Mets Merized Online » Brandon Nimmo http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 03 Dec 2016 04:14:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Alderson’s 2011 Draft Paying Dividends http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/aldersons-2011-draft-paying-dividends.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/aldersons-2011-draft-paying-dividends.html/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2016 12:00:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=225535 sandy alderson

This past Saturday marked an anniversary of sorts for the New York Mets, as general manager Sandy Alderson was introduced and hired as the 12th general manager in team history on October 29, 2010.

Alderson signed a four-year deal at the time, with a club option for 2015, after working with Major League Baseball and then commissioner Bud Selig to help address the various corruptions in the Dominican Republic, such as identity and age fraud, use of performance enhancing drugs, and rogue sports agents.

Alderson had a large undertaking in front of him in spearheading the Mets from basement dwellers in the National League East to contention, as the Wilpon’s were reeling from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, and stadium attendance had been on the decline for several years.

Although it took several seasons for the Mets to regain relevance, Alderson’s initial MLB First-Year Player Draft in 2011 would turn out to be an essential draft for both last season’s improbable run to the World Series, and this year’s Wild Card Game.

Several key prospects from that draft would go on to help accelerate the Mets into postseason contention, while others were used as trade chips to bring in pieces that aided in their quest to bringing a championship to Queens.

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BRANDON NIMMO: 1st Round

The Mets selected Brandon Nimmo as their number one pick (13th overall) in the ’11 draft, the first position player drafted by the Mets since Ike Davis in 2008. Nimmo was a high school outfielder, who didn’t play high school baseball since Wyoming is one of three states that doesn’t have a baseball team.

Nimmo worked his way through the Mets’ system, having some underwhelming seasons before starting to put things together in 2014 with the St. Luice Mets in the Florida State League.

In 2016, Nimmo posted career highs in slugging (.541), OPS (.964), home runs (11), RBI (61), doubles (25), and batting average (.352), finishing second to teammate T.J. Rivera for the Pacific Coast League batting title.

Nimmo would finally get his opportunity in the majors on June 26, making his debut against the Atlanta Braves. Nimmo racked up the frequent flyer miles in 2016, as he would be optioned and recalled between Las Vegas and New York seven times.

Overall, Nimmo held his own in the majors, especially when it came to pinch-hitting, where in 12 at-bats his line was .500/.571/.500 and five runs scored. Nimmo had some good at-bats in September, and was utilized late in games for pinch-hitting and defensive replacement.

The Mets have options with Nimmo in 2017, as they could utilize him as a fourth outfielder or have him begin the year in Las Vegas where he’d get the most playing time. In any case, Nimmo has some upside in his game, as he does a good job spraying the ball to all fields, working the count, and getting on base. His energy and infectious smile and love for the game made him a fan favorite in ’16, and he should get one of the first call ups to Queens next year if the Mets need reinforcements.

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MICHAEL FULMER: CA

Michael Fulmer played a huge part for the Mets success in the second half of 2015 and beyond, without playing a major league game for the Amazins. Fulmer, 23, was the centerpiece prospect along with RHP Luis Cessa in the blockbuster trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets from Detroit.

The sizable Fulmer was drafted 44th overall as a compensation pick for losing LHP Pedro Feliciano to the Yankees the year before, and was having a stellar year for Binghamton prior to the July 31 trade with the Tigers, going 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 15 starts.

Fulmer followed his success in Double A with a potential Rookie of the Year season for the Tigers in 2016, going 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Fulmer was second in rookie wins behind Kenta Maeda (16), and third in fWAR (3.0), behind Jon Gray and Maeda.

“La Potencia” played the role of team MVP in the second half for the Mets, slashing .287/.337/.604, with 17 home runs, 44 RBI, and 39 runs scored in 57 games played. Cespedes had a strong Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, belting two homers with 4 RBI. Cespedes had his all-around best performance during Game 3 of the NLDS, going 3-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBI, in the Mets 13-7 romp over the Dodgers.

