Added by Eric: I just spent twenty minutes reformatting this thing so I'm bumping it up to the top again.
Given all the talk going on these days about what we've missed out on, and how bad our team looks, I thought I would take an in depth look at what we actually do have. Since we're allegedly done signing players I figured now would be a good time for this. This is Part 1 of a 2 part series of obscenely long posts looking at what the Mets DO have right now. Today I'm covering position players who could have a role in this years team. The data provided is mostly based on production with the big league club except where so little data was available that I had no option but to look to AAA. So far I can say it's going to be an interesting season for sure... whatever that means.
Comments: Bay was the big acquisition this offseason for the Mets. He is a slugger with respectable offensive numbers across the board. Where his weakness comes in is his fielding. Even in the left field of Fenway, which is generally friendly to mobility-challeneged fielders, Bay has put up below average UZR values. Left to the more cavernous expanses of Citi, it will be interesting to see how he handles covering more territory, especially during the absence of Beltran. From an offensive perspective, he has improved over the past 3 years. While this trend is not likely to continue, it isn't likely we see a large decline in his offensive production next year, although his HR numbers may decrease somewhat playing at Citi instead of Fenway. Even so Bay's bat should provide power and stability to the middle of the batting order, and give better protection to Wright, especially in the absence of Beltran.
Comments: Coming off of an injury shortened season and subsequent secret ninja-like knee surgery, Beltran's productivity will be largely guesswork until we see him in real game situations. While there is little worry he will still have an excellent bat, as he has throughout his tenure as a Met, his range in CF may be adversely affected by his degenerative knee condition. While playing through discomfort this season Beltran managed to still achieve a WAR of 2.9 in half a season, which hopefully suggests that despite some possible limitations on his speed he is still an incredibly valuable asset to the team.
Comments: David is coming off of an uncharacteristic season in which his average and OBP remained fairly consistent (.390 OBP 2008 and 2009), but his power numbers dropped off precipitously. Aside from a fastball to the head incident, Wright remained healthy over the season, which has been the case since he has been brought up. His durability is a valuable and often underappreciated asset to the team. There has been much speculation that efforts by Hojo to adjust his swing to accommodate the dimensions of Citi field may have contributed to his power outage. It has been reported that Wright has been working throughout the offseason to adjust his swing to get his power back. We can hope this means he is watching video of his 2007 and 2008 games, trying to copy his old swing. Defensively Wright generally has an above average glove and range but has a tendency to commit throwing errors, a trend I would like to see cut down a bit this season. His struggles on defense last year seemed to coincide with his struggles on offense, which may be a sign the problem is strictly mental and not mechanical.
Comments: Jose is one of the most important cogs in this teams offense. Simply put if Jose can't get started, the rest of the offense likely won't. His speed is vital to his game, and his legs need to be kept healthy. As of now, all signs point to him being ready to play when Spring Training starts. Excellent news for Mets fans since Jose is one of the most exciting players to watch when healthy, and is vital to the teams success. Re-inserting Reyes into the middle infield defense should also stabilize that portion of the field, providing some relief to pitchers like Mike Pelfrey who struggled with a makeshift middle infield.
Comments: The addition of Gary Matthews Jr. is a puzzling one at best, especially at the cost of fan favorite Sir Dr. Brain Socks M.D.D.D.S.P.h.D. Esquire. His numbers are clearly in the decline phase, and aside from a flashy catch a couple years back he's awful on defense (UZR for CF). His greatest baseball skill appears to be collecting large paychecks while sitting on the bench, and many Angels fans will tell you he has mastered the art. There have been some statements that when not given a starting position Matthews tends to become irritated. If theres one thing I can say with some confidence its that becoming easily irritated is not a characteristic recommended in anyone playing for this current Mets team.
Comments: Omir "Thunder God" Santos has designed some of the most stylish t-shirts in Mets history. Outside of that however, he has proven to be a fairly generic backup catcher. Unfortunately he was used in more of a starters role this past year, exposing his weaknesses at the plate. His OBP is Frenchy-esque, and he lacks the power to even partially compensate for his lack of discipline at the plate. He did provide one of the few bright spots last season, however, with a home run against Jonathon Papelbon at Fenway which was part of a late come from behind rally to win. Omir was actually decent behind the plate, with a +2.4 TotalRuns score as reported by Driveline Mechanics, although he was a little below average in preventing stolen bases. Overall, he would be a decent option as an occasional backup if we had a full time starting catcher, but with Blanco as the other option, it is likely he sees an overabundance of playing time this year as well.
