Baseball America has compiled a list of an estimate on what every Major League team spent on on international bonuses during the 2013 year. The problem with a list like this is that it spans two different signing periods: the back half of the ’12-13 period when every team had $2.9 million to spend, and the ’13-14 period where teams’ official bonus pools ranged from $1.8 million (Nationals) to $4.9 million (Astros).
The Mets were 13th at $3.13 million in the 2013 calendar year. Most teams were in this range. Nearly half of the teams in baseball (14) spent between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
The Mets began the 2013-14 signing period with a bonus allotment of $2,664,600, but added the #51 slot from the Angels, valued at $360,500 for OF Julio Concepcion and RHP Andres Perez in July. The Mets’ total bonus pool for the 2013-14 signing period is $3,025,100.
Here are the Mets’ major international signings from the 2013-2014 period so far:
|Yeffry de Aza||SS||DR||475,000|
Yesterday, Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPNNY, that utility man
“Eric Young Jr. is his primary leadoff candidate at this point.
Still, with a full spring training to go, Collins cautioned: “But anything is possible.”
“Anything is possible,” is the key here. Maybe Collins is talking about some advanced level stuff platoon. And maybe this isn’t really going to happen. The reaction to his idea over at Metsblog and elsewhere around the Mets internet was pretty negative, and understandably so.
Young should not start over Juan Lagares, who will be 25, and in his age 24 season, established himself as one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game (behind only Carlos Gomez in Fangraphs adjusted UZR metric Def). Still, Lagares hit only .242/.281/.352 overall. If Lagares’ offense regresses at all, that on-base percentage will be a heavier weight down on the value his defense provides. Young, who will be 29 in May, has played 307 innings in center and Total Zone and UZR put him near average, although it’s a dangerously small number of chances from which to draw strong conclusions. Lagares, who displayed a relatively small platoon split in 2013 (losing a little power against RHP) should play over Young in center unless Lagares proves he really cannot hit Major League pitching.
Eric Young’s .258/.325/.338 batting line in 1273 career plate appearances will hardly inspire swooning from fans in the first row of seats, or those with access to the internet. However, he was pretty close to 2013′s leadoff man average of .265/.329/.390. Young is light in the power, but almost MLB average in on-base percentage for a leadoff man. He’s also a switch-hitter with next to no platoon split – .253/.323/.336 vs. RHP and .268/.330/.342 vs. LHP in his career.
Now, in both corners, the Mets are planning on starting outfielders with major and complementary platoon splits. The Mets will maximize the value of both players, and their roster in general, by recognizing and embracing these splits. Chris Young has beat up lefties at a .262/.363/.474 rate for his career and hit just .225/.295/.415 against righties. Oh, sure, among Youngs, Chris has Eric well covered with that .190 isolated slugging percentage against righties, but Eric Young provides just a little more on-base skill at the top of the lineup.
In the other corner, Curtis Granderson also has major platoon splits and is weak against lefties. He has gone .274/.357/.519 against righties in his career and .226/.295/.409 against lefties. Again, Granderson has more power, but less on-base skills than EY against his same-handed pitchers.
Maybe Collins is suggested an extended platoon where Chris Young sits against many righties, Granderson against many lefties and Eric Young Jr. plays a lot. That seems to fly in the face of the market valuation of the three players, but it would give the Mets a little more on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.
Perhaps the Mets are on to something more radical. For road games, EY Jr. leads off, and the #9 spot in the batting order is held as a place-holder by the previous night’s starting pitcher. EY Jr. and his speed, come to bat in the top of the first inning. At the end of the inning, Collins can then choose to insert his starting pitcher into the #9 spot in the order or the #1, and substitute his anther position player either into the #9 or #1 spot in the order, or just roll with Young. Collins could deploy Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy or any of his other outfielders to make a double-switch, or not. Does this make any sense? I’m not sure.
Maybe Eric Young will lead off in a extended platoon with both corner outfielders. Doing so would sacrifice power for on-base percentage and speed. Maybe he won’t. Either way, it’s the end of January. It’s been a long winter without baseball. Terry Collins is still two months away from writing out his lineup card in the first game that counts in 2014.
