Mets Merized Online » Former Writer http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:14:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Do We Really Know Wilmer Flores? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/do-we-really-know-wilmer-flores.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/do-we-really-know-wilmer-flores.html/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 15:00:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217020 wilmer flores hr

Reading through an old scouting report on Wilmer Flores that was written prior to his debut back in 2013, it becomes immediately apparent that his future value was rather transparent for a prospect.  Despite knowing his strengths and weaknesses, the Mets front office has spent the last four seasons shifting the always cooperative cult icon all over the diamond.

The former top prospect has mainly been used as a temporary fix rather than a long term solution.  As a result, it’s been rather difficult draw a firm conclusion as to whether we’ve seen it all, or if there’s more from the 24 year old Venezuelan.  Interestingly enough, Flores has some tantalizing numbers at the plate, when his defensive positioning is more suitable to his physical strengths.  With the return of Jose Reyes, his run at third base is in jeopardy, but perhaps that’s a short-sided approach by the Mets.

Wilmer’s first cup of coffee was a wash back in 2013.  Defensively, he was still developing.  There was conviction among a consensus of talent evaluators that he had the hands and arm strength to play on the left side of the field.  The skepticism was related to his footwork and, rightfully so.  When he got the call to fill in for David Wright back in 2013, he looked awkward.  His feet often moved a click behind his body and more than once he stumbled to his knees attempting to make plays.  He left that year behind with a lot of doubt as to where he’d find a home for his glove.

At the plate, he was hyped for his “…uncanny hand-eye coordination and exceptional feel for contact”.  Scouts believe he possessed above average power good for “25-30 doubles and 15-18 home runs a year at the big-league level”.  Now, to be clear, Flores was never on the same level as a Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, but his ’13 output of .211/.248/.295 never exactly blew anyone’s hair back.  Many may disagree with this view, but it seemed as though he was not ready to fill in the Captain’s shoes.  Fast forward to 2014, the beginning of the shortstop experiment.

With a lack of viable and cost-controlled middle infield options, the Mets went against the grain and gave Flores an extended look at shortstop.  It went about as well as any previous scouting report would have indicated.  “Though he was signed as a shortstop, he lacks the lateral quickness and instincts for the position”.  Brutally honest, but that statement carries a lot of truth.

Wilmer, Flores

With the exception of an unbelievable run at shortstop throughout last year’s playoffs (credit where credit is due), Flores has always appeared to be overwhelmed by the daily physical demands that come with arguably the toughest position in baseball.  Offensively, we all saw more of the same production at the plate that was there in ’13.  Little ability to make contact, low on-base percentage and nearly non-existent power.

Then as the ’14 season winded down, Wilmer was given more playing time at the keystone and the results were fascinating, for two reasons.  First, his production at second was astronomically better than anything we’d seen before, posting a .320/.358/.620 line in the 14 games he started at the position from August 19 until the end of the year.   Secondly, while enjoying career high production at second, he was still getting ample playing time at shortstop randomly throughout that period in time.  The success he enjoyed at second was exclusive to that position.  Through that same stretch of games starting in mid-August, he posted a .250/.288/.397 slash line at shortstop.

Had Flores surged offensively regardless of where he played, anyone could make the case that some other factor was involved in his breakout.  Through that time though, the rather small sample size did indicate that he was more productive based on where he played defensively.  Given the limited number of games at the position though, it would have been difficult for anyone to draw the conclusion that he was being unfairly judged on both sides of the ball as a shortstop.  That is, until it happened again in 2015.

In 373 plate appearances as a shortstop last year (playoffs not included), Flores slashed out at .248/.283/.385.  In all fairness, he hit 12 of his 16 home runs at that position, but given that 73% of his playing time came at short last year, it does make sense that 75% of his HR production came while playing there as well.  What requires a deeper look though, is the fact that half of his 16 home runs came in the first two months of the season while playing short.

Starting in June though, after merely a few months of dealing with the daily grind at SS, his power completely fell off a cliff.  In 51 remaining games he played exclusively at shortstop, from June onward, he went from a modest .423 slugging percentage through the month of May, down to .339 through the rest of year- at that position.  By now, we’re seeing a pattern that- as a shortstop- the Mets are willingly conceding a large amount of production from one of their young, talented players.  It was only a few years ago that he had a much higher offensive ceiling than what the overall stats are telling us now.

Simply put, the added physical demand of shortstop has consistently worn down his legs and drastically altered the production many expected to see.  Just absolutely robbing his ability to drive the ball with authority.  Looking at it from a more practical perspective, it still makes complete sense that a lengthy 6’3, 205 lb athlete, built more like a shooting guard than a baseball player, would experience a quicker onset of fatigue than a player built with a more compact and agile frame.  Again, whether you prefer the stats or the eye test, both have consistently arrived at the same conclusion time and time again.

And how did he fare once taken off of shortstop last year?  Well, the only other defensive position he played was second base and sure enough, he produced at a .305/.331/.469 clip and did so over 133 plate appearances.  Again, not an overwhelming sample size, but we’re seeing a growing trend and coupled with ‘14’s production, we’re looking at a second baseman who produced a .302/.330/.500 slash line through 201 plate appearances up until the end of the 2015 season.  500 PA’s is typically the watermark for when players begin to round out to their average output, or at least that’s what the majority of baseball minds subscribe too, but what good is that when so many other variables have been inconsistent?

