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

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hole In The Two Hole?

Hmmmm....

This was one of those quiet acquisitions — other than Johan Santana's reaction to it in Minny — that can make a huge difference in October. Ruben Gotay had been filling in admirably for the injured Jose Valentin, but now the Mets have a slick-fielding veteran for the playoffs. (Castillo's record of 143 straight games without an error at second was equaled by Placido Polanco on Sunday.) A willing two-strike hitter, Castillo is the perfect guy to have in the 2-hole behind Jose Reyes. Castillo is hitting .326 since coming to New York in a deal that cements the Mets as the favorites in the NL.

I like the deal, but it cements the Mets as the favorite? Castillo does all that for the Mets?

I think what Paul LoDuca did last year is nice and all, but I'm quite partial to guys who can hit rather than situationally hit. Not that situational hitting is bad. I think it absolutely has its place and a team should know how to do so in case they need to grind out a run. But as a a way of life? I just think having a flat out better hitter is not exactly a bad thing when it comes to the two spot.

There seems to be a perception that a certain type of hitter needs to be batting second. While that might be necessary in certain types of lineups, good lineups that have a very good hitting deep into the lineup probably do not need to manufacture runs a lot. And if a team does not need to manufacture runs a lot, why have a situational hitter smack in the middle of speed and power? Reyes has been proficient at scoring runs no matter who hits behind him and the numbers seem to suggest that. Omar and Willie's ideal #2 hitter is probably a bit unnecessary as their ideal #2 hitter lives and breath to move Jose over.

This link and the below blurb are courtesy of David who emailed me.

Its from the National Severe Storms Laboratory--go figure. Anyway, runner on 2nd, no outs, the probability of scoring a run is 0.633 and expected runs that inning are 1.13. Bunting the runner to 3rd but giving up the out--probability of scoring a run only rises to 0.667, a pretty marginal increase. But the expected runs that inning drops down to 0.96. So the probability of scoring a run rises by 0.034, while the expected runs drops by 0.17. And this is based on tens of thousands of observations. So given that Castillo is batting .300 and has some astounding number of infield hits {and conversely outs}, what exactly is the benefit of the sacrifice?

On the other hand, with the bases loaded and one out, as in the top of the 7th as I write, the probability of scoring a run is 0.678 and expected runs are 1.57...and we got bupkis.


Of course many will point to things not in the box score or things that cannot be quantified that a player of Castillo's ilk would contribute. If you look at Ruben Gotay's VORP and Luis Castillo's VORP, Gotay is ahead 13.3 to 8.5. But that is not fair right? Castillo brings defense to the table which was the biggest reason he was brought over and VORP does not account for defense.

WARP1 does and Gotay's WARP1 is 1.4 and Castillo has a 1.3 WARP1 with the TWins and a .2 WARP1 with the Mets. So they are basically even then, right? Not really. WARP1 rewards playing time. So, for any player that had their playing time minimized due to injury, benching, or whatever would be negatively impacted in regards to WARP1. Gotay has 64 games played and 137 at-bats versus Castillo's 77 games played and 382 at-bats. This is not to rip the move of acquiring Castillo. I think he has value to a club like the Mets and they got him for free.

However, it is entirely possible Gotay is more valuable right now than Castillo even when their defense is factored in. Of course this assumes Gotay's offense is for real and to what capacity his offense if for real. He is obviously not a .350 hitter, but he looks like the real thing and has a pretty impressive swing. I do wish the Mets would reconsider giving the #2 to a situation hitter this year and definitely next year.

The Mets could easily roll with a Reyes, Beltran, Wright, Delgado, Alou, Green, LoDuca, Castillo lineup (a balanced lineup like Willie likes) and probably be better off. If Milledge or Gotay see some playing time, they fit nicely into the #2 hole. I do not think a slap hitter batting second really gives them their best opportunity to score runs. However for the rest of the season, Gotay should be seeing more playing time right now to keep a potentially valuable bat warm. Castillo and Gotay are both going to be valuable should the Mets make the playoffs and hopefully both get used in the correct spots.

Just an aside...not to belabor the point, but if the Mets are willing to sacrifice offense for defense at second, why is the lack of offense and defense not dealt with in right?

* * *

  • More on what Bobby Jenks has done this season (stolen for a Rob Neyer's comments on his blog)

    How rare is it to retire 41 consecutive batters in today's American League? Assuming an avg OBP of 0.337 (as Casey Stengel or Baseball Annie would say - "you could look it up"), then the odds are roughly 1 in 20.8 million chances. Assuming 30 teams multiplied by 162 games - you would expect to see this event randomly occur every 4200 years or so. If you assume the pitcher is pitching with supreme confidence and the hitters are totally bewildered and as such then lower the expected OBP all the way down to 0.300 then it is much less rare - would happen every 460 years or so. I know unwashed writer Neyer is a bit of a stat geek so I thought this tidbit would be appropriate here. (not trying to label anyone here - god forbid!)

