Mets Worst in NL East at Every Position?

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has a message for the team’s beleaguered fan base:

We’re not that far away. The outfield is a weakness. Bullpens change year to year. But our rotation is a strength, and our infield is a strength. It wouldn’t take more than a couple of moves to contend. And we’re now in a position to make those moves. (Paraphrased from here and subsequent SNY interviews.)

Does he really believe this? And/or does he expect Mets fans to buy it?

I believe Sandy likes the rotation and the infield. But I have to wonder, what’s his definition of a “strength”? The most obvious definition in this context, it seems to me, would have to be “an advantage over the competition”. The Mets don’t play games against some theoretical standard of what a good shortstop looks like. They play games against other teams. And no matter how good a Mets player may be, that’s not any sort of competitive advantage if the other team’s guy is better.

So, how do the Mets stack up, right now, against the teams they play most often, the competitors in the NL East (that is, the Nats, Braves and Phillies)? Are the Mets better than those teams at several positions, and merely need to bridge a gap in the outfield to be on equal or better footing? Is the Mets’ position as Alderson has portrayed it?

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the reality is much less promising. If you count out the Marlins, who aren’t even pretending to try to compete, it could be argued that the Mets have the worst player in the NL East at every single position except third base.

So let’s take this investigative trip around the diamond, shall we?

CATCHER

Brian McCann is the best-hitting catcher in the league when healthy. Age 29 is a little young to believe his decline is permanent. Carlos Ruiz hits in the clutch, draws walks, defends well, and is possibly the most highly-regarded handler of pitchers in the game. Wilson Ramos has immense talent, is already above average in most respects, and has ample room to grow.

The odds are against Travis d’Arnaud ever having McCann’s bat or Ruiz’s glove, much less in his first two seasons. As for Ramos, Wilson broke in at a younger age so has a head start at the very least. Yes, d’Arnaud’s eventual upside is great, but we’re not talking about what a player might do in 3-4 years. We’re talking about Alderson’s contention that the Mets are ready to contend soon.

FIRST BASE

Adam LaRoche is durable, an excellent defender, hits homeruns and takes walks. Ryan Howard is one of the most intimidating players in the game, impacts the whole lineup, and drives in tons of runs whenever he’s healthy. He’s no longer an MVP threat, and the holes in his game are huge, but he still brings a lot to the table. Freddie Freeman just turned 23, is coming off consecutive .800 OPS seasons, and is a huge breakout candidate.

Ike Davis isn’t bad. If Freeman doesn’t improve, if Howard continues to ail and decline, if LaRoche falls back a bit from his career year in 2012, then Ike could leapfrog the pack if he takes a few steps forward. But that’s a lot of “ifs”. If you project all four players with the same degree of optimism or pessimism, it’s not hard to argue that Ike’s last in the pack for the next year or two.

SECOND BASE

Chase Utley is still one of the best players in the league when he can take the field. He may never hit .300 with 30 HRs and world class range again, but he’s still a terrific blend of power, patience, baserunning and defense. One could say the same about Danny Espinosa, if you replace the patience with a ridiculous number of strikeouts. He’ll never hit for a high average, but his other skills make him quite valuable. Then there’s Dan Uggla, a poor fielder who had a career-worst year with the bat… and still put up a better OPS than Mets second basemen.

Daniel Murphy may be better than Uggla with the glove, or he may not. He may be better than Espinosa with the bat, or he may not. He may play more games than Utley. Who knows? Although Murphy’s easily the best contact hitter of the group, it’ll take a lot of singles to make up the competition’s lead in just about every other category.

THIRD BASE

Chris Johnson is a crap shoot, and Michael Young is basically Daniel Murphy but less awkward-looking in the field. Ryan Zimmerman used to be a great defender, but now has a shoulder problem that may not go away. His bat is excellent, but usually a shade below Wright.

David Wright is clearly the best hitter of the group, and will also be the best overall player unless Zimmerman regains his defensive edge and Wright regresses back to 2011.

SHORTSTOP

Ian Desmond didn’t look great in 2011, but his 2012 was fantastic. Despite his poor control of the strike zone, it doesn’t seem quite fair to expect 25 HRs and a .511 SLG to just disappear at age 27. Speaking of age, defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons took huge strides with the bat in his age-22 season. As long as he avoids severe regression, with his glove, it’s more than enough. Then there’s our old buddy Jimmy Rollins. Rollins had a bad 2010, has lost a little speed, and has never been a great OBP guy. Still, a 20-HR 30-SB guy who makes all the plays at SS ain’t bad.

Ruben Tejada is decent at a young age, but doesn’t have the tools to project massive improvement. With only small steps forward, I don’t see him matching the overall contributions of any of the guys above.

So that’s one of the Mets’ supposed strengths. Now let’s move from the infield to the rotation…

#1 STARTER

Pick a Phillie, any Phillie. I’ll go with Cliff Lee, just due to Halladay’s poor 2012 and the fact that the Mets tend to hit Hamels. Lee’s combo of stuff, command, control, and smarts may be the best in the game (unless Halladay’s healthy). Then there’s Stephen Strasburg, who has the best stuff in the game and also doesn’t walk many. The Braves’ #1 is less inspiring. Kris Medlen can’t possibly be as good as he was last year, but his command of his change and curve still make him special.

