Mets Merized Online » Mets Thoughts http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:29:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 From Left Field: Mets Should Look To Red Sox As Trade Partners In Offseason http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/from-left-field-mets-should-look-to-red-sox-as-trade-partners-in-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/from-left-field-mets-should-look-to-red-sox-as-trade-partners-in-offseason.html/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:10:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162287 Yoenis Cespedes at the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Yoenis Cespedes at the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field (Photo by Jim Mancari)

So another July 31 trade deadline has passed, and while the Mets maybe weren’t so active right now, some of the deals that occurred could actually affect the Amazin’s this offseason.

The Boston Red Sox completely overhauled their pitching staff by trading Jon Lester and John Lackey, as well as Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller.

In exchange, the Sox received two prominent outfielders: Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig. In looking at the team’s pitching however, it leaves must to be desired.

That’s where the Mets come into play.

It’s no secret that the Mets need a bat, and now the Red Sox could use a few arms, which the Mets have. So I wonder if these teams will be talking this offseason.

Starting with the Red Sox, let’s take a look at how their outfield would shape up next season. Shane Victorino is still under contract. Jackie Bradley Jr. – though he’s struggled with the bat at times – provides excellent defense in center field. Brock Holt has hit well in a limited sample, and Daniel Nava could be a solid option as a fourth or fifth outfielder. And don’t forget that the team has a big-time outfield prospect in Mookie Betts.

Naturally, one of the corner spots would be filled by either Cespedes or Craig. So let’s hypothetically say that next year’s outfield in Boston will consist of Cespedes or Craig in left, Bradley Jr./Holt in center and Victorino in right.

Since David Ortiz and Mike Napoli will still be around, that limits Craig to solely an outfield role, rather than playing first base or DH – though he could fill in at times in those spots but likely not regularly to warrant keeping him, given the team’s pitching holes.

If I were the Mets, I would inquire this offseason to see if Cespedes or Craig will be available via trade. Certainly, Cespedes would be the huge bat the Mets need for the middle of the order, but a guy like Craig coming off a tough year could be a smart gamble, especially given his versatility.

Cespedes has one year at $10.5 million remaining on his contract after this season. That’s a bargain considering his offensive production, not mention his ability to gun down runners at any base.

Craig meanwhile has three years left on his contract with a $13 million club option for 2018.

I’m not crazy about the idea of giving up a Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom type prospect for A) a guy like Cespedes who only has one year left on his deal or B) a lesser player like Craig who has too many years left.

But if the Mets could negotiate an extension with Cespedes as part of a trade, now we’re talking.

And as far as Craig, a package of lesser prospects along with maybe Dillon Gee or Jon Niese could get a deal done. Even a straight-up deal for one of the veteran pitchers may work.

Cespedes to me is the impact bat the Mets are seeking. Craig I feel is more of a stopgap player, and the team already has too many of those.

So let’s see if Sandy Alderson gives the Red Sox a call this offseason.

Let me post this to the audience: Would you rather see the team try to acquire Cespedes knowing it would take Syndergaard or deGrom (and other prospects potentially too), or would you settle for Craig for a package centered around Gee or Niese, rather than the young electric arms?

Certainly a tough call.

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Giants and Nationals Have Expressed Interest In Murphy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/giants-and-nationals-have-expressed-interest-in-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/giants-and-nationals-have-expressed-interest-in-murphy.html/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:26:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162224 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have expressed interest in Daniel Murphy, but he calls the likelihood of any deal a longshot.

SiriusXM host and former GM Jim Duquette also had a source tell him that the Giants are still very interested in acquiring Murphy.

In all likelihood, Murphy isn;t going anywhere. Sandy Alderson will want much to move him and his value to the Mets may be higher than anything another team would offer to pry him away.

This is the kind of move the Mets would wait until the offseason to make.

(Joe D.)

July 30

In using humor to deflect a question about the Mets capacity to pay top or near top shelf salaries for three players on their roster, Sandy Alderson sent clear signals the financial situation for the New York Mets has not been resolved. Posture and position as he might, the reality is Alderson does not have the payroll flexibility of bringing a third top flight offensive player to Flushing.

With that in mind, it’s important for Alderson to consider the packaging of Met assets to build a Met offense, that matched with our young pitching cadre increases our possibilities of fielding a competitive baseball team. Such maneuvering involves risk, daring and keen baseball insights.

In all likelihood, that packaging will need to include Daniel Murphy. Accepting the reality that in trying to improve their roster, the Mets will likely need to move Murphy is a tough pill for me to swallow. When Murphy was in Binghamton with the Double-A Mets, I fell in love with his unpredictable, gritty, passionate style of baseball and I’ve followed his career closely ever since. Murphy has a work ethic second to none and through the force of hard work and a strong will has made himself an accomplished major league baseball hitter, the major reason why Murphy is one of the Met assets that make him a probable trading piece. Coupled with a top shelf Met pitching prospect, a trade involving Murphy might add a solid major leaguer to fill one of the position holes in left field or at shortstop on our current roster.

I understand the angst of Met fans who argue that in trading Murphy the Mets would simply trade one roster gap for a newly formed crevice at second base. They’re right. But, working to improve a roster takes the capacity to hedge bets and take risks. And, the status or our current crop of minor league position players builds a solid case that successfully filling a vacancy in Flushing at second base with prospects already in our system is far more probable than filling vacancies at other field positions.

Why? Because, the Mets have a nucleus of promising middle infielder contenders in the minor leagues. The probability is good that from that young group the Mets can find an everyday second baseman.

Who are the contenders? It’s a group of diverse baseball talent that places Murphy in the crosshairs of possibly being moved this off-season, especially knowing the Mets will need to dig considerably deeper into their pockets should they elect to stay with their current second baseman.

Wilmer Flores has to be the leading candidate to fill a future major league second base void in Flushing. Given a chance to play regularly, the 22-year old Flores has shined at whatever level he has played. There is little argument that it’s Flores’s bat that is his ticket to the major leagues. Solid batting fundamentals and home run power are an asset for Flores as well as his ability in an emergency to play almost any infield slot. And, although he may lack range defensively, Flores has proven he is sure handed and consistent, both qualities of a solid fielding second baseman.

dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

From there a pack of minor league middle infielders is nipping at Flores’ heels, all part of the Mets safety net should they move Murphy. In my opinion, Dilson Herrera has a slight edge on the rest of the pack. Getting an extended opportunity to watch Herrera in Binghamton has been a baseball bonus this summer. Met fans are simply going to love this toolsy middle infielder.

Of course it’s only a small sample but if first impressions count, Herrera has been a B-Met sensation, In 35 games covering 142 at bats, Herrera is batting .345 with 10 doubles, 2 triples and 6 home runs. The B-Met second baseman has hit in the clutch already knocking home 32 RBI’s in his short Binghamton stay. Herrera’s .407 on-base-percentage is the best on the current B-Met roster only trailing Matt Reynolds who posted a .430 OBP before his elevation to Las Vegas. Herrera’s .579 slugging percentage is nearly 75 percentage points higher than the nearest B-Met. Herrera is quick of foot, with great hands, a middle infield prospect who has Met fans who have watched him play thinking big.

Speaking of Matt Reynolds, the former University of Arkansas Razorback has exploded on the Met baseball scene this spring. After compiling modest production in A-ball in 2012 and 2013 at Savannah and St. Lucie, Reynolds has been a hitting machine in Binghamton and Las Vegas this spring and summer. Alternating in Binghamton on a day-to-day basis between second and short, Reynolds led the Eastern League in batting at .355 when he was called up to Vegas. Good plate discipline has to elevate Reynolds’s standing with Met brass.

After initially tearing up the Pacific Coast League in Vegas, Reynolds cooled, but has recently rediscovered his hitting stroke, hitting safely in his last four games going 8-for-17, scoring a run in each game, slamming two home runs and driving in 6 runs. Although he is not flashy with the leather, Reynolds has solid defensive skills and projects well at second base.

A dark horse contender, don’t count Wilfredo Tovar out. A thumb injury and surgery has almost erased the gritty Tovar out of consideration by most Met fans. But, Tovar is by far the best middle infield defensive option for the Mets, the Met minor league defensive player of the year for four years running. And since the Eastern League All-Star game in 2013, the tough B-Met infielder has raked at the plate. Before his thumb injury, Tovar was having a career season in Binghamton from the last slot in the B-Met batting order with a .313/.377/.373 stat line including 21 RBI’s in 150 at-bats. And, prior to his injury, Tovar drew more walks than he struck out. At present Tovar has returned to the diamond in Port St. Lucie where Tovar has played in 4 games including 14 at bats and is hitting .357.

Not highly recruited but highly productive, T.J. Rivera should also be part of the middle infield conversation. All Rivera does wherever he goes is hit. Rivera, who is currently playing shortstop for the B-Mets hit .341 in St. Lucie before his elevation to Double-A ball where he is batting .340 in Binghamton.

Although he probably doesn’t register on the radar, I’d wager if you asked Las Vegas manager Wally Backman, he’d say his Las Vegas second baseman Danny Muno deserves some consideration. That’s because Muno plays the same hard-nosed, hustle at all costs, dirt-on-the-uniform style of play at second base for the 51’s Backman used to play for the Mets. In both Binghamton and Vegas, Muno has profiled as a .250 stick at the plate with all the intangibles managers love in a middle infielder. Like he did in Binghamton, Muno hits in the clutch. His 46 RBI’s rank fourth on the 51 roster behind Allan Dykstra (62), Wilmer Flores (57) and Andrew Brown (52).

In the best of all worlds, I’d love to see the Mets use free agency to add the pieces to complement our promising young pitching to see us elevate our standing in major league baseball circles. But, for our Mets, financially, that best of all worlds simply does not exist. So, rather then gnash my already seriously compromised teeth (from all that anxiety night time grinding that comes with rooting for the Mets) fantasizing about what we can’t have, maybe it’s time to cobble together some intelligent baseball moves, risky as they might be, that might help get us what we want. One of the biggest risks of all might be moving Daniel Murphy.

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Matt Harvey To Pitch Off Mound For First Time Next Week http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/matt-harvey-to-pitch-off-mound-for-first-time-next-week.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/matt-harvey-to-pitch-off-mound-for-first-time-next-week.html/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:05:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161727 matt harvey

Adam Rubin reports that Matt Harvey “has the go-ahead to get on a mound next week” for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 22, 2013.

He also adds that while Harvey will not pitch in the majors this season, it’s still possible he will pitch briefly in the fall instructional league, which spans late September and early October in Florida.

No doubt some great news on the Harvey front… The Mets’ ace righthander has had no setbacks in his rehab and continues to work his way back.

If it were up to Harvey, he would have preferred to be on a mound last month, but he continues to follow the schedule laid out for him by the organization.

July 26

Mets fans can dream about next year’s starting rotation, which will presumably include Matt Harvey, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom. All of them will be 28 or younger when the season begins and all could be well above average next season.

There is no doubt that when Matt Harvey is healthy, the Mets are a much better team. While getting him back will be like trading for an ace making the league minimum (except without giving up your entire farm system), there are still lingering questions over how the Mets should approach his return.

Obviously, Harvey isn’t going to be pitching this season, despite his determination to do so. He may pitch a few innings in the Arizona Fall League, but that’s just about it.

Everyone remembers the controversy surrounding Stephen Strasburg‘s return from Tommy John Surgery. He hit his innings limit in early September in the midst of a pennant race, and the Nationals shut him down for the season. The Mets may be facing another very similar scenario next year, in a season in which they expect to compete. Perhaps the 2012 Nationals weren’t sure they were going to compete, so they proceeded normally. However, with all the trade buzz surrounding the Mets combined with the new arrivals of top prospects, the front office expects next year to be a big year. That makes this situation a bit different from the one Strasburg was in two years ago.

