NEW YORK — Although it is not clear what it will take to retain Jose Reyes, the free-agent shortstop remains the Mets’ top priority this winter, and a recent interview with General Manager Sandy Alderson suggests that the Mets would be willing to surpass what the market bears in order to retain him.
I’ve never really cared about the walls at Citi Field. They are what they are for both teams, and the height and distance have both positives and negatives. My biggest concern is that if they were to change them, that they would do something stupid like just draw another orange line, or construct a makeshift fence in front of it and mess with the aesthetics. Sandy Alderson’s comments on the broadcast last night seem to suggest that they’ll put a lot of thought into how to meld the chances into the structure if they do make changes. Alderson mentioned that they’ve done a lot of research on it, and with three years worth of data to look at they’re a little more confident in the decisions they’re reaching off the data. Opinions about home runs and wall height are one thing, but I’m happy any decision that’s made will be based off hard data.
Personally, I like the changes Randy over at The Apple suggested. A row of seating in front of the wall in left, and a fence in right that turns the Mo’s Zone from a forgotten group area to a cool place to watch the game. Being able to watch the game from what would literally be field level would be a lot of fun. San Francisco has a similar type area out in right field of their ballpark.
Still, the changes do not make the Mets better. If the Mets move the fences in, they’ll move the fences in for the opponent as well. Jason Bay will still need to hit the ball hard consistently, and his failure to do so for much of his Mets tenure is not because of the walls. The Mets still have some work to do to make the 2012 team a contending team, and all moving in the walls does is change the configuration of the boxscore. David Wright and the Mets still need to hit the ball over them more often than their opponents to win a lot of games.
A side effect of this is that we can no longer call it the Great Wall of Flushing if it’s changed, and I was starting to really like that nickname. I thought it was a fun inside joke.
Tags: 2012 mets, Citi Field, citi field dimensions, citi field fences, citi field walls, David Wright, great wall of flushing, jason bay, Mets, mets home runs, mo's zone, New York Mets, sandy alderson
It often feels like the mainstream media has a story they want to write, and look for the facts to fit the story rather than watching the game and writing a story that matches the facts. They can get hung up on narratives they like and beat them to death. Part of the reason I named this blog what I did was to counter the idea that the Mets are cursed, never spend, are inept, or Latin-biased, etc etc.
One of the common stories this year was that the Mets are broke and can’t afford Reyes, so they will trade him. They stuck to this; it seemed like every day there was another story about how they’d have to trade him, or who would be a good suitor. As the season went on some of these writers had the occasion to glance down at the field, and happened to notice how unbelievably awesome Jose Reyes is, and how much he is adored by Mets fans. Slowly but surely more articles came out suggesting, as many bloggers have been writing all along, that the Mets should and could keep Reyes. It’s so refreshing to watch a player that’s just that awesome, that leads the league in so many categories, and is having a blast doing it. That his great season has caused writers to use the delete button more than usual is just a bonus.
Speaking of which, here’s a post from Ed Ryan at Mets Fever that wonders if maybe the Mets should be thinking about adding, not subtracting, players at the trading deadline. Personally I think the Mets will add someone. Alderson has been known in the past to like to wheel and deal, and I suspect this year will be no different. He’s claimed to this point to have the financial ability to do so. This doesn’t mean no one will get traded though, it just means it doesn’t have to be a fire sale. Sandy Alderson won’t need to trade major league pieces for guys that may or may not help the team at some future time. He’s got the options of trading major league talent for equal major league talent, maybe shuffling off an extra bat for an extra relief pitcher, or trading prospects for a good player that’s still got a couple of years left on his contract to help the team out both this year and next.
Winning or losing, it’s never too early to start bringing in talented players. Even if you don’t believe the Mets are one or two players away from making the playoffs, if you make them one better right now, that’s less work needed to do in the offseason. I expect a lot of activity in July, and some of it will probably be pretty exciting.
