Thursday, January 31, 2008

We Still Have One Prospect Left!

Attention, attention: This utterly fantastic piece of "artwork" is Used by Permission from Youth Change Workshops.

Voros McCracken manages to slam the Santana trade from both sides:
From the Mets point of view, considering that they look pretty incapable of developing a coherent plan for the future other than spend, spend and hope Wright and Reyes carry the lineup for the next decade, this is an excellent deal. If you don’t know how to use a scalpel, power up the chainsaw and carve away. The Mets are doing that by adding Santana to the rotation.
While the positive commentary vastly outweighs the negative commentary, those who are shining light on the dark underbelly of the Santana deal make some valid points.

I'd assume McCracken's premise is that instead of grooming their young pitchers for the majors, they shipped them off to the frozen tundra for one of the greatest pitchers of the past 5 years. Point taken. The fact remains, however, that the Mets held onto a pitcher who was once considered a "no-brainer" in Pelfrey and didn't give up their highest ranked prospect in Fernando Martinez. I understand that trading away Mulvey, Humber and Guerra was like taking a chainsaw to the farm system, but the deal also has the earmarks of a carefully prepared surgery as well (needed to get that scalpel reference in there somehow).

If Omar really took the McCracken-proverbial chainsaw to the body of the organization, he would have happily pulled the trigger at the Winter Meetings where we can only assume (based on the Red Sox & Yankee packages) that the asking price was much higher. Instead, Omar (again, I assume) trusted his instincts and sat back and waited for the price to get reasonable. When the price was reasonable (and nobody is arguing that it wasn't) Omar pulled the trigger. It just so happens that he employed both the chainsaw and the scalpel in executing this deal.

The second piece of not-so-happiness comes from JP at Blastings! Thrilledge. On the whole, JP isn't upset with the deal - it's the direction the Mets are headed in that he criticizes:
We won't forget [the collapse]. We will not be forced into optimism. And we will never give up hope that one day, the Mets will be an organization that develops young players and gives them starting jobs in the major leagues. As great as Santana is, his acquisition is a blow in that regard.
The Santana deal appears to be Yankee-ball at its finest. Trade away your young talent for a premier player. Well, we all know where that got the Yankees since 2001, and JP has reason to be concerned for the future.

I will not say the Mets philosophy will change and that they'll begin to develop prospects and give them a chance to succeed in the majors. I will say that as long as the Wilpon's are running the show, the constant pressure to win and compete with the Yankees - as asinine as it may be - will continue to permeate the organization as it has for as long as I can remember.

As fans, we should be thankful that we acquired the premier pitcher in the game in this deal. Based on past performance of an unnamed, semi-retarded BBTN analyst, Mets fans know that we could have traded those 4 prospects for a Gil Meche equivalent.

I don't condone the activity or philosophy of the Mets front office, nor do I think it will be beneficial in the long run - but for this trade, at least for the moment, the philosophy appears to have helped, rather than hurt, the team.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Yes, seven-and-a-half. That's how many wins Johan Santana is worth over a replacement player according to Baseball Prospectus. Take a look at the PECOTA projections for Santana as a Met in 2008:
         GS  W-L   IP      H     BB   SO    HR   ERA   
Mets 32 16-8 225.0 184 60 239 25 2.94

56.8 7.5 $22,400,000
Granted, BP defines a "replacement player" as someone extraordinarily bad and if an entire team was made up of replacement players it would project to win 20-25 games in a 162 game season. But without Santana who were the Mets other options in the final rotation spot? Based on his aggregate performance last season, Mike Pelfrey, at this point in his career, isn't much better. In fact, in 2006 with very similar WHIP, ERA, and ERA+ Pelfrey's WARP was 0.3.

Assuming that Livan Hernandez would be manning that spot and not Pelfrey still gives the Mets around 4.5 wins this season, as Livan's WARP has been hovering around 3 for the past three seasons.

PECOTA also has Santana's homeruns allowed returning to 2004-2006 type levels. As Nate Silver notes in the BP article, Santana was always a flyball pitcher it just seems more of the flyballs are leaving the parks at this point in his career. Either way, one would assume that pitching at Shea would help this HR problem. Well, like most assumptions, that would be wrong. Based on park factors alone, Shea is more HR-friendly than the Metrodome. It would appear - based on the 2008 PECOTA projections - that last season's increase in HR allowed was either a blip on the radar or Santana will benefit from facing less potent lineups in the National League.

