Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘Oliver Perez’ Category

Oliver Perez

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Another Domino Falls

Posted by JD on June 21, 2010

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Jenrry Mejia was finally sent down to Binghamton to resume his rightful career path as a starting pitcher (Bobby Parnell will take his place in the bullpen on Tuesday). He logged 26 2/3 innings in the Mets bullpen over 29 games, including a scoreless inning (with one strikeout) in yesterday’s game against the Yankees. Even though he had a 122 ERA+ and accrued 0.3 WAR during his time in Flushing this is undoubtedly the right move: starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers, and the Mets should take the time to figure out whether Mejia has what it takes to be a successful major league starter. Kudos to Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel for finally doing the right thing.

The roster continues to evolve, and in a good way. Ne’er-do-wells Sean Green, Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, GMJ, John Maine, and Oliver Perez have either been consigned to the Disabled List or released and the Mejia demotion fits in this trend. He wasn’t exactly a liability in the bullpen but the franchise is far better served by allowing him to hone his craft as a starter in the minors instead of eating low-leverage innings in the Mets’ bullpen. We still have to deal with Alex Cora’s steady march toward a vesting option and the DL assignments are a ticking time-bomb (acutely highlighted by Maine’s recent rehab starts), but lately Minaya has been making all the right moves.

I’ll be honest: I feel weird writing that. However, the standings have forced my hand: it’s June 21 and the Mets are 2.5 games out of first place with 95 games to go, and I suppose it proves the cliche that “late” really is better than “never”. We’ll never know how much better off they would be if Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Chris Carter or Jesus Feliciano had been on the roster from day one (I suspect they’d have at least one more win, if not two or three), but in the immortal words of former Jets coach Herm Edwards, we can build on this.

What’s done is done. Cora aside, the Mets’ roster is about as about as optimized as it can be at this point. The next step is acquiring a starting pitcher at a reasonable price. If Minaya can do that without stripping the farm system the Mets should at least be able to contend for the Wild Card, which is better than I expected back in February.

***

But I digress…let’s get back to Mejia. The Eastern league plays 140 games in a season and Binghamton has already played 67 games. With 73 games left to play, I figure that Mejia can get 14 starts. If he averages seven innings in each he’ll get approximately 98 innings of work, which would leave him with a season total of 126 innings. That’s a big jump from last season’s total of 94 2/3 innings pitched. There’s some doubt as to whether the Verducci Effect is a reliable predictor of pitcher injuries, but a thirty-plus inning increase should be enough for one year. In other words, hopefully the Mets don’t call up Mejia for bullpen duty when the roster expands in September. The limited benefit would far exceed the possible risk.

***

One final tangent: Mejia will make his first start on “Salute to Boy Band” Night. The sheer awesomeness of the moment is unmeasurable. That is all.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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