8/24/16

DOM SMITH SURGE

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DOM SMITH SURGE by Tom Brennan


Before I start today's article, my last article asked a question: is Rob Gsellman the right choice to call up?


Answer?  Yes, yes, yes, as he bailed gimpy Jon Niese out of a severe mess in a must-win game.


Now, taking a sneak peek at the future, let's gaze upon one Dominic Smith, laboring in AA.


Simply put, Dude is smoking: in August, through Aug. 23, he has in 20 games gone .413/.483/.613.  Whoosh!


After a sluggish pace early in the season that had him sitting at .259 in late June, he has revved the sucker up in July and August - in 45 games, .366 with just 23 Ks but with a solid 22 walks, and 11 doubles, 7 homers and a sweet 34 RBIs, boosting him to 85 in 114 games.


He turns 22 next mid-June - maybe he turns starting major league first baseman about the same time.  Why not?


Let me muse about a few more higher level bat guys:


Phil Evans, as I noted recently, has astonished folks in AA this year - over 83 games, the 23 year old 3B has hit .333/.371/.490, and has a versatile glove that allows him to man SS, 2B and 3B.  He is a chip or a future utility guy, it appears.


 Amed Rosario has cooled of late, after being sidelined for a bit with a hammy.  But the 20 year old slick SS and future star still rocks at .316/.366/.458 for the year.  Would still like to see more homers than the 5 he has hit, but 12 triples offset that deficit.


Looking to AAA, a more likely (if not traded) early season Met in 2017 is Gavin Cecchini.  GC has hit .314 in Vegas this year at SS, with a .382 OBP.    His average and splits are nearly identical to those he put up in 2015 in Binghamton.  His two flaws are a low-side power profile and a proclivity to making errors at SS.  33 errors in 95 games sounds abysmal, but he actually has improved much over his last nearly 40 games, with just 6 errors, so an apparently solidifying defensive game makes him a 2017 Mets candidate.


Brandon Nimmo has proven he can hold his own on a big league field, although his lack of extra base hits while with the Mets for a few weeks is disconcerting.  But Nimmo has had his break out year in Vegas, hitting nearly .375 over his last 70 games.  He still lacks homer thunder, with just 9 in nearly 400 AAA plate appearances, but progress is progress.  .375 over that stretch is major progress. If not traded, he should be a Mets' outfield reserve in 2017.


Michael Conforto - I am convinced we are seeing nothing more than a Soph Jinx.  In Vegas, over 27 games, he is hitting a ridiculous .413/.474/.731.  Hopefully he gives the Mets a surge in September.


So there is near-term hope in several minor league bats, as evidenced above.
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Reese Kaplan -- What a Long Strange Trip (to the DL) It’s Been

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Opening Day is always full of promise and fresh off their first World Series appearance in more than a dozen years, optimism among Mets fans was riding an all-time high.  Going into the season the club looked impressive indeed.

At 1B you had the 30 HR power of Lucas Duda, a flawed but productive force in the middle of the lineup.

At 2B you had the newly acquired Neil Walker who could provide some power, some defense and rid the club of the contract of disgruntled Jon Niese.

At SS you had the free agent acquisition, Asdrubal Cabrera.  While he’s never quite been able to repeat the All-Star caliber performance from a few years ago, he would solidify the middle infield defense and provide some power.

At 3B you had the Captain, David Wright, perennial All Star and once named the face of major league baseball.

Behind the plate you had Travis d’Arnaud, fresh off a campaign in which he was showing what he was capable of doing with 12 Hrs and 41 RBIs in less than a half season’s worth of Abs.

In LF last year’s top offensive Mets rookie, Michael Conforto, had some drawing wild praise for his potential, some scribes even going as far as to proclaim him the next Bryce Harper.  I was a bit more circumspect, suggesting if he turned into the next Kevin McReynolds the Mets would have a left fielder for the next decade.

In CF was the last minute return of the 2015 team MVP, Yoenis Cespedes.  His presence in the lineup was going to provide the right handed complement to protect Lucas Duda.

