Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Jay was fairly excited with Matsui wearing the goggles last night, but unfortunately, it didn't help. He committed his 23rd error on a routine ball hit right to him. Bobbled it twice, bounced the throw and the runner ends up on second. Maybe a better 1B scoops it or at least stops the runner from getting to second, but, while Piazza has hurt Matsui by missing some throws, he can't bounce this many to first base this consistently.

I was trying to play wait and see with Matsui's defense, feeling at times it was getting better and feeling at times (or maybe hoping) he showed some tools. But I'm done with that. He's an average SS at best and he's certainly been below average the whole year.

So, how could this many scouts be this wrong on him? Everyone, not just the Mets, thought he was gold glove caliber with a gun for a throwing arm. No gun. Questionable range. Pretty bad hands. And I can't buy the America adjustment arguement anymore. His arm should be there no matter what and to me the ball gets to you faster on turf, so wouldn't that make it eaiser? And either way, he hasn't shown a good around of range.

Despite this, Matsui has a 23.1 VORP, fourth among NL SS, so he has produced with the bat. If you give him a little credit for the high SB% marks and consider his defense, he is probably worth a win to a win and a half over replacement player depending on how many runs you think he costs defensively. Good player at SS no matter what, not quite worth the investment the Mets have in him.

So, the move has to be made. When? After the season. It's tough watching Matsui botch play after play at SS, but we don't need another Piazza to 1B incident (and the media firestorm that follows it). Play out the rest of the year and work on Matsui at 2B during the offseason and spring training.

Sure, it will be the story of spring training, but we won't be able to watch them play (a lot anyway), so there can't be a first hand talk radio scrutiny. Only what we hear about what happened. Plus, Matsui will need time to learn 2B and doing it on the fly could only result in bad plays, which in turn is more booing, which in turn is less confidence. And the last thing we need is a productive hitter at his position feeling completely crappy about this defense.

So, be patient. Matsui will be moved eventually, but it will have to wait until after the season, for pure sanity prposes. And then maybe we'll have two gold glove caliber middle infielders, instead of one playing the less important middle infield position.

Friday, August 06, 2004
From Norm's site from the book Saving the Pitcher...
Changing mechanics, especially those that have been ingrained into muscles over years of competition, is difficult and requires an intense commitment. Doing so inside of a season or even a pre-season does not likely provide enough time to do so properly.
This quote struck me a little bit. It's what I've been wondering since the trade... is it automatic that this will work?

Peterson may have soured on Kazmir's attitude, but does that mean Zambrano's attitude is perfect? Had he actually met him before to make sure that this would work out. Apparently, Jae Seo wasn't very taking to Peterson's teachings, so what's to say Zambrano, who, along with Carlos, are very fiery carbon based life forms, will take to it so easily.

And will it work? I have some faith in Peterson because he knows what he's doing, but he just acquired a pitcher who has been throwing, farily successfully, for more than a few years this one way. Will he automatically change his mechanics? And if he does some of the time, will he do it all the time? When he gets higher in pitches, will he go back to his old ways? Same for stressful innings... I guess this stuff to ask Peterson, that maybe Peterson knows, but that quote a the top strikes me a little as something that just makes a little more sense.

As for yesterday, Zambrano threw 5 1/3 innings with 4 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 K and 110 pitches (62 strikes/48 balls) in the Mets 11-6 win. He was a little bit all over the place, either seemingly throwing it out of the zone or right over the plate. Later on in the game he seemed to pick it up a little, showing a nice slider and changeup. I was expecting a better and faster fastball, but its not a bad pitch. He just frustrates, because its like Al Leiter, except you know he's not trying to miss so much. He can look really good for a few batters and then just look bad versus the next two. And when he comes out, you don't how to feel... he gave the Mets a chance to win, he was all over the place, but he got a good enough job done.... sounds like a 4 ERA pitcher, doesn't it?

But don't be so quick to judge him... We'll see how things progress.

As for the flipside, the Mets offense exploded again, led by D Wright's 6 RBI game, including a 3 run bomb (and I mean bomb) in the first inning. Of course, the Mets struggled on defense again, committing 3 errors, one by Joe McEwing, though he deserves two.

