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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Megdal: The Mets’ health report on Ike Davis, and the real story

Or as former Met turned Goon, Randy Spike Milligan once wrote…“I Told You I Was Sick!”

As Adam Rubin noted, just nine days before Davis acknowledged his illness, the Mets “maintained upon his return to camp Feb. 23 following an exam in New York that (1) Davis had a “minor” lung infection, he could resume activities without restriction, and the issue was resolved in their minds. Yet Valley Fever, given the potential severity of its symptoms after as much as a three-week incubation period, hardly qualifies as a ‘minor lung infection.’”

Had this been a one-time incident, the Mets probably would be getting a pass from reporters and fans alike. After all, how often does a team face a Valley Fever diagnosis? This pattern has become so familiar, however, that its shocking when a Mets player does have the injury announced by the team, and misses anywhere close to the time the team estimates.

...This has been going on for years with the Mets.

At an offseason baseball event, Newsday beat writer Dave Lennon described former Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado this way: “Delgado looks like he could play tomorrow, but even now, the surgically repaired hip still bothers him a little.”

That injury, of course, was described by the Mets in May 2009 at various points as soreness, discomfort, inflammation, tendinitis and then an impingement. He was listed as day-to-day, and never played in the major leagues again.

Repoz Posted: March 06, 2012 at 06:45 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, injury, mets

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   1. thetailor Posted: March 07, 2012 at 01:45 AM (#4075648)
On numerous occasions in the past, I referred to Megdal as my favorite Mets blogger. But in the last six months or so -- and especially since he was banned by the Mets -- it seems like every piece he writes about the team is a hit piece. I'm out.
   2. ECAMike Posted: March 07, 2012 at 03:51 AM (#4075658)
I think there's enough truth in what he writes to make his pieces worthwhile contributions to the mix of information out there about the Mets. The team is not in a good way. Sure, he could write an optimistic puff piece or two -- but there are plenty of hacks who have that angle amply covered.

   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 07, 2012 at 05:44 AM (#4075667)
Can you write a piece about the present-day Mets that isn't a hit piece?
   4. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 07, 2012 at 08:29 AM (#4075683)
#1 makes a good point. It is a shame Howard has not been focusing on the runaway successes the Mets have experienced lately. I mean, everywhere else in the media, you can throw a stick without hitting a reporter writing a favorable story about the Mets. I sure wish the Yankees could be so lucky.
   5. Lassus Posted: March 07, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4075690)
-applause-
   6. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 09:33 AM (#4075699)
The Rubin piece that Howard linked in TFA was just as much as a "hit" piece. It's from 2009 and Rubin is upset that the farm system isn't able to produce more Major League ready talent and lays the blame on Minaya.

Minaya's first draft was in 2005. From that draft in 2009:

Pelfrey pitched the whole year in New York
Niese came up and got hurt
Parnell pitched well in relief but was a disaster as a SP

From the 2006 Draft:
Didn't have a 1st round pick and his next two picks were traded by 2009. Their 13th-round pick - Murphy - played the entire year for the Mets.

2007 was the Eddie Kunz year and that certainly doesn't help the case, but that draft produced Duda, Gee, Carson and Lutz in rounds 5-21. But how much help should the 2007 Draft provide in 2009? Are we going to slam Alderson if college pitchers Mazzoni and Verrett aren't ready in 2013, much less HS guys Nimmo and Fulmer? Minaya did not have a first-round pick. The next two guys drafted after Kunz were HS picks.

I understand the frustration about not having more talent in the system but in 2009 the blame has to lay at least as much on Phillips as it did on Minaya. Two players from Minaya's first draft contributed and a third would have except for injury. The only player who contributed from Phillips' 2002-2004 Drafts was Nick Evans, who had a .660 OPS in 2009.

