Mets Merized Online Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:11:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Daisuke Matsuzaka Returns To Japan Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:10:36 +0000 daisuke matsuzaka

According to the Japan Times, right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is returning to Japan after playing six seasons with the Red Sox and the past two seasons with the Mets.

Dice-K, 34, has agreed to a contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, who are the reigning Japanese League champions.

In 41 games including 16 starts, Matsuzaka posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.311 WHIP for the Mets.


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Mets Interested In LH Reliever Craig Breslow Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:38:43 +0000 Craig-Breslow-Greg-M.-Cooper-USA-TODAY-Sports

Sources have told Jon Morosi of Fox Sports that the Mets are interested in free-agent LHP Craig Breslow.

The former Red Sox reliever went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 60 relief appearances in 2014.  Left-handed hitters batted .291 against Breslow last season with a .838 OPS in 118 plate appearances.

However, the 34-year old Breslow did post a 1.81 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2013, so the Mets may be hoping he’s due for a comeback – plus he appears to be the least expensive available option among free-agent lefty relievers.

November 22

The Mets expect to sign or trade for a left-handed reliever by the end of the Winter Meetings, a team source told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

With Josh Edgin already assured of a bullpen role, the Mets are looking for a second lefty to pair with him next season. Reportedly, they are targeting a low cost reliever on a one-year deal and Puma named Phil Coke, Joe Beimel and Craig Breslow as likely options.

Beimel, 37, has been on the Mets radar in the past. Last season, he went 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances for the Mariners. Of the three, I think he’d be the best option.

Adam Rubin also reported that the Mets could consider re-signing Dana Eveland if his elbow proves healthy. Eveland, 31, had a 2.63 ERA in 30 relief appearances for the Mets, striking out 27 and walking six in 27.1 innings pitched. He was released in October to make room on the 40-man roster after being shutdown in September with inflammation in his elbow.

On Thursday, the Mets added Jack Leathersich to the 40 man roster and he is expected to compete for a job in the bullpen this Spring.

There’s always the possibility that the Mets trade for a left-handed reliever as they look to move one of Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.

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What If Sandy Is Blowing Smoke On Flores? Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:32:19 +0000 wilmer-flores

For the better part of two months now, Sandy Alderson has been telling everyone about how impressed he is with Wilmer Flores and the prospect of him being the Mets everyday shortstop next season.

Last week, he said about Flores’ defense that it’s not a disqualifier.

“He did a nice job for us last year. Can he do that on a whole season basis? Offensively he got much better as time went on. I hope it works. I like Wilmer.”

“I think the issue has always been whether he can play defensively adequately or better,” Alderson said. “And a lot of us think he has the ability or the potential to do that.”

Two weeks ago at the GM Meetings. Sandy said Flores compared favorably to any shortstop that is currently available in free agency or trade.

“Wilmer at shortstop is one of those guys that doesn’t pass the eye test but if you start to look at his matrix a little bit you realize there’s maybe a little more there than we give him credit. And offensively there’s as much potential with him as probably anybody that’s available.”

One person who’s not buying any of this is Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio. Bowden has been regularly taking issue on air with Sandy Alderson’s comments on Flores and has called them “a big act,” “blowing smoke,” and a “very nice performance.”

Bowden says it’s all an attempt to gain some leverage because the truth is Sandy is monitoring the shortstop market very closely, is engaged almost daily with many teams regarding their available shortstops, and is even considering last straw options like Stephen Drew if nothing materializes by January.

What do you believe?

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Ambiguity, Interpretations, and Assumptions in Sabermetrics Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:54:13 +0000 simpsons sabermetrics

An MMO Fan Shot by DerpyMets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The denominator is total innings pitched.

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at an example:

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

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

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

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

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

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


xFIP Constant


For Fly balls only




Fly balls + Line drives




Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups




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

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

    flyballs only = xFIPf

    flyballs + line drives = xFIPfl

    flyballs + line drives + pop ups = xFIPflp

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

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

Wait, what?

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

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

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

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




My Gee Stats




Fangraphs Gee Stats




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

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

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

* * * * * * * *

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

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Matt Harvey Feels 100 Percent, Set To Begin Workouts In December Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:31:24 +0000 matt harvey

Matt Harvey appeared on WFAN this morning where he spoke about a number of different team specific topics. as he gets set to make his return this Spring.

The Mets righty feels great and expects to be 100 percent ready when he reports to camp in February. He is preparing to begin his normal offseason routine and expects to be throwing off a mound in December.

“It’s nice going into the offseason as a normal player,” Harvey said. “Spring Training can’t get here quick enough for me.”

“My whole goal is to be able to face hitters in February as soon as I get down to Florida. I haven’t faced any hitters. I haven’t done any batting practice. So I think for me, getting down there, beginning of February, and being ready to go right away to get some hitters in there would be obviously my goal.”

Speaking to reporters at Citi Field last week, Sandy Alderson said that Harvey will be in the rotation “from the get-go,” and not start the season late to try and conserve innings.

The goal is to have him “pitching through entire postseason,” so any innings that will be conserved would be shaved during the season.

Harvey also said he has no concerns about the new outfield wall dimensions at Citi Field.

