It's Mets For Me: Off-Beat, Tangentially Relevant Mets Ruminations

Off Base Since 2005! Mets commentary from the counter-intuitive to the unintuitive and all the intuitives in between. ** "Through the use of humor and gross inaccuracy...a certain truth can be gained." Rob Perri ** (pester me or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Postseason Ponderings

What have we learned from the post-season thus far?

1) Nobody really knows what the hell it takes to have October success.

From the shitty Cardinals and Rockies teams of the past to the Dodgers surprising sweep of the best club in the NL, this stuff is unpredictable. I mean, you can still usually predict the Red Sox will go deep, and at least destroy the Angels on their way. But I'm thinking that I don't know what to think. When does a team start playing good baseball and how the hell can you plan for it? Exhibit A, the Cubs: with Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Harden and Lilly in their rotation? Are you kidding me? I though pitching won playoff games. But a team that tends to go ice cold like the Mets would be a very fragile playoff team indeed.

Jerry has one thing right so far, execution and comfortable players in established roles helps.
"You don't see a lot of guys that have statistical numbers play well in these championship series," Manuel said. "What you see is usually the little second baseman or somebody like that carries off the MVP trophy that nobody expected him to do. That's because he's comfortable in playing that form of baseball, so therefore when the stage comes, it's not a struggle for him."

2) Midseason moves CAN sure as shit put a team in the playoffs, Omar.

Jim Hendry got Harden for his rotation. But Ned Colletti added Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake to his team.

Who knows what it would taken to have gotten into the Manny sweepstakes, but the Dodgers sure didn't give up much. Conventional wisdom is that the Mets just didn't have what it took. But that was also the conventional wisdom about Johan, and the thing about trades is that they are also unpredictable and to a certain extent, depend on a GMs tenacity and creativity. They can't be predicted, not by the media or fans, who just don't know the parameters or pressures that GMs are dealing with. We can only guess. Who wouldn't give up F-Mart right now if it meant getting in on these playoffs?

What have we learned about Jerry Manuel?

Hold on to your hats, SABR friends.

On his first full day as the Mets' long-term manager, Manuel forcefully attacked the SABR-type mathematical analysis some have fixated on in recent years.

"You get so many statistical people together, they put so many stats on paper, and they say, well, if you do this and you score this many runs, you do that many times, you'll be in the playoffs," he said.

"That's not really how it works, and that's what we have to get away from. And that's going to have to be a different mind-set of the team in going forward. We must win and we must know how to win rather than win because we have statistical people. We have to win because we have baseball players that know and can understand the game."

There are many snide things one could say about how looking at some numbers might help Jerry manage. But I think these guys have it covered.

Time killers

If you're bored, and your tastes run towards the juvenile, come play the nickname game with me on the "relaunched" MetsNicknames site.

Or, go delight in the Army's Second Annual What If The Mets HADN'T Blown It Again. The only coverage you can get of the Mets playoff battle.

Wally being Wally on Manny being Manny

One of the most dismaying effects of this season was the extent to which Wallace Matthew's hate-filled attacks on the Mets and bitter and often asinine rants started making sense. Well, it might be a sign of good things to come that he has put an end to that. Wally writes that the Mets would be crazy to sign such a: "head case, a sometime malcontent, an all-day flake. You know, everything's going along fine, then one day he decides to strangle the traveling secretary. Just Manny being Manny."

I'm not too worried about the traveling secretary, but I am worried that the Mets would be crazy not to tend to their offensive chemistry. I think Manny's tires need to be kicked. They need a guy out of sync with Wright, Beltran and Reyes, who often go cold at the same time. Is that guy Manny? At the right number of years, yes. We will just have to see how that market shapes up.

REHASH the past Dept.

If you are in the mood to remind yourself of Omar Teodoro Antonio Minaya y Sanchez 's "greatest hits," check this slightly dated overly charitable account of his trades.

My "fave" Omar moves?

*Signing Moises Alou, resigning him.
*El &$#@! Duque. I never liked that move, not the first time or the second.
*Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick
*Trading Lastings Milledge, after holding him out of trades that could have made the Mets better, for a fourth outfielder and an expensive no-hit catcher when Omar had just let Jesus Flores, who started for the Nationals in place of Brian Schneider, slip away in the rule 5 draft.
*Not moving Mike Cameron when requested a trade in January of 2005 before the collision (all he got for him afterwards was Xavier Nady, who, before Metsfans elected him Mayor of Happytown, was just a utility outfielder and infielder).
*Ruben Gotay from the Royals for Jeff Keppinger
*Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins
*Ambiorix Burgos from the Royals for starter Brian Bannister (to be fair, this has raised the Mets visibility in the Dominican Republic).

