Posts Tagged ‘New York Mets’

Second Base Options

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Worth taking a look at WAR to determine the best second base options for 2012 in-house. The stat really summarizes nicely what the strengths and weaknesses are of the three candidates:

Player                     Offensive WAR  Defensive WAR  Total WAR

Daniel Murphy     1.8                         0.1                         1.9

Justin Turner        1.4                        -1.2                        0.2

Ruben Tejada        1.5                        -0.4                        1.1

Let’s unpack this a bit. In terms of Tejada, it is worth noting that he’s put up reasonable offensive numbers at age-21 in the major leagues. If his glove plays better in 2012 than WAR has it in 2011- and that seems like a reasonable assumption, given his overall talent and defensive track record- he is a perfectly reasonable option at the position in 2012.

Now, I happen to like Daniel Murphy’s defensive potential at second base as well. His shortcomings look to me like the result of a lack of reps at the position, while his range is impressive. If the Mets need Tejada at shortstop, Murphy looks like a strong option at second base. If they don’t, I’d still be inclined to let Murphy start at the position, with Tejada at Triple-A, ready to fill in.

What I won’t want to see is Justin Turner at second base. His defense, from my view, dovetails with the stats, poor range that brings his contributions in 2011 down to replacement level. If the Mets are without Jose Reyes and David Wright next year, a scenario could unfold with Murphy at third base and Tejada at shortstop. Neither of these would be terrible options (though, for reasons it probably isn’t necessary to detail, this would be a massive dropoff from the current occupants of the positions). Turner still shouldn’t be the second baseman. He’ll be 27, and unlike Murphy, he’s played more than 400 professional games at second base. This is almost certainly who he is.

Then again, without Wright or Reyes, maybe it just doesn’t matter who plays second base.

What Is Mike Pelfrey?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

For some Mets fans, this is the response to a Jeopardy clue: “Which Mets pitcher should be sent to Triple-A?” I don’t see it that way, and indeed, the question is largely a rhetorical one at this point.

Mike Pelfrey has moments when he looks like an ace. He has moments when he looks like a pitcher who doesn’t belong in the major leagues. This is nothing new, and has nothing to do with some perceived psychological or mental limitation. It is because he doesn’t strike many hitters out, leaving him vulnerable to wide swings in his results.

Look, the results have been awful in 2011. Through six starts, his ERA is an unsightly 7.39. But as I detailed in a spirited discussion on Twitter Friday night (are you following us @lohudmets yet? Well, why on earth not?) with Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society and Metsblog’s Michael Baron, a period like this recent struggle is nothing new. And what usually follows is an evening out of luck.

This is what happens to pitchers who only strike out around 5/9 innings, as Pelfrey has throughout his career. Sometimes, the balls find holes. Sometimes, they don’t.

From June 19-July 19, 2010, Pelfrey had a 9.11 ERA over six starts. In his next seven starts? A 2.58 ERA.

From June 21-July 17, 2009, Pelfrey had a 6.19 ERA over six starts. In his next six starts? A 3.58 ERA.

From April 25-May 26, 2008, Pelfrey had a 6.47 ERA over six starts. In his next six starts? A 3.67 ERA. In his next 11 starts? A 2.57 ERA.

In short, the Met defense can go a long way toward improving Pelfrey’s performances. Pelfrey himself, if he found a way to increase his swing-and-mises, could as well.

But chances are that this is Mike Pelfrey, for better or worse. And that is a pitcher with value- he’s been durable, for one thing, and there’s a clear floor on what you will get from him over the long haul, with the floor getting higher depending on how good the rest of your team is defensively. That is value enough to keep him in the rotation, especially when the alternative is Dillon Gee, a pitcher with more floor than ceiling himself.

It is time for Mets fans to stop panicking every time he goes through a rough stretch. And it is also time for fans to put aside the expectations of a future ace, fed by his high draft selection and tall frame. (The team probably didn’t do him any favors in this regard by starting him on Opening Day.) The Mets have someone even taller than Pelfrey’s 6’7″ in Chris Young, and no one expects him to be an ace, or even throw 90 miles per hour.

