Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, October 11, 2003
After my post of the news on Marco Scutaro, I got an e-mail from a person I know, Mike, who asks...

"If Scutaro got claimed by the A's, you think that leaves the door open for Tejada or maybe even Kaz Matsui?"

In a simple word... no.

Why? They both play shortstop.

First of all, I'd like to point out that I'm not really sure if the Mets were planning on having Scutaro play second. That was only really my idea on who should play second.

Now, let's tackle each guy individually...

Kaz Matsui- Next Japanese player, apparently has 30/30 potential. But he plays SS and the Mets are pretty much set there. So, he would have to move to 3B and move Wigginton back to his original position, second. Also, I just feel uncomfortable with the Mets going after a Japanese player. I'm not sure why, but I feel like spending 8 million dollars a year on a guy who has never seen major league pitching is too much of a risk for team that needs to rebuild. I'll be perfectly honest that I don't know much about him and I think that might scare me a little, but I really don't see Matsui as a viable option.

Miguel Tejada- Oakland A's shortstop, who will demand big money. Another guy who would have to move to 3B and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be particulary happy with that. And also, any player that wants to play for Art Howe is nuts. But in all seriousness, I'm not sure he's worth all the money he'll get...

1999- .752
2000- .828
2001- .802
2002- .862
2003- .808

Those are his OPS numbers, which except for 2002, aren't impressive for all the talk he gets. He is 27 this year, meaning he's hitting the prime years, but to me, he seems like a .275/.335/.470 hitter. He has a .791 career OPS, and the year he has had an OBP above .350 is a year he hit over .300. Other than that, his averages aren't all that impressive. He can slug for a SS and slugs more than well enough for a 3B, but is he really worth as much money as he'll demand? Personally, I don't think so.

That leads to the next question, which is what I would do with the 2B position...

The minor leagues basically throw out two options....

Victor Diaz- Acquired in the Burnitz deal, in 175 AB's at AA had a .354/.382/.520 line. He's a big slugging infielder (32:8 K/BB ratio) and not the surest fielder in the world. Probably will be given another year to see if he can work on that plate disclipline at all. Could be a possible challenger to Wigginton's job if Wigginton is still unable to hit righties well next year.

Danny Garcia- The more possible option, in 117 AB's at AA had a .333/.391/.530 line. A better fielder than Diaz, but he problem is that he wasn't impressive in higher levels. At AAA, he had 368 AB's and had a .258/.309/.362 batting line. When given his shot in the majors, he looked a little lost and batter .214/.274/.357 in 58 AB's. Needs another year of seasoning and might be ready by next year.

So, basically, both minor leaguers are about a year or so away from being ready, in my opinion. So, after considering that, it didn't take me long to find the free agent name I would go after to play 2B...

Luis Castillo, the 28 year old speedy 2B on the Marlins. He has a career .367 OBP and doesn't slug much at all. He has an insane 3.81 G:F for his career. He's a big time slap hitter and is a perfect leadoff hitter, something the Mets need (Jose Reyes is a 2 hitter). His SB percentage has never been great and it was really bad this year, just over 50%, but I think he can recover from that

Just think about the possiblity of having Castillo and Reyes as your one-two hitters. It provides great speed, something the Mets lack a lot of. It also provides two guys who can use their legs to make something happen and a couple of guys who will be on-base a lot. This would also leave Wigginton at third, who is good defensively, and bring in Castillo, who I think is pretty good defensively at 2B, and I'm sure he has great range...

That would also projected my Mets' opening day lineup to this now...

1. Castillo- 2B
2. Reyes- SS
3. Piazza- C/1B
4. Floyd- LF
5. Phillips- C/1B
6. Cameron- CF
7. Wigginton- 3B
8. ?- RF

Rightfield is a discussion for another day. I would be all for signing Vlad Guerrero (I've officialy dropped the platoon idea... Timo sucks), which would put him in the 4 hole and move everyone else down one. I'm not sure if Vlad would sign here, I'm not sure whether the Mets are consdiering Vlad, and I'm not sure just how much Vlad will demand and how much the Mets are willing to spend. My gut feeling on him is that he'll end up in Baltimore, but that's just me. If not Vlad, it would have to be a free agent, as no one in the orginaztion is near being good enough to start everyday in the majors. I really don't have a name that pops off the top of my head right now, though I'd be willing to spend money, as I don't think the Mets should go after a pitcher (unless its Javier Vazquez).