Yeah, I know he's made a few good ones too. But spare me the "player X begat player Y who years later was traded for player Z" rationalizations. Those are merely creative excuses. I evaluate trades based on the GMs maneuvering in the environment before and during the trade. I evaluate trades against the possibilities at the time. For instance, if Omar turns around and trades Brian Church for Jason Bay tomorrow, that doesn't make the Lastings Milledge trade any less of a mind-blowing disappointment.

Of Omar's known skillsets--wooing elderly players to Flushing, leveraging the Wilpon's cash for big ticket free agents, and identifying future powerhitting juicers-- the purse strings seem to be most relevant now. But after watching the Sawx and the Dodgers this off-season, I would like to see him try his hand at building a winning organization at the lower levels, so the Mets have more arms to plug in when AARP Omar strikes again. Omar has shown the ability to stand pat at the trade deadline rather than make any foolish moves, and up until the Mets repeated their failures this year, I found that somewhat comforting. All and all, I don't think he's going to trade this team to health.



  • At 3:25 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    Here is how I feel about stats. Good to use when you have to shell out money. They do tell a lot about a player. But each of the last 3 years the Mets found themselves in the kinds of all-in games where stats helped them not at all. No VORP will tell you how a guy will hit in the biggest game of the year. There has to be a feel for this. We are not playing strato-matic. As far as Manny is concerned, I like Manny. But if we get him we will have 4 100 RBI guys in our lineup. I do not want that. We have to get rid of one of these guys. Look at Boston. Anaheim. Even the Dodgers. Yes I would like Manny. The reason Manny is so much better than these guys all season AND in the clutch is because he understands what hitting is. Manny does not try to launch home runs. He tries to hit the ball as hard as he can wherever it is and lets the rest take care of itself. Wright, Beltran and Delgado are constantly trying to drive the ball out o the park. So get Manny but lose one or two of these "core guys" and bring in the kind of guys the Angels have. I would rather have 5 fuys with 80 RBIs that 4 with 100. How many times this year did we need a single or an infield grounder but these stiffs struck out or got us a popup? As for the Scarecrow, I have no faith in him. He is always looking for the rotisserie catch. That did not work for the Yankees and it will not work for us.

  • At 11:45 PM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    I don't see why we'd need to lose a core guy--which one?--but I agree that another way would be to get some hitters in the bottom of the lineup with a plan in their head as they stride to the plate. Manny is probably a pipe dream, but one I plan on continuing to dream.
    None of these guys, not one of them, could let it all hang out and get it done in the one game that they had to win. That's probably not fair to Beltran and Delgado, but I'm thinking last three years.

  • At 3:27 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    my point is that we need a different type of lineup. Just adding bangers is too much like the yankee model. and we all know how bogus their lineups have been in post season. the win a lot of 14-2 games and lose a lot of 2-1 games. I also want guys for bog spots who focus on contact.

  • At 3:28 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    don't ask me what a bog spot is.

  • At 8:34 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    By the way, the core guy I would lose is Delgado. He and Manny will both be 37, and we cannot have all this age. Plus, Manny is right handed. Our lineup was too lefthanded. We could trade him to a team in either league that wants to win it now, and get a decent return. Remember, he will be cheap at 12 million..

  • At 10:23 AM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    i love Delgado. But if he could be moved to the AL i'd do it too, in a dispassionate way. Could they even trade him? Would anyone at all be interested in an aging slugger? I doubt it but we'd have to see. Would Delgado have the power to veto it? Even if they could ship him out, I guess it would serve the team to plug in Teixeira over Manny, though it wouldn't be nearly as interesting. Teixeira's a banger and he's young and no stiff at first either. I like saying banger.

    Every time a bog spot comes around, I want a team that I don't have to give up immediately on! I know baseball is a game of failure, but I want clutch NOT crutch! You're right about just adding bangers, the bottom of the lineup also needs professional hitters (the OLD way the Yankers were, not the new model). But I feel like this is a crisis and the offense needs a bailout! It's my right, as a fan, to overreact after three straight early exits from a team built to go all the way. Getting Manny would send a (bitter) message to Wright, Reyes, and Beltran (who are unmovable) that hey, you couldn't get it done, so we brought in this clown!!

  • At 11:14 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    Overreact away. I would not mind Manny. But I would not want to get older older. So replace one 37year old with another.Soamebody on the radio today was talking about who they would want up with the bases loaded and the game on the line Manny, Pujols, not A-Rod etc. I might not want any of them. Remember David Wright's at-bat? I need, say, a single, that there are two out. I would bet there are 5 or 10 guys more likely to get a single than these big boppers. That is what I think this team was missing in key spots all year.

