Monday, December 29, 2003


Boy, the holidays were a relief: I got to spend time with my family instead of hanging out constantly with Jeff Wilpon. First the trip to the Dominican with him, then the winter meetings; it was really getting to be a bit much. Now I know how Brian Cashman feels. . . . Still, it wasn't the best Christmas. First, Santa didn't bring me that new rightfielder I asked for. Second, it sure was embarrassing when I got caught trying to drop Roger Cedeno into the Salvation Army donation box. . . . Well, at least the press has taken it easy on me so far. I know that wont last long, though, if we start the season without making some more moves. The problem is the market is not getting as soft as I thought it would. Most teams had the gall NOT to nontender any of their good players (heck, we didn't even nontender our own BAD players). Now, the Reds have gone and signed Corey Liddle to a $2.75 million contract! I was hoping to get him with a minor league contract and a spring training invite. I mean the guy had a 5.75 ERA last year and lost 15 games! Yeah, I think he still might be pretty good, but I was hoping no one else would notice. I still have two other former Mets -- Reed and Appier -- to try to get to play the David Cone role for 2004, but Sidney Ponson is looking better and better. Unfortunately, it looks like he is going to cost at least $5 million. Its the same thing in rightfield; it seems like the agreement between the clubs not to offer big salaries does not apply to any offer of $4 million or less. Oh well, I guess that's the trick they're hoping to use to get away with collusion this time around....

All right, so let me make my New Year's Resolutions:

1) I will get rid of Roger Cedeno.

2) I will get rid of Roger Cedeno.

3) I will talk to Jeff Wilpon (sigh) and try to explain where our incredble-moving-payroll needs to be. (I know, I'll put it in terms of John Franco: "We still need at least three players much better than John Franco, and we gave Franco one to two million, so that means we need to pay these other guys......"

4) I will sign a platoon for rightfield.

5) I will get rid of Roger Cedeno.

Now, I just need to go back and reread the e-mail I got last month from that Mets Analyst guy.....

Monday, December 22, 2003


Where We Stand: Well, there were no exciting names in the nontender list that emerged following Saturday's midnight deadline to offer contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration. The most exciting player on the list, Mark Redman, was quickly signed by Oakland, the team that had nontendered him. . . . As anticipated in this space, the Mets did not offer arbitration to their three eligible players, Perez, McEwing and Strickland, but have now reached agreements with all three players for less than arbitration would have yielded them. That leaves the Mets with a payroll of $67 million (not counting the $11 million they can be expected to pay Vaughn and Cedeno NOT to play for them) and a need for a rightfielder, a starting pitcher, a relief pitcher and two bench players. That's plenty of money to take on salary through a trade, and a trade remains a distinct possibility for filling some of these needs.

Best of the Non-tenders: As has been widely reported, the best pitchers for the Mets needs among the nontenders are starting pitcher Jason Johnson and relief pitchers Danys Baez and Brandon Looper. . . . For rightfield, Karim Garcia, who has hit righties at an OPS over .800 for the past two seasons would be a good part of a platoon. . . . The Raindrops makes an interesting case for signing stathead favorite Russ Branyon. . . . Time will tell. Right now, the Mets project to a slightly less than .500 team, but have room for moves. . . .

Trivia Time: What do Paul Wilson, Terrence Long and Jay Payton have in common? All three are/were not wanted by their current teams, have been rumored to be returning to the Mets for 2004 (none should -- Payton does not have the bat for rightfield) and, best of all, all three were first round picks of the Mets in the same 1994 free agent draft (and you can throw in their 24th pick that year as well -- Red Sox nontender, Scott Sauerback).

Friday, December 19, 2003


As we approach nontender day, the Mets have plenty of money left to pursue attractive starting pitchers or right fielders who might become available. How much, of course, depends on whether their payroll limit is $80 million or $90 million (reports keep changing; probably the Wilpons will decide as developments take place). Below is an updated presentation of the Mets '04 salaries, now at $163.7 million, not counting Vaughn and Cedeno (italics are for salaries not yet determined)....

