Mets Merized Online Wed, 22 Oct 2014 01:43:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets To Formally Interview Kevin Long On Wednesday Wed, 22 Oct 2014 01:12:52 +0000 Kevin long cage

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Mets will formally interview former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long on Wednesday, for the vacant hitting coach position created when Lamar Johnson was relieved of his duties.

Long was the hitting coach for the Yankees for seven seasons before being fired by Brian Cashman two weeks ago.

In addition to the Mets, he is drawing interest from the Blue Jays, brewers, Pirates, D’Backs  and Braves.

October 15 – Who is Kevin Long

With all the talk about the Mets considering Kevin Long to fill the Mets vacant hitting coach position, I decided to spend an hour researching him and learning what this former Yankee is all about. I learned some things along the way and thought I’d share some of them with you.

Long Is Very Confident

“If you’re going to fix somebody’s swing, you better know what you’re doing because you’re putting your name and reputation on the line. One of the criticisms I heard was how I could teach this caliber of player when I never played at this level. That doesn’t matter. It matters what kind of educator and teacher I am that I can get these guys to compete at an optimal level.”

Long Is A Hard Worker

“There’s always three things that I think are going to put you above anybody else as a coach. First of all, work ethic. No one is going to outwork me. No one is going to put in more time. That’s number one because the players see that.

Number two is knowledge. I’ve got to be very knowledgeable about what I do. Drill work, what adjustments I make with these guys… I have to know what makes good hitters good. I’ve done my homework. I’ve studied. I’ve taken Barry Bonds’ swing and broken it down into the finest details. And that’s how I started with my philosophy.

The third part—and if you don’t have this, you might as well pack it in as a hitting coach— is you’d better be personable. You’d better have people skills.”

About the Home Run Drill

“You never know if it’s going to catch on,” Long said. “You’re trying to help players become as consistent as possible. When you see guys have a lot of success with a certain drill, you keep it around. And it’s just one of those drills where I’ve seen numerous people throughout my career get better and better with it.”

The drill is intended to build muscle memory and teach players to consistently pull the ball for power.

Long Goes Above and Beyond

“I went to the Dominican Republic to work with Robinson Cano. Did the Yankees pay for that? Did Robinson Cano pay for that? You know who paid for that? Kevin Long paid for that….It wasn’t the Yankees saying go. I went in order for me to be a good instructor. You know what Robinson Cano thinks of me? He thinks I’m the greatest guy in the world…And as I do that, and as we go through a season where there’s struggles and this and that, he now feels he can lean on me, and we can lean on each other and that part can get you over the hump.”

Carlos Pena on Kevin Long

“You can know it all, but if you don’t know how to share it with your players, then the knowledge is lost. His strength is not actually all he knows, but how he teaches, how he can relate to a single player and make the player comfortable and confident and make the player trust him. Regardless of the stage or the level of the hitter, they start to feel they are the best in the world without ever even realizing it.”

Hope you enjoyed this and that you learned a little bit more about Kevin Long that you didn’t know already. These quotes were courtesy of ESPN, the New York Times, Hardball Magazine and Fox Sports.


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World Series Game Thread: Giants vs Royals, 8:07 PM Tue, 21 Oct 2014 20:00:54 +0000 Courtesy of CBS

Courtesy of CBS

Game 1

San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 8:07 PM, FOX

Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 1.42 ERA, 31.2 IP) vs. James Shields (1-0, 5.63 ERA, 16 IP)

The World Series kicks off tonight at 8:07 PM in Kansas City, Missouri. Madison Bumgarner will face off against “Big Game” James Shields. These two pitchers have been going in different directions during the postseason. While Bumgarner has set the standard for dominance in the postseason, Shields has struggled mightily.

Bumgarner set an all-time playoff record by throwing 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road and was named the NLCS MVP. He has been nothing short of brilliant, throwing nearly double the number of innings compared to any other pitcher this postseason. The Cardinals Adam Wainwright threw the second most innings with 16, 15.2 less than Bumgarner.

