Should Sandy Alderson trade or extend two of the Mets' most valuable assets?
I have two distinct memories of April 29, 2009. One is that Jerry Manuel, then with the Mets, made the single worst managerial decision I’ve ever seen. The other is that what should have been a treat—a Mets fan then living in Boston treated to a rare nationally televised game in resplendent high definition—was somewhat soured by the commentary of then-ESPN analyst and former Mets GM Steve Phillips, whose aesthetically pleasing screen presence was overshadowed by the negative associations of his time with the team.
Late in the game, talk turned to Phillips’ tenure as Mets general manager (which lasted from 1997-2003, or as I like to call it, forever). Phillips said some interesting things about having to learn to run an office and handle a large-market press corps and added a few other nuggets to remind us that being a GM would be much easier if it really were all spreadsheets and video. What he said next, though—a little side comment you’ve surely heard from your favorite team’s general manager, star player, manager, or owner—has stuck with me ever since. This was over three years ago, so allow me to paraphrase somewhat:
A look at 10 new managerial candidates, and a conversation with Mets manager Terry Collins.
The All-Star break is coming into view, yet no managers have been fired this season. In fact, there have been only a few reports of any of the 30 major-league skippers even possibly being in trouble. But it will eventually happen. Some owner will finally get fed up, drop the axe, and his club will begin a managerial search.
Baseball's Cousin Oliver, baseball's do-gooder cartoons, baseball's sadistic game show, and the most soap-opera name ever.
If you follow the entertainment industry, you’ve no doubt heard of upfronts—the annual meeting at which broadcasters preview their fall slate for advertisers. Upfronts are a lavish affair, held at grand venues in New York City. TV networks delivered their upfront pitches two weeks ago.
What you may not know is that Major League Baseball also holds upfronts for their prospective sponsors. This year’s event was on Friday, May 18 at the Office Suites of Bayonne in the Gateway Region of New Jersey. Baseball Prospectus’ entertainment correspondent, Ian Miller, attended this year’s event, and has these highlights of fall baseball programming. Part 1, the American League, appeared last week.
David Wright's newfound plate discipline has helped him bat near .400 for the season's first two months, and an interview with Yu Darvish.
David Wright and Ike Davis play on opposite corners of the Mets' infield. Their hitting approaches and results in the first quarter of this season also couldn't be more opposite. Wright is off to the best start of what has been a fine career. The 29-year-old third baseman has a triple-slash line of .399/.497/.601 in 173 plate appearances. Now healthy after being limited to 102 games because of back problems last season, Wright seems to have taken his game to another level in 2012.
David Wright's walk year isn't until 2013, but 2012 has been his walk year in another way.
David Wright will qualify for free agency at the end of 2013, barring a contract extension. Coming up with a superior third baseman to hit the open market over the past decade proves difficult. The best candidates are Adrian Beltre (thrice if you include his post-Seattle dip) and Alex Rodriguez (though he never seemed to entertain non-Yankees suitors). Wright is a five-time, soon-to-be six-time, All-Star, a two-time winner of the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at third base, and a three-time top-10 finisher in MVP voting. Franchise third basemen at Wright’s age (he turns 30 in December) seldom hit free agency.
Wright’s .412/.513/.626 line serves two purposes: it paces the Mets and perpetuates the contract year myth. Invariably, Wright’s line will deflate. His batting average will drop below .400, his on-base percentage below .500, his slugging percentage below .600. Citi Field’s walls receded, but Wright isn’t likely to blow past his previous best season (.325/.416/.546 in 2007) by nearly .170 OPS points. But that reality aside, there is reason to think Wright’s gaudy start holds some genuine improvement.
Can Josh Hamilton or David Wright do it? And what does 'it' really mean?
April and May are Crazy Stat Months (copyright 2012… ah, never mind). Josh Hamilton is slugging .877, and on pace for 94 home runs. Emilio Bonifacio could steal 80 bases if he continues like this, and at this rate Adam Dunn will strike out over a million times*. Hamilton’s 94-homer thing is clearly nuts, as it would best Bonds’ single season mark by 21. His slugging percentage would be a record as well, though not by such a substantial margin. Bonds slugged .863 in 2001, the year he hit 73 homers, and Babe Ruth slugged .847 and .846 in 1920 and 1921, respectively. Plus, who but us pudding-eating basement dwellers pays attention to slugging percentage? Dunn’s 1 million strikeouts won’t happen because I made them up. And who cares, relatively speaking, about stealing 80 bases nowadays? Boooooring.
* It’s really 234 strikeouts for Dunn. I added an extra 999,766 for emphasis.
The punches keep on coming for the Mets, while other players deal with various sprains, bruises, and soreness.
David Wright, New York Mets (Partial Rectus Abdominis Tear)
Things just got worse for the Mets. After further tests, Wright was diagnosed with a partially torn rectus abdominis muscle toward the left side of his abdomen, which is in the same areas as the obliques. The treatment won’t be much different from oblique treatment; Wright will initially focus on rest and modalities like ice and gentle motion. Wright will then move to strengthening exercises and, eventually, baseball-related activities.
Wright’s soreness lingered longer than expected, so he had an ultrasound-guided injection to help calm the inflammation. The third baseman feels like he should be back in time for Opening Day, but that might be overly optimistic when you consider his comps are Ryan Zimmerman (who needed surgery) and Kevin Slowey (who didn’t). Both missed a little over two months’ time because of their partial tears, but the range of a “partial tear” is quite large. It looks like Wright will be back before the two-month mark, but we need to keep the extended timeline in mind. Both hitting and fielding can aggravate the injury, so we will have to wait and see how he responds to those activities.
The Mets' injury parade drags on, while the Brew Crew might lose an important hitter for the start of the season.
Ike Davis, New York Mets (Valley Fever)
Davis, who is on the mend from a 2011 ankle injury, has been diagnosed with “likely” having valley fever. Valley fever is a soil-dwelling fungus typically found in southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and it grows during rainy periods. The spores can break off and be inhaled whenever the soil is disrupted. Valley fever is generally benign, but more severe cases can include pneumonia, lung nodules, or the fungus spreading to other parts of the body. In severe cases, oral antifungal medications are used.
Davis underwent a routine chest x-ray during his spring physical, but the results were determined to be abnormal. After consulting multiple pulmonary and infectious disease specialists, he was diagnosed with a mild form of valley fever. He is not on any medications, but he must try to avoid extreme fatigue. Conor Jackson also had valley fever, but Davis is expected to make a full recovery without missing any time.
As the Mets embark upon an uncertain rebuilding phase, they're putting their faith in young pitchers, as they've done before.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Jonathan Bernhardt is a freelance writer born in Baltimore who lives and works in New York City. He is an occasional contributor to the Et tu, Mr. Destructo? blog.