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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Jim Duquette has been officially promoted to General Manager of the Mets.

I know some people have fears that he is the second coming of Steve Phillips, but I'm rather happy with the hire. Would I have preferred Paul DePodesta, or Billy Beane? Sure, but that wasn't going to happen. Out of every name mentioned, Duquette was my preference. While I respect them all, i wasn't really enamored with any of the "established" candidates we interviewed or were rumored to have interest in. Also, as much most of us like to criticize the "baseball establishment", often with good reason, i don't think any of us seriously believe we know more about the game, or are smarter then the people who do this for a living. At last year's winter meetings, an informal poll was taken of current GMs and executives asking who were the best GM candidates in the game. Clearly ahead of the rest of the pack were two names; Paul DePodesta and Jim Duquette. The Dodgers, among others, wanted to interview him when their GM positions were open. So obviously his colleagues think highly of him. His people skills are highly praised, something that Phillips severely lacked. And he's got already got a very good working relationship with Jeff Wilpon aka Jr Skill Sets, something very important for the new GM of the Mets to succeed, whomever it may have been.

As to the second coming of Steve Phillips. I don't see it. Yes, he's a young, bright, business friendly, administrative type of GM, not a pure baseall man. But if that's your criteria for comparing him to Steve Phillips, then you might as well throw in Brian Cashman, Gerry Hunsicker, Theo Epstein, Paul DePodesta, and several other highly respected GMs and rising stars. There's nothing to say that just because Duquette worked under Phillips that he's just like him. Quite the contrary, both men say they often had opposing views. And you know, i think everyone is a little harsh on Steve Phillips. No, he was'nt great, but he was'nt nearly as bad as many people make him out to be. Let's begin with the 2001 off season. There's no excuse for Vaughn and Cedeno, but anyone who blames Phillips for Burnitz and Alomar is either making themselves believe what they want to, or is simply a fool. Before coming to the Mets Burnitz was a lock for 30 HR and an OBP of .350 or better. And Alomar? Any Mets fan who tells you they weren't absolutely THRILLED with getting Roberto Alomar is lying. His last year in Cleveland he hit .336/.415/.541 with 20 HR, 34 2B, and 100 RBI. It was the second best year of his career spectacular career, behind only 1999. He finished in the top five in MVP voting. Noone, and i mean NOONE, could have known that Alomar would fall off a cliff. When we aquired him he was the unquestioned best second basemen in baseball. One of elite second basemen ever, a perrenial all star, hall of fame bound, one of the five best all around players in the game today. And Steve Phillips got him for an injury prone tools guy, a good pitching prospect, and a replaceable bullpen arm. Yes, Phillips made a lot of bad moves, but he made a lot of good ones too. He got Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, Roberto Alomar, and Mike Hampton in deals, and almost got Ken Griffey Jr, back when he was considered the best player in baseball. He signed John Olerud, Robin Ventura, and Steve Traschel And yes, Steve Phillips put together a Mets team that got to the world series. He has superb "networking" skills, and was among the hardest working GMs in baseball.

Much as i agreed that it was time for a change, Steve Phillips was not the problem with the Mets. It was no secret that Phillips was an administrative GM, not a talent evaluator. When he was surrounded by baseball men, most notably Dave Wallace and Omar Minaya, the Mets were succesful. The guys who did know talent would advise Phillips, and Phillips would use his "skill sets" to go out and try and aquire the best ones possible in deals or on the market. And he was very often succesful at it (see above). This is exactly what needs to be done with Duquette. If he's surrounded by experienced knowledgable basemen savy executives and talent evaluators then there is no limit to how far his administrative, networking, and people skills can take him and the Mets. If he is'nt then he's left trying to make decisions that he is'nt really qualified to make. Overpaying for players, trading for ones he should. Just like what happened to Phillips.

The media has clung to this idea of "adopting a Yankees style organization" with a "superscout" that reports directly to ownership. Which is basically the media doing what it does best. Writing and re writing the same unintelligent, over generalized articles over and over again(there are exceptions fo course). To begin with, i hate the term "super scout". I don't really know why. It just bothers me. There are dozens of very succesful, highly respected talent evaluators around the majors. We just tried to bring one of them back into the fold in Omar Minaya. Gene Michaels is'nt any better, or any more highly regarded the rest of them, but because the Yankees have an owner whose insane ( and i'm not just repeating popular opinion here, i worked in his restaurant in Tampa, i've seen it first hand, he's insane.), and gets way, way to involved in baseball operations. You know what a Yankees style organization is? It's an organization where power is split between the GM and his staff in New York, and the crazy owner and his inner circle in Tampa. The two sides very often disagree, and when they do, there is conflict. The Yankees win despite Steinbrenner's management model, not because of it. What we need to do is what every other succesful organization does. Surround our GM with smart, experienced advisors, and then let him make his decisions based on there advice. Good owners hire smart men to run their team for them, then more smart men to help the first, and then let them do their job, only setting guidelines for them to do that job within. I would've been fine with giving Minaya a special title if it broad him aboard, and i was dissapointed when it didn't work out. So now we need to go find some other guys to fill that spot. Who they are will go a long way towards determining our team's future.


P.S.

The Mets are expected to officially anounce the hiring of Rick Peterson sometime in the next day or so. I for one am thrilled about this. If Peterson really is as good as Oakland's track record with pitchers has made him look, this could be the best aquisition we've made in years.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Excerpts from an article in the Star Ledger yesterday:


The Mets, who have made the talented Matsui as their top off-season target, are awaiting news on whom Matsui will pick as his agent, most likely Arn Tellem. Matsui has been speaking to Tellem and planned to address the Japanese media this morning about his impending decisions

The Mets are prepared to sign him as a shortstop and are under the impression that all they have to do is match the highest offer to get him. That impression comes from informal social interactions between Bruce Wilpon, Mets owner Fred Wilpon's bilingual son, and his wife, Yuki, who is friendly with Matsui's wife.

