Thursday, July 15, 2004
ANALYSIS WITHOUT NUMBERS
As poor internet access from my current location keeps me from checking websites and allows only an occasional post, here are some numberless thoughts as we enter the official second half of the season.
It's Great to Be a Mets Fan We start off the second half tonight with a four game set against the first place Phillies. A big series. How many times have the Mets been headed into a big series this year? The question is almost easier to answer when you ask how often have they not? Several trips to the brink, battles with division rivals. Its constant excitement. I can't wait for the second half.
I'm a Howe Supporter Put Mets Analyst on record as supporting Art Howe. Yes, some of his bullpen management choices have been questionable, and yes, he has not been mistake free in his in game moves, but very few managers are. On the plus side, he's done the most important thing -- putting the best players on the field -- game after game. Putting Spencer in CF when Cameron went down (rather than McEwing) was indicative. His offensive/defensive platoon with Piazza and, at other times, Wigginton and Floyd, has in my view contributed mightily to Piazza and Floyd's health and productivity, kept the bench fresh and been smart percentage baseball. He's managed the rotation very well, rarely pulling someone too soon or too late, and has wisely avoided letting bullpen "roles" dictate who he brings in, instead figuring out situations as they arise -- not perfectly, but well enough that we are out front in league ERA. On top of that, he kept the ship on a steady course when injuries, slumps and some tough losses threatened to swamp the team; a time when his predecessor -- admittedly a better in-game tactician -- might have set the ship on fire. He's a better in-game tactician than Bobby Cox, and Cox will deserve his plaque in the Hall of Fame. He knows that guys like Matsui and Glavine must succeed for the Mets to win, and he supports the key guys. I also like that, though quiet, he is not afraid of the media, as sitting Reyes right before the All-Star break clearly shows. Let's give Art some credit and hope the Phillies stick with Bowa.
Trade Thoughts The Mets need a starter, as everyone knows, and my thoughts on that are in earlier entries. It looks like Erickson will get a start (yipes!), which looks bad, but stranger things have happened than his pitching well. The Mets must not overpay (and I doubt they well). I heard Chris Russo make the idiot comment that the Mets would "have" to trade Jose Reyes for Bartolo Colon if they got the chance. Colon is signed for many millions of dollars more than any other team thought he was worth, and he has disappointed! For taking Colon a team should GET something, not give up the rights to one of the most valuable young players in the game. The Mets have a lot of guys who have significant value: Wigginton, Phillips, Kazmir, Peterson and a slew of B+ prospects. They should be able to get something done. . . . I also hope they are not listening too closely to the calls for bullpen help. Sure, a left-handed upgrade on Stanton/Franco would be nice, but just who is available for that? The recent series the Mets have played have showed that the Mets have excellent bullpen depth. When they fall behind, they can stay in the game because even the back of the bullpen can pitch, whereas most teams have to bring in batting practice guys. . . . Enjoy the games everyone. . . .
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
November 25, 2003: Mets Analyst sends open letter to Jim Duquette calling for signing of Mike Cameron and trade for Richard Hidalgo and urging that Reyes remain at SS.
December 3, 2003: Mets Analyst goes on-line
December 4, 2003: Letter to Duquette republished; campaign for Hidalgo continued.
December 13, 2003: Mike Cameron welcomed to the Mets.
December 18, 2003: Mets Analyst calls for Shane Spencer signing as a backup option for rightfield.
January 27, 2004: Mets Analyst condemns idiot trade of Jaime Cerda for Shawn Sedlacek.
February 24, 2004: Mets Analyst projects the Mets with their rightfield platoon in place as a .500 team with a chance to compete in a division that Mets Analyst notes has had severe talent drain.
April 3, 2004: Mets Analyst throws party for the dumping of Roger Cedeno.
June 20, 2004: Mets Analyst goes crazy, predicts '04 division title for Mets.
June 25, 2004: Duquette listens at last as Mets acquire Hidalgo.