In RF you had the rejuvenated Curtis Granderson who quieted nearly all of his critics with a fine 2015 season in which he showed power and on-base abiility.

On the bench you had the surprisingly productive Wilmer Flores, veteran newcomer Alejandro De Aza, Gold Glover Juan Lagares, backup catcher Kevin Plawecki and AAAA hitter Eric Campbell.

In the starting rotation you had the formidable five – Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergaard, Steve Matz and the ageless Bartolo Colon.

In the bullpen you had closer Jeurys Familia backed up by Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, newcomer Antonio Bastardo, Hansel Robles, reclamation project Jim Henderson and  soft tossing Logan Verrett.

Well, the injury and incompetence woes hit the club with a vengeance and it’s almost unfathomable to see what’s become of that promising start.

The Walking Dead

  • Lucas Duda – cracked bones in his back don’t heal overnight, yet the club didn’t make a long term plan until inking journeyman James Loney out of the AAA outpost in El Paso
  • David Wright – perhaps Sandy Alderson’s greatest failing as a GM, it was clear that a Plan B was needed and when Wright’s neck flared shutting him down for the season the Mets were once again left exposed with the likes of Campbell, Kelly Johnson, Ty Kelly, Matt Reynolds and others given a shot at the hot corner until disgraced former All Star Jose Reyes was brought in on the cheap
  • Juan Lagares – As too often happens in Queens, they downplayed an injury into something more severe.  Now it appears he’s gone for the year as well
  • Matt Harvey – anyone could see he wasn’t right, but the club kept trotting him out there again and again, costing them games and who knows what the continued strain did to Harvey’s body
  • Steven Matz – in between some puzzling starts he’s shown flashes of the dominance that had him sail through the system.  However, ongoing issues have shelved him more than once (and now potentially for the year)
  • Zack Wheeler – first expected back in June, now he’s apparently shut down for the year
  • Jim Henderson – a pitcher who spent more time on the DL than in uniform the past few years was a crap shoot at best and he has missed much of the season due to injury
  • Yoenis Cespedes – this one is a shared mistake by the player and the ballclub.  When it was clear Cespedes was hurt, he should have been disabled immediately so he would have the chance to heal.  However, the club was struggling to score runs and he was just about the only major weapon left, so after playing shorthanded for quite some time he finally hit the DL but decided to play golf while rehabbing.  No winners here.

Playing Like Zombies

  • Michael Conforto – After an impressive debut Conforto hit the wall, getting pull happy and struggling around the Mendoza line.  Despite the less-than-stellar performance, the club decided his 11/33/.218 was inferior to De Aza’s 4/13/.192 and sent him to AAA for the second time recently where he’s doing his best Ted Williams impression for the Las Vegas fans
  • Kevin Plawecki – wow, here’s a guy who was given an extended look out of necessity due to the annual Travis d’Arnaud injury last year.  It came out after the fact he had some off-season sinus surgery to repair a condition that left him feeling woozy most of the time.  Apparently breathing better didn’t help much as he was dispatched to AAA for journeyman Rene Rivera from Las Vegas where Plaw has rebounded to hit .307.
  • Eric Campbell – why he’s still on the 40-man roster is a mystery, but like Anthony Recker, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Jr. and others before him, he’s not likely going to make anyone wistful that he’s gone
  • Alejandro De Aza – the poster child for sunk cost, he probably moped his way through the first part of the season where he went from projected starter to last outfielder off the bench.  Inexplicably the manager keeps trotting him out there but he continues to cost the team with every AB
  • Curtis Granderson – how the mighty have fallen, but he makes too much money for the club to consider other options (such as Michael Conforto).  How he can have 20 homers but only 34 RBIs defies belief
  • Travis d’Arnaud – while not quite as mighty, sandwiched around his annual injury d’Arnaud has been a major disappointment.  He’s been on a tear lately and got his average up to replacement player level but it’s been a puzzling season that has the Mets thinking he may not be the long term answer behind the dish
  • Antonio Bastardo – sometimes good players just can’t hack it when they change address.  That seemed to be the case of Bastardo who was mercifully sent packing in a swap of bad contracts to reacquire Jon Niese 
  • Logan Verrett – I never understood the fascination with this guy and his homer-happy performance FINALLY got them to demote him a few weeks ago.  Why is it that some players can have one bad game and ride the pines for a month while others get way too many chances?
  • Jon Niese – it’s been pretty clear that he’s having the worst season of his entire career.  Fortunately the Mets can simply buy him out for $500K at year’s end

The “Reinforcements”

I hesitate to spend too much time here lest I overdose on antacids.  While other teams legitimately try to improve, the Mets seem content to pick from the scrap heap of other clubs in the hopes of the elusive lightning in a bottle

  • Justin Ruggiano – he’s shown some pop but otherwise has had an undistinguished career worthy of his release earlier this year from the Rangers
  • Jose Reyes – so the plan was to bring him back to play a position he’s never played without sufficient time in the minors to get back into playing shape and risk what little good faith the fans had by paying a domestic abuser to take the field.  What could possibly go wrong?  Expect him back in 2017, though, as he costs almost nothing.  
  • James Loney – more good than bad, but he’s hovering around .265 with no power and no speed.  His defense at 1B has helped wash away memories of some other Dr. Strangegloves they’ve had out there, so there’s that.  Hopefully he’ll parlay his modest success into a new gig elsewhere
  • Erik Goeddel – when healthy, he’s been a productive reliever.
  • Seth Lugo – a little too soon to tell, but with the again ailing Steven Matz on the shelf, he gets the call as the 4th starter
  • TJ Rivera -- the new Wilmer Flores, he's done nothing but hit yet his .352 trial at the big league level had him headed back to AAA because the team had TOO MUCH OFFENSE?
  • Jay Bruce – he went from leading the league in RBIs to people calling for his head in a space of about 3 weeks.  He’s apparently caught whatever it is that afflicts all Mets hitters not named Cespedes

What To Do

This week in St. Louis is kind of a make or break period for the club.  Winning on Tuesday helps, but even a sweep of the Cardinals keeps the Mets out of the post-season.  The cavalry is not coming.  Does the club have what it would take to advance to fall baseball?

IMHO, no it does not.  They are beset by subpar performances, handicapped by bizarre lineup decisions and now their already fragile pitching staff has been Tonya Harding’d.  The question is when will the club accept its fate and start planning for 2017 instead of toying with the notion of the post season?

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8/23/16

GSELLMAN THE RIGHT CHOICE?

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GSELLMAN THE RIGHT CHOICE? by Tom Brennan

OK, OK, I know by now you all agree with me that calling up TJ Rivera while Neil Walker becomes Papa Walker is the right choice.  TJ is an assassin with the stick.

But when Steve Matz, like many of us folks, took the final two weeks of August off to rest the aching left shoulder and get some late summer R&R with Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey, was Rob Gsellman the right choice to call up?

Or was Rafael Montero?

Or was Gabe Ynoa?

ANSWER: we'll soon find out.

Rob's got a pretty lousy win-loss record and ERA in 2016, so why him at all? Well, after a nightmare debut in Vegas, he has pitched quite well there in his most recent several starts, striking out almost a man an inning.  As Jake deGrom knows, pitching well and winning can be two different things.

I have not seen Gsellman pitch, but for some reason, the 23 year old reminds me of Ron Darling.  May he be our next Darling.

Montero?  After a stunningly bad stretch in the nightmare for pitchers called Las Vegas ( which is French for "what am I DOING here?"), I suggested strongly that a demotion to Vegas could be Rafael's health spa.  While I have been assured Mets' hierarchy folks do not read this blog, shortly thereafter they did just that.  Rafael has responded in 8 AA starts by going 4-2, 1.70.  Including 7 shutout innings last night.  My gut is I would have promoted Rafael over Rob, but I hope I am wrong.

Ynoa?  He improved to 11-5 last night by tossing 8 shutout innings in Tacoma in typical Ynoa fashion...he struck out just 2, and is averaging 4.5 Ks per 9 this year.  When called up to the Mets recently, he did get manhandled in one of his relief outings, so his not being the choice is understandable.

