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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recipe for Success

Jonah Keri was speaking about a book Baseball Between the Numbers a little bit ago in a chat. He had mentioned that Nate Silver, from Baseball Prospectus, wrote a chapter that looked at the past 25 years of playoff teams and the areas at which each team excelled. The conclusion was that teams with 1) two top starters, 2) great defense and 3) a great closer tend to be the best in the playoffs. Also according to the study, regular season offensive prowess had to post-season wins. Of course, we could have looked at the Yankees 2001 through 2006 seasons to see that but that is neither here nor there.

What is the point is that the Mets are pretty close to that recipe along with Anaheim, San Diego, and Boston. Of course the Mets have a better defense than either of those teams, but those two are no slouches. While the Padres stock is falling and their outlook for the playoffs is not all that favorable, the Mets, the Angels, and the Sox should march right in barring any disasters. Would we be shocked to see a World Series with some configuration of those teams? Not really.

While they satisfy the above criteria, they are obviously not bereft of offensive ability and could cause some trouble once they get into the playoffs. A lot of this is dependent upon the Mets two top starters pitching like top starters at that time. They have quite a few candidates that could be considered as such but a few have been inconsistent of late and one is pitching against A-ballers.

The x-factor here is the Mets offense has the ability to go from above average to American League-esque. With Alou back and adding such a consistent force in the lineup and the other shuffles, they could be dangerous on all fronts. Add that to the possibility of solid starting pitching, the top defense, a decent bullpen, and a dominant closer, this team could start firing on all cylinders and blast through the rest of the regular season and continue into the playoffs.

Of course that is easier said than done but the possibility of that happening is certainly there.

* * *

  • The Mets sweep of better than people think Nationals team was just what everyone need to assauge the negative feelings from Thursday night's disaster. Now things get really interesting as the Mets head out to face the San Diego Padres with Chris Young who pitches like Pedro Martinez circa 1998 when he is at home, the Dodgers, the Philly, and then Atlanta. After that, the schedule is very favorable for the Mets so this is basically the division. If they can emerge from that part of the schedule unscathed and have a four game lead or better in hand, it's over Johnny.

  • Lastings for the most part will get a free pass on not taking enough walks this season. He only has three walks so far and has been plunked three times as well. He is never going to be a big walk guy, but he certainly is not 2007's version of Pudge Rodriguez.

  • Jake Peavy says it is not about getting a big payday, but it is about getting something fair. Which is a big payday. That is all well and fine, but the fact it is hitting the papers in 2007 when he is inked through 2009 is a bit silly. I am not sure I see the reasoning for him saying the Padres are not showing a big financial commitment to winning and that he envisions a new address for himself in the near future.

  • The Duque was spectacular yet again and the Mets have won 10 of his last 11 starts. He is third in the league in WHIP and 7th in ERA but only has 8 wins to show for this amazing season. He is also absolutely murdering righties to the tune of a .155 BAA and lefties are not getting much against him either and have a .235 BAA.

    How he is doing this I will never know, but he has not been this good since 1998.

  • It is really hard to complain about Castillo and what he was brought to this team.

  • It certainly looks like Beltran is on one of his pattented hot streaks and was named NL Player of the Week. He went 9 for 24 with four homers and ten RBIs in six games.

    "It is about feeling good," Beltran told reporters after Sunday's game. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced, and I am staying back."

    All this is precisely why he can be frustrating at times. He can do it all and should be able to put it all together on a consistent basis, but he doesn't.

    "When he gets hot, he gets ridiculously hot," teammate David Wright said after Sunday's game. "He has the ability to put the team on his shoulders."

    I do not know if it is mental, his injuries that seem to be nagging him at times, or him getting out of synch physically, but if he can figure out how to bottle up his highs and minimize the lows, he can put up some cartoonish numbers.

  • The Mets acquired Jeff Conine for Sean Henry and Jose Castro. I liked Henry and I thought he was having a nice follow up season to his 2006, but it's hard to get upset about a guy who was a bit old for A ball.