And yes, you can point out that Minaya traded some of Phillips' draft picks, too. But here were the MLB players drafted by Phillips from 2002-04:

04: Phil Humber, Nick Evans, Mike Carp
03: Lastings Milledge, Brian Bannister, Carlos Muniz, Evan MacLane
02: Scott Kazmir, Matt Lindstrom

Kazmir was the only one who would have helped in 2009 and he was traded before Minaya took over. Lindstrom had a 5.89 ERA and a 1.648 WHIP that year. Milledge had an 85 OPS+ and while Bannister would have been useful, he had a 4.73 ERA.
   7. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: March 07, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4075705)
And yes, you can point out that Minaya traded some of Phillips' draft picks, too. But here were the MLB players drafted by Phillips from 2002-04:

04: Phil Humber, Nick Evans, Mike Carp
03: Lastings Milledge, Brian Bannister, Carlos Muniz, Evan MacLane
02: Scott Kazmir, Matt Lindstrom

Kazmir was the only one who would have helped in 2009 and he was traded before Minaya took over. Lindstrom had a 5.89 ERA and a 1.648 WHIP that year. Milledge had an 85 OPS+ and while Bannister would have been useful, he had a 4.73 ERA.


Humber had a 112 ERA+ in 163 innings for the White Sox last year.

edit: Ah, helped the Mets in 2009. Never mind.

   8. Lassus Posted: March 07, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4075724)
Is Bannister lined up somewhere in the bigs this year?

(I know, I should look myself, but work only allows me to be so sneaky.)
   9. JJ1986 Posted: March 07, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4075727)
Bannister retired last year.
   10. Sam M. Posted: March 07, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4075746)
I understand the frustration about not having more talent in the system but in 2009 the blame has to lay at least as much on Phillips as it did on Minaya.


I think it's totally fair to spread the blame, but the spreading shouldn't be based entirely on who was the GM when the drafting was done. There is something to be said for looking at the record of the regime in developing players once they are in the system, and if I'm an ousted GM, and my drafting record is being scrutinized, one thing I'm going to say in my defense is that the successors may not have done a very good job developing the prospects I drafted.

So, yeah, Steve Phillips and his scouts may have done a bad job drafting, but I have very little trouble believing -- given what was going on with Tony Bernazard in the Minaya minor league system -- that part of the blame for the failure of those prospects goes to the Minaya farm system as well.
   11. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4075756)
Well, I understand what you're saying but I think I would give that a little more weight if the farm system had been more productive when Phillips' team was in place and then dropped off once Minaya took over. Here's the Phillips-era draft/signees ranked by rWAR:

32.6 – David Wright
29.3 – Jose Reyes
16.7 – Scott Kazmir
10.3 – Angel Pagan
9.9 – Heath Bell
3.4 – Brian Bannister
2.5 – Matt Lindstrom
0.9 – Jaime Cerda
0.6 – Ty Wigginton
0.6 – Daniel Garcia

It's not like Jason Tyner, Pat Strange, Neal Musser and Jake Joseph (the top 2 draft picks the first two years under Phillips - who should have developed under Phillips'player development system) teared things up...
   12. JJ1986 Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4075759)
Well, I understand what you're saying but I think I would give that a little more weight if the farm system had been more productive when Phillips' team was in place and then dropped off once Minaya took over. Here's the Phillips-era draft/signees ranked by rWAR:


Wright and Reyes developed under Phillips. Kazmir, Bell, Bannister and Lindstrom developed under other teams. (And Bell at least had brutally stagnated with Minaya's team). Of Phillips' guys, only Pagan developed under Minaya.

Also, I cannot believe Wigginton's WAR is that low. He has quite a long career for a replacement level player.
   13. HowardMegdal Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4075768)
FWIW, I will happily write positive pieces about the Mets when they are, you know, reality. Perhaps you can enlighten me about the positive stories I've ignored?

Meanwhile, not banned by the Mets from the clubhouse anymore. And for both professional and personal reasons, eagerly hoping to write up such stories as "Duda Chases Bonds" and "Mets Discover Oil Under Citi Field".

When these happen, don't worry: I'm happy to write about them.
   14. Ravecc Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4075775)
Sure, he could write an optimistic puff piece or two -- but there are plenty of hacks who have that angle amply covered.


Can you write a piece about the present-day Mets that isn't a hit piece?