“If you throw three guys out there and they’re throwing 95-plus mph, to hit a ball out a hitter is going to have to crush it anyway….so I don’t think this changes anything, it’s not going to cause much harm.”

Sandy Alderson said last week, that one of the goals was getting the park out of the hitter’s heads.

“I think so. We are trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation so it’s not something that’s discussed in the clubhouse, in the media, and that it’s no longer something our fans have to talk about.’’

Like most Mets fans, Harvey is looking forward to the return of “Harvey Days” and helping the team get back to their winning ways and into the postseason.


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Mets Announce 2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:49:32 +0000 mets spring training st. lucie

2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates

Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pitchers and catchers report: February 19

First workout: February 21

Position players report: February 24

First full-squad workout: February 26

Grapefruit League play begins: March 4

Manager Terry Collins will hold his First Official Press Conference on February 18. Then after two weeks of throwing, running and fielding drills, physical training, motivational speeches, and some team building events like bowling nights, the Mets will open their 2015 Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday, March 4 vs. the Atlanta Braves in Disney.

The Mets first home game will be Friday, March 6 vs. the American League Central champion Detroit Tigers at 1:10 p.m. in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Mets will play 33 exhibition games, including 15 home games at Tradition Field.

The Mets will host the Yankees in Port St. Lucie on Sunday, March 22 at 1:10 p.m. and will travel to Tampa to take on their cross-town rivals on Wednesday, March 25 at 1:05 p.m. The Mets will also play the Boston Red Sox Sunday, March 8 in Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m.

2015 spring schedule

The Amazins will play the NL East champion Washington Nationals six times, the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals six times, the Miami Marlins six times, the Atlanta Braves four times, the Houston Astros, Tigers, Yankees and Red Sox twice and the Tampa Bay Rays once.

its good to be back spring training

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Sandoval Agrees To Five-Year Deal With Red Sox Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:24:57 +0000 pablo sandoval

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle has confirmed that Pablo Sandoval has agreed to terms on a free-agent contract with the Boston Red Sox, and it should be officially announced very soon pending a physical.

Additionally, Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, has finally acknowledged that the deal with Red Sox is done.

The Red Sox are planning to hold a press conference to announce both Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez on Tuesday.

9:00 AM

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has reported that the Red Sox have come to terms on a five-year deal with Pablo Sandoval that is worth close to $100 million. This story coming the morning after the news broke that the Red Sox will be finalizing a contract with shortstop Hanley Ramirez today.

However, agent Gustavo Vasquez says no agreement has been reached and that his client is still weighing offers, Alex Speier of WEEI reports.

The 28-year old Sandoval is a career .294 hitter while averaging 20 home runs and 86 RBIs. Even more impressive is his .344/.389/.545 career postseason slash line.

He is a three-time World Series champion, in 2010, 2012 and 2014, all with the San Francisco Giants. He took home the MVP honors in the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

On Sunday, the Red Sox inked Hanley Ramirez to a 5-year deal which you can read more about here.

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Latest on Mets SS: Does Bogaerts or Andrus Change Anything? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:12:13 +0000 Xander - Bogaerts (KO)

Xander Bogaerts might be available, but at what cost?

Sandy Alderson told reporters that he is continuing to monitor the market for shortstops although nothing is imminent for now.

“We have several options internally and maybe not all of them are perfect,” Alderson said. “There aren’t a lot of free agent shortstops out there that check all the boxes. There aren’t that many trade possibilities, frankly, that check all the boxes.”

The Mets are reluctant to part with a top prospect like Noah Syndergaard for the likes of a Didi Gregorius or Brad Miller, and rightfully so.

Alexei Ramirez now appears to be a lot less available than what was initially reported, and White Sox GM Rick Hahn said he’s not pursuing a trade.

Xander Bogaerts may suddenly be available according to Joel Sherman, but he adds that it will cost Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler. Still interested?

The Mets can’t afford to take on the contract of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, and they don’t have the bat the Rangers want anyway.

As for the Cubs, Theo Epstein wants to be blown away for All Star shortstop Starlin Castro and top shortstop prospect Addison Russell. We’re talking Jacob deGrom and probably Kevin Plawecki too.

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY speculated that the Mets could just wait until January to see if free agent shortstops like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew can be had at a lower price, and that makes a lot of sense.

But in the end, I still believe that Wilmer Flores will be our Opening Day shortstop. I’d put the odds at 75/25.

The bottom line is the Mets do not have the money for some of the big name shortstops, and are unwilling to part with any of their young pitching for shortstops who may not even offer more offensively than what they already have in Flores.

(Joe D.)

November 16 – Steamer Projections for Shortstop Market

Lets look at the free agent market first because it is very weak and probably not even an option at this point. All the projections shown here are from Steamer Projections. They are all prorated for a 600 at-bat season.

jed lowrie

  • Jed Lowrie32 2B 12 HR, 61 RBI, 88 K, .261/.327/.396, -7.7 FLD, 2.1 WAR
  • Asdrubal Cabrera29 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 108 K, .251/.316/.397, -13.0 FLD, 1.4 WAR
  • Stephen Drew: 26 2B, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 144 K, .218/.294/.352, -2.9 FLD, 0.9 WAR

I don’t see any of these players as options for the Mets, but if I had to choose one it would be Lowrie, he seems like the best all around choice. Cabrera is not a SS anymore and Drew doesn’t put the ball in play enough. Only thing making Drew attractive is he is the best defender of the bunch and might come cheap after a dreadful year.

