Mets Merized Online » André Dobiey http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Mets Back Among Top 15 MLB Payrolls http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-back-among-top-15-mlb-payrolls.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-back-among-top-15-mlb-payrolls.html/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 02:06:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205264 wilpon pepsi mets

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Mets payroll – which he calculates to be $134 million – currently ranks 13th in Major League Baseball. That puts them ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals.

It´s nice that ownership finally appears willing and able to sport a competitive payroll. Assuming the payroll is actually closer to the $139 million as calculated by Joe D. of Metsmerized Online for Opening Day, it will probably rank closer to 9th or 10th highest in MLB. Still, not what you´d expect from a NYC MLB franchise that just went to the World Series, but certainly not ridiculous anymore. Progress.

That said, this is still a very low risk payroll for ownership – even if the 2016 Mets have a disappointing season (an unlikely event) and fail to even contend for the playoffs deep into the season, let alone get there and advance.

Thanks to the national TV deal that kicked in back in 2014, each MLB franchise gets an additional $30 million per year in revenue that doesn’t cost them an extra cent. So, looking at the cost side, a $140 million payroll in 2016 basically equals a $110 million payroll for 2013 (when Mets opened the year at $93.6 million).

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Of course, attendance in 2016 figures to be somewhere in the 2.8 to 3.0 million range – up by well over 600,000 and compared to the 2012 through 2014 range. Even using conservative estimates that´s an extra $30 million in revenue right there. In reality, odds are that luxury seating sales are way up too, so the actual bump figures to be significantly higher.

Still, essentially, the Mets as an isolated entity figure to have roughly $60 million more in revenue (at the very least) compared to the 2013 or 2012 Mets which reportedly generated operating losses of $10 and $20 million with payrolls in the $95 million range. Do the math, and this pretty much is the “break-even” range for ownership.

And in case the Mets do make the playoffs again in 2016, they can generate a nice eight-figure profit again, which they reportedly did in 2015 and which they also managed to do in 2014 when payroll was at a 10-year-low of $85 million. Yet the extra TV money had already kicked in, which led to a reported operating profit of about $25 million – which fits right in with the reported losses in 2013 and 2012 if you do the math. And those profits can go right into ownership´s pockets.

And, most of all, SNY remains the group´s big cash cow. Reports had them generating an EBITDA of over $150 million last year. And that mainly due to getting the Mets local right at a bargain rate of $80 to $100 million below the actual market value. These profits entirely can be used for debt management or can be distributed among owners, assuming some money is left after debt and interest payments.

So, yes, on surface, Mets payroll finally looks fine again. Yet, digging deeper, this remains a rather conservative and low risk figure. SNY is basically a legal money-printing machine that can ultimately help ownership to restore its Mets related wealth – by keeping and not selling the team and the majority shares of SNY which are closely linked together. The Mets are relevant again and can afford to compete in their market which should appease even their harshest payroll critics over the years.

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Featured Post: Can The Mets Win 90 Games As Currently Constructed? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/featured-post-can-the-mets-win-90-games-as-currently-constructed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/featured-post-can-the-mets-win-90-games-as-currently-constructed.html/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2016 17:45:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203266 darnaud conforto

Cameron asks…

It looks like the Mets have done all of their heavy lifting for the offseason. Can they win 90 games again in 2016 without a bat like Yoenis Cespedes on the roster?

Dr. Dooby replies…

While bringing back Yoenis Cespedes would likely have increased the odds for more wins in 2016 it wasn’t a slam dunk. The severe risk attached to that type of player as he approaches his mid 30s makes any deal beyond 3 or 4 years highly volatile. Especially for a team that is unable to risk 25 percent or more of its payroll as a “sunken cost”. Cespedes is an above average regular, but certainly not a “franchise caliber” star player you´d want to sign to a long term deal.

In my estimation, this current Mets roster – as it is – looks like a 90-win team on paper and in conservative projections. And since there is no Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer or Giancarlo Stanton star player in there who is expected to carry the load pretty much by himself as a 6+ win caliber player, it´s a far less riskier projection than for top-heavy teams that are strongly dependent on good health to a few elite performers and whose seasons can easily be derailed. That is less likely if your strength is in quality depth – even with a lack of star power. It´s easier to replace a solid 3-win player than it is to replace an elite-level 7-win player if you have a 90-win outlook.

Basically, under normal circumstances, the 2016 Mets should win between 85 and 95 games with 90 as sort of a mid-range expectancy, assuming standard performance, no rash of catastrophic injuries and no major breakouts.

You would expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard to perform like they did in 2015, and it’s not unreasonable to see all three perform significantly better and at top twenty pitching levels. Now, if one or two of these three steps up towards elite level, then the Mets´ win expectancy increases as well. Same for the offense which figures to be average and has a lot more depth now than it had entering 2015 – which eliminates the risk of playing AAA lineups extensively.

Thanks to their scheduling advantage and pretty safe outlook, I´d bet on the 2016 Mets at the very least winning a Wild Card spot, if not repeating as the NL East champions.

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MMO Mailbag: Should The Mets Trade Jon Niese? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mmo-mailbag-should-the-mets-trade-jon-niese.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mmo-mailbag-should-the-mets-trade-jon-niese.html/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2015 16:53:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201359 niese jon

Tyler asks…

Why is Jon Niese still on this team? They should have traded him two years ago but now it’s even more important to get rid of him and put that $9 million dollars to better use. Thoughts?

Dr. Dooby replies…

The frequent calls to trade Mets left-hander Jon Niese to pick up some payroll flexibility are somewhat perplexing and even misguided. Most teams need 9 or 10 starting pitchers to make it through an entire season. That´s why all the “let’s trade Jon Niese” talk seems rather weird to me.

Niese started 29 games for the Mets in 2015 and allowed three or less runs in 19 of those starts. His peripherals all took a hit from his fine season in 2014, but Niese still had prolonged periods of effectiveness this past season.

Right now, Niese will be needed as the Mets’ number five starter for the 2016 season. Zack Wheeler will be an option by July in all likelihood, but odds are the Mets will still have to use 3 to 4 more starters to make it through the season. One as an emergency starter / long reliever on the major league roster and a couple of more at Triple-A who can come up and fill in when needed.

For now, the only three realistic and major league ready candidates for this role are Logan Verrett, Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero (if healthy). Eventually, Gabriel Ynoa, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo may emerge as candidates – but almost certainly not before July.

J.A. Happ – a pitcher who has put up nearly identical numbers to Jon Niese – just received a three-year, $36 million contract, so I don´t think you can get an adequate replacement for Niese at less cost. Maybe you can re-sign Bartolo Colon to a 1-year, $9 million type deal, but that’s merely replacing Niese at the same cost.

You will only be able to land lesser pitchers at lower cost. Sure, you can probably get Ryan Vogelsong, Aaron Harang or Kyle Kendrick for less than $5 million. But that’s a significant downgrade from Niese. Or you can look to sign someone like Justin Masterson, Mat Latos or Doug Fister to a one-year deal in a similar range to Niese and hope for a bounce-back. But I wouldn’t bet on any of them outpitching Niese either.

Niese is signed to a very modest and quite team friendly deal due to the club options. And his trade value isn’t really huge either as he’s getting paid pretty close to market value. So, why trade him? He won’t bring back a major piece. And replacing him would cost the Mets a similar amount of money.

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2015, The Year The Magic Came Back http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/2015-the-year-the-magic-came-back.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/2015-the-year-the-magic-came-back.html/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2015 20:36:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198957 harvey degrom syndergaard matz

I know it’s painful right now – but the future looks bright…

And so it has ended. The 2015 roller-coaster season came to a crashing halt on the franchise´s first ever November game. Yes, the team´s biggest flaws – infield defense and setup relief – were exposed in the World Series and especially late in Games 4 and 5.

The Mets got beaten by a deserving World Champion Kansas City Royals, the team that – including the playoffs – won the most games in baseball in 2015 with a unique mix of players, mostly in their primes. They were determined to win it all after falling short a year ago and came through by outplaying the Mets. Kudos to them.

And while losing the World Series stings and hurts a lot, especially in the fashion in which it happened, ultimately, we can look back at this season as a huge success for this franchise. Not just in terms of giving us the most entertaining, stressful, successful and exciting Mets season since at least 2000, but also due to its long term implications in various ways.

Financially, this season has led and will continue to lead to a massive shift in flexibility. Besides enormous playoff-related revenues, the Mets already saw their regular season attendance rise above 2.5 million for the first time in several years. And you can rest assured that this turnaround season will lead to yet another major spike in ticket sales for 2016.

Not only should the overall attendance figure improve significantly again, but especially expensive luxury seating figures to be in far higher demand than it used to be. Overall, this will create revenue streams that will finally create an option for ownership and the front office to try playing “Moneyball with money” after all those years of revenue and debt enforced austerity.

