News and Views: Waiting for Noah, Duda on the Couch, the Hudgens Farewell Tour, and More

New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in FloridaMike:

No matter the severity of his current injury, it now sure seems like a foregone conclusion that we will not see Noah Syndergaard around these parts in 2014.

Jimmy:

I know you’ve felt from the outset that Noah would not come up this season, but now the complication of this injury certainly makes it seem less likely. We will see what happens.

Mike:

The first time we ever discussed Lucas Duda, on October 24, 2012, I concluded the post with the following:

“In the end I see Duda very much like Huskey and Milligan before him. A flawed platoon player with some pop who has a major league career during his younger pre-free agent years and an endangered species after that.”

If I could edit that I would now write, “who has a major league career on some bad teams during his younger pre-free agent years and an endangered species after that.”

And what a shame that the Mets are those bad teams. Anyway, I hope Lucas isn’t spending all his money, because his clock is ticking loudly.

Jimmy:

Opportunity knocked in a big way and, to date, he never got off the couch. I imagine him snarfing a bowl of popcorn, hollering, “Mom! Somebody’s at the door! MOM??!! THE DOOR!!!”

Mike:

When I finally made it out to the ballpark, all of the defensive shifting was astounding to see. shiftsYou don’t always get the full view on TV. It has become dramatic, and quite commonplace. And, I’m sorry, but these players take batting practice every day, they really can’t figure out how to place a decent bunt down? It wouldn’t have to be a great bunt, just keep the ball in play. These shifts are taking hits away from hitters, balls slammed up the middle are becoming routine outs. The antidote seems simple to me, why isn’t it happening?

Jimmy:

Not just the bunt, but simply going the other way every once in a while, old-fashioned bat control, shooting the ball through the hole.

I’ll start with two factors: 1) From what I’ve read, the shifts have had a profound effect on offenses around baseball. There are guys out there who count and calculate this stuff — I’m always a little dubious — but they’ve put numbers on the amount of hits taken away by the shift. It’s a lot. Some hitters have been really hurt by the shifts, which are on a dramatic rise all over baseball.

2) Babe Ruth has been credited with changing the way batters swing. There was a time, before the long ball, when hitters genuinely tried to “hit ‘em where they ain’t.” You see that remnant in millan-felixBP at some places: 5 to LF, 5 to CF, 5 to RF. Situational hitting. As baseball changed, that skill got de-emphasized. Players concluded that it was better to keep the power swing, the home run potential, rather than surrender to the shift. That was the Ted Williams method, anyway, but Ted was a pretty special player. Maybe now there’s a new opportunity for the Felix Millan-type hitter (though, of course, they don’t put the shift on against guys like him). Good topic, very interesting, I’m glad you brought it up. In an article I read just this morning, the writer was speculating about the limits of old-fashioned scorekeeping. What does a 5-3 mean when David Wright is standing close to second base? Or a 4-5-3 DP? So as the demands on infielders change, we may see greater value on the adaptable defender — for example, a third-baseman who can play a passable short for a few plays a game.

Mike:

If we are going to have replay than managers should be automatically ejected if they leave the earl-weaverfield. For the wistful folks, you are not going to see any more Earl Weaver histrionics, those days are now over. The only reason these guys are coming out now is to stall, and it’s dumb. Football coaches don’t run on the field with their flags in their pocket waiting for a signal from the press conference. I thought that was what baseball wanted, to emulate football?

Jimmy:

It’s absurd. Tom Verducci just wrote a piece that lists 12 ways to speed up the game. I think the notion that these guys have to wait for full season to evaluate replay is absurd. We can all see the obvious abuses. Tweak it on the fly, make it better now, today.

Mike:

Following Dave Hudgens’ farewell tour (the Derek Jeter of hitting coaches), Sandy Alderson jumped on the Michael Kay show to do some quick damage control. I taped it to make sure I had everything accurate if he said anything interesting, but mostly it was just another boilerplate Alderson interview. One thing I did pay attention to was when he was asked why he signed Chris Young for the money he did, when he did. The first thing Sandy said was he was looking for someone who played centerfield. In fact, he mentioned Young being able to play centerfield three times as justification. Including justification for the urgency of the signing, as Young was signed very early in the process. The words, “protection for centerfield,” came up a lot.

What that means is Alderson looked at the roster and decided playing Lagares every day was riskier than Tejada. Riskier than Duda/Davis. After seeing Lagares play center the way he did last year, for the major league minimum, he thought the teams biggest area of need was center. Knowing, certainly, that the overall budget would be small. And remember, if this team had committed to Lagares and not brought in Chris Young, they still had Kirk and Matt den Dekker in the organization. Both of them are better defensively than Young, both hit from the left side, both would have been playing for the minimum. Both have a little pop, just like Chris Young, and both would probably hit .200. Just like Chris Young.

The payroll was discussed at length with Kay, and I agree that is the biggest current issue. But if this team is ever going to spend freely again, is Sandy Alderson the guy you want doing the shopping?

Dave Hudgens thinks so, I’m not so sure about that.

juan-lagares

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 comments

  1. It is as if the man supposedly running the team, is doing that, “generally” managing things when he is between Tweeting photos about his golden retriever every 8 months.

    That a man who is supposedly as intelligent and revered as he is could possibly say that Chris Young was needed to play centerfield with as you point out, Ruben Tejada and the firstbase depth lingering is just mind boggling.

