Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Mets probably won't make the playoffs...

... but they might.

The Mets are currently 40-39 and sit 5 games behind the Braves for the NL Wild Card (4 in the loss column). If you were to project that record to 162 games, you'd get an unimpressive 82-80, which would render them totally irrelevant when compared to the Braves' 92-70 projected record. However, the Mets started the season with an ugly 5-13 stretch. That can't be erased, but if you assume it is anomalous, and instead project their record in remaining games based on the 35-26 they've put together after that start, you'd get an ultimate record of 88-74. That, we can work with, especially since the Mets still have 9 head-to-head contests remaining with the Braves. Now, the Braves aren't the Mets' only hurdle in their quest for a playoff spot, and with half the season left, there are still a plethora of variables in play. I've also taken a few Met-favorable liberties with my assumptions. There's no denying that the Mets have a massive hole out of which to climb and that they're still a longshot. But perhaps their situation isn't as bleak as it appears at first blush after all.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Basics: What are options?

Options are among the more misunderstood facets of the game. Options (or option years) are years in which a team can send a player who is on the 40-man roster down to the minor leagues without the risk of losing that player to another team. A player sent down in this manner is said to be on optional assignment with the minor league club (hence the term "option"). Each player is granted 3 option years, however during an option year, there is no specific limit on the number of times a player can be called up or optioned down. There are, however, a few other noteworthy limitations and exceptions.

A player who has been optioned cannot be recalled until 10 days after the assignment, unless he is replacing a player who is being placed on the DL.

If a player spends fewer than 20 days on optional assignment in a given season, the season does not count as an option year for that player.

If a player has used all 3 options, but has not yet played 5 full professional seasons, he becomes eligible for a 4th option. A full professional season involves at least 90 days spent on an active roster in a given season.

For a list of Mets with options remaining, as well as a more detailed breakdown of individual Mets' option status, check out the Options tab.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dillon Gee is still getting lucky, but he's also getting (much) better

With all due SSS caveats, here are Gee's Major League numbers as a starter from 2010 and 2011:


What jumps off the page is that the numbers over which Gee has the most individual control (K/9 and BB/9) have significantly improved from his debut last September. He's managed to strikeout more hitters while walking fewer, to the point where his numbers in those categories are now in line with NL averages. In turn, he's knocked almost a full run off his FIP (a measure of ERA that attempts to be independent of fielding, i.e. a truer measure of a pitcher's individual contribution). Meanwhile, the numbers he has the least control over (BABIP and LOB%) have regressed toward their respective means. The NL as a league in 2011 has seen starters pitch to a BABIP of .288 and a LOB% of 72.1%. This regression toward those league averages is a major positive, as it implies that Gee's 2011 numbers are increasingly a reflection of his ability and less the result of the random nature of the game. And through all of it, he has continued to pitch deep into games, averaging around 6 1/2 innings per start (which is yet another important measure of his value).

Before diving in head-first on Gee, though, it's critical to remember that he's less than 100 innings into his big league career. There are still several cycles of adjustment that he and the league must make before he can be considered established. And there's also still enough daylight between Gee's BABIP and LOB% numbers and league averages to indicate that he's likely to experience some additional regression in performance measures like ERA and BAA (batting average against). Still, there is plenty to be excited about, and it's looking more and more like the Mets found a real gem in the 21st round of the '07 draft. One who is under team control at a very affordable rate for a long, long time. And one who, thus far, has been an absolute pleasure to watch pitch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nick Evans cleared waivers and accepted his assignment

After being removed from the 40-man roster last Friday, Nick Evans has cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Buffalo. Evans has the right to become a free agent at the end of the season if he is not back on the 40-man roster, although he would have been eligible for that anyway due to minor league service time (Rule 55).

Evans' decision to accept the assignment makes sense on a number of levels. He knows the Mets' system well, and is at least familiar, if not comfortable, with things in Buffalo. He knows that Scott Hairston is a free agent at the end of the season, so there is a potential opening he could fill on the Major League bench next spring. And, perhaps most importantly, he knows that he makes significantly more money playing in AAA for the Mets than he would elsewhere.

If Evans had refused this outright assignment and sought employment in another system, he would have been looking at a minor league minimum salary of around $67,000. Perhaps he could have done a little better, perhaps not. But with the Mets, he will make quite a bit more, with a minimum in the neighborhood of $110,000-$115,000 in the minors. Article VI (D) of the current CBA stipulates that a player under reserve to the club cannot be paid a minimum minor league salary below 60% of his total compensation from the prior year. Going back to the first time his contract was renewed, prior to the 2009 season, his minor league minimum salary would have been roughly $130,000, give or take. Prior to 2010 the minimum would have been slightly higher, closer to $135,000 (assuming he had been paid the minimum in the prior year). And then this year, it would have been in that $110,000-$115,000 range, again assuming that all along the Mets had offered him the minimum contract at both the Major and minor league levels.

All of that aside, though, his bat should at least help out a Bisons team that has won just just 3 of their past 14 games.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Feature: The Draft

I have added a page entitled "The Draft" to the blog. There is a tab up top that links to the page, or you can click here. The page includes Mets' draft classes going back to 2001, and contains a HS/JuCo/College breakdown of each draft class, as well as number of Top 100 picks and lists draftees who played in the Majors, guys who were traded, and players still with the organization.

The Basics: Who can refuse a minor league assignment?

There are two types of players who can refuse minor league assignments. The first, and more prominent, are the 5 year veterans. Any player who has accrued 5 years of Major League service has earned the right to refuse any minor league assignment. If such a player exercises this right, his team must either reinstate the player to the active roster or grant him his unconditional release. If the player is released, the team is on the hook for the remainder of the player's contract. In this situation, the player essentially holds all the cards. Jason Bay (7.154 years of ML service, as of 6/13/11), Angel Pagan (5.046 years), and RA Dickey (5.081 years) are examples of this type of player.

The other type of player who can refuse a minor league assignment is a player who has either accrued at least 3 years of Major League service time (but less than 5) and/or has already been outrighted once in his career. This type of player cannot refuse an optional assignment, but he can refuse an outright assignment. In other words, if a player who fits these criteria is optioned, he has no say in the matter. But if he is DFA'd and sent outright to the minors, he has the right to refuse the assignment. If he exercises this right, he becomes a free agent, however he forfeits the remainder of his contract. If, on the other hand, he accepts the outright assignment, he automatically defers his right to become a minor league free agent until the end of the season, provided he isn't back on the 40-man roster at that time. Mike Pelfrey (4.024 years), Nick Evans (prior outright) and Jason Pridie (prior outright) are examples of this type of player.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

DJ Carrasco called up; Dale Thayer optioned

DJ Carrasco

Carrasco was on optional assignment with AAA Buffalo at the time of this call-up, so he was already on the Mets' 40-man roster. He has spent (approximately) 48 days on optional assignment in 2011, so the option year will officially count as his third and final. This call-up, as well as any subsequent 2011 options and call-ups, will have no effect on the number of options he has remaining. Following the 2011 season, Carrasco will be out of options.

Dale Thayer

Thayer heads to AAA Buffalo on optional assignment, and thus remains on the 40-man roster. Prior to his May 27th call-up, Thayer spent the first 57 days of the season in the minor leagues. However, he was not on optional assignment at the time (he was simply on a minor league contract), so it didn't count toward the 20 days he needs for 2011 to officially be marked as his third and final option year. That clock starts now.

Other Notes:

This transaction has no effect on the 40-man roster, as both players involved were already on it. It's worth noting, however, that this move restarts DJ Carrasco's ML service clock, which had been frozen at 4.166 years (read: 4 years, 166 days). Once he earns 6 more days of service time, he'll eclipse the all-important 5 year mark. With 5 years of ML service come certain rights, including the ability to refuse any minor league assignment, optional or outright, and force the Mets to either reinstate him to the active roster or release him and continue to pay out the remainder of his contract. In other words, Carrasco is now (or, technically, in 6 days will become) very likely to remain on the Mets' active roster (or DL) for the remainder of his contract (which runs through 2012).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lucas Duda called up; Nick Evans DFA'd

Lucas Duda

Duda was on optional assignment with AAA Buffalo at the time of the call-up, so he was already on the 40-man roster. He has spent (approximately) 58 days on optional assignment in 2011, so the option year will officially count as his first. This call-up, as well as any subsequent 2011 options and call-ups, will have no effect on the number of options he has remaining.

Nick Evans

Evans is out of options, so to clear the spot for Duda on the 25-man active roster, he was designated for assignment (DFA'd). In addition to removing him from the active roster, the DFA also removes him from the 40-man roster. The Mets now have 10 days to trade him, release him, or send him outright to the minors. If they wish to outright him, he will first need to clear waivers. Additionally, since a player can only be outrighted once in his career without his consent, Evans will have the right to refuse the assignment. If he exercises that right, he will immediately become a free agent and will forfeit the remainder of his contract. If he accepts the assignment, he will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season (unless he is back on the 40-man roster at that time).

Regardless of what happens with Evans, this move reduces the Mets' 40-man roster count from 40 to 39. The open spot will not be filled until the Mets choose to either reinstate a player from the 60-day DL or call up a player who is not currently on the 40-man roster.

The Basics: What are waivers?

This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Essentially, waivers are a form of permission to make a specific transaction, granted to the requesting club by the other 29 clubs. Though the term most often used is simply "waivers", there are 4 different types of waivers: unconditional release waivers, trade assignment waivers, optional assignment waivers, and outright assignment waivers.

