2/29/12

The Keepers - #4 - P - Jenrry Mejia

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4.        SP Jenrry Mejia:

Mejia pitched for the 2007 DSL Mets, going 2-3, 2.47 in 14 games (7 starts). He also struck out 47 batters in 43.2 IP.

Mejia's arsenal includes a 91-95 MPH fastball that when low in the zone has tons of movement, sometimes tail and sometimes sink.  This sets up his 77-80 mph hook that drops off the table.

In 2008, Mejia pitched for both the GCL Mets, and Brooklyn, going a combined 5-2, 2.89, in 14 starts. He struck out 67 batters in 71.2 IP.

September 2008:  Brooklyn pitching coach Hector Berrios on:  Jenrry Mejia: “To be here at 18 and playing so well at this level is really impressive. He sits on 94 miles per hour and can get up to 97. He doesn’t quite have the extension of a guy like Holt has, but considering how young he is, I think he has a lot of potential.”

The Cyclones web site said:   The 18-year-old Mejia (6’0”, 182) was signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, out of the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo).  Mejia began his professional career last season, for the Venezuelan Summer League Mets, going 2-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 14 games (seven starts).  In 43.2 innings, he allowed 24 hits, 17 runs, 12 earned, and 27 walks, with 47 strikeouts.

1-10-10 Forecast: - Everybody loves Jenrry Mejia. He was the talk of the winter leagues, both for his speed and the speed the ball went off opponent’s bats. He still has a long way to go and will start again at AA, but anyone who has spent any time observing him says he’s a can’t miss.  Me?  He’s a closet closer.

5-22-10: - SP Jenrry Mejia: It’s impossible to project Mejia’s future right now because he’s supposed to return to the minors and be stretched out back to a starter. The problem is he’s still sitting in the Queens pen. So far this season: 20 outings, 19.0-IP, 3.79 ERA, 14-K, 11-BB… okay, but not what a 19-year old is supposed to be doing. The good news… he’s an extremely talented young man that should be a Met for a very long time.

6-21-10: - Maybe it took two loses to the Yanks, or maybe somebody finally just hit Jerry in the head, but Jenrry Mejia has been returned to the AA-Binghamton market are put back into the starting rotation. I also understand he will start on Wednesday. All this makes my prediction of Mark Cohoon being promoted from Savannah here a distant long shot, but we’ll see. I still think there’s a good chance that Mike Antonini will move on to Buffalo this month. Right now, the B-Mets rotation (Mejia, Antonini, Eric Niesen, Josh Stinson, and Chris Schwinden) is a pretty good one. And, no AAAA waste here. All pitchers that actually have a chance of getting to the Bigs. Is the Mejia move something that will enhance his value in a trade. I think so, but we’ll see.

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Ruben Tejada

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Mack -     In the past, Terry Collins ran into trouble with his ballplayers when he talked about them to the media rather than talk to them. What's your spin on how he's handling the Ruben Tejada situation now?


Michael Jawitz - I am disappointed immeasurably. As an employee, I should be told things like this by my manager first. This had no business being mentioned on a group level (press). What's more, didn't he show up on time? If so, what's wrong with that?


David Rubin Coming from a family where being on time was mandatory (and by "on time" I mean at least 15 minutes early) I understand where Terry is coming from. HOWEVER- it's a long Spring for the players, Tejada is going to have to pace himself as it is, and, most importantly, there is a REASON that the Collective Bargaining agreement has a mandatory report date that was agreed upon. Tejada was on time for that date, and by all reports he kept busy in Panama, working out and staying in shape prior to reporting. So put aside the fact that Tejada did nothing wrong, per se, and it's hard to be angry at him. Would it have looked good from a public relations perspective to have the replacement of a (near) perennial all-star at camp early learning to pivot with Daniel Murphy? Yes. In reality, there's plenty of time to make that happen.

Now to the main point of the question, Collins' has made great strides in a single season in convincing players that he can be a manager they not only respect but enjoy playing for...talking to the press about anything prior to speaking to a player about an issue is counter-productive to achieving his ends. As someone who has been responsible for over 1,000 employees at once, I know that if at any time I spoke to another team member about a different team member's performance, I stood to lose respect from all involved. I hope that this isn't the issue that Terry faces, and perhaps he'll learn a lesson from this situation.

