Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Carlos Beltran’ Category

Catching Up: The Week That Was

Posted by JD on May 5, 2011

A lot has happened since I last posted. The Mets dropped two out of three in Philly and then returned home to drop two out of three to San Francisco. Tough stretch, but not without its positives:

  • With the exception of the opener in Philly, the Mets were “in” every game. Citing moral victories is damning with faint praise, but they were facing Cy Young-caliber pitchers in three of those games (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Tim Lincecum).
  • Carlos Beltran has been on fire. His slash line over the past six games? Try .333/.429/.708 (in 28 plate appearances) for a ridiculous 1.137 OPS. Three doubles, two home runs, and four walks will do that for you. And for you trivia buffs, Beltran’s home run today gave him 1,443 total bases in 2,886 at-bats with the Mets. That means his slugging percentage with the team sits at a very neat .500 (good for sixth all time among the franchise’s qualifying batters, narrowly falling short of John Olerud’s .501). That will change the next time he comes to bat, but round numbers are neat.
  • Quality starts. The Mets received them from Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, Chris Young and Chris Capuano during the two series (t0o be fair, Pelfrey had a decidedly non-quality start in the series opener in Philly). The starting rotation has a long way to go before it’s out of the woods, but there were some positive signs this week.
  • Ronny Paulino finally arrived and, as the saying goes “he arrived in ill humor,” going 5 for 7 and driving in the winning run in extra innings on Sunday night. For what it’s worth, 27 other Mets have had as many as five hits in a game but Paulino is the first to do it in his debut with the Mets. So whatever else happens, he’ll always have his place in Mets history.

It may seem silly to you that I chose to focus on these four items when the Mets just lost four of their last six. I get that. They’re 13-18 and in last place, and their roster is still full of holes. There’s no reason to expect them to play all that much better. Yet, I find them to be much more compelling than last year’s group and I remain optimistic that they’ll claw their way back into contention for a Wild Card berth. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s no rational reason for me to believe this. But I can’t help feeling that if they click, if they all perform at their career norms at the same time, they can be relevant in 2011. There’s still time, however fleeting it may be.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Spring Training Wrap-up

Posted by JD on March 30, 2011

The final game has been played (the Mets won, if you care) and the final roster decisions have been made. Next stop: Miami. A couple of thoughts before Opening Day:

  • Jason Bay is injured. You didn’t think this wouldn’t happen, did you? Not Bay’s injury specifically, but an injury to one of the team’s better players. I may be reading too much into my Twitter feed, but I think it’s fair to say that Bay’s injury solicited a fair amount of “same old Mets” reactions. Sure, it’s not a good thing. But injuries happen, especially to soon-to-be 32 year old outfielders. I could be alone here, but I think it’s at most a minor set back and is not at all related to anything that happened in 2009 or 10. Bay will be back at some point, he’ll be healthy, and he’ll probably exceed his 2010 production levels. Until then, some combination of Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston and Opening Day starter Willie Harris will tide the team over.
  • Speaking of Willie Harris, he’s starting in left field on Opening Day. Well, that’s sub-optimal. But after they sing the anthem and watch the fighter jet-flyover, Opening Day is just one of 162 games. As long as Carlos Beltran stays healthy, the threesome listed above should be able to roughly approximate Bay’s production.
  • Speaking of Carlos Beltran, he’s apparently healthy. Or, at least as healthy as he’s likely to get this season. I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a big Beltran fan and I’m extremely happy that he’s going to play on Friday. I’ve come to grips with the fact that he’ll never be the player he once was: those days are over. But I’m excited about his bat. Maybe I’ve read to many articles, too many beat-writer tweets from batting practice or minor league games, but it sounds to me like his bat (and, just as importantly, his batting eye) are still as good as ever. He may not be able to cover ground like he once did and I’ll probably hold my breath every time he rounds first on his way to second, but he’ll help this team. I have no doubt about that.

I’m on record over at Mets Fever saying that I think the Mets will “go 87-75 and finish 2nd. I don’t think that will be good enough for the Wild Card, but they’ll be in contention late.” Despite recent developments, I still feel that way. Sure, it’s a bit optimistic and quite a few things have to go right, but I think they’ll get some breaks*. And even if they don’t, I refuse to dampen my optimism. Our long, cold winter is finally over: Mets baseball is back and we’re about to embark on another 162-game summer. Let’s get ready to enjoy it for all it’s worth.

*That’s as far as I’m willing to “show my work”. As much as I admire (and struggle to employ) statistical analysis and forecasting, I was unwilling to peek too far behind the curtains for my pre-season prediction. I’m aware of the flaws this team has and I know that banking on a few breaks to go the Mets way is lazy, but I’m going all in on optimism. Will I be disappointed if they don’t win 87 games? Not unless they lose more than 83: this team is better than last year’s. Anything in-between is acceptable to me, and I chose to bet on the high side. So there you go. And Let’s Go Mets!

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Mets, Spring Training | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Shape

Posted by JD on March 23, 2011

The 2011 Mets’ roster is rounding into shape.  The first round of cuts, comprised mostly of prospects who had little chance of making the roster, took place on March 11.  The second round (which took place on March 19th) can be categorized as a group of AAAA players who had an outside shot (at best) at winning jobs, Dillon Gee, and Luis Castillo. Monday, Oliver Perez finally (mercifully) got the ax and today Justin Turner was optioned to Buffalo.

