With the Braun suspension in connection with Biogenises, why have we not heard anything from you regarding Puello and his name on the list?
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
With the Braun suspension in connection with Biogenises, why have we not heard anything from you regarding Puello and his name on the list?
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
@tobyhyde what is going on with Nimmo and the Ks? Is he focusing on hitting the ball to left and not concerned about Tue results?
— brian edwards (@bwe2684) July 8, 2013
Is Branon Nimmo failing as badly as it appears, or are his fledgling stats just a result of his injury? He never played HS baseball in Wyoming, so I worry that he was very much over-rated. It makes me very concerned about the scouting under Alderson, and if scouting is flawed I don’t see any long term hope. I am a very optimistic guy, so I want to believe.
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
Second question first. No, Nimmo, the Mets first round pick in 2011, is not “failing as badly as it appears.” He’s a 20-year-old player going through growing pains in his first full professional season. But yeah, everything matters and Nimmo has had a poor last month, with as Brian points out, way too many strikeouts.
First, lets put Nimmo’s performance in context.
Nimmo is hitting .264/.369/.357 with 8 doubles, five triples and one homerun to go with 32 walks against 78 strikeouts in 60 games in a great pitcher’s park at age 20.
The South Atlantic League averages .252/.328/.374. So, Nimmo is above average overall in batting average and on-base percentage, but his isolated slugging percentage (.097) is below league average (.122).
Nimmo has hit better on the road, .307/.392/.439 with 10 extra-base hits in 30 games and .221/.348/.274 with four extra-base hits in 30 games at home. Removed from the massive dimensions of Historic Grayson Stadium, particularly to right-center, Nimmo’s isolated slugging percentage is .132, or a touch above league average.
A few more notes.
Nimmo has hit .283/.394/.394 in 180 AB vs. RHP and .191/.269/.213 with one double in 47 AB versus lefties. Lefties cause him problems. He knows this. To the Mets’ and Savannah manager Luis Rojas’ credit, Nimmo has played against nearly every lefty the Gnats have seen.
In his first 23 games of the year, Nimmo hit .322/.421/.433 in 23 games in April which included a 1-for-27 skid after he suffered a bruised hand in Lakewood. Nimmo spent the next month on the disabled list with that hand bruise and then a strained glute. In the 37 games since his return, he has hit .226/.335/.307 in 37 games with 20 walks and 54 strikeouts and nine extra-base hits. That’s a 33% strikeout percentage, which is alarming.
I had never seen the April version of Nimmo before, either in the GCL or Brooklyn. His hand path was cleaner, and he was barreling the ball hard two or three times a game. He was working to left-center and right-center mostly with authority.
When he returned, it was fairly clear that Nimmo did not trust his hands and was compensating in other areas of his swing. He has admitted as much. Scouts and coaches noticed. Also, since his return, perhaps as a compensation mechanism, he has started landed more closed with his front stride foot. When his right foot lands too much closer to home plate than his back foot, it prevents his hips from clearing through the swing, and affects his hand path.
Rojas explained the mechanics in a little more detail, “He’s been working a lot with [Gnats Hitting Coach] Joel [Fuentes] lately. They’re working more on his direction than any other thing. He’s sometimes striding back to almost the shortstop. That’s kinda like locking up his hands. He can’t free his hands through the zone. They’re working a lot on his direction – striding back to the pitcher, so he can have more freedom with his hips and his hands, he can extend through the zone better. He’ll be ok. He’s easy to coach. He had a couple of good swings in Greenville [over the weekend].
“Hitting from the left side, [if] you stride back toward the pitcher, or slightly to the second baseman, you’re still in a pretty good direction to let your hips go through the zone and let your hands go through the zone and have a good follow through. That’s what they’re working with him right now.”
In the last month, pitchers have been able to beat Nimmo in, which has helped push his strikeout rate up.
So, what’s the conclusion? Nimmo has had a bad month after a hand injury, which was a new experience for him. He’s working on making a mechanical adjustment. There’s no reason for panic, yet. He still has a chance to be a very nice, high-OBP MLB centerfielder.
