Mets Merized Online Tue, 17 Jan 2017 03:21:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Mets’ First African-American All-Star: Cleon Jones Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:02:57 +0000 all-time-mets-left-field-cleon-jones

Today, when America stops to remember its greatest civil rights leader, we thought it is appropriate to remember Cleon Jones, the team’s first African American All-Star.

Cleon Jones signed with the New York Mets at the age of 20 in 1963, before baseball had initiated the annual amateur draft.  After batting over .300 for both the Carolina League Raleigh Mets and New York–Penn League Auburn Mets, Jones received a September call-up to the major league club, thereby skipping both AA and AAA. Jones had two hits in 15 at-bats for a .133 batting average during his 1963 stint with the New York Mets.

Jones was the team’s starting center fielder in 1966, and had a fine season, batting 275 with eight home runs, 57 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.  Jones was fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting that season.  In 1967, Cleon Jones’ batting average dipped to .246, and he ended up sharing playing time with Larry Stahl. Following the season, the Mets acquired Jones’ childhood friend Tommie Agee from the Chicago White Sox.  With the former gold glover Agee in New York, Jones was moved to left field.

In 1968, Jones had an outstanding season, batting .297 which was a fantastic batting average (sixth in the league) in the Year of the Pitcher.  Jones had 29 doubles, 14 homers and 55 RBIs. His OPS of .793, was 37% better than average.

cleon jones

Building on his wonderful 1968 campaign, Cleon Jones batted Jones was batting .341 with ten home runs and 56 RBIs in the first half of 1969 earning the starting left field job for the  All Star game, ahead of contemporaries such as Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, and Jesus Alou.  In the game, Cleon Jones represented the Mets quite well, going two for four with two runs scored in the NL’s 9–3 victory.

Cleon Jones was the team’s hitting star of the rising Mets, with a team-leading batting average well above .330. The Amazins found themselves in second place, five games back of the Chicago Cubs in the new National League East (1969 was the first year of divisional play in baseball) when the Houston Astros came to Shea Stadium for a July 30 double header.

After losing the first game 16–3, the Mets were down 7–0 in the third inning of the second game when Johnny Edwards hit a double off of Nolan Ryan to Jones in left field to make the score 8–0. Mets manager Gil Hodges emerged from the dugout, walked past Nolan Ryan on the mound, and walked all the way out to left field. A few minutes later, Hodges walked back to the dugout, with Jones a few paces behind him, and replaced Jones in left with Ron Swoboda.

cleon jones world series

Newspapers at the time said Jones suffered a leg injury and he was not in the Mets lineup for several games after July 30. Later accounts say that Jones was removed for failure to hustle, and Hodges decided to do so publicly to show that he would not tolerate lack of effort on his team, even from its star player.

In a 2009 interview, following pre-game ceremonies honoring the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle Mets”, Jones discussed the incident during a telecast of that night’s game. Jones said Hodges asked him why he did not look good going after a fly ball on the previous play. According to Jones, he pointed down to the water-filled turf. Hodges then said that something must be wrong with Jones’s ankle and pulled him for that reason.  Cleon Jones stated he believes that the fear instilled in other players by the incident was the turning point in the season.

As a reminder, in 1969 the Mets rallied to overtake the Cubs, Sweep Hank Aaron and the Braves in the playoffs (Jones batted .459 against Atlanta) and became World Champions by beating the heavily favored Orioles in the World Series with Cleon Jones making the final catch.

Cleon Jones, the Mets’ first African All Star, was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1991 and is one of the eight inductees in the Metsmerized Hall of Fame.

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Josh Edgin’s One-Year Deal Worth $675K Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:20:09 +0000 josh edgin

According to Jon Heyman on Twitter, the deal Josh Edgin signed to avoid arbitration is worth $675,000.

Original Post – Jan 13

The Mets have avoided arbitration with reliever Josh Edgin, agreeing to a one-year contract. The salary is not yet known. MLB Trade Rumors projected in November that he’d make $800,000.

Edgin, 30, had Tommy John Surgery after the 2014 season, missing all of 2015 and most of 2016. He returned to the Mets in August, pitching 10.1 innings over 16 appearances. He posted a 5.23 ERA and while he struck out 11 batters, he also walked six.

The lefty saw his velocity drop some after the surgery, with his fastball now sitting in the low 90s.

In four seasons with the Mets, Edgin has a 3.40 ERA, 8.7 K/9 rate, and a 3.3 BB/9 rate. This was his first year of arbitration eligibility.

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Michael Saunders Closing In On Deal With Phillies Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:51:58 +0000 USP MLB: TORONTO BLUE JAYS AT CLEVELAND INDIANS S BBA USA OH

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network on Twitter, the Philadelphia Phillies and free agent OF Michael Saunders are closing in on a deal.

Saunders, 30, spent the early portion of his career with the Seattle Mariners, but has spent the last two with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Appearing in only nine games for Toronto in 2015, Saunders clubbed 24 homers and drove in 57 runs while receiving regular playing time this past season.

2016 also saw the veteran outfielder hit to a .253/.338/.478 clip which was the best of his career.

Altogether Saunders is a career 8.5 oWAR player, but his defense is where his game suffers, holding a career -3.2 dWAR.

Saunders will join a Phillies outfield that also includes Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and the newly acquired Howie Kendrick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.


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Jose Bautista Close To Re-Signing With The Blue Jays Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:51:08 +0000 Jose Bautista

According to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are in serious discussions for a two-year deal that could be worth approximately $35 million. It was first reported by Jesse Sanchez on Twitter.

Bautista is one of the best free agent hitters on the market, and his signing will presumably clear the way for players like Mark Trumbo and Brandon Moss to work out deals with other teams. If this deal does in fact get done, it will also eliminate one potential landing spot for Jay Bruce.

