Monthly Archives: January 2010

>Sunday Stuff You Should Read

>Who’s excited for the Pro Bowl! No one? Really? Okay. If the NFL promised that Chad Ochocinco would be allowed to do all the kicking, then maybe I would watch . . .

Mets organist Jane Jarvis passed away.

Tom Verducci wonders if the forgiveness granted to Doc and Darryl will eventually be given to steroid users.

Some Yankee fan canceled his ticket plan because the Yankees signed Randy Winn instead of Johnny Damon.

The Daily News interviews active minor league home run leader Mike Hessman, who signed a minor league deal with the Mets earlier this month.

Josh Fogg: dragon slayer. I almost hope he makes the team solely because of that nickname. Almost.

Mets Minor League Blog takes a look at the Mets potential F-Bomb.


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>Projecting the 2010 Mets runs scored

>Baseball Prospectus’ fairly preliminary PECOTA projections came out this week, as noted by Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog. First, remember that there are exceedingly preliminary and iffy projections, especially considering that:

A.)There were way, way, way too many runs in those initial projections: in 2009, just 7 teams scored more than 800 runs, while these first projections had four of the five NL East teams scoring over 800 runs. That’s just not going to happen. The Mets and Phillies might do it, but I don’t think anyone one else will.

B.) Someone noticed, and all runs have already been corrected and lowered. The standings remain the same, but it’s good to just keep in mind how ridiculous these early predictions, even the stats-based ones, can be. 

While predicting the Mets runs allowed is dubious at this point, the Mets lineup seems to be relatively set and projection their runs scored is not so difficult. I took the Mets CHONE projected wOBA, adjusted them roughly based on my blogger “amateur sports-writer”* projected playing time for various players and batting order positions, and came up with a projected Runs Above Average for the Mets lineup. I also threw on the total wOBA and sOPS+ of each position from 2009 for comparison – “split OPS+” measures the Mets OPS relative to the same position in that league – e.g. 100 would be an average hitting group, below 100 would be worse, and above better. You can see that even though the Mets catchers were a poorer hitting group than the first basemen, the Mets first basemen were much worse hitters than the rest of the leagues first basemen.  The Mets outfield wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, but their shortstops were somehow even worse.

*I hate the term blogger. Absolutely hate it. The word blogger makes people think of this. Maybe amateur sports writer is a better way to go with the term? Or, even better, “struggling writer”, which sounds significantly cooler. Like a poet or something. People make movies, or at least pop musicals, about struggling writers. Not so much about bloggers.

A couple of brief explanations about how I guesstimated this stuff. I have the Mets CF performing about the same, under the assumption that Carlos Beltran/Angel Pagan/random scrapeheap-level guys gets a playing time split similar to 2009. As for the rest, I mostly took the regulars wOBA and then lowered the better hitters a few points here and there, assuming that they’ll get an off day now and then in favor of lesser hitters. 

Chart away! (click to see bigger)

The biggest difference maker is, surprise, Jose Reyes. The Mets had an miserable hitting group of SS in 2009, even with Reyes playing 2 months. Reyes alone makes the Mets about +50 weighted runs above average better. A bounce back year from David Wright should help, and Jason Bay upgrades LF offensively. The Mets lineup, even with Omir Santos still in there, is much improved from 2009.

Anyway, with my rough predictions, I have the Mets at around +40 weighted runs above average in 2010. They were a -40 team in 2009, so it’s an 80 fictional runs swing.

But weighted runs aren’t quite the same as real runs. So for an idea about how many real runs the Mets could score, we can compare them to a 2009 teams that was just about 40 wRAA – the Blue Jays – who scored just below 800 runs. Using them as an example I would conservatively guess that the 2010 Mets will score 780+ or so runs – but that’s just based on my guesstimating.

Since I’m not going to try to predict the Mets pitching/defense, if we instead just take last years Mets pitching/defense, which allowed 757 runs, the project-a-Mets would have a winning percentage of .518 – an 84 win team. Again, that’s with the same slightly below average pitching staff and defense the Mets used last year.

But a lot of that relies on Murphy and Francoeur to be average offensive players – which they are projected to be – Wright to bounce back, and Reyes to stay healthy. If all that happens, the Mets lineup might not be as awful as some people think or project it to be.

