Mets Merized Online » Mets Daddy http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:00:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.18 Terry Collins Names Candidates For Final Two Bullpen Spots http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/terry-collins-names-candidate-for-final-two-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/terry-collins-names-candidate-for-final-two-bullpen.html/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:00:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231250 josh edgin

In a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Terry Collins said that Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas are all locked into bullpen spots (Collins seems to be presuming a Jeurys Familia suspension) to begin the season and mentioned the following pitchers as candidates for the final two spots:

LHP Josh Smoker

2016 Stats: 3-0, 4.70 ERA, 20 G, 15.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

While Smoker is a left-handed pitcher, he has reverse splits. In total, he struggled against left-handed batters and pitching multiple innings. Despite these issues, he can make a strong case for himself with his high strikeout rate.

LHP Josh Edgin

2016 Stats: 1-0, 5.23 ERA, 16 G, 10.1 IP, 1.548 WHIP, 9.6 K/9

Edgin struggled in his return from Tommy John due in large part to his not fully regaining his velocity. Despite these struggles, and with the caveat of an extremely small sample size, Edgin pitched well to left-handed batters limiting them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.

Edgin may have the inside track to making the bullpen as he is out of options.

RHP Erik Goeddel

2016 Stats: 2-2, 4.54 ERA, 36 G, 35.2 IP, 1.318 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

Heading into the 2016 season, Goeddel had a 2.48 career ERA. The poor numbers from the 2016 season may be the result of a bone spur in his elbow that needed to be surgically removed in the offseason. With the successful surgery, it is reasonable to expect Goeddel can pitch like he had prior to 2016.

RHP Seth Lugo

2016 Stats: 5-2, 2.67 ERA, 17 G, 8 GS, 64.0 IP, 1.094 WHIP, 6.3 K/9

After struggling in the rotation in Vegas, he was moved to the bullpen where he thrived.  Before being thrust into the starting rotation late in the season, Lugo had made nine relief appearances going 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9.

He also thrived in the rotation earning his way into a three man competition for the fifth starters role. Should he lose the question is whether he’s better suited to a bullpen role or if he’s better suited being stretched out in Vegas?

RHP Robert Gsellman

2016 Stats: 4-2, 2.42 ERA, 8 G, 7 GS, 44.2 IP, 1.276 WHIP, 8.5 K/9

Like Lugo, Gsellman was thrust into the starting rotation due to injuries, and he thrived. While in the majors, Gsellman found an extra gear or two with his fastball making him even more lethal on the mound.

Now, given his young age and service time issues, it’s doubtful the Mets move him in the bullpen should he lose the fifth starter competition.  

RHP Zack Wheeler

2014 Stats: 11-11, 3.54 ERA, 32 G, 32 GS, 1.85.1 IP, 1.327 WHIP, 9.1 K/9

In the second half of the 2014 season, Wheeler seemed to realize his potential. During that stretch, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9.

He would then need Tommy John surgery on the eve of the 2015 season. He was supposed to return in 2016, but he couldn’t due to a number of setbacks. Now, no one knows what to expect from him either today or years down the road.

Certainly, whatever concerns you had were not alleviated by his having a sore elbow on the first day he started throwing this Spring.

LHP Tom Gorzelanny

2016 Stats: 1-0, 21.00 ERA, 7 G, 3.0 IP, 3.000 WHIP, 12.0 K/9.

Gorzelanny has had a rough few years, but he is still capable of getting left-handed batter out. Last year, he limited them to a .111/.273/.111 batting line in 11 PA. His career numbers are .229/.302/.356. With numbers like these, he’s got potential as a LOOGY.

Like Edgin, it appears Gorzellany may have a good shot to make the bullpen with Collins saying of him, “We will see how effective he is against lefties [b]ecause certainly having that experience down there will be a big factor if he shows us this spring he can get outs.”

For what it’s worth, Collins indicated he would not be adverse to carrying two additional left-handed relievers. This comment would appear that Collins is prepared to give Smoker, Edgin, and Gorzelanny a long look during Spring Training.

Ultimately, it appears who will join the bullpen will depend on who claims the fifth starters job and whether the Mets feel the two are better suited to joining the bullpen or being stretched out in the majors.

Collins fails to mention Jeurys Familia in the piece as we wait to hear if he will be suspended or not, and possibly for how long.

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Mets To Play Army To Conclude Spring Training http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-to-play-army-to-conclude-spring-training.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-to-play-army-to-conclude-spring-training.html/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:45:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229278 army baseball

The Mets officially announced via Twitter that they will play the Army baseball team to conclude spring training. They will play at West Point’s Doubleday Field at Johnson Stadium on Friday March 31st at 3:00pm.

Original Report – Jan 12

On March 31, the New York Mets will play the Army baseball team at West Point in an exhibition game according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Pitchers and catchers for the Mets will report on February 12 and their first Grapefruit League game will be on February 24 against the Boston Red Sox.

The game will come three days before the Mets open the 2017 regular season against the Atlanta Braves on April 3 at Citi Field.

Fun Fact: Army has it’s own Shea Stadium which is used for spring football, lacrosse and track and field.

This match-up is another example of the Mets fostering a good relationship with our nation’s military. During the season, the Mets work in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project to honor a veteran at each and every home game.

Also, at some point during each season, the Mets visit Walter Reed Hospital to honor our nation’s injured and ailing veterans. Additionally, active and retired military receive discounts at the Mets team store.

Overall, while many fans gripe about the team and its ownership, this is one area where they get things right, and the Mets should be commended for how it treats our nation’s military and veterans.

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Is Zack Wheeler’s Future In The Bullpen? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/is-zack-wheelers-future-in-the-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/is-zack-wheelers-future-in-the-bullpen.html/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 15:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231091 MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves

During Terry Collins‘ first Spring Training press conference, he overtly stated that Zack Wheeler is a starting pitcher. With the Mets publicly considering using Wheeler in the bullpen, at least to start the season, Collins’ statements reminded me of how Bobby Valentine once held a similar opinion about Jason Isringhausen.

Back in 1999, the Mets were using Isringhausen, who had a litany of injuries and surgeries at that point, increasingly out of the bullpen. It was a natural fit for him with his having only made six major league starts over a two year period. And yet, Valentine preferred using Isringhausen in the rotation. As only Valentine could so eloquently put it, putting Isringhausen in the bullpen is like “us[ing] an Indy car as a taxi in New York City.” (New York Daily News).

As we know Isringhausen would be traded later that season in an ill-fated and ill-conceived deal for Athletics closer Billy Taylor. As an Athletic, Isringhausen would work exclusively out of the bullpen. From there, he would become an All Star closer amassing 300 career saves and making two All Star teams.

Given the relative injury histories, the reluctance to put the pitchers in the bullpen, and the hope both pitchers carried with them as part of future super rotations, the Wheeler-Isringhausen comparisons are unavoidable.

To that end, it is important to note one of the supposed issues with Isringhausen in the bullpen was his control. This is certainly understandable given his career 1.520 WHIP and 4.0 BB/9 as a starter. Yet, when moved to the bullpen and allowed to focus on his two best pitches, Isringhausen dramatically cut down on the hits and walks. As a result, the things that made people believe he was a dominant starter came into focus as he became a dominant closer.

The consistently noted fear with Wheeler in the bullpen is also his control. His 3.9 BB/9 is similar to what Isringhausen’s was as a starter even if his 1.339 WHIP is considerably better. It should also be noted Wheeler struck out more batters than Isringhausen did as a starter. That is probably because Wheeler’s pure stuff is better than Isringhausen’s.

