Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I feel good. I feel so good. The Phillies are over. 5 years of dominance, mockery and pain have ended. I am sitting at my office desk right now and I feel like Han flying the Millennium Falcon away from the exploding Death Star because the Sillies have officially given up on baseball. It was a tough five years especially since I lived a few them in Philadelphia.  But now with the trading of 2/3 of the their outfield, both of them past all stars and the all but impending departure of Cliff Lee we can declare the era of the Phillies dynasty over.

On the Mets end, a whole of nothing is happening. I continued to be annoyed by this, the Mets should have made some moves two weeks ago when we were closer in contention. Even now we are only 8.5 games, a tall order but still doable. Yet we make no moves to fix the bullpen or add a catcher or do anything that might help us win now. Fine, I disagree with the strategy but I get it. So considering you are punting this season, I can naturally assume we are making some moves to help us next season or down the line, right? Wrong, of course. There is a lot of chatter about trading Hairston right now and the Mets seem against it, saying they are not getting offered enough. Isn't anything worth it at this point? Why not take a low A gamble prospect for Hairston? If you don't care about winning now and we can all agree Hairston is not a long term piece of Mets success. The Mets front office continue to baffle me.

I like Sandy Alderson well enough and I won't say I miss Minaya but there was something comforting about the Omar years. Knowing that whatever hole your team had would get filled with whatever top talent was available. It's like parent's who spoil there kids, in the long term it's bad for them but at the time, damn it feels good to get that shiny new K-Rod.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Mets head to San Fran for a four game series with the Nl West leading Dodgers, desperately needing to get something started in order to salvage this season. While the Mets have looked terrible since the break they have had a propensity to bounce back and sweep good teams just when you thought they were out. I am not going so far as to predict we sweep the G men, I am just saying that crazier things have happened. Let's take a look at what we are up against:

First up is the improbably named Madison Bumgarner. Bummy is in his third season and has been improving every year. He is leading the team in wins with 11 and is the owner of a 3.10/3.35 ERA/xFIP. On the bright side he is giving up over a home run per game and the Mets have been hitting for power a little better recently. He has also had some good defense and some good luck, holding players to a .259 BABIP, hopefully the luck side will give a little this week and the Mets can catch a break. Jeremy Hefner is pitching for us so we will need all the help we can get.

On Tuesday we face Le Freak who is not nearly as bad as you think he is. He does have an outrageously high ERA of 5.88 but his advanced stats tell a different story. His xFIP sits at a much more Lincecum like level of 3.74 also hitters currently have a BABIP of .327 against him. It would appear to me that Lincecum is the victim of bad fielding and bad luck, much the opposite of Bumgarner. Neither of these things will last forever and that ERA will drop into a much more respectable level. Lincecum can't be absolved of all the blame though, his walk rate has ballooned to a career 4.33/9 meaning that all those lucky hits against him are much worse because he is keeping men on base with his prodigious walking. Long story short, Lincecum lives.

The Mets just cannot get a break as we face Matt Cain on Wednesday. Along with the Dickster and the Nats two aces Matt Cain is a consensus top pitcher in the NL right now and his stats show it. He has 2.80 ERA and is striking out 8.26 batters per nine innings. The good news about Cain is that much like Bumgarner he is known to give up home runs. He has allowed 15 homers this year obliterating his 2011 total of 9 and on pace to give up more than any previous year. He has a fly ball rate of 43.3%, the most common type of ball hit off Cain which always lead to inflated home run numbers, good news for us.

Finally we take on Barry Zito. Thankfully it't not 2006 so we don't have much to worry about here. In many ways Zito is the anti Lincecum in as much as he has a lowish ERA (3.89) and a super high xFIP (5.14). I don't watch many Giants games but looking at their pitchers stats makes me believe they must have a very streaky defense (Is that a thing? Can defenses be streaky?). Zito has awful component stats: k/9 of 5.34, bb/9 of 3.89 and hr/9 of 1.14. Zito sucks, the Mets should beat him.