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>2010 Preview: Oliver Perez

>Welcome to the first edition of the Mets 2010 season previews. Yeah, I know, it’s still January. But soon it will be February, then March, and suddenly it’s opening day, and then before you know it, it’s mid-June and the Mets have been mathematically eliminated – so up until then, I’ll be mixing in some looks at various Mets players and maybe some other teams around the league. Some of them will be more stats-heavy stuff, some won’t be so stats-heavy, and some will be . . . well, whatever this is.

So here’s the first preview, of Ollie Perez:

Full Name: Oliver Martinez Perez

Anagram of his name I used some website to create: Per Zero Evil

Career Line: 58-64, 4.54 ERA

2010 CHONE projection: 6-8, 4.85 ERA

If he were a Muppet, he would be: Lew Zealand. Not sure why, but it feels right with the thrown fish and everything. In a related note, the Muppet wiki is excessively detailed.

Suggested at-bat song for 2010: “Out of Control” – U2


During a game in the summer of 2008, Oliver Perez sits next to John Maine on the bench in the Mets’ dugout. Perez has a baseball with a partially torn cover. He mumbles something to Maine and pretends to eat the ball like an apple.

Oliver Perez baffles.

He skips over the foul line every time he crosses it, whether he’s exiting the game up 3-1 in the eighth or down 6-0 in the first. Some leaps are more jovial than others, but he has always made the jump since he was playing Little League in Mexico. It’s his own baseball superstition; every player seems to have at least one. Perez goes about in his own mismatched way. He wears his blue or black socks high. He sometimes sports a mohawk, sometimes sideburns that sharply point towards his mouth, now just a full beard. He has the awkward build of a teenager who still hasn’t quite filled out the right way – he’s got shins that look bowed and a perpetual slouch in his shoulders. Like a surprising number of pitchers, you don’t look at Oliver and immediately think “professional athlete.” But he is – his legs look surprisingly strong, and his long arms contribute to both his lanky appearance and his pitching abilities.

Still, he often looks out of place, like he’s just a visitor. In the past, Ollie would get this lost stare when he was being interviewed, occasionally seeming surprised that reporters are asking him questions about the game he just pitched. His answers rarely match up with the questions he is asked – maybe because of the language barrier, maybe because he’s perpetually zoned out. It’s like he’s never thinking about what happened before or what’s going to happen after, but instead simultaneously about the present and nothing at all. There’s no planning when he’s on the mound. He can never explain why he does what he does, why he dropped down to sidearm, why he threw a 60 MPH slider – it’s not improvisation, like in traditional jazz, because that requires even tiny amounts of planning ahead. The traditional jazz musician knows the chords changes and which scales fit over them, and has a loose idea about what licks he’s going to play. Ollie is more like free jazz, like the horns in Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” – which sounds like a horn section falling down a flight of stairs. He has no idea what he’s going to do next. Oliver Perez pitches and exists in the right now. Oliver Perez just is.

July 25th, 2008: Oliver Perez pitches 7.2 innings against the Phillies, allowing one run, striking out twelve, and issuing just one walk, an intentional pass to Pat Burrell. The Mets win 3-1 and take control of first place in the National League East for the first time in months. Perez pitches to a 0.35 ERA against the Phillies in 2008, allowing a lone run over his four starts, striking out 27 batters. The supposed legend of “big game Ollie” grows.

Oliver Perez baffles.

Oliver Perez has the “stuff” to baffles hitters, that mythical pitching “stuff” which can make a batter swing out of his shoes on one pitch and swing right back into them the next. Stuff so good it can only be described pejoratively: nasty stuff, filthy stuff, devastating stuff. Most pitcher’s “stuff” comes and goes from game to game, month to month, or within a single start. But not for Oliver Perez – he seemingly always has his “stuff”, the rising low-nineties fastball and a sweeping slider which always seems to break just an inch out of the batter’s reach. He can’t always harness it, but if he’s healthy, the “stuff” is there for him.

