With all the fuss about Beltran, why not Reyes?
The Mets signed Chris Young for $7.25 million. That’s it.
In all seriousness though, am I the only one who sees this signing for what it really is? Chris Young doesn’t get on base, he strikes out too much, and he doesn’t steal bases anymore, but the Mets gave him $7.25 million. In other words, they decided that they’d rather have Chris Young than Josh Johnson, David Murphy, Marlon Byrd, or Dan Haren. For $2 million, or $3.5 million? Maybe it would be okay. But there is ZERO reason that ANYONE, let alone the Mets, who have $30 million total to spend, should give Chris Young (whose batting average over the last 3 years is .225) $7.25 million.
In this case, all you have to do is look at the case of David Murphy, who, coming off a better year than Chris Young just had, with a better history, and only one year removed from a year where he batted .304, got $12 million for two years. Yes, that’s3 right. Chris Young, a power hitter who will be playing in a pitcher’s park, is getting more money per year than David Murphy.
To me, it seems that Sandy Alderson has forgotten his moneyball roots. In Oakland, he was part of an organization that had, for want of a better phrase, lots and lots of success, all based on finding hidden talent in the form of OBP. I don’t know for certain, but it really doesn’t look like that’s what’s happening right now. Look at the signings! A typical thrifty Oakland signing was getting Chad Bradford for cheap, because no one else wanted him, and you knew he was good. Now, we’re getting Chris Young, who, even though they say they expect him to rebound, doesn’t really even have anything to rebound to. Even in his best season, he batted .257, and even if you expect him to improve towards his career OBP, that’s only .315. I mean really, since when is a player like this worth $7.25 million? This is a player coming off a season where his WAR was negative. Sandy, regrettably, appears to be losing his touch, especially since that money that he committed to Chris Young could have gone to signing Latroy Hawkins for one year AND Joe Smith for three years at team friendly rates, really shoring up the bullpen, instead of an outfielder who might be worse than all of the outfielders that we already have.
Well, what can you do, really? Young might work out – although I doubt it – and we, the people, can’t do anything but wait and see. And everyone says that the Mets may not be done in free agency. I think they are, but again, we’ll see. The problem is not Chris Young – the problem is that there’s no one else.
IBM – individual base metric. The statistic of the future.
“You don’t buy players. You buy runs.”
That quote from moneyball, though interesting, is woefully incomplete. Jonah Hill, all 350 pounds of him, should have said something else. ”To buy runs, you need to buy bases.” Advancing – moving up on the bases – is the only way to score. And the more bases that a player can advance on his own, the smaller the risk of an out on the basepaths, a stranded runner, a double play, and the higher the likelihood that the player will score, regardless of what the batter does. IBM is the statistic – finally – that is the true combination of OBP and slugging percentage. OPS is a useful statistic, but it doesn’t tell anything close to a full picture. Someone with an OBP of .800, for example, could be really good at getting on base but not hit for power, or hit for lots of power but not get on base so much, or do both a little bit. You just don’t know. With IBM, that problem is gone.
IBM measures individual bases advanced per plate appearance. It’s a relatively simple formula.
IBM = singles + 2(doubles) + 3(triples) + 4(home runs) + HBP + BB / Plate appearances
Clearly, every base advanced is some fraction of a run contributed – after all, that’s all a run is, a player advancing four bases. With that in mind, I calculated the IBMs of some notable players of the 2014 free agent class, at the Mets positions of need – first base, shortstop, and outfield.
2013-14 Free Agent Class
IBM Calculations by position (last 3 seasons unless otherwise stated)
Positions of need – 1B, SS, OF
Top 3 in each category bold
Yuniesky Betancourt: .396
Corey Hart (2010-2012): .565
Casey Kotchman: .428
James Loney: .441 (improving)
Kendrys Morales: .501
Justin Morneau: .529
Mike Napoli: .594
Carlos Peña: .494 (high value)
Mark Reynolds: .515 (high value)
Chad Tracy: .419
Ty Wigginton: .452
Kevin Youkilis: .506
Clint Barmes: .382
Willie Bloomquist: .437
Alexi Casilla: .431
Stephen Drew: .471
Rafael Furcal (2011-2012): .421
Jhonny Peralta: .482
Brennan Boesch: .469
Raul Ibañez: .495
Reed Johnson: .457
Jason Kubel: .491 (buy low)
Nate McLouth: .479
Michael Morse: .516 (declining)
David Murphy: .536 (fluke 2012)
Juan Pierre: .425
Delmon Young: .431
Rick Ankiel: .442 (declining)
Rajai Davis: .512
Jacoby Ellsbury (2012-2013): .516
Curtis Granderson: .586 (maybe declining)
Franklin Gutierrez: .419
Grady Sizemore: .490
Andres Torres: .436
Chris Young: .505 (good value)
Carlos Beltran: .559
Roger Bernadina: .453
Shin-Soo Choo: .552 (last two years .567)
Nelson Cruz: .539
Jeff Francoeur: .460 (buy low)
In contrast, here is a typical 2013 Mets lineup
Eric Young Jr.: .460
Daniel Murphy: .470
David Wright: .588
Ike Davis: .489
Andrew Brown: .448
Travis d’Arnaud: .339 (only 112 PA)
Juan Lagares: .394
Omar Quintanilla: .362
The Mets also traded away Marlon Byrd, whose IBM at the time was .547, and John Buck, whose IBM at the time was whose IBM at the time was .428.
