Alex Remington over at FanGraphs discusses the thought of the Mets going public- i.e. the team would be run by stockholders (presumably the fans, particularly if there is a cap placed on the number of purchasable shares).
Having the franchise run by the collective brain trust of WFAN callers would be priceless in terms of pure comedic value. It would also mean nothing short of Waterloo for the franchise. At some point, after we’ve traded David Wright and Wilmer Flores for Jeff Francoeur and David Eckstein, installed Wally Backman as player-manager, and held Carlos-Beltran-Effigy-Burning day as a promotion, well, you think Selig’s pissed now; the Mets will probably be terminated for giving the rest of the National League East an unfair competitive advantage.
It’s hard to envision such a phenomenon, although in my imagination, the decision-making process would probably look something like this.
In other news, the Mets hired Brad Andress as their new strength and conditioning coordinator, replacing Rick Slate. Andress has had a similar role with the Rockies, Tigers, and the University of Michigan throughout his career. Now, I don’t want be one of those fans who celebrates every move Sandy Alderson makes (beware the confirmation bias). However, if the Mets well-documented injury issues the last few years are any indication, the team’s medical staff were basically broscientists under the Omar regime.
Last but not least, Adam Rubin has an interview with some dude- Evans Nicholas or something like that- who’s apparently competing for a spot on the big league roster. I’m guessing they saw something in him at Mets Fantasy Camp over the winter and decided to give him an invite to Spring Training.
Project Prospect released their top 100 prospect list yesterday. The list included six Mets, ranked as followed:
42: Reese Havens
48: Matt Harvey
53: Fernando Martinez
83: Jenrry Mejia
94: Brad Emaus
100: Wilmer Flores
Yup, you read that right. Brad Emaus is more valuable than Wilmer Flores. Also, according to Project Prospect, myspace is way cooler than Facebook, Godfather Three puts one and two to shame, and Dane Cook isn’t a total fucking douche (okay, I made that part up).
When I first saw the rankings yesterday afternoon, it appeared to me as a subtle cry for attention. And by subtle cry of attention, I mean that annoying Freshman girl who acts dumber than she actually is. The one who was so beautiful and whom you were so ready to smash, until the moment she started talking.
Upon reflection, however, I softened my stance a bit. I figured Adam decided that, on the off chance Flores flops ala Alex Escobar, and Emaus becomes a decent starting second baseman, prospect junkies like myself will anoint Adam the grand poohbah of the prospect ranking industry- or at least right after Keith Law steps down, once he realizes he doesn’t shit unicorns, and no one really likes him.
Upon even further reflection, though, I decided I’d give Adam the benefit of the doubt. On the few occasions I’ve talked to him, he has been a genuinely nice dude. His approach is, to say the least, unique, and let’s face it, the prospect ranking industry is plagued by the group-think mentality, where people think they are making a fucking statement ranking someone’s number three guy number six.
So I give Adam credit for bucking conventional wisdom. Also, Adam’s been consistent with his rankings and his approach (he ranked Fernando Martinez the tenth best prospect in all of baseball last year, and he slipped to just 53rd this year). That being said, however, I disagree strongly with the rationale behind his ranking.
Anyways, feeling slightly obnoxious, I decided to post my rebuttal by participating in the chat they hosted last night, under the pseudonym “Wilmer Flores” (I know). Here’s how it went:
Wilmer Flores (7:29): How the hell am I rated lower than Brad Emaus?
Adam Foster (7:33): Ha!
Because you lack patience, haven’t shown much game power and probably are going to end up at third base.
Emaus is near big-league-ready. He’s an outstanding contact hitter with patience and some pop, though he’s also a third baseman in my mind — and Flores is also a great contact hitter.
I think people see teenager in full-season ball and think sky’s-the-limit upside too much. And patience really should be weighted just as heavily as traditional tools. Most scouts know that, too. There are people with a lot of say in the prospect industry who put next to no weight into the value of patience.
Wilmer Flores (9:04): Considering I already make excellent contact, the WORST CASE scenario is that I become Brad Emaus, who’s minor league track record indicates he will never slug above .450 in the big leagues. The only thing the dude has on me is walks, but I’m like 18. When Emaus was 21 in the NYPL, he only walked 7.9% of the time. My 7.6% BB rate in Savannah is nothing to scoff at, yet you act like I’m Yuniesky Betancourt or Jordany Valdespin. Plus, I never strike out.
