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Mets Geek » Getting Wiser

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December 20, 2007
  
Getting Wiser

I had been following my own personal white whale—writing the definitive defense of Steve Trachsel, which is turning out to be even harder than I anticipated—when I heard the Mets had agreed with RHP Matt Wise on a 1-year, $1.2 million deal. Great. So who the hell is Matt Wise?

Matt Wise was drafted by the Angels in the sixth round in 1997 and spent a few years in the minors before debuting in 2000 at the age of 24. He was up-and-down with the Angels for a few years, mostly as a starter, but pitched a handful of innings in relief in 2002. He also spent a portion of the ’02 season on the DL for “elbow tightness,” which would eventually require Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss all of 2003.

The Angels released Wise in October of that year, and he signed a few months later with Milwaukee, where he’s been until he was non-tendered by the Brewers last week. He made three starts for them in 2004, but he’s pitched exclusively out of the bullpen ever since. In 2007 he had a career-high 56 appearances and 53.2 innings. Matt throws a four-seam fastball and a “bajillion,” changeups, and he’s got slightly better than average strikeout and walk rates. He’s also one of those odd righties with a reverse platoon split, meaning he pitches better to left-handed batters than right-handers, perhaps because he does throw so many changeups.

Matt is probably most notable for missing a couple of games in 2006 after cutting his finger on some salad tongs; and last year he hit Pedro Lopez in the face with a pitch, breaking Lopez’s cheek. After starting strong, Matt struggled as the season went on. Take a look at this:

Whoa, what happened there? A popular theory in Milwaukee is that Matt never recovered after injuring Lopez, and now he can’t pitch effectively. Nobody wants to be the next Carl “Sub” Mays. Of course, probably a better theory is that Matt was pitching into bad luck/terrible defense—take a look at his BABIP over the same time period:

Apparently Matt tortured a bunch of puppies and kitties to death in a previous life, because that’s ridiculously unlucky. Not even the Brewers defense could be that bad. He actually had better strikeout and home run rates at the end of the year than at the beginning, which I guess just goes to show what a big effect luck can have in such a small sample size.

This is a good move by the Mets. It’s low-risk, both in terms of dollars and contract years. If Matt is released before Opening Day, the Mets only owe him $750,000; and if he makes the team but otherwise stinks up the joint, the Mets won’t be stuck with him in 2009. He essentially takes Guillermo Mota’s place in the bullpen, so he wouldn’t have to do much to be an improvement, and he’ll do it for about $2 million less than Mota.

But the best endorsement for signing “Wiser,” is that the Brew Crew doesn’t like it.

Special thanks, as always, to Baseball Reference and the Hardball Times, and also Josh Kalk for making it possible for me to disseminate my unqualified opinions to the masses.


14 Responses to “Getting Wiser”

  1. Comment posted by Nj needs a vacation on December 20, 2007 at 7:38 am (#582784)

    great article. We replace a bum with a bum. Omar and his coupons.. You got to love his Thrifty nature.
    NOT
    ;0

  2. Comment posted by JamesSC on December 20, 2007 at 8:48 am (#582796)

    Wise is not exactly a bum, other than a bad last 6 weeks, he had a good year last year (his ERA was 3.6 before the last 3 games) and he has put up 50-60 innings a year the past three years of 3.5-3.7 ERA with decent K/9 and BB/9 rates. He is not Heilman/Wagner, but he is a significant improvement on Mota unless this last 6 weeks turn out to be the rest of next year.

    To me, the dumping of Mota and signing of Wise are good moves for Omar this year.

  3. Comment posted by pauliec84 on December 20, 2007 at 8:52 am (#582797)

    I am in the school of thought that MOTA was not as bad as he represented last year. I havn’t seen his BABIP but his dip his ERA is not representitive of his peripherals and I expect him to have a solid bounce back year. IF i wwere the mets I would have kept him AND signed Wise (although wise may not have been available). However at the end of the 3 moves, it is a small small victory for the front office, in an off season of many defeats.

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  5. Comment posted by Chris in GA on December 20, 2007 at 11:38 am (#582928)

    This was a great signing imo. I feel there is a misrepresentation of his role though. This guy is filling the utility role in the pen. Something we didn’t have last year and something that made are pen complete in 06. This is a guy who will be ready for duty at all times, being asked one day to get a guy out and the next being asked to go multiple innings. So, you can’t really compare him to Mota since Mota was ill suited for that role.

  6. Comment posted by e poc on December 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm (#583005)

    i’m kind of of the thought that wise doesn’t really improve the pen too much. if this were a minor league contract, that would be cool. but why guarantee the money to him? i don’t think there’s any reason to guarantee money to a guy who’s not appreciably better than what we’ve already got (especially if you think, as i do, that whichever of Pelfrey/Humber doesn’t get the last rotation spot should be in the bullpen this year)?

