Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, January 24, 2004
 
Two things before we hit upon Roger Cedeno...

1. A new blog, Yankees, Mets and the rest has come about. Go over and welcome them, as its a Mets fan and Yankees fans talking about their favorite teams. I presonally like the idea, if only because my brother is a Yankees fan, so I can understand how it goes.

2. Reed, Mets reach point of no return

Rick Reed's not signing with the Mets. That's very good. The article is even better. Here's a quote from Reed's agent, Phil Tannebaum...

"He's the only GM that won't return his phone calls," Tannebaum said. "I think we would have probably got a deal done had we dealt with Mr. Wilpon. My guess is it will be reflected in the standings."

Phil's right, it will be reflected in the standings. The Mets are going to win 5 more games without him.

But in all seriousness, get overself Phil. He's Rick Reed. He's old and came off a horrible season. He's not going to be an impact pitcher!

And with that, we now come to Roger Cedeno. I got some feedback, both in the comments and in e-mails. First, an e-mail from fellow Mets blogger, Avkash (I did a little self-editing on it).

1.) Phil Garner, then manager of the Tigers, benched Cedeno for the last 19 games of the 2001 season, after the Sept 11. break, for what he called insubordination on Cedeno's part. It was later revealed that Cedeno stood to gain $250,000.00 in incentives if he had 50 more PAs and/or led the league in SB. He would have easily cleared both marks if he hadn't been benched. I'm sure Cedeno must have done something, but Garner is an ass in the Larry Bowa mold, so I'm sure it was blown out of proportions. Also, Randy Smith was the GM at the time. Enough said.

Not sure what this has to with much of anything, but its certainly funny.

2.) Those Tigers swung at EVERYTHING. Garner didn't mind, and I'm sure he insisted on it. As you saw, until that season, Cedeno's pro record, minor and major, is filled with high bb/pa numbers. He's also had very high so/pa numbers, so while he was once patient, he's always been undisciplined.

Sam M says the same things in my comments about the Tigers swinging at everything. Very very good point, and probably where he learned to hacking more (considering he had a good AVG that season). I meant to include the SO/PA numbers, but forgot about them (that's what happens when you don't right everything down when you think of an article the night before). Avkash is right though, there is a clear difference between patience and being disciplined. I wish Cedeno would at least get back to being patient.

3.) The prime years argument doesn't work as well with Cedeno because of his profile. He's never been all that good at putting the ball in play, and he's never had power. All he had was patience and speed. From what I understand, speed peaks b/t 22-25, and quickly declines from there. That leaves him with patience, and he didn't develop that. Like Jeff Duncan, Cedeno has a limited set of skills, one that is vulnerable to an early peak followed by a quick drop off, as compared to a well rounded player who peaks at 27 or so and then slowly declines.

If you want more of an explanation, go to Tango's site here. To be perfectly honest I should not have really mentioned "prime years" because patience is usually something you have or you don't. Your BB/PA might go down a little with age, but for the most part if you are patient and discliplined, you will always be.

4.) He's never played one position for any extended period of time.

I would assume that this would go towards my assertion of comparing him to qualified right fielders. He's right, but it my defense, Cedeno was one of those 20 qualified right fielders last year.

The next e-mail comes from reader Johan Vozab who says...

When he in NY the first time, Cedeno was making every routine groundball into close play at first and beating many of them out. Infielders were rushing on every play, often making bad throws or bobbling the ball. I've rarely seen a guy make an ordinary ground ball exciting. Infielders had to shorten up when he stepped in. Since he has returned he is nowhere near the same guy getting down the line from either side of the plate. His weight also seems to have increased. This may have been a factor in his on base percentage.

While a very true point, it doesn't do much to explain his walk rate. Yes, his AVG, speed skills, and overall skills have declined, but his walk rate also dropped. I would believe #2 in Avkash's e-mail would be a better explanation of that.

And finally, from Mike over at East Coast Agony...

I'm not sure where I heard or read this, but it might have been spring training last year. I recall someone remarking that Cedeno had bulked up a bit after coming to New York, and that the added muscle and weight had messed with his mechanics and robbed him of speed. Of course, we also heard that Mo Vaughn had trimmed down and gotten more "explosive", so you never know.

Mo Vaughn and more explosive. Maybe they meant... you now what, nevermind. As for his mechanics being messed up, at least hitting wise, that could be a possibility, though I still don't think it really affects his walk rate.

So what can we conclude...

Blame it on the Tigers and Phil Garner!

It seems that he got a good AVG and thought the approach was good. I still think if someone could convince him to revert back to the more patient Roger Cedeno, he might be a semi useful offensive player.

But as Avkash points out, either way... "The saddest part about the whole Cedeno thing is that he may be the best choice in '04. #$@#!!!!!!"

I like the idea of Karim against righties, but you know what, that thought does make you sad (then again, the thought of Karim Garcia being the best option in rightfield also makes me sad).

Friday, January 23, 2004
 
I said something about doing stuff on Roger Cedeno tonight. Well, forget that. I don't need to be more pissed off than I already am. What am I talking about? The Rangers trading for Jaromir Jagr. Can we please just fire Sather now?

In news pertaining to this site, I've hit 10,000 hits today. Interestingly (at least to me), today is the 7th month anniversary of starting this blog. It took a little while, but over the last 2 months I've gotten a good stream of at least 70 unique visitors and about 120 page hits. Thanks to all you out there who come to read and don't be afraid to put a little feedback in the comments section (Or e-mail me if you like. The address is on the side bar).

I'll be back tomorrow, with "Rethinking Roger Part 2,453".

 
There's a lot of stuff I want to get to, but I don't have a lot of time now. I want to look at Roger Cedeno again at some point (hopefully late tonight), using responses I got from readers (both comments and e-mails). Also, at some point (hopefuly this weekend), I want to take a look at the Mets lineup as it currently stands, much like Peter White did today with the Mariners (By the way, you should really read his site everyday. It's quickly becoming one of my favorites).

But for now, we'll focus on the Baseball Tonight that was on from 10-11 last night. There were a few things that impressed me and there's one thing that didn't (Jeff Brantley Ripping Alert!).

I was impressed by the fact that they used such stats as K per 9 and runners per 9. Hey, maybe Rob Neyer is having a little bit of an effect over there?

And the one thing that didn't...

Jeff Brantley calling Kelvim Escobar the worst signing of the offseason and maybe the worst ever for the kind of money he got. I'll admit, I would have tried to keep the deal at 5 million or a little above. He's getting 6 and change over 3 years. But this is not a bad move, if Jeff was to look at the right stats.

Jeff (or the producers) threw up three stats. Career ERA, W-L record, and runners per 9 innings. And these were his stats from both starting and relieving...

ERA: 4.52
W-L: 58-55
Runners per 9: 12.25 (or something close to this... I just figured it out really fast and got that)

Not pretty right? Well, he was looking at the wrong stats. Here are his splits the last three years for being a starter and a reliever.

Reliever: 153.1 IP, 4.52 ERA, 9.92 K/9, 4.64 BB/9, 2.14 K/BB, 1.06 HR/9, 1.44 WHIP
Starter: 231 IP, 3.70 ERA, 7.64 K/9, 3.70 BB/9, 2.06 K/BB, .58 HR/9, 1.34 WHIP

His K/9 does go down from reliever to starter, but that is to be expected (It happened to guys like Johan Santana too). His walks are also down, and his K/BB are practically even (and I'll take the guy walking less than 4 per 9 who is in the upper 7's in K's over a guy who is walking over 4.5 per 9). His HR/9 goes way way down and his WHIP falls a decent amount.

As a reliever, most of his struggles came as a closer. I've heard that he got "too hyped up" when closing. Maybe he didn't have that "closer mentality". Whatever it is, it seems he pitches a lot better when starting. Maybe he conserves himself and his stuff better, instead of just trying to throw as hard as possible.

He could be predicted to put up an ERA in the 3.50-3.75 range. In today's market, paying 6 million dollars for that isn't bad. In the AL, its probably good. And remember, he is only 27, which means he can still improve greatly.

