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 With the July 31st trading deadline fast approaching the Mets need to determine the best course of action. Read the rest of this entry »


Omar Minaya’s main focus this off-season was the bullpen.  After one-sixth of the season it has been a fantastic group, with the exception of one player.  Here I look to see if one rotten apple spoils the bunch.

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Seeing your pitcher give up walks is no fun.  But neither is constantly pitching behind in the count, forcing your hurlers to come in with a hittable pitch to avoid a walk.  Here I break down how important throwing strikes is by examining the Mets pitchers in Saturday’s game against the Phillies.

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How many relievers should a team use?  The Mets have used 17 in four games in 2009.  Good thing they got rid of the LOOGYs in the off-season.

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Many Mets fans are worried that the bullpen needs another lefty. Here I explain why Pedro Feliciano should be able to handle the load by himself.

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Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez are slated to pitch in the upcoming WBC.  Some people are worried that they will suffer a hangover from pitching in the tournament but I’m hoping they do exactly what they did in 2006.

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What do you get your favorite MLB player with an eight-figure contract?  Here I give them what they really need!

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At the All-Star break, I gave out mid-season grades for the Mets. I think enough time has passed that the disappointment of missing out on the playoffs should not affect full-season grades here in early December.

Brian Schneider – Grade C+ – It’s easy to forget now, but Schneider had a .462 SLG mark after the All-Star break. He lost a few points of OBP, but it was a worthwhile trade to add 155 points of slugging. Schneider did better than we had any right to expect but he’s nothing more than a place holder right now.

Ramon Castro – Grade C- – It was not so rosy with the other half of the catching tandem. Castro posted a .197/.254/.409 mark after the break. That’s when he was healthy enough to play. Perhaps he should have spent even more time on the DL than he actually did. Regardless, Castro was a major disappointment.

First Base
Carlos Delgado – Grade B+ – Now that was a nice comeback. Delgado’s final numbers were better than even the most optimistic people out there would have predicted. The raw numbers scream out for an “A” type grade but the first couple of months of the season count, too.

Second Base
Luis Castillo – Grade D- – His second half numbers make Castro’s look good. He posted a .170/.313/.189 line, which most major leaguers couldn’t do if they tried. It was a brutal year for Castillo, who made the decision to hand him a four-year contract look even worse than it did at the time. Oh well, one year down and three more to go. Castillo has asked ownership for a second chance. He gets points for humility but they should still put Daniel Murphy at second next season on Opening Day.

Damion Easley – Grade D+ – Circumstances forced Damion Easley to get too many at-bats in 2008. This grade is as much of a reflection on Omar Minaya, Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel for creating a situation where 38-year old Easley needed to have 316 at-bats as it is on the player himself

Third Base
David Wright – Grade A – Too much has been made over a few at-bats in the final week of the season where Wright tried to win games by himself. Can you blame him after he watched his team self-destruct for the second straight year despite his own fantastic hitting?

Jose Reyes – Grade B+ – If Reyes had played as well in April and September as he did the other four months of the season, the Mets would have been in business. But it’s hard to overlook that he put up a 118 OPS+ from a shortstop. He deserved an “A” type grade for his hitting but a poor defensive season drops this into the “B” range..

Carlos Beltran – Grade A- – Played great baseball in August and September and showed a lot of guts playing hurt down the stretch. His lack of power in the first half of the season is the only thing that kept this from being a full “A”.

Ryan Church – Grade C- – Another player who hit like Castro in the second half. Church showed a lot of promise when healthy but I can’t shake the feeling that injuries may have robbed him from his career year.

Endy Chavez – Grade D+ – Clearly, Endy is a player who is best known for his glove. Still it seems insane that he had just two RBIs in 74 plate appearances after the All-Star break last year. I think he’s a good guy to have on a team but it just wasn’t a super year for Chavez.

