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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Warren Spahn (April 23, 1921 - Nov 25, 2003)

Tonight i drank a toast to the winningest pitcher of the live ball era. Two actually, because the first just didn't seem like enough for Warren Spahn. One of the handful of greatest pitchers to ever grace the mound in our beloved game. And one of the two greatest lefties ever (see Koufax, Sandy). His accomplishments can not be described as anything less then extraordinary, amazing, or any other superlatives one could name. Here are just a few:

363 career victories, 382 complete games, 63 shutouts, 2583 strikeouts, 3.09 career ERA in 5243.2 innings, and career ERA+ of 118.

From 1946-1958 Spahn had an ERA + above 100 ever year, and it was above 115 in every year but 1948. Then, after dipping to 98 in 1960, Spahn came back with three straight years of a 124 ERA+. That's almost two decades of excellence.

Thirteen 20 win seasons.

Eleven straight years with 17 or more wins. And it would have been 17 straight years with at least 15 wins if not for a 14 win season in 1952.

Winningest left handed pitcher ever.



All of that is incredible, and it of course is what makes him one of the greatest pitchers ever. None of it though, can sum up Warren Spahn the pitcher like July 2, 1963. On that day 15,921 fans showed up to see the Giant's Juan Marichal face Warren Spahn and his Milwaukee Braves. They were probably expecting a good game based on the pitching matchup, but little did these 16,000 people know that they would witness what was perhaps the greatest baseball game ever played. For sixteen (16!!) scoreless innings, Spahn and Marichal matched each other pitch for pitch. It must have seemed as if there were two robots on the mound, retiring batter after batter, and never seeming to tire. Finally the Giants broke through in the bottom of the 16th on a solo home run by who else, Willie Mays. When it was all over two pitchers had the staggering pitch totals of 201 for Spahn and 227 for Marichal. Never again will anything like that be seen.

What could possibly be more amazing then two pitchers throwing sixteen scoreless innings you ask? How about the fact that Warren Spahn was 42 years old when he did that.


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Monday, November 24, 2003

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus, usually one of the best baseball writers around, recently wrote the following:

Honestly, I think the A's traded the wrong left-hander. Lilly is a decent
pitcher who is unlikely to be a star, and well-suited to the big outfield in
Oakland. He's not very highly regarded, which you can probably tell by his
being dealt straight up for Bobby Kielty. The A's got in the trade about
what Lilly is worth.

The key in trading, though, is to swap a player whose perceived value is
greater than his actual value, taking advantage of that gap to come out of a
trade with more talent than you had before. Right now, there are few players
in the game for whom the gap between perception and reality is greater than
Barry Zito. Zito is just one year removed from a Cy Young Award, but he's
been regressing ever since his best year, which was actually 2001.


Year W-L ERA IP BB/9 K/9 K/BB HR/9
-----------------------------------------------------
2000 7-4 2.72 92.2 4.37 7.58 1.73 0.58
2001 17-8 3.49 214.1 3.36 8.61 2.56 0.76
2002 23-5 2.75 229.1 3.06 7.14 2.33 0.94
2003 14-12 3.30 231.2 3.42 5.67 1.66 0.74


Pull away the Cy Young Award, the association with a great team and two
other great starting pitchers, and the image of the flaky left-hander that
doesn't get bothered by anything, and what you have is a pitcher who is
heavily dependent on his defense and his ballpark, both of which have kept
Zito's ERA down as his core stats regress. Subjectively, Zito has thrown a
ton of pitches from ages 23-25, many of them sharp-breaking, joint-rending
curveballs. He's the worst of the big three pitchers, but the only one with
a gaudy trophy on the mantle. He's marketable, personable, and signed
through 2006 at a total of about $16.5 million.
Zito is a mid-rotation starter with an ace's reputation. Trading him in the
right deal--and the right deal would almost certainly be available--would be
the kind of bold move that would solidify the team's spot atop the AL West
for years to come. Think the Mets wouldn't have to consider a Zito-for-Jose
Reyes trade? The Yankees are falling all over themselves to deal Nick
Johnson and Alfonso Soriano this winter. Either would improve the A's;
getting both--and would you put it past George Steinbrenner to trade
both?--would make them a truly great team. Zito is a SoCal guy; both the
Angels and Dodgers have good prospects within their system and new owners
dying to be loved. The Cubs want a left-hander and appear to have no use for
Juan Cruz or Hee Seop Choi.

There are any number of possibilities, all available because Zito has a
superstar's name and a fourth-year player's price tag. What makes a move
like this sensible is that Zito isn't likely to continue being one of the
league's top pitchers, and I have to believe a performance-conscious
braintrust like the A's have sees the degradation in his performance and
would concur with that idea. All they need to do is leverage that knowledge.


With Lilly gone, the A's have probably sealed off this route, but perhaps
not. After all, they have Rich Harden, Justin Duchscherer and Mike Wood
available right now, and Joe Blanton could be ready by midseason. Patching
the hole left by Zito's absence would likely only be a problem for a short
time, and the potential benefits, when you consider Zito's market value, are
huge.




I've got alot of respect for Joe Sheehan, and the work he does, but in the
case, he's very, very wrong. To begin with, he's guilty of
something a great number of writers do from time to time. Sheehan makes it
look like 2001 is Zito's best year. Because for the purpose of his article,
it's real easy to say that Zito had his best year in 2001 and has been
declining since. The problem with this is that 2001 was not Zito's best
year, unless you live in bizzarro world. I like sabermetrics, which means i
look at strike out and walk rates alot. And yes, by those stats 2001 was
Zito's best year. But strike outs and walks are'nt everything folks. They're
just good indicators of success or failure, they do not determine it.
Sometimes sabermetric minded writers are too quick to focus only onthe
indicators, and not on the actual performance. As is typical in situations
when someone is trying to come to a certain conclusion, Sheehan shows only
the stats which help him. He leaves out the rest of Zito's numbers.

2001: 214.1 IP, 184 H, 83 ER, 18 HR, 30 2B, 80 BB, 205 K, 3.49 ERA, 1.23
WHIP, 125 ERA+, 8.61 K/9, 2.56 K/BB, .76 HR/9, .230/.307/.345 against.

2002: 229.1 IP, 182 H, 70 ER, 24 HR, 24 2B, 78 BB, 182 K, 2.75 ERA, 1.13
WHIP, 169 ERA+, 7.14 K/9, 2.33 K/BB, .94 HR/9, .218/.286/.340

In 2002 Zito pitched 15 more innings. In those 15 more innings he gaveup 2
less hits, 13 less earned runs, and walked two less batters. He gave up 6
more home runs, but 6 less doubles, and did strike out 23 less batters in 15
more innings. His ERA was three quarters of a run lower in 2002. It was 69
% better then the leauge ERA in 2002, 25 % better in 2001. His WHIP was .10
lower. In 2002 opponents hit for lower Avg/OBP/SLG then in 2001. Their
IsoP was 7 points higher, which is essentially meaningless.

Let's review. In 2002 Zito pitched 15 more innings. He gave up less hits
and earned runs, had a better ERA, a better ERA compared to the league, a
lower WHIP, and held opposing batters to lower numbers. The only way in
which Zito was worse in 2002 then 2001 was that he struck out one and a half
less batters per game, and 6 doubles turned into home runs. He actually
gave up one less extra base hit in 2002 ( 4 triples in 2001, 3 in 2002), in
15 more innings.

Barry Zito was a much, much better pitcher in 2002 then in 2001. That's not
my opinion, that's a fact. By any objective measure 2002 was the better
year. There's simply no way to argue that one and a half less strike outs
per 9 innings, and 6 doubles getting over the wall out weighs being a good
deal better in every other conceivable way that a pitcher can be. I can't
imagine that Sheehan actually believes this. Even the most sabermetric
minded person can't be that blinded by strike out and home runs rates that
they can ignore every other statistic, can they? More likely, Sheehan knows
his case is faulty, but makes it anyway because it suits his article, and
he's pobably got a deadline, like most professional writers do.

What about his other claim? That Zito is a pitcher aided greatly by his
defense and his ballpark. Well, i don't know any great way of measuring
team defense, but as for the home park, let's look at his splits.

