Oliver Perez: No room On The Mets

It seems everyone from Sandy Alderson to manager Terry Collins are willing to give Oliver Perez every chance to make the 2011 New York Mets team out of spring training. Many fans and some in the front office feel he does not deserve the opportunity because of citing his past transgressions. The only reason he is getting the chance is because of the $12 million owed to him, which is odd since COO Jeff Wilpon claimed the Mets are willing to just eat the money. Apparently, even he has had enough.

Well, the Mets have taken steps to be rid of the man who has done nothing to help, only to hinder, this team since the 2007 season. Collins made the announcement Perez is out of the competition to be a starter. Much to the chagrin of Perez you can be sure. Instead, he is now getting a chance to be the lefty specialist out of the bullpen. If Pedro Feliciano was still with the Mets, this would not be an option. Perez would more than likely be gone right now since that position would be filled by Feliciano.

When asked if he would accept a minor league assignment, Perez stated it was not something he was thinking about right now. His thoughts were to only be a starter. If you recall, he was asked to go to the minors last year and said he would not accept the assignment. He wanted to make his adjustments while in the majors. It did not work out well, even when he was placed in the bullpen. While it was his right to not accept the minor league assignment, he just showed he really does not have the best interest of the team in his heart. This would have sealed his fate had it been me.

With what I have seen so far in spring training, there certainly is no room for this chaos known as Perez on the 2011 team. This is his last chance. Should he make any mistakes, chances are the Mets will just place him on waivers and release him. Is there a chance another team will take him? Well, there is a always a fool hardy chance. However, I find it difficult to see any team taking him in hopes of finding a way to fix him. Sometimes a player just cannot be fixed. Only released.

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What if Oliver Perez’ expiring deal had trade value?

I am glad that baseball does not have a salary cap and what’s to follow should in no way, shape or form be construed as any type of argument in favor of any type of salary restriction.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, Mets fan John Coppinger posted on his Facebook account:
“We live in a world where Oliver Perez is more untradeable than Eddy Curry.”

The only reason this is true is because expiring deals have value in the NBA. The Knicks have been trying to trade Curry since Donnie Walsh took over and it’s only now, with one-half a season remaining on his six-year, $60 million deal, that anyone was willing to take on his carcass, uh, I mean contract. Curry’s deal allowed the Knicks to take on the salary of Carmelo Anthony and stay under the cap.

But what if MLB had a salary cap? What would Perez and his expiring deal be worth to the Mets? I’m no expert, but I believe NBA rules allow trades up to 125% of contract value. So the Mets could take on a $15 million contract in return for Perez. Or a team could trade a $10 million dollar contract and receive Perez.

So, the Mets could trade Oliver Perez and his expiring deal to the Braves for Derek Lowe and the $30 million he is owed through the 2012 season. Both teams would probably say no to this deal but it is an example of what is possible. Maybe the Orioles would be interested in shedding the remaining $30 million owed Brian Roberts over the next three seasons.

Perhaps if the Mets packaged the expiring deals of Perez and Luis Castillo, a combined $18 million, which would allow them to take back between $14.4 and $22.5 million in salary this year, we would really have something.

It is not impossible that the Cardinals want to free up money for Pujols and would deal Matt Holliday and his $17 million this year and his remaining $103 million (including 2017 buyout) for our disgraced duo.

Or maybe the Cubs cut ties with Carlos Zambrano ($17.875/$35.875), who they feuded with last year. In his last 10 starts in 2010, Zambrano was 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA, with 57 Ks in 65.1 IP. While Holliday would be of dubious benefit to the Mets, Zambrano fills a definite need.

Do the Red Sox view the John Lackey ($15.25/$61 million) contract as an albatross? Would Boston view $61 million owed over the next four years as too much money for a pitcher who delivered just 1.9 bWAR last season? Would Mets fans be happy with a guy who averaged 201 IP the past eight years, rather than the collection of guys coming back from arm injuries that are battling for rotation slots now?

The Tigers have a lot of money wrapped up in problem child Miguel Cabrera ($20 million/$106 million). Would concerns over his drinking problems make a deal for Perez, Castillo and Ike Davis palatable from their point of view? Would Sandy Alderson sacrifice his payroll flexibility in 2012 to acquire a guy who could drink himself out of baseball, but who might be the best hitter this side of Pujols if he can stay on the field?

Let’s end with an off-the-wall idea. Would the Mets be willing to trade two guys they think have bad contracts for a guy who truly has a bad contract if something else was kicked into the deal as a sweetener? Who would say no to the offer of Perez and Castillo for Barry Zito ($18.5 million/$64.5 million w/2014 buyout) and Zach Wheeler? While Zito would give the Mets (very expensive) innings, would the inclusion of Wheeler, the sixth overall pick in the 2009 Draft and a guy who had a 10.74 K/9 last year, make this a trade worth doing?

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Certainly, all of these deals and others could be made without a salary cap. But the cap makes these deals more likely to happen, as we just saw in the NBA with Curry having trade value.

Manny Acosta and the bullpen competition

After a flurry of moves in the past 10 days, the Mets seem set with the people they will bring to Spring Training to compete for jobs. There should be plenty of competition for a slot in the bullpen, as there should be no fewer than nine relievers vying for the final four spots. Earlier in the offseason, I thought Manny Acosta was likely to wind up with a place on the Opening Day roster. Let’s see if that’s still the case.

First, we know that three spots in the bullpen are set with Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell and D.J. Carrasco. All three of those are righties, so it is a reasonable guess to assume that the Mets would prefer one of the final four spots to be filled by a lefty. Here are the nine main contenders for the bullpen jobs, along with some stats from 2010. I used major league data whenever possible.

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Name L/R Avg FB SwStr% K/9 K/BB
Manny Acosta Right 94.1 9.6 9.53 2.33
Pedro Beato Right low 90s Unknown 7.54 2.63
Taylor Buchholz Right 89.0 10.2 6.75 1.50
Tim Byrdak Left 88.9 9.8 6.75 1.45
Dillon Gee Right 89.1 7.9 4.64 1.13
Pat Misch Left 85.7 7.7 5.5 5.75
Mike O’Connor Left 85.0 7.0 8.92 4.12
Oliver Perez Left 88.0 7.1 7.19 0.88
Taylor Tankersley Left 87.4 8.2 5.25 1.0

Acosta’s advantages are that he throws the hardest of our remaining candidates. He has the top fastball velocity and the most strikeouts. Acosta also is among the leaders in Swinging Strike percentage and K/BB. And while he is a righty, Acosta limited lefties to a .473 OPS last year.

Beato’s numbers are from Double-A, with an approximation on his fastball velocity. When he was in junior college, Beato regularly threw in the 90s and could dial it up to 96. His velocity had dropped his first few years in the minors, but reports had him throwing harder last year, his first in the bullpen. A Rule 5 selection, Beato has to make the Opening Day roster or be offered back to the Orioles.

Buchholz is not overpowering but he gets a lot of swings out of the strike zone, plus swings and misses, thanks to his curve ball and changeup. The Mets gave Buchholz a major league deal, one that includes a $400,000 bonus if he makes the Opening Day roster and is not on the DL.

Byrdak has not officially signed but I included his numbers here, anyway. If the Mets agree to terms with the 37-year old, he is more of a traditional LOOGY, a guy to bring on to face a tough lefty and get him out of the game if a righty steps into the box. In his nine-year career in the majors, Byrdak has limited lefties to a .677 OPS but righties smack him around to an .886 tune.

Gee is still in the mix for a starting job, but with the signing of Young, his best bet to make the team is probably as a reliever. Without having to pace himself, he probably could throw a little bit harder than the numbers above show, which are limited to his time in the majors last year.

Misch is in the same boat as Gee, perhaps slightly better situated because he throws lefty and is out of options. While he is a southpaw, Misch enjoys no platoon advantage, as lefties in the majors have an .804 OPS against him, compared to a .768 mark for righties.

O’Connor pitched very well at Buffalo last year. The K/9 and K/BB numbers above were taken from his time in Triple-A in 2010. The other numbers were from his major league trial with the Nationals in 2008 and probably are not a good reflection of his current talent level. O’Connor is now a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, but is a good bet to make it to the majors during the 2011 season.

Perez comes to camp with a chance to win a spot in the bullpen but virtually no one expects him to be with the club when it begins the regular season.

Tankersley is signed to a minor league deal but the lefty has a good shot to make the team. Tankersley is recovering from elbow surgery which kept him out of baseball during the 2009 season. Last year in Triple-A, he limited lefties to a .118 AVG and when he was promoted to the Marlins, LHB had a .200/.286/.433 line in 35 PA.

We know that Spring Training stats are meaningless but the Mets will probably make some bullpen decisions this year based on what the above pitchers do in Florida. Acosta and Misch are out of options, Beato is a Rule 5 guy and Buchholz gets extra money if he makes the team. I still like Acosta to make the team, but a strong Spring showing would certainly help his cause.

Perez Deal Is No Kazmir Trade

Just like us regular folk, Major League Baseball teams look towards the winter months for something special. The only difference is your mother would be happy with a $50 sweater and the Red Sox spent $20.3 million a year for Carl Crawford.

Now it’s common knowledge the New York Mets don’t have much financial flexibility for 2011. Despite some claims of owner Fred Wilpon being “cheap,” the team payroll is expected to be around $140 million – greater than last year. That leaves less than $10 million to obtain a starting pitcher, lefty reliever, second baseman and fourth outfielder.

Sure some of those moves could be made internally or via trade, the Mets are in this predicament in part due to former General Manager Omar Minaya’s generous 3-year/$36 million deal to Oliver Perez. But how does Perez’ $12 million debacle stack up against some of the Mets other worst moves: Luis Castillo signing, Scott Kazmir trade or Tom Seaver trade?

Perez

Perez came over to New York in a trade from Pittsburgh in 2006. Then a 25-year-old hard tossing lefty with a history of unrefined talent, Perez succeeded early with the Mets. During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he finished 25-17 with a 3.90 ERA, nearly 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio and WHIP under 1.500 in 371 innings.

When the Mets needed to sign a starting pitcher in February 2009, the choice was between the lefty in his prime with signs of promise or Derek Lowe – an established righty with a lower ceiling and fewer years left. The Mets signed Perez for $36 million while Lowe went to the Braves for $60 million over four years.

That deal ended up an epic mistake as Perez sank to unheralded lows. He pitched just 66 innings in 2009 with a 6.82 ERA and 1.924 WHIP and was relegated to mop-up duty in 2010 after he pitched to a 6.80 ERA and 0.8:1 strikeout ratio through 46.1 innings. Lowe turned out to be overpaid as well, but has been an innings eater with a mid-4 ERA and nearly 200 innings each of the last two seasons.

Castillo

Castillo joined the Mets via trade in July 2007 when the team was in contention for the division. New York packaged catcher Drew Butera and minor league outfielder Dustin Martin to the Minnesota Twins for Castillo; neither has had more than a cup of coffee with a major league club. The trade worked out well as Castillo hit .296 and scored 37 runs in 199 plate appearances.

Minaya signed him to a 4-year/$25 million deal that November, which immediately went south. The soft-hitting infielder hit just .245, scored 46 runs and stole 17 bases in 298 PA, hampered by ongoing injuries. The younger Castillo returned in 2009 with a .302 average, 77 runs and 22 stolen bases through 486 at-bats, although old Castillo came back in 2010. He finished last season with a paltry .235 average in 247 ABs, scoring just 28 runs and stealing 8 bases.

