Archive for the ‘Omar Minaya’ Category

The Minaya Years – 2005 Outfield

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Now that Omar Minaya is officially out as the Mets’ GM, this is no longer a pre-post-mortem, but a mere post-mortem on the career of Omar Minaya and the job he did as Mets GM.  What were his strengths, what were his weaknesses, and what were his patterns, and how can the next GM improve upon his performance.  Let’s take a look at the first outfield he constructed, the 2005 Mets starting outfield.

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The Minaya Years: 2005 Bullpen

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Part two of our look at Omar Minaya’s various teams will look at the 2005 Mets relief corps.  In case you missed yesterday’s post, this is an objective look at the various moves made by Omar Minaya to try to find what we can learn from his moves, both good and bad.  I started with the 2005 starting rotation, now I am going to take a look at Omar’s first bullpen as the general manager of the Mets.

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The Minaya Years: 2005 Starting Pitching

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

With Omar Minaya’s days as general manager numbered, I thought now would be as good a time as any to try to take an objective look at the various Mets teams he has assembled during his days as GM.  This isn’t another excuse to tear Minaya down, it’s a way to look at what he did, to identify his good moves and his mistakes, and how future Mets GMs may learn from them.  In order to give a thorough examination for every aspect of the teams he has built, I am going to be breaking each team into small parts, and from there piecing these small parts together until we have a big picture.  The first thing I am going to examine is Omar Minaya’s 2005 starting pitchers.

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Tangents

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I have no coherent thoughts about the team these days, so here is a collection of incoherent thoughts.

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Why is Gary Matthews Jr playing over Angel Pagan?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

I have made no secret of my dislike of the current Mets management team.  Omar Minaya and his front office did not make the necessary bright moves to make this team better for the upcoming season.  By giving an epic dumbass like Jerry Manuel so little help before the season starts, Omar is basically daring Jerry to make horrible decisions that result in poor results.  In order for Jerry to be good at his job, he needs stability; open competitions in spring training will almost guarantee that Jerry makes the worst possible decision that negatively affects the Mets’ short-term and long-term goals of playing meaningful games in September.  It’s like giving a monkey a gun; sure, you blame the monkey when he kills innocent bystanders, but the man who gave the monkey the gun deserves some blame too, right?

Much has been said about the Mets’ opening day lineup.  Here is a table of the top 10 worst position players in baseball last season by WAR, minimum 300 plate appearances:

Player WAR
Yuniesky Betancourt -2.2
Jose Guillen -1.9
Delmon Young -1.3
Aubrey Huff -1.0
Garrett Anderson -0.9
Gary Matthews Jr -0.8
Alfonso Soriano -0.7
Ronny Cedeno -0.6
Chris Davis -0.6
Mike Jacobs -0.6

Yes, two of the top ten worst players in baseball last year were players identified by Omar Minaya as players he should acquire to help bolster the 2010 New York Mets.  That’s pretty remarkable.  Even on a scouting level, I can’t imagine anybody watched Jacobs and Matthews last year and identified them as players worth acquiring, let alone starting, for the 2010 season.  Give Omar some sort anti-award for blatantly ignoring even the most basic of statistics and going with his gut and acquiring two of the very worst players in baseball from last season anyway.

It’s bad enough to acquire these guys; it’s another matter all together to be starting them over players who out-performed them last year.  Let’s focus on Gary Matthews Jr. for now, I’ll get to the Mike Jacobs/Chris Carter disaster another time.  Angel Pagan threw up a .306/.350/.487/.837 slash line last year, good for 2.8 WAR, or 3.7 more WAR than Gary Matthews Jr produced last season.  Is Pagan likely to repeat that sort of production?  Probably not, but he would have to regress pretty heavily to come close to being as bad as Matthews was last year.  Add in that he’s a younger player, and a much better defensive player, and the choice should be pretty obvious; Pagan should be starting, Matthews should be on the bench.

