Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Carlos Beltran’ Category

Whirlwind

Posted by JD on November 6, 2010

This post is more a recap than anything. I was reflecting on what’s happened since Sandy Alderson was hired as General Manager when I realized just what a whirlwind it’s been over the last ten days or so. Just look at what’s happened:

  • Several scouts departed or were not renewed.
  • Razor Shines was let go.
  • J.P. Ricciardi was hired as special assistant to the GM.
  • Ticket prices were lowered and season ticket holders were given the option to qualify for some (in my opinion, anyway) pretty awesome perks (Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl has a great summary here).
  • Manny Alvarez was added to the 40-man roster.
  • The Mets picked up Jose Reyes’ 2011 option.
  • The Royals claimed Joaquin Arias on waivers.
  • Jesus Feliciano, Mike Hessman, Raul Valdes, Omir Santos, and Eddie Kunz were outrighted to Buffalo, bringing the 40-man roster to 34 (in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft).
  • In a sad and shocking turn, long-time clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels has been suspended indefinitely while the FBI and Queens District Attorney probe his gambling activity.
  • The Mets could not reach an agreement with Hisanori Takahashi, who will not return in 2011.

It figures to continue, too. Alderson is trying to add Paul DePodesta to his staff, the free agent market just opened up, and the search for the next manager continues.

With the obvious exception of the Samuels investigation these changes are largely beneficial. It’s never a nice thing to see people fired but in this case it’s important: it’s definitive proof that Alderson is putting his stamp on the organization. Similarly, letting Takahashi walk shows that Alderson won’t over-react (or overspend) to keep useful players. This in turn bodes well for the free agent market: for the first time in years, I’m confident that any additions will be rational, affordable players who will shore up weaknesses and compliment the players already on the roster. I may be getting ahead of myself, but it feels like the days of grabbing a big name just for the sake of signing him (long-term consequences be damned) are gone.

I’m still skeptical of the Wilpons’ ability to refrain from interfering, but Alderson’s early moves have gone a long way toward quieting my fears (I’m sure that was his number one goal). I can’t wait to see who he selects as manager. I’d be fine with most of the candidates I’ve seen mentioned so far, with one exception: Wally Backman. Maybe I’m just being contrarian, but I just don’t understand the fascination some fans have with him. I get that he’s energetic, fiery, and scrappy, but he’s also had a checkered past and he’s largely unproven. I’m sorry, winning one division championship with a roster that’s largely old for it’s level is just not that impressive to me. Not to paint with a broad brush or anything, but I imagine that the portion of the fanbase that’s overly enamored with Backman has a lot of overlap with the group that can’t stand Carlos Beltran, and it drives me crazy.

But I digress. Sandy Alderson has his hand firmly on the wheel, steering the Mets in a bold, new direction. I like what I’ve seen so far and can’t wait to see how the 2011 roster takes shape.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Offseason Moves, Sandy Alderson | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Caught Looking

Posted by JD on October 25, 2010

Steve Lombardi at the Baseball Reference Blog had an interesting post the other day listing all of the players who ended their team’s post season by taking a called strike three. The post was inspired by the season-ending strike outs of Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez this weekend. The last occurrence prior to that was, of course, Carlos Beltran’s season ending backwards K against Adam Wainwright. No surprise there.

What is surprising (at least to me, anyway) is that Beltran wasn’t the first Met in that situation: Howard Johnson took a called strike three to end the 1988 NLCS. Hojo’s K was slightly less dramatic than Beltran’s: the Mets were trailing the Dodgers 6-0 at the time and Orel Hershiser was working on a complete game, five hit shutout. Those circumstances likely spared Hojo from the treatment Beltran has received in the past four years. In fact, I could only find two Hershiser-centric articles that briefly mentioned Hojo in passing (here and here). Given the pounding Beltran’s taken, I wish Johnson had been a little more vocal about his experience (though part of me understands: it’s never easy to talk about negative events).

Another ex-Met on the list also stands out, even if his post-season ending moment didn’t happen in the orange and blue: Willie Randolph took the final strike against the Royals’ Dan Quisenberry in 1980. Now, I could swear I remember Willie mentioning his strike out in defense of Beltran at some point, but I can’t find it in a Google search. While I’ll trust my spotty memory to give Willie the benefit of the doubt, I’m still frustrated with the media (and fans) who refuse to give Beltran a pass. It’s past time to move on and let it go, but Beltran’s career as a Met is doomed to be overshadowed by that one at bat.

In the interest of thoroughness, three other players with connections to the Mets appear on the list: former Met Randy Myers struck out Omar Vizquel to end the 1996 ALDS, future/former Roberto Alomar K’d looking against Jose Mesa to end the 1997 ALCS (in another twist, both series pitted the Indians against the Orioles), and Derek Lowe punched out former Met Terrance Long to end the 2003 ALDS. Throw in the fact that A-Rod and Alomar will both eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame and Vizquel has a decent shot, Beltran isn’t exactly keeping poor company here. But I’m sure that fact will go unreported, too.

