Jenrry Mejia responded to his promotion to AAA by going 8 innings on Monday night, yielding 1 earned run (a homerun) on 5 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 9, and induced 10 groundouts and 2 flyouts. He appears to be the favorite to both start on Saturday against the Cubs and to be the ace of the Continue reading
Tag Archives: Ruben Tejada
It’s hard to believe that the Mets haven’t won back-to-back games since June 23rd when they did it against Detroit. Yet, the streak continued on Sunday with a 6-5 loss to Philadelphia. The Mets did fight back but unfortunately, and so customarily, they fell short. It was a game that saw Fernando Martinez get his first start of the season in left field. At 9 games back in the division and 7.5 back in the wild card race, it appears that the Mets have decided to give some of their up-and-comers a shot. What the heck.
There were some trade rumor grumblings and suspicions that both Ruben Tejada and Martinez might have been part of some trade package. Seattle seemed to have been the interested party and word was out that Jeff Francoeur might have been included in a deal that would have sent Chone Figgins to the Mets. But as of yet, that trade has not materialized. Instead they were both brought up to the parent club and Alex Cora was let go. A move that was long overdue.
Martinez will get some much needed Major League experience and it will also allow the Mets to showcase him a little in case there are suitors for his services. Ike Davis made an impression early on with the Seattle Mariners so much so that Seattle was willing to trade Cliff Lee to the Mets for a deal that included Davis. The Mets balked at the deal, but Martinez hasn’t really made the strides the Mets were hoping that he’d make. He’s already gotten a reputation for being injury prone and has been dropping steadily in Baseball America’s prospect ratings year after year. In 2008, Martinez was the #20 ranked prospect in baseball than fell to #30 in 2009. In 2010, he slipped to #77. The Mets might be more inclined to include Martinez in a deal that made sense.
While the Mets are trying to infuse some youthful energy into their daily lineup, the arrivals of Martinez and Tejada has been off-putting to some. Francoeur has been told that he will be platooning with Martinez in right field. A few weeks back, Francoeur was having to come to grips with the fact that he was going to be losing playing time to Angel Pagan with Carlos Beltran coming off the DL. Francoeur appeared OK with that. He understood that Beltran’s bat needed to be in the lineup and Pagan has been one of the more consistent and surprising Mets players all year. But with Jason Bay out, the Mets needed Francoeur to step back into his right field role. But now, Francoeur seems a little less flexible with sharing time with Martinez. So much so, that Francoeur has had some closed door meeting with Jerry Manuel.
Tejada’s arrival also means that Luis Castillo will be riding the bench more. Castillo will still hit better than Tejada but Castillo’s slash line of .259/.322/.315 since the All Star break, won’t win him any medals, so if the Mets are wanting to cultivate Tejada, it would seem that Castillo will find a nice warm spot next to Francoeur on the bench.
None of these maneuvers are game changers. However, neither Francoeur, Castillo or for that matter Cora are difference makers that will help to win games on a consistent basis. The Mets are trying to change the complexion of the team and that means that some players, and some good guys, have to sit or be let go. These are the tough and sometimes unpleasant decisions that a team struggling for direction need to make.
Unfortunately, the most obvious decision and the one the Mets are still unwilling to make is the release of Oliver Perez. Now that would be a game changer.
July, let’s be real, was miserable. The Mets went 9 and 17 with a -11 run differential. They only allowed 99 runs but could only muster 88 runs themselves. The hitting disappeared. The Mets hit .227/.293/.353 good for a whopping .646 OPS. Their OPS and a 284 wOBA both ranked last in the league. Angel Pagan continued his stud play hitting .337/.402/.594 with a .257 ISO and 7.7 SPD score. They got little production out of second base as the trifecta of talent that is Luis Castillo, Alex Cora, and Ruben Tejada all struggled getting on base. Luis Castillo’s .282 OBP was about 40 points higher than Tejada’s and 80 points higher than Cora’s. There’s no excuse to be starting Cora, even if Castillo is struggling. There’s barely an excuse to even have him on the team. David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Ike Davis all performed well in July, but the struggles continued for Jason Bay. Carlos Beltran walked 14% of the time in July but struggled early with his triple slash. He’s still struggling at the plate but has walked 17% of the time in his past 14 games. Jeff Francoeur maintained his sneaky persona of generating outs more than practically all of baseball, all while capturing the adoration of anti-sabr Met fans. Haters.