Tags: 2011 mlb league leaders, 2011 triple crown, are the mets buyers or sellers?, Baseball, don't trade reyes, extend reyes, Jose Reyes, keep reyes, leadoff triple crown, mainstream media, Mets, mets narratives, mets optimism, mets trades, New York Mets, optimism, sandy alderson, sign reyes, Trade Deadline, trading deadline, where is jose reyes going?
This probably doesn’t bother anyone on the team, so it’s far from becoming a distraction, but the situation with his vesting option is starting to become too common a topic of conversation among fans, bloggers and media. They brought him in to finish a game yesterday in an almost certain loss, which suggests that maybe they’re just not as worried about it as the rest of us are.
That’s the catch here; the Mets know a lot more about the situation than we do. So why get bent out of shape about something that’s probably not a big deal? The Mets know whether or not Francisco Rodriguez fits into their budget, or under what circumstances his option vesting for next year is not a problem. Sandy Alderson knows whether or not they’re going to try to trade him before that, or extend him and have him void the option. I’m not suggesting we have blind faith in Alderson; after all he’s just as fallible as the next guy. However I think it’s silly to treat this situation like the Mets are purposely sticking their head in the sand regarding the 2012 payroll and how their closer fits into it. At the end of the season, the Mets aren’t going to cry about what happens with Frankie, it’ll all be part of the bigger picture.
All in all, I’m just tired of half the Mets talk being about getting rid of our best players. It was tedious at best during the offseason, but now that I’m actively enjoying these guys beating down the opponents, can we stop wishing them away? I’d rather take a shot with Jose Reyes and whoever else makes the team better every year than close my eyes and hope I’ll be able to enjoy Mets baseball a couple of years down the road. I’m actually enjoying the Mets this season, I’m enjoying watching Jose Reyes literally scare the Cubs defenders into making two errors on one play and running all the way around the baseball diamond. I’m enjoying knowing that the game is over after eight innings when we have a lead. Don’t take that away from me please.
It was a horrible game. The Mets played sloppy baseball all around the diamond, and didn’t hit the ball with runners in scoring position. Niese didn’t throw enough curveballs and was forced to get too many outs in one inning, but survived through five.
This game was not a result of comments made by guys in suits. This game was the result of play on the field, which wasn’t better than the Cubs play on the field. Ruben Tejada was not thinking about what a meanie Fred Wilpon was to Jose Reyes when he failed to catch a pop-up going back.
Jason Bay is not done. He’s not very good, deserves all sorts of criticism, and is killing the lineup but he’s not done. Just like Carlos Delgado was not done in 2008. Remember him? I always laugh because there’s a blog out there called Ketchup On Your Ice Cream, whose last post was a frantic call for Mike Carp to replace him. This blog still stands, nearly three years later, as a monument to not overreacting. Yes, Bay looks horrible. Luckily he’s a hard worker and a hustler. He can come out of it. No better time than right now, when the Mets need offense the most.
Justin Turner is not “regressing to the mean” as I saw one beat writer note last night. Rookies do not regress, because the idea of regressing suggests a baseline value. Justin Turner does not have a baseline value, because his major league sample size is ridiculously small. Even punching in his Buffalo numbers to the extremely questionable minor league equivalency calculator gives him a respectable .743 OPS in the majors. Obviously it’s unlikely he’ll hit like Albert Pujols and drive in a run every game, but that doesn’t mean he’s trash.
The Mets are not done. Yes, they’re in a tough spot with the offense. Justin Turner helped some, but when he cooled off no one else stepped up to get big hits. When the offense is struggling the defense needs to make the plays and avoid costly mistakes that extend innings and make things tougher. The Mets had been pretty good at that, but they’ve gotten sloppy again lately. They’ve got one of those “turning point” series coming up this weekend with the Phillies. Everyone overreacting right now will likely be overreacting in the other direction if the Mets win that series.
