Trivia Friday

With another year of postseason awards handed out, the closest the Mets came to winning an Award was Terry Collins, who finished third in the Manager of the Year voting. Can you name the Mets who were the first to win a postseason award?  Good luck!

Rangers Know How to Go After a Championship

When my son was first born, I began watching hockey with him. Between the Olympics and the Rangers Stanley Cup run, it was pure magic. I enjoyed every minute of it. 

Last year was tough. The Rangers won the President’s Trophy in what looked like a Stanley Cup or bust season. I still remember that fateful Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. However, what I remember wasn’t the frustrating loss. It was my son’s fever. I remember spending that entire game trying to bring the fever down. I wasn’t able to accomplish it until sometime after midnight. It was a long, hard night. Normally after a loss like that, I’m up all night. That morning I was able to put my head down and go to sleep. The next day was a whole other story, especially with my son’s fever having gone away. 

Since that time, my son has been much more interested in baseball just like his daddy. Just like in 2014, he and I enjoyed a magical run that fell just short. I think I took it harder than he did both times. 

Tonight, the Rangers take on the Lightning again. The Rangers can’t exact revenge tonight. No, it’s just a reminder of how close the Rangers were last year. They seem to know and so far has responded by jumping out of the gate with a 14-2-2 record. The team may have its faults, but it is primed for another run to the Stanley Cup. 

With the Mets season over, I’m back in full time. The Rangers are yet again a good team that’s enjoyable to watch. However, I’m not sure I can take a third straight year of one of my teams falling just short of winning a championship. 

Just like in 1994, New York needs a championship. You’re the best team in New York, and you have the playoff experience to deliver one. It’s time the Rangers get King Henrik a proper crown.

Lets Go Rangers! 

Editors Note: apologies to the Islanders fans who read this blog. I promise the Rangers will not be a regular feature. It was more of a reaction to the irritation surrounding the Mets offseason. 

Verrett Shows Importance of Rule 5 Draft

Tomorrow is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to your 40 man roster. If they are not added, another team may select that player and add them to their 40 man roster. To keep that player, the new team must keep the new player in the majors all year. If not, that player must be offered back. 

That was the odyssey of Logan Verrett last year. He started out as a Rule 5 pick of the Baltimore Orioles, and his rights would subsequently be picked up by the Texas Rangers. He struggled in his limited time with Texas going 0-1 in four appearances with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP. With the Mets needing relief help at the time, the Mets took him back when he was offered. 

It was the best thing that happened to both him and the Mets. Verrett made 10 relief appearances with the Mets. In those appearances, he had a 2.20 ERA and a 0.674 WHIP. Overall, as a reliever, he had a 3.55 ERA and a 1.060 WHIP. Batters were only able to hit .198/.205/.352. This makes him a good reliever, who is all the more valuable when everyone else is out of reach

He has increased value because he’s an effective spot starter. When he was making spot starts giving the starters test before the postseason, he went 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.030 WHIP. Batters only hit .208/.291/.338 against him. He was extremely valuable as a Met last year. He came back at the right time. 

So for every Brad Emaus, there’s a Verrett who is able to contribute. It sometimes shows the best way to help your roster is to properly value what you have in house. That doesn’t mean you thrust players like Dilson Herrera out there before they’re ready. It means you properly value and protect your assets

Verrett has deserved consideration for the major league roster in 2016. He’s also showed the players that got you there last year also deserve to be kept around to make another run next year. 

Our Wor$t Nightmare

MLB Trade Rumors updated where the Mets are this offseason. Unsurprisingly, the prognosis isn’t good. Despite the overtures that increased attendance will mean increased payroll, it appears the Mets won’t make good on that promise. 

In the post, it discussed how the Msts appear unwilling to make the type of contract it would take to sign the following players:

  1. Ben Zobrist
  2. Daniel Murphy
  3. Ruben Tejada; and 
  4. Darren O’Day

The Mets just came off of an NL Pennant. There’s more money.  There are holes in this roster. Instead of filling the holes, the Mets are creating new ones. It’s making an already frustrating offseason even more so. 

If the Mets choose not to spend any money on these players, who are they going to pursue?  Jason Heyward?  Not likely. Instead the Mets will turn to the likes of Dilson HerreraMatt Reynolds, and whatever other cheap players they could acquire. This is what the Mets seem to believe is the appropriate course. 

By not negotiating with Murphy inseason, the Mets have put themselves in the predicament of having to overpay for a player. They didn’t mind it last year with Michael Cuddyer. However, now it’s a problem with Murphy and Tejada. It’s a problem with two players that helped bring you to the postseason and the World Series. I’m still perplexed this team isn’t going to spend to try to bring this team right back to the World Series.

