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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

You Gotta Know When To Hold 'Em

Rory (NYC): Can you take a question about Carlos Gomez? What is his ceiling? Has he jumped Lastings Milledge on the Mets OF depth chart?

SportsNation Jim Callis: I can. His ceiling is huge and this year, with the way he's performed, I have more belief that he can reach it. He's definitely ahead of Milledge on the Mets' depth chart and I bet Milledge gets dealt in the next six months.

It has been really encouraging to see Gomez perform at the big league level at his age and it realy seems like he is the real deal. However in regards to prospects overall, if a team had three impact prospects that they developed through their system during the same time period that profiled to be frontline/all-star type players, they would be ecstatic. The Mets have six position players and two starters who are in the bigs now or will be ready by 2009. 2009 at some point should feature all of them with the exception of either Gomez, Milledge, or Martinez and it seems Milledge will be the odd man out.

In an ideal world, Milledge doesn't get traded. He's not a malcontent like Elijah Dukes. Lastings has always been apologetic and remorseful when it hits the fan. His mind operates in different fashion and sometimes he may not make the best decisions, but he is malleable. Next season Gomez and Milledge should be with the big club and Fernando should be allowed to take his time to develop. He may not be ready for 2009 and I would rather hedge my bets than just blindly give a nineteen year old a big league postion when he is merely holding his own on AA and having trouble staying on the field.

Then when all are ready, you can pull the tigger on a trade. It's also possible that things happen. Injuries happen. Players do hit bumps in their developmental road and sometimes the bump is too big for them to overcome. That being said, if the right deal comes along you make the deal. Even if the player excels just as Hanley Ramirez has, the deal could very well still be in the best interest of the team and I think Bostom makes that deal again given what they know now.

On the pitching front, I am extremly less optimistic. The Mets do have a good number of second tier, mid to back rotation starters like Stoner and Niese, but their two front end guys in Pelfrey and Humber have lost a bit of their star quality. They are still two pitchers plenty of teams would love to have, but one had to has to lower expetations a bit give what they have done this season. Humber is coming off a major surgery and just needs time and Pelfrey simply needs to refine his secondary stuff. They do have a good chance at becoming frontline starters, but I'm not quite as optimistic as I was prior to the season.

Then there is Kevin Mulvey and his four solid pitches. I think he just might be pitching himself into frontline prospect status this season. His career stats truly compare favorably with the other two during their Minor League careers and he has done nice things in AA. He has only given up one homer in a hitters league in 81 innings this year and only two in his career in slighty less than 100 innings and has been a groundball pitcher so far as well. Also, he has kept lefties in check holding them to a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings though his .290 BAA could use a bit of work.

All in all, the Mets are in a very good position. Just letting everyone come along and stay with the big team could be extremely helpful to them winning multiple championships. The Mets may have done a lot of wrong things from '01 through '05, but they did draft well and the future definitely does look favorable.

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  • Yikes.

    Kevin (Washington, D.C.): "Eric, I am a terrible person. My lovely fiance and I have been together for seven years. About three years ago, her favorite aunt, who was 92 years old, passed away suddenly. She was a wonderful woman. My fiance was broken up about it, as was I. When my fiance (girlfriend at the time) asked me to accompany her to the funeral in New Jersey, I told her that I certainly would, but that's when it hit me that the funeral was going to be the day of my fantasy baseball draft. After agreeing to be with her at the funeral, I had to think of a way to get out of it. After all, this was the only league I was in at the time, and I was the defending champion. The house in New Jersey we would be staying at (her parents) had no Internet service, but I probably wouldn't have had time anyway since our drafts take forever. I contemplated what to do for a day or so, and mentioned my problem to all my co-workers. The consensus was that if I didn't go I am a terrible person. Well, I didn't go. After thinking about excuses, I told her that I really dislike funerals, and that they are too sad and I wouldn't be able to handle it. Eventually, she agreed that she would go to attend without me. I felt awful about the whole thing until the draft ended and my team was awesome. I had the first pick, got Alex Rodriguez, and ended up winning the league again. However, in the process, it solidified the fact that I suck. I am getting married to this girl in September, and she still has no idea the real reason behind me missing the funeral. Since that time, I have attended two of her other relatives' funerals, thinking that maybe that has made up for it. Am I the worst?"

    Eric: I know this is a long e-mail, but I had to run it. Yes, Kevin, you are a terrible person. Priorities, people! We've been talking about how we check our fantasy teams while on vacation, but I think this crosses the line. I've forwarded this blog to your fiancé. Best of luck!