As dangerous as it is, the Mets will more or less throw Harvey into the fire at some point next season. It sure is risky to do that. I’ve always said the reason Johan Santana got hurt wasn’t the no-hitter, but the fact that after not pitching for over a year, the Mets suddenly threw him out there regularly, taking very few precautions. Unfortunately, there really aren’t many more practical methods to easing a pitcher back into it. Luckily for the Mets, Harvey is quite a bit younger than Santana.

Nevertheless, the Mets will still need to be careful how they handle Harvey, knowing that their goal is to compete in September and possibly October while also keeping their ace on an innings limit somewhere between 160 and 190. How will they do this? Here are a few options.

Extreme option: Put him in the bullpen for a while

matt harveyThe Mets may want to put him in the bullpen to start the season, possibly for four to six weeks to limit his innings. They will still get use out of his arm, but without the early season wear and tear. In the often cold and raw April games, it could reduce injury risk.

There are, of course, many problems with this idea, which is why it is an “extreme option.” For one, the transition to and from the bullpen isn’t exactly easy or quick. It took Jenrry Mejia a while to transition back and forth. The Mets may have two weeks at both ends of the experiment with a somewhat wasted roster spot, two when he’s getting used to pitching on back-to-back days, and two more when he transitions back to the rotation. And don’t forget the risks of Terry Collins overusing him, which is never out of the question with any relief pitcher.

Somewhat extreme option: Start his season late

Instead of beginning workouts at the Port St. Lucie complex in early February, start Harvey out in early March. He will have an extra month to strengthen his arm and the rest of his body, and could pitch through the end of the season. It makes sense on all fronts, but there is one huge problem with it: Harvey will absolutely hate it.

Remember, this is the pitcher who said he would pitch Opening Day this season. What are the odds he would go along with a delayed start? Probably slim to none. That being said, this option is probably the best compromise between Harvey’s long-term health and the Mets’ hopes to compete.

Realistic but ineffective option: Skip starts, be cautious

This is one of the more likely options, but it is probably the worst. As we have seen, skipping starts throws pitchers off their routines. However, what makes this a realistic option is how well Harvey has fared with more rest:

Four days rest: 19 starts, 3.07 ERA, 1.065 WHIP

Five days rest: 10 starts, 2.25 ERA, 1.029 WHIP

Six or more days rest: 7 starts, 0.77 ERA, 0.707 WHIP

Keeping that in mind, this option is less attractive for the team. Taking Harvey out early taxes the bullpen and focusing on skipping him allows you less flexibility with the rest of the starting rotation. Consider that and the fact that doing this still probably won’t be enough. IT may come down to the Mets putting Harvey on the DL for a few weeks with “elbow fatigue” to keep him from exceeding his limit.

Most likely option: Do nothing, shut him down in September

This option is fine for Harvey’s health, but it doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the team. Right when the Mets will need Harvey the most, he will be shut down. This is what the Nats did with Strasburg and what the Mets will likely do with Harvey next season.

The Mets need to sit down with Matt Harvey and his agent Scott Boras and lay out a plan that will both keep him healthy and make sense for the team. There is absolutely no excuse. There will be a media frenzy if either side is left in the dark about the other’s intentions and it could get very ugly.

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Harsh Realities: The Mets Are Stuck In The Spin-Cycle http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/harsh-realities-the-mets-are-stuck-in-the-spin-cycle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/harsh-realities-the-mets-are-stuck-in-the-spin-cycle.html/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:17:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162189 It’s always fun debating all the possible ways the Mets can bring a superstar to Queens at this time of the year. Nobody wants to be a seller, that usually means your season is “over and out” and relevancy is still a year or more away.

As we close in on our sixth consecutive losing season, it’s become very clear that even the biggest proponents of a rebuild four years ago are getting tired of the waiting. Heck, even David Wright is telling reporters that now is the time to start adding those significant pieces, venturing in terrain he’s never navigated before. But of course the captain realizes that he isn’t getting any younger.

And while some of us discuss the potential to land a Troy Tulowitzki or a Carlos Gonzalez, there is a stark reality that clouds everything – the still stifling financial situation that has encumbered this team for over half a decade now.

wilpon aldersonOh how the Mets want you all to believe they are now on easy street, but even in a year when they promised to increase payroll, there they sit almost $10 million lower than 2013 levels, $20 million lower than 2012 levels, and an astounding $70 million lower than 2011 levels.

The Mets are led by a GM who is most famous for how little he says about anyone or anything. However, it’s how he crafts his jokes that really tell the story, always managing to use humor to convey the sad reality that payroll is not going to alter much over the next few years.

Alderson made his big “superstar plays” by signing David Wright to a deal that takes him into retirement, and then giving Curtis Granderson a cushy second generation contract worth four years and $60 million. Because Grandy’s deal was discounted in year one, his salary jumps from $13MM in 2014 to $16 million in 2015. That’s $36 million for two players and about $45 million left to fill the other 23 spots on the roster.

While someone in the organization (is that you Jeff?) keeps leaking things like the Mets are targeting Tulo and Gonzalez, Alderson used his dry wit to put that rumor neatly to bed.

When he was asked if the Mets even had the financial wherewithal to add one of those players he responded as such:

“We’ve got a 20 and 15,’’ he said referring to David Wright and Curtis Granderson. “So we go with a 20, 20, 15 and what? 22 dwarfs?’’

Yes, Mr. Alderson, point taken.

Sandy brings us back to “payroll concentration” a phrase he coined last offseason when he attempted to convey that two $15 million per year players is as good as it gets in Flushing.

It’s great to dream, and we’ll keep dreaming on MMO, but it’s important to understand that no matter what you think the financial landscape hasn’t changed much at all over the last few years.

Do you find it all befuddling that the only players in the “sell” conversation are those who are making some significant change like Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese? In 2-3 years it might be Matt Harvey, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler needed to be moved because they’re getting “too pricey” another term made famous by our esteemed GM last offseason when he had this to say after arriving to dinner late at the Winter Meetings.

“Sorry I’m late” he told reporters. “I was upstairs stacking our money. But don’t get too excited. They were all fives.”

When asked how high the pile was, he said: “Not as high as some people expect.”

It must be tough for a man with such integrity and honor to keep up a variety of pretenses for his bosses, but don’t feel too bad for Sandy, he’s well paid and up to the task.

So while you hear me saying things about how optimistic I am about our future (and I am), and how I gloat over a farm system that both our current and former GM helped to build (and yes they both did), I’m still grounded in the reality that this team is tapped out, flat broke, and running on fumes.

Our organization still lacks any reasonable financial flexibility – especially for a franchise in this market. They can only add quality players after first jettisoning established (and well paid) players off the current roster to clear up room for them.

The fact is that nothing has changed much… We’ll still continue to trade quality players for prospects, hope that it’s enough to take us to the next level, but understanding that once any of these players become too good and too costly, they’ll simply get turned over for a newer crop of prospects who are 2-3 years away. The Mets are stuck in the Spin-Cycle and that may not change until the Wilpons are finally gone and as long as they take their crippling debt and decades of bad decision-making with them.

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Connor’s Corner: While Tulowitzki Fits, Gonzalez Does Not http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/connors-corner-while-tulowitzki-fits-gonzalez-does-not.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/connors-corner-while-tulowitzki-fits-gonzalez-does-not.html/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:20:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162120 Carlos+Gonzalez+Troy+Tulowitzki+San+Francisco+rUY3TpSfSyelAll the buzz surrounding the Mets this week as the trade deadline fast approaches has been about Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. I wrote extensively yesterday about why he is a good trade target for the Mets. However, reports indicate it is far more likely the Mets acquire Tulowitzki’s teammate, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

No one is going to argue that Gonzalez is anywhere near the level of Tulowitzki, but there are varying opinions on him. On the surface, his numbers are outstanding for his career. In 2013, he hit .302/.367/.591 with 26 home runs, 21 stolen bases, and six triples in only 110 games. From 2010 through 2013, Gonzalez hit .311/.370/.556 with a 133 OPS+.

Those are outstanding numbers and make Gonzalez appear to be the perfect outfield bat for the Mets to acquire. While he will not cost quite the package that Tulowitzki would in a trade, his cost will presumably be very high. And unlike with Tulo, he is a player the Mets have to pass on.

Many reporters and fans have made a big deal about Tulowitzki’s road numbers. Yet, considering his position, his road numbers are still outstanding. For Gonzalez, they are quite concerning.

Away from home, Gonzalez has hit .260/.315/.441 in his career, compared to .333/.365/.546 at Coors Field. On the road, that’s a 102 wRC+, or just two percent better than league average. For left fielders, that is just a tick above average. Unlike Tulowitzki, who had a 118 wRC+ on the road, Gonzalez’s bat doesn’t translate away from Coors Field. Both clearly suffer on the road, but even so, Tulo is still 50 percent better than the average at his position, while Gonzalez hovers at just around his own positional average.

On the road, Gonzalez strikes out much more frequently, hits more ground balls and fewer line drives, and sees far fewer of his fly balls leave the park. In Coors Field, Gonzalez sees an astounding 21 percent of his fly balls leave the park (compared to a 9.7 percent league average). On the road, that drops to 15.6 percent.

Although he had a fantastic season last year in which his splits were reversed, the sample size on those numbers isn’t big enough to say anything definitively. Plenty of players hit against the platoon split or against their ballpark’s tendencies for an entire season, but that doesn’t mean they have necessarily overcome that obstacle. For Gonzalez, it is surely a fluke.

To make things worse, Gonzalez is having his most disappointing season to date, batting .244/.293/.437 (well below league average) with ten home runs in 63 games. On the road, he is hitting .169/.234/.346. (That’s still better than Lucas Duda against left-handed pitching, if that’s at all comforting.)

On the financial side, Gonzalez’s contract is much shorter than Tulo’s with only three years and $54 million left, but that is still a big commitment for the big question mark Gonzales is. The average annual salary ($18 million) on that deal is close to what Tulowitzki will be paid.

If the Mets are going to give up Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, which they probably would in a Gonzalez trade, they need to get a well above average bat. The two clear positions to upgrade, at least if Daniel Murphy remains, are left field and shortstop. If you plug in an average hitter in left field, you almost have to acquire a star shortstop with the way this year’s offense has struggled. Who is out there to fit that bill? The only two obvious candidates are Ben Zobrist and Troy Tulowitzki, and not much else. You still have to give up a big package. In fact, you then have to do it twice. If the Mets are going to give up big pitching prospects, it has to be for someone who will give you consistently above average production.

Gonzalez is just not that player.

(Note: Statistics are as of 10:00 p.m., July 29) Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst

mmo presented

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Show Us the Money?! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:20:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162095 Ever since the end of the 2009 season, financial issues have been a critical if not overriding factor for the New York Mets and their decision making.

saul katz and fred wilpon

Whether it was the $140+ million major league payroll loaded with “toxic” contracts for a sub .500 mostly veteran team, the subsequent decline in attendance and related revenue, possible effects of the Madoff-Ponzi-scheme, including the claim filed by the administrator of the Madoff estate or some heavy leveraging of the Mets and related entities with all sorts of debt – it´s often been Finances first. And Baseball a very distant second.

Interestingly enough though, very little has been written or said about the Mets´ CURRENT financial situation. Basically, the claim/reporting – based on what transpired over the past few years – has been “they have no money” and it appears, fans, writers and the public believe and seemingly have accepted the Mets will be operating as a de-facto small-market team for a while.

That has led to discussion whether the Mets almost have to trade Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy for financial reasons leading up towards 2015 to possibly clear the roughly $20 million that duo will be making next year. Or whether the Mets even have the ability to think about taking on a significant contract such as that of Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez.

Shouldn’t we be discussing whether Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero (and Matt Harvey next year) are sufficient replacements for Colon or if and when Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds or Dilson Herrera can replace Daniel Murphy just fine at 2B going forward?

