Mets Merized Online » Mets News & Notes Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:54:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What If Sandy Is Blowing Smoke On Flores? Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:32:19 +0000 wilmer-flores

For the better part of two months now, Sandy Alderson has been telling everyone about how impressed he is with Wilmer Flores and the prospect of him being the Mets everyday shortstop next season.

Last week, he said about Flores’ defense that it’s not a disqualifier.

“He did a nice job for us last year. Can he do that on a whole season basis? Offensively he got much better as time went on. I hope it works. I like Wilmer.”

“I think the issue has always been whether he can play defensively adequately or better,” Alderson said. “And a lot of us think he has the ability or the potential to do that.”

Two weeks ago at the GM Meetings. Sandy said Flores compared favorably to any shortstop that is currently available in free agency or trade.

“Wilmer at shortstop is one of those guys that doesn’t pass the eye test but if you start to look at his matrix a little bit you realize there’s maybe a little more there than we give him credit. And offensively there’s as much potential with him as probably anybody that’s available.”

One person who’s not buying any of this is Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio. Bowden has been regularly taking issue on air with Sandy Alderson’s comments on Flores and has called them “a big act,” “blowing smoke,” and a “very nice performance.”

Bowden says it’s all an attempt to gain some leverage because the truth is Sandy is monitoring the shortstop market very closely, is engaged almost daily with many teams regarding their available shortstops, and is even considering last straw options like Stephen Drew if nothing materializes by January.

What do you believe?

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Matt Harvey Feels 100 Percent, Set To Begin Workouts In December Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:31:24 +0000 matt harvey

Matt Harvey appeared on WFAN this morning where he spoke about a number of different team specific topics. as he gets set to make his return this Spring.

The Mets righty feels great and expects to be 100 percent ready when he reports to camp in February. He is preparing to begin his normal offseason routine and expects to be throwing off a mound in December.

“It’s nice going into the offseason as a normal player,” Harvey said. “Spring Training can’t get here quick enough for me.”

“My whole goal is to be able to face hitters in February as soon as I get down to Florida. I haven’t faced any hitters. I haven’t done any batting practice. So I think for me, getting down there, beginning of February, and being ready to go right away to get some hitters in there would be obviously my goal.”

Speaking to reporters at Citi Field last week, Sandy Alderson said that Harvey will be in the rotation “from the get-go,” and not start the season late to try and conserve innings.

The goal is to have him “pitching through entire postseason,” so any innings that will be conserved would be shaved during the season.

Harvey also said he has no concerns about the new outfield wall dimensions at Citi Field.

“If you throw three guys out there and they’re throwing 95-plus mph, to hit a ball out a hitter is going to have to crush it anyway….so I don’t think this changes anything, it’s not going to cause much harm.”

Sandy Alderson said last week, that one of the goals was getting the park out of the hitter’s heads.

“I think so. We are trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation so it’s not something that’s discussed in the clubhouse, in the media, and that it’s no longer something our fans have to talk about.’’

Like most Mets fans, Harvey is looking forward to the return of “Harvey Days” and helping the team get back to their winning ways and into the postseason.


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Daisuke Matsuzaka Returns To Japan Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:10:36 +0000 daisuke matsuzaka

According to the Japan Times, right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is returning to Japan after playing six seasons with the Red Sox and the past two seasons with the Mets.

Dice-K, 34, has agreed to a contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, who are the reigning Japanese League champions.

In 41 games including 16 starts, Matsuzaka posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.311 WHIP for the Mets.


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Mets Interested In LH Reliever Craig Breslow Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:38:43 +0000 Craig-Breslow-Greg-M.-Cooper-USA-TODAY-Sports

Sources have told Jon Morosi of Fox Sports that the Mets are interested in free-agent LHP Craig Breslow.

The former Red Sox reliever went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 60 relief appearances in 2014.  Left-handed hitters batted .291 against Breslow last season with a .838 OPS in 118 plate appearances.

However, the 34-year old Breslow did post a 1.81 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2013, so the Mets may be hoping he’s due for a comeback – plus he appears to be the least expensive available option among free-agent lefty relievers.

November 22

The Mets expect to sign or trade for a left-handed reliever by the end of the Winter Meetings, a team source told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

With Josh Edgin already assured of a bullpen role, the Mets are looking for a second lefty to pair with him next season. Reportedly, they are targeting a low cost reliever on a one-year deal and Puma named Phil Coke, Joe Beimel and Craig Breslow as likely options.

Beimel, 37, has been on the Mets radar in the past. Last season, he went 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances for the Mariners. Of the three, I think he’d be the best option.

Adam Rubin also reported that the Mets could consider re-signing Dana Eveland if his elbow proves healthy. Eveland, 31, had a 2.63 ERA in 30 relief appearances for the Mets, striking out 27 and walking six in 27.1 innings pitched. He was released in October to make room on the 40-man roster after being shutdown in September with inflammation in his elbow.

On Thursday, the Mets added Jack Leathersich to the 40 man roster and he is expected to compete for a job in the bullpen this Spring.

There’s always the possibility that the Mets trade for a left-handed reliever as they look to move one of Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.