  • I'm sure Yankee fans would have a lot to say about this, but they seem to have issues grasping reality.

    Ryne (Peekskill, NY): For the next 5 years, Mets or Yankees?

    SportsNation Jim Callis: Mets.

  • LoDuca is none too happy with the media attention he's received from his blow up.

    The irascible catcher seemed annoyed his recent meltdown and suspension were receiving so much attention, griping, "I get thrown out of a game and it's bigger news than the war in Iraq."

  • Glavine just missed the Mets first no hitter by one Scott Rolen grounder, but I do not think any of us would have wanted it to come via a rain shortened game. Gomez was also a stud on defense and that really outlines a huge reason why should be out there everyday. Not only has he opened some eyes with his time on the big club with his bat, but his defense is flat out amazing.

  • F-Mart gets DL'd again.

  • Pedro throws a bullpen session and him returning is looking more like a certainty than a possibility these days. The question still remains just how effective he'll be, but given his track record there is certainly reason to believe he will be pretty damn good.

  • The White Sox and Buehrle appear to be close to a deal. That may not be a bad thing because that is not the Mets problem right now. Offense and the bullpen is and with Pedro throwing batting practice, they should wait and see how he progresses before they go trading off useful chips.

  • Meanwhile, the Mets are interested in Jose Contreras. I really cannot support that in any way unless it miraculously has nothing to do with Pelfrey, Humber, Gomez, Fernando, or Lastings. Even Mulvey for that matter. I don't see how he really helps the team and he would certainly cause either The Duque, Maine, or Oliver to be bumped from the rotation after Pedro returns which is just nuts. I don't see the point if someone does not truly help the team and Contreras through '09 does not.

  • < href="http://www.startribune.com/twins/story/1272942.html">Torri Hunter would like to stay with the Twins and might take a hometown discount to do it. Really, I know there are always those people out there who say, "would you take less money to stay at one company vs. leaving?" The answer is yes and that doesn't even matter. These guys have more money than they will ever need and that does factor in heavily to the equation here.
  • Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Evaluating the Manager

    The Great Manager Debate burns on...

    Ben (NYC): Rob, Max Kellerman, whom I know you respect, recently said that a great tactical manager like Billy Martin could be worth 10 wins to a team. If the perfect manager came along, a guy who chose the most productive lineup, used his best relievers in high leverage situations, only called for sacrifices when it made sense percentage-wise, etc, how valuable would he truly be?

    SportsNation Rob Neyer: (12:51 PM ET ) Well, 10 wins relative to what? An average manager? A bad manager? And I'm not even so sure if tactics was Martin's strength; I think the attitude he brought to his teams was probably even more important. But getting back to the root of your question, I would guess a perfect tactical manager probably is worth 6-8 extra wins, relative to an average manager. With the caveat that there's never been a perfect manager.

    I think another appropriate question is just how many average managers there are. One would assume the majority are below average, but the same problem crops up of having no way to calculate these things. You would have to have an impartial judge watch every game and somehow evaluate and score the moves and choices made. How does that happen?

    I do think people would tend to agree that in a close race or series with two evenly matched teams, the manager could tip the scales. Also, it is absolutely conceivable that an excellent manager can help a lesser team overcome a bad manager with a better team. I do wonder if anyone has come up with some sort of crude way to actually evaluate managers outside of wins and losses. Can you take a look at the aggregate VORP of the team and try and see who did the most with what? Would the previous three years of VORP be helpful to see if they maybe had a profound effect on a player or team? Could you keep track his bullpen moves made after the inning started and other moves during the inning to see what type of success he had and compare that to the league average of similar situations?

    I would tend to think this would be one of the most difficult thing to quantify, but I would love to see someone develop some sort of way to evaluate the effectiveness of managers.

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  • Michael Salfino still believes in Delgado as does Benny. I'm still looking for positive signs that he is breaking out, but there just doesn't seem to be much to take away from his game in a positive light at this point.

  • Mr. Billy Wagner is singing Pedro Dos' praise.

    "If we don't have him in that spot we probably don't win that game," said Billy Wagner, who went two innings, striking out three and moving into third place on the all-time strikeout list for lefthanded relievers with 977. "He has pitched above and beyond. He is the best pitcher in that bullpen by far. He goes out there nightly and comes through. He's fun to watch right now."

    Feliciano and Wagner have been the two bright spots out of the bullpen out of an up and down season for the pen.

  • Bob Raissman is grasping for straws here.

