Tagged: Mets

NL East

Note: a “straight
run differential projection” is based on a team’s actual runs scored and
runs allowed.  A “component runs projected” is based on
basic runs created and component ERA without the adjustment to make it an ERA figure (i.e. IP and
the multiplication by 9 not included).  I then applied the
Pythagorean
Formula
with an exponent of
1.83.

As recently as ten days ago, all five teams in this division
were within six games of the lead.  Oh, what an interesting difference a
week can make in the post-Memorial day environment.  With summer now upon
us three teams have winning records and are within 5.5 games of the top, while
a fourth team clings to playoff contention and the fifth is regressing to its
mean, with hopes and dreams for next season dancing in its (collective) head.

 

BRAVES

42-28, .600 winning percentage, 0 GB, 4.91 runs/game (1st in
NL), 3.96 runs allowed per game (6th in NL); straight run differential
projection of 97 wins and a .599 winning percentage; component run projection
of 90 wins and a .554 winning percentage.

Over the past fortnight, the Braves have played the
Diamondbacks, the Twins, the Rays and the Royals.  Atlanta is 9-4 over
these games, winners of five straight, including 2 of 3 from the Twins and the
Rays, and a clean sweep of three games from the Royals.  Over these last
thirteen games, the Braves have scored 67 runs (5.15 per game) while allowing
54 (4.15 per game).  They’ve allowed a few more than they have been giving
up on average, but they continue their league-leading offensive ways.  And
while the D-Back and the Royals aren’t exactly top-flight competition, the
Twins and the Rays are, and the Braves took four of six games from
those two teams.  Bobby Cox’s team is no fluke and figures to be in the
hunt the whole way down the road.

Looking ahead the Braves visit the White Sox starting tonight before returning
home to face the Tigers and Nationals as they end the month of June.  

Calcaterra refutes the “grit” notion, arguing that the Braves’ success stems from
skill rather than an immeasurable intangible.

A possible distraction for this ballclub has been the Chipper
Jones’ saga: will he or won’t he retire.  Chipper himself has played coy, refusing to give a definitive answer.
 The funny part has been that he’s been hitting close to .500 since all the speculation started.

While the Braves’ outfield could use some help, their pitching is likely to improve.  

ATL--Eric Hinske.jpgAn unheralded free agent signee, Eric Hinke is hot at the right time in the right place.

 

MARLINS

33-36, .478 winning percentage, 8.5 GB, 5 GB Wild Card.
 4.70 runs/game (4th in NL), 4.36 runs allowed per game (8th in NL).
 Straight run differential projection of 83 wins and a .510 winning
percentage.  Component run projection for 79 wins and a .490 winning
percentage.

Over the past two weeks, the Marlins have visited the Phillies,
the Rays, and the Rangers, and they have hosted the Rays.  They were 5-5
over that stretch, and while they were swept by the Rangers, Florida did take
four of six games from the Rays in their two weekend series.  The Yankees
thus own the Marlins some thanks or something,  Over their past ten games,
the Marlins have scored 63 runs while allowing 55 (no per game figures for ten
games, just move the decimal point).  Scoring has thus been up in their
games, as they are scoring and allowing more runs per game over the stretch in
question.  

As play progressed, the Marlins visit Baltimore before returning
home to end June, playing the Padres and the Met in two tough series.

Defensive lapses have proved costly to
Florida of late.

Is Ricky Nolasco the new Carl Pavano (in a that’s not
a compliment kind of way)?

While rookie OF Mike Stanton has hit his first MLB home run in “grand
fashion”, he is still making the adjustment to the Show and
striking out a whole, whole lot (44% of his plate
appearances).  As expected, Cameron Maybin has been shipped back to AAA to make
room for Stanton on the Major League roster.

A couple more promotions and demotions have occurred as the
Marlins try to work past their bullpen blahs and improve what has been a weak link outside of Leo
Nunez. 

