Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Quantity, Not Quality

Maybe its just me, but I've always believed that you can judge a GM not by the big moves he makes, but rather the little ones. Don't get me wrong, I love the Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltrans, but a part of me is much more interested in those minor league deals no one cares about. Be it the release of Marco Scutaro or just simply a non-roster invitee, I think those deals give us a greater insight into a GM's mind. Wanting to appease my thirst for small transactions, Minaya keeps stockpiling minor league free agents like its going out of style. In today's press release, the Mets announced the addition of three more minor league invitees.
Shortstop Chris Woodward and righthanded pitchers Manny Aybar and Joe Nelson each signed minor league free agent contract with the New York Mets today and all three will be invited to Spring Training next February in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
So who are these guys? Lets take a look. Chris Woodward is a former Blue Jay shorstop who last year hit to the tune of 235/283/347 . He doesn't hit for much average but has decent pop for a shorstop. Presumably he's going to be competing with Super Joe McEwing for the ss back up role. Manny Aybar is a 32 year old journeymen who pitched in Mexico last year. Currently pitching in the DWL, Aybar has pitched 54.1 innings allowing 54 hits and a 58/17 k/bb with a 3.31 ERA. Joe Nelson, who despite the rumors isn't related to Nelson de la Rosa, was last seen pitching for the Red Sox AAA affiliate in Pawtucket. He's a right-handed 29 year old who in 8 minor league seasons has had a very solid 8.57 K/9 but whose 4 walks every 9 innings is a big problem. Last year in AAA, those two went up. His strikeouts per nine innings reached a Benitez-esque 14.5 but much like the former Met closer, his walk rate evidenced some wildness [15 walks in 30 innings]. Expect Woodward to make the team while Aybar and Nelson to serve as insurance down at Norfolk.

If you are like me, and are more interested in minor moves, you can check the Metropolitans blog for some Aaron Heilman action. But then again, if you are interested on whats happening with the big fish on the FA market, you can always check Kaley at Flushing Local who refuses to get Guerreroed again.

Before I forget, yes, I haven't forgetten about my incomplete top prospect list. And yes, I'll be getting around it eventually, but for now, here's some answer to prospect mail:

Mike writes:

So far you've listed Bowman and Bladergroen as your 4th and 5th prospects. Assuming Diaz, Milledge and Petit are ranked as the top three, where does that leave Brett Harper?
Certianly Harper produced big time this year, but considering his injury history and the fact that he has never produced like this, I had to rank him 6th on my list. With that being said, I still think he can be an useful part in the near future, and thats why I even wrote an honorary prospect review on him:

Brett Harper

The Mets selected Brett Harper in the 2000 draft, but the draft and follow did not sign until May 2001. Through his three years with the organization, Harper, the son of former MLB catcher Brian Harper, had shown some signs of being able to hit for average, but his power had gone missing as he entered the year with a career .094 IsoP [SLG - AVG] and only 5 HRs in 607 minor league at-bats. Not exactly promising. In addition to his Rey O-esque power, Harper also struggled to stay healthy, playing in only 48, 53 and 75 games in his first three seasons. Despite all of this, the Mets promoted him to St. Lucie and Harper didn’t waste the opportunity. In 60 games, the left-handed first-baseman had a Todd Helton-esque performance hitting for average, power and showing discipline at the tune of 350/.440/.564 in 220 Abs in the Florida State League, arguably the toughest hitting environment in the minor leagues. Aside from the excellent batting average, what was most impressive about Harper’s performance were his peripherals. He showed excellent plate discipline by walking once every 10 Pas and his power was more than solid with an IsoP above 200, and more than 30 percent of hits for extra bases. Given his previous history, Harper’s season drew several opinions from scouts:
Few guys I talked to didn't have a strong opinion about Harper, but those opinions were all over the board. A few guys thought he was a potential top-20 talent because of his ability to hit for average (he has an above .300 average for his minor league career) while showing solid power . But others view him as a pinch hitter at best at the major league level who swings almost from his heels to get his power. He has a lot of work to do defensively, and he struggled when he moved up to Double-A. Defensively he's projects as a DH and backup 1B right now who will have to work to improve to be an everyday 1B.
With that kind of performance the Mets had no choice but to promote Harper to Double -A Binghamton. There, Harper continued to show solid power with almost half his hits going for extra bases, but struggled to hit for power and his walk rate took somewhat of a hit. Understandably there was some adjustment period, so Harper will get another chance to show 2004 wasn’t a fluke next season when begins the year as the starting first baseman for AA-Binghamton.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Free Ramon Castro?

