While we bask in the glow of R.A. Dickey‘s Cy Young Award win — and get in your celebration quickly, because who knows how much longer he’ll be a Met — I’d like to discuss the Manager of the Year Awards, which kind of flew under the radar while we waited for the “more important” awards.
A large part of the Oakland Athletics unexpected success in 2012 can be attributed to Billy Beane‘s ability to find undervalued assets, particularly in the outfield. The rebirth of ‘Moneyball’, if you will. According to FanGraphs WAR, Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss, and Jonny Gomes were worth a combined 9.3 wins last season for Oakland.
Given the Mets payroll constraints, Sandy Alderson is probably going to have to implement his own brand of Moneyball this offseason. Here are a few potentially overlooked outfielders that could be available this winter.
The 2012 Major League Baseball season begins right now, for reals!
Really, it does. When the Mets take the field for a spring training contest this afternoon, two teams will have already finished Opening Day. As you read this, the Oakland Athletics are facing the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Japan, in a game that counts toward both teams’ 162-game regular-season schedule. Seriously.
If you don’t believe me, go to MLB.com and watch the game yourself.
Happy Opening Day!
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The Mets wear out the wet weather to take the series from Oakland; a good way to finish as they embark on a tour of AL parks.
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It’s games like this that make me wonder why BeelzeBud Selig found it so necessary to artificially juice up the offense to make baseball “more appealing”. Because if you weren’t at the edge of your seat in the 8th and 9th inning of this game — and through most of the extra innings, for that matter — then you’ll never, ever appreciate the game and you probably don’t enjoy watching great mystery movies, either. The masterful pitching performances by R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez built up great tension — an eight-inning crescendo that came to an exalting release when Jose Reyes ripped a triple. Even though it wasn’t a score, we all knew that Jose would score — somehow, some way. And when Justin Turner drove him in it might have been considered anticlimactic.
Of course, the emotional rollercoaster took a heart-wrenching, stomach-turning dive when Francisco Rodriguez allowed the A’s to tie it up in the ninth. As a Mets fan, you weren’t happy, but as a viewer watching the plot twist, it was purely magnificent entertainment value.
In the extra innings that followed, there were about dozen moments that had us on the edge of our seats — be they strikeouts that almost weren’t, or drives off of bats that were erased by improbable dives. Just when you thought the story might end, it instead took a turn and continued to evolve.
And when the game finally ended, you were still at the edge of your seat, and as a Mets fan elated — while as a mere spectator of the storyline, you may have been mildly disappointed that the movie was over, because the story succeeded in ending at a point where you were hoping it would continue for just a few more minutes (or not end at all).
Who needs homeruns when the game can naturally tell a brilliant story like that?
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All streaks must come to an end sometime — that’s why they’re called streaks.
And though one marvelous streak ended, another one might have begun.
The Mets continue the ridiculous and annoying part of their schedule that involves playing against teams that do not play baseball, but rather some bastardized variation of the sport. The ironic part of this “interleague play” is that pundit after pundit bemoans the fact that the AL teams are at a “disadvantage” because their one-dimensional designated pinch hitter cannot participate. But it gets even more comical when people suggest that the game becomes “dangerous” because the pitchers have to bat and possibly run the bases.
Dear lord … you mean, the pitchers have to ACTUALLY PLAY BASEBALL? What an abomination! How could such a life-threatening proposition be thrust upon them?
And as for the experimental designated pinch-hitters who have to sit out these contests in NL cities, I feel absolutely terrible that these invalids are so completely uncoordinated that they will publicly embarrass themselves and put both their health and their team’s chances at risk by playing the field.
At this point I’d like to point out something: Ted Williams once said that hitting a round ball with a round bat was the single most difficult thing to do in all of sports. To this day, few if any people challenge that sentiment. Yet, there are world-class athletes who are paid millions of dollars a year to specialize in the single most difficult thing to do in all of sports, and yet they can’t also do something as ordinary and mundane as play a defensive position in the field. Go figure.
Anyway, I digress … or did I regress? … this is supposed to be about the Mets vs. the A’s. I’ll make it as quick and painless as possible.
Ironically, Humber was placed on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster after the Royals signed another ex-Met — Jeff Francoeur.
Though Humber came nowhere near fulfilling the promise he showed as an ace pitcher for Rice, I’ve always had a soft spot for him. After leaving the Mets organization in the Johan Santana deal, Humber struggled in two AAA seasons in Twins’ organization — not a good thing for a team as deep in young pitching as Minnesota. He pitched most of last year for the Royals’ AAA team and his numbers don’t look great. But, he did compete in the PCL, which is considered a “hitters’ league”. Indeed, most teams in PCL averaged over 5 runs per game and .780 OPS (to put that in perspective, the average AL team scored a little less than 4 1/2 runs per game and posted a .730 OPS last year). The average PCL pitcher has a 4.78 ERA and Humber’s was 4.47 in 118 IP. Not great, but what stands out is his 1.5 BB/9 IP and 4.0 K/BB percentage.
Personally I haven’t seen him “in the flesh” since he left the Mets so can’t comment on his velocity, command, or anything else about his stuff. But the fact that the Royals were protecting him on their 40-man, combined with the Athletics jumping on him so quickly, suggests that there are people who believe that Humber might still have a chance to contribute in some capacity at the MLB level. And since he’s in the Adulterated League, I feel comfortable wishing him the best of luck.