Mets Merized Online » Mets Thoughts http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:32:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 MMO Free Agent Profile: Nick Markakis, RF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-free-agent-profile-nick-markakis-rf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-free-agent-profile-nick-markakis-rf.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168121 MLB: JUL 20 Rays at Orioles

Nick Markakis

Position: Right Fielder
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Age on Opening Day: 31

2014 Snapshot

While Nick Markakis didn’t return to his old self this year, he did bounce back significantly from a sub-replacement level season in 2013. He had solid seasons on both offense and defense, improving his wRC+ from 88 to 106 while improving most of his defensive metrics by a few runs as well.

His final line on the year was .276/.342/.386 with 14 home runs, 27 doubles, and a triple in 710 plate appearances. He ended the season with a 2.5 fWAR and a 2.1 rWAR.

Pros

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post pointed out, Markakis would make a solid leadoff hitter. Among right fielders, Markakis ranked ninth in On-Base Percentage last year with a .342 mark. Over the past few years, he has consistently walked in eight to nine percent of his trips to the plate, and owns a career 9.3 walk percentage. As a team, the Mets batted .235/.308/.333 in the leadoff spot this season, making Markakis a clear upgrade in this spot.

Assuming Curtis Granderson would move to left field, Markakis represents a clear upgrade in the outfield as well. Mets left fielders hit just .219/.306/.309, giving them an OPS 38 percent worse than league average this season. Markakis is already to be a league average hitter, and could definitely be even more productive than that. On top of all this, he’s just 30 years old.

Cons

While Markakis would definitely add to the Mets outfield, is he really the right fit? Probably not. Markakis is certainly a nice leadoff option, but the Mets already have a carbon copy of him at second base: Daniel Murphy. In fact, Daniel Murphy is slightly better than Markakis, and at a position where hitting is harder to come by The leadoff problem is more a problem of lineup management than personnel. If Terry Collins would just bat Murphy (107 OPS+ over last three year vs. Markakis’ 105), the leadoff problem would be solved. (Of course, the Mets could certainly decide to trade Murphy for a bigger bat this winter, in which case there would be a need for a leadoff hitter.)

Put lineup position aside for a minute and look at Markakis as a player. While his walk rate may make him an attractive leadoff hitter, he doesn’t have much else going for him. Over the last three years, Markakis has a mediocre 4.1 fWAR over 419 games. His fielding numbers have been dreadful almost his entire career, regularly playing ten or more runs below average. That greatly detracts from his value. Also, while he gets on base, he is doing so with less quality than he used to, with his power numbers dropping dramatically from early in his career. If the Nick Markakis of five years ago was available — the one who regularly had an ISO in the .160 to .190 range — then I would say he is a perfect fit for the Mets. However, the Mets need to add as much power as possible to their lineup, even in a leadoff hitter. So while Markakis may get on base at a decent clip (although it isn’t even that great), he is only a middle-of-the-road player that isn’t going to have a huge impact on the Mets if they were to sign him.

Projected Contract

Markakis is only 30 years old, which means he will be seeking, at absolute minimum, a three-year deal, and will be fighting like crazy to get a fourth or fifth year. As one of the younger options in a sea of mid-30s outfielders, Markakis will be helped by his age. Plus, with Yasmani Tomas and Nelson Cruz looking to sign monster contracts, Markakis and his main competition Melky Cabrera, will be vying for spots on teams with money but unable or unwilling to make a huge splash. Ironically, because only a few young, mid-range options exist this winter, teams may have to pay upwards of $50 million to ink either of them. Assuming the Orioles don’t take the big risk of giving Markakis a qualifying offer. Projection: 4 years, $44 million

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(Updated) Mets Can Learn A Lesson From The Royals? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/updated-mets-can-learn-a-lesson-from-the-royals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/updated-mets-can-learn-a-lesson-from-the-royals.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:32:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168109 James shields

Winning now over winning later. Whether or not that’s the mentality of Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore or not, it clearly had a lot to do with the trade that sent top prospect Wil Myers, Patrick Leonard, Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis back in 2012.

Myers hasn’t had a great start to his major league career. With the Rays for parts of 2013 and 2014, he’s managed to hit just .258/.324/.400/.724 with 19 home runs and 88 RBI’s in 660 at-bats. Obviously no one is ready to judge Myers yet. He’ll be 24 years old on Opening Day 2015 and has a long road ahead. But as Andy Martino of the Daily News points out, even if he turns into a Barry Bonds/Rickey Henderson/Babe Ruth hybrid, the Royals still made the right move.

Shields has become the ace of a staff that now finds itself in the World Series. Wouldn’t you know it, Shields will be taking the ball in game one against the San Francisco Giants tomorrow night.

This offseason, you can look at the Mets situation as being very similar to that of the Royals a few years ago. They are very close to be a winning team and Sandy Alderson will be in position to make trades before the 2015 season as they look to reach 80+ wins. Sure Myers was and still remains a fantastic prospect, but sometimes you have to pull the trigger in order to win in the moment, even if the deal isn’t perfect.

What the Royals showed us is that sometimes it takes a win now over a win later mentality.

Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland reflected on Dayton’s move.

“It was a gutsy move by Dayton and his staff. He took a lot of heat for it, but here we are two years later and we’re going to the World Series. A lot of times people in this game pass judgement too soon. A gutsy move by him. If he doesn’t make that move, we’re probably not here talking right now.”

The Mets are now in a position to trade for talent with their stockpile of prospects. Shields was never the best, but he’s exactly what the Royals needed to push them over the top. Somehow Moore knew exactly what was missing. Now we hold our breath and hope that Alderson knows what’s missing from the Mets as well.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Not so sure that I agree here. By now you all know my feelings on the annual “Mets should follow this model or that model.” I detest that kind of thinking because it’s shallow and because every team deals with differing geographical, internal, and financial considerations that make all 30 teams unique. Andy Martino should be smart enough to know this.

But in this particular instance with Kansas City, I see nothing here, but a Cinderella story that turns into a pumpkin in 2015 when they won’t be able to keep all these players together because of limited payroll flexibility.

Dayton Moore saw a limited window of opportunity to go for it and he rolled the dice. Good for him, I hope it pays off.

But the Mets are trying to build something entirely different in Flushing. Something bigger, better, brighter, based mostly on player development, and most importantly something lasting too.

As for Alderson, if he gets an offer that lands us a true difference maker and it requires a young arm, I have no problem with it.

But it’s on a case by case individual basis. No blank checks and it depends on who we get and who we give up. I certainly would never give up four players including two of my top three prospects for two years of a pitcher like Steve Shields. Or in contemporary context, Yoenis Cespedes or Jose Bautista.

As for Martino saying the Royals won the trade no matter what happens in the future? The guy’s insane in the membrane.

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How Alderson Stacks Up With Previous GM’s http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/how-alderson-stacks-up-with-previous-gms.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/how-alderson-stacks-up-with-previous-gms.html/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168148 gary-carter-new-york-mets-1 - Copy

Within the next two weeks we’ll witness the same scene that gets played out every October. Amidst the spray of champagne and exuberant shouts, the commissioner will be standing on a stage presenting a trophy to the owner, manager and General Manager of the World Champions. Now, if the commissioner would instead be presenting a trophy to the executives that promised the brightest future, we’d see Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and Fred Wilpon on that stage. But since it doesn’t work that way, we’ll have to wait.