    However, you have to believe that the Reds got a pretty decent bounty for Conine and clearly more than the Twins got for Castillo which is inexplicable.

  • It looks like Michael Vick is going to jail for a year to a year and a half.

  • Brandon Webb is a stud. In the days of six inning pitchers, three consecutive complete games shut outs is as fun as it gets. It should be noted that he went seven innings in the three starts previously before that which averages out to eight innings per start in his last six starts. Yes...I'm good at maff....But that's not my point, my point is that few people can that these days and he only topped 111 pitches once in that streak and topped 110 pitches twice.

    He just pounds the strike zone with his many variations of his sinker and srip players of their manhood.

  • Have the Mets even had one player crack the top 20 on BA's Prospect Hot Sheet?

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  • 18 Comments:

    Anonymous jake said...

    hooray for the optimism!

    i see it inspired wicked debate.

    1:27 PM

     
    Anonymous benny said...

    Speaking of playoffs, oh man, I'm imagining Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, or Jeff Conine just coming up big in some sort of situation. Now that I see the REAL Mets are "back" and there's nothing to worry about, I have the full confidence I had earlier in the year about the Mets dominating on thier way to the World Series. They're gonna do it guys, the team is just full of steady players.

    Regarding Milledge's walks, I mean I'm not sure and I'm just talking non sense but I think if he is given a starting job he will relax at the plate and be more disciplined instead of trying to hit all the time to show what he can do. He'll be alright. And of course those HBP don't hurt.

    Wow Jake Peavy, haha. I disagree with him, I feel the Padres are doing what they can to improve and are improving.

    Duque is amazing. I can't believe he is doing it with his stuff.

    The Mets can beat Brandon Webb though. Do the DBacks "scare" you in a 5 game series?
    Its Webb, Livan, Doug Davis, and god knows who else, with Tony Pena, Valverde, Lyons, and others in the bullpen. Now that I've put those names on paper, the DBacks will not only get beaten but they'll be raped. The Mets can whoop them, and the pressure of playoffs will certainly get to the bullpen arms.

    So I'm watching the Yankees vs Angels and some backup catcher named Budde won the game on a walk off double.
    The play of the game though?
    Jorge Posada's 2 run homerun that tied up the game in some inning, I think the 8th?
    Isn't that ridiculous?
    Stupid YES Network.

    1:57 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When everyone feels good we tend to stay quiet, don't we.

    Giving up those guys for Conine was kind of weird. Hopefully he adds something to the mix into the stretch.

    The word on Pedro from last night looks very promising. The fact that he's happy with his curveball and sinker and that his fast ball hit 89 is exciting. Sounds like one more start to me before he comes up to be with the team barring any setbacks. That would put him right around that Braves weekend series....oh baby. Can't help but start dreaming about how unreal it would be to have a healthy kickass Pedro back. If he is...all bets are off on this team. They could go pretty far if that's the case. It would be a huge jolt of energy to the guys.

    I'm actually feeling good about this run in the next two weeks. I think the team is ready to break it open and are coming together at the right time.

    The whole Michael Vick thing is literally vile and one of the most disgusting things I've heard. Don't fuck with dogs man. That piece of shit needs to go to prison for a lot longer than a year for what he did. What a psycho.

    Anthony

    2:00 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There's always more to do - and so more to talk about - when something is going wrong then when things are going well. Steering straight is easier (but yes, at times, more boring) than navigating hairpin turns...

    As for Milledge, I don't think he's pressing as much as this is typical for a (very) young player. We were spoiled by Wright, who is mature beyond his years. I know this goes against what a lot of people on this site think, but it is one of the reasons I *like* Milledge batting say #8 instead of #2. If he hits #2 now, he will see a ton of fastballs and be rewarded for a "grip-n-rip" type of mentality. Never mind the fact it will likely kill Reyes running game. By hitting him lower in the lineup, where pitchers can pitch normally to him, it forces him to learn how to be a major league hitter, look for his pitch, etc.

