Mets Merized Online » Former Writer http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 30 Jun 2016 05:43:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.15 Will Mets Face Punishment For Excessive Champagne Celebrations? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/will-mets-face-punishment-for-excessive-champagne-celebrations.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/will-mets-face-punishment-for-excessive-champagne-celebrations.html/#comments Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:45:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197635 curtis granderson

While this is one of the last things I want to discuss on the verge of what has just happened, it might be something to keep in the back of our minds.

Arash Markazi of ESPN wrote a nice piece about the evolution of celebrations in baseball, detailing the progression from beer to the champagne that we commonly see used today.

Markazi discusses some points that might bring joy to some baseball historians, such as the progression from beer to champagne and how teams are limited to solely Budweiser as a choice of celebratory beer choice due to contractual obligations. All in all, it was an informative piece that gave me a little insight into the history behind the celebrations.

So why am I so disappointed to bring it up, considering the Mets just successfully doused themselves in champagne for the third time this season? Markazi points out that, apparently, MLB sent out a one-page memo to all teams on the verge of clinching playoff berths.

“It stated that teams must have non-alcoholic beverages for players and limit the amount of alcoholic champagne to two bottles per player; champagne should be used primarily for spraying; beer is the only other alcohol permitted in postgame celebrations; clubs should remind their players and staff to celebrate responsibly; and clubs should make sure transportation is available following celebrations to get players and staff home or back to the team hotel…

Teams have also been told not to take any alcoholic beverages onto the field and spray fans, some of whom may be minors.

“Our policy explicitly states that no alcohol is permitted outside of the clubhouse or at any time on the field of play, and that all celebrations involving the use of alcohol must take place within the clubhouse,” Courtney said.

“We have MLB security on-site to enforce our rules. The commissioner determines the appropriate steps if any individuals violate our rules.”noah syndergaard

Ignoring the fact that teams are supposed to be limited to two bottles of champagne per player, anyone enjoying this recent Mets postseason run and watching the post-game video and interviews has been well aware of the fact that these celebrations have consistently gotten to the field and the crowd. Markazi states that guilty parties have already been contacted by the league and given warnings that continued behavior will result in discipline.

During the celebration at Wrigley Field, Jon Niese was stopped from leaving the clubhouse with champagne, but Terry Collins somehow slipped past guards and went on the field to spray fans with champagne before being told to return to the clubhouse.

Rules are rules, sure, but this seems a little overboard to me. Many joke about the NFL turning into the “No-Fun League” due to their overbearing restrictions on celebrations and energetic displays that slowly became a natural part of the game.

It would disappoint me to see a similar situation make its way into the world of baseball, where the champagne celebrations have been an absolute tradition among successful teams.

Although there have been alterations made for situations — such as the Rangers celebrating their AL West title by using ginger ale and water — I cannot imagine the storm of controversy that would follow if MLB would be quicker to discipline players and coaches for celebration rather than dropping punishment on someone like Chase Utley.

That being said, as long as no concrete punishments are made public in the next few days or so, I cannot imagine this being too much of an issue. So we can just bask in our victory for a little longer… :D

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Yoenis Cespedes Has Found His Way Into The NL MVP Discussion http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/cespedes-for-president.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/cespedes-for-president.html/#comments Thu, 10 Sep 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192873 Cespedes Yoenis

The New York Mets have never seen a player take home an MVP award in their 53-year history — but the last 36 games have given the fan base a glimpse of what one in a Mets uniform might look like. Although he cannot run for President like Thor hoped because he was born in Cuba, Noah’s certainly onto something — Yoenis Cespedes has blossomed into a rock star here in New York City.

On Sept. 3rd, MMO hosted a Fan Shot from Sgt. Kevin Belickis, who said this: “It’s still a bit early to discuss this and it’s probably not going to happen, but if Cespedes keeps on producing and the Mets keep on winning, could it be possible that we have our first MVP in team history?” Thanks for your service — and for being ahead of the curve. A week has passed and suddenly, Cespedes’ name in the NL MVP race is the hot topic.

yoenis Cespedes

In 36 games since joining the New York Mets, the new face of the Mets (#Metspedes?) has posted a .312/.357/.675 line with 14 home runs and 36 RBI.

It would be nearly impossible to keep those numbers across a full season in this day and age — because they project out to 63 home runs and 162 RBI over 162 games. Overall, Cespedes owns a .297/.332/.549 line with 31 home runs, 95 RBI, and 94 runs scored. It took him over 400 at-bats to mash 18 home runs for Detroit, while he has crushed 14 of them for the Mets in under 175. For what it is worth, Cespedes is no defensive slouch, either.

The Mets as a team, of course, have skyrocketed to the first place position and have led the NL in multiple offensive categories since the trade deadline. Some of that can be attributed merely to Cespedes’ presence in the lineup and not just his own production — protection is a concept that I believe in and the general confidence of this Mets team has been through the roof since the trade deadline acquisitions. With 23 games to go and the division still unclinched, the potential is there for Cespedes to continue to rack up superhuman numbers throughout September.

Jared Diamond reminded everyone last night that there are five stated rules for MVP voting in a league — and games played is one of them. Look, I get it. Bryce Harper has had a monster year and if it was based on just the numbers, it should probably go to him. Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Paul Goldschmidt, and Joey Votto are all other names in the conversation if it does not go to Harper.

The odds, quite obviously, are stacked against Cespedes. It all comes down to how the BBWAA views the MVP award, however. The idea of the Most Valuable player has been left up to interpretation for many years. David Schoenfield of ESPN expands on why this Cespedes-for-MVP talk is gaining momentum:

“But, there’s also this: The MVP Award doesn’t always go to the best player, even if that should be the case. As we know, the MVP is a labyrinthine combination of statistics, narrative, memorable moments and whether your team makes the playoffs.” Cespedes is certainly not falling short in any of those categories to date.

Although Diamond pointed out that games played is a metric used to find MVPs, does that not throw into question the fact that Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw have won MVP awards in the last 5 years? Does Bryce Harper‘s short temper and penchant for putting his foot in his mouth discount his MVP credentials because of the third rule? Are we supposed to discount the fact that some of Cespedes’ value was amassed in the AL, although interleague play is at an all-time high?

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reminds us that only five players have finished among the top 10 in MVP balloting after beginning their season in the opposite league. Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia finished fourth and sixth respectively in 2008 after being traded away at the deadline. The Ramirez situation certainly exhibits a clear parallel to the Cespedes situation, where Ramirez posted a .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 53 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers — yet only finished fourth.

As Mets fans, however, it is in our blood to be hopeful and look for miracles. And yes — it might actually take a miracle to have Yoenis Cespedes bring the first NL MVP award to Queens. He will have to continue his outstanding play throughout the rest of the year to stay in the conversation, and that alone is quite the task.  But I would argue that, as of now, he has earned his place at the table, and at the very least, we all get to rejoice in the amazing performance of Cespedes…for the rest of us.

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Goosebumps. So Many Goosebumps. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/goosebumps-so-many-goosebumps.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/goosebumps-so-many-goosebumps.html/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 16:31:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192973 USATSI_8789528_154511658_lowres

“This Mets team right now, it doesn’t matter who comes off the bench. Everyone contributes.” – Ron Darling.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

It is quite possible that, a year from now, I won’t be able to remember a specific, standout home run hit by Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, or Curtis Granderson this season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has just four homers in 2015, yet they’ve been four of the most memorable, and unexpected home runs hit by a Met this year.

In case you did in fact spend September 8, 2015 under a rock, Captain Kirk’s 8th inning solo shot was the final run scored in an 8-7 New York victory over Washington, one that was a 7-1 Nationals lead with one on and two out in the top of the 7th inning before 8 consecutive Mets batters reached base safely.

It really does take (at least) 40 guys to compete for a championship. Through 137 games, the Mets have had 48 different players make an appearance for them, from David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Jacob deGrom, all the way to Alex Torres, Danny Muno, and even Akeel Morris. Somewhere in that mix (probably closer to the Akeel Morris end of the spectrum) is Kirk Nieuwenhuis, a player that truly personifies the club’s season-long roller coaster ride and exemplifies how far these 2015 New York Mets have come.

Just like the Mets endured months of, to put it lightly, offensive struggles, Nieuwenhuis struggled through adversity of his own; namely, being designated for assignment by the Mets, getting traded for cash, being released by the Angels, and hitting at a rate that only Mario Mendoza himself would be impressed with.

But like the Mets, this isn’t the same Kirk from the first half of the year. Obviously, he is still a marginal bench player at best. But April or May’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis finds a way to ground into a double play with no one on base, not hit a home run in the 8th inning off of Jonathan Papelbon to clinch the Mets’ biggest win of 2015.

And like the Mets, he has become the best form of himself. He competes and doesn’t give up. How many times do you see someone that played as poorly as he has this season come through in a situation like that? About as often as you see a team transform itself from the league’s worst offense to the league’s best. He fought his way back into a position that allowed him the opportunity to make an impact like the one he made tonight, while the Mets have battled and scrapped through both rough patches in the season and through so many individual games.

These Mets are special. I can’t count how many times the words, “way to fight back!” have audibly left my mouth this season. It’s not like I don’t hear the ghost of Mets fans past whispering, warning, “don’t fall for it.” But something about this team just feels different. They may fall short of winning a championship this year, but it won’t be because they let a 7 game lead with 17 games remaining slip through their fingers. If they don’t come away from 2015 with World Series rings, it will be because they were beaten by a superior opponent, and you can bet they went down kicking and screaming (and maybe crying just a bit).

Regardless of what happens over the next one to two months–no matter how many times Murph “murphs,” Jon Niese gives up five runs in an inning to Philadelphia, or Scott Boras tells Matt Harvey to stop pitching–the 2015 New York Mets will go down as one of my favorites. This is the most enjoyment I’ve gotten out of a baseball season in my lifetime (2006 included), and that can be credited largely to the passion, heart, and fight this team displays on a nightly basis.

In the face of this franchise’s history that has left so many fans burned badly before–I’m all in. And whether you like it or not, if you got chills as you watched Nieuwenhuis’ ball land beyond the right field fence of Nationals Park, you are too.

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Amazin’ Again: This Was Never Supposed To Happen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/amazin-again-this-was-never-supposed-to-happen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/amazin-again-this-was-never-supposed-to-happen.html/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 14:30:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192944

This was never supposed to happen.

The 2015 Washington Nationals are one year removed from a 96-win season and an NL East crown by 17.0 games. The Mets, meanwhile, could not muster 80 wins and tied for second place. The Nationals were the new kings of the NL East — and the Mets? Irrelevant for years, save for jokes that allowed a dead horse to be reincarnated and beaten to death again. The Mets could barely muster four wins in 19 games against the Nationals in 2014.

Fresh off a playoff appearance, the Nationals wanted to assert their dominance. They let go of Rafael Soriano, Adam LaRoche, and some guy named Tyler Clippard. How could that hurt? They signed Casey Janssen, acquired Yunel Escobar and Trea Turner and then exercised their option on Denard Span. Pretty basic stuff, once you overlook the fact that they dropped a $200 million investment on Max Scherzer. Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister — with Joe Ross waiting in the wings and a loaded offense? The Nationals were ready.

Meanwhile, what did those Mutts put together over in Queens? Michael Cuddyer and the loss of a first-round draft pick. Oh sure, it did not seem like much, but it looks a little better when you supplement the list with… John Mayberry Jr. and a handful of minor league contracts. Sean Gilmartin and Jerry Blevins were smart moves, for sure, but could they really turn the Mets into the Beast in the East? Let’s make it a little more interesting and remove Zack Wheeler, Vic Black, and Bobby Parnell while we suspend Jenrry Mejia. Matt Harvey would be back — but obviously, the Mets would fall short.

No, the Nationals saw no reason to be worried. This was never supposed to happen.

Even after an unlikely win streak, the Mets stood merely floating above .500 and in second place in July. The Nationals had no reason to worry — they had potentially the best hitter in the NL anchoring their lineup and a lead in the division. The Mets had kept it close and showed promise with their new young arms in Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, sure. But it was not enough — not yet, at least.

July 24th swung around, and our Mets acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for two pitching prospects. (If you’re still a fan Rob Whalen, best of luck, kiddo.) The best offensive prospect the Mets have had since David Wright hits the roster in Michael Conforto. The Nationals, however, acquire Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies to shore up their bullpen, which seems to help bolster a potential position of weakness. The Nationals were in control folks…this was never supposed to happen.

yoenis Cespedes

In a twist of fate, the Mets shore up their bullpen with that same Tyler Clippard guy. After days of drama surrounding an emotional Wilmer Flores and a suddenly revitalized fan base, the Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes.

This was never supposed to happen.

Yet, the Mets took sole possession of first place on August 3rd. It was the first time they were alone at the top since June 19th. The Mets received ominous offensive production from Cespedes and Conforto that perhaps foreshadowed a narrative that some optimists could see on that night already — or maybe it could be found in the fact that the ageless Colon tossed eight dominant innings. Either way, this was never supposed to happen.

The morning of August 4th saw over a 30% improvement in the Mets chances of winning the NL East from where they stood less than a week ago.

Mets Odds

The Mets, at that point, were shown to statistically have the easiest schedule remaining — with a combined opposing win percentage of just .455. Consider the fact that a chunk of those remaining games were against teams like Phillies and Rockies that had further decimated their ranks, and there was cautious hope in Flushing. The Nationals, however, had the second easiest schedule remaining — so there was reason for fear too.

After all, we have been around. We know the Mets. It never really comes easy for us, does it? So why would this year be any different than the others? So even through a dominant month of August, we heard all the regular phrases.

“The Mets are the perennial chokers.”

“The Mets are only winning against bad teams — wait until they face some real competition. This is merely a phase.”

“It’s officially September, the Mets are in first place, and I’m nervous. The nightmare of 2007 and 2008 is baked in to my experience as a Mets fan. The Ghost of September Past.”

It becomes unbearable to think even fellow fans of the team you would bleed for were so quick to be downers.

Could you really blame them, though? This narrative seems all too familiar — and a little too hopeful for a team that has not sniffed the playoffs since 2006. This new culture would take some getting used to. The rest of August brought acquistions of a left-handed pitcher I would rather not discuss and ex-closer Addison Reed to further improve the Mets bullpen.

Cue September 7th, and the Mets roll into Washington with a four game lead.

This is where it happens, Satish. This is where the breakdown begins right in front of your eyes.

And then, it happened.

The breakdown? No.

The solidification of a bonafide contender? Damn right…

With all the drama surrounding the Mets in the past week or so, the last two days showed a little spark many have not seen in years. Some younger fans have never seen it at all — but they can recognize it from a mile away.

This is not a team you look forward to facing anymore. The swagger, the success, the pride… somehow, it all found its way back. The name on the front matters more than the name on the back again. It did not matter whether it was Wright, Flores, Nieuwenhuis, or Cespedes driving in runs — the important thing was that a Met player was doing the damage. Hell, it just mattered that the Mets were doing damage.

familia d'Arnaud

And that question mark of a bullpen? The one that has not allowed a run to the Nationals in their biggest series of 2015?

None of this makes sense. This was never supposed to happen.

Bryce Harper was supposed to lead the Nationals to an NL East crown in 2015 and an NL MVP for himself.

Max Scherzer was supposed to make their rotation the deepest and best in the NL.

Sandy Alderson was never supposed to make the MLB team better — I have even said it myself.

Jeurys Familia was supposed to falter as a closer and was definitely never supposed to debut a new pitch.

Michael Conforto was supposed to be a bust like Fernando Martinez.

David Wright was supposed to be a shell of the player he once was.

Yoenis Cespedes was supposed to fail under the big time spotlight of meaningful September baseball in New York.

The New York media and drama involving Matt Harvey were supposed to rip this team from the inside out.

On the morning of September 9th, 2015 — the Mets are in first place with a 6.0 game lead over the Washington Nationals and a magic number of 19, but it might already be over.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is setting now;
the band has quieted down, and Nationals fans wonder how?

Somewhere, there is hope, but not in that 8-7 score;
For there is no joy in Natsville — the mighty Mets won one more.

Like a child filled with awe and inspiration at the presence of a master storyteller, I am honored to have been able to watch this story unfold. I am not sure of how it ends yet — but the ride has been promising and thrilling.

This was never supposed to happen, but it did, and I could not be any happier.

Please enjoy a 2015 Mets Tribute Video created over the weekend by our own Avery Decker.

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Familia’s Unique Grip Working Wonders http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/familias-unique-grip-working-wonders.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/familias-unique-grip-working-wonders.html/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:15:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192118 jeurys familia

Whatever you want to call Jeurys Familia‘s new pitch, there is no denying that it works. A recent piece by Andy Martino of the Daily News detailed the backstory behind Familia’s new pitch and it might shed a little light on why it is coming in at such a high velocity.

In the days since, people have taken to calling the pitch a splitter, which is basically accurate. But the truth is a bit more subtle. When I asked Familia about the pitch, he grabbed a baseball and first showed his two-seam grip, where his index and middle fingers touch.

Then, he slid the fingers apart just a little bit, not nearly as wide as the standard splitter grip.

A couple days ago, Brian Devine noted Mark Simon’s calculation of Familia’s average splitter velocity, which clocked in at 93.9 MPH and stood out as the fastest splitter in the league.

Over the years, baseball fans have heard many stories about successful pitchers using different grips to throw traditional pitches — and although only a small sample size has been presented, this grip seems to present a favorable situation for Familia.

FanGraphs shows that Familia’s four-seamer checks in around 96.3 MPH and the sinker at 97.1 MPH, so the approximate 3 MPH difference with the sharp drop has turned this pseudo-splitter into an excellent weapon for him so far.

Familia goes on to mention that the pitch has been a project between Dan Warthen, Ricky Bones, and himself for a little while now.

“I’ve been throwing it like this for a couple years (in the bullpen), but now I trust it enough to use” in games, Familia said.

Turning 26 in October, Familia stands to be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, which provides the Mets with control over him throughout the 2018 season.

Hopefully, this means the Mets will not need to worry about the closer position for years to come.

His 36 saves in 2015 are already 5th most in Mets single-season history, and he is quickly approaching the franchise single-season mark held by Armando Benitez with 43. No hard feelings, Armando. :D

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Mets Minors: Mets Are Sending Three Players To The AFL http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-minors-mets-are-sending-three-players-to-the-afl.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mets-minors-mets-are-sending-three-players-to-the-afl.html/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:55:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192178 afl arizona

No pun intended, but here’s a minor note for those of you who were interested in Mets players ticketed for the Arizona Fall League. The Mets official website notes that three players are headed to the AFL once the Minor League seasons end: Jeff McNeil, Beck Wheeler, and Mickey Jannis.

The Mets will name four additional players at a later date.

McNeil is a 23-year old infielder who has spent the majority of his time playing second and third base and has even thrown in some time at shortstop for good measure. He owns a .317/.376/.765 slash line in A+ ball (St. Lucie), and leads the FSL in runs scored with 78. His 146 hits on the year are second-best in the league. This is his third season in the Mets organization after being drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft.

A 26-year old reliever, Wheeler is in his fifth year with the Mets organization, and has spent the entirety of the 2015 season in AA with the B-Mets. So far, he has appeared in 40 games and posted a 3.69 ERA in 53.2 innings. Over his last ten appearances in Binghamton, Wheeler has only allowed one earned run.

Mickey Jannis* is the owner of a really interesting backstory that involves being drafted by the Rays, pitching for an Australian team in Brisbane, and then pitching for the Long Island Ducks. The Mets plucked him out of the Atlantic League earlier this year, and the 27-year old made seven starts for St. Lucie to the tune of a 2.98 ERA. He recently made his first start in Binghamton. Jannis’ best pitch happens to be a hard knuckleball, and he cites Tim Wakefield and more recently, R.A. Dickey as inspirations for his use of the pitch.

Also worth mentioning is that Marc Valdes, the Binghamton Mets pitching coach, will perform the same duties for the Salt River Rafters. The Rafters are composed of players from the Mets, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, and Diamondbacks. The Rafters play their first game on October 13th.

*The Mets release has Jannis’ first name listed as Ricky, but I believe that is incorrect.

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The New and Improved Michael Cuddyer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/the-new-and-improved-michael-cuddyer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/the-new-and-improved-michael-cuddyer.html/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=191561 michael Cuddyer

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Michael Cuddyer. You may recognize the name from someone you knew back in June or July, but this is in fact somebody else entirely.

It appears that a 3-week-long DL stint was exactly what Michael Cuddyer needed to finally get his season on track.

During Sunday’s 5-4 win against the Boston Red Sox, Cuddyer started in left field and finished 3-for-3 with three singles, two runs scored, a walk, and the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning.

“He’s an outstanding player and he’s a pro, and that’s why we got him,” Terry Collins said. “We brought him in here to be that kind of a player. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Since returning from the Disabled List on August 10 to the less-than-open arms of many Mets fans–myself included–Cuddyer has hit .375 (27-for-69) including three 3-hit games, four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 17 games.

He also has just six strikeouts over the span, good for a rate of 11.6%, compared to 23.4% this season prior to his absence.

It’s not like his success can be attributed solely to having the pressure taken off of him by moving down in the lineup, or to always having a big bat behind him as protection (though these days it feels like every Met is hitting in front of a Silver Slugger). Cuddyer has hit in each of the four, five, six, and seven spots in the lineup since his injury, in addition to six pinch hit appearances.

Cuddyer looks to finally be as healthy as he ever will be at 36-years old and is showing that down the stretch, he can be exactly what the team expected him to be this season. That is, a veteran leader who isn’t going to play every day, but can be relied upon to have great at-bats, produce a high average when he does play, make up for a lack of speed with very intelligent baserunning, and not hurt the team defensively.

Cuddyer is probably the 5th or 6th best hitter on this team when everyone is healthy. Though his contract may contradict that, with the Mets playing like they have been this past month, they don’t need any more than that from him; Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, and a healthy Lucas Duda can take care of the middle of the lineup on most days. He has become a glorified role player for the Mets, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Because in the paraphrased words of Lt. James Gordon in The Dark Knight, Michael Cuddyer is the player New York deserves, but not the one it needs right now. This Michael Cuddyer won’t be competing for any batting titles or hitting 30 home runs this year. But he will put his head down, grind out his at-bats, and be yet another cog in the very dangerous machine we call the New York Mets.

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An MMO Original: The Mets’ Greatest Remaining Weaknesses http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-the-mets-greatest-remaining-weaknesses.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-the-mets-greatest-remaining-weaknesses.html/#comments Sun, 09 Aug 2015 13:38:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=189658 mets win Uribe

The Mets are hot. There’s no denying that. But that is precisely why it’s time to play the Devil’s advocate; this whole “score 8 runs per game, make Terry look like a genius, do no wrong” type of play isn’t likely to show up in every one of the 53 games left in the regular season. And even if it did and the Mets won the division by 18 games or so, what fun would that be?

Who among us hasn’t pictured that final series at home against Washington and imagined New York winning the third game to earn the right to play October baseball? And we all know our beloved team too well to think that these next two months will be straightforward and easy. It will be a dogfight.

So just as any good lawyer does, I’m going to get inside the head of the enemy. If I wanted to beat the Mets down the stretch, what advantages might I have on them? Without further ado, and in no particular order, the new-look Mets’ biggest weaknesses, outside of the Wilpons, of course.

Shortstop

With the additions of Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes, this is the offensive position most likely to harm the Mets during their stretch run. Ruben Tejada deserves a lot of credit for playing well enough to hold down the position. But down the road, shortstop could become a concern, should Tejada’s production drop. Were he to have a bad week or two at the plate, the most likely solution is to give more playing time to the newly crowned king of New York, Wilmer Flores. Flores has looked better at short recently, but this would undeniably be a defensive downgrade. Uribe could be another option, although he hasn’t played shortstop regularly since 2010. All will be right at this position if Ruben can hit .260 and play average-to-above-average defense for the rest of the season. Difficulties only begin to arise if he can’t be counted on to be the everyday 8 or 9 hitter.

Bullpen

Picking on the Mets bullpen is a bit like forgetting to let your dog out before you leave for the day and returning home to a puddle on the floor; you feel badly because it’s not their fault they were put in that situation, but you still get the urge to yell at them. And let me be clear, this year’s pen is a huge upgrade from seasons passed. But games like the 8-7 loss to the Padres last week and Wednesday’s 6-run 9th inning by Miami do raise some eyebrows. I realize that acquisitions such as Tyler Clippard and, more recently, Eric O’Flaherty, are important improvements. Again, there are very few complaints to be made about the Mets’ relievers as a whole. But there is something slightly unnerving about needing Hansel Robles or Sean Gilmartin (two players who have pitched admirably in 2015 in much larger spots than they were expected to) to get through the seventh inning of an early October game against the Nationals with possible postseason hopes on the line.

Experience

Building off of the previous point, experience is something that Sandy Alderson did his best to add at the deadline in veterans like Uribe, Johnson, Clippard, and Cespedes. However, two of the pitching staff’s three best starters are attempting to complete their first full MLB seasons, while the other is still a rookie. Getting David Wright back in the lineup in the coming weeks will provide a boost, as will a healthy Michael Cuddyer, even if he doesn’t produce up to his standards on the field. But the fact remains that the majority of the players that will be relied upon most in the next two months–Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jeurys Familia, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda–have a combined total of zero playoff experience under their collective belt, matching that of manager Terry Collins. None of them have ever played in games as important as the next 54 will be.

Baserunning

Lack of speed has plagued the Mets really since new Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes left New York. The Mets are one of three teams in the Majors (Dodgers, Twins) without a double-digit base stealer up to this point in 2015. For as much as the offense and bullpen have been helped by trades these past few weeks, speed is one aspect of the team that was not upgraded. Come October, having a player that can draw a walk and get into scoring position by stealing second, and maybe even third, is an incredible advantage, but something the Mets will have to live without. According to baseball Reference, New York ranks third-to-last in terms of bases taken, which accounts for advancing on plays like fly balls, wild pitches, and passed balls. Even though they are in the top-third of the league in least number of outs made on the base paths (which factors in advancing on a fly ball, trying to take an extra base on a single, etc.), not being able to go first-to-third or move from second to third on a fly out puts the Mets at a disadvantage.

Performance on the Road

After this upcoming series in Tampa Bay, the Mets will have three road trips left this season. While it’s true that New York does have the easiest remaining schedule in baseball, more than half of the team’s games will be played away from Citi Field. The Mets have shown improvement on the road as of late. (Going 10-6 in their past 16 road games after their sweep in Miami has pushed their away record up to 20-32.) With three games in Colorado and seven in Philadelphia, the Mets must capitalize on weaker opponents and realistically win at least seven of those ten games, and a 10-game road trip in early September against three divisional rivals (Nationals included) looms large.

Defense

In theory, the worst of the Mets’ defensive struggles should be behind them. You remember the good ole’ days when the return of Daniel Murphy from the DL meant an improved defense. But even with the addition of Cespedes, fielding could present a problem down the stretch. With so many offensive options now available to Terry Collins, it appears that hitting will be the number one priority, and defense will be managed on a game-to-game basis depending on how often Uribe, Johnson, Murphy, and Cuddyer play, as well as where. I’m not against this strategy, but with Granderson likely patrolling center on certain days and Flores occasionally returning shortstop, we as fans should be prepared for some spotty defense every now and then.

Every team has its weaknesses, and compared to what this list would have looked like a month ago, I can certainly deal with the aforementioned deficiencies. The question is, just how harmful will things like defense and inexperience in key moments be during this playoff push?

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A Brief Letter of Thanks to Sandy Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/a-brief-letter-of-thanks-to-sandy-alderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/a-brief-letter-of-thanks-to-sandy-alderson.html/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:07:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=188300 sandy alderson

Dear Mr. Alderson,

I would genuinely like to thank you for quite literally just doing something; actually, as of Monday, July 27, two somethings.

Though there are certainly more impactful hitters around the league than Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, it is refreshing to see that you’re at least now beginning to patch up the holes in what looked like a sinking ship that is your team, the New York Mets. And to add RHP Tyler Clippard as well, I must say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised at your sudden wheeling-and-dealing behavior.

Up to this point, it seemed as if you and your pals Fred and Jeff were going to combine to bring the hilariously incompetent front office from Major League 2 to life. (I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who wouldn’t mind seeing you pull a full Roger Dorn and take a fastball to the back too.)

juan uribe

It has been clear to see for months now that no matter how good the pitching has been, the offense – as it was – would not be enough to get them to the Promised Land. But then you traded for Johnson and Uribe and suddenly the team’s energy was resuscitated.

While the Mets could still use a true leadoff hitter and possibly yet another outfielder, even with Michael Conforto now in the Majors, that trade was a big step in the right direction. It shows us as fans that even if 2015 doesn’t result in the team’s first playoff appearance since the very first iPhone roamed the Earth, then at least the Amazin’s will go down fighting, not as a result of complete inaction.

But you didn’t stop there, either. For as strong as the Mets’ make-shift bullpen has been so far, adding a veteran late-inning arm like Clippard is a significant upgrade and could prove crucial down the stretch.

Hopefully there is one more sizable move to come, ideally for a bat that really puts the team over the top and officially takes this week to video game-like levels of deadline deals.

But even if there are no roster additions between now and July 31, thank you for finally stepping up and realizing that the Mets lineup of the previous few months–you know, that group of guys made up of largely minor league-level hitters disguising themselves in Mets uniforms–simply wouldn’t cut it. You have given Mets fans something we haven’t truly had this late in the year since 2008… Hope.

Sincerely,

Encouraged Mets Fans Everywhere

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Fulmer, Cecchini, and Nimmo: Building Blocks or Trade Chips? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/fulmer-cecchini-and-nimmo-building-blocks-or-trade-chips.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/fulmer-cecchini-and-nimmo-building-blocks-or-trade-chips.html/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:10:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187841 As we approach the trade deadline, Mets prospects such as Michael Fulmer, Gavin Cecchini, and Brandon Nimmo have been swirling in rumors.

Fortunately for me, during my visit to New Britain Stadium Wednesday afternoon, all these players were in the game. Gavin was starting at shortstop, batting 2nd. Brandon was in the lineup, too, playing centerfield. And Michael was on mound.

I decided to do away with everything I ever heard about these three and to observe them without any predisposition or prejudice. Or basically do what most scouts and experts do after catching just one glimpse and providing their front office a scouting report.

Given the timing, I chose to evaluate these three prospects to determine whether each player provides more value to the Mets through trade or if they are true building blocks critical to the Amazin’s future.

michael fulmer

Michael Fulmer — Building block

It is very tempting to throw Michael Fulmer on the trading block due to the superb stable of young pitching the Mets are blessed with. However, I would hold off on trading the Mets’ 2013 first round selection; Fulmer’s repertoire is just too good.

He has no trouble controlling his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s. His change-up is an average to above-average offering that he throws with great deception to get hitters off balance. And his slider was nearly unhittable in his start against the Rock Cats.

And while Fulmer has had his share of arm injuries, his frame (6-3, 200lbs) and great extension on his delivery (which allows him to put less effort into his pitches) make me think he can stay relatively healthy in the future. I really like Fulmer. I think he has major league ace potential. He has great size, a great delivery, great stuff, and an attacking mentality necessary for a frontline starter. He is not the guy to trade at the deadline.

New York Mets

Gavin Cecchini —Trade bait

I have to admit, this classification was the toughest of the three. Yes, Cecchini will never be an offensive superstar. Still, given the Mets struggles at the shortstop position, it seems reasonable to hold onto perhaps their most valuable shortstop in the organization.

But after watching Gavin live, I have to say that I am not too bullish on either his offense or defense. He has good hands and a linear swing, which should bode well for line drives, but I do not see the power there as of yet. Further, most of the balls he connected with during the game were flares or mishits to right.

On the fielding side, while I still believe Gavin will stick at SS, it is going to take time. On a grounder right at him against the Rock Cats, he backed up instead of charging it, then made a flat-footed throw to first. His league-leading 24 errors indicate that such misplays happen rather frequently.

Cecchini might be able to hit .270 or .280 sometime in the major leagues along with serviceable defense and a good OBP. But, save for a few batting average points, that’s not a whole lot better than Ruben Tejada. I think now is the time to trade Gavin while he’s young and producing in the Eastern League. With the shortstop position especially down these days, the Mets should be able to fetch good value in return for their 2012 first round pick.

brandon nimmo

Brandon Nimmo — Trade bait

If a player can be too selective at the plate, Nimmo definitely fits the bill. The 22-year-old has a fantastic eye that enables him to take pitches mere inches off the plate. However, far too often have I witnessed Brandon pass on a fastball in a positive count that he might be able to drive.

In one at-bat, I saw him take a 2-0 fastball straight down the middle at around 90 miles per hour. And, even when he does swing, Nimmo is very inconsistent. He has the ability to barrel up the ball. Sometimes, though, he simply misses hittable pitches due to his bat movement.

In the outfield, the Wyoming native has a very good arm and decent range. He can play all three outfield positions well. Overall, I have a hard time believing Nimmo can hit in the .270s with the pitching talent around the league now-a-days. He will get on base and play good defense, but his best value will come from a trade right now. Like Cecchini, the lack of offensive talent in the majors should help the Mets get good compensation for trading an all-around outfielder like Nimmo.

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Top 10 Met Moments From the First Half http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/top-10-met-moments-from-the-first-half.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/top-10-met-moments-from-the-first-half.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:11:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187286 noah syndergaard

As we prepare for the final 73 games of the New York Mets’ (regular) season, this seems like as good a time as any to take a quick look back at the club’s ten best moments of the first three months of 2015.

Honorable Mention:

Noah Syndergaard’s Debut (May 12)

Though it may have been in a losing effort, Thor’s first time taking the mound for the Mets showcased why he belongs at this level and that he has the tools to be a future ace. Striking out the first batter faced of his career was just the start of a strong first five innings before finally tiring in the sixth. This day was a year-plus in the making for Syndergaard, and for Met fans, and allowed us to see with our own eyes what scouts have raved about for years.

Jeurys Familia Exceeding Expectations

Where, oh where, would the Mets be without this guy? One of the best closers in the MLB this season may never have gotten his chance should Bobby Parnell have been healthy earlier in the campaign, or if Jenrry Mejia hadn’t been suspended for 80 games. Though he has had many–probably too many–clutch five-out saves and been the near perfect fire extinguisher this team has needed more than it knows, there aren’t an excess of Familia performances that particularly stand out. And for a closer, that is more than alright with me. So here’s to Jeurys, being the boring, automatic rock he has been this far for the Mets.

kirk Nieuwenhuis

Number 10

Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ 3-Home Run Game (July 12)

Opening up our top 10 is a man who has had quite the past three months–hitting under .100 over his first Major League stint of 2015, being designated for assignment before being traded to the Angels for, as Randy Moss might say, straight cash, homie. Then, after only 10 games with Los Angeles, he is released and, to the dismay of many New York fans (myself included), is picked up by the Mets and sent directly to AAA. A hot streak in Las Vegas (2-22) leads to his promotion and a big game in San Francisco, and an even bigger game–a historical one too–against Arizona in the Mets’ final pre-All Star break contest. Congratulations, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. You are the only player on the team who may have had a weirder first three months of the season than the team itself. While the chances are that he will return to his .100 self post-break, at the very least his three homers and curtain call on Sunday gave Captain Kirk some momentary validation for his spot on the roster.

Number 9

Noah Syndergaard’s Home Run (May 27)

If only the Mets could play the Phillies 162 times this year… Just as Steven Matz did in his MLB debut (we’ll get to that in a bit), Syndergaard overshadowed a great pitching performance with his bat on this day late in May. I think Yeah Yeah from The Sandlot would be the best candidate to describe most people’s opinion of Noah’s stat line of 7.1 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K that day. Because with one out and the bases empty in the 4th inning, Thor swung his hammer and hit a pitch (one that was low and away, mind you) an estimated 430 feet, further than the average in-game home run distance of seven of the eight 2015 Derby participants. His 7+ scoreless innings on the mound were great, but what Met fan will forget Thor’s bomb to center that day?

Number 8

Noah Syndergaard’s 13 Strikeouts (July 10)

I promise, this entire piece is not an ode to Noah Syndergaard. But what the rookie did to the D-Backs about a week ago needs to be recognized. Easily the best start of his Major League career, he pitched 8 incredible innings, giving up only 4 hits, 2 walks, and a single 1st inning run over 116 pitches (74 strikes), a team-high for 2015. Oh, and he also struck out 13 batters, two more than any other Mets pitcher has up to this point in the season. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can physically feel Ron Darling’s drool over Syndergaard coming through the TV each time he pitches. Thor’s start against Arizona gave us a glimpse at why 2016 should be the beginning of many years of 200+ strikeouts for him, as it looked like he was toying with hitters at times, choosing to finish off a batter with a curve instead of a fastball just because he felt like it.

Number 7

Bartolo Colon Doing Everything

For the purposes of this post, all Bartolo-related moments will be included here. Let me first mention his pitching, which has gone slightly downhill since his 4-0 start, but is still well above average for a 42-year old, back of the rotation pitcher. And while the term “veteran presence” is trending in the “he’s just a winner” direction of overused sports terms, Colon really does fill that role for this young team, especially when only one other starting pitcher (Jon Niese) has ever pitched a full season in the MLB. Now to the fun stuff. Where do I begin?… There was his first hit of the season (come on, of course his helmet fell off), a broken bat bloop in Atlanta. There’s his 3-game hitting streak, which included the longest RBI double, time wise, in MLB history.* His one-man pick off of A.J. Pierzynski. His quote about a blister on his finger affecting his breaking pitches, but being OK because he doesn’t throw breaking pitches. His childhood donkey named Pancho. Thank you, Bartolo.

*Completely unofficial, but highly probable

matt harvey

Number 6

Matt Harvey’s 2015 Citi Field Debut (April 14)

This one is a little personal for me, since I made the 10-hour bus ride from Columbus, OH to New York to see it in person. While Harvey may not have lived up to the somewhat unreasonable expectations thrust upon him for this year, he is still a borderline elite pitcher, and that night in mid-April was still a special one. For the first time in 20 months, New Yorkers got to see their Dark Knight pitch in his home stadium. A near sellout crowd did its best to power Harvey through a relatively rough start, with lots of “Har-vey, Har-vey” chants throughout, and he and the team were able to pull out the victory. No, it wasn’t the complete game, 2-hitter performance most of us had wanted to see. But it did signal that the Mets had their guy back, and their fans got to witness it in-person.

Number 5

Jacob deGrom”s Near Perfection (May 21)

After a single in the first, Jacob deGrom threw a perfect final 7 innings before leaving with a final stat line of 1 H, 0 BB, 11 K in 8 shutout innings. Arguably the finest (and most #deGrominant) start of his blossoming career, deGrom’s ace abilities were on full display. Starts like these have propelled him to become the staff’s uncontested best pitcher this year, a first-time All-Star, and a possible Cy Young candidate if he continues on his current trajectory. Keep the hair long and the great starts coming, Jacob.

Number 4

Mets Comeback vs. Atlanta (June 14)

Or, if it would help you rememeber, the Dilson-Herrera-wearing-paper-Gatorade-rally-cups-on-his-ears game. With New York in danger of dropping a third consecutive home series the night after losing a 5-3 heartbreaker in 11 innings, the Mets did the same thing I do when I’m struggling on the golf course and need to turn it around–draw a line on the scorecard to designate a fresh start. Though this was undoubtedly more of a metaphorical line for the Mets, it still represents the same belief– what’s done is done; the time to start over and turn it around is now. This line came in the middle of the 4th, at a time when the Mets trailed the Braves 8-3. And from the bottom of the 4th on, New York outscored Atlanta 7-0. Home runs from Darrell Ceciliani, Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud, and Juan Lagares paved the way for the rally. This was a huge win that brought out the fight in the club and made clear that they would not quit until out number 27. Or longer if the game goes into extras. Which leads me to…

Number 3

Mets Extra Inning Comeback vs. Toronto (June 15)

The following night, New York seemed to be riding the same clutch, come-from-behind hitting from the previous game. After trailing 1-0 from the get-go, the Mets retaliated in the 6th to take a 2-1 lead. It appeared as if that would be the game, and the narrative would be that they rally from a deficit once again, albeit a much smaller one this time. Instead, Jeurys Familia picked up the second of his two blown saves on the year, and the game went to extras. When the Blue Jays scored in the top of the 11th, it felt like a lost cause for the Mets. ‘Well, another loss after quality pitching and no offense. Plus the game was already in the bag, and even Familia couldn’t win this one.’ But then Ruben Tejada walked, and Lucas Duda took advantage of one of the most extreme shifts he’s faced and blooped a ball into left with two outs to tie the game before Wilmer Flores’ walk-off single. In back to back games, the Mets had stolen wins. This Mets squad would battle, not just be tossed aside as many previous versions of the team had.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets

Number 2

Steven Matz Debut (June 28)

You know the story. Boy grows up playing baseball, gets drafted to play for his favorite childhood team, fights through injury to get there six years later, and notches four RBI while going 3-3 at the plate in his first game. Pretty incredible path, especially if he gets paid to pitch. Steven Matz’s hitting slightly overshadowed his impressive first outing as a Met, and for good reason. After all, it’s not every day (never before, in fact) that a pitcher records four RBI in his debut. But without his strong showing at the plate–his first at bat specifically–that great pitching performance may not have happened. Anyone watching the game could see how crushing that double over Billy Hamilton’s head helped him to really settle into the game and get through 7.2 IP, giving up just 2 runs.

Number 1

Mets 11-Game Win Streak (Apriil 12-23)

What could possibly be better than a fantastic, long-awaited debut from yet another young pitcher that also happened to drive in four runs? The answer is simple: winning. Thanks to April 2015, the Mets can now check “Have a 10-0 home stand” off of the franchise’s bucket list. That almost-two week stretch at the beginning of the season set the tone for the team early on and gave them the cushion that they needed and have unfortunately since blown. It’s slightly scary to think about where the Mets might be without it. Following the 11th and final win of the streak, New York sat at 13-3. Since then, they have gone 34-39, good for a win percentage below that of what the Braves have posted in 2015 (.466 vs .472). Even though the team’s record has taken a sizable hit since April, that 11 game stretch provided the Mets with an early spark and got them off on the right track. And for any of you on the pro-Terry Collins side of things, a strong start to the season was certainly a must.

Whatever happens between now and October, we can only hope that it’s as nerve-wracking and entertaining as the first half has been. No team endures as many ups and downs as the Mets seem to, but that’s what makes following them so special; you never know what is going to happen. Is Captain Kirk going to get DFA’d today or hit three home runs again? Will any of our young arms hurl a no hitter? Most importantly–might Bartolo break Twitter by going yard? All of these questions, and many more, will be answered in the remaining 73+ games this year. Here’s to “Reaching the Postseason” making the list of top ten moments from the entire 2015 season.

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Grandy and Trout and BABIP, Oh My! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/grandy-and-trout-and-babip-oh-my.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/grandy-and-trout-and-babip-oh-my.html/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 16:38:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=186501 Curtis, Granderson

Until my drive home from AT&T Park last night, I never thought the day would come that my feelings after watching a 42-year old, 280+ pound man pitch a quality start would be, “He didn’t really pitch well tonight. We never had a chance.”

Unfortunately, this is the state of the John-Mayberry-hitting-in-the-six-hole Mets.

Without looking at the scoreboard, it almost felt like Bartolo Colon had given up 6 or 7 runs to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night; in part because the starting pitching has spoiled us (more so than usual) as of late, but mainly because one gets the sense that the 3 runs given up might not be matched by the Mets until after the all-star break.

However, as a self-proclaimed optimist, this will not be another “man, this offense sucks” piece. Instead, I’d like to offer at least a small bit of hope that the hitting can and will perk up a bit, courtesy of Fangraphs.

The Mets have two of the MLB’s top ten players in line drive percentage, with Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda at 6th and 9th respectively (as of July 8). While line drive percentage (LD%) is certainly not the be all, end all of hitting, it is generally accepted as an adequate way to determine how a player is performing at the plate, with the idea being that line drives give a hitter a greater opportunity to reach base than a fly ball or grounder would.

For the purposes of this argument, I’ll focus mainly on Granderson and compare him to a player that on the surface is having a much better year, but compares very similarly when it comes to several advanced statistics—Mike Trout.

Curtis Granderson’s LD% of 27.7% puts him 2.4% ahead of Trout, with his ground ball percentage sitting about three points lower than Trout’s (31.3 vs. 34.8) and his fly ball rate only 1.3% higher (41.1 vs. 39.8).  While Mike Trout’s home run per fly ball percentage of 23.9% blows Grandy’s 14.1% out of the water, the aforementioned numbers would suggest that, outside of power totals, the two should be having somewhat similar statistical seasons, but this is not the case.

The Angels star’s 2015 season has him on pace to slightly outperform his MVP-winning stats of 2014, while Granderson, whose 23.0% strikeout rate is actually 0.4% lower than Trout’s, blends in with the slew of .250 hitters the Mets continue to start. Mike Trout’s batting average on balls in play (or BABIP, which excludes things such as walks, strikeouts, and home runs) sits at .345, with Granderson’s at .just 297.

They hit the same type of ball (line drive, ground ball, fly ball) in close to the same percentage of at bats. They strike out in close to the same percentage of at bats. So why are Trout’s average and BABIP each about 50 points higher?

The point to the above avalanche of numbers is this: yes, many Met hitters have performed very poorly this season, and many others simply shouldn’t be playing in the majors, at least right now.

But for players such as Granderson, luck and chance have played a definite role in a first half that most been mostly diasappointing. (He is the only hitter in the top 12 of LD% with a BABIP under .300.) Were he to have hit second or third this season in a lineup that gave him the opportunity to produce more runs, he would have a stat line that loosely resembles one of the best hitters in the game, someone that Met fans (or any other MLB team) would want playing for their team in a heartbeat.

So while no Met other than Granderson has hit one over the fence since June 20, the numbers say that the offense cannot continue to be this putrid. Granderson should join Daniel Murphy as a stable form of production, and others like Duda and Wilmer Flores should start seeing results.

No, the 2015 Mets will never be the Murderer’s Row of 1927. But the complete absence of offense that has persisted throughout most of the season can’t last another 77 games. Right?

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It’s Time to Start Capitalizing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/its-time-to-start-capitalizing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/its-time-to-start-capitalizing.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185999 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

You know that feeling you get when you do something so amazing–like make an insane basketball trick shot or miraculously catch a falling box of cereal just before it crashes to the ground–you even surprise yourself, but you look around and no one witnessed you do it, like it’s just been wasted?

I can only imagine that this is the feeling the entire New York Mets pitching staff (yes, even Jon Niese recently) has felt for the large majority of the season.

It was widely assumed coming into 2015 that pitching would be the team’s calling card, with offense and defense each doing its best to ruin any chance for a postseason berth. But there must be a line drawn somewhere. We can’t keep squandering one incredible start after another and just shrug it off, not if all that October baseball smack in spring training was real.

Should the stellar pitching start to slow down and start giving up, Heaven forbid, four or even five runs on a daily basis (New York currently has the fifth-lowest team ERA at 3.42), I don’t even want to imagine how much worse things could get.

Entering play on July 2, there were eight teams in the majors that have conceded less than 300 runs this year, including the Mets (288).

If the playoffs started today, 6 of the 8 would be in, with only the Cubs (who sit 0.5 games behind San Francisco for the second wild card spot) and, you guessed it, the Mets on the outside looking in.

It’s worth noting that the median amount of runs scored by Major League teams this year is 320, 44 more than the 27th-best Amazin’s have scored. It’s almost painful to think of where they could be in the standings were they to have a league average offense and have tallied nearly 50 more runs. My guess is that the Washington Nationals would be looking up at us instead of the other way around.

The season is certainly not lost, though. For a team that has scored 2 runs or less in 38% of its games, it’s almost unbelievable that the Mets are only 2 games out of a wild card spot. But it’s wrong to think that this level of hitting throughout the remainder of the season can get them to the playoffs. At some point, those crazy trick shots need to be rewarded.

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Featured Post: The Mets Should Go Small http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/featured-post-the-mets-should-go-small.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/featured-post-the-mets-should-go-small.html/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 20:42:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185210 michael cuddyer

The Mets’ run-scoring problems have been well-documented. The team has posted just six runs amidst the current five game skid. And, what’s worse, there does not appear to be any immediate help ready down in the minor leagues.

Many, myself included, have proposed potential candidates Sandy Alderson could pursue. The likes of Todd Frazier, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jean Segura are just a few who have been heavily debated in the comment threads on MMO. However, given that it is only mid-June and Sandy has not dealt for an established major leaguer during his five-year tenure in New York, I think it is reasonable to rule out a significant external acquisition, at least for the foreseeable future.

The Mets are going to have to work with what they have got. And what they’ve got is a few smart ball-players such as Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, patient hitters like Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada, solid speed in Dilson Herrera and Darrell Ceciliani and of course stellar pitching. Therefore, I think the Mets should maximize their current personnel, be more aggressive, and play small ball.

Before I fully delve into my argument, I would first like to point out that, for the purpose of this article, I am demoting Eric Campbell to Triple-A and promoting Wilfredo Tovar, a move that gives the Mets better defense and speed off the bench.

Like we talked about earlier, the Mets have had just an awful time scoring runs. A quick look at the stat sheet reveals that New York has totaled the fewest hits in the National League. That puts them behind anemic offenses like those of Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The small ball stratagem would allow New York to take full advantage of each precious base runner and give the pitching staff as much run support as possible.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

An important principle of small ball is speed, yet the Mets rank third-to-last in the NL in steals this season. Still, this low total is more due to Terry Collins’ managerial style than personnel. The team has been successful on 27 of 33 attempts to swipe a bag this year, a well above-average 82% rate. And with Tovar up in the big leagues, the Mets would have five legitimate stolen-base threats in Juan Lagares, Ceciliani, Granderson, and Herrera. The Mets do not need newer, faster players. They just need to be more aggressive on the base paths with the ones they already have.

Imagine again Sunday night’s 9th inning versus the Braves. After Granderson and Lagares singled to open the frame, the small ball strategy allows for a few options. I agree with Collins’ idea to let Duda hit with two men on and no one out, but once he flies out, the strategy shifts.

Now, with Cuddyer up, the Mets should consider a double-steal. Granderson, while not the gazelle he once was, can still run and has a strong base running acumen and Lagares gets a virtual free pass to second base. Given runners career 81% success rate against then-Braves’ catcher Ryan Lavarnway, the Mets stood a good chance of moving up the runners by simply being more aggressive. Then, Cuddyer’s ground ball that ended the game Sunday would have evened the score at one run apiece.

Scenario’s such as Sunday night’s ninth inning demonstrate the benefits in a change in hitting philosophy, but even disregarding the 1-0 loss to Atlanta, small ball gives the Mets the best chance to win games going forward.

When a runner gets on base, he should either steal or be moved/bunted over by the batter. The Mets do not have a deep enough lineup to bet on stringing together three consecutive hits in an inning or waiting for the 3-Run homer that never comes. The current Mets are simply not that kind of team.

For now, there are no more talented rookies coming up the pipeline. This is our team for at least the next month. Executing a small ball strategy would allow the Mets to push across more runs and turn those 1-0 losses into 2-1 wins.

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2015 Mid-Season Top 10 Mets Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/2015-mmo-mid-season-top-10-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/2015-mmo-mid-season-top-10-prospects.html/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 17:12:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=184125 Now that the 2015 First-year player draft has concluded, I felt compelled to update our MMO Top Mets Prospect Rankings that our minor league team composed at the very beginning of the season. Before engaging in this discussion, I would first like to credit fellow MMO prospect writer, Michael Mayer, who helped assemble this list.

Interestingly, after years of blue-chip prospects in the upper levels of the minors, the Mets now have a system flush with extremely young talent. Of the top ten prospects, five are 20 years old or younger. Thus, you may be seeing some unfamiliar names in this midseason edition of the Mets top prospects. Enjoy!

*One thing to note: Though Noah Syndergaard and Dilson Herrera still technically qualify as prospects, for the purpose of the list consider them graduated.

steven matz

Steven Matz: Preseason Ranking #2, Mid-season Ranking #1

Coming off a year in which he sported a 2.25 ERA across two leagues, not many expected Steven Matz to improve his statistics in the ban-box that is Triple-A Vegas. Somehow, though, the lefty noted as a “gamer” found a way to impove. Currently, the southpaw leads the Pacific Coast League in ERA (1.94), Wins (6), and Strikeouts (75). It won’t be long until we see Matz in the big leagues.

