Mets Merized Online Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:05:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wright Remains the Mets’ Most Critical Question Fri, 28 Nov 2014 10:05:18 +0000 david wright

Among the myriad of questions facing the New York Mets headed into next season, I believe the most important is the status of David Wright.

A recent ESPN poll listed baseball’s top ten third basemen and Wright, based on his recent injury history and performance, wasn’t on the list and shouldn’t have been. Therein, is why he’s my most critical Mets’ question for 2015.

The key focus on Wright is health. Only once in the past four years did he play in as many as 150 games. Last season, a bum left shoulder limited him to 134 games and hurt his performance in the field and at the plate.

As the face of the franchise, Wright was rewarded with an eight-year, $138 million contract that has the Mets committed to him through the 2020 season. He was signed with the hope he’d regain his All-Star form.

This isn’t about whether the Mets should have signed Wright, he’s here and not going anywhere.

It must be understood Wright has been a star, but his most productive seasons were when he was younger and healthier, but also when he was surrounded by supporting talent, notably Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. Wright has always been an important element to the Mets’ success, but never the centerpiece bat.

This year will be more of the same. The main source of power will come from Lucas Duda followed by Curtis Granderson. If they meet expectations, a lot of pressure could come off Wright.

A seven-time All-Star, Wright figures to bat third and could be presented with solid RBI opportunities if there’s a productive leadoff hitter and a strong season from Daniel Murphy.

It can’t be underestimated how the upheaval at the top of the order, plus the lack of support behind him, coupled with his injuries and propensity for carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders contributed to him not driving in over 100 runs since 2010 or scoring over 100 runs since 2008.

This is a critical year for Wright, who at 31, is at the crossroads of his career. Does his slide continue or can he recapture the stroke that made him an elite talent?

A very productive Wright can carry the Mets to the next level and even have his team battling for a potential playoff spot this season. If not, and he struggles again, there will be the lingering questions about his contract, especially if he’s healthy and still doesn’t produce. There are six more years on that contract.

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Mets Waiting To See If Red Sox Dangle Shortstop Xander Bogaerts Fri, 28 Nov 2014 08:02:13 +0000 xander bogaerts

According to a report in the New York Post, the Mets are waiting to see if the Red Sox dangle shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts and will continue to let the SS market take shape.

However, it appears that the Red Sox will be shifting newly signed Hanley Ramirez to left field, and with Pablo Sandoval at third, it’s unlikely they trade Bogaerts. Still, it’s something the Mets will keep an eye on.

“It’s not like we’re knocking down their door to see if Bogaerts is available,” the source said. “But we’ll wait and see how things shake out.”

Bogaerts, now 22, batted .240 last season for the Red Sox with 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 538 at-bats. However, he is considered baseball’s top shortstop prospect and Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus all ranked him as the No. 2 overall prospect in the game in 2014.

Joel Sherman says that Bogaerts will likely cost the Mets Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler at minimum.

Last week, Sandy Alderson spoke about the lack of available options at shortstop.

“There aren’t a lot of free agent shortstops out there that check all the boxes. There aren’t that many trade possibilities, frankly, that check all the boxes.”

He added more clarity on Tuesday, saying he has yet to be presented with a deal he feels would be an upgrade over the offensive and defensive potential of Wilmer Flores and Matt Reynolds respectively. “There just aren’t that many good solutions at that position out there,” he said.


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What If Sandy Is Blowing Smoke On Flores? Thu, 27 Nov 2014 23:32:19 +0000 wilmer-flores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you believe?

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Happy Thanksgiving Day From Metsmerized Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:00:08 +0000 Macys-Parade

On behalf of everyone at Metsmerized Online, we would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful day and make some great memories with your friends, families and loved ones.

It’s always such an enormous pleasure to share our opinions and interact with the greatest and most passionate baseball fans in the world – Mets Fans. Our passion for the Mets binds all of us together, and though we may not always agree on how to get there, we still all share one common goal and that is to see the Mets win another World Series… Or two… Or three…  It’s an honor to serve you these last ten years and we look forward to ten more.