Three Year Average (2001-2003)

Home: 322 IP, 270 H, 111 ER, 31 HR, 3.10 ERA, .227 Avg against
Away: 353.1 IP, 282 H, 127 ER, 30 HR, 3.24 ERA .218 Avg against

32 more innings, an ERA difference of .14, a lower opponents average and less home runs on the road. So where's this huge advantage he's getting
fromhis home park? Rob Neyer wrote recently that just because a pitcher isn't pitching better at home (assuming home is a pitcher's park, and actually he wrote this about hitters, but it would have to apply to pitching too) doesn't mean his home park isn't helping him. It means that without the help of his home park, the home numbers would be worse then they are. But where's the logic in this? If Zito's home numbers are helped as much as some claim by Network Associates Collisseum, that would mean that he's actually a much worse pitcher at home then on the road, because his road numbers are just as good as his home numbers. And wouldn't that necessarily mean that the park is actually hurting Zito? If the home numbers being in line with his road numbers is only a factor of his home park, and without the advantage he gets from his home park they'd be a good deal worse then the road numbers, then Zito is obviously a better pitcher on the road then at home, right, despite the fact that his home park is supposedly helping him. So how can the park be helping him and hurting him at the same time? Is there some flaw in my logic i'm not seeing? Throw all the math in the world at me, i don't see how the massive contradiction i just laid out can be argued with.

Isn't things like this the reason that road numbers are considered the better test of a pitcher's true ability? That's exactly what statistical minded people have been arguing for years. Well, Zito is one hell of a pitcher on the road. Once again, i doubt that Joe Sheehan is un aware of any of this. The man knows much more about baseball and statistical analysis then i do. He has to know that what he wrote about Zito doesn't hold up to even my modest scrutiny. Barry Zito is not a middle of the rotation picher with an ace's reputation. He is an ace with an ace's reputation. He's a 25 year old lefty with one of the best curveballs of his era, and a 3.12 career ERA in 768 innings. His ERA has never been hgiher then 3.49. Middle of the rotation starter? I don't think so.




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Friday, November 21, 2003

Well, the Islanders lost, but i had a blast at the hockey game. Best seats i've ever had. If anyone watched the game tonight, the guy right next to the Lightning bench in the front row wearing the Islanders road jersey (um.. i guess it's the home jersey now actually, the dark one. That was me.

Anyway, let's get back top the topic at hand. See below if you havent read the beginning yet.

3. A competent center fielder. I don't even mean one competent with the bat. I'll settle for one that's just good with the glove at this point. No we're not going to compete anyway, but if i have to live through something like Cedeno patrolling center again i'll go insane. Eventually we'll need one that can hit too of course. We have'nt had a a good all around center fielder since Lenny Dykstra. The middle of Shea's outfield has been a black hole since then, or as i like to call it, the Juan Samuel Event Horizon. In a spacious park like Shea, this is an absolute necessity.

4. Speed. Now we all know i like "the new math", so i'm no huge advocate of the stolen base. I am big however, on the extra base, and the free outs. 1st to 3rd. 2nd to home. Little tappers beat out to 1st. Errors caused by an over anxious fielder. Lots of little things that speed does. I'll take the slow guy who gets on base 40% of the time and hit 35 jacks any day, but every good team needs at least a couple of guys who can put pressure on the opposing defense, and take extra bases on hits. Right now we've got one in Jose Reyes (I'm not counting Cedeno). I'd like to add at least one more guy with good speed. Again, this is'nt about the stolen base, but since it's the simplest way to estimate a guy's speed, let's say at least a 20-30 SB guy.

