In the wake of David Wright’s team-record $138 million contract, fans wanted to know what impact it would have on prospect Wilmer Flores.
If that’s your first reaction to the signing, congratulations, you have missed the forest through the trees. If that’s your fourth consideration after hearing the news, well cool.
Flores, as you might recall played shortstop through the 2011 season. Faced with the fact that his slow feet prevented him from having the range necessary for the position, the Mets moved him to third base in 2012. Once he arrived at AA, and Jefry Marte also needed playing time at third, Flores split his time between first base (7 games), second base (24 games), and third base (26 games).
Obviously, the plan is for David Wright to play third base for the Mets until 2020. The only way Flores plays the position for the team is if something has wrong: most likely Wright gets hurt.
Flores just does not have the feet to have the range necessary to play second in the big leagues. Fans have called for giving him a taste of leftfield. He will also have below average range out there too.
As a 21-year old, he hit .311/.361/.494 in AA with 28 extra-base hits in 66 games and a 30/20 K/BB ratio. the man has outstanding hands at the plate. Between advanced-A and AA, he popped a career-high 18 homeruns.
Nope, the plan has to be to keep him at third base in 2013 in Las Vegas. Playing at third regularly, he might develop enough anticipation at the position to prove to some other team that the bat will support the glove at third. Failing that, it gives Flores another chance to keep hitting and perhaps even show that he can hit enough to play first base everyday. If he does that, than the Mets could move either Flores or Ike Davis to address another area of need.
The point again? There’s no reason for panic. There’s no reason for the Mets to trade Flores this week. Instead, they can let him play. I believe in the bat.
Last night, Ed Coleman of WFAN broke the news that the Mets and David Wright had agreed on an eight-year deal for $138 million. The deal begins immediately, replacing Wright’s previous $16 million option for 2013.
It is an extraordinary amount of money for an extraordinary baseball player.
The Mets will pay David Wright an average of $17.25 million for the next eight years, his age 30 through 37 seasons. If the price of a win (1 WAR) on the open market, Wright needs to produce an average of 3.1 WAR/year for the Mets to break even on this deal, or roughly 25 total WAR over the life of the deal. And that’s without discounting either the future money paid to Wright, or production earned. It also does not account for inflation. Baseball teams continue to sign ever more lucrative TV deals, so if players continue to receive roughly 50% of baseball’s revenues, there will be a dramatic rise in player salaries in the middle years of the decade. Wright has exceeded 3.1 WAR, by Fangraphs’ WAR in every year since 2005 except 2011, and by Baseball Reference’s reckoning in every year except 2009-2011 since 2005.
The deal looks better when compared to the other major signings of this winter. In terms of extensions for third basemen, Evan Longoria agreed to an extension that will pay him $136 million over the next 10 years with the Rays, an average annual value of $13.6 million. Thanks to deferred money, the Players Association values the deal at $131 million. It’s important to remember that Longoria’s deal includes one year, 2013, that would have been his final arbitration year, so it is not directly comparable to either Wright’s extension nor a free agent deal. Longoria has been great when he has played, but has played in just 207 out of 324 games in the last two years, his age 25 and 26 seasons thanks to back and hamstring problems. He is now under contract with the Rays through his age 36 season. Longoria agreed to his extension coming off the worst year of his professional career in 2012. Wright’s best season, his age 24 campaign in 2007, was marginally valuable than Longoria’s best (8.1 bWAR to 7.8), his age 24 year in 2010. When he has played, Longoria has been more valuable than Wright (0.044 bWAR/game to Wright’s 0.031). However, Wright has never had a season in which he has played as few as Longoria’s 74 games in 2012. The slightly smaller AAV for Longoria reflects his status as 1. a player would still be arbitration eligible and 2. a player who has missed significant time in the last two years.
Wright is being paid just $2.25 million more per year than BJ Upton, who signed a five-year, $75.25 million deal with Atlanta over the next five years. Upton has averaged 2.4 bWAR over the last six years, since 2007, when he has been a full-time big leaguer. In those six years, Wright has averaged 4.8 bWAR per year. That is a massive difference, roughly the value of a solid regular player. Upton’s contract covers his age 29-33 seasons.