Yet after three games, Matthews has earned two starts and will likely earn more in the future.  The reasoning is stupid; Jerry believes Pagan is a top of the order player, and thus is utterly incapable of batting lower in the lineup when Alex Cora bats leadoff*.  Of course, Angel Pagan’s isolated slugging last year was .181, and Gary Matthews Jr’s was .111, and Pagan had two more homers, three more doubles, and eight more triples than Matthews last year, so I’m not really sure what Manuel’s point is here, other than “I don’t understand the game of baseball or how to identify a good player from a very, very bad one.”

* Which is crazy enough as it is; Cora’s career OBP is .313, his OBP last year was .320, and he’s not typically known as a fast player, so by any reasonable idea of what a leadoff hitter should be, Cora fails .

This problem figures to be worsened by the return of Jose Reyes in the lineup.  Reyes is, of course, a much, much, much better player than Alex Cora (who would rank 26th on that list above of “Worst Players in Baseball by WAR in 2009″), so overall, the lineup itself will be better.  But it will still be far from optimal, as Pagan will be sitting in favor of Matthews, with Reyes and Castillo holding down the top of the order.  Without an open position at the top of the lineup, Manuel will likely continue to sit Pagan, and the team will suffer for it.

This is why Jerry Manuel cannot be trusted to make any decisions.  This isn’t even a tough decision; Pagan was one of the Mets’ pleasant surprises last season, a player who by the end of the season, was one of the team’s most valuable position players.  Gary Matthews Jr was one of the worst players in all of baseball.  Yet Matthews has a name, and he was good enough at one point in his career to become grossly, grossly overpaid, and he made that one catch at an All Star Game, so he must be better than ordinary ol’ Angel Pagan!  It’s this type of decision-making, that starts at the front office level and permeates into the field manager level, that will doom Mets fans from seeing playoff calibre baseball in Queens as long as guys like Minaya and Manuel run the ballclub.

The Mets Didn’t Figure

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Carried away with Nelson Figueora’s background story and his desire to play for a team he rooted for, Mets fans and bloggers have been quick to overstate the impact of his DFA. Heath Bell 2.0, he’s not. Rather, Nelson is a fringe-average starter, who mixes an assortment of off-speed pitches with an 87 mile per hour fastball. Simply put a finesse pitcher who’s had more stops than the local ‘7’ train is hardly indispensable.

One could reasonably argue – though completely in vain – that Figueroa would be the third best pitcher on the Mets. Reality is that John Maine and Ollie Perez are making over $15 million this season to start games. Ryota Igarashi possesses a good splitter, Hisa Takahashi is left-handed and throws strikes and Fernando Nieve is younger and equipped with better stuff. The Mets preferring these pitchers is understandable, albeit a bit misguided.

What’s difficult to understand is how the Mets made it possible for Figueroa to go to a team they have designs on competing with – the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s clear that the Mets brain trust never intended to carry him on the 25-man roster, as evidenced by his inclusion in minor league spring games and various beat writer accounts throughout March. Management was content to place Nelson on waivers in hopes he’d slip through; however, his intentions were made clear: he would play in Japan before suffering another season in Buffalo.

So, why not attempt to deal him some place far away? With pitching attrition and uncertainty abound, Figueroa would’ve garnered interest from other clubs (he didn’t even make it out of NL waivers amidst roster crunch time). Hell, the Royals claimed Luis Mendoza and he’s barely AAA caliber.

This isn’t a replacement level pitcher. Figueroa’s average projection (see below) is a 4.45 FIP, which extrapolated over 150 innings, is worth 1.6 wins above replacement. Compare that with ~5.00 FIP projection for Phillies fifth starter  Jamie Moyer. Figgy supplanting Jamie Moyer would be a +1 win improvement (and +0.5 over Kyle Kendrick). In other words, Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel have done more to improve to Phillies than the Mets in 2010.

This brand of slipshod roster management is a patent of this regime. It’s the only intellectual property they own.

