The Boras Hatred Baffles Me

It didn’t start this year with the drama surrounding the Matt Harvey innings limits. Fans revile him. Why?

Maybe it’s a misunderstanding of his job. Boras has one singular job, and that job is to be a player’s agent. Typically, that means maximizing the amount of money his clients receive either in arbitration and/or free agency. It’s why he has one of the most valuable agencies in all of professional sports. It’s why he represents players like Matt Harvey. 

A corollary to his job is to protect his players when he thinks they need protecting. It’s why he started the issue over Harvey’s innings. People forget at that time, Harvey had pitched 171.2 innings, and had four remaining scheduled starts. If he made those starts, and threw six innings per starts, he would’ve finished with 195.2 innings. 

By stepping in, Boras and the Mets were able to create a plan which allowed Harvey to pitch in the postseason. As it turned out, Harvey still threw more innings than anyone has in the year after Tommy John surgery. Without Boras, we miss that incredible Harvey Game 5 start

Another note for Mets fans: he’s been skewering the Mets front office much in the same way the fans have. As Mets fans were angry over the lack of spending, it was Boras who mocked them stating they were shopping in the frozen food aisle. Basically, he said what every fan was thinking.  With the Mets winning the pennant, he gave credit where credit was due. 

Ultimately, Boras is great at what he does. It’s the reason why he gets clients like Harvey. If you were a baseball player, you’d most likely hire him. You and I are no different than any athlete. We just want to make as much money as possible. We want someone to protect our interests.  Boras does that. 

He protects his clients and makes sure they get paid. He calls out owners whose payroll isn’t commensurate with their market.  He doesn’t do anything to hurt the game. So why does everyone hate him?  I really don’t get it. 

Duda’s More Valuable than You Realize

After one uneven season and a poor throw in the World Series, Mets fans seem ready to move on from Lucas Duda. Some see it as an avenue to keep the very popular Daniel Murphy. Others just don’t seem to like him. 

While I tend to think this is overplayed, I wanted to do a Player A and Player B comparison. I used the last two years because those are the years Duda has been an everyday first baseman. Player A and Player B are both first baseman. They are both the same age. Both players are left-handed hitters. 

Player A

2014 – .196/.300/.404, OPS+ 96, WAR 1.8

2015 – .262/.361/.562, OPS+ 146, WAR 5.2

Player B

2014 – .253/.349/.481, OPS+ 137, WAR 3.6

2015 – .255/.352/.486, OPS+ 132, WAR 3.0

Which player would you rather have?  It’s certainly debatable.  

Well, Player A is Chris Davis, who is expected to receive a free agent contract in the area of 5 years $100 million or $20 million per season. 

As you guessed, Player B is Lucas Duda, who cannot be a free agent until 2018. Lucas Duda is projected to receive $6.8 million in arbitration.  Even if you picked Player A above, would you have paid him $13.2 million more a year?  Of course not, regardless of the Mets financial situation.

I already know the following arguments:

  1. I’m omitting Davis’ 2013 season; and 
  2. Davis has hit more homeruns over the last two years. 

That’s fine. I am. However, Davis gets to play half his games in Camden Yards over Citi Field. Last year, Davis hit .285/.376/.650 at home and .241/.348/.482 on the road. Davis’ road numbers look awfully similar to Duda’s .255/.352/.486 from last year.  This just shows that Lucas Duda is a very good baseball player. Mets fans should appreciate him. He’s got enormous value. 

Move Duda to Camden Yards and maybe he’s the guy getting a $100 million contract. 

Do You Move Wright Off Third?

Mark Simon had a thought provoking article about moving David Wright off of third base. 

His reasoning was sound. Wright’s defense has taken a noticeable step back. It played a part in costing the Mets two World Series games. While his throwing was never a string point, it’s gotten worse, and he throws more side armed now. Whether it’s his age or the stenosis, there may be a point in time when the Mets may have to move him off of third. 

I just don’t think first base is the best option. Spinal stenosis is exacerbated by the typical twisting and turning actions you see on a baseball field. The stretching and turning at first would only exacerbate Wright’s stenosis. It may limit him further. I don’t think first is an option. 