Understandably, with Isringhausen and Wheeler being different pitchers, the comparison may seem a bit contrived or imperfect. With that said, we have seen how the Kansas City Royals have recently transitioned pitchers with similar skill sets to Wheeler, and they converted them into dominant relievers.

San Diego Padres v New York Mets

Luke Hochevar was a struggling starter who gave up too many walks. He was not having success in the rotation despite a low to mid 90s fastball and a high 80s cutter. He was transitioned to the bullpen where he thrived. Before showing the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, he was dominant in 2013 going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9.

Another notable starter-to-reliever transition is new Cubs closer and former Royal Wade Davis. As a starter from 2009-2011 and again in 2013, Davis amassed 513.2 innings, pitching to a 4.57 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.33 K/9, and .272 BAA. As a reliever since 2012 with the Rays and Royals, he has pitched 263 innings with a 1.51 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.22 K/9, and .167 BAA. The difference is so stark it’s hard to believe that starter is now considered one of the best if not the best closers in the game today.

Zach Britton came up as a starter and just had one of the best seasons for a reliever ever. Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances were each starters in the minor leagues, and now are considered three more of the best relievers in the game. What we see in all these men is that pitchers with great stuff can truly succeed in the bullpen. Moreover, pitchers who have had control issues as starters can better harness their pitches by focusing on two or maybe three pitches they throw best and work out of the stretch.

Given Wheeler’s past control issues, his not having pitched in two seasons, and the emergence of both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, it might be an opportunity for the Mets to move Wheeler in the bullpen where he may truly thrive. Of course, we won’t know that unless the Mets are willing to try. At this point, given Collins’ statements, it appears the Mets are not quite at that point yet. Maybe they should be.

Thoughts From Logan Barer:

I wholeheartedly agree with MetsDaddy in this instance. I am a pitcher myself and for a long time I had four pitches: Fastball, curveball, changeup, slider. They were all mostly so-so pitches, but when I got to college, my coach George Valesente told me to pick three. I scrapped the slider and focused on my other three pitches which are now all plus-plus.

Zack Wheeler throws five pitches: Four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. It might do him good to pick three or four of those pitches and focus on them. He certainly has great stuff, and moving to the bullpen could help him develop as a pitcher, while also limiting his innings this season as he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery.

With the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, now’s the time to experiment. Aside from Wheeler, the Mets have six guys who are capable of throwing a shutout on any given day. If one of them gets hurt, Wheeler can start in a pinch, but until that is necessary, I think the Mets should explore this option. (Also, Zach Britton should have won the AL Cy Young. No question.)

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How Was Asdrubal Cabrera Defensively In 2016? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/how-was-asdrubal-cabrera-defensively-in-2016.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/how-was-asdrubal-cabrera-defensively-in-2016.html/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 13:00:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230887 asdrubal cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera had a terrific year at shortstop for the Mets in 2016 even if he did not have a good year defensively.

Now, there are many things you can point to otherwise to say he did. His .986 fielding percentage was the fourth best in the major leagues last season. Certainly, he passed the eye test as he seemingly never botched a ball hit his way. Moreover, he certainly looked much better at the position than Wilmer Flores looked in 2015.

And yet, despite him looking good out there, Baseball Info Solutions ranked him 29th among the 35 qualified shortstops they ranked defensively last season. Why?

According to Ben Jedlovec, president of Baseball Info Solutions, “Cabrera makes the plays on the balls he can get to. His issue is more the balls that he doesn’t get to.” (John Harper, New York Daily News).

For those that rely solely on the eye test to believe Cabrera was good defensively last year, Jedlovec has an explanation for that.  He states, “Sometimes the things we’re good at perceiving are only part of the picture.”

Now, Baseball Info Solutions has an advantage many fans don’t. They have the time, know-how, and ability to break down each and every play.  They factor in a number of variables including ball speed, defensive positioning, and how often a similar play has been made by other players at the position. It’s a painstaking process, with admittedly some gray areas.

Ultimately, Jedloven says, “We try to be as objective as possible. We have access to multiple (TV) angles, multiple broadcasts. We can slow it down, replay it. If it takes 10 times to get the hit location and the times exactly right, that’s what we do.”

And with that, the end result was Cabrera was a shortstop lacking in range. In fact, over the past three seasons, Cabrera has averaged a -4.9 UZR.  And yet, if you are a Mets fan who cannot shake the feeling this data is skewed because you rarely if ever saw Cabrera make a mistake out in the field, you would actually be correct.

Over the course of the season, Cabrera only made 11 misplays, not bad if viewed in a vacuum. Ultimately, this means that although Cabrera has some limited range, he does make up for it with the ability to make the sure-handed plays.

Making the sure-handed plays is one way to offset the lack of range. The others?  Well, Sandy Alderson put it best when he said, “Positioning can compensate for range. Nothing compensates for poor hands, except for maybe a really good bat!”

The good bat is one of the things that stood out for Cabrera in 2016. Once he came off the disabled list, he was perhaps the best hitter in all of baseball hitting .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI. Despite him playing with one good knee, he helped will the Mets back to the postseason.

So while Cabrera may not have been one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, he was certainly one of the best overall. Ultimately, he was exactly the shortstop the Mets needed to carry them back to the postseason.

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Nationals, White Sox Discussing David Robertson Trade http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/nationals-white-sox-discussing-david-robertson-trade.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/nationals-white-sox-discussing-david-robertson-trade.html/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 19:31:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230699 david-robertson

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals are discussing a trade to acquire closer David Robertson from the Chicago White Sox.

The Nationals inability to acquire a closer, or even a marquee free agent for that matter, has been well documented. Mark Melancon, the closer they acquired at the trade deadline last year, accepted a larger free agent deal from the San Francisco Giants this offseason. Kenley Jansen reportedly accepted less money to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Greg Holland opted to rebuild his value in hitter-friendly Denver rather than come to the Nationals.

Earlier this offseason, when the Nationals acquired Adam Eaton from the White Sox, they tried to get the White Sox to include Robertson in the deal. The White Sox balked hoping they could acquire more in exchange for Robertson if they moved him in a separate deal.

Over the past three seasons with the Yankees and White Sox, Robertson has saved 110 games. In 190 innings he has struck out 257 batters, pitching to a 3.32 ERA (118 ERA+), 2.92 FIP, 1.116 WHIP and 2.9 WAR.

There are obstacles in place for a second Nationals-White Sox deal taking place this offseason. Rosenthal’s report notes the Nationals are not willing to take on the full amount of Robertson’s remaining $25 million left on his contract ($12M in 2017, $13M in 2018).

If the Nationals are unable to acquire the 31 year-old Robertson, they will enter 2017 with the closers role unsettled. They have Joe Nathan, who the team signed to a minor league deal this offseason, and Shawn Kelley as the top candidates for the role. Even without an addition like Robertson, though, the Nationals bullpen will not be their only achilles heel in 2017.

The Nats have a very weak bench as well as a weak bullpen going into 2017. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs delves deeper into the numbers behind the lacking bench, writing, “In fact, it’s hard to find a legitimate contender with as weak a group of reserves as the Nationals. While most of the focus of late has been on their bullpen and whether they’ll acquire a new closer, the Nationals’ bench is the more glaring weakness.”

When it comes to the National League East, the Nationals seem to be the favorite. However, as their team currently stands, they have two enormous holes in their bench and bullpen. Acquiring David Robertson from the White Sox would give them an above average closer, however the rest of their bullpen is still lacking. Even if they do get him, the Mets could sneak into first place as they have no such obvious weaknesses, taking advantage of the Nationals’ lack of bullpen or bench depth.