Nelson Figueroa IP FIP
2009 Season 70.1 4.31
2010 Bill James 53 4.42
2010 CHONE 155 4.38
2010 Marcel 83 4.47
2010 ZIPS 131.7 4.54
Average Projection   4.45
Jamie Moyer IP FIP
2009 Season 162 5.06
2010 Bill James 154 4.75
2010 CHONE 165 5.14
2010 Marcel 158 4.93
2010 ZIPS 173 4.98
Average Projection   4.95
Kyle Kendrick IP FIP
2009 Season 26.1 3.59
2010 Bill James 47 4.8
2010 CHONE 167 4.96
2010 Marcel 81 4.71
2010 ZIPS 173 4.82
Average Projection   4.77

Jerry Manuel’s short-term future should not outweigh the Mets’ long-term future

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In a word: desperation.  We are seeing it right now.  Both of them know that the Mets can’t have another year like they had last year, or else they are both gone.  At the same time, ownership did not give Minaya the keys to go out and drastically overspend on the free agent market.  In many ways, that was a good thing; it prevented the team from signing Bengie Molina, for one, and the team did not go crazy trading prospects for short-term solutions.  In many ways, it was also a bad thing; the starting rotation is perilously thin, and it led to the team bringing back Alex Cora as “the devil they know” rather than pursuing a better middle infield reserve like Felipe Lopez and Adam Everett, both of whom signed with teams for less money than the Mets will pay Cora.  It seems silly that the team would not pursue a better reserve shortstop with Jose Reyes coming off of injury, but that’s the New York Mets for you; such incompetence is sadly expected at this point, and will remain that way until Minaya and Manuel are gone.

Ironically, one area of the team where the Mets are not particularly undermanned is the bullpen.  Between Frankie, Feliciano, Igarashi, Calero, Parnell, Green, Nieve (assuming Niese wins the 5th starter job), Takahashi, and Figueroa, somewhere in there is a pretty good seven man bullpen.  They have enough internal candidates already to where a young, promising arm like Jenrry Mejia should only be concerned with going to Double-A (not even Triple-A) to master control of his secondary pitches, work on command, and keep stretched out as a starter to hopefully benefit the big league Mets, at the earliest, in the second half of 2011.

The middle infield is an area of a little bit more concern, though no thanks to the fools in charge.  Thanks to Alex Cora being retained as the middle infield reserve due to his great leadership abilities, (another good reason to fire Manuel; they value his leadership so little that they employ a player to help lead the team) the team doesn’t have a backup shortstop that they actually trust to start everyday should their starter, the great Jose Reyes, find himself injured.  Considering that Reyes was coming off of a severe hamstring injury in 2009, you would think that they would make it a priority to have a middle infield reserve that they trust should he miss time.  As it turns out, the hamstring isn’t a problem, but Reyes is suffering from a thyroid condition that will keep him out of action for the first month or two of the season. 

Since the team doesn’t actually trust Alex Cora, 20 year old prospect Ruben Tejada now seems likely to make the team.  While Tejada will almost surely be a huge defensive improvement over Alex Cora at shortstop, he will give a lot of that improvement back with his inability to handle major league pitching.  This is a guy who is only a year removed from a .229/.293/.296 line in Single-A, and while that may be an improvement over some of the reserve shortstops we saw with Reyes out last year, that is still in no way major league-ready.  It would be nice to see Tejada master the International League before being promoted to the major leagues, just to make sure that 2009 wasn’t a BABIP-inflated fluke.

Yet because Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel need to save their jobs, they need a success story or two, to hide their many failures.  That is what Mejia and Tejada represent; a chance for them to show that the farm system is producing players, that they can work within the restrictions that the Wilpon family has put on them.  They have nothing to lose; if Mejia and Tejada succeed, Minaya and Manuel look like geniuses for a minute or two.  If they fail, hey, Minaya and Manuel are likely getting fired at some point before October of 2010 anyway, so what do they lose?