The Mets have a guy who used to be a #1 in Johan Santana. He still has the great competitive attitude and the tricky change-up. But unless he can fool hitters at an epic rate and Medlen falls off a cliff, Johan’s easily the worst in this group.

#2 STARTER

Cole Hamels is actually an ace too. Despite being obnoxious and letting the Mets kick him around, his numbers say he’s one of the most proven elite starters in baseball, in his prime, so I won’t argue. Then there’s 2012 Cy Young contender Gio Gonzalez, who may lack ace durability and control, but would be a #1 on many teams due to his dominant stuff. The Braves again take up the rear with gritty veteran groundball machine Tim Hudson.

One would like to think that Jonathon Niese will be better than a past-his-prime Hudson one of these years, but it hasn’t happened yet.

#3 STARTER

Even if something’s wrong with Roy Halladay, he still looks pretty good slotted in third, right? Though maybe not as good as 95-mph finesse machine Jordan Zimmermann. Mike Minor has shown flashes of greatness for the Braves but it remains to be seen if he can put it all together for an extended period.

Shaun Marcum tends to be good when he’s healthy. I’d probably take him over Minor in 2013, though going forward, who knows. Matt Harvey might look more exciting in this spot, but he’s still no bet to be better than Halladay and Zimmermann in the next two years.

#4 and #5 STARTERS

This is where the Phillies fall to the back of the pack. No one’s scared of Kyle Kendrick and we don’t even know if Lannan and Cloyd belong in the majors. The Braves have an upside guy in hard-throwing Julio Teheran, and a savvy veteran in Paul Maholm, but both have had their problems. As for the Nationals, Detwiler walks a fine line of too few Ks, and Haren’s back problems scared off his former team.

Harvey and Gee have question marks, but I think they’ve got a chance to be the best of this bunch. Maholm has a more established track record of poor pitching than Gee, and Teheran’s minor league success hasn’t translated as quickly as Harvey’s. That said, if Haren’s healthy, the Mets are shooting for second place.

So that’s it for the Mets’ supposed strengths. “Infield and rotation” really translates to “third base, plus the back of the rotation, but only if the front of the rotation is Santana, Niese and Marcum matching up against the league’s elite”. If Santana goes down, then our 4-5 becomes Gee-Hefner, and then that strength disappears too.

BULLPEN

What about the bullpen? The Mets are on even footing there, because relievers are unpredictable, right? Well, although that may be true in general, everybody knows there are some relievers who are elite year after year. Those are the handful of guys who get paid three times as much as everyone else. But the poor Mets couldn’t have the bad luck to match up against any of those rare talents, could they?

CLOSER

Oh, wait. Rafael Soriano and Jonathan Papelbon are two of those top-dollar closers who dominate every year. At least the Braves don’t have some long-time proven guy. All they’ve got is the consensus best reliever in the sport, Craig “whiffed 116 of 231 batters faced” Kimbrel.

Bobby Parnell and Frank Francisco might be qualified to fetch water for those guys.

SET-UP MAN

Hey, Tyler Clippard and Mike Adams are two more of those relievers who pitch well every year. If Alderson hadn’t told me that bullpens were a crapshoot, I might think this was, like, a strategy or something. At least the Braves couldn’t possibly grow two elite guys from within. Jonny Venters only throws a lefty sinker that comes in at 95 mph and drops two feet.

Dear mystery Met, it’s time for you to have that fluky career year! Brandon Lyon already did that in 2012 so he might not be eligible.

Is that it? Is that where the Mets stand?

I feel like something is missing…

Oh yes, the part of the team Alderson admits is a problem. The whipping boy outfield. I’ll make this short and sweet.

LEFT FIELD

Bryce Harper and Justin Upton look pretty good, but Duda may have a chance to outperform Delmon Young, Darin Ruf, and whoever else the Phillies throw out there.

CENTER FIELD

Denard Span and Ben Revere are elite defenders who get on base just enough to use their speed. B.J. Upton is a chronic underachiever but will still hit some homers and steal some bases while tracking down most fly balls. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (or Collin Cowgill, or Matt Den Dekker — take your pick) may or may not be a major leaguer.

RIGHT FIELD

Jason Heyward is excellent, Jayson Werth is good, and Domonic Brown and John Mayberry may or may not form a more effective platoon than Mike Baxter and Byrd/Brown/Cowgill.

In summation:

The Mets trail two or three teams in their own division at every key position on the roster except the one filled by David Wright. What exactly is it that the Mets are “not that far away” from? Because it sure isn’t competing for first or second place in the NL East.

Was I too hard on the Mets in any of these comparisons? Sound off in the comments!