As a general rule, the Cyclones get way too much attention because they are: 1. based in Brooklyn, 2. the games are great fun, 3. they usually win while 4. the players are years from the big leagues. That does not mean things that happen at MCU Park do not matter.
SS Gavin Cecchini – The Mets first round pick in 2012, at #12 overall. A shortstop who the Mets think will be an average defender who will hit at the top of the order, Cecchini was my #7 ranked prospect pre-season. He hit an unexceptional .246/.311/.330 in 53 games last year for the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League. When I saw him briefly in 2012, I recall liking Cecchini’s swing more than I expected to, but thinking that he needed to get stronger. He says he got stronger all winter. I was expecting to see a little more pure speed out of Cecchini and when I saw him in the Appy League, on a wet track, he was at best an average runner. I’m curious how his footspeed looks in Brooklyn.
The Starting Rotation
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Miller Diaz
RHP John Gant
LHP Carlos Valdez
RHP Seth Lugo
LHP Dario Alvarez
The 19-year-old Gsellman, who gets the Opening Day nod, held his own in Savannah, working 88-92 with a changeup. His breaking ball is rudimentary.
Miller Diaz throws hard, but is pretty raw. I missed him in Kingsport last year.
John Gant was a 21st round pick in 2011 out of high school when he was throwing 85-87 mph. At 6’4″, 200lbs, he has a nice frame and has added a little velocity. I’m curious about what it looks like in games coming off a 2012 when he ran a 4.55 ERA with a 47/19 K/BB in 55.1 innings in the Appy League.
Alvarez, who is 24, is a cast-off from the Phillies system.
Lugo has been going by Jake Lugo and was a late (34th) round pick out of Centenary in 2011.
Cecchini’s double-play partner will be L.J. Mazzilli. He’s a fun story for the Mets’ ties, and I expect him to hit a little in the NYP, but as one of the oldest players in the 2013 draft, who will turn 23 in September, he’s more name than prospect for now.
Eventually, 7th round pick Matt Oberste will play first for this unit.
At the moment, the outfield is all 23- or 24-year olds waiting for the 2013 draftees to sign. In particular, 5th round Jared King (who has not signed yet) and 9th rounder Patrick Biondi who has signed (for an undisclosed bonus) will make this group much more interesting.
Tomas Nido is the name here. Last year’s eighth round pick out of high school in Florida, the Mets paid him $250,000 to sign, $113 overslot to skip a committment to Florida State. He’s a young 19. There’s some power in his swing and enough arm to catch although his receiving is raw. He hit .242/.307/.339 in the Appy League last year with a 12/23 K/BB ratio in 38 games.
After Sunday’s game, the Mets sent three players who were not performing like big leaguers to AAA and replaced them with three players unlikely ever to contribute like big leaguers. It speaks to just how poorly the Mets are playing, and the lack of immediate Major League help that the team could execute a three-for-three swap, or four-for-four if one expands the moves by two days to include the Rick Ankiel/Kirk Nieuwenhuis swap, or five-for-five to add Collin McHugh/David Aardsma and expect to see such little return on the field. It was the first time the Mets made three MLB demotions in a day since 2004.
The Mets sent 1B Ike Davis, OF Mike Baxter and LHP Robert Carson down to AAA Las Vegas. The plan is to select 1B Josh Satin (and add him to the 40-man roster) and recall LHP Josh Edgin and OF Colin Cowgill, who are already on the 40-man roster. This is action (the WSJ word, or a message says the Post), but the players coming to the big leagues will not materially move the Mets towards fielding a winning team.
Davis is the most important player of the six moving before the Mets begin a series Tuesday against St. Louis. Coming into 2013, his age 26 season he was a career .252/.336/.461 hitting over 339 Major League games with 58 homers and a 11% walk rate against 23% strikeout rate. The Mets were counting on him to be part of their core group of position players moving into a more win-filled future in 2014. Instead, Davis did not just not hit like a productive 1B, he did not hit like a Major League player in 207 PA. His wRC+ of 39 (! – where 100 is MLB average) was the second-worst among qualified Major League hitters, better than only Jeff Keppinger. Overall, he was hitting .161/.242/.258 with a 9% walk rate and an unacceptable 32% strikeout rate. Davis has been a win below replacement level one third of the way through the 2013 season.
