Mets Merized Online » 2012 http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:23:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 MMO Game Thread: Mets vs Diamondbacks, 9:40 PM http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-game-thread-mets-vs-diamondbacks-940-pm.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mmo-game-thread-mets-vs-diamondbacks-940-pm.html/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 23:10:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153279 zack wheeler

The Mets (5-7) open a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks (4-11) on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

Zack Wheeler (0-2, 5.73 ERA) gets the start for the Mets and is opposed by Josh Collmenter (0-0, 2.25 ERA) for the Diamondbacks. First pitch is at 9:40 PM.

Wheeler is looking to snap a four-game losing streak, the longest of his career, dating back to September 6, 2013. He has a 4.50 ERA (14 earned runs/28.0 innings pitched) over those four decisions, five starts.

Wright has seven career home runs in 28 career games (125 plate appearances) at Chase Field. His 17.8 home run per plate appearance is his best ratio in any road ballpark.

Starting Lineup

  1. Eric Young, LF
  2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
  3. David Wright, 3B
  4. Curtis Granderson, RF
  5. Lucas Duda, 1B
  6. Juan Lagares, CF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  8. Ruben Tejada, SS
  9. Zack Wheeler, RHP

Game Preview

The Mets look to move on from yesterday’s game as they face the Diamondbacks tonight. Nothing was working  for the Mets yesterday. The Angels got to Colon early hitting back to back to back jacks in the first. The umpire had a crazy strikezone which led to Murphy and Wright being ejected at the same time. Positives: we will forever have in our minds (and in our records) David Wright yelling, “YOU ARE THE WORST OF ALL TIME.” Anyway Wheeler gets the nod tonight as he faces Josh Collmenter.

Wheeler is 0-2 this season allowing 7 ER over 11.0 innings with a 5.73 ERA. Last year in one start against Arizona he allowed one earned run over 6.1 innings and 6 hits while walking none and striking out 4. The Diamondbacks have the following numbers against Wheeler:

  • Goldschmidt 1-3
  • Hill 1-3, HR
  • Prado 1-3
  • McCarthy 0-2
  • Parra 1-2
  • Pennington 1-2

The Mets bats will get a look at Josh Collmenter who is getting his first start since 2012. This year as a reliever he has pitched 8.0 innings allowing 2 earned runs. Last year he was 5-5 with a 3.13 ERA over 49 games and 92.0 innings. Against the Mets last year he logged 6.0 innings over 3 games allowing 2 ER, walking 3 and striking out 3. The Mets have the following numbers against Josh:

  • Wright 2-9, 2 HR
  • Murphy 3-7, 2B
  • Davis 2-4, HR
  • Tejada 2-5
  • Recker 1-4
  • Satin 1-2, 2B

Lets Go Mets!

Presented By Diehards

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A Big Season From Granderson Will Be Crucial To Any Mets Success http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/big-season-from-granderson-will-be-crucial-to-any-mets-success.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/big-season-from-granderson-will-be-crucial-to-any-mets-success.html/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:33:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150452 granderson brad barr

In this latest MMO Roundtable, I asked our writers to tell me which new Mets player would be most critical to the team’s success in 2014.

Gerry – The new Met that will prove most critical to the team’s 2014 success will likely be Granderson. Marlon Byrd‘s emergence as an offensive force behind David Wright gave the lineup whatever semblance it had of providing a consistent threat last year, and Grandy is due for a bounce back after his injury plagued 2013. I just hope they can get some people on base ahead of him.

Xtreem – Granderson. The Mets have the pitching. Colon doesn’t really need to be an ace so long he’s at least solid. It would be nice, but I digress. Granderson needs to regain his form and form a real dangerous 1-2 punch with Wright. They need to score runs.

Stephanie - Granderson has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Being that this is the first year in his deal, it is crucial that he does not come out of the gate slow. David Wright finally has worthy protection in the lineup and he cannot afford for Granderson to slack, especially if he has a season like last year. Grandy has the potential to have a career year in terms of doubles and triples; his home run count will presumably go down as these go up. Not just on the offensive side, but his position in the outfield is important for obvious reasons: the outfield is the Mets’ weak point, especially the corner spots. With Byrd gone and all other corner outfield options essentially being bench players, Grandy has huge shoes to fill.

Peter A. – In my opinion, Chris Young. If he can return to his 2010 form or something remotely close, it would be a huge boost to this offense and give them a formidable 3-4-5 combo in Wright, Granderson, and Young. It’s not out of the question as he’s just 30 years old. He worked with Rod Carew over the winter in order to become a more complete/consistent hitter and claims to thrive under the spotlight. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery. Maybe not. We’ll just have to see. One thing is for sure though, he has looked mighty good this spring.

Roger – I think the most critical new addition is Curtis Granderson. We still have a bad taste in our collective mouths from the Jason Bay signing and we need a big signing to actually perform like a big signing. Grandy offers protection to David Wright and a big threat that can hit one out, even in Citi Field. Yes, he will strike out a ton, but even when he’s hitting .240 and striking out, he’s not going to walk back to the dugout with that hound dog look on his face that tells the opposition that they’re in his head. He also has a winning pedigree that can hopefully rub off on the rest of the squad.

Andrew D. – Curtis Granderson. The range of possible outcomes is extra wide for him. He could hit 40 homers, or he could hit 15. He could hit .260, or he could hit .210. He could continue playing nimble defense, or he could turn into an aging, slow liability. He could return to his traditionally healthy and dependable ways and prove those two HBP last year were a fluke, or he could get hurt again. And unlike our other big acquisition – Bartolo Colon – we have no other options to replace him if he gets hurt or sucks. The last power hitting outfield acquisition the Mets tried to acquire through free agency didn’t go so well, so hopefully Granderson can buck the trend and carry an otherwise uninspiring Mets lineup this year.

Dylan – Curtis Granderson will be most vital for not only Met success this season, but in the coming seasons. He will be the Carlos Delgado to Wright’s Carlos Beltran. He will provide what the Mets have longed for in a pure cleanup hitter. With 30+ homers from Granderson this season, who knows where the Mets will wind up.

David – Curtis Granderson – he is coming from an organization that puts everything into winning and has proven that, so with what he experienced in the Bronx, that sort of leadership will be key and will tremendously help Wright not only in the clubhouse but also on the field. If, and I am very optimistic that he will, but if he puts up good numbers and gives Wright the protection he needs in the line up, Wright can will finally have a year that he can focus on not doing it all by himself.

Dexx - I actually think Chris Young is the most crucial to the Mets success in 2014.  If he repeats his 2010 or 2011 season, then we have the steal of the free agent class, and a well above average OF with the glove that can hit in the middle of the lineup, and steal 20+ bases.  If he is the Chris Young of 2013, and most of 2012, then we have a 4th OF that we wasted $8 million on.

Corey – Curtis Granderson. Grandy brings a legitimate presence to the Mets lineup and clubhouse that will be extremely valuable over 160 games this season. Equally important to his production will be the impact that he provides batting after David Wright. Granderson is the first legitimate threat behind Wright since Carlos Delgado and should help Wright get back into the MVP discussion.

This was pretty much what I expected as all one needs do is to simply follow the money. The Mets are banking a lot of money on Granderson and they’ll need to see him hit the ground running.

Kevin Kernan of the NY Post recently wrote that in a spring training where much has gone wrong for the Mets, Granderson has done everything right and that he has been one of the biggest positives of the spring.

“With the Yankees, Granderson was another cog in the machine. With the Mets, he’s out front, leading the way. None of this is an act — Granderson truly believes. David Wright is not alone anymore as a positive force.”

This is one of the things the Mets needed from Granderson in addition to his potent bat. I’ve been impressed with his demeanor and the way he handles himself not only on the field, but also with the media which is just as important when you play in New York.

I’m looking forward to a big season from Curtis Granderson – and in fact 2-3 of them.

Presented By Diehards

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: Random Thoughts Edition http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-edition.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-random-thoughts-edition.html/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:32:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=151432 ruben tejada

So here we stand a week from opening day and there are still as many questions as there are answers. Who’s on first? Will Ruben Tejada be the starting shortstop come March 31st – or will the solution come via trade or free agent signing? ( I’m looking at you Stephen Drew !!) And can Jonathon Niese stay healthy for an entire season ?

But I have other questions, observations and random thoughts – and here are but a few…..

I wish that the local sports media would stop making mountains out of molehills. Whether it was the situation with Matt Harvey this past week, or pressing David Wright after Ervin Santana signed with the Braves, it’s a case of causing a frenzy amongst the fanbase over non-issues. We all know that Santana was not coming here and I know that the crux of the argument is the Mets willingness or ability to add payroll, but at this point – who cares?

I don’t care what Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson say in public – Juan Lagares has to be the everyday centerfielder. Platoon the “Young Ones” in left field if you have to but we need his glove in the everyday lineup.

Even with his 3-3 performance on Saturday I believe Ruben Tejada is not the answer at shortstop.

Bartolo Colon will be worth his weight in gold – especially for the Mets concession outlets.

I love the fact that the Mets hierarchy are hoping/expecting a 90 win season this year, but I think the team will top out at around 84 wins. You want 90 wins you import a Drew who will save you runs defensively and create runs offensively. That is unless Wilmer Flores can win over the Mets coaches and allow him to play shortstop everyday.

I am happy with what I have seen from Ike Davis so far – I hope he proves me wrong.

And lastly… If neither Tejada or Flores pan out at shortstop and the Mets are unable to swing a trade or sign Drew -  well maybe they should consider luring Edgardo Alfonzo out of retirement. Hey the Tigers are considering luring Omar Vizquel out of retirement so why not Fonzie? Think about it.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

Reserve outfielder from the ’75 season, Jesus Alou is 72 (1942).

Shortstop and utility-man from the ’91 season, Garry Templeton is 58 (1956).

Other transactions of note include:

The New York Mets traded outfielder, Derrell Griffith to the Houston Astros for shortstop, Sandy Alomar on March 24, 1967.

The New York Mets traded beloved shortstop, Bud Harrelson to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league second baseman, Fred Andrews on March 24, 1978.

The New York Mets traded utility-man, Lou Collier to the Montreal Expos for outfielder, Jason Bay and  minor league pitcher, Jim Serrano on March 24, 2002. Let’s not even get into the enigma that is Jason Bay!!!

Bartolo Colon can put Mo Vaughn to shame in the 50 yard dash!!!

This past Wednesday night on the “Shouts From Shea Podcast” Steve Keane of “The Kranepool Society and myself welcomed Michael Baron from MetsBlog and Michael Dougherty of “The Slurve” newsletter as our special guests.

