Posted tagged ‘New York Mets’

Carlos Beltran traded to San Francisco

July 28, 2011

More big news from yesterday was the trade of Carlos Beltran for Zach Wheeler. The Mets will also pay $4mil of the $6mil remaining on Beltran’s contract for 2011.

Beltran has already produced 4.0 fWAR this season, and going out on a limb, let’s say he produces another 2 WAR down the stretch. That will be $9mil in value- minus the $2mil the Giants will pay and he will give them $7mil in value. However, they traded their top pitching prospect and one of the games top prospects in Zach Wheeler. As a top 25 pitching prospect, Wheeler is worth $15.9mil. So in return for two months of Carlos Beltran, the Giants are parting with a top prospect who has more than double the value of Carlos Beltran.

This is a bad deal for the Giants. Yes, I understand the Giants will probably make the postseason and they need to add offense. Beltran is a good hitter and will help. So they should be, and are willing to give up some value to make another World Series run. But I feel like they gave up too much. I think the deal couldĀ  have been done without giving up your best pitching prospect. Moreover, because of the disparity in value, the Giants will need to win the World Series again to justify this deal.

Man, I can’t believe the Mets actually made a good move.

 

Carlos Delgado and the Hall of Fame

April 15, 2011

In other recent news, Carlos Delgado has officially retired. He was a big time player at his peak, but is he a Hall of Famer?

Looking at his basic line, one might assume so. He hit .280/.383/.546/.390/135+. That’s pretty damn good. HOWEVER…he wasn’t a good fielder. He racked a negative 60.8 fielding runs according to fangraphs. Yikes! Moreover, he was a first baseman in baseballs biggest power era. So yeah, without context his line looks extraordinary, and it still is a good line, but relative to his era, it’s not Hall of Fame.

WAR also disagrees with Delgado’s HOF candidacy. According to fWAR, his career total was 49.1- and it’s even lower according to B-R. His WAR/700 is 3.97. That’s not cutting it. He only had 1 MVP level season (6+ WAR) and his WAE was “just” 14.3. He was an excellent player for a good bit, but he wasn’t special.

So while he enjoyed a good career, it was not quite on a Hall of Fame level. Sorry Carlos.

Divisional Preview: NL East

March 20, 2011

Not much of a prelude here, the NL East by far is the best division in the National League. The Braves and Phillies are probably the best two teams in the league, and Marlins would be competing for the divisional title in the other two divisions.So lets get to the predictions.

1) Philadelphia Phillies (93-69)

They are the best team in the league, easily in my opinion. Between Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt I just don’t see how they can falter, even if the Braves have a great season. That’s three probable HOF pitchers, still on the top of their game, and another AS-caliber pitcher. They will be contending in just about every single game they play this season. The bullpen may be the team’s weakest point, but it’s not bad enough to be of major concern. Brad Lidge may be Mr. Inconsistent, but Ryan Madson is a good reliever who will make important appearances late in games.

The biggest blow to their title run is the probable loss of Chase Utley. It’s such a shame because Utley has probably been the best player in baseball outside Albert Pujols the past half decade. Yet he never got the MVP hardware he deserved and more than ever it looks like we will never see the 7+ WAR Utley again. Don’t me wrong, the skill is still there, but he has the body of a 70 year old man. I don’t want to say his career is over, because that’s quite dramatic, but it’s on life support in my opinion. Losing Utley is devastating because Polanco and Rollins and Ibanez aren’t young doves anymore, and replacing Jayson Werth with Ben Francisco and a raw Domonic Brown isn’t going to lead to more runs. The offense has been a strong point for the Phillies during their recent power grip on the NL East, but the 2011 version could be their worst offense of the past few seasons.

That said, the Phillies should win the division once again.

Players to watch: Domonic Brown, Shane Victorino

2) Atlanta Braves (90-72)

Although the Phillies appear to be the easy favorites, the Atlanta Braves have a real chance of winning the division. The rotation isn’t as good as the Phillies ungodly rotation, but it’s still one of the best in the NL. Tommy Hanson is a stud, and as long as their healthy, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens make a good 2-4. Moreover, Mike Minor should be a big asset for the Braves at the bottom of the rotation. Last year in nine starts, he had a K rate above 9, a BB rate in the 2s, and an FIP of 3.77. Are those numbers he would have kept up across a full season? Probably not, but the point is the kid is the real deal and I expect big things from him. And despite the loss of Billy Wagner, the bullpen will be a strength once again with Johnny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Scott Linebrink, etc.

