Mets Merized Online Mon, 24 Oct 2016 00:23:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sandy Will Have Some Housekeeping To Do Before The Winter Meetings Sun, 23 Oct 2016 22:33:35 +0000 sandy alderson

While it appears the Mets will be in no rush to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes as reported by Jon Heyman, there will be a lot of housekeeping decisions the front office will make as they get ready for a new hot stove season.

The Mets started their march to 2017 by exercising their option on Jose Reyes – a no-brainer for a player who provided some modest production and put a positive charge into the lineup. While the Colorado Rockies remain on the hook for the $41 million still owed to Reyes, the Mets get him for the major league minimum of $507,500.

Another no-brainer was the decision not to pick up Jon Niese’s $10 million dollar option and paying the $500K buyout instead.

The next important decisions facing the Mets is deciding whether to exercise the $13 million option on Jay Bruce and whether they should make a $17.2 million qualifying offer on second baseman Neil Walker.

My guess is that they split the deck and exercise the option on Bruce and not tender a QO to Walker. Bringing back Bruce does two things, it gives them insurance if they can’t bring back Cespedes, and he provides the team with a nice trade asset if Ces comes back. While the team’s financial fortunes have definitely improved, they are still not at a place where they will gamble $17.2 million on Walker’s back surgery.

Two Mets I hope to see back are utility man Kelly Johnson and right-hander Bartolo Colon. Both players have proven to be solid commodities to have on hand and also help keep the bench and clubhouse loose. Neither of them is going to break the bank.

The front office has their hands full with a dozen players eligible for arbitration. Here they are with their updated MLBTR projections:

  1. Josh Edgin - ($500K)  $800,000
  2. Jeurys Familia - ($4.1M)  $8,700,000
  3. Lucas Duda - ($6.725M)  $6,700,000
  4. Matt Harvey - ($4.3M)  $5,200,000
  5. Jacob deGrom - ($600K)  $4,500,000
  6. Rene Rivera - ($1.7M)  $2,200,000
  7. Addison Reed - ($5.2M)  $10,600,000
  8. Wilmer Flores - ($520K)  $1,900,000
  9. Travis d’Arnaud - ($540K)  $1,700,000
  10. Justin Ruggiano - ($180K)  $1,500,000
  11. Jim Henderson - ($507K)  $1,400,000
  12. Zack Wheeler - ($546K)  $1,000,000

Looking at that list I have to figure the only non-tenders will be Justin Ruggiano and Jim Henderson, and I’m not sure what the Mets do with Rene Rivera. I really have it in my mind that Sandy Alderson is going to revamp the catching situation. How exactly, I have no idea, it’s just a hunch.

So before the Mets begin any of their offseason shopping, these are some of the in-house decisions they’ll take care of first. After that it will be onward and upward to quote a phrase.

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Let’s Start At The Very Beginning Sun, 23 Oct 2016 14:54:03 +0000 hodges-snider-stengel

Every Met fan knows that the 1962 Mets were one of the worst teams in baseball history with a 40-120 record. I recall reading many articles stating that everyone knew the team would be awful and that’s why they hired Casey Stengel to divert attention from the team on the field by charming sportswriters with his unique brand of double talk that came to be known as Stengelese.

BUT as someone who was a teenage baseball fanatic at the time, who devoured all those Baseball Preview magazines as well as the sports pages of New York’s seven daily newspapers, I remember that the pre-season outlook for the inaugural edition of the Mets was not nearly so bleak. Most reporters predicted that the Mets would finish at least 8th in the newly formed 10-team National League, ahead of their fellow expansion team, the Houston Colt .45‘s and the woeful Phillies, who had finished 47-107 in 1961. Some prognosticators were so bold as to forecast a 5th place finish for the new New York team, ahead of the Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals as well.

Of course, the National League had shortchanged the two new teams in their expansion draft, with Dodgers’ first baseman Gil Hodges probably the most recognizable name to be selected by the Mets, but Team President George Weiss, who was all-business with a track record of nothing but success as Yankee GM set out to bolster his team by making several deals before spring training.


Of note, slugger Frank Thomas was acquired from the Braves for a player to be named who turned out to be draft pick Gus Bell. Thomas was good for 20 + home runs a year (even without the Polo Grounds’ short left field line to help this right handed pull hitter) and could play outfield, third base, or first, although he was slow-footed and a poor defensive player. Still, he was the cleanup hitter the Mets needed.

Richie Ashburn, a prototype leadoff hitter and quality veteran center fielder was purchased from the Cubs.

Also, the Mets acquired second baseman Charlie Neal from the Dodgers for draft choice Lee Walls and cash. Although Neal had regressed with LA in 1961, the year before he was an All-Star and there was every reason to believe he would be an above-average second baseman.

1962 mets

So, the Mets had added three quality experienced and well-known major league veterans to their regular lineup before they ever took the field. Among the draft picks, young outfielders Joe Christopher and Jim Hickman showed promise and infielders Elio Chacon and Felix Mantilla were competent backups on contending teams, expected to blossom with regular duty.

Pitching looked to be to be a Mets’ weakness, anchored by veteran Dodgers swing man Roger Craig and two touted youngsters, Al Jackson and Jay Hook. Both came from pitching-rich teams, the Pirates and Reds respectively and the feeling was that both were ready for the big leagues with future star potential. Another draft choice, Bob Miller from the Cardinals also seemed promising. But teams can’t succeed with 4-man pitching staffs, so the Mets added veteran free-agents familiar to New York fans like Johnny Antonelli, Clem Labine and Billy Loes as well as young lefty Ken MacKenzie.

1962 mets Gil Hodges 3D

So, while the Mets were no threat to the league’s best, the forecast was for an interesting and somewhat competitive team. Well, they certainly turned out to be interesting, but after getting off to a 0-9 start, it was clear that they wouldn’t be very competitive and changes were in store.

The most obvious shortcoming was the defense. Every player on the team seemed woeful in the field and the few who didn’t quite fit that description would still make the wrong plays at the right time for their opponents to capitalize. The relief pitching was practically non-existent and experienced pros like Hodges and third baseman Don Zimmer were breaking down.

Stengel Casey

If Stengel had any enthusiasm for the team going into the season (although he probably lost it in spring training when he realized he wasn’t managing the Yankees anymore), he soon decided it wasn’t worth it and became a full-time buffoon, napping on the bench during games, and losing interest.

He did manage to continually charm the writers, though, and thus the legend of the 1962 Mets as the most awful but lovable team of all time began.

If you love to read about the nostalgic Mets players and times, please check out my brand new site Mets Memories.

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Would Mets Be Better Off Without David Wright Next Season? Sun, 23 Oct 2016 13:29:06 +0000 david wright 2

As the offseason plans take shape, there is one tremendous question mark upon which the future success of the franchise hinges.  Will David Wright return in 2017 and live out the length of his contract through 2020?

The question is not if he will regain his past All-Star caliber level of performance, that would be unfair to ask of the veteran after last year’s showing. At most, an optimist could only expect him to appear in 100-110 games.  In the small sample we saw in 2016, his once Gold Glove caliber defense was incredibly hampered.  His range was limited, glove was fleeting, and arm was very weak due to his altered lowered arm angle which also decreased not only the crispness of his throws but the accuracy as well.

At the plate, his debilitated condition was even more apparent.  In 137 AB’s, David struck out 55 times.  That is more than once every three times up.  He did, however, maintain his keen eye at the plate, walking 26 times (almost equal to his 31 hits) for a strange AVG/OBP split of .226/.350.

David Wright is due $20 million dollars each season in 2017 and 2018.  He is due an eye popping $67 Million dollars over the final four years of his eight year deal that at the time he signed it was thought to be a sensible home town discount for a healthy franchise player.  What it has become, is something that could cripple a crucial offseason spending plan.

As Joe D laid out here recently in a fantastic off-season payroll plan and projection, David’s $20 Million could end up becoming almost 12% of the Met’s available payroll resources next year despite the fact that he represents 2.5% of the 40 man roster.  If he was his healthy self, continuing what was projected at its infancy to be a prolific career, that sum would not be as frightening.  However, can the Mets afford to invest 12% of their payroll in what is essentially an unknown?