The Bruce market has been so slow mostly because hitters like Bautista and Trumbo have yet to sign. While this deal would eliminate the Blue Jays as trading partners, other teams linked to Bruce this offseason include the Mariners, Orioles, Phillies, and the Rangers.

In 2016, the 6-time All Star hit .244/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs in 116 games.

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Breakout Prediction: Hansel Robles Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:30:07 +0000 hansel robles

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who says the Mets need to bring in a late-inning reliever to supplement Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia. However, with a recent report saying the Mets want two prospects for Jay Bruce, there is a possibility that they might not bring in a player like that. If that possibility comes to fruition, the Mets have someone I believe could fill that role.

Hansel Robles will have a breakout 2017 season. In 2016, he went 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA, striking out 85 batters in 77.2 innings. Those are average numbers for a reliever, but upon further investigation into his statistics, they show that he could be a lot better. Below are his splits by month:

April: 10.2 IP, 15 Ks, 3 BB, .286 BAA, 1.69 ERA
May: 12.1 IP, 12 Ks, 6 BB, .146 BAA, 5.11 ERA
June: 15.1 IP, 19 Ks, 9 BB, .267 BAA, 2.91 ERA
July: 11.2 IP, 12 Ks, 2 BB, .225 BAA, 0.00 ERA
August: 15.0 IP, 13 Ks, 12 BB, .293 BAA, 9.00 ERA
September: 12.0 IP, 13 Ks, 4 BB, .182 BAA, 0.75 ERA

As you can see, one month he would pitch lights out, and the next he would pitch poorly. However, the reasons he pitches poorly vary. In May, despite a very good .146 BAA, his opponents still managed to score seven earned runs in 12.1 innings off him, due to a whopping five home runs allowed that month. However, in June, despite a high .267 BAA and nine walks in 15.1 innings, he managed to keep his ERA at a respectable 2.91.

What is the cause for his inconsistency? What can Robles to in order to consistently put up numbers like he did last April, July, and September? First of all, he needs to be able to throw his secondary pitches in hitters counts. Here are opponents batting averages against him in hitters’ counts:

0-0: .406 (13-for-32), 4 2B, 1 HR
1-0: .286 (6-for-21), 2 2B, 1 HR
2-0: .000 (0-for-4), 0 2B, 0 HR
2-1: .545 (6-for-11), 3 2B, 1 HR
3-1: .400 (2-for-5), 1 2B, 0 HR

I as a pitcher know the importance of getting a secondary pitch over the plate when the hitter is surely sitting dead red. Smart hitters will take the pitch for a strike, and others will be out in front and hit a weak ground ball. Robles has always had a good slider, and has recently learned a changeup which proved effective (.208 BAA in 2016).

A mark of a good pitcher is the ability to get batters out even after falling behind in the count. If he were to throw his changeup or slider in the above counts instead of fastballs, he would surely enjoy more success.

By the same token, he has shown that he is very good at putting hitters away when ahead in the count:

0-2: .167 (5-for-30), 1 2B, 1 HR, 17 Ks
1-2: .119 (7-for-59), 1 2B, 0 HR, 34 Ks
2-2: .159 (7-for-44), 1 2B, 3 HR, 20 Ks
3-2: .229 (8-for-35), 2 2B, 0 HR, 14 Ks

As you can see, once he is ahead, he has no problem doing away with hitters. However, getting ahead is the hard part, and therein lies another one of his problems. Above, you saw that batters hit .406 on the first pitch with four doubles and a home run. However, if he lived to throw another pitch, here is how batters fared against him, throwing a first pitch strike or a ball:

After 0-1: .189 (28-for-148), 8 2B, 2 HR, 11 BB, 56 Ks
After 1-0: .259 (28-for-108), 6 2B, 4 HR, 25 BB, 29 Ks

As is the case with most pitchers, Robles is much more effective when the first pitch he throws is strike one. So, Hansel Robles must get ahead in the count. If he falls behind, he must trust his slider and changeup. If he does those things, I would expect him to have a standout 2017 and emerge as a very good option for the Mets going forward.

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Jeurys Familia Continues Strong Winter Ball Season Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:00:53 +0000 jeurys familia

New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia has pitched well in the Dominican Winter League playoffs for the Gigantes del Cibao since struggling in his debut.

On Sunday night, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning and picked up the win in the Gigantes’ fourth straight victory. Familia allowed an infielder single, but got an inning ending double play off the bat of Emilio Bonifacio to end the frame.

Familia hasn’t allowed an earned run in six straight appearances after allowing two in his debut. During that span, Familia has given up one unearned run on four hits, one walk and six strikeouts in six innings.

He has now thrown 6.2 innings during winter ball action with the Mets reportedly giving him a ten inning cap when they gave him permissioin to play.

With the four game win streak, the Gigantes are now 8-8 in the first 16 games of an 18 game playoff round robin. They have a one game lead over the Tigres del Licey to move into the next round.

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New-And-Improved Craig Breslow To Hold Showcase Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:00:53 +0000 Craig-Breslow-Greg-M.-Cooper-USA-TODAY-Sports

Journeyman reliever Craig Breslow will be holding a showcase on January 23rd. This is newsworthy because at 36 years-old, he has remade himself.

From 2014 to 2016, Breslow went 2-10 with a 4.93 ERA (5.16 FIP), striking out 90 batters in 133.1 innings. It was after he pitched only 14 innings for the Marlins last year he knew a change had to be made.

With the help of a “Raspodo device,” the lefty has worked at his craft since last season. The device, which he downloaded on his iPad, tracks velocity, total spin, spin efficiency, and tilt axis. The most important change in his mechanics has been the dropping of his arm angle, producing movement on his pitches described as “sick” by a scout.

