Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for July, 2009

Mea Culpa, Delgado

Posted by JD on July 27, 2009

I got a painful lesson this afternoon. The big story of the day was Omar Minaya’s contentious press conference, in which he revealed that he felt that Adam Rubin of the Daily News had an agenda in reporting his on the recently fired Tony Bernazard. I’m still struggling to come to grips with the fact that Minaya acted so unprofessionally. That doesn’t excuse the fact that I acted unprofessionally, too.

In referring to a comment made by Carlos Delgado, I interpreted it as evidence that Delgado actively contributed to last season’s firing of Willie Randolph by willfully performing poorly on the field. My first faux pas was trying to link Delgado to Bernazard, implying that Delgado was actively supporting Bernazard’s agenda. Many thanks to the tweeps that corrected me (@samtpage, @metsgrrl, and of course, @firejerrymanuel). There is a preponderance of printed evidence (some from Rubin himself) that indicates that Delgado actively dislikes Bernazard and it totally blows my half-assed theory out of the water. I wish I could take it back, however, any Google search of @Section518 will forever link me to it. I’ll just have to live with that.

More egregious was my implication that Delgado dogged it. It’s well documented that Delgado is a professional athlete who takes pride in his performance. No professional needs to hear that he’s willfully underperforming to get another professional fired. It would be one thing if I could prove it, but I can’t. I ran my mouth inappropriately.

Twitter is a great forum. It allows us to communicate on any number of things. It shouldn’t be used to denigrate others with half-assed theories and unresearched accusations. There’s no way I should have used it to run Delgado down like that, and that’s my true regret.

I’ve mentioned that I don’t get paid for this blog (and after today, why should I?). That being said, I like to think that I can hold the same standards as real journalists. There was no call for what I tweeted. I deeply regret attacking Delgado and I’m sorry for it. All I can offer is that it won’t happen again.

Posted in Mets | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s My 10 Year Anniversary with the Mets…

Posted by metgirl4ever on July 13, 2009

An anniversary is a moment to reflect on a current or past relationship.

My love affair with the Mets had an innocent start my sophomore year in college. I watched the last few innings of a Mets/Braves game to keep me distracted while on the stair stepper. The Mets ended up losing the game and having a “collapse” during the final week of the 1998 season. However, my fascination with baseball had begun.

Enter the 1999 season where I officially labeled myself a Mets fan. The 25-man roster is scotch-taped to the concrete walls of my dorm room. I’ve purchased my first Mets hat from the mall and anxiously await the few games that are actually televised in Tennessee. My hopes are high that this is “our season” to win the World Series. The climax of the season takes place at my best friend’s house. With my neglected research papers sprawled on the living room floor in front of the big screen TV, I spend the next 5 hours and 46 minutes watching the best baseball game of my life. I don’t remember eating during the game, but I remember screaming my head off and jumping off the floor when Robin Ventura hit that grand slam single. Best…Game…Ever!

The 2000 season had us actually going to a Subway Series World Series. When I moved last month, I found a VHS tape where I had recorded the Mets playing in the World Series. We know how it ended, but at least that “other” New York team has not won a ring since then.

Fast forward a few years. Skip the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Fast forward to this season and hit pause – it’s time for the All-Star Break.

Gone are the rose colored glasses from the beginning of our relationship and in their place are my regular day-to-day Fashionista glasses. I spend more time on the “darknova” side than the “lightnova” side. I yell more at the tv and constantly fight the urge to throw something. There have been nights and weeks where my stomach is in knots and I cannot sleep. Most relationships end when one person causes another such mental stress and anguish. Yet, I continue to collect items from trips to NYC, the MLB store, and Avon (yes Avon!). I still pay to watch all the games via MLB Extra Innings. Once the bond is formed, it lasts a lifetime. You have to take the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For the record, a 10th anniversary gift should be diamond jewelry or blue sapphire studded jewelry.

Sounds like the Mets owe me a World Series ring this year.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Posted in Mets | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Five Fun Facts: Jeff Francoeur

Posted by JD on July 11, 2009

The Ryan ChurchJeff Francoeur trade was a pretty bad one. As there’s already been plenty of discussion on it, I just want to throw out a few tidbits about the Mets’ new right fielder:

1. Francoeur currently has a 68 OPS+. He’s currently tied for 7th worst among qualifiers. I’d list some of the players with a better OPS+ but why bother? Just know that Ryan Church has an 88 OPS+.

2. Francoeur won the Gold Glove in 2007. That’s nice and I’m sure it looks great in his trophy case, but it’s 2009. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is currently 0.6 (via the fine folks at FanGraphs Baseball). That means he saves about a 0.6 runs per game more than a league average right fielder. Of course, Ryan Church’s UZR is 2.8.

3. In his four year career, Francoeur has played 162 games twice. He’s pretty proud of that fact, listing it second on the Career Highlights section of his blog. For the record, the other three Braves to do it are Dale Murphy, Andruw Jones, and former Met Felix Millan.

4. Francoeur has actually lowered his strike out totals in each of his last three seasons, going from 132 to 129 to 111. He’s currently on pace to finish with 96. So, we got that going for us. Which is nice.

5. Via, two of his most comparable players are Butch Huskey and Mark Carreon. Well then.

And so it goes. I really don’t understand this trade. The Braves had been shopping Francoeur since Spring Training with Kansas City and Florida being mentioned most prominently. With that in mind and the statistics listed above, I have to say the Braves “won” this trade. Why did the Mets decide to help a division rival? I doubt we’ll know the full answer for some time, so I have to infer that Jerry Manuel really wanted to dump Church. I’m going to put this trade in the “negatives” column of my Manuel evaluation until proven otherwise.