Now lets take a look at the in-house options we have at SS

  • Wilmer Flores28 2B, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 79 K,  -1.2 FLD, .255/.296/.401, 2.4 WAR
  • Matt Reynolds: 22 2B, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 105 K, 0.0 FLD, .238/.290/.330, 1.1 WAR
  • Ruben Tejada26 2B, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 87 K, -0.4 FLD, .246/.318/.323, 1.5 WAR

Flores is the most likely to happen and he really is the best option despite his defensive issues (which I think are overblown). Take Reynolds’ numbers with a grain of salt because it is tough to project someone with no MLB experience. The ship has obviously sailed but I included him on here to show he could be a useful backup.


Lastly lets look at the vast options the Mets have on the trade market.

  • Brad Miller24 2B, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 112K, 0.0 FLD, .252/.314/.395, 3.2 WAR
  • Chris Taylor27 2B, 5 HR, 62 RBI, 117 K, 1.8 FLD, .261/.323/.354, 2.9 WAR
  • Alexei Ramirez29 2B, 11 HR, 64 RBI, 72 K, 0.8 FLD, .265/.300/.379, 2.2 WAR
  • Starlin Castro: 33 2B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 96 K, -4.6 FLD, .274/.320/.409, 2.2 WAR
  • Didi Gregorius23 2B, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 84 K, 0.5 FLD, .250/.311/.370, 1.8 WAR
  • Xander Bogaerts: 22 2B, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 93 K, 0.3 FLD, .260/.323/.409, 1.8 WAR

I think its very surprising to see Miller at the top with the highest WAR but he had big Minor League slugging numbers and a good 2nd half last year. Taylor is definitely the best fielder of the group, has some speed and walks a good amount. Ramirez is probably the safest bet of them all given his consistency and strong defense, but his low walk totals and age scare me. Castro still has the most potential out of everyone, but will also cost the most in a trade. Didi is good defensively and has the prototypical body for a shortstop, but no one knows if he is going to ever hit at the MLB level.

Projections aren’t an end-all, but its cool to get a basis to work with from some smart baseball people. However, these projections didn’t really change my mind on what I think the Mets should do. I like Flores and think he will be a productive player, but pairing him and Murphy up the middle seems like a bad idea for our pitchers.

When it comes down to cost/risk/potential for me Chris Taylor is the best fit for the Mets. Is he the sexy name like Castro or Ramirez? No, but I think his combination of good defense, speed, and on-base skills make him the best option among free agents. Now the question is what would he cost? How about a package of Jon Niese and Ruben Tejada (Miller stinks against lefties) for Taylor and Charlie Furbush?


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Featured Post: Who Should Be Traded, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:33:34 +0000 dillon gee jonathon niese

I love watching Dillon Gee pitch.  Similarly, I am a fan of Jon Niese.

Although the Mets have been under .500 every season Gee has pitched in the majors, Gee himself has a won-loss record that is six games over .500 and he has never been more than one game under the break-even mark over a full season.  Jonathon Niese, on the other hand, is one of the few Mets left on the team who played at Shea Stadium (David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell are the others, although Murphy and Parnell may not be on this list much longer).  Niese is also the team’s only southpaw on a staff filled with right-handed pitchers.

As much as I enjoy having Gee and Niese on the team, I understand that the starting rotation currently has Bartolo Colon, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom taking up four spots, with Noah Syndergaard waiting in the wings.  Assuming Colon is traded at some point during the 2015 season (if not sooner), Syndergaard would be the obvious choice to replace him in the rotation.  That would leave one of the members of the Gee-Niese duo out of luck and perhaps out of a job in New York.

Knowing full well that either Gee or Niese will not be a Met by this time next year, I decided to see which player the Mets would be better off keeping.  One or both pitchers might be traded if the right deal comes along, but I think one of the two would be better off staying in the Mets’ starting rotation.  Here’s my reasoning for the player I would like to stick around.

Although he has a 3.91 ERA for his career, Dillon Gee has had only one full season in the majors in which he posted an ERA under 4.00.  Advanced metrics also have his lifetime FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) at 4.23.  For all you kids out there, FIP measures how effective a pitcher is at limiting home runs, walks and hit batsmen while causing strikeouts.  Basically, those are the four categories in which fielders do not determine an outcome.  Therefore, Gee’s 4.23 FIP is considered a little higher than what is expected from an average pitcher.

Jonathon Niese has a 3.87 career ERA, but has posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his last three seasons, going under 3.50 in two of the last three campaigns.  But on the FIP side, Niese has a lifetime 3.72 FIP and has posted a FIP under 4.00 in each of his last four seasons.  Niese has walked more batters than Gee, but has hit fewer batters and allowed fewer home runs per nine innings than Gee.  And when it comes to strikeouts, Niese is far superior to Gee, as Niese has surpassed 130 strikeouts in a season four times, while Gee has done it just once.