Fernando Tatis – Grade B- – Did Tatis resurrect his career in 2008 or is he just the latest veteran to parlay a hot streak into too many at-bats the following year? While that is a relevant question going forward, this is supposed to reflect what the player has already done. And Tatis was extremely effective last year.

Daniel Murphy – Grade B – It’s fantastic for a rookie to post a 129 OPS+ in his first exposure to major league pitching. The fact that Murphy did it while playing a brand new position makes it even that much more special. I’m a big fan of Murphy – the only way I could like him more is if he walked into Manuel’s office and told him to make him the starting second baseman in 2009. But having said that, I just can’t give him a grade equal to that of Delgado’s, who simply had a better year.

Nick Evans – Grade C+ – Did great versus LHP but unfortunately got 40 plate appearances against righties where he posted a .135/.150/.189 line. The progress that Evans made this year was commendable. I still think he needs the better part of a year at Triple-A to become more than a platoon player.

Starting Pitching
Johan Santana – Grade A+ – Could not possibly have pitched any better in the second half than he did when everything was on the line. Santana went 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA after the All-Star break, including a complete-game shutout in Game 161 with the season on the line and pitching on three days rest. The bullpen blew seven leads for Santana, which cost him a shot at the Cy Young Award. I’ll try to make it up to him with this grade.

Mike Pelfrey – Grade B+ – September was not kind to Pelfrey after he pitched lights out the previous three months. But in his three losses the final month, Pelfrey pitched 20 innings and allowed six runs. It took awhile for Pelfrey to arrive in the majors but the future looks extremely bright, especially if he can rediscover the strikeout rates from his minor league days.

John Maine – Grade C – Things might have been different with a healthy Maine down the stretch but the fact is that he had a 4.83 ERA after the All-Star break. Undoubtedly, his performance suffered due to the bone spur but results are results. Here’s hoping Maine is full recovered from surgery and ready to being Spring Training on time this season.

Oliver Perez – Grade C – One of many games I’d like to have back from 2008 is Perez’ outing against the Cubs on September 24th. He had great stuff, although he was a little wild (what a surprise) and Manuel gave him an early hook. I’d like to see Ollie back with the Mets if the two sides can work it out. Then we just have to hope Manuel shows a little more patience with him.

Pedro Martinez – Grade D – It is very sad to think that Pedro’s career with the Mets is going to end with such a whimper. After he pitched so well in limited duty in 2007, Martinez was just terrible in 2008. The first inning did him in. He allowed 23 runs in 20 games in the opening frame, thanks in part to a .382 BABIP. The fanboy in me says it’s just bad luck and that whoever ends up signing Martinez on an incentive-laden deal will get a quality pitcher.

Relief Pitchers
Billy Wagner – Grade B – The raw numbers are great. The only two problems with Wagner were the number of blown saves (7) and his season-ending injury. The temptation is to inflate Wagner’s grade based on what happened after he left. But how can you go overboard on a guy who pitched 47 innings?

Aaron Heilman – Grade D- – It’s bad enough to overuse a pitcher, like both Randolph and Manuel did with Heilman. But then we find out that he pitched a good part of the year with an injured left knee. His down season starts making more sense. But just because I understand it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Heilman could not handle being the closer and his raw numbers were just plain bad.

Duaner Sanchez – Grade D+ – Manuel had absolutely no confidence in Sanchez and it’s hard to argue with that as he posted a 6.00 ERA after the All-Star break. If only we could go back in time and have Sanchez stay in his hotel room and not ride in that taxicab things would have been a lot different the past few seasons.

Joe Smith – Grade B- – Careful use of Smith made him one of the club’s most effective relievers. Unfortunately, Smith can’t face a lefty batter in a key situation. Lefthanders batted .320/.443/.460 versus Smith in 61 plate appearances. There’s value in being tough on righty batters but it’s limited.