The Mets pitching had it’s bright spots in July, though Mike Pelfrey’s regression seemingly masked the other starters’ strides. The Mets are a hittable staff without strong strike out numbers. They’ve been able to limit home runs all year likely due to ground ball tendencies and Citi’s park factor. Mike Pelfrey had a horrific July. His k/9 continued it’s descent and for the month of July was a measly 4.35, but worse was his 5.66 bb/9. Opposing hitters hit .419 off of him. Jonathon Niese, Johan Santana, and R.A. Dickey turned in spectacular Julys. Fun fact: Jonathon Niese had a 98% strand rate in July. The Mets had the sixth best FIP in all of baseball in July. Imagine what it could have been if Pelfrey didn’t self destruct.
The Mets are six games into the season and they’ve lost their first two series to two of the worst teams in the NL. The decision to enter the season with lame duck management has already begun to draw a lot of criticism. I’d like to take this opportunity to start promulgating some fireable offenses. The following beefs below aren’t actions that will directly get anyone fired, but the results generated by these actions ultimately may. We all know it starts at the top, but unfortunately we can’t fire the Wilpons. Many fans think the answer is to boycott games, and though that is everyone’s right as a fan, poor attendance is certainly not going to help our guys on the field and any resulting loss of revenue from decreasing ticket sales probably won’t be enough to urge ownership to sell.
I’ve always considered myself somewhat of an Omar Minaya apologist. I take issue with how much criticism he actually gets, especially when much of it is ignorant nonsense regarding his supposed desire to build an “all-Latino team”. Most of us dismiss such an unfounded claim and view it as utterly ridiculous. Additionally, we are all in the dark on the amount of control he has and I think he takes too much of a hit for his clumsy public speaking as well as the epic collapses of ‘07 and ‘08. I label 2009 as a lost season featuring a bizarre injury frequency that no team could recover from. We all know what happened in the years prior but how much of that can be directly blamed on Omar? Hindsight is always 20/20 so I’d rather focus on the present, especially when there are plenty of questionable decisions with the roster heading into 2010. I’d like to point out a few decisions that really irritate me.
Omar’s 2010 plan is littered with inconsistent philosophies and contradictions. The most obvious is the case of Jenrry Mejia. He should probably be in AA working on his secondary pitches and continuing his development as a starter. Omar and company ultimately decided a void in the bullpen could be filled by the talented 20 year old. This is in part based on Jerry Manuel’s advisement and in part based on just how talented the kid really is. It also appears to be an indication that they are taking a win-now approach with their jobs on the line. This is contradictory to the position they take with the first base void, which makes me question their actual logic behind Mejia’s early promotion. Ike Davis has 3 years of college ball experience. He crushed AA last year. If anything, you would think he’d be the guy that got the call to break camp, especially after Daniel Murphy hit the DL. Whether this is a service time issue or a development issue, it’s simply another example of Omar’s contradictory approach since neither are long term issues that should matter to a GM who may not make it through his contract, let alone the year.
Omar’s offseason moves can also be called into question, the most glaring being the decision not to sign a mid-level starter like Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland, or even a rebound candidate like Eric Bedard. Personally, I’ve become more critical of the decision not to sign a starter when they placed Nelson Figueroa on waivers. He has proven to be a very capable starter with respectable FIPs the past two seasons for the Mets: 4.26 in ’08; 4.31 in ’09. The Mets’ rotation depth takes a big hit with the loss of Figueroa and again this shows the inconsistent nature of Omar’s plan. I can live with the decision not to overpay for a starter, but why further deplete your depth by both designating your best spot starter for assignment and assigning your best starting pitching prospect to the bullpen?
These are just a few of the many questionable decisions Omar made heading into 2010. I’m not going to go crazy on Orlando Hudson vs. Luis Castillo. I think we missed the boat on Felipe Lopez. I think they significantly overvalue Fernando Nieve. For the second year in a row they acquired a setup man, in Kelvim Escobar, with injury issues. One of Eno’s biggest beefs seems to be how they left Chris Carter off the roster and I couldn’t agree more. Why was Alex Cora resigned when Ruben Tejada could easily out-produce him for the league minimum? I’m not divulging any groundbreaking secrets here, but I just wanted to emphasize just how confusing management’s plan seems. They can’t possibly think they are contenders, can they? Jerry Manuel will certainly get the ax first, and I’ll discuss some of his fireable offenses in my next post, but I’d be surprised if we see Omar make it through the season if he doesn’t do something about the rotation fast.