So the Gsellman Era begins....we'll see if the Mets' choice of him over Raffie and Gabe was the right one soon enough.  Hope so.

What do you think regarding this brief, weakly researched post, folks? Who would you have promoted?  Gotta go...my 20 minutes are up.
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8/22/16

METS' MINOR LEAGUE STRUGGLES

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METS' MINOR LEAGUE STRUGGLES by Tom Brennan


Before I get started on today's main topic, two lads are reveling in a month named August:

Michael Conforto is 20 for 35 since his re-demotion (.571/.605/.943)  -  wow.

Phil Evans raised his AA average to .339 by going 32 for 67 this month (.478)

Congrats, gents.

Now to the article:

2014 and 2015 were big years for Mets' minors in terms of wins and losses - I believe in both years, the Mets had the best collective win - loss record of any organization (excluding the DSL).

The Mets unloaded a ton of pitchers and that certainly would have impacted performance this year.   But the 7 teams (AAA thru GCL) are 42 games below .500, pretty poor.  And most of that is due to a lack of hitting, the Met organization's trademark since 1962.

Here goes:


AAA

Vegas is always a different animal due to its extreme hitter-friendliness.  The team is 2nd in average (.288), first in runs (734) and second in HRs (127), but is still just 60-69 due to a team ERA of 5.55 and many unearned runs.  

Getting away from hitting frenzied Vegas, a familiar pattern sets in for the teams below AAA - low scoring, and a dearth of homers due to the Mets being an organization that historically puts very little value on the long ball, although its fans love long balls.  It instead drafts contact hitters who don't make enough contact.  

220 homers in 538 contests below AAA - you draw your own conclusions.

AA

Binghamton has sputtered to a 58-68  mark, despite the solid hitting (thanks to Evans, Smith, Rosario and Oberste) is 3rd best at .262.  However, the team has only 62 homers and 521 runs, compared to power-laden Reading (Phils), which has 165 homers and 200 more runs.  103 homers less than the league leading Phils.  Not good.

HIGH A

St Lucie has the Mets' best minors record at 65-57, also hitting .262, but has popped a mere 43 homers compared to the 116 by the league leading team.  A nifty 3.37 ERA has this team"s head above water.

A

Columbia is 58-68 due to its poor offense - .238 (13th of 14) and 66 HRs (league leader at 99) and 535 runs scored.  A 3.61 ERA (largely courtesy of PJ Conlon) is decent.

NY PENN

Brooklyn hit crappy last year, and is keeping pace in the crap department this year, at just .216 (13th out of 14), only 239 runs, and a mere 23 homers, 5 of which were contributed by Pete Alonso before his season-ending broken finger.  They are at 31-30 mostly due to solid pitching (3,41 team ERA).

APPALACHIAN LEAGUE

Kingsport's Mets are not playing like kings.  Hitting a decent .252, but a mere 19 homers (league-leading team has 55).  They are 19-37 due to a team 4.71 ERA and a ghastly 78 unearned runs, leading them to have allowed the most runs in the league.

GCL

The GCL boys have collaborated on compiling 7 team home runs in 47 games, another pathetic mark, even for a league where the leading team has only 28.  They are also hitting a mere .238 and their 175 runs ranks them 15th of 17 teams.  They are 21-26 largely due to a team ERA of 3.61.


Sounding a recurrent Brennan theme of late, Mets ownership, please draft power hitters.  Other teams do, and they don't have to go outside to sign or trade for a bushel of power guys like Cespedes, Bruce, Walker, Cabrera and Grandy to get their power fix at the big league level.
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8/20/16

Reese Kaplan -- Is It 2017 Yet? Part 2

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Here’s Part 2 of the look ahead to 2017.  Fortunately this side of the equation – pitching – is far rosier than the outlook for the offense. 

Starters

Noah Syndergaard pitched at an All Star level in 2016 and the Mets benefit from the fact he’s not even arbitration eligible until 2018.  He will be one of the best bargains in all of MLB. 

Steve Matz has had an up and down season, some of it related to issues that may or may not be resolved surgically in the off-season.  However, his performance exceeds that of Zack Wheeler during his 2014 campaign and he is not arbitration eligible until 2019. 

Although he’s been pitching at an elite level since entering the league, Jacob de Grom earned just over minimum in 2016 and is not arbitration eligible until 2018 either.  The team may be wise to recognize his performance as they did Matt Harvey’s a year earlier.  It would help pave the way into perhaps buying out his free agent years with a contract extension. 

In looking at the contract statuses for the various pitchers I was surprised to find out that Zack Wheeler is arbitration eligible in 2017.  Considering he has not pitched since being shut down in 2014, he’s not likely to get a huge bump in pay, but an increase will most definitely have to be budgeted. 

Perhaps the most vexing of the pitchers from a financial standpoint will be the aforementioned Matt Harvey who earned $4.3 million for his sub par and injury shortened 2016 campaign.  He is arbitration eligible and it seems no matter how poorly someone performs a major salary increase is always a virtual certainty.  I’m thinking he’s end up somewhere in the $6.5 million range. 

In summary, your starting rotation (if it can actually be on the field together at one time) will probably cost somewhere in the vicinity of $14-$15 million.  Considering many individual pitchers earn more than that, the beancounters the Mets employee have to be doing cartwheels.

There are two more pitchers that merit consideration, however, that could quickly turn this bargain basement staff into a much more expensive one.  First comes big Bartolo Colon.  He was an All Star again at age 43 and at times was even more dominant than he’s been during his first two years in a Mets uniform.  This year he’s earning $7.25 million and he’s been worth every penny.  Given the fragile state of health at times this season for every pitcher not named de Grom, it might be prudent to plan on a capable fallback position should injuries happen once again.  Signing him as a long man/spot starter would probably cost about the same money once again. 

The reacquisition of Jon Niese was a classic bad contract for bad contract kind of deal.  The Mets can get out from under it by simply exercising the $500K buyout of his option for 2017.  Keeping him would cost $10 million and I think if you polled the fans, baseball executives or pretty much anyone with a pulse, given the choice of Colon or Niese, well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Lefty.

Of course, the team in the past has been loath to plan for contingencies, thinking instead that injuries never happen and you can always muddle through with people from the minors.  How did that great Logan Verrett strategy work out fer ya?

There are some other choices who could provide innings in a pinch.  Newcomers Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo both logged much of their careers as starters.  Sean Gilmartin was always a starter until his Rule V success story in the majors last year out of the pen.  Then there’s the reborn Rafael Montero with a 1.99 ERA in AA who might very well never want to set foot in the pitching hell of Las Vegas ever again.  These choices are dice rolls whereas a veteran like Colon is more of a sure thing, but spending for a sure thing is not normally in the Mets’ collective DNA when it comes to planning for what might go wrong. 

Bullpen

Here’s where it’s going to get expensive in 2017.  Closer Jeurys Familia got a huge bump from the minimum wage range to $4.1 million for 2016.  He’s certainly earned it with a record setting saves streak and until very recently almost unhittable stuff.  He’s arbitration eligible and expect a pretty big bump – probably to $7.5 million. 

Next come the minimum wage guys like Hansel Robles and Erik Goeddel, both arbitration eligible in 2018.  You’d have to figure they’re both pretty much locks for a spot in the pen. 
Josh Edgin has only recently made it back to the majors and perhaps as the team falls further out of contention he’ll get more opportunities.  Then again, evaluating talent is something that the Skipper has not quite understood during his tenure.  He sticks to what he thinks he knows, come hell or high water.  The reason he might want to look at Edgin is that he pitched to a sub 2.00 ERA before his injury and he’s just arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017.  Given the small number of innings on his resume, he’s not going to get a big increase.  This fact becomes doubly important when you consider that Jerry Blevins is having an excellent year at a $4 million salary already, but is also a free agent.

The other big money guy to worry about in the pen is 8th inning specialist Addison Reed.  He’s been sensational all year and already earns $5.3 million and is arbitration eligible.  Would the short sighted and usually penny-wise and pound-foolish Mets let him walk?  If not, you’re probably looking at about $6.5 million for a setup guy. 

For awhile the great Jim Henderson experiment seemed to be something of a success, but the arm injuries that derailed his career have once again stopped him from being a productive member of the club.  He’s arbitration eligible but probably wouldn’t warrant much. 

Tom Brennan has been extolling the virtues of a couple of minor league hurlers – Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker.  Both are big strikeout guys are having success in a very difficult environment.  They are options should they decide to let any of the more expensive alternatives walk away. 

Assuming they try to keep the current pen more-or-less intact, you’re looking at a payroll of $22 million not including what you might pay for a guy like Bartolo Colon as insurance.   
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8/19/16

Reese Kaplan -- More Roster Moves A'Coming

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Lefty strikeout specialist Josh Smoker got the call and this time he might actually get into a game.  Given the sad state of bullpen exhaustion the Skipper may have no choice but to use a (gasp!) rookie at some point during the next few games.  Smoker is a former first round pick of the Washington Nationals and was derailed by some arm trouble in the past (so he should fit right in here).  Still, Sports Illustrated thought rather highly of him:

Smoker now touches 98 mph with his fastball and sits comfortably in the 95-96 mph range. He backs it up with both a slider and a splitter with some sink to it. Both are keys to Smoker's development and both have the chance to be average offerings. He blew hitters away with his fastball in 2015, but he will need more consistent secondary stuff to have success at the highest level.
Smoker has worked his way from being just about done to on the brink of impacting a big league bullpen. Continued health and some refinement could make him more than a lefty specialist.
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PHIL EVANS IS EMERGING by Tom Brennan

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PHIL EVANS IS EMERGING by Tom Brennan


Phil Evans was drafted out of high school as a 15th rounder in 2011.  Just 34 at bats in 2011, hitting .294. 


First real season was 2012: .252/.328/.337 in Brooklyn in 73 games.  Not terrible.


2013 in the Sally League WAS terrible - .203 without power in 106 games.


2014 in the Florida Coast League, Phil went back to so-so: .250/.317/.321 in 112 games.


2015, with the huge logjam of infielders in the Mets minors, he regresses, playing just 77 games, and hitting .234/.300/.313.


In other words, 4 years of utter mediocrity - sorry, Phil, it's true.


The logjam persists in early 2016, and Phil starts out again in St Lucie, and he goes 4 for 28.  I'm thinking this guy is both stinking and sinking.


THEN....YES, THEN:


Scrappy Jeff McNeil goes out with a season-ending abdominal hernia in AA, and Phil gets promoted.  I'm thinking, "this is gonna be ugly.  No way this guy hits in AA."


 WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.


Phil has clocked 79 games in AA, and he has exploded - he is still a hair short of having enough at bats to qualify for the AA batting race, but hitting nearly ,450 in August, he has climbed to .329, 2nd in the Eastern League, with some power showing up to boot, evidenced by a robust .491 slug %, far above prior years.  That's higher than Rosario's .324, folks.


Listed at a now-stocky 5'9", 220 pounds, Evans started out as a shortstop, and logged 283 games there in his career, making 64 errors.  Not terrible, when age is factored in, making him a passable back up at short in the majors as one evidence of his future utility.  Seven SS errors in 38 games this season is not bad compared to Gavin Cecchini.  Only 4 errors in 43 games at 2nd and 3rd this year, too. 


I have to totally revise my thinking about Phil. 


Maybe he is a future Joe McEwing...or MAYBE he is a future Mets' 3B starter.  If you said that to me in April, I'd have asked you what you were smoking.  But Phil's been smoking with the bat, and playing solid D.   


But, you say, 3B is a power spot, so what can he say to us to indicate he is not a complete dud in that department?  How about 6 homers and 17 doubles in his past 37 games?    Too short a stretch to conclude this is the new Power Evans, but clearly of interest.  And I saw a clip of him hitting a long opposite field homer, so the power seems to be there.


