The 2011 Brad Emaus All-Stars

It happens every year. A manager gets an itchy trigger finger early in the season and buries a guy before he even gets a chance to earn the faith the manager put in him to start the season. This year is no different, and with an idea sparked from Eric Seidman’s piece yesterday on Brad Emaus — an article that the Mets completely ignored when they waived him today — I present the 2011 Brad Emaus All-Stars.

C: Jeff Mathis
Mike Scioscia has always had a strange Mathis fetish, preferring the way he plays defense and calls a game over more tangible things like not making outs. But after Mathis went home with the golden sombrero on April 9, Scioscia wavered, leaving Mathis on the bench at the outset of five of the next six games. The main beneficiary has been Hank Conger, but Scioscia hasn’t buckled completely, saying on Sunday that, “We need [Mathis] to be part of the solution at the catcher position for us.”

1B: Mike Napoli
Another year, another manager doubting Mike Napoli. Napoli was supposed to see significant time at first base this year, but after starting there on Opening Day, Mitch Moreland has started there in nine of the 15 games, with Michael Young and Chris Davis also starting. Ron Washington has promised to get Napoli more time behind the dish, but at the present time, Yorvit Torrealba has started three times as many games at catcher as Napoli. Napoli hasn’t even done anything to deserve his benching. He’s hitting .292/.452/.708 thus far, which normally would impress the pants off any manager. Apparently Washington is not one of those managers.

2B: Brad Emaus
The first draft of this piece also included Will Rhymes and Jack Wilson, but while both are losing playing time, and Wilson’s actions have even been called “unspeakable” by his manager, they still both have jobs. Emaus doesn’t — which I guess would be surprising if it wasn’t the Mets we were talking about. Are we sure that Isiah isn’t secretly running them too?

3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff / Ian Stewart / Mike Aviles
Since they let just about anyone on to the real All-Star teams these days, I figure the Emaus All-Stars can have three third basemen. Over the weekend, it was revealed that Andy LaRoche will get a longer look at third base thanks to Kevin Kouzmanoff’s struggles at the plate. You know, because Kouzmanoff always hits .182 across whole seasons. And with LaRoche’s .284 wOBA setting fire to everything it touches, it’s clear he should be in the lineup. Wait, what? Ian Stewart’s Spring Training injuries have been used against him since the start of the season, and with the hot start from Jonathan Herrera, Jim Tracy has been able to stick with Herrera at second and slide Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton to third, burying Stewart in the process. And with Ubaldo Jimenez scheduled to come off the DL tonight, there are now rumors that Stewart might board the Colorado Springs shuttle to make room for him. Finally, after starting on Opening Day at the leadoff spot, Mike Aviles has been somewhat marginalized by Wilson Betemit’s hot start. Manager Ned Yost is noncommittal on his plans because, well, he can’t really figure it out himself.

SS: Marco Scutaro
Last week, I wrote that Jed Lowrie should be playing over incumbent starter Marco Scutaro, and Lowrie spent the last three days making me look good by roping eight hits in 14 at-bats, including two round trippers. While quick to praise his hot bat, Terry Francona has remained mum on who will get the lion’s share of playing time moving forward, but Lowrie’s hot start (and Scutaro’s not-so-hot start) has surely forced more of a job share than Francona had been envisioning at the season’s start. And while I still think Lowrie should be starting, it is unfortunate that the slow start may bury Scutaro, as he is better than what he’s demonstrated so far.

OF: Tony Gwynn, Gerardo Parra, Melky Cabrera
Admittedly, this isn’t a super-qualified group of individuals. And while Tony Gwynn Jr. had started off slightly better offensively than last year, he had set the bar pretty low. As a result, the Dodgers recalled prospect Jerry Sands to see if he can be the solution in left field. But at least Gwynn and the other Dodgers left fielders lost their jobs through good old-fashioned small samples of poor play. Gerardo Parra seems to have lost his job due to the birth of his first child. Well, that and the fact that Willie Bloomquist is clearly going to hit .316 all year. Finally, our lovable band of victims is rounded out with another Royal. In attempt to justify the roster spot for Jarrod Dyson, Yost will apparently look to get him more playing time as well. Kind of makes you wonder why they signed Melky Cabrera in the first place. Oh right, the process.

Not all of these decisions will be poor ones in the long-term. Getting Conger more PT can only be a good thing for the Halos’ chances this year. Ditto Lowrie. And if Sands can push Gwynn back to part-time duty that may be for the best as well. But as “Joe D” commented in Eric’s piece yesterday, to spend a whole offseason and Spring Training coming to a decision, only to change your mind less than 50 plate appearances into the season (42 in Emaus’ case) doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in a manager or front office’s decision-making. To boot, in the aggregate, the replacements here are not even better than those they replace. The Emaus All-Stars entered the season with an average wRC+ ZiPS projection of 90.5, and that’s with Mathis’ putrid 55 dragging the group down. The replacements? They clock in at an average of 86.20. But such is life. These fellows will have to be content with the knowledge that even though they might have been replaced, they’re now in their own way, all-stars.