He belongs in AAA. Recall that Davis played just 10 games in AAA at the start of the 2010 season before the Mets got sick of the Mike Jacobs experiment at first base. At the time, the move made sense for a Mets’ team that still thought it was a competitor. Once down in AAA, Davis has no excuse for not producing. He will be playing in one of baseball’s environments most conducive to offense in a market far removed from New York both geographically and metaphorically in terms of pressure.
The 28-year-old Baxter, and one of the heroes of Johan Santana’ 2012 no-hitter had not hit while working as the Mets’ fourth or perhaps fifth outfielder. In 102 PA, he hit .212/.333/.282 with five extra-base and zero homeruns. He draws walks (12% walk rate) in 2013, but that’s about all he has done as his .070 isolated slugging percentage is anemic. With respect to Baxter, Terry Collins’ has deployed him as well as he could have, playing him nearly exclusively against righties. From 2010 through 2012, Baxter hit righties capably – .275/.370/.440 with 15 doubles and four homers in 200 AB. He never hit lefties (1-for-21; a .048/.200/.095 line) for an extreme platoon split. In 2013, Baxter is 3-for-9 against lefties, but has failed against righties (.197/.326/.276 in 76 AB). There are small sample size issues here under 100 PA, but a platoon bench-hitter who doesn’t hit against the side he is supposed to menace has no big league value.
Rob Carson has just never given any indication that he can retire big league hitters. His year, he owns a 8.50 ERA, and in 18 innings has given up 19 hits, 18 runs, 17 ER, 8 (!) HR, with seven walks and seven strikeouts. Carson’s size and fastball (~93 mph in 2013) got him to the big leagues where his below average secondaries and fastball command made him a late-inning gift to opposing hitters.
So, how about that help coming back to the Mets? Expect little.
In the outfield, the Mets are recalling Cowgill, who owns a .235/.291/.308 MLB line in 268 MLB PA over the last three years. While playing in the PCL in 2011 through 2013, he has hit .307/.381/.476 in 885 PA over his age 25-27 seasons.
In the bullpen, Edgin gave up over a run an inning his big league tour early in the season. The Mets sent him back to AA where he gave up seven runs in eight innings and was scored upon in three of his five appearances. That was good enough to earn a return trip to Las Vegas where he’s allowed seven runs on 14 hits in 10.2 innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks, which is better. Yes, he’s only four outings without allowing a run: that’s a stretch of 4.2 innings with two hits, a HPB, a walk and 4 K. Break out the champagne. Edgin was a below replacement pitcher in 2012, and was significantly worse in 2013. Major small sample size caveat here, but the reason he moved from tolerable to intolerable was that he lost his slider which had a pitch value of +2.8 runs above average in 2012 to -1.6 in 2013.
The 28-year-old Satin is 5-for-26 (.192) in his brief big league looks in 2011 and 2012. Like Cowgill, he has been a productive hitter at AAA: .297/.397/.447 in 951 PA between 2011-2013, two-thirds of which was in the International League and this season in the Pacific Coast League. The notion that he is an important part of the Mets’ future at first base is laughable. Rather, he belongs, perhaps, as a right-handed bat off a bench. A collegiate second baseman, Satin has played 47 games at first for Las Vegas this year and one game in left. In the past he has played a little third, although his arm is short for the position.
Who should be playing first base? Lucas Duda. Despite a low batting average (.228) Duda, through the strength of walks (13.3%) and homers (10 in 57 games) has been an above average hitter (.336 OBP/.440 SLG and a 118 wRC+) in 2013. A star? No. A useful big league hitter? Yes. The problem is that he gives back nearly all of his offensive production with his defensive foibles in the outfield. UZR puts him an extraordinary -35 runs/150 games defensively in the outfield. If that seems too bad to be true, Total Zone puts him -19/1200 innings while BIS put him a similar -20 runs above average per 1200 innings. Lucas Duda’s defense makes him unplayable in the outfield. As long as Ike Davis is in the minors, starting Duda in the outfield is a waste of time.
