Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Friday, February 27, 2004
  Wigginton, Moreno, Brazell and Baldiris get one year deals

The Mets signed their starting third baseman and three minor leaguers with major league potential for another year, but financial terms weren't disclosed. Ty Wigginton set numerous team rookie records and led the Mets in numerous offensive categories, pretty much by default. He and Roger Cedeno were the only two Mets to get enough at bats to qualify for the batting title, which led to funny things like Cedeno leading the team with his .267 batting average. In reality, the 26 year old Wigginton didn't pack much of an offensive punch in .573 at bats, hitting .255/.318/.396 with 11 home runs. He'll need to improve on those numbers to fend off challenges from beneath in the coming years, as the Mets have several options at third base on their way up.

Along with hot corner golden boy David Wright (21 years old, .270/.369/.459 in 466 at bats at A+ Port St. Lucie in 2003) and Victor Diaz (22, .354/.382/.520 in 175 at AA Binghamton), who seems to be preparing for a potential shift to third, Baldiris (20, .313/.396/.427 in 393 at A Capital City) could one day find himself in line for Wigginton's job. The 23 year old Brazell hit .292/.331/.472 in 432 at bats in Binghamton before moving up to Norfolk where he hit .261/.292/.326 in just 46 at bats. The 26 year old Moreno pitched eight innings of relief at the major league level, striking out five and walking three and posting a 7.88 ERA. In 52 innings pitched at Norfolk, he struck out 58, walked 17 and gave up one home run for a 1.90 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
  Just like Al Leiter...

ESPN's preseason Power Rankings are out and the Mets are number 22, just above those teams best described as "hopeless". The Mets did manage to beat out one of their NL East rivals, the Expos, who came in at number 26. I did find the comment accompanying the Mets' ranking a bit odd.

"Defense better, pitching younger, but so many strikeouts in the lineup; they are doomed to play in the shadows of the Bronx."

Saying their pitching got younger is a little weird given that each of the Mets' five starting pitchers is likely to be precisely one year older than the man who occupied his spot for the majority of last year. Maybe they're talking about the twenty-seven month gap between Armando Benitez and Braden Looper.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
  Soriano vs. Reyes

Inspired by this thread, I started poking around Baseball Reference looking for guys who played shortstop regularly in the majors at age 20. As was mentioned in the thread, Jose Reyes' 100 OPS+ age 20 season bested those posted by Robin Yount (76 OPS+), Gary Sheffield (82) and Alan Trammell (89) in their 20th year, when all three were stationed at short. It also compared favorably with that of Edgar Renteria, who put up a 104 at age 20 1n 1996 and then didn't best the league average again until 2002. And it wasn't too far from Hall of Famer Arky Vaughan's 113 in 1932. Alex Rodriguez, of course, blew them all away with his monstrous 160 OPS+, the third highest of his career. If I can figure out a way to find everybody who played shortstop regularly at the age of 20 in the major leagues other than just cherry-picking guys I've heard of, I'll post some sort of chart. Hell, even if I just keep cherry-picking, I'll probably post a chart. It won't have any real predictive value, but it is somewhat interesting to look at. (This is all dependent upon me figuring out how to post a halfway-decent chart, which is no sure thing, given the wacky blogger pseudo-html.) Derek Jeter, incidentally, didn't play regularly until he was 22, and even then just barely bested a 1996 AL average OPS of .802 with a 101 OPS+. It wasn't until age 24 that he bested the league OPS by more than 4 percent.

But as I was searching around for 20 year old shortstops, I got the bright idea to check out Alfonso Soriano's numbers. Of course, Soriano didn't play in the majors at age 20. In fact, given the recent revelation about his age, it turns out he was playing for Hiroshima of the Japanese Western League (if I'm making correct assumptions about some abbreviations here) at 20. But his first full major league season came in 2001 at the age of "23" (read: 25) when he hit .268/.304/.432 for an OPS+ of just 92. in 574 at bats. Compare that to Reyes' .307/.334/.434 (admittedly in only 274 at bats) and the kid starts looking all right. For all the shouting done (I'm thinking specifically here of that done by Mike Francesa and Chris Russo this afternoon, but any critic of this non-deal will do) about how Reyes will never be the offensive force that Soriano has become, Reyes looks to be well ahead of Soriano's progression for his age.