Comments: Defensively, Blanco is a very good catcher, scoring 5.7 TotalRuns by Driveline Mechanics and scoring positively in all 4 scoring criteria. Blanco's major drawback is his durability. Blanco will likely top out at 75 games if the Mets hope to keep him healthy all season long. It is my guess that Blanco and Santos split time fairly evenly. Given that both Omir and Blanco are righties, they won't be able to serve as a traditional platoon, but they are unfortunately probably the best combination available come opening day.
*Blanco only played 22 games at the big league level that year.
Comments: Murph showed he was capable of excellent first base defense this past season, posting one of the higher UZRs (only 1b UZR shown) at the position. He was not quite so comfortable in the OF but he has at least temporarily found his niche at 1b. Offensively Murphy seemed to take a step back this year, especially with regards to plate discipline. Since his 2008 sample size is fairly small ,it it hard to conclude which Daniel Murphy we can expect in the future. While Murph fields the position well, he does not hit well enough to carry the position, and is likely a stopgap until Ike Davis is ready, at which point he will serve as a super sub.
Comments: Luis Castillo had a renaissance year with the bat, but defensively was an enormous liability at 2b. While hitting for practically no power, he struck out very rarely and found his way on base to the tune of a .387 OBP. He provided one of the more horrific moments in the season in the 9th inning of a Mets-Yankees game, and his mobility is comparable to the base he is suppose to field around. While his above average offensive year provided him with positive value, it is hard to count on his ability to consistently maintain this high level of offensive production to offset his defensive shortcomings, especially with a pitcher such as Mike Pelfrey who depends heavily on his infield defense.
Comments: The UZR values are for position most often played in that given season for optimal sample size (LF, RF, CF respectively). It is difficult to determine trends from Pagan's data due to his spotty playing time prior to last season. (71,31,88 games started respectively). In 2009, the season in which he received the most consistent playing time, he posted above average results in center field, with his slugging percentage the highest of his career. Given that Pagan is only 29, it is possible he is entering his prime, and may be able to sustain similar numbers for a few years. This would make him an ideal backup outfielder (I would personally prefer starting right fielder, but thats another argument altogether). While Pagan made some visible errors in judgement this season, he's far from the only Met who is guilty of that last year and I'm going to give him a pass. Pagan provides real value for a very low pricetag, and is one of the few very strong complimentary pieces the Mets have outside of their starting lineup.
Note: some of these values are for partial seasons and may suffer from small sample size error, take with a grain of salt.
Comments: I don't think I can ever remember seeing a player with such a goofy, affable personality (he won the good guy award after all) provide such controversy and vitriol amongst fans. Frenchy just received a 5 million dollar, 1 year contract, which seems a bit high. Francoeur is a self professed free swinger who shows flashes of real ability which he never seems to be able to actualize. If they put consistent use of talent on the scoreboard he'd probably be one of the best players in baseball (sadly it's not located there) In 2008, the Braves sent him back to the minors to work on his swing, but with very little net result. Frenchy's fielding took a turn for the worse when he attempted to bulk up after 2007, at which point his UZR sunk faster than Benjie Molina into the river of chocolate from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (sorry with no Benji signing I have to get these jokes out of my system somewhere). He is still known for his strong, accurate arm, which slightly offsets his lack of speed to the ball. Overall what you see is what you get with Francoeur. It is unlikely he ever sorts out his pitch recognition, although if he sheds some of the extra bulk he put on his defense may more closely resemble his above average 2007 performance.