  • At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Keyser said…

    1) I think most people would agree that the major factor which sunk the Mets this season is the bullpen. In a completely unrelated development, the Mets bullpen was statistically at the bottom of the NL. But, of course, stats have nothing to do with why the Mets lost.
    2) I really have no idea how you can possibly have "too many 100 RBI bats" in your lineup? The more RBIs you have, then the more runs you've scored, and the more games you'll win.

  • At 6:05 PM, Blogger katherine said…

    Keyser, I agree. If we had had 4 fewer blown saves, we would have won the division. We wouldn't be bemoaning the offense.

    One of the uses for statistical analyses of players is when GMs or managers fall in love with a certain player for all the wrong reasons, and the stats can make them see the light. Example: David Eckstein - announcers would go on and on about his grittiness and spunk and how he got his uniform dirty a lot. He was MVP in the world series. But you know what? He was really not great and the stats guys knew it - did you ever hear them rant about him on Fire Joe Morgan?
    Anyway, last year the Blue Jays gave him a crazy big contract and I couldn't believe my eyes when I read in the local papers here how he was going to make their season. Of course he was disappointing. Now he's gone.

    I really love the Jerry Manuel card! Where did you find that?

  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    He might have been in the right place at the right time-twice. But he is proof positive you do not need a jose reyes to win aWS. Jose himself is proof of that. Katherine..... managers love him. There must be a reason for that.

  • At 10:38 PM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    i googled jerry manuel and patiently paged through the results.

    The Fire Joe Morgan and Sabr types have a great point about the Eckstein types. Intangibles can be trusted as far as you can throw them most times. Yet I think some of them go too far, to the point where they can't see any other perspective. I have a boring position on the use of stats--i try to learn from both sides and occasionally mock them. So my position is that you can have these gritty gritsters, but I'd prefer to *pay* for fellas that can actually play baseball. Let the young-uns' provide the grit for cheap. No metrics for patient situational hitting, leadership or quality at bats yet, but the Mets need these things. And a completely different bullpen.

    I guess you really can't have too many RBI guys in a line up...but somebody needs to run round the stations...the problem with top heavy Yankees teams I guess is when everyone is swinging for the fences or when some of the RBI guys go into steep decline.

  • At 12:03 AM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    I admit, I've surprised myself with my interest in ManRam. But it just makes sense right now.

    Here's the best put argument I've seen, from Pat over at Metsgeek:

    "My first thought after Ryan Church’s flyball fell into Cameron Maybin’s glove was of Manny Ramirez. I was tired of an inconsistent offense, and I was tired of watching Church fail over and over. Ryan had the worst full season of his entire career. I was imagining finally getting Manny and letting him be the savior, the star, the shining light. But now I am not so sure whether this is the right decision. What will Manny bring to the team? Probably just OPS over .900 consistently over the course of his career with the Mets. He’ll probably just be a media darling. He’ll probably join Reyes, Beltran, Wright, and Delgado as the most powerful 1-5 lineup combination in baseball. He’ll probably just hit 30 homeruns, be a beast in the post-season, and have everyone in New York wearing Manny jerseys."

    He also has some enlightening words to say about CC. All and all, i like Pat's suggestions.

  • At 5:45 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    I thought I read that Church had some kind of problem with his hip at season's end. He did look very stiff, kind of flicking his bat. But he was terrible. And we do not know with any certainty if he would be good were he healthy in those situations. I am like you, I like the stats, but to me, when the palms sweat and the knees wobble, quantification falls short. You are right though. Hardly anybody pays for intangibles. It is not the kind of thing you can rationally explain at a business meeting to a couple of real estate guys.

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger I.M. Forme said…

    The myth that has built up around Church worries me. He hasn't proved a damn thing,and his career record is nothing to be excited about, yet there he is penciled into right. If he doesn't hit, then he is just a defensive specialist, and we already have that. Not only that, but he looks like an injury magnet. I predict bad things here.

    SOmeone, I think Davidson, wrote that the Mets will probably bring back Aguaya!!

    That cannot stand!!
    to the barricades!

  • At 11:19 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    I don't want Aguayo--
    I don't want Ayala--
    I don't want AHeilma--n
    I don't want AFeliciano--
    I don't want ASchneider--
    I don't want ACastro--
    I don't want ACastillo--
    I don't want ASchoenweise--
    I don't want APedro--
    I don't want AMarlon--

    As for Church---you have to worry. Will he avoid the wall? Will he get hit by a pitch up and in?
    Will he collide with another infielder?
    Another knee in the head at second base could happen quite easily.

    We, like Church, are in a kind of twilight zone where his future is concerned


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