If those sample sizes and comparisons aren't enough for you, how about we take a look at an experience the two have in common: playing in the Eastern League. In 1999, a 23 year old Soriano played at four levels, from the Gulf Coast League to the American League, but spent most of his time in the AA Eastern League. In 242 at bats, he posted a .252/.290?/.421 line (I had to calculate the OBP myself without the benefit of HBP or sacrifice numbers, so it's just a rough estimate). At age 19, Jose Reyes basically split 2002 between the Florida State League and the Eastern League. In 274 at bats with AA Binghamton, he hit .287/.331/.425, besting the elder Soriano in all three hitting rate stats, significantly so in average and on-base percentage. There may not be much reason to suspect Reyes will match Soriano's recent production, particularly his power. But then it doesn't seem there was much reason to expect the same production out of Soriano in the first place, so who knows how high Reyes' ceiling could be? I suppose there is no guarantee that Reyes is as young as advertised, but if he is, it seems a 20 year old Reyes is a much more valuable commodity than a 20 year old Soriano was, let alone what a 28 year old Soriano is.

Yes, Mr. Hicks, if it's all the same to you, I'll keep my young shortstop, er, second baseman, thank you.
Monday, February 23, 2004
  Newsday: Reyes for Soriano?

No. No no no no no no no.

I have a hard time believing there's any truth to the rumors that the Mets might be willing to part with Jose Reyes as part of a deal for Alfonso Soriano, and I don't think that's just my general Mets-related optimism talking. The Star Ledger, for example, quotes someone or other calling it "very, very unlikely".

If the Mets can somehow manage to get Soriano to play right field, without giving up Reyes (or Kazmir, or Wright, or Huber, or Peterson, or...), I'm all for it. I don't know that he can play right field competently and in light of his recent rapid aging, among other things, I don't think he's a good bet to be as valuable for the Mets in the next few years as he was for the Yankees in the last few. But it would take a collapse of Alomarian proportions to make him a weaker offensive option than any of the current Met right field options.

But one thing the Mets do not need right now is a starting middle infielder. They've got pretty good ones already. And the 20 year old currently occupying second base will be much more useful in the next three, five and ten years than the 28 year old they would get by trading him. Jim Duquette has made a big deal out of claiming to have a plan for bringing the Mets back to the top by building from within. A Reyes-Soriano trade would prove him full of shit and be a quick fix to out-Steve-Phillips Steve Phillips.

If Duquette could perhaps trick the pitching-weak and common sense-impaired Rangers into taking Tom Glavine in exchange for Soriano, on the other hand...

(Glavine probably has some sort of no-trade clause, doesn't he?)
Saturday, February 21, 2004
  If I may digress from baseball momentarily to bang my head against nearby surfaces flat or pointy...

Swiped from

Statistically speaking, Kerry Collins had his worst season as a Giants quarterback. In a related item, the Giants have the fourth pick in the draft. Will one and one make two come NFL draft time? Maybe, maybe not, according to general manager Ernie Accorsi. "I can't imagine him not being the starting quarterback," Accorsi told the Newark Star Ledger on Feb. 19. But with five quarterbacks expected to be taken in the first two rounds, Accorsi said he won't ignore future needs. As for Collins' financial future, the team and Collins' agent have started negotiations. Collins has one year left on his contract. He is scheduled to make $7 million during the 2004 season and is to count $8.95 million against the salary cap.

"I can't imagine him not being the starting quarterback."


"I can't imagine him not being the starting quarterback."


I guess going two whole years without setting the league record for fumbles in a season is really going to pay off for ol' Kerry. Heck, this year he threw nearly as many touchdowns as interceptions and his passer rating was well above 70! Okay, not well above. Now, I'm no kind of football expert, but if he gets a contract extension beyond something like a one year "ease the new kid we drafted in 2004 into the starting job" length, I'm going to have trouble imagining the Giants winning the NFC East any time soon.
Saturday, February 14, 2004
  World Series ring put up for auction, Yankees bid $200 million

