Browsing Archive October, 2009

2009 Analysis: Tim Redding

tim-redding-poseWhen the Mets signed Tim Redding in the second week of January 2009, he immediately assumed the #4 spot in the starting rotation. Saying that now seems preposterous, but at the time, that’s where he fit in — even if it was by default.

Because at the time — January 9th to be exact — the Mets were still scrambling to fill out their rotation behind Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and an injured John Maine. The Redding signing came two weeks before Freddy Garcia (!) was inked to an incentive-based deal and almost a month before Oliver Perez realized no one else was going to sign him (though the Mets were happy to bid against themselves in the process).

Sit back and think about that for a moment: as of Groundhog Day, and 11 days before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, Tim Redding was the Mets’ #3 starter

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The Mets and Milton Bradley

Ken Rosenthal’s recent column reports that the Mets, among other teams, have been inquiring about the Cubs’ outfielder Milton Bradley.

Wow … where do we start?

Never mind Bradley’s troubled past. We’ve already learned that nice guys finish second-to-last, so stirring up the pot with a perennial malcontent won’t necessarily make things any worse. Let’s pretend Bradley is a model citizen and analyze him only according to the numbers.

Doing that, what you have is a 10-year veteran of MLB who managed 400 at-bats or more in a season only twice. Despite the fact that he supposedly has (or had) a world of talent with a rare combination of speed and power, he’s hit as many as 20 HRs in a season only once — as a Texas Ranger — and has never stolen more than 17 bases (in fact he hasn’t stolen more than 5 since 2006). His career batting average is a ho-hum .277. The statheads like his career OBP (.371) and his OPS (.821) and I have to agree he does have an ability to get on base. His fielding was at one time a strength, but as he’s aged that facet of his game has regressed (due in part to injuries collected over the years).

Now add in the fact that he is owed $21M over the next two years of a back-loaded contract. Is that money worth a guy who likely will play as often as Moises Alou, be a liability in the field, and hit like Dan Murphy (but with more walks) ? Wouldn’t the Mets be better off picking up someone like Eric Hinske or Austin Kearns on a one-year, $600,000 deal instead?

If you’re on the fence, then it’s time to consider the intangible issues. The old-school crowd likes his passion and enthusiasm, but shakes its head at his well-publicized temper tantrums, arguments with umpires, occasional lapses in focus, and similar bouts of self-destruction. You may be OK with taking on all that baggage if you believed that Bradley was the type of guy who was a game-changer, or could carry a team on his back. There might have been a time in his career when that was true, but if so those days are long gone. And again, even if you’re OK with the baggage because you think you need what he can provide offensively, why wouldn’t you just rescue Carl Everett from independent ball? He’d probably play for the league minimum, and give you a similar package. Or bring back Gary Sheffield, who actually WAS a model citizen in 2009 (and has appeared in more games over the past three years).

The only thing that could justify the Mets talking to the Cubs about Milton Bradley is a more elaborate, diabolical plan to drastically change the current roster. For example, perhaps Bradley is necessary part of a salary dumping deal that would also send Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee to Flushing, in return for a package that includes one of the Mets’ underperforming but comparatively inexpensive starting pitchers and Luis Castillo — which in turn would clear the way for Orlando Hudson to sign on as a free agent. If nothing else, it would be a splash, and proof the Mets were committed to making significant changes to their ballclub.

But if the buzz between the teams is a simpler matter of Bradley heading to New York by himself, I’m not sure what sense it makes.

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2009 Analysis: Oliver Perez

oliver-perez-sit
To say that Oliver Perez had a difficult 2009 season would be an understatement. Good thing for Ollie he married his wife prior to spring training, or the year could’ve been a total loss.

Perez spent most of the season on the disabled list, and pitched poorly during those brief stints off of it. his season-long malaise began before Opening Day, when he

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Can the Mets Use a Mental Coach?

logoIf you are a Mets fan, you are all-too-familiar with:

– Mike Pelfrey’s “yips”

– Oliver Perez’s “Jekyll and Hyde” routine

– Frequent mental lapses on the bases and in the field

– Team-wide choking that led to late-season collapses in 2007 and 2008

– Finger-pointing and under-the-bus throwing by players

These issues were running through my mind while having a conversation with Jim Fannin, a “mental coach” whose client list includes MLBers such as Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Casey Blake, Alex Cora, Carlos Delgado, Barry Zito, and many others. You can listen to the published podcast of this conversation at my baseball instruction website, OnBaseball.com. Could the Mets benefit from hiring someone to help with their mental preparation?

Download the podcast, give it a listen, and post your comments back here.

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2009 Analysis: Mike Pelfrey

mike-pelfrey-legliftIt seemed that Mike Pelfrey turned a corner the moment Dan Warthen became pitching coach in late June of 2008. When that fallacy is combined with his final numbers — a 13-11 record and 3.72 ERA — many believed Big Pelf had finally matured, and was on the verge of a “breakout season”. Indeed, some pundits penciled him in as the Mets #2 starter when the 2009 season began.

So it appeared that Pelf fell flat on his face when he posted a 10-12 record and an unsightly 5.03 ERA by the time 2009 ended. Did he go backward? Was 2008 a mirage? Or was he simply the victim of bad luck?

The truth lies somewhere in between, and to find it, one needs to begin looking at his 2008 season objectively.

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2009 Analysis: Jonathan Niese

jon-niese-tongueIf we were putting grades on these analyses, Jon Niese would have to be given an “incomplete”.

After three starts as a 21-year-old in September 2008, Niese showed nothing to make any level-headed, objective party to believe he would be “ready” in 2009. Further, there was some question as to why the Mets would be in such a rush to force this young man to the bigs. He was making good progress in his jump from low-A to high-A, and did well going from A to AA. After 22 strong starts in AA, he was pushed to AAA, where he pitched 7 times before making his first MLB start — in the middle of a tight pennant race. Predictably, he fell flat on his face, unable to get past the third inning in two of his three starts. But, he pitched a remarkable eight innings of shutout ball against the Braves in between, prompting many Mets fans to believe he was the next Sandy Koufax.

It made a better story, after all, rather than considering that perhaps his success had something to do with

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2009 Analysis: John Maine

john-maine-scratchWhen May rolls around next year, John Maine will be 29 years old. That said, you can no longer look at him as a young pitcher on the rise.

In fact, the opposite is true; in many ways, Maine has gone backward since 2006. His ERA has increased from 3.60 to 3.91 to 4.18 to 4.43. His walks per nine innings have risen from 3.3 in 2006 to 4.2 this past season. Hits per nine innings went from 6.9 to 7.4 (7.8 in 2008). Strikeouts per nine innings have dropped from 7.1 in ’06 and 8.5 in ’07 to 6.1. He has suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, and has yet to prove he has recovered 100% — with a related drop in velocity from 95-96 MPH to 91-92.

Even before the injury, Maine was regressing — though, that could have been due to

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