Mets Merized Online » Satish Ram Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Will Mets Face Punishment For Excessive Champagne Celebrations? Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:45:21 +0000 curtis granderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



]]> 0
Yoenis Cespedes Has Found His Way Into The NL MVP Discussion Thu, 10 Sep 2015 13:00:50 +0000 Cespedes Yoenis

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

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

yoenis Cespedes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


]]> 0
Amazin’ Again: This Was Never Supposed To Happen Wed, 09 Sep 2015 14:30:03 +0000

This was never supposed to happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

yoenis Cespedes

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

This was never supposed to happen.

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

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

Mets Odds

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

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

“The Mets are the perennial chokers.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, it happened.

The breakdown? No.

The solidification of a bonafide contender? Damn right…

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

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

familia d'Arnaud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

]]> 0
Familia’s Unique Grip Working Wonders Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:15:32 +0000 jeurys familia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mmo footer

]]> 0
Mets Minors: Mets Are Sending Three Players To The AFL Wed, 02 Sep 2015 11:55:11 +0000 afl arizona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mmo footer

]]> 0
Mets Have Inquired About Johan Santana Sun, 08 Dec 2013 19:07:57 +0000 johan santana spring

Jorge Castillo of the Star Ledger reported that the Mets, along with a few other teams, have inquired about Johan Santana. Last week, Santana’s agent Chris Leible tweeted out that Johan is throwing from 150 feet out without any pain right now. Remember, he missed the entire 2013 season and has not pitched since August of 2012.

Santana’s career stats with the Mets were pretty solid, with a 3.18 ERA over 717.0 innings pitched. He compiled a 46-34 record over that span of four years in Flushing.

I do not particularly mind the Mets going after a guy like Santana or Roy Halladay at this point to fill out the rotation. If the gamble works out, the Mets get the low-cost style player that they’re looking for anyway, and if not, they won’t have to pitch too long before being overtaken by a young arm like Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard.

The Met’s rotation currently involves Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, and Dillon Gee while Jenrry Mejia could sneak his way in as well.


]]> 1
Did The Mets Make A Mistake By Not Pursuing Michael Choice? Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:34:02 +0000 michaelchoice

Yesterday, as reported by Steve Adams on MLBTR, the Athletics acquired Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Michael Choice and Chris Bostick.

Gentry is one of the top defensive outfielders in the MLB, but struggles offensively against right-handed pitching. As Steve Adams notes, “Gentry has thrived against left-handed pitching throughout his career, compiling a solid .288/.376/.399 slash line. He’s serviceable against right-handed pitchers as well, though his OBP (.334) and slugging (.335) are significantly lower against same-handed pitching.” The A’s are planning to use Lindblom as a starter, according to Jeff Passan, and was a fly-ball pitcher as a reliever, with a 3.82 ERA in 132.0 MLB innings with three different teams. That tendency will play out better in Oakland.

Chris Bostick is not a name I was familiar with — but he was Oakland’s 20th ranked prospect, a second baseman, with some pop. He banged out 14 home runs with a .282/.354/.452 line in 2013.

The big name in this trade, however, has to be Michael Choice for me — and if he was available for so little, I’m a little surprised the Mets didn’t go after him. Choice looks like he’ll be a solid player in the MLB as a corner outfielder, as a real power threat. He has a mature approach at the plate, and although he does strike out often, he draws walks and demonstrates enough selection at the plate. Choice’s best year was in 2010, in Single-A Advanced ball, where he hit 30 home runs with a .285/.376/.542 slash line in 542 plate appearances. He also hit 28 doubles, and posted a 61:134 BB:K ratio. He was called up the Athletics to make his debut last year, and at the time, he was batting .302/.390/.445 in Triple-A Sacramento with 14 home runs.

If we were going by direct comparisons, a package from the Mets would have had to include Juan Lagares and perhaps Jacob DeGrom. However, since I’m not interested in Chris Bostick, I wonder if the Mets could have put together a similar package to acquire Choice centered around the young pitching that we have… it just gets me thinking is all.