The rest of Cespedes’ postseason didn’t go as planned, as he struggled both at the plate and defensively, and had an ailing left shoulder in which he needed to lifted from Game 4 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs in the second inning.

The Mets were fortunate that the free agent market didn’t take off for Cespedes as he had hoped in the 2015-16 offseason, as Alderson was able to sign the right-handed power hitter to a three-year deal for $75 million, which included an opt-out after the first year. Cespedes is expected to opt out of his current contract, in hopes of obtaining a four or five year deal for over $100 million.

After another successful year in which Cespedes slashed .280/.354/.530 with 31 homers (his first back-to-back 30 homer seasons), and 86 RBI, losing that type of production would be a set-back for the Mets going forward, and are expected to try and hammer out an extension for the 31-year-old slugger once he opts out after the World Series.

While Fulmer slid in to the Tigers rotation this year, adding to the Mets plethora of talented pitching prospects to have gone through their system, Cespedes was the power threat the Mets had missed since the days of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, and was a main reason the Mets made the surge they did in the second half of 2015.

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ROBERT GSELLMAN: 13th Round

The Mets selected Robert Gsellman with the 402nd overall pick in 2011′s draft, and were encouraged by his athleticism, as he was a two-sport athlete in high school playing both baseball and basketball.

The six-foot-four right-hander had good success in the minors, registering back-to-back-to-back seasons in 2013-15 of a sub 3.00 ERA. When Steven Matz landed on the disabled list with shoulder tightness, Gsellman, 23, was called up to originally take a spot in the bullpen, while Jon Niese was slated to start.

Niese would tear his meniscus in the first inning of his August 23 start in St. Louis, requiring knee surgery. With Gsellman in the bullpen and ready to go in case of a short start by Niese, he stepped in and pitched 3.2 innings of two hit ball, walking three and striking out two, earning his first major league win.

Gsellman kept the Mets in the wild card hunt that night, just 3.5 games behind the Cardinals. In total, Gsellman pitched eight games, making seven starts, with a record of 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, the 7th lowest ERA among all rookie pitchers.

Gsellman pitched in plenty of meaningful games in September, including his September 30 start against the Philadelphia Phillies where he went six innings of one run ball, walking one and striking out seven. The win ensured the Mets would at least qualify for a tiebreaker after the regular season, and moved the team within one win or one Cardinals loss of clinching a wild card berth.

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 SETH LUGO: 34th Round

Seth Lugo was added to the Mets’ 40-man roster last offseason, a move the Mets and their staff should be happy they made. Lugo, 26, provided the Mets another capable starting pitcher in a year where Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler were all dealing with injuries and surgeries.

Lugo was called up on June 30 in place of LHP Sean Gilmartin. Lugo had worked tirelessly in the minors to reach his ultimate goal of making the major leagues, including working as a starter and out of the pen, and dealing with Spondylolisthesis in 2012, which occurs after a displacement of a vertebra in the spine. Lugo would miss the entire ’12 season, undergoing a lumbar fusion and a surgery that lasted almost 10 hours, and kept him bedridden for three months.

Lugo worked his way back from surgery, and started to increase his workload as he advanced in the minors. Once Lugo finally made it to Queens, he made the most of his opportunity, appearing in 17 games, making eight starts. He went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 64 innings, holding hitters to a .220 average. His splits were also impressive, as he was equally sharp against lefties as he was righties, posting a 2.89 ERA and .196 average against left-handed hitters and a 2.50 ERA and .240 average against righties.

Lugo had a four-game winning streak stretching from August 25 to September 11, tossing 25 innings and giving up five earned runs, striking out 18 while walking only five.

With the emergence of Lugo and Gsellman in ’16, the Mets enter next season with a several options in their starting rotation. The Mets are anticipating full recoveries from their walking wounded of 2016, however, as we are all aware, teams can NEVER have too much starting pitching depth, and in getting to witness several high intensity starts from both Lugo and Gsellman, fans should feel optimistic that the Mets starting rotation will once again be their strength.