Posted in Mets, Trades | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

He’s Baaaack!

Posted by JD on July 4, 2009

That’s right, Oliver Perez is on his way back to the Mets. Reports filtered in from all of the beat writers: Ollie will take Tim Redding’s place in the rotation on Wednesday.

The bandwagon’s been up on blocks in the garage. Now it’s ready to roll and I’m ready to drive it, but I have no idea where we’re going. Ollie has become such an unknown quantity that no one knows what to expect. But let’s start here: Ollie’s an upgrade over Tim Redding, who’s failed to record a quality start in three of his last four outings. The one quality start was a win against St. Louis, but that’s balanced by his putrid outing against the Pirates last Thursday. Redding was starting to get exposed as a starter and will benefit from moving to the bullpen.

Redding’s move to the bullpen will likely come at the expense of Elmer Dessens, who is the likely candidate to be designated for assignment. Outside of one disasterous outing against the Yankees (3 hits, 2 home runs in 1.1 innings pitched), Dessens hasn’t been that bad: only one hit allowed over 6.2 innings pitched. But that’s deceptive, too. At this point, Dessens is better suited to mop-up duty. Redding is a better pitcher and will add depth that Dessens can’t.

So, Ollie’s return actually improves the rotation and the bullpen. That’s a good start. If he can put together a solid five or six innings against Manny and the Dodgers on Wednesday, that’d be another strong step forward. It’s all about “baby-steps” with Ollie. “Baby-steps” to the rotation, “baby-steps” to a solid start, “baby-steps” to consecutive solid starts. I still believe, and I’m firing up the bandwagon. Should be an interesting ride, to say the least.

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The Alex Rios Debate

Posted by JD on July 3, 2009

The Mets’ current struggles with an injury-depleted lineup have fueled trade talk among the fans, one of my personal favorite activities. I love wondering whether this pitcher or that batter is available, speculating on the price tag, and concocting mock lineups featuring the targets of the day. It makes me feel more engaged with the team and leads to some interesting discussions with fellow fans.

One such target is Alex Rios, the Toronto Blue Jays’ right fielder. I first saw Rios proposed as a trade target on Matthew Cerrone makes a logical argument that he might be available and says that Rios reminds him of a younger Carlos Beltran. I see it, too. He’s played center field, has a nice arm, and runs the bases well. He carries himself similarly, too. Not a squeaky wheel, Rios strikes me as a quiet performer who just goes out there everyday and plays hard. He’s definitely someone worth researching further.

Rios currently has a .736 OPS and an OPS+ of 93 (100 is considered league average). Not stellar, but an upgrade over Ryan Church, Gary Sheffield, Fernando Martinez, and Jeremy Reed, right? Uhmm, not really. Church checks in at .740/97 and Sheffield at .906/139 (How did we get this guy for the Major League minimum? But, I digress…). Rios blows away Martinez (.523/39) and Reed (.659/76), but not Fernando Tatis, who checks in at .734/95. That’s right, Alex Rios is comparable to our very own Fernando Tatis!*

*Rios’ power numbers are better, but he has roughly twice as many plate appearances as Tatis (351 to 175). IMHO, the similarity is stunning. Damning, even.

Let’s dig a little deeper.  Rios had a career year in 2007 at the age of 26, hitting 24 homers, collecting 85 RBI and scoring 114 runs on his way to a 122 OPS+. As players tend to reach their primes at the age of 27, it seemed that Rios was setting the stage for a good run. However, he regressed slightly the next year to 17 homers, 79 RBI, and 91 runs (111 OPS+). Admittedly, this is a small sample size, but it indicates that he’s hitting a plateau. His OPS+ has declined from 122 to 111 and his current production indicates it will drop again this season, all during his prime years. Not a good sign.

Acquiring him for a reasonable price would strengthen the lineup a bit and send a positive message to the players (and fans). Cerrone speculates that the Jays would likely give Rios away and I’m inclined to agree: a Dillon Gee-type prospect might get it done. But don’t forget his contract. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Rios is owed $5.9 million this season. By comparison, Church makes $2.8 million, Tatis $1.7 million, and Sheffield $400k. We’re about halfway through the season, so let’s cut those contracts in half. That means Rios is owed $2.95, while Church ($1.9), Tatis ($850k), and Sheffield ($200k) combine to equal that. Three players who each have a higher OPS+ than Rios have a combined salary that equals his? That’s just not a reasonable use of the Mets’ budget.

But wait, there’s more! Rios’ contract climbs to $9.7 million next season. Assuming (and yes, I know what you make when you “assume”) that Rios is a league-average outfielder next season, do the Mets want to lock him in for $9.7 million? Potential free agents include Jason Bay, Carl Crawford (team option), Jermaine Dye, Matt Holliday, and Vlad Guerrero (not to mention everybody’s favorite 2B, Orlando Hudson), and there’s always the possibility that other names will become available via trade. Is acquiring Rios now worth losing the flexibility to acquire these other players?

In my eyes, Rios’ contract has a poison-pill feel to it. It escalates to $12 milli0n in 2011 and 2012 and $12.5 million in 2013 and 2014, with a team option for $13.5 million in 2015 ($1 million buyout). Would it prevent the Mets from adding a premier players in the future? Not necessarily, but is it worth the risk? I’d say no.

To be fair, you can’t ignore the fact that Rios has been playing in the best division of the better league. A trade to the National League might boost his stats or he might be revitalized by the change in scenery and repeat his earlier successes. He’s only 28; it’s not like he’s ready for retirement. But I’d argue that the money and years involved make it a gamble not worth taking. In my opinion, it’s not worth trading prospects and future flexibility for Alex Rios.

Posted in Mets, Trades | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »