Friday, November 07, 2003

Mets Prepare To Take Giant Step Forward 

I was reading the sports sections today, and among the numerous articles detailing the Mets hiring of two (soon to be three) front office super-scouts (good move) and their interest in free-agent closer Keith Foulke (bad move), I read the following in the New York Post:
In a signal of the new wave of baseball thinking, the Mets are looking to hire a statistical analyst to join their front office.

Several teams already employ a stats maven, most notably the Boston Red Sox with the legendary Bill James. The Toronto Blue Jays and, of course, the Oakland A's also utilize statistical-based analysis.

"We've gone through an extensive search process," Mets GM Jim Duquette said. "Our plan is to have a statistical analyst to come on and be a resource or a tool in our evaluating process."
This sounds like the kind of forward-thinking I would expect out of Sabermetrically-savvy teams like Oakland, Boston, and Toronto. But my New York Mets? Pinch me, I think I'm dreaming.

This same edition of the Post also reports that the Mets might be interested in acquiring Preston Wilson from Colorado. Why? Who the hell knows. Columnist Mark Hale suggests that the move "would make tremendous practical sense for the Mets, for a number of reasons". Firstly, it would allow the Mets to piss away large sums of money on a mediocre ballplayer (SEE: Mo Vaughn). Secondly, it would rid the Mets of their promising young players:
"...the Rockies would likely want several young position players (such as Victor Diaz or Ty Wigginton), and perhaps a young arm or two (think Grant Roberts or even Aaron Heilman)."
And we get to pick up the $20 mill left on his contract over the next two years? I believe it's safe to assume that Mark Hale will not be the third super-scout, nor will he be the Mets new statistical analyst. Peep these stats:

260/316/479 with 25bb/78k and 34 xbh (15hr) in 292ab

Yessir, those are Mr. Wilson's road stats from 2003. The only way the Mets make this deal is if Colorado takes all of Roger Cedeno's contract ($10 mill over two years), and they pick up $5 mill of Wilson's contract. This is a guy who didn't even put up an 800 OPS on the road last year, and we're going to give up prospects AND pay off his albatross contract? Fafafafafa.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Mets In Print 

The Mets made it official yesterday, formally naming Rick Peterson their new pitching coach/savior. He will be given carte blanche to do as he pleases with the Mets entire organizational approach to pitching. They also made several other coaching changes, "promoting" Matt Galante to assistant bench coach and bringing up AAA manager Bobby Floyd to be third base coach for the big club.

A few interesting notes from today's papers:

Jorge Arangure Jr. of the Bergen Record says: "[John] Franco pitched well after his return, compiling a 2.62 ERA in 34.1 innings."

John Franco gave little indication that he deserves a roster spot on any big league team. I give Johnny a ton of credit for coming back from T.J. surgery at his age, and he's really been a soldier for this team, weathering the "Worst Team Money Can Buy" clubs, as well as losing his job outright as Mets closer to Armando Benitez. However, for a team that is rebuilding and trying to get a good look at as many young ballplayers as possible, I just don't see Franco as a valuable asset to this club. We already have overpaid veteran middle-relievers (SEE: David Weathers, Mike Stanton). While Franco likely won't command much in salary ($1 mill tops), I feel that the roster spot could be better utilized by the likes of Tyler Yates and Orber Moreno.

Apparently, both the Mets and Yankees are interested in light-hitting, light-fielding Todd Walker. After arguing with my friend Mike, a Yankee fan, over who DIDN'T want Walker more, I tried my best to digest this news. Walker's agent Alan Meersand apparently acknowledges his client's defensive shortcomings, as quoted in today's Bergen Record:

"Don't you think his offense more than makes up for the fact he makes a few errors?"

Walker was on-par defensively with human wind-tunnel Alfonso Soriano, with very similar fielding percentages and range factors. I only make this comparison because Soriano is largely regarded as a terrible fielder, which he, in fact, is. Walker's agent went to far as to say that his client would be looking for a three-or-four-year deal as well as a raise over his 2003 salary of $3.45 mill. I'd say he was insane, except that Im sure at least one team would be willing to cough up that much. Plus, the other day I actually saw someone describe Walker as a "raker". I'm unfamiliar with Walker's landscaping prowess, but I am very familiar with his exploits at the plate. Take a look at these two lines:

283/333/428 with 48bb/54k and 55 xbh (13hr) in 587ab plus 1/2 sb (50%)
260/344/421 with 48bb/34k and 34 xbh (15hr) in 404ab plus 28/40 sb (70%)

The top line is Mr. Walker. The bottom line is Eric Young, though I used only his stats with Milwaukee last season (I left out his SanFran stats). Eric Young will be lucky to get a one-year deal worth $2 mill. Granted, he's 36 and Walker is only 30. I wouldn't sign either of them for the years OR money that Walker is looking for, but I'd sooner sign Young for one-year at $2 mill than Walker at anything near his asking price.

The headline in today's New York Post: METS TARGET CLOSER KOCH

I'm not a big fan of spending large sums of any commodity (money, prospects, prosthetic limbs etc.) on a "proven closer". However, it may make sense (as it always does) to borrow a page from Billy Beane's book. As I originally suggested for David Weathers, making someone the Mets dedicated closer for half or all of next season could pay big dividends. Just as Billy Beane has done with Jason Isringhausen and Billy Koch, and this year with Keith Foulke, one great year out of a closer can net either:

1) Prospects in a trade at the deadline
2) Draft pick compensation when the closer signs with another team

Foulke hasn't brought either of these things...yet. He may bring a high draft pick, or may even resign with the A's. Billy Koch brought Keith Foulke, and Izzy brought a couple of good draft picks. Koch has one year left on his contract at, gulp, $6.375 mill. He had a lousy year last season:

5.77 era, 1.64 whip, 53 ip, 7.13 k/9, 1.50 k/bb, 1.6 hr/9

The hr/9 is deplorable, but the k/9 rate is still good. He lost his closer job last year, and for good reason. However, he had a great year in 2002 with the A's under the guidance of Rick Peterson, and there's no reason to think he can't put up good numbers next year at Shea. The White Sox have understandably soured on him, and would probably give him up for nothing. I bet they could even be conned into taking Stormy Weathers' $3.6 mill off of our hands.

Last but certainly not least, Tom Glavine is trying to woo Kevin Millwood to the Mets. That Millwood is still considered a front-of-the-rotation starter is beyond me. Millwood is a #3 starter, and may even be a #2 on a crappy staff like the Mets'. To pay him #1 starter money ($60 mill over five years) would be almost as foolish as paying a 37-year-old $45 million over four years. Thanks, but no thanks Tommy. Stop doing us favors and just pitch.

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