Mets Merized Online » Joe D http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 The Best Mets Prospect We Never Saw http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-best-mets-prospect-we-never-saw.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-best-mets-prospect-we-never-saw.html/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:02:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205003 alg-cole-jpg

So one of my writers sent me a link to Baseball America asking me to check out last week’s Ask BA feature. A reader posed the following question to  J.J. Cooper:

“Who are the best prospects such as Grant Desme who never made MLB either by choice, injury, accident or other causes?”

Before I even got to Cooper’s response, I was wondering if he was going to bring up the one prospect that immediately came to my mind. And he did.

“It’s highly likely that Desme would have become a future big leaguer if he had continued to play, and he had the ceiling of an impact regular… Limiting it to players who didn’t make the majors Desme isn’t the best prospect to not play in the big leagues this century, but he’s close. As good as Desme could have been, Mets outfielder Brian Cole had a chance to be a truly special player.”

cole“In 2000 as a 21-year-old, Cole hit .301/.347/.494 with 19 home runs and 69 stolen bases between high Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. He had power, speed, bat control and excellent defense. An exceptional athlete, Cole had turned down a football scholarship to Florida State to play baseball. He wasn’t particularly big (5-foot-9) but he had surprising power. He was a center fielder who could roam from gap to gap.”

Actually, as good as those numbers look consider that he also had 7 triples and 35 doubles that season, a total of 61 extra-base hits in 550 at-bats. Cole also drove in 86 runs while scoring 104 of them. He was named the Mets Minor League Player of the Year, and the buzz was that he could essentially make the jump from Double-A to the Majors in 2001.

But the Mets had no intentions of rushing this prospect as they did with a couple of other top guys before him. Still they invited him to spring training so that Bobby Valentine and his coaches could have a closer look.

I don’t need to remind you how good it felt going into that Spring of 2001. We were coming off that World Series appearance and loss against the Yankees, but things were looking promising. Our 26-year old second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo just had an All Star campaign, batting .324 with 40 doubles, 25 homers, 94 RBI and a .967 OPS. Mike Piazza was coming off a monster season with 38 homers, 113 RBI, a .324 batting average and a 1.012 OPS. And we still had Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Al Leiter and Armando Benitez. What could possibly go wrong.

Cole, 22, didn’t fail to impress in big league camp, giving everyone a good look at his rare combination of power and speed. He put together a strong spring training and drew rave reviews from many of the Grapefruit League scouts. But as Spring Training drew to a close and with the Mets Season Opener two days away, tragedy would strike.

On March 31, 2001, after the Mets broke camp and Cole was reassigned to Double-A Binghamton, he and his cousin decided to drive to his parents home in Meridian, Mississippi from St. Lucie.

cole explorer

While trying to avoid hitting a car that swerved into his lane, he lost control of his Ford Explorer, causing it to roll numerous times and he was ejected from the vehicle.

Cole suffered massive injuries to his skull, brain, lungs and upper torso. He failed to put on his seat belt. His cousin who was wearing his seat belt, survived the horrific crash without any serious injury and was treated and released. Cole was pronounced dead.

It was a devastating blow to the entire organization and the news shook the franchise to its core. Former Mets GM Jim Duquette told the Daily News in an interview that he believed Brian Cole was going to be a major-league star. ”He probably would have come on the scene right with Jose Reyes in 2003,” Duquette said.

“He was a player we were going to build around as an organization…We were planning on David Wright at third base, Jose Reyes at shortstop and Brian Cole in the outfield,”

Nearly a decade later, Adam Rubin interviewed former Met reliever Heath Bell in 2010. The Padres closer was a teammate of Cole’s in the minors and he remembered telling him that he was going to have a $100 million dollar major-league career.

“I don’t remember him swinging and missing ever,” Bell said. “We used to have conversations. I said, ‘I would never want to face you because I never see you swing and miss.’

“He was one of those guys you wish you saw him play in the big leagues. He was a little guy, but he hit for power. He had speed. And he hit for average.”

In his short time with the Mets, Cole played in 320 games or roughly the equivalent of two seasons. In that span he batted .306 with a .503 slugging percentage and a .850 OPS. He collected 90 doubles, 19 triples and 42 home runs with 193 RBI, 237 runs scored and 135 stolen bases.

His friends, family and teammates said he was your average kid and always happy. He loved football and baseball and enjoyed life. He always addressed Mets coaches and executives as “sir” even when they told him he didn’t have to be so formal. His talent was undeniable. It makes you wonder how things might have been if he did come up with Reyes and Wright. Ah, the possibilities…. Such a tragic loss.

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Mets and MMO Super Bowl 50 Predictions http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-and-mmo-super-bowl-50-predictions.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-and-mmo-super-bowl-50-predictions.html/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 16:53:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205809 super bowl 50

Super Bowl 50 is set to kickoff on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, as the NFC champion Carolina Panthers and the AFC champion Denver Broncos battle it out for this year’s Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Panthers finished the regular season with a 15–1 record and after defeating the Arizona Cardinals 49–15 in the NFC Championship Game they advance to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

The Broncos finished the regular season with a 12–4 record and defeated the New England Patriots 20–18 in the AFC Championship Game. They now join the Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams that have made eight appearances in the Super Bowl.

Let us know who you think will take home the trophy and head to Disney World, and then check out our staff picks and what some Mets players are predicting!

