Browsing Archive August, 2010

Mets Trade Jeff Francoeur to Rangers

According to various sources, the Mets have traded Jeff Francoeur to the Texas Rangers for middle infielder Joaquin Arias.

Jeff Francoeur ended his Mets career as their cleanup hitter. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there? Though, it is in line with the Mets starting their season with Mike Jacobs in that lineup spot.

So in the end, the Mets ultimately turned Lastings Milledge into Joaquin Arias. Well, at least Arias was once traded for Alex Rodriguez.

With Arias on the club, how the heck are the Mets going to find at-bats for Luis Hernandez?

In other news, the Mets announced that Lucas Duda and Jenrry Mejia have been promoted to the big club.


Mets Game 132: Loss to Braves

Braves 9 Mets 2

Time to wave the white flag … where is General Sherman when you need him?

Game Notes

Jonathon Niese gave up 8 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks in 4 2/3 innings, but only three of the runs were earned thanks to a botched grounder by Luis Castillo — that would’ve been an inning-ending DP. Even though the error opened up the floodgates, Niese likely was going to lose this game anyway, as he had much less than his best stuff and labored nearly every inning (not to mention it was the Mets offense supporting him). Niese threw a handful of decent sliders but didn’t have full command of the pitch, had trouble spotting the fastball, and his curveball was inconsistent, either hanging or not breaking at all, only occasionally getting the good bite needed to get swings and misses / jellied knees. On a positive note, he worked his way out of trouble several times — if we’ve learned one thing from Niese it is that he is a competitor. However all the battles led to a soaring pitch count, and, when given enough chances, the opposition is likely to eventually take advantage. Case in point: weak-hitting David Ross blasted a grand-slam on Niese’s 41st pitch of the fifth frame.

While we’re on the subject, a pitcher simply shouldn’t be out there for that long, at any level — and that’s coming from someone who is a stauch opponent of pitch counts. Pushing a pitcher far beyond 30 pitches in one inning is asking for injury.

Speaking of grand slams, Ross’ granny was the Braves’ 10th of the year. In contrast, the Mets scored two runs with the bases loaded, both on sac flies, and are hitting .194 with a .477 OPS as a team in that situation — worst in MLB by far. In contrast, the Yankees are hitting .400 / 1.106 with the bases juiced; the next-worst teams after the Mets are the Rockies, who are .210 / .620, and the Mariners at .214 / .584.

For some reason, seeing Derrek Lee in a Braves uniform reminds me of Fred McGriff in his Atlanta years; Lee to me is like a rightanded-hitting Crime Dog.

Mets are now 12 games behind the Braves, and they officially stink. Ten Tug McGraws couldn’t make me — nor this team — believe.

Next Mets Game

Game three happens at 7:10 PM in Atlanta. Mike Pelfrey pitches against Tommy Hanson.


Mets Game 131: Loss to Braves

Braves 9 Mets 3

The Mets lost. But on the bright side, we were given proof that Oliver Perez was NOT kidnapped.

Game Notes

Mets starter Pat Misch was not good, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits in only 3 innings. Elmer Dessens was better in his bailout role, shutting out the Braves in a pair of frames. The only other pitcher the Braves didn’t reach for a run was Ryota Igarashi, who pitched a scoreless ninth.

Speaking of relievers, Oliver Perez made an appearance, giving up one run, one hit, and two walks — it was his first appearance in an MLB-high 25 consecutive games. The one hit he allowed was a solo homer by Brian McCann; so much for the hope that Ollie could be a LOOGY.

The scary thing is, the Braves should’ve scored at least a few more runs — they seemed to constantly have runners on base with none out and left 7 on base. But the Mets were almost doubly ineffective, with 12 LOB and a combined 1-for-14 with RISP. That has nothing to do with approach nor the hitting coach, though — it’s all bad luck and bad skill sets.

The Mets have scored 3 runs or less in 63 of their 131 games.

Jeff Francoeur was the only Met with two hits and he scored two runs. He was also the only Met to be the target of a Coke bottle tosser.

Josh Thole hit a triple to drive in Francoeur for one of those runs.