One Santana should also get a boost from making half his starts on grass instead of carpet which could also reflected in the 13 less hits PECOTA projects him to allow as Met instead of a Twin. The park factors back this up for 1B and 3B, and as you would expect with its bigger gaps Shea plays better for 2B hitters.

Any way you look a it the Mets added the premier pitcher in baseball without giving up their blue chip prospect or major league talent. Unless Mulvey and Humber are anchoring that Twins rotation and Gomez is making his 2nd AS appearance in 2010 while Johan is in Port St. Lucie rehabbing his (for the second time) surgically repaired elbow, I'd go out on a limb and say the deal was a good idea.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Done Deal

Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via - as always - MLB Trade Rumors) reports that Santana to the Mets is a done deal. The package is supposedly what we all expected - Gomez, Humber, Mulvey, and Guerra.

This was just confirmed in the NY Daily News by Bill Madden and WFAN is also reporting it. Omar and Jeffy have 48-72 hours to work an extension out with Santana before the deal is finalized.

The fact that the Mets acquired the best LHP in the game without dealing our top prospect is even more impressive when you realize that both the Red Sox and Yankees best packages included their best prospects.

Santana, Pedro, Maine, Ollie, Duque. Who isn't excited?

Now I have to get that Baseball Prospectus subscription and finish the analysis of the trade...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pedro's Small Stature and Fragility = Key to 2008 Mets Success?

This is quite possibly one of the best ideas I've heard in a while. Tim Marchman suggests that the Mets would be better off using a 6-man rotation (at least to start the season). Thanks to Repoz for the link.
Maine and Perez both perform better on long rest, El Duque cannot make more than 25 or so starts in a season, and Martinez will presumably need extra rest; but none of this need be a problem. Assuming the Mets sign Livan Hernandez, they could put Pelfrey, Humber, or even Aaron Heilman a clear shot at a job by running a six-man rotation for a month or two at the beginning of the season, saving their best pitchers' arms for the stretch. Something like this could turn a weakness into a strength.
While the argument is strong, I doubt the Mets would ever entertain the idea. It's true that Pedro was kept on 5 days rest throughout September last season (if I remember correctly), but that was more a product of not over extending him and keeping him fresh for that oh so magical 2007 playoff run.

And while any Met fan will tell you that it appeared as if Maine and Perez tired down the stretch, the numbers back it up. Here were John Maine's ERA numbers by month:

Mar/Apr: 1.35
May: 4.50
June: 2.66
July: 3.56
August: 6.32
Sept/Oct: 5.93

1st Half: 2.71
2nd Half: 5.53

Remember that September/October had the near no-no in there as well.

Now, Maine's BABIP rose to .318 in the 2nd half from .253 in the first, but that could just as easily be the result of him leaving pitches up/losing velocity as it meaning he was unlucky.

Another interesting stat of Maine's is that his ERA in wins was 1.75 and - stunningly - his ERA in losses was 8.75. Compare that to a 4.02 mark in NDs and it seems to back up the fact that when things aren't going well Maine loses focus (i.e. mentally implodes).

Oliver Perez's numbers over the same period are as follows:

Mar/Apr: 3.86
May: 2.01
June: 4.06
July: 1.40
August: 5.19
Sept/Oct: 4.45

1st Half: 3.14
2nd Half: 4.04

Ollie's 2nd half numbers are skewed by his outstanding July, but his numbers also ballooned in August and September as compared to the rest of his season. Even more telling, his BABIP also skyrocketed from .240 in the 1st half to .312 in the 2nd.

In the second half Ollie walked 5 more batters and allowed 7 more hits in 12.1 fewer innings. From a cursory glance at the stats it seems as if his dropoff was simply from not going as deep into games which would make one assume he was throwing more pitches early.

And lo and behold that was exactly the case. Perez went 7 or more innings only twice from Aug. 1st on. Compare that to 9 outings of 7+ innings from Opening Day until July 20th. He was also averaging (roughly off the top of my head) the same number of pitches per start in about an inning less of work during the same period.

The same thing is true for Maine - only it began about a month earlier. Prior to July 5th (when Maine's ERA was 2.71 and he seemed to be a lock for the NL All-Star team) Maine had 9 outings of 7+ innings. After July 5th he had 3.

