Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, March 27, 2004
 
Apparently (I don't have a link), the Mets have traded Timo Perez to the White Sox for Matt Ginter. And no, that's not the Milwaukee utility man Keith. Matt is a reliever, who has decent strike out totals, not terrible walk totals... basically, he's a right handed relief arm, which we already have two million of. Here's his scouting report on ESPN.com

Ginter is pretty much a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a fastball in the low 90s and a hard slider. Because the slider is such a good pitch, he has more than enough stuff to be effective against righthanded hitters, but he must figure out how to neutralize lefthanded hitters. They aren't as quick to chase the slider and work their way into pitchers' counts. A big man, Ginter has slow reflexes on the mound.

It's not a bad move, though Timo did have an option year left to the minors I believe(?) and the Mets probably could have gotten more than a replacable right bullpen arm. Still, these guys are always helpful in case of injury or for trade bait.

There are also rumblings that this move was made to clear the way for Eric Valent (Rule V pick) to stay on the 25 man roster... We'll see, though this move could have been made so the Mets can pick up a UTIL infielder... Stay tuned...

UPDATE: Rotoworld confirms the move and gives its take...

We're happy to see Ginter out of Chicago, but it doesn't appear that he's going to a better situation in New York. The former first-round pick would be a solid middle reliever or setup man, but the Mets probably don't have room in the pen for him right now.

UPDATE 2#: Correction to the above... Eric Valent was an AAA Rule V pick, therefore he can start the year with Norfolk. Question though... Does he have to be on the 40 man roster or such or can he be downright optioned to AAA?

Friday, March 26, 2004
 
Rob Neyer mentions Marco Scutaro today and has an interesting suggestion...

Chavez is a great player. Even if you throw Alex Rodriguez into the mix, Chavez is one of the three most valuable third basemen in the major leagues. But if Chavez was on your Strat-O-Matic team, you wouldn't let him play against lefties. The Oakland Athletics are not, of course, a Strat-O-Matic team. Chavez has now been anointed as the franchise's flagship, and manager Ken Macha probably doesn't have the freedom to do what he probably should do, which is give some of Chavez's at-bats to Marco Scutaro.

Marco who?

Marco Scutaro. If you're not a Mets fan you've probably never heard of him, but now he's an A, and he can play. Scutaro's 28 and he's no Gold Glove third baseman, but over the last three seasons in Triple-A he's combined for a .450 slugging percentage and a .379 on-base percentage. Yes, that was only Triple-A ... but what would Scutaro's numbers look like if he played only against left-handed pitchers?

I don't know either, but I'm pretty sure they'd be good enough to justify a spot on your Strat team. Will they be enough to justify a spot in Macha's lineup? Not often. Unless you're Earl Weaver, you don't platoon the flagship with a Triple-A lifer, and you certainly don't pinch-hit for him.


I would tend to agree with him. Even with Scutaro's cult status around here, he is a Triple A lifer to this point and he would be replacing Eric Chavez, who, is, um, great. But then again, as Avkash pointed out, Scutaro is probably getting his shot at second base...

 
The Free Chris Reitsma bandwagon has been derailed

Yup, that's right boys and girls, he's going to the Braves. So now they have Cruz and Reitsma, both capable starters... you think Jaret Wright is too happy? Cruz will probably end up in the rotation and Reitsma will be a set-up man to John Smoltz (and maybe closer when he retires). In this situation, Reitsma is not being misused, so I will not scream for his movement into the rotation.

For reaction, check out No Pepper and Reds Daily...

Oh, and don't be surprised if you don't see too much of me this weekend, I'm a tiny bit busy...

Thursday, March 25, 2004
 
If the Mets are interested in a Cruz, couldn't it be Juan? Anyway, Kaley perfectly breaks down why Deivi Cruz is a horrible backup middle infield choice. Vinny points out that Erick Almonte was cut this morning by the Yankees. That would be scarier. Two things on this...

1. What is Joe McEwing doing on this roster if he can't be the Mets backup middle infielder? Then again, what is Joe McEwing doing on this roster anyways...?
2. Has Duke heard of Danny Garcia?