Those are the four basic needs of our line up, as i see them. Not that i'm advocating trying to compete next year, but all this would help for 2005 and beyond if the right guy is available. Even if we slot David Wright and Justin Huber into the lineup for the second half of 2005, and we assume Phillips is still with the organization, pushing him to RF, none of this changes. We still need a center fielder that's at least adequate. The need for another left handed bat becomes even greater. Wright and Huber are both righties. If the rest fo the line up is still the same, which is entirely possible, that leaves us at 1 lefty, 1 switch, 5 righties(second base being the one position open). This need becomes a whole lot easier to fill if Piazza is not re signed after 2005. That opens up 1st base, meaning we can sign a lefty bat at 1st, or put Phillips at 1st again and sign an outfielder, whichever is the better option given whose available. Not only does it give us more options, it's a whole lot easier to find a good left handed hitter at 1st or in a corner outfield spot then at second base. And of course neither Huber or Wright is particularly fast. Wright is by all accunts a very smart player, who makes superb use of his decent but not great speed. Even still, we need another guy who has real speed. The smartest base running in the world is'nt going to help you beat out the double play, or make a defender rush a throw to 1st, etc etc. The only thing i can see changing here is the need for a leadoff hitter, depending on Reyes developement. The speed, switch hitting ability, phenomenal stolen base rate, good contact, and lack of signifigant power still strikes me as a template for a lead off hitter. And yes, i know Reyes is only 20 and all, but i just don't see him ever being a middle of the order run producer. Reyes is the type of player who should score 100+ runs a year, not collect 100 + RBI. That said, he showed surprising pop for his frame last year, and he is only 20, it should only get better and better as he developes not just as a baseball player, but physically. So i can see Reyes being a 20 HR a year guy. Which would probably mean we'd want to back Reyes up a slot to the no. 2 hole. Which of course would create a need for a lead off hitter.

As for the pitching. I really don't see a whole lot of room for anyone right now, let alone any needs. We've got a whole slew of good relief candidates, and if we assume Heilman will be given another shot, five starters pencilled in. On that note, i think Heilman has to be given another shot. He was a first round draft pick just two years ago. He's developed and veryprojectible. He's got 4 quality pitches that he can throw for strikes, and best of all, a very good minor leauge track record. Half a season of struggles in the majors is'nt enough for me to lose confidence that he's going to be a good pitcher for years to come. Between Seo, Heilman, Kazmir, Peterson, and DeNardo, we've got five real good pitching prospects. We have to know more about all of them, and which continue to progress before we can assess what's needed to compliment the ones that make it. That said, eventually we'll probably need at least one more top of the rotation starter, since expecting to get more then one ace out of the five youngsters is unreasonable. Unless Rick Peterson is as good as Oakland has made him look. Which brings me to our one true pitching need, and the single thing we can do to return to respectability in 2004 and to competition after that:

Have the good sense to stay the hell out of Peterson's way. Let him do this thing with no interference. So far so good, as the Mets have given Peterson complete authority over pitching in the entire organization. I do have a question though. How is it that the Wilpons are smart enough to hold out for Peterson, then give him complete control, and yet not smart enough to at least interview Paul DePodesta? It's not like this is a big stretch. He's in the same organization, and they obviously have at least some appreciation with the way that organization does things. I like Duquette a whole lot. I think he's going to be an excellent GM, and so far he's done a great job. But bringing DePodesta and Peterson over together would have been amazing. We would have joined Oakland, Boston, and Toronto as an "enlightened" ( my own completely biased word) organization. I don't think i need to tell you how happy that would have made me. But hey, like i said, i like the Duke, and Peterson is one hell of a first step.


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Monday, November 17, 2003

Barry won his sixth MVP award today, and third straight. He was expected to win of course. And Barry setting new heights in the sport has become commonplace. Despite it all though, i continue to be amazed by Mr. Bonds. Maybe it's because at 22 years old i've never been fortunate enough to see this kind of all time great before in baseball. With regards to positional players anyway, which is who everyone tends to think of when naming the greatest to ever play the sport. I've seen lots and lots of superstars, Hall of Famers even, but in my lifetime there has been no Willie Mays, no Ted Williams or Babe Ruth. Until Barry. Not that we should necessarily have expected there to be, given how rare players of this caliber are. I'm sure that contributes to the awe with which i watch Bonds as well. I know that we may not see another player like this for another 20 years after Barry. Whatever the reason, i'm going to have a real good time watching Barry chase the Babe, and then Aaron. As i'm sure all of you will too.

Anyway, back to the Mets


State of the Mets - Part 2

I said that most of this article will be about 2004 and beyond, rather then a recap of the 2003 season. And it will be, so here is the last reference to the 2003 season.

