Thursday, January 27, 2005

Catching Up

First thing is first. After failing to acquire Carlos Delgado, the Mets announced today they traded 1b prospect Ian Bladergroen for first-baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Given that Travis Lee was available for free, I think this is a rather pointless trade. Don't get me wrong, I think Mientkiewicz is the better player, but he is not that much better that he's worth an interesting prospect like Bladergroen.

With that being said, I think this isn't such a bad deal. Mientkiewicz has his faults, but he brings some positives to the table. For starters, he is outstanding defensively. His UZR from 00-03 shows he saved 17 runs per 150 games, or worth roughly 2 wins on defense. He'll definitely help a Met club that allowed more balls through the right side of the infield than any team in the National League. While certainly his defense is great, his offense is below average for a first baseman. That doesn't mean Mientkiewicz is completely useless at the plate, however, as he's always hit for a relative high AVG and shown some good-to-great plate discipline.
"Doug Mientkiewicz will solidify our infield with his brilliant defense and brings a .363 career on-base percentage to our line-up," said Mets General Manager Omar Minaya in making the announcement.
I think given the low expectations, most Met fans will be happy with Mientkiewicz this year. Who knows, maybe he'll even surprise us and have a good year. I mean, this is a guy who is a season removed from a 300/393/450 line. Here is what some of the projection systems expect him to do this year:

ZiPS - .275/.372/.408
TonyJ -.259/.364/.390
PECOTA - .272/.364/.410

ROOGY. Earlier today I mentioned that since Koo could be an excellent option against left-handers, the team could pair him up with Scott Strickland to form a pretty good one-two punch. Acquired from the Expos in 2002, Strickland has struggled with injuries during the past two years. Finally healthy, he can be a darkhorse for a spot in the depleted Mets' bullpen this year.
"Barring lightning striking my forehead, I should be ready to roll," said Strickland, who returns on a minor-league contract.
Using a fastball/slider combo, Strickland has been murder against right-handed batters throughout his career. Possessing an above average fastball, Strickland was thrust into a closer role in Montreal, but struggled because of his inability to get left-handers out.

vrs RHB
158.0 ip 103 hits 50/204 bb/so 10 HR
1.00 WHIP .185 BAA

vrs LHB
78.0 ip 94 hits 56/37 bb/so 12 HR
1.92 WHIP .292 BAA

If used correctly, Strickland can definitely be an asset to a Met bullpen that while not bad certainly lacks a dominant reliever who can shut down potential rallies in 7th and 8th innings. He and Koo could definitely combine to pitch 70-80 high-leverage innings and excel in that role.
With the roster pretty much set, the bullpen competition is probably the most interesting thing to look for this Spring Training. Aside from these two, here are the other guys looking to earn a spot this February.

Bullpen Bloc

Orber Moreno. Definitely a favorite of this site. Moreno has a 90 mph fastball and a heavy sinker that allows him to be stingy with HRs and extra-base hits. Non-tendered and signed to a minor league deal, he needs to prove he's healthy to earn a job this spring. One little tidbit that I always like to mention when talking about Orber is that last year, he was 2nd only behind Anaheim's F-Rod in SLG% against among major league relievers. He's definitely a keeper.

Mike DeJean. DeJean is a lock to be in the Met bullpen this year. Acquired from Baltimore in exchange for Karim Garcia, the former closer impressed Met brass by pitching brilliantly during the last two months of the season. Under the tutelage of Rick Peterson, DeJean found the strike zone and promptly started getting groundball outs with his low-90s sinker and strikeouts with his hard splitter. He should benefit from the improved infield defense and the Mientkiewicz acquisition.

Tyler Yates. Hailed as a future closer, Yates surprised everybody by earning a spot in the Met rotation last spring. The experiment was a disaster as the big Hawaiian right-hander lacked the stamina to pitch enough innings. Moved back to a relief role, Yates had a modicum of success as a middle reliever. He has a fastball in the low 90s and a slider that's very inconsistent. More hype than anything else, Yates hasn't shown much to make anyone believe he's better than some other the guys on the staff. He's a favorite of Rick Peterson, so odds are he'll go north with the big league club.

Heath Bell. The best Mets' reliever you've never heard about. An undrafted free agent from Oceanside California, Bell has come a long way to make the big leagues. His minor league stats are impeccable. Bell doesn't have plus stuff like Yates does, but he doesn't need to. Using an unorthodox delivery, he's managed to strikeout better than a batter an inning while also being on the stingy side with walks and HRs. He at the very least deserves a long look this spring.

Blake McGinley. Another favorite of this blog. McGinley is a left-hander reliever with fringe stuff but with fantastic results. In four professional seasons, the product of Texas Tech, has managed to average 10.23 strikeouts per nine innings and only 2.22 walks in the same span. Unprotected by the Mets for the Rule V draft, it doesn't seem as if he'll get a chance to displace Felix Heredia in Spring Training but given the "magical" tendencies of the Run Fairy, he'll probably get a chance to prove his numbers are no fluke at some point this year.

Felix Heredia. Dubbed The Run Fairy™ by Yankee fans, Felix Heredia was one of the worst relievers in baseball last year. He strikes out too few batters, walks too many and gives up a lot of bombs. In other words, he's everything you don't want in a reliever. Frankly, the only thing keeping him in the major leagues is his salary. The best we can hope for is an awful Spring Training performance and a release before the games start counting.

Bartolome Fortunado. Acquired in the stupidity known as the Kazmir trade, Fortunato made his major league debut with the Mets last year. A right hander reliever with a good fastball and a filthy palmball, he keeps hitters off-balance and has shown some decent strikeout numbers. Unfotunately for the Mets, he's also 29 and not likely to get that much better. His control is a bit worrisome, but he's a good bet to be a decent third or fourth option in the bullpen.

To this bunch you can add "Proven Closer" Roberto Hernandez, Cuban fireballer Alay Soler and minor league castoffs Juan Padilla, Grant Roberts, and Manny Aybar.


Blogger Blog World said...

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. Marcus Aurelius-Posters.

November 20, 2005 at 11:17 AM  

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