ny_mets_logoYesterday I wrote a story about how the Mets should follow in the path of the 2013 A’s. Since there’s no game today, I thought it might be fun to follow up on that and try to do some non-vigorous number crunching. The idea is to throw some ideas about things out there and have the crowd weigh in on various things. Its aim is to be more fun than serious, so please point out all of the things that are wrong in the same spirit.

The article identified three ways that the A’s, a team not packed with stars, have succeeded this year. They are:

1. The health of their starting rotation, where only seven different players have started all year
2. The use of platooning to avoid sinkholes in the everyday lineup
3. Sensible bullpen usage with no LOOGY fascination

These and other figures are all inter-related, which makes separating them out and assigning a win value to them essentially impossible. But we’re just having fun here so we’re going to attempt to do that very thing.

Let’s start off with the starting rotation. The Mets’ best seven starters this year have been, in some order, Harvey, Wheeler, Gee, Niese, Mejia, Hefner and Torres. With the benefit of hindsight as these as our seven best – what if they started all of the games this year? In games started by that sextet the Mets have gone 60-68 (.469) while when the other five pitchers start, the Mets are 7-14 (.333). Without any extra benefit from an improved lineup or better bullpen management, we would expect the Mets to have gone 10-11 if their main seven guys had started those games, instead. So, give the Mets three more wins.

As for the lineup, the Mets have received the following fWAR:

Ike Davis – (-0.1)
Ruben Tejada – (-0.5)
Omar Qunitanilla – (-0.2)

That’s a (-0.8) level of production from two spots where a platoon would offer an immediate upgrade. Let’s say at those two positions, we instead put Lucas Duda/Josh Satin and Tejada/Qunitanilla platoons. Duda has an .853 OPS lifetime playing 1B and Satin has an .886 OPS lifetime against LHP. In limited action at first base, Duda has been about average (-0.1 UZR) while Satin has a 5.0 UZR. For grins and giggles, let’s say this platoon can put up an .850 OPS and be average defensively. Paul Goldschmidt had an .850 OPS and a (-1.2) UZR and put up a 2.9 fWAR. So, let’s say the Mets gain three more wins moving from Davis to the platoon.

At shortstop, Quintanilla and Tejada both suffered from playing nearly every day. The platoon should alleviate either one of them being driven into the ground and lifetime they essentially hit at league average rates for the position when they have the platoon advantage. While they are below average in the field, the two of them combined for a (-0.7) fWAR so far this year. So, let’s say the Mets gain two more wins by using the platoon.

Duda had a (-11.7) UZR in the outfield this year, meaning his defensive play there cost them over a win. We’ll give the Mets another win by removing Duda from the outfield mix.

Those are the easy ones. But if we platoon Matt den Dekker, how do we account for his value? Also, it seems reasonable to expect Lagares to play a full season. How do we account for his impact, especially from the defensive side of things? And will the Mets be able to replace Marlon Byrd’s production? We should also figure that Rick Ankiel and Jordany Valdespin won’t be providing 215 PA of sub-replacement level production, either.

I’m ready to throw my hands in the air and call those things a wash.

Now let’s address the bullpen fiasco. Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano and Robert Carson combined to post a (-1.5) fWAR. For ease of calculation, let’s pretend we replace those with a slightly-above-replacement-level reliever – Gonzalez Germen already has a 0.5 fWAR, so it’s not far-fetched – to give the Mets two more wins by eliminating the LOOGY madness.

We’ve already identified 11 Wins that are there for the taking. And that’s not factoring in any interdependent factors. Hopefully with more offensive support, the SP win more games. Hopefully with a more sensible bullpen deployment, relievers won’t be overextended and can provide better support to the starters. And we’re not counting on any improvement from the rookies, either.

The Mets are a depressing 67-82 right now. But I think we would all feel a little better in the alternate universe where they were 78-71. It’s not as good as the 88 wins that the A’s have. But a little luck and a little common sense could get us comfortably above .500 this year.

Okay, your turn to spitball.

22 comments on “Spitballing on some proposed Mets improvements

  • TexasGusCC

    Brian, what about:
    1. Taking out Aardsma with two outs and one on in the eighth, and watching four pitchers pitch to four batters giving up a lead?
    2. Calling Lagares out best defensive CF, but bringing in Cowgill as defensive replacement and he messed up both times costing wins?
    3. Inserting automatic outs in the cleanup spot?
    4. Bringing in Rice to pitch to LaRoche in the fifth inning and leaving him in to face Zimmerman thus yielding a bases loaded double and losing the lead?

