Thursday, June 30, 2005
DEAR OMAR . . .
We met briefly last October 23rd. I was the guy wearing an extremely bright, official Mets warm up jacket to Fenway Park for game one of a Red Sox-Cardinals World Series. You, then the Mets newly appointed G.M., were more nattily (though, I may say, less boldly) attired. We shook hands. I told you we had to get this thing done, and you smiled and agreed. You followed up with a terrific off season, bringing in the top two free agents, building a top bench from other teams’ discards and doing some necessary housecleaning. As you approach another critical point in your tenure, I thought I would give you some free advice.
As the trading deadline approaches, you are in a position that most of your peers must envy: you have no need at all to subtract payroll and the ability to add it. You still have the Carlos Delgado money in your pocket and now a new stadium is in the offing. You simply have no need to trade away salary. That means, with a team flirting with contention this year (a 1 in 5 shot for the postseason), and intending to fully contend next year, there are only two kinds of trades you should make:
1) Trades that make you better this year without hurting you for next year (i.e., picking up an underperforming, expensive veteran to fill a hole, giving nothing real in return other than accepting a salary dump).
2) Trades that have an excellent chance of making the club better in ‘06.
Rumored Cameron Swaps
Many of the rumored Mike Cameron trades — Cameron for Robinson Cano, Cameron for Eddie Guardado—do not make sense: the projected dropoff from Cameron to Diaz is not worth the upgrade those players would bring in either this year or next. Period. My initial reaction to the recently rumored Cameron for Sheffield trade was that it also should clearly be rejected, but that was my heart over my brain. Closer inspection of the numbers, shows that even though Sheffield is older, he projects to add more value (even accounting for defense), not only this year, but for each of the next four years as well. (Cameron’s projected Wins Above Replacement player, ‘O6-‘09 (in case you do not subscribe to Baseball Prospectus, Omar): 3.4, 3.1, 2.2, 1.5; Sheffield’s: 6.2, 3.7, 3.0, 1.7). In other words, Sheffield is likely to be at least as much better than Cameron next year as he is this year—three wins is a pretty big gap. I can’t root for this trade, but I can’t tell you its stupid either.
On balance, though, I’m pleased that you recognize Cameron as part of the team’s core. He is a very talented player who would not easily be replaced, even if a future Hall of Famer is better. If he goes in a trade for a nonrightfielder, though, the player who comes had better be pretty good, as Cameron is signed to a below market contract, and Victor Diaz will probably not be a better player than Cameron until 2007.
Something has to be done about 2nd base, and I frankly don’t know what you can do there for ‘06. There are a lot candidates, though, for helping the team in ‘05. Ray Durham, Edgardo Alfonzo, Craig Biggio and Brett Boone, for starters, are all veterans on teams out of the running signed to above-market contracts. In other words, if they were free agents today, they would get less than they are making. For this reason, their noncontending teams should be willing to part with them, if the Mets take on the salary, without demanding valuable prospects in return. OK, maybe Boone is done, but you get the point. Of course, these guys have defensive problems, but we could consider an offense/defense platoon similar to what the Red Sox did last year with Mark Bellhorn/Pokey Reese. In Anderson Hernandez (the second coming of Jose Oquendo), the sleek defender now at AAA you wisely snared for Vance Wilson, we’ve got the glove man to insert when the team is in front.
Well, keep up the good work,
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Nothing Like an Off Day
Don't have time to offer much analysis today. Some quick thoughts though. . . . Ouch, that last loss hurt. Though the series was a success, a sweep would have been SO sweet, and we came so close. Still, nothing like an off-day to help recover, and that helped their playoff chances too, as the chart indicates.
According to MetsBlog, there has been no forward movement on the Diaz at first base experiment. That's a real shame, because with Mientkiewicz on the D.L., now is the time to try it. This should mean lots of playing time for Brian Daubach. Woodward and Anderson have done very well, but they are not close to adequate hitters for first base, and that will show quickly. A Wooderson platoon at second is weak as it is (probably a wash with Matsui when you combine off. and def.), but playing time at first will be a real problem. One problem is that Daubach can't hit lefties. If you start Woodward at first against lefties, that means Anderson has to face lefties at second. He pulled that off well on Sunday I must admit, but I have deep doubts about whether that will work in the long run.