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Paul Swydan is the co-managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for ESPN Insider. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

50 Responses to “The 2011 Brad Emaus All-Stars”

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  1. NM says:

    Meh. The Mets have a comparable player… actually, no, a better player, in Justin Turner to take his place. I too felt Emaus deserved a longer leash, but Turner is a at least a fine replacement. Hopefully he gets a longer leash to prove himself.

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    • Chair says:

      Not sure what makes you think Turner is better than Emaus…meh

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      • NM says:

        I’ll let this fantastic article by Toby Hyde do the talking:

        http://www.metsminorleagueblog.com/is-brad-emaus-a-vegas-mirage/

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      • Chair says:

        Playing in the PCL and Vegas specifically discounts Emaus’s power, something I was already aware of, but I am still out on Turner. That article did not really compare the two players at all.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        I think the bottom line is that the Mets concluded that Emaus wasn’t worth the trouble of rostering given the availability of comparable components. Let’s face it, who plays second base for the Mets affects…? Chris Capuano? It just doesn’t matter. Setting Emaus free at least nets them $25,000.

        And is it inconceivable to think that this was a scouting decision that carried over from spring training rather than a small sample overreaction? (I’m not saying this is the case, just wondering if it’s conceivable). I think it’s reasonable to suppose that Mets scouts watched Emaus during ST and had mixed opinions. Given the previously mentioned unimportance of who plays for the NY Mets, it seems reasonable for them to extend his tryout into the regular season until their scouts could form a better opinion. From what I hear, the consensus among scouts is that he’s a classic AAAA player.

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      • Chair says:

        By classic AAAA player, I’m going to assume you mean someone probably good enough to make an impact at the MLB level, but never given a fair shot.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Why would you make such a stupid assumption? There are players who have a skillset that can do well in AAA but can be exploited in MLB.

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      • Chair says:

        I was being tongue in cheek, though I don’t really buy the idea that AAAA players can’t contribute, considering how many have made careers in MLB without being “MLB level players” in the first place.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Theoretically, a AAAA player should be a replacement level player. From the Met’s perspective, what’s the point in spending $400,000 some to roster that when they can be given $25,000 to let a similarly endowed player demonstrate whether or not he’s better.

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      • CaseyB says:

        Chair, did you look at the link Derek posted. That article clearly makes a case why Turner and Murphy are better options than Emaus.

        The problem with Emaus is that he didn’t just not hit. He looked totally overmatched and overwhelmed doing it — like a deer in the headlights. It would have been different if he was making solid contact at least or walking some, but he did neither. Instead, he got into too many pitchers counts and hit a lot of soft grounders, when he wasn’t striking out. And his fielding was shaky too. I think many of those criticizing the early Emaus exit just looking at the numbers and without having watched him every day are unable to see this.

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      • Alex says:

        Brad Makes a good point above, and it was confirmed by Alderson yesterday that the Emaus decision was not based solely on his 42 PAs this month. He said it was a combination of that, plus what they saw of him in spring training. What I found even more interesting was Alderson’s comment that the Emaus decision was also related to team’s overall performance. He basically said that if the team was playing well, Emaus would have been given more time to turn things around. In other words, the organization is not content to let sub-replacement players take up valuable roster slots. Makes you wonder who (Hu?) is next on the chopping block.

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  2. Matty says:

    To be fair, Jarrod Dyson got a spot start the other day, since he’d started every game on the bench so far. Melky had started every game. This isn’t wavering by Yost. It’s making sure that a guy whose future is as a pinch runner/defensive specialist doesn’t simply rot on the bench. A start every two weeks is pretty typical for any bench player, as it probably should be.

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    • rbt says:

      What he said. Melky is going to play at least 95% of the time. Dyson started two games over the weekend; Melky still started in one of them, and it was the first game he didn’t play all year. Every bench guy gets a start once in a while, and when it happens it doesn’t mean that the regular who is sitting is being marginalized or Emaused.

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  3. Andrew says:

    May soon be able to add Brett Gardner as an OF to this squad. He is already on the bench vs. LHP and went from leading off vs. RHP to 9th. Next stop is perhaps less PT even against righties in favor of A. Jones. This after a strong 2010

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  4. Mario Mendoza says:

    Will Rhymes

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  5. Mario Mendoza says:

    Sean Rodriguez

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  6. birdle says:

    Jeff Mathis isn’t the victim of small sample size. In 1114 career PA’s he has an average of .199 and an OPS+ of 53. He simply can’t hit, Conger is a far better option.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      For some reason, Sciosia didn’t realize this fact for the first 1000+ plate appearances.

      What’s really amusing about the benching is that his OPS+ is actually a bit above his career average.

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  7. dan woytek says:

    In all fairness to Mr. Mathis, I think he’s had pretty good chances to earn his managers trust.

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    • AA says:

      And that career .199 batting average hasn’t helped him. This is especially true given that Conger is thought of as a good defensive guy to go along with his bat.

