Carried away with Nelson Figueoraâ€™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, heâ€™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 whoâ€™s had more stops than the local â€˜7â€™ train is hardly indispensable.
One could reasonably argue â€“ 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.
Whatâ€™s difficult to understand is how the Mets made it possible for Figueroa to go to a team they have designs on competing with â€“ the Philadelphia Phillies. Itâ€™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 heâ€™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 wouldâ€™ve garnered interest from other clubs (he didnâ€™t even make it out of NL waivers amidst roster crunch time). Hell, the Royals claimed Luis Mendoza and heâ€™s barely AAA caliber.
This isnâ€™t a replacement level pitcher. Figueroaâ€™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 starterÂ 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. Itâ€™s the only intellectual property they own.
|2010 Bill James||53||4.42|
|2010 Bill James||154||4.75|
|2010 Bill James||47||4.8|