Now here is where I make a bold prediction. The Braves offense will be better than the Phillies offense. Brian McCann is a severely underrated catcher, Freddie Freeman is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, Uggla is one of the best hitting second baseman in baseball, Chipper Jones can still produce with the bat, Martin Prado is an above average bat, and Jayson Heyward is already an MVP candidate in just his sophomore season.The Braves can get on base, they can slug, and they can score runs.

I don’t think they’ll catch Philadelphia, but they sure will give Philly a run for their money.

Players to watch: Jayson Heyward, Mike Minor

3) Florida Marlins (84-76)

The Marlins will be 2011s biggest surprise. In the NL East they are overshadowed by Philadelphia and Atlanta, but they have a winning roster capable of contending and winning in the NL West and NL Central. The staff is led by Josh Johnson, a stud pitcher who should have won the 2010 Cy Young award if he had not hurt his back. After him, the Marlins have a pair of solid pitchers in Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. Rounding out the rotation are question marks in Javier Vazquez and Chris Volstad, but if they work out the Marlins will have a tough rotation. Florida also completed a bullpen overhaul in the off-season and now have several good arms to complement Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, and Burke Badenhop.

The Marlins have a very young offense that has the potential to be scary good in the future, and possibly 2011. They are led by Hanley Ramirez who is already one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball history. Also leading the attack are young players in Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan, and power hitter Mike Stanton. They may not have the firepower to hang with Philly and Atlanta, but make no mistake, Florida is a good team.

Players to watch: Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson

New York Mets (79-83)

Ah, the poor old New York Mets. Between the mistakes of Omar Minaya to the Ponzi Scheme, the Mets have become a giant joke in baseball. But with the hiring of Sandy Alderson, the Mets seem serious about making a return to prominence. Unfortunately for Mets fans, that return won’t be in 2011. First off, the rotation is shit considering Johan Santana will miss most of the season. That means the Mets will have to rely on the likes of Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Chris Capuano, Pat Misch, etc. I actually like Jon Niese, but he is not a top of the rotation pitcher. And outside K-Rod, the bullpen isn’t good either.

The lineup is a little bit more potent, but it’s not exactly good. Ike Davis is an up and coming first baseman, and even with “struggles” the past couple years, David Wright is a star player at third. Even Jason Bay could have a good offensive season. But what can they expect from Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Angel Pagan? Was Pagan’s 2010 season a fluke? Can Beltran still play? Will Jose Reyes return to his old self? If not, 2011 could be a long and dreary season in Queens.

Players to watch: Jose Reyes, Ike Davis

5) Washington Nationals (69-93)

The future is bright in DC. 2011- not so much. With Bryce Harper figuring to make his debut in 2012 and with Stephen Strasburg ready to return in 2012, the Nationals could soon be a contender. But for now, they are still a last place ball club.

Without Strasburg, the rotation is not good. Jordan Zimmerman has a future, and Tom Gorzelanny is okay, but they will be giving lots of starts to the likes of Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, and Jason Marquis. On a positive note, the bullpen is good, led by Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett.

The lineup should be more potent than the past with the acquisition of Jayson Werth to team up with Ryan Zimmerman, but as a whole the lineup is nothing special. The Nationals are hoping Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa can emerge as good everyday players, but they may still experience growing pains in 2011.

Players to watch: Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmerman

 

Mets fan rejoice

October 5, 2010

Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel will not be back with the Mets next season after they were both: fired, terminated, sacked.

Not that I think the Mets are competent enough to hire capable replacements, but at least it’s a start!

And yes, fan is singular. I’m looking at you.

Valuing a Cliff Lee trade

July 7, 2010

Last night emerged rumors that the Mariners were in talks with the Twins to send Cliff Lee to the Twin Cities for prospects Aaron Hicks and Wilson Ramos. While the reports saying this was a done deal proved to be false, it is clear the Twins are serious in their attempts to acquire the ace left-hander. So lets breakdown any possible Cliff Lee deal to the teams rumored to be in the sweepstakes.

