Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mets Prospect Questions

Having been completely devastated by the Mets trade of Lastings Milledge, I look to what remains of the farm system for consolation. Some players you might not know about who are close to The Show.

Carlos Muniz - P - 26
Not sure why he has been buried for so long. Muniz posted a 0.45 ERA and struck out a guy per inning at Brooklyn in 2003 in his professional debut. He then spent all of 2004 and most of 2005 toiling at A-ball or lower. When he finally made it to High-A St Lucie, he posted a very nice line of:

3.14 ERA
48 IP, 44K
1.15 WHIP

Given his lower minors performance, this should have been predictable. But now, he's 25 and still at A. Why? He spent 2007 closing for AA Binghamton, posting another great line of:

2.45 ERA
58.2 IP, 62K
1.02 WHIP

Still, great. He also collected 54 saves in those two seasons. Upon his callup to AAA, he went unscored-upon in 5.2 innings, with a WHIP of 0.88. He also had a two-inning cup of coffee in the majors which I watched. He didn't look spectacular, but he looked decent. He looks like the type of guy who could really help the back end of the bullpen if he was ever given the chance.

I think he sticks with the big club for 2008. He has a career minor league line of 3.32 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, despite being a little old for each level (good job). He should help this year. According to ZiPS projection, he will post a 4.92 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. I think that's a little pessimistic, but if he posts a 4.5 ERA he'll be an asset.

Adam Bostick - P - 24

One of the acquisitions in the Henry Owens/Matt Lindstrom trade, Bostick has been underwhelming. He posted a 5.66 ERA this year for AAA along with an ugly 1.56 WHIP. Encouragingly enough, he allowed only 106 hits in 97 innings while striking out 91 in a hitter-friendly league, but he walked 45 guys. He seems to have had control problems his whole career, with a minor league average of 4.5 walks per nine innings.

Maybe a switch to the bullpen might help. His strikeout numbers are good and he is lefthanded - guys like that pitch forever. He's having a nice offseason in the AFL with an ERA 1.42 and 17 strikeouts in 18 innings. He's the kind of guy you keep an eye on and hope he gets a little better grip on his control. He's not too old to do so, but its unlikely he amounts to anything as a starter.

Phil Humber - 24 - P

Speaking of hitter-friendly AAA, did you know that Phil Humber, just one year off Tommy John surgery, was in the top ten in ERA, fifth in strikeouts, and FIRST in WHIP in his league last year? He allowed only 1.24 walks+hits per inning and struck out almost a batter per inning in the most hitter-friendly league in all of baseball.

I expect big things from Humber this year. Pelfrey, not so much.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mets Trade Lastings Milledge

Mets Trade Lastings Milledge

World ends.

We traded 22-year old Lastings Milledge for a 31-year old catcher who can’t hit and for a 28-year old right-fielder worse than him. We traded him within the division. This is a nightmare scenario.


Unless there is something that I don’t know about him behind the scenes, this is a horrible trade. There is literally no way around that.

Comparison to the Kazmir deal

This is not as bad for a couple reasons. Kazmir’s deal was made for even dumber reasons than this – the Mets thought they were in the playoff hunt when they were not. Kazmir was a better prospect than Milledge, and we got less in return. Zambrano was worthless. Church and Schneider are at least okay.


Is going to start every day. This isn’t awful. He’s supposedly a great game-caller and will allow Castro to be a super-sup. However, he can’t hit. He really can’t hit, even for catchers. He also is old, will deteriorate defensively, and due $10 million dollars in the next two seasons. We already had a player just like him – Johnny Estrada. I liked the Estrada deal – no, I loved it. Estrada isn’t the best, but he isn’t the worst either. He’s younger and has some upside. Schneider is more expensive and done.


He’s alright. Unfortunately, he’s older than Milledge and not as good. Certainly, he’s not even as good as Milledge today, and Milledge has serious upside. He’s got doubles power, and plays decent defense. He also bats left handed.


Even if Milledge is a failure and does not progress one inch beyond where he is today, the trade is bad. But… that’s ridiculous. This is a kid who hit .300 in his minor league career despite being two to five years younger than everyone at his level. He was the top prep talent in the country and the best position player available in his draft year. Best case scenario the trade is bad – worst case scenario its an absolute disaster.

I don’t think Milledge is the next coming of Gary Sheffield – but he’s a good player. He’s a natural centerfielder and he hit .275 as a 22-year old. He made huge strides in between 2006 and 2007, despite missing a huge chunk of time with a broken foot bone. As I said before, I see Lastings’ upside as an above-average centerfielder who can hit .330 with 20 home runs a year. I see him as a Tony Gwynn with more power and less walks. Like Andruw Jones with less power. Like a miniature Sheffield with good defense. He’s not a Hall of Famer, but he might be the best player on the Nationals as soon as next year.