So which one is it?

Today’s coverage is dominated by Santana’s return to the mound, btw. Even Klapisch took a break from the Mets-bashing to get his puffs on. It’s spring – we’re allowed.
   15. HowardMegdal Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4075779)
Absolutely. That's probably why my piece for today was on... Santana's return.
   16. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4075781)
I don't see how you can say Bell stagnated under Minaya's player development system when he dominated at Triple-A the two years he pitched in the farm system when Minaya was in charge. Now you can say the major league team misused him and that Minaya didn't properly value what he had, but that's a bit different from developing the talent.

Kazmir was traded before Minaya arrived

Bannister produced better numbers at higher levels under Minaya's watch than what he did under Phillips

Maybe you can point to Lindstrom but in 2004, he had a 3.76 ERA as a 24 year old in Hi-A, so I don't think he was on the fast track under the previous regime.

Pagan played one year under the Minaya regime and performed about as well as he did under Phillips.

If the Minaya player development team was the problem, then guys should have done better when they were traded. And we see that was rarely the case. Phillips brought 3 impact talents into the system -- Wright, Reyes and Kazmir. Aside from those three he injected a shocking lack of new talent into the system.

Minaya, despite losing top picks to sign free agents, has already produced 8 players with a 1.0 or greater rWAR, with Duda likely to crack that mark this year. There's no one likely to top what Wright and Reyes end up doing, but the lack of above-replacement level players brought in under Phillips' watch is shocking.
   17. bobm Posted: March 07, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4075788)
[13] Meanwhile, not banned by the Mets from the clubhouse anymore.

The Wilpons have merely changed their tactics. Now they're trying to expose you to Valley Fever... :)
   18. Ravecc Posted: March 07, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4075824)
Minaya arrived because Kazmir was traded.

Duquette was the GM in 2004. Humber, Evans and Carp were his picks.



(Also: Marty’s better.)
   19. Sam M. Posted: March 07, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4075859)
If the Minaya player development team was the problem, then guys should have done better when they were traded.


That's not true at all. Once a player has lost critical development years in a system that doesn't know what the hell it's doing, the odds are he's never going to be the player he might have/should have been.

But let me emphasize: I'm just saying that we will never know how to properly or accurately allocate the blame for the failure of the Mets' farm system to draft and develop talent in the years that began with the Phillips regime drafting talent, and then the Minaya team taking over the responsibility for developing it. I have little doubt that there were significant problems on both ends of that, so for me it isn't about absolving the Phillips team of responsibility. It's about making the point that we just really don't, and can't, know whether there was better talent there than ended up making its way to the majors, because the Minaya/Bernazard farm system screwed up enough development of talent to at least strongly suspect that there might have been.
   20. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4075919)
That's not true at all. Once a player has lost critical development years in a system that doesn't know what the hell it's doing, the odds are he's never going to be the player he might have/should have been


This may very well be true. But it's also a subjective POV that you cannot merely state as fact.

It takes the position that talent is so fragile that it cannot handle a setback. It's easy to point to people like Fernando Martinez and Wilmer Flores as examples where the Minaya-Bernazard philosophy failed. But Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada seemed to survive their aggressive promotions okay. And in the case of F-Mart, I think it's very plausible that injuries had as much to do with his failure to develop than aggressive promotion.

For the record, I do not agree with the aggressive promotion style of the Bernazard-Minaya Mets. But I'm just not prepared to say that there are a bunch of players who would have been good players in a normal promotion pattern that would fail to reach even replacement-level because of how they were handled in the minors.

And we've seen more examples of people drafted and developed under the Minaya regime reaching the majors and contributing than under the Phillips regime. I look forward to many, many more people reaching the majors and contributing under the Alderson regime than under the Minaya regime.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 07, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4075927)
Phillips brought 3 impact talents into the system -- Wright, Reyes and Kazmir. Aside from those three he injected a shocking lack of new talent into the system.