Michael Conforto: Preseason Ranking #7, Mid-season Ranking #2

Michael Conforto’s five-ranking jump on the MMO prospect list can be credited to both the flurry of promotions of higher-valued Mets youngsters as well as a blistering start to the 2015 season. The 2014 first round pick made easy work of High-A St. Lucie before earning a call to Binghamton, where he has continued to hit. Overall, the former beaver owns an .871 OPS and a stellar 34:26 K/BB ratio in 2015. At this pace, a midseason 2016 debut is looking conservative.

Amed Rosario: Preseason Ranking #6, Mid-season Ranking #3

Amed Rosario has quickly embraced full-season ball. Only 57 games into the season, the Santo Domingo native has already improved upon the total number of doubles and stolen bases he collected in 2014. His slash line of .275/.315/.374 is not great. However, we have to remember this kid is just 19 years old, nearly four years younger than the Low-A league average. In fact, Rosario has not faced one pitcher younger than him this season. Thus, his improvements are that much more impressive.

Brandon Nimmo: Preseason Ranking #4, Mid-season Ranking #4

Brandon Nimmo’s stock has remained steady thanks to mixed results at Double-A. The lefty is hitting a strong .297 with a .788 OPS. However, Nimmo has slugged only two home runs and nine extra-base-hits in total. Power is generally the last tool to manifest in a prospect, but in his fifth professional season, you would have hoped to see a bit more pop. An interesting side note: Nimmo has not stolen or attempted to steal a base this year. Last year, the Wyomingite had 14 steals in 18 attempts, so maybe the 2011 first rounder is not 100%.

Gavin - Cecchini Photo

Gavin Cecchini: Preseason Ranking, #12, Mid-season Ranking, #5

I have to be honest, I really love what I am seeing out of Gavin Cecchini in 2015. He has gotten considerably stronger, evidenced by his career-high .470 slugging percentage, and his line-drive swing is finally starting to produce results. “Cheech” has struggled in the field, committing 14 errors in 223 chances, but as few scouts questions his defensive ability, we can chalk those errors up to inadequate infields and inexperience rather than a lack of talent. I am excited to see how the former 12th overall pick performs in the second half of the season.

Dominic Smith: Preseason Ranking #11, Mid-season Ranking #6

The victim of much criticism after an early slow start, Dominic Smith has turned around his season. Consider his improvement. In April, Smith batted .220 with a .500 OPS. In May, the lefty hit .276 with a .750 OPS. And in June, Smith has again increased his output with a .333 average and an astounding 1.036 OPS. If he can continue this positive trend, we may see Smith at first base in Binghamton in the near future. He still only 20 years old.

Casey Meisner: Preseason Ranking #19, Mid-season Ranking #7

Pegged by MLB.com Prospect Analyst Jim Callis as a breakout candidate in his exclusive interview with MMO, Casey Meisner has lived up to those expectation halfway through 2015. In ten starts for Low-A Savannah, the 20-year-old owns a 6-1 record boosted by a sparkling 1.82 ERA. At 6-7, 190 pounds, Meisner should be able to add weight and consequently a few ticks to his fastball, which already sits in the low-to-mid 90s. Two years younger than the average Sally league player, the Mets may just leave him in Savannah to develop. Nevertheless, the big righty is making a name for himself in the lower minors and could see some time in Binghamton by season’s end.

Wuilmer Becerra: Preseason Ranking #18, Mid-season Ranking #8

Now with two straight strong campaigns under his belt, Wuilmer Becerra could make the R.A. Dickey trade the steal of the generation. The cavernous Greyson Stadium has hardly limited the Venezuela native; he sports a .288 batting average, a .340 on base percentage, and a career-high .845 OPS through 54 contests. In addition to the strong offensive game Becerra has showcased this year, the 20-year-old also has revealed good speed, solid range right field, as well as a strong arm. He is still pretty far away from the major leagues, but Becerra has the chance to develop into a five-tool player. I would not be surprised if he emerged as a top-five organizational prospect at this time next year.

Desmond Lindsay: Preseason Ranking N/A, Mid-season Ranking #9

The newest Mets top prospect, Desmond Lindsay offers an impressive combination of quickness, athleticism, power, and bat speed. Lindsay has a lot of developing and strengthening to undergo as a professional, but his four-tool potential earns him an early spot on the Mets top prospect list. Hopefully, we’ll catch the Mets first draft pick in Brooklyn this summer. For more on Lindsay, check out my full profile here.

Robert Gsellman: Preseason Ranking N/A, Mid-season Ranking #10

Like many on this list, Robert Gsellman has catapulted himself from a mid-level prospect into the top ten. This jump is not hard to understand when you look at the numbers: in eight Low-A starts, the 6-4 righty owns a sparkling 1.76 ERA and 1.9 BB/9 ratio. Gsellman may need to put on a little more weight in order to sustain a 200 inning workload, but he has a good build for a starting pitchers. In his arsenal, his curveball is his trademark offering. Baseball Prospectus states that the hook is “already an above-average major league pitch”. His fastball tops out at 92 and his changeup is closer to average. Still, with an ideal frame and strong command of all three pitches, Gsellman could develop into a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, which the Mets would surely take from a 13th round pick.

Also receiving consideration: Marcos Molina, Akeel Morris, and Milton Ramos.

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Who Is Newest Met Desmond Lindsay? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/who-is-newest-met-desmond-lindsay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/who-is-newest-met-desmond-lindsay.html/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 16:17:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=183928 lindsay_080oa555_ulj0ugmm

The New York Mets made their first selection of the MLB Draft late last night, selecting OF Desmond Lindsay in the back-half of the second round. Lindsay was the first player taken outside the MLB Top 200, so he may not be as well-known as other prospects on the board at No. 53. I wanted to shed some light on the newest Met prospect, who I think gave them a tremendous value as the team’s only Day-One selection in the draft.

The first thing you notice about Lindsay is his incredible bat speed. His bat whips through the zone so fast that it even throws his own swing out of balance. Most scouting reports peg this quickness as merely “above-average”, but I think his bat speed is elite.

When I originally watched some footage of Desmond at the plate following the Mets selection, I kept replaying the clip, refusing to believe that an 18-year-old could generate that kind of bat speed. It was almost as if the video artist had fast-forward Lindsay’s swing. Multiple alternative clips proved, however, that Linday’s swing truly operated at such a rapid pace.

The next notable piece of Desmond’s swing is likely the reason he was not a consensus top-prospect: his balance. Desmond turns his front foot in anticipation of the pitch and then spins it back forward to generate power. This may help the youngster make some hard contact, however, this approach also leads to a very unbalanced and inconsistent swing that yields varying results. Hopefully, the Mets will be able to teach Desmond a more reliable foundation, allowing him to better use his legs as stabilizers and unlock his potential with the bat.

Power-wise, Lindsay could surprise in professional ball. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Desmond has a strong build which should allow him to hit for pop. That size, coupled with his bat speed, results in a plus power potential that could exceed expectations if the Mets can hone his swing.

Defensively, the Mets seem to think Lindsay fits best in centerfield. New York’s scouting director Tommy Tanous calls him “one of the faster kids in the draft”, but the real question regarding Lindsay’s defense is his arm and inexperience.

At least right now, Desmond sports a below-average cannon that fits better in left field than it does in center. He also has rarely played the outfield, more often suiting up at third or first base in his high school career. He’s just 18, so Lindsay has plenty of time to develop the requisite skills necessary for becoming a solid defensive centerfielder. The Mets need to hope they can make this transition possible, as ending up at first base could put him in a crowded field.

Overall, I am a big fan of the Mets’ choice of Lindsay as their first (and only) selection on Day 1 of the MLB Draft. He has endured a hamstring injury, which likely kept some teams away. However, if the Mets allow Desmond to fully heal before putting him on the field, it should be a non-issue. Further, Lindsay is a near-lock to sign with the Mets, with Tanous stating there is only “a very small risk” he slips away.

Lindsay has the chance to be a solid player on a good team. You can teach balance and hitting fundamentals, but you cannot teach bat speed. His swing is not consistent enough to merit an elite projection right now, but the Florida-native certainly has the tools to become a real player in time.

The other side of the ball will likely determine Lindsay’s fate. If he can learn to play a great outfield, his value as a prospect will skyrocket. His youth and athleticism make that scenario more likely than not.

Desmond Lindsay is a very toolsy player, but he is also a very raw one. The results of this selection all hinges on the Mets player development. Still, I am very excited about the balanced package Lindsay brings to the Mets farm system. He can hit for average, hit for power, and run, with the chance to develop the fielding tool. It will be very intriguing to follow his progress up the minor league ladder.

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MLB Draft: Four Players Mets Could Select Tonight http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mlb-draft-four-prospects-mets-could-select-tonight.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mlb-draft-four-prospects-mets-could-select-tonight.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 20:31:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=183400 2015-mlb-draft

The Mets forfeited what would have been the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft by signing Qualified free agent Michael Cuddyer to a two year, $21M deal. That’s okay with me. We’re currently just a half game out of first and Cuddyer has stabilized the lineup and clubhouse in David Wright’s absence.

Anyway, even after forfeiting their first round selection, the Mets still hold their second and third round picks in the upcoming draft, the 53rd and 88th selection. Remember, the highly-touted Steven Matz was taken 72nd overall back in 2009, so the Cuddyer signing has not eliminated all hope of Sandy grabbing a top talent from this year’s crop of youngsters.

I’m here to shine some light on potential talents that may be available to the Mets in the second and third round. Analyzing the value of players is a difficult and variable task itself. Thus, for the sake of simplicity, I used Baseball America’s top-100 list as a guide for which prospects might be available when the Mets are on the clock. Enjoy!

Baseball America’s #54 Draft Prospect:

RHP Brady Singer, HS (Florida)

It’s no secret that the Mets love pitchers. Brady Singer, at 6-5 180, is a projectable arm who could progress markedly in a pro environment. His fastball typically sits around 91 to 93, but he can touch 96 and his velocity has risen in the past year. He is not maxed out physically, so it reasonable to expect Singer to throw in the mid-90s during his prime. He owns a quick, up-tempo delivery, pitches low in the zone, and, according to Perfect Game Baseball, understands the art of pitching as well.

One problem scouts see with Singer is a 3/4 arm slot which may lend way to injury. I don’t have a particular issue with motion; his relatively low slot gives his fastball movement into right-handers and away from lefties, which, when paired with his increased velocity, could be very dangerous.

Brady also throws a sweeping curve in the low 70s, but scouts think he may be best equipped to remove that pitch and add a slider to his repertoire. The development of his changeup, like many young pitchers, will determine if he can stick in a big league rotation.

Overall, Singer is a good prospect who offers the Mets a projectable, young arm with a solid fastball and good feel for the game. He would be a nice addition to the farm system following the (likely) graduations of top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

Baseball America’s #57 Draft Prospect:

3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, HS (Texas)

If the Mets decide against a pitcher atop their draft, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes could be in play at #53. Hayes, is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, who, like Singer, is praised for an advanced feel for the game.

The Texan owns a very polished bat for a high schooler. Ke’Bryan has a simple, high load, which allows him to release a linear swing that produces line drives to all fields. He could be a little more consistent with his hands, but that is why he is not a first round pick.

Another knock of Hayes is that he does not run well and does not have prototypical third-base power. Still, his soft hands, strong arms, high baseball IQ give him a good chance at sticking at third base long-term. Further, Hayes is known as a strong worker, which will only help his development.

At 6-1 207, Hayes does not have much room to fill out, so (at best) he will be a 15-20 HR hitter in the major leagues. More likely, he will hover around .280 with 25-30 doubles and maybe 13-15 homers. That production may not seem like much, but I would certainly take that from a second-round pick. Plus, I think Hayes’ chances of reaching his ceiling are increased due to his compact swing, MLB bloodlines, and strong work ethic. Hayes and Jhoan Urena would be a nice pair of third base prospects ready to succeed David Wright.

Baseball America’s #89 Draft Prospect:

OF Kep Brown, HS (South Carolina)

Kep Brown could have been ticketed for a first round selection had he not tore his achilles two months before the draft. Rehabbing an achilles tear only takes six months though, and I believe the Mets would be lucky to select such a talented outfielder with second pick.

Brown uses his size (6-5 190) to generate a ton of power from the right side of the plate. Unsurprisingly, his swing features a noticeable upper cut. Kep looks very balanced while hitting and does a fantastic job staying behind the baseball. His load is sound, as his hands are strong and dynamic, allowing him to cover the entire plate and put good wood on anything within the strike zone.

Kep gets good extension with his long arms, however, his swing is long. Given his immense talent, though, his flaws seem very manageable. On defense, Brown has a decent arm, runs a 6.84 60 yard dash and likely projects as an average to solid-average left fielder.

At only 18, there is plenty of room for development and all the tools are there. If his injury has affected teams’ boards as much as it has affected that of Baseball America, the Mets should be sprinting to the podium to draft Brown with their second pick. He is one of my favorite hitters in the class (maybe second favorite behind SS Alex Bregman, projected to go in the Top 5), has the tools of a first rounder, and would be a true steal for the Mets.

The achilles injury is noteworthy, but Brown could simply sit out the remainder of the season and begin his professional career rested and healthy the spring. Here’s hoping he makes it to the Mets draft slot!

Baseball America’s #96 Draft Prospect:

RHP Cole McKay, HS (Texas)

Cole McKay is a classic power arm with the build to withstand a 200 inning workload in the major leagues. He stands 6-5 225 and throws a fastball in the 93 to 93 mile per hour range.

His fastball has running and sinking action, making it difficult to hit due to its exceptional velocity and downhill nature. His curveball has 11-5 movement and a sharp bite that allows McKay to utilize the hook as a put-away pitch. His changeup lags behind his fastball and curve, but it could still be a solid pitch at maturity. Perfect Game describes the pitch as having “big fading action”.

McKay also pounds the zone with his all three offerings, revealing a blend of power and finesse that is rarely seen in a high school prospect. There is a lot to like with McKay. Not only should he throw three solid average to plus pitches and control them well, but his big frame also could protect him from serious injuries.

McKay is committed to Louisiana State, but a third round selection and a slightly above-slot bonus should be enough to lure him away from three more years of amateur ball. The Texan has polish, upside, and an ideal build. The Mets would be lucky to add the extremely skilled McKay to their long list of high-potential arms. 

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It’s Tulo Time For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/its-tulo-time-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/its-tulo-time-for-the-mets.html/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 03:55:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=181837 tulowitzki

Not at all lost amidst the Mets strong start to the 2015 season is the inconsistent play from Wilmer Flores. Wilmer has been good with the bat, but his nine errors in the field are second only to the enigmatic Ian Desmond.

As the Mets inch closer and closer to legitimate title contention, it is becoming more apparent every day that this team needs a viable shortstop. Matt Reynolds may be able to out-field Flores, but still short is not his natural position and he will likely offer decreased production at the plate.

Troy Tulowitzki, offensively and defensively, would represent a huge upgrade for the Mets and would be worth the cost in terms of salary and prospects.

Consider the possibility of the post-trade infield. Daniel Murphy could stay at third until Wright returns, Tulo would slot in at short, Flores could move to second, Duda would anchor first, and Plawecki would grace the tools of ignorance before moving to the bench after Travis d’Arnaud rehabs.

If each player performs to their potential, the Mets would have five legitimate major league ballplayers at each infield position. There would be no significant weaknesses, defensively or offensively, and I would not be surprised if each position provided the offense with at least 20 home runs. And make no mistake, this team needs more offense.

We all know already the strength of Tulo’s bat. The real questions regard his health, contract, and his cost to the Mets farm system. Still, I think the tantalizing infield potential Tulo brings more than outweighs his flaws.

In a recent article for ESPN insiders, Jim Bowden proposed the Amazin’s deal Steven Matz, Kevin Plawecki, and Rafael Montero for Tulo. It’s not a bad suggestion, but I don’t think the Mets would pull the trigger on such a deal.

Few catchers are durable enough to outlast a full season, and d’Arnaud has a checkered injury past. Thus, if I were the Mets, I would try to convince the Rockies to take Dilson Herrera instead of Plawecki. That may not work straight up though, as catcher is a premium position while second base is not, so let’s say the Mets’ add Double-A RHP Gabriel Ynoa to the deal.

Here’s my proposal, in its full form. Mets get: Troy Tulowitzki, 25MM (to aid salary issues). Rockies get: Matz, Montero, Herrera, Ynoa.

That’s quite a large haul for Colorado. They get a potential top of the rotation starter in Matz and another rotation piece with promise in Montero. Herrera should succeed offensively in the thin air at Coors. Ynoa adds intrigue with the chance to develop into a number three of four starter down the road.

Pitching is Colorado’s biggest need. And with this deal, the Rockies  add three young pitching prospects to their arsenal as well as a promising second baseman to offset the loss of Tulowitzki.

On the Mets side, the rationale behind making this trade is clear. They get arguably best shortstop in the game for four players who have not proven themselves at the major league level and the Mets are dealing from their depth. Matz has dominated in Vegas, but the Mets are loaded at starting pitching. Montero may have a future as a starter, but the Mets have treated him as a swing man thus far; plus New York has more talented options than Montero both in the ‘pen and in the rotation. He will not be missed. Herrera could develop into an all-star soon enough, but with Matt Reynolds and Wilmer Flores, the Mets currently have enough depth to sustain his loss. Ynoa has showed promise with a steady ascent through the system, but he is probably a major league relief pitcher unless he can refine his off-speed pitches.

I understand that it is difficult to fathom trading some of our top young talent for a ballplayer whose best days might be behind him. But remember, our playoff hopes are already hinged to David Wright, a player of very much a similar mold as Tulo and who’s not getting any younger at 32. It makes sense to try to surround him with as much win-now talent as possible. Furthermore, Tulo will not be unplayable in the final year of his deal. Derek Jeter (2009) and Jimmie Rollins (2014), .871 and .717 OPS, respectively, both have proven that 35-year-olds can still be strong contributors in a starting role.

In short, Tulowitzki would be the perfect player to push the Mets over the top. He certainly comes with question marks, but if he was a perfect player the Mets would have no chance of acquiring him.

Trading a blue-chip lefty like Matz is a tough pill to swallow, especially when accompanied by other prospects, but you have to give to get. Tulo is a great player right now and he has proven to be a major league all-star when healthy. I am not interested in gambling another half-season on an inexperienced and out-of-place shortstop like Flores or Reynolds or waiting for Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario to develop.

The rotation is undoubtedly one of the best in baseball and is built to win right now, but the current infield and lineup structure leave a lot to be desired. By trading for Tulo, the Mets could shift Flores to second and sport an elite offensive and solid defense group in the infield. And even after relinquishing Matz, Montero, and Ynoa, the Mets can still sport an insanely rich rotation headed by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, with even more live arms in the pipeline.

The Mets are ready to contend this season. The future is now for our New York Mets. Our captain isn’t getting any younger, but our shortstop situation keeps getting worse day by day. It’s Tulo time.

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Happy Mother’s Day: Mets Memories, Family, and Believing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/happy-mothers-day-mets-memories-family-and-believing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/happy-mothers-day-mets-memories-family-and-believing.html/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 10:33:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=181164 happy mothers day

A Message From Joe D. – One of the great things about MMO is all the great original content from the hundreds of Mets fans that have come and gone throughout the years. I love all the personal stories and the incredible passion and sentiment that goes into all those wonderful articles and Fan Shots.

Every year on Mother’s Day, I like to look back and re-post an article that evokes the spirit of home and family in a Mets kind of way. Enjoy this post by Daniel Nelson who interned with us in 2013 and is now a digital and editorial producer for San Francisco State University. So with that, I’d like to wish all you Mets Moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day. 

1969 NLCS

Tucked away in the mountains of Tehachapi, Calif. rests a modest cottage. Living in that cottage are John and Jill Nelson. These are my parents.

In any given room, you can find the typical conventions of any old west-style household. There are paintings of horses on every wall, candle holders made from welded horseshoes on the dining room table and small pieces from alfalfa-hay flakes scattered across the 70s-style brown carpet.

If you look deep enough in the closets, underneath the abundance of dust, you’ll find something any true baseball fan has: memorabilia. In my parents’ case, the majority happens to be New York Mets memorabilia.

This offseason has dragged on for what seems like an eternity. The Mets continue to be written off, but this is something my parents have been used to hearing for as long as they’ve followed the Mets—something that’s been engrained in the way I’ve followed the Mets my whole life. I’m sure it’s something we all recognize.

See, my parents haven’t always resided on the West Coast. For a large chuck of their lives, they lived in Fair Lawn, N.J.—in Bergen County, which is right on the border of New York and New Jersey. They both worked for the Associated Press in New York.

My father is originally from Federal Way, Wash. so he indirectly adopted the Mets through my mother, who grew up in Kenilworth, N.J.

Whenever I visit my parents in Tehachapi, they tell me stories from when they watched and covered the Mets. They have a more impartial perspective because they are both journalists. You can tell when they talk about the Mets though, there’s just a hint attachment. I recently got a chance to visit them and they dusted off all their memorabilia and told me the stories behind it.

1969 poster from Jock Magazine (The magazine cost 60 cents and the poster is about 3 feet in length)

This 1969 poster from Jock Magazine cost 60 cents and measured about 3 feet in length.

Since the anniversary of Gary Carter’s passing, I’ve been asking them a lot about Mets teams of old. I want to share some stories and memorabilia with you. It’s my hope that we can put aside the Mets’ current foibles and focus primarily on something the Mets have done throughout the franchise’s history: defy the odds.

This offseason reminds me of the season preceding 1969—the “Miracle Mets” season.

go mets button footer

My mother got this Daily News issued button and the poster seen above during the Mets’ World Series run in 1969. The Mets clinched the division on Sept. 24, 1969 with a win over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0.

It was also fan appreciation day. My mother and grandfather were both in attendance. My mother was 16 years old. She remembers fans climbing the foul poles and everyone rushing onto the field to grab a chunk of grass after the Mets won the game. On the way home, she recalls almost everyone riding the train holding a piece of grass. It would be nice to see the Mets get that kind of support from the fanbase again. There was a time when, despite how bad the Mets were, fans still showed a lot of support.

1986 NLCS score book

1986 NLCS Score Book

By the time 1986 rolled around, my father had become an established writer for the Associated Press. My older brother had been born so my mother became more of a fan. She went to a lot of games in ’86 and kept many things along the way.

Box score from Game 3 of the NLCS against the Astros at Shea Stadium

Box score from Game 3 of the NLCS against the Astros at Shea Stadium

As we all know, the Mets beat the Houston Astros in the ’86 NLCS in six games to move on to the World Series. My mother attended Game 3 (as you can see from the handwritten box score). The Mets won the game 6-5 with a walk-off home run by Lenny Dykstra. She said when Dykstra hit the two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th inning, the stands in Shea Stadium shook back and forth.

Two-page spread of the NL champion Mets in The Record newspaper on Sunday, Oct. 19, 1986

Two-page spread of the NL Champion Mets featured in The Record on Sunday, Oct. 19, 1986

During the ’86 World Series, my father wrote an evaluation of each team’s roster for the AP. He picked which team had the upper hand at each position. These evaluations were distributed to newspapers across the country that didn’t have traveling baseball writers and didn’t have as much knowledge about each team. When it came to third base, my father picked Ray Knight to be the better player over Wade Boggs. Every paper that the comparison was distributed to ran it except for one publication based in Boston. The paper refused to publish it unless Knight was replaced by Boggs. My father refused and the paper didn’t run his piece. When the World Series was over, Knight was named World Series MVP.

Mets box score from Game 6 of the 1986 World SeriesRed Sox box score from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series

My mother’s score card from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series

Both my mother and father were at Game 6. My mother was in the stands with my grandmother and my father was in the press box covering the game for the AP.

Back then, my father used to dictate the games over the phone back to the AP office. When Keith Hernandez made the second out of the 9th inning, the Series seemed all but wrapped up for the Red Sox. After Carter’s two-out hit in the inning, my father recalls telling the AP office, “Hold on. Something crazy is about to happen.”

It’s indicative of the way the Mets play. We saw it a lot in 2012 when the Mets piled up all those two-out runs.

My mother was sitting on the first base side in between home and first. She remembers Red Sox fans sitting a few rows in front of her going crazy after the second out of the 9th inning. After Wilson’s grounder to Bill Buckner at first, she claims that even if Buckner had fielded the ball, Wilson would have beat the throw. When the ball rolled passed Buckner, she recalls all of Shea Stadium going completely silent for a split second.

As Knight rounded third base seconds later, she said Shea blew up like someone had set off dynamite from under the seats. When she looked down at the Red Sox fans a few rows in front her, they were no where to be found.

I love hearing these stories whenever I get a chance to go home. The Mets are more than just my favorite team, they provide a special bond between me and my family. I’m a big believer in the Mets, and at the start of every new season I don’t ever count them out. History tells us that the Mets have a penchant for surprising everybody. I like it when we fly under the radar. They play better with a chip on their shoulders. With all that being said, I feel something amazin’ is in the works. Ya gotta believe!

tug mcgraw

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Wilfredo Tovar: The Mets Answer at Shortstop? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/wilfredo-tovar-the-mets-answer-at-shortstop.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/wilfredo-tovar-the-mets-answer-at-shortstop.html/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 16:39:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180529 wilfredo-tovar1

Coming into this season, there was much doubt surrounding whether a Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy shortstop and second base combination could holdup over a full season. And while the Mets eleven game winning streak gave the clumsy duo a bit more leeway, two big losses against the Marlins earlier this week exacerbated the Mets middle infield conundrum.

mmo feature original footerThe Front Office took action last night, recalling second base prospect Dilson Herrera from Vegas to help out. During the interim, Murphy will shift over to third, Flores will stay at short, Herrera will slide into second and Soup will hit the bench. But once captain David Wright returns from the Disabled List, Herrera will likely head back to Vegas and we are left with the same problem.

If the Mets want to be serious playoff contenders, there is no way the team can rely on Flores and Murphy to turn double plays and make all the routine plays. And while Herrera will eventually supplant Murphy as the full-time second baseman later this year, a Flores-Herrera pairing does not placate me much either. Herrera is far from a polished defender at this point in his career, as I expanded on earlier this week, and Flores is third among National League shortstops with seven errors.

In short, Flores needs to go. He’s a decent batter and I appreciate the lineup length he provides, but on a pitching-oriented ball club his defense is detrimental.

But where should the Mets go from here assuming Flores cannot play short? Matt Reynolds’ name has been discussed as a potential successor for the job. But while Reynolds is a better defender than Flores, he is a merely average fielder and projects similarly with the bat. I do not mean this in a negative way, but Reynolds looks more like an excellent sub on a good team than a future first-division starter.

Some have also speculated Sandy Alderson could make a play for the Brewers’ Jean Segura. But that would likely require dealing some of our talented young pitching, something the Mets might not be willing to do. And even if the Mets could acquire Segura for a reasonable price, it remains to be seen if the Brewers shortstop can even provide a significant upgrade over Flores. He’s continued to underwhelm ever since his all-star sophomore season. And Segura is one of only two NL shortstops (Ian Desmond being the other) that has committed more errors than Wilmer in 2015.

Barring a blockbuster trade, there does not seem to be many palatable and realistic options for the Mets’ shortstop problem. But one option we have not considered, as we wait for the highly-touted Amed Rosario to debut, is an underrated defender just a phone call away from the major leagues, Wilfredo Tovar.

When evaluating Tovar’s measurables, he’s easy to overlook. He does not have plus speed or even an elite arm, but the 23-year-old knows how to play the game and has the skills and IQ to be an above-average major league defender at shortstop right now.

Take a look at this clip from Tovar with the B-Mets last season. He showcases great instincts and makes a play that neither Flores or Murphy would come near completing.

Below is another video of Tovar’s defense: he made this play made during a cup of coffee with the Mets late in 2013 .

Tovar understands that a strong righty like Tom Frazier will likely pull Jon Niese’s 90 mile per hour fastball, so he shifts more to the left side of the infield in preparation. Once the ball comes off the bat of Frazier, Tovar continues to exhibit great baseball instincts, acts quickly, and robs the Reds third baseman of a hit.

Offensively, Tovar’s production would certainly pale in comparison to that of Flores. He’s a slap-heavy, pesky hitter: Tovar might even have less power than Ruben Tejada. And at only 5’10” and 180 lbs, the Venezuelan’s body leaves little room for more projection.

Still, Tovar is not a total negative on offense. He owns a respectable minor league batting average of .260 and a career .663 OPS. Plus, Tovar is currently amidst a breakout year in Vegas, bating .288 with a .740 OPS.

And while Tovar cannot hit for power, the stocky infielder has demonstrated excellent plate discipline in his minor league career: he could be that leadoff hitter the Mets so desperately need. At Single-A St. Lucie in 2012, Tovar walked nearly twice as much as he struck out in over 250 at-bats. Last year on the B-Mets championship team, Tovar again forged more walks than strikeouts in more than 300 trips to the plate.

As we discussed earlier, Tovar has never blown away scouts with his speed. Nevertheless, his high baseball IQ should allow him to swipe upwards of twenty bases in the major leagues. He stole 24 bags total back in 2014, and has already  notched 5 steals in just 16 games thus far in Triple-A Vegas.

In short, Tovar can bring a lot to the Mets, even if he does not have the tools to be an everyday starter. He understands baseball, something we can’t exactly say about the current Mets middle infielders, plays great shortstop defense, which should allow Herrera some margin for error, and can get on base and swipe a bag with good consistency.

He reminds me of the 1969 Mets starting shortstop Bud Harrelson. During the Mets championship campaign, Harrelson batted just .248 with zero home runs. Regardless, Bud was a crucial player for the World Series-winning Mets. He got on base using a 1:1 K/B ratio and played stellar defense behind a great Mets staff.

Wilfredo Tovar may not be the sexiest option from the Mets prospect well, and he certainly is not the best offensive one but he may still give the Mets the best shot at winning right now.

The Mets current roster is built on stellar pitching: it only makes sense to support these coveted arms with a solid defense, especially when contact-hurlers like Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Bartolo Colon take the hill.

Wilmer Flores is a good player, but he is not a shortstop and his offense hardly justifies his deficiencies. The same can be said for Daniel Murphy. The Mets should act before their middle infield lets the division slip away. Is it Tovar Time?

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Happy Birthday Gary Cohen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/happy-birthday-gary-cohen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/happy-birthday-gary-cohen.html/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:11:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180281 Gary_Cohen,_Ron_Darling,_Keith_Hernandez_2013.jpgTop Series: Batted .357 (5-for-14) at Sacramento (April 13-16) Batted .476 (10-for-21) vs. Fresno (April 17-20) Batted .368 (7-for-19) at Reno (April 21-24) Multiple-hit games: 12…hit safely in 13 of 18 games  You could listen to the rest of the interview here.

It’s Outta Here!!!!

Gary Cohen turns 55 years old today. There’s no one I would rather see calling every game’s live action on SNY. The trio of Cohen, Darling, and Hernandez makes for entertaining television, even when the Mets are having a losing season.

Cohen has been calling the action in the Mets booth since 1989. He started on WFAN radio calling games with the legendary Bob Murphy, and got promoted to calling the action on live television during SNY’s debut in 2006.

Cohen is a human Mets encyclopedia. It’s very hard to stump Gary in anything Mets related. He has been an avid Mets fan ever since childhood and knows just about everything there is to know about the New York Mets. Try to stump Gary, and good luck, cause you’ll need it. The man is a Mets baseball genius.

Gary Cohen’s enthusiasm is definitely noticeable whenever the Mets score a crutial run, hit one over the fence, make a great defensive play ( who could ever forget Cohen’s enthusiasm when Endy Chavez robbed Scott Rolen in the 2006 NLCS ), turn a double play, get a crutial strikeout, etc. SNY made a brilliant move in moving him to the television booth in 2006. There is no one better.

Gary is still going strong calling all the Mets action. We hope to have him around for many more decades to come. Happy Birthday Gary Cohen. We all love ya.

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