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Mets Announce 2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:49:32 +0000 mets spring training st. lucie

2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates

Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pitchers and catchers report: February 19

First workout: February 21

Position players report: February 24

First full-squad workout: February 26

Grapefruit League play begins: March 4

Manager Terry Collins will hold his First Official Press Conference on February 18. Then after two weeks of throwing, running and fielding drills, physical training, motivational speeches, and some team building events like bowling nights, the Mets will open their 2015 Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday, March 4 vs. the Atlanta Braves in Disney.

The Mets first home game will be Friday, March 6 vs. the American League Central champion Detroit Tigers at 1:10 p.m. in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Mets will play 33 exhibition games, including 15 home games at Tradition Field.

The Mets will host the Yankees in Port St. Lucie on Sunday, March 22 at 1:10 p.m. and will travel to Tampa to take on their cross-town rivals on Wednesday, March 25 at 1:05 p.m. The Mets will also play the Boston Red Sox Sunday, March 8 in Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m.

2015 spring schedule

The Amazins will play the NL East champion Washington Nationals six times, the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals six times, the Miami Marlins six times, the Atlanta Braves four times, the Houston Astros, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox twice and the Tampa Bay Rays once.

its good to be back spring training

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Latest on Mets SS: Does Bogaerts or Andrus Change Anything? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:12:13 +0000 Xander - Bogaerts (KO)

Xander Bogaerts might be available, but at what cost?

Sandy Alderson told reporters that he is continuing to monitor the market for shortstops although nothing is imminent for now.

“We have several options internally and maybe not all of them are perfect,” Alderson said. “There aren’t a lot of free agent shortstops out there that check all the boxes. There aren’t that many trade possibilities, frankly, that check all the boxes.”

The Mets are reluctant to part with a top prospect like Noah Syndergaard for the likes of a Didi Gregorius or Brad Miller, and rightfully so.

Alexei Ramirez now appears to be a lot less available than what was initially reported, and White Sox GM Rick Hahn said he’s not pursuing a trade.

Xander Bogaerts may suddenly be available according to Joel Sherman, but he adds that it will cost Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler. Still interested?

The Mets can’t afford to take on the contract of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, and they don’t have the bat the Rangers want anyway.

As for the Cubs, Theo Epstein wants to be blown away for All Star shortstop Starlin Castro and top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. We’re talking Jacob deGrom and probably Kevin Plawecki too.

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY speculated that the Mets could just wait until January to see if free agent shortstops like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew can be had at a lower price, and that makes a lot of sense.

But in the end, I still believe that Wilmer Flores will be our Opening Day shortstop. I’d put the odds at 75/25.

The bottom line is the Mets do not have the money for some of the big name shortstops, and are unwilling to part with any of their young pitching for shortstops who may not even offer more offensively than what they already have in Flores.

(Joe D.)

November 16 – Steamer Projections for Shortstop Market

Lets look at the free agent market first because it is very weak and probably not even an option at this point. All the projections shown here are from Steamer Projections. They are all prorated for a 600 at-bat season.

jed lowrie

  • Jed Lowrie32 2B 12 HR, 61 RBI, 88 K, .261/.327/.396, -7.7 FLD, 2.1 WAR
  • Asdrubal Cabrera29 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 108 K, .251/.316/.397, -13.0 FLD, 1.4 WAR
  • Stephen Drew: 26 2B, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 144 K, .218/.294/.352, -2.9 FLD, 0.9 WAR

I don’t see any of these players as options for the Mets, but if I had to choose one it would be Lowrie, he seems like the best all around choice. Cabrera is not a SS anymore and Drew doesn’t put the ball in play enough. Only thing making Drew attractive is he is the best defender of the bunch and might come cheap after a dreadful year.

Now lets take a look at the in-house options we have at SS

  • Wilmer Flores28 2B, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 79 K,  -1.2 FLD, .255/.296/.401, 2.4 WAR
  • Matt Reynolds: 22 2B, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 105 K, 0.0 FLD, .238/.290/.330, 1.1 WAR
  • Ruben Tejada26 2B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 87 K, -0.4 FLD, .246/.318/.323, 1.5 WAR

Flores is the most likely to happen and he really is the best option despite his defensive issues (which I think are overblown). Take Reynolds’ numbers with a grain of salt because it is tough to project someone with no MLB experience. The ship has obviously sailed but I included him on here to show he could be a useful backup.


Lastly lets look at the vast options the Mets have on the trade market.

  • Brad Miller24 2B, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 112K, 0.0 FLD, .252/.314/.395, 3.2 WAR
  • Chris Taylor27 2B, 5 HR, 62 RBI, 117 K, 1.8 FLD, .261/.323/.354, 2.9 WAR
  • Alexei Ramirez29 2B, 11 HR, 64 RBI, 72 K, 0.8 FLD, .265/.300/.379, 2.2 WAR
  • Starlin Castro: 33 2B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 96 K, -4.6 FLD, .274/.320/.409, 2.2 WAR
  • Didi Gregorius23 2B, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 84 K, 0.5 FLD, .250/.311/.370, 1.8 WAR
  • Xander Bogaerts: 22 2B, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 93 K, 0.3 FLD, .260/.323/.409, 1.8 WAR

I think its very surprising to see Miller at the top with the highest WAR but he had big Minor League slugging numbers and a good 2nd half last year. Taylor is definitely the best fielder of the group, has some speed and walks a good amount. Ramirez is probably the safest bet of them all given his consistency and strong defense, but his low walk totals and age scare me. Castro still has the most potential out of everyone, but will also cost the most in a trade. Didi is good defensively and has the prototypical body for a shortstop, but no one knows if he is going to ever hit at the MLB level.

Projections aren’t an end-all, but its cool to get a basis to work with from some smart baseball people. However, these projections didn’t really change my mind on what I think the Mets should do. I like Flores and think he will be a productive player, but pairing him and Murphy up the middle seems like a bad idea for our pitchers.

When it comes down to cost/risk/potential for me Chris Taylor is the best fit for the Mets. Is he the sexy name like Castro or Ramirez? No, but I think his combination of good defense, speed, and on-base skills make him the best option among free agents. Now the question is what would he cost? How about a package of Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada (Miller stinks against lefties) for Taylor and Charlie Furbush?


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Featured Post: Who Should Be Traded, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:33:34 +0000 dillon gee jonathon niese

I love watching Dillon Gee pitch.  Similarly, I am a fan of Jon Niese.

Although the Mets have been under .500 every season Gee has pitched in the majors, Gee himself has a won-loss record that is six games over .500 and he has never been more than one game under the break-even mark over a full season.  Jonathon Niese, on the other hand, is one of the few Mets left on the team who played at Shea Stadium (David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell are the others, although Murphy and Parnell may not be on this list much longer).  Niese is also the team’s only southpaw on a staff filled with right-handed pitchers.

As much as I enjoy having Gee and Niese on the team, I understand that the starting rotation currently has Bartolo Colon, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom taking up four spots, with Noah Syndergaard waiting in the wings.  Assuming Colon is traded at some point during the 2015 season (if not sooner), Syndergaard would be the obvious choice to replace him in the rotation.  That would leave one of the members of the Gee-Niese duo out of luck and perhaps out of a job in New York.

Knowing full well that either Gee or Niese will not be a Met by this time next year, I decided to see which player the Mets would be better off keeping.  One or both pitchers might be traded if the right deal comes along, but I think one of the two would be better off staying in the Mets’ starting rotation.  Here’s my reasoning for the player I would like to stick around.

Although he has a 3.91 ERA for his career, Dillon Gee has had only one full season in the majors in which he posted an ERA under 4.00.  Advanced metrics also have his lifetime FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) at 4.23.  For all you kids out there, FIP measures how effective a pitcher is at limiting home runs, walks and hit batsmen while causing strikeouts.  Basically, those are the four categories in which fielders do not determine an outcome.  Therefore, Gee’s 4.23 FIP is considered a little higher than what is expected from an average pitcher.

Jonathon Niese has a 3.87 career ERA, but has posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his last three seasons, going under 3.50 in two of the last three campaigns.  But on the FIP side, Niese has a lifetime 3.72 FIP and has posted a FIP under 4.00 in each of his last four seasons.  Niese has walked more batters than Gee, but has hit fewer batters and allowed fewer home runs per nine innings than Gee.  And when it comes to strikeouts, Niese is far superior to Gee, as Niese has surpassed 130 strikeouts in a season four times, while Gee has done it just once.

Speaking of strikeouts, although Niese is just 28 years old (he’s actually six months younger than Dillon Gee), he’s already in the Mets’ all-time top ten in career strikeouts.  Niese’s 713 Ks are tenth on the team’s lifetime leaderboard and he is just one strikeout behind Bobby Jones for ninth place.  Once he passes Jones, the only pitchers in front of him will be Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, Ron Darling, Al Leiter and Jon Matlack.  You may also know that octet as arguably the eight best pitchers in the history of the franchise.   Niese’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.69; 713 K/265 BB) is also far better than Gee’s ratio (2.26; 464 K/205 BB).

Let’s look at another new metric to determine a pitcher’s effectiveness – ERA+.  This metric compares a pitcher’s earned run average to the league average and also accounts for park factors, with 100 being considered an average ERA+.  For example, Citi Field is generally considered a pitcher’s park.  However, Dillon Gee has never posted an ERA+ of 100 in any of his four full seasons.  From 2011 to 2014, Gee has posted a 90 ERA+, with a career-best 98 ERA+ in 2013, which is still 2% worse than the average pitcher.  Meanwhile, Jonathon Niese has a 97 ERA+ since he became a regular in the rotation in 2010.  But since 2012, Niese has a 104 ERA+, making him 4% better than the average pitcher over the last three seasons.  Niese’s career-best performance in this metric came in 2012, when he posted a 112 ERA+.

WAR (wins above replacement) is all the rage in this sabermetric era of baseball.  The higher the WAR, the better the player.  It’s that simple.  Looking at the WAR posted by Gee and Niese since 2011 (the year both pitchers were rotation-mates for the first time), it’s clear which pitcher has been more valuable to the team.  Gee has a 4.5 WAR since 2011, going above 1.0 just once in the four years (2013, when he posted a 2.2 WAR).  In the same time period, Niese has a 6.2 WAR, posting a 3.4 WAR in 2012 and a 1.7 WAR this past season.

WAR.  What is it good for?  For Niese, it might be good for keeping him in New York.

WAR. What is it good for?  For Niese, it might be good for keeping him in NY.

Finally, let’s look at one overlooked, but still important, part of the pitcher’s game – his offense.  When a pitcher comes to bat, he’s not expected to do much.  If there’s a runner on base, he’s expected to bunt him over.  If there’s no one on base, the best a pitcher is expected to do is not get hurt swinging the bat and maybe make the opposing pitcher throw a few extra pitches.  When it comes to proficiency with the bat, there’s no contest between Gee and Niese.

Since becoming a regular in the rotation in 2011, Dillon Gee has a .154 on-base percentage, reaching base 27 times (18 hits, nine walks) in 206 plate appearances.  Meanwhile, since Niese joined the rotation for good in 2010, he has reached base an incredible 66 times (38 hits, 28 walks) in 304 plate appearances, which is a .237 on-base percentage.  Of all pitchers with at least 200 plate appearances since 2010, only Zack Greinke (.274 OBP in 245 PA) and Mike Leake (.261 OBP in 338 PA) have a higher on-base percentage than Jonathon Niese and only Ian Kennedy has drawn more walks (32 BB in 342 PA) than Niese.  Kennedy and Niese are the only pitchers who have walked more than 20 times since 2010.

So let’s review.  Jonathon Niese has a better ERA, ERA+, FIP and WAR than Dillon Gee.  Niese is also much more adept at recording strikeouts than Gee and has a better K/BB ratio.  And while Gee is almost an automatic out with the bat, Niese gives the Mets a ninth hitter in the lineup, reaching base just under a quarter of the time.  Niese isn’t going to break into a home run trot any time soon, but he has proven to be one of the better handlers of the bat among National League pitchers.

Dillon Gee will blow out 29 candles during the first month of the 2015 campaign.  Jonathon Niese will be 28 all season.  Niese has more experience than Gee, having pitched at Shea Stadium.  Niese is also left-handed, something no other starting pitcher on the Mets can claim.  Although Gee is still arbitration eligible and will likely not command more than $5 million in 2015, Niese is due $7 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016, hardly amounts that would break the Wilpon family piggy bank.

If the Mets are going to trade one of their veteran homegrown pitchers before the curtains rise on the 2015 season, it should be clear which one should go.  Although I’ve always enjoyed watching him pitch and still believe he can be successful in New York, Dillon Gee will probably be the victim of an overcrowded starting rotation.  Jonathon Niese, despite all the question marks surrounding his health, has still made at least 24 starts in each of his five full seasons in the majors.  Gee has surpassed 22 starts just twice in his four full seasons with the Mets.  Also, Niese may not always utter the most politically correct statements, especially when it comes to Mets fans’ loyalty, but you can’t say he was pulling things out of his posterior.  If the Mets are going to draw the crowds Niese was used to seeing when he was a neophyte, then the team has to play better.  And right now, I believe the team will perform better with Niese on the team instead of Gee.

Of course, trading Gee or Niese will depend on the package the Mets would receive in return, but if each package was similar and the Mets had an option of trading either player, then that player should be Gee.  The future of the team would look a lot brighter if it held on to Niese.

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MMO Mailbag: Where’s The Love For Carlos Torres? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:25:46 +0000 Carlos - Torres

Adam83 asks…

Every time I read about how great our bullpen is, it’s amazing how often Carlos Torres and the job he did last year is ignored and never mentioned.  Isn’t he just as important to us as Familia and Mejia?  How many long relievers are better?

MMO replies…

Carlos Torres is certainly appreciated within the organization, but I agree he’s not making national headlines and his numbers would suggest he should be.  Torres has quietly provided that insurance arm out of the bullpen who can go long, serve as a specialist or close out games when the regular guy needs a night off.  In the two years he has pitched as a reliever for the Mets, Torres has appeared in 96 games and pitched a total of 128.2 innings.  His 2.73 ERA and 8.04 K’s per nine innings are impressive during that stretch and certainly proved the difference in a number of victories.

During the transition period for the Mets bullpen this season, the team let go of veterans like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde in lieu of the future which included Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia.  Critics argued that Torres was used too much during that time, but Terry Collins often had very few reliable options, which forced his hand in an effort to keep the team in games.  Thankfully, the youngsters emerged and Torres was able to pitch through to the end of the year, healthy.

You can’t blame Collins for his dependence on Torres, considering how often he could induce that much needed double play ball (13 DP in 2014) and bear down with runners on base (25.5 K/9 with runners on base).

The best part compared to his performance is his cost.  Torres made slightly above the league minimum this season and should remain relatively cost effective heading into 2015 which will help the team stay flexible in case other needs arise.

Many of his peers are hard throwers and those players will always garner more attention because they’re more exciting to watch, but Torres has quietly filled the many roles the team has asked him to and done so with a lot of success.  Now, if only the Mets could find a lefty reliever as talented and as cheap as Carlos Torres, than we’d be in business.

ask mmo 2

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Alderson Wanted to Take Citi Field’s Dimensions Out of the Conversation Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:16:39 +0000 sandy alderson

When asked if moving in the fences at Citi Field was a psychological advantage for his hitters as much as a physical one, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that one of the goals was getting the park out of the hitter’s heads.

“I think so. We are trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation so it’s not something that’s discussed in the clubhouse, in the media, and that it’s no longer something our fans have to talk about.’’

“We want the ballpark to be fair, but a few more home runs for us wouldn’t be a bad thing,’’ Alderson said. “A little more scoring is something that most fans enjoy, not all, not baseball purists by any means but there aren’t a lot of baseball purists left.’’

When it was pointed out to Sandy that both World Series teams (San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals) played in big ballparks, the Mets GM countered that both were just wild-card teams. “Playing in a big ballpark is not advantageous across Major League Baseball.”

November 19

The New York Mets announced the new changes to the outfield wall at Citi Field with a media tour led by Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson. The changes affected are located in center to right field ranging from three to 11 feet. All other dimensions will remain the same.

“These modifications are a refinement of previous changes made to the Citi Field fences and continue to be fair to both pitchers and hitters,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.

“A lot of analysis went into this decision. We believe these modifications will increase the number of home runs without adversely affecting our pitchers.”


Alderson told reporters that the new dimensions at Citi Field should closely resemble those of Shea Stadium and that appears to be the case.

Team research showed that had the new dimensions existed last season, the Mets would have hit an additional 17 home runs, while opponents would have hit an extra 10. A net gain of seven home runs.

“The big issue for me really is the differential: How many homers are we hitting and how many are they hitting?” Alderson said. “Last year the differential was [minus-16], and that is significant in terms of wins and losses. We want to change that and we think we can change it with personnel and to some extent these changes in dimensions without really adversely affecting much of our pitching.”

Alderson acknowledged that these new changes will be good for team and make Citi more fan friendly in terms of seeing more home runs.

“It’s not about tailoring the ballpark to a particular player or a particular composition of team, it’s about making Citi Field as fan-friendly and as exciting as we can make it. I think they’ll be good for the game, good for the fans. I’m sure that one or two of our players will benefit as well.”


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Rays Sign Allan Dykstra To Minor League Contract Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:36:55 +0000 Dykstra

The Tampa Bay Rays signed minor league free agent Allan Dykstra to a minor league contract on Saturday.

Originally a first round pick for the San Diego Padres in 2007, the Mets acquired him in 2011 for minor league reliever Eddie Kunz.

Dykstra spent four seasons with the Mets and always maintained an on-base percentage north of .400 at every level. Last season he batted .280/.426./504 for Triple-A Las Vegas where he made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

I was surprised he never got a cup of coffee with the Mets, considering how often the front office and player development people praised his approach at the plate.

“I was in San Diego when he was drafted,” said Sandy Alderson last season. “A couple of us were involved in trading for him from San Diego to bring him here. He has had a great season, and he has approached the game, offensively, the way the organization hopes to approach the game at the major-league level.”

Dykstra, 27, played mostly first base and should get an opportunity to win a job on the bench this Spring for the Rays.


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Latest On SS Alexei Ramirez: White Sox GM Not Pursuing A Trade Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:33:32 +0000 alexei ramirez

The Los Angeles Dodgers are are aggressively pursuing White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez in trade talks, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.

The Dodgers certainly have outfielders to move in any trade but have high a price tag on Matt Kemp, Nightengale adds.

As for the Mets, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin believes that the Mets and White Sox have yet to have any conversations about Ramirez, disputing an earlier report by Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago.

Adding to the mixed messages is White Sox GM Rick Hahn, who doesn’t sound very motivated in trading Ramirez unless a team was willing to overpay. “It’s certainly not something we’re pursuing on our end.”

November 18

Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reported last week, that the White Sox have heard from numerous major league clubs about the availability of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, and the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers are among the teams that have checked in.

Levine added that the Mets have been “the most aggressive in their pursuit of a shortstop over the past 12 months.”

“General manager Sandy Alderson has had his top scouts looking at shortstops such as Ramirez, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and free agents Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez extensively this past season. The Mets also have exactly what the White Sox are looking for if they agree to move Ramirez.”

The White Sox covet right-handed power pitchers and Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are reportedly at the top of that list, says Levine.

Ramirez, 33, is owed $10 million in both 2015 and 2016 (club option) and batted .273/.305/.408 last season. In 158 games he hit 15 home runs with 74 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. He leads all American League shortstops in base hits and RBIs since 2009.

(Updated 11/18)


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Pitching Or Hitting? Assigning Post-Steroid Era Value Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:41:39 +0000 jacob degrom

There’s been a lot of talk these days about value. Many Mets fans wonder whether stockpiling valuable pitching assets will prove advantageous in an era when scarcity dictates that quality hitters possess the most value.

Value metrics have become the go-to statistic among many fans in this discussion as they provide a practical tool for defining a player’s contribution. But it’s hard to assign a win-value to a player completely exclusive of contextual influences such as lineup, quality of competition, difficulty of position, and even effectiveness of coaching … to assign a definitive value judgment when comparing similar players based on WAR is dubious. WAR is a broad stroke metric. On any given leader-board you can find multiple instances of  players falling behind clearly less valuable counterparts. Jhonny Peralta is not more valuable than Miguel Cabrera, likewise Josh Donaldson is not more valuable than Giancarlo Stanton.

WAR is more useful in grouping players. You can, for instance, be confident that a 4 WAR player will be categorically superior to a 2 WAR player. WAR only becomes problematic when comparing players separated by smaller increments.

Now if we want to assign a relative value to offense in today’s game we can look at WAR over time. In the charts below you can see that there is a spike of 6+ WAR players right around 1998 (24) with a spike in 8+ WAR players occurring in 2004.


8 war

Interestingly, in 1994, at the height of the steroid era, there were only five 6+ WAR players and no 8+ WAR players. There is definitely a dip in number of high value players in recent years, but there have been other dips over the years and the correlation between the steroid era and numerous high WAR players isn’t as strong as you might think. Part of this might be whatever value is placed on a player’s defense and the possibility that steroids didn’t factor in as much on the defensive side of the game.

A statistic that I do like is OPS. It is the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. OPS is the only widely used statistic that incorporates all the elements of offense: patience, power, and contact.  It is a relatively simple stat that gives us a good solid offensive performance indicator. OPS over time yields a much more pronounced pattern as you can see below (I also included a wOBA comparison for good measure).

ops by year



As you can see, the spike at right around 1998 in both OPS and wOBA is significant and the decline from about 2002 on is steep. This correlates heavily with increases in numerous other offensive categories during the steroid era. The subsequent decline is considerable and in many ways trends all the way back to standards set back in the early 60’s.

The question nevertheless remains … how does this precipitous decline in offense translate in terms of here-and-now value? Clearly there are fewer high level offensive players than there were only a few years ago … scarcity dictates that their monetary value should increase accordingly. Why have good hitters become so hard to come by? Steroids certainly had something to do with the insane number of 900 and 1000 OPS players in the late 90’s, but as the wave of PED’s subsided, like water finding its level, pitching has slowly begun to ascend to pre-steroid norms. The reason why hitters have become so scarce is because they are increasingly overmatched by pitching, which may have benefited less from steroids than hitting did.

So where do you assign greater baseball value in today’s market, hitting or pitching? 900 OPS players are fewer and further between … so from a monetary standpoint elite hitters will be expensive, probably more expensive than pitching. On the other hand, in this great contest of pitchers vs. batters, the pitchers have been absolutely destroying the batters. Good pitching is in fact beating good hitting all over the place. Tough question.

If you have the money and resources, securing an elite hitter or two will give you a rare advantage because there are so few of them available. I took the top three salaries from every team in the league and split the money between pitching and hitting and sure enough in 2014, teams spent $520,008,647 on “top 3 in salary” pitchers, while they spent a whopping $818,182,379 on “top 3” team hitting. So there is quite a difference.

If you are on a tight budget it becomes difficult to field a balanced team when you apportion a huge percentage of your payroll to 1 or 2 hitters (availability is also a major consideration), and you may be better off cultivating a pitching heavy system (since it’s clearly pitching that is carrying the day anyhow). Ideally you’d want to augment with a host of young cost-controlled home grown offensive players as well … Sound familiar?

This goes back to an earlier discussion that compared Sandy Alderson’s approach with the Mets to Theo Epstein’s strategy with the Cubs. The Mets are going to have a lot of pitching coming up in the next few seasons and the Cubs are brimming with young position players. Theo’s premise goes something like, “Since hitters are so scarce, teams will trade more than their pitching equivalent in value to obtain them.”  According to Theo (and a lot of Cubs fans) because there are so few quality hitters Sandy Alderson should be willing to part with deGrom or Syndergaard and Herrera and Plawecki for a single Starlin Castro … but that’s money talking, and increasingly expensive hitters haven’t been winning on the field, cheap young pitching has.

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Braves Enter Yasmani Tomas Sweepstakes Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:51:10 +0000 yasmani tomas cuba

The Atlanta Braves have jumped into the mix for 24-year-old Cuban free agent Yasmani Tomas, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He is scheduled to hold a private workout for Braves scouts and officials in the coming days

Heyman says that the Braves could qualify as a surprise team and that they recently made room in the outfield by trading Jason Heyward. New Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has long loved power hitters, as folks may recall from his Cleveland and Texas days, adds Heyman.

The Padres have also ramped up interest in Tomas, while the Phillies have backed off until they can clear enough room on their payroll to sign him. Only a week ago, several reports suggested that a deal was imminent.

November 13

Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas is flying to the United States on Friday to meet with his agent, Jay Alou Jr., reports Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports, who believes a deal now appears imminent and could come as soon as this weekend. He adds that Alou is still planning to meet with four GMs in the next two days as the very active pursuit for Tomas comes to its conclusion.

Peter Gammons of MLB Network also reported that the San Francisco Giants are being urged by special assistant Felipe Alou to sign Tomas as a third baseman. The Phillies are still in the hunt and are trying to clear some money to get a deal done. The Royals are also considered to be in the picture.

November 9

Joel Sherman of the New York Post makes the case that the Mets should sign Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas.

Sherman says that signing Tomas would instantly energize the fan base and would show that ownership is indeed willing to spend when the time is right.

The Mets have been asking their fans to be patient for four years while a slew of prized young arms worked their way to the majors. That time is now.

He also points out that while Tomas could be a risk, it’s a risk worth taking given that the recent track record of righty Cuban power hitters — Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu — has been excellent. One scout who watched his workout likened Tomas to Albert Belle.

If it were possible to sign him, and I’m not saying it is, an added benefit would be pulling the rug out from under the Phillies who are the favorites to sign Tomas.

So what do you think, should the Mets sign him?

November 5

Confirming what has been a growing buzz, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is hearing from more and more sources that the Philadelphia Phillies are still extremely interested in signing free-agent Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas.

The Phillies sent one of the larger contingents to see Tomas during his first showcase, and they were the first MLB team to have him attend a private workout.

It seems pretty clear that given his young age and the state of the team, the Phillies are looking at his 70 rated power and seeing Tomas as not only a youth infusion but potentially a 30 homer bat as well. And after years and years of a sold out ballpark, they’ve got the money to spend.

Tomas has been linked to with varying degrees of seriousness to the Dodgers, Padres, Phillies, Twins, Rangers, Giants and Tigers.

It was interesting to note that multiple executives with teams interested in Tomas say that, if he were a free agent, he would be a $15 million per year player, making a 5-year, $75 million contract for 23-year-old reasonable. However, because he is not attached to a draft pick, and will be the subject of a bidding war, Tomas could easily top that.

“Tomas’ best attribute is his power, a trait that is in short supply in today’s game. Only 14 players hit 30 or more home runs in 2013, and fewer might reach that threshold this year.  Tomas has 70 raw power on the 20-80 scale,” wrote Baseball America’s Ben Badler, “So he profiles as one of those rare 30+ home run bats.”

I don’t like this year’s free agent class one bit, but Tomas is someone that the Mets should be looking at. And by looking I mean more than just a passing glance. The experts endorse him, scouts are impressed, and executives and GMs are in hot pursuit. That’s quite telling.


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Andrew Miller Has Multiple Offers, Mets Have “No Shot” Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:26:01 +0000 miller andrew

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports is reporting that reliever Andrew Miller has multiple three-year offers already in hand, making it increasingly likely that he will end up with a four-year deal.

Additionally, Morosi states that Miller’s current offers would give him the highest annual value ever for a reliever without closing experience. The high water mark is currently at $6 million.

Miller, 29, had a career year in 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles. Through 42.1 innings in Boston, Miller held a 2.35 ERA before being dealt for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. Down the stretch for Baltimore, he was even more impressive, posting a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings. His strikeout, home run, and hit rates were all at career-bests.

Several sources have indicated that Miller will not sign for less than four years, and isn’t listening to any other offers unless the average annual value is “astounding.”

The Red Sox and Blue Jays are among over a dozen teams that are interested in signing Miller, however the Mets are not in the mix.

Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that while the Mets are looking to add a lefty reliever at the Winter Meetings, there’s “no shot” they sign Miller.

Earlier this week, Sandy Alderson said there’s a possibility that pitching prospect Steven Matz can make his debut in 2015 as a left-handed reliever in the Mets bullpen. Read more here.

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ESPN Predicts Mets Trade For Seattle’s Brad Miller or Chris Taylor Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:56:53 +0000 chris talor bat

Jim Bowden of predicts that the Mets and Mariners will eventually get together on a trade this offseason that will send one of infielders Brad Miller or Chris Taylor to New York in exchange for one of their back-end starters – namely Dillon Gee, Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

Last week, an MLB executive told Adam Rubin that the two teams matched up well for a trade. And while Sandy Alderson has spoken very positively about Wilmer Flores at shortstop, there’s still a sense that he’d prefer a better defender at the position.

Rubin also noted that the Mets would have no problem sacrificing another draft pick and signing another free agent if the price is right. That would mean waiting the market out through January and seeing which players have been shutout. I don’t see the Mets taking this route, but others do.

November 12

Adam Rubin tweeted that the Mets and Mariners matched up well for a trade, according to a front office person and an agent. These two teams have reportedly been a good match for some time now, and we’ve reportedly scouted them a few times and they’ve scouted us. So this is not entirely new.

But who do they have that we would want?

We can throw away the earlier Michael Saunders rumors from last week now that the Mets opted for Michael Cuddyer. And we can also forget Nick Franklin, who was traded to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline.

Shortstop Brad Miller has often been mentioned, but he regressed in 2014, batting just .228 with a .289 OBP while striking out 95 times in 367 at-bats. One player that is seldom mentioned is the other M’s shortstop Chris Taylor.

chris-taylor-Taylor has always been considered a better overall defensive shortstop than Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, and after he was promoted he dazzled in the field showing superior range, soft hands and an above average arm. Scouts initially tabbed Taylor as glove-only utility infielder because he had no plus tools on offense aside from some speed.

However, Taylor confounded the experts and hit his way to a major league debut last July, and eventually he wrestled the everyday shortstop job away from Miller.

A 5th round pick from the 2012 draft, he batted .287/.347/.346 in his first 151 plate appearances in the big leagues. He has no power to speak of, but the 23-year old is a grinder who gets good wood on the ball according to observers.

The latest buzz from the Mariners is that they will make a big push for free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez and that could make both Taylor and Miller expendable. The Mariners are desperate for a power bat and we can’t help them there, but they could be interested in a Niese or a Gee for the back of their rotation which is also a concern for them. It’s certainly worth looking into it.


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Wheeler Has A Chip On His Shoulder, Wants To Win With Mets Fri, 21 Nov 2014 03:23:00 +0000 zack wheeler

While taking time out of his schedule to hand out packages of food to needy families for Thanksgiving today at Citi Field, Zack Wheeler was bursting with optimism about the Mets’ 2015 season.

“We’re going to win,” said the young righthander who also hopes he’ll be a part of the Mets renaissance.

“I’d rather not get traded but I’ve been through it before,” he said. “I know how it goes. I know it’s the business. So I’d rather not get traded and stay here because I know what’s about to happen here.”

“If you’re human you can only look at our staff and be like yeah they’re going to make it to the playoffs,” he said.

Wheeler couldn’t help thinking about how the San Francisco Giants traded him to the Mets and went on to win their third World Series in five years. After all, he was selected sixth overall by San Francisco and was supposed to be their future star.

“I came from the Giants. I saw it happen over there — a lot of homegrown talent, young guys coming up and stuff. They’ve won three World Series in five years. It sort of puts a bitter taste in my mouth.”

“Now I want to do it over here with these guys and show them a little bit. Obviously you look at them and you’re like, ‘Man, I could have won a World Series this year.’ But now it makes me want to work that much harder and do it over here with this group of guys.”

First Collins, then Sandy, now Wheeler… I think this playoffs talk is getting rather contagious… It’s good to hear Wheeler talk like this – he has a chip on his shoulder… Nothing wrong with that.


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Beltran’s Deal With Mets Was The Gift That Keeps On Giving Fri, 21 Nov 2014 02:51:34 +0000 tron carlos beltran

Paul Casella of Sports on Earth analyzed 15 years of data and ranked the top producing $100+ million dollar deals in baseball history. Coming in second was the seven year deal Carlos Beltran signed with the Mets in 2005. Casella considered every deal since 1999 when Kevin Brown became the first player to land a $100 million contract. Alex Rodriguez’ first 10-year mega deal with the Texas Rangers came in first.

2. Carlos Beltran, Mets (2005-11)
Contract details: Seven years, $119 million
Total/Projected WAR: 32.3
WAR/million: 0.27

Beltran was traded to the Giants during the final year of this deal, but that didn’t stop the Mets from getting their money’s worth. Not only did Beltran put up a .280/.369/.500 line to go with 149 home runs over his six and a half seasons with the Mets, but the return in that eventual trade was 2009 first-round pick Zack Wheeler.

In just his second year of the seven-year deal, Beltran racked up 41 homers and 116 RBIs, while helping the Mets come within a game of the 2006 World Series. He then exceeded 100 RBIs in each of the next two seasons, as well. That production is still paying off to this day as it ultimately helped the Mets bring in Wheeler, an integral part of the Mets’ highly-regarded starting rotation.

Always good to read something like this – it keeps the haters in check… Beltran was my favorite Met during his time with the team. It’s a shame he was so under-appreciated.


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Mets Hire Pat Roessler As Assistant Hitting Coach Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:30:59 +0000 Alex Rodriuez, Pat RoesslerThe Mets have hired former Yankees director of player development Pat Roessler as their new assistant hitting coach. He had been with the Yankees franchise for nine seasons before being fired last month.

Roessler, who has a strong relationship with new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long – who was also fired by the Yankees during the offseason – will have other duties with the team as well, according to Mike Puma.

The Mets introduced the assistant hitting coach job prior to the 2014 season with Luis Natera the first to fill the position. However, the position remained vacant after Natera and hitting coach Dave Hudgens were fired in May.


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Did Mets Wait Too Long To Trade Niese? Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:14:46 +0000 jon niese

Andy Martino of the Daily News wonders if the Mets blew it and waited too long to trade starting pitcher Jon Niese.

That there’s so little interest in him is a “striking contrast from two winters ago,” when many rivals were hotter for Niese than for the pitcher the Mets ultimately did move, R.A. Dickey, Martino writes.

“This winter, the Mets would argue that a talented, 28-year-old lefty with a team-friendly contract — $7, $9, $10, $11 million annually through 2018, with the final two years as club options — should bring value. And that might ultimately prove true, as the offseason progresses and trading partners lower their demands.”

“But as one official with a team who could be a fit with the Mets put it, ‘I think they underestimate the impact his injuries have had on perception. It’s not a team-friendly contract if he is on the D.L.’”

A team source told Mike Puma of the New York Post on Tuesday, “So far, very few inquiries from other teams about Colon, Niese and Gee, I was told. And “very few” might be overstating it.”

And when Arizona’s GM Dave Stewart was asked for his take on Niese, Dillon Gee, or Bartolo Colon, he bluntly replied:

“We don’t have any interest in those kind of guys. If we’re going to get something back for Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it’s going to be young, controllable pitching. Guys that aren’t making any money right now, who have a chance to grow within our organization.”

Martino concludes that despite Niese pitching 187 innings last year, teams are worried about a potential breakdown and that is the perception around baseball.

I think it’s still too early to worry… Everything may change in a month or two after Lester and Scherzer sign and the available pitching market shrinks.

(Updated 11/20)


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Mets Considering Re-Signing LHP Dana Eveland Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:32:02 +0000 dana-eveland-mlb-philadelphia-phillies-new-york-mets-850x560

Yesterday we learned the Mets were interested in bringing back right-handed reliever Buddy Carlyle, which you can read here.

Today, Adam Rubin of ESPN NY reports that Sandy Alderson also has interest in re-signing left-hander Dana Eveland.

Eveland, 31, had a 2.63 ERA in 30 relief appearances for the Mets, striking out 27 and walking six in 27.1 innings pitched. Eveland had a career best 1.09 WHIP after last pitching in the majors in 2012. Over nine major league seasons his WHIP is 1.629 with a 5.27 ERA.

It’s not known how Eveland has progressed since after being shutdown with inflammation in his pitching elbow in early September and being subsequently released after the season. If healthy, he’s worth bringing back on a one year deal.

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