Wednesday catch-all thread (1/20/21)

It’s been an eventful two weeks for the Mets, book-ended with the big trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco at the beginning and the firing of Jared Porter at the end. In the middle was the deadline to file for arbitration, the start date to sign international free agents and a trade for Joey Lucchesi. After a long period where fans were waiting for something to happen, it was nice to have this action-packed fortnight.

With all of the Mets news, there’s been a lot of traffic, which for the most part has been great. Unfortunately, it’s also meant an influx of dumb comments, most of which didn’t see the light of day. To combat this, some point later today it will be necessary to register and log in to comment at the site.

If you need to register, you can do it here. You will need an active email account, as a confirmation message that requires a reply will be sent to you.

Registration

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Wednesday catch-all thread (1/13/21)

In the recent post on new Met Carlos Carrasco, it was mentioned that 13 Mets pitchers have combined to produce 27 seasons with an fWAR of 5.0 or greater. Here’s the list:

1971 Tom Seaver (70, 75, 73, 76, 68, 72, 74)
2018 Jacob deGrom (19)
1985 Dwight Gooden (84, 90, 88)
1974 Jon Matlack
2013 Matt Harvey
1991 David Cone (88, 90)
2005 Pedro Martinez
2016 Noah Syndergaard
1990 Frank Viola
1974 Jerry Koosman (69)
1994 Bret Saberhagen
2008 Johan Santana
1988 Bob Ojeda

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2020&month=0&season1=1962&ind=1&team=25&rost=0&age=&filter=&players=0&startdate=&enddate=

Checked the Astros, who joined the league the same year as the Mets, to see how their pitchers have done and it’s very similar. They have had 25 seasons of a pitcher turning in a 5.0 or greater fWAR, including two by Mike Cuellar in the mid-60s. It’s easy to forget that Cuellar spent several year in Houston before being traded to the Orioles prior to the 1969 season. Looking at the roster of the 1968 Astros, things could have been a lot different if their GM (Spec Richardson) didn’t, well, screw it up so bad. In addition to Cuellar, he dealt Rusty Staub, Joe Morgan and John Mayberry. Plus he lost Nate Colbert in the expansion draft. That’s a Cy Young Award winner (Cuellar,) a two-time MVP (Morgan,) a 4X All-Star (Staub,) a 2X All-Star and a guy who finished 2nd in the MVP (Mayberry) and a guy who tied for 8th in most HR between 1969-1973 (Colbert.) And the Astros essentially got a couple of league average seasons in return for those five. And Jack Billingham, who went in the Morgan deal, didn’t do too bad, either, once he left Houston.

Wednesday catch-all thread (1/6/21)

It felt good to write “21” at the end of the date in the headline.

Without a doubt, 2020 ended on an up note for the Mets. Still, we’re all ready to turn the page and nothing would solidify that more than a signing of Trevor Bauer or George Springer. Sure, they’ve signed two free agents from other teams already but those are the type of signings we’ve seen in recent years from the Wilpon-led Mets. We all want to see the home run signing.

Speaking of home runs – a guy known for hitting a few of them posted this on his Twitter account yesterday:

May widespread vaccinations among the people allow fans back into Citi Field and ballparks all across the U.S. and Canada this year.

Wednesday catch-all thread (12/30/20)

Realistically, what free agents do you see the Mets signing – and when? The Mets have roughly $50 million to spend and Sandy Alderson is already on record saying it makes more sense to be in the free agent market, where you only have to give up money and not prospects. It’s hard to imagine the Mets not wanting clarity on the DH issue before moving forward. On the flip side, their wants can’t trump what the market dictates. It seems like James McCann was ready to sign, and had a team ready to sign him, which forced the Mets’ hand. George Springer makes a ton of sense if the DH is in the NL in 2021. Trevor Bauer fills their biggest need if they are willing to pay a starting pitcher as much or possibly more money than Jacob deGrom. It’s unlikely they can sign both without trading a salary away and they just don’t have a bunch of those. No one’s taking Jeurys Familia, which pretty much leaves Michael Conforto. Could they get enough back to make trading him worthwhile? It seems an avenue worth exploring but it doesn’t seem likely to end with a yes answer.

My opinion is the Mets could look at a CF, a SP and a RP or possibly 2 SP and a RP from free agency. Maybe that’s Springer, Jake Odorizzi and Liam Hendriks. Or possibly it’s Bauer, Taijuan Walker and Justin Wilson. My opinion is that it’s Springer or bust for center field. A lot of people are stumping for Jackie Bradley Jr. but his offense + defense in CF is not likely to exceed what Brandon Nimmo gives you there. So, why pay eight figures for that?

