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

Friday, February 08, 2008

The New Richard Justice?

Rich Hofmann probably does not believe this himself and I do understand he needs to write articles and I do understand what team he is writing for. However, you cannot help but sense a bit a jealousy.

After all, they have not been able to snag a big time free agent since Jim Thome waaaaaaay back in 2003. The funny part about that one is they traded him after the 2005 season because they blocked one of their only remaining offensive prospects. Good job. In their defense, not many people really thought Ryan Howard was going to be as good as he is.

I mean, Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton, and Wes Helms are not exactly great reasons to have big press conferences, but rest assured, if the Phillies signed anyone of any skill, they would have one. Sure, they traded for Mr. Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge, but that is hardly of the magnitude of signing a player that is the best of best to a long term contract while still in their prime.

The news conference seemed to have seating for about 200 or so, and plenty of people were standing. The luncheon menu featured chicken and beef satay, rice pilaf, pasta, green salad and gourmet sandwiches. The festivities were broadcast live on two television stations, one radio station and two Web sites (mets.com and losmets.com).

First, a video was shown that featured all manner of New Yorkers, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Chris Rock to Jerry Seinfeld, proclaiming their city as the greatest place in the history of places. It was all very understated, as per the local custom.

Then Santana arrived and was introduced by general manager Omar Minaya. Then they lined up for pictures - ownership, manager Willie Randolph, everybody smile now. A public-relations functionary had them turn to the dozens of exploding still cameras, and then to the other cameras over there, and then, could the still cameras please kneel down so the television cameras in the back could get a clear shot? Turn this way, turn that way; the guy had the group pose for everybody with a camera except Google Earth.

Who dates a hot chick and tells her to hide out in the basement? You would have preferred some low key function with little fanfare with some Blimpie subs? I mean, it is not like the Mets have a rabid fan base that they need to placate. But who cares about them? They are just the customers who are paying Johan's salary.

The Mets themselves said all of the right things - third baseman David Wright said the Phillies were still the team to beat in the National League East, as did Randolph - but this was quite the welcome for Santana, the two-time Cy Young winner. And listening to the radio on the way home, you could tell it was clear that all of the pomp and circumstance has led Mets fans to the inescapable conclusion that they already have won the World Series, before the first golf club has been shipped to spring training.

If they said the right things, why are you even complaining? It is not like they were spouting off that they were the team to beat like the Phillies did after not winning anything. Sure, Rollins was right, but I am pretty sure he that was not how he scripted it in his head. As for the rest? Conjecture! Unsubstantiated claims! Who said the Mets are locks to win the World Series?

I do believe the Mets have a long way to go before any World Series win and I may not be a smart person, but I am probably pretty sure that Johan helps the cause, which is the point. Why must people attempt to quell our giddiness? Why are we not allowed to enjoy this momentous occasion in which a perfectly manicured man has come into our lives?

And, in that spirit, Santana raised his hands at one point and showed off all the World Series rings he won in Minnesota.

Let's add up the World Series rings from everyone on the Philly roster. Umm...None? Not one? I can see the relevance.

Still, with everything, it is hard to believe that last season will be so easily forgotten. Maybe Santana will be great and Pedro Martinez will be unusually healthy and Jose Reyes will mature a couple of years in a couple of months and Carlos Delgado will find himself again, and nobody will notice that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are all better than the corresponding guys in the New York uniforms. Maybe all of that will happen and the Mets will get off to a hot start and never look back. It is a clear possibility.

But if it doesn't go like that...if it is a summer long gut fight with the Phillies and Braves...if Martinez grabs his (insert body part here), as has become routine...if Santana joins the long list of free agents who come to New York and struggle at the beginning...

Pedro might be 'unusually healthy'? Weird. Actually, him being unhealthy was the unusual thing. But good thing for us developed countries, we have doctors and medicine and stuff that can make ouchies go bye-bye.

Jose Reyes need not mature. He needs to simply continue to be the most dynamic player in the universe. Maybe he slumped at the wrong time, but are we now supposed to give up on a 25 year old who still made great strides last year with his ability to get on base? 77 walks to 78 strikeouts! For Jose Reyes, that would have been impossible to think about in 2003, but let us ignore progress for the sake of making arguments about maturity that you cannot prove nor can be disproved.

Utley, Rollins, and Howard better than the 'corresponding guys' in New York? Did anyone contest that they were not better as a group than Castillo, Reyes, and Delgado? I am not even sure what he is talking here because those are the corresponding guys. I am completely lost. Perhaps he is speaking about Beltran, Reyes, and Wright against his local trio? Well, let us play along and see how they all stack up over the last two years.
        Win Shares  Warp1
Mets 184 167
Phils 48.7 47.2
Hmmm...A few things jumped out yet again to me. The 2006 MVP had seven less Win Shares than Beltran and was 2.7 behind in WARP1. Interesting, but we know the voters like when things go boom. In fact, you could have made a pretty good case he was the second best player on his own team, which is not exactly a dig, but worth noting. Also, the 2007 MVP had six less win shares and was 1.2 behind in WARP1 than the true MVP in David Wright.