    At least that's my take...

    -ube

    2:24 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Yes Jake…that bit of optimism was for you. I hope you enjoyed it.

    Benny, I know we’ve said it about ten times already about the ‘real’ mets being back, but I think this time it is for real. The lineup looks great and the pitching is as unassuming as it was last year, but I have confidence it will get the job done. The bullpen might straighten out a bit too with Joe Smith felling better so we’ll see.

    RE: Alou…he’s a beast man. He is as consistent as they come and Castillo could just prove to be annoying in an Eckstein fashion….sorry to use that analogy. I just puked a bit too.

    I think Milledge will walk too, but not crazy amounts. 50 to 60 would satisfy me since I think he will be a .300+ hitter pretty fast.

    And can’t the Padres spend a bit? They have not really be huge spenders, but that is more of a function of value and what they were spending on vs. spending just to spend. You can make special exceptions and something tells me they can inch their payroll higher and give Peavy a solid offer.

    I give you credit for being able to sit through a YES broadcast. I doubt the Vietcong could get you to spill the beans…..you are a very disciplined man.

    Anthony, I wholeheartedly agree that the Reds did well for Conine, but neither guy is anyone to go crazy about. I mean Ryan got far less for Castillo, which is quite bizarre. But if the Mets really wanted Conine and felt he would make an impact in the playoffs then those two guys were not going to stop them. I am not high on Castro at all and though I liked Henry, he is nothing to cry about. Whatever…not crazy about it, but not the worst thing.

    RE: Pedro…once more start seems about right. Dayn Perry said Sept. 8th for his approximate MLB debut this season. I certainly hope I’m not heading off to Africa while that is going down or else I’ll be pretty pissed…

    Ube…I do like your take, but in the end, I prefer production. If he can be more productive than player X in the two hole, he should be batting 2nd. The bigs are about winning, the minors are about learning. If you want him to learn how to take pitches, then send him in the minors and tell him to start walking or else he won’t get called up. When Gotay was batting 2nd, I didn’t care as much. Castillo is making me not care since he has done rather well. But when Marlon or whatever backup of the day is in there while he is batting 8th, it is borderline lunacy. It’s not black and white of course and if they wanted to give him a take sign for Reyes to steal, they could certainly curb his ‘grip ‘n rip’ approach. But is not as if he does not take pitches. Taking pitches and walking are two different things. He is seeing 3.75 pitches per at bat and was close to 4.00 last year. Reyes would have pleeeeenty of pitches to steal on and Milledge would get a healthy diet of fat pitches resulting in some nice production all around. It sits him in a good spot to succeed and get a large number of hits.

    I don’t disagree with you, but there are a few thoughts going on.

    3:12 PM

     
    Anonymous rick m said...

    Did anyone catch this comment that that characterized the Mets as being anxious to get rid of the "irritating and unproductive" Paul LoDuca?

    http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070819/SPORTS01/708190348/1108

    That's the first time I've read grumbling about capt. redass.

    4:06 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    I did read that but I took it as more of an Abraham comment than a Met comment, but I could be reading it wrong. Unproductive maybe, but I did not know he was viewed in a negative light personally.

    4:16 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I read the LoDuca comments the same way. I still think, in the end, the choice to come back will be his - if he is willing to take a Valentin like deal after this season. We'll see, I'll worry about that in two (hopefully 3) months...

    I think everyone is right about the Conine trade. It is more than we gave up for Castillo. It does seem like a lot. But if you have to fill a need, you give up those guys without a blink of the eye. Do you know what the difference between those two deals was? Leverage. The Mets had some with the Twins (who wanted to dump salary) and none with the Reds (who knew we were desparate). 9 times out of 10, the team with the leverage wins the deal. If there's no leverage difference, my money's on the best GM coming out on top, and I feel we have the best in the biz...

    mr. met - eh, different schools of thought on Milledge & young players. I don't think they can learn *everything* in the minors. Sometimes they need to struggle in the bigs to make adjustments - that why some great players struggle as rookies. Of course I think Milledge would hit better in the 2-hole. Of course, who wouldn't with Reyes in front and Wright behind. (Is this the best lineup spot in all of baseball??) But I'm not sure the *lineup* would produce more with him in that spot, as I think Castillo gets big benefit from batting #2, and I like Milledge lower in the lineup more than I would Castillo. Has Marlon actually batted second? I don't remember that, but wouldn't swear against it.