As for trades, that seems only to happen in a big way if they strike out on both Springer and Bauer. That Nolan Arenado contract is obscene but assuming his shoulder checks out it seems like some kind of salary relief could be baked into the trade, whether that was getting Robinson Cano to waive his no-trade clause or getting Colorado to take Familia and Dellin Betances along with sending money. Cano, J.D. Davis and a C-level prospect should be the ballpark. The last thing you want to do is repeat Brodie Van Wagenen’s mistake of trading top prospects for an old guy. But this type of trade, regardless of who the acquisition would be, seems to be a low-single-digits probability.

Wednesday catch-all thread (12/23/20)

Yesterday, Joel Sherman reported that the Mets were in on Tomoyuki Sugano, the longtime ace of the Yomiuri Giants. He’s likely an SP3 in the majors and might be a decent alternative to Trevor Bauer, should the Mets prefer George Springer as their big free agent acquisition. Sugano has a solid MLB fastball but it’s his curve that makes him stand out.

For fans itchy for the Mets to make a move, perhaps the best thing about Sugano is that he comes with a deadline. According to Sherman:

As part of an agreement between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, a posted player has one month from his posting to sign or he returns to play in Japan. So, a contract with Sugano must be completed by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, which means an agreement must be in place probably several days before that to provide time for physical review of the pitcher.

What do we call him, though? There used to be a pitcher named Tomo Ohla, so maybe it’s Tomo. But I’m hoping it’s actually the second half of his first name that becomes his nickname. Undoubtedly, that’s because former “Card of the Week” author Doug Parker has a cat named Yuki. Not sure how good Doug’s meme game is but it seems like the possibilities would be endless.

Wednesday catch-all thread (12/16/20)

It was a tale of two halves for J.D. Davis in 2020. In his first 29 games of the year, Davis had an .829 OPS while in the final 26 games he had a .701 OPS. What happened in the middle? In the August 29 game against the Yankees, Davis was drilled in the hip by Aroldis Chapman. Did that change anything for Davis? Maybe, maybe not. What we can say for sure is that in the first half, we saw Davis with a .348 BABIP but in the latter split, he had a .298 mark. Prior to the start of 2020, we wondered what would happen to Davis if the hits stopped falling in for him. We got to see that in September of last season and it wasn’t pretty.

His ISOs were somewhat similar in both halves last year, with a .151 mark before Chapman and a .136 after getting hit. If we had seen a giant drop in power production, it would be easier to blame things on getting plunked.

We’re riding a roller coaster when it comes to Davis. He was brought in to be a lefty masher and then he hit righties, too, so we counted on him being a starter. Than he disappointed in that role and almost no one is counting on him for 600 ABs in 2021. Is there another twist remaining in the Davis sage? Or should we just be content for a 250 PA role for him?

Wednesday catch-all thread (12/9/20)

Sean Gilmartin was a pretty good reliever for the Mets in 2015. His career didn’t go so hot after that season, though. Essentially, he’s a footnote in team history. If you remember him at all, it’s likely for his ugly sock game. He wore stirrups which went up to his knee caps. It looked like he lost a bet and his buddy made him wear them that way.

Gilmartin made the news recently for a non-baseball reason. Turns out he’s married to White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

Wednesday catch-all thread (12/2/20)

The Mets made their first significant free agent signing of the Steve Cohen era, getting reliever Trevor May on a two-year deal believed to be for around $15 million total. May has great strikeout rates but his overall performance last year was not all that special. In 2019, when he worked with current Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, May had a 2.94 ERA, nearly a run lower than his ERA in 2020. But May’s FIPs were nearly identical in the two seasons, as he had a 3.73 FIP in 2019 and a 3.62 mark last year. Regardless of which number you want to focus on, he’s likely an improvement over most of the relievers on the team. Mets relievers had a 4.60 ERA last year.

The Mets have a full pen but it’s not necessarily packed with shut down relievers. The signing certainly doesn’t bode well for Robert Gsellman, who seems more likely than ever to be non-tendered later today. Perhaps they’ll keep Gsellman for Triple-A depth but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he’s on the Opening Day roster. Here’s how the Mets’ pen looks right now, with a couple of locks and a whole bunch of questions:

Locks
Edwin Diaz
Trevor May

Questions
Seth Lugo – Starter or reliever?
Jeurys Familia – How long will they tolerate him not throwing strikes?
Chasen Shreve – Seems likely to be tendered but you never know
Dellin Betances – Can he recover velocity or is he just your average junkballer at this point of his career?
Miguel Castro – Gave up a lot to get him but stuff outweighs his results
Brad Brach – Guaranteed contract but not enough to guarantee him a roster spot
Drew Smith – It was only 7 IP but a 6.43 ERA is still ugly
Steven Matz – Starter or reliever?

