Mets Merized Online Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2015 Mets All-Prospect Team Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 brandon nimmo

The Mets farm system is one of the best in baseball (No. 4 according to Law) and is finally starting to produce some talented position players to go with all that young pitching that has rival teams green with envy.

The last two weeks have been filled with some glowing prospect chatter stemming from Baseball Prospectus’ top prospect rankings, to releasing their top players at each position, and most recently Keith Law rolling out his own top prospects.

In keeping with that trend and using some of the knowledge we’ve gleaned from all these prospect experts and scouts, I wondered what a Mets All-Prospect Team would look like. To make this exercise even more interesting, I decided to include what our depth looks like at each position. I used three starting pitchers and one reliever for my team. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve come up with.

New York Mets Prospects Depth Chart – 2015
C Kevin Plawecki Xorge Carrillo Brandon Brosher Ali Sanchez
1B Dom Smith Jayce Boyd Dash Winningham Matt Oberste
2B Dilson Herrera Wilfredo Tovar L.J. Mazzili Danny Muno/TJ Rivera
3B Jhoan Urena Dustin Lawley Jeff McNeil Eudor Garcia
SS Amed Rosario Gavin Cecchini Matt Reynolds Milton Ramos
LF Michael Conforto Vicente Lupo Jared King Travis Taijeron
CF Champ Stuart Ivan Wilson Darrell Ceciliani Kyle Johnson
RF Brandon Nimmo Cesar Puello Wuilmer Becerra Victor Cruzado
SP Noah Syndergaard Steven Matz Marcus Molina Rafael Montero
SP Gabriel Ynoa Cory Mazzoni Casey Meisner Michael Fulmer
SP Robert Whalen Matt Bowman Miller Diaz Blake Taylor
RP Akeel Morris Jack Leathersich Hansel Robles Erik Goeddel/Dario Alvarez

The first string of Mets prospects is very good and could go up against some of the best farm systems like the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins. Other than starting pitching the deepest position is probably SS which is ironic considering most believe we still need one at the Major League level. Catching is pretty weak after Plawecki, but either him or TDA will be the Mets starter for a long time making that moot.

Third base looks a little weak too but if healthy I think Wright has another 4-5 productive seasons left in him. Bullpen depth doesn’t jump out at you either but not all the SP arms can stay there ala Montero last year. Maybe the most impressive part of this chart is just how many electric arms the Mets have and I still didn’t have room for guys like John Gant, Corey Oswalt, Rainy Lara, Robert Gsellman, Domingo Tapia, Paul Sewald, etc.

For fun here is the lineup I would put out from my All-Prospect Team:

  1. Champ Stuart, CF
  2. Brandon Nimmo, RF
  3. Kevin Plawecki, C
  4. Michael Conforto, LF
  5. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  6. Dominic Smith, 1B
  7. Amed Rosario, SS
  8. Jhoan Urena, 3B
  9. Noah Syndergaard, RHP


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Have Mets Lost Ground to Marlins, Cubs, Padres for NL Wild Card? Sun, 01 Feb 2015 11:43:32 +0000 terry collins

With pitchers and catchers reporting in 18 days, Mike Puma of the New York Post points out there is little buzz about the Mets nationally and that they may have lost ground to other NL teams in their relatively idle offseason.

With the Cubs, Marlins, and Padres clearly making big strides going from pretenders to contenders, he wonders whether the Mets attacked this offseason with the same urgency to try and compete for a wild card after a sixth straight losing season.

“Activity shouldn’t be confused with achievement, but Mets fans hungry for a contender probably deserved better.”

The person who should be most concerned about this Mets offseason, which began and ended on November 5th when they signed Michael Cuddyer, is manager Terry Collins.

With all the high expectations and rampant talk from players about October baseball, he is clearly on the firing line and becomes the perfect fall guy and scapegoat if things go wrong.

“Though the Mets have holes, most notably at shortstop, Collins is expected to keep this crew in contention for the entire season. So if the Mets are sitting seven or eight games below .500 on Memorial Day, Collins could be a goner.”

Puma also goes on to break down the National League offseason as it relates to the Mets heading into spring training. It’s an interesting article.


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Ranking the NL East Left Fielders Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:15:44 +0000 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals

1. Jayson Werth (Nationals) – While the depth chart on the official MLB website is still listing Bryce Harper as the left fielder, the Nationals have announced that Werth and Harper are swapping corner outfield spots. Even though Werth underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery on January 9th and he may not be ready for Opening Day, he’s the top dog in LF upon his return. Over the last 7 seasons, Werth has averaged 22 HR, 72 RBI, 80 runs scored, 28 doubles, and 70 walks while putting up a slash line of .281/.375/.480. The numbers would be even better if not for an injury plagued 2012 season in which he appeared in only 81 games. The Caveman will be turning 36 this season, and while he’s getting long in the tooth, he’s shown no signs of slowing down.

2. Christian Yelich (Marlins) – He’s young, having just turned 23 this offseason. The Marlins’ first round pick in the 2010 draft put together an impressive first full season in the big leagues in 2014. Yelich appeared in 144 games and scored 94 runs while collecting 30 doubles, 70 walks, and 21 stolen bases, while batting .284 with a .362 OBP. And if all that wasn’t enough, he won a Gold Glove too. Yelich has a lot of upside and is part of a young and very talented Marlins outfield.

3. Curtis Granderson (Mets) – The Grandy Man switches corner spots and is slotted as the Mets left fielder for 2015. Granderson had his ups and downs in 2015, but by the time all was said and done, his final stat line was pretty much what we were expecting. He was durable, appearing in 155 games. He batted just .227, walked a bunch, and struck out a lot. His power numbers were down, hitting only 20 home runs, 27 doubles and only 66 RBI, as he was bounced around the order, including a chunk of time in the leadoff spot. He was also streaky, hitting just .136 in April and .147 in August while hitting .300 in June and .299 in Sept/October. He needs to improve those numbers for the Mets to contend in 2015, and Sandy Alderson pulled all the stops by reuniting him with hitting coach Kevin Long, and shortening the fences in his power zone.

4. Domonic Brown (Phillies) – Brown is one of those former top prospects that everyone expected so much from, but never lived up to those expectations. He was the player I was hoping the Mets would be able to flip Carlos Beltran for in 2011. He had a great first half of the 2013 season where he hit .281 with 21 HR and 62 RBI that earned him an All-Star berth, but has been nothing spectacular before or since. He’s entering his age 27 season, so there’s still time to put it together, but for now he’s looking like one of those prospects that never lived up to that dreaded “potential”.

5. Zoilo Almonte (Braves) – Almonte is currently sitting atop the Braves depth chart in left field after the trade of Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros. The Dominican born outfielder signed with the Braves as a free agent this offseason after appearing in parts of the last two seasons for the New York Yankees, compiling a slash line of .211/.242/.282 in 47 MLB games. He’s also played in 745 games over 9 minor league seasons, collecting 755 hits in 745 minor league games while batting .268 with 94 HR including 18 last year at AAA Scranton and a career high 21 in 2011 for AA Trenton. He’ll be 25 on Opening Day and his pop will get him a look for the time being. Whether he remains the regular left fielder remains to be seen. For now, he’s #5 in the NLE and holding up the rear.

Previous Editions

NL East First Basemen

NL East Second Basemen

NL East Shortstops

NL East Third Basemen

NL East Left Fielders

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Syndergaard Among Five Mets Prospects In MLB Top 100 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:00:43 +0000 noah syndergaard - las vegas 51s

RHP Noah Syndergaard has been ranked by as the third best pitching prospect in baseball for 2015.

“Even though he was pitching at home in hitting-friendly Las Vegas, Syndergaard still managed to lead the organization in strikeouts in 2014,” said MLB Network’s Jonathan Mayo.

“The two-time Futures Gamer is knocking on the door with his combination of stuff and command, a fastball that can get up to 98 mph, a curve and a changeup, all of which are above-average offerings. His 3.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career thus far speaks volumes about what he’s capable of.”

The Top 100 Prospects is put together by prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis and they base it mostly on input from league wide scouts and scouting directors.

MLB released their Top 100 on MLB Network last night, ranking Syndergaard No. 10 overall. Four other Mets prospects made the cut including C Kevin Plawecki (No. 63), LHP Steven Matz (No. 66), OF Brandon Nimmo (No. 72) and OF Michael Conforto (No. 82).