And Oliver Perez’s stuff, that elusive stuff, is among the hardest ever to hit – he is seventh all time in strikeouts per nine innings pitched, sandwiched right in between fellow lefties Sandy Koufax and Johan Santana. In his best season, 2004, he struck out 11 batters per nine innings, the record in a single season for a left hander not named Randy Johnson. He has struck out 457 batters in 473.2 innings as a Met, meaning that 22% of the total batters he faced failed to solve him enough to even put the ball into play. You watch the wiffleball slider break and never stop breaking, and you understand why. All you can do is smile, shake your head, and mutter to yourself, “that’s just not fair.”

April 9, 2009: Oliver Perez, freshly signed to a 3 year, $36 million dollar contract in the offseason, makes his first start of the season in Cincinnati. He struggles to make it through just 4.1 innings, throwing exactly 100 pitches, walking five, striking out 7, and allowing 8 runs. The Mets lose 8-6. Less than a week later, Perez is loudly booed during the introductions at the Mets’ Citi Field home opener.

Oliver Perez baffles.

He struggles inordinately to put the ball here he needs to. Rick Peterson tried to stress keeping a consistent release point. Dan Warthen tries to stress maintaining a consistent windup – the bow towards home, a slide step to the far left of the rubber, then a big leg kick, a pause for a beat, and the explosive delivery across his body in a 3/4 arm slot. But his pitches are like Carmen San Diego, somehow winding up in a different location each time. Pitches called for inside are thrown a foot outside, pitches called for outside end up at the backstop, sliders are hung over the plate or buried in the dirt. Brian Schneider would too often have to just set up in the middle of the plate and hope for the pitch to be close. During August of 2008, Ollie could be relied on to throw at least one eephus a game, a sweeping mid-sixties breaking ball, often sidearm and always for a ball. Just because. Dan Warthen could only shake his head. The catcher always looks suprised.

Perez has walked 5.0 batters per nine innings pitched in his career, and has finished in the top ten for walks every year he has qualified, leading the league in 2008. His “index of self destructive acts”, a Bill James statistic that measures the total number of hit batters, wild pitches, balks, and pitcher errors per nine innings, is 0.85 – most of that is from hit batsman and wild pitches. Pitchers with excellent control sit in the .20-.30 range, while the especially wild average between .80 and above. The numbers confirm that Ollie is indeed as wild and self-destructive as he seems. Oliver Perez instability is the biggest obstacle to his own success.

June 16th, 2002: Oliver Perez’s pitches in his first Major League start. Just shy of 21, he is the youngest player in the Major Leagues. He strikes out the first two Mariners he faces, both swinging, and retires the side 1-2-3. However, in his second inning of work, he walks two batters and throws a wild pitch. He recovers to strike out the final two batters of the inning.

Fast forward to January 25, 2010. Oliver Perez, present at the Mets optional mini-camp, claims to be in the best shape of his life. Reports say that his English is much improved, that he is engaging with members of the media. He seems older and more mature, though maybe that’s just the beard. He states that he is ready for 2010, that he’s fired up.

Then, playing long toss with Johan Santana, Perez clears the outfield fence twice on wild overthrows.

Oliver Perez baffles.

He has always baffled everyone. You, me, pitching coaches, managers, hitters, fantasy baseball owners, real baseball owners, his agent, himself. Everyone. He had a brilliant 2004, needed to be sent back to the minors in 2006, and then got it together again for the NLCS. Any predictions about Perez are useless. No one knows what he’s going to do.

He defies prediction. Ollie does have that elusive, quicksilvery, no-hitter stuff every time he takes the mound, but no one has found a way for him to lasso it. The batter has no idea where the pitch is going, but neither does Ollie – he’s just one more passenger along for the ride. It’s always been like this, from his first major league start all the way through this past week. He swerves wildly between brilliant and frustrating from batter to batter, inning to inning, game to game, season to season. He’s maddening to everyone, himself included – he is capable of domination seemingly without any control, so if he could just figure it out . . . but with the slouch and the chewing gum, he appears an apathetic teenager. Like he’s not focused. Like he doesn’t care.