And what about Justin Wilson? His numbers were down from 2019 but he pitched better than those indicate and Sandy Alderson does like his lefty relievers. Will they look to re-sign him?

If the Mets carry an 8-man pen, that means three of the guys listed above won’t be here for Opening Day. Smith will likely be one of those but who are the other two?

Sunday catch-all thread (11/29/20)

Reports have come out that the Phillies lost $145 million during the past season. Maybe it’s true, although my advice is to take that number with a gigantic grain of salt. According to Forbes, the Phillies in 2019 had $108 million in gate receipts, which includes club seats. Forbes also shows the team with $73 million in operating income in the last season with fans. How many hoops do you have to jump through to get to a difference of over $200 million when player salaries alone were about one-third of what they were scheduled to be?

Maybe the Mets should help them out and offer to take Zack Wheeler back.

Wednesday catch-all thread (11/18/20)

While everyone has visions of Theo Epstein as the Mets’ new President of Baseball Operations (PoBO) – dancing in their head, there’s another candidate out there who was instrumental in two different organizations winning the World Series yet no one will touch him with a 10-foot pole. That guy is Jeff Luhnow, who’s better known for being suspended for a year for his alleged role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal rather than for helping to lead the Cardinals and Astros to championships.

Perhaps the Mets – with their brief ties to Carlos Beltran – are the last organization that could gamble on Luhnow. But instead of viewing this as an appeal to hire Luhnow, let’s proceed with the idea of examining his candidacy as a thought experiment. If you were going to draw up qualifications for the PoBO, what would you want and how many boxes would Luhnow check? Here are some thoughts:

Quality MLB Experience – no more rogue Brodie Van Wagenen hires
Someone significantly younger than Sandy Alderson, a person who could be around for 20 years or more
An individual open to receiving information from traditional and non-traditional sources
Someone who others want to work for – no sense hiring a genius with zero people skills

According to Wikipedia, Luhnow was one of the first waves of non-traditional baseball hires after the Moneyball A’s. He joined the Cardinals in 2003, after working as an engineer, management consultant and technology entrepreneur. He was looked at suspiciously at first but no one could argue with the results. He helped build the Cardinals’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and beefed up their presence in Venezuela. In 2004, he was promoted to VP of Player Procurement and in 2006, he was named VP of Scouting & Player Development. His first three drafts resulted in 24 players to reach the majors, the highest total in the majors, including ones who played a big role in the team’s 2011 World Series victory.

Following the 2011 season, Luhnow was hired by the Astros and was joined by many of his former colleagues, who made the move to Houston with him. By 2015, the Astros were considered among the best front offices in the game, with ESPN saying this:

No team has fewer wins than the Astros over the past 10 seasons, but the team’s commitment to analytics is second to none. After the 2011 season, GM Jeff Luhnow brought former NASA analyst Sig Mejdal with him from the Cardinals, and they have put together a unique collection of data scientists, with colorful titles to boot: director of decision sciences, medical risk manager and analyst, and mathematical modeler.

Not only did the Astros commit a full-time position to medical analysis but also they brought in PITCHf/x expert Mike Fast (a former engineer) to focus on that data source.

snip

All signs point to the Astros being the mystery team that purchased a Cray supercomputer last spring, allowing for fast computation of large amounts of data, and they are learning how to translate their analytical prowess into realized gains on the field. Their use of defensive shifts evolved through back-and-forth between the field and front office staff, culminating in the Astros deploying the shift more often than any other team in baseball last season. Without a doubt, the Astros are all-in.

And you probably know the story from there. Everything was rosy until the sign-stealing scandal broke, which ended up with manager A.J. Hinch and Luhnow both being suspended for a year. But now, Luhnow is saying he was made a scapegoat and that his punishment was the direct result of a negotiation between MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Astros owner Jim Crane. Luhnow is suing to recoup $22 million in lost wages.

Luhnow proclaims his innocence and it’s impossible for an outsider to know what really happened. But it’s not hard to believe his version of events. Crane not only didn’t receive any blame under Manfred’s investigation, he was actively distanced from the cheating scandal and was allowed to “keep” the 2017 title. And on top of that he gets out from a $22 million expense. It sure worked out nice for Crane, didn’t it?