It's a bad trade, there's no other way to cut it. It is a clear indication of our organizational philosophy and of Omar Minaya's thinking. Just because you have two other highly-regarded outfielders coming up, doesn't mean that you should get eighty cents on the dollar for the one who is already established.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A-Rod, Part 2

Just to weigh in, because I didn't put a Mets angle on it last time.

Now, A-Rod wants a ridiculous, stupid, payroll-crushing, team-dehabilitating contract. The Mets should not pay a player $30+ million a season, unless there is something that I am not understanding regarding the Mets payroll structure.

For instance, the Mets are currently around $120 M per season in payroll, and have been between there and $100 M as far back as I can remember keeping track of the numbers (approximately 2000). If there is room in the payroll to go up to $200 M like the Yankees, or to make a couple big additions thanks to the new stadium or SNY, then maybe A-Rod makes sense. Short of a good, business-side reason to do it, I doubt it will happen.

I will not, however, tolerate the people who say that its not a good baseball decision. Money wise, it might not be practical. Baseball wise, its a no brainer. Sure, we have David Wright and Jose Reyes manning the two positions that A-Rod has ever played in the majors. That's great. But we're talking about the best player in the game here. Available. For nothing but money. No trade, no nothing. Just cash.

I'm just spitballing here, but if I were the Mets, I'd sign A-Rod to play third and move David Wright to second. A lot of people are saying that David should move to first, but he's got a lot of natural talent and doesn't need to be hidden. He has fast hands and feet, and the majority of his errors have been throwing. Putting him at second alleviates those concerns.

Of course, there is always the concern that moving David would affect his hitting, or clubhouse demeanor, or what have you. And those are valid concerns. But if you think that A-Rod could be had within budget, I think you have no choice but to do it. David has a good personality and good baseball smarts. Move him to second, a position of ridiculous scarcity, and let him battle it out with Chase Utley for years to come.

Now, A-Rod might not be the best third baseman fielding-wise, but he won't accept a contract to play first base. Unfortunately, he also can't pitch.

But the object of the game is to score more runs than the other team. There is no discernable way, as far as I can tell, to improve the pitching staff at the moment.... but that is NOT a reason to stand pat and do nothing. Take a look at this.

SS Reyes
CF Beltran
2B Wright
3B Rodriguez
LF Alou
1B Delgado
RF Milledge
C Castro
P Pitcher

Four players who could legitimately compete for the MVP. Reyes and Wright are among the top ten best players under 25. Beltran is, I believe 29. A-Rod would be 31. That core would be around for the next four years. Alou and Delgado can't be counted on to carry the lineup - but when healthy, this team could drop the hammer big time. And if you like, you can even do this.

SS Reyes
RF Milledge
3B Rodriguez
CF Beltran
2B Wright
1B Delgado
LF Alou
C Castro
P Pitcher

This makes the lineup S, R, R, S, R, L, R, R. If Milledge takes the step forward that I expect him to this season, that lineup could score 1000 runs. Of course, the heart of the order is very righthanded, so we need Beltran separating Wright and A-Rod. But I think it woul dbe great. It would also give Beltran, facing righty specialists, the ability to bat lefthanded and tee off for an entire season. Oh, mercy.

By the way, Milledge projection. Having watched him, he's not doing to develop power. He's also not going to develop the speed I expected from him. I see Milledge as - and don't laugh - a young Tony Gwynn. Of course, he's got a completely different body... but his lightning quick bat is going to ensure him high batting averages forever.

He posted a line that was something like .330/.390/.470 in AA two years ago. I expected that the power would develop but it looks at this point like he is too small. He just has the wrist quickness. This year, and for his career, I expect high averages, a decent amount of homers, a little speed, and great defense. Not much speed though.

He posted a .272/.341/.446 last year. Look for Milledge to do something like this if given playing time this season:

.305 ba, .355 obp, .470 slg, for an OPS of 825. He'll hit 20 home runs and steal 16 bases. If he bats up in the order, expect him to score 100 runs and drive in 80. Its not huge, but players like that are a very, very, very valuable commodity. Over the last ten years, NL outfielders under the age of 30 have been able to hit .300 with 20/20 seventeen times. Think about it.

In the prime of his career, Milledge may be able to hit, with some luck: .330/.380/.500 with about 25 homers a year. Remember, he was only 22 this year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Weighing In on A-Rod and Bonds

A-Rod Opts Out of His Contract, Seeks 30M per year

Two things about this situation confuse me.

First of all, why on earth would thus guy do this? The last time he was a free agent he signed a massive contract worth $252 Million dollars. Although that was good news for A-Rod, the contract was so massive that it completely disabled his team from making any signings of trades to be competitive - as a result, he spend several years in Texas finishing in last place. Now that he's a free agent again, he wants the same thing to happen?