  • There is better news in the case of Pedro Martinez. The righthander, recovering from rotator cuff surgery, is scheduled for a bullpen session in Port St. Lucie today. "He could be throwing live batting practice by the end of this week or next week," Minaya said.

    Swellicious. I'm all for looking at Buehrle or another pitcher, but the Mets do not need another pitcher necessarily. It is a luxury and will certainly help bolster the pen by knocking a current starter or two into the pen, but the Mets have leverage in that they are not desperate. Besides, it is tough enough deciding which one pitcher gets moved to the pen much less two.

    More on the Buehrle front:

    The Mets are tracking Mark Buehrle, according to a person familiar with the situation, but they will only trade for the White Sox lefty if they have a 72-hour window to sign the free agent-to-be.

    It certainly looks like Kenny could get a handsome bounty if the Mets can strike a long term deal. However, that would seem to be the problem. While Mark might consider resigning before he hits the market with his current team, it would be a curious move to do it with another team unless they really pay up. The Mets might have to drop 5/$75,000,000 right away and who knows if that will even be enough?

  • Carlos Gomez is getting some love in the papers.

    Minaya said he expected Gomez, the youngest player in the NL at 21, to come this far this fast. When Gomez hit his first homer, on June 10, he was batting just .220. Since then, he is hitting .361 with seven RBI, raising his average from .220 to .279.

    "The ability is there," Minaya said. "He's still developing. For a kid that young to go out and perform, compete, play in a pressure situation like New York, a first-place team, is very impressive."

    Just what the Mets will do with Carlos when Endy and Alou come back is the question. Of course Moises probably has at least a month more to go, but Endy should not factor into the decision. Endy is a fourth outfielder and best used that way while Gomez should be starting everyday. Of course if Willie has anything to say he will probably stick with Ledee since he values grizzled veterans over fresh faced kids that can....you know...actually play.

  • Fun with Joe Morgan:

    Will (Lexington, KY): the reds have young talent for sure, but can they become contenders with the management they have right now?

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: That's a very good question. I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question. But it's a very good question, because I've been asking myself the same question. I'm not as close to the situation as I have been or should be, but I've talked to the owner and he wants to win. I am disappointed in what I've seen so far.

    The Reds stink. When Bruce is up and contributing, Dunn and Griffey will be gone. I don't think they will be good for a while and you can blame them for holding onto Dunn for too long while his stock was highest and trading Kearns for relievers as two large contributing factors. Some teams have just been buried beyond belief by past GMs.

    Bob (Brooklyn): What's more important to evaluate a pitcher: Wins or ERA?

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: I've always believed that an ERA is like a batting average. It's a personal thing. For instance, a guy could hit .300, but not be as valuable as a guy that hits .270. A guy that makes 7 outs out of 10 with guys on base, he's not that valuable. But if you're clutch, but hit .275, you're more valuable. That's why I think wins are better. It's just as tough to win a game 7-6 as it is 1-0. The only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many games did we win.

    Wins Joe? WINS? And they pay this guy...

    Kyle (Kansas): What is the most overrated stat in baseball?

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: Batting average and earned run average and this OPS stuff they do. OPS doesn't tell you anything except about the individual. The same as the other stats. It doesn't tell you anything about the team. A .300 average doesn't help you win games, run production does.

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: I'm not saying those numbers don't mean anything, I'm saying they're overglorified.

    Aren't we trying to evaluate the individual?

    Chad (Austin, TX): Joe, How come you never got into coaching or managing?

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: Well, it's a situation that's never been right for me. There have always been other things going on. It's never been the right situation to pull me in.

    The real reason? Just reread the above quotes from the brilliant Joe Morgan.

    Billy (Michigan): Hey Joe, Who is your MVP for the AL and NL?

    SportsNation Joe Morgan: I think in the NL it's open, but Prince Fielder and JJ Hardy come to mind. Jose Reyes. I think several guys have a chance.

    Did he and Brennaman have a quick call before the chat? Hardy is probably not even a top five at this point.

    Reyes, Peavy, Holliday, Fielder, and Brad Penny would be my top five choices in no particular order. Then the next tier would be Utley and Cabrera with Wright playing his way into the picture.

  • Antony...I never read the comments, but I was at the game. FYI...I'm at every Sunday game (unless a wedding or funeral comes up or in September when I'll be hunting Hippopotamus on the Serengeti) and I will be tailgating. I am always in the last spot on the water side of the parking lot. I may or may not have a shirt on and will most likely be drunk. Feel free to stop by! No purchasing me beers will be necessary.

