Sunday, Matt den Dekker broke his wrist. The only piece of good news is that while he will have to wear a cast for a month to six weeks, he will not need surgery.
Still, this is pretty bad news for den Dekker. If he takes his cast off on June 1, he would still be a few weeks from game action. Even then, wrist injuries tend to sap a hitter’s bat control and power: two areas in which the 25-year old den Dekker did not have any room to decline. He was not a realistic candidate to make the Opening Day roster. Again, he hit .220/.256/.373 in 77 games in AAA last year with 90 strikeouts – a a 28% strikeout rate. In 45 PA this spring, he was no better: .205/.222/.364 with one walk and 16 strikeouts – a 36% strikeout rate. I have lowered my offensive expectations for den Dekker from poor in the big leagues, to poor in AAA.
This injury seems particularly damaging for den Dekker. Had he gone to AAA Vegas and hit at all, there might well have been an opening for him in New York by summer. Now, he’ll just be getting his own bearings in Vegas and will no longer be the first option when someone ele gets hurt. Generally, I’m not too worried about minor injuries to prospects in spring training – see Michael Fulmer or Zack Wheeler – for this year’s examples. It’s only when the injuries become chronic as they have for Reese Havens at the extreme or Darrell Ceciliani or Cesar Puello, that it starts to really impact a player’s projection. Nope, for den Dekker the damage is purely in terms of timing and most likely missing a chance at his first big league callup.
So the Mets final outfield spot will come down to Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. That Nieuwenhuis is in this battle at all can be blamed directly on his own injury problems – a knee bruise this spring. And don’t worry, the other one will be up soon – whenever Marlon Byrd gets injured or becomes ineffective or the former causes the latter.
Sorry, been away from a computer most of today (And what’s this, centaurs take PEDS?) but I wanted to add a quick followup to the Michael Bourn yesterday, since it came up in the comments. The whole problem of draft pick compensation and the incredible value on draft picks is a direct result of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
As It’s About the Money put it: “they’ve created a league where the 12th pick in the draft is more valuable than one of the game’s better centerfielders, and in which the New York flippin’ Yankees are going to extraordinary lengths to comply with the luxury tax cap.”
In the good old days, teams were allowed to spend their resources however they saw fit. If a team like the Mets decided that Michael Bourn, a legitimate MLB centerfielder would make their roster, which did not currently have any, better they could sign him. Sure, they would sacrifice a draft pick, but they could spend extra on talent in other areas of the draft to try to acquire first round type talents who had slipped. The problem is that the best way to build a winning team is through the draft. First round picks, which used to have value, because hey, you could draft potentially good players, now have extra value because they are a license to spend the most efficient money a baseball team can – on amateur talent.
The answer: less regulation. Blow up the hard draft slots. Keep free agent compensation as is, for all I care. But please, MLB and MLBPA, get rid of the absurd hard slotting for amateur talent. Pay the talented people.
I am opposed to the Mets signing Michael Bourn if it costs them the #11 pick in the 2013 amateur draft. The Mets are still interested in the outfielder, but have not officially asked Major League Baseball to break the rules to allow them to keep their first round pick. Oy. It’s a fun dance two weeks out from spring training.
Why would the Mets have to sacrifice a pick? Well, they had the 10th worst record in 2012 in baseball, but now hold the 11th pick because the Pirates failed to come to terms with Mark Appel of Stanford, and were compensated with the 10th overall pick, pushing the Mets down to #11.
Here’s the actual language of the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding protected picks:
A Club that signs one Qualified Free Agent who is subject
to compensation shall forfeit its highest available selection in the
next Rule 4 Draft. A Club that signs more than one Qualified Free
Agent subject to compensation shall forfeit its highest remaining
selection in the next Rule 4 Draft for each additional Qualified
Free Agent it signs. Notwithstanding the above, a Club shall not
be required to forfeit a selection in the top ten of the first round
of the Rule 4 Draft, and its highest available selection shall be
deemed its first selection following the tenth selection of the first
Emphasis added. The language of the rule is clear. The top ten picks are protected. The rule does not even hint at the notion that the picks of the teams with the ten worst records are protected.