A last point; if Tejada was NOT replacing a "Jose Reyes" AND if this was NOT happening in New York, even in the super-information age, there's no way that this would even make it to the newspapers. It's a slow news period, and so everything in New York sports is under the microscope (it always is - it's even moreso during non-peak periods) - just look at the "Lin-sanity" schtick...and that, in a nutshell, is why it's said that not everyone can function under the truly bright lights of the Big Apple. So let's building this mountain, let it recede to being a molehill, and let the smell of fresh-cut grass and broken in cowhide take over and wait for those two sweet words to be said "PLAY BALL!!"



Jeremiah Alley - There isn't much I disagree with when it comes to Collins' methods, but his handling of Ruben Tejada this spring is not justified.  First of all, Collins comes off as being a tad ignorant, considering everyone and their mother knew that Tejada was having visa issues.  I think I initially read he was having issues close to three weeks ago.  Did Collins have no idea he was having visa issues?  I find that hard to believe.  If he indeed had no idea then he needs to do a better job of knowing.
The second thing that leaves me scratching my head is that what good is a deadline to report to spring training if no one adheres to it?  It is unfair for Collins to hold Tejada to any different standard than any other player in this league, or on the Mets for that matter.  Mets position players are required to report on February 25th.  If Tejada shows up early that is great.  But, he is not required to do so, and it should not be held against him if he does not report early.  It is his right to report on the 25th. 
To me the situation is akin to taking vacation days at a "regular" job, but your employer demanding that you cut your vacation short and report back to work when you have already arrived at your destination.  It does not work like that.  You have earned the time off and that should be respected.  It may be prudent for Collins to recognize that viewpoint.
Erik Hudson  - I think he's handled the situation poorly.  How many times has he expressed to the press how disappointed he is in Tejada for not being there early.  And then he's said he handle it internally.  If you're going to handle it internally, it probably would've have been best to not keep bringing it up to the press.
Maybe Collins didn't express his wishes clearly enough to Tejada.  Maybe it got lost in translation.  Tejada is a young kid, and as far as I know, doesn't have a reputation for having an attitude problem, so I don't think it was something intentional on his part.
I wonder if the union has an issue with this?  This isn't the first time a player has ended up in his dog house for not showing up earlier than they were supposed to.
Every year, there are a number of players that can caught up in visa issues.  You'd think that each team, or maybe MLB, would have people tracking the visa status of these players who reside out of the US in the winter, and make sure the paperwork is submitted on time and properly filled out.




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Toby Hyde...

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Is no longer an employee of the Savannah Sand Gnats
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Head of Surgery and Psychiatry: Sandy Alderson

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By - Jarod Alley               

In a perfect world the New York Mets would be annual competitors in the playoff picture, harvesting young talent and spending their free agent dollars on the most premier talent. Reality though has held a different fate for our lovable losers. We’ve been through multiple questionable trades, reckless free agent spending, a sapped farm system, over exaggerated major league rosters, seasons filled with injuries, an ongoing financial dispute and three different coaches. All of this happened within the last 10 years.

                Yeah, it is tough being a Met fan sometimes, but it’s also tough not to like the Wilpons decision in hiring Sandy Alderson to reign in a team that was looking like it was going to take a very long downward spiral. Even if he were forced upon Fred and Jeff by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, Sandy has been very efficient in re-structuring the seemingly fractured parts and pieces of this team. True, he did let Jose Reyes walk almost without much dialogue but how many of you would have guaranteed Jose…Jose, Jose, Jose  that kind of contract? I know I wouldn’t. Without a solid pitching staff the retention of Reyes combined with Wright, Davis, Murphy and question marks at other positions would seem like a major gamble to put together a World Series caliber team.
           

     One can hardly argue with some of the other decisions he has made too. He’s been signing guys that are very much low risk high reward guys to stitch up vacancies on the team. Last year we saw the resurgent Isringhausen and durable Capuano perform above and beyond expectations both on salaries that amounted to roughly 2.5 million, combined. Also, for the first time in as long as I can remember our Rule 5 draft pick ended up being a very serviceable arm in our bullpen. While Pedro Beato wasn’t a complete success he still proved to be a useful piece out of the bullpen and will be back with the organization since they were able to keep him on the roster all of last year.