MMO Staff Predictions

Joe D. – Panthers 24, Broncos 13

Connor O’Brien – Broncos 27, Panthers 24

Jacob Resnick – Broncos 28, Panthers 27

Big Mets Fan – Panthers 17, Broncos 10

Michael Mayer – Broncos 23, Panthers 20

Tommy Rothman – Broncos 27, Panthers 17

Matt Balasis – Panthers 30, Broncos 23

Mitch Petanick – Broncos 21, Panthers 20

Matt Fritz – Panthers 27, Broncos 23

Mets Daddy – Broncos 24, Panthers 20

Logan Barer – Broncos 25, Panthers 24

Did you know…

This will be the first Super Bowl to feature a quarterback on both teams who was the #1 pick in their draft classes. Manning was the #1 selection of the 1998 NFL draft, while Newton was picked first in 2011. The matchup also pits the top two picks of the 2011 draft against each other: Newton for Carolina and Von Miller for Denver.

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Don’t Bet Against Travis d’Arnaud This Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/dont-bet-against-travis-darnaud-this-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/dont-bet-against-travis-darnaud-this-season.html/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:18:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205767 travis darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud was one of the first players to arrive to the Mets Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, having rented an RV with his brother and their girlfriends to make the cross-country trek from California to Florida right after the New Year.

Since January 11 – more than a month before the reporting date for pitchers and catchers – Travis has been working hard to get himself prepared for what he says will be a very special season.

D’Arnaud, who turns 27 in five days, is hoping this is the year he can put it altogether and avoid the injuries that have plagued him over the last few years. “There’s nothing I could do about the past, so I’m here and my focus is on present. Everyday I go out there with Kevin [Long] and Pat [Roessler] and work hard, set a routine and have fun.”

Expected to get some exposure to first base and left field this Spring, d’Arnaud says he considers it a privilege to be able to handle a rotation that includes Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon – who he calls a mentor that has so much knowledge to share with him and the staff.

“It’s a total blessing and I’m really honored to be a part of this organization. I think it’s gonna be an unbelievable year,” d’Arnaud told MLB.com. “Last year was so exciting and we shocked the world, and I think this year we’re going to do it again. We all believe in that. It’s going to be a helluva year.”

Although he missed significant time due to yet another freak injury, Travis was shined when he was on the field, producing at a .268/.340/.485 clip with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 268 trips to the plate. His .825 OPS, 129 OPS+ and 131 wRC+ clearly gives one pause to consider what kind of gaudy numbers he can produce in 130-135 games this season.

“We know he’s got big-time power and his confidence right now, offensively, is off the charts,” manager Terry Collins told reporters last Fall. “There’s nobody, when he walks up there, that doesn’t think he can hit, and he’s dangerous.”

D’Arnaud is poised for a huge season as he enters his third full year in the majors and the prime years of his career. I truly believe this is the season it all comes together for him. Don’t bet against him.

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Neil Walker Enjoys Batting Fifth In The Lineup http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/neil-walker-enjoys-batting-fifth-in-the-lineup.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/neil-walker-enjoys-batting-fifth-in-the-lineup.html/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:13:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205754 neil walker

New Mets second baseman Neil Walker is ready for the challenge of replacing Daniel Murphy this season, he tells Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.

“My style of baseball is kind of similar to Murph’s,’’ Walker said. “I’ve always considered myself as an athlete and a guy who pays attention to the small details. My game is not the prettiest. I consider myself a grinder.’’

Walker, 30, was happy to see Terry Collins pencil him into the number five spot in the order when he gave reporters a preview of his Opening Day lineup last week.

“That’s a place I really enjoy hitting,’’ the switch-hitting Walker said. “I’m a line-drive hitter from both sides of the plate, and I’ve always been the kind of guy who puts the ball in play. With the guys in front of me, there certainly will be the opportunity to drive some runs in here.’’

The Mets and Walker agreed on a one-year contract worth $10.55 million last week to avoid arbitration. He made $8 million with the Pirates last season and was requesting $11.8 million.

While he may not exceed his career high of 23 in home runs, I can certainly see Walker producing at a 125 OPS+ level this season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him bat .285 with 35 doubles and 18 home runs. And if Collins leaves him in the fifth spot, he could easily drive in 80 or more runs – something he last did in 2011 when he had 83 RBI.

Defensively, he’s unquestionably better than Murphy, posting +1 defensive runs saved the last four seasons compared to -40 for Murph.

By the way, you’ll want to check out Kernan’s full article in which he and Walker look back on his days as a star wide receiver and cornerback in high school. Of particular note was an annual All Star Game of sorts pitting the best high school senior stars of Pennsylvania and Ohio against each other. Walker played one of the two cornerback positions – the other was Darrelle Revis. Check it out here.

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Gilmartin, Montero, Verrett Could Fill Sixth Starter Role http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/gilmartin-montero-verrett-could-fill-sixth-starter-role.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/gilmartin-montero-verrett-could-fill-sixth-starter-role.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 19:01:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205607 sean gilmartin

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets could turn to one of Sean Gilmartin or Logan Verrett as a sixth starter during the first half of the season. I would also add Rafael Montero into that equation as well.

That is based on comments made by general manager Sandy Alderson on Wednesday, who said the organization plans to strategically use a sixth starter to keep their staff fresh in the first half of the season.

That is not to suggest that Mets starting pitchers will have and innings restrictions and limits imposed on them as was the case last season. That is not the issue at all. Most of the top four starters including Steven Matz should all be able to eclipse the 200 inning mark in 2016.

logan Verrett

But these guys are still young, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping them fresh and strong. I would imagine the team will be keeping a close watch on Gilmartin, Verrett and Montero this Spring to see which of them will get the call when the team needs them. I expect all three to begin the season in the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation until that happens.

For now, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGromNoah Syndergaard and Matz will get plenty of work with Bartolo Colon serving as the fifth starter. Some time around July 1st, Zack Wheeler will join the rotation and probably push Colon into a long relief and spot starter role.

The Mets are in an incredibly ideal situation, boasting one of the top rotations in baseball and even having all their bases covered with quality depth and contingency plans if needed. This is going to be so fun and exciting to watch.

Bonus: A Text Conversation I Had

Met Fan - I love what Zack Wheeler said about throwing inside in that interview you posted.

Joe – Could it be we now have two Bob Gibson and Pedro Martinez “Don’t Crowd My Fu*king Plate” type pitchers?

Met Fan – With the velocity these guys throw with, that should be all of their strategies.

Joe – Guys that throw 98 usually have good careers. Guys that throw 98 and own the inside part of the plate go to the Hall of Fame in my opinion.

Met Fan – Yep, throwing inside is what makes the slider/curve a more effective pitch and makes a pitch on the outside half tougher to handle because in the hitter’s mind he is worried about getting jammed on the inside pitch.

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The Times, They Are A Changin’ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-times-they-are-a-changin-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/the-times-they-are-a-changin-2.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:30:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205692 sandy alderson

From all accounts, there was something different about the media session Mets GM Sandy Alderson held with reporters on Wednesday. When the subject turned to spending and payroll and what those two would look like in the future, there wasn’t the typical defensive posture or the always omnipresent vagueness that we’ve become so accustomed to over the years.

Most of all, Sandy exuded a distinct confidence and awareness that’s rarely ever seen when the topic centers around the financial viability of the New York Mets. In many ways I found the totality of his comments at Citi Field and what he said in a couple of interviews shortly after on TV and radio, to be quite profound, prescient and refreshing.

“If the Cespedes signing says anything,” Alderson told reporters on Wednesday, “it’s that there are no possibilities that will be dismissed out of hand strictly for financial reasons.”

 And if that wasn’t astounding enough, Sandy Alderson doubled down a few minutes later when asked if this was some bold new era for the franchise. “You mean is the $140 the new $85?” Alderson quipped.

“I don’t think we’re going to be as mindful of the ‘140’ number as most of you in the media. But, in a sense, in terms of order of magnitude, and assuming we continue to play well, we don’t anticipate it going back to those prior levels.”

And if that’s still not enough to fill your Mets coffers. the Mets GM then shifted the conversation to contract extensions – contract extensions mind you – for all of the team’s young pitchers.

“Even if the payroll were to go up, you’re still going to have to make choices. It’s nice that we have some of those choices to make, and we certainly want to be in a position to keep some or all of those pitchers. I don’t mean to say we’re not going to keep them all. I’d love to keep them all. We just have to make sure we’re providing for that as we go forward.”

“Is it realistic? I think it could happen,” Alderson said. “It’s a lot of money and you might have to look at other aspects of your roster. And that’s, of course, where the farm system comes into play as well. I don’t want to foreclose any possibility.” (ESPN NY)

Do our ears deceive us? After all, he’s talking about that same rotation we recently calculated would cost about $500 million or more to keep them all in Flushing when the time comes to pay the piper.

Now there was one final thing Sandy said yesterday that warmed my heart. It was as if he took the words right out of my mouth, or should I say straight from what I twice wrote in the past ten days.

“Sometimes we have a habit — we do in an organization, and fans as well — of thinking about the guys we have now, but thinking more about when we’re going to lose them rather than enjoying the moment. And that moment hopefully lasts two, three, four, five years.”

Take a bow, Sandy…  You’ve hit the nail on the head. Now is not the time to worry about what we’re going to do in 2020 as far as keeping the team intact. We’ve got a World Series title or two well within our grasp, and that’s what all of us should be focusing on right now. And that’s all I really care about. The times, they are a changin’.

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Mets To Wear ’86 Uniforms Throughout New Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-to-wear-86-uniforms-throughout-new-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-to-wear-86-uniforms-throughout-new-season.html/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:22:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205670 1986 mets win

In honor of the 30th anniversary of their last World Championship, the Mets will wear their 1986 uniforms multiple times throughout this season, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

The original design of those iconic 1986 uniforms were he brainchild of die-hard Met fan and acclaimed artist Joe Petruccio, who does a brilliant job of documenting each Mets season day by day in his artistic NY Mets Journal.

1986 uniOriginal sketch submitted to Mets by Joe Petruccio

For the full story on how it all came about, I urge you to check out this fantastic interview Joe did for the fine folks at Uni Watch. Here’s a small sampling.

Joe Petruccio: It’s kind of weird. When I was in high school in the 1970s, I loved the Astros’ uniforms, and I basically noticed that all the teams were changing their uniforms except the Mets. So I called the Mets and said, “Who’s in charge of uniforms?” and they said it was this guy named Jim Nagourney. So I would do drawings of new uniform designs and send them to him. I did this for a couple of years.

