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September 12, 2007
  
Assembling a Playoff Roster: Part I
by: Dan Scotto on Sep 12, 2007 12:44 AM | Filed under: Articles

I think it’s high-time to start putting together a playoff roster. I’ll divide this piece into two sections. This week, I’ll lay out the candidates. Next week, I’ll sift through the debates and roster management issues and try to produce an actual playoff roster.

In traditional Bill Simmons format, here are some classifications of Met players and their playoff roster candidacies:

The Core

David Wright (3B)
Jose Reyes (SS)
Carlos Beltran (CF)

The Mets’ big three carry the team, undoubtedly. Wright’s solidifying an MVP season with a stellar September (he’s taken over the race, in my mind, over the past three weeks). Reyes is one of the best shortstops in the league, and Beltran’s conveniently crushing the ball down the stretch.

Barring Injury, Starters

Pedro Martinez (P)
Tom Glavine (P)

Martinez and Glavine simply don’t fit into the bullpen mix at this time. “Fragile” should be the operative word with Pedro, and throwing him in relief might “blow the whole works,” to quote Ed Harris from Apollo 13. And Glavine’s a starter, through and through, what with the 73% quality start percentage. The ERA’s not gorgeous, but Glavine’s kept the Mets in almost every game he’s pitched.

Starters? Relievers?

Orlando Hernandez (P)
Oliver Perez (P)
John Maine (P)

I think that your first impulse here has to be El Duque to the ‘pen, because he’s done it with such acumen in the past. But Duque’s been marvelous this year as a starter, and Perez and Maine have been spotty over the past couple of months. Since the All-Star Break:

Name     GS    IP   HR   BB    K     RA
Perez    11  66.0   10   34   71   4.91
Maine    11  58.3   11   26   53   6.82

The last column, run average, is like ERA, but it includes unearned runs as well. Neither has pitched their way into the playoff rotation, though Perez has been substantially better.

What I do think is important is that the odd man out not be relegated to long relief. Maine, Perez, and El Duque all have the stuff for higher-leverage work.

The Rest of the Bats

Luis Castillo (2B)
Moises Alou (LF)
Carlos Delgado (1B)
Endy Chavez (OF)
Paul Lo Duca (C)
Marlon Anderson (UTIL/PH)
Ramon Castro (C)
Ruben Gotay (2B)

The eight non-core bats that are absolutely making it, provided all are healthy. Castillo, Alou, Delgado, and Lo Duca bring the everyday players list up to seven. Chavez can’t be left off after last year’s heroics (and he’s also spectacular defensively), Anderson has been “the greatest pinch hitter on the planet,” as Gary Cohen says, Castro’s been great as the backup catcher, and Gotay’s been good in a pinch.

Now Warming Up in the Bullpen…

Billy Wagner (P)
Pedro Feliciano (P)
Aaron Heilman (P)

Wagner, Heilman, and Feliciano are on the team. With the exception of a couple of bad stretches, Wagner and Feliciano have been two of the better left-handed relievers in the game this year. And, though he’s suffered from an acute case of gopheritis this season, Heilman fits into Randolph’s bullpen as a high-leverage, middle-innings guy. When he keeps the ball down, he’s very tough.

I hope that I’ve done my best, so far, to lay out the 19 guaranteed fits for the roster. Six spots remain.

The Lock?

Shawn Green (RF)

Normally, I’d say that Green was an absolute lock for a spot. But management loves Gomez, Milledge has played well offensively and defensively, and if both youngsters make the team, the Mets would be carrying six outfielders (Anderson, Beltran, Gomez, Milledge, Alou, Chavez) even before Green’s spot. Since coming back from his injury in early June, Green has hit .253/.298/.365 in 67 games (62 games started). Green’s a likely selection, but he’s no guarantee.

The Options

Jeff Conine (1B)
Lastings Milledge (OF)
Mike DiFelice (C)
Carlos Gomez (OF)
Anderson Hernandez (2B)

Some of these guys are more likely than others. Quickly laying out a case for each guy (we’ll dive it a bit more next week):

- Conine: “grit,” reliability, and right-handedness
- Milledge: youth, hitting, defense
- DiFelice: allows Castro to be used as a pinch hitter
- Gomez: youth, speed, defense
- Hernandez: legitimate infield defensive replacement, good for Castillo’s knees

The Bullpen Mess

Jorge Sosa (P)
Scott Schoeneweis (P)
Guillermo Mota (P)
Aaron Sele (P)
Joe Smith (P)

Now the story gets interesting. Schoeneweis, Mota, and Sele have earned the wrath of Met fans all season. All three are still in the mix, though: Show for his potential to be a LOOGY, Sele for his potential to eat innings, and Mota for… well, I’m not really sure.

Smith was lights out for two months and has quietly disappeared with arm fatigue. With New Orleans, Smith threw nine innings and gave up a couple of runs. Here’s the line: 8 G, 9 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 5 K. More importantly, Smith’s been on the AAA DL with some bicep tendinitis. He’s in the mix, too.

