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Things I Was Wrong About

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Accountability posts like this are rare, here or anywhere else. It's obvious why -- harping on how one was "right" is more enjoyable than pointing out the "wrong". A quick example, on this August 11, 2010, the day Francoeur Avenue became the Francoeur Internets. Dozens of writers fell over themselves hyping up Jeff Francoeur in the offseason as the next New York star. There was even some crazy talk from various outlets suggesting a preseason contract extension was a good idea. The voices then went silent as Frenchy spent the first two-thirds of the season performing at replacement level. Yet there is hardly a mea culpa type post/column to be found.

There is no shame admitting that analysis turned out wrong. It is an essential step in evaluating the process utilized in that analysis. If a writer is "wrong" more often than not, the natural question is "why"? Is it just a bad break, per the process vs. results matrix? Or does the process require greater scrutiny and potentially some tweaking?

To that end, this is the first of an occasional series, outlining things I was wrong about.

1. December 7, 2008 -- Don't Get Cheap On Me Jeff Wilpon

I see no reason why the Mets shouldn't be able to offer the following:

- 4 years, $60 million to Derek Lowe
- 2 years, $20 million to Brian Fuentes
- 2 years, $24 million to Adam Dunn

This goes back almost two years and one blog ago (my original craptacular offering, MetsTailgate.com). Taking these one by one:

Derek Lowe

The sinkerballer was terrific for the Dodgers from 2005-2008, posting a 3.59 ERA in 850.1 innings. Even with the expectation that he wouldn't replicate his stellar 3.26 FIP 2008 season, his combination of durability and good control seemed like a good bet for a team lacking reliable starting pitching. And it would probably would have meant cutting ties with Oliver Perez, the 2008 league leader in walks. After the Braves signed Lowe for exactly the terms I suggested, his strikeout and walk rates both worsened, and even his off-the-charts groundball rate decreased a few percentage points. He has been slightly above average overall, but will probably end up being worth about half of the $60 million the Braves will shell out.

A takeaway here might be an increased weariness of older pitchers. Especially handing out big money, multi-year deals to hurlers in their 30's. Lowe's lack of injury history made up for his advancing age in my view (he's 37 years-old now). He's not an altogether useless pitcher, and certainly more palatable than Ollie. Regardless, the Mets dodged a rubber bullet by passing on Lowe.

Brian Fuentes

After 2008, the Mets appeared determined to sign a big name closer. The three names most commonly thrown around were Francisco Rodriguez, Kerry Wood and Fuentes. Rumors abounded of a five year, $75 million contract for Frankie -- yikes. Wood's questionable health gave me pause. Fuentes was a cheaper, if older, option to fortify the back end of the bullpen. He signed with the Angels for two years, $17.5 million, with a third year option which has no chance of vesting. Despite racking up 47 saves in 2009 and converting 86% of save opportunities the last two seasons, Fuentes has disappointed. His strikeout rate decreased and he has been an even more extreme than usual flyball pitcher (56.3% flyball rate in 2010). Home runs have been his nemesis.

Like Lowe, the concern with signing older pitchers is on display. His velocity is down two mph from 2008. The volatility of relief pitching is also demonstrated. While his contract is preferable to Frankie's (much like Lowe vs. Perez), Fuentes would not have been a difference maker for this Mets team. He's been worse than Pedro Feliciano, with a similar platoon split and at four times the cost.

Adam Dunn

Donkey signed for two years, $20 million. Theoretically the Mets could have had him for my suggested offer. He would have played most of 2009 at first base and probably 2010 too. Taking his absurd -37 UZR last season with a large grain of salt (it's -0.6 this season), Dunn has been worth more than his contract. He's currently third in the league in OPS and finished tenth last year. Plus, 450 foot homers are worth some more money in my book. No mistake here.

2. September 1, 2009 -- Milton Bradley: Yes Or No?

...it's a safe bet that Bradley could be had in a trade.

It's time for the Mets to stop fielding garbage at the corner OF positions. Bradley is no Matt Holliday but he would be a significant upgrade over the current organizational options for 2010.

Bottom line: I would rather see Bradley in the Mets outfield next year than some kind of Jeremy Reed/Cory Sullivan/Chris Carter jumble.

Milton led the American League in OPS in 2008, so swapping one of the Mets' disaster contracts for him seemed like a strong gamble. Cross your fingers that he doesn't disrupt the clubhouse and count on that ~.800 OPS projected by the forecasting systems. Half of that plan worked. Outside of a minor early season issue, Milton has been a good soldier off the field for the M's. Unfortunately, he's been calamitous between the lines. His slash line is .205/.292/.348, worse than Francoeur's. Not even the biggest Milton haters could have predicted such a drastic slide. Suffices to say, Milton in the 2010 Mets outfield would have been disastrous. 

3. December 9, 2009 -- Cross Rich Harden Off The Wish List

Rich Harden apparently signed with the Rangers today for one year and $7.5 million, with a 2011 club option for $11.5 million. It's a good deal for the Rangers. He was on many Met fans' wish lists, with good reason. Youth, filthy stuff and an astronomical strikeout rate (K/9 of 10.91 in 2009, 9.35 for his career) are some of Harden's positive attributes. The strikeouts would have been particularly welcome on a Mets team which played awful defense in 2009.

The Mets failed to upgrade their rotation this past offseason, passing on some attractive options like Harden and Joel Pineiro on the open market. For a pitcher like Harden, who posted xFIPs of 3.55 and 3.70 in 2008 and 2009, respectively, $7.5 million was a steal. Except his biggest concern, injury, contributed to a nightmare 5.45 ERA, sub-replacement level 2010 season. His velocity is down from 2009 and his peripherals are all significantly worse than his career rates. After a DL stint with a pulled glute, he recently returned but continued to stink up the joint. He lasted just 2.1 innings in his last start, walking five. His role going forward is unclear. Ben Sheets also turned out to be a poor investment for the A's. Same goes for Erik Bedard with the M's. Omar Minaya was wise to avoid these three talented but injury prone pitchers.