Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, March 20, 2004
I'm basically mailing it in for the weekend. Too much college basketball, too much other stuff and not enough reading time or writing time for the Mets. I'll be sporadic this weekend when I post. For now, here is some good news on Jae Seo

Now Seo credits Peterson for teaching him a two-seam change-up and two-seam fastball - two pitches the righty will try to gradually work into his routine.

"I don't have any urgency to learn it and use it in my first start," Seo said. "It's more of a long term thing."

Peterson thinks the two pitches could make Seo an elite pitcher and perhaps an even bigger celebrity.

This has me excited. I'm very very high on Jae Seo's ability (I can see him as a legit second starter behind Kazmir. I'll have to ramble on that on some point).

Also, I think Duke agrees with me on Danny Garcia.

Duquette said Garcia had been viewed as depth at Class AAA this year before Reyes got hurt, and he spoke about possibly trying Garcia in the outfield down the road. Garcia played center his first two years at Pepperdine. Of course, Mike Cameron just signed to run down balls in center for the next three seasons, and Cliff Floyd is signed up for three more years in left. So if Garcia develops, maybe he could serve as a reserve unless injuries dictate otherwise.

"He provides us a level of flexibility because he can play the outfield," Duquette said. "Right now, we're looking at him solely as a second baseman, but at some point we may decide to test his versatility."

He can be the next Joe McEwing, only he can be more productive. His defense isn't completely solid, but I would have liked to see get a shot this year and certainly next year, but McEwing has a two year contract...

Finally, this is interesting...

The Mets have stepped up their pursuit of a backup middle infielder and hope to make a trade in the coming days. One of their targets is Cleveland's John McDonald. With Bob Wickman out for at least the first half of the season, the Indians need relief help and the Mets have spare arms in their bullpen. ...

This is interesting. I love McDonald defensively. Whenever I see him, he is amazing. But he can't hit. At all. He posted a sub .550 OPS last year. He'd be an interesting replacement, but he's 29, so he's not likely to get better with the bat. But at least he would field...

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Expect Thursday-Sunday posting to be light. I'm obsessed with the tourney (UConn, UNC, Gonazaga, Pitt in final four, UConn over Zags in final in case you were wondering).

And the suggested reads of the day: NL East Roundtable
Five Questions: New York Mets by Matthew Namee

Enjoy (and damn Bama for beating SIU).

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
A few articles and an interesting comment...

With Reyes to Miss 3 Weeks, McEwing Is Ready to Step In (Hat tip to Josh)

Yes, I'm barfing in my mouth. I've unloaded on McEwing enough already that I shouldn't go at him anymore, but here is a quote that will make us all sick...

If the injury-riddled spring training is any indication, McEwing will be a valuable player this season.

Can someone define valuable for me? My definition apparently isn't the same as the writer's.

And this is just an interesting note found in the article

As a young player in the St. Louis organization, McEwing hoped to play center field, but while he was in Class AA, a coach told him to "put more tools in your toolbox." As McEwing picked up new positions, he started to pattern himself after a former Cardinals utility man, Jose Oquendo, who once played every position during a single season.

"Everybody wants to play, but who cares where you play?" said Oquendo, now the Cardinals' third-base coach. "People always ask me my favorite position and I say: `What does it matter? Just put me on the field.' A guy like Joe is valuable because he can take anyone's place and do just as good a job."

No comment on Oquendo's quote....

On a brighter note, here is your weekly Mike Cameron is amazing article. Slight comparisons to Willie Mays and other fun stuff.

Ankiel still hoping for comeback- You all know my slight obsession and sadness for what happened with Rick Ankiel. He apparently won't pitch competitively until August and I found this quote interesting...

"The only problem is I have a tendency that every time I feel any little thing, I think, `Oh, what is that?"' Ankiel said. "I'm really feeling great, but I'm really paying attention to that. I'm out there and I want to throw it 100 mph. But I need to let time take care of itself. I almost feel like I don't have time. But I do."

The amazing thing is that he does have time. He's only 24, but as he also says in the article, sometimes he doesn't feel that young. I hope he returns one day to be a good major leaguer, whereever and whenever that is.

And in closing, here's an interesting note from David Cameron at U.S.S. Mariner

The M's should jump for joy that they didn't get Kazuo Matsui. He's got serious issues with his swing, and unless he makes some adjustments, is going to be a groundball machine. There's just no way he hits for any real power with his current hitting mechanics.

