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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ridiculous Item of the Day

If anyone needs another reason to dislike the BBWAA, here you go.

Bet you can't guess which two players had the biggest percentage increases. Don Mattingly got 59 percent more votes this year (86) than last (54). And Dale Murphy got 50 percent more votes this year (75) than last (50).

Murphy collected 96, 116 and 93 votes respectively in his first three elections, then plummeted all the way down to 43 in 2004 and hadn't been above 58 since 2002. So maybe his impassioned stand against The Steroid Generation is helping him.

Mattingly has had a similar history. He got 145 votes in his first election (2001), then steadily cliff-dived until he'd lost nearly 100 of those votes. He hadn't gotten this many votes since 2002. Any theories on him? Ya got me.

Wow. Mattingly gets a 59% increase for no apparent reason, which is only one part of the problem. The other problem is that there are 86 people that actually think Don Mattingly is a Hall of Famer. He has zero business still being on the ballot at this point and that is not necessarily a knock on him. He was an extremely good player, but he is a tier below the Hall of Fame with the Albert Belle's of the world.

He had four really tremendous Hall of Fame-type years and two really good years. The rest? Ok. Nothing great. He also was a perennial Gold Glover, which factors into the equation as well. I guess I really should not be shocked since these are the same people that gave him MVP votes in '94 and '95 with a .291/.364/.445 line with 27 homers and 86 RBIs and a .304/.397.411 line in 97 games in each season respectively.

I think you could make a case for guy like him who had a really short period of dominance, but you would need to be historically good over that period. Say like Bonds' stretch of four years when he had an OPS+ of 205, 204, 183, and 168 or his roided up years of an OPS+ of 259, 268, 231, and 263. I actually liked Mattingly back in the day and it was really fun to have him paired up with Hernandez in New York city back in the day, but I think everyone needs to move on instead of needlessly keeping him on the ballot.

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  • Just as an aside off of the above, I think that Don Mattingly is generally regarded as the better of Hernandez and Mattingly by non-Met fans. However, Hernandez's defense was so much better, it really catapulted him past Mattingly. Keith amassed over 40 more wins according to WARP1 over the course of their careers which is pretty significant.

    It should be noted that Keith did play three years more than Donnie Baseball, but you could take Mattingly's best year and multiply that by three and he would still fall short of Hernandez, who actually has a better case at the Hall because he was historically good at first base. I am not saying he should be in, just that he actually has a better case.

    Here is and an old argument for his Hall of Fame bid. The article also mentions that Keith Hernandez might have been the best fielding first baseman of all time.

    Some quick hits from another interesting discussion on the topic:
    • Jessie Orosco had absolutely nothing left, and Carter and Hernandez went to the mound to discuss how to pitch to Kevin Bass. Hernandez said to Carter, "You call one fastball, and we're fighting."

    • Bill James speaks to this at length in the Bill Buckner comment of the NBJHBA. He doesn't have play-by-play data to provide completely accurate stats, but agrees that the ability to throw out runners at a base other than first is a crucial part of evaluating first basemen's fielding, and comes up with a simple way to estimate the data, at least for teams, if not individual players.

      His comment about the effectiveness of the method is that "Keith Hernandez' teams, both in St. Louis and New York, had huge, huge numbers of assists by the first basemen other than to the pitcher."

      The specific example he gives is 1979, where the league average was 22. The Cardinals, primarily Hernandez, had 44, which led the league; the Dodgers, primarily Garvey, had 10.

    • I'll just post here comments from Michael Humphreys, the creator of Defensive Regression Analysis (DRA), on Hernández (hope that's OK, Michael) which suggest he should deserve extremely strong HoM consideration. I myself probably won't be voting for him, but food for thought...

      "First baseman can definitely save more than 5 runs...UZR shows some guys +/- 15 or 20 runs. Considering his fielding, his demonstrable skill at getting the lead baserunner, turning double plays, soft hands that probably reduced throwing errors, plus whatever calming effect he had on the Mets pitching staff '84-'86, I have no trouble penciling in 20 runs per season for several of Keith's seasons."