FLA--Josh Johnson.jpgWhile Ubaldo Jiminez and Roy Halladay have generated a lot of
justifiable hoopla, Josh Johnson’s awesomeness has been kind of lost in the
shuffle.  J. J., who faced Halladay the night Roy threw his perfect game
in Florida and picked up a tough luck loss in a game in which he allowed only
one unearned run, has been masterful this season.  He
outpitched Halladay twelve days after the perfect game completely shutting the
Phillies down over eight innings.  Johnson’s game log is impressive, with a bunch more
performances that include two or fewer runs allowed over seven or more innings.
 Johnson is sporting a career-high K rate, a career-low walk rater, which
of course translates into a career-best K/BB ratio; along with that he has a
career-best HR/9 rate, a career-low batting average against, a career-low BABIP
against, a career-high strand rate, and while his groundball-to-flyball rate is
slightly down, his home run to flyball rate is also at a career low.  All
this career-best stuff leads to two conclusions: (1) he’s having a career
season and has pretty much a dominant starting pitcher; and (2) he probably
won’t sustain his current level of statistical dominance, but,
then again, he doesn’t need to do so to remain one of the three best starting
pitchers in the National League, and even if his numbers slide some he’ll still
be
 among the best starting pitchers in baseball.

 

METS

30-30, .565 winning percentage, 2.5 GB, 0 GB wild card.
 4.51 runs per game (9th in NL), 3.91 runs allowed per game (5th in NL).
 Straight run differential projection at 91 wins and a .565 winning
percentage; component run projection for 79 wins and a .490 winning percentage.

Note the wild disparity between the straight run differential
projection and the component run projection.  I checked the data three
times and it’s all correct and the spreadsheet is calculating things the right
way.  The Mets are one of the following: (a) really lucky, (b) really
efficient, or (c) some combination of lucky and efficient.  Their actual
run differential is 311 runs scored and 270 runs allowed, but their component
run differential–what we’d expect them to have scored and allowed–is 300 runs
scored versus 346 runs allowed.  So, where my projection is really screwing
up and misreading reality is on the runs allowed question.  It’s been
pretty accurate with other teams, so I’m wondering if someone else who runs
projections and calculates run projections is getting the same strange reading
of the Mets.  I suppose I should be happy for the guys in Queens, but I’m
more concerned that the Mets are wrecking my statistical model.
 (Actually, it’s probably that I’m running a less-that-optimal runs
allowed projection, which is referred to in the “introduction” to
this post.)

Over the past two weeks, the Mets have played the Padres, the Orioles,
the Indians, and the Yankees.  They beat the crap out of who they should
have beaten and dropped two of three to the Yankees in the Bronx.  The
finished the stretch of games 9-3, having scored 57 runs (4.75 per game) and
having allowed 34 (2.83 per game)  That the Padres and Orioles aren’t
exactly offensive powerhouses, the Yankees are, so the Mets have
pitched and fielded pretty darn well over this stretch, and they have been hot
since the beginning of the month, with a 13-4 record in June.  They are
playing a lot better than I thought they would this season, for I had them
pegged as the Cubs of the East, and they are doing this despite three potential
points of weakness: (1) Jason Bay’s underperformance; (2) Jeff
Francouer’s near-total lack of production; and (3) Johan Satnana’s declining velocity.

NYM--Johan Santan 0620.jpg  

The main problem I have with the Mets outperforming expectations
is that it virtually guarantees that GM Omar Minaya will continue to hold his
position and that the Mets’ front office will remain shielded from the
intensive scrutiny that they should be receiving for their previous follies.
 Oh, who am I kidding?  Not living in New York, I am not exposed to
the constant scrutiny the Mets receive, so I’m not aware of it.  But I do
wish to encourage the New York sports media to go nuts figuring out how the Mets’
front office has managed to disappoint repeatedly in the last few years.

Speaking of the Mets’ GM, Mets players want him to go get them an ace, so
maybe the players realize that the team’s actual runs allowed are out of line
with what should be going on.  And maybe they, too, realize the
implications of Santana’s declining velocity.

 

NATIONALS

32-39, 10.5 GB, 8 GB Wild Card.  4.15 runs/game (12th in
NL), 4.66 runs allowed per game (12th in NL).  Straight run differential
projection for 73 wins and a .449 winning percentage.  Component run
projection for 71 wins and a .440 winning percentage.

