Reese Kaplan -- There is Whining in Baseball

The Mets team ERA is a sparkling 3.26 but they are only scoring 3.4 runs per game.  Lately it’s not even been that much.  That’s a recipe for finishing right around .500.  2015 was supposed to be the year of meaningful games in September.  It’s gotten so bad that even the announcers are tuning out the team during the broadcasts and giving us discourses on the state of the Greek economy.  As soon as the other team goes up by 2 runs, most fans feel the game is pretty much over.  For the past month the team (not an individual -- the entire team) is batting .218 with a .618 OPS -- both worst in the National League. 

Lucas Duda is just plain lost.  Yes, he’s a veteran.  Yes, he’s coming off a very solid 2014 campaign which made everyone believe he would be an offensive cornerstone around which to build.  Instead, he’s on pace for a new franchise record of 169 strikeouts, surpassing such legendary whiff artists as Dave Kingman.  He’s hitting .111 for the month of July.  Send him to Las Vegas out of the spotlight and let him get his head on straight.  It’s not like we’ll miss his bat. 

Who would replace him?  Gee, could anyone else deliver more than .111?  My nomination would be recently returned Zach Lutz who had several solid years in the minors but never got more than a handful of ABs in the majors.  He could play 1B and leave Murphy at 3B, or flip-flop them.  For that matter, you could even try Dilson Herrera again for awhile (who’s hitting .340 in AAA) and shift Flores to 1B. 

Speaking of the man who used to be shortstop, have you noticed his defensive play has been better than average at 2B?  His offense still is not clicking at full potential, but since making the July 1st transition to that position he’s hitting .305 with a .340 OBP.  The power has been down, but maybe the scrutiny of his play in the field was indeed interfering with the offensive side of his game. 

Ruben Tejada is a lightning rod for polarization among the fan base.  Supporters point to his .OBP, his defense and his recent hot streak of hitting.  Detractors point to the long track record of futility at the plate, his mental gaffes, his lack of baserunning speed and his defense being adequate but not exactly Rey Ordoñez-like to justify a nearly identical career batting average.  The fact is even his most vocal “he’s underappreciated and misunderstood” types would concede that on most teams he wouldn’t start.  If so, why is he starting here?  Blame Sandy Alderson.

Daniel Murphy is picking an especially bad time to phone in his performance during his walk year.  He’s currently sitting on just a .267 AVG though his power numbers of 10/30 are not that far off from what he normally produces.  I know people have grown weary of his mental gaffes, too, both in the field and on the basepaths.  I think the only reason he’s still here is because David Wright is not.  Even so, unless they plan to issue a $14 million qualifying offer, peddle him for peanuts because without the QO you don’t even get the empty shells.  His offensive contributions are not that outstanding.  I’d rather gamble on an outfielder or shortstop from another organization delivering more (at less money, too).  Again, Flores could go to 3B and Herrera could go to 2B. 

Kevin Plawecki is certainly starting to come around with the bat, but the overall numbers are not impressive.  Still, he’s earned a right to be here and could be a solution to the 1B dilemma when Travis d’Arnaud returns.  He could slot in there to keep his improving bat in the lineup during Lucas Duda’s desert sabbatical while d’Arnaud plays behind the plate.  A lot of people are screaming for d’Arnaud to learn a new position to reduce the strain on his body.  While that’s probably a good long term plan, you can’t just toss the guy a left fielder’s glove and say “have at it” without bad Todd Hundley flashbacks giving you nightmares. 

Speaking of the “What outfield?”, the team needs at minimum two new bodies there and arguably a third with Curtis Granderson still woefully underperforming his career norms.   Why the team is not disabling the two obviously injured folks patrolling LF and CF probably has more to do with service time clocks for Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto than it does with fears they couldn’t handle the big leagues.  I’ll give Sandy Alderson one bone here…maybe he’s concerned that if they finish AA with good numbers, then they become viable trade chips, but if they struggle in the majors they diminish their value and thus his flexibility to move them to improve the team. 

The bench includes five sub-Mendoza hitters in Eric Campbell, John Mayberry, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Anthony Recker and Danny Muno.  That is almost unfathomable that they can’t even find a good bat/no-glove type of guy who can be relied upon to deliver when needed.  Even as bad as Bobby Abreu was last year, he could occasionally look like a major leaguer.  His .248 average would make him a cleanup hitter this year! 

