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Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Offseason Moves’ Category

The Rule 5 Draft and Elvin Ramirez

Posted by JD on December 8, 2010

On the eve of the annual Rule 5 draft, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York broke the news that the Mets expect to lose pitcher Elvin Ramirez. Buster Olney followed that up with a tweet stating that Ramirez is “the guy widely expected to be the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft”. Well, that sucks…especially because Ramirez has been hitting anywhere between 94 and 98 MPH on the radar gun in the Dominican this winter.

Or does it? I’m not so sure. Yes, given the Mets’ current shortage of major league arms and surplus of open spots on the 40-man roster (35 going into the draft), failing to protect anyone who can top out at 98 MPH raises eyebrows. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that his BB/9 has steadily risen from 4.0 in 2008 to 4.8 in 2009 to 5.5 in 2010 while his SO/BB has remained in the 1.23 – 1.72 range. Ramirez had a nice season at Savannah in 2008, and that deserves notice. But he’s done little to distinguish himself since.

And even if he had, how many Rule 5 picks actually stick with the club that selected them? Looking back at last year’s draft, in which 17 players were selected, reveals the following: nine were offered back to their original clubs (eight clubs accepted and the Braves declined the rights to Edgar Osuna), three were involved in deals that allowed the selecting clubs to keep them in the minors, and four stuck at the major league level. Yes, that equals 16: Kanekoa Texiera was claimed off of waivers by the Royals. And yes, one of the four that stuck was Carlos Monasterios, who was selected by the Mets and traded to the Dodgers for cash. My overall point is the same: the majority of the players picked were returned to their original clubs.

Sure,  Johan Santana, Joakim Soria, and Josh Hamilton were all Rule 5 draftees (to name a very select few).  But so were Jared Camp (selected ahead of Santana) and Ryan Goleski (selected ahead of both Soria AND Hamilton). Both Camp and Goleski were the “first player selected in the Rule 5 draft”. Where are they now?

To make a long story short, don’t focus on Ramirez’ availability. The Mets may well lose him tomorrow. But if you add the track record of previous Rule 5 picks to Ramirez’ performance over the past three years, you’ll find that it might not be much of a loss at all. At the very least, it’s nothing to lose sleep over.

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets, Offseason Moves | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Will the 2011 Rotation Include Pat Misch?

Posted by JD on November 29, 2010

It’s starting to look like it might (at least to me, anyway). Consider the rotation as it stands today: with Johan Santana recovering from surgery to start the season, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese are the only established major league starters on the roster. In some ways, referring to this group as “established” is being kind: they each have questions to answer in 2011). Pelfrey can be solid (if unspectacular), but has been prone to extended streaks where he struggles to be average. Can he be more consistent next year? R.A. Dickey was a revelation this season, but he’s 36 and the 174 innings he pitched last season were a career high. Can he do it again? 2010 was Jon Niese’s first full season, and he’s struggled with injuries the past two season. Can he stay healthy long enough to contribute?

That being said, those three will anchor the rotation next season. John Maine has most likely played his last game with the team: I expect him to be non-tendered this week. Dillon Gee will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, as will Misch and probably Tobi Stoner. Misch is easily the most established (there’s that word again, used even more generously here) of the three, which can’t hurt. Add in Sandy Alderson’s (and Terry Collins’) comments about not wanting to rush prospects to the majors and that’s about it for in-house candidates.

There are, of course, outside candidates. Joe Janish of Mets Today put together a list of signable (read: not Cliff Lee) free agent pitchers last week, focusing on the risk/reward aspect of each. Having just returned from a trip to Atlantic City, I find some of these gambles attractive, particularly Chris Young. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing one of them to a one-year deal and hoping for the best, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve read in many places that the Mets’ off-season budget may be limited to $5 million. If that’s the case, these players may not fit in the Mets’ budget (even accounting for the discount generated by their injury histories). I mean, it could happen, but should the Mets really gamble on a pitcher with a history of injuries when their budget is so limited?

The next few days will see a number of pitchers hit free agency as the December 2nd non-tender deadline approaches. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of non-tender candidates. While there are some interesting names for the bullpen, the starting pitchers leave something to be desired. I’ve always liked Brian Bannister and he might benefit from making half his starts at Citi Field, but he’s always struggled with major league hitters and he’s been injury prone recently, too. I wouldn’t have taken a shot at Zach Duke before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, making that moot anyway. Jeff Karstens? Kyle Davies? I guess, at the right price. But it’s debatable whether their better than Misch or not.

Acquiring a starter via a trade is also a possibility. The Mets could possibly trade Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran (Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka might make some sense, I guess). Personally, I remain convinced that the Mets should refrain from trading either of those players until June, at the earliest. Their value is what it once was, but there’s still a reasonable chance that they can recapture most of it: it simply makes no sense to move them now. We’ll see.

In an effort to be fair to every candidate, I have to mention that Oliver Perez currently has a 10-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts in the Mexican Winter League. Whatever.