Congrats to all of them.

Syndergaard is expected to begin the season in Triple-A where he’ll be the ace of a Las Vegas rotation that will also feature fellow Top 100 prospect Steve Matz, Rafael Montero, and Cory Mazzoni.

(Updated 1/31)


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DePodesta Discusses Improved System, Top Prospects, Draft Strategy Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:13:28 +0000 paul-depodesta

Mike Vorkunov ( recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

* * * * * * * *

As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.


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Yoan Moncada Cleared To Sign With Any MLB Team Sat, 31 Jan 2015 05:58:26 +0000 yoan moncada

Jesse Sanchez of is reporting that the agent for Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, received the necessary notification from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Friday night stating that his player is now an unblocked national.

In other words, this now clears the way for Moncada to sign with any MLB team of his choosing.

Sanchez also adds that Moncada, 19, has worked out privately for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays and Brewers, and that the Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals have also shown interest.

January 28

Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is close to being cleared to sign with an MLB team according to reports from Baseball America and Yahoo Sports. He continues to conduct private workouts for several interested teams.

The Dodgers and Yankees held a private workout for Moncada this past week and several industry sources say both of them are frontrunners to sign Moncada.

Baseball America said the 19-year-old switch-hitter would immediately become one of the game’s top prospects as soon as he signs with a team.

According to what team sources told reporter Anthony DiComo of, the Mets have done their due diligence on Moncada, but do not view him as a realistic option given their budget and financial constraints.

Top talent evaluator Ben Badler of Baseball America recently said that the Cuban infielder is a dynamic player with premium bat speed, an enticing combination of power and speed along with a strong track record of hitting.

He also added that while all 30 MLB teams would undoubtedly love to have Moncada, his high price tag ($30 million bonus plus $30 million tax) limits his signability to big market teams like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

“That’s why you can comfortably count out teams such as the Indians, Twins, Royals, Pirates, Athletics and Mets when it comes to handicapping the Moncada sweepstakes.”

Moncada, who has abundant speed and power, has been compared favorably to Dodgers star Yasiel Puig.

While discussing international free agency at the Winter Meetings, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that while the Mets had been mostly bystanders in foreign markets over the years, that was going to soon change.

“We haven’t been in that category,” he said. “I expect we will be in that category, soon.”

Many took that to believe that the Mets would be players for Korean shortstop Jeong-ho Kang and five-tool prospect Moncada.

Alderson also told reporters the Mets were considering a bid on Kang and that they were very interested, but a month later on the eve of the bidding deadline he announced the Mets were out.

A day later the Pittsburgh Pirates won the rights to Kang and ultimately signed the 27-year-old infielder to an $11 million, four-year contract on Friday.

Reports have suggested that Moncada will likely receive a signing bonus in excess of $30 million and in addition to that there will be a 100 percent penalty for any team who signs him.

Besides the Yankees, the San Francisco Giants also worked out Moncada last week. The Phillies. Dodgers, Rangers and Cubs are also very interested and held private workouts previously.

There have been no reports linking Moncada to the Mets.

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Rockies Acquire RHP David Hale, Market For Dillon Gee Diminishing Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:44:25 +0000 dillon gee

The Denver Post reports the Colorado Rockies have acquired right-handers David Hale and Gus Schlosser from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor-league catchers Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd.

“Hale, 27, is the key to the trade and could compete for a spot in the starting rotation. He spent the 2014 season on the Braves’ roster, posting a 4-5 record with a 3.30 ERA. He struck out 44 and walked 39 in 45 games, including six starts.”

The right-hander from Marietta, Ga. played for Princeton and was selected by Atlanta in the third round of the 2009 draft. Hale was rated the Braves’ seventh-best prospect prior to the 2014 season.

This pretty much eliminates any chance that the Rockies will deal for Dillon Gee. Another potential trade partner – in an offseason that began with a dozen of them – bites the dust.

On Monday, a team source told Anthony DiComo that the Mets have nothing in the works and are nowhere close to trading Gee or any of their other excess starters.

I seriously don’t see who else is left out there for Gee or even Niese and Colon for that matter.

January 26

Buster Olney of ESPN says the Padres and Marlins appear to be the best fits for free agent James Shields because they’re both ready to be playoff contenders, and he would be a difference-maker both in leadership and performance. The market for starting pitching appears to be at a standstill until Shields lands somewhere.

While the Mets continue to wait out the market for Dillon Gee, the Milwaukee Brewers may not be a trade partner for much longer. Speaking to fans at the Brewers Fanfest Sunday, team owner Mark Attanasio told fans to expect at least one more significant addition. GM Doug Melvin then told the crowd he’s focused on bolstering the bullpen more so than adding a starter. Reports say Jonathan Papelbon is still in play, and a reunion with Francisco Rodriguez, who saved 44 games for the Brewers last year, remains a strong possibility.

I wonder why the Houston Astros are never mentioned as a potential landing spot for Gee. They are still looking to add a starting pitcher reports Brian McTaggart of, and they almost landed free agent  Ryan Vogelsong before he opted to re-sign with the Giants according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

At this point and with spring training only three weeks away, there’s a good chance Gee reports to camp and works out with the team while the Mets continue to wait for a deal to materialize.

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Alderson Ranked 12th Best GM Ever Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:51:53 +0000 Sandy-Alderson-New-York-Mets1

According to Mark L. Armour and Daniel R. Levitt, authors of the new book Pursuit of Pennants: Baseball Operations from Deadball to Moneyball, Sandy Alderson is the 12th-best General Manager in baseball history.

“He was the first modern GM to actively introduce analytics, though rudimentary by current standards, into a team’s decision making, and he was the first young executive of the modern era hired to run a major league team’s baseball operations without coming from a baseball background.”

Alderson has had 5 winning seasons in 19 as a GM. All of them came in one five year run in Oakland. He has since had  9 consecutive losing seasons and his lifetime record as a GM is 1,504 – 1,508.

I’d bet Sandy would be the first to tell you he relied mostly on his advisers during that one period of success. He is being miscast by these authors who are really lauding him as an innovator and not as a GM that boasts a historic record of success.

But ironically, his innovative use of advanced metrics wasn’t what drove that one run of winning baseball. It was a Top 5 payroll ,and some would also add the 4-5  MVP caliber players that were rampant steroid users, that led to that success. Not sure if that’s totally valid, but it’s certainly in the mainstream so I mention it.

The advanced metrics and their impact, didn’t really kick in until his assistant and protege Billy Beane took over as general manager after new ownership slashed payroll to a bottom 5 level and Alderson resigned.

After some strong consideration, I think what these authors should have called this list is The Most Influential GMs In Baseball History, and if they did, I’d argue Alderson should be in the top five. But if by best you mean a great record of success, I’m not sure Alderson should be ranked this high.

However, if he brings a championship to the Mets under these current conditions, I’ll call him the best ever.


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MMO Exclusive: Interview with ESPN’s Keith Law Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:00:47 +0000 Screenshot_2015-01-29-21-44-47

On Thursday morning, I had the chance to conduct an interview over the phone with ESPN senior baseball analyst Keith Law, who is also the lead baseball analyst for ESPN’s Scouts.Inc and the former assistant to the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Keith, who ranked the Mets as having the fourth best farm system in the MLB before our interview and named six Mets in his Top 100 prospects article shortly after our interview, was kind enough to take several questions. Check out what we discussed, including the prospects, trades, the shortstop situation, the money, the upcoming season, and, of course, the future!

Tommy Rothman, MetsMerized Online: Hey Keith. So first of all, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.

Keith Law, ESPN: No problem, happy to do it.

Rothman: I guess we’ll start with your farm system rankings, the Mets are ranked number 4. When you rank farm systems, how deep does it go? Because obviously we all know about Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, et cetera, but are you just ranking teams on their top guys? How deep do you go into the system when you do these rankings?

Law: What I do for each team— and this will be up on Friday— I do team reports where I do at least 10 prospects per team, but I’ll keep going through the team, maybe as many as 20 guys depending on the system. I go as far as I believe that there are players with potential Major League value. In the Mets’ case, it’s pretty deep. There’s probably 17 or 18 guys there who I think have a legitimate shot at some kind of Major League role. Not necessarily all starters, but there’s something there. To put in other words, you could see it as asset value… you could take a lot of these guys and trade them for something.

michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

Rothman: So next let’s talk about the history of the Mets in your rankings. You did your first rankings in 2008, the Mets were 28th. 2009 they’re 17th, and you’re excited about Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte and Brad Holt. 2010, the last year of Minaya, we’re at 15, and you criticize their penny-pinching in the draft but praise their work in the international market. Sandy takes over heading into the 2011 season and starts off with a system you rank as 26th, again bashing the Wilpons for not spending in the draft. The next year Sandy gets us to 22nd, of course we know about the Beltran trade. Then the Dickey trade, and we’re 14th. 2014, we’re 6th. Now here we are, and we’re 4th despite not having many very high draft picks (unlike teams like the Cubs and Nationals). We know about the trades, but other than that, what has been responsible for the rebirth of the Mets system on a deeper level?

Law:  I just think they’re drafting better. They’re drafting a lot better. You had the one year with (scouting director) Chad McDoland, now Tommy Tanous has taken over, he’s had a couple of drafts, and I just think they’ve drafted a lot smarter, especially towards the top. We’ll see if some of the later picks work, they’ve had some later picks that were interesting, those often take a little longer to percolate and show that there’s real value. But I think that they’ve clicked on most of their high picks the last few years. I really loved the Conforto pick (in 2014), I think they got the best pure hitter in the draft class. And that’s the kind of player they just didn’t seem to be taking previously. It’s hard for me to really characterize what the draft strategy was under (Omar Minaya’s) regime because I never really got it (laughs), I never understood it. Now, they’re doing a better job of just saying “who’s the best player on the board? We’ll take that guy.” They’re not trying to trick anybody, or trick themselves. Conforto was the best player on the board, they didn’t even think he’d be available for their pick, so they took him. That’s the way you should approach the first round. And then you look at the results of the last couple of drafts so far, it’s a nice mix of college and high school, upside and probability, that’s what you want to be getting out of your drafts… they’ve done a much, much better job with that.

Rothman: As you see in the rankings, there are some really good teams at the bottom, like the Giants and Tigers, and as you explain it’s because they use what they have. But the teams at the top aren’t that bad, the Cubs could be good this year, the Red Sox could be great. So having a good MLB team and a good farm system aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. And the Mets have made it clear that they’re not going to gut the system and just “go for it” now, despite the angry fans and the billboards, they’ve made it clear that they’re not going to spend Yankee money, or Dodger money, or Pre-Ponzi Met money. So how do the Mets plan on taking this #4 farm system, a 79 win team, all the still-improving guys already on the Major League roster, and other boosts like Wright being healthy, and using the opportunity they now have to build a serious contender?

Law: Right. Well I think what they’re going to have to do at some point is trade some of this pitching depth for a bat. I love Conforto but it’s not like he’s going to help them this year. He alone, is not the guy who’s going to save the offense. They’re going to have to acknowledge that Wright is getting older, and that they’re probably going to need some beef-up somewhere in the lineup. First base, right field, it doesn’t have to come from a specific spot, but they don’t really have— other than Conforto— that guy. I almost said “shortstop,” but Amed Rosario I think is going to be a star, it’s just he’s a tick further away. So you don’t want to go out and necessarily get the guy who’s going to block him for the next six years, but you probably want to get a guy for the next three years, until he arrives. And that’s something I think they could do with all this pitching depth.

Rothman: But at the same time, if some great shortstop comes along, I don’t think they’d pass him up and say “no thanks, we have Amed Rosario.”

Law: No, of course. If someone’s gonna call and offer you the all-world shortstop… you know the problem is– I’ve always been a Troy Tulowitzki fan (note: Keith mentioned Tulo first, not me!), you don’t want him for the next eight years, though. You want him for the next three.

jacob degrom

Rothman: Yeah. Another concern people have is, they have young guys like Harvey and deGrom and Wheeler and d’Arnaud and even Duda, but those guys will eventually be due for some real money, some sooner than others. So when the money gets serious, and it comes time to pay these guys, do you think they can and will do it? Or do you think they’ll be like the Rays and the Athletics, and start selling these guys off the moment money starts to be a real factor.

Law: I don’t think… they’re not in Rays and A’s territory where they’re just gonna have to move everybody. But my guess is, they’re not gonna keep them all. Some of those guys will get towards second or third-year arbitration and they’ll get up towards $10 million a year, and the Mets will decide to pass on some of them. You know that said, they kept Murphy who I thought they would deal because, why pay him $8 million dollars? That was kind of my guess talking to people in the industry. It’s a lot of money for a not-great player when you have Dilson Herrera, who probably could benefit from a little more time in the minors, but he could play 2nd base every day if you wanted him to.

Rothman: And at the same time, if they don’t want to keep them all, if they look at it and say, for example, “OK Wheeler’s the guy we’re not going to pay,” some of those guys have real trade value if they don’t want to hand out an extension.

Law: Oh yes, yes, absolutely. If you’re willing to trade a good young pitcher, going into his first or second year of arbitration, you’re going to get a lot. That could be a situation where they go and get “that guy,” the Addison Russell-type prospect in return, the high-upside hitting prospect who’s not that far off. Or maybe even you get the Wil Myers type. That’s a guy you never expect… if we had talked 3 months ago you’d say “he never gets traded” and now he has been. Things that we always assumed to be true are changing very quickly, I think because of the changing financial landscape in the sport.

wilmer flores dilson herrera

Rothman: So talking about a specific guy… Wilmer Flores. A lot of people say the Mets botched their shortstop hunt, and well I guess you HAVE to say they did because they didn’t get a shortstop.

Law (laughing): You come home without a deer, then you did not have a good day.

Rothman: What’s debatable is whether they have a real problem or not, some people like Flores. He’s been around forever, he’s been on your radar since 2009, but he’s still young, he’s hit in the minors… so what do you think about Flores, and what do you think the METS think about him. Do they think he can be the answer, or are they putting on a poker face while they scramble to replace him?

Law: I think he can hit. I don’t think he can play short, I never even thought he was very good at third. I think there’s a real good chance he ends up at another corner, and my question then is whether the bat’s going to profile enough to warrant playing him every day, if he’s in left field or at first base. Again, I think he can hit, I think he’s got good hand-eye, I think his swing works, he’s gonna make a fair amount of contact, but it really hasn’t developed into any kind of power. He’s not very quick, not very athletic, but his feet… I’m very, very surprised that a team that’s clearly aware of defensive metrics would even TRY him at shortstop. I mean really, what are you expecting, running this guy out at short. So no matter what they say publicly, my guess is privately, we don’t wanna go out and spend on a shortstop, we don’t wanna trade the pitching depth yet, and this is the best of the internal options, none of which are good. I like Dilson Herrera a lot and I think he’ll be a good 2nd baseman. I wouldn’t put him at short either, he wasn’t good there. So unless you want another 150 games of Ruben Tejada, you know, you can’t put a pointed stake out there, somebody has to play.

daniel murphy

Rothman: And it’s tough because you also have Murphy out there, it’s not like you have a gold-glove 2nd baseman covering up for him.

Law: No, there’s gonna be a lot of ground balls, not even just up the middle, but sort of on a whole 90-degree swing on either side of the base.

Rothman: So when it comes to making moves, the Mets have been sellers at the deadline since, well probably since Luis Castillo. Is this the year that you think they have to be buyers, and how serious do you think the buying could be? Could you see them pursuing a trade for a real game-changing player around July, somebody like a Tulo, or would it be like a 2nd-tier star or even less?

Law: I think that everything they’ve done and said so far indicates that they’re not going to do that. They’re not going to trade a bunch of the young guys to get a veteran, to get an established, older Major League player. I think if the opportunity came up to get the Myers type, the young player who’s in his peak years or they’re still ahead of him, where the money hasn’t gotten big yet, I think that they would do something like that. So they’re opportunistic, but not in a mode where they’re going to say, “yes, we’re going to go get that guy.” And I think part of it is, they’re not likely to win the division. They’re going to have a respectable team this year, but how many games would you say there are on paper right now between them and the Nationals?

Rothman: A lot.

Law: Yeah, and I mean it’s too much for me to say that they’re going to go into the season and plan to be buyers. Obviously they could beat expectations, and something could go wrong with the Nationals, but right now just looking at the clubs, as they’re constituted now, I’d have a very hard time anticipating being flat-out buyers, willing to trade a Steven Matz and something else, to go get the older player in July.

Rothman: And maybe they’ll find themselves within a game or two of the Nats in July, but with the new wild-card format, where you only get one game in the playoffs unless you win the division, it’s tough to justify “going for it.”

Law: I totally agree. It’s foolish when teams do that, because if you look at the number of teams that treat themselves as contenders, and the number of teams that can actually make that wild-card, it doesn’t really add up.

dominic smith

Rothman: So going back into the farm system, we know about the top guys like Noah, Matz, Plawecki, Nimmo and such, you mentioned that you think Rosario can be a difference-maker, how about some other guys who are farther away, like Dom Smith, how long would it take him to get to Flushing?

Law: Those guys are in my top 10 for them, I still love Dominic Smith, I understand he only hit one home run for them, Savannah has turned out to be a brutal place for left-handed power hitters. I loved him in high school, and I talked to people about him. He really worked on just going the other way, recognizing he’s not going to be able to pull the ball out, so why not focus on making a whole lot of contact, and really using the whole field, particularly going to the opposite field. Which is a great thing for a young hitter to do, it’s just not going to produce a pretty stat line. So if you’re just going to scout the stat line, you’re going to think he’s terrible, a first baseman with one home run. I believe he’s got plus-plus raw power, at some point I think it’s going to surface, you’ll probably see more of it this year in St Lucie, even more the next year in Binghamton once he gets out of those pitcher’s parks. But I do believe that their best chance for a first baseman of the future is currently in the organization.

Rothman: And Gavin Cecchini, is he still a prospect or can we look past him at this point?

Law: Cecchini, well, the issue is, Rosario’s just a better prospect. Rosario’s a star, he’s in my top 100. Cecchini, he’ll play for somebody because he can play shorstop (in the field). He’s not a lock to be an average regular, there are still a lot of variants as to how he turns out. At some point, the Mets will have to make decisions that will probably end up favoring Rosario over Cecchini, because Rosario has a chance to move very quickly through the system due to his bat. Not even because he has such an advanced approach, he’s just so… he’s just so freakishly talented. I have a feeling they’re going to have to push him a put more quickly through the system to get him to the point where he’s appropriately challenged by pitching.

Rothman: So Rosario’s ETA…

Law: I’d say three years. He was in short-season ball all summer, he’ll go to Savannah and hit one home run because that’s how it works (laughs). Well, he’s right-handed so maybe he’ll hit more, but it’s funny, he doesn’t just have pull power, he has power all the way out to right-center, where in Savannah it’s a double to the wall at best. That’s going to be frustrating for him. Going through the four levels of the minors, I could see him doing it in three years, maybe two-and-a-half if he’s just as gifted as I believe he is. The swing, bat speed, it’s all there, it’s just a matter of pitch recognition, ball-strike recognition… he doesn’t have a lot of pro at-bats yet. It’s not really that I know he needs it, it’s just that, I couldn’t tell you exactly how advanced that approach is.

yoan moncada

Rothman: So with International free agency… the Mets used to be pretty good with that, like you said. But they sat on the sidelines for Tanaka and this latest Cuban wave. One of the Wilpons said they would have signed José Abreu if he had been an outfielder, which annoyed people. It was even more annoying when they passed on Yasmani Tomás, who IS an outfielder! And the biggest hole is shortstop, but it looks like they have absolutely no interest in being in the discussion for Yoan Moncada, who might sign a $30 million deal that really costs $60 million because of the double penalty. And it looks like he could very well end up with the Yankees, which kind of makes it worse.

Law: Of course.

Rothman: So this is the cheapest way both in terms of money and assets. You’re not trading the farm or giving away a ton of money to get an aging shortstop, you’re getting a pretty cheap young guy. But the Mets aren’t gonna do it. So first of all, do you agree with that consensus, that the Mets aren’t going to be in the discussion for him? And second of all, for the people who are saying “if they don’t get involved here, they’ll never get involved in international free agency,” because this is the time to do it… do you agree with that thinking?

Law: I don’t know if I could tell you whether they’ll never get involved in that market, sure I’d like to see them more aggressive in this market, but Moncada is not a Major League shortstop right now, and frankly everybody I’ve talked to who’s seen him live— I have not seen him live yet— does NOT see him as a shortstop, they think he’s gonna be way too big for it. So you can be upset as a Mets fan that they’re not more aggressively involved, and you wonder how much of that is due to the fact that they’re a team that just does not pay any sort of penalties ever. That’s the Wilpons, their kind of tacit agreement with Selig, that they would follow all his rules and not go into the penalty in the draft and international or anything. They follow Bud’s dictates. Now Bud’s not there anymore, and I don’t know if that’ll change, but that’s been their practice. And you can be upset that they’re not involved in Moncada because he’s extremely talented… but he’s not a shortstop, I don’t think he’s anybody’s solution at shortstop. You go after him because he’s got a chance to be an elite hitter, certainly a high-end prospect. From everyone I’ve talked to, it’s most likely third base.

curtis granderson

Rothman: You mentioned the Wilpons. We have all this talk about the Wilpons, people saying they’ll never change, they’ll never spend, they’ll never leave, they’ll be a low-budget team that might win 84 a year but won’t spend what’s necessary to supplement the home-grown talent. So to the Mets fans looking to be convinced that the current front office is committed to putting a winning team, a REAL WINNING TEAM on the field in the reasonable future, what do you have to say? We’ve heard about “the plan,” but do you think the plan will be backed up with the necessary aggressiveness and, when appropriate, the necessary financial support?

Law: Yeah, I mean they spent for Granderson. It turned out to be a disaster, but at least they spent on the player. So it’s not like they’re not willing to spend anything. What I would question is, would they go out and get the $22 million player. Guys in that stratosphere. Will they do that? Because the Mets would have, 6 or 7 years ago. And frankly, they’re going to be at a point where getting that player is going to make financial sense. They’re going to put together, say, an 89-win team with homegrown talent, and they’re going to be at the point where getting that elite player makes them a 94-win team, which is a real playoff contender. So (them not spending there) would be frustrating… the Nationals window won’t last forever and the Mets will have a real chance in the next 3 or 4 years… now I don’t know for sure about the answer when it comes to the Wilpons, will they spend $22 million a year on the elite guy hitting free agency. If I were a Mets fan, that’s what I would be focused on. Because they’ve shown they’re willing to get the $12 million guy. You might not want them to do that, eventually you’re going to want them to get the 6-WAR player, one of those guys hits free agency every year and you want to make sure the Mets are going to do that, when it makes sense, when those 6 wins are going to put them into the playoffs.

Rothman: So if you had to give a number, in the next 6 years, how high could you see the Mets getting in terms of payroll rank?

Law: I could see them being top 10 but not top 5, I think that’s where they’ll peak. Yeah it would be better if somebody other than the Wilpons owned the team, but I’ll try to take a slightly optimistic view.


Rothman: And lastly, if you had to put a number on it, what do you think the Mets’ chances are of getting a playoff game this year?

Law: This year? Oh, ten percent or less. Because it’s wild-card only, and I don’t think they’re as good as some of those other contenders.

Rothman: So you see them being relevant…

Law: Yes, and I think they’re going to be very enjoyable to watch because there’s going to be a lot of home-grown talent on the field, but you’re really hoping Harvey comes back, and you might get half a season of production out of him but they’re not going to want to push him right away. I think 2016 is much more reasonable. And how much less likely are they to add a piece this July, when you really think they’re probably not gonna be contending for the division, are you gonna go spend and add a piece, when it’s really just competing for the one-game playoff. Just like you said earlier, I think you nailed exactly what the internal debate is gonna be, how far do they go when it’s just one game, and maybe not even a home game.

Rothman: Alright, so that’s all I have for you! Thanks so much for doing this.

Law: Yeah you’re welcome, thanks!

Rothman (to himself, after hanging up): Wait, did I just go a whole interview without asking about Juan Lagares?

* * * * * * * * * *

I would like to thank Keith Law for agreeing to this interview. I would also like to thank the people at ESPN’s PR department who made this possible. Keith and I had a lot to talk about, and I’m sure you guys will all have a lot to say in the comments. Start sharing those thoughts!

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A Call For Optimism As New Mets Season Approaches Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:27:54 +0000 wright spring

We all come to this website for the same reason; we all love the Mets.  While we all love the Mets, we may not all love what has been going on with our team.  We may disagree about the owners, the manager, the coaches and whom they trot out there, but one thing we cannot disagree on is this…

Baseball is a special game because any team can beat any team on any given day.

We as fans cannot control who controls our team.  We can whine as much as we want about owners, coaches and players, but none of us have any control over the Mets as a franchise.

With or without the Wilpons the Mets will take the field with the opportunity to win. With or without Terry Collins, the Mets will be afforded the occasion to score more runs than the other team. With this current roster of players, the Mets will have 162 chances to be victorious.

There is a time for negativity, especially as a Mets fan.  Right now just isn’t that time. With each new season comes a clean slate.  The year 2015 is no different. The Mets will start the year with a 0-0 record.

This goes not only for the Mets but also for every team.  All baseball fans should be optimistic in April.  The Mets and 28 other teams had to “wait ‘til next year”.  We are not alone, but the fact remains that each and every game is winnable.

It doesn’t matter what you or I think will happen, what matters is what actually happens. While the common fan and “expert analysts” may make predictions on which teams will play meaningful games come September, they are seldom correct. It’s easy to say which teams will and will not make the playoffs but the fact remains that each year there are surprises and disappointments with those predictions.

People like to point out which teams spent the most or acquired the most but that, again, does not always equal a playoff spot.  Sometimes low payroll teams win and sometimes high payroll teams lose. Nobody is ever a shoe-in. This applies especially in the game of baseball. Not with 162 games to play.  Not with a three round playoff system and a sudden death wild card round.  Not when the winner isn’t decided in a one game winner takes all championship.  A baseball season is not a sprint; it is a marathon, slow and steady wins the race.

New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Florida

It’s easy to fall victim to negativity as a Mets fan.  Without much to celebrate since 2006, we must, as Mets fans, look at this coming season in a positive light.  Every season should be approached with optimism, but I will plead my case for 2015 in particular.

Last year, we won 79 games.  That roster has not changed much, besides the addition of Matt Harvey, a full year of Jacob deGrom, Michael Cuddyer and Wilmer Flores’ bat at short. They lost 30 games by one run or in extra innings. That’s 109 winnable games out of 162.  The Mets roster in comparison to last year has not gotten worse with those additions.  It may not be substantially better but it is certainly not worse. The Mets are not getting destroyed; they are “in” almost every game.  Only 33% of the time in those losses, was the game out of a home run’s reach in the last inning.

For those who predict an exact or roundabout number of wins for an entire season, you are missing out.  You are missing out on the beauty of what a baseball season is made of.  You are forgetting that each series, game, inning, out and pitch is its own entity.  You are negating each hit, bloop, blast and bobble to a mere unrelated number.  You are omitting everything that makes the game of baseball beautiful and have failed to remember that as of April 6th 2015, the Mets are not out of the playoffs yet.

I invite all who predict to remove themselves from their crystal ball and remember that each time the Mets wear any of their many combinations of blue and orange – there is a chance they will win.  I challenge you to look at each game as its own small jigsaw of a 162-piece puzzle.

Let’s keep the playoffs and a championship on the back burner and focus on each game as its own being.

Ask yourself on April 6th, “Can the Mets won today?”, the answer is yes. The answer to that question will be yes for another 161 games as well.

matt harvey

Series breakdown

I offer to you, my fellow met fans, a new way to look at a season.  It involves no prediction and it allows time for optimism until the team tells you otherwise.

I wrote an article recapping the Mets season series record a while back.  In it I mentioned that my coach in college would say, “you don’t have to win every game, you just have to win the series.” before we embarked on a weekend 3 game set.

I have since developed a system to tell me if I should be negative or not.

The season is separated into 54 individual 3 game series’.  Download the attached link to get your own print out of my season series breakdown. Following the season with this formula lets you know when its time to be negative.

The goal is to win 2 out of every three games (108 wins).  Obviously, even the best teams do not do this (unless you’re the 1986 Mets), so each team will end up with a negative number.  The average playoff team finishes with a season total no worse than -18.

Each series the Mets can sweep (+1), get swept (-2) win two out of three (0) or lose 2 out of 3 (-1).

Looking at the season this way gives each game meaning up until that breaking point.  Even at that breaking point there is a chance to sweep or win a series to stay afloat.


Final Thoughts

As a side note, when I take my nephews to games (my daughter will go to her first game this year), they don’t complain about the Wilpons. They don’t argue over Sandy’s decisions and they have no say about the lineup Terry put together.  They just love the Mets and know when they get to the ballpark; there is a chance for them to win that day. It’s pure unbridled optimism. As adults, we too often over-analyze and scrutinize things out of our control.  Lets try something different this year; let’s watch the game and the team we love like we used to when we were kids. At least until they get to -18 with my formula.  Last year, that happened 84 games into the season. I hope you guys enjoy and Lets Go Mets!

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ESPN Law: Mets Top 10 Prospects Headed By Syndergaard Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:54:51 +0000 hear ye

Hear ye, hear ye. Friends, countrymen, and Mets fans, lend me your ears. Today, we do hereby proclaim, that henceforth this 30th day of January shall forever be remembered as Keith Law Day.

And with that, here are Keith Law’s Top 10 Mets Prospects, available through ESPN Insider.

Organization Ranking: 4

Top 10 Mets Prospects

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
2. Michael Conforto, LF
3. Kevin Plawecki, C
4. Dominic Smith, 1B
5. Amed Rosario, SS
6. Brandon Nimmo, OF
7. Dilson Herrera, 2B
8. Steven Matz, LHP
9. Rafael Montero, RHP
10. Gavin Cecchini, SS

Overview Snippets

This system continues to improve each year thanks to strong drafts, an influx of international talent, and a patient front office that hasn’t dealt any prospects for major-league help … although the time has probably come for the latter. I’d rather see that than to have them cough up a first-round pick for the embers of Michael Cuddyer‘s career.

Herrera just missed the top 100, a potential above-average regular at second base who has great bat speed and is an above-average runner, athletic enough to be a plus defender at second but more erratic there in the majors than I expected, given his history at shortstop and play at second in double-A. He should be ready to take over the position by midyear.

Matz’ comeback the last two years has been a great story, as he missed three years after he was drafted due to Tommy John surgery and other injuries; he’s got plus velocity and an above-average to plus changeup, but the delivery’s a bit mechanical and he’s more control than command, probably a good-quality No. 4 starter in the end if he can stay healthy.

Michael Fulmer is the mystery man of the system, missing the beginning and end of the year with knee injuries; he’ll show three present above-average pitches in the fastball (up to 97), slider, and change, and can even spin a curveball. There’s some effort to the delivery, and if the knee issues don’t stop he would profile very well as a power reliever who might pitch with a 70 fastball and 70 slider.

They also have their own Jack and Mrs. Sprat with Champ Stuart, a Bahamian-born 80 runner with a decent idea at the plate and improving defense in center; and catcher Brandon Brosher, who has as much power as Stuart has speed, but whose season ended after seven games (with four homers) when he slipped in the Kingsport dugout and broke his leg.

The Mets could see a lot of help from within this year, as Syndergaard, Plawecki and Herrera should all be in the big leagues to stay by August, while Matz and Montero could also get the call to help in the back of the rotation.

Hansel Robles should end up in the bullpen this summer as long as he throws strikes in Triple-A this spring. Matt Reynolds (14) could get some big league time at shortstop if and when the Mets tire of watching Wilmer Flores struggle there; Reynolds is just average at the position but will make the routine plays — a better, more reliable version of Ruben Tejada who just doesn’t have the power to play semi-regularly at any other spot.

Third baseman Jhoan Urena (11) hit only five home runs for Brooklyn this summer, but there’s a lot more raw power in there, and he’s going to be pretty good at third base given some more instruction. He makes a lot of loud contact and the Mets rave about his makeup, especially his enthusiasm for learning.

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Bobby Ojeda Out At SNY Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:26:53 +0000 Since 2009, Bobby Ojeda has been the lead Mets analyst on SNY's pre and post game coverage.Bob Ojeda is out at SNY, according to Andy Martino of the Daily News.

Ojeda, who joined SNY as a Mets pregame and postgame analyst in 2009, was very popular with fans because of his passion and fearlessness in calling things out.

You could always count on Ojeda to be refreshingly and brutally honest after a tough loss or a bad call from the dugout.

A source close to Ojeda told Martino that the former 1986 Met “absolutely” wanted to return, but the two sides could not reach an agreement on a new deal.

Former Met pitcher Nelson Figueroa is the frontrunner to replace Ojeda, Martino concludes.

Before Ojeda, the Mets had former players Lee Mazzilli and Darryl Strawberry doing the pre and post game shows, which actually was great for my insomnia.

Ojeda livened things up and even if you disagreed with his opinions, you respected his high energy and passion. He will be missed.

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Flores Confident He Can Play A Good Shortstop Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:08:25 +0000 wilmer flores ss

In an interview that will televise at 10 PM tonight on SNY, Wilmer Flores admitted to Mets Hot Stove that while his range may not be as good as he would like, he’s confident that he can make the routine plays and play a good shortstop. “It’s no secret that I’m not Omar Vizquel,” Flores told SNY.

Watching the video you almost feel bad for the kid who’s been busting his ass since the season ended to get the routine plays down pat, while working on his footwork and positioning to compensate for his lack of range.

He’s been answering the same freaking question for months now, and I’m sure he’ll have to answer it a dozen more times once spring training starts in three weeks. I’ll tell you, I can’t wait for the season to start, and I’ll continue to say that Flores is going to have a lot of people eating crow this year.

— Joe D.

January 26

Marc Carig (Newsday) put together a nice article with some input from both Wilmer Flores and David Wright on the state of the Mets shortstop situation.  The topic obviously centered around what Flores has done to improve and whether the offseason banter has affected his outlook and determination.

“You hear people talking all the time.  Is this guy going to be a shortstop?  Can he play shortstop?  Can he not?” Flores said.

“I’m not going to say I don’t hear things. But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do.”

“Not everyone can play shortstop in the big leagues. I think I did a pretty good job at short. I was impressed with what I did. I just want to do it again.”

It’s the first time Flores has contributed his thoughts on the matter after spending almost every day this offseason either playing winter league baseball in his native Venezuela or training in Port St. Lucie with little downtime at all.

Wright offered a realistic, yet genuine endorsement of his teammate.

“He hasn’t played there,” Wright said. “He was playing third, he was playing some second, then all of a sudden they wanted to throw him at shortstop at the big-league level. Obviously, there’s an adjustment period.”

“I would wager that he’s going to have a better year offensively than I would say the majority of shortstops in baseball. I’m not saying he’s going to be Omar Vizquel at shortstop.”

Here’s my thoughts. If Wilmer were to be graded on effort, focus and desire just from this offseason alone, he’d get straight A’s.

He’ll execute the routine putouts, turn the everyday double play and probably have a few web gems to go with the occasional blunder.  Some days will be bad, some will be good, but most of the time he’ll get the job done with the glove.

What’s odd is that unlike many, I see good reason to believe he’d be passable with his glove, at least as a short term solution.  Ironically, for all the talk of his offense, there seems to be little discussion around his splits.

Over his final 24 games last season, Flores finished strong, producing a .287/.320/.500 slashline.  However, of those games, 13 were played at SS (.255 hitter), 10 were played at second base (.368 hitter) and 1 was split between SS/2B (.200).

The story remains consistent across the entire season too.  His .251/.286/.378 stat line disguises how dismal he was offensively at SS (.239/.273/.324)versus 2B (.297/.328/.563).  Obviously, it’s a small sample size, but curious all the same.

In the end, it depends on the plan the Mets have for Flores both now and in the future.  If the goal is to milk this experiment for dollar value at the expense of his development and the integrity of the infield defense, it could foreshadow more of the same ‘upgrade’ chatter next offseason.

If the goal is to get above average production from him until the trade deadline on the heels of a Daniel Murphy deal, Flores will likely move to 2B, where he has thrived and this will likely be a savvy display of patience on the part of the Mets.

The point is, Wilmer Flores flashed some serious promise last year playing at second, which is where his career was headed since as early as 2011. He’s put a lot of work into this offseason and deserves to see it pay off.

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Law: Mets Have 6 Prospects in Top 100 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:56:25 +0000 michael-conforto-2

Here they are, what you’ve all been waiting for… ESPN’s Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects for 2015 and the Mets had an impressive showing with six players making the cut.

Noah Syndergaard RHP (No. 17)

Syndergaard just keeps chugging along fairly quietly compared to most pitchers who throw 95-plus, getting results while refining his off-speed stuff gradually but consistently. He’s now to the point where he seems like the safest bet of any of the premium pitching prospects on this list. Syndergaard will hold mid-90s into the seventh inning, working with what seems like negative effort, and his changeup is plus at 78-79. His curveball, about a grade-35 pitch when he was first drafted by Toronto in 2010, has advanced to be at least solid-average, showing as a 55 in most outings, playing up in particular because he can throw the pitch for strikes.

His Triple-A stat line was hurt by his home park, a very good environment for hitters, and some generally bad luck, but to the extent that it forced him to continue to refine his command — which is already a strength — the experience won’t hurt him. The Norse God of Velocity is ready for the call to Queens, with the floor of an above-average starter who can carry 200-plus-inning workloads.

Michael Conforto OF (No. 41)

Conforto was the best pure college hitter in the 2014 draft class, with a tremendous combination of feel to hit, an advanced approach and above-average power, but he slipped to the 10th overall pick probably because he’s limited to playing left field, in which he had a rough reputation dating back to his freshman year. He has improved significantly on defense between his reads on balls and his throwing accuracy and now projects as an average or better defender there.

What he truly brings to the table, however, is his bat. He loads a little high and deep, but his hands are quick, so he can get the bat head into the zone quickly, and he rotates his hips well for power from right field out to center. He’s a patient hitter — he led Division I in OBP and walks in the spring and finished fifth in the New York-Penn League in OBP this summer — but he’s not passive. I see him as a fantastic two-hole hitter, posting high averages and OBPs with 20-homer power while adding value with his defense and smart baserunning.

Kevin Plawecki C (No. 45)

Ask anyone in a major league front office about the state of catching in MLB, and you’ll probably get a scatological term in response: There isn’t enough of it to go around, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have one of the dozen or so good ones, you’re constantly looking to upgrade. That means prospects such as Plawecki, a good receiver who can hit and is about ready for the majors, have very high value not just in terms of future production, but also in the trade market. Plawecki, the Mets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue, has great hands behind the plate and should be a strong framer pitchers want to throw to, with a good feel for the softer aspects of catching, such as game-calling. His arm is just average, and I think even with his work ethic, he’ll top out as a 30 percent caught-stealing guy.

At the plate, he might have the shortest swing of anyone in the top 100, very consistent and simple, with strong hands to let him run into a dozen or so homers a year with a slew of doubles. His ability to hit for average should separate him from other catchers — only five regular or semi-regular catchers hit .280 in 2014, and only 14 hit even .260 — with added value from his glove, all boosted by the fact that he could play every day for someone by the middle of 2015.

Dominic Smith 1B (No. 65)

Smith’s superficial stats don’t give Mets fans a lot of confidence in his future, but he actually had a very solid year considering his age, experience and home ballpark. Smith was just 19 years old in Class A Savannah, going to a full-season league less than a year out of high school, whereas other recent Mets first-rounders, such as Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, spent a second summer in short-season ball first. Savannah is a terrible park for left-handed hitters, especially for pull power, so Smith worked on going the other way much of the season, with far more of his extra-base hits going to left than to right. He has grade-70 raw power, but we may not see much of it until he reaches Binghamton late in 2015, or more likely 2016. He’s an excellent defensive first baseman with a 70-grade arm, although defense at that position is secondary to offense. Don’t be alarmed if his home run total is still low in the Florida State League this year, but once he reaches Double-A, I expect Smith to hit double-digit homers and peak at 20-plus per year in the majors, with high batting averages and OBPs north of .350, making him an above-average or better regular at first.

Amed Rosario SS (No. 69)

Rosario was my sleeper prospect for the Mets last year, and the $1.75 million the Mets paid him in 2012 looks like it’s going to more than pay off. Rosario is a toolshed, with athleticism, strength, plus raw power and a laser arm. He’s a true shortstop with very good actions at the position, including soft hands and excellent reads on balls in front him on which he has to come in or in front of the bag. His bat is a blur through the zone, and he keeps his hands inside the ball exceptionally well. His approach is very mature for his age, atypical of an 18-year-old playing with much older competition; he’ll hit the other way and show power there as well, with more than half of his career home runs going out to right-center.

He has broad shoulders and might fill out some but doesn’t project to outgrow the position. He’ll need to be challenged by better pitching, especially pitchers who can locate their off-speed stuff, which he might not see until high Class A or Double-A. Savannah has a brutal park for power, so his superficial stats might not show much progress this year, but if he keeps his contact rate up and works on adjusting to changing speeds, he won’t be there for long.

Brandon Nimmo OF (No. 91)

He profiles as an everyday right fielder between his defense and potential for .380-.400 OBPs, but I’d like to see better results when he puts the ball in play against lefties.

* * * * * * *

Not bad, not bad… I was hoping Matz would sneak in but I’m pretty thrilled.

I’ve got some great news for you, Keith Law was kind enough to agree to an interview with our own Tommy Rothman this morning. It’s very in depth and the two of them covered a lot of Mets topics. We’ll be posting it in the morning for you.

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BP Projects 82 Wins For Mets, Gee Takes Exception Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:48 +0000 dillon gee

Dillon Gee took exception to Baseball Prospectus projecting the Mets for 82 wins this season.

In response, he said via Twitter: “And NYC was expected to get hammered with an Armageddon blizzard. Sometimes people get it wrong!!!”

It’s interesting that he’s the one that speaks out considering he’ll be in another uniform by the end of February. But this was cool to see. :-)

January 28

Baseball Prospectus projects the Mets to finish 82-80 this year and fall short of the postseason.


This is actually a little bit more promising than FanGraphs who projected the Mets for 79 wins this season.

There’s no real science to these predictions and it’s all very subjective. However if the Mets don’t finish the season with a minimum of 85 wins, I would suspect that most fans will not be pleased.

Last year was supposed to be the season the Mets began their run of sustainable success and a potential winning season. But the Matt Harvey situation derailed that and all eyes shifted to 2015.

Because expectations are so high, I’m not sure if just finishing at or above .500 would be enough to make fans ecstatic after six consecutive losing seasons.

Then there are those who believe that the Mets did not do enough this offseason to convince fans of their commitment to winning.

Because we have such a promising rotation, I do believe the Mets will have an exciting season with some high points and low points. As usual the Mets are banking on lots of “if’s” to make it all happen. Honestly, I’d feel a lot better if Terry Collins had been replaced with someone else, preferably Wally Backman. We’ll see how it goes.


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Due To Huge Demand, Mets Announce Second Foo Fighters Performance At Citi Field Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:07:08 +0000 foo fighters david grohl

Due to overwhelming demand, the New York Mets and Live Nation have announced that the Foo Fighters will perform a second show at Citi Field, Wednesday, July 15.

Tickets will go on sale at and by phone at (718) 507-TIXX this Friday, January 30 at 10:00 a.m.

The July 15th performance by the multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning American rockers was added after the Thursday, July 16 show sold out.

Over the course of the band’s career, four of its albums have won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album. The band’s seventh studio album, Wasting Light, was released in 2011 and as of May 2014, the band’s seven albums have sold a combined 11.1 million copies. The band’s eighth studio album, Sonic Highways, was released in November 2014.


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NL East Offseason Winners and Losers Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:59:38 +0000 michael cuddyer cage

After one of the most active Winters ever, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports evaluates all the winners and losers so far. Here are the ones I cherry picked from the NL East including the Mets.


Marlins. They got off to a big start with the record $325-million deal for franchise player Giancarlo Stanton (with his out after $107 million and six years) and kept going, adding speedy Dee Gordon, versatile Martin Prado (a poor man’s Ben Zobrist), powerful Michael Morse, talented Mat Latos, ageless Ichiro and (most likely) dependable Dan Haren, who still prefers to pitch on the West Coast. On the cusp. (And if they pull a surprise and add Shields, even a real threat). Only disappointments: not locking up Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich.

Jury’s Out

Braves. There’s no question they stepped out of the stalking role in the NL East and look like an also-ran for 2015, and the $44 million on Markakis will only be well spent if he makes a speedy recovery. But Shelby Miller was a nice return for Jason Heyward and Fried-plus is fine work for Upton. I get it more than most, it seems.


Phillies. They were rejected by A.J. Burnett, who bolted Philly to return to the cross-state Pirates for much less money (about a third less, $8.5 million compared to $12.75 million), and are seemingly just getting started in their rebuilding task. GM Ruben Amaro suggested recently he expects to keep Cole Hamels, and let’s hope that changes, as Philly’s rebuild depends on the type of haul they can get for one of baseball’s best pitchers. They are also for the moment stuck with Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Howard.

Mets. Michael Cuddyer was a nice add but the Mets continue to be ultra-conservative on the trading front, especially compared with some of the teams with new GMs. Wilmer Flores is going to be a nice utility player but it’s questionable whether he’s a starting shortstop. If the Mets are as good as they think they are, they should have found a way to trade for Ian Desmond, Tulowitzki or someone else of that ilk.

Would have liked to see what he thought about the Nationals, but they weren’t featured as a team. However Heyman lists Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond as winners.

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Tell Them Tommie Agee Was Here Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:31:05 +0000 The date was Monday, January 22, 2001. The weather in New York was brisk. The Twin Towers stood proud and dominated the skyline. The city was just three months removed from the first Subway Series in over four decades and Baseball Fever still filled the air.

In midtown Manhattan, a 58 year old, African-American, mortgage insurance salesman walked out of an office building. He clutched his chest and collapsed onto the frozen sidewalk.

tommie ageeBy the time the EMT workers arrived, the man was in cardiac arrest. Attempts to revive him on the way to Bellevue Hospital proved futile and the individual was pronounced dead at 1:05 PM. His name: Tommie Agee.

When we look back at critical plays at crucial moments throughout World Series history, many of them are related to 6 or 7 game Series. A bloop hit by Luis Gonzalez, a ground ball that ‘gets by Buckner,’ a missed third strike by Mickey Owen. It’s hard to imagine that one player could have such an impact in a short 5 game series. But that is exactly what Tommie Agee meant to the Mets in 1969. It’s very conceivable that had it not been for Agee, we would have just the one championship in 1986.

Tommie Lee Agee was born on August 9, 1942 in Magnolia, Alabama. He was a college star at Grambling and ultimately was signed by the Cleveland Indians. Although his first big league at-bat happened on Sept 14, 1962, it wasn’t until 1966 he became a full time player for the White Sox. Agee thrived in his everyday role and in his first full season walloped 22 Home Runs, knocked in 86 runs, slugged .447, scored 98 runs, and stole 44 bases on his way to winning the AL Rookie of the Year.

The following year, however, his productivity dropped substantially. He batted just .234, hit 14 homers, and struck out 129 times. The ChiSox wasted no time in casting off this ‘one year wonder’ and dealt him to the Mets along with Al Weis for Jack Fisher, Tommy Davis and a pair of minor leaguers.

The 1968 season started with hope for the Mets. We now had two former Rookie of the Year winners in Agee and Tom Seaver, and a young pitcher named Jerry Koosman was also showing promise. We also had a new manager in the much revered Gil Hodges. On Opening Day, the Mets jumped out to an early 4-0 lead against future Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. However, our bullpen failed., the Giants scored three in the bottom of the 9th, and it became clear from that day on that 1968 would be no different than the years prior. Agee had been beaned in Spring Training by Bob Gibson and never got on track. He started the season going 0-34, and things didn’t really improve much for him for the rest of the season. In 132 games, he batted a disappointing .217 with just five homers and an embarrassing 17 RBI.

When the 1969 season began, Mets fans, as we always do, hoped for the best but somewhat expected the worst. Gil Hodges saw something in his center fielder. Although Agee didn’t have the natural talent of a Seaver or Nolan Ryan, he worked hard and made the most of his skills. Teammates always described Number 20 as intelligent, hard working, and a real winner. Despite having a pitiful ’68 season, Hodges stood by Agee and he quickly rewarded his manager, his teammates and the Mets faithful.

timmie agee home run spotOn April 10, 1969, Tommie Agee put the NL on notice that he was back! He blasted a home run that would reach the upper deck at Shea. (Insert theme from The Natural.) Only 8,608 fans were on hand that day. The game was not televised so there is no footage.

On-deck hitter Rod Gaspar said, “I’ve never seen a ball hit like that.” Buddy Harrelson stated, “The ball was still climbing.” Although Shea was only six years old at the time, people assumed that eventually someone would probably hit a ball that far again. It never happened. That blast by Agee became the longest home run ever hit at Shea Stadium.