David Berg has been following the Mets since 1990, and counts himself as a "die hard fan" -- the agonies have been numerous and arduous, but he's still watching every game he can, determined to "earn" the satisfaction when the Mets eventually win it all. In his non-spare time, David is a designer of graphics, web sites, and games. See his work at Shrike Design
  1. meticated March 6, 2013 at 5:52 am
    standing on the ledge…black pill grinding between back teeth…and just a minute ago I was encouraged by spring training and the joy of baseball and la tabla Rosa…well, at least I had the no hitter…
    • jason bay March 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm
      It takes some time to build a Major League team. Look at the one position we are ahead of our competitors at, 3B. That player was acquired by the Organization in 2001 and none of the players on any team were acquired by their organization when Alderson was the GM here.

      He didn’t have a shot at getting any of them and he had little to trade, had to slash payroll by 33% and inherited numerous albatross contracts and a weak farm system.

      This is nothing less than the price paid for cheaping out in the draft year after year after year.

      • jason bay March 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm
        The Mets draft budget from 2005-2010 was tied for 27th in the Majors but these are the the top 25 picks (by signing bonus) the Mets did spend the money they had on which illustrates how long it takes to build up a farm system.

        The 25 most expensive draft picks are the prospects an organization expects to get superior performance from or be attractive to other organizations in trades.

        The Mets can expect to get that performance from Harvey and Davis but it is very questionable whether any of the other draftees who received a top 25 signing bonus will ever provide more than average play in the Majors and time is not on most of their sides.

        I expect that any real true superior performance will have to come from outside the system as most of our “bonus babies” are likely to be used in a support role as opposed to a starring one.

        This is a critical flaw in philosophy as the support role guys like Kirk, Lutz, Satin, Murphy, Duda, Thole, Evans ect are much more easily found and much less expensive to obtain than the Trout, McCutchen, Votto, Pedroia, McCann, Rollins, Stanton, Espinosa, Zimmerman, Austin Jackson, Heyward type. In fact many of them aren’t available at all until their approaching their date of expiration and at a hefty fee on top of it.

        Very little true upside likely to be found in the guys we did spend money on. More roll than burger.

        Pelfrey……..RHP…….3.55 M……..MLB….29….’05………MINN
        Harvey……..RHP…… 2.62 M……..MLB….24….’10………Active
        Davis………..1B….. …1.57 M……..MLB….26….’08………Active
        Havens……..SS……..1.41 M………AA……26….’08………Active
        Holt…………..RHP……1.04 M……. AAA…..26….’08………Active

        Matz…………..LHP…….895 K…….Rook….21….’09………Active
        Kunz………….RHP……720 K………MLB….26….’07………..SD
        Vineyard……LHP…….657 K…….Rook…………;07…………No
        Rodriguez…..OF…….585 K………..A-……………’08…………No
        Mulvey……….RHP,,,…585 K………MLB….28….’06……….Active
        Dotson……..LHP…….500 K……..Rook…22….’09……….Active

        Moviel……….RHP……415 K………..A+…………..’07………….No
        Smith………..RHP……410 K………MLB…29…..’06……….CLEV

        Forsythe………C……..392 K………..A+….23…..’10……….Active
        Rustich……..RHP……373 K……….A+…………..’07………….No
        Kirk Nwnhs…OF…….360 K………MLB…25….’08………..Active
        Niesen………LHP…,,,351 K………..AA………….’07…………..No
        Goeddel……RHP……350 K………..A+….24….’10…………Active
        Shields……….SS……315 K………..A+….25…..’09………..Active
        Allen………….RHP……250 K……….A+….23…..’08………..Active

        Vaughn……….OF…….240 K……….A+…..24….’10………..Active
        Ratliff………….OF…….225 K……….AA………….’10……………No
        Holdzkom….RHP…..210 K……….,A+….25….’06…………REDS
        Ceciliani…….OF…….204 K……….,A+….23….’09…………Active
        Peavey………RHP…..200 K………..AA….24….’10…………Active

        • argonbunnies March 7, 2013 at 4:33 am
          That is some great info! Thanks for posting it.

          Man, just think how differently the past few years would have gone if Pelfrey had really turned into the ace he was drafted as. I remember watching his college highlight reel and thinking he was the next Kevin Brown.

          I thought Havens was a great pick, but the injury gods simply piled on him; coulda happened to anybody.

          Brad Holt, Eddie Kunz and Kevin Mulvey — those picks were not so great. I agree that we should be drafting difference-makers, not relievers and #5 guys.

          And of course there are all the names not on that list because of draftees who weren’t signed.

          That’s an excellent point, I shouldn’t blame Alderson for the barren upper levels of the minors. And I don’t, really. I just blame him for either (a) lying to us about it, or (b) being dumb enough to believe what he’s saying.

  2. Tommy2cat March 6, 2013 at 6:45 am
    Sounds as if a Yankee fan kidnapped Joe and decided to hurl senseless insults. Completely pointless & idiotic. Blog fodder.
    • Joe Janish March 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm
      1. It wasn’t me who wrote this, it was Dave Berg.
      2. No worries, I was not kidnapped, and Dave is not a Yankee fan.
      3. Why is it pointless and idiotic? I think Dave has some good points here.
      4. This is a blog, therefore there will be fodder to stimulate conversation. It always amuses me when people “accuse” blog authors of writing headlines to entice visitors, and/or present arguments for the purpose of riling people up. In regard to the former, yes, of course we write headlines to attract people to the site — what other point is there for a headline? And what is the point of writing something that won’t be read? To the latter, yes, of course we write posts that strike a chord with people and encourage comments — to me, that is THE ENTIRE POINT OF A BLOG!