Wright is older than both Upton and Longoria. The concern around Wright’s deal should hardly be the money, rather it is concerns about how well Wright will play over the second half of the contract. Coming into the 2012 season, Baseball Prospectus’ ten-year forecast predicted Wright would have a .305 TAv (True Average); he exceeded that with a .312. True average is a total offensive stat like OPS+ or wOBA, that includes park effects, but excludes baserunning, scaled to batting average where .260 represents league average. So, the BP forecast for Wright for 2013 and beyond (before his bounceback 2012) were TAvs of: .305, .303, .300, .296, .291, .283, .272, .260. Basically, a slow, gentle decline, for four years, where Wright could be expected to produce around .300 TAV, (something like .280/.350/.500 for the first half of the deal before his decline became more pronounced in the back half of the deal. Notably, even in 2020, the projections were that he would still be a league-average hitter.
Extending David Wright was the Mets’ best chance of producing a winner in the next four years. He has been the franchise’s greatest offensive player and he signed for a reasonable annual value.
The Mets just locked up their best player, entering his decline phase from a 74-win team for the rest of his career. They have not come close to building a winner. Believe it or not, the hard stuff is still in front of Sandy Alderson and his staff.
How much is David Wright worth? Well, which David Wright will the Mets get if they sign him? They will be signing a 30-year old third baseman for his decline phase, the next seven or eight years. Wright’s value has vacillated significantly in the last six years.
Wright has picked a good time to renegotiate a new contract, coming off his best season in four years, and one of the three best seasons of his nine-year career.
We – fans, analysts – like to think of baseball players’ careers as following a nice smooth progression, where a guy might gets gradually better through his early-mid 20s, peaking near 27 or 28, and then declining gently thereafter, after all it makes analysis easier. Of course, it doesn’t work like that in individual cases. It might be true in the aggregate, but it is not hard to cherry-pick unusual career paths. Jason Bay did not age gracefully. Mike Schmidt, who just so happens to play David Wright’s position, was an excellent player deep into his 30s, winning an MVP at age 36.
If David Wright is a 5+ win player for most of his contract, he would be well worth any of the range of potential outcomes from ~$16-20 million annually, that have been kicked around the press. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Wright has been that player once in the last four years and three times in the last six.
One of the areas of volatility in Wright’s performance has been defensive, bouncing from -1.4 dWAR in 2010 to 2.1 dWAR in 2012, a swing of roughly 35 runs over full seasons of action.
He has been a more consistent hitter, varying between very good and elite (with the exception of his injury marred 2011 season).
Where the WAR graph of David Wright’s career resembled a roller coaster, his offensive production merely looks like a bumpy road. It is this, Wright’s relatively more consistent production offensively, that make a six, seven or even eight-year contract less scary.
The Mets are negotiating with David Wright. Some of the negotiations happen in private, some in the press. When the Mets, or “sources” leak to the press, that’s negotiating. When Wright and his agents take to the press to say they won’t talk to the press to keep negotiations, that’s negotiating too.
I’m not interested in whether it’s a “good” or “bad” sign for the Mets and their interest in signing Wright that he responded in the press. I’m more interested in what the Mets should pay Wright, and what they are actually going to pay him (if anything).
I was frustrated that much of Tuesday’s reporting, while tossing out a range of possible contracts, did not specify whether they would start in 2013 or 2014. The difference is important. The Mets owe David Wright $16 million dollars in 2013, his age 30 season. A six-year deal that began immediately, ripping up the 2013 option, would cover Wright’s age 30-35 seasons. A six-year deal that began after the 2013 extension would cover Wright’s 31-36 seasons, a seven-year pact his 31-37 year old seasons and an eight-year his 31-38 year old seasons. This really matters.