We discussed everything from the latest Matt Harvey “controversy” to who will win the contest to be the starting everyday first baseman and if Ruben Tejada will be the starting shortstop come Opening Day.

Click here to listen

Presented By Diehards

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The Changeup and its Impact on Baseball and the Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/the-changeup-and-its-impact-on-baseball-and-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/the-changeup-and-its-impact-on-baseball-and-the-mets.html/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 03:11:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150554 Noah_Syndergaard

(Photo by David Conde, Metsmerized Online)

Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, wrote a great article on how Noah Syndergaard needs to develop a changeup to complete his arsenal and write his ticket to the majors.

Despite Syndergaard’s 98 mph fastball and his hook from hell, Diamond says that if the 21-year-old right-hander wants to make the jump from star prospect to star pitcher, he must add a changeup. “It’s the least attractive—but perhaps most important—part of any young starter’s development.”

Pitchers across baseball understand the significance of the changeup, the deceptive pitch that looks like a fastball coming out of a pitcher’s hand, but really is traveling anywhere from 10 to 20 mph slower. They recognize its transformative power, how it can elevate them from raw talents to elite major-leaguers. And yet, so many of them don’t start working seriously on their changeups until they reach the professional ranks.

“It’s not a pretty pitch,” said Frank Viola, the Mets’ Triple-A pitching coach and the man responsible for helping Syndergaard improve his changeup this season. “Who wants to throw a changeup?”

I doubt it was a coincidence when the Mets made the decision to promote Viola from pitching coach at Single-A Savannah all the way to Triple-A Las Vegas where he’ll help Syndergaard develop that changeup. Sweet Music of course once owned the best changeup in baseball and rode it to 176 wins and an American League Cy Young in 1988.

I invite you to check out the rest of Diamond’s article here. You’ll find a very extensive and well researched piece. Follow him on Twitter at @jareddiamond.

changeup

Diamond’s article reminded me of another piece I read on the changeup last season, by Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated, who discussed its impact on the game.

The most important pitch in baseball doesn’t break sharply on its way to the plate. It deliberately lacks eye-popping velocity. It can’t be effective with exclusive usage, as some have done with pitches that cut or knuckle. Its very name implies a need for contrast with a companion.

When the baseball emerges from the pitcher’s hand with backspin, the seams rapidly churn up from under the ball and over the top, the tell-tale sign of either the favored pitch of hitters, the fastball, or of its ultra-important sidekick, the changeup.

“Hitters, even if they’re sitting on [the changeup], they see that spin, and they’re like sharks in the water,” said Braves righthander Kris Medlen. “They smell blood. They see four-seam spin, and even if they’re sitting on a changeup, in the back of their head, they’re like, ‘Oooh, fastball.’”

While most pitchers previously threw the changeup against batters with the same handedness, former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson says the pitch is being used regardless of which side of the plate the batter hits these days and attributes it to an increase in video showing that the pitch could be effective to all hitters.

johan-santana

Among the ten best changeups in the game’s recent history, three of them are from former Mets; Pedro MartinezTom Glavine and Johan Santana. All three absolutely dominated the game when they were in their prime and the change was a big reason why. Without it, their careers would have been quite different.

On June 1, 2012, when Johan pitched the first no-hitter in Mets franchise history, it was his signature changeup that made it all possible. Santana threw 38 of them in the game, 24 of them for strikes. They were responsible for nine of his 27 outs. Perhaps it was poetic that the final pitch of that fateful night was a 3-2 changeup to David Freese who flailed at it and gave Met fans the memory of a lifetime.

Velocity and power remain the game’s most prized attributes, writes Lemire. But in a league where most guys can throw the ball hard or slug the ball far, the changeup keeps them honest. It’s the enforcer, albeit one with more bite than brawn.

The changeup has had a great impact on Mets history and we’ve only just touched the surface. The best may be yet to come.

mmo

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Where did Ruben Tejada go wrong? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/where-did-ruben-tejada-go-wrong.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/where-did-ruben-tejada-go-wrong.html/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:14:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150479 ruben tejada

There was a brief time in 2012, as Mets fans tried to recover from the loss of Jose Reyes, that Ruben Tejada seemed to have promise. With his recent struggles, and never-ending love/hate relationship projected upon him by Mets management, it is hard to remember those days. It makes me wonder: Where did Ruben Tejada go wrong?

PA BB% K% wOBA fWAR
2012 501 5.4% 14.6% 0.304 1.8
2013 227 6.6% 10.6% 0.236 -0.3

It is clear that his numbers in 2012, with more plate appearances, were better than last season. Despite handling the bat better in 2013 – he struck out less and walked more – Tejada became an anemic hitter. His promising .289 BA in 2012 caught trap to a high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .339, leading to a .202 BA in 2012 with his BABIP dipping to .228. Any strides he made getting on base more often via the walk were offset by his inability to get on base in any other manner.

Looking closer at Tejada’s 2012 numbers, however, we can see that things started to go wrong long before the 2013 season began. As the table below highlights, Tejada got off to a great start in 2012, hitting 13% better than league average in terms of OPS for the month. He followed a high BABIP with limited at-bats through his first summer as Mets shortstop, and then, with a heavy workload towards the end of the year, his numbers quickly regressed.

 2012 PA BA BABIP League Comparison (OPS)
March/April 98 0.299 0.377 13%
May 19 0.333 0.462 23%
June 34 0.323 0.357 5%
July 114 0.315 0.378 -7%
August 118 0.261 0.292 -15%
September 118 0.266 0.302 -29%

Tejada found that his BABIP plummetted in 2012 when he hit more ground balls and less line drives as the season progressed. The graph below courtesy of fangraphs shows the inverse trend of his GB% and FB% during the course of 2012. Following the same trend in 2011, he found late season success, hitting .348 in the month of August with a .400 BABIP. You can see the slight blip towards the end of the 2011 portion of the graph where his LD% climbed and both his GB% and FB% dropped.

Tejada GB/FB/LD
(Click to open in new window)

Overall, it is quite clear. Tejada does not produce any power, he relies heavily on balls in play falling for hits. Late in 2011 and early in 2012, he was able to connect on line drives more often. By 2013, he was hitting mostly ground balls and fly balls, with very limited line drives. His BABIP suffered, and so did his overall batting average.

Tejada Overall GB/FB/LD
(Click to open in new window)

Why did Tejada start hitting less line drives? Because pitchers became wise to the fact that he was able to connect more effectively on offspeed pitches. In the first three months of 2012, Tejada saw his offspeed offerings at 11.8%, 19.1%, and 10.7% of total pitches seen. By the end of the season, pitchers were only throwing Tejada offspeed pitches 3.9% of the time. The graph below shows that of all pitch types, Tejada found line drives most frequently at the end of at-bats where he made contact with offspeed pitches. With opponents throwing less offspeed pitches, he hit less line drives.

Tejada offspeed LD

Ruben Tejada is an interesting case. He is not an elite shortstop, and never will be. It is clear that management needs to loosen the purse strings and acquire a legitimate replacement. However, it is interesting to look back and understand a little clearer what happened to Tejada’s once promising start.

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Brooks Baseball.

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Lucas Duda Has the Most to Prove in 2014 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lucas-duda-has-the-most-to-prove-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/lucas-duda-has-the-most-to-prove-in-2014.html/#comments Sat, 15 Feb 2014 16:08:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147071 There are many players that have a lot to prove in 2014. Let’s break it down between our position players and pitchers. 

Position Players

Ruben Tejada needs to prove he is a major league shortstop.  Daniel Murphy needs to prove he can improve defensively, while maintaining his offensive prowess.  Ike Davis needs to prove that Valley Fever isn’t derailing his career the same way it did Connor Jackson’s.  Travis d’Arnaud needs to prove he can stay healthy, and live up to his top prospect billing. Wilmer Flores needs to prove he can play a position defensively, or hit enough to play first base. Curtis Granderson needs to prove he can hit home runs outside the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium at age 33. Juan Lagares needs to prove he can hold his own at the plate. Chris Young needs to prove that he isn’t a 4th outfielder at this point in his career, and Eric Young Jr. needs to prove that he can get on base enough to warrant getting his speed into the lineup.

Pitchers

Zack Wheeler needs to prove he can improve his command and pitch deeper into the ballgames.  Jon Niese needs to prove he is a top of the rotation pitcher, and that his shoulder is healthy. Bartolo Colon needs to prove he can pitch without the use of PEDs at age 41. Dillon Gee needs to prove that he is the pitcher we saw from the Yankee sweep to the end of the season, instead of the pitcher we saw the first two months of 2013, and Jenrry Mejia needs to prove he can stay healthy enough to pitch in a major league rotation. Bobby Parnell needs to prove he IS a closer at the major league level for a FULL season, and all the young bullpen arms need to prove they belong on the team, but the player who has THE most to prove in 2014 is: Lucas Duda.

lucas duda

Duda mashed the ball coming up through the system, and was one of the best hitters in the NL for the second half of 2011 when he got an extensive look as the team’s first baseman.  He struggled at the plate in 2012 as he took his defensive woes from learning to play the outfield with him into the batters box.  Duda started the 2013 season hot at the plate, and went 4-4 in his first start at 1B in Atlanta after Ike was sent to AAA.  He subsequently strained his oblique, and remained on the DL for all of July and most of August. He’s stated publicly that he wasn’t comfortable playing the outfield, and it really affected his performance at the plate. And yet Terry Collins said he will play him in the outfield anyway in 2014.

A closer look at the numbers shows that Duda’s 2013 season wasn’t bad at all, particularly against RHP (.831 OPS), and he looked comfortable defensively at 1B after getting the opportunity late in the season.

Duda has tremendous power potential and a really good eye at the plate.  If he can resemble the Lucas Duda of 2011 that led the NL in OBP after the break in which he hit .291, and continue to improve on the power that he showed in early 2013 by hitting 11 HRs in the first 55 games of the season, then Duda could be a force at 1B for years to come.

I love his patient approach, but he does need to be a bit more aggressive in RBI situations, although I’m not sure he’s getting quite as many “fastballs right down the middle” as we suggest when he’s at the plate with runners on base. He was really good with RISP in 2011 & 2012, so I think the poor numbers in 2013 were due to a small sample size.  He should be at 1B in 2014, and its time for Duda to show that he is the power hitting middle of the lineup first baseman we all thought he would become after his stellar 2011 showing.  If he doesn’t prove it this year, he will most likely be playing somewhere else in 2015.