Also, this line from the 2013 scouting report stood out to me after reviewing the above results.

His overall offensive profile could steady in the .280-.285 range with decent pop and a relatively low on-base percentage”.

Looking at his 2nd base production above, we see a high average, with an OBP that sits barely above it and a slugging percentage that is certainly representative of a player with “decent pop”.  To me that’s a guy that prefers to make contact, but will drive the ball with excellent doubles power and above average home run power.  To me, that’s Wilmer.

wilmer flores

Now we turn the page to 2016, the year of the super-utility player, or at least what was the year of the super-utility player until David Wright’s season came to screeching halt yet again.  Enter Flores at the hot corner, yet again, now with three seasons around the diamond under his belt.

At shortstop, we saw Wilmer make drastic improvements to his footwork, which subsequently led to a greater ability to make throws on the run, record outs on hard hit balls ranging away from him and most importantly, make sufficiently accurate throws across the diamond.  To be clear, accuracy will likely never be a strength of his, but it never was for David Wright either.  The latter was often times a beneficiary of first baseman who were long and created a large vacuum with their glove, particularly with picking throws out of the dirt (a skill Lucas Duda rarely gets the proper credit for).  Similarly to the Captain though (circa 2004-2013), Flores has a very strong arm- dare we say stronger than David- and he’s shown that with it, he can compensate for many of his shortcomings.

This all matters for one reason, Flores clearly enjoys third base.  There’s far less range to cover, which is significant considering he actually has a quick first step and can get horizontal on balls within that 2-3 step range in a heartbeat.  At third base, that’ll work.  Does it mean he’ll always make every play?  No, but he’ll find a home with his glove and at times, manage to make the big plays.  With that set in place, he can finally get consistent at-bats at a position that minimizes the drain on his legs, but still adds value to the team defensively.  And how has he looked at the plate as a third baseman this year?

Following his recent resurgence, Wilmer now boasts a .287/.344/.504 slash line at the hot corner this year, good for an .848 OPS.  Now, it was only last week that he was mired in arguably his worst slump of the season, but throughout this pattern of ups and downs, it seems that Flores has always required a bit of time to get acclimated before he heats up.  Many have argued that Jose Reyes looming over his back has provided the added motivation.  Maybe that is the case, but to be honest, we’ve seen the same results time and time again when he’s given both an ample number of repetitions to go along with a position he can manage.

When a player is young and cost-controlled, any value they can add is similar to playing with house money, reap enough of it and you’re really hitting the jackpot.  Because of that, it’s imperative that the Mets give him an extended look at third.  The sample size away from shortstop is still limited enough to disagree with the conclusion, but it’s no longer small enough to dismiss completely.

Furthermore, prior to his debut, scouts had a consensus view that is now in line with a lot of what we’re seeing at third and second. As excited as I was to see Jose suit up again, I’ve been watching Flores get the proverbial chair pulled out from underneath him for years now.  As someone who never placed much of a future on him during his first few go-arounds, I’ve come around and now more than ever feel that it’s time to put him in a position to succeed.

Lets. Go. Mets!

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Amazins’ Show Depth and Flair in LA http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/amazins-show-great-depth-and-flair-in-la.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/amazins-show-great-depth-and-flair-in-la.html/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 13:06:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211637 rene rivera jeurys familia

On a night where several players were banged up and the 2nd place Nationals put on a show with Max Scherzer‘s 20 strikeout game, the Mets proved sturdy and had a pitcher of their own steal a show.

Noah Syndergaard carried the Mets to a thrilling victory over the Dodgers in LA on Wednesday night, pitching eight terrific innings and providing all of the offense, as he hit two big-time home runs and driving in four off Kenta Maeda.

Syndergaard, or “Thor,” was also throwing 100 MPH in the 8th inning, which as Mets color commentator Ron Darling mentioned, is much more impressive than Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees hitting triple digits in relief.

On the other hand Mets closer Jeurys Familia finished off the game striking out Yasiel Puig bringing back memories of his strikeout of Howie Kendrick in last year’s Game 5 to end the division series. But Familia didn’t do so without help from the Mets’ revamped middle infield defense.

With one of the weaker lineups of this young season that included Eric Campbell and Rene Rivera reminding us ever so slightly of the first half of 2015, it was the new double play combination of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker who showed to be the backbone with terrific defensive plays in the 9th, with Cabrera making the more crucial and difficult web gem.

With arguably the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, Clayton Kershaw, going against us in the final game of this four game set tonight, winning the first two of three in the series was crucial and now the Mets can go out and possibly steal a series on the road.

This road trip has had a few great moments already and one of those player’s who provided one of them, the ageless Bartolo Colon, toes the rubber against the Dodger’s ace.

The Mets showed impressive resilience on a night where we Mets fans were very concerned about the injuries of Steven Matz and David Wright, it seems that the Mets are a team with enough depth and star power to overcome anything.

After all, two of our aces have basically struggled all year and yet here we are in first place.

The Mets have gone 4-3 on the west coast swing thus far with 3 more against the Rockies after tonight’s game, and after that it’s on to New York for the first showdown with the Washington Nationals who will likely be neck and neck with us all year long.