That being said, it would be silly to sit here and call any trio better than the other. It is a win/win situation. They are all young and have long and prosperous years ahead of them. Debating any of it is completely and utterly ridiculous as you really could not lose with any of them over the next four years, which brings me to my next point. Why solely focus on the three best position players? Should we not examine what the key moves have been this off-season?

Phillies: Acquired Pedro Feliz, Brad Lidge, and Geoff Jenkins while losing Aaron Rowand and Kyle Lohse.
Mets: Acquired Ryan Church, Brian Schnieder, and Johan Santana while losing Tom Glavine, Shawn Green, Paul LoDuca, and Lastings Milledge. They also get a full year worth of Pedro Martinez.

Hmmmm...Let us think about this for a second. When I look at it that way, I can certainly see why Rich decided to be envious and solely focused on comparing Utley, Howard, and Rollins to Castillo, Delgado, and Reyes, which as nonsensical as it sounds, certainly seems to be what he is implying. He has only one quantifiable way that suggest the Mets are inferior to the Phillies, so I cannot blame him and anyone poo-poo'ing this deal from the Mets perspective has completely lost their perspective.

Finally, has '7/17' now become the rallying cry of the Philly Phans (get it? I replaced the 'f' in 'fans' with a 'ph')? If so, that is rather weak. There simply is not much for them to hold over our heads, huh? It was a bad collapse, but at the very least the Mets did manage to make it out of the first round in 2006, not that it was a crowing achievement. How about this, we make it best two out of three? Whoever wins in 2008 can brag all they want.

* * *

  • There are plenty of good tidbits in Jayson Stark's latest blog.
    • Gee, I wonder what Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Livan Hernandez and Orlando Hernandez have in common."
    • Hey, glad you asked -- because the Useless Information Department is here to tell you exactly what they have in common. Here's a trivia question you'll never, ever get: Outside of the Big Unit, who's the only other left-handed starting pitcher in history to run up a better single-season strikeout ratio than Bedard did last year? No, not Johan Santana. It's Johan's new teammate, Oliver Perez, of course. He punched out 10.97 per nine innings for the 2004 Pirates.
    Yes, I am sure that will be in Boras' binder.
    • Since Johan Santana moved into the Twins' rotation to stay on July 11, 2003, he has the best ERA (2.92) of any left-handed pitcher in baseball. Guess how many left-handers are even within three-quarters of a run of him? How about three:
      • Andy Pettitte, 3.56
      • Scott Kazmir, 3.64
      • C.C. Sabathia, 3.66
  • I'm not going to lie. That still stings a bit.

  • From Ossy:

    Roughly a week before pitchers and catchers are due to report to spring training, the Herald has learned today that right-hander Curt Schilling has a significant shoulder injury that could end the veteran right-hander’s season and is causing tension and friction between the player and club.

    While neither Schilling nor Sox officials could be reached for comment, baseball sources have indicated that the club has at least inquired about the possibility of voiding the one-year, $8 million contract Schilling signed last November. It is not known to what lengths the Sox have gone on the matter, but their threat has been serious enough to create a conflict between Schilling and the Red Sox.

    Should Schilling really be all that shocked that the Red Sox are a bit miffed they are spending $8 million for him to possibly never play for them again? I mean, it would be different if it was the last year of a multi-year pact, but this is a ridiculous.

    I guess this means the Red Sox are going to be pretty dependent on Buccholz and Lester. I have to say, this changes things a bit. Schilling, while no ace anymore, was still going to help pitch in with some consistent innings. Relying on two guys who have yet to put up with the rigors of an entire big league season is dicey at best. Although, I guess this evens out the playing field a bit with the Red Sox and the Yankees.

  • Ryan Church gets $2 million and avoids arbitration.

  • Are we really talking an option in 2014?

  • If you want to read an article that I sense was written to make Mets fans feel inferior, by all means, read on.

  • Martinez explains the cockfighting video.

    "I understand that people are upset, but this is part of our Dominican culture and it is legal in the Dominican Republic," Martinez said in a statement. "I was invited by my idol Juan Marichal to attend the event as a spectator and not as a participant."

    Juan Marichal? Under the bus.

    Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said the two players "exhibited appallingly bad judgment ... It doesn't excuse the behavior to find a legal haven for this reprehensible and inhumane conduct. It's animal cruelty no matter where it occurs."

    I do not particularly condone two cocks in such close proximity, but it is not like he sought out this safe haven. He lives there.