No Way, Jose
If you're thinking that means we should see Jose Offerman (a switch-hitter) at first against lefties, think again. Mets Analyst has never been a Jose Offerman fan. He's not a poor man's Julio Franco, he's a destitute man's Julio Franco. At this point, in his career, though, he cannot hit lefties AT ALL (.561 OPS against them since 2002). He's a plausible late inning defensive replacement at 1B for Daubach, ranking as average in that dept., and he can draw an occassional walk against right-handed pitching, but that's it. Come to think of it, you could call him an old man's Marlon Anderson, probably just at the level Marlon will be at in 4 or 5 years. It's hard for me to believe trying Diaz at 1B against lefties is not the Mets best present option. Sigh.
Friday, June 24, 2005
HOW TO SPOT AN IDIOT
One Litmus Test
There are some excellent sites out there in the Mets blogosphere, but some others . . . not so much. I’ve read in a few places calls for the Mets to dump manager Willie Randolph. Anyone who is writing that now, in June of Randolph's first year, is an idiot. They just have no idea what they are talking about. I’m not even going to take the time to defend him here. Suffice to say, he is doing a good job, and the Mets problems do not stem from his fetish for batting David Wright lower in the lineup, Reyes at the top or from his shyness about using Aaron Heilman in high leverage situations. He’s gotten a lot out of his roster, is learning who can do what and has kept them going through adversity better than anyone they’ve had at the helm in a long time (and each manager has had adversity to deal with). Even if he was off to a bad start (he isn't), the notion of firing him now would be absurd. Suggesting Randolph’s firing shows the same awareness of reality as a suggestion that the Mets trade Heilman, Seo and Mientkiewicz for Albert Pujols, and, if you read it somewhere, you can stop reading that blog. . . .
Its In the Stars
Until Beltran and Reyes start to play better, the Mets will not take off, but if those two do, they can. Sometimes it is that simple. In the meantime, the Mets starters continue to get it done. A good outing by Iishi last night, and Randolph is learning when to pull him out of there, behind another good outing from Zambrano (who, thanks to the Mets defense, had to get 13 outs in the first 3 innings Wednesday, and held the Phils to 1 run–no mean feat). Mets pitchers give the team a chance to win every night, but they’re not going to pitch shutouts.
Props to Roberto
Great outing by Roberto Hernandez. He entered the game with a one run lead, men on 1st and 2nd and two outs in the bottom of the seventh. The visiting team has won from that point in a game 58% of the time this year in baseball. He left with the same one run lead after 8 innings, from where visitors have won 86% of the time. So credit Hernandez with a quarter of last night’s win all by himself.
The Mets are very fortunate to have David Wright, who is an outstanding young hitter and already a star – offensively, right at the top of major league third basemen making less than $20 million per year. But, he keeps coming up with new kinds of bonehead plays. After his unbelievable, and costly, failure to throw home (or anywhere) to pick up a sure out with 1st and 3rd and the infield in on Wednesday, came Thursday’s circuitous route to first as if he had a double on a certain INFIELD single. I’m with Keith Hernandez in having never seen someone get thrown out that way before. If the Mets still have their Kanagroo court, that has to be $100.
We’ve been tracking Jose Reyes’ pursuit of Frank Taveras here at Mets Analyst. Taveras holds the Mets record for runs scored by a shortstop, and that’s a record we said at the start of the season must fall for the Mets to be winners.
Mets Record for Runs Scored by SS: 79 runs
Jose Reyes on pace to score: 86 runs
Also watched here is the Mets running game relative to their opponents. This got off to a horrible start, but has improved since mid-May. Without Beltran running, though, they can’t fulfill their preseason promise.
Mets opponents: 54 SB, 7 CS, 89%
Mets: 55 SB, 19 CS, 74%
The Mets have allowed the most steals and the greatest success rate, but have also stolen the most and are third in percentage (and moving up). That difference in steals (one more steal, 12 more caught stealing), probably cost the Mets about 4.5 runs, or about half a win. As noted, they are closing the gap.
