Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, June 19, 2004
 
Mike Cameron stole Richard Hidalgo's debut (Tyler Yates was sent down if you were wondering) and Mike Piazza's night by going deep in the bottom of the ninth. Anyone else feel Cameron's slump is ending?

That phenom dude looks to be returning today... officially this time...
"Richard Hidalgo, the Mets' newest right fielder, strolled into the Shea clubhouse yesterday at approximately 3:40 p.m. At around the same time today, [censored] is expected to join his teammates as well...

... The Mets have not announced anything officially with [censored] yet, but rest assured that he's on his way. Barring an injury or any unforeseen development in his Double-A game at Binghamton last night, [censored] was set to return to the Mets tonight for their game against Detroit."
Of course, Art Howe has no idea what to do with himself now...
Howe would not reveal where he intends to bat [censored] when he does come back leadoff or in the two-hole and declined to address how he plans to shuffle Ty Wigginton and Todd Zeile. Wigginton, who is swinging a hot bat, would seem likely to go from being the starting second baseman to the starting third baseman, while Zeile would resume his bench role. But Howe wouldn't admit to anything. "You'll see when that happens," Howe said.
Even if Wigginton's defense is subpar and Zeile's seems to be fairly average, I would still pick Wigginton for one simple reason...

Last 20 games
Wigginton: .316/.350/.526
Zeile: .237/.301/.434

Those are their hitting totals in the last 20 games, courtesy of Doug's Stats. Even with the additions of Hidalgo and [censored], the Mets still need the offensive punch and right now Wigginton is riding high. I suggest to ride it out while it lasts.

The Mets are now in third place in the NL East, only 4.5 out of the Marlins. Enjoy the game today.

 
Barry here, just in to say hi. There's a lot going on with the Mets. Jeremy's already covered Hidlago but I have one more point. I think the trade was a great no risk high reward trade. But I want to talk about Vic Ziegel's take.

First I feel compelled to criticize him for misusing statistics like many media people do. (It's ok if I do it, I don't get paid.) Vic Zeigel points out in his criticism that Hidalgo has hit only .214 at Shea Stadium. He just influenced some readers based on a sample of 42 ABs spread out over the course of 5 years.

He does make a very good point though.
See, the Mets have a video machine, and they don't always play the "Austin Powers" trilogy. They ran tapes of Hidalgo through the machine and they think they've spotted something. Why a player who had 22 RBI in his first 17 games, and a .360 average May 1, has gone in the opposite direction. They have identified a flaw, the GM says, and feel they can "fix it."

He it's on an interesting point though. It is kind of laughable that the Mets are proclaiming they found an 'obvious flaw' in Hidalgo's swing. If the Mets were so capable of evaluating video and fixing swings, why are the Mets second to the bottom in the league in runs scored and why haven't they put together a good offense in years? That would be like saying, the Rockies called up Kevin Jarvis because they think they figured out a way he can change his delivery to pitch in Coors Field.

Plus all this new technology with the video, does it really help? Players still go into long slumps. Players still can't figure it out on the ML level. Does this happen at a lower rate than the in the 40s? I congratulate anyone who can figure that out.

The Mets have two of the best performing low-A guys according to Baseball Prospectus.

Enjoy your Saturday; I unfortunately, have to go into work today.

Friday, June 18, 2004
 
Optimism abound? Rule #7(b) broken? This is a strange time in Mets land and especially in Mets blog land. Mike is the only dissenter, seeing it not as a terrible move, but as a lateral move.

But for the most part, Mets land is happy. Good trade. No David Weathers. Mets take 2 out of 3 from the Indians (by the way, that win last night was necessary). The Tigers are coming to town for three games. The unnameable one is expected to be back tonight (which should also make for an interesting set of roster moves). Hell, Art Howe might be coming around on this Orber Moreno thing...
"We'll find out about that hole in the pen," Howe said. "I feel pretty good about Moreno, we'll see what he can do when he comes back."
Of course, this is a little scary...
"And Wheeler's durable, he can pitch every night."
Think Art Howe needs an inherited runners chart? I'm still of the belief that Wheeler is going when Strickland gets back, but we can only hope.

