Mets Merized Online » Connor O’Brien Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:05:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Free Agent Profile: Andrew Miller, LHP Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:10:03 +0000 andrew-miller-mlb-seattle-mariners-baltimore-orioles-590x900

Andrew Miller

Relief Pitcher

Bats: L  Throws: L

Age on Opening Day: 29

2014 Snapshot

Andrew Miller had a career year in 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles. Through 42.1 innings in Boston, Miller held a 2.35 ERA before being dealt for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez during Boston’s massive fire sale before the trade deadline. Down the stretch for Baltimore, he was even more impressive, posting a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings. His strikeout, home run, and hit rates were all at career-bests. And at 29 years old, Miller has hit free agency at just the right time.


Miller strikes out an insane number of batters. This season, in 62.1 innings, he fanned 103 batters, equating to a 14.9 K/9 rate and a 42.6 strikeout percentage. Both of those numbers are second only to Aroldis Chapma among pitchers with 50 innings or more.

What was it? The numbers, albeit in a small sample size, point towards his slider. His slider was over 13 runs above average this season, far better than ever before. He has been able to use his low arm slot and deadly slider to his advantage, producing gems like this:


Yes, that’s not Miller striking out a power-hitting lefty, that’s Derek Jeter. While that may not be too impressive anymore, it highlights my point: Miller dominates righties, too. Righties hit just .145/.245/.202 against him, which was actually slightly worse than the .163/.206/.261 line lefties put up against him. Although his numbers overall favor Miller against lefties, he has actually reversed his platoon splits over the past two seasons. That doesn’t mean he will going forward, but it is something to consider.

Forget about the strikeouts for a minute and look at the number of baserunners allowed. Miller had a 0.802 WHIP this season, a career-best by far. Over the last three years, he has really improved in this manner, bringing his walks down to a (somewhat) manageable level, and limiting his hits allowed as well. He is running on all cylinders right now.


Miller’s track record of major success is relatively short. From 2006 through 2012, Miller owned a career 5.54 ERA and walked 5.4 batters per nine innings. Even as he started to turn his career around in 2012, he walked five batters per nine innings. That should be an area of concern for Sandy Alderson. He could easily regress back to his career averages.

His 4.8 hits per nine innings rate from last season is, without a doubt, unsustainable. You don’t see that very often, and you definitely don’t see is multiple years in a row.

As good as Miller is, his biggest weakness is the fact that he doesn’t really fit. Signing Miller would only muddle up the closer situation even more. Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Bobby Parnell can handle the late innings just fine. If the Mets are going to spend big money on a multi-year contract, it shouldn’t be for a relief pitcher. Maybe Miller would be a better fit if the team had more money.

Projected Contract

To give you a sense of what Miller is looking for, check out what Jason Mastrodonato wrote for MassLive the other day:

According to an industry source, Miller is seeking at least a four-year deal and isn’t listening to any other offers unless the average annual value is “astounding.”

I am assuming “astounding” is at least $12 to $15 million per year, which is ridiculous for Miller. Yes, he is 29, but he has also only been dominant for two seasons. That being said, he is arguably the top relief pitcher on the market, meaning there will be demand for him. He won’t get what he wants, but I see a four-year deal as almost a guarantee. I see Miller getting four years and $40 million.

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Jed Lowrie, SS Fri, 07 Nov 2014 18:38:26 +0000 jed lowrie

Jed Lowrie

Position: Shortstop

Bats: Both, Throws: Right

Age on Opening Day: 30

2014 Snapshot

In his second season with the Oakland Athletics, Jed Lowrie saw his offensive numbers drop across the board. After posting a .290/.344/.446 line (a great line for a shortstop) with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, and two triples, Lowrie put up a .249/.321/.355 slash with just six home runs in 136 games. His wRC+ dropped 27 points from a 120 in 2013 to a 93 this year. The only real positive from Lowrie’s 2014 season was higher defensive numbers. While his defense still wasn’t great, most metrics had him at ten to 20 runs below average last season and about ten runs better than that this year. If anything positive came out of this year, it’s that Lowrie’s 2013 defense was an anomaly.


Past Hanley Ramirez, Lowrie has the highest upside among free agent shortstops. When at the top of his game, he is a top three offensive shortstop (he was second in wRC+ in 2013). Very few shortstops are able to put up the kind of numbers that Lowrie can.

At his best, Lowrie can be a solid home run threat for his position. Over his entire career, he has a 162 game average of 15 home runs. Only five shortstops hit 15 or more homers last year and only two did it while posting a wRC+ of 120 or greater.

From the numbers, Lowrie looks like a solid bet to return to old form. His lower-than-usual BABIP points towards a higher batting average in the future and a HR/FB rate of just 3.2 percent, half his career rate, the power could come back as well.


While Lowrie has shown he can be an elite hitter, the question remains whether he can be consistently elite. This season, he had a 1.9 fWAR and a 0.8 rWAR, not the kind of numbers that warrant a starting spot on an MLB team let alone the multi-year contract Lowrie will likely receive. However, this is the type of player the Mets will be looking at if they decide to solve the shortstop issue through free agency. They don’t have the money to go after Hanley Ramirez, so unless Sandy Alderson decides to make a trade for a shortstop, Lowrie is probably the best option.

Turning to his defense, Lowrie hasn’t bee fantastic with the glove either. Even tossing out his dreadful 2013 defensive numbers, Lowrie is probably only an average defender. While that is probably not going to be a sticking point for a team starving for offense, it is still something to consider.

Projected Contract

It is always difficult to predict what players like Lowrie will get on the free agent market. Had he hit free agency after last season, he may have gotten a four or five year deal in the $60 million range. Even without a qualifying offer, Lowrie won’t get anything close to that this offseason. That being said, with the way free agency has gone the past few years, a two or three-year contract for a player coming off a down year like Lowrie is more than reasonable. I’m predicting a three year, $27 million deal.

Previous MMO Free Agent Profiles:

Yasmani Tomas, LF/RF

Nick Markakis, RF

Colby Rasmus, OF

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MMO Free Agent Profile: Yasmani Tomas, RF/LF Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:39:42 +0000 yasmani tomas

Yasmani Tomas

Position: Right/Left Field
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Age on Opening Day: 24

2014 Snapshot

Compared to his 2012 and 2013 seasons, Tomas’ 2014 season saw a big drop in production in the Serie Nacional, the main baseball league in Cuba. In 68 games last season (seasons are significantly shorter in Cuba), Tomas hit .286/.343/.444 with six home runs, 16 doubles, and two triples. That’s solid, but nothing compared to his 2013 season in which he hit .289/.364/.538 with 15 home runs, 18 doubles, and three triples in 81 games. His 2012 season was even better than that, posting an OPS 20 points higher.


The most attractive quality for Tomas is his potential. At 24, he has already proven he is a star in the Cuban league, a league that is certainly nothing to scoff at. The successes of recent Cuban players is a sign of the strength of play there, and has people more confident in Tomas’ ability to hit in the majors.

With Tomas, and international players in general, the more certainty, the higher the price is. With more players from Cuba playing well in the U.S. right now, that adds some certainty that more will succeed in the future. There is definitely more certainty with Cuban players now than a few years ago, which is both a good and a bad thing. While it probably means Tomas will at least be a decent player, it also probably takes him out of Sandy Alderson’s price range.

Putting that aside, Tomas is the equivalent of a rookie who has just had a great first season. He’s young and there is still some question as to whether he can stick, but the tools are obviously there. Some scouts have said Tomas will be a slugger, regularly competing for the league lead in home runs. If that holds true, he is a perfect fit for the Mets, who need exactly that: a middle-of-the order bat who also plays a corner outfield position.


International players are risky.

Logically, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you would probably want to spend it on things that have a higher degree of certainty. Otherwise, you could blow everything on one acquisition. That is what Sandy Alderson has stuck to and is what all but completely eliminates the Mets from signing Tomas.

According to Ben Badler, Tomas has also shown some swing-and-miss tendencies, struggling against good breaking pitches. That could make him a high-risk signing.

Overall, I’d say the Mets have absolutely no chance of getting Tomas, but by some chance the Wilpons finally decide to spend money like real New York owners, Tomas shouldn’t be considered an automatic, sign-at-any-cost target. There is so much uncertainty surrounding him that it could get ugly pretty quickly.

Projected Contract

Due to the fact that Tomas can be had without having to give up a draft pick or any bonus pool money, there is a big incentive for teams to bid wildly on him. So man teams expressed initial interest in him, and I think enough will have serious interest to really drive up the price. Someone is going to get really desperate, seeing this as a chance to get an immediate star for no prospects and no draft picks. Jose Abreu got $68 million last year and Rusney Castillo got $72.5 million this year. The price is only going up, which is why I am predicting 7 years, $120 million for Tomas.

