Mets Merized Online » Mets News & Notes http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Hitting Coach Update: Yankees Tell Magadan He Didn’t Get The Job http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/hitting-coach-update-yankees-tell-magadan-he-didnt-get-the-job.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/hitting-coach-update-yankees-tell-magadan-he-didnt-get-the-job.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:04:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167977 dave magadan

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that Dave Magadan, who was a finalist for the Yankees’ hitting coach job, was informed he did not get the position and that the Yankees and are looking elsewhere.

That makes Magadan the frontrunner for Oakland’s open hitting coach job, Slusser says, particularly with Chili Davis having accepted the Red Sox position and leaving the A’s with the vacancy. Magadan told Slusser he has “had some conversations” with A’s general manager Billy Beane.

The Mets also have talked to Magadan, but as I pointed out last week and you can read below, there’s no chance of that happening given the history between Magadan and Alderson.

Kevin Long is still a possibility, but since last week several more teams have joined the hunt for his services including the Braves, Blue Jays, Brewers, Pirates and Diamondbacks.

October 16

According to what Dave Magadan told NJ.com, he got the sense that neither the Yankees or Mets are in any rush to fill their vacant hitting coach positions. ”I don’t think either one of them is in a huge hurry to make any choices.”

George King and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, first reported that the former Met had been contacted by the Mets, telling them that talks were very preliminary.

This evening a reader emailed me to say that Magadan and Sandy Alderson actually have a history, and not particularly a good one. Sandy fired Magadan when the two were together in San Diego.

After a stint as the Padres’ minor league hitting instructor, Magadan was promoted to the big-league staff a year later as hitting coach for manager Bruce Bochy.

“I’d met with Sandy two weeks before, and he was like, ‘You’re doing a great job. Whatever you need — videotape, whatever it is you need that you feel will enhance what you want to do — let us know, we’ll get it for you.’

“Two weeks later, I was driving home…I don’t even remember what I said. I was in such shock.”

Manager Bruce Bochy was upset and angered by the move. He stormed into the team clubhouse to tell his players that Magadan had just been fired and that he had no part in the decision. That didn’t sit well with team brass.

After being granted permission to look for another opportunity, Bochy left the Padres with one year remaining on his contract to become the manager of the San Francisco Giants.

At the time Magadan was fired, the Padres, played in pitching-friendly Petco Park, were just one game out of first place in the NL West.

Merv Rettenmund replaced Magadan as the Padres hitting coach, but he too was fired mid-season just under a year later. Wally Joyner took over as the new hitting coach, but resigned 14 months later citing a difference in hitting philosophy with Sandy Alderson.

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Mets, Yankees Prospects Finding Common Ground In Arizona http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-yankees-prospects-finding-common-ground-in-arizona.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-yankees-prospects-finding-common-ground-in-arizona.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:05:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168292 brandon-nimmo-2It seems odd to think of a Yankees hitting coach working with an up and coming Mets hitter, but when young prospects arrive from around the country to play baseball in the Arizona Fall League, that’s just what happens. Both New York teams have sent a battery of players to Arizona and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve been spending a great deal of time together.

The Mets have sent Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, L.J. Mazzilli, Cory Mazzoni, Paul Sewald, Rob Whalen and Julian Hilario, while the Yankees are represented by Dante Bichette Jr., Caleb Cotham, Branden Pinder, Alex Smith, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge.

These “New Yorkers” are now mingling in ways that they will never be able to again.

In a New York Times piece over the weekend, Tim Rohan described the atmosphere as almost fraternity like.

The Scottsdale Scorpions’ clubhouse is divided into five sections, one for each group of top prospects. On any given day, you may find the San Francisco Giants playing cards in one corner, the Mets lounging and keeping to themselves in their corner, and across the room, in the Yankees’ corner, Mazzilli freestyle rapping with Bichette Jr. and a few others.

Clearly it’s an eclectic group. Nimmo described one obvious cause of the relaxed atmosphere. “Nobody’s job is on the line here,” he said, pointing to the obvious pressures of the regular season, even in the minor leagues.

Nimmo also described Yankees batting coach P. J. Pilittere as throwing some of the best batting practice he’s experienced. “It’s firm, realistic,” Nimmo said. “He’s consistent.” Pilittere has worked with Reynolds and Mazzilli, as well as Nimmo on their approach at the plate. With so many Mets and Yankees in one place, it’s easy to see where the camaraderie comes from, at least until spring.mmo footer

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(Updated) Red Sox Likely Trading Yoenis Cespedes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/updated-red-sox-likely-trading-yoenis-cespedes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/updated-red-sox-likely-trading-yoenis-cespedes.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:23:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168271 yoenis cespedes

Updated at 1:00 PM

MLBTR reports that  Yoenis Cespedes has switched agencies and is now being represented by Roc Nation Sports.  Cespedes had previously been represented by Adam Katz of WMG.

As I said, there’s little chance that Cespedes signs an extension with any team and rest assured he’ll be a free agent after the 2015 season.

Original Post 10:00 AM

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears that the Red Sox will likely make Yoenis Cespedes available this offseason.