His fielding percentage has never dipped below .982 in his tenure with the Mets, but his range is obviously worse than 2007. His range factor (putouts and assists per nine innings) was near or above 5 during his tenure with the Marlins; it dropped to 4.63 in 2006 with Minnesota, mid 4’s in 2007 and 2008, 4.79 in 2009 and 4.03 in 2010. But errors were apparent even in 2009, when he dropped a pop fly in the ninth inning against the Yankees to give away a win.

Kazmir/Zambrano

Kazmir, a two-sport star in high school, was drafted by the Mets in 2002. He boasted a great fastball in the mid-90s, a hard-breaking 10-4 curve, a mediocre changeup and an 11-5 slider that needed to be slowed down. Long considered the team’s best prospect and a future ace, former General Manager Jim Duquette traded Kazmir and forgettable reliever Jose Diaz to Tampa Bay for starter Victor Zambrano and reliever Bartolome Fortunato.

Kazmir broke into the majors in 2004 as a 20-year-old. He looked good his first four full seasons with each ERA never higher than 3.77, a strikeout to walk ratio well above 2 in all but 2005 and at least 144 innings in each season. The wheels started to fall off in 2009, when he started the season with elbow injuries. Later dealing with a leg strain, Kazmir sported a 5.92 ERA in 111 innings before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He finished that season very strong in 36.1 innings, but sported a 5.94 ERA in 150 innings with a strike to walk ratio barely over 1. He continues to suffer from various strains, ailments and fatigue, but will make $12 million in 2011 and $13.5 million in 2012.

The other major cog in the deal, Zambrano looked mediocre as a major league starter in his first three-and-a-half years with Tampa, sporting a 4.47 ERA. He looked solid in 2005, his first full season as a Met, earning a 4.17 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 166 innings. Unfortunately, 2006 brought a 6.75 ERA and near 1.70 WHIP in 27.1 innings, earning Zambrano his free agency. He signed with Toronto and Baltimore in 2007, but exploded quickly and was out of the league before the season ended. The starter was paid $5.1 million from New York for 2005 and 2006.

Seaver

One of the most infamous moves in Met history is known as “the Midnight Massacre” – when Hall of Fame starting pitcher Tom Seaver was traded to Cincinnati in 1977. Seaver broke into the league in 1967 and immediately was a star. He pitched to a 2.76 ERA in 251 innings that season. Seaver never sported an ERA above 2.82 in his first 10 full seasons with New York and always through more than 200 innings.

His ERA was around 3.00 come mid-season in 1977 when Seaver approached Board Chairman M. Donald Grant for a raise. Grant was reluctant to buy into the new free agency trend, but an unfounded story by Daily News columnist Dick Young claiming that Seaver’s wife wanted a raise because she was jealous of Nolan Ryan’s wife caused the star to break off all negotiations and demand a trade.

He was shipped off to the Reds for infielder Doug Flynn, outfielder Steve Henderson, outfielder Dan Norman and starter Pat Zachry. While all four went on to have major league careers, everyone but Norman lasted more than 10 seasons, Seaver was a solid pitcher for the Reds. He racked up a combined 3.34 ERA in five seasons, although his WHIP was always over 1.

Seaver returned to the Mets in 1983, clearly no longer an ace, finishing with a 3.55 ERA in 231 innings. The righty stayed in major league baseball for three more years, putting up middle-of-the-order numbers for Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. He pitched for Mets Triple-A affiliate Tidewater Tides in 1987 despite never signing a deal, but left after getting rocked in three outings. The new Chicago White Sox took him in the 1984 free agent compensation draft. He finished his career in Chicago and Boston, earning $2.3 million in 1984-1985.

Nicknamed “The Franchise,” Seaver was a 12-time All-Star and three time Cy Young winner who retired with 311 wins. His number, 41, was retired by the Mets 1988.

Verdict

None of these moves ended favorably for New York, but one stands out as a worst than the others at the time – the Kazmir trade. In both the Perez and Castillo deals, the players put up solid numbers with the ball club for at least half a season before accepting their excessive free agent signings. With the Seaver trade, an external agent in Young added an unsolvable wrinkle to an ongoing dilemma. The move also introduced major league talent to New York, even if it wasn’t the caliber of their former ace.

Duquette’s trade, however, was the worst of both worlds. He traded away a top pitching prospect for a pitcher who would be out of baseball in less than three years with the Mets. Kazmir displayed potential to be a franchise legend who could be cheap and under contract of years, while Zambrano looked to be an average pitcher poised to break the $1 million mark. Despite the fact that Kazmir has turned into an expensive injury risk in the majors, Duquette should have netted a better quality pitcher with that one trade chip.

Christmas wishes for the 2011 Mets

The Mets have already had their team Christmas party but they must have decided this year not to exchange gifts. Now, you may be wondering what millionaires give as gifts or what millionaires want to receive as gifts. I cannot answer that question. But I can tell you what players on the Mets really need. So, with Christmas right around the corner, I’d like to hand out my presents.

Jason Bay – A home run on Opening Day. Last offseason everyone was worried about Wright’s lost home run power and the bomb he hit on Opening Day propelled him to 29 homers in 2010.

Pedro Beato – A spot in the Mets’ bullpen. This is a great story waiting to happen, the guy the Mets let get away who switches roles and winds back with his hometown team. Now it just needs a happy ending.

Carlos Beltran – A season of 650 PA in which he hits like he did at the end of last season. In his final 160 PA, Beltran hit .295/.369/.504 which is close to what he did in 2007-08.

Luis Castillo – A trade out of town. There’s still good baseball left in Castillo’s body, but Mets fans are so down on him that, much like with Kaz Matsui, it’s likely not to be in New York. After Matsui left the Mets, he posted an .896 OPS the rest of 2006, after opening with a .505 mark with New York. It’s easy to see the same thing happening with Castillo.

Ike Davis – A copy of The Fielding Bible. Any player who advanced fielding metrics rank so highly should understand what makes him good defensively. Hint: It’s not fielding percentage. The last thing we need is to develop another guy like Joe Morgan, who seems clueless as to what it was that made him great.