So, Jeff, this was certainly not the worst move of the offseason and you know what, it wasn't even a bad move.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
 
Roger Cedeno. At this point (if your a Mets fan), you have either shuddered or closed this window just so you don't have to see his name. I understand completely. This is the man we love to hate, but hate to think about. So, I was flipping through the Mets blogroll last night when I came upon k d's realm of the Mets blogosphere. And there was a post titled Rethinking Roger. I should have stopped there. But I didn't. I read it. And, well, one part caught me off guard...

"Would a slimmer, faster Cedeno be able to contribute in 2004? Remember, he is only 29 years old. It hasn't been that long since he was chalking up OBPs approaching 400."

OBPs approaching .400? Wha? I had to investigate. So, now I was stuck thinking about Roger. Well, much to my surprise, I discover this...

1999- .396 OBP
2000- .383 OBP

By my scientific calculations, those are close to approaching .400.

Well, I'll be damned. I would have thought the highest he ever got was .370, but it turns out he was actually a very valuable player (not that .370 isn't good) for a few years (if you believe that getting on base close to 40% of the time is very valuable, which I do).

So what happened? First, here are his OBPs (I'm ignoring 1995 and his 46 PAs)...

1996- .326
1997- .362
1998- .317
1999- .396
2000- .383
2001- .337
2002- .318
2003- .320

For better context, here are the OBPs with PAs, AVG, and age listed next to them...

1996- .326 (238, .246, 21)
1997- .362 (227, .273, 22)
1998- .317 (271, .242, 23)
1999- .396 (525, .313, 24)
2000- .383 (305, .282, 25)
2001- .337 (572, .293, 26)
2002- .318 (562, .260, 27)
2003- .320 (527, .267, 28)

As you can tell, there was a much bigger difference between his AVG and OBP from 1996-2000 and much less between 2001-2003. What does that mean? Walk rate!

Using ESPN's handy dandy new statistics page for every player, I can get a little stat called BB/PA... here's another list...

1996- .102
1997- .112
1998- .101
1999- .116
2000- .142
2001- .064
2002- .075
2003- .072

Look at the last three years. Ewww... especially for a "leadoff hitter". To give this in better context, here are the number of walks he would average using those rates based on 548 PAs (that's the number of plate appearances he has averaged over his career in every 162 games).

1996- 56
1997- 61
1998- 55
1999- 64
2000- 78
2001- 35
2002- 41
2003- 39
*Everything .5 and over was rounded up. I'm kind...

Even if you take his worse year in walks from 1996-2000 and his best from 2001-2003, its still a difference of 14, which may not seem huge, but that's 14 more times he could have been on base (and when he was younger, which is weird to say, becuase he's 29, and fitter, he might have been able to use his wheels to help the team out).

Anyway, this is the part where I get a little creative (or maybe a little lazy, take your choice). I'm going to find an average for BB/PA from 1996-2000 and from 2001-2003. Based on that, I'll find the walks he would get based on that average in 548 PA's. Using EPSN's Season Averages per 162 games, Roger averages 134 hits in 488 AB's, good for a .275 AVG, which I think is a nice number to use because it seems fairly plausible. Then, we can find OBP's based on his "good walk years" and "bad walk years". And away we go...

BB/PA Averages
1996-2000- .115
2001-2003- .070

Walks
1996-2000- 63
2001-2003- 38

OBP
1996-2000- .359
2001-2003- .314

That .314 OBP is disgusting. On the other hand, .359 ain't shabby. If he could put together a .275/.359/.390 line (.390 is not out of the question, he's done it before, and he's done it in Shea), he would be usuable. His GPA would be .259, which is slightly above average for the whole major leagues (not right field, but his power sucks). And think about this... if you take the 20 Qualified right fielders from last year (according to ESPN.com) and figure out their OBP by adding all their hits and walks together and dividing by their PAs, their combined OBP (or OBP average) is .349. Roger would be ten points ahead of that, meaning he would at least be getting on-base above average, since his power would be below the average RF. And since this little "study" was unscientific, let's say his BB/PA isn't quite .115 (there is a .142 thrown in there), he could still get a .350 OBP if he got back to walking. And that would at least be an average OBP. Then maybe we could let him have the 200 or so PAs vs. lefties.