  2. Eric says:

    When I heard “Noah heading to NY” I got excited, until I heard the rest of the headline. I think he could still pitch for the Mets this year, and the DL trip will help limit his innings. Who knows? He could be on the mound for the 90th win this season…

  3. At the end of last season, the consensus here regarding CF was, whew, at least we don’t have to worry about that position this off-season. Not that we were convinced he’d hit — some believed, others hoped, a few doubted — but we were certain that he merited the playing time. At worst, Lagares would give the Mets high-quality defense at a critical position. With that glove, we reckoned, he could play every day. Unless the offense completely failed to progress (a .630 OPS wouldn’t cut it, but a .700 surely would).

    The scary part is the horrific evaluation talent we’ve seen from the Mets front office. They didn’t recognize Lagares’ talent . . . for years. Remember, he sat on the bench for Rick Ankiel, who was dropped by the Astros. The didn’t see the defense, they failed to recognize the offensive potential, and the disrespected the work ethic (didn’t see into the kid’s heart, if you will).

    A complete and total whiff on a guy they saw every day.

    Forget the Chris Young aspect, which is another massive failure.

    There’s a scenario where Lagares never gets this shot. In fact, it was THE PLAN, in my opinion. If Chris Young did not get hurt out of Spring Training, Lagares sits and plays irregularly. If Chris Young hits at all — and I mean, north of .230 — he’d be entrenched. The plan was never to take a veteran and bounce him from LF to CF and back again. No way. The off-season plan was for CY to take over the job, for EY to bat leadoff, and for Juan to become the 4th guy, maybe the 5th. It is only by complete accident, and by Juan’s tremendous will and good fortune that he started (and stayed) hot, that the plan got scratched. Temporarily. For now.

    I’m saying that he’s one of the real bright spots so far — and these guys never saw it coming, and failed to properly value his defense. Remember the comments about how offense would trump defense in the evaluations? The stage was all set to screw over Juan Lagares, one of the most popular players on the team.

    So, yeah, Sandy still scares me and I think TC is a problem.

  4. Eraff says:

    I’ve been surprised to see LH Hitters taking pitches…working a deep count—maybe accepting a walk versus laying down an easy bunt or hitting a ground ball to the left side against these over shifts.

    …and Another Thing!!!…. the Mets had a 3-5-3 double play a few days ago. It used to be that you’d be able to “picture” what happened based on 3-5-3. In this case, Wright was shifted and he covered 2nd base.

    The shift is a logical response to the REFUSAL to employ Situational Hitting…and now the shift itself creates a situation—also not addressed by hitters. Amazing thing about some of the analytics today. We have fully featured defenses based on statistics, but a very low level of tactics with the bat.

    • Michael Geus says:

      You are right, when you look at ESPN now and see 3-5-3, or 6-4-3 you have no idea where the ball was hit. Of the two games I went to, the Yankees actually shifted the most, and radical shifts too.

      It was wild to see.

  5. Eraff says:

    I’ve been on the fence regarding Thor. He pitched just 112 innings last year. They have a strong handful of young arms up now. I’m more concerned that they let those guys stay and pitch in a large capacity. That includes “the ugly starts to come” that I anticipate from Wheeler, DeGrom, Montero.

    The big frustration of WAITING with Syndergaard is that they might shelve him until NEXT June and July—Soop 2.

  6. Reese Kaplan says:

    I had recently said in passing that CY is actually hitting worse than EY and that’s setting the bar at limbo champion height.

  7. Michael Geus says:

    To combine a couple of things from today, the shift is deployed against Chris Young quite a bit, and he keeps hitting right into it.

    I wonder how much of his regression the last few years is due to the shifts and his inability to change his method of attack.

    • Eraff says:

      CY has a Major problem with contact, to my eye…I wonder what the contact rates are for him. Worse (yeah…it gets worse!), he is now Lost in a swarm of stances and crouches… sad to see. He needs some decompression at the MILB level right now because he CANNOT hit.

  8. Raff says:

    Good stuff. I heard Joe Madden in a pre-game interview last week> He said, “The field has literally shifted, it really has. And it’s not going to come back,” “The only thing that would cause it to come back are the hitters themselves playing a different game where they’re more willing to use the opposite field.” He also used the term “Psychological Warfare” when describing the effect on the opposing batter and team when they lost a hit or run scoring oppty due to the shifts. As far as the replay goes— This little Game Delay Waltz that managers are performing is akin to watching some of those fake-flop injuries in World-Cup Soccer. MLB has to devise some limitation on how many times a manager can leave he dugout. Once they’ve got dirt under their cleats- it should be charged as a trip to the mound or a challenge— Don’t know how specifically it could be done.

  9. IB says:

    The replay rule. The block the plate rule. More rules. Rules have destroyed the NFL (in my book) and it looks like baseball is following the same controlling course. During the Met-Yankee series, I was incensed with Girardi’s leaps to the top step on every bang-bang play. And, of course, the camera has to capture the tense “drama”. Pathetic.

    • James Preller says:

      I actually think the replay rule is a positive development, but it’s a work in progress. Some kinks to iron out, for sure. I just don’t think they need the full 2,400 games to figure out the obvious tweaks.

  10. Michael Geus says:

    Duda bunts for a hit tonight to beat the shift that leads to a run. Excellent.

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