The Morning Report: 2.19.2015 | Bounceback Seasons, Closer Role, WAR improvement, Projections on Duda and Lagares


  • First thing's first...This season I will be attending 6 Binghamton Mets games. I hope to be able to chat a bit with a player at each game and to do as much in person analysis as I can. I also hope that the schedule falls in such a way that I will get the chance to see a different starter each time. I will be at the April 18th, May 16th, June 13th, July 18th, August 8th, and September 5th games if any readers in the Upstate New York area wish to join.
Now on to the Morning Report.

(Chris Soto: To be fair....Goldschmidt is not exactly a rebound...He was having a monster season before he got hurt. As for Wright, you guys realize that he can surpass last year's production with just 2 good months? Even if he's only 80% of the player he used to be at his best, that is still a Top 5 MLB 3B due to the position becoming so weak. After Donaldson, Seager, and Rendon [Arenado is pretty good too] the rest of the field is pretty average.)

Adam Rubin | ESPN New York - " Bobby Parnell indicated that he has not been promised anything directly by manager Terry Collins. Still, Parnell expects to assume his former closer's role immediately after being activated from a season-opening stint on the disabled list. Collins has suggested during the offseason that the closer's job should revert to Parnell when he is ready. Parnell doesn't expect to need to be eased back into the role at the major league level, either."

(Chris Soto: Look I like that Parnell is determined to come back in Day 1 and start dominating people in the 9th inning.....but that's just not the case. Injuries take time to come back from especially elbow injuries. I personally think that Mejia's is a better fit as a closer than Parnell. We saw it last season, whenever Mejia WAS NOT in a save situation, he struggled to find that energy and bulldogness than he uses as a weapon. Parnell is more calm, cool and collected which is a better multi situational  fit.)

Mark Simon | ESPNNewYork.com “The Mets are talking a good game in the days leading up to spring training. GM Sandy Alderson made news last week when he set a 10-win improvement as a target for 2015. This fits in well with our annual look at what the Mets need from their players (from a statistical perspective) to be a playoff team. The Mets finished 2014 with 29.6 wins above replacement (WAR). That ranked 19th in the majors (they ranked 16th in wins). A 10-win improvement is roughly the equivalent of a 10-WAR improvement. A 10-WAR improvement from 2014 would give the Mets 39.6 WAR this season. Nine teams got at least that much WAR from their rosters in 2014. All nine won at least 88 games. The average win total among them was 91.8. Eight of those teams made the playoffs, the one exception being the Mariners, who were eliminated on the season’s final day (a scenario Mets fans know well).” 

(Herb G: Simon’s article makes an interesting read. (Click on the red link above to read the full article.) His point is that an additional 10 WAR in 2015 would likely result in the Mets making it to the post season. He then goes on to show how the Mets could do just that, defining the WAR of each member of the team required to get to a total of 40. His scenario involves both Wright and Harvey coming back healthy, deGrom and d’Arnaud merely repeating their 2014 performance, Wheeler continuing to develop, Flores doing what the pundits predict for him, Cuddyer and Granderson being better than mediocre, and a few other things. When you look at it point by point, it does not seem unreasonable. Lets Go Mets!)

Steve Schrieber | Amazin' Avenue - "What can Duda do in 2015 to improve? While a repeat of his 2014 season would certainly suffice for the Mets, cutting down a bit more on the strikeouts would likely help him push his batting average and on base percentage up to more superficially appealing levels. As it is, Duda improved his strikeout rate by 4% from 2013, a large gain in and of itself, but outside of his excellent 2011 when he struck out at just an outlier 16.4% rate, Duda has never lived below the 20% range.

(Chris Soto: As much as I want Duda to success...I recognize how difficult it is to be an offensive player in the MLB nowadays. 1B is actually the one area on the team I expect to regress in 2015. Not because Duda isn't playing well, it more based on the fact that I just don't think he gets to 30 HR again. Right handed pitchers are going to pitch around him a bit more so I would safely say 25-27 is a good number with some more doubles. I also think a healthy David Wright is going to steal some of his RBI production.)

Brian Joura | Mets 360 - "Only an extreme pessimist doubts Lagares’ defensive chops at this point in time. Not only is there seemingly no concern about his ability to hit MLB pitching, all indications are that he will serve as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2015, even with his career .295 OBP against RHP. While most of Lagares’ offensive gains in 2014 can be traced directly to his BABIP, one area where he made a noticeable improvement was in the running game. Will a move to the top of the order indicate Lagares will run even more in 2015?