Put it this way: if the Mets didn’t want Pelfrey’s ups and downs in the rotation, they probably would have traded him last winter. Because Pelfrey has been who he is now for years.

Rivalries and Facebook/Twitter Pages

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

So Bob Brookover’s column in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer is a strange one- he claims that the Phillies and Mets aren’t rivals. His reasoning appears to boil down to a few key points:

  • The Phillies are much better than the Mets
  • The Phillies are heading up, the Mets down
  • There’s very little shared history

Regarding his major arguments: the Phillies certainly have been much better than the Mets over the past two seasons. The Mets and Phillies were neck-and-neck in the two seasons before that, and the Mets were far better in 2006. Hardly a one-sided battle there. As for direction of the team, pulling back even a little gives a different trend line, at least from my perspective. The Mets, under Sandy Alderson, appear to be well-run for the first time in years, if not decades. And the Phillies, with ill-advised contracts, a bunch of 30-something players, and no apparent room to add additional salary, seem both vulnerable and at the end of their success cycle.

This is no criticism- they’ve won four consecutive NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series. That’s a success run on par with virtually any National League team, ever. But is the logical place for them to go from here… up?

Ultimately, what makes a rivalry, in my opinion, is shared battles, frequently playing, and geographic proximity to maximize the intensity. Brookover’s column was right on, back in 2006. But much has changed, obviously, since then. The unbalanced schedules mean those battles will continue to rage almost as frequently as the Dodgers and Giants playing 22 times a year when both resided in New York. And the two cities could scarcely be closer, with New Jersey serving as a rivalry zone between them.

The fierce rivalries between the Mets and Cardinals, or Mets and Cubs, receded when divisional play separated the teams. My suspicion is that once Chipper Jones retires, the Braves will become another division rival- Bobby Cox disappearing has already reduced the intensity several notches. But the Phillies? Something long dormant, due to the relatively large number of down years from each franchise, has finally awakened. Like a Red Sox-Yankees tilt when one team is down, it will still carry that charge long after Ryan Howard and David Wright retire.

Speaking of rivalries, notice that while the LoHud Yankees Blog has 1,808 likes on Facebook, the just-created LoHud Mets Blog fan page has, as of this writing… two. Similarly, many of you have started following this page on Twitter @lohudmets, but we lag behind the LoHud Yankee Twitter feed as well. So I would urge you to strike back against the smug Yankee fans you work with, follow us on Twitter, and assert that you Like our new fan page. I can’t promise you October baseball, but I will be certain to provide, in September, Meaningful Posts.

The Last Time Terry Collins Won

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Considering how long it felt since the last time the Mets won a game-the penultimate game of the 2010 season, for those keeping score at home- one can only imagine how the purgatory between victories felt to Terry Collins. The last time he won as a manager was August 23, 1999.
Interestingly, that game was filled with foreshadowing of future Met performers.
The first RBI of the game, a 6-5 Anaheim win over Detroit, came on a run-scoring groundout by Mo Vaughn. Little did the Mets know that just a few years later, John Olerud long since dispatched, Vaughn would make sure the team got its money’s worth on its insurance.
Damion Easley put up the first run for Detroit, thanks to a single that scored Frank Catalanotto. Easley went on to have several vaguely useful seasons for the Mets as a backup infielder, though he wasn’t the star he appeared he’d be early in his career. Back in 1999, he was in his age-29 season, and completing his third straight season with 20-plus home runs. He went on to restore “Too Legit to Quit” back to Shea Stadium as his at-bat music.
Naturally, no one can forget Catalanotto’s brief 2010 tenure on Jerry Manuel’s bench. That cost Nick Evans one of his options, which is why Lucas Duda is the man to fill in for Jason Bay on the current squad.
Even C.J. Nitkowski, a pitcher born in Rockland County’s Suffern, NY, and who went on to pitch in five games for the 2001 Mets without allowing a run, got into the game for Detroit.
The game’s only home run? Karim Garcia, who joined Shane Spencer as part of the team’s two-headed effort to make fans forget about Vladimir Guerrero prior to the 2004 season. The effort proved less effective than Gob Bluth’s Forget-Me-Now.
As for the Mets, they won a walkoff that day, 3-2 over the Astros at Shea Stadium, thanks to a game-winning single by Matt Franco. Edgardo Alfonzo homered. Rickey Henderson started in left field. Armando Benitez got the win. Carl Everett homered for Houston, and Tim Bogar started for the Astros at shortstop. Now, how long ago does that seem to you? Imagine how Terry Collins feels.

