The Mets considered releasing Mike Pelfrey

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A couple weeks ago our Matthew Pouliot suggested that maybe the Mets should just release Mike Pelfrey. I’m going to take this morning’s story from Andy Martino as evidence that the Mets brass reads HBT:

In a recent meeting that included the Mets’ executives and coaches, members of the front office suggested releasing Mike Pelfrey before Opening Day, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. None of the uniformed staff was in favor of the idea, and it was downplayed.

How much of that was a financial decision — Pelfrey has a non-guaranteed contract if he were to be cut before Opening Day, which would have the Mets owe him only $1 million — and how much was an actual baseball decision is an interesting question.  Because baseball-wise, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to release him.

Why? Because it’s not like having Pelfrey around, even if he’s at his worst, will prevent the Mets from going to the playoffs.  And when you’re not contending it’s useful to have someone like him around. He could eat some innings. If he figures out how to pitch effectively again he could be trade bait.  Trading him now — which the Mets have considered — would be the ultimate sell-low move.  But releasing him would be a similar kind of thing too. “Release-low” maybe.

In any event, Pelfrey had a nice outing yesterday. And while I wouldn’t bet on him being a truly good pitcher this season, it’s not out of the question that he could be serviceable, and that’s worth taking a chance on.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.