The Morning Report – 1-22 – Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Star vs. Prospect


After the Nationals are done paying Max Scherzer, the Mets will still owe Bobby Bonilla about $8 million

An interesting Detroit sidebar[i]

Throughout the offseason, many baseball observers expected Max Scherzer to return to the Detroit Tigers because of owner Mike Ilitch's history of signing Scott Boras clients -- particularly late in the offseason. The notable January and February news conferences: Ivan Rodriguez (2004), Magglio Ordonez (2005), Johnny Damon (2010) and Prince Fielder (2012). But Scherzer never came close to joining that list. Here is a major reason: None of the aforementioned players turned down a $144 million contract offer from Ilitch the previous spring, as Scherzer did in March 2014. And it's very likely that Scherzer's $144 million tender was the largest final offer rejected by an Ilitch employee in more than 50 combined seasons of Tigers and Red Wings ownership. After Scherzer said no to that sum, sources say Ilitch never became fully re-engaged in trying to retain him -- financially and perhaps emotionally, as well.

Mack – Well, I guess in the long run walking away was the good move made by Ilitch since the final deal struck was 47% higher than the one the Tigers offered 10 months ago.

You have to give Scott Boras all the credit in the world. He’s the Johnny Cochran of the baseball agent business.

I never like it when I read that one of the New York Mets starters is already being written about becoming a ‘bust’. Fangraphs[ii] had this to say about Jacob deGrom

Despite starting just 22 games and only throwing 140 innings, deGrom finished as the 35th best fantasy starter last year. Among the 107 starters with 140+ IP, deGrom’s 2.69 ERA ranked 16th and his 25.5% K% ranked 10th. He’s going 27th among starters, so it seems like drafters are expecting a similar level of performance, maybe slightly worse, with a higher inning total. But Steamer is expecting quite a bit of a decline as he comes in 60th in the projection rankings.
Like Ventura, Steamer is projecting a very similar regression in strand rate for deGrom, which might lead us to expect Steamer to project deGrom’s ERA to be what his SIERA was last year (3.19). But Steamer is also projecting a big decline in strikeout rate, all the way to 21%, which is probably why his ERA projection is 3.93. Why? I’m not exactly sure. I ran deGrom’s numbers through Podhorzer’s expected K% formula, and his xK% of 25.1% last year was very much in line with his actual K%. His strikeout rate did not taper as the months went on last year, and his strikeout rate in the second half was quite a bit higher than it was in the first half. I don’t see the reason for the significant drop in K%, and thus, I’m with the drafters on this one.

Mack – Steamer… SIERA… Podhorzer… how come all these dudes can predict things and their projections are never questions pre-season, yet old war horses like me that have seen this kid pitch can tell you one thing… he knows how to get batters out.

Comment From DerpyDan - Could you see Strasburg going to the mets for syndergaard and a complimentary player?

Jeff Sullivan: I think there’s the skeleton of something that could be reasonable, but the Nats are going to look to move Strasburg for a surer bet who can help right away. Someone *like* Bogaerts or Betts, but available and maybe a tiny bit worse

Mack – Hmm… if Syndergaard could actually open the trading doors this wide, then why are waisting so much time NOT trading someone who has still produced nothing for this parent team?
Are you trying to tell me that a Strasburg deal for Syndergaard would be in the worst interest of this team?

Another thing about Syndergaard.

I have the upmost respect for Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola, who I had the pleasure of meeting, interviewing, and watching him work in Savannah. I can’t imagine a pitching coach having more success than he has had over the past couple of years.

Dan Martin over at the NY Post[iii] wrote about how Viola got to Las Vegas late this past year due to his own health problems and, the first thing he noticed about what Syndergaard was doing was relying too much on his fastball. You’re not going to be a successful starter in major league baseball without three decent pitches and throwing a 92-95mph fastball all the time in the PCL League is no big deal.

Lastly, let’s try to remember this is a high school kid and last season would have been his freshman year in college.

A question has been bothering me lately that I want to throw out to you in a two-part.
For starts, I know that the 2015 Mets are in a transition period when it comes to trying to secure seasoned, established players/regulars/stars of the game or high ceiling prospects, which has been the direction the team has chosen in the recent, Sandy Alderson past (I know… there’s Granderson and Cuddyer, but you know what I mean).
My question is –

1.     Does this team continue to grow talent wise by, first, securing high ceiling prospect either through trades (Wheeler), the International market (Molina), or the draft (Nimmo, Conforto, Plawecki).