While the Mets don´t figure to ever operate under a large market type payroll structure again, as long as this ownership group remains in place, this will still have an enormous effect on payroll flexibility going forward. Thus, payrolls in the $115 to $145 million  range should be very reasonable expectations going forward without ownership really in danger of any significant financial risks in the process.

Not only will it allow the team to add more expensive players externally if needed. But it also puts the club in a good position to retain most of its current young core group of players that now got to sniff October – and November – for the first time in their careers.

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And beyond finances, if you take a step back and exhale after the painful World Series loss, this year has been a huge success in terms of structural roster construction too. Not only did Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Travis d’Arnaud prove that their strong 2014 rookie campaigns were no flukes. They actually improved further and established themselves as core players going forward.

Matt Harvey – amidst all the turmoil that he seems to constantly attract – had a remarkable comeback on the field and stepped up in a fitting way in Game 5. And most notably, three more exciting rookies, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Michael Conforto flashed a world of talent not only during their debut regular season – but also had several huge moments on the big post-season stage as well.

These seven young and talented assets will be re-joined by Zack Wheeler in 2016 and arguably form one of the best groups of young players that are under long-term team control in the game. The Mets control these fabulous eight for at least three and mostly 5-6 more years. It´s a starting point similar to the ones dynasties of the past have been built upon – like we saw in the Bronx, Atlanta or even to a lesser degree more recently in San Francisco. There´s no reason why the Mets shouldn’t be expected to be constant participants in October and even November Baseball at least throughout the rest of this decade, if not beyond.

Sooner than we’re used to, the off-season will get underway next week. While there are several question marks and spots that need to be settled, the foundation for many more successful seasons is in place. Today, this franchise – all things considered – seems to be set up better than it has ever looked in early November at any point over the past 25+ years. Unless the front office and ownership totally screw things up or a wave of miserable luck hits, this season has just been the opening of a long era of success. Years from now we will all look back at the 2015 season – smile and say to ourselves – that was the year the magic came back. Let’s Go Mets!

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An Open Letter To Sandy Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/an-open-letter-to-sandy-alderson-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/an-open-letter-to-sandy-alderson-2.html/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:15:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185389 citi field fans-bats-blog480

Dear Mr. Alderson,

We – the worldwide group of Mets fans – have gone through a lot. After two epic collapses in 2007 and 2008, we have patiently endured a slow and gradual rebuild that has essentially lasted six years.

First the “tear down” of “Los Mets” from 2009 through 2011. Then from 2012 through 2014 a gradual rebuild, focused on reducing payroll, adding young talent, and also developing the talent we already had in the farm system. It was for the long term “greater good” of the franchise and an ownership group that unfortunately is unable to finance a “large market” payroll in the largest market in the world.

We can certainly agree that the old ways of this Mets franchise did not work and – financial problems or not – things had to change.

We applaud you for your patience and a couple of very good trades during your first 4+ years on this job and understand that some moves over that time failed to work. It happens, but overall this looked like a very promising rebuilding. A team finally blessed with a strong farm system, a payroll with room for growth, and entering 2015, finally a strong nucleus of young talent that seemed major league ready and especially a young rotation looking like the envy of Baseball.

Of course, with contention, a “sit back & wait” approach isn´t as valid as during an extensive rebuilding. Yes, the injuries to a bunch of players, some key, has been a tough blow and it’s really stretched any depth that existed, beyond its limitations.

But it can´t be an excuse to just stand pat and let the team sink towards wherever it is that it’s sinking to.

You have used up our patience. It´s time to act. Or your legacy will forever be tarnished and remain incomplete and unfinished. And the dwindling number of patient and understanding Mets fans will approach just a scant few before this season is over.

There´s NO justification to keep running out an inept defensive team that doesn´t hit without doing something about it, day after day, sabotaging the young pitching you worked so hard to put together.

A solid defensive shortstop by trade is being forced to play third base. A young player, borderline capable of handling second or third base defensively, is forced to play an even more demanding shortstop. Some non-major leaguers with supbar hit and field tools have also played a lot at third base.

Furthermore, your veteran outfielder with the weak throwing arm is playing right field Your other veteran outfielder with the subpar range is playing in left field. Your center fielder is banged up and clearly in need of a two-week DL stint to recover, hopefully.

In a nutshell, your team needs help. And it needs help NOW before things spiral completely out of control.

If you don’t have the bats, at least Bring up better defensive fielders so at least basic plays are executed behind the extraordinarily good pitching. Put players into positions where they may succeed instead of setting them up for failure.

Finally, you need to think about whether this manager is still the right man to handle and guide your team. We’re talking about a manager who went 0-for-6 in making the playoffs in his two previous gigs (and his successors went a combined 4-for-6 in the seasons after). And so far, he´s now 0-for-4 as the Mets manager and is perhaps veering toward a fifth consecutive losing season – all on your watch.

Terry Collins may be a good soldier, and he’s no doubt been admirable during the rebuilding phase. But unfortunately he lacks the “winning aura” a young team needs from its manager.

Is Collins a good manager when it comes to handling a bullpen? Is he the right man to entrust your most valuable assets to, i.e. a young rotation for the ages? I think we both know the answer to that. It’s time for a new voice with a vision and message that will resonate with this young team. 

Mr. Alderson, it´s on you to consider some – if not all – of these things I mention, and to turn this thing around. No more excuses. Accountability. It’s time to act and make the right moves and stop ignoring the obvious.

Give this team and its strong pitching a major league defense and try to upgrade the offense as well. This early to mid season collapse is unacceptable and could have been avoided. It’s not too late to right this ship and save this season, but it will require swift action and a firm commitment on your part.

With Hope,

A Mets Fan Base That Wants To Believe Again

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MMO Mailbag: Where Are All Of Sandy’s Draft Picks? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-where-are-all-of-sandys-draft-picks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-where-are-all-of-sandys-draft-picks.html/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:59:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173898 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Devin asks…

Isn’t anyone the least bit concerned that as Sandy Alderson enters his fifth season as GM not one of his draft selections has made it to the majors yet and none are expected to be on the 2015 Opening Day roster? In the MLB Preview they pick Noah Syndergaard, Dilson Herrera and Steven Matz as three Mets prospects to watch in 2015, and neither of them are Sandy’s draft picks either. We’re all hoping to see Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud have breakthrough seasons in 2015, but again, none are Sandy’s draft picks. Take a look at the AL and NL and there are dozens of players from the 2011, 2012 and even the 2013 draft. 38 major leaguers have already come out of the 2011 draft from 28 different teams, none of course from the Mets. This obsession with drafting high risk, high school players in the top rounds hasn’t really worked out for us, has it?

Andre replies…

The upside with high school prospects usually is that they can still be taught and trained in a way that the organization feels confident about. And in general, the majority of drafted impact players in the majors have come from high school and not the college ranks in the past 15+ years or so.

While, the risk may be higher, the upside often is also higher than with college picks. Of course, the aspect of player DEVELOPMENT is far more important with HS or young IFA talent than it is with advanced college players.

Now, the downside is that it generally takes longer to develop HS talent than college players for obvious reasons. So, if you have to be willing and able to give HS picks 4-5 years to develop in general before they reach the majors and probably another year before they have an impact.

A team that´s not able to sport a “large market” high payroll may be more inclined to go after college talent early in a draft during a window of contention than a team with a large market payroll OR during a rebuilding. That of course, is besides taking the best player available early in a draft.

The Mets have – rightfully – focused on HS talent and getting IFA signed that they´re now trying to develop – hopefully with better success than in the two previous decades. The problems of finding a legit young middle infielder ever since Jose Reyes was signed as an IFA in 2000 can directly be traced to both having a sub par development system in place AND not really drafting many – if any – players with a middle infield upside defensively in over a decade (from 2001 through 2011). We have since brought in some high upside talent led by top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario.

And while it remains to be seen if and how successful the “Alderson” drafts have been – and pretty sure Alderson hasn’t really been actively involved in these but at best listened with interest – the fact that none of “his” picks has appeared in the majors isn’t a problem at all. Besides the focus on HS talent, several college players such as Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Cory Mazzoni or Daniel Muno could easily have appeared in the majors already. But mainly due to 40-man roster management and perhaps financial issues, they have been held back so far.

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MMO Mailbag: How Many Games Will The Mets Win This Season? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-how-many-games-will-the-mets-win-this-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-how-many-games-will-the-mets-win-this-season.html/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 12:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173637 lucas duda calebration

Mets Lifer asks…

Will the Mets finally have a winning season in 2015, or considering the lack of significant upgrades this offseason, are we to expect another 79 win season as FanGraphs projected for us? Do you think we can squeak into the postseason?

Andre replies…

An 85-77 record this year seems like a pretty reasonable mid-ground bet. Let me explain.

If not for Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and some serious early season bullpen meltdowns, the Mets were probably an 81-win team talent wise in 2014.

I expect David Wright and Curtis Grandersona to do a bit better collectively this season and that should be good for +1 or +2 wins.

