Organizational Rankings: #15 – Mets

Ahh, the Mets. So much to say in just 600 words.

Obviously, they’ve made a lot of mistakes in the last year. Omar Minaya has taken a beating here and elsewhere, and the organization appears to be in something of a mess, with the organizational flow chart kind of summing up the front office. Feuds with the players and media, a GM who may or may not be allowed to handle conference calls, an involved (to say the least) ownership group… it’s all just a big circus at times.

It didn’t help that everything that could have gone wrong last year did, from the star players getting hurt to David Wright losing his power, and the team fell apart as a result. As such, the Mets have been the butt of many jokes over the lsat 12 months. Spending a lot of money to be terrible will do that to you, especially when you play in New York.

But, despite all the jokes and all the problems, the Mets actually aren’t in that bad of shape. The revenue stream from being in New York with a new ballpark is significant, obviously, but the core of a good team is still there. Despite last year’s debacle, few teams have a group that can match Wright-Reyes-Beltran-Santana. And it’s not exactly barren after that, either.

Jason Bay may be wildly overpaid, but he’s not useless. There is a mix of solid role players and some good young players. The farm system boasts a couple of high ceiling youngsters. The roster isn’t perfect, but with a few breaks, they could contend this year, and a better management team could build a beast of a team with the resources they have.

In many ways, the Mets are where the Mariners were a couple of years ago – the joke of the league, with some core talent dragged down by bad decision making upstairs. But, a new front office can fix a lot of things in pretty short order, and since the Mets front office probably can’t survive another bad year, the options for them are essentially win or clean house. Neither option is all that bad.

So, while the Mets may do a lot of things hilariously wrong right now, I don’t think fixing the organizations is that big of a task. They don’t have to burn the whole thing down – just get some new people in charge, make some better use of the money they have to spend, and the Mets could be challenging for the NL crown again. It probably won’t happen in 2010, but I don’t think it will take that long.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


42 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #15 – Mets”

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  1. CaseyB says:

    More well-balanced and no factual errors.

    I don’t disagree with placing the Mets 15th overall as an organization, as the front office and Omar do have issues. But I do disagree with the prediction that they won’t contend in 2010. They will be in the race up till the end so long as they avoid the number of injuries that plagued the team all up and down the roster last year.

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    • Zack says:

      How can you say they’ll be in contention for the playoffs when you look at their rotation?

      Santana- coming off surgery, but ill say he’ll be close to his usual self
      Pelfry- Is he going to make progress from his 08 season, or his 09 season?
      Maine- cant stay healthy, and only goes 5 IP when he does pitch
      Perez- what are you expecting out of this guy?
      Niese- want me to say he’ll have a good/inconsistant season? ok.

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    • CaseyB says:

      Because Zack, they had virtually the same rotation last year and were in first place in June before the $@% hit the fan with all the injuries.

      And …

      Santana — no issue with the same minor bone chip surgery he had prior to one of his previous Cy Young years.
      Pelfrey — Verducci effect in 2009.
      Maine — That’s why there is better depth this year
      Perez — it’s anyone’s guess but he is healthier & in better shape than last year
      Niese — No one knows but again, that’s why the Mets have better depth this year.

      All rotations have question marks. Even the Braves, who probably have the best rotation in the division have issues. I don’t expect much from Kawakami and Lowe, and Jurgens has health issues. As for the Phillies, Hamels went backwards last year and who knows what Moyer can do. Halladay merely replaced Lee.

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      • Sam says:

        Verducci Effect for Pelfrey in 2009? How so? His xFIP from 2008 and 2009 are virtually identical. He was lucky in 2008, not so much in 2009. His stuff seems to have been ok as well; almost identical velocity on his fastballs.

        There may be some impact to having a sudden innings jump in the previous year, but Verducci’s “proof” of that effect leaves a lot to be desired.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Not that I’m a big believer in FIP, but his FIP did increase 43 points from 2008 to 2009. How would FIP or xFIP disprove the Verducci effect anyway?

        Verducci’s proof of that effect is anecdotal and it works for me. I think there’s something to it. It doesn’t impact all players, but a lot of them.