Yes, it is in the abstract, unfair that the Pirates’ failure to sign their pick pushes the Mets down a slot, and out of the range of protection. However, what incentive does MLB have to change the rules now for the Mets? The League office also has to represent the interests of the 29 other Major League teams who would also be harmed by such a haphazard approach to the language of the rules.
It’s not only that the Mets would be sacrificing a valuable pick in the top half of the draft. They would also be sacrificing the roughly $2.5 million slot allowance that the pick carries. In 2012, the first year under a similar system, the Mets saved a quarter of a million dollars against their pool by signing Gavin Cecchini for $2.3 million instead of the $2.55 slot. They wer able to package that small savings, plus underslot deals with Kevin Plawecki (1S), Matt Reynolds (2nd), Branden Kaupe (4th) Richie Rodriguez (9th) and Paul Sewald (10th) to go overslot and sign hard-throwing high school RHP Corey Oswalt and Chris Flexen and C Tomas Nido.
Finally, I was under the idea that speed players, and yes, Bourn, who derives much of his value offensively and defensively from his legs, age poorly. Eno Sarris tweeted out a few links that argued against this notion one using aging curves of players in skill buckets, which shows that speed guys decline more slowly than their more leaden-footed counterparts. The second piece has a few more issues. Tangotiger at the Book Blog looked at the aging patterns of “great” players. Initially, I recoiled at the notion that Bourn is a “great” player, but his 2012 was great enough > 6 WAR, that he slips into the minimum standards of Tango’s study. Anyway, Tango argued in December 2010 that the Carl Crawford signing was reasonable because speedy, great players aged better. And oh, boy. That’s been a disaster. It surely does not mean the research was wrong, just that there’s one more data point that speedy outfielders are not great long term investments.
Bourn is still a 30-year old coming off a career year. Yes, he would immediately improve the Mets’ centerfield position. But is this a reasonable expense in money and draft pick potential for a team like the Mets who are no better than the third-best team in their division, and might reasonably be projected to be 15-20 games behind the Nationals and Braves at the top?
No. No. And no.
This has been a fun dance, but the lights will come on after one more verse.
If you haven’t heard the Diamondbacks traded Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves for Martin Prado and a uninspiring collection of younger players. It’s a pretty baffling trade from Arizona’s perspective.
Prado was the better player than Upton in 2012, posting a career-best 5.4 bWAR compared to Upton’s 2.1 bWAR in a year when he was hampered by a messed up thumb. Except of course, teams are not trading baseball cards and last year’s production, but for future production and contracts. Upton, who will turn 26 in August 2013, is under contract for three more years, and certainly could produce like a superstar again, you know, like he did in 2011. Prado, who turned 29 last October, will be eligible for free agency after 2013.
Is Martin Prado enough value for Upton and 3B Chris Johnson? Of course not. How about the rest of the package Atlanta is sending to the desert? We’ll play a little game here and try to find the closest player under Mets’ team control for the package that Atlanta sent to Arizona.
Closest Met in 2012 value: David Wright (6.7 bWAR).
Career comments: Wright is a year older, and has been better over the course of the two players’ careers. Wright is a .301/.381/.506 hitter, but has slugged .500 or better just once in the last four years after exceeding the mark in each of his first five seasons. Prior to 2012, Wright had failed to reach 3 bWAR in each of his previous three seasons while Prado, since becoming a regular at age 25 in 2009, had put up bWARs of 2.8, 4.9, 1.8 and 2012′s 5.4. There is of course, the wildly disparate contract situation with Wright under contract at $134 million through 2020.
Closest Met in 2012 value: Dillon Gee
R/9 4.60 4.66
ERA+ 94 92
IP 109.2 92.2
Delgado will turn 23 in February, while Gee will be 27 in April. Again, Gee is a solid back-end starter. Delgado is a tick worse, but is younger, and throws a little harder, averaging 92 mph last year to Gee’s 90.2.