Speaking of strikeouts, although Niese is just 28 years old (he’s actually six months younger than Dillon Gee), he’s already in the Mets’ all-time top ten in career strikeouts.  Niese’s 713 Ks are tenth on the team’s lifetime leaderboard and he is just one strikeout behind Bobby Jones for ninth place.  Once he passes Jones, the only pitchers in front of him will be Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, Ron Darling, Al Leiter and Jon Matlack.  You may also know that octet as arguably the eight best pitchers in the history of the franchise.   Niese’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.69; 713 K/265 BB) is also far better than Gee’s ratio (2.26; 464 K/205 BB).

Let’s look at another new metric to determine a pitcher’s effectiveness – ERA+.  This metric compares a pitcher’s earned run average to the league average and also accounts for park factors, with 100 being considered an average ERA+.  For example, Citi Field is generally considered a pitcher’s park.  However, Dillon Gee has never posted an ERA+ of 100 in any of his four full seasons.  From 2011 to 2014, Gee has posted a 90 ERA+, with a career-best 98 ERA+ in 2013, which is still 2% worse than the average pitcher.  Meanwhile, Jonathon Niese has a 97 ERA+ since he became a regular in the rotation in 2010.  But since 2012, Niese has a 104 ERA+, making him 4% better than the average pitcher over the last three seasons.  Niese’s career-best performance in this metric came in 2012, when he posted a 112 ERA+.

WAR (wins above replacement) is all the rage in this sabermetric era of baseball.  The higher the WAR, the better the player.  It’s that simple.  Looking at the WAR posted by Gee and Niese since 2011 (the year both pitchers were rotation-mates for the first time), it’s clear which pitcher has been more valuable to the team.  Gee has a 4.5 WAR since 2011, going above 1.0 just once in the four years (2013, when he posted a 2.2 WAR).  In the same time period, Niese has a 6.2 WAR, posting a 3.4 WAR in 2012 and a 1.7 WAR this past season.

WAR.  What is it good for?  For Niese, it might be good for keeping him in New York.

WAR. What is it good for?  For Niese, it might be good for keeping him in NY.

Finally, let’s look at one overlooked, but still important, part of the pitcher’s game – his offense.  When a pitcher comes to bat, he’s not expected to do much.  If there’s a runner on base, he’s expected to bunt him over.  If there’s no one on base, the best a pitcher is expected to do is not get hurt swinging the bat and maybe make the opposing pitcher throw a few extra pitches.  When it comes to proficiency with the bat, there’s no contest between Gee and Niese.

Since becoming a regular in the rotation in 2011, Dillon Gee has a .154 on-base percentage, reaching base 27 times (18 hits, nine walks) in 206 plate appearances.  Meanwhile, since Niese joined the rotation for good in 2010, he has reached base an incredible 66 times (38 hits, 28 walks) in 304 plate appearances, which is a .237 on-base percentage.  Of all pitchers with at least 200 plate appearances since 2010, only Zack Greinke (.274 OBP in 245 PA) and Mike Leake (.261 OBP in 338 PA) have a higher on-base percentage than Jonathon Niese and only Ian Kennedy has drawn more walks (32 BB in 342 PA) than Niese.  Kennedy and Niese are the only pitchers who have walked more than 20 times since 2010.

So let’s review.  Jonathon Niese has a better ERA, ERA+, FIP and WAR than Dillon Gee.  Niese is also much more adept at recording strikeouts than Gee and has a better K/BB ratio.  And while Gee is almost an automatic out with the bat, Niese gives the Mets a ninth hitter in the lineup, reaching base just under a quarter of the time.  Niese isn’t going to break into a home run trot any time soon, but he has proven to be one of the better handlers of the bat among National League pitchers.

Dillon Gee will blow out 29 candles during the first month of the 2015 campaign.  Jonathon Niese will be 28 all season.  Niese has more experience than Gee, having pitched at Shea Stadium.  Niese is also left-handed, something no other starting pitcher on the Mets can claim.  Although Gee is still arbitration eligible and will likely not command more than $5 million in 2015, Niese is due $7 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016, hardly amounts that would break the Wilpon family piggy bank.

If the Mets are going to trade one of their veteran homegrown pitchers before the curtains rise on the 2015 season, it should be clear which one should go.  Although I’ve always enjoyed watching him pitch and still believe he can be successful in New York, Dillon Gee will probably be the victim of an overcrowded starting rotation.  Jonathon Niese, despite all the question marks surrounding his health, has still made at least 24 starts in each of his five full seasons in the majors.  Gee has surpassed 22 starts just twice in his four full seasons with the Mets.  Also, Niese may not always utter the most politically correct statements, especially when it comes to Mets fans’ loyalty, but you can’t say he was pulling things out of his posterior.  If the Mets are going to draw the crowds Niese was used to seeing when he was a neophyte, then the team has to play better.  And right now, I believe the team will perform better with Niese on the team instead of Gee.

Of course, trading Gee or Niese will depend on the package the Mets would receive in return, but if each package was similar and the Mets had an option of trading either player, then that player should be Gee.  The future of the team would look a lot brighter if it held on to Niese.