Second, why the very personal backlash from the fans and media? You guys vilified A-Rod while he was here - you booed him and called him every pejorative, insulting name in the book. Every day his life was a media circus. He was blamed for the failures of the team at every turn, although by all objective accounts, he had one of the finest seasons in history. Let him go. Why be angry? Why be so personal? If you can get out of New York and get your money somewhere else, why wouldn't you?

A-Rod will probably get 10 years and $300 million. He's the best player in the game. He's on pace of obliterate all kinds of records. He's amazing, and can basically dictate his years, money, position, and everything else. It is his choice to do so. However, it will probably be a mistake for whatever team does it, and a mistake for A-Rod.

Bonds Refuses to Go to Hall of Fame if His Record-Breaking Ball is Displayed with an Asterisk

Good for you. Fuck all these haters. Baseball has been full of cheaters since the beginning of time - if the Hall of Fame stoops to such a low level by displaying a defaced ball, fuck them. I'm pretty convinced about this.

First, Barry Bonds was a hall of fame hitter before any of this steroid stuff happened. He was an incredible mix of power and speed, he played great defense, and was a three or four time MVP before a single illegal substance entered his body (according to allegations).

Second, baseball is full of cheaters. If you're going to display his ball with an asterisk, you had better get the same childish, bullshit treatment ready for every other cheater and scumbag and racist in history. Lets start with Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry. Lets make Babe Ruth's section all about his womanizing and substance abuse. Lets kick out Mickey Mantle. Lets make sure that Rickey Henderson and Hank Aaron have asterisks on their records for the amphetamines that they definitely used. And why stop there? Maybe we should take Mel Ott and Hank Greenberg out of the Hall because of their natural, as opposed to supplemented, strength?

Baseball should do what it has always done. Accept every donation that is made to the Hall. Induct every person into the Hall who deserves it. Its a Hall of Fame, not a Hall of Morals or a Hall of anything else. It celebrates the history and legends and records of baseball... and whether you like it or not, the all-time home run king is Barry Bonds. Admit him, admit his belongings, and celebrate his records... and do what you've always done. Tell the entire story. There is no other way to deal with the steroid era, when nobody is guilty and nobody is innocent and nobody will really know - all we have is empty and baseless suspicion. What happened on the field happened. Allowing personal judgments into it will create a bad precedent.

Monday, October 01, 2007

2008 Cannot Come Fast Enough

A little less than 24 hours ago, the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the last inning of their season, unable to get the ball out of the infield. It was a fitting ending to a lame season.

Following an emotional 13-0 win over the Marlins on Saturday, the Mets and Tom Glavine choked away the division by allowing a 7-run first inning, stranding eight runners in the first three innings, and mailing it in the rest of the way. It was, in many ways, to be expected.

A couple of principles hold true. Baseball is the greatest sport the world has ever known. The Mets, despite the choke job, were alive until the last day of the season. They blew a 7 game lead in 15 games, were down a game, and then battled back to a tie. Until Luis Castillo finally struck out to end it yesterday, the Mets could have rallied back to win.

The Mets have a long offseason to think about things. Losing the division by one game, you realize that every game matters. A blown lead in April. A comeback fallen short in May. A decision to start Brian Lawrence in a meaningless June game is not so meaningless. An extra two weeks of rehab for Pedro looms large. A decision to steal third, or play a certain shift, or a failure to manage the bullpen properly which wore down Feliciano just enough to allow one dribbler.

Baseball is perfect. Its a 162 game battle, and in the end, the better team won. I love the Mets and despise the Phillies, but they won fair and square. At the end, when both teams were running on fumes, they had more left. Their 7-0 record against the Mets down the stretch was decisive. The Mets 1-6 record on their final homestand sealed the deal. I bear no lasting regret.

Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher. Some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains. Nothing should have been taken for granted, but it was. The Mets deserved to lose, and the longer that it sinks in, the more I feel like this is the right thing. An exit here, at home, unceremoniously and depressing and real, on the last day of the season, is probably much more fitting for this edition of my team.

Things are never as good, or as bad as they seem. As Keith Hernandez said as the game wound down through its final outs, "It's only a game, slugger." It's a disappointing way for things to go, but when all is said and done this is a team that won 88 games. Despite losing what felt like every single close game (after Damion Easley was hurt) the Mets had a successful year.

Perceptions and expectations color your experiences. After last year, an 88-win season feels like a failure. Losing the division feels like a failure now, whereas a charge from behind falling short would have felt like an amazing triumph.

It's a long, long offseason. I hope the Mets, particularly the young Mets, learned some valuable lessons. Jose Reyes, David Wright, Lastings Milledge, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman - I'm looking at you. Get home and lick those wounds. It's not as bad as it seems. Critics will pan this collapse as the worst in the history in baseball - and honestly, it probably is. Not only because of the lead, but because of the expectations.

