Another Quality Start, another no-decision for Johan Santana Wednesday night. In his last five games, Santana has five QS, a 2.51 ERA with 33 Ks in 32.1 IP and is 1-0. Santana is too big of a person to think about anything but the team, but it kills me to see the Mets consistently waste strong outings from their ace. It would be one thing if this was just one season, but it has been the pattern pretty much throughout his career with the Mets.

Back in 2010, Bob Klapisch wrote a column for Fox Sports in which he lamented this very thing. Klapisch wrote:

“You could be conservative and say the Mets have cost Santana a dozen victories since 2008. A more realistic estimate would be 15 or even 20.”

Of course, Klapisch’s estimates were incorrect, but it points out how this is not a new problem. Since people still use a pitcher’s win-loss record for evaluation purposes, it means that a lot of people view Santana’s tenure with the Mets as some type of failure. But in four years with the Mets, Santana has a 142 ERA+. Compare that to his time with the Twins, when he had a 141 ERA+. I hope everyone treasures each time we get to see him pitch for the Mets.

2011 versus 2012: There are three players – Ike Davis, Jon Rauch and Justin Turner – with interesting numbers now compared to a year ago. Let’s take a look at them individually, starting with Davis.

2011 – .302/.383/.543 in 129 ABs
2012 – .167/.222/..310 in 126 ABs

Perhaps last night’s RBI double is the start of Davis getting untracked. But if he does not show any improvement by the time Jason Bay comes back, look for Davis to be sent to Triple-A to rediscover his stroke.

All winter, I wrote about what a mistake it was to sign Rauch for $3.5 million. Then he gets off to a tremendous start. But things are starting to even out.

2011 6.23 .276 4.85 4.56
2012 4.02 .273 4.60 4.48

The big difference is with his FIP. Normally a guy who does not give up many homers, Rauch allowed 11 in 52 IP last year, which resulted in a 5.26 FIP. He’s yet to give up a HR in 2012 and because of that he has a 2.65 FIP with the Mets. It could get ugly quick if/when the gopher balls start coming.

Last year Turner developed a reputation as an “RBI man” thanks to his hot May, when he drove in 20 runs in 90 PA. This year he has 6 RBIs in 49 PA and you don’t hear the “RBI man” phrase much anymore. To be fair, Turner was a starter in 20 games last May and he has made just eight starts in 2012.

On June 23rd last year, I wrote a piece and noted that Turner drove in 25.4 percent of the runners on base when he came to the plate. He finished the year driving in 16.7 percent of the 282 runners on base. Here in 2012, Turner has come up with 39 runners on base and drove in six for a 15.4 rate. That mark is better than I would have expected, but still nowhere near his marks from early last year.

DUDA’S ON TARGET: Before the season started, 36 people over at FanGraphs entered a prediction for Lucas Duda and the average of those 36 forecasts turned up a .281 AVG with 21 HR and 85 RBIs. If Duda maintains his current pace, he’ll finish the year with a .274-18-79 mark. Yet people are still thinking his season has been a disappointment.

In his last 106 PA, Duda has a .315/.406/.413 line. It’s the lack of power that has people worried/upset. I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be upset at anyone who gets on base over 40 percent of the time. However, I wonder if the Mets would be better off batting Duda ahead of David Wright.

DEATH BY NICK: The Mets did not add a backup catcher in the offseason, figuring that defensive-oriented Mike Nickeas was a good option for the club. Everyone has good things to say about Nickeas but the results have just not been there. The Mets are 5-8 with Nickeas as a starter and the pitching staff has a 5.42 ERA with him behind the plate. Offensively, he has been as bad as feared, as he has a .179/.289/.231 line in 46 PA. Meanwhile, Kelly Shoppach, who was available as a free agent in the offseason and who signed for less than half the money of Rauch, has a .265/.368/.469 line and is a solid righty bat.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: R.A. Dickey takes the mound for the Mets today as they square off in a 1:10 start against the Reds. The Mets are 10-5 in day games this year, with Dickey notching three of those wins.

5 comments on “Mets Notes: Unlucky Santana, 2011 v 2012, Nickeas’ defense

  • Bobby Townsend

    Bad bullpen and lack of run support in most of Santana’s starts.

  • Metsense

    As long as the Mets are playing competitive baseball, the future is now and results matter.
    Re Davis: I agree, a AAA trip may be helpful and an immediate call-up when he gets straightened out.
    Re Turner: With the addition of Cedeno he is expendable.Turner is an NL average secondbaseman that some team should need. He is a major leaguer.
    Re Duda: if Davis goes down, and Duda goes to first, then the defense and offense may be overall better with this alignment.
    Re Nickeas: Shoppach is living proof that the Mets had no excess money this winter.
    Re Santana: He is an ace but is any pitcher worth 23M a year? Would it be better to have two 12M pitchers instead? I truly don’t know the answer to that question.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks Metsense.

      I’m writing this after watching Nickeas strike out again. The Mets had the money to sign Shoppach but they opted to spend more than twice that amount on Jon Rauch. I thought it was a mistake then and nothing I’ve seen from either player so far makes me feel differently.

      • Metsense

        We both agree on Shoppach and Rauch.The Mets were proactive and signed both Fransisco and Rauch before the reliever market was established and actually overpaid for both. At the time they probably thought jumping in early was the thing to do and would save them money.I would have signed Dotel instead of Rauch.It took $12MM to sign Fransisco. Given that relievers such as Chad Qualls, Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins signed for $3MM or less, $12MM seems like a lot for Francisco. Two of these instead would have hedged their bets. I know you don’t believe in closer by committee (I call it closer by hot hand)but was Fransisco a true closer for his career? With so many changes in closers for teams in 2012, maybe more GM will reevaluate this role in the future.

        • Brian Joura

          I don’t think it’s fair to compare the money in Francisco’s two-year contract to the dollars in one-year deals for Qualls, Saito and Hawkins. Francisco got two years because he’s both younger and a better pitcher than those three.

          In Hawkins’ two years as a closer, he had a 76% (2001) and 74% (2004) save percentage. Francisco, even with his recent stumbles, has an 82% save percentage this year. I believe that number will be higher at the end of the season.

          As a baseball fan, I would like nothing more than to see teams change how they use their bullpens – not just how they manage for saves. But when that change comes, it will be from a manager with juice – someone like Jim Leyland. There’s not many GMs with that juice. Sandy Alderson is most likely one who could do it and he still thinks the current setup is the optimal one.

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