Jeremy Heit's Blog
Saturday, August 21, 2004
 
Avkash links to Alan Schwarz's latest on Victor Zambrano. There is Keith Woolner, Nate Silver and other guys in there, but I found the most interesting quote to be Mazzone...
Longtime baseball field personnel tend to discount walk rates - "I haven't mentioned walks to pitchers in 13 years," the Atlanta Braves' pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, said - to focus on the pitcher's pure repertory.
That seems somewhat strange, though I would venture to guess he stresses throwing strikes, which would be essentially the same thing as focusing on low walk rates.

Speaking of walks, Glavine walks 6 in 5 today. Nice job Tommy. It's 8-8 in the bottom of the 9th as I type this.

 
Swinging and missing was the tune to yesterday's game, with the Mets striking out 14 times in a 7-3 loss. Gerald Williams provided the offense with a 2 run pinch hit HR, but, otherwise, rookie Noah Lowry was untouchable with his great changeup. Road Trax struggled again, giving up 4 ER (6 runs total) in 4 IP, bringing his ERA up to 6.46.

Kaz Matsui at second?
Kaz Matsui's education at second base may begin even sooner than expected.

A published report said Matsui may soon start taking grounders at second while he rehabs his ailing back in St. Lucie. Questioned about it yesterday, GM Jim Duquette's response was interesting.

"We haven't decided that yet," Duquette said. "We're waiting for him to get healthy before we decide any of that."

The most interesting part about the GM's answer, though, was he didn't deny that Matsui could eventually take grounders at second. In the past, whenever Duquette has been asked about Matsui doing any baseball activity at second, he's been adamant that nothing was happening this year.
But hold your horses, game action at second won't be happening...
One thing that appears clear is even if Matsui takes grounders at second, he won't play any games there this year. Said Duquette, "The type of injury [Joe] McEwing suffered is the exact reason why we wouldn't want Kaz or anybody else making that transition during the season."
Which is the correct move, not only injury wise, but so he can learn to play the position correctly.

From the same report above, on David Wright...
With Wilson Delgado the only shortstop, Howe had David Wright, a former high school shortstop, taking grounders there. Howe said Wright could be the emergency backup, though Duquette indicated it was likely a last resort.
This is really the last thing I want to see and with McEwing on the DL and Keppinger up, I doubt there should be much worrying about it.

Speaking of McEwing, here's the news on him...
Mets placed infielder-outfielder Joe McEwing on the 60-day disabled list with a broken fibula.

McEwing is out for the season. He finishes with a 609 OPS, his highest mark since 2001. He'll probably be back with the Mets in 2005 to finish out the two-year deal he was given in December.
Emphasis is mine. And that is sad. Here's his history with the Mets, in terms of OPS...

2000(27): .614
2001(28): .791
2002(29): .538
2003(30): .600
2004(31): .609

I think one number (hint: the one with the 7 in it) stands out. So, again, why is this guy signed through next year?

Friday, August 20, 2004
 
My brain is ready to explode. It's that simple. Two and a half days away and I figure its simple. Zambrano is going to be DLed and Fortunato is being called up. That's the news I heard. That, and that the Mets won the double dip yesterday. Not so hard, right?

I just looked at Matt's recap post. WHAT?!?

DeJean injured? Apparently its not serious... .360 OBP for Wilson? McEwing in both the one and 2 holes, Stanton pitches well and Zeile goes 0-10? And that's only some stuff...

Not to mention David Wright caps off the game with a HR. Then decidates it to Joe McEwing... HUH? That also leaves them seven out of the wild card hunt.

Then McEwing is hurt? Keppinger being called up. That makes the bench...

Keppenger, Brazell, Zeile, Phillips/Wilson, G. Williams

God, that sucks.

Apparently, Orber is being shut down for the season. Here's the bullpen...

Fortunato, Franco, Stanton, Feliciano, DeJean, Looper (who got ejected yesterday... what?), Bottalico and Wheeler.

God, that's pretty awful too. Ginter will start for Zambrano on Sunday, I guess Fortunato will be brought back down. Then again, someone could get injured by then.

Franco said the Mets could release him... and they didn't? What the hell?

Finally, Fred weighs in. No comment.

If you are looking for some fun, check out Matt's Press Release Generator. And if you missed anything the last few days, check out the sidebar, as I'm sure it will all be covered by the other Met blogs.

