Mets Merized Online » Mets News & Notes http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Featured Post: Jim Callis Talks Mets Prospects With MMO http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-jim-callis-talks-mets-prospects-with-mmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-jim-callis-talks-mets-prospects-with-mmo.html/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 18:35:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205244 mets batter silhouette hitter netting

Update: MLB Pipeline released their Top 100 Prospects last night with four Mets on the list: Gavin Cecchini #87, Amed Rosario #79, Dominic Smith #51, and Steven Matz at #15. Full write up to come. 

The following is an interview I conducted with the great Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline who you can follow on Twitter at @JimCallisMLB. Jim was kind enough to answer a number of questions about the Mets minor league system and many of our top prospects and sleepers. Please enjoy.

Mike – Would you say this years rookie class in MLB that included Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was the best you have ever seen?

Jim – I would say that based on the talent of the rookies and how well so many of them performed in the big leagues. Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Miguel Sano, Kyle Schwarber and on and on and on.

MikeGavin Cecchini had a breakout season with the bat this year but struggled in the field, is he someone who surprised you this year? Can you see him as an everyday MLB shortstop?

Jim – The Mets have pushed him pretty aggressively, and it seemed like he finally caught his breath in 2015 and started to hit. I think he is an everyday shortstop, though the floor still jumps out at me more than the ceiling. Solid defender, should hit for some average with a little bit of power and a few walks.

Mike – The Mets graduated and traded away a bunch of prospect talent in 2015, where would you rank their current system as a whole?

Jim – Though the system did get thinned out with graduations and trades, there’s still some intriguing talent, particularly with position players like Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario and Cecchini. Technically, Matz still counts as a prospect until he gets another 15 big league innings. I haven’t stacked up all the farm systems against each other yet, but I’d expect that when I do the Mets will fall in the 11-20 range somewhere.

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Mike – The R.A. Dickey trades seems to be the gift that keeps on giving with Wuilmer Becerra. Is he close to being a Top 100 prospect?

Jim – He’s not close to being a Top 100 guy yet, but he does have that kind of upside, just needs to polish up his tools. He fits the right field profile nicely. That trade keeps looking better and better for the Mets. Syndergaard alone would have been a sweet return.

Mike – Who is one Mets prospect that we won’t see on any Top 10 lists but you really like?

Jim – The system has lost some of its depth, so I don’t know if I’d say I “really like” anyone outside the consensus Top 10. But I am intrigued by Milton Ramos, who has a chance to be a very good defender. We’ll see how he hits.

Mike – I got to watch Robert Gsellman numerous times this year and was impressed with this ability to stay away from barrel contact despite low strikeout numbers. What do you see his potential as?

Jim – No. 5 starter at best. I’m not a big fan of guys who lack a plus pitch and don’t miss bats. Gsellman deserves credit for succeeding in Double-A but I’m skeptical as to how his stuff will play in the big leagues.

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MikeDominic Smith had six home runs this year but led the Florida State League with 33 doubles. Do you think he can be a 15-20 home run guy in the big leagues?

Jim – Definitely. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League and thought he was one of the best hitters there. He has power, you can see it in batting practice, but he’s focusing on developing as a hitter. It’s an easy swing with an up-the-middle approach, and he’ll hit homers as he gets more comfortable and aggressive about turning on pitches.

Mike – Who has a better chance of becoming a MLB starter: Gabriel Ynoa, Seth Lugo, or Mickey Jannis?

Jim – I’ll say Lugo because he misses more bats. Don’t see any of them as big league starters though.

Mike – Is Amed Rosario finally the answer to all the Mets hopes at shortstop?

Jim – Yes. Good defender, plus runner, chance to do some damage offensively once he gets stronger. Cecchini is a safer bet and will get their first but Rosario should be the better player.

MikeLuis Guillorme had an MVP season in the South Atlantic League, any chance he hits enough to be an everyday player?

Jim – Sure. He had an impressive 2015, and while he won’t hit for much power, he makes contact and controls the strike zone. That said, I don’t see him pushing Rosario off shortstop in New York.