This is the exciting part of Spring Training for me: the final week or so, where the last few spots on the roster are sorted out. I tend to like the longshots and underdogs: that’s why I’m rooting for Nick Evans to find a spot on the bench. I guess Willie Harris is technically also an underdog, but I can’t help but feel that Evans’ upside outweighs Harris’ by a long shot (and Carlos Beltran’s knee may give both players an extended tryout). The second base competition is a slam dunk for me: I’m rooting for Brad Emaus to win. It’s not that I don’t like Luis Hernandez: the broken-foot home run that ended his season was awesome, but he’s a total non-factor offensively. I mean, Baseball Reference shows that his nickname (or middle name, I can’t figure it out) is “Mendoza”. If any team actually offers an asset for Hernandez, Sandy Alderson & Co. should jump on it immediately. So, two of the competitions are easy for me to diagnose.

The open bullpen spots are a different story. With the exception of Mike O’Conner, all of the remaining candidates have something to offer: Manny Acosta was solid last season after being picked up on waivers from the Braves; Pat Misch has performed above his limited stuff and has gotten results despite being less than overpowering: Pedro Beato is young, throws hard, and probably has the most upside of the bunch (and, as a Rule 5 pick, has to be offered back to the Orioles if he doesn’t make the major league roster); Jason Isringhausen has been a revelation as a reclamation project this spring, and Blaine Boyer has impressed members of the front office with his performance this spring. I’m all for carrying Beato. Beyond that, I can’t make up my mind, and I couldn’t be happier. Each of the candidates are viable major leaguers who probably won’t get through waivers. It’s a breath of fresh air: the Mets have a surplus of viable candidates for the last pitcher in their bullpen.

Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’m happy with the way they’ve managed their roster this season. I’m content to sit back and watch the players battle it out over the next week or so, reasonably content that Alderson & Co. will make a good decision. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that way, and that’s the best part of spring training so far.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Mets, Oliver Perez, Spring Training | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Valuing Carlos Beltran

Posted by JD on February 17, 2011

Dave Studeman of the The Hardball Times published this evaluation of Carlos Beltran’s contract on Monday. I apologize if you’ve seen it already, but I just stumbled upon it today and had to share it. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know I’m a Beltran fan. Read Studeman’s piece and make your own decision, but know that I couldn’t agree with it more. Sure, it’s a clear-cut case of confirmation bias, but it’s always nice when a comprehensive analysis supports your subjective opinion.

I’m not sure what to expect from Beltran this year, given his injury history and a possible (likely?) position switch, but he’s already justified the big contract he signed in 2005. Some people will never give him a break, but that shouldn’t obscure the excellent seasons he gave us in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Here’s hoping for he bounces back in big way.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

A Look At The Mets Stolen Base Successes (And Failures)

Posted by JD on February 7, 2011

Last week, Sandy Alderson commented that “stolen bases are a footnote”. He’s right, though as James Kannengeiser of Amazin Avenue noted “the Mets have been an elite base stealing machine over the last few seasons.” Actually, Kannengeiser’s analysis thoroughly covers the issue (that’s not the first time I’ve said that about his work) and I pretty much agree with every word of it, especially his conclusion.

But it got me thinking about which Mets players were the most efficient base stealers. So, I went over to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index tool to take a deeper dive. Here’s a few highlights of what I found:

  • 60 Mets have a perfect base stealing percentage. 55 of them stole 4 bases or less, including Tom Seaver (4-4), Kelly Stinnett (4-4), Josh Thole (2-2), Sid Fernandez (1-1) and Ron Darling (1-1).
  • The five players who were 5-5 or better: Paul LoDuca (5-5), Shane Spencer (6-6), Dan Norman (8-8), Jason Bay (10-10) and Manny Alexander (11-11).
  • The player with the best “non-perfect” stolen base success rate: Chico Walker, who went 21-22 in 222 games over the 1992-93 seasons. I liked Chico, because his name often reminded me of the immortal Chico Escuela.
  • Shawn Green is the only other Met to exceed a 90% success rate, going 11-12 in 164 games over the 2006-07 seasons. He also owns a very, very expensive house.

Now, let’s look at some arbitrary thresholds (current Mets in bold text):

  • Highest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Bob Bailor, 40-46 (.870), Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Roberto Alomar, 22-26 (.846), Kaz Matsui, 22-26 (.846), Cliff Floyd, 32-38 (.842).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Elliot Maddox, 6-28 (.214), Ed Kranepool, 15-42 (.357), Jerry Grote, 14-34 (.412), Jeff Kent, 12-28 (.429), Felix Millan, 11-25 (.440).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Gregg Jeffries, 63-77 (.818), Luis Castillo, 55-68 (.809), Kevin McReynolds, 67-83 (.807).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Joel Youngblood, 39-75 (.520), Wayne Garrett, 33-59 (.559), Rey Ordonez, 28-50 (.560), Bernard Gilkey, 29-50 (.580), Lenny Randle, 47-79 (.595).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Roger Cedeno, 103-135 (.778), David Wright, 138-180 (.767).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: John Stearns, 91-142 (.641), Cleon Jones, 91-139 (.655), Tommy Agee, 92-139 (.662), Lee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682), Frank Taveras, 90-131 (.687).
  • Success rates, minimum 200 stolen bases: Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Howard Johnson, 202-265 (.762), Mookie Wilson, 281-371 (.757), Darryl Strawberry, 191-266 (.718), Lee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682).

Three observations came to me:

  1. The late 60’s-early 70’s Mets ran a little, but without much success.
  2. The 80’s Mets ran a lot, with a fair amount of success.
  3. The current team has the three most successful runners in franchise history, plus Castillo (.809) and Angel Pagan (55-71, .775).

That final point brings me back to Kannengeiser’s post. I share his confidence in Alderson & Co., but I worry just a bit that this edge will be blunted. Time will tell, but it will most definitely be an interesting sub-plot to follow this season.

Posted in Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Mets, Sandy Alderson | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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