Monday, January 31, 2005

 

It Ain't Sosa

Breathe easy Mets fans, Sammy Sosa will not be our problem. He is supposedly en route to Baltimore in exchange for Jerry Hairston, Mike Fontenot, Dave Crouthers and a boatload of cash. Admittedly, I was at first relieved when I heard about this trade. Like most fans, I was not too pumped about the idea of Sosa on the Mets, but that was mainly because rumor had it that Sosa would only waive his no trade clause if he received a contract extension from his new team. Apparently, this was not the case.

Sosa has agreed to a trade without a contract extension and the Orioles appear to have made about like bandits. They are giving up Hairston, a player they don’t need since they have Brian Roberts and two marginal prospects for a year of Sosa at $9 million. In any other division, they would be a force. While I know the Cubs were desperate to rid themselves of a player they perceive as a cancer, they may have given up a bit too much here. If the Mets could’ve gotten Sosa under similar circumstances (i.e. for Cliff Floyd), I would’ve been all for it.

Crazy, you ask? Hardly. Think of it this way, Sosa for one year versus Floyd for two? The Mets cannot get rid of Floyd’s contract soon enough and this would’ve been a way of doing so. Not only that, Sosa will probably be better than Floyd next season, PECOTA (the projection system of Baseball Prospectus) sure thinks so. Here are the predicted lines for each player

Sosa 385 AB, .259/.351/.515, 26 HR, 25.3 VORP
Floyd 381 AB, .270/.363/.476, 17 HR, 23.1 VORP

If Floyd has a season like this, with a few more ABs, the Mets would be ecstatic; however, when you consider that this trade would’ve allowed them to get out from under his contract a year sooner, it would’ve been beneficial. Even last year, supposedly a terrible one for Sosa, he was .253/.332/.517 while Floyd was .260/.352/.462 and played in 18 fewer games. This analysis ignores park effects, but it shows that at the very least, they were comparable players.

Mets fans have fallen in love with Omar, but were fearful of the acquisition of Sosa who has fallen from grace faster than Britney Spears because they felt Omar had an infatuation with Sosa since he signed him. That might be true, but getting him for one year would not have been terrible. I cannot imagine he is as awful a guy as the Cubs have made him out to be. Obviously, the guy is an egomaniac, so are 90% of professional athletes. The Cubs would have you believe he was melanoma incarnate. He was made the scapegoat for the Cubs failures and they have suffered for it because they did not get appropriate value for his ability. The Orioles reaped the benefits, it could’ve been the Mets.

 

Sorry For the Delay

My move is about done, so Metsmerized will return tomorrow at its normal frequency.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

 

Who Needs a Farm System Anyway, Right?

For all the goodwill the Mets had established with their fans this offseason, a lot of it was undermined yesterday when they compounded their failure to get Delgado with a boneheaded trade that involves them sending rising first base prospect Ian Bladergroen to the Red Sox for Doug Mientkiewicz. While it won’t garner the attention of the now infamous “Black Friday,” this trade should be mentioned in the same breath as it illustrates two factors extremely well. They don’t care about their farm system and they don’t understand the concept of replacement level talent.

The latter is completely revealed with the Mientkiewicz trade as he actually performed below replacement level last season posting a VORP of -1.5 with stints with the Twins and Red Sox. Craig Brazell had a higher VORP last season. Now this is not to say that Mientkiewicz will post a negative VORP in 2005. In fact, I think he is much better than that; however, how much better? “Much better” than -1.5 is not that hard to find.

