Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Luis Castillo’ Category

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 »

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 »

Felipe Lopez, Revisted

Posted by JD on September 22, 2010

First things first: this post definitely qualifies as “beating a dead horse”. A very dead horse, at that. But I just can’t help myself, so here we go.

During the off-season, I made the case that the Mets should have signed Felipe Lopez here and here (while committing the sin of not clarifying that I was using Baseball Reference’s version of WAR). I even went so far as to sponsor his Baseball Reference page, because I’ll also take every opportunity to reference a Beatnuts’ lyric that I can get. My point? Felipe Lopez was/is better and cheaper than Alex Cora (I warned you that it was a dead horse).

Well, the Cardinals released Lopez yesterday because “they were sick of him showing up late for games”. That’s unacceptable behavior and I’m not going to try to defend him. I won’t be advocating his signing quite as much this off-season even if, as Aaron Gleeman suggests, he’s willing to settle for a minor league deal (I’ll try not to, anyway).

However, I will present these stat lines for your review:

Player A: .231/.310/.340, 26 extra base hits, 43 BB, 77 K, 77 OPS+, -0.2 BR WAR
Player B: .207/.265/.278, 9 extra base hits, 10 BB, 16 K, 49 OPS+, -1.2 BR WAR
Player C: .235/.338/.267, 6 extra base hits, 39 BB, 23 K, 69 OPS+, -0.1 BR WAR

I’m sure you figured out that Player A is Lopez and Player B is Cora. Player C is Luis Castillo. For the record, Lopez had 376 at-bats while Cora and Castillo have combined for 311 AB. Lopez made $1 million this year, Cora $2 million, and Castillo made $6 million.

Substituting Lopez for Cora and Castillo wouldn’t have made much difference this season: the Mets might have won one additional game had they done so. Given their current place in the standings, I’d much rather see Ruben Tejada (0.3 BR WAR) play over Lopez anyway. I know I’m not adding anything new to the discussion, but I had to follow my argument through to it’s final conclusion: signing Felipe Lopez and eating one (or both) of Alex Cora’s and Luis Castillo’s contracts would have (marginally) improved the Mets this season. “Clubhous chemistry” be damned.

Posted in Luis Castillo, Mets | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

————————————————————————————–

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 »

Bay Done For Season

Posted by JD on August 20, 2010

The beat writers provided the news today via Twitter (here’s a representative sample from Newsday’s David Lennon): Jerry Manuel expects Jason Bay to miss the rest of the year as he recovers from a concussion suffered back in July.

Great. As if the team’s play of late hasn’t been depressing enough, now one of the more expensive pieces of the lineup has been placed on the sidelines indefinitely. His production hasn’t matched his paycheck yet, but he gave an honest effort throughout the season (and was far more productive than his counterpart in right field). It’s a shame to see his season end this way.

Looking for a silver lining, it’s may actually be a good sign if Bay doesn’t return (I’m not bashing Bay here…stick with me for a minute). If he’s struggling with concussion-related symptoms, sitting him indicates that management is implementing their Prevention and Recovery policy. Medical science is still struggling to understand the full impact of head injuries, but one thing that we’ve learned is that they are no joke. Unlike broken bones, concussions have no timetable for recovery. Benching Bay for the rest of the season ensures that he’ll be given every chance to return to health. Even if we can’t reliably predict that he’ll return to his previous levels of performance, this will at least give him the best chance to do so. Short-term sacrifice is in his (and the team’s) best interests, and I’m glad Mets management isn’t rushing him back* needlessly.

*However, I’m not ruling out his return this season yet: after all, they did let Beltran play last September. I hope he takes all the time he needs. Pardon me for waiting to see it before I believe it.

What makes this situation entirely unappealing is Manuel’s (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Omar Minaya’s) roster management of late. I have no doubt that if the medical staff gave Bay a green light, Omar would throw him out there (and bat him clean-up, to boot). It was just a few weeks ago when we were told Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada would be receiving increased playing time. That turned out to be a pipe dream: not only has Tejada been replaced by Luis Castillo at second, but Mike Hessman has seen an increase in playing time at the expense of Ike Davis and Rod Barajas has returned, sending Josh Thole to the bench and Martinez back to Buffalo.

Why? Because Manuel is desperately trying to save his job and, in doing so, he’s advanced the near-ludicrous notion that the Mets are still in contention for a post-season berth. 11 games behind the Braves, 8.5 games behind the Giants, only 41 games left to play, and our lame-duck manager is harboring dreams of reaching the playoffs. And management (and ownership) is allowing it or, even worse, encouraging it. Absolutely ridiculous, yet that’s what we’re left to deal with for the short-term future.

Losing Jason Bay for the rest of the season is disappointing. What’s absolutely crushing is watching near-useless veterans receive the bulk of the playing time in a vain attempt finish in the playoffs. While I applaud this implementation of the Prevention and Recovery mantra, it makes me wonder: how did the Mets get this one instance right while in the midst of making so many other fundamentally bad decisions?

Cliches are worthless, but I keep circling back to an old standard: “It is what it is”. The Mets will continue to spin their wheels, I’ll continue to watch (as will you), and the organizational inertia will continue to mire the Mets in mediocrity. I hope Jason Bay gets well and has a monster season next year, yet I seriously doubt it will change much.

———-

Update: I really should edit my posts better before publishing them. Upon re-reading this post, I realized I failed to make one key point: Jason Bay has done nothing wrong here. His effort on the field lead directly to his concussion: he ran face first into a fence to make a catch. Sure, I think we would all like to see more production than “6 home runs, 47 RBI”. Heck, Jason Bay probably wouldn’t argue that point. But he gave a consistent, honest effort in each game he played and you can’t ask for anything more than that. Maybe the numbers weren’t there, but it wasn’t from lack of effort.

My issue is with how the Mets have approached the past 20 or so games since he’s been injured, and how they appear to be approaching the rest of the season. The announcement that Bay is likely done for the season triggered my frustration with the Mets’ (read: Jerry Manuel’s) insistence that they are still fighting for a playoff-berth. At this point that’s utter nonsense, and it set me off. Allow me to summarize:

1. Bay’s injury is unfortunate
2. The Mets appear to be handling it correctly, however;
3. They are handling just about every other roster/lineup decision incorrectly.

Apologies for any confusion, and let’s all hope Bay returns to full health as soon as possible.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Jerry Manuel, Luis Castillo, Mets, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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