    I'm just going to take his word for it. It's fucking special.

  • Good win. Good lineup. Seven tough outs and excellent defense with the exception of left and first.

  • Pedro is chugging along the comeback trail and though he is making progress, it is unclear exactly how much of impact he might have. At this point, it is still asking a lot to expect much from him. He simply does not have all that much time to get back into the swing of things after such a long layoff of not picking up a baseball. Of course it is Pedro and his guile may be enough for him to effective.

  • Barry says one more year, but why stop with one? He is on pace to finish the season with 768 homers. That is 32 away from 800 for those of you who are mathematically challenged. Of course he has no shot at Oh's 868, but DHing for the another two seasons should propel him well into the 800s which is just insane. It would be really hard to retire if he does not manage to hit #800 in 2008.

  • I'm not sure Posada or Pudge would be the perfect catcher for the money they would command. I still think the two headed catching beast of Castro and LoDuca would be just fine since I expect this Met lineup to be pretty deep. Of course that is dependent upon them actually being OK with sharing time.

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  • 21 Comments:

    Anonymous Blastings! Thrilledge said...

    Amen on the 2-hole insight. I've written about that way too much at Blastings! Thrilledge. Link me! (please)

    1:01 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    You have been linked to.

    1:03 AM

     
    Anonymous Blastings! Thrilledge said...

    thanks!

    1:06 AM

     
    Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

    Re: the Pedro update, you do realize that at this current rate, Pedro will most likely be making his return in late August to pitch against the Braves in Atlanta...?

    This is not a game that Rickey will be watching sober.

    7:56 AM

     
    Anonymous Danny said...

    Aren't the Mets the team that benefits the most in the league from having a particularly adept situational hitter in the 2-hole because of their leadoff hitter? I want Milledge and Gotay attacking the first good pitch they get without any thought as to who is on first base. Dumb it down for them. They are young hitters and don't need the extra responsibility. And there IS extra responsibility when Jose Reyes is on base.

    And Castillo's OBP is .370. So while he doesn't hit for any power, he does get on base at a more than reasonable clip. And they 2 guys following Castillo hit for serious power in Wright and Beltran.

    I don't know, I just don't have a problem with Castillo in the second spot in the lineup at all. I really think that he maximizes the chaos that Reyes can cause. Whether Castillo is ahead or behind in the count means nothing to his ability to get on base. He will not ground into double plays. He does not strike out. He gets on base a lot for the big boppers behind him.

    I like him there. Though I do agree with you that I like Gotay in the lineup at least once or twice a week to keep him sharp. All the guy has done is hit.

    8:02 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Ricky, you watch any game sober?

    Danny, valid point. But these guys are not swinging at the first pitch every at-bat. And yes, if they see a first pitch fastball and rip a double, Reyes is on 2nd. I just believe in production and while manufacturing runs is a necessary part of the game, the Mets are not a team that need to be doing that. Besides, the #2 spot might see the most fastballs and wouldn’t you want your young kids to see a steady diet of fastballs to punish? I think they have proved in a small sample size that they are adept at doing just that.

    Casitllo has a .370 OBP for the Mets which is nice. And I’m not saying it’s horrible and egregious that he is there. But the Mets seem married to this idea of a two hole hitter instead of just worrying about getting the best hitters they have getting the most at-bats. They worry about balance vs. just stacking better hitters.

    In the end, Reyes will wreak havoc no matter what. He’ll steal no matter what. The Mets do not need a slap hitter or a guy in the #2 spot who exists to slap the ball around.

    8:47 AM

     
    Anonymous Danny said...

    Good points, particularly about the young guys getting more fastballs there and feasting on them. But we know Willie would never bat a young guy second and move Castillo down to eighth, which is the only other spot in the lineup where Castillo would have any value.

    Milledge really adds a spark to a bottom of the lineup that does not lack age, but certainly lacks energy and speed of any sort. I alsolove Milledge hitting 7th and not 8th. I hope that continues when Castro/LoDuca return, but again, we know it won't.

    As you know, I am not a big lover of Willie's lineups, but I was a fan of the lineup he put out there last night. I guess ultimately, I feel like there are bigger problems than Castillo batting second or eighth, such as Milledge getting into the lineup and Willie not pitching The Show against righthanded hitters.

    Baby steps...

    9:35 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Good points, particularly about the young guys getting more fastballs there and feasting on them. But we know Willie would never bat a young guy second and move Castillo down to eighth, which is the only other spot in the lineup where Castillo would have any value.

    Precisely. And don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of baby steps and Lastings is a big boon to the bottom or top of the lineup. I agree he adds a nice pop at the bottom and hitting behind Alou and not having the pitcher behind him allows him to be more properly used and more chances to produce.

    I have no problems with Castillo batting 2nd and Milledge batting seventh right now. You really have tough outs one through seven with solid defense. If you ask me, that is the best lineup they've had on the field at one time all season.

    9:42 AM

     
    Blogger Sidd Finch said...

