Scott Hairston’s year in perspective, Niese’s strong finish, Hampson vs LHP

Let’s focus on two Mets relievers whose contracts are up and the team will have to make a decision about re-signing. In this “what have you done for me lately” world, let’s concentrate on what they did down the stretch. To avoid preconceived notions, let’s call one of them “Smith” and the other one “Jones.” Here are their numbers the final months:

Smith – 25.1 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 10 BB, 23 Ks, 1 HR, 1.78 ERA, .148/.242/.182
Jones – 28.2 IP, 17 H, 9 ER, 6 BB, 22 Ks, 4 HR, 2.83 ERA, .172/222/.323

Both Smith and Jones were very good down the stretch. Smith did a slightly better job with strikeouts and HR allowed while Jones threw more innings and did a better job with walks. If this was the only information you had on which pitcher to sign, which one would you choose? You could make a case for either one.

What if you then learned that Smith was two years younger than Jones? What if you learned that in 2012 Jones cost four times more than Smith and was likely to get a pay raise while Smith could potentially get a pay cut – would that change your mind?

This “game” was presented to make Smith look as good as possible but it also included a time span where Jones was very good, too. Of course by now you’ve probably figured out that Smith is Manny Acosta and Jones is Jon Rauch. This is just something to think about for those who lobby to re-sign Rauch while also advocating that the team part ways with Acosta.

HAIRSTON’S YEAR IN PERSEPCTIVE – Not many of us predicted Scott Hairston to turn in the year that he did in 2012. But how good was it in team history? Among players with between 200 and 400 PA, Hairston’s 117 OPS+ ranked tied for 34th-best in franchise history. Here are the top three:

#3 – Willie Mays, 1972 (145 OPS+) – Yep, Mays did nothing but embarrass himself when he was with the Mets.
#2 – Tim Teufel, 1987 (153 OPS+) – If only the pitchers could have stayed healthy in 1987 …
#1 – Bobby Bonilla, 1995 (160 OPS+) – This list was designed for part-time players but Bonilla makes it because he was traded at the deadline. Remember who the Mets received in return? The haul was Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa, with Ochoa being the key piece. Ochoa was ranked as the 35th-best prospect in the majors by Baseball America prior to the 1995 season. For a point of reference, the same publication had Matt Harvey ranked 54th coming into 2012.

NIESE BETTER THAN NICE DOWN THE STRETCH – The knock on Jonathon Niese coming into the season was that he fell apart at the end of the season. In 2010, he started out with an 8-5 record and a 3.33 ERA in his first 23 games but finished with a 1-5 mark and a 7.57 ERA in his final seven games. In 2011, it was a 9-7, 3.53 start and a 2-4, 6.46 finish.

But 2012 saw him go 6-4 with a 2.57 ERA down the stretch. Three of his four losses were Quality Starts, including one where he allowed just 1 ER in 6 IP. Yet you read elsewhere about how Niese still needs to turn the corner…

JORDANY BETANCOURT – Many people wanted the Mets to give Jordany Valdespin more playing time down the stretch in what was a lost season. But it’s hard to blame Terry Collins for not bestowing more starts on a guy who got exposed with additional playing time. In 135 P A as a starter, Valdespin had a .254/.288/.373 line. That .661 OPS would look right at home on the back of Yuniesky Betancourt’s baseball card. Now, Betancourt played eight years in the majors but looks like he’s reached the end of the line, as even the Royals gave up on him last year. When Dayton Moore’s organization sours of the toolsy player, where is there left to go?

AN UNHERALDED LEFTY? – We all know how Collins loves his lefty relievers. So it’s a little surprising that Justin Hampson did not get more love for his performance in 2012. In 23 PA versus LHB this year in the majors, Hampson posted a .150/.227/.150 line. As long as you ignore the .883 OPS posted by RHB, that looks outstanding. While Robert Carson and Josh Edgin received all of the accolades, Hampson showed the makings of a fine LOOGY for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

WHAT MET DO YOU WANT TO SEE UP WITH RUNNERS ON BASE? – I’ll give you five guesses to name the guy you think led the team in driving home available runners on base when he came to the plate. Go ahead, pick your guys.

OK, here’s the chart of the top Others Batted In (OBI%) among Mets players in 2012 who came to bat with 100 runners on base.

17.21 Ronny Cedeno
16.90 David Wright
15.82 Daniel Murphy
15.00 Jordany Valdespin
14.99 Ike Davis
14.19 Lucas Duda
14.02 Scott Hairston
13.60 Justin Turner
13.28 Andres Torres
12.73 Mike Baxter
12.07 Kirk Nieuwenhuis
10.81 Ruben Tejada
9.26 Josh Thole
9.02 Jason Bay

You didn’t guess Bay or Thole, did you?

25 comments for “Scott Hairston’s year in perspective, Niese’s strong finish, Hampson vs LHP

  1. NormE
    October 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Brian, your point on Cedeno made me think about his role with the Mets. I know that he will probably play somewhere else next year and I think he will be missed. For a budget-limited team the money spent on Cedeno might be better spent on a C or OF, but his insurance value cannot be dismissed. An injury to SS or 2B will expose the Mets’ lack of depth. Turner lacks range to fill-in at SS. Even at 2B he has more value coming off the bench than playing regularly. It seems that middle infield is an area that calls for a ML proven back-up. I guess there will be less expensive alternatives to Cedeno, but the Mets could wind up with a lot worse. Cedeno seemed to understand his role with the Mets and did a lot to enhance his value.

    • October 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks Norm – I pretty much agree with everything you said. My only nit would be that I’m okay with Turner as a fill-in, although he’s not someone I would want playing there a month at a time.

  2. Name
    October 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Wow. So even though Rauch got very homer prone the last 2 weeks, he still had a 2.83 ERA the last month, not too shabby. Unfortunely, i think he will be looking for a raise over that 3.5 million he got last season. We seem to have bad luck when we give out contracts to 2 similar players. In 09? We gave Igarashi a 2-yr deal while we only gave Takahashi a 1 yr deal. This winter, we have Francisco the 2 year deal while we only have Rauch the 1 yr deal. Acosta should definatley be resigned/tendered a contract.

    Now that i think about it more, Betancourt seems like a great comparison for JV(at this time in his career). Let’s hope Hudgens can turn JV around with his “patient philosophy”

    I certainly noticed Hampson during the stretch(because Terry actually used him unlike the 1st stint and in appropriate times and lengths as well). He can be had for the min i think, so he could be LOOGY and Edgin could be 7/8th inning guy to start out next year.

    I have been looking for a OBI stat for a while now. Where did you find those numbers Brian? And does OBI include all runners on base or only runners in scoring position?
    Also, i didn’t get your point about Thole/Bay… are you praising them or critisizing them…

    • October 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      I didn’t word it very elegantly but the time period for the Acosta/Rauch is longer than a month. Acosta it’s for his recall (7/24) until season’s end and for Rauch it’s from 6/28 until the end of the season.

      You can get OBI numbers here – http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/RBIPCT.py

      As for Thole/Bay, I started off the piece saying I’d give you 5 guesses to see who led the Mets. Whenever you do that, you’re basically saying it’s not the guy you think, so you should guess someone off beat. But Thole/Bay were just as bad as you would think. I hope no one guessed them.

      • Name
        October 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        Ok. So looks like OBI includes runners not in scoring position. Too bad they don’t have a stat the shows you percentage of batting in runners in scoring position.

        And thanks for clarifying the Bay/Thole thing. I get it now.

  3. Metsense
    October 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Rauch is a little too expensive for my taste. Acosta was not picked up on waivers, still has a 6.46 ERA and I don’t see many teams running to sign him. That is a reason to non tender him and keep him off the roster to protect someone from the Rule 5.
    Hairston should be re signed and be the starting left fielder (or the starting right fielder if a trade brings a left fielder). The Mets don’t have the resources to pay someone better than Hairston and they don’t have anyone AAA ready within the next two years .If it takes giving Hairston a two year deal then they will have a better than average left or right fielder at an affordable cost. At this point they have no OF better than average on the roster.
    Niese has quietly established himself as a solid #2 starter.
    I would really like the Mets to resign Cedeno for the reasons NormE stated but Cedeno dumped his agent this month because last year the agent didn’t find him a starting job.
    Say Hey, Willie Mays! ( I cherished him coming to the Mets)

  4. Name
    October 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Rauch at 3-5 million would be pretty decent, but alas the Mets are cash-strapped right now and so we have to deal with fact that Rauch is too expensive.
    Didn’t you see the stats that Brian just posted about Acosta? That didn’t sway you at all Metsense? Used correctly(Fire TC), he can still be an above-average relief pitcher and a cheap one at that(should cost less than 1 million)
    Hairston is in the same category that Rauch is in but he has a bigger bust potential than him. I’m still praying they can make Bourn to NY happen.
    I’m still not that big of a fan of Cedeno. I don’t hate him, but i don’t love him. Maybe they should give Quint another shot since he’s cheap?

    • Metsense
      October 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      It isn’t that I don’t like Acosta, I just think a prospect protected from Rule 5 is more valuable. I also think he will still be around in January at the same or lower price if they want to take him back.

      • Name
        October 13, 2012 at 12:24 am

        I don’t think the Mets have to protect many Rule 5′s this year?
        According to my roster calculations:(not including Acosta)
        Ramirez, Lewis, Torres will definately be dropped.
        Rauch, Young, Shoppach, Cedeno, Hairston, Hampson, one of Nickeas/Rob Johnson have good chances to be drop/reach FA
        Gee/Santana have to readded to 40-man.
        That’s 32 right now.
        And we need to add 1 more backup IF, 2 more OF, plus at least 1 pitchers. So that’s 36. Do we need to protect more than 4 prospects? I think we have enough room for Acosta but i see your point about Acosta being still available in January.