Here’s some good Piazza news. The one Mets record he seemed sure to break this year was for grounding into double plays. He started the year with 125, only 13 behind Eddie Kranepool. So far this year he has only hit into 3. It’s a combination of lack of opportunities, he simply hasn’t come up with men on and less than two outs, and his changed hitting style/ability: he has hit into a DP about 10% of the time when it is possible, well below his career norms – the league average is around 12%.
With Matsui and Cario out, the Mets are even more exposed at second. Anderson and Woodward are nice bench players, but they are clearly overmatched in everyday roles, and the Mets are taking a beating there on both sides of the ball. More on this in a future post–no more time today.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
DON’T PANIC YET – REVISED
I discovered a glitch in the list of how many wins a player has contributed relative to a league average player in the list below. I’ve fixed it and changed the numbers accordingly. Sorry about that; it was the first time I had done that calculation. If more than one player is listed on the same line, e.g., Heilman/Hernandez +1, that means between them they have contributed the number shown on that line, in this case, one win. The numbers should add up to -1.5, because the Mets have 1.5 fewer wins than an average team would (and 1.5 more losses, hence 3 games under .500). Put differently, bear in mind that each win a player brings to the team is also a loss he helps the team avoid, so its worth a full game in the standings. I’ll have more on what can be learned from this in a future post.
There’s a Long Way to Go
On this date last year, the Braves were 32-37. The Astros were 35-33, but were about to go on a 10-15 streak, putting them at 45-48 in late July. As you will recall, both teams made the playoffs. If this team starts to play well, there is plenty of time for them to make a move. The Phillies and Indians were mired in a similar position two weeks ago before charging into contention. Of course, the problem, as indicated by the playoff odss chart, is that they are not showing any signs that they are going to start playing well.
It Is Not Just One (or Two) Player’s Fault
The M&M boys have stunk. The Mets worst player award–defined as the player who has hurt the team the most, as opposed to the one with the least ability–is a very close battle between Mientkiewicz and Matsui, but the edge goes to Mientkiewicz, based on playing time.. Both of them have been the worst regulars at their positions in baseball. Yet, without boring you with the statistical explanation, if the Mets had had an average first baseman instead, they probably would have managed just 1 or 2 more wins than they have (with Delgado, probably 3 or 4 more). With an average second baseman, also just 1 more win (with Luis Castillo of the Marlins, whom Mets Analyst begged Duquette to sign in December 2003 instead of Matsui, probably 2 more). Mientkiewicz deserved to be benched and, had Keppinger not broken his leg and Cairo gone on the D.L., Matsui would have lost his job too, but the Mets record is a product of much more than the poor play of these two. Beltran and Reyes are hitting below average for their positions, Diaz is right on the average and Wright and Piazza, while comfortably above, have diminished that value with poor defense. And I haven’t even mentioned the pitching. In short, a lot of things need to get better.
Who Is Responsible?
Here is a list (using Win Shares), of how many wins more or less one can estimate the Mets would have had if they had used a league average player instead of this player. They are listed from best to worst and account for both offense (including pitcher hitting) and defense. In a few cases, players were combined to make their contributions add up (or subtract down) to a relevant number. If a player is not listed, that means the Mets likely would not have done significantly differently with an average player in his place.
You can draw your own conclusions, but a quick glance tells you that to be good, the Mets need more positive contributions from the starting rotation, less negative contribution from the middle infield, and more outstanding production from their everyday stars: Beltran and Wright
Friday, June 17, 2005
Who Is Dauber?
Well, the Mets called up Brian Daubach and started him at first base. By joining the Mets, Dauber (as he was affectionately known to Boston fans, where he was a favorite for his gritty play) comes full circle: He entered baseball as a 17th round draft choice of the Mets back in 1990. After toiling in the Mets minors for a half dozen years, he left for the Marlins system as a minor league free agent, from where he was released after a couple of years. Boston signed him, and in 1999 he became a 27-year old rookie and hit very, very well. This led to three years of regular playing time, 20+ homers per year and popularity in Beantown. He joined the White Sox in 2003 and, at age 31 (Doug Mientkiewicz’s current age, hmm. . .) promptly lost his power, his ability to hit for average and his major league job. He spent most of ‘04 back in the minors in the Red Sox organization, before signing as a free agent with the Mets.
