David Wright in the WBC, how you say d’Arnaud, Alderson’s WFAN interview

It is time for another round of the World Baseball Classic. This one is going to have a different feel for the Mets, who have been quite well-represented in previous tournaments. While all rosters have yet to be finalized, perhaps David Wright will be the only player from the major league roster to be involved in 2013. In the last go round the Mets had 17 players, including Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, J.J. Putz and Jose Reyes.

In case you blocked it from your mind, the last WBC occurred in 2009. You might recall that 2009 did not go too well for the Mets. Each of the five players listed above who participated in the WBC ended up on the disabled list, which was a marked difference from the good health that the Mets enjoyed in 2008. That year Beltran, Delgado, Reyes and Wright played in 639 out of 648 games. In 2009 the same quartet played in just 287 games.

It is easy to chalk up everything bad that happens to the WBC, but we should keep in mind that it is mostly conjecture. Plus, we cannot discount another area of potential karma to the dismal year that was 2009. That’s the year the Mets moved into Citi Field. Still, I’m relieved that Wright will be the only key representative there for the Mets. Ex-Met R.A. Dickey will be there, too. Even though he’s no longer on the team, no doubt all Mets fans will still be pulling for him in 2013.

ENCOURAGING NEWS FOR DUDA ON INJURY FRONT – One of the tough things in the offseason is the relative lack of news on how injured players are faring. The Mets and their fans can breathe a little sigh of relief with the news regarding Lucas Duda, who broke his right wrist after falling while moving a TV. Not only is Duda going to be fine, he is going to report to Spring Training early to get some extra work done with hitting coach Dave Hudgens. Many people are less than thrilled with the work of Hudgens but there’s no doubt he deserves credit for his work with Ike Davis last year. Perhaps he can work his magic this year with Duda and coax a big HR year out of the 6’4, 255-pounder.

METS AVOID ARBITRATION WITH PARNELL – The Mets try their best to avoid arbitration with their players and they have already come to terms with one of their three potential cases when they agreed to a one-year, $1.7 million deal with Bobby Parnell. Earlier in the offseason, it was projected that Parnell would earn $1.5 million, so this deal is right in line with earlier estimates. Parnell took a big step forward last year and a similar type of season in 2013 could leave him in line for the closer’s job the following year once Frank Francisco’s contract runs out.

SO, HOW EXACTLY DO YOU PRONOUNCE D’ARNAUD? – The New York Post’s Kevin Kernan spent some time earlier this month with newly-acquired Travis d’Arnaud and filed a nice three-page profile on the Mets’ catcher of the future. Among other tidbits that we learned about the youngster was that we should pronounce his name “Dar-No.” All of this time I’ve been reading it in my head as D-Are-Naud. Then again, I didn’t take French in school…

QUOTES FROM ALDERSON’S APPEARANCE ON WFAN – Sandy Alderson was a guest on Mike Francesa’s radio show Thursday and Eric Simon of Amazin’ Avenue did the dirty work of listening and transcribing the interview. Alderson generally comes across well whenever he speaks with a member of the media and Simon transcribing it meant I didn’t have to listen to Francesa. The whole thing is well worth reading but I want to highlight two things that stood out to me. First is Alderson on center field:

Alderson: … Center field right now is probably [Kirk] Nieuwenhuis and a player we obtained from the A’s, Colin Cowgill, who I think will be an interesting player to watch in spring training.
Francesa: What would you say about him?
Alderson: Sort of a hard-nosed, dirt player and a little bit of speed. Should be very good defensively, hits left-handed pitching pretty well. I think he’s kind of an under-the-radar addition who might be fun to watch.

The other thing that struck me in the interview was talk about signing Scott Hairston. Alderson indicated that it was not just about money with Hairston but also about playing time. Alderson is hesitant to sign Hairston in part because he wants to be fair about playing time and at this point the Mets cannot guarantee how much that might be because they are still working on other things. Here’s the relevant passage:

Francesa: Okay. We understand you can’t talk about those, but you’re still in the mix for some other moves that could be considered bigger moves in the outfield?
Alderson: We are, yeah. Now, how would I handicap the possibility of those happening? It’s difficult.
Francesa: You want to take a swing at it?
Alderson: A handicap? Probably 50-50. That doesn’t really tell you anything, but…
Francesa: Well, it’s better than 90-10.
Alderson: Yeah, it think it’s definitely better than 90-10. I think 50-50 is a more accurate estimate because there are a couple of things going on. They don’t both have to happen. So yeah, 50-50.

Thanks again to Simon for transcribing the entire interview. Go to his site and read it.

16 comments for “David Wright in the WBC, how you say d’Arnaud, Alderson’s WFAN interview

  1. January 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    It is interesting how you give a hitting coach credit for a player who has a natural home run swing. I don’t think hitting coaches can teach that. To give him credit is just ridiculous that you seem to think that he coaxed it out of Davis as if by some voodoo magic he inspired Ike to perform. If you’re to give him credit for that, then give him credit for Ike striking out 141 times in only 519 At Bats. Do you give him credit for Daniel Murphy’s 40 doubles? Why not give him credit for Murphy’s 10 home runs? You can pick your stat to prove your point. But try to make it a valid one. Why not mention how many times the Lucas Duda struck out? Duda would of easily lead the team in strike outs had he stayed playing with the team all year(400 AB’S-120 KO’S). Would that be a positive result? The aggressive patient approach didn’t do to well last year. Nor did the team have many timely hits.

    • January 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      I thought it was common knowledge that Hudgens and Davis did a tremendous overhaul of Davis’ stance and swing last year. If you have access to video through mlb.tv or another source – go look at one of Davis’ ABs from April or May when he was struggling so bad. Then compare that to his stance in a game from August or September. It’s hard to imagine a player having such an extreme switch in stance mid-season.

      Davis gets the vast amount of credit because he’s the one who put in the time and made it work. But it would be silly not to acknowledge the role Hudgens played in Davis’ turnaround last season.

      • Chris F
        January 19, 2013 at 7:42 am

        Surely Hudgens needs to be credited for working with Ike as you say. It’s funny though, toward the end of the season I read somewhere where Ike didn’t like the stance (very wide) and planned to go back to his old stance…more word on that this season I suppose.

        I also find interesting, and that was generally unattended, that the Mets lefty batters basically had a systemic issue with hitting breaking balls as a whole. The amount of Ks by Kirk, Duda, Valdespin etc was horrific swinging at junk low and outside the zone by a mile was terrible. I wish he addressed that as a coach. It creeped over to Wright in the second half who couldn’t stop swinging at outside breaking stuff. Like the movie says: “Trouble with the curve”. Murph’s recent interview by KB over at SNY is worth watching where he says his brother (I think) has been working on his swing, noting how much he opened his hip and bailed on pitches by stepping towards the second baseman rather than keeping in with the pitch. Seems that’s something a number of our bats need to look into.

        As I’ve said a number of times, the continuresId support by the FO for the coaching staff I mystifies me. I would have moved Hudgens, Warthen, and Goodwin out after last year. TCs management of the pen, as has been noted by name, is now nearly legend…and not in a good way. I don’t think this group can lead the team for success in ’15.

  2. January 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    But you didn’t respond to all the strikeouts. Also please note that as I have mentioned many times Ike had a bout with Valley Fever just before spring training. It is a debilitating illness that takes away your strength. Complete bed rest and minimal activity are recommended. It can take up to 6 months to a year to shake off the side affects. Ike mentioned that he was finally feeling like himself again towards the end of the season. Maybe Hudgens can spend a little more time with Kirk and Lucas this spring.

    • January 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Ike Davis K% with old stance — 26.7%
      Ike Davis K% with new stance — 19.5%

    • Joe Vasile
      January 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      I believe that Conor Jackson of the Diamondbacks (at the time) had Valley Fever in 2009, and his career just stalled and has been a .232 hitter since (was a .287 hitter before). It’s really miraculous that Ike seemed to be able to recover fully from it. I second Hudgens spending more time with Nieuwenhuis and Duda this spring training, since their strikeout woes are a big problem.

      • nym
        January 19, 2013 at 1:05 am

        Ike’s outcome is pretty typical…it’s Jackson’s that was unusual. Valley Fever is relatively common in the AZ area and it is typically not severe at all. Especially not in young, healthy adults. It’s thought a lot of people in AZ get VF and don’t even know they have it (which might’ve been Ike if it wasn’t for the ST physical) and most others have relatively minor symptoms.

        Regarding Ike’s hitting – I think he is always going to be a high strikeout guy, but if he otherwise hits well it won’t matter. I think the bigger factor in Ike’s struggles was the layoff moreso than the Valley Fever

        • January 19, 2013 at 5:26 am

          In response to nym about valley fever. As you say that valley fever is not a severe illness about 1% of those who contract it die. Every person is different and depending on their immune system the recovery time will vary wildly. I remember we were not allowed to practice the day when the outfield and infield grass was being cut and the infield dirt was always watered down before practices and games. If you were a homeowner you always cut your grass wearing some kind of protective mask.

  3. Name
    January 18, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I miss these kinds of posts Brian.

    Kinda surprised you didn’t talk about the part where Alderson said that Wheeler/D’arnard *could* make the MLB team out of Spring Training. Who can honestly believe him when he says stuff like that?
    My guess is that it’s just a ploy to get people to stop talking about the lack of moves regarding the OF and bullpen.

    • January 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      And Wheeler *could* make the team out of ST, too. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

      I don’t think there’s anything that Alderson can do right now to distract people from the black hole that is the OF short of, um, getting some outfielders.

      • Jerry Grote
        January 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

        fifty-fifty, Brian, fifty-fifty.

        • January 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm

          I laughed.

          However, I am going to take Alderson at his word here. I really do believe that he’s chasing a bigger fish than Hairston for the OF. I won’t blame anyone for thinking I’m a sucker for taking this comment at face value, though.

          • January 19, 2013 at 10:18 am

            Yeah I imagine Alderson is working on something significant on more than a couple fronts. Maybe no “blockbusters,” but some things that may net them at least one legitimate MLB outfielder.

            I just think that he has the restraint to not pull the trigger out of desperation and will only do it if it makes sense, which is probably where the whole 50/50 thing comes from.

          • Jerry Grote
            January 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

            I’ll take him at his word too. But honestly given Rubin’s analysis of the payroll today (and Alderson’s stated ability to take us to $100MM) … I really have to wonder what he could be working on or what it would require him to give up.

            Seems more like pipe dreams than anything and I think we’re both being played here.

            • January 19, 2013 at 11:25 am

              From the Rubin piece you referenced:

              “I’m told by a team insider the logical way to calculate it for public consumption…”

              It’s their team, they can cook the numbers any way they choose. But I’m not sure why it’s “logical” to include deferred money in the current year’s budget. If you take out those and Santana’s option you have $23.5 million to get back to last year’s payroll.

              I don’t expect the Mets to sink $23.5 million into this year’s team. But I don’t see why $13 million or so is out of the question if the right player is available.

  4. January 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I would be curious to know how many times Ike struck out with Scott Hairston batting behind him as opposed to all the other fill ins the Mets provided as protection. It’s easier for a pitcher to get Ike to chase knowing that the next hitter can’t hurt you. Put Scott for an entire season behind Ike and then we can better judge the overall picture.

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