Category Archives: Words

The 2018 Mets Ranked By Perceived Metsiness

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Carlos Beltran does not play for the 2018 Mets | Via Keith Allison

Carlos Beltran is a future Hall-of-Famer, a Gold Glove center fielder who hit 400 home runs, stole 300 bases, and hit .307/.412/.609 in the postseason. He might wear a Mets cap on his Cooperstown plaque. He played more games with the New York Mets than with any other team. He is objectively a great player.

And yet–would you be more comfortable talking to a stranger about Donald Trump or Carlos Beltran? If you took a Mets fan off the subway and asked them about Carlos Beltran, what would they say? Maybe they would talk about Adam Wainwright’s curveball and Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Maybe they’d say it was a shame the Mets wasted so many of Beltran’s best years, surrounding him, David Wright, and Jose Reyes with mediocre players. Maybe they’d claim Beltran was a clubhouse cancer and #BlameBeltran. He is not universally beloved the way Mike Piazza or Tom Seaver or Mookie Wilson is universally beloved.

I have a new theory about this: Carlos Beltran’s problem was that he lacked an essential Mets-iness. He was, in a word, too competent.

For example, when Beltran had a bone bruise in his right knee in 2009, he ignored the Mets team doctor and had knee surgery, possibly without the team’s permission. The Mets threatened to void Beltran’s contract in a public spat.

Guess who was correct about Carlos Beltran’s knee?

Beltran was. He played eight more seasons on his surgically repaired knee. (Can you think of a better medical strategy than doing the opposite of whatever the Mets doctors tell you? You’d probably live forever.) Beltran knew better. He won Gold Gloves for a team that let Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda run around next to him in the outfield. He was a genius baseball player who loved to swipe third. He was a beloved teammate, but he didn’t always seem to enjoy playing for the Mets. That’s not a criticism. Beltran, wisely, rejected certain aspects of the Mets. There’s a reason the pairing never quite seemed to click.

You know who is a True Met? Ryan Church. He made the final out at Shea Stadium. Very Mets. His most famous moment was missing third base in a game against the Dodgers in 2009, taking the go-ahead run off the board. Very Mets. He suffered a concussion, let the Mets doctors fly him all over the country, and then he had to retire. The Mets! They ruined his career. Church embodied a certain period of Mets baseball. Carlos Beltran is objectively a better player, by a comical margin, but Ryan Church was more Mets. Would Carlos Beltran ever miss a base? Did Carlos Beltran trust the Mets medical staff?

Mike Piazza was objectively great, but he also dyed his hair blonde and once held a press conference to announce he identified as heterosexual. A Scottish band wrote a song about it. Of course he fit in. It goes beyond just talent.

The Mets’ franchise identity is a blend of lovable losers, comic ineptness, great pitching, humor, lost potential, an occasional dark streak, and soul-crushing meltdowns. Daniel Murphy was an excellent Met. Whenever he’d play well, it was amusing, because Murphy has a weirdly small torso and a dinosaur-arm batting stance and had no business playing second base. Johan Santana was objectively a great pitcher, but that worked because the Mets usually have objectively great pitchers–Tom Seaver is the greatest Met of all. Ed Kranepool was not an all-time great, but he is an all-time great Met. The Wilpons are objectively bad owners, because they were bilked out of millions in a Ponzi scheme that financially crippled the franchise for a half-decade, but they’re great Mets owners, because they were bilked out of millions in a Ponzi scheme that financially crippled the franchise for a half-decade. That’s a very Mets thing to happen.

See how this works?

And so, in that tradition, here is a scientific ranking of the Mets current roster, by how Mets each player feels, on a scale of 1-10, from least-to-most Mets. Again, this is scientific, so if you disagree, you are wrong.

THE RANKINGS:

Jose Reyes – 11/10: Once beloved. Now? Yuck. A useful bench player at this stage in his career, but this list isn’t about usefulness. It’s about Metsiness.

Tomas Nido – 12/10: Last September, Nido was thrown out trying to go second-to-home on an infield hit, for the final out of the game, with the Mets trailing by eight. He hasn’t played enough, but there’s lots of promise here. Lots of promise.

Amed Rosario – 13/10: The Mets all-time leaders in plate appearances by shortstops, via Fangraphs:

Jose Reyes: 5680 PA
Bud Harrelson: 5083 PA
Rey Ordonez: 3216 PA
Ruben Tejada: 2185 PA
Kevin Elster: 1765 PA

If you sort by WAR, Ruben Tejada jumps to (his rightful place as) the third-best shortstop in Mets history. Ruben Tejada! I love Ruben Tejada. But Ruben Tejada should not be the third-best anything for any franchise. Amed Rosario could grow into an All-Star shortstop, which would be great, but also that would not be a very Mets thing to become.