Alright, so I also urged the signing of Karim Garcia for the rightfield platoon and made fun of the Eric Valent addition . . . .Anyway, the Mets could really use another solid starter and, despite reports that none are available, expect the price (in terms of players wanted) to drop for those who earn millions and here is the Mets' hit list, in the order it should be of what they would get for what they would have to give up (i.e., if Wilpon is willing to cough up a little more $$): L. Hernandez, M. Batista, R. Ortiz, K. Benson. Still, the fact that Houston actually started Jeremy Griffiths -- who ranked about 9th on the Mets' depth chart -- shows that the Mets have better pitching depth than a lot of teams. Also, look for contributions later this year from Randy Keisler (who came off the DL at Norfolk 3 weeks ago), particularly if Stanton goes in a trade.
Developments: Anyway, with Vance Wilson coming off the D.L. today, expect him to take some of Jason Phillips playing time, as Phillips has continued to not hit (horrendous .454 OPS in June, still-below-replacement-level .550 OPS in July, and Wilson is better defensively). Some have suggested Karim Garcia's return to the roster will lead to Eric Valent being sent down. Good news: the fact that Valent is out of options will likely keep the Mets from making that blunder. He is VERY valuable, and they need left-handers on the bench. Reports now indicate that the Mets will go with 11 pitchers to make room -- the right move (if they can't get McEwing to consent to demotion), which should mean Wheeler will be the man to go down . . .
Tonight: Phillies starter Brett Myers, who has a great fastball and curveball, is still enduring the struggles of a young pitcher and has been horrible lately. He went three innings against the Mets earlier this year, coming out because of a long rain delay. Matsui, Floyd and Wigginton all had doubles against him in his three innings . . . . He does pitch much better at home than on the road. Mets starter Steve Trachsel pitched six and two-thirds scoreless against the Phillies earlier this year, striking out six. . . So, good omens. . . . Mets Analyst will be in radio range of the Mets but with questionable internet access for the rest of July, so postings may be spotty. . . .
Sunday, July 04, 2004
With two great wins over the Yankees, the Mets find themselves in second place, 2 games out and headed for a four game showdown with the division leaders. They need another starter, and they're likely to get one soon. Benson, Batista, Hernandez (that's in order of likelihood and reverse order of preference) . . . we'll see, and probably will see soon.
In the meantime, the National League Leaderboard for July shows Richard Hildago tied for 1st in homers, first in OPS (min. 10 pa) and tied for fifth in RBI. Shane Spencer is 4th in RBI, and Kaz Matsui is 1st in Runs. That offensive explosion for the month (following a shutout on June 30) has them tied with Florida for 13th in Runs (with 348)in the 16 team NL. By the all-star break, they should be able to capture 10th by passing the Brewers (350), Padres (350) and Diamondbacks (353). That, plus maintaining their lead in ERA (still one tenth in front of the Cubs), is a worthy and realistic goal. . . .
Friday, July 02, 2004
Although I picked the wrong game to go down to Cincinnati, I still enjoyed a beautiful night at the Park, as the Mets remain relevant heading into July. Everyone is talking about the possibility of the Mets adding a starting pitcher, with Ty Wigginton being the main piece of bait on the major league roster. As summarized at the Raindrops, the Mets also have a strong minor-league hand to trade from below their "big two" of David Wright (to be seen at Flushing, it says here, before August)and Scott Kazmir.
The leading rumor is that the Mets are pursuing Kris Benson of the Pirates, with the Pirates reportedly insisting on David Wright. That proposal is obviously absurd. The big righthander was the first player taken in the 1996 draft, but has yet to fulfill his potential at the major league level (or approach it, for that matter). In the majors, he's been injury prone and has pitched progressively worse for the past couple of seasons. His career comparables to this point are guys like Mike Krukow, Patt Rapp and Andy Ashby. Moreover, his '04 salary of $6.1-$7.2 million (depending on incentives) is certainly near and arguably above market price. So you're getting a guy with potential who has never put it together, and you get him for a short period, not cheap. I would say "stay far away," except for one thing: the Mets have Rick Peterson. Benson has stuff, and the Mets may have the guy who can turn that potential into performance. It should not, however, take that many chips to find out. Benson's value on the trade market should be much closer to Richard Hidalgo than to Carlos Beltran or Freddy Garcia. You can be sure the Yankees are not looking at Benson as the guy to bolster their playoff roster; the Mets may be bidding only against themselves. I trust Duquette will not overpay. . . . Still, the guy Mets Analyst is rooting for remains Livan Hernandez.