      Tommy, you have been here and participated for a long time, and I appreciate that. And you have been here long enough to know that what we try to do here is create discussion. It’s as much about the comments as it is about the post (if not more).

  3. Walnutz15 March 6, 2013 at 8:48 am
    Modified Title:

    Mets Worst in NL East at Every Position If You Eliminate The Marlins From The Division – And Not Include 3rd Base?

  4. Pj Buckley March 6, 2013 at 9:01 am
    Has Florida moved our of the East?
    • Joe Janish March 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm
      I believe they have voluntarily dropped into the International League, though I haven’t seen an official announcement.
      • Mike Kelm March 8, 2013 at 10:29 am
        The IL didn’t want them… lats I heard they were in negotiation with the Carolina League…
  5. Izzy March 6, 2013 at 9:25 am
    Ah, poor Joe…. There are some people who PT Barnum wrote about. They still believe Mr Liarson is Mr Truthson. The Mets are not the worst at every position, but they sure are far far away from what has been built elsewhere. They also have to contend with a team in Dc with a limitless budget, one in Philly with an almost limitless budget, and one in Atlanta that has proven for decades that it can compete with a limited payroll. All the Mets have is the word of the zombie Mr Liarson. Mr Liarson can throw out whatever lies he wishes to. Fewer and fewer are stiil listening. Maybe he thinks he’s still in Oakland or SD where baseball is irrelevant, just like he is making it in Queens.
    • Walnutz15 March 6, 2013 at 10:15 am
      Thnl ya might have to read who wrote the post again. It ain’t Joe.
      • Walnutz15 March 6, 2013 at 10:17 am
        think*

        And really, what GM do you feel would be given permission to conduct business as he’d like to?

        The Wilpons are the biggest problem this franchise has encountered. Harping on Alderson as “Liarson” is essentially him dong their bidding for them.

        I’m all for suggestions. Who’s your GM, Izzy?

        (And keep in mind, I have no real ties to Alderson – and don’t feel he walks on water.)

        • Walnutz15 March 6, 2013 at 10:21 am
          * doing their bidding for them

          (Damn battery-powered keyboards!!! Damn you to hell!!!)

  6. quinn March 6, 2013 at 9:31 am
    Tejada is not worse than Rollins now.. In rollins prime yes now.. no, If you look at Davis’ 2nd half he put up impressive numbers that would rival howards or freemans and I wouldnt bet to much money on Laroche repeating his carrer year. Also Murphy may look akward but he produces more than Uggla and i would personally take Murphy over Espinosa. Claiming Utley is one of the best players in the league is a bit of an exageration.
    • argonbunnies March 6, 2013 at 10:33 am
      Agreed on Ike.

      At SS, would you rather take the 33-year-old former gold glover with 61 extra-base hits, or the 22-year-old who’s not projected to ever be a gold glover, with 27 extra-base hits (include 1 HR to 23 for the old guy)? For the next two years, I think you take Rollins. The gap between the two isn’t likely to close that fast.

      As for Murphy vs Uggla, Uggla has led in HRs and RBIs every year, and SLG every year but last (and it was close). So I don’t know what you mean when you say Murphy produces more.

      Espinosa’s bat has issues, but his D has always looked excellent to me. As for Utley, well, he’s a second baseman who can hit third and play the position. I think that’s pretty special.

      • Tommy2cat March 6, 2013 at 10:57 am
        If you take Rollins & Utley out of CBP, their respective batting averages are .236 & .233. By contrast, Tejada’s H/A stats are equally impressive, .292 & 291.

        Defensively, I’ll take Tejada over Rollins today. I am not aware of any report that projects him not to be gold-glove caliber at his position. I trust my eyes.

        Today, around the horn, the Mets are better than the Phillies offensively and defensively. At the catching position, we’ll see whether d’Arnaud can grow to become Ruiz’ equal, but we can agree that he IS projected to be.

        Please bear in mind the Phillies batting totals are skewed by playing half their games in a band box. Away from CBP, their totals are quite anemic.

        • argonbunnies March 6, 2013 at 11:16 am
          I didn’t know that about Rollins and Utley’s road AVGs. That’s just 2012, right? Kind of a small sample? And don’t Rollins’ 12 road HRs count for something? And hasn’t CBP not been playing like such a bandbox the last 3 years?

          If you factor in Wright and assume the Phils’ injuries recur, then sure, the Mets might wind up with a slightly better overall infield. If the Braves’ third base options are bad enough, the Mets might be a little better than the Braves too.

          Does “maybe a little better” sound like a huge team strength, though? Especially when it hinges so much on one guy (Wright) who had a putrid 2011? And isn’t as good as the Nats regardless?

