Saturday, December 31, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close on a pretty sour Mets year, our thoughts turn to 2012 and what comes next for our team. For a while 2011 was actually looking pretty good. After finishing in 4th we forget that there was a point when people were kinda impressed with the 2011 Mets. Up until Mid-August they were in a solid third and in about the same position the future World Series champ St. Louis Cardinals were. However it never felt like the Mets believed they could win. The Braves and the Phillies were too good and it seemed like they never believed they could overtake it. Granted no one could have expected the crazy September we had, but a team like the Cardinals who played hard even though it seemed pointless got a big payoff when the Braves collapsed.

That's why my number one wish for 2012 is hope. Most Mets fans, including myself, have pretty much already written off 2012 and with good reason. We have pretty much the same team as last year but without our closer and best player. So a 4th place team that loses two of its players shouldn't be expected to do any better. That being said, nothing is impossible. Johan Santana could come back and have 2008 stuff, Duda and Murphy could both be 25 + homerun guys, Tejada could be the next Reyes, Wright could start looking like a future Hall of Famer again, Dickey could throw that no-no we all know he has in him...

Are all these things likely? No, whats likely is we will finish in 5th and with 70 wins. Nor do I think we should being managing the team to win in 2012, it's right to play the odds and plan for down the road. But still, let's wait and see what actually happens before we just assume the season is a bust. If we learned anything from the Mets of 1969 and 1986 it's that when the Mets do win, they do it in a dramatic fashion, and what would be more dramatic and exciting then a competitive 2012 Mets?

Friday, December 30, 2011

This is the 50th post for Metsrospectus. That may not seem like much to many folks but for me it certainly was an effort. I would like to take this time to point any new readers to some popular sections of the blog.

First and foremost: The Dickey Report , this is a report I wrote right before the blog launched that detailed where in every MLB rotation R.A. Dickey would pitch.

The Mets v. 2011 Award Winners : This is a section that contains a few reports that detail how the Mets did against each of the 2011 award winner. Wondering how the Mets hit against Verlander or how the Mets pitchers took on Ryan Braun? Check out this section.

Citi Field Dimensions Analyses : I am a big believer that the new smaller dimensions of Citi Field won't make much of a difference. To prove it, I have done a few thought experiments that I think help prove my beliefs.

Most of all in my 50th post I want to thank Matt Cerrone and Metsblog. They linked to The Dickey Report a few weeks ago and lead to by the far the largest readership day my blog has ever seen. For anyone out there reading, thanks you for checking me out and here's to fifty more.

Metsblog reported today that the Mets were among three teams interested in IF Ryan Theriot. I for one, think this is the kind of signing the Mets should be making. He will be pretty cheap to sign and can play a competent 2b when needed which is a need for the team right now. He will also be a reasonably productive offensive player and has decent name recognition to muster a little excitement.

Theriot is entering his age 32 season, last year Theriot had a BA of .271, a wOBA of .291 and a .7 WAR. Certainly nothing that will light the world on fire, but high enough to be a useful addition to the team.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am sure you have but the Mets asked Dickey not to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. On one level I totally understand this, Dickey is the best pitcher on the Mets rotation right now and one of the few that can be counted on to stay healthy. If Dickey get hurts climbing a mountain in Africa, they lose 200 quality innings. That being said this is a bad idea and just makes the team look bad.

Dickey is a fan favorite and one of the only exciting players to watch going into this season. He is going on a highly publicized adventure that is also benefiting a great cause . Their is no way to tell him he can't go and come off looking good. Secondly the way in which they informed him of their desire was pretty dickish. According to the NY Post article linked above:

"the Mets sent a letter to Dickey’s agent warning him that they reserve the right to void the remaining year on his contract if he is injured on the mountain"

Which basically means if you get hurt raising money to stop human trafficking you're on your own. For a team that needs to build all the confidence and goodwill it can, this is a bad idea. The Mets should be promoting Dickey's climb as much as they can, it's probably the most inspiring and exciting that happening in the Mets organization in the off-season.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not much Mets news happening today and likely not much this week. We had some brief excitement on Christmas Eve when their was a wacky trade rumor linking David Wright to the Phillies, obviously this turned out not to be true, you can tell by the fact the sky hasn't fallen and no ones head has been called for.

