Monthly Archives: January 2012

The 2014 Mets Power Rankings

So this post presents an idea for an on-going feature during the 2012 season: The 2014 Mets’ power rankings, a list of the most important players to the 2014 Mets. Not that we’re giving up on 2012 already, but . . . well, you know. The Mets certainly appear to be rebuilding biding their time this season. So let’s concentrate on the future by keeping track of the present. Thus, the 2014 power rankings, a weekly or every-other-weekly feature where we track the rising and falling stock of the 2014 Mets in the 2012 season.

For a player to be eligible for the 2014 Mets power rankings, he must be:

  • In the Mets’ organization
  • Under team control through at least 2014
  • . . . and that’s it

These rules mean that both major and minor league players are eligible for the rankings. For example: Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada are eligible, as are Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey; David Wright is not eligible, as his contract expires after 2013.

Which actually brings up the next point: These rankings are the 2014 power rankings, and not the 2012 or 2013 power rankings, because 2014 is when the Mets should solely be a team of Sandy Alderson’s design. As of today, they have no players under contract for 2014, and the team’s only payroll commitments are $8.5 million dollars in buyouts for Johan Santana and Jason Bay. That makes 2014 the target date in which we’re interested. If a player is on the 2014 Mets, it’s because Alderson wants him there.

Now, I have an idea for how the preliminary rankings should look, but I’m going to throw the vote out to the crowd first. There’s a poll at the bottom of this post, with the names of the 28 players. I’ve put the names in alphabetical order in an attempt to avoid swaying anyone’s votes, then added my own comments about the players in an attempt to sway your votes. But let’s see what y’all think: Read through, or don’t read through, and then vote for the five players you think will the most important for the 2014 Mets at the bottom. And please remember that pitchers get hurt: Continue reading

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Link: Mets Promos from the Past

Quick link while I work on other things: Matthew Callan over at Amazin’ Avenue has put together a collection of Mets promos from yester-year, including the above. Serious question: Why are things from the ’80s so much funnier — unintentionally — than things from any other decade?

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Mostly Mets Podcast, 1/26/12

Newest Mostly Mets Podcast, featuring Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s Hardball Talk (where I get most of my general baseball news). Craig talks about the Braves, while Ted, Toby and I talk about the other teams in the NL East and the Mets’ probably-poor-pitching. Also, what the Mets bullpen might look like as a basketball team.

iTunes link is here for downloading and subscribing, if you’d like. Contact us with feedback and questions for the show via voicemail at 347-915-METS, or electronic mail at MostlyMetsPodcast at gmail.

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Some Things I Read Today

We’re in the absolute dead season for Mets baseball, so how about some Giants and Knicks reading to hold you over?

This first piece is a retro-link I saw today, via Will Leitch over at New York Magazine‘s The Sports Section. By the way, if you’re a fan of New York sports but not RSS-subscribed to NY Mag’s sports section, I heartily recommend you do so. Anyway here’s this seven-year-old piece from the New York Times:

The droop of his shoulders, the hangdog look, the soft and gentle face, the tendency to greet every question with a blank expression and a high-pitched note of uncertainty (”Ummmmm”) — everything about Eli Manning’s outward appearance suggests indecision and youth. ”If I was a cop and I saw him out driving a car, I’d pull him over,” says Shaun O’Hara, the Giants regular center. His picture has for months graced billboards around New York City, but Eli has been able to walk the length of the fancy part of Fifth Avenue with his mother — untucked red alligator shirt, unpressed chinos and sneakers without socks — without once being recognized. By nature he is very private, but what he’s withholding from the public is unclear. ”I’m Eli’s oldest friend,” James Montgomery says, ”and I don’t think I’ve ever had a serious conversation with him. The last time he called we spent 15 minutes trying to figure out the last song in ‘Teen Wolf.’ ”

- Michael Lewis, “The Eli Experiment”
The New York Times Magazine

I find it interesting that Mannings’s qualities, which in this piece from 2004 make him seem a disinterested and goofy kid, have now come to represent his unshakable cool under pressure. Reading this piece now, it doesn’t seem as if Manning has changed his personality. He’s basically the same aw-shucks, practical joker he’s always been — check out this piece from the Wall Street Journal from October for more on Manning’s jokes. The only thing that’s changed is our reaction to Manning’s personality. What was once interpreted as immaturity and all-encompassing awkwardness is now interpreted as the steady guiding hand of a team’s captain.

I don’t know. I guess it’s easy to make judgments based on Mike Pelfrey a player’s personality, and harder to let his or her play just speak for itself.

Speaking of which:

Anthony, even at his worst, plays like someone who has spent hours rehearsing possible outcomes. He makes his move, runs through his script, and then assumes his expertise will bail him out. Kobe Bryant plunges into the unknown and wants defenders dragged there with him. Melo knows the right thing to do, or at least believes he does. He may make mistakes, but Anthony rarely takes risks. Or at least he wouldn’t see it that way.