You can probably guess which three Mets farmhands made MLB.com’s list of the game’s Top 100 prospects: RHP Noah Syndergaard at #11, C Travis d’Arnaud at #22 and RHP Rafael Montero at #85 (pictured at right).
One note on each:
- Syndergaard is the #3 pitching prospect on MLB’s list behind only Archie Bradley and Taijuan Walker.
- d’Arnaud is the oldest player on MLB’s Top 100, and one of seven 24-year-olds.
- Of the 37 RHP on the list, Montero is one of four at 6’0″ or shorter, joined by Yordano Ventura (KS – #35), Marcus Stroman (TOR – #55), Jose Berrios (MIN – #90).
With three representatives, the Mets are mid-pack. The list is dominated in volume by six teams, the Astros (7), Red Sox (9), Cubs (7), Pirates (6), Twins (5) and Rangers (5) who together account for 39 players.
One thing stands out to me about the three prospects who made MLB’s list: they should all be in the big leagues for the Mets in the second half of 2014, and should graduate from prospect lists. d’Arnaud will be the Mets’ Opening Day catcher. Syndergaard and Montero will likely begin the year in triple-A with Las Vegas. The odds are strong that the Mets, just like almost every team in baseball, will need reinforcement pitching throughout the season. As long as both Syndergaard and Montero are healthy and pitching effectively, they should be in Queens by July.
I’ll mention Cesar Puello here as another player who will likely start in triple-A, who could and hopefully for the Mets, be in a position to help the team’s outfield by the heat of summer.
After that, there’s a pretty big gap between the guys who can reasonably be expected to reach the big leagues for good in 2014 and the next group. The exception is in the bullpen where there is some depth in potential help in the near future. Some of RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Cory Mazzoni, RHP Jeff Walters, LHP Jack Leathersich, or RHP Erik Goeddel could help in the bullpen in 2014. However, none of these pitchers, despite AA time in 2013, were Top 100 guys.
The next group of potential starting pitchers or average or better regulars are relatively far away. For example, C Kevin Plawecki will start the season in double-A. CF Brandon Nimmo, LHP Steven Matz and 2B Dilson Herrera will be ticketed for Advanced-A where they will be joined by RHP Michael Fulmer, RHP Gabriel Ynoa and RHP Luis Cessa. Recent first rounders like SS Gavin Cecchini (almost definitely) and 1B Dom Smith (maybe) will just begin their first season in Savannah in 2014. These are the guys who might next represent the Mets on future Top 100 lists. Their development in a-ball in 2014 will shape the perception of the Mets’ farm system moving forward.
The Twitter account @MetsFarmReport, which is run by a few members of the Mets Baseball Operations staff, did a twitter Q&A yesterday.
Metsblog has the thing all Storified up. Amazin Avenue did a recap and lists all the questions and answers. There were plenty of questions about where players can expect to start 2014.
(Toby writing): The things that caught my eye particularly were:
1. Dilson Herrera, who was part of the team’s return for Marlon Byrd and John Buck will play some shortstop this year.
(Herrera will presumably play at St. Lucie, coming off a .267/.334/.416 line with 27 doubles and 11 homers, as a 19-year-old in 116 games I don’t see a need to repeat the SAL).
2. “There is a chance” that 2013 first round pick Dom Smith will break camp with full-season Savannah in 2014. (This is hardly a promise that Smith will skip Brooklyn and open in Savannah in April. The team is keeping its options open. I cannot find similar statements with respect to Gavin Cecchini at this time a year ago. By contrast, the Mets were very clear now that Cecchini, who was in Brooklyn in 2013, would begin the year with a full-season team.)
3. The fastest player in the system? 2013 sixth round pick Champ Stuart, who I liked a lot.
4. The lesser known prospects the Farm Report wanted to highlight initially included three Kingsport arms from 2013: RHP Robert Whalen, RHP Chris Flexen, RHP Tyler Bashlor and 3B Jhoan Urena. Later, MFR expanded that list to include “interesting power arms” Robert Coles and Ricky Jacquez.