But this does beg another question? What happened? Why, in his age 27 season, his "prime year", with his "prime years" ahead of him, did Roger's walk rate go down? To be perfectly honest, I don't have much of an answer. The only thing I can even think of looking at is his P/PA... so, here they are...

1996- 3.98
1997- 3.61
1998- 3.73
1999- 3.79
2000- 3.91
2001- 3.59
2002- 3.67
2003- 3.77

You can see it being a little bit more consistent in the first set of years, but his rate this year was back up to where it was in 98 and 99, and his BB/PA was .072. I'm tempted to figure out the number of pitches he would see per 548 PAs based on those numbers, but I'm not sure how much 20 more pitches seen would affect your walk rate. Plus, that still wouldn't explain this year.

Does anyone else have any theories? Suggestions? I can't find an answer I like. Could have been trying to get more hits lately because of all the negative talk around him? Maybe, but wouldn't you go back to doing what you were doing when you were good (or at least good at getting on-base). I don't get why it happened, but if Roger ever realized that improving his BB/PA would make him a servicable player, I think all Mets fans would rejoice.

Hey, you never know, maybe that new stat dude (I still don't know him name) could teach him that...

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
 
Sam M. was right yesterday in the comments when he said I should keep hammering the Zeile signing, because if it wasn't for Michael Tucker (I don't care if they don't have the signing bonus money... its Michael Tucker!), Zeile might be the most inexplicable move of the off season. So, with that in mind, I present to you (and yes, I'm frustrated again. But you really don't care, so I'll just skip explaining)...

Reason 1,254 that Todd Zeile was a terrible signing
From 2001-2003, Todd Zeile hit .257/.341/.372 against righties in 988 AB's. In 2003, he hit .224/.302/.323 against righties in 201 AB's. That will really help out Wigginton, whose problem is that he can't hit righties. But hey, at least we can mash (in relative terms) lefties for 150-200 at bats!

Avkash has the Mets caravan covered, along with all the news concerning Reyes and Piazza switching positions, the growing list of crappy pitchers the Mets want to sign, and the new stathead dude they hired. While flipping through all the links provided in the article, I found this article on Roger Cedeno. It's subtitled "Against all odds, a happy Cedeno is still a Met". I was a little confused, but after reading it I'm not. Let's start with this...

"Roger Cedeno laughed and smiled through the entire interview process Tuesday afternoon, talking about being at peace and how he was happy to still be a Met"

So, he's happy. To be a Met? Not necessarily. Take this quote...

"It's about the same situation that I'm going through this year. If I'm going to be here, I'm going to help the team. What I'm doing now is playing baseball. Anywhere I'm playing baseball, I'll be happy."

He's happy as long as he's playing baseball. Well, guess what? He had a little reality check. The Mets tried hard to deal him and the only team who wanted him was the Mariners, who are run by a not too bright GM at the moment. Now granted, if he was released and didn't cost a lot of money, some team would pick him up, because well, he's still better than a lot of the backup outfielders floating around the game, he just isn't at the price he's being paid now. He realizes that unless he's with the Mets, he won't be making that 6 million dollar contract playing baseball, but would be making it while sitting of the waiver wire.

Grant Roberts is the newest inside the organization player to be put up for the 5th spot. Personally, I've always liked him and his stuff, but with his injury problems, I'm not sure how far he'll make it. His starting numbers in the minors weren't bad, and I'd like to see him get a shot at it in the rotation. But, we'll see... it could Rick Reed in the 5 spot. Would it be possible for him to pitch worse than Cone?

Just found out Glendon Rusch signed with the Rangers. You're telling me we couldn't sign him to a minor league deal and have him compete with the young players. At least he could be an effective innings eater.

And finally, you should go check out this interview done by Batter's Box with John Sickels. It discusses the Blue Jays farmhands, but also gets into how John does his work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
 
And I said I wouldn't post today... I'm addicted... Anyways...

Dazed and Confused

Garrett Stephenson, Scott Erickson, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Maels Rodriguez, and Shane Spencer. What do they all have in common? Anyone?

Random voice: They suck!
No, well, yeah, sorta, but not what I'm looking for.