We also send our thanks to all of the brave men and women who continue to serve our country and defend our American way of life. Our thoughts are always with them and we honor their incredible courage and commitment to protecting our freedom and values.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone!

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Diamondbacks To Sign Yasmany Tomas Wed, 26 Nov 2014 22:45:04 +0000 yasmani tomas

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a six year, $68.5 million dollar deal with outfielder Yasmany Tomas.

Tomas will get an almost identical contract to Jose Abreu, who defected from Cuba and signed with the White Sox last season.

The 24-year old slugger projects to be a corner outfield power threat, who will fit in nicely with Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the Diamondbacks lineup.

Tomas hit .286/.343/.444 with six home runs over a span of 68 games in Cuba last season. In 2013, his number’s were even better, as he hit .289/.364/.538 with 15 home runs in 81 games.

Both the Phillies and Braves were at one time in on the sweepstakes to land Tomas, but the stud Cuban power threat will take his talents to the desert for his prime years.

The Mets sent scouts to watch Tomas, but “didn’t love him” according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Many thought Tomas could be the first Cuban player to land a $100+ million dollar contract, or at the very least surpass Rusney Castillo‘s $72.5 million dollar deal that he signed with Boston earlier this season, but he will settle for the same as Jose Abreu did just a year ago.

Thoughts by Rob Piersall

I’m glad that Tomas didn’t sign with the Phillies or the Braves. It would not have been pleasant to face that guy regularly throughout the season for several years to come. I’m surprised that he didn’t end up with a bigger contract like many were expecting him to,  but Arizona managed to sign him for a very reasonable deal, and I think they are getting themselves a legit power threat.

Thoughts by Daniel McCarthy

The theme for the Mets over the last four years has been to get younger, shed albatross contracts and replenish a farm system that was once barren. They’ve gotten younger, shed the contracts and developed one of the best farm systems in all of baseball in around that time. How has the next move been to sign a will-be 36 year old outfielder with a questionable injury history and poor defense? After that, to bring the fences in for a +7 HR differential compared to the 2014 season. Now, to pass on a free agent with huge upside, for a comparable price in yearly salary to Cuddyer, simply because of the length?

This all sounds critical, the choices the team made may certainly have been the right ones. My confusion comes from how this offseason has played out in respect to the organization’s previously held philosophies and Tomas could emerge as a huge miss if his performance outplays his contract. Let’s hope the Mets did their homework and made the right call for the right reasons.

Thoughts by Joe D.

It was interesting to note that multiple executives from teams interested in Tomas hint that the $100 million number being thrown around was baseless, and even Tomas’ agent had to address it and say it was far from accurate. An average annual value of just under $12 million is Cuddyer money.

As I’ve said all along, I didn’t like this year’s free agent class one bit, but Tomas is someone that the Mets should’ve been looking at. And by looking I mean more than just a passing glance. The experts endorsed him, scouts were widely impressed, and plenty of executives and GMs were in hot pursuit. That’s quite telling.


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Alderson Willing To Forfeit Another Draft Pick? On Who Exactly? Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:53:09 +0000 nelson cruz

Sandy Alderson told MLB Network Radio that he would consider forfeiting another draft pick if he can sign a player at a discount toward the end of the offseason.

“We’d consider it. Of course it’s easier to give up a second-round pick after we’ve already lost a first-round pick.”

Alderson pointed to last offseason when Nelson Cruz settled for a one year deal for $8 million dollars after holding out for a multi-year deal most of the winter.

I have no idea what players Sandy is talking about here. Of the 12 players that received qualifying offers, Victor Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo SandovalRussell Martin, and of course Michael Cuddyer are already off the boards.

So is he talking about David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and Nelson Cruz? Which of these players is going to be hanging around in January looking for a one-year deal at a discount? All of them reportedly have 3-4 year deals in hand.

I mean seriously… All that’s left for the Mets offseason in free agency is a LOOGY and a right-handed bench player. If they do address shortstop (and that’s a big if) it’s pretty much established that it will happen via trade and not free agency.

I guess from a PR standpoint it’s easier to go on the air and say “we would consider sacrificing a second round pick” instead of saying, “we’re pretty much done spending for this offseason.” I mean, who wants to hear that?