R.A. Dickey – Continued success throwing strikes.

Dillon Gee – Two free agent starting pitching signings. While I root for Gee, who gets the most out of his stuff, odds are stacked against him succeeding as a starting pitcher over a full season. He is a great guy to have as pitching depth, a guy to make 10 starts a year. Counting on him for more than that is just inviting trouble. Sure, he had a 2.18 ERA last year. Gee also had a 5.19 xFIP. It’s reminiscent of Fernando Nieve, who had a 2.95 ERA in 2009 but a 5.41 xFIP. Nieve posted a 6.00 ERA in 2010.

Daniel Murphy – No defensive gaffes in Spring Training. Murphy can be a nice asset offensively at second base and the possibility for an exciting platoon with Rule 5 selection Brad Emaus exists if both can hack it defensively.

Jonathon Niese – A normal year in LOB%. Last year Niese had three months with a strand rate over 79, including July when it was a whopping 98 percent. Conversely, he had three months below 63, including September when it was 54.1 percent. His July ERA was 2.48 and it was 7.11 in September.

Angel Pagan – A set position. Last year Pagan played all three outfield spots and batted in all nine slots in the order. It would be nice if Terry Collins brought some stability to Pagan’s life.

Bobby Parnell – A pitch to throw to lefties. Last year RHB had a .614 OPS against Parnell while LHB had an .806 mark. If only our pitching coach had a track record of adding to his troops’ arsenal.

Ronny Paulino – Contentment in a platoon role. Paulino is on record as saying he wants to be a full-time catcher and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play everyday. But a Thole-Paulino platoon has the makings of one of the best offensive tandems in baseball.

Mike Pelfrey – As many starts in Citi Field as the Mets can manage. The past two seasons, Pelfrey has the following home/road splits:

H: 16-8, 3.24 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
R: 9-13, 5.84 ERA, 4.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9

Oliver Perez – An early release. Sandy Alderson wants to give him a shot in Spring Training. May he pitch so poorly that the Mets release him in time for him to hook on with another club, preferably one in the National League East.

Jose Reyes – Better strike zone judgment. In 2004, 62.1 percent of the pitches thrown to Reyes were in the strike zone. Last year that number was down to 44.6 percent as pitchers knew they could get him to chase pitches. His O-Swing% was a career-high 32.1 percent last year.

Francisco Rodriguez – A “boo” holiday from the fans. Rodriguez pitched well before everything came crashing down last year. Now fans seem more interested in him not reaching his vesting option than they do in having him successfully close out games. While Rodriguez is far from the only player capable of finishing games, Mets fans would do well to remember what it was like down the stretch in 2008 after Billy Wagner was hurt.

Johan Santana – A calendar year without surgery.

Josh Thole – A quick start to the season. Last year he had a .172/.242/.259 line in April. With a new backup catcher who wants to be a full-timer, a hot start for Thole could ensure optimal usage for both players.

David Wright – A hitting coach that makes him stand close to the plate. Maybe he can’t stop swinging at high fastballs or low curves but at least this way he can reach the outside strike. May he and Dave Hudgens get off to a good start together.

Terry Collins – What he needs is 150 games from Bay, Beltran and Reyes. Of course, it would be nice to see him run a tighter, smarter ship than Jerry Manuel did.

Sandy Alderson – The courage to make the right deal at the trading deadline. Perhaps it’s pulling the trigger on a potential Beltran deal. Hopefully it’s to acquire a starting pitcher to bolster the rotation for a playoff run. But since Omar Minaya seemingly never made a key mid-season deal, may Alderson trump his predecessor in this area, too.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the readers of Mets360. Thanks for checking us out throughout the year and hopefully 2011 will be better than what we’ve experienced the past few years.

The Mets’ new LOOGY?

“But keep in mind that Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi are both free agents, and that leaves the Mets badly in need of lefty relief. This is not what you imagined Perez would be doing for $12 million in 2011, but the Mets are spending the $12 million already. Perez did hold lefties to a .214 average last year. Of course, being Perez, three of the nine hits he allowed to lefties were homers and he walked more (11) than he struck out (10).

Still, I don’t think it would be outrageous to bring Perez to camp and hope that being in a contract year and being able to focus just on relief gets the Mets some quality innings out of the pen. If it doesn’t, no harm, no foul, just release him then.”

Joel Sherman, speculating on how Oliver Perez could fit in on the 2011 Mets.

Source: New York Post

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Ollie for Daisuke – who says no?

Let’s say Sandy Alderson and Theo Epstein are having a drink together during the Winter Meetings and I walk over and say: Fellas, you know what you should do? You should trade Oliver Perez for Daisuke Matsuzaka! Which GM would say no first? Would they both say no? Would they both start a bidding war for my services? Regardless, let’s try to look at this potential deal for both teams.

Why the Mets would do it

They would get rid of Perez. Wait, you want more? Okay, they would save $2 million this season. With Johan Santana out for an unspecified amount of time at the beginning of the year, the Mets’ projected starting rotation right now has Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese, R.A. Dickey and I suppose Dillon Gee. In other words, they really need some SP.

Matsuzaka is two years removed from an 18-win season and last year put up a respectable 4.05 FIP while playing half his games in Fenway Park and while having to face great hitting teams like the Yankees (3 times), Rays (3 times) and Blue Jays (4 times). While he would now have to face the Phillies, he should find the Braves, Marlins and Nationals much more to his liking. A flyball pitcher, Matsuzaka should thrive playing his home games in Citi Field.

Why the Red Sox would do it

While Perez costs $2 million more this season, that’s not an obstacle for Boston. Plus, Perez’ contract is up following the 2011 season, while Matsuzaka is signed through the 2012 season. Even a team flush with cash like the Red Sox wouldn’t mind having an extra $10 million to play with for 2012. And Perez is 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA lifetime versus the Yankees

With a starting rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jon Lester, Perez would be the team’s fifth starter and would be in a position to succeed. And if he falls on his face Tim Wakefield is ready to step in and take the innings.

