Tag: lucas duda

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.


Yankees Block Carter – So What?

Yesterday I thought we’d reached a low point when the DFA of a career minor leaguer caused excitement in the Mets blogosphere. Today, I’m seeing we fans sink even lower in this steep abyss of failure and mediocrity we’re calling the 2009 season — because now, we’re mad at the Yankees for preventing the Mets from auditioning another career minor leaguer.

Don’t get me wrong — I was excited as the next guy at the possibility of seeing some new (and healthy) blood come into Flushing, and wow us with his homerun hitting skills. But now, various sources are reporting that Chris Carter will be staying in Boston, because the Yankees claimed him on waivers as a handcuffing strategy (it forced the Red Sox to pull Carter back and keep him on their 40-man roster). Disappointing, yes, the news will hardly ruin my September.

First of all, the Yankees could care less about who the Mets want to audition in meaningless September games, and that consideration likely never entered their minds. The Yankees, after all, are focused on “meaningful games in September” (as Fred Wilpon so aptly describes them). And I can’t blame them — why should the Yankees do the Mets any favors, particularly in the heat of a pennant race? Did the Mets do the Yankees a favor by giving Billy Wagner to the Red Sox? And in return for peanuts, no less? Along with the potentiality of the Bosox getting two extra picks in next year’s June draft? Hmm … LHP who throws mid-90s and has closing experience … draft picks … in return for two non-prospects … yeah, we should be ticked at Brian Cashman for screwing up the Mets’ September, since Omar Minaya was so kind in helping out the Yankees!

Second, the blame is misplaced if it’s on the big bad Yankees. You want to blame someone for screwing up Chris Carter’s audition? How about blaming the Red Sox, who should have pushed Carter through waivers a month ago. It’s standard routine to send all your players through waivers after the trading deadline — no doubt the Bosox passed through people like Mike Lowell, Rocco Baldelli, Takashi Saito, etc. — so why not Carter?

Third, consider the silver lining. The fact that Carter won’t be in New York means there will be opportunities for others. For example, maybe without Carter around, the Mets will consider claiming Matt Murton to try out in left field. Perhaps not having Carter’s means Josh Thole will get some reps at first base. Or it could mean someone like Lucas Duda or Ike Davis gets a surprise promotion. At the very least, it should mean more at-bats for Angel Pagan and Cory Sullivan, and more first base experience for Dan Murphy. Seeing those three players for another 25-30 games will be helpful in determining where (or whether) they fit into the plans for 2010.

But hey, if you want to project your anger toward the Bronx, that’s your prerogative — and if it helps you cope with this sorry excuse for an organization, then go ahead and let it all out. Personally, I’d rather be “mad” at the Yankees for something more worthwhile.