Over the past two weeks the Nationals have been fading
fast
 have played the Pirates, Indians, Tigers, White Sox, and Royalls,
and they are 5-8 in their games during that stretch, including a sweep of
PIttsburgh, dropping two of three in Cleveland, and being swept by both the
 Tigers and the White Sox.  In those 13 games, the Nationals have
scored 44 runs (3.38 per game) while allowing 60 (4.62 per game), a showing of
offensive ineptitude.  Explaining why they’ve lost more than they’ve won
seems a waste of time since allowing 1.24 more runs per game than you’re
scoring is a one-way ticket to the cellar.

In better news, the Royals seem just the sort of tonic the
Nationals are in need of and they are in Washington for two more games.
 The Nationals beat Kansas City behind some strong pitching on
Monday night.

To finish June the Nationals will finish the KC series before
traveling to Baltimore–another tonic–and Atlanta–not so much on the tonic
end of things.

Obligatory Stephen Strasburg link dump to follow.

Are strikeouts a bad thing for Stephen
Strasburg?  Thomas Boswell wants to minimize the stress on SS’s arm and so
would like to see fewer deep counts, fewer pitches, and more weak tappers.
 He’s got a point, sort of.

It turns out that hitters aren’t alone in being overwhelmed by
Strasburg’s stuff: he’s too much for the umpires to handle as well.

Murray Chass has questions
regarding Strasburg’s innings pitched
.  Rob Neyer provides answers.

In other Nationals’ pitching news, John Lannan was sent down to
Double-A, which leads to some questions, but a glance at his peripherals provides some
answers, with Josh Alper of Fanhouse hitting the nail
squarely on the head: 

For his career, he’s struck out just 4.3 batters per nine innings
and walked 3.5, a ratio that makes it very difficult to sustain success over a
long period of time. His groundball rate has dropped since 2008, a further sign
of trouble for a pitcher who simply can’t miss bats often enough.

 

PHILLIES

35-32, .522 winning percentage, 5.5 GB, 3.5 GB Wild Card.
 4.60 runs per game (7th in NL) and 4.28 runs allowed per game (7th in
NL).  Straight Run Differential Projection for 86 wins with a .528 winning
percentage.  Component run projection for 82 wins and a .508 wining
percentage.

Over the last fortnight, the Phillies are 5-7 in their games
versus the Padres, the Marlins, the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Twins.
 That is good competition but it seems as though the Phillies are waiting
for their Godot or their Mojo or something.  In taking two
of three from the Yankees in the Bronx, there were thoughts that the series could turn their season around, but they promptly
returned home and dropped two of three to the Twins.  While lots of teams
have dropped two of three to the Twins, the problem for the Phillies was that
they dropped a game on Saturday in which they led 8-3 at one point, meaning
they had to really subtract some serious Win Probability to
lose that game, and then they lost behind Roy Halladay who was seemingly
outpitched by Carl Pavano (?!) on Sunday afternoon.

Over their past twelve games, the Phillies have scored 56 runs
(4.57 per game) while allowing 72 runs (6.00 per game).  Despite the fact
that two of their losses included back-to-back thumpings by the Red Sox, the
Phillies’ run prevention efforts have been subpar and are a significant
contributor to their recent slide in the standings.  While their offensive
woes have received more attention–and justly so, since their offense has been
highly touted–their inability to compensate for their muffled bats with
tighter defense and better pitching, particularly from the bullpen, has been a
real and perhaps growing problem.

The Phillies finish June by visiting Cleveland, then returning
to Philadelphia to “visit” the Blue Jays before traveling to
Cincinnati.  

Despite their recent struggles, everyone around
Philadelphia insists things are still cool.

The Phillies’ mojo–or at least their shortstop Jimmy Rollins–is due back today.

 

 


Oliver Perez as Non-Contributor

A couple of writers go all “what the hell?” over Oliver Perez’s refusal to accept assignment and figure out how to help the Mets at Triple-A.  (First Pitch Strike is still all “what the hell” over Mets’ GM Omar Minaya’s decision to keep the guy around at the price he kept him around for.)

First, Isaac Thorn at “Baseball Daily Digest” is just plain disgusted.  First, there’s this:

It is apparent to all that he is not good enough to pitch every five days for the Mets, whose staff is by no means full of guys having decent seasons beyond Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey.

Is it laziness, pride, or the fact that he knows no one can force him to try to learn how to pitch down in AAA?

Perez’s most recent response to suggestions that he should accept the designation was something along the lines of “one good start can turn everything around.”

With other pitchers this might hold more water, but with Ollie we all know that if he does somehow freak a decent start, it will surely be followed by three terrible ones.

And then, there’s this:

I’m glad that the Mets clubhouse is turning on Perez, and voicing their anger to the press about his refusal to take his medicine, admit he is a terrible pitcher, and go somewhere where he might be able to somehow become slightly less terrible.

Elmer Dessens, and other journeyman long relievers are just fine for that role. Perez can’t even function as one because he can’t throw strikes reliably.

Maybe Perez is hoping to force Omar Minaya’s hand, and earning his release.

Perez is the Eddy Curry of the Mets….a guy who is good for nothing, and doesn’t mind.

Last night’s drubbing in lovely, serene San Diego hammered the point home further. What’s the point of carrying a pitcher who you only feel comfortable using when you feel the game is out of reach?

Any position player can come in and throw…..and probably get more balls over the plate.

Not too many teams carry a “we’re throwing in the towel on this game” specialist.

Although an astronomical amount of money would be flushed down the toilet by releasing Ollie, it may be the only thing that makes sense.

With good reason, he is disliked by the entire organization and the fans too.

What do you do with a pitcher who can’t pitch, who is clogging up a roster spot that could surely be used some how.

In short, he’s a clubhouse cancer who’s holding up a roster spot and consuming an obscene amount of payroll while contributing nothing but negative WPA on the field and pretty much not throwing first pitch strikes and thus doing the opposite of his job.  Check.
Rob Neyer
bluntly calls Ollie out for his selfish and foolish behavior, noting that Perez’s refusal to go to the minors essential eliminates the possibility that he’ll ever be effective again.  On the Collective Bargaining Agreement: Oliver Perez’s position in this matter is going to make the Players’ Association look foolish if they won’t be willing to re-visit this issue in light of Perez’s foolish and selfish behavior. 
However, the key sentences to me are the ones that damn Minaya and the Mets’ organization for their foolishness:
[The Mets] have to pay him anyway, and once a player begins to affect the well-being of his own clubhouse, it’s really time to cut the cord. The odds against his ever again becoming a serviceable big league pitcher are prohibitive, so it really serves no purpose to keep him around just to save face

Oliver Perez A Laughing Matter for Jerry Manuel

Jerry Manuel cracks jokes at Oliver Perez’s expense.  

The guy who should really, really feel like a fool is the guy who gave Oliver Perez the contract that (1) allows him to refuse assignment, and (2) pays him $12 million for 2010.  
Perez’s numbers are, uh, brutal thus far this year; his peripherals tell an equally ugly story:  0.91 K/BB ratio, a BABIP (.313) that shows him being unlucky against his career rate (.287), and while he’s getting more groundballs, he’s also seeing a higher percentage of the flyballs he allows leave the yard.  His xFIP is lower than his ERA, but not by much.
So, returning to the whole the guy who should feel like a fool is the guy who gave Oliver Perez his contract, that guy would be Mets’ GM Omar Minaya.  As Bugs Bunny might say: “What a maroon!”  It’s GM-ing like this that has had Jerry Manuel on a managerial hot-seat this year.   If Manuel is eventually let go, then the Mets’ front office should go as well.
In other Oliver Perez news, he did manage to see action in last night’s debacle in San Diego, working two mop-up innings in the Mets’ 6-18 loss in San Diego.  Yes, the Padres scored 18 runs on one game.  No, I don’t think it’s the drinking water.  Yes, there’s always some new surprise during the baseball season.  No, Oliver Perez did not look sharp (2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 ER).
UPDATE: Oliver Perez will not be released.  So the Met’s front office just doesn’t get the notion of sunk cost (and the accompanying sunk cost dilemma), huh?  Or do they seriously expect Perez to get better while he refuses to take on work that might actually help him improve?  Or do they figure that his presence in the clubhouse will be a positive thing since it gives Jerry Manuel something to joke about and the rest of the ballclub an “other” from which they can differentiate themselves (unity through ostracism) ?  Whatever it is, Minaya seriously deserves consideration for World Baseball Executive of 2008-2010.