Using research done by Victor Wang, Erik Manning created the below chart to show the estimate future net value provided by prospects:

Top 10 hitting prospects $36.5M
Top 11-25 hitters $25.1
Top 26-50 hitters $23.4
Top 51-75 hitters $14.2
Top 76-100 hitters $12.5
Top 10 pitching prospects $15.2
Top 11-25 pitchers $15.9
Top 26-50 pitchers $15.9
Top 51-75 pitchers $12.1
Top 76-100 pitchers $9.8
Grade B pitchers (as graded by Sickels) $7.3
Grade B hitters $5.5
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger $2.1
Grade C pitchers 23 or older $1.5
Grade C hitters 22 or younger $0.7
Grade C hitters 23 or older $0.5

That chart will be the basis for determining the fair value each team would need to give up to trade for Cliff Lee. First though, let’s figure out the value of Cliff Lee, assuming whatever team he is traded to becomes that division or league’s favorite to reach the World Series.

Cliff Lee trade value

Cliff was projected to earn $9mil this season according to Cot’s Contracts. With the season halfway through, whichever team he is traded to will only pick up half of that. So he’s owed about $4.5mil more this season. In 103 innings thus far, Cliff has a 2.22 FIP and 4.0 WAR. FG rest of season projections have him with a 3.08 FIP over 105 innings. Without doing exact calculations, if Lee pitches in line with his projections, he should post a 3.0 WAR. Using a rough estimate to determine the value per win (according to FG, he has been worth $16mil thus. Divide that by his 4.0 WAR and you get $4mil per WAR) Cliff Lee should be worth $12mil the rest of the regular season (3.0 WAR x $4mil per WAR). But we’re not done there. Whatever team lands Lee will also be landing two first round picks in the 2011 draft, as Lee is a type A free agent. According to Victor Wang’s research, a first round pick is worth about $5mil. So as it stands now, Cliff Lee is worth about $22mil. However, all marginal win value is not created equal. Lee will be going to a team that is in a heated divisional race, so those three wins he is projected to give a team down the stretch are even more important, meaning that each individual win he adds is worth more than $4mil to that club. Then factor in the high leverage postseason innings he would throw and the revenue he would generate through postseason tickets and merchandise, and his value would go up more. So let’s say that each WAR Lee adds to his new team is worth $5mil. Let’s also say he adds an additional WAR in the postseason to go along with the 3.0 he is projected to have in the regular season. Lee would now be worth $20mil (4 WAR x $5mil per WAR) plus the $10mil from the two draft picks, giving Lee a net worth of $30mil. However, the team that acquires him would have to pay the $4.5mil left on his salary, so that lowers his net value to $25.5mil. A hefty price, but certainly one a team can afford if they have plans to win the World Series in 2010.

Now that we know Lee’s current value, let’s see how some generic packages would stack up:

  • Stud hitting prospect would be more than enough for Lee
  • A top twenty five hitting prospect would be just about enough for Lee
  • A top 50 hitting prospect + a tiny piece such as a B or C level prospect would be fair value
  • Two top fifty pitching prospects would be more than enough for Lee
  • A top fifty pitching prospect and a top fifty hitting prospect would also be enough value to get Lee

Minnesota Twins

Right now it appears as if the Twins are the favorites to land Lee. If this happens I might stop watching baseball this season, because even if the Yanks finish the year ten wins better than Minny, they are not beating Lee/Liriano in a five game series. The two prospects Minny is rumored to be giving up are Aaron Hicks, an outfielder in A, and Wilson Ramos, a catcher in AAA. Aaron Hicks is a toolsy player with loads of potential but is still a couple seasons away and Ramos is a ML ready catcher who already has some PA in the majors this season. Before the season, Hicks was rated as the Twins best prospect, the nineteenth best prospect in baseball by BA and the twenty-sixth best prospect by BP. Some mid-season rankings have him falling down the rankings, below fellow Twins prospect Kyle Gibson. To be safe, lets consider Hicks a top 26-50 hitter. That means he is worth $23.4mil. Before the season, Wilson Ramos was considered the Twins second best prospect, the fifty-eighth best prospect in baseball according to BA, and sixty-fifth best according to BP. However, he’s had a poor showing in 2010, so let’s consider him a top 75-100 hitting prospect. He would be worth $12.5mil.