Why the Mets would decline

The Mets are already in a sense punting 2011 and having Matsuzaka on the team limits the payroll flexibility they will enjoy in the offseason heading into 2012. Plus, since winning 18 games in 2008, Matsuzaka has made just 37 starts in two seasons. The Mets need innings, not a $20 million question mark. And even when he was healthy, Matsuzaka was not very productive, with a 4.99 ERA over the past two years.

Because he always puts runners on base, last year’s 4.33 BB/9 and 1.37 WHIP virtually matching his career numbers, Matsuzaka is a threat to tax the bullpen each time out. Last year he failed to complete six innings in 10 of his 25 starts. The Mets need reliability and durability from the rotation and neither of those are strong suits for Matsuzaka.

Why the Red Sox would decline

They would get Perez. Wait, you want more? Okay, while the Red Sox appear to have a solid rotation even without Matsuzaka, it’s not nearly as good in reality as it appears on paper. Beckett has been great for two years in Boston and considerably less than that in the other three years. Lackey was hardly the top of the rotation guy they thought they were getting when they handed him a five-year deal last offseason. And Tim Wakefield is coming off a 5.34 ERA last year and will turn 45 next August.

While Matsuzaka has been unimpressive the past two seasons, he has made strides in improving his control, as his BB/9 have dropped the past two seasons. Last year he was victimized by a low strand rate, one over 7 percent lower than his career average. With a few less walks and a more typical Matuszaka season in LOB%, he could easily be a league-average or better starter. The Bill James projection pegs him with a 3.85 ERA in 27 starts in 2011.

The verdict

The Red Sox would say no first. But that does not mean this trade has no shot of happening. Instead it means the Mets would have to sweeten the offer. In the comments section, chime in with what you would be comfortable adding to the pot to get Boston to take Perez off the Mets’ hands.

End of season report card for the Mets

For a season that opened up with hope, and which was carried to the All-Star break, the Mets once again flamed out and disappointed their fans and had their second consecutive losing season (79-83).

Change is now on the horizon as GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel were given their pink slips on Monday.

While this may be an exercise in futility, let’s look at the 2010 New York Mets and grade their performances on the field.

Catcher:
Josh Thole: B
With Rod Barajas breaking camp as the starting catcher, not much was expected of Thole this year. But when Thole was called up on June 24, he impressed the franchise with his ability to hit in the clutch and get on base. With the team fading from the playoff picture, Barajas was squeezed out and eventually traded to the Dodgers. Thole was given the starting job all to himself. He hit a few bumps down the stretch but hit .277/.356/.366.

Henry Blanco C+
As a backup catcher, you know what you are going to get from Blanco: good game-calling and sound defense. For the most part, Blanco did his job.

First Base:
Ike Davis: B
Davis arrived in late April and provided a spark with his pop and defense. He struggled in the middle months, before hitting well down the stretch. Davis needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but is a player Met faithful could rally around.

Mike Hessman D-
The power-hitting minor league journeyman was only good for one home run this year. He was lost at the plate en route to a .127 average.

Second Base:
Ruben Tejada: C
If Tejada wasn’t so impressive with his glove, his grade would have been much worse. Tejada, who had a fine September, will have to hit for a higher average if he wants to be the everyday second baseman for the Mets next year.

Luis Castillo: F
Castillo has officially worn out his welcome in New York. His numbers were atrocious (.234/.336/.267), and he has a history of injuries. Don’t expect Castillo back next year.

Shortstop:
Jose Reyes: B
Reyes had an up and down season while battling an oblique injury for most of the summer. In stretches, Reyes was unstoppable, but his inconsistency was maddening. It was refreshing to see him finish out the season. Hopefully a new coach can propel his game to new heights.

Third Base:
David Wright: A-
Wright had a renaissance season by rediscovering his power stroke (29 HR’s this year as compared to the 10 he had on 2009 while knocking in more than 100 runs). However, Wright’s propensity for striking out and falling into prolonged cold streaks, put a damper on an otherwise resurgent season.

Outfield:
Angel Pagan: A
Not much was expected of Pagan going into the year, but he far exceeded expectations by hitting .290 with11 HR’s and 69 RBI’s. Pagan was a terror on the base paths, stealing a team-high 37 bases. Pagan was also dynamite in the field and displayed his versatility by playing all outfield positions.

Carlos Beltran: C
Beltran had a rocky beginning coming back from the disabled list in July. He was worthless as the Mets made their second-half swoon, but did show promise that he still does have some life left in his bat as he surged towards the finish. Beltran, who missed the last six days of the season with a minor knee injury, hit .321 in September to go along with five home runs and 13 RBI’s. He’ll likely be back with the Mets next year, but could become trade bait if the team falls out of contention.

Jason Bay: D
Bay was a bust from the word go. You don’t like to see his year end the way it did with a season-ending concussion, but he was not what the Mets paid for. He ended his season with .263 average to go with a pathetic six home runs and 47 RBI’s in 348 AB’s. Hopefully he can recapture his power next year, much the same way Wright did.

Chris Carter: C-
You gotta love Carter’s will and determination, but he is nothing more than a bench player with a limited ceiling.

Lucas Duda: C-
Duda is a prospect who does possess some pop. He struggled mightily once he was called up going 1-33, but did finish strong with four home runs in his last 15 games. His role for next season is not known.

Nick Evans: B-
Evans is another role player who did well for the Mets in the final month, and was the only Met hitter to hit above .300 (albeit in 36 AB’s). Evans will challenge for a roster spot next year.

Jesus Feliciano: C-
Feliciano was yet another Met who was good in stretches, but not one for consistency.

Starting Pitchers:
Johan Santana: B
Prior to Santana’s shoulder problems, he was once again a bright spot in the rotation with 11 wins to go with a 2.98 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Santana will battle for you every time he starts. Hopefully, he battles back from rehab and gets back to the Mets ASAP.