Sheilds hasn’t had nearly the same postseason. Known for pitching in big spots, he’s come up short for the Royals in multiple situations and will now pitch for the second time in the World Series. He started game two of the 2008 World Series against the Phillies, picking up the win.

28 years, 11 months and 25 days after the last World Series game at Kaufman Stadium, the Royals will try to continue their incredible run through October while the Giants look to win their third World Series in five years.mmo footer

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Alderson’s Draft Picks Are Indication Of Long Term Plan Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:31:07 +0000 brandon nimmoThe hardest thing about building a winning team is the anticipation. Before 1996, there were no guarantees that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of a very young Yankees team would prosper at the same time, if at all. The same can be said about the 1986 Mets. Frank Cashen took Darryl Strawberry with the #1 overall pick in the 1980 draft. It happened to be the very first pick Cashen made in New York and it turned out pretty well.

Fast forward to 2011 when Sandy Alderson took over the Mets and selected Brandon Nimmo with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Like Strawberry, Nimmo was a high school outfielder with a ton of raw talent. It took Strawberry three years to reach the majors, debuting in 1983. Three years after that, they won the World Series. Now Alderson is hoping Nimmo is on the same track.

An interesting note from Cody Derespina of Newsday revolved around other high school players taken early in the draft.

“Since 1980, there have been 16 high school players drafted No. 1 overall. That list includes Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer. Of the 14 No. 1 picks out of high school from 1980-2011, only Brien Taylor, Matt Bush and Tim Beckham didn’t debut in the majors within three years. Bush and Taylor never even made it to the bigs.”

Nimmo being a 13th overall pick won’t fit into that group but it’s clear that the Mets have completely abandoned a win-now approach in favor of the win-long-term strategy. Mets’ vice president for player development and scouting Paul DePodesta, had this to say about building for the future.

“We’re not necessarily looking for quick fixes. We hopefully plan on being here for a while and really trying to do this right. We’re not going to take a guy just because he might be the quickest mover to the big leagues.”

Nimmo will enter his fifth season in the Mets minor league system this spring at the age of 22. As Derespina points out, three to four years isn’t all that long for a high school player to mature and Nimmo will take longer than that. Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith were other players who Alderson drafted out of high school and who are unlikely to debut anytime soon.

Derespina also notes that with Alderson’s contract extension in place, he’ll likely be around until 2017 and by then, Cecchini, Smith, Nimmo and 2014 first-rounder Michael Conforto could debut.footer

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Familia Replacing Mejia As The Mets Closer? Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:59:46 +0000 jeurys familia

Mike Vorkunov of ponders if the Mets should just go with Jeurys Familia as the team’s closer next season.

He argues that as as impressive as Jenrry Mejia was last season in his first stint as closer, Familia was far more consistent than him.

“While Mejia’s saves could sometimes feel like he was walking a tight-rope (A 1.50 WHIP in save situations), Familia was more stable. So it’s worth asking: Should Familia be the closer next season?”

I love Familia and before the season I predicted that he would be one of the most valuable arms in our bullpen. He finished the season with a pristine 2.21 ERA and he became our eighth inning setup man, a job he did very well.

I just don’t understand why we have to screw around with something that we finally fixed. After five years of struggling with an awful bullpen – including three doomed attempts to revamp the bullpen by Sandy Alderson – we ended the season with an incredibly strong and with a very bright outlook. Roles were set and established and several relievers shined.

Everyone seems to be on a mission to usurp Mejia from the closer role, be it for Bobby Parnell who may or may not be ready by Opening Day, and even doing something as drastic as not naming a closer at all and simply going with a committee as was asserted on MetsBlog last week.

Just when we seem to finally have everything set and looking good, give me one good reason why we should blow all that up on some whim?

Who can ensure me that Familia would be just as effective closing games as he was as a setup man? There’s an incredible amount of pressure to come out with the game on the line and secure those final three outs. It takes a special swagger. You not only need the stuff you need the mindset.

While not perfect, and let’s face it who is, Mejia quickly took to his new role as closer and ran with it. As a reliever, he posted a 2.72 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 56.1 innings and he saved 28 games. Only the Marlins’ Steve Cishek saved more games in the second half last season than Mejia who had 18 to his 19.