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MMO Exclusive: Mets Prospect Akeel Morris Reflects On Breakthrough Season Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:22:42 +0000 Morris - Akeel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petey: Being aggressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Akeel: I guess so yeah something like that.

Petey: That’s a four-seam fastball?

Akeel: Yeah I throw a four-seam fastball.

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

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

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

Akeel: Yeah my arm speed is the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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2015 Hall of Fame Ballot Features 17 New Names Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:30:49 +0000 John Preston Hill, Baseball Hall of Fame

The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot was released today featuring 34 players, including 17 holdovers and 17 newcomers. Voting results will be announced on January 6.

The new candidates on the ballot include Cy Young Award winners Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, along with sluggers Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield, two-time batting champion Nomar Garciaparra and closer Troy Percival.

Other first-time candidates include: Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado and Jason Schmidt.

The 17 holdover candidates (with their 2014 election percentages) are: Craig Biggio (74.8%), Mike Piazza (62.2%), Jeff Bagwell (54.3%), Tim Raines (46.1%), Roger Clemens (35.4%), Barry Bonds (34.7%), Lee Smith (29.9%), Curt Schilling (29.2%), Edgar Martinez (25.2%), Alan Trammell (20.8%), Mike Mussina (20.3%), Jeff Kent (15.2%), Fred McGriff (11.7%), Mark McGwire (11.0%), Larry Walker (10.2%), Don Mattingly (8.2%) and Sammy Sosa (7.2%).

There’s a good chance that Piazza can get voted in this time. One voter, Ron Chimelis says he is ready to cast his ballot for Piazza.

“I could keep voting against him while secretly hoping he reaches the needed 75 percent for election. That would get me off the hook without compromising my principles. But I have reached the point where I feel I am stalling. My ambivalent, wait-till-next-year approach to Piazza is the coward’s way out.”


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MMO Mailbag: Where’s The Love For Carlos Torres? Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:25:46 +0000 Carlos - Torres

Adam83 asks…

Every time I read about how great our bullpen is, it’s amazing how often Carlos Torres and the job he did last year is ignored and never mentioned.  Isn’t he just as important to us as Familia and Mejia?  How many long relievers are better?

MMO replies…

Carlos Torres is certainly appreciated within the organization, but I agree he’s not making national headlines and his numbers would suggest he should be.  Torres has quietly provided that insurance arm out of the bullpen who can go long, serve as a specialist or close out games when the regular guy needs a night off.  In the two years he has pitched as a reliever for the Mets, Torres has appeared in 96 games and pitched a total of 128.2 innings.  His 2.73 ERA and 8.04 K’s per nine innings are impressive during that stretch and certainly proved the difference in a number of victories.

During the transition period for the Mets bullpen this season, the team let go of veterans like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde in lieu of the future which included Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia.  Critics argued that Torres was used too much during that time, but Terry Collins often had very few reliable options, which forced his hand in an effort to keep the team in games.  Thankfully, the youngsters emerged and Torres was able to pitch through to the end of the year, healthy.

You can’t blame Collins for his dependence on Torres, considering how often he could induce that much needed double play ball (13 DP in 2014) and bear down with runners on base (25.5 K/9 with runners on base).

The best part compared to his performance is his cost.  Torres made slightly above the league minimum this season and should remain relatively cost effective heading into 2015 which will help the team stay flexible in case other needs arise.

Many of his peers are hard throwers and those players will always garner more attention because they’re more exciting to watch, but Torres has quietly filled the many roles the team has asked him to and done so with a lot of success.  Now, if only the Mets could find a lefty reliever as talented and as cheap as Carlos Torres, than we’d be in business.

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Some Intriguing Rule 5 Draft Prospects Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:18:53 +0000 delino deshields

Delino DeShields Jr. could be a solid Rule 5 selection.

With the Mets 40 man roster currently at full capacity without adding a possible shortstop or left-handed reliever it may seem unlikely they would take someone in the Rule 5 draft. But there are still players on the Mets’ 40 who are very vulnerable starting with Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Dario Alvarez, Cesar Puello, and Gonzalez Germen.

The Mets have actually been fairly active in the Rule 5 draft in recent years albeit they’ve sold their picks the last two years. The Mets’ biggest Rule 5 success is bittersweet because they were smart enough to draft Darren O’Day but not smart enough to keep him.

Now that all teams have made their roster decisions lets take a look at a few players that could possibly help the Mets.

Sean Gilmartin - LHP from the Twins organization that was drafted in the 1st round in 2011. Came to the Twins in a trade with the Braves for Ryan Doumit. He has been almost exclusively a starter in his career but the Mets could use him as a swing-man/second lefty. Pitched in AAA all last year and held lefties to a line of .201/.219/.235, and he allowed just 5 extra base hits in 149 at bats. Here is a scouting report on Gilmartin from Tenth Inning Stretch, “Currently, he is ranked as the Braves’ 10th best prospect for 2014 by Baseball America that also ranks his changeup as the best in the Braves’ system and suggest that he has 4th starter upside.”