        • October 13, 2012 at 6:21 am

          Fortunately, Chris Walendin has done the heavy lifting. Here’s a list of players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

          http://tpgmets.blogspot.com/p/rule-5.html

          • Name
            October 13, 2012 at 11:53 am

            Ok, so that’s many more than i thought. Wheeler is a no-brainer add. Gorski and Tovar are good possibilties? Anyone else i’m missing?
            Still, i think Acosta is useful enough to retain.

            • October 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

              Despite it being something of a long shot he’d get picked & stick for a full year on the 25-man, I’d probably protect Aderlin Rodriguez. Jefry Marte’s another guy who could get protected. And there could always be a surprise selection (like when they protected Armando Rodriguez in 2010).

              • Mack Ade
                October 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

                Chris:

                Aderlin Rodriguez is well recognized around the scouting community as having a future major league bat. He really needs to be protected.

                Chris, wasn’t the Hampson move a little early?

                • October 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

                  Yeah, that was my understanding of Rodriguez, too. At just half a season in high A-ball, it’s tempting to roll the dice & try to buy another year of control if he doesn’t get selected. But like I said I’d probably protect him. The best true power bat in full season ball by a healthy margin, isn’t he? And still just 20.

                  As for Hampson, yeah, I was kinda expecting them to give him a shot to win a spot in Spring Training. But if they had already decided that they weren’t going to do that, letting him go now is a fine move. It gives the player an early start at looking for a job elsewhere. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here, but I think it’s a good message to send to other minor league FA types. If we aren’t going to use you, we’ll give you the best chance to find your next gig. Or maybe he’s looking at something overseas and requested that if they weren’t going to keep him up that they let him go. I don’t really know.

                  So ultimately, on Hampson, yes I disagree with the move ’cause I’d have kept him on for Spring Training (the more arms in camp the better for this team). BUT given that they weren’t planning on doing that, I’m fine with the timing.

  5. October 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Trying to build a bull pen is a crap shot. Do you sign a player for previous experience or one who you feel is about to mature and get the job done? To use ERA as a statistic for a reliever is unfair. How many runners did he inherit and allow to score would be a better barometer. You could have a 1.78 era while the runners you inherit score and go to the previous pitchers ERA. Let’s see if the Mets try too sign Michael Bourn and eliminate 2 problem areas center field and lead off. Don’t re-sign Rauch and apply that money towards Bourn. I enjoyed reading your article Brian.I believe the Mets will try to sign 1 high quality free agent this summer.

    • Name
      October 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      I agree Pete. Bullpen pieces are so fickle and can come from anywhere(failed SP prospects, journeymen minor leaguers, former position players).
      However, the money not signing Rauch won’t even make a tiny dent into what it will cost to get Bourn.

      • October 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm

        I agree. I was thinking maybe we could back load his contract. Say 45 million for 3 years with 8 million for the first year. That would leave you room for arbitration money for Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy. Look to package Duda to the an American league team in need of a DH-first baseman.

        • Name
          October 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

          I wish Bourn could be had for 45 million. Reports that i’ve heard is that he’s looking for 80-90 million. He’s a Scott Boras client so he’s gonna try to go for every single penny he can.

  6. Mack Ade
    October 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Justin Hampson was removed from the 40-man today and he is now a free agent.

    I guess 1.30 in 18-appearances wasn’t enough.

    • October 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Making 40-man room for Wheeler…

      • October 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

        Maybe, but they don’t need to make those types of transactions yet. They had 44 guys on the 40-man + 60-day DL and 7 impending free agents (Rauch, Young, Byrdak, Hairston, Cedeno, Shoppach, and Ramirez). They also have Pelfrey, Torres, Lewis, Acosta, and Johnson as arb eligibles, most or all of whom are going to be nontendered. They likely won’t add guys to protect them from the Rule 5 draft until the deadline (November 20th for guys under team control like Wheeler; earlier November for impending minor league free agents).

        My guess is that they decided they weren’t going to tender him a contract, so they figured they’d do him a favor and make him a free agent ahead of schedule. As to why they made that decision now rather than giving him a shot in Spring Training I don’t know. Of course it could be something else entirely.

  7. Mack Ade
    October 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Either that, or a sign of things to come.

    Let’s see what happens the rest of the week and I’m going to write about it on Sunday.

  8. Mack Ade
    October 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Charles:

    I checked the list… there was only 39 guys (minus the DL players) on the list BEFORE Hampson was released…

    Am I missing something in my old age?

  9. norme
    October 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Mack, the only thing you’re missing in your “old age” is youth.

    • Mack Ade
      October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      thanks Norm… I especially needed that today

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