We’ve all seen how big a role confidence plays in the performance of Familia and Mejia over the years. How do you think that plays out if you yank Mejia out of the closer role after he thrived in it? Don’t we have enough issues on this team without having to manufacture some new ones?


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Nimmo and Mazzilli Off To Solid Starts In AFL Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:17:06 +0000 Jessica Quiroli of Minor League Ball is reviewing many of the prospects currently competing in this year’s Arizona Fall League. She had some interesting things to say about a pair of Mets prospects who have impressed her.

Brandon Nimmo

brandon nimmoBrandon Nimmo is that rare breed of focused aggression and intensity, mixed with patience and teachability. His story is legend at this point: with no high school baseball program in Wyoming, he played the showcase circuit. Scouts noticed and he was drafted in 1st round in 2011 He came to the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York Penn League as poised as a ten-year veteran. By the end of the season, however, the inexperience showed. Fatigue affected what was otherwise a highly successful debut.

He entered Spring Training in 2013 ten pounds heavier and talked about the noticeable difference in getting to balls in the outfield. He made the jump to Double-A Binghamton in 2014. He showcased more power, with a smooth swing path (it looked wobbly at times in 2012), and good hip rotation. He simply looked like a more solid version of the guy that played 69 games in Short-A ball in 2012. The selection to the fall league wasn’t a surprise.

Nimmo is the top outfield prospect in the organization, and one of the top outfield prospects in all the minor leagues. In tough fall league competition, he can work on developing more power and improve already very good plate approach. After the struggles with consistency that he exhibited down the stretch in his first professional season , he showed more ability to perform at the level he’s capable of in 2014. He ended the season hitting .278/.394/.426 in 127 games. He’s had a good fall league debut, hitting .393/.476/.571 in his first seven games.

L.J. Mazzilli

L.J._MazzilliSimilarly, Mets second base prospect L.J. Mazzilli is developing more power at the plate. His ability for gap-power was on display in 2013 with the Brooklyn Cyclones.And while Mazzilli has the same kind of professionalism and maturity as Nimmo, Mazzilli’s is all pedigree, as the son of former major leaguer Lee.

The younger Mazzilli also remained unfazed by the super-hype of his introduction to the New York media at Citi-Bank Field. That kind of laser-focus helped him adjust quickly to pro- ball. He exhibited rock-solid maturity off the field, and a consistent approach at the plate, also proving to be a strong defender with good speed. He hit .301/.361/.440 in 131 games between the Florida State and South Atlantic Leagues this year.

He spoke about his goals this off-season, working on strengthening and agility, with a focus on further improving his speed. Putting those elements together in fall league, and continuing that program through the winter, could lead to him seeing Double-A time in 2015. While not highly ranked in the system by some sources, he can play himself into a more valuable role with the Mets.

* * * * * * * *

I took a quick look at their stats this morning and both seem to be off to a solid start in Arizona where Nimmo is slashing at .323/.447/.419 in 31 at-bats, and Mazzilli is posting a .250/.400/.400 line in 20 at-bats.

Last night was only the sixth game for Mazzilli, who lined a triple into the gap and scored two runs during Scottsdale’s 7-3 victory over Glendale on Monday night. Nimmo added an RBI single in the game.

“I’m still trying to get in that groove offensively,” said Mazzilli after the game. “I feel I did well this year. I learned a lot in the first month-and-a-half of the season when I was struggling a little bit. I figured out what it takes for me to be the best I possibly can be, and I stuck with that plan and approach.”


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MMO Free Agent Profile: Nick Markakis, RF Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:00:44 +0000 MLB: JUL 20 Rays at Orioles

Nick Markakis

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

2014 Snapshot

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

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


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

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


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

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

Projected Contract

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


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Beltran Could Have Altered Fate For World Series Teams Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:11:16 +0000 beltran

The trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler set off a chain of events that could have impacted the fates of both the Giants and Royals.

