NEWS & VIEWS: Leadoff, Trade Comps, Yard Sales, and the Niese Conundrum


Rob Castellano at Amazin’ Avenue had an excellent post on the Mets dire leadoff situation. Some grim facts:

  • At .293, Mets leadoff hitters posted the third-worst on-base percentage in all of baseball.
  • In comparison to the league average leadoff OPS of .719, Mets leadoff hitters posted a dismal .608 mark, good for 29th in all of baseball.
  • Of the four players with more than ten games at the leadoff position last season, Eric Young Jr. performed best at .255/.318/.346. Yet Young’s .664 OPS ranked 25th out of 26 hitters in baseball with at least 65 games batting first; Young ranked 23rd as measured by on-base percentage.

It’s kind of a problem moving forward, don’t you think? Unless you believe Eric Young has turned a corner . . . and is going to play (which would require either Murphy getting traded or Lagares getting benched).


Could EY become the Mets version of Chone Figgins?

Could EY become the Mets version of Chone Figgins?

I don’t think any of us are super excited about EY in that spot but it is hard to make a case for anyone else. I do think it would be easy to get Young Jr. five out of seven games the way the Angels used to deploy Chone Figgins, as a regular without a regular position. That is how I would handle it. I know many are suspicious that doing that is beyond Collins/Alderson (I am equally suspicious of who actually picks the starting lineups.) That seems like a rational fear, I’m bracing myself for Juan Lagares on the bench.



Just a shout out to a solid series of blog posts by Toby Hyde over at MetsMinors. Toby has a simple idea: He takes a major league trade (that involves minor leaguers) and then compares those players to ones in the Mets system. It’s often a dose of reality.

Here he looks at the Dexter Fowler deal, and here’s the Doug Fister trade in Mets prospects/assets. Most recently, he examined the trade of Brett Anderson and $2 million to the Rockies for Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen. He concludes, after some detailed explanation, “this deal is something like Jenrry Mejia and Rainy Lara for Brett Anderson.”

Anyway, I respect what Toby does over there — seems like a good guy to me — and these pieces are informative and provocative.

According to Toby Hyde's analysis, compared to what the Nationals surrendered to obtain Doug Fister, he was easily within the Mets reach in terms of available prospects.

According to Toby Hyde’s analysis, compared to what the Nationals surrendered to obtain Doug Fister, he was easily within the Mets reach in terms of available prospects.


Toby does an excellent job, but it is hard for me to get into the minor league stuff. The team’s policy is to never trade these guys or promote them. Unless I want to start touring backwater America I won’t see any of these players in 2014. And between now and 2015 anything could happen.

I’m not a big fantasy guy, I never read comic books, it’s just not me. Even most of my dreams, I need an element of reality to get into them. The overwhelming majority of minor league players will never be as good as Justin Turner. I’d rather hope that Lucas Duda blossoms.

I consider that more likely than Rainy Lara ever donning a Mets uniform and I don’t have to wait around to find out the answer.


Okay, but. What those pieces attempt to do is guess the similar Mets prospects it would take to get a deal. For example, last year the Nationals traded for Denard Span. Some fan reaction was, “Hey, why didn’t we get Span.” Or “Why didn’t we get Fowler?” Certainly when a guy like Fister gets moved, you wonder if our team missed a big opportunity. In this series, Hyde helps us figure out a reasonable estimate of what the real cost to the Mets might have been. I like the idea of it, I like what he’s done. It’s original content when half the Metsblogosphere is repurposing Adam Rubin articles, looking for clicks.


I hear you, and I’m not doubting that Hyde is doing good work. But we don’t trade prospects anymore, we just don’t do it. Isn’t that the simpler reason we didn’t get Span or Fister? We hold on to every prospect for dear life. Isn’t this a similar exercise as wondering how the team would look if we had a $180 million dollar payroll? We don’t, we aren’t going to, and we don’t trade prospects either. If we ever do again I will pay attention to stuff like this. Yes, it is a fun intellectual exercise and I’m not knocking anyone who wants to play, but I rather just play scrabble.


I read that when it comes to trading Ike Davis, Sandy is standing firm, unblinkingly. He announced, “This is not a yard sale.” And added, “If you break it, it’s yours.” But actually, I think that’s exactly what it has been. What we’re experiencing is the end of the garage sale, when you look at your table of crappy stuff that nobody bought — grandma’s ancient knick knacks, the old shovels with broken handles, the dented bicycles, the battered wicker, etc. Now’s the time when you haul it all back inside again, and pretend you never really wanted to sell that stuff anyway.

GUY IN WHITE SHIRT: "We got a lefty-hitting first baseman in the back shed. Better buy him soon, though, we've had a lot of interest. And I mean, A LOT!"

GUY IN WHITE SHIRT: “We got a lefty-hitting first baseman in the back shed. Better buy him soon, though, we’ve had a lot of interest. And I mean, A LOT!”


Maybe we are trading Ike for a star leadoff hitter, then it will all be worth it.


Who is Jonathon Niese? At times, even he doesn't seem to know.

Who is Jonathon Niese? At times, even he doesn’t seem to know.

Spencer Manners at Mets360 argues that Jonathon Niese is underrated. Clearly, Sandy Alderson signed Niese to a great contract for the Mets. There’s been times when we’ve glimpsed greatness, a lefty with #2-quality stuff, and other stretches where he seems half-hearted. Niese is entering his age-27 season, he’s started 118 games for the Mets with a career ERA of 3.99. He’s never thrown 200 innings (topped 180 only once) and except for 2012, his WHIP has always been above 1.40. A curious case. His 2012 season is the outlier, where he went 13-9 with an ERA of 3.40; many hoped it signaled a turning point. Our lefty was realizing his true potential. Last season, his WHIP climbed from 1.17 to  1.44. Except for 2012, he’s always given up a lot of hits. As in: too many hits. Baseball Reference lists Donovan Osborne and Mike Sirotka as his closest comps. So I ask: What’s the deal with this guy? Are you bullish?


I’ve never been able to fall in love with Niese. I think he’s pretty good, but I agree with Spencer. I think what you see is what you get, and it’s fine. But I don’t see any jumps in performance coming. Harvey shot past him last year, if we are going to have any real success we need Wheeler to do that this year. But on the other hand, if Niese really could become the next Mike Sirotka….

Now there is a dream I can believe in.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS


  1. Leadoff is so irking to me.

    At the moment I am starting to see the Mets going with two black holes at the top of the lineup.

    Personally, I think that they need to find a SS that takes this role given their current layout.


    Is what I’d like to see at this point. But SS who can hit and reach base frequently don’t fall off trees.

  2. Raff says:

    Again with the Ike Davis Trade Talk????? —- Ugghhh… OK – just to show you how much I love “2-Guys”, I’m Sticking with ya on this one. Soooooo- Can anyone shed some light as to how the Mets evaluated 2 players who have crashed and burned over the past 2 years- Ike Davis and Chris Young, and come to a determination that one guy is worthy of 7.5 million and a starting corner outfield position, and the other guy needs a duffel bag and a one way Greyhound ticket?

    • One they screwed up and the other they think they can fix. This is known in some circles as the Oxymoron Waltz. In others the Deceitful Two Step.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Raff, that is a good point. I don’t think I have wrote it on the site, but if I’m Ike Davis agent I begin the arbitration hearing with the words “Chris Young.”

      • Alan K. says:

        Speaking of arbitration, I wonder if the Mets regret tendering Ike a contract. Along with his atrocious numbers the fact that Ike is arbitration eligible has further depressed his trade value. If I’m Davis agent, I think I would sit down after saying the words “Chris Young.”

  3. Raff says:

    Regarding Leadoff- Maybe I’m just a victim of a over-priced “rounded” liberal arts education, but here goes. Your leadoff hitter is guaranteed to Lead off ONE TIME. 162 times over a season. So if your guy has an OBP of .400- he’s on base 65 times. If his OBP is a crappy .310, he’s on base 50 times. A leadoff base runner (single or walk) scores a bit less than 40% of the time. SO, your crappy 310 leadoff hitter scores 20 runs in his game leadoff slot, and your Excelsior .400 guy scores 26 runs leading off the game. A six run difference- hardly a season make or break issue.(check my math) What does concern me, is that the Mets have crappy OBP’s up and down the lineup. At .306- they were 11th out of 15 NL teams. This means that in the other 1296 innings where you have a leadoff batter, the results, or lack thereof, mount… TO me- it’s not about our Lead-off Hitter,. It’s about our Leadoff HITTERS. If you continue doing the math, you’ll find that at just .10 points below the league average- the Mets would project to score a leadoff hitter (regardless of inning) about 60 times less over the course of a season due to their low team OBP, and their concomitant low Leading Off Innings OBP…

    • I think you are missing it by a mile. Think of “leadoff” as table-setter. The guy who gets on base before the team’s best hitters come up. That’s the job. Every at bat, all season long. It is also the spot in the lineup that gets the mosts plate appearances. As I recall, a rule of thumb is 20 more appearances per slot in the lineup. So if #1 gets 700, #2 gets 680, #7 gets 580. It’s a premium spot in the lineup, and it matters.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        Basically this. You want to ramp through the lineup and get lots of players who reach base and ideally the one who does it the best but you are not wasting the pop in their bat, you put them first.

        The Mets lineup is so potentially hideous and unbalanced that one could make a case for just letting David Wright leadoff, but that is a rant for another day.

        Think of it this way, the 1999 Mets lineup was insanely deep.

        Henderson, Alfonzo, Olerud, Piazza, Ventura, CF, Cedeno, Ordonez, pitcher

        Imagine for a second if Ordonez was competent

        Here is their lineup based on OBP

        (note McRae was here early at .320, but often was Agbayani or Hamilton at .363, .410)
        .396 (this is cedeno, 51 starts here, 44 as leadoff, so…)

        That is simply ideal. The Mets had the best OBP in the NL, when calculating for the the fact that they sent pitchers to the plate, that they were 3rd in MLB is outstanding.

        I had this discussion with a friend whom I coach a travel softball team with last summer.

        He was upset I was battering his daughter 5th. But she simply was not ever walking and was the only player making solid contact at that point. We had three kids who were reaching base about 50% of the time, but often getting stranded because no one could drive them in.

    • ERAFF says:

      Bill James is Kvelling!

  4. Michael Geus says:

    A confession, when I wrote this with Jimmy, I did not notice the link back to an actual “Yard Sale” quote. I just assumed it was a joke quote from Jimmy.

    In my defense, it’s hard to believe Sandy could say it with a straight face.

  5. Raff says:

    With Apologies- I just never know when to stop- especially when facts disrupt opinions- and even more especially when I’m told that “I missed the point by a mile.” And, yes-sometimes I discover that facts disrupt MY OWN opinions. I like facts better than opinions. Yes- I recognize the value of a good leadoff hitter- especially their ability to, first and foremost, get on base. SO, I’ll nudge my analysis to address the issue of Setting The Table- as opposed to purely looking at guys leading off innings. Everyone in the lineup is a table-setter for everyone else. The Mets had 6207 Plate appearances in 2013. They got on base at a .306 clip. 1899 base runners “setting the table” The league average was .316. So- If the Entire Team OBP was elevated to League Average- The Mets would have had approximately. 100 base runners “setting the table”.. (I’ve accounted for an additional number AB’s which would have occurred). Even if I just “handed” ANY leadoff hitter in the Mets lineup another 40 points of OBP, at the 700 Plate appearance rate which was mentioned, You’re still only getting an additional 30 instances of a guy On Base- Setting The Table at various points in the game, through the year- Versus an additional 100 (or so) Guys on base “Setting the Table”, if the Entire Team had just an uptick of 10 points. SO, whether you look strictly at Guys Leading off Every Inning with OBP’s JUST 10 points higher- Or whether you consider the issue of the Entire Lineup “Setting the Table”- There is a ton more impact to an uplift of team OBP by a small margin (10 points of OBP), as opposed to focusing on ONE GUY who has an uplift of 40 Points of OBP in the “leadoff” spot. It’s Arithmetic- Not Calculus.

  6. Eraff says:

    Throughout the movie MONEY BALL…. “Because he gets on Base”.

  7. ERAFF says:

    Daniel Murphy and Brett Gardner in a a Trade makes sense…..

  8. dave says:

    Right!!……Get Stephen Drew, already!!

  9. Raff says:

    Love Gardner- But he’s a free agent after 2014. He’s going to get $$$$

Leave a Reply