In other news, Will Leitch breaks down every Major League baseball team in a season preview at blacktable.com. Here's what he says about the Mets...

The Mets, to their credit, are certainly trying to improve without going all Knicks on us. They've cleared out some payroll and are building around youngsters like Jose Reyes, Scott Kazmir and Aaron Heilman. And even their free agent signings are getting smarter; Mike Cameron was the fleet-footed defensive whiz center fielder Tom Glavine and Al Leiter desperately needed.

But this team still is a couple of years away from respectability. The top of the order is solid, but Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd are lucky they can even stand anymore. Tom Glavine is about to fall off a cliff, and it's very possible Karim Garcia will start in rightfield, which is all you need to know. But new general manager Jim Duquette is at least monitoring the situation in a sane manner, which is more than you've been able to say about the Mets for a long time.

This year won't be as miserable as the last few years, and there is some hope out there … but the Mets will be lucky, with the Yankees in town, to hit a single backpage headline all season. That might be a good thing.


He also links the picture in each preview to the best blog about each team and I was very flattered/suprised to see that was me. So for anyone who is coming from there, take a look around and hopefully you'll like it and come back again. He also says this about blogs...

You are much better served by reading the best fan blogs than you are by reading your local beat reporter's coverage

Thanks a bunch to Will for the link and the kind word about blogs...

Finally, Peter Abraham has a nice article on Cameron. It's basically about his offense and discusses a nice spring training trend...

The best part? The strikeout-prone Cameron has fanned only five times in 44 plate appearances. Now 31, he clearly has matured as a hitter. After wasting money on a series of free agents in decline, the Mets found a player whose best years may be ahead.

It's nice that his K rate is low in ST, but I expect that. Most of the pitchers he faces are not true major leaguers (or fringe major leaguers), so I would expect him to not strike out against them... bu tthat's just me.

Also, I find it highly unlikely that his best years offensively are ahead of him... Here's his OPS the last three years...

.833, .782, .775

And on the road...

.983, .854, .789

His OPS overall will be higher this year because he's getting out of Safeco. How much higher? That I'm not sure about... it depends on how much his flyball tendencies hurt him. So it will probably look like he's improving when in fact he's either declining or staying even. I think he'll stay even and maybe give the Mets a .350/.460, which is certainly good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
 
We knew about Werth, but Rios?...

Reports the Dodgers and Mets have been sniffing around, preparing offers for Jayson Werth and/or Alex Rios, seem premature although either Jay could be available for the right offer.

More on Rios...

As for the mega-talented Rios, 23, the trade offer would have to be a top-drawer prospect in order to tempt Ricciardi. Eventually Rios will likely be traded. His skills are too similar to Vernon Wells' in terms of not seeing pitches and drawing walks. One such early-contact hitter is enough under the current offensive philosophy.

Now, apparently, Griffin isn't the best writer in the world and you know what?... I can see why. If Rios skills are similar to Vernon Wells, I'm sure J.P. will have no problem putting him out there everyday. I would love to get Rios and would offer up Heilman (who apparently Riccardi likes) to get him, but I don't think that would do it. And I wouldn't give up Wright or Kazmir (there's no way Huber would get the deal done).

As for Werth, who I've discussed before and came to the conclusion that he'd be a great move because of his upside but the Mets shouldn't give up too much for him, we have our daily Batter's Box suggestion. Vic Diaz or Danny Garcia. I say no way to Vic Diaz. If we trade him, I want more value for him. Both players have potential upside, but Diaz's looks better than Werth's right now. As for Danny Garcia, I would love to have him around to be a UT infielder, but unfortunately McEwing is in the way. I like Garcia, to have around to fill out the bench and sub in for injured players, but I can't say I would be against a deal involving him. I would rather not see him in it (and see two of our many relievers get moved there), but I wouldn't have a problem with it either.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
 
As Avkash notes in the comments below, Rototimes has corrected itself after ESPN corrected itself...