Clearly, the Mariners would be getting good value in return for Cliff Lee. Lee is worth about $26mil and they would be getting about $36mil of value in return. So, yeah, um, I’m really hoping this deal falls through because otherwise I will be a very angry person. As for the Twins- they may be giving up a lot for a rental, but Lee gives them a lethal rotation that could give Minnesota it’s first World Series trophy since 1991.

New York Yankees

Although it makes more sense for the Yankees to go after Lee in the off-season because 1)They wouldn’t have to give up prospects and 2)There is no space for him in the rotation unless Javier Vazquez is traded, you can’t count them out of any deal, especially with rumors that they are starting to get serious about trade talks. The most obvious player Seattle would want is top Yankee prospect, Jesus Montero, a consensus top five prospect in baseball. Top ten hitting prospects provide $36.5mil in value, so giving up Montero is a little excessive from the Yankees point of view, unless they receive additional pieces, such as bench or bullpen relief.

Of all the contenders for Lee, the Yankees need Lee the least, driving down his marginal win value for the Yankees. As a result, the Yankees should not even think of offering Montero for Lee. Sure, they are the current World Series favorites and landing Lee would make them the champs on paper, but it’s not worth giving up Montero when you can win the World Series without Lee AND still sign him come winter. Acquiring Lee means trading Vazquez, or demoting Vazquez or Phil Hughes to the bullpen, which isn’t happening. Moreover, the marginal win value of Lee over Hughes or Vazquez is very small.

A better offer would include another Yankees catching prospect, Austin Romine. He was rated the eighty-sixth best prospect in baseball by BA before the season, and has only gone up after his very solid first half at the AA level. In fact, Frank Piliere of Fanhouse has Romine as the fifteenth best prospect in baseball in his updated rankings. While I think that drastic move up the board is extreme, I believe it’s safe to label Romine as a top 51-75 hitting prospect, making him worth $14.2mil. Another prospect that could be dealt is Andrew Brackman. After a terrible 2009 campaign that left many labeling him a bust, Brackman has returned with vengeance in 2010, and has moved up the ladder to AA. He always had top prospect potential and may finally be realizing it. He should be, at least, a top 76-100 best pitching prospect. That would mean his value is $9.8mil. This package comes out to about $24mil. Obviously, it doesn’t top Minny’s offer, but New York could always add another B level prospect in Zach McCallister or David Phelps to make themselves an interesting trade partner for Seattle.

Tampa Bay Rays

According to Peter Gammons (so take it or leave it considering the source) there are talks of a BJ Upton to Seattle for Cliff Lee trade. These rumors sound far-fetched but are worth addressing. Upton is only making $3mil this season, and would be under team control through 2012, with expected raises in salary from arbitration. According to Rally’s WAR, Upton will finish with a 3.9 WAR in 2010, and his FG WAR is currently 1.2. So let’s say Upton will be worth 2 WAR going forward in 2010. That’s about $8mil and then minus the $1.5mil Seattle has to pay him and he’d be worth $6.5mil. Now, this is going to be poor analysis, but without any calculations, lets assume BJ Upton will be worth, on average, 3 WAR per season in 2011 and 2012. With win values expected to go up because of inflation, lets say Upton is worth a total of $26mil in 2011 and 2012 combined. I may be getting this wrong from studies I’ve read, but in his next arbitration case, lets say Upton sees a salary increase of 60% and then 80% in 2012. That means his 2011 salary will be $4.8mil and his 2012 salary will be $8.6mil. Take that away from his projected $26 WAR value for those two seasons and his net value would be about $13mil. $13mil + $6.5mil = $19.5mil.

But this is a tricky scenario for Seattle. On the surface it looks like getting only Upton in return is not worth it. However, he is just 25 years old. When he was 22 and 23, he put up seasons of 4+ WAR so the potential is there. 2009 was not a strong season, but he still put up an average 2.1 WAR and looks like he will at least match that in 2010. He’s swinging more, especially on pitches outside the zone, and is making less contact. But if he can correct that, he will easily surpass the $26mil in value needed to make a Cliff Lee trade fair. It might just be worth the risk for Seattle.