Presented By Diehards

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Thoughts On Mets Signing Jose Valverde http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/thoughts-on-mets-signing-jose-valverde.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/thoughts-on-mets-signing-jose-valverde.html/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 13:07:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147858 Jose -Valverde

The Mets announced that they have signed free-agent reliever Jose Valverde to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Jon Heyman reports that he can earn $1 million if he makes the team.

Valverde, who turns 36 next month, has recorded 286 saves during his 11-year career.

After a successful run with the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to 2012 in which he saved 110 games and posted a 3.00 ERA, he went downhill and was eventually released by Detroit last season after posting a 5.59 ERA in 20 appearances.

“We were looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, he does have some experience closing, but this is not a move to displace Bobby Parnell,” Sandy Alderson said after the signing was announced. “We signed him to a minor league contract and we’ll see how he throws in spring training.”

Thoughts…

One day after Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets were looking to add experienced relievers, the Mets inked the veteran closer to a minor league contract. Valverde is a three time all-star and along with his 286 career saves owns an excellent career ERA of 3.19 and a 1.18 WHIP during 11 major league seasons. His most recent success came with Detroit in 2011, where he was perfect in all 49 of his save opportunities.

While Valverde has been a a top flight closer at times in his career, I do not believe he will make much of an impact on the Mets other than to add some competition to the other bullpen candidates in camp. He is now past his prime and has seen the velocity in his fastball slide from a high of 95-96 in his prime to a career low of 92-93 mph.

During his short stint with Detroit last season, Valverde posted a dreadful 5.59 ERA and was hammered for six home runs in just 19.0 innings. Valverde had also showed significant signs of decline in 2012 when he posted his worst ERA, WHIP and K/9 totals since 2006. He also proved to be very ineffective in post season play that season, and yielded 9 earned runs in 2.2 innings for the Tigers in 2012.

Given his recent history, it is clear Valverde has severely declined. While he used to be a solid closer, he is simply not the same pitcher anymore and can no longer overpower the opposition as he once did.  It’s only a minor league contract, but there’s not much upside with this move.  

Presented By Diehards

 

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Do $100 Million Dollar Players Guarantee Success? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/do-100-million-dollar-players-guarantee-success.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/do-100-million-dollar-players-guarantee-success.html/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 17:57:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147665 As Mets fans who have had to deal with the angst of the past few years, it wasn’t enough that the clubs play during the season was sub .500 for five straight years, we also have had to deal with the last three offseasons of no money to go out and buy the big ticket free agent that might have helped us get closer to the promised land. In fact, the only $100M+ plus investment we made was in Captain David Wright. There has been a smattering of opinion that suggests we could have done better by trading him for prospects and starting over, but what cannot be denied is that he is easily one of the best third baggers in baseball (apologies to Miguel Cabrera). And lets not forget that the organization was put into shock with previous large contracts that blew up in the teams face. Throw in a good old fashion Ponzi scheme, and then you can start to hear shoes squeak over at Willets Point.

So, with all that as a backdrop, the question I wanted to pose and try to answer in this article is this; Could we have done any better spending big on free agents?

Theo Epstein, Carl Crawford

And by big, I am referring only to those contracts where the total value was over $100 million-plus and added during the Sandy Alderson era. Clearly, one player does not make a team, but when you sink that much dough, not to mention years, into some of the players that have received these deals over the past three years, teams like the Mets cannot afford to have duds, they need All-Star caliber players. As an aside, I follow the European soccer scene very closely and have watched as teams in small English towns spent heavily to try and compete with the powerhouses in London and Manchester, only to find themselves bankrupt, with no trophies to show for their efforts, and fans in despair (sound familiar?).

Since Sandy Alderson and Co. joined the Metropolitans in October 2010, there have been 14 players who have signed deals with a total value of over $100M in his first three years (I have not included anyone who signed this offseason as there is no data to evaluate their performance yet). These players have signed deals that total over $2.1 billion over an average length of seven years. The annual average value of these contracts is approximately $21 million. Now it bears noting that of these 14 deals, five have to be excluded as those deals were actually extensions (Troy Tulowitzki, Joe Mauer, Matt Kemp, Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels). They are included in the statistical analysis.

In order to determine the relative worth of these ballplayers and if they could have helped the Mets to a title, I used WAR values provided by Baseball Reference. One can debate the relative merits of WAR as a statistic but it is really the only way to look at position players and pitchers together and determine worth. Again, I am only focusing on those nine players who signed their deals since Sandy Alderson and his band took over the Mets front office.

Per Baseball Reference, an All-Star is defined as one with a WAR of 5.0 or better. A Major League class starter is one with a WAR of 2.0 or higher. Now, it can be expected that once a team drops over $100M on a player they should expect All-Star caliber play for the majority of that contact. Sadly, the figures do not bear this out. Of the three seasons analyzed (30 total “seasons” for the 14 players who signed mega-deals), only 20% of all those seasons produced a WAR of 5.0 or higher. Of these six seasons, two were in 2011 (Tulowitzki, Lee), one was in 2012 (Pujols), and three were in 2013 (Tulowitzki, Joe Mauer and Lee again!). Of these players, only Cliff Lee has helped his team to at least one playoff appearance.

It gets worse. From the 30 seasons produced by the 14 players signed to mega deals, a whopping 40% of those seasons produced a WAR of 2.0 or less. That means that players signed to play for over $20 million a season could not even produce a WAR capable of an average major league starter, never mind an All-Star. With a failure rate as high as this, teams with little or no flexibility in their budget simply cannot afford to be part of such a crapshoot. I’m surprised that the Angels aren’t taking more heat for their bad spending over the past two years, as Pujols and Hamilton have contributed very little to delivering a .500 season for their team, let alone a championship, for Los Angeles.

Previously I had discussed the high WAR value of players such as Cliff Lee and Troy Tulowitzki. I also found that Joe Mauer had also produced over a fairly high level since signing his mega extension. Lee, specifically, is a phenomenon, over the three years since he signed his 5 year, $120 million contract in the 2010 offseason, the man has produced over 20 WAR! That accounts for one fifth of the total WAR of all the mega free agents signed since 2010. It’s an incredible statistic. Add in the total WAR for just these three players, they accounted for 52% of the total WAR of all players signed to $100M+ deals.

While this may not be a complete apples to apples comparison, it is a fairly compelling piece of information when you consider that even when their average WAR per year is compiled, these three still rank at the top of the list of 14. Only Adrian Gonzalez comes close with 7.5 WAR over two years.

Okay, maybe WAR shouldn’t be the measurement we use to measure success against a mega contract, maybe its just too sabermetric for you, and doesn’t beat what is really important to Mets and baseball fans everywhere, and that is winning the World Series. And to some extent I heartily agree, a player signed to a huge $100M contract should help his team into the playoffs and World Series. Surely, on this scale, we should see success, right?

Unfortunately, even by this measurement, these players do not provide proof that big spending buys championships. Over the past three years only one player has signed a $100M deal and won a World Series. Bad news again, is that this player signed an extension with his current team and wasn’t even allowed to hit the free agent market (Matt Cain of the 2012 Giants had a 3.9 WAR in the Giants run to the title in 2012, but slipped to an injury plagued 0.5 WAR in 2013). There is only one free agent who signed a mega deal that has at least made a World Series appearance (Prince Fielder with the Tigers in 2012). Seven of the 14 players have at least had the privilege of playing in the playoffs (thanks to three different Dodgers who made it in the last post-season: Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Zack Greinke. Matt Kemp was not counted as he was injured and did not play).

What conclusions can be drawn by this? Well, it seems that signing a player to such a humongous contract over an equally long period of time is a very, very, very risky proposition, as more of these contracts fail then succeed. Mets fans have been close to the bone on this with the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts (though the latter was only for $64M). A mixture of free agents on shorter term deals with home grown talent would seem to be the way to success, just ask the Cardinals, Rays, and Pirates. So, whether or not we believe that the plan as stated by our GM is working, he is working to a script that at least has had proven success with other teams.

mmo

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The Mets’ First Base Competition http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/the-mets-first-base-competition.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/the-mets-first-base-competition.html/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 16:00:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147332 Who's on first?

Who’s on first?

Rewind to about a month ago — The Mets seemed fully prepared to head into the 2014 with Lucas Duda at first base, and possibly a platoon situation where Josh Satin would be in the lineup against left-handed pitchers. Ike Davis was on the trading block, and the Mets weren’t actually keeping it a secret. 

Here we are, about a week away from the official start of spring training, and it seems as if we are going to have an old-fashioned slober knocker to see who the starting first baseman for the Mets will be in 2014.

Mets fans will be divided…get the popcorn ready and enjoy the show.

It’s really anyone’s guess who will be starting at first base. Duda seems to have the inside edge because the Mets already seemed committed to making him the first baseman, but Davis’ power potential may be enough to earn him the job. If Davis gets off to a slow start, Duda may win the job by default. If Davis gets off to a hot start, I’m still not convinced that the Mets won’t use that success to try and get a buyer in the trade market for him.

Only time will tell, but let’s take a look at Duda’s and Davis’ performance at the plate the past couple of years to see if anyone has an inside edge.

Duda’s Pitch Types

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 12.40.10 PMIn 2011, Duda saw the highest percentage of fastballs that he has seen over the past three years. As you can see from the graphic, his fastball percentage (FA%) has dropped off by about four percent, while the amount of curveball (CU%) and sliders (SL%) he has seen has increased.

This is not uncommon. As scouting reports start circulating about hitters, the pitchers will adjust the way they pitch to certain hitters. A major increase came with the amount of curveballs that Duda is now seeing with compared to his 2011 season. Once the pitchers start changing the way they pitch to the hitter, the hitter has to also adjust. These adjustments will ultimately determine success of a player at the major league level.

Duda’s Aggressiveness

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 12.50.37 PMFor those who are upset with Duda’s approach, and his lack of aggressiveness at the plate, you’re right. Not only is Duda swinging a pitches out of the zone at a lower rate (O-Swing%), but he is also swinging at pitches in the strike zone at a lower rate (Z-Swing%). While it’s impressive to see him laying off pitches out of the strike zone, it’s disappointing to see that he is letting strikes go by, which has become somewhat of a pet peeve amongst Mets fans.

Another alarming stat is that his contact rate has dropped dramatically—by nearly ten percentage points. He was making contact with 90.1% of the pitches thrown in the strike zone in 2011 when he compiled a .292 batting average, and only 80.6% in 2013 where his batting average was .223.