C Mike Piazza $15,000,000
1B Jason Phillips $500,000
2B Jose Reyes $400,000
SS Kazuo Matsui $6,700,000
3B Ty Wigginton $450,000
LF Cliff Floyd $6,500,000
CF Mike Cameron $5,000,000

SP Tom Glavine $10,500,000
SP Al Leiter $8,000,000
SP Steve Trachsel $5,000,000
SP Jae Seo $450,000

RP Mike Stanton $3,000,000
RP David Weathers $3,600,000
RP Scott Strickland $900,000
RP Grant Roberts $400,000
RP John Franco $1,000,000

C Vance Wilson $400,000
OF Timo Perez $500,000
IF Joe McEwing $600,000
OF Raul Gonzalez $300,000

Total $67,150,000

Roger Cedeno $5,000,000
Mo Vaughn $5,750,000

Thursday, December 18, 2003


It hardly seems worth writing about each rumored Roger Cedeno trade, since there have been so many. As of this writing, the latest rumor is Cedeno to Cleveland for ex-Met Matt Lawton. The first point is that the Mets do seem committed to removing Cedeno from the roster, a change long pushed for in this space and elsewhere. The second point is that the Lawton deal looks much better for the Mets than the others (Long, Cirillo, even Koch) that have gone by the boards so far. With the salaries swapped, this is the equivalent of eating Cedeno's contract and signing Lawton for $2 million/year for two years. This would not be a bad signing, as Lawton would make a fine platoon rightfielder. Sure, he can't hit lefties, but he can hit righties. His OPS against righties the last three years:


That's not bad at all (unlike the performance of Cedeno and Timo, neither of whom managed even a .700 OPS against righties last year), and the Mets should be able to pick up a righthander to platoon him with cheaply (like a Shane Spencer) as such (righthanded) players are much more common. Lawton isn't great (and did struggle is his first brief tour in New York, though he was new to the league), but he can play a positive role and may well be worth $2 million. Cirillo and Long, in contrast, would be wasting a roster spot -- the Mets would be better off just cutting Cedeno -- and Koch would cost the Mets well above his market value unless the White Sox sent along cash.

Of course, by the time you read this, we may well be on to the next rumor....

Update: You choose: Friday, the NYT says no deal 'cause the Indians want $ in Cedeno for Lawton, the News says no deal 'cause the Mets want $ in Cedeno for Lawton, and the Post says Cedeno for Lawton has not been discussed...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


The Mets re-signed their captain and senior member, 43-year old John Franco, to a one-year deal for $1 million plus another million in incentives. This after he had just completed a $10.5 million three-year deal he signed as he turned 40 and during which he was badly injured and pitched a total of 77 mediocre innings. Last year, coming off Tommy John surgery, his 2.62 era masked some very disturbing numbers: a strikeout rate of just over 4 per nine innings and a .755 OPS allowed (including .765 against lefties).

Now if the Mets want to bring back Franco rather than using cheaper options like Cerda or Feliciano, I have no overpowering objections (though I like both of them, particularly Feliciano, to pitch better than Franco in '04), but the decision cannot be explained on baseball/business grounds. The only explanation for the Wilpons' insistence on giving him all these millions is loyalty, and maybe that's a good thing. Let's just hope they show the same loyalty to their fans and don't fail to make some key acquisition because they can't "afford" the extra million bucks....

Tender Loyalties: The next question is whether the Mets will feel similar loyalty to Timo and McEwing. The two of them -- as well as Scott Strickland -- might well be able to receive more in arbitration than they could sign for on the open market, making them candidates for non-tenders. How the Mets will handle them will be very interesting and could be telling. If the Mets construct a capable platoon in right field, that would make Perez or Gonzalez the fifth outfielder, and I don't know which the Mets would prefer. McEwing in particular is worth watching, particularly if the Mets have indeed acquired Jeff Cirillo for Roger Cedeno, since Cirillo essentially does the same thing as McEwing -- not hit while playing a variety of positions. If it were me, I would nontender McEwing and cut Cirillo, but perhaps that isn't in the holiday spirit.

Monday, December 15, 2003


Today was the Rule V draft, in which teams can pick any player who is not on another team's 40-man roster and has been a pro for three seasons (four seasons if they started before age 18). The selecting team has to pay $50,000 for the player and, if they do not keep him on the 25-man roster all season (i.e., up in the Majors), the selecting team must offer the player back to his original organization for $25,000. Dozens of players (well, 20 this year) are selected, but only a handful are not offered back.

