Mets Merized Online » MMO Exclusives http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:05:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Ambiguity, Interpretations, and Assumptions in Sabermetrics http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/ambiguity-interpretations-and-assumptions-in-sabermetrics.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/ambiguity-interpretations-and-assumptions-in-sabermetrics.html/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:54:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170351

An MMO Fan Shot by DerpyMets

Two seasons ago I set forth on a somewhat insane, ambitious project to calculate all of the Mets pitching stats by hand for an entire season. This included watching every game, carefully marking down everything that happened (balls, strikes, fly balls, ground balls, line drives, bunts, blah blah blah, every little aspect of everything) for every Met pitcher. After every game I would painstakingly input this data into a spreadsheet, then double, triple, and quadruple check it. This was an obnoxiously tedious process, but it gave me an appreciation for a lot of aspects of baseball that a lot of fans take for granted.

For instance, when you’re calculating these stats, it is vitally important to mark down ground balls, fly balls, line drives, and pop ups. Sit back and think about what that entails. What is a fly ball? What is a line drive? At what point does a line drive turn into a fly ball? Where is the line between a pop up and a fly ball?

So I looked at the stats that would end up using these numbers for clues. Lets look at xFIP as a starting point. A lot of people quote xFIP pretty regularly, and I’m sure most of you know what it is: e(x)pected (F)ielding (I)ndependent (P)itching. Fielding independent means fielding isn’t counted, which is a subtle point I missed the first time I heard this jargon. I would have called it Pitching independent fielding, but maybe that would be confusing in the other direction. Whatever.

Here is the formula for calculating xFIP (and I’ll explain it):

xFIP = ( ( (13(Flyballs * lgHR/FB%)) + (3(BB+HBP)) – (2K) ) /(IP) ) + FIP constant

xFIP = ( 13(Flyballs lgHRFB%) ) + ( 3(BB + HBP) ) – (2K)IP+ FIP constant

Breaking that down a little, the numerator is made up of three parts.

First, you have 13 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of fly balls times the league average home run to fly ball rate. This estimates how many home runs an average pitcher would have given up in an average park to an average batter given this total number of fly balls surrendered.

Second, you have 3 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of free baserunners surrendered, aka walks plus hit by pitch.

Third, you have 2 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of strike outs.

The denominator is total innings pitched.

Then you add on the FIP constant at the end. The FIP constant is calculated by calculating the previous fraction for the entire league, then subtracting that from the league ERA. Essentially, the FIP constant makes these numbers resemble ERA. You generally use the same constant for FIP and xFIP, but you can manually calculate the FIP and xFIP constants if you want ever so slightly more accuracy (which I will be doing for the numbers coming up).

OKAY! Most of this seems straight forward, right? Not much interpretation. Walks, hit by pitch, strike outs, innings pitched, that’s all easy. Even the part about subtracting from the league ERA is pretty easy. But wait a second, that fly ball part, what’s that about? And what is a home run to fly ball ratio? What is a fly ball in the first place?

Well, in the case of xFIP, you’re trying to predict the total number of home runs. So, I presume the fly balls we’re talking about are fly balls that have a chance of becoming a home run, right? Is an infield pop up a fly ball? Well, there is a small amount of data to suggest that inducing a pop up is a pitching skill that may actually negatively correlate with home runs. So eliminating those from your fly ball total might make sense, or it might not. It depends who you talk to. What about infield line drives? Do those count? Line drives turn into home runs, but an infield line drive can’t possibly do that. But what if it is hit really, really hard, but on the wrong angle to leave the park? Maybe those infield line drives should count, but the really soft infield line drives shouldn’t. But what about really hard hit ground balls? Those are pretty much the same thing as hard hit infield line drives, but hit on an even more downward trajectory. Surely, if the batter had only hit the ball a tiny of a fraction of an inch lower, he could have elevated it to line drive to the outfield, right? He hammered the pitch, so the pitch was hittable, he just barely missed it.

There are so many factors to consider, where do you draw the line?

Alright, that is all well and good, but maybe if you calculate the league HR/FB% using the same interpretations as the pitcher FB total it will all just sort itself out in the end.

Let’s look at an example:

Dillon Gee’s 2013 stats: 172 FB, 139 LD, 42 PU, 47 BB, 7 HBP, 142 K, 199 IP.

I’ll note at this point, the league average xFIP is defined as, for this particular season, 3.76.

For Fly balls only, HR/FB = .1013, xFIP Constant = 3.01

Fly balls + Line drives, HR/FB = .0615, xFIP Constant = 3.54

Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups, HR/FB = .0583, xFIP Constant = 3.58

You can do the math along yourself, Gee’s xFIPs, respectively, are: 3.54, 4.18, 4.33.

 Lg HR/FB xFIP Constant xFIP For Fly balls only .1013 3.01 3.54 Fly balls + Line drives .0615 3.54 4.18 Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups .0583 3.58 4.33

That is a rather large range, from this data we can determine Gee was anywhere from above average to significantly below average, not exactly helpful.

Clearly each interpretation of flyball is giving us a different number. From now on, I’m going to refer to them in the following way:

flyballs only = xFIPf

flyballs + line drives = xFIPfl

flyballs + line drives + pop ups = xFIPflp

Okay, so those numbers come in a broad range, what does fangraphs say? 4.07.

Admittedly, I used different FB, LD, and PU numbers, since I took all this stuff by hand, using my own judgment while watching the games using my own eyes. Let me plug in FanGraphs own values and surely they must lineup with that 4.07 number, right? Respectively: 3.98, 4.38, 4.40.

Wait, what?

So this leaves us with a question, where did 4.07 that FanGraphs listed as Gee’s xFIP come from? I used FanGraphs own stats and their own equation, using three different methods, and none of them match up.

Looking closer into FanGraphs, specifically, into their guts, I see a listed FIP constant for 2013: 3.048, so plugging that number into the formula I get:

My Gee Stats: xFIPf = 3.57, xFIPfl = 3.69, xFIPflp = 3.79

FanGraphs Gee Stats: xFIPf = 4.01, xFIPfl = 3.89, xFIPflp = 3.87

 xFIPf xFIPfl xFIPflp My Gee Stats 3.57 3.69 3.79 Fangraphs Gee Stats 4.01 3.89 3.87

Note how none of these numbers are 4.07. Clearly FanGraphs is doing something behind the scenes that they aren’t telling us about. Either they are changing the formula’s slightly, using different stats, weighting stats differently, or using a different constant.

Alright, I admit this may be a bit of a nerdy, rambling sort of example, but I really want all baseball fans to understand this one thing: Advanced stats have inherent assumptions and interpretations that can dramatically change the look and feel of the stats. You have to question these underlying assumptions, you have to dig deeper into the stats, and, above all else, you must always explicitly state which version of the stat you’re quoting. I hope I have shown you at least four different versions of xFIP right now: xFIPf, xFIPfl, xFIPflp, and xFIPfg. Each of these gives you a different result, and you have to make sure to always compare like results to like results.

At the moment, FanGraphs largely holds a monopoly on advanced statistics consumed by average fans like you and me, but that will not always be the case, and more importantly, you should recognize their stats come with these inherent assumptions that may dramatically color your perception of certain types of players. Keep an open mind, and always question the numbers.

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

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MMO Exclusive: Mets Prospect Akeel Morris Reflects On Breakthrough Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-akeel-morris-reflects-on-breakthrough-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-akeel-morris-reflects-on-breakthrough-season.html/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:22:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169606

The beginning of last week I had just finished reading an email from Mets pitching prospect Akeel Morris. He had kindly consented to doing an interview with me for MMO. I then went into the MMO Interview Archives, and way back on page 16 or 17, I found the first interview I did with Akeel when he was toiling as an 18-year-old in the rookie league and I was surprised to see it was over three years ago… Wow, time sure flies when you’re young, and a Met, and are living the baseball life.

In those three years Morris has come a long way. He utterly dominated the South Atlantic League this past season, was selected to the  All-Star team, pitched in the play-offs, and led the SAL in Saves, strikeout rate, WHIP, ERA, total and strikeouts for a reliever. In recognition of his achievements, Morris received the prestigious Sterling Award, given by the Mets Organization to the best player at each minor league level.

Last week, the Mets even made the decision to add Morris to their 40-man Major League roster. That speaks volumes about what the Mets think of this talented right-hander.

When drafted by the Mets in the 10th round in 2010 out of Amalie High School in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Akeel was just a raw, untested young pitcher with a very live arm. In our previous interview he explained that he was working on repeating his delivery and his overall command.

It seems to have worked out pretty well so far because in 2014 , while closing games for Single-A Savannah, Akeel led the league in Saves (16), ERA (0.63), WHIP (0.72), and K/9 (14.1). Yes that last stat is a real eye-opener, 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His 89 K’s in 57 innings was so far out of the ordinary that the closer with the next highest strikeout total in the league had 66 K’s in 58.2 innings.

