Thursday, September 13, 2012

The face of Moneyball

If you have not yet read the Faith and Fear in Flushing piece about the death spiral engulfing the Mets, please go here and read it. Written by Jason Fry, the story discusses previous dark periods in the franchise's history (early 80s, early 90s, and 2003). Jason points out that in those tough times, the franchise had money to invest, and therefore hope existed no matter how dismal things appeared. In 2012, we have a different situation. The team is as bad as it was in those eras (of you say "worse" I will not argue). However, there is little or no money to invest. This may not be a dark winter with the promise of spring, this may be the Mets nuclear winter. I don't disagree, Jason.

This brings me to something I have been saying for almost 2 years. Sandy Alderson was certainly brought here to produce a winner. However, and very importantly, he was brought here to reinvigorate a franchise on a shoestring budget, as he and his cronies did with the Athletics using the "moneyball" concept. Simply said, the moneyball concept refers to finding undervalued (a euphemism for "cheap") players, who hit home runs and get on base. Moneyball, using statistical analysis, says defense is less important in baseball and can be sacrificed, and views the stolen base as the creation of the devil himself. If you doubted that Alderson was going to employ moneyball here, I present Lucas Duda, the moneyball poster child.

Lucas can certainly hit the long ball, with can being the operative word. Duda has 45 walks this year in 401 plate appearances. Last year, Duda had 33 walks in 347 plate appearances. Goodness knows Lucas cannot run or play defense, and this year he will make $497,000. Folks, in the picture above, you are looking at moneyball. The Mets have a strange fascination with Duda, something I have never seen and will never see. I simply don't think the "Duda Type" is a winning type. I prefer athletes. I like guys who can produce in some way in all five aspects of the game. They don't have to be superstars. But to me, you build with guys who can contribute in multiple ways. In this sense, I like the Whitey Herzog approach. Sandy likes moneyball approach. He may be right. If you like seeing players like Duda and you're a Mets fan, you may be in luck. Personally, I find this approach to building a team disturbing, and I doubt it can be successful in the NL in this era. I think you're seeing its success rate right now on the field. In case you've been hibernating, the Mets are 19-38 since the ASB. They look bad on defense and worse at the plate. They seem to look for walks, as Bobby O says. Welcome to moneyball.

I have little to say about the product on the field. I will say that it's unacceptable on any level, in New York or in any other town. I've read the tweets and Metsblog where some say the team has not quit, it's just bad. This is the same team, the same personnel, that went 46-40 in the first half. I like TC and don't want to think that the team has quit, but it certainly looks like they have. It would be one thing if this were an aberration, a bump in the road. I don't think it is. Neither does Jason Fry. I took the picture below on Saturday at Citi. This picture says 1,000 words.

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