The Bad News: The Mets lost two players this time: Lenny DiNardo (to Boston) and Dave Mattox (to Cincinnati). Mattox, a right-handed starter, pitched at AA Binghamton in 2003 and went 8-7, 3.49 ERA with 86/40 K/BB in 131 innings. DiNardo is an intriguing guy. He struck out 93 and walked only 14 in 85 innings at High A St. Lucie in 2003 as a 24-year old, and then tore up the Arizona Fall League. Apparently, though, he does it all with one pitch: an 85 mph cutter. Whether this will work at higher levels remains to be seen, but let's wish this lefty luck with the Sox (though I suspect he'll be back, and I love any Met named Lenny).

The Good News: It is a sign of the depth of the Mets farm system that they lost two guys in the draft, and it could have been worse as they had a couple of additional pitchers similar to Mattox who could have been picked. Also, the Mets were so bad last year that they had the fourth pick and were able to take someone Oakland wanted, trading their pick to Oakland for a player to be named later.

Good Bad News: The Mets slot in this draft is a reminder that the Mets were so bad last year that they have the #3 pick in the June 2004 draft -- the real draft -- which they have not forfeited by a free agent signing. It's too soon, of course, to guess who they will pick, but since it is a draft day, it might be fun to look at #3 picks past. Here are the last 15....

2003: Kyle Sleeth, rhp -- Tigers (pro debut will be in '04)
2002: Chris Gruler, rhp -- Reds (in minors)
2001: Dewon Brazelton, rhp - TB (stank in show early '03, back in A ball)
2000: Luis Montanez, ss -- Cubs (struggled in A ball in '03)
1999: Eric Munson, c -- Tigers (now 3b in Det.; hit like Wiggie in '03).
1998: Corey Patterson, cf -- Cubs (great CF rookie for Cubs, tore up knee in July).
1997: Troy Glaus, 3b -- Angels (most similar batter through age 26: Reggie Jackson. 'Nuff said).
1996: Brandon Looper, rhp -- St. L. (decent reliever for champs in '03).
1995: Jose Cruz Jr., of -- Sea. (average Of, gold glove in '03 for S.F.; with D-Rays for '04).
1994: Dustin Hermanson, rhp - S.D.(65-65 4.28 in 9 years)
1993: Brian Anderson, lhp -- Angels (75-69 4.58 in 10 years -- see Hermanson)
1992: B.J. Wallace, lhp -- Expos (never was)
1991: David McCarty, 1b -- Twins (marginal journeyman)
1990: Mike Lieberthal, c -- Phil. (2xallstar, gold glove, still going strong).
1989: Roger Salkeld, rhp -- Sea. (never was)

Observations: (i) the teams that pick third are really bad! (ii) unless you pick a pitcher who blows out his arm, you will get a major leaguer; (iii) No one picked in previous 5 years had impact in '03, but some excellent picks in the 90's; (iv) recent picks perhaps affected by "signability."

Trivia Contest:: Since today was a minor league oriented day, here's my question: Who is the best active player (either by current value or career contribution) whom the Mets had as a minor leaguer but gave up before he lost his rookie status in the majors? E-mail me your answers (I don't have one yet).....


Its hard to believe, but both the New York Post and the Daily News report that the Mets might be able to trade for Aubrey Huff, Tampa Bays outstanding rightfielder, by giving up Aaron Heilman as the other principle in the trade. Huff may be the game's least noticed new star (late bloomer, plays in Tampa). He is everything the Mets need: a 27-year old, slugging, left-handed hitting rightfielder who, in his first year of arbitration, will still be paid below market. He would likely be the best hitter on the Mets next year, and worth about 5 wins compared to Roger Cedeno. If there were substance to the rumor, it should be a headline, not the tail of a story, and the Mets should make the deal as fast as they possibly can. It seems too good to be true....

Saturday, December 13, 2003


Just as I was getting ready to write a quick post saying I was a little too restrained in my support of the Mets pursuit of Mike Cameron (see below), I read on ESPN that Cameron is signing with the Mets. This is great news. The area that I "underplayed" was how great a defensive centerfielder Cameron is. He is now clearly the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. As Flushing Local points out, this is particulary valuable with a fly ball staff like the Mets'. What does that mean in practice?