    What about that little problem? How many more wins is that? We are talking gang busters here, but I think between Byrd’s May, June, July and August, and Buck’s April, the Mets have been very fortunate to have 67 wins because that production was not expected.

  • Metsense

    Now lets add 6 more wins for Ellsbury in CF, move Lagares to right, add 5 more wins for Choo in left and another 4 wins for Perralta at SS. Replace Collins to get a new perspective on the running of the team, have the Wilpon’s sell to an owner that would realize investing in a winning team in NYC is a goldmine , and hire a less conservative GM to spend the money(, but keep Sandy for trading purposes and tweeting). Now throw that spitball against the wall and see if it sticks! 🙂

    • Chris F

      Right on Metsense!

  • steevy

    First and foremost,get rid of Terry Collins!It all starts with that.

    • NormE

      I agree about getting rid of TC but the real poison is Fred and li’l jeffy. How do we get rid of them?

      • steevy

        Let’s start with the stuff that is easy to do.

  • peter

    The system can’t work if you have an outdated manager to execute the plan. While I am at it. Can we change our “hitting” coach? Why are so many Met pitchers coming down with arm injuries? I wish someone could compare the league average with the Met body count. Staying healthy and keeping key players from any significant time on the IR would help. You want to clean house? Start at the top and have Fred Wilpon sell the team to Michel Bloomberg. The billionaire mayor who is also from New York and a shrewd businessman who knows how to investment in the stock market(hint-hint Fred). Bloomberg is leaving the mayors office and could consider the franchise a true venture capital investment. Can you imagine Bloomberg with his no nonsense approach? The Mets would be contenders next year!
    Metsense. We can only dream. What a great outfield. Like you I have been clamoring for signing those 2 FA’S. I can’t understand how some fans see a down side to Choo for getting thrown out so many times for attempted steals. Between his hits,walks and HBP he will reach base 300 times! this season. I think management could accept that. Maybe not. I can see Collins pulling him to the side and telling him to stay still. God help us!

    • steevy

      Bloomberg would ban sugar ,and fatty foods at Citifield.

  • peter

    On a side note. As of today the Mets are 8th from the bottom. When the Mets host the Giants they could be playing for the 10 seed. Talk about praying for futility!

  • Scott

    How about a Flores/Duda platoon, with Satin sprinkled in against AL teams when Duda can DH. I like platooning Den Dekker. Signing Chris Young to be the right handed OF bat would work (A’s have an 11 mill option on him they won’t pick up) as he has always hit lefties, has pop and speed and plays D.
    After that SS needs to be addressed as well as
    the other corner OF spot.
    In thinking about this post, an interesting
    thought came to mind. The Rockies reportedly
    like Darnaud. How about a package for Cargo
    of Darnaud, Montero, Puello and lower minors
    prospect, then signing one of the top 4 FA
    catchers (Ruiz, AJ,Saltalamacchia, or McCann)
    until Plawecki is ready.
    Trade Davis or Duda to Tampa Bay for Escobar
    to play SS.
    Trade Murphy to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson and a pitching prospect, resign Hawkins and
    sign a starting pitcher preferably a lefty (Kazmir?).
    Here’s the lineups,
    EY Jr. 2B
    Lagares CF
    Wright 3B
    Cargo LF
    Young RF
    Flores 1B
    Recker C
    Escobar SS

    Righties :
    Lagares RF
    Escobar SS
    Cargo LF
    Wright 3B
    McCann C (I know I didn’t choose him, but he’s the best FA catcher out there)
    Flores 2B
    Duda 1B
    Den Dekker CF

    • Brian Joura

      At this point in time, I don’t see the advantage of platooning Flores. If he’s not traded, I think he should be in Triple-A playing every day.

    • peter

      Need to upgrade the lead off position. No point in having RBI guys when your lead off hitter(s) is OBP is .317 and .295 respectively. Neither one draws walks(45 to 18). Choo, Choo Choo is the way to go. Plug him in to lead off slot and the team is a little more dynamic on top.

  • peter

    Do the Mets groom Flores to eventually take over for Wright? Or play him at second base/DH? Reason being I only see 2 players of any value who could be in a trade. Murphy being one.

  • peter

    Steevy that was awesome! Maybe he can ban the Wilpons while we’re at it. At least Bloomberg knows what a sound investment is. I would happily accept the ban if the Mets were to win another World Series.

