The Mets 2011 Rotation – Part 3

15 01 2011

Time to continue the analysis of the Mets 2011 rotation with a discussion on one of my personal favorites: RA Dickey.

Dickey’s story is a good one. He came up as a conventional pitcher with the Rangers in 2001 (remember this!). With mediocre numbers, he converted completely to knuckle balling in 2005. He bounced around between the Brewers, Mariners, and Twins, until finally he landed with the Mets when he signed a $600K minor league deal with the potential for $150K in incentives.

R.A. Dickey, The Ranger first round pick

RA Dickey a conventional pitcher? Believe it or not he was at one point. He was on the 1996 US Olympic team that won bronze, and was subsequently drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers. He was close to signing when a Rangers doctor noticed something awkward about his arm in a picture of the US Olympic team. Closer observation revealed the Dickey DID NOT HAVE an Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his elbow. That’s right folks, Dickey was born without the ligament that is replaced in Tommy John surgery. This knowledge really derailed Dickey’s career as a fireballer. Afraid to injure his arm, he didn’t throw hard and developed a weird pitch the Rangers called ‘The Thing’. He didn’t tell them it was a Knuckle Ball. With no success with his reduced velocity conventional pitches, he converted to knuckle-balling full time.

Well, now that I’ve rambled about his story enough, let us take a look at his stats. Dickey pitched to a 2.84 ERA in 2010. That number is superb, elite even, but it’s also near impossible to maintain. His regression may not be too extreme though, as his FIP sits at 3.65 and his xFIP at 3.88. Granted, that’s a full run worse, but the Mets defense shouldn’t be too much worse in 2010 aside from 2B (assuming Murph starts, but that’s another post). His K/9 is a mediocre 5.39, but that’s to be expected from a knuckle-baller.  Also to be expected is a high BB/9 and a lot of wild pitches, but Dickey doesn’t have that. His BB/9 is an excellent 2.17, and he has only 11 wild pitches and 4 hit batters in 174.1 innings.

Dickey should be an above average starter next season.

To really analyze Dickey, I think we have to go beyond the stats. Dickey has never pitched this many innings exclusively as a starter (aside from one relief appearance). Between the Majors and Minors, Dickey threw over 230 innings in 2010. Because of this, it’s hard to compare his BABIP and other stats to his career norms, and some level of personal intuition has to come into play. Bill James at FanGraphs has him regressing all the way to a 4.44 ERA. I personally, don’t agree with that projection. But I’m also not foolish enough to believe he’ll maintain his 2.84 ERA. My guess is that Dickey’s ERA will be in the mid to low 3’s with similar K and BB rates. I think that Dickey has really broken out, and that he can be a consistently decent starter.

Next up, the overpaid and oft injured Johan Santana.

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The Mets 2011 Rotation – Part 2

8 11 2010

Posted by Diehardmets

Even with many up and down months over the course of the year, Mike Pelfrey prooved to have a solid overall year in 2010

Time for the second installment in my analysis of the Mets 2011 rotation. Today’s topic: Mike Pelfrey.

Mike Pelfrey was the 9th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He made his major league on July 8th, 2006, making a couple of decent starts before being sent back down to Triple-A.  A strong spring training in 2007 earned him a spot in the starting rotation, but after pitching quite miserably, he was sent back down. He started occasionally for the rest of the season and permanently joined the Mets rotation in 2008.

Pelfrey is a mixed bag. He’s just about always healthy, ignoring the dead arm period he experienced that most pitchers go through at some point in the season. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, evidenced by his strong start to the 2010 season (0.69 ERA in April) and a great August (1.82). For the first month of the 2010 season, he was the staff ace and had one of the lowest ERAs in the league. However, he can be absolutely horrendous at times, shown by his 10.02 ERA in July. I can tell you he’s been frustratingly and consistently inconsistent throughout his career. He does not strike a lot of people out, as his 5.0 K/9 shows, and his control can be a bit shaky (3.0 BB/9). His home/road splits are also a little scary. His home ERA is a whole 2.12 points lower at home then on the road.

