Monthly Archives: August 2011

Said the Joker to the Thief, “There’s Too Much Confusion”

There are three things every good baseball fan should expect from their sabermetrically-inclined front office, should they be lucky (or perhaps unlucky) enough to have one:

The first is a lineup filled with good hitters, guys with good on-base percentages and good slugging percentages — a group that refrains from chasing bad pitches, sustains rallies, and generally scores a bunch of runs.

The second is for the front office to wheel and deal intelligently: Buy low, sell high, bluff, leave two islands untapped to keep the threat of counterspell present, spend wisely and save when necessary. That sort of stuff. Read This Post

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Sandy Alderson and . . .

It only took me three months and a hurricane to finally do this. If you find any I missed, send them along and I’ll add them:

Sandy Alderson and his staff
Sandy Alderson and his management team
Sandy Alderson and his front office team
Sandy Alderson and his deputies
Sandy Alderson and his contingent
Sandy Alderson and his brain trust
Sandy Alderson and his loyal foot soldiers
Sandy Alderson and his minions
Sandy Alderson and his number crunching cavalry
Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants
Sandy Alderson and his Fantasy Front Office
Sandy Alderson and his crew
Sandy Alderson and his associates
Sandy Alderson and his think tankers
Sandy Alderson and his superstar front office
Sandy Alderson and his “Moneyball” pals
Sandy Alderson and his regime
Sandy Alderson and his performance-based front office
Sandy Alderson and his government group
Sandy Alderson and his wingmen
Sandy Alderson and his All Star Band of front office folks
Sandy Alderson and his Dream Team Front office
Sandy Alderson and his whiz kids
Sandy Alderson and his gang
Sandy Alderson and his cohorts
Sandy Alderson and his Nerd Herd
Sandy Alderson and his pocket full of organizational wizards
Sandy Alderson and his cast of familiar faces
Sandy Alderson and his three assistants
Sandy Alderson and his Moneyball lieutenants
Sandy Alderson and his posse
Sandy Alderson and his A-Team of baseball acolytes
Sandy Alderson and his statistically savvy deputies
Sandy Alderson and his high profile front office
Sandy Alderson and his underlings
Sandy Alderson and his Merry Men
Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ braintrust
Sandy Alderson and the Metsecutives
Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ front office meanies
Sandy Alderson and the baseball ops team
Sandy Alderson and his chess club
Professor Alderson and his school for gifted sabermutants
Sandy Alderson and his Dream team of genuis lieutenants
Sandy Alderson and his right-hand men
Sandy Alderson and his band of vanguard evaluators
Sandy Alderson and his personally chosen top aides
Sandy Alderson & Co
Sandy Alderson and his ragtag crew of superannuated wunderkinden

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Things to Know about the Atlanta Braves

Chipper is easy to find, but that's Adam LaRoche in the back.

The Braves are back, making their final visit of the season – barring hurricane postponements – to Citi Field this weekend. Here are five things you might want to know about the Mets’ opponent: Continue reading

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Scooping at First

Bill James Online recently revamped their site. In the process, they’ve made certain articles available to non-subscribers, so even if you’re not forking over the $3 bucks a month or whatever it is, this little piece by John Dewan about first baseman scoops is visible to all. No Mets show up on the list — but then again, they haven’t had a consistent first baseman all year, so why would any — but Adrian Gonzalez is once again proven good at something baseball-related.

But if you’ve wondered how many runs a good first baseman saves by digging balls out of the dirt, it looks like the answer is about three runs in either direction.

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Newest Mostly Mets Podcast

Once again, the newest Mostly Mets Podcast featuring Ted Berg, Toby Hyde, and myself. We talk about possible September callups, next season’s outfield, Toby’s road trip to Florida and even address the David Wright-waivers-thing, among numerous topics. We’re on iTunes, which you can subscribe to here. And if you’d like to rate us, you can hop over there and do so as well.

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Hey, Remember This? From Saturday?

I understand the frustration with Angel Pagan this season. His defense and offense have both taken a step back, he hasn’t made anything close to an accurate throw in a month, and he’s good for a head-scratcher every few weeks. I get it. He’s the sort of player that causes jaws to drop, for good and bad, and things to be thrown at televisions.

But Angel Pagan also been one of the Mets better players this season despite all that. He’s about been a tick above average offensively (.265/.324/.388, seven home runs and 26 steals), and even with his questionable defense this season, he’s been a good defensive center fielder (+3.1 UZR) for his career. Just watch the video above. These kinds of players don’t grow on trees, nor do they grow in the dirt like potatoes and cabbage patch children, so any talk about non-tendering Pagan after the season is crazy. I’m obviously not the only person who thinks this, and we’ve talked about this on the Mostly Mets podcast, but it’s worth repeating again and again.

And, on top of all that, he’s one season removed from being the Mets’ best player and the 21st best among position players in all baseball.

Not that he hasn’t been amazing frustrating at times this season. He threw a live ball to the opposing first base coach — that actually happened. But Angel Pagan is a good player, a good player having a bad year. But he’s a good player, and the Mets should be gathering up good players, not letting them walk away over $2 million in arbitration.