Baseball always has been and always will be a business. It’s what have you done for me lately, not what will you do for me later.

Kirk Gibson guided his team to the playoffs in 2011, the same year he became Manager of the Year. Three years later, he was out of a job. Dusty Baker was dismissed by the Reds after he did get his team into the post-season, but management felt he should have taken them deeper.

In 1934, after hitting only 22 home runs and slugging only .537, what one journalist called “merely mortal” stats, Babe Ruth was traded to the Boston Braves. At age 39, Ty Cobb played in just 79 games. Although he hit .339, the Georgia Peach was not wanted by Detroit and signed with Philadelphia. At age 40, Cobb played in 133 games and batted .357. In 1965, the Cincinnati Reds believed that Frank Robinson was a “very old 30” and traded him to Baltimore. In 1966, that washed up player batted .316 with 49 HR and 122 RBI, leading the O’s to their first Championship. The GM who scooped up that old fogey was named Frank Cashen.

Since Baseball is a what have you done for me lately gig, now that our GM has 4 years under his belt, let’s look at what he’s done, not what he promises to do. And how he compares to previous Mets general managers.

We frequently hear the comparisons made between Cashen and Alderson. Cashen inherited a dysfunctional franchise without any bright stars on the horizon, one of the worst farm systems in the game, a weary and apathetic fan base. Upon joining the Mets, Cashen stated it would take 4 or 5 years to rebuild the team, but he promised a brighter future.

Many argue Alderson was dealt a similar hand. Personally, I’ve never felt that way. The 1979 Mets were far worse than the 2010 Mets. Cashen took over a team that finished 35 games back and won just 63 games. Alderson took over a team that finished 18 GB and had 79 wins.

But let’s look deeper at the Cashen/Alderson comparison.

By the time Cashen was hired, pitchers and catchers were arriving for spring training in 1980. The team was already set so there was no flexibility or time to do anything. The one substantial thing he did do that first year came months later, selecting a kid in the draft named Darryl Strawberry. In 1981, the seemingly unavoidable strike lingered in the air all year, handcuffing all general managers, including Cashen.

Dave Kingman (27)

Cashen did realize, however, that he needed to increase interest in the team. If he could get more fans to come out to Flushing it would give him more financial maneuverability. 1981 saw the arrival of fan favorite Dave Kingman followed the next year by Reds slugger George Foster.

History shows that their acquisitions had no bearing overall in the wins column. It did, however, have fans coming back to Shea and tuning in to WOR. Even if the Mets were losing by 4, 5 or 6 runs—something that happened a lot—by acquiring two of the biggest HR hitters in the league, the Mets always had the potential to get back into the game. It also sent a message to the fans. Ratings increased as did attendance.

In 1983, Cashen undid the darkest day in Mets history by reacquiring Tom Seaver. And although The Franchise was beyond his prime, seeing #41 on the mound at Shea gave us a reason to take in a game in Flushing. That same year, Cashen also traded for former MVP and proven winner Keith Hernandez. One month later, that Strawberry kid? Less than three years since he was selected out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, he would make his major league debut.

Frank Cashen

In 1984, led by Strawberry, Hernandez, another high school kid drafted two years earlier named Dwight Gooden, a young righty acquired from Texas named Ron Darling, and a newly promoted minor league manager named Davey Johnson, Cashen’s prediction came true. The 1984 club tallied 90 wins, the highest since 1969. Cashen’s Mets were in a pennant race for the first time in nearly a decade.

After 4 years, Cashen’s work paid off, his prediction came to fruition and his promise to the fans was fulfilled.

After 4 years, Alderson continues speaking about the future and making promises.

I decided to research deeper and see how our current GM stacks up against his predecessors. The results were rather disheartening.

Since 1970, the Mets have had seven primary general managers: Bob Scheffing, Joe McDonald, Frank Cashen, Joe McIlvane, Steve Phillips, Omar Minaya and Alderson. I’ve omitted Jim Duquette and Al Harazin since their tenures were less than two years. (You know, small sample sizes.)

bob scheffing (8)

Scheffing’s last year as GM, 1974, the Mets won 71 games. He was replaced by Joe McDonald who surpassed that amount his first year with 82 wins.

McDonald’s last year as GM, 1979, the Mets won 63 games. He was replaced by Frank Cashen who surpassed that amount in his first year with 67 wins.

Cashen’s last year as GM, 1991, the Mets won 77 games. After one year of Al Harazin, Joe McIlvane took over. Although the ’94 season was cut short, McIlvane was on pace to win 79 games, surpassing Cashen’s total in his second season.

McIlvane’s last year as GM, 1997, the Mets won 88 games. He was replaced by Steve Phillips who surpassed that amount in his second season with 97 wins.

Phillip’s last year as GM, 2003, the Mets won 66 games. He was replaced by Omar Minaya who surpassed that amount in his first season with 71 wins.

Minaya’s last year as GM, 2010, the Mets won 79 games. He was replaced by Sandy Alderson. Alderson still has NOT surpassed that mark.

In other words, Sandy Alderson stands alone as our only GM who has never won more games in a season than the GM he replaced. McDonald, Cashen and Minaya claimed more victories in their very first year at the helm, while Phillips and McIlvane did it in their second. In four years, Alderson still has not topped the final year of his predecessor.

sandy alderson winter meetings

With 2014 now in the books, Alderson has joined Joe McIlvane as the only GM with four consecutive losing seasons. If the Mets finish below .500 next year, Sandy will tie George Weiss (1962-1966) as the only GM with five straight sub-500 finishes. Although unlike Weiss, nobody will ever refer to Sandy’s Mets teams as Lovable Losers.

It isn’t just about how Sandy stacks up with his Mets predecessors, he needs to start winning for the sake of his own legacy. He hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, and 2014 was his ninth consecutive losing season as a general manager. He’s only had five winning seasons in 19 as a GM, and all of those were with Oakland when they were swimming in mega money

Perhaps 2015 will be the season when everything clicks for Sandy and his master plan will begin to take hold. Perhaps the Mets will overtake the Washington Nationals and the rest of the division to become a dominant force in the NL for the rest of the decade.

However, while Sandy Alderson continues to make promises, albeit with an occasional good joke or sound byte thrown in, results have yet to materialize on the field. And in that regard and through his first four years, what’s he done for us lately? Not much. Hopefully, that changes in 2015. Lets Go Mets.

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Should Mets Pursue Nick Markakis? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/should-mets-pursue-nick-markakis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/should-mets-pursue-nick-markakis.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:30:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168243 markakis

Devin asks…

What do you think about signing Nick Markakis for the outfield? I know we’re not signing anyone big, but he shouldn’t cost that much.

Joe D. replies…

First of all, I’m not entirely sure that Markakis will hit free agency. Sure his $17.5 million option was declined by the Orioles, but he’s very popular with the fans and a few Baltimore writers think the two sides are busy working out a new deal.

I’m betting he’ll get something in the range of three years and $30 million whether it’s with the O’s or if he does hit free agency. In my opinion, Markakis’ market will plummet if the O’s make him a qualifying offer. Him and his agent have to know that.