And Sosa? He’s been pretty solid since moving to the pen, where he has stranded 11 of 12 inherited runners. His overall line: 18 G, 22.7 IP, 21 H, 7 R, 0 HR, 7 BB, 15 K.

The Interesting Gamble

Mike Pelfrey (P)

Quietly, I have been hoping that Pelfrey proves enough in the season to earn a bullpen spot in the playoffs. The heavy sinker should work to keep the ball in the park, and he might be able to add a couple miles per hour to his already-mid 90s fastball if he’s working in relief. I think the Mets should give him a couple of outings in the pen this month and see how he acquits himself (remember, process over results on this one). If he looks comfortable, he might be worth the gamble.

The LONGSHOTS

Philip Humber (P)
Willie Collazo (P)
Jon Adkins (P)

This really means “No Shot,” but I wanted to get them on the list.

Next week, I’ll flesh this out and do my best to construct a logical playoff roster.


22 Responses to “Assembling a Playoff Roster: Part I”

  1. Comment posted by Bangkok Mets Fan on September 12, 2007 at 4:47 am (#506199)

    I think you have to put Ollie on the playoff rotation. Sure he’s been maddeningly inconsistent at times, but he has risen to the occasion for “big” games. Starting with last year’s playoff performance against the Cardinals, and continuing this year against the Braves and Yankees. Ollie seems to thrive in big situations and still, when in control, has the best pure stuff of any of the Mets’ starters.

    Personally, I would like to see El Duque as the man out of the bull pen because of his historical experience and also because he has the right make up to handle a tough situation. You have to figure that whoever is getting called out of the bullpen will enter into a difficult situation where one of the starters had an off day and whoever comes in will have to have the mental toughness to handle that. I think El Duque is the right guy. Also his arsenal is a better change of pace (at least compared to everyone except maybe Glavine) to counterpoint against the other starters he would be replacing, making him more likely to throw off the team that was feasting on whomever he replaced.

    Oliver’s Army is here to stay!

    Oh, and first.

  2. Comment posted by Gus Gloom on September 12, 2007 at 8:54 am (#506213)

    barring injuries
    starters(4)-
    pedro, el duque, glavine, maine(or perez)(*)
    pen(7)-
    wagner, heilman, feliciano, sosa, perez( or Maine)(*), mota, schoen…
    lineup(8)-
    reyes, castillo, wright, beltran, alou, delgado(**), PLD, milledge
    bench(6)-
    castro(or defilice)(***), chavez, gotay, anderson, conine, green

    *if the opposition is strongly left-handed perez starts and maine to the pen otherwise vice versa
    **if delgado can’t go gomez probably takes his spot and conine and green platoon at 1B
    ***if castro can’t go defilice backs up PLD

  3. Comment posted by DoctorK16 on September 12, 2007 at 8:59 am (#506215)

    Milledge has to make the playoff roster before Shawn Green.

  4. Comment posted by NjMetsFan on September 12, 2007 at 9:14 am (#506221)

    No way Pelfry makes it.
    I agree with Glooms lineup

  5. Comment posted by Joe A. on September 12, 2007 at 9:19 am (#506223)

    I think Gus has it exactly right. The only spot that is unsettled is Mota. If Pelfrey can show something out of the pen over the next three weeks he could replace Mota.

  6. Comment posted by JamesSC on September 12, 2007 at 9:40 am (#506229)

    Yep, I was going to reply with a roster that would have looked exactly the same as Gus’ thanks for saving most of my typing.

  7. Comment posted by Wally Dykstra on September 12, 2007 at 10:01 am (#506239)

    I don’t see how Gomez has a shot at making the roster unless Endy hurts himself. Gomez has no purpose with Endy there.

  8. Comment posted by sheadenizen on September 12, 2007 at 10:46 am (#506285)

    Gus has it right. I don’t even know why we needed this conversation. What’s to discuss ;-)

  9. Comment posted by metsrule625 on September 12, 2007 at 11:01 am (#506307)

    the bullpen is where the discussion is… you see mota and schoenweis over joe smith… I hope for the teams sake they don’t put both of them on the roster they have been awful

  10. Comment posted by ajsmith on September 12, 2007 at 11:19 am (#506337)

    Oh, please, please, please, please keep Mota and his scared rabbit routine far far away from the playoff roster.

    Sele, fine. Smith, fine. Pelfrey, fine. whatever. but Mota just shouldn’t be out there.

  11. Comment posted by Gus Gloom on September 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm (#506441)

    that roster wasn’t what i would choose or what it should be, but what the gut will use.

  12. Comment posted by sheadenizen on September 12, 2007 at 1:06 pm (#506444)

    Agreed Gus….I knew that. Ergo my comment….”why did we even need this conversation?”

  13. Comment posted by elliot on September 12, 2007 at 2:08 pm (#506521)

    The difference between Smith and Mota in the pen? Where as Smith might not succeed, Mota WILL not succeed.

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  15. Comment posted by Simons on September 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm (#506571)

    If Sele is on the postseason roster I will eat my hat. Then, after I pass my hat, I will rinse it off and eat it again. I will repeat this process until news of my protest causes Willie and Omar to come to what’s left of their senses.