Tonight the Mets roll into St. Louis to take on the Cardinals. It's Tom Glavine vs. Matt Morris.

With that occurring, I have an interesting question I want to bring up... Is Jim Edmonds a hall of famer? If he puts up 4 more good years and gets to 400 HR, considering he plays CF and plays very good defense, does he make it? I say yes... what are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 05, 2004
So, today at 2:05 EST, we see the debut of Wild Thing. I guess we see how Peterson's 10 minutes with Zambrano went. Eric covers Peterson's comment on the subject of Zambrano's start today in his Rick Peterson Absurd Quote-Of-The-Day segment.

Kazmir is an angry kid
Scott Kazmir has two goals: to make it to the major leagues, and then stick it to the Mets.
Rick Peterson, who likes to talk these days, has this to say...
Peterson, however, questioned how quickly Kazmir could reach the major leagues and be effective, projecting him to be about three years away. The Mets, Peterson said, want to win now and the trade "fits cleanly" into the Mets' three- to five-year plan.

"He's (Kazmir) a guy we liked a lot," Peterson said yesterday. "He's going to be a very good pitcher. It was just a matter of timing. (But) while we're waiting, we're playing games. We do have a schedule, and there's a game at 7 o'clock tonight and another tomorrow. Someone has to pitch those games."
The emphasis is mine. Also, insert Scott Erickson/James Baldwin joke here.

This quote also represents a problem. It's OK if the Mets ask Peterson for his opinion on pitchers out of the system that they are looking to acquire... hell, its a good idea... but in no way should he be playing the role of Assistant GM. It's not what he is and the more quotes I read, the more I think he is.

Teammates grumbling about Mets offensive defense. I wonder which ones would possibly be complaining... Anyway, onto the quotes...
Glavine, 8-9 despite a 2.88 ERA, has been victimized by poor defense more than any starter on the staff. "It is one of the things I give this organization credit for, and something that other people criticize them for, it's that they ask players their feelings on certain things.

"If someone were to ask me what I thought about [defense], I'd tell them the truth.

"But that's one thing. As a pitcher, I would never go to Jim, Jeff [Wilpon] or Art and say, 'These are the guys I want in the field.' Are there pitchers who would do that? Sure. But I would never do it."
Never Tom? Never? Oh, that's right, you'll just tell the media how you feel.

Look at the emphasis I added. Victimized? Look, I won't claim the Mets defense is any great shakes anymore. They have great range, turn BIP into outs, but the errors are part of defense and they like to kick the ball around. They, at this point, are probably average.

But, in no way has this team's defense hurt Tom Glavine. His FIP is 3.57 and his DER is .756 (which is finally coming back down to Earth from the absurd .780-.790 it was at). The Mets are turning BIP into outs behind him, which has helped Glavine a lot (and don't bring up his last start... its one start). That word should he helped, not victimized.

More quotes from this article!
Said Duquette: "We welcome the opinions of the guys in here, always. It wouldn't necessarily sway me on anything, but they can always come talk to us. What they think is important, especially some of the veterans we have."
We knew that...
Al Leiter singled out Joe McEwing for praise on a play at short Tuesday night, saying, "You don't always see that." Whether that was a reference to Matsui's play is up for debate; there will be more frustration, to be sure, if Matsui continues to play poorly and a better shortstop is stuck on the other side of second.
OK, Al, you've gone to far. Advocating Joe McEwing at shortstop. Yuck.

Finally, two more things on Zambrano...

-He has averaged less than 6 innings per start this year.
-He is first in the league in P/IP. Yes, he has Leiter beat, who is second.

Basically, don't expect "Wild Thing" to help out the bullpen...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Gotta love this...

1. Jose Reyes, SS

Matsui isn't playing tonight, but still, its nice to see.

Earlier, I also saw John Olerud drive in two runs for the Yankees in his first AB with them. I almost threw up.

I'm gone for a day and a half and I feel like I missed so much. And yes, I'm obsessed with blogging that I decided to post tonight (a thanks to Barry for taking the reins for 2 days).