      Also, I'm going to keep asking for data on what % of major league regulars were fighting in 1918, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 46 until someone answers me!
    The discussion actually has some people who are members of the BBWAA and they actually seem to be digging for answers as to whether he is a hallworthy or not. Every voter should be made to do so.

  • It looks like the Phillies and Ryan Howard are having trouble finding a middle ground. Howard obviously is not a hometown discount guy if he is asking for $10 million for his first year of arbitration and this probably does not bode well for the Phillies desire to keep him around.

    I think he will be putting himself out there when his time is up unless the Phillies work something out now. Lets say, buy out the rest of his arbitration and add two more years? I think in that scenario, he would take the $7 million they are looking to offer him. If he passes on that, the Phillies probably will not be retaining his services after his six years are up.

  • You have to like this move for the Rockies. Tulo is going to be a bargain for them over the next six years.

  • Aaron Heilman and the Mets avoided aribtration by inking a $1.2 million deal with the Mets. That is a great deal for the Mets and I just want to remind everyone how useless Heilman was starting to look before turning into a vital part of this team. Just remember that when thinking about Humber and Pelfrey.

    Also within the above piece:

    Church gained eligibility although his service time is less than three years -- he has two years, 152 days. But he is identified as a Super Two, a player whose time falls in the upper 17 percent of all players with at least two years, but less that three years of service. As part of the settlement of the 1990 lockout, Super Two players gained arbitration rights.

    A bit of more proof that Church is probably better than people think. If he continues to be in the top 17 percent, he will be a type A free agent which certainly means he is a pretty good ballplayer.

  • A little Pedro talk...

    Omar (Shea Stadium): How healthy is Pedro Martinez, and how productive will he be this year?

    Will Carroll: C'mon ... use your name, people.

    Pedro is doing well. I recently heard that he's starting his normal throwing program at home and feels much like he did at the end of last year. I'd expect similar results, which were far better than I actually expected.

    I am very optimistic about him. Look, I get why people are skeptical, but he returned and posted an over 10 k/9. He got surgery, rehabbed, and came back. I see no reason why he cannot be a front end talent in '08. When I look at the Mets next season, I think he is being overlooked a bit and will truly be a difference maker for this team. Of course, he needs to watch his pitches so he does not get overworked by the end of the season, but treated right he should be there for the long haul.
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    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Over Exaggerated

    Chris (Hoboken, NJ): Am I wrong for calling Ryan Church a platoon OF, and Brian Shcneider a backup catcher?

    Keith Law: Correct on both counts.

    I think calling Ryan Church a platoon player was a bit harsh. He ranked 16th overall in OPS out of every qualified outfielder in the National League. There were 26 overall that were qualified and he outhit Andruw Jones, Bill Hall, Mike Cameron, Chris Young, Austin Kearns, Shane Victorino, Brian, Giles, and Frenchy. Sure they are all not corner outfielders and others supply more than just hitting, but the guy was decent last year.

    He was tied for 3rd in doubles despite have about 150 at-bats less than Holliday, Rowand, and Lee. Of course we are talking about guys that still hit 15 to 30 more XBHs with those extra at-bats, but he still hit an extra base hit once every 7.97 at-bats which beats out Lee's 8.25 and Rowand's 8.50. Holliday led the NL with on extra base hit every 6.91 at-bats, but I was shocked to see that Church was actually 7th overall and placed ahead of Carlos Beltran who just missed being in the 7's with an 8.03. For his career, he has hit an extra base hit once every 8.59 at-bat.

    If you look at OPS+, it improves his standing a bit and he slides into 12th with 114, which is a touch behind Josh Willingham at 115 and behind Ken Griffy Jr. with 119. If you take a look at his WARP1 with the same cast of characters, he slides to 8th beating out Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Cameron, Shane Victorino, Jeff Franceour, Andruw Jones, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe, Pat Burrell, Carlos Lee, Brian Giles, Chris Young, Jason Bay, Bill Hall, and a few others.