And if none of this provides you optimism about the Mets and their chances, then this must... Marlins acquire Billy Koch for relief help. Armando Benitez and Billy Koch... are there two bigger headcase relievers out there? Plus add in the fact that unlike Benitez, Koch stinks (Benitez does not stink, contrary to popular Met belief), is it possible the Marlins made themselves worse?

Thursday, June 17, 2004
 
I always have problems with the Mets moves. I always find something wrong to make it a mediocre move or a bad one... but this... I can't. Seriously.

Sure, Hidalgo is a flyball hitter, something not good for anyone going to Shea. And he's inconsistent, but this is the way I look at it...

1. The Mets acquired a guy who has the potential to be a real 5 hole hitter.
2. They are only on the tag for him for this year at 1 million dollars and then have to give him a 2 million dollar buyout at the end of the year. That's $3 million.
3. They got rid of David Weathers, who Art Howe went to way too much.
4. Hidalgo was being managed by Jimy Williams, someone who will make anyone insane and inconsistent.
5. Hidalgo is an ace with the glove. Every defensive metric says so (scroll down).

This is a great move, plain and simple. The Duke gets a thumbs up on this one. And Avkash, no more worrying about the David Weathers contract extension.

EDIT #1: Jeremy Griffiths is also included in the deal. Big deal. He's a pure filler pitcher (especially since Jimy Williams hates guys who can't throw it fast... see: Kirk Saarloos). This is still a great move.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
 
To be perfectly honest, I didn't think I would have the time/energy to post today, so I hadn't even coherently thought of anything to say...

But, since I have some time, let me just say that Don Baylor is the man. Oh, wait, hitting coaches don't matter when the hitters suck? Oh... then let me just say I love Jason Davis.

In non-Mets news, I finished my last final for school today, which means, for all intensive purposes, I'm done. I'm still performing in the band for graduation night and have some practices and other things for that, but other than that, you might see me around here a little bit more than you do now. And might see me get back to doing some of the longer stuff I used to do when I kicked this thing off. But, unfortunately, tomorrow is not going to be one of those days. You might see something, but not a lot.

Finally, I'm one week away from doing this blog thing for a year... and I still love doing it...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
 
Craig Brazell: Insert Lame Title Here
*All stats as of games played through Monday June 7th unless specified.

The other day (and other times in the past), I’ve put down Craig Brazell as being worth basically nothing unless he learns some plate discipline. I’ve always said his highest value is in a trade while he’s still at AAA, where some team will see his HR number and gawk at it. Well, finally, I had a reader, his name Jose, who decided to stand up for Brazell. Here is that e-mail…
I think you're being a bit unfair to Craig Brazell. While you seen to do your homework before you write something, I think you're jumping on the "Brazell Haters" bandwagon a bit early this time.

Take a look at the numbers - after a small mini-slump, Brazell is still part of the following IL leader boards:

3rd in HR (15)
5th in Total Bases (112)
Tied for 5th in RBI (39)
Tied for 7th in Runs (35)
Tied for 13th in Hits (59)
Tied for 19th in SLG (.526)
And by the way, he's not even on the top 20 in strikeouts.

When you're at/near the top of so many quality stat items, you have to be doing something right. Every time Brazell has been promoted, he's expected to fall flat on his face, but he just puts up a consistent 20+ HR with between 80-100 RBI with the same K rate (20%) in every stop he's made in the minors. Not bad numbers. Just because he doesn't fit the money ball template, doesn't meant that he won't be a good ballplayer. Look up Al Oliver, Juan Gone, Vlad (early in his career), Dante Bichette - none of them walked much, but all of them hit for a high average and put up decent (sometimes great) power numbers.

While it's true that the kid doesn't walk much, I still think that he would be a great lefty bat to have on the bench. I think that he was originally a catcher, is now primarily a first baseman, but also has played some third and the corner OF positions. That would provide Howe with a lot of flexibility - or confuse him even further.

While I like Diaz, I think that Brazell is better. Consider a few comparison points between Brazell and Diaz:

Diaz has struck out more than Brazell and walked less.
Brazell has significantly more power than Diaz (15 - 7 HR .526 - .450 SLG).
Neither is a great defender, but Brazell may have a better glove.

The thing that the Mets need to do is clean out the dead wood in Norfolk, and move up the whole system one level. Other than Diaz, Brazell and a couple of pitchers, Norfolk is a AAAA team with few players that will ever make it in the majors for more than a cup of coffee.
Take a second to digest that. And look at the part I put in bold. That’s a good line.

OK, now that we have digested this, let’s take this piece by piece.

1. I’ll look at Brazell’s minor league career and see if there is anything in there that will make me change my position on him.
2. How does he compare with Diaz? Who would I rather have up in a pinch to play RF? Who would I rather have for the future?
3. What would I do with Brazell if I was the Mets and what do I project him to be in the majors?

(An aside: Before I tackle #1 and start this up, I would like to point out that anything is possible for this kid. He could turn into a no walk, power machine who has a very successful major league career, though I don’t see the pure hitter than Juan Gone and Vlad were and Dante Bichette was helped a hell of a lot by Coors Field. But still, there are examples of good major leaguers who never walked, so anything is possible, no matter what my conclusion on him becomes.)

Let’s start by simply putting down his age, league and three basic rate stats…

2000- Age 20, A, .241/.268/.369
2001- Age 21, A, .308/.338/.586
2002- Age 22, A+/AA*, .276/.305/.474
2003- Age 23, AA/AAA*, .289/.328/.458
2004- Age 24, AAA, .277/.316/.526

*For both ‘02 and ‘03, I combined together the two stints at a different league because the higher league was a very small sample.

Something jumps out at you, right? The .308/.338/.586 in 2001. Those are great numbers… by themselves. But in case they are useless. Why? Here’s a little thing I’ve seen Avkash use from David Cameron’s article at Strikethree.com to explain age ranges for prospects.
Low-A: 19-20 years old
High-A: 20-21 years old
AA: 21-22 years old
AAA: 22-23 years old
In a nutshell, Brazell should have been in High A by then. The fact that he dominated Low A ball is a good sign. If he hadn’t… well, we wouldn’t be talking about him.

As for the rest of the stats, until this year, they seem fairly pedestrian, even if you account for things like St. Lucie’s horrible hitting environment. But let’s use a few different metrics to take a look. Here are IsoP, BB/PA, K/PA, BB/K (in that order)…

Age 20- A, .128, .036, .195, .183
Age 22- A+/AA, .198, .025, .187, .203
Age 23- AA/AAA, .169, .047. .203, .228
Age 24- AAA, .249, .048, .189, .256

As you can see here, he doesn’t walk. He’s improved, but it still isn’t good. And he still strikes out about 4 times for every walk, which while an improvement, still isn’t good.

As for his Isolated Power, it was nothing special before this year, especially for a corner OF/1B who will make his career on hitting for power and doesn’t seem like he’ll be near a .300 hitter.

But, this year, out of nowhere, it went flying up. Why? Well, part of it I think is a hot start to the season. I can’t find splits by month anywhere, but it seems to me he hit a lot of those homers early in the season (His IsoP is down to .234 as of games played through Sunday June 13th). Another part is that age thing. If you scroll back up, you’ll see it say…

AAA: 22-23 years old

What does that mean? He’s a little old for the league. Not too much (one year older isn‘t THAT big of a deal), but enough that these numbers in context just aren’t as great.

Another thing to consider is his EQA. BP has it listed at .289 at Norfolk. The league average EQA at 1B in the international league? .287. And his mjEQA… .255. That’s right boys and girls… below average player.