Random voice: They are all injury prone or have injury histories!
Well, everyone except Shane Spencer, but not what I'm looking for either.

Random voice: They are over 30!
Shane is 32, Garrett is 32, Erickson is up there in age, El Duque is listed at 38 at Baseball Cube, though I've heard 34. But Maels is only 24... well, supposedly.

No one knows? The common thread is...

The Mets are considering signing one or more of them!

*Silence, crickets chirping*

That's doesn't get you excited? A "24 year old" Cuban flamethrower with an injury history who wants Contreras money? A man confused with his age who is a clutch pitcher and a winner? An old man coming off ten billion arm surgeries? A 32 year old pitcher who has had injury problems and has given up 20 billion homeruns over the last three years (okay, not quite that many, but a lot)? A 32 year old outfielder who, um, won a championship with the Yankees?

*Silence*

Doesn't excite you? Me either. And the title above is indictitive of how I feel right now. I'm not sure what I want the Mets to do anymore. Do I want them to get a fifth starter? Yeah, if they could find a cheap good one, why not? Let Heilman work with Peterson. But these names? Not any of them, and I really do want Heilman to get another chance against major leagues to start the season. It's been my stance since the beginning of the offseason.

A right fielder to hit against lefties. I guess that's not a bad idea, but why not give Raul Gonzalez a chance to show if he's a major league or a 4A player (I hate that term by the way)? And Shane Spencer? Are we trying to corner the market on all the crappy players the Yankees have had the last 5-7 years or so?

I was happy with the Mets offseason until we got involved with Vlady. Now, its becoming one massive tumble downhill and the Vlady situation won't seem to go away. Now the insurance discussion has come about, and I just really don't read much on it, because I don't need to annoy myself with it (If your interested, read Avkash's article on it).

If the Mets were to sign one of the pitchers above, which would I choose? What happens if I don't choose? Is there a punishment? Seriously, I would take Stephenson. Flyball pitcher who would be helped by Cameron and have his homerun numbers go down by pitching in "The place where flyballs go to die" ("Even if it is a dump, its our dump!"). But I would much rather see Griffiths, Yates, or Heilman out there before it comes to that.

So, I just sit here, dazed and confused that an offseason that looked so promising and so good is turning into a mediocre one that is being capped off poorly. And its all because of one position... rightfield. If Duke had solved it earlier or had targeted someone and gone after them more aggressively, the mess we have now would have never happened (And maybe I could excuse the Zeile signing... okay, I could never excuse that). So that leaves me sitting here, dreaming of Jose Cruz Jr. patrolling rightfield, while playing wonderful defense (Remember, the D-Rays signed him... the D-Rays!).

(The above is fairly nasty by my standards... these school mid terms are really getting to me.)

Monday, January 19, 2004
 
I was right on my football picks (Damn it!). I haven't made a decision on the score of the Super Bowl, but I know who I'm picking already (and its not Tom Brady).

Posting for the rest of the week, will be, um, spotty. I got midterms Tuesday-Friday and I got a lot of review sheets and studying left to do. I won't be back today and I might not make a post tomorrow (Tuesday and Wednesday are my hardest ones), but I should have something up on Wednesday and Thursday (I do get half days on these days, so I am home by 12:30). We'll be back to our reguarly scheduled program on Friday, hopefully.

Sunday, January 18, 2004
 
Have to get this up before the games...

AFC Championship
New England 20-17 in OT over Indy

As much as it pains me to say New England will win (I have an eternal hatred for Tom Brady), they will. Mike Vanderjagt will fall to the Curse of Gary Anderson and miss a FG at the end of regulation, because no kicker can go through a season perfect. Vinatieri hits one in the snow in OT and is a hero, once again.

NFC Championship
Carolina 24-7 over Philly

In a laugher, Carolina kills Philly. McNabb throws 3 INT's and fumbles once as Foster runs all over the Philly D. Steve Smith scores all three TD's on short passes from Delhomme and that's all she wrote.

New England-Carolina Super Bowl. You heard it here first! (Or maybe second or third... but you heard it here!)

But secretly I'm wishing for Indy-Carolina.


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