2003 Mets

C: Mike Piazza / Vance Wilson
1B: Mo Vaugh / Jason Phillips
2B: Roberto Alomar / several others
SS: Rey Sanchez / Jose Reyes
3B: Ty Wigginton
LF: Cliff Floyd
RF: Jeromy Burnitz / Roger Cedeno
CF: Roger Cedeno / Timo Perez
Bench: Joe McEwing, Tony Clark, Raul Gonzalez, Jay Bell

SP: Tom Glavine
SP: Al Leiter
SP: Steve Traschel
SP: Jae Weong Seo
SP: Pedro Astacio / Grant Roberts

RP: David Weathers
RP: Mike Stanton

A whole assortment of other guys, out of whom Pedro Feliciano, Dan Wheeler, and Jamie Cerda had the most innings. Also remember that Franco got regular action after returning from surgery. And Graeme Lloyd was a regular before being traded to Kansas City.

Closer: Armando Benitez

That's it folks. Caeser has cross the Rubicon. There will be no more talk of the failure that was the 2003 Mets.

Here's what we've got so far for 2004

C: Mike Piazza / Jason Phillips
1B: Jason Phillips / Mike Piazza
2B: ???
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: Ty Wigginton
LF: Cliff FLoyd
CF: ???
RF: ???
Bench: Joe McEwing, Vance Wilson, ???

SP: Tom Glacine
SP: Al Leiter
SP: Steve Traschel
SP Jae Weong Seo
SP ?, but with Aaron Heilman the overwhelming favorite if noone is signed

RP: David Weathers
RP: Mike Stanton
RP 3-5: ???
Closer: ???

The wholes by position are obvious. So let's take a look at what we do have, to get a better idea of what type of players we should be trying to aquire for the vacant positions. Just one note before i begin. What i'm going to try and look at here is the ideal type of player to compliment our current strengths and weaknesses. But given our recent trend, i think we'd all be more then happy for a "prouctive" player period, regardless if he has exactly the same strengths and weaknesses as some other guys on the team. An unbalanced productive team is at least still productive.

1B/Catcher: Jason Phillips / Mike Piazza

You know, in any decently run organization, one of the elite right handed hitters in the leauge would have been moved from behind the plate long before age 35.

At 29: .328/.390/.570
At 30: .303/.361/.575
At 31: .324/.398/.614
At 32: .300/.384/.573
At 33: .280/.359/.544
At 34: .286/.377/.483 ( this can really be disregarded because of the injury, before which Piazza was hitting .333/.422/.613)

Yes, we're really only talking about one down year here. A year in which the entire team collapsed around him. But even as new analysis provides evidence to the contrary of more and more "conventional baseball wisdoms", a great many of them still remain true. One of them is that if you have a catcher who can hit, it's a real good idea to move him somewhere else as he passes 30, to preserve his bat. We're taking steps in the right direction, but i have a bad feeling that Piazza is going to continue to get more then half the catching duty even after he gets his catcher's home run record. Another 100 games on the knees, another 100 games with the increased chance of injury. He's not that far removed from a Piazza like season. If he stays healthy, it's not at all unreasonable to see Piazza like numbers again this year. But at 35, there's a real strong chance he's not going to be healthy trying to catch 90 + games.

Now that i've gotten that rant out, let's actually take a look at the position. I think we can expect a split at catcher something in the nature of Piazza 90. Philips 60, with a dozen or so left over for Vance Wilson. Phillips will spend the majority of games at first, with Piazza geting maybe 50 starts there, and Tony Clark or his replacement starting when Phillips is catching and Piazza rested.

If Phillips season was'nt a fluke, this will be excellent production for the two positions. Of course a lot is expected of a first basemen, but very very little of a catcher. So if you slot Piazza's production in at first, and Phillips at catcher, we should be well above average in both areas. Piazza, if he's healthy, provides well above average contact, on base skills and power, but either at catcher or at 1st will be a defensive liability. Phillips provides contact, on base skills, and solid defense at a premium(read: up the middle) position. When he plays there anyway. He did a very good job of adapting to 1st last year, and is at least adequate there now. So no matter whcih of them is at which position, we're looking at one spot solid defensively, and another lacking. Obviously its preferablly to have the strength at catcher.

