Why I’m not worried about the Mets

Braves Journal: Amazing Mess

I was looking for something in the archives and came across this. Some people just don’t learn. Actually, you can change the people and they make the same mistakes. The Mets’ 2003 planned Opening Day lineup:

CF Roger Cedeno
2B Robby Alomar
C Mike Piazza
LF Cliff Floyd
1B Mo Vaughn
RF Jeromy Burnitz
3B Jay Bell
SS Rey Sanchez

A fun group, yes? Get beyond that only Floyd is left with the team. Three of them aren’t with any team anymore: Vaughn, Alomar, and Bell have all retired. The first two made a combined $24,856,351 that season. Two others, Sanchez and Cedeno, barely played last season. Sanchez last played on June 8 and I’m guessing won’t play again. He lasted three days longer with the Yankees than Cedeno did with the Cardinals. Outhit him, too. Piazza, meanwhile, is all but holding a “Will catch for food” sign on the side of the road.

Remember, the Mets thought they were contenders that year. They finished 66-95. They keep signing old guys. Yeah, they’re good old guys, but the thing is that old guys tend to stop being good in a hurry. Carlos Delgado is a terrific player, but he’s a similar physical type to Vaughn and is a year older than Vaughn was when his career collapsed. They only have one really good pitcher, and he’s fragile. Maybe they make it through the season, but I wouldn’t count on it, and after 2006 the team will be right back in the same hole, a bunch of old guys they’ve made long-term commitments to dragging down one or two players still in their prime years.

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32 thoughts on “Why I’m not worried about the Mets”

  1. I hope we don’t have to count on Delgado collapsing to beat out the Mets this year. I don’t agree that he shares body types with Mo Vaughn either. Big Mo was a fatty who could hit, but Delgado is a prototype 1B slugger, strong and athletic enough.

    I think the Mets starting pitching is league average or below past Pedro (all respect to Glavine, but at 39 he’s nearing the end of a great ride). That’s where we’ll get ’em, but they’ll score plenty of runs with Delgado, Wright, Beltran and Floyd.

  2. Floyd won’t stay healthy all year, though. Neither will Jose Reyes. Neither will Pedro, even if he does have a custom-made shoe that he can wear for the rest of his career. David Wright is a truly frightening player, as is Carlos Delgado, but while Wright can only get better, Delgado can only get worse. Plus, Delgado’s not the type of player who thrives in the punishing New York media market.

    But let me repeat my question from the last thread: Smitty, is it true that Coco Crisp is a better center fielder than Johnny Damon? Is that what the defensive stats seem to indicate?

  3. That is a great cast of characters, Mac. Lineups like that are exactly what makes the Mets so funny to me. And what’s even funnier is they haven’t learned yet. Unbelievable.

    This year: Floyd will get about 300 AB’s maybe because he went way above his career average last year with 550. The staff is a bunch of 4 and 5 starter past Pedro and he could drop at any moment. Beltran will have a normal season (.265, 25-30, 100). Delgado is a)old and b) playing in a tough environment. He could thrive but odds are against it. They have no second baseman. I better stop now because I could talk about the Mets for hours.

    Oh wait, I forgot. They did sign Brett Boone. I am definitely scared now. ;)

  4. Keep in mind the biggest dfference betwen 2003 and now is that it’s Omar Monaya running the show and not that idiot Steve Phillips.

  5. Yeah but he’s up to the same old tricks as our good friend, Steve. Mainly, signing as many old people as he can before the Yankees do.

  6. Mac, if you think Mo Vaughn and Carlos Delgado have the same body type, you need to write a note to my wife explaining that my build is just excess athleticism.

  7. Bret Boone is Jay Bell without the charm. Reyes is Cedeno as a shortstop. Together, they will help make more outs than any other middle infield combination in the majors.

    That’s the thing about the Mets, they sign a couple of guys they think will be stars and surround them with has-beens and never wases. Delgado is an upgrade over Minky, potentially a huge one, but even a huge upgrade is usually only five or six games.

  8. Bonus Mets fun… With Piazza’s departure, Ed Kranepool’s status as the team’s all-time hits leader is even more secure, as secure as it has ever been. Cliff Floyd is the active leader with only 359 hits, 48th on the team list and more than a thousand behind Kranepool.

    Steve Trachsel is the only player from the 2002 club still with the team.

  9. I would have liked to have seen the braves give that 1 year 2m dollar deal to Piazza. He could catch 20 games a year and play first in a platoon with AL.

  10. I think it is very dangerous to just write off the Mets simply because the Mets are the Mets. Their pythagorean W-L last year was 89-73. With Delgado and even average luck (as it applies to pythagorean record) they would have beaten us last year.

    Still, I’m not getting my panties in a bind until I actually see them keep from screwing themselves over.

  11. I will look up the stats on Crisp later. But I am willing to bet his arm is a ton better than Johny’s and he can probably get to as many balls too. It might take him some time to learn Finway. He would have been a CF in Cleveland, but they have one of the best in the league right now.

  12. Ok I looked at some numbers and it is really hard to determin becuase they play diffrent positions. WWJDD didn’t pan out so well and has no arm. Crisp has a decent arm, but has played mostly left.

  13. I hope a visiting Mets’ fan won’t be too unwelcome. Just a couple of points.

    1) Brett Boone isn’t going to be the Mets’ second baseman. He’s a non-roster invitee, and since he has nothing left, that’s what he’ll show in spring.

    2) I echo the comments about Delgado; he’s as much like Mo Vaughn (who was coming off missing the entire 2001 season, by the way, when the Mets got him) as I am like Chris Farley. And while Shea is a tough hitters’ environment, so is Dolphins Stadium — and Delgado did just fine there.

    3) The Mets do have a problem with the OBPs of their middle infielders. They do need Reyes to make a stride forward from the .300 he put up in 2005; that’ll be a key to their season. I don’t think .320 is an unreasonable goal to shoot for.

    4) I’m not sure fans of a team counting on John Smoltz to lead the rotation should be calling another team’s ace “fragile.” But we’ll see!

    As always: until someone beats the Braves, it’d be foolish to pick against them. But the Mets are a much more formidable threat than they were in 2003, that’s for sure.

  14. Fair enough. But about Smoltz, you should remember that behind him the Braves have Tim Hudson while the Mets’ second-best starter is probably Glavine, who will be 40 next year. Also, Pedro is better than Smoltz and more important to his team’s chances. The Braves would be hurt by losing Smoltz, but the Mets would be dead without Pedro, who is already hurt.

    If Boone isn’t the second baseman, who is? Jeff Keppinger? Chris Woodward? KAZMAT is still on the roster, but I’m sure they’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid him coming into play.

  15. If Boone isn’t the second baseman, who is? Jeff Keppinger? Chris Woodward? KAZMAT is still on the roster, but I’m sure they’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid him coming into play.

    Matsui will get the first crack at it. If somehow he could put up offensive numbers similar to those he put up in 2004, the Mets would be thrilled. After that, it’s probably Keppinger and Anderson Hernandez. I think they want Woodward available as a utility player, rather than as the everyday second baseman.

    No doubt — second base is the one problem area Minaya has had NO success in addressing, and it’s a big one. If the Mets were going to trade Seo and Benson, at least one of them should have been dealt for a reliable, solid second baseman.

  16. Considering that early last year I wrote that ‘”Kaz Matsui” is Japanese for ‘Andres Thomas'”, that makes me very happy. I believe that the trade for Danys Baez fell through because the Mets kept insisting on including KAZMAT.

    I think Woodward is probably the best player of the group and the Mets would be better served by using him there.

  17. Thing is, now the Mets have David Wright and he is a certified stud. He’s like having Chipper Jones. And say what you want about Delgado, but he was money last year, and I don’t see why he’ll automatically catch “Mets Disease” and start to suck.

    The main difference between this year’s squad and the 2002 one is that all of these players were good last year rather than three years before they signed. Alomar, Vaugn, Burnitz, Sanchez had not been “good players” the year before. And we haven’t even gotten in to how much their bullpen has improved.

    The Mets have gotten scary in the near-term, and they’ve got young studs (Wright, Beltran) that will cary them for at least a few more years as their older studs fall into decline.

  18. One thing I wasn’t clear on… A lot of those players were added in 2002, not 2003. They went 79-82 and fired Bobby Valentine, a move they still haven’t recovered from. Then they added Glavine and Floyd and said they’d won the division. Last year they went 83-79, signed Wagner to a bloated contract and traded for Delgado and said they’d won the division. I think that the Mets’ basic problem is that they always think they’ve won the division by March and are surprised when they have to actually play the games.

    Their other problem is that they don’t realize that their bullpen, while not great, wasn’t as much of a problem as their starting pitching. They only had two quality starters last year. Well, two and a half. One is Pedro, who is already hurt. The second is Glavine, who will turn 40 in March. The half is Seo, whom they traded for relievers.

    Oh, they’re better than the ’03 team, for sure. But I think that the Braves are still at least as good, the Braves have Bobby Cox in the dugout instead of Willie Randolph, and the Braves have a lot of players who are young and getting better while the Mets mostly have players who are old and getting worse. Plus they have a little money to play with and a still-deep farm system to trade from.