Tonight’s starting lineup looks like this:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Luis Castillo
- 3B David Wright
- LF Jason Bay
- RF Jeff Francoeur
- 1B Fernando Tatis
- C Rod Barajas
- SS Ruben Tejada
- SP Jon Niese
Am I wrong in thinking this should have been the opening day lineup? Why did this team send down Chris Carter? Why are they hitting Mike Jacobs fourth? Why are they playing Alex Cora over a young and coming shortstop in Ruben Tejada?
These all represent different fallacies.
1) Veterans are more preferable to rookies. Why would this be the case? Players peak around 30 years old. Why would you pick a guy that will be worse than they were last year over a guy that is more likely to be better? Cora is who he is. Why not see who Tejada is will Reyes is out? Can he be any worse than a scratch defender with little offensive game? I think this fallacy may even be in play when it comes to the decision to play Gary Mathews, Jr over Angel Pagan. Pagan has been better, more recently, so why Sarge?
2) Lineup positions have more to do with athletic dimensions and handedness than actual offensive capabalities. Why would you put an inferior hitter second in the lineup just because he’s fast? Would you put Carlos Gomez and his sub-.300 OBP in the second spot in the lineup just because he’s fast? That’s ridiculous. Of course, with Luis Castillo, he still gets on base so it’s not as bad. But the Jacobs decision was terrible and probably has something to do with ‘slugging ability’ and the fact that’s he’s left-handed. Jason Bay has a .934 career OPS against lefties, .884 against righties. Jacobs can’t even sniff those numbers. WHO CARES IF BAY SEES A LEFT HANDER BECAUSE HE’S HITTING BEHIND DAVID WRIGHT?!!!!!
These two fallacies are often shown around baseball for sure. But combine this poor lineup and roster management from Jerry Manuel with the terrible media management from Omar Minaya, and you’re starting to see one of the worst manager/GM tandems in the business.
If you read GBB, you know we try to stay positive. It’s an early season. These changes may only cost the Mets a win or two. But these are just forehead-smacking decisions and that game or two might be the difference between playoffs and a long offseason. If they miss out on the wild card by less that five games, both the GM and the manager deserved to be fired. You couldn’t say it any plainer than that.
Wow, that was somewhat unexpected, no? Eno touched on the horrid lineup the Mets were going to throw out there for opening day, and even if you didn’t watch the game, you can take a quick glance at the box score to see that the two glaring questions with the lineup have some merit. I’d like to continue the lineup conversation but I’ll try to keep a positive tone going forward because we can’t ask for much more than what the Mets gave us today, as they went on to beat the Florida Marlins 7-1.
Alex Cora had a career .270 BABIP and a .291 wOBA heading into the 2010 season. Needless to say, he should never be batting at the top of the order. Considering his lack of power and table-setting skills, he should be batting 8th, or maybe even 9th if Santana is on the mound. The other major beef many fans had was Mike Jacobs batting cleanup. Jacobs and Cora combined went 0 for 8 with 1 RBI, leaving 5 men on base. Cora saw 18 pitches at the leadoff spot in 5 plate appearances and only got on once via a HBP. Jacobs struck out twice and only saw 12 pitches in 4 plate appearances. I’m not going to go crazy on one game, but they did pretty much what was expected of them based on their historical tendencies.
David Wright’s first inning homerun did wonders for the Mets’ energy as he filled in admirably as the igniter during Jose Reyes’ absence. Luis Castillo, David Wright, & Jason Bay saw a combined 61 pitches in 13 plate appearances. Johan Santana, Fernando Nieve, and Francisco Rodriguez all pitched very well as the Florida lineup did practically nothing. Angel Pagan had a nice pinch hit RBI single in the sixth and then stole second and later scored.
It’ll be interesting to see what Jerry will do with the lineup vs RHP Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday. We would all love to see Ruben Tejada get a look while he’s still up and I think it’s safe to say that Alex Cora’s vesting option will be avoided, as management clearly thinks highly of Tejada. I have a feeling we will see Manuel use Jacobs again in the cleanup spot to avoid using two right-handed hitters back to back, especially since the Marlins bullpen only has one LHP in it. There will be plenty of at bats all season for Pagan, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Matthews, Jr. rewarded for a fine first game as a Met.
You can’t start the year off much better than this, and I’ll try to keep a cool head on lineup decisions until Reyes is back, but there really is no excuse for batting Cora first or Jacobs fourth. We’ll see what happens once Pagan is in the lineup. I hope everyone enjoyed the game today and it looks like there is plenty to look forward to – just do yourselves a favor and avoid watching the Braves and Phillies.
