Daniel Murphy hits, Aardsma’s streaky season, EY and the leadoff spot

Daniel MurphyDaniel Murphy has a reputation as a streaky hitter and he’s ending the 2013 season on a hot note. In his last 12 games he has 17 hits and sports a .925 OPS. He now has 184 hits for the year, one more than the best season in New York by current Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez. Murphy sits in 12th place in franchise history for hits in a single season. He’s one behind Felix Millan, who set the club record in 1973 with 185 hits. Here’s the top 10 in club history:

227 – Lance Johnson, 1996
204 – Jose Reyes, 2008
197 – John Olerud, 1998
196 – David Wright, 1997
194 – Reyes, 2006
191 – Reyes, 2007
191 – Edgardo Alfonzo, 1999
191 – Millan, 1975
190 – Reyes, 2005
189 – Wright, 2008

A DICEY PROPOSITION?Daisuke Matsuzaka has made seven starts for the Mets after being acquired to replace Matt Harvey in the rotation. His first three starts were dreadful but the last four have been terrific, as he’s 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and a 0.835 WHIP. There’s even been talk about bringing him back for next season. The interesting thing with Matsuzaka is how his 2013 stats are so similar to his lifetime MLB totals.

2013 4.42 4.31 4.81
Lifetime 4.52 4.37 4.57

If we set the IP requirement to 60 innings, we have 83 SP in the NL to meet that so far in 2013. Matsuzaka’s ERA would put him solidly as an SP5, although he has just 38.2 IP this year. His 2013 xFIP would be at a SP6 rate. If the Mets go the dumpster diving route again for 2014, Matsuzaka should be under consideration, if he’ll sign a cheap one-year deal. He will have enough service time to be a free agent following the 2013 season.

WHAT TO DO WITH AARDVARK? Another player eligible for free agency at the end of the year is reliever David Aardsma. When he first came up, Aardsma did a fine job of stabilizing the bullpen. But he hit a rough patch in the middle that make his stats look very replaceable. Yet now Aardsma is finishing the season strong. Here is his season broken up in three consecutive periods:

A – 20 G, 21 IP, 2.14 ERA, 1.095 WHIP
B – 14 G, 11.2 IP, 10.03 ERA, 2.486 WHIP
C – 8 G, 6.2 IP, 1.35 ERA, 0.750 WHIP

Much like with Matsuzaka, if the Mets can get Aardsma on a cheap one-year deal it would seem to be a good idea to bring him back for 2014.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DUDA? – Right now most people see Lucas Duda as failing in his “audition” for the first base job. Since his recall from the minors, Duda has a .195/.350/.366 slash line for a .716 OPS. It’s nothing to get excited about but it’s not as bad as most are making it out to be. Duda is getting eaten up with strikeouts, as he has a 29.1 K% in this stretch. Yet someone with a .350 OBP in the middle of a cold streak is still helping the team. It’s important to realize that Duda has a .245 BABIP since returning from Las Vegas. Lifetime in the majors, Duda has a .296 BABIP

DO YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT EY JR? – Meanwhile, almost nothing is being said about Eric Young Jr. who is doing much more to hurt the club over the same span. Young is the team’s leadoff hitter and in the month of September, he’s done a poor job. Despite a .321 BABIP, Young has only a .303 OBP this month, a poor number for anyone and a rotten one for a leadoff guy. In 25 games, he has only 11 runs scored. The knee jerk reaction is to say it’s all Duda’s fault that he doesn’t have more runs scored. While Duda has certainly played a part, he’s had plenty of company. Here’s the list of batters who stranded Young in scoring position so far this month:

10 – Duda
7 – Murphy
6 – Lagares
5 – Satin
4 – Wright
1 – d’Arnaud, Lutz, Turner, Flores, Brown, Baxter

Duda was 0-5 with four walks and a sacrifice fly (Young was on 2B) the 10 times he came up with Young in scoring position. Meanwhile, Lagares was 0-6.

WHO TO CHOOSE FOR LEADOFF? – Young’s struggles are indicative of the Mets’ issues with leadoff hitters this year. Just looking at the first PA of the game, Mets leadoff hitters have a .599 OPS and 18 Runs in 159 games, both figures ranking 14th in the 15-team National League. Meanwhile, in 140 games as the leadoff batter for the Reds, Shin-Soo Choo has a 1.057 OPS and 31 Runs in his first PA. Despite horrific defense, Choo has totaled 5.4 fWAR this season. A move to a corner OF position should help some and with Juan Lagares around, there’s no need for Choo to play CF in Queens, if the Wilpons actually have the money to invest in the free agent market this offseason.