Aaron Dott - A LOOGY in the Yankees organization who was great against lefties last year, holding them to a .179/.250/.214 line. FanGraphs said this about him, “Rule 5 madness will be here soon… Name to consider is LHP Aaron Dott, a Double-A Yankees reliever with 14.0 K/9 over last three years vs LHH.”

Mark Montgomery - A right-handed reliever also in the Yankees farm system. Talent isn’t a question here, proven by his career minor league numbers; 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.2 H/9 and a 12.4 SO/9 ratio. Problem has been nagging shoulder injuries that limited him over the last couple of years. Scouting report from Scouting Book, “A stocky righthander who many see as the future closer in the Bronx, Yankee prospect Mark Montgomery was showing off an MLB-quality fastball and slider combination while still in high school.”

David Rollins - Another lefty pitcher who has experience starting and relieving. Was part of the massive 10-player trade in 2012 between the Jays and Astros. Here is a scouting report from Outside Pitch, “He can throw his sinker in the 89-92 mph range and mixes his pitches very well. His slider and changeup have the potential to be solid secondary pitches in the future, but his off-speed command is something he is still improving on.”

Andy Oliver - Keeping with the them of lefty relievers, Oliver is the only one on this list who has already pitched in the Majors with Detroit back in 2010. He was ranked the 87th best prospect in MLB pre-2011 and never even pitched below AA. Had a big strikeout season in 2014 for AAA Indianapolis with 85 in 64 innings. Only allowed 35 hits but also walked 47 batters.

Delino DeShields Jr.- The 8th overall pick from the 2010 draft was rated as the 66th best prospect in MLB pre-2014 by Has played LF, CF, and 2B in the Minors and stole 54 bases last year while hitting .236/.346/.360. Obviously a down year offensively, but not far removed from 2013 when he hit .317/.405/.468 with 51 stolen bases (101 SB in 2012) and 14 triples.

If the Mets do expend a Rule 5 pick I think it will be on someone who can fill the a second lefty role in the bullpen given the current crazy market prices. I mean Zach Duke got an AAV of $5 million a year… I like DeShields and think he could replace Eric Young pretty easily and he actually has some offensive upside.

Problem is the Mets don’t select until 15th and DeShields, Gilmartin, and Montgomery will probably be off the boards by then. Other intriguing players who could be selected in the draft, but don’t fit Mets needs include right-handers Cody Martin, James Needy, Daniel Winkler, outfielders Mel Rojas and Zach Borenstein, catcher Jose Briceno, and infielder Andy Burns.

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Hanley Ramirez Finalizing Five-Year Deal With Red Sox Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:59:05 +0000 Hanley-Ramirez

As reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, free agent Hanley Ramirez will travel to Boston on Monday to finalize a contract with the Boston Red Sox. Rosenthal also noted that the deal is for five years and in the $90 million range.

Over the past week or so, signs have pointed to the Red Sox actively pursuing third basemen Pablo Sandoval. However, this may take them out of that bidding war because Hanley Ramirez could make the move from shortstop to the hot corner, given his age and injury history.

However, some insiders have pointed to the Red Sox trying to sign both free agent stars. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Red Sox have an offer out for Sandoval and he is expected to make his decision sometime this week between the Sox, Giants, and Padres.

ESPN’s Buster Olney adds a different twist and hears that if Ramirez and Sandoval both go to Boston, Ramirez will play left field, while Sandoval will play third base. That would mean top prospect Xander Bogaerts will remain at shortstop.

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Oakland A’s Acquire Ike Davis Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:20:30 +0000 Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

The saga of Ike Davis lives on.  ESPN’s Adam Rubin has reported that the Oakland A’s acquired the former Met from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for International signing money.  This will be the embattled slugger’s third team in less than a year’s time.

A’s GM Billy Beane jumped right away to pick up the first baseman after he was designated for assignment by the Bucs last week. Perhaps he sees some value in the once promising Davis against RHP, he owns a career .357 OBP, .456 SLG and.813 OPS versus righties.

Former Met Andrew Brown, who Oakland claimed last week, was designated for assignment to make room for Davis.

November 21

The Pittsburgh Pirates designated former Mets first basemen Ike Davis for assignment yesterday.  Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, “As we sit here right now, we’ve essentially committed to Pedro over Ike Davis”.

The organization feels the position must be cleared for resident third basemen Pedro Alvarez, who packs an outstanding power bat, but lacks the defensive prowess to stick at the hot corner.  As of now, Davis is searching for his third team in less than a year’s time.

Ike’s fall from grace has been flat out cataclysmic, no?  Look, I’m fully on board with Lucas Duda, but I still hoped Davis would have a good run at it once he got a fresh start.  It just still baffles me to this day every time I see his name in the papers, it’s another step back for him.  This from a player that flashed so much power that vanished in the blink of a collision. Seriously, that’s what it comes down to.  There’s Ike Davis pre-collision and then there’s Ike Davis post-collision.

Suppose I’ll always have a soft spot for Ike because he made the time when he first came up so special to watch.  He hit home runs and made diving catches over the railing at a time when the team was entering it’s darkest hours.  Now, he’s struggling to stay in the major leagues.

I’m sure someone will pick him up, maybe give him a platoon/DH role somewhere in the American League.  He still managed to compile a .343 OBP during his time in Pittsburgh and he has good skills with the glove.

