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Lazy Analysis

Mike SteffanosSaturday, February 3, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

With the internet, we are exposed to the "expert" opinions of many more analysts than back in the stone age days when I was growing up. Sadly, exposure to more baseball stories often doesn't translate into increased value for serious baseball fans. Instead, on respected sports web sites you can find all manner of stories that purport to offer up meaningful insight that offer up nothing of the sort. Nowadays it's perfectly acceptable to offer a sort of "lazy analysis" that deals more with perception and the personal prejudice of the author than with any real discernment.

A couple of days ago I read yet another piece on one of the major sites that offers the opinion that the Mets bullpen will cave in under the weight of all the innings they will pitch. While it is certainly legitimate to criticize the gamble the Mets are taking with their starting pitching, it would be nice if one of these "experts" would take the time to understand what the Mets are trying to do before they offer their opinion on said gamble. We saw a lot of this last year, too, and yet the bullpen held up well for the whole season. The problem we have here is that when you look at the amount of innings the bullpen has to contribute, you also have to keep in mind the composition of the bullpen.

Your major league bullpen typically consists of a closer, one really dependable setup man and not much else. Good bullpens might have an extra guy that you have confidence in and maybe a respectable specialist or two. What the Mets did last year was to put together a bullpen that went 4 deep in quality under Wagner (Heilman, Sanchez, Bradford and Feliciano) and also featured a very solid long man in Darren Oliver. Despite dire predictions all year -- particularly when the Mets went through a streak when every other game seemed to go into extra innings -- the Mets bullpen did not implode. Heilman led all relievers on the team with 87 innings, and Sanchez would have been up there, too, if he hadn't been hurt in the cab accident. No one else pitched an extraordinary number of innings, despite the revolving door of starting pitching the Mets had to resort to last season.

The Mets starting pitching for 2007 certainly doesn't look any worse than last season. The Mets made a priority of lining up a good selection of arms for the bullpen again, and it stands every chance of being as deep as last year's 'pen. Barring really bad luck with their staff -- and it's hard to imagine worse luck than they experienced last season -- the Mets pitching figures to be equivalent to what they had. Now an argument can certainly be made that Atlanta and Philadelphia are much better than they were last year, and will put more pressure on the Mets all season. Perhaps things will really go right for one or both of these teams or the Marlins and they will surpass the Mets. That's how it goes in baseball where the other guys are trying to win, too.

I'm all for intelligent argument based on actual facts and thoughtful opinion, but please spare me the cliché and bullet point form of analysis that's all too pervasive today. As consumers of this information, we need to view it with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Peterson signed for 3 years
Good news that the Mets and Rick Peterson came to terms on a 3-year deal to keep the pitching coach in New York. It's interesting to note the change in perception regarding Peterson among the fans. While many still seemed to at least partially blame him for the Kazmir trade going into last season -- thanks in good part to local talk radio hosts -- the good work he's done with some of the reclamation projects and the bullpen in particular have caused most to look favorably towards Peterson now.

Ambiorix Burgos
Ed from Mets Fever offers up some more info on the recently acquired Ambiorix Burgos, including a scouting report from a Royals blogger.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (7)

Something I thought was funny last season was how the entire time people were trying to convince people that the Mets are not that good and are due to fail... eventually. I mean I guess they failed eventually but it was much later than the "experts" imagined.
Every month of the season despite being on top and dominating, they were NOT the favorites. There was always some team to be "scared" of. It was full of flavor of the months.
Some people were even talking about the Dodgers beating the Mets in the NLCS? HA! It wasn't until the Mets swept thier asses that they got any love and respect.

So it'll be fun this year going through the same thing. 2007 will be full of another set of Flavor of the Months while the Mets kick ass and take names.

And it was usually the lack of great starting pitching and all the innings the Mets needed from their bullpen that was going to sink them when people wrote them off last year, too.

Hey Mike,

I read that same thing about the bullpen caving in. That is such a crock. I think Schoeneweis was a great addition and will dominate against left-handed hitters this year. If healthy, Duaner will be a great bridge to Heilman and Wagner. I'd put our setup man and closer against any team in the NL. With regards to the long man, obviously Darren Oliver was huge last season, but don't count out Burgos and Sosa, one of them will sieze the job and run with it. I think long relievers are overrated anyway. Bottom line... Our bullpen will be more effective than last year.

I love your site.

And there certainly will be enough arms to spread the work around.

Yeah, we certainly have enough arms. What worries me is will we get enough of a look at these guys to be able to discern who is the best fit for the bullpen. (The guy who had the best spring will not necessarily be the one who will give us the best pitching during the season.) And which of the guys who will be competing for the 6th and 7th spots in the pen have options? If Sosa doesn't make the team, because we decide to bring Sele, Vargas and/or Burgos north with the big club, is there a chance we might lose him--like we lost Standridge?

Interesting Mike. was that bullet form comment aimed at me.

I like what you said and I like what benny said. Last year nobody picked us in pre season. I saw one analyst give us the WC berth. Philly and Atlanta were the predominant picks. And at the all star break we were supposed to fold, then lose in the first rnd to the dodgers.
I like what Omar has done, I even like that he has 'offered' Pelfrey, Humber and possibly Devaney an oppurtunity to compete for a spot. He has also rung out praise for Maine and Ollie who may have been his playoff studs. A good season, even start to the season by Ollie will be a difference maker too.

Ultimately though I look forward to reading your review of the pre-season picks/cliche's in 'Lazy Analysis Pt deux'.

Chris - Those are good questions. I guess it depends on the contract. Sosa signed a major league deal, so he may have to approve an assignment to the minors. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out in the spring, and how many guys wind up in New Orleans as insurance. On the bright side, New Orleans is probably an easier sell to a ballplayer than Norfolk...
No. I'm not talking about those who use bullet points to make their case. I'm talking about those who "research" their story with cliche and prejudice rather than facts.

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