  • Two top prospects for Blanton? Ooooooo... That hurts. I know Blanton has oodles and oodles of value when you factor in his contract, league average innings, and age. And Blanton + Hattenberg > Votto + whomever else is starting.....at least in 2008.

    Blanton and Hattenberg basically bring about twelve wins and Votto as a rookie might not bring that much with whomever is that other starter. Also, you have to factor in the fact Hattenberg is still on the team and probably would be playing over Votto even if he was there. I would guess that Livan is not an option due to cost, but he would represent a three loss difference with Hattenberg in the fold.

    That is a tough decision. I love Cueto, Bailey, and Votto and would have a hard time giving them up for three wins in '08. Of course, if they have no intention of actually bringing in Livan, it could be a four or five win swing. The real problem here is are the Reds appropriately estimating their shot of competing?

    Blanton is no ace and would not tip the scales enough in my eyes as I think the Cubs are really, really good. That is before the Brian Roberts deal, if it goes through. My advice to Wayne? See if you can get Livan on a one year deal to eat innings and keep the kids. For the marginal difference in wins, you will thank me in 2008.
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    Thursday, February 07, 2008

    Futile But Fun

    Dayn Perry goes over his list of the worst starting players by position.

    To be honest, I thought I would see Brian Schneider on this list unjustly. There are worse and sure enough, Mr. Perry agreed.

    C — Jason Kendall, Brewers
    Kendall narrowly edges out Paul Lo Duca for worst catcher. In 2007, Kendall "hit" .242 AVG/.301 OBP/.309 SLG and tallied only 24 extra-base hits in 514 plate appearances. Unless you're a pitcher, those power numbers are patently unacceptable. That's to say nothing of Kendall's poor throwing arm behind the plate. At age 33, he doesn't figure to improve going forward.

    LoDuca was the other choice and it is funny because people are still harping on him being an offensively superior player than Brian. Right. Perry did get it right here as Kendall actually added negative value.

    One of the bigger mysteries in the universe is why GMs prefer guys like him to the Geovany Soto's of the world. One is a known quantity whose name you have heard, but at least the Soto-type players represent hope, upside, and possibly positive value.

    1B — Kevin Millar, Orioles
    Last season, the 36-year-old Millar hit .254 AVG/.365 OBP/.420 SLG, while the average major-league first baseman hit .276 AVG/.357 OBP/.463 SLG. Millar took his walks, but that's about all he did in 2007. Throw in the fact that he's a liability with the glove and on the bases, and you've got a player who would be best deployed as nothing more than a pinch-hitter against lefties.

    Kevin Millar is actually the first base equivalent of Paul LoDuca minus the hankering for teenage girls. He is still living off his gritty, gamer personality and few good years with previous teams.

    2B — Ray Durham, Giants
    Durham was a very good player for a long time, and he put up excellent numbers as recently as 2006. Last season, however, he went over the statistical cliff, batting just .218 and getting on base at just a .295 clip. He's now 36, so a significant rebound seems unlikely. Fortunately for him, the miserable Giants don't have any other options.

    Ray Durham did not add much nor did he take anything away with his 0.0 WARP1. There has to be someone out there who could help them out. A 0.1 WARP1 would represent an upgrade of infinity. INFINITY!!! Dare I say that Anderson Hernandez would be huge upgrade for them here?

    3B — Rich Aurilia, Giants
    Yes, Aurilia, at 36, is currently atop the Giants' pile — and it is a pile — at third base. Last season, Aurilia managed an OBP of barely better than .300, and since he's very much in his decline phase, there's no reason to expect improvement. These days, his bat won't play anywhere, particularly at a power position like third base.

    Of course, I wanted him as a super sub. Not that I would have been wrong because maybe he might have done well in that role, we'll never know. However, he did have a really good season in 2006 after a pretty decent one in 2005 and not many could have predicted such a horrible decline. Ok, maybe many could have since Aurilla has been so up and down.

    Just a side note here, if Wes Helms was still a starter, he would have won by a landslide.

    SS — Omar Vizquel, Giants
    Seriously, props to the Giants, without whom this column might not have been possible. Anyhow, Vizquel has a credible Hall of Fame case, but at this stage he has no business being a regular at the highest level. Defensively, he still makes the routine plays and the occasional highlight grab, but his range is now well below average. His offense is even worse than that. Vizquel will be 41 years old not long after Opening Day, so it's probably time to consider making graceful exit. On a broader level, it's challenging to impart just how bad the San Francisco

    This all does beg the question, how does Brian Sabean even have a job much less get a two year extension? Please, do not tell me he was handcuffed by Barry Bonds. Bonds is no reason to decimate your ball club.

    LF — Juan Pierre, Dodgers
    As long as Pierre's in center field, he is mediocre enough to tolerate, but in left field, where the offensive bar is much higher, he's not adequate. He hits for average and runs the bases well, but when it comes to doing the two most important things a hitter can do — get on base and hit for power — he comes up woefully short, particularly by corner-outfielder standards.