The empirical data - from a very brief look - backs up what every Met fan witnessed last season. We know the drill with El Duque. He'll miss a month if we're lucky. With Pedro you don't know what you're going to get. The same goes for Mulpelfumber. So, dare I say, what would the problem be with going to a 6 man rotation? Give Pedro and Duque the rest we know they need. Give Maine and Perez the rest that would probably help them be more productive late in the season. And assuming we don't sign Livan, give two of the three headed prospect monster a shot to make the rotation out of spring training.

I'd agree with Marchman, who (I'd assume) thinks this scenario looks better with one rookie and Livan than with two rookies; however, I'm not totally averse to doing it with two rookies either.

Who am I kidding. Bring on Livan, injuries, and another second half collapse!

EDIT: Jerry Crasnick (via MLB Trade Rumors) reports that it will be Kyle Lohse not Livan Hernandez if the Mets fail to acquire Johan Santana. So just go right on ahead and imagine the entire above mentioned scenario with "Kyle Lohse" instead of "Livan Hernandez." Just when you didn't think it could get any does!

Friday, January 25, 2008

KOYIC Needed a Dana Jacobsen Related Post...So I Stole One

From downrightnashty of Shoot Your Hopes and Dreams:
As a public service to anyone who currently works for, or is thinking of applying to that little Bristol-based network, I thought it would be appropriate at this time to recap what is/is not acceptable behavior for keeping ones job intact.

Sending around pictures of your penis like they are an office Christmas card: acceptable.

Trying to spark a debate about the media's possible bias towards black quarterbacks: unacceptable.

Getting completely and utterly shitfaced at a company roast and insulting the savior of over 1/3 of the world's population: acceptable.

Hugging an intern: unacceptable.
Hell of an organization you're running over there ESPN. Is it just me or did Harold Reynold's departure from BBTN coincide with the show going to complete shit? I haven't watched it regularly in over a season. The only thing I remember from 2007 is stumbling upon Steve Phillips and the Krukster bashing John Maine and then blacking out ala Kramer hearing Mary Hart.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Human (Post) Delay

The analysis of the Santana trade (which will never happen) will be up by Friday-ish. Until then, enjoy these links:
  • An olllddddddd Yark Work piece by "Milledge" about the Milledge deal. I don't know how I missed it, but it's fantastic as is everything over at Yard Work

  • Metstradamus has an entertaining (as usual) post on the Mets LHP acquisition....RICARDO RINCON!!!

  • Endy's back for 2008 and 2009

  • David Wright would love for the Mets to get Newsday, you call this news?

  • Omar wouldn't talk to Jon Heyman (can you blame him?) but Jon had no problem calling the Mets frontrunners in the Santana sweepstakes
Enjoy the never-ending stream of Giants talk until 2/3

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oh The Pain

As I'm working on my objective analysis of the prospects involved in the Santana trade I'm treated to this little nugget from MLB Trade Rumors:
"Olney talked to a talent evaluator who wondered whether the Twins might be concerned about Johan Santana's health. Reduced late-season velocity and less use of his slider could be signs."
Wouldn't that be the absolute last straw for any Met fan? Imagine trading for Santana only to find out he needs arthroscopic surgery in February and be out until August. I'm openly rooting for it to would completely sum up my entire existence as a Met fan in one painful press conference.

I, for one, would be willing to write a blank check for the audio of Joe Benigno's show the day after Omar announces that Santana is done for the season...ideally it would come on the same day as Humber is selected to start in the All-Star game for the AL.

Look for the real analysis of the trade this weekend.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It Shouldn't Even Be A Question

(Way too lazy/tired to photoshop Santana's face in there...but you get the drift)

John Peterson at Blastings! Thrilledge posted this recently:
There will be great celebration by sportswriters and fans when the Mets acquire Johan Santana, but not at Blastings! Thrilledge. It will mean the Mets have lost...

It's true that Johan Santana is a fantastic pitcher, and would make the Mets the clear favorite in the NL East, instead of just the likely Champion. But to trade no less than four prospects, your best four excluding Fernando Martinez, and pretty much your only four besides, is just too much...