Sandy Alderson, good call on this one.


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Alderson Wanted to Take Citi Field’s Dimensions Out of the Conversation Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:16:39 +0000 sandy alderson

When asked if moving in the fences at Citi Field was a psychological advantage for his hitters as much as a physical one, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that one of the goals was getting the park out of the hitter’s heads.

“I think so. We are trying to take the dimensions of the park out of the conversation so it’s not something that’s discussed in the clubhouse, in the media, and that it’s no longer something our fans have to talk about.’’

“We want the ballpark to be fair, but a few more home runs for us wouldn’t be a bad thing,’’ Alderson said. “A little more scoring is something that most fans enjoy, not all, not baseball purists by any means but there aren’t a lot of baseball purists left.’’

When it was pointed out to Sandy that both World Series teams (San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals) played in big ballparks, the Mets GM countered that both were just wild-card teams. “Playing in a big ballpark is not advantageous across Major League Baseball.”

November 19

The New York Mets announced the new changes to the outfield wall at Citi Field with a media tour led by Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson. The changes affected are located in center to right field ranging from three to 11 feet. All other dimensions will remain the same.

“These modifications are a refinement of previous changes made to the Citi Field fences and continue to be fair to both pitchers and hitters,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.

“A lot of analysis went into this decision. We believe these modifications will increase the number of home runs without adversely affecting our pitchers.”


Alderson told reporters that the new dimensions at Citi Field should closely resemble those of Shea Stadium and that appears to be the case.

Team research showed that had the new dimensions existed last season, the Mets would have hit an additional 17 home runs, while opponents would have hit an extra 10. A net gain of seven home runs.

“The big issue for me really is the differential: How many homers are we hitting and how many are they hitting?” Alderson said. “Last year the differential was [minus-16], and that is significant in terms of wins and losses. We want to change that and we think we can change it with personnel and to some extent these changes in dimensions without really adversely affecting much of our pitching.”

Alderson acknowledged that these new changes will be good for team and make Citi more fan friendly in terms of seeing more home runs.

“It’s not about tailoring the ballpark to a particular player or a particular composition of team, it’s about making Citi Field as fan-friendly and as exciting as we can make it. I think they’ll be good for the game, good for the fans. I’m sure that one or two of our players will benefit as well.”


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Hansel Robles Shined In Relief, Mets Took Notice Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:43:06 +0000 hansel robles

On Thursday, the New York Mets added RHP Hansel Robles to the 40-Man Roster so that he would be protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December. Since then, we’ve had quite a few readers ask us about him in the comment threads and via email. Here’s something our Binghamton beat writer, John Bernhardt, wrote about Robles a few weeks ago. It will give you a glimpse into this exciting talent and why the Mets felt it was important to protect him this week. Joe D. 

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Over the last eight weeks of the minor league season, a new name surfaced as part of the stable of New York Mets pitching prospects. Actually, to be accurate, it’s a name many Met fans already know. It’s this young pitcher’s role that changed and as a result, so too, may have his fortunes.

Hansel Robles is no stranger to Met fans who pay attention to prospects in the minor leagues. In terms of service time with the Mets, Robles reminds you of Wilmer Flores. He’s only 24, but it seems like Robles, who signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic, has been in the Mets minor league pipeline forever.

And, this talented young man is no stranger to some degree of notoriety over his minor league journey. In 2012 pitching in the NY-Penn League, he was nearly unhittable. In 72.2 innings on the hill, the strong righthander racked up a sterling 1.11 ERA while only allowing 47 hits and striking out 66 against only 10 walks. That was good for a ridiculous 0.78 WHIP. Robles struck out 24 percent of opposing batters and walked 3.7 percent. And, Robles counted off 22 scoreless innings and over 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to close out his season.

Robles’s pitching magic seemed to ebb when he reached full season minor league play in 2013. It’s not as if it was bad, but gone was the consistent dominating performances we saw in the NY-Penn League. Compared to that, it was a rather pedestrian performance in Port St. Lucie the following season.

Entering 2014, Robles had always been a starting pitcher his minor league career and for much of last season it was no different in Binghamton. Robles had a spot in Pedro Lopez’s B-Met rotation, but was an enigma of sorts in eighteen starts, often either very effective or otherwise looking like a train wreck.

But sometime in mid July the composition of the Binghamton roster changed. Greg Peavey, Tyler Pill and Matt Bowman were elevated to Triple-A. Cory Mazzoni, Gabriel Ynoa, and Steven Matz joined the B-Met rotation. In a July 19th contest against Trenton, manager Pedro Lopez called for Robles’ services out of the bullpen. It was his first relief appearance of the season and one of only a handful during his minor league career.

Nothing in his first appearance out of the pen served as an omen of what was to come. Robles threw two innings allowing an earned run while walking one and striking out one.

His impact as a relief pitcher began to emerge on August 3rd when in his 4th appearance out of the pen, Robles struck out the side in his inning of work that day and then fanned four more in two perfect innings of relief four days later against Richmond.