    If Juan Pierre sniffs any playing time this season, Joe Torre should be lambasted. The only reason he has any value whatsoever is because he steals a lot of bases. He literally adds nothing else to the equation. The key to making the playoffs is winning games, which should not be a big shock. With that in mind, Pierre in no way adds value over Ethier and Kemp.

    CF — Mark Kotsay, Braves
    Kotsay is injury prone, merely average defensively at this point, and last season, when healthy, wasn't able to hit a lick. Certainly he won't put up stats as grim as he did in 2007, when he flailed about to the tune of .214 AVG/.279 OBP/.296 SLG. However, you can improve upon those deliriously bad numbers and still not rise to the level of acceptability. The sooner top prospect Jordan Schafer is ready to take over in center, the better off the Braves will be. Of course, Schafer hasn't played a game above the Triple-A level, so they're likely stuck with Kotsay for the time being.

    I do not like the Braves and it pleasures me to see someone who actually took wins away from their former employer lace up their cleats and put on a Braves uniform. You would have to go back to 2004 when he was 28 to see an above average season from him. That being said, the Braves did not make a bad move here. He might have one more league average year in him and it is not like they had a plethora of options.

    RF — Mark Teahen, Royals
    Teahen isn't a horrible player, and he's only 26. However, he makes it on this unfortunate list only because right field is a fairly deep position. Teahen had a good campaign in 2006, but last season he regressed, slugging just .410 and managing only one homer every 78 at-bats. That just doesn't cut it. He's young enough to reverse course, but he may not have the bat for such an "offense-first" position.

    Out of this team that Perry compiled, Teahen would be the All-Star representative. He actually adds the most value out of any of the bunch and is legitimately league average. However, that .410 SLG% from a corner outfield spot is horrendous. Can he rebound? Possibly, but unlikely. His SLG% from the last three years is .376, .517, and .410. Which one does not belong? For those of you still trying to remain optimistic about him, his minor league SLG% is .421.

    He will forever go down as the poster child for why you should always trade for the most talent rather than try and pigeon hole needs. Beltran for Wood, Teahen, and Buck? No esta bien.

    Overall, it was a fun read. I do think Teahan was unfairly targeted and you could have certainly made a case for Johnny Damon and just made it three outfield spots in general rather than try and find someone for each spot. Damon posted a .396 SLG% at a corner outfield spot and to answer your question, only eight qualifying outfielders had a sub .400 SLG% in the bigs and the Yankees had two of them. Besides, Teahan is still only 26 while Damon is likely to continue to regress. Is David DeJesus still a starter? He could certainly qualify for a spot as well if so.

    * * *

  • Good stuff.

  • Though not as good as above, still good stuff.

  • Good riddance Tom McCarthy.

  • Also from the above link..

    With arbitration hearings approaching, the Mets have yet to come to terms with two players: Oliver Perez and Ryan Church. GM Omar Minaya said Perez's agent, Scott Boras, is not interested in negotiating a contract that covers beyond the 2008 season, meaning Perez should be a free agent next winter. Perez has asked for $6.5 million, with the club countering at $4.725 million. Church, the newly acquired outfielder, requested $2.45 million, with the club offering $1.75 million. The Mets haven't gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since David Cone in 1992. ... Duaner Sanchez will have no limitations when pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie next Thursday, according to Minaya.

    I guess this answers my question. However, I still think it is worth a shot. Really, $12 to $13 million is on the low side of what he would get. If he replicates 2007, he might receive $15 million per. As crazy as that sounds, it is entirely possible. My reasoning...

    1) The guy has good enough stuff to succeed in either league. There are some pitchers who AL teams want nothing of because they simply lack the ability to dominate with 'stuff'. Oliver has no such issues. He battles himself a lot, but should have no problem putting up great numbers in the AL when he is on which opens up the market a lot more.

    2) Carlos Silva. While Oliver is not an ace, he has front end potential. Carlos Silva does not and received a boatload of cash after Lilly, Meche, Marquis, and Suppan received rather handsome pay raises over the past few years. Basically, even Perez tosses up a 4.00 to 4.25 ERA, he will get paid. A four year deal for a guy on the right side of 30, throws with his left arm, throws in the low 90's, and is injury free is going to be a hot commodity and obviously Boras knows that. He would have to toss up a 5.00 ERA to really blow things up, which I cannot see happening.