Although there are many marginal players who manage a few decent seasons around age 27 or 28 and then are done, Daubach certainly could have some baseball left in him at age 33, particularly as an on-base man, which is what the Mets need, and has affirmed that possibility by crushing AAA pitching. He has a solid left-handed bat that he uses like a true Red Sox: he is a flyball hitter with moderate power who walks a lot, strikes out a fair amount and never steals. Unlike Mientkiewicz, who hits lefties about the same as he hits righties (and who has raked against them this year), Daubach does not hit lefties at all, and his managers have severely limited his at-bats against them. In the field, he is strictly a first baseman, where he is slightly below average, but not an embarrassment. If used in a platoon role, a .260 average, with a .370 OBP and a .450 SLG would be reasonable expectations. Last night’s 0 for 1 with 3 walks and 2 runs scored showed exactly what he can do.
How to use Dauber and Mientkiewicz presents interesting challenges for Randolph. Tonight, facing the lefthanded Jamie Moyer, is not a night for either of them to start. Daubach is an unsurprising 0 for 7 against him, and Mientkiewicz has only scratched out 4 singles in 18 at-bats. A Diaz/Dauber platoon would likely provide league average offense or better from 1st base, but with Cameron, Cairo and possibly Matsui out at the moment, a lefty is going to have to appear somewhere, even assuming both Diaz and Woodward start.
In any event, you have to give Daubach credit for hanging in there and fighting his way back to the majors. Returning to the minors for a year and a half after five years in the big leagues could not have been fun. After 15 years, welcome to New York Brian, and good luck.
What’s on Second?
With the starter having lost his job at first, attention of Mets fans will be focused on the other part of their Abbot and Costello level play: second base. Matsui, it must be admitted, has been terrible and, sadly, getting worse. He has been the worst hitting regular second baseman in the majors this year, and has cost the team about 10 runs (which translates to about 1 win) compared to major league average. Unfortunately, the Mets do not have an easy way of getting to league average offense here. They have lots of guys who can play there: Cairo (currently on the DL), Woodward, Anderson and Keppinger (currently at AAA) can all play the position and hit better than Matsui has. Though none is a black hole, neither can any one of them be expected to approach league average for the position. In fact, offensively it is very hard to choose amongst the four, and defensively, they are all slightly below average, but fine (except for Anderson, who is bad defensively). Short term, I think they ought to try Keppinger or Woodward, but that’s just the talk of a fan who wants a change. If they stay in this thing (or get back into it), this is an area where they will need to make a move (like taking Ray Durham off the Giants hands). . .
Thursday, June 16, 2005
It Got Late Late . . .
Before you read any further, ask yourself: What kind of person would stay up past midnight, when they had to get up around 6:00, just to watch a struggling, last place team finish another forgettable game? Is that the kind of peson whose opinion should interest you in the slightest? Is that the kind of person you see in the mirror? Well, if you've answered yes, you are a fan, one of the chosen people. No matter how many years we spend in the wilderness, we will return to the promised land. And you do deserve to consider these pseudo bright spots, manna from heaven, as it were.
Ringing in My Ears
Tie game, bottom of the 8th, first and third, two outs, the A's best hitter---by far--- striding to the plate. I heard Randolph interviewed on WFAN last week, and he said that he was still trying the Mets sole lefty reliever, Royce Ring, in different spots and would NOT, just yet, bring the rookie into a crucial, game-on-the-line situation. Well, I guess Willie changed his mind, and the kid did great. He struck out Chavez on four pitches and really made him look silly in the process. But why, why, why have your lefty specialist start the ninth against a switch-hitting pinch hitter who does much better from the right side, when you have Bell, Hernandez, Graves, etc. waiting in the pen? That leadoff walk (on a 3-2 pitch) cost us the game, but I blame Randloph not Ring. Actually, you really have to blame the offense. Two runs in 18 innnings, you deserve 0-2. There is, though, the silver lining of our rookie lefty doing his job in a very tough spot.
Maybe We Need to Boo Him?