32 comments for “Daniel Murphy hits, Aardsma’s streaky season, EY and the leadoff spot

  1. Chris F
    September 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    A lot of proof that there is a long way to go. It is easy, myself included, to succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome when considering the Orange and Blue. It is safe to say, the only position player who is capable of being playoff (oops, excuse me, “postseason” in MLB parlance) level is David Wright. We have Murph camps, Ike camps, Lagares camps (Im the founding member!), Duda camps, Satin camps etc…but all that really is a smoke screen that around the diamond 7 role players and 4 pitchers cant get it done. With Wright even proclaiming it will be a busy hot stove, we can only hope that Alderson finally gets it in gear…he does have the added motivation of replacing Selig, whose contract conveniently comes to term when Buddy boy departs.

    • September 27, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      I think you’re selling the seasons that Murphy and Lagares had short. Along with Wright, they’re getting plus production (admittedly only on the def. side with JL) at three spots. The hope for next year is that 1B isn’t a black hole and that they can get at least one big bat through trade or free agency.

      If they can get plus production at four spots, and average production at two others they can be below average at the other two, as long as it isn’t dreadful production.


      I’d take my chances with that lineup. The question would be if MDD/Brown along with TDA could give you average production and if Lagares and Tejada could reach the .675 OPS level where they wouldn’t be anchors.

      • Chris F
        September 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm

        Read something today that said Choo is highly unlikely based on predictions from “insiders” on the club. They seem prepared to for something like Bourn’s offer, but that will fall far short of Choo’s likely outcome. It is disappointing.

        While I think that line up is ok, it may only get somewhere near 80 wins. There’s not enough power there yet. Im actually anticipating that the line up will look quite different next year with a number of new faces in key positions. Its a hunch.

        I just hope ’14 sees a positive move, because the darkness is getting hard to cope with.

      • TexasGusCC
        September 28, 2013 at 1:42 am

        Brian, I’m sorry but that lineup is worse than what we had the majority of the year. MDD/Brown is a #7 hitter, so is d’Arnaud, so is Lagares. For the Mets to have a chance, the need POWER! At least two times! Choo is a giggle, and the middle of their order is empty after and before Wright. Murphy is not a cleanup hitter, but I understand that in this lineup you put him there, but they need at least two guys, whether Morse or Morales or trade for Cabrera of the Indians, they need two power hitters more than they need Choo.

        All my life growing up I heard about gret players that produced, as in runs. Now all of a sudden, all I hear is about OBP guys. Please excuse me as I vomit.

        • September 28, 2013 at 8:34 am

          When the Mets had Wright and Byrd, and Lagares was in the midst of his hot streak – they were a top 5 offense. It wasn’t because they had a ton of power, it was because they got guys on base and got them home.

          You may not like the emphasis on OBP but the simple fact is the more guys who get on base, the more you’re going to score.

          • TexasGusCC
            September 28, 2013 at 9:50 am

            Brian, Byrd hit 21 HRs for them and was a cleanup hitter. The problem with lacking power is you need more hits to win. The Braves are #5 in runs scored but #8 in OBP. The Nationals are #6 and #10, respectively.

            • September 28, 2013 at 9:57 am

              The top 5 NL teams in OBP are STL, CIN, LAD, ARI and COL

              Four of those teams are in the top 5 in runs while the Dodgers rank 7th.

              Meanwhile, only one of the top 5 teams in HR are top 5 in Runs and that’s COL, who also happen to be top 5 in OBP.

              The Cubs are second in HR and they are 13th in Runs. You’ll never, ever, ever find a team ranked 2nd in OBP finish that low in runs scored.

      • September 28, 2013 at 8:32 am

        Yeah I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with that lineup either, Brian. While I have faith that TDA will find himself, I’m not sure MDD/Brown AND Lagares AND Tejada is really going to get the team anywhere next year.

  2. Eraff
    September 28, 2013 at 7:14 am

    LF Choo (free agent) 18
    C d’Arnaud .5
    RF Eithier 10 (dodgers pick up money)
    3b Wright 17
    1b Cory Hart 8
    2b Murphy 7
    CF Lagares/ .5
    ss Tejada 2

    Bench: EY, Tovar/Quintanilla, Catcher, Den Decker, Satin


    2b EY
    LF Choo
    3b D Wright
    RF Eithier
    1b Cory Hart
    C d’Arnaud
    CF Lagares
    SS Tejada/Q/Tovar

    Those are do-able, win-able lineups….. land the team somewhere in the 90-100 million expenditure range. Provide you with some professional bats….flexibility in playing positions– several of the players can be moved around a bit (Hart, EY, Choo, Eithier can play a reasonable range of places).

