Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Carlos Beltran’

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 »

Thoughts On Moving K-Rod

Posted by JD on April 24, 2011

The Phillies placed Jose Contreras on the disabled list today, further straining a bullpen that’s already lost closer Brad Lidge. I bring this up because Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger retweeted this info with a comment suggesting that the Mets should call the Phillies and propose trading them Francisco Rodriguez. For some reason, I can’t find the original retweet in McCullough’s timeline (most likely operator error). I was able to find this retweet of a response that kind of sums up the negative response generated by McCullough’s comment.

I’m not bringing this exchange up to criticize McCullough. Far from it, actually. While I don’t relish the thought of helping the Phillies patch a weakness, I don’t think it matters as much as the long-term health of the club. K-Rod’s vesting option could seriously limit the Mets’ roster flexibility. While I could make an argument that $11.5 million is too much to pay a closer, I hope I don’t have to actually debate the merits of paying one $14 million (K-Rod will be owed $3.5 million regardless of whether the option kicks in). Moving that contract should be priority number one, ahead of resigning/dealing Jose Reyes* or finding a trade partner for Carlos Beltran.

*Come to think of it, I bet having that extra $14 million available for other uses might go a long way to resigning Reyes. Just another reason to move that contract.

If that means trading said closer to a division rival, even one who has won the division for three consecutive seasons, so be it. But if that’s a hold-up for you, consider this: the Phillies already have a 2012 payroll that exceeds $112 million. For eleven players, all of whom will be 31 or older. Throw Rodriguez into that mix and suddenly the Phillies owe $129 million to less than half their roster. And that doesn’t factor in an extension for Cole Hamels. In terms of sound roster management we should be thrilled if we give Rodriguez to the Phillies, never mind acquiring a useful prospect.

Yes, I’m ignoring the fact that the Mets would be improving the Phillies’ 2011 roster. I get that the emotional baggage of helping a division rival combined with watching Rodriguez torment his former team is an unpleasant thought for many fans. I understand why that would make this deal untenable for you. I won’t beat you over the head with my arguments but I’ll just add this: would you trade K-Rod for Jose Reyes and a prospect? That’s essentially how this deal could break down, and I’d sign up for that in a minute (even if the “prospect” translated into “replacement-level reliever”).

While we’re on the subject of dealing Rodriguez, I’d like to bring up this post by Mets Today’s Joe Janish. In a purely speculative nature, Janish wonders if the White Sox may be interested in trading for K-Rod. I agree with Joe: it is a “match made in heaven”. Kenny Williams has shown a willingness to ignore bad contracts before (see: Rios, Alex). Ozzie Guillen is all over the place, but his players generally like playing for him. Throw in the fact that both he and Rodriguez (and Omar Vizquel) are Venezuelan, and this might be an ideal landing spot for K-Rod. There’s no substance to this speculation, but I (and, I suspect, most all Mets fans) would be happy to see his option vest on the South Side.

Posted in Francisco Rodriguez, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Manny Ramirez: A “What If” Scenario

Posted by JD on April 9, 2011

If you haven’t heard by now, Manny Ramirez abruptly retired on Friday. Apparently he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs a second time (which would result in a 100-game suspension) and retired rather than having to deal with it. Whatever your feelings on Manny (I mostly agree with Joe Posnanski’s take on him), his antics, and how his career ended, I think we can all agree that he was an amazing hitter.

That got me thinking: where would Manny rank on the Mets offensive leaderboard? The Mets have long been known as a pitching-first franchise (think Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Dwight Gooden, among others), so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Manny absolutely dominates the leaderboard. John Olerud would still own the highest average and OBP, but Manny would lead in OPS, runs scored, hits, total bases, home runs, doubles…you name it, Manny would lead it (and it’s not especially close).

It’s fairly unrealistic to act as if one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time suddenly played his entire career with the Mets. But what if the Mets had claimed him off of waivers in the fall of 2003? As you may remember, the Red Sox put Manny on irrevocable waivers that year: anyone could have taken him had they been willing to pay his full contract. Nobody claimed him then, but what if the Mets had?

Well, they would have gotten seven-plus years of miserable defense in left field. But beyond that, they would have gotten 1,251 hits (trailing only Ed Kranepool’s 1,418), 2,289 total bases (242 more than Kranepool), 262 doubles (1st all-time, though David Wright has 261), 254 home runs (two more than Darryl Strawberry), 670 walks (90 more than Straw), and 725 runs scored (63 more than Straw). Olerud would still hold the highest batting and on-base averages, but Wright (.305) and Dave Magadan (.391) would drop to second behind Manny’s .308 batting average and .411 on-base average. Mike Piazza’s .542 slugging average would fall to Manny’s .564 and his .975 OPS would be almost 50 points higher than Olerud’s. And did I mention that he put these numbers up between the ages of 32 and 39? That’s just ridiculous.

Going further down the rabbit hole, Manny was worth 23.7 rWAR (Baseball-Reference.com’s version of WAR) during those years. That would place him eighth on the Mets all-time list, below Piazza’s 24.6 but above Jose Reyes’ 23.3. That total wouldn’t get his jersey retired, but it dwarves the total put up by Mets left fielders since 2004. Cliff Floyd (5.4 rWAR in three seasons and a personal favorite), Moises Alou (1.9 rWAR in two seasons), and Jason Bay (1.2 rWAR in one season) played the most left field during those seasons (2008-09 saw 10 different players get more than 10 games each in left field; I didn’t bother adding up their rWAR totals).

What would Game 6 have looked like with Manny Ramirez starting in left? Endy Chavez’ catch, one of the most iconic moments in franchise history, never would have happened, but would Manny have hit a home run to match Scott Rolen’s blast? Or, in the most alternate universe I can think of right now, what would have happened had Endy started the game (thus making his awesome catch) but Manny appeared as a pinch hitter instead of Cliff Floyd? How loud would Shea Stadium have been if Manny delivered the game winning hit, and how would Carlos Beltran haters denigrate him today if he never had to face Adam Wainwright’s wicked curveball? Would the 2007 Mets have made the playoffs? Would we be looking back on an era with multiple division-winning teams? Have I gotten carried away?

If you’ve read this far (thank you!) I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t accounted for park factor. You’re right: the numbers listed above were compiled when Manny played most of his games in Fenway Park, a notorious hitters’ haven (although he did play 223 games as an LA Dodger during those seasons). Also, there’s the not-so-small matter of Manny’s salary during those seasons: he’s made more than $140 million since 2004. So, no: this is not the most likely scenario. But isn’t that the fun of asking “what if?”

Posted in David Wright, Mets, Performance Enhancing Drugs | 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 »

 
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