Lincoln Hamilton (9:06): That 7.6 BB was for half a season and looks like a total outlier given that for the rest of your career you’ve been a 3.0-4.5% BB guy (which is Yuniesky territory).
Adam Foster (9:07): “but I’m like 18″ made me laugh :)
Adam Foster (9:08): And good Jordany Valdespin reference.
Lincoln Hamilton (9:08): We don’t expect Emaus to be much of a power hitter, but he’s a doubles/gap power guy with legit plus patience.
Wilmer Flores (9:08): While I might not show much game power, you can’t ignore my awesome bat speed. Power is often the last tool to develop anyways.
Lincoln Hamilton (9:08): Thanks for joining the chat Wilmer. Player have a tendency to overrate their own ability. Ask Michael Young
So what do you all think?
By the way, you can also read more about Wilmer Flores from yours truly. You can also read the X-rated version of this post here.
Saturday officially marked the end of the Rudy Terrasas era. in Flushing. Terrasas served as the Mets scouting director since 2006.
Terrasas was famously hamstrung by the Wilpon’s unwilingness to go over-slot year after year. That being said, it is still hard to find much good to say about his tenure. The Phillies received the Mets 18th pick as compensation for losing Billy Wagner, which they used to select Kyle Drabek. Thus, the Mets did not pick until the middle of the second round, when they selected Kevin Mulvey with the 62nd overall pick.
June 8th, 2006:
Round 2, 62nd overall: Kevin Mulvey, RHP, College: Mulvey, who is now in the Diamondbacks organization, was traded to Minnesota before the 2008 season in the Johan Santana deal, and has spent the last three full seasons in AAA. He will be 26 in May, so he does not look like much more than a AAAA pitcher at this point.
Round 3, 94th overall: Joe Smith, RHP, College: We all remember Joe Smith, who reached the majors by Opening Day 2007, and enjoyed two solid years with the Mets before being sent to Cleveland in the three-team deal for J.J. Putz before the 2009 season. Smith spent last year jumping between AAA Columbus and Cleveland, and appears to have made a decent career for himself as a ROOGY.
Round 4, 124th overall: John Holdzkom, RHP, High School: Holdzkom showed up his first day as a professional baseball player looking like Napoleon Dynamite. That is really all you need to know. At 6’8, 230 lbs., scouts drooled over Holdzkom’s frame, but injuries, control issues, and some personal problems- I heard he got suspended back in 2007 for trashing the team hotel room or something like that- derailed his career, and he has yet to rise above A-Ball. He last pitched in July for Kingsport. He’s kind of like Bobby Jenks, but Bobby Jenks eventually figured things out.
Round 5, 154th overall: Stephen Holmes, RHP, College: Holmes quit baseball soon after signing with the Mets for personal reasons and returned to college.
Round 6, 184th Overall: Scott Schafer, RHP, High School: Schafer threw all of two innings for the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2006. Some vulgar comments on his myspace apparently ending up costing him thousands of dollars upon signing. He was than arrested for DUI the following summer while rehabbing in St. Lucie, and was officially released before 2009.
Round 7, 214th overall: Daniel Stegall, OF, High School: Stegall was a toolsy, two-sport athlete out of Arkansas, with a committment to play quarterback at Miami. His impressive physical tools never translated into production, however, and he was released in the middle of 2009, never making it past A-Ball. He tried his hand at football once again with Mississippi State in 2009, but did not return in 2010.
Round 8, 244th overall: Nathan Hedrick, RHP, CC: Terrassas loved his tall pitchers, and no one seemed promising than 6’10 220 lb. Nathan Hedrick. Unfortunately, Hedrick had control issues that would put Colt Griffin to shame, and was released by the beginning of 2008.
Round 9, 274th overall: Jeremy Barfield, OF, High School: The Mets did not Barfield, who was arrested later that August after shoving his father, Jeremy, down the stairs. He went on to play for San Jacnito College, and was selected in the 8th round of the 2008 draft by the A’s. The 22 year-old spent all of last year in the California League, hitting .272/.339/.417.