Let’s wrap this year up with Mets prospect lists by position. Then, early in 2014, we’ll synthesize the whole into a 2014 Mets Top 41 Prospect list.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, this year, to prepare my Mets Top 41, I first created lists by position.
I’ll put up a list for each position, with a few light comments on the position or individual players. Each player who makes my Top 41 will get a longer profile as part of that process.
So, we’ll go around the diamond, starting today with Catcher, one of the more well-defined positions for the Mets.
1. d’Arnaud will be the Mets’ Opening Day starting catcher. I expect him to be an above average Major League catcher pretty much right away if he can stay on the field.
2. Plawecki will begin the 2014 season at AA. He’s a fine prospect, who will likely see the big leagues. At the plate, he’s more aggressive than I think is commonly recognized: a low-strikeout, moderate walk player with gap power. He maintains high on-base-percentages with many hit-by-pitches (24 in 2013). Defensively, he’s ok, but his arm is his weakest tool.
3. The Mets added Centeno to the team’s 40-man roster at the end of the 2014 season. He has as little pop as any player on a big league roster, but makes contact and draws a few walks. He’s also a strong defensive catcher who threw out about 40% of opposing runners in 2011 and 2012 and over 50% in 2013. He’s never been a primary catcher on any team he’s played on, instead performing well in a time-share or as a backup.
4. Nido hit .185/.218/.261 with four walks against 21 strikeouts as a 19-year-old with Brooklyn in 2013. The Mets signed him for a quarter of a million dollars in the 2012 draft to keep him away from a Florida State commitment, but the raw catcher, who I had ranked #29 in the system coming into 2013, has done very little as a professional.
5. After a nice 2012 with Savannah (.300/.403/.408 in 93 games), and earned my #33 prospect ranking, Maron flopped in St. Lucie in 2013 (.235/.327/.295). It’s not just that his batting average on balls in play dropped from .366 in 2012 to .284 in 2013, his extra-base hit and walk rates dropped as well. While his caught-stealing rate climbed from 13% in 2012 to 27% in 2013, opponents still stole 76 bases against him in 2013. Basically, teams ran on Maron, and his pitchers, a lot.
As a companion piece to Fangraphs Top 10 Mets prospects, Carson Cistulli took a look at the Steamer projections for the guys on the list.
There are two things that really caught my eye:
1. Steamer projects Travis d’Arnaud to be worth 2.9 WAR via above average offense (108 wRC+) and above average defense worth eight runs. This is basically in line where I think d’Arnaud will be this year – an above average big league catcher.
2. Steamer really, really likes Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Based on projected strikeout and walk rates, Cistulli derives a kwERA, an ERA predictor, and then uses that to construct kwERA- (an ERA estimator like ERA-, where 100 is average, and lower is better). By this method, he estimates a kwERA of 3.53 for Syndergaard and 3.79 for Montero and kwERA- of 91 for Thor and 98 for Montero. Thus, over 150 innings, through the translations that Cistulli make, that translates into a WAR of 2.6 for Syndergaard and 2.1 for Montero. These, relatively speaking, are monster estimates.
For example, on the Fangraphs page for each of the other six potential Mets starting pitchers (Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Bartolo Colon and Carlos Torres) no other starter is projected as being worth more than 1.7 WAR/150 innings. In terms of overall WAR, Steamer tops out Bartolo Colon at 2.0 over 173 innings.
I think there’s something weird about both Cistilli’s transitions from kwERA to WAR/150 innings and the way Fangraphs is doing their Steamer WAR estimation other places, however, only one of which is made explicit. Cistulli writes of his own estimate, “Figures might diverge slightly (although not significantly) from those which appear on player pages.” Ok, so we’re covered there. (Given that Cistulli’s method includes only walk and strikeout percentages, and not homers or any other run scoring events, that all makes sense.) However, I was interested in comparing the prospect projections with other Mets’ pitchers, but projections using different methodologies make that difficult. Instead, I used the projections generated on other areas of the site, particularly the player pages. Even so, there’s something off.