Ummm, if you can develop 3 impact players like that in a decade, who gives a damn about developing bench players?
   22. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4075965)
The criticism of the 2007-08 Mets was that they were a collection of stars and stiffs. A few more average regulars would have made a huge difference to those teams.

Of course, not trading Kazmir would have helped, too...
   23. Sam M. Posted: March 07, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4076014)
And we've seen more examples of people drafted and developed under the Minaya regime reaching the majors and contributing than under the Phillips regime.


It's not as if those are the only two choices. "Better than the Phillips regime" is not where I want to set the bar. Good enough at developing talent to provide the resources needed to generate sufficient major league talent (for use on the roster or in trades) is the standard to judge any GM and his staff by. The question, for me, is not whether they were better at developing players than Steve Phillips. It's whether the failure of the players drafted by Phillips and his scouts is solely due to poor drafting, or a combination of poor drafting and poor minor league development. I happen to think it's the latter, because there are ample reasons to think that the Phillips FO was poor at its half of that equation, AND that the Minaya FO was poor at its half. Now, it may well be that the Minaya FO was "better" at minor league development than the Phiillps FO had been -- but that doesn't mean it was good, either.

And it wasn't just a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with the aggressive promotion policy. There were also the matters of browbeating players, not handling injuries well, hiring and promoting managers and coaches because of how well they got along with Bernazard instead of how well they managed and developed players . . . .

Anyway, it's all water under the bridge. I think there is reason to believe the last few drafts by Minaya, and the post-Bernazard minor league development program, were showing better results, and this may well provide post-Minaya dividends for the organization. If so, I'll be more than happy to give him a good portion of the credit, along with the Alderson team for its role in developing that talent.
   24. Elvis Posted: March 07, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4076030)
Sam, I think that's a good place to end this discussion.

I would like to ask you about Matt Harvey. Let's say that Harvey ends up being a very good pitcher and makes a couple of All-Star games. How much credit do you give Minaya for drafting him compared to Alderson for developing him? I'd want to give somewhere around 80-90 percent of the credit to Minaya but I'm curious to what you and others think.
   25. Sam M. Posted: March 07, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4076102)
Let's say that Harvey ends up being a very good pitcher and makes a couple of All-Star games. How much credit do you give Minaya for drafting him compared to Alderson for developing him? I'd want to give somewhere around 80-90 percent of the credit to Minaya but I'm curious to what you and others think.


No way would I put it that high. They deserve a lot of credit for selecting him where they did, because there was certainly opinion out there that saw Harvey as more likely to end as a closer type, because of skepticism about the breadth of his stuff. So you have to credit Minaya, and the scouting staff, for believing that Harvey's repertoire could be developed into a valuable starting pitcher -- if it works out as well as you've posited. Absolutely, much credit to the FO that drafted him.

But if you go as high as 80-90%, you don't leave near enough credit to the people in the farm system who have to take that raw material and work with Harvey to refine it into major-league quality material. I actually think that is more true with starting pitchers than with hitters (putting aside, perhaps, players who make serious position switches along the way, who may have to must learn defensive things that are enormously challenging even as they're trying to impress with their performance). In general, I think developing minor league players, even ones with a lot of talent, is hard, so you have to give the organizations that manage to do it well a good share of credit. Drafting outstanding talent is only the start, which is why a lot of top 10-20 draft picks wash out.

The other thing is that, however much credit you would give to the development side, it doesn't have to mean you are saying that Harvey would NOT have developed as he did had Minaya stayed as the Mets' GM. Just as giving credit to Minaya for drafting Harvey doesn't imply that Alderson either wouldn't have drafted him, or would have done worse. The fact is, we just don't know either how Alderson would have done drafting in that spot, or how Minaya would have done developing Harvey. In fact, that's a good reason just to say that, if he succeeds, the two regimes share credit for that accomplishment, and if he fails, they both share responsibility for the miss.
   26. Ravecc Posted: March 07, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4076124)
Wow, Alderson’s team has absolutely no depth. They have no backup for CF with Hairston injured?

I mean, I like prospects and all, but it’s a tad disconcerting when you have to use babies like Nimmo and Evans on March 6th.