Previous MMO Free Agent Profiles

Colby Rasmus, OF

Nick Markakis, RF


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MMO Free Agent Profile: Colby Rasmus, CF Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:09:38 +0000 colby rasmus

Colby Rasmus

Position: Center Fielder 
Bats: Left, Throws: Left 
Age on Opening Day: 28

2014 Snapshot

After a very productive 2013 season, Rasmus fell off a cliff this year, seeing his numbers drop across the board. The 28 year-old posted a slash line of .225/.287/.448 with a .321 wOBA and 103 wRC+ with 18 home runs in 376 plate appearances. In almost every major fielding statistic, Rasmus went from solidly above average to solidly below average in center, compounding on an already lackluster year.

The one thing that remained through it all for Rasmus was his power. His 18 home runs in so few trips to the plate stick out, along with his .223 ISO, his second-highest mark ever. However, Rasmus watched his offensive numbers drop across the board from a fantastic .276/.338/.501 (129 wRC+) 2013 season. If we are in the game of comparisons, Rasmus is on the opposite track of Nick Markakis, who, although the rest of his numbers have gone up, his power numbers have dropped. In the middle tier of free agent outfielders, it may be a pick-your-poison scenario.


Rasmus has incredible upside. In 2013, he posted a 4.8 fWAR, the second four-win season of his career. He boasts solid and consistent power numbers, and, if healthy, is sure to hit 20 or more home runs in a Met uniform, even at Citi Field. According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Rasmus was in the upper tier with an average 401 foot “true distance” on his 18 home runs. I don’t have any doubt that his power would transfer, no matter what kind of season he is having.

Rasmus has also proven at times to be a solid defender, posting well above average fielding metrics before 2014. However, Rasmus’ numbers have been inconsistent in these metrics, leaving some uncertainty here.


Of course, if Rasmus were always at his upside, he would be way beyond the Mets’ price range. What makes players cheap is uncertainty, and there is a whole lot of it with Rasmus. While Rasmus has had two seasons with a 4.0 fWAR or higher, he also has three with a 1.0 fWAR or worse. He is, without a doubt, an enormous risk.

Rasmus is striking out at absurd rates. Last year, he struck out in a third of his plate appearances. And those offensive numbers last year were coupled with a normal BABIP. That’s not exactly a recipe for future success.

While the added power would be a nice addition to the lineup, the possibly dreadful On-Base Percentage and batting average would greatly eat away at the added value. That may still even equate to overall league average offense, but with uncertainty about Rasmus’ defense, any significant financial commitment will mean taking a big risk. Rasmus doesn’t seem like the type of player a penny-pinching team like the Mets can afford to gamble on. Not to mention he plays center field and has never regularly played a corner position in the majors…

Projected Contract

Unlike Markakis, Rasmus is coming off a down year, so he should be cheaper. With that being said, he is also younger and less likely to have a qualifying offer attached to him. With teams considering the horrible situation with BJ Upton, a similar player to Rasmus, and the stronger center field free agent class next year, demand won’t be too high. I predict that Rasmus will get two years and $24 million.


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MMO Free Agent Profile: Nick Markakis, RF Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:44 +0000 MLB: JUL 20 Rays at Orioles

Nick Markakis

Position: Right Fielder
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Age on Opening Day: 31

2014 Snapshot

While Nick Markakis didn’t return to his old self this year, he did bounce back significantly from a sub-replacement level season in 2013. He had solid seasons on both offense and defense, improving his wRC+ from 88 to 106 while improving most of his defensive metrics by a few runs as well.

His final line on the year was .276/.342/.386 with 14 home runs, 27 doubles, and a triple in 710 plate appearances. He ended the season with a 2.5 fWAR and a 2.1 rWAR.


As Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out, Markakis would make a solid leadoff hitter. Among right fielders, Markakis ranked ninth in On-Base Percentage last year with a .342 mark. Over the past few years, he has consistently walked in eight to nine percent of his trips to the plate, and owns a career 9.3 walk percentage. As a team, the Mets batted .235/.308/.333 in the leadoff spot this season, making Markakis a clear upgrade in this spot.

Assuming Curtis Granderson would move to left field, Markakis represents a clear upgrade in the outfield as well. Mets left fielders hit just .219/.306/.309, giving them an OPS 38 percent worse than league average this season. Markakis is already to be a league average hitter, and could definitely be even more productive than that. On top of all this, he’s just 30 years old.


While Markakis would definitely add to the Mets outfield, is he really the right fit? Probably not. Markakis is certainly a nice leadoff option, but the Mets already have a carbon copy of him at second base: Daniel Murphy. In fact, Daniel Murphy is slightly better than Markakis, and at a position where hitting is harder to come by The leadoff problem is more a problem of lineup management than personnel. If Terry Collins would just bat Murphy (107 OPS+ over last three year vs. Markakis’ 105), the leadoff problem would be solved. (Of course, the Mets could certainly decide to trade Murphy for a bigger bat this winter, in which case there would be a need for a leadoff hitter.)

Put lineup position aside for a minute and look at Markakis as a player. While his walk rate may make him an attractive leadoff hitter, he doesn’t have much else going for him. Over the last three years, Markakis has a mediocre 4.1 fWAR over 419 games. His fielding numbers have been dreadful almost his entire career, regularly playing ten or more runs below average. That greatly detracts from his value. Also, while he gets on base, he is doing so with less quality than he used to, with his power numbers dropping dramatically from early in his career. If the Nick Markakis of five years ago was available — the one who regularly had an ISO in the .160 to .190 range — then I would say he is a perfect fit for the Mets. However, the Mets need to add as much power as possible to their lineup, even in a leadoff hitter. So while Markakis may get on base at a decent clip (although it isn’t even that great), he is only a middle-of-the-road player that isn’t going to have a huge impact on the Mets if they were to sign him.

Projected Contract

Markakis is only 30 years old, which means he will be seeking, at absolute minimum, a three-year deal, and will be fighting like crazy to get a fourth or fifth year. As one of the younger options in a sea of mid-30s outfielders, Markakis will be helped by his age. Plus, with Yasmani Tomas and Nelson Cruz looking to sign monster contracts, Markakis and his main competition Melky Cabrera, will be vying for spots on teams with money but unable or unwilling to make a huge splash. Ironically, because only a few young, mid-range options exist this winter, teams may have to pay upwards of $50 million to ink either of them. Assuming the Orioles don’t take the big risk of giving Markakis a qualifying offer. Projection: 4 years, $44 million


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Biggest Takeaways From the 2014 Season Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:15:54 +0000 With the Mets 8-3 win yesterday afternoon over the Astros, they closed out what was a rather hectic 2014 season, one filled with both surprises and disappointments, yet one that brought reasons to be optimistic for next season. They finished 79-83, solidly better than last year, but still leaving room to improve. Here are my five biggest takeaways from this year.

The Bullpen is Legit

jeurys familia

The bullpen has been a huge question mark for the Mets over the past few seasons, but they seem to have solved the problem with a strategy a number of teams are now using: put young pitching in the bullpen.

Sandy Alderson finally gave back-end bullpen jobs to Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia, who have both been nasty. After having among the league’s worst bullpens the past few years, the Mets now have a top ten ‘pen. And unlike many dominant bullpens, it is relatively young.

Instead of opting to stick pitchers like Familia and Mejia in the rotation, the Mets made the right call converting them to relievers. In order to be a starter, you really need three good pitches, with the third preferably being a changeup. Familia and Mejia just weren’t meant to be starters and it’s about time they were put in their rightful places.

Mets Made the Right Choice at First

The choice was finally made this April, when the Mets picked Lucas Duda over Ike Davis in one of the most significant decisions the front office made all season. Duda went on to post a 133 wRC+ and a 3.1 fWAR, while Davis lagged behind with a 109 wRC+ and 0.3 fWAR. Duda ended the year with 30 home runs, while Davis finished with 11. The right choice has obviously been made.

While the Mets will likely have to find a good platoon partner for Duda, they have found themselves a legitimate slugger, one who could hit 30 plus home runs for a few years (Duda is only 28).

Lagares is Baseball’s Best Defender

juan lagares catchJuan Lagares catapulted himself this year from a question mark to a cornerstone player. Lagares put up a solid .281/.321/.382 line, hovering around a league average wRC+. That’s not bad, especially for a center fielder. When you combine Lagares’ incredible defensive numbers, this season was much better than you might think.

Say what you will about defensive metrics, but they were pretty consistent with Lagares this year. Almost every defensive metric, from SABR Defensive Index to UZR, had him around 20 runs above average. That’s astounding, especially when you consider the sample size. Lagares didn’t even qualify for the batting title this year.