Closest Mets farmhand: SS Wilfredo Tovar
Ahmed, who the Braves drafted in the second round in 2011 out of the University of Connecticut, is a gifted defensive shortstop. That earned him the Tovar comparision. Ahmed hit .269/.337/.391 while going 40-for-50 stealing bases in the advanced-A Carolina League in 2012. Tovar does not run as much (he was 12-for-19 in 65 FSL games) but outhit Ahmed in their time in advanced-A in 2012 putting up a .284/.377/.385 line in St. Lucie while turning 21 in August. Tovar finished the year by hitting .254/.308/.332 in 57 games for AA Binghamton. Ahmed struck out in 18% of his advanced-A at bats in 2012, while Tovar whiffed in 7%, and 8.2% in all of his 2012 plate appearances including AA. Tovar walked in 11% of his advanced-A plate appearances compared to Ahmed’s 9%. Again, advantage Tovar. Given the low-power profile the two guys share, that’s a huge disparity in strikeout rate. Ahmed’s only offensive advantage is speed.
Closest Met Farmhand: Cory Mazzoni
The Braves drafted Spruill in the second round out of Marietta, GA in 2008, while the Mets plucked Mazzoni in the second round in 2011 out of North Carolina State. Both turned 23 last fall, and ended their 2012 seasons in AA. Spruill was repeating the level, after splitting 2011 between advanced-A and double-A, which was Mazzoni’s path in 2012.
AA ERA 3.72 3.57
AA K/9 6.2 5.3
Keith Law sees three average pitches in the lanky Spruill (6’5″, 190lbs) but not the stamina or bat-missing ability to start. I have the same concerns, durability and too few strikeouts about Mazzoni, who stands 6’1″ 190.
Closest Met: ???
Drury hit .229/.270/.333 as a 19-year old 1B/3B in the South Atlantic League in 2012.
Pick your favorite non-prospect outside of the Mets top-50 to match here.
I love this deal for Atlanta. They will miss Prado, but Upton could be a top-five player in the league – just as he looked like he was becoming two years ago.
As far as the Mets and Diamondbacks, finding a match, well, that’s a different problem. The Diamondbacks got a useful piece in Prado, who would have been the Mets’ best position player in the last few years not named David Wright. Obviously, the Mets weren’t going to move Wright for Upton (although if that was an option, yes, they should have considered it).
That left the Diamondbacks looking for value off the Mets big league roster. Once they asked for Zack Wheeler, the Mets walked away, per Jon Heyman. Creating a package around Wheeler for Upton would have been an entirely reasonable move for the Mets. It would have made the team more expensive, and pushed the team closer to contention in 2013-2015. However, the front office chose to save their prospect value – a different if also reasonable move.
The Mets have invited five non-roster minor leaguers to spring training: RHP’s Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni, C Juan Centeno, INF Josh Satin and OF Matt den Dekker to Major League Spring Training.
None are likely to make the team’s 25-man roster out of camp. None.
Josh Satin, who turned 28 in December, has found a role in the last two years as a AAA utility guy hitting a combined .294/.389/.430 for the Buffalo Bisons in 169 games. He’s played first, second and third for the Bisons. In very limited big league time, he’s hit .192/.250/.231 in 28 plate appearances, all but one of which came in 2011. He was removed from the Mets’ 40-man roster, and no other team claimed him.
Matt den Dekker, who turned 25 last August, had two different minor league seasons in 2012: a really good first half in AA Binghamton and a dreadful second half in AAA Buffalo. In 58 games with the B-Mets, he hit .340/.397/.563. His offensive production cratered to .220/.256/.373 with 90 strikeouts in 77 games in AAA. Over the two levels, he totalled 31 doubles and 17 homers. However, he struck out in 28.4% of his plate appearances in AAA. Looking over past seasons in the International League, I did not see a single productive big leaguer, who struck out as much as den Dekker >28%, over as plate appearances >300, for as long as Fangraphs has the data. John Mayberry comes closest, with a 26.3% in AAA in 2009. After a productive (2.5 fWAR) 2011, Mayberry was close to a replacement level player in 2012. That’s den Dekker’s future. His ability to play centerfield will get him to the big leagues, but his inability to make contact will hold him to just a shade above replacement level at best.