Soon to be erstwhile Mets first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz went a respectable 1 for 3 with a walk, a double, a run and a rbi last night. This matches an interesting fact about him. He hits like a first baseman on the road, but like a pitcher at home. He is hitting a respectable .261 with a .353 OBP and a .500 slugging for an .853 OPS away from home. A major league average first baseman is .276/.359/.463/.822, so he's doing just fine away from Shea. At home, though, in virtually the same number of at-bats, he's .156/.260/.211/.471, shockingly close to the average pitcher, who is .145/.176/.185/.361, and worse than Zambrano, Ishii and Benson. . . . How about a home/road platoon? Send him down to the minors for homestands? Make him stay at a hotel in New York? Boo him at home? It's an amazing gap.
This year, at least, he's better than Kazmir. . .
Zambrano had another terrific outing last night, using what Pedro has described as his own key pitch: strike one. It seemed that Zambrano started almost every hitter with a strike. For the season, his ERA is down to 4.06, but since April it has been about 3.00. It took Peterson more than 10 minutes, but Zambrano seems to be fixed. Kazmir, who would still be in AAA, or even AA, if he were a Met, is sporting a 4.70 ERA. Not that I wouldn't undo that trade in a second, but its great to see Zambrano pitching well. We will need him when the better days come.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Starting today, Mets Analyst will be posting playoff odds for the Mets in a graph at the top of the page (which you should see above). The blue area shows the chances of winning the division, and the orange shows the chance of winning the wild card, so that stacked, they show the total playoff chance. This will be updated daily, or close to it, so you can follow the ups and downs of the Mets chances. The odds themselves come from Baseball Prospectus, and you can read an article about how they are calculated and how the method has worked historically here. Essentially, the system looks at how each team has hit and pitched so far this season and who it has done that against, assumes that all teams will hit and pitch the same the rest of the season, calculates odds for each game the rest of the year, and then plays out the season a million times under a Monte Carlo simulation to see what happens. It gives a good objective measure of likely outcomes GIVEN HOW A TEAM HAS PLAYED, but it takes no account of likely changes (Doug Mientkiewicz being benched, Mike Cameron not hitting at an MVP level). I hope you enjoy this new feature, and a special thanks to my nephew for invaluable help with chart uploading.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Read yesterday's entry. Feel yesterday's entry. Remember yesterday's entry. Then take the day off from your caring and bring your faith back tomorrow. There's months of baseball left to play, and that's a good thing.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Just a great, great win last night. A game tying inside the park home run in the bottom of the ninth (that has to be a franchise first), followed by a two-strike-two-out-come-from-behind-game-winner in the bottom of the tenth, almost five hours after the scheduled start time. That was the kind of game that lives in a fan's memory forever, making it all worthwhile and keeping us coming back through all the tough times. This one goes up there in the regular-season memory banks with a late-inning multi-run comeback climaxed by a Steve Henderson home run in 1980, an endless night in Atlanta in '86 ending with a Met win in the 16th(?) and fireworks for fireworks night at 4:00 a.m. (in response to this game, MLB created a curfew rule), and a Piazza-homer-capping rally from six runs down against Atlanta in '99 or '00. . . . The details of these games are fuzzy, and retrosheet is down, or I would be more precise and include boxscores. The important stuff, though, the incredible feeling that spawns lifetime devotion, the magic that makes you pity those not fortunate enough to be Mets fans, that part remains crystal clear, and doesn't need a website to recall it.
You Happy Few
Of course, there is nothing like being at a game like that: persevering through a three-game slide into last place, a bad forecast, a nearly two hour rain delay, a team losing in the ninth and blowing it in the tenth, to be there, near midnight, to have your faith rewarded in company with a thousands strong band of brothers. I sit here jealously in the Midwest, but the game still came across well on the radio. Kudos to Howie Rose (who had the play-by-play in the 10th) and Gary Cohen, who did it justice. Still, to be there. . . .
He Did It!