                In regards to the minors he’s been active to shape it to his liking as well. Trading Carlos Beltran mid-year for a top pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler helped to gain favor with fans by adding a young phenom arm to go along with Matt Harvey.  In years past the Omar Minaya regime would have clung to their expiring contracts with little hope of making a push into the playoffs thus leaving the club without any return on investment. Instead last year Sandy let Reyes walk saving major cash and gaining an additional draft pick along with the midseason acquisition of Wheeler; two moves that should h elp strengthen a middling minor league system.

                While many of his decisions won’t be known to be truly successful until the next 5-10 years, he has created an environment where competence is not as easily questioned. I for one hope his disinfecting, stitching, splinting and overall medication proves to be the elixir the Mets have been looking for to make this team successful not just in the now but for the foreseeable future as well.
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Looking Ahead To 2014

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I know this is too early, but I couldn’t help looking ahead to the initial 2014 free agent list. There’s a good chance our team will be able to sign a few free agents by then and compliment the current prospects in the system.

Naturally, the best on this list remains 3B David Wright, but here’s a few more:

2B – Robinosn Cano 

GPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPS
2011 Regular Season15962310418846728118389682.302.349.533.882
2011 Postseason5222720292400.318.375.6821.057
Career105341046131263286271446212245082825.308.347.496.843


2B – Chase Utley




GPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPS
2011 Regular Season1033985410321611443947140.259.344.425.769
2011 Postseason5165721013301.438.571.6881.259
Career1109413373111982583418869446271611013.290.377.505.882


CF – Jacoby Ellsbury





GPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPS
2011 Regular Season1586601192124653210552983915.321.376.552.928
Career5072032341611106235223515427617539.301.354.452.807



CF – Curtis Granderson





GPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPS
2011 Regular Season156583136153261041119851692510.262.364.552.916
2011 Postseason5204511134700.250.375.550.925
Career96636286479701687416748541290310429.267.345.493.837



C – Brian McCann





GPABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSBCSAVGOBPSLGOPS
2011 Regular Season128466511261902471578932.270.351.466.817
Career88230683778782002136537331488207.286.358.486.844



SP – Tim Lincecum





GPGSCGSHOIPHRERHRBBSOWLP/GSWHIPBAAERA
2011 Regular Season333311217.0176746615862201314109.21.21.2222.74
Career156155851028.08423693406637911276941106.21.19.2232.98


SP – Josh Johnson




GPGSCGSHOIPHRERHRBBSOWLP/GSWHIPBAAERA
2011 Regular Season990060.13913112205631104.40.98.1851.64
Career12311340725.1642262240452436674823101.11.22.2392.98



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Draft Tuesday

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·         Washington junior outfielder, Michael Camporeale had a career night on Monday in the Huskies 18-6 rout of Cal State Northridge. His 7-RBI night included a grand slam home run, 2-runs scored, and two additional singles in five at-bats.





·         Looks like a third catcher is being to get some exposure in the first round mock drafts. Tom Murphy, the 6-2, 195 University of Buffalo junior has big time power. His defensive skills are limited. Especially his arm accuracy. Through three ganes vs. Kentucky, Murphy is hitting .429/.429/.500.





·         How would you like to be a high school baseball player and you’re the leadoff hitter for your team located in California. You step into the box, tap your bat on the bag, dig in and the opposing pitcher throws the first pitch down the pipe for a strike. At 100 miles per hour.  High school.  WTF?  Well, that’s what Lucas Giolito did Tuesday night to cement the early favorite as the number one pick in the upcoming June draft.  One hundred miles per hour on the first pitch in a high school game. Really?


         Lines:

o   Luc Giolito – 6.1-P, 0-R, 1-H, 8 K, 0-BB, 81 pitches


·         Speed Checks

o   Stanford RHP Mark Appel – 5-96, 91 in 8th,

o   Baylor (2013) RHP Dillon Newman – 88-90, 79-80 change (Mets 2010 49th round pick)

o   UCLA junior 6-4 Scott Griggs – 91-93

o   NC State (2014) Carlos Rodon – 93-95

o   Harvard-Westlake H.S. Luc Giolito – 95-96, 99, 83 slurve, 82 change

o   Texas (2013) RHP Nathan Thornhill – 88-90

o   Harvard-Westlake  Lucas Giolito - 100 vs. ECR

o   Lipscomb (2003) RHP Hunter Brothers – 92-94, 96


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New York Mets: Underdog persona isn't right

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This week in Port St Lucie, New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon handed out orange shirts with the "Underdog U" symbol in blue on them. While many fans and media thought it was considerate and a good rally cry for a highly underestimated team, some players did not embrace it too well. One such player was David Wright.