Who would’ve thought that so many prospects from Alderson’s first draft would have key roles in helping the Mets reach the postseason for back-to-back years for only the second time in franchise history. Patience pays off when dealing with minor leaguers, and has paid off both in talent and the level of talent they’ve acquired in the various trades they’ve made the past two seasons. Patience is also hard to sell to fans, however, the Mets are poised to staying in contention for the foreseeable future, due in part to some of Alderson’s draft choices of previous years.

Honorable Mentions:

Logan Verrett: 3rd Round (1-1 3.03 ERA 0.88 WHIP in 2015, 3-8 5.20 ERA 1.56 WHIP in 2016)

John Gant: 21st Round (Used as trade chip along with Rob Whalen for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson in 2015).

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What Becomes of Brandon Nimmo? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/what-becomes-of-brandon-nimmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/what-becomes-of-brandon-nimmo.html/#comments Thu, 13 Oct 2016 14:45:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224804 brandon nimmo hr

The New York Mets will have themselves a crowded outfield entering 2017 with the likes of Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo under contract.

The team also holds a $13MM option on outfielder, Jay Bruce, that they are expected to exercise. Lastly, there is also a guy named Yoenis Cespedes who may or may not be returning to Citi Field in 2017.

So what becomes of Nimmo, if all return?

Nimmo has shown his ability to hit major league pitching in a small sample size of just 73 at-bats. He hit to a .274/.338/.329 batting line with one homer and six RBI while helping to produce 12 runs.

One of the happiest players you will ever see to grace the field, Nimmo is an electric personality. His smile is infectious, something you almost rarely see these days in the majors.

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Nimmo is one of those players where you feel if given a fair shot, may be able to produce a good season at the major league level. Just this past season, Nimmo along with Amed Rosario and T.J. Rivera were honored with the Sterling Minor League Organizational Player of the Year Award.

Brandon shined in the minors this year for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting to a .352/.423/.541 batting line to go along with 11 homers and 61 RBI while helping to produce 72 runs.

As we heard this past trade deadline, the Mets seemed willing to move Nimmo in the right deal. With other needs on the the team and outfield being a possible area of surplus depending on what becomes of Cespedes and Bruce, the Mets may again look to deal Nimmo in the offseason.

Nimmo deserves a chance to be an everyday player, whether it be with the Mets or another team. He just seems like one of those guys that other players can feed off of in the right setting.

Hopefully that chance will one day come with the Mets. Where do you see Nimmo ending up?

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The Other Side of Neon: A Painfully Honest Look at Baseball in the Desert http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/the-other-side-of-neon-a-painfully-honest-look-at-baseball-in-the-desert.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/the-other-side-of-neon-a-painfully-honest-look-at-baseball-in-the-desert.html/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2016 20:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222242 las-vegas

It was spring 1982 when this 16 year-old fan heard the worst news imaginable from his parents: “We’re moving to Las Vegas.” Who could’ve imagined that three decades later, the Mets, to a small degree, would follow me here. With the recent announcement of a 2-year extension in Las Vegas, I decided to blog about the Baseball landscape in the desert and hopefully offer some insight many of you may not be aware of.

Baseball debuted here in 1983 with the Las Vegas Stars, the Padres’ affiliate. Since then, Vegas has served as AAA home to the Dodgers, Blue-Jays and, starting in 2013, the Mets.

Simply put, Las Vegas is NOT a sports town. It’s a sports betting town.

Fan support for all sports is apathetic at best. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, led by Jerry Tarkanian, was the hottest ticket in the city. The 18,000 seat Thomas and Mack Center was sold-out every game. However, since the Runnin Rebels became a mediocre team in the mid-90’s interest has waned and attendance dwindled. The Rebels typically now play to a stadium 60% empty. The UNLV football team has been on life support for decades and there are frequent grumblings that the university should just discontinue the program altogether. They play at the Sam Boyd Stadium where you’re lucky to fill 8,000 seats in a 35,000 seat arena.  Even college students who are given free tickets don’t attend.