Round 10, 304th overall: Phillips Orta, RHP, High School: The Mets waited until the following year to ink Orta, as part of the now extinct draft-and-follow process. Although raw, Orta appeared to have been fairly highly touted upon signing, and was ranked as the twenty-second overall Mets prospect heading into 2008. He mostly pitched in relief from 2008-2009, however, posting mediocre stats at the lower levels. He was released before the 2010 season.
All in all, Terrasas gambled on some high ceiling, high school talent in his first draft, and half the players could not make it from draft day to Kingsport without establishing a criminal record. While the draft might be a total crapshoot, and you are always rolling the dice big time with high school players that are not the creme of the crop, its’ hard not to consider this draft an abysmal failure. None of the Mets top picks after Smith spent more than a cup-0f-coffee in Advanced-A Ball.
The Mets did recoup some value later on in the draft, selecting Daniel Murphy in the 13th round. Dustin Martin, an outfielder selected in the 26th round, helped acquire Luis Castillo at the 2007 trading deadline. Tobi Stoner (16th round), Edgar Ramirez (36th round), and Josh Stinson (37th round), are the only players even left in the organization.
I have been following Amazin Avenue’s Community Prospect List. It appears that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has emerged as the consensus number two prospect in the system behind Wilmer Flores. I am not saying I disagree with the ranking, but I will say, if accurate, it is more a testament to the weakness of the Mets farm system, than it is a fair reflection of Nieuwenhuis’s talent, which really would not be number-two worthy in most organizations.
I really brought this up, though, because I find it interesting how Sean Ratliff, who profiles very similarly to Nieuwenhuis, has yet to appear on the list (AA is voting on number eight, and Ratliff is sixth in the voting for that spot last time I checked), and people still shy away from calling him a top ten prospect. In fairness, Nieuwenhuis has a lengthier track record of success, while Ratliff, aside from his two-and-a-half months in Binghamton, was a non-prospect.
If you compare their production with AA Binghamton, however, there is no comparison. Ratliff has vastly outperformed Nieuwenhuis:
Ratliff: 272 PA .332/.379/.614/.993 OPS. .426 wOBA .275 ISOP 7% BB% 23.5% K%
Nieuwenhuis: 430 PA .289/.337/.510/.371 wOBA .220 ISOP 6.7% BB% 21.6% K%
Yes, Nieuwehuis has a larger sample size, and for what its’ worth he is six months younger than Ratliff, but I do not think either of those facts compensate for an over 50 point disparity in wOBA, or an almost 150 point difference in OPS. Nieuwenhuis has also struggled mightily since being promoted to Buffalo (.195/.264/.329 in 91 PA).
Also, while his strikeout rate has remained on the high-end during his time in Binghamton, check out Ratliff’s walk rate over that span:
June (67 PA): 3%
July (123 PA): 4.1%
August (82 PA): 14.6%
The dude basically went from Jeff Francoeur to Adam Dunn in a month. I am guessing that has a lot to do with the fact pitchers are finally pitching around the new and improved Ratliff, but it is interesting nonetheless.
Both players are regarded as athletic outfielders, that may or may not have the range to stick in center field.
It is difficult to rank the Mets farm system. I think Reese Havens and Zach Lutz are far superior to Ratliff and Nieuwenhuis when there on the field, but neither of them has proven they can stay healthy. Duda is the best pure hitter of the bunch and has stayed healthy, but he is also probably a below average corner outfielder. You could make a real radical statement and say Darrell Ceciliani or Aderlin Rodriguez is the best of the bunch, but they carry with them a lot of downside. Than you have to factor in pitchers like Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey, and suddenly you have nine guys with no obvious advantage over each other.
And that is the problem with rankings. They add the illusion of distinction when, sometimes, as in this case, none is warranted. At the same time, that is what makes it fun, challenging, and let’s face, gives it real world pertinence. Out of the nine, one might blossom into a superstar, one or two of them might pull a Brad Holt next year, and you wonder why they were ever considered prospects in the first place, and the rest will end up in between. As a general manager, most of them are your trade chips, and you have to remember prospects get you fired, lest you end up looking like Steve Phillips.
In my column over at Mets Today a couple of days back, I wrote this about Ruben Tejada:
With a weak free agent market next year and the Mets lacking payroll flexibility, if Tejada can increase his offensive production modestly — still below average but not hovering around the Mendoza line — he is a passable starter, with the potential for more.