I find that interesting, only because Hideki Matsui, a guy who was supposed to have great power, was a groundball machine himself... something to wonder about...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Apparently, Victor Diaz got sent down

And yes, I used an article from its the first one that came up with the info I wanted...

The Mets assigned 12 players to minor league camp: INFs Aarom Baldiris, Chris Basak, David Wright, Craig Brazell, and Victor Diaz; Cs Justin Huber and Jessie Levis; OFs Jeff Duncan and Prentice Redman; and RHPs Joselo Diaz, Jeremy Griffiths and Jeremy Hill.

Unlike some fans, this makes me happy. I would like to see Diaz take the time to learn a position and I would also like to see him work on his plate disclipline and get his walk numbers up a little. He could be a monster at the plate if he ever did and the Mets don't need him out there this year. They aren't going anywhere anyways.

Kaley links to a Daily News article and uses a quote from it that I want to dissect a little...

Duquette will look for a backup middle infielder, on the level of Jorge Velandia, whom the Mets lost to Atlanta as a minor-league free agent over the winter. Joe McEwing likely would be the regular-season starter if Reyes misses time, ahead of Danny Garcia.

"An emergency guy - not the Joe McEwing-type guy," Duquette said of a potential pickup. "We had Velandia last year. That type of player is what we've been looking for."

1. That is very kind to Joe McEwing. I know what he means by wanting to have his super sub always available late in games, but I think it comes off as, well, the opinion all of us have on Super Joe.
2. Jorge Velandia type guy? Since when do teams want guys with sub 700 OPSs in their age 28 season in AAA (in 111 ABs)?
3. Why is everyone making Danny Garcia out to be nothing? First of all, he could do the Joe McEwing thing... I believe he played center last year. Second of all, BP has him projected at 11 VORP, much better than McEwing. And third of all, isn't he Jorge Velandia... only better?
4. Marco Scutaro anyone?

I know I've been picking on the bench a lot, but my article was very timely (a few hours before I knew Reyes got injured). By the way, Reyes apparently has a "grade 1" hammy injury, meaning he's probably questionable for opening day. But hey, at least we have Super Joe...

Monday, March 15, 2004
It seems we have prospects...

Rotoworld's take on the Mets farm system

I don't have much to say on the article, though its good to see our minor league teams have been following along nicely with the big club...

Perhaps the only negative number in Kazmir's line for 2003 is his 5-6 record.

Even the organization's best pitcher can't be a winner...

By the way, if the author of this article actually meant that in any seriousness (I'm taking it as an off-hand comment), then I'll barf in my mouth... Wait, the Reyes injury already made me do that.

Hardball Times- Go check it out... includes Gleeman, Mahnken, Belth and many others.

Gleeman's Top 50 Prospects- Along with the opening of the site comes this article. The only Mets in 26-50 is Justin Huber at 44...

Mets fans are going to get spoiled. Look at the catchers they've had over the years. In the 80s they had Gary Carter. Then they had Todd Hundley (when he was good). And then, of course, they've had Mike Piazza for the last six years. Now right around the time Piazza is ready to move out from behind the plate, they've got another catching stud coming up in Justin Huber.

Like Piazza and Hundley, Huber is not considered the greatest defensive catcher, but the man can hit. He's a .282/.382/.464 career hitter in 280 minor leagues games, including .274/.362/.468 between Single-A and Double-A last year. He's got good plate discipline and solid power, although he strikes out more than you'd like to see.

Huber should be ready for an everyday gig sometime around 2005. If the Mets want to keep the catcher/first base platoon thing going with Piazza for a while longer, Huber could probably do nicely in that role too.

In other news...

Ugh. That's the best way to describe it. Right after this article. Creepy. And if you didn't see that article, check it out. It will show you how bad the situation could be. All these leg injuries (5) have me scared about him moving to second...

Sunday, March 14, 2004
And you thought the 5th starters were craptastic...