Cespedes is in the final year of his deal and will earn $10.2 million in 2015. He appears intent on becoming a free agent and was standoffish on engaging in long-term talks with the Red Sox.

Cafardo adds that Cespedes has no desire to play right field or work on his defense, which is likely fueling Boston’s desire to deal him, especially with a glut of outfielders and Mookie Betts close to an everyday outfield job.

cespedes stats

Hey, I don’t have a problem with Cespedes, but I live in the real world. I’m not buying the buzz that there’s any Mets interest here, especially when you consider the prospects we’d have to give up for what’s essentially a one-year rental.

And in the extremely remote possibility that Cespedes would sign an extension, in what alternate universe will the Mets have the resources to add another $100 million dollar player when they already have David Wright and Curtis Granderson set to earn $36 million combined annually for the next three years?

I just don’t see it.

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Jacob deGrom Named Sporting News Rookie Of The Year http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/jacob-degrom-named-sporting-news-rookie-of-the-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/jacob-degrom-named-sporting-news-rookie-of-the-year.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:22:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168279 jacob degrom

Mets rookie starting pitcher Jacob deGrom is considered the heavy favorite to win the 2014 NL Rookie Of the Year award. This was further verified today when the Sporting News announced the results of their annual player’s poll which is released prior to the official award.

I’ll give you the skinny on deGrom’s season, but most of you know the numbers by now.

DeGrom had 22 starts for the Mets this season and pitched 140 1/3 innings to the tune of a 2.69 ERA. Among all starting pitchers with at least 100 innings of work, deGrom ranked 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (9.24) and xFIP (3.03).

“I’m very honored to receive this prestigious award,” deGrom told the Sporting News.

“My teammates were a huge reason for my success. Individual honors are nice but what excites me the most is looking forward to next year and helping the Mets reach the postseason.”

As the Sporting News notes, deGrom was pitching lights out over his last few starts and ended the season on an upward trend. This not only bodes well for next year’s expectations, but also makes the 26 year old Florida native a clear frontrunner for the official award which is announced on November 10th by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Mets and J.P. Ricciardi Working On Extension Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-and-j-p-ricciardi-working-on-extension-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-and-j-p-ricciardi-working-on-extension-deal.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:56:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168222 ricciardi

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Mets are working on an extension deal to keep J.P. Ricciardi as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson. The two worked together for 12 years with the Oakland Athletics.

Prior to joining the Mets, Ricciardi previously served as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 until he was fired in 2009 and replaced by Alex Anthopoulos.

Ricciardi is considered by most to be the heir apparent to Alderson once he retires or steps down.

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Mets Will Square Off With Yankees During Spring http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-will-square-off-with-yankees-during-spring.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-will-square-off-with-yankees-during-spring.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:24:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168299 Curtis Granderson - Jeff Roberson-Associated PressFor the first time since 2012, the Mets and Yankees will face each other during Spring Training this year. While the Mets spring training schedule has not been released yet, the Yankees have released there schedule and it features a “Subway Series” matchup down south.

The Yankees will visit Port St. Lucie on March 22nd and the Mets will play in Tampa on March 25th.mmo footer

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Mets Have Drafted Highest Percentage Of High School Players http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-drafted-highest-percentage-of-high-school-players.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-drafted-highest-percentage-of-high-school-players.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:07:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168218 brandon-nimmo-2

According to a new report by Baseball America, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and its bonus pools have created incentives for teams to select high school players early in the draft before spending less in the back half of the top 10 rounds.

They write that 2014 was the most aggressive use of that strategy in the three years under the current CBA.

Nearly half of the high school players drafted in the top 10 rounds (47.1 percent) went in the top two rounds. Leading this trend are the New York Mets.

“No team had high school players comprise a higher percentage of their draft signings than the Mets (35.7 percent), who signed the second-most high school players of any team (10).”

“While more than half of the (57.7 percent) of all high school players that signed were drafted in the top 10 rounds, the Mets drafted all but two of their prep players after the 10th round (third-round shortstop Milton Ramos and eighth-round first baseman Dash Winningham), signing many of them to bonuses exceeding $100,000 such as righthanders Erik Manoah and Gabe Llanes, outfielder Raphael Ramirez and shortstop Dale Burdick. There were 60 prep players who signed after the 10th round, and the Mets drafted eight of them (13.3 percent).”

Actually, the Mets have concentrated most of their top selections on high school players over their last four drafts under Sandy Alderson. And unlike other teams, they have yet to see any of their draft selections debut yet in the majors. However, many of them are highly regarded as prospects.

That should change in 2015 with the expected debut of college catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, and Adam Rubin believes that if everything breaks right, we could see the first high school prospect selected by the Mets, Brandon Nimmo, in September.

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Mets Road Splits Go To The Heart Of The Matter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-road-splits-go-to-the-heart-of-the-matter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-road-splits-go-to-the-heart-of-the-matter.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 05:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167993 Mets

The New York Mets have seemingly struggled offensively over the last several years, prompting fans to call for better hitters, and more offense. I know I certainly have. The Mets front office has sometimes responded by signing free agent sluggers like Jason Bay and current Met Curtis Granderson. Two players that both had previously produced near MVP seasons before signing with the Mets. The results have been disappointing to say the least, if not disastrous in Bay’s case.