    • September 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

      If the Mets spend $36 million in the offseason, those might be doable lineups. The Mets have yet to do that with Alderson as the GM and the owners still have a ton of debt. Everyone sees the money coming off the books and assumes that it will all be reinvested in payroll. Perhaps it will. However, I’m going to bet against that happening – and will continue to bet against it happening – until they actually do. We’ve been lied to about payroll too many times this decade.

      Young should not be in the starting lineup.

  3. September 28, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Fair or not, I feel like Duda is getting more scrutiny because his production is more important. What I mean is, it’s pretty clear EY Jr is going to be a 4th/5th OF next year, while Duda is still in the running (hoping) for the team to get SOMETHING out of the 1B position. If he had been doing well it would potentially leave one less question mark going into the off-season full of question marks. I’m really not sure how I feel about 1B overall, either. It’s going to be interesting.

    As far as Dice-K, I say why not? If he can be had at a reasonable price, I’d much rather the team take a chance on him instead of paying more for a similar (or worse) veteran.

  4. Metsense
    September 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Brian, your lineup is proof that Met fans have the Stockholm Syndrome. They are a bad team that needs new faces on offense. Murphy is a good player but not a hit machine that you build a team around. Duda is also fine in his audition but we are comparing him to Davis and neither playeris a cornerstone. EY may lead the league in steals but his OBP makes him a 7 hitter not a 1 hitter and really a fourth OF/2B backup on a good team. DiceK on the cheap with no guarantees, sure. Aardsma type vets are always available and the Mets need relief pitchers that are more consistant throughout the year.
    The Mets need some new talent and a new talent evaluator in the dugout.

  5. Chris F
    September 28, 2013 at 10:26 am

    That is exactly what I feel Metsense. Right now all the line-ups with 1 FA addition perhaps really amount to shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. I firmly believe that a team has 2 outcomes: make the post season (née playoffs) or be a loser. There is no combination of the names we have that go into October.

    Purchase a contract for Jose Abreu. We get unadaultered middle of the line up power. And we make a statement to the NL that we are planning for something. Added benefit, the pointless talk of Duda v. Ike mercifully ends.

    Sign Curtis Granderson to something like the Bourn offer. He might be a bit of a bargain given this year…no one is even mentioning him in the power OF group which is a mistake. Oh yeah…here’s flipping the bird to the NYY. He fits a corner position.

    Make a deal for Tulowitzki. It’s gonna cost for sure, but, we know that. Rockies are rebuilding, they always need pitchers and perhaps Flores + Puello (add whoever might fit that’s a top 10 or so but not Syndergaard.).

    Use the Alderson magic to find a speedy lead off guy who plays OF with a solid OBP.

    1. Unknown OF
    2. Murph 2B
    3. Wright 3B
    4. Abreu 1B
    5. Tulo SS
    6. Granderson OF
    7. d’Arnaud C
    8. Lagares/MdD CF

    • TexasGusCC
      September 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Chris, that lineup would sell alot of tickets, and win alot of games.

    • Metsense
      September 28, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Brian is 100% right about OBP and you are right about shifting chairs on the Titanic.
      Spend the money. Sign two of three : Ellsbury, Choo or Pence (estimates are 5 years 75-80 for each one) and compete while Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Niese, Gee , Mejia and Parnell are cost controlled and in their prime. There is no immediate impact offensive bat in their minors and not enough pitching depth (due to injury) or major league positional talent to bring in the impact bats (one bat is not enough). Spend the money and set yourself with this core for the next 5 years and immediately start positioning for after these 5 years. A winning team in NY is a profit maker. Watching Alderson put together a team is like watching paint dry.

      • Metsense
        September 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

        Pence has signed for 5 years $90 M. The price of Choo and Ellsbury just went up. How high, who knows? I hope this doesn’t scare off Sandy but $36M eats up Santana and Fransisco’s salary.

        • Chris F
          September 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

          Grandy will come in less after this season.

