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.
After teeing off on the Orioles this week, the Mets head to the links to tee off on their off day. Ah, team bonding. Anyways, the Mets have decided to alternate series sweeps – loss, win, loss, win. This weekend would be a fine time to buck that trend, as they take on the Yankees at Citi Field.
Fore, please. The Blogs are now teeing off:
- Mets Police has pictures of our very own Ryder Cup team. Tim Byrdak and Dillon Gee channel their inner Francis Ouimet.
- NY Sports World looks at how valuable Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been to the Mets this year.
- Amazin’ Avenue has their weekly player performance-o-meter. R.A. Dickey is so hot, he gets his own animated GIF.
- Midwest Sports Fans writes an ode to R.A. Dickey. At this point, we really can’t get enough of these, can we?
- Kerel Cooper interviewed Jerry Koosman.
- Surfing the Mets says Jordany Valdespin has caught the attention of Terry Collins. Is this a budding Bromance?
So, sweep your way through the links, or hit the links. Either way, keep coming back to Mets Today.
Mets 5 Orioles 0
Another day, another shutout.
Mets 5 Orioles 0
Just another ho-hum day at the office for lunch pail-toting R.A. Dickey.
“Game’s the same, just got more fierce” – Slim Charles
Once again, the Mets will take on a team from the American League (B)East. Trips to the Bronx and Toronto did not fare so well, but amazingly the offense teed off in Tampa. This is a tough stretch for the Mets pitching staff (the Rays really had nothing, especially with Longoria hurt) as they face the Orioles and Yankees again. As good as the Mets starters have been, they have been susceptible to teams that can go yard — except for R.A. Dickey; only kryptonite can stop him. For those unfamiliar with the birds from Baltimore, let’s see who to watch out for:
If you recall, Tillman, who will be just 24 next year, was, not too long ago, one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in the game. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by Seattle, the Mariners traded Tillman in a five-player package highlighted by outfielder Adam Jones to the Orioles for Erik Bedard before the 2008 season. Tillman’s prospect profile took off from there; he dominated AA in 2008, ranking as the 22nd best prospect in the game by Baseball America heading into 2009. Tillman continued his success in AAA the following year, making his major league debut at 21 years-old in July of 2009.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Tillman’s arrival has thus far marked the high point of his career. He has bounced between AAA and the Majors the past two seasons, struggling mightily in the big leagues; he is 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA in 180.2 career innings. His fastball velocity has steadily declined over the last three seasons, from an average of 92 mph in 2009 to 89.5 last season (although that might be partly be due to throwing a two-seamer more often), and his overall development has clearly stalled.
One thing I find interesting is that Tillman’s performance did show some marked improvement at the big league level in 2011. In 62 innings, he posted a 5.52 ERA but his BABIP (.348) was high and his LOB% (65.7%) was well below the league average. His K/9 rate was 6.68, and his BB/9 3.63, both of which aren’t too far from average and was an improvement over his 2010 campaign. Tillman’s Achilles heel is his extreme fly-ball tendencies, inducing grounders just 37.3% of the time in 2011. Nevertheless, Tillman’s 4.83 xFIP is far more representative of his 2011 season. While not exactly ace-like, it’s hardly terrible, especially considering he pitched in the AL East.
What’s perplexing is that Tillman actually performed worse in AAA during 2011, posting a 6.25 FIP with a 6.37 K/9 and 4.48 BB/9 in 76.1 innings. Perhaps he was just experimenting at the AAA level, and his big league performance is a better reflection of what he is capable of right now.
On the plus side, Tillman doesn’t have any history of arm injuries. Even if he does regain his old form, Tillman’s fly-ball propensities will probably preclude him from ever really dominating at the big league level. But, many pitchers — such as Ted Lilly — have performed quite well in spite of similar fly-ball tendencies. Worst case, Tillman can very easily be a decent bullpen arm.
And who knows, the good ol’ change of scenery might do wonders for the youngster. While it’s hard to say the Orioles have shown a systemic failure in developing young pitchers, a long line of disappointing pitching prospects — Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Tillman, Matt Hobgood, Daniel Cabrera, Hayden Penn, Rhadames Liz, newly signed Met Adam Loewen, Matt Riley, etc. — at the very least, suggests Tillman might benefit from working with a different coaching staff.
So would it be worth trading F-Mart for Tillman? Tillman probably has a better chance of making at least some impact for the Mets, as either a back-end starter or a middle reliever, given his lack of injury history. At this point, whom would you rather gamble on?
I’m not sure how much you know about the organizational structure of soccer. Most national soccer leagues are divided into a first division, second division, and usually a third and a fourth for smaller and perpetually less successful teams. Unlike most American Big League sports, many major clubs eventually hit the far end of a schedule that often ends by crowning the leading team without a single playoff match. For its lack of year-end drama and Cinderella stories, this most-wins-takes-all system has one strong upside:
The former Met will be getting $7.5M over the two years, which includes a 2013 option for $4M.
Wigginton split the year among first base, second base, third base, and DH for the Orioles in 2010, hitting 22 homers and posting a .727 OPS in 154 games. It was only the second time in his career that he played in more than 150 games — the last time was in 2003 with the Mets.
Some may wonder if the Mets would have considered Wigginton as at least a part-time option for second base — he did play the position 40 times in ’10 and has been there 168 times in his career — while also filling in at the outfield and infield corners. For one, the Mets likely wouldn’t have offered Wiggy more than a one-year deal, and, after toiling for some bad teams in Baltimore, Houston, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh, playing for a team positioned to win now was probably a consideration for Wigginton. The Rockies may not be a guarantee to make the postseason but they don’t appear to be in rebuilding mode.