Wednesday, August 31, 2005
We're just not used to it. Not programmed to think that way. Haven't really thought that through. And its not just the fans, it looks like management is the same way. The question: Who should be on the Mets post-season 25 man roster? The possibility of being in the pennant chase has been so new and intoxicating that all attention has been paid to that upcoming party, with little thought devoted to the morning after. If the Mets make the post-season, we will actually want to try to win in the playoffs. The players who are on the team at midnight tonight (including the DL) are the players who will be eligible to help us do so.
What is Needed
Right now the Mets roster has two serious flaws: no left-handed reliever and no half-way decent 2nd baseman. For the former they have (in order of apparent preference) Tim Hamaluck, Royce Ring, Dae-Sung Koo and Kaz Ishii in the minors, for the latter they have Anderson Hernandez. Some of these guys will appear for the pennant drive, but, if that succeeds, one from column A and Hernandez from column B will be wanted in the post-season.
Who Should Go
To call up these guys, the Mets would need to clear two roster spots today (conceivably after tonight's game). Those cut can return almost immediately for the pennant drive, but they're off the post-season roster. Who should go? Well, they have 11 pitchers at the moment, and adding the lefty would make 12. You really only need 10 in the post-season, because off-days allow the use of a 4-man rotation. That means Zambrano would be in the post-season bullpen, along with Trachsel or Seo. Somebody should be sent down for a day, and, to me, that someone is Heath Bell. Padilla and Zambrano have both been better than Bell, and Trachsel just doesn't seem politically plausible (never mind that he could still emerge as one of the post-season top 4 starters). That will leave an 11-man post-season staff.
Who is the other person to be replaced on the postseason roster?
1) Kaz Matsui -- My pick. His only value is as the best defensive second baseman on the roster. He will lose that status the moment Hernandez is called up. If Hernandez flops, Cairo is the post-season starter anyway, and Hernandez is a superior defender/pinch runner to Matsui.
2) Mike DeFelice -- There will be no need to start DeFelice in the playoffs. Piazza is very likely to return by that time. In the unlikely event that he does not, DeFelice still will not play unless Castro gets hurt. If Castro gets disabled, DeFelice can be added to the roster. If Castro is hurt but not for multiple games (i.e., not disabled), Jacobs can fill in. This is a gambling approach, but 95% safe.
3) Gerald Williams -- His only value is as a defensive replacement for the starting outfield, a role Chris Woodward can play almost as well.
4) Another pitcher.
5) Jose Offerman -- has some value as pinch hitter though.
My guess is that the Mets, caught flat-footed by the idea of actually be in the playoffs, but I hope not.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Mets Analyst has moved from tapping to pounding the drum for an Anderson Hernandez call-up, and that relates to a question posed today on Mets Blog: why haven't the Mets recalled Doug Mientkiewicz yet from his rehab assignment? The answer from Mets Analyst is that they do not want to give up the post-season roster spot. As things stand, Mientkiewicz is eligible from his place on the D.L.. If he were activated, someone on the current roster would have to be demoted, and thus lose post-season eligibility. Look for Dougie to be activated as soon as post-season roster's are set (i.e., for Thursday or, since he's already in Florida, for Friday at the Marlins). This is a good choice by Mets management, but how about clearing that one spot for Anderson Hernandez? By the way, he got two more hits last night and scored twice. . .
A Nice Off Day
Well, a good day, considering the Mets didn't play. For instance, two days after I wrote a eulogy for Flushing Local (see below), she resumed blogging. I've restored the link and look forward to her commmentary the rest of the way. . . . For another thing, the Marlins lost. That leaves the Mets with a 25% chance of ending the season as the Wild Card, the highest point that figure has reached all season. Their two closing defeats in San Francisco hurt in the division race, but no other ground was lost. Now, though, it starts to get serious. As Bob Murphy would have said, "fasten your seat belts."
Thought for the Day
Let's call up Anderson Hernandez the day before rosters expand and leave Matsui, Gerald Williams or a reliever off the post-season roster. . . .