So, I'll leave you with the thought of Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes running around the bases as fast as they can, looking like a certain 1-2 punch that the Marlins have at the top of their lineup right now.

EDIT- For some reason, I just realized that I put Reyes first and Castillo 2nd in the batting order. That has been fixed, since I've said many times I don't think Reyes is a one hitter, but a 2 hitter (heck, I said it once in this post).

Friday, October 10, 2003
Quick post, as I feel compelled to talk about something...

First off, another new Mets' blog, The raindrops has come about.

That leads me to my second thing, which is news I just heard... Marco Scutaro was claimed by the A's... The people over at raindrops do a good job breaking down why Scutaro should not have been let go and express my exact sentiments. He was patient at the plate and had a good OBP for his AVG. I would give him a shot at 2B next year on this team and see how he would do, but I guess that's not happening anymore.

That's all for now... be back tomorrow, with something...

Thursday, October 09, 2003
This is a quick post because I actually want to watch most of tonight's game...

Aaron Gleeman talks about the announcers for the playoffs today and mentions how sick he is of Steve Lyons and especially of Tim McCarver. Well, I happen not to like McCarver at all and would like to point out two things that he said that weren't too bright.

1. The discussion of whether to bring in Mike Timlin in the 8th for Alan Embree. This came up because Juan Rivera was the first batter and if Grady brought in Timlin to make it righty-righty, Torre would bring in Ruben Sierra (we'll get to why this is stupid in itself in a second).

Now, McCarver kept saying Embree should stay in to face Rivera so Sierra doesn't come in the game. He was making Ruben Sierra out to be Barry Bonds. And I don't think a .270/.327/.420 batting line is even close to Barry Bonds, at least in my estimation.

And, also, here's a nice split to prove McCarver wrong...

Rivera vs. LHP: .340/.358/.660 (1.018 OPS)
Sierra vs. RHP: .284/.346/.427 (.773 OPS)

And I went over Rivera's hitting ability against lefties when I talked about his intentional walk in game 4 of the Twins series. Basically, Sierra is not nearly the hitter against righties that Rivera is against lefties, especially power wise. Of course, if I was Joe Torre, I would have chose a different player to pinch hit...

Karim Garcia vs. righties: .291/.335/.476 (.811 OPS)

He provides a little more power and he's better defensively. So, by bringing in Timlin, as Grady did, he made the right move because...

1. Rivera is a better hitter against lefties than Sierra is against righties.
2. Rivera is better defensively than Sierra.
3. If they were both to get on, Rivera is a faster baserunner (and probably better) than Sierra.

And what happened? Sierra got out, though because it was a hard liner, McCarver felt vindicated.

2. Derek Jeter has a ball bounce off his glove and the 5th Boston run scores

Now, McCarver (and I think Joe Morgan has been making this point too) said that he's not getting to balls that he used to because he's afraid of diving because of his injured shoulder from earlier in the year....

OK, one final time, repeat after me...

"Derek Jeter is not a good defensive shortstop. Derek Jeter has no range at shortstop."

Hopefully everyone understands now.

Moving on to the other series, my MVP pick, Sammy Sosa, is starting to look better and better. Another mammoth shot last night in a rout of the Marlins. Of course, Prior threw too many pitches, but Dusty Baker is managing, so what do you expect?

No post tomorrow since I probably won't touch my computer until after 10 PM for sure.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
First of all, I would like to correct myself about yesterday's column on the 9th inning of the Oakland game. The guy Terrence Long pinch hit for was not Billy McMillon, but Frank Menechino, who came into play 2B because McMillon had pinch hit for Mark Ellis, the starting second baseman. Based on this fact, here are Menechino's numbers against righties...

