Tag: zach duke

Mets Should Consider Trading Mike Pelfrey

This is an article written by Matt Himelfarb

After a disappointing 2009, Mike Pelfrey rebounded big time in 2010, going 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA in 204 innings pitched. With Johan Santana expected to be sidelined until at least Opening Day, and the unclear financial stature of the Mets, no one dare wants to broach the idea of trading Pelfrey, who is entering just his first year of arbitration this winter. Wright, Reyes, Beltran? Hey, its’ house cleaning time. Yet, nary a mention of Pelfrey.

There is good reason to think, however, that Pelfrey’s market value is probably inflated right now, and it would behoove the Mets to sell high on him. His tidy surface stats belie the fact that he is, most likely, a rather pedestrian pitcher. After all, looking at Pelfrey’s peripherals, he is just not particularly good at anything. He does not strike out a lot of hitters, and his walk rate is more or less average. He induces a decent number of ground-balls (around 50% of his batted balls were grounders), but no one is confusing him for Brandon Webb or Derek Lowe in his prime. Most importantly, these three factors have held remarkably constant the last three years, despite varying ERAs.

What has correlated with Pelfrey’s success is a lower number of home runs allowed, stemming from a lower HR/FB rate. (Note: league average HR/FB rate is 10-11%).


*I did not actually calculate his average xFIP over the last three years, but averaged them all together, so the difference is fairly negligible.

HR/FB rate does not correlate well from year to year, and is highly dependent on luck, so part of the reason Pelfrey has outperformed his expected performance can be attributed to luck.

But, we are talking about a fairly large sample size (589 innings), where regression to the mean should have taken place if it were purely about luck. Instead, Pelfrey was able to maintain a low HR/FB rate, and outperform his xFIP by nearly half a run (.39), indicating that his ability to limit homers had a lot to do with pitching in a favorable home ballpark (Shea Stadium in 2008, Citi Field the last two years). While it is unclear to what extent Citi Field suppresses home runs, Pelfrey has performed significantly better at home than on the road the past two years, as have many of his teammates.

Hence, Pelfrey’s performance is not necessarily unsustainable, per se. As long as he is starting half his outings in Citi Field, and has a decent defense behind him (Pelfrey allows more batted balls than the average pitcher, and thus a lower BABIP is also a key component of his success), there is a good chance he can outperform his xFIP, and a sub-4 ERA is attainable for him, as it was in 2008 and 2010.

But the point still remains the same, because if Pelfrey can reap the advantages of pitching in Citi Field, so can numerous other pitchers. Take, for instance, Zach Duke, who was just designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates, after going 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA last year. Pelfrey’s and Duke’s average numbers over the last three seasons are frighteningly similar:


Duke also had much higher BABIP numbers during his tenure with Pittsburgh, due to some awful defenses. He is essentially a left-handed version of Pelfrey. As recently as 2009, Duke threw 213 innings and posted a 4.06 era. If the Mets were to sign him, I could easily see him posting similar, if not better, numbers. Like Pelfrey, that does not mean that is Duke’s true talent level; I am just trying to make my point that Pelfrey is, in fact, more replaceable than people believe.

Glancing over some possible trade partners, sending Pelfrey to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie would be awfully nice, although I doubt Milwaukee would be interested. I could see a deal with the Tigers involving Scott Sizemore or with the Rockies and Chris Nelson, so long as the Mets receive some additional prospects.

Given the fact that Sandy Alderson might be precluded from pursuing big name players due to financial reasons, improving next year’s team will probably require some creativity. Signing someone like Duke, which would enable him to sell high on Pelfrey, could be a step in the right direction.


Mets Game 145: Win Over Pirates

Mets 9 Pirates 1

R.A. Dickey continued the feel-good story of the year, cruising to his eleventh win of the season and enjoying an abnormally ample attack from the Mets’ offense: 9 runs on 14 hits, including 5 for extra bases.

Game Notes

Dickey pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 4 and flipping 127 pitches (82 strikes). Either Dickey is for real or he’s a modern-day Joe Hardy. Either way, let’s hope he keeps this level of performance in 2011.

So many positives, it’s hard to spotlight just one or two. Let’s center on Ruben Tejada, who was 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored and came within a few feet of swatting his second career home run. He is red-hot, which means Jerry Manuel will likely be sitting him the rest of the week.

Another feel-good story: Nick Evans, who followed up his game-winning hit the other night with a 2-for-4 day including his first MLB homer of 2010 — a tremendous blast over the centerfield fence.

Carlos Beltran also homered, and doubled, and drove in three. Angel Pagan broke out of his slump with three hits including a double and also drove in three. Jose Reyes was 2-for-4 with 3 runs and an RBI.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Pirates play again on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Jenrry Mejia goes against Pat Maholm.


Mets Game 124: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 2 Mets 1

Yet again the Mets waste an exceptional effort by ace Johan Santana, as the temporarily formidable offense turned back to feeble.