The pitching is not horrible. The bullpen is actually very good, but the starters are what’s in question here. Yes, Pelfrey and Niese fell apart around some sloppy play and bad luck, but they’re not crap. Pelfrey is a solid above average workhorse type pitcher and Niese is still learning the league and the craft. Dickey put up a good showing on Friday and hopefully that means he’s back in command of his knuckleball. Gee’s a rookie and Capuano’s pretty solidly average. I’ve long been saying the good part of the Mets rotation, and the team in general, is that they all around don’t suck. There aren’t any huge black holes and automatic outs or gimme pitchers. Every pitcher is capable of pitching very well, and most of the time they’ll keep the team in games. The lack of an ace, for now, is mitigated some by having an above average back end of the rotation. I also suspect Sandy Alderson is looking for a couple of pitchers that could help out a little, for depth purposes, but it’s hard to find much in May.
So in the end, it’s just one game. You can’t overreact and point to every three game losing streak as confirmation that all the negative gibberish spouted about the Mets is true anymore than you can take a three game winning streak as evidence that I’m correct in my prediction of the Mets clinching the division on August 25th against the Phillies. It’s a long season, and lots of things change week to week and even day to day.
Tags: 2011 new york mets, fred wilpon, jason bay, just one game, justin turner, losing streak, Mets, mets clinch, mets defense, mets fans overreact, mets injuries, mets pitching, mike carp, New York Mets, one game, overreaction, sandy alderson, the sun will come up tomorrow, winning streak
This evening a selection of bloggers had a second conference call with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. The first one took place in December. There were a lot of great questions asked, and I’m sure there will be a full recap around the blogosphere. For now, the response to my question, followed by links to the other bloggers’ write-ups that I will update as I see them.
I asked Alderson how active he would be with transactions this season, in particular with regards to the second base or bullpen candidates that “just missed” making the team.
He explained that once these final decisions are made in Spring Training, a lot of that possible depth in the bullpen goes away. Guys may have to be offered back if they’re rule 5 picks, or they may choose to opt out of their contracts or just retire. The depth in the bullpen would most likely be Igarashi, although the Mets are pretty deep at second base. He stressed the importance of making sure guys are given a chance to perform and not go into every game like it could be their last. I feel like this is a big upgrade from last year; despite the ultimate results, I didn’t think it was fair for guys like John Maine and Oliver Perez to have it constantly held over their head that they were pitching for their careers to the point that Jerry Manuel actually publicly contemplated removing Maine from the rotation without ever mentioning it to him.
This is a good philosophy to have, but I wonder if it may be a little naive. After all, it’s not usually the manager and GM that are holding the axe over a players head, it’s the fans and sports radio. Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto only got 28 and 26 plate appearances respectively before being cast away, and it seems like the fans were calling for their heads long before that. Obviously the first base position took a rough turn when Murphy got hit with an injury days before the Opener, but what amounts to seven or eight games is hardly a telling sample size. Ultimately getting Ike Davis on the Mets, particularly when Murphy experienced a setback in recovery, was a good move but that doesn’t mean Jacobs or Catalanotto got a real fair shot to contribute.
Two quick things I took note of during the call. One is that there is still a chance Nick Evans makes this team, regardless of what happens with Beltran. The other is it seemed like Sandy’s biggest test for Jose Reyes is his on base percentage, and that if he can raise that, he’ll be resigned. I’m confident both will happen.
Tags: bloggers, chat with sandy alderson, conference call with sandy alderson, Jose Reyes, Mets, mets blog, mets blogger call, mets blogger chat, mets blogger conference call, mets bloggers, mets conference call, mets general manager, mets gm, New York Mets, nick evans, on base percentage, resign reyes, sandy alderson
This picture was taken around 10am on Friday morning. Luis Castillo was still in a Mets uniform and on the practice fields. I wonder what they were talking about..
Shortly after this Twitter was all abuzz about Luis Castillo being released.
Tags: Alderson and Collins discuss Castillo, Luis Castillo, luis castillo being released, Mets, mets practice fields, mets release castillo, mets spring training, mets spring training 2011, New York Mets, releasing castillo, sandy alderson, Spring Training, terry collins
Moneyball was about the Oakland Athletics, specifically the 2002 team, Billy Beane, and finding players that most other franchises under-valued. It was driven not by some sudden thirst for more knowledge or to understand the game better, but from a desperate need to try to compete with the vastly expanding budgets of baseball’s richest teams. Now the secret is out of the box in regards to the particular secrets Beane and the A’s discovered. Everyone is aware of the value of getting on base and not making out. J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson are still great thinkers and I have a lot of faith in their ability to lead the Mets but they’re not imparting some secret Moneyball techniques to do so; they’re just smart.