Markakis turns 31 next month and he’s a decent ballplayer who can get on base, doesn’t strikeout a lot, passable on defense, and he’s intense. However he has no speed to speak of, and the last time he topped 15 home runs was six years ago.

Call me crazy, but I’d bet we can get better production from Matt den Dekker and a right-handed platoon mate. Oh and did I mention MDD is five years younger and had a higher on-base than Markakis? Small sample size yes, but is Markakis really worth $10 million a year more than den Dekker? And please consider the huge disparity on defense and speed…

I don’t get the fascination with Markakis. He’s not a difference maker and he’ll get too much money for what I think is a pedestrian skill set that will only decline from this point on.

Thanks and keep those questions coming in.

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MMO Mailbag: Adding A Big Power Bat This Offseason http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-adding-a-big-power-bat-this-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-adding-a-big-power-bat-this-offseason.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168195 matt kemp

Stephen H. asks…

Joe, why are you always so against the Mets adding a big power hitter in the outfield? This team needs to score a lot more runs and a Matt Kemp,  Jose Bautista or a Nelson Cruz could be the one piece this team needs to get us into the postseason. Imagine if we had one of them this season instead of Chris Young who was a complete waste of money? I usually agree with you but lately you’re always knocking down any suggestions to do what it takes to add that big bat this team desperately needs. Please reply back.

Joe D. replies…

Actually there is one slugger I’d love to see the Mets go after and that’s Yasmani Tomas, so it’s not entirely true that I’m against adding a big bat. What I am against is going after players like the ones you mentioned. I am tired of continuously giving up draft picks, top prospects and huge amounts of money for players whose best seasons are behind them. I’m tired of the Mets getting stuck paying these players exorbitant sums of money and in return getting the worst seasons of their careers instead of their best. This is why I was against the Curtis Granderson deal last season.

In the case of Tomas I’m more open because one – we don’t have to give up any prospects to get him, two – we don’t forfeit a first round pick, and three – he’s only 24 years old. A team in a market as big as New York shouldn’t be on the sidelines for a young talent like this who could fill several needs. But it’s not happening, so enough on him.

While in the right circumstances it would be nice, I don’t agree that we need a 30-homer bat to get into the postseason in 2015.

I’m impressed by the Kansas City Royals and how they’ve come as far as they have while hitting the fewest home runs in the majors and being the only team with less than a hundred longballs this season.

The Mets hit 30 more home runs than the Royals this season, and yet Kansas City scored far more runs and had the higher slugging percentage. They also had 279 fewer strikeouts than the Mets and therein lies the big problem.

As I stressed on Friday, we need to make more contact. We need to reduce these alarmingly high strikeouts and put the ball in play. We leave too many runners on base and suffer from a severe lack productive outs. Putting balls in play puts pressure on the opposing team’s defense and advances runners.

This isn’t to say that power isn’t important, only that it isn’t as vital as everyone is making it out to be. Hopefully the new hitting coach can get this team back to basics and the Mets can again start using contact and speed to manufacture more runs. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FrankRobinson_display_image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Kind Of Free Agent Should Mets Sign? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/what-kind-of-free-agent-should-mets-sign.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/what-kind-of-free-agent-should-mets-sign.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:24:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167941 large_asdrubal-cabrera

Could The Mets Pursue Asdrubal Cabrera To Play Shortstop?

What was the best free agent deal the Mets ever pulled off? Unquestionably, it was Carlos Beltran. The uber-talented thoroughbred outfielder that the Mets used to have patrolling center field during much of the last decade….when he was healthy enough to play. Those Mets clubs of the 2000′s will go down in history as a monumentally under-achieving baseball franchise.

After all, they had the talent: Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Delgado, Alou, Pedro, Wagner. They spent money and lured many big names to come and play alongside Jose and David. But they always fell short, there were never enough complimentary players to help the stars carry the team. Corner outfield has been an absolute joke for a long time now. The Shawn Greens and Chris Youngs seem to keep on coming in a never ending conga-line of futility. Until this past season, the bullpen never had anyone beyond the closer and sometimes not even a viable one of those.

In the recent past, if any of their key players ever went down with an injury there was rarely anyone to replace them. Mets fans would agonize over those seemingly constant and lengthy DL stays by Beltran, Reyes, Pedro, Alou and Delgado. Having the big names is not always the answer.

Todd_Pratt

Winning a World Series is more often done by the little guys, the complimentary players. They may not be big name stars that make the fan base salivate, but if you have enough productive players on a given roster, you can win a championship anyway. Just ask Al Weis. Don’t remember the “Mighty Might”? How about “Sugar” Ray Knight? Too long ago? Todd Pratt…surely you remember “Tank”? (I know, they didn’t win a W.S. while he was coming off the bench for the Amazins, but it wasn’t his fault that they fell short.)

Let me bring up an example of the most recent Mets excursion into the world of free agency. Let’s step into the Wayback Machine, and join me as we travel all the way back to a year ago. Remember when they signed a power-hitting outfielder with upside, who is in the prime of his career? Yes I’m referring to Curtis Granderson….who sure doesn’t seem so grand to me.

Now they have an elephant in the corner (of the outfield). A pig-in-a-poke, a $15 million dollar a year non-contributor to the everyday lineup through the 2017 season. We were so happy to be rid of Jason Bay‘s contract, but then go right out and replace it with a similar 4-year deal for the Grandy-Man as soon as we have some money to spend.

I know many of the glass-half-full fans out there are burning at those last few remarks. You are thinking to yourself that Granderson may very well have a renaissance season in 2015, and he may. You are hoping he is poised to have a huge year just like in his Bronx heyday. So let me put it a different way because in respects to this guy I am a glass-half-empty type, even if they are moving in the fences mostly for his sake.

I think back to the free agents that were signed by past Met teams to be the ‘savior’, guys like: George Foster, Pedro Martinez and the aforementioned Beltran. It didn’t work, it rarely does.

But it’s too late for that. With the Mets now stuck in a Granderson gamble, the question is: do they have a reliable starting outfielder who will produce at  level commensurate with his huge annual outlay? It’s anyone’s guess but as a Mets fan I hate to be in that situation.

How many more times are the Mets going to go down the same path that got them to where they were the last few seasons?

I know it’s not the most popular sentiment among Mets fans who have suffered mightily, and who long to have a team they can take pride in. But patience right now will pay dividends. Within two years the Mets will have a wealth of young and talented players competing for major league opportunities.

kevin plaweckiPlayers like Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz, just to name a few. High-round draft picks, players with immense upside and talent, players who will make a difference.

Sure the Mets can afford to trade young talent to acquire some more advanced young talent, but there is no need to make a huge splash, or overpay. This is where “smarts” will prevail, and a conservative approach will serve Met interests better.

Shortstop and corner outfield remain the key right now. But with their obvious desire to explore trades for Daniel Murphy and their ability to move an established starting pitcher this winter, the Mets can upgrade one or both spots without necessarily trading any prospects, or signing a big time free agent.

When can you remember the Mets having a solid big league starting pitcher and an All-Star second-baseman that they head into the hot-stove season looking to trade for help elsewhere? I believe this is a first in that regard. So we need to sit back, relax, and see how this thing plays out.