On the Sportcenter highlight, they turned up the sound from the Mets TV broadcast as Floyd's ball soared towards 371. You could hear Dave O'Brien's (?) exuberant, spontaneous "He Did It!" replacing his usual home run call. Where have I heard that before? Break out your 1986 Mets highlight video (if you don't own one -- find a copy on E-bay, its a must have) and fastforward to the highlight of Game 3 of the NLCS. In those days, Gary Thorne (now featured on ESPN) teamed with the late Bob Murphy as the Mets radio voices. With the series tied at 1-1 and the Mets trailing in the game by one run with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Backman on second, Dykstra lofts a fly to right (they have the radio sound with the video). Bob Murphy was on the play-by-play, and Murph, who would never let you get your hopes up only to be let down, gave a very cautious call -- "a fly ball. . . to deep right field. . . Bass going back to the warning track. . ." and Thorne cuts in: "HE DID IT!" just before Murph cries out "Home run!" I was at that game with my Dad and that is the loudest I ever heard Shea or any ballpark get (and I've been to hundreds of games, including every postseason game in '86). I've listened to that tape countless times, and the announcer gave the same call last night. Enjoy it everyone, and keep the faith.
Friday, June 10, 2005
I guess this is obvious to everyone, but it is hard to understand why Randolph gave an 11th inning tie game to Heath Bell instead of Aaron Heilman. Heilman has not been scored on since his move to the bullpen; Bell had allowed runs in 2 of his last three outings. I was screaming at the television as soon as Bell started the inning, and I'm sure I was not alone. That mistake cost us a game we really should have had. To lose a series at home against the Astros, even with our injuries, is just terrible.
Left Side of the Infield
The notion of playing Victor Diaz some at first base, urged here since April 22, is finally getting some play, as Randolph now admits they're considering it. It becomes more glaring when, as last night, the "bad Reyes" shows up at the bat, but, in any event, you cannot expect to win playing utility infielders (i.e., Cairo, Anderson or Woodward) at first base. They have got to do something over there, and soon. All of the above mentioned utility infiielders can, however, play second base, which has also turned into a black hole. . . .
Silver Lining Dept.
The starting pitchers seem to have really put it together. Glavine and Zambrano both pitched well enough to win. The Mets are much better off with great play at some positions (3b and the outfield) and two blackholes than just being average everywhere, because the blackholes should be a lot easier to improve on. When they do, if the starters keep going, watch out. . .
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
We're In. . .
Let the record reflect that, if the season ended today, the Mets would play the Braves in a one-game playoff for the Wild Card. In other words, we would be in a playoff for the playoffs. This is the first time the Mets have been in playoff position this late in the season since . . . OK, I don't know when, but it's great. Baseball Prospectus is showing a 47% chance for the Mets to make the playoffs. . . .
Poor Minky . . .
I do feel bad for Doug M., and you have to respect the guy in that he has basically come to the point of committing hari-cari. When I saw him leap into the stands after a foul ball on Sunday, I actually felt sad for him. The ball was about 10 rows deep, and he had no chance at it. Nonetheless, he literally threw his whole body into the stands --- we're not talking about leaning over the rail and tipping in; we're talking about a full body racing dive into the stands --- in a hopeless pursuit of the ball. It was a dangerous play, where he could really get hurt, and had no chance of success. I had never seen anything quite like it, and my thought was: "this guy wants to contribute so much that he will give whatever he can to show he's trying, even symbollically injuring himself." You have to respect the effort, even as you feel bad about the failure that is driving it. Well, it turns out he did hurt himself on that play, and he is now day-to-day. Let's keep him away from the knives, because I fear he will cut himself just to show that he does bleed orange and blue. . . .
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
FIVE QUICK HITS
Get Him the Glove
Mets Analyst started calling for working out Victor Diaz (a former infielder) at first base even before Mike Cameron started swinging at live pitching during his rehab. The guy is young, athletic and can hit. Listening to Sunday's game on ESPN radio, I heard Dave Campbell say that the Mets are starting to have Diaz take grounders at first -- the first and only mention of that I've heard or read. It is too obvious for them not to be trying. . . .
Amateur Draft Today
Lots of speculation about who the Mets will take with the #9 pick in today's draft, most of it cenetered around some polished college pitchers -- following the Heilman-Humber route as opposed to the Kazmir-Milledge route. Too soon to say which has been more effective for them. This pick is important, though, in the sense that I deeply hope that the Mets will not pick this high again for a good number of years (and, with a good record this year, would likely actually forfeit next year's first round pick if they signed Ramon Hernandez as an FA to catch for them). The great college pitchers do not drop to where the Mets (hopefully) will be picking in the future.