So here we go… Let’s check in with this exciting young man and see what he has to say about his truly incredible season  Enjoy…

Petey: Hi Akeel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for all of us at MMO, all the readers will really enjoy hearing from you.

After your amazing season this year in Savannah, there is a great deal of buzz about you in and around the organization not to mention the rest of baseball. How do you feel about the year you just had now that you have had a little time to decompress?

Akeel: The year I had personally was for me a great accomplishment. To see what I could do in a full season, the competition level and just moving up and being successful at every level for me is an accomplishment. I’m happy about that and excited to keep moving up and challenges, and challenging better hitters. So that really was an accomplishment for me personally. About the baseball world, it was a really great year, for me to make the All-Star team and post-season All-Star team, and the Sterling Award. On top of a great season that was even more than I could have asked for.

Petey: Well all those awards and accolades were well deserved my man. It is great to see your hard work and dedication paying off like that. Are you going to play any winter ball?

Akeel: No I’m not going to play any winter ball.

Petey: I went back in the MMO archives to find the interview you and I did before and I was shocked to see that it was just over three years ago, October 2011! A lot has gone down since then. It seems things really started to roll when you were switched to relief, that was the beginning of 2012 I think?

Akeel: Yeah I was put in a piggy-back role in 2012 so I was coming out of the bullpen. Yeah so you could say I started relief in 2012. And 2013 I was with the Brooklyn Cyclones. I wasn’t on a full relief schedule there, the appearances were just as much but I was out of the bullpen. I was on a starter’s schedule but I was piggy-backing as well. But yeah this year in Savannah was the first full year in the bullpen. Doing back-to-back outings, that was a big difference. You’re on a throwing program everyday, and you got to pitch that night. You have to learn how to pace yourself and how your arm is feeling going into the game and stuff. It was also a learning experience for me coming out of the bullpen.

Petey: Yeah and if you’re facing the same team two nights in a row you have to be able to show them something different right?

Akeel: Exactly. So it was definitely a learning experience.

Petey: Was there a moment when things really started to ‘click’ for you, and did that help your confidence?

Akeel: Confidence-wise, when I’ve got my good stuff, on most nights consistently like that I kinda got a feel for. I know what I gotta do to have this and this, and you’re not going to have it every night. But when you can have it on most nights that’s all you can really ask for, and you have to battle it the other nights. I got a feel for how I need to be, what I need to be, and what I need to do, to have my stuff be effective most nights, you know? I guess that’s what really ‘clicked’, learning about myself.

Petey: That’s really cool man. So how would you describe your mindset when you are entering a game as a closer? How is it different from starting a ball game?

Akeel: Yeah, it’s definitely different, I mean as a closer or even late in a ball game, you’re going to come in when the game is tied or most likely when your team is up and your like okay, they play nine innings, you’ve got to shut it down. No free passes, no anything. You don’t want to give them any momentum, you know? It’s really just like shut it down, shut it down, that’s all you’re really thinking.

Petey: Being aggressive.

Akeel: Yeah. Basically that’s a simple message in my head, I got to shut it down, go right after these guys. Don’t give them any free passes.

Petey: Is there any ritual or mental prep you do in the bullpen before coming in with the game on the line?

Akeel: Mental preparation, I mean that’s gradual throughout the game. As the later innings come buy I start to get a little more locked in. I start to move around in the bullpen, even as the the game is close in the eighth inning sometimes I just sit around and it’s about mentally locking in. When the whole process really starts for me is before I get on the mound to warm up. Sometimes you don’t have as much time but it doesn’t feel like that once you mentally prepared yourself. So that’s what works for me.

Petey: When we did our last interview for MMO we discussed your pitches at the time. I would imagine they have come a long way since then. Back in 2011 this what you said on the subject:

“As of now I’m throwing a fastball, curveball and a change up. My fastball is usually low to mid 90′s, it peaked at 96 this season. My curve is mid to upper 70′s, and change up is upper 70′s to low 80′s.”

What kind of speeds and movement is your fastball exhibiting these days?

Akeel: My fastball has been sitting at 93-95 mph this season, topped out at 97. Most people tell me it has like a downhill plane, most times it has life to it. Sometimes my catcher will tell me it looks like it’s coming down and looks like it’s going to hit the ground, but it just rides out and it reaches the catcher. So it kinda looks like it’s downhill, downhill, downhill, but it somehow rides out to the plate. So I don’t know how to explain it, that’s what he told me.

Petey: Wow, it sounds like the pitch has natural rise or carry but you’re keeping the ball down in the zone as well.

Akeel: I guess so yeah something like that.

Petey: That’s a four-seam fastball?

Akeel: Yeah I throw a four-seam fastball.

Petey: How bout your change-up? The last time I talked to you it was something you wanted to focus on.

Akeel: The change-up has been really great. Sometimes I keep it down and there’s not as much movement, but it’s so much slower than my fastball and it looks so much like my fastball too, it’s hard for hitters to pick it up. And sometimes it’s even better when it has that drop-off to it. Sometimes it just drops off the table and they swing over it. And sometimes it doesn’t even have that much movement but it’s so slow they don’t see it and can’t put a good swing on it.

Petey: And your arm-speed? It’s the same as with the fastball?

Akeel: Yeah my arm speed is the same.

Petey: That’s awesome. Now what about your breaking pitches?

Akeel: I throw a slider. The slider has really come along a lot more this year. I started throwing it last off-season and at the beginning of this season I didn’t throw it as much. But when the second half came I started to bring it out and throw it, and it really started to develop a lot more. I even got a feel for it where I was throwing the slider even more than my change-up at times. And I love that feeling because I didn’t even have to depend on the fastball/change-up combination. I could go fastball/slider combination and when I mixed it in with the change-up too, it was even a lot better.

Petey: Yeah and the results from this last season certainly attest to that. Say Akeel, what are some of the things you hope to accomplish in your development this upcoming season? Do you set any goals for yourself?

Akeel: This upcoming season I would really like to get better control of my slider. Like be able to throw it for a strike more often. I would throw it for a strike at times but most times I’d throw them a slider it would break outside the zone and they would swing over it or they would take it. But it was more for them to see the pitch. So if I can throw it for strikes more often that’s what I really want to do.  So basically just develop the slider some more.

Petey: Are you able to throw the slider when you are behind in the count?

Akeel: Yes I’ve thrown it in various different counts and I feel that’s a big thing about pitching too. I feel whatever pitches you have you need to be able to throw it in any count. So yeah I have been working on that and I have thrown it in different counts.

Petey: Is there any one coach, or coaches that have helped you significantly since joining the Mets organization, in regards to your development?

Akeel: Coaching-wise, I’ve been with Jonathan Hurst for two years in Kingsport, he helped me a lot, and different coaches in extended spring training. But one of the coaches who really took a lot of time out with me and worked on mechanics while I was in extended spring training day-to-day was Miguel Valdez. He was the pitching coach for short season and I mean he’d really break down my mechanics  for me to understand it and I worked on it. It took a little time but it definitely paid off to where I understand my mechanics and I can see what I’m doing wrong. And as soon as I figured that stuff out it’s been going a lot better, a lot better. So Miguel Valdez has really helped me out a lot.

Petey: You were on a very talented Savannah ball club this past season, lot’s of excellent position players and pitchers. And of course you guys made the SAL playoffs. But let’s focus on the pitching staff for a moment. As someone who watched your starting pitcher’s performances in every game, are there any that stand out for what they bring to the table?

Akeel: That’s really hard, I mean we got so much talent. Actually the starting pitching, I mean for the full year I would say, John Gant for sure. He impressed me. I mean anytime he’s going into the game your guaranteed he’s gonna go at least six innings. He usually goes deep into the ball games and he’s  keeping the score close, giving your team a chance to win. So John Gant really impressed me with his consistency and being able to do that. Other pitchers, I like Robert Gsellman a lot too but he got hurt a little bit into the season. But I mean he really pitched good, he had a good year as well.

Petey: Yeah a lot of Mets fans that follow the Mets Minor League teams are very high on those two guys.

Akeel: And also Kevin McGowan too because he had a game, he went deep into the ninth and I like when your starting pitcher is out there. His pitch count was up and he couldn’t pitch anymore in the ninth inning if he wanted to. And I had to come in and close the game, and he didn’t even want to get off the mound, he wanted to finish the game. So when you have your starters out there with that sort of fire, it pumps you up more to come in and save their game.

Petey: One more question. Now that you are a professional ‘closer’ Akeel, do you ever imagine yourself on the mound in the 9th inning of the World Series trying to preserve a one-run lead? How does it work out? Ha ha!

Akeel: Definitely, as a kid people have those fantasies, whatever scenario it is. Fortunately for me I was always pitching, since I became a pitcher that’s always been the fantasy. The World Series, last inning, game on the line and they call on you. I mean how that turns out is I’m just ready to pitch. Like I said, always in the minors to shut it down, and it goes well for me in my mind.