I’ve seen people suggest second. There’s no way I put him in the middle infield. Just remember what happened with Ruben Tejada. As a second baseman, Wright will have his back turned on many double play chances. I can’t put him in that position especially since he’s got limited mobility with his back. 

There’s no good option in the infield. It’s why you might look to moving him into the outfield. Wright still has some speed and athleticism to cover the ground. He has shown the ability to track fly balls well, even if it has been at third base. His arm might be a liability in left, but it may be at third as well. 

The Mets have a spot coming up in the outfield within the next few years. Curtis Granderson has two years left on his deal, and as good as he’s been, I can’t see the Mets re-signing him at 36 years old. From what we’ve seen so far from Michael Conforto, he should be able to handle RF. We don’t know what Brandon Nimmo or any other prospect will be. 

We do know Wright will be around for another five years. Maybe he can stay at third. Whatever the case may be, the Mets should explore the possibilities. 

Billy Wagner Was Awesome

Recently, the players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced. On that list is former Met, Billy Wagner, who is eligible for the first time. 

The question that naturally follows is if he’s a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, what happens next is some idiot starts minimizing what each player had accomplished, and/or questioning why the player appears on the ballot. There’s no need for that. To be eligible, a player has to be in the big leagues for 10 years, which is no small feat considering most of us never made it out of Little League. These players have earned the right to have their name there. Instead of telling us why they’re not Hall of Famers, their stories should be shared. 

Personally, I always marvel at Billy Wagner. Did you know he’s not even a lefty?  He’s a natural righty, but as a kid he learned to throw lefty because he broke his right arm twice. It’s a good thing too because inside that left arm was a fastball that could occasionally hit triple digits. He would make it to the Astros to become an elite All Star closer. 

For his career, Wagner amassed 422 saves. That ranks as sixth all time and second amongst left handed closers trailing only fellow former Met (and Astro) John Franco. He had a 2.31 ERA with a 0.998 WHIP and a 11.9 K/9. He was what you wanted with a closer. He came in and struck people out en route to wrapping up the game. He made it an eight inning game for his team. You can make a case for him going into the Hall of Fame with those numbers. 

As a Mets fan, I’m more interested in two things about Billy Wagner: 2006 and 2009. In 2006, Wagner came to the Mets and became part of an incredible bullpen. He saved 40 games. His year was so good he finished sixth in the Cy Young voting. He was a vital member of a team that won 97 games and won the NL East for the first time in 28 years. Unfortunately, it was his only fully healthy year with the Mets. He was unavailable due to injury in 2007 and 2008. We watched as a damaged bullpen and flawed team collapsed in those seasons. 

The worst of Wagner’s injuries would come in 2008. He would need Tommy John surgery. Most, myself included, thought this was the end of his Mets career. Instead, Wagner come back astonishingly fast from the surgery. After 11 months, he came back to a Mets team going nowhere. No one would’ve blamed him for easing off the throttle a bit. There wasn’t a need to rush back. However, it wasn’t the way Billy Wagner is wired. He came back to a well deserved standing ovation and recorded a 1-2-3 inning. 

He would be traded to Boston to finish out 2009. He would play one more year with the Braves before hanging them up. He left behind a career in which he was dominant. He can honestly say he gave it all on the field. He was a fierce competitor that brought integrity to the game. 

I’m not sure if he’s a Hall of Famer. What I do know is that he was a great player, and I’m glad he was a Met. Instead of taking time to denigrate his career, people should be writing his story. It’s a remarkable story about resiliency and competitiveness. He should be shown as an inspiration to children that you can overcome anything to be a big leaguer . . . even twice breaking your throwing arm. 

For all that, congratulations on a terrific career Billy Wagner. 

Mets Treat the Military Well

With free agency in the works, you already have heard people getting upset with the team for not doing anything before any offseason moves have been made. Today, I think we should put that aside and acknowledge something they do well. They are very respectful to our veterans. 

Each and every year, the Mets team makes a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center. They go and visit troops who have been injured protecting our country. These people sacrificed so we don’t need to. Visiting these soldiers in the hospital may not seem much, but it’s more than most people do. The Mets should be commended for organizing this. 

Also, the Mets honor our military with Military Mondays. No, I don’t mean the jerseys. Military members are admitted free and three people who go to the game with them receive discounted tickets. The Mets Team Store also offers veterans a discount on all merchandise purchased in the store. 