Down the homestretch, Robles’ confidence soared. In fact, by the end of the post season Robles was almost emboldened when Lopez would make the call and signal him into a game. Out of the pen, Robles’s fastball jumped up several ticks on the radar gun coming in regularly between 93 and 96 miles per hour and occasionally inching even higher. A sweeping slider in the 84-87 mph range complimented the heater.

Now a lat inning reliever, Robles pounded the strike zone like he had in his NY-Penn days. His issues with yielding extra base hits almost completely evaporated. Most impressive, was the bigger the importance and the higher the stakes, the more dominating Robles became.


What started out as an experiment evolved into a critical component of Binghamton’s Eastern League title run. As impressive outing followed impressive outing, by the post season, it was Lopez’s blueprint to stretch his starters to the point where he could use Robles as a bridge to his B-Met closer Cody Satterwhite. The relief duo rewarded their skipper with 11 innings of scoreless relief, a huge factor in Binghamton’s championship season.

What does it mean? Where does it lead? No one is really certain. Many unanswered questions remain. Can Robles work his relief magic for an entire season and at elevated levels of play? Are two pitches adequate to find success in a major league bullpen? (Robles is also working on a change-up) Can Robles handle back-to-back relief appearances, something he was never asked to do with the B-Mets?

For me the only no-brainer seems to be that with all the young starting pitchers in the Mets youth brigade, it is prudent to continue to develop Hansel Robles as another live arm out of the Met bullpen. Something clicked after this kid was converted to a reliever, he opened a lot of eyes in Binghamton.

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Rays Sign Allan Dykstra To Minor League Contract Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:36:55 +0000 Dykstra

The Tampa Bay Rays signed minor league free agent Allan Dykstra to a minor league contract on Saturday.

Originally a first round pick for the San Diego Padres in 2007, the Mets acquired him in 2011 for minor league reliever Eddie Kunz.

Dykstra spent four seasons with the Mets and always maintained an on-base percentage north of .400 at every level. Last season he batted .280/.426./504 for Triple-A Las Vegas where he made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

I was surprised he never got a cup of coffee with the Mets, considering how often the front office and player development people praised his approach at the plate.

“I was in San Diego when he was drafted,” said Sandy Alderson last season. “A couple of us were involved in trading for him from San Diego to bring him here. He has had a great season, and he has approached the game, offensively, the way the organization hopes to approach the game at the major-league level.”

Dykstra, 27, played mostly first base and should get an opportunity to win a job on the bench this Spring for the Rays.


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Braves Shopping Right-Handed Slugger Justin Upton Sat, 22 Nov 2014 12:00:16 +0000 justin-upton

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Braves are “very much shopping” outfielder Justin Upton and are looking for “a higher return” than they received for Jason Heyward, who they traded to St. Louis earlier this week.

In exchange for Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, Atlanta received 24-year old righthander Shelby Miller plus right-handed pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins.

Upton is a free agent after the 2015 season and is due $14.5 million. What makes him more valuable than Heyward whom he out-homered 29 to 11. Sherman also points out that the only right-handed hitter who had more homers than Upton in the National League was Giancarlo Stanton.

Interest in Upton is described as as significant with the Astros, Mariners and Rangers among interested teams.

MLB Trade Rumors likes what the Braves are trying to do, moving Heyward and Upton for top shelf young pitching and then signing Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas to pair with Evan Gattis and give the Braves a pair of powerful right-handed bats to surround Freddie Freeman.

I strongly doubt that Sandy Alderson will look into Upton, who turned 27 in August, despite reported interest back when he was being shopped by the D’backs. The cost in prospects would be beyond what he’d be willing to move, plus they already made their big outfield move by signing Michael Cuddyer for $21 million.

The Mets could still be in the market for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder, but at a much smaller scale such as for free-agents Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. That would allow the team the flexibility to shift Cuddyer to first base against tough lefties in place of Lucas Duda.

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Mets Killer Adam LaRoche Signs 2-Year Deal With White Sox Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:10:24 +0000 MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals

The Chicago White Sox have signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million deal, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He reportedly turned down a two-year, $20 million offer from the Marlins.

LaRoche, 35, owns a solid .264/.340/.472 slash line over a span of eleven major league seasons, hitting 20+ home runs in all but two of them. He has averaged 26 homers in the last three seasons, however, he owns a meager .204/.284/.336 career slash line against southpaws.

LaRoche will provide a solid platoon option with Jose Abreu at first base where he’s an excellent defender, and will project to see plenty of time at DH as well.


Well, I’m just glad that Adam LaRoche is finally out of the NL East. I always hated facing him as a Brave, and even more so as a National because this dude absolutely demolished Mets pitchers throughout his career. It seemed like every time he faced the Mets, he would make Citi Field look like a band box, launching home runs into the Pepsi Porch.

LaRoche batted .321 with six homers and 18 RBI in 53 at-bats against the Mets in 2014 with a 1.226 OPS. Over his career, he’s hit 29 homers in 139 games against the Mets. The good news for us is we don’t even face the White Sox in 2015… Woohoo!

As for the contract, I think the White Sox made a nice pickup by signing LaRoche. He will be taking his talents to the hitter friendly park that is U.S. Cellular Field, and will provide some solid production in the middle of the White Sox lineup and plus-defense at first when he spells Abreu.

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