If this deal goes down as reported (Rodriguez for Soriano), my quick math, with help from Dugout Dollars, puts the Yankees' payroll at around $194 million. And that's not even taking into account whatever they end up paying Travis Lee. They'd have ten players on their roster making upwards of $10 million this year. I don't know if the comedic value of letting Derek "past a diving" Jeter play shortstop while you've got Alex Rodriguez on your team would be enough to console me. No, it'd take something like a shot of Steinbrenner face after Keith Foulke strikes out Gary Sheffield to end the ALCS to make things all right in my eyes. I may have more on this once it actually happens or fails to.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
  Stat man speaks out, doesn't say much

Some anonymous person at Baseball Primer pointed out that the Mets' new mystery stat guy Ben Baumer has updated his website, which had been down for a while after every saber-Met fan on the internet started trying to find out who the hell he was and what specifically his thoughts were on how awesome on-base percentage is. As the title suggests, he doesn't really say a whole hell of a lot in specific in the above linked post, but it's nice to see anyway. His remarks are short enough that it's almost not worth my quoting the highlights, but I'm going to do it anyway to try to add some much needed substance to this post of mine. In response to questions about what he's going to be doing and what makes him qualified to do it, he responds:

...I do have an MA in mathematics, I do have lots of experience with computers (to be blunt, I'm a Mac nerd), and I have always loved baseball, as both a player and a fan. Rest assured that my devotion to statistical baseball research will be nothing less than manaical, and my intention is to use the most logical thinking I can muster to put the Mets back on top.

That sounds all well and good and if he both knows what he's doing and is able to get the higher-ups to listen when he talks, He should b a nice addition to the Mets' front office.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
  Sunday was my birthday...

...and all I got was Ricky Bottalico.

Okay, that's not really true. And I don't know why it wouldn't let me put that all on one line. Could it be in all this time I've never tried to post a title as long as that? But anyway, the Mets have signed up Botallico to a minor league deal and are close to signing James Baldwin as well. There isn't much reason to expect either of these guys to even outperform, say, Jaime Cerda this year, but neither of them costs much in the way of cash or space on the forty man roster, so there's no real reason to be upset by these moves either. And with the pack of veterans already guaranteed spots in the Mets' bullpen this year, these two will have to do something right, or at least look like they have, to make it to Shea Stadium in April.

Bottalico last bested the league average in ERA in 2000 and 2001, and before that in 1997. Last year with the Diamondbacks he faced ten batters, struck out two of them, walked two more, and gave up a run on three hits for a 5.40 ERA. Baldwin spent most of his career as a below-average starter for the White Sox, topping 100 in ERA+ just twice (in 1996 and 2000). But last year he found himself in the Minnesota bullpen, where he pitched 15 innings, striking out seven, walking four and giving up six home runs. Baldwin's K/9 and K/BB rates were never too impressive and aside from half a season with the Dodgers in 2001, he hasn't come too close to matching the moderate highs he reached in the mid-'90s.

I don't expect to have occasion to say much else about either of these guys this season.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
  Throw another fifth starter on the pile

The Mets have come to terms with Scott Erickson, who missed two of the last three seasons following elbow and shoulder surgeries. In addition to that, Erickson hasn't put up an ERA anywhere near league average since 1999. But with Erickson, Shawn Sedlacek, Grant Roberts, Tyler Yates, Jeremy Griffiths and Aaron Heilman (the official fifth starter of Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House) all on board for Spring Training, the chances have to be pretty slim that the Mets won't at least stumble onto an adequate fifth starter by opening day, don't they? Give me (at least) six pitchers of various ages and abilities, Rick Peterson and the good ol' law of averages, and I've got to feel okay about this particular roster spot.
Monday, February 02, 2004
  I am easily amused

For the first time ever, except perhaps for that month where my counter wasn't working (I think it was August), this page got 1000 hits in one month. Yep, for some reason, despite the fact that I only posted eight times all month, and three of those were posts about how the page wasn't working properly, this page got more hits in January than ever before. So, I'd just like to thank everyone who read this blog or pointed others in the direction of it in the month of January. And I'll seriously considering doing something more substantial to thank you, like, say, posting more frequently. And if you're extra good, many of those posts will be more well-written than this one.
Disseminating descriptions and accounts of New York Mets games without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball or the New York Mets since 2003.

Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States
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