Of course, signing Matsui would mean moving Jose Reyes to second base, something members of the organization are evenly and "emotionally" divided over, according to a person familiar with the Mets' thinking. Some people think Matsui is good enough to make it worthwhile to move Reyes, and that Reyes is athletic enough to make the switch. Others feel his arm strength eventually would be jeopardized by a move to second. But if the Mets can get Matsui for a reasonable price, they would be willing to do it.

They can't really be this stupid can they? Unless Kaz Matsui comes over and pulls an Ichiro, something that i highly doubt, since Ichiro won what was it, seven straight batting titles in Japan? This would rank among the dumbest moves in the history of the Mets. The thought they'd move Reyes to second for anyone not named Alex Rodriguez or Nomar Garciaparra is almst incomprehensible. But for Kaz Matsui? Yeah, Ichiro has been great, but it's much more likely that Kaz Matsui's numbers will drop off a good bit, just as Hideki Matsui's did. And it's almost certain that his power numbers won't translate. Hideki did'nt come anywhere near his power numbers in Japan, and is'nt ever likely too. For one, the ballparks are bigger here. And while i mean no disrespect to the Japanese Leauges, they are essentially equal to AAA here. So they're willing moving Reyes, whose lightning on the basepaths, and has a superb range and arm, for Matsui, whose also said to be very fast, and great defensively. Except Reyes is 20, Matsui is 29, and Reyes has a great deal more offensive potential. For the love of god Fred, go get some of those "baseball savy executives" NOW, before whatever morons you have working for you now convince Duquette to actually pursue this.

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Sunday, October 19, 2003

2003 Mets Ramblings Minor Leauge Wrap up Part 3 - Awards

Ok, we've gone over the top prospects, and the organizational depth charts. Let's hand out some awards and honors for the Mets minor leauges.

Team of the Year

St Lucie- Florida State League

No question about this one. All of our big 3 prospects (Kazmir/Wright/Huber) spent at least part of the season on this team. So did Matt Peterson and Lenny DiNardo. This was an immensely talented team for A ball, and it's no wonder they won the FSL championship. The clinching game was won behind strong performances from Kazmir and Wright. Peterson and DiNardo blew through FSL hitters most of the year, and Huber embarrased opposing pitchers before all three moved up to AA. Wright finished 4th in the league in OBP, and 3rd in SLG. As a team they finished (hitters) first in stolen bases, fifth in walks, fifth lowest in strikeouts, fourth in BB/K ratio, fifth in home runs, (pitchers) tied for first in ERA, second in strikeouts, and tied for second in K/BB ratio, and fourth lowest in home runs allowed.

Biggest Rise - Stock

Aaron Baldiris

Essentially i asked myself whose stock went up the most. By stock, i mean there grade as a prospect and/or percieved ceiling. Last year Aaron Baldiris was a little known prospect, familiar only to those with an extremely active interest in following the Mets minor leauge players, or grading prospects. He did'nt even make alot of Mets top 10 prospect lists, and was almost always at the bottom on the ones he did make. Well, he's not really any better known now, except perhaps inside the prospect interested community, but after an outstanding year in the Sally League Baldiris won't be missing from any top 10 lists now. In fact he stands a decent chance of being no 4 or 5 in some of them(all will list Kazmir/Wright/Huber top 3, usually in that order). He is the same age as Wright, and seems just a small step behind him in his developement. I'd have consider Baldiris a B+/A- prospect right now. He handles the bat exceptionally well, and has superb plate discipline. A little power developement and he'll be a solid A.

Biggest Rise - Level

Daniel Garcia

No, his AAA numbers did'nt really justify the call up. No, he did'nt play particularly well with the big club. But the fact remains that Danny Garcia started the year in AA, and finished it playing for the Mets. Yes, Jeff Duncan did too. But Garcia's numbers were better, and he put them up while continuing to learn a new position.


Biggest Fall ( yes, i know this is hardly an award or honor)

Pat Strange

What happened to Pat Strange. Once a very promising prospect who made his way through the minors despite consistently being very young for his leauge, Strange has stalled terribly at AAA. Even after two mediocre years, Strange still made most Mets top 10 lists because of his youth and good stuff. His first go round in AAA was decent, and very good for a 22 year old, but in his second try Strange has regressed. I won't bother going over the numbers, let's just say that Strange got absolutely hammered and leave it at that. Still just 23, Strange has time, but his stock took a nose dive this season.


Breakout Performance of the Year

Mike Jacobs

There's any number of candidates for this award, depending on how you define "breakout performance". For my purposes, i did'nt include players who strong performances could be expected from. Scott Kazmir may have done little before this year, but based on what we know of him, we could have reasonably expected him to do well. Aaron Baldiris's stock went way up this year, but he was already on the bottom end of some top 10 lists last year. I am judging only players who came out of nowhere to have big years. And by this definition, there is little question that the award goes to Mike Jacobs. Jacobs has been in pro ball since '99, and before this season his career highlights were a .278 average in the Sally League and 38 xbh (11 HR) last year. He was'nt bad per say, but he was mediocre at best. And then the 2003 Eastern League season started and Jacobs just exploded. Now i've said before that this strikes me as a very possible fluke year, but still, .329/.376/.548 17 home runs, 36 doubles, 40 xbh%. That's tough to ignore. And he's just 22, so maybe he's developing, and this is'nt a fluke year.