My answer is simple; No.  They cannot.

david wright

If David Wright stays inactive due to his neck and back injuries, the Mets would continue to collect insurance for 75% of his $20 Million and only be on the hook for $5.  If he is activated, however, the Mets cannot collect insurance until he is deactivated for 60 days.  The coverage is not retroactive, so if Wright is is activated for even one game, it could end up costing the Mets approximately 8$ million dollars depending on the payment structure of his contract.

The Mets have some incredibly important decisions to make regarding both qualifying offers for Neil Walker and how they are going to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, who will likely opt out after his strong 2016 instead of staying in his current deal which actually would call for him to take a pay cut.

It is also a valid assumption that Walker will receive a QO.  If so, between Wright, Walker, Flores, Cabrera, and Duda (if he is not non tendered), the WIlpons are looking at the face of a $60 Million dollar infield, without even counting Jose Reyes league minimum salary option that was exercised Friday.

With a third of what are expected to be the available resources being allocated to the infield, a stud young pitching staff climbing the arbitration ranks, and an aging Curtis Granderson due $15 million in 2017,  it leaves little to no room to bring in Cespedes for a figure he will likely demand and deserve.

A little discussed but highly impactful payroll issue occurred at this past trading deadline.  Trading Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce could end up swinging the payroll number $30 million dollars for 2017.  If Bruce is retained at $13 Million, and Walker excepts his QO at $17 Million, you are now carrying two players that would not have been in town in 2017 if Dilson did not depart.

Once again, this hurts the chances of bringing back Cespedes.  An option could be to put the hopes of 2B in the hands of T.J. Rivera after a strong yet extremely limited 2016 campaign, but that would require the Mets to once again be relying on an unproved commodity, which has proved to be dangerous in the past.

The Mets will have much more payroll flexibility and much less roster uncertainty without the Captain.  It is indeed sad but it is indeed true.  The Mets have had a hopeful approach to most injuries in the past and it has not proved successful.  It is time to stop ‘hoping’ and start being practical.

Incredibly, and to the chagrin of the fan base, the Mets organization would likely be better off in the long run if David Wright does not suit up again and retires instead like his friend Michael Cuddyer did last offseason. For his well-being and that of the team he loves.

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Players On the Mets 40 Man Roster Bubble Sat, 22 Oct 2016 18:00:15 +0000 gilmartin-collins

With the Mets losing the Wild Card Game, the front office has the difficult task of assessing what the weaknesses on the roster were and how those spots could be improved. Each player is assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if that player could be a valuable contributor for the 2017 season. If not, it is clear they need to be removed in some way, shape, or form for their valuable roster spot.

Unfortunately, no decision is made in a vacuum. With a team keeping one player, they then potentially put another player’s spot on the 40-man roster in jeopardy. For example, keeping one utility player makes the other utility player less valuable or needed. An additional complication is the Mets have 66 minor league players the team needs to decide if they are worthy of protection or if the Mets should risk losing that player in the Rule 5 Draft. Actually, it is 65 players as the Mets are definitely putting Amed Rosario on the 40 man roster.

At some point, with the Mets adding prospects like Rosario to the 40-man roster, eventually some players currently on the 40 are going to have to be removed to make room.

During the 2016 season, there were players like T.J. Rivera and Josh Smoker who solidified their spot on the 40 man roster. However, there are other players who have given the Mets a reason to designate them for assignment to make room on the roster for a more promising player. Here is a look at those players:

logan verrett


Josh Edgin

Heading into the 2015 season, Edgin was supposed to be the Mets LOOGY for years to come. Those plans changed when he needed Tommy John surgery causing him to miss the entire 2015 season.

He returned in 2016, and he wasn’t the same pitcher having yet to regain his previous velocity. As a result, Edgin got hit around. In AAA, he had a 3.51 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. In his limited stints in the majors, he had a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. Another complication for Edgin is he is arbitration eligible meaning the Mets are presumably going to have to pay him more to keep him on the roster.

On a positive note, Edgin still did get left-handed batters out at the major league level. In a very small sample size (20 plate appearances), lefties only hit .235 off of him with no extra base hits. It is a big reason why he was on the Wild Card Game roster when the Mets faced a San Francisco Giants team stacked with lefties. Between his ability to get lefties out, the hope his arm could improve a second year removed from surgery, and his still having options available, there is still some hope for Edgin.

Sean Gilmartin

Gilmartin has gone from an important bullpen arm the Mets acquired in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft to a player who is seemingly lost his ability to get batters out.

Despite Gilmartin being a valuable long man in the pen, the Mets had him start the year in AAA to become starting pitching depth. In 18 starts and one relief appearance, he was 9-7 with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP. On a couple of occasions, he was recalled, and he pitched exclusively in relief for the Mets. Things did not go well for him in those 14 relief appearances as Gilmartin had a 7.13 ERA and a 1.585 WHIP. Between his performance and his having to go on the minor league disabled list with shoulder soreness, it was a lost year for Gilmartin.

Some of the struggles of Gilmartin were the result of his uneven usage between AAA and the majors. The other issue was his shoulder soreness, which for now, appears to no longer be an issue. Another strong factor in his favor is the fact that he is not yet arbitration eligible meaning the Mets do not have to pay him much to see if he returns to form. His having options available is also a positive. The Mets could still keep him on the roster with the idea of returning him to the role he was most successful.

Erik Goeddel

There is perhaps no Mets pitcher that evokes such split opinions than Goeddel. For years, there were people who saw a pitcher that was able to go out there and get outs. There were others who saw a guy who had fringy stuff that was more the beneficiary of good luck than good pitching. After the 2016 season, most people agree that Goeddel was a liability for the Mets.

In 36 appearances for the Mets, Goeddel had a 4.54 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. It should be noted this was a big departure from how he had previously pitched with the Mets. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had a combined 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. His prior success, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, gives him a chance to remain on the 40 man roster.

jim henderson

Jim Henderson

In April, it would’ve have been blasphemy to suggest Henderson would have been at risk for being taken off the 40 man roster. After that fateful game against the Marlins, it no longer was the case. Henderson lost velocity on his fastball, and he went on an extended trip on the the disabled list to deal with a shoulder impingement.

Despite his hot start, Henderson finished the year with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. If the Mets believe he can regain his April form, they could be inclined to offer him arbitration and keep him on the 40 man roster to start the year in the majors or AAA. If not, he is as good as gone.

Rafael Montero

Saying he is on the bubble is a misnomer. Montero has to be as good as gone from the 40 man roster. Entering the 2016 season, the Mets had it with him, and they sent him a message by making him one of the first people sent down to minor league Spring Training. Montero responded by pitching so poorly in Las Vegas that he was demoted to Binghamton. It was only due a rash of pitching injuries that he got a shot at pitching in the majors again, and like his other opportunities, he squandered that.

Logan Verrett

Strangely enough, the Mets had to make a decision on whether to expose Verrett to the Rule 5 Draft or to remove a player from the 40-man roster to protect him in 2015. The Mets chose the former, and lost him for a period of time. After Verrett struggled with the Rangers, the Mets took him back where Verrett pitched well out of the bullpen and the rotation for the Mets.

The Mets envisioned Verrett succeeding in that role in 2016, but it wasn’t to be. He wasn’t as effective replacing Matt Harvey in the rotation as he was in 2015. He went from a 3.63 ERA as a starter to a 6.45 ERA. He performed so poorly out of the rotation that the Mets gave Montero a chance to start over him down the stretch of the season.

Still, there was a silver lining to Verrett’s 2016 season. In his 23 relief appearances, he had a 2.84 ERA. When you consider his reliever ERA, how well he performed in 2015, his pre-arbitration status, and his having options remaining, there is still a chance for Verrett to remain.

kevin plawecki


Kevin Plawecki

Thinking of Plawecki being on the bubble is a bit odd especially when he is only 25 years old, has shown himself to be a terrific pitch framer, and he has only had 409 plate appearances at the major league level.

The problem there is Plawecki hasn’t hit at all in those 409 plate appearances. In his brief major league career, Plawecki is a .211/.287/.285 hitter. That’s worse than what Rene Rivera could give you, and Rivera has firmly established himself as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher. Worse yet, Plawecki is not the defensive catcher Rivera is.

When you also consider Tomas Nido‘s breakout season in St. Lucie possibly forcing the Mets to protect him a year earlier than anticipated, the Mets are going to be faced with the dilemma of carrying four catchers on their 40 man roster. With Nido perhaps passing him as the catcher of the future, and Travis d’Arnaud having shown he has more offensive ability than Plawecki, it is quite possible, Plawecki could find himself having run out of chances with the Mets organization.