    3) Who else is going to be out there? Best case scenario, there will be Sheets, CC, Smoltz, and Burnett.
    • Burnett may not have a great year and not opt out. Even if he does opt out, he will be looking for just as much or more money as Perez while being substantially older and carrying a huge injury risk.
    • As for Ben Sheets...see AJ Burnett. The same reasoning applies. A long term deal on Sheets is frightening.
    • Is there any chance Smoltz leaves?
    • If you are looking at CC and lose, you will certainly look at Perez. Overall, anyone looking to drop cash on a starter may look to Perez first being more affordable than CC and perhaps a better option than the other household names. Of course, CC might not even be changing addresses.
    Boras is not stupid and probably realizes this, which is why he is reluctant to deal now. However, ballplayers are always opining about security. A long term deal now would give him that on a team that is well positioned to win over the next five years.

    Maybe Omar can get a one on one a la A-Rod and the Yankees, but that seems doubtful. If Perez wanted to have a hand in this and was looking for something other than the best payday from any team regardless of long term outlook, he would have hired another agent.

  • Ben Johnson is back with the Mets. Great.

  • Freddie says "money ain't no thang". After the 20% price hikes, I should think not.

  • Also from the above link, Craig Wilson is drawing interest from the Mets. I have to say, I do like that idea. Pop off the bench is always nice and Wilson could certainly add that.

  • My how far Jeff has come. Although, we have no idea if all the other stuff we have heard in the past has been overblown, but it looks like the baseball people are in charge of baseball and the Wilpons are in charge of the money and making sure people are happy.

    Well....with the exception of Lastings. I still think they wanted him gone.

  • Legal or not, Pedro needs to stay out of the Rooster Coliseum. Nothing good can come of it and in the wake of Michael Vick fiasco, this will probably get a bit of press. Of course (right or wrong) chickens and dogs are on a different level and one was legal while the other was not, but whatever. Pedro should keep his distance and is still representing the Mets wherever he is.

  • A nice feel good article about Johan. It also came with this gem of a comment at the bottom.

    thegup Feb 7, 2008 8:14:26 AM
    You could give that idiot Willie 5 Santanas and he will find a way to mess things up. A fish rots from the head

    Good stuff.

  • Livan is out.

  • Sickels goes over the top prospects of 2000. Train wreck. It really puts a lot of things into perspective, but this one seems especially bad in terms of the talent translating into a top tier big league careers.
  • Labels: ,

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    "Who gives a [expletive], they just got Johan Santana."

    That is pretty much the answer to any problem that you could think of in regards to this deal. The Mets gave up two MLB ready starters in Mulvey and Humber and are left with only Mike Pelfrey as a viable option on the horizon. Outside of that, we are looking at Bobby Parnell, who is more of a reliever in my eyes.

    Next year, we know that not one, not two, but three starters will be hitting the free agent market with Maine following after that. Of course Maine has a ways to go, but it bears noting that when his contract expires, the Mets might not have any meaningful prospects ready to step in. Now that Johan is out of the way, some forward thinking should be employed.

    Oliver Perez is an enigma to some people. Since 2004, he has put up an ERA+ of 145, 72, 67, and 120 and a k/bb of 2.95, 1.39, 1.50, and 2.20. I could certainly understand why he is considered such, but to me, he is slightly misunderstood. He was not in a great place and the Pirates organization does not exactly have a great track record for grooming young pitchers.

    Oliver just seemed like the classic case of guy needing a change of scenery. However, it would be hard to ignore his up and down career. Normally I would say that anyone represented by Boras would not extend with one year left before free agency, but we have a precedent here with a similar case. Carlos Pena was another insanely talented enigma that was represented by Boras and he extended recently.

    Perez will have his arbitration meeting later this month and Omar should push for five year deal. $7 million in 2008 and then spread $48 to 52 million over the next four seasons. That is risky because Oliver Perez would not surprise anyone if he threw up a stinker this year, but I think those days are behind him. However, the fact that people consider him volatile might be the best opportunity for the Mets to sign him for a bit more than Carlos Silva signed. Regardless, even if he puts up a 4.20 ERA, he would be worth it and get something close to that on the market which does give the Mets some acceptable downside in regards to his performance.

    That move would allow the Mets to pencil in Johan, Ollie, Pelfrey, and Maine through the 2011 season. To me, that sounds just perfect. Waiting until after the 2008 season with Oliver will prove to a risky move because he should be an extremely coveted free agent. Ben Sheets, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and John Smoltz might all be out there, but maybe only one or two of them reach. With another solid season from Perez, you have to believe he might be #1 on many team's list with Sheets and Burnett coming with bigger price tags than Ollie and huge health questions, CC pricing out of most team's comfort zone, and Smoltz's age and his likeliness to stay with the Braves.

    * * *

  • The Erik Bedard deal is almost done. If he can put up 200 innings, he might be the favorite in Vegas to win the Cy Young. Oakland plays like a pitchers park, Seattle plays like an extreme pitchers park, and Anaheim plays neutral. Of course there is still that bandbox in Arlington, but three out of four ain't bad.

