Is Jose Fernandez More Unique than Zack Wheeler?
In need of an emergency starter, the Miami Marlins tapped 20-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez from A-ball. When asked if there was any economical concern over starting Fernandez’s arbitration clock, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stated in the Miami Herald,
“So what? We’ll deal with it. He’s unique.”
Makes one wonder if the Mets believe Zack Wheeler is “unique,” doesn’t it?
Miami’s front office believes strongly that Fernandez is ready. Said Larry Beinfest in the same article:
“The consensus was this kid’s ready to handle it here, he’s ready to pitch here,” said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations. “We think he’s ready to do it. It was not a decision that was made like, ‘Hey, let’s bring Jose up because he’s really good.’ We spent a lot of time around the kid. It just seems like he’s ready to do this. This is where he should be.”
Like the Mets, the Marlins are going nowhere in 2013 — they’re working toward a season in the future. Like the Mets, their fan base is losing interest, which means the turnstiles aren’t turning, which means revenues are down. So although the long-term economical reasoning might have suggested that the Fish keep Fernandez under water for at least the first two and half months of the season, Loria saw the situation differently. I can’t read his mind, but I’m guessing he believes that Fernandez’s presence could create excitement in Miami — the kind that gets those turnstiles going again. He might also be thinking, “hey, if this guy’s as good as we think, we’ll buy out those arbitration years anyway.” Or, maybe he believes he’ll have sold the team — or trade Fernandez — by the time he has to worry about the young pitcher’s salary escalation.
It could well be that Jose Fernandez is indeed more unique than Zack Wheeler. It could very well be that Wheeler isn’t as ready for the big leagues as is Fernandez. Maybe two and half months of minor league seasoning is exactly what Wheeler needs to be big-league ready. Or maybe, he needs even more time than that.
What’s your thought?
But his point “we’ll deal with it” opens up an argument worth discussing in terms of whatever the Mets’ “plan” is supposed to be. As I mentioned in the post, if Fernandez turns out to be as good as everyone expects, a sound financial decision would be to buy out those arbitration years with which everyone is so concerned.
Similarly, if it turns out that Wheeler is the ace that most people are hoping him to be, and the Mets wind up giving him a Jose Reyes / David Wright like contract to buy out his arbitration years and first year or two of free agency, will anyone care whether or not he was promoted before or after June 20, 2013? Will anyone even remember?
Again, you have to believe that Wheeler is ready to pitch in MLB in order to argue that point. Or, you have to believe Wheeler is better than any other option the Mets have in the organization (i.e., do you think that Wheeler, right now, is more likely than Aaron Laffey to give the Mets a better chance to win every five days?), and that winning games (and generating revenue) is what is most important to the franchise.
Some people believe Wheeler is ready now. The Mets are sticking to the “he needs more polish” stance, and Wally Backman is supporting it. Backman also said that Matt Harvey wasn’t ready, prior to Harvey’s promotion — was he telling the truth, was he incorrect, or was he following the company line? And depending on that answer, you may take Backman’s statements re: Wheeler with a grain of salt.
To me, every player should be a case by case study. I love this move for the Marlins because their fans are disinterested, the kid is unique and talented, and it’s possible that he will learn best on the MLB team.
As for our Mets, most fans think it’s best to keep Wheeler and d’Arnaud down. But here’s what’s undeniable, with those two on the 25 for Opening Day, this team has a chance at playoffs. Before anyone thinks I’m crazy, remember, having a chance at playoffs in today’s MLB means being .500 come September 1st. And like you stated in the article and what everyone seems to be forgetting, if these players are as good as we think they will be…we can lock them up to extensions and never have to be scared of future control.
Fernandez had great control yesterday, though. In contrast Wheeler lacked control in his debut for Las Vegas – and the particular reason the Mets organization has given to support the claim that Zack isn’t ready for the Bigs yet is control. So you could definitely make the case that Fernandez was more ready yesterday. That’s not necessarily about uniqueness – both of them have electric stuff.
The Mets fan base could rightly be considered bitter, disenchanted, apathetic, not willing to fork over money. Still those are temporary states before winning. The Marlins like their ghosts on the other coast can’t draw fans no stadium or not, even if they are winning. Florida is not baseball country, period.
On a more important note, Fernandez may absolutely be ready more so that Wheeler and by the very small look of it yesterday he is/was.
I think the Mets are too concerned with the arb and free agency nonsense, especially for d’Arnaud. Wheeler is a product of the mindless approach to modern pitching development. But it bares watching. If they bring him up anytime prior to the All-Star break, he better have been knocking the lights out in a way that Matt Harvey was not last year in AAA.
Give him time to get consistency.
Seriously, yes Tony, I’m well aware, but thank you for astutely pointing out that detail. My intent was to create a connection between the headline and Loria’s quote, but clearly — based on your and others’ complaints — that was a bad idea. In the future I promise not to write headlines while under the influence of ginger-infused tea.
Outside of the correction, is there anything relevant to the conversation you’d like to contribute?
Having said that, I do believe the primary motivation in leaving Wheeler at Triple AAA is the long range financial ramifications of bringing him up early.
not to mention the fact that fulmer is a very good prospect in his own right….both are generally considered among the top 150 in the game
fernandez is a unique case….most were not high on him heading into the draft bc they saw a future reliever….he has put to bed alot of those questions very quickly and could be the best player to come out of that draft class…that doesn’t make fulmer or nimmo failures and to suggest that it does just makes you look like the village idiot
Are you suggesting that the Mets are taking an unnecessarily dogmatic, inflexible approach to Wheeler’s development? (Certainly some commenters seem to be making that point.)
I don’t see any evidence of either proposition. The Mets are obviously in rebuilding mode and it wouldn’t make any sense to prematurely promote anyone if there is even the slightest risk that it could backfire. (And no, it is not obvious that the Mets would contend for a playoff spot immediately with Wheeler and d’Arnaud in their ranks – they’d still have the same outfield and bullpen, after all.)
Alderson’s “plan” for this club is crystal clear to anyone who is paying attention. Give prospects as much time in the minors as they need to sharpen their game. Then, when the prospects reach their potential, spend what money you have to fill roster gaps. We’re still a couple of years away from this coming to fruition – but if you’re willing to torpedo it all in exchange for one April win, you’re insane.
Thank you for adding to the conversation.
I actually like your headline, and agree with its use. I am not an English major, but common sense and Merriam Webster concur : “Many commentators have objected to the comparison or modification (as by somewhat or very) of unique, often asserting that a thing is either unique or it is not. Objections are based chiefly on the assumption that unique has but a single absolute sense, an assumption contradicted by information readily available in a dictionary. Unique dates back to the 17th century but was little used until the end of the 18th when, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was reacquired from French. H. J. Todd entered it as a foreign word in his edition (1818) of Johnson’s Dictionary, characterizing it as “affected and useless.” Around the middle of the 19th century it ceased to be considered foreign and came into considerable popular use. With popular use came a broadening of application beyond the original two meanings. In modern use both comparison and modification are widespread and standard but are confined to the extended senses”
Regarding Mr. Wheeler, his AAA BB/9 rate of 4.3 needs to improve in order for him to be unique enough to be one of the 150 starting MLB pitchers out of the 7 billion plus humans on the planet.
Also thanks for making a contribution to the conversation at hand — the baseball stuff, I mean.
You brag you’ve been paid to be a writer, don’t be surprised when you are held to a standard.
So if I should be ashamed for writing a silly headline, I should be ashamed as an editor, not a writer.
As for my defensiveness, I plead guilty. I take it personally when I spend hours writing my thoughts about the game, yet all some people can focus on is how I choose to twist the English language — this isn’t The Oxford Journal, it’s a blog about baseball. If people want to discuss the finer points of literary writing, they can go read CopyBlogger or visit a grammar forum. Here we discuss baseball.
I feel as though the advent of advanced metrics and the public’s increased attention to particular stats has colored our confidence in the front office’s decision making. The Marlins thought Fernandez was ready, despite his lack of higher minor league credentials; Fernandez responded with an excellent debut, making the front office look pretty smart from a baseball perspective. There weren’t many who defended the move for its impact on the Marlins play – rather, people argued that the Fernandez move was more of a scheme to get people to the ballpark. It seems as though we don’t give credit to the front office’s gut instinct these days… but my view may be biased as a Mets fan (thanks a lot, Wilpons).
My bottom line: it seems as though we, the fans, rely on our own analyses and the analyses of pundits when evaluating team decisions about when to promote players. Do you think we should be more forgiving, or at least open-minded, about some of these moves which confound us?
I didn’t see enough of Wheeler in ST to know if he’s indeed “ready.” If he is, and he’s the best option for the Mets to start a ballgame, he should be in MLB. If it’s only 15 days to wait to push his free agency ahead by a year, then OK, maybe it makes sense. But I can’t see waiting until late June before promoting him — IF he’s the best option and the Mets have a hole. By participating in MLB, a team has a responsibility to field a MLB team — the Marlins and Astros notwithstanding. As spectators we pay a premium to see the very best talent IN THE WORLD. If Wheeler is one of the best pitchers in the world, and we’re paying to see the best, then he should be pitching in the bigs.
I think there is some greyness in baseball that some of the previous commentors have hit on. To run a baseball organization and run it well, you need a cominatinon of the financial savvy as well as providing a consistently solid baseball team. unfortunately, the wilpons seem to be more of the financial based organization. That being said, dealing with a prospect is along the same lines. We can run into issues such as Lastings Milledge when you have to balance the talent aspect with reality. In that case, he wasn’t evaluated earlier enough to see the true side of his potential and the mets missed out on some great trade deals. With Fernandez, i think the marlins are making a real solid baseball savvy move, by being able to evaluate him while the baseball team is still under the weather. This generates media coverage and marlin baseball fever. Unfortunately, in ny, its abit more difficult. the mets are in need of pitching but really need to defer costs. so it comes down to where they put this team in the grand scheme. if they value winning and attempting to play for now as well as the future, you have to call him up. If you simply value the future, you leave him in the minors.