Sleeper Prospect of the Year

Kevin Deaton

There are several under appreciated young players in our system, but most of them at least get some recognition. Almost noone has ever even heard of Kevin Deaton. I maintain more of an interest in these things then 99% of Mets fans out there, and i'd never heard of him in last week. Well, we should start to take notice. He led the NY Penn League in strike outs last year, and followed it up with another very strong year in the Sally League. For his pro career he's given up .88 H/IP, and .43 HR/9, has a K/9 of 8.79 and K/BB of 3.09 (282/91). All of that is just outstanding. I did some searching for more info on Deaton, here's what i came up with..

Deaton was an undrafted free agent signing in 2000. He would certainly have been drafted on talent, but it was assumed that Deaton would go to University of Florida, where he had a full scholarship to play football as an offensive lineman. He's about 6'4 250, making him very projectable in terms of velocity, and also giving his fastball a natural downward angle, always a good thing. Right now that fastball is a four seamer usually in the 90-92 range, but tops out at 94 or so. As he gets itno better pitchign condition, he should maintain his velocity better, and may even add a couple MPH. He compliments the fastball with a pretty good curveball and changeup, and he occasionally will drop his arm angle down to 3/4 to mix it up.

Given that Deaton has had to make the transition from offensive lineman to pitcher, his early success is very impressive. He was almost 300 pounds coming out of high school, and has had to work hard to get down to near 250. As he gets into better pitching shape and improves his stamina, he should only improve. He could be a real sleeper in our system, and another solid year in the FSL next season will establish him as a very promising prospect.

Silver Slugger Awards

Mike Jacobs (.219 IsoP , 54 xbh/17 HR, 81 RBI in 407 AB)
Craig Brazell (.180 IsoP, 42 xbh/17 HR, 76 RBI in 432 AB)
Edgar Rodriguez (.206 IsoP, 37 xbh/7 HR, 32 RBI in 251 AB)
David Wright ( .189 IsoP, 56 XBH/15 HR, 75 RBI in 466 AB)
Justin Huber (.230 IsoP, 24 xbh/9 HR, 36 RBI in 183 A+ AB and .159 IsoP 19 XBH/6 HR, 36 RBI in 193 AA AB)

The "I understand the strike zone" Award

(over all levels)

Marcos Scutaro 46 BB / 48 K (sigh)
Aaron Baldiris 65 BB / 68 K
David Wright 72 BB / 98 K
Andrew Salvo 40 BB / 44 K (traded to Chi Sox in the Alomar deal)
Jonathan Slack 77 BB / 107 K

Cy Young

Scott Kazmir

Was there any doubt? He dominated the Sally League, just like he had the NY Penn League, and earned a promotion to the FSL where he continued to pitch very well and won the deciding game of the FSL chamionship series. 145 K / 44 BB and 79 hits and 6 HR in 109.1 innings pitched over two levels. Or if you'd prefer, 11.93 K/9, 3.29 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP and .49 HR/9. Either way you look at it it's pretty damn impressive. Throw i nthe fact that he's 19 years old, and there's no doubt that he was the best pitcher in the system.

Positional Player of the Year

David Wright

This one is a little tougher. As i mentioned in part 1, there are a number of prospects in the system who had great years. By numbers alone, you'd probably have to go with Mike Jacobs, or Marcos Scutaro, but probably Jacobs because of Scutaro's limited at bats. But there's more to consider. Scutaro only had 244 AB in AAA, Jacobs put up his numbers in the friendly confines of Binghamton. Meanwhile, Aaron Baldiris had a great year. David Wright finished 4th in the FSL in OBP, 3rd in SLG, and 1st in doubles and extra base hits. And Justin Huber's numbers were better then Wright's in his 193 FSL at bats, and surely would have won him this award, but then he struggled at AA. So there's at least 5 candidates. But i'm going to eliminate Scutaro because of limited at bats, and because he's no longer on the team. So we're down to 4. Baldiris, Jacobs, Wright, and Huber. I could see a case for any of them, but personally, i'm going to eliminate Jacobs because of the friendly nature of his home park. Let's compare the other 3.

Aaron Baldiris

A(Sally): 393 AB .313 .396 .427 6 HR, 19 2B, 4 3B, 68 RBI, 51 BB, 55 K
A(NY Penn): 88 AB .364/.451/.466 5 2B, 2 3B, 18 RBI, 14 BB, 13 K

Justin Huber

A+ 183 AB .284/.370/.514 9 HR, 15 2B, 26 R, 36 RBI, 17 BB, 30K
AA 193 AB .264/.350/.425 6 HR, 13 2B, 16 R, 19 BB, 54 K

David Wright

A+ 466 AB .270/.369/.459 126 H, 69 R, 15 HR, 39 2B, 2 3B, 75 RBI, 72 BB, 98 K, 19 SB, 5 CS



I think the first thing we have to do is pick one of David Wright or Justin Huber, since their numbers are similar. It's an interesting comparison. They hit for about the same average. Looking at the extra base hits, and BB/K ratio, Wright certainly has the better plate discipline, and appears to have more power as well. But when they played at the same level Huber had the better numbers. In the end though, Huber's struggles at AA and Wright's continued strong performance at the FSL( again, 4th in OBP, 3rd in SLG, 1st in doubles and extra base hits) makes me go with Wright. So we've got Wright, mediocre batting average, great patience, very good power vs Aaron Baldiris, very good batting average, great patience, and mediocre power. A good sabermetician would tell me to take the guy with power and patience over the guy with batting average and patience, but it's not as simple as that. Patience is a wash, both of them have great plate discipline. Baldiris has the higher OBP, and the better BB/K rate, because he strikes out alot less then Wright. And even with the FSL supressing numbers, he clearly handles the bat better, i.e his higher batting average. But Wright clearly has more power. And he clearly has more power playing in a leauge that skews power numbers downward. So the question becomes, how much more power does Wright have, right now. I say right now, because this is not a comparison between Wright and Baldiris as prospects, merely a question of which was better this year. Let's refer to the best way of comparing players across leauges that i can think of(bless you baseball prospectus).