By the way, the range of offers discussed Tuesday included those from 6 years/ $100 million; 7 years/$119-129 million (Rosenthal); to 8 years/$135-140 million (Heyman). Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog pointed out to me that Wright has “always” been asking to be under contract through 2020. That would be a seven-year starting in 2014, or an eight year deal starting in 2013. Through this lens, whether or not the 2013 option was included, I think we can bridge much of the gaps in the reported offers to Wright. Add $16 million and one year to Rosenthal’s 7/$119 rumor, and it lines up perfectly with Heyman’s 8/$135.
Wednesday, the New York Post noted that one of the issues muddying the values around Wright’s deal included the amount of deferred money. Of course, money is good, money later is good, money now is better, so more deferred money makes a contract less valuable to the player.
So, in part, I think that there’s enough evidence to suggest that seven years beyond 2013, through 2020, for Wright’s age 31-37 seasons is clearly in play. Any deal reported as being for six years starts after the 2013 option. Offers reported as covering eight years likely include the 2013 option. Seven-year offers are murkier, but likely begin after the 2013 option in 2014. How much the Mets should pay is really the big, difficult, nasty question that I’ll tackle later in light of Evan Longoria’s recent extension, Wright’s career, and aging patterns for Major League third basemen.
Last week, Major League teams faced the deadline for adding players to their 40-man roster. Prospects who are not on the 40-man roster and have been around for a while (five drafts if they signed at 18 or younger, or four if they signed at 19 or older) are eligible to be selected by another team. Remember, players who are selected in the Major League phase must be kept on the drafting team’s 25-man roster the entire subsequent season, or returned to their original team, for a small fee.
The Mets added RHP Zack Wheeler, RHP Hansel Robles, RHP Gonzalez Germen and RHP Greg Burke, LHP Darin Gorski and INF Wilfredo Tovar to the 40-man roster last week.
The only really notable omission: slugging 3B/1B Aderlin Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who turned 21 in October, has the most power of any Mets player below AAA, and it’s not really close. In 125 games between Savannah in the South Atlantic League and St. Lucie in advanced-A, he hit .263/.321/.476 with 26 doubles and an organization-leading 24 homers. Was leaving him unprotected him a mistake?
After a slow April in Savannah (.200/.266/.370 – 3 HR, 8 BB/24 K in 24 games), he became more patient and much more productive over the next two months (.307/.368/.555 – 13 HR, 21 BB/47 K in 59 games). His walk rate jumped from 5% in 2011 to 8.6% in the SAL in 2012. Promoted to the FSL, his walk rate again dipped below 5%. When he’s patient, he’s a big-time threat.
Rodriguez is a big guy, listed at 6’3″, 210 pounds. He’s very strong, but not in a cut, gym-toned way like Cory Vaughn, who was second in the Mets organization in homers (23) in 2012. Nope, it’s a more natural, big-man type strength. When he barrels up the ball, it goes. He played his home games in the SAL in Grayson Stadium, one of the toughest environments for power hitters in the minors. That’s the good. His swing can get a little long, but when challenged by a good fastball, he can shorten up and has the hands and hand-eye coordination to square up a good heater.
At the plate, he struggles when he chases. Too often, he has chased early count breaking balls. Lefties, even at the a-ball level, who fed him a steady diet of off-speed stuff, including curves and changeups, have gave him fits in the SAL (.130/.183/.260 – 77 AB). As long as we’re playing with small sample sizes, he hit .340/.367/.5.96 with three homers, a walk and seven whiffs in 47 AB against lefties in the FSL.
In the field, the Mets began exposing him to first base this year. His play at third is rough. His size will always limit his range. He has more than enough arm for third, and gets better carry and has a more accurate delivery than fellow Mets “3B” prospect Jefry Marte. The major issue for Rodriguez at third is his hands. Will they ever work well enough for the position? He made 44 errors in 2011 and 30 between Savannah and St. Lucie in 2012. Sometimes his hands look worse because he makes plays more difficult because he is late to spot, or too inflexible to bend, reach or contort in the way that a MLB 3B would be expected to. Most scouts I have talked to, think he will end up at first base.