In his defense, Mientkiewicz has had a couple of strong years but they are rooted deeply in his batting average. When he can get that BA into the .300 range as he has done in 2001 and 2003, he isn’t terrible because he draws a decent number of walks and has had two seasons with OBP over .390. On the downside, he has the power of Dave Magadan on “the clear.” Coincidentally, BP lists Magadan as Mientkiewicz’s most comparable player so Mets fans should know what to expect. I don’t care how good of a defensive player he is, he is a light hitting first baseman who will make $3.5 million next season. I figured if the Mets wanted him desperately, they could’ve gotten him for next to nothing considering the Red Sox were eager to rid themselves of him. So Heath Bell? Tyler Yates? I wouldn’t have liked those either considering Travis Lee is available for no prospects and a lot less than $3.5 million, but Ian Bladergroen?

In case you were wondering, Bladergroen was just named the Mets fourth best prospect by Baseball America after mauling Sally League pitching with a line of .342/.397/.595. Yes, he had a wrist injury that curtailed his season, and yes, at 22 he is on the old side for the Sally League, but the Mets are short on guys in their system who can hit, and shorter on first baseman. This is a big season for Bladergroen as he could have shown himself to be on the fast track for Queens with another strong season coupled with recovery from his injury. Now they have Mientkiewicz for one season and no long term plan at first.

Some will try and justify this trade with Mientkiewicz’s defense, but it is no better than Lee’s (or Oleurd’s for that matter) and will cost a lot more in terms of money and in talent. In fact, in terms of Runs Above Replacement defensively, Lee and Mientkiewicz are equals with Lee being 97 RAR in 782 games and Minky being 80 RAR in 675 games. Simply stunning.

All of this in on the heels of my own encounter with the Mets caravan that had me feeling great about the Mets. As I have mentioned before, I am moving out of town and my friends took me to the Knicks game against the Suns last night. After the game, being the high rollers that we are, we went to Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club where we were instantly whisked away to a private room. After a few overpriced shots and beers, a group of three gentlemen I recognized walked in and it was none other than Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel and David Wright who wanted to check out the $100,000 bottle of Cognac in a glass case in our room. We made some small talk and I was honored that Wright even recognized me from some freelance work I have done on the Mets. I offered them the next game of pool, but they politely declined. Me and my crew are all Mets fans and left on a high only to come crashing down this morning with the news of this trade.

Alas, we will have to get over this one and deal with it. The Mets will still be better next season and in the near future I will be doing a deeper analysis of what we can expect in terms of wins and losses as well as an interview with Jim Baker of Baseball Prospectus.

Monday, January 24, 2005

 

Conflicting Reports

Is it just me, or are the front offices getting shreweder, or the press just dumber? I cannot remember an offseason where so many contradictory reports came out. Which reports are we supposed to believe? Are the Mets in on Delgado or are they out? Some say yes, others say no. Some say maybe.

After it appearing as though the Mets were removing themselves, it now appears as though they are back in the game according to WFAN and MetsBlog. If so, are they willing to trump four years and $48 million? At this point, I have no idea which reports to believe and I have resigned myself to not believing any of them. The one report that had me most scratching my head was that if the Mets don't get Delgado, they are going to go after Travis Lee and Magglio Ordonez. As I've said before, I am all for Travis Lee, but Magglio? The Mets just made a big stink about making Mike Cameron feel comfortable about playing right field, now they are going after a high priced rightfielder? I find this one hard to believe, but it wouldn't be the first time the Mets surprised me.

When Delgado signs, then we can talk. Until then, I won't believe any of it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

 

Delgado's Decision Day

It is always hard to tell when these free agent bidding wars are going to come to a head. It seems as though the player just decides at some point that they should make a decision and does so. It seems as though as that is what has happened with Carlos Delgado, who according to sources, is set to make a decision in the next couple of days.

About two days ago, it appeared as though the Mets were lowballing him and he was Texas bound; however, it appears that Omar has squeezed a few more dollars from the not so tightfisted Wilpons. As we learned from the Beltran negotiations, Texas has no state income tax so obviously the same deal is worth more with the Rangers. Fortunately for the Mets, they can offer him something that the Rangers cannot, and that is the opportunity to play first base everyday. With Teixeira in Texas, Delgado does not strike me as a great fit there as $12 million seems like a lot for a DH. On the same note, $12 million seems like a lot for a 36 year-old slow footed first baseman which is what Delgado will be in three years.