As we examine the list, looking for an upgrade in the outfield, first base, and shortstop, we find that based on IBM, almost anyone would be an upgrade over Andrew Brown, and that Carlos Peña, as well as Mark Reynolds and Justin Morneau, (and the obvious ones, like Corey Hart and Mike Napoli). At shortstop, we see that steroids notwithstanding, Jhonny Peralta is a better buy than Stephen Drew, and that Willie Bloomquist is somewhat of a sleeper as the third best offensive shortstop in free agency, albeit in a small sample size over the last three years.
I hope you recognize IBM as the metric that it is. Nevertheless, I’m sure that, as with all new statistics, it has its flaws. If you’d like to point them out, please do it nicely. No need to get angry.
Tuesday, November 5th, was shaping up to be a rather normal day for me. Baseball season’s over, the Knicks are just getting started, and there’s no football for five days. Fine. Suddenly, out of the blue, the day was completely ruined. And this is not an understatement.
I had counted on Matt Harvey finishing second in the Cy Young voting since around May 1st, when Clayton Kershaw overtook him in the E.R.A. race. When Harvey got hurt, I took some solace, however small, in knowing with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that Harvey, at the very least, would be a finalist for the award. When it was announced that he would have Tommy John surgery, I was sure that he would at least leave on a good note, finishing 2nd or 3rd behind Kershaw in the voting.
Today, the BBWTF did what they do best. They took facts, statistics, numbers, human sense, inhuman sense, completely unbiased examination, decades worth of statistical analysis, the human element, the element that it would be nice to give a young guy who will fight to rebuild his career a warm send-off, they took all that, and they said, “Screw all that, we’re giving it to the Cardinals.”
I’d like to meet all the writers who didn’t vote for Matt Harvey in any of the top three spots on their ballots, and I’d like to ask them, “Why didn’t you vote for Harvey?” And they’d respond, in some stupid way. ”He only won nine games.” Sure, the fact that his run support was among the lowest in the league had nothing to do with that? ”He didn’t finish the season well.” Yes, that’s true, because he was pitching with an elbow that needed Tommy John surgery. ”He only made 26 starts.” If you think that making five more starts would have somehow cost him his season, I have nothing else to say.
As I reacted, shocked, to the announcement, I dug up some numbers that clearly weren’t considered in the Cy Young voting.
Harvey ERA: 2.27
Wainwright ERA: 2.94
Harvey ERA+: 157
Wainwright ERA+: 123
Harvey WHIP: .931
Wainwright WHIP: 1.068
Harvey BB: 31
Wainwright BB: 35
Harvey K/9: 9.6
Wainwright K/9: 8.2
Harvey Hits/9: 6.8
Wainwright Hits/9: 8.3
Whether you want to do it using traditional stats (ERA), modern stats (ERA+), underused stats (WHIP), stats per nine innings, or total stats, you can really only make one conclusion. I shouldn’t even have to explain this, it’s that clear.
Here’s an overview of what the BBWTF has done in the last 11 months.
1) Looked at a Hall of Fame class containing the best offensive catcher ever, a member of the 3000 hit club, a superstar 1st baseman with zero ties to PEDs, and a player with over 800 career stolen bases, and chosen to electe none of them.
2) Watched the meteoric rise of a young pitcher to superstardom, watched him throw four near no-hitters, watched him start the All-Star Game, watched him have one of the better pitching seasons in recent memory, watched a fanbase’s hearts break as he was hurt, watched him make the difficult yet bravely correct choice to undergo rehab, watched him fight back, and not even made him a Cy Young Finalist.