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Not the Mets, . . . me. I'm bragging. A week ago, I predicted an 8 or 9 game winning streak (see below), and while that was a little off, the Mets have won 7 of 8 over the predicted span, including the last 5 in a row. Also, Baseball Prosepectus has a "Predictaron" contest, in which you had to predict the final records of every team before the season started. They had about 1,100 entries, and I am currently sitting in 13th place. In both cases, my near success is likely due to faith (I predicted the Mets would win 90 games, coming closer to their current projection than many entries that did not look at the team through rose-colored glasses) more than analysis, but I'll take it.
Speaking of predictions, Metsradamus is one of two standout recent additions to the Mets blogosphere that I've added to my updated links. Metsradumus posts very frequently and adds biting, but also often very funny, commentary. Mets Walkoffs blends current Mets doings with past Mets doings, particularly but not exclusively in the context of Met Walkoff wins. Its a niche that I didn't think sounded that promising, but has really become a great blog. Both of these guys have real talent and add serious effort. I've deleted my one-time favorite links that have gone inactive. A special thanks for while she was at it to Flushing Local. Flushing Local and The Raindrops were the best of the original Mets bloggers, but obviously had actual lives that made continuing with the quality they produced just not make sense. I'm sure Kaley and Avkash are both enjoying the current renaissance, even if they are not reporting it to us.
Bring on Anderson
The Mets continue to live with a black hole at second base, with Randolph favoring the steady, but bad, Miguel Cairo, over the uneven and often horrible Matsui. Just how bad are they? Among the 17 NL 2nd basemen with 200 AB's, they rank 16 (Cairo .654) and 17 (Matsui .609) in OPS, and they are way behind to boot. There is only one other under .700, and even 11th place is at .750. The league average for second basemen is .756, and that includes at-bats by backups. Putting it differently, they're about as much worse than average as David Wright has been better than average. With average production from 2nd base instead of these two, the Mets would have scored about 20 more runs, and likely would have at least a couple more wins. When you add in their subpar defense (using Win Shares), three lost wins so far this year is a reasonable calculation of the difference between them and an average second baseman. That means, with an average 2nd baseman, the Mets would be leading the Wild Card by 1 1/2 games and trailing the Braves by 1.
While there may not be an average 2nd baseman easily available, Anderson Hernandez can come up from AAA late next week when rosters expand, and you have to think (and pray) the Mets will give him a Mike Jacobs shot. By all reports he is far superior defensively, so it is hard to see how he could do worse than the incumbents. He's hit .327 with a .384 OBP and a .418 Slg. at Norfolk AAA (stealing 24 bases in 33 attempts), following his promotion from AA, where he hit even better. Though he has never hit before this year, he IS hitting this year, and there simply are no other 2nd base options. So let's see Hernandez getting his first start before the week is out.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I only have time to jot some quick thoughts . . . which is what happens when you stay up past 1:00 in the morning watching a game two nights in a row. But wow! I mean, wow! If you haven't watched the Mets back-to-back 14-1, 18-4 victories, you have really been missing something. . . . Three Mets came to the plate last night with a chance for the cycle (Jacobs and Wright needing triples (Jacobs homered), and Reyes needing a double, and they all had walks to boot). . . .
Mike Jacobs murders pitches on the inside half between his ankles and his knees. Lots of major league pitches are thrown there, and we will see what happens when pitchers learn to avoid that area with him, but until them: wow. His long hits have almost all been to the same spot: pulled, but not dead-pulled, to deep right center. . . . The guy sure looks like he can play first: he's managed to catch 6 of the 7 throws bounced to him in his three games there, and is 2 for 2 in tough chances on balls hit to him. He hasn't had to throw yet. . . . Jacob is already up to 3rd best Met ever to where # 27 (behind Craig Swan and Dennis Cook). . . .
He's reclaimed the league lead in triples; his OPS is almost at .700 (.698); his defense is really looking good (boy, can he finish a double play); and he even had a walk last night.
He's exceeding even our lofty expectations for him. 22 years old and he is headed for a 100 RBI plus season, is now 5th in the NL in batting, missed three home runs last night by inches, and only because of a weird, deep cut-out in left-field at the BOB which turned one of his homers into a double. Since the All-Star break, his .383 batting average and 1.115 OPS are tops in the league.