Since 2005, Breslow has gone 22-29 with a 3.35 ERA (4.06 FIP). In 535.1 innings he has struck out 419 batters and walked 212. However, if he has reinvented himself, his past statistics might not speak much to his future success. He could end up being a very valuable reliever to the team that takes a chance on him, possibly filling the role of a lefty specialist.

The Mets will be attending his showcase, along with the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and more.

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Talkin’ Mets: Klapisch on HOF, Bruce, Mets Rotation and Backman Mon, 16 Jan 2017 02:08:17 +0000 Bonds-Rocket-hof

Tonight I am joined by Bob Klapisch of The Record. Bob gives his thought process behind his Hall-of-Fame ballot. Hear his thoughts on Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and why Curt Schilling shouldn’t be punished by BBWAA voters for his political beliefs.

Bob also gives an update on Jay Bruce, why the Mets rotation will miss Bartolo Colon and the mystery behind the dismissal of Wally Backman.

Follow Bob on Twitter @BobKlap.




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Mets Are Looking For Two Prospects In Exchange For Bruce Sun, 15 Jan 2017 22:15:21 +0000 jay-bruce

According to a report by Philadelphia beat writer Jim Salisbury of, the New York Mets are holding out for two prospects in exchange for outfielder Jay Bruce.

The Phillies, he writes, have had longstanding interest in Bruce, however they are committed to hanging on to their prospects, and feel that they could sign Brandon Moss or Michael Saunders on a short-term deal without having to give up any of their prospects.

Last week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are looking to add a bat to play a corner outfield position or first base and he too mentioned the Phillies had their eyes on Saunders and Moss.

He also added that the Phillies could be interested in a hitter like like Bruce, but they were not interested in moving more than a lower tier prospect for such a hitter.

As long as sluggers like Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista and Mike Napoli remain on the free agent market, it will be difficult for the Mets to deal Bruce, and it does not appear as though Sandy Alderson will simply move his excess corner outfielder is a straight salary dump. Rightfully so.

Incidentally, the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers are still reportedly interested in Bruce.

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Why Isn’t Edgardo Alfonzo in the Mets Hall of Fame? Sun, 15 Jan 2017 21:25:02 +0000 fonzie edgardo alfonzo

Back in 2012, the New York Mets announced their 50th Anniversary Team.  Reviewing the list none of the players named should come as a surprise.  It should come as even less of a surprise that of all the players named to the team, all the retired players have also been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Well, all but one player has.

The greatest second baseman in Mets history, Edgardo Alfonzo, still has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. This despite being retired since 2006 and his big presence in the Mets organization for the past few seasons.  Put another way, this is not a player who has poor ties with the organization and that would be hard to bring back to honor him.  Looking at it from that perspective, it is shocking to say the least that Alfonzo is not in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Judging by WAR alone, Alfonzo is the best middle infielder in Mets history posting a career 29.5 WAR as a Met.  That 29.5 WAR ranks him as the seventh best Met of all time.  That puts him ahead of players like Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and Bud Harrelson, all of whom have already been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  But WAR only tells part of the story of the impact that Fonzie has had on Mets history.

In eight seasons as a New York Met, Alfonzo hit .292/.367/.445 with 120 homers and 538 RBI.  In those eight years, Alfonzo was one of the best Mets to ever put on a uniform.  It’s why he was named as the best second baseman in Mets history.  Naturally, Alfonzo ranks high in the Top 10 in many offensive categories:

  • Games (1,086) – 10th
  • PA (4,449) – 8th
  • AB (3,897) – 9th
  • Runs (614) – 5th
  • Hits (1,136) – 5th
  • Doubles (212) – 6th
  • Homers (120) – 9th
  • XBH (346) – 8th
  • RBI (538) – 7th
  • Average (.292) – tied 5th
  • OBP (.367) – 7th

The advanced numbers paint an even better picture of Alfonzo.  His WAR is fourth best for a Mets position player, second for a Mets infielder, and the best for a Mets middle-infielder.  His 2000 6.4 WAR ranks as the fifth best season by a Mets position player.  His defensive WAR is the sixth best in Mets history, third best by a Mets infielder, and best by a Mets second baseman.  He ranks fifth in runs created, eighth in adjusted batting runs, and eighth in WPA.

Alfonzo led the Mets in runs, hits, and doubles in the 1990s.  In that same decade, he also finished second in games played, at-bats, total bases, and RBI.  In the decade he was also fourth in triples, seventh in homers, eighth in stolen bases, third in walks, and third in batting average.  Arguably, he was the Mets’ best player of the decade.

edgardo alfonzo fonzie

In addition to these numbers, Alfonzo was named to an All Star team (should have been more than the one), won a Silver Slugger, and had three top 15 MVP finishes.  He finished second in Gold Glove voting in 1999 and 2001 as a second baseman.  In 1997, he finished second in Gold Glove voting as a third baseman.  Still, Alfonzo was much more than all of this.

When thinking of Alfonzo it is near impossible to choose just one moment that highlights his career.  You can start with him being part of the greatest defensive infield ever assembled.  In the 1999 Wild Card play-in game, he followed Rickey Henderson‘s leadoff home run with a home run of his own to give Al Leiter all the cushion he needed for the Mets to claim the Wild Card and head to the NLDS.

In Game One of the ’99 NLDS, he would homer off Randy Johnson in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, and then he would hit a grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard in the ninth to break the 4-4 tie.  In the clinching Game 4, he got the Mets on the board with a fourth inning homer off of Brian Anderson.