Baldiris .314 EqA, 76.0 RARP, .209 MjEqA
Wright.314 EqA, 95.1 RARP, .224 MjEqA

Interestingly enough, they have the exact same EqA, which of course adjusts for league offensive level, home park, and pitching. So respective to there leauge's level of play, the parks the played in, and the pitching they faced, Baldiris and Wright were equally valuable. I think that has to give the edge to Wright, because of course he's a level ahead, and they are the same age. This is reflected in there MjEqA's, where Wright has the 15 point edge. So i'm going to with Wright, because they performed at essentially the same level, but Wright did it at a higher level of play.


That concludes our minor leauge wrap up. I'll be covering the major leaugers next.


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Thursday, October 16, 2003

test 2 Archives

Um.. just ignore these :)
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test Archives
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Monday, October 13, 2003

I know i'm a little bit late on this one, i got behind in the papers with the playoffs and the start of my Islander's season. But let me join Steve over at the Kranepool Society by saying that it will be a cold day in hell when Steinbrenner lets Brian Cashman walk off to become GM of the Mets.

As to the Gm situation, my worst nightmare is unfolding. Instead of just handing the job to Duquette, the Mets go through a lengthy search and interview process and the name Paul DePodesta never comes up. The papers would have you believe that Gerry Hunsicker is the favorite now, and Duquette will step back into an assistant role. This scares me a little bit. Hunsicker has been very succesful in Houston, but to quote an unamed Post source "Gerry is an administrator, and i thought they were looking for an evaluator". My sentiments exactly. If you want to bring back someone from the organization, hire Omar Minaya. He was our assitant GM/director of international scouting just two years ago ya know. I also don't buy for a minute that Duquette would step back into an assistant role. Maybe at first, to maintan his presence in the baseball community, and be the good soldier. But you know he's looking to step into the big chair somewhere else the first chance he gets, especially after being snubbed by the Wilpons.

I could live with Omar Minaya as the next GM, but at this point i won't be particularly happy with anyone outside of Jim Duquette or Paul DePodesta. DePodesta is just a personal view. He's the next of the Beane/Ricciardi/Epstein type GM. So i'd love to see him come run the Mets. But Duquette has earned this job. Again, an unamed GM put it best in the Post "Did he not prove himself in four months?" C'mon Wilpon, this guy has been groomed for this job. You did'nt let him interview with the Dodgers. THE DODGERS, Fred. A job that guys who are already GMs dream of. He's been working with your son, who you have granted a huge role in the company, for years. He knows the team, he knows the organization, he was in charge of our entire minor leauge system. He's been our GM for four months, and in that time he pulled off the trade of 3 overpaid veterans, finally got the Piazza to first move started, and got good reviews all around from the baseball community. What more do you want?
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Sunday, October 12, 2003

2003 Mets Ramblings Minor leauge Wrap-up Part 2

In today's article i'm going to do our organization depth chart. Keep in mind that these are not a down the levels list of people playing each position. Obvious "organizational roster fillers", and prospects who have performed very poorly are not included, and in most cases i've tried to put the lists together in order of future potential, not current level of play. Their are two notable exceptions. Relief pitchers, where there are just to many names to try and start putting into any order, unless i decide to devote an entire article or two to it at some point in the future. And in the cases where we have young players already established in the majors, they are included first on all lists because of their presence in the big leauges already. I do not think, for instance, that Ty Wigginton has greater potential then David Wright. All positions will be followed by a grade from me on both quality and depth, and some comments.

Catcher

Jason Phillips
Justin Huber
Mike Jacobs

Quality A+
Depth A

I was real easy on the catcher grading, because of the position. At most positions, these grades would be a bit lower. But you just don't find many catchers who can hit. The oldest of the group, Phillips, is just 26, has a very good minor leauge track record, superb plate discipline, and one succesful major leauge season under his belt. Justin Huber is perhaps the third best catching prospect in baseball ( Joe Mauer clearly being the best, and then i think most people would rank it Victor Martinez 2, Huber 3). Mike Jacobs huge 2003 strikes me as a possible fluke season, but for now he makes 3 catchers in our system who enjoyed excellent offensive seasons. And if nothing else, his presence in AAA will keep the pressure off of Huber to advance quickly, with Jacobs coming off a big year. You just are'nt going to find many organizations with two young catchers that can definately hit, or one that can hit as well as Huber, or three who enjoyed seasons anywhere near as good as these three. So i stand by my grades. If Huber lives up to his potential, he eventually becomes no 1 on the depth chart, with Phillips probably being moved back to 1st (post Piazza) or to a corner outfield spot.

1st Base

Craig Brazell

Quality C+
Depth F

The rest of the first basemen are just roster fillers, Brazell is the only player in the system currently at first base that has any chance of being a productive major leauger. So the quality grade is what i see Brazell as, a C+ prospect. This won't be the first time i've said this. Craig Brazell can definately hit, and he's defiantely got power, but he has to learn a ball from a strike. He could make a good no 5-7 hitter if he continues along his current path, but he's probably not going to do that unless his plate discipline improves to something beyond awful. Yes, i say that about every minor leauger who does'nt take walks. And certainly, there are some succesful major leauge hitters that have awful BB/K ratios. But they are few and far between. The overwhelming majority of minor leaugers that can't control the strike zone show the effects as they get to higher levels. If Brazell steps into AAA next year, and once again hits .290 with power, then maybe i'll start to believe that he is one of the exceptions. Until then, i think he'll be a pretty good pinch hitter, but is'nt very likely to contribute to a good team on an everyday basis.

