10/25/14

Reese Kaplan - The Corner Has Been Turned

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I'm probably the King Curmudgeon here at Mack's Mets who is most often critical of things the Mets have done as an organization from business direction, roster composition, on-the-field management and decisions.  However, most will acknowledge that perhaps despite some of these issues the club has turned a corner and is finally headed in the right direction.  Maybe it's the Chopin dirty martini I had with dinner, but let's take a look at some of what should make us optimistic for the future.

Starting Pitching

Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Rafael Montero are the present.  Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Matt Bowman are the near future.  That's ten quality starting pitchers for five slots on the big league club.  Some are courtesy of the Omar Minaya and others came during the Sandy Alderson regime.  The fact is the team is flush with perhaps more pitching riches than any other organization.

Bullpen

How many years did Mets fans shake their heads in disgust and wonder aloud when the implosion would happen when the relief pitchers entered the game.  Now the team has a pen comprised of Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Bobby Parnell, ``and Josh Edgin, all of whom have had major league success under the age of 30.  Carlos Torres is the old man of the group at 31.  Several throw impressively hard and can get a key strikeout when one is needed.

Lucas Duda

Very few people could have predicted the breakout year the big man delivered once Ike Davis was sent packing.  Yes, he needs to improve against lefties.  Yes, he could be a better fielder.  However, he delivered HR and RBI production in the upper eschelon of the league at bottom 10% cost.

Juan Lagares

One of the joys of the late 1970s Mets team was watching Doug Flynn field at 2B.  Then came the acrobatic exploits of Rey Ordonez at SS.  Neither hold a candle to the running, diving, jumping and throwing showcase he performs on a nightly basis.  Oh yeah...he can hit the ball and run the bases, too.

David Wright

We've all seen what the man can do when he's healthy and the changes in the ballpark dimensions should help with his right center field power stroke.  Hopefully a winter to heal will allow him to return to his All-Star form.

Travis d'Arnaud

Upon his return to the majors he demonstrated the power everyone had read about in all the scouting reports.  He was a solid contributor with a bat in his hands, though his injury probably impacted his throwing.  Hopefully, like David Wright, the time off will help immensely.

Wilmer Flores

The longer he played, the more impressive he looked at the plate.  By the end of the season he was one of the batters seldom expected to strike out and his power was evident in both HRs and doubles.  His fielding will probably always be a work in progress, but everyone should be salivating to see what he could deliver with 550 ABs.

Curtis Granderson

Yes, he started off by looking like a latter day Jason Bay, but he rebounded enough to suggest there were some adjustments to the new league.  He's streaky but did represent a power threat.  With both closer RF fences and his favorite hitting coach in the fold, a good year from Granderson should be forthcoming.

Payroll Flexibility

While everyone was frustrated to see how the Mets handled the July trading deadline, the fact remains that with Chris Young gone, Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon likely on their way out the door, and pitchers Dillon Gee and Jon Niese on the hot seat, there's a strong possibility there would be some money available to address other needs such as whichever corner outfield position not played by Curtis Granderson.

Dilson Herrera

While his skills may still be raw, in his short big league trial he showed that his power was very much for real.  He'll likely get at least half a season in AAA before making his way to Queens, but it appears that he and Vic Black were quite a coup for less than half year rentals of Marlon Byrd and John Buck.
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Morning Report – October 25 - LJ Mazzilli, Addison Russell, Daniel Murphy, Josh Bell

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I’m very impressed with the return Brandon Nimmo is bringing to the Winter League tables, but the real pleasant surprise here is LJ Mazzilli, someone most or all of us have basically just thrown to the back of the heap when it comes to possibly winding up in Queens someday as a middle infielder.

I simply never took this pick serious. He plays four years in college and is a son of a Mets legend. Frankly I thought they went a little over bard with a 4th round pick when they probably could have waited and got him in the 8th or 9th.