So, did the Mets err by leaving Rodriguez unprotected this time around? He’s a nice prospect, and a player who I am higher on than the general internet consensus, I believe. Yup, I love the power. Still, he is far away, in years from helping a major league team. That’s the bet the Mets made here: however intriguing his power, Rodriguez is far enough away that no team will be willing to carry him on their 25-man roster. I think I would have rostered Rodriguez, and certainly done so in front of say, Gonzalez Germen, but the Mets are clearly betting not on upside, but on the practical roster decisions they, and every other MLB team faces.
Just for fun, I plugged Rodriguez’s stats into the minor league Equivalency Calculator. I plugged his full year stats in as though he had played the entire year in Savannah and the calculator returned a MLB line of .190/.225/.313 with 14 homers. If we pretend instead that Rodriguez played the full year in the FSL, and put up the same numbers as he did in the SAL (which of course didn’t happen) then his MLB equivalent is .207/.250/.349 with 16 homers. Those quick and dirty projections, plus shaky defense seems like it should be enough to scare off most MLB teams, even the Astros.
Friend of the site, Chris Walendin, has the complete list of Mets farmhands who are now rule 5 eligible here.
We’ll touch on a few other names.
3B Jefry Marte – While turning 21 last June, Marte hit .251/.322/.366 in 129 games for AA Binghamton with shaky defense at third. Like Aderlin Rodriguez but with less power and thus upside, he is unlikely to be drafted.
RHP Taylor Whitenton – Whitenton will turn 25 in February. After struggling with his control as a starter, the Mets moved him to the bullpen in 2012 for advanced-A St. Lucie where he struggled to throw strikes out of the bullpen (5.4 BB/9). He misses bats (68 K/56.1 IP) with a fastball in the low 90s that he can crank up higher in shorter outings. He’s the kind of bullpen arm that teams find intriguing in the rule five, and sometimes try to hide in an MLB ‘pen.
Yesterday was the deadline for teams to submit their reserve lists for the Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft. Players who are on the Mets’ 40-man roster are not eligible to be drafted. Any player who is not on the 40-man, who was signed at 19, who has been in the system for four drafts or a player who was 18 or younger who has been in the system for five drafts, is eligible to be selected.
So, adding players to the 40-man roster removes them from the player pool in the Rule 5. In the MLB phase of the draft, the selecting team must keep a player on their major league roster all year long (active for at least 90 days). In the minor league phase of the draft, there are no roster restrictions.
The Mets added four RHP: Zack Wheeler, Hansel Robles, Gonzaelez Germen and Greg Burke, one LHP: Darin Gorski and infielder Wilfredo Tovar.
Put simply, Wheeler is the best prospect in the Mets minor league system. Wheeler, who turned 22 in May, has a big-time fastball that lives in the mid-upper 90s. His curveball and slider both could be plus pitches, while his changeup lags as his fourth offering. When his breaking balls are on, and in the strike zone, he can be untouchable. He finished ninth in the AA Eastern League in ERA (3.26), fourth in WHIP (1.16), fourth in opponents’ batting average (.225), second among starters in strikeout rate (9.08/9 innings pitched). Promoted to Buffalo in early August, he made six starts in AAA where he put together a solid 3.27 ERA, and fanned 31 batters in 33 innings, but walked 16. Just like their AA counterparts, AAA hitters had trouble squaring up Wheeler’s top shelf stuff (23 hits/.205 opponents’ batting average). However, his walks stand out strongly. When he throws more strikes, he will be ready for the big leagues, likely before July 1, 2013, but after May 20 or so, saving him from potential super-two status.
Robles is a surprising addition to the 40-man roster. He put up fantastic numbers (1.11 ERA, 8.17 K/9, 1.2 BB/9, 6.6 K/BB) for Short-season Brooklyn, while turning 22 in August, making him three months younger than Zack Wheeler while pitching three/four levels below him on the organizational ladder. I missed Robles in Coney Island this summer, but in September, Jeff Paternostro wrote the definitive piece on the short (5’11″) right-hander at Amazin Avenue here. I’ll sum up: working out of a low arm-slot, Robles can touch 94-95, although other starts, he will sit 91-92 and touch 93. His slider has more horizontal movement than vertical break (a common feature from low-slot pitchers) and his changeup has good arm speed and deception. Considering the fact that he’s likely to start in Savannah, burning a 40-man spot on Robles is surprising, but the Mets clearly felt that some team might take a chance on him based on his fastball and ability to throw strikes.