Next Mets Game

After a travel day on Monday, the Mets make their way back to Flushing to host the Marlins at 7:05 pm on Tuesday. R.A. Dickey faces Josh Johnson. 


Mets Game 51: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 3 Mets 1

For the second time in three days, the Mets engaged in a pitchers’ duel, but unlike Sunday’s win over the Marlins, were on the short end of the sword.

Johan Santana pitched poorly for Santana, but good for a mere mortal, and unfortunately not good enough for a win. He scattered seven hits through six innings, allowing three runs. I believe that qualifies as a “quality start”. Quality starts, though, don’t guarantee wins.

Pittsburgh pitcher Zach Duke was just a little better, holding the Mets to one run on eight hits and a walk. The only run allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Luis Castillo that scored Ramon Martinez.

Buccos catcher Jason Jaramillo blasted his first MLB homerun off Santana in the fifth, a “no doubter” deep into the left field stands. The Pirates’ went ahead in the sixth inning, when Freddy Sanchez led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Nate McLouth double. Moments later Adam LaRoche hit another double to score McLouth with the insurance run.

The Mets staged a two-out rally in the top of the seventh but Duke extinguished it without damage.


Martinez dislocated his pinky while scoring the Mets’ only run. He beat the throw easily but seemed to be caught between sliding and staying up. For those who have never played baseball before, he should have received direction from the on-deck hitter (Fernando Martinez) as to whether he needed to slide or run in standing up.This is a basic fundamental which is taught to American and Japanese children during little league. It is absolutely implausible and embarrassing that the Mets, an organization competing at the highest level of the game in the world, did not instill such a basic fundamental during F-Mart’s 3+ years in their system. I learned it as a 10-year-old in a league that played a 15-game season. *** EDITED — see isuzudude’s correction in comments *** Shame on the Mets, who by the day become exposed as a Mickey Mouse operation. (I won’t edit the final comment, because the Mets do belong in Disneyworld, for a hundred other reasons.)

While we’re on the subject of plays at the plate, Jeremy Reed was thrown out by several feet in the third inning after a Castillo single. Watching the replay, third-base coach Razor Shines was giving Reed the green light by circling his left arm as Reed approached third base. However, as Reed was rounding third (with his head down, something you do as a runner to make sure you touch the bag), Shines put up a stop sign with that same left arm, which Reed ran right through. Keith Hernandez commented that Reed “had plenty of time to stop”. I disagree.

A third base coach has to decide whether or not to send the runner BEFORE the runner hits the 3B bag. If he’s going to wait longer, then the coach has to position himself further down the third-base line, toward home plate, at an angle where both he can see the ball being handled by the outfielder and the runner can see him clearly as he rounds the bag. If Shines were in the proper position, then he can put up the stop sign “late”. But, Shines was at the edge of the 3B coaching box, and not in a good position to put up a late stop sign. What compounded the issue was that he used his same left hand to give the “stop” sign, which could have been construed as a continuance of the “go” sign. When as a coach you want the runner to put the brakes on, you put BOTH hands up, high over your head, using forceful, obvious body language. Again, fundamentals.

Brandon Moss reminds me of Ryan Klesko. Zach Duke reminds me of Tom Glavine. But the Pirates do not remind me of the Braves of the 1990s.

Losing to the Pirates twice in a row doesn’t concern me, since half the team is on the disabled list or in the infirmary with flu symptoms. The shame is that the Mets aren’t able to take advantage of playing a poor team by beating up on them.

Danny Murphy had a pinch-hit single in the seventh off Duke, a lefthander. Murphy is now hitting .423 in his career as a pinch-hitter, and I truly believe he may be able to carve a career serving in such a role — particularly since he is unfazed by the lefty-lefty matchup. Kind of like Gates Brown, Manny Mota, or Lenny Harris. Obviously there’s something about his approach that makes him so effective as a pinch-hitter, and a man can make a long and financially fruitful career exploiting such a talent.

Keith Hernandez suggested that Santana might be tipping pitches, as evidenced by the Bucs looking very comfortable swinging the bat in that fateful sixth frame. There may be something to that theory.

Santana was removed after 85 pitches. Probably a good thing, since he threw 120 in his last start (and 118 in the start before) and the Mets offense wasn’t doing anything anyway.

Why was Ramon Martinez starting at shortstop after Wilson Valdez hit like Barry Larkin on Sunday afternoon? The explanation was that Jerry Manuel wanted to get a look at Martinez before making a personnel decision. Are you kidding me? Believe me, I’m not on the bandwagon for Valdez, but it’s plain as day that he is head and shoulders above Martinez in every aspect of the game (which isn’t necessarily saying much). He has a stronger arm, better range, better speed, and a slightly stronger bat. He had me at hello. To give a guy a start as a tryout is unacceptable at this point in the season — the games are too important, and the lineup is already devoid of legit MLB talent.

Next Mets Game

The Mets attempt to avert a series loss on Wednesday evening by sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound against former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf. Game time is 7:05 PM.