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.
If you are standing, please sit down — this is big news.
OK, are you sitting securely? Hang on … the Mets … have signed …
Go ahead, change your shorts; no doubt you lost control of all bodily systems as a result of the excitement.
In all seriousness, it’s true — the Mets have signed the former Twins prospect to a minor-league deal. Bonser showed great promise with a power arm after being acquired from the Giants with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in the trade for A.J. Pierzynski, but he never quite lived up to expectations and had major, reconstructive shoulder surgery that caused him to miss all of 2009. He came back with the Red Sox last year, but continued to have shoulder issues and was eventually released, then picked up by the A’s, for whom he appeared in 13 games and did not pitch well.
If Bonser is completely healthy — which is questionable — he might provide some depth in AAA. It would take a minor miracle for him to make the big club, considering his shoulder issues and the fact that he simply was not very good before the surgery.
Though, he has a very early-Mets-history kind of name … he’d fit right in with the likes of Choo Choo Coleman, Pumpsie Green, Marvelous Marv E. Throneberry, and Vinegar Bend Mizell. BTW, “Boof” is his real name, as far as I can tell. Is it me, or does “Boof Bonser” sound like a goofball character on Howdy Doody? OK, you youngins may relate better to “The Simpsons” … whatever, isn’t it difficult to take a guy seriously whose name is “Boof Bonser”?
For an interesting discussion about the seriousness of Mr. Bonser, you can listen to this podcast.
In any case, he’s ours now, so I wish him well and hope for the best.
Mets 6 Twins 0
The Mets complete interleague play in dominant fashion.
By shutting out the Twins, the Mets finish the season with a 13-5 record in interleague play. Let’s hope they play one more series against an American League team before the end of 2010.
Jon Niese shut out the Twins through 6 innings, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5 in a 104-pitch effort. As is usually the case, he had the slider / slurve / cutter working but wasn’t getting the really sharp bite and command of the curve. It’s generally one or the other, rarely both, and that’s because of his arm angle. When he comes more over the top, the curve has the bite and he can keep it in the strike zone, but the cutter / slider stays flat. When he uses more of a three-quarter angle, he gets better bite on the slider but the curve isn’t quite as sharp as usual. The good news is, his curve didn’t look bad — it was just a little lacking in bite. That’s good news because it appears as though he’s getting close to finding an arm angle that will work for both pitches.
David Wright, Jeff Francoeur, and Ike Davis were the stars of the game — each hit a homer and together they combined for 5 RBI and 4 runs scored.
Jesus Feliciano also scored a run and had 3 hits in 5 ABs. No one has missed Angel Pagan while Feliciano has filled in — much like, no one has missed Carlos Beltran while Pagan has filled in.
Ruben Tejada extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He is only 34 games short of the single-season NL record of 44 held by Pete Rose and Wee Willie Keeler.
Next Mets Game
The Mets go back to playing the National League on Monday in Puerto Rico, as R.A. “Mr. Perfect” Dickey faces Ricky “Mr. .500” Nolasco. Game time is 7:10 PM.
Twins 6 Mets 0
Carl Pavano can pitch in New York after all.
Pavano spun a 3-hit shutout as the Twins rediscovered their fundamentals, defense, and power.
(All together now) Johan Santana didn’t have his best stuff. But this time, I mean he didn’t have his best stuff compared to the “not his best stuff” we’ve been seeing in 2010. Did that make any sense? He allowed 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings, striking out 4. As usual, his command and velocity were less than stellar.
Maybe he didn’t pitch well because he was trying too hard against his old team. Though, there wasn’t any bad blood when he left, and he didn’t have to prove anything to them. It was about as amicable a breakup it could be.
Maybe the story about the dismissed rape charges from last January breaking was on his mind. Perhaps being reminded of his infidelity as a result was clouding his focus.
Or maybe, he’s just not nearly as outstanding as he was prior to his elbow injury last year. That’s not to say he isn’t good, or very good at times — rather, that he’s not outstanding.
Not that it would’ve mattered anyway, since the Mets managed only 3 hits against Pavano. Two were from Jeff Francoeur — one was a bunt single. The third hit was by Rod Barajas, and it was a cheap bloop that dropped in front of centerfielder Denard Span. The only other baserunner allowed by Pavano was Ike Davis, who reached on a walk.
Maybe it was better this way — that Santana and the offense both had a bad day. Otherwise we might be lamenting that the Mets “wasted” another great start by Santana, and/or that it is just another case of Santana receiving poor run support.
Next Mets Game
The rubber match will be played at 1:10 PM on Sunday afternoon. Jon Niese faces Scott Baker.
Mets 5 Twins 2
Are the Mets this good, or are they really lucky? Or is it something about The Field at Shea Bridge that intimidates opposing teams?