    This was a rather crude look and admittedly compares him against players who had a down year in 2007, but even when you factor that in and consider some people had fluky years in which they vastly played over their historical lines, Church does has value as a player that stretches beyond a platoon player. His '07 splits were not indicitive of his three year splits and he hits an acceptable .259 against lefties with an .742 OPS. Obviously there is room for improvement there, but hardly screams platoon player. Just as a reference point, Griffy hit .241 and .770 respectively against lefties over the same period of time. If you look at his '07 alone, he might seem like a platoon candidate and while I do not dismiss the fact he might be, I am willing to give him some more time before I come to that conclusion.

    I do think Church could surprise a little bit in 2008 and Met fans will like him. However, people that were not fans of the trade that brought him here have to seperate the two things. Calling him a platoon player is selling him a bit short and bit unfair at this point. Just an aside, Milledge hit .246 and .703 against righties over 2006 and 2007 and while I will not deny his upside and who will be better in 2010, 2008 should have Church being the better of two.

    As for Schneider, he was still more valuable than LoDuca last season and I suspect that will continue in '08. However, he is certainly not all that far off from being a backup, but isn't that why he is being paired with Ramon Castro? In terms of an improvement over '07, Castro/Schneider is one, however small. I do not believe we should use anything else to evaluate his inclusion on the team outside of last year as a barometer. We all agree that it was a bad trade and Milledge and Estrada might have been more optimal, but I cannot stress enough that they do improve the team in the short term.

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  • Despite getting on my bad side, Law does gives F-Mart some love with some pretty impressive company being mentioned.

    Todd, San Diego : Keith, Of these players, who has the highest ceiling- Jordan Schafer, Fernando Martinez, Colby Rasmus, Matt LaPorta?

    Keith Law: (1:31 PM ET ) In order: Martinez, Rasmus, Schafer, LaPorta.

    Rasmus is arguably one of the five best minor leaguers at this point and Schafer and LaPorta are pretty damn good as well.

  • It looks like Fernando is gone. I have no reason to believe he'll be around come opening day which sucks since he might be the best prospect being mentioned in any trade discussion the Twins are having. If F-Mart goes, Guerra has to stay.


  • Thursday, January 17, 2008

    The Santana Babble Continues

    I would apologize for my absence, but that would insinuate that I actually think I am important so I will skip that. However, I could not resist jumping back into the Johan Santana fray since that is all that seems to be going around these days. First, this tasty link.

    Without Martinez, a 19-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder who jumped from rookie level to Double A last season, the Mets’ deal is too young for the Twins to gamble on, unless they were feeling lucky.

    “If the Twins wanted to roll the dice, the Mets’ offer (with Martinez) could be the best deal,” Callis said.

    Martinez is still three or four years away from being ready for the majors.

    “(But his) offensive potential is significant,” Manuel said.

    With Mauer, Morneau, Young, Slowey, etc. in the fold today and productive today, the Twins really cannot afford to gamble on young guys. However, the simple fact is the Mets talent could be the best, but they are taking a leap of faith and would have to place a lot of trust into their scouting department.

    Chris (Hoboken, NJ): Ok Mr. Callis, I got a bone to pick with you. Every week you?re kind enough to answer the general what will it take for the Mets to acquire Johan, and some set of Mets prospects is thrown out for you to comment on, to which you always reply the Mets prospects aren?t enough for Johan. However, this week, you were quoted as saying that ?If the Twins wanted to roll the dice, the Mets? offer could be the best deal. (Martinez?s) offensive potential is significant. (He?s) a special offensive player?he can do anything he wants offensively.? So let me ask you, is F-mart, C-Gomez, K Mulvey, D. Guerrra, and P Humber enough or too much to get Johan? How would that offer compare to the Sox and Yanks offers, assuming one of Ellsbury, Hughes or Lester is included? Oh, and go buy the 2008 handbook!

    Jim Callis: Wait a minute, Chris. I never said Martinez can do anything he wants offensively. In that article in the Boston Herald, I said the Mets' offer potential could be the best -- if it includes Martinez, Guerra and Gomez AND they all reach their potential. That's a big IF, because there's a significant gap between their present abilities and their ceilings. If someone wanted to gamble, that could be a big payoff. But you also could be left holding the bag if only one of those guys pans out as hoped. The problem with the Mets' packages is that Humber and Pelfrey have diminished value, Mulvey is interesting but not a frontline pitcher and their best players lack a lot of polish because they're so young. And yes, go buy the Handbook!