With Delgado on the Mets, they are poised to be a legitimate force in 2005. Like Pedro, he is very much a “win now” signing. Beltran, due to his age, is a “win now” and “win five years from now signing.” My concerns with Pedro and Delgado is that in three years their contracts will look bad and seem almost untradeable, much like the current Piazza situation. Before the 2004 season, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA had Delgado projected to be worth about four wins above replacement in 2005, and only two wins in 2008. Due to their financial status, the Mets are able to have the luxury of having a couple of albatrosses without it completely hamstringing them financially; however, they cannot fall into the trap of forgoing developing talent and think that they can just fill holes with free agents. It is a business plan that is not sustainable. The Yankees are trying it and seem poised for a major downfall in a couple of years. Ideally, while Delgado and Martinez decline, players like Wright, Reyes and Zambrano will improve to compensate for the diminished production.

Even if the Mets do not get Delgado, I still see them as a competitive team and would love to see them nab Travis Lee as plan B. Don’t get me started on Mientkiewicz, he would cost more than Lee in that he makes more, and we would have to give up a prospect to get him. On top of that, he is no better. But when you look at the potential lineup below, it is hard not to get excited for the Mets in 2005.

Matsui
Reyes
Beltran
Delgado
Wright
Piazza
Floyd
Cameron

Expensive? Definitely. Nasty? Certainly. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Note: I am in the process of moving so my posts may be less consistent over the next week or so.


Friday, January 21, 2005

 

Bullpen Fever

While most of the recent press has been centered around the right field and first base situations, the Mets still have a bullpen that is unsettled. With the exception of Braden Looper and Mike DeJean, all the other spots are up for grabs. Assuming the Mets go with 12 pitchers, this leaves five spots for about eight guys who are somewhat indistinguishable. This most likely means that the Mets will be goinginto camp with open auditions, something that I abhor because it is a pretty dicey proposition to fill out your roster based on performance in spring training. Then again, there is little in the track record of most of these gents to separate them. Sideburns Peterson will be earning his paycheck this season.

Obviously, the Mets will have at least one lefthander so that leaves Pedro Feliciano, Felix Heredia and Dae Koo will be battling for one orpossibly two spots. Of those three, I would have to figure Heredia is the front runner because a) they gave up Stanton to get him and b) he has the best track record of the three, which, if you look at his career, is not saying much. He seemed to turn a corner in 20002 and 20003, with ERAs of 3.61 and 2.69, before regressing back to his career norms in 2004. Those hoping for a return of his 2003 form should not get too excited, those lower ERAs came with no significant improvement in K/9 or K/BB so it appears as though those two seasons were anomalies.

As for the northpaws, it is still hard to tell as the Mets may not be done dealing. Rumors indicate there is some interest in Jeff Nelson and if they sign him to a minor league deal, I’d imagine he would make the team unless he absolutely stunk up St. Lucie. Tyler Yates was formidable in September (10 IP, 13 K, 4 BB) and it’d nice to think that Tyler Yates the reliever can be the force the Mets hoped Tyler Yates the starter would be. He most likely has a job to lose. I’m hoping the same can be said for Heath Bell who really impressed me when he was on the mound. The 5 homers allowed in 17 IP is somewhat disconcerting, but the 27 K are enticing; however, he never had a particularly high K-rate in the minors so my eyes might be deceiving me, let’s hope the Mets don’t let that happen.

Yates and Bell are the only two guys who I would really like to see in the pen, but that could be because they are youngish and there is always hope they will bust out. With Roberto Hernandez and Bartolome Fortunato, you know what you are going to get and it is not going to be great, and could be terrible. Some fans were dismayed the Mets let Ricky Bottalico go, but while he pitched well last season (3.38 ERA, 7.92 K/9) I can’t get worked up about a 35 year old with a 3.96 career ERA, and only one season with an ERA under 3.00, and that was in 1995.

