Two Guys Talking: What a Long, Strange Week It’s Been (Balfour, Abreu, Duda, QBC, Omar, Stolen Bases)

Jimmy:

I like Grant Balfour. I really do. Great competitor, fierce as hell. But 2 years, $12 million from the cash-strapped Mets, when there are whispers about his health? I’m confused as to the nature of “the plan” and the resources available.

Mike:

Just guessing, but “the plan” included unloading Ike and having $10 million to spend. Bad plan. As everyone knows, “If you break it you buy it.” We are stuck with Davis. That leaves less money,  and while we played the Ike waiting game player after player was signed. But I still find Balfour a weird choice.

Jimmy:

Last week Bobby Parnell made a couple of curious comments about “still being the closer” and it seemed strange. Like, well, nobody’s going to take his job away. But Balfour clearly would have been the closer. Just odd. It wasn’t on my shopping list. On the other hand, that’s a bold (and expensive) way to improve a bullpen: Demote Parnell to the 8th inning. It makes you wonder.

Mike:

If we are going to take a chance on a player who might be damaged goods, I would have preferred one who plays another position.

Jimmy:

It’s amazing how often this comes up, but Balfour is yet another Billy Beane guy. Here’s Beane giving opportunities to young players left and right, and Sandy’s takeaway is to try to sign Billy’s retreads and cast-offs and aging, overpaid vets. We’re a couple of steps, and a few years, behind.

BalfourRaysPSE

Mike:

When you look at the moves Beane made it is clear he didn’t want Balfour, Young, or Colon. I did hear that Billy was upset that we snuck in and stole Quintanilla from him again.

Jimmy:

I’ll say this, Sandy Alderson still has the capacity to surprise me. Did you see, Mike, that the Mets tried to sign Bobby Abreu? His manager in the Winter League in Venezuela was Dave Hudgens. Bobby was always a great OBP guy.

Mike:

Yes, he was. Managing Abreu must have been very exciting for Hudgins. No matter how old and broken down you get, a player never loses the ability to stand with his bat on his shoulder.

bob-abreu

Jimmy:

The great Metstradamus referred to Abreu as “the outfielder with a wall allergy.”

Mike:

I’m thrilled we did not get him.

Jimmy:

On a related note, there’s talk of giving Duda time in the outfield. I still refuse to believe that this is the mindset, and that the team is going to enter Spring Training with Duda and Davis on the roster. Why is Duda still on the team?

Lucas Duda set to roam the pastures of Flushing once again? Seriously? That's a real idea?

Lucas Duda set to roam the pastures of Flushing once again? Seriously? That’s a real idea?

Mike:

It all keeps coming back to Davis. They wanted Duda, not Davis, to play first, but refused to non-tender Davis.

Jimmy:

Ike’s father went off on the Mets the other day. He said that Sandy “screwed up” and basically backed the team into a corner.

Mike:

rdavis-82Tr_NEWSounds about right to me.

Jimmy:

Some bloggers have been critical of Ron Davis for his remarks, but I think he’s completely correct. The handling of Ike has been a botched, sloppy job by Alderson. My initial take was that Alderson already had a strong sense of the market, and knew that an acceptable deal was there for the taking. I gave him too much credit.

Mike:

That’s the thing with you, you are blinded by your devotion to Sandy.

Jimmy:

I’m sorry I missed the Queens Baseball Convention, but I was needed at home in my capacity as children’s chauffeur. By all reports, the day was a great success.

Mike:

I was able to sneak over for a couple of hours. Awesome job by Mets Police and The 7 Line for making it happen.

Great job by the fans for coming out.

Jimmy:

A lot of people deserve credit and our appreciation for that event. But this is yet another black mark for a clueless Mets organization that is completely out of touch with the fanbase. This should have been their idea, an event they hosted and brought to fans at a fraction of the cost.

Mike:

The Wilpons have never understood marketing to the mass consumer. They made their money in commercial real estate and Ponzi schemes.

Jimmy:

Joe Janish wrote an excellent piece, “Omar Minaya: Myth Vs. Reality.” It’s essential reading. We’ve addressed this topic many times. The accepted narrative about Omar’s time as GM has become twisted and mangled beyond all recognition. Janish tries to introduce facts into the new mythologies.

Here’s Joe in full rant as he tries to burst a few oft-repeated myths:

Which brings me to the other half of that first statement — “Minaya spent wildly and created a concentration in payroll that tipped the franchise over when people got hurt or turned unproductive.”

NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Can I say it any louder in a blog? This is easily the most overused line of bovine feces in Metsville. The Mets didn’t fall apart because the Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Jason Bay contracts were busts — the franchise “tipped over” because Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme tipped over. You can’t tell me that the Mets suffered through any bad luck / bad decisions that was more debilitating than nearly every other team in baseball that took risks. The San Francisco Giants were able to get to the World Series in spite of enormous free-agent busts such as Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito; that the Angels were able to win while suffering through expensive mistakes like Gary Matthews, Jr.; and the Red Sox made annual playoff runs despite having big chunks of payroll dedicated to under-performing or injured players such as John Lackey, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. As a team based in New York, the Mets should have had the financial wherewithal to weather the occasional storms, and spend through the mistakes. And they would have, if their “investments” were more stable than a deck of cards. In 2008, the last year the Mets played at Shea Stadium, attendance was over 4 million and SNY was in its third broadcast season. You’re telling me that a few bad contracts are what crippled the franchise? No way. The Madoff money tree had fallen over, and the owners had put a shit-ton of debt into Fred Wilpon’s 21st-century version of Ebbets Field. The contracts of Bay, Santana, Perez, and Castillo were a pimple on the butt of those two financial catastrophes. 

