sitemeter:

January 4, 2007
  
2006 Mets in Review: Middle Infielders

2006 Second Basemen: .244/.300/.406

For the first two months of the season, Kazuo Matsui and Anderson Hernandez shared the second base job. While both players played good defense, they were pathetic at the plate as they combined to post a .184/.212/.260 batting line in over 200 plate appearances last season. The Mets turned to Jose Valentin as a last resort and, luckily for the Mets, he responded.

Despite a horrible April in which he struggled mostly as a pinch hitter, Valentin emerged as a vital part of the 2006 Mets. Not only did Valentin finish the season with a .820 OPS, he was remarkably good defensively at second despite having only played a handful of games at the position prior to 2006.

Potential Minor League Help for 2007

Anderson Hernandez has shown that he can play fine defense at second base in his short stints at the major league level. Unfortunately, his work with a bat in his hand has earned him the dubious nickname of IPOR (In Play, Out(s) Recorded). Hernandez was also pretty awful in AAA this year, hitting only .249/.285/.295 in over 400 plate appearances. At this point, I don’t think Hernandez has much of a chance of ever playing a significant role for the Mets. Ruben Gotay, whom the Mets acquired from the Royals for Jeff Keppinger, is much more likely to be part of the Mets’ future in my opinion. Gotay was once quite the prospect for the Royals and will only be 24 years old next season. Gotay has a career minor league OPS of .778 which is more than respectable and still has the potential to be a starting second baseman at the big league level. I think that Gotay was rushed by the Royals and that has hurt his development. That said, the upcoming season will tell us a lot about whether Gotay will fulfill his potential. It’s not likely, but certainly possible, that Gotay could help the Mets in 2007 if needed.

2007 Guesstimate

Valentin’s an older player so it’s difficult to expect him to be as good next year as he was last year. Still, there’s reason to be optimistic that Valentin can be a solid contributor as long as he doesn’t face lefties very often. In fact, Valentin has slugged better than .500 against righties every season since 2000 except for his injury plagued 2005 season. I think Valentin can hit .270/.325/.450 against righties and if Damion Easley can be a decent platoon partner, the Mets should get more production out of second in 2007 than they did last year.

2006 Met Shortstops: .297/.351/.486

Although Jose Reyes was looking better at the plate than he did in 2005 early last season, he was only hitting .246/.308/.410 on June 9th. But from that point until the end of the year, he hit .335/.384/.537 to emerge as one of the game’s most dynamic players. Reyes had an incredible 13-games stretch during the season in which he hit an astounding .561/.583/.912 in 60 plate appearances to raise his OPS from .722 to .856. Defensively, Reyes was drastically better in 2006 as he showed much better range and greater consistency in the field. Reyes has always had the potential to be one of the best all-around players in the game. In 2006, that potential became a reality.

Potential Minor League Help for 2007

None; Jose is here to stay.

2007 Guesstimate

When a player as young and talented as Reyes has the type of year he did last year, there’s the temptation to expect him to get even better. I wouldn’t be shocked if Reyes were better in 2007 than he was in 2006 but I’m not sure it’s fair to expect that from him. I’d be more than happy for Reyes to have a similar year to 2006 next season and I think that is a reasonable expectation.


23 Responses to “2006 Mets in Review: Middle Infielders”

  1. Comment posted by Raskolnikov on January 4, 2007 at 2:04 am (#206829)

    Another great review, Russlan.

    At some point, we really do need to figure out this 2B hole. I guess this year we’ll know whether Gotay is for real. I still wouldn’t rule IPOR out yet, it was an extreme pitcher’s environment he played in last year. I doubt he’ll ever be elite, but IPOR could be a passable 2Bman someday.

  2. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 4, 2007 at 3:29 am (#206834)

    While Gotay’s .778 minor league OPS isn’t bad, I wouldn’t call it particularly encouraging either.

    As for A-Hern, if he continues to struggle with the bat, he should stop switch-hitting. He has a much better swing, more power, and appears more confident when batting right-handed. I see 30 steals and multiple Gold Gloves in his future if he can somehow become adequate at the plate. Find a way, Anderson! That layout grab he made on the looper to short right field in April was the most athletic defensive play I’ve seen in years.