I'll be back tomorrow with something that is hopefully a little more informed and not as rambling.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
 
I'm off to Massachusetts until Friday tomorrow morning and I'm leaving this space blank in hopes that the "Blogger Going Away Trick" will work.

The Mets just gave up their fifth run in the bottom of the 8th. And Zambrano left with elbow problems early in the game. Goody.

 
The List:

-Decide what to do with John Franco and Mike Stanton.
-Decide what to do with Richard Hidalgo and his option.
-Decide what position Mike Piazza is playing next year.
-Decide whether Reyes/Matsui are switching or not.
-Decide whether to trade Cliff Floyd.
-Decide what to do with Joe McEwing.
-Decide whether Howe will be back
-Decide what to do with Al Leiter and his option.

Those are all the big things that have to be decided before the off-season starts. I'm assuming Kris Benson gets signed (according to plan) and the FA bullpen guys have to be decided on eventually I guess.

In my opinion, here are the answers to those (in terms of what the Mets will do):
-Franco will be bullpen coach/Stanton will be brought back.
-Hidalgo's buyout will be exercised and he'll get a new 3 year contract.
-Piazza will play catcher next year. Mets management will be too embarassed by this year's failure.
-Reyes plays SS, Matsui plays 2B.
-Cliff Floyd is traded.
-Joe McEwing is traded. If he can't be, he's let go.
-Unfortunately, yes, he will be back.
-I don't know.

Whether all of these decisions are right or wrong is a discussion for a different day. My last answer troubles me though...

I can't find it in my archives right now, but I'm sure of how I talked about how I felt Leiter would retire after this season. Now, I'm not so sure.

I'm pretty sure the Mets will decline the option. But, after that, will they bring im back? I hope not. He'll probably cost as much as this year and the Mets could definitely use the money in locking up Benson, Hidalgo, a bat and a solid LF/1B (whereever the bat doesn't come from). Plus, some bullpen help.

Leiter doesn't pitch long into games, meaning he wears out a bullpen. And eventually, the magic act has to stop. Eventually, he has to start getting hit. And most of all, he's pitching without a left arm. I sometimes doubt he wants to come back, with how much pain he must be in. As for the Mets, he is a big injury risk.

I really was pretty sure of my answer earlier in the year. It was an emphatic "NO!" when asked when Leiter would be back next year. Now, I sorta just shrug and I am sorta uncomfortable with that feeling.

Then, I remembered Avkash did a little article on Leiter and a contract for next year earlier this season. He came up with one year at five million, which with the option, is 7 million to Al next year (I'm assuming the option wasn't included, though I could be wrong).

He used a few handy-dandy charts, with stats IP/GS, TBF/GS, 7 or more innings in a start % and balls/strikes %. I decided to look at Al's numbers in those catergories this year. I'll post the 2002 and 2003 numbers for you to from Avkash's article.

IP/GS
2002: 6.19
2003: 6.02
2004: 5.76

TBF/GS
2002: 26.30
2003: 26.60
2004: 24.29

7 or more inning starts/% of starts
2002: 16/48%
2003: 7/23%
2004: 6/29%

Strikes%/Balls%
2002: 61.4%/38.6%
2003: 58.9%/41.1%
2004: 56.7%/43.3%

(I used ESPN's statistics page for Al Leiter for the first three catergories and the game logs for the fourth, meaning there could be a tiny bit of human error in there, though I doubt it. I did check my work).

He actually has had a higher percentage of 7 or more inning starts this year than last, but its still not very high. All of the other ratios have gone down again.

I really hope he retires, because if the ball is in the Mets court, I have a feeling they will mess it up.

Monday, August 16, 2004
 
Avkash has a good post today about the Mets rotation using game scores.

As I say in the comments, you get the feeling this rotation could run off a bunch of 6-7 IP starts giving up only 2-3 runs, assuming Benson is re-signed. That doesn't help the team much this year, but it shows what the Mets must do during the offseason...

Spend money on the offense (And the bullpen. They need a reliable guy to get to Looper). They need the bats to take advantage of the staff being good. If they don't, expect another mediocre year.

In other news, Shane Spencer has gotten a minor league deal with the Yankees. So, how many big HRs does he hit in the playoffs?