Beltran went on to sign with the Cardinals during the following offseason and then signed a three-year deal with the Yankees before the 2014 season. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams were convinced that Beltran would land with the Royals, the team that he came up with a decade earlier.

“When it happened, I cried. Because I was emotional,” Beltran told Dick Kaegel of back in 2012.

“I signed with the Royals, I came up with the Royals, I had many years in that organization. But at the end of the day, those types of moments make you stronger as a person and make you understand a little more the game of baseball and how things happen. Baseball is a business, big business.”

How different would the playoff landscape look right now if that had been the case?

Wheeler could be getting ready to pitch game three or four for the Giants while Beltran would undoubtedly be one of the best hitters on the opposing team.

Obviously the trade has nothing to do with either players path. If Beltran wasn’t traded to the Giants, it doesn’t mean he would have been any more likely to end up in Kansas City years later. Still, the connection between the two players exists.

Beltran’s homecoming was thwarted by the three-year deal the Yankees offered him and Wheeler will be a part of the Mets stellar rotation for years to come.

It’s clear now that the Mets won that trade, as the Giants failed to make the playoffs in 2011, losing Beltran to free-agency the year after, while the Mets will end up getting seven years of service from Wheeler. Both could have been playing in the World Series this year had their paths been different.

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(Updated) Mets Can Learn A Lesson From The Royals? Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:32:48 +0000 James shields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts from Joe D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hitting Coach Update: Yankees Tell Magadan He Didn’t Get The Job Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:04:01 +0000 dave magadan

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that Dave Magadan, who was a finalist for the Yankees’ hitting coach job, was informed he did not get the position and that the Yankees and are looking elsewhere.

That makes Magadan the frontrunner for Oakland’s open hitting coach job, Slusser says, particularly with Chili Davis having accepted the Red Sox position and leaving the A’s with the vacancy. Magadan told Slusser he has “had some conversations” with A’s general manager Billy Beane.

The Mets also have talked to Magadan, but as I pointed out last week and you can read below, there’s no chance of that happening given the history between Magadan and Alderson.

Kevin Long is still a possibility, but since last week several more teams have joined the hunt for his services including the Braves, Blue Jays, Brewers, Pirates and Diamondbacks.

October 16

According to what Dave Magadan told, he got the sense that neither the Yankees or Mets are in any rush to fill their vacant hitting coach positions. ”I don’t think either one of them is in a huge hurry to make any choices.”

George King and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, first reported that the former Met had been contacted by the Mets, telling them that talks were very preliminary.

This evening a reader emailed me to say that Magadan and Sandy Alderson actually have a history, and not particularly a good one. Sandy fired Magadan when the two were together in San Diego.

After a stint as the Padres’ minor league hitting instructor, Magadan was promoted to the big-league staff a year later as hitting coach for manager Bruce Bochy.

“I’d met with Sandy two weeks before, and he was like, ‘You’re doing a great job. Whatever you need — videotape, whatever it is you need that you feel will enhance what you want to do — let us know, we’ll get it for you.’

“Two weeks later, I was driving home…I don’t even remember what I said. I was in such shock.”

Manager Bruce Bochy was upset and angered by the move. He stormed into the team clubhouse to tell his players that Magadan had just been fired and that he had no part in the decision. That didn’t sit well with team brass.

After being granted permission to look for another opportunity, Bochy left the Padres with one year remaining on his contract to become the manager of the San Francisco Giants.

At the time Magadan was fired, the Padres, played in pitching-friendly Petco Park, were just one game out of first place in the NL West.

Merv Rettenmund replaced Magadan as the Padres hitting coach, but he too was fired mid-season just under a year later. Wally Joyner took over as the new hitting coach, but resigned 14 months later citing a difference in hitting philosophy with Sandy Alderson.


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(Updated) Red Sox Likely Trading Yoenis Cespedes Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:23:19 +0000 yoenis cespedes

Updated at 1:00 PM

MLBTR reports that  Yoenis Cespedes has switched agencies and is now being represented by Roc Nation Sports.  Cespedes had previously been represented by Adam Katz of WMG.