Scott Schoeneweis – Grade C – And on the other side of things we have Scott Schoeneweis (SS). It’s not his fault that his managers consistently use him versus righties in key situations. His line without the platoon advantage is even worse than Smith’s. Righties batted .333/.423/.532 in 130 plate appearances. He could easily move up a grade or more if his managers would take him out of the game once anyone, even the batboy, stepped in on the right side of the batter’s box.

Pedro Feliciano – Grade D – He picked a bad time to stop sniffing glue. Or, in this case, getting righy batters out like he had done previously in his career. Feliciano’s numbers against righties were even worse than SS so in case any children are reading I won’t post them. He was still better than Heilman.


What Went Right – Manuel was an improvement over Randolph… Young players Nick Evans and Daniel Murphy got playing time they would not have received with the previous manager and proved they could be valuable pieces of a playoff team… The offense with Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Delgado was better than expected

What Went Wrong – Another collapse by the bullpen… Manuel’s quick hooks at the end of the year with Oliver Perez… Manuel letting Schoeneweis pitch to a righty batter with the season on the line… The team’s overall failure with the bases loaded… Injuries in the second half to Tatis, Maine and Wagner.

What’s to Come – The Mets have to replace free agents Perez and Martinez in the starting rotation and make at least one major bullpen move… A power hitting corner outfielder would be nice, too… Can the club carry both Castillo and Schneider in the every day lineup?

Prediction – They trade for JJ Putz, re-sign Perez and add free agent pitcher Jon Garland.

Note – this is a column I wrote at the All-Star break. I’m posting this as a teaser for my full-season grades, which I will post later today.

It’s the All-Star break, a perfect time to hand out mid-season report cards for everyone’s favorite team, the New York Mets.

Brian Schneider – Grade C – Schneider has been pretty much what we expected to get. He’s been a defensive upgrade from old philandering, steroid-using pal Paul Lo Duca and he hasn’t run his mouth like his predecessor. He’s not much at the plate, but a .345 on-base percentage from a guy in the lineup for his defense is more than acceptable.

Ramon Castro – Grade C+ – While Schneider sports an ugly 77 OPS+, Castro has a robust 121 mark in the category. Injuries and general incompetence by former manager Willie Randolph have limited Castro to just 25 games and 77 at-bats so far, but new manager Jerry Manuel has given him 11 starts since taking over in the third week of June.

First Base
Carlos Delgado – Grade C+ – Delgado is posting a very similar line to what he did last year when he was considered a disappointment. But the fact that he has rebounded to post a .248/.328/.455 line after hitting under .200 in the month of April is impressive. If Delgado continues with his current numbers, he has a chance for 30 home runs and 90 RBIs which might even get the Mets to pick up his option in 2009.

Second Base
Luis Castillo – Grade C – Castillo is what he is – a decent player with no power. It’s not his fault the Mets decided to give him a four-year deal when there was no reason to go overboard to lock him up for that long. Castillo won’t embarrass you in the field, he has a nice .365 on-base percentage and he is still an excellent percentage baserunner. He’s also hurt and will battle injury problems for the rest of his contract.

Damion Easley – Grade C – Easley has filled in nicely for Castillo and there are rumors he may have earned additional playing time even once Castillo comes back. Easley is batting .354 in his last 96 at-bats. In the field, he does a nice job turning the DP but he doesn’t get to many balls. He’s a nice guy to have on the bench but it’s somewhat disconcerting that the 38-year old is the team’s top reserve.

Third Base
David Wright – Grade A- – Wright has not repeated last year’s monster numbers but he has been the team’s most reliable player from Opening Day. With 24 doubles and 70 RBIs in mid July, Wright has a shot at establishing all-time franchise marks in both categories. Mike Piazza holds the RBI mark with 124 while Bernard Gilkey tops the doubles leader board with 44.

Jose Reyes – Grade A- – After getting off to a dismal start to the season, Jose Reyes has been one of the top players in baseball the past two and a half months, although no one in the mainstream media recognizes it. Since the beginning of May, Reyes is batting .323 with 54 runs scored in 67 games. He’s also posted 33 extra-base hits in 294 at-bats and has driven in 33 runs from the leadoff spot in that time span. The only thing dragging down his grade has been an unusually poor defensive season.