Whatever, happens, the bullpen will be where Rick Peterson earns his keep. Being able to turn decent arms into effective relievers is the mark of a good pitching coach, which is what Peterson is supposed to be.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

Captain America Is No Killer Cam

The recent gossip inMetland has now divided into two parts. Will the Mets trade MikeCameron and will they sign Carlos Delgado? The other question that has yet to be answered is if the two are mutually exclusive. Everything would become a lot clearer to Mets fans if they knew whether they needed to move Cameron before they signed Delgado; however, this information would surely hinder Omar’s leverage so I doubt we will find out until after the fact.

The one trade rumor that seems to be generating the most buzz has theMets shipping Cameron to Oakland for Eric Byrnes and Chad Bradford. Assuming we are working in a vacuum where the Cameron trade and the Delgado signing are not mutually exclusive, this trade does not make too much sense to me, particularly when you consider the Mets would be including an undetermined amount of cash in the deal.

Offensively, Cameron and Byrnes are basically equals and are actually pretty similar offensive players. They both have a little pop and decent walk rates,while Byrnes hits for a higher average, Cameron walks more so they end up with similar OBP from year to year as a result. In fact, despite being a career .248 hitter, Cameron has a career OBP of .340. Conversely,Byrnes is a career .271 hitter with a .336 OBP. All of this talk is before you get into their defense which gives Cameron an enormous advantage. As a top tier defensive centerfielder, he would immediately become one of the top two or three defensive rightfielders, at least when it comes to shagging flies because his arm will certainly leave a little something to be desired.

The only argument I can see in favor of Byrnes is that he is younger, but only by about three years. The Mets are looking at Cameron as the solution for many years in right, only two. Also, it is not as if Byrnes is so young that we can expect a significant improvement. What you see is what you are going to get. A lot of Mets complain about Cameron’s strikeouts, but beyond the fact that those are overrated, Byrnes is no Juan Pierre as he fanned 111 times last season. If Mets fans want a contact hitter to replace Cameron, he is not the guy.

The other reason I can think of for Omar wanting Byrnes is that even though he is not Latino, he is at least a cult hero in the Dominican (they call him “Captain American”) for his gritty style of play that has been a huge hit in the Dominican winter league and would also be a fan favorite in New York’s Dominican community. Sorry, I’m not sold.

Even if you add Bradford into the mix, I am still skeptical. In fact, I am skeptical about any trade with Billy Beane. Have these GMs read Moneyball? If I were a GM, I would operate under the assumption that Beane is smarter than me and basicallly refuse to trade with him. Isn’t Bradford supposed to be one of Beane’s diamond’s in the rough? If so, why does he want to get rid of him? While he is still effective against, righties, lefties tear him up and if the Mets want a ROOGY, they might as well go sign Steve Reed on the cheap.

Yes, Cameron has said he wants to be traded, but I think the Mets should try the diplomacy route and try and sell him on being part of an exciting turnaround in New York. Maybe they have and he has become evenmore disgruntledand feel they need to move him. If so, I am not sure this is the right deal. My instinct therefore leads me to believe that Omar needs to move him before signing Delgado and is willing to move him for the first reasonable deal.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

 

Listen To DMX

“Y’all been eating long enough now, stop being greedy,
Keep it real partner, give to the needy.”

-DMX

So Carlos Beltran is on board, and Mets fans can smell blood. The Mets have a hole at first base and whereas once the cry was for Doug Mientkiewicz or Travis Lee, the name du jour is Carlos Delgado. Why not just go get the best available first baseman and one of the top five hitting first baseman in the league? We’ve got the money, right? It makes sense, but it strikes me as somewhat hypocritical.