Shorstop: Jose Reyes

Reyes has the potential to contribute in every possible way a positional player can. But his power or on base skills are'nt developed yet, so let's stick to what he actually provides right now. Contact, defense at a premium position (both range and arm), and speed. I think it's unreasonable to expect a repeat of July and August, but the major leauge average for shortstops was .265/.325/.399 last year. It's not at all unreasonable to expect him to be a good bit above that.

Third Base: Ty Wigginton

At this point, Wigginton does'nt bring a whole lot to the table, outside of good defense at a semi premium (read: third base) position. He's demonstrated some decent contact ability at times, but they trailed off sharply as the season wore on. Still though, he's about average for third base, which is extremely weak around the majors right now, and a few small adjustments could leaves him as a very useful player, with above average production for his position.

Left Field: Cliff Floyd

Floyd has always been productive. He just has problems staying healthy. Last year was no exception, playing through pain for the entire year before shutting it down two months early to have surgery. When he manages to stay i the lineup, Floyd provides good contact, good plate discipline, and above average power. He's adequate in left.

That's what we've got for our line up so far. There are three gaping holes, and question marks about all of the five guys we do have penciled in. But you know something else? All five of them are pretty good hitters, except Wigginton, who could be with a few adjustments and some more patience. We can reasonably expect above average production for there position from four of the five. That's pretty good. We're not going to be striking fear into any pitchers, but a coupleof decent stopgaps, one solid player, a decent bench, and we could be a respectable offensive club.

So what is it that we need, ideally? ( I'm not going to speculate, or offer my opinion on possible signings in this. There will be plenty of that in fortchoming articles)

1. Another left handed power bat. Phillips, Wigginton and Piazza all bat right handed. Reyes of course is a switch hitter, and while he is far better from the left side, he does'nt have more then the occasional flash of power yet. Is one switch hitter and one left handed hitter that unbalanced when you've only got 5 guys slotted in? Not at all, but if it doesn't increase as that goes to 8, then it becomes unblanced. Most the pitchers in baseball are right handed, left handers generally hit right handers better then other right handers do. You do the math.

2. A table setter. I still think Reyes skill set is best suited to batting leadoff, or perhaps no 2, though there's a growing number of fans that think he'll wind up as a no. 3 type guy. In either case, he's pretty clearly not suited for batting lead off just yet. Great as he was, that OBP was still low, and he does'nt take a whole lot of pitches. Sure, he could come out and dramatically improve, yet again. But i'm being realistic here in thinking that Reyes will come out and have a solid, productive year that will be good for his developement, but is not going to do anything spectacular. So that leaves us with a need for a leadoff man. Out of the current options, i'd nominate Jason Phillips. If not at leadoff, then certainly at no 2.

Bah ran out of time, gotta leave to go watch the Islanders. Living in Tampa, i don't get to do this very often, don't want to be late.








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Sunday, November 16, 2003

2500 word paper due tommorow, been working on it all week. State of the Mets part 2 coming soon
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Straying from the State of the Mets topic for a moment, i have a couple of things i'd like to say.

The poor man's Andruw Jones

Please stop all the Preston Wilson talk. Should'nt everyone, even those who don't like "the new math" realize by now how drastically Coors "Lite" Field inflates offensive numbers? I actually read an article which said "the Mets could wind up in the delicious position of pursuing Mookie's stepson to patrol centerfield at Shea". All due respect to Mark Hale over at the New York Post, but he must have been smoking something when he described the possibility of bringing in Preston Wilson as a "delicious position".

Preston Wilson - 2003

Home .302/.370/.591

Away .260/.316/.479

Even including his season in Colorado, Wilson has never batted above .282, he's never had an OBP over .350, and it's usually more in the .330 range. Then there's this disturbing list

Preston Wilson's BB/K

1999 46/156
2000 55/187
2001 36/107 (played only 123 games)
2002 58/140
2003 54/139

That's just scary. And at 29 years old, he's not likely to ever improve upon it. Does he have some power? Absolutely. 26, 31, 23, 23, and 36 HR's since 1999, and he always hits at least a decent amount of doubles. That's great for a center fielder, but is it enough to justify a mediocre average, a pitiful OBP and an insanely high amount of strike outs? The answer is a resounding no.