UW: Did he ever respond?

JP: No. But I kept sending them in anyway, until I went to college. Then, after college, I was working for Della Famina, the ad agency that had the account for lots of Mets advertising. One day I was up at Shea Stadium, and they said, “Why don’t you take a shot at doing a new uniform for us? Nothing too drastic, but see what you can come up with.” So I did a few sketches and brought them back to Shea for them to see, and they bring in this guy to take a look at them — Jim Nagourney.

I knew the Mets were planning on having the team wear these bright and colorful 1986 uniforms for the three-day celebration of that amazing World Series team, but that we’ll be seeing the players wearing them throughout the regular season is beyond awesome. I can’t wait to see Syndergaard or deGrom dealing while wearing those orange and blue racing stripes. This offseason just keeps getting better and better.

Follow Joe Petruccio on Instagram and on Twitter at @RocknRollArtist.

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Alderson: Mets Can Still Add Payroll, Will Begin Extension Talks With Young Pitchers http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/alderson-mets-can-still-add-payroll-will-begin-extension-talks-with-young-pitchers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/alderson-mets-can-still-add-payroll-will-begin-extension-talks-with-young-pitchers.html/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:54:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205664 Pittsburgh vs Mets

After the Yoenis Cespedes press conference at Citi Field on Wednesday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson fielded a couple of questions from reporters about the team, payroll and even something near and dear to all of our hearts – extension deals for some of our young pitchers.

Sandy Alderson said it’s possible that extension talks for young pitchers like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and others can begin as soon as spring training. And he did nor rule out signing All Of Them.

Alderson added that despite the team’s payroll already at roughly $140 million, they still have the financial resources to add payroll if it becomes necessary to add more pieces during the season. “There is plenty of flexibility when we get to the trade deadline.”

However, with regards to re-signing Tyler Clippard, Sandy toned down expectations saying he expects the former Met setup man to sign a major league deal with another team. He does not expect the Mets to sign any players on a major league deal heading into Spring Training.

On the subject of who plays right field when Curtis Granderson sits against left-handed pitching, you can expect to see Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza to get some time there.

When Cespedes was asked about playing in RF, he responded that he has never played the position and has not been approached about playing there, but he will do whatever the team needs.

We’re at the dawn of a new golden era for the Mets. 2015 was only the beginning. LGM

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Yoenis Cespedes: Me and My Teammates Have Unfinished Business To Take Care Of http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/yoenis-cespedes-me-and-my-teammates-have-unfinished-business-to-take-care-of.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/yoenis-cespedes-me-and-my-teammates-have-unfinished-business-to-take-care-of.html/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 18:25:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205657 cespedes presser

Yoenis Cespedes was officially introduced to the media in a press conference held on Wednesday at Citi Field. After a brief introduction by general manager Sandy Alderson, Cespedes answered questions through interpreter Melissa Rodriguez.

“I know this team has everything it needs to continue on what we started last year. Now that it’s official, I can say I’m very happy to be putting on my Mets jersey again,” said Cespedes in his opening statement.

Cespedes told reporters he always knew he wanted to come back to New York. “The fans showed me incredible support from my very first day. I just knew that I wanted to come back. I knew the Mets were who I wanted to be with.”

What really stood out for me was when he was asked to explain why he chose the Mets when there may have been much better offers out there such as the ones Justin Upton and Jason Heyward received.

“It was very important for me to rejoin my teammates and finish what we started here with the New York Mets. We have some unfinished business that we intend to take care of this season. It was very important to me.”

“I’m really excited about the upcoming season. I’m really happy to be with the Mets and I’m really excited to be here for the next three years.”

“I want to convince all my teammates that we have it within us to finish what we started last year. That is the mission. That is the focus. We have everything in place to win it all. We are in it to win it.”

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Message From Vic Black: Thank You, New York http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/message-from-vic-black-thank-you-new-york.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/message-from-vic-black-thank-you-new-york.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 23:05:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205609 vic_black_1280_34sphmp6_e19wpifx

Thank You New York, by Vic Black

As some of you may have gathered my time with the New York Mets is at its end. I didn’t play for 10 years nor was I an All-star or contributor to last seasons amazing run BUT I’ll never forget my time playing for the greatest fans/city in baseball.

From walking the streets of Manhattan, to riding the 7 Line daily to Citi Field I was given moments I’ll remember for my lifetime. See I get why a lot of people picture New York as giant skyscrapers, crazy taxis and busy, busy people BUT what gets the bad rap are exactly what make this city the greatest: it’s the PEOPLE of New York.

They are what make it “New York”. I remember a moment during the All-star break in 2014. I had stayed in NYC for the break to just enjoy the city. I decided one night to go see a movie at the AMC Empire 25 theatre off 42nd. What’s funny is I couldn’t tell you what movie or if I had even enjoyed it but what happened next is why I get a bit teary eyed still to this day.

You see I was walking out around 11 pm or so and had come to W42nd & 8th Ave and was waiting for the light to change so I could head home. Upon crossing the street there was an older gentleman in a ball cap walking the opposite direction as we passed each other I heard him say “Nice first half Vic! We are happy you are with us. Best of luck in the second half.”

I didn’t love this because I was recognized rather because it was at its most intimate and simplistic level a perfect example of how the people of New York are. You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I’ll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I’ll cherish forever. I’m counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity it may be.

