Yes, I am doing the hackiest of hack ideas, the first half “grades” for each and every player. It will give me a chance to sort through the damage, and figure out exactly how we got to this point and if there is anything we can do about it (the answer: probably not, no). I will start with the hitters today and tackle the pitchers tomorrow. In order from A to F…
Carlos Beltran: A
He would have been the first half MVP had he not gotten hurt, and the sharp decline by the team since his injury just shows how valuable he’s been to this team. It’s hard to figure out what to make of his defense; Fangraphs shows a sharp decline, whereas Dewar’s +/- shows him having another terrific year. Either way, he is sorely missed by this ballclub.
David Wright: A-
His power is down a lot, and his defense continues to decline, but the .325/.410/.462/.872 line is still very good, and I think we’re going to see a bounceback in the power department in the second half, to where he should have about 20 homers by the time the season ends.
Luis Castillo: B-
His defense remains terrible, but he’s having a rebound season of sorts at the plate, thanks to some nice plate discipline and getting a bit more hit-lucky out there. He might legitimately have a case for being the team’s second best hitter right now, and if that’s not an indictment of the 2009 season, I’m not sure what is.
Gary Sheffield: B-
The good: a .283/.385/.478/.863 slash line, the only Met who can hit with any power. The bad: because he’s 41 years old, he can’t play in the field every day, which is absolutely a detriment when it comes to Sheffield, particularly considering the Mets available options in the outfield. The ugly: Sheffield’s defense, unquestionably the worst on the team.
Jose Reyes: B-
On one hand, this should probably be an incomplete, since he missed about half of the first half; on the other hand, he has more plate appearances than many of the players listed below, and has been more valuable than most of them even in half a season. His slash stats are below expectations, but still decent (.279/.355/.395/.750), with a nice uptick in walk rate offset by a decrease in slugging. It seems like in Reyes’ case, his absense has not made the hearts of Mets fans grow fonder, as every half-bit Mets blog and talk radio show out there has been formulating their own unintelligent Reyes trade, not realizing that without Reyes, this team has been worse, not better. My prediction: he returns by the first week of August and instantly provides a spark that this offense so desperately needs.
Carlos Delgado: B-
Similar to Reyes, he should probably be incomplete, but he also has more plate appearances than several players I’ve graded below. Before he went down, Delgado seemed to be one of the few players who could provide power to this lineup (he has the highest extra base hit percentage on the team of players who have played more than 2 games). His defense has remained shockingly decent as well. He’s another guy where if the Mets get him back soon enough, there’s reason to believe they can make a run. Of course, that’s a big if.
Brian Schneider: C+
Schneider is having a pretty quiet decent little season. He’s not hitting for average, but he’s drawing walks and hitting for extra bases at a much higher rate than one would expect from Brian Schneider. It might be a case of small sample size (he only has 99 plate appearances) but so far, I have very few complaings about Hoops; he has out-performed Omir Santos so far.
Omir Santos: C
Speak of the devil! This is pretty much Santos’ ceiling. No, the team should not have traded Ramon Castro to keep him, and yes, his struggle to OBP north of .300 is aggrivating, and he isn’t very good defensively either. But his .144 ISO slugging is pretty good for a catcher, so…hey, he’s got that going for him. That said, by season’s end, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this grade around a C- or lower, because he probably can’t maintain that power, and he still can’t get on base to save his life, and he’s still poor defensively. In the end, the Ramon Castro trade will go down as an utter disaster, yet it might only be the third worst trade Omar has made since the end of 2008.
Ryan Church: C
Trading Ryan Church was not a bad move in and of itself, since he has been a thoroughly average to slightly below average player in 2009. Trading him for Jeff Francoeur, who has been a thoroughly terrible player in 2009, however…that was a bad move. Also, Churchy’s numbers all look a little bit low compared how he has played traditionally, and figure to see a nice upward turn over the rest of the season, whereas Francoeur has been just as bad in 2009 as he was in 2008. Prediction: this trade is going to look completely ridiculous by the end of the season.
Alex Cora: C-
Cora is a nice backup, a strong complimentary player, who is completely in over his head as a regular. His defense at shortstop is terrible (-2.4 UZR) and his bat has significantly cooled off since a nice start (.246/.333/.305/.638). If he wasn’t so overexposed playing every day, I think he would be a lot better, but he already has more plate appearances this season than last, and should come close to his career high in that category if Jose Reyes doesn’t return soon.
Fernando Tatis: D+
The power looks like it’s slowly coming back, but that’s the best you can say about Tatis. He leads the team with 11 GIDP, despite not being a regular; any time Tatis comes to the plate with a runner on first and less than two outs, I hope desperately for a strikeout or a pop out. If Delgado or Beltran had not gotten hurt, or if Daniel Murphy had not been such a disaster this season, Tatis would be a prime candidate to get released right about now. Frankly, there’s still time.
Jeremy Reed: D-
His bat has not been much better than Endy Chavez’s (.292/.326/.360/.686), only he lacks Endy’s otherworldly range that I took for granted because of how much I hated watching him hit. In fact, he’s probably a below average fielder; his main qualification as a defensive replacement is that he’s better than (fill in the blank: Gary Sheffield, Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Fernando Tatis), which is not much of a qualification. More proof that the Mets got absolutely decimated in the JJ Putz trade (and I liked it at the time, so I don’t know what that says about me).
Daniel Murphy: F
But it’s not his fault; he should have been sent back down to Buffalo about a month ago. His fielding at first has been adequate, but he will never hit for enough power to be an every day first baseman. He needs to be playing the outfield regularly in the minor leagues to improve his defense (getting some reps at second base probably wouldn’t hurt, either). And his hitting…man, Daniel Murphy does not mean business with the bat this year. His slash lines are awful for a middle infielder (.248/.314/.364/.677) but are completely retched for an everyday first baseman/corner outfielder. He simply is not ready to be playing in the majors right now, and needs to be sent down, regardless of the ultra-thin depth at the major league level.
Fernando Martinez: F
He was probably called to the majors too soon, and it showed, but there were enough tantalizing glimpses of potential thrown in there to where he looks like he will be a keeper. He’s just not there yet (he is 20 years old, after all, and has been playing above his age at every level). Hopefully, he doesn’t get traded in a move that brings a thoroughly average or worst player back in return.
Ramon Castro, Angel Pagan, “Nasty” Nick Evans, Ramon Martinez, Wilson Valdez, Argenis Reyes, Emil Brown, Jeff Francoeur: Incomplete
None of these guys played long enough to warrant a grade. A quick snapshot of each:
- Castro would probably be ranked in the C+ range with the other catchers, and they received nothing of value for him.
- Pagan has played shockingly well in limited playing time, with a decent bat and a good glove. If he had played this well with more playing time, he would be looking at a B grade. I do not expect this to continue.
- Evans probably deserved more playing time than he received, I’d like to know what would happen if the team ever committed to him for any period of time. He probably belongs in the majors ahead of Tatis at this point.
- Ramon Martinez sucks.
- So does Wilson Valdez.
- Argenis Reyes, too. Can you believe these guys were some of our backup options in the middle infield?
- Emil Brown sucks too, but he’s an outfielder.
- Jeff Francoeur did not receive enough Mets at bats to qualify for a grade, but if I was grading him on his first half with the Braves, he’d be a solid F.
So to recap, this year’s Mets have:
- Two A’s (one of whom is currently hurt)
- Four B’s (two of whom are currently hurt)
- Four C’s (one of whom was traded for an F player)
- Two D’s (granted, these guys are both part time players)
- Two F’s (one of whom plays every day, both of whom probably do not belong in the major leagues right now)
- Eight incompletes (at least five of whom should have never played for a major league baseball team with pennant aspirations)
Three of the team’s six best hitters are out of the lineup, being replaced by a subgroup of C’s, D’s, F’s, and incompletes that would probably be C’s, D’s, or F’s with more playing time. That’s a huge reason why this team is so frickin’ terrible right now, borderline unwatchable. When Luis Castillo is one of your first half bright spots…that’s a sign from God that there is something seriously wrong with your baseball team. And I haven’t even started the pitching yet.