Besides McNeil, 2 other guys (Herrera and Muno) departed, freeing up at bats for Evans.  Anyone who does not now have Evans squarely on the radar is not paying attention.


Before I go, a more familiar guy is nova-hot.  Michael Conforto has FIFTEEN HITS AND A WALK IN HIS LAST 5 GAMES.  Get him back in NY ASAP.


After last night's Mets debacle, with the great Jake not able to hold a 4 run lead, Matz scratched tonight, and Wheeler nowhere in sight, it would take an absolute miracle for the Mets to make the playoffs.  I would deal Grandy for whatever we could get, eat the rest of his contract, and recall Nimmo and Conforto and let them play.  It is working out so far with TJ Rivera...who is 11 for 31, I believe...so start the youth movement again NOW. 



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8/18/16

Mack - I Love A Great Baseball Story

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In 2009, I was writing a full page a week for one of our local Morris Publishing newspapers on the Savannah Sand Gnats.

I also was responsible for putting out an additional sports page per week on local sports in both Jasper and Beaufort County, South Carolina. It included covering the Hardeeville High School baseball team.

Stay with me here.

Hardeeville made the playoffs in 2009 and an away game opening game against State powerhouse, Bamberg Ehrhardt, in Bamberg, South Carolina. This was the school that both ex-Mets Mookie Wilson and his son, Preston Wilson attended and played under long term legendary coach David Horton (who eventually retired at age 74, leaving behind 14 state championships, 889 wins, two national coach of the year honors and a legacy that might never again be matched in this state.

So, I had this great idea. Drive update, do an interview with Horton with emphasis on his days with the Wilson family. Then, I’ll cover that playoff game between the two team, I'm then told that the pitcher for Bamberg would actually be their ace and ironically was drafted by the Mets.
Wow! The story’s getting even better.

So I call the school, talk to the coach, drive up for the game, and I spend the afternoon with Coach Horton on the field prior to the game.

At game time, someone points out to me that the Bamberg pitcher’s mother is standing over in the corner, smoking a cigarette. I go over, introduce myself and ask her what it was like having her son be drafted by the Mets.
She looked at me fuming and began a diatribe on how the Mets drafted her son in the 50th round (!), called him on the phone and told him that, not only would there be no bonus, but that they wouldn’t even be offering a contract. They did say that the kid was welcome to hop a train, at his own expense, go down to the Florida complex and tryout for the organization.

She ended by telling me that the Mets could go do something to themselves that is physically impossible.

Well, I put this end of the story to bed, went back to watching my home team Hardeeville have their head handed to them and returned home.

The pitcher?

Oh. He went on to pitch the 2010 season for Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College, He then sign on with the University of Tennessee for three years, was drafted in the 10th round (2013) by the Cubs, bounced around both the Cubs and Arizona’s system for four years… and ended up last night getting his fourth victory of the year, throwing 7.1 innings against… 

the New York Mets.

His name is Zack Godley.


I love baseball. 
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TOP 20 METS 2016 PROSPECTS PERFORMANCE by Tom Brennan

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TOP 20 METS 2016 PROSPECTS PERFORMANCE by Tom Brennan
 
Aside from the fact that many Mets fans don't care much how the 2016 draftees are doing (just tell me about the really good ones, will ya?), I like following how they are doing. 
 
I'm just like that, weird...I know.  But how are the top 20 picks doing?  I'll fill you in.  I have nothing against guys below round 20, just that few (like 34th round pick Seth Lugo or undrafted TJ Rivera) actually make it to the Mets.  (Note; 23rd rounder Nick Sergakis is actually doing pretty well).


We're far enough along to give meaningful report cards.  So here goes:




GREAT SO FAR:


Justin Dunn, 1st Rd, Brooklyn: 7 G, 0.50, 18 IP, 19 K.  So far, so great.


Peter Alonzo, 2nd Rd., Brooklyn: 30 G, .321/.382/.587 - Wow! The only guy hitting with power, amazingly, in a typical Mets draft. Then Alonzo breaks his finger, causing Alonso Mourning!!