On the player pages, Steamer projects Jenrry Mejia to pitch to a 3.71 ERA and a 3.53 FIP over 73 innings for a 0.3 WAR or 0.62 WAR/150. Steamer projects Rafael Montero to pitch to a 3.86 ERA and a 3.64 FIP over 67 innings and accumulate a 0.7 WAR or 1.57 WAR/150. So, Steamer projects Montero to pitch fewer innings, and do so less well than Mejia on a per-inning basis, by ERA AND FIP, but be worth more WAR. I must be missing something.
Leaving that aside, and using only Steamer’s ERA estimate from the player pages, Steamer projects Noah Syndergaard with the second-best ERA among this group behind only Mejia. Montero (3.86) has the fourth-best ERA projection behind only Mejia, Syndergaard, Colon and in a class with Jon Niese (3.90) and Carlos Torres (3.95).
So, again, Steamer really likes Montero and Syndergaard. Without assigning too much specificity, it sees Syndergaard as one of the Mets’ best non-Harvey pitchers right now, and Montero fitting comfortably in the back side, or #4 slot in a rotation.
The following chart uses ERA, IP and WAR estimates from Steamer on Fangraphs player pages. The only column where I did any manipulation is the farthest right, where I prorated Fangraphs’ Steamer WAR estimate over 150 innings.
Steamer on the 2014 Mets Pitching
Tuesday, the Rockies and A’s swapped oft-injured/disappointing lefthanders Brett Anderson and $2 million for Drew Pomeranz and minor leaguer Chris Jensen.
We’ve been running a series where we compare the players involved in trade packages to those in the Mets organization. This concept works a lot better when there are more players involved. Both the Dexter Fowler to the Astros and the Doug Fister to the Nationals deals involved at least three players. With more players, we can be a little looser about assigning a type of player and tweaking around the edges to make the values roughly match.
Anderson is the more expensive player, and the one who has performed better, when he’s healthy in the big leagues. He’s a groundball generating machine; his gb% has risen from 50.9% in 2009 to 54.6% in 2010 to 57.5% in 2011, to 59.8% in 2012 and then 62.9% in 2013. That’s as clear a trend as one could possibly hope to see. On the other hand, his games started and innings pitched by year has been heading in the opposite direction – falling each year.
. Games Started IP
2009 30 175.1
2010 19 112.1
2011 13 83.1
2012 6 35.0
2013 5 44.2
For his career, he owns a 3.81 ERA, a 3.56 FIP, and an 8.2 fWAR but only a 6.1 RA9-WAR. Those last two numbers illustrate well how the WAR metric for pitchers is calculated. RA9- WAR is read as “WAR calculated by runs allowed per nine innings. Standard fWAR uses FIP, which rewards groundballers.
Anderson’s injury history covers most of his body parts: head (concussion), lower back (stiffness/tightness), left elbow (strain/inflammation/Tommy John surgery), right knee (hyper extension), upper back (spasms), left thumb (sprain), right ankle (sprain), right foot (stress fracture). Is the Tommy John surgery in 2011 the most significant? Or is it the sum of all the injuries?
Anderson is no longer cheap, and cutting costs was clearly a major factor for the A’s. He is owed $8 million in 2014 and his contract calls for a club option of $12 million in 2015 with a $1.5 million buyout.
Anderson is not the kind of injury-risk pitcher the Mets have signed in the last few years. Instead, the Mets have made smaller one-year gambles on Chris Capuano ($1.5 million in 2011), Chris Young ($1.1 million in 2011 and a minor league deal in 2012), Shaun Marcum ($4 million in 2013), Daisuke Matsuzaka (MLB minimum in 2013). On a payroll at or below $90 million as the Mets have run recently and seem poised to run in 2014, the $8 million Anderson will earn in 2014, or more precisely, $6 million net the $2 million Oakland sent along, just does not fit.