    Just different schools of thought - in truth, I never get really worked up where guys hit, except for obvious stuff like separating lefties, keeping OBP guys up top, etc. I think the rest of it is kind of personal preference...

    -ube

    7:27 PM

     
    Anonymous Two-By-Four said...

    Beltran with another scintillating game driving in 5 runs in the Mets 6-5 win, Castillo, whose game seems to have been energized by the trade to the Mets, drove in the winning run.

    So it took an analysis of 25 years of playoffs stats to reach a conclusion that was well known as far back as I can remember.

    Vick is now a perfect candidate to play on the Dallas Cowboys. When he serves his term expect JJ to come knocking on his door.

    10:58 PM

     
    Anonymous Danny said...

    What a friggin win.

    They have now scored 6 runs or more in 6 consecutive games. They have won 7 of their last 8 ballgames. A 12-6 record this month.

    A healthy Alou, a hot Beltran and the spark that Milledge gives this team has made all the difference. Wright and Reyes have been steady all year. These other guys picking it up elevates this team.

    8:14 AM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Ube….I don’t think they can learn everything in the minors, but saying you are going to bat him 8th so he can learn to take pitches while a worse hitter is in the 2nd spot goes against trying to win ballgames. At this point though, it is a moot point with Castillo playing well. If there are better guys in front of him, I have no complaints. We are solely talking about the past when I did not believe that was occurring.

    You more skilled batters hit before your more unskilled batters period. And yes…Marlon and Easley 100% batted 2nd before Milledge….there were others two and I find that ridiculous. It makes Randolph look petty and like he has an axe to grind.

    I don’t like to get worked up about lineup construction, but you simply do not want to have a skilled lineup with lower than replacement level player smack in the two hole between them. It is just something that is no conducive to production. Sure they will score runs, but I doubt you are maximizing all your players abilities and things that seem so obvious irritate me. Like figuring out Green is done weeks later.

    Last night’s game was sick…just sick. Beltran is sooooo frustrating. He should be able to produce at a high level the majority of the time. Not this high….but certainly higher than May through July.

    RE: Vick…someone will pick that guy up. No way a talent like that goes without a team very long since these guys are in the business of winning and not ethics.

    They have now scored 6 runs or more in 6 consecutive games. They have won 7 of their last 8 ballgames. A 12-6 record this month.

    This team should be 1st in the league in runs scored and this is the real deal offense. Everyone healthy, Green out of the lineup, and production at 2nd. There is not one pitcher I would be scared to throw this team against.

    Beltran’s ISOP is an impressive .253 this season he is on his way to 20+ steals and 30+ homers, which he has not done since 2004.

    The Mets might have two guys with 20+ steals and 30+ homers (one of which might go 30/30) and I’m fully expecting two 30/30 years in ’08 for these guys.

    12:34 PM

     
    Blogger metsfanincincy said...

    Living in Cincinnati, I've seen Conine play a lot this year. He is a professional hitter who can still hit. A great addition and Omar gave up guys who will never see the bigs. He may even be an upgrade over Easley.

    4:24 PM

     
    Anonymous Two-By-Four said...

    Garret Anderson drove in 10 runs last night against the Yankees “vaunted” pitching which was one short of the AL record of 11 by Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees on 5/24/1936. He was 2 short of the major league record jointly held by 2 St. Louis Cardinals players Jim Bottomley on 9/16/1924 and Mark Whiten on 9/7/1993. It was an Angels’ team record and Anderson is 1 of 12 players who have accomplished it. Previously, the last player to have 10 RBIs in a game was A-Rod against the same Angels on 5/26/2005. So a tip of the hat to Mr. Anderson.