Younger in the Outfield
Perhaps the fourth move that should be lumped in here is the Mets’ designating Rick Ankiel for assignment, which will likely foreshadow his release. Ankiel hit an entirely predictable and putrid .182/.239/.364 in 20 games for the Mets. His departure opens the way for Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ return and more playing time for Juan Lagares and Jordany Valdespin. Over his last 26 games in AAA, Nieuwenhuis hit .250/.353/.550 with 9 homers and 26 strikeouts. The strikeouts will always be a problem for him in the big leagues, but at 25 years old, it makes a lot more sense to run him out there in centerfield instead of Ankiel.
Older in the Staff
Going all the way back to Saturday, the Mets sent Collin McHugh, who just turned 26, back to AAA and replaced him with 31-year-old David Aardsman. This pains me because I really like McHugh who is funny and insightful, but he just was not pitching well enough to stay in the big leagues (7 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K). Aardsma has thrown one Major League inning in the last two years, but hey, in 2009 and 2010 he was a capable, if unspectacular reliever for the Mariners. For his career, he owns a 105+ ERA+. Perhaps he can be a non-flammable middle reliever.
Fans want to see 21-year-old Wilmer Flores. After a slow opening week for AAA Las Vegas, he’s been very productive. In his last 50 games, he has hit .318/.356/.512 with 27 extra-base hits (20 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR), 10 walks, and 26 strikeouts. He’s played 47 games at second, two at first and one at third. He is just not an option at first base for the Mets until he plays more first in the minors. However, his value will be much, much higher if he can play second where his bat profiles better.
And for now, the Mets do not need a second baseman. Daniel Murphy is fourth overall in baseball in WAR (1.9) for 2B, part of a pack that includes Marco Scutaro (1.9), Murphy, Brandon Philips, Howie Kendrick and Jedd Gyorko (1.8 each) and Robinson Cano (1.6). Defensive metrics are imprecise over partial seasons and some of Murphy’s value comes from his +5.3 UZR, which is better than all of his peers listed above. I don’t think there’s any executive in the game who would take Murphy over Cano or Philips. So let’s revise and instead of labeling Murphy a Top 5 second baseman, call him Top 10.
Can Flores play second? Even Las Vegas manager Wally Backman is not sure. As he told MiLB.com:
“The thing is, he turns the double play well, he has good hands,” he said. “His range is a little limited, but we’re working on trying to increase it as much as possible. The more he plays second base, the better he’ll become. Position will be a big factor for him.”
The Mets seem committed to getting Flores repetitions at second now. What’s that means for Murphy? Nothing yet. One of
two three scenarios is likely for Murphy and the Mets: either 1. the team trades Murphy and rolls with Flores at second, or 2. gives up on the Flores at second base idea and moves him to first, 3. moves Murphy to first to make room for Flores (and Ike Davis and Lucas Duda disappear). Three is unlikely to happen, and Murphy’s offense – no seasons above a .450 slugging percentage in which he’s played 50 games, just is not worth much at first. Still, Flores is hardly a finished product – he either needs to improve defensively at second or develop more power to play first. Either is possible, but there’s no urgency here.
Where does this leave the Mets? Still 23-35 with the second-worst record in the National League. Swapping out Ankiel for Nieuwenhuis is a net positive and opened a spot on the team’s 40-man roster. Putting Ike Davis in AAA where he has a chance to fix himself is appropriate. Adding David Aardsma over Collin McHugh is a small net gain for the bullpen, but Aardsma himself has little chance of contributing to the Mets’ next winning team. In this sense, the move carries little significance.
Everything else that has happened roster-wise in the last two days is just churn. The moves all are justifiable, reasonable and well-intentioned, and even you know, right. And yet, they will not make the Mets materially better. That’s a weird and sorry commentary.