    • Jerry Grote
      September 29, 2013 at 9:45 am


  6. Jerry Grote
    September 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I am continually surprised that Mets fans feel so welcome in giving what will likely be a 5 year, $90MM deal to a corner OF that plays bad (“horrific”, as per Brian) defense and hits for only marginal (20 HR) power, and for whom you will be paying $16MM in his age 34,35, and 36 seasons. Not to mention, one of his hallmarks is speed.

    That deal has all the hall marks of disaster. Abso-fucking-lootely bad deal.

    • September 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Hey JG – good to see you around these parts again!

      Count me as one who is all in favor of adding Choo to the team. I wish the guy with the .423 OBP played Gold Glove defense but despite his limitations with the glove, he’s still an outstanding player and exactly what the Mets need – a leadoff hitter who gets on base at a tremendous clip.

      Also, it’s been proven that players who rely on speed do not decline as rapidly as other players. Jeff Zimmerman of Beyond the Box Score found the following:

      ” Fast players age extremely well from their peaks at 26 to 31, then they lose on average fewer then five runs over five seasons.”


      • Jerry Grote
        September 29, 2013 at 11:08 am

        Hi Brian!

        424 is great. But could you live with .362 – if it got wrapped around a roughly 850 OPS and cost you about $3MM a year less, with pretty good defense?

        The guy I’m talking about, of course, is Andre Ethier, a hated name in Metsdom. For those of you keeping track, Choo’s lifetime OBP is only 30 greater than Ethier. Choo’s WAR over the last three years? 9. Andre? 8. Guess which one had the lower standard deviation.

        Choo>Ethier. No doubt. But not $90MM of fresh dollars better. Not by a long shot, no way, no how. Which makes it a bad, bad deal – especially if Mets fans can say they HATE Ethier.

  7. September 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I’m not a big Ethier fan but I think it’s incorrect to say that most Mets fans hate him.

    The Mets want to get Choo to be a leadoff hitter. There’s absolutely no chance they would get Ethier to fill that same role. Even if they did – I would not be so quick to dismiss an average of 30 points of OBP and 64 points here in 2013.

    Also, I’m not worried about the standard deviation of Choo’s numbers. He played in only 85 games in 2011. He came back nicely in 2012 and his 2013 numbers are right in line with what he did in 2008-2010.

    Meanwhile, Ethier’s last three years are a significant step down from what he did from 2008-2010.

    • Jerry Grote
      September 30, 2013 at 7:05 am

      Of all people, you should acknowledge that the 424 OBP is an outlier, and irrelevant to the discussion. Choo gets on base, but in his two previous years he was .373 and .344. Moreover, his power has declined a bit and when his BB% regresses to his natural level, you’ll have a guy much more likely to be around .850ish than .880is.

      I didn’t dismiss the difference; I’ve stated Choo>Ethier. But there is no doubt at all you will be egregiously overpaying for Choo and every reason to believe that you can get Ethier for less than market price.

      It’s about the money. While Choo>Ethier, I’m guessing Sandy will be forced to pay Choo like Tulo. And there’s absolutely no doubt Tulo>Choo, especially to this team.

      • September 30, 2013 at 7:41 am

        In 2011, Choo had a broken thumb. We need to stop looking at anything he did that season as typical for the rest of his career. In 2012, he was still recovering from that injury but he played so many games that we’ll go ahead and include it. So, we have five seasons in his career that Choo has played over 100 games (actually 144+). Here’s what he did in those seasons:

        2008: .397 OBP
        2009: .394 OBP
        2010: .401 OBP
        2012: .373 OBP
        2013: .423 OBP

        This year is no more an outlier than what he did in 2012. Walks and power are two skills that increase with age, so I’m not worried about either one of his 2013 rates in those categories crashing.

        If the Mets acquire Ethier they’re going to have to give up something to get him. What they give up will determine how much of his salary they have to pick up. That prospect price cannot be dismissed when determining what Ethier costs the Mets.

  8. Jerry Grote
    September 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

    According to wiki, Choo injured his thumb on June 24? His slash line to that point: 244/333/353 in 266 ABs. The injury to his thumb had NOTHING to do with his numbers.

    No, Brian, he doesn’t get a pass on 2011. And what you are trying to do, is to project his age 31-36 seasons based on what he did from 2008-2010 – when he was playing between 25-27!

    The team that signs Choo will pay with Pence dollars *at least*. No way, no way he is worth it. It won’t be on par with some of the horrific signings in our past, but its a bad deal.

    The Mets will overpay for Choo, when they could reasonably underpay for Ethier or another player.

    • September 30, 2013 at 8:15 am

      I’m not saying the thumb caused his poor numbers – I’m saying the injury prevented him from playing a full season and allowing his numbers to stabilize.