 
This article by Joel Sherman on Franco's usage is pretty funny. Now, if only Howe could figure this out with Mike Stanton.

Jay asks why the Mets called up Brazell when they have Victor Diaz on the farm....
However my question here is that if if you have a choice between bringing up two similar players, one who has played 2B-OF and one who is almost strictly a 1B, wouldn't you bring up the "more flexible" one with both your middle infielders on the DL? How about Victor Diaz, who like Brazell has hit 20 home runs with 76 RBIs in AAA this year.

Brazell and Diaz are two sides of the same coin, both have tremendous power, strike out a ton, and have fairly poor plate discipline (although Diaz is slightly better in this regard, sporting a .330 OBP to Brazell's jaw-droppingly bad .297).
Diaz also has played strictly outfield this year after starting out as a second baseman and his defense at both postions is supposed to be fairly bad which I suppose was the deciding factor.
First off, I've heard Diaz's defense in the outfield is better than Brazell's, but I could be wrong on that.

On personal opinion, I go with Brazell because I see him as nothing more than a lefty power bat off the bench. I see as Diaz as having the potential to be more, like a starting LF or a platooning OF in LF and I see no reason for the Mets to have him up here for 15 games or so not playing everyday like he should be in Norfolk.

As for the major league club, well, they are now 6.5 out of the Giants, Pads and Cubs. All the optimism that I have left in me can be described by Kaley...
This weekend the Mets won two of three from Arizona. Last week, they won two of three from Houston. If they win two of every three from now through the end of the season, they'll finish 87-75...

...So the Mets, 6.5 games behind that trio at the top, still possess an outside chance at having some hope of possibly being able to almost be sort of in contention if they get really, really lucky and everyone else falls apart.
And they'll need it.

The rotation has been solid, which will be helpful, but to stay in it they need to survive this two week stretch. Colorado can be beat, but then the Giants, Pads and Dodgers come next on the schedule, games they need, especially the Giants and Padres.

One problem... Kaz Matsui, Jose Reyes and Mike Piazza are all on the DL. Jose Reyes might not be a big loss, as long as Danny Garcia plays second. His bat, in his short time up here, has been better than Reyes and he plays solid defense.

Mike Piazza's bat, even if it was slumping will be missed. Vance Wilson is hot, but how long can that last? Zeile and Phillips? Yuck. Eric Valent gets a chance to play some first base, which adds a decent bat to the lineup.

Kaz Matsui will be missed most. Joe McEwing and Wilson Delgado have nothing close to his bat. Wilson plays some nice defense, but Joe McEwing can be almost as bad as Matsui has been. And we all know Joe will get most of the playing time.

The next two weeks, without these players, are the key to a season with a sliver of hope left. I always shot my goal to be 89 wins before the weekend and that would require basically something around .700 ball, something that is going to be very hard to pull off with three guys, who according to Runs Created, have been slightly under 27% of the offense.

Then again, Kaley puts it best...
In other words, it's another typical season at Shea. 35 years of being a Mets fan, you learn how to grasp whatever straws are available.
I may not have thirty-five years, but I've slowly learned that lesson the last few years...

Though, this season could be a lot like 2002, where Randy Johnson also emphatically put the finishing blow on the Mets.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
 
Matt pretty much hits everything dead on in his post today.

He mentions Kaz going to the DL and Brazell being brought up. I've talked about Brazell here, in a not too flattering way, but I believe this is the right move. A first baseman who might have some power potential... its worth a shot.

I'll talk about the holes in the lineup and the optimism slowly flowing out of me tomorrow.

 
Again! Frickin' again! You gotta be kidding me...

G. Williams, LF
J. McEwing, SS
T. Zeile, 1B
R. Hidalgo, RF
M. Cameron, CF
D. Wright, 3B
J. Phillips, C
D. Garcia, 2B

Today's lineup is the same as Thursday's in the link. You know, Art, that rant the other day I did about you... I'm starting to believe it less and less. It's not Houston again today... its Randy Johnson.

But, alas, optimism lives on, at least here and on Matt's side, even if we are the only two crazy enough to think the Mets are still in it. 6.5 out of the Cubs, 5.5 out of the Pads and SF and Philly (2 out of) and Florida (1 out of) floundering around. Believe, for now.


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