.149/.349/.149 (.498 OPS)

He also had a .644 OPS against righties from 2000-2002. Despite that fact, there are two reasons I let Menechino hit.

1. He has a .364 OBP this year and a career .354 OBP.
2. He's not Terrence Long. Actually this reason should probably be number one.

Moving on from my own idiocy, we come upon last night's Cubs-Marlins game, which was another great playoff game. I went to sleep after 9 innings because I needed some sleep for school, but these are the 5 things I got from this game.

1. Statistics are all but meaningless in the playoffs... .38 HR/9. That would be Carlos Zambrano's HR/9 number during the regular season. And what does he do last night... gives up 3 homeruns in one inning.

2. Pudge is a monster. Seriously, this guy has been amazing.

3. Sammy Sosa really helped my pick for him for MVP with that bottom of the 9th HR.

4. Ugueth Urbina has a 7:4 F:G ratio in the playoffs and isn't being helped out by the fact that the NLCS has four games in Wrigley. And he's already given up 1 HR there in one game. He was able to get away with more fly balls in the NLDS because the Giants also play in a spacious stadium, but he just isn't a good closer in a smaller park because of his fly ball tendency.

5. Meanwhile, Braden Looper has pitched 2.2 innings without giving up a run, while having a 6:1 G:F ratio. He is a very good groundball pitcher (for the season he was 2.3 G:F) and is better equipped to pitch important innings in parks that aren't as spacious as Pro Player.

Now moving on to the ALCS, which I seem to be more into. I figure its for a few reasons...

1. I live in Northern NJ, 15 minutes from NYC. I've watched plenty of Yankees game, have enough friends who are Yankees fans, and have heard enough about the Yankees all season.
2. I despise the Yankees.
3. I've been even more obbessed with this rivalry and these teams this year and really want to see Boston win.
4. I think the Yankees are flawed and can be beat by the Red Sox.

So, you know which game I'll be watching tonight... But my prediction...

Red Sox in 7.
MVP- Derek Lowe

Until tomorrow, enjoy the games, or at least whichever one you prefer to watch.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Last night... that was playoff baseball. But since we have a chance, let's talk about that 9th inning...

We'll fast forward to Ramon Hernandez at bat with Byrnes on second and Guillen on first.

First, Ramon Hernandez should not be bunting. Jermaine Dye and Chris Singleton are up next and your counting on them to drive in the runs. Second of all, statistically, letting him hit also works...

vs. Left- .208/.255/.376 (.631 OPS)
vs. Right- .302/.365/.494 (.859 OPS)

Derek Lowe would obviously be a right handed pitcher. He does a lot better against right handed pitching, making this a good matchup for him. The other thing that I did not notice, but that Elephants in Oakland points out today, is that Byrnes could have stole third because no one was even close to third base, leaving you with 2nd and 3rd (unless Boston threw to 2nd to get Guillen but that's highly unlikely). Even without realizing this (because Mueller pulled really far in after Hernandez showed bunt), Hernandez should have hit. You cannot just throw away an out for one shot at a sac fly.

Assuming Hernandez bunts, the next move Macha made was taking out Jermaine Dye for Adam Melhuse, I thought this move was wrong while watching the game, though that partly comes from the fact that I know diddly-squat about Adam Melhuse. But upon review this morning, this might have been the right move...

vs. Righties
Dye- .146/.224/.211 (.435 OPS)
Melhuse- .283/.387/.528 (.915 OPS)

Melhuse is also a big power hitter with a .65 G:F ratio this year. Dye is at .85 this year and has a 1.14 for his career. Melhuse seems more likely to hit a sac fly, plus, Dye is Luis Ri, no Luis is better than that... he's Kevin Elster against righties.

So, I let Melhuse bat and he strikes out on a nasty pitch. Next up is Chris Singleton. And really, there's nothing to do but let him bat because no one is left on the bench (we'll get to Terrence Long in a second)...