He had four solid years at the University of Connecticut (2010: .312, 2011: .346, 2012: .339, 2013:.354) He signed right after the draft and went right on to Brooklyn where he hit .278 in 273 more at-bats.

But it just keeps getting better.

2014 first brought .292 in Savannah (250-AB), followed by .312 in St. Lucie (250 more at bats).

And now, he’s holding his own in the AWL with a stat line of:

He has two goals in the Arizona League this winter… work on his adjusted approach at the plate (that seems to be working) and becoming a better defensive second baseman.

So, when we throw names out here, like Daniel Murphy and Dilson Herrera, we may not want to forget this guy. God knows he has the bloodline.


Rotoworld http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/mlb/49399/3/almost-ready-afl-prospects) had a feature on the five top AFL players and one was SS Addison Russell. Part of what they said was:

The right-handed hitter’s combination of plus bat speed and a deep point of contact should generate upwards of 20 home runs at the highest level, possibly more depending on his physical development in the coming years. And given his ability to use the entire field, Russell should always tally a high number of doubles and triples.

Overall, Russell has the makings of an All-Star-caliber shortstop, but there’s still a sizable gap between his present ability and overall potential. He should be ready to make an impact in major leagues at some point next season, though the Cubs first will have to determine where he’ll play given their impressive depth up the middle.

Mack – Another outstanding blurb on Russell who, as long as Starlin Castro is on this roster, is excess talent. Folks, we all have opinions here, but I’d rather have the monster I know. Castro is already a major league player, he’s young, he’s a former all-star, and is coming off a great year. He also improved greatly defensively in 2014. Lastly, his contract is livable ($6.859mil-2015, $7.857mil-2016, $9.857mil- 2017, $10.857mil-2018, $11.857mil-2019, club option-20120) and I’m now done with worrying about this position until next decade.

In my opinion, let the Cubs figure out who should be their next shortstop.

I’ll take the guy who has already proved his value.

What would it take to get him? Well, I’m not giving up my top three starters, so my guess it would take a three player deal that would include the likes of Rafael Montero AND Kevin Plawecki.

As I’ve said before, I change daily on all this corner outfield and shortstop stuff, but, right now, my order would be Castro, Wilmer Flores, Owings, Russell, and then the rest.


 Karl de Vries wrote a piece on Daniel Murphy (http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/daniel-murphy-underwhelming-or-underappreciated/) called: “Daniel Murphy: Underwhelming orUnderappreciated?” He includes what he calls Murphy’s ‘steady ways at the dish:

YEAR   PA  BB%    K%    AVG  OBP   SLG   wOBA wRC+  BABIP

2013    697   4.6    13.6   .286   .319   .415   .320      107      .315

2014    642   6.1     13.4   .289   .332   .403   .324     110       .322

His conclusion:

And that’s basically the running theme of the Daniel Murphy fantasy story, a career .290 hitter over more than 3,000 plate appearances who isn’t a burden to owners in any particular category and is a solid contributor across the board. Having averaged 153 games played over the past three seasons, he’s a solid bet to stay on the field, and should the Mets trade him over the offseason to a team with a more competent lineup, it’s possible his value could increase even more.

It was asking a lot for Murphy to replicate his elite output from last year, but on the flip side, it was another solid, top-10 performance from a guy who can be counted on to deliver as advertised, year-in and year-out. The reward might not be breathtaking, but then again, neither will the price tag come draft day, and there’s plenty to appreciate about Murphy’s consistency, especially when it’s accompanied by such established upside.


Mack – Sometimes I think that the majority of baseball minds laugh themselves to sleep every night by thinking about how Sandy Alderson, in particular, and the Mets, in general, run this team. Is that that hard to recognize someone with talent, especially when they are surrounded by so many that don’t possess the same level?



We keep coming back to the same teams in our quest to find a better shortstop and corner outfielder. Here we go back out to Western Pennsylvania, the new home for ex-New York Met Ike Davis.

Fangraphs (http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/a-minor-league-review-of-2014-cardinals-pirates-brewers/) had some nice things to say about one of the corner outfield rising stars that the Pirates simply don’t have any place to play in the future:

Josh Bell, OF: Bell hit just nine home runs in 108 games in 2014 but he showed significant advancements as a hitter. He hit .325 on the season and struck out less than 12% of the time. The power will come as he continues to make adjustments and taps into his raw pop. With the Pirates’ outfield set with Andrew McCutchen ($51.5mil contract through 2017 + team option in 2018) Starling Marte,($31mil contract through 2018+ team option 2019) and super-prospect Gregory Polanco, Bell may see time at first base but he could be a solid right-fielder. He might be ready for the Majors in the second half of 2015.

You owe players like Bell the opportunity to play the game they were born to play as a starter and at the position he was put on earth to play. Travis Snider is perfectly capable of holding down the OF-4 slot

If he’s not good enough, that’s fine. The Mets have a list they can pick from as a throw in for the services of either Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, or Rafael Montero.


Put Bell next to Brandon Nimmo on the plane to Vegas and let them get off at Gate 3 at LaGuardia at the end of June.

 We can wait a half of season for this.
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10/24/14

Ernest Dove - More Important: Matt Harvey's Elbow or David Wright's Shoulder?

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  We've often heard the phrase 'out of sight, out of mind'.  Well, in the cases of Matt Harvey and David Wright, neither was forgotten at any point during the 2014 season, whether they were playing or not.

  And so, rather than continue in the onslaught of questions marks which fly over the heads of the Mets overall infield, outfield, bullpen, coaching staff and GM position, I figured I would instead play a little game of what would you rather.

  Matt Harvey, who started an almost cult like Following from the day he stepped onto a major league mound, has still only logged 36 actual major league starts.  His two years on the mound ended up being for two losing teams.  He is also obviously coming off of a major surgery. And his team, despite another losing season in his absence, still happen to have a pretty decent 5 man rotation.  Unless involved in a 'Blockbuster' trade, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom will be in a Mets uniform next year.  Bartolo Colon is under contract for another season. Jon Niese .......... well he's the only lefty that's major league ready.  And Dillon Gee, no matter the arbitration case, can even be affordable for the Wilpon's. So, we are already looking at an extra arm as it is.  Plus, The Mets already now have other top pitching prospects ready for their turn, in Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.  However, the word 'Day' at the end of their names during each start was really in homage to the man with the confidence, attitude and work ethic that made everyone actually happy to be a Mets fan, at least every 5 days, in Matt Harvey.

  So, how important is it that Matt Harvey come back, and come back strong for this team, this organization, and its die hard fans?  We all know that Matt Harvey wants to pitch.  Heck, if it was up to him, he would have already pitched in a major league game this past August, or at least in September.  However, the Mets played it safe, and now Harvey will coming off that extra rest.  What will this mean for the team, and for Harvey.  In regards to rehab and time, everything is fine.  In regards to confidence and readiness, again we all know Harvey can answer that for you right now.  So, how badly do the Mets need that right elbow of his to hold up?

  The other body part belongs to the face of the franchise. The guy who will play with anything, broken backs, and now shoulder issues.  David Wright certainly was not David Wright last year.  However, David Wright is most certainly continuing to make David Wright money, and will continue to do so until the day he retires, and goes down as one of the top Mets in history, if not the greatest Met in history (start the arguments now).

  One is the potential ace of the staff for the next 10+ years (again, start the bailing to Yankees for the money jokes now).  The other is the franchise player and #3 hitter, who is counted on to hit over .300, and deliver double digit homers and triple digit RBI's to help this team become a contender. 

  I guess its a debate that can rage on forever, with plenty of counter points.  The Mets are now full of pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.  However, the Mets are also starving for hitting and consistency at the plate from its overall offense.

  One might never make it back to what he was........... and, well, technically, this sentence can go for either guy at this point.

