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: Alex Cora, Felipe Lopez, John Mozeliak, Luis Castillo, Mets | 2 Comments »
Posted by JD on July 15, 2010
Carlos Beltran is back! That’s the main story tonight as the Mets return from the All-Star Break. I’m sure he’ll be rusty and I’m sure he’ll need time to get his game back, but he’s an instant upgrade over Jeff Francoeur and a boost to the offense. It feels like forever since I’ve seen him play (or 10 months at least) and I can’t wait for his first at-bat tonight. It’s a much needed jolt of energy for me (as a fan): I look forward to watching him again.
This being the Mets that we’re talking about, of course there’s negative injury news to balance out my Beltran euphoria. Jose Reyes has again been limited to swinging from the right side only and is riding the pine tonight as the San Francisco Giants start Tim Lincecum tonight. I’ll admit to waffling on this one: half a Reyes is so much better than a whole Alex Cora that I can see why the Mets are reluctant to bench him. I can’t shake the feeling that this will end poorly, but I hearby waive my right to criticize the Mets for this move: I don’t think they’re wrong to keep him active. I’d much rather just continue to slam them for not signing Felipe Lopez instead of Cora in the offseason.
But I digress: the departure I refer to in my post title is that of Fernando Tatis, who was moved to the 60-day DL after he went under the knife on Wednesday. This move almost definitely ends his season, and most likely, his career. I know Tatis has been ridiculed by many Mets fans for the better part of two seasons, but I never quite thought that was fair. Signed to a minor league contract in 2008, Tatis was a revelation that year. He hit 11 home runs and had an 123 OPS+ while backing up in right and left field and first and third base.
He re-signed for $1.7 million in 2009, and while his 13 GIDPs earned him the wrath of many a Mets’ fan, he hit 8 homers and had a 105 OPS+ while adding second base and shortstop to his defensive resume. He wasn’t a whiz with the glove at those positions but he didn’t embarrass himself, either. Add in the fact that he served as the Mets’ emergency catcher and it’s clear that he was worth more than Cora, who had a 69 OPS+ last season while making $2 million dollars. Tatis was actually one of their better players during that lost season, and he took far more criticism than he deserved.
He re-signed again, this time for just $850,000 (or $1 million less than the aforementioned Cora). 2010 was admittedly a down year for Tatis, who found himself in Jerry Manuel’s doghouse, who limited him to a mere 72 plate appearances this season. Still, his 59 OPS+ is higher than Cora’s 58*.
*Can you tell I don’t care that much for Cora as a player?
When all was said and done, he was worth 3.3 WAR (according to Baseball Reference) for the Mets, not a bad return for the roughly $3 million they spent on him. By comparison, Cora has been worth -1.6 WAR. I’ll say it again: Tatis was worth almost five wins more than Cora. Think about that the next time you want to run him down. His career with the Mets may not be over, but if it is, this fan will remember him as a useful bench player acquired for a reasonable price. Tatis may not have helped them reach the playoffs, but he wasn’t the reason why they missed them either. I thank him for his service and wish him nothing but the best in the future.
That said, it’s time to watch the return of Carlos Beltran. The rest of the season starts today, and hopefully Beltran’s return key’s a successful road trip. Let’s Go Mets!
Posted in Carlos Beltran, Jeff Francoeur, Mets | Tagged: Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran, Felipe Lopez, Fernando Tatis, Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes, Mets, San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum | 3 Comments »
Posted by JD on April 17, 2010
Last night, Felipe Lopez (hmmm, where have I heard that name before?) came to the plate with the bases loaded. Jerry Manuel reacted by bringing in Raul Valdes to force Lopez to hit from the right side. I suppose this was because something in Jerry’s game preparation indicated that Lopez is a weaker hitter from the right side. I suppose you could say he is: a look at his career splits shows that he has a 98 OPS+ from the right side, which is significantly weaker than the 101 OPS+ he’s posted from the other side of the plate. Never mind that he has three times as many at-bats from the left side (or that his home run rate is almost exactly the same from both sides), bring in your situational lefty! And sure enough, after messing around for a few pitches, Lopez deposited a hanging curve in the visitor’s bullpen in left field.
Here’s my pointless question: why isn’t Jerry using Francisco Rodriguez in that situation? He foolishly lifted Oliver Perez (who just had his best start since 2008 and had only thrown 97 pitches) and watched Fernando Nieve (who made his seventh appearance in only ten games) load the bases. Is there going to be a more important moment in the rest of the game? Why are mess around with Raul Valdes when K-Rod is available? Wouldn’t you rather lose the game with your bullpen ace rather than your fifth best reliever?
Ryota Igarashi would also have been a better choice than Valdes, but my point is this: there was no bigger spot in the game than that bases loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh. Perez had just made the last out of the inning: the pitcher’s spot wasn’t due up again for eight batters. K-Rod could’ve thrown more than one inning, and the Mets might have one the game instead.
If you’re going to be unconventional, do it large. Don’t take halfway measures like throwing an untested 19 year-old or unknown 31-year old lefty out there. Go all the way: use your closer in high leverage* situations! Sure, K-Rod isn’t comfortable unless he’s starting an inning, but this team can’t afford the luxury of comfort. Manage like you have no tomorrow Jerry, because it’s only a matter of time before you don’t.
*This is as good an example as you’ll ever get. Take a look at the Win Probability Chart on Baseball Reference’s game page. See that giant cliff? That’s the Holliday walk followed by the Lopez home run. Now look at the top 5 plays. See the wWE column? That’s the Winning Team Win Expectancy after any given play. Basically, the Lopez grand slam left the Mets with a 6% of winning the game. And Raul Valdes was given the responsibility instead of K-Rod?
Posted in Jerry Manuel, Mets | Tagged: Felipe Lopez, Fernando Nieve, Francisco Rodriguez, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Raul Valdes | 4 Comments »
Posted by JD on February 23, 2010
In a recent post I campaigned for the Mets to sign Felipe Lopez to compete with Alex Cora and Luis Castillo despite knowing that, based on their history, it will never happen. To the best of my knowledge, the Mets rarely cut their losses. The concept of “sunk costs” has just never registered with them and it’s not about to start with Cora ($2 million in 2010) or Castillo ($6 million in 2010 and 2011). And while that frustrates me to no end, today I was lucky enough to be given a dose of reality in the form of Rob Neyer’s post on how the A’s are handling Eric Chavez (I applaud his usage of italics and bold print – very creative!).
Now that, my friends, is a sunk cost. But what Mr. Neyer didn’t mention (and didn’t really have to) is how poorly Chavez played in 2009. Granted, it was only eight games, but Chavez racked up a -30 OPS+ (100 equals league average). I didn’t even know it was possible to have a negative OPS+ so I’m not entirely confident in my next statement, but it sure looks like the A’s paid $11.5 million to a player who was 130% below league average. Ouch.
One situation has nothing to do with the other, especially when you factor in the size of their respective markets. But the fact the fans of a franchise that employs Mr. Moneyball have to deal with an albatross contract of their own at least softens the blow. For what it’s worth.
Posted in Luis Castillo | Tagged: Alex Cora, Billy Beane, Eric Chavez, Felipe Lopez, Luis Castillo, Rob Neyer | Leave a Comment »
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: Alex Cora, Felipe Lopez, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Mets, Omar Minaya | 3 Comments »