    Of course, I am not interested in putting both Gomez and Fernando in there and would prefer to keep Fernando over Gomez, but it is not up to me and it seems like if the Mets can smell blood, they are going to go in for the kill. The temptation is seemingly just too strong, but I think they should stand firm and keep Fernando and let them figure the rest out. It is not their problem the Twins would prefer more big league ready plays and they just need to offer whatever is they can.

    Concur! Get it done Omar…let sleeping dogs lie…..this is by far the most important winter of your career and all we have to show for it is Ryan Church, Brian Schneider, and Luis Castillo. Let’s not kid ourselves here….last year’s collapse was a complete embarrassment to the organization and to the fan base.

    The above is from a commenter from somewhere on the interweb. Scary, right? The fact is all three of those guys do improve this ballclub over the '07 version by being on the opening day roster from day one, which is Omar's job. To actually improve this ballclub however he can improve it and not necessarily to do it a fan pleasing manner. Bill Smith should take note of that as well.

    Even if everything else is kept equal and if Pedro can give some Glavine-esque league average innings, Church alone probably adds slightly more than three wins when you factor in his glove, which would have gotten the Mets into the playoffs.

    The Mets were not all that far from the playoffs and while a huge addition like Santana will add about eights wins if Pedro can replace Glavine's production, Omar can get where he wants to go by adding peripheral pieces and filling in the cracks. One method gets you more ink, but you simply have to balance the future out.

    I guess if the Mets felt like they had to go for it in '08 and '09, then whatever. Liquidate away, but this team has enough youth that should be poised for an extended run, which I would prefer. I have hit my saturation point with Mulvey, Humber, Gomez, and Guerra being the offer.

    You may be asking yourself if Fernando should really be the straw that breaks the camels back and I say yes. Absolutely, yes. Without him, the Mets literally have no impact players on the horizon for possibly another four seasons aside from a reliever or two. I get the fact the Mets have three of the top thirty three picks, but to put your faith in three guys that have not been picked yet is shortsighted. That is a dangerous place to be and I fully expect Martinez to be an extremely valuable player. Getting seven or eight wins at the league minimum or under market price is a necessity these days.

    For me, Fernando and Mulvey would be able to match Santana in wins that they bring to the table as soon as 2010. That does not even factor in the huge disparity in money paid to Johan and the money that the Mets need to fill those two holes on the market. That even dismisses the existence of Humber and Gomez. This all boils down to just how more important '08 and '09 is when compared to '10 and beyond.

    You would not find many people who argue that Santana is better for this team immediately than all of those players combined, but you can certainly make an argument long term as to what deal is better. The Twins have a valuable commodity in Johan, but they need to understand that whatever team gets him gets one year under market and then pays out the nose.

    The bottom line for the Twins is, do they think they have a shot to win it all this year? Do they believe the deals on the table bring them back more value than a late first round pick and a sandwich pick? The correct answers are 'no' and 'yes'. Popular move or not, the Twins would be getting value back from the Mets and I hope Omar plays his cards right. Also, With CC Sabathia and the Indians negotiations looking suspect, one has to wonder if this will weigh on the Mets minds as they move forward.

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  • Mike and the Dog are douchebags who just will not admit when they do not know something or are wrong. The other day, Mad Dog was talking about how hard the ground is going to be in Green Bay and how much it will affect the game.

    You would expect him to know what he is talking about, right? Nope. Chaz Palminteri had to call in to tell them they actually heat the ground so it should be a nice and soft field since they keep it at about 55 degrees.

    After that, Mike proceeded along as if he knew this all along when he actually said nothing about it in the previous ten minutes of Mad Dog's rant. These two babbling idiots truly anger me for the simple fact that they are lazy. Give me a job where I just need to know sports and I will have a bit of a clue.

  • There was a joke article saying Juan Gonzalez signed with the Yankees, but it turns out that it was not too far fetched.

  • The Rangers signed Jason Jennings and that is a solid deal for them. They are always looking for pitching and he is a good pitcher that could really fit in well down there.

  • The Stache is back. Low risk move that could be nice. I do not really have much to say either way on this one.

  • Dumbest article ever? Perhaps.
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