The Mets also honor veterans during the game giving them an incredible seat to a game and a flag that once hung over Citi Field. 

I hope one day my Dad gets this honor. 

Niese Will Be Important

By any measure, Jon Niese was a disappointment in 2015. Maybe it was having a new child. Those sleepless nights wreck havoc in everything you do. It may explain Niese being more ornery than usual. In any event, Niese should be back as the team’s fifth starter to at least start the year. 

For his career, Niese is 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.361 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/9. Righties have hit .274/.332/.444. Lefties have hit .266/.328/.400. Anyway you slice or dice it, he’s a fifth starter. That’s fine. They will need a fifth starter until June or July when Zack Wheeler should be ready to come back. 

That’s when Niese can move to the bullpen, which is a role he really excelled in during the postseason. He only got touched up in Game 2 of the World Series. He shouldn’t have pitched that night. Terry Collins unnecessarily used him for a second inning after pitching two innings the previous night. Even with that game, Niese had a 1.125 WHIP and a 10.1 K/9. 

It’s a small sample size for sure, but he’s proven he can excel in the bullpen. Depending on the state of the Mets bullpen, he can become a LOOGY, 7th or 8th inning guy, or the long man. The possibilities are endless. It’s an incredible weapon to have in the bullpen in August and September when playoff spots are on the line. 

Last year, Niese gave a glimpse into what he could be in 2016. He showed he will do what the team needs to win. I expect he will be even better in that role in 2016.

He will be an important player next year. 

Mets No Longer Need Colon

I’ll be completely honest with you. I’ve never understood the Mets fans love of Bartolo Colon. As a Met, he was 29-26 with a 4.13 ERA, and a 1.232 WHIP. His signature moments were he cartoonish at bats. There was a terrific defensive play, but where was the signature pitching performance?

The performances I remember are his two extra inning World Series performances. He got the loss in Game One. He allowed a big hit to put the clinching Game 5 out of reach. I really harbor no ill will towards Colon for these games. Personally, I think he was put in a position to fail both times. Additionally, to blame him is to fail to acknowledge what he was. 

Colon is nothing more than a fifth starter, a durable one at that. He took the ball every fifth day. Sometimes he was effective, other times he wasn’t. However, his time has passed as it normally does for 42 year old players. It’s time for Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler

He wants to pitch next year. He probably wants to catch and surpass Pedro Martinez fir most wins by a Dominican born pitcher. He’s just one away from tying. If he starts, he’ll have his best chance to do it. Also, he’s a starter, not a bullpen arm. There will be a team that wants him to start. Let him go there.  He no longer has a place with the Mets. 

He did a good job with the Mets. He’ll deserve the applause he will receive when he returns to Citi Field, although I suspect he will get much more than that. I may not understand all the fanfare he receives, but I do understand he did his job well with the Mets. 

Good luck at your next stop Colon. 

Working O’Day to Improve

With the Mets having limited money to spend, they seemingly have two options: (1) improve a strength; or (2) address a weakness. With the Mets have holes at both middle infield spots and centerfield, depending on your point of view, the Mets may be looking to improve a strength:

Without making a move, the Mets already have a good bullpen. Why improve it with all the other holes?  Why address the bullpen when the Mets are losing Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes?  The reason is you can’t bring back both. Therefore, no matter what happens you’re going to be playing in tight games next year. The best way to handle those games is with great pitching. 

The Mets have great starting pitching, but only a good bullpen. The addition of Darren O’Day would make the bullpen great. In six of the eight years he’s pitched, he has had an ERA of 2.28 and below. For his career, righties hit .193/.261/.279. Lefties hit him better to the tune of .235/.294/.409. As you would expect, lefties hit the submarining O’Day better than righties, but they don’t exactly hit him well. Furthermore, O’Day has been improving against them while he’s been in Baltimore:

  • 2014: .189/.264/.368
  • 2015: .210/.293/.333

O’Day has become a terrific set-up man. Combining him with Jeurys Familia would make every game a seven inning game with the Mets. With their starting pitcher, that’s a dangerous proposition for the Mets opponents. 

It may also be what the Mets need with what promises to be a diminished Mets offense. 