As for Tampa, I would say its a no-brainer. They play in the hardest division in baseball, so the win or two Lee will give them over Upton over the rest of the reason could be the difference between October baseball or no October baseball. They will also get two draft picks and Desmond Jennings looks ready to step in Upton’s spot and not miss a beat.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers boast one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and have top prospects in Justin Smoak, Martin Perez, and Tanner Scheppers. Smoak through 262 PA has been a major disappointment, highlighted by his 81 wRC+. But he was a top ten hitting prospect prior to the season and smoked the ball in AAA. He would probably be worth the $36.5mil in the deal. So it’s unlikely Texas would give him up to acquire Lee, especially with Rich Harden and Derek Holland expected back in the rotation by the end of the month. Martin Perez is a top ten pitching prospect which is worth $15.2mil and Tanner Scheppers is a top 11-25 pitching prospect, which is worth $15.9 mil. Again, I doubt Texas gives up TWO highly talented arms for a Lee rental. Another potential package could center around Perez or Scheppers, along with ML ready or caliber players in Julio Borbon, Max Ramirez, or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

In the end though, I doubt Seattle trades in the division to Texas. Texas has pieces to give up, but I doubt they want to give them up. Considering how good their prospects are, I believe they would rather be patient knowing they will be World Series contenders for the foreseeable future, rather than go all in for this season.

Philadelphia Phillies

The team that traded big Cliff Lee in the off-season may be trading for him again a year later. Outside Doc Halladay, the Phillies staff has been underwhelming and the Phillies playoff chances are growing thinner by the day. The Phillies top prospect is stud Domonic Brown. The dood killed AA pitching and is killing AAA pitching at the moment. The Phillies have a crowded outfield, but he may force their hand to call him up sooner rather than later. Brown also creates an interesting scenario for Philly. Many believe Werth will leave via free agency after the season, opening up a spot for Brown. But by 2011, the Phillies window for winning the World Series will still be shrinking as key players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan grow older and more injury prone. Will they cash in Brown for a chance to make their third consecutive World Series, or a keep a link to their future? I think they keep Brown. However, should they go all out for Lee, Brown will be fair value and then some for Lee.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals do not have a strong farm system or any ML players Seattle would want, which makes them a reach to land Lee. The only chance they have is to give up top prospect Shelby Miller. Miller is still quite a way from reaching the majors, but many lists have him as a top fifty prospect in all of baseball. By himself, he isn’t quite worth enough to match Lee’s value and the Cardinals don’t have too many worthwhile pieces to add. I don’t see the Mariners finding any deal with St. Louis worthwhile, which might just be fine with St. Louis.

New York Mets

The Mets have long been rumored to be in on the Lee sweepstakes, but with no specific rumors being mentioned. The Mets could give up Ike Davis, a current ML rookie with a 1.2 WAR in 289 PA. Will they want to give up a talented rookie hitter for a rental, that may or may not get them into the postseason? Probably not, especially since the value Davis will give them during his cost-controlled seasons will probably outnumber the value Lee will provide. On the farm the Mets have Jerry Mejia, who pitched out of the bullpen for the Mets this season and is in AA right now, back as a starting pitcher where he belongs. Mejia is a special talent and if we say he is a top 11-25 pitcher, he is worth $15.9mil. With Mejia, they could also throw in Wilmer Flores, a young shortstop already considered a top 100 prospect. Mejia and Flores could be enough value to acquire Lee, but compared to the packages of some other teams, this may not be enough.

Even though I believe Mejia will be a special pitcher, this is a deal New York should make. However, I don’t think Seattle will go for it because of other offers thatĀ  might be on the table.

Cincinnati Reds

Another long shot to acquire Lee, reports say the Reds want in on the sweepstakes, and would make a package centering around Yonder Alonso. Alonso was ranked the forty-fifth best prospect in the game by BA, but he hasn’t showed any real pop so far in the minors. He is a top 51-75 hitting prospect, so he is worth about $14.2mil. Along with Alonso, the Reds could also deal outfielder Clay Heisey, who has already been rumored in a trade for Carlos Marmol. Heisey has been hitting the ball well so far, but going forward should be average offensively and a little above average defensively. He should be worth about $6mil in a deal, so with him and Alonso the Reds still don’t have enough to get Lee. Throw in Travis Wood or Mike Maloney and then Seattle might be interested. Or a possible package could be Yonder Alonso and the Reds #1 prospect, Todd Frazier, but Cincinnati might be hesitant to trade their top two prospects.