There was other interesting things in the book. One such thing was the idea that you can’t determine a prospects success by saying “He looks like a baseball player.” There is statistical evidence to look at; things like getting on base, or hitting for power. Many scouts still relied on a gut feeling about how a guy looked over the actual data, dismissing it as amateur stuff and having little relevance to the major leagues.
“A young player is not what he looks like, or what me might become, but what he has done.”
One chapter talks about Billy Beane’s failed attempt to become a baseball star. He was a first round draft pick and one of those highly touted prospects. Mostly because he was talented and looked like a ballplayer. Beane couldn’t handle the failure inherent in baseball, couldn’t cope with the mental part of game and eventually ended up in the front office. The signs were there for scouts to see, but they ignored them for the pretty package.
Another example is Chad Bradford. A relief pitcher who threw sidearm was unconventional, and he didn’t seem like a big league player. Despite positive results he didn’t get much appreciation from his teams until the Oakland A’s traded for him.
Another thing to note is that just because someone played the game doesn’t make them an expert on it and the naked eye is a poor tool to evaluate baseball players. What we observe is often limited and we rarely see the whole picture. A talented shortstop adjusts and positions himself to make a hard hit ball into an easy pick up and throw to first, whereas a less talented one may have to race to the ball and making a leaping throw to get the runner. The good shortstop did it easily, and it gets overlooked because no one was paying attention to him until after the ball was hit. This is what’s truly meant by the phrase “He made it look easy.”
The difference between a .300 hitter and a .275 hitter is one hit every two weeks. Even if you watched every pitch, without looking it up you wouldn’t be able to tell that Victor Martinez had one more hit every two weeks than Ryan Theriot.
There is a lot of Bill James and the advance of really thinking about baseball beyond the traditional numbers; The real birth of all the advanced statistics that are recorded and calculated nowadays. Moneyball discusses the roots of these companies that tabulate stats, and the intelligent people that came up with some of the almost common place statistics we use today.
Other sections of the book discuss scouting further. Later on the construction of the roster comes into play, and how Billy Beane is going to replace Jason Giambi’s production in the lineup now that he’s gone. There’s further discussions about specific players on the team and why they’re brought in and what they’re looking at. David Justice was an aging slugger, but the A’s expected his OBP to be something that he wouldn’t lose with age. They didn’t care that he’d hit less home runs, they just wanted him to get on base. They played Scott Hatteberg at first baseball because they felt he had value to the team and they could teach him enough defense to get by. He’d had surgery on his hand and could no longer really throw as a catcher, and the Red Sox didn’t want him anymore, undervaluing his OBP and how many pitches he saw per plate appearance. Some of the book deals with Beane himself. The guy is crazy. Picture the loudest, craziest fan you know. The one that paces during tense moments and breaks things when pitchers give up home runs. That’s Billy Beane.
The book was an interesting read, but it’s still just a story. A lot of interesting philosophies are put forth, but many of them also don’t work out so well for the team. I highly recommend anyone that’s interested in baseball read the book if they haven’t already, (Hey, there’s a movie coming out too!) but it won’t give you any particular insight into the Mets front office or really to any front office. It was a long time ago in baseball years, and even Billy Beane is doing things differently.
One last observation: Much of the misconception of Moneyball is that it’s about walking and then hitting the three-run home run. This isn’t the case at all, and that particular phrase is only popular because it’s how Joe Morgan once described the book on a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
Tags: baseball stars, billy beane, evaluation of players, front office, j p ricciardi, joe morgan, looks like a baseball player, michael lewis, moneyball, moneyball facts, moneyball movie, moneyball review, naked eye, oakland a's, Oakland Athletics, paul depodesta, player evaluation, sandy alderson, scouts, three-run home run, three-run homerun
The general consensus about the Mets new general manager is that he’s a great hire and going to do great things for the franchise. That he’s capable of advanced analysis and really understands the game. Sure, some fans are skeptical, but for the most part we’re happy that he’s leading this club.