P.S. I call him a poor man's Andruw Jones because they have basically the exact same strengths and weaknesses. Power, defense, and some speed vs lack of contact, low obp, and high strike outs. The difference is that Jones justifies it because his strengths are greater and his weaknesses not as glaring. And because he is the best defensive CF since some guy named Mays. Seriously though, has anyone ever seen Andruw lay off the low and away breaking ball, ever?

A lot can happen in a second

The second thing i wanted to talk about is the Rookie of the Year voting. In a single moment, i gained a new level of respect for baseball writers across the country, and then went right back to believing that most of them lack any kind of creative ability to "think outside the box", and spend most their time writing and re writing the same un enlightened, un intelligent articles. The new found respect came when i saw that the writers had selected Angel Berroa as AL rookie of the year. Finally i said, the writers made an enlightened choice. They looked past the hype, media attention, and inflated RBI totals of Hideki Matsui to pick the under appreciated rookie shortstop. Brave to to the voters.

And then i scanned down a little further, i saw the NL rookie of the year vote, and it all came crashing down. I guess i should have expected it, but i can't believe that the voters thought Dontrelle Willis was the best rookie in the National League.

Dontrelle Willis 160 IP, 148 IP, 59 ER, 142 K, 58 BB, 13 HR, 3.30 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.95 K/9, 2.45 K/BB, .245/.313/.385 (opponents numbers)
Brandon Webb 180.2 IP, 140 H, 57 ER, 172 K, 68 BB, 12 HR, 2.84 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.57 K/9, 2.53 K/BB, .212/.295/.307

That's not even close. Webb pitched 20 more innings, gave up 8 less hits, 1 less home run and 2 less earned runs. He had a lower ERA, lower WHIP, higher K/9 and higher K/BB ratio. And hitters numbers against aren't even close.

Dontrelle Willis was very good. Brandon Webb was one of the five or six best pitchers in the National League. 4th in ERA, 6th in WHIP, 3rd in Opp Avg, 7th in Opp OBP, 1st in Opp SLG, 2nd in Opp OPS. And the fact that that performance will not be rewarded by the rookie of the year award is astonishing. There's no doubt who was the better pitcher here. But Dontrelle gets all the attention, he was the darling of baseball at the all star break, and he's lucky enough to play for a team that came out of baseball purgatory this year to win the World Series. Yes, he helped them make the playoffs, but this is'nt the MVP award, and there's just no way to argue that Willis was even close to as good as Brandon Webb.
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Thursday, November 06, 2003

State of the Mets


Today i'll begin my state of the mets report. This was going to be strictly a review of the 2003 major leauge season, but i decided that was pointless. So while i will spend a good deal of time going over what happened in the 2003, the focus of this article will be on next season and beyond.

Let's begin with the major events of the last year, as i see them:

1. Jim Duquette replaces Steve Phillips as GM

As i wrote last Thursday, i really don't think Phillips was a bad GM. He had his flaws to be sure, but he was one of the hardest working executives in the game, constantly on the phone with other GMs to explore potential trades. He just was'nt qualified to be making talent decisions. The organization definately needed a change though. The miserable last couple of years demanded it, especially in New York. And as Herman Edwards said last year, when you need to shake up a team, you don't replace the offensive linemen. So Phillips had to go, and Duquette was the obvious succesor. If we did'nt want him, quite a few organizations would be more then happy to take him as there GM jobs open up. Though his people skills are said to be superb, a stark contrast to Phillips, Duquette is also an administrative GM. The key will be to surround the Duke with experienced talent evaluators to advise him. Overall, i think this is a positive move. Phillips needed to go, and Duquette is one of the brightest young executives in the game.