Offensively the star of the team has been, improbably, Melky Cabrera. Beforte this season began could I have said anything more ridiculous than Melky Cabrera would be a top hitter in baseball? Melky is hitting...wait for it... .353/.393/.520! Holy shit! Melky is slugging .520, that's just awesome. Good for him. He is also a proud member of the 10/10 club with 10 dingers and 11 stolen bags. The Giants are also getting a good year out of Buster Posey who is batting over .300 and has an awesome .377 OBP. Kung Fu Panda is hurt right now, probably out with a strained sense of fairness after allowing himself to start of D Wright in the all star game.

Right now the Giants are tied for first in the NL West with a record of 55-46. They have scored 401 runs and given up 397 runs.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

9:26- Here we go kids the first start of Mets top prospect Matt Harvey, I remember watching the draft when we signed him and being a big fan of his stache. A stache is such a bold move now a days, you have to respect anyone who wears one earnestly.

9:27- Ojeda was asked to describe his first start in the bigs and he promptly told us what he ate for lunch that day, dynamite story Bobby.

9:29- The Mets are going off at +170 for the Harvey start, I made the bet. C'mon Harvey, win me 17 bucks.

9:30- Remember on Batman the animated series when Harvey Dent had an split personality and one was called "Big Bad Harv"? Maybe that can be Harvey's new nickname. Harv is a super creepy name shortening.

9:31- They are really pushing the Harvey-Rob Johnson bromance angle.

9:39- We are in the midst of an unreasonably long commercial break.

9:40- Jason Bay is starting, sweet.

9:41- Wade Miley kind of looks like Lucas Duda

9:43- Gary and Keith are talking about the right temperature to walk 5 miles in, seriously, this is what they are discussing. I'm not complaining, just saying.

9:44- Murph is incapable of not getting base hits.

9:48- Scotty! Big two run double, some run support should give Harvey confidence.

9:51- Shocking news, Jason Bay grounds out to and ending. Good news, here comes Big Bad Harv!

9:54- Harvey coming in with a 3.54 ERA, 9.16 k/9.

9:55- Matt Harvey's first pitch in the show is a strike.

9:56- Matt Harvey with a nice K against his first MLB hitter.

9:57- Harvey looks frightened up there but is dealing with it well. He's a gamer.

9:58- Jason Kubel gets the first hit off Matt Harvey, some day he is going to be famous for that.

10:00- Matt Harvey is out of the first inning with 2 strike outs and one weak hit allowed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I am struggling with what to write right now. I want to make a case for how the Mets are still in this and maybe they are but I also don't want to embarrass myself further by being the last guy to hold out hope when the ship has clearly sailed. More than anything I want to talk about how displeased I am with the Mets front office.

The Mets have gone 9-1 since the break, losing virtually of all these games because of our bullpen.The part that bothers me about this is that we are using this is an excuse to not go out and get bullpen help. To reiterate: the Mets were doing good and we were going to be buyers and seek out bullpen help, the bullpen blows games so the front office decided now we aren't good and won't be getting bullpen help. Does anyone else see the insanity in this!? Now is the time more than ever to get bullpen help, five games ago was the best time to get bullpen help. It makes absolutely no sense to let the team fall apart just because we hit a tough streak. After the break Sandy said these next 8-10 games were very important in deciding the direction of the team, my question is: why? It's a 162 games season why would they arbitrarily designate one 10 game stretch as any more important than other? If we had gone 9-1 would we all of a sudden been worthy of going after Huston Street? It's only ten games, this season is only over when the players and front office act like it is and sadly it appears this season is over.

