Mets Moves Evaluated

Mets trade OF Angel Pagan to San Francisco for OF Andres Torres and RP Ramon Ramirez: The Mets got the upper hand of this deal, period. It’s not blatantly obvious, mind you; for all I know, Pagan will be worth 6 WAR season next year, while Kirk Nieuwenhuis will displace Torres as the starting center fielder by Memorial Day, and the Mets will trade Tores for cash considerations in August.

But on paper, this looks like a good deal. Swapping Pagan for Torres is more-or-less a lateral move, and on top of that, the Mets get a very good reliever in Ramon Ramirez.

Here’s some more extensive analysis on the deal:

Pagan: After posting an excellent 5.5 WAR season in 2010, Pagan hit just .262/.322/.372 and was worth just 0.9 WAR in 2011. His OPS. fell by over 70 points from 2010 to 2011 (.765 to to .694). His defensive decline, however, was even more precipitous, at least according to UZR. After supposedly saving 15.4 runs while splitting time between left, right, and center in 2010, Pagan cost the Mets -14.3 runs as their everyday center fielder in 2011. He also missed over a month’s worth of time in June with a stress fracture in his rib, and has quite a lengthy injury history.

Torres: Torres had an even better 2010 than Pagan. He was worth 6.8 WAR, tying for the 8th highest total in baseball with a guy named Jose Bautista. Like Pagan, he played every outfield position in 2010, saving 22 runs on defense, while providing excellent value at the plate (.268/.343/.479).

Torres was more valuable in 2011 than Pagan, totaling 2.1 WAR despite playing in 11 less games. While Torres offense steeply declined in 2011 (.221/.312/.330), he maintained his value defensively as the Giants everyday center fielder, saving 9.4 WAR. The injury bug also bit Torres in 2011, as he missed over 40 games with lower leg problems.

Ramirez: The 30 year-old Ramirez has bounced between Colorado, Kansas City, Boston, and San Fran the past four seasons, but he’s been solid everywhere he’s been, and 2011 was his best season yet: he posted a 2.62 ERA, with a 8.65 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, while also keeping the ball in the park (0.39 HR/9), with a 50% GB rate. While unspectacular, Ramirez does everything well; he misses bats, keeps the ball on the ground, and keeps his free passes in line.

Mets sign RP Jon Rauch to one year deal for $3.5 million, with a  $3.75 mil. club option and $250,000 buyout:

Out of the three moves, I’m most skeptical about the Rauch signing. Rauch’s strikeout rate has declined the past two seasons, he’s a flyball-happy pitcher (which may be a problem at Citi Field next year given the altered dimensions), and his velocity was also down a bit in 2011. He posted a 4.85 ERA  and a 5.26 FIP with the Blue Jays last season. My guess is that Alderson and co. are banking on Rauch’s numbers improving by getting out of the AL East. He was very reliable for the Twins in 2010. At $3.5 million, this signing might work out fine for the Mets, although I wonder if there were cheaper alternatives available.

Mets sign Frank Francisco for 2 years, $12 million: Francisco’s probably the front runner for the closing  job next season. He throws hard, racks up the Ks, and like Rauch, does tend to allow his fair share of homers. I think the Mets get fair value out of Francisco.

Between Francisco, Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta, Ramirez, Rauch, and Tim Byrdak, the Mets have the makings of a pretty solid bullpen. Perhaps they’ll dangle Bobby Parnell this winter? If anything, I’m assuming they’ll be less interested in relievers in this year’s rule five draft.

While I generally scoff at the notion of long-term, expensive contracts for relievers, I can’t help but wonder: Given the softening closer’s market, instead of signing Francisco and Rauch for a combined $10 million dollars next season, wouldn’t the Mets have been better off simply signing Ryan Madson for three years, $30 million to close?


Matt is a high school student in New Jersey and avid Mets fan. He occasionally updates his blog at:
  1. walt kovacs December 7, 2011 at 4:50 am
    to be specific about torres’ injury, he severely strained his achilles, which affected his swing and his running ability

    he also suffers from an extreme form of adhd, which has been controlled with medication, but went out of control last season, due to his offensive woes and the double whammy of two shows being done about him and the team (showtime series and a doc)

    messed up his sleep pattern, messed with his workout regimen…totally lost focus in many games….everyone could see that he was visibly distracted many times on the field

    one thing that wasnt affected was his work ethic and his positive attitude…the guy may be the nicest player in the mlb. i predict that he will quickly become a met fan fav

    • LongTimeFan December 7, 2011 at 6:28 am
      You’re indeed correct, Torres is very impressive person., who, by the way, credits Carlos Beltran for helping him turn his career around years before they were big league teammates.