Come on Pedro, let's keep it going!
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Before the Mets final game with Pittsburgh on Thursday, I had an intuition that the Mets would lose that game, and the reel off a 9 or 10 game winning streak. With two right, but at least 8 more wins needed, it seemed like now was the time to put the "prediction" out there. Go Mets.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Welcome Back Carlos
It was great to see (or, in my case, listen) to Carlos Beltran back on the field last night. You have to give the guy credit for coming back so quickly, as the fans at the ballpark clearly did. There was also some indication that the whole incident may turn out to be an important part of his adjustment to New York. In his first two at-bats he got a four pitch walk and a bunt single, two events that have been virtually unseen from him this year, as he has swung for the fences at almost every opportunity. . . . I have to note that walking Floyd intentionally with nobody out and a man on 2nd in a 1-1 game in the 4th inning has to be one of the worst managerial moves of the year. Not just because David Wright was on-deck (he ended up driving them both in with a single, following a wild pitch), but rather because of the great chance of turning a one-run inning into a game turning big inning. That was just nuts. The IBB alone changed the Mets chances of winning from 64% to 69%. Thanks Lloyd.
Mike, Mike and Mike
Mike Cameron has broken cheekbones. Mike Piazza now has a broken hand. And that means that Mike Jacobs gets an early call-up to the majors. Jacobs, is a future part time DH, who was the Mets Minor League Player of the Year in 2003, before losing last year to injury. He was hitting a ton at AA and has a potent left-handed bat, and can hang in against left-handed pitching. His defensive reputation, however, is poor, and he seems unlikely to get off the bench at all for the time being. I expect it will be all Castro all the time until Piazza's return. . . .
We Are In This Thing
Two and a half games out in the Wild Card in mid-August makes this year better than last, for sure, and hope certainly remains here at Mets Analyst. The Mets have starting pitching depth that is simply unmatched among their Wild Card rivals, and actually have played well enough to have a better record than they do. They've lost so many close, almost flukey, heartbreakers (the games I went to in Cincinatti on opening day and in Pittsburgh last month for starters), most recently the Pedro-7-inning no-no and the Collision Game. The possibility of jumping from .500 team to winning team is plainly there. The Mets are 5th in the league in pitching and 5th in the league in scoring --- only the Cards and Braves surpass them in both departments. That is playoff potential. They must, however, make hay before Labor Day. That weekend starts a brutal road trip (3 in Atlanta, 4 in St. Louis) and a tougher subsequent schedule that will really test them. The bonus? If the Mets can somehow stay in this to the end, they finish with 4 home games against Colorado, the worst road team in the league.
Over at The Hardball Times, one of the best all-around baseball websites, Dave Studeman has an article listing the top 5 players based on 2005 contribution for every age, and 6 Mets make the lists (though mostly at the older end). Who are they? . . . . David Wright is the # 2 22-year old (behind Miguel Cabrera). Cliff Floyd has been the best 32-year old in the game this year (and Mike Cameron checks in at # 4 -- he'll be missed). Pedro Martinez has been the 5th best 33-year old (two almost Mets, Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado head that list). Mike Piazza has been the 5th best 36-year old (Sheffield heads that list), and, finally, Roberto Hernandez is # 3 among 40-year olds (Kenny Rogers is 1st). Looking at the list helps to put some of the Mets' seasons into perspective (and adds worry about our missing Mikes).
The Hardball Times is also writing a multipart series on "Franchises at Birth." The Mets history, abley written and well researched by Steve Treder, is worth checking out. This link is to Part Two, but from there you can link to Part One which (obviously) you should read first.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
BACK FROM VACATION
Where We Stand. . .
Well, as of this writing [before what turned out to be a loss to San Diego], the Mets are not too far from where we left them two plus weeks ago. After a poor road trip, they ended their homestand strongly and, thanks to the weakness of other teams, got their playoff chances back over 20%. As of this writing, the Mets actually have the greatest chance of ending up as the Wild Card (14%) that they’ve had since Mets Analyst began tracking in early June. The only team with a better chances is the Astros, but it’s a much better chance (44%), which is why they must be rooted against, no matter what team they are playing. The problem is that the Mets are back on the road. Please, can we just have one winning road trip?