Putting It All Together

After looking at both of the charts above, it’s easy to see what is going on with Duda. All of the information is tied together. Duda is, in fact, less aggressive at the plate. He is swinging less because he is seeing fewer fastballs. He is also making less contact with pitches in the strike-zone because he is seeing more off-speed pitches. Rather than adjusting, he is opting to wait for fastballs, and he is getting himself deep into counts. When he’s deep in the count, he is forced to swing at the off-speed pitches which causes more swings and misses than in 2011 (lower overall contact percentage).

This combination drives up his strike out rate, and decreases his batting average and the amount of damage he can ultimately do with the bat. While Duda’s walk rate has increased, that increase means nothing if it comes with a decrease in almost every other offensive category. What would be impressive is seeing his walk rate increase, while he also improved his other statistics.

When Duda makes contact, and puts the ball in play, good things happen. For how low his batting average was in 2013, his BABIP was .276—in 2011, it was .326. But for Duda to regain his 2011 form, he will have to adjust his hitting approach. The pitchers have adjusted to him, and rather than adjust, Duda seems to be going ahead with the same approach which is crippling him offensively.

I’m reminded of this quote from CBS.com back in 2012, and wondering if Duda has progressed at all since then:

What Collins does know without a doubt is that Duda isn’t the same timid hitter that originally arrived in the clubhouse last year.

“He now believes in himself,” Collins said. “Where he came up with some doubts last summer, in the beginning he talked about it and vocalized it: `I’m not sure I belong here.’ Well I just think now he believes he belongs here.”

We can break baseball down to it’s simplest form and what you have is Darwinism—like animals striving for survival in the wild, players have to adapt or die. Some of them will do whatever it takes to survive, which is evident from them opting to use Performance Enhancing Drugs. While I’m not saying Duda should use PEDs, he does have to adapt.

If Duda can adapt, he could be the one standing victorious in this game of Survivor to see who is on first base for the Mets in 2014.

Davis’ Pitch Types

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.56.58 AMDavis’ best season as a major leaguer came in 2012, when he hit 32 homeruns and had 90 RBI. The power was there, but he didn’t hit for high average and his walk rate was the lowest it has been in his professional career. The odd thing is, the pitch types Davis saw between 2012 and 2013 didn’t change much. The major change seemed to be the amount of fastballs he saw increased, while the amount of curveballs decreased. Pitchers threw Davis more fastballs in 2013. Why wouldn’t they after looking at his swing? With all those moving parts, Davis became highly vulnerable to the fastball in 2013.

Davis’ Aggressiveness

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.56.29 AM

By taking a look at the graphic above, there isn’t much that would make us think that Davis should have had a major drop-off in production from 2012 to 2013. In fact, there is evidence here that should suggest the opposite. Davis reduced the amount of pitches he swung at outside the strike zone in 2013 (O-Swing%). Davis made the same amount of contact in 2013 as he did in 2013 (74.7%). Davis’ walk rate increased in 2013, which correlates with him swinging at pitches out of the strike zone less, but what can explain the drop off in performance?

The answer is in the types of swings he is taking which are changing the type of contact he is making. Check out this graphic below:

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 9.58.08 AM

In 2012, Davis hit the ball in the air much more than any other season. He hit 152 fly balls and 80 line drives. I didn’t show his infield fly balls, but in total, he hit the ball in the air a total of 250 times, 32 of which were homeruns. That means 12.8% of his balls hit in the air were dingers in 2012. In 2013, he hit the ball in the air 129 times and nine of those went for homeruns. His homerun percentage on balls hit in the air dropped to 7% in 2013.

Putting It All Together

While Davis made the same amount of contact in 2013 as he did in 2012, it was less authoritative. He also hit a higher percentage of ground balls in 2013, more than any other season. This is all due to mechanical flaws in his swing. He isn’t getting around on the fastballs, which was the pitch of choice for pitchers when facing Davis in 2013. By over-compensating for the fastball, he becomes more susceptible to the off-speed pitches, and he will make weaker contact as he takes defensive swings off his back foot. A more simplified swing could make Davis a lethal power hitter again.

Davis did a better job with plate discipline in 2013, as he swung at pitches out of the strike zone less often in 2013 which directly impacted his walk rate and on base percentage. His issue is with his swing. By limiting what he is doing before the pitch arrives, he will be able to trust his hands more and adjust to whatever pitch he sees. By keeping his hands between his shoulder and ear, he already has them in a good hitting position, and doesn’t have to make three movements before the pitch arrives to get them there. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

If Davis spent the winter working on his swing, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be a 30-plus homerun hitter again, and the Mets first baseman in 2014.

(Charts from Fangraphs.com)

Presented By Diehards

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Mets Pitching Is The Key To Beating Preseason Projections http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-pitching-is-the-key-to-beating-preseason-projections.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/mets-pitching-is-the-key-to-beating-preseason-projections.html/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 14:15:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147264 Even if it´s tough to believe for Mets fans, the reason for rather modest projections for 2014 is the lack of trust that analysts have in the – mostly unproven – Mets pitching staff.

The Fangraphs ZiPS projection is a good indicator for that. The entire projected opening day pitching staff (i.e. rotation of Niese – Colon – Wheeler – Gee – Mejia) projects to combine for a mere total of an 8 fWAR. Which is by far the worst projected pitching staff in the divisision, well behind the Marlins & Phillies (both 13 fWAR), Braves (20 fWAR) and Nationals (21 fWAR).

wright murphyMeanwhile, the Mets´ projected offense is a lot closer towards contender status at a combined 19 fWAR, well ahead of the Marlins (12 fWAR) and Phillies (15 fWAR) and barely behind the Braves (20 fWAR) and Nationals (23 fWAR).

And if you look back into the rear view mirror (something all projection systems heavily rely on), the Mets offense averaged 634.5 runs between 2012 & 2013 – with very similar rosters except for Marlon Byrd replacing Scott Hairston and the C position being in flux and CF traditionally unsettled. The Phillies averaged 647 runs (in a hitter friendlier park), the Marlins averaged a terrible 561 runs, the Nationals 693.5 and the Braves 694. So, the Mets were 60 runs away from leading the division in runs scored. Since 1 win takes 10 runs scored or not allowed, the Mets were about 6 wins away on offense from contending for the division crown.

Meanwhile, the pitching was a lot further away at an average of 696.5 runs allowed.

The Nats – on average – allowed 610 runs while the Braves merely allowed 574 runs. So, the Mets were between 86.5 and 122.5 – thus on average 104.5 runs or 10+ wins – off the league lead. Even the Marlins (685 runs allowed) were better and the Phillies – in a much tougher homepark – allowed only 714.5 runs on average – 28 more than the Mets staff´s averaged.

Scott Hairston (2012) & Marlon Byrd (2013) now get replaced by Curtis Granderson while Travis d’Arnaud takes over at catcher for Josh Thole (2012) and John Buck (2013). CF remains unsettled but now features Juan Lagares & Chris Young as the main options instead of the revolving door of 2013 and Kirk Nieuwenhuis & Andres Torres in 2012. The rest of the roster essentially returns, though it appears only one of Duda & Ike Davis will play regularly. All in all, if d´Arnaud is better than Buck & Thole were, while the CF also produce more, expecting the 2014 Mets to score at least 650 runs seems reasonable and thus a gain of 1 or 2 wins as it is, not expecting any breakouts from Ike or Tejada or regression from Wright and Murphy.

zack wheeler 2But it all comes down to the pitching. If the Mets staff gives up 695 or more runs again – and thus on average 100 more than the Nats & Braves figure to give up – they won´t make up the difference. If the Mets give up 50 runs less by pitching better, that´s good for 5 wins and a .500 season overall (650 RS vs. 645 RA). If the Mets give up 100 runs less by pitching much better – both in the rotation and bullpen – they would make up another 5+ games and would project to end up right around 86 or 87 wins. And if you happen to like the depth that the Mets will finally have on both their pitching staff (Montero, Syndergaard, young relievers, etc) and offensively (mainly Flores but also some fringy outfielders like Nieuwenhuis & MDD), the upside may even be a little higher compared to the 2012 and 2013 teams that both lacked quality depth behind the regulars.

To summarize, the Mets figure to have a middle of the pack offense in 2014 and going forward. Which isn´t too bad, considering that Citi Field plays about neutral to slightly pitcher friendly. If the pitching remains below average like it has been in 2012 and 2013, the Mets won´t crack .500 and certainly won´t contend. If the young arms perform and the veterans remain solid, this is the big area of upside – both rotation & bullpen – where the Mets could improve significantly.

Presented By Diehards

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Tackling 4 Main Arguments Against Signing Stephen Drew http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/tackling-the-four-main-arguments-against-signing-stephen-drew.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/tackling-the-four-main-arguments-against-signing-stephen-drew.html/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 22:34:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140711 stephen drew

Why should the Mets sign Stephen Drew?  I mean, 3 years and $30-36 million is crazy for Drew, right?  Here are some of the arguments flying around this offseason regarding Drew.

“He’s not worth it, he’s just barely average.”  

“Drew is hurt all the time. He is way too injury prone.”

“Drew costs too much, not worth it.” 

“Give Tejada another shot.”

Let’s tackle all four issues one by one and take an in depth look at Drew, and then decide.

1. Drew Is Just Barely Average

Let’s compare Drew to some of the other SS in the league.

rWAR
1. A. Simmons – 6.8
2. H. Ramirez – 5.4
3. T. Tulowitzki – 5.3
4. E. Andrus – 4.3
5. J.Segura – 3.9
6. I.Desmond – 3.7
7. J. Hardy – 3.7
8. J. Peralta – 3.3
9. Y. Escobar – 3.3
10. S. Drew – 3.1

fWAR
1. T. Tulowitzki – 5.6
2. H. Ramirez – 5.1
3. I. Desmond – 5.0
4. A. Simmons – 4.7
5. Y.Escobar – 3.9
6. J.Peralta – 3.6
7. J.Lowrie – 3.6
8. S. Drew – 3.4
9. J. Segura – 3.4
10. J. Hardy – 3.4

If you like sabermetrics, Drew was Top 10 among all SS last season in wins above replacement in both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.

He was also 2nd in BB% (10.8) behind only Tulowitzki (11.1), 3rd in ISO right behind Tulo and Hanley at .190, and 9th in wRC+ 109.

Sabermetrics not your cup of tea?  Let’s look at some standard statistics.  Drew finished in the Top 8 among all shortstops in 2013.

He also finished in the Top 10 in:
- SLG% – 6th
- OBP – 9th
- Doubles – 10th

He finished Top 5* in:
- RBI – 5th
- Triples – 2nd
- Walks – 4th

*Despite playing in only 124 games last season.