It’s not as grievous a mistake with Tejada as it is with Mejia.  At least with Tejada, we can assume his stay in the majors will be short, only long enough for Reyes to return from the disabled list, assuming Cora doesn’t suffer some grizzly thumb-related injury before that can happen.  Whenever Reyes is back from injury, Tejada will be sent back to Buffalo after finding himself completely and totally overmatched offensively in the majors, even if he represents a huge upgrade defensively from Cora.  It’s still an ill-advised decision, and proof that this team has absolutely no idea how to build organizational depth (Russ Adams is 4th on the organizational depth chart solely as a token ex-major leaguer to appease the Bisons front office, not because he’s somebody the major league team would ever consider bringing up), but somewhat justifiable.  Playing in the majors for 2-4 weeks shouldn’t hinder his development.

Bringing Mejia to the majors as a reliever this soon, however, that is borderline malpractice.  Mejia can probably hold his own for a little while in the majors.  He may even be preferable to keep around over players like Bobby Parnell or Sean Green.  I don’t need to go into too much detail as to why, as dozens have done so before me.  The key point is, Mejia’s ceiling is too high to waste in a role where he won’t be forced to work on his secondary offerings, and he should only be used in the bullpen when he proves completely incapable of becoming a starting pitcher.  We may not know what he will become, but limiting his ceiling this early in his development is the work of desperate men.

And that’s the problem with keeping Manuel and Minaya around when management has a pretty good idea that they probably aren’t long-term solutions for the role.  Much like Omar Minaya has proven unable to handle sunk costs like Luis Castillo, so too have the Wilpons shown an inability to handle sunk costs like Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya.  Clearly, by the restrictions Omar had in free agency this offseason, they don’t view him as a long-term solution, so limiting his ability to do long-term harm in free agency was a wise move.  But he can still do long-term harm without making a single move by being trusted with minor league promotions when, in reality, the progression of minor leaguers are only important to him if the team wins and he can retain his job. 

The problem is even worse with Manuel; he keeps pushing for the team to promote Mejia because if Mejia’s ETA isn’t until mid-2011 at the earliest, Mejia can’t help him if the team sucks again this year.  But he sees that electric fastball, which is definitely major league ready, and that he can get batters out in a relief role once or twice around the league.  Considering that the bullpen has remained an issue for this team dating back to before Manuel was even the manager, Manuel needs every advantage he can find to retain his job.  The problem has become that, in the case of Mejia, Manuel’s short-term job security should not outweigh Mejia’s long-term potential, without even factoring in how much better this team would be if Manuel did get fired.  Yet that seems to be what’s happening.

The outside forces, the same outside forces that told Omar Minaya “Thou shalt not offer Bengie Molina a two year contract” need to step in here.  They need to recognize that Mejia is not ready for the majors, and that he needs far more developmental time than he is being given.  They need to see that Minaya and Manuel are only promoting him in a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, that the team’s future outweighs theirs, and they need to put a halt to the overpromotion game.  Supposedly, Tony Bernazard’s firing meant the end of prospects being promoted well before they were ready, but clearly, that’s not the case.  The 2010 Mets are a team built on desperation, but for once, can they show some caution here?

The Mets never gave J.J. Putz a physical

Monday, February 1st, 2010

J.J. Putz signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Chicago White Sox this offseason.  His stint with the Mets will not go down as being particularly memorable.  He did not pitch particularly well when he was on the field, and spent the majority of the season on the disabled list.  It was speculated going back to late-April by Dave Cameron at Fangraphs that Putz did not look like himself, and pointed to evidence such as the loss of 2.5 MPH off of his fastball and a diminished strikeout rate.  When the Mets finally put Putz on the DL in June, I wrote:

[T]he team didn’t think then to investigate if Putz was truly injured, kept running him out there for a month, during which he gave the Mets several ineffective innings of relief, and only shut him down a few weeks ago for him to have surgery.  Dave Cameron is a baseball writer for a pretty good stats website; he is not a member of the Mets front office, and does not follow the team on a daily basis.  If he was able to figure out in late-April that something is wrong with JJ Putz, why did it take the team a full month for them to figure this out?