Alfonzo would come up similarly big in the 2000 NLDS.  In Game 2, with the Mets already down 1-0 in the series, and with Armando Benitez having blown the save, Alfonzo ripped a double down the left field line scoring Lenny Harris.  Lost in the shuffle of that inning was the fact that he had hit a home run in the ninth giving the Mets some much needed insurance runs.  In any event, the RBI double allowed the Mets to tie the series and eventually return to the NLCS for a second consecutive year.  In the 2000 NLCS, Alfonzo was one of a few Mets that probably should have been named the NLCS MVP.  In the five game series, Alfonzo hit an incredible .444/.565/.611 with five runs, a double, a triple, and four RBI.

Unsurprisingly, Alfonzo is the Mets all-time leader in postseason hits, games played, and go-ahead hits.  In fact, four of those hits were in the 7th inning or later.  That is the second best mark in postseason history – not Mets postseason history – all of baseball postseason history.

Speaking of hits, Alfonzo became the first ever Met to go 6-for-6 in a game.  In what ranks as the most impressive hitting display in Mets history, Alfonzo hit three home runs and a double while recording five RBI.  There have been no Mets and only one National League player that has posted a higher game score since 1999.

Somehow, some way none of this has garnered Alfonzo enough support to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  It’s wrong because Alfonzo is not just the best second baseman in Mets history, he is the best middle infielder in Mets history.  He was a pivotal member of two teams that went to the postseason, and he had huge hits on those postseasons.  He has set a number of Mets records.  Overall, there is absolutely no way you can deny that Alfonzo is one of the best players in Mets history.  Accordingly, he deserves enshrinement into the Mets Hall of Fame.

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Where Does The Mets Lineup Stack Up In 2017? Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:42:32 +0000 mets-win-cespedes

Buster Olney, in an article exclusive to ESPN Insiders, concluded his offseason Top 10 feature by ranking the best lineups in major league baseball heading into the 2017 season. The ranking was based on input from executives representing all 30 MLB front offices. This latest entry in this series is entitled: Top MLB Lineups: Which Batting Orders Provide the Most Pop?

I knew right away this was going to be a fun read, one because I would get a comprehensive review of MLB’s top lineups, but also because I expected to see the Mets somewhere in the Top 10. After all, the New York Mets did finish 5th in MLB and 2nd in the NL with 218 home runs. If we’re talking about “pop” that ought to count for something, right? Wrong…

The Mets’ projected lineup for 2017 failed to make the Top 10 and didn’t even get any shade among the six Honorable Mentions.

MLB Top 10 Lineups

1. Boston Red Sox

2. Colorado Rockies

3. Chicago Cubs

4. Houston Astros

5. Seattle Mariners

6. Cleveland Indians

7. Arizona Diamondbacks

8. Washington nationals

9. St. Louis Cardinals

10. Detroit Tigers

Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates

Did I miss something, where are the Mets?

I understand that lists like this are all subjective, but I still find it difficult to believe that 30 MLB executives and Buster Olney couldn’t fit the Mets offense in what essentially is a Top 16. Are the New York Mets really a bottom tier offense?

The Mets head into 2017 with essentially the same exact offense they ended the 2016 season with, and that was an offense that finished the year ranked 26th in Runs Scored, 17th in Slugging Pct., and 17th in OPS.

However, those ranking were greatly impacted by a slew of injuries to 7 of their 8 players in the team’s starting lineup. Only Curtis Granderson was able to avoid the disabled list in 2016. Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes all had a DL stint, while David Wright, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud and Neil Walker missed huge swaths of time and three of them were shutdown for the season.

If you were to look at the Mets’ MLB ranking in Runs Scored by Month, it tells the story of just how impacted the team was by all these injuries, but it also illustrates just how good they were in April, August and September when they were essentially at 80 percent or better strength.

April – 10th

May – 28th

June – 30th

July – 20th

August – 8th

September – 5th

After Cespedes, Reyes and Cabrera all returned from the DL, there was a five week span that began in mid August and lasted through mid September that the Mets were the number one ranked MLB offense in runs scored.

Now I’m pretty certain that injuries were not projected in compiling Olney’s 2017 Lineup Rankings given their unpredictability. So given that, exactly why were the Mets so easily overlooked, especially when you consider how strongly the team performed in the last two months of the season when they were relatively healthy?

Again, I understand that all these lists are very subjective, but give me a break, the Mets deserved a far better showing than what these guys came up with. In my opinion, if the Mets are healthy they are undoubtedly a top ten offense.

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Possible Alternative To Tommy John Surgery Emerging Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:00:16 +0000 sandy alderson matt harvey

Back in 2013, Mets fans were shocked and depressed when Matt Harvey missed the remainder of the regular season with a torn UCL. Initially, it seemed Harvey did not want the surgery, but eventually he agreed to go through with it. Fortunately for Harvey, after a lengthy rehabilitation process with no setbacks, he eventually returned and became an important part of a 2015 rotation that went all the way to the World Series.

While rehabilitating, he worked alongside former Mets starter Jeremy Hefner. In 2012 and 2013, Hefner had performed better than expected with the Mets, and he finally began to fill a flexible role in the organization as a spot starter. The team even tendered him a contract while he was rehabbing from his own Tommy John surgery. However, disaster struck, and Hefner would need yet another Tommy John surgery. He would miss all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Mets would non-tender him, and he eventually agreed to a minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

These are just two of the countless stories we have seen with the Mets when it comes to Tommy John surgery. Not too long ago, we heard how Jacob deGrom learned how to throw the change-up from former Mets ace Johan Santana while he was rehabilitating from his own Tommy John surgery. It was a great story, and it was something that forever changed the trajectory of deGrom’s career. There have been other Mets who have had their careers altered due to the procedure.