I guess that just means all Mets fans are Charlie Brown and the Mets are like Lucy. They give us hope and taking it away laughing. We’re just flat on our backs looking like idiots. 

Tejada Shows Sandy’s Weakness

Since Sandy Alderson has become the Mets General Manager, he has shown two weaknesses: (1) building a bench; and (2) building a bullpen. 

The main reason for the bench issue is he doesn’t value what he has. A few years ago, he non-tendered a quality bench player in Justin Turner. Now, it appears the Mets will make the same mistake again with Ruben Tejada. The reason?  Well essentially it boils down to the possibility Tejada may receive a raise in arbitration of about $1.2 million meaning he would earn around $3 million next year. 

It’s penny wise, pound foolish.  Tejada has his flaws, but he’s a capable bench piece. He can play a reasonable shortstop for one to two games at a clip. His bat isn’t awful. If his broken leg proves to be too much, the Mets could cut him before the season begins and only owe him 30-45 days worth of salary. 

Remember, Mets fans were told that if we came out to the ballpark, the team would spend. Mets fans came to the park in 2015. Ticket prices are going up in 2016. There really isn’t a better option than Tejada in the trade market. Is this team really going to let $1 million stand in the way of building a credible major league bench?  

The Mets should think about it this way. They paid John Mayberry, Jr. $1.45 million to hit .164/.227/.318 in 59 games. Wouldn’t the Mets be better served by giving Tejada that money to hit .261/.338/.350 in 116 games. Isn’t it better to keep Tejada around if he can’t be a free agent until 2018?  Are we really to believe this money is what is going to stand between the Mets getting that one key player?  

If $1 million stands in the way of anything, this team isn’t serious about adding payroll or competing. Yet again, they will not be serious about building a competent major league bench. This just exposes Sandy’s biggest weakness. It’s not just the ability to build a bench. 

It’s the payroll given to him year in and year out to build a contender. 

The Murphy Redemption

With Adam Rubin’s latest report, I have newfound faith the Mets can re-sign Daniel Murphy. I had began the process of letting him go, even if I was still holding out hope

The news that the Mets will at least make a competitive offer perked me up a bit. I began to think if there’s anyone who would turn down more money, it’s Murphy. I think it even if it’s not true. I need Red to come over here and snap me out of it. I wish he’d come and say something along the lines of:

You shouldn’t be doing this to yourself. This is just some pipe dream. Murphy’s value is way up here and the Mets budget is way down there . . . and that’s the way it is. 

However, the closest thing I have is Marc Carig. He’s a very good reporter, but he’s no Red:

However, I go back to thinking about Shawshank. I think of all the garbage Murphy went through in his time with the Mets. The moving him around the field. The focus on what he didn’t do well rather than all the positive attributes he brought to the table. In the end, Murphy went through all of that, and he came out clean on the other side. From also ran to the 2015 NLCS MVP. 

All season long, I was never quite sure what that Italian man was singing about during the seventh inning stretch. I don’t want to know as somethings are best left unsaid.  I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful like Murphy’s swing. The balls off his bat soaring higher and farther than anyone in Citi Field dares to dream. It’s like each ball hit brought you closer to a World Series. In those brief moments, you believed. 

Ultimately, I still think he leaves. I think he goes on to better and brighter things to a team that wants and respects him more. It makes me sad. I’ll have to remind myself he deserves better. He deserves the money he’ll receive on the free agent market. Still, Citi Field and the Mets won’t be as entertaining when he’s gone. 

All I have is hope right now that he’ll stay. Hope that we will both be at Citi Field on Opening Day wearing our Mets caps. That’s the funny thing about hope:

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best if things, and no good thing ever dies. 

BBWAA’s Responsibility in Hall of Fame Voting

There has been a recent push by the BBWAA to expand the amount of players that can be voted for in any particular ballot. 

On the surface, the request is extremely reasonable. They want to eliminate limits or increase the limit on the number of players you can vote for in any ballot. It’s a great argument. If there are 15 players who are truly Hall of Fame worthy, you should be able to vote for 15 players. However, there is a subtext to the request:

The voters really voicing this opinion want the PED guys to go into the Hall of Fame. That’s their prerogative. They have a vote and can do with it as they please. Other voters who disagree can do the same. Looking over last year’s voting, the highest percent of the vote amongst confirmed steroids users went to Roger Clemens with 37.5% of the vote. It seems the overall electorate has spoken on how the PED guys should be treated. 

So the 37.5% are really left with a choice. Do you continue to vote for players like Clemens, or do you vote for someone else. Admittedly, it’s not an easy decision. You’re stuck between voting for someone you seem worthy or voting for someone who you deem deserving but may not be as good. For example, do you vote for Clemens or Curt Schilling?  Schilling had 39.2% of the vote last year. 

The question is how each voter views their job. Is it their job to vote for the 10 best players (assuming there are 10 worthy candidates), or is it their job to elect worthy players into the Hall of Fame? This is probably the first time this has been an either/or proposition. In their history, members of the BBWAA have voted both ways. 

There are voters who write-in the name of Pete Rose each year. Why?  There is no way Rose can be elected. Even if Rose received a write-in vote on 75% of the ballots, he’d still be ineligible. This is nothing more than taking a stand on principle. 

On the flip side, we see voters who vote for players they once deemed not Hall of Fame worthy. Jim Rice went from 29.8% of the vote in his first year to 76.4% in his last year of eligibility. Unlike Bert Blyleven, Rice didn’t have a new statistical approach to the sport to support him. No, it was a separation from his poor relationship with voters as well as superlatives thrown his way like his being a feared hitter. 

The person who finished third the year Rice was elected was Andre Dawson with 67.0% of the vote. The next year he was elected with 77.9% in his ninth year of eligibility. The top vote getter not elected was the aforementioned Blyleven with 74.2% of the vote. Behind him was Roberto Alomar with 73.7% of the vote. They would both be elected the next year. It was Blyleven’s 14th year on the ballot and Alomar’s second. 

You see the pattern. In fact, anyone who has received over 64.8% of the vote on any year has eventually been elected to the Hall of Fame. Eventually, the voters tend to coalesce around a candidate to get them elected regardless of their prior thought process. 

Going back to Clemens and Schilling, for whom should a voter cast their vote?  If the idea is to elect candidates who are worthy and can actually be elected, you vote for Schilling. If you follow the Hall of Fame voting patterns, you vote for Schilling. Regardless of how you feel about PED users, is it worth it to block Schilling’s path to the Hall of Fame so you can enter a vote for Clemens?

If you think both are worthy, what purpose does it serve to not vote for Schilling?  If you’re complaining there isn’t enough spots, you need to vote for the most electable candidates. If you aren’t, you are effectively acting as a voter who makes a distinction between first ballot Hall of Famers and non-First Ballot Hall of Famers. Effectively, you are saying Schilling belongs in, but only after Clemens makes the Hall of Fame. 

If you think someone belongs in the Hall of Fame and they have not been linked to PEDs, you must vote for them. This isn’t limited to Schilling. It incorporates anyone who is on the ballot whether it be Mike Mussina or Mike Piazza. Really, it incorporates anyone you deem Hall of Fane worthy. If there are any spots left, then vote for the Clemenses of the world. 

Not voting for Schilling means you subscribe to a tier system in the Hall of Fame; a tier system that does not exist. It has to stop. 

Sign Stephen Drew

In 2013, the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew to a one year deal. In that year, Drew presumably built up his value in a year the Red Sox won the World Series. The Red Sox and Drew at least thought so. The Red Sox offered him a Qualifying Offer, and Drew rejected it. His career has never been the same.

Drew just kept on waiting for a deal commensurate with his perceived value.  He waited and waited and waited. He waited into the 2014 season. At that point the Red Sox knew no one was signing him, so they were not going to get draft pick compensation. They had injuries and a need for an infielder. They brought Drew back on a prorated portion of the Qualifying Offer. 

He wasn’t good, and he hadn’t been good since. In 2014, he hit .162/.237/.299 in 85 games. He was so poor the Red Sox had no problem trading him to a Yankee team still hoping to make the playoffs. In 2015, the Yankees brought him back to play second. He hit .201/.271/.381 in 131 games. If he’s been this bad, why should the Mets sign him?

For starters, he’s a left handed bat that can be plugged into the middle infield. For his career, Drew hits righties to the tune of .260/.329/.436. While he had a disappointing year last year, he did hit 17 home runs with 14 coming against righties. Only nine of the homers were at Yankee Stadium, so it’s not like he’s completely a creation of that bandbox. 

He’s also been a decent fielder. The last three years he’s recorded UZRs of 5.3, 3.0, and -0.6. In a full season at second last year, his UZR was -0.2. Basically, if he played for the 2015 Mets, he clearly would’ve been their best defensive middle infielder. 

No, I’m not expecting him to be an everyday player. He’s going to be 33 years old next year. His best baseball is behind him. At best, I think he’s a platoon player at either second or short. He allows Dilson Herrera extra time in the minors if needed. He’s an insurance policy against Ruben Tejada‘s injured leg. He’s also bound to come cheap. 

Honestly, I can’t imagine it would take more than a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training to obtain Drew. If that’s the case, it’s a no lose proposition.  If he’s terrible or the younger players are ready, cut him or send him to the minors as an insurance policy. If he’s good or the younger players aren’t ready, you have a player who can contribute next year. 