Wright said "I don't really like using the whole Underdog thing. I don't really like playing that card. I think it's just a way to remind everybody in here that the outside expectations aren't the expectations that we have for ourselves".

I tend to agree with him. More importantly, this is wrong on a much bigger level. Is Wright accurate in his statement? Yes. The expectations outside of the immediate team is a bleak one. Apart from a small faction of overly optimistic fans, the vast majority of Mets fans believe this season will be a total wash.

This is why the players really don't pay much attention to the media and fan chat boards. They must remain focused on the task at hand. There is a bigger issue at work here, however.

These shirts were given out by management. What does it say to the players that the management that got the organization in so much debt that they had to let Jose Reyes walk and cut payroll down under the $100 million mark perceives them as underdogs?

It is this same management that put them in this predicament in the first place. Had they not been foolish with their money, they never would have been in the situation. Now they have embraced being the less fortunate ones and expect their players to do the same?

They should be telling the players they believe in the roster they have without conjuring up some rally cry gimmick. It should be enough to let the players recognize the task at hand and go from there without a word from Mets brass either way on the subject.

Let Terry Collins make the season beginning rally speech and slogan. That's his job. He's the manager. Jeff Wilpon, as COO, your job is to try to help get the team out of debt. Period. Stop trying to be the source of inspiration for a team that is already disgruntled with the hand that you have dealt them.

If this team is a collection of underdogs, it's because of the Mets ownership. The bank doesn't tell the family they just foreclosed on that they should be thankful they are homeless because, after all, now they get to enjoy the fresh outdoor air.

As the source of grief, you don't try to put a positive spin on things out of guilt  or whatever intention you decide to blame it on this week. Have some common sense and let the players play and the coach give the rally cry.

You just write the checks and make sure they don't bounce. Maybe if they did that in the first place, this team wouldn't be underdogs.

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Mack On – David Wright

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photo by Mack Ade
By: Mack Ade

The Ryan Zimmerman extension has caused additional speculation regarding the future of David Wright remaining a Met. Reporters asked him to comment more on this Sunday and he remained on the high road.

No one has a crystal ball here. I think Wright wants nothing to do with Fred Wilpon, but that’s just my speculation. The fact is no one knows what the final outcome will be here.

Someone in the organization said that the Mets want Wright to be the “face of the Mets”. I wish I knew who that was so I could email them and remind him (or her) that he already has been through all the recent crap coming out of the front office.

I’d like to believe that the Madoff mess will be over soon. The minority money coming in should pay most of the utility bills piling up and the team could get back to operating for the future.

It’s hard to believe that the Mets have no contractual dollars on the books in 2015… except for Bobby Bonilla, of course. This may be a combination of trying to break even on the balance sheet and a desire to make headlines in the nation’s number one market.

I’m sure the Mets will pick up Wright’s 2013 option at $13mil, especially if they have any desire to trade him. This would be a very attractive first year contract to a team that would pay him his current value in the market. There’s no one in the organization that comes close to this man’s talent and the only 2014 free agent in this class would be Boston’s Kevin Youkilis (then 35-years old).

I miss my old team.
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Good Morning - Schedule

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Good morning, everyone.

Today is February 29, 2012. It's my brother-in-law Frank's birthday. Technically, he has a birthday every fourth year. I love the concept.

Coming up today:

8am - My take on the David Wright situation

10am - Frank Gray on the "Underdog" t-shirts

12noon - My notes on this past weekend's college and high school games

2pm - I look ahead to key free agents in 2014

4pm - Jarod Alley on Sandy Alderson

6pm - Mack and Company on the Ruben Tejada mess

8pm - #4 Keeper - P Jenrry Mejia
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2/28/12

What Are “Sabermetrics” Part Two

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By - Michael Friere

Last week, part one of this series of articles started with an introduction, followed by a discussion centered around a fairly common pair of statistics called OPS and OPS+ (which are more valuable then the older standard of batting average).
This week I want to look closer at a statistic called BABIP, also known as batting average on balls in play. I am being a bit sneaky by using this statistic, since it can be used to evaluate a batter’s performance, as well as a pitcher’s performance, which makes it quite versatile.

