New York Mets: Davey Lopes

Series preview: Mets at Phillies

April, 12, 2012

Howard Smith/US Presswire
The Mets face (l to r) Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels this weekend in Philly.
METS (4-2, second place/NL East) vs. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (3-3, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP R.A. Dickey (1-0, 3.00) vs. LHP Cliff Lee (0-0, 1.50), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (1-0, 4.50) vs. RHP Vance Worley (0-0, 1.50), 4:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 4.76) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (0-1, 5.06), 1:35 p.m. ET

Phillies short hops

• First baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley will remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. Howard was examined Tuesday by foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson in Baltimore. He developed an infection in the back of his left heel as the result of surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon. That prompted a Feb. 27 surgical procedure to address the infection. Utley has dealt with chronic knee pain and is rehabbing in Arizona.

The Phillies already have used four different first basemen in Howard’s absence -- Ty Wigginton (twice), John Mayberry Jr. (twice), Laynce Nix and Jim Thome. Thome’s start was his first at the position since June 13, 2007. Nix previously had started only six career games at first base. Rookie Freddy Galvis has started all six games at second base. Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 pick last season, who now is Phillies property, started seven games at second base last season, but has a broken right foot. Martinez suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Jim Johnson in a March 20 spring-training game.

Howard Smith/US Presswire
With Chase Utley out, rookie Freddy Galvis is manning second base for the Phillies.

Galvis, 22, became the first player to make his major league debut on Opening Day with the Phillies since shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman Denny Doyle in 1970. He exclusively played shortstop in the minors and shifted to second base during spring training. Galvis hit a combined .278 with eight homers and 43 RBIs last season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He went 0-for-12 to start this season, before doubling in his final at-bat Monday, against Miami’s Anibal Sanchez.

Nix, 31, signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract in December. He hit .250 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 324 at-bats with the Washington Nationals last season.

• The Phillies had a fortuitous break in not re-signing Ryan Madson, whose agent originally believed the sides had agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal. Philadelphia quickly regrouped and landed former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for four years, $50 million. Madson then signed with the Cincinnati Reds late on a deal that guaranteed $8.5 million for 2012. He will end up missing the season following Tommy John surgery. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro publicly stated there was never an agreement, while Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, said at the time: "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction."

Papelbon last season became the first pitcher to have 30-plus saves in each of his first six full major league seasons. He also became the fastest to 200 saves -- in his 359th appearance. Papelbon’s new entrance music, by the way: Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box."

• Shortstop Jimmy Rollins re-signed with the organization on Dec. 17 for three years, $33 million, plus a 2015 vesting option.

• Reliever Jose Contreras, who underwent elbow surgery in September, has started a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater. Contreras is expected to work consecutive minor league games Thursday and Friday, after which he could be activated from the disabled list.

• Former Met-killer Pat Burrell plans to sign a one-day minor league contract with the Phillies next month and officially retire with the organization. Burrell is fourth all time in homers in the uniform, with 251. He will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Philadelphia’s May 19 game against the Boston Red Sox.

(Read full post)

In-depth: Video over boots on ground

April, 12, 2011
Bob Johnson attended Monday’s Mets-Rockies game at Citi Field. But the former advance scout for the New York Mets was gathering information on his ex-employer. He was doing so on behalf of the Atlanta Braves, who now sign his paychecks.

Johnson’s replacement with the Mets? Technically, there is none.

Rather than have a dedicated scout watching upcoming Mets opponents on the road and collecting intelligence, the Mets have gone the high-tech route. Instead, baseball operations manager Adam Fisher dissects video and does computer analysis straight from a laptop without traveling to see the Mets’ upcoming opponents in person.

About half the teams in Major League Baseball have gone that route, eliminating the position of advance scout.

The advantages include less wasted time, since there’s no travel required, and obviously saved expenses.

The primary disadvantage: Just like with the CIA, there has to be some value in actual human intelligence in enemy territory.