        • Joe Janish March 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm
          Yes, CBP helps Phillies hitters, and they play 81 games there, and the numbers will count. It’s not the Phillies’ fault that the Mets choose to let go players who are suited to their home park. Speaking of, this post would have less of a leg to stand on if the Mets still had R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan and/or Jose Reyes.
        • TexasGusCC March 7, 2013 at 9:43 am
          Joe, the only one of those three that I miss is Reyes; he was special. Dickey needed to be moved, he was 38 and the Mets got a very good catching prospect and very good pitching prospect for him, plus a throw in outfielder that has tools. How can you not make that trade? As for Pagan, he kept misjudging fly balls in San Francisco too, so later dude.

          As for the other three teams, I looked at Fangraphs numbers this morning. Since 2006, Ryan Howard has had anywhere from 31 HRs (2011) to 58 (2006), so he gets the nod. Despite Freeman’s potential, his glove stinks (way negative UZR) and his 23 HRs last year were his high. LaRoche has been signing one year deals for the last five years, what does that say? So, while Davis is not a proven product, he seems to be around second or third best but before Freeman for sure.

          Utley has been at .255-.270 since his last good year of 2009. When did they start testing? Espinosa is a good fielding / inconsistent hitter and Uggla has been 30+ HRs for a while, but same glove as Murphy. Put Murphy second here.

          Rollins is still the best with his 30/23, overall consistancy, very good UZR. Desmond had one good year and has a speed/power skillset for 20/20, but has a negative range rating. Tejada had held his own with the bat while having a decent glove; Simmons is hitting first by default with no power and little speed, but a good glove. Tejada is third here.

          Catcher: Ruiz, McCann, Buck, Flores/Suzuki. Buck because of his defense over Flores/Suzuki.

          Outfield: What outfield?

          Overall, the outfield makes the Mets fourth best in the division but a couple of good outfielders could make them second. The Nats (Desmond, LaRoche, Harper) need to do it again before they are considered a lock for the top spot, the Braves are solid, the Phillies are a fourth place team if not for Lee, Halladay, Hamels, and the Mets crappy outfield.

          So, overall the Mets are not the worst, but had David Berg spent as much time comparing stats as he did thinking of a catchy “New Yok Post type” headline, the approach of the reader would have been different. That may sound a bit mean, but I’m a Mets fan. Don’t mess with my team.

        • argonbunnies March 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm
          Your team? The “About the Author” blurb says “die hard Mets fan”. Surely this idea — that the people who care the most are the most distressed — is no surprise. A Yankee fan or LOLMets hater wouldn’t bother to spend so many words on the issue.

          As for stats, the article is definitely more subjective than empirical, but I don’t think your quoting a few HR numbers plus Utley’s AVG and Freeman’s UZR is any different…

          Re: Freeman, just imagine how you’d feel about him if he were a Met. Hyped prospect. Debuted and held his own at an extremely young age. Has already shown he can hit for power, hit good pitching when hot, and get some clutch hits. The sample size for UZR relevance is 3 seasons, so the bad 2012 numbers don’t mean anything, and he passes the eye test in the field. He’s about to begin his age 23 season. Come on. If the Mets had a guy like that, we’d be anointing him The Savior.

          One more point: your post didn’t mention pitching. The Mets certainly aren’t going to leapfrog the Braves with that bullpen disparity. Give us Kimbrel and then maybe we can talk. (Y’know, after we sign that free agent RF in Heyward’s class… who doesn’t exist.)

          I wish I agreed with your arguments, man, but I’m just not seein’ it. If we wanted an opportunity to quickly go from bad to the playoffs, I really think we’re in the wrong division.

  7. Dave March 6, 2013 at 9:50 am
    The one nit is Ike Davis below Ryan Howard at first base. Howard has not been an elite player in 3 years, and is a borderline awful player now. He should probably be platooned against left-handed pitching and his best position is DH.
    • Tommy2cat March 6, 2013 at 10:28 am
      Last three year totals:

      Utley: Age 34

      Ave – .264
      2b – 56
      RBI – 154

      Daniel Murphy: Age 29

      Ave. – .290
      2b – 106
      RBI 177

      *Remember – Utley hits in a band box & Murphy still trounces him in production. He moves around like “Joe” in Family Guy, and he’s not getting any younger.

      • argonbunnies March 6, 2013 at 10:54 am
        Um, dude, you included Murphy’s healthy 2009 and left out his injured 2010, while leaving out Utley’s healthy 2009 and including his injured 2011 and 2012.

        Even doing that, you had to cherry pick doubles as a stat to make Murph look good.

        As far as the wheelchair crack, Utley’s stolen 25 bases in his last 183 games. Murphy has 15 in his last 265.

        Since it may be hard to agree on which totals to compare (given their different periods of injury), how about yearly rate stats?

        Utley
        2009 .282, .397, .508, 137 OPS+
        2010 .275, .387, .445, 123 OPS+
        2011 .259, .344, .425, 110 OPS+
        2012 .256, .365, .429, 113 OPS+

        Murphy
        2009 .266, .313, .427, 96 OPS+
        2011 .320, .362, .448, 126 OPS+
        2012 .291, .332, .403, 102 OPS+

        Even adjusting for park differences, Utley’s hit better in every year but 2011.