I love you New York!

Vic Black

Two Words…. Class Fu*king Act…

Here’s an interview Tommy Rothman did with Vic Black a couple of years ago for MMO.

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Look Who’s Holding Up The Rear http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/look-whos-holding-up-the-rear.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/look-whos-holding-up-the-rear.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 18:33:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205594 I couldn’t help but share this chart from MLB Trade Rumors which essentially summarizes all the activity of this current Hot Stove Season as it pertains to Guaranteed Spending, Number of Players Signed and Average Annual Value.

2015-16-FA-spending-by-team-2-1-16-table1

May I direct your attention to that team all the way at the bottom of the list… Namely the New York Yankees.

As for our Mets, they only managed to finish second with six guaranteed contracts and that placed them at ninth as far as AAV – a far cry form years past and a clear indication – much like the $140 million dollar payroll – that our financial wherewithal has taken a turn for the better.

So who’s crying now….

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Thoughts On Zack Wheeler and His Evolution http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/thoughts-on-zack-wheeler-and-his-evolution.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/thoughts-on-zack-wheeler-and-his-evolution.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 17:49:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205565 zack wheeler

In an exclusive interview with rehabbing Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post covered a variety of issues that go beyond the typical reports we’ve been getting on the former top pitching prospect in baseball.

It’s not the usual mundane “Wheeler feels great” blah, blah, blah, push the “publish” button, mission accomplished type articles, we’ve been seeing with agonizing regularity every week since October. We actually have some substance here so pay attention.

For one, Wheeler is reinventing his throwing mechanics. He has altered his arm angle following his March surgery — just like Jacob deGrom did following his Tommy John surgery back in 2010. And according to Kernan, the hope is that it leads to the same kind of success as it did for deGrom. God willing.

The benefits to this are two-fold. One, it results in more downward movement to his pitches, which could lead to an increased groundball rate – always a good thing. But secondly – and primarily – this new delivery will put less stress on his right elbow.

“I want to stay on top of the ball instead of being on the side of it,’’ Wheeler told Kernan as he demonstrated his revamped delivery. “In the past I was just throwing and saying, ‘Here it is.’ My ball moves a lot, and that’s what got me in trouble.’’

This reminds me of something Buffalo Bisons (remember them) manager Wally Backman once told me about Wheeler after working with him for a couple of months.

“This kid is something special. He’s legit. I can see why the front office went after him. He probably can pitch in the majors right now and be better than half of the pitchers up there. He’s just a thrower right now, but watch out when we learns how to pitch. Watch out when that happens.”

Those words always stuck with me and when Wheeler finally made his major league debut over a year later in Atlanta during that Super Tuesday doubleheader against the Braves, I was drooling at how easily he made quick work of them. Wow, we really have something here, I thought with giddiness.

Reading what Wheeler had to say to Kernan, it sounded to me like he is ready to take that next step from thrower to pitcher which has me pretty stoked and excited.

Mind you, it’s not like there was anything wrong with a pitcher who has posted an 18-16 record with a 3.50 ERA and 271 strikeouts in 285 innings before the age of 24 in the major leagues. There are not too many who can boast that.

But imagine Wheeler with a little less walks and a little less line drives – imagine that. Imagine how much more incredible Zack Wheeler could be.

Taking a page out of their Matt Harvey playbook – that’s the playbook all the other 29 MLB teams are now trying to plagiarize – the Mets have slowed Wheeler down and are shooting for a July comeback, which puts him on the same 15-month rehab as TDK.

When that day finally comes, I urge all of you to sit back and enjoy the show.

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MMO Mailbag: Sorry To Disappoint You http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-mailbag-sorry-to-disappoint-you.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-mailbag-sorry-to-disappoint-you.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:50:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205532 Mets Cubs

Morgan writes…

I think you were way to quick to say you were “moving on” from the Mets payroll discussion just based on a one-year deal to Yoenis Cespedes, which quite frankly they were forced to do to prevent rioting at Citi Field if he had signed with the Washington Nationals. For someone I admired for continuously holding the Wilpons’ feet to the fire over the last 6-7 years, I’ve gotta say I was disappointed to see you take such a stance. You should know better than most that you never give the Wilpons a free pass which is essentially what you did. Does okaying a one-year deal for Cespedes and raising payroll to $140 million following a year in which they had a $100 million windfall make the Mets owners any less unethical and dysfunctional than they they were in December when you defined them as such? I think you know the answer to that, Joe.

Joe D. replies…

First of all, I never said I would stop holding the Wilpons’ feet to the fire, and I certainly am not giving them a free pass or even forgiving them for how they’ve run this team after buying out Nelson Doubleday Jr.

You are making far too many assumptions based on my decision to enjoy the season rather than complain about payroll, billboards, protests and boycotts. This was all I wrote:

“I don’t know about you guys, but as for me, I’m going to tone down my rhetoric against the Wilpons moving forward. The truth is that they pledged to spend accordingly once the fans returned to Citi Field and they did exactly that.”

“The Mets are now exactly where I want them to be as an organization and are on the verge of great things, and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on in 2016. It’s time to drop that heavy, burdening sack of bricks and move on. LGM”

Look, I get your anger. I get your disdain for ownership. I get your unwillingness to forgive. I totally respect all that. But as a passionate Met fan and coming off a World Series appearance and an offseason that saw payroll rise over 50 percent – at what point are you going to ease up on the accelerator and enjoy what’s happening with our team?

