A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Learning From the Best

The Mets recipe for pitching success last season was get to the fifth or sixth inning with a lead and hand it over to the bullpen. The bullpen led the NL with a 3.25 ERA and was over a run better than the Braves bullpen. The Mets bullpen had the most wins, was tied for second in strikeouts, and had the lowest BAA out of the entire Major Leagues. The Braves? Not so much. While the Mets bullpen was busy getting it done, the Braves bullpen blew 31 saves. Of course even if the Braves bullpen cut their blown saves in half, they still would have finished behind the Mets, but that is besides the point.

The Braves had largely been operating with the bullpen by comity plan after Smoltz's return to the rotation. They were doing that in part by choice and in part by necessity since they had no one step up, but next season they can look forward to stability and a lot of it. The Rafael Soriano deal for Horacio Ramirez was a fleecing and Mike Gonzalez is solid and deadly against lefites....deadly. His .163/.265/.256 line against lefties in '06 is flat out nasty and his .176/.260/.218 line since '04 is even more impressive considering it is a much bigger sample size. Just for good measure we can throw in the fun fact that he has allowed only five homers in over six hundred plate appearances against him.

Bob Wickman, Chad Paronto, Oscar Villarreal, Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, and Macay McBride certainly form a solid foundation for a bullpen, but a bullpen is not everything. The Mets bullpen only mattered because they had a good bench, a great lineup, and decent rotation. Unfortunately, the Braves have a pretty good offense and a good rotation as well. Make no mistake, the Mets are still undoubtedly the class of the division for me, but we all saw what a dominating bullpen could mean to a team. Yes, the Braves lost 32 homers when LaRoche was traded, but they still out homered the Mets by 22 and scored more runs in '06. Unlike last season, the Braves will finish over .500 this year and the NL East is going to be one fun division to watch all summer.

* * *

  • It's about that time again...There was a big buzz about the Yankees building up a stable of arms so they can trade for Johan Santana despite the fact the Twins would not trade him since he is signed through '08 and no arm they acquired would be more than a throw in for Santana. The Yankees best talent and only desirable talent for a top tier arm was already there, but hey...why would Yankee fans get involved with details like that? Now, it's Francisco Rodriguez.

    With Mariano Rivera nearing retirement in New York, the Yankees are already said to be eyeing Rodriguez as a potential replacement. Rodriguez could command a deal in the four-year, $38-million range.

    Just identify the best player at what he does and rumor him as a Yankee target. Then just watch the fans make up ridiculous trades. Rinse...spit..and repeat. It happens every season and will happen for the duration of my life and it never fails to get me annoyed.

  • Ryan Howard did not get the memo about how to handle contracts that get issued before your arbitration years. I know not many can boast back to back ROY and MVP seasons (if any at all), but this is nuts.

    That's because the Howard camp, led by father Ron Howard, already has sent strong signals that they're after something more on the lines of what Alfonso Soriano received this winter than the going rate for a superstar with two years service time in the majors.

    Soriano, the top free agent hitter this offseason, hit the jackpot by signing an eight-year, $136-million deal with the Chicago Cubs in November. Howard probably wouldn't ask for that much money, but you get the idea.


    Dangerous precedents could be set as teams need to find young stars that produce to maintain payroll flexibility. All it would do to if Howard got something silly is give the Yankees first stab at most players at the end of their first six years of service. At this point, even small market teams can make a play to keep a Johan Santana or a Carl Crawford type for a few extra years before their inevitable departure, but they certainly will not be able to if things start to get out of control.

  • Not sure if I linked to this before, but if not, watch it and then wipe the drool.
  • 16 Comments:

    Anonymous Danny said...

    Fun Fact: One of the homeruns Gonzalez allowed to a lefty last year was to Carlos Delgado to win a game at Shea.

    Dude is still an animal though. At least they paid a reasonable price for this good bullpen arm. LaRoche is still young and had a 915 OPS last year, and figured out how to hit lefties (or it was a fluke). The prospect they got back from the Pirates is a good SS prospect, so that is something to consider as well. All in all, not a terrible trade by the Pirates, and by Littlefield's standards, he did okay.