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Mariners Lockup One Of Their Own, Will Mets Be Ready To Do Likewise When Time Comes? Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:25:12 +0000 kyle seager

Kyle Seager signed a $100 million dollar 7-year extension with the Mariners on Monday. The deal absorbs his final two years of salary arbitration and tacks on five more years and a team option, keeping him in a Mariners uniform until 2022 (his 34th birthday).

Seager is something of an oddity. He was drafted out of the University of North Carolina in 2009 at 22 and was never a highly ranked prospect. He has nevertheless established himself as a power threat at the hot corner, albeit a modest one — dampened by Safeco Field. He is also the first player to sign a nine-figure deal without at least one .800 OPS season.

Younger exceptional players like Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Evan Longoria, and (yes) Ryan Braun, and even somewhat less exceptional players like Seager are increasingly signing extensions that swallow up their prime years, while on the other end of the “team control” spectrum you have older but still productive players getting qualifying offers. The combined effect of this pinching severely attenuates the free agency talent pool at its margins.

In the past, players like Seager were more likely to hold out until their six year team commitment expired, entering free agency with their prime still in the offing … these days that doesn’t happen. From the player’s standpoint the incentive is twofold, they’d prefer to have the money now rather than later (a bird in hand), and they’re lured by the promise of long term security, mitigating the risk of injury or decline. Most players like Seager would be foolish not to sign these extensions. If you look at dollars per WAR it is also precisely in these types (and even pre-arbitration) players that teams are relying on for wins.

Seager is sort of a template on how to maximize team control over a player’s prime – eerily reminiscent of reserve clause “fruits of development” labor arguments. You draft a promising older player out of college, delay his start time, let him play out his first couple of pre-arbitration years at the major league level, and then, provided he performs at a high level, you sign him to a “fan friendly” extension absorbing his prime production seasons.

One benefit of these retention tactics is that teams get to keep homegrown stars — which is good for the fans, but a disemboweled free agent talent pool will eventually bring salaries down — which is good for MLB. Now it’s usually at this point in the discussion when I get some push-back. In spite of all the wasted sunken dollars, free agent compensation has not decreased. Matt Swartz in The Hardball Times, looked at Dollars/WAR in 2013 and it increased slightly.

I find this almost as mind boggling as the Pablo Sandoval contract. I mean I know pandas are endangered but five years and $95 million?

So what gives? Shin-Soo Choo got $18 million last year for .2 WAR, then there’s B.J. Upton, Brian McCann, Josh Hamilton … the “unmitigated contract disaster” list gets longer every year. Why do teams continue to spend lavishly on free agents? Why would the Red Sox spend $183 million on two free agents a year removed from a purge that saw them unload a slew of cumbersome contracts? MLB’s unprecedented media cash flow may have something to do with it, but still.

It could also be that teams still believe in having a strong mix of veterans and youth and that the Red Sox simply feel they had the wrong veteran presence before (Hanley in left? Really?). Perhaps, like the Mets and Michael Cuddyer, they feel having the right veteran influence can mean all the difference. Even so, I seriously doubt a savvy organization like the Red Sox doesn’t understand the inherent risks in giving out long FA contracts given the data. It’s almost like some teams impulsively throw money around just for the heck of it … perhaps it’s a “use it or lose it” dynamic with spending allocations. Sadly the Mets are not in a position to take these kinds of risks, by necessity they are betting on their own generation of young controllable stars, and that’s really where the smart money is.

Players like Michael Conforto could (contractually) take a very similar path to Kyle Seager. Like Seager, Conforto was drafted as a college player and will probably not see his major league clock start for another couple of years. Conforto would then be around 27 or 28 before the Mets are pressed into deciding whether to offer him a pre-arbitration extension which would give them control over him until around his 33rd birthday … right around the average point of decline. If he is still playing at a high level? You Q.O. him, bam, done.

brandon nimmo

The earliest Brandon Nimmo will see the major leagues is late in 2015 by which time he’ll be 22. If he proves to be all-star caliber then an extension would take him through his 30th birthday … not quite optimal but between an option year and the Q.O. the Mets would still get him for most of his prime. People keep praising the Mets for being patient, but I wonder how much of this patience is an economic consideration orchestrated to ensure control of players through their most valuable seasons.