My other big problem is the fact that Jason Bay is still on this team. Bay currently has an fWAR of -.3. Keeping a player who is playing below replacement level on a team is a waste of money and blatantly illogical. Several players right now in the Mets farm system of capable of playing better than Jason Bay yet he remains on the roster. Terry Collins said recently that we cant judge Bay too harshly yet because he hasn't even had 125 PA. This would make some sense if this was Bay's first slump, Ike has an even lower WAR than Bay but most people can agree that Ike has shown promise and needs to get more service time to reach his potential. Bay has proven over the course of years to no longer be a good player. TC wants 125 PA? He had 509 last year and hit .240, not enough?  He had 401 the year before and hit .259. How many PA do we need before Bay is deemed unworthy?

The thing that makes me the most upset is simply the sheer illogical nature of this move. The only reason Bay keeps getting game time is because we are paying him 16 million dollars this year. Let me get this straight, we have one of the highest paid players in baseball who has proven he can longer play but we keep playing him just because he cost us so much and we want to get some value out of it? What?! When do we cut our losses. If we just got rid of him we would still be losing money but at least have a slightly better team, right now we are just doing both. Look, I get that Jason Bay is a nice guy and tries hard and probably feels bad when people boo him but frankly 16 million dollars is not proper compensation for trying hard. If the Mets won't sign an impact player in season the best they can do to prove to us they want to win is cut Jason Bay, but they won't because it doesn't follow Mets logic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The young Mets power hitter who was going to have his break out year and form a dynamic home run duo with Ike Davis is officially a player for AAA Buffalo. When this season began I can honestly say I did not expect the dude, El Duderino, would not make it a full season. I am little sad to see him go but from an analytical stand point there is no case to keep him. He was, according to fWAR, the worst player on the Mets. His -0.8 actually put him in the bottom 10 in all baseball. There is simply no excuse to ever keep a player on a MLB roster if he is consistently playing below replacement level as Duda was.

Duda was batting .241/.335/.391 with 12 homers and 94 strike outs in 355 plate appearances. The home runs actually were not the issue here, Duda had about the power we expected. He was roughly on pace to 25-30 which I think we all would have agreed was good for him and probably would have led the team. The real issue here was the total lack of hitting for average and the prodigious strike outs. At the end of the day when you can hit at least .270 and you never put the ball in play, you just aren't going to be a productive member of a team.

The Mets made the right move here, Lucas may still be a great Met and maybe a little more ninor leauge service will do him right. Now all we need to do is send down Nickeas and Bay and we might have finally have a logical major league roster.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Every time a Mets pitcher comes in, the Mets chances of winning decrease, to the tune of about 5.7%. This is as you could imagine, the worst in the Majors. We calculate this using WPA (Wins Probability Added, found on Fangraphs) which in it's simplest terms gives you a percentage increase or decrease of winning a game when a player appears. The next closes team to the Met is the Sillies who have a WPA of 4.12 well over a point better than the Mets.The Mets are one of only 12 teams with a negative WPA for its relievers. Let's take a look at the individual players:

Tim Byrdak
Josh Edgin
Jeremy Hefner
Pedro Beato
Miguel Batista
Frank Francisco
Ramon Ramirez
Elvin Ramirez
Manny Acosta
Bobby Parnell
Jon Rauch

The only players we have exert a positive influence on a game they enter are Byrdak and Edgin with Edgin having so few appearances to count for much. Rach and Parnell are both at the bottom of the list and provide the greatest increased chance of a Mets loss when appearing. Nothing shocking here but sometimes it helps illuminate what we see on the field when it is quantified, long story short, our bullpen sucks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Dark Night Rises comes out tonight and frankly I could not be more excited. This is totally unrelated to the Mets but I am just really excited for it. If you told me I could only see one thing today and my choices were a Dickey no no and The Dark Knight Rises, I would choose Batman. When I started writing this I vowed not to start writing a douchey "how the Mets are like Batman" paragraph but I do need to point up, that Dickey is kind of like Batman. While they are both technically proficient their true value lies in serving as a symbol and an inspiration for others, Batman for Gotham City victims of crime and hopelessness and Dickey for Mets fans victims of poor bullpens and well, hopelessness.