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Niese Schedules A Workout, Could He Interest Mets On Minor League Deal? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/niese-schedules-a-workout-could-he-interest-mets-on-minor-league-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/niese-schedules-a-workout-could-he-interest-mets-on-minor-league-deal.html/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 17:28:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230697 jon niese

According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, free agent left-handed pitcher Jon Niese will be working out on Wednesday in Florida for teams who may be interested in signing him.  At this time, it is unknown which teams will be attending the workout, however he was at Tradition Field on Monday training with his former teammates in Port St. Lucie.

Niese is coming off his worst season as a professional.  In 20 starts and nine relief appearances, he was 8-7 with a 5.50 ERA and 1.587 WHIP.  Despite his struggles, the Mets re-acquired him during the season not only due to a rash of injuries to the starting pitching, but also as an opportunity to move on from Antonio Bastardo.

In what will likely prove to be his last appearance for the Mets, Niese lasted just one-third of an inning after leaving the game with a knee injury and was replaced by rookie right-hander Robert Gsellman who ended up tossing a gem. Shortly thereafter, Niese had season-ending knee surgery.

There have been no indications as to whether the Mets will be attending the workout.  Presumably, the Mets would be uninterested in re-signing Niese after having signed Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, and Tom Gorzelanny last week. But if Niese were willing to sign a minor league deal, he could provide the Mets with some depth as a reliever, especially given that he’s a lefty.

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OH NO! Adam Rubin Leaves The Mets Beat http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/oh-no-adam-rubin-leaves-the-mets-beat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/oh-no-adam-rubin-leaves-the-mets-beat.html/#comments Mon, 06 Feb 2017 22:22:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230701 Adam Rubin

In a recent tweet, Mets beat reporter for ESPN, Adam Rubin, has announced that he will be leaving the Mets beat as he is changing careers.  After having covered the Mets for the past 15 years for both the New York Daily News and ESPN, Rubin will now work in public relations.

Rubin has been widely considered not just the top Mets beat reporter, but one of the best beat reporters in the country across all sports.  Not only was he among the first to report news, but he was also always accurate in what he reported, making him one of the most trusted on the Mets beat. He was not someone who was willing to sacrifice due diligence for expedience.  He was an example of what all baseball writers should aspire to be.

While the Mets have many other talented beat writers, Rubin leaving is an obvious blow to not only Mets fans, but also to websites such as this one that could rely on his accurate reporting to produce a lot of our content.

Overall, we at MMO wish to thank Adam for the fine work he has done covering the Mets, and we wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor.

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Kyle Johnson Describes A Minor Leaguer’s Financial Hardships http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/kyle-johnson-describes-a-minor-leaguers-financial-hardships.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/kyle-johnson-describes-a-minor-leaguers-financial-hardships.html/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:46:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230349 mets - kyle johnson

$10,750.

That’s the minimum salary paid to a Triple-A baseball player.  With players playing from February until October that amounts to $1,343.75 per month.  Now, major league baseball teams will tell you they’re paying the players a more manageable $2,150.00 per month.  They say this because teams begin paying their minor leaguers once the minor league season begins in April, and they stop once the minor league season ends in August.  That means a minor leaguer is working for free during Spring Training, which is a peculiar stance considering Spring Training is mandatory.  Of course, Major League Baseball believes this is fair because they deem minor league players “seasonal apprenticeships.”

The end result is a salary is insufficient to support a person let alone a family.  Sooner or later push comes to shove, and someone is going to be forced to fight back. And as poignantly pointed out by columnist Ted Berg in an exclusive for USA Today, one such player is Mets minor leaguer Kyle Johnson.

Johnson is part of a group of four minor leaguer players suing Major League Baseball seeking a fair wage.  They are alleging Major League baseball has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying them a wage well under minimum wage.  They are seeking class action status so the efforts can be for the betterment of all minor leaguers.  Mostly, this group of players is just looking for an avenue to make ends meet.

“I truly believe we’re very grossly underpaid, and there are not many people willing to stand up and talk about it. The way it has always gone is, ‘shut up, or you’ll piss off the wrong people, and you’re not going to have this opportunity anymore.’… I’m not saying pay every guy $200 grand a year, but pay him a living wage year-round – something in the $40-60,000 a year range, where I can have a family and not have to worry every second about the bills that we have, or if I can sign my daughter up for gymnastics.”

Another person this bothered was Johnson’s attorney Garrett Broshuis.  Broshuis was once himself a minor leauger in the San Francisco Giants system.  Before ending his career to pursue his legal career, he was interested in unionizing minor leaguer players to help give them a voice.  Broshius detailed why those efforts fell short:

“The biggest challenge is that guys are very reluctant to upset the status quo.  My final year of playing, I talked to a number of guys about the possibility of unionizing. It was something we frequently talked about in the clubhouse. But guys were very reluctant to take that step, because they’re trying to reach the big leagues and they’re afraid of the repercussions.”

With unionizing being next to impossible, Broshuis, a lawyer, did the next best thing.  He filed a lawsuit to attain the rights minor league players might’ve been able to acquire if there weren’t so many logistical obstacles to organizing.  If the lawsuit is successful, each and every minor leauger could potentially see an increase in income which would cost major league teams approximately $7 million, which coincidentally was what the Mets paid Jon Niese in 2015.

For the major league teams, this is a balance sheet item.  For players like Johnson?  It is peace of mind.  In the end that’s all Johnson is looking for saying, ““If I knew that, no matter what affiliate I would be at, I had a bed, I had a place to stay where there was heat or air conditioning, depending on the season, if I knew I had a stable place where I could bring my wife and bring my kids and not have to scramble, that would be a huge burden off me.”

I encourage you to read the full article here.

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2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: #20 Chris Flexen, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-20-chris-flexen-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-20-chris-flexen-rhp.html/#comments Sat, 28 Jan 2017 14:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230160 chris flexen

#20 RHP Chris Flexen

Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 235 Level: Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets

B/T: R/R Age: 7/1/94 (22) Age Dif: -2.1

Acquired: Drafted in 2012 (14th round) from Memorial HS in Newark, CA

Last year: 17

2016 Statistics: 10-9, 3.56 ERA, 25 G, 25 GS, 134.0 IP, 1.313 WHIP, 6.4 K/9

If you look not just at the top prospects in any organization, Mets included, you see a number of guys who have all the tools to not only make it to the majors, but also excel in the majors. Unfortunately, many of these same players have one or more issues that will prevent them from realizing their full potential. In those circumstances, the hope is the prospect is in the organization which will best let them reach their full potential.

Look at Flexen, he may not only be in the right organziation, but he may be heading to the exact level he needs to be at in order to reach his potential.

Now a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, Flexen has showed he is no more than a two pitch pitcher, but those pitches have promise. Towards the end of the St. Lucie season Flexen was sitting in the mid 90s with the ability to ramp up his fastball into the high 90s. He has a promising curveball with a sharp late bite. Both pitches are difficult to hit. A player with this fastball/curveball combination catches the eye of all organizations, and it goes a long way to explain why the Mets added Flexen to the 40-man roster.

The obvious question here is if the above is true, then why did Flexen have such pedestrian stats for St. Lucie last season. The answer is his command. While Flexen has a good fastball and curveball, he has difficulty controlling it. When you have difficulty controlling your two best pitches, you are going to walk too many people, fail to generate strikeouts, and you are going to have high pitch counts. This was exactly what MMN‘s Ernest Dove saw:

My eye ball test showed numerous working off the counts by opposing batters, leading to the high pitch count by Flexen on the night even while only allowing one hit all game. For me the key for Flexen will be consistency around the strike zone with his curve going forward. Physically he looks strong and solid, and showed ability to get out of jams due to walks and utilizing his defense behind him to make the plays. Not a lot of hard contact was made off Flexen during the game I attended.