ESPN's announce team erroneously reported during today's game that Jose Cruz Jr. (OF) TB was in danger of not making the team. They later corrected themselves, as it is in fact Deivi Cruz who may get the axe.

So much for that...

 
This is good news! Rototimes reports...

ESPN's announcing team reported during today's Devil Rays/Red Sox game that Jose Cruz Jr. is in danger of not making the 25-man roster for Tampa Bay. If Cruz is cut it would open up more playing time for Robert Fick and Eduardo Perez.

As we all know, Jose Cruz Jr. was my pick for the RF job. You can read about that here. If he were to get released, the Mets should jump on him immediately. He cost the D-Rays 3 mil a year for 2 years and my guess if that he'll be less for the Mets. I'm not sure why the D-Rays would just release him instead of trading him, but, they are the D-Rays. Jose Cruz Jr. gives great defense in RF, a fairly nice OBP (he improved his walk rate tremendously last year) and a little bit of pop. I like him a lot and think he could be a solid answer in RF... would he be in RF when the Mets are ready to go for the gold? Probably not, but he would be a nice year or two year stopgap... Probably a year, if the Mets are really that intent on getting Maggilo Ordonez.

Now, Cruz hasn't been released yet, so I'm not too excited, but if he does, I really hope the Mets get him. And then eat Cedeno's contract...

Monday, March 22, 2004
 
Scott and Vinny did it and don't seem to have any complaints, so... why not? I'm posting my AIM name on the sidebar and in this post...

JFrogger128

Nice, huh? Anyways, if you want to talk baseball, have a question, have a suggestion for something you want me to write about or are just a loyal reader (I actually think I have a few of those who aren't bloggers) who wants to say hi, just IM me.

Now on to the bullpen...

This is less about how its set up as a showing of where the Mets went wrong. We are ignoring the 6th spot because well, I have no idea who is going to get it.

These are the five I see in the bullpen, with salary numbers (Big ups to Dugout Dollars for making the payroll part of this all possible)...

Weathers- $3.13 million
Franco- $1 million
Stanton- $3 million
Looper- $3.38 million
Wheeler- 300 K

Total- $10.81 million

If I was creating the bullpen, I'd keep two guys. Wheeler and Weathers. Weathers is a little overpaid, but his projected VORP is 11.7, so he's worth a little over a win and he is a workhorse. If I wanted to, I could try to plug in Bevis here (5.9 VORP) for the minimum, but I figure its the Mets and they are going to have at least one big paid reliever... Wheeler is obvious. Making chump change for a projected 6 VORP. Here is the total VORP for that bullpen above...

Weathers- 11.7
Franco- 4.2
Stanton- 5.9
Looper- 10.5
Wheeler- 6

Total- 38.3

Not bad... But let's work on what I would have done to replace Franco, Looper and Stanton (now of course, in the case of Stanton, this requires someone to either take his contract or it requires the Mets to eat it).

First Franco... his replacement? Pedro Feliciano. Not only is his projected VORP 9.2, but he's also...

a. a lefty like Franco
b. young and not injury prone like Franco
c. Making the league minimum

Even if you don't believe there is a 5 run difference there, you can concede that Feliciano would at least be the same as Franco with the chance to be better. He has the upside and he's cheaper. Plug him in there.

Next Stanton... his replacement? Jaime Cerda. His projected VORP is 5.7, basically the same as Stanton. He's a lefty, but is more than a LOOGY. I'm high on Cerda's ability, but you could paid Cerda for the minimum and get the value as you would for Stanton at 3 mil a year.

Finally Looper... his replacement? Orber Moreno. Moreno's VORP is 6.8, 3.7 less than Looper. But he also makes 3 million less than Looper, has a chance to be a good closer and well... why do the Mets need a "proven closer" (and that can be argued) for a team that isn't going anywhere? Instead of giving a young kid a chance to show he can do it, the Mets plugged the spot with a guy who has struggled closing... and well... they gave him 3.38 million a year... which is a little excessive.

Here is my bullpen with VORP numbers...