2.     And, what is your opinion on someone with the talent, experience, stats, and age of, let’s say, a player like Ian Desmond, or a top prospect with all the tools that has done nothing yet at the major league level… let’s say Noah Syndergaard. Don’t let money influence your opinion here and the names Desmond and Synergaard are just being used as examples of established starts and high ceiling prospects.

Just curious.


Thomas Brennan said...

How about a "podcast" and we toss out Podhorzer's baloney on deGrom...please watch the kid pitch. So his ERA will match Gee's 2014? Nonsense.

I go back and forth on trading a Syndergaard. With so much pitching coming up behind him, if Desmond were not in the Division, talent for talent I'd do it. Those pitchers may not be as elite as Thor, but lose a little pitching, add some hitting, I'm good with that.

I just posted earlier this AM, one approach I'd take is all bats in higher rounds - unless a pitching gem sits there too good to pass up - we have enough pitching in the system for at least 5 years RIGHT NOW. Get bats thru the draft. And internationally. BATS, BATS, BATS

Ernest Dove said...

Steamer also predicted in 2014 that Lagares would hit .248 and Duda would hit 12 homers, one more than Chris Young would hit....................

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

I beg every day that I find something someone wrote about other than the same subjects I keep coming up with.

Lew Rhodes said...

On projection systems - let's remember they are just that - projections.

They use historical statistics to predict likely future results.

And that is the rub - the more data you have the more accurate your projection system. Meaning, projection systems are going to be weaker for young players and much better for a guy with 5+ years of data to use.

STEAMER is a great system for a guy who has a few healthy years under his belt and isn't coming off an injury or entering into a decline phase.

This is the rub with the projection systems as they relate to deGrom, and in his case, the data in is impacting his projections.

First, deGrom has limited MLB time to use, so the systems have to use his minor league data - this creates more noise in the projection because the minor league stats have to be translated to major league stats.

Second - and this is why deGrom's projections are poor - his minor league strike out rate was low until the last year or so in the minors - particularly his K% of LHH. I read an article somewhere recently that showed his LHH K-rate doubled from A ball to AAA.

So, since STEAMER uses multiple year data, it is factoring in his early minor league career numbers and under selling him.

Also, many people writing about him do not fully get his history - this guy didn't become a full time pitcher until his last year in college. He was way behind in his pitching knowledge until he was hitting AA/AAA.

When you look at deGrom as a pitcher, you have to equate him more with the knowledge of 22 year old instead of a 26 year old - if you read any interviews with him, he will tell you he didn't have much "feel" for pitching until he started to hit AAA.

So, STEAMER can go suck it when it comes to deGrom - anyone expecting major regression on him is going to be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Morning Mack:
There's a saying I heard once.
Build the Arms and Buy the bats.
Once a pitcher has reached FA in my opinion he is already on the downside,except the Starters who come up early 20's,like King Felix or Kershaw.
So while your starting staff is cheap,you supplement them with Bats who are getting paid more.
But wherever this goes meaning the off season? I think it would be foolish to trade a 1 year SS at lots of money, for 7 years of a cheap Starting pitcher.
I am optimistic , but I think the Mets are still in a good position!
For 2015 and the future.


Richard Jones said...

Any projected decline for deGrom is based on a personal gut feeling and not any kind of evidence.
My feeling is he will have a slight decline because the league will adjust to him. He will still be deGrom and unless there is an injury he will be a very effective and successful pitcher in 2015 and that part of it is a fact and not a feeling.
As far as Syndergaard goes we do know that there have been offers for him. Mainly Short Stops that aren't any better than Flores or Tejeda. Other proposed trades were larger and we don't know the details. Syndergaard will be a good major league pitcher and that is fact. He has a good chance to be an all-star type pitcher. He shouldn't be untradable but he shouldn't be traded for a rental or someone who is not a significant upgrade to what we already have or could get as a free agent.

Mack Ade said...

Lew -

You know my thoughts on all projections tools like Steamer,

They still haven't come up with a 2-outs, 2-on, bottom of the home 9th situation with 30,000 screaming fans (which I could have said 40,000)

Lew Rhodes said...

Mack -

For your question at the end, I see those two worlds instead of being mutually exclusive, they are phases.

The first step is building a strong foundation of high ceiling guys - if you grab 20 guys with high ceilings, you only really need 2 to hit on their potential.

You cannot build sustainable success without developing the minor league system to support it.

Then, once you have a strong system, you use that system to add ML talent.

You trade off some of your prospect talent to add ML talent.

The key is, however, you can't lose sight of feeding the minor league system, because ultimately it will run dry if you don't keep adding to it.

The archetype of this is the 90's - 00's Braves. They built a fantastic system, and when they got strong on the MLB front, they traded their prospects for the ML talent that they needed.

And they had an amazing long term run.