All standard statistics guys like the HR

NAME HR
T. Tulowitzki 25
J. Hardy 25
H. Ramirez 20
I. Desmond 20
A. Simmons 17
J. Lowrie 15
A. Cabrera 14
S. Drew 13

Conclusion: Drew was definitely not average in 2013.  He was a top 10 SS.

2. Drew Is Hurt All The Time

Is Drew injury prone?

Years played by year:

  • 2006 – 59
  • 2007 – 150
  • 2008 – 152
  • 2009 – 135
  • 2010 – 151
  • 2011 – 86
  • 2012 – 79
  • 2013 – 124

Drew averaged 147 games per season from 2007, his first full year, through 2010.

In July of 2011 Drew fractured his ankle sliding into home plate that required surgery. You can view the video online simply by searching “Drew injures ankle”.  It is gruesome. He was out for the rest of the season after playing in almost every game up to that point.

The injury required surgery that cost Drew the first 74 games of the 2012 season. He played 79 of 89 games upon his return and that includes being traded to Oakland from Arizona at the deadline.  It comes as no surprise that, after missing a full year from a serious injury, 2012 was by far his worst season with a .657 OPS

If you take out 2011-2012 during which he was recovering from surgery, Drew has averaged 142 games per season throughout his career, and looks to be fully recovered after his stellar 2013 campaign. If someone ask me the question “Is Stephen Drew injury prone?” my answer would have to be, NO. He just had one really bad injury.

Let’s look at Drew’s 162 and then converted 142 game average

162 Games: .264/.329/.435 – 160 H –  82 R – 36 2B – 10 3B – 16 HR – 72 RBI

142 Games: .264/.329/.435 – 140 H – 72 R – 31 2B – 9 3B – 14 HR – 63 RBI

Pretty nice numbers for a shortstop.  Especially one that is so good defensively.  Keep in mind that these numbers include his 2012 season in which he was returning from a year away from baseball. The numbers above should translate very well to Citi Field. Even if he does miss some time, he was still a top 10 shortstop last season in 124 games.  I would imagine he might be top 5 over the course of a full season.

Conclusion: Drew is not injury prone.

3. Drew Costs Too Much

Jhonny Peralta just got a 4-Year, $53 Million deal on the open market coming off a suspension for PEDs and is almost two years older than Drew. Peralta didn’t cost a draft pick, but Drew will only cost the Mets a 3rd round pick, and he is much better defensively than Peralta. 

Consider their 162 Game Averages

Peralta – .268/.330/.425 – 160 H – 82 R –  35 2B – 3 3B – 18 HR – 82 RBI – .755 OPS

Drew – .264/.329/.435 – 160 H – 82 R – 36 2B – 10 3B – 16 HR – 72 RBI – .764 OPS

Surprisingly close.  Almost identical, and I like Drew’s intangibles by a mile.  It will be interesting to see how Peralta performs with no juice, from age 32-35 while switching leagues.  I’ll take Stephen Drew in his 31-33 season all day long, and it will only cost $30 million for three years at the most. as opposed to $53 million for the PED guy.  Whether you like Drew or not, the current market rate for comparable shortstops is 4/$53.

Conclusion: Drew’s asking price is a bargain relative to the market. 

4. Forget Drew and Give Tejada Another Shot

Personally, I’m not a big Ruben Tejada fan.  I don’t like his work ethic, at all.  Maybe he will grow out of it, but for the most part, as it pertains to work ethic, you either have a strong one, and it drives you all the time, or you don’t.  It’s not something you learn.  A burning desire to get better every single day, is not something you can pick up from a trainer in the offseason. It’s clear to me that Tejada has no fire.  On top of that, he has no tools in his tool box.  It’s possible a different manager might be able to motivate Tejada to obtain better results, but its pretty clear Terry Collins isn’t that guy.

The one thing that I do like about Tejada is that he can hit left-handed pitching.  Coincidentally, the one down side of Drew’s resume is that he doesn’t hit LHP very well.  I don’t hold it against him though, as very few lefties in baseball fair well against their pitching counterparts these days. The LOOGY spot on the roster has changed the game.  Thanks LaRussa.  Choo just received $150 million dollars, and he can’t hit lefties either.

Tejada would make a very nice backup middle infielder if we signed Drew.  Those 20 games per season that Drew misses, can be days off against a LHP, which should not only boost Drew’s numbers, but Tejada’s as well.  Tejada can also give Murphy a day off or be a late defensive replacement, as Murphy hits RHP much better than he hits LHP. Tejada has a place on the team, it’s just not as the starting shortstop.

           Vs RHP               Vs LHP   
Drew    .284/.377/.498      .196/.246/.340
Murphy  .292/.331/.459      .273/.292/.324
Tejada  .171/.219/.212      .274/.348/.371

Conclusion:  Drew renders Tejada a valuable backup.

The bottom line is the Mets are a much better team with Stephen Drew.  I understand Alderson waiting out the market, but even getting Drew for three years is a bargain at this point, though he likely signs for two.

You could argue that next year’s free agent class is stronger, but you could also argue that several of those SS will cost  a First Round Pick + much more money than Drew is currently asking for.  You could also argue that Drew is just as good, if not better, than any of the free agent SS on the market next season, with the exception of Hanley.  And I’ll be surprised if Hanley reaches free agency.

I’m not saying that Drew will make the Mets a playoff team, but crazier things have happened.  Cleveland added Swisher & Bourn and made the playoffs after a terrible 2012.  Is that much different than adding Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, Chris Young and Drew?   Let’s put the glass slipper on CinDREWella’s foot.  It’s almost midnight.  Time is running out.

mmo

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Pitching Market On Hold Until Tanaka Signs By Friday Deadline http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/pitching-market-on-hold-until-tanaka-signs-by-friday-deadline.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/pitching-market-on-hold-until-tanaka-signs-by-friday-deadline.html/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 21:23:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140319 tanakaThe clock is ticking on Masahiro Tanaka.

He has until Friday, January 24th to sign with a MLB club, and until he’s signed, sealed, and delivered – the rest of the free agent pitching market is in limbo.

The Yankees want Tanaka, but will he sign to play in New York?

Once he signs, the rest of the market will begin to fall. If I were the agent of 4 of the 5 top remaining Free Agent starters, I would hope that Tanaka signs anywhere, but the Bronx. Why? Because with the Yankees desperate to improve their starting pitching, they’ll be in the hunt for at least one or two of the top remaining arms and that means big dollars and over-sized deals.

That lull in the big-name free agent market is about to end and the Hot Stove will be heating up again by the end of this week.

Top 5 Remaining Free Agent Starting Pitchers:

Ubaldo Jimenez – Back in 2010, Ubaldo looked like he was about to become one of the dominant pitchers in the game. He was taming the thin air in Colorado and in the first half of the season, he went 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 18 starts. He came back to Earth with a 4-7 record and a 3.80 ERA in the second half. His 2011 and 2012 seasons weren’t anything spectacular by any imagination going a combined 19-30 (including a league leading 17 losses with the Indians in 2012) and saw his ERA climb to 4.68 and 5.40 over those two years. He returned back to form in 2013 for the Indians, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and had a strong second half – going 6-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts down the stretch after a 4.56 ERA in the first half. He does take the ball regularly and will give whatever team signs him innings and has started at least 31 games for six consecutive seasons. If I were a GM, I’d be hesitant to tie up a lot of money and a lot of years in him. He’s a pitcher that had a great first half of 2010, a strong second half of 2013, and a lot of mediocre in between.

Ervin Santana – Ervin will take the ball. He’s started at least 30 games for the last four seasons and at least 23 games in all of his 9 MLB seasons. While he only had a 9-10 record last year, he posted a career low 3.24 ERA in 211 innings. He’s posted a sub-4 ERA 3 of the last 4 years while pitching over 200 innings those same three years. He was solid both at home and on the road as well as in the first and second half of 2013. Aside from his terrible 2012 season, his splits were also relatively consistent in 2010 and 2011. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the 5 years and $100 million he was reportedly asking, for he’s nowhere near a $20 million per year pitcher – but the back of his baseball card suggests that he’ll take the ball, give you innings, and more than likely will give you a solid outing.

Matt Garza – Every time I think of Matt Garza, I think of him spitting. Because he does it. A lot. That aside, we’re looking at a pitcher that’s made just 24 and 18 starts the last two seasons after a stress fracture in his elbow that cost him the end of 2012 and a lat strain that cost him the beginning of 2013. These injuries aside, he’s posted a sub-4 ERA for 7 straight seasons. 2014 will be his age 30 season. He may be a career .500 pitcher, but he can be a solid addition and a winning pitcher on a good team.

A.J. Burnett – A.J. is going into his age 37 season, but once he got out of New York, he’s proved he can still pitch – posting ERA’s of 3.30 and 3.51 in 2013 and 2012. He’s started at least 30 games each of the last 6 seasons and has had an ERA of 4.07 or lower in 8 of the last 10 seasons (the only exception being his last two years with the Yankees). A.J. will probably look to stay in the National League and in a smaller market. As long as he’s not in the Bright Lights, Big City – he should still be able to put up Big Numbers, Big Results for the right team next year.

Bronson Arroyo – Bronson is also entering his age 37 season but he also takes the ball every five days without fail. Arroyo’s made no fewer than 29 starts the last 10 years and since 2005, the only time he failed to reach 200 innings was in 2011 where he threw 199 innings. He’s also posted an ERA between 3.74 and 3.88 in 4 of the last 5 seasons. He should still be able to repeat over the next year or two.

Presented By Diehards

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A Met Prospect Hangs ‘Em Up, Shares Why With MMO http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-met-prospect-hangs-em-up-shares-why-with-mmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-met-prospect-hangs-em-up-shares-why-with-mmo.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 13:49:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139986 ZurcherLateApril2_22ank1er_58h9pxc0

Chad Zurcher announced on Monday, that he contacted the Mets organization to inform them he was retiring from the game.

As soon as I heard the news, I reached out to him and asked Chad if he would be comfortable in sharing some of the details that led him to his decision to walk away from the game which has been a part of his life for most of his life.

“The decision to retire from baseball was very difficult. I have played for so many years, since I was 4 or 5 years old. I do not recall a summer without baseball. It was a decision that was in my best interest going forward though.”

“I wrestled with it for many nights during my last stint while injured in August and throughout this off-season,” Zurcher said. ”It was difficult to leave an organization like the Mets who handle their business great. Their belief in me is something I will always remember. A first class organization.”

