See Ya Next Spring

It is not definite but several reports have stated that Johan Santana has been experiencing lingering shoulder pain and will be going to see a doctor. Just another classic Met injury. They build you up with progress and then tear you back down with a setback. I had a feeling this was too good to be true, this injury requires more time and I believe Santana was rushed or rushed himself.

I’m almost certain we will not see Johan this season and I wouldn’t be shocked for him to be out for part of next spring. Now this could be nothing; however this is a METS injury and will be much worse than it seems. The rotation is going to be a similar next year as it will be lacking a true ace. I’d start looking forward to the Wheeler/Harvey era sooner rather than later.

Somebody get the ice.

Johan Santana Resumes Throwing

Johan Santana has resumed his throwing program. Santana halted his rehab after he felt soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder after throwing on  June 2nd.

Despite Johan Santana saying that he could return by late July, I still have my doubts about Johan actually throwing off of a big league mound this season.  He had a serious shoulder injury and seems to be behind in his rehab.  I remember that the Mets initially believed that he could be back by mid to late June; however it already is mid to late June and Santana is still taking baby steps down in Florida.

The Mets and Johan Santana may be better off if Johan slows down his rehab and aims for 2012.  Terry Collins’s Mets have surprised us so far this year, but let’s be serious: this team isn’t going to make the postseason.  However,  with some tinkering in the off-season and a 100% healthy Johan Santana the Mets could make some noise in 2012.

Are the Mets Heading in the Right Direction?

Since the long-awaited departures of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel and replacing them with Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. The Mets have changed the teams image and personnel through free agent , rule 5  signings and promotion from their farm system.  Although the new management gave Perez and Castillo every opportunity to make the club out of spring training. The final decision of releasing both players was well overdue. Although some of Anderson’s decisions has failed (ie: Brad Emaus, Blaine Boyer), I still believe he is the right man for the job. Currently,The Mets are 10-13 and remain in the cellar of the NL east. However; with only 23 games played out of 162, we are a long way from this teams true identity. Last season, the Mets won 79 games and I still believe that despite of their early failures, they can win an additional 5-6 more games than last season. With a current lineup of Reyes/Murphy/Wright/Beltran/Bay/Davis/Thole/Pridie, this team has a well above ML lineup to be productive. Once Pagan returns healthy, they will be even better.

The bullpen has bounced back and is providing that quality pitching in the late innings. The main question mark lies in the SP as Pelfrey/Niese/Dickey/Young/Capuano/and even Gee need to be more consistent as a staff. At this point, Pelfrey holds the key to this rotation if he can be more reliable in his starts. The Mets farm system has better talent than many have suggested. Unfortunately, most of the Mets talent is most likely 2-3 years away with players like (Harvey, Reese, Vaughn, Valdespin, Urbina, Ratiff, Den Dekker, Ceciliani, Martinez, Nieuwenhius, Familia, Duda, Mejia, Flores, Cohoon, Puello, Tejeda) just to name a few. Obviously, the biggest obstacle facing the Mets Organization is the current financial status of the Mets owners; the Wilpons. This is why, in my opinion Sandy Alderson was brought in and is the best man to help turn this franchise around. However; until this matter is settle, either by the Wilpons selling completely or selling at least half of their ownership. The Mets will need to be more focus on strengthen the farm system through the draft and look for mid-level low-cost free agents such as Young and Capuano to improve this team.

Regardless of where the Mets are by the all-star break, some current players on the roster will be traded. Players like Beltran, Reyes, K-Rod, Pelfrey, Young and Capuano have been mentioned as possible trade bait. All in all, I like the direction the Mets are heading, I like the new image Alderson and Collins are projecting, I like the progression of Beltran, Davis, Thole, Murphy. I like the production out of Reyes, Wright, I like the contributions of Young , Capuano and Gee. Is this team heading in the right direction? Opinions may vary, but from where I’m standing; they are.

Are happy days here again for the Mets?

Santana Could Miss All of 2011

Steve Popper of the  Bergen Record is reporting that the Mets are prepared to shut Johan Santana down. According to the report, Santana’s rehab program has not been going well at all. Popper says the Mets will be lucky if they get anything at all from Santana this season.

The Mets need to have a healthy Santana at some point this season if they want to contend. The Mets have been  pinning their slim playoff hopes to his return. If Santana does not pitch at all in 2011, I find it hart to believe this team can stay in contention for long.  The worst part is that it looks like the injuries that have derailed this team the past two seasons are just not going to stop. Carlos Beltran has also been sidelined this spring. If the Mets don’t get at least two months of Santana as well as at least 400 at bats from Carlos Beltran, the Mets’ playoff don’t look too good.

New York Nine: The General Managers

9)  Omar Minaya

It’s truly hard to believe that Omar still has a job.  The Beltran and Pedro signings were bad, but the Perez and Castillo signings are some of the worst of all time.  The Jason Bay signing is starting to look bad now too.  Even the Santana trade is looking bad right now because of Johan’s injuries.  Not to mention the mishandling of Willie Randolph in 2008.  An overall failure of a general manager.