“This year we decided to go the route of scouting off video,” assistant GM John Ricco said. “The main difference is you don’t have somebody live. There are advantages and disadvantages. We’re not the first club to go this way. This is something that a number of teams are doing around the league, and a couple of our guys had experience with it. Paul [DePodesta] did it, with Cleveland originally. It’s fairly common, probably about 50-50 [versus having an advance scout].”

Johnson bolted during the offseason, when incumbent scouts with the Mets were unsure about their futures as things transitioned to Sandy Alderson’s regime.

Would the Mets have gone this route anyway? Knowing their statistical orientation, you would imagine so, but Ricco noted: “Bob going there really gave us the opportunity to really look at it and say, ‘What do we want to do?’”

Studying hitters clearly can be done by video and stats, but things can be missed.

“They will miss little nagging injuries,” one advance scout told “Guy’s got a bad wrist, you can pound it in on him.” The person added that he even knows players’ marital issues that can affect performance. And, he suggested, the statistical and video analysis might underweight the opposing pitcher’s most recent performance, whereas he would have seen it in person.

You also cannot always discern defensive positioning unless you’re actually at the upcoming opponents’ games.

“Some of the things you can’t get are the things that are off-camera, obviously,” Ricco acknowledged. “That can be that maybe a guy comes out on deck and then he gets pulled back, to managerial tendencies that he might not see. So anything that’s off-camera is something you can’t get.”

Still, these days, so much is available statistically in terms of an opposing managers’ and batters’ tendencies, clearly teams feel the cost savings counteract any advantages of boots on the ground. And teams still have professional scouts assigned to watch organizations that can supplement the video and statistical data even minus a formal advance scout.

Fisher technically never has to leave his desk at Citi Field to prepare reports, although he was in Philly for last week’s series at Citizens Bank Park. He supplemented his report with face-to-face time with Mets coaches in a room off the visitors’ clubhouse.

Johnson would file a report, then be available to the manager via phone, because he was always one or two cities ahead of the Mets.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to each way,” Ricco said. “The advantages are the advance scout is not spending time at airports. And clearly there’s a cost savings there too. [Fisher] can sit in a single environment, transmitting all the reports. It makes things a lot easier communicating with the staff. We’ll decide on a series-by-series basis where it’s best to have him, but he came in and prepped the team [in Philly]. One of the advantages to this, too, is you can, if you want to, have the guy with the club and be face-to-face, whereas Bob always had to be at that next place. Fish can go catch up with the video wherever.

“One reason teams have been able to do this is because the video is now so good that you can get everything you need without a problem.”

Still, the advance scout isn’t sold on the technological approach.

“It depends if you want to win or not,” he said about having an advance scout. “Clubs that have it tend to win.”

FRIENDLY ENEMIES: Ike Davis had a question last week in Philly when he could not find a familiar face: What happened to Davey Lopes?

Lopes had been the Phillies’ first base coach in 2010. And given Davis and Lopes were side-by-side for nine innings for 18 games last year when the Mets were in the field, the two inevitably had their share of conversations.

“Every game before the game you shake their hands and say, ‘Good luck,’” Davis said about first-base coaches. “When you play against the Phillies or Washington -- everyone in the division you play so many times -- you end up kind of knowing the guy. Eventually you’ll have conversations with them. I ran out there expecting to see him, and he wasn’t there. You start talking to the guy, and usually everyone’s a pretty good guy. It’s fun to see the same faces all the time.”

Davis, it turns out, will have to wait until May 6 to reunite with Lopes. He’s now the first base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they visit Citi Field that weekend.

“It’s all about the game, unless it’s like, ‘Hey, tell your dad I said hi,’” Davis said about the dialogue, while alluding to his father, ex-Yankees pitcher Ron Davis. “Other than that it’s, ‘Hey good swing. Nice play.’ Or something like that.

“That’s another cool thing -- some say, ‘Hey, tell your dad I said hi.’ And maybe they’ll tell me a funny story about my dad or something like that.”

In-depth appears Tuesdays during the regular season



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187