Mets Merized Online » Willywater88 http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Philosophy Of Flexibility Part II – Infield Evaluation http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/philosophy-of-flexibility-part-ii-infield-evaluation.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/philosophy-of-flexibility-part-ii-infield-evaluation.html/#comments Sun, 29 Nov 2015 14:07:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201099 wilmer flores

In part one of the Philosophy of Flexibility I outlined the different types of flexibility that are used to construct a baseball team. These areas were positional, lineup, pitching and financial flexibility. Applying this lens to the Mets current roster, the biggest area of concern from this perspective is the construction of the infield.

Infield Evaluation

Assuming Lucas Duda is not traded, he will be our first baseman in 2016 with Michael Cuddyer possibly seeing a handful of starts there as well. Though many have their gripes on Duda’s streakiness and Cuddyer’s disappointments, this duo should still rank in the top half of performance in the majors so let’s leave this position alone for now.

Instead, I’d like to turn our focus to the other three positions which are currently being slotted by Dilson Herrera, Wilmer Flores and David Wright, each who provide immense value based on their past history or future potential but at the same time are major question marks.

All three players require adequate playing time so that we can know if they can perform, but at the same time, we also want to have a legitimate option to fill in for any of the three if one of them falters (a very likely scenario). Our goal here is to find a player who we can either start at shortstop (start 100-140 games) which allows Flores to be your super utility player or one who can serve as that super utility player himself.

So what we want to look for is a player who complements the trio of Wright, Flores and Herrera and we start by identifying a few areas we can improve. The first such area that stands out is that all three have much better numbers against LHP than RHP.

The second area of concern is that Flores is not yet an established defender at SS. Defensive metrics rate him as average defensively and he played very well in the playoffs but I believe he needs to continue that play for a longer stretch before we peg him as an adequate shortstop.

Finally, a third area of improvement is adding some speed and a stolen base threat to the lineup, a skill-set that we sorely lack on our roster.

Infield Candidates

With these three areas identified, the ideal candidate would have these qualities in order of importance:

  1. Must hit well against RHP.
  2. Plays average to above average defense at SS and capable of playing 2B/3B.
  3. Has above average speed and is capable of leading off.

Now that we know that type of player we are looking for, it’s easy to identify some candidates. Two players who fit this mold are Brock Holt and Marwin Gonzalez but because neither is likely available in a trade, I will not include them in the following list. Two other candidates that would qualify, Brad Miller and Jed Lowrie have already been acquired. Those who are left and should be realistically available are the following:

  • Ben Zobrist, FA – An established hitter who’s strongest skill set may be his flexibility. I am a little concerned on whether he can have the range and quickness to play SS in the next few seasons at ages 35-38 if he gets that four-year deal he’s looking for.
  • Daniel Murphy, FA – He doesn’t play SS but he does play 1B. He is also the best hitter out of this group and by far the best hitter against RHP. If you start him 10 games at 1B, 70 games at 2B and 60 games at 3B, that leaves plenty of playing time for Herrera and Wright to show what they are capable of.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera, FA – Is he average or below average defensively? Eye test and sabermetrics seem to be inconclusive for Cabrera in this regard. He wouldn’t make much sense if he cannot play SS since his bat is not that valuable.
  • Jose Ramirez, CLE – Just 22 years old, Ramirez is a switch hitting SS capable of leading off and plays solid defense. He lost his job to top prospect Francisco Lindor after struggling to start the season. I believe this would be a great time to buy low on a player who still has the potential to be an everyday SS.
  • Jose Reyes, COL – He has near identical splits against RHP and LHP and gives you the much needed backup option as a leadoff hitter should Curtis Granderson get hurt. Everything indicates that Colorado would be very willing to move him so he should be dirt cheap in a trade. However, he recently caught a domestic violence charge and that could be an issue, plus he’s owed $44 million over the next two seasons.
  • Jurickson Profar, TEX – Former #1 ranked prospect in all of baseball who is coming off shoulder surgery (throwing shoulder). There are concerns about whether he can still be productive at the plate or at SS and the Rangers are probably better off holding onto him as a lotto ticket than selling low on him. Scouts were impressed with him during the just completed AFL season.

Final Analysis

Once again, the primary goal is to find a player who can play multiple positions which enable the trio of Herrera, Flores and Wright to all have adequate playing time. This will also serve as insurance should a player get injured or perform poorly. The secondary goal is to find a player who can complement them so that Terry Collins can maximize their values in pitching and defensive matchups.

No one knows for sure how much these guys are asking for in free agency or how much GMs are asking for in a trade so the only correct answer on who should be signed or acquired should depend on their price in money or their price in assets we must give up. With that said, if I had to venture a guess on their asking prices, I believe the best value and flexibility will be with one of Daniel Murphy or Jose Ramirez.

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Featured Post: The Philosophy Of Flexibility (Part I) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/featured-post-the-philosophy-of-flexibility-part-i.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/featured-post-the-philosophy-of-flexibility-part-i.html/#comments Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:52:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199799 mets win

Some teams build around pitching, some around contact hitting and others around youth and player control. Allow me to introduce another philosophy into the construction of a baseball team and this is the philosophy of flexibility, one that Sandy Alderson appears to partially be utilizing.

The philosophy of flexibility stems from what I believe is the most predictable aspect of a baseball season and that is that some players will get injured, some players will perform below expectations and others will perform above expectations.

Injuries and poor performance lead to holes in the field as well as in the lineup. An injury may force you to play a replacement level player for an extended period of time and poor performance may lead a manager to keep sending out a former star in the hopes that he regains his previous productivity.

Here are the four components that make up the flexibility of a team.

Positional Flexibility

The most obvious piece of flexibility is finding players who can play multiple positions in case a starter goes down. This not only includes bench players stepping up and filling various roles but also starters shifting around as needed by the team. Currently, this is the most valued and acknowledged component of flexibility in the majors as we are seeing utility players such as Ben Zobrist, Brock Holt and Marwin Gonzalez play some significant roles for their teams. This factor is a major reason in favor of signing a Zobrist or as well as possibly targeting Holt or Gonzalez or even Jed Lowrie as trade candidates.

Lineup Flexibility

The best way to evaluate lineup flexibility is to look at who your insurance plans are for the top 5-6 guys in your expected opening day lineup. The Kansas City Royals are a great example of a team with lineup flexibility not only because they all share an offensive philosophy focused on contact, getting on base and speed, but because their lineup can sustain losses over the course of a season. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain can both lead off while Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales can bat anywhere in the middle of that lineup.

Here is the Mets projected lineup as the current roster stands:

1. Curtis Granderson

2. Dilson Herrera

3. David Wright

4. Lucas Duda

5. Travis d’Arnaud

6. Michael Conforto

7. Wilmer Flores

8. Juan Lagares

This is not a strong lineup to start with, but there is decent flexibility in the order. If Herrera or Wright goes down, you can shift d’Arnaud and Flores up. If Duda misses time, you can shift Conforto up. But there is a glaring lack of insurance if Granderson goes down. Who do you use to leadoff? Lagares? Herrera? Darrell Ceciliani?

Thankfully, there are a few names being tossed around such as Dexter Fowler and Denard Span that would serve as leadoff options. I would also like to submit the Rangers Leonys Martin as a trade target to monitor. Like Lagares, he is an excellent defender but hits poorly against same-sided pitching. A left-handed hitter, his career line against RHP is .263/.317/.386. Look for him to rebound with another team after an injury plagued season and losing his job to Delino DeShields Jr.

Pitching Flexibility (Depth)

This portion of the team differs a little from the lineup as an injury to a starter who plays the field can be supplemented by two or three players. For example, if Conforto gets hurt, we are likely to see Nieuwenhuis, Cuddyer and perhaps Ceciliani fill in here and there – as our current roster stands.

Pitching flexibility matters when you need a pitcher to transition between starting and relieving and having players that you can option back and forth between the big leagues and minors without losing them to waivers. Otherwise, the existing term to describe a team’s ability to replace pitchers would simply be “depth”.

Our rotation is as good as it gets and we will only get stronger as Zack Wheeler returns. Our bullpen is also filled with great insurance options as well.

Logan Verrett

Sean Gilmartin

Erik Goeddel

Hansel Robles

Addison Reed (If Mets offer arbitration)

Darren O’Day or Tyler Clippard (Potential free agent signings?)

Jeurys Familia

Verrett provides great flexibility as a spot starter and long reliever and we can add Colon or Niese to the same role once Wheeler returns in the summer. Furthermore, Rafael Montero, Akeel Morris, Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin (summer return) and Dario Alvarez can all potentially contribute at a significant level at some point in the season.

However, I do have concerns with the back of the bullpen. We were blessed to have a horse in Jeurys Familia closing games for us the whole season but baseball is a cruel sport and injuries do happen. In that case, who replaces him? I like Darren O’Day as an addition to our bullpen, I believe it is crucial for us to obtain a potential closer as our 8th inning man.

My personal preference would be to non-tender Reed, sign O’Day and if possible, trade for Tampa’s Jake McGee who is a hard throwing lefty reliever that can be just as good as Familia. The only reason he is possibly available is because Tampa may not want to pay his expected arbitration salary of $5 million to setup for Brad Boxberger.

Financial Flexibility

Finally, perhaps the most important factor the equation of flexibility is the ability to maintain financial options. This means, avoiding large average annual value contracts to your primary players and long term commitments to your secondary players.

The St. Louis Cardinals are an excellent example of a team that has tactfully balanced spending when appropriate with financial flexibility. In the past 10 seasons, they have consistently ranked between 9th and 13th in total payroll.

2015: $121M

2014: $111M

2013: $115M

2012: $110M

2011: $105M

2010: $94M

2009: $89M

2008: $100M

2007: $90M

2006: $89M

They handed out extensions to Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina yet did not handicap themselves by splurging on top tier free agents. Most importantly, they made the difficult decision to walk away from Albert Pujols when he demanded over $200 million. The result is 7 division titles, 3 second place finishes, 4 World Series appearances and 2 championships in 12 years.   

In stark contrast, we have the Phillies who had a nice run at the top but is now suffering the consequences of trading away their farm and handing out too many large contracts. The Blue Jays are a team that also went all in and seems to be a few years away from where the Phillies are now and the Padres are already stuck in between competing and rebuilding after a single season of “going for it”.

Fans care about next year, they care about now. But it is the GM’s job to look beyond the present. The Mets are a big market team but that doesn’t mean we should max out on our capabilities each year. There is no rule that says you must spend your whole paycheck when you get it and it makes more sense for us to invest what we need and keep an eye out for a future rainy day.

The Cardinals lost top prospect Oscar Taveras to a tragic car accident last year and Jason Heyward was acquired to make up for that loss. Now Lance Lynn goes down with Tommy John surgery. This may be the Cardinals rainy day that they actually make an exception and sign Heyward to a long term deal but that wouldn’t be possible if they had tried to fill every hole with a premium free agent signing in the past.

Spend what you need to but do not spend just because you are “supposed to” as a big market ballclub.