With all that said, it is hard to believe the Mets moving on from Plawecki this soon in his career.

Eric Campbell

For years, the Mets have seemingly valued Campbell’s exit velocity, his defensive versatility, his willingness to do whatever was asked of him, and his willingness to learn different positions to make himself as versatile and useful as possible. It’s one of the reasons why he was on the Opening Day roster, and it is a reason why despite some similarly talented players having surpassed him on the depth chart, Campbell made the Wild Card Game roster.

Overall, the results just aren’t there for Campbell, and he gets worse at the plate every season. In 40 games this year, Campbell hit just .173/.284/.227. Still, with the Mets apparently holding him in higher esteem than the fans, with him still having options remaining, and with him not yet being arbitration eligible, there is still the chance he remains on the 40 man roster.

Ty Kelly

This is an interesting situation for Kelly to be in considering he was signed to be minor league depth last season. With a rash of injuries and some hot hitting in AAA, Kelly finally reached the majors after his long seven year odyssey in the minor leagues.

After some time, the Mets actually discovered who Kelly was. Despite his switch-hitting skills, he really could only hit from the right-hand side against major league pitching. He was versatile, but his best position was left field. Overall, his main asset down the stretch in September was as a pinch runner. With all the said, he did make the Wild Card Game roster, and he got a pinch hit single off Madison Bumgarner.

Basically, all the reasons you can make for him being kept on the roster or being cut from the roster are the same exact things you could say about Campbell. At this point, there is really no telling if the Mets are going to keep both, cut both, or favor one over the other.

Justin Ruggiano

Believe it or not, Ruggiano was a member of the 2016 Mets this past season. In fact, he would play eight games, and he would absolutely annihilate left-handed pitching. While you could easily envision a role for Ruggiano as a platoon outfielder, there are some major hurdles to him remaining on the 40 man roster.

The first is his being out of options meaning if the Mets do not envision him on the Opening Day roster, they are going to have to cut him at some point. The second and most important is the Mets are already bursting at the seams in outfield depth, and that is before you consider the fact the Mets have yet to make a decision on re-signing Yoenis Cespedes. With respect to Ruggiano, it just appears to be a numbers game, and despite what he can do against left-handed pitching, he does not seem long for the roster.


At the moment, the Mets have 46 players (45 once the Jon Niese buyout becomes official) on the 40 man roster meaning there are going to be a lot of tough decisions to be made. Those decisions are made even tougher when you consider the Mets are likely going to want to add somewhere between two to five players from the minor leagues onto the 40 man roster.

The Mets also have Alejandro de Aza, James Loney, Kelly Johnson, Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, Bartolo Colon and Neil Walker who are pending free agents. That knocks the Mets 40-man roster down to 38 and the inevitable Yoenis Cespedes opt out puts it at 37.

Seemingly, the one player who is all but guaranteed to be removed from the roster is Montero. After Montero, Ruggiano seems to be the player most likely to be removed from the roster. The Mets have many either/or decisions, which include, but are not limited to Gilmartin or Verrett, Goeddel or Henderson, and Campbell or Kelly.

Out of all the aforementioned players, the player that seems safest is Plawecki. Still, as we have seen, even those players whose spots are seemingly the safest are all but guaranteed.

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Mets Say There’s No Urgency In Signing Cespedes Sat, 22 Oct 2016 14:48:57 +0000 mets-win-cespedes

The Mets are willing to wait on the Yoenis Cespedes market according to Buster Olney of ESPN Insider . One source told Buster that “there is no urgency” in coming to terms with Cespedes once he opts out of his current deal with the Mets.

Cespedes hit .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, 31 home runs and 86 RBI while posting the highest walk rate (9.4%) of his career. He was limited to 132 games because of right quadriceps injury that placed on him on the disabled list in August. The injury also limited his range on defense in the second half.

Sandy Alderson was patient last year with Cespedes as they signed him in late January to what was essentially a one-year contract worth $27.5 million. The deal does include two more years at $23,750,000 million per, but it’s a forgone conclusion that Cespedes will opt out and test the open market for the second straight offseason.

It will be a strong market for power hitting options with Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran, Mark Trumbo and Justin Turner all being free agents.

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Could Ian Kinsler Be A Fit For The Mets? Sat, 22 Oct 2016 13:26:29 +0000 kinsler

The Mets have many needs this year, and only a few positions to add players. One position in flux is 2nd base. The Mets have the option of using some combination of Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Gavin Cecchini and T.J. Rivera, who all come with risk and uncertainties. Or they have the option of gambling on the balky back of Neil Walker (requiring either $17.2 million qualifying offer, or a long-term commitment). This is where the recent news that Detroit is looking to purge major salary comes into play.

This brings us to Ian Kinsler. For those of you who are unaware of Ian Kinsler, he is a premier second baseman coming off one of the best years of his career at age 34, posting  a 123 wRC+. While some may shy away from a player in his mid 30′s, Kinsler has shown no signs of decline, ranking as an elite defensive player (posting UZR/150 of 7.5, 6.7, 11.2 over the last 3 seasons) while annually putting up a .340+ on-base percentage ( a glaring need for the Mets) and posting a .319 average w/RISP last season (another glaring need for the Mets).


So the question comes down to what will it cost via trade, and in terms of finances. Kinsler is on the back side of a 5 year contract extension that currently has him on the books for $11 million in 2017 with a club option of $10 million for 2018, with a $5 million buyout. So essentially the Mets choose 1 year at $16 million total (cheaper than Walker’s QO) or 2 years at $21 million (cheaper than what Walker’s contract would be if signed). This is a low commitment, high reward scenario for the Mets with minimal risk.

As for the cost in prospects, that may be a determining factor. Reports are that the key is teams willingness to take on full contract requirements of any player Detroit unloads. So it would appear the price in terms of prospects may not be steep. Given that and the affordable contract it’s possible that Kinsler is a perfect fit for the Mets.

It will be interesting to see what route Sandy Alderson goes this offseason, but with a player of Kinsler’s caliber available, with minimal risk involved, it would be wise for Alderson to explore this option. He showed no issue with signing mid 30′s players, as he reportedly offered 4 years to Ben Zobrist just last offseason, and Kinsler is a younger, better all around player compared to Zobrist.

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WOR to Rebroadcast Game 7 of 1986 World Series Fri, 21 Oct 2016 22:46:00 +0000 jesse orosco 1986

According to Joe Curci of WOR, the Gary Thorne and Bob Murphy call of Game 7 from the 1986 World Series will be rebroadcast on 710 WOR next Thursday the 27th.

October 27th is the 30th anniversary of the Mets 8-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7. The Mets famously battled back from being down 3 games to 2 en route to winning their second World Series title in franchise history.

You can also follow along with Game 7 and the games leading up to it by following @TodayIn86Mets on Twitter.

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Mets Want To Bring Back Bartolo Colon Fri, 21 Oct 2016 17:33:54 +0000 bartolo-colon

According to Jon Heyman of FanRags the Mets would like to keep the Major Leagues’ sexiest pitcher in New York for the 2017 season. 

Bartolo Colon, 43, surpassed everyone’s expectations in 2016, going 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA. He tossed 191.2 innings, striking out 128 and walking only 32.

In a year plagued with injuries, he was truly the stalwart the Mets rotation needed. However, going into 2017, the Mets should have seven good young pitchers ready to go, with Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman returning in addition to Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom coming back from surgery.

Despite the plethora of young arms, there is of course that saying “you can never have enough pitching.” Big Bart will probably be paid very well this offseason, as he has more than proven he can pitch effectively despite his age. Over the last three seasons with the Mets (since turning 40) he has won 44 games.

If Colon were to return to the Mets, though, he would probably have to accept a bullpen/spot start role.

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Should the Mets Bring Back Carlos Gomez? Fri, 21 Oct 2016 16:00:41 +0000 carlos gomez

Last year, the Mets quickly moved on from Yoenis Cespedes by agreeing to a one year deal with Alejandro De Aza so he could platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. At the time, the Mets had indicated they were willing to go two to three years for Cespedes, which was aligned with the Sandy Alderson concept of no second generation contracts. This was far short of the six year $132 million contract Cespedes was seeking in free agency.