By reliable estimates, he turned about 40 more hit balls into outs than an average centerfielder would have in 2003. One play every four games might not sound like much, but it is. To get an idea of the scope, consider how Cameron would look if we added those 40 hits to his offense instead of taking them away from the other team (I'll assume that 30 would be singles and 10 would be doubles -- a conservative assumption). With those hits instead of outs, Cameron would have had a .328 avg, with a .427 OBP and a .524 slg., while playing an average centerfield. Whew! Cameron has been a huge part of Seattle's success over the last few years.

The Mets are only a rightfielder away from being a solid .500 ball club. So go ahead and welcome Mike. You can send him an e-mail from his web page, which you will go to by clicking here.

Friday, December 12, 2003


Unfortunately, the Mets did not get Batista -- he signed with the Blue Jays -- but the good news is that they were pursuing the right guy, and there will be places to find a fifth starter. For now, let's take the promised look at Centerfield, and hope that a MetAnlayst recommendation is not a jinx to the Mets landing the player.

The table below includes everyone who has been mentioned as a candidate for CF for the Mets in 2004. A brief explanation of the statistics in the table for the unitiatied: First shown is 2003 OPS -- a useful all-around offensive statistic -- and, then, more importantly, 2003 EQA. EQA is a valuable statistic developed by the folks at Baseball Prospectus that summarizes all aspects of offensive performance AND accounts for the effect of the parks the player played in. In 2003, the average EQA for all centerfielders was .268.

For defense, I've included Range Factor, which looks at how many plays a player makes in a game (the 2003 average for Centerfield was 2.57), and Zone Rating, a stat that rates the number of plays a player makes relative to others at his position. (For Jay Payton, I've used 2002 numbers, since he played left field in '03.)

Finally, I've included the player's age on opening day in 2004.

P. Wilson.........880........279.......2.33.....834........29
T. Perez...........665........236.......2.76.....842........28

This tells us that Mike Cameron, Preston Wilson and Jay Payton were about equivalent as hitters in 2003 once their home parks are accounted for (Wilson and Payton's park the best for hitters in baseball; Cameron's one of the worst), with Damon a little bit behind and all slightly above average. The "incumbents," Duncan and Timo, were awful -- neither hit well enough to play shortstop. Moreover, don't think the incumbents showed enough for a platoon role: almost all Timo's at-bats were against righties already, and Duncan was a pitcher against lefties, and worse than a Rey Sanchez against righties. For all of these guys their '03 numbers were roughly in line with their career numbers.

Finally, in terms of age, Duncan is young enough to improve, and the others likely all have their best year behind them and are in a period of gradual decline.

For defense, you can see that Mike Cameron is great. He led the majors in zone rating and was second to Tori Hunter in Range Factor. Johnny Damon is a solid major league centerfielder defensively. Jeff Duncan also was very impressive in the field. Wilson. Payton, Perez and Glanville are competent, but below average.


Point #1 is that something must be done. Duncan should start '04 in Norfolk, and the Mets will not offer Timo arbitration. They need a new centerfielder.

Point #2 is that Cameron is the one to shoot for. Since Damon is owed $16.5 million over the next two years and Wilson a whopping $21 million, Cameron -- who is clearly significantly better overall and would cost less over those two years -- just makes much more sense. (The Mets should get rather than give if they trade for either Damon or Wilson, because their contracts are above market.)

Point #3 is that there are reasons to be concerned about Cameron, his numbers went down from '01 to '02 and from '02-'03; moreover, the Mariners seemed to feel his time was past. Also, there are some elite all-around centerfielders (e.g., Beltran) whom the Mets could pursue in the future, if they are not tied to Cameron. So, I would not break the bank or guarantee four years. While some solutions are better than others, and change is mandatory, this is not a no-brainer.

Point #4 is that of the current options, Payton (a likely nontender) makes the most sense if they do not sign Cameron. He's injury-prone and likely a bit below average at bat and in the field, but make no mistake: he would be a real upgrade over 2003, and would keep options open. So, hope for Cameron on a three-year deal, and, if not, Payton looks next best right now.

