Nov 16

2011 Player Review: Josh Thole, C

We began our review of the 2011 Mets by examining their free agents and players the team will consider tending contracts to. We started evaluating the rest of the roster, beginning with infielder Ruben Tejada and continue today with catcher Josh Thole. Tomorrow: Ike Davis.

JOSH THOLE – C

THE SKINNY: Thole turned heads in 2010 with his bat control and ability to work the count. The Mets had a young hitter who could draw a walk and take an outside pitch to left field. Who knew? Defensively, he was new at the position, but the pitchers liked how he handled a game and gave them a consistent low target.

PRE-SEASON EXPECTATIONS: If Thole could make a good impression over 227 at-bats, imagine what he could do over a full season. And, as he developed physically and filled out he might be able to hit for more power. Also, his continued work with the pitching staff should make him even more comfortable behind the plate.

HOW THE SEASON PLAYED OUT: Not according to plan. Thole had 386 at-bats in 114 games, but a fulltime catcher should get more work than that. Ronny Paulino played more as a back-up than expected and that was a reflection on Thole. His defense regressed as he led the National League with 16 passed balls and he threw out just 17 attempted base stealers (21 percent). Offensively, his batting average (.268) and on-base percentages (.345 from .357) dropped. He hit three homers in both years despite having 160 more at-bats. In a word: disappointing.

JOHN’S TAKE: Thole might have benefited by more time in the minor leagues, but that wasn’t the hand he was dealt. He took a step back after a good first impression, but that was to be expected as the league found him out. Since his learning environment has been the major leagues it doesn’t make much sense to change that now. He would benefit from having a veteran back-up, and I don’t know if Paulino is that guy. The Mets will stick with Thole for the simple facts they have confidence he’ll develop and they want to spend their limited resources elsewhere. A tip: Have somebody else catch R.A. Dickey.

JOE’S TAKE: Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Thole is long for this team. The only reason he is still hanging onto his job is because quite simply the Mets positional depth at catcher is in complete shambles, and it has been that way for most of the team’s 50 year history.

On most teams, Thole is a backup catcher – maybe. On the Mets he’s the best they got, which says more about the state of the Mets than it does about Thole who was a good soldier when he was asked to ditch his first base glove and put on what Tim McCarver refers to as the “tools of ignorance.”

Thole has already had a few pitchers jaw about his pitch calling and you don’t need binoculars to see how miscast he looks behind the plate. His instincts are lacking and his offensive game leaves much to be desired. On a team that will have too many dead outs in their lineup in 2012, Thole is the worst one because he can’t field his position at a satisfactory level. When an opposing batter makes it to first base, they start drooling when Thole is behind the plate – even those who run as slow as John Olerud. Thole is a huge problem for the rotation, and for a team that is going to find themselves struggling to score runs and protect leads next season.

Nov 12

2011 Player Review: Scott Hairston, Willie Harris

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at bench players Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Tomorrow: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

SCOTT HAIRSTON

THE SKINNY: They are role players for a reason: neither Willie Harris nor Scott Hairston are good enough to be fulltime players. Harris, 33, hit .246 with two homers and 23 RBI for the cost of $800,000. Hairston, 31, hit .235 with seven homers and 24 for the cost of $1.1 million. Both were good in the clubhouse, and Hairston contributed off the bench.

REASONS TO KEEP THEM: Teams need role players and they are known quantities. … They are young enough to where they can continue to contribute. … Neither will cost the Mets much.

REASONS TO LET THEM GO: Role players are easily replaceable for a comparable cost. … If the desire is to go into a full rebuilding mode, then let’s see what’s available in the minor leagues.

JOHN’S TAKE: It isn’t as if they can’t be replaced. Traditionally, role players are the last added to the roster so their priorities are elsewhere.

Role players are more important to contenders as missing pieces, and that doesn’t describe the Mets. If the Mets want to bring them back, fine. If not, that’s fine, also.