But that's baseball. Next season, everyone will be 0-0, every game will begin 0-0, and 2007 will linger as a lesson delivered by the most devastating method possible. Its sad, but that, like everything else in life, serves to shape us and make us who we are. The collapse can define the team, or it can be the crucible through which this team had to pass before it could become World Champions. Time will tell.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

David Wright's 2006 Playoffs Houdini Impression

In October, I mentioned that the responsibility for the Mets untimely playoff failure fell on the shoulders of none other then David Wright. Not saying he's a choker, not saying he sucks, not saying I want him run out of town. He's a fantastic player. A leader. Good defensively. Willing to walk, dive, slide, and get on base by any means. Moves runners. Hits to the opposite field. Clutch.

However, this October, he stunk. I said so. People disagreed. Well, here's an article by Bob Klapisch which discusses Wright's performance in October. Draw your own conclusions:

Instead, they're counting on Wright to be the hitting machine who had 20
HRs and 74 RBIs in the first half of the 2006 season. An All-Star at the age of
23, Wright had the can't-miss credentials of someone preparing for a long,
uninterrupted run of stardom in New York.

But then came the All-Star break -- and, specifically, the Home Run Derby -- and Wright was evicted from Olympus. He hit just six HRs in his final 243 at-bats, and was uncharacteristically vulnerable in October, too, batting just .160 in the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals.

In fact, while it appeared the Mets were doomed when they lost Pedro
and Orlando Hernandez in the postseason, it was Wright's untimely slump that sabotaged them.

What exactly went wrong? Scouts say Wright became vulnerable to
sliders down and away, chasing pitches out of the strike zone. There's a fine
line between an aggressive swing and one that's fueled by panic; Wright crossed
the line as October's pressure mounted. One bird dog who watched Wright during
the Cardinals series described him as "tight as a drum."

Wright didn't disagree. "Next time, I'll know how to control my emotions better and
relax," Wright said. "Everything is under a microscope in the postseason, and it's easy to get carried away. I definitely got too excited."

That's hardly a sin for a player who debuted at the age of 21 and became a bona fide star in just two summers. Sometimes it's hard to believe Wright is still so young; he
looks and acts like a veteran who understands the challenges of being a big city

Monday, February 26, 2007


Ben Shpigel over at the Times wrote a fantastic article on the Mets young arms, Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber. He, quoting Rick Peterson, among others, talks about how it would be a bad decision for the Mets to expect 200 innings out of their young arms this season.

“If you’re a two-miler, you can’t run a marathon without gradually increasing your mileage,” the pitching coach Rick Peterson said. “It’s the same thing here.”

He's absolutely right. There are two times we need Pelfrey and Humber to be strong.... September and October of this year and in the future... for long careers. We don't need them in May of this season.

Mets: don't panic. Don't panic. Eyes on the prize. World Series only.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Fifth Starter

I can't stop thinking about baseball. Today, it was sub-freezing outside. Its February 13th. This tells me that its time to discuss the Mets starting rotation.

For all practical purposes, I will assume that the rotation will shake out like this.

1. Glavine
2. El Duque
3. Maine
4. Perez
5. Sele/Park/Pelfrey/Humber/Soler

Maine has a chance to be an above league average starter, and Perez, as we know, could be excellent (his 2004 version with an ERA sub 3.00 and more than a K per inning) or horrendous. The real interesting part of this exercise is to see what the Mets will do with the fifth spot.

Right now, the competition consists of two flavors of competitors:
Old, washed up, sucky guys versus young, unproven, unpolished guys.

In general, I always go with youth. I think that Pelfrey and Humber would both likely be better than Sele or Park would this season. HOWEVER... three reasons why we should resist plugging in Humber or Pelfrey right now.

1. They could use time in the minors to work on their stuff. Send them to New Orleans, tell them their jobs are not in danger. Tell them to a) limit their pitch counts and b) work on their secondary pitches. This is because:

2. Neither of these guys have 200 good innings in their arms this season. It has nothing to do with skill or age, but the simple mathematics and history show that you cannot increase a pitchers workload by more than 15% or so per season without a dropoff in ability. Pelfrey might be ok from innings 150-200, but he won't be as good as Pelfrey from innings 1-150. That is a guarantee. Put it in the books. Take a look at Justin Verlander or any other rookie from any season who followed that pattern.

3. Lastly, and most importantly, the Mets likely won't need them in the regular season. The Mets are built for the playoffs. Save the young arms for when it matters - October.

Hopefully, at the end of the year, the Mets rotation could get a boost from a few unexpected places - as a matter of fact, it could be an almost completely different rotation. Best case scenario, we could be looking at a pitching staff thats no longer mediocre, but verging on dominance.

1. Martinez
2. Glavine
3. Pelfrey
4. El Duque/Maine/Perez/Humber

Think about it. Priorities. Lets go Mets.