Robert Gsellman – 14/10: Gsellman is an aggressive gum-chewer, has tattoos, and once told reporters that he didn’t care what his GM thought. There’s bad boy potential here, albeit surly-teenager-in-a-pleather-jacket bad boy potential. He might be a good pitcher. If he went by “Bob,” he’d shoot up these rankings.

Seth Lugo – 14/10: He’s pitching with a partial tear in his UCL, which gives him plenty of Mets potential. Like his career twin Gsellman, too early to make a call.

Juan Lagares – 14/10: His development has stalled after various injuries, but Lagares would still rank near the top if this list were organized by “fun.” It’s not though! This scientific list is about Metsiness, and good fielding is anti-Mets.

Travis d’Arnaud (DL) – 14/10: Played too many games to be a failed prospect in the Fernando Martinez/Lastings Milledge type. The Mets have a long line of great catchers–or like three great catchers–and catchers sometimes bloom late, but time is running out for d’Arnaud.

Paul Sewald – 15/10: Sewald was almost traded for Jason Kipnis last winter, which means a bunch of dudes in the Cleveland front office had a professional meeting about Paul Sewald, the last man in the Mets bullpen, and came to a conclusion about his value. Think about that. How boring must it be to work in a front office?

A.J. Ramos – 15/10: Being traded from the Marlins puts Ramos in the Mets footsteps of Al Leiter, Mike Piazza, and Carlos Delgado. He’s also walked 16 in 25 innings with the Mets, but no one’s noticed because he hasn’t pitched in an important game yet. Lots of potential here.

Jay Bruce – 15/10: The Mets have spend the last three seasons trying to acquire or trade away Jay Bruce, and we’re one Brandon Nimmo hot streak away from that happening again. He has serious lunchpail potential though, because he’s white and looks unathletic most of the time.

Jason Vargas (DL) – 15/10: He was part of that awful J.J. Putz trade that should have barred Omar Minaya from rejoining the Mets ever again. And yet here they both are.

Matt Harvey – 15/10: Says he admires Derek Jeter, has a shoe collection that “a lot of women would be impressed by,” and doesn’t seem to like laughing at himself–these are very Yankee traits. “Mysterious” nosebleeds, arm injuries, and being unable to get out of his own way, however, are extremely Mets traits. Mixed bag here. Harvey seems to be in denial of his Metsiness, which may itself be Metsian? Hardest player to judge here.

Asdrubal Cabrera – 16/10: A useful player I have never once felt excited about. Gains a point for once frosting his tips, a Mets tradition like no other.

Zack Wheeler – 16/10: Arm injuries and a John-Maine-esque inability to put hitters away. Will he put it together? Will he vanish only to reemerge to pitch 30 mediocre relief innings for the Orioles in six years? Only time will tell.

Michael Conforto – 16/10: Nicknamed “Scooter.” No one, including Conforto, knows why. I can’t decide if that’s very Mets.

Noah Syndergaard – 17/10: Thor has the potential to be the best pitcher in baseball, which would be Metsian, but seems just as likely to suffer a career-ending back injury while deadlifting in an attempt to impress a girl, which is also very Mets. Participates in a running online joke about having a sexual relationship with Mrs. Met, who is a human-baseball hybrid married to Mr. Met. I would pay $20 from my own wallet to make that #content stop.

Jacob deGrom – 17/10: The Mets are the franchise of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Dwight Gooden, and I suspect Jacob deGrom will be on that list when his Mets days are done. (Among Mets pitchers, deGrom already ranks eighth in WAR, fourth in ERA, and first in strikeouts-per-nine-innings.) Being a great pitcher is very Mets. But the Mets are also funny and bad, so deGrom loses points for being neither.

Steven Matz – 18/10: From Long Island. Being from Long Island, New Jersey, or Whitestone earns you a minimum of 8.

Adrian Gonzalez – 18/10: Bobby Abreu. Daisuke Matsuzaka. Willie Mays. Duke Snider. Warren Spahn. Rickey Henderson. Roberto Alomar. Orlando Hernandez. I’m forgetting more, I’m sure, but the final stop in a long career? Welcome to the Mets, Adrian Gonzalez.