      Even angry and bitter Mets fans might actually take to this humble, well spoken human being.

  2. mic December 7, 2011 at 5:15 am
    Lost in this analysis is that Pagan was MOST adept at leadoff. Out of the leadoff spot he suffered mentally and in the batters box. obviously he is not Jose reyes nonetheless. But having lost BOTH leadoff men who DOES leadoff? Torres?
    • Mike B December 7, 2011 at 8:35 am
      Mic you are correct, Pagan was only real choice at leadoff, Torres can leadoff but not even sure if he will land the starting job.

      But I am just so happy to see Pagan go, I could not take his mental mistakes, bad baseruning, missing cut offs it was really to much to take.

      Rauch Ramirez and Francisco couldnt hurt, Mets just went from 69 wins to like at least 73. Good News

    • Mike B December 7, 2011 at 8:38 am
      But the biggest news yesterday was Hanley doesnt want to leave SS. I can only hope we are watching Carl Crawford part Duex. It is hard to root against Jose especially since he didnt really have a choice in leaving but got to do it anyway.
  3. LongTimeFan December 7, 2011 at 6:22 am
    Who’s to say Torres isn’t Mets 4th outfielder and that they may have other plans for leadoff perhaps obtained via trade, free agent signing, or perhaps Rule 5? Juan Pierre? Endy Chavez?
  4. Walnutz15 December 7, 2011 at 9:24 am
    Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez & Andres Torres:

    I think this will quickly become 100% about Ramirez.

    Andres Torres is an “upgrade” on Angel Pagan in the IQ department, but not much else. Hopefully, he shakes the injury bug – otherwise, we’ll be seeing someone else in CF all together.

    In addition to the bum Achilles, and as has been stated above already, he’s had to overcome bouts with ADHD – which has made him mess with mechanics A LOT, and he becomes easily distracted; which might not play very well in NY….then again, the park might just be empty (LOL).

    He’s really likeable, though – and I genuinely enjoyed watching some of his segments during “The Franchise” on Showtime. He tried working with Beltran on his swing, from the second Beltran hit the cages in SF.

    I’ll be rooting for him, and hope things work out.

    Good “change of scenery deal”, I guess……that will solidify the Met pen, more than it will the top of their lineup. I like that Ramirez is coming this way, otherwise – Torres doesn’t do all that much for me as a player.

    I’m satisfied, though – in that they’ve turned the page on Pagan. Similar to how I view Daniel Murphy’s situation, I don’t think I could’ve put up with another year of Pagan firing the ball back in to “no man’s land” on cut-offs.

    Jon Rauch signs for $3.5MM:

    Wish our coaching staff would smarten up, and just say that they’ll be evaluating things during ST — in lieu of making definitive statements like “Rauch will handle the 8th inning” already.

    They have absolutely no way of knowing how things are going to play out…..same goes for saying that Torres “will leadoff”.

    Rauch is on the expensive side, and the only thing I can think of is – they feel he’ll improve by being taken out of the AL East. Hopefully, he grows his beard back – so Hernandez can call him “Chewbacca”, like he did when Rauch pitched for the Nats.

    Frank Francisco signs for 2-years, $12MM:

    Deal worked out to the exact price-point I would have bowed out on – for a penny more.

    As I’d discussed last week on another Met-outlet, anything more than 2-years, $12MM for him – and I’d have been out.

    Good to see them grabbing a solid option, on a reasonable deal.

    Just don’t say anything bad to him. You could have a folding chair flying back at you.

  5. Joe December 7, 2011 at 9:25 am
    Lot of hate (some deserved) of Sandy Alderson around here, but I was impressed with these moves.

    I also am a bit wary about Rauch and that seems like a good amount of money for a closer, but closers are getting big bucks this winter & there probably is a Mets surcharge for decent ones. As to Madsen, huh … so you want them to pay 2x for a long time deal on a good closer, getting one less pitcher, to a bad team?