As I said, there’s little chance that Cespedes signs an extension with any team and rest assured he’ll be a free agent after the 2015 season.

Original Post 10:00 AM

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears that the Red Sox will likely make Yoenis Cespedes available this offseason.

Cespedes is in the final year of his deal and will earn $10.2 million in 2015. He appears intent on becoming a free agent and was standoffish on engaging in long-term talks with the Red Sox.

Cafardo adds that Cespedes has no desire to play right field or work on his defense, which is likely fueling Boston’s desire to deal him, especially with a glut of outfielders and Mookie Betts close to an everyday outfield job.

cespedes stats

Hey, I don’t have a problem with Cespedes, but I live in the real world. I’m not buying the buzz that there’s any Mets interest here, especially when you consider the prospects we’d have to give up for what’s essentially a one-year rental.

And in the extremely remote possibility that Cespedes would sign an extension, in what alternate universe will the Mets have the resources to add another $100 million dollar player when they already have David Wright and Curtis Granderson set to earn $36 million combined annually for the next three years?

I just don’t see it.




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Jacob deGrom Named Sporting News Rookie Of The Year Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:22:30 +0000 jacob degrom

Mets rookie starting pitcher Jacob deGrom is considered the heavy favorite to win the 2014 NL Rookie Of the Year award. This was further verified today when the Sporting News announced the results of their annual player’s poll which is released prior to the official award.

I’ll give you the skinny on deGrom’s season, but most of you know the numbers by now.

DeGrom had 22 starts for the Mets this season and pitched 140 1/3 innings to the tune of a 2.69 ERA. Among all starting pitchers with at least 100 innings of work, deGrom ranked 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (9.24) and xFIP (3.03).

“I’m very honored to receive this prestigious award,” deGrom told the Sporting News.

“My teammates were a huge reason for my success. Individual honors are nice but what excites me the most is looking forward to next year and helping the Mets reach the postseason.”

As the Sporting News notes, deGrom was pitching lights out over his last few starts and ended the season on an upward trend. This not only bodes well for next year’s expectations, but also makes the 26 year old Florida native a clear frontrunner for the official award which is announced on November 10th by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Mets and J.P. Ricciardi Working On Extension Deal Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:56:07 +0000 ricciardi

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Mets are working on an extension deal to keep J.P. Ricciardi as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson. The two worked together for 12 years with the Oakland Athletics.

Prior to joining the Mets, Ricciardi previously served as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 until he was fired in 2009 and replaced by Alex Anthopoulos.

Ricciardi is considered by most to be the heir apparent to Alderson once he retires or steps down.


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Mets Will Square Off With Yankees During Spring Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:24:23 +0000 Curtis Granderson - Jeff Roberson-Associated PressFor the first time since 2012, the Mets and Yankees will face each other during Spring Training this year. While the Mets spring training schedule has not been released yet, the Yankees have released there schedule and it features a “Subway Series” matchup down south.

The Yankees will visit Port St. Lucie on March 22nd and the Mets will play in Tampa on March 25th.mmo footer

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How Alderson Stacks Up With Previous GM’s Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:40 +0000 gary-carter-new-york-mets-1 - Copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Kingman (27)

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

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

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

Frank Cashen

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

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

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

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

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

bob scheffing (8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sandy alderson winter meetings

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

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

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

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

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Mets Have Drafted Highest Percentage Of High School Players Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:07:02 +0000 brandon-nimmo-2

According to a new report by Baseball America, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and its bonus pools have created incentives for teams to select high school players early in the draft before spending less in the back half of the top 10 rounds.

They write that 2014 was the most aggressive use of that strategy in the three years under the current CBA.

Nearly half of the high school players drafted in the top 10 rounds (47.1 percent) went in the top two rounds. Leading this trend are the New York Mets.

“No team had high school players comprise a higher percentage of their draft signings than the Mets (35.7 percent), who signed the second-most high school players of any team (10).”