Centeno, who turned 23 in November 2012, has worked his way up the system as a backup catcher originally drafted in the 32nd round in 2007 out of Puerto Rico. He had never started more than half of his team’s games until playing in a career-high 79 games in 2012. He’s short (listed at 5’9″), and used to be pudgy (currently listed at 172 lbs). His approach at the plate is contact oriented – he will look to flare the ball the other way on anything away. He has no power, but he controls the strike zone well enough – 43 K against 23 walks in 79 games in AA in 2012. The invite is a nice reward for a .285/.337/.342 performance in AA in 2012 when he threw out 41% of opposing basestealers. Major League pitchers will eat him up, but his ability to squat behind the plate will get him a little service time as a third catcher. The other point here is that early in spring training, teams need extra catchers around camp to catch all of those pitchers’ bullpens.
Rafael Montero, who turned 22 in November, put up great numbers in a-ball in Savannah (2.52 ERA and a 6.75 K/BB ratio in 12 starts) and in advanced-A St. Lucie (2.13 ERA, 5.09 K/BB ratio in 8 starts). At the beginning of the 2012 season, he mostly relied on spotting his fastball and his changeup. As the year went on, he threw his slider more and more. His fastball is average to a tick above, sitting 91-92 mph, with a little bit of 93 when he’s really reaching back. It’s plenty to pitch in the big leagues, but he’s not going to blow away big league hitters. He has solid arm speed on his changeup with a little bit of sink. At 6’0, 170 lbs, he is small for a major league starting pitcher. Lack of size and a dominant fastball limit his projection, but he could slot in as a mid-back end starter based on his command and feel. He should start 2013 in double-A with a realistic chance at cracking the MLB rotation in 2014.
Cory Mazzoni is an interesting name and pitcher, but my projection on him has changed in the last year, after giving him the #10 ranking in the system at this time last year. By stuff and numbers, he now looks like a bullpen piece. The Mets’ 2nd round pick in 2011, and third pick behind Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer, Mazzoni pitched his way out of advanced-A and to double-A in 2012. Mazzoni put up a 3.25 ERA in advanced-A and a 4.46 ERA in double-A. I’m more interested in his strikeout rate however. He fanned under 7 batters per nine at both levels, including a 16.1% strikeout rate in double-A. By my count, there are exactly two Eastern League pitchers in the last five years who have gone on to become major league starters with a double-A strikeout rate below 17%: Vance Worley and Ricky Romero. By the time both guys reached the majors they had increased their strikeout rates above 18%. Mazzoni, pitching the way he did in 2012, does not miss enough bats to be a Major League starting pitcher. He’s not real big – listed at 6’1″ and 190lbs, and has not shown an ability to hold his stuff in a starting role. Generally speaking, in 2012, he would work 91-92 with his fastball most of his start. He might show better velocity earlier, or in a big spot, crank it up to 94 or 95. (I heard he reached 96 against a rehabbing big leaguer.) In short outings out of the bullpen, he should be able to find that plus velocity more consistently. His secondary pitches – a slider and a changeup that mimics a split-finger – are fine if unexceptional. Mazzoni could well be in the Mets’ bullpen as soon as mid-late 2013.
Why no talk of Puello or Lagaras being a right handed bat in the OF?
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
There’s no talk of using either Cesar Puello or Juan Lagares as a right-handed bat in the OF because neither is ready.
Puello, who turned 21 in April, hit .260/.328/.423 in 66 games with St. Lucie this past year. An early-season muscle strain and then a broken hammate bone interrupted his season. He started to turn his powerful frame into more in-game pop. His .163 isolated slugging percentage and his 9.9% extra-base hit rate were both career-highs for full-season baseball. On the downside, he fanned in 23% of his at-bats and walked in just 2.8%. His on-base percentage, was sustained by 16 hit-by pitches. Guys who fan that much in advanced-A often see precipitous average declines at higher levels (think Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker). His next step will be double-A in 2013 where he will need to show dramatically better strike zone judgment. Major League pitchers would carve him up right now.