    The Orioles will get a really impressive haul if this goes through and they have put themselves on the right path. If MacPhail was around earlier and was allowed to do what he wanted, they could be on their way to being a rebuilt team rather than just starting their rebuilding process.

    It would be interesting if both Cy Young Award winners from either league were acquired via trade this year. Has that ever happened? Doubtful, but there is certainly a pretty good chance that happens.

  • Luis Castillo divulges some information.

    "I remember the day I got traded, remember Johan. He went to me in the locker room. We talked for 20 minutes. I explained everything. He told me everything, told me he wanted to play with the Mets the day I got traded," said Castillo, who re-signed with the Mets for four years, $25 million. "A week later, I told (Mets GM Omar) Minaya he's a good pitcher, and he likes the Mets. I know he makes a lot of money, but he's great, the best left-handed pitcher, and he'd like to play here with the Mets. I know he makes a lot of money, but I think that's the guy we need."

    Johan would have gone to anyone that would have paid him cash, but I do think he genuinely wanted to be in Queens for a multitude of reasons.

    The Mets hope his 32-year-old knees hold up. In his 49 starts batting second, they averaged 5.51 runs, compared to 4.73 in other games.

    Castillo does not add a ton of defensive or offensive value, but he is does not negatively impact the team. He plays decent defense and gets on base 37% of the time. With the depth the Mets have in the lineup, that is just fine.

  • David Wright chose not to read the Jimmy Rollins guide to shit talking and says what any sugary leader of any squad would say.

    "The team to beat in my eyes is the team that won last year," Wright said. "Philadelphia took care of us last year. They took care of business in the division. Going into this year, we have to take control again of the NL East."

    Of course no one believes for one second he does not think the Mets are the team to beat as Philly needed an improbable comeback just as the Rockies are not playoff favorites as they needed an improbable run, but Wright is not looking to start a ridiculous prediction war.

    With six months of a long season ahead, not much is more annoying than ridiculous claims of who is better. Maybe the Phillies need that type of motivation so that is all well and fine. As for the Mets, it really seems they need some other catalyst. Maybe Wright steps into that role this season. Maybe not. However, I think Pedro and Johan for the entire season will provide that spark that their skipper failed to ignite via himself or through someone else.

  • Bonds, Sosa, and Piazza are not generating much excitement these days. You would think that Sosa would be a better fit than Juan Gonzalez for the Cards, unless the Cards have no intention of using Juan, which begs they question why even sign him in the first place. It seems they would like another bat and Sosa provides that.

    As for Bonds, someone needs to suck it up. The guy has 30 homer potential and gets on base almost 50% of the time. The Padres look like the third best team in the division and could use his bat. Sure, that gives them three left-handed (and old) bats in the outfield, but all three are fragile and will need plenty of days off and Giles and Bonds are not horrible against lefties.
  • Labels:

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    Misguided and Uninformed

    The other day I tossed out there that Johan Santana was the best left-hander of our generation. Of course, I was being a tad overzealous there as Ossy had pointed out to me. Without actually looking at the facts, I mistakenly rushed to judgment and insisted I was right despite not actually having any sort of evidence to support my outlandish claim. And yes, it was outlandish. We could debate what exactly is our 'generation', but I am for the most part speaking of 1990 and after. 1994 and after if you really need some type of event to use as a starting point.

    Randy Johnson is a strange character in many ways. Looks, attitude, etc. However, one thing in particular is simply the age that he came into his own. Part of the reason I blindly chose Johan is because he started being effective at such a younger age, but who cares when Randy started dominating? In 1993 at 29, Randy ran off a string of seasons with an ERA+ of 136, 154, 192, 135, 196, 135, 186, 181, 188, 197, 110, and 177. His 1999 season featured 271.7 innings pitched while allowing 207 hits, striking out 364 batters, and laying a 2.48 ERA and 1.02 WHIP down. For good measure he racked up twelve complete games. In fact, it could argued that Randy put up six seasons better than Johan's best season and another comparable to his best at age 40.

    Since 2004, Johan has been a full time starter. If you take Randy's best four year period and stack them up side by side, they look pretty good on paper.

         Randy   Johan
    G 140 134
    CG 31 6
    SHO 11 4
    IN 1030 912.1
    HR 98 103
    ERA 2.48 2.89
    K/9 12.38 9.70
    K/BB 4.92 4.96
    H/9 6.88 6.95
    BB/9 2.52 1.95
    Those those four years look comparable. However, Randy Johnson put up an ERA+ of 186, 181, 188, and 197 during that span against Johan's 182, 155, 161, and 130. Both are spectacular pitchers, but Randy gets the edge there. Randy has been so good for so long that Johan's accomplishments pale in comparison. Of course Johan has plenty of time to change our minds and pile up some numbers, but right here right now, Randy Johnson is the best left handed pitcher of our time and has been insanely good.