He’s already joked that the honeymoon is over, but how long will we truly give him until we second guess his decisions? Will we ever give him the benefit of the doubt or will we insist we know better if he chooses someone for the roster we disagree with?
Specifically, if Sandy Alderson watches Oliver Perez throughout Spring Training and determines that he can add value to this team by being on the roster, will we be okay with it?
I doubt it. A recent poll on Metsblog suggested that more fans would rather Perez fail than succeed. I find this disturbing. Oliver Perez is on the Mets, and when players on the Mets do good, the Mets do good. The Mets doing good is what matters the most.
So while I certainly have favorite players and guys I would like to see make the club like Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy, ultimately what I want is the best 25 guys that will lead to the Mets having the best possible club to start the season. If that means Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, or even Jose Canseco, I’ll root for them to do well.
Tags: best 25, best 25 guys, daniel murphy, Mets, mets general manager, mets gm, mets roster, mets spring training, metsblog, New York Mets, nick evans, Oliver Perez, roster, roster decisions, sandy alderson, Spring Training
Sabermetrics or not, the Mets offseason was a collection of minor signings meant to represent depth and upside. There weren’t many good or great players to be had at anything approaching reasonable value and the Mets roster wasn’t the swiss cheese of baseball rosters that many made it out to be. Alderson hit the holes, and hit them hard. Multiples options for second base and lots of bench guys to slot in at various positions around the field to provide suitable backups and provide depth should a regular need to sit out a couple of days. A handful of pitchers who have potential, or have had a great year or two when they stay healthy to make up the two empty rotation spots, and a barrel full of relievers to make up a bullpen in what sounds like it will be a no-holds barred cage match in Spring Training for the last three or four spots.
Optimism is not a sin. I try, and I’ll continue to try until the division is clinched, to make a case for how and why the Mets will win the division. The odds may be stacked against them and they may need more things to go right than would be considered normal luck but that doesn’t mean they it’s impossible, or that it’s useless to be hopeful and upbeat that they can happen, and that the Mets can win.
I truly believe that the Mets could have one of the best offenses in the National League, and I’m not going to be shy about proclaiming that. Looking at the lineup, it’s certainly not a stretch. There is a certain amount of recovery from some and growing from others needed for it to happen, but it’s not out of the question. Closer to Opening Day I’ll make my official case for how and why I’m predicting the Mets will clinch the division on 9/25 against the Phillies.
Most importantly, the games still have to be played. Every year there are dozens of pitchers that were great and revert to being pretty average. There are rookies that take off in their second year to have great years, and players that overcome injury in previous seasons to have bounce back years. When those players bouncing back are perennial All-Stars, the bounce is that much higher. There are surprises every season; no one knows what’s going to happen. Even the predicted favorite from the offseason rarely makes it all the way to the World Series. Take the Sports Illustrated picks from last season; not even one supposed expert got either of the pennant winners correct.
So don’t get caught up in the negativity around the Mets. There is nothing wrong with thinking some of the Mets signings will have a good year and stay healthy, that Ike Davis could blossom into an excellent player or that Reyes and Beltran in their walk year put up numbers close to their career norms. With better coaching and leadership it’s a pretty good bet that the Mets will get more out of their talent than they have in years past. Remember: Optimism is not a sin!
Update: Here’s a post by Brian DiMenna who’s joined the Optimistic Mets Fan Club.
Tags: Baseball, believe, believe in the mets, best offense, best offense in the national league, Carlos Beltran, chris young, Jose Reyes, Mets, mets optimism, mets roster, mets signings, mlb, New York Mets, offseason signings, Omar Minaya, optimism is not a sin, optimistic mets fan, patrick flood, predictions, sandy alderson, scratchbomb, sports, sports illustrated predictions, ted berg, ya gotta believe