Germen, who turned 25 in September, began in advanced-A in 2012, moved to AA, where he made 19 starts, and then make a spot start in Buffalo. He’s a well-developed, toned 6’1″, 175 pounds, who generally sits 90-91 with his fastball, although he can run it up a little harder touching 93. He too works out of a low arm slot. His second-best pitch is his change-up, and at least when he was in Savannah a year ago, his slider was rudimentary. It’s a funny profile for a right-hander but based on his numbers in AA – 127 H, 97 K, and 33 BB in 119.2 IP (7.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9) I do not see a Major League starter. He’s just too hittable with nothing to keep Major League hitters off-balance. He could end up in the bullpen as early as the middle of 2013, however.
The Mets signed Burke as a minor league free agent this winter. The Padres rescued the Duke product out of Indy ball in 2006. Most recently, he put up very nice nubmers for AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk in 2012 with a combined 50/15 K/BB ratio in 64.2 innings. He had Tommy John Surgery way back in college in 2002, and struggled to regain with his velocity during his subsequent collegiate campaign. Burke appeared in 48 games for the Padres in 2009, putting up a 92 ERA+ with 23 walks, 33 strikeouts and 48 hits allowed in 45.2 innings. At that time, he was a fastball/slider pitcher throwing his heater, which averaged 91 mph 66% of the time and his 83 mph slider 27%. He’ll get his shot in the Mets’ bullpen in 2013.
The Mets drafted the tall, lean (6’4″, 210) left-hander in the seventh round in 2009. He looked like nothing special in Savannah in 2010, splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen, allowing 125 hits and 12 homers and a 4.58 ERA in 114 innings in the South Atlantic League. His velocity was upper 80s mostly, and while he had good feel and arm-speed on his changeup, he could not keep batters honest with the fastball, and was hurt on anything over the plate. He made a few mechanical tweaks, improved his slider, and added a few ticks on his heater to 89-91 in 2011 in St. Lucie, and voila, had success (2.08 ERA, 140 K/29 BB – 3.8 K/BB) earning the Mets minor league pitcher of the year. Promoted to AA Binghamton, Gorski, who just turned 25 this October, had a solid, but unspectacular year: 4.00 ERA, 118 K/50 BB – 2.4 K/BB and 20 homers allowed in 139.2 innings. His HR/9 doubled from 0.7 in advanced-A to 1.3 in AA, while his walk rate moved up from 1.9 to 3.2 and his K/rate slipped from 9.1 to 7.6. That kind of performance erosion is totally expected. Perhaps there’s a back-end starter in there, potentially as soon as mid-late 2013 after some triple-A seasoning.
Wilfredo Tovar turned 21 in August, the same week as Wilmer Flores, his infield-mate in AA. Tovar is easily the top defensive shortstop in the organization. It’s not close. His glove should get him to the big leagues. The question is whether he’s going to hit enough to hold down an everyday role or whether his light bat will keep him as a utility infielder. In 57 games in AA, he hit .254/.308/.332 with 11 walks against 22 strikeouts. He makes contact and doesn’t strike out, but because he has well below average power, and pitchers do not fear challenging him, he must be extraordinarily selective to draw his walks. Anyway, he’ll play in the big leagues.
Joe, via email:
Comment: For some time now we have heard that he doesn’t have the range to play shortstop and now finally the Mets have moved him off that position. It sounds like his best position might be 1B or 3B. However, the Mets currently do not have an ideal 2B in Daniel Murphy. How do you think Flores might be in the field at second base compared to Murphy? Hitting-wise, at least, Flores might project to be Murphy with more power.