==

Is Havens dead?
   27. Something Other Posted: March 07, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4076382)
Santana pitched extremely well in 2008 for the Mets, finishing third in the Cy Young voting and almost single-handedly leading a fading New York team into the playoffs. On the season's second-to-last day, Santana pitched a complete-game two-hitter on three days rest, and as we found out later, he did so on an injured knee that would require surgery.
This is one of many reasons Santana is my favorite Met. He's so flipping good I don't think he'll ever be an average pitcher. His arm will go first. I'm also sorry to say I won't be surprised at all if he never throws another pitch in the majors.

But unfortunately, it was the injury that proved a harbinger of subsequent seasons, not the miraculous performance. His 2009 season ended in August thanks to bone chips in his elbow, requiring surgery. And after 199 solid but unspectacular innings in 2010, a more severe problem cropped up.


There's got to be a word between "solid" and "unspeactacular" that fits. Santana's ERA+ in 2010 was 130. That's a tick above the career average of several guys who are going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame over the next several seasons. That's how effing good Santana is--even with his arm hanging by a thread he turned in a couple of seasons that fit right in to a HOFer's resume.

@26: yeah, there's no depth there. I can't criticize Alderson for this--while I'd rather he'd gotten a solid starter than spend on relievers, there wasn't any sensible offseason strategy that would have allowed the FO to add depth anywhere. It's sad, though, that this team will need excellent health to win 75 games.
   28. Something Other Posted: March 07, 2012 at 08:02 PM (#4076397)
Nor do the Mets have the money to replace Santana. With that payroll likely frozen around $90 million, give or take a million, Santana's $24 million represents more than a quarter of it. And worse still, his $25.5 million in 2013 (along with a $6 million buyout of a 2014 team option) means he'll be the most expensive pitcher in baseball by far next season, therefore untradeable, with the possibility of a Mets ownership still unable to spend.


Untrue. If Santana has a decent season, the Mets will be able to eat some chunk of his salary and move him. They could probably eat 90% of his salary and move him tomorrow, though if I'm right about that Santana at 2/6.1 is very much the kind of guy the Mets should be getting.
   29. Sam M. Posted: March 07, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4076417)
Untrue. If Santana has a decent season, the Mets will be able to eat some chunk of his salary and move him.


You think? I guess it depends on what a "decent season" consists of, and "some chunk" means, but I suppose you're right. The key probably is that he has to show not just that the quality is still there, but that he is genuinely healthy -- so the decent season probably has to include some reasonable number of innings (150?) that will make the acquiring team believe it is getting a one-season rental worth paying $10M or so of the price. After all, you have to suppose that only a team with designs on contending would be in the market to acquire him, and it's unlikely such a team is going to want to pay a decent chunk of change for a big-time gamble. And if the Mets aren't going to save at least $10M, is it really worth the savings to make the trade, rather than just keep him?

Anyway, I basically agree with you -- subject only to the caveat that "decent season" means a decent season by Santana standards, and quantitatively as well as qualitatively. If that happens, the Mets probably could (and I suppose probably would) trade him for a reasonable savings on his contract.

But hey -- maybe all sorts of strange things will happen. Maybe some of their critical prospects will look really good, and really ready, by 2013, so it'll look like a wise move to keep him around for 2013 as a mentor to Harvey and Familia and Wheeler and Mejia. Or maybe the Wilpons really will be forced out by their debt load, and the last thing a new owner will want to do as his first move is off-load Johan Santana. Can't blame a guy for dreaming, can you?
   30. Something Other Posted: March 07, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4076421)
Hey, there's no way I want to move Santana. I love watching him pitch and I love watching him on the Mets. It just seemed odd that a knowledgeable writer like Howard would assert a player is untradeable. Just about any player can be moved, at the right price.

I don't know Santana's reputation as a mentor, but a guy who has had to make do with less since the injuries began, and has nonetheless turned in Hall of Fame caliber seasons might well have a ton of useful things to impart. He could be extremely useful to have around as the Mets young guys start coming through. No idea if he's that sort of player, though.

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