Pelfrey finished 2010 with a 107 ERA+. That’s not his best full season mark, which is the 113 he achieved in 2008. But in 2008, he never had the stretches of pure dominance he showed last year. You can also probably blame his miserable July on his dead arm. Even with a month of an ERA of 10.00 his ERA for the year was a solid 3.66. His career best ERA is likely sustainable, as his BABIP, WHIP, and K/BB were all in line with his career norms.

Salary is also going to start becoming an issue for Pelfrey. 2011 is his first arbitration eligible season. With the beloved Scott Boras (feel the sarcasm) as his agent, Pelfrey will start getting expensive, and a long term extension is unlikely. As long as he remains healthy, he should be able to sustain his 2010 production, and perhaps even improve on it. He is 27, which seems to be a magic number for true breakout seasons in the MLB. The Mets will need him to step up to the plate (actually the pitching rubber) and perform like a front line starter if they are to have any hope of at least a respectable record next season.

Up next: the knuckle-balling phenom and fan favorite RA Dickey.





The Mets 2011 Starting Rotation – Part 1

30 10 2010

Posted by Diehardmets

The Mets 2010 season was largely a disappointment. Then again, a reasonable Mets fan wouldn’t have expected much from our team. Our pitching staff was flimsy, and our offense wasn’t good enough to make up for it. We were pleasantly surprised by our pitching staff, namely R. A. Dickey,

Jon Niese had a breakout year for the Mets in 2010

who helped bring the Mets to the 5th best ERA in the NL, as we were equally disappointed by the production of Bay and our offense as a whole.

Rather than focus on the negative, I want to analyze the best part of our 2010 team: our starters. For most of the season, our rotation was comprised of Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, R. A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and a series of junk pitchers. I will look at each starter in turn, but I’ll start with the one I find most intriguing: Jon Niese.

A 7th Round pick in 2005, the 24 year old Niese (23 during the season) had a breakout season in 2010. Though he struggled down the stretch quite a bit, likely due to fatigue, he still amassed a 9-10 record to go with a 4.20 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 7.67 K/9. His HR/9 was a bit high at 1.09, as was his LOB% at 70.6. Nothing eye boggling, but still very good overall numbers for a 23 year old pitching more innings then he ever had in a single season. His stats were dragged down in May by a nagging injury to his hamstring suffered last season on a play covering first, and then fatigue at the end of the season. Most Mets fans will remember his string of dominance midseason where his ERA was below 3 and his K/9 at around 8 for a good month and a half. Even with his poor start and finish, he managed a 1.9 WAR in 173.2 innings.

Projections to next year say Niese should be even better. Though his LOB% will likely regress leading to a higher ERA, other stats suggests the opposite will happen. Niese’s xFIP sits at 3.94, 26 points below his ERA of 4.20.  His BABIP of .335 is also much higher than the league average, though that is close to his career norms. He doesn’t walk many, with a 3.29 BB/9 and a great 2.33 K/BB. In 2011, he’ll also be better prepared to deal with the fatigue suffered from pitching an entire season, as well as having a completely healthy hamstring. He should be able to manage an ERA around 3.6

RA Dickey meant alot to the Mets rotation in 2010

with his usual 7.5 K/9.

The low key talent the Mets snagged on the cheap will be a key facet in the Mets starting rotation in 2011. As long as he keeps his walk rate low and the ball in the park (not incredibly hard to do at Citi), his fastball, cutter, and wicked curve will provide a great third starter for the hopeful 2011 Mets.

Up Next….Mike Pelfrey.





The Mets 2011 Outfield

5 09 2010

Posted By DieHardMets

Going into the 2010 season, the Mets offense seemed like it’d be solid at least. Wright and Reyes were firmly entrenched on the left side of the infield. There outfield looked solid with Bay, Beltran, and Frenchy. The biggest hole seemed to be 2B, where Castillo and his ridiculous contract were firmly entrenched.

It was their pathetic pitching staff that was supposed to be their big weakness, Well, three quarters of the way thought the season, the Mets are in fourth place in their division. And guess what? Their pitching is great! Santana isn’t his usual self, but he’s been good. Pelfrey has bounced back and Niese has had a breakout season. And, of course, Dickey has been incredible.