Shouldn’t the discussion be more about the pros and cons of parting with several promising young pieces in exchange for Tulo or CarGo than killing the debate with a “but they are too expensive anyway” comment?

METS FANS STRESSED SADHave the Mets themselves – successfully – lulled fans & media into a perception and belief that the payroll permanently has to be frozen in the $85 million range that it has hovered around for three years now?

And that a main concern right now should be that just keeping together the current roster minus free agents Chris Young, Dice-K and Bobby Abreu will probably cost over $90 million already? (Adam Rubin did the math a few days ago.)

Isn’t there some new evidence that the Mets currently are operating well below of what their “break even” ceiling actually is? Isn’t it time to reevaluate the situation? Books can and have been written about financial reorganizing or how the Mets got into this situation. But hasn’t the situation changed over the past couple of years ?

Leaving out the profits SNY – an entity majority owned by the Mets ownership group – has been earning, the explicitly stated financial goal for the Mets has been to “break even.” Something which it has failed to do for at least the past 4 years.

Operating losses - according to what´s been available via a google search or explicit statements by people who should know – were massive in 2010 and 2011 (Losses of $51 and $70 million reportedly) and a lot less severe over the past two years (23 million in 2012 and 10 million in 2013) as the major league payroll was cut by about $50 million. While instead of the dramatic decline in attendance (including premium seats) from 2009 through 2011, the Mets from 2012 through this season have merely experienced something between regression or stagnation at a very low level.

Unfortunately, there´s no detailed balance sheet for the Mets entity or “sister” companies such as SNY that are publicly available. But from what there is to gather, the financial picture is looking a lot better now than it has in recent past. The 2014 payroll, minus Ike Davis, for now projects to end up just around or even below $85 million and thus between $5-10 million less than it has been for the past couple of years.

The decline in attendance has apparently been stopped in 2014. And at least thus far, every loan due against the Mets has apparently been refinanced. Most of all though, the new National TV deal that kicked in for the 2014 season flushes in an extra $25-30 million – not subject to revenue sharing  for every MLB franchise. This is EXTRA revenue for the Mets that wasn´t there in 2013 or in previous years.

Do the math yourself: You save between $5-10 million on payroll, attendance related revenue at worst freezes at a low level or even improves slightly and you also get an extra $25-30 million in new revenue flushed into your operation. That’s a $30 to $35 million turnaround compared to 2013 and 2012 where the team – on average – reported losses of $16.5 million per year.

Mets CubsSo, assuming all other expenses (revenue sharing, travel, interest payments on debt, minor league operations, etc.) have remained about the same – and there is no indication of any significant change here between now and the past couple of years – this makes it seem probable the 2014 Mets figure to make an operating profit somewhere between $15 and $20 million if the payroll ends up close to its projection of $85 million. And in turn, the “break even” payroll would really be in the $100 to $105 million range for 2014.

Going forward, if the Mets happen to look like a more promising team in 2015 behind a full arsenal of high end young pitching and maybe the addition of another bat, attendance and revenue figure to rise, further lifting the payroll ceiling going forward.

Considering expected arbitration raises going forward, the injury to Matt Harvey and IP limits for various young arms, it’s actually understandable why the Mets didn’t already approach that payroll ceiling this year. But as it is, there’s really no reason why the 2015 payroll shouldn’t at least be in the $100 to 105 million range. And doesn’t that even make for some positive PR regarding ownership, showing their determination to field a winner?

Thus, trading Colon and / or Murphy should be BASEBALL decisions first and foremost. Just like acquiring a Tulowitzki or another high priced player should mainly be debated in terms of the young talent it’d take to make such a move instead of focusing on the annual salary. Sure, there’s no way the Mets will have a Top 5 in the majors payroll again – like they did on average from 1990 through 2011.

But it’s very likely, they’ll at least gravitate towards a “middle of the pack” payroll again rather sooner than later. Still, odd and tough to explain for a New York based franchise – but a lot better than finances being the overriding factor. So, show us the money!

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Di-JEST: SNY Down To Final 4 In Search For Burkhardt Successor http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-sny-down-to-final-4-in-search-for-burkhardt-successor.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-sny-down-to-final-4-in-search-for-burkhardt-successor.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:12:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162046 There’s news aplenty out of the Mets sports network, SNY.  First something that we at the Di-Jest applaud.  The programming department has now finally and officially abandoned their plan to find someone to fill the Ralph Kiner role in the Mets TV booth.

The SNY suits thought that it was possible to find some mature individual to visit with Gary, Keith, and Ron about once every few weeks for an inning or two.  The plan was scuttled as their last three candidates just didn’t pan out.

One of the three was Clint Eastwood.  His audition went south almost immediately when he insisted on talking to Ralph’s empty chair.

Betty White showed potential. She had some wonderfully ribald stories about her dating life with the likes of Tris Speaker and Dom DiMaggio.  Unfortunately she lapsed into some questionable areas when she insisted that she gave the idea to Abner Doubleday to place the bases 90 feet apart.   And anyway Ms. White has enough TV shows on her plate as it is.

Comedian Bob Newhart was also considered a strong candidate.  But in his audition his interplay with Gary and the others was weak.  Mr. Newhart apparently works better in a scripted environment (ask Larry, Darryl, and the other Darryl) or alone on stage doing a monologue.

As you might expect, no one can replace Ralph. And now, thankfully,  no one will.

But that’s not even the big news.  MMO has learned there are now just four final candidates to succeed Kevin Burkhardt as the roving reporter on Mets telecasts.  This is a coveted position.  Once the Leno and Letterman replacements were named this became the most sought after gig in the entire TV universe.

As you’ll see each candidate has something going for him/her but also a bit of baggage.

Ted McGinleyTed McGinley -  Ted is a handsome charming comedic actor who brings to his roles about what Anthony Recker brings to the Mets.

The focus group that observed his audition was blown away in a positive manner.

Unfortunately Ted’s problem is that he now has the reputation of being the “Sitcom Killer” as this article discusses.

As gruesome as some Mets losses often are none of us Met fans want to see the telecasts cancelled due to poor ratings.  For that reason SNY may have to look elsewhere for the next Kevin.

alexaAlexa – Forgive us for not knowing her last name or whether she even has one.  We know her from her Mets promo commercials with Brandon.

As one might expect the males in the focus group gave her exceedingly high marks on her audition although when the analysts inquired about what she had said on the air none of the men could actually remember a word.

The women in the focus group were less enthusiastic about her audition (except the two who revealed themselves as lesbians).

richard engelRichard Engel -  Richard currently works for NBC News  (NBC is a TV network that you may have never heard of.  Their shows famously air for about three episodes before being cancelled.

They do have a news department though and some people over the years have watched Johnny Carson and Jay Leno there).

Engel has been NBC’s go-to guy whenever some disaster, from nature or man-made, strikes.  It is thought that he would be less affected than others if the Mets win just 75 games again in 2015. The carnage would be nothing new to him.

gelbsSteve Gelbs – Steve could be considered the incumbent as he has been used extensively in the Kevin Burkhardt role during this, Kevin’s lame duck season roving the ballpark.

One would normally expect that he would be the natural choice for the Kevin position.  Unfortunately when an analyst walked in to interview the focus group that was observing Steve’s audition…. Well here’s what his report said, “I thought I had accidentally stepped into a sleep laboratory.”

So Gelbs’ chances of landing the job were not enhanced there.

Clearly this will be a difficult call for the powers that be at SNY.  The execs there likely prefer someone who will stay at the position for a number of years and not use it as a stepping stone to a higher profile job.  Should they opt for Alexa there is always the chance that when Erin Andrews ages a few years FOX will throw her over for someone like Alexa just as they recently tossed off Pam Oliver for having the audacity to become 43 years old.

If SNY takes the conservative route and selects Gelbs – no such concern.

We should know in a few months as to who will be our next Kevin Burkhardt.

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To our readers: This article was inspired by a suggestion from my son Brandon.  Brandon lives and works in the city of Philadelphia – in fact his house is about two miles from Citizen Bank Park. I’m sure you join me in saluting Brandon and all the other Mets fans in this country who work and gather intel in hostile foreign cities like Philly.  I’ve had the chance to watch him walk the streets of that city proudly wearing his custom designed red-with-white-lettering cap with the NY logo prominently displayed.  He never takes any flak over it since the cap is the appropriate color and, heck, they’re Philadelphians.

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Connor’s Corner: Why Tulowitzki Makes Sense For Mets In Right Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/connors-corner-why-tulowitzki-makes-sense-for-mets-in-right-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/connors-corner-why-tulowitzki-makes-sense-for-mets-in-right-deal.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161990 Tulo and the Mets -- a match made in heaven?

Tulo and the Mets — a match made in heaven?

Jeff Passan put a match to the impatience of Mets fans yesterday, reporting that the Mets are “prepared to offer” Noah Syndergaard in a deal to acquire Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Passan did not say the Mets had offered a deal involving Syndergaard, only that they would be willing to part with him in a trade for Tulo. Even that made headlines and divided the Mets fanbase.

There is a “right deal” for almost every player out there. Most trade proposals from Mets fans are “the right deal,” but they are almost always too light (except for that WFAN caller yesterday who suggested DeGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Gee…). The reason for that is quite simple: fans always assign way too much value to their own prospects. In the broader picture, a deal that looks fair to the rest of the league will almost always look unfair to the team giving up its top prospects, at least according to its fans.

The Mets have roughly five big-name, tradeable pitchers in the organization right now: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, and Jon Niese. These pitchers can be broken down into categories. If the team deals Syndergaard or Wheeler, they may be able to get away with not giving up another pitcher from that group of five. Otherwise, I see two from that group being dealt.

As highly rated as he is and as highly as I think of him, Noah Syndergaard is the odd man out. DeGrom has been a beast in 14 starts, showing nasty stuff. Wheeler has shown flashes of being really good and can be, at minimum, a dependable league average pitcher. Gee and Niese have done the same, with Niese often being well above average. Montero hasn’t given me much to grasp on to, but again, if you dealt him, you would need to give up another pitcher from that group. (And of course this is all theoretical.)

Falling in love with prospects is a dangerous game. The odds are stacked against them, even those in the top of the rankings. Take a look at this study by Royals Review, which looked at the success rates of top 100 prospects (Baseball America). It categorized players as busts, successes, or stars based on their WAR. If a player was below average, he was labeled a bust, and up it went from there. Even at the top of the list, the likelihood of success, and stardom, was slim, especially for pitchers. Take a look:

Decile_Pitchers_Table (1)

Syndergaard was recently ranked number 13 overall by MLB.com. While there are no other major midseason lists out there right now, it is safe to say, considering Syndergaard’s performance through four months in Triple-A, that he falls in the 11-20 range. Should the Mets really reject a trade for a superstar in favor of a player who has less than a 40 percent chance of being above average? The percentage may be even lower for prospects who have struggled at Triple-A the way Syndergaard has. Mets fans are exposed almost exclusively to news of their own prospects, so in our own bubble, they are often almost sure stars. There isn’t anything wrong with that… until it is time to make a deal.

Every Met fan salivates over the possible rotation next year, but even without Syndergaard, it still looks incredible. Say the Mets deal Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Gabriel Ynoa, and Logan Verrett. Take a look at the Mets rotation next year (assuming Colon is traded) without Syndergaard.

  1. Matt Harvey – Ace
  2. Jon Niese – Above Average
  3. Jacob deGrom – Above Average
  4. Zack Wheeler – Average to Above Average
  5. Dillon Gee – Solidly Average
  6. Waiting in the wings: Rafael Montero, Steven Matz

That extra group “waiting in the wings” sure looks a lot less appealing than it otherwise would with Syndergaard, but at the end of the day, only five pitchers are going to make the rotation. It would be a tough decision to give up Syndergaard, but to get the big bat Mets fans are clamoring for, they must give up a big package.