As it turns out, it didn’t take the Mets a full month to figure out that J.J. Putz was injured; they knew the entire time.  Putz gave an interview with Comcast Chicago that does not paint a pretty picture of the Mets’ front office.  The money quotes:

When the trade went down last year, I never really had a physical with the Mets. I had the bone spur (in the right elbow). It was discovered the previous year in Seattle, and it never got checked out by any other doctors until I got to spring training, and the spring training physical is kind of a formality. It was bugging me all through April, and in May I got an injection. It just got to the point where I couldn’t pitch. I couldn’t throw strikes, my velocity was way down…

…I knew that I wasn’t right. I wasn’t healthy. The toughest part was having to face the media and tell them that you feel fine, even though you know there’s something wrong and they don’t want you telling them that you’re banged up.

So according to the timeline being laid out here by Putz:

  • The Mariners’ doctors found a bone spur in Putz’s elbow during the 2008 season.
  • The Mets traded six players for J.J. Putz without conducting a physical of their own. I assume the Mets read the Mariners’ medical reports on Putz about the bone spur, though.
  • They checked out his elbow in spring training and discovered the bone spur for themselves.
  • They forced Putz to pitch through what I imagine is a very painful injury, while not allowing him to talk to the media about said injury.
  • Putz pitched terribly because, you know, having a healthy elbow is important to pitching.  In particular, his velocity and strikeouts were down.
  • Eventually, Putz went on the DL to have elbow surgery, never to pitch again for the Mets.  I cannot confirm this, but Omar Minaya probably called Putz a “pussy” afterwards.

I mean…in which of those steps do the Mets look good?  The part where they traded six players for Putz, Sean Green, and Jeremy Reed without making sure he was healthy?  The part where they discover the bone spur, make him pitch through it anyway, all while hiding it from the media?  The part where Omar Minaya called him a pussy?  OK, I made that up, but still, the other stuff is pretty bad.

There has been a lot said about the way the Mets’ medical staff handles injuries.  We got another glimpse of that a few weeks ago, with the Carlos Beltran debacle, and now J.J. Putz paints a pretty grim picture of the way this team handles injuries:  by sticking their fingers in their ears and pretending they didn’t happen.  This isn’t a total failure on the part of the medical staff; they have to share a pretty big part of the burden with the front office. 

The J.J. Putz trade and how it was handled is a fireable offense.  The Mets traded a good defensive outfielder, two relief pitchers of some value, a decent first base prospect (better than anything they will trot out at 1B in 2010, for sure), and two low-A minor leaguers, and all they currently have to show for it is one relief pitcher of some value, all because they never bothered to make sure the key part of the trade was healthy.  Hopefully this story gains some traction in the New York sports media and helps hasten the demise of Omar Minaya.  I’m disgusted with the way he is running this team, and it’s not getting any better.

At least the Royals have a process to trust

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

After the Kansas City Royals traded for Yuniesky Betancourt (a trade more baffling than the Mets’ trade for Gary Matthews Jr, because the Royals actually gave up something of value for Betancourt), Royals’ GM Dayton Moore implored his fans to “trust the process.”  The folks over at the Royals Review blog gave that a sound thrashing at the time, and it has since become something of a meme to laugh at the Royals and their “process,” which has since produced signings like Jason Kendall for two years.  I’m not exactly sure what their process is, but needless to say, Royals fans do not seem to trust it very much.