Mike Pelfrey: B+
Despite hitting a rough spot in the middle of the season in which Pelfrey had a 7.35 ERA in ten starts, which not so accidentally coincided with the Mets summer swoon, he rebounded to have a career year. Pelfrey had 15 wins to go with a respectable 3.66 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. The question going into next year is which Mike Pelfrey will show up?

R.A. Dickey: A+
What superlatives are left to describe Dickey’s phenomenal season? This was a pitcher who was left for dead and all he did was win 11 games to go with a sparkling 2.84 ERA. His knuckleball kept hitters off-balance all season. Can he carry it over to next season?

Jon Niese: B-
Niese had a fine rookie season, but hit a wall going down the stretch. Niese won nine games and had decent peripheral stats (4.20 ERA, 148 strikeouts). Niese will be counted on to step up next season.

Dillon Gee and Pat Misch: INC.
Gee was fantastic down the stretch, going 2-2 in his five starts and throwing a quality start in each game. Gee will battle for a rotation spot next spring. With the way he pitched in September there is no reason he can’t at least contend for the fifth spot.
Misch was also an adequate addition to the staff. In his six starts, Misch got little run support and lost four games while picking up no wins. He’ll have a tough time cracking the rotation next year.

Oliver Perez: F
Is there a worse grade than F? If so, Perez should have it. His ineffectiveness, wildness, and stubbornness to accept a minor league assignment destroyed club morale and spirit. There is no comprehensible way that Perez should be back in any capacity.

John Maine: D-
I don’t know what was worse, Maine’s troublesome injuries or his mis-communication with management about them. His future with the team is cloudy right now.

Bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez: F
This grade is inherent solely on his off-the-field shenanigans. K-Rod embarrassed the club when he assaulted his girlfriend’s father after a game at Citi Field. K-Rod would injure his hand in the fracas and be out for the season

Hisanori Takahashi: B+
Takahashi was a jack of all trades pitching for the Mets. He was admirable as a starter, but was at his best when he pitched out of the pen. Takahashi even closed games, nailing down eight of eight save opportunities.

Bobby Parnell: B-
Prior to being shut down with inflammation in his elbow, Parnell was starting to capitalize on his potential. Parnell used his live jumping fastball to intimidate hitters. As with any young pitcher, he needs to get more consistent.

Pedro Feliciano: B
For the most part, Feliciano did his job. Feliciano is a workhorse that feasts on opposing lefties.

Elmer Dessens: B
Dessens was another pitcher to seemingly come out of nowhere and impress the club with his ability to eat innings and keep opposing teams off the scoreboard. While appearing in 53 games, Dessens had an impressive 2.29 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

Ryota Igarashi: D-
Igarashi was pitching well in April prior to a groin injury, but once he came back he was never the same. Igarashi finished the season with an unhealthy 7.12 ERA

Manny Acosta: B-
Acosta was solid in his middle-relief role, but was used in a lot of mop-up duty.

Fernando Nieve: C-
Nieve got off to a good start, but was overused and got designated for assignment in late July.

Raul Valdes: C
Valdes was good in stretches as well, but he was another guy who did not pitch much in pressure situations.

Jenrry Mejia: C+
Mejia should have never started in the bullpen this year. He should have been sent down to the minors to fine tune his career as a starter. Mejia was not awful in the pen, and the hope is he can contend for a rotation spot next year.

Top 10 ways Mets have frustrated followers

It has been another frustrating season for the New York Mets and their fans.

The Mets spent eight days in last place early in the season and last led the National League East on April 30. Their offense totally collapsed in July, they couldn’t get a big hit when needed and key pitchers slumped at inopportune times.

Below I explore the 10 most frustrating topics for the 2010 New York Mets. Stats are through Tuesday.

1. Inability to hit and score in the second half

During the Jul. 6-Sept.1 period in which New York went 18-31 and dropped from two games back to 13 back, it endured four separate streaks of between three and seven games of scoring three runs or less (3,4,4,7). New York endured only two 3-game streaks prior to the break.

New York averaged 2.84 runs and hit .178 with RISP, .143 with two outs in RISP and .161 (5-for-31) with the bases loaded. The Mets entered the period batting .284/ .231/.208 in those situations.

Culprits with runners in scoring position

Wright, 5-for-39

Davis, 6-for-35

Pagan, 10-for-35

Reyes, 8-for-31

Barajas, 0-for-6

Francouer, 4-for-34

Castillo, 4-for-22

Bay, 2-for-7

Note: Wright was 30-for-91 with runners in scoring position prior to that stretch; Pagan 24-for-64 and Barajas 16-for-56.

2. Dysfunctional front office

There has to be a disconnect somewhere when injured stars Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes and management continually have breakdowns in communication over injuries, return dates, etc. And it happened again this season more than once.

Who is running the show?  The Wilpons?  Minaya?  Nobody seems to know, resulting in the Mets’ front office becoming a laughing stock.  Questionable long-term investments in Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay, among others have helped the Mets’ decide to fly Minaya coach on airflights.  Minaya and Manuel seem to be dead men walking at this point.

The front office took hits for not being able to effectively handle the Perez mess at the most crucial time of the season and endured ridicule over the Francisco Rodriguez abuse situation and revelations of his past bad behavior.  And they couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on deadline trades that could have helped the club.

Manuel doesn’t escape scrutiny, blowing out Fernando Nieve, who pitched 20 times by May 9, and stagnating top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia’s development by adding him to the bullpen Opening Day instead of having him pitch every fifth day in the minor leagues.  Manuel lacked the presence and fire to get the most out of mercurial shortstop Jose Reyes and others, insisted on playing Jeff Francoeur and batting Luis Castillo and Ruben Tejada at the top of the order.

3. Jason Bay power outage

Boston GM Theo Epstein was ripped when he wouldn’t ante-up for Bay in the offseason, but whose laughing now?