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Over the years Vegas has been home to indoor football, indoor soccer and the Continental Basketball Association. All were short lived. In the late 90’s the Las Vegas Thunder were a hugely popular IHL team. However, when their contract expired, Thomas and Mack didn’t renew, forcing the much beloved Hockey franchise to move elsewhere. The fact that minor league baseball has survived—not thrived–is due primarily to the power of the National Pastime.

The list of major leaguers who’ve come through here is impressive. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, John Kruk, Matt Kemp, Kevin McReynolds, Carlos Baerga, James Loney, Benito Santiago, Ozzie Guillen, Derrek Lee, Eric Gagne and Hall of Famer Robby Alomar all played here. The first HR hit at Cashman Field came off the bat of current Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Yet, minor league baseball remains this city’s best kept secret.

Case in point: In the inaugural season, 1983, the Las Vegas Stars averaged 4878 fans per game. The population of the city back then was just over 500,000.

In 2016, the Las Vegas 51’s averaged 4882 fans per game. The population of Las Vegas is currently 2.2 million.

In other words, while the population has increased over 400 percent, average attendance has remained flat.

There are 16 cities in the Pacific Coast League, many with lower populations than Las Vegas such as El Paso and Omaha. Yet, Vegas remains at or near the bottom in annual attendance year after year. In the last 5 seasons, Vegas has finished 14th, 13th, 16th, 14th and 15th.

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The question is why?

Granted, Cashman Field is not in the best of areas. Located 2 miles north of downtown it’s directly across the street from Potter’s Field and a stone’s throw from a homeless shelter and several tent cities. However, the ballpark itself is beautiful. Don Logan and company, I’m sure with help from the Mets, have made attending a game enjoyable. Parking is cheap ($5), ushers, vendors and attendants are pleasant and always courteous. Tickets are very reasonable and food is relatively inexpensive. Between innings there are the usual shenanigans and gimmicks that have existed at minor league games since the dawn of time. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t love to race Cosmo, the 51’s mascot who survived a UFO crash and spent time at Area 51, around the base paths?

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The answer is simple.

The casinos which rule this city and control all aspects of life here view every other business as competition. Each dollar you spend at a ballgame is one less dollar you can lose at a Craps table. If you want to go to a movie here you must walk into a casino. If you want to go to a rock concert you must go to a venue on The Strip. And many of you may be surprised to learn we have no lottery here. Think about that for a moment. No lottery in a state that survives solely on gambling. Whenever Powerball climbs to the hundreds of millions, there’s a mass exodus of locals driving to Arizona and California to purchase a ticket.

If you drive around the city you see no billboards promoting the 51’s. You rarely see a commercial on TV, hardly ever hear one on the radio. 51′s games are not televised. On the local news, the sportscaster gives a score. And that’s it. “Out at Cashman tonight, Las Vegas defeated Albuquerque, 7-2.” No highlights. If time permits you’ll get a quick four second snippet of an unnamed player hitting a HR. Maybe. I don’t ever recall hearing or seeing 51’s players involved in the community at all. I’m sure they do but it receives no attention from the media. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone wearing a 51’s t-shirt or a 51’s cap. A good friend of mine from Illinois is an avid Baseball fan who lives and dies with the Cubs. He lived in town over a year before even realizing we had a AAA team.

You may have heard that the NHL recently awarded Las Vegas a hockey franchise. This, however, is yet another example of how everything here is based around the casinos. The still unnamed team will play in the T-Mobile Arena which is located dead-center on the Las Vegas Strip. Locals go to The Strip about as often as New Yorkers go to the Statue of Liberty.

How often would you go to Citi Field if it was located on Fifth Ave. in the heart of midtown? And had to drive since Vegas, unlike New York, has no subway system and a bus system that’s a joke. This wont be a Hockey team for locals but rather yet one more tourist attraction, something to do if gamblers need a break from slot machines or were unable to get tickets to Carrot Top.