At what point do you stop focusing on the owners and instead devote your time and energy to what could possibly be a golden era of Mets baseball? These are very exciting times for us.

At least for this one offseason, we spent like a big market team and more importantly we spent wisely. That’s good enough for me. So why not take some solace and encouragement from that? That’s all I’m guilty of… Wanting to watch and experience the 2016 season without any distractions.

After the season, I will reassess and see how things stand. But right now, I’m going to enjoy and relish every moment of the 2016 season – a season that promises to be fun, exciting and memorable. Sorry to disappoint you.

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Revisiting The Johan Santana Deal Eight Years Later http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/revisiting-the-johan-santana-deal-eight-years-later.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/revisiting-the-johan-santana-deal-eight-years-later.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:26:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205510 Johan Santana

On February 1, 2008, Johan Santana agreed to a six-year, $137.5 million dollar contract with the New York Mets, two days after the Minnesota Twins dealt their ace left-hander for center fielder Carlos Gomez, and pitching prospects Philip HumberDeolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey. By all accounts, it was a steal for the Mets.

The Mets had two days to seal-the-deal with Johan and as time was running out, both clubs asked for and received an MLB approved 2-hour extension. With three minutes to spare, the Mets announced the landmark deal that made Johan Santana the highest paid pitcher in baseball history.

More importantly for the Mets, after a historic and gut-wrenching collapse in 2007, the Mets were now the odds-on favorite to win the NL East with 10:1 odds they would go all the way and win the World Series.

Of course, it never happened, but that was hardly Santana’s fault, who led the National League with a 2.53 ERA in 2008 with a league leading 34 starts and 234.1 innings pitched while racking up 208 strikeouts and a 7.1 WAR. He would finish third in the Cy Young voting.

Things began to unravel for Santana after that as his body began to break down, and he would never give the Mets 30 starts or 200 innings again. However, when he was on the mound and healthy, few were better than Santana.

When all was said and done. Santana’s Mets career amounted to a 46-34 record over four years with a 3.18 ERA and 1.201 WHIP in 109 starts.

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A two-time Cy Young award winner who prided himself on making only one trip to disabled list in his eight years with the Twins, was hurt each season with the Mets, including missing all of the 2011 and  2013 seasons.

Despite all of the injuries, Santana gave the Mets everything he had when he was on the mound, and was one of the fiercest competitors ever to don the Orange and Blue.

No Met fan will ever forget the complete game, three-hit shutout he tossed against the Miami Marlins in the second to last game of the 2008 season. It was a do or die game and he answered the call on three days rest while battling a leg injury.

And of course, Santana will forever be remembered with reverence for tossing the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history. It happened at Citi Field against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 1, 2012 and when David Freese struck out to end the game, there wasn’t a dry eye in New York. It was euphoric and transcending, but it would also be Santana’s last shining moment as a Met.

So if you had to do it all over again, would you still make the trade for Johan and agree to the $137.5 million contract that sealed the deal? Of course you would. I do that trade again in a heartbeat and I never look back. I cried buckets on June 1 and I’ll never forget that night as long as I live. Worth every damn dime.

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Mets Unveil New Spring Training Jersey, Cap, Hoodie http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-unveil-new-spring-training-jersey-cap-hoodie.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-unveil-new-spring-training-jersey-cap-hoodie.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 13:00:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205469 jacob degrom

With the reporting date for pitchers and catchers only 16 days away, here’s a preview of the new jerseys, caps and pullover hoodies Mets players will be sporting when they arrive to camp at Port St. Lucie.

Jacob deGrom (above) is looking good in his official Mets Spring Training sweatshirt that features the slogan “Train To Reign” on the front.

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The new Spring Training jerseys, designed by Majestic, may look the same as last year, but there are some very cool differences. For one, the sides feature a mesh panel that will keep you cool and add better mobility.

The right sleeve also features this year’s new Spring Training Logo Patch. It looks like a typical Interstate Highway or Route sign with the state initials for Florida and Arizona to represent the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively.

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If you zoom in on Syndergaard’s jersey and take a closer look, you’ll find that all the Uniform Numbers and Letters feature an assortment of different MLB and Spring Training logos. It’s actually a pretty nice touch – even if it’s practically invisible from a distance.

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This year’s spring training caps will still feature Mr. Met on the front, but will also include a side patch of the new Interstate Highway marker, with the designation “FL” for Florida.

I’m not so thrilled with the sweatshirts and hoodies, but to borrow a phrase from Dwight Gooden, the jersey and cap are “Crazy Good.”

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Mets Could Still Bring Back Tyler Clippard http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-could-still-bring-back-tyler-clippard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-could-still-bring-back-tyler-clippard.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 02:58:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205429 tyler clippard

On Sunday, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Mets may still bring back free agent RHP Tyler Clippard, who remains one of the top relievers that is still on the market.

It’s no secret that the Mets have maintained a strong desire to re-sign Clippard. Right from the very start of the offseason, assistant GM John Ricco admitted as much and those sentiments have been espoused with regularity in the two months since.

The main stumbling block to a deal has been that Clippard is seeking a two-year deal, and the Mets do not want to go beyond a one year.