Lagares, who will be 24 on Opening Day, 2013, is closer to big league ready, but did not hit for the kind of power in 2012 that would suggest he can be a Major League asset yet. He hit .283/.334/.389 in 130 games for double-A Binghamton, and apparently set a team record for most outfield putouts in a season. Good news: he makes contact, as evidenced by his 17% strikeout rate. Bad news: he does not walk much (6.8% in 2012). Worse news: his power disappeared in 2012 as his extra-base hit rate slipped to 7.1%, his lowest rate since 2009, and his isolated slugging percentage dropped to .106. He has always been a heavily top-hand hitter, which produces line drives with top spin that sink, rather than backspin that carries for extra-base hits.
For what it’s worth, Lagares hit significantly better against lefties, with more pop than he did against righties this year.
Vs LHP: .333/.382/.477 – a .144 ISO – in 144 PA
Vs. RHP: .264/.317/.357 – a .093 ISO – in 399 PA
Lagares should start 2013 in Vegas.
I’ll write a longer piece once everyone knows the identity of the “non-elite” prospects, and the amount of money in the Mets-Jays Dickey-d’Arnaud/Syndergaard deal. However, I will say this right now: if a team is going to trade a reigning Cy Young award winner, this is how it’s done. Pull the other team’s best two prospects. In d’Arnaud, the Mets acquired a player who is ready now and a top 10 prospect in baseball. Syndergaard becomes the Mets’ second-best pitching prospect.
Has R.A. Dickey been excellent over the last three years? Yes. Is he a wonderful story? Yes. Have knuckleballers aged well? Yes. Were the Mets a likely playoff team in 2013? No. Are they better off in 2014 and beyond for having done this deal? That’s the idea.
There is no guarantee that d’Arnaud’s minor league success will translate into his becoming a big league all-star. There’s no guarantee that Syndergaard’s promise will make him a rotation regular in 2015. Similarly, Dickey might never have a year, or a half-season as good as his 2012.
This is a risk worth taking for a team that has missed the playoffs for each of the last six seasons.
As I write this late Saturday afternoon (5 pm), the likeliest permutation of an RA Dickey to Toronto trade, has the Mets receiving C Travis d’Arnaud, and either RHP Noah Syndergaard OR RHP Aaron Sanchez. The Mets will likely send more players to Toronto, and get another piece or two back, but these are the big names.
Both Baseball Prospectus and John Sickels had the three players listed 1, 2 and 3 in that order in their most recent evaluations of the Blue Jays’ system.
D’Arnaud joins Wheeler as the top prospect in the system. I’d pick d’Arnaud, who is widely regarded as not just the top catching prospect in baseball, but one of the best position player prospects anywhere, over Wheeler. Reasonable people with a pitching fetish could choose Wheeler.
Either Syndergaard or Sanchez, who both pitched in the Midwest League for Lansing, the same level as Savannah, would slot in behind Wheeler as the Mets’ second best pitching prospect. Yes, that’s ahead of Michael Fulmer, Rafael Montero and everyone else.
D’Arnaud hit .333/.380/.595 in 67 games last year for AAA Las Vegas with 21 doubles and 16 homers as a 23 year-old before his season ended with a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). He’s no Vegas mirage: he hit .343/.381/.577 with seven blasts on the road. He’s no PCL mirage either; he hit .311/.371/.542 as a 22-year old in AA New Hampshire in 2011.
The full numbers for d’Arnaud:
|2011 AA (EL)||114||424||132||33||1||21||33||100||1||0||8||.311||.371||.542|
|2012 AAA (PCL)||67||279||93||21||2||16||19||59||2||0||3||.333||.380||.595|
|2011 AA (EL)||11.8||21.5||7.1||4.5||.365||.231|
|2012 AAA (PCL)||12.9||19.5||6.3||5.3||.374||.262|
The one concern numbericaly for d’Arnaud is that he walks at a rate below the Major League average of 8.5%. The Mets, who under Dave Hudgens, have done a strong job teaching plate discipline, should be able to address this with d’Arnaud.
Syndergaard, a first round pick (38th overall) in the 2010 draft, is listed at 6’5″.