The offer as it stands, apparently, is Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber and Deolis Guerra. This is already too much, but the Twins want F-Mart as well. And why not? The Mets have already shown how little they value their young players, how desperate they are to win now, at any cost...

Sure, the Mets add one of the best pitchers in baseball. But they will have to give him a large contract, and after next year will have to hand out even more money to replace Pedro and El Duque in the rotation, their young pitchers having been traded to Minnesota.

Next offseason the Mets will also have to retain the services of an outfielder, with Alou gone, Gomez traded and Fernando Martinez still developing.

All of these free agent signings will strip the Mets of their top-round draft picks, further depriving an already destitute farm system of talent.

When will this shit end?
Metstradamus was a bit more optimistic...but still wondered if Johan Santana was going to be the Mets fans version of Herschel Walker.

Alright. It's time to look at this from an objective viewpoint. This is Johan Goddamn Santana people. 3 of the past 4 years he has posted a sub-1.00 WHIP. His career ERA+ is 140. To put that into perspective the 2007 Met with the highest ERA+ (excluding Pedro's 3 weeks) was Ollie Perez at 120.

Santana gave up a lot more HRs than usual and saw his ERA rise over 3 last season and still posted a 130 ERA+ In other words, a down year from Johan Santana is still ten-percent better than the best pitcher we had last season.

Does this mean Santana is entering the downside of his career? I doubt it. He posted a better 2006 than 2005 and after coming off a super-human 2004 anything he does is bound to be criticized for not matching up. He's two years removed from winning the AL triple crown for pitchers and we're worried about Carlos Gomez?

And the worries about trading too many prospects are reasonable given the Mets history of horrendous trades (I won't yet concede the Milledge deal was a bust but you can). But this is different. This isn't Robbie Alomar and this isn't Victor Zambrano. This is arguably the greatest LHP of this generation who already has 2 Cy Young Awards under his belt and averages 220 K's per 162 IP and he's only going to 29 on opening day 2008.

So if the Twins want Humber and his underwhelming self they can have him. If they want Gomez and his freakish speed they can have him. If they want Guerra and his supposedly tremendous upside they can have him. And Omar'll even throw in Kevin Mulvey at no extra charge.

An opportunity to acquire a pitcher of Santana's caliber comes along once in a generation. Could Guerra turn into an ace in Minneapolis with Mulvey and Humber following in the rotation and Gomez swiping 100 bases a year and winning gold gloves in CF? They sure could. But I wouldn't bet on it...and I sure as hell wouldn't let that gamble stand in the way of acquiring a bona fide ace who will fill a void that this team desperately needs to fill.

A Cartoon Prophet

We're one week and one annual Brett Favre collapse away from an ATHF character correctly picking the NFC Super Bowl representative (we'll leave the AFC out of this for obvious reasons).

Perhaps there's an opening on CBS for Carl when Cowher takes the Dolphins job?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Carousel Continues

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune via MLB Trade Rumors:

Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests the Mets might be the best fit for Johan Santana. He says they're offering four players, three of them pitchers: Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Phil Humber. It's a strong package.

The piece goes on to add that the Twins would pull the trigger right now if F-Mart was included (either as an additional player or replacing Gomez)

I say do it unless it includes both F-Mart and Gomez. If it's one or the other I think it's a no-brainer. Humber is a B prospect at this point, we don't know what Guerra is, and Mulvey projects as a #3 at best. The blue chip would be Martinez or Gomez and in my humble opinion it appears to be worth it (never forget Alex Escobar).

Will it get done? Probably not knowing this organization. But as the Yankees and Red Sox keep stalling and waiting the Mets chances keep increasing. Cross your fingers.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Filthy Sanchez Redux

Fear not Miami Dominican food vendors, Duaner will be making at least 9 trips to Joe Robbie in 2008. In all seriousness this is a good move. If Filthy can return to two-thirds the man he was for the first few months of 2006 the Mets should have a solid arm to rely on in 7th/8th inning situations.

In other news...well the same story, the man who once hit two grand slams in a single inning was also resigned to play 3B in N'awlins in case the unimaginable...nevermind I won't even mention it.

Angel Pagan? Meh. Metsradamus wrote a great post on the move here.

W. Roger Clemens and the Crypt Keepe...Mike Wallace? Meh. More on that tomorrow after I peruse the lawsuit that Clemens filed today.