    Wright is scary. Don’t pitch to him.

  19. i agree with mraver. wright is the difference and he’s a BIG difference.

    beltran is the devil.

    the mets were crazy to trade Seo. I thought he looked solid last year.

    i do find it funny that everyone thinks the braves needed to make a ton of moves this year to get better. The team was nearly all rookies last year! Either we get better just by experience or last year was a fluke. Even if the met’s win the division this year, I like this core we have and hope it brings us a title during these guys’ prime more than I care about the streak.

  20. mraver,

    Robby Alomar hit .336/.415/.541 with 30 SB the year before he signed with the Mets. He had finshed 4th in the AL MVP voting and won his 5th straight Gold Glove and his 10th in 11 years.

    Burnitz was coming off 4 straight years of 30+ HRs and 98+ RBIs.

    The others, not so much.

  21. the Braves have a lot of players who are young and getting better while the Mets mostly have players who are old and getting worse.

    It’s true that the Braves are younger. And believe me, I love the Braves’ willingness to play the guys they develop; I wish the Mets would do more of it.

    But older is not necessarily worse. It is if you’re counting on Mo Vaughn to come back from missing a full season. It isn’t if you’ve got Carlos Delgado replacing Doug Mientkiewicz, and Billy Wagner replacing Braden Looper. The issue is whether you can judge talent and be reasonable in your expectations. The Mets’ problem pre-Omar was that they had execs (Phillips) who thought they should trade Melvin Mora for Mike Bordick , and Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano (Duquette). The Braves almost couldn’t help but beat a team that dumb, regardless of the age of the Mets’ players.

    And, by the way: the Braves are going to be older than the Mets this season at SS, 3B, CF*, and maybe 2B (if the Mets decide to give Keppinger or Andy Hernandez the job). Their # 1 starter is going to be older, too. It’s not like the whole Mets’ roster is ready for the retirement home.

    * – OK, OK, Andruw is only one day older than Beltran. But he’s older!

  22. Welcome Sam M(ets),

    I think we’ve got the Mets’ eventual 2B right here in D.C. He goes by the name of Alfonso Soriano–though Minaya should also check on the availability of Vidro since they’re loaded for bear this year. Who knows with Jim Bowden?

    You don’t think the Mets have pushed things this far to be undone by Jeff Keppinger, do you?

    Vidro’s better, but can’t you see the Mets getting a lot of mileage out of the return of *Sori* to NYC?

    I’d love a prop bet on this. Get Vegas on the line!

  23. Vidro’s better, but can’t you see the Mets getting a lot of mileage out of the return of *Sori* to NYC?

    Don’t get me started. Sorry-ano is the next-to-last player (second only to Clemens) I want to see in a Mets’ uniform. Terrible defensively, and his allegedly strong bat would get exposed playing half his games in Shea. As a road player the last three years, Sorry-ano has hit:

    .260/.303/.465

    Only the launching pad that is the Rangers’ park makes him look like anything special. Combine that with a bad attitude, and you get radioactive. Pass.

    We’ll just have to live with the Braves having a huge advantage at 2B with Giles, and try to make it up at 1B and 3B and in the pen.

  24. I have to jump in with the “it’s not quite 2003” crowd, Mac. Up until the Seo and Benson trades, the Mets were seriously beginning to worry. They hurt themselves by flipping two inning-eaters for middle relief, but that’s their only mistakes so far this winter, IMHO. Comparing Carlos Delgado to Mo Vaughn is just silly. As silly, probably, as comparing Carlos Beltran to Jeromy Burnitz or Roger Cedeno. (I’m not sure exactly who matches for who in your 2003 comparison.)

    The bottom line is that this is not the 2003 Mets, and any analysis that starts with the assumption that “the Mets always screw up somehow” is as logically flawed as you can possibly get. Either the Mets have better talent than the Braves (and Phils) or they don’t. I would say they push for talen in LF (unless Floyd is healthy all year, at which point they win LF), CF (assume a bounce-back to non-Houston norms for Beltran; assume a reversion to mean for Andruw) and RF (Jeff Francouer is not ready.) They win 3B (yes, Wright beats Chipper, even if he’s healthy). They might push SS depending on Reyes’ development. They lose 2B by a large margin, but they win 1B by a larger margin. They lose C if only slightly.

    The rotations are even, if Pedro and Smoltz are both okay. The Braves are deeper (thus the harm of the Seo/Benson deals) but Ramirez and Sosa are both huge question marks. Then again, so is Heilman. The Mets win the pen for the time being. The Braves are younger with more upside, but Billy Wagner is actually very good.