Bay, who signed for four years and $66 million, hit .259 with a career-low .402 slugging percentage to go with a .749 OBA – second lowest in his career – with six homers and 47 RBI in 95 games before a concussion ended his season.

Among players with 400 plate appearances and a .400 slugging, Bay has the seventh lowest HR percentage (1.72) this season and by far the lowest among players who at one time hit 30 homers.

Bay hit two homers in his last 33 games (both in same game) and hit .170 with a .443 OPS in his final 14 games when the Mets were going through a July power drought.  He had a 6.72 HR percentage last season in Boston with 36 blasts.

One positive note for Bay-lovers.  The 32-year-old posted a.830 OPS at Citi Field.

4. Mike Pelfrey slump

I think everybody in Mets nation has bought into Pelfrey as a solid starting pitcher.  He’s the 10th right-hander in franchise history to post 15 wins, and Pelfrey started 2010 great and is finishing strong.  Unfortunately, however, most fans are fixated on Pelfrey’s slump, which happened to coincide with New York’s offensive woes in July and August.

And it was bad. After starting 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA, Pelfrey went 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in seven starts from June 30-Aug. 4, getting tagged for 62 hits and 16 walks in 30 innings.

It was too late for the Mets by the time the 2005 first-rounder turned it around, going 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in his last nine starts.

5. Second base production – or lack thereof

Check out these OPS numbers:  Luis Castillo, .606, Alex Cora, .543, Ruben Tejada, .561.  Among players with 169 TPA, Cora is third worst, Tejada 9th and Castillo, 15th.  The trio has combined for one homer, 50 RBI and 67 runs in 686 plate appearances.

Among major league second basemen, the Mets rank last in OPS (.583) and homers (1) and 29th in average (.222) and doubles (19).

With the Mets second basemen mostly batting second, New York ranks 29th in the majors in OPS (.652), batting (.246) and homers (4) from the No. 2 spot.

6. David Wright slump

When the Mets needed a lift most from their best player, Wright couldn’t deliver.

Wright was third in the NL in RBI with 64 in 82 games on July 1, batting .317 with a .941 OPS.

When New York went 18-31 from July 7- Sept 1, Wright hit .242/.710 OPS and 22 RBI.  He was 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position and endured skids of 3-for-27, 2-for-33 and 1-for-15 during that period.  He has added a 5-for-39 skid in September.

Wright is a few strikeouts shy of  Tommie Agee and Dave Kingman’s franchise record of 156 strikeouts.

7. Rod Barajas disappearing after great start

Of his 12 homers, Rod Barajas had three multiple-homer games and belted game-winning homers in the ninth inning on May 4 & 7.

Barajas hit .269 with an .844 OPS in his first 41 games through May 31 with 11 homers and 30 RBI.  He hit .163 with a .444 OPS in his last 33 games with a homer and four RBI.  He had one RBI in June.

In 2009 at Toronto, Barajas was batting .311 with a 823 OPS and 34 RBI in his first 44 games before finishing the last 91 games with .194 average, .598 OPS and 48 RBI.

Can Josh Thole take over full time?  Thole had four RBI in his first nine at-bats, but just nine in his last 162 at-bats.  He is batting .241 with a .564 OPS in September with two RBI in 54 at-bats.

8. The struggles of Pedro Feliciano

It’s hard to quibble with a man who is leading the NL in appearances for the third straight season and could have joined Paul Quantrill as the only pitchers in history with four straight 80-appearance seasons if he only had pitched in two more games in 2007.  But Feliciano has allowed 12 more hits and nine more walks in the same amount of innings this season as last.

Again, during the Mets’ biggest offensive swoon, Feliciano came up small.  In 26 games from June 29 to August 31, the 33-year-old was 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA and 27 hits and 10 walks allowed in 16 1/3 innings.

Overall this season, Feliciano has been hit at a .351 clip by right-handers (.285 career), .328 on the road (.263) and .303 with runners in scoring position (.226).  Only a great September run (2 runs, 5 hits in 12 IP) has given Mets fans hope that he hasn’t used up his effectiveness for 2011.

His OPS by days rest increased with days off:

.579 with no days;

.660 with one day;

.817 with two days;

.967 with three days;

1.750 with five days

.984 with six days.

9. Oliver Perez and John Maine

If New York was going to contend, it needed two of the three pitchers among Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine to come through.

For the most part, Pelfrey took care of business, but Perez and Maine didn’t.  Even before Maine got hurt, he didn’t pitch well. He was 1-3, 6.13 ERA and a 1.815 WHIP in nine starts.

Perez was even worse.  After a solid 2008 campaign and signing a 3-year/$36 million contract, Perez is 3-8 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.964 WHIP in 30 games.  After a knee injury shut him down last season, Perez was 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA this season and completely killed club morale by refusing an assignment to Class AAA.

10. Opening with Gary Matthews Jr. in CF

Jerry Manuel had Matthews in center field over Angel Pagan on Opening Day.

Matthews was less than underwhelming, batting .190 with a .507 OPS in 65 plate appearances. He drove in just one of the 50 batters he had on base – a 2 percent ratio that is the second worst in the major leagues this season behind only Ryan Langerhans (4/61; .164).

Time to send Perez packing

Oliver Perez recently expressed an interest in returning to the Mets in 2011. Even though the team will have to pay him $12 million next year one way or another, they should tell Perez, “No thanks.”

Perez is in the second year of what has become an abomination of a contract for the Mets. Since being signed to a three-year, $36 million deal following the 2008 season, Perez has gone 3-8 with a 6.79 ERA and has issued two more walks (97) than strikeouts recorded (95) in 110 innings. Making his first appearance for the Mets in over four weeks on Monday night, Perez promptly served up a home run to Brian McCann leading off the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Mets, who are not playoff contenders with a little over a month left in the season, were down by five runs before Perez took the mound. It’s hard to create a more pressure-free scenario than that. Still, Perez labored through his inning, throwing more balls (15) than strikes (14) and walking two batters in addition to surrendering McCann’s homer. At this point, one has to wonder if having Perez around would do the Mets more harm than good.