*   *   *

There has been so much debate over whether Troy Tulowitzki is worth it, his home-road splits, his contract, and more. Let me put it simply: he is, without question, worth a hefty haul.

When healthy, Tulowitzki is a top ten position player. This season, he is second in fWAR only to mike Trout with a 5.1 mark. He leads the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He has hit 21 home runs, put up an ISO of .263, and has played tremendous defense to boot. This guy is legit.

There will, of course, be debate over the effects of Coors Field on his statistics. There is no doubt that the hitting environment there contributes to his incredible numbers, so let’s take those out of the equation for a minute. Before we look at his road numbers, keep in mind one thing: his numbers will likely be better than this. Hitters always do better at home than on the road, so even if Tulowitzki really is only as good as his current road numbers suggest, his statistics will be better with half of his games at Citi Field. For his career, here are Tulowitzki’s road numbers:

.274/.349/.469, 480 G, 77 HR, 94 2B, amounting to an 84 tOPS+

That looks somewhat disappointing when compared to his home splits, but in reality, those statistics are still incredible for a shortstop. Here are the shortstops who have equaled his road OPS (.818) this year:

Now here are those who have done it in any single season since 2010:

Even on the road, Tulowitzki is an incredible hitter for his position. His 118 wRC+ away from Coors Field shows he is well above average for the league (not the position) when not aided by the thin air of Colorado. Getting a league average 100 wRC+ from a shortstop is rare, but being 20 percent higher is extremely hard to come by, and Tulowitzki has done it consistently.

The next two hurdles are his health and his contract. Looking over his injury history, it is easy to say he is fragile. While I am not going to say anything either way on this, I will point out that a few of his injuries (like a cut he got on his hand) aren’t the type that reoccur frequently, and almost ll of his injuries are in different body parts. It is hard for any of us as average fans to say that Troy Tulowitzki‘s bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles are ALL physiologically more breakable and tearable than the average baseball player. Being frequently injured does not mean you are injury prone. If you are constantly injuring your legs like Jose Reyes is, then it may be safe to say you are injury prone. However, as someone who doesn’t have a medical degree and hasn’t done tests on Troy Tulowitzki, I am not going to say one way or the other.

Circling back to Tulowitzki’s numbers in relation to his contract… Tulo is owed $20 million each year through 2019, and another $14 million in 2020 with a $15 million team option ($4 million buyout) for 2021. If the option is declines, he will end his contract at 35 years old. Based off his road batting splits, he is likely a 5-6 WAR player going forward, even while playing at Citi Field. In the free agent market, the value of 1 WAR worth of production is north of $5 million. (Some have even pinned it at $7 million.) For most of the contract, which will only last until his mid-30s, he will certainly be worth the deal.

Adding Tulowitzki and another above average outfielder could push the Mets into playoff contention next season. With a full season of Jacob deGrom, a new-and-improved Travis d’Arnaud, a great platoon at first base, and a good bullpen from Day One, the Mets will likely see improvements from the players currently on the active roster. Then add in Matt Harvey. Getting him back will be equivalent to trading for an ace, but without the loss of other pieces. Add in Tulo and another piece and the Mets are suddenly a dangerous team.

It is always extremely tough to part with players you have grown to like and be hopeful for, but the Mets offense desperately needs help, and shortstop is the perfect place to upgrade. There will never be a perfect player out there and if there were, why would that player’s team trade him? There are going to be lumps and flaws with almost every player the Mets acquire. And the fewer lumps and flaws there are, the more the Mets will have to give up. Tulowitzki isn’t perfect, but he has a very favorable balance of flaws and potential rewards and most importantly, he makes the Mets substantially better.

Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst

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MMO Fan Shot: Trading Murphy Would Be The Smart Move For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-fan-shot-trading-murphy-would-be-the-smart-move-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-fan-shot-trading-murphy-would-be-the-smart-move-for-the-mets.html/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161867 wright murphy

An MMO Fan Shot by Quinn Barry

Daniel Murphy has been one of the best hitters on the New York Mets this season. Murphy is batting .293 with 7 homers, 11 Steals, 57 runs scored, and is second in the National League with 125 hits. However, the time to trade Daniel Murphy is now.

As the focal point of the Mets’ offense, Daniel Murphy’s trade value has never been higher. Plus, Murphy is becoming increasingly more and more expensive. According to ESPN.com, Murphy is making $5.7 million this season. Next year, his final year of arbitration, Murphy will earn upwards of $8 million dollars. That’s not exactly cheap for a Mets team that ranks 25th in league payroll, according to Deadspin.

Adding on to that, Murphy will be a free agent following the 2015 season, where he could presumably walk if the Mets don’t extend him, leaving the Mets with zero compensation.

Finally, trading away a player with an extra year of team control would maximize the Mets’ return. Moving on from Murphy now would allow the Mets more financial flexibility and greater value from the incoming prospects/players they would receive in a potential trade.

wilmer-flores-2013-bmPutting the money and trade value aside, the Mets would be able to rebound from trading Murphy, as they have a glut of second base prospects in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

Perhaps the most MLB ready replacement is Wilmer Flores, who was recently called up from Triple-A Las Vegas. Prior to receiving the call, Flores hit .323 with 13 home runs and sported an incredible .935 OPS in just 55 games. While many question Flores defensively, scouts say he has the arm strength, range, and hands to play an adequate second base.

Looking beyond Flores, 2012 second-rounder Matt Reynolds provides another intriguing option at second. Although he doesn’t hit for much power, the 23 year-old dominated the competition at Double-A Binghamton this year, hitting .355 with a .430 OBP, and earning a call-up to Triple-A Vegas. However, since arriving at Triple-A Reynolds is only hitting .285, and his on-base percentage is down almost .100 points from his Double-A clip. These struggles suggest that even though Reynolds is not big-league ready like Flores is right now, he could become a legitimate option down the road.

herreraAnother option and one that may have more potential than both Flores and Reynolds, but will need a bit more time to develop first. is Double-A second baseman Dilson Herrera. He has been a highly-touted prospect ever since the Pirates signed him out of Colombia in 2010, and has only seen his stock rise since he came over to the Mets in last August’s Marlon Byrd trade.

Herrera was raking at Class-A St. Lucie, hitting .307, before getting promoted to Double-A. Since arriving at Binghamton, Herrera has hit .353 with a .412 OBP and a ridiculous .978 OPS. For a twenty-year-old kid, those are some pretty impressive numbers. Herrera has a chance to become an impact bat in the Mets’ lineup as early as 2015.

A Murphy trade would save the Mets financially, bring back valuable talent, and open up a spot for one of their young second baseman to shine. If a trade centered around Murphy brought back a power-hitting left fielder, it should be a no-brainer for the Mets’ front office. It’s time to trade Daniel Murphy.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and die-hard Met fan Quinn Barry. 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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Connor’s Corner: Appreciating Lucas Duda http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/appreciating-lucas-duda.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/appreciating-lucas-duda.html/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161794 lucas duda

Lucas Duda came through once again yesterday, hitting another crucial home run that would be the difference in the game. The home run was his 18th of the season, tied for sixth best in the National League and second among National League first basemen. Going into yesterday’s game, he was tied for 16th in all of baseball in wRC+.

In roughly the same sample size as this season, Duda was a sub replacement level player in 2013. This year, he has been worth 2.2 wins above replacement, averaging out to around 3.3 if he were to keep this up over a 150 game stretch. That’s a solidly above average player, one who would fetch $10-15 million annually on the open market*. The point is, this guy has been really good.

Say what you will about Duda’s approach at the plate under Dave Hudgens versus Lamar Johnson, but the strategy has been constant the entire season. Johnson has been the one tasked with preaching the very same system Hudgens taught, except to the minor leaguers. If anything, the way that has been delivered to the players has changed drastically since Hudgens’ firing (which his writing on hitting strategy could tell you).

The Mets have put Duda in a position to succeed this season by not asking him to be more than he is. As of now, Duda is a platoon player. As much as his production against right-handers is going to tempt people to want him to face lefties as well, that shouldn’t happen. Duda has proven throughout his career that he can’t hit lefties.

I’ve said all along that Duda could make partner with someone else to make a very productive platoon at first base. As someone who hits righties, Duda will play the vast majority of games. All the Mets need is find someone who is reasonably productive against left-handed pitching. They seem to have found that player in Eric Campbell. Campbell has hit lefties well this season (.3328/.357/.449) and can obviously play a host of other positions when not at first base.

What really ate into Duda’s numbers last year was his time against lefties. He got almost twice the exposure to lefties as he has this year. When you hit well under .200 against lefties, even in a somewhat limited sample, that’s going to eat into your overall statistics pretty badly. Against right-handers last year, Duda hit a very respectable .240/.369/.462, not the numbers he has put up this season, but very solid nonetheless. Duda having job security and a fresh voice in his ear in Lamar Johnson, the Mets are setting him up for this type of season.

If there is one player who the Mets have handled perfectly this season, it’s Lucas Duda. They put their trust in the right first baseman, even if it meant having to play someone else a quarter of the time. There is no shame in a platoon, especially if it produces these kinds of results.

As a team, the Mets have a 130 wRC+ from first basemen this season. Who is that tied with? None other than the Chicago White Sox, who spent close to $70 million on Jose Abreu this offseason.

The Mets made a gamble when they traded away Ike Davis and committed to Lucas Duda once and for all, but boy has it paid off.

*1 WAR has been worth roughly $5 million in free agency.

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Di-JEST: The MMO Chat You Missed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-the-mmo-chat-you-missed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-the-mmo-chat-you-missed.html/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:26:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161822 This MMO Chat isn't loading for me...

This MMO Chat isn’t loading for me…

OK.  Truth be told you didn’t miss this Mets Merized chat on account of the fact that it never happened.  Here’s the back-story.

I’m a sucker for online chats and read them at MLB Trade Rumors, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and wherever else I stumble upon them.   I don’t know why I bother since I rarely find more than 10% of the questions and answers interesting or useful.  But once you’re hooked, your hooked.  Sort of like being a Mets fan.

The reason I don’t do a real chat is two-fold.  One is that I’m not all that technologically advanced and probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it.  I’m the guy with the cell phone that has a crank on its side so I can call Mabel and ask her to connect me with Andy or Barney at the sheriff’s station.

And the other reason, a bigger one I suppose, is that I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as those guys who do the real live chats.  These guys can tell you who the 11th rated prospect is for the Royals and what his chances are of cracking the major league roster.  Me, I think I know that Josh Satin plays for Las Vegas – end of knowledge.

Another thing about those chat hosts is that it seems they all are expert in some other area too. For half of them it’s their ability to tell you what craft beer to order in any particular county in this country.

My beer knowledge consists of liking Samuel Adams and a few others. And I do know that my son likes Yuengling – but in the BOTTLE, not the can (won’t make that mistake again).

So my chats stay on topic for that reason.

Given all that, here’s the chat transcript you missed.

mmo laptop

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Philadelphia Beans:  You’re always so hard on Terry Collins.  What is the thing that most bothers you about him?

LS: I suppose it’s that he plays too many Young guys (Chris and Eric) and too many old guys (Bobby Abreu).  I’d prefer to see Chris released, Eric confined to pinch-running mostly, and Abreu restricted to pinch-hitting.  Let Soupy Campbell share LF with Captain Kirk and let Flores, Murphy, and Duda share 1B and 2B.

Ted Pontiff:  Clearly Ruben Tejada is a bad hitter but exactly how bad is he?