In the Mail....Dan writes asking for the MetsAnalsyt's take on a rumored Roger Cedeno for Terrence Long and Kevin Jarvis swap. Answer: This would be bad. There were only a few players in the majors who played poorly enough and often enough to hurt their teams more at the plate than Roger Cedeno in 2003, but Terrence Long was on that list, and he is not good enough defensively to play centerfield. Since Jarvis and Long combined cost more than Cedeno, and not one of the three is good enough to be on the Mets Major League Roster, this trade would be a step in the Wrong direction.... Coming soon: thoughts on payrolls....

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


Multiple reports in the past two days indicate that the Mets have gotten to the footsie stage of negotiations with free agent starting pitcher Miguel Batista. This is very good news. Before getting to that though, here is the Mets current roster/salary picture for 2004 (estimated salaries in italics):

C Mike Piazza $15,000,000
1B Jason Phillips $500,000
2B Jose Reyes $400,000
SS Kazuo Matsui $5,000,000
3B Ty Wigginton $450,000
LF Cliff Floyd $6,500,000

SP Tom Glavine $10,500,000
SP Al Leiter $8,000,000
SP Steve Trachsel $5,000,000
SP Jae Seo $450,000

RP Mike Stanton $3,000,000
RP David Weathers $3,600,000
RP Scott Strickland $900,000
RP Grant Roberts $400,000
RP John Franco $1,500,000

C Vance Wilson $400,000
OF Timo Perez $500,000
IF Joe McEwing $600,000
OF Raul Gonzalez $300,000

Total $63,000,000

Roger Cedeno $5,000,000
Mo Vaughn $5,750,000

Notice that I did not include Roger Cedeno in this roster: he must go. Even if the Mets have to eat his contract, that still brings their payroll to "only" $68 million, leaving them $22 million before they reach the "low end" of their $90-$100 million projected budget ($17 million if you also count their net payment to Mo Vaughn after insurance). The $22 million ought to be plenty, and Batista would be a great start.

Batista went 10-9 3.54 in 193 IP for Arizona last year, pitching in the best hitter's park in the league outside of the Rocky Mountains (he allowed a .781 OPS at the BOB, only .640 on the road). Of the top 30 starters in the Major Leagues last year (measured by Michael Wolverton's SNWAR (which normalizes for park effects and run support)), only 3 are still available as free agents, Sidney Ponson, Batista and Greg Maddux. Batista had the best year of the three, and a much better regular season than Kevin Millwood or Andy Pettite. He is only 32 and, as a non-tendered free agent, will not require draft pick compensation from the signing club (something Jim Duquette has identified as a key criterion). If the Mets signed Batista -- and he will cost only $3-$4 million annually for two to three years -- they will vastly improve their rotation. He's not great, but he's solid -- like last year's Steve Trachsel. The Mets would then be one of only three teams (with Oakland and the Cubs) with three of last year's top 30 starters, and would still have almost $20 million for the CF and RF they need and the closer they seem to think they need.....

Other Notes: Reports this afternoon indicate that the Astros are close to signing Andy Pettite. This is good on general anti-Yankee principles, but also because it may put even more pressure on the Astros to cut payroll and make the fantasy trade of Cedeno for Richard Hidalgo more plausible. On the other hand, its a reason not to dilly-dally on Batista..... The Fernando Vina signing for 2 years and $6 million makes the Castillo and Matsui signings look smarter.... Next time: analysis of the CF situation.

Monday, December 08, 2003


Well, it's official. The Mets signed Matsui, something I really did not think would happen and it will mean moving Reyes to second, which I think is a bad idea. Those raving about the speed at the top of the Mets order should remember the cliche: you can't steal first base. Neither Matsui nor Reyes have shown much patience in their careers and hence are likely to have league average OBP's at best.

Having said that, the Mets are better now than before the signing. How much better? A reasonable projection for Matsui in the Major Leagues is a .284 average, .334 OBP and a .486 SLG (thanks to the Baseball Guru, via Shea Daily). Last year that would have made him the 7th best hitting shortstop in the majors and the third best in the National League, but we should probably knock that down to about .775 OPS given that he will play at Shea. (In other words, he projects to contribute about the same at the plate as Luis Castillo -- sigh).