True, a AAA game is nothing like a major league game. An August showdown between the Mets and Nats is obviously more intense than the 51’s hosting the El Paso Chihuahuas. (Yes, that’s really their name.) Still, it always feels like the game on the field is secondary, almost irrelevant. Michael Conforto gets no more cheers stepping to the plate as does a third string catcher. “Fans” are more enthused when Cosmo launches t-shirts into the crowd than when Brandon Nimmo steps to the plate with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. The biggest crowd is usually on $1 beer night. Fans typically start filing out by the 6th inning no matter what the score is.

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I went to a game a couple weeks ago and silly me, I was actually watching the game and yes, keeping score. A little to my left were two guys my age who spent five innings discussing the pros and cons of various golf courses in town. To my right were two twenty-something women who gave up good seats to go sit in the grass beyond the LF wall because the sun was brighter and “we can get a better tan out there.”

A few rows behind me a fella wearing a Dodgers hat, drunk before the end of the National Anthem, yelled and cursed at the pitcher for Salt Lake, former Giant Tim Lincecum. Directly in front of me sat two middle-aged couples. In the bottom of the first, one asked, “Who’s playing?” The answer “The Mets minor league team and…someone else.” “Who should we root for?” The first person shrugged. “I don’t know. How about those guys in blue?”

The very concept of AAA Baseball is unique. Rosters are filled with players rehabbing, longing to get healthy and get back with the parent club. Veterans at the end of their careers are trying to impress someone—anyone–that they still have what it takes for one more shot. Young kids are hungry to achieve their childhood dream and make it to The Show. The one constant is that no one wants to be here.

And in the case of Las Vegas, truer words were never spoken.

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Mets Minors: Nimmo, Nido Hold Batting Title Leads http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-minors-nimmo-nido-hold-batting-title-leads.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/mets-minors-nimmo-nido-hold-batting-title-leads.html/#comments Sun, 04 Sep 2016 13:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222081 brandon nimmo hr

Las Vegas 51s (69-73) 11, Salt Lake Bees 2 Box Score

Rivera narrowed the gap for the PCL batting title with a great night as he trails Nimmo with two games left. Cecchini played his second career game at second base and had his 16 game errorless streak snapped. He committed a throwing error while trying to turn a 6-4-3 double play.

  • Darin Gorski LHP 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, ER, 4 BB, 7 K, W (6-4, 5.90)

Erie SeaWolves (61-78) 6 vs. Binghamton Mets (62-76) 3 BOX SCORE

Rosario had a multi-hit game but, did strikeout twice, he has struck out twelve times in his last six games. Cruzado hit his eight home run of the season, a two-run home run in the second. Evans is now at .329 as he chases Aneury Tavarez for the batting title who is now hitting .333 for Portland.

Rafael Montero was on a low pitch count because he is set to make a spot start on Tuesday for the Mets. Paul Paez allowed two runs as his struggles in Double-A continue.

St. Lucie Mets (74-60) 5 vs. Jupiter Hammerheads (67-69) 3 BOX SCORE

Tomas Nido collected four hits and leads the FSL with his .316 batting average. Nido missed a home run for the cycle and was the St. Lucie Mets lead off hitter to get as many plate appearances as possible. Urena is hitting .371 with ten RBI over his last ten games.

Casey Delgado pitched a solid game for his 12th win this season. He has eight with St. Lucie and four with Binghamton this season.

Columbia Fireflies (66-71) 5 vs. Charleston RiverDogs (74-62) 4 F/14 BOX SCORE

  • J.C. Rodriguez 2B: 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K .237/.302/.351
  • Patrick Mazeika C: 4 for 7, 2B, R, 2 K .303/.414/.402
  • Eudor Garcia 1B: 2 for 5, RBI .277/.330/.431

The Fireflies won on a walk-off error from the shortstop Hoy Jung Park on a Dash Winningham force out. J.C. Rodriguez hit his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth. Garcia is hitting .381 with 11 RBI in his last ten games.