It wasn’t just one injury that kept the 25-year old Zurcher from the field. “It was more of a result of multiple injuries than it was one specific injury. I had my right shoulder fixed in 2009, missed 2012 with surgery on my left shoulder, and this past season I tore cartilage in my wrist in April. After returning from that injury, my right shoulder began bothering me again. I was hoping the wrist would recover with rest in the off season, but it has not.”

Even with multiple injuries, he continued to battle through hoping that his body would react better, but it just became worse, “It became apparent when my shoulders would bother me on and off during normal activities and the wrist stayed painful. The injuries were the main reason because it took some desire away missing all those games. It became such a problem that I realized if I were to get banged up again that it would just crush me and be too hard to keep playing,” says Zurcher.

The competition that an athlete faces each and every season, helps to build the competitiveness in their blood, but the camaraderie that they build amongst their teammates, is what creates a life long impression. “What I will miss most is competing and the friendships I built along the way. I will miss competing with my teammates against the opponents and competing with myself. Baseball is a challenging game, and if you are not competing daily with others and yourself to get better, then you will be left behind.”

“I will miss the friendships during the season and playing along side them, but I think I have created lifelong friends that I know I can talk to all the time. These friendships were created to last longer than just during the baseball season and during our careers.”

Making a sudden change to a career, can sometimes be a daunting decision, but Zurcher created a path to lead him to other goals, “I have a general direction of what I want to do. I definitely want to stay around sports, and that is what I am currently doing. I am interning in Arena Operations at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.” He continues, “Working in a collegiate athletic department or for a professional organization would be ideal. There is always the possibility of coaching baseball in my future as well. Also, I know through my faith that my path has already been laid out for me as long as I stay on the correct track. Jeremiah 29:11 assures me of this.”

Looking back, he knows that there are no regrets, maybe missed opportunities, but a new path will open up, and old memories will always be a part of his life. “I felt like I did well when I had my opportunity, especially after missing a year. I wish I could have found a way to stay healthy. I tried for years during high school, college and pro ball to get bigger and stronger, but it was always a challenge for me. I wish I could have done that better. I do not know if it would have helped because the strongest and most in shape I had ever been was right before the 2012 season.”

“All in all, I have zero regrets because I feel like for the past 20 years I gave it my all, competed night in and night out, created tons of lifelong friendships, and genuinely cared about those who touched my life. I hope I touched theirs as well.”
A special note from Chad Zurcher:

Mr. Conde,

I appreciate you taking the time to allow me to explain the past few years a little more. I want to thank you for the support and being so kind. I will continue reading your articles because I am interested in seeing how my former teammates do and how the Mets continue to grow.

Thank You Chad for your time. Mets fans will remember your dedication both on and off the field, and we at MMO and MMN wish you much success in your new journey.

Presented By Diehards

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Mets Finances: How Low Is Too Low To Win? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-finances-how-low-is-too-low-to-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-finances-how-low-is-too-low-to-win.html/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 13:03:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139729 alderson sandy wilpon

An MMO Fan Shot by Ryan Flanagan

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, points of contention between Met fans and its ownership is the current state of payroll and spending power. The Mets, in the largest market in the United States, held a payroll in the bottom 10 in baseball and in 2013 that ranked 22 out of 30 total teams. This, in a market where a borough away another MLB team held a payroll of over $238 million in 2013, roughly $161 million dollars greater than the Mets. In fact, the Yankee payroll was over three times the Mets last season. I know, it’s not fair to compare to the Yankees. That said, it’s not just the Yankees that have far surpassed the Mets spending power.

To get a sense of Met fan frustration, the Mets have not been a broke franchise. In fact, in a vacuum, the team should be set up to have a great ability to spend. Though the team’s finances are tight-lipped and generally unknown to the public, there are certain revenue streams that cannot be ignored and that fail to make their way to improving a baseball team that boasts a majority of minor league players on a major league roster.

SNY: Sportsnet New York has been a very successful venture for the Mets. The network, shared by Time Warner, Comcast and the Mets has seen tremendous revenues in recent years. Quoted by Forbes.com, the revenues for the network were $268 million in 2012. The Mets, whom own a 65% stake in the network, would have received a $174.2 million dollar profit in that year alone. (The numbers aren’t yet out for 2013) While this would seem an obvious revenue source for payroll flexibility, the Mets use leverage those funds to pay debts and litigation fees.

MLB TV Deal: The MLB struck blockbuster deals with ESPN, TBS and FOX for game airing rights, both running through 2021. The ESPN deal is worth $700 million and the TBS and FOX deal is worth $800 million. This $1.5 billion TV contract awarded each team 25 million to spend in 2013, at the team’s discretion. Again, while this would normally be seen as a no-brainer to improve payroll, it’s unknown where the funds will end up. The $25 million received from the MLB, alone, can nearly pay for all the Mets 2013 acquisitions.

Selling Shares of the Team: The Wilpons, in a desperate attempt to salvage ownership of the struggling franchise, sold off 48% of the team to investors to the tune of $248 million dollars. This, of course, was not used for the team but rather to pay for their own financial conflicts and debt accumulation.

Amway Deal: In a rather head-scratching move, the Mets brought Amway into Citi Field, after the company paid out $155 million in lawsuits due to similar illegality of financial moves. Sound familiar? While the terms of the deal between the Mets and Amway was not publicized, the Mets are surely getting revenue from the company to hold a storefront on the blighted 126th street.

Advertisements: Citi Field, as gorgeous and enjoyable as it is, houses a tremendous amount of advertising seemingly on every surface in the ballpark. Though the revenue numbers are unknown, it is surely a lucrative venture for the Mets.

MLBAM: The MLB Advanced Media deal is the general fund of online ticket sales, MLB shop sales, content subscriptions and advertising/sponsorships. In 2012, the revenue totaled $650 million dollars which each team receiving around $100 million in revenue, which is estimated to be reach $150 million a team in 2013.

Gate Sales: It’s been widely documented that the Mets have had declining attendance as a result of the recession and declining performance. That said, the Mets still grossed 84 million in sales ranking 21st in the league in attendance.

2013 Revenue: The Mets, even at one of the worst stretches in a long time, ranked 11th in total revenue in 2013 at $232 million. Even with low attendance and a struggling team, the Mets still remain among the top in revenue.

Deal with Citi: While the Mets are on the hook for roughly $600 million to build Citi Field, which would typically seen as a major hurdle, is being subsidized $400 million by Citicorp on a 20 million per-year deal. That limits the Mets stadium obligations to around just $200 million which should be manageable.

While the above remain the largest revenue streams, the Mets also gain revenue from several other sources. Below is a list of 2012 stadium-only revenue for the Mets, provided by Newsday:

REVENUE, 2012 (as of Sept. 30)

Retained seats: $44,111,395*

Advertising: $44,170,209

Concessions: $11,986,369

Luxury suite: $8,583,116

Parking: $7,167,770

Other: $2,642,348

Revenue total: $118,661,207

*Represents about 25 percent of all tickets sold; includes 10,635 premium seats. Source: New York City Industrial Development Agency

So, how much does it take to win?

The Mets payroll, in early January 2013, stands at $85.9 million dollars. That is set to be near the bottom of the MLB with the likes of Tampa Bay, Houston and Florida – a place the Mets never want to be. So much discussion centers on payroll to the literal dollar amount, so I did some research on the past 13 World Series Champion payrolls to see what winning clubs have been paying on average in an effort to bring fact to argument.

** Of course, inflation over that decade plays a major role in payroll as the early 2000s produced contracts that don’t even compare to those given out in 2013.**

World Series Champion

Payroll (dollars)

2013 Red Sox $150,655,500
2012: Giants 117,620,683
2011: St. Louis 105,433,572
2010: San Francisco 97,828,833
2009: Yankees $201,449,289
2008: Philles $98,269,881
2007: Red Sox $143,026,214
2006: Cardinals $88,891,371
2005: Red Sox $121,311,945
2004: White Sox $65,212,500
2003: Marlins $49,050,000
2002: Angels $61,721,667
2001: Diamondbacks $81,206,513
2000: Yankees $92,538,260
Average Payroll $105,301,159
Mets 2013 Payroll 85,900,000

fanshot

Figure 1: World Series Championship Payrolls. *Red Line signifies Mets 2013 Payroll

The average payroll of World Series Champions, over the past 13 years, is $105,301,159. There are a few cases where teams that didn’t spend a lot won the championship. That list includes the Angels in ’02 with a payroll of $61,721,667, the Marlins in ’03 with a payroll under $50 million and the ’04 White Sox with a payroll of $65 million. It must be noted, however, that the payrolls of the ’02 Angels and ’03 Marlins were not that low by payroll standards at the time. The only other team that arguably didn’t spend a great deal to win could be the 2006 Cardinals  who spent $88 million, but that still was a reasonable number 8 years ago.

So what does this mean?

Beyond the 3 or 4 teams out of the past 13 champions that won on limited budgets, the rest have spent considerably to win.

The notion that spending does not equate to championships is rather a poor-man’s perspective. Sure, teams have been able to win by not spending a lot, but they are anomalies and the minority of champions.

Every team, beyond the few mentioned that won with little, spent over $95 million to win the World Series. If you exclude the Cardinals, the low-budget winners account for only 23% of teams that won over the past 13 years.

That means roughly 77% of teams that have won the World Series over the past 13 years, have done so with “big” payrolls.

That is just statistical fact, no matter how you look at it.

Does this mean the Mets have to spend over $105,301,159 in order to compete? Of course not, but under-spending the way the club has does not seem like a promising recipe for success. By the data, it looks as if the Mets would want to spend at least around 100 million to contend. Who knows, maybe they are that anomaly. Maybe the Mets have enough young talent to overcome the lack of experienced, proven MLB talent that comes with spending money. I won’t hold my breath, however.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Ryan Flanagan. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Giving Ruben Tejada A Shot At Redemption http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/giving-ruben-tejada-a-shot-at-redemption.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/giving-ruben-tejada-a-shot-at-redemption.html/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2014 18:10:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139426 ruben tejada

I was on the phone the other day with a friend who is a die-hard Met fan like the rest of us. We got around to talking about the addition of Chris Young and we argued about the signing which he absolutely loved, but me not so much. He brings up all the what-if scenarios going 2-3 years back to bring up Young’s exploits which I can’t disagree with, the power is certainly there.

But then when we moved onto shortstop, he couldn’t stop ragging on Ruben Tejada. I asked him why he was so willing to go back three years to look at how good Young could be, but wouldn’t even consider that a year ago everyone was perfectly happy with Tejada? No answer.

Why is it that so many Met fans, even those who loved Tejada in 2011 and 2012, are so unwilling to give Tejada a chance to rebound at age 24? Is it that far-fetched to think that 2013 was the exception and not the rule?

I did some digging around and found some interesting quotes about Tejada from 2011 and 2012. Check ‘em out…

MMO Joe D. - Dec. 30, 2011

Nobody is expecting Tejada to replace Jose Reyes, but it’s not far-fetched to say he may already be a far better defender than the former Mets star. If Ruben Tejada can make some incremental improvements to his offensive game along the way – something I fully expect him to do – then we could have something special at shortstop by the time we’re ready to make some noise again in the NL East.

Amazin Avenue – Dec, 26, 2012

But while Tejada lacks big-time projection, he also lacks big-time flaws. I’d venture to say that while his ceiling isn’t so high, his floor is. Ruben’s 2011 and 2012 proved that, if a few things don’t break exactly right, he still provides league-average value at a critical position for bargain-basement cost. The fact that his bat is playing at something close to league-average at the age of 22 speaks to his ability to be a starting-caliber player, long-term…If I squint *really* hard, I see a solid, productive regular at the position for a while, with the upside of a Yunel Escobar. And if Ruben merely repeats his 2012 performance for years to come, he certainly won’t be holding the Mets back.

MMO Ed Leyro – Sep. 22, 2011

Tejada has been a model of consistency at the plate, hitting .281 vs. RHP and .276 vs. LHP.  He is also hitting .272 at Citi Field and .287 on the road.  His .356 on-base percentage ranks second on the team behind Jose Reyes for players currently on the active roster.  Tejada has also struck out only 47 times in 339 plate appearances. But what sets him apart from the Tejada we saw in 2010 is his ability to hit under pressure and in RBI spots.  This year, Tejada is batting .304 with men on base and has a .377 OBP in those situations.  With runners in scoring position, Tejada is a .286 hitter, but has reached base at a .383 clip.  But those numbers are nothing compared to what he does when there is a runner 90 feet away from scoring. In all situations when he has stepped to the plate with a runner on third base, Tejada is hitting .375 and has a .425 OBP.

Wall Street Journal – July 16, 2012

In so many ways, Ruben Tejada remains linked to the man he replaced, Jose Reyes. Yet in his first season as the Mets’ starting shortstop, Tejada has also separated himself from his former teammate. He is far more than a protégé now. And his presence at the top of the lineup is anything but a reminder of what the Mets lost last winter. At age 22, Tejada has emerged as a valuable everyday player in his own right and, in doing so, helped ease the sting of losing Reyes. He isn’t the elite player Reyes was—and may never be—but when healthy, Tejada has been everything the Mets needed him to be this year: a slick fielder with a knack for getting on base. Those are two critical attributes on a team that has a scarcity of above-average fielders and, offensively, values plate discipline above all else. 

ESPN Mark Simon – Dec. 5, 2011

Jose Reyes’ departure from the New York Mets clears the way for a potential defensive standout in 2012. Newest Mets everyday shortstop Ruben Tejada doesn’t hit or run like Reyes, but his defensive work rates higher statistically in one notable area. In 353 innings at shortstop, Tejada was credited with 24 Out of Zone plays. That’s a significant number. Tejada’s rate of one Out of Zone play for every 14.7 innings played ranked best among all major league shortstops that played at least 350 innings at the position last season. Additionally, Tejada’s play at the position passes the eye test.

* * * * * * * *

It’s looking more and more like Tejada will be at shortstop for us on Opening Day – like it or not. He is not that far removed from what was two good seasons in which he produced at an above average level and at a remarkably young age. He did this under intense pressure as well.

Why not give the kid a break and give him a shot to redeem himself… He’s been working his ass off all Winter long and is committed to taking his performance to a higher level. Tejada never gripes or complains, and let’s not pretend he wasn’t treated very unfairly at times by his own manager Terry Collins.

Here are a few videos I found to remind you how good Tejada can be on defense and offense…

Tejada On Defense

Tejada On Offense

 

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Can Ike Davis Win The First Base Job For The Mets in 2014? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/can-ike-davis-win-the-first-base-job-for-the-mets-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/can-ike-davis-win-the-first-base-job-for-the-mets-in-2014.html/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 14:24:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139326 ike-davis

So it seems the Mets are prepared to go into spring training and have Ike Davis and Lucas Duda duking it out to see who the Mets’ first baseman is in 2014.

They’re both lefties, so there is no platoon scenario here. At the end of spring, one of those two men will be standing victorious, and the other better get used to picking splinters.

I am still under the premise that the Mets would rather not start the season with Ike on the roster, but the latest news that the Mets are going to go into spring training with Davis should come as no surprise. I’m not so sure Davis is being brought back to compete for the job so much as Sandy Alderson would like to build his trade value.

If Davis is mashing in the spring, and some teams suffer some early season injuries, Alderson may finally get that pitching prospect he’s been holding out for. If no trade is made, the Mets may have the old Davis back. It’s a win, win situation…unless of course, Davis comes in and stinks up the joint this spring. The Mets would then be forced to decide if they leave spring training with Davis on the roster.

I did an analysis on Duda about a week ago (you can read it here). Today, we will look at Davis.

With Duda, we had to look at the numbers to see if there was a story regarding what was going on. But with Davis, it’s a little easier to see. His swing was a mess in 2013—plain and simple.

In all honesty, Davis’ swing is not all that different from Chris Davis‘ swing. Both hitters drop their hands as they recoil to generate power and bat speed—the difference with Ike is that he starts with his hand much higher than Chris does.

Take a look at Chris Davis’ swing below and you can see there isn’t much difference aside from where they start their hands, which is actually all the difference in the world.

Sometimes all it takes is a tweak, and hopefully Ike spent the winter tweaking his swing. When he is standing in the box, he uses a wide stance. This prevents the hitter from having a long stride, which can change their eye level during the swing.

The major issue I have with Ike Davis’ swing is that there is just way too much going on before the pitch arrives. He has to shorten his path to the ball. Like I said earlier, Chris Davis also drops his hands, but his path is shorter to the ball than Ike’s. This allows Chris Davis to take full advantage of his power by generating better bat speed. See a breakdown of Ike’s swing below.

In 2013, Davis started his swing with his hands very high, above his head. Then as the pitcher starts his motion, he drops his hands almost down to waist level, then has to bring them back up to the zone to get his hands in a position to hit. That is a ton of noise before he has to prepare for a 95 mph fastball. With all that going on, he almost has to be thinking fastball on every pitch in order to catch up to it, which is probably why he has so much trouble hitting the off-speed pitch.

When looking at some of Ike’s numbers in comparison to 2012, many of them did not show much of a drop off—his contact rate remained the same, and his swing percentage was the same. It boils down to the fact that he is not making the authoritative contact that he did in 2012 which led to 32 homeruns.

The major difference from 2012 to 2013 seemed to be the amount of fastballs Ike was seeing. The amount of breaking balls he saw remained flat. It seemed that the pitchers immediately recognized what they had to do to get Ike out after seeing his mechanically-broken swing.

The pitchers weren’t afraid to attack Ike with their fastball, and then they would use off-speed pitches out of the zone to get Ike to chase—sometimes it worked, and Ike looked ridiculous flailing at pitches out of the strike zone, and sometimes it didn’t, which would explain Ike’s higher walk rate in 2013.

The fix is simple—don’t drop the hands, load them straight back and throw them at the ball like Chris Davis does. See the ball, hit the ball. This will allow Ike to tap into his power—get around on the fastball and drive the off-speed pitch.

By limiting what he is doing before the pitch arrives, he will be able to trust his hands more and adjust to whatever pitch he sees. By keeping his hands between his shoulder and ear, he already has them in a good hitting position, and doesn’t have to make three movements before the pitch arrives to get them there. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

If Davis wants to get better he has to leave his comfort zone. As Thomas Edison said, “we shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.”

Davis has a swing that would surely get him in the beer-league softball hall of fame, but it’s not going to cut it in the big leagues.

A coach once told me that “if you show the ability to do something on the field once, it means that you always have the ability to do it again.” He meant that nothing happens by mistake in baseball. You either have the ability to do something or you don’t. Whether you repeat your feats is all up to you.

Ike has the ability to hit 30-plus homeruns as he displayed in 2012. That means he should be able to do it again. Whether he does it again is all up to him. However, doing it again in a Mets uniform isn’t a guarantee.

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Prospect Pulse: Jayce Boyd Will Be In The Mix In 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/prospect-pulse-jayce-boyd-will-be-in-the-mix-in-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/prospect-pulse-jayce-boyd-will-be-in-the-mix-in-2015.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 21:10:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113648 Jayce Boyd Photo by Petey Pete

Jayce Boyd, First Base

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 185 lb.
Position: First Base
Age: 23 (Happy Birthday, Jayce!)
ETA: 2015
2013 MMO Top Prospect Rank: NR

Boyd was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Florida State University. He played both third and first base while attending FSU, and put up very impressive college numbers. He ended his career at FSU with a .349 average, 20 home runs, and 160 RBI. He was a second team All-American in 2012, and after deciding to forego his senior season at FSU, he signed with a Mets and received a $150,000 signing bonus.

“I don’t see any problem with Jayce handling the minor leagues,” said the Mets area scout. “… I honestly see him in the big leagues in three, three and a half years.”

That quote should really be resonating with fans right now, as Boyd hammered the ball all season in 2013, and is showing no signs of struggling in the minor leagues up to this point. Not at Single-A, anyway. Boyd put up video game numbers in 2013 across Savannah and St. Lucie, but the true test comes in 2014 with Binghamton.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
2013 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ 123 458 68 151 29 2 9 83 61 61 .330 .410 .461
2013 22 Savannah SALL A 65 249 40 90 16 1 5 46 35 32 .361 .441 .494
2013 22 St. Lucie FLOR A+ 58 209 28 61 13 1 4 37 26 29 .292 .372 .421
2 Seasons 177 659 86 199 38 3 14 102 86 91 .302 .383 .432
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/3/2014.

Boyd is a plus-defender at first base—he has soft hands, a strong arm, excellent footwork, and good range. Offensively, he makes good contact, and will profile as a guy that will hit a ton of doubles and always have a solid batting average. He is armed with a smooth, effortless swing and the barrel of the bat always seems to find the ball.

The biggest knock on Boyd seems to be his inability to produce the deep fly, and when you stand 6-feet 3-inches tall, the scouts have a certain expectation when it comes to homerun numbers. It doesn’t mean that the power isn’t there. Boyd has excellent power, but it is reserved for the gaps as of this point.

It will be interesting to see how the Mets handle Boyd going forward. Ike Davis was another guy that came out of college and had a similar offensive profile to Boyd. Davis was known for a high batting average, and not really for the long ball in college. The power was there, but he wasn’t a big homerun hitter. The homerun power didn’t start to manifest for Davis until Double-A.

While Davis is known more for his power, through their age 22 season in the minor leagues, Boyd and Davis were very close in OPS as shown in the chart below. It’s also interesting to see how the past two regimes handled their prospects differently—while the previous regime recognized Davis had an advanced college bat, he skipped over Savannah and was already completed with Double-A by the end of his second professional season—the current regime had Boyd stop off in Savannah, and end the season in St. Lucie (his domination of Savannah shows he should have been on a similar path as Davis, as it was an unneccessary stop).

Davis_Boyd

Boyd has the potential to be a twenty plus home run guy at the big league level. Hopefully the Mets will not look at his size and see that as a disappointment, and let Boyd continue making noise with his bat at the plate. Power is the last thing to develop, and with Boyd’s frame, there is potential.

Boyd is definitely a player that Mets fans will want to keep an eye on as he develops over the next couple of years. He could be at Citi Field by 2015, and should be climbing up everyone’s top prospect charts in the meantime.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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Three Potential Breakout Hitters for Mets in 2014 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/three-potential-breakout-players-for-mets-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/three-potential-breakout-players-for-mets-in-2014.html/#comments Fri, 03 Jan 2014 12:32:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138687 juan lagares

Juan Lagares

‘Don Juan’ Lagares quickly stole the hearts of many Mets fans last season with his spectacular play in the outfield.  He makes tough plays look routine and impossible plays a reality.  Unfortunately, defense isn’t everything in baseball and with the exception of a scorching hot July, Lagares struggled mightily with the bat.

In 392 AB’s, Lagares ended the season with a .242/.281/.356 slash line with only 20 BB’s and 96 K’s.  There’s no doubt he needs to work on his plate discipline to find offensive success at the big league level. He doesn’t have much power potential so, in order to maximize his value, he should be trying to get on base any way he can. Becoming a bit more picky at the plate will yield him better pitches to hit and will allow him to draw more walks.

Lagares has decent speed so he could be a moderate stolen base threat, but he will need to increase his OBP by a significant amount for that to happen.  Don Juan was putting up impressive numbers in the Dominican Winter League before he went down with a knee injury but his success there was against inferior competition and should be taken with a grain of salt.  It is still a promising sign, nonetheless.

There have been grumblings that Eric Young Jr. may end up taking Lagares’ starting job because the Mets lack a true leadoff hitter, but hopefully that is not the case.  Many are expecting improvement out of Lagares this upcoming season and I’m one of them.  He knows what he needs to work on and if he can refine his approach at the plate, he should be able to hit enough to justify making center field his permanent home.

Travis d’Arnaud

Travis d’Arnaud had a rough go last season after missing a good chunk of the year with a fractured foot.  After his rehabilitation, he put up good numbers in the minors and when John Buck left on paternity leave, he got his shot.  He was far from impressive with a .202/.286/.263 slash line and 21 K’s in 99 AB’s.  I’m going to cut him some slack for these numbers because catching is usually a defensive first position and Travis had to first prove he could handle the backstop duties on a daily basis, which included getting accustomed to an unfamiliar pitching staff.  He had some trouble blocking pitches but looked good back there for the most part.

This season, however, he is definitely expected to perform much better with the bat.  Although with some swing and miss potential, he has a gorgeous swing that should be able to hit for at least a .280 average if he can stay healthy.  He should also be able to hit a fair share of bombs as his swing generates some power.  The Mets are starving for any extra offense they can get even after their winter additions and d’Arnaud could be a huge contributor in that department.  If he can stay healthy for a full year, something he has struggled to do thus far in professional ball, I expect he can put up above average numbers or at least significantly better numbers than last season.

Ruben Tejada

Before I am burned at the stake and proclaimed a witch, let me state my case.  Yes, I am aware of the abysmal season Tejada had and the questionable effort he gave last year.  A .202/.259/.260 slash line is frightening from any position on the field, but are we just going to completely disregard his promising 2012 season?

In 464 AB’s, Tejada batted .289/.333/.351.  This was his age 22 season and is not a small sample size.  I don’t see why he isn’t capable of putting up these kind of numbers again.  There has been some buzz that the Mets might be looking to trade for various shortstop prospects which does not make much sense to me.  If you’re going to take a chance on a young, unproven shortstop why not let that shortstop be Tejada?

The Mets have given so many chances to Ike to let him prove himself and I think Tejada deserves one of these chances as well, albeit with a short leash.  I think part of the reason Tejada put up such horrible numbers last season was because after his 2012 season, he became too comfortable.  I think he assumed he already proved himself and the starting job was his for the future.  I’m sure, by now, he has realized that is not how this game works.  If Tejada is given a shot to prove his unworthy effort last season was a fluke, I think he will have a better season than Stephen Drew and you can quote me on that.

Presented By Diehards

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First Base Frustrations? Don’t Panic. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/first-base-frustrations-dont-panic.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/first-base-frustrations-dont-panic.html/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 16:08:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138599 lucas duda ike davis

While it may frustrate the fan base that that New Year has rolled around and there has not been a resolution to the First Base situation, not making a trade may be the wisest move of all.

The adage in the stock market is Buy Low, Sell High. If the Mets First Base situation was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda would be trading at near their 52 week lows. Sure, Sandy would be kicking around the tires on trades for both players, but the GM on the other side of the conversation would also recognize that the Mets wouldn’t be bargaining from a position of strength with either player.

Yes, Ike has a 32 Home Run season under his belt from 2012 and hit .255 with 20 HR and 41 RBI in the second half of 2012 after a poor start. If Sandy were to sell high on Ike, it would have been after the 2012 season. It wasn’t done, of course, because we all felt that Ike would build upon his second half of 2012 and have a strong 2013 season.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Ike’s second half of 2013 was much improved over his first half. He hit .286 in the second half of the season, but his power dipped and he had only 4 HR and 15 RBI over his last 40 games. He also had his second straight season of starting poorly.

Yes, the potential is there for Ike to return to 30 Home Run form. He very well may get there – but here’s the rub. A General Manager who stakes his future on a player’s “potential” and makes the wrong decision can find himself on the unemployment line. Of course Sandy would be asking for a top prospect in return for Ike. He would argue that Ike is a proven 30 Home Run Major Leaguer that is entering his prime. The argument on the other side is, “If he’s that great, why would you look to trade him?”

Then there’s Lucas Duda. Lucas has potential. The last two seasons, I have thought that he reminds me of David Ortiz. Not the David Ortiz that we know as Big Papi. The David Ortiz that played for the Minnesota Twins. The big, left handed hitting player who had the potential to mash and was entering his later twenties that was never able to put it together. David put it all together and is on his way to Cooperstown. Lucas is still a player with that dreaded “potential” label.

When it comes to trade value, Ike has it in spades over Lucas. While 2013 was a disaster for Ike, he has built up a Major League resume that would make him attractive to a potential trade partner. Lucas has shown he has power, but hasn’t shown he can stick in the majors for a full season and he has earned himself trips back to the minors the past three seasons.

But Lucas being on the roster works against Ike’s trade value. Every other GM knows that the Mets have options at First Base were they to unload Ike. Not only do they have Lucas Duda, there’s Daniel Murphy (a proven major league hitter) that can easily shift over to first base because the Mets have another option at Second Base (Eric Young, Jr.). An opposing GM knows they may be doing the Mets a “favor” by alleviating the Mets of a logjam at first by taking Ike. If you’re doing someone a favor, why would you do them a second favor by also sending a top prospect in the Mets direction? That’s not buying low and selling high.

Unless Sandy gets the right offer for Ike, the wisest move may be to hold onto him and look to make a deal in spring training. Both Ike and Lucas will have an opportunity to raise their trade value, and if they’re both competing for the roster spot – it may bring out the best in both of them. Injuries also happen, and a potential trade partner may develop that suddenly finds themselves in need of a first baseman.

One of the two may assert himself and simply take the position away from the other. Both may fall flat on their faces. Or maybe Josh Satin will outplay both of them.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams – Don’t Panic.

Presented By Diehards

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Scouts Are Raving About Jeurys Familia http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/scouts-are-raving-about-jeurys-familia.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/scouts-are-raving-about-jeurys-familia.html/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 14:16:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137100 New York Mets starting pitcher Jeurys Familia

Jeurys Familia hasn’t thrown a lot this winter, but when he has, he’s been lights out, missing a ton of bats and flashing the mid-to-upper-90s velocity that has scouts raving, writes Baseball Prospectus. You can’t put a lot of stock in winter league performances, but you can put a ton of stock in young pitchers returning from injury and regaining velocity and missing bats.

I alluded to that in a recent mailbag I posted, based on what one scout told me last week. Yesterday, our own Pete Anselmo ranked Familia as his top Mets closing prospect.

You shouldn’t look too much into winter league stats, but last night, Familia was hitting triple digits on the radar gun.

Original Post 12/28

Jonathan asks…

What is the deal with Jeurys Familia? He seems to have fallen through the cracks which is odd being he was one of our top pitching prospects two years ago. Is he still in the Mets’ plans?

Joe D. replies….

That’s an interesting question. While Familia may have lost some of his luster he is still highly regarded by the Mets.

2013 was a lost year for the big righthander and he’s only pitched a grand total of 23 innings in the majors in the last two years. But it looks like the Dominican Republic native is just now starting to regain his full strength since a non-structural elbow injury wiped out his season this year.

In six relief appearances for Los Gigantes in the DWL, Familia has a 2.70 ERA in 6.2 innings pitched, allowing three walks and striking out twelve.

But it’s what some scouts noted about Familia during his play in the Arizona Fall League that should have us intrigued about this once highly regarded prospect. The hard-throwing righty was clocking in regularly at 95 mph and exhibiting the same velocity prior to his injury. That’s very significant for Familia who needs that plus-fastball to be effective.

Familia, 24,  was ranked No. 5 among Mets prospects by MLB.com entering the 2013 season and was ranked No. 90 by Baseball America in their Top 100 entering the 2012 campaign. While you won’t see Familia appearing on any top prospects lists for the 2014 season, there is still reason to be excited about this young arm.

Don’t count Familia out this Spring, as he could very well break camp with the Mets and secure a key role in what should be a much improved bullpen this season.

The Mets have always had a severe lack of power arms in their pen over the last 3-4 seasons, but that should all change in 2014. Good things are coming our way.

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