So, Chris, by some miracle, walks. At this point I cringed. Because the announcers said that Terrence Long was in the on deck circle. At that point, I wanted Chris to either end the game by getting the final out, driving in 2, or tying the game because if T-Long got up with the bases loaded, he was striking out. I knew that. I think the whole word knew that, except for Ken Macha, of course.

But other than the fact that Terrence Long is an out making machine, this is just a wrong move statistically...

vs. Righties
McMillon- .287/.380/.478 (.858 OPS)
Long- .249/.302/.408 (.710 OPS)

Billy McMillon is the guy he pinch hit for. Billy McMillon can hit righties. He can hit them fairly well. Terrence Long couldn't hit a 13 year old little leaguer well.

The point in all this? Ken Macha threw away game 5 for the A's with stupid managerial moves. It looks like he learned well from Art Howe.

But despite that fact, the game was amazing. It had me drawn in. I was rooting for Oakland all the way, and despite the fact that my rooting interest wasn't big at all, I got into the game. I got excited, I was cringing, I was turning away from the screen. At some points I didn't want to watch it, but in the end, it was so compelling that I couldn't help myself (until Long got up at least... at that point I was laughing). Games like this show the beauty of baseball. There's no time, no clock. The tension builds with each pitch, with each ball Williamson was throwing out of the strike zone. And in the end, one team, one city, one massive group of fans comes away relieved and estatic, while the other can't believe what just happened.

Moving on, Game 1 of the NLCS is tonight. And my prediction is...

Cubs in 6.
MVP- Sammy Sosa

Back tomorrow with something about the playoffs (Paul Konerko Watch is coming along)...

Monday, October 06, 2003
First and third, two outs, 8th inning, your closer and best relief pitcher on the mound, and a guy who is struggling at the plate... perfect matchup, right? Well, not for the A's. David Ortiz hits a 2 run double off Keith Foulke and Boston wins and forces a game 5. Let's just look at the splits on these, because they are interesting...

David Ortiz:
Left: .216/.260/.414 (.674 OPS)
Right: .313/.404/.654 (1.058 OPS)
Home: .315/.399/.635 (1.034 OPS)
Road: .256/.335/.541 (.876 OPS)

Keith Foulke:
vs. Left: .158/.243/.296 (.539 OPS)
Away: .160/.492 OPS
Home: .201/.637 OPS

The splits in bold are the ones that apply to this at-bat. Remember when I said statistics just don't mean as much in the playoffs? Well, sometimes you just get a matchup where each individual players stats favor themselves. And when that happens, apparently, the guy at bat hits a 2 run double. But seriously, Keith Foulke would be the guy I want pitching, but that's because Ricardo Rincon was already used for two innings. Why was the lefty specialist used for two innings, the 6th and 7th? Bradford could have pitched one of those innings, Harden was a possiblity for two to get you to the 8th. And yes, I would have taken out the closer and worried about the 9th inning later. Look at Ricardo's splits...

vs. Left: .200/.267/.275 (.542 OPS)
Home: .182/.539 OPS
Away: .278/.800 OPS

Now, granted the home/away split doesn't favor him, but I don't buy into that as much as the .542 OPS against lefties and Ortiz'z .674 vs. lefties. But none of this really matters, because Rincon was already used. So, considering that fact, would Keith Foulke be the pitcher I have in? Definitely. There is only one other lefty in the pen. His name is John Halama...

vs. Left: .214/.278/.357 (.635 OPS)
Home: .234/.685 OPS
Away: .310/.862 OPS

1. Keith Foulke stats are much better against lefties
2. It's Keith Foulke vs. John Halama. I think its safe to say a sane person would take Foulke everytime.

So, in the end, Keith Foulke is the right pitcher. But it also sets up an awesome showdown of Pedro vs. Zito. I think the Red Sox take it, and people have to start wondering if there is a curse against the A's getting out of the first round...

The other situation I want to talk about yesterday was something that occurred in the fourth inning of the Twins-Yankees game.