(Chris Soto: Brian correctly points out that Lagares did have a .341 BABIP in 2014 and that did lead to a higher than expected batting average. The crew over there is expecting a .270/.320/.370 slash line which is a bit worse than last year. However, they are also expecting an uptick in HRs and SBs so the two ends of the spectrum balance each other out. Frankly, I'm ok with a .270 avg but that OBP needs to be a bit higher if Lagares wants to stick in that leadoff role.)


Ernest Dove said...

I just see Lagares as a guy who will keep improving in ALL areas.
He might eventually become an annual all star. ...
And my heart of hearts sees Brandon Nimmo as being the same type of hard working guy in the near future.

Anonymous said...

All the empty talk about bullpen roles is dumb. I get that Parnell wants to return as a closer, but, dude, all that will work itself out on the field. Just come back and get outs.

I'm not sold on Mejia -- felt his stuff got progressively less nasty as the season wore on -- but for now he's got the job.

I've managed a lot of games at many levels, from men's hardball to farm league, and one of my guiding insights was that a manager doesn't determine who plays where: the players do. They show me who is the shortstop, who is the closer, etc. It is not so much a decision as it is a REVELATION. Who is going to be the closer? These guys will show us on the mound. Right now, Mejia gets first shot. Meanwhile, I'm not even convinced Parnell will go all the way back in 2015.

James Preller

eraff said...

The Players make the decisions... well put as you expressed it Jim.

Thankfully, Bats and balls and arms and legs start talking Loudly very soon!!!

Even the Hotstove is getting chilly---time for Baseball!!!

Lew Rhodes said...

I think a 10 WAR improvement is very, very reasonable for the Mets.

Here is where I think they can pick it up:

Wright healthy vs. injured - + 2.0
Flores vs. Tejada - +1.0
Cuddyer vs. LF mess - +3.0 (even if missing time)
Harvey vs. Gee - +3.0
deGrom full year - +1.0
MDD vs. EY - +1.5
Duda not playing against LHP - +0.5
Better Pen in April - +2.0 WAR
(Germen, Valverde,Lannan, and Rice had a -1.8 WAR mostly in April)

Better Bench - +1.0
(Abreau, Satin, Teagarden gave a -1.0)

That's +15 WAR, and I think that is conservative on several fronts.

Wright had a 5.8 WAR in 115 games in 2013 vs. a 2.8 last year - if he hits like 2013 and plays 140 games, we are looking a 6 WAR again.

This doesn't include any improvement by Granderson, Lagares, or d'Arnaud - who all should get better.

Granderson's WAR will increase even if he hits the same as he is moving from RF to LF - his defense will get better.

Anyone who is looking beyond the "names" in the Mets lineup would realize that this is a pretty solid team.

James Preller said...

This is not a criticism of anybody, but as a long time fan -- one who read Bill James in the 80s, etc. -- I simply cannot get into looking at WAR numbers on a spreadsheet, doing the math, and projecting the season.

It doesn't make sense to me, reducing the game to all that dubious mathematical mumbo-jumbo. I just don't have the degree of faith required in the all-great cumulative statistic.

And it's not much fun, either. Play ball!

eraff said...

Sure---the Guy with the Lifetime 633 OPS is a 1.5 win add...and Cuddy ADDS 3, even though he's had just ONE season above 3...and The Post Surgical Patient (aka Matt Harvey) is slotting right back to Cy Young Level.


AMEN to "Play Ball!!!!!"

Thomas Brennan said...

I think if Harvey was back to Harvey circa 2013, he'd add 8 WAR over Gee for a full season, so 3 WAR is a reasonable assumption / guess. Won't know until "play ball" but Lew's WAR projections are similar to mine for this team, as outlined in this week's and last week's TB articles.

Lagares - I never expect he'll be Roberto Clemente, but in the past I made the point that the early Roberto was no better than Lagares, and once Roberto matured (about 5 years in) and played in a more compact park that the Forbes National Park, he became ROBERTO - much better than the earlier version.

I do not look at 2014 as Lagares' peak - I'd not be surprised to see him improve offensively over the next few years, adding some more power. Plus speed this year.

Lew Rhodes said...

Eraff -

You are right on Cuddyer - I should have looked up his stats first - I assumed his value and was wrong.

You on the other hand should have looked up MDD's value - he had a 0.9 WAR last year in 174 ABs and that he had a .766 OPS during 107 ABs he got in August / Sept last year; which was on top of the .947 OPS he put up in Vegas last year.

If MDD gets half of the PA's wasted on CY / EY / Abreau last year (no comment about how he should have gotten more of them last year), he is likely a 2.0 WAR player - at least.

Don't forget his defense is near Lagares level which will add a lot of value for him when he is on the field.

Lew Rhodes said...

Peeling the onion on Cuddyer, the issue has always been his defense - his oWAR has been 3.0 or over 5 seasons - but drug down by his dWAR.