    That being said, there have been two guys better than Randy Johnson and it is not all that close for me. While Randy's best season of ERA+ stands 37th on the all time list, Pedro checks in at 32, 27, 18, 9, and 2. Pedro's #2 season is really #1 of all-time as Tim Keefe, who occupies the #1 spot, did it in 1880 in slightly over 100 innings. In 2000 when Pedro dropped that incredible season that might be the best of all-time, he put up the 2nd best ERA+ with 291. He tossed out a 0.74 WHIP, 1.74 ERA, and tossed four shut outs in the AL East in a hitter's park. From 1997 to 2003, Pedro had arguably the best run of any pitcher of all-time and had a stretch of ERA+ of 291, 163, 243, 291, 189, 202, and 210.

    A close second behind Pedro is Greg Maddux who put up two of the top five seasons of ERA+ in back to back seasons with 271 and 262 in 1994 and 1995. During those two seasons he posted ridiculous K/BB of 5.03 and 7.87. In fact in 1995, the entire league hit .197/.224/.258 against him. What is interesting about that is he was better at the plate than the rest of the league against him with a .222/.234/.254 line. I shit you not. From 1992 to 1998, Maddux had an ERA+ of 166, 171, 271, 262, 162, 189, and 197.

    Those guys were pretty good outside of their peak seasons as well and are truly three of the best pitchers we have ever seen. While Johan is not really in the discussion when it comes to matching up with those guys at their peak, he still has time. Greg Maddux was 28 in 1994, Pedro was 28 in 2000, and we know how old Randy was when broke into pitching's elite. Johan could be in the right place at the right time to start his own historic run and put up some ridiculously gaudy numbers up in Queens. Hopefully he does break into the conversation of who is the best of our generation so I will be more prophetic than just misguided.

    * * *

  • This is an oldie but a goodie. Go to Google and type 'find chuck norris' and then hit 'I'm Feeling Lucky'.

  • The real story on who was in and who was out in regards to the Johan Santana trade scenarios. This one actually makes sense as opposed to the other ridiculousness bandied about.

  • The Tigers bought out Curtis Granderson's arbitration years and tacked on a few more. Personally, I would have waited until after the 2008 season. His .203/.266/.368 line in 291 at-bats against lefties over the last three years is ugly. However, that looks sparkling compared to his .160/.225/.269 line last year against lefties.

    I am not saying that would give me pause to do this contract, but I want to be damn sure his numbers against righties are legit. He really needs to be great against righties to accept an OPS+ of 52 against lefties for his career and an OPS+ of 11 in 2007. I mean, that has to be the worst out of any starter, right?

  • Mary Noble had a tidbit that is likely to rain on the El Duque to the bullpen parade.

    I can't disagree with your thinking, though I can't embrace your solution. Livan wouldn't come cheap, and he might not come at all with the chance to pitch regularly hardly assured. I like the idea of El Duque in the 'pen, but when I brought it up to one of the Mets' people on Saturday night, the response was, "El Duque was our best pitcher last year." And he was.

    It seems as though the rotation is set at this point despite what Omar says.
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    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Feeling Optimistic

    The Johan high is still going. My endorphins are endorphing deep inside my cerebellum and Mike Pelfrey is the benefactor today. Have faith in Pelfrey. Jim Callis said that Pelfrey 'isn't anything special' the other day and I have to disagree. The dude has 260 or so pro innings and roundabouts 60 of those were in the bigs and did him little good because he was not as working on anything as much as trying to not get hit and pitching around batters. The man needed to work on non-existent off-speed/breaking stuff and has not had a chance to really do it.

    I always mention that you have look at his at-bat against Lance Berkman last year and his game against the Braves. He showed promise. Take a look at his highlights from the aforementioned Braves game. You'll see nice fade on his change, a controlling fastball with late movement that looks like it explodes in the zone, and a nice slider which does not look incredibly different from his off-speed, but cuts back in the opposite direction giving it a similar look.

    The guy is basically just learned off speed and breaking pitches after throwing 70%+ of fastballs all through college. It is not easy to learn pitches, but he showed improvement and does need more work. Also, he needs more confidence as attacking hitters has been his #1 problem for me. A close second would be him missing bats, but that is highly correlated with refining his pitches and attacking hitters, which both got better at the end of the year.

    Statically, I do not have much to support my optimism. However, when he returned to the rotation back in September when I thought he looked much better despite disappointing results, he raised his k/9 from 4.94 pre-Sept. to 6.95 post-Sept. Add that to his career 1.78 G/FB ratio and you have a guy who is really going to be tough to hit.