At this point I wouldn’t be shocked in a Mets and Clippard reunion even though I think the current Mets bullpen appears set and ready to dominate.

Last August, Clippard was thrilled to join the Mets and said that winning a championship is something he’d love to do in his career. Of course, the Mets ended up coming oh so close. Was that experience enough to make Clippard blink and take a one-year just to be a part of what could be something special in Flushing this season? I think it’s a strong possibility.

I understand Sandy Alderson’s reservations on giving Clippard two years. The veteran setup man has racked up nearly 500 innings since 2010 and showed some signs of fatigue in late September through the postseason including some loss in fastball velocity.

I’m no pitching analyst, but what has made Clippard so dominating as a shutdown reliever is a killer changeup that heavily relies on that speed differential to be an enormously effective out pitch.

Clippard, 31, went 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.052 WHIP in 32 relief appearances for the Mets last season with a 7.2 K/9.

The strikeout rate is worth noting because it was far less than his 9.8 career mark. He was nearly light’s out his first month with the Mets, but in September/October Clippard posted a 6.14 ERA and had an opposing OPS of .858.

The Mets acquired Clippard from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline for right-handed pitching prospect Casey Meisner. The Twins, Dodgers and Blue Jays have all expressed interest in Clippard, who earned $8.3 million last season.

I’d love Clippard on a one-year deal, but like Sandy, I’d be wary of committing to more than that. I’d love to hear your opinions.

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The Horsemen: Gooden Says Mets Young Starters Are “Crazy Good” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/the-horsemen-gooden-says-mets-young-starters-are-crazy-good.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/the-horsemen-gooden-says-mets-young-starters-are-crazy-good.html/#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 14:27:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205359 horsemen

Here is the latest Mets graphic by MMO reader and graphic designer David Dolinsky who you can follow on Twitter at @david_dolinsky.

This stunning image is entitled “The Horsemen” and features young Mets starters Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

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You may recall David shared some other great Mets graphics like this one entitled “THOR” last October. You can check out those other spectacular Mets graphics here. I love the way he depicts our young guns who are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.

Incidentally, former Mets starting pitcher Dwight Gooden, couldn’t stop raving about the Amazins’ hard-throwing rotation in an interview with Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.

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A four-time All Star and the 1985 NL Cy Young, Gooden believes the Mets are on the verge of a dynasty that will be fueled by the team’s young and dominating starting rotation.

“A staff like this comes together once in a generation,” Gooden told The Post. ”These guys are crazy good and no one wants to face them.”

Gooden said he sees a lot of himself in Thor. “I’d say Syndergaard is my favorite. I’m not saying Syndergaard is the best pitcher on that staff, but I like watching him. He has that bulldog mentality… His aggressiveness reminds me of me, although he is more vocal than I was. Throw inside, move the batter’s feet.’’

He offered some sage advice for Mets ownership and GM Sandy Alderson, ”If I were the owner of the Mets, I would try to lock these guys up now,” Gooden said. “Buy out the arbitration years and two or three years of free agency. They are that good.”

They certainly are! I can’t wait for this season to get underway already – this year is going to be epic.

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It’s World Series Or Bust For The Amazins http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/its-world-series-or-bust-for-the-amazins.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/its-world-series-or-bust-for-the-amazins.html/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:18:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205230 noah yndergaard terry collins

In an exclusive interview with Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, manager Terry Collins explained what his message to the players will be when they begin arriving to Port St. Lucie for the start of Spring Training.

“I told the players that last day, ‘You knew what it took to get here, now what are we going to do better, so we can finish it off,’ ” he said. “And that is going to be the message in spring training: ‘Yes, we all worked very hard, but guess what? We have to work this much harder. Push the envelope a little farther. Because we have to get over the hump and we have the team to do it.’ ”

Collins understands some of the things the Mets need to get better at – namely fundamentals.

“You create your own expectations. How are we going to go about doing that? I’ll tell you exactly how: We’re not changing it up much, but we’ve got to run the bases this much better, we have to strike out this much less, play a little more defense in the World Series.

Last Spring it was all about playing winning baseball and getting to the postseason, however this year the expectations are infinitely higher – World Series or bust.

“That’s going to be the goal and will be the goal starting on Day One,’’ Collins said. “I tell everybody these pitchers are good and they are now a year older, a year wiser. Go a little farther. It’s exciting. I’m excited.”

Collins told Kernan he wants the Mets to be “relentless in their approach,” like the Royals. This is exactly the aggressive approach and demeanor I was hoping for from Collins, and my hope is that the tone and message resonates in camp with all the players.

There can be no complacency and the team needs to be in attack mode from the word go – no letting up, no easing up on the throttle, just full bore eye on the prize baseball from beginning to end.

The owners and front office have put all the pieces in place this offseason to get the job done, and coupled with a rotation that is built to dominate and endure, nothing less than a World Championship will suffice in 2016… And that’s exactly what I see this team accomplishing in what’s bound to be a memorable Mets season – one for the ages. LGM

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Tejada and Flores Are On The Mend http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/tejada-and-flores-are-on-the-mend.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/tejada-and-flores-are-on-the-mend.html/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 15:01:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205204 ruben tejada waves

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, infielders Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores are on the mend and both of them have shed wearing their walking boots.

Flores, 24, is already in Port St. Lucie and has been working out at the Mike Barwis fitness and conditioning program, writes Rubin, and he is scheduled to begin hitting this week.