I, for one, am getting quite sick of the BBWTF strutting around like it knows everything while being clearly the worst election body in professional sports today. I’m not naive enough to think that a change is coming, but it would sure be nice to see things like this voted on by people who understand the feel of the game, rather than people who look at everything that Matt Harvey did this year and say, for LITERALLY NO STATISTICAL OR SENTIMENTAL REASON, “I’d rather give it to the Cardinals.”
1: The 2006 season, which had spent years being planned as a can’t-miss championship team and had seemed unbeatable, with a deep bench, pitching, hitting, and defense, and no shortage of talent, was ultimately derailed by a drunk cabbie.
2: Pedro Martinez, pitching like he was back in his prime in May 2006, was instructed by umpires to change his undershirt. He slipped in the hallway to the clubhouse, and hurt his hip. He ended up pitching to an E.R.A. above 4.00.
3: Bobby Bonilla.
4: Ryan Church, batting with two outs, with a man on first and a chance to extend the Mets season and the life of Shea Stadium, looked, for a moment, like he had hit a home run, but Cameron Maybin made the catch.
5: Aaron Heilmann.
6: The Mets propensity to trade away young pitching talent like nobody’s business. The Mets have traded away Heath Bell (2.53 E.R.A., 134 saves from 2007-2011), Philip Humber (perfect game), Roger McDowell, Scott Kazmir, Dan Wheeler (2.36 E.R.A. in two years after the trade), Jason Isringhausen, who became a star, Tug McGraw, and, of course, a young fellow named Nolan Ryan. On the other hand, some of the notable pitchers that they’ve received in trades include Victor Zambrano, Oliver Perez, Billy Taylor, and Kris Benson.
8: Bobby Bonilla again.
9: Mike Piazza flies out to the wall to end the world series.
10: 7 games up with 17 left to play…
Boy, the offseason sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the playoffs (Go Sox, go Dodgers), but I just can’t get excited about it like a Mets game. It’s only been two weeks, and already the Mets have lost out on a first baseman (one of their more pressing needs, many would say), and besides that, done nothing of note, except announce their new radio home.
Honestly, would it have been so terrible to express at least a morsel of real interest in José Abreu? Apparently, to Hurricane Sandy and the rest of the “Brass” (more like plastic), it wasn’t. I guess, in a way, it makes sense. Why sign a player in the prime of his career to a contract that could turn out to be a bargain, especially when he’s coming from Cuba, which has only had three players in the last three years come over and become stars (Puig, Cespedes, Chapman)? That seems to be Sandy’s line of thinking. Of course, he apparently did express “significant interest” in Abreu, but you have to look at that on a scale that’s calibrated to Sandy Alderson interest, rather than other GM’s interest. When Sandy says he has “significant” interest, the interest is actually significant, in the same sense that LBJ would “not” send our young boys to Vietnam.
The Mets are switching over to WOR, which is, as far as I can tell, a radio station. Besides that, it doesn’t seem to distinguish itseIf. Besides the Mets, its lineup will feature mainly political talk, which should be perfect for the Wilpons. I’m sure Fred will grant an interview to “John and Ted” to discuss the team’s move. (“Well, John, I’m certainly in favor of government aid to big business.”) But really, I don’t see this station as a great fit for the team, especially with the news that it is uncertain whether Josh Lewin will make the trip with Howie. Most Mets fans agree that Josh is the best think to happen to the “Peerless Boilers Broadcast Booth” (hopefully not long for this world) since Bob Murphy (or at least Gary Cohen), and, although I’m confident that Lewin and the station will work something out, I think I speak for most of us when I say that we’d love to see Josh stick around for a while.
And that’s what’s happened this offseason. Sure, it’s been dull, but the dullness now will just make it that much sweeter when we learn that Sandy’s gone out and signed a BIG NEW ADDITIO…no, but seriously, the offseason just makes us appreciate the on-season all that much more, so be grateful for it while you can.
It can be all too easy to become discouraged during the offseason. Rumors fly, they don’t come true, everyone is talking about the Yankees, and you’re reduced to having the memory of two Mike Baxter walk-offs as your happy place. The Mets say they might sign people, they don’t sign anyone, and instead of being real news, Mets.com flashes things like “Mets’ coat drive in Far Rockaway a complete success.” All in all, the offseason is, without a doubt, the worst part of the year.
But the most important thing to do, during these periods of darkness, is to keep yourself together. Just because the Mets aren’t playing doesn’t mean you can’t keep thinking about them. I’ve put together some suggestions as to how you can pass the offseason by and stay sane for opening day 2014, which is in about 182 days.