That has always been my sense, but I decided I would take a closer look.
Obviously, Tejada is an asset defensively. How many runs we can account for him saving next year is unfortunately dependent on if UZR is kind to him. For the sake of this piece, I will assume he saves 7.5 runs on defense; saving between 5 and 10 runs is very good for a second baseman, albeit unspectacular.
The real question is how well Tejada’s bat will play in the big leagues. Right now, he is hitting a putrid .489 OPS. with a .225 wOBA. Given his low BABIP (.225) and high LD% (24%), however, I would expect him to improve quite a bit.
But will it still be enough?
Tejada’s MLB equivalent line, based on his AAA time, is .238/.281/.290 .571 OPS. with a wOBA of about .255.-.260. Coming into this season, Chone projected a .273 wOBA, and ZIPS predicted a .285 wOBA.
If Tejada posted a .275 wOBA, and saved 7.5 runs, that would come out to about replacement level. I think it goes without saying that is not acceptable.
However, if he raised his wOBA to the .300-.305 range- think an OPS. in the .670-.690 range- Tejada would be worth about 1.5 wins. That might not sound like much, but its’ comparable to Luis Castillo’s 2009, which I would consider adequate, and Tejada would be making the league minimum. Whatever the case, it is hard to say if that is a reasonable expectation of progression from Tejada, or if we are overrating by him by 100 points worth of OPS.
My favorite, optimistic point of reference is Elvis Andrus. Andrus posted very similar numbers as a 20 year-old in AA in 2008, as Tejada did as a 19 year-old in 2009. He posted an OPS. of .702 and a .322 wOBA in 2009, and has a .682 OPS. and a wOBA of .317. Andrus has more speed than Tejada (50 stolen base and counting over the last two seasons), which inflates his wOBA a bit. Without the steals, his wOBA last year and this year is .307 and .310, respectively. Still, if Tejada can swipe 15-20 bases at a good success rate, he can add some extra points to his wOBA.
That being said, if the Mets are intent on contending next year, settling for Tejada seem like too big of a compromise. Even if Tejada hits well over the rest of the season, I would take it with a grain of salt, given its’ a small sample size in the scheme of things. By all means, let him gain some big league experience if it suits his development, but he is probably best off opening next year in Buffalo.
The Orioles have placed former Met Ty Wiggington on waivers.
As I have mentioned before, one of the main reasons I found Wiggington an intriguing trade option is that, if he played second base more often, he might qualify as a type-B free agent in the 2B, 3B, SS cluster, as opposed to the 1B, OF, DH group in which he currently resides, given his offensive output. If the Mets offered Wiggington arbitration and he declined and signed elsewhere, the Mets would receive a supplemental pick in next year’s draft.
Over the past two seasons, Wiggington has played 129 games at 1B, OF, or DH, and 104 at 2B, 3B, or SS. With 48 games left to play, he has enough time to close that margin.
Regardless of how you feel about Ruben Tejada’s promotion, I think its’ worth sending him back to AAA if it means netting a high draft pick next season. The question is, would Wiggington qualify?
Elias Rankings are based on traditional stats PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI. For the 2B, 3B, or SS group, Elias also accounts for fielding percentage, and total chances at designated position. Wiggington’s offensive numbers are probably strong enough, but his fielding percentage at second and third the last two seasons has been pretty awful.
The Dodgers just designated reliever Justin Miller for assignment. Miller is an intriguing option for several reasons. In 24.1 innings, he has struck out 30 hitters (29.1%) while walking just eight (7.8%). His era. is 4.44, and his FIP an unspectacular 4.14, but his xFIP is 3.35, since his home run rate (1.48), is higher than his career norm (1.17).
In 2007 and 2008, May was equally effective with the Marlins. His FIP was 3.00 and 3.86, respectively. He averaged 51.2 innings, 25.4% strikeout rate , and a 9.5% walk rate.
After signing with San Francisco in 2008, however, Miller had a 4.88 FIP in 56.2 innings. His walk rate rose slightly (11.4%), but his strikeout rate dropped significantly (15.3%).