The Mets continued their dominance of the American League by beating a Twins team that played very much unlike the Twins. Meaning, Ron Gardenhire’s club is known for excellent fundamentals, solid pitching, and homerun power from middle of the lineup. But what we saw instead were two errors in the field, mediocre starting pitching, and lack of punch from the meat of the order (though leadoff hitter Denard Span went deep to start the game).
Mike Pelfrey struggled early, but settled down and mowed down the Twins after the Mets took the lead — something you expect an ace to do. He allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 6 innings, walking none and striking out 2 in a somewhat inefficient 116-pitch outing.
David Wright was the star on offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and two RBI. Keith Hernandez says he “likes what he sees” from Wright, and also suggests that David Wright “might get back to where he was before”. Gee, thanks Keith … but D-Wright is hitting close to .400 this month, so that’s not exactly a revelation.
Jose Reyes also had two hits and scored a run.
Jason Bay hit a monster RBI double in the fourth, his 18th of the season.
Ruben Tejada also blasted a double off the wall to extend his hitting streak to 8 games, the second-longest of any rookie in MLB. He is scorching hot, and now up to .264. He reminds me of a righthanded Robinson Cano, and could be a batting champion some day. Alternatively, he also reminds me of Alex Cora, and could be a backup middle infielder some day. Time will tell.
Tejada scored on a sac fly in the fifth, somehow eluding the tag of Joe Mauer. Keith Hernandez went on and on about Mauer not properly blocking the plate, but Keith was WAY off base (pardon the pun). The fly ball was hit down the left field line, and was caught by Delmon Young very close to stands and his momentum took him into foul territory. If Mauer set up his target closer to the baseline, Young likely would have thrown the ball in the same path as Tejada, which in turn a) might’ve resulted in the ball hitting Tejada in the back; and/or b) Mauer getting his view of the ball screened by Tejada. Mauer absolutely was in the right position by being a few steps to the right of home plate on that particular play — it’s kind of like when the catcher drops a third strike and the first baseman sets up in foul territory to receive the throw. Stick to hitting and first base play, Keith.
Other than Wright and Reyes, and the blasts to the wall by Tejada and Bay, not much excitement from the offense — which has been kind of the story recently. As Wright and Reyes go, so go the Mets. Remember to include Wright in that statement.
Francisco Rodriguez threw 24 pitches en route to his 17th save. He lost his balance and fell flat after one of his pitches. Could his old and chronic ankle issues be flaring up?
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Twins do it again at 1:10 PM in the afternoon on Saturday. Johan Santana faces his old team while Carl Pavano pitches for the Twins.
In a bold move to bolster the roster, the Mets claimed Twins outfielder Jason Pridie off waivers; they DFA’d former Rutgers pitcher Jack Egbert to make room for Pridie on the 40-man roster.
Pridie was once a promising prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, who was dealt along with Brendan Harris and Delmon Young to Minnesota in the trade that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett south.
For those unfamiliar with Pridie, he is a lefthanded-hitting outfielder with good speed and excellent defensive skills, but not much offense despite a sweet-looking swing. The 26-year-old has exactly 4 MLB at-bats and is a .276 hitter through over 3500 minor-league ABs. There was a brief point early in his career that the Rays moved him to the infield (third base), but ultimately his skillset was deemed more appropriate to the outfield.
Essentially, he is a slightly younger, inexperienced, free-swinging version of Jeremy Reed or Cory Sullivan (actually, he kind of looks like a mashup of the Reed and Sullivan, doesn’t he?). In 2008 he struck out 152 times in 603 AAA at-bats, while clubbing 16 triples and 13 HRs. Last year his strikeouts dropped to 85 (in 546 ABs), hitting .265 with 9 HRs and 5 triples, but walked only 19 times.
In related news, the Mets are considering bringing back fan favorite Endy Chavez — according to John Paul Morosi. Chavez is reportedly doing very well in his rehab from major knee surgery last year, and could be back on the field as early(?) as April or May. Of course, that’s what the agent of every player returning from surgery says.
From Morosi’s report:
At this point, Chavez and his agents must decide on one of two courses of action: Chavez could sign with a club soon and rehabilitate with the team’s medical staff throughout spring training, or continue his workouts individually and stage a showcase in late March.
Really? A “showcase”? Hey, I love Endy as much as any Mets fan, but he’s not Ben Sheets. Hopefully the knee doctor did as good a job on Endy’s surgery as the spin doctor did with this hype.
Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson has signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins, prompting the Nationals to sign Adam Kennedy as their second sacker.
Thus, it appears that Mets fans will endure another year of Luis Castillo at second base.
Yes, there are delusional fans still clinging to the fantasy that the Reds will trade Brandon Phillips for Omir Santos, but I wouldn’t count on it. Castillo is most likely Jose Reyes’ partner at the keystone come Opening Day.
Is it such a terrible thing?