At one point in his career, Bobby Parnell was deemed the Mets closer of the future. In 2013, he took over the role and he recorded 22 saves. In 2014, he would be named the Opening Day closer. It lasted all of one inning as Parnell was shut down with elbow pain and was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. He tried to come back in 2015, but he did not have the same velocity and his command had abandoned him. The Mets showed no interest in re-signing him and Parnell ended up signing a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. After six major league appearances that saw him post a 6.75 ERA, Parnell was released that August.

zack wheeler out

Of course, the biggest name with the Mets to have issues post-Tommy John surgery was Zack Wheeler. Right before the 2015 season was set to begin, Wheeler was diagnosed with a torn UCL. He would have the surgery, however his rehab process was fraught with various setbacks. He was initially slated to rejoin the Mets starting rotation around the 2016 All Star break. But instead after beginning a rehab assignment he threw just one inning for Class-A St. Lucie before being shut down for the season. Now, the Mets are discussing whether they should move him to the bullpen for at least the start of the season.

For some pitchers like Hefner, Parnell, and Wheeler, Tommy John Surgery hasn’t gone as smoothly as it has for so many other documented cases. But there now may be a new breakthrough in how orthopedic surgeons go about repairing a torn elbow ligament.

Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Dispatch reports that Cardinals right-hander Seth Maness has undergone a new surgical procedure called “primary repair” which is described as “a repair and buttressing of the existing ligament at the bone, and not the complete reconstruction of the ligament.”

Like Dodgers left-hander Tommy John before him, Seth Maness is now a trailblazer that may have this new surgery named after him. The physician that performed the surgery, Dr. George Paletta, spoke about the procedure saying:

“In select cases of UCL tears, with this technique, they have the real potential to not miss the next year. This is potentially a huge stride forward in three ways. First, early results show a high success rate. Second, a return to play is cut by 40 percent. That’s a huge factor. We are able to accelerate the return-to-throwing (rehab) program for the athletes. With this technique at the end of 2016 we have a pitcher who is ready to pitch in games by opening day.”

“And the third way, as a consequence of this, in the right setting, one would feel more confident moving to surgery early on.”

Believe it or not, Maness is a week away from being able to take the mound after a little more than seven months after the surgery. It is expected the free agent reliever will be ready to pitch on Opening Day. Once he takes the mound, there is going to be a lot of interest in his performance.

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas, another surgeon who performs this surgery and the managing partner at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, AL noted there is now a lot of interest in how Maness performs post-surgery:

“People are watching this and it’s an interesting thing for all of us. There is a lot that we need to learn from Seth, a lot that we need to learn from all of the guys (who have had it). We need the data. There are still so many hurdles to go over, but we’re excited to watch what is going to happen because of what is possible. We’re going to follow him very closely.”

Therein lies the rub. We had gotten to the point with Tommy John surgery where it had felt almost routine; where we looked at pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka and wondered why he just didn’t get the surgery. The “primary repair” or Seth Maness Surgery is far from that point. However, if Maness has a strong 2017 season, and a couple of more pitchers follow his path, and have similar success stories, the treatment for torn UCLs may have been revolutionized.

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Sherman: How Volatile Are The Mets? Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:00:11 +0000 matt-harvey

The New York Mets are a team with many question marks, no doubt. Joel Sherman of the New York Post takes a look at all of the things that could possibly go wrong for the kings of queens in the upcoming season.

The team has high expectations going into the 2017 season as they look to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year for the first time in franchise history. There is no secret that if they get there, it will greatly be due to the ability of their pitching staff, if they are able to stay healthy.

Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler are all working their way back from surgery. Is it possible this is the year though it all comes together? No longer do the Mets have Bartolo Colon‘s rubber arm to lean on as Sherman points out, with Big Sexy having gone to Atlanta.

If any of the rotation goes down, the team does have Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo to look to. Both Gsellman and Lugo performed brilliantly in 2016, helping to keep the Mets in contention in what was an injury ridden season for one of the best rotations in the game. As Sherman points out, the two rookies were 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 15 combined starts.

Wheeler will be the wild card for this team in 2017, not having thrown a major league pitch in two years now. Looking as though he may start the season in the bullpen to ease him back into the game, it will be a big rebuilding season for Zack if he is able to get there.

Harvey will be the staff’s biggest hope. The Dark Knight will look to rise again after a disappointing 2016 season that was shortened due to injury and provided results of a 4-10 record with an ERA of 4.86. Will Harvey be able to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and be the pitcher he once was or will there be more setbacks?

david wright

Like their pitching staff, the offense has many questions as well entering next season. With David Wright, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis d’Arnaud all looking to come back from injuries in 2017, healthy and ready to contribute.

Wright will again be the team’s biggest question mark on the offensive side as the injuries continue to mount for the captain. If injuries arise again due to his back or other nagging issues, retirement may become a very real question for him to consider. Will he be able to get back to contributing on a regular basis, possibly also splitting time at first base with Duda? Wright’s case will be one of the more interesting ones to watch for this upcoming season.

If healthy, Duda can without a doubt be the biggest x-factor for this team, providing some great pop. The Mets lived by the homer in 2016 and Duda would no doubt help add to that plight in 2017. If he is healthy, Duda could also provide great protection to Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup.

The player though with possibly the most on the line next season is d’Arnaud. The team’s catcher who has been unable to prove he is worthy of the starting job after two injury ridden seasons and a particularly poor 2016 campaign. Is this the year he turns it around? Or will we see another season cut short by injury while providing poor production when capable of playing?

The question marks are there, like any team possible of greatness. The Mets are no different. So much can go right and so much can go wrong. That though is what is great about the game of baseball, you just never know what will happen over the course of a 162-game season.

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]]> 0 Vegas Puts Mets at 18-1 Odds To Win World Series Sat, 14 Jan 2017 17:30:31 +0000 i-believe-mets-clinch-fans

Las Vegas put out their odds to win the World Series in 2017 and not surprisingly the Cubs are overwhelming favorites to repeat as champions, at 15-4. The Red Sox follow that at 11-2. Rounding out the top five are the 2016 American League Champion Indians (8-1), the Nationals (10-1) and the Dodgers (14-1). The Mets, coming in 8th at 18-1 odds, also trail the Astros and Giants (15-1 each).

Note: all odds were derived from, and while different sites had different specific odds the Mets were generally between 14 and 18 to one and the Cubs were heavy favorites in all.

Vegas usually has an excellent handle on team’s chances and clearly of all top teams the Mets are the hardest to gauge. There are just too many variables in the starting rotation to make an accurate guess as to where the team will wind up in 2017.

The Mets, for the most part, return an offense which was below average all the way around in 2016. The Mets were 25th in batting average and 26th in runs scored in 2016 and have added no players to improve on those numbers. Instead, they are relying on bounce back year from key underperformers in 2016 (Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto) and hope that other players will be able to stay on the field long enough to contribute (Lucas Duda, David Wright).

Their bullpen has many more questions than answers. The fantastic AddisonReed/JeurysFamilia 8th to 9th inning will be returning, but there is little doubt that Familia will serve some kind of suspension to start the 2017 campaign (think in the neighborhood of 30 games). Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins, the only other consistent arms in the pen from last season, remain unsigned.

There is no left-handed specialist currently on the roster who has had any major league success over a season, and right-hander Hansel Robles showed flashes of potential and other periods of wild inconsistency. Will some pitchers who has success as starters toward the end of the year be converted to the bullpen (Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman?). The bullpen is still a work in progress and hopefully Sandy will have answers to those questions by the time spring training comes around.

So the strength of this team is not with the bats or the depth of the bullpen. It’s with five arms, four of which are coming off injuries. Most of the talk this off season has been positive and the hope is all will be ready by spring training. The Mets need to be cautious with them, but at the same time accept that this window when these pitchers (and the amazing Noah Syndergaard) are under our control is narrow.

In order to challenge the Cubs (and Nationals) we will be relying on these arms. If Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler can come close to putting together 100 starts between them that 18-1 bet will look pretty good.

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MMO Exclusive: Meet Eastern League Batting Champ Phillip Evans Sat, 14 Jan 2017 16:00:33 +0000 philip-evans

Phillip Evans won the batting title on the final day of the Eastern League season in 2016 with a 4 for 6 game that capped an incredible breakout year.

The 24-year old had a career season in 2016 hitting .335/.374/.485 in 96 games for the Double-A Binghamton Mets. He also set career highs in doubles (30), home runs (8), runs scored (53), RBI (41) and OPS (.826).

The right-handed hitting infielder played shortstop (39 games), second base (34) and third base (27) during the past season. The Mets drafted him as a shortstop in the 15th round of the 2011 out of high school.

Evans went to the Puerto Rican Winter League to continue working on his game and did the same thing he did during the regular season with the bat. In 19 winter ball games, Evans hit .311/.386/.446 and walked seven times compared to eight strikeouts.

MMN – Thanks for taking timing to answer my questions and congrats on a great season including the batting title. Let’s start with winter ball since you’re playing right now. How did it come about to play for the Criollos de Caguas? And what was your motivation for doing so?

Phillip – Thank you I appreciate that, it was a very fun season. I actually got the job talking to Joey Cora near the end of our season while he was managing for the Altoona Curve. I asked him if he had any connections with winter ball and he gave his brother Alex Cora a call and asked if they had a spot for me. He called me the next morning and asked if I wanted to play. I was excited to get my foot in the door in winter ball and get some more at bats and stay in baseball shape so I will be ready to go once spring training comes around.

MMN – What was it like playing in Puerto Rico? What level would you say the competition is?

Phillip – It’s a great league, a lot of high level minor league and a few major league guys come down here too stay in shape. I don’t think I can compare it to any exact level but the competition is very tough, great pitchers, great hitters and the intensity of every game is off the charts. It has Playoff atmosphere every game.

MMN – What did you learned from the experience and the coaching staff?

Phillip – Being able to play in a must win atmosphere, and adjusting to the different ways of thinking and approach of the game. Pitching, defense, pace of play, situations etc.

MMN – You had struggled in your minor league career before 2016, what changed for you that made this year so successful?

Phillip – Every player is always developing in this game in some way, mentally or physically. Eventually something just clicks, I don’t think anyone can explain what that “something” is or put a time,date,or place of when that will be, but it clicked for me this year. It just happened to be later in my career.

MMN – What did it feel like to have that breakout year personally?

Phillip – It was an incredible feeling! Playing hard every single game is what I do, Defensively and offensively. It was very rewarding seeing the production that came out of all the ups and downs through the years.

MMN – When did you know you had a chance at the batting title?

Phillip – I’m not exactly sure when I found out I had a chance at it. I just wanted to continue to build off the strong season that I was having, help the team win some more ball games and have some fun.

MMN – You played all over the infield this year, is there a position your more comfortable at and how many gloves do you bring with you?

Phillip – I have been a short stop my entire life, so that’s the most natural. All the other positions have been an easier transition because of that. I bring 3 gloves with me wherever I go.

MMN – Can you talk a little bit about how it is as an infielder to have a defensive whiz at first like Dominic Smith?

Phillip – It’s absolutely amazing! I’m pretty sure the entire infield owes him a few steak dinners. He works hard, but makes it look easy over there. A future multi gold glove award winner and a great all around guy. I’m sure anyone who has played with him or against him will say the same. Love having him on my team.