Austin McGeorge, 7th Rd., Bklyn: 11 G, 12 IP, 2.92, 1.14 WHIP, 11 K


Placido Torres, 8th Rd., Kingsport: 10 G, 13 IP, 21 K, 3.38.  Like those Ks.


Chris James, 14th Rd., GCL: 11 G, 0.73, 0.90 WHIP, 8K.  Nice start.


Gary Cornish, 19th Rd., Brooklyn: 10 G, 14 IP, 1.93, 1.14 WHIP, 21 K.




NOTABLE:


Colby Woodmansee, 5th Rd., Bklyn, SS: 46 G, .271/.308/.354, a scary 59 K.  3 errors.


Chris Viall, 6th Rd., Kingsport: 8 G, 5.29, 15 BB, 24 K in 17 IP.  Wild Thing, love the K's!


Jacob Zanon, 15th Rd, Bklyn, OF: 44 G, an excellent 20 of 22 steals, despite hitting just .197/.284/.287 so far.  25 K.




OK SO FAR:


Blake Tiberi, 3rd Rd., Bklyn: 39 G, .237/.320/.290, 22 K, no errors at 3B.  Hopefully, a 3rd round pick can do more offensively than Blake has done so far.


Gene Cone, 10th Rd., Bklyn: 40 G, .243/.337/.309, 26 K, just 1 OF error.  Unexciting.




NOT GOOD SO FAR:


Michael Paez, 4th Rd., Bklyn, SS: 28 G, .168/.262/.252, 3 errors.  Only 5'8", this seems like another in a history of Mets' poor offensive picks.  Draft power bats, man, not small guys in early rounds.  Maybe Paez will prove me wrong.


Colin Holderman, 9th Rd., Kingsport: 10 G, 14 IP, 7 K, 5.27.


Trent Johnson, 16th Rd., Kingsport: 12 G, 12 IP, 7.30, 1.62 WHIP, 10 K


Adam Atkins, 18th Rd, Bklyn: 13 G, 5.25, 1.75, 12 IP, 14K.




NOT WELL AT ALL:


Dan Rizzie, 13th Rd., C, Bklyn: 26G, .157/.287/.217 is downright non-offensive.


Jay Jabs, 17th Rd., Bklyn: 41 G, .190/.300/.248, 36 K.  Not promising for a 3rd baseman.




ALMOST ON VACATION:


Matt Cleveland, 12th Rd., GCL: 4 G, 4 IP, 4.15, 1K.  Hopefully he gets 10 innings in this yr




ON VACATION:


Anthony Kay, 1st Rd: has not pitched yet.  Resting golden arm.  See you in 2017, AK.




UNSIGNED:


Cameron Planck (11th round), Carlos Cortes (20th round) - your mistake, boys.




Overall take:
So far, very happy with Dunn and Alonso, otherwise, to me, results show a poor draft.
I will say that while the guys in Brooklyn collectively may not be hitting, they are fielding remarkably well, all far better than my favorite defenseless piƱata Gavin Cecchini.


 
 
 
 
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HIT RESET by Tom Brennan

3 comments
HIT "RESET" by Tom Brennan

A short blurb for your humble thoughts.

Despite Grandy's meaningless 9th inning homer in a 13-5 blow out loss last night, he has been as close to useless as useless can be for a long time.

Like a drowning swimmer, de Aza briefly got his head above water but sank back below .200 here in late August.

Cabrera and Cespedes did fine last night and should be back this weekend.

WHAT ELSE TO DO TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON ON THIS FLAILING TEAM?

Recall Conforto and cut de Aza as soon as possible.  Why? How about Conforto having THIRTEEN HITS HIS LAST 4 GAMES!

Pen pitchers and Nurse have been pounded, including the unimpressive Ynoa.  Send 2 of them down and call up Smoker and Seward, both of whom have done really well of late.

Why?

No Wheeler (Zach or Beck) to rescue them, time running short.

This team needs an immediate RESET.  HIT that BUTTON, Sandy.


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