But I don’t think that’s it. He broke his toe in 2005 kicking a laundry cart after a loss. He cares, at the very least because it’s his job. I think it’s that Perez is always tuned into nothing other than right now. He’s the pitching equivalent of a goldfish – he’s got a six-second memory. He never repeats his pitching motion because he doesn’t remember what his last motion was. Why drop down and throw sidearm? Because it felt right in that moment. Why doesn’t he look upset when he’s sitting on the bench after being removed from a miserable start? Because that’s over, it’s in the past, and it’s not what’s happening right now. He’s like a being that’s not fully in this dimension or any other one. He’s in his moment and nothing else.

He can be bad Ollie, good Ollie, ineffective, brilliant, Big Game Ollie, a bum who doesn’t care, the kind of pitcher that gets general mangers fired. Whatever you think of Oliver Perez, you want to see him pitch in 2010 because he’s the second most interesting pitcher on the Mets staff. You missed Oliver in 2009. He’s an oddball on a team with very few distinguishable characters. He’s not always effective, but there’s never an awkward pause with him on the mound. He’s like the anti-Steve Traschel – Traschel chugged along each year racking up 200 or decent if dragging. boring. forgettable. innings. Perez is a fireball who is going to strike out 10 in seven innings or walk 10 in two. Oliver Perez is one of those 1950’s unmanned rocket launches. Maybe he will stream up into the great depths of space, or maybe he will explode on the launch pad. Either way, it’s going to be spectacular.

The early signs are that something in Oliver Perez is finally different in 2010. He spent the winter in Arizona at the API, supposedly getting in shape, maturing, not shaving, having Johnny Depp repeatedly ask him if he’s a Mexican or a Mexican’t. If he wasn’t taking things seriously before, he appears to be now. Perez is getting older; his window to figure this “pitching thing” out is quickly closing. A 27-year-old lefty with talent has time on his side – not so much for the 30-year-old lefty with control issues. This season might be a last shot for Oliver. And maybe, just maybe, this is the season the eternal prospect figures it out. When he find his command and stops f@#$*#g walking so many guys. Perez was awful last year because of injuries, the WBC, indifference, chronic ineffectiveness – blame it on what you will. It’s been the same story his whole career. But I’ve got a good feeling about Oliver Perez in 2010.

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>Shocker: Mets, like every team, need more pitching.

>Saying that the Mets are going to improve their rotation before Opening Day (baseball!) is sort of like saying that the Mets aren’t going to botch a press conference – they should be able to easily do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

So the Mets’ puppet GM is giving the same “Oliver Perez and John Maine won 15 games in 2007” speech that he was giving during the winter of 2007-08. Which was two years ago, when Maine and Perez combined to win 30 games the previous year, and not 10. You could have gone into a coma for all of 2008 and 2009, and there would be nothing in the Mets universe to convince you that it was now 2010 and not 2008. You know, other than the new stadium and maybe Johan Santana.

The Mets opening day rotation is possibly going to look like this, with slightly screwy CHONE innings pitched and ERA projections. I’m going to throw on my own “totally healthy” innings pitched projections, i.e. how many innings I’d guess the pitcher would throw if he was healthy for the entire season. Not that it will happen:

Johan Santana: 3.89, 183 IP, 220 healthy IP
Mike Pelfrey: 4.58, 175 IP, 210 healthy IP
Oliver Perez: 4.85, 128 IP, 180 healthy IP
John Maine: 4.46, 123 IP, 190 healthy IP

plus one of

Fernando Nieve: 4.05, 40 IP
Nelson Figueroa: 4.38, 156 IP
Jon Niese: 4.57, 132 IP
Pat Misch: 4.16, 67 IP

If you add up the CHONE innings pitched for all eight potential starters, it comes out to over 1000, about what you’d expect from a starting rotation . . .

But I wouldn’t put too much into these CHONE projections. Keep in mind that Misch and Nieve are both projected as relievers, and Nelson Figueroa is supposed to be the Mets #3 starter.

However, anyway you look at it, the Mets need more pitching. Of course, every team always needs more pitching, but the Mets especially need more pitching because they don’t even have five major league starters at the moment. The Mets need to get enough water into the pool to cover the bottom before they even start worrying about pitching depth. Now, if you want to talk about backup catchers, that’s another story, because that talent pool is Olympic sized.