Jose Reyes’ recent hot streak has given him an overwhelming chance of breaking the Mets record for runs scored by a shortstop (89, Frank Taveras), that Mets Analyst has been tracking all season as a key for Mets success. With 70 runs scored, he’s on a pace for 102 runs. He has already broken Taveras’ record of stolen bases by a shortstop of 32 (Bud Harrelson’s best was 28), which Taveras set in a different year from his runs scored record. This suggests a certain perspective on Reyes’ season. Yes, he has looked lost at times and been very frustrating, and his OBP is still horrible. Yet, one may reasonably ask: is this the best offensive season ever for a Mets shortstop? It is pretty amazing to ask that question about a 22-year old. Keep in mind 22 is VERY young; there are only three players in the National League under age 23 with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title: Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, and Reyes.
Finding the Best Season
So what player/season, beside Jose Reyes ‘05, could be the best offensive season ever by a Mets shortstop? Well, the first thing you notice in studying the question is the absolute dearth of good offensive seasons by Mets shortstops. There just aren’t any. One it tempted to select Howard Johnson in 1990 and Hubie Brooks in 1984—good hitters who played some short, but were not the team’s primary player at shortstop. They can be eliminated though because filling out the rest of the playing time at SS with replacement level offense would knock them off the podium (though, not necessarily by much). Indeed, the record is so weak that seasons like Elio Chacon’s 1962 (he hit .236 with 2 home runs) have to be studied (his one skill was that he could walk–counter to the Latin player stereotype (Chacon was from Venezuela)—he did manage a .368 OBP). Casting this season, along with Eddie Bressoud 1966, Frank Taveras 1980, and Jose Vizcaino 1995 into the also ran category, leaves three legitimate candidates for best hitting season ever by a Mets shortstop.
The Top Three
Boy, is it close. Depending on how you look at it, you could make a case for any of these three seasons. Differences in playing time and offensive era make it very tough. Here is Mets Analyst's order, but notice that none of them were anything approaching Silver Slugger material.
#3: Jose Reyes, 2003
.307 avg., .334 obp, .434 slg, over 274 ab (69 games). Also 13 sb, caught 3 times while grounding into one double play. His OPS was 100% of league average (only Met shortstop season in which league average offense was achieved), with 40 "runs created" (an all encompassing Bill James formula for production) and a VORP (baseball prospectus estimate of the number of runs his team scored because he batted rather than a replacement level shortstop) of 21.6. Although he played less than half a season, he had 50% more games at shortstop than any other Met that year. He hit far better than any other Met shortstop ever has, and had Reyes not gone down with an injury, or had he even managed a few more weeks of play, this season would almost certainly rank first.
#2: Kazuo Matui, 2004.
.272 avg., .331 obp, .396 slg, over 466 ab. He stole 14 bases, was caught only 3 times and grounded into only three double plays. His OPS was 88% of the league average, he had 60 "runs created" A VORP of 23.7. Hard to believe that we are now longing for him to get back to this disappointing level of production. Even though it fell far short of expectations, by historical standards, it was a great offensive year for a Mets shortstop.
#1: Bud Harrelson, 1970
.243 avg., .351 obp, .309 slg, over 564 ab. He stole 23 bases, was caught only 4 times and grounded into 9 double plays. While his "rate" statistics, other than obp, are lower, he did it at a time of much lower run scoring, and managed a .259 eqa (a park and season adjusted rate stat from baseball prospectus that includes all offensive contributions), the best of any Mets shortstop-season, other than Reyes’ 2003. Moreover, he did manage 61 runs created and contributed more runs above a replacement batter (18) in 1970 than any Mets shortstop has in any other season.
This year, with a .285 avg., a .305 obp and a .382 slg., Reyes is NOT on track to surpass any of these three seasons. Indeed, he would not even pass the 4th place season, Jose Vizcaino’s 1995. Yet, these years are all so mediocre and so tightly bunched, that surpassing them is still easily within reach, and he would certainly do so if he continued to play as he has since the All-Star break.