He is about neutral at 1b - so if he gets 25-30 of his starts at 1b, his overall WAR will improve.

That being said - I was over zealous in accounting him for 3.0 - I think 1.5 - 2.0 is realistic

Thomas Brennan said...

I agree with you on MDD, Lew. He was .420/.500/.700 in his last 40 games in AAA, and then had an OB% with Mets after his call up 50 points higher than anyone else on the team during the same (post-All Star) period.

Those are stunningly good #s. I see him being successful in 2015.

Hobie said...


Take a look at Forbes Field and tell me how "compact" it was. Saw a few games there in the 50's and from a little kid's POV it was emense (compared to, say, Ebbets or Shibe). http://www.andrewclem.com/Baseball/ForbesField.html


I agree that den Dekker's D is an important consideration. A Grandy/Cuddyer(LF)-Legares-den Dekker(RF) adds more in defensive value than it subtracts in offense from having Cuddyer/Granderson available on the bench.

eraff said...

How many ab's are you assuming for that 2.0 MDD War!?

Denard Span had 2.2 and 3.6 as a Full Time CF'er with over 1300 ab's in the past 2 years. 701 and 760 OPS.

OK...I get it!!!---you're excited and optimistic, but these aren't even REAL conversations.

"Play Ball!!!" atrib. to Jimmie Preller, c 2015

Lew Rhodes said...

Tom -

Lagares turns a whopping 26 in March - he is still likely 2 years away from his offensive peak.

We are talking a guy with a career .730 minor league OPS where he was younger than the league

In 2011 he put up close to a .900 OPS across A+ and AA as a 22 year old

In 2012 he regressed some, but he still had a .723 OPS with a K-rate below 20%.

In 2013 he was killing LV before being called up - he likely got called up too soon and needed a few more months at AAA.

I think he is on his way up and even if not, I think he can repeat last year - hopefully in a 150+ games.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Great job with this morning report, Mr. Soto.

Lew Rhodes said...

Eraff - MDD had a 0.9 WAR in 174 PA's last year. And, that was with negative WAR in his first 70 - so he was over 1.0 WAR in 100 ABs.

Given that he will likely be a late inning defensive sub regularly and will get a fair amount of starts - he easily will get 200-250 ABs - which is enough to get him to 2.0 WAR.

As far as Span - in 2013 his OPS+ was 94 - he was a below average hitter and still put up 2.2 WAR.

Last year he rated as below average defensively (don't ask me how), and he put up a 3.6 WAR.

Three years ago when he was above average in both, he put up a 5.0 WAR in 128 games.

bob gregory said...

All of this WAR talk has Bruce Springsteen stuck in my head....

War......Good God.....
What is it good for?

Absolutely Nothing?
Absolutely something?
Absolutely everything?

Say it again.....

eraff said...

WAR was recorded by Edwin Starr

eraff said...

Projections...Hopes....Pipe Dreams... where are we on this continuum?

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Hobie, what I meant to communicate was that the huge Forbes Field was a hindrance to Clemente - hence my reference to "National Park." The move from there to their next, much smaller park had to be a relief.

I remember last summer looking at Donn Clendenon in the mid-60's. He hit 3 homers at Forbes one year and TWENTY FIVE on the road. I think Lagares will sneak a few out to the opposite field in shorter Citi RF, that would have been long outs in 2014.

Thomas Brennan said...

The Simon article (Plus 10 WAR): another factor supporting a large boost in Wins Above Replacement for 2015 is in the offense from... pitchers and pinch hitters. Those 2 groups got a lot of ABs in 2014 and were way south of atrocious - assuming an improvement to both, has to put upward pressure on the W/L column. Read my article on it tomorrow, if you're so inclined, ladies and gents.

Duda: I am pro-Duda (not regressing) for 3 reasons: 1) more comfortable; 2) shorter fences for 81 games; 3) he did his best hitting when he realized he needed to not waste early strikes because he hits so darned bad when he gets to 2 strikes. look up his splits for April & May (his passive period) vs. June-Sept (his far more aggressive period, when he let it get to 2 strikes much less). If he stays aggressive (can't imagine why not) I see big things in 2015 for him.

TP said...

Most of the offseason chatter has been on SS, but I think the leadoff spot is a major concern that has not gotten enough attention. We know how good Juan's glove is, but he is very iffy at the plate, especially in regards to OBP. At best he may be serviceable vs. LHP, but who will lead off vs. RHP? Den Dekker cannot be ruled out. It is had to see him platooning with Lagares whereby he gets the majority of ABs, but if he can put up a .350 or better OBP vs. RHP, Juan may be a plus plus glove that plays part time.

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