Bob Murphy died. I don't have that emotional attachment that some do to him. I guess its my age, so I'm not sure I have much perspective on this... instead, I'll point you over to reader mail (that I also got) that Kaley posted from reader Jospeh...

If you are looking for some print commentary, Avkash has you covered.

The Mets apparently won last night, much to my surprise (more shocking than Italy's butt whooping of the USA national team in basketball, but that's just me). I was busy being able to watch the Pirates-Dodgers game from my hotel room. Ty Wigginton actually didn't swing at the first pitch in his first AB. Steve Finley also bunted with 0 outs and 1 runner on in the first inning in a 0-0 game. He was fined by DePo after the game (I can't find a link to confirm that though).

Bad Trachsel vs. Doug Davis tonight, which means one thing...


Barry here again:

Well Bob Murphy passed away yesterday. It’s a shame. It’s definitely a part of all Mets fans that died, even if you weren’t his biggest fan. He is Mr. Met. What’s great about baseball is that no names like Mario Diaz can be immortalized by a hall of fame broadcaster. I’m sure Mario is honored to be the subject of one of his most famous calls in history.

What are your best Bob Murphy memories?

Maybe this will make you feel better about trading Kazmir. It’s old but relevant. So I lied about not talking about the trade.

So what happens to Jae Weong Seo now? I was very high on him. I have to admit I was wrong about him. But it looks like now he’s hit a dead end in the Mets organization. I wonder if he could pass through waivers. The Mets can use a major league ready hitter, can any team use a major league ready Seo?

Is there any reason Gerald Williams is still on the Mets? I guess it serves no purpose to bring up a younger player and sit him on the bench.

I’ve given up on waiting for the next superstar to break in with the Mets. I hope it’s Wright. All indications are that he’s finally the next stud. Let me set my standards lower. Who is our next Benny Agbaynai and Ty Wigginton? What do I mean?

These guys were nothing to speak of as prospects. Wigginton was considered a utility guy and Benny was a replacement player. Wigginton, did more than you would expect from a projected utility man who starts every day. He didn’t stink. In fact, his hot last two months will probably hide the fact that he was nothing special. But for what it’s worth, he was rare as a home grown position player who actually stuck around for a bit.

Benny Agbayani was the last home-grown position player to have a tremendous season. This guy was so incredibly underrated. 1999 was a tremendous rookie season. In 2000, it really was Piazza, Edgardo, and Benny as the big 3.

So who is the next unheralded position player to make a contribution? Single A is too low down on the list. Looking at AAA, it’s pretty obvious the Mets don’t like guys who can get on base.

The problem with the Mets is that they can use a corner OFer or 1B. Their best OFers are all these guys whose main asset is the stolen base. With Matsui and Reyes, the need would need some power. Jeremy has already demonstrated that Craig Brazell is better trade bait than a 1B man. The best catcher remaining in the upper levels is Mike Jacobs who is out for the season.

So who is the best unheralded player? I’ve read about this David Bacani guy from someone who saw him play. He’s one of those under-talented guys who plays hard and exceeds expectations. He’ll never be a star but he can contribute. Before his promotion to Norfolk he was 329/.414/.500 in only 158 ABs. The problem….. he plays second base. He also doesn’t have much power. His career stats are nothing impressive other than a good BB/K Hopefully Jeremy doesn’t cringe when I’m advocating David Bacani. My point is, he’s already 25, he’s playing reasonably well, and would be entering the majors late just like Wiggy and Benny. We hear a lot about our 'real' prospects. Are there any minor league sleepers? Who am I missing? Who is your sleeper?

On a more positive note. Aaron Baldaris is looking mighty St Lucie. He’s 21, the same age as Wright, and is hitting .307/.386/.395. He’s a true Met, out of position at 3B. The best chance of him making the majors with the Mets is as a 2B if Matsui leaves after three years.

Looking forward to Jeremy's return tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Barry here. Jeremy’s been on a roll lately. He didn’t need any help from these trades recently but he got some. Definite blog fodder. Jeremy will be returning on Thursday, and I’m going to try to be more interesting than a blank space.

They've changed some of the buttons here since the last time I've posted. Including the cool blockquote. It didn't work for me, I have to get to work so I apologize for the lack of formatting. Also these trades have sucked a little of the Mets passion and creativity out of me.

Let me just say this is the most upset I’ve been since the Mets traded Len Dykstra. I was looking forward to a rebirth of the franchise with Kazmir being the stud pitcher. The rational side of me understands that this trade can work out well for the Mets. Prospects rarely pan out like we think. It’s the sentimental part of it that really is bugging me. While I haven’t read every forum or every blog, I’m going to attempt to give perspective without repeating too many people.

I think the Mets organization has been too arrogant for its own good recently.

Hidalgo’s been great. But when the Mets traded for him, they said their coaches noticed something and can fix him really fast. I said at the time, that’s a pretty bold statement for a team that hasn’t had a good approach to hitting in years. Now Rick Peterson can ‘fix’ Zambrano in 10 minutes. This is the same Peterson who was not able to fix Seo, Ginter, Yates, or any other of our struggling pitchers in 10 minutes. I guess they have much more significant problems. Think about it… of any pitcher who started off struggling this year…. Have any of them recovered? I guess Tampa Bay’s pitching coach must be an idiot because he can’t fix a 10 minute problem.

I can see Tampa Bay being a rival with the Yankees in a matter of a few years.

Now some positives.

If you want an emotional reason to like the trades? Kris Benson seems like a character. Browse it, it’s cool. It doesn’t even cover his publicized exploits with his model wife. His charity Benson’s Battalion seems classy.

I for one am not impressed with Jim Duquette’s trade deadline moves. Forget about not getting value for Kazmir. Last year he had three of the biggest chips in the game to trade. All he got in return was Victor Diaz, SEVEN relief pitchers, and a guy who should be the Joe McEwing of AAA. Several of these players are no longer in the organization and Jose Diaz *helped* us get Zambrano.

He’s essentially traded Burnitz, Benitez, Alomar, Wiggy, Kazmir, Peterson, and Huber for Victor Diaz, Royce Ring, Kris Benson, Victor Zambrano. Logic tells me that at most, two of these 4 names will make a significant impact on the Mets.

Zambrano must be doing something right. I don’t like using Wins and Losses as a tool to evaluate a pitcher. A lot of it has to do with run support and team. Well when you compare him to other pitchers on his own team, at least you remove one of those flaws.

From 2001-2004 all other Devil Ray pitchers are 193-332.
Victor Zambrano for that same team is 35-27.

I promise in the next blog, I will not talk about the trades and bring up several different points.

Anyway, do you agree that the belief that they can turn players around like that is too arrogant for the Mets own good? Also, which are the trades that have made you the most upset as a Met fan?

Monday, August 02, 2004
The Braves crushed the Mets hopes this weekend, making them look like fools (read: the trades) in the process.

The Braves are going to win the division again. The streak will continue (though the Expos would have won in '94).

The Mets will... who knows and I don't feel like speculating on it now.

But I have a question, concerning the Braves...

Since they are the Mets most hated rival (at least for me), is it OK that my favorite 2B (Mark Lemke) and my favorite pitcher (Greg Maddux) that I've ever seen come from the Braves?

As for me, I'll be looking at colleges the next two days in Pennsylvania. But that doesn't mean there will be no baseball writing on this site. Barry is going to fill both Tuesday and Wednesday. Enjoy.

One more post on the trades. I think.

Gleeman covers all the big trades in baseball this weekend at THT. Here's a hint on how he feels about the Mets...
Just to show that I'm not biased against the Mets, let me say that I think this deal was merely a bad one for them, as opposed to the horrendous deal they made with the Devil Rays.
Go find out which trade is which.

The other article at THT is Studes look into this past weekend for Mets fans.
Let's step back and talk about this a bit more dispassionately. You know Elizabeth Kubler Ross's five stages of grief? (I told you I was once a social worker) Denial and isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance --the five stages a person typically experiences when dealing with a terrible loss. In a baseball sense, they describe what happened to me this weekend.
It's a great read for any Met fan.

