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Posts Tagged ‘New York Mets’

The last couple weeks have added a new wrinkle to a 2009 Mets season that most fans are already trying to forget.  Forget injuries to Reyes, Delgado and Beltran, or six home runs from David Wright, how about a member of the front office trying to throw down with two players on separate occasions, and the ensuing battle between GM Omar Minaya and New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin.

About ten days before the All-Star Break, Bernazard took off his shirt and challenged the AA affiliate Binghampton Mets to a fight, specifically Jose Coronado.  While news of the event did not really surface until last week, it blew up in the tabloids and the Mets launched an investigation.  While this investigation was ongoing, Bernazard also got into a confrontation with star closer Francisco Rodriguez.  While Rodriguez did admit to it happening, he refused to elaborate on the event.  I do not know about you, but if I am already under investigation for inappropriate behaviour, the last thing I want to do is get into a fight with the star free agent pitcher. 

Barnazard has been under intense scrutiny for the Mets failures this year, and it appears the pressure finally got to him.  The team has been unable to replace key injuries from within, resulting in a disappointing 47-51 record, ahead of only the lowly Nationals in the NL East.  The AAA Buffalo Bisons are in last place in the International League at 37-61, while the AA Mets are also last in the Eastern League with a 39-61 record.

After the entire saga with Bernazard was wrapped up, Minaya proceeded to get in a war of words with Daily News reporter Adam Rubin, accusing him of trying to wiggle his way into a front office job by discrediting the current members of the staff.  Rubin was the man who reported the Bernazard stories, and denies Minaya’s accusations.    

While I have all of the respect in the world for Minaya, it appears he has lost control of the franchise, and despite a roster that includes stars like Beltran, Reyes, Delgado, Wright, Rodriguez and Johan Santana, has only made one playoff appearance since their Subway Series loss to the Yankees in 2000.  The secondary talent is simply not there to support the star players.  I think it is time for the Mets to make some changes at the top of the organization as well as on the field, and Bernazard’s head may be just the first to role.

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Nothing too fancy with this post, just something I picked up watching the Yankees-Mets game tonight.  In the bottom of the 4th, Castillo hit a two-out RBI single to bring in Fernando Martinez, cutting the lead to 3-2.  This brought up to bat the pitcher, Livan Hernandez.  In this situation it is almost assured that your pitcher will make an out and you will start off the next inning fresh with the top of your order.

Castillo then proceeded to steal second base.  I do not know if he was sent or if he went on his own, but this is the type of thing that would drive me nuts.  There is virtually no upside to this play.  If he is successful in his attempt, he gets into scoring position for the pitcher (who owns a .111 batting average) with two outs.  Useless.  As you can probably guess, Hernandez did not get on base.  And that is the good scenario!  The worst case scenario is that Castillo is thrown out at second, forcing Hernandez to start off the next inning, meaning the top of the order will more than likely be starting with one out instead of none.

To make matters even worse, Castillo did not slide but just kind of fell onto second base, nearly coming off the bag and being tagged out by Robinson Cano.  He was obviously not in the game for this play, and that bone-headed move almost cost the Mets a valuable out.  Oh well, at least he did not lose the game by dropping a routine fly ball… this time.

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Great link on Deadspin today from Slate about how the angle of the center-field camera skews our perception of the strike zone. 

It seems so obvious that the best view for fans on TV is from straight-away center, yet only three teams use this angle.  The article proves the point by showing a video from a Red Sox-Braves game pitting the two camera angles side by side on a close ball call.  Even more telling is the comparison between the two angles on a slider from Mets lefty pitcher Pedro Feliciano. 

That is all from me, I will let the article do the rest of the talking.  Check it out.

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The current economic recession has proven that professional sports are not immune to swings in the economy.  Every team has their own personal attendance pattern based on the success of the team, success of other professional sports team in the city, new ballparks, and a myriad of other factors.  However, it has been a long time since we have seen essentially every team suffer a simultaneous drop in attendance.  So far this year, MLB games are averaging 29,082 fans per game, which is about 66% of capacity.  This is down from the past two seasons, which averaged 32,516 (72% capacity) and 32,770 (72% capacity) respectively.  Not only is this a 12% drop in the number of bodies in the ballpark, but an even greater decrease in revenues.  It is the premium seats and corporate boxes that are going unsold, which are a main source of revenue for major league teams. 

Two of the main offenders are the Yankees and Mets, which is especially curious considering teams that build new ballparks generally realize an increase in attendance, known as the Honeymoon period.  However, these teams gravely overestimated how much fans would be willing to pay to watch a ball game, which has led to entire empty sections.  The Yankees are down 8,500 per game, while the Mets have suffered a 4,500 decrease per game. 

While this decrease in attendance probably will not deter the free-spending New Yorkers, there is another team that is in much bigger trouble.  The Detroit Tigers have seen their attendance plummet to 28,126 from 39,538 only a year ago.  The demise of the auto manufacturer’s has hit the Detroit area very hard, and even the best team in hockey, the Red Wings, are not immune to attendance problems.  With one of the highest payrolls in baseball, I would not be surprised to see owner Mike Ilitch shed some salary this summer.  This is very unfortunate as the Tigers have come out strong this season, and are leading the AL Central by 1.5 games.