Yoenis Cespedes – 18/10: An underrated breed of Met: The weirdo. It’s not always obvious because Cespedes rarely gives interviews in English, but he’s in the Turk Wendell, Jimmy Piersall, R.A. Dickey mold. The cigarette-smoking, underhand-throwing, horse-riding, possibly-not-street-legal-car-driving, pig-slaughtering, neon-armband-wearing Yoenis Cespedes has thrived with the Mets precisely because he’s a weirdo. If you read that he bred prize-winning guinea pigs, or was arrested for running an illegal street-racing ring, or was once a professional opera singer, you’d believe it, right?

Jeurys Familia – 18/10: He’s not responsible for the 2015 World Series, when he was charged with three blown saves despite allowing only two runs (one earned), but he’s partially responsible for the 2016 Wild Card loss. A talented closer who makes you nervous in huge spots? He belongs.

Jose Lobaton – 19/10: A no-hit, all-glove third-string catcher is a very Mets thing to be. Anonymity is key for this role though, so the more games Lobaton plays, the lower his score will be. Currently has frosted tips.

Jerry Blevins – 19/10: “Jerry Blevins” is a very Mets name, and lefty-specialist is a very Mets role. He’d be equally at home on a garbage team or a good one, which is also very Mets. He’s also amusing.

Todd Frazier – 20/10: Did you know he’s from Toms River, New Jersey? More lunchpail potential here as well.

Anthony Swarzak (DL) – 20/10: A relief pitcher who may spend his entire Mets career on the DL with minor injuries? The Mets!

Kevin Plawecki (DL) – 20/10:plawecki-dildo

Brandon Nimmo – 20/10: Seems to have been dropped into this universe from a parallel one where everyone drinks milkshakes at the pharmacy counter, the only curse word is “golly gee,” and all citizens have perfect knowledge of the strike zone. A favorite to take the top spot.

Hansel Robles – 20/10: An eternal optimist who believes every fly ball can be caught as long as you point at it. A true Mets legend. Appreciate him while you can.

David Wright (DL) – 20/10: The Captain. Injuries are very Mets, but David Wright’s injuries are more sad than anything. He was on a Hall of Fame career arc through 2014 and, whether or not he ever escapes the bardo, is statistically the greatest position player in franchise history. He’s 35. No one, possibly including Wright, knows whether he can even throw a baseball after all the shoulder, neck, and back surgeries. If this is indeed a long goodbye, he deserved better–a sentiment that sums up his Mets career.

Wilmer Flores

Via Keith Allison

Wilmer Flores – 21/10: The current paragon of Metsiness. Best known for once being removed from a game because he couldn’t stop crying. Learned English from Friends. Terrible fielder. Wore David Wright’s jersey in an intra-squad game. Just a delight. Carlos Gomez’s failed physical in the summer of 2015 was clearly an act of divine intervention. Flores seems just as likely to miss a base as hit a game-winning home run. May Wilmer Flores play for the Mets forever.

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New look, obviously

So as you probably noticed — unless you only read this blog in your RSS reader, as I suspect many of you do and as I do for most blogs — the layout for this particular blog has changed. And it will probably change again, very soon, as I play around with things.

Anyway, PatrickFloodBlog is my own little thing again. Well, it’s always been my own little thing. But it’s even more my own thing now. I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like* and how it’s going to be used. But it’s going to be different than it’s been for the last two years when it was an SNY blog. I’ll still be writing about the Mets, sometimes here and sometimes over on MetsBlog. And I’ll still be saying things on the Mostly Mets Podcast once a week. So, you know, that.

*I hope it looks more aesthetically pleasing than it does now. No guarantees. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Anyway, that’s a heads up . . . which I would have posted sooner, but my internet went out for a day pretty much RIGHT after the theme on PatrickFloodBlog switched. But now we’re all up to speed.

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Today in nitpicking

The Mets have scored 10 runs in their last seven home games, and — surprise — they’ve lost all seven of those games. They also lost two of three to the Brewers on the road somewhere in the middle, putting the Mets at 1-9 over their last 10 games. Also with a 66-81 record, the Mets are guaranteed their fourth consecutive losing season with one more loss. We can go on — have you seen David Wright’s second half numbers? — but enough is enough at some point.

Anyway, the one remaining good thing in this season is that the Mets resemble a competitive baseball when R.A. Dickey pitches. Or, at least, they should. Here’s the lineup the Mets ran out last night against Cliff Lee:

SS — Ruben Tejada
2B — Daniel Murphy
3B — David Wright
RF — Scott Hairston
1B — Lucas Duda
LF — Jason Bay
CF — Andres Torres
C — Mike Nickeas
P — R.A. Dickey

Terry Collins’ lineup starts out well enough. Ruben Tejada is the Mets’ best shortstop, Daniel Murphy their best second baseman, Wright their best third baseman, Hairston their best outfielder against left-handed pitching . . . and then things get weird. I generally like Terry Collins, but the idea of him setting lineups for important October baseball games make me quiver in my boots. This is, if I were wearing boots that were a little loose.