Second Base

Victor Diaz
Danny Garcia
Ty Wigginton
Joe Jianetti

Quality B-
Depth A -

Marco Scutaro would've made those grades a B and an A +, but he's in Oakland now. Either way, Mets brass is looking to Victor Diaz to be second basemen of the future. Garcia has probably been labeled as a utility man, but his minor leauge numbers suggest a pretty decent hitter for a second basemen. He could have value to us in center field, his natural position, given our lack of viable options there in 2004. Wigginton is probably staying at third at this point, but you never know how these things work out, and if he makes some adjustments, and starts hitting adequately again, he could wind up back at second. Say if David Wright is ready for the majors and we still don't have an answer at second. Jianetti struggled in the FSL this year, went back to Capital City and put up good numbers. You never want to see a player go back a level, but he was 21 all season, 22 next, so he still has time. None of them are particularly great prospects. Diaz is the best at a B/B+, But there's 3 guys there who are all likely to be at least major leauge servicable, and a fourth with potential. Very good depth for a middle infield spot.

Shortstop

Jose Reyes
Chase Lambin
Chris Basak

Quality A
Depth D+

Reyes by himself makes the quality grade an A. Depth recieves a poor grade because neither Basak or Lambin are much of a prospect. Basak does'nt have a good track record, and only gets mentioned because of a decent year (for a shortstop) in Binghamton. Lambin has done well in both his pro years, but he was 23 in the Sally Leauge, and 24 this year. Good FSL numbers are always impressive, but he was too old for the leauge. Another good year in Binghamton, with a late season call up to AAA and he'll become a real prospect.

Third Base

Ty Wigginton
David Wright
Aaron Baldiris
Rodney Nye

Quality A
Depth A+

Third base is a real strength in the Mets system right now. Wigginton is established there right now, and even with his massive late season slump, he was near the leauge average for third basemen. A few adjustmetns to get back to his early season levels, and he's a valuable player. David Wright is a top level prospect. He was 4th in OBP and 3rd in slugging in the FSL this year. He's shown excellent plate discipline, good power, and is a very projectable hitter. Baldiris had a great year in the Sally Leauge. He has'nt shown alot of power yet, but handles the bat extremely well and also has superb plate discipline. Nye earned his way back on the list with a huge year in Binghamton. He was outstanding in his first two pro years, but failed twice in AA before this season. Nye was 26 this year, far too old for the leauge, so don't expect to hear his name anytime soon. But the numbers in Binghamton this year are so good he has to make the list. I almost gave out a double A+ here, but decided that i'd like to see a good year from Baldiris in the FSL before grading him as an A- or better prospect. So i left quality at A, to balance out the A+ prospect (Wright), and the two B's (Wigginton/Baldiris). Excellent Depth.

Outfield

Ya.... the outfield, let's see. The outfield is more or less devoid of prospects. There's Lastings Milledge, but we know nothing about him. Matt Watson was decent, but he's in Oakland now also. But in the interests of this article, i'll attempt to sort through a lot of random names to come up with a few who might be decent.

Timo Perez
Jeff Duncan
Ron Acuna
Forrest Lawson
Wayne Lydon
Bobby Malek
Lastings Milledge

Quality D
Depth D+

I was tempted to give an F here in quality, but the last four i listed have all performed reasonably well so far in there minor leauge careers, and all of them are 22-23. Of course, that's about all i can tell you about any of them, because none are established prospects, and there just is'nt any information available on them beyond their stats. Unless maybe you've got a pay source/book that does bios on the Mets top 100 prospects. I rely on free internet material. So i won't give out an F, because at least one of those guys will probably wind up being decent. The depth could be worse, but there is'nt a single established outfield prospect in the system, and even searching hard for anyone whose performed at a decent level, i could only come up with what amounts to about one per level. And of course there are three outfield spots.

Starting Pitchers

Jae Weong Seo
Aaron Heilman
Scott Kazmir
Matt Peterson
Lenny DiNardo
Jeremy Griffiths
Mike Bacsik
Pat Strange
Kevin Deaton
David Mattox
Omar Anez
Joselo Diaz

Quality A
Depth A

Obviously Kazmir has the most potential of all the pitchers, Seo and Heilman are listed first because they're already in the majors, even if Heilman pitched poorly. You can basically place the last 4 in any order you'd like. I don't claim to have enough information to make informed judgements on where they'd rank. Those are just a list of guys with good track records in age appropriate competition. But the first five is a real solid line up of pitching prospects. Seo impressed this year, Heilman still has the make up and track record of a very good pitcher, Kazmir might be the best pitching prospect in baseball, Peterson and DiNardo have both been very good so far. Both could develope into very good no 2/3 starters. If Peterson's change-up and control continue to improve, he could even turn into a borderline no 1. Looking past those guys, Jeremy Griffiths pitched real well at AAA, and should be better then he was in the majors if given the chance. Bascik and Strange have both fallen way off, to the point where i'd say either contributing to the Mets as a starting pitcher is unlikely. But they could wind up as good relief pitchers. The last four are as i said, just guys with good track records at age appropriate competition. What little i know about them; Kevin Deaton led the NY Penn Leauge in strikeouts last year, and continued his success with another excellent year in the Sally Leauge. Omar Anez throws hard. His weakness is supposed to be control, but the walk rates in his pro career are fine. Joselo Diaz has a great arm, but control is definately his problem. He probably projects as a reliever, but i threw him on there because if he gets the walks under control, he will be given the chance to start.