Petey: That’s is awesome man. Seriously Akeel, I want to thank you again for being so accommodating and taking the time to do this interview. You have always taken time out to talk to me and my colleagues at MetsMerized Online and we all really appreciate it.

Akeel: Alright man sounds good, anytime. I’m already psyched.

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I hope you enjoyed our interview. Although Morris is still a year or two away from the big leagues, the fact that the Mets found it necessary to protect him from the draft this winter by adding him to the 40 man roster shows how highly regarded a prospect he truly is. I look for him to be fast-tracked all the way to AA this year. He’ll surely have a chance to get his feet wet in the Florida State League coming out of spring training, but I would be very surprised if he doesn’t wind up at Binghamton by mid-season at the latest.

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MMO Exclusive: I Guess Sandy Wasn’t Kidding After All http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-i-guess-sandy-wasnt-kidding-after-all.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-i-guess-sandy-wasnt-kidding-after-all.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:34:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169452

One of our readers named Matt, reached out to me last week and wrote:

I’ve been following MMO for the last two years or so, although I’ve only commented maybe once or twice. Thank you for the great content and dedication.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is because I am taking a Literature of Baseball class this term at Drexel University, and my professor is a consultant for the Mets. Tonight, at 6 pm, Sandy Alderson will be coming to speak to the class and will be open for any questions.

The class only has 15-20 students or so, and I should have plenty of time to ask him anything and everything. I was just wondering if there is anything you would like me to ask on behalf of MMO and then pass along the answers. We were told anything is fair game, but to please refrain from the ongoing Leigh Castergine lawsuit.

Having just ran a series of posts covering MMO’s John Bernhardt’s exclusive one-on-one interview with Sandy Alderson last week, there was really only one more question that never got asked that I wanted to throw at Sandy:

“There are many fans who have become frustrated with how every decision still seems to be heavily based on dollars. There are those who believe the team should be operating with a payroll that should be on par with other teams that play in large markets. My question to you Sandy is, what do you believe is an appropriate payroll range for the New York Mets and how long until they can operate at that level again?”

About three hours later, Matt responded to me with a photo he took with Sandy and the following response:

It was a great experience, he is probably as knowledgeable as anyone in baseball. Some very interesting things about the Mets, as well as Major League Baseball in general. I’ll send you another email soon with more about what he said, but as for the payroll question…

In typical Sandy Alderson fashion, he said that payroll should be so that the team at least hits a break even point. Now that the Mets are at that point, payroll increase will correlate with revenue increase which he acknowledged would only come from winning.

He also said that right now, the Mets need to continue to get a little more out of their players than what the team is paying for them – a la Lucas Duda, Jacob deGrom, and others. That would lead to more winning and give the Mets increased revenue, and thus increased payroll, and hopefully even more winning.

It was an interesting response. I never expected Sandy to give me an actual payroll range simply because the truth would probably not coincide with what his employers have in mind. But that Sandy transitioned into a player’s performance outpacing their cost to the team was interesting to hear. That is the essence of the advanced metric revolution, of course.

But there was one more thing Matt mentioned that we both probably had a good laugh about.

I don’t think you can quote him on it, but a Phillies fan took a jab at Sandy and asked him, “When are the Mets ever gonna make the playoffs again?”  Sandy replied,  “Next year.”

I can tell you that neither me or Matt took that exchange very seriously, and in fact, I wasn’t even going to mention it. But in light of yesterday’s stunning events, maybe Sandy wasn’t kidding after all… Maybe he was dead serious about making the playoffs in 2015… Anyway, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I want to thank Matt for reaching out to us and letting us share his experience with the MMO community.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Pursuing Pirates Prospect Josh Bell http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 18:02:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169531

An MMO Fan Shot by Jason Bay

The case for Josh Bell as I see it is threefold.

1) The longstanding belief that it is having many good players together for as much of their careers as possible, all at the same time that is the critical difference in how high a team can rise. (Think Rollins, Utley, Howard)

2) Combining Bell with Brandon Nimmo is a perfect fit as they compliment each other very well whether it be in the lineup together or splitting time in certain circumstances .

3) It’s an opportunity of being able to acquire Bell without having to move any of our young high end pitching, namely Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz. The immediate needs of the Pirates are such that we can add Bell without worrying about raising payroll or moving any of our prized arms.

Platoon splits for left-handed hitters in the minors do not always hold up when reaching the majors and in Nimmo’s case there is some cause for concern.

Nimmo vs. LHP

Career – .220/.331/.298, 24.2 K/9, 11.8 BB/9

2014 AA – .152/.278/.239, 22.0 K/9, 13.8 BB/9

2014 A+ – .333/.435/.417, 16.5 K/9, 12.9 BB/9

Let’s see how the switch-hitting Bell compares…

Bell vs. LHP

Career – .300/.343/.450, 11.2 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

2014 AA – .295/.354/.341, 8.3 K/9, 8.3 BB/9

2014 A+ – .320/.333/.495, 10.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

What this tells me is that if Nimmo does not hit LHP in the majors, Bell’s presence allows us to get the production we need from one outfield spot the 30-40 times a year we face a left-handed starting pitcher.

When we face a righthander however, is where the benefit of adding Bell really kicks in because in this case we would have both in the lineup together (Approx.120-130 starts)

Bell vs. RHP

Career – .298/.363/.449, 17.5 K/9, 9.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .280/.333/.280, 14.8 K/9, 17.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .341/.396/.504, 12.1 K/9, 8.6 BB/9

As you can see in limited play (94 AB) the power did not show up for Bell in AA but here is where Nimmo compliments Bell if his weaker side power doesn’t develop.

Nimmo vs. RHP

Career – .287/.409/.440, 23.3 K/9, 16.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .291/.379/.493, 17.6 K/9, 12.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .316/.454/.477, 19.1 K/9, 20.1 BB/9

What you have in Bell and Nimmo are two players who together can be a real force in the lineup and who individually cover the others potential flaws. An outfield with Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto (plus a RH compliment to Conforto) would afford the opportunity to start three right-handed hitters or three left-handed hitters in the outfield anytime we wanted with the ability to double switch and strategize later in the game, utilizing all five outfielders in situations that accentuate their strengths and bypass their potential weaknesses.

Bell also has the arm for right field, something we do not currently have in-house unless Cesar Puello somehow comes through. And If we did execute a trade for Bell, Cesar could get his shot this year as a platoon right fielder while Bell continues to develop.

Having at the least Lagares, Bell, Nimmo and Granderson followed by Conforto does give us four outfielders which in case of injury to one wouldn’t hurt and would be a godsend in the event Conforto does not have the range to play the outfield.

The reason I think this is potentially doable is pure opportunity. Pittsburgh has Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano most likely departing the starting rotation as free agents and Russell Martin leaving a void behind the plate as well. They also have outfielders in abundance in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows on the way.

Here’s one possible suggestion. We can offer Jon Niese, Dillon Gee (or Bartolo Colon), Kevin Plawecki and Wilmer Flores (or Daniel Murphy) in exchange for Josh Bell and RF Keon Broxton (ETA 2015),  C Reese McGuire (ETA 2017) and CF/LF Harold Ramirez (ETA 2017).

Flores or Murphy can takeover at 3B and allow Pedro Alvarez to move to 1B, and we can kick in some money to help cover part of Niese’s or Colon’s salary if necessary.

It does leave us a little bare behind the plate in case of injury, and of course means SS comes down to a competition between Tejada, Tovar and Reynolds while we await Cecchini or Rosario. But the deal would certainly accomplish the Pirates’ offseason goals and pretty much solidifies the Mets outfield for many years to come in the most impactful way possible.

It also gets us a top notch catching prospect who hits left-handed to boot, and more importantly, maintains all of our elite young pitching.

The OF in 2016 at some point would be:

LF Grandy, Nimmo
CF Lagares, Nimmo
RF Bell, Nimmo

What do you think?

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Jason Bay. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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Korean Slugging Shortstop, Jung-ho Kang, To Post In December http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/korean-slugging-shortstop-jung-ho-kang-to-post-in-december.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/korean-slugging-shortstop-jung-ho-kang-to-post-in-december.html/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:48:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169736

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Alan Nero, the agent for the Korean slugging shortstop Jung-ho Kang, said he anticipates his client will be posted shortly after the December Winter Meetings. He joked, “If he were Cuban, he’d get \$100 million.”

MLB Trade Rumors spoke to an international scouting director who says Kang doesn’t possess any plus tools, and may profile as a utility guy with good instincts and a little bit of pop.

Sherman points out that there are concerns if Kang would be athletic enough to handle full-time play at shortstop in MLB. Regarding those concerns, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote that while Kang’s arm strength is widely praised, questions remain about his overall defensive capability. He adds that multiple scouts suggest that a move to either second base or third base will be necessary for Kang to secure a regular playing time.