“While more than half of the (57.7 percent) of all high school players that signed were drafted in the top 10 rounds, the Mets drafted all but two of their prep players after the 10th round (third-round shortstop Milton Ramos and eighth-round first baseman Dash Winningham), signing many of them to bonuses exceeding $100,000 such as righthanders Erik Manoah and Gabe Llanes, outfielder Raphael Ramirez and shortstop Dale Burdick. There were 60 prep players who signed after the 10th round, and the Mets drafted eight of them (13.3 percent).”

Actually, the Mets have concentrated most of their top selections on high school players over their last four drafts under Sandy Alderson. And unlike other teams, they have yet to see any of their draft selections debut yet in the majors. However, many of them are highly regarded as prospects.

That should change in 2015 with the expected debut of college catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, and Adam Rubin believes that if everything breaks right, we could see the first high school prospect selected by the Mets, Brandon Nimmo, in September.


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Our Top 5 Underrated Mets Hitting Prospects Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:23:59 +0000 VICENTE LUPO

The top prospects of every minor league system always seem to receive endless amounts of hype. Most of the time this attention is deserved as elite prospects are often potential game changers for their franchises. However, sometimes the prospects that are rarely discussed can make the strongest impact. Mets fans have witnessed this recently with the development of Jacob deGrom and Juan Lagares. Both players were not highly regarded prospects, yet they have emerged into key players at the major league level.

While it is always difficult to predict who the next surprise player like deGrom and Lagares will be, there are numerous underrated prospects in the Mets minor league system that might be able to make a similar impact. Here are the Mets top five underrated position players.

5. Luis Guillorme, SS

Luis Guillorme is the type of prospect that always seems to be overlooked since he does not have any exceptional hitting skills. However, he compensates for this by playing tremendous defense at a key position. The 19 year old short stop is an elite defender due to his excellent range, good hands, and a very strong throwing arm.

Even though some believe Guillorme will not hit enough to start in the majors, his offense is not as weak as many think. While he will not hit for any power, he has showed some promising signs at the plate this season. Guillorme batted .283 with a solid .340 OBP in 274 at bats with the Kingsport Mets. If Guillorme can continue to hit for contact consistently, his defense is good enough to carry him all the way to the majors.

4. Ivan Wilson, CF

On the surface, it seems like Ivan Wilson is not a very impressive prospect. Wilson batted .176 this season for Kingsport, and struck out in 46 percent of his at bats. While these are certainly alarming signs, it is not enough to write him off as a prospect just yet.

Wilson is perhaps the best athlete in the entire system. Wilson has enormous power potential at 6’3” and 220 pounds, and he is also an above average runner. This dangerous combination of power and speed for a centerfielder gives him a high upside and a very promising future. Eventually he will have to translate these raw skills into results, but he still has plenty of time to develop as he is just 19 years old.

3. Jayce Boyd, 1B

Ever since the Mets drafted Jayce Boyd in the 6th round in 2012, he has impressed at every level. Boyd batted .330 with an outstanding .410 OBP last season, and he also had a solid .293 batting average this year in AA. Despite his great overall numbers, many underrated Boyd because of his low home run totals.

Boyd has yet to reach double digit home runs in a single season in the minors, but he has more raw power than his stats indicate. At 6’3” and 185 pounds, he is strong enough to start hitting more home runs.

Another factor to consider is that power is often the last skill that develops for prospects. A recent example of this in the Mets minors is Lucas Duda. Duda struggled to hit for a lot of power early in his minor league career, and he actually posted identical numbers to Boyd. Duda hit just 9 home runs and had.808 OPS in AA, while Boyd hit 8 home runs with a .796 OPS at the same age and level as Duda. It’s not fair to expect Boyd to replicate Duda’s success, but this example is a strong reminder that minor league numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

2. Champ Stuart, CF

While Champ Stuart has started to gain more recognition of late, he still appears to be an unknown for many fans. Stuart is arguably the fastest player in the Mets organization, and he effectively utilizes his elite speed. Stuart stole 29 bases in just 81 games for A-Savannah while only getting caught 4 times. His athleticism also allows him to play excellent defense in centerfield.