Los Angeles Dodgers

LA don’t appear to be serious players for Lee, but they are a team that keeps popping up in rumors. A package of shortstop Dee Gordon- $14.2mil- and Chris Withrow- $15.9mil- could be enough to seal the deal for Seattle. Seattle might want more, but I think LA could be a serious dark horse candidate. I know they have financial issues, but $4.5mil isn’t much, and they have pieces to give up.

Conclusion:

These figures aren’t exact and neither are the packages that have been rumored by sources, or speculated by me, but it gives a good estimate of what type of prospects are necessary to give up if your team wants to acquire Cliff Lee. Keep these estimates in mind when evaluating a future trade, or trade speculation in your own thoughts.

I seriously believe the Twins are the favorites because their offer is the one firm offer that has been confirmed, and it appears to the best offer available, with the Mariners receiving about $36mil in value, compared to around $25mil for Minnesota. The deal would be a no-brainer for both teams. The Mariners would get two top prospects, and the Twins would boost their World Series chances.

How the Mets should handle the Carlos Beltran/Angel Pagan situation

June 23, 2010

To begin, I can’t believe this needs a post. The answer is simple. Start Beltran in center, slide Pagan to right, and bench Francouer. But to most Mets fans and some writers, this is a serious question. They believe Pagan should start over Beltran and that Beltran might be hurting the team. Yeah, I know, it’s stoopid. We’re talking about future HOF’er Carlos Beltran v. Angel Pagan. C’mon media. I know you guys are mediots, but don’t fall below the Mendoza Line.

Yes, Angel Pagan is currently in the top fifteen among all MLB OF when it comes to WAR (he has 2.5). He’s been a nice surprise, providing some offense with solid defense. His rest of season projection believes that he’ll keep his current level of production. But we’re talking about Carlos Beltran, who was the best center fielder in baseball before the surgery. Yes, he is older now and his injuries may cut into his defensive range and base running ability. At the same time though, he should be able to hit and a weaker Carlos Beltran probably is still the best outfielder the Mets have.

Really though, the whole situation shows the narrow mindedness of some people. Yes, Beltran and Pagan are both center fielders. Does that mean we can’t be creative? You solve the problem by moving one of them to the corner outfield- in this case I would move Pagan. It’s not like the Mets have a loaded outfield. Jeff Francouer sucks. You can’t worry about his ego, contract, or past potential. Francouer has been terrible for three years now. In the past three seasons his total WAR is 0.0. Bench him. Move Pagan to left. Insert Beltran in center. Case closed.

Kthxbye Jerry Manuel!

All aboard the Niese train

May 1, 2010

The New York Mets are hot. Like, really hot. The Mets are 14-9 after winning eight in a row and nine of ten. While much attention has been paid to Mike Pelfrey and his 0.69 ERA, the real young pitcher to get excited about is Jon Niese.

Ranked as the fifth best prospect in the Mets farm system by fangraphs during the off-season, Niese has gotten off to a solid start in the majors. Over five starts and twenty-nine innings, Niese has a 3.10 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.53 tERA, and 4.27 xFIP. On top of that, his periphs include a 7.76 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, 0.31 HR/9, and 47.3 GB%.

Not too shabby. His K rate and walk rate are right around his career minor league numbers and he does not give up home runs. The only concern with Niese so far has been a relatively high BB rate. But with such a SSS, his walk rate is a little skewed. In one start he gave up five walks, or about 42% of his total walks for the season. He won’t be Greg Maddux out there, but his walk rate should improve as he adjusts to the majors.

Last night against the Phillies was Niese’s best performance of the young season. Against a great lineup, the rookie went seven innings, yielding four hits, one walk, one run, and striking out seven.

Get used to nights such at that one, Mets fans. Entering the season, the rotation was a big question mark. They had Johan and a bunch of ifs. With the emergence of Niese (and Pelfrey) the Mets might have something to say in the NL East.

Why baseball is awesome

April 19, 2010

In the same night, Ubaldo Jiminez hurled the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history, and there was a 20 inning game between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, where no runs were scored for the first eighteen innings.

I love baseball.

2010 Divisional Previews & Predictions: NL East

April 4, 2010

I round out my prediction series with the NL East. This league holds the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves and Marlins look to challenge the Phillies for the division crown. The Mets struggled with injuries last year as well as this year but can they still contend for the division? I will do my best to project how this division will unfold.