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Featured Article: Player Performance Before and After Free Agency http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/featured-article-player-performance-before-and-after-free-agency.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/featured-article-player-performance-before-and-after-free-agency.html/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2015 00:30:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199049 zack greinke

First and foremost, I’d like to say it has been a wonderful year reading and discussing Mets baseball with all of you here at MMO. It has been an incredible season of roller-coaster emotions and we could sure use some time to unwind and be productive. However, if you can’t find the willpower to distance yourself from baseball talk, then I welcome you to join me in the following offseason analysis.

Offseason Winners From The Media’s Perspective

Every single year, the media seemingly declares the winners of the of the offseason based on acquisition of big name stars. The Angels “won” the offseason in 2011 and 2012 when they signed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Padres “won” the offseason this year by acquiring Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel. Yet, it always seemed to me that many of the big name players who are signed or traded for end up performing quite poorly for their new club.

So I decided to look further into this and conducted a brief analysis of player performance before and after they sign a free agent contract since 2012. My goal was to come up with some data that can tell me if players do tend to regress after free agency or if it only appears so because we only hear and talk about the ones who play poorly.

The criteria for the analysis is as follows:

Compare fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement) for 3 years prior to free agency to up to 3 years after free agency. For example, Zack Greinke signed his deal after the 2012 season so I compared his 2010-2012 WAR with his 2013-2015 WAR. Max Scherzer signed after the 2014 season, so I compared his 2012-2014 WAR to his 2015 WAR.

The player must sign for a contract length minimum of 3 years with an average annual value (AAV) of $10M/year or more. For more information on WAR, you can visit the FanGraphs information page. In short, the average MLB player puts up about 2-3 WAR at his position.

The chart below outlines average WAR and total WAR which are pretty self explanatory. One additional metric I thought would be interesting to look at was how much a team expected to pay per WAR as opposed to how much they actually received. Using Melvin Upton as an example, the Atlanta Braves signed him for 5 years/$75M at $15M/year. Since his pre free agency AVG WAR per year was 3.6, his M/WAR is $15M divided by 3.6 WAR which equals $4.2M/WAR. However, in the 3 years since his signing, he has posted 0.4 AVG WAR per year so the Braves are actually paying him $37.5M per WAR.

Pre Free Agency Post Free Agency
Player FA Year AVG WAR TOT WAR M/WAR AVG WAR TOT WAR M/WAR
Zack Greinke 2012 4.5 13.5 5.4 4.6 13.8 5.3
Josh Hamilton 2012 5.6 16.8 4.4 1.1 3.3 22.4
Anibal Sanchez 2012 3.7 11.1 4.3 3.4 10.2 4.7
Melvin Upton 2012 3.6 10.8 4.2 0.4 1.2 37.5
Nick Swisher 2012 3.9 11.7 3.6 -0.2 -0.6 Negative
Edwin Jackson 2012 2.9 8.7 4.5 0.8 2.4 16.3
Michael Bourn 2012 3.8 11.4 3.2 0.7 2.1 17.1
Angel Pagan 2012 3.5 10.5 2.9 0.9 2.7 11.1
Shane Victorino 2012 4.3 12.9 3.0 2.0 6.0 6.5
Robinson Cano 2013 6.2 18.6 3.9 3.7 7.4 6.5
Jacoby Ellsbury 2013 5.4 16.2 4.0 2.5 5.0 8.7
Shin Soo Choo 2013 3.1 9.3 6.0 1.8 3.6 10.3
Hunter Pence 2013 3.8 11.4 4.7 3.2 6.3 5.6
Brian McCann 2013 2.7 8.1 6.3 2.7 5.4 6.3
Curtis Granderson 2013 3.7 11.1 4.1 3.2 6.4 4.7
Jhonny Peralta 2013 3.6 10.8 3.7 3.5 7.0 3.8
Matt Garza 2013 2.6 7.8 4.8 1.7 3.4 7.4
Ricky Nolasco 2013 2.8 8.4 4.4 0.8 1.6 15.3
Ubaldo Jimeniz 2013 2.3 6.9 5.2 1.6 3.2 7.5
Carlos Beltran 2013 3.2 9.6 4.7 0.6 1.2 25.0
Mike Napoli 2013 3.8 11.4 2.8 1.6 3.2 6.7
Scott Feldman 2013 3.4 10.2 2.9 1.3 2.6 7.7
Max Scherzer 2014 5.2 15.6 5.8 6.4 6.4 4.7
Jon Lester 2014 3.8 11.4 6.8 5.0 5.0 5.2
Pablo Sandoval 2014 2.6 7.8 7.3 -0.2 -0.2 Negative
Hanley Ramirez 2014 3.7 11.1 5.9 -1.8 -1.8 Negative
Russell Martin 2014 3.7 11.1 4.4 3.5 3.5 4.7
James Shields 2014 3.8 11.4 4.9 1.1 1.1 17.0
Victor Martinez 2014 1.7 5.1 10.0 -2.0 -2.0 Negative
Nelson Cruz 2014 2.0 6.0 7.1 4.8 4.8 3.0
Ervin Santana 2014 1.5 4.5 9.2 1.4 1.4 9.8
JJ Hardy 2014 2.9 8.7 4.7 0.0 0.0 Infinite
Chase Headley 2014 5.1 15.3 2.5 1.5 1.5 8.7
Brandon McCarthy 2014 2.1 6.3 5.7 -0.1 -0.1 Negative
David Robertson 2014 1.6 4.8 7.2 1.9 1.9 6.1
Nick Markakis 2014 1.3 3.9 8.5 1.6 1.6 6.9
Melky Cabrera 2014 3.1 9.3 4.5 -0.3 -0.3 Negative
Francisco Liriano 2014 2.2 6.6 5.9 3.6 3.6 3.6
Billy Butler 2014 0.9 2.7 11.1 -0.7 -0.7 Negative
Total 3.3 388.8 5.1 1.8 123.1 9.6

Download Full Excel File With Player Salaries & Additional Notes

What we see from this group here is that these free agents posted an average of 3.3 WAR in their 3 years prior to free agency compared to an average of 1.8 WAR after they sign a deal. Their performance is reduced by nearly 50%, which takes them as a group from being above average players to below average players. Furthermore, teams may have been expecting to pay an average of $5.1M per WAR for pre FA performance but instead paid an average of $9.6M per WAR for post FA performance.

So the results here are pretty conclusive in showing a drop in player production after a free agent signs a contract and my hunch is that if we expanded this analysis to include free agents from other years, we would find similar results. But why does this happen and what causes a free agent’s performance to drop so significantly?

Age

The most significant factor is likely to be age. Most free agents sign their contracts in their late 20s or early 30s and unless your name is RA Dickey, players simply decline in performance after age 30. They lose speed, power and are more prone to injury. This is why in comparison to players who sign extensions in their early or mid 20s and continue to perform at expectation, these older free agents usually fail to achieve similar success.

Environment

We often look at baseball players as pieces to a team but it is easy to forget that these guys are just as human as the fans who root for them. When a player changes teams, they have to move their family, buy a new house, look for new schools for their kids, etc. They also have to adjust to a completely new work environment, make new friends on the team and communicate with new coaches.

All of this can be very taxing on an athlete whose previous primary concern was getting ready for a game. Now throw in the added pressure of having to perform to justify their new contract and it could significantly affect their play on the field.

Incentive

Last but not least, once a player gets his payday, the less motivated ones may take their foot off the pedal and stop working as hard as they did before. We often see players have breakout and career years right before free agency and this change in level of motivation may contribute to subpar performances after they sign a contract.

Cespedes Yoenis

How This Impacts The Mets

The Mets have two very interesting free agents this offseason which are cases that are unlike the common ones.

Yoenis Cespedes was obtained in late July and immediately made his presence felt with an incredible hot streak that led the Mets to a 20-8 record in August and a division lead. Out of all free agents in recent years, I believe Shin Shoo Choo and Hunter Pence are the most comparable player value wise to Cespedes.

Choo put up 20.2 WAR in his 5 years (4.0 WAR/yr) leading up to free agency at age 31 while Cespedes put up 15.4 WAR (3.9 WAR/yr) in his 4 years in the big leagues who is now age 30. Furthermore, both profile as a tweener OFer, capable of playing CF but probably better off in LF. Meanwhile, Hunter Pence put up 11.4 WAR in his 3 years (3.8 WAR/yr)  leading up to free agency at age 31.

Since Choo received a 7 year/$130M deal and Pence received a 5 year/$90M extension, I would estimate that Cespedes will receive a comparable offer in that ballpark.

While many including myself originally estimated that his price will go as high as 7 years/$175M, I believe that was due to viewing his performance through a honeymoon period as he kept blasting HRs and propelled the Mets into 1st place. After evaluating his figures further, we see that Cespedes put up a career high 6.7 WAR between Detroit and New York this year, a huge spike from his 2.9 WAR from 2012-2014. Additionally, Steamer projections have him regressing back to 2.8 WAR in 2016, essentially a slightly above average major league player.

Murphy, on the other hand, put up numbers similar to his career line but had a historic postseason. Most writers had believed the Mets would not offer him a qualifying offer of $15.8M and he would end up with a contract of about 4 years/$40M. However, with his postseason performance, the Mets are almost certainly going to extend the qualifying offer now while the jump in his price will be harder to predict.

Fans may be fond of both players at the moment. However, as history has shown with free agents, they don’t tend to play up to their expectations and it is important that both the front office and the fans have a realistic outlook of what to expect from Cespedes and Murphy moving forward. Both are certainly crucial pieces to the Mets playoff team and all angles must be considered, just do so with lenses that are not fogged up by a recent sample size.

Prediction

I believe that as much as Cespedes contributed to the Mets playoff push, he will receive an offer from another team that far trumps what the Mets front office believes he is worth moving forward. I see the Mets topping out at 6 years/$120M (6th year as a vesting or team option) and Cespedes getting a 7 year/$140M deal (7th year as a vesting or team option).

With the emergence of Conforto, the resurgence of Granderson as well as the insurance of Nimmo in Triple A, I believe the Mets will feel comfortable enough in the OF to let Cespedes walk.

As for Murphy, most reports from insiders believe the Mets have no intentions of signing him to a multi year contract. Personally, I do not see much downside in re-signing him for depth and for insurance. Even in the worst case scenario that Murph regresses a little, perhaps to a .260 hitter, he can still be used as a part time player in his later years. On the flipside, if we let him walk and David Wright has a season ending injury or Dilson Herrera is hitting .240 in June, what would we do then? Which worse case scenario do you prefer?

I hope the Mets front office comes around and gives him a 5 year/$50M extension, with the 5th year as a vesting option or a team option with a buyout. While this could well end up being an overpay for Murphy, this is the type of contract that can be traded if necessary and still manageable so that it won’t cripple a team’s ability to make other moves.

The backlash of losing both Cespedes and Murphy from the fans would be tremendous so in that regard, I do believe the Mets will re-sign one of the two and my personal preference for reasons stated above would be Daniel Murphy.