Anderson is big (6’4″, 235 lbs) and can touch 93 mph with his fastball although he sits 91-92 mph.
Drew Pomeranz has pedigree. The Indians drafted him fifth overall in June 2010 out of Mississippi. A little over a year later, the Indians shipped him to Colorado to complete their trade for Ubaldo Jimenez.
What Pomeranz doesn’t have is results. He made four starts and four relief appearances a year ago for Colorado and gave up 25 hits and 15 runs in 21.2 innings. Most damning, moreso than the four home runs, were the 19 walks (!) against 19 strikeouts. He made 15 starts in AAA where he ran a 4.20 ERA, walked 9% of the opponent batters and fanned 26% in a season cut short by biceps tendonitis.
Stepping backward, Pomeranz put up good numbers across the board in 2011 with the Indians in AA in Akron. The Rockies promoted him to the big leagues after he was traded. While his topline ERA of 5.40 in four appearances is not impressive, the underlying stats say he was closer to holding his own: a strikeout rate of 17%, a walk rate of 6.5%, and a 2.59 FIP.
Pomeranz started 2012 in the big leagues, but the Rockies dispatched him to AAA after he ran a 4.70 ERA in his first five starts in which he had 20 strikeouts and 15 walks in 23 innings, that’s a strikeout rate of 18.5%, but a walk rate of 13.9%. Down in AAA, in the thin air of Colorado Springs, he was much better: 2.51 ERA in 9 starts and 46 strikeouts (22%) against 20 walks (9.4%) in 46.2 innings over nine starts. Note that his walk rate would still be above MLB or AAA averages. He finished 2012 in the Rockies’ rotation, eventually making 22 starts for a 4.93 ERA and a 4.81 FIP.
In terms of stuff, Pomeranz is extremely reliant on a fastball that averages 91 mph and a curveball in the upper 70s (that’s plus velocity) to go along with a seldom used changeup. In 2011 and 2012, he threw his fastball over 76% of the time – a rate that would have been the third-highest fastball usage among qualified MLB starters. At ESPN, Keith Law still calls Pomeranz’s curveball plus.
I forgot about Pomeranz’s other injury problems which include an appendectomy, and quad and hip issues. (Thanks Jay Jaffe.)
Pomeranz has a walk problem. It’s been over 9% in AAA and has spiked well above that in the big leagues. Oakland will have the luxury of sending him to AAA to try to get him right.
The Minor Leaguer
Chris Jensen is a big RHP (6’4″, 200) who the Rockies drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft from San Diego. In his age 22 season, he put up a 4.55 ERA with a 21% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate in 152.1 innings in the hitter-friendly California League. Note however, that Jensen’s home ballpark in Modesto is one of the League’s two pitcher friendliest (along with San Jose). I probably saw Jensen in 2012 with Asheville, but whatever impression he made on me at the time did not survive a year and a half.
BP says Jensen was 91-94, touching 95 as a starter, with a 83-86 mph changeup and breaking ball at 77-80 that was inconsistent. Jordan Gorosh thinks he can be a “back-end starter who has the ability to log innings.” Law calls him “just a guy.”
The Mets really do not have a pitcher whose profile looks like Drew Pomeranz. Clearly, shedding Anderson’s salary was important to Oakland, in addition to the gamble on Pomeranz, who has 1.05 years of MLB service time. Thus, we will confine our search for comps to pre-arb players, preferably with something like a year of MLB service time or less.
Our service time/cheap requirement dispatches Dillon Gee and his 3.028 years of MLB service.
Jenrry Mejia and his 1.14 years of MLB service are close enough to Pomeranz. Mejia’s five start run in 2013 – 2.30 ERA, 27.1 IP, 27 K, 4 BB, was better than anything Pomeranz has strung together at the Major League Level. Mejia’s value should be depressed by the fact that, thanks to Tommy John surgery and Jerry Manuel, he’s thrown 100 innings in a season only once and never exceeded 110. Mejia’s injury problems post-Tommy John surgery make him a fellow traveler with Pomeranz and Andersen.