Carlos Beltran – Grade B+ – Poor Carlos Beltran. He makes everything look so easy that everyone expects the world out of him. And then he delivers, power, steals and Gold Glove defense and we’re upset because he’s only hitting for a .268 average. I don’t mind the average but I would like to see the slugging mark top .500 to get him an “A” grade.

Ryan Church – Grade B- – Church has battled concussion problems since Spring Training and is currently on the disabled list yet his 51 starts are the second-most by any Mets outfielder this year. Church has been a revelation, enjoying a fine offensive season (.307/.370/.512) along with being a top-notch defender in right field. But it’s hard to give him a higher grade than this when he’s missed nearly half the year.

Endy Chavez – Grade B- – Those who think defense is unimportant should watch Endy Chavez play. Carlos Beltran is a Gold Glove caliber defender. Endy Chavez is better. With Beltran firmly entrenched in center, Chavez gets most of his time in the outfield corners, where teams usually have their power hitters. No one will confuse Chavez with a power hitter. But if he can keep up his pace since June 1st (.301 average in 121 at-bats), he’s still a valuable asset even with no power.

Fernando Tatis – Grade C- – A recent hot streak has Tatis’ numbers looking good at the All-Star break. But he is not nearly as useful as his .292 average would indicate. He’s capable of the long ball, but has just four home runs in 120 at-bats. He has never walked much in his career and is the anti-Chavez in the field. Tatis will get chances to play while both Church and Moises Alou are sidelined. Hurry back, Ryan.

Starting Pitching
Johan Santana – Grade B+ – The numbers aside from the W-L record look fine. Not many pitchers in the game boast a 2.84 ERA or a 1.19 WHIP or 8.10 SO/9 IP. But we expected more than an 8-7 record or a team record of 10-9 in games he’s started. He’s the pitching version of Carlos Beltran so it seems only fair that he get the same grade.

Mike Pelfrey – Grade B – The light bulb has gone off in Pelfrey’s head and the results have been amazing. He’s won his last six decisions and the team has won eight of his last nine starts, with the lone loss being a 2-1 setback. He’s throwing strikes, staying out of the middle of the strike zone, changing the plane with a high fastball to complement his mid 90s sinker and occasionally throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes. It’s almost enough to make you forget that he was 2-6 with a 5.33 ERA near the end of May.

John Maine – Grade B- – Maine is tied with Santana and Pelfrey for the team lead with eight wins. He’s generally pitched well this year but has one big split. The Mets should juggle their rotation to make sure that Maine only pitches night games. He is 5-2 with a 3.52 ERA under the lights compared to 3-4 with a 4.67 ERA in the sunshine. It’s probably not significant, but fantasy owners might want to yank him from the lineup for his next day game.

Oliver Perez – Grade C – When Oliver Perez is on he has some of the best stuff in the game. The problem is you never know from start to start if you’re getting “Good Ollie” or “Bad Ollie”. In his last three starts, it’s been the former. He’s pitched 20 innings and has allowed just nine hits and two runs, with both runs coming on solo homers. But he’s also given up five or more runs seven times in 19 starts this year. Control is still an issue, as he’s third in the league with 60 walks in 103.1 innings. This grade may be a tad generous but the hope is that Perez has responded to new pitching coach Dan Warthen, who instituted a new delivery which has given great results in the few games he’s used it.

Pedro Martinez – Grade C- – Reality has finally caught up to perception. Pedro Martinez can now be accurately described as fragile. A hamstring injury sent him to the disabled list following his first start of the year and he left his last start early due to a tweaked groin. And the shoulder can go on any pitch. The good news is that Pedro is throwing harder than at any point in his career with the Mets. The question for the second half of the season is if Martinez can stay healthy long enough to harness his once pinpoint control. His 3.63 BB/9 IP and 1.61 HR/9 IP are easily the worst marks of his career.

