It's Official, Kaz Man Sucks?

Costello: What's the guy's name on first base?

Abbott: No. What is on second.

Costello: I'm not asking you who's on second.

Abbott: Who's on first.

Costello: I don't know.

Abbott: He's on third, we're not talking about him.

From Who's On First?

Well we certainly know who is on first by now, unlike last season but just like last season, second is still a question mark.

In a review of weaknesses, SI's Jacob Luft paints the Kaz Man a new arsehole. Well, sort of. He appears to rely heavily on David Pinto's cabbalistic syrup for justification.

"For perhaps the best measure of how poor he has been on defense, check out where Matsui ranks on David Pinto's 2005 Probabilistic Model of Range for second basemen. (It's worth taking the time to understand Pinto's metric. It's the best way of evaluating defense that is freely available.) Taking into account groundballs only, Matsui's efficiency rating of 0.00599 ranks well near the bottom of the list, behind two guys not known for their fielding prowess -- Todd Walker (-0.00456) and Mark Bellhorn (-0.00473)."

Allow me please to go on record as saying I'm no fan of this kind of valuation hocus-pocus. In fact, I think it's harmful. Rather than crunch numbers and try to imagine fantastic new formulas to rate models and create measurable continuity on probability scales or lack thereof, I'd much rather watch such players on a daily basis, assess with mine own eyes what to think of a particular player, what he does in a particular situation. I don't need David Pinto's particular brand of dehumanising statistical knotheading to figure out that the Kaz Man was been a crap second baseman last season.

He played out of position and was hurt all season - where is this mentioned? The more bashing of the Kaz Man I read, the more I'm beginning to feel like 2006 is the year he's going to smash those probabilistic models and all those scientific little mice counter theories with a fantastic season, both at the plate and with the glove.

Anderson Hernandez may be rightly regarded as the gloved saviour in succession but he didn't look too overwhelming in his late season at-bats last season, hitting .056. What is the Amazing Pinto Factor Probability Scale on that? Potentially, the Kaz Man is far better suited to play a steady role on a pennant winning Mets team given his experience and his familiarity, not unlike the team itself, with needing to overcome adversity this season. Until he proves that this season will resemble the last, I'm sticking with him, rooting for the Kaz Man, not wither away in the cold, harsh analysis of Pinto-ites.

Of course, now that Bret Boone has retired, the competition has already thinned significantly.

And just think, if the Kaz Man hits near potential, he might actually properly fill that second spot in the lineup and end all the speculation on both fronts.


Intrasquad News

Some surprises:

1. Reyes walking twice (a bigger comment on the quality of Met pitching or Reyes' new patience at the plate?) Well, one at-bat in particular against Heilman was well encouraging and included a patience-laden, foul ball heavy session that eventually landed the walk. Very encouraging indeed. The more Reyes gets on base, clearly, the more dangerous and exciting the Mets are going to be.

2. David Wright, batting second. Obviously, not much can be read into things going on in the first intrasquad game of the season where experimentation is the key to attempting to sort out what will work once the real season starts, but it IS an intriguing possibility. Personally I'd rather see him hit lower in the order where he might have more impact impact but if not, just think of how many games can start 2-0 in the Mets half of the inning and how many two-run homers Wright could hit and how many fewer stolen bases Reyes will have in this scenario.

3. Starting in right field, Victor Diaz, not X Nady. Like the above slotting of Wright as the number two hitter, not too much can be read into this. But let's face it, if Nady can't win the spot outright in this allegedly free competition, the Cameron trade will be confirmed as little more than a salary dump.

4. Woman spectator hit in the stands by Reyes' bat flying out of his hands, not an errant Victor Zambrano pitch sailing in the upper backstands. Not only that, but Zambrano managed to throw two scoreless innings. We're not in Kansas any more, Toto.

Another thing not to read too much into was Pedro's most recently encouraging news tossing from the mound despite deploying his "violent" toe-to-rubber movement. Obviously, Pedro's health will be the story of the season so if you're bored with this kind of news already, take a deep breath, it's going to be a long season, either way.

Not exactly Richter Scale revelations, Billy Wagner, much to everyone's relief, announced he's skipping the World Injury Classic.

Just like we feel about Pedro's participation, we'd like to see an ageing arm saved for maximum units for the home team who pays him rather than wanking out potentially damaging pitches for some second-rate international baseball tournament. Every pitch is precious this season for key starters and relievers and the less energy wasted on such a fool's errand, the better.

Perhaps even more of a relief, Koo Dae-sung, Mr Koo-Koo-Kachoog himself and his 8.54 ERA against righties have returned to Korea sounding a wee bit bitter for the experience.

“MLB is different from the Korean league. Your salary kind of determines how much you can play in the team, so sometimes you play really well and have to go to the minors to give way to the less-performing but higher-paid. It’s one of the reasons for my comeback to Korea because I wanted to play more,” he fondly whinged.

However, how can we ever forget his infamous double off Randy Johnson in the Subway Series?

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