Danny Graves Sweepstakes
I'm in the group that does not see the point here. He has been horrible for awhile now, and was not actually that great even when he was successful. The Mets are already carrying one more pitcher than they have to, Aybar has better stuff and DeJean has more recent success. . . . I don't see it, unless Rick Peterson thinks he can have the magic touch.
NO IBB'S WITH ISHII!!
Willie has twice ordered Ishii to intentionally walk the #8 hitter to face the pitcher this season. In some circumstances, this is a good strategy, but, the way Ishii loses his rhythm, it is never a good idea with him. The first time Randolph tried it, Ishii walked the pitcher. This time (no doubt trying to avoid that), he grooved an 85 mph b.p. fastball over the center of the plate that the pitcher smacked for a double. Ishii actually pitched well Sunday, and, if Beltran had caught a ball that he should have, it could have turned out differently. Anyway, going forward, NEVER HAVE ISHII ISSUE AN INTENTIONAL WALK!
Going For First
This is really a soft spot in the Mets schedule, a homestand against the Giants, Astros and Angels (catching the latter at the end of a long road swing and without Guerrero), followed by visits to weak-sister AL teams Oakland and Seattle. Now is the time to make hay. Oswalt is no picnic, but let's sweep!
Sunday, June 05, 2005
WHAT A RACE!
It's So Close
As the Mets get set to throw the first pitch this afternoon, with the Braves and Marlins losing late and the Nationals and Phillies winning late, it looks as though the Mets have a chance to finish the day tied for first and a chance to finish the day alone in last, depending on how they do. That's pretty incredible for the first week of June. Indeed, it appears likely that Saturday's first place Marlins will be Sunday's last place Marlins.
Good News for Statheads
Baseball Prospectus maintains a "Playoff Odds Report." It uses how the team has hit and pitched so far this season, adjusting for the quality of the teams they've played against and the parks they've played in, and uses those to calculate the winning percentage the team should achieve in neutral circumstances, and then plays out the rest of the seaon one million times using those winning percentages as the "true" levels for each team. Thus, the assumption in that the Mets will continue to get MVP production from rightfield, nothing from first base and that Glavine will be bad. . . . Well, at the moment, the Mets are the team showing the best chance to win the NL East (30%), with an average final record of 87-75. They show a 41% chance of making the playoffs (which sounds reasonable). The Marlins are the second choice to win the division (21%) and the Nationals have the smallest chance (13%). . . . The Cardinals and Padres are both better than 2 to 1 to win their divisions, and they show an equal chance of the Wild Card coming from the East and the Central, and almost no chance (6%) of it coming from the West---the system does not believe in the Diamondbacks.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Injury News Not All Bad. . .
I'm back from my own personal west coast swing (and minor surgery), and the Mets have done very well without me, thank you. True, they would have done better had they not farmed out Diaz, but that's another story. . . . As the Giants roll into town sans Barry Bonds, it continues a pattern of Mets good fortune: they have played a remarkable number of teams who were missing their best or second best player at the time. The Mets have played the Braves 9 times and Chipper missed 6 games and Giles missed 2; they've played the Phillies 6 times and Thome missed 4 games; they played Houston 3 times, all without Berkman; they played three with the Yankees, 1 1/2 without Jeter and two without Sheffield, I believe Willis and one other Florida ace had to skip a start against the Mets, now we get the Giants without Bonds, to be followed by the Angels without Guerrero. I'll take it. . . .
Left Side Defense
I was raving to my nephew about how good Wright and Reyes are already, and he asked me about their defense. I guessed that Wright was around league average statistically, and Reyes was a bit error prone but was doing well in total chances. I was wrong. Wright is last or next to last among NL regulars in everything: Fielding pct., Range Factor, Zone Rating, Double Plays, Errors. Reyes is only slightly better, ranking near the middle in DP's but down at the bottom otherwise. My eyes (so much for my scouting career) told me that Wright in particular was OK at getting to balls, just a bit error prone, but, to date, the numbers do not back that up. Its no tragedy, but the numbers, so far, are not good. . . .