Stuart has also made a lot of progress at the plate since the Mets drafted him 2013. Stuart has a decent .251 average and a solid .359 OBP as a professional, which is encouraging considering that he was viewed as a very raw prospect coming out of college.

1. Vicente LupoLF

After an extremely disappointing season in 2013, most people had forgotten about Vicente Lupo. Lupo was one of the Mets top international signings in 2010, and he was often praised for his excellent power and patience at the plate.  Most of this hype disappeared following last season as Lupo batted .220 with just four home runs in 110 at bats for the Gulf Coast League Mets. However, Lupo put together a very strong bounce back campaign this year.

In 133 at bats this for Kingsport, Lupo batted .278 with 7 Home runs and.a 918 OPS. What is most encouraging about his performance is that he made tremendous strides as the season progressed. Lupo was almost unstoppable during the final month of the season where he hit .333 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI.

While there aren’t many people talking about Lupo right now, I expect that to change quickly. Lupo carries a lot of power potential, and he is continuing to make a lot of progress. As he advances to higher levels of the minors, Lupo could emerge into one of the Mets most exciting prospects.

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Should Mets Pursue Nick Markakis? Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:30:03 +0000 markakis

Devin asks…

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

Joe D. replies…

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks and keep those questions coming in.

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MMO Mailbag: Adding A Big Power Bat This Offseason Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:00:30 +0000 matt kemp

Stephen H. asks…

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

Joe D. replies…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mets Road Splits Go To The Heart Of The Matter Sun, 19 Oct 2014 05:00:36 +0000 Mets

The New York Mets have seemingly struggled offensively over the last several years, prompting fans to call for better hitters, and more offense. I know I certainly have. The Mets front office has sometimes responded by signing free agent sluggers like Jason Bay and current Met Curtis Granderson. Two players that both had previously produced near MVP seasons before signing with the Mets. The results have been disappointing to say the least, if not disastrous in Bay’s case.

Why have these sluggers struggled to hit in a Mets uniform? Did they forget how to hold the bat? Have they forgotten to identify the little red dot that appears on the ball when the pitcher throws a slider? Did they lose their bat speed to the point they could no longer catch up to a fastball?

Most likely, it’s none of those particular factors that led to their rapid offensive decline. They both came from AL East teams that play the majority of their games in band boxes like Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, The Rogers Centre in Toronto, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And yes, switching leagues can oftentimes lead to some unfamiliarity among the opposing pitchers. But after taking a look at some of the current Mets road splits this season, it seems as though the problem with Granderson, at least, is the field which he calls home.

Curtis - Granderson

Granderson finished up his inaugural Mets season with some seemingly pedestrian numbers, batting .227 with a .326 on-base and .388 slugging percentage in 654 plate appearances. He was good for 27 doubles, 20 home runs and 66 RBI, but his .714 OPS was an 11-year career low, far below his .830 OPS average in his previous four seasons.

Although the lack of RBIs can be attributed to batting leadoff for the majority of the season. Believe it or not, Granderson’s season graded out as slightly above average with the league wide void of offense. The following numbers are very telling of the effects of Citi Field on Granderson in 2014

Home: .195 AVG, .290 OBP, .340 SLG, 16 2B, 7 HR, 26 RBI, .630 OPS

Road: .261 AVG, .360 OBP, .436 SLG, 11 2B, 13 HR, 40 RBI, .797 OPS

Quite a stark contrast on the road from the numbers he produced at home, and almost twice as many longballs.

No one in their right mind expected Granderson to put up the same gaudy power numbers that he posted in his former home park in the Bronx. A ballpark that even turned Eric Young Jr. into a power hitter for at least one night last May, when he blasted a ball several rows deep into the right field seats.

In a fair home park, it stands to reason that Grandy would’ve probably had between 25-30 home runs this season. His road numbers were actually really impressive compared to the rest of the NL that played a similar schedule away from their home park.