On the best player in baseball race news David Wright is tied for first with Mike Trout and late arrival to the race Andrew McCutchen all with a 5.3 fWAR. The injured Joey Votto is out of the running and Carlos Ruiz is close on the heels with 4.9.The once great Josh Hamilton has fallen to a tie for 9th.

Last month we examined where Dickey was in the triple crown categories, let's get an update. Assuming the Mets pen doesn't blow a 5 run lead right now Dickey leads the NL with 13 wins. He is tied for sixth lowest ERA with Strasburg at 2.66, this is pretty far off but the pack is pretty close together and a few good starts could easily put him back up. On the K side he is tied for third with Gio and only 7 K's behind Strasburg. All in all the Dickster is staying contention.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There is no stat, no metric, no number I can find to measure my dislike and utter disappointment with the Mets bullpen, so I invented one. I call it the Schoenweis/Heilman Replacement Level . Remeber in 2007 and 2008 every single time either one of these two got into a game, you just knew the game was over? You just gave up all hope. While I have finally found a bullpen that I have less hope in. They have crossed the level where if I was given the option I would replace them with the 2007-2008 era Schoenweis and Heilman.That's how bad they are.

The worst part of it all? How completely and utterly predictable all this was. Each and every one of these guys is playing exactly at the level any average predictor would indicate they should be playing. Our big off season move to bolster the bull pen was signing Frank Frank and Rauch, two guys who have a track record for not being great relievers. Frankly sometimes I question the Mets commitment to winning. As any Met fan does, I hate the Yankees. But one thing I have grown to respect is their expectation for excellence. Every season they don't win a World Series is a failure to them. Right now the Mets are imploding around us like a Gotham City football field and what do we hear in return? Huston Street and K-Rod are to pricey, Miguel Batista is starting Saturday, we might be able to sign Ramon Hernandez. Look I am not saying we need to go back to the Minaya days and just throw money and long contracts at the problem but there has to be a middle ground? Something that is both fiscally responsible but also gives us a real shot at playing post season baseball. I want some Yankee mentality. If this season falls apart, it's a failure. It's not a rebuilding year, I won't take solace in individual performances or a good first half. Either we win or we fail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just a quick post upon the occasion of Jason Bay returning to the roster and Omar Qunintanilla being DFA'ed to make room for him.

Games played
Qunity- 29
Bay- 22

Quinty- .07
Bay- (.03)

Qunity- .172/.253./373
Bay-  257/.350/.371

Coming into this week Quinty was actually tied for 6th most productive Met according to WAR. Congrats Omar you have been rewarded for you solid play with a demotion. Jason your outrageous salary and poor play have once again secured a spot, I look forward to watching your ground outs and bad defense tonight.

I have given very little love to the Oakland A's this season. The A's have always been my AL team but in recent years they have been just as bad as the Mets and at times even more unwatchable. The rise of the Rays in recent years has also stolen some of my AL love, they are pretty much just like the A's except a little bit more successful and with a cool coach. That being said I will always come back to my Athletics and the A's remain my go to number 2 team.

My question today is why don't they A's get the respect they deserve this season? The Mets sit at 46-43 right now and are seen by everybody as an amazing team that has defied low expectations and forced the leauge to take them seriously. The Orioles also sit at 46-43 and have garnered a similar storyline. The A's? You guessed it. 46-43 and no such storyline for Billy Beane. The A's have defied expectations for another terrible season and are playing an impressive three games over .500 with a 20-8 record since June 12th. Maybe the lack of love comes from the tough competition they face in the division. I would say it is basically impossible to consider that the A's could win the AL West but they are well within the hunt with a number of other teams for one of the two wild card spots.

Josh Reddick is having a career year right now currently hitting 268./346/.521 with 20 homers and 8 stolen bags. His 3.7 fWAR is good enough for the top 15 in all baseball. The pitching has been great all year as well but the starters stats do look a bit inflated when examined with defense independent metrics.