On a per-game basis, there is no player slicker with the glove than Lagares. He put up a 3.8 fWAR in just 116 games. If he can play a full season, he is a perennial All-Star caliber player.

Starting Rotation is Loaded

The starting rotation was expected to be a force this season, but it exceeded its expectations. Not only did Jonathon Niese, Bartolo Colon, and Zack Wheeler deliver solid seasons, but the team also saw the emergence of a future ace, Jacob deGrom.

The rotation for next year was already looked loaded, even without deGrom. With Matt Harvey back next season, the Mets could have two 130 ERA+-type pitchers to go along with three or four in the 100 range. How many teams can say that every one of their starters is near or above league average? Not many. The rotation will be, barring a plethora of unforeseen injuries, among baseball’s best.

This Team is Built Right

matt harvey

How many teams can lose their ace for the season, have their best player play injured, and still win five more games than the previous year? Without an influx of new money, it doesn’t happen very much.

As tough as the past few years have been, the Mets are clearly on a brighter path. The record has looked more or less the same over the past few years, but the composition of the roster has changed drastically. Compare the 2011 roster with this year’s.

On the position player side, the Mets are a younger team, with more youth coming. With the way the Mets roster was constructed a few years ago, they had to get younger before they could get better. They are now clearly on the upswing.

* * * * * * * *

When the Mets come back to camp next year, they will have a healthy Matt Harvey and a healthy David Wright. Assuming similar production from the rest of the roster, that immediately makes them borderline playoff contenders. Then you factor in  full years of second half-like production from Travis d’Arnaud and Jacob deGrom, and the Mets are right there. Granted that’s a very optimistic view, but it shows just how close this team is from being a contender. If the Mets can add one or two significant pieces this offseason, they will be a dangerous team next year.


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Featured Post: Looking At Mets Through SABR Defensive Index Wed, 13 Aug 2014 20:21:19 +0000 simpsons sabermetrics

The Society for American Baseball Research doesn’t really sponsor particular statistics, but two years ago, it formed a committee to create a newer, better defensive statistic called the SABR Defensive Index. SABR has periodically released updates of this newly-created stat, and you may find the results interesting.

Defensive Index, or SDI combines a number of already established defensive metrics. Individual metrics can be somewhat narrow in their scope and thus the results can vary from one to another. SDI combines two types of defensive metrics, batted ball and game log. 70 percent is made up of batted ball, or zone rating statistics. These stats use what may be considered hit f/x to evaluate defense based on exact locations of batted balls. The other 30 percent is composed of game log statistics. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, so SABR combined them with the hopes of making a more stable metric. Remember how experts say not to rely on UZR over sample sizes of three years or more? That’s pretty absurd and not good for short-term analysis. This new stat may be a step in the right direction in solving that problem, as well as others involving defensive statistics.

For reference, here are the statistics that make up Defensive Index:

Batted ball stats:

  • Defensive Runs Saved
  • Ultimate Zone Rating
  • Runs Effectively Defended

Game log stats:

  • Total Zone Rating
  • Defensive Regression Analysis

Now to the fun part: the league leaders. In the American League, it is Alex Gordon (it’s pronounced… never mind) with 16.8 runs saved (compared to league average). In the NL, it’s Jason Heyward with 21.3 runs saved. Fourth in the National League and tops among MLB center fielders is Juan Lagares, who has saved 11.5 runs this season. This is extremely impressive considering how few innings Lagares has played compared to some of the other leaders (SDI is a cumulative stat). Billy Hamilton, the closest center fielder to Lagares, had played 828 innings as of August 3 (the stat is as of August 3) compared to Lagares’ 594.2 innings. Given a full season, Lagares would likely be closer to Heyward and Gordon than to Hamilton.

Here is how some other notable Mets have fared as of the latest release:

This may just be another metric to some of you, but it actually plays a role in the awards process. This metric now takes up one quarter of the votes for the Gold Glove and Platinum Glove awards each winter. Every voter is sent a heaping packet of information with SDI and similar data and the statistic is given a sizable share of the voting as well. Say what you will about the statistic, but at least something is being done to fix the inaccurate, often subjective Gold Glove voting.

If you’re interested in this type of stuff, definitely look into this statistic. The fact that it incorporates the best defensive stats available (as well as one or two original SABR-created stats) will stabilize it from year to year, finally giving some more credibility to advanced defensive metrics. And hey, just about anything is better than fielding percentage.


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MMO Game Recap: Nationals 5, Mets 3 (13 Innings) Thu, 07 Aug 2014 21:44:47 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals

The Mets (54-61) lost a 13 inning heartbreaker to the Nationals (62-51) this afternoon by a score of 5-3.

Mets starter Jacob deGrom was not himself early on, giving up three early runs before settling down in his last two innings of work. deGrom didn’t dominate like he had in his previous few starts, but he kept the Mets in the game.

After the Nats scored two in the second inning off an Ian Desmond home run, the Mets struck back with a Daniel Murphy RBI double. Murphy seemed to be involved in everything today, continuing his big hot streak. With his 3-for-6 performance today, he raised his batting line to .305/.349/.440.

After Ian Desmond brought home another run in the fourth inning, the Mets were shut down until the top of the seventh. Eric Young Jr. hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to narrow the lead to just one run. The next batter, Curtis Granderson singled home Kirk Nieuwenhuis to tie the game up at three.

From the seventh on, it was a battle of the bullpens, as each side traded zeros until the 13th inning. During this stretch, Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Dana Eveland, Buddy Carlyle, and Jenrry Mejia shut down the Nationals. On the other side, Craig Stammen pitched three solid innings, taking one for the team by throwing 47 pitches out of the bullpen.

With Carlos Torres pitching in the 13th, the final blow was dealt to the Mets from an unexpected source. With a runner on, Bryce Harper crushed one to left field to end the game. Harper had gone just 3-for-19 in August coming into today’s game, and hit just .228 in the month of July.

It was a disappointing loss for the Mets, who emptied their bullpen today. The games in which they use every pitcher hurt a lot more because they not only lose a game in the standings, but they handicap themselves going forward. The Mets do not have another off day until August 21, two weeks from today.

Starting Pitcher Breakdown

Jacob deGrom- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 97 pitches, 63 strikes

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.33.59 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.35.58 PM

Jordan Zimmerman- 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 91 pitches, 67 strikes

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 5.37.06 PM

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Win Probability Breakdown


Top Three Plays

Up Next: The Mets begin a four-game series against the Phillies as Bartolo Colon (10-9, 4.12 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 3.68 xFIP) faces off against AJ Burnett (6-11, 4.16 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 4.06 xFIP) at 7:05.

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Harvey Will Not Pitch In The Majors This Season Sat, 02 Aug 2014 02:48:03 +0000 matt harvey

There he was – big as life – Matt Harvey was pitching off a mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John Surgery ten months ago. Harvey tossed 15 pitches from the bullpen mound and said he was feeling good and still pain-free.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was definitely a big success. It felt pretty normal. It felt like I never left the mound.”

“Hopefully the guys will hold it together up here, and I’ll come see them in October,” Harvey joked afterward.

“We kept him to about 60 percent,” Terry Collins said, describing the intensity of the bullpen session. “We know he’s feeling great, but we’re keeping him at a fairly slow pace.”

He will throw about 20 pitches on Tuesday, Collins said, and, if all goes well, throw again on Aug. 9.

Sandy Alderson added that Harvey will begin a pitching program in Florida after that, but that he’ll be shutdown for the season at some point in October.

“We have a program worked out that gets him roughly through the end of September and maybe into the first week of October. Then he’ll be shut down until spring training.”

“He will not participate in winter ball nor will he pitch in the majors this season, regardless of his progress. The key is getting him up to a level where he’s comfortable going into spring training in 2015.”

(Joe D.)

July 30

Adam Rubin reports that Matt Harvey “has the go-ahead to get on a mound next week” for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22, 2013.

He also adds that while Harvey will not pitch in the majors this season, it’s still possible he will pitch briefly in the fall instructional league, which spans late September and early October in Florida.

No doubt some great news on the Harvey front… The Mets’ ace righthander has had no setbacks in his rehab and continues to work his way back.

If it were up to Harvey, he would have preferred to be on a mound last month, but he continues to follow the schedule laid out for him by the organization.

July 26

Mets fans can dream about next year’s starting rotation, which will presumably include Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom. All of them will be 28 or younger when the season begins and all could be well above average next season.

There is no doubt that when Matt Harvey is healthy, the Mets are a much better team. While getting him back will be like trading for an ace making the league minimum (except without giving up your entire farm system), there are still lingering questions over how the Mets should approach his return.

Obviously, Harvey isn’t going to be pitching this season, despite his determination to do so. He may pitch a few innings in the Arizona Fall League, but that’s just about it.

Everyone remembers the controversy surrounding Stephen Strasburg‘s return from Tommy John Surgery. He hit his innings limit in early September in the midst of a pennant race, and the Nationals shut him down for the season. The Mets may be facing another very similar scenario next year, in a season in which they expect to compete. Perhaps the 2012 Nationals weren’t sure they were going to compete, so they proceeded normally. However, with all the trade buzz surrounding the Mets combined with the new arrivals of top prospects, the front office expects next year to be a big year. That makes this situation a bit different from the one Strasburg was in two years ago.

As dangerous as it is, the Mets will more or less throw Harvey into the fire at some point next season. It sure is risky to do that. I’ve always said the reason Johan Santana got hurt wasn’t the no-hitter, but the fact that after not pitching for over a year, the Mets suddenly threw him out there regularly, taking very few precautions. Unfortunately, there really aren’t many more practical methods to easing a pitcher back into it. Luckily for the Mets, Harvey is quite a bit younger than Santana.

Nevertheless, the Mets will still need to be careful how they handle Harvey, knowing that their goal is to compete in September and possibly October while also keeping their ace on an innings limit somewhere between 160 and 190. How will they do this? Here are a few options.

Extreme option: Put him in the bullpen for a while

matt harveyThe Mets may want to put him in the bullpen to start the season, possibly for four to six weeks to limit his innings. They will still get use out of his arm, but without the early season wear and tear. In the often cold and raw April games, it could reduce injury risk.

There are, of course, many problems with this idea, which is why it is an “extreme option.” For one, the transition to and from the bullpen isn’t exactly easy or quick. It took Jenrry Mejia a while to transition back and forth. The Mets may have two weeks at both ends of the experiment with a somewhat wasted roster spot, two when he’s getting used to pitching on back-to-back days, and two more when he transitions back to the rotation. And don’t forget the risks of Terry Collins overusing him, which is never out of the question with any relief pitcher.

Somewhat extreme option: Start his season late

Instead of beginning workouts at the Port St. Lucie complex in early February, start Harvey out in early March. He will have an extra month to strengthen his arm and the rest of his body, and could pitch through the end of the season. It makes sense on all fronts, but there is one huge problem with it: Harvey will absolutely hate it.

Remember, this is the pitcher who said he would pitch Opening Day this season. What are the odds he would go along with a delayed start? Probably slim to none. That being said, this option is probably the best compromise between Harvey’s long-term health and the Mets’ hopes to compete.

Realistic but ineffective option: Skip starts, be cautious

This is one of the more likely options, but it is probably the worst. As we have seen, skipping starts throws pitchers off their routines. However, what makes this a realistic option is how well Harvey has fared with more rest:

Four days rest: 19 starts, 3.07 ERA, 1.065 WHIP

Five days rest: 10 starts, 2.25 ERA, 1.029 WHIP

Six or more days rest: 7 starts, 0.77 ERA, 0.707 WHIP

Keeping that in mind, this option is less attractive for the team. Taking Harvey out early taxes the bullpen and focusing on skipping him allows you less flexibility with the rest of the starting rotation. Consider that and the fact that doing this still probably won’t be enough. IT may come down to the Mets putting Harvey on the DL for a few weeks with “elbow fatigue” to keep him from exceeding his limit.

Most likely option: Do nothing, shut him down in September

This option is fine for Harvey’s health, but it doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the team. Right when the Mets will need Harvey the most, he will be shut down. This is what the Nats did with Strasburg and what the Mets will likely do with Harvey next season.

The Mets need to sit down with Matt Harvey and his agent Scott Boras and lay out a plan that will both keep him healthy and make sense for the team. There is absolutely no excuse. There will be a media frenzy if either side is left in the dark about the other’s intentions and it could get very ugly.


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Yankees Acquire Stephen Drew, Martin Prado Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:16:18 +0000 stephen drew

Update 4:16: The Yankees have also acquired Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network. Prado is batting .270/.317/.370 with five homers this season.

Original Post: The Yankees have acquired Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew, according to Gordon Edes of

Drew, 31, signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in late May. He is really struggling, hitting .176/.255/.328 in 39 games this season. Drew had a solid season last year, batting .253/.333/.443.

This is a puzzling deal for the Yankees but a good one for Boston. They get salary relief and will get Kelly Johnson out of it. The Yankees struck out in their search for a big bat today, but they may have a second baseman for the rest of the year.

The Red Sox are tearing down everything right now. They have now dealt 4/5 of their Opening Day rotation, and have shed some more salary. However, they have recovered some other pieces that could be useful in the years to come.

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Connor’s Corner: While Tulowitzki Fits, Gonzalez Does Not Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:20:11 +0000 Carlos+Gonzalez+Troy+Tulowitzki+San+Francisco+rUY3TpSfSyelAll the buzz surrounding the Mets this week as the trade deadline fast approaches has been about Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. I wrote extensively yesterday about why he is a good trade target for the Mets. However, reports indicate it is far more likely the Mets acquire Tulowitzki’s teammate, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

No one is going to argue that Gonzalez is anywhere near the level of Tulowitzki, but there are varying opinions on him. On the surface, his numbers are outstanding for his career. In 2013, he hit .302/.367/.591 with 26 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and six triples in only 110 games. From 2010 through 2013, Gonzalez hit .311/.370/.556 with a 133 OPS+.

Those are outstanding numbers and make Gonzalez appear to be the perfect outfield bat for the Mets to acquire. While he will not cost quite the package that Tulowitzki would in a trade, his cost will presumably be very high. And unlike with Tulo, he is a player the Mets have to pass on.

Many reporters and fans have made a big deal about Tulowitzki’s road numbers. Yet, considering his position, his road numbers are still outstanding. For Gonzalez, they are quite concerning.

Away from home, Gonzalez has hit .260/.315/.441 in his career, compared to .333/.365/.546 at Coors Field. On the road, that’s a 102 wRC+, or just two percent better than league average. For left fielders, that is just a tick above average. Unlike Tulowitzki, who had a 118 wRC+ on the road, Gonzalez’s bat doesn’t translate away from Coors Field. Both clearly suffer on the road, but even so, Tulo is still 50 percent better than the average at his position, while Gonzalez hovers at just around his own positional average.

On the road, Gonzalez strikes out much more frequently, hits more ground balls and fewer line drives, and sees far fewer of his fly balls leave the park. In Coors Field, Gonzalez sees an astounding 21 percent of his fly balls leave the park (compared to a 9.7 percent league average). On the road, that drops to 15.6 percent.

Although he had a fantastic season last year in which his splits were reversed, the sample size on those numbers isn’t big enough to say anything definitively. Plenty of players hit against the platoon split or against their ballpark’s tendencies for an entire season, but that doesn’t mean they have necessarily overcome that obstacle. For Gonzalez, it is surely a fluke.

To make things worse, Gonzalez is having his most disappointing season to date, batting .244/.293/.437 (well below league average) with ten home runs in 63 games. On the road, he is hitting .169/.234/.346. (That’s still better than Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching, if that’s at all comforting.)

On the financial side, Gonzalez’s contract is much shorter than Tulo’s with only three years and $54 million left, but that is still a big commitment for the big question mark Gonzales is. The average annual salary ($18 million) on that deal is close to what Tulowitzki will be paid.

If the Mets are going to give up Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, which they probably would in a Gonzalez trade, they need to get a well above average bat. The two clear positions to upgrade, at least if Daniel Murphy remains, are left field and shortstop. If you plug in an average hitter in left field, you almost have to acquire a star shortstop with the way this year’s offense has struggled. Who is out there to fit that bill? The only two obvious candidates are Ben Zobrist and Troy Tulowitzki, and not much else. You still have to give up a big package. In fact, you then have to do it twice. If the Mets are going to give up big pitching prospects, it has to be for someone who will give you consistently above average production.

Gonzalez is just not that player.

(Note: Statistics are as of 10:00 p.m., July 29) Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst

mmo presented

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Connor’s Corner: Why Tulowitzki Makes Sense For Mets In Right Deal Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 Tulo and the Mets -- a match made in heaven?

Tulo and the Mets — a match made in heaven?

Jeff Passan put a match to the impatience of Mets fans yesterday, reporting that the Mets are “prepared to offer” Noah Syndergaard in a deal to acquire Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Passan did not say the Mets had offered a deal involving Syndergaard, only that they would be willing to part with him in a trade for Tulo. Even that made headlines and divided the Mets fanbase.