In analyzing OPS and OPS+, we inadvertently discussed batting average, since it is a component of the listed statistical formulas. Batting average (AVG) is basically the number of hits, divided by the number of official at bats (which does not take other things into account, such as reaching base via a walk).
So, when discussing BABIP, a basic understanding of AVG is essential.
Fine, so what the heck is BABIP, why should I care about it and and how does it apply to BOTH batters and hitters?
A more detailed definition would be the percentage of plate appearances ending with a batted ball in play, that is scored a hit (with the exception of home runs which cannot be fielded). For a batter, it is person specific, whereas a pitcher’s BABIP is related to the total number of hitters he has faced.
OK, so how do we actually figure out how to calculate BABIP? The general formula for BABIP = (hits - home runs) divided by (total at bats - strikeouts - home runs + sacrifice flies). The result of the listed calculation should be expressed similar to batting average, i.e. Player A had a BABIP of .325 for 2011.
To make further sense of the statistic, a BABIP around .300 is considered the average, or the norm for the player in question. That number can fluctuate from player to player, or even season to season. Certain factors, such as the ballpark (think Coors Field versus Citi Field) or if the pitcher is a ground ball or fly ball pitcher, can have a modest effect on the average. However, a BABIP of .300 is considered a benchmark, sort of like 100 is the average for OPS+
Knowing how to generate the BABIP and what is considered a “good” BABIP is fine. You won’t hear opposing fans arguing over who has a better BABIP, necessarily and most casual observers won’t even know what it is.
But, you should care because it is an excellent statistic to see if a specific player is overachieving or underachieving for a specific period of time. That is extremely helpful when general managers are trying to figure out who to sign and who to pass on, whether it is your own free agent, or a player from another team that is now available.
Plus, we all know that Sandy and Co are statistically inclined and they absolutely love finding the diamond in the rough, i.e. the undervalued asset. BABIP is a valuable tool when trying to assess a player’s current performance and what they may do in the near future.
Here is scenario for you to consider. Player A, a free agent short stop, has been in the major leagues for seven seasons and has averaged a BABIP of .305 for the first six years of his career. The player had what some call a “career year” or “contract year” in year seven and produced elevated statistics with regards to batting average, on base percentage and OPS (all directly or indirectly influenced by BABIP).
Further analysis shows a BABIP in year seven of .365, or sixty “points” higher then the previous six year career average. Odds are Player A simply benefitted from good fortune in year seven and his statistics will drop sharply in the future, when the BABIP regresses to the mean (returns to the previously established average).
Paying that player for the past year, or expecting that sort of performance in the future is unlikely. As a matter of fact, that is a perfect candidate for a future label of “free agent bust” because they overachieved and they are overvalued.
How about another scenario? Player B, a free agent pitcher, has a ten year track record of success, to include an average BABIP of .295 over that time. The past two seasons, the pitcher’s statistics and overall performance have dropped suddenly. Ruling out age and injury factors, you see that the pitcher’s BABIP over the past two years averaged .345, which is fifty “points” above the previously established average.
Could an increase in BABIP of fifty “points” have a negative effect on a pitcher’s stats? Yes and it is an often overlooked statistic.
In that vein, Player B is a good candidate to “bounce back” in the coming years since it makes more sense to look at ten years of consistently low BABIP, versus a short term increase. When that player’s BABIP regresses to the mean, the corresponding statistics will also improve. That player has underachieved and is undervalued. Just the sort of player that Sandy would be on the prowl for.
Keep in mind, BABIP is only one tool in the evaluation process. It cannot forecast things like age, injuries and unrelated improvement. In the first scenario, maybe Player A dedicated himself to a fitness program and his performance improved as a result? Or, in the second scenario, maybe our undervalued asset is simply getting old and his overall performance is suffering as a result.
While it does have shortcomings, BABIP is a neat statistic and one that I am sure is being used in our very own front office. You can use it to make your own assessments on players the Mets may be interested in, or current Mets’ players who are on the brink of potentially being replaced.
Since I am sure some fans are curious, Player A listed above is not Jose Reyes, rather an imaginary example I made up. However, since some of you are curious, Jose Reyes has a career BABIP of approximately .314 (helped in some part by his insane speed leading to extra hits on balls that would be outs for slower players). In 2011, Jose had a BABIP of .357 (and that is after slumping a bit in the second half of the year), which is approximately .043 “points” above his average. Think that had anything to do with his batting title and .337 average?
If Jose regresses in the future, and I think that is likely since an increase of .043 is unsustainable, future BABIP’s in line with his career average would still yield a solid batting average in the upper .290’s, with a corresponding drop in the other related statistics. Very good player? Yes, of course. Overvalued, injury prone and getting older (especially for a player who relies on his legs so much)? Sadly, yes. Worth a long term, nine figure contract? Not if I am in charge of pulling the trigger.
Feel free to use BABIP for other Mets players, such as Angel Pagan, David Wright, Mike Pelfrey, etc. It may help shed some light on what will be an interesting offseason of player movement.