Due to a number of circumstances, Cespedes never got the contract he wanted. This allowed the Mets a rare opportunity to sign a superstar caliber player on their own terms. Without Jason Heyward or Justin Upton on the free agent market, or really any star outfielders on the free agent market, it does not appear the stars will once again align for the Mets. If they want to retain Cespedes, they are going to have to offer him that big contract he wanted last offseason.

Aside from David Wright, this is not how the Mets do business. Other than Wright, no player entering their age 30+ season has received a five year plus contract offer. With the way the Wright contract has gone, it does not appear the Mets would be willing to change that policy. With that in mind, it appears as if Cespedes will be signing elsewhere this offseason leaving the Mets to once again try to figure out how best to build the team so it can return to the postseason.

One player that could be a potential fit is former Met Carlos Gomez. Ironically, Cespedes was only a Met because Gomez had a hip issue. If not for that, Gomez would be the player entering free agency with the Mets wondering how far they should go to re-sign him.

Cespedes Yoenis

Now, Gomez doesn’t appear to be an obvious fit at the moment. Even if Cespedes does not return, the Mets already have a lot of quality major league outfield depth. Heading into the season, the Mets have, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, and possibly Jay Bruce. It’s going to require a lot of mixing and matching to make sure everyone gets enough playing time to be productive. Why add an outfielder to this mix to further complicate matters?

The easy answer is you want to make the team better, and Gomez does that.

After Gomez seemed lost in Houston, he was released, and he was rejuvenated with the Texas Rangers. In 33 games, Gomez hit .284/.362/.543 with six doubles, eight homers, and 24 RBI. Naturally, many will note not to trust the small sample size. It’s a fair point, but why should you trust the small sample size of Gomez’s time in Houston where he hit .221/.277/.342 with 25 doubles, nine homers, and 42 RBI in 126 games? With that in mind, we should take a broader look at Gomez.

Over the last five seasons, Gomez was a .265/.326/.453 hitter who averaged 26 doubles, 18 homers, and 61 RBI. This is probably a good indication as to where his true talent level is at this point. Still, there is the possibility Gomez is capable of more. He has shown the capacity to hit over 20 homers a season, and he has shown the ability to draw walks.


Then there is the matter of defense. Gomez is still a solid defender despite possibly losing a step in center field. The former Gold Glover has averaged an 8.2 UZR and a 7 DRS in center field. When you couple that with Gomez having a much better bat than Lagares, you have a possible upgrade in center field. With Gomez having experience in both left and right field, the Mets can put out a phenomenal outfield defense late in games to help them protect leads. Keep in mind, that was one of the things the Mets did extremely well in 2015 when they went all the way to the World Series.

As for the rest of the outfield, a Gomez (or Cespedes) signing would force the Mets to put Nimmo in AAA for another season, which isn’t a bad thing for a developing player. Lagares would once again become the late inning defensive option. From there, it gets a little trickier with Bruce, Conforto, and Granderson. One could get traded, one could move to first base, and in the worst case scenario, the Conforto could start the year in AAA until someone gets injured, which as we have seen with the Mets, is likely.

Overall, we know the Mets are too left-handed in the outfield, and they need another right-handed bat. Ideally, that is Cespedes. However, in the event that Cespedes gets that massive contract the Mets aren’t likely to match, the player could be Gomez.

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Mets Bringing Back Reyes, Buying Out Niese Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:42:59 +0000 jose-reyes

The Mets have picked up the Major League minimum option for 2017 on infielder Jose Reyes according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Heyman also reports that the Mets will pay Jon Niese a $500,000 buyout instead of picking up his $10 million option for 2017.

Reyes signed a deal to return to the Mets on June 25th, just two days after the Colorado Rockies released the veteran. Reyes would go on to hit .267/.326/.443 with 13 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and nine stolen bases in eleven chances for the Mets in 2016.

After being traded by the Mets during the offseason to bring in second baseman Neil Walker, Niese was reacquired by the Mets on the August 1st trade deadline in a swap for Antonio Bastardo. Niese pitched eleven ugly innings for the Mets with a 11.45 ERA before suffering a torn meniscus that needed season ending surgery.

Both moves were seen as no-brainers heading into the offseason. Reyes will return as much needed insurance at third base for the health of David Wright. As well as someone who can give veteran Asdrubal Cabrera a break at shortstop.

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Mets Jump 20 Spots in ESPN’s Ultimate Standings Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:30:22 +0000 cespedes-cabrera

For the past 13 years, ESPN has ranked all 122 sports franchises from best to worst according to fan votes. The Mets rose up 20 spots to 82nd overall and 21st in Major League baseball. Atop the list in baseball is the Kansas City Royals (9th overall) and on the bottom is the Oakland Athletics (115th overall).

The ranking is based on the eight categories you see below (1 is best, 122 worst):

Overall: 82
Title track: 67 (+8)
Ownership: 102 (+14)
Coaching: 99 (+4)
Players: 87 (+3)
Fan relations: 87 (+20)
Affordability: 91 (+15)
Stadium Experience: 66 (+3)
Bang for your buck: 46 (+33)
Change from 2015: +20

Not shocking to see that ownership gets the worst rating for the Mets. Bang for your buck saw the biggest change improving by 33 spots from 2015.

The Mets were the second highest rated National League East team behind the Washington Nationals (7th in MLB, 34th overall). Followed by the Philadelphia Phillies (23rd in MLB, 88th overall), then the Miami Marlins (25th in MLB, 91st overall) and lastly the Atlanta Braves (28th in MLB, 104th overall).




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Should the Mets Re-Sign Kelly Johnson? Fri, 21 Oct 2016 11:23:21 +0000 kelly-johnson

For the second straight season the Mets had injuries that led to a shortage of viable options off the bench and found themselves needing to trade for the services of Kelly Johnson.

Johnson was surprisingly even better in his second stint with the Mets hitting .268/.328/.459 with eight doubles, nine home runs and 24 runs knocked in over 201 plate appearances. When the Mets traded Akeel Morris to the Atlanta Braves for Johnson he was struggling mightily with a .215 average and had just one home run.

The veteran utility guy played 26 games at second base, 21 at third base, nine in left field, two at first base and for the second straight year made one appearance at shortstop for the Mets. Although the range is limited he played a solid second and third base that helped deal with the injuries of Neil Walker, David Wright, and Wilmer Flores.

Johnson also had a flair for the dramatic with the Mets this season hitting four pinch hit home runs. Over the last two seasons he’s hit five pinch hit homers in 42 at bats in a Mets uniform.

With Walker possibly moving on and the questions surrounding the health of Wright it would be a good idea for the Mets to re-sign Johnson instead of having to trade for him later in the season.

The last two seasons the Mets have sorely missed a veteran infielder on the bench to start the season. Maybe 2017 will be the year that Kelly Johnson is on the Mets Opening Day roster.

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Good Fundies Episode 25: The 1st Annual Fundies Awards Fri, 21 Oct 2016 02:01:29 +0000 thefundies

Roger and Brian hosted the first ever Fundies awards, celebrating the best and worst and everything in-between of the 2016 Mets season. They also interpreted Wilmer Flores’ enigmatic snapchat pics and talked about the playoffs and the upcoming World Series, which apparently, despite the lack of Mets involvement is still scheduled to take place. In the mailbag, they tried to find a place for eight potential starting pitchers in next year’s rotation. They apologize for their congestion and remind everybody it’s an honor just to be nominated.


iTunes  -  Stitcher  -  Twitter

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Featured Post: Mets Should Follow Trend, Add Dominant Reliever Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:30:15 +0000 wade davis

An offseason ago, the New York Mets had a chance to get involved in the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes. Despite the Cincinnati Reds trading Chapman away for an underwhelming package and despite the bullpen failing the Mets in the 2015 World Series, Sandy Alderson never seemed to seriously get involved. This offseason, the front office should avoid making a mistake like that again.

Let’s preface this discussion with a truth: the Mets have a good bullpen already. Addison Reed was perhaps the best setup man in the NL, while Jeurys Familia led the major league in saves. The middle relief had its ugly moments but was generally reliable this season for Terry Collins.

But all of those truths are related to the regular season, and adding another top-tier bullpen arm is more about the postseason than anything else. With a healthier pitching staff and lineup, the Mets will again be among the top teams in the National League. They should expect to be a playoff team, and therefore, they should build a team that will thrive in the postseason.

