GEE I Wonder Why COLON Remains in the Rotation

The Mets lost to the Cardinals again. Going into the second half of the season, the conversation has been about the Mets’ great rotation. Truth be told, this rotation has three pitchers pitching like aces right now, an improving Niese, and a failing Colon.

I don’t know how many people realize just how bad Colon has been this year. He has a 4.86 ERA. That’s terrible. Seriously, why is he in the rotation?  Is it because he eats up innings?  Well not exactly. His last five games here are his innings pitched total: 4.1, 6.0, 7.0, 6.0, and 4.1. Is it for his entertainment value?


I doubt it. Is it because with the Matz injury, there are no better options?  The only other realistic option right now is Dillon Gee, who is 0-3 with a 5.90 ERA. I think we need a take a deeper look into Gee.

Most of the damage came from his last two starts; starts he made after being jerked around by the Mets. He came off the DL and had a bad start. Then he gets sent to the bullpen and only gets one appearance for 1.2 innings giving up one run. Then out of nowhere the Mets decide he needs to make a spot start, and it was horrendous.

After spending time in limbo after being outrighted, he had a rough start in Las Vegas. When you look at Gee’s numbers, you have to keep in mind the PCL is about a hitter friendly league as it gets. Despite the struggles, he seems to have found himself and turned things around. Here are the numbers from his last few starts: 7.0 innings 2 ER; 6.0 innings 4 ER; 6.1 innings 1 ER.  The numbers aren’t amazing. Rather these are the numbers of a capable major league pitcher. For those watching the game Saturday, did Colon look like that?

Despite the Mets mismanagement of Gee, he’s improving. Colon is getting worse. It seems like the Mets want more for the $11 million going to Colon than the $5.3 million going to Gee. These penny wise pound foolish decisions are hurting a team with no margin of error. The sooner the Mets admit Colon is done, the sooner they can help themselves.

Bargain Basement Shopping

According to Marc Carig of Newsday, it seems like the Mets will not go for the available top shelf outfielders, but rather seek out Will Venable or Gerardo Parra. Similar to Carlos Gomez and Justin Upton, their contracts expire at the end of the year.

However, unlike Upton and Gomez, Venable and Parra will most likely not receive a qualifying offer. This is very important because of the prospect price. Besides being better players, Upton and Gomez have a higher price tag because if the Padres and Brewers respectively offer them a qualifying offer, then the team that signs them forfeits their first round draft pick (second round for 10 worst teams in baseball). Therefore, if you want Upton or Gomez, you need to offer first round talent for a trade to even make sense. First round talent is equivalent to Matz, Conforto, Thor, and pretty much every player you don’t want the Mets to trade.

So that leaves us to decide whether Venable or Parra is the  better player. For my money, I’d rather have Parra. First and foremost, he’s got a great glove. I know the Mets need offense, but with Lagares’ problems on offense and his injury, the Mets could use Parra to play left or center. I know Venable plays center for the Padres, but that is more akin to the Mets playing Cedeno and Burnitz in center in 2003, i.e. poor roster construction rather than capability.

On top of the offense, Parra rates as a better bat. Parra has a triple slash line of .311/.345/.502 to Venable’s .258/.328/.408. I know Miller Park is a hitter’s park and Petco is a pitcher’s park, but Parra leads in OPS+ (130 to 108). For comparison, the Mets best offensive weapon this season, let alone outfielder is Granderson with .247/.344/.429 (OPS+ of 115).

So if the Mets make a move, Parra would be the prudent move. However, even if the Mets get him for a reasonable price, that still leaves holes at SS, LOOGY, and the bench. That’s why I again reiterate, there are too many moves that need to be made now. It is better to sit pat and maybe wait to see what is there in August.

Day Game or Night Game?

Sometime before the season, the Mets polled fans to see if they prefer Saturday games to be in the day (1:00 start) or the night (7:10 start). I think my feelings on the subject have changed.

In my opinion, I prefer day games. You can get to the game early and have lunch while taking in batting practice.  After the game, you leave and still be home in time for dinner.  However, when I’m home watching, which is most of the time, I prefer a night game.