As far as free agents are concerned, I like the complementary types right now. The lunch-box guys, the grinders, the over-achievers. Experienced players, but the type that are aiming to prove that they have something left in the tank. Low risk, high reward players. This may not be sexy, but it is smart. And where building a World Series winner is concerned, smart couldn’t hurt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

juan lagares

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

Here is just a small sampling:

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

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

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

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Lucas Duda Was Among The Best Batting Cleanup http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/lucas-duda-was-among-the-best-batting-cleanup.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/lucas-duda-was-among-the-best-batting-cleanup.html/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 17:50:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167140 lucas duda hr

It’s been an exciting postseason so far, one packed with plenty of memorable moments including dramatic comebacks, some thrilling clutch at-bats, and no lack of phenomenal pitching performances. This is what baseball is all about. All of that said, I’m still bored out of my mind with the Mets on the sidelines for yet another October.

One of our readers brought something to my attention last week that got me thinking. He pointed out how well Lucas Duda stacked up against the cleanup hitters of the four teams who competed in the AL and NL Championship series. It was worth checking out.

Cleanup Hitter OPS (Min. 275 AB)

1. Lucas Duda, New York – .838

2. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco – .798

3. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore – .781

4. Billy Butler, Kansas City – .758

5. Matt Adams, St. Louis – .726

Actually, Duda still stacks up very well when I included all ten postseason teams. I discovered that only Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers (.984) had a higher OPS. Adam LaRoche, Brandon Moss, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Neil Walker were all behind the Mets’ cleanup hitter. Amazing…

One more shot before I go… Can you guess which three cleanup hitters posted the worst OPS in the majors? At a combined 2014 salary of $63.125 million dollars, they are Adam Dunn (.721), Ryan Howard (.695) and Mark Teixeira (.676). Unsurprisingly, neither of their teams made the postseason and were a combined 52 games out of first place. You read it here first!

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What Does Future Hold For Matt den Dekker? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-what-does-future-hold-for-matt-den-dekker.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-what-does-future-hold-for-matt-den-dekker.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:52:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167831 matt den dekker

For most of the summer and into the off-season speculation among fans has raged that the hot stove priorities for the Mets should be to go outside the organization to procure a power hitting corner outfielder and a shortstop.  With a plethora of starting pitchers and a young and dynamic evolving bullpen, many Met fans believe their team is positioned to make some genuine progress should they add the offensive support the line-up needs.

With our abundance of pitching perhaps the Mets should steal a page from the Kansas City Royals and focus on building the positional side of their roster around defense and speed.  After all, it costs far less paying for speed and defense than power. Everyone understands when it comes to available spending resources, the Mets have very little if any wiggle room.

If defense and speed were to legitimately become deciding factors in the decision making process, perhaps Mets management needn’t look any further than the current 40-man roster for one of the answers – at least where the outfield is concerned. Enter Matt den Dekker.

Speculation suggested den Dekker’s elevation from Las Vegas to Flushing during the final two months of the season was a de facto audition of sorts and if that was indeed the truth, from my point of view he came away this fall with a passing grade.

In evaluating Matt’s season, it’s not enough to simply examine his total offensive stat line. His time in New York came in two shifts, the first an underwhelming stay at Citi Field, and the second an almost complete turnaround from his early season profile.

In fact, it was far more than stats that leave me feeling positive about den Dekker. He was a changed baseball player during his second act in Flushing this summer and it bears a closer examination.

After the 26 year old’s early season meltdown with the big club, Met brass informed their defensively gifted outfielder that he needed to go back to Vegas and work on his batting approach. The Mets specifically wanted him to cut back on his high strikeout rate and concentrate on making more contact in the batter’s box.

Den Dekker took that message to heart. When he returned to Citi Field in early August after tearing up the Pacific Coast League, the Fort Lauderdale native sported an entirely different batting style and batting stance that was difficult to overlook. His shortened swing and brand new batting philosophy made for some interesting chatter during Mets broadcasts as he made quite an impression on Keith Hernandez, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling. “If he remains dedicated to this new approach, I see great things for this young man,” Hernandez said. “It’s a remarkable transformation,” added Cohen.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Miami Marlins

The new and improved Matt den Dekker was impressing both teammates and Mets brass with what looked like an entirely new skillset and lot’s of offensive promise to go with it. Such an immediate change is not an easy thing for a professional athlete to do, but it speaks volumes about the intangibles and the mental toughness that Matt brings to the table for the Mets.

For his entire baseball career from college through the minor leagues and now for the Mets, den Dekker has always needed time to acclimate to his baseball surroundings as he advanced to a higher level. He hit only .234 as a freshman in college, but rebounded to bat .333 with a .926 OPS in his sophomore season. And when the Mets selected him in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, he batted a college-high .352 with a .434 on-base-percentage, while smashing 13 home runs and knocking home 49 RBI’s as a senior.

Den Dekker continued to tear it up at Single-A Savannah (.346/.404/.471) upon signing with the Mets after completing his senior year of college. So impressive was his showing, that in 2011 the Mets had him start his first full season as a pro in High-A St. Lucie (.296/.362/.494) where he continued to rake. However, his performance cooled considerably after his promotion to Double-A Binghamton halfway through the season.

But, by the spring of 2012, den Dekker had figured it out in Binghamton batting .340 for the B-Mets before yet another promotion and a mid-season call-up to Triple-A Buffalo. Once again, Matt struggled during his transition and his batting average fell to .220 while at Buffalo.

Once again, Matt showed that same bounce back capability and in an injury shortened 2013 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, he batted .296/.366/.486. In 2014, he owned the PCL, batting .335 (not enough plate appearances to qualify for batting crown) with a .947 OPS.

That same pattern of needing time to acclimate himself at a higher level was on full display this year at Citi Field. MDD I paled in comparison to MDD II.

Stint 1 – .156 AVG, .224 OBP, .424 OPS, 4  BB, 13 K, 49 PA.

Stint 2 – .289 AVG, .392 OBP, .766 OPS, 17 BB, 21 K, 125 PA.

And Matt was just warming up as the season ended. He hit .245 in August with a .351 OBP, but was sizzling hot in September, batting .328 with an impressive .426 OBP.

Adding to the makeover was the unprecedented plate discipline den Dekker displayed in the batter’s box his second time around, something we haven’t really seen at any point throughout his baseball career.

Adding to his value is the possibility he might solve the Mets desperate need for a lead-off hitter. Perhaps sensing the Mets’ need for help at the top of the batting order, Las Vegas manager Wally Backman kept batting him more and more in the leadoff spot during his time in Triple-A last year. MDD didn’t disappoint batting .354 in 212 at-bats atop the 51’s lineup with a .434 on-base-percentage and .571 slugging percentage. In a very small sample size, he hit .313 (15-48) at the top of the batting order for the Mets. In the 32 games he started in August and September for the Mets, the outfielder got on base in 27 of them. 

It would be hard to argue with the fact that Matt den Dekker brings an incredible defensive prowess to the team, but he also has great speed and strong base running instincts which also boost his value as a potential leadoff man. He is a dynamic baseball player who brings an aggressive, full throttle mindset to the team.

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Could Jay Bruce Be A Viable Trade Target? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/could-jay-bruce-be-a-viable-trade-target.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/could-jay-bruce-be-a-viable-trade-target.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:26:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168101 jay bruce

The Cincinnati Reds were a very interesting team this year. Finishing with their worst record since 2008, the team failed to make the playoffs after reaching the dance in three of the last four seasons. Looking to rebound from a down year, you have to wonder if the Reds would consider shaking things up. It could start with Jay Bruce.

Heading into 2015, there really isn’t much that will change regarding the Reds offense. Joey Votto is signed for another decade and Brandon Phillips and most of the youngsters won’t be free agents for a few more seasons. The pitching staff is a different story. Mat Latos and Mike Leake will become free agents after next season. It might be time to retool the rotation.

Bruce is signed through the next two seasons with salaries of $12 million in 2015 and $12.5 million in 2016. million. There’s also a club option for 2017. With the emergence of Billy Hamilton this year and with top prospects Jesse Winker and Phil Ervin waiting in the wings, the Reds might look to move the All-Star outfielder to improve their long-term outlook.

Trading away one of the teams top hitters might not make all that much sense. After all, the Reds ranked very low as far as National League hitting stats went in 2014. They were 14th in hits, 13th in runs and 14th in OPS. The one area that didn’t slip on the Reds was in the power department. They still managed to rank 8th in the NL in home runs despite Votto playing just 62 games. The emergence of Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco fueled their power numbers while Bruce finished third on the team with 18 home runs.

Bruce had a disappointing season. He hit just .217/.281/.373/.654 which is way below his career norms. Tracking just his OPS shows the decline in his game. After four straight seasons of an .800+ OPS, this year that number fell into the mid-sixties. You’d imagine this was an aberration for Bruce.

The main reason the Reds could look to move Bruce is because of their upcoming financial situation. After the 2015 season, they will be losing team control over a number of key players. Johnny Cueto, Ryan Ludwick and reliever Sean Marshall could all walk after next season. That means the time is now for the Reds to regroup. Trading Bruce to the Mets could enable the Reds to add a top pitching prospect in addition to a few major league ready pieces. They could even shore up their bullpen which featured the 5th worst ERA in baseball despite throwing the fewest innings.

Now you have to ponder, what would it take for the Mets to actually pry Bruce away from the Reds? You’d imagine they’d want a major league ready pitcher under team control like Jon Niese. They’d also probably want a high-upside starter like Rafael Montero or even Noah Syndergaard. They might even want a big piece for the bullpen like a Jenrry Mejia or Vic Black. I’m not sure the Mets would part with Syndergaard in a trade for Bruce but maybe, just maybe, Montero, Niese and one more player would be enough to get it done.

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Mets Not The Only Ones Seeking A Power Bat http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-not-the-only-ones-seeking-a-power-bat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-not-the-only-ones-seeking-a-power-bat.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:38:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168060 jed lowrie

With two key areas of need for the Mets, they will have plenty of competition for free agents this offseason according to ESPN New York’s Mark Simon.

At shortstop, the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics will both also be in the market after Derek Jeter‘s retirement, and Jed Lowrie reaching free agency. On the top of their list could be Hanley Ramirez, although ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand thinks they will likely re-sign Stephen Drew on a buy-low deal. “…that’s good news for the Mets if they want to be in the hunt for Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie” Simon said.

Obviously the Mets will have the edge over the Yankees if it comes to trading for a shortstop with their incredibly deep farm system. Aside from lefty Dellin Betances, the Yankees have little to offer in a trade.

After trading prospect Addison Russell in the Jeff Samardzija trade and with Lowrie’s free agency looming, the A’s will have to make a move, but Billy Beane‘s buy low strategy should keep them out of the way on guys like Ramirez and Lowrie. Finally, the Dodgers will be looking to replace Ramirez but if their new General Manager Andrew Friedman wants to lower the payroll, they might have to buy low on someone.

Hanley Ramirez

Another need for the Mets is a power hitter. As Simon points out, the Mariners, Reds, Tigers and White Sox will all be in the market for someone to drive in runs. The Mariners need a guy to hit with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager and the White Sox need the same with the departures of Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Alejandro De Aza.

The Tigers and Reds will be in slightly different situations. Both are coming off disappointing seasons. The Reds had their worst season since 2008 while the Tigers have regressed from their American League Championship Series and World Series appearances in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This year they were bounced in the Division Series.

Unlike the Reds who will have to spend on guys like Johnny Cueto, the Tigers will have a ton of money coming off the books with Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter. “Given owner Mike Ilitch’s seemingly bottomless pockets and general manager Dave Dombrowski’s history of spending, we’d expect the Tigers to go after the biggest names and also prioritize re-signing David Price and adding to their bullpen. But if a big bat became available, we’d expect them to pursue it” Simon said.

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Should We Open 2015 with a Six Man Rotation? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/should-we-open-2015-with-a-six-man-rotation.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/should-we-open-2015-with-a-six-man-rotation.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:30:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168085 wheeler harvey

With all the discussion around which pitcher or pitchers the Mets will deal this offseason, I’ll toss this one out there… what about opening the season with a six-man rotation?

Before dismissing this as folly, it may actually make sense – especially with Matt Harvey coming off Tommy John surgery and likely being on some sort of innings limit. We’re all hoping that the Mets will be contenders in 2015 and we’re not all that far removed from the 2012 controversy surrounding Stephen Strasburg when he was shut down for the postseason the year after his own surgery. This is something we surely don’t want to see if the Mets are playing October baseball.

Another potential reason to look into carrying these six starters is the depth. Inevitably, someone will be sidelined with an injury. The team can always drop back down to five and not miss a beat. Or they can look to slide Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero into the sixth spot (provided one or both wasn’t traded). And if the season becomes a total disaster and the Mets are looking to make a trade in season, we’d be looking to jettison someone anyway.

The rotation is a strength. Use it. Someone will inevitably go down. Stay strong with MLB quality depth to help get to the postseason. Make sure Harvey is strong enough to pitch into October and let the rest of the starters battle it out to fill out the remainder of the postseason rotation.

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Featured Post: Can Wilmer Flores Find Stardom At Second Base? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-can-wilmer-flores-find-stardom-at-second-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-can-wilmer-flores-find-stardom-at-second-base.html/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:12:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167459 wilmer flores

The Mets have more than a back-up plan should Daniel Murphy be moved in the offseason, they quite possibly have upgrades.  It’s still a gamble though, Murphy’s production is solid and he has sustained it over the course of several years.  In 126 games at second base this year, he batted (.302) with 34 doubles, 9 home runs and 53 RBI’s.  A critical issue with the Mets offense this year was the inability to hit with men on base.  However, Daniel’s numbers over the last few years suggest he’s part of the solution to that problem, particularly in high pressure scoring situations.  Since 2011, he’s posted remarkable slashline of (.337/.404/.902) when there are runners in scoring position with two outs.

The caveat to Murphy’s offensive talent is his defense.  In a recent ESPN article, Mark Simon noted that, Murphy has been at -10 or worse in Defensive Runs Saved for three straight seasons, meaning that his glove “neutralizes” his offensive upside.  Overall, Daniel is a unique asset and I do not agree wholeheartedly with Simon’s analysis.  Murphy possesses a set of tools that does come with extreme highs and lows, but the net result of his production is still valuable.  So, if he were traded this offseason, what options do the Mets have internally?