- Bethlehem Shoals, “Carmelo Anthony Is Right Even When He’s Wrong”
GQ’s “The Q” blog

The Q is another blog I recommend adding to your RSS feed-reader, a wonderful source of sports writing over on GQ’s website, hidden among the slideshows of gaunt, hairless men wearing loafers without socks. It seems to me that the Knicks’ offensive problems have had a lot to do with their guards missing open shots and Amar’e Stoudemire barreling blindly into opposing bigs, and less to do with Carmelo Anthony, who is currently posting a career-high assist percentage and clearly playing hurt. The Knicks are an impatiently constructed science project, like the 2008-10 Mets, and their fans are blaming the stars, like the fans of the 2008-10 Mets. But they’ll be fine.

If not, blame Beltran.

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Some Things I Read Today

Choo Choo Coleman edition:

In recent years, he has been living in Bamberg, S.C., essentially invisible. Lou Cafiero, a collector in New York, began tracing the Clarence Colemans of America, and last year he made contact. With the 50th anniversary in mind, Cafiero began reaching out to memorabilia shows.

Last week, Coleman flew into New York — his first plane ride in 35 years.

“They used to shake more,” he said, recalling the DC-6B propeller planes the Mets used to charter. When he checked into a hotel, he had never seen a magnetic room card.

As gentle and decent as ever, Coleman seemed bemused as Mets fans greeted him as an icon returned to life.

“You play for a team, you always root for them,” he said.

- George Vecsey, “The Legend of Choo Choo, 50 Years Later”
The New York Times

In honor those early Mets, here is the worst Mets player to be an everyday player, position by position, according to Baseball-Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement:

C – Brian Schneider — .244/.323/.356, 12 HR, 62 RBI
1B – Willie Montanez — .247/.303/.362, 22 HR, 143 RBI
2B – Doug Flynn — .234/.264/.292, 5 HR, 155 RBI
SS – Frank Taveras — .263/.297/.324, 1 HR, 69 RBI
3B – Ty Wigginton — .270/.327/.440, 29 HR, 131 RBI
LF – Benny Agbayani — .282/.372/.461, 35 HR, 129 RBI
CF – Brian McRae — .249/.342/.421, 34 HR, 130 RBI
RF – Jeff Francoeur — .268/.311/.423, 21 HR, 95 RBI

I’m not sure I agree with this list. It skews heavily towards players who did not rate well by defensive metrics (particularly Wigginton, and to a lesser extent the entire outfield). It’s also worth noting that a couple of players — like Brian Schneider and Benny Agbayani, who both rate above replacement level during their time with the Mets — aren’t necessarily bad players, just ones with relatively low scores in the WAR department as compared with other historic Mets. If I’ve learned anything from this exercise, it’s that the Mets have used an enormous number of poor players at second base and shortstop. Both the middle infielders are easily the worst players here.

Doug Flynn, by the way, has an insurmountable lead in the Mets career negative wins above replacement department. He’s at -6.3 wins, with the next position player clocking in at -2.8.

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Oh Yeah. Possibility of Cody Ross Time.

So says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:

I figured the Mets might be out on Ross after re-signing Scott Hairston, as both are lefty-mashers who can spot start in center field — this would seem to be a move from the department of redundancy department — but perhaps not. Ross is a better fielder than Hairston, allowing him to better backup center field, where the Mets are shallow. And if Hairston is forced to shift into playing everyday to replace Jason Bay’s lifeless husk, the Mets bench would suddenly have a serious lack of bats. With Ross, Terry Collins could play Duda-Torres-Ross left to right in the outfield, with Hairston still serving as a backup and spot-starting in left against tough lefties. Ross shares skills with Hairston, but having both could be a good thing for the Mets’ bench.

I’d approve this move. I’ve been half-pushing for Cody Ross since October, when I predicted he would sign with the Mets. Ross is a career .282/.349/.563 hitter with 46 home runs in 684 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers — as I’ve said before, Ross is basically Jose Bautista against lefties, only if Jose Bautista didn’t walk and looked like baby with 5 o’clock shadow.

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Some Things I Read Today

The above is a lie. I read the following yesterday, and there’s just one thing. So here is some thing I read yesterday, that I wanted to pass along:

If you visit FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference during the baseball season, it’s tough to avoid exposure to defensive statistics like UZR, DRS or TZ. They feature prominently on individual player pages and leaderboards. Their existence is mostly beneficial, especially in the long term. A look at the all-time TZ leaderboards at various positions jibes with historical reputations. These stats don’t appear to be total bunk and information is a good thing. However, I fear — and maybe I’m wrong — that following the ups and downs of UZR, etc. during the season serves to bias perception of players’ defensive performance. So this year I will do my best to avoid looking at defensive stats until the season ends, trusting my eyes first to judge defense.