LS: Let’s give him this – he’s not the worst.  My scale of awfulness begins with Rey Ordonez, the ABSOLUTE ZERO of offensive effectiveness.  In Rey Rey’s illustrious career he batted .246 and had an OPS of exactly 600 (remember readers I use the Bill James method and toss out the decimal point when I discuss on base + slugging percentage).  His career WAR (wins over replacement) is a ridiculously puny +1.2 and almost all of that is due to his defensive prowess.

Ruben has a career batting average of .255 with an OPS of 644.  44 points of OPS is not monumental but it is more than trivial. He already has logged a WAR of 3.8.

So bottom line is that Ruben is a poor hitter and really should be a team’s utility infielder.  But he’s not the bottom of the barrel.

My Name Is Earl:  In Washington they do the Presidents race and in Milwaukee it’s the sausages.  What kind of race can the Mets do to entertain the fans?

LS:  Certainly not a pennant race….

But let’s try this.  We’ll have Mr. Met, a person dressed as a large apple, the Statue of Liberty, and someone impersonating Jeff Wilpon all racing towards a  dollar sign that’s placed at the finish line.  (Come to think of it, to save money maybe Jeff will do the running himself)

Strato Buddy:  What was your reaction when the Mets came back dramatically in the 9th inning on Friday to win?

LS: I think this sums it up nicely:

Bucky Dentine:  When the Mets don’t make the playoffs (you know – most every year) what team do you pull for?

LS:  There are other teams?   Who knew?

Not Really Sandy Alderson:   Should I be trading Murphy and/or Colon?

LS: Listen NRSA, questions like that are silly since we fans have no knowledge of what players are being offered for our guys.  I don’t think any Met should be ruled untouchable – if the Angels want to offer Mike Trout for David Wright + Matt Harvey (or Syndegaard or friggen anyone else) I’m down with that.

I really like Daniel Murphy and would hate to see him go but knowing that Flores, Matt Reynolds, Dilson Herrera, and Mazzilli are coming on strong makes it more palatable to trade Murph IF the return is particularly promising.

Bartolo would be easier to deal but hopefully he can bring back someone to upgrade LF or SS.  If all that is offered is another minor league arm then hold on to the guy and have someone teach him to bunt.

SNY Viewer:  You’ve always been extremely complimentary towards the broadcast team of Gary, Keith, Ron, and the soon to be departed Kevin Burkhardt.  Surely there’s something about them that ticks you off.

LS: You got me.  There’s just one thing.  It drives me nuts that none of them ever describe a player as “hot” but rather that they all use the term “red hot” exclusively.

I know that’s not a biggie but I always felt there were degrees of hotness.  For example, if Ruben Tejada has three hits, all singles, in his last 10 at bats, I’d say he is “hot”.  If he has four hits in his last 10 and one of them accidentally is a double, then OK he’s “red hot.”

If Chris Young is one for his last five – “hot”.

If he’s one for his last five and has two loud fouls – ok, “red hot.”

Depressed Mets Fan:  With the commissioner retiring how might this affect the Mets?

LS: Good question.  I’ve always suspected that Papa Fred Wilpon had a stash of incriminating photos of Bud Selig doing kinky stuff with Suzyn Waldman in the Yankees’ radio booth.  What else could explain why the commish would let a big market team run such a barebones operation?

Hopefully the next commissioner won’t feel so beholden to the Wilpons.  Perhaps he prods them to spend more on their team and less on the real estate market.  One can hope.

Skeptic:  So you say you’ve been a Mets fan since their inception in 1962.  Who are your favorite players and least favorite?

LS:  Check out this table for a semi-pleasant walk down memory lane.

 favorite-least-favorite-table

(click on the graphic to embiggen it)  

Stratogist: Where do you stand on the question of bunting?

LS:  I’m not a big advocate of sacrifice bunting.  What does puzzle me is why Terry Collins will have a good hitting pitcher like Jake deGrom give up an out with a bunt in order to bring up a pansy hitter like Eric Young Jr.  Hell, I’d rather see Tejada bunting to bring up deGrom!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

LS: Sorry folks that’s all the time I have. Got to wrap up this chat.   I have to go check on eBay to see if anyone’s bid yet on that Brad Emaus jersey I’m auctioning off.  Damn, thought that kid was going to make it.

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Remembering the “Disappointed But Not Devastated” Tom Glavine http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/remembering-the-disappointed-but-not-devastated-tom-glavine.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/remembering-the-disappointed-but-not-devastated-tom-glavine.html/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 04:11:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161830 tom glavine

The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct its 2014 class today in Cooperstown, NY and standing among them will be two former Mets. Joe Torre, who was elected by the Veterans Committee, played for the Mets from 1975-1977, where he hit .267 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in 254 games. Torre began his managerial career with the Mets in 1977 and skippered the team through 1981, going 286-420. LHP Tom Glavine will also be enshrined today. Glavine was 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA in five seasons (2004-2007) with New York.

To baseball fans, Glavine was one of the best pitchers of his generation.  He won 305 games over his 22-year career, including five 20-win seasons.  He finished in the top three in Cy Young Award balloting six times, while winning the award twice (1991, 1998).

Mets fans might remember him for something different.  Some will remember Glavine for picking up his 300th career victory in 2007 as a member of the Mets. Others will remember his outstanding 2006 campaign; a year in which he finished with a 15-7 record in the regular season and followed that up with two more victories in the postseason, which included a sparkling 1.59 ERA in three starts.

Some of us will only remember Glavine for his final appearance in a Mets uniform…

On September 30, 2007, just one day after John Maine pitched his near no-hitter against the Marlins to help the Mets tie the Phillies in the standings going into the regular season finale, Glavine was only able to record one out against Florida in what would be the worst start of his career.

The veteran southpaw was tagged hard for seven runs – all earned – by the Marlins that day in a devastating 8-1 loss.  Coupled with Philadelphia’s victory over the Washington Nationals, the Mets failed to repeat as division champions in 2007 and the late-season collapse was etched in stone. With a seven-game division lead on September 12, the Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games in what is regarded as one of the worst collapses in MLB history.

If his poor performance against the Marlins wasn’t enough to enrage Mets fans, his post-game comments surely managed to do the trick when Glavine told reporters he was disappointed but not devastated.

“I spent a pretty big hunk of my career in New York. And I know at first I was just a guy coming in. But after a while, I became comfortable, and I think I was accepted. Winning the National League East in 2006 made it better, and then I won my 300th with the Mets. I felt I had the city behind me. If we had beaten the Marlins in the last game, I don’t think I would have lost any standing. But the way it worked out wasn’t as good as it could have been.”

As a baseball fan, I appreciate what Tom Glavine did on the baseball field.  While I rooted for him everyday as a Met. for some reason I never quite looked at him as a Met. Whenever I saw him I saw Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox. The Tomahawk Chop would be playing in my head. He’ll be joining his teammate Maddux this afternoon on that podium.

I want to congratulate Glavine, who was always a class act on and off the field. He was a great competitor, a quality postseason pitcher, and he was always a plus in the clubhouse. 

However, as a Mets fan, every time I think of the final 17 games of the 2007 season, I think of Tom Glavine. In many ways we are still trying to recover from that historic collapse.

Congratulations on your Hall of Fame enshrinement, Mr. Glavine.

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Mets Would Trade Murphy For A Hefty Haul http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-would-trade-murphy-for-a-hefty-haul.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-would-trade-murphy-for-a-hefty-haul.html/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:56:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160987 daniel murphy

Despite reports that the Mets are not actively shopping Daniel Murphy, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said in a chat today, that the Mets second baseman is available if teams were willing to pay a high price.

“They’d definitely move him,” he writes. “But they want quality back. Sandy Alderson does a really good job of making these types of moves. And there are enough teams looking for a second baseman that I think that’s a real possibility.”

Nobody should be untouchable, especially when you’re on the verge of six straight losing seasons.

What Stark is saying here is neither revealing or insightful and could be said about almost any player on the Mets.

If a team is willing to overpay for any of our players, it would be negligent of us not to listen or even act if it makes the team significantly better.

11:00 AM

Marc Carig of Newsday reports that teams have reached out to the Mets about trading for second baseman Daniel Murphy. However, he adds that the front office is more likely to keep Murphy rather than deal him away.

Yesterday I mentioned that I can’t see the Mets trading Murphy mostly because it would send a signal that the team is still not ready to be competitive and is still rebuilding. The exact opposite of what Sandy Alderson is trying to convey.

Murphy, 29, made his first All-Star team this season and is batting .287/.335/.406 with 26 doubles, seven homers, 38 RBI, 57 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.

He is currently earning $5.7 million this year and will be eligible for his final year of arbitration this winter and could get about $8 million or a little more than what the Mets gave Chris Young for 2014.

The topic of trading Murphy has become a hot-button issue in the fan base, so I asked some of our writers to weigh in on this to give us a broader sense.

Destry – The Mets should absolutely lock up Daniel Murphy as soon as they possibly can.  He was quoted recently as saying something to the effect of “I’ve already made enough money for one lifetime.”  This tells me that he would sign a below market deal, and those just don’t happen for players that have already established themselves as an All Star caliber player.  He does everything the right way.  He’s done everything the team and the organization has ever asked of him, and he’s never complained once, about anything.  He’s a tireless worker, and an excellent role model for the young players and this franchise.  He’s also at or near the top of almost every major offensive category in the NL for the past year and a half.  With the exception of OBP, its uncanny how his numbers are virtually identical to league MVP Andrew McCutchen during that span.  Sign him up ASAP for 5 years and $47.5 mil. He could easily get $12 million per on the open market.

Roger – Daniel Murphy should be signed to an extension. Yes, the team has some really good second base prospects in the minors right now, but prospects are just that until they prove they can perform on the major league level. Most prospects don’t make it and even those that don’t – how many of them do you truly look back on 10 years down the line and say, “We never should have traded him away.” Odds are, you’re not trading a Future Hall of Famer. Murphy is a proven major league hitter. Why trade him in hope of a couple of years down the line one of the prospects eventually produces at the level Murphy currently is?

Joe Spector – I love Murph. He’s turned into one of the best second basemen in the game. Obviously he’s an offensive player but he’s come a long way since first being asked to play second. Keep him. He’s not great enough to bring in a haul but he’s good enough to keep.

XtreemIcon – Impossible to answer without knowing the potential return or contract demands. Murphy is significantly overrated by Mets fans. That doesn’t make him bad or invaluable, but consider that there was very little buzz surrounding him at the Winter Meetings, the Astros declined a trade for him for a shortstop that they demoted to AAA and has a career OPS barely north of .600, and the only reported trade offer TO the Mets for him was one middle reliever. The league doesn’t seem to value him quite as highly as Mets fans do, and for good reason.

Michael Branda – It depends on what he wants. If he wants to be here until say 2017, then sign him. He comes off as a heart and soul type player and you can’t just find those guys easily. If they let him walk, they are basically guaranteeing themselves a downgrade at a position that is giving them some of their best offensive production. If they dealt him, their internal plan would be what? Wilmer Flores? So basically you’re trading an All-Star 2B and replacing him with a young player who isn’t ready to hit in the major leagues yet. That’s what rebuilding teams do.

Ed Marcus – I am a Murph supporter, but with Dilson Herrera in the pipeline and possibly two seasons away I feel the Mets should maybe give Murphy a short term extension or just avoid arbitration and trade him next midseason.

Stephanie – I feel that they should re-sign him to a two to four year deal. He’s been improving every season at second base and it would be a real shame to see him traded this year. He has deserved an extension but we should be extremely cautious of the years and money we are giving him after just one great season which still isn’t even over yet.

David Conde – Tough, tough one, because I really like what is coming up in the minors. I mean with Dilson Herrera tearing it up at every level and they still have Flores, and I really like Murphy, but signing him to an extension just closes the door on any chance these kids have. But trading Murphy now would mean that Flores gets a real opportunity this season. I’m a skeptic that if you’re building for the future then don’t block the way for the future to happen.