Even the 90's Yankees are an example - they built the strong internal foundation and then added the ML pieces around that foundation.

The Mets now have the foundation in place - they need to find the ML pieces to build around this foundation.

The problem has been that the ML pieces haven't been there - I think if Tulo had been healthy, I think Alderson would have gone hard after him with 4-5 top prospects - the problem is the Rockies wanted that same haul for damaged goods.

My hope is that this off season the Mets go all in on Heyward - forget Desmond, I think whoever signs Desmond is going to be disappointed.

You put Heyward in RF and at lead-off, and this whole team becomes stellar.

Then, the prospects can be either used, traded for other ML talent or traded for younger prospects to feed the system.

I truly believe that this team is "THAT CLOSE" to be a legitimate contender - they just need one stud player via FA or trade.

The one thing Alderson has done is kept the payroll at a level where they can afford to sign the one big difference maker if he becomes available.

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

Well Thomas, you more than anyone here understands the goal of my Morning Report

Mack Ade said...

Anon - Steve

good point

Lew Rhodes said...

Mack - I don't think you should roundly dismiss projection systems.

Just as people shouldn't hold them as Gospel.

They are like any other statistical analysis - the projection is only as strong as the data input.

If you give me a 28 year old player who has 5 years of ML experience and no injuries, I bet his projection has an 85% degree of certainty.

You get guys with less experience (deGrom, Duda, Lagares, Flores) and their projections are going to be low confidence and likley undersell them.

Guys coming of recent injuries (Wright, Granderson, Cuddyer, Harvey) they could go either way, but again, the project will have low confidence because it has weak data.

I like the projections, they try to factor out noise like a fluky, super high BABIP, but they are limited.

My issue is people who bank on them - they are just one part of the tool in looking at a player.

Anonymous said...

i am not shocked that there are predictions of regression for deGrom, but not as drastic. I agree with Lew that they take into account minor league performance because of small sample size in majors, but also that he has an excellent fastball, but not the elite secondary stuff of Harvey or Strausberg, so there might be thinking of a league catch up on him. Why wait to trade Thor? Two reasons I can think of: 1. There is a reasonable expectation that he will graduate with success to the majors and once he does, he value goes up and can return more with less going with him; 2. the real targets are likely Russell, Profar or Boogerts, but they all need time to see who will be the best choice. If Thor comes up with a bang, he will be enough to get anyone of them and probably have your choice. Since he has not yet pitched in the majors, trading partners can still discount his value as a hypothetical talent. If you believe he will come out hot, it totally makes sense to wait and you also get the benefit of seeing who the best SS would be to acquire. Just a thought
Anon Joe F

Reese Kaplan said...

@Lew "The one thing Alderson has done is kept the payroll at a level where they can afford to sign the one big difference maker if he becomes available."

I have to disagree. I think Alderson's mandate is to keep payroll under $100 million. Consequently until he finds takers for the likes of Colon, Murphy and Gee his budget is nearly maxed out.

Thomas Brennan said...

As far as these projections go, thanks to Lew for explaining the rationale on deGrom.

When you watch video highlights of him, you are reminded his stuff is simply incredible. Overpowering.

I also, as a side note, watched some Harvey video clips from 2013 yesterday. WOW, it also was incredible and reignited my excitement for Harvey in 2015. He was lethal and only suppressed by a lousy pen and lousy offense. You watch clips of both, and then of Gee, and there is no comparison.

To those who say Jake will regress, that the league will adjust, I disagree. After 7 starts last year, his ERA was 4.39. Thereafter, as you would assume some "adjustment" should have been occurring, he was 2.16 over his last 100 innings, with 110 Ks. It seems HE adjusted, and moved to "superior", and the league could not counter his surge to superiority.

He could win Cy Young this year. That's my projection.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure he has a mandate of that number going forward, maybe over the past few years, but I think it is going to creep up as they start paying out ARB raises. I do think he has the budget for one difference maker and the talent for another at league minimum like Russell, Profar or Boogerts. I have no doubt that Gee, Colon and Murphy will be moved and really believe that Niese will be gone when Matz is ready, so that covers all ARB raises and some next year and then you have Cuddyer coming off after 2016 and Grandy after 2017, so you can add a player after this year. My preference would be for one of the SS, at the expense of Thor being replaced by Montero as the #5 and then sign Heyward to play RF next year. Payroll would still only be marginally over $100, with ARB raises being paid for by MC and Grandy coming off and additional payroll expenditures. I have said many times that I think the 2015 payroll is as much about the payroll from 2016-2020 than it is simply about next year
Anon Joe F

Christopher Soto said...