  7. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on December 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm (#583030)

    He can’t be as bad as the three-headed dragon of terrible that was Sele and Mota and Scho. I can’t imagine someone as awful as those three guys were as a bloc of horrible.

    And he was cheap.

    If he can manage to eat innings, keep his ERA under four and keep Scho the hell out of the game, I’m not too opposed to a one-year-deal on the guy.

    I’m not doing backflips, either, but it’s hardly signing a one-legged man to a four year contract or trading your rightfielder for a bag of magic beans and a half-eaten sandwich.

  8. Comment posted by SoCal Metfan on December 20, 2007 at 1:53 pm (#583041)

    I wish people would stop saying Scho was terrible. He was exactly what we should have expected coming into the season, good against lefties and terrible against righties. The fact that he was overpaid and incorrectly used was Omar and Willie’s fault, not Scho.

  9. Comment posted by SoCal Metfan on December 20, 2007 at 1:54 pm (#583042)

    PS- NJ, have you ever posted *one* positive thing in the comments, ever? Just wondering, cause is sure doesn’t seem like it.

  10. Comment posted by Doc is feeling a little better only because he’s seeing Chris Rock Live on New Years Eve on December 20, 2007 at 2:09 pm (#583060)

    I am in the school of thought that MOTA was not as bad as he represented last year. I havn’t seen his BABIP but his dip his ERA is not representitive of his peripherals and I expect him to have a solid bounce back year. IF i wwere the mets I would have kept him AND signed Wise (although wise may not have been available). However at the end of the 3 moves, it is a small small victory for the front office, in an off season of many defeats.

    The Son of Sam laws precluded that Mota not be on the team this year.

  11. Comment posted by Chaucer says “1386 for ay” on December 20, 2007 at 4:34 pm (#583265)

    SoCal, might as well give it up about NJ. NJ’s got more of a chance getting what he wants from Omar (the second coming of Cy Young himself) than we’ve got in ever making NJ say something positive — or, if not positive, at least something in keeping with the Geek approach: thoughtful analysis based on statistical evidence.

    I mean, as far as I can tell, he didn’t even read the article, since its main point is to show how the evidence suggests that Wise may not be a panacea, but that he is not properly a bum. For a moment I thought that NJ disagreed with the article, but he offers no critique of the data or of the reasoning. Instead, he complains that Omar’s not willing to spend money. I’m sure NJ doesn’t mean to argue that Omar should have paid more for Wise, since he considers Wise a bum, though that’s a reasonable inferrence from his remarks. I think NJ’s just complaining that Omar’s not spending more money in general. (This seems to be synonymous for him with bringing in better talent. As we saw all too painfully last year, spending more money doesn’t promise receiving more talent. But nevermind.) The thing is, the article’s last remarks are a smartly phrased explanation about how Omar spent just the right amount for Wise. Which means that NJ contradicts the article again, without offering data or reasoning in support of that contradiction. So, either NJ didn’t read it, or he just didn’t get it. Since not getting it would mean that NJ is an idiot, I’ll go with “didn’t read it.” Perhaps there’s another explanation that I don’t see for the apparent discrepancy between NJ’s first and second sentences and for the later contradictions.

    At any rate, SoCal, I don’t see any hope for improvement here. I’ve suggested trading NJ and cash for a young Reds fan with plus power I know just entering his prime, but that trade suggestion fell on deaf ears. What can you do?

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  13. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on December 20, 2007 at 4:50 pm (#583311)

    NJ GETTING KILLED!!! BURY THE BUM!

    yea that’s right, you a bum!

  14. Comment posted by JamesSC on December 20, 2007 at 5:25 pm (#583341)

    Ahh lf, not only is the glass half full, it is poisoned, behind barb wire and not what you ordered in the first place…

  15. Comment posted by KenDynamo on December 20, 2007 at 5:43 pm (#583362)

    i think this is a pretty sweet signing. wise may be only average – but hes better than REPLACEMENT, and theres a big difference. plus its only one year – so were not stuck with him if he blows like scho.

    also the brewers defense was like, historically bad last year. i feel bad for all their pitchers. with guys like brain playing every day in the in field its no wonder his BABIP sucked so bad.

    good low risk pick up. this is what GMs are supposed to do.

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  17. Comment posted by Simons on December 20, 2007 at 10:01 pm (#583428)

    The Son of Sam laws precluded that Mota not be on the team this year.

    Comment of the year. Doc, you may pick up your prize in the Penn Station bowling alley during next year’s Bobby Bonilla Celebrity Bowling Tournament.

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