Travis Blackley
Brandon McCarthy
Jarrod Parker
Bartolo Colon
Tommy Milone

Every starter on the team besides Blackley has an ERA under 4 but an xFIP over 4, isn't that veird? Hopefully the A's stellar defense keeps up otherwise we will some of the ERA's shoot through the roof. I hope you enjoyed this public service announcement, next time you are having a conversation about teams having expectation busting years, mention the A's.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Mets have a big problem. Quite a few in fact. Last weekend was just downright dreadful. It was like watching everything that was bad about the Mets over the last few years at once, Wright striking out a lot, ineffective starting pitchers and a bullpen that is all but assured to cost you the game. Today on Metsblog Matt Cerrone talks about how three games shouldn't make a big difference in how we feel about the teams prospects but somehow it still does, he is right. It's only three games but it just made me feel awful.

However the problem I want to talk about today is Matt Harvey. Since Gee got injured we have been talking about Matt Harvey replacing him and have been given a series of confusing messages from the Mets ranging from he might start this week to he definitely won't be coming up at all. Now we are all told that a range of Mets execs are traveling to Buffalo to watch him pitch and Terry Collins says it's basically "an audition".

This kind of thinking just drives me nuts. Bring him up, don't bring him up but don't do it based on the strength of tonight's start. Tonight's start will not tell us anything we don't already know. We have several seasons of college and minor league data to look at, video to watch, numbers to crunch, comparisons to be made, experts to consult but instead we are just going to watch him pitch once and go from there? He could throw a no hitter tonight or he could give up 10 runs, neither would be particularly indicative of whether or not he can pitch at the MLB level. The Mets front office can't figure out what to do so they are just going to leave it up what is basically chance, they are going to look for a sign. If Matt Harvey was meant to get called up, he will pitch well tonight. Thinking like this just makes me mad.

As for my opinion? I would bring him up. I think the numbers bear it out. Below is a table with the AAA numbers prior to call up of the the Mets two other young pitchers as well as the two best rookie SP this year: Lance Lynn and Wade Miley.


As you can see their is no great difference between Harvey and any of these guys. One might argue that Gee was fairly unqualified to get called up when he did. He has remarkably similar numbers to Niese (expect way more K's)and is either on pace or better in most categories than Lynn or Miley both of whom are having awesome years. I say he's ready, I just hope whatever the Mets decide, they decide using logic and rationality.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What to think about the Mets bullpen this year. They have the highest ERA in baseball at 4.94, the 4th highest xFIP, 19th in k/9, 7th highest bb/9 and tied for 3rd with most blown saves. As a squad they seem absolutely atrocious but indivually do they look any better?

Bobby Parnell
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Frank Francisco
Tim Byrdak
Miguel Batista
Manny Acosta

The answer is, sorta. Right off the bat you can see that Acosta inflates the teams stats pretty hard, our ERA without him is 3.95, a full run lower. Frank Frank is actually doing  worse than I expected and I had reasonably low expectations for him. His ERA is about a run higher than career and his xFIP a 1/2 run higher. He is also blowing more saves, he had 4 apiece each of the last three years and is almost assured to break that in 2012. His component stats are just as bad his k/9 is about a SO lower and his bb/9 is over a full walk higher than average. Man, writing this paragraph made me dislike Frank Frank even more than I did earlier.

Bobby Parnell however is pitching wonderfully. Just look at his imporvement this year over his career numbers:


Huge leaps all around. While I still think the Mets top priority should be signing a closer I am getting to close to the point where I wouldn't mind seeing Parnell get a real extended shot at the job not just the garbage time and injury fill ins of the past few years.

All in all, this is a bullpen that freaks me out. They are the kings of inconsistency. I don't think they are quite as bad as the numbers indicate but unless something changes they will be the biggest factor keeping me us from the playoffs. This team has 13 blown saves on the season, the league average is 10. Meaning that with an average bullpen we could have three more wins. One and a half games out of first and already the owner of a wildcard spot.