Before starting Metsmerized, I had been reading a lot of these Mets blogs and I still do. The people who write them are obviously passionate as well as knowledgeable as evidenced by many of them with strong followings. Beyond discussing Mets maneuvers, one of the prevailing themes on these blogs, and a sentiment promoted by myself as well, is a hatred for the Yankees. One of main reasons Mets fans (and other baseball fans for that matter) seem to hate the Yankees is because they believe they only win because they spend a lot of money. When I look at the prospect of the Mets signing Delgado to go along with Beltran and Pedro, it seems like a Yankees move. A move that would make everyone from Doris in Rego Park to Vinnie from Canarsie scream foul. A move that would group the Mets with the Yankees as far as the rest of the league was concerned.

Yes, the Mets have spent money in the past and yes the Yankees would still have a much higher payroll than the Mets; however, the difference is that these signings will actually make the Mets good. No one cared when the Mets spent money poorly and lost, but now they have adopted the Yankees philosophy, or at least the Yankees philosophy before they signed Wright and Pavano, of spending money on quality. This will make them winners. Everyone is proclaiming Omar a god, but what is so godlike about paying players more than anyone else was willing to pay them? Obviously, that is what you have to do to lure players to a team with a bad rep and a decrepit stadium, but if the Wilpons had given Jim Duquette carte blanche with the checkbook, he could’ve pulled it off as well. For the record, Jim Duquette had two of the most valuable signings in terms of bang for the buck last season in Looper and Cameron. Unfortunately, those are not the type of signings that get you on the back page. There is a lot written and said about Omar’s ability to relate to Latin American players, which helps him sign them. I don’t buy it yet. When Omar starts luring Puerto Rican and Dominican players for below market value, then we can talk about his influence on Latin American players. Until then, he is a GM with a fat checkbook.

This is not to say that I am opposed to the Delgado signing. I will do a more careful prediction when the line-up is more in place, but based on last years runs scored and allowed and expected improvement, the Mets right now are about an 88 win team based on the Pythagorean win formula if they started to season today and did not suffer significant injuries to key players.

With Delgado, the Mets would certainly be considered favorites in the NL East and one of the best teams in the NL. While Beltran is a move for now and the future, Martinez and Delgado are essentially win-now maneuvers. They could look like expensive place- holders in two years when Pedro pitches 120 innings and Delgado looks like a cross between Piazza and a boulder at first. That being said, they are using their resources to win and cannot be blamed for that which has always been how I’ve felt about the Yankees, despite my distaste for them. A few years ago, the Mets and Yankees had similar payrolls and were both in the World Series. The Mets made some poor choices and the Yankees launched YES, which has been a source of great revenue for them and allowed to surpass the $200 million plateau. One can only imagine that the Mets are hoping their cable network will do the same for them and launch them into the Yankees stratosphere.

If the Mets sign Delgado, we should enjoy it as fans because the Mets will have their best team since 1999, and possibly since 1988, but be prepared for the rest of the world’s perception of the Mets to change. When the Mets are referred to as “a poor man’s Yankees,” we’ll need to bite our tongues because deep down, we know it will be true. Then again, maybe I am just a wet blanket and instead of heeding the words of DMX, maybe should listen to Gordon Gecko who said, “Greed is good.” Heck, it works for the Yankees.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

 

"I'll Never Be a Jerk Like Randy Johnson"

That is the loose translation of Beltran's response to a spanish speaking reporter at his press conference when asked about how he will handle the New York media. How fantastic is it that Randy Johnson is the one blowing up at the media when everyone is questioning how Beltran will handle the New York press? While I questioned Beltran’s monetary value many times, I don’t doubt his talent and the Mets will be better as a result of his presence for years to come. What a wonderful time to be a Mets fan. Nonetheless, others may try and rain on the Mets Beltran parade, so I have provided a guide to refuting ignorant claims about Senor Beltran.

Claim #1) “Carlos Beltran has always been a product of his home park.”
Some interesting news about Carlos Beltran appeared in my inbox this morning courtesy of Metsmerized loyalist Bernard Gilkey.
Take a look at Beltran’s home and road stats last season:

Home .225/.316/.458, 15 HR, 284 AB
Road .305/.412/.629, 23 HR, 315, AB

The Juice Box and Kauffman Stadium both have reps of being hitter heavens, but they were not in 2004 as evidenced by
their park factors. So Beltran having somewhat depressed home stats would make sense; however, having such fantastic road stats can only bode well for him because it indicates that his numbers have never been a product of his environment. In fact, for his career, his home and road numbers are nearly identical. So if anyone tries to tell you that Beltran was a product of his home park, feel free to beat them like they stole something as you provide some valuable insight on his career splits.

Claim #2) “$17 million is a lot to pay a guy who hit .267.”
Why are so many people unable to see the bigger picture? This is not just about my sabermetric self pointing out that batting average is overrated and that OBP and SLG are more important, but that batting average averages fluctuate greatly because balls in play involve a great deal of luck. I have such a hard time understanding how seemingly intelligent people have such a hard time fathoming this. For example, Ichiro has hit .350, .321, .312, .372 over his four years. His skills haven’t changed, it is just that when it comes to balls that stay in the park, the hitter has little control over where they land. Beltran may hit .260 next year and he may hit .320; either way, his walk and power numbers should maintain making him an extremely valuable player, even if he hits .260.

Claim #3) “Beltran really wanted to play for the Yankees and was willing to go there for six-years and $99.6”
Don’t believe this. Boras was just trying to get the Yankees interested and hopefully begin a bidding war, there is no way Boras was going to let Carlos go to the Yankees for fewer years and less money per year.

Folks, don’t let ignorance dampen your excitement about Beltran. Follow this guide whenever some hater drops some stupidity on you. Sit back and enjoy how much better the Mets are going to be this year and prepare for an exciting year at Shea; however, with Omar’s job is not done. Will he make a major run at Carlos Delgado? Is he comfortable with Cameron in right field? These are just some of the issues I will be tackling in the days to come.

More thoughts...In the "when it rains, it pours department," the Mets signed Philip Humber and it looks like "Not so Super" Joe McEwing may be on the outs. No disrespect to Joe who I'm sure is a great guy, but I've come up with a little formula for him over the years. Mets wins=fewer McEwing AB. Pretty simple stuff, don't let math intimidate you folks.



Sunday, January 09, 2005

 

He's Rich Bitch!!!

Not to toot my own horn, but I am going to toot my own horn. On December 27th, I wrote the following on this blog.

“Based on gut and nothing else which is usually not the way I like to do things, Beltran will end up on the Mets for six-years $114 million. You heard it here first folks.”

Sure, I was off on the terms, but I felt all along that he was going to end up on the Mets. Once it became clear that the Yankees were not really interested for some bizarrre known only to them, it became clear that the Mets were not going to be outbid so if Beltran went anywhere else, it was not going to be about money.

I have written a lot about how he is overrated based on his playoff performance. This is not to say that I don’t think he is an elite player, it is just that his perceived value is at an all time high, way above his actual value which is still high. While I was not 100% in favor of the move, there were certainly worse potential signings. For example, Russ Ortiz’s deal. Beltran is young, dynamic and will retain a great deal of value for the life of the contract; however, with Mike Cameron in the picture it seems like the Mets are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Well, they’ve done it and all the negatives aside, there is no doubt that the Mets will be a much improved and much more exciting team next season. The question is, how much better will they be?