There are three main things that adding another top tier bullpen arm does:

1) It shortens the game

Let the 2015 Kansas City Royals and 2016 New York Yankees be your blueprint, but throw in a better starting rotation. Imagine only needing six innings from your All-Star caliber starter and then not missing a beat (or possibly getting better) with three dominant one-inning bullpen arms. It also allows you to bring in one of your guys into a tough spot in the 5th, 6th or 7th inning and still know you have two relief aces in your back pocket. If things get tougher for Mets’ opponents once the starter gets out of the game, then New York is going to pile up a lot of wins.

2) It provides Familia or Reed insurance

As great as Familia and Reed were in 2016, the Mets are one injury or one down year away from having a pretty dicey bullpen situation. So hedge your bets and create a situation where even if one pitcher struggles, the Mets still have two reliable relief arms to turn to. This is especially true for Familia, who has failed in big postseason spots on multiple occasions. If this turns into a trend, it will be important to have several other options to turn to.

3) It allows you to rest relievers and starters

Part of the reason Familia may have struggled in the postseason is that he’s overworked in the regular season. Reed was also less dominant at times in the second half. Having three options instead of two means that even in close games, Collins can give one of his top relievers a night off if he needs to. This will ensure those pitchers are a little more fresh come September and October. And it also allows the Mets to shorten the workload of their starters here and there. Pulling Syndergaard or deGrom after six innings is a lot easier when you don’t have to figure out the seventh in order to get to the eighth. A reliable third reliever will likely save each starter about 10 innings over the course of a season and will have them fresher for the postseason.

So here are a handful of guys the Mets should target in free agency and trades, excluding guys that will likely be out of their price range (ex: impending free agents Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen):

1) Wade Davis: One year left on his deal and coming off an injury-riddled season, Davis could likely be had for less than he’s worth. If healthy, he’s one of the best bullpen arms in baseball. The Royals also appear interested in moving him.

2) Alex Colome: The Rays closer was among the best in baseball last season, as he posted a 1.91 ERA and 11.3 K/9. He’s not a free agent until 2021, but the Rays aren’t too close to contention and could be motivated to move him for the right package.

3) Tyler Thornburg: Basically the same deal as Colome — good closer, bad team and far from free agency (2020). Mets and Brewers had discussed plenty of deals in the past, so it might be easy to to revisit talks.

4) Kyle Barraclough/David Phelps: The Marlins are desperate for starting pitching, and the Mets have a lot of it. Both of these pitchers had over 100 K and a sub-3.00 ERA last season. Could a Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman be enough to lure one from Miami?

5) Brad Hand/Ryan Buchter: The Padres also had a couple of dominant late-inning options last season, and they have been shown in the past to be willing to deal guys like these. They’re also a team looking for starting pitching.

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What Should the Mets Do At Second Base? Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:30:20 +0000 neil walker

One of the many questions that faces Sandy Alderson this offseason is who will be at second base for the New York Mets come Opening Day?

The Mets have a slew of good options they could go with at second. Neil Walker seems to be at the top of the list but is coming off back surgery and could become a free agent.

On paper, it would seem like a no-brainer to give a player coming off arguably the best offensive season of his career a qualifying offer. Walker posted a career best .823 OPS in 2016 while tying a career high with 23 home runs and played a solid defensive second base. However, Walker had back surgery surgery last month and the qualifying offer this year is up to $17.2 million. Making it a tough decision for the Mets front office on whether they should risk that much of their payroll on a 31 year old only two months removed from a major surgery.

Not only did Walker tie a career high in homers but he also posted a career high 9.2% walk rate. According to FanGraphs he was also the Mets most valuable position player this year with a 3.7 fWAR, above the 3.2 fWAR of Yoenis Cespedes.


In the absence of Walker came about the solid major league debut by 27 year old utility guy T.J. Rivera. In 113 plate appearances, Rivera hit .333/.345/.476 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 16 runs driven in. That’s after hitting .324/.371/.434 during his minor league career with the Mets.

That is the good news with Rivera. The bad is that he swung at 44.1% of pitches out of the strike zone in the majors, the fifth highest mark in the majors last year with at least 100 plate appearances. The 44.1% set a new Mets team record (tracked since 2002), passing Rod Barajas‘ 43.8% from 2010. Rivera tied for the third lowest walk percentage in the majors this year at 2.7%, only A.J. Pierzynski and Gerardo Parra walked less often.

Did Rivera have a great first season with the Mets? Of course, but he’s highly unlikely to repeat having an OPS over .800 while barely walking and swinging at everything out of the zone.


The next option for the Mets 2017 second base job is prospect Gavin Cecchini who went 2 for 6 is in his big league cup of coffee this year. Cecchini struggled defensively for the second straight season at the shortstop position making 33 errors this year after 28 in 2015. He did end the season with a 18-game errorless streak at short.

Cecchini also started the transition to second, playing three of his final five minor league games of the year there. Cecchini is currently playing the Arizona Fall League where he’s played one game at second base and three at short. The value for Cecchini comes from the offensive side, in which he’s posted an OPS over .800 two years in a row while striking out only 110 times compared to 90 walks during that span.

The Mets also have Wilmer Flores who continues to get better as hitter, Asdrubal Cabrera who played almost exclusively second base for the Nationals in 2014, Jose Reyes who could become a super utility guy, and then there’s Kelly Johnson who they could look to re-sign.

What happens at second base hinges on many factors including if Cespedes comes back and whether the Mets decide to give Walker a qualifying offer (and his decision on that). If Cespedes returns they could decide to go the cheap route at second base with some combination of Rivera, Cecchini and Johnson.

Whichever the way the Mets decide to go they should have plenty of options on the bench in case the initial starter falters. Who do you think should be the Mets primary second baseman in 2017?

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Tebow Picks Up Second AFL Hit, Molina Sharp Again Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:00:43 +0000 tim-tebow

The Scottsdale Scorpions fell to the Surprise Saguaros by a 2-1 score last night in Arizona Fall League action. It’s the Scorpions fourth straight loss as they drop to 2-6 on the season.

Mets prospect Marcos Molina got the start for the Scorpions and pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, one walk and struck out one (Yoan Moncada swinging). He threw 35 pitches with 22 of them coming for strikes. This was the right-handers second start in the AFL coming off Tommy John surgery last year. He has allowed just one run in five innings.

Tim Tebow started in left field and batted eighth for the Scorpions. He went 1 for 4 with a line drive single to left field off Red Sox lefty prospect Trey Ball. He grounded out in his three other at-bats, but now has hits in back-to-back games. He is 2 for 20 with two walks and seven strikeouts in the AFL.

Mets relief prospect David Roseboom issued a walk and allowed a single in a scoreless eighth inning. He’s now thrown 3.1 scoreless innings this fall while allowing only one hit and striking out three.

In the Mexican Winter League action, Mets minor league catcher Xorge Carrillo went 1 for 4 in the Aguilas de Mexicali’s 2-1 win. He is 5 for 25 with a double, two RBI, and two runs scored in seven winter league games.

Darwin Ramos gave up two runs on three hits and got only one out last night for the Navegantes del Magallanes in their 11-3 loss. The lower level pitching prospect has a 10.80 ERA in 3.1 innings but does have four strikeouts compared to one walk in Venzeulan Winter League action. He pitched the entire 2016 regular season with the Kingsport Mets.

The Dominican Winter League season gets underway tonight with the Aguilas Cibaenas playing the Gigantes del Cibao. Mets outfield prospect John Mora will be playing for the Cibaenas after a disappointing season with the St. Lucie Mets. Tonight he will face off against Phillies pitcher Alec Asher who gets the opening day nod for the Cibao.

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Should Mets Make A Play For Miguel Cabrera? Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:30:38 +0000 miguel-cabrera-1

I’m not totally crazy, I promise. Why would the Tigers trade an 11-time All Star, 4-time AL Batting Champion, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years — Basically, a no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer? Well, I can’t speak for Tigers GM Al Avila. However, I can at least try and convince him, and you, to have an open mind.

Why would the Tigers trade him?

The first question that needs to be addressed is why in the world should the Tigers even consider trading Miguel Cabrera? Speaking to local reporters, Avila said, “We want to get younger. We want to get leaner. We want to run the organization without having to go over our means. We want to stay competitive, but at the same time, this organization has been working way above its means for some time.”