All things considered, i think this has to be considered another organizational strength. Led by the unlimited potential of Kazmir, we're deep in quality pitching prospects.

Relief Pitchers

Grant Roberts
Pedro Feliciano
Jamie Cerda
Dan Wheeler
Jason Anderson
Royce Ring
Edwin Almonte
P.J. Bevis
Orber Moreno
Tyler Yates
Joselo Diaz
Kole Strayhorn
Anderson Garcia
Yunior Cabrera
Ryan Olson

Quality B-
Depth A+

I could see a higher grade for quality, it really depends on how you look at it. On the one hand, Ring is the only one whose really a B+ or better prospect. He's also the only one that projects to be something not very replacable. All the other names at the top of the list can be good pitchers, but none really stand out. I can see the argument for a higher grade though, because there are some very very good AAA numbers amongst the group, and of course almost every bullpen pitcher is replaceable. Alot of them will probably be good, but none really project to be dominant, probably not even Ring, whose value comes from being a lefty closer. So i went with the B-. The whole wealth of good track records and power arms is reflected in the A+ for depth. Finding bullpen arms should'nt be a problem for awhile.

As for trying to determine who are keepers amongst that long list of names, like i said, that would be a very lengthy article in itself. So i'm not even going to ry and address that issue here. Let's just say that out of the group at the top of the list, we should have at least two or three good relievers. If your interested in reading more, Avkash covers two of them in his latest article. Just click the link on my sidebar.


That wraps up part 2 of the minor leauge wrap up. Part 3 coming soon.


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2003 Mets Ramblings Minor Leauge Wrap-up Part 1

The minor leauge system this year was almost the exact opposite of the major leauge team. While everything that could go wrong did in the big leauges, just about everything went perfect down on the farm. The list of great years by Mets top prospects is a long one. Reyes, Huber, Wright, Kazmir, Dinardo, Peterson, Baldiris, Ring, Diaz. Jae Weong Seo and Jason Phillips both had excellent rookie years. Of all our big prospects only Aaron Heilman failed to impress. I've talked extensively about Reyes/Wright/Huber/Kazmir extensively on this site. Let's look at the rest of the minor leaugers i mentioned.

Lenny DiNardo

A+: 85 IP, 64 H 93 K, 14 BB, 1 HR, 2.01 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
AA : 40 IP, 35 H, 36 K, 13 BB, 3 HR, 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

DiNardo is a 24 year old left hander with an 88-90 MPH fastball, a hard slider and a good changeup. Already 24 (23 for most fo this seasoN), he'll need to make his way quickly through the system or risk falling off prospect charts. He certainly got off to a good start this year, tearing through the FSL. The numbers are amazing, but from a 24 year old in the extremely pitcher friendly leauge, we should'nt get too carried away. His 40 innings in hitter friendly Binghamton were pretty good. I'm not sure whether or not to be concerned about his walk rate doubling. On the surface, that never seems like a good thing, but there are two things to consider here. First, as a pitcher advances into the high minors they face better, more selective hitters. Second, 13 walks in 40 innings is 2.92 BB/9, and he struck out 36 guys for a 2.57 K/BB. Both are very strong numbers. So as long as the walk rate does'nt increase much further, it does'nt really worry me. DiNardo does'nt have overpowering stuff, but he's a lefty with three good pitches, and apparently very good control. Unfortunately scouting reports, or at least scouting reports online, almost never differentiate between fastballs. So i don't know whether he throws a four seamer, or a two seamer, or both. But my guess would be that if he does'nt throw a cutter, some smart person will teach him one at some point. Or should anyway. An 88-90 MPH fastball/cutter, a good breaking pitching, and a good change up is a solid arsenal for a left hander. Andy Pettite and Al Leiter, just to name two, have done pretty well for themselves with it.

This was a great year for Dinardo. He'll need another next year to be in AAA by his age 25 season, at which point we'll know a lot more about him. Being a lefty with good control, and already developed breaking/offspeed stuff makes him pretty projectable. We need to see him against more age appropriate competition though.

Mathew Peterson

A+: 84 IP, 65 H, 73 K, 24 BB, 1.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
AA: 31.1 IP, 29 H, 23 K, 20 BB 3.45 ERA, 1.56 WHIP

Peterson had a very similar season as DiNardo. He dominated the FSL, and moved up to the eastern leauge where he pitched well in limited innings, but saw his walk rate double. And in this case, 20 walks in 31 1/3 inning is alot. It also is nearly as many batters as he struck out. So it can't be written off like DiNardo's, but in 31 innings, it's not really enough to worry me yet. DiNardo pitched a bit better then Peterson did, but Peterson was only 21 all season. enough with the comparison though. Peterson is a 6-5 rightie with a 92-95 MPH fastball that has good downward movement, and a good curve. His changeup improved thsi year but still needs more refinment. Given his age, his progress so far is excellent. If he can turn the changeup into a plus pitch that he can throw for strikes, he can be very dangerous.

Aaron Baldiris

A: 393 AB .313 .396 .427 6 HR, 19 2B, 4 3B, 68 RBI, 51 BB, 55 K

As David Wright garners all the attention from scouts/prospect analysts/bloggers(myself included), Aaron Baldiris has quietly established himself as a very good third base prsopect. He's shown good defense, good contact, and superb plate discipline. He's very clearly behind David Wright on the organizational depth chart, but a good year in the FSL, along with a bit of power developement and Baldiris will start to recieve some attention.

