Mets report card, Part 2

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Mets

I’ve been a bit busy of late, so I didn’t have time to finish the report cards. The first part dealt mainly with the key offensive players. I have a few more of those to grade, and then on to the pitchers.

Josh Thole, C: Thole emerged as the starter during the second half of the season, showing he could handle the pitching staff and displaying a decent throwing arm as well. Offensively, I love Thole’s approach. A lefty hitter, Thole chokes up on the bat and just tries to put the ball in play. And while he’s never going to be a power hitter, he showed he can turn on a pitch from time to time. After a blazing hot start, Thole settled in to post an adequate .277/.357/.366 line. He showed a good eye at the plate with 24 walks. He struck out just 25 times, and I think he would be an ideal No. 2 hitter if he keeps improving. Grade: B

Jeff Francoeur, RF:While many Mets fans were happy to get rid of him, I actually liked Francoeur. At least to a certain extent. I loved his passion for the game, as he always seemed to be giving a 100 percent effort. His howitzer for an arm kept many runners from taking an extra base, and he did a nice job of handling a tricky right field at Citi Field. But, as was the case with the Braves, Francoeur’s lack of patience at the plate was mind-boggling. Francoeur is a true hacker, often swinging at the first pitch he sees, no matter where it is. It’s a shame, because if the guy ever learned plate dicipline, he could be a star. The ball jumps off his bat when he zones in on a good pitch, and he delivered a few clutch hits while with the Mets. But facts are facts, and his overall hitting line of .237/.293/.369 isn’t going to cut it anywhere. Traded to the Rangers on Aug. 31, Francoeur has a chance to win a ring. And while I liked his intangibles, he just isn’t a major-league starter. Grade: C-

Rod Barajas, C: Barajas got off to a great start and was probably the MVP of the team through May. He had 11 homers through the first two months of the season, and every one seemed to be a big one. But, much like Francoeur, Barajas had zero plate discipline, going into a huge tailspin before finally getting hot again…as a member of the Dodgers. Grade: C

Johan Santana, SP: Johan has always been one of my favorite pitchers in all of baseball (even before coming to the Mets). He’s a real gamer with a true desire to win. I love his intensity and bulldog mentality on the mound, as he never wants to come out of a game. However, injuries are starting to mount, as he’s had three surgeries (knee, elbow, shoulder) in the last three seasons. The last two injuries caused him to end the last two seasons early, and the latest injury to his shoulder is the most serious. Johan’s velocity has been in steady decline since coming to the Mets, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts whenever he returns. This year, Santana posted strong overall numbers despite a declining strikeout rate. He easily could have won 15 games with any offensive support, finishing 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA. He managed to pitch 199 innings despite missing the last month of the season. Grade: B

Mike Pelfrey, SP: It was a weird year for Big Pelf. Early on, it looked like he was developing into the ace we’ve all expected him to become, before a six-week stretch just after the All-Star break (coinciding with the Mets freefall) nearly torpedoed his season. During that time, he looked lost and was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Then, I thought “this guy is just never going to get it together.” But in late August, Pelf turned it around again and finished the season with a flourish, including a pair of strong starts against the hated Phillies. Overall, Pelfrey finished 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA. In 204 innings, he allowed 213 hits, but the inflated hit total was due to that horrendous string of outings in July and August. He led the team in wins and innings, making a positive stride in his development. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a No. 1 pitcher, but he looks like he’ll be a No. 2 or 3 on the staff for years to come. Grade: B

R.A. Dickey, SP: Ah, the Dickster. I love this guy. Not only did he dazzle opposing hitters with his knuckleball, he was another guy who gave maximum effort every time out. He fielded his position well and provided some key hits to boot. He’s young for a knuckleballer (35), finally mastering the pitch after four years of tinkering with it. The thing that makes Dickey so tough is that he changes speeds with the knuckler, able to throw it around 80 and slow it down to 60 if need be. Another thing that separates him from a Tim Wakefield is his ability to sneak other pitches when needed. And while an 85-mph fastball is below average for a traditional starter, it looks much faster when coupled with the unpredictable floating knuckleball. Dickey’s control was also good, as he walked just 42 hitters in 174 1/3 innings. Dickey finished 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA, and like Santana would have won several more with a little help from the offense. I saw enough this year to believe Dickey isn’t a one-hit wonder, and I hope the Mets re-sign him in the offseason, because having a knuckleballer in your rotation can throw off the timing of the opponent for an entire series. Grade: A

Jon Niese, SP: Niese was another bright spot in a surprisingly good starting rotation this season, pitching very well before hitting a wall in September. That rough September made Niese’s overall numbers look average (9-10, 4.20 ERA) but he displayed immense promise through most of the season. He turned in the best Mets pitching performance of the season with his one-hit shutout in May. The lefty has a nice arsenal of pitches, including an Andy Pettitte-like cutter and a gem of a curveball that’s downright nasty when he’s getting it over for strikes. Niese led the team in strikeouts, fanning 148 in 173 2/3 innings. He allowed 192 hits in those 173 2/3 innings, but he was below a hit per inning before the terrible September. Niese looks like a strong rotation option for years to come. Grade: B

Francisco Rodriguez, RP: The lowlight of the season was K-Rod’s punchout of his girlfriend’s father in the family room at CitiField. This guy always seemed like a loose cannon on the field, and his outburst off the field proved it. The guy still has some talent (4-2, 2.20 ERA, 25/30 saves) but it’s no given he’ll be on the team next season. His pugilistic skills netted an injury to his thumb, causing the team to put him on the disqualified list. The Mets may try to void his contract (good luck getting that one past the union), so he may have thrown his last pitch (and punch) for the team. Grade: KO

Hisanori Takahashi, SP/RP: While my disdain for Omar Minaya is well known on the blog, I have to give him credit for the minor-league signings of Dickey and this guy, a true jack of all trades this season. Takahashi filled every role you can have on a staff – starting, long relief, setup man, closer – and did a nice job in each spot, never complaining about being shuffled around more than a deck of cards at the World Series of Poker. Takahashi appeared in 53 games (12 starts), posting a 10-6 record with a 3.61 ERA. While he was a passable starter, Takahashi was great in the bullpen, taking over for KO-Rod as closer and converting all eight of his save opportunities. He pitched 122 innings, allowing 116 hits with 43 walks and 114 strikeouts. Takahashi is a master craftsman, able to change speeds and work in and out, up and down. His fastball is good enough to keep hitters honest, usually sitting at 89-91 mph. Another guy I hope the Mets bring back next season. Grade: A-

Pedro Feliciano, RP: The rubber-armed Feliciano again broke his own team record by appearing in 92 games. When used properly, Feliciano is as good as it gets when it comes to lefty specialists. He neutralizes lefthanded hitters and keeps the ball in the ballpark (just one homer in 62 2/3 innings). However, clueless Jerry Manuel continued to run him out there against righty hitters, even though they hit over .350 against him. (Lefties were right around .200). Feliciano could decline arbitration and become a free agent, projecting as a Type A. It’s a win-win for the Mets. If he accepts, they have their durable lefty back next year. If he declines and goes for free agency, the Mets will get an extra first-round pick next year. And with a new GM and player development staff that is hopefully competent, the Mets would get a chance to upgrade the farm system. Grade: B

I’m getting tired of writing, so I’ll do this for the bench players and other pitchers.

Guys I liked and want to see next spring: Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Chris Carter, Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada,

Guys I want to say adios to (other than Castillo and Perez): John Maine, Ryota Igarashi, Mike Hessman, Jesus Feliciano, Fernando Tatis

Guys I’m indifferent toward: Pat Misch, Elmer Dessens, Raul Valdes, Joaquin Arias, Luis Hernandez, Henry Blanco, Sean Green

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