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No, New York Times, Brian Schneider is Not the Reason

At first glance, Schneider’s numbers are pedestrian at best, anemic at worst. In 30 games, Schneider, who was on the disabled list with a strained hamstring in May, has a .179 batting average and .255 on-base percentage with two home runs and eight runs batted in. He has not hit a home run since April 21 and has not had a multiple-R.B.I. game since he knocked in two runs 12 days before that . . .

But on a team with potent bats at nearly every other position, Schneider’s struggles are more than compensated for. With expectations set at a World Series championship, victories are what matter in Philadelphia, and when Schneider is behind the plate the Phillies win at an incredible rate.

In his 26 starts this season, the Phillies are 23-3; 24-3 if you add their win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 27 in which Schneider entered the game in the first inning.

- Jorge Castillo, New York Times

As the article notes, Brian Schneider has often worked with Vance Worley this season, and he’s caught Kyle Kendrick a decent number of times as well. (Also Cliff Lee four times.) So for the most part, Bry-Schny hasn’t caught Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Lee all that much, yet the Phillies are 23-3 in Schneider’s starts anyway.

But that doesn’t have a lot to do with Brian Schneider.

If you look at the numbers, you can find a bit more evidence that favors Schneider’s abilities behind the plate beyond the team’s record. Phillies pitchers have a 3.19 ERA with regular catcher Carlos Ruiz this season, and a 2.70 ERA with Schneider — even though Ruiz has thrown out a higher percentage of runners (27% to 12%) and has a better fielding percentage (.997 to .995). The ERA difference isn’t coming from their fielding and throwing abilities — because Ruiz has clearly been the better at both — so maybe you can attribute some to Schneider’s abilities as a game caller. Which is what The Times does here, only way, way over the top. Not to pick on them or anything, but . . . come on.

If you look a little deeper at the numbers independent of the fielders, Phillies pitchers have performed significantly better with Ruiz than they have with Schneider. They have a 3.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio with Ruiz catching, 2.58 with Schneider. They give up 0.68 home runs per nine innings with Ruiz catching, and 0.73 home runs per nine innings with Schneider. If you work it out, the Phillies pitchers have a 2.77 FIP with Schneider, which is excellent . . . but 2.41 FIP with Ruiz, which is even better. And this is what you might expect, given that Ruiz catches the Phillies’ great pitchers and Schneider does a lot of work with Worley and Kendrick.

The biggest difference in Schneider’s favor this season is that opposing batters have batted .250 on balls in play when he’s catching, while they’ve batted .299 on balls in play with Ruiz behind the plate. How much of that credit goes to Schneider, and how much goes to randomness and balls finding gloves? I don’t know. Maybe some credit to Schneider. But that’s probably not enough to outweigh his offensive deficiencies. My guess is that the Phillies are a better team with Ruiz behind the plate than Schneider, and they seem to agree: Ruiz has gotten 88 starts this year, and Schneider 26. The Phillies are a great team for a number of reasons, but Brian Schneider is not particularly high the list of reasons why.

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Mets Pitching in the Second Half

The National League has a 3.85 ERA this season and a 3.93 ERA since the break. Ignoring that the Mets play in a pitcher’s park, just two of their pitchers, Manny Acosta and Tim Byrdak, have better-than-average ERAs since the break. Their 4.95 team ERA ranks dead last in the NL.

So it’s been bad. We’re at the point where Manny Acosta has a legitimate case as the Mets best pitcher in the second half. Manny Acosta, the guy who was walking almost a batter an inning in Buffalo earlier this season. Excluding him and Byrdak, no one has pitched well since the break, and only some have pitched better than awful.

To be fair, it’s not all on the pitchers. R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese both have excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers and neither has given up many home runs . . . but they both given up a ridiculous number of hits considering everything else. Some of that is on the Mets’ fielding, which has been dismal since the break. Fangraphs ranks the Mets last in UZR, their fielding metric, in August. Justin Turner’s range has clearly eroded with his injuries, and the loss of Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy and return of David Wright has hurt the Mets a tick defensively as well.

The thing is . . . in terms of getting to balls and turning them into outs, the Mets haven’t been much worse this season than last season (.706 defensive efficiency this year, .704 last year). It’s just that they’re really, really bad, maybe the worst team in the league, at just everything else you need to do to prevent runs from scoring: Their catchers don’t throw well, the pitchers don’t hold runners on, their infielders don’t turn double plays, and their outfielders have more errors than assists. There’s probably a 20-30 run difference between this season and last in the combination of those four things.

This doesn’t excuse the pitching, of course. Because that’s been awful to watch too. There isn’t a reliever on the team who makes me think, “Oh, good. He’ll stop this mess.” To figure out if a lead is safe, I do mental calculations to see if the number of runs the Mets are ahead is greater than the number of outs the bullpen needs to get. If it isn’t, then they’re going to give up the lead. Only four run leads are safe in the ninth, and seven run leads in the eighth.

The pitching and defense have both been pretty miserable, and the Mets have been terrible at preventing runs in the second half. And that, more than anything, is why they’re 14-22 since the break.

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Finding Nimmo

Toby talked with the Mets’ first pick of the 2011 draft, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, over the weekend down in Florida; you can see the video over at Mets Minor League Blog. And in general, might I recommend everything over there, as reading about the big league club has certainly become very depressing very quickly.

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Things to Know about the Philadelphia Phillies

The Mets open a three-game set against the Phillies in Philadelphia tonight. Here are five things you might or might now want to know about them: Continue reading

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