While bidding farewell to Perez after the 2010 season would translate to one hefty severance package for the lefthander, it would be the right move for the Mets. Manager Jerry Manuel has no confidence in Perez, who has been reduced to a mopup role since being removed from the rotation in mid-May. Perez, who can refuse being sent to the minor leagues, was placed on the disabled list with a mysterious knee injury after closing out an 18-6 thrashing at the hands of the San Diego Padres on May 31. No doubt, the Mets were using the ensuing rehabilitation assignment to see if Perez could figure things out in the minors. While he did post a 3.47 ERA in four “rehab” starts between Single A and Triple A, success has not translated to the majors. In four outings since returning, Perez has allowed six earned runs and six walks in 5 1/3 innings.

Wildness has been a recurring problem for Perez, who led the majors in walks allowed (105) before signing his now infamous deal. Complicating matters has been a drop in fastball velocity that was evident even in 2008. According to FanGraphs.com, Perez had an average fastball velocity of 93 miles per hour during his breakout 2004 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was down to 91.2 mph in 2008, and Perez since has experienced a further decrease in average velocity to 88.1 mph this year. Relying on his changeup more than ever before, Perez has produced an unsightly WHIP of 2.045 this season.

If the Mets do cut bait on Perez despite the obscene amount of money they owe him, the move would not be unprecedented. In fact, the Mets were beneficiaries in the most recent release of a player owed at least that much money in the final year of his contract. On March 31, 2009, the Detroit Tigers sent Gary Sheffield packing despite being on the hook for his $14 million salary that season. Sheffield, who was at odds with the Tigers about being relegated to being the team’s designated hitter, signed with the Mets five days later.

Sheffield tied for second on the Mets with 10 homers, including the 500th of his career on April 17, in 2009. The only financial burden on the Mets was league minimum salary, an opportunity – if you want to call it that – the team should pay forward with Perez. Considering that Perez has not won a game for the Mets since August 18, 2009 – the same day Sheffield produced his final two RBI for the organization – and the team has a 1-14 record in games during which he has appeared this season, wouldn’t the Mets have a better chance of winning with Perez pitching against them than for them?

Oliver Perez sighting!

“I thought the velocity was a little better,” manager Jerry Manuel said after the Mets’ 9-3 loss. “Surprisingly, the command was better for a guy that hasn’t pitched in 28 days. I’ll be anxious to see how he feels [Tuesday]. Under those conditions, I thought he did well.

Manuel on the 28-pitch outing of Perez on Monday, when he went one inning, averaged 88 with his fastball and had just one swinging strike.

Source: MLB.com

Minaya, the Wilpons and Dave Cameron

FanGraphs Managing Editor Dave Cameron is one of the most influential online baseball writers around. Because of this he has had to take a fair amount of garbage over the years from people who comment on his stories. Some of the hostility is deserved; most of it is not. Highly visible people are subject to pot shots from those with less glamorous profiles. It goes with the territory, as Cameron himself would undoubtedly agree.

But recently I began to wonder about the corollaries between Cameron and the Mets front office/ownership.

Prior to the season, FanGraphs put out a ranking of the top organizations in baseball, one in which Cameron for the most part was responsible. It is impossible to do an exercise like this and have everyone agree with your assessment. The most controversial ranking was placing the Seattle Mariners sixth overall and plenty of people disagreed with it when it first came out.

Of course, with the Mariners having a terrible season and general manager Jack Zduriencik not enjoying quite the same success with his moves that he did a season ago, people brought up the #6org thing again and again. Finally, Cameron looked to address the whole Mariners ranking with his audience and ended up with a four-part series. In the first he solicited comments and in the final three he answered select queries. He ended the series with:

But, it seems like most people aren’t really interested in talking about the sausage making process. They just want an apology or an admission of error. So, this is for all of you who fall into that category.

You were right. I was wrong. The Mariners have had a bad year. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have ranked them as highly.

Was this the inevitable end of the series? Perhaps, but I am not convinced that Cameron planned it that way. I do not think he relished writing that and some in the comments section felt that it was insincere. But others went so far as to thank him for the apology.

Why is it so important for some to hear those words (leaving aside the question of sincerity)? It harkens back to Mark McGwire and the steroids controversy. Why is it so important to hear or read that someone is sorry? Is McGwire a Hall of Famer if he apologizes and not worthy if he does not? Is Cameron one of the best writers around if he apologizes and a schmuck not worth reading if he does not?

Which brings us to Omar Minaya and the Wilpons. The Mets have a couple of players on the roster who the fan base generally abhors – Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. Castillo has seen his playing time diminish while Perez can be found on the side of milk cartons these days, as he has pitched just three times since being activated July 21st, with his last appearance coming on August 1st.

Seemingly no conversation can be had about the Mets without the contracts of Castillo and Perez working their way into the discussion at some point. On one level, it is understandable, as those two have combined for $18 million worth of suck in 2010.

But every team has bad contracts, many for more dollars and/or more years than the Castillo and Perez deals, which both end at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

But much like #6org, those contracts hover over everything. So, should Minaya and the Wilpons hold a press conference and publicly apologize for those deals, ala Cameron? Does management need to acknowledge those mistakes before they can move forward with a plan to get the team back to the playoffs? Will every move be met with a reminder of the Castillo and Perez deals?

Since the words “I’m sorry” seem to carry so much weight, I think it would be a good idea. It would also help if the Wilpons would commit to a payroll figure for the immediate future, as everyone still worries about if the club has the funds to operate as the large-market team it is and needs to be.

But could they hold that kind of press conference and still keep Castillo and Perez on the payroll? Is “I’m sorry” enough or does it need to be bolstered with the actual release of those two players?

Perhaps Minaya should call Cameron for advice.