If the game is on during the day, I just can’t watch it. I’d rather play with my son or take him out somewhere fun. As most parents will tell you, the weekends go from relaxing to always being on the go. If I’m lucky, I can listen to the game on the radio with all the craziness.

If the game is at night, I can wind down from the day and watch the beginning of the game with my son as he falls asleep. It wasn’t until last night that it occurred to me that it could be the Mets offense and not tiredness that puts him to sleep. But I digress, I prefer night games now, and I’m sure I’ll change my mind a million Times as he grows up.

It’s Deja Vu . . . All Over Again

Thor had a terrific start, but he couldn’t let Granderson’s keynote address hold up. I think we can all agree when a pitcher gives up 2 runs over 7 innings, you’re team should win the game. After Peralta’s HR, most Mets fans believed the game was over, and they were right. 

Even with the noise made in the ninth inning, the Mets really did nothing in this game offensively. This is the reason the Mets can’t make a move. There are just too many holes. If you patch one all that means is you’re going to sink slower. However, keep in mind you’re still going to sink. 

If the Mets are inevitably going to miss the postseason, trade or no trade, why not keep your assets for the offseason or for a mid-season trade next year? I’m not giving the front office a pass because this roster was too weak to start the season. Instead what I’m saying is don’t make a bigger mistake to cover-up the mistake made coming into the season. 

Mets Should Pursue Carlos Gomez, not Justin Upton

Personally, I do not believe the Mets are going to move. I know I’m in the minority, but I’m starting to think that may not be a bad move. With that said, IF they were to make a move my vote would be Carlos Gomez. 

My main interest in Gomez is he plays CF. We know of Cuddyer’s knee (and lack of production), but getting less play is Lagares’ offense and elbow. If Lagares goes down that means Kirk Nieuwenhuis from here on out. I know no one believes he’s going to repeat that three HR performance. Keep in mind SD came into the season with a CF problem, and Upton was never called upon to play center.

Also, Gomez makes less. This year he is earning $8 million compared to Upton’s $14.7 million. Obtaining Gomez would allow some payroll flexibility to go after another area of need like the bench or a LOOGY

Finally, Gomez and Upton are having similar years. Upton has an OPS+ of 113 to Gomez’s 110. However, Gomez is more versatile in the lineup. He can comfortably hit leadoff or in the middle of the order. He helps the Mets in all the ways they need help. 

I’m not sure why the Mets focus on Zobrist and his versatility when it’s Carlos Gomez’ versatility that they really need. 

Trivia

It’s funny how sometimes the simple and almost inane things become the most treasured parts of your youth.  For me, one of my favorite things growing up was sitting around Nana’s dinner table after Sunday dinner.  My uncles, along with my brother and I, would sit around and begin testing each other with baseball trivia questions until the time Nana had enough and would yell “NO MORE BASEBALL AT THE DINNER TABLE!”

It was at this dinner table, I learned about baseball’s history.  I learned the exploits of the greatest players in the form of trivia questions.  “When Babe Ruth hit 60 homeruns, whose record did he beat?”  His own.  “Who is the only player to win an MVP in both leagues?”  Frank Robinson.  “Who’s the only pitcher to win multiple Game 7s?”  Bob Gibson.  This would go on and on, and I loved every minute of it.

In a nod to these memories, I wanted to include a trivia question each week.  Rather than have a bunch of comments, posts, etc., I decided to use Sporcle.  I figured with the Mets playing the Cardinals, Keith Hernandez being named to the Mets Franchise Four, and the Mets fans clamoring for a trade, this week’s quiz seeks the players involved in the 1984 trade that brought Keith Hernandez to the Mets.  Good luck!


ARAMIS RAMIREZ?!?!?!

I’m sure most have heard from now that Jerry Crasnick’s “bold” prediction is the Mets will obtain Aramis Ramirez. My first question is what will the Brewers give the Mets in exchange for taking on Ramirez?