The bottom line is that with a keystone combination of Matsui and Reyes for the full year, the Mets project to score about 40 more runs than they did with last year's sorry group. That translates to about 4 more wins, so there is still more work to do.

The good news is that they can afford to do some of that work. In the next day or two I will post their current payroll situation, but suffice to say that they could eat Cedeno's contract and still have plenty of money to spend from a $90 million budget. One hopeful note: last night the Mariners declined to offer Mike Cameron salary arbitration...

Saturday, December 06, 2003

To Grinch or not to Grinch

According to published reports in all the New York papers and on ESPN.com, the Mets are very close to signing the top player in Japan, Kazuo Matsui, to play shortstop, moving Jose Reyes to second. Moving Reyes to second is a very bad idea (see my Dear Jim letter in the archives entry below), and Matsui is certainly no A-Rod. Moreover, it appears that the Wilpons are overriding their baseball people and trying to make a SPLASH, rather than trying to build a winning ball club. Let's call this the "Bobby Bonilla strategy" -- not a good idea.

But, if you are going to be a baseball fan, and particularly a Mets fan, you've gotta have heart. A Yankee's fan who read the analysis below mapping out a .500 strategy for the Mets wrote in to say "gee, all that work to get to .500, it must be tough to be a Mets fan." He just doesn't get it. The miracles and the underdog thing is what's so great about being a Mets fan. So, there's no point in being the Grinch. The Mets with Matsui at short and Reyes at second would be better than the Mets with Reyes at short and Danny Garcia at second, so the signing would improve the ballclub.

We will be back with a more detailed analysis of Matsui when, and if, he actually signs.

Friday, December 05, 2003

More Archives

Here is the last of the Mets Analyst e-mail posts, originally published on November 25, 2003.

It's been three weeks since my last report (in the form of a "letter" to the Mets GM), and if you've been reading the NY press coverage of the Mets during that time, you may well have gone crazy. Directly contradictory reports (Piazza wants to leave; Piazza does not want to leave; the Mets want A-Rod (or Matsui); the Mets don't want A-Rod (or Matsui); Mo Vaughn will be there in Spring Training; Mo Vaughn will never play again) show up in different tabloids on the same day, and then the Times chips in a day or two later on one side or the other. The accompanying analysis is poor and, in any event, it's only a side issue: Piazza will be a Met in 2004, while none of the others will play an inning for our team. I will give 3-1 odds (stake is beer) that this is 100% correct to any takers.

So what is one to take from all this?: (1) Don't get caught up in what you read in the papers; (2) Pray that Mets management is not getting distracted by these sideshows either but instead is pursuing a rational course (the Bill Singer fiasco is certainly NOT reassuring on that score: to hire someone to be your Far East scout who two weeks later subjects a higher ranking executive from another team to a diatribe in fake Chinese (and then have him blame it on the Atkins diet) is extremely embarrassing and not a great sign of competence).

Until proven otherwise, then, I am going to assume that management will follow a rational course of action. A report today (but see rule #1 above) indicates talks with Luis Castillo have heated up a bit. Castillo is a good but not great 2nd baseman, certainly not at the top in the NL, but solidly above average (think Felix Millan (in value, not as player type)). If not brought in as a savior, but as a good solution to a serious problem, he would be great. To emphasize the importance of avoiding holes rather than getting stars, consider the following: if the Mets sign Castillo, Mike Cameron and a league average right fielder (e.g., Jose Cruz Jr. or Reggie Sanders + a lefty), a .500 season would be a reasonable expectation. That is based on the following estimated increases in runs scored (assuming 2004 performance at 2003 levels -- not an unduly optimistic assumption in these cases) and assumes that the pitching remains constant:

Catcher 30 runs: Vance Wilson to Mike Piazza leads to 30 more runs from '03 to '04 (Because he got a decent start, many did not realize how poorly Wilson hit (sub .300 OBP, sub .400 SLG). If Piazza is at first, then Phillips catches, but the offensive net is Wilson to Piazza either way).

Second Base 20 runs: Alomar and his replacements (Sanchez and others) to Castillo. (Alomar was below league average; his replacements were worse).

Shortstop 20 runs: Sanchez and others to Reyes (Sanchez was TERRIBLE, Ordonez reincarnate. Reyes was very good).

Center Field 35 runs: Duncan and co. to Cameron. (Did you realize Jeff Duncan got more starts in Center than any other Met? It was good to try him given their status, but he (and the others) were mostly below replacement level).

Right Field 15 runs: Cedeno to Cruz Jr. or the like. Cedeno himself led to 18 about 18 fewer runs than an average right fielder last year would have during the time he played (not counting his defense). Burnitz was significantly above the league average, but the other right fielders replacing Burnitz also were well below average. I'm netting this to 15 runs below average. (To be clear: Cedeno full time is at least 20 runs worse than the average rightfielder on offense. He MUST go).

That comes out to 120 runs. On average a team gets about 1 win for every 10 runs added to its total runs (their are more accurate means of predicting, but not worth it at this point, 1 for 10 is good for quick and dirty estimates), so that means these changes project to 12 more wins -- changing 66-95 to 78-83. The added value of vastly improved defense at 2nd, Center and Right (offset a bit by weaker defense at catcher) would likely be enough for the 21/2 more wins needed to make this a .500 projection. A .500 team would be a big step forward for the Mets, and a team projected for .500 can do significantly better (or worse, of course) with unusually good (or bad) years -- indeed, only the Yankees can win without their players on balance exceeding projections. For those who really want to dream, when you add in the chance of a contender to make midseason moves, a team projected at .500 has a shot at the Wild Card.

Notice that it is no single thing that controls. This says, for example, that Mike Piazza's injuries last year cost the Mets about 3 wins, and that a full season of Reyes would have only been worth about 2 more wins. Its everything in combination that adds up. So keep hoping that the reports about Pokey Reese at 2nd or Brian Jordan in rightfield are just reporters filling up space.....

Final Note: One more starting pitcher would help too; barring injury, it will be hard for the Mets NOT to get a better performance this year from their fifth starters....

Mets Analyst Archive

Here is a post from Mets Analyst in its e-mail days that was originally posted around November 1, 2003. Many Mets fans received an automated e-mail from the Mets in late October in the form of a "letter" from Jim Duquette, thanking us for our support, and advising us of their plans. This post took the form of a response to Duquette's letter. Unfortunately, according to published reports yesterday and today, Jim Duquette understood the advice, but, more importantly, the Wilpons did not. Here's the letter:

Dear Jim:

Thank you for your letter. I'm an avid (I listened to your
press conference on the web) and longtime (Bud Harrelson was my
favorite player) Mets fan, and will continue to be so, no matter
what happens. The plans you laid out in your e-mail sound very
good, and I'm sure are encouraging to your knowledgeable fans.
Since you took the trouble to write to me, I thought I would respond
by taking a moment to make two suggestions -- imperatives to me --
that I hope already are part of your intent as you turn you plan
into action.

The press is full of rumors that this may happen in order to make
room for Kazuo Matsui or Miguel Tejada. First, Reyes is already a
gifted shortstop and may very shortly gain the consistency to be
top-flight defensively. Converting someone to 2nd who can play a
great short significantly reduces their value. Second, 2nd baseman
get injured a lot and tend to have shorter careers simply from the
wear and tear of the position -- like catchers except less so. It
is not a place you want to go out of your way to put your future
star. Third, adding the stress of learning a challenging new
position is not the best way to help a 20-year old adjust to hitting
in the majors or giving him confidence. Fourth, this is not all
about 2004. Realistically, 2005 (when our brightest minor league
talent will start to arrive) is probably the next chance we will
have to be competitive, but Reyes should add value to the team
through 2010 and beyond -- long after Matsui and Tejada would be
gone. If David Wright or Victor Diaz arrive at 3B in 2005, I would
move Wigginton back to 2b (a la Jeff Kent) rather than shift Reyes.
Fifth, there are lots of alternatives. Of course, if you can get
Vidro in a trade, great. If not, Victor Diaz will be major league
ready by 2005. If he can really play second, we only need a
short-term solution. You can cobble together a very cheap platoon
solution for one year (e.g., Vina (.740 OPS vs. righties) and Eric
Young (.795 OPS against lefties) or even Danny Garcia (.889 OPS
against lefties (in 18 at bats)), and then use Diaz (or,
conceivably, but doubtful, Danny Garcia) in 2005 or pursue Vidro as
a free agent. Signing Luis Castillo would also be fine if he can be
signed for a reasonable figure, particularly if you think Diaz will
never be good enough defensively. All of these will be much better
than the Sanchez/McEwing/Garcia disaster that followed the Alomar
trade, and at least as good (and likely better) than Alomar, while
much cheaper. And that's all as part of reason #5. So, don't move

NECESSARY. I'm sorry, but he is terrible. Though it looked no
worse than questionable at the time, this was Steve Phillips'
biggest mistake -- not Burnitz, Vaughn, Alomar or not signing
Rodriguez. He killed the team when he was in there. The only
rightfielder in the majors who hit as poorly and got nearly as much
playing time was Bobby Higgenson on the Tigers -- and we know how
that turned out. Add to that his defense, which is so bad that it
really does matter (ask Tom Glavine his opinion), and you've got far
and away the worst rightfielder in baseball. On top of that, he
does not have a particular skill -- getting on base, hitting for
power, hitting righties, fielding, baserunning or versatility --
that even makes him a useful bench player. Timo and Raul make fine
#4 and #5 outfielders, much better than Cedeno. This will be
addition by subtraction, and I would pay another team to take him:
the $10 million is a sunk cost; don't make it worse by making us
watch him. One creative way to remove him would be seeing if you
could work a trade with the Astros for Hidalgo. He has $14 million
guaranteed for one more year, and I think Cedeno has $10. If we
could move some players and cash to the Astros to balance that swap
it would be great. But, even if we have to eat Cedeno's salary, do
it. If the Hidalgo thing can't happen, we don't need to sign
Guerrero (though that would be great) or Sheffield (which would be a
terrible multi-year investment). Again, you can cobble together a
short-term inexpensive solution that will be a vast upgrade from
Cedeno. The Pirates platoon of Reggie Sanders (.913 OPS) and Matt
Stairs (.950) are free agents. Plus there's Jose Guillen (.928),
and even Jose Cruz Jr., (.779 and a gold glove), Juan Gonalez (.901
(ok, I don't really recommend him) and Jeremy Burnitz (.786 --
though he did trail off badly with the Dodgers, great trade!) who
will all likely have to settle for one year deals. Cedeno's .698
OPS and horrible defense and bad baserunning must go!

If you follow these two pieces of advice, we could have a
lineup next year like:

Cameron (he should still have a few good years and can be
signed at the new market price. Of course, if a trade for Beltran
is possible that would be great. Many of the Mets best trades
(Hernandez, Piazza, Leiter(?)) were of that year-before-free-agency

That would cost you less than last year's opening day lineup and be
above average offensively (probably above average at 7 or 8
positions, possibly all 8) and defensively, and with a bench like T.
Perez, R. Gonzalez, T. Clark, V. Wilson and McEwing or his ilk would
be a great step in the right direction while maintaining cost and
contract flexibility for the future. This should be a higher
priority than spending money on pitching. Our bullpen if fine as
is. Foulke would be a great addition (unlike Guadardo), but a
closer is a luxury for a top team. The Giants, Cubs and Marlins all
made it this year with guys no better than people already on our
roster -- Weathers, Stanton, Roberts, Cerda, Moreno, Weathers and
Griffiths (or the like) and Ring (by midseason) -- is plenty good to
get us going. For the rotation, if you can trade for Vasquez or
Schilling, great, but the starters on the market are probably not
worth pursuing (excepting this latest defector from Cuba whom I
don't know much about). We are set at four rotation spots and you
can bring in a big group to compete for #5. If we are actually in
the hunt next year, there will be time to trade for a top guy. If
not by 2005 people should start to emerge from the Griffiths,
Heilman, Peterson, Mattox, Kazmir group of good young arms you've
assembled. Of course the Mets would be a better team with Bartolo
Colon, for example, than without, but not if the opportunity cost is
not making some of the moves described above. We can have a lineup
that contains only good players; together, they could do great

Once again, thanks for writing, and good luck.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Welcome to Mets Analyst

Welcome to the Mets Analyst blog. Previously published in E-Mail form, the Mets Analyst is devoted to taking a hard but loyal look in the most magical franchise in the history of sports (OK, we're fans too). Welcome to our site.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?