Kang, who turns 28 next April, batted .360/.463/.756 with 33 doubles, 38 home runs, and 107 RBI in 107 games this past season for Korea. However, executives from MLB teams have been dubious about how his power will translate in the States because the competition in Korea is even more inferior than that in Japan, writes Sherman.

The Cardinals are among 6-7 teams that have reportedly shown early interest in Kang. Not sure this is someone that would have any appeal to the Mets, especially with the MLB consensus that he’ll play second or third base in the majors.

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MMO Fan Shot: Don’t Be Shy Sandy… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 03:58:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169449

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

It has become evident at this early stage in the off-season that the Mets will not be major players in the free agent market. For the first year in many, that choice isn’t simply because of funds, but simply out of who is available, or better yet who is not available. I agree with the assessment that Michael Cuddyer is not worth our draft pick. Hanley is not much of a shortstop anymore, and all the top players available are starting pitchers, just what we don’t need.

With the possible exception of Yasmani Tomas, the Mets cannot and should not look for answers in the free agent pool. There is no need to pay Asdrubal Cabrera or Stephen Drew a ton of money to provide production close to what Wilmer Flores will give us over a full season for minimum wage. We can all agree that Michael Morse and Alex Rios are not the bats that fit into the middle of our lineup. Rios’ power seems to have dried up, and Morse is a poor defender and struggles to stay on the field. As much as I like Tomas, we can’t go all waste our limited money on a player that hasn’t touched a major league field yet. There are proven commodities all over the place, on the trade market.

Sandy Alderson’s experience in trades as Mets GM has been limited. His trades have been from the standpoint of a struggling team selling off top pieces and building for the future. He knew he was getting top prospects in return, but the question was just which prospect. Admittedly he has proven to be very savvy in these negotiations. I recall conversations where the Giants claimed that Zack Wheeler was absolutely untouchable. We were preparing to settle for Gary Brown, who has played in just seven major league games. Syndergaard was a throw-in piece in the deal for R.A. Dickey. We were really excited about Travis d’Arnaud, but Sandy got us Syndergaard as well. A steal for sure, especially after proposals regarding Mike Olt were considered. However, when dealing with a situation from the opposite perspective, he has not had any experience, at least as Mets general manager. Now is the off-season where that should change.

Alderson’s notable deal for a big name player came when Sandy ran the Oakland Athletics. He flipped three prospects who never reached the majors in exchange for Dennis Eckersley. Eck changed the role of the closer forever and won a Cy Young award as an Athletic. Alderson’s re-acquisition of Rickey Henderson in 1989 also came at a low cost, as he gave up on players who would not become anything special. It has been a long time since Alderson traded for the big name, the star, the player that changed the team. But after years of rebuilding and reconstruction, the Mets have reached a time where it is time for them to make a trade. Otherwise, they are giving up on all the progress they have made and just hoping for the best. I wouldn’t be shocked, but they can’t do it. Of course the question is, what do the Mets have, and what can they get back?

It is no secret that the Mets have a glut of Major League quality pitchers. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero could all be found in MLB rotations come next spring. I have understood the over-protection of our pitchers in the past, but now with 8 ready starters, the time has come to let some of the horses free. I’d venture to say that the only “untouchables”, (I hate that word but…) are deGrom and Harvey. Those two have years of team control left and have proven that they are top quality MLB pitchers. Sure I like Zack Wheeler, but he was very streaky in 2014, and if teams are going to ask for him, I’d be willing to give him up, just as I would Gee, Colon, Niese, Syndergaard, or Montero. The Mets don’t need all those pitchers, we also have our catcher in d’Arnaud and can trade Plawecki. Daniel Murphy is likely to walk after the season and we’d be foolish not to trade him now. What they need is a hitter, an impact hitter.

There are bats all around the majors that could help right now. I could offer up phantom proposals regarding Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Jose Bautista, Alex Gordon, hell, I could tell you how the Mets could land Giancarlo Stanton, but that isn’t my job. You can play with what-ifs all you want, but it means absolutely nothing until something happens. The responsibility falls on our lovely owners and old Sandy Alderson. I am absolutely positive that there are packages that can be put together that will bring that missing impact hitter to New York, and help us reach the playoffs, and maybe even win a title. At some point dream scenarios and possibilities have to end, and reality and risk-taking has to begin. I simply don’t want management to wimp out when they have a real chance to change the fate of our franchise.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Matt Stephens. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met 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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Alderson Met With His Staff and Scouts, Now Ready To Tackle Offseason Goals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alderson-met-with-his-staff-and-scouts-now-ready-to-tackle-offseason-goals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alderson-met-with-his-staff-and-scouts-now-ready-to-tackle-offseason-goals.html/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169174

Sandy Alderson was kind enough to agree to an interview with MMO senior writer John Bernhardt on his weekly radio show called Tip-Off. Sandy’s interview had a number of fascinating insights and revelations, many of which we’ve already posted on MMO.

As we head into Sandy’s fifth offseason as Mets GM, he was asked to describe the processes and preparation that will go into this very important hot stove season.

“I think you could say it’s a two-fold process. One – you have to assess what you have currently and what your needs are. We spent part of this offseason with our staff in New York as well as our professional scouts, looking at what we have and where we think we need to improve.”

“And the second part of the process is actually canvassing both the market for free agents and also trade possibilities to see what may be out there to fill those holes.”

“So that’s the prefatory phase… but then you actually have to go out and sign players or make those trades. That happens over a period of three months starting about now – right after the World Series – when free agents can be acquired, through the the end of January pretty much.”

How is the implementation of the plan executed once you’ve done all your assessments and decided which areas you intend to improve and who you’re targeting?

“Because it’s such a long three month process, one of the things you have to decide is just how aggressively you want to pursue certain players or whether you’re going to be more cautious and let the market develop to see where it goes and what may be left at the end of the season.”

“So once you’ve assessed your needs and then sort of target these needs, it’s a question of approaching individual players through free agency versus approaching individual clubs in terms of acquiring players through trades. It all kind of works its way through in that three month window..”

This will give you a basic look into how the front office intends to navigate through the next three months. Sandy made clear to us that he’s looking to upgrade left field. Other than that, he didn’t go into any other areas he’s looking to improve. But he did take the time to share his thoughts on a number of players he is very high on for 2015, including Juan Lagares, Wilmer Flores and a number of prospects. This should be a fun offseason to monitor and I look forward to seeing how the drama unfolds.

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Sandy Alderson Sees A Lot Of Reasons For Optimism http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/sandy-alderson-sees-a-lot-of-reasons-for-optimism.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/sandy-alderson-sees-a-lot-of-reasons-for-optimism.html/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 04:42:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169030

Sandy Alderson was a special guest of MMO’s John Bernhardt Tip-Off Show on Friday. He had some interesting things to say about a variety of topics regarding the Mets and their minor league system. Rather than post the entire interview in it’s entirety, I wanted to break it up into several parts so that each of his insights get the attention they deserve.

John (MMO) – Despite only a 79 win season in 2014, we feel that the Mets took some positive steps forward this season. What were some of the silver linings you saw this season that bode well for the Mets future?

Sandy (NYM) – “We only won 79 games, but it was a five game improvement over the last two years, and looking at some of the peripheral numbers, we might have been a game or two better than that. I think individually, there’s a lot of reason for optimism…”

“To begin we had Matt Harvey who didn’t play one inning, but his rehab was uneventful, thankfully, and we expect him to be back and that should be a huge plus for us. Jacob deGrom and his emergence this season was big story. He’s a strong rookie of the year candidate and what a terrific year this was for him. And of course at the minor league level, players like Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero all had very good seasons. So all of this bodes well for our starting pitching depth.”

John (MMO) – The bullpen was certainly a bright spot and that was very exciting to see.

Sandy (NYM) – “The bullpen was far better than any of our bullpens in recent years and it’s all built around young pitching. Mejia, Familia, Black, Edgin… So both our starting pitching and bullpen already look to be strong for us next year, and I think that’s very encouraging.”

“Position wise, we have Travis d’Arnaud who improved tremendously in the second half of the season at the plate. We expect him to improve both offensively and defensively next season. Lucas Duda had a breakout season, Daniel Murphy was an All Star and we have Dilson Herrera behind him.”

“But Wilmer Flores, who was someone who was completely written off as a shortstop, came in and proved to be very capable there. David Wright had a poor season, but that only means the potential for improvement is great. Juan Lagares is terrific defensively and he hit .280. If he can supplement his offensive production with a little more on-base and a bit more power, he could be a very special and terrific player.”

Curtis Granderson certainly has room for improvement and was very up and down. But when he was up he was terrific and a great addition to the team. Obviously, in left field we need to improve, but one of the things that’s encouraging for me is that we no longer have multiple, multiple, holes to fill.”

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Alderson Expects Middle Infield To Remain In Flux http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-expects-middle-infield-to-be-in-flux-next-two-years.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-expects-middle-infield-to-be-in-flux-next-two-years.html/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:41:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169045

Sandy Alderson told MMO’s John Bernhardt this morning that he expects his middle-infield situation to be in flux over the next couple of years while discussing potential playing opportunity for Dilson Herrera.

With second baseman Daniel Murphy expected to earn roughly \$8 million next season in arbitration, it sure sounded like an extension is not forthcoming and validates speculation that , that he could be traded this offseason. The Blue Jays, Orioles, Nationals and Giants could all be interested.

Sandy told John that, he was very happy with the progress of Herrera.

“It was phenomenal last year really coming from Port St. Lucie through Binghamton and up to the major league club. …Herrera has surprising power for his size. He runs well. He’s very athletic. Turns the double play. I think he’s going to get more consistent defensively. He’s got pretty good hands and moves laterally well. We were impressed with him during his time with us. He had very good at-bats.”

Wilmer Flores also plays into the second base situation where he’s better defensively than at shortstop, and Sandy spoke very highly about him as well..

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Sandy Alderson On Mets Prospects: Matz, Conforto, Plawecki, Nimmo http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/sandy-alderson-weighs-in-on-matz-conforto-plawecki-nimmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/sandy-alderson-weighs-in-on-matz-conforto-plawecki-nimmo.html/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:36:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169037

MMO’s John Bernhardt had Sandy Alderson on as his guest during today’s Tip-Off show on WIOX Radio. Here is what he had to say about several of the Mets prospects.

Steven Matz, LHP

“He had a very good season in 2013, and exceeded that in 2014, both at St. Lucie and at Binghamton. His numbers were very similar at both places, which is very positive given the fact that he had moved up a level. I would say Steven is probably one of the top handful of left-handed pitching prospects in the game right now. The guy who was supposed to be the best left-handed prospect, Andrew Heaney, came up to the Marlins last year and didn’t do particularly well in his transition, but I think Steven is very comparable. He’s got an excellent fastball for a lefty, at 93, 94 mph. It can get a little bit higher than that. His breaking ball has gotten much better. And he threw some excellent changeups that night in Binghamton in that championship game.

“He’s been on the roster. He was on the roster last year. He’ll, of course, be on the roster again this year. I think the difference is that last year we put him on the roster to protect the talent. This year I think he’s got a chance potentially sometime during the season to help us at the major league level.”

Brandon Nimmo, OF

“There are several qualities that I think distinguish Brandon. One is his commitment to excellence, if you will. He’s a tremendously competitive individual. He takes his preparation very seriously. He has grown physically very impressively over the last couple of years through offseason workouts. He has an approach that’s very consistent with what we try to promote, which is selectivity at the plate. Being aggressive with good judgment, I guess, is how we look at it — getting a good pitch to hit. If anything, at Binghamton, I think he began to demonstrate a little more power, which we think he has. There may be a little trade-off between his discipline at the plate and his ability to turn on the ball, but I think that’s something that’s coming. He’s a very committed guy.”

Dilson Herrera, 2B

“We’re very happy with his progress. I mean, it was phenomenal last year really coming from Port St. Lucie through Binghamton and up to the major league club. It was tough for me to make the decision to bring Dilson up to the major leagues knowing how important he had been to Binghamton. I think I called [B-Mets owner] Mike Urda and said, ‘Look, I really apologize, but this is really what we need to do.’ And he was the right guy at the time. We had some playing time because [Daniel] Murphy was down.

“Herrera has surprising power for his size. He runs well. He’s very athletic. Turns the double play. I think he’s going to get more consistent defensively. He’s got pretty good hands and moves laterally well. We were impressed with him during his time with us. He had very good at-bats. I think he hit three home runs. So he’s got some real potential. And we were very happy with him during the course of his time with us, and he’ll come to spring training.

“You know, our middle-infield situation over the next couple of years is probably going to be in a little bit of flux. So he’s got an excellent opportunity.”

Matt Reynolds, SS

“He’s been solid at shortstop. And we’ve left him there and expect that he’ll be able to remain there. He’s also an excellent athlete. He’s got a strong arm, pretty good range defensively. Offensively, he had just a great season last year — really a breakout season for him both at Binghamton and at Las Vegas. The numbers get a little inflated at Las Vegas, but his were right in line with what he had done in Binghamton.

“I think what he’s done — by his own word, he’s indicated — he’s started to use all the field. He’s not really trying to pull everything. And although he had some home runs, and I think he’s got three home runs already in the Arizona Fall League, he tries to use the whole field. He’s sort of a gap-to-gap guy. So we’re very high on Reynolds and hope that he can at least at the outset of 2015 duplicate what he was able to do last year.”

“Plawecki is very solid — one of the handful of best catching prospects in baseball. I think we’re fortunate to have two young guys like [Travis] d’Arnaud and Plawecki. Plawecki is a little different hitter — more of a contact hitter, more patient at the plate. But I think he has some power potential. He’s a big guy.

“Defensively, he catches the ball well, blocks reasonably well. He probably has an average arm, but is very solid behind the plate and I think develops a pretty good rapport with his pitching staff. So we’re very high on both of those players. …

“Right now we’re fortunate that we have two who are essentially major league ready — I think Plawecki is close — of such high quality. At the same time, as they sort of both converge on the major leagues, it’s a question of whether both can be accommodated. I think there are circumstances under which that’s possible. For example, sharing the catching duties and then one of them playing first base a little bit or playing in the outfield. Or, during interleague games one of them DHing against left-handed pitching. I think there are ways to do it. The question is really whether that’s the best use of those two resources. And it may be, because beyond those two there’s a little bit of a drop-off at least in the catching we have in the system. We’ve got a couple of very young guys that we really like, but there may be a little bit of a drop-off after Plawecki. And so we have to be careful about trying to keep both of those guys in the system.”

Michael Conforto, OF

“Since I arrived in New York, he’s the first first-round pick out of college that we’ve drafted. Our other three had been high school players. So I do expect that he’ll move a little more quickly. We did get him to Savannah for the playoffs late in the season this year. So I would expect that he’ll move more quickly than some of our other top draft picks have certainly.

“Michael comes from a very athletic and competitive family. His father, I think, was a linebacker at Penn State. He played football there. His mother is a former Olympic athlete — a medalist in synchronized swimming. So he comes from a very athletic family. He’s a great kid, very humble and committed to the game and has interacted with fans — I think a terrific individual, and an outstanding hitter.

“A left-handed hitter, power is probably not his foremost quality. He’s got some, but he’s more of a gap-to-gap guy — high average, high on-base percentage — and a pretty good defender, which was not his reputation coming into the draft. But based on the time he spent in Brooklyn and then Savannah, our guys were very pleased with him defensively. He’s kind of an all-around player, and we do expect that he’ll move very quickly.”

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Gil Hodges Up For Hall of Fame Consideration In December http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/gil-hodges-up-for-hall-of-fame-consideration-in-december.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/gil-hodges-up-for-hall-of-fame-consideration-in-december.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:37:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168992

An MMO Fan Shot by Bill Hall

Gil Hodges is one of ten names on this year’s Golden Era Ballot the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.Players will be reviewed and voted on December 8 during the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego.

We support the election of Gil Hodges to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is fully qualified under every one of the criteria set forth in the Hall’s own rules:

“Voting shall be based on player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Gil Hodges was the premier first baseman in the National League during the Golden Era. He was an outstanding fielder, winning the first three Gold Gloves ever awarded in his final three seasons as a full-time regular. He was a dominant power hitter, topping twenty home runs for eleven consecutive seasons, and he totaled thirty or more homers in six of those years. He was an eight-time All Star. His on-the-field performance was a major factor in seven pennants and two World Championships during his fourteen seasons with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was second in both home runs and runs batted in for the National League during the 1950s, was tenth on the all-time home run list at his retirement, and in third place among right-handed batters.

His career totals might have been even more impressive had he not spent three years in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines during World War II, where he earned the Bronze Star, which is awarded for acts of heroism or meritorious service in a combat zone.

Integrity, sportsmanship and character may be hard to quantify, but Hodges displayed these qualities in abundance. As both a player and manager, he won the universal respect of his teammates, the players he managed, opponents and fans. He was widely recognized as the only player never to be booed in Brooklyn. Hodges made his home in the heart of the community where he played and he was extremely generous with his time, showing a special dedication to youth. Jackie Robinson credited him as a key figure in easing his difficult role as the first African-American in the major leagues in the 20th century. As a first-time manager, Hodges dramatically improved the performance of the expansion Washington Senators. When he returned to New York as manager of the Mets, he brought 25 young men together as a unit that accomplished one of the most improbable and best remembered feats in baseball history: the 1969 World Series title.