    The Pagan move is nice — my sentiment is that the team is not going to be that good, so let’s have a team we can enjoy on the field, including people with good attitudes and good fundamentals. [Or at least one + likability; that is what Murphy brought for me last season.] A mediocre team that works like a handicap to a batting average. How about a similar upgrade for Pelfrey? A man can dream.

    The money spent here underlines the waste of some contracts. Like Bay. The amount of money the team wasted on Bay to “do something” could pay for 1/2 of some decent to good bullpen arms.

    I think Reyes’ boat sailed last year probably, leaving us to determine how things went since then. So far, the moves have been decent. A few more tweaks and ’12 might just be fairly watchable.

    • Glenn December 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm
      These are good moves not only for now but for the future. Essentially these relievers can go four ways:

      1. Pitch well and the Mets are in the hunt
      2. Pitch poorly and the Mets are in the hunt
      3. Pitch poorly and the Mets are out of it.
      4. Pitch well and the Mets are out of it.

      In the case of one, that’s great. you’re in the hunt for not a lot of money.

      In the case of two, and this is very unlikely but if it happens you get rid of them and it costs you little.

      In the case of three, once again , you lost nothing. Try again next year.

      In the case of four, which is a very likely outcome, you have some pieces teams will want at the trade deadline. There are always teams looking for bullpen arms. You package a few of them and get a prospect.

      As for Torres, he is just a place filler. If Kirk Nieuwenhuis has a spectacular spring he may force his way onto the roster. Hell, even F-Mart may try again, though I doubt.

      These are the Mets for the next two yrs, people. They will not break the bank for any player. they will not comprise flexibility. They are going to continue to make bargain signings until they become a 85 win team. Then and only then will they make a FA signing or two to push them over the edge, and edge that gets easier with the addition of a second WC in 2013. This team, even minus Reyes will score a fair amount of runs if Wright, Davis and Bay play moderately well. It all comes down to pitching. They will not have Phillies or Braves pitching but if Santana gives you 30 starts, Niese and Gee can be just a little bit better and the bullpen, that was LAST can just be middle of the League, this can be a plus .500 team. Anything to scream about? No, But moving in the right direction.

      • Mike B December 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm
        Glenn, this team won 77 games after trading there best ofensive player and there all star closer. They are going to make bargin signings until they cant get away with it anymore. They should have signed these power arms 4 or 5 years ago. All this Mets team needed was to invest a little more in the bullpen or starting rotation by we had to buy from the bargin bin every year.

        I also love how Jose said the # 1 reason he left is because the effort the Marlins made him feel good. The Mets are always the worst at courting free agents. They either overpay and the player comes for the money or they insult the player. Very classy how the Marlins showed up at 1201 with a Jersey under there jacket. Nice job.

        • Glenn December 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm
          Reyes left because the Marlins showed him the money, period. the Mets told his agent that 5yrs/80 mil with a sixth option was the best they could do. When Reyes got 6 for 106 they took it. I wanted Reyes back but those kinds of signing is what got the Mets in this position in the first place. Some of you make no sense. You call the Wilpons cheap even though they had one of the highest payrolls in the game the last five yrs. You hate Omar because he spent a lot and you hate Alderson because he won’t

          Some of you need perspective. the Mets do not need to START rebuilding, they HAVE been for the past three yrs. They have brought up Duda, Niese, Gee, Davis, Parnell, Beato, Tejada. Good nice pieces. not enough, but good young pieces. They have shed some bad contracts. Castillo Perez K-Rod. not enough but in a few yrs Bay and Santana will follow. Thet have made good trade. Beltran for Wheeler. Rebuilding takes time and it’s unfair to micromanage every single move without giving Alderson a chance to do what he can. The Mets drafting of Nimmo, a high school OF, shows you the Mets are thinking long term, not short. We cannot keep blaming Alderson for Omar’s mistakes. The 1968 Mets were a last place team before they won in 69. Not saying this team will do the same, they won’t. I am saying that improvement will not always be apparent at the major league level. the Rays were bad for a decade before they got a steady stream from the minors. People called them stupid and idiots. No one’s calling them that now. The Mets need a strong minor league system to complete yr after yr and you can’t get that overnight. you have to scout and draft and do it well for yrs. That’s what we’re looking at. Until then it makes no sense to spend 150m to finish in fourth when you can spend 90m and end up in the same place, conserve your $ for when you’re ready.