Michael Cuddyer and his backups (Mayberry vs. L / Nieuwenhuis vs. R) should be better than the production we got from Eric and Chris Young, that too should be good fo for +1 win.

Matt Harvey over Dillon Gee is easily +1 or +2 wins even without Harvey in top form.

Our depth is going to be much better than last year and probably better than most teams. The Mets will open 2015 with 5 (!) consensus Top 100 MLB prospects at Triple-A who should all be ready to step in by the 2nd half of the season.

All of them seem like pretty good bets to be at minimum adequate replacements for whoever they need to replace. But it’s very likely that in some cases they may represent an upgrade. That´s a unique situation in MLB that no other team has going for them. I´ll say +1 win for that too.

One important thing to note is that the Mets have no individual player who seems like an irreplaceable superstar. Now, some of the Mets young arms could emerge as that – but for now I´m not projecting any of them to be that, at least in 2015.

The quality of the rest of the team should be similar. While Lucas Duda may regress slightly, Travis d’Arnaud figures to improve some to even that out.

Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy seem like sure bets to repeat what they´ve done recently. I don´t expect much from shortstop, so that remains unchanged.

Jacob deGrom may regress a bit but Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese should certainly see some improvement. Wheeler in particular finished last season very strong and could be in for a breakout season.

While I already added a couple of extra wins for losing Valverde and Farnsworth who cost the Mets more than that, I expect similar if not better results from the returning core bullpen group of Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin, backed up by the young arms at Vegas too.

Overall, that should allow the Mets to contend deep into the season.

However unless shortstop turns out better than expected, or Wright and Harvey return to 2013 levels, or someone else has a surprising big breakout, I don’t expect the Mets to be a playoff team this season, which is quite disappointing.

But to answer your question, yes I do believe the Mets will have a winning season and that they’ll play meaningful baseball for most of the season. After six consecutive losing seasons, that will represent progress. It could also be the prelude to bigger and better things in 2016.

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Baseball Prospectus Unveils Mets Top 10 Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/baseball-prospectus-unveils-mets-top-10-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/baseball-prospectus-unveils-mets-top-10-prospects.html/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 15:46:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169729 noah syndergaard

While former chief analyst Jason Parks now scouts future Cubs prospects for Theo Epstein & Co., Baseball Prospectus with their new minor league staff recently kicked off their off-season prospect coverage and is deep into the NL East. Today it was time for the Mets system with in-depth reports on what BP views as the “Top 10” in the system. As an add-on,  3 more prospects considered as “on the rise” but further away are mentioned just like 3 more “factors on the farm” that will likely have some sort of major league impact in 2015 but are ranked outside the Top 10. While BP does note that the Mets are seemingly being managed as a “small market” team in the large Metropolitan market of New York, they see a lot of promise & depth in the system plus among young major leaguers which are documented by a “Top 10 ages 25 and under” list near the end of the article.

“It’s a strong collection of both minor-league talent and young major leaguers that gives the Mets strong depth. The Mets may not have the best collection of prospects and young players in baseball, but you can make an argument for them having the most balanced farm system in the game.”

The Top Ten

  1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
  2. Steven Matz, LHP
  3. Brandon Nimmo, OF
  4. Amed Rosario, SS
  5. Kevin Plawecki, C
  6. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  7. Marcos Molina, RHP
  8. Dominic Smith, 1B
  9. Michael Conforto, OF
  10. Jhoan Urena, 3B

In their extensive reports – only available to BP premium subscribers – on these 10, the BP staff notes strengths & weaknesses of the prospects, the current “upside” and a more conservative “realistic” outcome plus assesses the “risk factor” of reaching the ceilings while also grading out tools.   Syndergaard headlines the group as arguably the Top SP prospect in the upper minors heading into 2015 with raw stuff that matches that of Matt Harvey & Zack Wheeler and only some fine-tuning needed to reach his ceiling as a true frontline SP. Even in the more conservative “real case” scenario, he should become a quality # 2/3 SP in time which is quite a bullish outlook. As a positive,  the following 9 prospects all project as  1st division regulars in terms of “upside” – with only Kevin Plawecki receiving a “high 5 solid average regular” upside but with a low risk profile. That already sets the Mets´ system apart from other systems that have been written on thus far.

It´s also apparent that BP is very much on board with the “upside” of lower level minor leaguers Amed Rosario, Marcos Molina, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto and Jhoan Urena who are quite a bit away but do have several tools & factors working for them.

As for prospects on “the rise”, BP notes:

RHP Casey Meisner

OF Champ Stuart

RHP Gabriel Ynoa

These three are all candidates for the Top 10 list next year and received positive reports from the various BP staff members / scouts – Meisner mainly as a body projecting and growing in a positive direction, Stuart for his present-day tools and Ynoa for his pitchability profile.

As factors on the farm, BP expects 2015 contributions from:

RHP Rafael Montero

LHP Jack Leathersich

OF Cesar Puello

Montero just missed the top 10 but lacks true above average offerings to project as more than a back-end type SP for BP though he should be ready for that role right away. Leathersich could help in a setup role shortly while Puello´s loud tools are hampered by his poor approach and lingering Biogenesis doubts.

All in all, BP completes their outlook with their

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Zack Wheeler
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Jenrry Mejia
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Brandon Nimmo
  7. Wilmer Flores
  8. Amed Rosario
  9. Kevin Plawecki
  10. Dilson Herrera

Note that Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud all weren´t eligible and BP in general went with the major leaguer over the prospect when players were viewed on an equal level.

Overall, it appears the Mets may have one of the deepest if not the deepest collection of young talent in the majors and minors overall right now. Beyond the young pitchers, there may be no future stars in there. But even a lineup loaded of first division, average to above average regulars would be quite a feat after essentially being barren in that spot for over a decade beyond stars Wright and Reyes.  Now, if only ownership could provide the funds to help not only take this to a top level but also sustain it…

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MMO Mailbag: Where Are Alderson’s Draft Picks? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-where-are-aldersons-draft-picks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-where-are-aldersons-draft-picks.html/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:34:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168259 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Gregg asks…

I read that the Mets have drafted a greater percentage of high school players during the last three drafts, and have also passed over many supreme college talents in doing so.With many players who were drafted in the years 2011-2013 playing big roles this postseason, aren’t you the least bit worried that Sandy Alderson is one of a few teams that have yet to see one of their draft picks make it to the majors?

Andre replies…

The upside with high school prospects usually is that they can still be taught and trained in a way that the organization feels confident about. And in general, the majority of drafted impact players in the majors have come from high school and not the college ranks in the past 15+ years or so.

While, the risk may be higher, the upside often is also higher than with college picks. Of course, the aspect of player DEVELOPMENT is far more important with HS or young IFA talent than it is with advanced college players.

Now, the downside is that it generally takes longer to develop HS talent than college players for obvious reasons. So, if you have to be willing and able to give HS picks 4-5 years to develop in general before they reach the majors and probably another year before they have an impact.

A team that´s not able to sport a “large market” high payroll may be more inclined to go after college talent early in a draft during a window of contention than a team with a large market payroll OR during a rebuilding. That of course, is besides taking the best player available early in a draft.

The Mets have – rightfully – focused on HS talent and getting IFA signed that they´re now trying to develop – hopefully with better success than in the two previous decades. The problems of finding a legit young middle infielder ever since Jose Reyes was signed as an IFA in 2000 can directly be traced to both having a sub par development system in place AND not really drafting many – if any – players with a middle infield upside defensively in over a decade (from 2001 through 2011).

And while it remains to be seen if and how successful the “Alderson” drafts have been – and pretty sure Alderson hasn’t really been actively involved in these but at best listened with interest – the fact that none of “his” picks has appeared in the majors isn’t a problem at all. Besides the focus on HS talent, several college players such as Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Cory Mazzoni or Daniel Muno could easily have appeared in the majors already. But mainly due to 40-man roster management and perhaps financial issues, they have been held back so far.

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Closer Role Should Be Jenrry Mejia’s To Lose http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/closer-role-should-be-jenrry-mejias-to-lose.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/closer-role-should-be-jenrry-mejias-to-lose.html/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 16:00:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167635 jenry mejia

Recently there’s been a lot of chatter about who the closer should be next season with some even suggesting trading Jenrry Mejia who was second in the NL in saves during the second half with 18, only one behind the Marlins’ Steve Cishek.

I have no problem with Jenrry Mejia as the closer entering the season. Keep in mind he pitched through a sports hernia.

Ultimately, the closer doesn´t necessarily have to be your best reliever. Instead, he has to be a reliever who doesn’t melt under pressure and who takes to the role well.

Even when he struggled, Mejia usually got that one big out. He reminded me a lot of K-Rod or John Franco for that matter. You´d look and there’d be runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. But a popup and a strikeout later, the game is over and the game has been saved. Others such as Braden Looper, or Bobby Parnell on the other hand, always seemed to have a knack for giving up the big hit in those spots.

The good thing for the Mets is that if Mejia struggles, they can always go to Parnell if healthy or Jeurys Familia or Vic Black who certainly have the power stuff to close. But they can also be very helpful entering a game in the 7th with a man on base in a key spot.

Mejia probably needs to start the inning and has to work on getting the first hitter out which he struggled with in 2014. This was his first half of a season as a fulltime reliever with a set role. If healthy, I see a lot of promise to improve going forward and becoming more shutdown closer than he was in 2014.

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MMO Mailbag: Will Mets Be A Playoff Team In 2015? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-be-a-playoff-team-in-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-be-a-playoff-team-in-2015.html/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:48:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166955 sandy alderson

Are the Mets as close as Sandy Alderson says we are, and will the Mets be in the post season in 2015? That is the big question.

This upcoming off-season is very crucial. There’s no reason that this team shouldn’t be a legitimate contender in 2015. And incremental moves could be key to getting the Mets over the hump.

I´m quite confident that 85 wins is highly likely barring any significant injury issues. But the difference between 85-86 wins and 90-91 wins is meaningful games in September vs. meaningful games in October.

The front office has to put the best possible 25-man roster on the field and put together a roster that meshes together well and doesn´t feature three first basemen or six outfielders, but no backup infielder at the same time.

Also, the F.O. should not underestimate the importance of defense up the middle. A Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores combo at second base and shortstop is absurd and would easily qualify as the worst middle infield tandem in the majors. It’d be a worst case scenario for our young pitching staff and totally counter to our effort to keep pitch counts down.

While Murphy has been a steady and solid contributor, and Flores has also shown promise, there’s no way that these two should play together frequently in 2015.

And while Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis could be solid 4th outfielders each, the Mets can´t hold a tryout camp at the corner outfield spot, but instead need to bring in a solid veteran corner outfielder with contact skills and some pop to bridge the gap until Brandon Nimmo and/or Michael Conforto arrive in 2016.

Michael Cuddyer probably is the best free agent fit out there. He likely won’t receive a qualifying offer from the Rockies so the Mets wouldn’t have to sacrifice their first round pick.

Considering that he’ll turn 36, he won´t be looking at more than a 2-year contract max, if that. Overall, this sort of aligns well with Nimmo and Conforto arriving a year or so from now and wouldn´t even block den Dekker from getting into the lineup more frequently if he performs above expectations.

Cuddyer is a professional hitter who averaged an .800 OPS on the ROAD from 2011 through 2013 and who is a very solid bat outside of Coors Field. A professional hitter with some pop who is not an easy out and who would lengthen the lineup.

That he´s also very good friends with David Wright also shouldn’t hurt. And while his defense is rather mediocre, you may ignore the metrics that get skewed due to the Coors Field factor which turns any outfielder there into a liability.

World Series titles really are impossible to plan. But over the next half a dozen years, I’d pretty much bet all I have on the Mets making the playoffs more often than the Yankees.

Anything below 3-4 playoff qualifying seasons would be massively disappointing for the Mets over that span and I don’t expect that to happen.

In closing, with a few small and effective moves, this current Mets team is in line for a run of sustainable success such as they’ve never experienced before, and infinitely better than making the playoffs just three times in the last 25 years.

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An Open Letter To A Mets Intern Regarding Terry Collins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/an-open-letter-to-a-mets-intern-regarding-terry-collins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/an-open-letter-to-a-mets-intern-regarding-terry-collins.html/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:22:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164816 terry collins

Dear unnamed Mets intern who reads sites like MMO and forwards meaningful messages to the PR department and all the way to ownership or the front office in the daily press clippings they receive, 

Once again, the New York Mets will be playing no meaningful games in September for the 6th straight season – and the 4th straight under Terry Collins as field manager. Obviously, we can agree that TC took over a difficult assignment. He took over a team at the beginning of a long overdue, financially motivated and just as well necessary rebuilding process in time for the start of the 2011 season.

It was refreshing at first to see a manager who didn’t throw one of his players “under the bus” every other week – unlike predecessor Jerry Manuel. It was refreshing that the team didn’t just quit late in the season even when games had less and less meaning. But looking at the overall body of work Terry Collins has to offer as manager are there enough reasons to bring him back for a 5th season ?

1. Overall success 

Well, the Mets are about to finish well below .500 again, probably within the 74 to 77 win-range that Collins´ Mets teams have been in for the previous three years. Regardless of whether you viewed Sandy Alderson´s “90-win” statement this spring as a “prediction”, a “challenge” or a “bad  joke”, it´s safe to say that the team hasn’t performed  up to even reasonable expectations.

If you review interviews of Sandy Alderson and ownership between last fall and this spring, you always heard the mantra of “be around .500 into August and then start a run from there”. So, in reality, the expectation was a .500 season and then – with a little late season luck – maybe a challenge for a Wild Card berth.

Well, the team has been hovering between 4 to 11 games under .500 for three months now. And while it has sure been a team in transition featuring several young players, can we really say with confidence that this manager has brought out the best in his players?

And Mr. Wilpon (Jeff or Fred), Mr. Alderson or whoever else may be reading this, at the very least I´m talking to you, the unnamed Mets intern who can now make a difference by asking or rather forwarding a simple question to his or her superiors: Do you really believe the answer is yes?  Seriously?

Honest Verdict: Thumbs down

2. Success in close games

Sure, Collins has been dealt a difficult hand. No question. All sorts of roster instability – be it at SS or in LF all season, the bullpen initially – and the unforeseen slumps of David Wright and Curtis Granderson. Part of the process, I understand and yes, the farm system looks very promising. Of course, Lucas Duda did better than expected – at least by non-insiders. And in Jacob deGrom, the Mets received an unexpected extra frontline arm too, besides steady progress from Zack Wheeler. In any case, the Mets – through games of September 2nd - sit at 21-26 in 1-run games. That – in part  - helps explain their actual record of 65-74 being three games worse than their Pythagorean record of 68-71. Who is to blame? A bad bullpen early in the season? Bad luck? Bad in-game managerial decisions? A manager failing to instill confidence in his players to thrive in big spots? All of it?

In any case, Terry Collins hasn’t been very successful in these situations. And considering that his 2011 through 2013 Mets teams went 70-78 in 1-run games, his overall Mets record in those situations is 91-104. Large enough sample size? We may argue at length about the impact of the manager in these situations, but I guess we can agree at the very least that this doesn´t boost his case, does it?

Honest Verdict: Thumbs down

3. History

Well, maybe patience is justified because of a track record of past success. After all, Terry Collins has managed two major league teams before. From 1994 through 1996, he managed the Houston Astros to three straight 2nd place finishes, ending with a total of 27 games over .500. And from 1997 through late 1999 he got to manage the Anaheim Angels to 84 and 85 wins before a collapse in 1999 led to his firing. Overall, his Angels teams finished at 17 games below .500.

All in all through almost six seasons, his teams finished 10 games over .500. So, he had average to slightly above average success as a manager elsewhere? Wait a second. The Astros – after his departure – won their division for three straight years at a combined 80 games over .500. Coincidence? The Angels – after his departure – finished a combined 26 games over .500, culminating in their 2002 World Championship. Interesting.

So, combined record for two TC led teams over a total of six seasons prior to joining the Mets: 10 games over .500. Combined record of the franchises in six seasons after he left: 106 games over .500

Honest Verdict: Thumbs down

4. Other aspects to consider

Collins is always willing to change his mind – sometimes within 24 hours. Collin Cowgill is our starting CF. Kyle Farnsworth is the team’s closer. The list goes on. It’s become common to assume the exact opposite of what Collins says he’s going to do in most Mets circles.

His comments regarding player development until a recent intervention by GM Sandy Alderson are downright scary – especially for a team that’s rebuilding. They revealed a disturbing inner philosophy that doesn’t bode well for the development and future success of these younger players.

His veteran players seem to like and respect him in general. Speaking of which, he’ll stick with an underperforming veteran far too long and to the detriment of the team’s performance, and he’ll keep playing that veteran until the front office either releases or demotes him.

He can be a loose cannon, often talking out of turn. Recently he said the team discussed moving Travis d’Arnaud to left field, resulting in the GM having to flatly deny that it was ever discussed and that there’s no chance of that happening.

No Mets players have thrown firecrackers at Mets fans or sprayed reporters with bleach under TC´s watch. 

His teams haven´t broken the franchise record in errors in one game so far, only coming close twice in almost four years.

Honest Verdict: Neutral  - If you really believe that these are valid aspects in the overall body of work / evaluation process.

5. Overall verdict 

With all due respect to Mr. Collins who seems like a nice person and a Baseball lifer who helped out this franchise in difficult times, I fail to see any valid reasons why he should return as manager of the Mets in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Mets have a former Mets fan favorite who showed grit, toughness and a strong desire to win as a player – something this current team might just be lacking –  paid his dues as a longtime minor league manager and has just won Manager of the Year honors in the PCL.

The vast majority of the fanbase would very much approve his appointment as Mets manager for 2015.

Is he qualified? Well who knows. What does a winning minor league record or a lot of respect by pretty much all the – mostly young -  players who have played for him really mean? I don´t know.

But looking at the verdict above, I see no reason why Wally Backman shouldn’t be a better choice as Mets manager in 2015 than Terry Collins. Especially considering that over 50% of the likely 2015 roster will already have played under Backman and know and respect him. But that´s getting ahead of myself. I´ll leave that to the PR or revamped ticket sales department to figure out.

I hope – in spite of the losing season – your internship is instructive and fun. After all, working in baseball should be lots of fun. Greetings and hopefully you find the time to read this and pass it along to the right people.

With best regards.

A Met fan hoping for meaningful games in September again.

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Show Us the Money?! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:20:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162095 Ever since the end of the 2009 season, financial issues have been a critical if not overriding factor for the New York Mets and their decision making.

saul katz and fred wilpon

Whether it was the $140+ million major league payroll loaded with “toxic” contracts for a sub .500 mostly veteran team, the subsequent decline in attendance and related revenue, possible effects of the Madoff-Ponzi-scheme, including the claim filed by the administrator of the Madoff estate or some heavy leveraging of the Mets and related entities with all sorts of debt – it´s often been Finances first. And Baseball a very distant second.

Interestingly enough though, very little has been written or said about the Mets´ CURRENT financial situation. Basically, the claim/reporting – based on what transpired over the past few years – has been “they have no money” and it appears, fans, writers and the public believe and seemingly have accepted the Mets will be operating as a de-facto small-market team for a while.

That has led to discussion whether the Mets almost have to trade Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy for financial reasons leading up towards 2015 to possibly clear the roughly $20 million that duo will be making next year. Or whether the Mets even have the ability to think about taking on a significant contract such as that of Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez.

Shouldn’t we be discussing whether Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero (and Matt Harvey next year) are sufficient replacements for Colon or if and when Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds or Dilson Herrera can replace Daniel Murphy just fine at 2B going forward?

Shouldn’t the discussion be more about the pros and cons of parting with several promising young pieces in exchange for Tulo or CarGo than killing the debate with a “but they are too expensive anyway” comment?

METS FANS STRESSED SADHave the Mets themselves – successfully – lulled fans & media into a perception and belief that the payroll permanently has to be frozen in the $85 million range that it has hovered around for three years now?

And that a main concern right now should be that just keeping together the current roster minus free agents Chris Young, Dice-K and Bobby Abreu will probably cost over $90 million already? (Adam Rubin did the math a few days ago.)

Isn’t there some new evidence that the Mets currently are operating well below of what their “break even” ceiling actually is? Isn’t it time to reevaluate the situation? Books can and have been written about financial reorganizing or how the Mets got into this situation. But hasn’t the situation changed over the past couple of years ?

Leaving out the profits SNY – an entity majority owned by the Mets ownership group – has been earning, the explicitly stated financial goal for the Mets has been to “break even.” Something which it has failed to do for at least the past 4 years.

Operating losses - according to what´s been available via a google search or explicit statements by people who should know – were massive in 2010 and 2011 (Losses of $51 and $70 million reportedly) and a lot less severe over the past two years (23 million in 2012 and 10 million in 2013) as the major league payroll was cut by about $50 million. While instead of the dramatic decline in attendance (including premium seats) from 2009 through 2011, the Mets from 2012 through this season have merely experienced something between regression or stagnation at a very low level.

Unfortunately, there´s no detailed balance sheet for the Mets entity or “sister” companies such as SNY that are publicly available. But from what there is to gather, the financial picture is looking a lot better now than it has in recent past. The 2014 payroll, minus Ike Davis, for now projects to end up just around or even below $85 million and thus between $5-10 million less than it has been for the past couple of years.

The decline in attendance has apparently been stopped in 2014. And at least thus far, every loan due against the Mets has apparently been refinanced. Most of all though, the new National TV deal that kicked in for the 2014 season flushes in an extra $25-30 million – not subject to revenue sharing  for every MLB franchise. This is EXTRA revenue for the Mets that wasn´t there in 2013 or in previous years.

Do the math yourself: You save between $5-10 million on payroll, attendance related revenue at worst freezes at a low level or even improves slightly and you also get an extra $25-30 million in new revenue flushed into your operation. That’s a $30 to $35 million turnaround compared to 2013 and 2012 where the team – on average – reported losses of $16.5 million per year.

Mets CubsSo, assuming all other expenses (revenue sharing, travel, interest payments on debt, minor league operations, etc.) have remained about the same – and there is no indication of any significant change here between now and the past couple of years – this makes it seem probable the 2014 Mets figure to make an operating profit somewhere between $15 and $20 million if the payroll ends up close to its projection of $85 million. And in turn, the “break even” payroll would really be in the $100 to $105 million range for 2014.

Going forward, if the Mets happen to look like a more promising team in 2015 behind a full arsenal of high end young pitching and maybe the addition of another bat, attendance and revenue figure to rise, further lifting the payroll ceiling going forward.

Considering expected arbitration raises going forward, the injury to Matt Harvey and IP limits for various young arms, it’s actually understandable why the Mets didn’t already approach that payroll ceiling this year. But as it is, there’s really no reason why the 2015 payroll shouldn’t at least be in the $100 to 105 million range. And doesn’t that even make for some positive PR regarding ownership, showing their determination to field a winner?

Thus, trading Colon and / or Murphy should be BASEBALL decisions first and foremost. Just like acquiring a Tulowitzki or another high priced player should mainly be debated in terms of the young talent it’d take to make such a move instead of focusing on the annual salary. Sure, there’s no way the Mets will have a Top 5 in the majors payroll again – like they did on average from 1990 through 2011.

But it’s very likely, they’ll at least gravitate towards a “middle of the pack” payroll again rather sooner than later. Still, odd and tough to explain for a New York based franchise – but a lot better than finances being the overriding factor. So, show us the money!

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Mets Must Replace Collins, Time For Action Is Now http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/mets-must-replace-collins-time-for-action-is-now.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/mets-must-replace-collins-time-for-action-is-now.html/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 18:30:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158115 mlb_a_collins_gb2_600

The Mets are still only five games back in the NL East race and an equivalent five games back in the NL Wild Card race. And yet, again, they lost a close game more because of their own mistakes and lack of execution than the opponent outplaying them.

Mets have scored 248 runs so far and allowed 252. That should be “good” for .500 and not seven games under.

They´re an MLB worst 8-17 in one-run games. If they had gone 13-12 in these games, the Mets would be 33-30 and holding the second Wild Card spot in the NL. The Mets have also lost 21 games in which they initially held the lead.

But this is a team that is in pretty much every game and should be winning more games than it actually has – for all the flaws on the roster which are similar to flaws on other rosters. The manager is not getting the most out of this roster – and stands for the losing ways of past seasons.

It´s why managerial mistakes have been magnified and the constant lack of execution – be it baserunning, situational hitting, defense and pitching wise – has been a major factor.

The way this year is playing out – due to all the parity in the league – the Mets season can still be salvaged rather easily.

The lack of success so far this season, is all the more upsetting because things could have been looking a lot better now with just a little fine tuning.

Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Alderson,

MAKE A MANAGERIAL REPLACEMENT AND CHANGE THE TONE AROUND THIS TEAM!

Terry Collins has done an admirable job with his hands tied behind his back in the past. The players like him. Thank him for that.

But sometimes, a fresh start is needed. And it´s about time this happens for the Mets in terms of managing the players on the active roster.

Players that are 25 or younger, now make up almost one third of the Mets roster and are looking to establish themselves as major leaguers for the long haul and many may be part of the Mets next core going forward. All of these players remain under team control for the next 5+ years.

Hopefully the growing pains won´t be too extensive. And while Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard - the two highest ceiling arms that you can also add to that group – remain in the pipeline poised to help either late in this season or early next, this is pretty much it in terms of potential impact young talent for the major league roster for the foreseeable future.

The Mets chances for the remainder of the 2014 season but even more so in 2015 largely depend on how this group of young players ends up performing and how quickly they manage to adjust to the major leagues. With veterans like Wright, Granderson, Murphy, Niese, Gee and Colon potentially also playing a vital role, of course.

For the past 3+ years, Terry Collins and his staff have navigated the Mets through the rebuilding phase, dominated by severe financial restrictions and tried to keep spirits up in spite of having limited talent at hand. It´s tough to say whether the impact of TC and his staff on the 77, 74 and 74 win seasons from 2011 through 2013 was positive, neutral or negative. Still, at the very least, Collins was a good soldier and oversaw the transition on the field. But now a new era has begun.

The wave of young talent we’ve been waiting on for a couple of years has pretty much arrived. Yet, the results on the field haven´t changed and the Mets once again seem headed towards a mid-70 win season with no “meaningful” games scheduled for August and September.

TC – apparently well liked & respected by his players – deserved the chance to return in 2014 with the financial restrictions lessened and the wave of young talent finally arriving. But a good start was mandatory to receive an extended chance – and the Mets currently find themselves at 28-35 while mired in a six game losing streak.

This experiment can´t go on. While TC deserves credit and appreciation for trying his best with what he had, he symbolizes the transitional period of 2011 and 2013 – with the common denominator that his teams have constantly failed to win. It may not be his fault and it may not be fair. But he can´t remain in charge of the Mets. Offer him a job within the organization as a thank-you . But relieve him of his duties. Right NOW – and not in a month when the Mets may well be 10-20 games back and totally out of things.

Will this be the cure and instantly turn the Mets into a bonafide contender? Probably not. But it would show how serious ownership & the front office are about EXPECTING and not just HOPING to win.

What´s needed in 2014 isn’t necessarily a playoff team, but obvious progress. And currently we´re not seeing that. ACT NOW!

MMO

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Featured Post: It’s Time For A Change… #FreeWally http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/featured-post-its-time-for-a-change-freewally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/featured-post-its-time-for-a-change-freewally.html/#comments Mon, 26 May 2014 21:26:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=156540 terry collins opening day

Sometimes, a fresh start is needed. And it´s about time this happens for the Mets in terms of managing the players on the active roster.

Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores make up almost one third of the Mets roster by now and are looking to establish themselves as major leaguers for the long haul and maybe part of the Mets next core going forward. All eight are 25 years old or younger. And all eight remain under team control for the next 5+ years.

Hopefully the growing pains won´t be too extensive. And while Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard – the two highest ceiling arms that also belong into that group – remain in the pipeline poised to help either late in this season or early next, this is pretty much it in terms of potential impact young talent for the major league roster for the foreseeable future. There are no blue chip prospects other than Syndergaard left in the upper levels – with Cesar Puello and Kevin Plawecki coming closest but projecting more as solid complementary pieces. So, the time has arrived where things have to be taken seriously.

The Mets chances for the remainder of the 2014 season but even more so in 2015 largely depend on how this group of young players ends up performing and how quickly they manage to adjust to the major leagues. With veterans like Wright, Granderson, Murphy, Niese, Gee and Colon potentially also playing a vital role, of course.

terry collins

For the past 3+ years, Terry Collins and his staff have navigated the Mets through the rebuilding phase, dominated by severe financial restrictions and tried to keep spirits up in spite of having limited talent at hand. It´s tough to say whether the impact of TC and his staff on the 77, 74 and 74 win seasons from 2011 through 2013 was positive, neutral or negative. Still, at the very least, TC was a good soldier and oversaw the transition on the field. But now a new era has begun.

The wave of young talent we’ve been waiting on for a couple of years has pretty much arrived. Yet, the results on the field haven´t changed and the Mets once again seem headed towards a mid-70 win season with no “meaningful” games scheduled for August and September. TC – apparently well liked & respected by his players – deserved the chance to return in 2014 with the financial restrictions lessened and the wave of young talent finally arriving. But a good start was mandatory to receive an extended chance – and the Mets currently find themselves at 20-25 approaching the end of May and are another losing streak away from pretty much eliminating themselves from the 2014 playoff race for good.

This experiment can´t go on. While TC deserves credit and appreciation for trying his best with what he had, he symbolizes the transitional period of 2011 and 2013 – with the common denominator that his teams have constantly failed to win. It may not be his fault and it may not be fair. But he can´t remain in charge of the Mets. Offer him a job within the organization as a thank-you . But relieve him of his duties. Right NOW – and not in a month when the Mets may well be 30-40 and totally out of things.

backman

Wally Backman may not be the ideal longterm manager for the Mets. No other major league organization has seriously considered him for an MLB managerial job in recent history. And he sure has some personal baggage on his resumé. But he also symbolizes a very good time in Mets history and a fighting spirit that will give him the backing of the fan base.

Backman also is highly regarded by all of his players. And while Collins has continued losing with the Mets, Wally Backman has gone 113-77 with the Las Vegas 51s over the past year and a third with large chunks of the current Mets roster having played and won under his watch. Now is the time to win back the fans, create some excitement and give Wally Backman his well deserved chance. Maybe he can be the modern version of Davey Johnson who took over the 1984 Mets with success after successfully managing the Tidewater Tides in 1983. Do it now. And stop hoping things turnaround themselves. They won´t.

Will this be the cure and instantly turn the Mets into a 90-game winner ? Probably not. But it would show how serious ownership & the front office are about EXPECTING and not just hoping to win. And creating a fresh start with a fresh group of players. If that still doesn´t work, the front office will have to ask themselves whether to start making significant changes to the roster structure via trades. What´s needed in 2014 isn’t necessarily a playoff team, but obvious progress. And currently we´re not seeing that. ACT!

MMO

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It’s The Pitching, Stupid… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/its-the-pitching-stupid.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/05/its-the-pitching-stupid.html/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 15:29:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=156423 A lot has been made about the Mets´ offensive struggles this year and whether Citi Field has been detrimental in that regard. And indeed, the collective performance of David Wright and Curtis Granderson has been well below expectations in 2014 thus far. Both currently are sporting an OPS well over.150 points below their career norms. Granderson has shown signs of life lately but Wright´s prolonged slump – for his lofty standards – has been somewhat concerning, regardless of the still rather modest sample with less than one third of the 2014 season in the books.

The gaping hole at shortstop – both offensively and defensively – remains an undeniable structural flaw the front office has failed to address so far. Maybe Wilmer Flores can provide some help here going forward – but he actually has to play. Travis d’Arnaud has endured growing pains and is currently out with a concussion anyway. Only Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares and – if you´re setting your expectations really low – maybe Lucas Duda and Eric Young Jr. as well have performed at or slightly above expectations. In that regard, it´s quite surprising that the Mets actually rank 7th in the NL with 177 runs scored through their first 44 games – and average of 4.02 runs per game.

Yes, the underlying stats (.650 OPS for example) would suggest some regression going forward. But at the same time you´d expect better performances from Wright, Granderson and hopefully the SS and C positions to balance things out. Thus keeping up this 4-run per game ratio doesn´t seem like an outlandishly optimistic expectation. The NL average for runs scored is right at 4.00 for 2014 so far. So, just going with the most important offensive metric RS, the Mets have been average so far and should remain average going forward. But an average offense certainly won´t carry a team into playoff contention itself. Especially not an inconsistently average offense.

USATSI  jon nieseSandy Alderson – for years – has been stating that he expects to build his team around pitching and that pitching will be the main cog in the “machine” of future Mets contenders. And while we’ve witnessed generally good performances from Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, and flashes of upside from various young pitchers, the fact of the matter is that ever since Alderson has taken over, the Mets have sported a BELOW average pitching staff in the NL.

As of now, their 191 runs allowed – which really is the most important pitching stat there is – ranks 11th “best” in the NL. Only Colorado & Arizona who pitch in very difficult environments and the regressing Pirates have performed worse while the LA Dodgers have played two more games and allowed 8 more runs.

The NL average for runs allowed is 4.04 (the difference between offense & pitching is a result of interleague play). The Mets staff has allowed an average of 4.34 runs per game and thus at a well below average level. This corresponds with an NL average ERA of 3.64 vs. the Mets ERA of 3.95 after we eliminate unearned runs. The difference remains almost identical.

So average offense combined with below average pitching makes for a sub .500 record. In spite of featuring studs like RA Dickey and Matt Harvey, the Mets have posted below average ERAs during all three seasons under Sandy Alderson, 4.19 in 2011 (vs. 3.81 for the NL), 3.95 in 2012 (vs. 4.09 for the NL) and 3.77 in 2013 (vs. 3.74 for the NL) and now seem on their way to a 4th year of below average performance. The neutral to possibly pitcher friendly conditions of Citi Field are not even factored in. So in reality, in spite of slightly advantageous circumstances, the Mets pitchers have not been able to reach “average” performance levels, let alone being assets.

Finally, the wave of promising young arms is here. Other than the rehabbing Matt Harvey and young Noah Syndergaard, the fivesome of Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia has finally arrived and is looking to establish themselves as legit major league arms – in whatever roles they may ultimately end up with. Usually, development of young arms comes at the price of some initial growing pains. And they clearly show. These five arms, all ages 25 or younger have combined to post these numbers so far:

6-9, 4.36 ERA, 128.0 IP, 128 H, 62 ER, 13 HR, 65 BB, 117 K

The rest and mostly more “established” veteran group of pitchers beyond age 25 have combined for a stat line of:

14-15, 3.75 ERA, 275.2 IP, 269 H, 115 ER, 32 HR, 91 BB, 227 K

So, while the “veteran” Mets pitching has been pretty close to average, the young arms have – collectively – performed well below that level.

As the young pitching will go moving forward – and in whatever roles that may be – so will the Mets go.

These five, plus going forward Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, figure to make up the back-bone of future Mets staffs and will determine whether it’s above average, average or below average. And considering the limited financial room, it better work out.

Hopefully, these arms won´t be paying their dues for too long, but iron out the kinks sooner than later. The upside and ability is there and waiting to really take off. Even more so for 2015. And hopefully management realizes which players need to play in order to have the best shot at succeeding. Not only in 2014 but going forward. And maybe one of these years, Sandy Alderson will be able to turn one of the veteran arms or other assets into a real major league caliber shortstop to help his young arms feel comfortable to throw strikes, manage pitch counts and induce contact.

Lets Go Mets.

MMO

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Mets Pitching Is The Key To Beating Preseason Projections http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-pitching-is-the-key-to-beating-preseason-projections.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-pitching-is-the-key-to-beating-preseason-projections.html/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 14:15:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147264 Even if it´s tough to believe for Mets fans, the reason for rather modest projections for 2014 is the lack of trust that analysts have in the – mostly unproven – Mets pitching staff.

The Fangraphs ZiPS projection is a good indicator for that. The entire projected opening day pitching staff (i.e. rotation of Niese – Colon – Wheeler – Gee – Mejia) projects to combine for a mere total of an 8 fWAR. Which is by far the worst projected pitching staff in the divisision, well behind the Marlins & Phillies (both 13 fWAR), Braves (20 fWAR) and Nationals (21 fWAR).

wright murphyMeanwhile, the Mets´ projected offense is a lot closer towards contender status at a combined 19 fWAR, well ahead of the Marlins (12 fWAR) and Phillies (15 fWAR) and barely behind the Braves (20 fWAR) and Nationals (23 fWAR).

And if you look back into the rear view mirror (something all projection systems heavily rely on), the Mets offense averaged 634.5 runs between 2012 & 2013 – with very similar rosters except for Marlon Byrd replacing Scott Hairston and the C position being in flux and CF traditionally unsettled. The Phillies averaged 647 runs (in a hitter friendlier park), the Marlins averaged a terrible 561 runs, the Nationals 693.5 and the Braves 694. So, the Mets were 60 runs away from leading the division in runs scored. Since 1 win takes 10 runs scored or not allowed, the Mets were about 6 wins away on offense from contending for the division crown.

Meanwhile, the pitching was a lot further away at an average of 696.5 runs allowed.

The Nats – on average – allowed 610 runs while the Braves merely allowed 574 runs. So, the Mets were between 86.5 and 122.5 – thus on average 104.5 runs or 10+ wins – off the league lead. Even the Marlins (685 runs allowed) were better and the Phillies – in a much tougher homepark – allowed only 714.5 runs on average – 28 more than the Mets staff´s averaged.

Scott Hairston (2012) & Marlon Byrd (2013) now get replaced by Curtis Granderson while Travis d’Arnaud takes over at catcher for Josh Thole (2012) and John Buck (2013). CF remains unsettled but now features Juan Lagares & Chris Young as the main options instead of the revolving door of 2013 and Kirk Nieuwenhuis & Andres Torres in 2012. The rest of the roster essentially returns, though it appears only one of Duda & Ike Davis will play regularly. All in all, if d´Arnaud is better than Buck & Thole were, while the CF also produce more, expecting the 2014 Mets to score at least 650 runs seems reasonable and thus a gain of 1 or 2 wins as it is, not expecting any breakouts from Ike or Tejada or regression from Wright and Murphy.

zack wheeler 2But it all comes down to the pitching. If the Mets staff gives up 695 or more runs again – and thus on average 100 more than the Nats & Braves figure to give up – they won´t make up the difference. If the Mets give up 50 runs less by pitching better, that´s good for 5 wins and a .500 season overall (650 RS vs. 645 RA). If the Mets give up 100 runs less by pitching much better – both in the rotation and bullpen – they would make up another 5+ games and would project to end up right around 86 or 87 wins. And if you happen to like the depth that the Mets will finally have on both their pitching staff (Montero, Syndergaard, young relievers, etc) and offensively (mainly Flores but also some fringy outfielders like Nieuwenhuis & MDD), the upside may even be a little higher compared to the 2012 and 2013 teams that both lacked quality depth behind the regulars.

To summarize, the Mets figure to have a middle of the pack offense in 2014 and going forward. Which isn´t too bad, considering that Citi Field plays about neutral to slightly pitcher friendly. If the pitching remains below average like it has been in 2012 and 2013, the Mets won´t crack .500 and certainly won´t contend. If the young arms perform and the veterans remain solid, this is the big area of upside – both rotation & bullpen – where the Mets could improve significantly.

Presented By Diehards

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Featured Post: Current Mets Minor League System Compared To 2009 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/featured-post-current-mets-minor-league-system-compared-to-2009.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/featured-post-current-mets-minor-league-system-compared-to-2009.html/#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2014 15:52:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139622 syndergaard montero nimmo

The Mets minor league system is now among the deepest in the majors. The Pirates have more “blue chip” types at the top for now, which makes a difference for most analysts. The Mets on the other hand, only have two “blue chips” in Noah Syndergaard & Travis d’Arnaud with Rafael Montero not having reached that status with the consensus yet (wrongfully so).

But if one of Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera or Amed Rosario takes a major step forward in 2014, Syndergaard remains rookie eligible, and a couple of young arms really step up (say, from group of Steven Matz, Michael Fulmer, Gabriel Ynoa, Chris Flexen, Robert Whalen, etc.), the Mets system may well be Top 5 in the game next winter. For now, it’s probably No.10 +/- range.

Here is a link to John Sickels’ Top 20 Mets Prospects, entering 2009, exactly five years ago. 

The biggest difference between our system then and our system now is that entering 2009 the Mets had only five prospects who Sickels considered as better than C+, while the Mets entering 2014 have 13 (!) prospects who Sickels considers as better than C+.

sickels

Seeing is believing…

With the Marlins having graduated their top two prospects Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, the Mets now have the best minor league system in the NL East.

Though the Nationals, Marlins and Braves may have better high-end young talent on their major league roster right now, they’ll all have problems trying to retain those players beyond 2015.

The most positive aspect of the Mets system is its depth, especially in terms of power arms. To give you an example, 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, Jack Leathersich and Jeff Walters both would have been in the mid to back end of our Top 10 Mets prospects. Today, they are borderline Top 20s.

This system has come a long way.

mmo

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MMO Exclusive: Debunking A Myth http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mmo-exclusive-debunking-a-myth.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mmo-exclusive-debunking-a-myth.html/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 16:12:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133737 Debunking a myth – how the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A´s have built perennial contenders as small market teams

With the Mets caught in a massive financial restructuring and – apparently – unable and / or unwilling to compete for high-end free agents this winter, the Tampa Bay Rays & Oakland A´s are often referred to as models of how you can win with a small payroll.

And indeed, both teams have had stunning success over the past couple of years, both winning 90+ games in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. The Rays did it with payrolls in the $57 to $70 million range,  and the A´s with payrolls of $59 to $68 million. Meanwhile, our New York Mets  – who haven´t won 90+ games in back to back seasons since the days of Mike Piazza & Bobby Valentine in 1999 & 2000 – finished 74-88 in each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. A closer look shows that with payrolls between $90 and $100 million in 12-13,  almost half of it was allotted to sunken costs like Jason Bay & Johan Santana, so essentially if you leave out those two relics, the Mets actually spent a bit less than the small market Rays & A´s, but that´s not the point of this post.

What I´ll try to explain is that there´s a myth that these two teams were supposedly built in a miraculous way of signing inexpensive scrap heap veteran players  that suddenly outperformed all expectations. This is wrong. Sure, both teams have rarely spent significant money on veteran relievers, realizing that this is a place where it´s more efficient to go cheap – be it from within or the scrap heap. And both did well with a couple of inexpensive free agent pickups, most notably the A´s with RHP Bartolo Colon and 1B/DH Brandon Moss, and the Rays with 1B James Loney. But those players were certainly not the reason they succeeded. It was mainly done via drafting or trading for prospects and developing them properly.

David-Price

1. How The Rays Were Built

The Rays M.O. has been to build around pitching recently. And that´s not only in terms of winning with pitching on the field but using pitching to the advantage of filling holes via trades.

Take a look at some of the key members of the 2012 / 2013 staffs:

LHP David Price – Drafted  # 1 overall in 2007

LHP Matt Moore – Drafted in round 8 in 2007

RHP Alex Cobb – Drafted in round 4 in 2006

RHP Jeremy Hellickson – Drafted in round 4 in 2005

LHP Jake McGee – Drafted in round 5 in 2004

RHP Chris Archer – Acquired as a prospect from from the Cubs in 2011 in exchange for young RHP Matt Garza (after 4 years of team control) who had been acquired with the Rays 2003 first round pick Delmon Young a few years earlier.

LHP Alex Torres – Acquired as a prospect out of High-A Ball from the Angels at the 2009 trade deadline for LHP Scott Kazmir (after 4 years of team control) who had been acquired for…, err, won’t get into that.

To summarize: This staff was mainly put together by strong drafting between 2004 and 2007 and by trading for prospects between 2009 and 2011.

Now, offensively, the Rays were more mix & match and not as deep structurally. That said, the M.O. remains similar:

3B Evan Longoria – Drafted  3rd overall in 2006 draft.

CF Desmond Jennings – Drafted in round 10 in 2006

IF/OF Ben Zobrist – Acquired as a prospect in 2006 from the Astros for former Rays All Star third baseman Aubrey Huff.

RF Wil Myers – Acquired as a top prospect in 2012 from the Royals for RHP James Shields (after 5 years of team control) who had been an undistinguished 16th round pick by the Rays in 2000; this trade has also brought in RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Mike Montgomery from KC who may eventually help the Rays pitching staff going forward.

LF Matt Joyce – Acquired as a prospect in 2008 by Rays for young RHP Edwin Jackson (after 4 years of team control).

SS Yunel Escobar – Acquired from the Miami Marlins in 2012 for OF prospect Derek Dietrich, the Rays 2nd round pick in 2010, reversing the prospect for veteran path for a change.

To summarize: This offense was built around drafting well in 2006 and trading major leaguers for prospects between 2006 and 2012, plus trading a prospect for a proven major leaguer last winter. And of course, aided by signing useful veterans like James Loney, Jose Molina and Kelly Johnson who rounded things out.

The Rays have been built around a plethora of strong players drafted 6 to 9 years ago and players mostly acquired as prospects turned into good major leaguers. It does serve as an indication for the time frame it takes to build a team like this, of course. By the way the 2004 to 2007 Rays won between 61 and 70 games per season…

Yoennis Cespedes

2. How The Oakland A´s Were Built

To avoid the post becoming too lengthy (and with my 2 year-old daughter about to wake up), I´ll try to keep myself short. But please remember that the post “Moneyball” (1999 to 2006) A´s finished at or below .500 between 2007 and 2011 and was widely expected to finish below .500 again in 2012 – before winning 94 games, seemingly out of nowhere. Unlike the Rays, the A´s 2012 / 2013 weren´t mainly built via the draft – but they were built by heavy trading for prospects…

Pitching:

Yes, Bartolo Colon was an almost R.A. Dickey type revelation, seemingly out of nowhere.

And half of the A´s rotation was actually drafted – A.J. Griffin (round 13 in 2010), Dan Straily (round 24 in 2009) and Sonny Gray (round 1 in 2011). But key pieces of the staff were acquired in trades:

RHP Jarrod Parker and RHP Ryan Cook in a trade for former 2006 2nd round pick RH Trevor Cahill

LHP Tom Milone in a trade for LHP Gio Gonzalez

LHP Jerry Blevins in a trade for C Jason Kendall, way back in 2007

Disappointing LHP Brett Anderson came in a trade of RHP Dan Haren  who himself can be tracked back to trading former stud LHP Mark Mulder to the Cardinals.

To be fair, another key contributor , RHP Grant Balfour was signed as a free agent. But overall, you can track the main pieces of the Oakland A´s staffs to drafting & trades of quality starters  Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren (and previously Mark Mulder) and Trevor Cahill.

Offense:

Trades. Trades. Trades. Oh, and Coco Crisp & Yoenis Cespedes as free agents for more than Sandy Alderson has paid to anyone as Mets GM so far and Brandon Moss as a nice scrap heap pickup. But again, you´ll see that the trades of Gio Gonzalez, Dan Haren and others played a key role here:

3B Josh Donaldson – acquired from the Cubs in a trade of former ace Rich Harden (a 17th round pick by the A´s in 2000)

OF Josh Reddick – acquired from the Red Sox in a trade of former closer Andrew Bailey (a 6th round pick in 2006)

SS Jed Lowrie – acquired from the Houston Astros in a trade for prospect 1b Chris Carter who  had been part of the Dan Haren trade and for RHP Brad Peacock who had been part of the Gio Gonzalez trade; by the way, Gio Gonzalez had been acquired for “Moneyball” 2002 1st round pick Nick Swisher in 2008….

2B Eric Sogard – also acquired for a piece from the Dan Haren trade, OF Aaron Cunningham, Sogard was actually drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2007…

C Derek Norris – also acquired as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade after the 2011 season

OF Seth Smith – acquired in a trade with the Rockies of waiver pickup and LH Josh Outman (who himself had been acquired for “Moneybal” RH Joe Blanton)

OF Chris Young – acquired for SS Cliff Pennington, the A´s 21st round pick in 2005

So summarize:

Large chunks of the A´s offense can be tracked to the trades of almost an entire rotation of Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Blanton and Mark Mulder essentially.

What to conclude from all this?

Inexpensive playoff teams aren´t built around picking up veterans from the scrap heap. They are built the traditional way by good scouting & player development. You can build a strong cost-efficient team by drafting well and some trades (Rays). You can build a strong cost-efficient team by drafting ok but trading very well (A´s).  It also shows that this approach takes quite a while. And that the groundwork of winning in 2012 & 2013 was mostly laid several years ago and actually the key contributors mostly entered pro-ball between 2004 and 2008. And if you´re asking for a reason why the Mets have struggled over the past 3 to 5 years ? It´s because they failed to add enough significant players between 2004 and 2008 AND have been unable to outspend those neglects recently.

But if you want to win without spending money, you need: a) patience – as it takes about 5 to 7  years before players that are brought in as amateurs will reasonably be productive in the majors. And b) to either draft and/or trade well to land those players.

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This Off-Season, Expect The Mets To Do The Expected http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/this-off-season-expect-the-mets-to-do-the-expected.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/this-off-season-expect-the-mets-to-do-the-expected.html/#comments Sun, 06 Oct 2013 17:39:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130784 stephen drewThe future is “now” – but won´t come in exchange for mortgaging the “future” in a future sense.

This off-season, the Mets will probably add a proven veteran SS – be it most likely Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta via free agency, or Yunel Escobar or Alexei Ramirez via trade. Each would represent a significant upgrade from the unproductive Omar Quintanilla / Ruben Tejada combo of 2013. With Wilfredo Tovar, Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario in the system, I doubt that the Mets commit to more than a 2-year deal with anyone. In any case, the 2014 shortstop doesn´t figure to earn significantly more than $10 million or cost us any of the Top 10 prospects in our system in a trade.

I also expect the Mets to add two corner outfielders, probably one LH and one RH bat. Shin-Soo Choo appears to be the lone “star” caliber player who seems like a fit, while Carlos Beltran seems like an unlikely, but very solid fit too on a shorter term deal. A “trade” for the somewhat questionable contracts of Andre Ethier or Nick Swisher could be options just like a “lower budget” signing of Coco Crisp or David DeJesus.

In any case, expect an outfielder who bats lefthanded, is solid defensively, and can reasonably be expected to get on base at a .350+ clip. Plus a righthanded corner outfielder with some power. With Cesar Puello being a front-office favorite apparently, I´d expect a short term contract for one or a max of two seasons. Targets could include Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd or Corey Hart. None would figure to exceed two years and there´s a chance that even a 1-year deal is enough. I doubt the Mets feel it´s the right time for a really bold move – such as trading for Carlos Gonzalez or Giancarlo Stanton if they become available.

Bronson+ArroyoI expect the Mets to target a dependable veteran starter who seems like a good bet to take the ball every 5th day and keep the team in games for 6 to 7 innings. One of the deep pool of “second tier” free agents like Bronson Arroyo seems like an ideal fit – but Scott Feldman or Ricky Nolasco could become targets too. Don´t expect more than a 2-year guaranteed deal to anyone though. In any case, the Mets will probably add at least one veteran insurance policy like Dice-K or Harang to compete with Jenrry Mejia and Rafael Montero for the # 5 spot out of spring training and/or serve as veteran AAA insurance.

I don´t expect a lot of movement in the bullpen, especially if Latroy Hawkins is indeed re-signed. Maybe one more veteran arm will be added, but I suppose the Mets will keep at least two roster spots open for Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Gonzalez Germen. They will bring back Scott Rice & Josh Edgin as the main lefties and Carlos Torres as a long reliever and spot starter. If Bobby Parnell is healthy and Hawkins is back, that´s a full bullpen already. Maybe the Mets will take a couple of flyers on veterans with past success, coming off a down year in 2013 who can be stashed away in Vegas for the time being if no opening arises.

All in all, expect an Opening Day payroll in the $85 to $95 million range and a team that will be expected to win about 85 games in a normal season, without being considered playoff bound in all likelihood. The key will remain growing the talent pool in the farm system and using an improved 2014 team that remains in playoff contention deep into the season as a spring board for 2015 when making the playoffs will be an absolute must.

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