Brian's Got 99 Problems But A Split Ain't One

Today at Surfing the Mets, Adam Rubin passes along a message claiming that Brian Schneider somehow caused the ineffectiveness of last year's bullpen. The message comes from Marc Rubin of Ray Rubin Sports Analysts, an organization which purports to, in its own words, "STATISTICALLY IDENTIFY PLAYERS VALUES WITH A SPECIFIC UNBIASED ASSESSMENT MODEL," which, unlike commonplace player evaluation, is in all-caps.

In the article, Rubin drops a few hundred names and the word "MoneyBall" before making his unbelievable claim. He begins:

This offseason the Mets were forced to sign K-Rod in view of Billy Wagner's injury and they have replaced Aaron Heilman with J.J. Putz as set up guy. The New York broadcast and print media have bought into the idea that the Mets' failing bullpen was the primary reason for the team's collapse the past two seasons.

"Forced" seems like a strong word. Perhaps the pressure to sign Frank the Closer was great, but getting both him and Putz for a reasonable price is hardly shooting yourself in the foot. His second claim seems true: the media did primarily blame the bullpen, somewhat unfairly. Rubin must be about to explain how a dependable leftfielder and starting depth will help avoid the disappointment of last year.

We would argue THAT IS NOT THE CASE. Please check below to see that catcher Brian Schneider was the root of the Mets' problems. We mean Schneider no disrespect, but these are unprecedented numbers. There is one more year on his contract and he should be relegated to playing some first base to rest Carlos Delgado, DHing in interleague games, and pinch-hitting.

Of course...How could we have missed it? The signs were there all along. Who was the doctor in Spring Training who diagnosed Moises Alou? No doctor at all, but Brian Schneider in scrubs. The shady figure who kidnapped Orlando Hernandez and put him on a raft back to Cuba? Brian Schneider. How could we expect Aaron Heilman to stop throwing fastballs down Broadway when his catcher was constantly reminding him that a philosophy major would get him nowhere in life? And what about the constant off-hand remarks about the unevenness of Johan's goatee and Ollie's sideburns?

I refuse to comment on the idea of keeping Brian Schneider on the roster to DH in interleague games. This better be good:

These numbers are so stunning it suggests that the unfortunate Schneider was somehow tipping off pitches:

SANCHEZ caught by CASTRO 65 ABs, allows 0 HRs and OPP SLUG%=292
SCHNEIDER 108 ABs, allows 6 HRs and OPP SLUG%=454

HEILMAN caught by CASTRO 50 ABs , allows 0 HRs and OPP SLUG%=340
SCHNEIDER 195 ABs, allows 9 HRs and OPP SLUG%=456

FELICIANO caught by CASTRO 36 ABs, allows 0 HRs and OPP SLUG%=306
SCHNEIDER 134 ABs, allows 6 HRs and OPP SLUG%=455

WAGNER caught by CASTRO 49 ABs, allows 0 HRs and OPP SLUG%=204
SCHNEIDER 99 ABs, allows 3 HRs and OPP SLUG%=313

SANTANA caught by CASTRO 333 ABs, allows 6 HRs and OPP SLUG%=297
SCHNEIDER 524 ABs, allows 15 HRs and OP SLUG%=401

PEDRO M caught by CASTRO 138 ABs, allows 2 HRs and OPP SLUG%=377
SCHNEIDER 185 ABs, allows 15 HRs and OPP SLUG%=600!!!!!

Same phenomena holds with John Maine, Claudio Vargas and Nelson Figueroa. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Sample size. The fact that Aaron Heilman did not allow a homerun in the 50 at bats he threw to Ramon Castro does not illustrate anything, especially not that Brian Schneider tips all of his pitches. This phenomenon could only be credible if every pitcher exemplified this split, although even then it could easily be attributed to luck.

Which brings up the second major problem with this proposal: Rubin cherry-picks the stats and pitchers he uses. He mentions nine pitchers. The Mets used twenty-nine pitchers in 2008. Here are a few who exhibited the opposite phenomenon: Oliver Perez, Brian Stokes, Scott Schoeneweis (73 OPS+ Schneider, 210 Castro), Joe Smith and Luis Ayala. Notice this list includes our ROOGY, LOOGY, and Ollie, all of whom you'd expect would need more help locating and framing pitches.

Rubin's decision to only cite slugging pct. is also telling. Billy Wagner's opponents actually had a higher OBP (.231 vs. .236) when Castro was receiving. Duaner Sanchez was similarly .317 OBP Schneider vs. .310 Castro. An entire bullpen's collapse within .007 points of OBP.

So, no, Brian Schneider did not sabotage the Mets staff. And barring he tries to catch pitches with his feet next year, he will not ruin 2009.

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