One piece of interesting news is that it looks like the A's will be granted their move to San Jose pretty soon. You can read more about it here .  The A's have always been my second favorite team and I am pretty pleased with the direction of the team. They are moving into a new stadium in a better area and building towards ling term success. Like the Mets should be doing, they realize that next year and the year after are probably off the table, so they are trading guys with value now to get prospects that will help the team later. Sandy Alderson could take a cue from his old pupil Billy Beane

Friday, December 23, 2011

It seems like every body is super morose about the Cardinals signing Beltran and the Nats trading for Gio Gonzalez. Another day went by and big deals got made while the Mets signed fringe back up catchers. I get that it isn't fun to watch, but let's just accept it for it what it is. We that the Mets would need to make astominical signings to contend next year so why get upset that we were not in the hunt for Gio Gonzalez.

I read several tweets from a few prominent sports writers and bloggers alike that said the signing of Gio Gonzalez is the nail in the coffin for the Mets finishing in last place. Let's try maintain a facade of realism here. It is entirely likely that the Mets will finish last, however this has nothing to do with Gio Gonzalez as that fate was cast long before his trade. Don't get me wrong, Gio is a good pitcher, 3.16 ERA and a 3.64 FIP with almost 9 strike outs per nine innings. He had an excellent 2011 WAR of 3.5, thats a great number, but let's be clear, its 3.5. It's not 15, like some people seem to think. Gio Gonzalez is an excellent tool to add to a pretty good rotation, his signing will make the Nats a better squad but is by no means a Met killing game changer.

The Oakland A's are actually my second favorite team and my go to AL squad and I have to say I like what they are doing. They are not going to win next year most likely (even though they play in a weaker division and could theoretically have less of a long shot than the Mets) so they are dumping players while they have value and getting prospects to build a better team long term. This is what the Mets should be doing. I think we need to admit that David Wright will probably never be a part of a World Series Mets team and trade him for some guys we can use in 2-3 years when it will matter, same for Santana.

As for Beltran, this just seems wrong. It's like if Bill Buckner had gone to play for the Mets in 1990. Beltran now must play for the team and with the player that delivered his greatest failure. It's like in pro wrestling when a good guy turns heel and joins the bad guy stable. I can just imagine Beltran wearing a Mets jersey, turning to stone cold stun Fred Wilpon then ripping it off to reveal a Cardinals jersey underneath, then the Cardinals music starts playing while Adam Wainwright and David Freese come out and start doing DX chops, man Jim Ross would be going nuts: I CAN'T BELIEVE IT...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I am going to try hard not to make jokes about Rob Johnson. I claim to be a Mets optimist but I have been pretty cynical of late. I am sure Rob Johnson is a great guy who works hard and he is just one of many people who will get invited to spring training this year so his signing is hardly an event. Still, his number sucks, they just do. The Mets press release lauded that he had the lowest Catchers ERA (3.22) in MLB in 2009. Overlooking the fact that this "accomplishment" is three years old, I am not sure how much I buy cathcers ERA. I am a huge stat guy and am the first person to but into a new, weird stat but this is just not a thing. I know the ability to call a game is important but catchers ERA does not reflect that and is not a useful stat (or really a stat at all, more of an observation).

In his past two seasons he has posted a .191 and .190 batting average respectively, although he had a super low BABIP of .241 and .261, maybe he will get lucky again and be a .210 hitter. He only posted a positive WAR once, in 2010 with a .1, last year he posted a -.6, which means he was a half game worse than the average triple A replacement. I will certainly hold out for Rob Johnson as I do with all Mets but it doesn't look great. That being said if I was writing this blog in 2009 I probably would have written a snarky post about signing R.A. Dickey and look how great that turned out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What else can be said that hasn't already been written about today's NY Times Piece highlighting the benefits package the Wilpons are offering for 20 million dollar 4% ownership stakes. Just a few thoughts on some of the perks:

1) Access to Mr. Met- You know, anyone can do this, it's right here on the Mets website. It costs $500 an hour, which is a significant saving on, say, 20 million.