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
Lets start with what Flores has been doing recently. He’s hitting .307/.386/.465 with seven doubles, three homers, 11 walks and only 15 strikeouts in 27 games for the Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League. The 21-year old has played 21 games at third base and one at second, and for what it’s worth (not much) committed six errors. The VWL has averaged a .271/.346/.395 line. Flores is walking at a 9.5% rate, higher than in any of his domestic seasons while fanning in just 13% of his plate appearances. Dude can really hit.
Ben’s question first. Putting Flores in leftfield is a bad, bad idea. He’s just not fast enough to ever have better than well below average range in the outfield. No, he can’t learn to get faster. He’ll catch the balls that he can reach, but he will not reach enough in the outfield to be anything other than poor.
Flores at second is more appealing than in leftfield, but I still think that it would be a stretch. He is, and will always be, a second baseman with below average range. Again, he’ll field the grounders he can reach, but he will not reach enough of them. He has good hands and a plus arm, but his feet are slow, too slow for short, and too slow to play an average second base.
Reviews of his work at third, in his first year playing the position, went from poor in the early part of the season to questionable and tolerable in the warmer months. Scouts seemed to think that if he hit enough, a manger or team would be willing to put up with defense at the hot corner.
As far as Flores versus Murphy defensively, I don’t think there’s any guarantee that the youngster will be better. There’s a small split in the defensive metric with respect to Murphy’s 2012 season: Total Zone Rating has him one run below average, BIS Defensive Runs Saved has him +1 and UZR has him nine runs below average. I really think Murphy is quicker than Flores. The Irish Hammer stole 14 bases in his last full minor league season in 2008 in 99 games. Flores has 14 stolen bases in 589 minor league games through his age 20/21 season. The nicest thing I heard about Flores’ work at second in 2012 was that he was still “learning” the postion.
So, again I’d like to see the Mets leave Flores at third in 2013. He has soft hands and strong arm. He will need to work hard to learn the reactions at the hot corner, but that’s his best (if not only chance) of retaining defensive value before sliding down to first base.
Great athletes make it look easy. Things that would be well beyond the physical capabilities of an average human are no obstacle to the special athlete. It’s not just that they can perform the feat, but they make it look nearly effortless.
Sure, you or I could swing a bat. I do, in a slow-pitch softball these days. I popped out twice last Monday night. But we will never possess the ability, and balance of Miguel Cabrera or David Wright to hit balls pitched so hard we could barely see them, or spinning so quickly that we have no idea where they will be next, and blister them in all directions.
Sure, you can run or even sprint. You can even jump, a whole 26 inches maybe. Now sprint a few hundred feet, jump to the top of a wall and catch a baseball hit 380′. Mike Trout can do that and walk away smiling. Most humans, and most baseball players cannot do that.
Sure, you can go throw a baseball with a friend or a teammate. RA Dickey can make his knuckleball dance (video here) in unpredictable ways. No humans and no other baseball players can do that. Indeed, Dickey’s knuckleball is unlike any knuckler ever seen before (this is a nice discussion of the physics and movement patterns).
Does it look impossible when RA Dickey is making hitters look silly swinging at a pitch that isn’t there? Now, you try to throw an 80 mile an hour offering that turns Giancarlo Stanton into a hacking littler leaguer.
A couple people have asked me, based on Dickey’s Cy Young award win whether it is worth teaching failing (or failed) minor league pitchers the knuckleball. Sure, you can try, but Dickey and his pitch stand alone in history. It is a better, harder pitcher than that thrown by Tim Wakefield or Charlie Hough. Most people, even baseball players cannot do, mentally or physically, what Dickey does. It’s that simple. Dickey spent years and years refining the art of the knuckleball.
Dickey, even before his Mets’ resurgence, was no ordinary player. He was a good enough athlete to merit a first round draft choice even without an ulner collateral ligament, so he started from a talent base at the extreme far right of the talent distribution. There are hundreds of professional baseball players drafted and signed every year, and before his physical revealed that he was a ligament short of standard; he was among the top 20 in 1996.
Is there a player development angle here? Sure, here are a few I draw: pitching is hard; Predicting player career paths is hard; bet on the best athletes; bet on the players who will put in the work and bet on the smart players. The lesson I do not draw: teach every struggling minor league pitcher a knuckleball.