One possibility is Dilson Herrera, considered by most scouts to be a top 100 prospect in all of baseball.  The 20 year old Columbian received a surprise call-up from Double-A Binghamton in September and showed a lot of promise.  Herrera only hit .220 during his brief stint, but managed to crank three home runs, a triple and eight RBI in just 59 at-bats.  He flashed the tremendous bat speed that evaluators raved about, but he needs more polishing, which is why he’ll likely start 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas.  The idea of trading a productive Murphy before Herrera has proven he is ready for a full time promotion brings a ton of risk.  Then there’s the ever forgotten man, Wilmer Flores.

I say forgotten man because Flores didn’t burst on to the scene like many fans expected and his name began to disappear more and more from conversations regarding the future of the Mets.  In all fairness though, he played in another stratosphere when his glove was at second base this year.  The numbers are relatively similar to Murphy’s, except for one category, power.  Get this, Wilmer’s (.563) slugging percentage was (.266) points above his (.297) batting average.  That isolated power (Batting Average – Slugging) was tops in the major leagues among any player who swung a bat as a second basemen.  Wilmer played 18 games at the keystone, so there isn’t a tremendous sample size to evaluate him off of, but every scout and organizational evaluator believed he was capable of that production from the moment he was drafted.

Wally Backman stated that Flores was the best RBI guy he ever managed, which is why he often batted the young Venezuelan third in the lineup.  The defense was never expected to be a premium tool of Wilmer’s, and while his efforts at shortstop were commendable, his glove, footwork and range all improved significantly at second base. Couple that with a powerful arm and he posted some nice little web gems at second, like this one.

The defensive confidence certainly had an impact at the plate, as Flores’ wRC+ of 152 and wOBA of (.385) were better than all qualified second baggers.  Again, I’ll reel in the enthusiasm because it’s only 18 games, but it’s fascinating where advanced sabermetrics rank him during that time nonetheless.  His extra base hit totals during that span, spread over a conservative season of 150 games, would give him 50 doubles and 25 home runs, respectably.

By comparison, Murphy is more of a pure hitter, but Flores wasn’t far behind and his bat has way more pop than Daniel.  Wilmer’s performance at second base was what the Mets were hoping to see from Dilson Herrera someday, so if it’s already here, do the Mets take a gamble and hand the reigns to Flores?  This is a critical decision for GM Sandy Alderson, make the wrong move and it could either weaken the Mets offense or impair player development.  Make the right move and its money well spent or tremendous bang for the buck.

So, is Wilmer Flores the next big second baseman in NY?  Let us know your thoughts.

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Dodgers’ Outfield Surplus May Pose An Opportunity For Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/dodgers-outfield-surplus-may-pose-an-opportunity-for-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/dodgers-outfield-surplus-may-pose-an-opportunity-for-mets.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:49:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167716 royals

Ah, the post-season, or if you’re a Mets fan, another year of watching the new Fall TV Season on your big flat screen, while fans in other cities watch their teams compete in the playoffs.

There is no question that the last five seasons have been painful to watch unfold. We saw a potent offense get dismantled, along with a slashed payroll to help two con artists disguised as real estate entrepreneurs get over their misplaced faith in a criminal known as Madoff. It’s been hard as we watched players like Collin Cowgill, Brad Emaus, and Ruben Tejada get touted as diamonds in the rough, only to be exposed when they faced real pitching from the big boys.

Through it all, I have personally kept the faith with this front office. Ownership and the manager, not so much. I understand the value of trying to build something that can stand the test of time, and using the draft and young talent to provide a foundation for future success. The downside being that we would have to endure some dreadful baseball along the way. We are not alone in this regard, teams such as the Rays, Rangers, and even the Cardinals restocked and replaced over priced veterans using this model, with the St. Louis franchise now the standard bearer for how to build a perennial winner.

As has been well documented on MMO, this time of re-structure, re-tooling, and re-whatchamacallit has seemingly reached its nadir. There is plenty of excitement regarding the young pitching that will take the mound at Citi Field in 2015, and with good reason. Young power arms who can blow away opposing hitters, and with a bullpen that can hold any lead after the 7th inning. Dare I say it, things are looking up. But with such a surplus of talent, speculation is rampant on whether we can address the deficiencies on offense. The time to trade for that power hitting outfielder is now, screams every corner of Metsdom. But who is available in trade? Who do we match up with? Will we get taken to the cleaners?

This is where is gets crazy, these pages have already seen a million trade rumors with a plethora of suggested bats for the lineup, and to be honest, most of these trade efforts try to give the Mets a better shake of the stick. By far the most consistent trade rumors are those involving the Cubs, Diamondbacks, or Red Sox. Primarily as these teams have either great young infielders/outfielders but are lacking good young controllable pitching.

Typically, baseball trades do not work they way we expect them to. For example, for all the chatter about how the Metropolitans match up with the Cubs, nearly every published report has stated that neither team can find common ground on which pizza to eat at the bargaining table, let alone what players to swap. The D’Backs have a plethora of shortstops, but any mention of the Norse god of Thunder (Syndergaard) as return should result in a resounding no! So, are these all our options?

My answer would be no, but the team we match up with (and the player) might surprise you. I give you, a very disgruntled Los Angeles Dodgers team who may want to shake things up. The Dodgers have Hanley Ramirez departing via Free Agency, although the Dodgers have plenty of infield talent to fill that hole. However, the back end of their rotation will need shoring up after the retirement of Josh Beckett and the uncertainty around the return from injury of Chad Billingsley.

So, how do we match up with them Bums? Obviously, the first place to look would be in their crowded outfield. Uber prospect Joc Pederson will need to find room to play, so in my view its not if the Dodgers deal one of the surplus, its when. The real question afterwards is who will they deal? Lets take a look at the options.

The aforementioned Pederson isn’t going anywhere unless there is a team willing to part with at least two young pitching prospects, with a major league reliever possibly to boot. He will be on LA’s opening day roster and starting lineup in 2015, book it.

Andre Ethier was a decent contact hitter who is now on the big down slope of his career. As if that wasn’t bad enough he is owed over $50 million over the next three years, if that doesn’t scream stay away, not sure what will. Even if we offered Josh Edgin and LA pays 50% of his salary, its not worth it.

Scott Van Slyke is the favorite of many a Metsmerized commenter, he is young, put up an OPS of .919 in 246 at-bats, and can play anywhere in the outfield (though his defensive metrics aren’t wonderful). If the price is a Dillon Gee and a lower lever reliever (or possibly even a Jenrry Mejia), this is a deal that should be considered, though I think the Dodgers will ask for more.

Matt Kemp is an intriguing possibility. His late season surge in 2014 proves that he is still capable of being the offensive juggernaut that won him the mega contract in 2011. But he is also very brittle and susceptible to falling on his finger nail and being out for the season. I do not believe the Mets bite unless LA eats a very obese portion of that contract, and even then the return may have to be a Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler. Let’s leave this one alone.