    Year  W L  G    IP  H  H/9   R HR BB BB/9 K's K/9 K/BB  ERA
    2003 10 2 17 105 80 6.9 29 9 15 1.3 98 8.5 6.53 2.49
    2004 11 2 16 115 86 6.7 28 2 24 1.9 125 9.8 5.21 2.18
    2005 12 2 18 131.2 88 6.0 33 3 28 1.9 135 9.2 4.82 1.91
    I am one of the few that still think he could be a front end pitcher. Back in college, Pelfrey exhibited good control for anyone, much less a power pitcher, which is why I am optimistic he can sort that problem out. Also, he is essentially the same pitcher he was out of college. He had an electric arm and the key to him has always been how his second and third pitches develop.

    That has not changed and the reason people soured on him is because not enough of a stride was made, but I think he did make some strides. If he can get another plus pitch and get the other one to an average pitch, which I think he do, he can be a legit ace of a pitching staff on the big stage and his control should settle down as he gets more confident. I think we all need not rush to judgment on him and simply give him more time. It has been extremely unfair as to how little time everyone gave him to refine some difficult things.

    * * *

  • I posted this a few Saturdays ago. However, since people do not read weekend posts, I will repost this again.

    "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."

    That is always a good thing to hear.

  • George Vecsey inks a terrible article.

    I would strongly advise giddy Mets fans to envision the Marlins and the Nationals whacking them around in the final two weeks of last season. That should neutralize the euphoria, assuming Minaya and the family Wilpon sign the Twins' star lefty to a six-year contract.

    Essentially, the Mets are front-ending their pitching staff - Santana for the departed Tom Glavine. That upgrade does not necessarily make them a better - or more mature - team for all 162 games this season.

    Huh? So we shouldn't be happy that our favorite team landed the best left-handed pitcher of our time? Weird. I would have thought we should be happy. I will take note of this interesting development and quell my happiness.

    Even if Santana stays healthy, he is 28, and pitchers can fall apart in a heartbeat. For that matter, he did not have such a wonderful September himself. Besides, he can start only once every five games, or somewhat more than 30 starts a season. Let's say he wins 20 games. He is still taking up a certain number of starts that would have been made, and perhaps even won, by another regular.

    So many interesting and thought provoking items in here. Well, he could get injured, but he is in good shape and is as good of a bet as any to stay healthy. ERA-wise he had a bad September, but for the most part, he was Johan Santana. Striking people out, holding opponents to a low BAA, and throwing hard. But hey, let's forget this guy was the best pitcher in the league since 2003 and focus on seven games.

    As for this other 'regular' you speak of, it would have been league average innings at best. I would think the Cy Young-esque innings will do much more for this team and they psyche.

    Little has changed since last September. Paul Lo Duca is being replaced by Brian Schneider at catcher, maybe an upgrade in defense and comportment but a downgrade in hitting, and they now have Ryan Church in right field, not necessarily a big deal.

    Stunning. LoDuca's bat is a loss? That is a strange suggestion that I have not been able to verify statistically. How about this. Anyone who thinks LoDuca's bat is a loss, please send me a compelling argument because I have yet to see one. Besides, the man would be batting 8th this season. Even if I were to placate anyone and say that LoDuca is better, who cares?

    Nah. Church is not a big deal. Solid defense. Sixty extra base hits. Those things happen all the time. No one needs such things on their team.

    Again, this is just another crappy article trying to bring the Mets down for some bizarre reason. I wonder if the Yankees are on notice as well? Why is there no article on why the Yankee fans shouldn't be excited about Mussina and two rookies in the rotation?

  • To review, Klapisch said the Mets basically had no chance before the Santana trade. Now they NL East is theirs? Weird. I love Johan as much as the next person, but one person cannot make a team that was a non-factor into the favorites. Maybe a team that already had a pretty good chance into favorites, but he was quite adamant the Mets were toast previously. Is it really too much to ask for some consistency?

  • It never ceases to amaze me how stingy these players can seem at times. Johan was close to walking away over $5 million as if the $145 million or so guaranteed was not enough?

  • The Johan Santana story.

  • There are times GMs spin things a bit. Twins fan think Smith is trying to spin the deal from his perspective. Cashman is spinning the Yankees lack of interest from his perspective. But Omar is laying down some truth.

    "Coming into the winter, we really looked for a No.1 starter and we have accomplished that objective ... and this really almost exceeds those expectations," GM Omar Minaya said on a conference call. "It doesn't get better than Johan Santana."

  • Johan's deal certainly will affect the CC negotiations, but there is one major caveat. CC might want to actually stay. If he does, they could probably come to a dollar figure that would appease both sides.

    If he is looking for the biggest payday and something that rivals Johan's, he is probably gone. However, it would not surprise me if he hung around for another five years with a mutual option for a sixth.

  • The Mariners and the Orioles keep on keepin' on. This deal looks like it going to go through and what a winter. How many times have three front end guys still in their 20's been dealt? Nuts.

  • I am not a huge football fan, but that was a spectacular game. Really amazing stuff and the commercial of the night for me was this one.

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