A Word On Cashman Complaining Of Feliciano’s Abuse

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

I’m afraid I can’t let Brian Cashman’s comments that the Mets “abused” Pedro Feliciano pass without comment.
Let’s start with the basics. Cashman is right. Feliciano appeared in 92 games last year, breaking the Met mark for appearances held by… Feliciano the year before with 88, which shattered the record held by… Feliciano the year before with 86.
The Yankees have a sensible policy not to pitch a reliever three days in a row. Feliciano appeared three days in a row on ten separate occasions last year. He also pitched in winter ball, and even the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
And the argument for this use, which boiled down to “Feliciano likes it” is a silly one. Players get to the major leagues based on a remarkable work ethic. Managers and organizations succeed by putting the long-term interests of the team first when making decisions. Jenrry Mejia liked being on the major league roster. That didn’t mean he belonged there.
In short, leave aside whether a multi-year deal at $4 million to a lefty specialist is a good idea. This lefty specialist was a good bet to be at or past his sell-by date.
So Cashman’s complaints at this point come across as… fairly ridiculous. Like Captain Renault objecting to gambling at Rick’s ridiculous. He complained that a lack of other options for lefty specialist forced his hand. Remind me again how many teams the Mets had to outbid to get Tim Byrdak?
It reminds me of when I hear people absolutely trashing their spouses. That never reflects upon the trashed spouse for me; it reflects upon the person trashing. Because that spouse, even if he is that horrible, can’t help being so godawful.
But you married him, dummy.

The LoHud Mets Blog- Now With 100% More Howard Megdal

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Happy Opening Day Eve to you! I am Howard Megdal, and The Journal News has seen fit to give me the keys to their LoHud.com Mets coverage, effective about 4:14 this afternoon (3:14 AM in Saigon). It is an honor that I don’t take likely, and I intend to inform all of you with every tool at my disposal. You can start by following this blog on Twitter @LoHudMets.

That is likely to vary by the day. I won’t be with the team at all times, like a beat reporter, but I’ll be sure to spend plenty of time with the Mets during every home stand and selected road trips. Sometimes, my take will be more humorous. I’ve written a poem recapping each of the 162 games, and if I could do that in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, I can certainly do it in 2011.

Other times, I’ll be employing statistical analysis. Some features, some minor league coverage, some historical pieces, some interviewing- I do a bit of each for other outlets, but I mean to make this blog a catch-all for each of these approaches. Things like daily lineups and a rehashing of what happened in each game- well, you can get that from the beat writers, who do a marvelous job reporting that information comprehensively and instantaneously, or chances are you already saw it by watching the game yourself.

My goal is to make sure every post adds something new to the discussion, whether small or large. If you want a rehashing of what links are already out there, you’d skip my blog and go right to Twitter. You may not always agree with me, but that’s okay- I may not always agree with you. (Sometimes this will happen at the exact same time.) But it would also be wonderful to hear from all of you about what I’m doing. Ideally, I’ll make the blog what you want to read as well, not just what I want to write. We’ll leave the post-modern approach to Thomas Pynchon’s Mets blog.

A bit about me, in case you don’t know my work: I currently write for a number of outlets, from ESPN.com to MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest to SB Nation New York. My first book, The Baseball Talmud, ranked every Jewish baseball player in MLB history. My new book, Taking the Field, will be released by Bloomsbury in May and chronicles my efforts to raise my daughter a Mets fan and get elected General Manager of the team.

I am extremely excited to begin this endeavor. In short, a baseball season is starting, and it is my job to reflect upon it with all of you. That never ceases to thrill me, no matter how the Mets finish in the standings.