Expected to take on a super utility role in 2016, Flores suffered a fractured ankle after he was hit by a pitch while playing Winter Ball in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Tejada has been working out in his native Panama, but is expected to report to PSL as early as Feb. 1 according to Rubin, more than three weeks before the actual reporting date for position-players.

Tejada, 26, suffered a broken fibula in Game 2 of the NLDS when Dodgers infielder Chase Utley tackled and upended him sliding hard three feet behind second base to break up a double play.

Tejada recently agreed to a $3 million dollar contract with the Mets for this upcoming season and avoided arbitration

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Mets Officially Announce Yoenis Cespedes Deal, Conference Call Details http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-officially-announce-yoenis-cespedes-deal-conference-call-details.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mets-officially-announce-yoenis-cespedes-deal-conference-call-details.html/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2016 21:42:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205065 Yoenis-Cespedes

I wanted to update this post with a few things we learned from the Mets conference call to announce and discuss the Yoenis Cespedes deal. On the call were Jeff Wilpon, Sandy Alderson and Cespedes’ agent Brodie Van Wagenen.

  • Outfielder Darrell Ceciliani was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Yoenis Cespedes. Ceciliani, 25, batted .206 last season in 75 at-bats with the Mets.
  • Yoenis Cespedes will get a $10 million dollar signing bonus from the Mets within 30 days and then draw a $17.5 million salary for 2016.
  • Both sides were in regular contact throughout the offseason, and while Sandy Alderson didn’t believe Cespedes would be back, he started to believe it was possible midway through January.
  • Sandy maintained ed he was trying not to raise the expectations of fans that a deal would get done, saying, “You always like to under-promise and over-produce.” He also admitted that he understood “the magnitude of this issue with the media and our fans.”
  • Jeff Wilpon indicated that Cespedes was a part of the offseason plan all along. “It was the right time to get the deal done as well as part of the plan that we went into the offseason with.”
  • As for the opt-out, Van Wagenen said Cespedes doesn’t view it as a short-term deal with the Mets and he hopes that it’s a bridge to a longer term relationship.
  • Wagenen also credited Jeff Wilpon for “pushing the deal across the finish line.”
  • Everyone agreed that the offer from the Washington Nationals had nothing to do with outcome and served as no motivation to get a deal done.
  • The plan was for Cespedes and his agent to explore all markets and when that was done, they were always going to circle back to the Mets because that’s who Cespedes always said he wanted to play for.
  • “We are a destination team,” added Wilpon.

Mets Officially Announce Deal With Cespedes

The New York Mets today announced the club has signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year contract.

Cespedes, 30, established career-highs in doubles (42), home runs (35) and RBI (105), slugging (.542) and OPS (.870) last year. He was acquired by the Mets on July 31 from Detroit and hit 14 doubles, 17 home runs with 44 RBI and scored 39 runs in 57 games with New York. He drove in a career-high 23 RBI for a calendar month in August and had nine home runs and 21 RBI in September.

“Yoenis was a big contributor to our success last year,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. “Ownership’s on-going commitment allowed us to bring back the right player at the right time to put us in a position to defend our NL East crown.”

Cespedes, who became the 11th Cuban-born player to play for the Mets, was third in the majors with 83 extra-bases, was tied for sixth in doubles, ninth in RBI and led the majors with a .623 road slugging percentage in 2015.

“I loved my experience with the Mets last season,” said Cespedes. “In a short period of time, my teammates and the fans made New York feel like home, and I truly felt embraced by the entire organization. As I entered free agency, I couldn’t deny the pull to come back and finish what we had started last year. I am excited to finally announce that next season I am coming back to join the New York Mets once again.”

Cespedes hit two home runs and drove in four runs in the 2015 NLDS vs. Los Angeles and added three RBI in four games vs. the Cubs in the NLCS. Overall, he has hit .277 (26-94) with three home runs and 14 RBI in 24 career postseason games.

“It’s great to have his big bat back in the middle of the line-up,” said Manager Terry Collins. “He really lengthens the line-up and makes everyone around him better. He was a great teammate and I’m really glad he decided to come back.”

The 5-10, 210-pounder earned an American League Gold Glove last year and led the AL in outfield assists (16) in 2014. Since his debut in 2012, Cespedes has 48 outfield assists, the most in the majors.

Cespedes was an All-Star in 2014, after scoring 89 runs and hitting 36 doubles, six triples, 22 home runs and 100 RBI in 152 games between Oakland and Boston.

In 2013, Cespedes won the Home Run Derby at Citi Field as part of the All-Star festivities with 32 total home runs. He also won the Home Run Derby in 2014 and joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players in major league history to win back-to-back Home Run Derby titles.

Cespedes finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2012 with Oakland after he ranked second in runs (70), hits (142), doubles (25), home runs (23), extra-base hits (53) and multi-hit games (40) among AL rookies.

Cespedes has 367 RBI since 2012, tied for the 10th-most in the majors and his 106 home runs during that span is tied for the 14th-most.

He has hit .271 (609-2249) with 124 doubles, 21 triples, 106 home runs, 367 RBI, 334 runs scored and a .486 slugging percentage and a .805 OPS in 575 major league games over four major league seasons with the Mets, Tigers, Red Sox and Athletics.

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