If you want no MLB success, with control problems think Jeurys Familia.
If you want no MLB success, with success in AA, think Cory Mazzoni. Like Pomeranz, Mazzoni will likely start the 2014 season in AAA.
Jensen could be Rainy Lara or Tyler Pill. I kinda like the Lara angle better. He’s a low 90s fastball guy, with a changeup and slider that is decidedly his third pitch. He has size (6’4″) and a 3.76 ERA in the Florida State League but underwhelming peripherals (16% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate).
I think this deal is something like Jenrry Mejia and Rainy Lara for Brett Anderson. Anderson was due a minimum of $9.5 million – his 2014 salary plus his buyout – at the time he was traded.
Colorado took the more expensive player, with a longer big league track record with a huge injury report. Oakland took the cheaper guy with a walk rate worse than average, no big league track record of success and a shorter injury report. Both guys are gambles in their way.
Let me be clear again: I don’t think Jenrry Mejia is a great match for Drew Pomeranz in many if not most respects. However, I’ve decided among Mets pitchers under team control, he’s the closest in value and fit given what Oakland appeared to be trying to accomplish.
Given the health risks on Anderson, and the cost, in dollars – especially on a ~$90 million payroll – and players, he made little sense for the Mets in the winter of 2013-2014.
We’re going to play a (fun?) game that matches Mets prospects/assets to those involved in trades for other teams.
Yesterday, we looked at the Dexter Fowler to the Astros deal. Today, by popular demand, we’ll examine the Doug Fister to the Nationals trade.
Doug Fister, who will always be Dog Fister to me, is a very good, and probably underrated pitcher. By FIP, he’s 10th in baseball in the last three years. By RA9-WAR he’s 15th at 12.4 (nearly identical to Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez and ahead of every Mets’ fans favorite: R.A. Dickey (12.0)).
The Nationals sent LHP Ian Krol, Robbie Ray and infielder Steve Lombardozzi to the Tigers for Fister.
The internet praised the Nationals and General Manager Mike Rizzo for his wheeling and dealing.
Dave Cameron at Fangraphs: “Maybe it’s the fact that Fister’s fastball sits at 89, or that he was a non-prospect for most of his days in the minor leagues, but barring an unknown injury that is about to wreck his value, it seems like 29 MLB teams are missing the boat on Doug Fister. If Fister were a free agent, he’d have been the best starter on the market by a good margin…..though, this just an outright robbery. In a market where the prices for mediocre pitchers are very high, the Nationals paid a moderate price for a very good pitcher.”
Keith Law at ESPN: “I can’t believe the Tigers couldn’t get more total value than this for Fister, who is easily a top 25-30 overall starter in the game; they might have traded more to fill needs than to maximize their return…. A lefty reliever, a backup at second and a non-top-100 prospect is just not a good return for two years of one of the top 30 starters in baseball.”
Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus is confused too. He calculates conservatively that Fister, who will earn ~$7 million in arbitration this winter, and more next time out, should be expected to provide ~$14 million in surplus value over the next two years. He writes, “Would a team pay $14 million for six years of Ray, six years of Krol, and four years of Lombardozzi? …. Or maybe there’s something else we’re missing…. It’s hard to believe that no other team would have offered a better package, had they all been aware of what Washington was about to give up … So where does that leave us? Either Dombrowski failed to shop Fister around, every other team failed to evaluate Fister properly, or none of us on the internet knows anything.”
Part of the answer, and it’s one Law hinted at, is that it appears Detroit was looking for a very specific combination of types of players when they set out to move a pitcher. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, via DJF, on Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski and his process for this move: “Dave’s great to deal with, he’s very candid and up front– he just said, ‘We looked at all of the organizations, and we’re looking for certain players, and we don’t know that we line up in trade with you guys.’ … So it was one of those things where we didn’t necessarily line up in trade… “
To read more of this story, click here
We’re going to play a fun game, match the Mets prospects/assets to those involved in trades for other teams. I don’t do this for every trade, only the ones that interest me for one reason or another.
Today we’ll take on the Rockies/Astros swap for Dexter Fowler and a PTBNL for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles.
Earlier this offseason, the Mets were rumored to be interested in trading Ike Davis for Dexter Fowler. On the same day they traded Fowler, the Rockies also “addressed” their first base hole, by signing Justin Morneau.
Fowler will be 28 in 2014, and has significant home road splits (.298/.395/.485 at Coors and .241/.333/.361 on the road in 1291 PA). He’s owed $7.35 million in 2014, and will be arbitration eligible in 2015 before becoming free agent for 2016. Still, he’s in the prime of his career, has been a league average hitter, and while the advanced metrics don’t like his work in center, he should be an asset defensively in a corner.
For the Mets, he would have been an improvement on Eric Young Jr. in the outfield at the least, and potentially much more. So, what did it take to bring him to the Astros?
Turns out, very little.
The right-handed Lyles was a good prospect in a bad Astros’ system who has never figured out the big leagues. Since making his big league debut in 2011, he owns a 5.35 ERA with 259 strikeouts against 117 walks in 377 innings with 431 hits allowed and a ERA+ of 74 (!) or an ERA- of 141 and a -2.8 bWAR overall. His Baseball America rankings rose from #6 after the 2008 season to #3 the following year to the top spot in the system after 2010 when he was the #42 prospect in baseball. Lyles has a four-seam fastball at 93 mph, a sinker at 92 mph, a slider in the upper 80s, a changeup at 83 and a curveball around 80-81 mph. He throws his two fastballs over 66% of the time combined. Every pitch he throws carries negative value at Fangraphs.
Lyles’ strikeout rates from the last three years have actually declined from 16.1% in 2011, to 15.8% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2013. Meanwhile, his walk rate has ticked up from 6.3% to 6.7% to 7.6% in the last three years. Lyles was a relatively low strikeout guy in AAA as well with a 14.4% strikeout rate in 2010 and 16.3% in 2011.
Lyles is young and has prospect pedigree. That’s about it. At ESPN, Keith Law argues that Lyles’ numbers have been hurt by throwing in front of Houston’s poor defenses the last few years, “… he has been below-average but above that replacement-level baseline when measured on his own performance. Lyles has a good feel for pitching and above-average control, suffering from his lack of any clear out pitch.”
The Mets do not have a Jordan Lyles – a failed former first round pitcher.
- Perhaps the closest the Mets’ current roster, offers, when taking into account only production, is Carlos Torres who bounced from the White Sox to the Rockies to the Mets in the last four seasons.
- Dillon Gee, who is older than Lyles, has been appreciably better, putting up a 2.2 bWAR in 2013 with a 3.80 RA9, his first year below 4.00.
- Jenrry Mejia had never really had any big league success either in 2010 or 2012, combined for a -0.1 bWAR between those two years. Then, in 2013, after returning from Tommy John surgery, he returned with better fastball command, more feel on his changeup and a new slider that helped him to a 2.30 ERA/2.96 RA9 and a 0.5 bWAR in just five starts.
- Statistically, perhaps the best match for Lyles in the Mets’ system is former second round pick Cory Mazzoni. in AA this past summer, Mazzoni had a strikeout rate of 26.2%, a 6.7% walk rate, an opponents’ batting average of .268 and a 4.36 ERA/2.70 FIP. In 2010 in AA, Lyles had a 21.3% strikeout rate, a 6.5% walk rate, a .266 opponents’ batting average, and a 3.12 ERA/3.36 FIP.
If we divorce position from the discussion, the Met most like Lyles – a former first rounder who has flopped in the big leagues recently – is the guy the Rockies were rumored to be interested in: Ike Davis. He hit just .205/.326/.334 in 2013 on his way to a 0.2 bWAR. That leaves out his productive, but short 2011, and his long slog through 2012 when he was still worth 0.9 bWAR.