Looking at his pitch distribution, according to fangraphs, it is no wonder Miller struggled last year, and has rebounded in 2010:
Miller appears to have adjusted his repotoire beause he was facing more left-handed hitters during his Giants campaign. From 2007-2008, he faced 299 right-handed hitters, compared to 162 left-handed hitters, a 1.84/1 ratio. In 2009, he faced 134 righties, and 102 lefties, a 1.31 ratio. This year, he has faced 66 righties, and 37 lefties (1.78). Miller has a huge platoon split for his career: his OPS. against for right-handers is .688, and against lefties it is .950. In other words, he makes every righty look like Jeff Francoeur, and every lefty Albert Pujols.
If used strictly as a roogy, Miller can be an effective weapon out of the Mets bullpen. It beats having Elmer Dessens or Oliver Perez.
Even the purest baseball traditionalist finds himself cringing at the occasional inconvenience of his loathing for the designated hitter. His team at the plate, two outs, runners in scoring position, and his starting pitcher, who has not compiled an extra-base hit since high school, steps up to the plate.
Most Mets fans experienced a similar letdown last night, when Hong-Chih Kuo walked Luis Castillo to load the bases in the top of the fifth inning, only to retire Hisanori Takahashi on a weak grounder to short for the easy force out at second.
Which got me thinking: in the absence of the designated hitter, is there not any other viable alternative? Last night’s ballgame was of paramount importance for the Mets; yes, any remaining game for a team on the fringes of contention is vital, but this team is at a crossroads right now where they must stop the bleeding. Further, considering the dormant state of the Mets offense lately, they should attempt to take advantage of every opportunity to score. Predictably, after failing to score with the based loaded in the fifth, the Mets managed just one base-hit the rest of the night.
In other words, the Mets may have squandered a golden opportunity by not pinch-hitting for Takahashi. Kuo, who was struggling mightily with his command at the time, may have ended up simply walking in the run with Carlos Beltran at the plate. Instead, he could relax, groove a fastball smack dab down the middle of the plate, as Jerry Manuel instead countered with Takahashi’s .133 OPS.
I know, it goes against conventional wisdom, but what exactly was gained by having Takahashi bat? Well, we have the advantage of clairvoyance and know that he, after allowing a run in the first, threw six shutout innings, delaying the Mets bullpen’s inexorable decline into overuse. At the very least, though, the thought process here is flawed. Takahashi typically struggles his second time through the order, more so than your average pitcher it seems, and could have just as easily imploded and not made it past the fifth.
People argue that Takahashi’s spot in the rotation is on the line, and we need to know what he is all about. After seven admittedly excellent innings, he now has a 5.37 era. and a 5.12 FIP as a starter. In other words, Takahashi is still not a major league caliber starting pitcher, in case one start changed anyone’s mind.
Again, what was gained? Sure, it probably rested the bullpen a bit. Rested for what? The meaningful games in September that may not exist? The post-season the Mets are becoming increasingly unlikely to play in?
Part of the problem, I think, is that the Mets, like most teams, entire bullpen is mostly accustomed to throwing just one inning, more or less. Raul Valdes pitched three innings the night before, so I can understand Manuel’s reluctance to use him last night. Everyone else is confined to pitching one inning at most (with the exception of Oliver Perez, of course.)
Perhaps every team should carry a Ramiro Mendoza type of guy. A true long reliever. Someone that is prepared to throw on an intermittent schedule. Sure, they will be there when your starter gets hurt or cannot pitch himself out of the second inning, but they can also throw three-four innings of relief the night your fifth starter pitches, or if you need an early pinch hitter like last night. On another day, they can throw an inning or two to keep their arm fresh. This reliever could potentially throw 100+ innings per year.
Most teams carry around a sub-par fifth starter anyways, who is easily replaceable by the Nelson Figueroa’s or the best AAAA arms of the world. Further, it would be an excellent opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to young pitchers. For instance, Dillon Gee might be a solid major league starter, and a cheap one at that. But, the downside is too great for a big-market, contending team for the Mets to consider. A role such as this would not stunt his development as a starter, give the Mets a good idea of what he is capable of, without the risks of relying on him as a full-fledged starter.
One problem I see with pinch-hitting for Takahashi last night is that his pitch count was just 62 after four innings. Assuming Takahashi is the team’s regular fifth starter going forward, he might feel over-rested by the time his next start comes around. Maybe you can solve that through extra side sessions or whatever teams typically do. Again, however, winning the ballgame must take priority.
With the Mets possibly on the verge of trading Jeff Francoeur, it begs the question: just what team is possibly interested in the sub-replacement hallmark of primitive baseball management? It is difficult to find any team that fully appreciates Francoeur’s varied skillset of grittiness, ribeye steaks, occasionally high batting average, overrated outfield arm, and serendipitous Sports Illustrated Cover worthy debut.
The Royals are an obvious match. They are actively shopping Jose Guillen- predictably to no avail- and Mitch Maier is not an everyday player; neither is Francoeur, mind you, but we are looking through the lens of someone who, by all indications, lacks basic motor and critical thinking skills (Dayton Moore). I have been pulling for a Kyle Farnsworth-Francoeur swap for a while now. They both have similar contracts, and Farnsworth, is a dependable, if unspectacular reliever, which is undoubtedly an upgrade over who the Mets currently employ. Kanekoa Texeira is another pitcher I would target.
Brian Bannister is an interesting dude. Swapping him with Hisanori Takahashi would essentially be a linear move, however. Bannister is like baseball’s version of Megan Fox. Once you get past the fact she is, um, aesthetically pleasing, you realize she is an awful actress. Likewise, despite Bannister being the player’s union’s unofficial sabermetric connoisseur, he is also a poor-man’s back-end starter (5.53 FIP). Ditto Bruce Chen.
I want to say the Mets should trade for Kila Ka’aihue, but there is really no fit for him on this ballclub. The Bisons are only 2.5 out of the wildcard though, and could use some reinforcements.
Looking at their AAA roster, Louis Coleman, their fifth round pick last year, has done nothing but strike people out so far. I am not sure if the Royals are willing to part with him, but is intriguing nonetheless. The Omaha Royals rotation also features both Gaby Hernandez and Philip Humber by the way.
Interestingly, Manny Ramirez is expected to be out about three weeks, joining backup outfielder Reed Johnson on the DL, so there is possibly a match there. I do not think the Dodgers are willing to deal anyone on the major league roster. Scanning over their AAA roster, recently demoted Ramon Troncoso is an appealing option. His strikeout rate has not been high since 2008, but he has always had an above average ground-ball rate, and he posted a 3.54 FIP in 82.2 innings with the Dodgers last year. Josh Lindblom is someone I would also inquire on.
Otherwise, suitors are few and far between. The Twins do not have any room. Unless the Astros can move Carlos Lee, there is no space for Francoeur there. The Cubs have too many outfielders.
That is a lie, actually. But I cannot conceive of any other explanation that would suffice. You may recall on the last day of June, I wrote a post noting that Mike Cervenak, the starting third baseman in Buffalo, walked just once in 223 plate-appearances, which works out to a 0.4% BB rate.
Cervenak has since posted a 7% walk rate in the month of July, walking six times since my post. (That night, actually, he walked twice, but firstinning did not update their game log in time). He is on a bit of a role lately, drawing a walk per game in three of his last four games. His overall walk rate is now 2.4%- just .8 behind Rod Barajas.
Adam Jones currently has the lowest walk rate in all of baseball (2.9%). There are always several qualified players who can be counted on to post a walk rate in the 2% range. Just twice in the last decade, however, have guys qualified with a sub-2% walk rate. It actually occurred both times in 2007:
Ivan Rodriguez: 1.7%
Tony Pena: 1.9%
In 1997, Shawon Dunston, who started at shortstop for both the Cubs and Pirates, had a 1.6% walk rate. In 132 games and 511 at-bats, he walked just 8 times. Dunston was actually an above average shortstop that year (as he was in others) at the plate with a .338 wOBA, thanks to a .451 SLG%. In 1999, the Mets acquired Dunston at the deadline for Craig Paquette, as a fourth outfielder, and to provide some right-handed pop off the bench. Despite not walking once in 97 plate-appearances, he still hit .344/.354/.430, thanks to a .410 BABIP.
I suspected that the pre-Moneyball 1990′s would be fertile ground for such lost souls, but Ozzie Guillen, as the starting shortstop for the White Sox in 1996, was the only other player to accomplish the feat (1.9%). It did not even occur once in the 1980′s.