MMN – What is your approach like at the plate? I’ve noticed that you’ve been walking more in winter ball, is that something you’re working on?

Phillip – My approach is the same as it has always been, aggressive on pitches that I want to hit and do damage with. I have been a little bit more selective during my time in winter ball.

MMN – Last question, what do you think you need to work on this offseason to take the next step in your development towards the ultimate goal of being a major leaguer?

Phillip – I’m going to get stronger, faster, and as lean as possible. Working on my first step and quickness, so I will be able to play at the highest level at any position.

MMN – Thanks again for answering all my questions. Good luck next season.

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Mets Current Payroll and Arbitration Recap Sat, 14 Jan 2017 14:30:00 +0000 jacob degrom

As the deadline for exchanging arbitration figures between the players and their teams came and went on Friday, the New York Mets had themselves quite a busy day.  With eight players still unsigned entering the day, the Mets came to settlements with seven players just before the team’s hard line “File and Trial” deadline.

Jeurys FamiliaMatt HarveyJacob deGromAddison ReedTravis d’Arnaud, and Josh Edgin all agreed to one year deals with the Mets.

However, the team failed to reach an agreement with utility infielder Wilmer Flores and the two sides will face-off in an arbitration hearing sometime in February. The Mets filed a $1.8MM contract while Flores countered with a $2.2MM deal. .

Entering Friday, the Mets had already come to terms with Zack Wheeler at $800K, Lucas Duda at $7.25MM, and Rene Rivera at $1.75MM.

The following chart tabulates all the arbitration figures including each player’s previous salary. Please note that the salary for Edgin is an estimate as his salary was not disclosed on Friday. Also, I went ahead with the higher of the two figures exchanged for Flores.

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As you can see, Jacob deGrom was the biggest winner in arbitration, garnering himself a $3.443MM raise that can grow even higher if he reaches any of his performance bonuses. Jeurys Familia also gets a significant raise even though he has a suspension looming for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

Let’s see how all of this adds up so we can determine where the Mets’ payroll stands at the moment. I’m listing the team’s guaranteed  contracts and I’m going to use a $600K salary for remaining pre-arbitration players.

Arbitration Contracts

10 players totalling $39,125,000 dollars.

Guaranteed Contracts

Yoenis Cespedes – $22,500,000

David Wright – $20,000,000

Neil Walker – $17,200,000

Curtis Granderson – $15,000,000

Jay Bruce – $13,000,000

Asdrubal Cabrera – $8,250,000

Juan Lagares – $4,500,000

Jose Reyes – $507,500

8 players totalling $100,957,500 dollars.

Pre-Arbitration Contracts

Noah Syndergaard

Steven Matz

Hansel Robles

Robert Gsellman

Seth Lugo

Josh Smoker

Michael Conforto

7 players totalling $4,200,000 dollars.

Total Payroll 

When you tally the contracts for all 25 players, the Mets’ current payroll stands at $144,282,500 dollars. Of course there’s still two months until Opening Day and you can bet we’ll have a few changes to roster between now and then.

Sandy Alderson said last month, that his goal is to keep the Opening Day payroll total under $150 million so he still has some wiggle room right now and even moreso if he’s able to deal outfielder Jay Bruce.

I know there’s a bunch of you that really get too hung up on the team’s payroll. But let me remind you that the Mets have gone to the postseason in two consecutive seasons, so Sandy Alderson and his staff have been doing something right with their allotted resources.

This team is never going to spend like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees so get that out of your heads. But as of this writing the Mets rank at No. 12 in payroll according to Spotrac, higher than the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles, three other postseason teams. I can live with that.

Current Mets Payroll:  $144,282,500

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Alderson: Conforto and Rivera to Field New Positions This Spring Sat, 14 Jan 2017 12:30:10 +0000 michael Conforto

While speaking to beat writers on Thursday, General Manager, Sandy Alderson advised that the New York Mets will expose both T.J. Rivera and Michael Conforto to new positions in spring training as reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Alderson confirmed a rumor that many of us believed would happen entering the 2017 season as Conforto will indeed put on a first baseman’s glove at times this spring. Getting the young left-handed hitter some work at first will certainly help his playing time, especially if Jay Bruce is still a Met.

The team needs to find a way to get the 23-year-old Conforto as much playing time as possible in the upcoming season. After a disappointing 2016 that saw Michael go up and down from Las Vegas and New York, he will look to bounce back in a big way.

Conforto struggled mightily last season, working to a .220/.310/.414 batting line to go with 12 homers and 42 RBI in 304 plate appearances. He looked overmatched throughout much of last season but needs to play everyday against both right-handed and left-handed pitching to really see what he is made of.

t.j. rivera

On the flip side, the Mets will take Rivera and give him some time in the outfield this upcoming spring. Rivera could seemingly end up in a super utility role for this team going forward as he has proven with his bat that he is capable of being a contributor at the major league level.

Rivera was as advertised last season, hitting to a .333/.345/.476 batting line with three homers and 16 RBI in 105 plate appearances. Prior to being finally called up, the constant word was that all the 28-year-old Rivera does is hit, which he continued to do once getting the opportunity to grace Citi Field.

It would be quite interesting to see what Rivera could do over a full season. He seemingly has the capability of being a player able to hit for .300 on a regular basis and possibly able to compliment that with 15 homers and 75 RBI over a full season of regular play. Maybe this is a bit crazy to think but he could end up being a Daniel Murphy type player, if given the opportunity.

Spring training is now less than a month away as the team preps itself of what it can expect from it’s players as they ready for the 2017 season. How would you like to see Conforto and Rivera being used going forward? Let us know in the comments below!

