Tag: matt himelfarb

Milwaukee Gets Marcum

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired righthanded starter Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays in return for minor league second base prospect Brett Lawrie.

Marcum is a tough competitor who relies on guile, control, and changing speeds to keep batters off-balance — he’s also a bit of a bad-ass, unafraid of throwing inside (i.e., “moving the batter’s feet”). He sat out all of 2009 after Tommy John surgery but was in perfect health in 2010. The 29-year-old steps into the #2 spot in Milwaukee’s rotation.

Toronto gets the 20-year-old, Canadian-born Lawrie, who some scouts compare to Jeff Kent for his offensive prowess. The Brewers were willing to give him up because of some “personality issues”; per various rumors, the Brewers were disappointed with the youngster’s work ethic and upset that he declined an opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League. Well, it’s not uncommon to be immature at age 20, is it? Certainly, there is time for Lawrie to turn around.

Interestingly, Lawrie was suggested in a post by Matt Himelfarb a few weeks back, as a possible player to acquire in return for Mike Pelfrey:

… sending Pelfrey to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie would be awfully nice, although I doubt Milwaukee would be interested

As it turns out, if the Brewers were willing to give up Lawrie for Marcum, I imagine a trade for Pelfrey would not have been out of the question. However, I’m not sure the Mets would have made such a deal. Still, interesting call by Mr. Himelfarb.


Should the Mets Trade for Ty Wigginton?

NOTE: this post is written by MetsToday sabermetrician and minor league correspondent Matt Himelfarb. Direct your comments below to Matt.

The Orioles have a plethora of trade candidates this summer, including Ty Wiggington. Mets fans have always had a soft spot for David Wright’s predecessor, who has made a nice little career for himself as a utilityman.

There does not appear to be much room for Wiggington in Flushing. The Mets will have four equally capable outfielders when Carlos Beltran returns, Wright and Ike Davis supplanted in the corner infield positions, and Fernando Tatis and Chris Carter on the bench.

He would, however, likely represent an upgrade at second base going forward. For one, Luis Castillo has


Minor League Look: Wilmer Flores

NOTE: This is a report from MetsToday’s official sabermetrician and minor league correspondent Matt Himelfarb. Enjoy.

Wilmer Flores has come a long way since Summer 2008 in Kingsport.

Photo of Wilmer Flores by Tom Priddy

Two years ago, Flores, just 16 years old, was assigned to the Kingsport Mets of the Rookie level Appalachian League. At that age, any semblance of production- any semblance of playing time, for that matter- warrants some attention. Yet, Flores took the league by storm, hitting .310/.351/.490 in 265 plate-appearances before a late-season promotion to Brooklyn.

Of course, there were some growing pains along the way.

A little over a month into the season, the Princeton Rays came into town for a three-game set. Tim Beckham, the number one overall pick that June, was there as well, setting the stage for quite a spectacle. For three nights, Hunter Wright Stadium, capacity 2,500, would boast the two best prospects in the league.

“All of a sudden you got probably the best two players in the league”, than Kingsport manager and current Sand Gnats skipper Pedro Lopez says, “and everybody wants to know who’s the best? Who’s the better shortstop in the league? And I saw this kid is really nice, really polite. Its unbelievable.”

Than came his first interview with a reporter from New York, with Lopez acting as translator. Most of it went something like this:


Ruben Tejada at Second Base

Loyal MetsToday reader and occasional contributor Matt Himelfarb brought up a good point in the comments section today:

I know its’ not really relevant to the outcome, but after Jerry made a double switch replacing Castillo with Tejada- i think around the eighth inning- why did Cora remain at short while Tejada played second? The Mets would have been far better off defensively. Tejada played short most if not all of spring training, and has been a shortstop his entire minor league career. The only rationale I can see is the Mets plan on playing Tejada at second when he returns to Buffalo.

It may seem a small detail, but as we’ve been saying here for nearly five years, it’s often the little things that win and lose ballgames. While the move wasn’t relevant in last night’s game, the point is, it could have been.

Maybe Jerry Manuel was


Why and How the Mets Should Trade for Roy Halladay

roy-halladay-2(NOTE: this article is by MetsToday contributing writer and resident stathead Matt Himelfarb — be kind, and keep an open mind)

Rumors of the Dodgers recent financial troubles due to the McCourts’ nasty split should be welcome news to the Mets. The only other potential Roy Halladay suitors that could fairly compensate baseball’s best pitcher appear to be the Jay’s inter-division rivals, the Yankees and the Red Sox. Both Boston and New York do not have unlimited payrolls, and figure to set their sights, both financially and in regard to prospects, on other priorities. The Jays might make a token attempt at competing next year, hoping to make reasonable run in 2011. Whatever the case, they probably do not want Roy Halladay pitching against them for at least the next half-decade.