There is a “right deal” for almost every player out there. Most trade proposals from Mets fans are “the right deal,” but they are almost always too light (except for that WFAN caller yesterday who suggested DeGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Gee…). The reason for that is quite simple: fans always assign way too much value to their own prospects. In the broader picture, a deal that looks fair to the rest of the league will almost always look unfair to the team giving up its top prospects, at least according to its fans.

The Mets have roughly five big-name, tradeable pitchers in the organization right now: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, and Jon Niese. These pitchers can be broken down into categories. If the team deals Syndergaard or Wheeler, they may be able to get away with not giving up another pitcher from that group of five. Otherwise, I see two from that group being dealt.

As highly rated as he is and as highly as I think of him, Noah Syndergaard is the odd man out. DeGrom has been a beast in 14 starts, showing nasty stuff. Wheeler has shown flashes of being really good and can be, at minimum, a dependable league average pitcher. Gee and Niese have done the same, with Niese often being well above average. Montero hasn’t given me much to grasp on to, but again, if you dealt him, you would need to give up another pitcher from that group. (And of course this is all theoretical.)

Falling in love with prospects is a dangerous game. The odds are stacked against them, even those in the top of the rankings. Take a look at this study by Royals Review, which looked at the success rates of top 100 prospects (Baseball America). It categorized players as busts, successes, or stars based on their WAR. If a player was below average, he was labeled a bust, and up it went from there. Even at the top of the list, the likelihood of success, and stardom, was slim, especially for pitchers. Take a look:

Decile_Pitchers_Table (1)

Syndergaard was recently ranked number 13 overall by While there are no other major midseason lists out there right now, it is safe to say, considering Syndergaard’s performance through four months in Triple-A, that he falls in the 11-20 range. Should the Mets really reject a trade for a superstar in favor of a player who has less than a 40 percent chance of being above average? The percentage may be even lower for prospects who have struggled at Triple-A the way Syndergaard has. Mets fans are exposed almost exclusively to news of their own prospects, so in our own bubble, they are often almost sure stars. There isn’t anything wrong with that… until it is time to make a deal.

Every Met fan salivates over the possible rotation next year, but even without Syndergaard, it still looks incredible. Say the Mets deal Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Gabriel Ynoa, and Logan Verrett. Take a look at the Mets rotation next year (assuming Colon is traded) without Syndergaard.

  1. Matt Harvey – Ace
  2. Jon Niese – Above Average
  3. Jacob deGrom – Above Average
  4. Zack Wheeler – Average to Above Average
  5. Dillon Gee – Solidly Average
  6. Waiting in the wings: Rafael Montero, Steven Matz

That extra group “waiting in the wings” sure looks a lot less appealing than it otherwise would with Syndergaard, but at the end of the day, only five pitchers are going to make the rotation. It would be a tough decision to give up Syndergaard, but to get the big bat Mets fans are clamoring for, they must give up a big package.

*   *   *

There has been so much debate over whether Troy Tulowitzki is worth it, his home-road splits, his contract, and more. Let me put it simply: he is, without question, worth a hefty haul.

When healthy, Tulowitzki is a top ten position player. This season, he is second in fWAR only to mike Trout with a 5.1 mark. He leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He has hit 21 home runs, put up an ISO of .263, and has played tremendous defense to boot. This guy is legit.

There will, of course, be debate over the effects of Coors Field on his statistics. There is no doubt that the hitting environment there contributes to his incredible numbers, so let’s take those out of the equation for a minute. Before we look at his road numbers, keep in mind one thing: his numbers will likely be better than this. Hitters always do better at home than on the road, so even if Tulowitzki really is only as good as his current road numbers suggest, his statistics will be better with half of his games at Citi Field. For his career, here are Tulowitzki’s road numbers:

.274/.349/.469, 480 G, 77 HR, 94 2B, amounting to an 84 tOPS+

That looks somewhat disappointing when compared to his home splits, but in reality, those statistics are still incredible for a shortstop. Here are the shortstops who have equaled his road OPS (.818) this year:

Now here are those who have done it in any single season since 2010:

Even on the road, Tulowitzki is an incredible hitter for his position. His 118 wRC+ away from Coors Field shows he is well above average for the league (not the position) when not aided by the thin air of Colorado. Getting a league average 100 wRC+ from a shortstop is rare, but being 20 percent higher is extremely hard to come by, and Tulowitzki has done it consistently.

The next two hurdles are his health and his contract. Looking over his injury history, it is easy to say he is fragile. While I am not going to say anything either way on this, I will point out that a few of his injuries (like a cut he got on his hand) aren’t the type that reoccur frequently, and almost ll of his injuries are in different body parts. It is hard for any of us as average fans to say that Troy Tulowitzki‘s bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles are ALL physiologically more breakable and tearable than the average baseball player. Being frequently injured does not mean you are injury prone. If you are constantly injuring your legs like Jose Reyes is, then it may be safe to say you are injury prone. However, as someone who doesn’t have a medical degree and hasn’t done tests on Troy Tulowitzki, I am not going to say one way or the other.

Circling back to Tulowitzki’s numbers in relation to his contract… Tulo is owed $20 million each year through 2019, and another $14 million in 2020 with a $15 million team option ($4 million buyout) for 2021. If the option is declines, he will end his contract at 35 years old. Based off his road batting splits, he is likely a 5-6 WAR player going forward, even while playing at Citi Field. In the free agent market, the value of 1 WAR worth of production is north of $5 million. (Some have even pinned it at $7 million.) For most of the contract, which will only last until his mid-30s, he will certainly be worth the deal.

Adding Tulowitzki and another above average outfielder could push the Mets into playoff contention next season. With a full season of Jacob deGrom, a new-and-improved Travis d’Arnaud, a great platoon at first base, and a good bullpen from Day One, the Mets will likely see improvements from the players currently on the active roster. Then add in Matt Harvey. Getting him back will be equivalent to trading for an ace, but without the loss of other pieces. Add in Tulo and another piece and the Mets are suddenly a dangerous team.

It is always extremely tough to part with players you have grown to like and be hopeful for, but the Mets offense desperately needs help, and shortstop is the perfect place to upgrade. There will never be a perfect player out there and if there were, why would that player’s team trade him? There are going to be lumps and flaws with almost every player the Mets acquire. And the fewer lumps and flaws there are, the more the Mets will have to give up. Tulowitzki isn’t perfect, but he has a very favorable balance of flaws and potential rewards and most importantly, he makes the Mets substantially better.

Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst


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Five Mets Featured On MLB’s Midseason Top 100 Prospects Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:52 +0000 bryan green released its latest set of prospect rankings tonight, and the Mets have five prospects who made the cut.

Noah Syndergaard (13), Kevin Plawecki (67), Brandon Nimmo (68), Michael Conforto (86), and Dominic Smith (88) each made the overall top 100 list.

Here’s some of what the staff had to say about each of them:


Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65

Syndergaard is a classic power right-hander, and he uses his big frame to throw downhill and induce ground balls. His fastball regularly reaches 98 mph and runs inside on right-handed hitters. Syndergaard’s 12-to-6 curveball is his best secondary pitch, though his changeup has the potential to be a third plus pitch in his arsenal. He has excellent command and posted a 4.75 K-to-BB ratio in 2013.

Many expected Syndergaard to follow the path that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler blazed and reach Queens early this summer. But some minor injuries and on-field struggles at Triple-A Las Vegas slowed down Syndergaard’s progress this season. He still profiles as a front-line starter and remains on track to make his Major League debut at a younger age than either Harvey or Wheeler.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 35 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 5

Plawecki has impressive bat control and a knack for making contact. His swing is built more for hitting line drives than for power, but his natural strength gives him a chance for more pop in the future.

Defensively, Plawecki is a good receiver and earns praise for his leadership skills. He has an average arm and his game calling is making strides. Plawecki’s play has alleviated pre-Draft concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate, and he now looks like he’ll be more than capable of being an everyday player in the big leagues.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Despite his atypical background, Nimmo has a mature approach at the plate. He lines balls from gap to gap and he knows how to work a walk. Nimmo’s swing has a little length to it, and he has been prone to high strikeout totals early in his career.

Nimmo is a center fielder now, but his average speed may eventually force him to into an outfield corner. His game still needs refining, but Nimmo’s on-base skills and quick hands give him the potential to be a solid Major Leaguer in time.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Conforto has athletic bloodlines, as his father Mike was a Penn State linebacker and his mother Tracie (Ruiz) won two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Olympics. Conforto picked baseball, which proved to be a wise choice as he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2013 and was drafted 10th overall a year later.

Conforto’s signature tool is his left-handed power, which could produce 25-plus homers on an annual basis once he gets to the Major Leagues. He doesn’t get cheated at the plate, taking a big uppercut hack that produces nice loft on his drives.


Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Smith has the potential to hit for both average and power. His hand-eye coordination and advanced pitch-recognition skills allow him to get on base often, while still driving balls.

Smith is a below-average runner, limiting him to first base. He has all the skills necessary to develop above-average defense at the position. Even if Smith’s defense does develop as expected, there will always be pressure on his bat. Scouts are confident he will provide enough offense to make him a solid Major Leaguer in time.

There were a few notable snubs on the Mets’ side, including Dilson Herrera, Steve Matz, and Rafael Montero. Remember, Montero pitched 20 innings for the Mets earlier this season, but did not lose his rookie eligibility, so he was still eligible for this list. Montero was ranked 85th going into the season. It’s interesting that Syndergaard’s struggles only cos him three spots on the list, but Montero’s knocked him off it completely.

Overall, however, this list includes four first-round picks by the Mets (all but one of Sandy Alderson’s first-round selections) and one trade acquisition.

If that doesn’t fire you up, perhaps this will. Along with’s new top 100 list, they also released an updated top 20 list for each team, and it includes three new draftees or acquisitions. Glancing over the top ten, you could make a case for almost all of them to be in the overall top 100 list. Here is the list:

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Michael Conforto
  5. Dominic Smith
  6. Rafael Montero
  7. Amed Rosario
  8. Dilson Herrera
  9. Steve Matz
  10. Gavin Cecchini
  11. Milton Ramos
  12. Gabriel Ynoa
  13. Cesar Puello
  14. Cory Mazzoni
  15. Jack Leathersich
  16. Marcos Molina
  17. Blake Taylor
  18. Michael Fulmer
  19. Matt den Dekker
  20. Logan Verrett

And there you have it.

MetsMerizedOnline will be releasing its own official top 25 Mets prospects tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for that, and tons of other minor league analysis here and at

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Connor’s Corner: Appreciating Lucas Duda Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:00:45 +0000 lucas duda

Lucas Duda came through once again yesterday, hitting another crucial home run that would be the difference in the game. The home run was his 18th of the season, tied for sixth best in the National League and second among National League first basemen. Going into yesterday’s game, he was tied for 16th in all of baseball in wRC+.

In roughly the same sample size as this season, Duda was a sub replacement level player in 2013. This year, he has been worth 2.2 wins above replacement, averaging out to around 3.3 if he were to keep this up over a 150 game stretch. That’s a solidly above average player, one who would fetch $10-15 million annually on the open market*. The point is, this guy has been really good.

Say what you will about Duda’s approach at the plate under Dave Hudgens versus Lamar Johnson, but the strategy has been constant the entire season. Johnson has been the one tasked with preaching the very same system Hudgens taught, except to the minor leaguers. If anything, the way that has been delivered to the players has changed drastically since Hudgens’ firing (which his writing on hitting strategy could tell you).

The Mets have put Duda in a position to succeed this season by not asking him to be more than he is. As of now, Duda is a platoon player. As much as his production against right-handers is going to tempt people to want him to face lefties as well, that shouldn’t happen. Duda has proven throughout his career that he can’t hit lefties.

I’ve said all along that Duda could make partner with someone else to make a very productive platoon at first base. As someone who hits righties, Duda will play the vast majority of games. All the Mets need is find someone who is reasonably productive against left-handed pitching. They seem to have found that player in Eric Campbell. Campbell has hit lefties well this season (.3328/.357/.449) and can obviously play a host of other positions when not at first base.

What really ate into Duda’s numbers last year was his time against lefties. He got almost twice the exposure to lefties as he has this year. When you hit well under .200 against lefties, even in a somewhat limited sample, that’s going to eat into your overall statistics pretty badly. Against right-handers last year, Duda hit a very respectable .240/.369/.462, not the numbers he has put up this season, but very solid nonetheless. Duda having job security and a fresh voice in his ear in Lamar Johnson, the Mets are setting him up for this type of season.

If there is one player who the Mets have handled perfectly this season, it’s Lucas Duda. They put their trust in the right first baseman, even if it meant having to play someone else a quarter of the time. There is no shame in a platoon, especially if it produces these kinds of results.

As a team, the Mets have a 130 wRC+ from first basemen this season. Who is that tied with? None other than the Chicago White Sox, who spent close to $70 million on Jose Abreu this offseason.

The Mets made a gamble when they traded away Ike Davis and committed to Lucas Duda once and for all, but boy has it paid off.

*1 WAR has been worth roughly $5 million in free agency.

MMO footer

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Ben Zobrist: The Best Alternative To Castro And Baez? Sat, 19 Jul 2014 20:25:29 +0000 Ben Zobrist: 2015 Met?

Ben Zobrist: 2015 Met?

The Mets have two clear-cut positions to fill by Opening Day 2015: shortstop and left field. The Mets have gotten very little in the way of offensive production from those positions. That is both good and bad. While it hurts them this season, it gives the Mets two well-defined areas they need to improve upon.

Given the run differential, production at each position, and prospects in the minor league system, this team could definitely finish at or above .500 this season. In fact, given their run differential, they should be above .500. Seeing as run differential is actually more predictive than a team’s current win-loss record, this means good things are likely in store for the second half. As much as Mets fans will point to some stretches of the season to point out the mediocrity of this club, they really aren’t that far away from being a playoff team.

Say the Mets finish 81-81 this season. They will get one of the best pitchers in baseball back in Matt Harvey. After that, they are really only one or two players away from being a contender. With the continued growth of the bullpen, Jacob deGrom, and Juan Lagares, that certainly seems possible. In my opinion, the Mets would be best off substantially upgrading at both positions

. They probably don’t need to fork over too many top prospects for a superstar, and given the financial state of the club, that doesn’t seem likely.

At shortstop, the two obvious candidates seem to be Cubs shortstops Starlin Castro and Javier Baez. Both are young and under team control for a while. Castro has played at an All-Star level for a number of years, and Baez certainly seems primed to do the same. With the Cubs reeling and possessing a plethora of shortstops and third basemen, a Mets-Cubs partnership couldn’t be clearer. However, for some reason or another, the Cubs are extremely reluctant to even consider trading either Castro or Baez. They may even have plans to move Castro to third base in order to keep him and Baez.


There are other solid options on the market for the Mets, however, albeit not as ideal as the two players from the Cubs. One in particular, Rays shortstop/second baseman Ben Zobrist, may be the next best option.

Zobrist, 33, is certainly not the player he used to be. In 2009, he hit .297/.405/.543 with 27 homers, 17 steals, and an 8.5 fWAR. Last year, he hit .275/.354/.402 with 12 homers, 11 steals, and a 5.5 fWAR, still among baseball’s best middle infielders. He is on pace to put up comparable numbers this season. The obvious flaw with Zobrist is his age. He just turned 33. He’s not exactly the budding young star (but again, he is a great player) the Mets are looking for, but he is on a completely different planet than Ruben Tejada, and his game may be more transferrable with age. His baseball smarts as well as his ability to get on base at a high clip aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it is only the ages of Castro and Baez that make them more attractive options than Zobrist, who is a much better player than both of them. In fact, an older team looking to make one last run would definitely choose Zobrist over Baez or Castro. It is just their ability to stick around for a long time that make them slightly better options for the Mets.

Financially, Zobrist is owed about $11 million through next year, which is a team option. Unlike many other trade targets, the winning bidder won’t be saddled with a cumbersome contract. $7.5 million, his salary for next year, is quite a steal. He would get twice that on the open market.

No, this isn’t exactly the type of player that is going to be the face of the Mets for the next ten years, but neither is Castro, and it is a move that will make the Mets a significantly better team. MLB shortstops have a combined 87 wRC+ this year. As a team, Met shortstops have put up a wRC+ of just 78. By comparison, Zobrist’s is 117. And on top of that, he has a good glove, versatility (he can play short, second, and right field), and is a good baserunner. Getting league average production out of the shortstop position is difficult (only seven teams have done it this season), and getting well above average production is even more impressive.

No doubt, the Rays will charge a premium for Zobrist. They have shown time and time again how much they value him. However, any package for Zobrist will not be as hefty as what the Cubs will demand for Castro because of the age difference and Castro’s team-friendly contract. If the Rays fall out of the AL East race and decide to sell, there may be another almost-perfect option for the Mets to look at.

(Photos: Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports)

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Montero Tosses Four Scoreless Innings In Rehab Outing Mon, 14 Jul 2014 23:35:34 +0000 montero (1)

Rafael Montero completed his second minor league rehab start today with the St. Lucie Mets, tossing four scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and one walk while striking out four batters.

Montero has been battling an oblique strain for a couple of weeks now. In mid-June, he left a start for Las Vegas after only five pitches. On July 9, Montero allowed one run in two innings for the Gulf Coast League Mets in his first rehab start since the injury.

In 20 innings with the Mets this season, Montero recorded a 5.40 ERA, walking 11 batters and striking out 17 before being sent down.

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First-Rounder Michael Conforto Signs Contract At Citi Field Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:37:31 +0000 michael conforto

Michael Conforto was at Citi Field today to sign his new contract with the Mets. Also on hand were Scott Boras and fellow client Matt Harvey.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the Mets reached an agreement with their first round pick and that the official announcement is pending a physical.

Conforto, a 21-year-old outfielder from Oregon State, was selected by the Mets with the No. 10 overall pick during the first round of this year’s Amateur Draft.

They initially agreed to a bonus two weeks ago, but were still working out the details to a basic agreement.

Conforto is considered to be very polished and is expected to move quickly through the system with some projecting a major league debut as soon as 2016. If there’s any truth to that, expect Conforto to be at Savannah when this season comes to an end.

(Joe D.)

July 3

Here’s the latest on the negotiations between the Mets and their top draft selection Michael Conforto.

The No. 10 overall pick agreed to a signing bonus at precisely $2.97 million slot value about two weeks ago, but they are still negotiating the terms of the deal according to what GM Sandy Alderson told Jon Heyman on Wednesday.

“There are three or four [mostly] non-financial clauses that we are talking about,” Alderson said, explaining the delay. ”I certainly expect this deal to get done.”

The deadline for signing players selected in this Friday, July 18.

(Joe D.)

June 19

Jim Callis of Baseball America has reported the Mets have agreed to terms with first-round pick, Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto, to a deal with a bonus of $2,970,800, the exact slot value assigned to that pick.

However Conforto immediately denied the report on Twitter saying:

Getting a lot of texts and phone calls asking if I have signed. I have not signed. Still in Redmond with my family and friends.

We will keep you updated…

Although he is a college bat with less leverage than a high school player, it was thought that Conforto and agent Scott Boras could get more than the slot value, but that did not happen.

In his junior season with Oregon State, Conforto hit .345/.504/.547 with seven home runs in 59 games. In 182 total college games, Conforto has a batting line of .340/.463/.557 with 31 home runs, 44 doubles, and four triples. He was considered by many experts to be the best college hitter in this year’s draft.


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MMO Game Recap: Mets 6, Rangers 5 Sat, 05 Jul 2014 03:55:52 +0000 In one of their longest nine inning games in franchise history, the New York Mets (38-48) beat the Texas Rangers (37-49) by a score of 6-5 tonight at Citi Field.

From the start, the game looked like a nightmare in the making, as Jonathon Niese was knocked out of the game after less than an inning of work by a line drive after giving up a leadoff home run to Shin-Soo Choo. X-Rays came back negative on Niese, who reportedly only has a contusion.

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Mets

Already down a run and with his starting pitcher already out of the game, Terry Collins brought in Carlos Torres to eat a few innings. Collins pushed him very deep, as Torres went 4.1 innings, throwing 81 pitches and allowing two runs on five hits. Torres also walked one and struck out four. Torres has now thrown 113 pitches in four days. That was just about as much as you could ask for in that situation from Torres.

The Mets countered Choo’s first inning home run in the bottom half, scoring three runs. Bobby Abreu got it started, driving Curtis Granderson in with a single to tie it up, followed by a Lucas Duda two-run homer.

After the Rangers narrowed the lead in the third on an Alex Rios run-scoring single, Eric Campbell came through again with an RBI double, making it 4-2 Mets.

The Rangers worked their way back to tie the game at four with a solo home run by Adrian Beltre in the fifth and a Chris Gimenez ground ball to third in the seventh that scored a run. Eric Campbell misplayed the ball, allowing the run to score, a crushing blow to a weak offensive team. However, the Mets were not dead yet.

MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Mets

The Mets rallied in the bottom of the eighth. Bobby Abreu walked to lead off the inning, followed later on by an Eric Campbell single. With two on and one out, Travis d’Arnaud drove in both runners with an RBI double that went all the way to the wall in right field. d’Arnaud has had a hit in eight of nine games since returning from Triple-A, bringing his batting average to .205.

It was Jenrry Mejia who was charged with closing out the game. After shutting the door in the top of the eighth, Mejia gave up a run thanks to a walk, a passed ball, and a run-scoring hit by Adam Rosales. Mejia would finish the job, however, forcing a popup to end the game.

Starting Pitcher Breakdown

(Because of Niese’s injury, we will look at Carlos Torres.)

Carlos Torres

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.42.55 PM

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 11.41.24 PM

Yu Darvish

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 Win Probability Breakdown

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Top three plays:

  • Travis d’Arnaud’s two-run double (+0.295)
  • Lucas Duda’s two-run homer (+0.212)
  • Eric Campbell’s RBI double (+0.117)

Up Next: The Mets continue their series with the Rangers tomorrow at 7:15 PM with Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.88 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 3.70 xFIP) facing off against right-hander Colby Lewis (5-5, 5.71 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 4.47 xFIP).

(Photos: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

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Mets Mid-Season Report Card Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:15:58 +0000 At 37-45, the Mets are just over halfway through the 2014 season. So far this season, we’ve seen an exciting month of April, a dreadful May, and an only slightly better month of June. We’ve seen certain players play unexpectedly well and others not live up to expectations. From the players to the manager to the general manager, let’s dive into and evaluate the performance of each through the first half of the season.

Travis d’Arnaud  D: The top catching prospect hit .180/.271/.273 with three homers and only six total extra base-hits through 39 games certainly not what Mets fans expected from a prospect so highly touted. There really weren’t any positive signs for d’Arnaud on offense before his demotion. However, since his demotion, he has hit well in Triple-A and come back up to hit 7-for-19 through his first four games. d’Arnaud said it was all mental. Let’s hope he was right.

lucas duda USATSILucas Duda  A: As someone who has vouched for Lucas Duda since the beginning, part of me just wants to yell out “I told you so,” but I won’t. I don’t need to. The 28 year-old has exceeded expectations this year, batting .255/.347/.477 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles, and a 132 OPS+. Yes, he’s hitting 30 percent better than league average. Duda has proven he can be a top ten offensive first baseman, and has proven to be a great value at $1.64 million. Although it still makes more sense to sit him against left-handed starters, you could not have asked for much more from Lucas Duda.

Daniel Murphy  A: Murphy is having his best year since 2011, and at just the right time. With a year and a half left under Met control, he’s hitting peak value right at the point where trading him makes sense. Even if the team doesn’t decide to trade the 29 year-old, he has proven to be a reliable fixture at the top of the lineup, batting .301/.351/.417 with six homers, 19 doubles, and 11 stolen bases, making him an ideal leadoff or number two hitter on any team. Now that he is a tolerable defender, Murphy has elevated his overall value tremendously, and is currently sixth in the majors in fWAR among second basemen, ahead of names like Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano, and Ben Zobrist.

Ruben Tejada  D: Tejada gets on base, but has done nothing else this season. He hasn’t hit a lick this season, batting .240/.354/.304, about an “empty” a batting line as you can find from a player with a .350 OBP. While he has been swinging the bat well the past few weeks, he hasn’t proven that he’s the shortstop of the future. He may still be just 24 years old, but it makes more sense to have Wilmer Flores out there. Tejada has had his chance.

David Wright  D+: David Wright has been a huge disappointment this year. There is no denying that. The 31 year-old is hitting .277/.333/.396 on the year with just six home runs. Although he probably isn’t old enough for this to really be his final decline, this first half has been very concerning. The good news for Wright though is his injury won’t keep him out for an extended period of time and since the middle of June (June 15), Wright his hitting .357/.378/.643 with two home runs and six doubles.

curtis grandersonCurtis Granderson  B: Every week has brought relief over the Curtis Granderson signing. April had Mets fans feeling like they had just signed Jason Bay 2.0, but Granderson has eased those fears with a productive May and an outstanding June. Overall, since April ended, Granderson is hitting .270/.389/.476 with nine home runs, nine doubles, and a triple. Because Granderson’s April numbers were so bad, it may be a while before his season totals are respectable again, but Granderson has clearly turned it around in a big way.

Juan Lagares  A: Lagares is not going to be punished because of the injuries because he has hit so well when healthy. The big question coming into this season was “can this guy hit?” So far, he has given the Mets no reason to believe otherwise. Lagares is batting .290/.330/.414 on the season with two home runs, 11 doubles, and two triples. Those aren’t fantastic power numbers, but Lagares is also a center fielder, so that isn’t really expected. If Lagares can continue to post an OPS+ of 113 and play the fantastic defense he is capable of playing, the Mets have a center fielder for the next ten years.