    6:31 PM

     
    Anonymous Two-By-Four said...

    Metsblog had the following that gives us a glimpse of a side of Beltran we normally don’t see:

    “On Thursday, August 23, Carlos Beltran will host a clinic for children from Harlem RBI in the outfield at Shea Stadium from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
    Beltran is donating $500 per RBI this season to Harlem RBI and the funds are being matched by the Mets Foundation for a $1000 donation per RBI.”

    6:39 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    mr. met - I don't want to turn this into a lineup argument, since we both like the current lineup, but very often you actually don't put your more skilled hitters higher in the lineup. If you did, Pujols, Arod, Wright and the like would all bat leadoff, to maximize their ABs. There are lineup dynamics, and you sculpt your lineup around the gameplan you want to use. Things like who will take pitches, who can hit with two strikes, who benefits the most from a hole on the left side of the infield, who can handle the bat, who has speed, etc. are just some of the things that would make a big influence on who I would bat second, for instance.

    Think of it this way. Let's use Marlon and Milledge, and say Marlon is a .260 hitter and Milledge is a .300 hitter, and you only have the #2 and #8 spots open in the lineup. On average, each spot in lineup you move a batter up they are about 11% more likely to get another AB per game - so moving Milledge up from 8 to 2 would make him 67% more likely to get an extra AB. Given that he has a 4% higher chance of getting a hit (.300-.260), batting him #2 would yield about a 2.7% chance of 1 extra hit per game. If you did this for all 162 games, you would get, about, 4.3 extra hits over the course of the year.

    To me, those 4 extra hits might not offset things like extra SBs for Reyes, my preference to have Marlon bunt instead of Milledge late in game if need be, having an extra power bat lower in the lineup, having speed in the 8-hole to start off rallies for the top of the lineup, etc.

    Obviously, the math I'm using is a bit simplified, but the concept is the same. There are two schools of thought, and I can understand both - though I vastly prefer trying to maximize how my lineup is configured. It's just personal preference, really.

    At least that's my take...

    -ube

    7:53 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Well....I think that is taking what I said a bit out of context. I would never suggest Pujols leading off with Arod and Wright next.

    We are talking about guys like Marlon Anderson and Damion Easley. Also, I can guarantee that Milledge would have worlds better stats than Marlon in the two hole and not 4.3 hits over the course of 162 games. We are talking more hits, steals, runs, doubles, homers, whatever. Across the board he would whipe his numbers out. He is faster and has a ton more skill.

    Why would Milledge offset SBs? We already established he sees close to four pitches per at-bat and is seeing more pitches per at-bat than Marlon's career average. It is not as if he is a free swinger like Cano circa 2005 and sees close to three pitchers per at-bat.

    And back in '04, you saw guys like Beltran, Edmonds, and Arod batting second. I like a supercharged lineup if you have one, which the Mets do. Also, when your lineup is deep one through six, there is no sense in worrying about pop in the 8th spot of the lineup. You should be more concerned with taking the bat out of the hands of a good young players because he gets pitched around to get the pitcher.

    It boils down to preference and in a weaker lineup that needs to manufacture runs, I can see the point of an '06 LoDuca. I cannot agree with putting a weaker guy like Anderson in the two hole over Milledge because he might be a marginally better bunter for some rare bunting occasion. But when you have a lineup like the Mets, how often are you really trying to scratch out runs?

    All this aside, I do like Castillo in the two hole and this is 100% the best lineup the Mets have fielded all season. Aside from DiFelice, you have guys that can a lot of things and carry the team on different nights.

    9:24 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Humber no hitter through 7 1/3...no way he makes it through regardless since he's over 100 pitches. But great to see him kill it.

    9:47 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Ehhh, don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll just agree to disagree on this.

    Awesome about Humber, he needed a start like that for a bunch of reasons...

    -ube

    10:09 PM

     

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