2) The owners business card- This is just stupid. Not that it wouldn't be cool to have a business card indicating you own the Mets but the fact this is considered a perk is ridiculous. First of all, it's not true and you aren't fooling anyone, you own a 4% non voting stake in the club, the term "owner" is less than accurate. Secondly, this is a selling point? Something I can get at kinkos is going to make we want to invest 20 million dollars? This combined with Mr. Met access brings the net value of my investment to $507.

3) My favorite by far, from section XII- "Access to purchase tickets to postseason games". What?! You are telling me I own the god damn team and I have to buy play off tickets? Isn't this a power I can get by just being a season ticket holder, or using stubhub? For 20 million dollars I want enough season tickets that I can fill a room with tickets and swim in them like Scrooge McDuck.

Basically this is like the scam stock offering the Green Bay Packers offer fans for $250 where they get nothing in return but get to feel like they have a stake in the team, the main difference being one is 19,999,750 dollars cheaper. The worst part of it all, if I had 20 million dollars this is the first thing I would spend it on.

I have been doing a lot of thinking this off-season about the new dimensions of Citi Field and the impact people hope it has on David Wright and Jason Bay. So far all the evidence I have found seems to indicate the difference will be negligible. . Now let's look at how they did in the ultimate hitters park - Coors Field. With it's dry air, high elevation and zany enormous outfield, Coors is known as the place to hit homers.

The Mets played three games in Coors last year. On May 9, 10 and 12 going 2-1 over the Rockies. Bay played all three and Wright played two, sitting out the third to rest a sore neck and back. I will admit that three games is a small sample size but it should still be telling. Let's look at the results:

Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
1 of 4
0 of 4
0 of 3
0 of 4
1 of 4

Well, I guess you can't hit home runs if you can't hit at all. Wright and Bay had a combined 19 at bats and collected 2 singles. Just so no one thinks they were the victims of great pitching that series it should be noted that Carlos Beltran hit three homeruns in Game 3 alone and the Mets collected 14 runs in the series This is pretty indicative of these two and is the main reason why I don't believe the new wall will help that much. Centerfield can be 50 feet deep but if you don't make contact, it won't go over. Both of these guys (especially Bay) are prone to striking out a lot, having long slumps and just may be the victims of diminished power and not a dastardly deep outfield wall.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Johan Santana scares me. I remember how excited I was when we traded virtually nothing and got the best pitcher in baseball. Say what you will about the Minaya era but it was always fun to enter each hot stove season wondering what huge, impact signing we would make. Now I just don't know if I believe anymore. When I wrote The Dickey Report last month, I didn't even consider Santana as part of next years rotation because part of me doesn't believe he is coming back yet. Some reports say he is back on track to be the opening day starter (which is BS anyway, Dickey should get that spot) and some say he might not be as ready as people think he is. Either way it's a guy who hasn't pitched since 2010 and whose fastball and changeup are creeping ever closer to one another.

The upside is, the guy has never had a bad year since his stuff kicked in ten years ago. Since 2002 the highest ERA he has ever posted was 3.33 and a FIP of 3.79. So far he has given no evidence he his capable of pitching poorly. has a Bill James projection of him that predicts another solid Santana year - 189 innings pitched, a strikeout rate of almost 9 K/9 and a 3.19 ERA. I am a numbers guy and the numbers say I should believe.

That being said he is an injury prone pitcher entering his age 33 season. A graph of his WAR would show a clear decline with a high of 7.4 in 2004 and trending back down more each year. Maybe it has just been too long, maybe I am just becoming a Mets cynic, but I remain very worried about Johan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I might just re name this Yu Darvish-ospectus because I feel like I am posting pretty often about a guy who will under no circumstances be a Met but I have become pretty intersted in him. The Mets are not doing anything terribly interesting right now so it remains the most interesting story in baseball for me. And if you forgot, just look at his stats:


It's the stat line equivalent of a Van Gogh.

Friday, December 16, 2011

As with most days I spent most of today thinking about the Mets and Sandy's off season sucess. I have been an advocate so far of not going after big name players because I didn't believe anything we did could make a difference in 2012. I decided to figure out what we could have done to contend next year.