Sure, there’s a Mets’ angle to the Biogenesis stuff through Cesar Puello, but beyond that, I think this is a fascinating story. I’m not sure why I think it’s so interesting but perhaps because it is 1. like baseball itself still unpredictable and 2. because its complexity defies simple explanations and moralizing.
I promise not to do this everyday, but here were the best things I read about the unfolding drama in the last 24 hours.
- At HardballTalk, Craig Calceterra breaks the news that Major League Baseball has not decided on whether they would actually suspend specific players writing, a “source familiar with the Biogenesis investigation tells HardballTalk that Major League Baseball plans to interview all of the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal by the end of June…. However, it undercuts the inference many have made since that report came out that Major League Baseball has already decided to discipline the players implicated in the Biogenesis scandal or that it has already decided to impose any specific penalties, be they 50 or 100 game suspensions.”
- The Daily News reports that Alex Rodriguez declined to pay off Tony Bosch, on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in exchange for his silence.
The Changing Reaction to the Story
Over the course of the Tuesday night through Wednesday evening the tone of much of the coverage around the Biogenesis changed tone from something like, “MLB has Tony Bosch’s cooperation, and now they will suspend a whole bunch of players” to “hold on a second, Bosch’s word is not enough; this is the beginning of a long process and potentially a longer fight.”
Tuesday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reignited the Biogenesis story.
Thanks to the cooperation of disgraced not-doctor Tony Bosch, “Major League Baseball will seek to suspend about 20 players connected to the Miami-area clinic at the heart of an ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, possibly within the next few weeks, “Outside the Lines” has learned.”
The Mets’ Cesar Puello, who is currently in AA, and hitting well, is the only player who MLB hopes to discipline, who is not on a Major League roster. However, Puello is on the Mets’ 40-man roster, which means he is covered under the Joint Drug Agreement, a protection not afforded non-40-man minor leaguers.
First and foremost the information about potential suspensions coming out this way strikes me as a cry for attention. No suspensions have been announced. No player has failed a drug test, nor does MLB have the full weight of evidence it would need to suspend a player without a positive test. If MLB had the evidence it needed for a suspension, it would have announced suspensions. If they felt that they would have had enough evidence to maintain suspensions in front of an arbitrator with Bosch’s evidence, they would have tried to keep his turn private. Instead, this feels like the first salvo in a very public, and surely very ugly, public negotiation.
Second, despite a cry in some internet circles last night, Major League Baseball is not changing the rules of the game. The sport’s Joint Drug Agreement (full text) is very clear, a player need not test positive to be subject to discipline. The relevant text from section 7, paragraph A:
A Player who tests positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance, or otherwise violates the Program through the use or possession of a Performance Enhancing Substance, will be subject to the discipline set forth below.
Emphasis added. In order to suspend anyone, MLB will have to establish use or possession. Proving possession is a high burden. MLB has to have a clean custody chain all the way to the player.
It seems almost inevitable at this point. After going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Friday, Ike Davis is hitting .143/.230/.238 with four homers and 53 strikeouts, or whiffs in 32% of his plate appearances. He’s 1-for-his-last-42. Among all qualified hitters in Fangraphs rate-stat wRC+ plus, Ike Davis has been the third-worst player in baseball with enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title, ahead of only Jeff Keppinger and Danny Espinosa. He is not hitting like a major league first baseman or even a major leaguer of any stripe.
TC Comes Around
- It sounded like manager Terry Collins is now very open to the idea of sending Davis down to the minors. When asked how long the Mets could keep Davis in the big leagues, Collins responded, “I’m not sure… Some of the decision has to be what’s best for Ike Davis, because you’ve got to still look in the long term. And this guy is too big a piece of our offensive puzzle to continue to struggle like he’s struggling, because we need him….”