To me, there is nothing in his minor league career to suggest that he is worthwhile to bring up and to consider part of the future. I don’t think he’s a real part of the future and is much better in a trade where his numbers look nice then coming up for 80 ABs and lowering his trade value by being bad (I understand his value could go up by doing good, but I think the risk is higher than the reward).

That then brings us to #2...

How does he compare with Diaz? Who would I rather have up in a pinch to play RF? Who would I rather have for the future?

Diaz is an interesting comparision, because, well, they are both free swingers. They both strike out a lot (Brazell, before this year, more) and don’t walk a lot, but hit for a ton of power. There is one simple difference. Diaz is 22 and finally catching on to AAA pitching after struggling early. He is on the younger side for the league and still has over a year to develop there before he should be ready to move on.

As for there defense, I can’t tell you much, though from what I hear, Diaz seems more athletic. He also provides flexibility by being able to play 2B and 3B in a pinch. I would call their defense equal, since they are both learning to play RF, but I say Diaz has the higher upside based on moving way down the defensive spectrum from 2B, even if he wasn’t great there.

So, I’d much rather have Diaz for the future and the basic difference is age. Brazell is doing what he should be doing in the league past the time he should be doing it. Diaz is doing it (or starting to do it) when he should be doing it to be considered a real prospect. That means I’d much rather see the Mets move Brazell on his way so Diaz has the room to grow and develop. But, if the Mets needed a hitter in a pinch, I’d much rather see Brazell, only because he is older and part of me is intrigued to see what he can do. If the trading deadline passes and the Mets don’t make a move or Brazell is not moved, I’d like to see him come up onto the bench. I am a sucker for free swinging power guys on the bench, especially if they are lefty. But I would not want to see him before then and even more importantly, his value to this team is much higher in a trade to get a player (if that player is good) than it will be getting 150-200 ABs on the bench.

Finally, let’s tackle #3...

3. What would I do with Brazell if I was the Mets and what do I project him to be in the majors?

As I’ve stated in the paragraph above, I’d try and move him along as a second piece in a trade for the Mets to acquire a player who can help them in the playoff race (if they are in it) and hopefully help them beyond this year. If that doesn’t happen, I’d give him the last spot on the bench, hoping he could provide some good pop and maybe help the 1B production Phillips is putting up when he plays over there.

As for my projection, I see a .280/.315/.460 hitter before Shea Stadium takes an effect on him. And it could be a nasty effect for him. I don’t know if he is a flyball hitter, but power is stifled in Shea no matter what and it could only serve to hurt him, not help him. He could be a tiny bit better, but even if he was, its still not good numbers for a 1B/corner OF.

I say trade him while his perceived value (with all his minor league homers) is still higher than his real value (a replaceable power lefty bat on the bench). Sorta like what the Mets should do with Vance Wilson.

Monday, June 14, 2004
 
Scott Erickson has apparently given up 8 runs in 2 innings tonight... I guess wishes can come true.

 
In my further attempts to get distracted and not write about Brazell, I updated the sidebar, kicking off a lot of links and adding one or two. I always say I'll organize them better and I will very soon... or I hope I will.

 
The Mets are one of the teams in today's PTP at Baseball Prospectus. A few comments in there about David Wright and Howe's strikeout comment, but I found the most interesting to be about the Mets quality of competition...
He's [Leiter] caught some lucky breaks, though. Our Pitchers' Quality of Batters Faced report tells us that of the 374 pitchers with at least 50 batters faced, Leiter's opposition OPS (.693) has been the third-lowest; only Matt Wise and Victor Santos, both with the Brewers, have had it easier. More bad news for the Mets: Tom Glavine, who is also enjoying a surprisingly productive year, ranks 33rd from the bottom with a .722 batters faced OPS.

The list, incidentally, is dominated by National League teams. Only 13 of the bottom 100 pitchers play in the AL. In that bottom 100, moreover, 52 of the Mets' 60 starts are represented (all but those of James Baldwin and Matt Ginter).

