Archive: November 3rd, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Grady Sizemore

Is Sizemore worth the risk?

Despite their reportedly limited budget, the Mets will not be completely inactive in the free agent market this offseason.  Whether or not they re-sign Jose Reyes, the Mets will have needs to fill.  And while it seems they don’t have the kind of money to be competitive in the Albert Pujols/Prince Fielder sweepstakes, there are bargains to be had.  As with most bargains, however, caveat emptor applies.

Once such bargain is Grady Sizemore.  The 2-time Gold Glove winner became a free agent after the Indians declined his $9MM option for 2012.  Sizemore is beloved in Cleveland, and has been one of the game’s best all-around outfielders since his first full season in 2005.  His 162 game averages are 39 2B, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 24 SB, and an .830 OPS.  And, he’s only 29 years old.  So why did Cleveland decline his option?

Over the past three years, he’s lost 276 games to injury, and has undergone 5 surgeries.

Sizemore, who made $7.7MM last year, played in only 71 games for the Indians.  As a result, he can be had at a bargain price, and if he stays healthy, he will produce on the baseball field.  Wait…that last sentence sounds familiar.  Oh right, I think I read that about Moises Alou, Chris Young, Pedro Martinez, J.J. Putz, Gary Sheffield, and other recent Mets acquisitions.  Do the Mets really need to take another chance on yet another broken down ballplayer?

While in past years, the chances they took were based on poor decision making, this year, they may not have a choice, given their financial situation.  A healthy Sizemore could upgrade their defense in center field, or even right field, if the Mets lose faith in Lucas Duda, and fill the spot at the top of the order if Reyes leaves.

The Mets have an existing option for both of those roles: Angel Pagan.  After an encouraging 2010, Pagan had a rough year all around, highlighted by mental mistakes in the field and on the bases.  But despite some nagging injuries, he has given the Mets over 1,100 plate appearances over the past two seasons.  He will likely win approximately $5MM in arbitration this year, should the Mets choose to grant it.

The general feeling is any current outfield prospect (i.e. Kirk Niewenhuis) in the organization will not be ready for prime time when Spring Training rolls around.  And there are other free agent options, such as Cody Ross and Nate McLouth, but neither of them have the production potential of Sizemore.

If it doesn’t break the bank, it’s worth signing Sizemore – he has enough upside to justify the risk.  In addition, the Mets probably won’t have to pay much more for him than they would pay Pagan.  But they’d better have a backup plan in place in case the risk doesn’t result in reward.



2011 Analysis: Danny Herrera

Diminutive Danny Herrera became the shortest pitcher in Mets history when he climbed up to the rubber in Washington, D.C. (without the help of a step ladder) on September 2nd. Amidst the catcalls of “hey, somebody left a hat on the mound” and “where’s the rest of the pitcher?”, little Danny began his Mets career auspiciously, retiring 17 of the first 18 batters he faced.

Eventually, though, Herrera did allow baserunners – too many, in fact, as 8 of the last 15 batters he faced reached base. Herrera displayed a plethora of pitches, including the rare and ancient pitch known as the screwball, all delivered at random speeds. He changed speeds well, and when he was able to keep pitches down he was effective. However, he ran into trouble when his offerings floated higher in the strike zone and caught too much of the middle of the plate. Without much velocity and lacking a vicious breaking pitch, Herrera is more reliant on pristine command than most other MLB pitchers, which can be a volatile factor for the small sample sizes that a LOOGY faces. That’s really the difficulty in shoehorning him into such a role; as a specialist, his job is to get one batter, usually in a tight situation, and if he’s not “on”, the results could be disastrous.

Statistically speaking, the 2011 sample size was too small to create any kind of fair evaluation. As for what my eyes saw, it’s equally difficult because, similarly, I didn’t see enough of him to get a gauge on his strengths and weaknesses.

2012 Projection

Danny Herrera should get an opportunity to win a bullpen spot next spring. Personally, I don’t know that the LOOGY role is best suited unless he can either find consistent command or take one of his breaking pitches to a new level. I’d rather see him in a middle or long-relief role, where he can start innings with the bases empty, and have room for error. As recently as 2009, he appeared in 70 games for the Reds and posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 61 IP, facing 266 batters — which is a pretty decent sample size for a reliever. Although I don’t know enough about the situations he entered in ’09, it does suggest that Herrera might be a valuable asset in a MLB bullpen. Though, he could also have benefited from being unknown at the time (it was his rookie year); I believe the mystery factor is significant and underrated in regard to relievers. At this point, I don’t know if he can be mysterious again — or if he can adjust to batters who adjust to him. There’s only one way to find out, and at this moment the Mets don’t have many LOOGY options beyond Herrera and Tim Byrdak.