Royce Ring

AA: 35.2 IP, 33 H, 44 K, 14 BB, 1 HR, 2.52 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
AA: 21.2 IP, 13 H, 18 K, 11 BB, 2 HR 1.66 ERA, 1.10 WHIP

Our lefty closer prospect, aquired in the Roberto Alomar deal. It's hard to evaluate closer's because of the small sample sizes involved. Since it was'nt a level change, i don't see any point in evaluating his performance for Chicago and us seperately. But putting his season together, he's got a 2.23 ERA, 2.48 K/BB, .48 HR/9, and a 1.26 WHIP in 56 1/3 innings. The WHIP could come down just a little, but the rest of the numbers are outstanding. Of course, the real test of any lefty closer, or any non situational lefty reliever, is their ability to get righties out. A positive sign here, as righties hit just .234 against Ring this year. Their were some reports that his velocity is really in the 88-90 range, and not 92-94, and of course, this makes a big difference in his ceiling. 92-94 makes him a power lefty closer. 88-90 and he probably winds up as a 7th/8th guy. Not alot of closers succeed without good fastballs. There are some of course, but not many. John Sickels addressed the qustions of Ring's velocity and said that he had heard of Ring being clocked in the 88-90 range, but is reluctant to draw conclusions without first hand evidence (he explains himself further, i'm just paraphrasing), and all he can really say is that when he saw Ring pitch in person he clokced him in the 92-94 range. So for now let's assume that Ring does throw 92-94. He should start next year in AAA, and a good performance could have him in Shea as soon as the second half of next season.

Victor Diaz

AA: 316 AB .291 .353 .462 10 HR, 20 2B, 2 3B, 54 RBI, 27 BB, 60 K
AA: 175 AB .354 .382 .520 6 HR, 11 2B, 23 RBI, 8 BB, 32 K,

Diaz, a second basemen, obviously handles the bat well. He hits for contact, and is developing some power. Mets brass is hoping he is teh second basemen of the future. And he may well be if he keeps hitting like this. Two words though. Plate discipline. The 35/92 BB/K needs to improve. Either the walks have to go up, or the strike outs have to come down, or it will very likely start to hurt him. Of course he could keep hitting like this without improving his plate discipline, but the odds are'nt in his favor. Can't argue with the production so far though.


Still counting Reyes and Heilman as prospects, that's 9/10 in great year's from our B/B+ or better prospects(i suppose you could make arguments for some other prospects eing B/B+, i was pretty strict in my grading). Jeremy Griffiths, Orber Moreno, Pedro Feliciano, Jason Anderson and Jamie Cerda all pitched very well in AAA. Of course they all pitched badly in Shea except for Feliciano, but in very limited innings, and we can expect at least a couple of good of good relievers to develope amongst the group. Jose Diaz, the power arm aquired from the Dodgers, walks to many guys, but has been absolutely dominant otherwise.

Not everything went perfect of course. Prentice Redman did'nt develope. Neither did Craig Brazell, who could be a great hitter if he ever learned a ball from a strike. Pat Strange regressed. But overall this year was outstanding. Nothing is ever going to be completely perfect. In reality, this is the type of minor leauge season executives dream off. All the top level prospects were great. Organizational depth improved a great deal, with the obvious exception of the outfield. We found a young pitcher and catcher who could be a part of our future. Alot more things went right then wrong. We may suck right now, but this year was definately a big step towards our future success.



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Friday, October 10, 2003

Another quick hit.

I'm sure this comes as no shock to any of you, but i am definately on the Rick Peterson bandwagon. In fact, i think he's the best aquistion the Mets could make this offseason towards long term success. Roll out the red carpet, lay down the cash, and get it done. Hell, bring his kid brother up for a few September games. I don't care, just sign him.
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I got an email from Avkash today, telling me he'd started a new Mets Blog (link is up to the left). I'm always interested in hearing what he's got to say, so i went to check it out....

And my heart sank as i read that Oakland had claimed Marco Scutaro off of waivers. I'm not going to bother rehashing everything Avkash said, you can go read it there for yourself, but i don't think i need to tell you that this is the first move by the Duke that i really do not like. Superb AAA stats, 4.1 P/PA in the majors. The Mets did'nt recognize what they had, that being a young cheap middle infielder likely to be productive in a major leage line up if given the chance. Oakland did, and i suspect that we'll see Scutaro enjoy success there.
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Thursday, October 09, 2003

Sorry folks, it's midterm week, so short posts are all i've been able to get up. Last one is today though, so i'll get back to posting soon. My minor leauge wrap up will be up i nthe near future
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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Unbelievable. Forget about the Curse of the Bambino, it's Oakland that's cursed. 4 years in a row they've had a chance to advance to the LCS, 4 years in a row they've failed. In the last 3 years they've been up 2-0, 2-1, and 2-0 in their division series, and collapsed every year. This year is worst of all, as Oakland gave away 2 runs on little leauge level baserunning mistakes. If Jeremy Giambi slides, that game was only tied. Either of the two runs given away in this year's game 3 would have won the game. Then in game 4 Keith Foulke, whose been outstanding this year, comes in for a 6 out save and does'nt even get through the 8th, blowing a 4-3 lead. Oakland made a great effort in Game 5, and almost pulled off a dramatic comeback, but this series never should have gotten here. Derek Lowe was just nasty tonight, the Oakland lefties never had a chance against that fastball that runs back over the plate. I don't really know what to call it, but it's the pitch you've been watching Maddux get lefties out on for years. It's an incredibly tough pitch on lefties, and Lowe was throwing it as well as anyone i've ever seen.