To do this I am going presuppose a 2012 season that goes pretty much like the 2011 season. So the Mets win 77 games, to win the wildcard they need to win 91 and to win the division they need to win 103. Using WAR we will see how many free agents the Mets would have had to sign this offseason to make the playoffs next year.

First lets suppose the Mets re-signed Jose Reyes and his production was similar to last year. Now let's look at the biggest free agent of the year Albert Pujols, whose WAR was 5.1 which brings the Mets up to 82.1 wins, still well short of the wildcard. Now let's add in the other new Angel C.J. Wilson who had a 5.9 WAR, bringing the Mets up to 88 wins, getting closer. Jonathan Papelbon was also a major signing this year, lets say his 50 million dollar contract went to the Mets and added his WAR of 3.0 which brings us to...91, now we are tied for the wildcard and playing the Cadinals in a one game play off. All we had to do was sign three of the biggest free agents in baseball to get there.

Now lets just go nuts and see who we need to sign to win the division. Starting with the three we already signed we need to manufacture a total of 26 Wins.

Albert Pujols- 5.1
C.J. Wilson- 5.9
Jonathan Papelbon- 3.0
Prince Fielder- 5.5
Mark Buehrle- 3.5
Jimmy Rollins- 3.9


And all we had to do was re-sign Reyes to a hundred million dollar contract then sign the six best free agents in baseball. My point here? Lay off Sandy, it's a rebuilding year. Their is no need to get upset about not making any free agent signings because no amount of reasonable free agent signings would have made any difference at all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I know what your saying, what's a Thurman Munson Award? The official answer is: "the awards honor "on-field excellence and community service" in the New York sports community." I am just happy for another opportunity for people to appreciate the greatness that is R.A. Dickey. Next month Dickey is climbing Mt. Kilmanjaro to raise money for an organization that fights human trafficking in India. You can read about Dickey and the award .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I mean, this is pretty unsuprising, I asssumed they wouldn't. I was just holding out unnatural hope that the Mets might do something dynamic or interesting or you know, smart, this off season.

Howard Megdal put it better than I could, read his post .

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Mets borrowed 40 million dollars from Bank of America to add to the 25 mil they borrowed last year from MLB. You can read about the loan here . Seriously the Mets are just a toxic asset at this point. They have all the signs of a bad investment, they have a ton of debt, low cash flow, a shitty product, overly expensive infrastructure and very little likelihood they will turn the ship around anytime soon.

So what do you think this 40 million is for? What are the chances that the day they get this loan is the same day as the deadline to post for Yu Darvish (today at 5) because they plan to make a 40 mil bid? The answer is 0% but man would that be great.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's time to cut the ties and say goodbye to the Big Pelf. It's time to admit that he isn't any good and has no place on the team. Tonight is the arbitration deadline which means that the Mets could non-tender Mike Pelfrey and allow him to become a free agent. Now this would be ultimately be a bad idea because we probably could have gotten a prospect or two (or Huston Street if rumors are to be believed) in a trade for Pelf. But I am more than willing to let that happen if we can just cut ties to the big man.

The biggest reason we always hear about Pelfrey's value is that he pitches a lot of innings. This is true, over the last three years he has pitched 184, 204 and 193 innings respectively and a total over 876 careers innings over six seasons. In those innings he posted a career ERA of 4.40 and a WHIP of 1.45. He has a career total of almost 10 hits per 9 innings (9.9) and has a k/9 of just 5.1. His career WAR is 5.7. What does all this tell us? Mike Pelfrey gives up a lot of hits, strikes people out sometimes and rarely gets hurt. Mike Pelfrey is fine, he is average with an occasional flash of a little above average. His numbers are just good enough to get by but not nearly good enough to make a difference. I have been saying for months that it's time to get rid of the guys who couldn't win for us in the terrible 2005-2010 years and Mike Pelfrey is their king.

Mike Pelfrey is the anti Tim Tebow. Right now everybody is talking about the Denver Broncos quarterback who, while not technically proficient, always finds a way to win. Pelfrey always finds a way to lose. He pitches a few innings, makes a few mistakes, gets down ion himself and totally implodes. We have seen it time and again, a guy like this has no place on our team right now. Let's give his spot to someone worth watching, someone who may even have similar or worse numbers but is capable of gritty, serious play. Someone who isn't a clubhouse complainer, someone we can believe in. Some day Mike Pelfrey might be a great pitcher someday, but for right now he is wrong for the Mets.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fangraphs had a quick but interesting article about the Mets three new relievers, which you can read here .