Anyway, of the eight pitchers listed here, five are coming off injury plagued 2009 season. The front four each has big questions: Maine has shoulder issues, Johan Santana elbow is now either fully repaired or just temporarily patched together, Mike Pelfrey needs defensive help, and Oliver Perez is – well, Oliver Perez just is.

Plus, even if all four were fully healthy going into the year, at least one of the bunch is going to suffer an injury during 2010. The human body isn’t designed to throw a baseball at maximum effort thousands of times. Pitchers get hurt, and then they get hurt again, they have a Dr. Frankenstein surgery, and then they get hurt once more. Someone in the rotation is going to get hurt, as happens every year. The Mets don’t seem prepared for that reality again.

If you momentarily pretend Omar has just one enormous flaw as GM, it’s his inability to build a rotation with five starters on opening day and adequate depth. Year after year, the Mets go into the season with a maximum of four major league starters and then scrap heap or unknown youth in the fifth spot. So then Jorge Sosa gets to make 14 starts. Or Brian Lawrence pitches. Or Phillip Humber has to make an important September start. Four major league starters isn’t enough. Five really isn’t enough either, but it’s better than four.

But it looks like it’s going to happen again. I think the Mets know this is a bad plan this time around. But it might be too late to do much about it.

But spring training is right around the corner, and thinking like this is about as fun as listening to the audiobook novelization of “Avatar.” So here’s an optimistic projection to make you feel better about the 2010 Mets:

Johan Santana: 1200 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3600 K, 90 wins, saves three fans choking on hot dogs in the stands.

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>Davey Johnson: Retrojections

>Did Doc, did Darryl, so now you get new Mets HOF-er Davey Johnson. I’m probably not going to do Frank Cashen, so this is it for now.

“Being cocky is not a bad attitude”
– Davey Johnson, 1986

Evaluating a baseball manager is a difficult task, involving lots of voodoo and guess-timating, and I’m not going to even try it here. Instead, I went back and looked for every time Davey Johnson was ejected from a Mets game.

I found a total of twelve: three in 1984, five in 1985, two in 1987, and two in 1989. Retrosheet also lists Davey Johnson being ejected twelve times as Mets manager, but they have one more in 1984 than I do and one less in 1985. It’s possible we both missed one, or they mislisted theirs, or I made a mistake somewhere along the way. So while there may be 13 ejections, I’m only going to list the ones that I found.

Here are the twelve times Davey Johnson was ejected as manager of the New York Mets:

June 22, 1984: Expos @ Mets, Mets lose 2-1.
Dave Pallone (1)
Something random from that month: Bruce Springsteen releases his Born in the U.S.A. album on June 4th. No one ever bothers to read the lyrics to the title track.

The Mets scored their lone run on a Keith Hernandez RBI double. Doc Gooden went the distance in the loss, striking out 11 and making one lone mistake that Andre Dawson knocked out to right center for a two-run home run in the top of the fourth. Fans hung K signs for Doc at this game, maybe one of the first times. They also did the wave during the eighth, a move which the beat reporter for the New York Times, William C. Rhoden, had clearly never seen before because he felt the need to mention it: “The crowd swayed in a coordinated wave-like fashion, cheering itself as much as the Mets.”

Davey Johnson was ejected in the bottom of the eighth by home plate umpire Dave Pallone. With Wally Backman on first, Mookie Wilson squared around to bunt. The pitch, a slider, struck some part of Wilson – Johnson thought it struck Mookie’s leg, and Pallone thought it hit Wilson’s bat and ruled it a foul ball. Johnson insisted that Pallone ask for help from another umpire with a better angle on the play. Pallone then insisted that Johnson take the remainder of the night off.

Pete Rose, playing for Montreal, was also ejected in the game.

July 28, 1984: Cubs @ Mets, Cubs win 11-4
Bruce Froeming (1), I think. Maybe Terry Tata.
Something random from that month: the 1984 Summer Olympics began on this day.

Ron Darling goes 7, allowing three runs, before the bullpen let the door explode. Doug Sisk and Brent Gaff combined to allow 8 runs in the eighth.