Ah, the bench. It's one of my obsessions. It's the fans obsession to. A guy is struggling on offense... let's say he's 2 for his last 40. And there's this guy on the bench, who has hit .300 with 4 HR in 50 AB. Well, you know what comes next... the fans call for him to get a shot to play everyday. We all love the guys on the bench, especially the ones that produce, because we always think they would be better than the guys we have out there.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, as I said, one of my obsessions is wanting a team to have a good bench. I think its one of the most important things that comes into play when you consider the "luck" that helps you be better or worse than the pythagorean standings. In order...

1. Hitting with RISP
2. Bench
3. Bullpen
4. Defense

3 and 4 could be lumped together and they are interchangable with 2. But I find 2 more important for other reasons. Injuries and days off. People tend to back up the Joe McEwing signing by saying something like..

"Well, since the team is better this year (read: no Rey Sanchez) and if they are healthy, Joe's flaws will not be exposed and he can be a valuable member of this team. He can play 5 positions." (By the way, its 5. Almost any idiot can play first and he's not a good centerfielder. He just doesn't have the range)

Something like this annoys me a little. What good is it having a player who can play 5 positions if he's not going to be productive at those 5 positions? Even if we assume he's average defensively at all those positions, his offense is clearly below average. And the team being healthy? The whole point of a bench is to be able to step in there and produce adequately when a player is injured.

So what's my point? The Mets made some bad decisions in regard to the bench. Those are bringing back Timo, signing Zeile and giving McEwing two years when better options were/are clearly available on the free agent market or in the Mets system.

To prove my point, here is the Mets bench this year with PECOTA projections for ABs and VORP...

2004 Projected Bench
Cedeno- 368 AB, 0.6 VORP
Spencer- 262 AB, 3.2
Zeile- 183 AB, -0.8
Perez- 301 AB, 4.2
McEwing- 186 AB, 3.1
Wilson- Don't know, not in BP2004 book

AB total- 1300 AB
VORP- 10.3 = 1 win (10 runs equals about 1 win)

The Mets bench will be worth 1 win this year or so says PECOTA. They will be worth one win in those 1300 ABs. That's just not very productive.

On the other hand, let's look at what the Mets bench could have been. The moves below are going to be ones that were suggested around the blogosphere and even one suggested by OFF (I believe)...

2004 Made up Bench
Cedeno- 368 AB, 0.6 VORP
Spencer- 262 AB, 3.2
Branyan (minor league contract, Braves)- 152 AB, 8.3
Scutaro (Claimed by A's)- 213 AB, 13.9
Galarraga(still an FA I believe...)- 170 AB, 5.0
Wilson- Don't know, not in BP2004 book

AB total- 1165 AB
VORP total- 31 = 3 wins

(This assumes the same RF situation. Timo or Spencer, its your choice. My feeling is that the Mets would have gone/would go with Spencer).

That bench is worth 3 wins or 2 more than the one above. Branyan, of course, is Avkash's idea. As for Scutaro, we'll assume they still wanted Matsui, but hope the Mets were smart enough to keep him. If not, they could do this...

Danny Garcia- 256 AB, 11 VORP

Its a drop of 2.9, but the bench is still worth about 3 wins. And Galarraga was OFF's idea. And I agree. With Branyan (or McEwing in the above bench), why do the Mets need a 6th OF? Why not bring in a guy with some punch who can provide a little help defensively, considering the Mets have two natural catchers over at first.

Now, look, 2 wins won't make the difference for the Mets this year. Hell, one or two wins might not make the difference in a real race. But my bigger point is this... The building of a bench and bullpen, at least to me, often shows how smart an organization is. Its all the finer points, like the bullpen or the bench (and not so much the value of the bullpen as the money spent for the value you get), that makes the difference of whether a team is making the playoffs or not (I obviously mean in a race...).

Maybe the Mets will make smarter moves in the future. Maybe they wanted veteran experience (though how much more did they need?) for some of the young players. But, to me at least, the Mets just made some bad decisions. Now, they aren't locked up in any real long term deals here, so its not like all the guys on the bench now won't be off by the time the Mets are ready to win, but it scares me when I see the little moves the Mets make. Just think, with some simple moves, the Mets could have possibly been two games better.

(NOTE: Do not ask about Victor Diaz. The man needs to work on his plate disclipline, get more ABs and get a position before he's in the majors. Also, thanks to Avkash for clarifying some basic VORP concepts. It's possible I could have still screwed it up, but I don't think so. And yes, as I read more BP and more of the book, you will see me using those stats a little more...)

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