    Oh, and my seats are always Loge, Section 20, Row A, seats 9 and 10. I'm the good looking guy in 10 and the goofy kid in 9 will be my 'friend'.
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    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Where Art Thou Pedro?

    They may not have be winning, but least they were having fun!

    "What's killing us is we don't have that energy on the field or in the clubhouse," is what Billy Wagner was saying during batting practice Wednesday. He was talking about the way the Mets have been pushed around lately, by the Dodgers, the Yankees, and by Johan Santana on Tuesday.

    It's hard to believe the current meltdown – they've lost 13 of 16 after Wednesday night's 6-2 loss to the Twins – would've been this long or this ugly if Pedro had been around. Wagner said as much when he noted, "We don't have that one guy in here who guys get all excited about.

    "Not even Glavine, the way he carries himself, does that. With Pedro, it's like his charisma rubs off on people. It's like, 'Yeah, Pedro's pitching today.' We could use that."

    This was a quote from Billy Wagner last week and it is disturbing. Winning has a way of creating happiness and makes a clubhouse seem lively even if it’s not, but a flat attitude could spell disaster for the Mets this season. The Mets truly looked like they were having fun last season and that truly appeared to be a huge part of their success. As Klapisch pointed out, it is strange to think that could be the case when you look up and down this roster, but I guess it is possible there are just too many even keeled people on this team without one true leader and not one guy that everyone looks to for inspiration or looks to for some much needed levity.

    Wright certainly looked like that guy and the word on the street is that Willie is a good motivator, but lots of things have come to light in regards to Willie during that horrendous streak the Mets went through that people are starting to see. Even my friend who is a staunch supporter and rescued Willie's bobblehead from my garbage is starting off conversations with "what he hell is Willie thinking?" Of course it is easy to dissect and pick apart things that contribute to losses, but I think some things have become clear.

    Willie’s bullpen use is erratic. His lineups are mind bending at times. Granted this team should produce no matter in what order they are arranged, but they haven't and Willie has at points put this team in rough spot to score runs by not optimizing their lineup. His inability to determine when his starters are done is also hampering the team and letting games get away. Every Tom Glavine start aside, him sending Ollie out there in the sixth at about 98 pitches after five laborious innings was curious in Perez’s start against the Twins. I know you do not want to tax the bullpen, but the game was a close game and they simply needed to get back on the wagon by winning a series. Why send Ollie back out when the chances of him making it through are slim? Why make him throw 110+ pitches if he has struggled mightily through five? I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. I turned off the game at that point.

    Finally on Sunday, Willie had Easley in right and Gomez in left. Now, Easley is not exactly a butcher out there and has been solid in the outfield this season, but why isn't the better fielder of Gomez and Easley in right? Small gripe here that didn't affect the outcome of the game, but that is a no brainer that was glazed over. To me, that is elementary and though I can maybe see Willie's thought process of wanting to leave Gomez there since that is where he'll be spending the most of his time, Carlos has played fifteen in right and twelve in left. He is officially a backup at any of the outfield spots as is Easley and should be more than capable with to switch back and forth. The better fielder should always be in right field and that is a simple decision in my eyes unless Green is out there.

    Overall, the Mets are seemingly back on track at this point but the horrific stretch they went through shows that this team is perhaps not as good as we thought they were. They recovered some runs on their run differential, but the lack of production from Delgado and the bullpen is a big issue for the Mets. At this point, they are getting no power from right, left, or first base and Beltran is no longer hitting so much that it makes up for a weaker hitting guy at your typical power spots. Some of this will get alleviated when Moises returns, but it is still going to be a lingering issue and especially an issue if Moises just cannot stay on the field. Their rotation is proving to be fine, though another arm would be great and would free up Sosa for the bullpen, but there are other issues here.

    It is a good thing Omar is a tireless worker and continually looks for ways to improve the team even in times of prosperity. The Mets should not be happy with their current configuration and should look to tweak things a bit if they plan on making a legitimate run at the World Series. Their starting pitching is solid, but not good enough to ride through the playoffs. They will need a need a deep team and consistent offensive production to go along with the quality starts that this team has been throwing up there on a consistent basis. The good news is there is time to figure this all out as not one other team in the NL East has a positive run differential and the Mets should see little resistance in getting to the playoffs.

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  • Let’s keep beating this dead horse.

    Rob (London, UK): Keith: What do you expect from Billingsly as a starter? How difficult is the transition from the bullpen mid year? Don't know much about his stuff. If he only had one or two good pitches it may explain his success in relief.