The most galling statistic I’ve seen regarding the futility of the offense is that the record setting ineptitude of the 1962 Mets actually scored more runs per game than this bunch do!   If I had any hair left, I’d be pulling it out.  It’s gotten so bad I even feel sorry for the skipper who’s asked to lead this crew.  True, he still does dumb things like force lefty relievers into LOOGY roles when their numbers show reverse career splits, but hey, he is what he is – Sandy’s puppet.  That won’t change either.  


Anonymous said...

Morning Reese:
I appreciate your out of the box thinking?
The one thing that would bother me is?
If Duda is in the minors and you trade or get ride of Murphy!
That only leaves 1 left handed bat!
Personally believe Sandy thinks Conforto needs 200 at-bats above A ball? he is at 164 currently so another 9-10 games I believe then he'll be called up! Which also happens to be August 1st?
Im also hoping for a new RF at that time aswell


Reese Kaplan said...

There goes your other left handed bat :)

Lew Rhodes said...

Reese - You are pretty irrational when it comes to Tejada and Granderson

While you are griping about how bad the Mets' offense has been awful in July did you notice that Tejada has hit .292/.356/.369 in July? I think his .725 OPS is likely the best on the team in this stretch.

Yes, this kid has been a woeful disappointment - let's not forget that he is the same kid who put up a .695 OPS as a 21 year old -- maybe his current numbers are something he can maintain - maybe its a mirage - in either case, right now, he is FAR from the biggest problem in the line-up.

Ditto Granderson - all he has done is put up a .985 OPS in June and an identical .985 OPS post AS break - yes sucked the first two weeks in July - but the time around that he has been the Met's most consistent and best hitter.

Yes - Duda is lost at the plate - likely because he is putting too much pressure on himself and falling apart mentally - maybe a trip to AAA will do him good - maybe it will explode his confidence - the best thing that can happen to him is to have d'Arnaud come back and take some pressure off of him - remember this is the guy who single handedly carried the Mets' offense during the long forgotten 11 game winning streak. He looked pretty good last night - hopefully that's a start of a turn around.

I agree 1000% with you with Murphy - if Wright weren't hurt - Murphy likely isn't playing and is traded -- I don't know if he is pressuring himself in a walk year or what, but he has been awful this season

As far as the bench - the problem with this team -- and I think mack has said this repeatedly -- is they built a bench of young players - your best bench players are veterans who have kicked around the league a bit and are used to part-time roles -- I think it is too difficult for a guy like Muno who plays everyday in AAA to come up and play sporadically in the majors

Hence why we need a guy like Zobrist.

As far as Collins -- who thinks that Flores and Tejada are hitting better lately now that Collins can't periodically sit them during hot streaks, etc.? I don't think it is a coincidence that they are both hitting their best since they don't have to look over their shoulders and wonder then Collins will deem that "they need a rest."

Sandy needs to trade for a legit bat OFer and put Cuddyer on the bench as a pricey reserve to upgrade both spots and give this stellar rotation a chance to make some noise into September

Lew Rhodes said...

I do love the picture though - that is my favorite line in a baseball movie ever!

Reese Kaplan said...

Tejada has hit .232 since the 2013 season began. That's NOT a small sample size.

Thomas Brennan said...

Bring up Taijeron, Conforto, Alvarez, and Herrera. Send out A. Torres, Muno, and Mayberry, and DL Cuddyer.

I know Campbell got a big hit last nite, but DFA him and call up Lutz or Josh Rodriguez.

What the neck...even I'd stop crying!

Reese Kaplan said...

They are only paying 25% of David Wright's $20 million salary with the insurance company picking up the rest. That means they could afford to take on a prorated $15 million salary with no impact to the bottom line. I don't want to hear anyone say they can't afford Player X because that is a flat out lie (without even taking into account the increased gate revenue, concessions and SNY money).

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with your assessment that this team is beyond just a little flawed, but like above comments, I am not sure that Grandy and Tejada would be my targets for today. Grandy is not woefully underperforming his past performance, unless you define it as two or three years in the Yankee bandbox. outside of those years, he is only fractionally below career averages, but that is to be expected with age. Yes, Tejada has been bad for the past three years and still may not be a regular SS, but he fields much better than anyone on the roster and it is the other bats that are killing this team the most.

As far as the insurance money is concerned, don't be so sure that this will be fully reimbursed and even if it is, they wont be seeing any money for sometime. Lots of clauses and exclusions that can cut the number down, but even still they have to file/litigate claim and that takes time by design. Also, operating income is down 35% since 2009 outside of SNY, so that is about a $60M shortfall. I don't think the Wilpons are cheap, they are just broke and have no lines of credit available to expand expenses. When they had it, they spent, but now they don't
Anon Joe F

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