    Oh, so THAT's why Ryan Howard fired his agent, because his pops has these big plans. Awful stuff. Go get an agent Ryan.

    11:10 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I like it, thank you. :)

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    See you tomorrow!

    1:08 AM

     
    Anonymous DG said...

    Or you could just go on a diet and skip the mfing pills! I hope we don't see you tomorrow.

    4:49 AM

     
    Anonymous DG said...

    You guys scoffed when I suggested this a while back, but here's a similar view from Ben Shpigel's article today in the NYTimes about the prospects the Mets don't want to trade:

    The Mets challenged Gómez, then 20, last season by placing him at Class AA Binghamton. After hitting .406 there in July, he finished the season batting .281 with 7 home runs and 48 runs batted in. He will begin the season back in Binghamton.

    Good article by the way, though there's no new info for all of us who remain well informed by Mikey O.

    5:48 AM

     
    Anonymous Coop said...

    Hey guys - looks like I won't be spending as much time here during the day since this site has been blocked at work. You and Metsblog and all my "crack" sites. But I had to remark on a few things.

    Is Ryan Howard's father really named "Ron Howard?" That's funny.

    Usually, Buster Olney or some Wankee homer starts these rumors about Yankees making a play for the best players. Why is that every potential team has to make the Yankees any better? I didn't really care what they did this offseason, and I don't still, but stop the insanity already!

    6:55 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    That certainly is a fun fact Danny and we’ll plenty of chances to see Gonzalez this year.

    The ‘experts’ seem to think the Pirates paid too much and LaRoche is not getting a ton of respect, but if you look at the going rate for good closers, it is certainly not as high as many people think and especially in regards to 30+ homer guys in the big leagues. Overall, I think both teams made out well.

    DG…I usually delete the spam but now I have to leave it or else people would be wondering why you seemingly have contempt for Danny.

    Gomez back in Binghamton? I guess that certainly makes sense if the Mets plan to keep Milledge around. He still has not lit it up any stop for an entire season and put up big numbers. He’s getting to the point where he needs to start producing if he wants to keep his billing as a top prospect up. As of now, I think people have been a bit generous, but given his age, I guess it’s warranted. I wouldn’t mind him crack 15 homers in Binghamton this season, steal 40+ bases, and hit .290 or so.

    Blocked! Blasphemous. Mine is blocked sometimes and then not blocked. Very strange, but I’m sorry to hear about your employer laying the smack down.

    9:39 AM

     
    Anonymous brian b said...

    oh man, i've been dying to see 300 for a while now. thats all i have to say!

    11:11 AM

     
    Anonymous DG said...

    Mike, next time I'll post it as DG replies to the mindless spammer about.... You can go ahead and delete my comment there. I actually thought you'd do as much when I wrote the comment early this morning. I just hate to see that crap.

    Re: Gomez. My guess is (and was) that the Mets would like to see if he can continue to rake at the same level before kicking him up to New Orleans. And given the outfield depth (and the fact that LM is still in the system), there's probably less need to rush him. The team already challenged him last year; two years in a row could breed bad habits perhaps. I think that Binghamton would be a wise move.

    No one bought into my Omar's new theory of baseball economics yesterday, but I vow to elucidate it over the next couple of months. Maybe I'll write a book! Omar-ball!

    11:46 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    DG….I don’t hate spammers. I hate the people who someone make it worth the spammers time to go through all the trouble to create bots and what not. You have to think they get something out of the spamming or else they would focus their efforts elsewhere.

    RE: Gomez…I’d agree that is the right move and I’d agree there is no need to rush the kid. F-Mart @ St. Lucie…Gomez @ Binghamton….Milledge @ New Orleans. It’s a natural progression and lessens the chance or at the very least puts off the prospect of overcrowding for a year. But you’d have to figure the game plan is to stick Milledge in right sometime in ’07 and ’08, pick up Alou’s option for ’08 even if it’s on a part-time basis because I have no doubt he’ll still be hitting, let Gomez do a full year at Binghamton again unless he forces the issue and do a full year at New Orleans and be ready to go at 22 years old, and F-Mart will be able to take him time and be ready for the new Shea in ’09 and the Mets could deal one of their young stud outfielders for pitching or whatever.