    Hey, we forgot to include Jose Valentin in this discussion!

  16. Comment posted by e poc on September 12, 2007 at 3:01 pm (#506604)

    i’d rather see pelfrey than mota or smith in the pen. whoever’s in that spot isn’t going to give you a ton of innings anyway, but pelfrey’s versatilve enough to go a few if you need him, plus i think he’d work really well as a 2 pitch 1 inning reliever. i think i’d also wait till the end of the regular season to decide on that postseason rotation. i think the position players should shake out just like gus has it, although if delgado can’t go but castro can, i’d think about carrying pld, castro and defelice. a third catcher is about as valuable as carlos gomez, and that way castro could ph and dh in the series.

  17. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on September 12, 2007 at 5:24 pm (#506788)

    I go… since Gotay’s currently in a slump and assuming everyone who could reasonably get healthy again gets healthy again…

    Reyes, Castillo, Wright, Beltran, Alou, Delgado, Milledge, LoDuca - starting eight (8)
    Glavine, Perez, El Duque, Pedro - starting rotation (4)
    Maine, Wags, Feliciano, Heilman, Sosa - front end of bullpen (5)
    Chavez, Castro, Green, Gotay, Anderson, Conine - primary bench (6)

    I think that while some optimistic people might slot Gotay in for Castillo, some short-sighted people might slot in Green for Milledge and… Pedro, El Duque, Delgado and Castro’s health situations are all still way up in the air…

    In theory, those twenty-three are probably locked in.

    Conventional wisdom says two more relievers.

    My white-hot fears say Omar goes with Show and Mota.

    MY gut says Pelfrey and Smith if he’s healthy enough and hope for the best.

    My next-to-best-case scenario says that somebody somewhere stands up and leads a front-office rebellion claiming that they’ll all quit if Willie is left with a loaded Mota waiting to go off for a theoretical playoff and the last two slots are Pelfrey and Show.

    If conventional wisdom is eschewed and something along the lines of a deeper bench happens… DeFelice to allow for Castro to pinch-hit or Gomez/A-Hern as a secret weapon last-ditch baserunner-defensivereplacement…

    Leaving just one pitching spot left open for hopefully Pelfrey or at least just a deeply hidden Show… I could live with that.

    Oh, don’t scare me with this Valentin thing, Simons.

    I’m flashing back to Floyd’s horrific playoff performance last year, except with a cool mustache.

    Basically… if we assume the first twenty three, as long as Mota ain’t on there, I’m happy and if neither Mota and Show are on there, I’m f-ing ecstatic.

    A lack of Sele is hopefully a given, even to Willie and Omar.

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  19. Comment posted by JK47 on September 12, 2007 at 5:36 pm (#506795)

    Scott Schoeneweis has made 60 appearances this season. When he appears in a game, the Mets are 21-39. Yikes.

    Guillermo Mota has made 43 appearances. The Mets are 16-27 in games featuring this gascan.

    Aaron Sele has made 31 appearances. The Mets are 9-22 when Sele pitches.

    These three are little more than roster filler, guys you bring in when the game is a lost cause. I’d say that Show has potential to help in the playoffs, because at least he can get lefties out, but I don’t trust Willie to use him correctly. Mota and Sele simply don’t deserve roster spots in any scenario.

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  21. Comment posted by JK47 on September 12, 2007 at 5:38 pm (#506796)

    The more I think about it, the more “amazing” Schoeneweis’ performance has been. The Mets have only lost 62 games, and 39 of those featured The Show. He’s been involved in 63% of the team’s losses. Pretty unbelievable.

  22. Comment posted by sheadenizen on September 12, 2007 at 5:48 pm (#506798)

    I’m not a Show fan by any stretch of the imagination, but are you telling me that Show is responsible for 39 losses? Like the blown saves by Wagner? Wouldn’t a fairer assessment be in how many games did Schoenweis actually give up the lead which lead to the loss. Tom Glavine appeared in some games recently, that if you assessed his appearances as you are assessing Show’s would indicate he was responsible for the loss, which we all know is not true.
    Your numbers…while maybe accurate, don’t seem to tell the whole story.

  23. Comment posted by Woodman on September 12, 2007 at 6:08 pm (#506805)

    Since coming back from his injury in early June, Green has hit .253/.298/.365 in 67 games

    Green came back and he was still obviously hurting. Whats his numbers after the first month he came back? I say Green is a lock to make the playoff roster.

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  25. Comment posted by JK47 on September 12, 2007 at 10:23 pm (#507366)

    I’m not a Show fan by any stretch of the imagination, but are you telling me that Show is responsible for 39 losses?

    Obviously I don’t think he’s responsible for all of those losses, but that stat shows you how rarely The Show actually contributes to a win.

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  27. Comment posted by Simons on September 16, 2007 at 8:57 pm (#511617)

    I have a funny feeling that injuries will answer the tough questions here. There may be four or five guys looking to fill two or three spots — if everyone were healthy. But Orlando Hernandez is iffy, and I’m not entirely sure we’ll be seeing Carlos Delgado again this year either.

    We are still in first place, right?

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