There isn’t much else positive to discuss on the Mets side so I’ll mention that Jason Heyward went 4-for-5 with a homerun, 3 runs scored, and 4 RBI. If Bobby Cox sat him, the Mets might’ve lost by only a couple runs instead of six.

I still can’t tell the difference between Omar Infante and Martin Prado, but they are definitely two different people, because one is always on base and the other is always driving him in.

Next Mets Game

Game two in Hotlanta begins at 7:10 PM on Tuesday night. Jonathon Niese faces Mike Minor, who is now in the Majors.


Monday Afternoon Link Dump

ESPN-NY – Mark Simon compares Ike Davis to John Olerud, inducing me to scream.

Amazin’ Avenue
– Eric Simon uses numbers and a graph to support what we all kind of suspected: the Mets don’t score many runs. And he mentions Chico Walker, which is reason enough to read the article.

Neil Best via Twitter – Good news for Mets fans! There will be PLENTY of very affordable tickets available for those meaning(less)ful games in September! (And you think I’m always negative)

The Real Dirty – TRS86 describes “The Omar Effect”, which essentially explains how a certain GM in Flushing may as well use a dartboard to plan each season. Although it has no bearing, I had a TRS-80 in junior high.

MetsmerizedOnline – Also in regard to planning, Joe D learns of another way to describe the Mets’ strategy — as “chasing their own tails” — which he discovered while reading an article describing David Wright’s “hunger”. Hmm … maybe we’ll see David doing ‘Hungry Man’ commercials soon; that would be more appropriate than seeing him behind the wheel of a Lincoln.

It could be something like this, and he could do it with, say, R.A. Dickey:


The Problem with Prospect Rankings

I have been following Amazin Avenue’s Community Prospect List. It appears that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has emerged as the consensus number-two prospect in the system behind Wilmer Flores. I am not saying I disagree with the ranking, but I will say, if accurate, it is more a testament to the weakness of the Mets farm system, than it is a fair reflection of Nieuwenhuis’s talent, which really would not be number-two worthy in most organizations.

I really brought this up, though, because I find it interesting how Sean Ratliff, who profiles very similarly to Nieuwenhuis, has yet to appear on the list (AA is voting on number eight, and Ratliff is sixth in the voting for that spot last time I checked), and people still shy away from calling him a top-ten prospect. In fairness, Nieuwenhuis has a lengthier track record of success, while Ratliff, aside from his two-and-a-half months in Binghamton, was a non-prospect.

If you compare their production with AA Binghamton, however, there is no comparison. Ratliff has vastly outperformed Nieuwenhuis:

Ratliff: 272 PA .332/.379/.614/.993 OPS. .426 wOBA .275 ISOP 7% BB% 23.5% K%

Nieuwenhuis: 430 PA .289/.337/.510/.371 wOBA .220 ISOP 6.7% BB% 21.6% K%

Yes, Nieuwehuis has a larger sample size, and for what it’s worth he is six months younger than Ratliff, but I do not think either of those facts compensate for an over 50 point disparity in wOBA, or an almost 150 point difference in OPS. Nieuwenhuis has also struggled mightily since being promoted to Buffalo (.195/.264/.329 in 91 PA).

Also, while his strikeout rate has remained on the high-end during his time in Binghamton, check out Ratliff’s walk rate over that span:

June (67 PA): 3%

July (123 PA): 4.1%

August (82 PA): 14.6%

The dude basically went from Jeff Francoeur to Adam Dunn in a month. I am guessing that has a lot to do with the fact pitchers are finally pitching around the new and improved Ratliff, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Both players are regarded as athletic outfielders, that may or may not have the range to stick in center field.

It is difficult to rank the Mets farm system. I think Reese Havens and Zach Lutz are far superior to Ratliff and Nieuwenhuis when they’re on the field, but neither of them has proven they can stay healthy. Duda is the best pure hitter of the bunch and has stayed healthy, but he is also probably a below average corner outfielder. You could make a real radical statement and say Darrell Ceciliani or Aderlin Rodriguez is the best of the bunch, but they carry with them a lot of downside. Then you have to factor in pitchers like Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey, and suddenly you have nine guys with no obvious advantage over each other.

And that is the problem with rankings. They add the illusion of distinction when, sometimes, as in this case, none is warranted. At the same time, that is what makes it fun, challenging, and let’s face, gives it real world pertinence. Out of the nine, one might blossom into a superstar, one or two of them might pull a Brad Holt next year, and you wonder why they were ever considered prospects in the first place, and the rest will end up in between. As a general manager, most of them are your trade chips, and you have to remember prospects get you fired, lest you end up looking like Steve Phillips.


Mets Game 130: Win Over Astros

Mets 5 Astros 1

Back to .500 — now what?

Game Notes

R.A. Dickey was his usual spectacular self, setting down the ‘stros through seven stellar innings, allowing just six hits, two walks, and one run. Should we now be expecting him to pitch this way?

Josh Thole was the offensive star of the ballgame, hitting a double, a solo homer, walking once, and scoring twice. Dickey helped himself by going 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a run. Maybe he should get a crack at left field.

Freshly called up shortstop Luis Hernandez played shortstop instead of Ruben Tejada. Very strange, since Tejada was on a hot streak — he had a walk, a hit, and an RBI in his last three plate appearances. The poor kid finally gets the bat going and he’s sent to the bench — what sense does that make?

Next Mets Game

The Mets fly down to Atlanta to begin a crucial four-game series against the first-place Braves on Monday night, with first pitch at 7:10 PM. Pat Misch faces Jair Jurrjens. If the Mets can sweep the Braves, they will cut Atlanta’s lead to only six-and-a-half games with 28 to play — not an insurmountable gap (just ask the 2007 Mets).


Mets Game 129: Loss to Astros

Astros 4 Mets 1

Win one, lose one. Win one, lose one …

As usual, the Mets follow a victory with a loss, sinking one game below the holy grail of .500.

Game Notes

Johan Santana wasn’t stellar, but he wasn’t awful, either. But when the offense can only muster one measly run off of four Houston pitchers, anything less than a shutout is a death knell. Santana spun seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out four.

But Brett Myers shut out the Mets through seven, and three Astro relievers closed out the ballgame.

Carlos Lee drove in three of Houston’s four runs with a single and a two-run homer, and David Wright drove in the only Mets run with an eighth-inning single.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match begins at 1:10 PM. R.A. Dickey faces Bud Norris.


Game 128: Win Over Astros

Mets 2 Astros 1

Mike Pelfrey threw ice on the red-hot Houston Astros, Ruben Tejada collected his first hit in 9 days, David Wright drove in his 85th run of the year, and Hisanori Takahashi saved the day as the Mets won the first game of the three-game series and reclaimed their goal of .500 ball.

Game Notes

After a difficult, 31-pitch first frame, Big Pelf settled down and set down the ‘stros through the next seven, allowing no runs on six hits and two walks. Rebounding after that tough first inning fueled his confidence, and he rolled the rest of the way.

However, the win was in jeoporady in the ninth when Bobby Parnell allowed two one-out singles — the second of which included an error by Angel Pagan that put runners on the corners. Rather than let the young fireballer learn to work out of a jam in this meaningless ballgame, Jerry Manuel summoned Takahashi from the bullpen, who allowed an RBI single before getting the final two outs. Yes, the preference is to see the Mets win games, and yes, it would’ve been a damn shame if Pelfrey didn’t earn a victory, but if Parnell isn’t going to be given a chance to find his way out of a mess in that situation, then when will he? Or will he ever? His development is being stunted because Manuel is still managing for his job — not good for the long-term health of the organization.

Speaking of long-term, Tejada not only hit a single to boost his average to .169, but he also drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in what turned out to be the winning run.

Two former Mets were in the game for the Astros: Anderson Hernandez (who is hitting 53 points higher than Tejada, but still dangerously close to the Mendoza Line), and Nelson Figueroa, who was the tough-luck loser in allowing only two runs on three hits in seven innings.

Yes, you got that right — the Mets had only three hits on the night, completely shut down by Nelson Figueroa. Not Ed Figueroa, but Nelson Figueroa. And neither of the runs were scored via a hit — the first run came on a sac fly by Wright.

Next Mets Game

Game two occurs at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. Johan Santana faces Brett Myers.