JOE’S TAKE: Glad we decided to group these two together. It’s hard for me to be too critical of players who were specifically signed for the bench. Of the two, I wouldn’t mind keeping Hairston and I’ll tell you why, he’s right-handed – first, plays a solid outfield – second, and the dude has some serious pop left in his bat – third.

I took a look at his 132 at-bats last season and never mind for a second that he batted .235, but did you know if you prorated his numbers over 500 at-bats, Hairston would have hit 28 home runs with 96 RBI? Of course, hewon’t get that much playing time barring an unforseen disaster next season, but there’s nothing wrong with that kind of potential on your bench. Just don’t bat him against RHP.

As for Harris, he’s a great guy. I love his attitude and his presence in the clubhouse, but we have too many young outfielders we need to get up to the majors and evaluate and in that regard Harris is just clogging up the works. So let him go and start making those spectacular, hit-robbing plays in the outfield again – which he never make for the Mets.

Nov 11

2011 Player Review: Jason Isringhausen

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Jason Isringhausen. Tomorrow: Willie Harris and Scott Hairston. Sunday: Chris Young and Ronny Paulino.

JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, RP

THE SKINNY: It was good story at the time when the Mets reached into their past to sign reliever Jason Isringhausen. Pushing 40 and with a tattered bullpen, Isringhausen represented a no-risk proposition. Isringhausen wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, but accepted an extended spring training assignment and within several weeks the inevitable pen breakdown occurred and he was back. Isringhausen was effective for the most part, and eventually assumed the closer role after Francisco Rodriguez was traded and earned seven saves to reach the 300 milestone. However, Isringhausen struggled and eventually broke down and ended the season on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: Isringhausen showed he still knew how to pitch and when he needed it was able to pump up his fastball. … His experience and composure is beneficial to a young and inexperienced bullpen.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He doesn’t make the Mets any younger and the odds are in favor of physical problems. …. The Mets are in a rebuilding mode and he was take an opportunity away from somebody else.

JOHN’S TAKE: If there’s a younger option go with him, but is there? There is value in his experience and leadership, and if they Mets are playing well he could be important to the bullpen.

I’d be willing to invite him to spring training with the provision he could leave as a free agent should an opportunity arise elsewhere. That’s a no-lose situation. Should he make the team and prove healthy and productive, he could be a trade chip in July.
While there exist numerous other options for older, stopgap relievers, Isringhausen is a proven commodity to the Mets, who don’t have a closer, much less a set-up man.

JOE’S TAKE: Call me sentimental, but if Isringhausen is healthy and wants to forgo his retirement for another season, I would bring him back. It’s not like we can’t use the help or experience in the bullpen anyway. Izzy’s 1.28 WHIP was among the best in the Mets bullpen and even topped Parnell’s 1.47 WHIP by a considerable margin. He also didn’t implode whenever he emerged from those bullpen gates in the ninth inning like Parnell did – an important fact to consider.

I see nothing wrong with giving him the same kind of deal he received last season. Remember, Sandy Alderson specifically said on more than one occasion that he didn’t trade Izzy, despite some offers for him, because he was a great influence on the younger relievers. So what’s changed? He could still assume that role and at the same time be one of the more effective relievers out of the Mets bullpen once again in 2012.

Jason Isringhausen… You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right… Come on down…

Sep 08

Game One lineup vs. Braves: Sept. 8

Game One: Mets batting order vs. Atlanta

Ruben Tejada, SS

Justin Turner, 2B

Lucas Duda, RF

David Wright, 3B

Angel Pagan, CF

Jason Bay, LF

Nick Evans, 1B

Ronny Paulino, C

Chris Schwinden, RP

NOTES: Jason Isringhausen has a herniated disc and will miss several days. … Manny Acosta is expected to be used in a save opportunity in Game One. … Terry Collins continues to be cautious with Jose Reyes, giving him the first game off. The sun is out and it should help dry the field, perhaps lessening the chance of Reyes aggravating his hamstring. … Mike Minor and Julio Teheran will start the doubleheader for the Braves. You’ll recall their names were prominently mentioned as sought after chips when the Braves inquired into Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence.