Mets Merized Online » Fan Shots http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 MMO Fan Shot: The Mets Are Building A Dynasty http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-fan-shot-the-mets-are-building-a-dynasty.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-fan-shot-the-mets-are-building-a-dynasty.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:07:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205352 noah-syndergaard-matt-harvey-jacob-degrom-pittsburgh

An MMO Fan Shot by Austin Smith

Obviously, after the Yoenis Cespedes signing, it’s clear the Mets are all in for not only this year, but for years to come. Before Yoenis chose to come back to New York, we were still an above average team led by our Super-Rotation, with some question marks floating in the lineup.

Now, with Cespedes plugged into that number three spot, Terry’s “First Choice Lineup” looks incredibly formidable anyway you slice it. We not only have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but now it has a legitimate powerhouse lineup to complement it. We haven’t had that since 2006, and our pitching back then wasn’t even near the caliber it is now.

And it doesn’t stop there. We also now have a pretty solid bullpen to protect those late-game leads, something we often struggled with last year as we tried to find an effective bridge to one of the best closers in the game – La Familia. So it’s incredibly difficult not to get excited for a season that manager Terry Collins described as “World Series or Bust”.

Our young starting pitching core is only locked up for another 2-3 years though, at most. So even though we have yet to start the 2016 season, I looked into what we have beyond this 2-3 year window of having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all pitching in the same rotation, and what we have to look forward to once we move past that.

What I have found is just as exciting a potential roster as we have now. Top prospect after top prospect, and even some very high ceiling prospects that aren’t as highly touted as Steven Matz, Dom Smith, and Amed Rosario, but potentially just as promising.

These lesser known but high-upside prospects will ensure that the Mets will continue to maintain a championship caliber team for years to come. And even though it’s impossible to lock up all five of our young starting pitchers, you have to believe that the Mets will lock up at least 2-3 of them, and it’s not like we don’t still have more pitching on the way in our pipeline.

prospects.jpg

Come, say, 2020, our Opening Day Roster could be just as scary good as it is today. I would expect Harvey to be the one to go, if he isn’t traded first. But deGrom I see as the main piece we’ll look to keep, followed by Syndergaard, and I could even see Matz and Wheeler possibly taking club friendly deals being a hometown kid and a guy that clearly wants to contribute to winning in NY.

2020 Opening Day Roster

1B – Dominic Smith

2B – Dilson Herrera

3B – Wilmer Flores

SS – Amed Rosario

C – Travis d’Arnaud

LF – Michael Conforto

CF – Desmond Lindsay

RF – Wuilmer Becerra

SP – Jacob deGrom

SP – Noah Syndergaard

SP – Zack Wheeler

SP - Steven Matz

SP – Seth Lugo

RP – Jeurys Familia

RP – Erik Goeddel

RP – Hansel Robles

RP – Josh Edgin

RP – Dario Alvarez

RP – Akeel Morris

RP – Marcos Molina

Now obviously, not all of these guys could pan out, nor will it be easy to keep all of them in the organization for the next four years. Things happen that we can’t foresee. But what I really wanted to point out is that we have a great and exciting pipeline of talent that is still on the way.

I’m really looking forward to winning a title or two beginning this season over the next three years. But after that, after Granderson, Cespedes, Wright, etc. move on, we still have a scary good team for the next 10+ years.

As long as we can keep some of our core pitching, this team is setup for longterm success. Assuming ownership continues to reinvest in the team as they have shown this season, this franchise could be on the verge of the dynasty run we’ve always dreamed of.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Austin Smith (@NotDwright). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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How A New Generation Of Mets Fans Could Influence The Team’s Future http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/how-a-new-generation-of-mets-fans-could-influence-the-teams-future.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/how-a-new-generation-of-mets-fans-could-influence-the-teams-future.html/#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205367 mets fans

An MMO Fan Shot by Rebecca

Parents and kids are eagerly getting ready for the 2016 baseball season. They’re starting to practice out in the yard, planning weekend trips to the ballpark and shopping around for the best kids baseball gloves and mitts.

Some of these young baseball players are going to be the next generation of Mets fans. With only the last few years as a frame of reference, they have little understanding of just how far the New York Mets have come. It’s an important factor considering that these young fans will influence the team’s fanbase for years to come.

From Lackluster to All Stars

Kids tend to like their home team or the team that’s dominating their division like the Mets did last year. But some of us old timers appreciate the Mets for their ability to rise up from underdog status. The kiddos that began watching in the 2015 season have no idea how far the Mets have come over the last decade.

It all started in 2007. After an amazing 97-65 season in 2006 and a fantastic start to the 2007 season, things began to quickly unravel. Though they had a winning season, the Mets infamously lost a seven game lead in the NL East division with just 17 games to go in the season. On all fronts – offensive, defensive and pitching – the Mets gave the division away to the Phillies.

In 2008 the team faired no better. But fans would have much preferred barely losing the division over what was to come next. The 2009 season marked a complete implosion for the Mets that set off six straight years of losing seasons.

The attendance at Mets’ games dropped dramatically as many of the newer fans that were gained in 2006-2007 lost patience waiting for the team to pick things up. In the 2008 season, the Mets had a record attendance of 4,021,534. By the 2013 season that number fell to just 2,136,655.

It didn’t help that right around the corner is another well-known clubhouse: the New York Yankees. After 27 championships the Yankees are the go-to for New Yorkers that are in it to win it.

Last year was the turning point for the Mets. They easily won the NL East by seven games over the Nationals. For only the fifth time in the franchise’s history, the Mets made it to the World Series after defeating the Chicago Cubs. Attendance was already up to 2,569,753 in 2015 so it will be interesting to see how many more people show up for games this year.

Baseball: A Game That’s Built on Generations

Kids enjoy a lot of sports, but few professional leagues have a young following like baseball. Go to any game, whether it’s minor league or major league, and you’ll see plenty of kids running around. They sit in the stands with their gloves on waiting for that rare opportunity to snag a foul ball or home run. They eagerly wait by the dugout hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and maybe even get an autograph.

It’s also a game that is traditionally passed down from one generation to the next. When a kid becomes a serious fan, there’s a good chance they’ll bring their own children to watch the team decades later.

This is an important factor for an MLB team for many reasons, one of the most important being future recruitment. Some of today’s youngest baseball fans will inevitably become professional players. The teams they love now and grow up watching will get top consideration when it comes time to sign deals.

Still not convinced of the powerful persuasion a child’s favorite baseball team can have? Former Mets General Manager Omar Minaya and former Manager Willie Randolph joined the Mets in 2004 when the team was struggling. Why? Both have stated that they wanted to help a team they cheered on as kids regain its former glory.

Right now the Mets are capturing the attention of another generation of kids. Whether they’ll be able to continue performing and create fans for life is the question. But with an all star pitching staff that’s well solidified, the Mets are poised for great things in 2016 and for seasons to come. I will always thank my dad for making me the passionate Met fan I am today, and now I’m looking forward to passing that on to my own daughter. See you all at Citi Field and Let’s Go Mets.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Rebecca. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-pitching-pitching-and-more-pitching.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-pitching-pitching-and-more-pitching.html/#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 10:23:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205245 NL East Champions Harvey celebrates

An MMO Fan Shot by Jason Levin

The late September series in Cincinnati where Lucas Duda went bananas and we clinched the NL East gave us the first glimpse at why 2016 should be even more fun and it wasn’t because of Duda’s heroics. That series was the first time that the Mets threw Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz onto the hill in consecutive games.  We won all four and the quartet of flame-throwers dominated, to the tune of 34 strikeouts and 0 walks.  Not a typo. 34 K – 0 BB. The quartet went on, of course, to lead us over the Dodgers and Cubs and take us to the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series.

Here are some numbers that will have you smiling through the winter.  In 2015, those four young guns started 86 games. The Mets won 54 of those and lost 32, for a winning percentage of (.614). Here’s the breakdown of the Mets record (not the pitcher’s record) with those four starting.

  • DeGrom: 19-10
  • Harvey: 17-11
  • Syndergaard: 13-10
  • Matz: 5-1

So, let’s play around a little and project those four out to a full season in 2016. At 30 starts apiece, which means they’d miss or skip about 2 each in a five man rotation, that’s 120 games.  I think we all believe each of the four should be even better next year, but let’s be somewhat conservative with these first projections anyway. Remember, this is projecting the Mets’ record in these games, not the pitchers’.

  • DeGrom: 20-10
  • Harvey: 20-10
  • Syndergaard: 17-13
  • Matz: 17-13

That projects out to 74-46 (.617)

That leaves starter #5, who would have been Jon Niese. Wait until you see the Mets record each season from 2010-2015 with Niese starting:14-16, 13-13, 15-15, 12-12, 15-15 and 14-15. Mind-boggling I know, but those are the real numbers.

So, with Niese shipped to Pittsburgh, those 30 starts figure to fall to the combination of “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon and Zack “I’m picking up the phone and calling Alderson” Wheeler. Assuming 20 April-August starts for Colon and 10 for Wheeler from Aug through the end of the season, let’s project those two against the 15-15 Niese obviously would have given us.

Say Colon/Wheeler “go Niese” and give us his 15-15. That gets us to an 89-61 record with 12 games still unaccounted for.  Smiling yet?

Go 9-3 with the fill-in starters (Verrett, Montero, Gilmartin, etc.) and we win 98 games. Division title, home-field advantage throughout.

Go 6-6 and we win 95. Ditto.

Fail miserably with the fill-ins, go 2-10 and we still win 91…..nice, huh?

Granted, all of that was projecting for good health, but also fairly conservative for the Fab Four, so let’s really have some fun with what will be the healthy competition within the rotation. They will be pushing and feeding off each other, like the young, talented, fired-up competitors they are, with post-season experience in tow, arbitration $ looming and no innings limits distractions save maybe for Matz. You have to think one of them, if not two is going to have a monster year, so let’s see what that might look like. Again, this is the Mets projected record in the games they start, not the pitcher.

DeGrom 23-7

Harvey 21-9…you could flip these top two, of course.  Up to you.

Syndergaard 19-11…and he could easily be the 23-7 guy too, no?

Matz 17-13

degrom harvey syndergaard

That’s 80-40 (.667) and absolutely within the realm of possibility, especially with Cespedes back aboard to solidify the offense. For the purpose of comparison, the LA Dodgers’ record the past three years with their two studs was as follows: Kershaw (60-31) and Greinke (63-27).

What does a career year look like? The Dodgers went 23-4 (!) in 2014 with Kershaw and 22-8 this year with Greinke. The ’85 Mets were 28-7 when Dwight Gooden started and the ‘69 Mets were 26-9 when Tom Seaver was on the hill.

Back to our 2016 Mets. Add 15-15 for Colon/Wheeler to the 80 win high-end projection and we are at 95 wins with 12 games to go……6-6 from the fill-ins gets us to…….101 wins. Grinning ear-to-ear yet?!

Simply put, pitching wins, and it is a massive edge to run four ultra-talented starters out there series after series, and really adds up over a 162 game season. If you’re old enough to remember, that’s the main reason the Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine Braves dominated the NL East through the 90’s. Oh yeah, John Smoltz said repeatedly during the final few months of the season that this Met staff is more talented than his Braves.

Met history figures prominently here as well. The reason the Mets rolled through the mid to late 1980’s was because Gooden, Darling, Ojeda, Fernandez got the bulk of the starts. If you’re ancient like me you remember the late 60’s/early 70’s Mets trotting out Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, Gentry and Matlack to win one World Series and almost beat the dynastic A’s in another.

You ready?

Jason Levin was once the west coast editor of Baseball Digest and has written sports features for the Village Voice, LA Times Magazine, and numerous other publications. Raised in Manhattan in the late 1960’s, he fell in love with the Miracle Mets riding the 7 train out the Big Shea. He currently lives in LA and will be rooting on the Mets in every SoCal game they play. The Cespedes signing went a long way towards getting him over being at Citi Field for Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Jason Levin. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: How Great It Feels To Be A Mets Fan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-how-great-it-feels-to-be-a-mets-fan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-how-great-it-feels-to-be-a-mets-fan.html/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:58:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205082 mets win

An MMO Fan Shot by Austin Smith

At the beginning of the offseason, we were PRAYING to have a payroll around $120 million or at least enough to upgrade the roster as needed and give us a lineup that would compete with the Nationals and complement our rotation. Wrong. With the moves we have made, and Yoenis Cespedes of course falling into our laps because of his strong desire to remain in NY, our payroll is up to a surprising $140 million.

Let that set in for a second. The cheapskate Wilpons, who for years have been pinching every penny they can, stepped up and went all-out for Cespedes. Of course it probably helped that there was tons of pressure from the media and fan base, but still, you have to tip your hat to them.

cespedes gifffer

So most of us fans, myself included, expected us to be done after Alejandro De Aza signing, but this Cespedes deal changes everything. When you plug him in along with the additions of Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo and even bringing back fan favorite Bartolo Colon, wow.

All these moves truly puts us among the top three teams in the NL in my personal opinion, and certainly the best team in the NL East. Also, as important as the Cespedes contract is for us, the big takeaway is we kept him away from the Nationals. That’s huge.

I expect that Cespedes will likely opt-out after the first year and give us a comp pick, but if he doesn’t all the better. He’ll replace Curtis Granderson after next season, and hopefully Brandon Nimmo or Juan Lagares could produce at a well enough level to warrant the center field job and give us an outfield of Michael Conforto in LF, Nimmo or Lagares in CF, and Cespedes in RF. I’ll take it.

Plus, I think we have enough depth in the minors to keep the success we have going for at least another 5-10 years. Our young starting pitchers are being paid pennies for the next 2-4 years comparable to the market rate for their performance levels.

Matz Syndergaard deGrom

After that, Cespedes’ contract will be off the books, and Lucas Duda will be gone in favor of Dominic Smith in a year or two, so I think we will have the financial flexibility to sign at least three of our young guns and maybe even four if any of them give us a hometown discount. And why wouldn’t they, our New York Mets are a hot destination right now.

Okay, enough about the future. Lets look at where we stand for the 2016 season!

Starting Rotation

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon

I see Harvey and deGrom both taking steps forward, but I honestly believe Syndergaard will take the biggest leap of them all. I truly think he is a dark horse for Cy Young (call me crazy). Matz will be an above average southpaw, so long as he can stay healthy. Colon will give us at least average performance until Wheeler is ready. But more than that his leadership, mentoring, popularity, antics, and willingness to swing to the bullpen when needed makes him so valuable. Hopefully Wheeler can be back by mid-June, and I’d be happy if he had a 4.00 ERA, but much happier at around a 3.70. This is baseball’s best rotation.

jeurys familia

Bullpen

  1. Jeurys Familia – Closer
  2. Antonio Bastardo  -Setup
  3. Addison Reed – Setup
  4. Jerry Blevins – Lefty Specialist
  5. Hansel Robles – Middle Reliever
  6. Erik Goeddel – Middle Reliever
  7. Verrett/Montero/Colon – Long Reliever/Swing man (Whoever wins out ST)

Familia will be Familia, top 5 closer in baseball, if he perfects his new pitches he’ll be top 2. Edgin could become of the best LH Relievers in baseball when healthy if you ask me. He dominates LHH and RHH just the same, he’s expected back in May. Love the Bastardo signing, lefty who gets out both LH/RH hitters with a consistent ERA under 3, and can be a solid setup man. Reed had a solid month with the Mets, but I wasn’t too sure he was worth the $6M tender. But after looking at the FA relievers and their price tags, I’m okay with it. Blevins is an absolutely perfect lefty specialist, though he only faced 15 batters last year before breaking his arm .He retired all 15 and has a track record of getting out lefties. Robles is a bit wild, but him and Goeddel should win roles in ST. Both have question marks and big upside, but I think Robles an become a beast. I also love his competitiveness. Also, should some guys flake out, we have some nice backups in Smoker, Morris, etc.

curtis granderson

Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson – RF
  2. Neil Walker – 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes – CF
  4. Lucas Duda – 1B
  5. David Wright – 3B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  7. Michael Conforto – LF
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera – SS

I expect Grandy to produce similar to last year, maybe a tad worse because of age, and he did over perform a little last season. Walker, I expect similar to Murphy numbers with more power vs RHP, but he doesn’t hit LHP very well so vs LHP I’d plug Flores in at 2B because he is a much better defender at 2B than SS, and mashes lefties.

Cespedes won’t do what he did in his two months with us last year, but I do expect him to carry our lineup and produce a .285/.325/.580 line with 30-35 home runs, and better defense in CF than people give him credit for.

People say Duda is inconsistent, but he’s been one of the most consistent first basemen in the majors over the last three years. People say he couldn’t hit lefties (he couldn’t), so he battled and actually hit lefties better than righties in 2015. Just not as many homers, but he evens it out with gap to gap doubles.

We all know Wright is a question mark, but if we can get 125 games from him with the same kind of production he had last season, we are going to be fine. If his injuries catch up, well then we have Flores and Cabrera to take over at third base instead of Campbell and Muno.

D’Arnaud will hopefully stay healthy and produce the way he’s shown he can. I expect 120+ games, .270/.350/.500, and 20-23 homers, not to mention how solid a defensive catcher he is, despite his weak arm.

Conforto will be hitting against RHP which is often, and he’ll get more AB against LHP. He has the look and feel of a future All Star. Lagares, who mashes lefties, should get plenty of work as a defensive replacement and part of a platoon. 

Flores Wilmer

Bench

  1. Wilmer Flores – Super Utility
  2. Ruben Tejada – SS/2B/3B
  3. Juan Lagares – CF
  4. Alejandro De Aza – OF
  5. Kevin Plawecki – C

I think De Aza is a fantastic signing. Didn’t think so before the Cespedes deal, but now knowing he’s a 4/5 outfielder, he’s an excellent asset. A .275 career hitter, not a bad defender, speedy, and a .800 OPS against RHP. Having that on the bench is huge, especially in the playoffs. Our entire bench could be starters on other teams. I think that says enough about how good our team looks right now.

Final Thought

An absolutely A+ offseason by Sandy Alderson, and respect to the Wilpons for allowing him to pull the trigger on all of these upgrades especially Cespedes. I am ready to enjoy the Mets dominate the 2016 season from wire to wire. I love everything about this team. I haven’t been this excited to begin a new season in quite some time. Boy, does it feel great to be a Mets fan right now. LGM

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Austin Smith (@NotDwright). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: What Does The Future Hold For Juan Lagares http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-does-the-future-hold-for-juan-lagares.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-does-the-future-hold-for-juan-lagares.html/#comments Tue, 26 Jan 2016 19:04:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205089 juan lagares safe
An MMO Fan Shot by Avi Gelboim

Lost in the excitement of the Yoenis Cespedes signing has been the impact on former fan favorite and gold glove center fielder Juan Lagares.

Lagares, who is entering his age-27 season, is under team control for the next four years (2016 – 2019) at an affordable $23 million with a fifth year team option (2020) for $9.5 million or a $500 K buyout.

During 2013-2014 Lagares had arguably the greatest two year defensive span in Mets history, combining for an incredible 40.1 UZR and 54 Defensive Runs Saved over just 220 games. In 2014 Lagares also took a step forward offensively, showing a knack for contact with a .281 AVG, swiping 13 bases, and beating up LHP to the tune of an .875 OPS. Lagares entered last season as the Mets undisputed everyday center fielder and was widely considered to be a star on the rise.

But 2015 was not kind to Juan. He regressed offensively, posting a weak .647 OPS while walking just 16 times over 465 plate appearances. More surprising was his defensive regression, which resulted in a mediocre 3.5 UZR and 2 Defensive Runs Saved over 139 games. Rumors abounded of a serious elbow injury and even possible Tommy John surgery.

A bad elbow explains Lagares’ reduced arm strength (just 3 OF assists), but not the numerous fly balls he perplexingly “just missed” that Mets fans had grown so accustomed to him catching over the previous two seasons. In one year, Lagares went from an all-world defensive CF to a barely-above-average defensive CF. Which version of Lagares we can expect in 2016 remains an open question.

When the Mets called up rookie Michael Conforto and traded for Cespedes last season in late July, Lagares was relegated to a platoon/defensive replacement role. Specifically, throughout August, September, and (a magical) October and early November, manager Terry Collins consistently platooned Conforto with Lagares, starting Conforto in LF and Cespedes in CF against RHP while sliding Cespedes to LF and starting Lagares in CF against LHP.

Lagares-dive

Collins also regularly brought Lagares into CF as a late inning defensive replacement (typically in games the Mets were winning), sometimes pinch hitting Lagares against a LHP and then keeping him in for defense (again sliding Cespedes over to LF). In all of these situations, Conforto was the OF who was removed (from the batting order and/or the defensive field) to make room for Lagares, with Cespedes and RF Curtis Granderson always remaining in the game.

So the original question remains: How will the Mets use Lagares in 2016? Until Cespedes was signed last week, Lagares was ticketed for another platoon/defensive replacement role, this time with new acquisition Alejandro De Aza. The Cespedes signing has (to the great relief of Mets fans everywhere) relegated De Aza to a 5th OF role and (at first glance) placed Lagares squarely back in the same CF/LF threesome with Cespedes and Conforto that he occupied late last season. Over a full season, such usage could result in 400+ plate appearances and 130+ games for Lagares, significant totals for a platoon player.

But one factor has changed between the 2015 World Series and Opening Day 2016: the Mets’ willingness to limit their emerging young star, Conforto, to a continued platoon role. Last season, with the Mets in a playoff hunt and Conforto fresh to the big leagues, it made sense for Collins to give Conforto’s ABs against LHP to Lagares.

But with a new season upon us, it seems likely the Mets will give Conforto the chance to play every day, including against LHP. Conforto had only 15 plate appearances against LHP in his debut MLB season. But he hit LHP quite well (.904 OPS) at AA prior to his call up and has the type of sweet swing that could translate to a career of productive ABs against LHP (as evidenced by his World Series Game 4 HR against Royals LHP Danny Duffy).

So if Conforto is slated to start every day, including against LHP, where does that leave Lagares? The answer: Lagares will likely enter the 2016 season primarily as a PH and late inning defensive replacement. But even such usage could be more limited than it was last season. In the 7th inning of a 2-2 game with Conforto coming to bat against a LHP, will Collins want to PH Lagares for Conforto? Quite possibly not.

juan lagares

Even the logic behind using Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement was somewhat eroded by Conforto’s surprisingly strong defense (2015: 7.5 UZR and 9 Defensive Runs Saved over just 50 games). If not for the great defensive benefit of shifting Cespedes from CF (2015: -3.2 UZR and -4 Defensive Runs Saved over 40 games) to LF (2015: 18.8 UZR and 15 Defensive Runs Saved over 134 games), Lagares’ role as a late inning defensive replacement would also be in jeopardy. As it stands, Conforto will continue to get pulled from the late innings of games not so much due to his LF defense, but due to Cespedes’ CF defense.

One other question is worth asking in considering how the Mets will use Lagares in 2016: Who plays RF when Granderson is out of the lineup? Curtis had an all-around fantastic 2015, with one exception: his .558 OPS vs LHP over 143 plate appearances. Should Granderson regress somewhat in 2016 (likely as he enters his age-35 season) and continue to struggle against LHP (also likely given his career .696 OPS vs LHP), Collins may want to sit him vs LHP. At a minimum Curtis will require the occasional day off, and he will almost certainly get those days off against LH starters. So who plays RF on those days? Probably Lagares?

Although Cespedes’ monster arm and success as a gold glove corner outfielder seemingly suit him perfectly for RF, he (reportedly?) doesn’t like the position. He has never played a single inning in RF over 490 career games, and when he played for the Red Sox rumors circulated of friction between him and the Sox over the manager’s desire to play him in RF. In two games last season, Collins chose to insert Lagares into RF rather then force Cespedes to play the position. The same could hold true this season.

Barring an injury to Cespedes, Conforto, or Granderson, Juan Lagares’ role on the 2016 New York Mets might be even more limited than it was last season, due primarily to Conforto’s likely emergence as an every day player. With De Aza in the fold as a capable backup OF and Lagares under a team-friendly contract, might Sandy Alderson seek to trade Lagares, possibly for relief pitching and/or prospects? Or will Lagares revert to 2014 form and force himself back into the Mets lineup?

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Avi Gelboim. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Chasing The Clincher http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-chasing-the-clincher.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-chasing-the-clincher.html/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 14:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204871 1986 mets

An MMO Fan Shot by Mets Fan In Paradise

1986 was a great year to be a Mets fan.  Especially for me.  A couple of years out of college, I was living on my own, had a reliable car,  and a good enough job to afford the short trip from NJ to Flushing to see the Mets a couple of times a month.

After almost a decade of disappointment the Mets had returned to relevance in 1984, and in 1985 they’d stayed in the division race until the last weekend of the season.  In Spring Training 1986 manager Davey Johnson told his team they could dominate the league, and his assessment was accurate.  After spinning their wheels the first week of the season with a 2-3 start, they reeled off a club record-tying 11 straight wins and never looked back.

They were so good that the other teams had pretty much conceded the division by the end of May, and the whole summer was like one long victory tour—rolling into one town after another, roughing up pitching staffs and ruffling feathers.  They were cocky and wouldn’t back down from anyone.

The July 22nd brawl in Cincinnati and the Cooters incident in Houston were only two of the scrapes the team got into that summer.  I went to 12 games that year, including two NLCS games and the division clincher on Sept 17th.  But I had to work very hard to see the clincher.

magicnumberWith a magic number of 2, the Mets rolled into Philadelphia on September 12 needing only one win over the second place Phils to celebrate their first division title in 13 years.  I decided to motor on down the NJ Turnpike for the Friday night game to be on hand.

I’d been to that stadium before, and everyone knows the rowdy reputation of Philadelphia sports fans.  I had my cap on so I took some ribbing, but managed to avoid a more hostile confrontation—it’s a good thing I’m not much of a drinker, especially with a long drive ahead of me, or I might have ended up spending part of the night in the on-site police substation-fairly common now, but I think Veterans Stadium was ahead of their time.  The Mets lost, 6-3,  but I don’t have any personal recollection of the details.

I decided then and there to return for Saturday’s game, and made a contingency plan for Sunday, calling a fraternity brother who was from Philly and in law school there, and arranging to  crash at his place in case of another loss.  That, of course, is exactly what happened.  Mike Maddux was unable to retire a batter in the first inning Saturday, but the Mets let the lead slip away, and they were shut out the next day to complete the sweep and leave the Phillies clinging to the slimmest of hopes,

I went home, disappointed, and watched on TV as the Mets lost in St. Louis on Monday, Roger McDowell walked in the only run of the game in the 13th inning, while the Phillies whitewashed the Pirates.  The good guys finally took a step forward the next night, defeating the Cards, 4-2, to clinch a tie and set the stage for a home clincher, which I just had to attend.

September 17th was a Wednesday and I had to work. I was a claims processor at a health insurance company, the best-paying job I could find while I was trying to make it as a drummer, playing in bands and making demo tapes (that’s another story).  At lunch time I went from my workplace in Piscataway, NJ, to downtown New Brunswick, where a used record shop called the Rhythm Stick had a Ticketmaster booth. That’s how we did it in those days.

I was able to land a decent seat—it’s always easier when you’re buying only a single ticket.    I probably brought a change of clothes to work so I could drive directly into the city instead of having to stop at home, unwilling to take unnecessary chances with rush hour traffic. I brought with me the gloves and ski cap I’d used in the Rockies while on my cross-country hitchhiking trip two summers earlier.  It was cold and windy this night and I’d be exposed in a front row mezzanine box seat.

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I was disappointed to find that my favorite player, Keith Hernandez, was under the weather and Dave Magadan was starting at first base. This proved serendipitous, as he drove in Lenny Dykstra with the first run on the third of four straight third inning singles off Dennis Eckersley. Strawberry immediately followed suit to plate Backman.  This was a formula which we had used with great success all year.  With Lenny and Mookie Wilson platooning at CF/leadoff and Backman and Tim Teufel a perfect 2B/two-hole aggregate, it seemed like there were runners on base constantly for our deep batting order to drive home. And Keith, Gary, Straw, and Knight rarely let us down.

Dwight Gooden wasn’t at his sharpest, with five walks to go along with eight strikeouts and six hits allowed, but he took a 4-2 lead into the 9th, and Keith came on for defense.

Growing up in the 70s, my family attended many weekend games which were more and more sparsely attended as the competitive teams of the early part of the decade gave way to the moribund teams highlighted by the likes of Craig Swan, Lee Mazzilli, John Stearns, Lenny Randle, and Skip Lockwood.  All decent players, but you’re not winning any pennants if they’re the best you’ve got.  Attendance dwindled, and it wasn’t difficult either to buy field-level box seats or to change seats for a better location late in the game without any interference from an usher.

1986 clinchTonight was different.  As the 8th inning ended I wasn’t the only one who made his way to the field level, but the ushers were well aware of our intent and blocked each entrance with the ferocity of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell.  Three of us rushed spontaneously at one usher, knowing that unlike the fierce three-headed dog, this warder probably wouldn’t be able to prevent all of us from getting by.  We were right.

I slipped past and made my way through the crush to the rail opposite first base.  I was thrilled to see that Keith had replaced Magadan at 1B, wanting to be on the field when it happened. (This foreshadowed the World Series, as manager John McNamara would give Bill Buckner the same opportunity in Game 6, lucky for us.) The pent-up energy of the entire crowd, over 47,000 strong, could barely be contained as Gooden navigated around a walk and a hit in the ninth.

Then came the final out, a ground ball to Backman.  Even before the ball was in Keith’s glove and the umpire’s fist had gone up signaling the out, a couple of fans had run onto the field. I wasn’t far behind, immediately ripping up a piece of turf from the edge of the outfield grass just to the right of 2B and shoving it under my jacket as I milled around with hundreds, maybe thousands of others, high-fiving and chanting, “We’re Number One!”

shea

I have no idea how long I stayed there before heading toward the parking lot and starting the drive home, listening to the radio postgame interviews, exhausted, ecstatic and hoarse.  The near-impossible task Pete Flynn and his grounds crew had of making the field playable in time for the next afternoon’s game has been well-documented, and that was pretty much the last celebration of its kind, as we soon got used to seeing mounted policemen lining the perimeter of the field to prevent such mayhem.

I might have been a little late for work the next day (and I definitely had no voice) but it was OK, as my supervisor was also a Mets fan.  In fact we had fun during the World Series, noting that Boston catcher Rich Gedman had drooping eyelids and was in need of a cosmetic procedure called a blepharoplasty (we paid medical claims so we were familiar with all kinds of surgeries).

I placed the turf in a shallow round pan about 14 inches across and watered and fed it, hoping it would take hold and I’d have a live memento of that night forever.  Alas, it died within a couple of months, and I now have the desiccated dirt, shot through with strands of dried grass, sitting safely in my lock box as a treasured remembrance.

Within days playoff tickets went on sale and I worked the phone for hours (718 507-TIXX) until I was able to get through and place my order for 2 NLCS games.  Like many others, I rushed home from work in order to catch the end of Game 6 a few days later, and then, unable to get World Series tickets, watched the entire Series from my home, my father joining me for Games 6 and 7, the last time we’d watch World Series games together until 2015.

1986-world-series-mets-red-sox-game-6-mookie-wilson-getty

Roger Kahn wrote nostalgically of the Dodgers of the 50s, the “Boys of Summer.”  The 1986 Mets were my “Boys of Summer.” Circumstances came together to create the greatest experience a fan could have, and one I’ll never forget–my team dominating the league for the entire season, and me getting to witness much of it firsthand and up close.

Of course, all good things come to an end, and that was that team’s pinnacle.  1987 was marred by DL time for the entire rotation, between Gooden’s suspension and injuries to all the other starting pitchers. 1988 ended in disappointing fashion.  I moved to Key West in 1989 and was distanced from a lot of the turmoil of the next few years, including “the worst team money can buy.”  With many transplanted New Yorkers in South Florida, the “New York Mets Radio Network” extended down here only until the Marlins came into being, and even by 2000 other media formats weren’t well enough developed for me to have access beyond newspapers and what games were broadcast locally.

The 2015 season was the first championship season I was able to enjoy on a daily basis since 1986, and I’m sure I’m not alone in calling it my favorite season since then.  I think the presence of so many home-grown players makes it more satisfying than 2006, and we have a lot to look forward to as they develop and hopefully form the nucleus of a championship team for the next decade (Syndergaard 2016 Cy Young—you saw it here first!). I’m confident that the 30th anniversary of the great 1986 team will end  with a similar celebration. Let’s Go Mets!

I was born as the Mets were taking the field for their first Spring Training (late February, 1962) but didn’t become a fanatic until Tug McGraw issued his famous (and sarcastic) rallying cry, “Ya Gotta Believe,” in 1973. Since then I’ve bled orange and blue. I’m currently a social worker in Fort Lauderdale Fl, where I can watch the Mets nightly through the miracle of the Internet. I was close enough to Bartolo Colon to see his sweat when he made his amazing behind-the-back flip last September in Miami against the Marlins. Can’t wait to see them climb the final steps to the mountaintop in 2016, and for the next several years.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Mets Fan In Paradise. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Featured Post: Mets Should Make Cespedes An Aggressive One-Year Offer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/featured-post-mets-should-make-cespedes-an-aggressive-one-year-offer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/featured-post-mets-should-make-cespedes-an-aggressive-one-year-offer.html/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 16:03:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204040 Cespedes Yoenis

An MMO Fan Shot by Robert Walsh

Just wanted to get your thoughts as to what you think about the prospects and value of a strong 1-year pillow contract offer to Yoenis Cespedes. A strong $24-$26 million, one-year deal may be enough for him at the going rate.

It doesn’t sound as if he is going to get that 6-year/$150 million he’s looking for and next year’s free agent class is by far less crowded than this one meaning he may be better positioned to land the nine figure prize he and his agents are aiming for.

Also the Tigers, Angels and White Sox (notably the likeliest of all remaining landing spots) are all on the record touting that they would not go beyond a three year deal for him.

Given Cespedes’ age the time is ticking for him to cash in on that monstrous deal. A three year deal puts him in a bad spot to land his optimum value over the next six years. He may be willing to decline a three year deal somewhere for the prospect of proving his haters wrong and cashing in on that Powerball of a payday a year from now. If he took a three-year deal he would be 33 at the end of it.

I am also a strong proponent of what the Mets did with Neil Walker on getting players with one year left who are motivated for a large payday. You get a very high quality player seeking to prove themselves worthy of that sweet multiyear deal AND also very importantly a declined qualifying offer at the end of the year resulting in a high draft pick.

I would also argue that of the next six years, the Mets would likely be getting and paying for the most productive year for Cespedes (and Walker) at a much more affordable rate.

Cespedes and Duda

If Cespedes were to be open to a one-year offer wouldn’t it make sense for him to strongly consider a showcase spot with his most recent team? A team that just landed him an opportunity to show his talents off on the largest stage in baseball (obviously with regrettable outcomes)?

If he were to be amenable to a one year showcase it would behoove him to choose a team that is on the upside with a strong potential for a deep playoff run and almost equally important a weak division to play in.

The Mets may be in budget mode, but I like this deal for them. They could either hang on to the rest of their outfield or get smart and try to flip an asset like Juan Lagares or Alejandro De Aza (with his agreement) for a lock-down type arm to pair with Jeurys Familia for late inning relief.

This also adds the power bat that is still very much needed to protect the rest of the lineup and drive in runs. So while we have an an elite pitching staff, if we want to win games we will still need a lineup that can put up three or four runs a night – a valuable lesson from 2015 – if we want to be any better than .500.

Our coveted pitching staff is only going to be bargain basement cheap for another 2-3 years depending on when ownership gets smart and starts locking at least some of them up. Subject for another day… The time is now for the defending NL Champion Mets to spend like the team we are and pony up for that one or two extra pieces we need to ensure we are once again playing November baseball. Let’s Go Mets get this done already!!!

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Robert Walsh. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: Where Does Piazza Rank Among The Greatest Catchers Of All Time http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-where-does-piazza-rank-among-the-greatest-catchers-of-all-time.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-where-does-piazza-rank-among-the-greatest-catchers-of-all-time.html/#comments Sat, 09 Jan 2016 20:06:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203926 mike piazza day

An MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love

The arc of the baseball universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  And so, Mike Piazza, a true superstar, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his fourth attempt.  Piazza’s failure to muster the requisite 75% of votes his first three years on the ballot was a true travesty, based on unsubstantiated rumors about steroid use stemming from nothing more than a case of back acne.  He now joins another superstar, Ken Griffey, Jr., as the class of 2016.

After Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza was the greatest player the Mets ever had.  Before his Met days, he was already a 5-time All Star with the Dodgers.  He was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins and played for them for about a week before the Mets got him in May of 1998.  It was one of the few times in Mets history that ownership did something that was both big and smart — the kind of move to give a resurgent team a chance at winning it all.

It almost worked.

The Mets in Piazza’s first year missed the playoffs by one game (after losing the last 5 games of the season).  In 1999, they lost a brutal playoff to the Braves, when Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run.  And in 2000, they actually made it to the World Series but lost to the Yankees in 5 games. And, sadly, that was it.  In Piazza’s final five seasons the team was mediocre at best finishing third twice, fourth once and fifth twice.

But the Mets’ regression to the mean cannot be blamed on Piazza.  In his 8 years with the Mets, he was a remarkable presence in the middle of the lineup, hitting 220 home runs, knocking in 665 runs and batting .296.  And the stats can’t possibly measure his star power — the kind of electricity that he brought with him every time he stepped to the plate.  (So electric that Roger Clemens was compelled to heave a piece of a broken bat at him during the 2000 World Series.)  Piazza had a flair for the dramatic, and most notable was the inspirational game-winning home run he hit on 9/21/11, the first game after the 9/11 attacks.

Piazza’s career offensive numbers are staggering.  He batted.300 in nine consecutive seasons (1991-2001) and leads all catchers in career home runs with 427.  He boasts a .308 career batting average, 1335 RBI, 2127  hits, 344 doubles and 1048 runs scored.  These would be remarkable numbers for any player but for a catcher who has to crouch behind the plate for nine innings, and get beat up and worn down by foul tips, hard slides and other aches and pains like no other position player, it is unfathomable.

mike piazza gear

Mike Piazza is surely the greatest hitting catcher ever.  Other than dermatological issues, the only other mark against him was his middling skill behind the plate.  Admittedly, it was sometimes painful to watch Piazza try to throw out runners or block balls in the dirt.  On the other hand, it has been said that he was an excellent handler of pitchers, a skill less observable by the causal fan.

In a profile in the Wall Street Journal, Piazza was asked where he would rank himself on the list of all time great catchers, and he replied, “in the top five”

I’m a humble person, but I’d definitely put myself in the top five. I’d say Johnny [Bench] first for his charisma and talent—then I’d say Roy Campanella—he won three MVPs, after all. And Yogi Berra. If I put myself over Yogi, people would say, ‘Who does he think he is, he put himself over Yogi?’

Great question, and I don’t think Piazza’s answer is too far off.  He may not be in the top five, but he is pretty close.

Piazza ignores a trio of legendary catchers from the 1920s and 1930s, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett, as well as the two Pudges:  Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.  Then there’s Gary Carter, another Met, who I wrote about here.

With the exception of Rodriguez, who is not yet eligible, all these catchers are in the Hall of Fame, and Piazza fits quite comfortably within this group.  Bench, Berra, Cochrane are generally considered the top three.  Campanella is next.  The fifth slot has got to go to Rodriguez, who may rate even higher.  Then, probably, comes Piazza.  While he didn’t have defensive skills anywhere close to Hartnett, Dickey, Carter or Fisk, Piazza’s far superior hitting arguably more than compensates for his lesser fielding prowess.

But wherever you put him on the top ten list, Mike Piazza is indisputably one of the greatest catchers of all time.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Noah Syndergaard In The Bullpen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-for-noah-syndergaard-in-the-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-for-noah-syndergaard-in-the-bullpen.html/#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 14:00:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203637 Syndergaard Noah

It was game five of the 2015 NLDS and the improbable Mets had gone toe to toe with the favored Dodgers in the shadows of LA. And the all-star Jacob deGrom had once again gone round for round with the game’s best, Clayton Kershaw. And deGrom was winning on the cards while the Mets garnered a razor thin one run lead after six.

Unfortunately this was an opportunity the Mets let slip through their hands a few too many times during the regular season. Their bullpen found itself in the bottom half of baseball in 2015 with 21 blown saves. The issues in the pen were well-known to fans and the front office alike, from Bobby Parnell’s batting practice outings to Jenrry Mejia’s double fault in the piss cup. The front office overpaid for the statistically reliable but optically heart-wrenching Tyler Clippard, took a chance on Addison Reed who lost his closing role in the desert, and burned their way through a carousel of inadequate lefty specialists.

The bullpen’s only saving grace was Jeurys Familia and his bionic arm. Perhaps the best closer the team has ever had, with the ability to go 6 outs to boot. But Familia was an island of certainty in an ocean of ineptitude. The towering land mass that was the starting rotation needed a bridge to Familia in this game of paramount importance. And thus they turned to the man who shares a god’s name—the Herculean Noah Syndergaard who stands six feet, seven inches off the ground and unleashes the full power of his otherworldly arsenal with little regard for human life. Thor. Syndergaard turned the Dodgers away with ease in the 7th inning, and the Mets were on their way to the LCS.

With the bullpen once again a burgeoning concern as the Mets approach pitchers and catchers, perhaps they can turn to what worked in Los Angeles for their answer in the bullpen. Perhaps Noah Syndergaard is the man they need to suture the leaky back end. Of course, one could argue with relative ease the case for keeping Syndergaard in the rotation. But here is why they might want to give Syndergaard a look in the pen.

Protect the Arm

Look, the data regarding innings limits and their effectiveness is fuzzy. This article is not meant to debate the merits of limiting a young pitcher’s use. However, Noah Syndergaard’s 2015 workload is worth a look, as regards his health. He went from 133 innings pitched in 2014 to 198.2 innings pitched in 2015. A 65 inning workload bump is virtually unheard of for a young pitcher. This raises not only questions of health but questions of fatigue. Yeah, the Verducci Effect has been more or less debunked. But on a case by case basis, you will find many pitchers adversely affected by large increases in workloads. Generally in MLB, 40 innings is considered a standard workload increase. 68 innings is on the high, high end of the spectrum. It could be worth it to move Syndergaard to the pen as a preventative measure against injury and/or fatigue.

noah syndergaard

Length Matters

Adding Syndergaard to the bullpen lengthens the back end substantially. In Syndergaard, you have a setup man who is easily capable of recording 6 outs. Although his LHB splits were not great last season, the Mets can reasonably assume that in a relief role, with his full arsenal and the ability to cut loose, splits will improve against left and right handed batters. Syndergaard removes the Terry Collins reliever shuffle. Put him in attack mode and let him go after Bryce Harper in the 7th or 8th inning, and continue pitching until it is Familia’s turn. With two elite arms each capable of recording 6 outs, the Mets’ other weaknesses in the pen are mitigated as weaker pitchers are reduced to smaller workloads.

A Shutdown Pen

Go through the league and you will count on one hand the number of teams with two pitchers in the pen who can match the caliber of Syndergaard and Familia. Even in their best years, the Mets have lacked a truly shutdown pen—the kind the Kansas City Royals rode to consecutive AL Titles and a World Series banner. What will the win/loss column results reflect if the Mets can reduce their blown saves from 21 to 14, or 21 to 12? The game is shifting and reliance on a solid bullpen is growing. The Mets will still have one of baseball’s best rotations with their top-end talent. Syndergaard gives them the chance to parlay an elite rotation into an elite rotation and a shutdown pen.

Familia Insurance

Familia was an extremely valuable piece in 2015. Some would argue he was the team’s MVP. But is he infallible? In the World Series he showed vulnerability, perhaps fueled by fatigue. Familia has shouldered some of baseball’s biggest relief workloads in the last two seasons. With the addition of the splitter, a notoriously dangerous pitch, to his repertoire, Familia could be teetering on the brink of injury. And if he goes down, the Mets have no one to turn to…unless Syndergaard is also in the pen. With a scorching heater and demoralizing breaking stuff, Syndergaard can transition to the closer role easily. Syndergaard provides all-important depth to the pen to complement depth the Mets have added throughout their bench.

Conclusion

Moving Syndergaard to the bullpen is not a cure-all. It weakens the rotation but substantially strengthens the pen. So we must assess the increased value in the pen compared to the decreased value in the rotation. What has been left unsaid to this point is that moving Noah Syndergaard to the pen does not have to be permanent. With Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia both expected to return midseason, rotation and pen options will increase. Noah Syndergaard can be implemented back into the rotation midseason, if necessary, and he will presumably be well-rested at that point, with far fewer innings under his belt than he would normally have. Syndergaard in the pen allows the Mets a half-season to gauge the abilities of a guy like Reed and the progress of guys like Hansel Robles and Eric Goeddel. Noah Syndergaard’s talents are elite and diverse, and the Mets might have an opportunity to leverage that diversity while they search for answers in their bullpen.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by an MMO reader who wished to remain anonymous. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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Our Favorite 2015 Fan Shots: #5 The Moment The Mets Woke Up http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/our-favorite-2015-fan-shots-5-the-moment-the-mets-woke-up.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/our-favorite-2015-fan-shots-5-the-moment-the-mets-woke-up.html/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2015 03:55:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203326 granderson curtis

As the year comes to a close, we decided to highlight our Top 5 Fan Shots of the 2015 season. There were so many great ones this year, but these five really stood out for us during this incredible Mets season. Enjoy and keep those Fan Shots coming!

An MMO Fan Shot by Eric Heller

If “The ‘15 Mets” takes on that special status we give to those magic teams, like “86” or “69”, I think you can point to a very specific, mostly overlooked moment from an excruciating July game that transformed our frustrating, dead-end year into one of the most exciting regular seasons we’ve had since….well, since a very long time.

I’m not talking about “Wilmer’s Tears” or “Cespedes for the Rest of Us” or all the other soon-to-be (hopefully) legendary moments from this (hopefully) legendary year.

Let me take you back to that brutal, toss-your-shoe-at the-TV game against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was July 19. Eighteen innings. Remember that? Six hours of agony. Our crappy team was 1-26 with RISP that day, and I was about ready to shoot myself.

It was the top of the 13th. The Mets offense was particularly offensive… As it had been for weeks. Yes, there was that winning streak in April, when we had first place by a mile, before we gave it all back by June. Now it was July, and the Mets were on their way to another “Just Wait ‘Till the Year After Next Year” year.

And then, something happened that changed them in a deep and profound way. Curtis Granderson hit a single, an actual hit in extra innings. That was miracle enough, but as he rounded first, he decided to try for an extra base. I really believe it was his way of saying “enough of this bullshit.” I swear, you could see the idea light up his face as he decided to do it. That’s how I remember it, anyway. Here’s the actual moment:

That’s right, a Hustle Double. I sat right up, and I said, “Whoa! Who are these guys?”

And then Kevin Plawecki did this:

Okay, they also left a bunch of runners on in that inning. And yeah. the Cardinals would go on to tie the game, and it took a few more innings for the Mets to score again and finally win the damn thing. They battled hard that night. That win against the Cardinals showed the Mets had some pent-up fire in them after all.

It took the trades, and the tears, for things to really take off, but I think you can point to Granderson’s Dash as the moment this team woke up. The moment when they became The 2015 Mets… The team we’ve all fallen in love with… The team we’re about to ride into October, and maybe even November. That moment stands out for me as the turning point to all of it.

And the rest, we can hope, is history.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Eric Heller. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: You Can Never Have Enough Pitching http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mmo-fan-shot-you-can-never-have-enough-pitching.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mmo-fan-shot-you-can-never-have-enough-pitching.html/#comments Wed, 16 Dec 2015 18:39:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202636 bartolo colon nlds

An MMO Fan Shot by John Sasso

Editors Note: This Fan Shot was written before the Mets announced they had signed Bartolo Colon. There’s still some value here and I hope you appreciate the work John put into this.

With the recent trade of Jon Niese, the Mets enter the 2016 season needing a fifth starter. With realistic playoff aspirations a cut above the typical minor league free agents should be a priority, while the eventual return of Zack Wheeler should preclude shopping on the higher end of the free agent market. With the escalating costs of mediocre back end starters (Mike Pelfrey, two-years, $16 million?) shopping for bargains has gotten a lot more difficult.

Listed below are the options that are readily available that I arbitrarily decided should get a major league contract at or below $10 million.

Bartolo Colon – The “BIG Sexy”; his signing was widely criticized at the time, yet all he did was provide family fun entertainment while pitching 397 innings. While he ate up some of the leagues weaker lineups he did provide some gems when the team needed those most. What to expect in 2016 is the same lovable yet fallible pitcher we have watched over the last two seasons. Fangraphs has him getting 1 year, $10M

Mat Latos – Had a horrible 2015, but prior to that was an above average pitcher. A career low LOB% and a career high BABIP appear to be outliers, as his K/9, BB/9 and type of contact trended towards his career averages. He has gotten away from using the slider, throwing less than 20% of the time for the first time in his career, in favor of what Fangraphs is classifying a splitter. A solid rebound candidate, who with a season under Dan Warthen could improve his stock going into a much less crowded FA class in 2016. Fangraphs is a bit overly optimistic in my view at 2 years and $22 million, I have him at one year with a $6 million guarantee and incentives that can bring it up to $10M.

Tim Lincecum – The former multi-Cy Young winner has been a shell of his former self since 2011. The last few years have seen him reduced to a back end starter/long man. Recovering from hip surgery, he is expected to hold a showcase next month to demonstrate his progress. It doesn’t sound hopeful that he will be ready by opening day. Fangraphs has him at 1 year, $6M

Cliff Lee – Another former Cy Young winner on the mend, Lee has recently been given the all-clear by doctors that he is healthy enough to pitch in 2016. I haven’t heard of a showcase on schedule, but it would be a safe assumption one will be announced shortly. He reportedly wants to sign with a winning team. Jon Heyman recently tweeted “probably gets more than you’d think” in regards to the salary expectations. Not listed among the Fangraphs top 82, I would expect a $3M base with heavy incentives based on starts and innings pitched.

Henderson Alvarez – Has up to a dozen teams showing interest. He has youth and the recent track record that justify the amount of attention he is garnering at the moment. Though with the expectation that he will miss the start of the 2016 season, and with shoulders being less reliably rebuilt than elbows (ask Johan) Alvarez doesn’t fit what the Mets need. He was due to make around $4M in arbitration before he was non-tendered, a deal in that range should still be enough to bring him in.

Justin Masterson – The enigmatic starter hasn’t touched 200 IP since 2012, and hasn’t performed above league average since 2013. He reportedly has as many as five suitors. Masterson’s stuff can be tantalizing, even if the results are incongruous. I imagine most pitching coaches believe they can fix him, which then leads me to comp him to Zambrano, which is enough to scare me away. Somehow got $9.5 last season, anything more than $5M would be an overpay.

Doug Fister – Another decent pitcher who had a down season in 2015. Fister signing on a one year deal to put himself back on the market next offseason makes a ton of sense. The velocity dip is cause for concern, especially for a pitcher who never threw that hard to begin with. He appears to have a fair amount of teams looking at him to rebound, probably just enough to price him out of a typical rebound contract. I think he signs a 1 year, $10M somewhere, a little too rich for my taste.

Bronson Arroyo – He was always a frequent target during the 2013 and 2014 off-seasons. At the time, the big selling point was his consistent health and durability. All of that changed with TJS in 2014. Traded twice this previous season, he finds himself on the mend and looking for work. I would imagine at his advanced age, playing for a winner would be among his top priorities. He could conceivably replace Colon’s production, just not as entertaining. A major league contract could be enough to bring him into camp Let’s say $1 million with lots of incentives.

Brandon Morrow – A very enticing arm at one time, never really needed “fixing” it’s just he has never been able to stay healthy. He is once again coming back from injury with a timeline to begin throwing shortly, a deal similar to last season’s, leaning heavily on incentives with minimal cash guarantee appears to be his ceiling.

Screenshot (3)

Five years ago one could have built a rotation that would be the envy of the league with this list, but today it doesn’t add up to much. The volatility of a pitcher’s health is all the more reason to have additional arms on hand to start the year. Most teams typically use about 7-8 different starting pitchers in a season. In 2015, the Mets used ten. While we all hope to see all of the Mets’ Big 5 in the rotation at the same time this season, the probability of that happening for a long duration is probably overly optimistic.

Logan Verrett, Rafael Montero, and Sean Gilmartin could all be in the equation. I for one would feel better about the depth if Verrett and Gilmartin are starting at Triple-A Las Vegas in case they are needed at some point while Wheeler mends. I have seen enough Carlos Torres spot starts over the last few years to know I don’t want to deal with him for a few turns through the rotation.

With all that said I am actually in favor of bringing in two of the above pitchers. While a return of Colon appears to be in the bag, I would lean towards Latos at a lower cost and a higher upside, and I like Morrow knowing the very real possibility he likely ends up in the bullpen.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by John Sasso. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: Mets Need To Strike While The Stove Is Hot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mo-fan-shot-mets-need-to-strike-while-the-stove-is-hot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/mo-fan-shot-mets-need-to-strike-while-the-stove-is-hot.html/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 21:25:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202288 daniel murphy game over

An MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love

I can still see Daniel Murphy reaching for his lip balm after another brutal error. I still think about Lucas Duda‘s wild throw and Familia’s quick pitch and the far-too-many weak at bats and missed opportunities that gave the Series to the Royals. But the excruciating trauma of losing the World Series is gradually giving way to the hope that the Mets will make those pivotal trades and acquisitions to bolster the team and put them over the top in 2016.

After all, as I wrote a month ago (has it only been a month?), it is all about creating a New Met Narrative:

For Met fans, there is always a lingering sense that disappointment is not far off — that the Mets’ penny-wise owners will not do what it takes to keep the team competitive and that something unexpected but nevertheless devastating will undermine the team’s seemingly limitless future. But, things feel different this time. The Mets have a deep core of great young talent, savvy veterans, and apparently great chemistry. They surely need to make a few changes and add some key new pieces this off season, but maybe, just maybe, this is the start of a new era. Maybe it is time for a new narrative. Not lovable losers or unlovable losers tempered by the occasional miracle, but a truly solid baseball team that doesn’t have to rely on magic to win.

As we gather around the hot stove enduring the cold months without baseball, however, I’m getting that old helpless feeling that Mets ownership is going to try to get away with doing as little as possible, once again pretending to be a small market team lacking the wherewithal to make a big market move. Sure, they will tinker with a couple of middling deals to strengthen some of the team’s more glaring weaknesses and add a little bit of depth. But they will preemptively opt out of any major deals, insisting they have to keep payroll down.

Or like the ill-fated deal for Michael Cuddyer last year, management will satisfy a bizarre urge to spend money on the wrong players. This year’s candidate: Ben Zobrist. For some reason the Mets were enamored of this aging utility man and were willing to give him a lucrative 4-year contract. Luckily he signed elsewhere. The Mets, to their credit, deftly pivoted and flipped Jonathan Niese, a perennially underachieving lefty pitcher, for Neil Walker, a very solid second baseman who will more than adequately compensate for the loss of the aforementioned Murphy (who with his lip balm and porous glove is thankfully moving on).

They also signed free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, a strong-hitting, good-enough fielding infielder who with Walker, give the Mets flexibility around the horn — flexibility that is terribly important given the tenuous nature of David Wright‘s back and questions surrounding erstwhile folk hero Wilmer Flores and the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time Dilson Herrera.

Cespedes Yoenis

I like these moves but they are not nearly enough. The Mets still need a big bat for the middle of their lineup — a bat they were woefully missing last year until they signed Yoenis Cespedes, who carried them to the playoffs.

Cespedes, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are the pricey free agents available this year, but the Mets don’t seem to be in the running for any of them. They are reportedly looking at cheaper solutions — platoon players who can plug some holes as opposed to superstars who can change the entire dynamic. And, again, it appears to be because they claim they don’t have the money, not because they don’t think any of these players would markedly strengthen the team. This is bullshit.

As Michael Powell of the New York Times summarizes:

The Mets’ claim of sackcloth poverty seems worth interrogating. The Wilpons trusted their grifter friend Bernard L. Madoff, and so fell on hard times. And the debt service on their new stadium is pretty high.

But as Howard Megdal of Capital New York has noted, somewhere between $45 million and $60 million rained down upon the Wilpons in this autumn’s baseball festivities. Ratings and ad rates are up significantly on SNY, in which the Mets own a majority share.

And as my colleague Richard Sandomir has noted, ticket sales are up. Expectations are up too. After years of mediocrity or worse, the Mets finally have the makings of a great team and nothing short of a World Series win is going to satisfy the fan base. And that is how it should be. As tough as it was to lose the World Series the way they did, it would be absolutely devastating if that turned out to be all there was — if that was the pinnacle of this incarnation of the team.

But time is of the essence. The key to the Mets’ success is their incredible young pitching staff. But Matt Harvey becomes a free agent in 2018, and the others soon thereafter. And with arbitration years kicking in prior to free agency, the team will have to start paying a premium in order to keep the staff together, which ownership is not likely to do. Not to mention the ugly possibility that one or more of them will suffer injury.

The time to make a big move is now. The time to spend money like the big market team they actually are is now. If it is true that the team is really one slugging superstar away, they’ve got to make that happen — even if it means offering too much money or too many years. (In my view, Heyward was by far the best, albeit most expensive, choice.) As Met fans know better than most, having a genuine chance to win a championship is not something to be squandered.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: Who Says Cespedes Can’t Hit Good Pitching? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-who-says-cespedes-cant-hit-good-pitching.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-who-says-cespedes-cant-hit-good-pitching.html/#comments Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:02:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201047 Cespedes Yoenis

An MMO Fan Shot by Peter S.

I have to admit, I can’t believe how many fans are buying into the “Yoenis Cespedes can’t hit good pitching” rhetoric. We are playing right into the Front Office’s hands by believing he is not good and isn’t worth a contract this offseason. Well, I don’t fall into that category. We are letting the Front Office let the best player we’ve ever had (besides Beltran) walk. Ok, Wright in his heyday was better – but you get my point.

So, I decided to do a little bit of research. I didn’t go into OPS as I believe it is not a good stat in small samples as a couple of homeruns can really weigh it in a players favor. Here goes:

The Question:

How would the top nine free agent hitters fare vs the last 10 winners of the Cy Young Award over the previous six seasons from both leagues?

The Cy Young Award Winners:

  1. Jake Arrieta
  2. R.A. Dickey
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Zack Greinke
  5. Clayton Kershaw
  6. Dallas Keuchel
  7. Corey Kluber
  8. David Price
  9. Max Scherzer
  10. Justin Verlander

The Top 9 Free Agent Hitters:

Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Daniel Murphy, Chris Davis, Ian Desmond, Alex Gordon and Denard Span

So I pondered…what would these guys do, over 600 at-bats, vs the top pitchers in the game from the last 6 years? I mean, surely, the Cy Young winners is a good and fair barometer, right? So let’s start with the actual AB vs these pitchers:

Cumulative Numbers:
H AB BA HR RBI
Cespedes 41 147 .279 8 20
Upton 23 114 .202 5 13
Heyward 23 86 .267 1 5
Zobrist 40 214 .187 5 15
Murphy 22 74 .297 5 10
Davis 40 153 .261 4 17
Desmond 18 103 .175 3 4
Gordon 52 231 .225 8 25
Span 44 167 .263 1 10

Now, let’s look at each player’s career numbers over 162 games:

Career 162 Game Average:
H AB BA HR RBI
Cespedes 172 634 .271 30 103
Upton 161 592 .272 26 84
Heyward 156 583 .268 19 68
Zobrist 156 588 .265 17 77
Murphy 173 602 .287 11 72
Davis 146 574 .254 37 101
Desmond 160 608 .263 19 75
Gordon 163 605 .269 19 75
Span 187 651 .287 6 57

And finally, what would those guys’ numbers look like if they each faced this group of pitchers over 600 at-bats, to me, the best way to judge what that small sample really means:

Numbers over 600 AB
H AB BA HR RBI
Cespedes 167 600 .279 33 82
Upton 121 600 .202 26 68
Heyward 160 600 .267 7 35
Zobrist 112 600 .187 14 42
Murphy 178 600 .297 41 81
Davis 157 600 .261 16 67
Desmond 105 600 .175 17 23
Gordon 135 600 .225 21 65
Span 158 600 .263 4 36

I never thought I’d see Murphy’s numbers pop out like this, but it shows how well he fares vs good pitching. Of course, that is nowhere near his regular career home run numbers. So perhaps it’s just an outlier.

Cespedes, on the other hand, came in at .279 – 33 – 82 even though all we’ve been hearing is that he cannot hit good pitching. Obviously, these numbers prove otherwise. In fact, these numbers show that just about half of these guys can’t hit good pitching  consistently (Desmond, Zobrist, Gordon & Upton hit .225 or worse). Power wise, Cespedes is ahead of every free agent OF on this list, and well ahead of prodigious home run hitter Chris Davis.

Denard Span, who is reportedly a Met target, had a woeful showing so how is he going to help replace Cespedes? You want Zobrist over Murphy? I hope you see the difference in consistency vs good pitching.

But of course, this is a very small sample, and does not mean anything. But, can we stop saying that Cespedes can’t hit good pitching? Can we please stop talking like Zobrist is the answer? Judging either of these guys based on 150 AB or so makes a lot more sense than judging them based on playoff numbers. But, just in case people are wondering, career numbers for each player in the playoffs:

Postseason Career:
H AB BA HR RBI
Cespedes 26 94 .277 3 14
Upton 11 48 .229 2 4
Heyward 11 53 .208 2 6
Zobrist 34 132 .258 4 9
Murphy 19 58 .328 7 11
Davis 5 24 .208 0 2
Desmond 10 37 .270 0 0
Gordon 24 108 .222 3 17
Span 12 47 .255 0 1

And if you extrapolate their postseason performance over 600 ABs:

Numbers over 600 ABs:
H AB BA HR RBI
Cespedes 166 600 .277 19 89
Upton 138 600 .229 25 50
Heyward 125 600 .208 23 68
Zobrist 155 600 .258 18 41
Murphy 197 600 .328 72 114
Davis 125 600 .208 0 50
Desmond 162 600 .270 0 0
Gordon 133 600 .222 17 94
Span 153 600 .255 0 13

To be fair, Cespedes’ power numbers are cut in a 1/3 off his career, but in terms of batting average, he is right on par with his career numbers. Ben Zobrist can’t shine Murphy’s shoes over 600 playoff AB. Alex Gordon, Mr. “KC Royals approach” – he has a career .222 BA in the playoffs. Not exactly consistent.

And of course, the one guy who will likely get the biggest contract this offseason is Jason Heyward. Please review his numbers above, and think to yourself… Is this guy really getting a better deal than Cespedes? Please, he is not a great player. He is not in Cespedes’ class offensively.

OK, so this argument has major flaws. I get it, there are more overall stats and the old “eye test” to consider. I mean, the NL figured out Cespedes, he can’t possibly make adjustments because he is a head case. I know, I know. He is not worth $20 million a year. I get it. People are scared. Just please, don’t tell me he can’t hit good pitching. It’s just not true. In fact, statistically speaking, he is the second best free agent hitter available vs good pitching. Of course, Sir Murphy is No. 1.

Thanks for giving me a few minutes to vent.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Peter S.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: What Should Mets Do This Offseason? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-what-should-mets-do-this-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-what-should-mets-do-this-offseason.html/#comments Sun, 22 Nov 2015 19:46:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199096 nlcs citi field dugout

An MMO Fan Shot by Dave in Spain

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Mets and how they can improve for 2016. I don´t think they need to make a lot of changes, as the core of the team is pretty good. But here are my thoughts on what they should do.

Team Strengths

Starting PitchingMatt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz make a great first four, and Zack Wheeler will be coming back in June or July. They´ll need a stopgap, but more on that later.

Closer - Jeurys Familia.

Corner OutfieldMichael Conforto in LF and Curtis Granderson in RF

CatcherTravis d’Arnaud is solid as long as he stays healthy. Kevin Plawecki is a good backup.

First BaseLucas Duda is maddeningly streaky, but is patient, gets on base, and can hit with unusual power. Worth keeping, unless you could get Edwin Encarnación or Paul Goldschmidt, but that´s not happening. And Duda is under team control for two more seasons, which dovetails nicely with the arrival of Dominic Smith.

Question Marks

Second Base – The Mets are clearly planning on having Dilson Herrera man the keystone. As with any rookie, you never know, but based on his numbers in the minors and all the comments I´ve read about him, it’s worth giving him a shot. If he succeeds, he could match Daniel Murphy´s numbers, more or less, with better D. If he fails, slide Wilmer Flores over to 2B.

Shortstop – Wilmer Flores will never be Ozzie Smith or Rey Ordonez, but he´s improved in the field and gives you unusual power for a SS. He´s still very young (24), and works hard on improving. You’d like to see a higher OBP, but he can hold the fort until Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario challenge him. And if he has to move to 2B, Tejada can back him up.

Third Base – Which David Wright will show up in 2016? Will he play a full season? Will he still be able to hit for average? Has he lost his power? The team clearly needs a backup option just in case.

Center Field  - Ah, Juan Lagares. The million-dollar question… Will his arm be healed by the spring? Was 2014 an offseason outlier? This is a potential area for improvement – see below.

Bullpen – There are some promising arms, but we might need somebody from the outside. Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Logan Verrett, Carlos Torres, and Sean Gilmartin (Will he stay as a reliever, or will they stretch him out in Vegas to be a starter?) have all been pretty reliable, and with another year under their belts they could be even better. Parnell, Carlyle, Blevins, and Clippard are gone, and I can´t see Mejia getting another chance.

denatd span

Offseason Plan

1. The Mets need a leadoff hitter. Grandy has done an admirable job there, but his power could be put to better use somewhere in the middle of the lineup. I would target one of either Dexter Fowler or Denard Span to play CF. Both are leadoff hitters. Fowler has more power, and is a switch hitter, while Span (if recovered from his hip surgery) is a lefty bat with a higher BA and OBP. Both can steal around 20-25 bases per year. Having either a LH or SW batter will balance the lineup. Both will be in demand, but will not command an Upton, Cespedes or Heyward sized contract.

2. I would trade Jon Niese for a solid utility/backup 3B, a strong setup reliever, and/or prospects. The acquiring team would get a solid lefty with one more guaranteed year at a reasonable price and two team option years.

3. I would re-sign Bartolo Colon. He could be a starter until Wheeler comes back, then transition to the pen. He’s older than the hills in baseball terms, but he can still pitch, and has been a great influence on all the Mets younger pitchers. If you don´t re-sign him, you still have Verrett, who has pitched pretty well this year as a starter, to be the stopgap starter for the first half.

4. I would get a solid utility player for 3B, either as a free agent or via a trade. While Juan Uribe is getting old, his overall numbers in 2015 were good, and he was great in the clubhouse.

Starting Lineup

I know that there are a lot of possible variations here, and it would change over the course of the year anyway, but this is a starting point.

  1. Dexter Fowler (S) or Denard Span (L) – CF
  2. David Wright (R) – 3B
  3. Curtis Granderson (L) – RF
  4. Travis d’Arnaud (R) – C
  5. Lucas Duda (L) – 1B
  6. Wilmer Flores (R) – SS
  7. Michael Conforto (L) – LF
  8. Dilson Herrera (R) – 2B

Bench

  1. Kevin Plawecki
  2. Ruben Tejada
  3. Juan Lagares
  4. Michael Cuddyer
  5. Kelly Johnson or Juan Uribe

Starting Rotation

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Bartolo Colon / Zack Wheeler

Bullpen

  1. Jeurys Familia
  2. Addison Reed
  3. Hansel Robles
  4. Erik Goeddel
  5. Logan Verrett or Carlos Torres
  6. Sean Gilmartin
  7. Josh Smoker

Finances

This team would come in at around $105-108 million. Colon would probably get around what Niese would have been paid. Murphy, Parnell, Clippard will all be gone. There are some arbitration raises, but the Fowler/Span signing would probably be in the $12-15 million range for three years. Very do-able, and it leaves open the flexibility to sign one or more of our young pitchers to extensions when the time comes.

It´s time to get to work on 2016, and I don´t see the front office making sweeping changes to the team. But a few key additions, combined with good health (and a backup plan just in case), should put us right back the hunt next year. Let´s Go Mets!

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Dave in Spain. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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The 2015 Mets: A Journey To Remember http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/the-2015-mets-a-journey-to-remember.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/the-2015-mets-a-journey-to-remember.html/#comments Sat, 21 Nov 2015 16:48:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=200648 mets win nlcs

Mets fan Drew Palazzo wrote in to MMO this morning to share his thrilling tribute video dedicated to the 2015 Mets.

He writes:

“Looking back on 2015, I personally believe that the New York Mets proved to us that a story doesn’t necessarily require a happy ending in order to be truly memorable. The season ended up being all about the journey, an exhilarating one that we’ll never forget! ”

Enjoy the show…

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MMO Fan Shot: Because We’re Mets Fans, That’s Why http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-because-were-mets-fans-thats-why.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-because-were-mets-fans-thats-why.html/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 16:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199013 mets fans citi field world series

An MMO Fan Shot by Eric Heller

I am a Mets fan, in the full sense of the word: I am a fanatic. I like to rail against fanaticism in the real world, but I give myself a pass for baseball. It’s ridiculous, basically. It’s a game and it doesn’t matter. So why does a killer ending to a Mets season cut a fan off at the emotional knees?

Because we’re fanatics, that’s why.

I’ve been a Mets fan since I was ten years old – I’m 49 now – so this is the longest relationship I’ve had  in my life. It’s been mostly a rocky marriage. I could list out all the excruciating New York Mets failures, but why waste good bandwidth. Here’s a Google search with 1,560,000 results. Have it.

Usually the Mets are bad from start to finish, and for a momentary madness here on the day after Game 5 of the World Series, I almost prefer it that way. The creeping certainty that your season’s over around May 15 might be easier to bite down on than a sudden-death, kick-to-the-gut, season-killer in November. Still, it has become an annual ritual, just as the leaves start to fall, to look at the sky and ask an irrational universe why, oh why was I born a Mets fan?

My sister – a Yankees fan – once asked me to describe the feeling you get when your team’s season ends with disappointment. This was back when her team never ended that way. And as all Mets fans know, it’s like having your heart broken. The baseball season runs day after day for months; you live and die with these guys every night. You can’t help but get to know the personality of the team in what can only be described as an intimate way. When your team wins it all, they come back every anniversary. When your team loses, they go away. You never see them again.

mets win nlcs game 1

I guess that’s what stings the most about this year. I fell in love with this team. So did a lot of people. Where did all those Mets fans come from, and where’ve they been hiding all this time? My father, who hasn’t watched a baseball game since Bobby Thompson, was leaving me voice mails about “that awesome Murphy!” I was proud. My team dominated the NLCS. In four games!

Now I feel a little responsible. These people didn’t know better. Back in July, when they started to catch on, I should have tried to shake some sense into them, “What are you thinking! You have no idea what you’re in for!”

Of course, this could have been so much worse. Think about 2008. A last-day collapse on the last game at Shea. My grandfather took me to Shea Stadium; thirty years later I took my own daughter there. When the car rounded that bend near Willets Point and the blue mass of Shea rose into view, I watched her seven-year-old eyes open in amazement, just like mine on my first trip in ’77, when I asked my grandfather what all that green outside the field was for, and he told me all that green WAS the field. Citi Field is awesome, and it was rockin’ like mad this year, and I’ve got no complaints. But I’ll always miss Shea.

I’ll miss the 2015 Mets too. That had such a nice ring to it. Never has a Mets season held so many twists and turns as this one. We were supposed to win it. This feels like some kind of alternative universe; in the real one, Duda’s throw was true to the plate; Terry Collins sent out Familia to lock it down, Murph hit a homerun in every game of the series. But alas, nothing’s promised. Baseball doesn’t run on a script. Anything can happen. And it usually does.

I woke up this morning and I said that’s it, I’m done. I’ve got better things to do with my life. Who needs a stupid game to make me miserable. I should get out more, read more, spend time with my kids more. Turn off the TV more. Baseball. It’s ridiculous.

But I know what’s going to happen. In a few days I’ll realize that holding emotional water for a baseball team is pretty dumb. And there are all these free agents and trades we could make. So I’ll start reading MetsMerized again, and refreshing Twitter like a crazy person during the winter meetings again, and pretty soon it’s February and I’m counting the calendar to Opening Day.

Let’s face it, 29 teams let their fans down every year. Imagine being a Cubs fan right now. Yes, our team made embarrassing errors. Yes, a few inches here or there, we’d have won most of these games, heading back to KC with a chance. There’d be a baseball game to watch for a few more nights. The 2015 Mets would last forever.

But still – we won the NLCS. We’re the champs of the LEAGUE. We’ve got the best starting pitching staff in memory. KC came back from heartbreak last year to finish the job. The Mets can do the same in ’16.

So it stings today. It hurts like hell today. It’ll pass. It always does. We’re fans. It makes no sense, but we keep coming back. And for the first time in a long, long time, I can honestly say, I can’t wait ‘till next year.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Eric Heller. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: A New Met Narrative http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-new-met-narrative.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-new-met-narrative.html/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 14:00:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199009 daniel murphy game over

An MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love

The sickening feeling that the Mets blew a world championship within their grasp will likely (hopefully) recede.  The visions of Lucas Duda‘s wild throw, Daniel Murphy‘s porous glove, Yoenis Cespedes‘ soccer-style fielding, and Jeurys Familia‘s ill-advised quick pitch will likely (hopefully) fade.  And then we can appreciate that this team went so much farther than we ever expected.  That, with all their flaws, offensively and defensively, and an incredible but exceedingly young pitching staff, they won the National League pennant and, if not for the aforementioned gaffes, could have won the World Series.  This should not be viewed as another excruciating year of loss, another example of Met misery, another in a long line of underachieving failures in Met history.

It is time for a new narrative.

As well all know, the Mets went from lovable losers to the beloved Miracle Mets when they won the 1969 World Series — shocking the baseball world in general and the powerful Baltimore Orioles in particular.  But the miracles were short-lived thanks to untimely injuries and short-sighted trades (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, e.g.), and there was little to celebrate over the next few years except for the pitching of Tom Seaver.  Then, in 1973, the Mets almost did it again, with an incredible run the last month of the season (Ya Gotta Believe) and an upset of the Big Red Machine in the playoffs, before losing to the A’s in the World Series.

But that was it for a decade.  From the mid-70s to the mid-80s, the Mets were not lovable and not good.  Management was too petty and too cheap to keep Seaver (who they traded to the Reds in 1977), and then overspent on uninspiring underachievers, most notably the lackluster George Foster, who they obtained from the Reds in 1982.

The Mets won the World Series a second time in 1986, with a powerful, exciting team that seemed poised for a sustained run.  But, again, success proved fleeting.  1987 started with Dwight Gooden, their phenomenal young pitcher in drug rehab and 1988 ended with a gut-wrenching loss to the Dodgers in the playoffs. After that the Mets dismantled the team, replacing iconic players (Darryl Strawberry Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson) with another string of miserable underachievers (e.g., Bobby BonillaVince Coleman).

