Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Raul Valdes’

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 »

Better Late Than Never

Posted by JD on June 4, 2010

Gary Matthews, Jr. was finally designated for assignment today (Omir Santos was called up to replace him). I was never a fan of this move (even though Brian Stokes was pretty bad for the Angels, it never made sense to me to give up an asset AND pay GMJ $1.8 million), so I’m glad to see Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel admit it wasn’t working and release him.

It’s another “better late than never” move from Minaya and Manuel (I couldn’t tell you who deserves more blame, so I’m applying it evenly). It took them too long to cut Mike Jacobs, too long to cut Frank Catalanotto, too long to remove Oliver Perez from the rotation, and far too long to cut GMJ. Now that it’s done, we can turn our attention to the bullpen, where it’s taking them too long to realize that Perez is a sunk cost, too long to realize that Fernando Nieve and Raul Valdes are shockingly mediocre, and far, far, FAR, FAR too long to realize that the bullpen is retarding Jenrry Mejia’s development.

So sure, it’s good to see them improve the 25th spot on the roster (I’m assuming that Santos is only here temporarily and that Jesus Feliciano will be taking his place shortly…and yes, I know what happens when you assume). But how long are we going to have to wait to see them improve the 24th, 23rd, 22nd, and 21st spots? Clearly, there’s still a long way to go.

Posted in Jerry Manuel, Mets, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Game Recap: Dickey Delivers

Posted by JD on May 25, 2010

R.A. Dickey brought his knuckleball to the mound, and it was the first time the Phillies faced knuckleballers in consecutive games since 1983, when they saw Joe and Phil Niekro. The Mets took advantage and had a (relatively) easy time of it. Here are a couple of notes from today’s game:

  • R.A. Dickey gave the Mets exactly what they needed tonight, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven Phillies, but he allowed seven hits, walked three, and worked out of three bases-loaded jams in the top of the second and third. With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the second, Dickey induced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz into a 1-2-3 double play (I love the 1-2-3 DP: I think it looks awesome on a scorecard). However, he walked Juan Castro to reload the bases before getting Jamie Moyer to strike out to end the inning. Then, in the top of the third, he loaded the bases again before getting Raul Ibanez to line out to Jose Reyes to end that threat. Dickey even survived getting drilled on his left (non-pitching) elbow by a Ryan Howard liner. He played with fire but he didn’t get burned, and the Mets got a quality start from their new knuckleballer.
  • Jamie Moyer also allowed seven hits and only walked two Mets, but he didn’t fare nearly as well as Dickey. Jose Reyes led off the game by grounding one “past a diving Polanco”, advanced to second on a Castillo bunt, stole third, and scored on a hard groundout to short from Jason Bay. It was a classic “Reyes run” and the Mets never looked back (Reyes also had an RBI triple in the top of the ninth).
  • Even though Bay’s streak of reaching base ended at eight consecutive plate appearances, his hard hit grounder was enough to score Reyes. He’s still locked in at the plate and producing.
  • Speaking of producing, Jeff Francoeur had three consecutive productive plate appearances. He missed some very hittable pitches in his first at bat but reached out and pulled an outside change-up to left to knock in the Mets’ second run in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the fourth, he hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score David Wright. He then lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored the Mets’ fifth run on a pinch-hit single from The Animal, Chris Carter. Frenchy is still a below-average hitter, but hopefully tonight’s performance will get him started again.
  • Raul Valdes relieved Dickey in the top of the seventh. He struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and induced Jayson Werth to ground out to Wright. He walked Castro with two outs in the top of the eighth but quickly retired pinch hitter Ben Francisco, then hit a two out, RBI double over Werth’s head in the top of the ninth. He would stay in to finish off the Phightin’s in the top of the ninth, giving the rest of the bullpen an extra day off.
  • The Mets scored three consecutive two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth off of ex-Met Nelson Figueroa, highlighted by Valdes’ double and Reyes’ triple. It was a great relief to see them add to their lead: it’s been awhile since they’ve had nice easy win.

It was a nice, easy win, but tomorrow is another day. Your starters will be Joe Blanton for the Phillies and Hisanori Takahashi for the Mets. Hopefully the Mets will keep the pedal to the medal and pick up some more ground in the NL East. Let’s go Mets!

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pointless Question

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: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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