Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Tobi Stoner’

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 »

Oswalt Rumors and Draft Picks

Posted by JD on June 14, 2010

Two story lines broke today that were of interest to me, and neither were particularly encouraging. The first was related to Roy Oswalt: the New York Post reported a friend of his said that Oswalt “likes the veteran fiber of the Mets” and would accept a trade to Flushing.

Kudos to Oswalt’s buddy for that excellent quote, but no thank you. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel compelled to share with you my utter dislike for Roy Oswalt. It’s pretty straightforward: I don’t like Oswalt because of his grudge with Cliff Floyd. I distinctly remember my outrage when Oswalt plunked Floyd with first base open, after Floyd had hit a grand slam off of him in a previous game. It was petty and I’ve never let go it. My inner “irrational fan” wants nothing to do with that jerk.

My “rational fan” side is only slightly less disinterested. Oswalt is still an above-average starting pitcher who, in his prime, was dominant. The problem is that he’s owed a lot of money over the next two seasons, will probably require a contract extension to waive his no trade clause (“veteran fiber” be damned), and plays for an organization that will demand premium prospects in return.

Truthfully, it’s that last piece that is the biggest negative. I read a couple of stunning trade suggestions from Mets fans on Twitter today that alternatively had me laughing out loud or dropping my jaw in utter disbelief. I don’t want to single anyone out, so I’ll just tell you my parameters for a deal. If the Astros asked for Jon Niese straight up, I’d decline the trade. Jenrry Mejia straight up? No thanks. Wilmer Flores? Nope. Fernando Martinez? No way. Dillon Gee? I’d think about it. Any combination of the above? Please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

If the Astros are willing to eat a significant portion of Oswalt’s contract or accept Oliver Perez as part of a package, I’d think about upping the quality of prospect included in the deal. If not, I’d start with Tobi Stoner, Pat Misch, and a C quality prospect (or lower). If the Astros accept, great. If not, save those bullets for Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, or (if possible) Cliff Lee: their cost/benefit ratios are far more acceptable than Oswalt’s*.

*This may all be a moot point. While I was writing this, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk (hat tip to MetsBlog) reported that the Texas Rangers are working hard at acquiring Oswalt. According to Calcaterra, the Rangers and Astros have agreed on the players involved but are waiting for MLB’s approval on the contract side (the Rangers are in bankruptcy and MLB is floating their payroll until their recent sale is finalized). Stay tuned, as Buster Olney is tweeting that there’s “nothing to it”, but it looks like it may be out of the Mets hands anyway. Which is a good thing.

In other news, MetsBlog reported that the Mets had come to term with 25 draft picks, the highest of which was 4th round pick Cory “Son of Greg” Vaughn (for the full list of signees, click here). I’m all for getting the kids signed and playing as soon as possible, but I have mixed emotions about these quick signings.

I have no insight regarding the scouting and drafting process beyond what I read in the past 10 days or so and I’m not involved in the negotiations, so I can’t comment on what was demanded and what was offered. But the quick signings indicate that the Mets drafted these kids knowing that they wouldn’t try to break the bank. It’s possible that they’re the players Omar Minaya wanted, but available evidence indicates otherwise. If even one of these guys makes the majors, it won’t matter one bit, but as I mentioned here and here, that was the last thing I wanted to see. The amateur draft may be one of the bigger crapshoots in professional sports, but that’s no excuse for a franchise as wealthy as the Mets to intentionally handicap themselves like that.

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

The Rotation – My Two Cents

Posted by JD on May 16, 2010

Well, that just happened. The Marlins swept the Mets in a four game series at Dolphins Stadium and the rotation was torn apart in the process. Jon Niese injured himself fielding a bunt (@StevePopper tweeted the following during today’s game: Niese aggravated his right proximal hamstring. He will return to NY for further evaluation). John Maine imploded on Saturday, and Oliver Perez was Oliver Perez on Friday. For a such a mediocre club, the Mets sure seem to deal in extremes. Well, where do we go from here?

In the short term, let’s call up R.A. Dickey to start on Wednesday. The beat writers’ post-game tweets seemed to indicate that this is the most likely course of action, and I heartily endorse it. His 4.63 K/BB and 5.5 K/9 ratio are most likely unsustainable at the major league level, but what’s the harm in giving him a shot?

I understand the calls for Dillon Gee: he’s earned his shot, too. But there’s a bigger picture to consider. Win, lose, or draw, Dickey can take the long-man spot in the bullpen, which may come in handy if Hisanori Takahashi winds up taking Niese’s spot against the Yankees on Friday. H-Tak has been a life saver an inning-eater as the long man in the bullpen, and Dickey is far better suited to that role than Gee (or Oliver Perez, for that matter). Tobi Stoner is also on track for a Wednesday start and the Mets have already used his option for this season, so that’s on the table, too. His development is better served by getting a regular turn in the Buffalo rotation but then again, I’ve said that about Jenrry Mejia, so what do I know?

A patchwork quilt of Dickey and Takahashi will have to due because, unfortunately for us, the Wilpons’ irrational inability to understand the concept of sunk costs has irrevocably tied us to Oliver Perez. If the Mets can’t bring themselves to eat the $2 million owed to Gary Matthews, Jr., why should we expect them to take the necessary actions with Oliver Perez?

As soon as that $36 million contract was signed, Perez was ours until July of 2011, at the earliest. That contract a gamble from jump: either he would succeed (in which case, he would be well worth the $12 million a year) or he would go down in flames, rendering him virtually untradeable. It’s now clear that ownership won’t step up to to back the gamble: they’re simply incapable of admitting that it didn’t work out, cutting ties, and moving on.