Davey Johnson was ejected in the first inning this time. With two out, Keith Hernandez had walked, and advanced to second on a Rick Sutcliffe wild pitch to Darryl Strawberry. With two balls and two strikes on Strawberry, Sutcliffe threw another ball wildly that Strawberry check swung at. Third base umpire Froeming signaled a strike without an official appeal being asked for – home plate umpire Terry Tata was apparently so sure of his ruling he had already given the Cubs’ catcher a new baseball. Anyway, after the dropped third strike had been called, the Cubs tagged Strawberry out with the new ball, which wasn’t the same one he had swung at. Johnson was ejected after going understandably ballistic about the ruling. 

August 8, 1984: Mets @ Cubs, Cubs win 7-6
Charlie Williams (1)
Something random from that month: Ronald Reagan jokingly said this in a live mike prior to a radio broadcast: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

This game capped off the Cubs four-game, three-day sweep of the Mets, which included one all-out brawl, multiple ejections on both sides, and a beanball war that saw four players plunked over the course of the final three games along with countless high and tight pitches. The Mets came to Chicago a half game out of first and left four-and-a-half back.

Because of the tension from the previous day, the umpires twice issued blanket warnings during the game, threatening to eject both manager and pitcher if any more pitches came too far inside. Mets reliever Walt Terrell hit Bob Denier in the head with two on and none out in the seventh, thus earning an ejection for Terrell and Davey Johnson. Johnson and Terrell unsuccessfully argued that the pitch was unintentional – Denier, the plunkee, agreed after the game – but regardless, pitcher and manager were tossed. As Johnson and Terrell left the field, fans began tossing beer at the Mets players, some of whom actually had to be restrained from entering the stands, ala Ron Artest, by Wrigley Field security guards. That pretty much sums up the late 80’s Mets.

Cubs pitcher Lee Smith and manager Jim Frey were ejected in the ninth when a fastball came a little too close to George Foster’s head.

May 30th, 1985: Mets @ Giants, Mets win 2 -1
Bob Engel (1)
Something random from that month: New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul is born.

Doc goes the distance, strikes out 14.

Johnson was ejected in the 8th this time, after Mookie Wilson was tagged out on a leadoff bunt attempt. Davey sort of wanted to argue that the ball was foul, but he much more wanted to accuse the umpiring crew of going after Keith Hernandez, who had been tossed the game before. Johnson felt they were still hungry for blood, so he got himself tossed instead.

July 4, 1985: Mets @ Braves, Mets win 16-13 in 19 innings.
Terry Tata (1)
Something random from that month: George H. W. Bush gets to practice being president for a couple of hours as Ronald Reagan undergoes colon cancer surgery.

Yup – this game. Ending at 3:55 in the morning with the post-game fireworks kicking off at 4:01, the game didn’t begin until 9:04 because of rain and was delayed by the weather another 41 minutes in the third inning. Davey Johnson and Darryl Strawberry had enough of this epic by the 17th, both being ejected after arguing a called strike 3 on Straw. At the time, Howard Johnson had called it the greatest game he had ever played in . . .

This game deserves it’s own post, or entire book even, so I won’t write any more about it here. Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez inevitably end up reminiscing about it on air around Independence Day each year anyhow.

July 13, 1985: Mets @ Astros, Mets win 10-1.
Bob Engel (2)
Something random from that month: The Live Aid concerts took place this day. Bono was still cool.

The Mets had 14 hits, scored 10 runs, and Ed Lynch went the distance, allowing a lone run on six hits. George Foster went 0-1, but his “Shaft” sideburns went 4-4, for a combined total of 4-5 with 4 RBI.

Davey Johnson got himself tossed in the fifth inning when Darryl Strawberry took issue with a 2-0 strike call. Johnson, probably protecting Straw, came out to argue, and home plate ump Bob Engel ejected Johnson for the second time that year. It was a standard arguing balls and strike ejection, the “Bobby Cox special.”

August 24, 1985: Padres @ Mets, Game 1, Mets lose 6-1.
Bruce Froemming (2)
Something random from that month: Robert Ballard and friends find the Titanic, leading to the most successful chick flick ever.