Another decade of poor, uninspiring play followed.  Then, in 1998, the Mets obtained Mike Piazza, a great player who thrived in New York.  But despite Piazza and his star power, the team would consistently disappoint.  They lost their last five games Piazza’s first year to miss the playoffs by one game.  1999 was marred by a playoff debacle at the hands of the Braves, with Met pitcher Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run of the deciding game. The first half of the 2000s was not much better, starting with the painful  loss to the Yankees in the World Series, and several mediocre seasons with a new collection of players whose careers took nose-dives as soon as they put on a Met uniform (e.g., Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar).  (For more, see Mets or Bust.)

And then a variation on the now-familiar theme of promise crushed by disappointment when a very strong 2006 team reached the playoffs but lost a devastating final seventh game to the Cardinals in the league championship series.  And since then, historic collapses to miss the playoffs, baffling player moves, an unprecedented number of injuries to star and potential star players, topped off by management’s entanglement with Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, causing ownership to shrink payroll and behave like a small-market team.

NL East Champions Flores Wilmer

This year seemed like another chapter in the dismal history of the Mets.  Towards the end of July, a week before the trading deadline, I wrote a piece entitled:  Not So Amazing:  A Promising Season Fritters Away.  After six straight losing seasons, the Mets opened 2015 in exciting fashion, by going 15-5, including an 11-game winning streak.  By the end of July, thanks to their extraordinary pitching staff, the Mets were still not out of contention.  But with the league’s worst offense and management’s stubborn refusal to spend money to improve the team, the second half of the season looked dire.

But at the trading deadline, management, incredibly, made a series of deft moves designed to win — and win now!  They shed players who barely belonged in the minor leagues much less the majors, and replaced them with real live professional baseball players.  They did not trade Wilmer Flores, who cried when he thought he was going to Milwaukee and became a folk hero after he wasn’t — a folk hero who can hit.  Instead they made a deal for Yoenis Cespedes, and his out-sized presence changed the feel of the entire lineup.  Everybody started hitting and, to top it off, David Wright, Mr. All-Time Met himself, lost early this season to a serious spinal condition many thought would end his career, came back, punctuating his return with a towering home run in his first at bat.

And, just like that, the Mets cruised into first place and stayed there. They transformed what looked to be another year of mediocrity into one of the most joyful ones in their history, filled with countless unforgettable moments.  Overnight the Mets became a fun, exciting team, energized by fantastic young players, a fascinating, extremely likable collection of quirky personalities, and star power.

They beat the Dodgers in an intense playoff series, displaying their brilliant, gutty young pitching, resiliency and creative mayhem.  They knocked off a powerful Cub team in a 4-game sweep to capture the pennant.

These Mets did not rely on miracles to reach the World Series (well, the ultra-religious Daniel Murphy might have) but on great all-around play.  Brilliant pitching, (occasionally) sparkling defense, timely and powerful hitting.  It all fell apart in the World Series, but that should not take away what the team accomplished and what the future holds.

For Met fans, there is always a lingering sense that disappointment is not far off — that the Mets’ penny-wise owners will not do what it takes to keep the team competitive and that something unexpected but nevertheless devastating will undermine the team’s seemingly limitless future.  But, things feel different this time.  The Mets have a deep core of great young talent, savvy veterans, and apparently great chemistry.  They surely need to make a few changes and add some key new pieces this off season, but maybe, just maybe, this is the start of a new era.  Maybe it is time for a new narrative.  Not lovable losers or unlovable losers tempered by the occasional miracle, but a truly solid baseball team that doesn’t have to rely on magic to win.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

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MMO Fan Shot: Enjoy The Ride, Because You Never Know http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-enjoy-the-ride-because-you-never-know.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-enjoy-the-ride-because-you-never-know.html/#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2015 17:52:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197267 mets win nlcs game 1

An MMO Fan Shot by US Army Combat Veteran Michael Cunningham

First, let me preface this by saying I do NOT think the postseason is over or that the Mets even have the NLCS locked up. I don’t want to jinx our team.

Now, I have bled blue and orange since 1982 when I was an eight year old watching Mike Scott lose at Shea. I have seen more ups than downs in those years, counting 1986 as one of the most fun experiences of my life. But I have always stuck with them through it all. Like many of us I have PTSD of sorts from everything that goes with following the Mets.

This has been an exhilarating season and it is the first time in decades that I have been able to watch the Mets compete in a playoff race and then see them playing in the postseason on TV. Life has a way of getting in the way of fandom at times. While I never stopped following the Mets, especially with the aid of the internet, it’s been different for me this year.

Tracing backwards, in 2006 I followed the playoffs while deployed in Iraq, but unlike some of the more current deployments, I didn’t have the luxury of the Armed Forces Network to even get a glimpse of a game.

The battle rhythm was too intense to even follow on a day to day basis on the net so as great of a season it was, life got in the way of enjoying that particular the way I would have hoped.

In 1999 and 2000 I was very busy building a family. Each year there was either a newborn in the house or one almost ready to pop out, and providing for a young family kept me too busy. My only vivid memories of Mets success then, of really being a part of it, are from the ’86 and ’88 seasons.

This leads me to the reason for my story. After every last out of every Mets playoff game I always get overcome with this feeling of “is this even real!?!?!”

It is such an Amazin’ feeling to be able to enjoy this current run whether it ends in the NLCS or the World Series, for good or for bad. It’s been a thrilling ride.

I am scary superstitious during games and picked a horrible time to quit smoking. My stomach is a mess, my heart is going nuts and I am loving every minute of it.

Thank God that there are days off in the middle of each series so I can attempt to recover for the next rush.

In short, we all should cherish this incredible Mets season and particularly this postseason run because you never know what life has planned for you and what you may miss out on. Moments like these are the ones you’ll always hold dear and pass along to your children and grandchildren. LETS GO METS!!!!!!

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This Fan Shot was written by MMO community member Staff Sgt. Michael Cunningham. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: My Dream Came True http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-my-dream-came-true.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-my-dream-came-true.html/#comments Sat, 17 Oct 2015 15:38:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=196894 cespedes

An MMO Fan Shot by By Matt Stephens

I’d like to think that by this point my 2014 post on Yoenis Cespedes has become somewhat famous as far as the site is concerned. For those that don’t know, I’ll explain briefly: In October of 2014, Joe D. posted a fan shot in which I plead for the Mets to trade for Yoenis Cespedes by dealing from our arsenal of young pitching weapons. I made bold claims that the stadium would be full once again, that he would single-handedly power the lineup, and more. They were claims that seemed too big and extravagant to come to fruition. Of course, as is the case with most of the phantom trade proposals made on blogs, it was just a hope. It was a shot in the dark, a dream that I would get to watch my favorite player in the game play for the team I loved.

Cespedes has been a guy I’ve followed since his introduction to Major League Baseball by Billy Beane. I watched with awe as he slammed the ball over the fence, or as he flung the ball towards home with ease. He was simply an incredible player. At the 2013 Home Run Derby, I had a fantastic seat, just 10 rows behind home plate. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and it provided my first live view of the home runs that Yoenis Cespedes was capable of hitting. Round after round, pitch after pitch flew over the fence, some reaching that second level, one even going to the third if I recall. It was at that point where I truly became star-struck. Yoenis Cespedes was one of the great power hitters in the game and he could hit at Citi Field. He belonged here, with us Mets fans, in our city. It was destiny.

The off-season passed with few moves of note. Cuddyer and Mayberry were Sandy Alderson’s outfielders of choice, and to me, it was typical Sandy. Going with the low-risk move to try and fill the hole with the most cost-effective player. I moaned along with the rest of you when we surrendered a pick but was also glad that we took action of some sort. Then we had the Winter Meetings, where Yoenis Cespedes was given to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello, a move that came seemingly out of nowhere. At that point it seemed like that was the end of the line. He’d become a free agent after the season and would go to the highest bidder, and that would be that. I would forever be rooting from afar. Thank goodness that was not the case.

Of course as the season went on, I found myself more and more frustrated over the Mets’ futile offense. We bickered constantly on the site about how to repair it, with me of course toting my pro-Cespedes line, day in and day out, but many agreed that one bat would no longer be enough. The trades for Uribe and Johnson came, and the focus was shifted towards my dream, towards the big bat. Reporters continued to write that it was unlikely that Cespedes would be traded, let alone to the Mets. As we crept closer and closer to the deadline, I allowed myself to believe, for just a little bit, that my inevitable hope would become reality. On that fateful Friday afternoon, I was on a train, and sat obliviously as Alderson fulfilled my wish.

yoenis cespedes

When of course it was confirmed by every source, by the team, and by Cespedes himself that he was a New York Met, I was ecstatic, I was beaming, I knew that the season had been turned around in an instant, even though we were 52-50 at that point. Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I could hardly contain myself waiting to see my favorite player in the threads of my favorite team. Of course, he lived up to and even succeeded my wildest hopes with his wild run of homers and enormous hits. I enjoyed it just as you all did, but there was a little something extra there for me, a small sense of ‘I knew it’, ‘I promised them he was the one’, with every hit he had. The Mets clinched and confirmed what I’d said along. He was the type of player that could change a team and a season, and getting to watch it unfold with my player leading the charge was better than anything I could have possibly imagined.

Now with the Mets in the middle of the playoffs, this seems like a somewhat odd time for this article, but I assure you, the time was chosen with care. I attended Game 3 and watched in awe as this heroic figure absolutely demolished a ball, drilling it over 430 feet into the second deck to all but guarantee a Mets win. As he circled the bases, the Mets shot blue and orange fireworks into the air, and beneath the crowd noise, the theme from “The Natural” could be heard. It was an absolutely unforgettable scene, and one I will cherish, no matter how this Mets season ends. I of course dream that the story ends with a Mets World Series ring and a big contract for Cespedes, but each is just another dream. In this season of magic though, no dream seems too big.

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This Fan Shot was written by MMO community member Matt Stephens. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Yankee Fan’s Observation http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-a-yankee-fans-observation.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mmo-fan-shot-a-yankee-fans-observation.html/#comments Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:13:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=196847 daniel murphy hr 3

An MMO Fan Shot by Anonymous Yankees Fan

It’s amazing (not Amazin’) how one man can make such a difference in an elimination game in three totally distinctive ways as Daniel Murphy did in LA tonight.

Without going into each of the ways, because anyone who watched already knows, the game should be recognized as one of the greatest deciding-game performances for all that effort and tenacity Mr. Murphy showed tonight.

The concentration to handle the bat as he did, and the focus on the evening to do what was done on the basepaths, shows what any athlete can accomplish when he puts it all on the line.

I tip my Yankee hat to him (it was actually my New York Rangers hat since they did play tonight too) with all due sincerity and to acknowledge him for a job well done.

It was evident tonight, but also throughout the series, the value that this player brings to a ball club.

This is not to take away from the great pitching that the Mets displayed, it’s just to recognize one man’s effort that paid off at the right time and should be remembered for years to come irregardless of any results that follow.

If any of my friends were to read this, knowing that it was I writing it, they might have themselves a coronary.

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