      If Juan Lagares had injured his thumb and didn’t play after August 1st, we’d have a guy with a .728 OPS. Instead, he had two more months for his numbers to stabilize and he finished with a .633 mark. The only difference with Choo would be that the numbers would have stabilized in the opposite direction.

  9. Jerry Grote
    September 30, 2013 at 8:40 am


    You have 1000 ABs from 2011-2012 that produced a 367 OBP overall. That’s plenty of “stablization”. He slugged 500 in his age 25-27 seasons. He’s slugged 450 over the last two years, and that’s generously not including his 2011 season.

    Over the length of the contract, we’ll be pretty lucky if he can give us 2012×5: 370/440. With horrible defense. If we can only afford two David Wright type contracts, I sure as shit don’t want the other one going to Choo.

    Either downsize to Ethier, or upgrade all the way to Tulo.

    • September 30, 2013 at 9:05 am

      You don’t want to acknowledge that 2012 was a recovery year from the thumb – that’s certainly your choice. There’s really no sense discussing that any further.

      Ethier is owed $67.5 million from 2014-2017 and has a $17.5 million club option that vests with PA. How much do you think the Dodgers are going to pick up? What kind of prospect are the Mets going to have to surrender to get them to pick up that money? Unless the Dodgers are going to pick up half the contract and only demand a “C” level player in return, I’d rather have Choo.

      Tulowitzki’s games played since becoming a regular, starting in 2007: 155, 101, 151, 122, 143, 47, 126. He’s missing a quarter of the year on average over those seven seasons and 35% the past three years. I don’t see Sandy Alderson paying a premium for someone with those durability questions.

  10. Jerry Grote
    September 30, 2013 at 9:49 am

    My bet is that Ethier gets moved for a net cost of $12-13MM a year, plus you give up a Lutz/German/Carson type player.

    Not optimum, but better than paying $19MM for Choo, but Choo would have to be 50% more productive than Ethier. And I’m sorry, but he’s plainly not. BUT … if you can’t get Ethier for essentially $12-13MM, that doesn’t make Choo worth $19MM.

    What would Sandy give for a 6 WAR player, SS/GGer that is MVP/AS caliber that covers your absolute biggest hole on the roster, and can make your precious pitching staff look better for 140 games a year? I don’t know. I know its a more valuable asset by far than a corner OFer that can’t play the position.

    • Jerry Grote
      September 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

      [$18M is what Pence gets, and what I think Choo gets. Not $19M.]

    • September 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

      If you’re the Mets you have to look at the option as likely to vest. If you don’t, you’re projecting some sort of Jason Bay decline and if that’s the case, you’d never want to acquire the player in the first place. So, Ethier is on a 5/$85 deal. So, you’re saying the Dodgers are going to pick up $20 to $25 million and get virtually nothing in return outside of salary relief.

      For most teams, being rid of $60 million in salary would be very desirable but the Dodgers don’t seem to be playing that way right now.

      They have Carl Crawford, who missed 46 games last year and has averaged 92 games played the past three years. Matt Kemp only played 73 games last year. When you factor in injury concerns, normal days off and the ability to DH in 10 games a year — there’s plenty of playing time for four outfielders.

      I don’t see the Dodgers making that type of trade.

      As for the Mets’ side — Ethier’s defense has been nothing to write home about. FanGraphs has him at (-74.5) in his career. Choo is at (-50.1) and you would expect his defense to improve somewhat by moving to a corner spot. Choo is not a good defender but Ethier does not make up any ground on defense.

      It all comes down to offense. Ethier has been remarkably consistent the past three years, with OPS+ marks of 121, 123 and 121. He was remarkably consistent the previous three years, too. He had OPS+ marks of 132, 132 and 133. So, are you convinced that Ethier is going to keep pumping out 121 OPS+ marks the rest of his contract? It wouldn’t completely surprise me if he did. But it would be much less of a surprise if he took a tumble again.

      Ethier’s been a 3-win player the past three years and if he doesn’t decline further, he would be worth the Mets picking up at the discounted price that you mention. I just think it’s optimistic not to expect a guy who already declined at age 29 not to decline again somewhere between 32 and 36.

      Bottom line — I don’t think the Dodgers do the trade you propose and even if they offer it, I don’t think the Mets should accept it.

      • Jerry Grote
        September 30, 2013 at 10:53 am

        always a pleasure talking baseball with you Brian.

        Have a great day.

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