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Featured Post: Potential Hitters For Mets To Target http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/featured-post-potential-hitters-for-mets-to-target.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/featured-post-potential-hitters-for-mets-to-target.html/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 17:37:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=184380 mets cap hat glove bench

In a previous article where I postulated that it was time for the Mets to trade quantity for quality, a common sentiment from readers was that we need to trade for hitting, not for pitching.

I stayed away from discussing hitting targets as acquiring one would not only involve a speculated trade scenario, it would also involve speculation on how players will be shifted or moved internally. However, since I opened up that can of worms, I have no choice but to finish what I started.

Once again, the scenarios discussed in this article are not based off rumors or insight. They should not be taken as news but rather as possible targets for the Mets to go after.

Unrealistic Trade Targets

Before I get into who we could trade for, I’d like to list out a few players who I believe are untouchable for their respective organizations.

CLE – Francisco Lindor

CHI – Addison Russell

HOU – Carlos Correa

BOS – Xander Bogaerts

The only player out of these four that has remotely a chance of being moved is Russell in my opinion. This is only because the Cubs have Baez, Castro and Bryant, three young potential stars at 2B, SS and 3B respectively. But even with that depth, there is no reason for them trade Russell unless they receive someone of Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz‘s caliber.

Mets Trading Block

Other than Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, one name that will likely be discussed in every trade scenario is Rafael Montero. This is not because I am down on him, in fact, I believe he will eventually be a mid rotation starter who gives his team a couple of ace like seasons. However, it seems the organization and fans alike hold Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as their untouchables, leaving Montero to be the odd man out.

Along with Montero, I believe one of Matt Reynolds or Gavin Cecchini should be traded to open up a path for Amed Rosario to progress in the minors. Conversely, I would not hesitate to deal Rosario for an impact player at the MLB level either.

Finally, we have a quartet of starting pitchers in the upper minors who have good potential to be mid rotation starters. I believe other organizations would have interest in at least one of Gabriel Ynoa, Rainy Lara, Luis Cessa or Michael Fulmer.

Oakland Athletics, Josh Reddick

1401839863000-josh-reddickThe first trade target is the Oakland A’s Josh Reddick. Credit goes to TRS86 for citing Reddick as a candidate. The RF former gold glover is having a great season offensively and should be conceivably available if the A’s fall out of contention by mid season. The 28 y/o Reddick has one more arbitration year remaining (estimated $7-8M) before becoming a free agent at the end of 2016.

As for what his cost will come out to, I don’t think anyone really knows. Billy Beane has been making some very erratic transactions the past few years so it will be hard to predict what he wants in return.

Colorado Rockies, Carlos Gonzalez

carlos gonzalezThe Rockies can try to hide their desperation as much as they want, it seems pretty obvious that they are heading towards a rebuild. Carlos Gonzalez is batting .251/.326/.387 with 6 HRs as I write this article. Not exactly eye popping stuff and he might even remind you of our own Curtis Granderson. But dig deeper and you will realize that Gonzalez has a 29% line drive rate (25% for his career, 20% is MLB average) and his BABIP is 50 points below his career line. This means that he should probably be batting closer to .275-.300 for the season.

I don’t think Gonzalez will ever hit 30 HRs again but I do believe he will immediately be the Mets second best bat behind Lucas Duda. At age 29, he is signed to his age 32 season so he should not experience any sharp decline these next few years. Additionally, his larger contract means that the Mets have an opportunity to give up less in a trade IF they are willing to take on most or all of his salary. Gonzalez has about 2.5 years and $45M remaining on his contract ($18M/year). My guess is that two or three non top prospects can get it done if the Mets take on the whole contract but if the Rockies eat some salary, they will surely ask for at least Nimmo, Montero or both.

Cleveland Indians, Michael Brantley/Michael Bourn/David Murphy

Tigers_Indians_Baseball__ctnews@chroniclet.com_27-MThe Indians are in last place and have a mixture of high paid veterans (Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn), medium cost contributors (Brantley, Kluber, Kipnis) and young prospects (Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer). From an outsider’s perspective, they seem to be caught somewhere between competing and rebuilding.

Brantley is 28 years old and cost controlled until 2018. I think any discussion about Brantley would start with Syndergaard and one of Lagares/Nimmo/Conforto. If there is one hitter I feel comfortable parting with Nimmo or Conforto with, it would be Brantley. He would be the grand prize but it’s highly unlikely we strike a deal as Sandy seems to love his prospects.

Since Michael Bourn arrived in Cleveland, he has been producing below expectations. He hasn’t been disastrous the way Jason Bay was for the Mets by any means but he is hitting about 20 points below his career average and is no longer the base stealing beast that he was in his Houston and Atlanta days. Bourn is still a respectable on base threat as well as a solid defender and with $14M left on his contract for 2016 as well as a vesting option for the following year, I believe a swap for Jon Niese can be considered for both sides.

The reasoning here is that Niese shores up the Cleveland rotation immediately as well as for the next few years with a bonus of returning to his home state. CLE also has the benefit of opening up CF for their 2012 1st rd pick Tyler Naquin. The Mets will finally get a lead off hitter (kind of) and add depth in the OF. They will have four OFers with varying skill sets who are all borderline starters when playing full time. Perhaps having two LHHs and two RHHs can help the Mets put together above average production from this quartet.

Finally, the Indians also have David Murphy who seems to be doing a very good impression of our Daniel Murphy as a hitter this season. He is also a free agent at the end of the season and would serve as a half year rental. A pair of non top prospects would likely be where his value falls.

Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt

Brock+Holt+Boston+Red+Sox+v+Seattle+Mariners+iUfsGNl_7HwlI saw this name come up just last week by several MMO posters and started researching Holt. He is a 27 year old super utility player that has seen time at ALL positions except catcher at the major league level. He is currently slashing .298/.392/.419 which has Red Sox fans declaring him the cheaper, younger, better version of Ben Zobrist.

However, upon further review of his ridiculously high line drive rate of 39% and BABIP of .371, combined with the fact that he was never regarded as a top prospect, I am willing to wager that he will settle in closer to be a .250-.275 hitter for the next few years. With that said, I still think he would be a great fit for the Mets given all of our injuries and our need for flexibility.

The Red Sox have been searching for an ace since the offseason and while I don’t see us sending them one of ours, I wonder if we could put together a deal involving Niese and Campbell for Justin Masterson and Brock Holt.

Masterson signed a 1 year $9.5M deal as a reclamation project for the Sox and has put up some ugly numbers. We could make this trade and move Masterson to the bullpen for a 30 day trial and DFA him if he does not work out. For the Red Sox, they move a super utility player who is at the top of his stock for a middle of the rotation pitcher and a serviceable utility player to replace Holt.

Houston Astros, Preston Tucker

User Mets Fan In Paris has been the most frequent advocate for Preston Tucker here. I started writing about a possible Preston Tucker trade but during my research found out that the Astros selected his brother Kyle Tucker 5th overall in this year’s draft. While it is not impossible for Tucker to be moved, I have to believe it will only be for someone on Noah Syndergaard’s caliber.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Andre Ethier/Carl Crawford/Scott Van Slyke

1378880273000-USP-MLB-Arizona-Diamondbacks-at-Los-Angeles-DodgehrOnce their outfield is fully healthy, the Dodgers will have a severe logjam in the grassy part of their field. Pederson and Puig are shoo-ins for the future of this organization and the other three all have merits to be starters on some team.

Ethier has had a nice bounce back season but as he is 33 years old, I think his production moving forward will be a tad below his career numbers, maybe around .275/.350/.450 with 15 HRs. Defensively, he has always had a strong arm and still moves well enough to even play CF in emergencies. He is owed $35.5M from 2016-2017 with a $2.5M buyout on a $17.5M vesting option in 2018. His value is very similar to the values of Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Bourn. Would Niese for Ethier work for both sides?

Carl Crawford is recovering from a torn oblique and could be back by July. He is an older, more expensive, more injury prone version of Michael Bourn. However, he is also a better hitter when healthy (I’d project .275/.325/.400 with 20 SBs a year moving forward). With over $50M left on his contract from now to 2017, he would be too expensive for us to even contemplate if the Dodgers do not eat his contract.

For those who don’t know, Scott Van Slyke is a personal favorite of mine. He is a big, strong hitter with surprising ability to play both CF and 1B adequately. Used primarily as a platoon hitter against LHP, he needs an opportunity to play more and I believe he would reward the team that gives him a chance. His career and minor league splits against righties and lefties are minimal which makes me believe he can hold his own as an everyday player. If the Dodgers see him as their 4th or 5th OFer, perhaps they would be willing to move him for a starter.

Wrapping It Up

The options that are available are not perfect but the primary goal is to clear a rotation spot so we can add Steven Matz to the team. If we can get solid value in return that doesn’t cost us significantly for the future, we should make the move without hesitation.

So tell us who do you want to see the Mets go after? Which scenario do you like the best? Which one do you hate the most?

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Mets Don’t View Kevin Plawecki As A Trade Chip http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mets-dont-view-kevin-plawecki-as-a-trade-chip.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/mets-dont-view-kevin-plawecki-as-a-trade-chip.html/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:45:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=182643 kevin plawecki 1

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets do not view rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki as a potential trade chip this season, preferring instead to hang onto him as insurance for regular catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

Last week, William Li made a strong case for hanging onto Plawecki, which you can read below. – Joe D.

June 2 – Why Kevin Plawecki Should Not Be Traded

With Travis d’Arnaud set to return to the big league club shortly after as he wraps up his rehab assignment, the Mets appear to be set on sending Kevin Plawecki back to Las Vegas as playing time and service time are both factors in this decision.

On the big league club, Plawecki will likely be sitting on the bench 5 out of 6 games, doing him no good. And considering that sending him down for a few months will ensure that he does not accumulate a year of service or reach super two status, Plawecki is almost certain to return to Triple-A.

Catching Depth

Looking forward to 2016, one of the biggest questions will be whether both d’Arnaud and Plawecki should be kept. If both remain with the Mets, how will playing time be divided? Before we look at playing time scenarios, I think we should anticipate what the upside and downside are to trading away one of the two.

Assuming the less established Plawecki is traded and TDA ends up on the disabled list as he did this year, the Mets take a significant hit to their production at the catcher position. Could you imagine seeing Anthony Recker penciled into our lineup for two months? This is one dreadful scenario that the Mets absolutely cannot afford.

On the flipside, if the Mets keep both, they should continue to see above average production out of their backstop, no matter who is starting.

Plawecki/D’Arnaud As A Trade Chip

Common sense will tell us that you should trade abundance at one position for dearth at another when constructing a roster. Teams who have many holes will need every trade chip they can use to fill their other needs. However, the Mets have the luxury of having a very deep farm system and one where most of the talent is in the upper minors so they have plenty of pieces to deal from without having to include Plawecki or d’Arnaud’s name.

Playing Time Distribution

Since there is not enough playing time behind the plate for both catchers, one of them will need to learn a new position or two. Plawecki has played 1B in the minors and he is the younger and slightly more athletic of the two so I propose that he spends a good part of the rest of 2015 in Vegas with a first base and/or outfield mitt.

In 2016, the Mets can distribute their playing time as follows.

Travis d’Arnaud – 110 starts at catcher, 10 starts at DH.

Lucas Duda – 140 starts at 1B

Kevin Plawecki – 50 starts at catcher, 20 starts at 1B, 10 starts in LF

At the catcher position, you see a minimal or non-existent downgrade going from D’Arnaud to Plawecki. At 1B, you would likely rest Duda for 10 games a year anyway so giving him 10 additional days off is the trade off for NOT running into a scenario where Anthony Recker starts for two months. With this setup, it will also help keep all three players fresh for a long season.

Potential DH Implementation

One final factor to consider is the potential implementation of a designated hitter in the National League. After Adam Wainwright tore his achilles running to 1B on a ground ball, there was a firestorm of discussion on the benefits and harm of requiring a pitcher to bat in the NL. With the way that the league has shifted to protect their players (home plate collision rule), there is an outside chance that major league baseball could make a change in the next year or two.

If this does indeed happen, the Mets stand to be one of the top benefactors by having two catchers who both project to be above average hitters.

All of these factors should make it very clear that dealing Kevin Plawecki would not be beneficial to the Mets. Keeping both of our above average catchers allows us to avoid possibly exposing a backup quality catcher to day in and day out pitching for an extended period of time.

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Featured Post: Sandy’s Next Move Should Be Trading Quantity For Quality http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/featured-post-sandys-next-move-should-be-trading-quantity-for-quality.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/featured-post-sandys-next-move-should-be-trading-quantity-for-quality.html/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 12:45:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=181297 sandy alderson

While having too much pitching is deemed a myth by many baseball fans, I believe the New York Mets have officially reached this paradox. Rare as it is to have so much depth, the Mets are crossing the point from developing their prospects to perhaps hindering them by keeping them in the minor leagues.

When Zack Wheeler went down in the offseason, some fans pointed to injuries as a reason to keep all of our starting pitching, including the often rumored trade candidates Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee. However, I believe the Mets had enough depth to deal with multiple extensive injuries and that they could have easily shifted Rafael Montero into that 5th slot with Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz on notice to be called up in Triple-A.

All three of these prospects are major league ready. Montero was deemed ready by most scouts last offseason while Thor has taken the steps he needed in order to dominate in Vegas and work his way to the big-league team while Matz has advanced much faster than anyone had expected.

The depth at Triple-A is not limited to our pitching staff. Matt Reynolds continues to exceed expectations and Dilson Herrera has made Triple-A pitching look silly. We have spent years languishing in the big leagues to plant these seeds, now it is time to harvest the crops either by playing them or by trading them for useful pieces that will address the urgent needs of the team.

Here are some possible trade ideas and please remember that this is pure conjecture and not based on any actual rumors. Let’s have a little fun and look at a few hypothetical possibilities, and please feel free to share your own ideas and trade suggestions.

Trading Gee To The Giants

dillon geeWe know that GM Brian Sabean was at Citi Field to watch the Mets vs Marlins series during the previous home stand and there is speculation that the Giants may be interested in Daniel Murphy or Dillon Gee. I personally believe we should keep Murphy to balance our RHH lineup so I will focus on San Francisco being a possible destination for Gee, who is earning $5.3M this season. He will not net any top prospects, but I believe a minor league reliever such as Steven Okert could be a possible return.

SFG receives – Dillon Gee

NYM receives – Steven Okert

Okert is a lefty reliever with a low to mid 90s fastball and a wipeout slider, a pitcher who has the floor of a lefty specialist and the ceiling of a closer. He was ranked 10th on the Giants prospect list and graded as a C+/B- prospect by John Sickels prior to the season. If the Mets do not eat any of Gee’s salary in a trade, I believe Okert would be a fair swap straight up and if the Mets do take on some money, they may be able to net an additional lower level prospect.

Purpose For Each Team

The biggest motivator for the Mets is to open up a rotation slot for one of their prospects. It is very reasonable to believe that Thor or Matz can provide the same value that Gee does this season and provide much better value for the future. Okert comes with one tool that no Met reliever currently has and that is power pitching from the left side. He is available to contribute immediately but will more likely be counted on as depth for 2016.

The Giants on the other hand appear to be shopping for a reliable starter that will not cost them a significant prospect and Dillon Gee could fit that bill. With a spacious ballpark to work with, Gee can reasonably be expected to be at least a serviceable backend rotation pitcher.

Trading For Aroldis Chapman

aroldis_chapman_reds_0This idea originated from an MMO user jokingly suggesting a Dilson Herrera for Aroldis Chapman trade. While I believe a Chapman for Herrera deal is reasonable, I think there are a number of other combinations that would be more beneficial to both teams. A package that makes sense to me would be based off the following:

CIN receives – Rafael Montero, Matt Reynolds/Gavin Cecchini, Jenrry Mejia/two prospects on Ynoa/Lara/Robles level.

NYM receives – Aroldis Chapman

To clarify, the Mets send Montero, Reynolds OR Cecchini, and either Mejia or two B-Level prospects to the Reds.

Purpose For Each Team

Jeurys Familia has been lights out for the Mets but who else besides Familia do you really trust in the back of that bullpen? Additionally, I do not have confidence in Terry to keep Familia’s innings low. If an injury should happen to him, at least the Mets would have another strong and reliable option to close games as I do not believe anyone wants to count on Parnell, Mejia or Robles to for that role come September or October.

As for the other pieces involved, Montero and Reynolds deserve to be on a major league roster somewhere and keeping them in the minors is counterproductive for them and the Mets. Gavin Cecchini is a higher ceiling but a less established option for the Reds to choose from and trading him will open up the path for Amed Rosario to advance through the Mets system.

There are two significant concerns with acquiring Chapman for the Mets. The first is his salary for 2016 (estimated $11-12M earnings in arbitration) and his potential price tag as an impending free agent the year after that. The second is the ever growing concern of a potential elbow injury for someone who throws as hard as Chapman. It may be a difficult decision to fork over $60-$75M over 5 years for a closer when 25% of active MLB pitchers have had Tommy John surgery and Chapman has yet to undergo this procedure.

From the Reds perspective, the team receives three young players who can contribute immediately as they look to capitalize on a quick rebuild before Joey Votto‘s prime years are up. Mejia is the wildcard in this proposal and while he has shown the potential to be a closer, he is not eligible to return from his suspension until early July and may not have enough time to re-establish himself to be a trade candidate for the Reds to be interested. Perhaps they’d prefer the two lower level prospects instead of him.

Three Way Trade Between Mets, Reds, Giants

SFG receives – Dillon Gee

CIN receives – Rafael Montero, Steven Okert, Matt Reynolds/Gavin Cecchini

NYM receives – Aroldis Chapman

In this combined trade scenario, the Mets hold onto Mejia or their two prospects while still moving Dillon Gee. The Reds receive a young starter, a potential closer and a shortstop who can all contribute immediately. The Giants deal away LHRP depth for the most consistent starter in baseball (51 consecutive starts of 5 innings) who should perform very well in their spacious ballpark.

Any time a player as elite as Chapman is discussed in a trade scenario, there will be differing opinions on his value. He is a closer that not only looks dominating, his numbers back it up (average 2.6 fWAR in past 3 seasons) and his peripherals show that his excellence is not a result of luck. However, he is set to earn a high salary in 2016 and with no closers being traded in recent memory other than Jim Johnson, it is difficult to draw a baseline of what his trade value should be.

Be Prepared For The Rumors

Trade rumors in the next two months should prove to be interesting for the New York Mets. Could the surprising division leaders Houston Astros be a buyer for Texas native Dillon Gee? If their top prospect Carlos Correa rips up Triple A, would Jed Lowrie be available? How about if the Cleveland Indians bring up Francisco Lindor? Does that make Jose Ramirez available?

Regardless who the Mets deal with, their depth will allow them to negotiate from a position of strength. I am hopeful that Alderson will be able to take his excess pieces and turn them into improvements for the major league roster. It is time we trade our quantity for quality.

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Collins’ Bullpen Management: Familia Unconcerned With Heavy Workload http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/collins-bullpen-management-familia-unconcerned-with-heavy-workload.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/collins-bullpen-management-familia-unconcerned-with-heavy-workload.html/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 14:39:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180930 Jeurys - Familia

Jeurys Familia told the New York Post he is unconcerned with his heavy workload and the pace with which manager Terry Collins is using him.

“T.C. knows when we need a day, when we feel tired,” Familia said. “He knows what he is doing. He is a smart manager, and when somebody needs a day just tell T.C., and that is it.”

“I like to be in the game,” Familia added. “It doesn’t matter what the situation is or the inning, I like to help the team and I enjoy what I do.”

Of course, baseball players are competitors and none of them are going up to their managers to ask out of a game. When they do it’s usually too late and already a sign of trouble.

It’s a manager’s job to protect players from themselves, and we as Mets fans know this better than most. - Joe D.

May 7

As Alex Torres gave up the infield hit in the 9th inning and the camera panned to Jeurys Familia warming up in the bullpen, I let out a grunt of frustration. The Mets were up 5-1 and yet our closer is being prepared to enter the game.

At this point, it feels like Terry Collins does not trust anyone other than Familia to finish a game, even in non-save situations.

The results worked out well last night as Familia struck out a pair to end the game but I have to question the long-term effects of using Familia the way he has been called upon.

Over-usage

At the conclusion of our 28th game, Familia is on pace to throw 86-87 innings this year. While it is early in the season, we have to remember that Familia threw 77.1 innings last year as well.

But consider also that this season Familia’s innings will all be high-leverage innings, something that Ron Darling often points out when considering workload.

For comparison purposes, here is a list of last season’s top 10 save leaders and their innings pitched, who averaged 66.1 innings among them.

Relievers

These two factors would not be a big deal if the manager of the team didn’t already have a history of over-using his favorite relievers. It is this combination of factors that makes Familia’s early season usage so troublesome.

Handicap & Confidence

The way that Familia has been used is a concerning issue. The way that the last 2-3 guys in the bullpen are NOT being used is an even bigger issue. The Mets starting pitching has delivered strong performances and we are still early in the season so we can get away with hiding Erik Goeddel, Hansel Robles and Sean Gilmartin. However, as the season progresses, relievers numbered 5-7 will have to eventually appear in tight games.

By not using these younger pitchers, Terry Collins is limiting himself to a five man bullpen. If you can’t use Hansel Robles in a 0-0 game in the 7th inning with the bottom of the lineup coming up or you can’t use Sean Gilmartin with a two-run lead and two lefties coming up, then why do you even have them on this team?

What kind of message are you sending to your own players if you cannot leave Alex Torres in to finish a game with a four-run lead in early May?

At this current point in time, it may seem ridiculous to complain about Terry Collin’s bullpen usage. After all, we are 17-0 after leading through six innings. However, as Collin’s moves have been beneficial in the short run, I really hope that he re-evaluates the workload for his bullpen moving forward.

The season is a marathon and it just looks to me that Collins is asking Familia to sprint from the jump, with little concern for September and hopefully October.

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2015 Mets Staff and Community Predictions Thread http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/2015-mets-staff-and-community-predictions-thread.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/2015-mets-staff-and-community-predictions-thread.html/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 22:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=178201 collins harvey wright

With Spring Training officially wrapped up and the 2015 season set to begin, now would be the perfect time for everyone to state their 2015 predictions.

Why leave all the fun of predicting how our players and team performs to the beat writers and the “experts”? In the time that I have spent reading and interacting with the staff and members of MMO, I am convinced that many of you are just as knowledgeable if not more informed than the ones who are paid to cover the team.

Quite a few of you responded to user Schadenfreudianslip’s comment on creating a prediction thread the other day so let this be the official place for all of you to share your forecasts. It doesn’t matter if they are based off statistics, gut feelings or voodoo dolls, just tell us what you anticipate for the upcoming season so you can bask in the glory when they come true and say “I told you so” or get put to shame as your prophecies start to look silly.

We asked some of our team members for their thoughts on the following. Here are their responses.

Joe D.

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Steven Matz
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Matt Harvey
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Jacob deGrom
  8. Most disappointing player – Travis d’Arnaud
  9. One Met who will be traded – Daniel Murphy
  10. Final team record – 86-75

Gerry Silverman

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Rafael Montero
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Rafael Montero
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – David Wright
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda/Curtis Granderson
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Travis d’Arnaud
  9. One Met who will be traded – Dillon Gee
  10. Final team record – 92-70

 

Gregg Hopps

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Curtis Granderson puts up MVP numbers.
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Dillon Gee proves he should be a starter.
  3. Mets Top Rookie -
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Matt Harvey
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Bobby Parnell
  9. One Met who will be traded -
  10. Final team record – 92-70

Matt Mosher

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Steven Matz
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – David Wright
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Curtis Granderson
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Daniel Murphy
  9. One Met who will be traded – Daniel Murphy
  10. Final team record – 83-79

Tommy Rothman

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Jon Niese.
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Noah Syndergaard.
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Wilmer Flores
  9. One Met who will be traded – Daniel Murphy  
  10. Final team record – 85-77

Destry

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Rafael Montero
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Sean Gilmartin
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Michael Cuddyer
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jon Niese
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Jerry Blevins (pen) Jacob deGrom (rotation)
  8. Most disappointing player – Jenrry Mejia
  9. One Met who will be traded – SS Milton Ramos (PTBNL to SD)
  10. Final team record – 91-71 Mets win division (WAS & MIA way overrated)

Michael Mayer

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Wilmer Flores
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Jeurys Familia
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Travis d’Arnaud
  9. One Met who will be traded – Jenrry Mejia
  10. Final team record – 88-74

Stephanie

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Travis d’Arnaud/Juan Lagares (I can’t choose!)
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Rafael Montero
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz (hopefully!)
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Daniel Murphy
  9. One Met who will be traded – Dillon Gee
  10. Final team record – 85-77

Logan Barer

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Dillon Gee
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Matt Harvey
  7. Team Leader (ERA leader) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Terry Collins (kidding, Wilmer Flores)
  9. One Met who will be traded – Dillon Gee
  10. Final team record: 91-71

Brian Devine

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Rafael Montero
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Rafael Montero
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – David Wright
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Curtis Granderson
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Michael Cuddyer
  9. One Met who will be traded – Dillon Gee
  10. Final team record – 81-81

Avery Decker

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Juan Lagares
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Noah Syndergaard
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Noah Syndergaard
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Michael Cuddyer
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Matt Harvey
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Matt Harvey
  8. Most disappointing player – Travis d’Arnaud
  9. One Met who will be traded – Bartolo Colon
  10. Final team record – 83-79

Laurence Smith

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Kevin Plawecki
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Steven Matz
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Steven Matz
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Jacob deGrom
  8. Most disappointing player – Wilmer Flores
  9. One Met who will be traded – Dillon Gee
  10. Final team record – 83-79

Willywater88

  1. Mets Breakout Hitter – Wilmer Flores
  2. Mets Breakout Pitcher – Rafael Montero
  3. Mets Top Rookie – Rafael Montero (yes he qualifies)
  4. Team Leader (RBI) – Lucas Duda
  5. Team Leader (HR) – Lucas Duda
  6. Team Leader (Wins) – Jacob deGrom
  7. Team Leader (ERA) – Not sure but the team ERA will be under 3.50
  8. Most disappointing player – I don’t see any major disappointments but I am worried about Jon Niese getting injured
  9. One Met who will be traded – Buddy Carlyle
  10. Final team record – 88-74

Other Thoughts – Colon gets moved to the pen at some point. Steven Matz becomes a top 25 prospect. If the Mets do not make the playoffs or lose a wild card game, Terry Collins will not be back next year.

Now let’s see what you can do, and be bold with your predictions! But just beware that anything you say here can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion as the season progresses.

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Three Overlooked Areas That Could Hurt Mets in 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/three-overlooked-areas-that-could-hurt-mets-in-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/three-overlooked-areas-that-could-hurt-mets-in-2015.html/#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:00:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177410 wright lagares

With the season opener drawing ever so closer, MMO is buzzing with excitement, optimism, scorn and dozens of other emotions. As much as I am looking forward to the upcoming campaign, I do have a few concerns with the makeup of our lineup. Below are three roster issues that I believe could come back to hurt the Mets this season.

1. Lack Of A Baserunning Threat

There are a lot of positive signs during spring training that point to a much improved offense for the upcoming year. However, there will still be nights when a pitcher like Jordan Zimmermann or Clayton Kershaw is cruising along for 6 or 7 innings without a hard hit ball against them. In these situations, the best chance to disrupt that pitcher’s flow could be to have a pinch hitter lay down a bunt, slap a weak ground ball for an infield single or bloop a hit into the outfield and distract him on the basepaths.

mmo feature original footerAs much as fans detested Eric Young Jr as a starter, he was a great utility player who you can use as a pinch runner and draw the attention of a pitcher. When an opposing starter is in a groove, you may only have a couple of chances to rattle him. This year, we have no such player in our starting lineup or off the bench. With our RHH dominant lineup, it wouldn’t surprise me if we run into the occasional 2 or 3 hit shutout.

2. Lack Of Second LHH Off The Bench

As it stands now, Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be our only lefthanded batter available to pinch hit. Our second set of options against RHPs are Eric Campbell and Anthony Recker, who have more or less even splits against RHPs and LHPs. Our final line of defense are John Mayberry and Ruben Tejada who have major drop offs in productivity when facing RHPs.

This will surely hurt in situations when we need to pinch hit for the pitcher with a man on base and late in the game. Maybe Sandy’s plan is to use Jacob deGrom as the second LHH.

3. Cuddyer In LF & Granderson In RF

Earlier in a spring training game, Michael Cuddyer and Juan Lagares collided on a fly ball which may have been due to the fact that Cuddyer who is deaf in his left ear, did not hear Lagares calling him off. I would think that taking every step possible to protect the most valuable position player on your team from injury should be reason alone to move Cuddyer over to RF.

On top of this, Michael Cuddyer is known as an abysmal defender and is now being asked to play a position which he has registered a grand total of 38 innings in his 14 year major league career. Most outfielders may find this transition easy but can we be assured of this from one of the worst defensive players in baseball?

Now if there is one aspect that Cuddyer does well on defense, it is his ability to make a solid throw. This is a complete contrast to Curtis Granderson‘s spaghetti arm which no baserunner has ever had a nightmare on.

All of these factors tell us that the logical thing to do is swap Granderson and Cuddyer’s positions yet the only explanation we have received about why this switch was not made was because Granderson was already familiar with the real estate in RF. This explanation would make a sliver of a sense if we hadn’t actually moved our walls in from RF.

At this point, I personally do not care about our outfield defense giving up some hits or an extra base here and there but if Lagares gets leveled or tripped up by Cuddyer at some point in the season, I want heads to roll.

Wrapping it up…

The first two issues could have been addressed in the offseason by simply moving replacing Ruben Tejada with a speedy LHH shortstop to backup Wilmer Flores. While there will be instances where these disadvantages do not affect the outcome of a game, I do believe that these three issues combined will cost the Mets at least two or three games over the course of the season.

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The Value Of Lineup Flexibility http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/the-value-of-lineup-flexibility.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/the-value-of-lineup-flexibility.html/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170874 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

In the land of baseball, the strength of pitching is well regarded, the effectiveness of speed and defense is also well documented and the power of hitting is revered. Yet there is one skill among them that is rarely spoken of and that is the value of flexibility.

Flexibility is the ability to minimize the most predictable yet also the least predictable factor in baseball, the factor of injuries. It is most predictable as they are practically guaranteed and each team will lose one or two key contributors for a significant portion of the season. But it is also the least predictable as there is no formula to determine which of your players will visit the DL.

The ability to shift around also provides options when players inevitably underperform and it allows a manager to adjust his lineup based on various factors (pitcher type, opposing bullpen, ballpark, schedule, etc).

To take a look at how prepared we are from a flexibility perspective, I want to review the current projected lineup for the Mets going into 2015.

  1. Juan Lagares – CF
  2. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  3. David Wright – 3B
  4. Lucas Duda – 1B
  5. Michael Cuddyer – LF
  6. Curtis Granderson – RF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  8. Wilmer Flores – SS

This is a well balanced lineup with three left-handed hitters and five right-handed hitters. So far so good. But how would a major injury to each of these players affect the positioning and the lineup? Let’s look at their replacements.

Lagares – Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be inserted in center, but a major question would be who takes over the leadoff spot?

Murphy – Flores will probably shift to 2B and Ruben Tejada will be the everyday SS unless Matt Reynolds is tearing it up in Las Vegas. Your lineup also goes from three LHH to just two LHH. This is a very troubling thought.

Wright – Campbell, Murphy or Flores can play 3B and either Tejada can play SS or Herrera/Reynolds can be called up. Either Cuddyer, d’Arnaud or Flores can slot into the three hole. Great options here, I actually believe we can soften the potential loss of David Wright very well.

Duda – this may be the one player the Mets can ill afford to lose to injury. Cuddyer will likely take the bulk of the 1B playing time and den Dekker or Nieuwenhuis will be added to the OF. Everyone batting behind Duda moves up a slot. However, this injury will lead to Granderson being the only “power” left-handed bat in the lineup.

Cuddyer – Once again, Kirk or MDD takes over.

Granderson – Same scenario as Cuddyer.

D’Arnaud – Kevin Plawecki will be called up.

Flores – Ruben Tejada will take his place or Matt Reynolds may be called up.

Overall, the Mets have pretty good flexibility in filling out positions from an injury perspective. This is greatly helped out by Cuddyer’s ability to play 1B as well as the OF, albeit he is a poor defender at any position. It is also great to see that Campbell can play just about anywhere and not be a liability and that whoever makes the team between Kirk or MDD gives us a strong defender able to cover any of the OF positions.

ruben tejada

What Can Change – Backup Shortstop

As it currently stands, having Flores being backed up by Tejada is not very logical. With a poor defensive combo up the middle already, I believe there will be many games that it makes sense to sit Flores when you face a tough RHP and the team you play has good baserunners and/or hits a lot of ground balls. You would ideally substitute him with a left-handed hitting shortstop who plays above average defense. Tejada doesn’t fit that description. And as noted earlier, if Murphy goes down, your internal options to take his place are Tejada/Herrera/Reynolds, making your lineup very righty dominant.

Didi Gregorius or Cliff Pennington would be excellent backups. I’d try to swing some Triple A arms like Cory Mazzoni and Logan Verrett for Gregorius and possibly consider a straight up deal for Rafael Montero or Vic Black. I’d also be willing to swap Parnell for Pennington or Gee for Pennington and a prospect. If there is no interest in any of these trades, middle infielder Munenori Kawasaki and Jonathan Herrera, a switch hitting defensive SS, are now free agents and should be available at a reasonable price.

To make room for the new SS, the Mets would have to move Tejada. I’d like to see them deal him to Minnesota who is in need of a backup or perhaps starting SS (depends how they move their players around) for Brian Duensing, a solid lefty reliever who may be non-tendered anyway. I believe a 1-for-1 swap would be very fair in this case.

lucas duda hr

What Won’t Change – Catcher & First Base

Anthony Recker is a solid backup catcher and appears to be a great teammate as well, but I believe Juan Centeno should’ve been our 2015 backup behind the plate. As an above average defender who bats lefty, Centeno would have complimented TDA perfectly. At the very least, they should have kept him in Triple A in the event that the injury prone d’Arnaud hits the DL again and Plawecki is not ready. At this point, it looks like we will move into the season without addressing these risks.

First base was a pleasant surprise for us in 2014. I think it’s safe to count on Duda to hit .250 and hit 25 home runs next season, but a good baseball team will account for all potential scenarios, including one where Duda must miss significant time. The acquisition of Cuddyer somewhat addressed this, giving Collins a righty complement to occasionally rest Duda against the Kershaws and Hamels of the league. It also provides a major league caliber player to step in for a longer period if necessary.

However, I am very disappointed that there didn’t even appear to be an attempt to acquire Scott Van Slyke, a much better defender than Cuddyer at 1B and in the OF. I would think Rafael Montero for Van Slyke straight up would have been a reasonable deal. Wouldn’t having Van Slyke and a 2015 1st rd pick + $22M be better than having Montero and Cuddyer?

Final Assessment

Year in and year out, it seems like the best teams in baseball are also the best at absorbing injuries and maximizing match-ups. To give a team this tactical advantage, a GM must look beyond the nine slots he sees on a baseball field and envision how all 13 or 14 of his position players can be used and cover for each other over a course of a long season. While there are some moves that I felt the Mets could have made and still can make, I still believe we have above average flexibility going into 2015.

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Some Daniel Murphy Trade Scenarios http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/some-daniel-murphy-trade-scenarios.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/some-daniel-murphy-trade-scenarios.html/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:56:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170879 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

With Pablo Sandoval landing in Boston and Chase Headley‘s market heating up, I wonder if the teams who miss out on both players would eventually have interest in our own Daniel Murphy. Offensively speaking, the differences in production between Sandoval, Headley and Murphy is negligible. Headley is the best defender of the three and also had a monster 2012 for his case while Sandoval has been the most consistent.

If Scott Boras was Murphy’s agent, he would point out to teams that not only do his offensive numbers match Sandoval’s, but Murphy is also quite capable of playing both 2B and 3B and that the only reason his defense is rated lower is because he is not a full time third baseman – his primary position. Whether this argument would hold any weight is beyond me, but it does make you wonder if Murphy could be as good as Sandoval at 3B.

Here are three scenarios I was thinking about, assuming we acquire a SS and move Wilmer Flores to 2B.

San Francisco Giants

Jeremy Affeldt or Javier Lopez and Adalberto Mejia (B+ prospect) for Murphy and Gonzalez Germen or Cory Mazzoni or Logan Verrett or Tyler Pill

Toronto Blue Jays

Brett Cecil or Aaron Loup and Daniel Norris (B+ prospect) for Murphy and one of Germen, Mazzoni, Verrett, Pill

Oakland A’s

Sean Doolittle or Fernando Abad or Eric O’Flaherty and Dillon Overton (B- prospect) for Murphy and and one of Germen, Mazzoni, Verrett, Pill

All three trades follow the same formula, acquire a lefty reliever and a lefty pitching prospect for Murphy and one of our AAA arms. The reliever helps us immediately this year and sends one of our many fringe AAA arms away. Adding another LHP to the upper minors also shores up depth behind Steven Matz, in case Jon Niese is dealt.

What other teams would you like to see the Mets trade Murphy to?

*This article was written before Josh Donaldson was traded to Toronto. It appears TOR has no intention of parting with Daniel Norris

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Mets Offseason Hitting Trade Targets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-offseason-hitting-trade-targets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-offseason-hitting-trade-targets.html/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162536 The days of power hitters are over. Those that do remain are in such high demand that the thought of acquiring one will cost you an arm or a leg. If the Mets want a realistic shot to upgrade on offense, they will have to explore all options and alternatives available in the market.

Here are four types of hitters the Mets can consider trading for this offseason.

  • Top Tier Stars
  • Buy Low Former Stars
  • Elite Prospects
  • Under The Radar Players

But before we dive into available players from each category, let’s look at the trade chips the Mets have available, broken down into three groups. For this discussion, we will define “prospects” as players with under two years of major league service time.

Group A – Cost controlled starters with experience

Group B – Major league ready top prospects

Group C – Other top prospects

The Mets have no shortage of pieces to work with. This organization has arguably the best combination of young players and prospects to intrigue other teams. We should also note that it is reasonable to assume that the Mets will be a better team without making any significant moves at all. There is no rule of thumb that dictates that we have to make a big trade this offseason but it is certainly worth our time to review all of our options.

Group 1 – Top Tier Stars

San Francisco Giants v Miami MarlinsThe two biggest names that are rumored to be available are Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki. Stanton is said to be available due to the Marlins non competitive nature at the moment and Loria’s unwillingness to invest his own money into the team. Tulowitzki is rumored to be unhappy with Colorado’s inability to compete and the club’s lack of direction. So what will it cost to attain each one and would they be worth the hefty haul?

Here are a few points to note on Stanton vs Tulowitzki.

  • Stanton is younger and hitting his prime
  • Tulowitzki is the better defender, an elite one at a premium position
  • Tulowitzki has missed about 25% of games due to injury since his rookie year and will miss the rest of 2015.
  • Tulowitzki has 6 years/$118 mil guaranteed on his contract spanning to his age 35 season
  • Trading for Stanton will likely mean an extension starting at age 26. This could be a 10 year/$250-$300 mil deal or a short term 4 year/$120 mil deal with player opt outs.

Let’s pretend for a minute that we are in an alternate universe where the Mets are capable of taking on a large contract. From the list above, I believe the Mets would be willing to part with two players from group A, B and C as well as another one or two non top prospects for an elite player.

Before Tulowitzki’s season ending surgery, I could see the Mets willing to part with DeGrom (Colorado must be salivating at his ability to keep the ball down) and Nimmo for the elite shortstop. But with Tulo showing us another way to get on the disabled list, this thought can be classified in the “what if” section.

As for Stanton, I believe a fair return would be along the lines of Wheeler, Plawecki and Herrera. However, I expect Miami to ask for one player from group A and three or four prospects from groups B and/or C. Additionally, if Stanton gets dealt, it will not be to a team within the division. Add this thought to the “what if” section as well.

Trading for a big time slugger is one option and the Mets have more than enough trade chips to get it done. But considering all the factors necessary to make this blockbuster deal, I see next to no chance of either trade happening.

Group 2 – Buy Low Former Stars

matt kempThe second type of hitter that can be acquired is a former all-star that has struggled and/or dealt with injuries in recent years but still have potential to regain their previous forms. The Dodgers have two outfielders that fit this mold, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Despite the posing that GM Ned Colletti has done, we know that LA would be quick to move either or both. The Dodger outfield will be quite crowded in 2015 with Joc Pederson (more on him later) and Yasiel Puig slated in center and right field. Even if they go with a four man outfield rotation as they did this year, it will leave them with Crawford, Kemp, Ethier and Van Slyke (more on him later as well) fighting for two spots.

An acquisition for either Kemp or Ethier will require the Dodgers to eat at least half of their salaries. Kemp could probably fetch one player from groups A, B or C as well as a couple of lesser prospects. Ethier is probably not worth any of the players listed at this point but for a couple of lower level prospects, I would gladly take a risk with him if his cost will only be 3 years/$15 million.

A less damaged option (update* Cargo may miss the rest of the season as well) is the much talked about Carlos Gonzalez. As Connor O’Brien has pointed out already, Cargo appears to be a league average hitter away from Coors Field. His contract is not long, at 3 years/$53 million ending at his age 31 season so the package for Cargo would likely be in the range of Degrom or Montero plus a few lesser prospects. Any demand higher than this should signal Alderson to hang up the phone.

We know the risks that come with this group of players and they are available for a reason. All three can end up being nothing but a live body with a large contract. Yet, with a dearth of impact bats in the market, it is intriguing to consider picking up a .275 – 20 – 75 player for a single top prospect.

Group 3 – Elite Prospects

javier-baez-mlb-all-star-game-futures-game-850x560This is the group that is most financially realistic for the Mets to explore but for some inexplicable reason, general managers have always hesitated to exchange prospects. Hopefully, the chances of striking a deal are slightly improved when working with a new school GM such as the Chicago Cub’s Theo Epstein.

The Cubs have two major league ready shortstops in Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Baez is the can’t miss prospect with projected plus power and hit tools and he will be ranked higher than any prospect on the Mets list. It would likely cost Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard plus another lower level top prospect to heat up conversations.

While Baez is the big prize, I would actually prefer to acquire the lead off hitter Alcantara. You can start him at short or second and reevaluate during the 2015 season as Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera progresses in triple A or you can use him to compete with Tejada or Flores for a position. Scouting reports indicate he has a plus arm, plus footwork and a decent glove so he has the tools to stick at short but is prone to rushing and committing errors. He has also logged time in center field and has looked solid in limited action out there. Would there be interest in Alcantara for either Murphy, Flores or Montero?

The Cubs and Mets are perfect trade partners. There are dozens of scenarios and names that can be discussed. Do the Cubs want to compete in 2015 and acquire Murphy? Would they be interested in established starters such as Niese and Gee or prospects such as Syndergaard and Montero? At the same time, I can see Theo Epstein taking a big chunk of the winter to gauge the market before deciding to trade or keep Baez. With time being a factor, it may be wiser to strike a quick deal for Alcantara as opposed to the presumed back and forth it would take to acquire Baez.

In the outfield market, there are two major league ready OF prospects that would make an impact on the Mets next season. They are Joc Pederson of the Dodgers and Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals. Both are ranked in the same elite class as Baez and unfortunately, neither of them are likely to be available. Pederson, a California native, slots right in as the true center fielder that LA has been missing while Taveras should also find himself starting everyday for the Cardinals now that Allen Craig has been traded to Boston.

Group 4 – Under The Radar Players

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles DodgersThese are the group of players that are overlooked by most teams and turn out extremely valuable for the one that give them a chance. I only have one name to offer in this group so allow me to re-introduce a favorite of mine, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke of the LA Dodgers. The son of former Pittsburgh all-star Andy Van Slyke, Scott is a solid defender in the outfield and at first base. At 6’5″, 220 lbs, he comes with plus power and even splits against both righties and lefties.

In three seasons with the Dodgers, he has been limited to part time duty due to a crowded outfield and Adrian Gonzalez at first base. This won’t change as long as he is in LA but I believe he is as deserving of a shot to start as any player in the league. Van Slyke projects to be a .250/.350/.500 type of hitter, capable of 25 HRs a year.

Last season, I suggested Van Slyke, Dee Gordon, Jordany Valdespin and Josh Satin as names the Mets and Dodgers could discuss. While Gordon and Valdespin are no longer relevant to this year’s conversation and Van Slyke and Satin’s stocks have traveled in opposite directions, I think a package of Vic Black and Juan Centeno would get the two sides pretty close. If the Dodgers choose not to re-sign Hanley Ramirez, could they possibly entertain Van Slyke for Tejada and Centeno? This allows them to start last year’s Cuban signing, Alex Guerrero at shortstop with Tejada backing up both Guerrero and Dee Gordon.

The Mets don’t have to hand Van Slyke a starting spot but he would be a perfect option to fill in as a fourth outfielder and platoon first baseman who can earn his way to more playing time. This is one unheralded name that I believe can be a game changer for the Mets.

Baseball fans have been treated to longballs and gaudy home run totals for two decades while general managers dreamed of landing that big slugger in the middle of their lineups. But as the game changes, strategy in acquiring and maintaining players must change too. We have already seen early adopters such as the Braves adjusting to the new CBA rules by extending their younger players much earlier than past years.

I believe the next shift will be in teams replacing power with other skill sets, whether it is the ability to draw walks, hit line drives, play defense or the very underrated skill of flexibility. This is the ability to play multiple positions, to hit in different spots in the lineup and reduce the impact of the loss of a starter to injury.

The Mets are finally in a position where their foundation is set. In the past, trading for a star would have meant the need to fill in other positions or risk not having adequate depth. Our circumstances are different now, we have the personnel to absorb the loss of 4-5 players and have those slots fill right in without missing a beat. Personally, I don’t believe the Mets have to acquire a power bat and that we would be better served with a high potential lead off hitter. While I would love to see the name Tulowitzki or Stanton in our lineup, I believe the Mets are going in the right direction and will be a better team regardless whether a star is acquired.

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Effectively Using Fringe Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/effectively-using-fringe-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/effectively-using-fringe-prospects.html/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:38:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158663 kitk nieuwenhuis

Path Of A 4A Player

Every organization carries a number of players who are referred to as Quad-A material. From early on, many are deemed for this generic role. Typically, they are selected in the middle rounds of the draft and produce well enough at every level to advance to Triple A. They arrive at the final level, a level where hitters lose their confidence as quickly as they lose sight of a breaking ball that was never thrown in Double-A. It is at this level where a young man can smell the major leagues from the residual odor that his veteran and called up teammates walk around with.

At this last stage before the spotlight of the majors, these players are still considered prospects. If you subtract a year or two from their age, they may even jump up to rank in the club’s top 5 list. But for now, they are a borderline prospect that will have to prove they belong, yet again. Their manager motivates them by telling the hopeful young men that  ”you are one hot streak from a call up. Repeat what you did in AA and the front office will start throwing your name around”. So they do what they have done their whole career, and they keep on hitting without missing a beat.

eric campbell

Mets Career Minor Leaguers

In the Mets organization, we have two players of this mold, Zach Lutz* and Eric Campbell who have been on and off teammates in the minor leagues for seven seasons, eight to include this campaign. Lutz (3B) was drafted as a 5th round pick in 2007 and Campbell (1B) was drafted as an 8th round pick in 2008. Both have followed the classic formula below for being a 4A player entering 2014.

(Many skills * good) + (zero skills * great) + (perform at every level) + (visit the DL at inopportune moments)

So what do you do with these players that knock on the major league door every year, players who you are not ready to count on but at the same time you do not want to bury in triple A again? Well, you know for sure that these fringe players will not receive a starter’s playing time so I believe the first step is identifying the players who can accept a role on the bench.

You need hitters who have spent the last decade playing every day to adjust to sitting on the bench 90% of the game and still be sharp when their number is called. The same goes for fringe pitchers who must be ready to spot start, come out of the pen as long relief and not lose their confidence being yanked back and forth from the majors and minors.

Beyond the mental perseverance is an even more important factor, how a player can fit into the team’s needs, particularly off the bench. Personally, I believe that flexibility in filling for multiple needs (position, defense, speed, power, platoon, etc) is the defining trait of a useful bench player.

One month into his 2014 debut, Eric Campbell has looked like a solid call up, showing not only timely hitting but defensive versatility. But as much as Mets fans are riding high on Campbell, we only have to look at the short lived Josh Satin honeymoon to be reminded how thin the ice these callups are walking on. Satin played quite well in limited duty last year but was quickly exiled after a slow start this season. In 2014, he was demoted after just 34 plate appearances, roughly equivalent to what a starter receives in 7 games.

But this is the nature of being a low profile prospect. Every AB, every play in the field can be your last in the majors. The Mets will continue to play guys like Campbell, Matt Den Dekker and Andrew Brown sparingly, as they should. You have to earn your playing time. Daniel Murphy did it, John Maine did it and Dillon Gee did it. But just as a fringe player should focus on being productive off the bench, the organization must be wise in picking the right players out and putting them in positions to succeed and not hoping for them to become full time solutions.

A player such as Eric Young has plus plus speed and is a proven base stealer. He should get into a game daily as a pinch runner or pinch hitter and receive starts based on opposing pitchers, defenses and ballparks. But the minute you expose him to unfavorable matchups, his weakness as a hitter becomes unprotected.

The goal for your 4A player is to become a reliable bench option, any playing time beyond that must be earned, not in the span of 10 ABs or 15 innings but over the course of a season. Daniel Murphy worked his tail off to not be fighting for a bench spot right now and Dillon Gee performed time and again so that he no longer takes ten hour bus rides with the AAA team.

There is a valuable place on every major league team for fringe players. Don’t shy away from them but don’t over rely on them.

*At the time of writing this article, Zach Lutz was with the Las Vegas 51s. His contract has since been purchased by the Rakuten Eagles. 

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Early Look Into The Second Half Rotation http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/early-look-into-the-second-half-rotation.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/early-look-into-the-second-half-rotation.html/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:44:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=152185 USATSI_ bartiolo colon by brad barr

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite times of the year. I get to retire my big coat and not look at its depressing hues of gray that I have been wearing daily for the past three months. I have the luxury of enjoying one or two weeks of fresh air before my nose is greeted by the arrival of allergy season, but most of all, I find a new way to give myself (false) hope in the upcoming baseball campaign.

I visit this site daily in hopes of hearing about or discussing something new that is related to blue and orange. And with the common topics having been kicked around more than a pair of flip-flops that are falling apart, I can’t help but think about the second half of the season already. In particular, the starting rotation in August and September.

With seven starters available in the early part of the season, the Mets should not have many rotation decisions to make until June. If one of the top five is injured, they get replaced by #6 and #7, which appear to be Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan, respectively. And in a worst case scenario where injuries leave you with Jenrry Mejia, Dice-K and Lannan as your 3-5 starters, the trio should be able to carry you into June when it would financially make sense to bring up Rafael Montero and/or Noah Syndergaard.

But why be pessimistic to start the season? I want to think of an exciting scenario, ideally after the All-Star break, when we have pitchers at each level, from Savannah to Las Vegas banging on the doors for a promotion.

In this scenario, the Mets have the original seven starters as well as newbies Montero, Syndergaard, and deGrom ready to pitch at Citi Field. For reality’s sake, let’s say of the ten total starters, two are injured and one is performing so poorly, he is no longer considered for a rotation spot. That still leaves SEVEN pitchers to fill in five slots. So let’s go ahead move deGrom to the pen, as relieving is likely his ultimate destination anyway, and we are now down to six pitchers for five slots…or do we have another option?

syndergaard montero

Could the Mets just go with six starters for the remainder of the season? On a team where the top of the rotation is usually significantly better than the bottom half of the rotation, it would not make sense to reduce the number of starts that your #1 and #2 make – but it doesn’t look like that would apply to the Mets in our situation.

A six man rotation could be beneficial by

  • Giving the team the ability to evaluate another starter for next year.
  • Limiting innings gives more recovery time between starts for injury prone pitchers.
  • Limiting innings for younger pitchers helps build their arm strength or keep them from reaching their innings cap.
  • Another bonus is that pitchers who have an extra day of rest increase their effectiveness.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Half of our personnel is not built for the grind of a full season and the other half has never even been through a full big league campaign. Here are the two groups and their injury history plus workload ability.

The disabled list veterans:

  • Colon – He’s been throwing baseballs since before the Stegosaurus became extinct from our ecosystem.
  • Niese – Anyone who successfully acts surprised if he lands on the DL is more Oscar-worthy than Leonardo.
  • Matsuzaka – Two years removed from Tommy John but looked very good this spring.
  • Mejia – Jenrry knows the MRI guy on a first name basis. His career high in IP was in 2012 when he registered 108.2 innings.

The youngsters:

  • Wheeler – Career high in IP is 168 between Triple-A Vegas and the Mets last year.
  • Montero – Career high of 155.1 innings in 2013.
  • Syndergaard – Career high of 117.2 innings in 2013.

The biggest argument against a six man rotation would be the usage of an extra roster spot at the expense of a bench or bullpen player. But would the benefits of a sixth starter outweigh the loss of a utility glove and bat? If the Mets have seven/eight starters in July and none of them get traded then this is an interesting proposition to consider, additionally it’s definitely not a bad problem to have.

mmo

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Jordany Valdespin’s Trade Value http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/jordany-valdespins-trade-value.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/jordany-valdespins-trade-value.html/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 03:17:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134247 jordany valdespin

We are a few weeks away from the winter meetings and while the talk around the Mets have revolved around who we should be acquiring, it is equally important to make quick and effective decisions on the players that will better serve us with another team’s uniform.

The player at the top of this list would be Jordany Valdespin, a potentially useful part but currently the outcast of the organization. There is no secret that he has irked many of his teammates and members of the front office on multiple occasions, which is why, no matter how much he may hit next year, it would not be worth the stress of forcing your manager and teammates to work with a landmine.

This brings me to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who signed Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero to be their second baseman for the next four seasons. If they are willing to give Valdespin a chance to redeem himself, he could conceivably become a quality backup at both middle infield positions.

On the LA roster are two names that I believe should be available (this is just purely my intuition). The first is 2B/SS Dee Gordon, whose name has been bought up before and the second would be 1B/OF Scott Van Slyke.

Gordon has fallen out of favor with the Dodgers as he has not hit much over the past two seasons in part time duty. He has great footwork and a strong arm but has played poorly in the field as well and was most recently demoted to be primarily a pinch runner during the Dodgers playoff run. He has one minor league option remaining.

Scott Van Slyke is a power right handed hitter who has arguably put up the best numbers in all of Triple A for the last three seasons, yet most sources from last year listed him as a C/C+ prospect. I am perplexed at how low his value is and how he is labeled as an AAAA player based on a sample size of 180 ABs over irregular playing time and two call ups. Van Slyke also has one minor league option remaining. Here is an interesting piece detailing Van Slyke’s career from Hardball Times.

Gordon can compete with Ruben Tejada and provide Collins with an option against tougher right handed starters while Van Slyke could do the same for Ike Davis or Duda against the tougher lefties while playing some outfield as well. Both players have elite potential in one specific tool (Gordon – speed, Van Slyke – power) and both are areas that the Mets can use help in.

Finally, I would also like to throw Josh Satin‘s name into the mix. I could see the Dodgers being very interested in doing a one for one, Van Slyke for Satin swap. The reasons being that their OF is full and 1B is manned by Adrian Gonzalez so their ability to effectively use Van Slyke is greatly reduced. However, Josh Satin, who is a Los Angeles native, has shown the ability to be useful off the bench, not only as a pinch hitter but also at multiple positions. Based on what we saw from Satin last year, I think he will have a fruitful career where he is most valuable as an utility player with potential to be a serviceable every day second baseman.

I am crossing my fingers that even if the Mets cannot work out a deal with Los Angeles for Andre Ethier, that they can at least work together to swap some players that both sides can use more effectively.

*Also, giving credit where due. A quick search shows that user Captain America previously suggested a Valdespin for Gordon trade.

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Are the Oakland A’s a Potential Trade Partner for the Mets? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/are-the-oakland-as-a-potential-trade-partner-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/are-the-oakland-as-a-potential-trade-partner-for-the-mets.html/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 20:32:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132738

There are two general managers in today’s game that pioneered the incorporation of the moneyball concept into the Major Leagues. One of them was a former marine who was the first to adopt into the then little known Bill Jame’s philosophy of advanced statistics, while the other was a one-time elite outfield prospect whose hobbies include breaking bats, throwing chairs and analyzing sabermetrics in his spare time. Neither of them cares about what you think.

Alderson is the former and the teacher of the latter, the Oakland A’s Billy Beane, and if there is another GM in the game that values third party input less than Sandy, it would be his protégé running the A’s.

Last winter, they worked together to swap reserve outfielder Collin Cowgill for third base prospect Jefry Marte. The move was low risk for both as Oakland was sporting a crowded outfield with the acquisition of Chris Young while the Mets gave up a marginal prospect with the upside of a replacement player. Cowgill was designated for assignment and was on a different team before the weather warmed up, while Marte put together a pedestrian year for Oakland’s Double-A affiliate.

This year, I think there is a chance for them to make a more impactful move. On the Mets end are two first basemen (Davis and Duda) with less popularity in Queens than Miley Cyrus at a proper etiquette class. Yet both have displayed enough potential that they may interest Oakland who has a need at the 1B/DH position.

Oakland’s current first baseman is Brandon Moss, who put together a strong offensive campaign (30 HR, .859 OPS). However, his WAR rating was weighed down heavily by his inability to field. In contrast, A’s right fielder Josh Reddick had a dreadful year at the plate but still ended up with a higher WAR rating than Moss.

2013 PA BA OBP OPS HR WAR
Brandon Moss 505 .256 .337 .859 30 2.2
Josh Reddick 441 .226 .307 .686 12 2.6

Their DH position was manned mostly by Seth Smith who is a non-tender candidate after an unimpressive season according to MLBTR. This makes me wonder if Billy Beane, who loves to buy low as much as any GM in baseball, would consider trading for Duda to be his DH or Davis to be his first baseman and slot Moss as his DH.

If the A’s do indeed have interest in either player, then the Mets can consider trading for LHP Brett Anderson. A former second round pick and top prospect, Anderson debuted with the A’s in 2009 and appeared well on his way to being a top of the rotation starter before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned in late 2012 and was impressive enough that the Kansas City Royals were rumored to be considering a deal involving Wil Myers for him. However, Anderson continued to battle injuries in 2013 and finished the season with a woeful 44 innings pitched and a 6.04 ERA.

His $8 million dollar option was picked up earlier this month with most speculating that he will be traded this offseason as the A’s will hold a full rotation when they presumably re-sign Bartolo Colon. If the Mets part with one half of the Double D tandem, then a swap for Anderson would be equivalent to trading for a different roll of dice for both teams, at positions that fit better with their respective needs. Brett Anderson is understandably a huge risk since he can no longer be optioned to Triple A if he falters early. My hope is that he can become serviceable and keep the Mets with a second mid rotation lefty if Niese gets hurt for whatever reason and a best case scenario of him becoming the rotation ace and worst case scenario that he is DFA’d when Montero/Thor are called up.

But Anderson isn’t the only name I am interested in. As someone who is coming around to the idea of pursuing Choo and believing the lure of playing in a highly populated Korean neighborhood is a major advantage for the Mets, I think it would be strategically beneficial for them to acquire an outfielder before negotiating with Boras as a way to increase their leverage and have a fall back option. A reasonable candidate from the A’s (if they are willing to trade him) would be Josh Reddick who appeared to have a breakout season in 2012, clubbing 32 homers while winning a gold glove. Last season, he regressed (likely due to a wrist injury) into a clone of Ike Davis at the plate but still managed to post a 2.6 WAR thanks to his superior defense.

The key to making a trade between these two teams is helped by each having multiple players that may interest the other team. In addition to filling out 1B/DH, the A’s are in market for a closer and 2B/SS as well.

Mets chips: Davis, Duda, Parnell, Black, Murphy, Tejada?, Valdespin?

A’s chips: Anderson, Reddick, Jemile Weeks

Most importantly, a Mets – A’s trade would take two GMs who do not care for convention and are willing to trade for players who do not appear to have immediate value. I believe Beane and Alderson have great respect for each other and that they can certainly find a high upside trade for both teams with the names above.

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Featured Post: Selling High & Buying Low – The Sandy Alderson Philosophy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-selling-high-buying-low-the-sandy-alderson-philosophy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/featured-post-selling-high-buying-low-the-sandy-alderson-philosophy.html/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:39:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131935 Over the last few seasons, Sandy Alderson has managed the team’s budget with an approach conservative enough to make the Republican party envious. Some love the strategy and some hate it but with each passing sub .500 season, his tactics are becoming increasingly questioned.

Most of the fan base understood the reasoning behind trading away Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey regardless of whether they were in favor of the trades or not. Many fans were frustrated that while prime time free agents and trade candidates were changing home addresses, the Mets were relegated to signing has-beens such as Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Shaun Marcum etc. I also would not doubt that when news of Jose Reyes taking his talents to South Beach made its ways around the Flushing faithful, a quarter of Mets nation temporarily quit their fanhood.

Unpopular as his moves are, I believe there is a positive angle we can all take from this. For the first time in recent memory, the Mets have a clean financial slate to work with. No Bobby Bonilla (sort of), no Mo Vaughn, no Oliver Perez, no Jason Bay. Many fans will point this out as reason enough to make a splash in the free agent waters. There are some intriguing names out there and if they are available for the right price, the Mets should not let past mistakes affect their current judgment.

However, due to a weak free agent class, I am inclined to believe that the price tags for any toys the Mets want this winter will likely not be worth the production they can receive from them. With Hunter Pence setting the market at 5 years/$90 million and Scott Boras representing both Choo and Ellsbury, Boras’ starting point for negotiations will certainly be north of $100 million.

Instead, I see Sandy Alderson continuing his march on the economical route, going after clubhouse veterans and acquiring players that may have fell out of favor with their current squads. I am a strong believer in the buy low theory - when you buy low your return could be significantly larger than your investment. A change in scenery and/or a team’s necessity to move surplus players can lead to some high potential rewards.

Here are some of the free agents Alderson’s assistants may present to him:

Rafael Furcal - SS

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Furcal missed the entire 2013 season. Known for his top tier defense before his injury, Furcal’s ability to perform on the field and at the plate is a huge question mark. Can he get play adequate defense and get on base at a serviceable .325 clip? I have not yet given up on Tejada but I am not sold on him either and Furcal may be the best option to motivate Ruben and serve as insurance for him as well.

David DeJesus - OF

(TBR team option 6.5 mil or 1.5 mil buyout) When the Cubs put Dejesus on waivers in August to shed his salary, the Nationals were the first in line on the waiver list. Figuring that contending AL teams would have interest in his services, the Nats claimed him and promptly traded him to Tampa Bay for Matthew Spann, a C/C+ prospect. Dejesus figures to be a quality 4th outfielder and may have mutual interest with the Mets if Captain Kirk or Matt Den Dekker is traded. Once again, the expectation here would be for Dejesus to provide some veteran leadership and insurance to a young outfield.

Curtis Granderson - OF

Only an injury season removed from back to back 40 HR campaigns, Granderson will hear some interesting sales pitches from just about every team. He will have plenty of offers. The Mets won’t have any advantage bidding for his services but it is not unreasonable to think that he may outperform Choo and Ellsbury next year for half the price.

John Lannan - LHSP

The Long Beach, NY native had mutual interest with the Mets last offseason after being non tendered by the Nationals. He eventually signed a one year deal with the Phillies where he pitched inconsistently throughout an injury riddled year. Before the Nats bought up and bought in their influx of young pitching talent, Lannan was their top starter in 2011. I believe he still has a chip on his shoulder for being left off their opening day rotation just a year later and I would be more than happy to provide Lannan an opportunity to make the Mets team and disperse his rage onto his former teams.

Jason Marquis - RHSP

Another New York product, I believe the Mets were also in discussion with Marquis following the 2011 season. Nothing much has changed since then. He still eats innings and he still pitches as inconsistently as the outcome on a roulette table. Considering the Mets just need to stall till June when two of Montero, Degrom, Mazzoni, Syndergaard, Verrett are ready, Marquis may be the most ideal option as he has experience working as a long man out of the pen as well.

Keep in mind, these should not be the only players that the Mets should seek this offseason, but rather players that could make sense as discount signings.

In my humble opinion, the Mets have too many question marks entering the 2014 season for any acquisitions they make to automatically elevate them to contenders. Other than David Wright, Daniel Murphy and maybe Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, the Mets really have no idea how their players will perform next year. The time to make a splash is when your team has a core that is solid, and when the circumstances allow for it. As of now, I would say neither of those apply. The Mets’ core is far from established and the market conditions are far from friendly. So for the time being, I’m in favor of Alderson being a Scrooge for just another season.

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