Mike:

Of course. Shea Stadium rocked from 2005 to 2008. Then came Madoff. It’s never been the same since.

Jimmy:

Another piece I enjoyed was a poorly titled article over at Fangraphs: “Are We Entering the Golden Age of Base-Stealing?” A lot of good, clear info about the pros and cons of the stolen base, a topic that was recently discussed at some length in our comments section.

The Red Rocket, Billy Hamilton.

The Red Rocket, Billy Hamilton.

Mike:

I do think speed on the bases swung from overrated to underrated. Forgetting stolen bases, there are unquantifiable aspects, such as being a distraction to the pitcher.

Jimmy:

You know, I once read a very long piece that attempted to quantify just that. It was smart and thorough. You begin by saying, okay, if that’s true — for example, that Jose Reyes distracts the pitcher — then we should see a corresponding result in the statistical record. For example, batters hitting better in those situations, as opposed to when a slow runner is on base. Or another one, that a fast runner forces errors. Everybody says that. But at least in this one study I read, the statistical record didn’t support it. Don’t get me wrong. I love speed on the basepaths, scoring from second base, going from first to third, reaching on an infield hit, and so on. I like stolen bases. And I love speed on defense. It’s just that it tends to be a little romanticized, the thinking gets fuzzy.

Lastly, Reese Havens announced his retirement. A sad end. On paper, the guy had all the tools. Except one.

Mike:

Craig Swan’s disease takes down another.

This set of 2011 Bowman Chrome now available on eBay . . . cheap, alas.

This set of 2011 Bowman Chrome now available on eBay . . . cheap, alas.

 

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5 comments

  1. Alan K. says:

    The reasons the Wilpons do not host fan events like this is- 1. It won’t help sell tickets, the die hards are going to come anyway and the skeptics and critics aren’t going to come until they see evidence of a better on field product and 2. it might put them in the position having to answer questions from their fan base that they don’t want to answer. The people who come to these types of events are well informed fans who are going to ask pointed questions and aren’t going to be mollified by the corporate spin, and 3. It would result in greater media coverage and plenty of sound bites by disgruntled fans.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I don’t agree with number one. Even diehards have their limits and finding ways to connect to uncynical children can help their revenue line too.

      I still remember vividly meeting players like Tug McGraw and Cleon Jones at team sponsored events at Shea well before 1969. At my age at that time it was thrilling, and it helped make me want to watch the Mets. There were a lot of children at QBC and they had fun. Children drive a lot of sales, unless we all really think Big Macs are delicious and nutritious. Marketing is part of any smart business strategy, period, and the Wilpons don’t know how to do it.

      As for numbers 2 and 3, I cannot agree more.

  2. Alan K. says:

    Good point about kids driving sales and the effect of meeting players. But I think the Mets ownership and management are so sensitive to criticism and the possibility of negative press that they’d be afraid of this type of event.

  3. RAF says:

    As I read the FanGraphs rticle on Base-Stealing, the Red Sox uccess at stealing bases caught my attention- partially because the article drew a correlation between the teams which had Shane Victorino on their roster, over the past 10 years- speciicaly he Phillies and RedSox, who have the top team % stolen bases recordsin 5 of he 10 years. Moreover- I got me thinking bout he Red Sox “approach” to stealing bases— They do it with a pan- that being- they generally limit Stolen Base Attempts to GUYS WHO CAN. DOwn 3-0 to the Yanks n 2004- down to their last 3 outs- Dave Roberts is put into the game as a pinch-runner by Tito Francona after a leadoff walk by Millar. After a little cat n mouse, and a near Pickoff attempt by Mariano Rivera- he steals second on Rivera’s first pitch, and he scores the winning run on abase htby Bill Mueller…Serving as a catalyst n their 4 game sweep to win the series 4-3, leading to their 4 game World Series Sweep of The Cardinals. The Sox picked up Roberts in the back half of the 2004 season SPECIFICALLY for the purpose of sing him as a base-stealer./pinch runner. He’ll never pay for a drink in Boston. In 2013- The Sox picked up Quentin Berry in August Berry Stole a base against Detroit in the ALDS- a series in ich Boston had limited success against Detroit at the plate. I don’t believe Boston “plated” him— but they clearly put him in to steal the base. Berry was something like 24-0 In successful steal attempts in 2013, including a couple important steals during their final stretch to clinch a payoff bid. In 004- Roberts was 38-3. in 2004. He point of this whole “harangue”? They take up roster spots specifically with guys who can situationally steal a base. That’s their plan- their “approach”. They don’t just willy-nilly attempt steals- and they’re not shy at attempting steals with guys who can in very critical situations

    • ERAFF says:

      Confused about “The Plan and The Resources Involved”…… wow…get in Line!

      The roster is better and they could thread a needle and compete…. but it’s a bit of an “Big Lots” as far as the “assemblage”. They’ve frothed over OBP and approach—-they signed some power and a tremendous number of strikeouts.

      I don’t know if they’re building a team, or adding inventory for a mid-season sale.

      Are these the No Closer Needed guys?….am I confused?….are they confused?….. Parnell…Black…a cast of thousands….. is the next 5 million bucks ANOTHER Guy at the back of the bullpen?….on a 78-83 win team!?

      Davis’s 3.5 million plus Duda’s 1.8 PLUS that “balfour 5 million” would seem to equal Stephen Drew—– and They’d still be searching and wondering about 1st base—-but They’re doing That NOW….. and they do not I don’t have Stephen Drew at SS.

      Yes…I’m lost with all of this…. (go mets)

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