308

10

.311

.338

.498

120

It’s as simple as this: most teams have corner outfielders that hit. The Mets, under Omar Minaya, haven’t had left and right fielders that could hit or field well relative to their positions. Only once — and just barely — were they able to get above average output from both production components (2007 in left field). Rarely has one quality been sufficient enough to satisfy a deficiency in the other. For example, the defense in 2008 was truly an asset, but the hitting, especially in left field, wasn’t enough to make the end product a good one.

The Mets had a number of players man left and right field on a semi-regular basis, thus Table 2 is limited to players accruing 300+ plate appearances in a season. When you consider that a 145 game starter collects approximately 600 plate appearances in a season, the lack of playing time accrued by the Mets corner outfielders is startling. Only two corner outfielders in five seasons reached the 400 plate appearance plateau.

The most obvious reason for the dearth of playing time and lack of production among regulars is injury. Mike Cameron (off-season surgery, sick collision), Cliff Floyd (achillies and various ailments), Moises Alou (age, fragility) and Ryan Church (concussions) all missed significant playing time recovering from their respective ailments.  The second and most instructive explanation for this pattern is poor planning and rationale.

2005: Omar inherited Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron, two established outfielders with multi-year contracts. Undeterred by prior commitments, Minaya signed Carlos Beltran, forcing Cameron to RF, but yielding a good outfield in the process. Kudos to Omar, even though it didn’t work out as planned.
2006: Under budget constraints, Minaya gave Cameron away for thoroughly mediocre replacement Xavier Nady. He trusted that Floyd would return to his 2005 form, despite playing through nagging injuries throughout the previous season.
2007: He expected two players well past their prime — Moises Alou and Shawn Green — to adequately hold the fort in the outfield corners. Alou was fantastic in limited duty; Green was completely atrocious.
2008: Inexplicably, the team retained Alou for left field and by their own admission, didn’t expect him to play more than 100 games. Angel Pagan, a player at the time time without an established level of production, was counted on to fill in for Alou. Ryan Church was expected to start in right field, despite only one full season in the majors and a platoon problem with no suitable right-handed compliment on the roster. (Tatis wouldn’t come along until May.)
2009: The Mets penciled in Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church as their starting corner outfielders, a duo that combined for less than 500 PA’s in 2008.

So why is Omar Minaya’s planning so flawed?  If past interviews with Mike Francesa are any indicator, at least part of the reason is the presence of Carlos Beltran. On more than one occasion, Omar Minaya explained that the team could handle less “power production” from left and right field because Beltran was such an outstanding hitter. Such a belief is fine, so long as your corner outfielders are producing suitably in other quantifiable ways, otherwise you’re squandering the advantage of having a great hitter at a premium position.  Unfortunately, Omar’s train of thought here lends us a closer look at his myopia in action. It’s as if there are finite levels of production in his mind that are not to be exceeded: “Power at 100%, must add grission, must add veteran.”  I mean, how else can one rationalize all of those games started by Shawn Green in the 2007 season?

No News Is Bad News, All News Is Bad News

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Words can’t adequately express the abysmal feeling of impending doom within me when considering the Mets potential off-season transactions.  A look at some recent news stories reveals why.

Milwaukee Brewers claim George Kottaras off waivers from the Boston Red Sox

Kottaras is a 26-year old catcher with a career .269/.367/.444 minor league slash line. He passed through American League waivers and made onto the National League wire. The Mets, with one of the worst records in baseball, had waiver priority over the Milwaukee Brewers. THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU DON’T CLAIM GEORGE KOTTARAS. The team’s 40-man roster is at 36. Do you need those four spots? Cut Pat Misch, Tim Redding, Arturo Lopez or Cory Sullivan.  They’re a dime a dozen.

The Mets don’t have a viable major league catcher on the roster.  The catching depth in the upper minors behind Josh Thole is thin. Free agent catchers Yorvit Torrealba, Rod Barajas and Bengie Molina are less than desirable. The Brewers needed a catcher and sought an opportunity to upgrade their roster for free, while the Mets were consumed with trotting Wally Backman around New York City.

Also victimized by Omar Minaya’s disdain for false hustle was Adam Bostick. He became a six-year minor league free agent last week. Did I mention Pat Misch still has a job?  Toby Hyde discusses more roster senselessness here.

Omar Minaya plans to scout Carlos Delgado’s rehab in Puerto Rico

There’s nothing wrong with showing Delgado a little courtesy by paying lip service to the idea of retaining him, but to actually consider it is bordering on lunacy. As a matter of fact, it is lunacy. How else would you classify an utter refusal to learn from your past mistakes?

Delgado was with the Mets for four seasons. While two of them were quite good, the other two were completely savaged by injury. The Mets should understand the risk in relying on Delgado intimately. More importantly, Delgado will be 38 in 2010. In the recent past, the Mets have relied on aged veterans Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Billy Wagner and Moises Alou only to watch entire seasons blow up in their face because of it.

The Mets are looking to bring back Alex Cora.

Ted Berg broached the topic fabulously. So did Fire Jerry Manuel. And Joe Janish did as well.

Simply put, Alex Cora isn’t good. At this point, he plays shortstop like Luis Castillo plays second base.  He can’t hit — he’s never been able to — and he’s 34 years old. All told, the total package worth $400,000 on the open market cost the team two million dollars last season.

In related news, all-time, all-world defensive shortstop Omar Vizquel signed a one million dollar contract with the Chicago White Sox.

 Jose Guillen.

The shear absurdity of this rumor was thoroughly panned by good friend James Kannengieser at Amazin Avenue. 

There’s not much to add, except this: Adam Rubin, regardless of what anyone thinks of him, generally has good information. The idea of Guillen even being discussed within the organization is an indictment of this team’s decision making process.

Next season, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez will man the corner outfield positions for the Philadelphia Phillies; Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier for the Los Angeles Dodgers; Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez for the Colorado Rockies. Try saying “Jose Guillen and Jeff Francoeur” in the same breath without laughing.

And the Mets would fancy themselves a contender too.

Bengie NO-lina

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

There’s this ‘idear’ floating around that Bengie Molina is a good player. Adam Rubin and Joel Sherman have indicated that the Mets believe it and have made him a target. Let me break up this brainstorming session with a HELL NO.

Clean Up “Hitting” Catcher

After Barry Bonds’ “retirement”, the Giants installed Bengie as their clean-up hitter for the 2008 (133 games) and 2009 (116) seasons.  He brought average power, managing ISO’s of .153 and .177. Over his three seasons in San Francisco, he posted .266/.308/.418 slash line. At the surface, this is offense you can live with from the catching position. 

But, man, that plate discipline – it’s atrocious.  His career walk rate is 4%, yielding a .308 on-base percentage. Molina’s detailed swing profile (courtesy of FanGraphs) unearths a more troubling trend:

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