- James Kannengieser, “A UZR-less 2012″
Amazin’ Avenue

I love this idea and plan on trying it myself. I believe looking at defensive numbers does mess with my subjective judgments about fielders. The Mostly Mets Podcast just discussed David Wright’s fielding this week, and I mentioned on the show that Wright doesn’t look like a great defensive third baseman anymore. The numbers back that assertion up, putting Wright as the worst everyday fielder at third base in the major leagues. It’s hard to make a case that Wright is still a solid defensive player.

On the other hand, my opinion is colored by already knowing the numbers. Because I know David Wright’s poor defensive marks, I look for examples of him being a poor fielder during games. When Wright does make a misplay, it only serves to confirm what I had already decided to be true, and when he makes a good play, I write it off as an exception to the rule. Confirmation bias. I can’t trust my own judgement anymore.

So I like this idea. I’m hoping that by avoiding Ultimate Zone Rating, Defensive Runs Saved, and Total Zone numbers this season, I’ll be able to come up with my own evaluation, as Mr. Kannengieser plans on doing.

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Mostly Mets Podcast 1/19/12

The latest Mostly Mets Podcast. We discuss a big exclusive scoop, to what pitcher R.A. Dickey is comparable, outline the Mets’ roster and start the leadoff hitter debate. The iTunes link for rating, subscribing, loving and living, can be found here. Contact us via voicemail at 347-915-METS or by email at MostlyMetsPodcast at gmail.

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Some Things I Read Today

Other than the Mets missing out on Sunday Night Baseball this season — though more than half of Sunday Night Baseball’s schedule is decided during the season, usually two or three weeks in advance of the game — we’re light on Mets news today. How about some basketball analysis via the New York Times instead:

Shot creation has long been crucial to ascendancy as a premier scorer, but Michael Jordan’s eminence brought that particular skill to unprecedented heights. Jordan revolutionized one-on-one play with his electricity; one of his many enduring legacies is the way scorers are perceived and evaluated today.

. . .

But with scoring efficiency valued now more than ever, perhaps it’s time for us to look beyond those who take difficult shots when in search of dominant scorers. Rose, Bryant, and Durant all combine production and efficiency (hence their current standing as the centerpieces of their respective teams’ offenses), but so do some of the league’s most impressive off-ball scorers.

- Rob Mahoney, “Bosh and Anderson, Efficiency Experts”
The New York Times

That’s an excellent point about Michael Jordan revolutionizing one-on-one play. I’m young. When I play basketball, I’m all about little fakes to create space — jab steps, step backs, and fadeaways, things like that. My moves are aimed at beating someone in isolation, and I think as much is true for everyone who learned to play basketball after Jordan.

But does anyone ever play pickup basketball with old guys, or at least watch old guys play pickup basketball? Old guys are all about moving the ball and finding the open man, and once the ball passes halfcourt, there’s very little dribbling. I’ve found that off-ball defense against old guys is more important than on-ball defense, because old guys almost never face the basket while dribbling. They’re only going to look for and find easy baskets in a cutter or by running someone off a screen. And old guys love backdoor cuts. It’s like they play a different game.

Michael Jordan changed his sport all the way down to the way amateurs play pickup games. Babe Ruth, who decided to swing with an uppercut and ended the deadball era, is the only other athlete to do so, right? Jordan made one-on-one play acceptable, and Babe Ruth made trying to hit the ball over the fence acceptable. Has anyone else changed their sport as dramatically as those two?

Moving on. Jon Bois writes about the startling decline of athletes named Bob:

Again: only one of 1,844 Bob-athletes are currently active, and most of the rest were playing only a handful of decades ago. If that slope were a road, it would have been gated off years ago. Very few trends drop off at such a startling rate without some sort of explanation: yes, people are buying fewer typewriters in favor of computers and the like. But who usurped Bob? Where is our better Bob?

- Jon Bois, “The Bob Famine”
SB Nation

The Mets should have R.A. Dickey, Robert Carson, Bobby Parnell, and Rob Johnson all in camp this Spring. All have the first name Robert, yet none of them go by Bob.  I know two fellows my age named Robert: One goes by Bobby, the other by Rob. I actually don’t know if I’ve met anyone named Bob, even though “Bob” or “John” are still what I consider commonplace names. Why has Bob become so unpopular? Where are all the Bobs?

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Pre-Preseason-Preview-View

Today is January 17, a full month before the Mets’ pitchers and catchers are to report for Spring Training. It’s still far too early for a season preview, and too soon for a spring training preview – but is it too early for a pre preseason preview view? Probably. But the Mets’ 40-man roster looks set, and barring a trade and a few inevitable minor league signing, the Mets are ready to go for Spring Training. One can even see the beginnings of the Opening Day roster. Here is a very early look at the 2012 Mets: Continue reading

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