Mets Owe Johan a Shot

Despite last pitching for the Mets in 2012, Johan Santana is still trying to make a comeback. God bless him. 

Santana missed the entire 2011 season after shoulder surgery on his left arm to repair a torn anterior capsule. He came back in 2012, and he pitched well. Then on one magic night, This happened:

It’s a night that still haunts Terry Collins. He let a pitcher coming back from shoulder surgery throw 134 pitches. Collins was noticeably upset in his post game press conference. He feared what ended up happening. Santana’s career effectively ended that day. 

Santana would have a re-tear in the capsule requiring further surgery. He would miss the entire 2013 season, his last with the Mets. He tore his Achilles’ tendon while rehabbing the shoulder surgery costing him the 2014 season. Last year, he had a toe infection which prevented his latest comeback. He now wants another chance. 

The Mets can afford to give it to him. They are looking for lefties in the bullpen. All Santana will require is a minor league deal for the minimum with an invitation to Spring Training. Worst case scenario is he doesn’t have it, and you cut him. No harm, no foul. But if there is something, anything there, you could have a good reliever. A reliever who can handle New York, and who can be a mentor to the entire pitching staff.

The other reason to give it to him is the Mets owe him. It sounds funny because the Mets paid him $137.5 million. However, they pushed him to the limit in 2008 trying to make the playoffs. They pushed him past the limit to get the elusive no-hitter. We don’t know if these events lead to the shoulder surgeries. What we do know is Johan gave the Mets all he had. 

With Johan giving the Mets all he could, the Mets should at least offer him the least they could. If he doesn’t have it, it’s better coming from a friend that respects him and can thank him for his play with the Mets. If he does have it, Johan can go out on his own, and the Mets can strengthen their team. 

The Mets should bring back Johan. 

Just Get Heyward

From reports, the Mets have about $20 million to spend this offseason. The free agent market is a dud. The Mets seem to want a left handed bat for CF to replace Daniel Murphy even though the options aren’t really better than Juan Lagares

In addition, the Mets bullpen will look good regardless of whether the Mets add a reliever or not. Their rotation is set for years to come. The Mets seem comfortable with the Murphy alternatives at second base. They seemingly just want that left-handed bat to balance out the lineup. With that in mind, they should just go out there and use their full budget on the best available player: Jason Heyward

Heyward is a 25 year old outfielder who has yet to reach his prime. While he was with the Braves, he showed promise to be a power hitting outfielder hitting 27 homers in 2012. His numbers have not returned to that level. However, he’s been a productive hitter slashing .268/.353/.431 for his career and .293/.359/.439 last year. As he heads towards his prime, you can reasonably expect those numbers to improve. 

In addition to his solid, if unspectacular hitting, Heyward has a reputation for being a good defensive player. Unlike Gerardo Parra, Heyward’s numbers match his reputation. Heyward won a deserved Gold Glove in 2014. He’s deservingly a finalist for the award which will be announced tonight. Over the past four years, Heyward has posted a UZR over 20. That’s definitively Gold Glove caliber. 

The caveat is the Mets don’t need a RF, they want a left handed hitting CF. in his career, Heyward has been limited to just 32 games in CF. In those games, his UZR is 1.9. This would indicate he would be at least average in CF. However, truth be told 32 games is too small a sample size to rely upon for anything in baseball. Basically, it’s a gut decision. Can Heyward effectively handle CF for at least two years (Curtis Granderson has two years left on his deal)?

I believe he can (as do more reputable sources). I believe Heyward is a special player who just needs the right situation.  Terry Collins has been good nurturing talent. Kevin Long had been good helping hitters find their swing. The Mets have a good locker room in general. This may be the ideal situation for Heyward even if he’s not playing at his preferred position. 

He’s projected to receive about an 8 year $184 million contract. At the end of said contract, he would only be 33 years old. Translation: you’ve locked up a very good player for a reasonable price throughout his prime. You don’t have to pay for the down years like you typically do in a long term contract. 

If the Mets are truly serious about contending in 2016, this is the move to make. Get Heyward in here and watch him blossom into the star we all thought he was when he was first brought up by the Braves. It’s rare you get the opportunity that helps you win now and in the future. The Mets have to seize that opportunity even if he’s the only player the Mets sign this offseason. 

The Mets should sign Heyward.