Needless to say, the market for Halladay has been softening even more since July 31st. Unless Halladay decides to take a hometown discount, Halladay will be traded this off-season, as new General Manager Alex Anthopoulos recognizes that there is no advantage to keeping Halladay for 2010, or risk waiting until the trade deadline.

This is undoubtedly good news for Omar and co.


Oliver Perez and Release Points


NOTE: This is a guest post by Matt Himelfarb.

Jerry Manuel deserves credit for usually putting a humorous spin on another of Oliver Perez’s dreadful outings. I always picture him lying back in the manager’s office at Citi Field, his hands clasped behind his head, telling reporters “Ollie’s in a funk right now” and sounding a bullish note about Perez’s eccentrics with an autographed Jonathan Malo photo in a gold-plated frame in the background.

Manuel didn’t have to defend Ollie on Friday night, despite a crushing 6-2 loss to the Padres. Since returning from the DL on July 8th, Perez has been hampered by control problems; entering his last start, he compiled 26 walks in 27 innings of work, giving him a 20% walk rate. To put that in perspective, among qualified pitchers, Pirates southpaw Tom Gorzelanny has the highest walk rate in baseball at 14.29%

As the convenient SNY narrative goes, Dan Warthen advised Perez to take an extended pause when he lifts his leg. As a result, Perez’s mechanics were smooth on Friday night, enabling him to allow just two walks over 6.1 innings of one-run ball.

I’m no pitching guru, so I really wasn’t all that skeptical about this. Using pitch f/x info, I looked for any concrete adjustments Perez made. The first thing I looked at was the consistency of Perez’s release point. The general consensus is that a consistent arm slot contributed mightily toward Perez’s solid outing. After all, control is all about finding a solid, comfortable release point.

To do this, I took his vertical and horizontal release points, and found the standard deviation between each. I did this for his Friday night start, as well as all his other walk-laden outings since he came back. (For those not familiar with this, Josh Kalk wrote a nice primer over at The Hardball Times last September concerning repeatable release points and pitcher effectiveness.)


To begin with, having almost two inches of variation is undoubtedly below average. Despite all the talk of keeping his front shoulder closed, his horizontal release point is still a major problem. That being said, if you look at his vertical release point, his last start certainly wasn’t his worst outing in terms of consistency. Regardless, as you can see, it does not appear it should make much of a difference anyway. His release point was actually more consistent against Colorado, during which he walked four batters in five innings, and against the Dodgers, where he allowed seven walks in five innings.

Next, I went to see if his actual release point changed throughout all his outings:


Again, Perez didn’t seem to make any adjustments with his horizontal release point. It does look, however, that he lowered his vertical release point 2-3 inches. I found this kind of surprising, since we usually associate Ollie’s wildness when he classically drops his arm angle down.

[NOTE by Joe: This could be a flaw in the two-dimensional nature of the pitch f/x technology. When a pitcher throws more overhand, he must push his hand further forward and DOWN in order to direct the ball to the strike zone. That said, it makes sense that the release point was lower. (This path tends to create more leverage, momentum, and velocity, BTW.) The pitch f/x charts don’t account for depth, only vertical and horizontal axis points.]

To be honest, I don’t if or how this would affect his command. I’m just logging the results. Going back to the pause, I do know that properly planting your plant foot toward the plate plays a major part in throwing strikes- although I guess in turn it would reflect his release point. [Note by Joe: Matt is correct on both points — see Isaac Newton for more info.]

If not, though, there are reasons to think Perez’s successful outing was a mirage, and doesn’t say much about him going forward. For one, the Padres can be your prototypical collection of overly aggressive youngsters. They are ranked 14th in the National League in OBP. (.313), just two points ahead of Cincinnati and San Francisco, who are tied for last, and are ninth in walks (one ahead of the Mets in fact). To their credit, they take a decent amount of pitches per plate appearance (3.85 P/PA- league average is 3.82)

Friday night, they seemed very patient (4.04 P/PA). Perez’s average P/PA since returning, however, is 4.08.

Of course, maybe Perez was simply due for an outing like this; a 20% walk rate is probably unsustainable over the long run, even for Ollie. If he can string a few good outings together, we should be able to make some better observations.