Relief Pitchers
Billy Wagner – Grade B – Wagner got off to a great start to the season but has already blown more saves (6) than he did all of last year, including racking up a blown save in three straight appearances in mid-June. He blew his sixth save in the opening game of the key series against the Phillies and barely held on for the save the following night when he allowed two runs in a 10-9 Mets victory. But the bottom line is he has 22 saves, a 2.31 ERA, a .193 average against and has 5:1 SO/BB ratio with more strikeouts than innings pitched.

Aaron Heilman – Grade C+ – Heilman was overused early in the season and it caught up with him. After allowing four runs without retiring a batter on the last day of May, Heilman’s ERA sat at 6.67 after 26 games. But he’s been a different pitcher in the last month and a half and Mets fans no longer cringe when he comes into the game. He’s murder on RHB, who’ve hit just .198 against him in 116 at-bats. But the changeup no longer is an effective weapon against LHB, who are batting .315 with a .603 slugging mark versus Heilman.

Duaner Sanchez – Grade B- – Sanchez suffered the same May swoon that Heilman did but like his bullpen mate, has been much better the last 20 appearances. He has not been as dominating as he was in 2006, but he has been very effective and unlike Heilman he handles both righty and lefty batters.

Joe Smith – Grade B – Sanchez has been a better overall pitcher but Smith has been more effective in his role. After a dreadful season in 2007 versus lefties, the Mets basically made Smith a ROOGY, a pitcher used mainly to face righty batters. Smith has faced three times as many righties as lefties this year, compared to Heilman who has faced lefties nearly 40 percent of the time. And righties are batting just .190 in 105 at-bats against Smith this year.

Scott Schoeneweis – Grade B – And on the other side of things we have Scott Schoeneweis (SS). Last year, Willie Randolph used SS as a regular reliever and that was a big mistake. Righty batters pasted him to the tune of a .316 average while lefties hit just .204 against him. The problem was that SS faced more righties than lefties. This year the team has been more careful in his exposure to RHB and the results have been noticeable. SS has a 2.65 ERA even with RHB batting .292 with a .465 slugging mark against him.

Pedro Feliciano – Grade B- – Southpaw Feliciano had great success against righties last year but has been unable to duplicate that in 2008. Still, he has a fine ERA of 2.86 and as the fifth or sixth reliever in the pen, that’s a great number.


What’s Gone Right – The offense has been a pleasant surprise, especially with the injuries to Moises Alou and Ryan Church and the slow starts by Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes… The Mets are fifth in the league with a 4.84 runs per game mark and are just 0.06 runs away from third place… Mike Pelfrey has established himself as a Major League pitcher… The bullpen has received strong work from its top six performers… Team finished the first half with a nine-game winning streak… Mets have gone 7-3 so far against the Phillies, the team that beat them eight straight times down the stretch in 2007… Willie Randolph got fired.

What’s Gone Wrong – The Mets have an old team and injuries have hit them hard… As productive as the offense has been, it has been dreadful with the bases loaded. The Mets have a .223 average with the bases loaded and have scored just 77 runs in 120 plate appearances with the bases juiced… The infield defense has been below average… Starting pitchers have yet to throw a complete game and have averaged just 5.84 innings per appearance… Mets are just 2-7 versus the Braves and one of those wins came in the game that John Smoltz imploded.

What’s to Come – The Mets have more home games than road games in the second half and they are done with West Coast road trips… The furthest the Mets have to travel after the All-Star break is to Houston to face the last-place Astros… The Mets have 29 games against the Phillies, Marlins and Braves remaining with 18 of those at home, where they have a .609 winning percentage… 37 of their final 67 games come against teams with sub-.500 records.

Prediction – 40-27 after the break for a final record of 91-71, which is good for the NL East crown.

March 2019
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