Sorry to change topics folks....but this just came across the desk....

According to Baseball America's Ben Badler....in regards to Yoan Moncada.

Whatever amount of money he ends up getting (lets assume $30M signing bonus) this is how it will have to be paid out.

After signing, the winning Club must pay the penalty tax by the upcoming June 15th. So based on the signing bonus its a $30m check right off the bat.

The bonus does not have to be paid in full immediately but can only be spread across 3 years. So an Avg Annual hit of $10M per season for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Knowing this info.....it's very likely that the Mets HAVE the money to sign Moncada.....but do not have the WORKING CAPITAL or FREE CASH FLOW to afford the signing.

Hobie said...

@ Lew--re. "... I bet his projection has an 85% degree of certainty."

I don't know what that means and I am familiar "sampling" and "Confidence Interval"... as per pre-election polling for example.

What these schemes seem to be (interesting as they are), in an election prediction analogy, is they take the history of a an election district as the predictive engine. That has some value, but gathering opinions on this year's candidates and anticipated choices are really more relevant

Lew Rhodes said...

@Reese - We will have to agree to disagree on the Mets' budget - I haven't seen a true difference maker as a need position (Scherzer doesn't count) available for money only yet. (Moncado could be the test)

@Hobie - I think it is similar, but baseball has more pure statistical outcomes with less emotion - they know from decades of data that XX% of ground balls become outs and from thousands of players over time that the average for BABIP is around .300 or so.

Those help solidify your predictions - election results have more human emotion influence.

But, I generally think they are similar.

Here is the rub when you control for your data input - you now introduce human judgment and human error.

That's why I like the stats only models and then lay the fact variations (age, injury, contract year, etc.) on top of the predcitions

Anonymous said...

Lew I like your thinking.
Like i've said build the arms ,and buy the bats.
So going forward even if the Mets trade 4 or 5 top prospects to get Tulo? They should sign Heyward.
Buy the bats.
Plus losing Murphy for Herrera will give the lineup , 1 less lefty bat. But I wouldn't hit Heyward leadoff


Reese Kaplan said...


Some difference makers available this year who changed teams (and would have been preferable to the oft-injured 36 year old DH we signed):

Hanley Ramirez
Matt Kemp
Wil Myers
Melky Cabrera
Yoenis Cespedes
Brandon Moss
Yasmany Tomas
Pablo Sandoval (Wright can do a Chipper and move to the OF)
Josh Donaldson (ditto)

bob gregory said...

can we add:

bob gregory said...

controversial thought:

Could the Wilpons actually be answering to Alderson and not the other way around?

Just look at how different the Wilpons have been acting/behaving over the past few years, compared to how they acted/behaved before.
Jeff used to be much more involved and vocal, his father to a lesser degree.

Can such a drastic change be completely accounted for by the Ponzi scheme loss of money that has proven to be far less severe then anticipated?

Lew Rhodes said...

@Reese - Most of the folks on your list were trades, not FA signings.

Same for your names bob - they were trades, and from within the Division to boot.

You can't value trades just on money - the cost of the trade chips plus the money make it a different value.

Could we have done better than Cuddyer? Sure - I would have preferred Rios. But, I don't see the Cuddyer signing being a bad one.

I feel like many folks are conflating dollars with value.

Is Melky better than Cuddyer? Sure, is he an extra year and $21 mm better? I am not so sure.

Matt Kemp and Hanley Remirez were true difference makers 4 years ago - not today.

Next winter if Upton, Heyward, Cespedes, Desmond (who is good at the right price), maybe Gordon, McLouth
are available and we don't go after any - then I would have to agree.

The only stud FA's this year were pitchers, and that wasn't what we needed.

By the way - Wright isn't moving the LF anytime soon - especially for the Panda - as bad as Wright was last year, his WAR was less than 1.0 behind Sandoval and two years ago Wright was more than 2 WAR better.

Donaldson is a different case, but I think I would move him to LF instead of Wright

Lew Rhodes said...

Bob- I don't think Sandy controls the Wilpons, but I think he has a lot more influence on them because of his ties to Selig - remember he was Selig's pick to be the Mets GM, so Sandy speaks with the voice of a guy with a lot of influence on the Wilpons.

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

The Wilpons have placed the running of their baseball organization in the hands of Alderson and have taken a step back since the day SA arrived

bob gregory said...


I agree....it certainly seems that way.

Now, did the Wilpons (especially Jeff) ever seem like they would take this approach to the drastic degree they have?

Did they on their own change everything about themselves, going so out of character all by themselves?

In my experience, it is very rare that someone would change so much about their own personality and ways of doing things all on their own.

Mack's Mets © 2012