Knuckeballer RA Dickey has been a pleasent surprise for the Mets rotation in 2010.

It’s the offense that has been their Achilles’ heel.

Second base has been a black hole, as expected. The catcher’s spot has been surprisingly productive, and I’m happy to see Thole starting. First base was a concern after Murph went down, but Ike’s been good in his rookie season. Wright bounced back, as did Reyes. It’s the outfield that had been the biggest let down.

Going into the season, many thought the outfield would be solid. Bay was coming off a great season in Boston. Beltran would be Beltran when he came back (we thought in May), and Pagan would be an adequate fill in until he returned.  Francoeur was the biggest question mark, but he was coming off his strong finish to the 2009 season. Every single one of our projected three starters has failed to deliver.  Bay, the big offseason signing by Omar to be our big bopper, has a whopping 47 RBI’s and a .749 OPS, and now is on the disabled list with a concussion. Beltran didn’t return until July, and since then he has a mere two homeruns and a .224 batting average. Francoeur, from whom the most regression was respected, started well then crashed back down to Earth, and now is a bench bat for the Rangers. Pagan has been the one bright spot, continuing on last year’s breakout numbers.

I think it’s safe to admit that the season is basically over for our Mets. This being true, let’s look forward to 2011 and how the Mets outfield will fill out. As of now, the starters will probably by Bay, Beltran and Pagan. To me, this sounds like an injury riddled, low power outfield. It also sounds excessively priced, with Beltran and Bay both significantly overpaid.

How can we fix this? I can only think of a few ways, most of which aren’t very likely. Bay is probably not going anywhere. It would be unwise to trade Pagan, as he’s their best outfielder. Beltran is the most likely to be moved. I think two great suitors are the Rays and the Yankees. Both will need DHs this offseason.  Beltran to the Rays plus cash might net us a semi decent prospect.

Carlos Beltran is not the answer in Center Field for the Mets.

If the Yankees miss out on Dunn, we’ll probably just get more salary relief if we send him across town. These aren’t likely to happen of course.

Something even more fanciful would be Jake Peavy for Jason Bay. Two underperforming players with big contracts who could use a change of scenery, this trade makes some sense. But it will never happen. Met fans get by on dreams though, so I might as well mention it.

There are some outfielders in the Mets minor league system that could get some playing time. F-Mart is always around, if he’s healthy. It’d be nice for him to finally live up to his potential. Captain Kirk (Kirk Nieuwenhuis) is having a good season between AA and AAA, with 17 HR and a .272 batting average in 555 at bats. Lucas Duda, who was recently called up, also had a good year between AA and AAA with a .304 batting average, 23 homeruns, and an OBP near .400 (OPS of .967).

The Mets 2011 outfield will likely consist of Bay, Beltran, and Pagan. Barring any fanciful trades, these starting three will not change.  Injuries will let some of the Mets young prospects come up and a get a shot at the show. Hopefully Bay will bounce back like Wright did this year, and Pagan will continue to be a valuable asset. There is really very little the Mets can do, but hopefully their outfield will hold up next year so that they can play games that have some level of meaning.





Who?

4 09 2010

Posted by DieHardMets

I like Cubs, hate introductions. I am probably one of the most awkward people you’ll ever meet in any of your social interactions. I’ve come to accept this, so I’ll try my best to make this not so awkward.

My name is Lukas. I am a mega nerd addicted to Halo, Star Wars, and pretty much anything Sci-fi. The only thing that interests me more than baseball is my sci-fi addiction. Obviously, I’m a screaming Met fan. Hate the Phillies, hate the Yankees, but at the same time realize that my team sucks.

I’m still in high school, so I don’t have too many credentials to list, other than my success in two years of fantasy baseball. Teix found me intelligent enough to invite me here, so I’ll try not to disappoint him.

I spend my days doing my endless homework and playing fantasy baseball, as well as reading when I have a chance. Forgive any stupid spelling mistakes I make, because I just can’t spell.

This’ll be fun! I hope you enjoy anything I write for you.