Holy Mammal of Some Sort: Mets Sweep Phillies and Shut Them Out For the Series

Yup, the Mets shut the powerful Phillies out over three consecutive games, sweeping them after taking two of three from the Yankees in a series that saw the Mets shut down the Bombers as well.

In their last six games, the Mets are 5-1 and have allowed 2, 3, and 4 runs to the Yankees and 0, 0, and 0 runs to the Phillies, for a total of 9 runs allowed, or 1.5 runs/game.  Like the New York Times account says, the Mets must really not want to leave CitiField right now, since they just won five of six from last season’s World Series participants.  
Oh, and the Phillies, well, talk about slumping: over the Phillies’ last nine games, they are 2-7, and they have scored 1, 1, 5, 5, 0, 3, 0, 0, and 0 runs, which makes 15 runs in 9 games, or 1.67 runs/game.  Even in the Dead Ball Era that wouldn’t get it done. 

Jerry Manuel Reportedly Not Worried About Job

CBS Sports reports that Jerry Manuel denies being worried about losing his job as manager of the New York Mets.  Mets’ chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon says that firing Manuel isn’t on his agenda.

Hmm.  If this were politics, Manuel would be on his way out for sure.  You know, politics, where presidents say so-and-so retains my full confidence just days before so-and-so hands in his or her resignation.  
So I am not sure how to interpret this “news”, but since it’s the Mets, I am entirely unsure as to whether anything presented for public consumption bears any resemblance to what we commonly refer to as “truth.”

Lou Pinella and Jerry Manuel on Very Hot Seats, But…

First, the story in general.

Second, specifics on Pinella, courtesy of Ken Rosenthal.
Third, some specifics on Manuel, courtesy of Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post.
Fourth, while interesting and certainly fodder for discussion, “First Pitch Strike” thinks that both organizations are a disgrace and whole lot more people, lots of them in the front offices in Chicago and New York, need to walk the plank as well.  These are premier organizations in large markets with enormous revenue streams and very big payrolls.  There is no excuse for either the Mets of the Cubs to be failing and flailing.  None.
When I polled my baseball fan buddies about the worse run organizations in the Majors, the top five responses were (in no particular order): Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, Houston.  While Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Houston certainly aren’t well run, they at least have some excuses that the Cubs and Mets don’t have: smaller markets and smaller revenue streams.  
So, if you’re gonna’ advocate axing the managers of the Cubs and the Mets, you have to be consistent and advocate the gutting of their front offices as well. How the Mets’ GM hangs on is some kind of mystery to me, anyway.  But Wilpon, the Mets’ owner, has some judgment issues, you know?

Heelllllllooooo Bernadina!

Roger_Bernadina.jpg

Roger Bernadina, who entered the day with 0 Major League
homeruns, blasted two HR today for the Washington Nationals, including a
no-doubt 2-run dong off of
Francisco Rodriguez
in the top of the ninth to put the Nationals (!) for good, a shot the Mets announces (over)estimated at 440′   

Though K-Rod K’d the next batter, C Wil
Nieves, he was smattered with boos as he left the field in the middle of the
inning. 

Matt Capps came in and saved the game, and the Nationals won 6-4, taking 2 of 3 from the Mets, and leaving them in sole possession of 2nd place in the NL East.  This is the third consecutive series they have won from an NL East opponent.   

UPDATE: As you can see here, Bernadina had a .570 Win Probability Added for the game, and, by looking at the chart, his 2-run shot in the 9th must have carried about .400 to .415 all by itself.  Nice job, Roger, hope you continue to crush. 

UPDATE 2: As you can see here (if you scroll down to the bottom of the page to the top of the 9th inning), Bernadina’s 2-run 9th inning homerun had a WPA value of .487.