If you look at the Mets, though, I’d struggle to find out what kind of process they seem to be following this year.  If you look at the moves they have made, it appears they saw their needs for 2010 as follows:

  • Backup catcher
  • Left field
  • The bullpen

While there have been rumors connecting them to every free agent starter that has been on the market this year, so far they have yet to seal the deal with even one of them.  Every day, another decent starter comes off the market. Given the tenuous nature of the Mets’ starting staff, which currently features four starters who failed to pitch a complete 2009 season and Fernando Nieve slotted into the #5 slot, this has fans understandably wondering what the hell is going on.  In the cases of John Lackey, Joel Piniero, Ben Sheets, Jason Marquis, Jon Garland, and Doug Davis, where there has been smoke, there has been no fire.  It’s not that the Mets didn’t need Jason Bay, or couldn’t use a restructured bullpen, or even a better backup catcher, these were all good moves in a vacuum.  The problem is that these moves have come off somewhat uninspired after how bad the 2009 season ended.

Thus, the recent reports that have surfaced regarding the Mets’ front office philosophy this offseason really shouldn’t be that surprising to anybody who has been following the team.  Really, this goes back even to last season, when the team was unable to concentrate on fixing more than one thing at a time, first adding Frankie Rodriguez and JJ Putz, before turning to re-signing Oliver Perez for the rotation, which ended their offseason before finding a way to dump Luis Castillo or improve their corner outfielders.  This is a front office that seemingly does not know how to multi-task, which is especially worrisome considering that this team has had many, many problems since Carlos Beltran struck out to end the 2006 NLCS.

I’m not going to pretend to be an insider who knows what’s going on in the Mets’ front office.  Truthfully, I have no idea.  But as an outsider, as a fan following the team on a day to day basis, I can tell something is wrong.  Last year, they were at least 1-2 moves short of a complete offseason.  This season, they look to be in even worse shape, with subpar players slotted in at catcher, first base and second base, and a starting rotation that looks paper-thin without a minimum of two decent signings, in a market where there simply aren’t two decent starting pitchers available.  Even if they sign John Smoltz (and the Cardinals are currently the favorite), are we certain that a rotation of Santana/Smoltz/Pelfrey/Perez/Maine will stay healthy enough to keep Fernando Nieve or Nelson Figueroa from having to make too many starts?

There needs to be some sort of deep organizational change in philosophy.  When the geniuses in talent evaluation identify Jeff Francoeur and Gary Matthews Jr, two outfielders who had combined for -2.0 WAR in 2008 and -0.8 WAR in 2009, as two players this team needs to acquire, we can safely assume that advanced statistical metrics are not used by this front office.  They should be.  Advanced metrics shouldn’t replace scouting, but they can surely supplement scouting and make it better.  Their talent evaluation could definitely use some improvement, if their record of player acquisitions is any indication.  Signing Jason Bay for his defense, when his defense has ranked among the worst defensive players in baseball over the past three years is a sign that the team needs to look more closely at how they are evaluating talent and where they might be falling short.

They need to know when to make one big move, and when to make a bunch of smaller moves.  They need to know when to cut ties with a sunk cost if it means improving the team.  They need to know that when a player is injured, it does not benefit the team for that player to continue to play through that injury.  They need to know that what some people consider good pitching is actually good defense, and how to properly evaluate the difference between the two.  They need to know that the amateur draft is an opportunity to replenish their farm system and improve the team’s future, not an opportunity to kiss Bud Selig’s ass.  While this isn’t completely necessary, it would also be nice to have press conferences that don’t degenerate into he said/she said arguments that only make the team’s front office executives look worse, which considering the results this team has produced, is saying something.

Basically, they need to have a better process.  I’m not saying anything I haven’t said a million times before.  Whether it’s Omar Minaya, John Ricco, Jeff Wilpon, or somebody else running baseball operations, they need to have a better plan.  Whatever they’re doing now isn’t working and hasn’t worked, and the sooner they realize it, the sooner they can actually benefit from their resources advantage in the National League, rather than having 2-3 contending years sandwiched around some miserable ones.  It’s not an impossible goal, but until those in charge realize they’re operating within a broken system, Mets fans will continue to be frustrated at the team’s results, and the primes of Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Santana will continue to be wasted.

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?