Weathers- 11.7
Feliciano- 9.2
Cerda- 5.7
Moreno- 6.8
Wheeler- 6

Total- 39.4

This bullpen would actually be better, but only by a run... so we can say they are essentially even. Not quite... Here are the salaries...

Weathers- $3.13 million
Feliciano- 300 K
Cerda- 300 K
Moreno- 300 K
Wheeler- 300 K

Total- $4.33 million

I'm not sure if every guy would make the 300 K minimum, but the bullpen now is making 10.81 million. There is a 6 million dollar difference between the bullpens! And the second one is projected to be better! Even if you factor in Stanton's contract being bought out, the other bullpen would still have a 3 million dollar edge.

See... for the most part, players' value in bullpens aren't all that difference (except for the extremely good and bad pitchers). It's about using the resources you have on the farm (and the ones you can pick up via the waiver wire or Rule V draft) to get the best value for your dollar, not paying guys 2 million dollars to give you the same value (whether its actual value or value for your dollar).

 
I was planning to look at the bullpen this afternoon, but I have been side tracked, so you can probably expect that up later tonight...

But for now, here is your EEK! news of the day....

Ricky Bottalico threw 1 2/3 perfect innings and has now retired 25 of the 28 batters he has faced. His stunning spring could earn him a roster spot. "I had a lot of questions about myself," said Bottalico, who hasn't been effective since 2001 because of shoulder pain. "I can't describe how comfortable I feel. It's like I have learned how to pitch again." (From Journal News)

This can't be happening, can it? Did Erickson, Baldwin and Bottalico find the Fountian of Youth in Florida? And if they did, could they show it to Tommy Boy?

Sunday, March 21, 2004
 
From Joel Sherman's Sunday article...

On a much smaller outfield level, the Mets are interested in Toronto's Jayson Werth, who is out of options and almost certain to be moved. The offensive-hungry Dodgers also are talking to the Blue Jays.

I am intrigued. Here are the projected VORP for our four OF candidates in RF...

Cedeno- 368 AB, 0.6 VORP
Spencer- 262 AB, 3.2
Perez- 301 AB, 4.2
Garcia- 270 AB, 2.2

Meanwhile, Jason Werth...

269 AB, 12.3 VORP

That's a .265/.333/.482 (EQ its .261/.334/.478) hitting line. He also has a 74% improve rate and a 50% breakout rate.

He's a former first round pick by the Orioles and a converted catcher (moved because of his height... he's 6-5). Apparently BP says he's speedy and athletic enough to handle the outfield.

He hadn't done much good in the minors until 2002, but seemed to start to put it together then. He strikes out a bunch, but takes some walks and has some signs of power. He's only 25, but out of options and it looks like the Blue Jays are trying to move him.

Lurking on Batter's Box, I found someone suggest Aaron Heilman. I would be clearly against that. If its a couple of firearms (Diaz and Yates? The Blue Jays bullpen doesn't seem that great...), then I would probably do it. Werth has potential to be very good and could be a very good back up outfielder if the Mets feel the need to get a better RF after the season.

No matter what, he would be better than what the Mets have now. His potential also makes him very intriguing, but the Mets shouldn't give up a lot for a guy that would only be one win better than what they could put out there now, especially if they will feel the need to get a big time RF after the season.

 
Mailing it in for the weekend? I lied...

Here are a couple of nice articles on the rookies of last year...

Ty Wigginton: More than a stop gap?

Here is his belief on why his hitting and more importantly his power numbers were down...

"The biggest difference up here is the advance scouting," he said. "The next team knows if you are going through a stretch where you aren't hitting a certain pitch and you have to find a way to fix it right away.

"I went back and looked at tape of myself from '02 and '03 and there were differences. I don't know how they got there, but they did. In '02, I could drive it a lot better.

"I'm looking to go into the left-center gap more instead of right-center. Also, work the count better. I want to say 'first pitch, it it's not middle-in, I'm taking it.' Or 'middle-away, I'm taking it.'

"I also think I wore down because I wasn't able to lift weights because of a shoulder problem."