His untimely death at age 47 in 1972 robbed baseball and its fans of many more years of his great skills and character. His reputation had endured and grown in the decades since that loss. He has earned one distinction his generations of admirers would dearly love to see become a historic footnote–accumulating more votes than any candidate not yet enshrined in the Hall. His achievements during the quarter-century he did spend in the game have richly earned him a place in baseball’s shrine.

Once more, Hodges boosters are hopeful that his time has finally come. Although whoever is chosen by the Golden Era Committee will be a member of the Hall’s class of 2015, the election and announcement will take place in December, so the campaigners have adopted a hashtag to help publicize their cause: #14in14.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Bill Hall. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Could Juan Lagares Become the Mets Version of Lorenzo Cain? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-could-juan-lagares-become-the-mets-version-of-lorenzo-cain.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-could-juan-lagares-become-the-mets-version-of-lorenzo-cain.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:42:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168957

An MMO Fan Shot by yfern328

Fresh off an ALCS MVP where he batted .533 (8 for 15) with two doubles, two walks, and a stolen base, Lorenzo Cain has catapulted himself from “that-guy-who-plays-baseball-for-the-Royals” to an oft mentioned name in the national spotlight of the World Series. In addition to his sound batting, Cain has not disappointed with the glove either as he’s played spectacularly in the outfield tracking down balls in the gaps while making highlight-reel catches. Simply put, watching Lorenzo Cain during this postseason has been a treat, and if anything, it affirms my belief that stars can be born with organizational patience and commitment. As a Mets fan, I couldn’t help but wonder how awesome it would be to have a player like Cain leading off for the Mets. And then suddenly it dawned on me—perhaps the Mets already have a similar breakout candidate on the roster? Maybe that player is Juan Lagares?

Considering that Cain broke out big time in 2014 with a line of .301/.339/.412, I figured that maybe Lagares had a shot to best his STEAMER projections for 2015 if he too could take a similar step forward. When I began comparing Lagares and Cain, the first thing I was drawn to was Cain’s 2013 season and Lagares’ in 2014.

In 2013, Lorenzo Cain posted a triple slash line of .251/.310/.348 along with a wRC+ of 80 in 115 games. In many ways, Lagares had a better season in 2014. Lagares posted a triple slash line of .281/.321/.382 with a wRC+ of 101 in 116 games. Going back just another year, I found that in 61 games in 2012, Cain posted a line of .266/.316/.419 which was slightly better, but roughly just as bad as the .242/.281/.352 line Lagares had in 2013 over 121 games. Looking at just the stats from the past couple of years, it was clear that Cain had a slight edge in his ability to get on base, so I wondered if Cain had that reputation in the minors as well.

Turns out that was true. When I compared the cumulative minor league stats of Cain and Lagares, I found that Cain had a .294/.366/.430 line over 728 games which was just a notch better than Lagares’ .281/.322/.403 in 633 games. The interesting thing to note however was that while Cain performed pretty well at all the levels he played in the minors, Lagares seemed to show improvement over time. For instance in all levels below A+, Cain posted a .311/.387/.446 line in 206 games while Lagares only had a .255/.297/.372 line in 327 games.

However, Lagares showed marked improvement in the minor leagues from A+ onwards as compared to Cain who continued to produce stats in a similar fashion—in 728 games Cain hit .294/.366/.430 as compared to Lagares’ line of .308/.347/.435 over 306 games. If we consider these numbers, Lagares and Cain actually have a lot in common. Considering that Lagares improved over the course of his minor league career to eventually be comparable to Cain at the high minor league levels, is it that unreasonable to believe that Lagares could continue to make improvements at the plate in 2015 like Cain did this past year? It’s certainly reasonable to speculate that with Lagares’ steady improvement over the years, maybe he starts to trend more towards the hitter he was in the high minor leagues moving forward.

Again comparing Cain’s 2013 to Lagares’ 2014, what can be noted is that the two had nearly identical strikeout rates (20.4% vs 19.2%) and isolated power (.098 vs .101) while posting the same line drive rates (21.9%).

While Lagares did have a slightly higher BABIP compared to Cain (.341 vs .309), overall Lagares’ numbers were slightly better as a whole, so even if his stats regressed a little bit, the point is that Cain still ended up breaking out in 2014 with slightly worse numbers in 2013. One thing to note is that Cain had a much higher walk rate in 2013 (7.5%) compared to Lagares in 2014 (4.4%). Oddly enough though, in Cain’s breakout year he ended posting a 4.8% walk rate, so maybe there is hope for Lagares after all.

Additionally on the base paths, Lagares compares quite favorably. In 2013 and 2014 Juan Lagares stole 6 and 13 bases respectively. In 2012 and 2013 Cain respectively stole 10 and 14 bases, and in his breakout season Cain managed to steal 28 bases.It’s not crazy to think that Lagares could be a mid-20’s steal candidate in 2014 considering the ability he showed late in 2014 when he was given the green light. In fact, Lagares was no slouch in the minors either. Over his minor league career Lagares managed to steal 100 bases compared to Cain who stole 140.

Lastly there’s defense: both players are quite adept defensively, but Lagares is arguably the best centerfielder in baseball. Among qualified players, Lagares was the only one in baseball to be in the top 5 in DRS, UZR, and UZR/150 besides Alex Gordon. So assuming his defensive value remains constant, I don’t think it’s too lofty to believe that Lagares can have the same impact as Cain next year if his bat improves. In 2014 Cain was a 4.9 fWAR player while Lagares was pretty good himself at 3.8 fWAR. But what exactly does Lagares need to work on?

To me the big thing that stuck out was Lagares’ performance versus RHP. In 2014 Lagares hit a whopping .349 against LHP but only .264 against righties. While he showed improvement from his 2013 numbers where he hit .241 against LHP and .243 against RHP, Lagares has got to improve against RHP to even out his splits.

In 2013 Lorenzo Cain hit .238 against LHP and .256 against RHP but drastically improved on those figures this year by hitting .313 against LHP and .297 against RHP. If Lagares could hit righties with more authority, there’s every reason to believe that he can post similar numbers to Cain considering he already hits southpaws better. Outside of June and July, Lagares had a pretty solid year, but he’s got to build on this past season to really break out.

What is encouraging is that Lagares had pretty even Home/Away splits, so I’d continue to hope that Lagares can be a consistent player for the Mets in 2015. Another thing I do like about Lagares is that he had slightly better numbers with men in scoring position this past year, and that has been a trademark for Cain this postseason. That said, Lagares has got to improve upon hitting off-speed pitches. With more exposure to the league, and with more experience, I think Juan can greatly improve in this facet of his game as well. Moving into 2015, if Lagares continues to make steady improvements, he could be a very valuable hitter at the top of the Mets lineup.

Overall, do I project Lagares to become the next Lorenzo Cain? No. But what I am saying is that it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to assume that Lagares can breakout like Cain did this past year. Currently STEAMER projects Lagares to hit .256/.298/.360 with a 2.6 fWAR in 2015. I think those figures are shockingly low. Lagares has the potential to put up that level of fWAR defensively alone. He’s a good bet to approach the 4.8 fWAR Cain posted this year, or at least get into 4.0 fWAR territory with some moderate improvement.

In closing, Lagares has always shown steady improvement at the minor league level, and has made adjustments while continually improving at the major league level as well. Everything points to a player that’s gaining experience and continuing to develop and evolve as time passes. Nothing would make me happier than to see Juan Lagares take that next step and become every bit as good as Lorenzo Cain – and that he can pull it off as soon as next season.  Let’s Go Mets.

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

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

An MMO Fan Shot by yfern328

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

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

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

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

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

This type of lineup would work for me:

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

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

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

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

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MMO Fan Shot: Cespedes Is The Answer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-cespedes-is-the-answer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-cespedes-is-the-answer.html/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 19:30:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167508

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

Since the trade of Carlos Beltran to the Giants, the Mets have noticeably been missing one key component from their lineup- the prototypical outfielder with a big bat. Omar Minaya admirably tried to give us Jason Bay but failed, and Sandy thought Granderson would work, but instead wound up with a serviceable six hitter. For the first time in what seems like a lifetime, this hitter is within reach, even with the payroll constraints we currently have. This man plays for the Boston Red Sox, and Sandy’s apprentice, Billy Beane, foolishly traded him away, jeopardizing his entire season in exchange for two months of Jon Lester. Yoenis Cespedes is the key to next season.

You watched him hit at Citi Field in the 2013 Home Run Derby, just like you watched him throw a runner out from 300 feet away earlier this season when he played for Oakland. If you put him in left you have a great arm and a great bat. Think of the baseball he and Lagares will chase after. Also, look at the two MLB teams he’s played for so far, the A’s and the Red Sox. Both clubs have employed Moneyball strategies like the Mets, but found space for a free-swinging home run hitter. There is no point in avoiding him simply based on organizational philosophy. In three full MLB seasons, Cespedes has averaged 24 homers and 87 RBI while missing 30+ games in his first two years. The man can hit!

Trading for Cespedes eliminates the need to spend money elsewhere or deplete the farm system with other trades. The Red Sox are looking for an established lefty starter, and we happen to have one in Jon Niese. If you put him with a solid prospect or two, (I’m not talking Syndergaard or Montero here), you can get Boston to agree to a deal, and hold on to all of the young pitching. Making this hypothetical trade stops the starting pitcher roadblock that would force the trade of Bartolo Colon or movement of Dillon Gee to the bullpen. Cespedes’ value is at an all time low based on his one remaining year on his contract. The Mets have a rare opportunity to seize an undervalued player, Sandy’s favorite, let’s hope that it is this one.

Cespedes watches as he wins 2014 Home Run Derby

Now we’ll get into the hot button issue, the money. Yoenis Cespedes is due 10.5 million dollars this season, after which he becomes a free agent. I’m not asking for a big time extension. I realize that won’t happen based on our crummy owners who would fund a mall over a baseball team, but I truly believe in my heart of hearts that they would shell out 10 and a half million for one year of Cespedes. If you think they’d sign off on a Cuddyer or J.J. Hardy, why wouldn’t they agree to Cespedes? After all, they threw away more than \$7 million on Chris Young. So yes, after 2015 he’ll walk away and get paid big money by the Yankees or whoever fails to sign Tomas this off-season, but that is OK. If he gets us into the playoffs, or god willing the World Series, it is a success! After 2015, Colon’s contract, Cespedes’ contract, and Daniel Murphy’s contract expire, leaving the Mets with 30 million to reallocate amongst whoever is available come that time. Who knows, maybe Nimmo and Conforto will be ready by that point. Plus you tender him a Qualifying Offer and bingo – an additional first round pick or another year of peak production.

All that is left for Sandy to do is call. Being the smart guy he is, yes I said smart, he has to realize that he may never have another chance to trade for a Cespedes type player at a time when he will be easy to steal away from the Red Sox and their heavily crowded outfield. Frank Cashen grabbed Gary Carter, just as Johnny Murphy grabbed Donn Clendenon, and Bob Scheffing acquired Rusty Staub. There was plenty of risk in those moves, but I’m sure most Met fans can agree that those three trades had to happen in order for the pennant and World Series winning teams of Met history to be so good. Every GM has that chance, and Sandy’s is now. Right your wrongs and go trade for Yoenis Cespedes, and watch an eager fan base flock to Citi Field, because that is how you fill a stadium, with exciting players, not with Huey Lewis and the News.

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

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MMO Fan Shot: A Hardy Handshake http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-a-hardy-handshake.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-a-hardy-handshake.html/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167298

An MMO Fan Shot by Logan Barer

This offseason is, as countless writers have pointed out, absolutely critical for the Mets and one of the most important in recent memory. Because that has been beaten to death by many in such great detail, I will not delve into why it is so important. However, I do want to put my two cents in as to what I believe the Mets must do this offseason. Hmm, two cents, that’s just about how much the Wilpons are seemingly allowing Alderson to spend.

Many Mets fans have talked about trading for Yoenis Cespedes, which I completely agree with. Others have talked about trading for Jose Bautista, which also would be nice, but I believe the price would probably be a bit prohibitive. When it comes down to it, the Mets need another power hitter, whether it be at shortstop or corner outfield.

There is someone entering the free agent market this offseason that, when healthy, is good for 25 home runs. He is also a two-time All-Star and has won two gold gloves. Still don’t know who I’m talking about? I’ll give you another hint; he’s currently helping the Baltimore Orioles knock off the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. I’m talking about none other than shortstop J.J. Hardy.

It is imperative that the Mets sign Hardy this offseason. Of course that is easier said than done. The Mets have the 15th pick in the 2015 draft, and because it’s not in the top 10, the pick is unprotected. That means if the Mets sign a Type-A free agent, meaning someone who was tendered a qualifying offer and turned it down, they will have to forfeit their first round draft pick.

The Orioles are in a tricky spot. Last season, qualifying offers were worth \$14.1 million dollars. Most likely, they will be higher this offseason, by how much we don’t know quite yet, but let’s assume it’s \$14.5 million. If the Orioles want to be compensated with a draft pick for losing Hardy to free agency, they will need to tender that offer. Here’s the catch: He has never earned more than \$7 million per season in his career. After a season in which his power numbers were down (9 HR) due to a back injury, Hardy would be sure to accept the offer for more than twice what he’s earning. The Orioles know that if they do end up wanting to re-sign him, they could probably sign him to a longer-term deal worth less annually off the free agent market. All this being noted, my guess is that the Orioles don’t tender a qualifying offer.

If this is the case, that is good news for the Amazins. Right now, our shortstop is Wilmer Flores. However, Ruben Tejada is due a raise, probably via arbitration, that has been estimated to be around \$2-3.5 million for next season. That is too much money to pay for a back-up shortstop, so all arrows point to the Mets non-tendering him this offseason. Wilmer Flores can play second base, so in a scenario where we trade Daniel Murphy he could shift back to second and leave shortstop open for Hardy to swoop in and do his gold glove thing.

The Mets organization has been quite ambiguous as to how much money the Mets will spend this offseason. Signing JJ Hardy to a deal, which sources estimate at 2-3 years worth \$8M per year, would require the Mets to free up some money if they intend on keeping the same payroll. With the plethora of starting pitching, it seems it would be wise to trade either Jonathan Niese or Bartolo Colon. Niese is younger and owed less money, and Colon is older and owed almost twice as much. It would be much easier to trade Niese, but the Mets will probably shop Colon more aggressively. If either of those pitchers were traded, however, it would free up money to sign Hardy.

Hardy is hardly the full solution. He is a power bat that we need, but we still need a corner outfielder. However, he would bolster our lineup immensely, not to mention how much improved the Mets defense would be by a two-time gold-glover. With Lagares out there in center field doing his best Willie Mays impression every game and David Wright with his two gold gloves at third, the Mets could start to field an extremely good defensive team. Sign a big name corner outfielder who plays good defense, say, Yoenis Cespedes’ arm, the Mets would be in business.

The Mets are in position to win some games. With what could become the best 1-5 starting rotation in the Show, the Mets need to make the necessary moves this offseason to win those 10-12 more games Sandy says he’d like to see. Of course, signing Hardy is easier said than done, but it is a huge step towards the Mets achieving their goals.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Logan Barer. 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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NL Wild Card Thread: Giants vs Pirates, 8:05 PM http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/nl-wild-card-thread-giants-vs-pirates-805-pm.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/nl-wild-card-thread-giants-vs-pirates-805-pm.html/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:30:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167087

San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 8:07 PM, ESPN

Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98) vs. Edinson Volquez (13-7, 3.04)

The National League Wild Card Game will be in Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year, with the Pirates set to host the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park. The Pirates and Giants met six times this year and the Bucs won four of those contests.

San Francisco Giants

1. Gregor Blanco CF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Buster Posey C
4. Pablo Sandoval 3B
5. Hunter Pence RF
6. Brandon Belt 1B
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Travis Ishikawa LF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Josh Harrison 3B
2. Jordy Mercer SS
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Russell Martin C
5. Starling Marte LF
6. Neil Walker 2B
7. Gaby Sanchez 1B
8. Travis Snider RF
9. Edinson Volquez P

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MMO Fan Appreciation Giveaways! Lagares, Davey, El Sid, Doctor K!!! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-appreciation-giveaways-lagares-davey-el-sid-doctor-k.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-appreciation-giveaways-lagares-davey-el-sid-doctor-k.html/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 09:56:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166838

Today we close out the greatest season we’ve ever had at Metsmerized and it’s all because of your unwavering support for what we do. You’ve made MMO the largest Mets community on the web with over 100,000 comments per month!

At MMO we are dedicated to bringing you the best and most diverse Mets content out there. We take no shortcuts and our average article is 750 words. We try to convey a fair and balanced stream of opinions that represent the entire Mets fanbase and not just a portion of it. Over 65% of our articles are unique and original content.

Today is about saying thank you to all of our Amazin’ Readers, Contributors, and Writers. A community like ours is only great because it’s comprised of knowledgeable and passionate Mets fans like you. This is our way of giving back to you.

In today’s MMO Game Thread, we’ll be giving away the following items all signed by some of your favorite Mets players. Our first round of giveaways were on Twitter where a dozen lucky Met fans won themselves some fantastic Mets memorabilia. But today, we reward the MMO Diehards – the fans who have grinded out all 162 games with us in our Amazin’ Game Threads!

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ll be dishing out throughout the game beginning at the bottom of the first inning!

I love you guys… Let’s have some fun today and Let’s Go Mets!

### Dwight Gooden Signed 1986 Street & Smith

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MMO Fan Shot: Time To Send Hodges To The Hall by http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-time-to-send-hodges-to-the-hall.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-time-to-send-hodges-to-the-hall.html/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:53:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166193

An MMO Fan Shot by Bill Hall

The woman who has earned the title First Lady of Brooklyn Baseball turns 88 late this month. The Brooklyn Cyclones honored Joan Hodges and her late husband Gil in grand style this year, handing out commemorative jerseys bearing Hodges’ name and his famous number 14, and adding a “Mrs. #14” banner to their row of honored numbers at MCU Park.

Probably the only thing that could make 2014 a happier year for Joan Hodges would be to see her fondest wish come true: the election of her late husband to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Gil Hodges becomes eligible for election again when the Golden Era Committee meets December 8. The slate of candidates will be announced right after this years’ World Series.

A group of dedicated fans is working to help Joan Hodges’ dream come true. They’ve coalesced around an online petition, supported by a Facebook page. As of this writing, the petition has attracted more than 1,600 signers. They include a dozen past and present major league players, as well as numerous prominent baseball writers, announcers, bloggers and historians, plus hundreds of fans who remember the former Dodger first baseman and Mets manager with affection and respect.

Sign the petition here.

Some of the luminaries who have added their names include “Boys of Summer” author Roger Kahn, New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Dave Anderson, former Dodgers General Manager Fred Claire and former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter.

Gil Hodges Jr. was at his mother’s side for the ceremonies at MCU Park, which also celebrated what would have been his father’s 90th birthday earlier in the year.

Hodges, an Indiana native, married Brooklyn native Joan Lombadi on December 26, 1948. They had four children together in their almost quarter-century of marriage, which ended with his sudden death on Easter Sunday, 1972.

She’s kept his cause alive in all the decades since. In 2002, a reporter visiting her at her Brooklyn home—the same one on Bedford Avenue she shared with her husband and four children–observed her offering a prayer for her husband’s selection:

“Joan Hodges holds fast to her rite of passage into the night, starting with rosaries and ending with a whispered act of contrition. She begs forgiveness from a husband who died 30 years back, a coal miner’s son from the heartland who would have never allowed his bride to hold a big-city vigil over some self-important cause.

“‘Please forgive me,’ Joan asks of Gil. ‘I just have to do this.’

“‘It’s the last thing in the world he’d want me doing,” Joan said. “But I feel a real injustice has been done.”

A dozen years have passed and still Joan Hodges waits.

Fans devoted to the Hodges share her sense of injustice. They point out that he received more votes than any other candidate not eventually elected by the baseball writers, and he’s come as close as a single vote to being elected through the veterans committee.

Many fans think he’s in the Hall already; some are indignant over his exclusion; but most are simply puzzled why this man, the dominant National League first baseman of the fifties, a key member of seven pennant winners and two world champions, a man who retired tenth on the all-time home run list, hasn’t received the call yet.

Some Hodges supporters try to take comfort in the fact that his exclusion from the Hall (like that of Pete Rose or Joe Jackson, though for very different reasons) actually has kept his name before the public in a way that wouldn’t happen if he already had his plaque. There was a raft of stories and discussion the last time he was on the ballot, in 2011. Many thought it would finally be his year. A candidate had to receive at least twelve votes from the sixteen member committee. Ron Santo was the single hopeful to be chosen that year; Hodges finished with nine votes.

Once more, Hodges boosters are hopeful that his time has finally come. Although whoever is chosen by the Golden Era Committee will be a member of the Hall’s class of 2015, the election and announcement will take place in December, so the campaigners have adopted a hashtag to help publicize their cause: #14in14.

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

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MMO Fan Shot: Was Flores’ Development Strategy Actually a Budgetary Strategy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-was-flores-development-strategy-actually-a-budgetary-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-was-flores-development-strategy-actually-a-budgetary-strategy.html/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:17:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166121

An MMO Fan Shot by Pedro’s Rooster

In Thursday’s New York Post, Sandy Alderson spoke of the organization’s feelings about Wilmer Flores, presumably as part of the team’s future.

“We’re getting a lot more comfortable,” Alderson said. “One of the reasons for giving Flores as much playing time as we have is to build up his number of plate appearances to get him more comfortable to try to establish sort of a baseline.”

After breaking this statement down, I had several questions.

• Why congratulate yourself for finally getting around to playing your organizations’ top hitting prospect, especially one with such a strong minor-league resume?
• Why are you in a position in late September to “try” to establish “sort of” a baseline? Couldn’t you have started this evaluation in early May and known for sure by now?

On the surface, this sounds like an obvious mismanagement of a player’s development and the team’s needs. But I don’t believe Sandy Alderson (and the rest of the front office) would botch something this simple and straightforward, especially given that we’re clearly in the middle of a youth movement.

What’s the alternative, you ask? Well, put on your tinfoil hats:

I’m beginning to think Flores was intentionally brought along this way, to hedge against the risk of having to spend on a shortstop this offseason.

You see, if they stayed with Tejada all year, the front office would absolutely be on the hook for upgrading the position this winter—I don’t think anyone internally views him as a full-time option. And while they may have reaped rewards from installing Flores as the everyday SS in May or June, there was obviously a risk that he’d struggle. (And to be fair, he didn’t set the world on fire when he received spotty playing time earlier this season.) And if he struggled, they’d again be on the hook for upgrading.

But (and this is a big conspiracy theory “but”) if they start playing him every day starting in August, they can go into the offseason with a nice, cost-effective question mark. They can claim they don’t have enough information to make a decision on shortstop—they can plausibly say, “we’d like to see more of Wilmer next season, to see what we really have there.” And Mets fans will eat that up.

They’ll forgive a GM who’s willing to give a homegrown prospect a longer leash. Heck, he might be that next great hitting star we’ve been waiting for since Wright came up in 2004.

Nothing Sandy Alderson does is accidental or poorly considered. Wilmer Flores is likely a convenient money-saving device for Alderson and the Wilpons, much like the Ike Davis-Lucas Duda controversy was.

With payroll flat-lining in the \$80-90M range, with countless impact free agents ignored by this front office, with approximately \$20M in raises due this offseason, with 40% of the payroll tied up in Wright and Granderson, make no mistake: every single decision made by this front office is first and foremost a financial decision, not a baseball decision.

In a perfect world, Flores will deliver on his potential, and make Alderson look like a genius. But even if he doesn’t, his league-minimum salary will quietly save ownership precious millions in their race for financial solvency.

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

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MMO Fan Shot: A Modest Proposal for Emotion in Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-a-modest-proposal-for-emotion-in-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-a-modest-proposal-for-emotion-in-baseball.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:45:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165828

An MMO Fan Shot by Gregory Shaw

Baseball has a problem. For over one hundred years, baseball has been played with four bases, nine fielders and zero emotion. So, when you look at the current crop of miscreants like Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz, Jose Reyes and our very own Jenrry Mejia, things get confusing. What the hell are they doing?

I’m no art major and I don’t think I’ll ever appreciate or understand interpretive dance, so bare with me here. It seems to me that when Ortiz flips his bat after hitting a monstrous home run, or that when Reyes shines an imaginary spotlight on himself after stealing a base, these players may be desperately seeking attention. It could be that they’ve come from troubled homes or unfortunate circumstances in their childhoods. Maybe their mothers hugged them too tightly or not enough. Don’t they realize that baseball is a traditional team game that’s played a certain way and will never change for all eternity?

Maybe these players, young and old, have skipped their required reading of baseball’s unwritten rule book. There’s no doubt that Puig has zero respect for the game’s records anyway, as he looked to break DiMaggio’s feat of twenty-seven hits in his first fifteen games – good for a .434 average. Mejia certainly doesn’t care about the Mets’ annals, being that he set the team’s rookie saves record this season. So why then should we expect them to care if they’re shattering the hopes and dreams of true-blooded-put-your-head-down-and-run-the-bases fans everywhere?

I have a proposal. All of the three hundred seventeen new fans that baseball draws every year should not have to be subjected to these raw shows of emotion. I believe that if we remove players that violate the generally agreed-upon moral code of baseball, MLB will attract double – maybe even triple the current figure. We may see a rise to one thousand new fans a year. What other sport can boast a three hundred percent increase in its fanbase by making one simple change?

These moves will also help teams’ rosters. By removing these trouble-making players, there will be free roster spots for younger, cost-effective players. Those removed will have their contracts voided and stricken from all forms of their respective teams’ documents and history. It will be as though they never existed. Teams will offer promotions whereby any merchandise or memorabilia of said players will be thrown into enormous bonfires – correctly controlled and regulated to make sure that the flames do not get too high or too hot, so that nobody will be made uncomfortable by their flashiness.

Baseball’s problem of league-wide player antics needs to be addressed and solved. The spirit of the game has been deteriorating for quite a while. Every time a player claps his hands or points to his teammates in his dugout, another piece of our national pastime crumbles.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and die-hard Met fan Gregory Shaw. 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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