    12:21 PM

     
    Blogger Mets Beast said...

    Danny, I was going to say the same thing, but I remember that... a 12th inning walkoff in which the Mets should've won in regulatory innings.

    1:12 PM

     
    Anonymous MikeinSpaininLA said...

    Mike,

    There was a private screening of 300 last week at my film school...I was too busy to go, but my friends gave me their opinions...should I tell you? Or let you go in fresh?

    3:42 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    do you guys agree or disagree with this comment from BP chat:

    "Joe Sheehan: I'm astounded that we've reached a point where Endy Chavez is considered a barrier for Lastings Milledge to surmount, and I'm not really a big Milledge fan.

    Chavez is a fourth outfielder, maybe a #5. Milledge should play just about every day, Green and Alou should platoon when injuries aren't keeping one of them down, and Chavez should run and d-rep for the two of them. Johnson, not Milledge, is the odd man out."

    i'd say this makes sense if he has a good spring and cuts the crap.

    3:48 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    but chavez isn't the barrier it's green who is going to frustrate us i fear.

    3:49 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Mike…you can just say A) Swellicious {stupefying} B) Swell {very good} C) Jeter-esque {over rated, but good} D) Donkey Show-esque {something you just have to see in person for various reasons} E) Benitez {Meltdown..avert at all costs}

    Jake…great piece of quotated goodness there. Really interesting points, but that all really depends on if you think that Milledge will be up in a month or so. Frankly, Milledge, like Gomez, has not torched any level and could stand to force his way into the bigs being he’s only 22. I have no issue at this point being that Chavez is a more valuable defender at this point and you certainly would expect Green and Alou to play everyday barring injury or generally suckiness, but that can be evaluated when the time comes.

    Minor gripe, but a good point. If the Mets did not trade Green and were able to keep Nady they would have never signed Alou and Milledge would be in LF. It didn’t shake out that way so I have no issues with how it’s being handled. Let Milledge force someone’s hand. He has not had more than 1300 at-bats as a pro yet. Like you said Jake, spring training can change things and if Lastings lights it up, you never know what can happen.

    5:10 PM

     
    Anonymous DG said...

    I'd venture to say that Lastings cannot make the Mets out of Spring Training period. I'd even add that this is probably in his best interests regardless of what happens in ST. I realize that finding humility is going to be more than a one year deal with the Ledge, but that's probably the thing he needs to fit into a major league clubhouse. The problem is not high-fiving the fans on the way out to right field; there's a fan/player gap on that one big time. He just needs to learn how to think he's hot shit without acting that way and then he develops into whatever type of ballplayer he's going to develop into.

    One of those young stud outfielders will likely get traded at some point. That's why we like depth. The one who won't get traded is Fernando Martinez. In the ideal world, one of these guys proves he can play in the majors before he's moved out for the younger prospect. That brings back more value.

    300 looks like an entertainment (as opposed to a "movie") and yet another addition to the 21st century death cult (which superseded the 20th century death cult which superseded the, well, you get the idea). I'm not saying I'm not going to see it - since I have no idea - but I find myself pining for a time past comic book cutout movies and endless repeats. Before I get the culture elitist drivel tag tarred to me, I have to say that some of these movies have been quite fun rides (esp., the first two X-Men), but it don't feed the soul.

    6:03 PM

     
    Anonymous benny blanco from da bronx but in England said...

    If you wanna be negative about the Braves bullpen. Rafael Soriano did in fact get BASHED in the head by a Vladi hit.
    That could seriously fuck someone up. He could be messed up, and I know its mean and ruthless, but I hope that hit to the head did mess him up.

    I'm sorry, I like what the Yankees are doing, they got some super solid guys but no way in hell those players they got could be even close to being quality guys I would trade in return for Johan. Maybe if Hughes is included, and I'm out of it in July of 08. Then and only then. Other than that, those prospects the Yankees got aren't studs, they're just... good.
    THe Yankees will eventually get K-Rod, when he's 37 and he'll get booed out of Yankee Stadium II after giving up a dinger in the playoffs, only becuase Joe Torre is a dumbass and abuses and over uses his pitchers.

    7:16 PM

     

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