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Mike Cameron or Victor Diaz?

When Mike Cameron returns from his wrist injury and rehabilitation, it will be time for manager Willie Randolph to make some important decisions. Cliff Floyd is healthy (at the moment) and hitting the ball well, Victor Diaz is sporting an impressive line (and showing plate patience, which he never used to seem to have) and that Carlos Beltran guy in centerfield. How do you mix in at-bats for Floyd, Cameron, and Diaz? Normally the answer would be simple, as Floyd would get hurt and open the doors for someone much less talented than Diaz in the outfield. If Floyd does manage to stay healthy though (which I assume will happen since the Mets now have an influx of talented outfielders rather than a shortage) and Cameron is the one getting paid to play right field, than where does Diaz fit in? Diaz and Cameron are both right handed hitters by the way, so no platoon between the two. Let's compare Floyd and Diaz's 2004's, their 2005 seasons and Mike Cameron's PECOTA projection and 2004 stats:

Cliff Floyd 2004

Victor Diaz 2004
Norfolk (AAA): .292/.332/.491; Major League Equivalent: .280/.322/.468
NYM (MLB): .294/.321/.529

Mike Cameron 2004

Based on the 2004 numbers, I'd rather have Floyd and Victor Diaz. Cameron was healthier than Floyd, but his defense in centerfield dropped from excellent (14 FRAA) to slightly above average at 5 FRAA. Now right field, where Cameron would play in 2005, is more of a hitter's position than centerfield, and thus Cameron would have to increase his performance even more in order to compensate. Not to mention his defense is not as valuable in right as it may be in center. Let's look at those 2005 numbers:

Floyd: .366/.438/.634
Diaz: .292/.432/.538
Cameron (PECOTA): .250/.342/.457

Cameron is once again the odd man out. Some notes: Floyd is hitting for power but much of his value is tied up in his batting average now. He has a batting average close to 70 points higher than Diaz's, but with an OBP only 6 points higher. Look for Floyd to fall down to a .295/.370/.570 level at his best, which of course, is excellent. Diaz seems to be wowing everyone, and now that he has plate patience (if it lasts) then he is the most valuable of these three, especially considering his age and progressive abilities.

At the moment, Diaz has a BB/PA ratio of .185, as compared to his 2004 minor league walk BB/PA of .055 or even his major league debut of .020 in 53 PA (one walk). This shows some promise, considering with 15 BB's he is almost halfway to his 2004 total of 32. He's also 23 years old and inexpensive.

Cameron on the other hand is the inverse at 32 years old, expensive, and not even playing the position where his value would be the highest. Just to see the value of these three players expressed prior to their 2005 season, let's take a look at their projected MLVr:

Floyd: .089 MLVr
Diaz: -0.43 MLVR
Cameron: .012 MLVr

Diaz of course has already begun to outperform his 50th percentile projection by wide margin. His 90th percentile rate is what we will focus on now (line of .303/.356/.514): The 90th percentile MLVr for Diaz is .158, or better than Cameron's established level of play. Cameron's MLVr scores for the past three years:

  1. .037
  2. .025
  3. .039
Granted Seattle probably suppressed his numbers somewhat, but when brought to Shea they only improved slightly. Basically I'm so confident he will not reach his 90th percentile projection of .293/.392/.534 that I will wear a Yankees hat for the 2006 season if he comes close. His 90th percentile projection is greater than Diaz's, but his chances of reaching it are much less, especially considering Diaz seems to have finally established some plate patience (if it is for real that is), which will make his outperforming the high-end projection easy if given the playing time. And therein lies the issue at hand, which should and hopefully will be solved quickly by allowing Cameron to play and then trading him once he shows he has some value to fill some holes the Mets have. The first two months are to see what you have, the next two months are to get what you need, and the last two months are to play with that team...the Mets will have to follow Beane's philosophy in those regards if they hope to do more than be a contender for the NL East Crown.