This is what happened in part of the fourth inning...

Top of the 4th inning
-D Jeter struck out swinging.
-J Giambi doubled to deep left center.
-B Williams doubled to left, J Giambi scored.
-J Posada singled to left, B Williams to third.
-H Matsui hit a ground rule double to deep center, B Williams scored, J Posada to third.
-A Boone popped out to shortstop.

Situation now is 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, Yanks up 2-0 and Juan Rivera at the plate to face Johan Santana... Juan Rivera was then intentionally walked to get to Nick Johnson, a lefty, who drove in two with a double off Santana that all but basically ended the game.

So, where's my problem? In walking Juan Rivera. And yes, the splits will go against me on this one...

vs. Left: .340/.358/.660 (1.018 OPS)
vs. Right: .236/.282/.390 (.672 OPS)

And in his career before this year...

Left: .311/.348/.574 (.922 OPS)
Right: .246/.288/.382 (.670 OPS)

Juan Rivera seems to crush lefties. Johan Santana is a lefty. Here are his splits...

vs. Left: .191/.256/.309 (.565 OPS)
vs. Right: .227/.283/.393 (.676 OPS)

All indications seem to be saying to walk Rivera to get to the lefty, Nick Johnson. Here are his splits...

Left: .282/.393/.437 (.830 OPS)
Right: .285/.429/.482 (.911 OPS)

Not a huge difference, but he's not as good against lefties. So, basically all the stats are saying to go with the free pass to get to Johnson and load the bases for a potential force play at any base. So, why wouldn't I do it...

Johnson: .256/.376/.424 (.800 OPS)
Rivera: .262/.302/.427 (.729 OPS)

OK, Rivera has a better SLG and AVG by a few points, but Johnson kills him in OBP. The reason I would pitch to Rivera is that he isn't nearly as patient as Johnson. Johnson is probably the Yankees second best "hitter" behind Giambi and Santana didn't really have his best stuff yesterday (esepcially his fastball, go to Aaron's Baseball Blog for more information on that). I figure that he might have been able to get Rviera to chase some offspeed out of the strike zone.

Now, I do have a very high opinion of Nick Johnson and a very low opinion of Juan Rivera (though he seems to be a great platoon corner OF), but I just feel more comfortable letting Juan Rivera try to beat me than pitching to a very good all-around hitter in Nick Johnson. I also thought this was a big part of the game, because at 2-0 I still think the Twins could have come back. After the Nick Johnson double, the game was basically over.

Enjoy tonight's game, it should be a low scoring one... (and yes, I'm delaying the Paul Konerko Watch a few days. I still need to do some of the stats... I didn't have as much time as I thought I would this weekend...)

Sunday, October 05, 2003
Baseball is amazing. It really is...

Conine to Pudge- Hometown hero to series MVP. Couldn't have had a more fitting ending.

Robert Fick- He's a butthole and should suspended and if not, not played by Bobby Cox. He looked like he was trying to break Karros's hand.

Chipper Jones- Seriously dude, you suck. In the "I hate you" way.

Boston and Oakland and that thing they played last night- Disgusting, nuts, crazy, and compelling. You had to watch it to fully understand it, so I won't try and describe it to you. And Trot Nixon capping the day off with a walk off homer, keeping hope alive in fragile Boston. Unbelievable ending to a great day of baseball.

Let's hope today is as good as yesterday, and here's my little preview of today.

Boston and Oakland

Going at it a little more than 12 hours later. And Boston starts John Burkett, saving Pedro for a potential game 5. Yes, a potential game. Pedro needs to start today. You can worry about game 5 after game 4, because if don't win game 4, you don't play game 5. Oakland in a rout.

Twins and Yankees

David Wells pitches decent. Johan dominates, and we are back at the stadium.

Cubs and Braves

The Marlins are paying Mike Hampton, the Braves starter, to pitch for a chance to play them in the NLCS. Just imagine the storyline. The Marlins paying a pitcher who then would try to beat them in the playoffs. It might happen... but it won't. Cubbies win.

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