    I don't know if you saw this -

    Jose Offerman hit someone over the head with a bat in a game.

    Yikes.

    12:04 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    i agree mike but we can't complain as long as luis gets it done -- and i know you're not.

    benny, saw your late comment yesterday and i'm with you!

    if lastings is playing i'm fairly content. any word on whether this is a one time thing or long term?

    offerman needs to hang with what's his face in Tampa.

    solid win last night.

    12:19 PM

     
    Anonymous benny said...

    I love Luis Castillo in the two hole. He's certainly not what he used to be but I just alot of confidence when he's up at the plate. When the count is 0-2, I still feel like he can do something productive. Whether he slahes one to the opposite field, bunts his way on, or just increases the pitchers pitch count, he's a very productive guy. And his range isn't what it used to be either but he's VERY steady on defense and is a better fielder than Gotay.
    I just think that for right now, Castillo is much more steady than Gotay. Castillo is a very smart baseball player.
    I think it goes a long way that when Castillo plays I have no fear in anything bad happening. With Gotay I get a little paranoid that he's going to fuck something up, and it doesn't happen every game but every once in a while he fucks up.

    I'm not ok with Lo Duca coming back. I havn't looked at who are free agents but I am no ok with Lo Duca...

    Jose Offerman is a good clubhouse guy. Appearently he's only cool with his teammates and not fans.

    12:31 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Sidd…I did see that and it is great. Jose Offerman is a crazy man. Isn’t the Ducks the team Rocker played on?

    No idea if Lastings was in for one game to get Green rest or not. We’ll see tonight!

    I don’t think anyone would contest that Castillo is not a better fielder and whatever he gets to he’ll make the play. A balance of the two between offense and defense for different pitchers, time of game, etc. could provide to be extremely useful.

    Benny…the options are not great. Molina…Pudge…Posada. Obviously Posada is having quite a year, but he’ll be 36 and is having the best season of his career perhaps. Also, I’m not crazy about his defense. LoDuca gives some cover should Castro shit the bed and having LoDuca ensures he doesn’t get over exposed the Mets can truly get a feel for what exactly he is.

    1:10 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    can tony pena jr drive yet? i mean hit?

    2:01 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Tony Pena has been a disappointment, but the kid is what, 17? I'm willing to give him a pass. But in 2008, he will have looked at the same league and gotten his feet wet. No excuses.

    2:29 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    that was hot. 123 two to nothin.

    buzz kill -- check the lineup and see green's name.

    but delgado doubles.

    muse sounds good.

    7:15 PM

     
    Anonymous jake said...

    holy shit. alou homers!

    you see what i was talking about yesterday, bitches?

    7:15 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    From mlb.com: "The manager also had Lastings Milledge start in right field, against right-handed Ian Snell, as opposed to the left-handed-hitting Green. Randolph said he's hoping Milledge or Green asserts himself and takes the right-field job for his own."

    Right...

    8:26 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bonds' 25th off Hudson ties it at 2

    King and Ayala get Washington out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th: Wash 4 Philly 2

    9:20 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    5 to start, 5 to end. I'll take that everyday!

    9:42 PM

     
    Anonymous Two-By-Four said...

    Jose Offerman was taking a page from Juan Marichal who clubbed Johnny Roseboro over the head with a bat during a game between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park on August 22, 1965.

    Castillo should be valuable in the playoffs, assuming the Mets reach it, where defense and pitching become paramount.

    10:52 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sure, I'd rather have a 2-hitter with pop than a slap hitter. I'd love to have pop everywhere in the lineup. But until we become like the Yankees (and I renounce my love of the team), not every position is going to be an All-Star. If that's the case, and most of our positions have some kind of flaw, then I'm OK with the #2 hitter not being a power guy. I'd rather have that than have someone who's not patient (ala Milledge) or slow (ala LoDuca).

    I think - and we saw a bit of Willie playing with it in spring training - if the Mets had more power bats we'd see Wright in the two-hole. But if you go Reyes-Wright-Beltran-Delgado-Alou, the lineup starts thinning out badly at the backend.

    Personally, I love the current lineup, and you saw some reasons why in the first inning tonight. Reyes gets on, he can steal, Castillo can bunt, or you can hit&run (which Willie doesn't do enough of, imo). Reyes makes an out, Castillo's like a second leadoff hitter. If Reyes & Castillo are both on, there's speed all over the place. Plus the first 4 guys can all run, and there are no L's or R's in a row. Most of all, I love Alou behind Delgado; if a lefty comes in to get Delgado, he better get him - because Alou kills lefty and is waiting next. You can even see the difference in Delgado's atbats, as he seems much more patient with Alou behind him than he did earlier in the year (even with Wright behind him).

    I guess to each his own; I think this is the most balanced lineup (speed, power, average, lefty/righty, young/old) the Mets have had (maybe outside of 1988) in their history, and I just want to see it roll for the next 45 games or so.

    Now as for the bullpen...

    11:21 PM

     

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