Mets were swept in a double header, falling out of first place, with Davey Johnson missing most of the first game. Rick Aguilera, who walked Tony Gywnn and Greg Nettles in the top of the first inning on some close pitches, took lo
ng looks in at home plate umpire Bruce Froemming, who would shout back at Aguilera. Davey Johnson came out of the dugout and told Froemming to not yell at his pitcher. Johnson then received special permission from Froemming to watch the rest of his game on TV from his cozy Shea Stadium office.

The Mets were held to six hits in the first game, and lost the second game 6-1, with seven hits, for a total of thirteen hits in eighteen innings.

September 28, 1985: Mets @ Pirates, Mets win 3-1
Joe West (1)
Something random from that month: Michael Jackson outbids Paul McCartney for publishing rights to the Beatles catalog.

Augilera, Roger McDowell, and Jesse Orosco combined on a six hitter, and the Mets kept hope alive in the pennant race, at least for a while longer.

Johnson was run by second base umpire Joe West in the fourth, after Pirates catcher Tony Pena grounded into what appeared to be a 5-4-3 double play. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I think West must have ruled that Larry Bowa, playing second base for the Mets, failed to step on the bag when turning the double play and declared the runner at second safe. Johnson thought otherwise and expressed his opinion as such. After Johnson was ejected, the Mets escaped the inning with no damage – Aguilera got Pirates third baseman and lizard king, Jim Morrison, to ground out to short for the third out.

April 27, 1987: Astros @ Mets, Mets lose 11-1
Joe West (2)
Something random from that month: The yellow Simpsons family shows up on the Tracy Ullman show for the first time.

The first, disastrous major league start for a 23-year-old David Cone. He lasted five innings, surrendering 10 runs, 7 earned, walked 6, allowed 2 HR, threw 2 wild pitches, and balked twice.

Johnson was thrown out for arguing a balk during the particularly miserable third inning, which featured three hits, one walk, one error, one wild pitch, and both balks. With Brian Doran at the plate and runners at the corners, Cone balked, driving in a run. Johnson came out to defend his young pitcher, arguing that Cone had been making the same motion to the plate all night and that West was going after Cone when he was already on the ropes. He was run for that. With Johnson gone and Doran still up, Cone was immediately called for another balk by West, moving the baserunner to third – perhaps just to make a point.

September 20, 1987: Mets @ Pirates, Mets lose 9-8 in 14 innings.
Charlie Williams (1) or Bruce Froemming (3), not sure. 
Something random from that month: Pat Robertson announces that he is running for President.

Sid Fernandez went six innings, allowing 3 home runs and 6 total runs. Howard Johnson hit a line drive that skipped past a left fielder Barry Bonds, allowing Johnson to score an inside-the-park home run in the the fifth. The Mets out-hit the Pirates 15-9, but left 12 men on base.

Davey Johnson was run arguing a bunt in the bottom of the seventh. The newspaper account is not detailed on the ejection – the Pirates U L* Washington was tagged out by Gary Carter on a sac bunt in the seventh, but I guess there was something to argue about anyway. I think there was a throw to second and a questionable call at the base, but that’s just an educated guess. I don’t know who actually tossed him, though my money’s on Froemming, who was the second base umpire during the game and frequent ejector of Davey Johnson.

*That is his legal first name – U L, no periods. It apparently doesn’t stand for anything.

The Giants won when then-lead off hitter and speedster Barry Bonds tripled to right in the bottom of the 14th and scored on a walk-off sac fly by Andy Van Slyke.

May 4, 1989: Reds @ Mets. Mets win 3-2.
Bruce Froemming (3 or 4)
Something random from that month: The Tianamen Square protests are going on. The Chinese Army ends the protest during the beginning of June.

Ron Darling pitched 8 and 1/3 innings of 2 run ball, bringing his early season ERA down to 5.03. The Mets didn’t break the ice against Red pitcher Danny Jackson until the sixth, when three hits and walk netted them two runs. Howard Johnson hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth, trade rumors and all. He shouldn’t have worried – he didn’t end up going anywhere.

Davey got an early night off after shortstop Kevin Elster, who struck out in the bottom of the fifth, shared some choice words with home plate umpire Froemming running back out to his position in the sixth. Froemming told Elster to hit the showers, then threw Johnson out as well when he came out to defend his player.

August 25, 1989: Mets @ Padres, Mets lose 5-3 in 10 innings.
Bill Hohn (1)
Something random from that month: Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life.

This game happened twenty years too early.

The Mets scored their runs on a Howard Johnson two-run home run and a Kevin Elster sac fly, but the Padres scored all of their five runs on four home runs, including a two-run Chris James walk-off in the bottom of the tenth.

That’s not why this game has backwards echoes of 2009, though. This is: with the Mets leading 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, Padres pitcher Ed Whitson led off with a double against Sid Fernandez. The Mets thought Whitson had missed first base in his excitement and decided to appeal – but Fernandez managed to balk on the appeal throw, sending Whitson to third instead of back to the dugout. I don’t know if this is the only appeal-throw balk in history, but I can’t imagine there are many and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all committed by Mets pitchers.

Davey Johnson heatedly argued the balk, went back to dugout, and watched an now-imploding Fernandez give up back-to-back home runs, and the lead, to Bip Roberts and Roberto Alomar. Howard Johnson tried to approach the mound before Alomar’s at-bat in an attempt to calm down Sid, but was halted and sent back to his position by third base umpire Bill Hohn. That, combined with the home runs, was all Davey wanted to see; he got himself tossed by Hohn and then declared that the Mets were playing the rest of the game under protest.


So those are the twelve ejections of Davey Johnson. There may be another one in there somewhere, but I’m 95% certain that’s all of them. Johnson got along with Bruce Froemming the worst, being ejected by him either 3 or 4 separate times. Joe West was also a multiple ejector of Johnson.

I know that I promised no manager evaluations, but here’s this quickly: Met teams Davey Johnson managed for a full season outperformed their Pythagorean win-loss record by a total of 14 games – they overachieved by 19 games in his first three seasons, but then underachieved by five games over the next three years. The 1984 club, outscored by a margin of 24 runs, was still able to win 90 games, good for 12 wins above their expected win-loss record. Johnson got as much as he could out of his early Met teams, but didn’t do the same with the later ones. Of course, I don’t know of any evidence that managers actually affect how much a team over or underachieves it’s pythag win-loss, so take from this what you will.

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>The 2010 Mets Projected Lineup.

>Short little exercise on a rainy day while I’m working on some other, longer things. Briefly, the 2010 Mets opening day lineup as it now stands with CHONE projected wOBA. This isn’t the way I think it should look, but rather the way I suspect Jerry Manuel will organize the lineup. An average wOBA is somewhere in the range between .330-.340, For more on wOBA click here:

SS Jose Reyes .366
2B Luis Castillo .329
3B David Wright .393
LF Jason Bay .388
RF Jeff Francoeur .327
1B Daniel Murphy .330
CF Angel Pagan .334 or Gary Matthews Jr. .309
C Omir Santos .289
P Johan Santana .infinity

Don’t worry, it looks worse than it actually is. It’s an average lineup, and a slightly below average group defensively, though that changes based on how the left side of the infield performs. Beltran makes the offensive better, though I’m not sure if post-op Beltran is a defensive upgrade over Pagan. The 2010 Mets appear to be a middle of the pack team as currently constructed.


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>Sunday Stuff You Should Read

>Some reading on Conference Championship Sunday. I’m not a Jets fan, but I’ll proudly root for the New York team today, unlike when the Yankees play. For whatever reason, the animosity I feel towards the team in the Bronx is non-existent towards the Jets.

Peyton Manning occasionally cusses on live TV.

Fantastic picture gallery of Rex Ryan.

Some Manning Faces.

Now baseball stuff . . . 

Joe Posnanski’s piece on the six stages of Royals grief could effortlessly be rewritten about the Mets. Effortlessly. Replace “Rick Ankiel” with “Gary Matthews Jr.” and so on.

Goodbye Amazin Avenue’s version of Paul Bunyan, Brian Stokes.

The Angels almost were able to dump GMJ on the Red Sox for Mike Lowell. The Mets somehow failed to get rid of Luis Castillo.

Doc and Darryl.

 Mick. Keith. 1971. Go.

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