Oops

Oops

Some other teams of note:

Washington Nationals: Down 8,300

Atlanta Braves: Down 6,800

Houston Astros: Down 5,700

Colorado Rockies: Down 5,500

However, I am not all about doom and gloom here at MLB Insights.  The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies are up 1,200 for obvious reasons.  The bandwagon is filling up in Kansas City with the Royals averaging an extra 2,400 per game, although this should regress amidst the teams eight game losing streak.  Strong performances in the Lonestar state have led to a 2,800 per game increase for the Rangers.  It would be great to see that franchise finally win a playoff series and shed the stench of the A-Rod contract.

We can only hope that the economy is on the road to recovery and fans are able to once again afford tickets to the sport they love.  If we can take one positive from this, it is that other than the Yankees, the recession helped bring free agent contracts back under control.  Only in 2008 would the guy who broke the single season saves record get $12 million per year, not a whole lot more than BJ Ryan got two years prior.

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Every year you hear the same arguments coming from the fans of small market teams to justify their team’s futility.  They range from “we just do not have the payroll to compete” to “it is those darn Yankees and their $200 million payroll stealing all of our talent”.  I have always felt that these arguments, while passionate, were completely unfounded.  I believe that when the first pitch is thrown to open Spring Training, any team has the chance to still be playing in October.  However, that is a difficult argument to make without any numbers to back it up.  So I decided to run the numbers and this is what I have come up with.

The Numbers

 

 

I started by listing every individual team since 1998 (the first year that MLB had thirty teams) by total payroll.  I then added wins, losses, playoff appearances and World Series titles.  For example, the row for the 1998 Atlanta Braves would have a $59.536 million payroll, 106 wins, 56 losses, a playoff appearance and no World Series.  Then year-by-year, starting in 2008, I ran regressions with payroll as my dependant variable.  What I found was that in no way was total payroll indicative of wins, losses or World Series titles.  There was, however, a very loose relationship between payroll and playoff appearances, but nothing substantial enough upon which to found an argument.  So to all the Yankees and Red Sox haters out there, I am sorry but there is not much in the numbers to back up your argument.

Of course, the data that Excel spits out is not the only way to interpret the information, so I decided to have a look with the naked eye as well.  Two things I can say for certain are that a high payroll does not equal success, and well-run teams can compete even with below-average payrolls.

 

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

What Were They Thinking?

 

 From 2001 to 2004, the New York Mets had payrolls that ranked 4th, 6th, 2nd and 4th in the league, with a final outcome of 294 wins, 352 losses, one season above .500 and as you can probably guess, no playoff appearances.  The 2003 squad was particularly inept; their 66-95 record the product of a $117 million payroll, second only to the Yankees.

From 1998 to 2000, the Baltimore Orioles were 24 games under .500 despite payrolls that ranked 1st, 8th and 3rd.  After this, ownership wisely decided to stop spending truckloads of money as it became clear the team was going nowhere.   

Bang For Their Buck

On the flipside, there are other teams that were consistently good over several years despite budget limitations.  Billy Beane’s Moneyball A’s made four consecutive playoff appearances from 2000 to 2003 despite a payroll in the bottom six in three of those years.  From 2001 to 2008,Terry Ryan’s Twins were 117 games over .500 despite a payroll that never cracked the top seventeen, and three times found itself in the bottom six.

The Three Tiers

The final way I looked at my charts was to split the league into three tiers each year, with the top 10 payrolls occupying one tier, the middle ten another, and the bottom ten the final tier.  Here is how it played out.

Top Tier  

  • Payroll: $10.696 billion
  • Wins: 9,633
  • Losses: 8,175
  • Playoff Appearances: 53
  • Word Series Titles: 6

Middle Tier

  • Payroll: $7.124 billion
  • Wins: 8,840
  • Losses: 8,975
  • Playoff Appearances: 23
  • Word Series Titles: 4

Bottom Tier

  • Payroll: $4.381 billion
  • Wins: 8,240
  • Losses: 9,563
  • Playoff Appearances: 13
  • Word Series Titles: 1

As you can see, the top ten teams essentially spent as much money as the bottom twenty to win on average ten more games per year, make seventeen more playoff appearances and win one more World Series title.  On average, this means that the playoff pool consists of five teams from the top tier, two from the middle and one from the bottom.    

Conclusion

I think this helps proves that anyone has a chance to make the playoffs and win the World Series during any given year.  While low-payroll teams do not have success as often as the high-payroll teams, it is not impossible for a $55 million team to put together a winning season or even make the playoffs.  Fans of perpetually bad teams like the Pirates, Royals, Nationals and Orioles need to stop blaming cheap owners and payroll limitations, and start focussing their anger at poor management and bad drafts.

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