Thursday, July 09, 2009

For the foreseeable future, new baseball posts will be over at Shea Hey.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Both blog writers and real-life people seem to feel that the Mets have been a huge disappointment this season, but I'm not sure if there's anything to be disappointed by other than all the injuries.

Here's a simple exercise - look at the pre-season projections for everyone who's played for the Mets, multiply by how much they've actually played, and see how many runs we should've reasonably expected this team to score and give up.

For hitters, I took the PECOTA projection of EqA (which is a measure of overall offensive value), looked at the actual number of PA for every hitter who has played for the Mets this year, and then made a small adjustment for the park factor. According to the pre-season projections, the Mets should've scored 324 runs so far this year.

For pitchers, I took the PECOTA projection for ERA for each pitcher and then multiplied by their actual IP to determine how many earned runs the team was projected to allow. Since PECOTA doesn't project unearned runs, I assumed an average number of unearned runs for the team as a whole (the average MLB team has given up 26 unearned runs this year). The PECOTA projections come out to 332 total runs allowed.

Here's a table comparing the PECOTA projections to the actual performance of the team this year:

PECOTA Mets 324 332
Real Mets 333 338

The Mets have been slightly better on offense than projected and slightly worse on pitching/defense, and pretty much the same if you combine the two.

So, blame Omar for putting together a crappy team. Blame the trainers for failing to keep the team healthy. But, it's hard to blame Manuel and the coaching staff for failing to get adequate performance from the players they've been dealt.

Friday, June 05, 2009

One of the defining memories of Joe McEwing is that he OWNED Randy Johnson. As the years have gone by, it's hard for me to remember why exactly we were so confident when Super Joe squared off against the Big Unit.

Fortunately, in honor of Johnson's 300th win, Buster Olney posted some interesting tidbits about the surly giant, including the following:

Best Game By a Hitter Against Randy Johnson
May 21, 2000: Probably the best game by a hitter who measured at least a foot shorter than Johnson. Little utility man Joe McEwing had two doubles and a home run against Johnson, making him the only batter with three extra-base hits in a game against the Unit (all eight of the Mets hits against Johnson went for extra bases). The matchup included a 12-pitch battle in the fifth inning in which McEwing fouled off seven two-strike pitches before doubling. This was a day in which Johnson struck out 13, but the Mets rallied from deficits of 1-0, 3-2, and 5-3, before winning 7-6 on a ninth-inning hit by Derek Bell. McEwing would score the winning run."He's a good little ballplayer," Johnson told the media afterwards, keeping his description of McEwing brief.

Unfortunately, a little further research indicates that McEwing only had the one great game. His career line against Johnson excluding that one game:

40 AB, 8 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, .200/.195/.275,  .470 OPS

Interestingly, McEwing had more plate appearances against Johnson than any other pitcher.

If you want a crappy player who did actually own Randy Johnson, there's Randy Velarde, who had a .452/.500/.548 line in 46 career plate appearances, owning the highest OPS against Johnson of any player with 40 plate appearances.

In other news, Turk Wendell did in fact own Mark McGwire, who was 0-8 against #99, with 6 Ks and 3 BBs (one of which was intentional).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here's a good simple piece by Joe Posnanski regarding Carlos Beltran and why Steve Philips was so off-base to criticize him. Go read it and come back.

Steve Philips is an idiot, but a lot of Mets fans seem to underestimate just how good Beltran is. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it's a combination of: (1) a few memorable bad moments, particularly the strikeout looking to end the 2006 NLCS; (2) he's an extremely well-rounded player, but he doesn't have one stat or individual tool that leaps out as being ridiculous (somewhat reminiscent of Bobby Abreu's no-frills peak with the Phillies); and (3) he doesn't come across as being intense. 

Because of all that, a lot of Mets fans have simply missed the fact that Carlos Beltran has been one of the best players in baseball since his arrival. We're so used to grumbling about all the bad free agent signings the team has made that we ignore one of the great signings they've made. I took a look at Fangraphs' measurement of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which includes offense and defense, and adjusts for position played. I added in a baserunning measure to make it more complete.

Based on these calculations, Carlos Beltran ranks as the 7th best position player in baseball since he signed his contract with the Mets. Here's the top 10 since 2005 (including 2009 thus far) in WAR (# of wins contributed to their team above a replacement-level player):

Pujols 33.4
Utley  31.8
A-Rod  31.0
Sizemore 28.0
Wright  27.2
Chipper 23.1
Beltran 22.7
Holliday 21.9
Cabrera 21.4
Ichiro  21.3

In case you're wondering where Hanley is, he's 11th even without playing in 2005. He'd rank 6th if we excluded 2005.

