Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for July, 2010

That Carlos Beltran, He’s Pretty Good

Posted by JD on July 29, 2010

I know there’s a lot going on today, what with Roy Oswalt joining the Phillies and R.A. Dickey holding the Cardinals to just three hits over 8 1/3 innings, but I’d like to address something that’s been festering with me for the past two weeks. It’s become pretty clear that Mets fans have split into two camps: those who properly value Carlos Beltran, and those who think he’s some sort of clubhouse cancer. I’m so deeply embedded in the first camp that I struggle to comprehend the second camp’s argument.

Beltran has now appeared in 13 games for the Mets. He’s still a bit tentative in the field and his .702 OPS is well below his career .855 mark, but he’s still more productive than Jeff Francoeur (.670 OPS after today’s game). Of course, the anti-Beltran camp’s argument isn’t rooted in statistics: they seem to be fascinated with the all-important (and ambiguous) factor of “chemistry”. According to one theory, Carlos Beltran and Oliver Perez destroyed the the team’s chemistry as soon as they walked in the door. The Mets’ 2-9 road trip happened because Beltran and Perez simply don’t play well with others.

That’s unacceptable to me. Yes, I understand that you’re still mad that Beltran took that curveball in 2006. I wish he’d swung at it, too. Heck, I wish he’d hit that pitch over the Whitestone Bridge. But that was just one sour moment in a fine Mets career. He’s played 689 games for the Mets, in which he has hit 128 home runs (6th in franchise history), scored 473 runs (11th), and has an .870 OPS (5th). Beltran also has accounted for 26.7 WAR (using Baseball Reference’s calculation), good for 5th in franchise history. Simply put, he’s one of the very best position players this franchise has ever fielded. Any “chemistry” concerns can go pound sand.

That brings us to the heart of this (pointless) debate: those fans who don’t care for Beltran also don’t care for statistics, advanced or otherwise. They “know what they see” and don’t need to dig any deeper. A part of me understands this: I can’t tell you how to calculate WAR, and I struggle to understand some of the more advanced statistics. But I can tell you this: I’ve been to plenty of games at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, and I’ve seen Carlos Beltran steal bases, make gravity-defying catches, and hit titanic home runs. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And the fact that some Mets fans haven’t makes me wonder what they were watching.

Carlos Beltran is awesome, and your argument is not valid.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A Star Returns, And A Role Player Departs

Posted by JD on July 15, 2010

Carlos Beltran is back! That’s the main story tonight as the Mets return from the All-Star Break. I’m sure he’ll be rusty and I’m sure he’ll need time to get his game back, but he’s an instant upgrade over Jeff Francoeur and a boost to the offense. It feels like forever since I’ve seen him play (or 10 months at least) and I can’t wait for his first at-bat tonight. It’s a much needed jolt of energy for me (as a fan): I look forward to watching him again.

This being the Mets that we’re talking about, of course there’s negative injury news to balance out my Beltran euphoria. Jose Reyes has again been limited to swinging from the right side only and is riding the pine tonight as the San Francisco Giants start Tim Lincecum tonight. I’ll admit to waffling on this one: half a Reyes is so much better than a whole Alex Cora that I can see why the Mets are reluctant to bench him. I can’t shake the feeling that this will end poorly, but I hearby waive my right to criticize the Mets for this move: I don’t think they’re wrong to keep him active. I’d much rather just continue to slam them for not signing Felipe Lopez instead of Cora in the offseason.

But I digress: the departure I refer to in my post title is that of Fernando Tatis, who was moved to the 60-day DL after he went under the knife on Wednesday. This move almost definitely ends his season, and most likely, his career. I know Tatis has been ridiculed by many Mets fans for the better part of two seasons, but I never quite thought that was fair. Signed to a minor league contract in 2008, Tatis was a revelation that year. He hit 11 home runs and had an 123 OPS+ while backing up in right and left field and first and third base.

He re-signed for $1.7 million in 2009, and while his 13 GIDPs earned him the wrath of many a Mets’ fan, he hit 8 homers and had a 105 OPS+ while adding second base and shortstop to his defensive resume. He wasn’t a whiz with the glove at those positions but he didn’t embarrass himself, either. Add in the fact that he served as the Mets’ emergency catcher and it’s clear that he was worth more than Cora, who had a 69 OPS+ last season while making $2 million dollars. Tatis was actually one of their better players during that lost season, and he took far more criticism than he deserved.

He re-signed again, this time for just $850,000 (or $1 million less than the aforementioned Cora). 2010 was admittedly a down year for Tatis, who found himself in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse, who limited him to a mere 72 plate appearances this season. Still, his 59 OPS+ is higher than Cora’s 58*.

*Can you tell I don’t care that much for Cora as a player?

When all was said and done, he was worth 3.3 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) for the Mets, not a bad return for the roughly $3 million they spent on him. By comparison, Cora has been worth -1.6 WAR. I’ll say it again: Tatis was worth almost five wins more than Cora. Think about that the next time you want to run him down. His career with the Mets may not be over, but if it is, this fan will remember him as a useful bench player acquired for a reasonable price. Tatis may not have helped them reach the playoffs, but he wasn’t the reason why they missed them either. I thank him for his service and wish him nothing but the best in the future.

That said, it’s time to watch the return of Carlos Beltran. The rest of the season starts today, and hopefully Beltran’s return key’s a successful road trip. Let’s Go Mets!

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Jeff Francoeur, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Mets Sign International Free Agents

Posted by JD on July 8, 2010

The Mets announced the signing today of two international free agents from Venezuela, OF Vicente Lupo and IF Leon Jackson Canelon. Remember the caveat I gave in my post about the amateur draft? Well, it applies to these two even more. I literally know nothing more about them than has been reported here, but I’m excited nonetheless.

Omar Minaya has had a decent eye for international free agents, and that track record is encouraging. What’s more encouraging (to me, at least), is that the Mets are investing in young talent. I recently wrote a post scolding them for “sticking to slot” in the amateur draft. Foolishly, I never considered that they might turn around and spend that money elsewhere.

Granted, I’d love to see them loosen the purse strings and sign high-quality talent in the draft and international free agency, but I understand that they have budgetary considerations. Given that the draft is a crapshoot, they might feel that it’s a better allocation of assets to spend at slot and there and spend the difference in the international market. I can’t argue with that: I don’t know their budget. I’m just happy to see them continue to invest in young talent, and hopefully we’ll see them sign a few more.

Posted in Mets, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Brief Hockey Interlude

Posted by JD on July 1, 2010

I know nobody wants to hear my opinion on hockey (you barely tolerate my opinion on the Mets), so I’ll spare you my feelings on the New York Rangers signing Martin Biron, Derek Boogard, Vinny Prospal, and Derek Stepan. But I would like to get one point off my chest:

Collectively, NHL teams have spent approximately $216 million dollars over 74 contract years on free agents today. The average NHL free agent signed a deal worth about $8 million, with an average length of about 2.75 years.

This from an organization that once decided it had to sacrifice an entire season to protect itself from itself. A scant five seasons later, and here we are. Gary Bettman must be turning in his grave…


Posted in Idle Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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