Random Thoughts
Do you see what kind of damage walks can do? A very costly walk in the bottom of the ninth inning, in Game Six, is one of the main reasons Texas does not have the trophy. I thought Armando Benitez snuck his way into the Rangers’ bullpen for a minute. Make the batter beat you, don’t give him a free pass, ever.
David Freese looks like a good, young player for the Cardinals. He certainly picked the right time to blossom. Allan Craig too, for that matter.
Anyone think Albert Pujols will get thirty million per year in his next deal? He may not get the length of contract that AFraud got, but Albert will most certainly pass him in annual value.
Despite the fact that the Mets and Cardinals are no longer in the same division, I still can’t bring myself to root for them. The battles in the mid to late 80’s were too intense and I just can’t do it, dirty Red Birds!
Lastly, is anyone else bothered by the fact that the Wilpons have yet to pay back the 25 million dollar loan to MLB? How the hell can the Mets afford to do anything this offseason when they still owe Bud Selig money? If things are that bad Fred, sell the team already!

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The Keepers - #3 - P - Jeurys Familia

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3.             SP Jeurys Familia


“Family” signed with the Mets during the October 2007 International signing period. 2008 was spent with with the GCL Mets, where he went 2-2, 2.79, 1.14 in 11 starts. He quickly became the dean of the staff.
In 2009, Familia pitched for the Savannah Sand Gnats: 10-6, 2.69, 1.16, 109-K, 134.0-IP.
His two year professional stats are: 12-8, 2.72, 1.16
1-1-10 Forecast: - Nothing but blue sky for the 19-year old, but his job is just beginning. We’ve seen many a pitcher do well in rookie and A ball, only to fade away by the time they compete AA. Familia definitely loos like the real deal, but it is too early to tell. He’ll rotate with his Sand Gnat buddies for a new coach in Florida and we wish him well.
5-22-10: - SP Jeurys Familia: Famila started off the season with a horrendous outing in which he gave up 7-ER in 3.2-IP (17.18). Four outings later, he’s worked his ERA down to 7.06, but he definitely has settled down his last two outings, giving up only 3-ER in 9.0-IP. You won’t see him pitching for anyone other than St. Lucie this season. One good sign is his K/IP ratio has remained high (23-Ks in 21.2-IP). He’s only 20-years old so there’s plenty of time. (update… five more decent innings tonight, giving up only one run…)
6-22-10: - Familia has had a tough time this season and some have speculated that he might be returning to Savannah to get his game together; however, he put together a good outing Monday night, with stats of: 6.2-IP, 1-ER, 7-K, 3-BB. His yearly ERA is now 6.16 and this was especially a heart breaker, since it was a 7-inng game. Jeurys was one out away from a complete game victory, but was relieved and the game was lost eventually to Bradenton. Bad game, but good outing.
6-28-10: - Giving up three earned runs in 6.1-IP may not be considered the best of outings, but it’s a good one for Familia, who’s been struggling all year long. He struck out five, but walked four. Regardless of the tough year, he still is considered a top pitching prospect

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Sabermetrics

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By:  Mack Ade 

Can you write a book about baseball and not devote a chapter to sabermetrics?

Bill James, known as the father of sabermetrics which he started to formulate in the 70s through his series of Baseball Abstracts[i] essays. So much of what we today call sabermetrics is accredited to people like James, but did you know that the two people who invented the calculation for OBP, were Branch Rickey and Allen Roth, who worked for Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s?