    • Tommy2cat March 6, 2013 at 10:48 am
      As we speak, our infield of Wright, Tejada, Murphy, Davis & d’Arnaud is younger, more productive and more talented than the Phillies infield of 3b-?, Rollins, Utley, Howard & Ruiz.

      The Phillies best player is Carlos Ruiz. Wonderful offensively & defensively. Everything we hope d’Arnaud will be.

      Utley is falling apart, Rollins, Howard has MAJOR flaws in his .219 swing. If you take Utley & Rollins out of Citizens Bank Ballpark, their batting averages are, respectively, .233 & .236. Tejada? Home .292, Away .291.

      Howard generated 4 home runs out of a whopping total of 14 away from CBP. By pleasing contrast, Ike Davis hit 18 home runs away from Citi Field.

      Would you like to compare 3rd base totals?

      • Joe Janish March 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm
        I’d like to know your definition / measurement of “productive.” In no galaxy do I see d’Arnaud — who has yet to play a MLB game — more productive than Ruiz, since we have no idea what he can/will do at the big league level. Nor do I see Tejada as more productive than Rollins.

        In 2012, Rollins hit 23 HR, drove in 68, scored 102, posted a .743 OPS. Tejada hit 1 HR, drove in 25, scored 53, and posted a .685 OPS. It’s debatable who is better defensively but if there’s a difference, it’s negligible (if one wants to compare UZR, Rollins was 4.4, Tejada 1.2).

        What am I missing about the Rollins-Tejada comparison? Are you going to ride the CBP advantage again? And if so, are you suggesting that Ruben Tejada would hit 20+ homers if his home park was CBP?

        As for 3B, it’s no contest, as was stated in the post by Dave. Regarding 1B, I think it could go either way. If Howard is healthy, he’s every bit the offensive beast that Ike Davis has the potential to be. Ike is much better on D but it’s not like his defense is game-changing, Keith Hernandez-like.

  8. Dan B March 6, 2013 at 9:58 am
    As much as I believe the Mets leadership has botched it more then normal for the past few years and are still a couple years away from being serious about rebuilding, it is not fair to compare the current Mets to other current teams no matter what any Met official says. They should be only judged by whether or not the Mets are heading in the right direction starting in 2015 as it is obvious the next two years have been punted. The Mets care most about cutting costs and paying off debts and refinancing loans, as if wins and losses is a secondary issue. It might be more appropriate to compare the Mets only to the Marlins as they are both more concerned about 2016 then 2013.
    • argonbunnies March 6, 2013 at 10:16 am
      You might be right, but if you are, I’d feel like an idiot for still following the team all this time. I mean, seriously, why are we here? Check out now, check back in July 2015. I assume we’re both here because we do have some hope that things will get better sooner.
    • DaveSchneck March 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm
      Dan,
      I’m with you on most points, but I just can’t give the team or Alderson a pass until 2015, that is just nuts. It is time to start competing right now. The financial nonsense is yesterday’s news. The equation now is simple…more wins = more revenues=profitability. From here, they are not going to cost cut themselves into profitability. I hope Alderson stops worrying about his speech-writing for the beat writers the next time he comments on Santana’s status and is scouring the other teams for available OF upgradess, closer upgrades, and perhaps a SP (maybe we’ll even have to live with Chris Young if Santana or Marcum can’t cut it). They need to maximize wins in 2013, Banking on these kids is very risky business, they are no given now, in 2014, or 2015, and almost everyone has a Wheeler or d’Arnuad coming. Winning games ASAP is the best Rx for this franchise going forward.
    • DaveSchneck March 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm
      One other thought, I would be interested on seeing how the 2012 SF Giants stacked up position by position vs. the NL West competition. Posey would obviously win out at C, but I don’t know what others would. Collective pitching, defense, and good baserunning can have a huge impact.
      • Eric March 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm
        At the end of this season, Ike Davis will be the CLEAR frontrunner for top 1B in the NL East. He hit 30 homeruns in HALF a season last year, which is how he looked before the ankle injury. He’s fully healthy now, and there’s no reason not to expect huge power numbers, and an acceptable avg around .275 – .280.
  9. argonbunnies March 6, 2013 at 10:20 am
    All though the Mets aren’t literally the worst at every position, trailing 2-3 division opponents at most positions does not bode well.

    It seems like more than a few minor league promotions and free agent signings is likely to fix.

  10. Dan B March 6, 2013 at 10:31 am
    I keep watching the Mets because at the absolute worse, they still are playing MLB teams and I love baseball. At the best, there are current and future Mets that could be useful parts in an eventual championship teams. I come here to read about the Mets because I find the dialogue to be intelligent, open minded, and I will always love the Mets just like a parent will always love their child. I am old enough to see a lot of bad teams become good and good teams become bad. Baseball is for the eternal romantic who always has hope.
    • NormE March 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm
      Well said, Dan B.
  11. Mike March 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm
    Fla and 3B aside, was there some sort of realignment in MLB? Do the Mets now have to play against an all-star team of NL East rivals?

    How about comparing team vs team?

  12. Eric March 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm
    Of course they are ready to contend soon. He’s not saying that they are ready to have the best player at every position this season, nor is that an ultimate determination of success. If those best players don’t have chemistry, forget it. A true team of mediocre players stands a great chance against a collection of superstar individuals.

    So, with d’arnaud at catcher, ike at first, murphy at 2nd (with Flores behind him), tejada at ss, wright, at 3b, Niese, Harvey, Gee, and Wheeler in the rotation, parnell as closer, lyon, edgin and atchison as set up relievers, buck as the backup catcher, and a vastly improved minor league system, we are an impact CF/leadoff hitter, and right-handed corner outfielder away from contending this or next year.

    I’d say Sandy was correct. Even though on the surface, if picking from all of the NL EAST rosters, I may only choose Wright and Ike to start from the Mets, I’d still think we can contend with an addition or two.

    • Joe Janish March 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm
      “… we are an impact CF/leadoff hitter, and right-handed corner outfielder away from contending this or next year. ”

      Sounds like all the Mets needed to do was sign Michael Bourn and BJ Upton (or Ryan Ludwick).

      So, they didn’t …. why?

    • argonbunnies March 7, 2013 at 4:44 am
      I think it would be pretty cool if we could beat a more-talented Braves team by out-chemistrying them! That seems like a great thing to celebrate, but an insane thing to expect. (Although with a two-Upton handicap, ya never know.) Most of the time, it’s the more talented teams that win.

      If, as you suggest, we added a CF and RF (say Bourn and Upton) and claimed Ike was better than Freeman (I disagree), then we would only trail the #2 team in our division at C, 2B, SS, one or two rotation spots, and the entire bullpen.

      If you want to call that “contending”, your standards are lower than mine are. I don’t want a slim shot to play meaningful games in September, I want a good shot to play meaningful games in October.

  13. Dan B March 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm
    Dave, I am not giving the Mets a pass but offering a suggestion to their point of view. I find it insulting when the Mets suggest the team is a contender and asking top ticket prices. I’d feel better about them winning 95 games in 2015 if they could win 85 games in 2013. But since they have punted (most overused word this offseason but still true) 2013, the Mets seem to be comfortable winning 75 games this year.
    • DaveSchneck March 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm
      Dan,
      Ok, I get your point. Like you, as a fan and paying customer, albeit a minor paying customer, I am insulted by their continued stance, the one that ownership and the GM are putting forth. I was also reluctantly willing to be “understanding” of the financial perfect storm and the fact that it would cause the team to lose high caliber players and more games. And, like everyone else, I understand the importance of building a top notch feeder system for prospects. I can even accept trading a very likeable and top notch player like Dickey to deepen the prospect pool. What I can’t take is the wait to 2014 or 2015, because the rivals in the division, the same ones that are 20 to 25 games better than the Mets as of 2012, are getting stronger, have an excellent young core, and more talent in the pipeline. So, how exactly is Alderson going to make up the deficit? With Cowgill, Byrd, Baxter, and maybe closing games with Parnell since he did so well in 17 minimal pressure innings last Sept.? That said, I share your view 100% on why we keep watching, it describes quiet well the beauty of baseball, even NY Mets baseball.
  14. Dan B March 7, 2013 at 9:34 am
    Hey Dave, or anyone else who cares to comment, I have a scenario and a question. The Mets have a large loan (something like $450 million) come due in June of 2014. Some, including me, claim the Mets are cutting cost so to pay down the debt before refinancing. After 2013, Santana, Bay, Buck, Francisco, and Marcum come off the payroll, leaving the Mets with a payroll of about $40 million. Add raises to Wright and others, conservatively the 2015 payroll is $50 million. Do you add $45 million in free agents for a chance to contend or do you repeat this year’s offseason, pay down the debt with the savings, and free up an additional $2 to $4 million a year for the next 25 years because of lower loan payments? That is assuming the Mets roll the savings into the payroll and don’t pocket it.
    • DaveSchneck March 7, 2013 at 9:52 am
      Dan,
      IMHO, albeit with the limited financial info available in public, the Mets should have a higher payroll now. The debt is drastically overrated, as their debt to equity ratio isn’t bad due to the value of the team franchise and TV station. This is why banks have refinanced. To offset the losses, they need a better team that wins more, which will increase revenues way more that interest savings on lower debt. Not to throw away money, but to fill the holes on the team and build a deep supporting cast of 25 that can withstand some players not living up to the potential. What if Wheeler and d’Arnaud are merely average MLB players, or sustain an injury that alters their career? This is where Alderson has been a huge disappointment to me this offseason. I give him a pass the previous two due to the lack of budget from the ownership. I think his lameness this winter has and will hurt the team in 2013 and 2014.
  15. Dan B March 7, 2013 at 10:13 am
    Dave, I agree. This obsession with debt relief is Wilpon driven, not reflective of the market. Their true financial weakness is not about how high their monthly nut is, it is about how low their revenue is. And their revenue reflects 1) how bad the team is on the field and, to a lesser extent, 2) how poorly their team is run. The Yankees, in the exact same market, have a monthly nut that dwarfs the Mets but they are the poster child in professional sports for maximizing revenue and profits. People in NY will pay top dollar to watch a top team.
  16. Sidd Finch March 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm
    I think they should use Wheeler as the centerpiece in a deal to get either an elite MLB corner OF or a nearly ready top hitting prospect like Justin Profar. Trade Wheeler as main piece in deal to the Rangers, who need pitching, for Profar.