The exigence of the Tigers’ organization can benefit the Mets. Cabrera, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in April next year, has eight years left on his contract. He will be paid $28M in 2017, $30M annually through 2021, then $32M through 2023. He has options for 2024 and 2025, but they only vest if he finishes in the top 10 in MVP voting the year prior, but if they do vest, they include an $8M buyout. He fits the description of the aging, highly paid player the Tigers are looking to shed, but at the same time, he still has value. Why would the Tigers trade him and not some of their other huge contracts?

Let’s look at the other huge contracts the Tigers currently have. Justin Verlander, 33, has four years and $106M left on his contract. He had a great year this year (16-9, 3.04 ERA, 254 Ks), which is exactly why the Tigers won’t trade him yet. After him, Jordan Zimmermann, and Michael Fulmer, they don’t really have much of a starting rotation. Mike Pelfrey started 22 games for them last year, and that says a lot. They do have prospect Daniel Norris who saw some time in the Show this past season, but he is still relatively unproven.

The Tigers will probably be looking to add a starting pitcher this offseason, not trade one. This will probably mean they also retain Jordan Zimmermann, who is only 30 years old and is still under contract for 4 years and $92M. Another huge contract they have is Anibal Sanchez, who still has 2 years and $32.8M on his contract, however it would be very difficult for them to trade him because of his ineffectiveness. From 2015-16, he went 17-23 with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.369 WHIP.

I don’t see the Tigers trading outfielder J.D. Martinez, who is only 29 and is under contract for one year and $11.7M. 29 year-old outfielder Justin Upton still has 4 years and $88M on his contract, but again, he is young. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, 34, just had a phenomenal year, and they still owe him only 2 years and $21M. The only other huge contract they have is 37 year-old Victor Martinez (2 years, $36M), and the trade market for him would be limited to the American League because he can only DH.

So, that eliminates all of the Tigers’ huge contracts other than Miggy, the biggest of all. With those other big bats in their lineup, their offense would be just fine without his production. It seems like if they realistically want to unload a lot of money while bringing in a good haul in return, and remaining serious contenders, trading Miggy would be the way to go.

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What would it take?

So, what would it take to bring him to New York? The Tigers have what is widely considered one of the worst farm systems in baseball. More specifically, they don’t have many if any first base prospects to replace Miggy. If the Mets put together a package with prospect Dominic Smith as the centerpiece, it might get their attention. Smith, 21, is a .296 career minor league hitter and had a phenomenal 2016 in Binghamton, slashing .302/.367/.457 with 14 home runs and 93 RBIs in 130 games.

Just Dominic Smith is obviously not even close to enough. As he might not be totally ready for the bigs, the Tigers might want a stop gap at first base. Enter Lucas Duda, who is only under contract for one more year and will be paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $8M. There has been speculation that Michael Conforto will try his hand at first base this coming spring, and Miggy or not, that would spell less playing time for Duda anyways.

Duda, who hit 57 home runs in 2014-15 but missed most of last season with an injury, could be attractive to the Tigers. All of their starters are right handed (except switch-hitter Victor Martinez), so having Duda’s lefty bat in the lineup would be beneficial to them. He’s only under contract for one year, so he would be a Tiger until Dominic Smith, also a lefty, is ready, either after the 2017 season or, perhaps, at the trade deadline.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Tigers would be in the market for a young starting pitcher. Barring any setbacks, the Mets should come into the spring with a bunch of young healthy starters including Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman. Many fans, including myself, also would love to see Bartolo Colon return to the Mets for 2017. There’s a saying that you can never have enough pitching, however there’s also a saying that you deal from your strengths.

The Mets would certainly love to avoid trading Thor, deGrom, or Matz. Wheeler’s trade value is greatly diminished right now, and Harvey’s is practically non-existent. However, adding 26 year-old Seth Lugo (5-2, 2.67 ERA) or 23 year-old Robert Gsellman (4-2, 2.42 ERA) to the trade package would peak the Tigers’ interest a little more. They both showed that they can be very effective at the Major League level, especially during a Wild Card race. The Tigers have a strong top of their rotation as I mentioned earlier, with Verlander, Zimmermann, Fulmer, and maybe young Daniel Norris, however the fifth spot in that rotation could use a serious upgrade. Again, Mike Pelfrey? Really?

So far, we have a package including Dominic Smith, Lucas Duda, and either Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman. If the Mets were to take on Miggy’s entire contract, the Tigers might ask for less in return because, as Al Avila said, they’re spending too much money. That being said, however, I still don’t think those three players will be enough.

The Tigers could also be in the market for a catcher. Their catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and James McCann hit .171 and .221 respectively in 2016. Travis d’Arnaud, who made only $542k in 2016 and is not in line for a major pay raise, would sweeten the deal some more. While he has seemingly underperformed, his current numbers are better than the Tigers’ 2016 catchers, and his potential would make him more attractive to the Tigers.

So, to recap, the Tigers get Lucas Duda, Dominic Smith, Travis d’Arnaud, Seth Lugo / Robert Gsellman, and most likely a mix of some other prospects. In return, the Mets get Miguel Cabrera and take on most if not all of his contract, and possibly some low-level prospects. This frees up $20M for the Tigers in 2017 and $30M from 2018-2020 While bolstering their farm system some.


Why would the Mets want to do this?

The dude can hit. Like, he’s really good. If you don’t know just how good he is, let me try and articulate it. He is an 11-time All Star and 6-time Silver Slugger. He is a 4-time batting champion and has hit over .300 in all 13 of his full seasons except 2008 when he hit .292. Since 2004, he has averaged 187 hits, 33 home runs, and 115 RBIs a season. He is a career .321/.399/.563 hitter, good for a career .961 OPS, with 446 home runs. In 2012, he hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, winning the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The list goes on and on.

He would make a fantastic addition to the Mets lineup, or any lineup for that matter. He would provide the consistent offense the Mets need while deepening the lineup. Assuming Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce return, the top of the Mets lineup would be quite formidable with Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera at the top with Miggy, Yo, and Bruce behind them. Without considering the financial aspect, the reasons for trading for Miguel Cabrera are obvious. Unfortunately, though, consider the financials we must.

As was stated already, Miggy has 8 years and $212M remaining on his contract. The Mets have been increasing their payroll each season in recent years, so it is logical to assume they could add his contract. If they were to trade Duda and d’Arnaud in this deal, the Mets would “only” be adding $20M for 2017. To relieve that, they could trade Jay Bruce, who is in line to make $13M, assuming the Mets pick up his 2017 option.

The money would obviously be there if Yoenis Cespedes walks and the Mets don’t resign him, however if the Mets were to tell him that he could be hitting behind Miguel Cabrera, that would be an attractive prospect to him. There would be many times that other teams pitch around Cabrera to pitch to Cespedes, creating a lot of RBI opportunities for him.

As for 2018-2020, that’s a different story. 2017 is the last season Curtis Granderson is under contract, so after next year, the $15M he’s being paid will finally be off the books. Asdrubal Cabrera will be paid $8.25M in 2017 and has a $8.5M option for 2018, but that has a $2M buyout. By then, the Mets could have a cheaper option for shortstop, possibly Matt Reynolds or Gavin Cecchini.

As a Mets fan, I don’t like confronting this possibility, but there is also the possibility that David Wright‘s injuries become too much to play through, forcing his retirement. From 2017-20, he is slated to make $20M, $20M, $15M, and $12M. If he opts to retire before the completion of that contract, that would free up a lot of money.

That addresses a bunch of money coming off the books, but there will also be a lot of money coming onto them. The Mets have a lot of home grown pitchers that will eventually have to get paid a lot of money, some sooner than others. Jacob deGrom should see a significant pay raise this year, with Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler eventually following suit. However, we’re talking about a long period of time and pitchers with vast injury histories and major trade value, it’s tough to say exactly what will happen.

Obviously $30M a season is a ton of money. However, Miguel Cabrera is an incredibly durable and consistent hitter who is also widely known to be a fantastic clubhouse personality. Having him around would almost certainly help the development of the Mets’ young hitters, as well as bolster the lineup on a daily basis.

Now, I’m not saying this should happen, per se. However, the fact remains that the Mets want to win now, and the Tigers need to cut commitments. 2015 saw a great deadline deal that worked out very well for both of these teams, when Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Fulmer were swapped. This trade would bring a hitter to New York who would immediately go down as one of the best to ever wear the orange and blue, right up there with Mike Piazza and Willie Mays. Would I do this if I were the Mets GM? Probably not. Will it happen? Probably not — But it’s fun to think about.