Mike – The Mets went heavy on lefty pitchers in the 2015 draft? Which one do you think has the brightest future?

Jim – I like Thomas Szapucki the best, based on reports I heard on him versus Max Wotell, though Wotell went higher and had a better brief pro debut.

Mike – Who has the best raw power in the Mets farm system?

Jim – They don’t have a guy who really jumps out. In terms of usable power, I bet it’s Dominic Smith in the long run.

Great to hear Jim reconfirm what many of us think about Rosario, that he will be the Mets future shortstop and hopefully there for a long-time. As you can tell the Mets have built themselves some serious depth at the shortstop position with talents like Rosario, Cecchini, Ramos, and Guillorme.

That is without mentioning middle infielder Luis Carpio who had a great 2015 season and is jumping up prospect lists. The Mets also spent big on the infield in the 2015 international free agent period getting two of the best shortstop prospects in Gregory Guerrero and Andres Gimenez.

The Mets farm system has certainly taken a hit from graduations and trades but I think the Mets had a very good draft last year while supplementing that with the two talents I mentioned above. They also have a slew of intriguing toolsy young players in the lower levels including Carpio, catcher Ali Sanchez, outfielder Ricardo Cespedes, and pitcher Ronald Guedez.

I want to thank Jim for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. For more on the minors be sure to check out MMO partner site MetsMinors.net.

MLB Pipeline recently released their Top 10 first base prospects with Smith coming in at number three. They also did their Top 10 left-handed pitchers and they had Matz at number three behind Julio Urias and Blake Snell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Antonio Bastardo In Camp, Ready To Help Mets Win A Championship http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/antonio-bastardo-in-camp-ready-to-help-mets-win-a-championship.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/antonio-bastardo-in-camp-ready-to-help-mets-win-a-championship.html/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 12:02:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205746 antonio bastardo

Antonio Bastardo is pumped to be part of the Mets bullpen and is already training at the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie. In an interview with Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, Bastardo said he wants to help the Mets anyway he can and he looks forward to bridging the gap from the starters to closer Jeurys Familia.

“I know the Mets needed help and that is why I signed here,’’ Bastardo told The Post. “The Mets have a great team, with great, great young arms. We just have to make sure we stay focused and hopefully this year or next year we can win the World Series.”

“I want to make it so Familia is fresh in the ninth inning. Four outs is a lot of work for the closer. You want him fresh for that winning situation in the ninth.’’

Bastardo, 30, signed a two year, $12 million deal in January and the lefty is expected to take over the setup role for the Mets this season – a role the team struggled to fill consistently in 2015.

“If our pitchers dominate from the first to the sixth or seventh inning they’re not going to have a chance,” Bastardo said in a phone interview with Matt Ehalt of The Record. “They’ll be frustrated from beginning to end.”

Bastardo could not contain his excitement about joining the Mets and he expects big things this season and next.

“The team was in the World Series and competed the whole year. That makes me think we can be in that spot this year, for sure,” Bastardo said. “If you see the starting pitching we have, and the hitters we have, all that makes you think about being in the World Series with these guys.”

Bastardo had a great year for the Pirates, going 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.134 WHIP and a 10.0 K/9 rate. He appeared in 66 games and pitched 57.1 innings, striking out 64 and walking 26.

Lefties batted a mere .138 (9-65) against Bastardo in 2015, with one home run and three RBIs (righties batted .207). In his career, lefties have batted .176 against him, so last season was not an outlier.

(Photo: NY Post)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus: A Text Conversation I Had

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mets, Familia Reach Agreement, Avoiding Arbitration http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-familia-settle-avoid-arbitration.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-familia-settle-avoid-arbitration.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:30:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205679 jeurys familia

The Mets avoided arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia on Wednesday, agreeing upon a one-year, $4.1 million deal, per reports.

Familia, 26, emerged as a star in 2015, taking over the closer’s role and notching 43 saves and a league-high 65 games finished. Familia had an ERA of 1.85 and a WHIP of 1.00, striking out 86 and walking 19 in 78 innings.

He was dominant during the Mets’ run to the World Series, although many criticized his performance in the final series against Kansas City — Familia entered with the Mets ahead in 3 of their 4 losses — despite a 1.80 ERA and a 0.600 WHIP.

Familia is the highest-paid closer ever among pitchers with only one season of closing.

The Mets have avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players.

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

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

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

1986 uniOriginal sketch submitted to Mets by Joe Petruccio

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

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

UW: Did he ever respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You New York, by Vic Black

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

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

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

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

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

I love you New York!

Vic Black

Two Words…. Class Fu*king Act…

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

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Backman and Viola Will Return As Triple-A Manager, Pitching Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/backman-and-viola-will-return-as-triple-a-manager-pitching-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/backman-and-viola-will-return-as-triple-a-manager-pitching-coach.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 22:19:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204546 wally backman

Wally Backman and Frank Viola will both remain with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York first reported.

The Las Vegas 51s confirmed the report with an official announcement on Tuesday.

“I’m excited to return to Las Vegas for my fourth season,” Backman said. “I enjoy working with everyone in the 51s front office and look forward to another successful season in the Pacific Coast League. We have the potential to field another exciting team for the fans to watch and enjoy.”

Backman will remain in his role as manager of the Las Vegas 51s while Viola returns as the pitching coach. Jack Voigt will also remain as the hitting coach there.

Backman is entering his fourth season as the manager of Triple-A Las Vegas where he was 77-67 last season. He was the Pacific Coast League’s Manager of the Year in 2014.

The former scrappy second baseman of the 1986 World Champion Mets has been biding his time while waiting for a chance to manage in the the big-leagues.

But despite an overall 840-757 (.525) record over 13 seasons as a minor league skipper, Backman has yet to get that major league opportunity.

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Mets trade Darrell Ceciliani to Blue Jays http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-trade-darrell-ceciliani-to-blue-jays.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-trade-darrell-ceciliani-to-blue-jays.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:03:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205598 darrell Ceciliani

The Mets have traded OF Darrell Ceciliani to the Toronto Blue Jays, the clubs have confirmed.

Ceciliani hit .206 in 68 at-bats last season. He started 13 games in the early part of the season, having a couple nice moments but mostly struggling before being sent back to the minors when the Mets upgraded their offense. He was DFA’d last week to make room for Yoenis Cespedes on the 40-man roster.

The Mets announced that they acquired cash considerations from Toronto, while the Blue Jays announced that they were sending a Player To Be Named Later to New York. (Reports suggest it is indeed cash)

Sandy Alderson did not manage to walk away with the tattered remains of Toronto’s farm system in this deal.

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

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

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

So who’s crying now….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgan writes…

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

Joe D. replies…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carlos Torres Clears Waivers, Elects Free Agency http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/carlos-torres-clears-waivers-elects-free-agency.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/carlos-torres-clears-waivers-elects-free-agency.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:05:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=204723 carlos torres

Reliever Carlos Torres has cleared waivers and has elected free agency rather than accepting an assignment to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The Mets tried and failed to trade Torres before being placed on waivers Friday. He was due to earn $1.05 million in 2016.

And so ends the Mets journey of Carlos Torres…  <sniff, sniff> Fare thee well….

January 28

Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Mets are in trade talks with multiple clubs about dealing right-hander Carlos Torres.

Adam Rubin added that though the Mets have entertained trading Torres, there has not been any significant progress toward a deal and that he’ll likely end up clearing waivers.

Torres was designated for assignment after the Mets acquired Antonio Bastardo. In three seasons with the Mets, he has posted a 3.59 ERA over 165 appearances.

January 22

The Antonio Bastardo deal became official today, which meant someone on the 40-man roster had to go. As a result, Carlos Torres has been designated for assignment, reports ESPN’s Adam Rubin.

Torres, 33, has spent three seasons in a Mets uniform, posting a 3.59 ERA over 165 appearances, including ten starts. He had solid seasons in both 2013 and 2014, but saw his ERA balloon to 4.68 this past season and eventually fell out of regular use. He settled before arbitration recently for $1.05 million. If the Mets are unable to trade him within a week, Torres will be placed on waivers.

Rubin also reports that infielder Danny Muno has been invited to big league camp next month. Muno is a second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman who played 17 games with the Mets this season, hitting three singles and a double in 27 at-bats while walking four times.

Muno was drafted by the Mets in the eighth round in 2011 but has been suspended for PED usage, severely hurting his status as a prospect. He does, however, have pretty solid overall numbers. In 200 career games with Las Vegas, Muno has hit .267/.368/.397 with 17 home runs, 27 doubles, two triples, and 15 stolen bases.

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How Good Is Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/how-good-is-mets-pitching-coach-dan-warthen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/how-good-is-mets-pitching-coach-dan-warthen.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:49:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205405 warthen syndergaard

Back in the 90′s when the Atlanta Braves had a historically dominant rotation that included Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, pitching coach Leo Mazzone was hailed as a genius. When he went to the Baltimore Orioles, not so much.

Rick Peterson was also lauded for his work with an A’s rotation comprised of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. With the Mets, he was a scapegoat. He was fired in June of 2008 and replaced by Dan Warthen who begins his ninth season as pitching coach of the Mets in 2016.

Now that the Mets have Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, Warthen has finally gained some notoriety. We now hear about the “Warthen Slider.”  As is usually the case, when you are blessed with a trio of young ace caliber pitchers, some fame is going to come your way as a pitching coach. They point to certain things you may have said or done, a tweak perhaps, or maybe just some sage advice that helped make some great pitchers great. Warthen, who has survived two GMs and two managers, is no different. But how good is he really? Perhaps this season, we are about to find out.

This past offseason the Mets traded left-hander Jon Niese to the Pirates in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. He was once so highly regarded that the team saw fit to give him a five year contract extension that also included two additional team options. Overall, Niese was somewhat disappointing.  He’s had shoulder problems. He was 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.361 WHIP. I believe it’s fair to say the Mets expected more and didn’t receive it. Now, Niese is a Pittsburgh Pirate where he is now joined with well-regarded pitching coach Ray Searage.

Searage is fast developing a reputation as a pitching guru. Unlike most pitching coaches, it’s not because of who he has, but what he does with what he has. Here’s an example of some of his success stories:

Francisco Liriano

  • 2012 Twins/White Sox 6-12, 5.34 ERA, 1.468 WHIP
  • 2013-2015 Pirates 35-25, 3.26 ERA, 1.241 WHIP

A.J. Burnett

  • 2011 Yankees, 11-11, 5.15 ERA, 1.434 WHIP
  • 2012-2013 Pirates, 26-21, 3.41 ERA, 1.228 WHIP
  • 2014 Phillies, 8-18, 4.59 ERA, 1.409 WHIP
  • 2015 Pirates, 9-7, 3.18 ERA, 1.360 WHIP

J.A. Happ

  • 2015 Mariners, 4-6, 4.64 ERA, 1.408 WHIP
  • 2015 Pirates, 7-2, 1.85 ERA, 1.026 WHIP

As noted above, Searage’s next project is Niese. He’s coming off of what might be perhaps the worst year of his career where he went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.398 WHIP. Searage has his work cut out for him, especially with a head strong pitcher like Niese. For his part, Niese says he is seeing an opportunity for improvement with a superior Pirates defense. Is the Pirates defense Searage’s equivalent to Warthen’s slider?  Who knows?

At the end of the day, it’s a results based business, and Searage has done something with his pitchers to coax better results than they’ve had elsewhere. If that continues, Niese is about to have the best year of what has so far been a very disappointing career. It’ll be another pitcher that Searage has been able to reach that other pitching coaches couldn’t.

If that’s true, it doesn’t make Warthen a bad pitching coach. Rather, it shows that like those who have come before him, sometimes a pitching coach’s perceived skill and reputation is more closely tied to the skills and talent possessed by his pitching staff.

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

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

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

syndergaard jersey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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