Last season Beltran had a VORP of 74.5, 13th best in the majors for position players. Mike Cameron had a VORP of 27.0. If those numbers were to be repeated, or at least the margin stayed the same which is fair to assume based on expected performance, the Mets are gaining 47.5 runs from the centerfield position. That alone is a gain of 4 to 5 wins. With Cameron switching to right, his numbers would produce a lower VORP since the expected performance for rightfielders are greater; however, the Mets did not get much performance rom right field anyway as Richard Hidalgo produced a VORP of 7.4 on the Mets, while Shane Spencer had a 7.3 and Karim Garcia a 0.1. Cameron can at the very least duplicate that while playing a stellar right field. On a side note, I was thinking that the Mets should play Cliff Floyd on the left field line and make sure nothing gets down the line while make Beltran and Cameron responsible for 80% of the outfield. The Mets outfield alignment should be interesting to watch.

The Mets will get greater production from third as they will have a full season from David Wright, an improvement for Kaz Matsui and Cliff Floyd can also be expected. Piazza should still be one of the better offensive catchers, but is clearly in decline but I wouldn’t expect a collapse. Who the hell knows about Reyes and first base is still open. Coupled with a deep starting rotation, and the Mets have to be considered contenders. With Wright and Beltran as the backbone of the franchise for the rest of the decade, this is the most exciting time to be a Mets fan in ages.

More thoughts...Miguel Cairo might have the worst agent in the history of major league baseball. He had a career year as a starter in a high profile environment with the Yankees, and he parlayed that into a back-up job for less than a million bucks. Omar must be an animal at the negotiating table. Well, based on the contracts of Pedro and Beltran maybe not, be he definitely fought tooth and nail with Cairo.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

 

Wilson Phillips

The Mets finally made another move today, but this is not a big time maneuver of the Beltran variety. In Omar’s quest to hoard every back-up middle infielder that hits like Joe McEwing, the Mets sent Vance Wilson to the Tigers for Anderson Hernandez. The Mets now have a systems stacked with light hitting speedy outfielders of the Wayne Lydon mold, and banjo hitting middle infielders of the Chris Woodward mode. Catch the fever!

What this trade actually means for the Mets is that Mike Piazza is locked in at catcher and Jason Phillips will be the back-up. One could argue the merits of Wilson over Phillips based on Wilson’s superior 2005, but despite a hugely disappointing 2004, Phillips is the better hitter. Nevertheless, choosing between the two of them is like a kid choosing between brussel sprouts and liver. Here are each of their numbers, first for 2004 and then for their career.

2004
Wilson .274/.335/.427 4 HR, 157 AB
Phillips .218/.298/.326 7 HR, 362 AB

Career
Wilson .254/.308/.384 17 HR, 649 AB
Phillips .262/.337/.389 19 HR, 791 AB

Okay, I can’t believe I have never made a
Wilson Phillips joke or that his never occurred to me until I saw there names written one on top of the other. I am truly disappointed in myself. Do you think the team ever made them sing duets of “Hold On?” Those words are prophetic for Wilson on this day. Vance, if you’re reading just know that:

Someday somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them hold you down and make you cry
Don’t you know? Don’t you know things can change
Things’ll go your way if you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day
Things’ll go your way
Hold on for one more day

Omar made you turn around and say goodbye, but don’t let him hold you down and make you cry. You have the best gig in baseball as you will have backed up the two best hitting catchers of this era making you a glorified bullpen catcher.

But I digress. Wilson was much better last year, but Phillips is tops in career numbers. Phillips is an interesting case as his numbers derive from one good season and one awful one. Mets brass must be thinking that while Phillips might not be as good as the 2003 version, he is better than the 2004 version and a better hitter than Wilson overall. 2004 was Wilson’s best year, but he is 31 and that was probably as good as it was going to get for him, Phillips is also three years younger and more likely to rebound.