]]> 0
Sherman: Mets Are Out On Furcal Sat, 30 Nov 2013 22:48:00 +0000 Rafael+Furcal+New+York+Mets+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+d3Es_UBF9nel

Update 7:00 PM

Well, so much for that, huh? According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, a Mets executive has told him that Furcal is no longer an option. The Mets are apparently concerned with his health. Furcal was supposed to start throwing this week.

With Jhonny Peralta signed, Stephen Drew too expensive, and now Furcal being ruled out… get used to Ruben Tejada?

Original Post

Rafael Furcal told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that the Mets are among a few teams that have shown interest in his services for next season. Furcal also lists the Red Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates, and Rockies as teams who have contacted him. He noted that the teams have shown varying degrees of interest.

He also indicated that his determining factors for choosing a landing spot would be playing for a contender and playing time overall. He explained that he would be willing to split time between second base and shortstop, but at this stage in his career, it makes sense that he would want to play for a contender. He said that at this point, he does not “play for money” so it does seem like he won’t be an expensive pick-up.

However, considering the Mets state of affairs, there might be more appealing teams for Furcal to sign on with. He is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will be re-evaluated in two weeks to see if he can increase his rehab workload.

]]> 8
MMO Rising Stars: Gabe Ynoa Is The Next Rafael Montero Thu, 28 Nov 2013 15:33:25 +0000 gabriel ynoa

We all fall in love with certain prospects, and you all know that Gabriel Ynoa is that guy for me. I haven’t spoken about him in a little while, so I figured it was time, right?

The Mets honored him as this season’s Pitcher of the Year after he won 15 games to the tune of a 2.72 ERA. Although I would never discredit Steven Matz’s excellent work, Ynoa was certainly an integral part of Savannah’s run to the playoffs and subsequent championship win. He won two games in the playoffs, and allowed just two runs over 14.2 IP.

Now, I’m aware that Ynoa isn’t exactly billed as the best pitcher in the system, but it was nice to hear DePodesta talk him up a little. Here’s what he had to say:

“We think he’s the next Rafael Montero in our organization,” DePodesta said of the 20-year-old. “You hear the term ‘projectable lefty’ often. You don’t hear the ‘projectable right-hander’ often, but that’s what Ynoa is. When he first came over from the Dominican Summer League and pitched in the Gulf Coast League in 2011, [he had a] very clean delivery, good tempo and was mainly at 87-89 mph, but had a good year because he’s a good strike thrower. He was only 17, 18 at the time.

“He goes to Brooklyn [in 2012] and the velocity is more like 88-91 mph and occasionally touched 93 mph. He had a dominant year in Brooklyn. This year it was 90-94 mph and touching 95 mph. He’s still a very young guy — we’re very excited to see the continued development because of the great delivery and athleticism. He’s a guy who has a chance to move quickly if he keeps this up.”

Now that is some high praise right there! I can reference this the next time that I have a Ynoa love-fest. First off, projectable righty is an excellent way to describe him and perhaps why I feel so confident in him. His velocity has increased since he joined the Mets as a teenager and he has demonstrated excellent command. The next Montero? You can probably bet on it. :D

]]> 0
Joe Smith Signs With Angels For Three Years Sun, 24 Nov 2013 03:08:37 +0000 joe smith

Update 11/23 at 9:45 PM

Free agent reliever Joe Smith just signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a 3-year deal worth a little more than $15 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Read my thoughts on Joe Smith from an earlier post below…

Original Post

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Indians were not expected to retain Joe Smith.

Smith, as most of you know, is an ex-Met who was traded away in the J.J. Putz deal. Smith has developed into one of the premier relievers in the American League over the last few years, with a 2.42 ERA in 197.0 innings over his last three seasons. He has also finished 45 games for the Indians and allowed just ten home runs. Right-handers have a career batting average of just .218 against him — while lefties are only faring a little better at .248.

He’s seeking a three-year deal worth about $15 MM and considering he’s just 29, he seems like a reliever that I would take a gamble on.

Here’s the added benefit to that, however — Smith is basically a constant at this point, so you have some margin of error with Jeurys Familia/Jeff Walters/Jack Leathersich/Vic Black.

In the present scenario, as much as I think they’ll all succeed, this would put the Mets in a scenario where they do not HAVE to succeed, and then one of them could be used a trade chip for a big deal down the line.

What do you all think?

]]> 0
Staying Healthy Has LHP Steven Matz Back On The Top Prospect Radar Sat, 23 Nov 2013 20:20:34 +0000 steven matz

How many times do we see solid prospects fizzle out due to injury? Experts say that it happens much more with pitchers than with any other position. Scouts try to project a pitcher’s long term health, but it always feels like a gamble with the draft regardless these days. Freak injuries, lack of conditioning, and pure bad luck can all turn a potential star into a career minor leaguer. I guess that’s I’m most happy to see Steven Matz succeed and overcome his own flirtation with injury. His is an inspiring story of a young pitcher who has missed far too much time with arm injuries, but who has come roaring back and is still throwing hard, oozing with that top of the rotation potential.

Before last year, Matz only pitched in six professional games after a Tommy John surgery in 2010. However, he was spectacular in 2013, posting a sterling 2.62 ERA in 106.1 innings pitched for Savannah this season. He struck out 122 over that span. He also made two post-season starts, where he did not allow a run in either contest. It was easy to see how excited Paul DePodesta was about Matz’s strong season:

“I think we were just so happy for Steven,” DePodesta said. “He’s put in so much work and so much time and all the rehab … and had gotten to a point where he could pitch a full season. He had a terrific year, his ERA was great and he struck out a ton of a guys. He has a plus changeup to go with his fastball.

“The thing we were happiest about was his 21 regular-season starts. Just the fact that he was able to take the ball that many times and have no injuries. He’s always had the stuff, it was just a matter of him being healthy.”

Matz jumped right back into the mix of our Top 10 Mets Prospects after his amazing comeback in 2013, and he could work his way up to being our top prospect by the end of 2014 if he turns in another season like he did last year.

Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero will be in the majors by then after they both make their MLB debuts this upcoming season, so Matz is in store for a big jump once they move on. He’s always an entertaining pitcher to watch, so I’m looking forward to seeing him dominate again.

]]> 0
Letting LaTroy Hawkins Go Shows Mets’ Faith In Vic Black Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:00:07 +0000 vic blackAs you’ve no doubt heard by now, LaTroy Hawkins signed with the Colorado Rockies for $2.25 MM earlier in the week — and according to reports, the Mets low-balled him.

While I can understand not wanting to invest in a player of his age, the fact that the Mets didn’t match $2.25 million is somewhat telling.

Of course, he has almost no opportunity to close here anymore considering Bobby Parnell should return healthy, so it makes sense that he wanted to test the market and find a better situation.

The end result of letting him go, however, is an expanded role for the young fireballer Vic Black. Sandy Alderson stated in an interview Tuesday, that Black would close if Parnell was not healthy to begin the season. That’s quite the rave by our GM.

However, this is not exactly a big surprise, considering Black has been considered to have the potential to be a dominant reliever for a while now.

The Marlon Byrd deal may end up turning out to be quite a steal for the Mets, considering they acquired a prospect who likely falls in their Top 10 (Dilson Herrera) and a shutdown reliever in Vic Black, who seemingly has a floor of being a solid middle reliever and a ceiling at the top of the food chain.

Black’s power fastball and sharp slider will find a much welcomed home in a Mets bullpen that could be their strongest area next season.

The bottom line is that the Mets do not have to worry too much about letting LaTroy Hawkins go — they’ve got options and in Black they have an extremely good one.

]]> 0
Alderson: We’re Going To Spend More Money Than In Recent Years Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:57:54 +0000 sandy alderson

Mets GM Sandy Alderson was on ESPN FM Radio for a brief interview earlier today. Here’s a little recap for you…

Alderson again said he’s looking at his “shortstop situation,” as well as all three outfield positions. Mike Lupica told Alderson that he understands it’s a marathon not a sprint — but it’s starting to feel like a Walking Tour of America. Alderson responded that it was neither of the two, but “maybe an 800.”

When asked about how the fanbase is reacting to the club’s spending and the potential of the payroll actually going down:

“No fan is probably ever going to be satisfied with what his or her team is spending on players. It’s kind of too bad that the measure of commitment, the measure of loyalty to the fan base, is measured in dollar signs. That be as it may, we’re going to spend more money this year than we’ve spent in recent years, just in terms of what we have to spend. You know, last year we only spent about $5 million on free agents (Shaun Marcum and Brandon Lyon). So this is going to be a new day. We have it to spend. We have to spend it wisely. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

In reference to the Mets emulating the Red Sox model, Alderson had this to say:

“Look, I referred to the fact that we spent $5 million on free agents last year. They spent close to $70 million just for last year. I just want to make sure we understand the ‘Red Sox model’ is not inexpensive…In some ways, they were similar to the Mets probably in the sense that they got burned by some big contracts, decided not to go that route, decided to protect their draft picks and ended up signing players with the resources they had in what you might loosely define in the mid-range, but in actuality Stephen Drew [was signed] at $9.5 million …At some point the same thing doesn’t necessarily work over the succeeding period of time and you’ve got to come up with a different concept.”

This interview bothered me, but it’s becoming par for the course with Alderson. I’m slowly growing more and more aggravated with his smug tone. His commentary on the Red Sox model basically reeked of the idea that the Mets aren’t even going to come close to doing that this offseason. And if your only benchmark is spending more than $5 MM this year on free agents… well. That really isn’t much of a big promise to fulfill, even though he’s not exactly a man with a great track record.

And before I let this go, I want to zero in on something he said specifically. “It’s kind of too bad that the measure of commitment, the measure of loyalty to the fan base, is measured in dollar signs.” Excuse me? The measure of commitment is based on creating a god damn winning product. I don’t care if the productive players acquired are being paid $2 million or $12 million, honestly. I want to see this team win again consistently. The front office seems more interested in acquiring bargain players, anyway.

I’m not saying we should just spend for the sake of it — and honestly, I don’t think anybody is anymore. But there are quality players out there (Jhonny Peralta, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz) that could actually improve the team and all we get are excuses as to why we aren’t signing them. Sorry if I sound bitter, but I get the feeling we’re in for a lot of disappointment in the next few months.

]]> 0
Mets Have Shown Interest In Hughes, But Not Entertaining Idea Of Kazmir Wed, 13 Nov 2013 18:04:26 +0000 Phil Hughes

Here are two different pieces of news from yesterday, both involving the Mets interest in the pitching market…

  • According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the Mets are not seriously considering a reunion with former first round pick Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, who is coming off a solid season with the Indians, is looking to after a multi-year deal and the Indians are unwilling to give him one. It’s likely the Mets will be hesistant as well, so I wouldn’t expect anything on that front. Kazmir went 10-9 last year with a 4.04 ERA in 158.0 innings pitched. He struck out 162 batters over that span.
  • On the flip side, the Mets have shown interest in Phil Hughes, according to Andy Martino of the Daily News. His source stated that there was “some level of interest” and not nearly as much as in Curtis Granderson. If I had to venture a guess, I would not expect anything much on that front either. It seems like the Mets are just sending out feelers in every direction, as Alderson does every offseason. Hughes isn’t exactly the most desirable free agent out there this winter as well, as even though he’s enjoyed some success in the past, he’s coming off a season where he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA. He surrendered 24 home runs in 145.2 innings pitched.

We’ll keep you updated…


]]> 0
Ricciardi On Losing Draft Pick: I Don’t Know If We’ll Be Involved With Those Types Of Guys Wed, 13 Nov 2013 14:21:23 +0000 ricciardi

Steve Adams of MLBTR had a chance to talk to J.P.Ricciardi, Sandy Alderson’s special assistant. He gave some interesting quotes, noting that the Mets were more focused in adding offensive players and that they are confident about where team stands o pitching.

“I think the one thing in our favor right now is our pitching in our organization is getting closer to being big-league ready, so that makes us say that we might have some in-house options.”

“So maybe we wouldn’t even be as inclined to go out and look at that market…we have a lot of holes in our lineup,” said Ricciardi.

Adams said that JP felt that the Mets were committed to Travis d’Arnaud at catcher, but he was less committed to Juan Lagares — although he stated that Lagares is certainly the center fielder right now.

He also went on to say that it was unlikely the Mets would surrender more than one draft pick:

“I don’t know if we’ll be that involved with those type of guys. Like I said, it has to be the right guy for us to even do one, so I can’t really sit here and tell you that we’re probably thinking about doing two.”

He also didn’t state any specific position where they were trying to improve, as Adams states here…”Asked if he had a preference toward right or left handed batters or corner outfielders versus shortstops, Ricciardi simply replied, ‘I would say ‘bats. We need to improve our offense.”

This doesn’t seem like anything shocking, although I’m personally biased towards keeping Juan Lagares in center field if you can build a solid offense around him. If players that are horrible on defense but provide offensive talent can be tolerated, the reverse could be done at a premium position for defense.

His quote about the draft picks also worried me — “…it has to be the right guy for us to even do one.” That sounds like a built-in excuse — and a lot like the words we heard coming out of the Mets last offseason.

Plus I want to prove Joe D. wrong as he’s drilled into my head that the Mets going after any of those 13 players who refused qualifying offers was the stuff of legends and fairy tales.

Buckle up, fans… it’s going to be a long ride.

]]> 0
Phillies Could Be On The Verge Of Landing Jose Bautista Wed, 13 Nov 2013 04:33:16 +0000 Jose-Bautista
Howard Eskin of FOX 29 TV is reporting that the Phillies are on the verge of acquiring Jose Bautista from the Toronto Blue Jays. The deal could include Domonic Brown.

Bautista is under contract for two more years at $14 million each, with a team option for $14 million in 2016. He mashed 28 home runs for Toronto in 2013 with a .259 average.

The Phillies are struggling to fend off the curse of old age — and although Bautista won’t turn the clock back any, he will serve as a force in a line-up that just added Marlon Byrd this morning.

I’m not sure if I’d agree with giving up Domonic Brown here, but the Phillies could be capitalizing on the hype off his 2013 season, where he batted .272/.324/.494 over 496 at-bats with 27 home runs and 83 RBI.

We’ll see how this plays out…

]]> 0
Mets Interested In Outfielder Chris Young Tue, 12 Nov 2013 19:33:23 +0000 130504124516-chris-young-dl-athletics-single-image-cut

Marc Carig tweeted out that a source tells him the Mets have shown interest in the outfielder Chris Young. Young, who turned 30 in September, hit just .200/.280/.379 with 12 homers and 10 steals in 2013 after coming over from the D-Backs in the three-team deal that sent Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Arizona and prospects to the Marlins. He had his $11 MM option declined earlier this offseason.

Young has never hit more than .257 over a full season of baseball, but he has posted three seasons of 20+ steals and four seasons of 20+ home runs. He’s totaled three 20/20 seasons overall. He does play a pretty good center field defensively, however, and has a solid arm. Considering his high strikeout total and the fact that he isn’t too patient at the plate, I’m a little surprised to hear of this news. He is, however, likely to be a bargain outfielder for a team willing to take a flier on him.

]]> 0
Cafardo: Mets Could Be In Hunt For Kemp Or Ethier Mon, 11 Nov 2013 00:56:40 +0000 matt kemp

The Dodgers were apparently open to dealing any of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier — who are each under contract with some serious money attached to them. However, Jon Heyman wrote “…a Mets person suggested that trio isn’t at the forefront of their internal talks, at least at the moment.”

However, Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe thinks otherwise and wrote on Sunday that the Mets are in search of a big-name player and could be in the hunt for Kemp or Ethier. The Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, and Blue Jays could also be interested.

The Mets have been linked to Ethier in the past as part of their pursuit of outfield help, but nothing really came from it. Kemp is owed $128 million over the next six years, Crawford $81.5 million over the next four, Ethier $69 million over the next four.

For what it’s worth, Andy Martino wrote a day or two ago that there was no chance that the Mets would move Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard for Ethier, though Martino speculates that the team could be more open to moving right-handed pitching prospect Rafael Montero.

Of course, the Mets are to have shown their most interest in Shin-Soo Choo, so we’ll see what happens on that front. Here’s the kicker, however — according to the same Heyman piece, the Mets view Robinson Cano as the only player worth $100 MM, but they won’t be in the running for him. Many other sources, including Anthony DiComo, have expressed their belief that the Mets will not be in running for players like Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury that will command large contracts.

For the Mets to even consider one of the trio from Los Angeles, the Dodgers would have to pay a solid chunk of any of those contracts. I’d probably stray away from both Ethier and Crawford for different reasons, and although I’d pursue Matt Kemp, I doubt his contract is one that ownership is willing to take on.

Not much to see here, unfortunately.

]]> 0
Underrated RHP Logan Verrett Could Pitch His Way To Mets In 2014 Mon, 04 Nov 2013 14:41:42 +0000

Logan Verrett was tabbed as having the “Best Slider” in the Mets system by Baseball America last week in their annual “Best Tools” feature.

The 23-year old righty finished the 2013 season with a 4.25 ERA in 146.0 innings. He won 12 games and struck out 132 batters over that span and held opposing hitters to .249 batting average against him.

Verrett’s best month was in April when he led all Mets pitchers with a 4-0 record and a 2.48 ERA over 32.0 innings. Opposing players hit just .196 against him that month and he was absolutely dominant.

I find myself naturally appreciating guys like Verrett — who aren’t naturally gifted with a 98 MPH fastball, but still find ways to succeed. That’s the kind of stuff that makes pitching an art form — and ever so attractive to someone like me. Verrett’s repertoire consists of his fastballs (both a two-seam and four-seamer), a slider, curve and change-up. His command is solid, and he can throw any of his pitches for strikes in any count.

In an interview with our own XtreemIcon, Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez said this about Verrett:

“He’s aggressive with all his pitches. He’s not afraid of contact and as a starting pitcher, when you do that, you find yourself pitching deep into ballgames. He’s been able to pitch deep into games just because he goes after hitters. That’s what he does best. He goes after hitters and he puts it in play early.”

Teammate Jack Leathersich sees the same thing, and from a pitcher’s perspective, adds that Verrett’s deceptiveness also plays a part in his success. “He’s not a 95 [mph] guy, but his fastball jumps out of his hand. I feel like as a hitter, it would look harder than what it actually comes in at. His slider is very, very sharp and looks exactly like his fastball coming out of his hand. That’s kind of his bread and butter.

“He’s really polished,” continues Leathersich, “and that’s how he was in college in the Cape league when I saw him there. He’s pitching really well and giving us a chance to win every time he goes out there.”

With such a plethora of pitchers in our organization that all have the potential to succeed, we sometimes overlook arms like Verrett. I was glad to see him noted as having the best slider — he deserves it. He’ll take his talents to Triple-A Las Vegas next year and perhaps even see some time with the Mets out of the pen late in the year.

(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

]]> 0
Rangers Will Tender Qualifying Offer To Nelson Cruz Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:48:40 +0000 nelson-cruz-texas-rangersEvan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the Rangers have decided to tender a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz, which he is expected to turn down in favor of a multi-year deal.

“It’s a relatively easy decision,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’d be happy to have him back on a one-year deal. And we’re not prohibited from continuing to talk to him while he sees what the market is. If he signs elsewhere, we get a draft pick that helps us as well.”

Cruz posted a .266/.327/.506 line with 27 homers in 456 PA this year and is currently 33 years old. It will be difficult for him to find a multi-year deal because of his recent steroid troubles — and if he does reject the qualifying offer as expected, he may find out the market is not as prosperous as he believes. Considering that the Mets have a protected pick and have no issue signing players that are trying to rebound off PED histories, he could be a potential target if the upper management feels like taking a chance on him.

I’m actually okay with Nelson Cruz on something like a two-year deal — but I think he will likely be a little too pricey for us even after everything. I personally think his best move would be to accept the qualifying offer, but I’m going off what MLBTR noted. That being said, all signs pointed to Tim Lincecum being a free agent, so we’ll see what unfolds with Cruz.

]]> 0