  3. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 4, 2007 at 3:48 am (#206835)

    he was only hitting .246/.308/.410 on June 9th . . . Reyes had an incredible 13-games stretch during the season in which he hit an astounding .561/.583/.912

    I wouldn’t expect either one of these to happen again… not that it matters. From June 27th on, Reyes hit .303/.352/.486 — almost identical to his full-season rates of .300/.354/.487. So, I think that’s an accurate representation of where he’s at now.

    As for Jose’s defense, he still doesn’t get to a lot of balls that, off the bat, look like they should be outs to me. I think his positioning and first-step reactions still are not the best, and the occasional comment by a Met coach has backed me up on this.

    For 2007, I’d be surprised if we saw huge improvement in any facet of Jose’s game. However, if his concentration level jumps up a notch at some point, we may see even fewer wasted ABs, more grounders gobbled up, and an even better stolen base rate. It may never happen… or it may happen this April. Personally, my bet’s on 2009 (at about the age when most players enter their primes).

  4. Comment posted by argonbunnies on January 4, 2007 at 3:54 am (#206837)

    A-Hern at Norfolk in 2006:
    .234/.271/.264 vs RH
    .293/.328/.379 vs LH (zero homers, so forget my “more power” comment)

  5. Comment posted by Raskolnikov on January 4, 2007 at 4:21 am (#206838)

    A-Hern at Norfolk in 2006:
    .234/.271/.264 vs RH
    .293/.328/.379 vs LH (zero homers, so forget my “more power” comment)

    Yeah, I wonder where one can find minor league splits before this year. I wonder if IPOR has always had such significant platoon splits. If so, IPOR may be capable of serving as Stache’s RH platoon partner.

    Gotay is supposedly trying a more patient approach. Next year will be the telltale year for him.

    We need you, Yuleski.

  6. Comment posted by U-Right on January 4, 2007 at 7:32 am (#206841)

    Next year Valentin will have to go. This year we will deal.
    Maybe we need to bring back Woodward ;)

  7. Comment posted by sweetlew on January 4, 2007 at 9:00 am (#206843)

    Hey there is not off topic thread yet, so excuse the non-baseball talk,

    but good for Chad Pennington…AP Comeback Player of the Year!

    Back to baseball….;)

  8. Gravatar
  9. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:05 am (#206844)

    great work russlan, this is a solid featurue

    I’m surprised this wasn’t rewritten at the last moment to add david newhan.

    All he does is win games. right rask? lol ;)

  10. Comment posted by sweetlew on January 4, 2007 at 9:08 am (#206845)

    234/.271/.264 vs RH
    .293/.328/.379 vs LH (zero homers, so forget my “more power” comment

    Power doesn’t necessarily equal homeruns.

    I concurr. Hernandez needs to stop switch hitting and only hit as a righty.

    His glove is good enough, that I think he would be a great contributor with a .700 OPS.

    Especially with the offense we get from SS, 3B and CF

  11. Comment posted by sweetlew on January 4, 2007 at 9:10 am (#206846)

    Russlan…why do you think that neither Reyes or Wright — both only 23 years old mind you — will not continue to improve?

    I don’t expect Reyes to make exponential leaps every year, but I could see a .05-.15 point increase in OBP and SLG resulting in a .10 - .30 increase in OPS.

    I also agree with Argon’s point that sometime around 2009, Reyes is going to finish in the top three MVP voting. If he can hit 25 HRs to go with 60 steals, the voters will adore him!

  12. Comment posted by Danny on January 4, 2007 at 9:13 am (#206847)

    That layout grab he made on the looper to short right field in April was the most athletic defensive play I’ve seen in years.

    IPOR (I love the nickname) is the shiznit defensively. That play was technically even better than Endy’s ridiculous catch in Game 7. But of course Endy’s was more dramatic, stole a homerun, and will live in postseason lore. But IPOR’s grab was insanely good.

    Reyes will improve, although maybe the statistics in 2007 won’t bear that out. I don’t know why someone would question his level of concentration, he was the guy that didn’t fall off after signing the big contract. Reyes is an extremely hard worker and is obviously coachable. I really believe that Rickey Henderson helped him immensely in spring training when he debunked all that “don’t swing at the first pitch” junk that people were always saying. Rather, Rickey told him, swing at only these pitches on the first pitch. An important distinction, to say the least.

    Of all the 25 and under position players in the game, I take Reyes over anyone, with Mauer a close second.

  13. Gravatar
  14. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:15 am (#206848)

    that play was technically even better than Endy’s ridiculous catch in Game 7.

    I disagree, I’m not saying Endy’s catch was technically better, but how can you rank ahernz play better?

    he backed up on a ball, went all out and caught it. endy backed up on a ball and leaped up practically over a wall and caught the ball.

    they’re the same level of dexterity to me.

  15. Gravatar
  16. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:17 am (#206849)

    he was the guy that didn’t fall off after signing the big contract.

    ha. 2 days in a row DW is taking heat for this! I like it!

  17. Gravatar
  18. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:18 am (#206850)

    I really believe that Rickey Henderson helped him immensely in spring training when he debunked all that “don’t swing at the first pitch” junk that people were always saying.

    this annoys me and is very evident during the game threads, but it will always happen i guess.

    anytime a player makes an out on the first pitch ppl will blast him for swinging at the first pitch.

    if he gets a hit, then hey that’s ok ;)

  19. Comment posted by sweetlew on January 4, 2007 at 9:22 am (#206851)

    The problem I have with the Mets is that I see a lot of first pitch swings resulting in weak ground outs or pop-ups. No excuse for that.

    A first pitch deep fly, line drive out, or hard grounder is acceptable, it means the hitter swung at a pitch in his zone and hit it hard. I hate to see the first pitch pop-up or weak grounder! Especially early in the game. Our offense would rise to the level of devestatiing if they could work starting pitchers over a little more in the early innings.

  20. Gravatar
  21. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:23 am (#206852)

    oh well on loretta, he wants PT, more than he’ll get here:

    Free-agent infielder Mark Loretta has told the Rangers he will sign elsewhere, reports the Dallas Morning News.

    According to the report, the Rangers intended to use Loretta as a backup infielder and right-handed DH, hopes to sign with a club that can offer him more playing time.

  22. Comment posted by Danny on January 4, 2007 at 9:23 am (#206853)

    Our offense worked pitchers over great last year. People are ridiculous about the first swing stuff. If it’s a fastball down the middle, swing at it. If you don’t square up on it, it’s a physical error and those happen. It is not a mental error. If you flail at some curveball and pop it up, criticize away. But not swinging at a “get me ahead” fastball is not working the pitcher, it’s giving away the easiest pitch to hit in the at-bat.

  23. Gravatar
  24. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:25 am (#206854)

    The problem I have with the Mets is that I see a lot of first pitch swings resulting in weak ground outs or pop-ups. No excuse for that.

    is that the wrong thing to look at? the result is not that important to me.

    I dont care as long as they swing at fastballs in their zone.

    who cares what they do with the pitch?

    Just because a player just misses a pitch doesnt mean it was the wrong pitch to swing at. these guys are human after all

  25. Gravatar
  26. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:29 am (#206855)

    But not swinging at a “get me ahead” fastball is not working the pitcher, it’s giving away the easiest pitch to hit in the at-bat.

    even though it wasnt a fastball, all i can think of is C-Bel in game 7!!! AHHHH!!!!

  27. Gravatar
  28. Comment posted by El Deppo on January 4, 2007 at 9:32 am (#206856)

    oh joy:

    Latest On Unit Trade
    Ken Davidoff of Newsday reports that the Randy Johnson trade is “all but finalized.” He says Johnson has agreed to the one-year extension and only minor differences remain.

    The deal still might take another two or three days to complete. Arizona still needs to review Johnson’s physical. Reliever Luis Vizcaino will definitely be included, but the teams have not agreed on a young pitcher.

    The North County Times reported on Tuesday that the Padres were trying to slip in with an offer including Scott Linebrink. Today the Newark Star-Ledger found a source that indicated San Diego could still be in the mix.

  29. Comment posted by Raskolnikov on January 4, 2007 at 9:33 am (#206857)

    All he does is win games. right rask? lol ;)

    David Newhan plays the game the right way.

  30. Comment posted by Joe A. on January 4, 2007 at 11:46 am (#207021)

    Loretta is set to sign with the Astros. So much for playing time - unless Biggio is going back to the OF.

  31. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on January 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm (#207111)

    I still like the idea of a trade for Erick Aybar of the Angels for a future 2B. He´s an outstanding defensive SS, and can thus probably make the shift easily, and is an offensive contributor as well. He´s blocked in Anaheim/LA, so I´d love it if Omar could trade for him (but not Pelfreyhumbermilledgegomezfmart).

rss/syndication: