Touching BasesFebruary 28, 2010
Stakeholders - New York Mets
By Jeremy Greenhouse

From now through the beginning of the regular season, we will not be posting in-depth round-tables previewing each division like we have in years past. Instead we will feature brief back-and-forths with "stakeholders" from all 30 teams. A collection of bloggers, analysts, mainstream writers and senior front office personnel will join us to discuss a specific team's hopes for 2010. Some will be in-depth, some light, some analytical, some less so but they should all be fun to read and we are thrilled about the lineup of guests we have teed up. Today it's Pat Andriola on the New York Mets.

Pat was one of the first people to introduce me to sabermetrics. I returned the favor by introducing him to "The Wire", which he had finished the night before our interview. We used that as a jumping off point.

Jeremy Greenhouse: If Omar Minaya were a character from "The Wire," who would he be?

Pat Andriola: I need a minute to think about this...You know who I think it is, it’s Pryzbylewski. Prezbo is clearly a guy, like Omar as a GM, who is thrown into a certain situation. Prezbo was in the police department where everything lines up for him to be there, but maybe it’s not the best situation for him. Like Prezbo was better off at school, maybe Minaya should be on the sidelines as a scout—head of scouting—because he gets a deer in the headlights look as GM. He makes some silly signings, like Prezbo shoots a cop accidentally. I think that’s it. That’s my on the spot answer.

JG: Nice one. I like that. Let’s talk about the core a little. Or you can just rant on Francesca.

PA: I wrote an article a couple years back on MetsGeek about the core. Right now, Wright, Reyes, Beltran, and Santana I would say is the core.

JG: Is Bay in that core?

PA: Right, I mean what is the core? It means nothing. It’s such a silly term. It’s basically a group of really good players. Like a lot of teams have a core of really good players. The Phillies have a core of really good players. The Yankees have a core of really good players. The question is: can you surround this bunch of really good players with other good players to be competitive? I think Wright is going to have a really good year this year. I think Reyes is going to have a nice year. Santana, we’ll see about the surgery. We’ll see about Bay and how he handles left field in Citi. I think they’ll all be fine. I’m not really worried about them. There are bigger question marks than the core.

JG: So what are your thoughts on Citi Field so far? How do you think Wright and Bay handle it this year?

PA: Aesthetically, I love Citi Field. And I think it does work well for the Mets. It’s very simplistic, but it really does help Reyes to have more room in the outfield to spray the ball and get triples. I mean he didn’t have enough time to take full advantage of it and understand the park and play to the park. If you saw Angel Pagan, Pagan had a bunch of triples last year. And for Pagan to be able to hit liners into the gap and get to third base, that’s the least Reyes could do.

JG: What has to happen for the Mets to make the playoffs?

PA: For the Mets to make the playoffs, I think it comes down to the rotation. Basically, you have Johan at the front. I think he’ll be fine. I think Pelfrey will have a better year than he did last year. I’m a huge Pelfrey fan. So basically it comes down to Perez, Maine, and Niese or whoever else they put in the fifth spot. I’m overly optimistic about the rotation. I’m not about the lineup. But I feel like Perez is going to have a good year. People forget he had some pretty good years 2-3 years ago. I think Maine's fine as a fourth starter. Niese I’m a huge fan of. He’s coming back from a really, really tough injury—the guy literally collapsed on the mound—so it’s tough. Even if it doesn’t work out, they got some good backup options. I wrote an article on The Hardball Times a couple weeks ago about how much I like Nelson Figueroa. I think he can step in if necessary. And if the Mets are competitive at the deadline, they have the prospects to trade for a starting pitcher.

But will the offense produce? Obviously there are so many question marks. Other than David Wright, who’s something of a question mark in himself, there’s no guarantee. We don’t know how Bay’s going to adjust to Citi Field and the NL. We don’t know about Beltran. We know about Francoeur, but that’s a different story. Murphy and Tatis at first, Castillo at second, Reyes coming back, the catcher is now Barajas, Thole, Santos, Chris Coste, everyone else you want to throw in there. The offense has so many question marks. It's clearly possible, they have enough talent, the question will be when they play out the season, how’s the talent going to come together?

JG: How many WAR would you say for that first base platoon?

PA: Assuming for just the guys on the Mets right now, basically just Tatis and Murphy, it all depends on how Murphy does defensively. I think Murphy will put up one WAR. I think Tatis will put up—I say two WAR combined. I think they both put up one. That’s basically because I think Murphy will be pretty good defensively this year.

JG: How good defensively? I mean considering the positional adjustment. Do you think he’s a league average hitter?

PA: Oh yeah, he’s definitely a league average hitter. I’m not a big Murphy fan personally. I don’t think he’s good enough to play first base every day. I definitely think he’s good enough to hit .270/.335/.4-whatever.

JG: I know you're an atheist, but how do you explain the existence of Jenrry Mejia?

PA: If you’re going to say that it’s God, it has to be that God hates the Dominican Republic to the point where he makes it so destitute that the only option young kids can turn to is baseball, and that’s why Mejia is so good. So maybe that’s the only God point rather than God created his right arm.

I love Mejia, I’ve talked about him forever. I’m really worried the Mets are going to put him in the bullpen to start the season. I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope they put him back in Binghamton next year. His peripherals in Binghamton were really solid last year. I hope he continues to prosper there and move up the ranks. I don’t want to see him get thrown in. He has that look of a set-up guy or closer that people can think "Oh, this is one of those late-inning guys, a K-Rod because of that electric arm." And they can forget that he can actually be a very good starter if they leave him in the minors for long enough.

JG: Where would you rank Fernando Martinez in the top 100?

PA: You saw what I wrote on THT. I got a little heat for that. Project prospect, which I think is the premier web site for prospect analytics right now, they put him 10. I would actually be less bullish than that. I would probably put him at 20 right now. So I did my rankings for the Mets, I put F-Mart first. He’s proven so much at such a young age, I don’t buy into the ceiling argument for Mejia just yet because I think F-Mart’s ceiling is just as high if not higher. So I would put F-Mart 20, and I need to see more from Mejia than just the one year. I know the scouts drool over him. I drool over him. But I would still put him around 40-45ish.

Pat Andriola is a junior at Tufts University who writes for The Hardball Times. He just finished an economics internship in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. He can be followed on Twitter @tuftspat.


"The Yankees have a core of really good players."

Every reference in NY sports media to the Yankees "core" specifically refers to the members of the late 1990s dynasty that are still playing, namely Pettite, Posada, Rivera, and Jeter. I guess this is the Yankees equivalent of the Old Guard. As these guys retire the word in the Yankees context will no doubt be used differently.

The Mets rotation is nothing to be optimistic about. People, including Pat, seem to be confusing the promise of Pelfrey, Perez, Maine, and Niese, with their *performance*. The four of them have put together all of *three* above average seasons over the last five years. That's three, total. Never mind the serious injuries to every member of the rotation except for Pelfrey, there isn't a rotation's two through five among the would-be contenders with that weak a track record. With regard to Perez, Pat said, "People forget he had some pretty good years 2-3 years ago." Pat himself seems to be forgetting Perez had all of *one* fairly good year three years ago, then one average year two years ago, and that Perez pitched in luck both years.

I think the Mets have the most stupid advisors
in all of baseball.They will be lucky if they
finish ahead of the Nationals.