  • Chris F

    With all the fun here, let me more than 1/2 serious propose this: Meet your new shortstop — #5, the Captain, David Wright. It gives Flores 3B, where he is clearly more natural. He has DW right next to him to learn from the master. Wright has publicly voiced that SS is a position he’d like to play if not at 3B. That only leaves the giant question of our underperforming collection of 1B scruffies for the infield (and possibly d’Arnaud).

    Alternatively, let DW move to LF. We get an immediate power bat and only need 1 more out fielder.

    As for Choo. Expect the price to head to the 100M$ mark. Texas is at meltdown with OF production and I expect Choo, Pence, and Ellsbury all to clear 90M$. I cant see the Mets with that kind of appetite. Grandy could be had for less.

  • peter

    I can’t envision David Wright in the outfield. Just coming back from the DL I would have concerns for Wright’s overall health and ability to play shortstop which will be more demanding on his aging body. The Rangers added Rios and have him until next year. Depends if Cruz comes back and helps them get into the playoffs. Sign 1 free agent. Surely the team can afford that. Or rather they can’t afford not to do something this off season.

  • Scott

    I like Choo, but he’s miscast as a lead off hitter. If he’d be perfect for the Mets as a 3 hitter. Think about it, what’s the value of a guy getting on base 40% of the time if you only have one guy to knock him in?
    I proposed a Cargo deal that probably won’t happen, so if Choo is the big pick up, you have to hit him 3rd with Wright behind him.
    Lagares has been obviously working on his plate discipline as his OBP has been about 320 in the second half. Is it really outlandish to expect an EY/Lagares lead off spot to hit any less than 270? If they draw 50 walks combined, over 650 plate appearances, they’d be on base 212 times for an OBP of 326. I think that’s decent in the LO spot, considering you’d have Choo and Wright to knock them in and keep the inning going by getting on base themselves at a high rate.
    Regarding the Flores platoon, it would work like this: against lefties he’d play 1st, against righties he would play 2B, so he would be playing everyday.

    • Brian Joura

      The average NL team this year gets a .334 mark from the leadoff spot, a figure dragged down by the Mets’ .298 mark. Choo needs to hit leadoff if the Mets somehow get him.

      In his last 178 PA, Lagares has a .282 OBP. His glove makes him a worthwhile starter but he should be hitting seventh or eighth in the lineup.

      • Metsense

        Ellsbury, Choo, Duda, Wright, Murphy, d’arnaud, Perralta, pitcher (just for Joe), lagares 🙂 duck, incoming spitball:)

  • peter

    Scott trade for CarGo. Choo leads off. Bat Young(2nd base)second and Wright third. Clean up is CarGo followed by a platoon at first base. Cathcer is 6th with Lagares and a platoon at short stop 8th. Fix the bleepin bull pen! How? Have someone who has the ability to judge and choose 4 pitchers. That’s 4 pitchers who can get lefties and righties out. Hire Joe Girardi to lead this group into the playoffs.

  • Scott

    I get the feeling they won’t do Cargo and Choo. They’ll try to deal for Cargo or Stanton first, then move onto Choo if they can’t land Stanton or Cargo.
    I have no problem with Choo hitting lead off if they pick up Cargo. That would be a dynamic 1 – 4. I just think they’ll do one or the other. If that’s the case, and it’s Choo, they better find a bat somewhere because, otherwise, they’re wasting that hefty OBP of Choo’s. Remember, this guy has hit in the middle of the order throughout his career and been just as productive as he is in the 1 or 2 slot.

  • Billy

    a few ideas ideas
    1) dream huge package to rockies for Tulo, Cargo, Cuddyer
    Lineup Lagares, Tulo, Wright, Cargo, Cuddyer, Murphy, 1B, d’Arnoud
    2) dream salary take on for trout, aybar, hamilton, Wilson (and hope we wont need to take Pujols salary)
    Lineup Trout, Aybar, Wright, Hamilton, Murphy, Lagares, 1B, d’Arnoud

    3) Salary/FA sign Choo, trade Aybar, Hamilton, Wilson or Weaver, Trumbo hoping to get several pieces for taking on Hamiltons salary with keeping most top prospects

    this route seems somewhat realistic and yields a team with great potential (Bench of Trumbo/Davis, Young, Turner)

    Choo, Aybar, Wright, Hamilton, Murphy, Davis/Trumbo, Lagares, d’Arnoud

    Harvey, Wheeler, Wilson or Weaver, Niese, Gee, Mejia

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