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      • Zack says:

        “I don’t expect much from Kawakami and Lowe”
        Based on what? And are you expecting them to be worse than Perez/Maine?

        “As for the Phillies, Hamels went backwards last year and who knows what Moyer can do. Halladay merely replaced Lee.”

        No he didnt; Hamels had the same K rate, same BB rate, same FIP, only thing that changed was his BABIP.
        Cliff Lee made 12 starts for the Phillies, Doc will make 30+. So NO, Doc doesnt “merely” replace Lee.

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      • CaseyB says:

        “Based on what? And are you expecting them to be worse than Perez/Maine?”

        Based on age and poor/lackluster seasons last year. I am expecting them to be just as questionable as Perez/Maine.

        “No he didnt; Hamels had the same K rate, same BB rate, same FIP, only thing that changed was his BABIP.

        Yes, he did. His WHIP and ERA went up. And I know you’re going to give me a big “ERA and WHIP are bunk” argument but don’t bother. I don’t think fielding independent stats are everything.

        “Cliff Lee made 12 starts for the Phillies, Doc will make 30+. So NO, Doc doesnt “merely” replace Lee.”

        And Moyer is a year older, and Hamels regressed in 2009. So that mitigates to a large extent the additional starts by Halladay.

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      • Zack says:

        “Based on age and poor/lackluster seasons last year. I am expecting them to be just as questionable as Perez/Maine. ”

        So they had better/healthier seasons that Perez/Maine, yet they are just as questionable? Good logic. And ‘age’ isnt a good reason, Maine is younger but has throw over 140 IP in the bigs ONE time in his career.

        “And I know you’re going to give me a big “ERA and WHIP are bunk” argument but don’t bother. I don’t think fielding independent stats are everything.”

        No that’s BS- how about you make your argument without ERA and WHIP…. exactly. Tell me how he regressed if his K rate and BB rate improved slightly and his HR/9 the same. The only thing that changed was his hits, coincidently his BABIP also increased. But yeah he regressed, good job.

        “And Moyer is a year older, and Hamels regressed in 2009. So that mitigates to a large extent the additional starts by Halladay.”

        Ok, the Phillies rotation is better than the Mets…
        Doc > Johan
        Hamels + Blanton > Your #2 & 3
        Happ (did you see his ERA!!1!) > Your #4
        Sure question mark at 5, the Mets have question marks at 2, 3, 4, and 5.

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      • CaseyB says:

        “So they had better/healthier seasons that Perez/Maine, yet they are just as questionable? … And ‘age’ isnt a good reason”

        They had a better or healthier season than Perez/Maine but not both. Maine pitched better than Lowe with a lower ERA/ERA+. And Kawakami only made 25 starts. Not exactly a workhorse. Both Kawakami and Lowe are considerably older than Maine and Perez. They are more heavily prone to decline and stamina/injury issues at their age. So, yes, age IS an issue.

        “No that’s BS- how about you make your argument without ERA and WHIP….”

        That’s NOT BS. Hamels regressed with:

        –Much higher ERA
        –Much higher WHIP
        –Fewer total innings
        –Fewer total innings/start

        Just because he may have had the same seasonal strikeout rate or better BB rate doesn’t mean he was able to make the pitch he wanted to at the right time with as much regularity as he could the year before.

        “Ok, the Phillies rotation is better than the Mets…”

        Agreed, but not to the extent you are making it out to be. I don’t think it’s big. They have question marks in Hamels and Moyer … and while Happ had a good year, lets see what he does his sophomore year as a starter now that the league has a book on him. He’s a question mark too, though a smaller one.

        Also, the Mets bullpen is better than the Phillies. Can Lidge even pitch now? This edge should mitigate somewhat the edge the Phillies have with their rotation.

        BTW, why are you jumping up and down over Happ’s ERA when you don’t believe in ERA and think it is BS??

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      • Zack says:

        “They had a better or healthier season than Perez/Maine but not both. Maine pitched better than Lowe with a lower ERA/ERA+.”

        Maine pitched 80 freaking innings last year, 140 the year before, come on.
        Kawakami made 25 starts because they had 6 starters and need to see if Hudson was able to pitch. He wasnt injured- unlike the “younger” Perez and Maine.