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]]> 0 Wilmer Flores, Mets Will Go To Arbitration Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:40:40 +0000 Wilmer slam flores

This The Mets have agreed to sign nine of their ten arbitration-eligible players to contracts. The only one remaining is Wilmer Flores, who according to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, will take the team to an arbitration hearing. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mets have filed at $1.8 million, while Flores is requesting $2.2 million.

The front office took a harder stance on arbitration this offseason, stressing that they are willing to go to a hearing if need be. Sandy Alderson set a 1 p.m. deadline this afternoon to settle with eligible players.

Flores, 25, had the best season of his career in 2016. Settling into a half-time role, Flores slashed .267/.319/.469 with 16 homers and 14 doubles over 335 plate appearances.

The young infielder stuck out for his incredible performance against left-handed pitching. In 107 plate appearances, he hit a jaw-dropping .340/.384/.710 with 11 home runs. He has, however, continued to struggle defensively at some positions.

This is Flores’ first offseason with arbitration eligibility.

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Bruce Could Be A Met in 2017 After All Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:00:36 +0000


It has been mostly a quiet offseason for the New York Mets. After signing Yoenis Cespedes there has been a lull in front office activity by General Manager Sandy Alderson.

One of the biggest stories to follow in the offseason has been whether Alderson will trade an outfielder. Early reports showed that the Mets field calls on both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce. More recently Bruce has been named as the more likely trade bait.

However, on Thursday Alderson told the media that he may keep all his outfielders after all. This means a Mets outfield could consist of Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, Cespedes, Bruce, and Granderson. That leaves out Brandon Nimmo who may need to spend time in Triple-A based on the roster space. That is five players who could start and have started in the past. He admitted that playing time would be an issue if all the outfielders were on the team, but that it could work out.

Bruce was traded to the Mets on August 1 from the Cincinnati Reds where he played his whole career. Bruce was in the midst of one of his best seasons until he was traded to the Mets.

His first month on the Mets was a struggle as he batted .183 with only had two home runs, six runs, and six RBI. When the Mets acquired him, many fans probably expected a large offensive boost as he did come to the team as the National League RBI leader. He also came to the Mets as a hot hitter in July. Aside from his .218 batting average, he had an impressive eight home runs, 21 RBI, and 15 runs.


Bruce did settle in towards the end of the season. In his last eight games he batted .480, hit four home runs, drove in eight RBI, and scored six runs.

New York isn’t the easiest place to play for some major leaguers. Some formerly intimidating hitters have come to the Mets and folded in the New York spotlight.

To see Bruce come around toward the end of the season was promising. Also knowing he won’t have to fill in for Cespedes or carry the team, should lift some pressure off him.

If all the outfielders are kept, the real task will be on Terry Collins and the allocation of playing time that he will give each outfielder. Conforto took a step back last year and playing everyday may be the best option for him. Lagares used to be the Mets starting center fielder and now he may find himself as their fifth outfielder. To give those two time, Bruce and Granderson may be riding the pine for more games than they usually would.

However, if Collins handles the situation correctly it could be a positive. He would be working with three hitters who have combined for 10 seasons of 30 or more home runs, two players who have won Gold Glove Awards, and three All-Stars. Even Conforto who hasn’t yet achieved much has had sparks of brilliance. He was one of the few hitters who produced in the 2015 World Series as he batted .333 with two home runs and four RBI.

The offseason is not over yet and plans change often. The Mets may find themselves with a surplus of outfielders after all, but that is much better than 2013 when Alderson remarked, “Outfield? What outfield? We’re probably gonna have to bring the fences in another 150 feet!”

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Matt Harvey Signs For $5.125 Million, Avoiding Arbitration Fri, 13 Jan 2017 21:45:33 +0000 matt harvey

Matt Harvey and the Mets have agreed to a one-year, $5.125 million contract to avoid arbitration, reports James Wagner of the New York Times. The deal will reportedly include $100,000 in possible performance bonuses. He settled for slightly lower than the $5.325 salary projected by Pace Law School.

Harvey, 27, had a disappointing season with the Mets this year, two years removed from Tommy John Surgery. He went from one of the best starting pitchers in the league to one of the worst, finishing the season with a 4.86 ERA over 92.2 innings. He showed only occasional flashes of brilliance, struggling with command of his pitches all year. His walk, strikeout, and hit rates all worsened.

In July, Harvey underwent season-ending surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, which compresses nerves in the shoulder and neck. So far, the prognosis is good for Harvey, who is on track to return to full health in time for spring training.

In three previous seasons with the Mets, Harvey owned a 2.53 ERA, striking out 449 batters and walking 94 over 427 major league innings.

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Mets, deGrom Forego Arbitration With $4.05 Million Deal Fri, 13 Jan 2017 20:55:02 +0000 jacob degrom

The Mets and ace Jacob deGrom have agreed to a one-year, $4.05 million deal to avoid arbitration, reports ESPN’s Adam Rubin. His contract will also come with performance bonuses. deGrom’s base salary is slightly lower than the $4.225 million projected by Pace.

deGrom had another solid season for the Mets, finishing the year with a 3.04 ERA over 148 innings pitched. He was plagued a bit by fatigue early in the season, watching his velocity drop from 2015. However, he still managed to pitch very well and saw his velocity rise after a few months.

His numbers were slightly worse across the board than 2015, with deGrom seeing a higher ERA (2.54 in 2015), a lower strikeout rate, and a higher walk rate in 2016. Nonetheless, he was still the second-best starter on the team behind Noah Syndergaard.

deGrom’s season came to an abrupt end in September, when he had surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow. He will be ready for the start of camp in February.

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