Unconditional release waivers are required whenever a club wishes to release a player. They are irrevocable, and though claims can occur, the player being claimed always has the right to reject the claim and become a free agent.

Trade assignment waivers (a.k.a. August waivers) are required to trade a player after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are revocable, however they can only be withdrawn once per player per year. After that, they become irrevocable. If a claim is made, the team requesting the waivers has the option to a) pull the player back off waivers, b) work out a trade with the claiming team, or c) simply let the claiming team have the player (along with the remainder of the player's contract). Every August, trade assignment waivers are requested for many players, including many players that teams have no plans on moving. In addition to guaging interest or possibly unloading a contract, teams request August waivers to disguise their true intentions. If teams only requested waivers for players they were interested in moving, there would be far more claims made. By placing nearly everyone on waivers, it becomes harder for other teams to sniff out the truly available players to either block a rival's potential trade by placing a claim or smother the market for a player (since a claim limits the potentail trade partners to one team). Because every claim placed is also an offer to take on that player's entire remaining contract.

Optional assignment waivers are technically required to option a player to the minors if the player is more than 3 years removed from his initial MLB report date (i.e. the first time he was called up). They are also revocable, however they can only be withdrawn once per player per waiver period. I say they are “technically” required because I am not aware of any player that has ever been claimed in this manner, which is why you never hear about them. When DJ Carrasco was optioned to Buffalo in late April, the Mets had to obtain optional assignment waivers.

Most of the time (at least outside of the month of August), when people mention "waivers", they are referring to outright assignment waivers. Outright assignment waivers (or “outright waivers”) are irrevocable, and they are required whenever a team removes a player from its 40-man roster and wishes to send him to a minor league affiliate. For instance, outright waivers are necessary whenever a player who is out of options is sent to the minor leagues. Additionally, there are times when a player has options remaining, but still must clear outright waivers. For example, to make room on the 40-man roster for free agent acquisition Chris Young this offseason, the Mets removed Tobi Stoner from the 40-man roster. They then had to secure outright waivers in order to send him to Buffalo. This is commonly referred to as “going unclaimed”, “passing through waivers”, or “clearing waivers”.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Update: New Features Added

I've added a few resources to the site. They appear as tabs at the top of the site beneath the banner.

Options - Keeps track of which Mets have options and which do not, complete with a detailed breakdown of who can refuse assignments and whether the Mets are on the hook for their contract if they do.

DL Tracker - Keeps track of which Mets are on the DL, why they are there, and when they are eligible to return.

Arb & FA - Keeps track of arbitration and free agency eligibility.

Rule 5 - Keeps track of which Mets minor leaguers are available to be selected in this offseasons's Rule 5 draft.

Minor FA - Keeps track fo which Mets minor leaguers are eligible for minor league free agency after the season.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Basics: What is the 40-man roster?

The 40-man roster, or Major League reserve list, is the collection of all players who are currently signed to Major League contracts (with the exception of players on the 60-day DL or temporary inactive list). It includes players on the active roster, players on the 15-day DL, and players on optional assignment in the minors. Every transaction involving the active roster of the Major League club has to take into consideration the state of and effect on the 40-man roster. Players can be temporarily removed from the 40-man roster by being placed on the 60-day DL. Players are permanently removed from the 40-man roster when they are designated for assignment (or DFA'd), and can only be re-added if their contracts are once again purchased by the Major League club. Examining a team's 40-man roster can provide a good deal of insight into the team's overall roster flexibility (open spots, players with options, 60-day DL candidates, etc), as well as which specific players are most likely to be called up to the big leagues should a need arise.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Basics: Introduction

One of my main purposes for starting this blog is setting up a forum where people can discuss, debate, and learn about MLB transactions rules, and specifically how they affect the Mets. I became interested in the subject a few years ago when I could not find a website that listed which Mets had options remaining and which did not. In searching for that information, I discovered how little I actually knew about what options really were and how they worked. A little more digging, and I learned how little I knew about other transactions-relevant topics, like the 40-man roster, waivers, arbitration, the Rule 5 draft, service time, and many, many more. So, I resolved to learn about them. They're often complicated, but I feel like I have developed a pretty good grasp on a lot of them. And, perhaps more importantly, I've gotten much better at finding my own answers when a transaction question comes up that I don't know the answer to.

Anyway, I think it's appropriate to start this blog by putting together a series of posts on some of the basic transactions questions that I've had over the years. I'll start with a few of the more important topics, and then add more as new questions come up. After I've gotten the ball rolling, I'll begin taking a look at specifics of the Mets' various rosters, some of the moves they've made, what options they have for the future, and how all of it can be analyzed through a transactions lens.