The Miracle of the 69 season quickly came into doubt during the Fall Classic. Tom Seaver, with a record of 25-7 and a 2.21 ERA started Game One. Don Buford welcomed the Mets into the World Series by hitting a lead-off HR. The Mets lost 4-1 and people wondered if the dream was over. The Miracle was in doubt. However, behind the masterful pitching of Jerry Koosman in Game 2, the Mets prevailed 2-1, splitting the two games in Baltimore and now returning home to Big Shea.

56,335 fans attended Game 3, the first World Series game ever played at Shea. It was Agee who stepped to the forefront. Leading off against future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, Agee opened the game with a homer and quickly put the Mets on top. However, the best was yet to come.

tommie agee game 3The Mets led 3-0 in the top of the 4th. With runners on 1st and 3rd and two outs, Elrod Hendricks hit a shot deep into left center field. Agee ran as fast as his legs would carry him. Approaching the wall at full speed, Agee never slowed down. As he said years later, “I would have run right through that wall if I needed to.” Agee made a spectacular backhanded snow cone catch that saved at least two runs. As he trotted off the field, with the white of the ball still in the webbing, Shea erupted like never before. But he was not done yet.

In the 7th, the Mets were now leading 4-0, but Baltimore, winner of 109 games during the season, showed why they were the class of the AL. They refused to roll over. They loaded the bases. Paul Blair, the tying run, stepped to the plate and Hodges brought in Nolan Ryan from the bullpen. Blair greeted Ryan by hitting one deep into right-center field. Once again, Agee sped into the power alley. The possibility of him making TWO great catches seemed impossible and unlikely. But at the last minute, the wind grabbed hold of the ball. Agee extended, dove for the ball, snared the sinking liner, slid onto the warning track and rolled over. The ball was in his glove. Had he not made the catch, it most likely would have been an inside-the-park home run and tied the game at 4-4.

tommie ageeThe Mets won the game 5-0, and would go on to win the series in five games. “The homer meant one run,” Agee said, “But the catches saved more than that.”

Agee’s catches also signified the dawning of a new age for the Mets. We would no longer be the laughing stock of baseball. The lovable losers were on their way to becoming Champions.

Sports Illustrated ranked Agee’s catches as among the best in World Series history along with Willie Mays in 1954, Sandy Amoros in 1955 and Al Gionfriddo in 1947. They also went on to claim that Agee’s performance in Game 3 was the best ever by a center fielder in World Series history. The point can be argued that if it was not for Tommie Agee in Game 3, the Orioles may have quite possibly won the game, salvaged at least one of the three in New York and forced the series to return to Baltimore. And who knows how things may have turned out if that would have happened. Thanks to Tommie Agee, none of that was necessary.

Agee led the team in home runs, RBI and runs scored that season and also won NL Comeback Player of the Year award. Although 1969 was his high point, Tommie continued to be a major part of the Mets the following season. In 1970 he put together a 20 game hitting streak, hit for the cycle one day in July and even stole home in the tenth inning to win a game. Mets management was so pleased with his performance, they increased his salary to $40,000. However, by 1974, he was out of baseball as injuries would cut short his career. After batting just .227 with 13 home runs in 1972, the Mets traded him to Houston for Rich Chiles and Buddy Harris. He played for Houston and St. Louis in 1973, then was traded to Los Angeles, but failed to make the team out of spring training and at age 30, our World Series hero retired.

He went on to open ‘The Outfielder’s Lounge’ close to Shea and ultimately worked for Stewart Title Insurance. He remained very active promoting the Mets around the city and spent his later years taking part in numerous charities and baseball clinics.

“He was such a good athlete and a real good friend.,” teammate Kenny Boswell said after Agee passed away. Right fielder and fellow champion Ron Swoboda added, “The way he conducted himself on and off the field, both during and after his career, was admirable. He was taken way too soon.”

Too soon indeed. Thanks for all the memories, Tommie.

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New Commish Dodges Question About Wilpons and Mets Payroll Thu, 29 Jan 2015 01:58:29 +0000 rob manfred

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports conducted a comprehensive interview with new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spanning a variety of topics and sensitive issues including a question about Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

Rosenthal: Another issue — and I know this one is sensitive. The Mets play in one of the biggest markets in the game. I know Commissioner Selig was close with (Mets owner) Fred Wilpon and that you just appointed Mr Wilpon head of your finance committee. Yet this team’s payroll is lower than some lower-revenue teams, certainly projects to be that way again in 2015. How do you justify to their fans the Mets’ inability or reluctance to spend more on players?

Manfred: I’m a huge fan of Sandy Alderson. I think Sandy Alderson is as good a general manager today as there is in the game. You could go back 20 years and argue that he’s one of the best. I think they have developed a strategy with respect to the Mets they’re going to try to grow from within so that they have a team that can be competitive and sustainable, and I have no doubt that as that process continues and it requires the owners of the Mets to invest additional dollars in payroll that they are going to be willing and able to do that.

That’s as close as dodging the question as one could get. Manfred completely steers the conversation to Sandy Alderson and offered nothing at all on the real problem which is ownership.

Manfred, who is looking more and more like a Selig puppet, failed to address the point of Rosenthal’s question which ponders why a team in MLB’s number one market is operating with a bottom five payroll.

Sadly there was no followup question.

Mets Cubs

I would have asked: Why have low revenue teams like Miami, San Diego, Kansas City and Houston spent most of the $28 million dollars they received from the new National TV contract that kicked in this year, while the Mets enter 2015 with basically the same payroll as last year?

That $28 million is found money that all teams will get annually each January, beginning this year, a virtual bonus that most teams have invested right into their roster this offseason while the Mets pocketed their portion.

One report speculates that the new average MLB payroll will near a record $130 million in 2015 due mostly to teams investing a great portion of their new National TV money. The Mets are at $92 million, a mere $3 million more than last Opening Day. If they trade Daniel Murphy at the deadline as most expect, payroll will actually be less than last year.

The sad reality is that Mets ownership and management prefers that the fans do all the new investing and that it is our responsibility to put up our own money before they spend a dollar more to improve the product on the field and support one of the best young core of players this team has had in a quarter century. What a crying shame.

Hopefully we can win in spite of the creeps that control this team. But it sucks that the Wilpons and all their shills run this team like a second-rate franchise instead of the first class operation it should be.

By the way, I’d suggest reading Rosenthal’s entire interview, he did a fantastic job overall and there is lot’s to digest.

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Mets Avoid Arbitration With Jenrry Mejia, Agree On $2.6 Million Contract Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:54:02 +0000 jenrry-mejia

The Mets and Jenrry Mejia have agreed to a one year deal for 2.595 million to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Heyman. Mejia had filed for $3.0 million while the Mets initially offered $2.1 million.

Mejia will likely start the season as the Mets closer no matter what Terry Collins keeps saying about it being a competition this Spring.

So we have only Lucas Duda left to sign as arbitration hearings begin next week. Someone asked me if I thought the delay could be the two sides working on an extension, but I’m sure that’s not the case given how broke the team still is. I still expect both sides to settle before their hearing.

January 16

The Mets have avoided arbitration with Daniel Murphy, agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal with him on Friday night. Murphy had submitted an $8.6 million figure while the Mets countered with $7.4 million.

According to what a team source told Adam Rubin the Mets have no plans for a multi-year deal with Murphy and the All Star second baseman will head into free agency after the 2015 season.

The team has already reached deals with Dillon Gee for $5.3 million earlier in the day, and for $1.88 million with shortstop Ruben Tejada. They signed Bobby Parnell for $3.7 million last week.

That leaves just Lucas Duda and Jenrry Mejia to sign on the dotted line.

January 15

Today was the deadline for exchanging arbitration figures with any arbitration eligible players who remained unsigned.

The Mets avoided arbitration with two of their five eligible players when the agreed to one-year deals with Dillon Gee ($5.3M) and Ruben Tejada ($1.88M).

Here are the salary figures exchanged with the remaining unsigned players.

  • Lucas Duda filed for $4.7 million, Mets offered $3.75 million.
  • Jenrry Mejia filed for $3.0 million, Mets offered $2.1 million.
  • Daniel Murphy filed for $8.6 million, Mets offered $7.4 million.

Adam Rubin also added that a team source told him definitively that the Mets have no plans for a multi-year deal with Daniel Murphy and he will be a free agent after the 2015 season.


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