Restoring the rosters: No. 20 – New York (NL)

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
The second third of the rankings kicks off with the Mets, a team with two superstars and a cast of mediocrity. At least they do still have the superstars on their current squad. Most of the other quality players signed by the team were shipped off long before without ever having a chance to make a mark.
Rotation
A.J. Burnett
Scott Kazmir
Brian Bannister
Mike Pelfrey
Jon Niese
Bullpen
Heath Bell
Octavio Dotel
Matt Lindstrom
Bobby Parnell
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Joe Smith
Of the 12 pitchers above, Pelfrey has the most wins as a Met, with 26. Heilman is next with 22. No one else is in double figures. Mota, who was originally signed as a position player in 1990, won five games for the team between 2006 and ’07.
The top three starters were traded for Al Leiter, Victor Zambrano and Ambiorix Burgos.
It is a pretty solid pitching staff, though. Obviously, it’d be better if Kazmir still had the same stuff he did a couple of years ago, but Bannister is more than holding his own in the AL and Niese appeared to be on the verge of becoming a possible No. 3 starter before getting hurt earlier this month. The bullpen has some big-time arms, but it is missing a lefty. The best options there are Billy Traber and Lenny DiNardo. Fortunately, Heilman and Mota have usually been pretty good at retiring southpaws.
Lineup
SS Jose Reyes
3B David Wright
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Jacobs
C Jesus Flores
2B Kaz Matsui
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Daniel Murphy
Bench
INF Ty Wigginton
OF Angel Pagan
OF Jay Payton
OF Lastings Milledge
C Raul Casanova
If you want, you can stick one of those lesser hitters in between Reyes and Wright in the order. I wouldn’t. Also, if the team absolutely has to include a true utilityman, it’s going to have to be Double-A shortstop Ruben Tejada. Reyes isn’t going to get any days off either way.
The lineup is definitely OBP challenged apart from Reyes and Wright, but there’s still some nice power in the middle and speed at the end. Wigginton and Payton should start over Jacobs and Murphy against left-handers. If Milledge ever comes around, then Jacobs and Murphy can battle for playing time at first base.
Summary
The Mets’ lack of patience with prospects has been a problem, but as one can plainly see, the team hasn’t produced a whole lot of talent through the years. Part of the problem is that the team has given away first-round picks recently, but even after accounting for that, GM Omar Minaya’s drafts have been disappointing. A recent influx of Latin American talent should help — players like Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia and Tejada could all play key roles in a couple of years — but it remains to be seen whether Minaya will be around to see it happen.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.