Mets fans should be thrilled as this is likely to be the best divisional race in baseball. The Mets will have to deal with them and some personal hurdles as well.

With some of our pitchers not yet in top form, players like Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker having some aches and pains, concerns over Wright, Matz, and Wilmer Flores –who is heading to the disabled list with a hamstring injury– the Mets are going to have to fight through it all. And last night’s victory was a great character building victory.

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The Dark Knight Rises, Strikes Out 10 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/the-dark-knight-rises-strikes-out-10.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/the-dark-knight-rises-strikes-out-10.html/#comments Mon, 09 May 2016 13:00:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211364 matt harvey

Matt Harvey looked like he shed some of his bad mojo during his Mothers Day start against the San Diego Padres. He went six strong innings, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out ten. Through the first four innings he was sensational, he struck out seven and the only hit he gave up was a bunt single from the opposing starter Andrew Cashner.

Harvey’s only struggles were centered around the dreaded fifth inning. Padres’ catcher Christian Bethancourt launch a no doubter to left, off of a Matt Harvey fastball. Later in the inning, a questionable call from a play at the plate went the way of Matt Harvey, settling him down for an easy sixth inning, ending his day.

“I finally felt, the majority of the game, a lot more comfortable,” Harvey told reporters after the game. “I was able to pound the zone, was able to throw all of my pitches. Unfortunately there in the fifth I left one over the middle. Other than that, it was a successful day.”

Since the start of this season, Matt Harvey has struggled with his velocity. His fastball averaged in the low 90s and his command was inconsistent. “Right now, I’m not feeling good with my mechanics. I’m not feeling good throwing the ball,” Harvey said after his last start.

Well, whatever it was, Harvey must’ve hit the nail on the head because he was a step under sensational Sunday afternoon. Harvey’s average fastball was 95 mph while maxing out at 97 mph to strike out second baseman Adam Rosales in the 3rd inning.

 

It wasn’t only his fastball that showed major improvements today, Harvey struck batters out with his entire arsenal. Four with his fastball, three with his changeup, two with his curve, and one with the world famous Warthen slider.

“Mechanically I felt great,” Harvey added. “Definitely different than the last couple starts.”

If Matt Harvey can be consistent in his next couple of starts, The Dark Knight mantra that Harvey once embraced, will be back in full force.

His next start will most likely come in the hitter friendly Coors Field against the 3rd place Colorado Rockies. Matt Harvey is 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

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Mets Fans Have Dusted Off Their Gear http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mets-fans-have-dusted-off-their-gear.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mets-fans-have-dusted-off-their-gear.html/#comments Sat, 07 May 2016 10:50:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211222 citi field lines gnome

Until this passed weekend, it had been almost three years since the last time I was in New York City and at Citi Field.

It was August 6th, 2013: The MLB debut of soon-to-be-folk-hero Wilmer Flores, a game started by Jenrry Mejia, won by Scott Atchison, and saved by LaTroy Hawkins. At that moment, the Mets were sitting 17 games out of first place with a 50-60 record. Considering the Mets lineup that day, it’s a miracle I was able to witness a win at all:

LF Eric Young
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Ike Davis
CF Juan Lagares
3B Wilmer Flores
C John Buck
SS Omar Quintanilla

It’s incredible how much can change in so short a period of time. At that point, the Mets were still evolving and rebuilding. To be honest, they were largely in shambles.

Fast forward to April 29th, 2016 and the lineup hasn’t just gotten a face-lift, it’s become an entirely different being:

RF Curtis Granderson
3B David Wright
LF Michael Conforto
CF Yoenis Cespedes
1B Lucas Duda
2B Neil Walker
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
C Kevin Plawecki
P Steven Matz

Honestly, this article isn’t about the lineup that day, or how they produced a 12-run inning against a pitching insufficient San Francisco Giants team, or how gratifying it was to get two insanely rude Giants fans kicked out of Citi Field. Instead, it’s about how drastically different the feel of New York City is when the Mets are a team that matters.

I was in New York for two days, in the thick of the city, in 2013. I wore a Mets shirt everywhere I went, and I ran into only a handful of people with Mets gear on.

Fast forward to 2016 and once again on a two day trip to the city, I couldn’t visually process the amount of Mets hats, shirts, jackets, and jerseys I saw. In fact, for the first time in my life, regardless of the state I was in, I was able to count more Mets fans than Yankees fans in terms of representation. For a girl visiting from Florida, who makes sure that every Mets fan I bump into gets an excited, “Go Mets!” from me as they pass by, I was ecstatic.

To me, it’s less about the Mets “reclaiming New York” and more about Mets fans no longer having to shyly “admit” they’re fans. Admit isn’t the word. We often proclaim this allegiance with pride, but it’s equally met with “Oh, I’m sorry.” The 2015 World Series run changed that.

Mets fans are vibrant, loud, excited, often misunderstood as obnoxious. You’d be boisterous too if, in the face of fan rebellion against the Wilpons, the Mets charged, revitalized, to an exciting finish just a couple years removed from the lineup above.

These Mets are 17-11. The season is still young, and despite the struggles of Matt Harvey and a couple of players still looking to get into a groove, there’s the unmistakable feeling of unfinished business among the team – and it alone has set fans and a city abuzz.