I am still not sold onthese guys. I am willing to say that I need to do more research on the trio and make an informed decision but on the surface this scares me. These are three guys who have all had a chance (or multiple chances) at being a closer and failed. That being said Sandy and the front office crew are supposed to be brilliant at finding hidden value and getting good players on the cheap, so maybe this will be the case. All of three of these guys fit the bill to be the feel good story we see all the team: guys with some talent who really shine when given the right environment, chance, coaching etc. I am going to hope for that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Using WAR if Albert Pujols (War of 5.1) and C.J. Wilson (WAR of 5.9) had been on the Angels in 2011 and put up their exisiting 2011 performances (total WAR of 11) the Angels would have won the division by 1 Game. 97 Wins to the Rangers 96.

Just for fun if they had been on the Mets they would have finished in 3rd one game behind the Braves with 88 wins.

The Mets didn't manage to sign any fringe closers today so I am going to blog about my favorite topic after the Mets, hating the Phillies. With the acquisition of C.J. Wilson I am now postulating that their rotation is now the best in baseball. Let's do a quick, back of the envelope analysis of the two rotations.

To do this I am going to judge each team on six, pitching only categories (IP, h/9,bb.9.k/9,WHIP and FIP) then pick a winner in each category and give that team a point, most points is the better rotation. For both teams I will only be judging the top four pitchers because it is not clear who the 5th starter in each rotation is.

The results are below, category winners are in bold.





I am judging this as a push. The only category that was won convincingly by either team was the Angels who pitched a ton more innings than the Phillies. Hits per 9 was basically too close to make a difference. I gave the Phillies a win in k/9 but again, it was almost too close to make a difference. The final tally by my rules was 3 category wins for the Phillies, one for the Angels and 2 ties. Ultimately 5 out of 6 categories were remarkably close but I am willing to concede the Phillies have a slight edge. The Angels also should get some extra points for going deeper as Ervin Santana is clearly better than Vance Worley. The results are inconclusive so I will guess at this point that in terms of actual performance, these two teams should be equal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yesterday we traded Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez, reports indicate that Torres will be our new everyday center fielder. My belief was that this was a terrible deal and we should have kept Pagan. Let's see what the stats say. First let's look at last year, a bad year for both players:


While they both had tough years Pagan was better offensively. He out batted Torres by about 40 points, reached based more often and struck out a lot less, he also played more games. The huge difference is in defense. Torres is an excellent defensive outfielder and Pagan is very much not. Ultimnate Zone Rating (UZR) is basically WAR for defense. Torress 9.4 UZR means his defense prevented about 9.4 more runs from scoring than the average replacement, Pagan's negative 14.3 means he let up that many more than the average replacement. This is a net of 23.7 fewer runs scored if Torres is in center all year and not Angel. Normally I am not a big supporter of defensive stats or the value of defense but I think this probably pushes Torres higher than Pagan in 2011. They both sucked but I would say massively better defense beats out .40 BA points and 30 less K's. Its close but I will give the edge to Torres.

Now let's look at their career stats:


Here I think Pagan proves himself the better overall player but not by too much. The simplest way to prove this is WAR. Pagan had a 4.4 WAR higher than Torres and at the end of the day more wins makes a more valuable player. The difference between the two is about the same as in 2010 in as much as Pagan has slightly better offensive numbers and plays more games while Torres has insanely better defense. I think Pagan's offense and Torres defense probably cancel each other out (although I always weight offense as more valuable) Pagan gets the edge by being 3 years younger and having played more games.

After reading the stats I feel better about the trade to some degree. The difference between the two is close to nil as far as what they will add to the team in terms of wins and losses. As usual my homer attitude made me believe that Pagan was better than he is and Torres worse. I do think the trade was a bad idea because Torres is 33 and under no circumstances will be of long term value to this team. They should have traded Pagan for some prospects, but at least I can say the trade they made was fairly equitable.