8)  Glen Sather

He’s drafted well, but the Redden, Brashear, Boogard, Drury, and Gomez signings were just brutal.

7)  Billy King

You can’t really say anything about King since he is new to the job.  He hasn’t done anything for the Nets so far, but by doing nothing he is automatically better than Sather and Minaya.

6)  Garth Snow

Garth has drafted well, but it’s hard not to do that when you’re bad every year.  The Islanders will eventually be good, but Snow has done nothing to speed along that process.

5)  Donnie Walsh

While Walsh did a lot to get the Knicks under the cap, he didn’t land Lebron James.  Time will tell if Walsh is remembered as a hero or a guy who build the Knicks the wrong way.  He also can’t draft at all.

4)  Mike Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum has built the Jets into a Super Bowl contender.  Time will tell if Mike becomes one of the greatest general managers in New York sports history.

3)  Jerry Reese

Reese has drafted extremely well during his tenure with Big Blue.  He also built a Super Bowl winner in 2007.

2)  Lou Lamoriello

Despite being the general manager of a small market team, Lou lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups.  Without Lamoriello’s guidance, the Devils wouldn’t be the perennial powerhouse they are today.

1)  Brian Cashman

With four World Series wins, Brian Cashman is the best general manager in New York sports today.  Sure, he has a lot of money to work with.  At the same time, so does Omar Minaya.  Cashman has put a contender on the field every year he’s been in office.  He’s given out some bad contracts, but he’s also made some amazing trades to keep the Yankees competitive.

The True “Win”

For over the past 100 years, any form of baseball has used the stat “win”for a pitcher. A win is used when the starting or relief pitcher of the winning team gets rewarded for simply doing a good job.. As everyone knows, a starting pitcher (to get the win) must get past five innings. Now here is my problem with the win: what if Phil Hughes allows five earned runs and Joe Girardi still keeps him in the game and continues another inning at least while the Yankees are just destroying the Mike Pelfrey and the Mets.  Hughes should get the win because he outperformed Pelfrey.

Yes, it is possible for the relief pitcher to get the win, but the instance of the starting pitcher getting the win does happen a good amount. For an actual example, on June 13, Phil Hughes did let up five earned runs to the Houston Astros, but the Yankees line up gave him nine runs of support and Phil Hughes got still got the win. This I do not like at all for two reasons:  First, the relief pitcher should get the win for shutting down the Astros the other four innings. Second, this just shows how much the win is not that important anymore to measure a pitcher’s true greatness. To actually receive a great amount of wins, you have to be on a team with excellent hitting. How does that even say how good a pitcher is?

For the past year, I have not graded a pitcher by their wins. I look at their record by quality starts. Quality starts truly show how good a pitcher has done throughout the season. I believe Major League Baseball should implement this stat into the series of main stats pitchers have (W, ERA, K, WHIP). I am not saying to get rid of the win, but also add a quality start to show if they actually deserved it or not.

For example, look at Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners. Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and leads the majors in quality starts.  But an average fan would say not because of his record of 9-10. This is completely not his fault, as Hernandez plays for the worst offensive team in the major leagues. Hernandez, out of every starting pitcher in the American League who has pitched at least 100 innings, has the least amount of run support with an average of 3.88 run support per start. On the other hand, Phil Hughes has an amazing 10.11 run support for every start.

Hernandez has 27 starts (24 of them quality.)  If you subtract his quality starts from his starts, you get his true record of an amazing 24-3. Now doesn’t it make so much more sense to do that instead of using wins to measure a pitcher?  We should still keep the win-loss record, but use quality starts in box scores to show how well the pitcher did. Now, I will truly show how good or bad the Yankees’ and Mets’ rotations are with implementing quality starts into their win-loss records.

Yankees Rotation

CC Sabathia

Actual Record: 16-5

With QS: 21-5

Andy Pettitte (has pitched over 100 IP while Moseley has not)

Actual Record: 11-2

With QS: 13-6

AJ Burnett

Actual Record: 9-11

With QS: 14-9

Javier Vazquez

Actual Record: 9-9

With QS: 12-10

Phil Hughes

Actual Record: 15-5

With QS: 10-13

As you can see, only Phil Hughes is hurt by quality starts while the rest of the rotation has better records with quality starts.

Mets Rotation

Johan Santana

Actual Record: 10-7

With QS: 10-16

Mike Pelfrey

Actual Record: 12-7

With QS: 12-13

R.A. Dickey

Actual Record: 8-5

With QS: 14-4

Jonothan Niese

Actual Record: 7-5

With Quality Starts: 13-9

Hisanori Takahashi

Actual Record: 7-6 (Did get three wins and one loss when he was a reliever)

With QS: 6-6

With the Mets rotation, it is shocking to see that Johan Santana is not really having a great season start per start while his ERA (2.98) and WHIP (1.21) would suggest otherwise. Quality starts truly show how good R.A. Dickey has been for the Mets with 14 quality starts and 4 losses.

Now I know that quality starts doesn’t measure a pitcher entirely. I know that Johan Santana is the best pitcher on the Mets while his quality starts would suggest he is having a so-so season. Santana’s ERA and WHIP are too impressive to say that he is having a bad season. If Santana has a bad ERA and WHIP then I would say that he is obviously having a horrible year. Now here are some pitchers that are having great seasons that no one is paying attention too.