Advance scouting... that's fair. He has flaws and everyone knew it... its fixing them that is important...
He did drive it better in '02... but that was like 100 ABs... I'm not convinced.
Taking pitches, working counts... good idea.
Shoulder injury... mostly an excuse for the fact he just doesn't hit the ball that hard.

Here is what the Mets think...

For all those reasons, the Mets think one of their hardest workers will hit 20 homers, drive in 90-95 runs. For which team is the ultimate question Wigginton refuses to ask himself.

Hit 20 homers... probably not completely out of the question, but he only hit 11 last year and I just don't see it. Drive in 90-95 runs? Probably not in the spot of the lineup he'll be... and really, who cares?

But I think he's a little off his rocker with this one...

"It was fun having David in camp because we pushed each other. [Ultimately] they might move him [to another position], or move me, but I'm going to make it hard on them.

The chances of David Wright moving are slim (read: 1 million to 1). Wigginton would/will make a great utility INF and would have been an interesting 2B if the Mets had never moved Reyes and let Scutaro hold the job this year.

Piazza not only first-base project

In Keith Hernandez and Don Mattingly, baseball fans in New York saw two of the most elegant first basemen ever to play the game.

There were graceful stretches, quick picks of low throws, and stylish swipes to take away bunt singles. Hernandez and Mattingly turned fielding into a fine art and crowded their trophy cases with Gold Gloves.

Then there is Jason Phillips, master of the belly flop in front of the bag and king of playing the ball off his chest and shoveling it to the pitcher from his knees.


That's a perfect despriction... Here's his prediction for the Piazza/Phillips platoon...

The Mets started spring training claiming they wanted Mike Piazza to become at least a part-time first baseman. But Piazza has played only 11 innings there, supposedly because of a sore leg muscle. As the season approaches, it is evident that Phillips will be the regular first baseman.

"I don't see Mike playing 50 games at first," Phillips said. "If everything goes well, maybe 40. I'm preparing myself to play a lot of first."


Good or bad? Not a big difference for now. Obviously, in the long run, Phillips has more value at catcher than first but the Mets have Huber/Jacobs in the minors and don't have much at first. It will be interesting how the Mets handle Phillips in the future (and how Phillips progresses both offensively and defensively), but for now its not a huge deal just how many games Piazza plays at first. Speaking of defense...

Phillips employed a few home remedies over the winter to try to smooth out the rough edges in his game.

Kelly, his wife, was charged with hitting him grounders on the cul-de-sac outside their home in Las Vegas. Their infant son, J.J., would watch from his baby seat on the lawn.

Phillips' brother Kyle, a prospect in the Twins' organization, took over fungo duties on the weekends when he was visiting.

"You get good hops off the street with a rubber ball, it's quick," Phillips said. "Helps with your hand-eye coordination. My wife (who is Australian) swung like she was playing cricket but it worked out."


Stick ball! But, of course, Phillips is up here because of his bat...

Phillips is in the big leagues because of his bat. He hit .298 with 11 home runs and 58 RBI in 119 games last season. His .373 on-base percentage was second among National League rookies.

"I feel stronger at the plate when I play first," he said. "I've caught five games this spring and taken a foul tip every time. When you're catching your main job is to give the pitcher everything you've got to win that game. When you're playing first you have to hit or you're not impacting the game much. I think that focuses you."


I guess most guys would feel that way and I wonder just how much playing catcher effects your ability with the bat...

And finally, this is from the bottom of an MLB.com story on Orber Moreno

The Mets remain in need of a middle infielder and Rey Ordonez did walk out on the Padres on Friday, but don't expect the Mets to pursue their former shortstop. They have no interest in Ordonez, who, among other things, can't play second base.

Its good that they don't want Rey Ordonez... but um, could Jose Reyes play second before the season? I know he's young and Ordonez isn't, but you don't think Ordonez could pick up on playing second defensively and hold his own? Meanwhile, we'll force our 20 year old apparent superstar to change positions...

I know I should lay off the whole Reyes moving to second thing cause there's not much anyone can do about it now... but it still gets at me... especially when I see his leg problems...


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