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  8. Mattsd says:

    Mattingly has said that Sands will play both LF and 1B, so we don’t exactly know how it’s going to breakdown with playing time between Sands, Loney, Gwynn, and Thames. Gwynn and Thames were already looking like a strict platoon.

    Seems like a fair assumption that Gwynn’s time will suffer though.

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    • Chair says:

      Ethier and Loney figure to sit against lefties in favor of Sands. So Thames playing time won’t be hurt.

      However When sands plays against right handers, Gwynn will loose playing time unless Loney continues to be terrible and Sands takes over 1st on a full time basis.

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      • AA says:

        I don’t think Ethier will sit that much, given that he has gotten a few hits this year against lefties in key situations (still not hitting them well). I think Loney is the guy who will ultimately sit, because he has generally sucked.

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  9. Yirmiyahu says:

    Not sure the Lowrie/Scutaro situation is an overreaction to SSS either. In 2008, Lowrie was a top prospect and earned the starting shortstop gig. The only question since then has been his health and durability. 15 games might not be enough to reevaluate talent, but it (along with spring training) might be enough to evaluate his health.

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  10. -C says:

    I expect this to be the first and last article lamenting Melky Cabrera’s lack of playing time…

    -C

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  11. mike says:

    What about Nyjer Morgan OF losing most of the playing time to Mark Kotsay even before his injury. Morgan was 10/21 with 4 xbh and Kotsay was 5/27 with 0 xbh. Morgan’s defense in RF has also been outstanding while Kotsay’s is average at best.

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  12. matt w says:

    I don’t understand Jarrod Dyson’s stat line at all. Nine plate appearances, three walks, one bunt, three K’s, five SB’s, .000/.375/.000 for a… wOBA of .420 and a wRC+ of 172? How are those last two stats so high? Is it because of the SB’s, which I guess he got through pinch-running?

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Looks like 3 of those SB’s came off of pinch-runs. Those contribute to his wOBA, with the added advantage that the denominator (PA’s) isn’t affected.

      As a practical matter, 5 SB’s would turn 3 walks into two triples and a double. If you think about it like that, the wOBA seems fair.

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  13. joe says:

    Minor nit – I think Lowrie has 7 hits in his last 14 AB’s, one “hit” was a check swing grounder to 3rd that the 3rd baseman dropped and the Boston hometown scorer inexplicably gave him a hit. (They did this on a three hopper by Carl Crawford on a 3 hopper directly at short, though he later overturned another bit of homecooking and ruled it an error)

    Still impressive though.

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  14. Adam R. says:

    Non-entity Steve Pearce is getting starts at third base over Pedro Alvarez on the Pirates.

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  15. Tollk says:

    Man, if there’s one thing I can’t get enough of it’s these “(Person’s Name) All Stars” posts.

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  16. Imran says:

    What about Ryan Raburn?

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  17. YankeesFan3 says:

    Do you think Washington will give Napoli more playing time, or should I drop him for either Wieters or Posada?

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  18. WonkoTheSane says:

    Napoli was acquired to play against LHPs. He’s started against LHPs. He’s played as much as anyone who paid attention to the Rangers this offseason and spring training would have expected him to play — more, probably, since he’s also catching, which he wasn’t expected to do.

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    • wobatus says:

      I had napoli in fanatasy the last few years and I learned to hate Mike Scioscia and his Mathis man crush.

      I bypassed Naps this year, even though he was going to Texas and some said he’d get more at-bats. Washington seems like a D-first catching manager. I don’t think naps is so bad behind the dish that it outweighs his massive hitting upside to most catchers, but this is precisely what I feared.

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  19. TheGrandslamwich says:

    I’m pretty sure next year this list will be made up of mostly the Rays. Their Zobrist cloning project is expected to be complete soon.

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  20. Bobby Bond says:

    I think Brad Emaus was aquired because J. P. Ricciardi drafted him, saw a way to aquire him in the rule 5 and an opportunity to cut costs.

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  21. And benching Mleky would be bad how? He was the worst regular player in the Majors last year and is hitting .273/.278/.403 with a wOBA of .298 and atrocious defense. I’d rather see Dyson out there. Heck, Joey Gathright me be better right now than Melky.

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  22. Ian says:

    Will Rhymes is terrible.

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  23. Kyle says:

    In the words of John Lennon- “All we are saved, if you give Emaus a Chance”

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  24. Melkman says:

    To all the people criticizing the Emaus decision, have you guys WATCHED a Mets game? The kid is in wayyyyy over his head, he has terrible AB’s, and he looks ridiculously nervous on defense. He was simply hurting the team. When Daniel Murphy is superior to you at any position defensively, you should head back to the minors because you have s–t to work on.

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  25. blackoutyears says:

    I think Ryan Roberts is the biggest threat to Parra’s PT, not Bloomquist. Dude can play. OTOH, if Gibby has the guts he’ll stick with RR at 3B even after Mora’s foot is mended.

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  26. Dragon says:

    In the comlpcitaed world we live in, it’s good to find simple solutions.

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