Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for September, 2010

Wright’s Times on Base

Posted by JD on September 27, 2010

Earlier this year, David Wright passed Mike Piazza for second on the Mets’ all-time leader-board for runs batted in. It got some play in the local media and among some fans: the only player higher on the list is Daryl Strawberry (with 733 RBI). That’s great and all, but Wright actually set a more significant franchise record: he passed Strawberry for the lead in times on base, with 1,656.

It doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things: 1,656 times on base is good for 614th all-time, right behind Jack Smith (1,657) and just ahead of Rupert Jones (1,649). Sorting by age tells a better story: Wright’s 1,656 times on base is good for 49th among players in their age 27 season. For the record, that’s two times on base more than Derek Jeter had through the same number of seasons (to be fair, Wright’s played in 61 more games than Jeter). Changing gears slightly, Wright’s career 135 OPS+ ties him with Hanley Ramirez and Carl Yastremski for players in their age 27 (or younger) season.

David Wright has certainly struggled these past two seasons. The increase in strike-outs, the fluctuating power numbers, and his inconsistent defense are all red-flags. But his career numbers suggest that while the Mets may be presented with appealing trade offers should they choose to shop him, they better think long and hard before pulling the trigger: it’s not easy to replace his level of talent.

Posted in David Wright, Mets, Mike Piazza | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Citi’s Dimensions

Posted by JD on September 26, 2010

I was out of pocket the past few days and missed the drama in Philly, what with Chase Utley’s slide (didn’t see it, so I won’t pass judgment), Carlos Beltran’s reaction (and his homers from both sides of the plate), and the Mets taking a series from the Phillies. Sure, there’s not much drama left in this season for the Mets. But it’s always nice to see them beat the Phillies, even if it doesn’t mean much in the bigger picture.

I did happen to catch Adam Rubin’s post about the dimensions of Citi Field. In the latest installment of what has become a recurring debate, the Mets announced last week that they are not planning to make changes to Citi Field’s outfield walls. Personally, I think that’s for the best.

While I understand the frustration of Mets fans who’ve seen their share of long fly balls die in outfielder’s gloves (or bounce off the wall for a double), the expected pitching staff for 2011 can probably use all the help it can get. Right now we’re looking at Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and a couple of question marks in the rotation (I can’t bring myself to believe that Johan Santana will be ready for Opening Day, and he’ll need some time to find himself once he returns to health). Add in some degree of change in the bullpen, whether it’s a new closer (they’re going to try to shed Francisco Rodriguez), a new lefty reliever (Pedro Feliciano is not a lock to return), or general turnover, and there will be plenty of uncertainty on the 2011 staff. The deep outfield will be a great help for the staff, and tinkering with it now doesn’t seem to help their chances to succeed.

Home runs are exciting and are a tremendous boost to any offense, but they can just as easily crush a team that surrenders too many. Maybe the increased run production will offset any additional runs allowed, but at this point I don’t think the percentages favor it enough for the Mets to risk making any changes. They have to address plenty of variables as they prepare they’re 2011 roster: there’s no need to add another to the list.

Posted in Citi Field, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Felipe Lopez, Revisted

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: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Philly’s Phinest

Posted by JD on September 20, 2010

Matt Diaz, a bizarrely attired Phillie fan’s worst nightmare. Ish.

Stay classy, Philadelphia.

UPDATE: I got sloppy and failed to credit @JLB1031 for tweeting the video linked above, and @ZachKleinWSB for originally posting it. Sorry about that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

What’s the Rush?

Posted by JD on September 20, 2010

Carlos Beltran’s days on the Mets are numbered: whether it be an off-season trade (Ken Davidoff thinks there may be a market for him), a deadline deal in July, or simply letting his contract expire, Beltran will not be here in 2012. The player/team relationship has deteriorated to the point that a divorce seems inevitable. As much as it pains me to believe it, believing anything else is indulging in fantasy at this point.

Personally, I think the third option makes the most sense. An injured Beltran is better than most major league outfielders even if he insists on playing center field (which he probably will). Trading him at the deadline makes a good bit of sense, too. Sure, it’s a a gamble: he could get hurt again. But it would give him a few months to rebuild his trade value while giving the Mets their best chance to win in 2010. All that being said, I’m almost positive they’ll rush into it and trade Beltran this winter.

I’m hedging my bets: there’s every chance that whoever gets the GM job will realize that it’s better to hold on to Beltran rather than dumping him. But, given the way the Mets have operated over the past three seasons, the new GM may be pressured to move Beltran as soon as possible. It’s the least palatable option, but that’s no reason to say it won’t happen.

Davidoff lists the Cardinals and Red Sox as potential trade partners. I took a look at their roster commitments on Cot’s Baseball Contracts and saw a couple of possible trades that I think highlight the position that the Mets will be dealing from this off-season. Setting the table, Beltran will earn $18.5 million next year, $5.5 of which will be deferred for an unspecified period of time at 1.72% compounded interest. This is a key (if under-reported) figure: it means that Beltran will actually make “just” $13 million next season.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms of Bobby Bonilla’s contract by now. On July 1, he’ll begin receiving annual payments of $1.19 million from the Mets until 2036. Beltran has a similar arrangement, the main difference being that we don’t know how the future payments are structured. Let’s set aside the deferred $5.5 million from 2008, 2009, and 2010 for now (I’d love to say that they’ve $16.5 million stashed in a safe investment, but for some reason I doubt it). That leaves the $5.5 million from 2011, the key to which is the payment’s due date:  the further out it is, the less that has to be invested today (here’s a primer on the time value of money). If it’s one year, the payment is worth about $5.4 million today. Ten years lowers the number to $4.64 million, 20 lowers it to $3.91 million, 25 lowers it to $3.59 million. We don’t know when the payments will be due, but we know that less than $5.5 million has to be set aside to cover it today. It’s a safe bet that the Mets would be willing to front whatever that number is, given that they can make up the difference in more profitable investments and that interest rates will surely go up (after all, the Great Recession is over). Wait, what?

Cheap shots aside, let’s use $13 million as a guideline: there are players on the Cardinals and Red Sox that come close to matching Beltran’s contract. On the Cardinals, Kyle Lohse is due to make $11.875 million in 2011 and 2012. He’s been mediocre (to be kind, he was injured this season) since signing his current contract and has a full no-trade clause. The Red Sox offer a similar option: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is due to make $10 million in 2011 and 2012. Dice-K has been less mediocre than Lohse (while pitching in the much more difficult AL East) but also has a full no-trade clause. Given the uncertainty in the Mets’ rotation next year, they might attempt to convince Lohse or Matsuzaka to waive their no-trade clauses (and, in the process, probably spend more money to do so).

There are undoubtedly more alternatives available should the Mets choose to get creative, but I think these two scenarios nicely highlight market conditions: they’ll have to acquire less talented players with longer contracts or pay the receiving team even more money to obtain higher quality players or prospects. The alternative is to hold on to Beltran long enough to regenerate his trade value (and reap the benefits of having him healthy and productive). This fan thinks it’s a no-brainer to keep Beltran, but I won’t put my money on that happening.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »