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Best Managerial Job in Mets History, Heath Bell’s Regression, Wright’s Strat-O-Matic Card, Who is Mike Baxter, Murphy in the Outfield

By Mike Silva ~ August 9th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Terry Collins return to the bench has been, to quote Freddie Mercury, “no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise.” He’s lost his corner infielders for significant portions of the season, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy, and Jose Reyes will wind up missing a month of games. There have been five points of the season where you waited for this team to quit. The 5-13 start, losing David Wright and Ike Davis, Fred Wilpon’s foolish comments in Sports Illustrated and the New Yorker, the Carlos Beltran trade, and now the loss of Daniel Murphy have been defining situations. At every point Collins has been adamant about his team playing hard, fundamentally, and with heart.

Losing Jose Reyes for two weeks and Daniel Murphy for the season, all while losing 2 of 3 to their division rival, seemed to be the breaking point for the club. In the past, Jerry Manuel‘s crew would begin off-season reservations. They would be more interested in their fantasy football drafts than playing out the string with passion. Last night, down 8-4, it was the type of game that prior editions of the team under Manuel would fold and die. I have to admit, I began to think that even Collins was about to lose his club. After all, what’s the point? The Mets season will end after game 162, just like every season since 2007.

The difference is Collins is trying to build a new foundation of success. These games do mean something in the larger scope of changing the attitude of the organization. The heroes of the game – Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Justin Turner- might not be here when this team contends for something meaningful. That doesn’t mean they can’t play a big part in changing the legacy of failure that hangs over Citi Field like a dark cloud.

I doubt Collins wins manager of the year because of the great story Kirk Gibson is writing in Arizona. Regardless, you couldn’t ask more from the skipper that was run out of Anaheim over a decade ago. If he gets this group to 81 wins or more it might go down as the best managerial job in team history.


Heath Bell has historically been very good against his former club (1.88 ERA, 5 saves before last night’s game). Bell looked lost at Citi Field last night, mainly due to the fact he couldn’t command his curveball.

When there were rumors the Yankees were interested in Heath Bell, I discussed how they should proceed with caution. His strikeout rate, 11.1 in 2010, is down to 6.1 and is a huge red flag. When you factor in the “portly body type” you wonder if Bell’s period of dominance has already hit its shelf life. I certainly wouldn’t give up a top prospect for him down the stretch (see Eric Gagne in 2007), and definitely wouldn’t invest a multi-year deal with Bell in the offseason.


Now that David Wright made an appearance at shortstop, he will be graded there on his Strat-O-Matic card. He didn’t make an error, so his E-Rating will be 0. As for his range factor, I suspect he will get a “5,” the worst possible. I understand if you are not a SOM fan, then none of this makes sense. Carry on.


Who is the latest Met, Mike Baxter? We know he grew up in Whitestone, which makes his call-up a great homecoming story. He attended Vanderbilt, and was drafted in the fourth round by the Padres in 2005. The Mets claimed him off waivers last month.

Throughout his 7 year minor league career, he’s played first, left, right, center, second, and third. He has a bit of speed (22 stolen bases last year), power (18 homers last season in Triple-A), and has a career MILB OBP of .350.  I would be wary of his minor league numbers as most have come in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. According to Chicken Friars he “rates as a solid-to-plus defender in the outfield corners.” They compare him defensively to Nick Swisher. I am not sure that translate to “above average,” but that is just splitting hairs. He received a cup of coffee last season with San Diego, where he went 1 for 8.

Baxter certainly doesn’t profile as a starter, and very well may turn out to be another 4-A player like Chris Carter. Who knows, he could turn out to be a versatile left handed bat off the bench that can play multiple positions. Those types of guys do have value on a 25 man roster.


Was it me, but did Lucas Duda not appear to enjoy the pie to the face after the game?


Collins talked before the game about trying Daniel Murphy in the outfield again. This, predictably, was met with hysteria from the Mets fan base. I realize Murphy was lousy in the outfield in 2009, but many forget he was thrust into the position upon being called up in 2008. Murphy was given four innings in left field at Binghamton before his debut on August 2nd, 2008.

He had his issues in ’09, but I don’t remember him being terrible during his eight week stint in 2008. Remember, the Mets were in a pennant race at that time as well. The issue with Murphy’s future position is two-fold. First, he needs time to prepare for the position. They can’t commit to one position, only to switch him to another. If they decided left field is where his future lies, they need to leave him there even if an injury occurs. His bat also needs to be taken into consideration. Right now, he profiles best at second base.

Murphy’s OPS+ of 124 ranks him in the middle of the pack at first and amongst all corner outfielders. At second base, however, he is in the top 10 right near Rickie Weeks, Robinson Cano, Howie Kendrick, and Chase Utley.

If he can learn the basic mechanics of the position, he should be able to keep himself healthy. If he can turn the double play, then I think the Mets could live with the occasional clunker, or less than perfect range.

I am a proponent of up-the-middle defense. I am not sure Murphy can’t give you a glove on par with someone like Jeff Kent. His bat looks to be good enough where it would provide the team a real advantage at the position.

The bottom line, whatever position the organization decides on, they need to give him time to play it right, and not move him around the field throughout the season.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Best Managerial Job in Mets History, Heath Bell’s Regression, Wright’s Strat-O-Matic Card, Who is Mike Baxter, Murphy in the Outfield

  1. Stu B

    Thinking of last night’s ending, Anita Ward said it best in this song…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPYese-Hl8M

  2. tnt1528

    yes , he didnt look too happy after,thought i was only one who noticed.

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