Let’s start here: Lucas Duda played first base, while Ike Davis sat. If you ignore defense, you can sort of see why Terry Collins might have done this. Duda has a career .672 OPS against lefties, while Davis has a .633 OPS. Duda was 4-for-12 against Lee with a home run, Davis was 1-for-11 — after the game, Collins said he set his lineup based on career matchup numbers against Lee. Neither’s a great hitter against a tough lefty like Cliff Lee, but all the numbers, no matter how reliable, point towards Duda as the better option of the two platoon-split sluggers.

Only you can’t ignore defense. And while Duda looked surprisingly sure-handed at first, Davis is a superior defender at first base. This may or may not make up the 40-point game in OPS, but it certainly narrows it. But it’s not like Duda can only play first — he’s a not-unbearably terrible left fielder. If the goal is to win the game and the Mets lack good right-handed options, I think Davis is the better option at first base and Duda should be out in left field. Only left field was occupied last night by . . .

Jason Bay, who owns a .492 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season (not the thing Collins was looking at) and a 4-14 career mark against Lee (probably the thing Collins was looking at), with a home run against Lee earlier this season. Do Bay’s decent-ish numbers over Lee make up for his terrible numbers against left-handed pitching this season, and for his dramatic decline in general?* He’s also a better defender than Duda, but the gap may be similar to that between Duda and Davis at first.

*No.

So the question for Terry Collins wasn’t Duda vs. Davis, it was really Davis-and-Duda vs. Duda-and-Bay, and which pair gave the Mets the best chance to win Monday with R.A. Dickey on the mound. I’m not sure Duda-and-Bay was the right answer. Though Bay did make a nice catch on a ball in left that Duda probably doesn’t catch. So what do I know.

This brings us to Torres, who is probably the best option in center against a left-handed pitcher. Torres has an .807 OPS against lefties this season and a .754 mark for his career. He’s the best defensive option, etc. Torres should play against left-handed pitchers the rest of the way. Cool? Cool.

And then we get to the catcher’s spot. Mike Nickeas has a .490 career OPS and a .511 OPS against lefties. Kelly Shoppach has a .739 career OPS and a .878 OPS against lefties. Nickeas started against Lee. I don’t see this one, so let’s try to think like Terry Collins: Nickeas was 0-for-3 against Lee . . . Shoppach was 0-for-9 . . . Jimmy Leyland. Nope, that didn’t work either. Nickeas would have to be not just a little bit better defensively, but WAY WAY better defensively for this to make sense. As in, Nickeas would have to be a seven-foot-tall robot knuckleball-grabbing vacuum cleaner to justify playing him over the better-hitting Shoppach. At least in a game the Mets are trying to win for Dickey.

Anyway, Bay and Nickeas went 1-for-5 combined — Nickeas did score the Mets only run and dropped down a surprise bunt single — while Shoppach and Davis went 1-for-2 as pinch-hitters. The Mets scored one run against Lee and Jonathan Papelbon and lost 3-1.

These are all minor points. But when the Mets are losing just about every game, that’s really all we have left: Minor points like rooting for R.A. Dickey to get more wins, a stat I don’t put much value in, so that maybe he’ll have a better shot at an award. But it’d be nice if Terry Collins ran out the Mets’ best lineups on the days R.A. Dickey is pitching. At the very least so the Mets could win a game now and then.

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So many links!

Let’s start over on Grantland, with Rany Jazayerli:

Major League Baseball before the turn of the century was like a highway with a speed limit of 80 mph. Baseball today has a speed limit of 55 mph, seat belts are mandated, and air bags are standard. What the Nationals are doing is lowering the speed limit to 40 mph and arguing that it will reduce car accidents further.

I don’t know enough about any of this to feel strongly one way or the other, but just to advocate for Satan . . . Isn’t it possible the Nationals do indeed know what they’re doing with Stephen Strasburg? (Note: I don’t actually believe this to be true. But it’s possible, right?)

It’s difficult to make compelling arguments either way about protecting pitchers because disabled list and injury data and pitch counts haven’t been tracked as closely as the regular ol’ baseball statistics. So while we can say with confidence that a pitcher with a low strikeout rate and a good ERA is likely to see his ERA rise — because we’ve seen so many pitchers over the years follow that pattern and we’ve got the numbers to prove it — we just don’t have the same amount of info about pitcher injuries.