2. Art Howe replaces Bobby Valentine as Manager

I'm not as down on Art Howe as most people. I'd like to see him get angry once in awhile, and his game management leaves something to be desired, but he did a very good job with the young Oakland team. So as this team gets younger, i think he could be a decent manager. That said, i loved Bobby Valentine. As i documented in one of my earliest posts, he is one of the only managers in major leauge history whose teams have consistently won more games then their runs scored / runs allowed says they should. He was one of the most intelligent managers in the game, and he was a great in game manager, not counting the infamous Kenny Rogers decision in the '99 NLCS. And he clearly gave a shit. Name me another manager who would sneak back into the dugout wearing a cheesy disguise after getting ejected. So i look at this as a downgrade. Hopefully New York will wake Art up a bit.

3. Jose Reyes

I'm a rather stubborn person, but when im clearly wrong i'll admit it. And i was quite clearly wrong about Jose Reyes. Many of my early articles were filled with comments about how Reyes belonged in AAA. And then Jose Reyes shut me and every other critic up. I won't go over the numbers again. You all know them, you've read them here and on every other Mets site. Sufficed to say that Reyes is here to stay, and so far he's lived up to all the hype.

4. The trades of Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, and Armando Benitez for several prospects

Out with the old, in with the new. Out went the disaster that was Alomar, the fragile and hated Benitez, and Burnitz who thankfully had restored his trade value. In came Victor Diaz, Royce Ring, and a bunch of arms. This was the final abandonment of the failed rebuilding efforts of the last two years. As many symbols of that failure as possible were shipped out in return for a decent set of prospects that if nothing else added valuable depth to our system. Roger Cedeno would have been moved as well, except noone would take his contract. In addition to adding organizational depth, these trades freed up money, and cleared spots for several young players to get some major league experience after the all star break. Definately a step in the right direction.


5. Mo Vaughn goes onto the DL indefinately

Do i feel bad for Mo Vaughn? Yes. Do i believe he honestly wants to do everything he can to once again become a great hitter? Sure. But facts are facts. Vaugh has been awful since he put on a Mets uniform. He's due an obscene amount of money next year, something like 18 million. If he stays on the DL, insurance covers 75% of that. I wish Mo Vaugh all the best in the world, i hope his knees recover and he's able to play again for many years to come. Just not till 2005, when he's no longer under contract with us.

6. Al Leiter comes off the DL to be one of the 5 best pitchers of the second half

Ok, i admit that this is partly self serving because a) Senator Al is my favorite baseball player right now and b) i told all the Leiter critics that they were wrong when they started writing him off in June. But this has to be considered one of the biggest events of the season. It reestablished him as a top left starter. And with Leiter pitching like an ace, and Traschel enjoying his second good year in a row, the rotation was actually decent in the second half. In my admittedly biased opinion, i expected Leiter to have a very good 2004.

7. Mike Piazza starts the move to first base

It's about damn time. This should prolong his time as an elite hitter, and his career. And it clears the way for a catcher who can play defense, probably Jason Phillips for now, and hopefully Justin Huber in the future.

8. Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips was a total surprise. Sure, when i look now i see that he actually has a good minor leauge track record. But who knew? He handles the bat real well, great plate discipline, gap power. And he's a catcher. Phillips could be a real nice find.

9. Tom Glavine

What the hell happened here? He did'nt lose his stuff, because he never really had any to begin with outside of a superb circle change. And you don't lose a change up with age. Questec? I have'nt seen an update, but at one time Glavine was pitching signifgantly better in non Questec parks. And in regards to Shea, should'nt at least some of the Questect effect, assuming there is one, be negated by the fact that Shea is a pitcher's park? Hitters come to Shea and fall apart, not pitchers. We can only hope this isn't the beginning of a trend that some say started in the second half of 2002.

10. The failed pursual of Lou Pinella

Ok, this is a stretch, i just wanted a tenth. But still, this was a pretty big deal. Pinella is one of the most highly regarded managers in the game, and was obviously our first choice. Actually, he would've fit in just like Valentine. Pinella is not afraid to show emotion, and he obviously cares about winning. And he manages a good game to. Him and Valentine are actually very similar. Unfortuantely Seattle asked for too much. There initial offer for compensation was Jose Reyes. The talks died shortly after, and we settled for Artie.





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