Duda and his Wrist and his Other Wrist

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.

What Happened to Lucas Duda Playing First?

The Plan:

Lucas Duda will play both first base and left field while in the minor leagues.

The Reality:

The 26-year old Duda has played in 22 games with the Bisons since his demotion in late July and has played 22 games in the outfield and two at firstbase.  He played his first four games in rightfield, and since has played 16 games in left while hitting .262/.323/.405. Tuesday, for example, Zach Lutz played first for the Bisons.

The Weekend in Buffalo: Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Lucas Duda

Lets play catch-up on important happenings affiliate by affiliate as the minor league season enters its home stretch.

Saturday: Scranton W/B Yankees 5, @ Buffalo Bisons 1
Sunday: @ Buffalo Bisons 9, Pawtucket Red Sox 3 

The Bisons rolled out two good arms, Zack Wheeler Saturday and Jenrry Mejia Sunday and won once.

Wheeler’s line in his second AAA start: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. He issued two of the walks in his sixth inning. Perhaps he was fatigued, or had trouble gripping the baseball in a sideways rainstorm. On the whole, he again showed off his explosive fastball. It was 96 mph early, and then 93-96 throughout the game according to the velocity calls of the Bisons’ broadcast. Both his curve and slider were sharp and produced swings and misses. I don’t recall many changeups, I remember he threw one that missed down.

In 10.2 innings in AAA with the Bisons, Wheeler has given up five hits but walked 7 while striking out 11. Triple-A hitters, like double-A hitters are having trouble squaring up his stuff. It’s that good. The issue simply is that he still has trouble controlling his weapons.

While I watched almost all of Wheeler’s start on Sunday, I never could get the stream to work on Sunday for Jenrry Mejia’s start. His line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Consider that in six starts with the Bisons this year, three in his initial rehab from Tommy John surgery and three since a failed move to the bullpen, he has a 0.95 ERA (3 ER/28.1 IP) with a .206 opponents’ batting average while in 16 outing out of the bullpen he’s run a 5.48 ERA (13 ER/21.1 IP) on a .303 opponents’ batting average. That makes it look like he’s been clearly better as a starter. And he has. But those numbers overstate the case. Add his unearned runs back into the calculation and his ERA as a starter rises to 3.18 R/9 (10 R/28.1 IP) compared to a R/9 as a reliever of 6.34 R/9 (15 R/21.1 IP). His K/BB ratio was 10/9 out of the bullpen and is 14/9 as a starter – put simply not great in either role.

The WFAN broadcast on Sunday evening discussed the idea that the Mets would bring Mejia and Familia up as relievers when rosters expand in September. Given the control problems each as experience in AAA, they might not offer much more than new bodies.

Lucas Duda missed three games with root canal surgery and subsequent complications, but returned with a vengeance on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles. He’s hit .367/.441/.667 with three doubles and two homers and four walks against six strikeouts in his eight games in August. Sure looks like he’s getting comfortable again.

 

Surprise: Lucas Duda Optioned.

The Mets optioned 26-year old “RF” Lucas Duda to AAA Buffalo today.

Duda was hitting a disappointing .241/.335/.391 in 355 plate appearances over 89 games this year. That’s basically about league average production: by  OPS+ he was at 101, while by wRC he was at 103, where 100 is league average in both cases. A year ago, he hit .292/.370/.482. This year however, is isolated slugging dropped from .190 to .150, his BABIP slipped from .326 to .304 and most damning, his strikeout rate jumped from 16% to 26.5%. So, he hit for less power, and made less contact.

The problem is that he was giving away runs defensively. Lots of them. By UZR he was -17.6 runs below average, by Defensive runs saved he was -16 and by bRef Fielding Runs he was -16. Using partial-season fielding stats is usually an awful idea because the samples are so small. Three-season averages are far preferable to one-year rates. However in this case, there is a remarkable degree of agreement: Duda was a terrible rightfielder.

At 26, Duda should be peaking as a baseball player. Instead, he’s moving in the wrong direction.

In related news, earlier his summer, former Mets VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard singled Duda out as a player whose progress made him feel good. From David Lennon in Newsday, Bernazard, “is especially impressed by Lucas Duda, a player he said was moved from first base to the outfield at his urging.”