Further explanation of the methodology - I took Fangraphs' calculation of WAR, which takes into account overall offensive production versus league average, defense (measured by UZR) versus league average, makes a positional adjustment, and then adds value over a replacement level player (which adds about 2 wins for a full season). I think Fangraphs' measurement is the best comprehensive available, sortable stat on the web, but it has 3 flaws: (1) it doesn't make an adjustment for the difference between the NL & AL; (2) it doesn't include baserunning (other than SB & CS); and (3) it doesn't include defense for catchers. I made adjustments to correct for the first two. I made a rough imperfect adjustment by giving AL players .25 wins per season and docking NL players .25 wins per season. And I added non-SB baserunning from BP's eqBRR report. Catcher defense is a little hard to measure, but to be complete, I should've added a basic measurement for catcher SB/CS, and maybe passed balls/wild pitches. So, Joe Mauer is getting screwed here. He's at 20.1 and would probably crack the top 10 if we considered his above average defense.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The more things change, ...:

Kid Nichols wrote article in 1948 entitled, "Pitchers Are Sissies Now."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Interesting point made in this WaPo article. Everyone's getting very excited about Stephen Strasburg. But, in the entire history of the MLB draft (which began in 1965), none of the 199 pitchers who've been taken in the top 10 have gone on to have Hall of Fame careers (the closest case is Kevin Brown). Good reminder that there's a lot of added risk/uncertainty when it comes to young pitchers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tonight, the Mets are playing the Phillies at CitiField. The Yankees are playing the Rays at the new Yankee Stadium.

Currently on StubHub, there are 1,867 tickets available for the Mets game. The cheapest tickets are $13. There are a lot of tickets available for $15.

There are 4,619 tickets available for the Yankees game. The cheapest tickets are $4. There are a lot of tickets available for $5.

Kind of makes me wish I was a Yankee fan.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Johan is now my favorite Met.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Random thoughts as we approach Spring Training:

I'm sure a lot of "purists" will be outraged, but I think this plan for WBC games that reach the 13th inning makes a lot of sense. Overworked pitchers are a big concern in the WBC, so reducing the odds that games go ridiculously long makes sense. I think it might even make sense for regular season MLB games.

Is Jason Varitek really going to retire if the Red Sox don't give him a higher offer? Come on, Tek. You've made over $50 million in your career. You'll have a shot at a third World Series ring with the Sox. Accept that you're not worth nearly as much as you think and get ready for another season.

Good news for my fantasy team: according to BP prospect expert Kevin Goldstein, "Matt Wieters is the best prospect in baseball, the best player on the Orioles right now, and quite possibly the best catcher in the game." PECOTA projects him to hit .311/.395/.544 this season.

How much does it suck to be the Orioles? They have Wieters coming up, two very good young outfielders (Markakis and Adam "not Pacman" Jones, not to mention Felix Pie), and a bunch of pitching prospects. If they played in any division other than the AL East, they'd be in very good shape for 2010 and beyond, but they're stuck competing with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, arguably the best three teams in baseball.

The only reputation that will be harmed by Joe Torre's book is Joe Torre's.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

K-Putz! JJ-Rod!

Wow, the Mets have a bullpen. I'm a believer that a team with playoff ambitions should have a strong 1-2 punch in the bullpen. Now, the Mets have one of the best combos in baseball.

It's arguable that there are better ways to spend $37 million than on a closer, but I generally won't argue too much against acquiring the best available players at a given position; K-Rod and Putz were the two best available relievers.

The Putz deal is a very nice move. He's clearly a huge upgrade over Aaron Heilman. I'll miss En-dy Cha-vez, but not anyone else in this deal. Sure, Joe Smith is a decent arm, but groundball machine Sean Green seems to be an adequate replacement. Mike Carp had a nice year in Binghamton, but is far from a blue chipper. Jason Vargas is no loss. I've never heard of the other two guys.

My only fear about this trade is that Omar will have too much faith in Jeremy Reed as a 5th outfielder and not make any more moves. I'm okay with the Murphy/Tatis platoon in left, but we need another legit righty outfielder to serve in a platoon with Church or as insurance for Tatis. Someone like Juan Rivera or Marcus Thames. Omar's done a bad job building a bench in the past, let's hope he doesn't fall in that trap again this time.

Remaining priorities:
Starting Pitcher!!! - Lowe? Sheets? Perez?
Another Starting Pitcher - are we really sure Niese is ready? Garland? Moyer? Wolf? Marquis?
2B - I haven't heard anyone mention him, but how about Grudzielanek?
OF - see above

semi-related note: Endy probably won't start every day, but when he does, an outfield of Endy, Franklin Gutierrez, and Ichiro will be ridiculously good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

October 6, 1985 - 
One day after being eliminated from the race, the Mets close out the season by benching all their regulars. A seven year old boy attending his first game at Shea watches a bunch of players he's never heard of lose in under 2 hours by the score of 2-1.

September 26, 2008 - 
A thirty year old man attends his final game at Shea, suffering for three and a half hours as the Mets stumble through a 6-1 loss to the Marlins on a cold misty night. Two days later, the team's season predictably ends in disappointment on the final day of the season. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Absurdity of the Day:

Mike Nichols of metsblog: "As Keith Hernandez mentioned during SNY’s broadcast last night, it’s time for Delgado to be mentioned in National League MVP conversation."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Over at BP and SI, Nate Silver has finally put out his annual list of the top 50 players in baseball for the next 5 (6 counting this year) seasons. The Mets fare very well, with three players in the top 10:

1. Hanley Ramirez
2. David Wright
3. Albert Pujols
4. Evan Longoria
5. Grady Sizemore
6. Jose Reyes
7. Joe Mauer
8. Alex Rodriguez
9. C.C. Sabathia
10. Johan Santana

Beltran also makes the list, at #45. There are more robust ways to evaluate teams, but it's hard to win in baseball without at least a couple of premiere players. Having 3 of the top 10 (or top 25 for that matter) players in baseball for the foreseeable future means the franchise is in pretty good shape. There are some holes that need to be filled next year, but the core of the team is pretty strong.