Granderson was a road warrior for the Mets. His 13 road home runs were good for 6th in the NL and tied with none other than Giancarlo Stanton. His 40 RBI, with most of his AB coming right after the pitchers spot, was in the top 15. And he also ranked 13th in runs scored with 42 and 3rd in walks with 45. Granderson was quite a different player on the road than what we saw from him at Citi Field this season.

lucas duda

Only five NL players had more homers on the road this season than Granderson, and one of those five was teammate Lucas Duda, who had more away home runs than all NL hitters with the exception of the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo.

Duda finished the 2014 season with 16 HR away from the unfriendly confines and was quite the road warrior as well, posting a .275/.365/.496 slash with 49 RBI and a .861 OPS.

Those numbers were good for second in home runs and RBI on the road. Considering his struggles against LHP in 2014, there are very few hitters in baseball that fared better versus right-handed pitching than Lucas Duda. Fortunately for the Mets, the big man can hit it out of any stadium, but it sure seems like he lost at least a handful of round trippers in the early part of the season with the wind blowing in at Citi Field in April, May and the early part of June, particularly in the vicinity of right and right-center.

daniel murphy

Duda and Grandy weren’t the only hitters that had increased production away from Citi Field, as Daniel Murphy led the NL in hits on the road, and was the only player in the NL that topped the century mark with 103 base-knocks. Freddie Freeman and Buster Posey finished in a tie for second with 95. Here’s Murphy’s 2014 road stats which are quite impressive:

.322 AVG, .359 OBP, .447 SLG, 21 2B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, .805 OPS

Among all NL hitters with at least 200 road AB, only Buster Posey (.348), and Juan Uribe (.333) had a higher batting average, and only Jonathan Lucroy (34), Adrian Gonzalez (23), and Freddie Freeman (22) had more doubles than Murph.

That level of offensive production from second base, in the current offensive drought that the league is suffering through, is pretty close to irreplaceable. Murphy certainly looked much better defensively at third base, but that’s another story altogether. For yet another comparison, Robinson Cano slashed at .314/.382/.454 for the year.

kitk nieuwenhuis

Travis d’Arnaud (.757 OPS), Eric Campbell (.729), Anthony Recker and EYJ. all fared better on the road, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.975) and Dilson Herrera (1.060) absolutely crushed the ball on the road, albeit, in a limited number of AB. The difference is astounding however, as Kirk had an OPS of .643 at home, and Herrera had pitcher like offensive numbers at Citi with a .326 OPS, again, small sample size.

The 2014 Mets were second on the road, trailing only the star-studded Dodgers, in hits, runs, walks, batting average, and OBP.

They finished third in doubles and RBI behind the Dodgers, and likely NL Champion San Francisco Giants, 4th in OPS and SB, and 7th in HR and OBP on the road, finishing just one HR behind the Colorado Rockies. In short, the Mets were one of the best offensive teams in the National League on the road.

The aforementioned numbers also include some unsightly numbers that our pitchers contributed at the plate – numbers which were historically bad and almost unfathomable.

The Mets played the entire first month of the season without getting a single hit from a pitcher. Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon combined to go 3-for-100 at the plate this season. That is not a typo. That’s right, they hit .030.

Mejia, Matsuzaka, Montero and Torres, unbelievably, were worse, as they contributed ZERO hits in 44 trips to the plate. That’s 3-for-144 (.021 Avg). Even for pitchers, that’s unheard of.

Conversely, the Mets hit .224 in their home park, easily worst in the NL, and only the wildly underachieving Braves and punchless Padres scored less runs than the Mets did at home.

So maybe bringing in the fences is a reasonably good idea. I think our current crop of hitters aren’t nearly as bad as the overall numbers suggest. It stands to reason that if the Mets were at or near the top of almost every offensive category on the road when compared to teams that played similar schedules and under similar conditions, that Citi Field is doing more damage to our offense than the opposing pitchers they are facing. The evidence suggests that bringing in the fences, specifically in right and right-center, is a no-brainer. Thanks for reading and Lets Go Mets.


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Miracle Mets Still A Sore Spot For Frank Robinson Sun, 19 Oct 2014 04:31:11 +0000 gal-shea-seaver-8-jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1969 mets

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