UZR/150 : 11.9 (1b), -6.3(LF) (average values over all MLB appearances)
Comments: Who??? Most of the data presented here for Nick Evans is based on limited appearances. He seems to be the forgotten man on the Mets bench. He is much better suited for hitting lefties (.319/.380/.514/.894 in 79 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in AAA) than righties, and given limited UZR data, could make a serviceable half of a first base platoon if such a course of action was desired. Due to the lack of data it is hard to project his value to the team, but it would be nice to see him a bit more often if for no other reason than to evaluate where he fits into the teams plans.
|UZR/150:||25.9 (6.6)||-5.4 (23.7)||-7.8 (-9.3)|
Comments: Or as I like to call him the 2 Million Dollar Frown Machine. Cora was re-signed this offseason to a 2 million dollar contract, far over where his market value should fall given his declining skills. Cora filled in at shortstop for a large portion of last season, and played with torn ligaments in his thumbs. His dedication is admirable, but his play often leaves something to be desired. Cora understands the game well, but simply can't play well enough to showcase this. While the injuries can explain some drop in production at the plate, he has been consistently bad both offensively and defensively for the last 3 years, leaving very little hope that there is much left in the tank for Cora.
Comments: I am only comfortable using his 2009 UZR at 2b because his samples sizes for other years an positions are consistently very small. Anderson Hernandez seems to be essentially the epitome of the replacement level player. He is a light hitting middle infielder with average to slightly below average fielding when used extensively over the course of a season. He provides a very cheap option who is defensively competent but adds very little else to the team.
Comments: Since Little Cat plays all over the place, I haven't included UZR data, although over his career he has at least a slightly negative UZR at every position he's played, with his best work in LF (which isn't saying much). Offensively Catalanotto provides an adequate bat off the bench who can be plugged in at a number of positions when necessary without looking bad there. He will likely start in AAA and help Buffalo, who look to be in line for a decent season.
Fernando Martinez (F!)
Comments: Fernando is one of the prospects we all hope is nearing major league ready levels. Last season in 25 appearances he struggled quite a bit both at the plate and in the field (making some rather comically bad plays). That being said he is still very young and has a lot of room to improve. F! tears up AAA-ball (.382 wOBA, .540 SLG in AAA last year) and there is no reason to believe he won't develop into a solid major league player with a bit more consistent work at the lower levels.
Comments: Carter is a 28 year old minor leaguer who has played primarily at DH and OF. He seems to be an average outfielder, not great, but not awful. The real question is, is he worth the draft picks we could have picked up by keeping Wagner until he likely declined arbitration? Carter is functionally pretty similar to Nick Evans as far as role on the team, it will be interesting to see how they balance the use of the two, or if they just forget Carter exists as well.
Comments: Tatis has been a very valuable bench player over the past two years for the Mets. Unlucky stretch of double plays aside, he has put up strong offensive numbers both years, while playing competently at 1b, 3b, and LF. His versatility and strong bat have generated WAR values of ~1.5 during each season of his tenure with the Mets. His late addition this offseason was one of the better moves we made this offseason, as it gave insurance at a number of positions in a single move.
Comments: Thole hit reasonably well at the major league level. He doesn't have a lot of power but he is a good contact hitter, much in the vein of LoDuca. Defensively Thole struggled at the major league level, with -0.6 TotalRuns by Driveline mechanics, rating average or worse in every category. I believe Thole falls into the same category as F! in this case, that a bit more time to develop in AAA would do wonders to prepare him for the speed of the major league. I believe he will become a good major league catcher if given the time to properly develop, likely under the tutelage of Chris Coste.
Comments: Coste was one of the many catchers the Mets now carry (I'm beginning to think they think catchers are disposable after each game). His role will likely be tutoring Thole in AAA. As with Thunder God and Blanco Coste is a righty, so he doesn't lend anything to the big league club that the other two don't (why do we collect only right handed catchers, there must be lefties out there somewhere). Basically the Mets have to choose 2 out of 3 to stay in the big leagues and one to teach Thole the ropes in AAA. Omir is a bad option for this (we don't need two of those). Therefore the choice is between Coste and Blanco. Since neither is capable of a full time starting workload, it comes down to which catcher has skills more valuable to the major league club. Driveline gives Coste a TotalRuns value of 1.0, which is well below Blanco, so therefore I would opt to keep Blanco with the Mets and use Coste to teach Thole since Coste has less to offer the major league club.