Wilson does possess a better defensive rep, but with catchers their defensive rep tends to have an inverse relationship with their offensive prowess. The crappy hitting catchers are considered wizards with the leather (Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus) while the good hitters are considered a defensive disaster (Piazza and A.J. Pierzynski). While this is sometimes true (like in the case of Piazza), poor hitting catchers defensive prowess are myths propagated by the organizations for which they play as a justification for keeping them around.
Wilson has been in the organization since 1993 which I assume is tops among the Mets so it will be sad to see our longest tenured player go. Wait a second, no it won’t. I don’t really care. Back-up catchers come and go and part of the gig is playing wherever someone will employ you. Good luck Vance, start studying those AL hitters for the 20 games you start next season when Pudge is tired or hungover.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

 

Hall of Fame, more like Hall of Stupid Voters (zing!)

The Beltran stand-off is in full swing, but since I have posted about Carlos ad nauseam, I thought I’d take this opportunity to weight in on some random baseball topics, such as today’s Hall of Fame voting.

I am not going to drone on about who I think should or shouldn’t be in, what I will drone on about how ridiculous the process is. I hate the idea that players gain support as they are on the ballot each year.
Ryne Sandberg is a perfect example, as he got 49.2% in 2003, 61.1% last year and 76.2% this year, just above the 75% minimum required for induction. Who are these people that change their minds? I can see one or two people changing their minds, but it is dozens. Sandberg played in exactly zero games over the last two seasons, so his numbers haven’t changed at all. As far as I see it, you either are a hall of famer or you’re not. If it were up to me, everyone would be on the ballot for exactly one year and that would be it. The Hall of Fame should be for the very elite and I hate how these borderline cases hang around for 10 years before finally getting in (hello Jim Rice). It is as if voters have to talk themselves into voting for people. For godsakes, all you need is 5% to stay on the ballot. Does anyone who starts at 5% have a snowballs chance in hell of making the hall? It should be 50% to stay on the ballot.

I am not opposed to Sandberg getting in, in fact, as the best second basemen in baseball in the 1980s he deserves his place. For me, the Hall is not about number, it is about how you ranked against your peers. That is why Rhino is in even though Jeff Kent and Robbie Alomar have superior numbers, and why Gary Carter is in too. Next to Piazza and I-Rod, Carter’s numbers look meek, but he was the best catcher of the late 1970s and 80s.

As for this year’s voting, who the hell are these voters? 26 people voted for Willie McGee, 26 people! To quote Dick Vitale, “are you serious?!?!?!?!?” The guy had a career line of .
295/.333/.396 with 79 career HR and 352 SB in 473 attempts. I know it was the light hitting 80s, but if he is a hall of famer, so is Lenny Dykstra. Who are the 26 accredited voters that punch the hole next to this guy’s name? Darryl Strawberry got only 6 votes and he was twice the player McGee. I think these voters were smoking some of the stuff Strawberry used to, or maybe they were using leftover ballots from the 2000 Florida election and they thought they were voting for Wade Boggs. Either way, some of the voters are offensively stupid.

Other thoughts…I watched Faith Rewarded, the story of the 2004 Red Sox and expected a gem of a video yearbook as I had heard a lot of good things. It was mediocre and although I am biased, it does not stand up against The 1986 Mets: A Year to Remember, the prototype against which all championship videos should be measured. Not only does it give great breakdown of the season, it captures the personality of the Mets, something that Faith Rewarded fails to do while taking itself way too seriously. If any of you Mets fans have never seen A Year to Remember, try and dig up a copy,
it is worth checking out. Although the $50 asking price on Amazon is steep, here is what a random viewer wroter, “Hell, I hate the Mets...actually I can't stand them. But, this is the greatest baseball season video ever, leading up to the world series. The production of this video is uncomparable. It changed my life, and will definitley change yours.” Who cares if the guy can’t spell definitely? The tape rocks, and McDowell teaches you how to make a hot footMy original prediction is starting to look good again, Beltran to the Mets is looking like more and more of a possibility. One thing is for sure. If the deal happens, very few balls will be dropping in right center...Links will be back up soon.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

 

Technical Difficulties

I am experiencing some technical difficulties so the links are out of commission for a few days. Once I am a little less busy, I will get those fixed. Things are about to get interesting in Metland.

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