Follow me on Twitter @LBarer32

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The Best Last Plane Ride Ever Thu, 20 Oct 2016 11:00:03 +0000 1986 Mets Parade: That's a Roger...

James Blagden is an awesome illustrator and baseball fan.  He takes real accounts of events that occurred in baseball history (example: Dock Ellis talking about throwing a no-hitter while on LSD) and animates it with the narration being heard in the background.  He used his unique talent to capture the flight back to New York after the Mets beat the Houston Astros in six games in the 1986 National League Championship Series.

The series against the Red Sox was so historic that some forget what an extraordinary series the Mets played against the Astros and their world class baseball scuffer extraordinaire Mike Scott.

To make matters worse, Scott had been a Met, a mediocre pitcher from 1979 to 1982 compiling a 14-27 record.  The Mets traded him to the Astros, and mastering the art of scuffing the baseball he went 18-10 with a league leading 2.22 ERA.  He also beat the Mets twice in the series, by scores of 3-1 and 1-0. He actually won the MVP of the NLCS despite the Mets winning the series.

On October 15, 1986 the Mets were leading the series 3-2 but with Mike Scott looming in Game 7, we were trailing the Astros 3-0 in the ninth.  We scored three that inning to tie it then went ahead in the 14th – only to see the freaking Astros tie it.  We came back again and scored three runs in the 16th, but the Astros wouldn’t go quietly. They scored two runs in the bottom of the inning until their luck finally ran out. Jesse Orosco would strike out Kevin Bass with the tying run in scoring position to put us in position for our showdown against the Boston Red Sox.

It was a game for the ages, and James Blagden captured several Mets—Daryl Strawberry, Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra, and Dwight Gooden, discussing the ensuing celebration.  It started in the locker room, poured into the team bus, and settled onto an airplane which would never be flyable again.


That was not a PG team and this is not a video to share with the young kids.  Kevin Mitchell starts it with a laugh as he says, “I don’t think this incident would have happened if it wasn’t for the hard liquor.”

Mr. Blagden captures with streaming animation and sound effects the story as told by those Mets.  So many tales have been told about that Met team, but this really captures the anarchy, fun and rebelliousness of the team and its manager.

Some of the details are fantastic—listening to Doc and Darryl and Nails explain that the plane was split between the brass and the players, with the ‘milk section’ in between, the players that didn’t drink. That entire section was made up of…Mookie Wilson.

The back of the plane?  Whether it was Roger McDowell making a salad (and eating it) off passed out Barry Lyons’ bald head; or the back row of the plane, nicknamed ‘the scum bunch’, which consisted of Danny Heep (who, ironically, we got in the Mike Scott trade), Doug Sisk and Jesse Orosco creating complete anarchy; to the food fight that led to over $100,000 worth of damage to the plane, this was a group that was very resistant to the idea of authority. (And I didn’t mention what they said the wives were doing on the plane…as mentioned, this video is not for the little kids).

And when a furious Frank Cashen handed Davey Johnson a bill for the damage the next day?  Kevin Mitchell reports he was slinking in his locker, only peeking out to see Davey rip up the bill and growl, “You pay it.  They earned it.”

It has been a long 30 years since we Mets fans have been able to celebrate like we did in 1986.  Many of us hoped this would be the year we recaptured the magic.  Without leaning on excuses, certainly injuries and some steps back from our young players kept that from happening.  Maybe 2017 is the year we regain the magic.  Until then check out James Blagden’s great short video “The Best Last Plane Ride Ever” and remember one of the most successful and wildest teams in baseball history.

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Jerry Grote: The Man Behind the Mask Wed, 19 Oct 2016 19:13:04 +0000 jerry grote

On this date in 1965, the Mets acquired catcher Jerry Grote from the Houston Astros for a player to be named later (Tom Parsons) and cash. Grote would become a mainstay behind the plate for 12 seasons with the Mets, helping to nurture a young pitching staff to great heights and guiding the team to two World Series including The Miracle in 1969. A two-time All Star and one of the best defensive catchers in his era, enjoy this wonderful piece on Jerry Grote by John Strubel. – Joe D.

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Winning was Jerry Grote’s bliss. In fact, his most joyous moment on the diamond was captured on film when teammate Jerry Koosman leaped into his arms after the final out of the 1969 World Series.

In 1976, Bob Myrick found out the hard way how Grote felt about losing when the Mets rookie pitcher beat his catcher in a game of Backgammon, causing Grote to explode, sending the board and its pieces across the room with a single swing of the arm.

“I just sat there staring at him – hard,” remembered Myrick. “He got up and picked up all the pieces, and we never had a cross word. He was a perfectionist.”

Grote’s desire to win led to unparalleled intensity on the field. During his 12-year career in New York, teammates labeled Grote surly, irascible, testy and moody. Then, there’s Koosman’s description: “If you looked up red-ass the dictionary, his picture would be in there. Jerry was the guy you wanted on your side, because he’d fight you tooth and nail ‘til death to win a ball game.”

Grote played with an anger and intensity that was, at times, intimidating to opponents, umpires, the media and teammates alike.

“When I came up I was scared to death of him,” said Jon Matlack, winner of the 1972 Rookie of the Year award. “If you bounced a curveball in the dirt, he’d get mad. I worried about him more than the hitter.”

“He could be trouble if you didn’t do what he said,” added former Met Craig Swan. “He wanted you to throw the pitches he called. He made it very simple. I would shake him off now and then, and he would shake his head back at me. If a guy hit a home run off of me, he wouldn’t let me hear the end of it.”

jerry grote catcher

Grote had a special way of letting his pitchers know he wasn’t pleased with a pitch. “Jerry had such a great arm. He could throw with great control and handcuff you in front of your belt buckle,” remembers Koosman.

Grote would get incensed when Jim McAndrew was on the mound. “McAndrew would never challenge hitters according to where Grote wanted the ball; so Grote kept firing it back and handcuffing him in front of the belt buckle, and we would laugh, because we knew what Grote was doing,” said Koosman.

The tactic didn’t go over so well when Koosman pitched. During a game when Koosman was struggling to find his control, Grote began firing the ball at his pitcher’s belt buckle. Koosman called Grote to the mound.

“I told him, ‘If you throw the ball back at me like that one more time I am going to break your f—ing neck,’” Koosman told Peter Golenbeck in Amazin’. “I turned around and walked back to the mound, and he never threw it back at me again. We had great respect for each other after that.”

He took his frustration out on umpires too. Retired umpire Bruce Froemming claims Grote intentionally let a fastball get by him, nearly striking Froemming in the throat. Because they had spent the three previous innings in a non-stop argument, Froemming accused Grote of intentionally moving aside in hope that the pitch would hit the umpire.

“Are you going to throw me out?” snapped Grote.

“He made no attempt to stop that pitch,” Froemming thought. The home plate umpire fumed but realized he had no grounds to toss Grote from the game.

National League umpires were well aware of Grote, and his on-field demeanor. In fact, in 1975, the league was discussing physical contact between catchers and umpires. Jerry Crawford was queried about his unique style of resting a hand between a catcher’s hip and rib cage and he said, “I ask the catcher if it bothers him, and only Jerry Grote has complained.”

“The writers never respected Grote, but they guys who played with him could barely stand him,” said Ron Swoboda. “He was a red-ass Texan who loved to f— with people but who didn’t like anyone to f— with him. It was a one-way street. Grote is Grote, and we would not have been as good without him behind home plate.”

“Grote had a red-ass with the media, but he didn’t care,” added Koosman. “All he cared about was what he did on the field. If you didn’t get your story from what he did out there, you either talked to him nicely or he wasn’t going to give you any more story.”

Grote did not return calls or respond to multiple email requests for an interview for this story.

This is who Jerry Grote is – and the Mets knew it from the day they traded for him for a player to be named later in October 1965.

Grote Ryan

“When we got him, I don’t think anyone else had that big of an opinion of him,” said Bing Devine. “Jerry was withdrawn and had a negative personality, but he knew how to catch a ball game and how to handle pitchers, and maybe that very thing helped him to deal with the pitching staff. He was great. I know he surpassed our expectations.”

He was exactly what the Mets needed to manage a young, extremely talented pitching staff, but he was clearly a handful to manage too.

“If he ever learns to control himself, he might become the best catcher in baseball,” former Mets manager Wes Westrum told the media during Grote’s first season in New York.