    Does that spell “no worries” to you? More like “who stays healthy and gets lucky” to me. The Mets did do us a favor by trading away their second best starter, though.

  25. Wright is a terrific hitter, but Chipper is a better one. If Wright has an advantage, it’s defense and health.

    I feel pretty confident that Andruw will be better than Beltran. The difference between them last year was fairly huge and Andruw’s been a better player over the course of their careers. (As Sam M. noted, they’re virtually the same age.) Beltran’s hit for a higher average, but Andruw walks more and has a lot more power. Beltran’s baserunning and low GIDP rate makes them fairly even, but the difference last year was so huge that I can’t imagine it will all go away.

    Reyes sucks. I’m hardly Renteria’s biggest fan, but he’s not a bad player at all. Reyes is. The Braves’ advantage at shortstop is almost as big as at second base. At least at second the Mets aren’t married to any of their crappy options.

  26. I would say they push for talen in . . . RF (Jeff Francouer is not ready.)

    Boy, I wish I could agree with that. I’d take Francouer over Nady or Diaz.

    Wright is a terrific hitter, but Chipper is a better one. If Wright has an advantage, it’s defense and health.

    Chipper hasn’t been the better hitter over the course of the two years Wright’s been in the league. Here are the numbers:

    Wright (940 PAs): .302/.371/.524

    Jones (999 PAs): .269/.383/.523

    Adjust for park, and voila: you have equal hitters. Now I ask you. Two hitters with those numbers, one entering his age 23 season and the other entering his age 34 season. Which would you project to be the better hitter in 2006?

    Reyes sucks. . . . The Braves’ advantage at shortstop is almost as big as at second base.

    Not even close. The Mets’ second base situation is far worse than Reyes, and Giles is far better than Renteria. How can the Braves’ advantage be “almost as big”?

    As for whether Reyes sucks, it’s a little ironic coming from a Braves’ fan who (rightly, IMO) stresses the advantage of having young players who will improve rather than old ones who will only decline. The kid is 22 years old, and was able to hold his own in the majors in his first full season. No doubt, he has to improve if he’s going to help the team. I’d be happy if he can get the OBP up to .320 this year, and eventually to .340. Honestly, I have no idea whether he will. But he might, and he’ll be an outstanding player if he does. The odds of him improving have to be better than the odds Renteria will.

  27. It’s the difference between good young players and bad young players. I’ll remind you of what Casey said about Greg Goosen.

    More seriously, Reyes hasn’t shown any signs of progress since he came up; actually, he got worse in 2004 and bounced back slightly last year to not quite what he did in 2003. Maybe he’s going to get better, but I’ve read the signs and they say he grows up to be Alfredo Griffin.

    But my basic point, in context, was that because the Mets have committed to Reyes they aren’t going to bench him, so unless he hits .220 he’s going to be out there every day, with the emphasis on “out”. There is no commitment to a second baseman, so they can mix and match and find the least objectionable solution. So even though Giles is a better player than Renteria (who is not a bad player, and whose career percentages are similar to Furcal’s) the Braves have almost guaranteed advantage at shortstop.

    Chipper had a bizarre, fluke season in 2004 when his batting average nosedived but all his other numbers stayed steady, which just screams “bad luck”. His 2004 line of .296/.412/.556 is pretty close to his career line (.303/.401/.538) and he’ll likely hit about that again. It’s very unlikely he’s going to hit .269, considering that he’s hit .295 or better nine times in the last ten years. If he plays 150 games, he’ll be more valuable than Wright; I’m just not optimistic that he will.

  28. On Reyes v Renteria: Reyes isn’t Rey Ordonez. He’s a hack, and he has to learn the strike zone, but I think at the least he’s Jimmy Rollins, and that’s not unvaluable. I think Renteria will be more valuable next year, but Reyes isn’t completely void of use. And he’s very young.

    On Wright v Jones: Sam M. is right. David Wright is all that. He’s the man. Chipper is a powerhouse as long as he’s healthy, but he’s 34 and on the down side of his career. I see no reason whatsoever to project him as more valuable offensively, much less defensively, than David Wright.

    On Diaz/Xady v Francouer: I think this is likely the inverse of the Reyes/Renteria comparison. Capt. Freedom is obviously talented, and should be at the very least a cheap Brian Jordan (when Brian Jordan was useful.) If he learns to draw walks, he’s Gary Sheffield without the high BA. But in 2006 I have no faith in him being above average. I honestly don’t know who will be the bigger offensive sink, Capt. Freedom or ADD Boy.

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