RA Dickey makes a baseball do absurd things, and makes it his routine every fifth day.
Perhaps his greatest feat, and the greatest deception of the great athlete is that they make the average fan think “I can do that.” You can’t.
Now go get working on that knuckleball.
By now, Mets fans know that Lucas Duda has surgery on his right wrist which he broke while moving furniture after the team announced it. Damn, couches are dangerous.
This is not the first time Duda has had wrist problems. As a freshman at USC, he broke his left wrist on a collision at first base back in 2005. He went on to hit just .208/.322/.299 in 91 PA over 34 games that year as a 19-year old. His sophomore year, his batting average and his OBP rose, but his power did not as he hit .298/.391/.398 in 226 PA over 56 games. By his junior year, he hit for a little more power: .280/.378/.468 in 223 PA over 53 games.
Here’s his College Isolated slugging, calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging to measure a batter’s power, by year:
Fr. (’05) – .091
So. (’06) – .100
Jr. (’07) – .188
The next time he hit for an isolated slugging above .180: 2010 when he “broke out” with a .304/.398/.569 line in 495 PA between AA Binghamton and AAA Buffalo as a 24-year old that earned him his big league debut.
How analogous are Duda’s two wrist injuries separated by over seven years and many professional paychecks? I do not know precisely. The hands (top and bottom) do different things in a player’s swing, but a batter needs both. Also, Duda’s collegiate improvement was likely a result of both improving health and physical and mental development.
I am surprised we have not heard any rumblings about possibly moving Ike Davis to the OF, particularly RF. I understand that he is a very good defensive 1B and that he may not match that defensive value in RF but he did play both positions in college as well as while in the minors, and reports when he was drafted had him throwing 90 off a mound so his arm should work fine there. The reasoning for moving him would be that for the most part, and particularly at this moment in MLB history, it is way easier to acquire around 30 HR at 1B then it is in the OF. Of course, Murphy could then move to 1st if they wanted to add a 2B or SS instead. Not saying this is what should be done but I am surprised I have not heard it as an option at all. – Alex
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
You haven’t heard any rumblings about moving Ike Davis to rightfield because it’s a really bad idea. Ike Davis belongs at first. It’s really that simple.
As Alex points out, Ike Davis is a solid defensive first baseman. Since 2010, his 5.4 UZR/150 is good enough for sixth among all active first basemen, behind Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, James Loney, Mark Teixeira and Joey Votto. I used UZR/150, a rate based stat, to avoid the problem of accounting for Davis’ abbreviated 2011 season.
There is no reason to think he could play a Major League caliber right field. In fact, there is a big reason to think he cannot: he’s slow. Very slow. Mets fans who have watched Davis run should know this, but there’s also a useful measure of player speed, the Bill James creation cleverly titled “speed score.” For reference, since 2010, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner lead baseball with speed scores of 8.3, 8.3 and 8.1. Davis has a speed score of 2.2, or 207th out of 230 qualified Major Leaguers, and below Miguel Cabrera and his 2.3 speed. His peers with 2.2 speed scores are Carlos Quentin, Victor Martinez, Miguel Monter and Jose Lopez. Quentin, the only outfielder of the group is a ghastly defender: – 39.8 UZR over his career and -45 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with a -10.4 UZR/150.
The other parts of the plan do not make any more sense. Daniel Murphy is a little bit above league average as a hitter with a career .292/.339/.427 line and a 108 wRC+ (where 100 is league average). He’s coming off a classic Murphy year in which he hit .291/.332/.403 with a 101 wRC+. That kind of production has value at second base, where by rate, he was the 9th-best offensive player at the position this year. (Even though he appeared to look better at second by the end of 2012, Murphy gives away a whole bunch of that value away defensively; he was -11 by DRS and -9 by UZR.) However, Murphy’s bat is just not viable at first. By wRC+ his 101 of 2012 would have been good enough for 20th in the game.
And of course, then the Mets would need to add a second baseman which is no easy task.
So, yeah, this is a bad idea coupled with a bad idea.