Then, in 1968, Gil Hodges arrived. After being briefed on the Mets roster, Hodges said he “did not like some of the things I heard about Jerry. He had a habit of getting into too many arguments with umpires and getting on some of the older players on the club.”

Hodges, known for his firm, but fair, demeanor, took Grote into his office for an attitude adjustment. The Mets manager realized the importance of Grote’s talents and how it would affect the pitching staff. Hodges made his expectations clear.

“I hesitate to imagine where the New York Mets would have been the last few years without Jerry,” Hodges told Sports illustrated in 1971. “He is invaluable to us. He is intent and intense and he fights to get everything he can.”

Grote batted .256 in his 12 seasons in New York. He is a two-time All-Star (1968 and 1974). In 1969, Grote threw out 56% of baserunners. He ranks third on the Mets all-time list for games played (1235), 11th in hits (994), 15th in doubles and total bases (1413).

Grote fractured his wrist after getting hit by a pitch in May 1973. The Mets recorded three shutouts the first month with Grote behind the plate, four more shutouts over the next two months (May 12-August 11) without Grote behind the plate and eight more shutouts over the final six weeks of the season with Grote managing the staff. Grote caught every inning of every playoff and World Series game in 1969 and 1973. Here’s a statistic for you: In the 20 post season games between ’69 and ’73, the Mets used 45 pitchers and one catcher. Those were the only two post season appearances the Mets made during Grote’s 12 years in New York.

“One of the advantages of playing for New York is that the big crowds at Shea Stadium help you tremendously,” Grote said in a 1971 interview with Sports Illustrated. “They make you want to give 115% all the time. In other places it cannot be the same for the players. Like in Houston, nobody seems to applaud unless the hands on the scoreboard start to clap. Once those hands stop, so do all the others. Real enthusiasm.”

Grote loved playing in New York, and New York loved his gritty style.

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Should Mets Re-Sign Jerry Blevins? Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:56:00 +0000 jerry blevins

One of the resounding themes from the 2016 season has been how incredible it was the Mets made it back to the postseason despite Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgeries. However, that didn’t mean the Mets didn’t have good pitching that led them back to the postseason.

In addition to Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon, the Mets had a terrific bullpen that helped them maintain leads when the Mets weren’t getting hits with runners in scoring position, and they helped buttress the young starting pitching that couldn’t go quite as deep into games. While it is imperative the Mets starters come back healthy next season, it is equally as imperative that the Mets bullpen return in tact next year.

This means the Mets need to re-sign Jerry Blevins.

Coming into the 2016 season, Blevins had a reputation of only being a LOOGY. It was with good reason. During his career, Blevins has limited left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line whereas right-handed batters have been a more robust .243/.332/.387 against him. In 2016, that began to change.

In Blevins 73 appearances with the Mets, he was actually better against right-handed batters than he was against left-handed batters. Blevins would face right-handed batters 65 times, and he would limit them to a .182/.266/.345 batting line. Granted, it is a small sample size, but there were some things Blevins did to induce those results. First, he scrapped his cutter, which was not an effective pitch for him at all against right-handed pitching. In turn, he used his curveball and changeups at a higher rate, which led to a higher strikeout rate and fewer line drives.

What this meant was the despite your prototypical lefty specialist, you could trust Blevins to pitch a right-handed batter between two left-handed batters. It took some of the hand wringing out of which batter should you deploy your weapon. It also allowed you to rest some bullpen arms because you knew you could trust your LOOGY to actually go out and throw an inning.

Despite Blevins’ remarkable turn-around against right-handed batters, he is still a LOOGY, and as a such it’s his job to get the big left-handed batter out in a big moment in the game. For his career, Blevins has been terrific in those situations:

  • .228 batting average against with RISP
  • .226 batting average against in late and close games
  • .218 batting average against in high leverage situations
  • .220 batting average against in innings from the seventh inning on

* late and close and high leverage situations are as defined by Baseball Reference

We saw this in action when time and again, Blevins limited the damage in games. Overall, Blevins only allowed 14.5% of inherited runners to score this season, which was the best on the team (40 IP minimum). That number is all the more impressive when you consider he inherited more runners than anyone on the Mets staff.

In fact, Blevins inherited the second most runners in all of baseball this past year. Out of the pitchers that inherited over 50 batters in 2016, Blevins had the third best rate in preventing runners to score. It should come as no surprise then that he stranded the second most batters in the major leagues.

Overall, when you have a pitcher who gets lefties out, is improving better against right-handed batters, and is at his best in high leverage situations, that is a guy you need to keep in your bullpen.

There is an other important reason to keep Blevins. The Mets don’t have another option. At one point, Josh Edgin was considered to be the LOOGY of the future. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery before the 2015 season (which ironically was part of the reason the Mets traded Matt den Dekker to obtain him). Edgin was able to pitch this season, but he has not fully regained his velocity.

The other notable option is Josh Smoker. However, Smoker is a lefty with reverse splits. Effectively speaking, Smoker is a guy you bring in for the big strikeout, but he is not the guy you bring in to get the big left-handed batter out.

With the Mets having little to no internal options, and with Blevins being an effective LOOGY in his career, the Mets should make it a priority to re-sign him in the offseason. Fortunately for the Mets, Blevins has said he would like to return.

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Few Things Shock Me In Baseball… Then There’s Justin Turner Wed, 19 Oct 2016 17:13:18 +0000 justin-turner

Few things surprise me in baseball, mostly because in my 40 years of watching the game I’ve learned that almost everyday something happens that has never happened before. Baseball is a sport that loves its records and everyday it seems new ones are set and old ones are broken.

Nothing is ever what it seems. A team can win 105 games in a season and then get knocked off by a wild card team that won 88 games that goes on to win the World Series. Yes, few things surprise me in baseball… And then there’s Justin Turner.

From ESPN New York: A Mets official finally offered a reason for Justin Turner’s non-tender. He said that Turner’s propensity for not running hard irked the front office, which had finally seen enough. Turner, arbitration-eligible, likely was due to make less than $1 million in 2014.

When I first reported on that three years ago I remember being both stunned and angry.

Stunned because anyone who has ever seen Justin Turner play would never accuse him of being lazy and not running hard.

Angry because I knew the Wilpons were up to their old tricks, and putting down a player on his way out no matter how good he was or how beloved he was by the fans. The practice has been a hallmark of theirs since assuming full control of the team.

justin turner

Let’s be honest. Justin Turner was no great shakes during his time with the Mets, posting a cumulative line of .265/.326/.370 during his four years with New York.

But he did have his good points.

1. For one, he was the most versatile player the Mets have had over the last 10 years. In 2013, he played all four infield positions as well as logging time in left field.

2. It’s amazing how many hits that tied the game or put the Mets in front he had, particularly for a part-time player. He seemed to possess that clutch gene. To this day, I still don’t know how Baseball Reference calculates leverage, but regardless check this out:

High Leverage:  .318 BA, .856 OPS
Med Leverage:   .283 BA, .800 OPS
Low Leverage:   .265 BA, .747 OPS

3. There were signs Turner was improving and evolving as a hitter. In 2013, his last with the Mets, Turner posted his highest batting average (.280) as a Met and for the first time in his career he had an OPS+ of 100 after posting a 94 in 2011 and 97 in 2012.

4. His enthusiasm and big smile was infectious. Before Nimmo there was Turner. He was a positive influence in the club house, and he had the best relationship with fans on social media as I’ve ever seen before and the fans loved him. He’d make a routine of mingling with fans and signing autographs before each and every home game.

So exit Justin Turner and enter Eric Campbell. Life goes on… Except for the fact I can’t stop gawking at all the never-ending Justin Turner highlight videos on MLB Network and ESPN, and then coming across an article today entitled: The Cardinals Should Bid Big On Justin Turner.

That kind of summed it all up for me.

And truth be told, who would you rather have at third base for the Mets next season, Justin Turner or any of our current options?

Let me see… 34 doubles, 27 home runs, 90 RBI, a 5.6 fWAR which is almost double that of Yoenis Cespedes, yeah, that’s a tough decision.

As for that Cardinals article, he’s in for some bad news as I don’t see Turner going anywhere. Pretty sure the Dodgers will re-sign him.

Anyway – like I said – few things shock me in baseball these days. But what Justin Turner has become is an absolute mind-blower. Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming. Good for him, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

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