Why have these sluggers struggled to hit in a Mets uniform? Did they forget how to hold the bat? Have they forgotten to identify the little red dot that appears on the ball when the pitcher throws a slider? Did they lose their bat speed to the point they could no longer catch up to a fastball?

Most likely, it’s none of those particular factors that led to their rapid offensive decline. They both came from AL East teams that play the majority of their games in band boxes like Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, The Rogers Centre in Toronto, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And yes, switching leagues can oftentimes lead to some unfamiliarity among the opposing pitchers. But after taking a look at some of the current Mets road splits this season, it seems as though the problem with Granderson, at least, is the field which he calls home.

Curtis - Granderson

Granderson finished up his inaugural Mets season with some seemingly pedestrian numbers, batting .227 with a .326 on-base and .388 slugging percentage in 654 plate appearances. He was good for 27 doubles, 20 home runs and 66 RBI, but his .714 OPS was an 11-year career low, far below his .830 OPS average in his previous four seasons.

Although the lack of RBIs can be attributed to batting leadoff for the majority of the season. Believe it or not, Granderson’s season graded out as slightly above average with the league wide void of offense. The following numbers are very telling of the effects of Citi Field on Granderson in 2014

Home: .195 AVG, .290 OBP, .340 SLG, 16 2B, 7 HR, 26 RBI, .630 OPS

Road: .261 AVG, .360 OBP, .436 SLG, 11 2B, 13 HR, 40 RBI, .797 OPS

Quite a stark contrast on the road from the numbers he produced at home, and almost twice as many longballs.

No one in their right mind expected Granderson to put up the same gaudy power numbers that he posted in his former home park in the Bronx. A ballpark that even turned Eric Young Jr. into a power hitter for at least one night last May, when he blasted a ball several rows deep into the right field seats.

In a fair home park, it stands to reason that Grandy would’ve probably had between 25-30 home runs this season. His road numbers were actually really impressive compared to the rest of the NL that played a similar schedule away from their home park.

Granderson was a road warrior for the Mets. His 13 road home runs were good for 6th in the NL and tied with none other than Giancarlo Stanton. His 40 RBI, with most of his AB coming right after the pitchers spot, was in the top 15. And he also ranked 13th in runs scored with 42 and 3rd in walks with 45. Granderson was quite a different player on the road than what we saw from him at Citi Field this season.

lucas duda

Only five NL players had more homers on the road this season than Granderson, and one of those five was teammate Lucas Duda, who had more away home runs than all NL hitters with the exception of the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo.

Duda finished the 2014 season with 16 HR away from the unfriendly confines and was quite the road warrior as well, posting a .275/.365/.496 slash with 49 RBI and a .861 OPS.

Those numbers were good for second in home runs and RBI on the road. Considering his struggles against LHP in 2014, there are very few hitters in baseball that fared better versus right-handed pitching than Lucas Duda. Fortunately for the Mets, the big man can hit it out of any stadium, but it sure seems like he lost at least a handful of round trippers in the early part of the season with the wind blowing in at Citi Field in April, May and the early part of June, particularly in the vicinity of right and right-center.

daniel murphy

Duda and Grandy weren’t the only hitters that had increased production away from Citi Field, as Daniel Murphy led the NL in hits on the road, and was the only player in the NL that topped the century mark with 103 base-knocks. Freddie Freeman and Buster Posey finished in a tie for second with 95. Here’s Murphy’s 2014 road stats which are quite impressive:

.322 AVG, .359 OBP, .447 SLG, 21 2B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, .805 OPS

Among all NL hitters with at least 200 road AB, only Buster Posey (.348), and Juan Uribe (.333) had a higher batting average, and only Jonathan Lucroy (34), Adrian Gonzalez (23), and Freddie Freeman (22) had more doubles than Murph.

That level of offensive production from second base, in the current offensive drought that the league is suffering through, is pretty close to irreplaceable. Murphy certainly looked much better defensively at third base, but that’s another story altogether. For yet another comparison, Robinson Cano slashed at .314/.382/.454 for the year.

kitk nieuwenhuis

Travis d’Arnaud (.757 OPS), Eric Campbell (.729), Anthony Recker and EYJ. all fared better on the road, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.975) and Dilson Herrera (1.060) absolutely crushed the ball on the road, albeit, in a limited number of AB. The difference is astounding however, as Kirk had an OPS of .643 at home, and Herrera had pitcher like offensive numbers at Citi with a .326 OPS, again, small sample size.

The 2014 Mets were second on the road, trailing only the star-studded Dodgers, in hits, runs, walks, batting average, and OBP.

They finished third in doubles and RBI behind the Dodgers, and likely NL Champion San Francisco Giants, 4th in OPS and SB, and 7th in HR and OBP on the road, finishing just one HR behind the Colorado Rockies. In short, the Mets were one of the best offensive teams in the National League on the road.

The aforementioned numbers also include some unsightly numbers that our pitchers contributed at the plate – numbers which were historically bad and almost unfathomable.

The Mets played the entire first month of the season without getting a single hit from a pitcher. Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon combined to go 3-for-100 at the plate this season. That is not a typo. That’s right, they hit .030.

Mejia, Matsuzaka, Montero and Torres, unbelievably, were worse, as they contributed ZERO hits in 44 trips to the plate. That’s 3-for-144 (.021 Avg). Even for pitchers, that’s unheard of.

Conversely, the Mets hit .224 in their home park, easily worst in the NL, and only the wildly underachieving Braves and punchless Padres scored less runs than the Mets did at home.

So maybe bringing in the fences is a reasonably good idea. I think our current crop of hitters aren’t nearly as bad as the overall numbers suggest. It stands to reason that if the Mets were at or near the top of almost every offensive category on the road when compared to teams that played similar schedules and under similar conditions, that Citi Field is doing more damage to our offense than the opposing pitchers they are facing. The evidence suggests that bringing in the fences, specifically in right and right-center, is a no-brainer. Thanks for reading and Lets Go Mets.

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Miracle Mets Still A Sore Spot For Frank Robinson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/miracle-mets-still-a-sore-spot-for-frank-robinson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/miracle-mets-still-a-sore-spot-for-frank-robinson.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 04:31:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168212 gal-shea-seaver-8-jpg

“It’s always good planning to have a baseball in the dugout with shoe polish on it, just in case.”

That is the expression coined following the infamous Shoe Polish incident, when in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, Cleon Jones hit the deck to evade a Dave McNally pitch that skidded into the Mets dugout, only to be retrieved by Mets skipper Gil Hodges to reveal a smudge of shoe polish, awarding Jones first base. The next batter Donn Clendenon would smash a two-run homer leading to a Mets victory and eventually winning their first World Series title in franchise history.

The incident capped off one of most incredible World Series upsets in baseball history. The Miracle Mets, more commonly known as the “Lovable Losers” since their inception, needed just five games to best Earl Weaver‘s 109-win Baltimore Orioles and become champions.

I spoke to one of those mighty 1969 Orioles about this controversial moment in Mets history when I was covering the MLB Draft for MMO. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson did not hesitate to speak his mind on the subject when I broached it with him.

“It had to be a trick,” said Robinson. “People forget the length of time that ball went into the dugout before Gil Hodges brought it out to show it to the umpire.”

“That ball didn’t go into the dugout with black shoe polish on it, but it came out with black shoe polish on it,” he said.

Several different Met accounts have come out over the years including Ron Swoboda claiming that the pitch hit an open bag of balls, spilling identical baseballs all over the dugout, one of which Gil picked up that had a black mark on it.

Of the most recent claims was Jerry Koosman, who in 2009 stated that Hodges instructed him to rub the ball on his shoe, however neither accounts put to rest whether the pitch actually hit Jones, a truth that will likely never be known for sure.

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Although even if Jones wasn’t awarded first base in Game 5, Robinson doesn’t believe it would have made all that great of a difference in the outcome of the game or the series.

“The Mets deserved to win, they did what they had to to win,” said Robinson. “I still watch it on classic sports and I still don’t believe we lost.”

Like Robinson, many were in shock at the fact that the lowly New York Mets, just seven years into existence, stood atop the baseball world. After their improbable comeback to beat out the Chicago Cubs for the division crown, they had an even greater upset of the Orioles and the ‘Bird’s Big Four’ in stunning fashion. Robinson recalls what he found most impressive about the Mets in that series.

“They got contributions from everybody, the little guys we used to call them, and they did what they had to do,” said Robinson almost begrudgingly. “They also had some great pitching.”

Despite his high praise of the team, it was clear that the Miracle Mets to this day are still not Robinson’s favorite subject as he brought the conversation of the Amazin’s to an abrupt close.

“That’s all I’ve got to say about ‘69.”

The legend of the 1969 Mets lives on to this day as one of the greatest Cinderella stories in the game’s history, who with the help of a little shoe-polished baseball, were able to put National League baseball in New York back on the map with their first World Series title.

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How Valuable Is Juan Lagares? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/how-valuable-is-juan-lagares.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/how-valuable-is-juan-lagares.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:00:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167896 juan lagares scores b&w

Mark Simon of ESPN New York, does a very nice job of analyzing the first full season of center fielder Juan Lagares, who he says was arguably the Mets’ most valuable player or at the very least one of their top three. I agree.

Offensively, Lagares’ progression was a product of two things: increasing his line-drive rate from 19 percent to 22 percent and spraying the ball across the whole field. But adds that there’s still plenty of room for growth and improvement, particularly with his strike zone judgement.

I was very excited with how Lagares progressed in 2014, and was most impressed to see him finally using his speed to steal 13 bases, 11 of them in the second half when he was finally given the green light.

Something I think gets very little attention is just how tremendous Lagares is against left-handed pitching, who he torched with a .349 batting average, .488 slugging percentage, and an incredible .875 OPS.

Defensively, what can you say about Lagares that hasn’t been said already. According to Simon, you could make the case that Lagares is the most impactful outfielder in the game, already amassing 56 Defensive Runs Saved in his first season and a half in the majors. Wow…

“Lagares has garnered such a good reputation that opponents are now afraid to challenge him. Even Ben Revere, one of the fastest players in the majors, declined to try to score from second base on a base hit to deep center.”

“For anyone who underestimates the value of his defense, just ask his starting pitchers what they think,” said one major league scout. “Anyone who doesn’t think he’s terrific isn’t paying attention.”

juan lagares

My favorite part of his article was when he and his colleagues tackled the issue of Lagares’ WAR as compared to MVP candidates Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. God knows that has been hotly debated on MMO many times.

Here is just a small sampling:

Jeff Gold: ”Lagares is one of the most unique players in baseball. He doesn’t hit for power, doesn’t walk, doesn’t steal that many bases (13), and yet he’s one of the best players in the game. His defense is a game-changer.”

Paul Hembekides: “Where does Juan Lagares rank among center fielders? Not in the top five [so not an All-Star], but still in the second tier of players above [or well above] league average. And in terms of all position players? I could name 50 I’d rather have than Juan Lagares.”

Mark Simon is one of the best baseball analysts and writers in the game today. And this particular piece is packed with so much more information that you should really read the full article here.

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Astros Name Dave Hudgens New Hitting Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/astros-name-dave-hudgens-new-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/astros-name-dave-hudgens-new-hitting-coach.html/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 06:13:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168140 dave hudgensAccording to beat writer Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Houston Astros have hired Dave Hudgens as the team’s hitting coach. He joins Gary Pettis as third base coach, and Rich Dauer as first base coach as part of new manager A.J. Hinch’s coaching staff.

Hudgens was fired as the Mets’ hitting coach in the middle of this season and was replaced by Lamar Johnson, who was also relieved of his duties by the Mets after the season.

After Hudgens was told he was out, he didn’t go quietly,  heavily criticizing Mets ownership, low payroll, and even the SNY broadcast team of Gary, Keith and Ron.

He insinuated that the lack of results on offense wasn’t him but not having the payroll to afford better hitters.

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15 Years Later, The Grand Slam Single Still Endures http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/15-years-later-the-grand-slam-single-still-endures.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/15-years-later-the-grand-slam-single-still-endures.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:44:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168114 robin ventura

One of the players I most enjoyed covering was Robin Ventura for those two years he played for the Yankees. In a clubhouse full of stars and egos, Ventura was a voice of calm, reason and humorous relief.

I enjoyed stopping by his locker to shoot the breeze for a minute or two, talking about things other than baseball. Very smart, clever and possessing an insight on numerous issues. When there was the inevitable blow up or moment of absurdity, Ventura was always there to put it into perspective with a quip as short and hard-hitting as his swing.

Once I asked him about his fight with Nolan Ryan, and his response was he knew he had made a mistake halfway out to the mound, but couldn’t turn around. You’ll even notice in the video he slowed down.

Was it an embarrassing moment? Yes, but years later he handled it with humor. He even joined with Ryan to autograph photos of the brawl.

When I covered the Orioles and he was with the White Sox, I’d make time to go over to his clubhouse for a few moments. He was accessible to anybody who would take the time to ask a question.

Ventura loved his time with Mets which included the 2000 NL Championship and of course the World Series loss to the Yankees.

“It was a great time,” said Ventura, who played for the Mets from 1999-2001. “We enjoyed it as a family just being there. The Mets were very good to me. There’s part of it going back, seeing a lot of faces that you’re friends with and happy to see.”

robin ventura grand slam single

His signature moment as a Met will always be the Grand Slam Single which happened 15 years ago today. It’s a a great memory and one that still gives many Mets fans goosebumps.

That night is one of the greatest team displays of enthusiasm outside of winning a championship I have ever seen. That, and the Piazza post 9-11 homer. Both were amazing to watch.

Ventura wasn’t a five-tool player, but was consistent and clutch. With a runner in scoring position you wanted him at the plate because he’d usually make contact.

Ventura was a .267 lifetime hitter and only once hit over .300, that being .301 in 1999, his first season with the Mets. Considering his 66-game hitting streak in college, I always wondered if he thought he should have hit for a higher average. He also hit 32 homers with a career-high 120 RBI in his first year with the Mets.

What the Mets wouldn’t give for a player with that production now.

Ventura had three solid years with the Mets, who, during that span had arguably one of the best defensive infields in history. Few balls got by Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and John Olerud.

Both Olerud and Ventura would later play for the Yankees. When they left the Yankees, I always believed I’d see both of them again managing in a major league dugout. I’m still waiting on Olerud.

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Las Vegas 51′s George Greer Hired By Cardinals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/las-vegas-51s-george-greer-hired-by-cardinals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/las-vegas-51s-george-greer-hired-by-cardinals.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 23:14:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168072 george greerLas Vegas 51′s hitting coach George Greer has been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals a source told ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin this evening. It is not yet known what position Greer will hold with the Cardinals.

Former major leaguer John Mabry is currently the Cardinals hitting coach and was recently praised by manager Mike Matheny.

“John Mabry seemed to take a lot of heat as we were pushing through the season” he told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com earlier this month.

“Some of those results weren’t there, which is really ridiculous. Fortunately, he stayed with what he knew was right, and the guys continued to work to improve and nobody was doing the major overhauls, like we were talking about, for no reason, just to appease people in the outside.”

Greer has spent eight seasons with the Mets and just finished his second year as the AAA hitting instructor. He previously served in other positions within the system at lower levels.

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MMO Mailbag: Will Mets Strikeout At Hitting Coach? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-strikeout-at-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-strikeout-at-hitting-coach.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167967 travis d'arnaud hr

Alex asks…

Do you have a personal favorite for the next Mets hitting coach and who do you think they’ll ultimately go with?

Joe D. replies…

I don’t really have a favorite to be quite honest. I’ve shared my pros and cons on Bobby Abreu, Kevin Long and most recently Dave Magadan. But the fact of the matter is I don’t really care which way Sandy Alderson goes. In the grand scheme of things, a hitting coach is item number 150 on things that really matter this offseason.

The Mets already have an organizational hitting philosophy and regardless of whom they choose as their next hitting coach, rest assured that he’ll be on board and lockstep with that philosophy.

The philosophy is a sound one based on a fundamental approach that many of the game’s best hitters have always used. Being selective at the plate, making good contact, and understanding that you’ll do more damage hitting pitches in the zone is nothing new. It’s common sense.

The problem for the Mets has been a failure to deliver that message. Dave Hudgens over-complicated everything and never connected with the players who just wanted to go to the plate and hit. He was unable to reach most of them and eventually they all just tuned him out.

Perhaps Travis d’Arnaud was the one who helped usher in Hudgens’ ouster. When asked to explain his turnaround after a demotion to the minors, he said he needed to get all the noise out of his head and go back to basics.

What the Mets need is someone personable who can connect with the team. Someone who could simplify the organizational philosophy and not burden the hitters with weekly spray charts and tons of scientific data. It’s not a science to them, it’s a game.

While the Mets are on the hunt to increase home run output at home and overall, I hope they don’t forget that what they need most is disciplined contact hitters who can hit the ball with authority and to all fields.

They also need a communicator who can teach the basics of situational hitting. Our players need to understand the importance of advancing runners and getting them home from third. Strikeouts are never productive, but a well placed grounder or a deep fly with a runner on third and less than two outs is. Hopefully our next hitting coach will be able to do a better job of delivering that message and getting the team to buy in.

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Could Mets Payroll Top $90 Million? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/could-mets-payroll-top-90-million.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/could-mets-payroll-top-90-million.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:29:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167880 wilpon alderson

Adam Rubin of ESPN tried to answer a question that Mets fans have been wondering since halfway through the 2014 season this afternoon. What will the 2015 payroll be?

There are only four players with guaranteed contracts. They are David Wright ($20 million), Curtis Granderson ($16 million), Bartolo Colon ($11 million) and Jonathon Niese ($7 million). That’s it. So the other 21 spots on the roster will be filled with players that are either arbitration eligible or not currently under contract.

Rubin estimated the arbitration numbers for the eight players that are eligible. Daniel Murphy led the way with a raise to Daniel Murphy $8.5 million from $5.7. Lucas Duda also gets a big raise to $5 million from $1.6375. The estimated arbitration payroll comes to $28.55 million for those eight players.

Adding the arbitration players to the guys already under contract, brings you to a payroll of $82.55 million for 12 players.

“There are 13 other players required to fill out a 25-man roster. Let’s say they all make close to the major league minimum in 2015, which will be adjusted upward modestly from this year’s $500,000 figure based on a cost of living calculation. That’s a total of at least $6.5 million.”

Rubin added that Mets officials previously have said they always add another $4.5 million or so to account for things such as more than 25 players on the payroll at any given time because of DL, etc.

So when you add that $11 million to the $82.55 million it puts the estimated Mets payroll at $93.55 million before they sign or add any new players.

Of course, you can’t ignore statements by Sandy Alderson who has said a few times not to expect a spike in payroll. I guess we’ll all know more as the offseason progresses.

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Tejada, Young, Carlyle Could Each Be Non-Tendered http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/tejada-young-carlyle-could-each-be-non-tendered.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/tejada-young-carlyle-could-each-be-non-tendered.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:30:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167932 ruben tejada

MLB Trade Rumors posted their offseason outlook for the Mets including projected arbitration awards for nine eligible players.

Arbitration Eligible Player Projections

That totals $30.5 million in arbitration eligible players. They project that Buddy Carlyle, Ruben Tejada and Eric Young Jr. will be non-tendered this winter. If that happens each will become a free agent and be able to sign with a new team or with the Mets for less money. Everyone but Parnell, who will likely earn the same salary after spending the season on the disabled list, is getting a sizable raise with Murphy topping the list.

MLBTR concludes that after a long time, 2015 could finally represent the start of a period of contention for the Mets, but it will still require some careful handling to actually get there with the little wiggle room they have to address remaining concerns. They add that Sandy Alderson now has many of the cards that he set out to find; but all that remains is for him to actually play them. In other words use the team’s strength in pitching depth to address the underlying issues on offense.

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Things I’ve Learned About Kevin Long http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/things-ive-learned-about-kevin-long.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/things-ive-learned-about-kevin-long.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 01:05:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167893 Kevin long cage

With all the talk about the Mets considering Kevin Long to fill the Mets vacant hitting coach position, I decided to spend an hour researching him and learning what this former Yankee is all about. I learned some things along the way and thought I’d share some of them with you.

Long Is Very Confident

“If you’re going to fix somebody’s swing, you better know what you’re doing because you’re putting your name and reputation on the line. One of the criticisms I heard was how I could teach this caliber of player when I never played at this level. That doesn’t matter. It matters what kind of educator and teacher I am that I can get these guys to compete at an optimal level.”

Long Is A Hard Worker

“There’s always three things that I think are going to put you above anybody else as a coach. First of all, work ethic. No one is going to outwork me. No one is going to put in more time. That’s number one because the players see that.

Number two is knowledge. I’ve got to be very knowledgeable about what I do. Drill work, what adjustments I make with these guys… I have to know what makes good hitters good. I’ve done my homework. I’ve studied. I’ve taken Barry Bonds’ swing and broken it down into the finest details. And that’s how I started with my philosophy.

The third part—and if you don’t have this, you might as well pack it in as a hitting coach— is you’d better be personable. You’d better have people skills.”

About the Home Run Drill

“You never know if it’s going to catch on,” Long said. “You’re trying to help players become as consistent as possible. When you see guys have a lot of success with a certain drill, you keep it around. And it’s just one of those drills where I’ve seen numerous people throughout my career get better and better with it.”

The drill is intended to build muscle memory and teach players to consistently pull the ball for power.

Long Goes Above and Beyond

“I went to the Dominican Republic to work with Robinson Cano. Did the Yankees pay for that? Did Robinson Cano pay for that? You know who paid for that? Kevin Long paid for that….It wasn’t the Yankees saying go. I went in order for me to be a good instructor. You know what Robinson Cano thinks of me? He thinks I’m the greatest guy in the world…And as I do that, and as we go through a season where there’s struggles and this and that, he now feels he can lean on me, and we can lean on each other and that part can get you over the hump.”

Carlos Pena on Kevin Long

“You can know it all, but if you don’t know how to share it with your players, then the knowledge is lost. His strength is not actually all he knows, but how he teaches, how he can relate to a single player and make the player comfortable and confident and make the player trust him. Regardless of the stage or the level of the hitter, they start to feel they are the best in the world without ever even realizing it.”

Hope you enjoyed this and that you learned a little bit more about Kevin Long that you didn’t know already. These quotes were courtesy of ESPN, the New York Times, Hardball Magazine and Fox Sports.

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Mets Have Considered Dave Magadan For Hitting Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-considered-dave-magadan-for-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-considered-dave-magadan-for-hitting-coach.html/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:38:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167884 dave magadanAccording to a report filed by George King and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, former Met Dave Magadan has been contacted by both the Mets and Yankees about their vacant hitting coach positions.

When asked about the Yankee position, Magadan said this: “I have been called about that, it’s in the preliminary stages and that’s all I can say about it.” When he was asked about the Mets, he said, “Same thing, preliminary phone calls to see if I had interest.’’

The current Rangers hitting coach is under contract through 2015 but because of the ongoing manager search, all of the coaches are being granted the opportunity to search for other opportunities. “They are letting all their coaches, under contract or not, talk to other teams because of the manager situation,’’ Magadan said.

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Matz Places 4th On The Eastern League Top 20 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/matz-places-4th-on-the-eastern-league-top-20.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/matz-places-4th-on-the-eastern-league-top-20.html/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:25:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167872 steve matz

Today Baseball America released the Eastern League top 20. Michael Taylor of the Nationals topped the list with a fantastic campaign and three Mets made the cut. Steven Matz, coming off a stellar year was rewarded with a #4 in the top 20. Dilson Herrera was behind him in the 12th spot, performing exceptionally well after being bumped up to Double-A and torching the league. After that was Kevin Plawecki, who was an excellent offensive catcher this season for the B-Mets and was promoted to Triple-A halfway through the season.

Here is what Baseball America had to say about each of them:

4. Steve Matz, LHP, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 23. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—East Setauket, N.Y., 2009 (2).

After missing two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2010-11 and getting his feet wet in 2012, Matz looked sharp last year at low Class A Savannah, and then built on that strong year in high Class A St. Lucie in the first half of 2014 and with Binghamton in the second.

Tall and strong with a loose arm and a clean delivery, Matz’s fastball sits comfortably between 93-95 mph and can touch as high as 97 when he needs it. The pitch also features sinking action. He complements it first and foremost with a circle changeup thrown in the mid-80s with excellent fade and separation from his fastball.

The separator this year, however, has been the development of the curveball, a 12-6 breaker that has gotten much more consistent under the tutelage of pitching coach Glenn Abbott. It’s still his third pitch, but it’s got the makings of at least an average major league offering in the future. If that happens, Matz has a ceiling as lofty as a No. 2 starter.

12. Dilson Herrera, 2B/SS, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 150. Signed: Colombia, 2010 (Pirates).

The prize in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last season, Herrera has so far looked to be a coup for the Mets after performing well in both high Class A St. Lucie and Binghamton this season.

Much like Mets starter Daniel Murphy, Herrera receives most of his positive marks for his bat. He’s an aggressive hitter with a short, compact swing and the potential for double-digit home run power in the future. He went deep 13 times in the minors this season, and then swatted two more in his first few games in the big leagues.

Herrera plays serviceable defense at second base with fringy range and actions that are sometimes stiff.

He’s not a liability out there and has the work ethic to make himself into at least an average defender as he matures. His arm is a little short at this point but got better as the year progressed and should continue to do so as he gets stronger.

14. Kevin Plawecki, C, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Purdue, 2012 (1s).

An offensive catcher who makes a ton of contact, Plawecki divides as to whether he’s the Mets’ backstop of the future or whether that job still belongs to the incumbent Travis d’Arnaud.

Plawecki is blessed with strong hands and has a solid approach at the plate, which he used to strike out just 48 times in 376 at-bats between Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He keeps the barrel in the zone a long time and shows solid power in batting practice, despite hitting just 11 home runs in the regular season.

As a receiver, Plawecki has work to do. Scouts find him to be average as a receiver and a blocker and believe he tends to stab rather than sway when catching.

His footwork needs to be streamlined and his arm stroke shortened. His arm rates as solid-average at best, and he threw out just 23 percent of basestealers in two stops this season.

Just a few thoughts:

The Baseball America staff got a couple things wrong on Dilson Herrera which were that he hit three home runs this year, not two. He also has some pretty good range, but his hands are a little stiff. These are things he can work on this year in the Dominican Winter League.

Keep in mind that with these writers, they are just that, writers. They get fed information from scouts inside and outside the organizations and write these evaluations when they come in. They are not the scouts, but they are fed by them.

As Always, I will post the chat in the comment section.

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Alderson Contacted Kevin Long About Vacant Hitting Coach Job http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-contacted-kevin-long-about-vacant-hitting-coach-job.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-contacted-kevin-long-about-vacant-hitting-coach-job.html/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:32:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167689 kevin long

Through a league source, Mark Feinsand of the Daily News has confirmed that ousted Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has spoken with Sandy Alderson about the Mets hitting coach position.

The source said Long has already had phone conversations with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as well as the general managers and/or managers from the Braves and Blue Jays.

Long declined to go into specifics about who he has or has not spoken with. ”I’ve gotten calls from a lot of teams,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

The Red Sox are also said to be very interested in Long.

October 13

According to Matt Ehalt of The Record, Mets sources are indicating that Kevin Long could be looked at to fill the Mets vacancy at hitting coach. Long was relieved of his duties with the Yankees on Friday after ten years of service.

Long was best known for developing and implementing his ‘Home Run Drill’ during batting practice sessions and pre-game warm ups to get Yankee sluggers to take advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

He would be an interesting fit for the Mets solely because of his existing relationship with Curtis Granderson. Long helped Granderson develop into an extreme power hitter and was one of the many players he transformed into a pull home run hitter at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s been working with Kevin Long and the ability of him to throw lefthanded BP day in and day out,” Granderson told the Daily News‘ Sean Brennan in 2011 about his home run surge.

“But it’s constantly battling, trusting what we’ve been working on, the changes that we made, definitely never second-guessing what Kevin Long and myself started on last August.”

While it seems unlikely that a hitting coach would be brought in because of his relationship with a single player, fixing Granderson’s swing should be a top priority heading into 2015. Without a resurgence from Granderson and David Wright, the 2015 season could become a repeat of 2014.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I’m not sure it would be a good idea to bring in a hitting coach predominantly because he had some success with one player in the past. Especially when that one player was signed to a $60 million dollar deal to initially become the team’s cleanup hitter. When you get that kind of a contract, you usually don’t need to travel with a personal hitting coach.

The more you read the tea leaves, you get the sense that the front office is abandoning the pitching, contact, speed and defense that Citi Field was built for. The Mets are going alter their ballpark dimensions for the third time in six years.

The team has become so desperate that they have already fired two hitting coaches in the space of four months and by the looks of things, they still have no clear idea as to who the replacement will be. Among the candidates is Bobby Abreu who has recently retired and never worked as a hitting coach before, but is cherished by the front office for his patience and approach at the plate. But is that something he can teach, when others and more experienced hitting coaches have failed with this current Mets team?

Incredibly, the thought that perhaps the Mets need better players to score more runs is never mentioned or brought up, which is kind of perplexing to me. It’s either the approach, protection for Wright, the fences, and now the hitting coach.

(Updated 10/13)

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