Robert Piersall – I am a huge Murphy supporter. We need to lock this guy up right now. He has worked his rear end off to become a quality defensive second baseman, and though he still has his occasional mishaps in the field, his hitting makes up for it 100%. Murphy is our most consistent hitter. Definitely think it would be a huge mistake to trade Murphy, unless it was a very overwhelming offer for another major league ready player who could make a difference for this team.

Gerry Silverman – The Murphy question is perhaps the most intriguing personnel decision that will need to be made. Clearly he has developed some legitimate value at his position but appears to stand in the way of the team’s top current offensive prospect. I love his grit and his spirit, but I gotta confess, I think Wilmer Flores could be the middle of the lineup bat that Murph won’t ever evolve into. I’m torn.

Connor O’Brien – It doesn’t matter. Either way, trading Murphy or extending him, you are going to get tremendous value. If he is signed to $8-10 million annually, that’s a huge steal. If Alderson uses him as a big piece in a deal for a slugger, he has a lot of trade value. I like Murphy, but this team can’t really go wrong trading him or extending him, unless he wants too much – like $15 million per of course.

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Mets Willing To Eat Some Salary To Move Colon http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-willing-to-eat-some-salary-to-move-colon.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-willing-to-eat-some-salary-to-move-colon.html/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:35:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161583 bartolo colon

Sources have told Andy Martino of the Daily News that the Mets are willing to eat approximately $2 million what remains on Colon’s two-year, $20 million contract ($11 million next season).

He adds that despite being 42 next season, given Colon’s current level of performance, it is not crazy to think he could find a one-year, $9 million deal this winter, if he were a free agent.

There hasn’t been much buzz among teams regarding Colon, in fact it’s been awfully quiet. I expected to hear the rumor mill churning after a solid start on Wednesday, but not really. His low strikeout rate and an ERA north of 4.00 is probably scaring some suitors, but there’s also cheaper options available who can produce at the same level.

Martino concludes that while it’s clear the Mets would like to move Colon, they are not desperate to do so. If Sandy Alderson gets his price they’ll move him, if not he’ll simply keep Colon.

I’ll tell you what won’t happen, and that’s this theory that he’ll be waived in August so that a team could simply claim him and the Mets are off the hook on his salary. If that happens, as preposterous as it sounds, bring your pitchforks and torches and lets march on over to Citi Field.

I do hope we can move Colon and as I’ve stated all along they’ll have to eat some salary to do it. The Mets were the only team willing to give Colon a dime for 2015 and that’s the only reason he’s a Met today.

But if we can toss in $3-4 million and turn him into a solid prospect, then that’s what you do. If you get no bites then wait until the offseason to trade him.

(Joe D.)

July 24 – Bartolo Colon Is Upping His Trade Value At The Perfect Time

Bartolo Colon was an interesting gamble for Mets general manager Sandy Alderson in the off-season.  I believe Sandy had every intention of flipping Colon for young prospects prior to this year’s trade deadline.  Bartolo’s Cy Young caliber performance in Oakland last year was expected to carry over to Flushing in 2014 and while it hasn’t been that stellar, he has put up above average numbers and continued his work-horse like ability to eat up innings .

With the exception of a complete shelling against the Los Angeles Angels back in April, where Bartolo gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs in the 1st inning –  allowing 9 earned runs over the course of 5.0 total innings, the big man has performed well.

Although July was a month where he began to slip again 0-3 over his last 4 starts, sporting a hefty 5.88 ERA, teams pushing towards contention were reportedly checking in on the veteran.  Last night’s outing should prove to spark trade suitors in a serious way as he yet again showed his ability to make in-game adjustments, battle to keep his teammates in a position to win, and even flirt with perfection.  So if Bartolo is pitching well enough to earn a solid #3 or #4 spot on any rotation, why would the Mets be so inclined to move him?

For starters, the Mets have a rare, but welcomed, glut of young starting pitching.  Next year, Matt Harvey will return from Tommy John surgery to join a budding Zack Wheeler, as well as other strongholds like Jacob deGrom, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese.

This doesn’t even include the young stars developing in the minors like Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero to name just a few.  With all the depth, it makes sense for the Amazins’ to move Colon’s salary off the books and put the money to better use in the free agency market during the offseason.

It has been well documented by fans and critics alike that the Mets need offensive upgrades at shortstop and left field.  Between Chris Young’s contract expiring and Colon getting traded, Alderson will have an additional $18.25 million to work with in the Winter of 2015, with $11 million of that sum belonging to Colon.  In Mets Land, that’s a lot of greenbacks.

Lastly, the Mets front office has had great success in bolstering the farm system during recent years by flipping veterans for high ceiling prospects.  The San Francisco Giants have been the most common name bounced around in trade rumors and while they don’t have any position players that would make sense for a return of Colon, they do sport a healthy batch of young arms that, as we’ve seen, you can never have enough of.

Looking at MLB.com’s top ranked prospects for San Fran, specifically numbers 11-20, seven of the players are pitchers, some of whom already have experience at the major league level.  I don’t see the Giants moving a top 10 prospect for a 41 year old veteran who’s owed an eight-figure salary at age 42, but their starting pitchers this season have been inconsistent and the Los Angeles Dodgers have kept the N.L. West pennant race tight.  To make matters more difficult, there is a great amount of uncertainty surrounding Matt Cain’s elbow, so it makes sense for Colon to return to the Bay area.

The only caveat with the Giants is that they may be physically unable to take on Colon’s salary next year, which justifies reports stating that the Mets may have to take on a portion of it for 2015.  If Alderson agrees to pay somewhere in the range of $3-4MM for next season, but leveraged this compromise as a reason to move up into the top 10  of San Francisco’s prospects, I think it may be worth consideration.  Having another top pitching prospect would take pressure off of Sandy and perhaps allow him to trade one of our own top pitchers for an upgrade at shortstop or left field in the offseason, something that would make many Mets fans happy.

Lets Go Mets!

mmo

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From Left Field: All-Star Break Came At The Worst Possible Time http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/from-left-field-all-star-break-came-at-the-worst-possible-time.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/from-left-field-all-star-break-came-at-the-worst-possible-time.html/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:11:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161671 2014-mlb-all-star-game-logo

Most pro baseball players long to have a few days off at the All-Star break in mid-July each year.

It’s a total grind to play almost every day for three and half months, so the four-day break is well-deserved.

But for the Mets this year, the All-Star break came at the worst possible time. The team was scorching hot, but that hot-streak has since flared out in the seven games after the break.

The Mets were the hottest team in the National League to end the unofficial first half at 8-2 in their last 10 games. They were only five games under .500, and the feelings around the team were very positive for a change.

The team was pitching and hitting well and finding ways to win games late. There were a few come-from-behind wins, and the team rose up to the challenge against some All-Star pitchers including Yu Darvish, Julio Teheran and Henderson Alvarez.

Sometimes, the best method to continue a hot streak is to keep playing continuously. You’re in the zone, and you just keep riding the wave of success.

But the All-Star break really crushed the momentum of this team. Yes, they’re on a difficult road trip, but they have barely touched the ball offensively after clicking on all cylinders right before the break.

They’ve scored only 15 runs in the seven games since the break, which averages to 2.14 runs per game. Even with a strong pitching staff, that amount of runs will rarely be able to sustain a long winning streak.

And on a night like last night where Dillon Gee implodes, there’s virtually no chance of winning.

Maybe this recent stretch is the team returning to normalcy. It could also signify the Mets being sellers at this year’s trade deadline.

But on the other hand, the Mets showed the potential that they have right before the break. Sure, basically everything has to be perfect every night, but if the team showed it could rattle off eight wins in 10 games, what’s to say they can’t do that again?

The All-Star break is usually the deciding factor of which teams are in the race and which are beginning to look ahead to the next season. But with the second Wild Card spot, teams on the fringe are hanging on to every possible hope of playing postseason baseball.

As of today, the Mets are 8.5 games out of the division and 7.0 games out of the Wild Card. There are plenty of divisional matchups left to make up some ground in the division, but earning a Wild Card spot would require jumping over five teams.

Really the next week before the deadline is going to be critical. If this team can find ways to win, maybe they look to acquire some help right now. But if the recent trend of an inept offense continues, it’s time to regroup towards next year, which would include bringing up some of the young arms to see what we’ve got.

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What Does A Mets “Core Four” Look Like? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:05:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161512 wright harvey

It’s a fascinating query, a paradox of sorts, a question with no easy answer.  That fact speaks more to the New York Mets lingering status in baseball Nowhere Land than anything else.  No matter, identifying four core or foundational players of the New York Mets can be a real baseball brain teaser.

The concept of the ‘core four’ evolved from our pinstripe rivals across town when four homegrown prospects; Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, became the foundational pieces of sustained baseball excellence in the Bronx.  The Yankee core provided the Bombers a talented baseball foundation, a core of hungry consistent, relentless baseball exemplars Yankee management could build around to keep the Yankee machine running in high gear for much of two decades.

Building comparisons to the Yankee ‘core four’ is an impossibility.  Few could have predicted the success of these four Yankee prospects when they were signed.  Only Jeter was highly rated and considered a can’t miss pick.  The other three were signed in the 22nd and 24th rounds and as a free agent of the amateur draft.  Their legend as the indefatigable core of the Yankee success, as the unmovable granite on the pinstripe roster evolved over time.  That’s not a scenario that meshes well with the current standing of our New York Mets.

Stop the procrastinating and select four players Met management could use as the centerpiece of even  a short run of baseball success in Flushing.  Okay, here goes.

  1.  Matt Harvey  – In some ways selecting Matt Harvey is a no brainer, yet in some ways picking Harvey is a leap of blind faith.  After his arm surgery last summer, no one can really be sure what the Mets will have in Matt Harvey when he returns to the mound next spring.  What we know for certain is that Matt Harvey is a unique baseball talent, a rare combination of intelligence, bravado, authenticity, chutzpah, and baseball skill that can transform the culture of a baseball franchise.  The 2013 Mets that took the field when Matt Harvey pitched were a different animal than the squad that played working through the other four days of the starting rotation.  Harvey is the type of guy who simply won’t accept losing, the iron willed like persona needed in a baseball core.  Until he proves otherwise, Matt Harvey is the only non-negotiable member of my Met core four.
  2. David Wright – As it stands, David Wright is the cornerstone of the New York Met franchise, destined to become the greatest player to ever wear the New York Met orange and blue.  David Wright bleeds Mets blue.  He grew up near Norfolk Virginia watching and rooting for the Tides, the Mets Triple-A franchise located in Wright’s home town.  Wright is proud to wear a Met uniform and willing to personally sacrifice for the chance to play for Met fans in Citi Field.  Fred Wilpon once called David Wright a really good kid, a very good player, but not a superstar.  Based on NY Met standards, David Wright is a superstar, the pick of the litter, a border line Hall of Famer.  Wright, a career .300 hitter, is the all-time Met leader in a host of offensive categories which will soon include home runs.  It’s a shame, the Mets fell into franchise disarray during peak years on David Wright’s baseball arc.  But, loyal to a fault, David Wright always remains on script for the NY Mets, a solid baseball fixture for some time to come in Flushing and reliable source as one of the four core to build a baseball franchise around.

Naming a ‘core two‘ was not that difficult.  From here the chore becomes almost ominous.  What players on an underperforming baseball team or unproven but highly regarded prospects in a vastly improved player development system could be included in a core four?

A rabid Binghamton Met baseball fanatic, I have watched almost all of the most promising Met prospects for extended stays playing Double-A ball in Binghamton.  My interest in minor league baseball has taught me predicting the success of developing baseball players is an inexact science at best.  Had I evaluated Matt Harvey’s value purely based on his minor league performance in Binghamton it would be preposterous to include him as part of a ‘core four‘ baseball gang in Flushing.  For those reasons, the final two players of my ‘core four‘ would need to come from the players currently on the Met roster.