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

Fine Print

Posted by JD on October 21, 2010

Eno Sarris offered a three-part analysis on how the Mets could learn from the mid-decade Phillies, which you can find here, here and here (give it a read: even if you don’t agree with the comparison, it’s an interesting look at how a franchise can change course in a relatively short time). Without stealing his thunder, he mentions in passing trading Carlos Beltran during the season if he re-establishes his value. I agree with the strategy (as I said here) for the reasons that Sarris mentions, and for one additional factor: the Mets cannot offer Beltran arbitration.

Under the current CBA, a player who files for free agency may chose to accept arbitration if his team offers it to him. If it is offered and the player declines, the team may be entitled to compensation in the form of draft picks (if the player qualifies as a Type A or Type B free agent). Thus, teams who elect to simply let their players’ contracts expire can receive some compensation which, given the cost-effective nature of young players these days, can potentially exceed the value of the departing player.

This option is not available to the Mets because Scott Boras negotiated a clause into Beltran’s contract (scroll down) in which the Mets agreed not to offer Beltran arbitration at the end of his contract. So, Sarris’ comment about trading Beltran in mid-season isn’t just a good strategy for the Mets, it’s the only practical strategy available to them given his current, decreased trade value. Just another gift from Omar Minaya, king of the contractual clauses.

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

What’s the Rush?

Posted by JD on September 20, 2010

Carlos Beltran’s days on the Mets are numbered: whether it be an off-season trade (Ken Davidoff thinks there may be a market for him), a deadline deal in July, or simply letting his contract expire, Beltran will not be here in 2012. The player/team relationship has deteriorated to the point that a divorce seems inevitable. As much as it pains me to believe it, believing anything else is indulging in fantasy at this point.

Personally, I think the third option makes the most sense. An injured Beltran is better than most major league outfielders even if he insists on playing center field (which he probably will). Trading him at the deadline makes a good bit of sense, too. Sure, it’s a a gamble: he could get hurt again. But it would give him a few months to rebuild his trade value while giving the Mets their best chance to win in 2010. All that being said, I’m almost positive they’ll rush into it and trade Beltran this winter.

I’m hedging my bets: there’s every chance that whoever gets the GM job will realize that it’s better to hold on to Beltran rather than dumping him. But, given the way the Mets have operated over the past three seasons, the new GM may be pressured to move Beltran as soon as possible. It’s the least palatable option, but that’s no reason to say it won’t happen.

Davidoff lists the Cardinals and Red Sox as potential trade partners. I took a look at their roster commitments on Cot’s Baseball Contracts and saw a couple of possible trades that I think highlight the position that the Mets will be dealing from this off-season. Setting the table, Beltran will earn $18.5 million next year, $5.5 of which will be deferred for an unspecified period of time at 1.72% compounded interest. This is a key (if under-reported) figure: it means that Beltran will actually make “just” $13 million next season.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms of Bobby Bonilla’s contract by now. On July 1, he’ll begin receiving annual payments of $1.19 million from the Mets until 2036. Beltran has a similar arrangement, the main difference being that we don’t know how the future payments are structured. Let’s set aside the deferred $5.5 million from 2008, 2009, and 2010 for now (I’d love to say that they’ve $16.5 million stashed in a safe investment, but for some reason I doubt it). That leaves the $5.5 million from 2011, the key to which is the payment’s due date:  the further out it is, the less that has to be invested today (here’s a primer on the time value of money). If it’s one year, the payment is worth about $5.4 million today. Ten years lowers the number to $4.64 million, 20 lowers it to $3.91 million, 25 lowers it to $3.59 million. We don’t know when the payments will be due, but we know that less than $5.5 million has to be set aside to cover it today. It’s a safe bet that the Mets would be willing to front whatever that number is, given that they can make up the difference in more profitable investments and that interest rates will surely go up (after all, the Great Recession is over). Wait, what?

Cheap shots aside, let’s use $13 million as a guideline: there are players on the Cardinals and Red Sox that come close to matching Beltran’s contract. On the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse is due to make $11.875 million in 2011 and 2012. He’s been mediocre (to be kind, he was injured this season) since signing his current contract and has a full no-trade clause. The Red Sox offer a similar option: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is due to make $10 million in 2011 and 2012. Dice-K has been less mediocre than Lohse (while pitching in the much more difficult AL East) but also has a full no-trade clause. Given the uncertainty in the Mets’ rotation next year, they might attempt to convince Lohse or Matsuzaka to waive their no-trade clauses (and, in the process, probably spend more money to do so).