…But Do Not Expect a Miracle
- At the Wall Street Journal, Michael Salfino points out that if the Mets demote Davis, it will be a “history-making move: No team since at least 1993 has demoted a player to the minors the year after a 30-home run season.” Salfino expands the sample run through the grim history of guys who have been send down to the minors after a 20-home run season to find that Carlos Pena is the best recent bounce-back example. That should be very scary to the Mets.
-Ike’s Stance adjustment.
Ike in ’10-’11
It’s easy to pay too much attention to batting stances. They’re very visible because the batter is essentially waiting on the pitcher. The important thing about a stance is that 1. a batter is comfortable, 2. it’s repeatable and 3. most importantly, the batter gets himself into a good hitting position on time when the ball is ~30 feet from home plate.
Meanwhile, A Replacement Emerges?
Friday, in AAA, Wilmer Flores played his second game of the year at first base after 36 games at second and one at third. This is not a coincidence. The 21-year old Flores is hitting .270/.321/.437 in Vegas with 19 extra-base hits (9.7%), 14 (7.2%) walks and 21 strikeouts (10.8%) in 45 games. Those are not numbers that scream call up now. Still, getting Flores repetitions at first now seems extremely prudent. If his bat becomes ready this year, it looks like the Mets might need help at first. Davis had trouble against lefties, even when he was productive overall. In 414 PA for his career, he’s a .209/.271/.347 hitter vs. LHP. Even if Davis can fix himself, he really should have a platoon partner.
For what it’s worth, Flores has hit lefties well, and especially so in the high minors. This year, he’s bashing south-paws at a .344/.389/.609 rate in 72 PA vs. LHP in AAA with 10 XBH, six walks and five strikeouts. Against lefties in AA last year, he hit .324/.383/.541 in 82 PA.
What else does Kevin Plawecki have to prove in the South Atlantic League? According to the Mets, nothing, really.
Coming off a relatively undistinguished .250/.345/.384 performance with 15 extra-base hits and 25 walks against 24 strikeouts in 61 games in Brooklyn, the Mets chose to start their 2012 supplemental first round pick in the South Atlantic League. The 22-year-old has responded by performing as one of the league’s best hitters through the first third of the season.
The 22-year old is hitting .361/.441/.595 with 20 doubles, a triple, five homers and 16 walks against 20 strikeouts in 186 PA over 43 games and has reached base in each of his last 33 contests. That’s an 8.6% walk rate, a 10.7% strikeout rate and a 14% extra-base hit rate. He’s leading the SAL in average, on-base percentage and doubles, and is tied for the lead in extra-base hits while sitting fourth in slugging. He’s tied for second in Fangraphs wRC+ at 184 where 100 is league average.
Earlier this week, Mets Special Assistant to the General Manager, J.P. Ricciardi saw the Sand Gnats in Savannah. He made clear that he thinks Plawecki is ready for advanced-A when I asked what else Plawecki had to prove in the SAL:
I don’t think there’s much more we have to see. I think it’s only a matter of time. He’s done everything he could do here. What I’m really impressed with, he’s done a real good job behind the plate, as good as he’s been offensively. I think it’s only a matter of time before he says goodbye to Savannah. This was a good place for him to start; It was a good experience for him.
The numbers make Plawecki’s offensive prowess clear, but his defense is coming along as well. “Last night, I thought he did a really good job setting up some hitters,” Ricciardi said. “He’s getting better behind the plate and I think a lot of it is just getting assimilated with some of the pitchers he’s working with.”
A scout who has watched Plawecki in the last week praised his quick release and solid receiving skills. There’s really nothing in his own game holding Plawecki back.
This week, Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta told MLB.com, “We think he’s ready to move both offensively and defensively,” DePodesta said. “When the opportunity presents itself, we will move.”
The only other considerations are for the Gnats and the rest of the system. Savannah is currently 1.5 games behind Charleston for first place in the Southern Division. Removing Plawecki’s bat would make the Gnats’ odds of winning the division significantly longer.
And as for the other issue, DePodesta again to MLB.com: ”If you have someone at a level in front of them that deserves to be playing, it’s difficult to move him up there,” DePodesta said. “It ends up being more about what opportunities are available and them being ready for challenge.”
The guy DePodesta refers to, in front of Plawecki, although not by name, is 22-year-old Cam Maron in advanced-A. Maron earned the advanced-A job this year by hitting .300/.403/.408 in 93 games with the Gnats in 2012. In advanced-A this year, the 34th round draft pick in ’09 has slipped hard, all the way back to .210/.280/.301.
It is noble that the Mets wanted to give Cam Maron his shot in advanced-A. However, the team invested seven figures in Plawecki. He has lived up to his end of the deal in the South Atlantic League. If the goal is to give the Gnats a chance to win a first half time, that’s fine. In a week or two, it will become clear if the Gnats’ can keep pace with Charleston who has a little bit easier schedule down the stretch. However, lets not pretend that playing time for Maron is blocking Plawecki. It is time to prioritize the development of the more talented player – Plawecki.
Ankiel was dreadful with Houston this year, hitting .194/.231/.484 with 35 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances before he was released last Thursday. Oh, small sample size you say? Sure, but no. His 90 OPS+ is actually higher than his full season total in 2011 or 2012.
Since the start of the 2009 season, covering his age 29-33 seasons, Ankiel has “hit” .232/.292/.388 with strikeouts in 28% of his plate appearances. Remarkably, that’s worse than the Mets’ cumulative 2013 outfield production of .223/.302/.392.
The last time Ankiel was an above average MLB hitter: 2008 when he hit .264/.337/.506 with 25 homers in 120 games for the Cardinals.
Ankiel can play the outfield a little bit, but a cumulative reading of the advanced metrics suggest he is below average. Total Zone puts him a few runs above average per 150 games for his career. That result seems driven by an improbable +14 overall and +21/150 games for Washington in centerfield in 2011. UZR has him -7.8 for his career and -2.7/150. Defensive runs saved has him -6 for his career in centerfield and -2/150 games.
Ankiel becomes the fourth left-handed hitting outfielder on the Mets, joining Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, and Jordany Valdespin.
Adding Ankiel will take playing time away from left-handed hitting outfield options like Baxter, Valdespin and even Kirk Nieuwenhuis if he ever makes it back to Queens. This is bad. The idea should be to play the younger to see if they can you know, play.
So, why did the Mets just sign Rick Ankiel?
Andy Martino has a fun piece for his Baseball Insider Blog at the Daily News about Zack Wheeler in which different Mets officials say slightly different thing about Zack Wheeler.
Unidentified person 1 on Wheeler and his last two excellent starts:
“Oh, the timetable has accelerated a lot,” said one club official. “He’s had two good ones, and if he has two more, you’ll see him up here. If all goes well we’re talking about June 1 at the latest.”
And number 2:
A separate high-ranking team source characterized June 1 as “a little aggressive. We’re still taking it start-to-start.”
Martino’s sources downplayed the importance of Wheeler’s Super-Two status relative to the pitcher’s overall readiness.
Wheeler has been great in his last two starts: 12.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 12 K, 0.71 ERA. However, in his first five starts, he owned a 5.70 ERA and opponents were hitting a robust .283/.385/.500 against him with 15 walks in 23.2 innings. That’s a pretty sharp divide.
If he throws like he did in April – that is struggling with his command – in his next few starts, he won’t be in the big leagues on June 1. If he shoves it, and hits his spots, he will be. This is not that hard. The minor leagues are for a guy like Zack Wheeler, learning. Yes, he will learn at the big league level, but he should be as prepared as possible when he gets there.
Even Wheeler’s own boosters, like Las Vegas manager Wally Backman want to see him make at least a few more AAA starts. “Personally, I think if he has a couple of more starts like his last start he’ll be headed to the big leagues, and rightfully so…”
Wheeler has talked about the mechanical adjustments he made which has helped his location. The 2013 Mets are not going to the playoffs. If Wheeler has a few more dominating starts, he will be in the big leagues. And soon Mets fans will have another reason to watch on days when Matt Harvey is not throwing.