  What is your take.  What do we need more:  Harvey's elbow to produce at least 175 solid innings of top notch pitching, or David Wright's shoulder to contribute to .300 BA, 20+ homers (you know, the whole bring in the fencing thing), and continue the leadership on the field playing, and not sitting on the sidelines.

  Matt Harvey, and his elbow, can someday win a CY Young.  David Wright , and his shoulder, and back, and whatever else he fights through, can one day produce a Hall of Famer.

  What it currently more important for this franchise, at least for 2015, and then beyond.

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John Hart

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I was not happy when I went online and found out that the Atlanta Braves had announced that they had signed John Hart to a three-year contract as President of Baseball Operation. Before coming to Atlanta, he was the General Manager of, first, Cleveland, and then, Texas.

Hart is no slouch and it’s hard to predict how he will begin the rebuilding of the Braves. He’s been associated with them since the end of the 2013 season as a special assistant to the Braves owner, so you have to assume he’s up to speed with what’s needed in Atlanta.

(remember.. he already is responsible for negotiating long term contracts for Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, and Julio Teheran)

You also have to assume he has the power to get things done here. The 2014 Braves had some serious production problems, especially B.J. Upton (.208). who has three years left on his contract ($15.05mil-2015, $16.05mil-2016, $17.05mil-2017).

In addition, will Hart try to move RF Jason Heyward after a sub-par season (11-HR, .271). Heyward has one year left on his contract.
I’m sure Hart could find a home for Heyward, if he wants to, but he’s stuck with the Upton deal. Better him than Alderson.

Is there a chance for a Mets-Braves deal this off-season? I don’t think so, but anything can happen, right?

And where will Hart look to build? Well, a statement he made at his press conference says a lot:

"I think trade is the last piece you want to look at if you can't find what you're looking for in Free Agency"

Hart is going to have to rebuild the affiliates as well. Christian Bethancourt looks to take over the full time catcher role coming out of spring training, but then things get a little fuzzy for Hart.


Look for the Mets to overtake the Braves in 2015… probably also 2016… but then the Hart effect could kick in.
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2014 Winter Leagues: 10/23/2014 Results

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Arizona Fall League
- Glendale Desert Dogs 2 - 1 Peoria Javelinas
- Surprise Saguaros 3 - 5 Salt River Rafters
- Scottsdale Scorpions 3 - 7 Mesa Solar Sox 
  • SS Matt Reynolds: 2 for 5, R, HR, RBI
  • 2B L.J. Mazzilli: 2 for 4, K
  • RHP Robert Whalen: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Paul Sewald: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, BB, 2 K

Venezuelan Winter League
- Tiburones de La Guaira 1 - 0 Aguilas del Zulia
- Bravos de Margarita 5 - 8 Leones de Caracas
  • SS Wilfredo Tovar: 2 for 5, 2 2B, 2 R, Error (1st)
  • RHP Miguel Socolovich: 1.0 IP, 3 K, Hold (2nd)
- Cardenales de Lara 5 - 11 Tigres de Aragua
  • 2B Leon Canelon: 0 for 1
- Navegantes del Magallanes 2 - 4 Caribes de Anzoategui
  • LF/1B Brandon Allen: 0 for 3, BB, K

Mexican Pacific League
- Yaquis de Obregon 5 - 5 Venados de Mazatlan
- Naranjeros de Hermosillo 5 - 0 Caneros de los Mochis
  • LF Brian Burgamy: 2 for 4, K
- Charros de Jalisco 4 - 5 Mayos de Navojoa
  • LF Cory Vaughn: 1 for 3, BB
- Tomateros de Culiacan 8 - 9 Aguilas de Mexicali
  • C Xorge Carrillo: 2 for 5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI

Dominican Winter League
- Leones del Escogido 5 - 13 Gigantes del Cibao
  • RHP Rainy Lara: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 K
(Roster Movements: RHP Rainy Lara has been added to Leones del Escogido, RHP Gonzalez Germen has been added to Toros del Este, Darwin Frias has been added to Aguilas Cibaenas)


Roberto Clemente Puerto Rico League

(Begins 10/30/2014)
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Morning Report – October 24 – Who Are The "Real" Mets Prospects, Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia, Carlos Torres

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We talk all the time about Mets ‘prospects’ and the players in the organization that are true gems in a sport that is dominated with talented, but mostly non-major league projectable ball players.

Every team drafts 50 players a year. Additionally, they sign at least 25 more as part of the UDFA program. All of this is designed to fill the eight or nine minor league teams each organization puts on the field each year.

We’re talking 600-675 ballplayers and we haven’t even signed a free agent yet, and yet, all each team is trying to do is fill in a 25-man professional squad.

So, how many ‘prospects’ are a team supposed to have in their system? Is there a magic number that tells someone that they may have too much talent?

I’m pretty tough on grading the talent in the system. I’d like to error of the safe side and let players like Jacob deGrom and Juan Legares prove me wrong.

Right now, I see 14 players that I project (based on their ceiling, scouting reports, and results at their last level vs. similar talent level players) will make it all the way to the Mets as part of a future 25-man squad.

They, and their ETA year, would be:

            2015 – SP Noah Syndergaard
                          C Kevin Plawecki  

2016 – SP Steven Matz
            2B Dilson Herrera
            OF Brandon Nimmo

2017 – OF Michael Conforto

2018 – SP Robert Whalen
            1B Dominic Smith
             Closer - Akeel Morris

2019 – SP Marcus Molina
            SS Amed Rosario
            3B Jhoan Urena
            OF Wuilmer Beccera
            OF Vincente Lupo

Is this enough? Well. You always like to see at least two players per position projected as future major leaguers, but this isn’t a bad looking list.

It also is very conservative, both on the ETA dates and players that could easily gear it up and make the grade some day (examples: Matt Reynolds, Cesar Puello, Michael Fulmer, Paul Sewald, LJ Mazzilli, etc.) Many of the players listed could easily be called up after the prior year’s all-start break or in September when the rosters expand.

Most vulnerable position… relief pitching, where only Morris is projected as a future major leaguer.



Everybody is going to start grading Mets players this time of the year who we’ll use the ones on this site and add some thoughts:


Jacob deGrom, starter  -  Speaking of deGrom, the rookie came out of nowhere to steal the attention of more highly touted prospects, like Wheeler and Rafael Montero. And there’s no question he looks very good. He’ll need to repeat his success in 2015, but he should win Rookie of the Year in 2014 and he earned it with a team-leading 2.69 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  Grade: A  http://www.metro.us/newyork/sports/mlb/2014/09/30/mets-2014-report-card/


Jacob deGrom. The rookie right-hander went from unheralded reliever-to-be to frontrunner for NL rookie of the year and among the best pitchers in baseball over the second half. Quite a fast rise. DeGrom also gives the Mets an even more fearsome rotation for next season, headed by Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and deGrom. With Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz also in the minors, the Mets have a handful of talented and young starters who will be under team control for a while. That's a great place to be. http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2014/10/mets_7_best_things_about_their_2014_season.html


The Graduate: Jake DeGrom, RHP: When I ranked DeGrom as the seventh-best prospect in the system at the beginning of 2014, I certainly didn’t expect him to pitch quite as well as he did at the big league level. The right-hander saw his command take a huge step forward — especially with his fastball and his four-pitch mix kept hitters off balance. http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/a-minor-league-review-of-2014-marlins-mets-nationals/

        Mack - Three more examples of positive press on the rookie. It's amazing how quick this guy past Zack Wheeler as prime beef in the league.



Jenrry Mejia - After successfully moving into the closer's role in 2014, Mejia is obviously a keeper for 2015. He did pitch with a hernia down the stretch, but he survived the season without any arm problems and pitching in short outings seems to suit him. There's a chance the Mets use Mejia as a trade chip this offseason, but if not he'll be a key part of the bullpen, even if he doesn't remain in the closer's role. http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2014/10/10/determining-fate-for-each-member-of-new-york-mets-bullpen-in-2015/#slide_25


Mack – I applaud Mejia for everything he did in 2014 but my prediction in nothing but bad water for him in 2015. First, I’m ‘old school’ and you always give the closer role back to the guy that lost it due to major surgery. That means Bobby Parnell would take over the role which could really hurt Mejia’s very emotional approach to this game. Secondly, I truly believe that, if Parnell stumbled, the job would be passed on to Jeurys Famila who, in my and many other ‘pundits’ books, would make for a much better, more controlled closer. For both these reasons I would hope that Sandy Alderson try to find Mejia a home on another team that won’t come back and hurt us. I’m thinking Arizona as part of a package for one of those shortstops.



Carlos Torres - Until the day his arm falls off, the Mets should keep Torres around. He has been an invaluable workhorse in the bullpen over the past two seasons. In 2014, he was second in appearances and had the most innings pitched of any non-starter, including Jenrry Mejia, who made seven starts this year. With his versatility and his rubber arm, there's no doubt there will be a spot for Torres in the Mets' bullpen in 2015. http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2014/10/10/determining-fate-for-each-member-of-new-york-mets-bullpen-in-2015/#slide_25


Mack – I haven’t mentally signed off on Torres yet for 2015. Sure, he’s done a lot for the Mets in the past, but I’m not sure if there is anything left in the tank here.


And lastly...



I have a post coming up at noon about the Atlanta Braves’ John Hart, but one thing in advance.

As many of you know, he has been instrumental in getting some of the Braves younger stars to sign a long term extension, replacing the time they would have had to be renegotiated each year during arbitration.


A good question to throw out here this morning would be what current Mets should be renegotiated a la the way Jonathan Niese was in the past?

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INJURY UPDATE - OF - Michael Conforto

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I talked with someone that was present for the Mets Instructs that have gone on since the season ended and he said that Mets prospect OF, Michael Conforto, had some back issues during the last two weeks he played there. 

I have only one source on this. 
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10/23/14

Mets Hire Kevin Long as Pitching Coach

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Kevin Long is switching boroughs, but remaining in New York City.
Shortly after being fired as hitting coach with the Yankees, the Mets have hired Long for the same role.
"Kevin's experience, success and wealth of knowledge make him the perfect fit as our hitting instructor," general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement on Thursday. "This is a very positive step for the Mets. We welcome Kevin and his wife Marcey to the Mets family."
Said Long: "I'm excited to get the opportunity to work with a team that I think is on the rise. I had a great meeting with Sandy and [manager] Terry [Collins] yesterday and I can't wait to get started and help in any way I can."
Long, 47, had served as Yankees hitting coach for eight seasons.
He succeeds Lamar Johnson, who will return to a role in the minor leagues. Johnson had been promoted in May with the firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
Hudgens since has been hired by the Houston Astros as hitting coach.
The Mets also announced the promotion of Dustin Clarke from Triple-A Las Vegas to serve as strength and conditioning coach.
http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/11751883/new-york-mets-hire-former-new-york-yankees-hitting-coach-kevin-long-same-role?src=mobile&rand=ref~%7B%22ref%22%3A%22http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2F4Gtqndx0mT%22%7D
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UPDATE - OF - Michael Cuddyer

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Michael Cuddyer | Outfielder

Team: Colorado Rockies
Age / DOB:  (35) / 3/27/1979
Ht / Wt:  6'2' / 221
Bats / Throws: Right / Right
Contract: view contract details
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According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets have "concrete" interest in impending free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer.
Martino hears from "people familiar with the Mets' thinking" that the team would like to sign Cuddyer to a two-year deal this winter to provide power to their lineup and veteran presence to their clubhouse. The 35-year-old batted .332/.376/.579 in an injury-shortened 2014 for the Rockies. He posted a .919 OPS, 20 home runs, and 84 RBI across 130 games with Colorado in 2013. Oct 23 - 1:06 PM
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