1: Plan your Opening Day. I personally will not be able to attend Opening Day 2014, pending a sudden change in the Gregorian calendar. Apparently, attending Opening Day on a monday can lead to big fancy words like “Truancy,” “Suspension,” and “No baseball for a month.” However, I’ve already got my day (March 31, 2014) planned. I’m not giving it away, but suffice to say it involves my trusty transistor radio and maybe staying out a little bit late for lunch. (All else aside for a moment, this really is the finest transistor I’ve encountered – makes listening to games ridiculously easy. I carry it with me everywhere – it fits anywhere where a phone or wallet would. I would pay $40 for it, and you’ll only have to pay $12.99). Think about what you’ll do on Opening Day. Map out your parking plans based on Mets Police’s handy guide to parking for free in Queens (coming soon). Decide which jersey you’ll wear. Maybe even hit up the 7 line for group tickets – one of the greatest experiences a Mets fan can have. Above all, don’t forget that although it may seem that Opening Day will never come, it will eventually be there, and it will be better than you could have ever imagined.
2: Buy a jersey. Any player you want works, but for a lasting impression, get a player that no one else is in to. Jerseys (or player t-shirts) I’ve owned include Joe Smith, Omir Santos, Pedro Beato (hence the name), and Collin Cowgill. Yeah, I’ve also got Wright and Harvey, but there’s nothing like breaking out the old Beato shirt (it’s the same design they used with the Los Mets jerseys, but in english – predominantly orange) and watching people wrack their brains to remember who Beato was. Buying a cap also works, but usually it’s not as exciting. For best results, buy in person at a Mets clubhouse shop.
3: Watch a Mets documentary. These include 1986: A Year to Remember, The Last Play At Shea, Mathematically Alive: A Story Of A Fandom (no links), Knuckleball, and other Mets films, such as the “Mets All-Time Team,” “Mets: 50 Greatest Players,” and the videos of the games themselves, particularly the 1986 World Series complete set, which is excellent.
4: Read. Unlike high school english class, where subject matter seems to be confined to the significance of the color of the furniture, reading about the Mets is almost as fun as watching them. My personal favorite piece of Mets literature is Greg Prince’s Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, but besides that, I’ve read Shannon Sharke’s Send The Beer Guy: Mets Fan, Mets Vendor, Mets Police, as well as many other tomes that will go unmentioned because they’re all similar, and quite good.
Using these above tips, you should be able to pass the offseason relatively quickly, but I have one more piece of advice. Break it up. Small, manageable pieces, that’s the key. Just go until Thanksgiving, that’s the first step, and then until Christmas. Once the holiday spirit wears off, it’s around January 7th, and you can keep yourself occupied with rumors for a few weeks, by which time it’s almost time for Spring Training, and you get daily pictures of early arrivers fielding grounders in Port St. Lucie. After that, it’s just a few weeks until spring training game #1, which satisfies your need for baseball, until you get close to the season, around March 15th, and then you have just two weeks left until the season, and once you’ve toughed those out, it’s back to baseball. You’ll manage.
Anyone care to make a few offseason vouchers?
Over/Under on rumor that Shin Soo Choo is considering signing with the Mets: 2.5 months – I’m taking the under.
Over/Under on rumor that Matt Harvey will have surgery: 2.5 months – I’ll take the under on this one.
Over/Under on the signing of a veteran, borderline at best, starting pitcher: 3.5 months – I’ll take the over. Looking at Josh Johnson, maybe?
Over/Under on Sandy saying that he’s excited about the pitcher mentioned above: 3.6 months – I’ll take the spread exactly.
Over/Under on high impact signing: 15.5 months. I’ll take the over.
Over/Under on Robinson Cano getting more than $250 from anyone: 20 years. I’ll take the over on this one.
Over/Under on 30-something players signed to minor league deals, but still being hyped up: 4.5. I’ll take the over.
Over/Under on total salary given out to free agents, not including arbitration: $24.5 million. It pains me to say it, but I gotta take the under.
Over/Under on incidents involving Ruben Tejada: 1.5. I’ll take the under – I get a good feeling about Tejada next year.
Over/Under on Jordany Valdespin stories: 3.5. I’ll take the over – I don’t have any such good feelings about Tejada.
Well, it’s been a good season. Now, we’d better hunker down for six months of inactivity. Check out the Official Opening Day 2014 countdown clock if you’re interested in knowing how much longer you have to pretend to care about the Giants, or the Rangers, or the Nets. Baseball will be back, and we’ll be right back with it.