All kidding aside, this move is akin to the Ben Zobrist rumors. It’s just a name who’s aging and is not producing to his usual standards. Ramirez’s triple slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) is .234/.279/.414 in a hitter’s park. These numbers wouldn’t have been good in Citi Field before they took down the Great Wall of Flushing. Also, he only plays 3B meaning he’s not really a good bench option. 

Again, I’d rather have Daniel Murphy. Murphy is getting better and is just beginning to rake like his old self. Plus, I can trust Murphy to play in a New York pennant race. 

Trouble with Making a Good Baseball Movie

There was absolutely no baseball on TV last night, and no I don’t count minor league games.  I’m not a scout.  So with no baseball, I decided to watch a movie on the MLB Network about a crusty old scout called:

  
Now as you can see above, this movie should be in the wheelhouse for this blog because it’s the story of a parent and child through the prism of baseball. Or was it a rom com between Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake?  Possibly, it was a repudiation of Moneyball. All I know was it committed the biggest baseball movie sin. 

They talked about trading draft picks. Seriously?  Everyone goes nuts you can’t trade draft picks in baseball, yet somehow this fact eludes everyone involved with the movie. Also, Amy Adams mentions offhand that the curveball is Randy Johnson’s best pitch. I don’t know when Hollywood will figure out that baseball fans go to baseball movies. If you make a movie for them get the basic stuff right. If you don’t, they don’t go to the movie. 

I really can’t get into any of the movie because I want you to continue to read this blog, and I don’t think an in depth analysis of this movie will bring you back. Needless to say baseball not only saved the parent-child relationship, it also saved Amy Adams from herself. If only the remote wasn’t out of reach, I could’ve been saved from this movie. 

Ben Zobrist?

Ben Zobrist has a well earned reputation as a versitale high OBP player. He’s a player that both statisticians and traditionalist love. If he was added to the Mets right now, he’d have the 5th highest WAR (as per Baseball Reference) on the team behind Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores (in that order). 

Zobrist’s 0.5 WAR puts him ahead of the players he could potentially replace: Daniel Murphy (0.1 WAR), Ruben Tejada (0.2 WAR), and Michael Cuddyer (0.2 WAR). In a vacuum, you could say he’s better go get him. However, I’m not interested. He’s not THAT much better than the aforementioned players, and he’ll cost something in terms of prospects. 

With respect to SS, the Mets rightfully believed Zobrist wasn’t an everyday SS. Over the last five years, he’s only played the position in 99 games with none of those games coming this year. The Mets need a SS upgrade, but it’s not Zobrist. 

With respect to 3B, I would rather have Murphy. I may be biased, but as the BABIP has indicated, Murphy has had some tough luck on top of injury problems that are in the rear view mirror. He’s been hitting much better of late. I also keep in mind Murphy has the ability to play in NY. Remember the unnecessary paternity leave controversy early last season?  It lead to Murphy’s first All Star selection. On top of that, Murphy has shown the ability to hit in a pennant race when the Mets were collapsing yet again (2008). 

As for Cuddyer, he hadn’t produced anywhere where he’s capable, and he has a balky knee. We all know it, but I highly doubt the Mets are interested in putting their prize offseason acquisition to the bench. Zobrist would be an upgrade, but that brings me to my next point:

We have to give up prospects to get him. If the Mets were the only team going after him, Zobrist may be available for a reasonable price. Right now, the Mets, Nationals, Giants, and Yankees are in on Zobrist. That means it’ll cost you, especially when the Mets are competing with the Nationals and Giants for a playoff spot. Sandy would be wise to drive up the price and move on to more affordable players having better years. 

Strat-O-Matic or: How I Learned to Start Questioning and Accept Sabermetrics

The 1980’s were a simpler time. The internet was not widespread for personal use. Bill Cosby was still a beloved American icon. There was no interleague play and only four divisions. When you got the leadoff man on, you bunted him over and gave your 3 and 4 hitters a chance to knock in the run.  It is now 2015 and how we view everything has changed.

