The Mets Didn’t Figure

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

2 Responses to “The Mets Didn’t Figure”

  1. hernandezhof says:

    Umm, maybe the Mets didn’t trade him because no one else wanted Figgy? Like he said, he has cleared waivers six other times with no takers, including last season. Why would anyone offer ANYTHING in return for a player they don’t want for free?
    Since the Phillies won the claim, and as league champs, this means that every other NL team passed on claiming Figgy. And the Phillies only want him for 2-3 weeks until one of their 3 DL’d pitchers come back.

  2. My point isn’t that they should’ve traded him for anything of value (or anything at all). It’s just a matter of controlling where he goes. I wouldn’t be criticizing them if they tried and failed, but it’s pretty clear that they didn’t even give it a thought.

    By the way, he cleared waivers in April of last year, no? After that, he pitched great in Buffalo and tossed 60+ major league innings.

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