        Kawakami and Lowe are both healthier and better than Maine and Perez.

        “That’s NOT BS. Hamels regressed with:”

        The IP and IP/S were caused by giving up more hits, which causes him to make more pitches.
        Obviously you’re not going to agree with me, but sorrry that I dont live in the world of ERA, W/L, etc.

        “Also, the Mets bullpen is better than the Phillies. Can Lidge even pitch now? This edge should mitigate somewhat the edge the Phillies have with their rotation.”

        Lidge was pitching with a bum knee and elbow spur all year (simple surgery for Johan so simple for Lidge too right?).
        Who is in the Mets bullpen? Krod, Feliciano (for lefties) and who? Igarushi? Green? I wouldnt call that better than Lidge, Madson, Romero, especially when post ASB KRod was probably just as bad as Lidge.

        “BTW, why are you jumping up and down over Happ’s ERA when you don’t believe in ERA and think it is BS??”

        The ERA!!1! was sarcasm, i’ll try to do it better next time.

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      • CaseyB says:

        “Maine pitched 80 freaking innings last year, 140 the year before,”

        … and 191 the year before that. He’s had surgery to correct what was bothering him for close to two years and is fully healthy now. I would rather have him than Lowe and believe he will have a better year than Lowe as he did last year.

        “Kawakami made 25 starts because they had 6 starters and need to see if Hudson was able to pitch.”

        Even if Hudson hadn’t taken his spot, I doubt Kawakami could have exceeded those innings and done decently. He hasn’t pitched over 156 innings in a few years, he’s old, and they pitch more infrequently in Japan. There is no way he will pitch close to 200 innings and pitch decently this year.

        “Kawakami and Lowe are both healthier and better than Maine and Perez.”

        Not now. Both Maine and Perez are healthy now. And both Lowe and Kawakami have the big age risk. That is independent of any health issues. I will take Maine over Lowe any day of the week.

        Also, what about Jurrjens? He could have a chronic shoulder issue that adds another big question mark to the Braves rotation.

        “The IP and IP/S were caused by giving up more hits, which causes him to make more pitches.”

        That would make some sense if not for the fact Hamel’s pitch count per game fell in 2009 as well — by about 7 pitches per start.

        “Obviously you’re not going to agree with me, but sorrry that I dont live in the world of ERA, W/L, etc.”

        Sorry, but I don’t live in the world of W-L either. My world does have ERA/WHIP in it and will continue to do so.

        “Lidge was pitching with a bum knee and elbow spur all year (simple surgery for Johan so simple for Lidge too right?).”

        You couldn’t be more WRONG! Lidge had surgery to fix a flexor tendon in addition to getting chips taken out. That’s a world of difference, lol.

        In addition, Santana is already in shape to start the season with no noticeable ill effects from whatever ailed him last year. Lidge is still MIA from spring training.

        Also, Romero had even more extensive surgery than Lidge, and he’s also been MIA from spring training! Their bullpen is chock full of question marks!

        “Who is in the Mets bullpen?”

        K-Rod, Feliciano, Calero, Igarishi, Takahashi, Figueroa/Nieve — ALL HEALTHY AND PITCHING WELL!

        That’s much better than a Lidge (??? & MIA), Romero (??? & MIA), Madson, and whomever.

        “post ASB KRod was probably just as bad as Lidge.”

        He was actually better, but it is irrelevant. He was getting irregular work and pitching for a losing team during the second half. His first half was stellar, unlike Lidge who sucked all year long. And K-Rod has zero health issues.

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      • Smeck says:

        Not sure I want to jump into this fracas, but if you can write off Pelfrey’s 2009 due to the ‘Verducci’ effect (or is it affect?)…why can’t you just claim the same for Cole Hamels?

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      • CaseyB says:

        Smeck, that’s a valid point which I agree with. Both pitchers were candidates for the effect, and both went backwards last year.

        So both are question marks for this year.