Chris Young  F: As someone who supported the Chris Young signing, I have been rooting hard for him from the beginning, but there is no denying how awful he has been. He is posting very similar numbers to those from last year, not the kind of production the Mets gave him $7.5 million for. I would give him three more weeks of playing every day to prove himself, and then release him if he keeps hitting like this. With an already weak offense, the Mets can’t afford to sit around and wait for Chris Young to come around.

Eric Young Jr.  C: The SNY broadcast can post the Mets record when Young plays as much as they want, but he is still a fourth outfielder. Young has stolen 21 bases in 23 attempts this season, but hasn’t done much else. His 87 OPS+ leaves much to be desired on offense. Unlike Chris Young, Eric Young can provide speed in the field and basepaths when needed, meaning he still has a place on this team, just not as an everyday player.

Eric Campbell  B: The Mets finally gave a real chance to one of their Triple-A on base machines, and it has worked out beautifully thus far. Campbell is batting .316/.349/.443 (126 OPS+) in 33 games with the Mets this season. Just as valuable, however, has been Campbell’s ability to play multiple positions, acting as both a backup outfielder and infielder. Campbell is definitely a piece the Mets should hold on to.

Wilmer Flores  D: Flores hasn’t been given a fair shot at all this season, so it is probably also unfair to grade him, but I will nonetheless. Flores is hitting just .225/.253/.300 on the season, not the kind of production you would expect from your number two hitting prospect. That being said, he still deserves a two or three month trial as the regular shortstop before any concrete conclusions can be made.

bobby abreu mets winBobby Abreu  B: Who would’ve thought that it would be Bobby Abreu who would be arguably the most productive bench player on the Mets? With an excellent feeling for the strike zone, Abreu has still been able to play quite well, even at 40 years old. After temporarily stepping away from the game to pursue business ventures (with the intention of playing this year), Abreu has batted .280/.361/.409 for the Mets. He isn’t a 20 home run hitter anymore, but he is a good pinch hitting option for the rest of this season.

Zack Wheeler  C+: This year, we have seen the best and the worst of Zack Wheeler. At some points, he is on top of his breaking pitches and dominating, and at others, he can’t seem to find the strike zone. The occasional dominance, something we didn’t see much, if at all last season, has me hopeful that Wheeler can turn it around and become the mid-rotation starter he was pegged to be.

Bartolo Colon  B+: After three rough early starts, people were eager to jump on Bartolo Colon, but he has proven to be the dominant force he was last season. The 41 year-old is hitting has a 2.20 ERA in his last eight starts, going more than seven innings in five of them. He is going to get roughed up once in a while, but only because he doesn’t have overpowering stuff any more. At least for this year, the Mets have a top-of-the-rotation starter to replace Matt Harvey.

Jon Niese  A: Niese has been the most consistent Mets starter this year, not allowing more than three earned runs all season. After yesterday’s start, he has a 2.88 ERA in 103 innings pitched. He isn’t a strikeout machine, but he is pitching as well as ever.

Dillon Gee  B+: Gee has continued to be a very good mid-rotation starter, when healthy. He has improved on his already impressive season in 2013, bringing his ERA down to 2.73, his best since his rookie season.

Jacob deGrom  B: deGrom has certainly been a pleasant surprise this year. Although he was not one of the highly-rated, hyped-up pitching prospects, he has performed better than Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero. On the season, he has a 3.62 ERA in nine starts, which isn’t fantastic, but is more than what most people expected from him this year.

Jeurys Familia  A: Familia has finally come into his own out of the bullpen. Although he was once a top 100 prospect as a starter, he was always really destined for the bullpen, where he has been extremely effective this season. Through 41.1 innings, he has a 2.18 ERA, giving up only 6.5 hits per nine innings, and bringing his walk rate down to a more-than-manageable 3.3. Famiia looks like he will be a fixture in the Met bullpen for the next few years.

Carlos Torres  B: Torres was a really good find for the Mets. He pitched very well last season, working as a long man and sometimes as a middle reliever. This year, he has taken on a very similar role, going ias long as four innings in a single game. Torres has bested his solid 3.44 ERA from last year with a 3.21 mark this year.

Josh Edgin  A: Edgin has had his ups and downs in a Mets uniform, but this year can definitely be considered an “up.” The 27 year-old has been dominant in his somewhat limited time with the team, posting a 1.50 ERA in 20 appearances. He fits in nicely to the lefty specialist role vacated by Scott Rice.

Vic Black  C+: There is no doubt Black is getting good results on the mound. His 1.76 ERA this season will tell you that. However, his high walk rate (5.9 BB/9) is very concerning. He can’t go on like this, even if he continues to strike out 10.6 batters per nine. He needs to correct his control issues before we can be truly satisfied with his results.

jenrry mejiaJenrry Mejia  B: Mejia’s overall numbers might not be fantastic, but he has found his place in the bullpen. He definitely has nasty stuff, but he probably wasn’t going to be a great starting pitcher.m He does, however, have the tools to be a very good option in the bullpen. Since moving to the bullpen, he has a 2.57 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .235 batting average. As with Familia, Mejia looks like a pitcher who could be around for a while.

Daisuke Matsuzaka- B: Dice-K has been a dependable innings-eater and swingman. You can’t expect too much from someone in his role but he has exceeded expectations. He has had a few tough starts, but you can’t complain when one of your long men has a 3.23 ERA.

Terry Collins- D: Collins has made some horrendous blunders this season, from the benching of Juan Lagares to the mishandling of Wilmer Flores (which goes for both Collins and Alderson). His in-game managing skills are lacking. The only thing he has to hold onto right now is the fact that the players like him, and that should not be enough to warrant him keeping his job.

Sandy Alderson- C: Alderson has made some shaky moves and has mishandled the roster all season. He swung and missed with the bullpen in April, made a huge mistake with Chris Young. He, along with Collins, have set Wilmer Flores up for failure as well. He has had what appear to be solid signings (so far) in Colon and Granderson and the farm system is producing some promising prospects. While the overall direction of the franchise is moving forward in a positive way, Alderson has done a relatively mediocre job this season. He doesn’t deserve to be fired like Collins does, but this season sure isn’t helping his case.

mmo presented

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Thoughts on Flores Demotion, Shortstop and “The Plan” Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:43:52 +0000 wilmer flores

The Mets will send down infielder Wilmer Flores to Triple-A Las Vegas before tomorrow’s game to make room for Juan Lagares, who is coming off the DL. Lagares has been sidelined for a few weeks with a right intercostal strain.

Flores has received only sporadic playing time at shortstop, losing time to Ruben Tejada, who has a .228/.346/.299 batting line in 61 games. However, Flores has hit even worse, batting just .228/.256/.304 on the season. Nonetheless, while Tejada may have been the best short-term option (that’s not saying much), Flores is likely the best long-term option at shortstop, as his top 100 prospect status (Baseball Prospectus) would suggest.

Lagares, 25, is hitting .295/.337/.429 on the year, but has hit the DL twice already. This move leaves the team without a backup for Ruben Tejada at shortstop (although Eric Campbell may be able to play there in a pinch). Even more interestingly, the team now has six outfielders on the roster. Lagares, Eric Young Jr., Chris Young, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Bobby Abreu will all vie for two starting outfield spots over the next few weeks.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Another true head-scratcher here…

It’s amazing how Ruben Tejada has gone from being an unwanted pariah who was out of shape, lazy and unmotivated, to regain the Mets everyday shortstop job.

Does this speak volumes about Tejada?

Does it speak even more volumes about the future of Wilmer Flores?

Not really.

What this shows is that in three years the Mets still have no clue as to what’s happening at shortstop. They have not inched any closer to a more permanent solution and are still victims of their own lack of decisiveness and leadership on this matter.

Shortstop hasn’t suddenly fixed itself. Tejada is not the answer and still profiles better as a utility infielder and nothing more than that.

But these are the Mets, who often shroud their incompetence with the notion that this is somehow part of the plan.

The plan… I am really getting tired of hearing those two words.

This morning, one reader read a report that the plan was to keep building up the pitching and then putting together patchwork offenses year over year, like our fellow small market brothers Tampa Bay and Oakland.

That could be true, but as I responded to him and have now been saying for three years, the plan is as follows:

  • Keep payroll around $85 million and tread water as best as you can.
  • Invest in a bigger public relations department and pull out all the stops.
  • Hope for a Strawberry and Gooden like emergence from the minors.
  • Win some games, fill the park, and generate much needed revenue.

When that happens, maybe then the Mets can get payroll back over $100 million and bring in the caliber of players they need to take it all the way.

As far as I’m concerned, that has always been the plan… The plan according to Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

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