It makes me think of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” the song where he examines the plight of former boxer Rubin Carter, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

“How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed
To live in a land
Where justice is a game

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink Martinis
And watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha
In a 10-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell”

There’s a huge difference between murder and stealing baseball signs. But it’s certainly possible that Luhnow is being framed much like Carter was. And if there wasn’t the cheating scandal surrounding him, he’d be one of the most desirable candidates around for PoBo, for the Mets or any other team.

It’s just a thought.

Wednesday catch-all thread (11/11/20)

In another lifetime, my byline used to be over a bunch of prep and collegiate stories. Doing the games was a lot of fun but interacting with parents and super fans was mostly a drag. If you didn’t write glowing things about their children or their favorites, you’d be accused of bias and it didn’t matter how many times you told them that the only thing you rooted for was a good story to tell.

So, I totally get the “story” angle. One story we’re being told is how Steve Cohen grew up a Mets fan and now he’s going to spend a big chunk of his fortune into bringing Mets fans a championship. It’s a nice little story and it’s a long way from the last ownership story, which was how Fred Wilpon grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and went to school with Sandy Koufax. It’s a story that prompted our own Charlie Hangley to remark, “The Wilpons love a team they don’t own and own a team they don’t love.”

But it was a little depressing listening to the introductory news conference yesterday and hearing veteran reporters ask Cohen to recount what his favorite Mets memory was and if he hated the Yankees. They had that particular “aw shucks” story front and center in their mind and so what if you only got to ask a question or two, this is what they were going to ask. If they had the chance to ask George Washington one question, they’d ask about the cherry tree. Or to give it a Mets slant – if you got to ask Tom Seaver one question, would you ask him if Lou Brock really asked him to fetch a Coke at the ’67 All-Star game?

Sure, there were questions he wasn’t going to answer. Cohen wasn’t going to reveal the exact payroll for the upcoming season or list who his top offseason free agent target was. But I’d like to think that those who got paid to do this for a living would come up with something more insightful than asking Cohen about his thoughts as a kid about the Yankees.

One might make the case that since this was an introductory news conference, it was the perfect time to do a back story on how Cohen came to be a Mets fan. But hasn’t that story already been told over and over again in the mainstream media? Haven’t we been reading variants of that story since Cohen’s first attempt to buy the team nearly a year ago? Was there anyone with an interest in the Mets who didn’t know that story? If Cohen had some deep hatred for, say, Bobby Richardson – wouldn’t we know that by now?

Here are some questions off the top of my head that would be more interesting:

What are Cohen’s feelings about Citi Field?
Does he plan to be a regular at the park and talk to the media, like Nelson Doubleday, or be more reclusive like the Wilpons?
Does he know David Einhorn (seems like all NY billionaires should know each other) and did he speak to him about his attempt to purchase the club?
Were there any pre-conditions on the approval of the purchase of the club to be a hawk in upcoming labor issues with the players?
Since Old Timers’ Day is a go – can we make it so that Ron Darling pitches to Keith Hernandez in the game?

It just seems to me that each and every person reading this, if you spent 30 minutes thinking about things to ask the new Mets owner – you could come up with a dozen questions better than anything to do with the Yankees. And wind up with better stories, too.

Wednesday catch-all thread (11/4/20)

A lot of people are coming up with trade packages for Francisco Lindor. Yesterday, SNY modeled a trade based on what the Dodgers paid for Mookie Betts. Here’s an fWAR comparison of Betts and Lindor the last five years:

Betts – 3.0, 6.6, 10.4, 5.3, 8.3 = 33.6
Lindor – 1.7, 4.4, 7.6, 5.7, 5.5 = 24.9

It’s important to note that Lindor is over a year younger and plays a tougher position. But we’ve seen Betts be the best player on two teams that won the World Series.

If we multiply Lindor’s 2020 fWAR total by 2.7 we see he played at a 4.6 clip. So, in four of the last five years, his play has been between 4.4 and 5.7 which is really good, but again it’s not as good as Betts. Leaving out his MVP season of 2018, Betts has been between 5.3 and 8.3 in four of the last five years. Betts has three seasons in the last five better than Lindor’s best. When forecasts come out for 2021, we should expect to see Betts be valued somewhere around 2.5 fWAR higher than Lindor.

To be clear, Lindor would be a big upgrade over what the Mets used at SS in 2020. The question is if you want to pay market rate to acquire that upgrade and then pay market rate in salary going forward. Maybe the answer is yes. But it doesn’t seem a slam dunk to me.