There are undoubtedly more alternatives available should the Mets choose to get creative, but I think these two scenarios nicely highlight market conditions: they’ll have to acquire less talented players with longer contracts or pay the receiving team even more money to obtain higher quality players or prospects. The alternative is to hold on to Beltran long enough to regenerate his trade value (and reap the benefits of having him healthy and productive). This fan thinks it’s a no-brainer to keep Beltran, but I won’t put my money on that happening.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The March to Vesting

Posted by JD on September 6, 2010

Alex Cora’s vesting $2 million option was rightfully bashed in every corner of the Mets blogosphere (including here, to pick one post among many). We don’t have to worry about it now that he’s gone, but there’s another, more ominous vesting option looming in 2011: Francisco Rodriguez’ $17.5 million 2012  option. From Cot’s Baseball Contracts (scroll down):

  • 2012 option becomes guaranteed with:
    • 55 games finished in 2011, and
    • 100 games finished in 2010-11, and
    • doctors declare Rodriguez healthy after 2011

For the record, the Games Finished (GF) stat is as obvious as it sounds: it does not require the pitcher to earn a save, he merely has to record the final out of the ballgame. Before his infamous altercation in the Mets’ family room ended his season, Rodriguez recorded 46 GF. That means K-Rod has to finish at least 64 games (and be “declared healthy” after the season, whatever that means) to see his $17.5 million option become guaranteed.

Sounds like a lot, right? Not really. He finished 66 games last year and 69 the year before. In fact, counting his shortened 2010 season, he’s averaged about 59 GF over the last six seasons. There’s every reason to believe that, if his hand heals properly this offseason (which it most likely will), he’ll finish enough games next year to at least get very, very close to vesting that option.

On top of that, while the Mets are obligated to pay K-Rod $11.5 million next season, his contract contains a “poison pill”: performance bonuses that vest based on Games Finished. He’ll receive $150,000 for finishing 50 and 55 games, and $200,000 for finishing 60 games (for a total of $500,000). I find it ironic that Jeff Wilpon will have to write out checks to K-Rod as he inches closer and closer to cashing in on that $17.5 million option.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself: “Big deal, the Mets are going to dump him this offseason anyway”. Sorry to break this to you, but probably not. The MLB Players Association is going to fight the Mets every step of the way: they’ve already filed a grievance on Rodriguez’ behalf, contesting the Mets’ move to make the contract non-guaranteed (this would allow the Mets to avoid paying K-Rod for the remainder of the 2010 season). The grievance will go before an arbitrator in October and the MLBPA stands a decent chance of winning. At the very least, it signals that the Mets can count on fierce resistance from the union from this point on if they try to alter Rodriguez’ contract in any way.

But wait, there’s more! K-Rod has a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 10 teams. I can’t tell which teams are on the list, but that’s one-third of the league. The no-trade could seriously limit the market for K-Rod, which almost ensures that the Mets will have to include a serious amount of cash to make a trade happen. Don’t forget that everyone’s favorite roster-filler, Oliver Perez, will be making $12 million next season, too. If the Mets do succeed in moving Rodriguez, I can guarantee you right now that they won’t spend the cash to move Perez, too. What strange bedfellows stupid MLB contracts make: because of that titanic contract option, I have to say that keeping Perez and moving Rodriguez is the smart move. I didn’t think there’d ever be an argument for holding Perez, but the Mets’ management might have one there. Sigh.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you (and applaud your fortitude). Here comes your payoff. You may ask yourself, is $17.5 million really too much to pay for an above-average closer? Well, yes. It’s a stupid amount to pay. Here’s why: let’s assume the 2012 Mets play 162 games (no playoffs, no games lost to weather). That translates to roughly 1,458 innings (I’m not going to try to factor in extra-inning or rain-shortened games). That means that the 2012 Mets pitchers will record 4,374 outs. In his eight full seasons, Rodriguez has averaged about 71 1/3 innings pitched per season. Let’s be generous and assume that he’ll pitch 72 innings in 2012, which would be his highest total since 2006. 72 innings pitched equals 216 outs recorded. 216 divided by 4,374 equals 0.0494. Translation? Your $17.5 million dollar closer is going to record slightly less than 5% of the team’s outs.

Let me rephrase that: if his option vests, the Mets are going to pay Francisco Rodriguez approximately $81,019 per out. What’s more, he’ll get a $1 million dollar performance bonus if he finishes 60 games that year that will raise that number to a nifty $85,648. Astounding.

Say what you want about the contracts of Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, or Luis Castillo: I maintain that the single most important contract to remove is that of Francisco Rodriguez. That vesting option looms as the single biggest waste of money in franchise history. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But if you thought the Mets were handicapped by payroll concerns this season, just wait until 2012.

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I’m putting this below the line because it involves total speculation on my part. The Mets average total payroll over the past three seasons was approximately $137,888,000. I have no way to forecast what it will be in 2012, so let’s just assume it will be about $145 million (again, total shot in the dark). If that’s the case, the Mets will be tying up around 12.75% of their total payroll in a pitcher who will record roughly 5% of their total outs. One-eighth of their total payroll will go to a player who might record 216 outs. Just…wow.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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