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New York Mets: What Has to Go Right to Escape 4th Place?

Despite signing Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract this offseason, the New York Mets are still not expected to push past the Atlanta Braves or the Washington Nationals in the National League East. 

But while ousting the Braves and Nationals would be far-fetched, third place is a very attainable outcome for the Mets—that is, only if a few scenarios come to fruition. 

For instance, the Mets need shortstop Ruben Tejada to be a producer in 2014. And even though Tejada will never be Jose Reyes, the team simply needs the 24-year-old to be league average—not the Mendoza Line hitter he was in 2013.

Read on to see all the scenarios that must go right for the Mets to escape fourth place in the National League East.


All statistics sourced from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.

OPS+ and bWAR are sourced from Baseball-Reference. wRC+, DRS, UZR/150 and ZiPS/Steamer/Oliver projections from FanGraphs.

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Nick Franklin: MLB Suitors Should Beware of His Defense at Shortstop

Going into the offseason, the Seattle Mariners obviously weren’t satisfied with their production up the middle. To address their concern, the Mariners boldly handed Robinson Cano a $240 million contract to man second base for the next decade. And with the more defensively apt Brad Miller entrenched at shortstop, it leaves 22-year-old Nick Franklin without a starting job.

But then again, middle infielders with a career minor league .819 OPS+ don’t grow on trees. The Mariners have reportedly been contacted about Franklin’s services by both the Tampa Bay Rays, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, as well as the New York Mets, per ESPN’s Adam Rubin.

Yet unlike the Rays, who might acquire Franklin as a means to stockpile unique talent, the Mets likely view the second baseman as a solve at shortstop.

Franklin, who was selected 27th overall in the 2009 draft, is technically a “natural” shortstop. Having logged 1,150 minor league innings there, the idea of using Franklin as a shortstop isn’t far-fetched. 

Yet almost every scouting report written by reputable prospect writers since 2011 have suggested against it.

Back in 2011, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein, who is now the director of pro scouting for the Houston Astros, was one of the first prospect writers to suggest Franklin’s future should be at second base:

He’s not a bad shortstop, but not as athletic as most expect for the position, and his arm is merely average. … He could be an above-average offensive performer for a middle infielder, but it might happen at second base.

The declination of Franklin’s stock as a shortstop only continued in 2012. FanGraphs’ Mike Newman stated, “The storybook ending is far from guaranteed given Franklin’s perceived defensive limitations. … Include me on the list of prospect writers who openly question his ability to stick [at shortstop].” 

Fellow FanGraphs prospect scribe Marc Hulet concurred a few months later:

Franklin is reliable at shortstop, fielding everything hit to him, and has good actions but both his range and arm are fringe-average for the position. Second base would probably be his best position.

Franklin’s pre-2013 offseason plan to gain weight might have played a role in him hitting 16 home runs (between Triple-A and the majors), but its effect on his shortstop defense was also noticeable.

FanGraphs’ Mike Newman again critiqued the infielder, writing, “In 2012, a leaner Franklin failed to impress defensively as a member of the Jackson Generals. With the added size of an off-season regimen filled with 6,000 calorie days and time in the weight room, it’s even more difficult to project Franklin as a shortstop at the Major League level.” 

Baseball Prospectus’ Mark Anderson and Bret Sayre took Newman’s analysis a step further in late May, essentially proclaiming that Franklin’s future value is closely tied to his ability to hit: 

No matter where he plays in the field Franklin is a bat-first player. He is limited at shortstop, offering only modest range and an arm that earns below-average to fringe-average grades. He has decent hands and solid instincts but they are not enough to make him a palatable defender on the left side of the infield long term.

But even if one doesn’t put stock in these scouting reports, perhaps the biggest indicator of Franklin’s ability to play shortstop was the Mariners’ unwillingness to let him play at the position in 2013. Franklin played almost 60 percent of his Triple-A games at second base and logged a mere 20.2 innings (compared to 828.1 innings at second base) at shortstop once he was called up to the majors.

ZiPS currently projects Franklin to produce a park-adjusted 100 wRC+ and 2.5 zWAR in 2014, playing his games at shortstop. Yet if trading for Nick Franklin costs the Mets a pitching prospect like Rafael Montero, it makes little sense to simply create a new kind of problem at shortstop just to mask an existing one.


All statistics sourced from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

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5 Realistic Moves the New York Mets Should Have Made This Offseason

Playing armchair general manager is often met with skepticism. In an ideal world, the New York Mets would have outbid the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano’s services, subsequently adding one of the premier offensive threats at a notoriously light-hitting position.

But given the Mets’ small-market approach, inking Cano was never in the realm of possibility—even if the team did buy him lunch (per the NY Post’s Ken Davidoff).

Yet, there were a number of low-cost, high-reward acquisitions other teams executed that the Mets could have also made.

For instance, despite posting comparable three-year averages to many of the highest-earning starters this offseason, Paul Maholm only garnered a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Given the mediocre Plan B rotation options behind Jenrry Mejia, the Mets should have invested in Maholm.

Read on to see the five realistic moves the New York Mets should have made this offseason.


All statistics and payroll information sourced from Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Oliver Perez: How Is He Still a Free Agent in a Buyer’s Market?

After being a punch line with the New York Mets from 2009 to 2010—and even spending the entire 2011 season at Double-A for the Washington Nationals—Oliver Perez has completely reinvented himself as a serviceable relief pitcher. Over the past two seasons with the Seattle Mariners, the left-hander has combined for a 3.16 ERA (versus a park-adjusted 119 ERA+), 1.36 WHIP and 2.72 strikeouts-to-walks ratio over 82.2 innings. 

Yet, when you look at the remaining left-handed reliever free agents, Perez’s name is still somehow there. 

Oddly enough, the 32-year-old isn’t just a left-handed specialist, either. In 2012, Perez actually fared better against right-handed hitters than he did against southpaws. 




vs. LHH



vs. RHP



And while Perez’s success against left-handed hitters improved in 2013 (a .238 batting average against), he also didn’t become too vulnerable versus righties (a .255 batting average against). 

So if Perez has been an effective source of outs since 2012, could his free-agent status be due to another factor—like a dry market for southpaw relievers?

By comparison, below are the other left-handed relievers who have already been inked this offseason.

On the contrary, the 2014 offseason has actually been a buyer’s market for left-handed relievers. Teams have invested over $65 million combined, while handing out six multi-year contracts.

In fact, the 2014 offseason has by far been the most lucrative for left-handed relievers over the past four offseasons.


Multi-Yr Contracts

Total $ (MM)













(Note: left-handed closers are not included in above chart).

Considering the identical production between Perez and Boone Logan, the highest-grossing free-agent left-handed reliever this offseason, the lack of interest in Perez is befuddling. At an average of $5.5 million per season, the Colorado Rockies will receive the same type of production from Logan as whoever signs Perez.

There also haven’t been substantial rumors linking Perez to any teams. The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore speculated back in November about the Nationals’ interest in acquiring a left-handed reliever—and mentioned Perez as a fit. But despite the Washington Post’s James Wagner rehashing Kilgore’s report this past week, the Nationals have seemingly addressed their southpaw void by acquiring stud lefty Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 11.

Like most baseball mysteries, perhaps there are simply some factors that have not been made public. Maybe Perez and his agent Mike Fischlin (of the Scott Boras Corp.) are well aware of the statistical comparisons and have been unsuccessfully holding out for a Logan-esque contract. Or it’s possible Perez, who was a starting pitcher up until 2010, prefers to start and is stubbornly waiting until a team offers him a big league contract as such.

Whatever the actual reason may be, assuming Perez signs a major league contract as a reliever, his new organization will undoubtedly be receiving his services at a far discounted price.


All statistics and other information sourced from Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs and MLB Trade Rumors.

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10 MLB Players Heading into Make-or-Break Seasons

Not every MLB player is looking forward to 2014. For some, the new season represents a pivotal juncture in their respective careers.

This is of course called a “make-or-break season.” While some players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard appear to be albatrosses, their contractual security is paramount to their 2014 production.

By comparison, a player like Rickie Weeks desperately needs to find his stroke in 2014. After posting a .209 batting average with an 80 OPS+ in 2013, the once elite second baseman is already playing caddy to farmhand Scooter Gennett.

And if Weeks continues to hit below the league average, the 31-year-old will not find a starting job in 2015.

Read on to see the 10 MLB players heading into make-or-break seasons.


All statistics sourced from and

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Fact or Fiction on All the Biggest MLB Offseason Rumors

With the ability to follow beat writers and insider sources on Twitter, rumors have been swirling at faster rates than ever before. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the rumors are more real.

For instance, Jhonny Peralta seemed on his way to either New York team, per The Star-Ledger’s Andy McCullough, until the St. Louis Cardinals swooped in at the last moment to ink the shortstop to a four-year, $53 million contract.

On the other end of the spectrum, current free-agent Stephen Drew has continually been rumored to re-sign with the Boston Red Sox. And while his agent Scott Boras might want to involve other parties, it’s likely Drew will return to Boston given the dry shortstop market.

Read on to see whether the biggest MLB offseason rumors are fact or fiction.


All statistics sourced from and

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MLB Players Who Are Thrilled or Devastated to See 2013 End

For every Josh Donaldson or Matt Carpenter, there’s an Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Even as comparatively predictable as baseball is to other sports, perfectly projecting all of the breakouts and disappointments is too tall of an order for even the savviest of sabermetricians. 

And that’s why the opposite ends of the production spectrum either dread or relish “next season.”

Take Matt Kemp, for instance. After almost winning the 2011 NL MVP Award and posting a park-adjusted 147 OPS+ in 2012, Kemp was a gimpy dud this past season. In fact, his 105 OPS+ and 263 plate appearances were his worst showings since his rookie year. Needless to say, Kemp is eager for the 2014 season to arrive.

Read on to see the rest of MLB players who are thrilled or devastated to see 2013 end.


All statistics sourced from and

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Grading Newest Wave of MLB’s Impact Offseason Transactions

The offseason is still going strong into late December.

The latest free-agent chip to fall was Shin-Soo Choo, who signed a seven-year, $130 million pact with the Texas Rangers. And while the Rangers had few options left to jump-start their offense, it’s possible the Choo deal will blow up in their face.

But the Choo signing was hardly surprising. By contrast, few expected the Chicago White Sox to dangle Addison Reed, who they dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third-base prospect Matt Davidson. The White Sox, who are in a mini-rebuilding phase, parted with unneeded depth for a hitter who could realistically be the team’s third baseman for the next decade.

Read on to see how all of MLB’s latest impact offseason transactions grade out.


All statistics from and

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5 MLB Teams That Can Still Turn Around Disappointing Offseasons

The 2013 offseason has been a particularly active one. The New York Yankees let Robinson Cano walk and instead inked Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. And on the trade front, Doug Fister and Dexter Fowler were surprisingly dealt to the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, respectively.

But there are some teams that, for whatever reason, have decided to take the backseat this offseason. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of those teams. Despite enjoying their first playoff berth since 1992, the team has only made a handful of forgettable low-reward acquisitions this offseason. 

Regardless of these teams’ laid-back offseasons thus far, there is still plenty of hope before the 2014 season starts.

Read on to see all of the MLB teams that can still turn around disappointing offseasons.


*All statistics sourced from and

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Predicting ‘Boom or Bust’ for Biggest Risks MLB Teams Are Taking This Winter

Perhaps due to the new television agreements, MLB teams have been spending an inordinate amount of money this offseason. Many of the larger contracts handed out have even prompted many fans and critics to redefine their notion of “value.”

But an increased payroll hardly limits risk. For instance, the very franchise that turned away increasingly expensive stars like Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. inked Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract.

And while Cano certainly provides the Seattle Mariners with a formidable offensive leader, the team will be paying its new star $24 million through age 41.

Read on to see all “boom or bust” predictions for the biggest risks MLB teams are taking this winter.


All statistics sourced from and

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