I just came back from dim sum and imagine my surprise when I read this.

Seemingly contradicting the family-oriented atmosphere at Shea the Mets had been promoting last season, the team quietly has signed troubled former Florida catcher Ramon Castro to a minor-league contract, a major-league source said.
The off-the-field thing aside, I think this is a pretty good move by Omar. Castro is no Pudge, but he is an excellent defensive catcher who hit for very good power in the minors. Hailed as the Marlins' catcher of the future by BP, Castro has struggled to show much at the major league level, but his trackrecord suggests he's capable of being an above average offensive catcher

AAA - 957 AB 307/359/563
AA- 256 AB 256/318/418
A - 1068 AB 267/333/391
R - 123 AB 276/373/407

Pretty good for a catcher. At best, Castro is in line to become Piazza's successor next year, and at worst it costs the Mets nothing but lunch money. Considering that Matheny and Blanco got guaranteed millions, this is an excellent signing. Good job, Omar.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

You Don't Target Middle Relief, It Just Happens

Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. Twice in this offseason, Omar has chosen to do without a good reliever, and twice he has gotten lucky by getting him back. Like Blake McGinley before him, Orber Moreno is still a Met.

The New York Mets announced today that they have signed righthanded pitcher Orber Moreno to a minor league contract and invited him to major league spring training camp.
While I wasn't happy with the decision of non-tendering Moreno, I have been pleasently surprised with Omar's approach to building the bullpen. You see, most fans believe that throwing money at "Proven Veteran Reliever" in the mold of Mike Stanton and Steve Kline is the way to a reliable bullpen, but as Peter Gammons shows us, that is not always the case. For the most part, relievers are unreliable, so for a team with limited resources [everybody but the Yankees] it makes little sense to commit $3 million for a guy like Weathers when guys who can do the same job are available at the minimum down in the minors. Avkash, of the excellent but now defunct Met blog the raindrops, tells us what smart organizations should be doing in light of these circumstances:
[What] a smart organization does in light of the unpredictable nature of bullpens [is to collect] a bunch of young, cheap, and interchangeable arms with good predictive indicators, i.e. strikeout rates. You then mix and match until you find something that works.
Obviously, its hard to imagine a team with a rookie manager in a big city like New York employing this strategy. With that in mind, a better strategy would be to target guys who have are above average but had off years, sign them to $1M contracts and reap the benefits of their regressions to the mean. With an excellent pitching coach, a pretty good pitcher's park and a CF that catches everything, there is no reason not to follow the model these guys having been using successfully for more than a decade now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

At the beginning of the offseason, there were two bullpen guys that in my mind should have been shoo-ins to be on the 25 man roster next year, Orber Moreno and Blake McGinley. For some God-forsaken reason, these are the two guys that Omar has decided to do without. Look, granted, these guys aren't perfect and they definitely could be replaced, but under what thought process are they worse than Bartolome Fortunado, Tyler Yates, Pedro Feliciano, et al?

Orber Moreno

It wasn't too long ago when Orber was destined to become a future elite closer for the Kansas City Royals. A myriad of injuries, however, have kept him from fullfilling that promise. A while back, after the Royals got tired of waiting for him to recover, the Mets took a flyer on him. Though no longer as hyped, Orber still possessed the attributes one looks for in a good reliever: He throws hard, still strikeouts more than a batter per inning, and he keeps the ball in the park.

After dominating the minor leagues for a year, Orber got his chance with the big league club this year and kept doing the same things he's always done: getting injured and being extremely effective against opposing batters.

1998 33 ip, 0.82 ERA 10/50 bb/so
1998 34 ip, 2.88 ERA 12/40 bb/so
1999 26 ip, 2.10 ERA 4/30 bb/so
2001 21 ip, 4.71 ERA 8/25 bb/so
2003 52 ip, 1.90 ERA 17/58 bb/so
2004 33 ip, 3.37 ERA 11/29 bb/so

Although he's mantained low ERAs, great WHIPs and excellent K/BB numbers, the most important thing Moreno does is keeping the ball in play. In 465 minor league innings, he only allowed 2 HRs. Last year at the major league level, he allowed none and only three extra-base hits. Yes, Moreno, more than likely will keep getting injured, but as long as he keeps getting hitters out, he deserves a spot on the 40 man roster.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Dustan Mohr

Dustan Mohr was non-tendered.
Dustan Mohr had a 394 OBP at Pac Bell last year
Dustan Mohr is a righty
Dustan Mohr can play CF in a pinch
Dustan Mohr should be a Met

The Mets could do a lot worse [read: Alou, Moises] than the three-headed platoon of Victor Diaz, Eric Valent and the SuperBest friends, and yes, Dustan Mohr.