So, there you have it: based on the known available options (and their costs), Pat Misch will very likely be the fifth (or possibly even the fourth) starter in the rotation next year. Bill James predicts Misch’s 2011 season as: 23 games (12 starts), 75.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 50 strikeouts and 18 walks (2.78 K/BB ration) for a 4.20 ERA (4.19 FIP). Obviously, the counting numbers would be higher if Misch won the job out of spring training, but a 4.20/4.19 ERA/FIP for less than $1 million isn’t that bad. It’s less than optimal, but budget constraints make it one of the more plausible options available.

Posted in Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Offseason Moves, Oliver Perez, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Moving On

Posted by JD on November 22, 2010

It’s over, it’s done, let’s turn the page (please). Now that the Mets have named Terry Collins as their next manager (and announced that Chip Hale and Dan Warthen will remain on as the third base and pitching coaches, respectively), we can move on to a (much, much) more important matter: building a roster for 2011. There are a couple of key dates coming up:

  • November 23: Last date to offer salary arbitration. In the Mets’ case, this applies to Pedro Feliciano. Despite the fact that Feliciano can expect to be awarded a contract of about $4 million in the arbitration process, the Mets should offer it to him. Yes, rumors have swirled that the Mets’ offseason budget may be limited to $5 million, and at 35, Feliciano’s an increasing injury risk. But he is a premium left-handed reliever who would likely command a multi-year deal from another team (the Yankees are already rumored to be interested), so the odds of him accepting would seem to be slim. And if he does? Those same teams might be willing to trade for him. Either way, the Mets should be able to turn Feliciano into some sort of longer-term asset.
  • December 5: Last date to outright a player before the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is designed to prevent clubs from stockpiling talent in the minor leagues by allowing other clubs to select players who are not on the 40-man roster. The Mets have already made some moves in this area, outrighting Jesus Feliciano, Raul Valdes, Mike Hessman, Omir Santos, and Eddie Kunz, waiving Joaquin Arias, and adding Manny Alvarez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, Josh Stinson, and Armando Rodriguez. There will be other moves made, as John Maine, Luis Hernandez, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo still have roster spots.
  • December 6: The Rule 5 draft. This will be interesting. Considering their budget limitations, the Mets will probably make a few picks. I expect them to take a pitcher or two to compete for the open spots in the rotation or bullpen. It’s my goal to go through the other 29 rosters and identify a few targets before the draft but, given my recent track record, there’s a great chance it won’t happen. But I’ll give it a shot. Keep in mind that any players picked must stay on the major league roster the entire year or they get offered back to their former organization (for $25,000).

As an added bonus, there will likely be a free agent signing or three sprinkled in (though maybe not until January). We’re not going to see big signings, but we might see the next R.A. Dickey sign in the coming weeks. This is the fun part of the offseason, watching the moves that shape the roster for next year. Anything is better than watching beat reporters and fans try to read the tea leaves of a managerial search, then endlessly venting over the results (accurately depicted here). We can’t turn the page fast enough, in my opinion.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Felipe Lopez is Lurking

Posted by JD on February 22, 2010

It’s been a long off-season for Felipe Lopez. The Brewers picked him up from Arizona in July but declined to offer him arbitration, making him a free agent. Lopez then sat unwanted through the entire off-season but nothing materialized, which lead him to grow frustrated with and ultimately fire Scott Boras. He was recently linked to the Cardinals and Padres but those theories were quickly debunked. Now he watches, unsigned, as pitchers and catchers report to camps in Florida and Arizona.

I’ll start with this: I doubt very much that the Mets will sign Lopez. They have Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo entrenched as their starting middle-infielders and gave Alex Cora $2 million to be their main sub. That contract is the real stopping point: the Mets have never shown an ability to identify sunk costs so Cora probably isn’t going anywhere. But that’s not going to stop me from banging the drum for Lopez.

I admit he has his faults. His 7.3 career WAR looks great until you realize that 5.1 WAR came in just two of the nine seasons he’s played, and on top of that he apparently has an “attitude problem” (according to a Google search, anyway). But I think he’s an upgrade over Cora (career 1.9 WAR), and the Mets should be actively trying* to at least bring him into camp on a minor league deal to compete for a spot. At the very least, he might light a fire under Castillo and Cora. At best, he might have a great Spring Training and take one of their jobs. I fail to see a downside to signing him, especially if he can be had for a minor league deal (a possibility that grows more likely each day).

I really don’t know why I beat myself up with hypothetical signings or trades: I know the Mets will do anything possible to avoid admitting they’ve made a bad signing, so there’s next to no chance they’ll actually sign Lopez. I guess I just can’t help myself. The idea of incremental improvement is too enticing, however unlikely it may be.

*I have to digress here: I have no idea what the Mets are “actively trying” to do, and neither do you. It’s become very easy to trash Omar Minaya and the front office this off-season but we really have no idea what they’re actually doing to acquire players. The perception that they’ve earned over the past three years is not exactly unfair, but the Jason Bay signing showed that published reports that they were doing nothing were unfounded. Yes, it’s most likely that budget concerns have handicapped the front office. But we should at least allow for the chance that the lack of free agent signings happened for a reason. It’s theoretically possible that Omar and his staff have accurately priced the available free agent talent, however unlikely that theory may be, and while I want them to go out and get Felipe Lopez today, I have to admit that they might know something about him as a player that might justify passing on him. I think it’s a bad move, but I’m willing to admit that other alternatives exist.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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