  1. Curtis Granderson – At face value, judging only by baseball statistics, Curtis Granderson is an unlikely candidate to be included in a New York Met ‘core four.‘  But the bigger the sample size of Curtis Granderson baseball in Flushing, the more Met fans are coming to appreciate his baseball contributions.  Intelligent and adaptable, after a horrid debut in Flushing, Granderson  is proving once again he can mold his hitting approach to fit the venue where he plays and the batting demands for who he plays for.  With the Yankees, Granderson’s contact swing disappeared replaced by a pull hitting approach to take advantage of the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium.  When that approach was a dismal April failure at Citi Field, Granderson went about the hard work of adapting once again and the results have been satisfying.  Granderson adds a desperately needed home run threat to the Mets line-up.  His production at the top of the Met line-up helps fill a huge void in the lead-off spot.  Equally important, Granderson has a great clubhouse presence and is a badly needed positive voice for the Mets.  Granderson gives the Mets a bonafide outfield major league presence in the everyday line-up.
  2. Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud or Jeurys Familia?  Who do I choose.  Lagares gives the Mets a defensive outfield presence that is difficult to replace.  d’Arnaud provides heaps of untapped promise, a polished defensive catcher with a huge offensive upside.  And, with his nasty stuff and near triple digit fastball, Familia could be the sleeper in the group, the right-handed relief arm that someday could evolve to become a prized stopper in the Met bullpen.

I’l give the nod to Lagares.  With the Mets poised to stage a pitching first reinvention, defense becomes more important than ever and Lagares brings an elite glove to center field for the Mets.  Lagares’ defensive play is rare and special.  Baseball Reference labeled his 2013 defensive play in center field as the ninth best defensive performance by a baseball center fielder of all time.  Although the Mets were slow to appreciate the value of just what that means, defensive play at that level is almost irreplaceable.  And, Lagares shows signs of developing into an average to above average stick at the plate.  That’s the kind of performance a baseball team can build around.

Harvey, Wright, Granderson, Lagares, my Met ‘core four,‘ a tough call indeed. If you were asked to determine four players in the Met organization, not more, not less, to become a core to build anchor future Met baseball success, who would you choose?

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Di-Jest: Wilpons Hatch Plan For Bogus Wright Retirement Tour http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-wilpons-hatch-plan-for-bogus-wright-retirement-tour.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/di-jest-wilpons-hatch-plan-for-bogus-wright-retirement-tour.html/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:32:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161473 derek jeter david wright

The crack investigative unit here at MMO has uncovered a cynical plot developed by Jeff Wilpon with the approval of Papa Fred and Uncle (“Can I sell yet?”) Saul.

The younger Wilpon has become envious of what the Yankees, another team on the down slide, have done during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Last year Mariano Rivera spent the entire season being praised and lavished with gifts. He was the highlighted story of the All-Star Game right down to garnering the save at the end. Just his presence packed Yankee Stadium home games and the Bombers’ away games. The money rolled in and people forgave the Yankees for being un-Yankee-like during the regular season.

Then we got to this season and the honoree, Mr. RE2PECT  (pardon me for a second while I barf), was Derek Jeter. Same deal as with Mo and topped off with a grooved batting practice pitch from Adam (I struck out Beltran looking, so suck it) Wainwright so that Jetes could open the All-Star game with a hit. More gifts and abounding love. More huge crowds and good will while the Yankees spin the turnstiles but have trouble staying over .500.

Since the Wilpons are foursquare against the notion of spending reasonable big-market sums on their ball club they have hit on the idea of having David Wright, the beloved captain, announce his retirement at season’s end. They’ll trump up some reason for the early exit.

Then in 2015 it will be David who will be the center of the baseball world.  He’ll surely be voted to start the Midsummer Classic even if he is hitting what Chris Young is hitting right now.

Attendance at Citi will perk up especially in the usual weak crowd-drawing times aka August and September. Even the Mets’ road attendance figures to increase as clubs sadly say farewell to the classy third baseman.

Surely a sellout crowd can be counted on in early September as they do David Wright Day in Flushing. The ball club will give David a luxury car as a gift since we all know that people who make $18 million a year can not afford to buy nice cars for themselves. David’s number 5 will be retired in perpetuity and the Mets will announce that they vow never to have another player named “Wright” on their 40 man roster. Nice touch.

But since David is somewhat young to pack it in the key to the hoax will be his announcement on the last day of the regular season (I would say the playoffs but these are the Mets we’re talking about) that he has been so humbled by the love of the fans and his teammates that he will be back in 2016 – and plans to honor the rest of his long-term contract.

So fellow Mets fans when you see David with a tear rolling down his cheek and his voice cracking announcing his retirement don’t buy it for a second.  You read it here first.

addicted to mets button

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Can deGrom Win Rookie of the Year? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/can-degrom-win-rookie-of-the-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/can-degrom-win-rookie-of-the-year.html/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:13:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161483 jacob degrom

Today’s buzz is all about Jacob deGrom, and thanks to manager Terry Collins, the question becomes can the 25-year old righthander come from behind and cop this year’s Rookie of the Year award.

“He’s always flown under the radar. He still is,” Terry Collins said after last night’s 3-1 win over the Mariners. “This guy has got numbers to match up with any rookie in the league, and you never hear his name mentioned.”

“We are seeing exactly what all the reports out of the minor leagues have ever said about this guy,” Collins said. “And that is: He keeps the ball down. He gets groundballs. Although he’s striking some guys out here because he’s learned how to do it a little bit, he keeps the ball in the ballpark. It’s really impressive to see.”

I usually implore you not to buy into much of what Collins’ says, mostly because he’s so often contradicting himself from one day to the next. But on the matter of deGrom possibly squeaking out enough of a great season to win the ROY? Count me in Camp Collins.

ESPN summarizes this year’s NL rookie of the month winners as Arizona’s Chris Owings, St. Louis’ Kolten Wong and Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton. And one quick glance at this year’s rookie class gives me hope that deGrom can actually pull this off.

Last night, deGrom limited the Seattle Mariners to one run on five hits in seven innings and he now has a 1.59 ERA in his last six starts going back to June 21. Impressively, he has not allowed a home run in his last 52 2/3 innings. 

What stands out the most about deGrom, and regular MMO readers should already know this, is his swagger, confidence and pitching savvy. A year ago I felt that he could emerge as the best out of the big three; Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and himself, just on pitching smarts alone. This guy doesn’t beat you by throwing 98 mph, he’s a pitcher’s pitcher.

Nothing seems to faze this young man as he braves every situation with or without men in scoring position with such poise and consistency. He has a way about him that you just can’t teach, you either have it or you don’t.

Already owning a terrific fastball, curveball and slider combination, deGrom’s changeup is quickly becoming a killer pitch for him, nobody sees it coming and it hits the strike zone with such stealthy precision.

And can he battle? You bet he can, this kid refuses to give into anyone and as I said above, nothing fazes him.

He lowered his ERA to 3.01 ERA on Tuesday night and there’s still room for improvement. The nervous jitters that we saw in his first three starts have now been replaced with a confidence that’s resulting in fewer walks and his composure at this point is undeniable.

Perhaps a very impressed Lucas Duda said it best last night, “He’s beyond his years.” Duda is right, and it’s as simple as that.

Billy Hamilton is clearly the one to beat for the ROY award now that Chris Owings and Gregory Polanco have cooled down some. But after last night’s performance, deGrom is certainly in the family photo. His next 6-8 starts will need to be as good as his last six. If he can repeat the feat, my guess is we’re looking at the 2014 Rookie of the Year.

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10 Years In: What is David Wright’s Legacy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/10-years-in-what-is-david-wrights-legacy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/10-years-in-what-is-david-wrights-legacy.html/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161021 david wright

Believe it or not, today marks the 10th anniversary of David Wright’s Major League debut. As we reach this milestone, it is an appropriate time to assess his legacy with the team.

Selected during the supplemental round of the 2001 amateur draft (20 picks after Aaron Heilman if you can believe it), David Wright served as a compensatory pick after the Mets lost Mike Hampton to the Colorado Rockies during free agency. Prior to being drafted, Wright, the 2001 Gatorade Virginia High School player of the year, had committed to attending Georgia Tech.

Fortunately for the Mets, Wright decided to forgo his prior commitment and sign with his childhood team.

Wright rocketed through the Mets farm system. In the 91 minor league games that Wright played before being promoted in the summer of 2004, Wright hit .341 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs between Binghamton and Norfolk.

On July 21st, the Mets selected David’s contract for a game against the Montreal Expos. In just 69 games, David would hit 14 homers and garner 40 RBIs while batting .293. The future franchise cornerstone had arrived.

Now, ten years later, Wright is the captain of the Mets and unanimously beloved amongst the team’s fans. He already owns nearly every accumulative franchise record and by the time he retires he will undoubtedly lead in every offensive category, save for perhaps triples and stolen bases.

Known as Captain America, Wright has been the face of our franchise for a decade now. He has demonstrated his loyalty to the team, stuck it out through the tough times and yet the fact remains, the Mets have made the playoffs only once since his debut all those years ago.

From 2005-2008 David Wright was unbelievable. In those four seasons David batted .310 with 116 home runs and 449 RBIs. He won two Gold Gloves with matching Silver Slugger awards in 2007 and 2008 respectively. He also played in 160 games three of those four seasons, the lone outlier being 154 in 2006.

David had accomplished so much by the time he was 25 years old. Now, Wright is 31 and since that time he has just one 100 RBI season and one season of 25 or more home runs, both in 2010.

His batting average since 2008 has dropped nearly 20 points, to .292 over that span. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wright has struggled to stay healthy through a 162 game season as he has gotten older.

After playing in at least 154 games every full season through the age of 25, he has accomplished that feat just twice since. The other fact to keep in mind, Wright has not been to the playoffs since he was 23 years old.

This is not a knock on David Wright in any way. In the dark years that have followed the September collapses of ’07 and ’08, Wright has been a lone bright spot for a franchise with little to cheer for. He is certainly one of the greatest if not the greatest position players in franchise history. But with just one post-season series victory under his belt in 10 years, I have to wonder what his legacy is at this point in time. Where does he rank in Mets lore?

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MMO First Half Report Cards: No Straight A’s, But Plenty Of High Marks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-1st-half-grades.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-1st-half-grades.html/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161282 mets - logo

With the All-Star Break behind us, we’re officially into the 2nd half of the 2014 MLB season. Over the break, I opened up a roundtable and invited some other MMO writers to chime in with their grades. How did the Mets do on their first-term report card? Keep reading to find out!

INFIELDERS

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Lucas Duda, 1B: Duda won the 1st base competition over Ike Davis, leading to the trade of the latter to the Pirates. Lucas has been hitting pretty well, getting on base at a nice clip, and has shown off his power this season. He also plays a capable 1st base, a far cry from the debilitating defense we saw from him in the outfield earlier in his career. – Tommy R.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Murphy has been the Mets’ most consistent hitter this season. His hot streaks last for weeks and his cold “streaks” only seem to plague him for a couple games. His defense is better than it used to be, but the slip-ups still come a bit too often, and he doesn’t hit for much power either. Overall, however, it has been a very nice season for Murphy. - Tommy R .