The second player the Rockies acquired,, Brandon Barnes, who will be 28 in May 2014, is a 4th outfielder. He’s hit .233/.282/.330 in his two partial big league seasons in 2012 and 2013. Barnes is not as good as the 4th outfielder the Rockies traded to the Mets in 2013: Eric Young Jr., himself a career .258/.325/.338 hitter in 404 big league games.
If the Rockies were not interested in reacquiring Young, perhaps 25-year old Matt den Dekker (.207/.270/.276 in 63 PA) would have sparked their interest as an extra outfielder.
So, after picking up Lyles for the back of their rotation, and a Barnes for their bench, the Rockies signed Justin Morneau, who will turn 33 in 2014, for two years at $13 million. The great Dan Szymborski fired up his ZiPs machine to project “Morneau in Colorado 2014: 280/343/457, 104 OPS+ 0.9 WAR. 2015: 277/339/453, 102 OPS+, 0.5 WAR.”
Again, Morneau’s 2014 projection is awfully similar in bWAR to what Ike Davis actually produced in 2012. And Davis would probably be $3 to $5 million cheaper over the next two years. Of course, there’s that messy issue of 2013 as well.
From the Rockies perspective if they had done the deal with the Mets for say Ike Davis and Matt den Dekker for Fowler, they would have needed to add a starting pitcher from the free agent market or another trade. Those – free agent pitchers – are expensive, but most are better than Lyles. Also, Morneau is a safer bet than Davis, although Davis has more upside given their ages.
A package from the Mets centered around Dillon Gee for Dexter Fowler would have given the Rockies a better pitcher, although without the coveted “former Top Prospect” tag that Lyles carries.
Or maybe the Mets felt that they were better off committing the $7.25 million they would have had to pay Fowler to Chris Young, who will cost only money and not players. Still, the Mets have an open outfield spot remaining. An outfield of Juan Lagares/Young/Fowler, all three with centerfield pedigree, would have been very good defensively (and run a low batting average, but we digress).
Given the Rockies’ moves Tuesday, it certainly seems as though the Mets had the pieces to have acquired Dexter Fowler from Colorado. Fowler is younger than the remaining major free agent outfielders, like Curtis Granderson and Shin Soo Choo, and will require a fraction of the financial commitment.
The Mets designated five players for assignment two pitchers – Scott Atchison and Jeremy Hefner – and three position players – Justin Turner, Omar Quintanilla and Jordany Valdespin. I had both Scott Atchison and Omar Quintanilla, who were both arbitration eligible for the second time, and Justin Turner, who was arb eligible for the first time, projected to earn $1 million in 2014.
Jeremy Hefner and Jordany Valdespin would have been due Major League minimum contracts worth $500,000.
In sum, then, the Mets saved roughly $4 million off of the 2014 payroll by non-tendering these five players. None of the moves should have been the slightest bit surprising. Justin Turner was worth 0.5 fWAR last year. No quantity of clubhouse smiles makes him a key part of a winning baseball team. Quintanilla (-0.3 fWAR) and Valdespin (-0.4 fWAR) were both replacement level players.
Atchison was a low strikeout reliever (5.56 K/9) who was similarly below replacement level (-0.1 fWAR).
Hefner had his moments, but in an ERA where offense is declining, his 4.34 ERA over 23 starts only produced a 0.3 fWAR in 2013. Baseball Reference’s accounting suggests that he was below replacement level in 2012 (-0.3 WAR) and 2013 (-0.8 WAR). Given that he will miss all of the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, he was just wasting a roster spot and half a million bucks to the 2014 Mets. Ideally, by 2015, the Mets will have less use for sub-replacement level pitchers.
My updated 2014 Mets payroll projection (Mets Payroll 12-2) now puts the Mets hard and soft commitments at $70.66 million. Again, that’s by evenly distributing Jason Bay’s $15 million between 2014 and 2015. If the team is really planning on exceeding last year’s $87 million salary number, they now must spend $17 million to do so.
The Mets also now have five open spots on the team’s 40-man roster.