It looks like we have the opening day lineup and the final construction of the 25-man roster. From Jon Heyman, the lineup:
1. SS Alex Cora
2. 2B Luis Castillo
3. 3B David Wright
4. 1B Mike Jacobs
5. LF Jason Bay
6. CF Gary Matthews, JR.
7. RF Jeff Francoeur
8. C Rod Barajas
9. SP Johan Santana
That’s pretty upsetting. Not only is Mike Jacobs making the team, he’s batting in the cleanup spot ahead of Jason Bay. Does that make sense to anyone? I’m sure this is some stupid R/L/R handed thing, but you can set this lineup differently so that Jason Bay gets more plate appearances than Mike Jacobs. It’s possible. If this is the lineup against lefties (Jacobs has a .643 OPS vs lefties), Mets management needs to be fired. The day after.
Let’s tackle the idiocy of Gary Matthews Jr over Angel Pagan some other time. It’s just too depressing.
The bench should be Fernando Tatis, Angel Pagan, Ruben Tejada, Henry Blanco and maybe Chris Carter until Daniel Murphy comes back. I’m happy Tejada made the team and I hope they keep him up when people return from injury. I’d rather have him than Alex Cora, whose defense is slipping and whose offense never really existed.
The pitching looks to lineup like this:
1. Johan Santana
2. Jonathon Niese
3. John Maine
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Oliver Perez
I love the fact that Jon Niese is pitching the second game, if only if it’s a symbolic gesture. Niese deserves a little atta-boy and a positive push in the right direction. Let’s hope he responds better than Mike Pelfrey did a similar moment last year.
The bullpen is Francisco Rodriguez, Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green, Hisanori Takahashi, Ryota Igarashi, and Jenrry Mejia. I personally think Takahashi will take a spot in the rotation (Oliver Perez, I’m looking in your direction), but this bullpen looks pretty good, and with the upside Mejia provides, could be dominant if their good years line up this season. As long as the long-term plan is still to make Mejia a starter, I think Mets fans should be happy with this bullpen.
All in all, the team looks like it will have a decent bullpen, a shaky back end of a rotation, and a poor offense. They really need to get lucky with someone at first base, or Ike Davis will be needed a little earlier than they’d hope. Maybe we’ll just start banging the Ike Davis drum so that he replaces Jacobs. Almost anyone would be better than Jacobs.
Some Mets are still playing baseball. That’s right, the best and brightest prospects are in the Arizona Fall League and there’s good news to report.
The best of the Mets’ meagre horde of prospects is first baseman Ike Davis and he’s shining so far in the desert. His .414/.438/.724 line looks outlandish until you realize that hitters are hitting about .300 on average. No matter, it’s good to see him doing well even if the pitching is sub-par. He has six doubles, a home run, and seven strikeouts against two walks in 29 at-bats.
With Carlos Delgado on his way out and Daniel Murphy looming as a mildly palatable replacement, the question among Mets fans is not if he will pan out but how soon will he be up. Jason Grey scouted him and felt that his swing has too much load and that he needs to figure out off-speed stuff before he can ascend to the majors. Ike’s also got some poor platoon splits that he needs to smooth out (.698 OPS vs. lefties). I’d guess that he won’t be making the team out of spring training next year, so there may be an interim first baseman in the meantime.
Ruben Tejada has also been playing well, as he sports a .320/.393/.440 line in 25 at-bats. The only cause for concern is the fact that he only has three doubles and isn’t showing a ton of power. Then again, power is not really his game (.355 slugging % career) and he does have two stolen bases. The better he plays the more likely he ends up traded this offseason, and the rumors have already started.
The results on the pitching side have been less exciting. Jenrry Mejia, the copy editor’s worst nightmare, has given up six runs in his three innings. Despite the poor results, Mejia has shown good stuff. Keith Law breaks it down better than I could hope to:
The most impressive arm so far has been Jenrry Mejia of the New York Mets, who was on a short pitch count but showed two above-average pitches and a chance for a third. Mejia’s fastball sat from 93-96 mph and touched 98, he also threw a plus changeup that looked more like a two-seamer at 85-87. It should be noted, though: the latter pitch was a little inconsistent. His curveball was even less consistent, but he threw one very sharp one for a called third strike at 78 mph, with good depth and clear two-plane break. He comes from a slot just below 3/4 and needs to focus on staying on top of the ball. He missed a chunk of the second half with a strained finger, which could impact how he grips the ball even now. He has a strong, thick build. The velocity comes easily, and if his command is better than what he showed on Wednesday and he can snap off that good curveball more frequently, he’s a potential No. 1 or No. 2 starter.