This start wasn’t an outlier for Flexen. It’s been the norm for him during his professional career, and if he doesn’t address these issues it’s eventually going to stunt his career. With that said, a pitcher with Flexen’s fastball and curveball needs to be given every opportunity to succeed.

The main thing Flexen is going to have to do is harness these pitches. Likely, both can be addressed by fixing Flexen’s delivery. At the moment, he tends to throw a bit across his body thereby causing some of his control issues. By fine tuning his stride to the plate, he could very well improve his command. Fortunately, this is an area where Binghamton Rumble Ponies pitching coach Glenn Abbott has helped Mets pitchers in the past.

The next thing Flexen needs is another pitch. While his change-up has shown some promise, it still does not have the downward movement it needs to be an effective pitch. It is possible a new grip could help, but more likely than not Flexen is going to have to develop a slider, a pitch he has dabbled with and throws infrequently. Fortunately for him, he happens to be in an organization that specializes in helping pitcher learn the slider.

Predominately because of the organization he’s in, there is legitimate reason to be bullish on Flexen’s development. With better command and a slider, he projects to be a middle of the rotation starter. If he can truly harness that slider like many in the Mets organization have and/or make his change-up an effective pitch, he could turn out to be more. It should be noted Flexen has been noted as a hard worker who is willing to learn. It’s just time for the hard work to start turning into results.

With all the positives noted, Flexen still has not developed the command you would hope, and he is still working on a third pitch. At this point in his career, he looks to be a reliever with a high upside.

2017 Outlook -

After pitching in St. Lucie for a full season, Flexen should begin the 2017 season with AA Binghamton. Where he goes from there is anyone’s guess. If the Mets pitching staff faces the same number of injuries they did in 2016, there is a clear and definable path for him to make it to the major leagues in a similar fashion that Robert Gsellman did last year. However, this is going to depend on Flexen learning to both command his pitches and develop a third pitch.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

16. Luis Carpio, INF

17. Merandy Gonzalez, RHP

18. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

19. Gregory Guerrero, SS

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Mets Internal Bullpen Options http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/mets-internal-bullpen-options.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/mets-internal-bullpen-options.html/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2017 17:09:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230070 josh smoker

With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have had in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly likely the Mets will use internal options to fortify their bullpen.

The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.

While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading internal options:

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

RHP Chase Bradford - Non-roster invitee Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. He has struggled in AAA, pitching to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9 over the last three years. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.

RHP Erik Goeddel - If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely on. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances posting a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.

seth-lugo

RHP Seth Lugo - While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In nine bullpen appearances last year, Lugo was terrific posting a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.

RHP Rafael Montero - Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the Major League level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.

RHP Ben Rowen - The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.

RHP Paul Sewald - With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.

zack wheeler

RHP Zack Wheeler - Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it could lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa - Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen which he’d never done before. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is that Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four-pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. As is with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider with Dan Warthen.

LHP Josh Edgin - Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.

Gilmartin Sean

LHP Sean Gilmartin - In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearances, pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the Major League level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.

LHP David Roseboom - It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a changeup that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.

LHP Josh Smoker - There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) He strikes out a lot of batters; (2) Left-handed batters absolutely crush him; (3) He is not effective for more than one inning. If Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got the potential to be an elite reliever. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.

PREDICTION

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Zack Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Josh Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to the pitcher who will make the roster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Seth Lugo and Josh Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls.

If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.

Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there are at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.

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2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: #17 Merandy Gonzalez, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-17-merandy-gonzalez-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-17-merandy-gonzalez-rhp.html/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:40:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230011 Photo Credit: Pat Sanchez/BrookylnBaseballBanter

Photo Credit: Pat Sanchez/BrookylnBaseballBanter

#17 RHP Merandy Gonzalez

Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 195 Level: Brooklyn

B/T: R/R Age: 10/9/95 (21) Age Dif: -1.4

Acquired: International Free Agent 2013

Last year: #67

2016 MiLB Statistics: 6-3, 2.87 ERA, 14 G, 14 GS, 69.0 IP, 1.33 WHIP, 9.3 K/9

Throughout his brief professional career, Gonzalez has been a very effective starting pitcher. Since graduating from the Dominican Summer Leagues, Gonzalez has posted a 2.72 ERA, 1.201 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. Gonzalez has three effective pitches he can throw in all parts of the zone, and he can throw them all for strikes. Moreover, when the opposition puts the ball in play, it is usually on the ground. At the lower levels of the minor leagues, this traditionally leads to a lot of success.

The main issue with Gonzalez right now is his delivery as he is telegraphing his pitches. Watching Gonzalez pitch, you see that he not only changes arm speeds, but also arm angles for each of his pitches. At the lower level of the minor leagues, you can get away with that. However, the more sophisticated batters you will see in AA and AAA will be able to sit on both his curveball and his changeup and drive them.

Another issue with Gonzalez is the inconsistency in his delivery. At times, he seemingly tries to over-throw a pitch. This is especially true with this fastball, where he’s trying to get some extra velocity on the pitch, and his curveball, where he is trying to get some extra movement. He ends up flying open, leading him to throw his fastball high and in on a right-handed batter and hanging hanging his curveball.

It should be noted these issues are not uncommon for pitchers young pitchers in the lower level of the minor leagues. If Gonzalez can fix these issues with some of the better pitching coaches in the Mets farm system, he has some real promise. When things are going right with him, his change-up, admittedly flat, has about an 8-10 MPH difference from his fastball. With better mechanics and/or a different grip, he might be able to eventually generate the sinking action that would make it a plus pitch.

As for his fastball, Gonzalez typically throws in the low to mid 90s. When he’s sound in his mechanics, he’s able to throw it for strikes. At times, Gonzalez is able to get his fastball into the upper 90s. Right now, he has a tendency to lose control of the pitch when he tries to ramp it up that high, but as he progresses, and continues to mature physically, Gonzalez can very well find himself regularly throwing in the upper 90s. If so, his projection could move him from a back-end starter to a middle of the rotation option.

Overall, the key to Gonzalez is the development of a breaking pitch. Right now, Gonzalez throws a good curveball. When he throws it properly, the pitch has good movement with a late break. As he’s gotten better with the curveball, he has generated a higher number of groundballs. Ultimately, his ability to throw the pitch effectively in the upper levels of the minors, and possibly the majors, is going to depend on his keeping the same arm slot as his fastball.

If Gonzalez is unable to secure the correct arm slot for the curveball, he is a candidate to learn the slider. Fact is, at some point in his development, the Mets are most likely going to introduce the slider to him as they have done with most of their top prospects. If Gonzalez is able to effectively throw either a curveball or a slider, he is going to be a Major League pitcher.

At the moment, Merandy Gonzalez looks like the type of pitcher that will ultimately wind up in the bullpen as a two pitch pitcher that has a high 90s fastball. However, the Mets should stick with Gonzalez in the rotation for as long as possible because he has the tools to be an effective starting pitcher.

2017 Outlook:

After having a successful season in Brooklyn last year, Gonzalez appears ticketed for the Class-A Columbia Fireflies to start the upcoming season. There, Gonzalez and pitching coach Jonathan Hurst will get to work on his arm slots and trying to not overthrow his pitches.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS 

2. Dominic Smith, 1B 

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP 

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP 

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF 

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS 

10. Tomas Nido, C 

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF 

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

16. Luis Carpio, INF

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Does Anybody Want Matt Wieters? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/does-anybody-want-matt-wieters.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/does-anybody-want-matt-wieters.html/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2017 15:30:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229943 matt-wieters

Across Major League Baseball, Pitchers and Catchers are set to report to Spring Training in three weeks.  Surprisingly, Matt Wieters, a four time All-Star and two time Gold Glove winner, has yet to find a team to report to.  Worse yet, it does not seem as if there is a strong interest for his services on the free agent market, certainly not in the National League East.

Recently, the Atlanta Braves, who were once rumored to have interest in Wieters, decided to sure up their catching situation by signing former Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki.

After losing Wilson Ramos to first injury and then free agency, the Washington Nationals obtained Derek Norris in a trade with the San Diego Padres.  With Wieters still lingering on the free agent market, it has caused some to speculate that the Nationals may become interested.  They’re not.

According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, “the Nationals have never been particularly high on Wieters internally, according to a person familiar with their thinking, and harbor concerns about his defense and his health.”  Janes later notes in her article that at this time the Nationals remain focused on improving their bullpen.

The Mets appear to agree with the Nationals impression of Wieters, and are similarly not interested.  As reported by John Harper of the New York Daily News earlier this month, someone affiliated with the Mets told him, ““We’re not spending our money on a catcher.”

Last season, Wieters played in 124 games hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  Overall, Wieters would finish with an 87 OPS+ and an 88 wRC+, which indicates Wieters was a below average hitter.  Worse yet, according to StatCorner, Wieters has ranked among the worst pitch framers in all of baseball.

Wieters struggles at and behind the plate are a good indication why there has not been much of a market for him this offseason.  It is also a good indication why the Mets would rather bet on Travis d’Arnaud rebounding in 2016 while letting Rene Rivera serve as both d’Arnaud’s backup and Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.  It should be noted both d’Arnaud and Rivera have consistently been good pitch framers.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the teams currently considering signing Wieters are the Orioles, Angels, Rockies, and the Reds.

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2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: No. 15 T.J. Rivera, INF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-15-t-j-rivera-inf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-15-t-j-rivera-inf.html/#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:45:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229911 t-j-rivera

#15 T.J. Rivera

Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 205 Level: AAA & MLB

B/T: R/R Age: 10/27/88 (28) Age Dif: 0.6 (AAA) & -1.2 (MLB)

Acquired: Signed as undrafted amateur free agent in 2011

Last year: 37

2016 MiLB Statistics: 105 G, 442 PA, 405 AB, 67 R, 143 H, 31 2B, 3B, 11 HR, 85 RBI, .353/.393/.516

2016 MLB Statistics: 33 G, 113 PA, 105 AB, 10 R, 35 H, 4 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, .333/.345/.476

Hearkening back to September, the Mets were really unresolved at the second base position. Neil Walker had season ending back surgery. Wilmer Flores suffered a season ending wrist injury in a home plate collision with A.J. Pierzynski. The once hot hitting Kelly Johnson cooled off. That left a vacancy at second base. On September 13th, Terry Collins gave Rivera his chance, and Rivera took complete advantage of the opportunity.

Before delving into the scouting of the player, the main reason Rivera took advantage of the opportunity is because Rivera is a hard working player that does just about anything he can do to become a better player. Early on in his professional career, he went out there, and he just hit. He hit enough that not only did the Mets decide to keep him around to see how he would develop, but they also asked him to learn shortstop.

In his minor league career, Rivera has played all four infield positions, and during the 2016 when Ty Kelly was called-up over him, he began learning left field. Overall, Rivera was will to put in the time and effort to do whatever it took to get to the majors. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise he took full advantage in what was really a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Superlatives aside, Rivera has real talent offensively. Rivera has a quick, compact, line drive swing. He’s an aggressive hitter that has gap-to-gap power. Basically put, Rivera is a contact hitter that does not strike out often. In his minor league career, Rivera has only struck out in 12.5% of his plate appearances. Now, a big reason why he doesn’t strike out often is he is aggressive at the plate. When he sees a pitch he likes, he is going to swing at it and look to drive it somewhere. His approach and his ability at the plate led to Rivera winning the Pacific League batting crown in 2016.

The converse of Rivera’s aggressiveness at the plate is he does not walk frequently. While he has a rather low strikeout rate, he has an unacceptably low walk rate. In his 2,648 plate appearances in the minor leagues, Rivera has only walked 151 times (5.7%). For those wondering what took so long for the Mets to call Rivera up to the major leagues, that’s your reason. In order for him to overcome this type of walk rate, he is going to either show power like Jay Bruce or have an extremely high batting average like Ichiro Suzuki.

In the other aspects of the game, Rivera does nothing outstanding, but he’s not going to hurt you. Defensively, he can handle second and third. He has just enough range for second and just enough of an arm to justify him playing either position. With his experience at short or first, he should not harm you if he is called to play there for either a couple of innings or for one game. With that said, he ideally shouldn’t be playing either position for extended stretches. Fortunately, with the Mets depth at those positions, it should never be an option.

With all things considered, the one thing we can say about Rivera is he is a major league utility player. He’s a versatile player who can play all four infield positions as well as left field. At the plate, he is going to put the ball in play. When the chips are down, he is going to come out fighting and do everything he can to help his team win. Remember, he was the player who had the fifth inning leadoff double off Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card Game.

2017 Outlook:

Due to the injury histories of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David WrightAsdrubal Cabrera, and Jose Reyes, we can all be assured that Rivera is going to see some playing time with the Mets in the 2017 season. The only question is when.

At the moment, it appears the final spot on the Opening Day bench is between him, Kelly, and Matt Reynolds. Due to Kelly’s switch hitting ability and Collins’ general fondness of him, it is likely Kelly grabs that last spot. That leaves Rivera likely being the Opening Day third baseman for the Las Vegas 51s. Once a player heads to the disabled list, or Kelly proves to be ineffective, Rivera should be the first position player called-up during the 2017 season.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

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Dominic Smith Ranked Third Best 1B Prospect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/dominic-smith-ranked-third-best-1b-prospect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/dominic-smith-ranked-third-best-1b-prospect.html/#comments Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229783 dominic smith

MLB Pipeline unveiled their rankings for the Top 10 first base prospects in baseball, and Mets prospect Dominic Smith was ranked third for the second consecutive year. He finished behind Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger and Pirates prospect Josh Bell.

Smith, 21, is coming off his best season as a professional. While being the youngest player to play a full season in the Eastern League, Smith hit .302/.367/.457 with 29 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, and 91 RBI. In the second half of the season, Smith seemed to finally find that power stroke everyone has been waiting to see with him hitting .348/.429/.525 with 13 doubles, one triple, seven homers, and 40 RBI after July 1st. If you extrapolate the numbers from that 56 game stretch, that would amount to 38 doubles, three triples, 22 homers, and 116 RBI.

Speaking to MiLB.com, Smith said, “I want to improve every year in every category, but the power was the one thing I really wanted to showcase. It really took me until this past year to get my swing in tune with my body and learn how to be a solid run producer.” In addition to his improving offense, Smith has been noted to be a plus defender at first base with great footwork and a terrific glove. His glove and improving bat were two reasons why Smith was named to Team USA in the 2016 Future’s Game.

Not noted in the piece is the fact that Smith has spent the offseason trimming down and getting into much better baseball shape. This is yet another indication of his willingness and ability to improve as a baseball player. “I started out by going to Michigan and participating in the [Mike] Barwis training method a lot of the Mets use,” Smith said. “It’s been one of my most productive offseasons as far as getting after it. I’ve hit it hard from start to finish, so I’m pretty happy with how things have gone.”

Smith should start the year in AAA, and depending on the health of the Major League team and Smith’s continued improvement, we may very well see him in Flushing during the 2017 season. He was invited to Major League Spring Training camp for the second consecutive year, and when asked about who has been most helpful, Smith said, “Curtis Granderson would talk to me all the time and so would David Wright.”

Lucas Duda showed me the ropes the last few years and I also worked out in the offseason with him. Even younger guys like Michael Conforto and Wilmer [Flores] pull me to the side and give me insight on how things are supposed to be done and how the game is supposed to be played. I appreciate them and the family environment.”

He keeps getting better and having that support system is surely aiding his development. It is entirely possible that the Mets will let Lucas Duda go via free agency after the 2017 season and Smith will be the every day starter at first base in 2018. In the meantime, though, Smith will most likely play the majority of this season in AAA Las Vegas.

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2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: No. 14 Ali Sanchez, C http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-14-ali-sanchez-c.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-14-ali-sanchez-c.html/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229759 ali sanchez

#14 C Ali Sanchez

Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 200 Level: Short Season Brooklyn Cyclones

B/T: R/R Age: 1/20/97 (20) Age Dif: -2.1

Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent for $690,000 (7/2/13)

Last year: 15

2016 MiLB Statistics: 46 G, 181 PA, 171 AB, 15 R, 37 H, 10 2B, 11 RBI, 2 SB, .216/.260/.275

When the Mets signed Sanchez as a 16-year old international free agent out of Venezuela, he was already regarded as someone who was advanced behind the plate. Sanchez was seen as not only having a accurate arm, but he was also seen as being a good pitch caller and receiver. He’s athletic with soft hands which allows him to block balls in the dirt and make the plays on balls near the plate. Essentially, Sanchez is exactly the catcher you want behind the plate.

Unfortunately, most of these skills are hard to quantify, especially at the minor league level, because the data just is not readily available. In fact, the one thing that can be proven from the data available is you don’t want to run on Sanchez as he threw out 48% of attempted base stealers this past season.

Regardless of the lack of data, Sanchez has shown that he not only has the tools to handle all the duties a catcher has behind the plate, he also has the ability to excel in each and every single one of those areas. Sanchez’s ability behind the plate is advanced for both his age and for the level he played at last season. If he keeps improving behind the plate, he is going to be a Gold Glove caliber catcher at the major league level.

The only thing holding him back from reaching the majors is his offense.

Early reports on Sanchez were that like his defensive game, he was advanced in his awareness at the plate. He has an idea what he wants to do up at the plate. Given the fact that he has been a skinny kid without much power, Sanchez focuses on making contact. As a contact hitter, Sanchez has shown a willingness to use all fields.

The main problem with assessing on how Sanchez has progressed offensively was a hand injury at the end of June. Time and again, we see how hand and wrist injuries, no matter how minor, can wreck havoc on a player’s ability to produce at the plate. That hand injury could be the reason why he saw a player who hit .303/.406/.394 in 2014 for the Dominican Summer League and .278/.339/.315 in the Gulf Coast League in 2015 hit barely over the Mendoza line in 2016.

It’s important to remember how young Sanchez is. He was a 19-year old (turns 20 today) catcher playing in the New York-Penn League, a league where many teams send some of their top drafted players and some of their top international prospects. Another important consideration is catchers tend to develop later offensively. A large part of that is due to the focus that is put on catchers in regards to calling a game and handling a pitching staff.

Sanchez has a smooth level swing at the plate. As he begins to build some muscle, he should begin hitting the ball with some authority. More balls will go for base hits, and more of his base hits will go for extra bases.

For the sake of comparison, back in 2013 Tomas Nido was a 19-year old catcher in Brooklyn. Nido would struggle mightily, worse than Sanchez, hitting .185/.218/.261. Two years later, Nido’s offensive game started to round into form with him winning the Florida State League batting title. This led to Nido being added to the 40 man roster this offseason so the Mets wouldn’t lose him in the Rule 5 Draft. That was a development you might not have expected given his struggles in Brooklyn.

The long story short is Sanchez proves the axiom that you scout the player and not the stat line. While there are some warning signs in his offensive game, he still has plenty of room to grow.

2017 Outlook

If Sanchez is following the same career path as Nido, he should be ticketed for the Columbia Fireflies in 2017. With Sanchez being fully recovered from his hand injury, look for him to put up numbers closer to what he posted in the Gulf Coast League. No matter where he winds up, he is still going to be terrific behind the plate.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

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Olney Report: Cespedes Is Baseball’s Best Left Fielder http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/olney-report-cespedes-is-baseballs-best-left-fielder.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/olney-report-cespedes-is-baseballs-best-left-fielder.html/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:30:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229723 yoenis-cespedes-spring

In Buster Olney’s latest ESPN Insider piece, he ranked the current top left fielders in baseball. In conjuction with the opinions and analysis provided by unnamed scouts and team executives, Olney concluded Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes was the best left fielder in the major leagues.

The top five left fielders in baseball was rounded out by Starling Marte (#2, Pirates), Ryan Braun (#3, Brewers), Kyle Schwarber (#4, Cubs) and Matt Kemp (#5, Braves).

Of course, Mets fans already knew that.

Since joining the Mets, Cespedes is a .282/.348/.554 hitter with 48 homers and 130 RBI. Last season, the team went 72-54 when Cespedes was in the starting lineup and 15-21 when he wasn’t.

For the most of the duration of Cespedes’ time with the Mets, he has played center field where he is ill suited. Next year, he will be returning to his home in left field. Cespedes won the American League Gold Glove for left field in 2015 despite his playing the final two months of the season in the National League. Yes, with his arm and his range, Cespedes is that good defensively in left field.

Between his offense and his defense, Cespedes is the best left fielder in all of baseball. This is why the Mets gave him a four-year $110 million contract making him the highest paid outfielder in baseball. This is part of the reason why the Mets have World Series aspirations.

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Chad Kreuter Named New St. Lucie Mets Skipper http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/chad-kreuter-named-new-st-lucie-mets-skipper.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/chad-kreuter-named-new-st-lucie-mets-skipper.html/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:20:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229743 chad kreuter

The New York Mets have announced Chad Kreuter will become the 17th manager in the history of the St. Lucie Mets. St. Lucie is the Mets High-A affiliate that plays in the Florida State League.

Kreuter said this in a team press release, ”It is an honor to be named a manager in professional baseball. The Mets are a great organization. They have shown the ability to produce great homegrown talent. It looks like it will continue that way so to be able to manage one of their young teams is really exciting.”

Kreuter takes the reigns from former St. Lucie manager Luis Rojas. Rojas had been promoted to Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies as part of the organizational managerial reshuffling that transpired once Wally Backman resigned as the manager of Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Kreuter’s previous managerial experience came with the USC Trojans. While there, Kreuter managed current Mets first baseman Lucas Duda. During Kreuter’s stint as manager of the Trojans, he compiled a 111-117 record. In 2011, after his five year stint with the Trojans, Kreuter served as the minor league field coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Joining Kreuter on the St. Lucie staff will be pitching coach Marc Valdes. This will be Valdes’ second season with St. Lucie and his eighth season in the Mets farm system as a pitching coach. His previously served as the pitching coach for Kingsport Mets (2007 – 2008), Binghamton Mets (2011), and Brooklyn Cyclones (2012 – 2013).

Former Met Val Pascucci returns for his second season as the St. Lucie hitting coach. Before St. Lucie, Pascucci served as the hitting coach for Savannah Sand Gnats.

Matt Hunter returns for his fourth consecutive season as the athletic trainer for St. Lucie and his 13th season overall in the Mets farm system.

This will be the first season for Alex Tavarez as St. Lucie’s strength and conditioning coach. Tavarez was previously the strength and conditioning coach for Kingsport (2014 – 2015) and Columbia Fireflies (2016).

St. Lucie has created a new position, mental skills coach, which will be Sabrina Gomez.

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2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: No. 13 Marcos Molina, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-13-marcos-molina-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-mets-top-30-prospects-no-13-marcos-molina-rhp.html/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229721 marcos molina

#13 Marcos Molina

Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 188 Level: High-A St. Lucie Mets (2015)

B/T: R/R Age: 3/8/95 (21) Age Dif: -2.9 (2015)

Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent for $100,000 (January 2012)

Last year: 9

2015 MiLB Statistics: 1-5, 4.57 ERA, 8 G, 7 GS, 41.1 IP, 1.452 WHIP, 7.8 K/8

2016 AFL Statistics: 0-0, 3.78 ERA, 7 G, 2 GS, 16.2 IP, 1.380 WHIP, 4.3 K/9

When the Mets signed Molina as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic, there were a few things that stood out with him. First, he had a strong work ethic and an eagerness to get out onto the field every day. Second, Molina already showed good velocity on his fastball with an intriguing changeup. Third, Molina had an ability to repeat his delivery.

Ultimately, that was the problem with Molina.

Molina’s delivery was just terrible from a mechanics standpoint. He generated next to nothing from his lower half due in large part to the extremely short stride he took. His stride was akin to the stride an infielder makes throwing the ball back to the pitcher after an out is recorded. This meant the entirety of the velocity he generated was from his arm. That was another problem. Molina short armed the ball with violent action. These mechanics were not a red flag. They were a fog horn that Molina was a pitcher likely to suffer from a major arm injury.

That injury would happen in 2015. On the one hand, it was devastating as Molina was coming off a breakout season in Brooklyn. In 2014, Molina made 12 starts going 7-3 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.842 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9. During that season, Molina was gaining velocity on his fastball, and he was improving his secondary pitches. He was getting notice everywhere by different scouting websites. Ultimately, this is not the time you want a major injury.

On the other hand, the injury did present him with an opportunity. Odd as it may sound, especially coming off a great year, it really was a matter of time before Molina was going to suffer an arm injury. His mechanics were that poor. Being shut down during like he was presented an opportunity for Molina to improve his mechanics. Unfortunately, that opportunity came because Molina tore his UCL.

Molina had undergone Tommy John surgery in October 2015. A year later, Molina was at the step in his rehabilitation process where he could once again take the mound. With Molina being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets made the decision to let him pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

During Molina’s seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League, we did see a pitcher with better mechanics. Molina had a longer stride, which in turn allowed him to get a better arm path to the plate. With that, we saw Molina’s fastball velocity range from the high 80s to the mid 90s. We also saw him throw his change-up, and a slider. It’s too early to get a read on any of these pitches as he is still theoretically in the rehabilitation process, and he is still working on his mechanics.

And yes, Molina still needs to work on his mechanics. While his stride is an improvement, it is still too short. In turn, he is still over-relying on his arm to generate the arm speed on his pitches.

At this point, we do not know what his mechanics will ultimately look like. It’s possible this was just the first step in the process. It’s also possible, this is how Molina is comfortable pitching, and he is going to revert back to the stride he had pre-surgery. Ultimately, Molina’s mechanics are going to determine exactly what he his ceiling is.

If Molina cleans up the mechanics, he has the potential to be a front line starter at the major league level. With his fastball and change-up, he is not only capable of a high number of strikeouts, but he is also able to induce a number of ground balls. He also uses a slider, a pitch the Mets organization teaches well, that could be difference between being a starter and reliever.

However, without a change in mechanics, Molina is at risk for yet another arm injury. If so, he would be better off as a reliever. It’s exactly what the Mets did with Hansel Robles, who had similar mechanics to those Molina has now.  However, it should be noted Molina’s secondary pitches are better developed at this stage in his professional career.

We will know more about what exactly Molina will be once we see him pitch this year. Fortunately for him, he is eventually going to work with Glenn Abbott in Binghamton and Frank Viola in Las Vegas. Abbott and Viola have done a good job helping the Mets pitching prospects clean up some of their mechanical issues. Hopefully, they will be able to do the same for Molina.

2017 Outlook

Coming off Tommy John surgery, the Mets standard operating procedure will be to cap his innings. This could lead to the team either easing him into the season by starting at a lower level or in an extended Spring Training for rehabilitation purposes.  It is also possible the Mets let him report on Opening Day and shut him down at some point in August.

While we do not know where Molina will start the year, he should spend a significant portion of the 2017 season in Binghamton after starting with St. Lucie.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

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Jose Bautista Close To Re-Signing With The Blue Jays http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/jose-bautista-close-to-re-signing-with-the-blue-jays.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/jose-bautista-close-to-re-signing-with-the-blue-jays.html/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:51:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229552 Jose Bautista

According to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are in serious discussions for a two-year deal that could be worth approximately $35 million. It was first reported by Jesse Sanchez on Twitter.

Bautista is one of the best free agent hitters on the market, and his signing will presumably clear the way for players like Mark Trumbo and Brandon Moss to work out deals with other teams. If this deal does in fact get done, it will also eliminate one potential landing spot for Jay Bruce.

The Bruce market has been so slow mostly because hitters like Bautista and Trumbo have yet to sign. While this deal would eliminate the Blue Jays as trading partners, other teams linked to Bruce this offseason include the Mariners, Orioles, Phillies, and the Rangers.

In 2016, the 6-time All Star hit .244/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs in 116 games.

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Why Isn’t Edgardo Alfonzo in the Mets Hall of Fame? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/why-isnt-edgardo-alfonzo-in-the-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/why-isnt-edgardo-alfonzo-in-the-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sun, 15 Jan 2017 21:25:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229106 fonzie edgardo alfonzo

Back in 2012, the New York Mets announced their 50th Anniversary Team.  Reviewing the list none of the players named should come as a surprise.  It should come as even less of a surprise that of all the players named to the team, all the retired players have also been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Well, all but one player has.

The greatest second baseman in Mets history, Edgardo Alfonzo, still has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. This despite being retired since 2006 and his big presence in the Mets organization for the past few seasons.  Put another way, this is not a player who has poor ties with the organization and that would be hard to bring back to honor him.  Looking at it from that perspective, it is shocking to say the least that Alfonzo is not in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Judging by WAR alone, Alfonzo is the best middle infielder in Mets history posting a career 29.5 WAR as a Met.  That 29.5 WAR ranks him as the seventh best Met of all time.  That puts him ahead of players like Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and Bud Harrelson, all of whom have already been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  But WAR only tells part of the story of the impact that Fonzie has had on Mets history.

In eight seasons as a New York Met, Alfonzo hit .292/.367/.445 with 120 homers and 538 RBI.  In those eight years, Alfonzo was one of the best Mets to ever put on a uniform.  It’s why he was named as the best second baseman in Mets history.  Naturally, Alfonzo ranks high in the Top 10 in many offensive categories:

  • Games (1,086) – 10th
  • PA (4,449) – 8th
  • AB (3,897) – 9th
  • Runs (614) – 5th
  • Hits (1,136) – 5th
  • Doubles (212) – 6th
  • Homers (120) – 9th
  • XBH (346) – 8th
  • RBI (538) – 7th
  • Average (.292) – tied 5th
  • OBP (.367) – 7th

The advanced numbers paint an even better picture of Alfonzo.  His WAR is fourth best for a Mets position player, second for a Mets infielder, and the best for a Mets middle-infielder.  His 2000 6.4 WAR ranks as the fifth best season by a Mets position player.  His defensive WAR is the sixth best in Mets history, third best by a Mets infielder, and best by a Mets second baseman.  He ranks fifth in runs created, eighth in adjusted batting runs, and eighth in WPA.

Alfonzo led the Mets in runs, hits, and doubles in the 1990s.  In that same decade, he also finished second in games played, at-bats, total bases, and RBI.  In the decade he was also fourth in triples, seventh in homers, eighth in stolen bases, third in walks, and third in batting average.  Arguably, he was the Mets’ best player of the decade.

edgardo alfonzo fonzie

In addition to these numbers, Alfonzo was named to an All Star team (should have been more than the one), won a Silver Slugger, and had three top 15 MVP finishes.  He finished second in Gold Glove voting in 1999 and 2001 as a second baseman.  In 1997, he finished second in Gold Glove voting as a third baseman.  Still, Alfonzo was much more than all of this.

When thinking of Alfonzo it is near impossible to choose just one moment that highlights his career.  You can start with him being part of the greatest defensive infield ever assembled.  In the 1999 Wild Card play-in game, he followed Rickey Henderson‘s leadoff home run with a home run of his own to give Al Leiter all the cushion he needed for the Mets to claim the Wild Card and head to the NLDS.

In Game One of the ’99 NLDS, he would homer off Randy Johnson in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, and then he would hit a grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard in the ninth to break the 4-4 tie.  In the clinching Game 4, he got the Mets on the board with a fourth inning homer off of Brian Anderson.

Alfonzo would come up similarly big in the 2000 NLDS.  In Game 2, with the Mets already down 1-0 in the series, and with Armando Benitez having blown the save, Alfonzo ripped a double down the left field line scoring Lenny Harris.  Lost in the shuffle of that inning was the fact that he had hit a home run in the ninth giving the Mets some much needed insurance runs.  In any event, the RBI double allowed the Mets to tie the series and eventually return to the NLCS for a second consecutive year.  In the 2000 NLCS, Alfonzo was one of a few Mets that probably should have been named the NLCS MVP.  In the five game series, Alfonzo hit an incredible .444/.565/.611 with five runs, a double, a triple, and four RBI.

Unsurprisingly, Alfonzo is the Mets all-time leader in postseason hits, games played, and go-ahead hits.  In fact, four of those hits were in the 7th inning or later.  That is the second best mark in postseason history – not Mets postseason history – all of baseball postseason history.

Speaking of hits, Alfonzo became the first ever Met to go 6-for-6 in a game.  In what ranks as the most impressive hitting display in Mets history, Alfonzo hit three home runs and a double while recording five RBI.  There have been no Mets and only one National League player that has posted a higher game score since 1999.

Somehow, some way none of this has garnered Alfonzo enough support to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  It’s wrong because Alfonzo is not just the best second baseman in Mets history, he is the best middle infielder in Mets history.  He was a pivotal member of two teams that went to the postseason, and he had huge hits on those postseasons.  He has set a number of Mets records.  Overall, there is absolutely no way you can deny that Alfonzo is one of the best players in Mets history.  Accordingly, he deserves enshrinement into the Mets Hall of Fame.

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Possible Alternative To Tommy John Surgery Emerging http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/possible-alternative-to-tommy-john-surgery-emerging.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/possible-alternative-to-tommy-john-surgery-emerging.html/#comments Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:00:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229234 sandy alderson matt harvey

Back in 2013, Mets fans were shocked and depressed when Matt Harvey missed the remainder of the regular season with a torn UCL. Initially, it seemed Harvey did not want the surgery, but eventually he agreed to go through with it. Fortunately for Harvey, after a lengthy rehabilitation process with no setbacks, he eventually returned and became an important part of a 2015 rotation that went all the way to the World Series.

While rehabilitating, he worked alongside former Mets starter Jeremy Hefner. In 2012 and 2013, Hefner had performed better than expected with the Mets, and he finally began to fill a flexible role in the organization as a spot starter. The team even tendered him a contract while he was rehabbing from his own Tommy John surgery. However, disaster struck, and Hefner would need yet another Tommy John surgery. He would miss all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Mets would non-tender him, and he eventually agreed to a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

These are just two of the countless stories we have seen with the Mets when it comes to Tommy John surgery. Not too long ago, we heard how Jacob deGrom learned how to throw the change-up from former Mets ace Johan Santana while he was rehabilitating from his own Tommy John surgery. It was a great story, and it was something that forever changed the trajectory of deGrom’s career. There have been other Mets who have had their careers altered due to the procedure.

At one point in his career, Bobby Parnell was deemed the Mets closer of the future. In 2013, he took over the role and he recorded 22 saves. In 2014, he would be named the Opening Day closer. It lasted all of one inning as Parnell was shut down with elbow pain and was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. He tried to come back in 2015, but he did not have the same velocity and his command had abandoned him. The Mets showed no interest in re-signing him and Parnell ended up signing a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. After six major league appearances that saw him post a 6.75 ERA, Parnell was released that August.

zack wheeler out

Of course, the biggest name with the Mets to have issues post-Tommy John surgery was Zack Wheeler. Right before the 2015 season was set to begin, Wheeler was diagnosed with a torn UCL. He would have the surgery, however his rehab process was fraught with various setbacks. He was initially slated to rejoin the Mets starting rotation around the 2016 All Star break. But instead after beginning a rehab assignment he threw just one inning for Class-A St. Lucie before being shut down for the season. Now, the Mets are discussing whether they should move him to the bullpen for at least the start of the season.

For some pitchers like Hefner, Parnell, and Wheeler, Tommy John Surgery hasn’t gone as smoothly as it has for so many other documented cases. But there now may be a new breakthrough in how orthopedic surgeons go about repairing a torn elbow ligament.

Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Dispatch reports that Cardinals right-hander Seth Maness has undergone a new surgical procedure called “primary repair” which is described as “a repair and buttressing of the existing ligament at the bone, and not the complete reconstruction of the ligament.”

Like Dodgers left-hander Tommy John before him, Seth Maness is now a trailblazer that may have this new surgery named after him. The physician that performed the surgery, Dr. George Paletta, spoke about the procedure saying:

“In select cases of UCL tears, with this technique, they have the real potential to not miss the next year. This is potentially a huge stride forward in three ways. First, early results show a high success rate. Second, a return to play is cut by 40 percent. That’s a huge factor. We are able to accelerate the return-to-throwing (rehab) program for the athletes. With this technique at the end of 2016 we have a pitcher who is ready to pitch in games by opening day.”

“And the third way, as a consequence of this, in the right setting, one would feel more confident moving to surgery early on.”

Believe it or not, Maness is a week away from being able to take the mound after a little more than seven months after the surgery. It is expected the free agent reliever will be ready to pitch on Opening Day. Once he takes the mound, there is going to be a lot of interest in his performance.

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas, another surgeon who performs this surgery and the managing partner at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, AL noted there is now a lot of interest in how Maness performs post-surgery:

“People are watching this and it’s an interesting thing for all of us. There is a lot that we need to learn from Seth, a lot that we need to learn from all of the guys (who have had it). We need the data. There are still so many hurdles to go over, but we’re excited to watch what is going to happen because of what is possible. We’re going to follow him very closely.”

Therein lies the rub. We had gotten to the point with Tommy John surgery where it had felt almost routine; where we looked at pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka and wondered why he just didn’t get the surgery. The “primary repair” or Seth Maness Surgery is far from that point. However, if Maness has a strong 2017 season, and a couple of more pitchers follow his path, and have similar success stories, the treatment for torn UCLs may have been revolutionized.

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