Ruben Tejada, SS: Tejada got off to a slow start this season after having a miserable 2013. However, Tejada has turned it on as of late, and is starting to look like 2011-2012 Ruben Tejada again. – Rob P.

david wright swings

David Wright, 3B: David hasn’t played up to his usual standards so far this season, but then again, those standards are very high. Wright has had a pretty solid last year, and 95% of the league would gladly take the numbers he has at this point. He is starting to pick it up a bit lately, and the power seems to be returning, so while it’s disappointing not to be getting an “A+” season out of the captain thus far, David probably deserves a bit more credit than he’s been getting. – Tommy R.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: As Rob’s grade reflects, it has been a tale of two seasons thus far for TDA.  However, the first stretch, the part where he struggled mightily, took place over a much larger number of games than his hot streak has. Travis has really picked it up since getting demoted and recalled, and he’s starting to show why he has been traded for 2 different Cy Young winners. I always said it was foolish to give up on Travis, or any big prospect, so early. He’s starting to make me look right. But a few good weeks can’t fully erase his dreadful start, so it’s hard for me to give Travis a very good grade. – Tommy R.

Anthony Recker, C: Recker is a fine backup catcher, but that’s all he will ever be. He will park a few over the wall and isn’t a defensive liability. I expect him to perform about the same as he did in the second half that he did in the first. – Rob P.

Eric Campbell, 1B: Campbell has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets this year. He always seems to perform when we need him to, whether it be the occasional start or coming off the bench. Gotta love Soup! - Rob P.

Wilmer Flores, SS: The kid is so young, and Terry Collins has used him about as often as he has rested Carlos Torres. We have seen his offensive skill set so far in the minors, but it hasn’t translated to the majors. Maybe he hasn’t been challenged a lot defensively but I haven’t seen a crazy awful fielder like scouts have said. Yes he doesn’t have much range and will take some improvement. But Murph has come a long way and I would argue that Flores looks less clumsy in the field then Murph. - Avery D.

OUTFIELDERS

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Curtis Granderson, RF: Grandy got off to a miserable start this season and Jason Bay-related nightmares haunted all of our dreams for about a month and a half. In May, Curtis started picking it up, making solid contact, showing better pitch selection, and driving the ball with authority. But games in April count too, and Curtis still falls into occasional slumps. A “B” is all I’m giving him for now, but I expect him to outperform that grade going forward. – Tommy R.

Juan Lagares, CF: Anybody who has read my recaps and articles this year knows I love to sing Lagares’ praises. Lagares has solid speed and a golden glove (I fully expect to be able to write “golden” with a capital “G” at year’s end). When he isn’t hitting, he is still a guy you can run out there. Fortunately, the bat hasn’t been a problem this year. He came out of the gate red-hot before landing on the DL, then returned and started hitting again before suffering another injury. Juan is back once more, and while he is no longer red-hot with the bat, it looks like he has developed into a pretty good hitter who will have his ups and downs at the plate. And as long as he keeps up the excellent work in center, I can live with that. – Tommy R.

Eric Young, LF: Yes, Young is fast. Yes, he is the reigning Stolen Base Champion. Yes, he makes the occasional outstanding catch in the outfield. He’s also hitting an underwhelming .236/.316/.310. I’m sure he will be dangled to other teams at the trade deadline, if not, he needs to be a fourth outfielder/pinch runner for us off the bench going forward. – Rob P.

Chris Young, LF:  Don’t worry Chris, I won’t be too hard on you. You won’t get an “F” from me. Instead, I will blame the front office. We all knew that your best years were behind you and the Mets put you in a position where you would be demanded to perform in a starting role. I’m sorry Chris. You seem like a great guy. – Avery D.

That 7.5 million dollar contract is looking like more and more of a mistake as each day passes. Young has hit the occasional home run for us in the first half, but he’s hovered around the Mendoza line all year and has a .287 OBP. I don’t see him getting traded at the deadline because no one will want to take on that ridiculous contract. It’s not worth keeping him on the bench for that kind of money either. There’s nothing Young does that Kirk Nieuwenhuis can’t do, and do much better. – Rob P.

The fact that you’re not Nelson Cruz will always hang like an albatross around your neck, in my eyes. Sorry, Chris. – Tommy R.

Bobby Abreu, RF: -Not much to say about Abreu, he’s been good enough for us at his age, and is a fourth/fifth outfielder at this point. Don’t see him being any better in the second half than he was in the first, and that’s not a terrible thing. – Rob P.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF: Kirk has been solid for the Mets this year, but because he has spent so little time on the Major League club, it’s hard for me to give him a grade in the “A” range. Still he has a great glove, nice speed, and a decent bat with some pop. He could run away with the 3rd outfield job in the 2nd half. – Tommy R.

STARTING PITCHING 

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Jon Niese: Niese has been fantastic this year, and if not for a brief stint on the DL, I would give him an “A” and argue that he deserved a spot on the All-Star team. Jon has really stepped up in Matt Harvey’s absence, and will hopefully anchor the rotation for the rest of the way. – Tommy R.

Dillon Gee: Gee was off to a great start to the year after a strong campaign last season, but missed 2 months with what originally was expected to be a 2 week injury. Dillon’s work on the mound has been worthy of at least an “A-”, but he hasn’t spent enough time on the mound to garner that high of a grade, in my opinion. Anyway, now that he is back, he gives the Mets another solid arm at the top of their rotation. – Tommy R.

zack wheeler

Zack Wheeler: Matt Harvey spoiled us last year, so a lot of us were really looking for Wheeler to come out and dominate the league this season. That hasn’t happened, but Zack has still been pretty good. When he is getting ahead in the count, he is fantastic. When he falls behind the opposing hitters, he gets himself into trouble. Wheeler has the stuff to be a great pitcher, so the only question is his command. It looks like he’s starting to figure it out, so let’s see if he can bump this grade up before year’s end. – Tommy R.

Bartolo Colon: Bartolo’s win-loss record is hampered by the fact that he is a Met, and his ERA is hampered by the fact that, despite being pretty solid nearly every time he takes the mound, he has had a few absolutely horrendous starts that really put a blemish on his stat line. Still, Bartolo has given us several good starts, a lot of innings, and, of course, a ton of laughs. The Mets will likely receive many offers for the big fella as the trade deadline approaches, so he might not be here in a couple weeks. Still, Colon has been pretty solid, albeit not great; a classic “B” performance in my book. – Tommy R.

Jacob deGrom: DeGrom has been maybe the single most pleasant surprise for the Mets in the 2014 season. Jacob’s 3-5 record doesn’t do him any justice, as he should have several more wins, but has been a victim of poor offense. In 10 of his 12 starts, deGrom has allowed 3 or fewer runs, and is pitching to a 3.18 ERA on the season. deGrom will most likely remain the rotation when Niese returns from the disabled list, so I’m excited to see what Jacob can do from here on out. – Rob P.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:  Dice-K, you haven’t been spectacular. But you do everything and anything the Mets ask of you. You go to AAA, you come out of the pen, you close games, you start games. Not to mention, you stay healthy. No complaints here. - Avery D.

RELIEF PITCHERS

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Carlos Torres: Torres has done everything we have asked of him this year. He owns a 4-4 record and 2.88 ERA over a span of 43 games. Torres is the kind of guy every team needs and has been quality for us since he joined us last season. I hope Terry doesn’t blow his arm out, however. - Rob P.

Jenrry Mejia: Our starter-turned-closer Mejia has learned to enjoy his new role on the Mets and has been a nice replacement to the injured Bobby Parnell. Mejia has ten saves in twelve chances, and will look to add on to his success as our closer in the second half. – Rob P.

Jeurys Familia: I’ll take Familia’s 2.06 ERA any day of the week. He still lacks control at times, but he’s still so young and will only get better over time. – Rob P.

Vic Black: Black had the set-up role locked up going into 2014 and pitched himself out of a spot on the roster during the spring. Since being called up, however, Vic has been solid, and his strong performance, along with that of Dilson Herrera in the minors, makes the Marlon Byrd trade look better and better each day. If Black can keep working on his control, he can be a major piece in this bullpen. – Tommy R.

Josh Edgin: Coming into the year, I thought Josh Edgin was a bum. But it’s hard to argue with a 1.76 ERA, and Josh has performed to this high standard equally well against both lefties and righties. However, Terry Collins still mostly uses him as a LOOGY, and Edgin averages far less than an inning per outing, so I can’t put him in the “A” range just yet. – Tommy R.

Gonzalez Germen: Germen had an absolutely ridiculous start to the season, but then started to struggle, got hurt, and was ineffective upon his return. Gonzalez is now in the minors, and might not be back too soon. – Tommy R.

Dana Eveland:  The second lefty out of the ‘pen has also been good for us so far. I’ll take his 2.63 ERA. He’s only pitched in 13 games so far, so let’s see what he’s got when being exposed a bit more. – Rob P.

METS BRASS

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Terry Collins, Manager: I’m not a big fan of Collins. I don’t particularly like how he manages the team during games. But you can only pin so much on a manager, and the team seems to play hard for him, if not always well. – Tommy R.

Sandy Alderson, General Manager: So how exactly do we grade the GM during the season? By looking at how his acquisitions have fared? Does the performance of a prospect he acquired back in 2011 have an impact on his grade in 2014? I’m not exactly sure. Anyway, I’m not a huge Alderson fan, as I think he lets far too many opportunities go by the wayside, but most of his moves (at least the ones that aren’t “flyers”) seem good, and it’s not like the Wilpons have given him the appropriate resources, so it’s hard to grade him too harshly. Alderson gets a C for his seemingly passive approach, but to give him a lower mark would be unjust, in my opinion. – Tommy R.

The Wilpons, Owners: Many Mets fans think that the team’s struggles begin and end with the Wilpon Family. My brother, who doesn’t watch baseball, noted how much of a shame it is that the Wilpons are in enough of a financial bind that they are unable to spend freely on the team, but aren’t in enough of a pinch that they have to sell the team. Sometimes, it feels like we are in limbo… permanent limbo. Still, teams have won with payrolls equal to or lower than the one the Mets currently have, so giving the Owners an “F” because the team doesn’t win very much isn’t something I’m prepared to do. They won’t earn anything much higher though, at least not out of me. – Tommy R.

TEAM UNITS

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Offense: Our offense has been middle-of-the-pack in terms of getting on base and scoring runs. But beware: those numbers are skewed by the occasional huge game at the plate. There have been far too many games where the bats have been completely impotent and the valiant efforts of our pitchers have gone to waste. Consistency is a must at the plate, and while the offense has been better of late, it hasn’t been consistent enough this season to earn a very high grade. – Tommy R.

Starting Pitching: We all knew that our rotation would be our main strength going into the season, and there have been no surprises on that part. Niese has been great, Gee has been great when healthy, deGrom has been great, Colon has been pretty steady, and Wheeler looks like he’s going to really turn a corner before too long. Matsuzaka has been solid when called into duty. I miss Harvey, and I hope Noah Syndergaard can pick it up in AAA and get his electric arm up to Flushing before too long, but I have no real complaints about the pitching thus far. – Tommy R.

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Bullpen: Our bullpen looked weak coming into the year and things got even worse when Bobby Parnell’s season ended after just 1 game. However, Torres and the young guys like Mejia, Familia, Edgin, and Black have really stepped up to make this bullpen respectable, albeit still a bit more shaky than you’d like. Good teams usually need good bullpens, and while our pen isn’t great, it’s not the main culprit for our sub-500 record. – Tommy R.

Bench: The bench has been pretty disappointing in general this season, although some of the reserves have had their moments. Eric Campbell’s efforts salvage this unit from the “D” range. – Tommy R.

Defense: The defense has been decent, but nothing more. We have some solid speed in the outfield, which helps keep the number of extra-base hits down, but the fundamentals haven’t been pretty. How many times have our infielders failed to turn an easy double-play? I don’t even want to know the answer to that. – Tommy R.

Overall: The Mets have been alright this year. Alright, but not good. Mediocre, you could say. However, they are red-hot right now, and are slowly climbing back into the picture. If they can keep it up, maybe they can make this an exciting season. If not, it’s not like we have been trained to expect more, lately…

There have been some ups and downs this season. Let’s hope the Mets can make this a special year as we head into the second half! - Tommy R.

ya gotta belive gfx mr. met

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