This would seem to indicate that the Mets have benefited unduly from the vagaries of luck and scheduling, and are headed for some serious bumps in the road. Perhaps--but luck does not compensate for itself, and whether or not these benefits are temporary, they are very real.
The beginning of that segment of the article is about Leiter pitching with a torn labrum. It's some interesting info to digest...

 
I'm working on the Brazell thing, slowly, as my mind is running on fumes from finals and end of the school year burnout. I have time to write, now I just have to weave those magical words...

Matt is optimistic. Yes, I'm being serious... he is. I'm not, but Matt is.

I just don't see it. I see what I always felt I was going to see... a wildly inconsistent team. The Tiggers (that's intentional) and the Indians are this week. If The Move 12 game stretch doesn't get back to .500, I'm gonna put a fork in them for good this time. And yes Vinny, I absolutely mean it this time.

Here are a couple of news and notes from The Post...

Duquette on David Wright...
"He's a guy we'd be less inclined to move unless we're blown away," Duquette said. "We feel he has a bright future in the organization and will be an everyday third baseman here. When that is will depend on his development."
I think most of us have an answer for him...

On Matsui and his "fielding issues"...
Kaz Matsui committed two errors on high throws and now has 14 miscues.

Art Howe indicated Matsui is not fielding the ball quickly enough. Matsui says he is conscious of that, but rushing his throws wasn't the problem.

"I couldn't get a good grip on the ball, I couldn't get a good feeling," he said. "Maybe I should've followed through."

Howe also told the Japanese shortstop to relax.
Look, I'm as much against the error as a defensive statistic as anyone, but 14 this early in the season is 14, even if a few can be blamed on Piazza. He just hasn't been what the hype suggested...

Speaking of defense, anyone else happy Wigginton is playing second?... much more natural over there.

Finally, just for the heck of it, here are the Mets relievers, in order of games appeared in, along with their RA, FIP and VORP (in that order). You make your own conclusions...

Mike Stanton- 4.65, 4.46, 3.6
David Weathers- 4.78, 5.23, 2.0
Braden Looper- 2.16, 2.66, 13.7
John Franco- 5.40, 3.84, 0.7
Orber Moreno- 4.26, 2.53, 4.0
Dan Wheeler- 4.94, 4.41, 3.4
Ricky Bottalico- 3.57, 2.58, 4.4

Sunday, June 13, 2004
 
Even though this road trip has sucked for the Mets, one of the cool things I get to take away from it is getting to see Johan Santana and Zack Grienke pitch, who are probably my two favorite young pitchers in the game.

Speaking of the road trip, Vance Wilson can no longer be a defensive replacement at catcher until he learns how to make a tag at home plate. And David Weathers... well, I think you know where I would go with that.

And finally, in the Mets finally waking up news, David Wright and Prentice Redman got promoted to AAA. I think the bigger deal here is Redman, as the Mets finally realized he had not only mastered AA this year, but had played well enough there two years ago not to go back. I'll never figure out why he started the year in AA. And this also moves David Wright one step closer to the promise land. Yay.

 
It looks like Jeremy is a bit busy. So I'm going to vent instead.

Vance Wilson. I like the guy but he's blown three plays at the plate in the last week. What's even worse is how incredibly positive he was that he tagged him out at home.
According to Vance:
"I was blocking the plate, I came up with the ball, the guy's out. I felt like I got the tag on him. I don't know if he even got to the plate."
I'm sure Vance knows the rules to tag him with the ball in the glove. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he thought he had the ball. I'd really like to see what he says after he sees the replay.

I love the Mets but it's really embarrassing in the way they are losing.

It's my perception that the Mets don't have a good scouting department and struggle when facing unfamiliar pitchers. Today against Greinke should be very interesting and it might get ugly.

It's from Friday but there's some Met Related stuff on The Hardball Times. The Mets are on the bottom, I wonder if it's a coincidence.


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