Well, let's see. I took Boston in 5, and Yanks in 4, whcih is exactly what i predicted in the AL. Of course, i pronounced Boston dead when they were down 2-0 and said they would hold Pedro till a possible game 5, but hey, my initial prediction was right. Over in the National Leauge, i was right about Cubs in 5, but took the Giants over the Marlins. Florida was the deeper team, which i mentioned, but i thought Bonds and Schmidt would be too much. Bonds was'nt much of a factor except for being on first base alot, and it seems like injury was behind Schmidt not going in game 4, as he went for surgery immediately following the series. Depth and youth won out, with a big hand from Pudge Rodriguez coming up huge two games in a row.

My Cubbies-Sox World Series prediction is still a possibility, and i bet Bud Selig and the rest of the MLB brass are just drooling over the idea of it. As well they should. It would no doubt be the highest rated World Series in years. And it would be an absolute media frenzy. I dare say the build up and coverage to a Cubs-Sox world series would rival that of the Super Bowl. No other combination could even compare to that , but Yankees-Cubs would probably draw a good rating as well. Boston-Florida would get a boost from the New England audience, but other then that would'nt have a whole lot of appeal, and Yankees-Marlins ratings would be awful.

Anyway, i have midterms tommorow and have to get back to studying. If i'm lucky i might get something up before the NLCS starts tommorow night, but if not, i like the Cubbies in 6 and Boston in 7.
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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Just learned something that made me really happy.

I was reading through yesterday's paper and it had a small article on Bobby Thompson's legendary home run off Ralph Branca. I think it's still the most famous play in baseball history, and probably the most famous call in baseball history as well, as Russ Hodges screamed out " The Giants win the Pennant, The Giants Win the Pennant". It capped a dramatic 13 and a half game comeback by the Giants in what might have been the most heatedd rivalry in American sports at the time. Anyway, you know all this. The point of this is that the article was in the paper because yesterday was October 3rd, the anniversary of Thompson's home run. Now i'm sure that somewhere along the way i heard or read that Thompson/Branca was on October 3rd, but until now it never stuck with me. October 3rd happens to be my birthday. No, i was'nt alive then, nor am i a Giants fan, but for a strange reason i really enjoy knowing that i was born 30 years to the day after "the shot heard round the world"
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Saturday, October 04, 2003

The Marlins closed out the Giants today, and though i have'nt seen an official announcement, you've gota think Pudge is the series MVP.

I thought this series would be closer then alot of people, because the Marlins are better then most people realize, until now anyway. But in a short series, i thought Schmidt and Bonds would be too much. I was wrong. Anyone who picked the Phish in this one deserves alot of credit.

What the hell was in the air in Boston tonight? First, on a weak ball to the left side, Eric Byrnes charged home from third. Lowe made an awkward throw, and the ball went behind Varitek to the back stop. Byrnes and Varitek collided at the plate, and Byrnes tripped hard over Variteks outstretched leg, barely missing the plate as he did. Byrnes got up, angrily shoved Varitek, and begin limping around in pain. Varitek tracked down the ball, ran after Byrnes, and tagged him out.

If that were'nt strange enough, on the next play Nomar let a sharp grounder go under his glove. One Oakland run came across to score, and the third base coach waved Tejada around. As Tejada rounded the bag, he collided with Sox third basemen Bill Mueller. The third base umpire pointed at Mueller, signalling the interference, but did not stop the play. Tejada first continued home, but then slowed to a stop. The throw came home and Varitek tagged Tejada, who much to his surprise, was called out. This resulted in a meeting of all the umpires for about 5 minutes, and another 5 minutes of Ken Macha yelling at them after the decision was made that Tejada was out because it was in doubt whether or not he would have scored after the interference. Or something like that. The rule on this says that " a player who attempts to advance bases after an interference call in which the ball is not ruled dead does so at his own peril, and is able to be tagged out as normal" I'm sure the wording is'nt exactly perfect, but that's the gist of what the umpires supervisor that ESPN interviewed in the stands said.

Rober Fick deserves to be suspended. Playing hard is one thing. Playing hard is charging into the catcher at home plate to try and knock the ball loose for the game winning run. It is not deliberately reaching your arm out to chop at the glove/wrist of the first basemen when your out by a couple of steps. Which is exactly what Robert Fick did. After watching it in slow motion several times, there was no doubt to myself, the Fox announcers, and hopefully the millions of other people watching the game that this was not an accidental collision. After Karros caught the ball, Fick clearly extended his arm out and hacked at Karros's wrist/glove. The ball comes loose, Fick is called safe and Karros grabs his wrist in pain. Luckily the home plate umpire had a good view of the play, and called Fick out, ruling that the catch was already made and the force out established. The Fox announcer was dead on on this one. "A collision at the plate is one thing. You don't try and hit someone on a routine play at first base. You just don't do that". No, you dont. Unless your a scumbag.








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I'd like to welcome Eric Simon to the world of blogging. He's just started the new SaberMets Blog. I've got a link up to the left, go check it out.
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Friday, October 03, 2003

I just read this, and had to post it..

Grady Little has decided that Pedro will be held until Game 5, assuming of course there is a game 5, something that is becoming increasingly unlikely. If there's even a game 4, John Burkett will start.

So let me get this straight. The Red Sox are down 2-0, they need to win 3 straight. And if they get to game 4 they are going to throw John Burkett vs Tim Hudson? When Pedro can go on 3 days rest? Hmmm.. the most dominant starter in baseball on short rest, or the less then mediocre (to put it nicely) John Burkett. Not a tough choice folks.

And the curse will live another year...


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