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  2. Very fair writeup. Critical without going snark-overload (like the earlier “Current Talent” post did, yuck) while pointing out that things aren’t as dire as 2009 would suggest. The Mariners comp is decent and would be more encouraging if Met fans had any reason to think ownership was capable of replacing Omar’s regime with a Jack Z.-esque front office.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      The Mariners owners weren’t very well highly thought of before they hired Jack Z either. I’d leave the door open that the Wilpons may be able to surprise you.

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      • SchmidtXC says:

        You’d think at some point they’d have to stumble blindly into a good hiring, but they seem to have a preference for the old school baseball lifers.

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      • Omar says:

        My main disagreement, is that Omar Minaya has made at least one huge acquisition while only giving up four piles of monkey turds. He’s highly regarded in Latin America and gives the club pretty good talent pipeline to Latin America, Bill Bavsai made bad moves and worse moves. He dealt quite a few high ceiling young talents and acquired a guy who threw 164 innings for him, though I’m sure you’re the last person that needs to be reminded of Bavasi’s terribleness. Minaya, for all of his issues, has at least some good things to his name. Granted, he has a multitude of negative qualities that more than out weigh the good but that’s just splitting hairs at this point.

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      • Bill says:

        To Dave’s point, the Mariners’ ownership had a preferences for old school baseball lifers, as well, prior to hiring Jack Z. Of course, the M’s ownership never gave money to Bernie Madoff. So, maybe they are a little smarter.

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  3. Zach says:

    I’ve actually been making that Mariners comp in conversation a lot lately.

    But I inevitably end up cursing the M’s for having Jack Z because that means he can’t swoop in and fix the Mets when Omar is inevitably fired.

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    • MetsFan says:

      The Jack Z lovefest is a bit over the top. There are plenty of people capable of fixing this mess. The problem is that a young guy isn’t going to have the pull/reputation to tell Wilpon “No,” so the pool may be limited in that regard.

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      • Zach says:

        I was joking, but my point was made.

        Also, I strongly feel that the Mets don’t have anyone internally that can fix it, they need to completely clean house and then look outside the organization if they really need to get on the right track.

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      • kampfer says:

        a random person in fangraph is better than Minaya… So virtually anyone with decent baseball knowledge can do it. It is a luxury to have filled the infield with Wright and Reyes on the left side, adding Beltran to the centre field and Santana leading the pitching staff, most people should be able to find pieces from FA to fill the rest of the position. But yet Minaya manages to screw up everything…

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  4. Dave says:

    I agree the core is there to build around, but they do lack one thing that would facilitate a real quick turnaround – payroll flexibility. They have consistently signed heavily backloaded contracts and many of them start to balloon around now. There is of course the possibility of an increase in payroll beyond even last year, but thats certainly not a given with the current ownership.

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    • SchmidtXC says:

      The only year that may be an issue is 2011, as when Castillo and Ollie come off the books they shouldn’t have any really bad contracts left. With the number of decent kids coming through the system, they ought to get enough guys who can fill the bench and bullpen roles cheaply to be in good shape.

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  5. supermets says:

    My projections would put the Mets mean wins at ~83 to 84 wins. That gives them a chance, though unlikely, of making the playoffs. More likely is a third or fourth place finish (I project third, ahead of the Marlins).

    But, I agree with this post. They could EASILY be top 5 in these rankings within 2 years. With an 83 or so win season, Minaya and Manuel will probably be gone. If they can be replaced by competent people, the team could turn around real fast. The Mets have a great core, and a bunch of really good prospects that are close to the majors. Davis, Thole, and maybe Tejada could be starting by 2011. Mejia (if he’s not screwed up in the ‘pen) and Niese could be in the rotation doing well.

    A good GM could definitely make this a 90+ win team as soon as 2011. I just hope the Wilpons can hire someone competent.

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    • Omar says:

      I mean, I agree with this, but you’re hedging your bets on the Wilpons doing something reasonable. Not forcing Omar’s hand in the best buyers market in recent memory was a huge mistake. They could have had Orlando Hudson, Adam Dunn, and Bobby Abreu and invested only 30 million dollars, a team with Abreu in RF instead of Jeff Francouer’s terribleness, Adam Dunn at first instead of a replacement player, and a useful second basemen instead of Luis Castillo, is huge. If they had just done those cheap and simple things, they’re a respectable team last season even with all the injuries.

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      • Omar says:

        I forgot the conclusion…my bad, given this, it’s hard to count on the Wilpon’s doing something reasonable, let alone making a good move. Especially since they bawked at spending 30-40 million (on total contracts) reasonably, and unreasonably spent double that on one player.

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      • supermets says:

        Well, those are all Omar problems. If someone competent can be hired, that could all change.

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      • Omar says:

        I mean granted Omar, takes his fair share of blame…but at a certain point ownership needs to be held accountable for their organization. Do you honestly think Hank and Hal Steinbrenner would have let Brian Cashman NOT pursue CC Sabathia? The same goes for the Wilpons, if you own a baseball team and you wish for that baseball team to contend there’s certain things you MUST do. One of those is recognizing buyer’s markets for free agents, and capitalizing on scenarios that play out your way. In 2007 Bill Smith forced the Wilpons to do just that, when he publicly made it known that he needed to deal Johan Santana and took four piles of shit that aren’t even on this year’s team. The Wilpons deserve quite a bit of the blame here too. That being said, it’s not all Omar, it’s not all the Wilpons…some of it’s just shit luck that they’ve faced.

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    • Steve says:

      Serious question, what are the expectations for Thole? Is he really expected to be the starting catcher of the future? Is he any better than say, Francisco Cervelli?

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      • supermets says:

        He really can’t be compared to Cervelli at all. Such different players.

        I would say Cervelli’s floor and ceiling are both backup catcher, while Thole is much more questionable. If he can become average defensively, he can probably be an average or better catcher. Think .300/.360/.400 as his potential, which is pretty good for a catcher.

        But, it’s also possible that he can’t become a good enough catcher, in which case he really doesn’t have a place on a major league team. Maybe as a backup, but how many teams have weak defensive backups?

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  6. Jack Straw says:

    That’s what it all comes down to, doesn’t it? Whether the Wilpons will not only hire a good GM, but a good GM whom they will leave largely alone. Most of us here will probably agree that’s unlikely to happen, and on top of that the Wilpons have stoutly defended their grocery list approach to signing free agents, where the FO sets its sights on a specific guy and don’t make any other significant moves until they get or don’t get that player, even though it’s clear to everyone else in the baseball world that that approach only makes it dramatically more difficult to build a contending baseball team. It’s a ludicrous approach to the free agent market, frankly, one that would badly handicap even the Great God Z.

    I’m not optimistic, therefore, particularly since in addition to the above conditions it will help enormously if Manuel is fired. If the Mets are on the fringe of contention all season and miss the playoffs I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Manuel (and Minaya) back in 2011.

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  7. Reuben says:

    There was an article once that included a table. On one side it had PROCESS on the other RESULTS. Each of those were divided into good and bad, so you have good process leading to bad results and to good results and bad process leading to bad results and good results.

    IMO, the Mets have bad process, and I think even with their advantages (payroll, good young core), that necessitates them being even lower than they are here. And I don’t think we can include that if the Mets get lucky and get into the playoffs or if they fail and fire Omar in that equation. Because both are the results of a bad process, and that’s the main thing to evaluate with the health of an organization. It’s why Cincinnati is still where they are. They’re doing a lot of right things in the FO, but as long as Dusty is the coach, they’re going to be doing bad process on the field. And even if he’s lucky, it’s still bad process.

    And we can’t give the Mets credit for firing their FO when they haven’t or for the new FO they might hire until they do.

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  8. Tom Au says:

    Jason Bay was worth $15.9 million last year, according to Fan Graphs. What he is being paid represents a “rounding up” from that. So he is not “wildly” overpaid.

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    • CaseyB says:

      I’m not sure how much one should use Fangraph’s valuations as a barometer of how MLB should be payed. Frangraph’s numbers are usually much higher than the real world.

      Having said that, Bay is not wildly overpaid. No more so than A-Rod, Burnett, Jeter, Drew, Lackey Soriano, Holliday etc. etc. … and probably much less so than some of the names just mentioned.