Avkash is around with 5 sobering points for Mets fans. My personal favorite is this...
Andy Marte has a .300 ISO in Double-A this year. Seriously folks, the Braves are going to be in first place F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
Not to mention Jose Capellan, who had a 2.50 ERA in 50.1 IP while giving up 1 HR and having a 53/19 K/BB ratio in AA. He also throws 97 MPH. He was promoted to Triple-A a little over a week ago.

Avkash also points out Scott Kazmir's debut and Matt has that fully covered.

I'll be back later with some thoughts on this weekend's disaster on the playing field...

Sunday, August 01, 2004
Kaley, as always, is the Voice of Reason. I'm not quite agreeing, but it might calm you down more if you read it.

Matt covers the Mets new disease of Swiggintonitis, which combined with Kris Benson's start turned into a predictable crappy night for the Mets last night.

Winners? That's what Jayson Stark tells us...
But this is also a guy who throws 96 miles an hour and was holding opposing hitters to a .230 batting average. So he's eminently salvageable. In fact, Peterson reportedly told the Mets he could get Zambrano straightened out "in 10 minutes." And if he's right, that Mets rotation just got very dangerous.

Peterson is also the big reason Benson immediately told the Mets he wants to sign and stick around. Benson and Tom Glavine share the same agent (Greg Clifton). So Benson is well aware of what the pitching coach did for Glavine this year.

Obviously, Benson's 43-49 lifetime record doesn't make you think, say, Tom Seaver. But scouts who have been following Benson say he's cleaned up his delivery, figured out how to pitch and made himself a far more attractive commodity than the numbers on his baseball card might suggest.
Because we are sure Zambrano's makeup is perfect (they seem like fiery guys)? Because we are sure he will listen? Because Benson has never been more than an average pitcher...?

Then the prospects...
Peterson was described by one scouting director as "a No. 5 starter" and by another as "a No. 4, at best." The same scouting directors questioned Huber's instincts and projected him as no better than a backup catcher in the big leagues.

So it's Kazmir who will ultimately determine the wisdom of these deals. And one scouting director called him "the best prospect traded by anyone this year."

But two other scouting directors we surveyed had their doubts. Both think he'll wind up as a relief pitcher. And, given his size (6-feet, 170 pounds), he'll draw comparisons to Billy Wagner -- not necessarily for the better.

Wagner, said one scouting director, "is much stronger physically than Kazmir. So to me, the best he'll be is a poor man's Billy Wagner."
Who are these scouting directors?

Peterson has to at least be a 3, the same as Benson. Backup catcher? If he sticks at catcher, his bat will be too good. Hear of OBP?

This relief pitcher bit gets thrown around with Kazmir a lot and I just don't buy it. And anyway, a poor man's Billy Wagner doesn't sound THAT bad. And that's if he doesn't start.

Plus, look at the emphasis I added. We got a 29 year old project with elbow tendonitis for the best prospect traded this year. Wow.

Then again, Stark thinks the Dodgers are the biggest losers...

For more perspective, here is Peter Abraham's column, with some perspective from the Mets brass...
Of the prospects lost, only Kazmir is significant, and Rick Peterson is convinced his across-the-body delivery will lead to elbow problems.

Class A right-hander Yusmeiro Petit has passed Matt Peterson on the prospect list, and for all his potential, Huber hit only .271 in Class AA this season.
Wait... you got a 20 year old fireballer... great stuff and a mechanical flaw... you can't try to fix that? That's right, Kazmir has a "bad attitude". I guess Zambrano always scores a ten in that catergory.

And for Peterson, that is fair, but he was the most advanced pitching prospect and even him I'm not up in arms over. It's combined with the other players when he becomes bad.

And .271 in AA. Batting average... yet we don't mention his .400 OBP.

I'm sorry, I said no downtrodden rants today, but these articles produced them.

But I think in some ways they are still necessary. It is August 1st, the Mets are 8 games out and I don't have a clue the direction this team is going to take the rest of the year and in the offseason. Not a clue. And, in some ways, I'm afraid to find out.

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