When I was a little kid, I remember my Dad opening my eyes to the world of Strat-O-Matic. There was a baseball board game you could play! You could set your own lineup and let the game unfold before your very eyes. I remember the first time I set my lineup I thought I came up with a revolutionary idea that would shock the baseball world . . . I batted the pitcher second! My reasoning was simple. If when the leadoff batter gets on, you want to bunt him over to second. Well, the pitcher is the one guy in the lineup who seemingly bunted all of the time. It made perfect sense to me. My Dad heard my rationale and then explained to me how this was incredibly stupid . . . as only a father can. From that point forward, I know I stopped accepting how baseball was played and really thought about what the team should really do in a particular situation. I began to believe managers should stop being robots and really, truly think about the strategy.

Now, I know, as I assume most do, that bunting the runner over is mostly bad baseball. Sure, there are times when it is a good idea (pitcher at the plate and less than two outs), but overall, the percentages say let the batter swing away. To the older generation, this was the idea of a crazy manager called Earl Weaver. A man so crazy that his teams averaged 94.3 wins a year (highest all time) and was enshrined in Cooperstown. Still to this day, there are people who do not believe this is good baseball. They bemoan how Sabermetrics have changed the way the game is played and how it is no longer being played the “right way.”

Personally, I truly believe Sabermetrics are a tool for evaluating the game for the front office and managers. I think it can also serve to allow fans to develop a deeper understanding of the game. While admittedly I don’t always see how some stats are useful or how they were contrived, it doesn’t bother me. My sole care when watching a baseball game is seeing the Mets win. If Sabermetrics help that, then bring it on.

Overall, I am baffled as to why Sabermetrics or advanced statistics in general bother people. I think it has been great for the sport. Not only has it created more baseball fans (which is always a good thing), but it has really enlivened debate on managerial moves (which is a great thing). Now I can use stats like BABIP to say to my Dad or brother, Daniel Murphy has had some hard luck this year, and I think he may be poised for a better second half. We can sit there and argue about what the Mets should do in a particular situation, including, but not limited to whether the Mets should bunt. This brings me to the biggest debate my family has to this day:

Randolph called for Cliff Floyd to pinch-hit for Heilman rather than, say, Anderson Hernandez, who could have bunted. Floyd, thanks to injury, was also taking just his third at-bat of the series.

WAINWRIGHT: “Looking back, I’m still a little surprised they didn’t bunt. But they’re at home, they’re trying to win the game. They don’t want to go into extra innings there. They’ve got a rookie closer on the mound.”

RANDOLPH: “What went into it is my supreme confidence in Cliff Floyd. He had been swinging the bat well for us. He’s one of our biggest hitters all year. You have that bullet on the bench. I just felt good about using it then. I just felt at the time that Cliff was going to hit a line drive in the gap somewhere and give us a chance to win the ballgame.”

BRADFORD: “I think it was with Cliff Floyd up, I’m thinking, Cliff’s gonna do something big here.”

WAINWRIGHT: “I knew he was in the game for one purpose only. He was trying to end it right there.”

http://nypost.com/2011/10/30/look-back-at-the-mets-nlcs-loss-to-cardinals-with-those-who-were-there/

For my money, Willie Randolph made the right call. The reason? It’s the last inning of the NLCS with a chance to go to the World Series, and you’re going to give away an out? I know runners will be on 2nd and 3rd, but you need them both to score just to force extra innings. Think about it this way, would you rather Cliff Floyd at the plate or Anderson Hernandez. Hint, even a hobbled Cliff Floyd could hit for some power; meanwhile Anderson Hernandez just couldn’t hit at all.

Let’s say you bring in Anderson Hernandez and he lays down a successful sacrifice. Even if Reyes still hits that liner to Edmonds, that means it’s 3-2 Cardinals with two outs and a runner on second. Those odds aren’t the best even with a rookie closer on the mound. Keep in mind that rookie was so overwhelmed by the moment he dropped that curveball on Carlos Beltran.  Yes, I know it didn’t work out for the Mets in 2006, but we also don’t know if bunting would have worked either. Keep in mind that just because something doesn’t work out the way you wanted, it doesn’t mean you did the wrong thing. I’m sure that’s something every parent and baseball fan out there can understand.