Now Dilson Herrera was brought up at the age of 20, and, like Reyes, could see his clock run out during his prime … why? Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Maybe it was organizational need, or maybe they see Herrera as the sort of complimentary impact player who is worth the gamble. The Mets seem to be taking “a little of everything” approach. They have the long developing High School draftees as well as the fast track college players, they have players who have stepped on all the rungs as well as players who have skipped levels, they have phenoms and dark horses alike in their pitching ranks. The Mets minor leagues are an exercise in overkill … which is as it should be when you consider failure rates.

One thing is clear, there will be a point in the next few seasons when the Mets will be faced with some tough decisions on whether to extend a growing list of high performing youngsters. Between Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud, followed by Syndergaard, Nimmo and Conforto, it amounts to a $100 million (or more) extension being doled out every year or two starting at around 2016 … that’s an awful lot of spending from an organization that appears to have completely forgotten how that works.

It’s worrisome from a fan’s perspective … especially when you consider that the only thing worse than this recent stretch of losing would be to let all the fruits of our suffering walk away one by one. All we can do is hope Sandy Alderson has his $100 million dollar extension checkbook at the ready.


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Granderson Won’t Change Approach, Expects Better Numbers Next Season Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:18:25 +0000 Curtis - Granderson

Responding to team reports that he could have hit nine more home runs last season with these new Citi Field dimensions, Curtis Granderson said he isn’t interested in playing “the would’ve, could’ve game.”

The Mets right fielder told Anthony McCarron of the Daily News that he doesn’t intend to change his approach. “There’ll be no adjustments because of the dimensions,” Granderson said in a phone interview.

Granderson said he’s already preparing for his second season as a Met and that he may go visit new hitting coach Kevin Long if it fits both their schedules. He disagreed with what Long said last week about the pressure of his 4-year, $60 million contract impacting his numbers last season.

“I don’t think the contract did,” Granderson said. “I think the change from this year to now − playing (roughly) 50 games to playing (155) games. Baseball’s funny − you have to play to fine-tune your craft, and when you’re injured, that takes away from it. Pitchers were outperforming me. I tip my hat to them.”

Granderson is confident that he can improve on his .227 batting average next season as well as the 20 homers. “If you hit it, it’ll go. It’s all about getting consistent. Put yourself into a position to attack.”

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These Rule 5 Draft Prospects Could Help Mets Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:53:53 +0000 delino deshields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Matt Harvey Feels 100 Percent, Set To Begin Workouts In December Tue, 25 Nov 2014 21:31:24 +0000 matt harvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Daisuke Matsuzaka Returns To Japan Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:10:36 +0000 daisuke matsuzaka

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

November 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An MMO Fan Shot by DerpyMets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The denominator is total innings pitched.

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at an example:

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

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

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

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

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

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


xFIP Constant


For Fly balls only




Fly balls + Line drives




Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups




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

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

    flyballs only = xFIPf

    flyballs + line drives = xFIPfl

    flyballs + line drives + pop ups = xFIPflp

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

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

Wait, what?

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

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

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

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




My Gee Stats




Fangraphs Gee Stats




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

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

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

* * * * * * * *

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

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

2015 Spring Training Reporting Dates

Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pitchers and catchers report: February 19

First workout: February 21

Position players report: February 24

First full-squad workout: February 26

Grapefruit League play begins: March 4

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

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

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

2015 spring schedule

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

its good to be back spring training

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

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

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

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

9:00 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xander Bogaerts might be available, but at what cost?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Joe D.)

November 16 – Steamer Projections for Shortstop Market

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

jed lowrie

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petey: Being aggressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Akeel: I guess so yeah something like that.

Petey: That’s a four-seam fastball?

Akeel: Yeah I throw a four-seam fastball.

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

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

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

Akeel: Yeah my arm speed is the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * * * * * * * *

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Adam83 asks…

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

MMO replies…

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

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

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

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

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

ask mmo 2

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