With the available free agents and the Mets budgetary constraints, these are the type of signings that will be most likely for the middle infield. 

This Offseason is Frustrating

The Mets have a lot of needs this offseason. The only thing everyone seems to know is the Mets aren’t going to spend money or re-sign their third place hitter, Daniel Murphy, or their clean-up hitterYoenis Cespedes

Here’s the thing. The only free agent who has signed a deal was Rich Hill. The only major trade was the Andrelton Simmons deal, and we know Simmoms wasn’t going to be traded to the Mets. With all the rumors flying around, one thing is for certain. Nothing has been decided yet. 

It’s an important offseason for the Mets. They were just in the World Series. If they want to return and/or win there’s work to do. The Mets also have to make good on some promises. They always said if fans came to the ballpark, they would have money to spend on payroll. Well, the Mets had a 19.5% increase in attendance. SNY ratings are up 60%. The Mets are increasing ticket prices. There should be more money to spend.  In fact, there is. There’s about $45 – $60 million extra revenue from 2015. 

No, that’s not what we’re hearing. We’re hearing free agents are costing too much. We’re reminded small market teams outspend them. The reason might be because the Wilpons and their entities have significant debt payments due. There’s supposedly more than $29 million due. If the Mets don’t do anything, that will be the story and deservedly so. 

Personally, I don’t think there is much out in the free agent market. I advocated letting Cespedes walk. However, there are realistic avenues to spend money. They can bring back Murphy. They can create a dominant bullpen. They could also start trying to extend their starting pitchers. There’s room to spend money. 

I’m frustrated with the Mets right now because they’ve done nothing, but then again, there’s been very little movement in the offseason.  It’s also frustrating not being able to vent about what most Mets fans feel is inevitable. We all assume the Mets won’t spend, but we can’t exactly call them out on something that hasn’t happened yet because the possibility remains they might.

All in all, it all just creates a very irritating and frustrating offseason. By the way, the offseason has only been a little over two weeks old. There’s the definite possibility it’s going to get worse. 

Revisionist’s History on Murphy/Turner

Before starting this post, I feel the need to re-state how much: (1) Daniel Murphy is one of my favorite all time Mets; (2) I think the Mets are better off re-signing him; and (3) I’ve defended him against unfair and untrue statements. If you don’t believe me, I’ve taught my son he’s the Mets second baseman

However, with Murphy now all but gone, I wonder if the Mets made the right decision keeping him over Justin Turner. To be fair, it wasn’t an either/or decision back in 2012 when the Mets non-tendered him. Furthermore, the Mets decided they would rather have Murphy as their everyday second baseman over Turner the prior year. 

Now, Murphy and Turner are the same age. It appeared as if Murphy was the better everyday player while Turner was able to admirably be a utility player. There was no room for either at third with David Wright. Also, back then it appeared as if Ike Davis would be the first baseman for years to come. We knew it wasn’t the right move to get rid of Turner. However, the question really is, should Turner have been playing over Murphy?

In 2011, Turner and Murphy basically played everyday due to injuries and the ineffectiveness of other options (see Brad Emaus). In 117 games, Turner hit .260/.334/.356. In 109 games, Murphy hit .320/.362/.448. Based upon those numbers, of course Murphy should’ve been the player the Mets wanted at second base. So yes, the Mets made the right decision there. 

In 2012 and 2013, the Mets had a chance to reassess. Murphy hit .291/.332/.403 and .286/.319/.415 respectively while playing every day. In part time duty. Turner would hit .269/.319/.392 and .280/.319/.385. Again, it appears the Mets made the right decision. 

So why now is there a question?  First, there is a service time issue. Murphy is now a free agent, who may well be priced out of the Mets market (if they were interested). Second, after waving the Mets, Turner has been better than Murphy. 

In Turner’s two years in Los Angeles, he’s hit .340/.404/.493 and .294/.370/.491.  His WAR has been 4.2 and 3.9. Conversely, Murphy has hit .289/.332/.493 and .281/.322/.449. His WAR has been 1.9 and 1.4 respectively. By either measure, Turner has been a better player. To make matters worse, Murphy is a free agent and Turner will not be one until 2017. 

The lesson here isn’t that the Mets let the better player walk. The lesson here is that the Mets did a poor job with player analysis. That lead to them cutting Turner loose. The Mets could’ve used him in 2015 with all of the injuries. He could’ve been a viable Murphy alternative for 2016.

Instead, he’s in Los Angeles, and we don’t know where Murphy will play next year. If Murphy isn’t re-signed, it may very well be another example of how the Mets don’t scout well internally and/or value their own players enough. 

The Mets better hope Murphy doesn’t make them look as bad as Turner has.  I think Murphy will.