Wednesday Links

In the Buffalo News, Jerry Sulivan writes a fawning profile of Wally Backman.

The Futurists Blog takes a look at Lucas Duda’s career arc from his under-performance at U$C through his minor league power development and his current work in the outfield.

Mid-Season Top 41 Review Part 7: 6-10

Ok, now that we’re past the trade deadline, it’s time to finish my midseason review of my pre-season Top 41 Mets prospects.  This will be the second-to-last installment.  Ideally, players 1-5 will run Tuesday.  Then Wednesday, we’ll take a look at the guys who at this point have likely hopped into the Top 41.

Part 6 on players ranked 11-15 is here.  Part 5 on players ranked 16-20 is here.  Part 4 on players ranked 21-25 is here.  Part 3 on players ranked 26-30 is here.  Part 2 on players originally ranked 31-36 is here. Part 1 on players originally ranked 36-41 is here.   Each player’s name links back to his original scouting report from before the 2011 season.

 

#6 – 2B Reese Havens
What I thought: Havens could be a future All-Star at second base for his power and patience.
Reality: He’s missed a lot of time again.  The 24-year old started the season a month and a half late, as he recovered from off-season surgery to shave down a rib, and then he missed nearly another month with a lower back strain which the Mets claim was unrelated.  It’s hard to judge Havens’ on-field performance separately from the time he’s missed.  Is he striking out in 28% of his AA plate appearances because his back was hurting, or because that’s now the player he is?  Same question about the drop in his extra-base hit rate?

For a while, it looked like Havens was the Mets best option to play second base in a post-Luis Castillo world.  Well, the team now has a glut of options over various time horizons including Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada and Havens’ own double-play partner, Jordany Valdepsin who Havens will have to compete against if he can ever stay healthy.
Stock:  Down
Basic

G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2010 FSL 14 57 16 2 1 3 8 18 .281 .369 .509
2010 EL 18 68 23 2 1 6 6 15 .338 .400 .662
Total 32 125 39 4 2 9 14 33 .312 .386 .592
2011 AA 31 117 30 6 1 2 13 37 .256 .333 .376

Advanced

XBH% SO% BB% HR% BABIP
2010 FSL 9.2 27.7 12.3 4.6 .361
2010 EL 12.0 20.0 8.0 8.0 .362
Total 10.7 23.6 10.0 6.4 .361
2011 AA 6.8 28.0 9.8 1.5 .354

 


#7 – RF Fernando Martinez
What I thought: I dropped Martinez from #2 to #7 because that seemed right.
Reality: Guess what?  He’s missed significant time to injury.  He’s walking a touch more than he did a year ago, but is hitting for less power in AAA and has been diagnosed with arthritis.  He’s stopped running completely (0 SB/0 Attempts) so it’s all about the bat at this point.
Stock: Down.
Basic

G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2010 AAA 71 257 65 16 0 12 17 65 .253 .317 .455
2010 MLB 7 18 3 0 0 0 1 5 .167 .200 .167
2011 AAA 53 185 47 6 0 7 15 51 .254 .327 .400

Advanced

XBH% SO% BB% HR% BABIP
2010 AAA 9.8 22.6 5.9 4.2 .291
2010 MLB 0.0 25.0 5.0 0.0 .214
2011 AAA 6.2 24.4 7.2 3.3 .310

 

 


#8 – 3B Aderlin Rodriguez
What I thought: The powerful Rodriguez was the highest-ceiling bat in the low minors for the Mets.
Reality: Rodriguez has shown power, but raised questions about other areas of his game.  The 13 homers are nothing to scoff at from a 19-year old in a huge ballpark as they’re the second-most by a Gnat, trailing only Sean Ratliff’s 15 dingers in 2009 since 2006.  Still Rodriguez has not made other adjustments and pops too many balls up.  In this respect a .252 BABIP is a product of 1. Bad luck, 2. A spacious ballpark, and 3. Too many pop-ups.

At third, Rodriguez’s agility and arms have been a pleasant surprises.  However, his hands might force him off the position.