Also, some purists accredit Johns Hopkins engineering professor Earnshaw Cook as being the saber-daddy. In 1964, Cook wrote Percentage Baseball[ii], which began as a thesis to prove that Ty Cobb was a better player than Babe Ruth. It also was the first baseball book to integrate advanced mathematics into baseball theory. Most of baseball thought Hopkins was bonkers and even James wrote later that it was his opinion that everything Hopkins had written was flawed.

If you want, we can go back to 1916 when someone named F.C. Lane invented a formula for determining a players' run value:

                   total run value= (.30*1B) + (.60*2B) + (.90*3B) + (1.15*HR)

Many feel this was the foundation on what people like Henry Chambers, Cook, Roth, and James develop over the years. Others feel they were just random math-heads that were looking for additional ways to evaluate the value of an individual baseball player.

James defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball. His first book, Baseball Abstract: Featuring 18 Categories of Statistical Information That You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else (1977) was copied on a mimeograph machine and hand stapled before mailing. You can find some of the early 1980s printings on EBAY, but the 70s printings are extremely rare. He wrote it while working as a night watchman.

The 1977 printing was dominated by monthly statistics on the 1976 pros.  Everyday player stats were games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and batting average. Pitchers were broken out monthly for wins, losses.

Other subjects covered in that classic publication were the separation of errors by throwing and catching, the number of home runs a pitcher throws per 100 innings, and which pitchers draw the most crowds.



It took a while, but, by the early 1980s Bill James was becoming a household word in the offices of baseball executives. He eventually was hired (2003) by the Boston Red Sox and continues to sit upon the sabermetrics throne.



I have mixed thoughts on all this.



Don’t get me wrong. I love statistics and I believe it is the only way you can separate the best from the rest. I just wonder if we’re all starting to go a little too far in this area.



My favorite is OPS. You add the on base percentage of a player with their slugging percentage. What a simply stroke of genius. But, do I really care how many walks a player had after having two strikes on them with the wind blowing at least 20MPH and the food vendor named Maury was taking a shit when the pitch was made?



There has to still be a place in this game for gut feeling. I hated the way the movie, Moneyball, made all the Oakland Athletics’ scouts look like some ancient mariners of the game. I know many of these scouts. They work very hard and are experts of the game. In addition, many are ex-professional baseball players that have played the game most (or all) of the sabermetric geeks only watched from afar.



I’m not writing this to tell stories, but I want to tell you about a ballplayer named  Maikel Cleto. He pitched for the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2008. A quiet kid, Cleto really didn’t do anything that special that year: 25-G, 22-ST, 5-11, 4.25, 135.2-IP, 81-K. He also pitched for one of the worst minor league teams ever assembled on the same field; however, if you were assigned to scout the team when he pitched, you learned very quickly that:



1.     He would sit 94-95 throughout his entire outing

2.     He had serious drop on the fastball as well

3.     He was an “innings eater” (averaged 6.4-IP per outing in A-ball)

4.     He was doing all this at 19-years old.



These simply weren’t things you would learn reading a stat-sheet somewhere in front of some computer. There was more.



I attended every Savannah home game that year and sat behind home plate with the scouts. As the season wore on, it became quite apparent that Cleto had a scout following. By the time he pitched his last game for Savannah (before being promoted to St. Lucie), there were well over double the amount running their guns while Maikel pitched.



You see, even if you couldn’t figure out on your own that this kid had a big ceiling, the traffic around him made you look twice.



Cleto wound up being packaged that December in the deal that brought J.J. Putz, Sean Green, and Jeremy Reed. Trust me. He never would have been in that deal without a first-hand report by a scout that sat with me. And yes, he made it to the majors in September 2011.



You’re just not going to see stuff like this on a stat sheet. Also, we always talk about recognizing a player for having talent. In truth, the job of a scout is to also recognize those that don’t have what it takes to make it all the way.



This is important. The percentage of minor league players that make it big in the pros is well below 10%. So, the major job of every scout is to identify the players that have no chance of making it. It is one thing to get credit for someone that plays big, but being the guy that was responsible for a team to trade for a bust, is a resume builder.



We’ll spend more time on this subject later.

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