Jered Weaver-Los Angeles Angels

Actual Record: 11-8

With QS: 20-6

Trevor Cahill-Oakland Athletics

Actual Record: 13-5

With QS: 16-6

Cliff Lee-Texas Rangers

Actual Record: 10-5

With QS: 18-3

Zack Grienke-Kansas City Royals

Actual Record: 8-11

With QS: 17-8

Jason Vargas-Seattle Mariners

Actual Record: 9-5

With QS: 18-5

Clay Buchholz-Boston Red Sox

Actual Record: 14-5

With QS: 7-14

Adam Wainwright-St. Louis Cardinals

Actual Record: 17-7

With QS: 22-4

Tim Hudson-Atlanta Braves

Actual Record: 14-5

With QS: 21-4

Josh Johnson-Florida Marlins

Actual Record: 11-5

With QS: 21-4

Livan Hernandez-Washington Nationals

Actual Record: 8-8

With QS: 18-7

Matt Cain-San Francisco Giants

Actual Record: 9-10

With QS: 19-6

Roy Oswalt-Philadelphia Phillies

Actual Record: 8-13

With QS: 18-6

Brett Myers-Houston Astros

Actual Record: 8-7

With QS: 18-7

Now isn’t that amazing… look at how many pitchers with average records aren’t even being considered some of the best in their leagues while you can make argument that they truly are. Livan Hernandez should 18-7 for crying out loud!   He has a 3.06 ERA.  That is a Cy Young contender right there.  Cliff Lee is even better when you consider quality starts.  Lee goes from 10-5 to 18-3!  You have Clay Buchholz who leads the American League with a 2.36 ERA, but with quality starts his win-loss column goes from 14-5 to 7-14.  He would be treated like Jason Vargas (bad record but excellent ERA). This is why the commissioner Bud Selig should make this change now to corporate quality starts into every day box scores.

A Yankees Fan’s Perspective on the Mets

Being a die hard Yankee fan, I am very spoiled when it comes to baseball.  Missing the playoffs in 2008 felt like an earthquake, while most teams would consider that year a very good one.  With no emotional investment on the Mets, I can’t help myself to usually not care about the Mets’ shortcomings.  However, I could not help but to feel for Mets fans after this last week.

At the trade deadline, most fans and analysts predicted the Mets to be in the market for a starting pitcher.  After Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee were dealt, the Mets had very few options.  Still in the race, Omar Minaya was expected to do something to help the Mets’ chances at the playoffs.  As July 31 passed, the Mets made no moves besides dumping Mike Jacobs.  By not making a move, the front office slapped Mets fans in the face and threw in the white towel.

The bottom line is that missing the playoffs for four straight years is not acceptable.  With the National League’s highest payroll, the Mets should be putting a World Series caliber team on the field every year.  Despite this, Omar Minaya continues to make mistake after mistake.   I do respect Omar not jeapordizing the future by making a stupid trade, but the Mets should not be in this position to begin with.

Fixing the Mets is rather simple.  First, you fire Jerry and Omar.  Make Wally Backman or Bob Melvin the manager if you can’t get Bobby Valentine. After that, outright release Perez and Castillo.  Next, sign Cliff Lee to a long term deal or a quality arm like Javier Vazquez or Jorge De La Rosa on a one or two year deal. The goal should be to get one solid starting pitchers in the free agent market. Then, try to sign Orlando Hudson one a one year deal to play second base. If not, Tejada will do. Finally, make a play for Victor Martinez. If you can’t get him, start Thole.   Here is what the Mets would look like next season.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Hudson/Tejada
SS – Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Beltran
RF – Pagan

SP – Santana
SP – Lee/Vazquez/De La Rosa
SP – Pelfrey
SP – Neise
SP – Mejia

That would be a complete team that would put together a quality season. The key is to keep all signings short term so you don’t handicap yourself in the future. That rotation would be one of the best in baseball. Even if you can’t get Lee, you can fill the rotation with quality arms to build on the core of Santana/Pelfrey/Neise.

In 2012, Beltran’s contract would come off the books. If you haven’t released Castillo and Perez by now, they would be coming off the books. At this point, you should make a run for Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. If you can get either one of them, move Ike Davis to right field. Ike spend three-fourths of his college career there. He isn’t that fast, but you can survive with him out there.

By this time, Ruben Tejada or Reese Havens should be ready to start at second base. Kirk Nieuwenhuis could start in center or be your fourth outfielder. It all depends on whether or not Pagan keeps up his steady play. If you can’t get Gonzalez or Fielder, Davis stays at first and Pagan moves to right field.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Gonzalez/Fielder
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Pagan/Nieuwenhuis
RF – Davis

or

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Nieuwenhuis
RF – Pagan

The key to rebuilding the Mets is to be agressive and smart at the same time. Money isn’t a problem for the Mets, but smart spending could help the Mets reach the next level. Very few teams have the great core that the Mets do right now. It would be a shame to see the careers of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, and Jon Neise slip away without any postseason action.