Other interesting names from the partial non-tender list: David Eckstein, and Wade Miller. The Mets havent announced their non-tenders yet, but hopefully that list wont include Vic. Zambrano or Orber Moreno.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Open Thread

Delgado or JD Drew?

Carlos Delgado
Age 32 LHB 1b

Last Three Years
269/372/535 69/115 bb/so 58 XBHs 458 ABs OPS+ 153
302/426/593 109/135 bb/so 81 XBHs 570 ABs OPS+ 160
277/406/549 102/126 bb/so 69 XBHs 505 ABs OPS+ 128

UZR: Around +10 from 00-04
Reputation: Average defensively

Projections
263/389/507 93/138 bb/so 60 XBHs 499 ABs OPS+ 138
SWLTs ~[+20]

JD Drew
Age 28 LHB rf

Last Three Years
305/436/569 118/116 bb/so 67 XBHs 518 ABs OPS+ 158
289/374/512 36/48 bb/so 31 XBHs 287 ABs OPS+ 133
252/349/429 57/104 bb/so 38 XBHs 427 ABs OPS+ 110

UZR: + 8 from 00-03
Reputation: Above Average defensively.

Projections
286/400/512 75/89 bb/so 46 XBHs 418 ABs OPS+ 143
SWLTs [+35]

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!

I'm speechless, Pedro Martinez is a Met.

I think this is an excellent move. It's a bold one, no doubt, but one that makes sense in a lot of ways. Pedro doesn't come without question marks, but this is a move the Mets needed to make. Whether you like it or not, the Mets have been an irrelevant franchise since they decided to pass on A-Rod four years ago. Instead of paying one of the best players in the game, they wasted that money on Mo Vaughn, Kevin Appier, Tom Glavine and Roger Cedeno. Just last year, they had another chance to be relevant again, but they were gun-shy about Guerrero and now he's winning MVP awards in Anaheim. Well, it seems as if third time is the charm for Wilpon and the Mets. Pedro is a Met and aside from his kiler fastball and devasting changeup, he brings instant credibility to a moribund franchise. He makes them relevant again.

I'll try to write something about it tomorrow, but in the meanwhile check the sidebar for more eloquent and thoughtful responses on the move.

Pedro Martinez is a Met. Rolls nicely off the tongue, doesn't it? Kudos Omar.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"Score it 6-3. Reyes to Delgado."

According to the bastion of veracity and objectivity that is the NY Post, the Mets have extended offers to Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou. Although reports out of NY were that the Mets preferred Sexson, I had always suspected that Minaya would target Carlos.

As alluring an option as Sexson is at first base, Delgado appears to be the Mets' top choice. A week ago The Post reported GM Omar Minaya and special assistant Tony Bernazard had placed phone calls to Delgado directly to express the team's interest.
Delgado won't come cheap as he is reportedly seeking 4 years and $64 million guaranteed, but I think that if the Mets offer him a fair deal [3/$36M] they could land him. Mark Hale believes "the Mets' offer for Delgado is somewhere in the neighborhood of three or four years for at least $10 million-$12 million per season." I have said it before and I'll continue saying it, if the Mets land Delgado and don't deal any prospects, this offseason can and should be qualified as a success. Even if it includes Alou.

Not wanting to ruin my feel-good momentum by talking about Moises, I'll leave you with some good news. Our "main man" Jose Reyes is establishing himself as one of the best players in the DWL and is scheduled to start at shortstop for the Dominican All Stars when they face their Puertorican counterparts today. In his brief time with the Gigantes, Reyes is showing why he was consistently ranked one of the best young talents in the game just a year ago. Through 92 ABs, his line stands at 315/376/486 with a 9/4 bb/so ratio, his usual stellar defense and 5 stolen bases. A walk every 10 ABs and more walks than strikeouts? We'll take it. No signs of the injury either. Here's how some other Met prospects are faring in the winter leagues:

Jose Parra
0.53 ERA 17 ip 6/18 bb/so
15 hits [9.5 k/9 3.0 k/bb]
Second in saves in the Dominican League. Has been dominant.

Yusmeiro Petit
2.18 ERA 45.1 ip 7/48 bb/so 37 hits [9.5 k/9 6.85 k/bb]
A 6.85 k/bb? Are you kidding me? Easily the best pitcher of the league.

Blake McGinley
2.95 ERA 21.1 ip 4/23 bb/so 21 hits [9.7 k/9 5.75 k/bb]
Goodbye.

Victor Diaz
267/347/511 11/26 bb/so 7 XBHs [4 HRs]
Pretty good. The reports on his defense havent been good though.

Aarom Baldiris
220/270/288 4/17 bb/so 2 XBHs [0 HRs]
Ouch. Apparently he has been shut down by Magallanes.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Comment allez-vous ce soir?

I'm in a terrific mood today, so no Minaya bashing tonight. Some quick thoughts on the Mets moves and arbitration offers or lack thereof:

Leiter: Good. The Senator had a nice and shiny ERA last year but that was all smoke and mirrors. I wouldn't be surprised to see him be decent with the Marlins but it was obviously time to cut bait. Thanks for the memories, Al.

Hidalgo: Ah. I would have tried to make a deal in which the Mets could offer arbitration and he would have agreed to decline it. I thought that for a 1yr/$5M or less contract he would have been a good gamble. Alas. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Not committing money to a guy like Hidalgo means the Mets are home free to go for bigger and better things [JD Drew, Magglio] but then again it opens the possibility for disaster [the A-bomb known as Moises Alou].

Bottalico, others: Bah, other than Ed Wade and Steve Phillips, who cares about middle relievers?

DeJean: It depends which DeJean is going to show up. The guy who put the A-W-F-U-L on Goddamnawful with the Orioles or the groundball, strikeout machine he was with the Mets? For $1.15 million the Mets get a chance to find out. My money is on neither. He'll be average. Nothing exciting or better than Moreno and co. Whatever, I told you I was happy tonight.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Delgado, Omar and Other Things

Well, my practice set is finally finished so I can get back to blogging.

First thing is first, according to Mark Hale, Mets' management has finally decided to call the best 1b on the market and official FA choice of this blog, Carlos Delgado:

"According to a source familiar with the discussions, Mets special assistant Tony Bernazard and GM Omar Minaya each personally placed phone calls to Delgado a few days ago to let the free-agent slugger know that the Mets are interested."
I've already touched on his offensive production before, and according to early projections I've seen on him he projects to hit 263/389/507 at Shea stadium next year. Needless to say that is a very conservative projection, but one that would still put Delgado at roughly 40% better than the average hitter. Another projection has his hitting alone to be at least 3 wins better than the average 1b for the next couple of years. Thats phenomenal and worth anywhere from $6-10 million a year to a large market club like the Mets. Of course, after the Mike Piazza experiment, the Mets are probably looking for a little defense from 1b. Well, no problem, over the last four years, Delgado has had a positive UZR and was ranked the 6th best defensive 1b in baseball this year [+12/150 games]. Feel free to comment on this below, but I've already made my mind up, unless Carlos Beltran is willing to come to Shea, Carlos Delgado should be the Mets' priority this offseason.

Speaking of Beltran, I've read things about him around the Met blogsphere that have me puzzled. Sure, Carlos when measured by OPS or RBIs [wha?] isn't going to stand out, but that doesn't mean he isn't one of the 10 best players in baseball. Look, don't get me wrong, just a few months ago I thought the same thing, but once you realize how good his non-OPS skills are, you'll be convinced too. I'll have an article on this and my new favorite stat [SLWTs ] later on this week. Speaking of things I should be writing soon, I'll also try to write something on the three top prospects in my list and the performance of some of them in the Winter Leagues.

Finally, Omar Minaya was in the Dominican yesterday for the second time in a week....I wonder what he was doing there?

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Run Fairy™

I'm completely speechless. The Mets managed to trade Mike Stanton, mortal enemy of leads and Mets fans everywhere, but in his place they have acquired possibly the worst reliever in baseball. Flabbergasting. Seriously, how incompetent do you have to be to trade Stanton and get worse in the process? I really can't understand how people can even try to defend this deal. Sure the Mets saved money, but come on, who's going to care about that million bucks when we witness The Run Fairy's™ magical powers? Yeah, getting rid of Stanton is a stroke of genius, but not when Felix Heredia and Pedro Feliciano will be the designated left-handers in the bullpen next year. Or what, do you feel confident that any of these two buffoons will be able to ever get out Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu? You can talk all you want about Stanton, but at least he was a credible bullpen option. Should he have been pitching the 8th inning? No way. But as a fifth or four option out of the bullpen he was okay. Thank you Omar, you have done the impossible, you have made miss Mike Stanton.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

accounting is dead.

Sorry for the lack of updates, I'm sure you guys are just dying to know who the next ranked prospect in my list is but my accounting practice set is taking most of my time these days. I'll try to update post something this weekend.

PS. accounting is awesome still sucks.