If the Wilpons want to own a big-league team in a big-league town, they need to be big-league owners. If not, sell the goddamn team and buy one in Kansas City.
The Mets are in financial straits because of decisions made by ownership over the past 10 years. Any other business, I understand their current approach. A Major League sports franchise in the largest media market in the world? Sorry, but the kitchen’s too hot for you, so sell it to someone who can afford, and knows how to handle, a frying pan.
It’s all about perspective. If you’re an accountant or have a predilection toward efficiency, then your argument makes good business sense. If you are a competitor and your goal is to win, it’s an entirely different ballgame (pardon the pun).
It might not be so stupid to play the very best players you have in your organization if it leads to excitement among your customers (i.e., patrons who pay to enter your stadium, advertisers who purchase billboard space and TV commercials, etc.), because that excitement means more revenues.
That’s the problem with your argument – it’s one-sided, and doesn’t consider the possibility of future revenues. Rather, it’s suggesting that revenues will not increase as a result of winning. In Tampa, that suggestion is proving itself true, as no one wants to watch the Rays regardless of whether they win or lose. In New York, it’s been proven time and again, for almost a hundred years — you win, you make money.
Makes one wonder why MLB bothers with teams in Florida, when they can’t generate sufficient revenue regardless of won/loss record.
Thanks for the prompt responses. Its always great having a good baseball conversation. Let me try to clear things up. I dont think the two are completely separate from themselves. I think its abit of an overlap. Sure, I have to admit the old adage “you have to spend money, to make money” certainly works in NY. Its true, just look at the yankees. However, I have always seen a greater need for financial responsibility when dealing with the mets. I am sure everyone who reads these blogs knows of countless and countless horrible contracts that have destroyed the mets chances of ever rebuilding quickly enough to promote long term growth. I think that is my biggest issue with your willingness to spend and spend. Yes, it is certainly true the mets need to spend money to make this AAA+ team into a real contender. They need to certainly expand the payroll and spend the money needed to field a good solid team. But as I’ve seen before (in your posts about the San Fran team and how they build their teams), it takes financial responsibility to know when and how to spend. To be perfectly honest, you’re willingness to say penny pinching behavior is bullsh$** is exactly how the mets are in the situation they are in right now. Lets go back a few years and look at what hindered the mets development, Mo Vaughn, Robbie Alomar, Jeremy Burnitz, Jason Bay… etc etc etc. The need to spend money is certainly there, but this theory of efficiency wages (paying a premium wage for a worker who will work harder because of the high wage) is simply ridiculous. It leads to financial ruin and devastating consequences for building a perennial contender. The need to spend money is there, but more importantly, the need for wisdom and concrete evaluation is even greater. Yes, mistakes happen when dealing with long term/ high value contracts. However, repeated offenses are devastating and preventable with solid fundamentals. For the mets, the latter is unfortunately true. I think rather than a large inflow of capital, a more sound evaluation of players and rationality is needed.
I don’t believe that the Mets spent as wildly and irresponsibly as many proclaim. I’m also not 100% on board with the theory that all the spending on the 25-man roster were the singular reason that the minor league system did not develop as well as we would have liked. In fact, I think there’s an argument that the Wilpons spent just enough to create a team that played “meaningful games in September” but fell just short of spending enough to build a team that was equipped to go over the top. And if it DID go over the top, there may have been more revenues, which could have led to more investment in both the now and the later.
Bottom line is that — to me — the pre-Alderson spending is blown way out of proportion, and too freely and easily used as a catch-all excuse. There were many other teams saddled with bad contracts, yet didn’t allow those contracts to be an excuse for failure — the Giants, with the Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand deals — are a prime example. Saying that the Mets spent too much and that’s why they are where they are now is too simple an explanation.
I have also heard that the movement on Wheeler’s fastball induces more grounders, whereas Fernandez gets swings and misses. Elite strikeout pitchers may need less refinement before they’re ready to leave the minor behind. It’s possible that the only maturing Fernandez needs now is the kind that can only be done facing MLB hitters.
Personally, I don’t think that’s likely. I think it’s more likely that the Marlins are just dumb, and that the Mets are being smart with Wheeler.
Or, well, that’s what I would have said before I saw Fernandez pitch. He certainly didn’t look like he needed any AAA time.
So in that case, the only dumb thing the Marlins are doing is guaranteeing that they’ll have to pay this guy a lot by the time they might next want to field a winning team. Sorry, you’re getting outbid on that mid-level free agent because your phenom’s salary jumped $8mil this year instead of next year! (Lincecum earned $650k in 2009 and $9mil in 2010.)
Everything else imo is secondary.
Exactly. To the extent that those “signings” cost 1st round draft picks, it was an issue. But with the new CBA there are ways to add MLB-caliber players without sacrificing draft picks. This excuse is nonsense.