There’s also Carl Crawford who is owed $63 million for his declining skills over the next three seasons. That’s more annually than David Wright. Interested? I didn’t think so.

yasiel puig

And that brings us to, Yasiel Puig, the Cuban phenom with the mercurial personality to go with the talent. No way the Dodgers deal him, right? Well, there are several reasons why they might entertain such a deal. One, after yet another post-season failure, the Dodgers may be looking for scapegoats (are you listening Donny Baseball?) and Puig did himself no favors with how he acted in the Division series. Plus with the Kemp, Crawford and Ethier contracts practically unmovable, this might be the roll of the dice they are willing to take. It bears noting that rumors are already making the rounds that Billy Beane might be making a pitch for Puig. Where there’s smoke?

What I believe is more amazing however is that the potential candidates we can send to LA may not be as onerous as one would believe. As I stated previously, the Dodgers need backend rotation help, catcher, and potentially bullpen or third base. What about Juan Uribe you ask? Well, he’s someone who hasn’t been able to stay on the field more than 130 games each of the last four years, and perhaps Daniel Murphy at the hot corner can appeal to the Dodgers. Add either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki to that package, and perhaps you are starting to generate a strong basis for a deal. Of course now some pitching will have to be added to the deal at this point, be it Niese, Mejia, Matz, or Ynoa. And Puig then gets to entertain the Big Apple.

The 23-year old Puig slashed at a .296/.382/.480 clip in pitching friendly Dodger Stadium with 37 doubles, 9 triples and 16 home runs in 640 plate appearances.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but keep in mind that Puig has turned off many in the Dodgers’ front office and clubhouse alike. His poor display in the Division series (and the Cardinals knew how to get to him) must have had some Dodger execs shaking their head. He was even benched in the NLDS finale by manager Don Mattingly. Also, having the young right fielder come to New York, and its large Cuban population, might do him good.

You gotta at least admit; it’s a possibility.

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The Splendor and Folly of Yoenis Cespedes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-splendor-and-folly-of-yoenis-cespedes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-splendor-and-folly-of-yoenis-cespedes.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167970 yoenis cespedes

cespedes stats

What’s not to like? Especially when you compare that production to the last three years of Mets left fielders? Sure, Yoenis Cespedes is an intriguing name, but like those that came before him – Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales to name just two – it’s just more wishful thinking about something that has very little chance of happening.

I don’t want to rain on your off-season parade, but as good as he is, Cespedes will be far too costly for the Mets, both in terms of potential salary and perhaps more importantly, the prospects they must surrender to get him.

Let’s look at salary first.

Cespedes, 28, will make $10.5 million this season, after which he will become a free agent. The Mets can afford the $10.5 million for one year, but why would they give up talent for a one-year rental? That makes no sense.

As they did with Johan Santana, the Mets will have to agree to terms with Cespedes on a multi-year extension before completing a trade. That’s the way these things work. No extension; no trade.

Cespedes’ demands – and I’m guessing here – could be in the area of five-plus years and close to $90 million, if not more.

When you consider a five-year contract for Cespedes, you must also take into consideration the money they’ll be paying David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and in the future, possible long-term deals with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler among others.

As far as what it would cost in terms of talent to acquire Cespedes, remember the Red Sox gave up Jon Lester (even if it was only 14 weeks) to acquire him, who is better than anybody in the Mets’ rotation.

Personally, how far-fetched is it to think Boston might not just re-sign Lester, which would give the Sox both Lester and Cespedes.

Yes, Jon Niese is just one name who has some value, but it will also have to take some of the young pitching among Harvey, Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom. One of those four plus Niese is the price – or maybe it’s just a starting point. The Red Sox are in the hunt for controllable top of the rotation arms.

Sure, I like Cespedes and he’d look good in a Mets’ uniform, but I’ve been watching these new Mets long enough to know there’s little chance of this happening.

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MMO Fan Shot: Should the Mets Pursue Alex Rios? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-should-the-mets-pursue-alex-rios.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-should-the-mets-pursue-alex-rios.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:08:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167954 Alex-Rios

An MMO Fan Shot by yfern328

Now that Texas declined Alex Rios‘ option, should the Mets be interested in Rios on a one-year deal? Something like a Chris Young deal?

Although Rios’ drop in power numbers was a bit alarming, he still managed to hit 30 doubles and 8 triples. I like him as a buy-low guy who could be a great one year stopgap until prospects like Brandon Nimmo are ready. I also really value Rios’ batting average of .280.

Personally I think the Mets could benefit from having guys that put the ball in play more often. Rios managed 3.92 pitches/plate appearance (52nd in MLB) so he works the count and manages a .280 BA overall which I like. More importantly he managed to post a .325/.353/.545 line against LHP with a 142 wRC+.

He strikes me as a guy that you could easily platoon with Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Considering that Rios also stole 17 bases last year, he’s a prime guy to bat lead-off with den Dekker/Nieuwenhuis in a platoon. I like the idea of having the lead-off spot capable of posting a .350 OBP with the platoon and also bringing some speed.

If Rios returns to his 15-20 HR self, then we have a guy we can move down in the order to around 6th-7th. Additionally he can serve as trade bait mid-season. Rios also had very even Home/Road splits which is encouraging.

This type of lineup would work for me:

Alex Rios (Matt den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis)
Daniel Murphy
David Wright
Lucas Duda
Travis d’Arnaud
Curtis Granderson
Wilmer Flores
Juan Lagares

Rios wasn’t the best defender last year, but late in games he can always be swapped with den Dekker or Kirk.

Additionally I like that we get to have a longer look at MDD, and it gives Nimmo some time at AA/AAA in 2015 to iron out the kinks. Rios wouldn’t be a splashy addition, but I think it can be a very practical move for this front office on the right deal.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader yfern328. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Hits & Misses: So What’s The Plan? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-hits-misses-so-whats-the-plan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-hits-misses-so-whats-the-plan.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:30:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167886 HITS N MISSES

Oh, Omar!

We had a reunion of sorts on MMO on Tuesday. I think it’s absolutely amazing how the mere mention of Omar Minaya sends a beacon out to long forgotten readers who come scurrying back for a one night only performance. And the things you hear. my God, it’s incredible. For example we had one reader who says Minaya is a moron because he had no idea who Lucas Duda was when a reporter asked about him last summer. Oh, and did you know, that apparently Omar Minaya had no input whatsoever in drafting Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom because he was only in charge of drafting college relievers not college starting pitchers. Hilarious. :-D

So What’s The Plan?

The number one question I’m always asked is what will the Mets do this offseason. It all depends on how much money they could free up by trading one or more of Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee. Right now there is no spending money, none. With payroll remaining around the same $85 million or perhaps a slight uptick to $90 million, the Mets will need to create some flexibility before determining who they can target.

One thing is certain, and regular MMO readers should already know this, we’re not bringing in any significant players like a Yasmani Tomas or Jose Bautista or anyone else that will demand a huge monetary outlay. Enjoy Curtis Granderson while you can because you won’t see the Mets make another financial commitment similar to that this offseason. When you’re operating with a $85-90 million payroll, you can’t concentrate $50-55 million of it on three players, it’s unheard of.

Hitting Coaches Are More Important?

