Berman: Jason “Flushing” Bay

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.

Blue & Orange Hot Stove Huddle – A modest success!

December 17th, 2009

Thanks to all that were able to come out last night for Blue and Orange Hot Stove Huddle.  I had a great time meeting a lot of the bloggers I’ve read and respected over the years, and a good time was had by all.  The panels were all fun and interesting, and I can only hope that I wasn’t too incoherent while speaking during mine.  Next time, I will try to keep my Newcastle count under 5 before speaking.  Special thanks to Ken Davidoff for making it out and adding an air of legitimacy to the festivities, even as I was childishly calling out his colleagues for no good reason.

Please read and support all of the bloggers who were able to make it out last night, they are all excellent and should be part of your daily reading!  If they aren’t part of your RSS Reader, get them in there!

(OK, so the Iron Sheik wasn’t really there, but Will and I are trying very, very hard to get him for the next Blue and Orange get together.  Stay tuned!)

Extra special thanks to Will, first for putting this whole thing together, and then moderating and keeping the event going smoothly throughout the night.  In the wrong hands, something like this could have gotten out of control, as Mets fans and bloggers alike were trying to proactively drown their sorrows for what could be another disappointing season in 2010, but he kept things going quite well and knew when to tell the drunken idiots on the panel to move on.  Okay, so there was only one drunken idiot he was trying to get to move on, and it was me, but still, great job.  Here’s hoping we can do another one of these sometime in the future!

A Different Course of Action

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.

Blue and Orange Hot Stove Huddle!

December 14th, 2009

Date Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Venue: River
Address: 500 West 43rd St (at 10th Avenue) – New York, NY
Time: 7pm -10pm
Web Site: riverhellskitchen.com
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=211215271512&index=1

Will has put together a great panel of guests, which will include Ted Berg from TedQuarters.net, SNY.tv, and MetsBlog.com, James Kannengieser and Sam Page from Amazin Avenue, Joe Janish from Mets Today, and a host of others that I am probably forgetting.  It should be a good time.  There will be alcohol available, in order to drink yourselves to forget how bad 2009 truly was, and how bad 2010 will likely be.

About season ticket renewals and Jason Bay

December 14th, 2009

After a week where the Mets generally made little news at the Winter Meetings, to the degree that signing minor leaguer Mike Hessman actually became a notable Mets headline, Omar Minaya and company finally made a headline on the last day of the meetings when it was reported that the Mets had made an offer for free agent outfielder Jason Bay.  This being the Mets, where no move they make can be taken at face-value, it was immediately speculated by Joel Sherman and Craig Calcaterra, among others, that the Mets had made Bay an offer primarily because of lagging season ticket renewals, and a lack of buzz in general for a Mets team that, so far, had only signed a slew of backup catchers and no-skill utility players.

Read the rest of this entry »

Corey Hart for John Maine

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?

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…

Why the Mets will re-sign Carlos Delgado this offseason

December 3rd, 2009
Delgado in uniform playing...something we hoped for last season

Delgado in uniform playing...something we hoped for last season

Recently it was discussed by our beloved blogmaster what the Mets WILL do this offseason…not necessarily what they SHOULD do or what the common folk Mets fan want them to do. Sign Matt Holliday-check. Sign Bengie Molina-agreed. Sign Jason Marquis-right on (heck, he may even pay them). However, I tend to differ at the platooning of Daniel Murphy at first base with unknown player to be named later. As much as Mets fans would love to have Adrian Gonzalez here in a trade, its just not reasonable. The Mets WILL sign Carlos Delgado to a a 1 yr deal and here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »

Billy Wagner signs with the Braves

December 2nd, 2009
Billy Wagner, in happier days.

Billy Wagner, in happier days.

I won’t be the first to mention this, nor will I be the last, but the Billy Wagner situation just highlights the lack of foresight in the Mets front office.  Back in August, Wagner looked like a good bet to be worth Type A compensation in free agency, should he sign with another ballclub.  That means if Wagner signed with another team as a free agent, his former team would be entitled to a first round draft pick (or lower, depending on a number of factors) plus a compensation pick between the first and second rounds.  At the very least, the Mets would pick up a compensation pick for losing Wagner, which would make the blow of losing their second rounder by signing a Type A free agent (such as Matt Holliday) a little easier to take.

Instead, the Mets traded Wags to the Red Sox for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora.  At best, Carter projects to be a Daniel Murphy-type with maybe a little more power, a fringe-average regular with no real position.  He’s even left-handed, so they can’t platoon Carter with Murphy at first base.  As a 20 year old in the Rookie League, Eddie Lora did not distinguish himself in any way, and would seem to be an unlikely bet to ever play a single game in the major leagues.  They also saved $3.2 million, chump change for a New York based sports team.

In return for Carter, Lora, and $3.2 million, the Red Sox got Wagner for six weeks, where he produced an excellent (for such a short time period) 0.4 WAR, worth approximately $1.9 million in value to the Red Sox, and now two high draft picks.  In essence, the Red Sox spent $1.3 million to buy two draft picks, at least one of which should be in the top 50, and if the Braves fail to sign another Type A free agent, one of those picks would be in the top 20.  That would mean they could sign potentially two Type A free agents and still pick higher in the first and second rounds than they were originally scheduled, and that doesn’t even include receiving compensation if Jason Bay were to sign elsewhere.

These are the types of moves the Mets should be making.  They should be willing to take the risk of Wagner coming back if he accepted arbitration, which he wouldn’t have.  He made quite clear his desire to close next year, as he had tried to force the Red Sox to not offer him arbitration and wanted assurance that his option year would not be picked up by the Sox, as he did not want to set up for Jonathan Papelbon.  This was essentially two free picks, and for a team that is often criticized (sometimes unfairly) for ignoring their minor league system, the return value could have been huge for the team.

Instead, they settled for a little bit of payroll relief and two minor leaguers unlikely to ever become stars.  You can’t even compare the Mets to the Red Sox anymore, because the two teams are playing completely different games.  It’s situations like this that just so clearly demonstrate that teams like the Red Sox are playing chess while the Mets are playing peek-a-boo.

Catcher carousel

December 1st, 2009

A newspaper in Fargo, North Dakota reported yesterday that the Mets signed Chris Coste, with no promise of a major league job, but a promise of a 40 man roster spot.  Coste showed his appreciation for the Mets keeping his dream of playing major league baseball alive by crapping all over them and praising the team that released him last year, the team that happens to be the Mets’ top division rivals.  Classy.  I’d say welcome to New York, Chris, but the only place you’re likely to play in New York next year is Buffalo.  My only thoughts on the signing is that it leaves me feeling absolutely nothing.

Meanwhile, the Phillies signed Brian Schneider and the Rays traded for Kelly Shoppach.  I mention them only because Schneider is probably better than Coste, and would have been a fine backup catcher if the team did not believe that Omir Santos was capable of backing up whomever they intend to sign at some point, and having a logjam of catchers in Buffalo next year when Josh Thole should be playing every day makes little sense.  I hope it’s a sign that the Mets aren’t interested in signing Bengie Molina, but since I have no reason to trust this front office, I’m still pretty worried they’re going to sign him and his one baseball skill to a bad contract.  I’d rather have a collection of backups like Coste and Blanco playing every day than Bengie Molina, because at least then they won’t be overpaying for lousy production, but either way, I’m not expecting much out of catcher for the Mets in 2010.