Also playing in Arizona are Scott Moviel and Josh Stinson and lefthanded pitcher Eric Niesen, but they haven’t been very impressive. Moviel has pitched five shutout innings, but has two strikeouts against three walks in five innings. They’ve pitched only about 12 innings combined, so it’s hard to put too much credence in the numbers.
At least with Mejia, Davis and Tejada, the Mets have seemingly found themselves some upper-crust prospects. Let’s see if they ever play a game for the Mets!
Joel Sherman is a smart guy. I like his writing and find him to be usually even-handed and clear-sighted. But when he outlines three possible acquisitions for a number two starter here, I think he’s a little guilty of the “my flotsam and jetsam for your valuable pitcher” ethos that pervades in New York.
It’s tragic because on first glance he’s tried so hard to avoid it. His idea is solid enough: find some AL fly-ball pitchers coming off bad years. Plug them into Citi Field and opposing National League lineups and get a Vincente Padilla-type out at a low cost. We’ve all seen how much nicer the NL is to pitchers, and we all know that Citi Field is a pitcher’s park (although it played to a .943 park factor for runs, but also a 1.057 park factor for home runs, meaning that its reputation is overstated).
But then look at the list of pitchers he starts: Jeremy Guthrie, Gil Meche, and Ervin Santana. Certainly the Mets would be buying low. But would their teams want to sell those pitchers low? And for the trade bait that Sherman suggests? Let’s take a look in reverse order.
Ervin Santana was famously shoved to the bullpen for the postseason after his 8-8, 5.03 ERA season and Sherman suggests that his team will want to unload his 3 year, $25.2 million contract in order to be in a better position to keep John Lackey. Except that the Angels won’t so soon forget last season’s monster year (16-7, 3.49). They’ll know that he has the potential to be worth three times that contract before it’s done if he regains his form. If they trade him, they’ll want prospects that Minaya can’t give up. And, anyway, Santana was worth almost as much as his contract in last year’s injury-riddled campaign. His slider was still an excellent pitch, and if he regains some of the velocity and makes his fastball a plus pitch again (a recovery he has pulled off before), he’ll be fine. Or he won’t, and he’ll still be a capable fifth starter signed at a good price. The Angels won’t be desperate to trade him.
Now we take a look at Gil Meche, a capable veteran pitcher with a four-pitch mix that has made him a strong pitcher for a while. His average strikeout rate (6.63 last year, and career) would certainly get a boost in the NL, but his 34% flyball rate doesn’t really qualify as a flyball pitcher, as it would place him outside of the top 50 in that statistic. But no matter, he is coming off a year where he was worth only about half of his contract, is on a team that could use some more youth and financial flexibility and won’t be contending in the next two years on Meche’s contract, and he could benefit from the move to the NL. Those things are all true. But trying to get him with Luis Castillo? Really? I’m going to have to call a ‘shame on you,’ to Sherman on that one. There’s no way in heck a competently run Royals team would want a defensively declining geriatric second baseman for their young team. Castillo only fits on a contending team needing a little more offense out of their middle infield.
Lastly, we come to the maybe the most reasonable suggestion of the three. Sherman does mention that Jeremy Guthrie owns a mediocre strikeout rate (5.63 career) that is in the midst of a three-year decline (down to 4.95 K/9 last year), so at least he is seeing Guthrie clearly. He is also a fly ball pitcher (46.5% last year, 40.8% career) that could benefit from leaving Camden Yards (1.185 park factor for home runs). Certainly his ballooning home run rate (1.58 last year, 1.30 career) would thank him. Sherman also mentions reasonable trade bait in Bobby Parnell and Ruben Tejada, as the Orioles could certainly use some middle infield prospects and an arm for the bullpen. They could also move Guthrie, considering they won’t compete that soon and he’s entering more costly arbitration years.
But would the Mets really want Guthrie? The dropping K-rate is worrisome, as is the fact that his flyball rate is going in the wrong direction. Most bothersome, though, is the fact that Guthrie’s fastball, which was an above-average pitch as late as last year, bottomed out in 2009. This with only a small drop in velocity (from 93.3 MPH to 92.4 MPH) and little or no drop in movement. Looking at his jump in contact rates (83% in 2008 to 87% in 2009), it just looks like hitters know what’s coming.
Maybe the National League won’t know what’s coming and he’d be rejuvenated. And the price seems reasonable, so kudos to Sherman for spotting this possibility. Unfortunately, the upside is severely limited on Guthrie, and he’s the most attainable of the three pitchers named today.
We’ll provide our own best guesses for Mets starting pitching options in the coming weeks.