    SportsNation Keith Law: Two very good pitches, chance for a third average pitch. I think the time in the bullpen is going to help him - it's the old Earl Weaver plan, break a kid in as a reliever (or, in this case, re-break him in) before moving him to the rotation. I think he'll be a big help if they let him make 20 starts the rest of the way.

    We've talked about the above topic in this space time and time again. One has to wonder how that would not be the proper path for Pelfrey to follow at this point. He has nothing to prove at AAA, but cannot really cut it as a starter in the bigs just yet. He has one '+' pitch and two other fringe ones. Do you think he should be able to excel in one inning spurts? Do you think his groundball tendencies might be nice when a double play is need from a reliever? It is extremely possible he can succeed out of the bullpen in ‘07 and I don't think he should get sent back down after his spot start. This pen needs something and Vargas and Humber are not exactly lighting the world on fire and have not earned a look at this point.

  • Also from the above link:

    Brian (Brooklyn): Name one guy still in the minors who could be an MVP within the next 5 years. Longoria?

    SportsNation Keith Law: Maybin would be the top choice. Other names: Adam Jones, Fernando Martinez (struggling this year), Jose Tabata (if his power develops as I expect).


    Andy (chicago): In your estimation what is the top 5 farm systems?

    SportsNation Keith Law: Again, in no particular order, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Boston, Arizona, and the Mets. These are heavily impacted by promotions, though, so the fact that, say, Colorado's not on there any more is more of a reflection of the fact that Tulowitzki and Iannetta are in the big leagues than a decline in their talent level.

    I'm assuming Law is going off impact prospect because I cannot see how the Mets are a top five system. Nevertheless, it is good to read.

  • Are we seeing the next Chuck Norris spin-off phenomenon in the making?

    nilsaparker (6/21/2007 at 5:03 PM)

    Are you trying to anger The Haren? I hope The Haren doesn't read this blog entry because he may very well decide not to allow any more hitters to reach base. Fear The Haren.

    That was from Neyer's last blog on him....

    Fear the Haren...go head. You know you want to.

  • LoDuca laying it down. You know what? Swagger is used way too much lately in the sports world. I started hearing it when Kobe was in the playoffs years ago and it has been used so often it is like nails on the chalkboard for me. Bravado is much better and the Mets certainly need some. LoDuca wanted five of the next seven games and at this point, they are well on their way to doing that.

  • As Joel Sherman pointed out, it is no longer early for Carlos Delgado. The longer it goes on, the less of a mystery it is. Some guys just fall off the cliff in terms of production and ability while others lose it slowly. Every game that goes by that Carlos is invisible, it is becoming clearer and clearer as to what the problem is.

    His .289 OBP is beyond bad and his glove is not exactly carrying his bat. I really liked Shawn Green getting the start at first. While he is not exactly putting up numbers you'd like to see from a corner outfielder or a first baseman, he is at least producing. Carlos cannot keep playing everyday and when Alou comes back, Willie should be rotating people in and out. Gomez or Milledge should be getting inserted into right with Green shifting to first a few times a week to try and get maximize production. Also, it may be time to slip Delgado further down the lineup and it will be especially time when Alou returns, which may never happen at this point.

  • If Smoltz and Jones taking jabs at each other in the newspapers does not illustrate the end of an era then I do not know what does.

  • Can we all point and laugh at Thom Bennaman?

    Let's take a look at the All-Star voting. We'll begin in the National League, where Carlos Beltran is the leading vote-getter, followed closely by Junior, and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano does not deserve to be there. David Wright at third. Jose Reyes does not deserve to be the starter; that should be J.J. Hardy. No quarrels on the right side: Chase Utley and big Prince Fielder, and there is no debate that Russell Martin should be the catcher.

    This is such a pervasive problem with the one-day-a-week-ers. They simply fail to exhibit extensive knowledge of the sport as a whole and are completely uninterested in looking at any stats other than wins, era, average, homers, and RBIs. They also rarely pay attention to player trends as well and fail to notice when someone's numbers look so great because of six weeks of play as in Hardy's case and has been ok since.

    For the most part, you are talking about guys who do one game a week and have the entire week to prepare for their game. The saddest part not only is that these guys just don’t take an hour out of their day to comb through the league (and that is reaaaaly sad), but it is that there are probably more casual fans watching those games and certainly more fans from other teams that receive false information from these telecasts from 'experts' who make their false statements with such conviction. Out of all of the possibilities and commentators out there, the guys they have put forth are just horrible. Instead of maybe talking up a Matt Holliday or Miguel Cabrera to try and garner more votes for them, they use their ability to reach vast numbers of fans to propagate false information. Not so swell.
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