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Does Spring Training Matter? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/does-spring-training-matter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/does-spring-training-matter.html/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2016 12:00:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208685 harvey collins

After the Nationals dropped the Mets spring training record to 7-16-5, it got me thinking. Do spring training records have any correlation to regular season and postseason success?

In doing some research, I came across an article published in April of 2012 by ESPN senior writer, David Schoenfield. The article looks back at the teams with the best regular season record in each of the last 10 seasons, then, how those teams performed in spring training leading up to that season.

Schoenfield found that 13 of the 14 teams with the best regular season record had finished with a spring training record of at least .500. The 2006 Yankees were the only team with the best regular season record (97-65) to finish under .500 during spring training (15-16).

Since that article was published, only one other team succeeded at matching the 2006 Yankees. The 2012 Washington Nationals went 98-64 in the regular season despite a 12-17 record during the spring.

I bet you’re thinking, “obviously the best team would perform well in spring training. What about postseason success or postseason appearances?”

From 2006 to 2015, 30 of 88 playoff teams had a losing record in spring training. Six of those teams advanced to the World Series, while only two teams, the 2008 Phillies and the 2011 Cardinals, won it all.

So what does this mean?

Well, as far as the Mets go, these numbers suggest that the Mets are not likely to have the best record in the regular season, make the playoffs or win the world series. Or in other words, fake games mean nothing. Let’s look at the facts.

Last season, the Mets put themselves back in the national spotlight for the first time since ’06. And unlike those Mets, these Mets are built for more than just a cameo in October this year.

Between the re-signings of Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon, and Jerry Blevins, and the acquisitions of Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, and Alejandro De Aza, general manager Sandy Alderson kept his foot on the gas, unlike Omar Minaya after the 2006 season.

Alderson heads into the 2016 season with an Opening Day roster that is so significantly better than last year’s roster even the detractors cannot deny that. He’s done an incredible job rebuilding the entire organization from the top down and now he’s built a team with enough talent to make back to back playoff appearances for only the second time in franchise history.

That’s the reality of the situation in Flushing as the Mets are poised for another thrilling and exciting postseason run in 2016.

So here’s a question for all of you. Does the Mets’ 7-16-5 spring training record have any bearing on how the 2016 Mets will perform this season? You know my answer, what’s yours?

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Mets Offseason Guide: The Road Back http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-offseason-guide-the-road-back.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-offseason-guide-the-road-back.html/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2015 20:10:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199100 collins alderson

The Mets have many areas and contractual issues they will have to address if they expect to return to the World Series next year. Anticipate a bevy of rumors as Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon’s will be under the gun to make improvements. It will be interesting to see how the front office can handle the pressure, now that the Mets will have higher expectations for 2016, and nothing short of another trip to at least the National League Championship Series will be acceptable.

Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy

Most of the beat writers are saying that neither Yoenis Cespedes or Daniel Murphy will return to the Mets this offseason. Murphy is someone who Gary Cohen described as a “net negative” and to the agony of Mets fans everywhere this came to fruition in the World Series. His historic playoff run will be forever remember however, his baseball IQ and poor defensive plays have cost the Mets too much over the past few seasons. In addition, the Mets have a solid prospect in Dilson Herrera waiting in the wings to take over at 2nd base. Herrera is an all-around better player and will strengthen the Mets defense up the middle while adding some speed to the lineup. The Mets will certainly extend Murphy a Qualifying Offer, which he will decline and give the Mets an extra 1st round pick for next years draft.

Cespedes YoenisThe Cespedes situation will be more challenging of a decision for the Mets to make. Yes, there is no denying that his bat and arrival in Flushing was the turning point of the season and the Mets will be forever grateful for that. However, Cespedes is 30 years-old and will command a deal of 6 to 7 years, something the Mets do not seem willing to do, nor should they. There will be a team that overpays for Cespedes services and that team will not be the Mets. Paying Cespedes upwards or $25 million a year for his age 36 and 37 seasons is too big of a risk for a team strapped for cash.

One suggestion floating is going after free agent Jason Heyward, who is 26 years-old and suits the Mets’ hitting philosophy better than Cespedes as he is a high on-base percentage player and will also add speed to a lineup that lacks it. Heyward is one of the best defenders in all of baseball and the Mets could play him or Curtis Granderson in center field with Michael Conforto at one of the corners.

Another idea would be to go after Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who is under team control for the next four years. Blackmon had a rough go around when he visited Citi Field this season but he is a solid player who gets on base and steals a lot of bases. The Rockies could be interested in Kevin Plawecki and some of the Mets pitchers such as Jon Niese whom they asked about last offseason.

Bullpen

The bullpen is an immediate issue that the Mets need to address in order to bridge the gap to Jeurys Familia. The need for a left-handed specialist has to be addressed as well as getting more reliable 7th and 8th inning relievers.  Addison Reed should be tendered as he was phenomenal after coming over from Arizona. Hansel Robles has the potential to turn into a power arm. Either of them could fill that void.

For a LOOGY the Mets could bring back Jerry Blevins, as he will be on the cheaper side, or could welcome back Oliver Perez, which is cringe worthy. J.P. Howell is the most desirable left-handed free agent after posting a 1.97 ERA over the last 3 years and would be an asset coming out of the pen.

As for set-up men, Alderson may have to explore a trade as the only viable options on the free agent market are the likes of Joakim Soria or bringing back Tyler Clippard which would be extremely unwise after how he finished the year.

5th Starter

The Mets will have to make do until Zack Wheeler returns in June or July of next year from Tommy John Surgery. Trading Niese, and his salary, when his value is most likely as high as it will get, could yield something useful. Bringing back Bartolo Colon would be a cheap option, while also giving the Mets a reliable arm if any other starters were to go down with an injury. It is hard to imagine the Mets trading or acquiring a big name starter but they could be in the market for another starter if a trade for Wheeler came about, which we all know teams are still interested in him even with the injury.

Shortstop

Wilmer Flores, the cult hero, turned out to be an average defender after there were extreme doubts of his ability at the position. One free agent the Mets could consider at shortstop is Ian Desmond, who would also bring some power to the lineup with the departure of Cespedes. However, his fielding is less than desirable and is not much better than Flores.

Going out and getting another shortstop, who is a better fielder, or second baseman is something the Mets will definitely look into. But Flores will likely be starting at one of those positions come Opening Day. Ben Zobrist, who crushed the Mets in the World Series, has always been someone linked to the Mets and for the right price would be an excellent fit due to his versatility and hitting mentality. Another team that has a plethora of young middle infield talent are the Chicago Cubs. Javier Baez would be able to replace some power as well and is an upgrade in the field but strikes out entirely too much and shows no plate discipline. Another name is, of course, Starlin Castro, who has been up and down but has shown his ability to hit and also has a very team-friendly contract.

Bench

juan uribe fotorThis is a key aspect of the Mets roster as David Wright, unfortunately, cannot be counted on to play an entire season and if he does he will still need plenty of days off.

Bringing back Juan Uribe, if his contract demands are not too high, would be a solid move. But it sounds as though the Mets might just bring back the less costlier Kelly Johnson instead.

Bottom line is, the Mets can ill-afford for their bench to perform like it did at the beginning of this season, they need more experience and better pinch-hitting options. Michael Cuddyer, and his albatross of a contract, will be able to play 1st base and some outfield while being the most expensive bench player in baseball but overall he should be productive in that role.

It is hard to say exactly what the Mets offseason will look like. I do not expect a huge splash from them. but do expect some solid moves to be made. The starting pitching is where the Mets are all set, but a consistent offense and a reliable bullpen will be the difference between a parade down the “Canyon of Heroes” or a disappointing finish.

I refuse to believe the Wilpons have no money to spend and would not be shocked to see a payroll of roughly $120 million going into next season. It should be an exciting couple of months with the earliest domino dropping soon, as Qualifying Offer decisions are due by November 13th.

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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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Mets vs Dodgers: A Season Series Recap http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-vs-dodgers-a-season-series-recap.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-vs-dodgers-a-season-series-recap.html/#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:15:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=195603 Curtis - Granderson Dodgers

In the 2015 season the Mets took on the Dodgers seven times, little did they know that they would be meeting up once again in the National League Division Series. All seven meetings took place in July with the first one being a three game set during the Fourth of July weekend. Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw squared off on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. As good as Kershaw was, Syndergaard matched the former Cy Young winner with every pitch.

Kershaw was able to hold the Mets to only one run in 7.0 innings of work, allowing five hits. He did allow five hits though to a very depleted Mets offense that included the likes of John Mayberry Jr, Kevin Plawecki, and Darrell Ceciliani.

Syndergaard was just as dominant allowing only one run and two hits in 6.0 very strong innings, only allowing a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez. That will be the Mets greatest threat to the Dodgers come Friday, even if the Dodgers pitching is as great as it has been all season, the Mets have the ability to match anything they can do. The Mets took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth courtesy of a Kevin Plawecki sac fly off Kenly Jansen. Jeurys Familia would secure the Mets victory with his 22nd save.

The 4th of July showdown featured another top tier pitching duel when Zack Greinke went up against Matt Harvey. Greinke did what he did all season and that was dominate lineups from start to finish. He held the Mets scoreless in 7.0 innings. On the other side Harvey was extremely mediocre. This was when Harvey was going through his ‘dead arm’ period. Harvey allowed 3 runs and 7 hits in 5.0 innings.

The Mets mounted a furious comeback after Greinke left with a 4-0 lead but it just fell short as the Mets left the tying run on third and dropped game 2 of the series by a score of 4-3.

The finale and rubber game of this series was all Mets. Steven Matz dominated in his second career start allowing just 2 hits and 0 runs in 6.0 dazzling innings. Matz will start game 4 for the Mets if he can show he is over his back injury, which remains in question. The Mets got to Mike Bolsinger early and often tagging him for four runs in 5.0 innings with Wilmer Flores leading the charge with 3 RBI’s. The Mets would win this one 8-0.

At the end of the month these two met for the final time in 2015 for a four game series in Queens. The first game was all Dodgers as the Mets ran into Clayton Kershaw for the second time this season. Jimmy Rollins would hit a home run off Bartolo Colon in the third and that would be just about all they would need. Kershaw would bring a perfect game into the 7th until Curtis Granderson singled to right to lead off the inning. Kershaw would only allow two more hits in a complete game effort and a 3-0 Dodgers victory.

Justin, Turner Wilmer, FloresThe Dodgers would have a field day off Jon Niese in game 2 with most of their offense coming from former Met Justin Turner who went 3-for-5 with his 13th home run. The dodgers would win 7-2 to take the first two games of the series but the Mets would be sure to return the favor on Saturday.

In game 3 of the series Matt Harvey was brilliant, holding the Dodgers to only two runs in 7.0 strong innings. Harvey though would be the least thing talked about as the Mets had their biggest offensive outpouring this season. The Mets pounded Dodgers pitcher Zach Lee in his big league debut.

It was also the Mets debut for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe who both contributed to the victory. Rookie Michael Conforto would also get his first MLB hit and RBI in his one.  Four home runs and 21 hits later the Mets had a 15 on the scoreboard and would win the game 15-2.

With the season series all knotted up at three apiece, the teams would play their most entertaining game of the season in their final meeting of the 2015 regular season. It was Jacob deGrom who will start game 1 of the NLDS for New York, against Zack Greinke who will start for the Dodgers in game 2. Greinke came into the game with a 43 and 2/3 inning scoreless streak, That streak would end when who else but Jacob deGrom singled to drive in Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

The Mets would once again be able to match Dodgers pitchers pitch for pitch. DeGrom dominated only allowing 2 hits and no runs in 7.2 innings pitched. The Mets would take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Greinke gave the Mets a gift, hitting Michael Conforto with the bases loaded.

The Mets would take a 2-0 lead into the top of the 9th but Jeurys Familia would continue his early second half struggles. With the Dodgers trailing 2-1 Yasmani Grandal would single home Carl Crawford to even things up at 2-2. Familia would strand Grandal on base and the Mets would have a chance to win it. In the bottom of the 10th it was the newest Met, Juan Uribe absolutely crushing a ball off Kenley Jansen to score Curtis Granderson from second to give the Mets the victory.

The Mets would take the season series 4-3. These two ball clubs were practically dead even during the regular season. This series has the potential to go either way and I think without a doubt it will be the best series coming out of the first round of the playoffs. It all begins on Friday night at Dodgers Stadium. Be there!

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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.

homer the dog

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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: 5 Keys To Unlocking The Mets’ Postseason Dreams http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-5-keys-to-unlocking-the-mets-postseason-dreams.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-5-keys-to-unlocking-the-mets-postseason-dreams.html/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 14:01:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=190677 citi field sunset

Starting Pitching

Well this is about as obvious as they come; the New York Mets starting pitching is essentially to a successful stretch run.  The starting rotation ranks 3rd in the National League in ERA with a 3.26. Jacob deGrom has been nothing short of fantastic and is a serious contender to win NL Cy Young. Noah Syndergaard might well be the NL Rookie of The Year. Pretty impressive that two of your starters can be mentioned for such prestigious individual awards.

However, the two guys who have really impressed are Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. Both battling back from arm injuries this year to prove they are fully capable of carrying this ball club with their ability to throw the baseball. Niese has been able to overcome the “Inning of doom” that always seemed to plague him in previous years. After Tommy John surgery expectations for Harvey were low due to the severity of the injury. Earlier in the year he went through a rough patch where too many balls were going over the fence but now he has turned that around to the tune of a 2.57 ERA. As long as these guys can continue to pitch the way they have all year then the Mets should be in good shape.

David Wright

David Wright has been injured all season, minus 8 games, and the Mets have not faired well in his absence at 3rd base, batting .232 on the season from whomever they have stuck there. Juan Uribe has been a solid addition in the field and has had some timely home runs but he owns a .169 average since the trade, which is terrible.

Wright is unquestionably the leader of the Mets on and off the field, the lasting image of him following Wilmer Flores into the clubhouse on that unforgettable night proved that. There was no coincidence that he was in the dugout for a good portion of the recent Mets hot stretch. Of course there are no promises Wright will come back this season, even with the rumors that he will return when the Mets head to Philadelphia next week. With the addition of Wright the entire lineup will get a boost and should be more productive.

The Bullpen

Other then the little hiccup that Jeurys Familia had in the weeks after the All-Star break, he has been pretty much lights out most of the season and was arguable 1st half MVP for the Mets. Tyler Clippard is a pro and is the elite type of set-up man the Mets looked for at the deadline, even though he can make things interesting. Hansel Robles has come out of nowhere this year proving he is a valuable young flamethrower for late relief.

After that, well, it gets very shaky to say the least. Bobby Parnell seems like he cannot get out of his own way lately. Whether it be walking the lead off hitter to start the inning or throwing the ball into centerfield, nothing seems to be working and his time with the Mets should be on thin ice. Carlos Torres is not someone who anyone can really trust to hold a lead in a big game right now as he just is not that type of reliever and seems to be burnt out this year after appearing in 110 games over the last 2 years.

Either the Mets are going to be forced to find another trade partner for late relief, which seems unlikely at this point, or they will have to solve the problem internally. Vic Black seems to be in Mets bullpen jail, yes he has walked a few too many batters in the minors this year with an absurd 7.2 walks per 9, but had a 2.60 ERA in 41 games in 2014. Surely he deserves a shot. Two names to keep an eye on are Erik Goeddel and Josh Smoker. Goeddel, who pitched well before getting hurt with a 1.96 ERA but mostly pitched in low leverage situations. Smoker is the one who is turning heads with his mid-90’s fastball from the left side down in double A. A former first round pick by the Nationals, Smoker has struck out 56 batters in 43.2 innings pitched. Somehow, someway the Mets relievers are going to have to step up because the starters cannot go 8 innings every night.

Terry Collins

The love-hate relationship between Mets fans and Terry Collins is actually comical at this point. Nevertheless he is the guy who is driving this boat and will have to continue to press the right buttons, hopefully well into October. The use of his bullpen has been less then admirable, which is something that has plagued Collins throughout his tenure with the Mets.

There have been many times over the past 5 years where the Mets could justifiably fire Collins but the players really seem to love playing for him. Quite a few times throughout the 2015 season fans have wondered “Why is this guy coming in to pitch” or “Why is he pinch hitting with Eric Campbell” but Collins has been right more then wrong lately, which is something you always want out of your manager.

The Home Crowd

Mets fans its time to sell out every game from here on out. I wrote before the season started that I had hoped the Wilpons could turn Citifield into our home field advantage just like how Shea Stadium was. After the Nationals game on ESPN a few weeks ago that dream came true. Mets fans get loud when they have something to root for, easily one of the best fanbase’s in all of baseball. Seeing Citi almost sell out last Wednesday night was something I did not expect to see this year. The fans have to be the extra energy, give the players an extra boost of energy down the stretch.

However, do not boo these guys like what happened the other night to Parnell. These guys battle every night and are trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006. Cheer and clap your hands. No matter the situation or outcome supporting this team is the only way to go about it for the rest of the season.

The Mets have what it takes, their grit and toughness has been relentless throughout the season. Now it is put up or shut up time. Guys have to step up and do things they are not used to doing. Clutch hitting, big-time pitching and smart decisions will all be vital to the Mets playoff run. So buckle up and get ready because it should be one hell of a ride.

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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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Mets Can Play to Strength of Schedule in August and September http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/mets-can-play-to-strength-of-schedule-in-august-and-september.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/mets-can-play-to-strength-of-schedule-in-august-and-september.html/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:53:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=188279 mets win Nieuwenhuis

Coming out of the All Star break the Mets played what was undoubtedly their most difficult stretch of the season. A 10-game slate which included series with each of the division leaders in the National League.

The Mets barely made it out of St. Louis winning their only game of the series during a Sunday 18-inning marathon.

The following three game series against the division rival Nationals had Mets fans beaming when they led the Nationals 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning during a Wednesday rubber match to put the Mets one game back in the NL East. What would follow would turn into the worst loss of the year, which would send them back to Citi Field 3.0 games back of first place with a critical four game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The first two games of the series would continue to show what we’ve seen all year, a disparaging lack of offense. The Mets were dominated by Clayton Kershaw and Ian Thomas… yes, Ian Thomas. The tide would turn though as the additions of Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Michael Conforto would help the Mets salvage the final two games of the series and put themselves back to 2.0 games out of first place and 3.5 behind second wild card. 

Although it wasn’t pretty at times and the Mets certainly did not play their best baseball they were able to do just what was needed to live to see themselves still in the playoff hunt.

With the Mets’ most difficult portion of their second half schedule now over, the team can now look forward to the rest of the season with a great deal of optimism as they attempt to play October baseball for the first time in almost a decade.

For starters the Dodgers series showed that Johnson, Uribe, and Conforto certainly bring a new and improved offensive approach to the Mets lineup. Terry Collins can now play the hot hand when previously he was forced to put the same struggling hitters into the lineup due to a severe lack of depth on the bench.

Besides those three the Mets will also be receiving offensive help from Travis d’Aranud who will shortly be making his return to the Mets lineup, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

But besides newly acquired offensive help and returns from the disabled list, the Mets biggest plus over the last two months might just be their strength of schedule.

The Mets will finish the month of July with three games against the Padres at home. San Diego may have taken 2 of 3 from the Mets in San Diego, but the Mets are a different team at home and have certainly had their way against teams under .500 when they come to Citi Field.

August will be the Mets best chance to take control of the division, 20 of Mets 28 games will be against teams under .500 including the Phillies, Marlins, Rockies, and Red Sox.

Three of the eight games against teams above .500 will come against the Tampa Bay Rays who are barely over .500 as well as three games with the Nationals as the Mets look for revenge from last week’s disappointing series.

September proves to show much of the same positive dynamics for the Mets. In fact, 21of the Mets’ 27 games will come  against teams that are under .500, almost identical to August.

The Mets will play two series in September against teams above .500. A three-game series with the Nationals in Washington and a three-game set with the Yankees at Citi Field.  

In the last two month’s the Mets have just about as many home games remaining as they do road games so despite a comfortable schedule the Mets will need to make sure to be playing their best baseball at and away from the Citi Field.

There is no doubt that the Mets are right in the thick of the playoff race and the way August and September play out the Mets have a real chance to take the division.

The Nationals will have the same opportunity as the Mets do to beat up on teams with losing records but Washington still has games remaining against Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals. Those three will be almost as difficult to the Nationals as the last three series have been for the Mets.

The Mets have played their best baseball this season against teams under .500, the Amazin’s have a great opportunity to make some headway, it is now up to them to go out and take it and continue the season for as long as possible.

homer the dog

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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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Conforto Named Eastern League Player of the Week http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/conforto-named-eastern-league-player-of-the-week.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/conforto-named-eastern-league-player-of-the-week.html/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:39:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187285 Conforto_150307_0013_1_ni7xpwnb_aru8oomc

I wanted to update this excellent post by Christina with the news that outfield prospect Michael Conforto was just named the Eastern League Player of the Week.

Conforto, 22, went 7-for-16 (.438) with two home runs, three RBI, and three runs scored in four games this past week, and that was after an impressive performance at the Futures Game in Cincinnati.

The clamoring for the team to promote Conforto keeps growing as he continues to perform well at Double-A Binghamton.

However, I keep hearing the Mets look at promoting Conforto as a last resort and don’t want to put him in a position where he’s viewed as a savior for the offense.

That said, much of this depends on what the Mets do at the trade deadline in ten days. If they acquire an outfielder, chances are we won’t see Conforto until after the Super Two deadline in 2016.

Joe D.

July 18 – Calling Up Michael Conforto: The Pros and Cons

The only way a Mets fan hasn’t heard the name Michael Conforto is if they’ve been living under a rock; or, more likely, in a corner of a much better world where they don’t lurk Twitter all day. No offense to Twitter lurkers, I’m one of you guys.

Michael Conforto is, at the very least, good. Again, that’s at the very least. The 22 year old college bat from Oregon State was always described as an “advanced college bat” according to Newsday. And he’s proven that for the Mets affiliates so far.

Over 83 total games between St. Lucie and Binghamton, Conforto has a slash of .295/.369/.468/.837. In that same span, he has 10 homers (7 in St. Lucie, 3 in Binghamton) and 49 RBIs. 35% of his total hits have been for extra bases (35% and 36% for Bing and St. Lucie, respectively.)  If we compare that to Daniel Murphy‘s 2013 season, Conforto’s good for about 6% more extra base hits.

I know, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. One’s a minor leaguer and one’s a pretty damn serviceable major leaguer (with the bat, for sure). But it’s a pretty good sign if this is what Conforto is all about.

The Pros:

  • You get an in-house bat that has been explosive in the minors.
  • The kid could revitalize a fan base craving for instant gratification from the minors.
  • Bryce Harper was hitting .243 when he was called up to the majors, and he’s turning out just fine.
  • Conforto has shown the ability to adapt to pitchers making adjustments. After going on a tear, he fell into a pretty rough slump going 9-for-40 over ten games. However, over his most recent 10 games, Conforto seems to be coming around a little going 12-for-41.
  • If he hits .270 upon promotion from AA to the ML, he’s already better than the Mets’ entire OF.
  • He doesn’t have a noodle arm in the OF–and you can watch his OF assist on loop from the Futures Game.
  • The kid exudes confidence in his ability to play and be a student of baseball.

The Cons:

  • He may end up comically unprepared and his growth can be stunted.
  • His confidence at the plate could be tarnished.
  • He could get sent back down and not be the same batter.
  • Fans may turn on him if he isn’t instantly a success.
  • Very little protection for him in the lineup, practically no safety net.

I’m not sure which side of the debate I’m on regarding Conforto. I love his bat, he already seems like a really exciting player. On the other hand, he could just be so exciting because it’s been a while since the Mets have had a real bat warming up in the minors. We have Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith finally heating up, but there was always a hope that they’d tap into their potential as high school picks. Conforto could really be explosive for the fan base and the Mets.

Do I think he’s ready? Possibly, mostly because he thinks he can do it, and I believe him. I’m not sure he needs as much time as people want him to have. I think he’s a smart enough kid that if he isn’t an immediate hit, he’ll take what he learned, genuinely, back to the minors and go on a tear to force the Mets to bring him up again.

We saw first hand that a smart baseball player can take his flaws, bring them to the minors, and come back a brand new player. I’m talking about Travis d’Arnaud. He got too much in his head and was beating himself down with the Mets. The demotion woke him up and calmed him down, and he went back to what made him a highly touted prospect.

There’s a lot of “I think, I think, I think” going on here, I know. We all have thoughts and opinions. But, with Cuddyer’s ballooning knees, Granderson’s noodle arm, and Lagares’  impending elbow surgery, the Mets need to do something, and rather than overpay for a guy like Ben Zobrist, they could go into their minors.

The issue is digging into their prospects will also irritate fans because it’ll presumably indicate an unwillingness to spend, but spending has put the San Diego Padres in a pickle jar and sealed the lid. Rather than getting older in the outfield with rentals or too-long deals, Conforto might be the healthier option for the Mets future.

Of course, fielding half of the Las Vegas 51′s roster in 2015 has felt more like a cry for outside help than a benefit for the Major League club. The Mets AAA pitchers have fared far better than AAA hitters. It’s harder to be a good pitcher in Las Vegas than it is to be a good hitter, so if you can pitch well there, you’re probably ready for the majors. Or, so it seems.

We’ll see in the coming weeks how things begin to shape up. I’m not trying to start a Mets’ fan war, but it’s good to weigh all possible options. I’m curious if anyone has any other pros or cons to add that I may have missed or not considered.

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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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