1. Philadelphia Phillies
Key Departures: Cliff Lee, Pedro Feliz, and Chan Ho Park
Key Arrivals: Roy Halladay and Placido Polanco

I have the Phillies edging out the Braves ever so slightly for the NL East title. This division could end up coming down to a matter of games because I believe that the Braves are a little better than last season. However, the Phillies have one of the better lineups in all of baseball and posted a wOBA of .340 which was good for 6th best in the MLB last season. The Phillies also play solid defense and have some great defense up the middle. One of the Phillies weaknesses is the back end of the rotation. Can it be relied on for a full season of work? Kyle Kendrick will likely replace Joe Blanton for a little while. However, they have a good enough bullpen and offense so I think they can edge out the Braves for the NL East crown.

2. Atlanta Braves
Key Departures: Javier Vazquez, Mike Gonzalez, Kelly Johnson, and Adam LaRoche
Key Arrivals: Melky Cabrera, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Troy Glaus, and Jason Heyward

The Braves had a very busy off-season and I think it was good enough to get them into second place. They added three players in Cabrera, Heyward, and Glaus who could end up being league average, or slightly above league average hitters this season. The key to the Braves season will be if they can remain healthy. The loss of Javier Vazquez will hurt but their rotation is still one of the best in the league. Tim Hudson will make his return after missing most of last season. The emergence of Tommy Hanson and the return of Tim Hudson should make up for the loss of Javy. Their bullpen is extremely good and it could improve on a 3.68 bullpen ERA from last season. The Braves could be the sleeper team in all of baseball this year. Be on alert Phillies fans, the Braves could end up challenging the Phillies for the division crown this season.

3. Florida Marlins
Key Departures: Kiko Calero, Nick Johnson, and Jeremy Hermida
Key Arrivals: Nate Robertson

The Marlins like to keep a relatively low payroll so it is not surprising that they did not make that many off-season moves. I think they should have a similar record to the one that they posted last year. The only difference is that they won’t finish in second place. The Marlins have a very underrated offense and rotation that are led by Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson respectively. The Marlins posted a .331 wOBA in 2009 and a team FIP of 4.15. These were both in the top half in the league. I really like what the Marlins have done with their franchise and they are one of my favorite teams to watch but I just do not think that they have enough to move up in the standings any further.

4. New York Mets
Key Departures: Carlos Delgado
Key Arrivals: Jason Bay, Gary Matthews Jr., Rod Barajas, and Ryota Igarashi

Similarly to the Cubs, the Mets are poorly managed. The Jason Bay signing does not make a whole lot of sense to me. Jason Bay is a very bad fielder and that is evident in this UZR numbers. Not only his be a bad defender, but Omar Minaya got a player that hits a high percentage of fly balls in a very specious outfield. This is bound to reduce his offensive numbers just a little from a year ago. The Mets would have been better off going after someone like Mike Cameron more aggressively. This is not the only problem for the Mets. The Mets are also sending two very important offensive producers to the DL. Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes could be out for about 4-6 weeks. Now factor this in with a rotation that posted an ERA of 4.46 last season and was not improved this off-season and a team that does not play good defense and you have yourself a 4th place team.

5. Washington Nationals
Key Departures: None.
Key Arrivals: Stephen Strasburg, Jason Marquis, Chien-Ming Wang, Matt Capps, Ivan Rodriguez, and Adam Kennedy

The Nationals are in a better position than some other last place teams that we have looked at. The Nationals are lead by Ryan Zimmerman who is one of the best third basemen in the game. If you are a Nationals fan, it is time to get excited. Stephen Strasburg is the real deal and he will likely be in the rotation by June. The Nationals could very well improve on their record of 59-103 last season especially since they might have their best rotation since they moved to D.C. So Nationals fans, keep in mind that good days are ahead. This season could very well be their turning point to future success.

JeffMac’s NL East Predictions:
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Mets
4. Marlins
5. Nationals

ES42’s NL East Predictions:
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals

Disco’s NL East Predictions
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Mets
5. Nationals

Dougbies NL East Predictions:
1. Phillies
2. Marlins
3. Mets
4. Braves
5. Nats

YC’s NL East Predictions:
1. Phillies
2. Braves
3. Marlins
4. Nationals
5. Mets

Twac00’s NL East Predictions:
1. Phillies
2. Marlins
3. Braves
4. Mets
5. Nationals