        • Mike B December 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm
          Ah glen, on Reyes, my point was sometimes you have to show these guys you appreciate them, telling his agent some chump offer was not the way to go about it.

          I don’t hate Omar just like I don’t hate sandy, letting Reyes go was not his decision. His hands were tied, as for Omar two really bad deals one was to appease Santana the other one was to keep Ollie from going to the braves. Noone thought he would be as bad as he was.

          The Wilson’s are the ones I hate and wish didn’t own the mets.

  6. Kyle Schnitzer December 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm
    I’m still shaking my head.

    The Mets get rid of K-Rod for someone who threw a chair at a fan. Great team chemistry.

    Jon Rauch was a mess last season.

    And Andres Torres is an exact clone of Pagan. I do not think WAR is the proper argument in this case because Torres had one hot month that got him a baseball card deal. At least Pagan was solid for most of 2010; disaster though last year.

    Ramon Ramierz is the only one I like a lot. Maybe he should close. He pitched lights out in Boston for a season, I believe when the Sox were in the WS. Same with the Giants last season.

    • Joe December 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm
      “The Mets get rid of K-Rod for someone who threw a chair at a fan. Great team chemistry.”

      No. They got rid of him because of salary concerns. Would have to know how FF as a whole was with his team, but “team chemistry” did not factor in much here.

      “Jon Rauch was a mess last season.”

      Move can be disputed but the Mets are in a position where they will have to take risks.

      “And Andres Torres is an exact clone of Pagan.”

      As a whole, regarding chemistry/smarts/hitting, many don’t think so. Pagan having a great year in ’10 gets old after awhile, if that is all we are relying on.

  7. Paul Festa December 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm
    As far as Madson is concerned, if they spent all the money on him, then there would be no one reliable to set him up, making him less valuable to the team. The Mets needed multiple relievers.

    Second, these moves have an extra benefit: All of these players can be traded at the deadline if the Mets are out of it. Their salaries aren’t prohibitive, and they all have value to a contending team looking to add bullpen depth.

    • Christopher Soto December 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm
      Spot on Paul,

      Francisco’s 2 yr deal is perfect because Mejia wont be back until late this season from TJ surgery and should be back in the 8th inning role in 2013 and ready to take over the CL spot from Francisco in 2014.

      Torres is valuable defensive AND clubhouse pick-up.

      Ramirez is the gem of the day as he has had a sub 3.00 ERA for 4 straight seasons and will be perfect for the 7th inning.

      Rauch is an expensive 8th inning guy but also a cheap CL replacement should anything happen to Francisco. Alderson is not a stupid man, he knows the injury bug is around this team so why not have a back up plan.

      The trio of relievers provide us with at least 12 more wins (Assuming same roster which of course is not true) than last year’s sad bullpen that blew 24!!!!! saves.

    • Glenn December 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm
      Exactly right. You sign Madson to a big deal, you’re stuck with him and closers can be found or made for a lot cheaper.
  8. Kranepool December 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm
    Christopher- 12 more wins may be a bit too optimistic, and I’m not sold on Rauch, but otherwise I agree. My full take is in the string of comments to Joe’s original post on these moes.
  9. Izzy December 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm
    Happiness…. ? Thanks to Alderson he made an awesome move to give us the worst closer in our division! Wow! We have stooped so low as to be pleased about being the worst. As for Torres/Pagan, glad to see Pagan go but a totally BS move the day you let Reyes go without even an offer you trade away Pagan who suck, for a guy who is even older and sucks about the same. Samdy Alderson won’t try to win and won’t commit to rebuilding. DISASTER having a GM who is over the hill and out of touch with today’s game.
  10. argonbunnies December 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm
    Pagan also had a great ’09, and has off the charts tools.

    Torres is a little dude who strikes out a ton.

    Betting on Torres over Pagan is essentially a statement that makeup is everything and talent doesn’t matter.

    I like Ramirez, so I’m not calling this a bad trade, but let’s not pretend than fewer brainfarts from CF won’t also come with fewer wins from CF.