Listen; I know I’ve been an Oliver Perez apologist. I’ve consistently argued that he might someday (somehow) achieve the consistency needed to harness his underlying talents (I like Ollie and, unlike most, I find his personality quirks endearing). But even I understand that he’s shown nothing to indicate that he can pull himself together. We’ve moved well past the point of hoping for a miraculous breakthrough: Oliver Perez must be removed from the major league roster, for his good, and the team’s.

Someone in the front office should be on the phone to Scott Boras’ offices right now. Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya, or John Ricco or some other suitable proxy should be pressing the super-agent to get Perez to admit that his best interests will be served by a stint in Buffalo. The Mets would be better off starting R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee, Tobi Stoner, or Pat Misch, and Perez would be best served by experiencing success of any kind. Perez will get paid either way, and perhaps Boras can be convinced that, at the very least, success in Buffalo can increase his trade value.

For all I know they’ve already tried it. If they have, they need to try it again. And again and again and again, until it works. If they won’t cut Perez, or trade him at a deep discount, their only hope is to get him to accept an assignment to Buffalo.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I doubt very much that Perez will accept assignment. And I doubt very much that the Mets will eat their loses on him, which means that we all need to get used to the fact that Ollie will be on the mound for the foreseeable future.

On a side note, the Mets’ starting pitchers have now gone 15 straight starts without a win, a feat that was last accomplished in 1982. The Mets visit the Braves tomorrow to start a three game series, and Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana are starting the first two games. It could get real ugly, real quick, if they can’t end the streak. At the very least, we might be talking about a new manager. Stay tuned: the next week is going to be interesting. To say the least.

Posted in Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Meltdown

Posted by JD on May 9, 2010

It was inevitable: all good things must come to an end, and the Mets’ ten game winning streak at Citi Field was no exception. Oliver Perez was largely to blame, walking seven Giants and hitting another over three and a third innings, digging the Mets into a four run hole before departing. The hitters rallied, thanks in no small part to some seriously incompetent fielding from Jose Uribe, but the bullpen was unable to hold the lead. And so it goes.

Unfortunately, Ollie is no stranger to disastrous outings: he’s had eight other starts where he’s walked seven or more batters*. Strangely enough, he’s won four of those games, which just goes to show how irrelevant a stat pitcher wins can be at times.

*If you’re wondering, and I know you are, his career high is eight walks. On May 23, 2008, Ollie walked eight Colorado Rockies in a 6-5 loss.

Today’s game is over and done with. John Maine will take the mound tomorrow against the Nationals, and we’ll go from there. Ollie will sit in the dugout and stew over his performance and hopefully he’ll have a better showing in his next start.

What’s that you say? We should listen to Bobby Ojeda and DFA Perez before he throws another pitch for the Mets? I understand your frustrations, but that’s not the right move.

Before we go any further, yes, I’m an Oliver Perez supporter. I’ve made no bones about it: just click on the “Oliver Perez” category on the left for all the evidence you could possibly want. I know I’m not an unbiased source, but you have to trust me on this: Bobby Ojeda is not right on this point.

I know, Ojeda is a former professional pitcher who’s experienced sustained success at the Major League level. He was a key cog on the ’86 Mets and arguably their best pitcher that season. What’s more, he experienced true adversity while with the Cleveland Indians (the tragic boating accident that killed Steve Olin and Tim Crews and almost claimed his life) and bounced back from it. He’s way more qualified than I am to assess left-handed pitchers.

Perez has shown little of the fortitude that Ojeda displayed throughout his career, and it must irk him to no end to watch a pitcher with Ollie’s talent squander it away through repeated failures to concentrate. I get it. I understand where he’s coming from. But there’s a reason why he’s on SNY instead of coaching pitchers somewhere in the Mets’ organization. It’s easy to say the Mets should cut Perez, but who, exactly, would Ojeda replace him with?

I like R.A. Dickey, Tobi Stoner, and Dillon Gee as much as the next guy. Heck, I even sponsor Dickey‘s and Stoner‘s Baseball Reference pages (and I’d sponsor Gee’s if I could). I think they’d be great short-term replacements, but I don’t think they’re ready for 20-plus starts for a Wild-Card contending team. Do you?

Jarrod Washburn and Pedro Martinez are the only viable free agent alternatives, but there’s no evidence that either would pitch for the Mets. Washburn has stated his preference to pitch for a team close to his Wisconsin home. Pedro has stated that he wants to pitch for a contender, but he strikes me as reluctant to return to the Mets*. Regardless of their intentions, neither Washburn nor Martinez is physically capable of taking Perez’ next turn in the rotation. They would need a few weeks in Port St. Lucie to pitch their way into game shape and by the time they’re ready, the whole exercise might be moot.

*And is it wise to bring him back? There’s a lot of history there, not all of it pleasant. I don’t have an answer and I’m open to trying it, but Pedro would bring his own set of unique issues.

The best answer might be to send Ollie down to Buffalo, skip his next turn in the rotation and use Stoner to take his place for a start of two after that. After all, a similar approach worked for Steve Trachsel once upon a time. Of course, Oliver Perez is an entirely different animal. Sending him down to Buffalo might stimulate and re-energize him, but it’s just as likely to demoralize him and ruin him once and for all. You run the risk of losing him entirely if you send him down to the farm.

You might be fed up enough to go that route and I can hardly blame you. Forget my inner fan for now (I’ve parked the bandwagon in the garage), but don’t forget this: one run through six and a third innings against the Cardinals and two runs through six innings against the Reds. Two quality starts in six outings (and one mediocre one against the Cubs). There’s a capable starter in there somewhere. Cutting ties with Perez may seem like the best option tonight, but keeping him (and dealing with days like today) is actually in the Mets’ best interests.

Posted in Mets, Oliver Perez | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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