Raise your hand if you wish the Mets had handled the manager position with as much due diligence as they seem to be attacking the hitting coach position. Apparently the Mets had no qualms firing Lamar Johnson even though they had no replacement in mind. But that’s a good thing. Now the Mets have the luxury of interviewing all the available options like Kevin Long and Dave Magadan. There’s a lot of great choices to choose from.

Meanwhile, they committed to Terry Collins long before the season ended, not even waiting to see which managers became available. I guess it’s not like the manager is as important as a hitting coach though, right? 

Disgruntled Blue Jays Fan?

I read something interesting on the comment threads of MLB Trade Rumors last weekend. ”Let’s see how Met fans gloat now that Sandy Alderson has to actually go after some real major league pieces to try and contend. That’s assuming he has the balls to do it.” It could have also been a Pirates fan I guess.

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Bring In The Fences, Bring On The Controversy… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bring-in-the-fences-bring-on-the-controversy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bring-in-the-fences-bring-on-the-controversy.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167869 curtis granderson

As was reported on Tuesday by Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, the Mets are poised to renovate the dimensions of Citi Field for the second time in four years. Once again the team plans to bring in the fences, this time concentrating their efforts on the right-center and right field walls.

Why do this, you may ask. Citi Field ranked 7th in home runs surrendered in 2014 and it was tied for 8th in 2013. So over the past few seasons, Citi has been neither hitter nor pitcher friendly. So what’s to be gained?

The easy answer is that despite Sandy Alderson’s assertion that these changes aren’t designed to tailor the ballpark to any particular players, it is. Both David Wright and Curtis Granderson stand to benefit the most. Is that the right thing to do? Reaction, as is always the case with the Mets’ fan base, has been mixed. There are two prevailing arguments against moving the fences in again.

The most popular opinion is that doing so will adversely impact the Mets young pitching staff. This one has it’s merits. Of course, if the new Citi Field dimensions would promote more home runs for the home team, it’s reasonable to assume the same for the visitors. However, isn’t it also reasonable to think that the better pitching staff will prevail regardless of the dimensions?

Johnny Cueto didn’t seem to struggle in posting a 2.25 ERA despite half his starts coming in the band box that is Great American Ball Park. The same can be said for Cole Hamels and his 2.46 ERA playing in the small confines of Citizens Bank Park. Does this mean that Mets pitchers won’t be negatively impacted? Of course not. But it does illustrate that very good pitchers are just as capable of putting up excellent numbers even in stadiums that are regarded as hitter friendly.

The second and most frustrating argument by those against the changes is simply this…Get better players! That view is often partnered with the oh so popular, “opposing teams didn’t struggle to hit home runs at Citi Field.”

Although that may be true (71 vs. 59), getting better players isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. Power is in steep demand. Only eleven players mustered 30 or more home runs in 2014. Given the current Mets ownership and front office combination, such players aren’t as likely to find their way to Queens as they once were. So why not take steps to assist those players who are already here?

david wright

There’s also another added benefit to bringing in the walls. The Mets are still trying to overcome the mental stigma attached to Citi Field since its construction.The park is still in their heads and many players openly admit to how difficult Citi Field is for hitters. And don’t think for one second that those notions wouldn’t play into a free agent’s decision making process in the future. So while it may not be this Winter, should the Mets ever re-enter the big-ticket free agent market again, it would be beneficial if their ballpark wasn’t working against them.

If it’s a more immediate impact you prefer, think about what a shorter porch would mean to the outfield defense. Juan Lagares could play a few more steps in, thus allowing him to steal even more hits in shallow center field. An aging Curtis Granderson – or some other acquisition in the not so distant future – would have that much less room to cover in right making limited range a lesser concern. Assuming tour pitchers can continue to keep the ball in the building, it’s very likely many of those balls that dropped in will now be tracked down. I realize that this too works both ways, however, with outfield defense being one of our strengths, the Mets may benefit more than the visiting teams in this scenario.

As is the case with most things baseball, winning cures all ills. Will a smaller Citi Field lead to more wins? I can’t predict the future, but I’m confident that it’s more likely to help the franchise than hurt it in the long run.

The Mets have yet to make a playoff appearance, or even post a winning season since Citi Field opened. The ballpark is gorgeous, but it has been a burden to many of the team’s best players. If making these alterations helps their performance or even their psyche, it’s something the team brass had to consider and it now appears they’ll move forward with the plan. Citi Field is changing again. Hopefully, it’s not the biggest change we see this winter, but on its own it was the right call.

Like what you read? Hit me up on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.

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MMO Fair or Foul: Alderson Is Executing His Strategy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fair-or-foul-alderson-is-executing-his-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fair-or-foul-alderson-is-executing-his-strategy.html/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:30:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167861 fairorfoul

Joel Sherman of the New York Post shared some thoughts on Sandy Alderson’s draft strategy and believes that his picks fits into the current philosophy for the team moving forward. Here’s what he had to say about two players making a big impact this year who were available when the Mets selected Brandon Nimmo in the 2011 draft:

If you are wondering where Daniel Murphy’s successor at second base is for the Mets, try the NLCS.

Both Kolten Wong and Joe Panik were available when the Mets used the 13th pick in 2011, Sandy Alderson’s first draft as general manager, to take Brandon Nimmo. Wong went 17th to the Cardinals, Panik — who had been playing in the Mets’ backyard at St. John’s — went 29th to the Giants.

Now, a sensitive Mets fan just might note the Mets will be happy to go with Dilson Herrera or Wilmer Flores at second if Murphy is moved, and the Mets still might be rewarded for taking Nimmo, who had a blossoming year in the minors this season.

But that is the point. Nimmo played at Single- and Double-A this year. In fact, no one from any of Alderson’s four draft classes has thrown a single pitch or taken a single at-bat in a major league game while the past two postseasons have been littered with players who have.

bryan green

As Sherman explains, Alderson was never playing for 2013 and 2014 but now the time has arrived. The front office has to begin to see those drafts picks pan-out.

During last postseason, the Mets had to explain their strategy about going after high-school positional assets to take Nimmo rather than Oakland’s Sonny Gray (who went seven picks later) — not to mention Miami’s Jose Fernandez (who was taken 14th) — and then Gavin Cecchini with the 12th selection in 2012 rather than Michael Wacha, who went 19th to the Cardinals (Marcus Stroman, who grew up in the Mets’ backyard in Long Island, went 22nd to the Blue Jays).

In 2013, the Mets again emphasized a high-school position player, taking first baseman Dominic Smith. He is just 19 and viewed as a legitimate prospect, despite hitting problems at Low-A. But it is Low-A. The Cardinals took Marco Gonzales 19th and his role appears to be expanding, as he so far has four shutout appearances and two wins in his transition from starter to reliever for this postseason.

kolten wong

It’s all about emphasizing the idea that when you pick high, you have to hit on those picks. As he points out, the Giants have done just that and have done a lot of winning during their current stretch:

But it highlights how vital it is to hit on picks when drafting as high as the Mets have during Alderson’s reign — it is the gift for being a bad team. The Giants, for example, have drafted well, not great. However, in the last 16 years, they have had four top-10 picks and haven’t missed: Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and Zack Wheeler.

Sherman concludes that while we watch guys like Wong and Panik in the postseason, Nimmo, Cecchini, Smith and Conforto are all waiting in the wings for the Mets. His question is, will we ever see those four in the playoffs?

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