At least, we, people of the internet, do not that much info. My guess is that if you had the time to dig through newspaper archives for a couple of weeks, months, you could make a decent historical injury database and learn a lot about what really correlates with busted arms. If you had the time and resources. And while I don’t, who’s to say teams like the Nationals aren’t having a couple of interns and a statistician dig through the archives and tape, and they come up with something a bit more conclusive?

Or they have no idea what they’re doing. That’s probably just as good a theory.

How about some critique of MLB’s TV policies?

So this sets up a strange mismatch between what MLB customers want, and what their revenues tell them to do. MLB fans want to watch their favorite team on whatever device they prefer. But MLB’s revenue stream is depending more and more on their customers NOT being able to watch their team over the internet, forcing them to watch on TV.

This all sounds logical, but I don’t actually know enough about how . . . buziness? Am I getting that right? Biz-nas? How money-for-stuff-on-a-big-scale works to comment. But it’s an interesting read about the internet and how it changes business models.

And finally this:

Oh, uh and . . . Mets. How about those Mets? Yeah, I know. I don’t know either.

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Payroll and wins

Given what the A’s, Orioles, and Rays have done this year — and perhaps more strikingly, what the Red Sox, Phillies, and Marlins have not done — I figured the 2012 numbers would follow a similar path. I was wrong; 2012 has pushed the league back to a parity level not seen in 25 years.

Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs examines this year’s relationship between dollars and wins for baseball teams. And as it turns out, this season it’s pretty much the cheapo Astros losing a bunch of games and then a lot of randomness.

Basically the Mets need better players, regardless how much/how little they cost.

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Mets at home, Mets on road

For the sake of discussion and disgust, the Mets hitting home/road splits:

Split GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Home 68 2488 2220 241 538 103 9 52 28 13 217 524 .242 .311 .367 .678
Away 72 2805 2507 336 650 151 9 65 38 19 230 565 .259 .326 .404 .730
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2012.

and their pitching home/road splits; that is, how other teams hit in Citi Field vs. elsewhere against the Mets:

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
Home 267 2581 2333 288 561 112 9 72 37 11 191 542 2.84 .240 .301 .389 .689
Away 295 2687 2398 329 628 123 18 64 46 12 216 534 2.47 .262 .325 .408 .733
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2012.

Things to note: The Mets have hit 13 fewer home runs at home than on the road, but their opponents have hit eight more home runs at Citi Field than in other parks while playing the Mets. But that’s not the weird one. In the most dramatic split, the Mets have hit 48 fewer doubles at home while their opponents have hit only nine fewer. Why don’t the Mets hit well in their home ballpark, especially doubles-wise, or at least see a less dramatic split?

Well let’s start here. The Mets have actually been one of the better offensive teams in the National League this season, but only on the road. They’re second in runs scored on the road, first in doubles, third in on-base percentage, fourth in OPS, fifth in slugging, and third in walks drawn. Take the Mets out of Citi Field, and they’re a top-three, top-five offensive team. Ike Davis is having an All-Star season (.259/.330/.563), but only as a road player.

Stick the Mets in Citi Field, and that all goes away. They’re dead-last in the NL in runs scored at home. They’re 15th in on-base percentage, 15th in OPS, 13th in slugging, 14th in doubles and 12th in home runs. David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda have been above-average hitters at home . . . and then the six other Mets with 100 plate appearances at home have sub-.700 OPS marks.

So how do the same group of players show up as a top-three offensive team in one group of ballparks, and then a bottom-three team in their home ballpark?

That’s a serious question. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with the Mets, or how a team can hit so well on the road and also be this awful at home. The simplest answer is that Citi Field suppresses run scoring in ways that go beyond the distance of the outfield walls. Maybe it’s wind patterns caused by the design of the park. Maybe they caught an unfair number of aces at home this season. I honestly don’t have a better answer, and I’m not sure the Mets do either.

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No play for Mr. Gray?

The result is visible: with each passing Mets broadcast on SNY, the mustache has grown considerably grayer. Sometimes the mustache is more interesting than the game.

“I’m not totally happy with the gray,” he said. “It’s something I have to get used to. I have more people, on the female side, who tell me they prefer it gray.”

So, he must have surmised, there would be some play for Mr. Gray.

The first and probably only time a sentence in the New York Times caused me to laugh out loud. Via the Internet.

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