Stock: Down, but not by as much as you might think.  He’s still hitting for power.

Basic

G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2010 APP 61 250 78 22 0 13 15 43 .312 .352 .556
2010 SAL 8 30 6 1 0 1 6 10 .200 .333 .333
2010 Total 69 280 84 23 0 14 21 53 .300 .350 .532
2011 SAL 101 394 88 18 1 13 28 86 .223 .278 .373

Advanced

XBH% SO% BB% HR% BABIP
2010 APP 13.1 16.1 5.6 4.9 .333
2010 SAL 5.1 25.6 15.4 2.6 .238
2010 Total 12.1 17.3 6.9 4.6 .324
2011 SAL 7.4 20.0 6.5 3.0 .252

 

 


#9 – OF Lucas Duda
What I thought: Duda would have a chance to prove that his AAA slugging would play in the big leagues.
Reality: Carlos Beltran was better and healthier than I certainly thought was likely, but now Duda has a few months to play himself into a big league role.  By wOBA, which assigns value-per plate appearance, Duda has already been the 7th most valuable Mets hitter, and the fourth-best under contract for 2012 once Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Scott Hairston have been removed.
Stock: Up.  Graduated.  He’s a big leaguer now!
Basic

G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG
2010 AA 45 161 46 17 0 6 29 27 .286 .411 .503
2010 AAA 70 264 83 23 2 17 31 57 .314 .389 .610
2010 MLB 29 84 17 6 0 4 6 22 .202 .261 .417
2010 Total 144 509 146 46 2 27 66 106 .287 .376 .544
2011 AAA 38 129 39 8 0 10 23 27 .302 .414 .597
2011 MLB 52 134 36 11 3 2 15 21 .269 .340 .440

Advanced

XBH% SO% BB% HR% BABIP
2010 AA 11.7 13.7 14.7 3.0 .310
2010 AAA 14.1 19.1 10.4 5.7 .346
2010 MLB 10.9 23.9 6.5 4.3 .220
2010 Total 12.8 18.1 11.2 4.6 .314
2011 AAA 11.5 17.2 14.6 6.4 .309
2011 MLB 10.5 13.7 9.8 1.3 .298

 


#10 – RHP Jeurys Familia
What I thought: I liked that Familia was a big guy who threw hard and had a good August in 2010.
Reality: The 21-year old Familia improved his delivery, and improved his fastball command and slider and graduated from the Florida State League in May after dominating the League through six starts.  Scouts were impressed, but all ranked him behind Matt Harvey.  In AA, despite striking out well over a batter an inning, his walk rate has climbed back up to dangerous territory 4 BB/9 IP, and he’s been susceptible to the home run ball, indicating trouble locating in the zone.
Stock: Up.

Basic

ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
10 A+ 5.58 24/24 121 117 87 75 7 74 137
11 A+ 1.49 6/6 36.33 21 7 6 1 8 36
11 AA 3.38 10/10 56 51 27 21 7 25 64

Advanced

BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB HR/9 H/9
10 A+ 5.5 10.2 1.9 0.5 8.7
11 A+ 2.0 8.9 4.5 0.2 5.2
11 AA 4.0 10.3 2.6 1.1 8.2

Buffalo cruises to a 15-2 victory; Nieuwenhuis injured

@ Buffalo Bisons 15, Indinapolis Indians 2

The good: Luis Hernandez- 2-5, 2B, HR (2), 5 RBI (Grand slam), Val Pascucci- 1-3, HR (6), 3RBI, Lucas Duda- 1-3, HR (10), 2RBI, Fernando Martinez- 2-4, 2RBI.  Pat Misch- 7 IP, 8 hits, 1er, 2bb, 2k.

Speaking of Duda, with the news that Nick Evans was DFA’d, Duda looks like he is the likely candidate to be called up.

The Bad: Kirk Nieuwenhuis left the game with a left shoulder injury after striking out swinging in the bottom of the third inning. Nieuwenhuis took an awkward swing and nearly went to a knee in obvious pain. Nieuwenhuis had missed 10 games earlier this season with a right shoulder injury after making a diving catch.

Duda and Carrasco Make Case in Bisons’ Loss

Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 1, @ Buffalo Bisons 0

Lucas Duda’s assault on International League pitching continued with a 2-for-4 night with a pair of doubles.  Numbers time again: in his last 13 games he’s hitting .419/.509/.930 with four doubles, six homers, seven walks and 10 strikeouts in 43 AB.  In related news, Jason Bay is 0-for-20 in June and hitting .207/.307/.279 in 140 AB this year.  It should be Duda time.

DJ Carrasco was terrific: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K.  After fighting his way through May, Carrasco looks like he’s figured it out in a big way in his last two starts: 15.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 15 K.

Couple points here:

1. Obviously, the Mets bullpen, which has an ERA of roughly 1200 in the last week, needs all the help it can get.
2. Carrasco wasn’t great (4.67 ERA, 20 K/12 BB in 27 IP) in May in Buffalo, so he might benefit from a few more starts to consolidate his gains.
3. It could well be valuable to the Mets to have Carrasco stretched out to start if they need help in the rotation because the other candidates, well, there aren’t many other good candidates.

Points 2 and 3 argue for having Carrasco make at least a few more starts in AAA while #1 says the reverse.

Fernando Martinez (.277/.333/.446 – 31 G) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.296/.402/.505) were both hitless.

Lucas Duda, Who Went Deep Again, Is Officially Bonkers

Indianapolis Indians 13, @ Buffalo Bison 4

 

Lucas Duda’s bonkers run continues: he was 2-4 with a three-run homer.  It was his sixth home run in his last 12 games.  Since his return from his back strain, in his last 12 games, Duda is hitting .410/.510/.923 with two doubles and six homers with seven walks and nine strikeouts in 39 AB.  Sure, that’s a .417 BABIP, but he’s just killing the ball.

Ouch, Josh Stinson: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR.  In two starts vs. Indianapolis this year, Stinson has given up 16 runs and 17 hits in six innings for a 22.50 ERA.  As Mike Harrington pointed out, he’s at 4.09 vs. the rest of the league.

Fernando Martinez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both took 0-fors.

Buffalo Notes from the Weekend

I’m not going to go through every game from Memorial Day weekend, when I had my mom in town and got myself really sick with a bad cold.  Instead we’ll go through some storylines that I care about for each affiliate.  Buffalo first.

Mark Cohoon’s AAA Debut
Monday: W, 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.  Cohoon allowed a three-run homer in the fourth to account for most of the damage.  He did not work a single 1-2-3 inning.

Cohoon picked up that lovely W thanks to a 17-hit day from the Bisons offense, including a two-double performance by RF Fernando Martinez (.296/.363/.493).

 

Duda’s Back!
The big guy is 5-for-10 with two home runs, four runs scored, three RBI and two walks against three strikeouts in his return from his 20-day DL stint thanks to a lower back strain.
Duda is currently hitting .269/.389/.473 in 28 games in Buffalo this year.  If he gets going and returns to his 2010 form, could he fit on the Mets roster?  The answer here is yes.

With Angel Pagan’s return and two other backup CF on the roster, Jason Pridie’s days be numbered?  Pridie is hitting just .239/.320/.413 overall, and is a complete liability against lefties (2-for-15 in the big leagues this year, .220/.238/.244 in 41 AB in Buffalo last year and .247/.285/.364 in 154 AB in his last full minor league season with Rochester in 2009).  Duda surely isn’t the defender that Pridie is, but well, he can hit.

Also, Jason Bay is hitting .241/.328/.328.  Yes, there are something like $47 million reasons to keep playing him (the prorated portion of his contract), but when is enough enough?

Also, when did left fielders stop hitting?  Seriously.  MLB left fielders have combined to hit .249/.317/.396 this year.  And remarkably, Mets left fielders have combined to fall short of that mark at .226/.317/.326.

 

Still no Nieuwenhuis
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is still day-to-day with a shoulder injury he sustained making this diving catch.  He hasn’t played since Tuesday.

Overall
The Bisons have won four games in a row and now have a AAA-caliber lineup again with recent imports including Jason Botts, Bubba Bell, Luis Figueroa and Valentino Pascucci in addition to the returns of Martinez and Duda.