Strengths: Monster size; high-end arm strength; fastball is thrown on steep plane; already works near plus-plus velocity range and can touch elite; shows heavy sink and occasional boring action; one source called his fastball “bottom-heavy and difficult to lift”; curveball flashes plus, with hard vertical action; changeup took steps forward in 2012, flashing plus with sinker movement and good arm speed; shows strike-throwing ability and feel for working low in the zone.
Weaknesses: Delivery has some effort; good arm speed, but can show some drag; can lose legs in the delivery and become too arm-heavy; curveball isn’t consistent and will lose depth; changeup can get too firm; tendency to push the pitch.
Strong sinking fastball, good changeup, breaking stuff coming around, solid command, good body, good makeup, strong sabermetric profile. Just needs to stay healthy.
Those are some pretty sexy a-ball numbers for a guy who turned 20 years old in August 2012.
The 6’4″ Sanchez is a little behind Syndergaard, both as a prospect, and in height, but not by much. The Jays drafted him with the 34th pick in 2010 out of high school in California.
Strengths: Prototypical size; improving strength; easy delivery; 7 fastball; works in easy plus range and touches higher; excellent extension and lighting fast arm; plus life; projects as cash money pitch; curveball shows 6+ promise; big hook with tight rotation and vertical bite; changeup flashes above-average potential, with some fade to the arm-side and a fastball disguise.
Weaknesses: Command is below-average; delivery can get funky; doesn’t finish and elevates to the arm side; timing and balance can get thrown off; late pickup will force arm to compensate and play catch-up; secondary offerings are inconsistent; at times, doesn’t show enough pitchability.
Stuff is even better than Syndergaard’s, three plus pitches, but needs to sharpen his control. Noah has a better balance of stuff and command than Aaron at this point, but they are very close.
Obviously, he has a control problem. He also misses bats and gives up few hits.
This is essentially a series of things I think in the wake of the Royals-Rays Wil Myers + for James Shields/Wade Davis and the Mets’ on-going negotiations with R.A. Dickey.
- The amount the Royals paid in prospects for James Shields and Wade Davis increased R.A. Dickey’s value on the trade market.
- In fact, they increased it so much that it has almost become hard to make a deal. R.A. Dickey has been Shields’ equal or better in the last two or three years. With the inclusion of Myers, the Mets would only be happy with a return that included a truly elite prospect who projects as a impact player – a potential all-star – who contributes value on both sides of the ball, in the big leagues. There just are not that many of those guys in the high minors. Leaving out NL East teams for a moment, the list includes guys like Travis D’Arnaud (TOR), Jurickson Profar (TEX) and Oscar Taveras (STL). I’m open to suggestions for others to include.
- The Texas Rangers’ Mike Olt is not enough to be the centerpiece of a return deal for R.A. Dickey. Grant Bisbee did a very nice, thorough explanation of many of the important ideas behind that here. The Mets think so too. Texas has, thus far, balked at including either Profar or Elvis Andrus.
- The gap between R.A. Dickey and the next best pitcher on the free agent market, Anibal Sanchez, is significant. In his last three seasons, Anibal Sanchez has been worth 6.1 bWAR. R.A. Dickey was worth 5.6 bWAR in 2012 alone and 12.1 in the last three. Or is it? If Fangraphs WAR is your style, Sanchez has been worth 12 fWAR in the last three and R.A. Dickey 9.9. Moving back to more basic stats, in the last three years, Dickey has allowed 3.28 runs/9 innings pitched over 616.2 innings. Sanchez: 4.12 r/9 over 587 IP. Nah, there’s a gap: Dickey’s been better on a per-inning basis and pitched more innings. He’s also 10 years older.
- The gap between what the Mets are offering Dickey - $20 million on top of 2013′s $5 million, for a total of $25 million, and his request of $26-28 million for 2014-2015 for a combined value of $31-33 million, is in baseball terms, not big. It can be easily bridged, if the Mets wanted to.