    Then try to pry Taveras away from the Cardinals, who just lost Furcal for the season, for Tejada and a couple lower level minor leaguers. In that scenario, sure the Mets lose future ace Wheeler and their starting SS but they gain the top prospect in the game to replace him and also grab an elite OF prospect. Both Profar and Taveras would then join d’Araund as midseason call-ups and vastly improve the team going forward into 2014.

    Neither trade may happen but the Mets should put an effort into both. Wheeler’s a stud, and I wouldn’t trade him unless you get equal or more value, but I don’t think he should be looked at as untouchable.

  17. Joe March 8, 2013 at 1:12 am
    “Ike Davis isn’t bad.”

    Things like this make me so very tired.

    • Joe March 8, 2013 at 1:17 am
      Oh and the answer to the title appears to be “no.”

      To answer another tiresome question, there are reasons why the Mets didn’t sign Bourn and Upton. The Braves had a better offer for one, the other just asked for too much, too long to be worth it at this time. This isn’t that hard, but somehow seems to be for some people.

      Texas is a bit too optimistic for my taste but is an appreciated balance to this sort of negative spin.

      • DaveSchneck March 8, 2013 at 9:55 am
        Joe,
        I agree and disagree. Individually, each potential OF acquisition (Bourn, Upton) had is reasons for not happening, many of them quite solid. Not making those moves may turn out to be for the best. It is the “not making any move” which bothers me most (Cowgill is a nice player but I can’t count that as an OF move). It stinks of either no cohesive game plan (waffling back and forth) or essentially lying again to the fanbase about the will to compete in 2013. There are still back end BP guys out there that can improve the group as a whole, all the cost is money, and their asking prices are at deep discount. How about Sandy go get one or throw out the kool-aid.
        • argonbunnies March 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm
          Yeah, at this point I don’t see any downside to signing K-Rod and Valverde. It’s March. Both guys are probably desperate for opportunities to show they can still pitch, and will take any deal for 2013 so they can try free agency again next year. Sign ‘em for peanuts, include a deal that grants them their release if they’re not on the MLB roster May 1, and there you go. If they suck, release ‘em. If they bounce back, all of a sudden our bullpen is a strength.

          It’s not like Jeurys Familia has been ready to be an MLB closer and is starting to weary of being blocked. There’s really no reason not to bring in extra guys.

          Yeah, maybe it’s awkward when Hawkins doesn’t make the team. Maybe that’s a good thing when he reminds us that really isn’t all that good. People talk about how his veteran presence will uplift the ‘pen, but this is a guy who dominated the 8th inning years ago but melted down whenever he was given a shot to close, eventually admitting he was more comfortable out of the 9th. Just the influence Parnell needs.

  18. Scott McMan March 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    Mark my words, Niese should have won 15 games last season if not for a porous bullpen and I expect him to easily win 15 this season. He’s that good if you happen to check his stats once in a while. He’ll win 20 before its all said and done.

    Ike Davis is an all star just waiting to happen. If Berg can’t see that, he has a very dim and pessimistic view. I don’t know where he thinks Lee and Halladay are getting any younger. Lee has always been overblown anyway IMO.

    I happen to think Sandy is on the right track. A starting rotation with Niese, Harvey and Wheeler heading into 2014 and a catcher that’s NOT “3 or 4 years away”, I see a battery that will challenge the top staffs in baseball.

    Sandy will fill in the holes easily as tons of money comes off the books (25.5 mil from Santana alone). He will get the Mets in a position to compete in 2014 and to challenge for East crown in 2015.

    5 years ago I wouldn’t have said this and even 3 years ago I didn’t see a future, but listen up Met fans, the team is in much better shape than Berg gives them credit for.

  19. Jon March 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm
    I agree with most of the article with the exception of 1st base. The gap between Ike Davis and Ryan Howard/Freddy Freeman/Adam Laroche is significantly narrower than you lead-on, if there is a gap at all.

    I am as pessimistic of a Mets fan as there is (and at 28 years old, for good reason), but I honestly would take Ike Davis over any other first baseman in the NL East if you gave me the choice. By the end of 2013, Davis will distance himself from the rest of this pool and be the TOP 1B in the NL East. In his Rookie Year, he was robbed of the Gold Glove and last year his stats were gouged be his recovery from Valley Fever the first two months of the season (i have had Valley Fever, it’s a credit to Ike that he even played). 2013 is the year he puts it all together. Money says Ike is playing for the NL in this summer’s ASG at CitiField.