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        The fangraphs valuation is solely based on the current 3.5 mil per win over replacement player. I like UZR more than any other defensive statistic, but I also feel it factors into WAR a little to much. It is so much more difficult putting a run value via prevention than it is production. With defensive numbers needing 3 year sample sizes it is even more difficult when factored into a yearly WAR and we end up with some pretty odd seasons VALUE wise like Endy’s 2008, Zobrist and Gutierrez (not trying to spell it really) in 2009. That being said Zobrist was an absolute beast last year, and I love me some endy. But I still can’t see Franklin being worth .7 more wins than Tex last year no matter how good his CF was compared to Tex’s 1B. The 402 to 337 wOBA weighs much more heavily for me than the UZR and positional adjustment.

        All in all though, Pitching wise I feel fangraphs WAR value is pretty darn good.

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        Oh I also forgot to mention that Bay’s contract will most likely be a very very bad on in years 4 and 5 and possibly even 3. Arods is a 10 year deal signed at age 30 or so which we know will be a disaster. Sorianos is bad, but it isn’t nearly as bad as 2009 made it seem. Burnett I still feel was a bad signing and Holliday much like Bay was overpaid even with no other suitors. Drew is about even, but using the other somewhat bad contracts to justify overpaying for Bay doesn’t excuse… or justify it IMO.

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      • CaseyB says:

        MKR, a few things:

        — There is no guaranteed 5th year on Bay’s contract. Just a club option.
        — Drew is always injured, is about 3 years older than Bay, and has had a lower valuation from Fangraphs the last two years than Bay. So I think his contract is just as bad — if not worse — than Bay’s, even though the dollar amount is slightly less per year. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that Bay’s UZR was depressed playing the Green Monster in Boston. If so, and if his UZR returns to what it was in Pittsburgh, Bay’s WAR is likely to rise the next few years.
        — A-Rod will be playing at age 41 the last year of his contract. It is easy to see how his contract could soon become the mother of all bad contracts.
        — Big market clubs simply have to overpay sometimes if they want a player. That’s the nature of free agency. All of them –plus some of the mid-market teams — have been overpaying for eons. So it’s just a question of whether it’s a sensible risk for that particular club/player at that time. For the Mets in 2010, I think Bay was the right choice. And it’s only a four year contract.
        –Back to the valuations, I actually like how they include UZR because it then more adequately reflects a player’s worth. Unlike you, I don’t see any problems with positional WARs, but I do with the pitching as I have reservations about FIP. For example, I think some of the top closers end up being valued too low in relation to starters or some positional players,

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      • Smeck says:

        Bay actually has a vesting option on the 5th year based on plate appearances. Straight from Cot’s Baseball Contracts, which is usually reliable, Bay’s 2014 option is guaranteed with 600 PAs in 2013 or 500 PAs in both 2012, 2013. This seems tuff, because if he misses much of 2013, then this option won’t vest. If he misses most of 2013 because of injuries it likely means he was overpaid. Anyway, I don’t think the deal was horrible, it is better than the alternative, which is using someone like Martinez this year in the OF. Hopefully the Mets get at least 3 very solid years out of Bay.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Oh, ok. So it’s a vesting option, not a club one. Thanks for the clarification.

        Still, it’s not guaranteed and as you say, it won’t be easy to have it vest. For example, let’s say Drew had an option like that for 2010 … well then with all his DL visits the last few years, that option would not have been attained.

        At least this protects the Mets against having to pay a player plagued by injuries or bad performance. The 4-year deal to Bay is reasonable given the market and I would not have wanted Minaya to do anything different in terms of Bay.

        As for Martinez, I think he might finally be ready to hit in the majors now. But there is no way they should have penciled him in for a starting job coming off his 2009 performance. His hot spring is a big surprise. If they knew that Martinez was going to hit like this, It might have made more sense to give the money to Lackey. But since no one could have predicted it, Bay made the most sense at the time.

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  9. Jack Str says:

    Too bad about how the Bay deal is working out. Not all that surprising given Bay’s had all of three good years by the advanced age of 31, and not all that surprising given how thoroughly the lesson’s been given that signing good, aging players who have no chance of being great, at near-superstar prices, is a bad idea. You have no chance of those players exceeding the value of their contracts, some chance of getting close, and a good chance of coming up extremely short.

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