- I don’t think the right answer for the Mets is definitively “TRADE” (or if you prefer “TRAID”) or “SIGN.” I would lean toward trade, and I think the deliberate pace of the negotiations suggests that the Mets are too. However, the real issue is whether the Mets can hook up with a team, and it’s maybe 5 or six in baseball, with a high-enough ceiling offensive prospect to make trading Dickey an appropriate value play. That is not an easy task. Were Dickey to come back on a three-year deal that average between $8.3 and $11 million annually, at anything close to his 2010-2012 level, he would continue to be an incredibly valuable asset. It’s obviously a shorter term asset than say, 6 full years of a prospect, but those extra years of control have to be balanced against the odds that the players acquired for Dickey do not achieve his level of success. In the same vein, the odds have to be against 38-year old of Dickey 2013-2015 equalling Dickey 2010-2012, right?
Let me be clear: I love what the Tampa Bay Rays did Sunday night and I hate what the Royals did.
The Rays sent RHP James Shields and RHP Wade Davis to Kansas City for OF prospect Wil Myers, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Mike Montgomery and 3B Mike Montgomery.
Myers, the reigning 2012 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, is ready. He hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 bombs as a 21-year old between double-A and triple-A last year. The 140 strikeouts in 134 games suggest that his average will come down in an important way in the big leagues, but the game power, at that age, and that level are real. He was one of the select few prospects, I would have been pleased to see the Mets trade either Jon Niese or RA Dickey for in a 1-for-1 deal.
Shields is signed for two more years at $21 million dollars. Davis is signed for the next two years at $7.6 million with team options on 2015, 2016, 2017 at $7 million, $8 million and $10 million respectively.
Shields is a very good starting pitcher (more on that in a few).
Davis is a failed starter – vacillating around replacement level- who was a very effective reliever in 2012. As a starter, opponents hit .260/.325/.428 with a .282 BABIP and a 4.22 ERA against him while that dropped to .189/.271/.299 as a reliever with a .264 BABIP and a 2.43 ERA. As a reliever, he fanned 31% of his opponents with a 10.2% walk rate, while as a starter it was just 15% with a 8.3% walk rate. He should be a reliever. If the Royals believe that he can start, and early indications are that they do, they see something in the numbers that I do not.
Shields was the prize. The Royals, fresh off a 72-win season, with Dayton Moore in fear of losing his job, are playing to win in 2013.
I thought it was a dumb deal for the Royals. Given that they were interested in winning now, I thought they should have preferred Dickey to Shields.
Last week, Andy Martino reported that the Royals were not interested in RA Dickey. If they are playing to win now, this stance seemed perplexing. In the last three seasons, since reaching the big leagues, Dickey has been a superior pitcher to Shields.
However, this is somewhat unfair to Shields. He had an extremely poor 2010 with a 5.18 ERA and a 75 ERA+, his one and only below average season as a Major League starting pitcher.
Shields then bounced back. His 2011 was, by ERA+, his best season as a professional. He has thrown 200 innings or more in each of his six full Major League seasons. He will turn 31 in two weeks.
This, is I think closer to the truth. Dickey’s ERA is just slightly better, but Shields has pitched more innings and is younger, but they are basically comparable.
As for their relative prices, Shields will cost an average of $10.5 million over the next two years. Dickey has indicated that he would be willing to sign a two year extension for $13 million per season, on top of his $5 million extension for 2013. That’s a few (Major League) pennies cheaper than Shields, an average of $10.3 million.
The Royals asked the Mets for a package of Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler. That’s 12 years of cost-controlled pitcher. That’s a whole lot more than two years of Shields or three years of Dickey, factoring the price of his extension.
That the Royals make strange moves is hardly news. I think the Mets were absolutely right to walk away when the Royals asked for Niese and Wheeler. And if the Royals preferred Shields to Dickey, that’s their reasonable decision.
Trading away so much young talent, however, is less reasonable. You can read Dave Cameron skewer the trade from the Royals perspective here while at ESPN, Keith Law called it a “heist.”
The bad news for the Mets: they do not have Wil Myers, and the other three youngsters headed to Tampa. The good news: they still have Niese and Dickey, two valuable assets in an industry always hungry for pitching.
With Zack Greinke and Shields off the market, the Mets now operate from a position of relative pitching strength.