The Fireflies bullpen was outstanding with nine scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and two walks. Bashlor struck out the side in the top of the 14th for the win.

Brooklyn Cyclones (37-37) 2 vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (30-43) 0 BOX SCORE

Woodmansee hit a two-run triple with two outs in the top of the sixth. Michael Paez was thrown out at the plate on that hit.

Jacobson has been very solid for the Cyclones. In 12 games (four starts), Jacobson has pitched to a 0.96 WHIP. Cornish now has a tremendous 44 strike outs compared to only three walks in his first pro season.

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Mets Minors: Conforto, Nimmo Homer Off Lefty http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-conforto-nimmo-homer-off-lefty.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-conforto-nimmo-homer-off-lefty.html/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 13:30:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221765 Photo: Josh Holmberg, Las Vegas Review

Photo: Josh Holmberg, Las Vegas Review

El Paso Chihuahuas 6, Las Vegas 51s  (66-72) 5 Box Score

Nimmo hit his 11th home run of the season setting a new career high in that department and it was off a lefty. He continues to lead the PCL in hitting. All three of Conforto’s hits came off a left-handed pitch in what should be his last minor league game, hopefully ever.

Church was promoted from Columbia before the game to take the spot of Logan Verrett but his flight was delayed and didn’t arrive until the third inning. Vegas beat writer Betsy Helfand reports that Kevin Plawecki, Michael Conforto, Gabriel Ynoa and Ty Kelly will join the Mets on Thursday.

Binghamton Mets 3 (62-72), Altoona Curve 1 (Pittsburgh) Box Score

Oberste is an underrated corner guy, and has hit for on base and average wherever he’s been with the Mets. If he can stick at third, it would be very good for his value. Rosario is more consistent after the leg injury slowed him down, but still is striking out at a 20% pace after only 12.4% in High-A. Champ Stuart covered a ton of ground to make this nice running catch.

Roseboom has been dominant as the B-Mets closer. Nabil Crismatt is going to get a start for Binghamton later this week.

West Virginia Power 7 (Pittsburgh), Columbia Fireflies 6 (63-71) Box Score

Winningham has been hitting for much more power in August, with four doubles and four homers. Mazeika has been scorching hot in August,

Blank fared much better than Canelon, but Tyler Bashlor (who had been sent from St. Lucie to Columbia), lost the game in the 10th.

Auburn Doubledays 5 (Washington), Brooklyn Cyclones 0 (34-36) Box Score

Paez has not fared well in his first season, but has a quick swing. Sanchez is 5 for his last 16. Cyclones bats did not wake up to salvage the season as they were eliminated from playoff contention today.

Dunn mowed down the Doubledays in his maximum three innings. However, Manoah didn’t fare as well and took the loss. Look for Manoah next year in Columbia’s rotation.

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Mets Minors: David Thompson Homers, Knocks in Four http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-david-thompson-homers-knocks-in-four.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-david-thompson-homers-knocks-in-four.html/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 13:30:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=221339 david thompson

Las Vegas 51s (62-70) 9, Salt Lake Bees 2 Box Score

Michael Conforto was given the day off with a lefty starter on the mound for Salt Lake. Travis Taijeron had two doubles giving him a Mets minor league system leading 40 on the season. Ty Kelly had two hits and drove in two runs.

  • Rainy Lara RHP: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (1-0, 3.18)
  • Jeff Walters RHP: 1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 2 K (5.82)
  • Josh Edgin LHP: Struck out only batter faced (2.73)

Walters has allowed only two earned runs over his last 14.2 innings and has given up just seven hits in that span.

Hartford Yard Goats 11, Binghamton Mets (60-68) 4 Box Score

Over his last ten games, Smith has walked 11 times compared to only three strikeouts.

St. Lucie Mets (66-58) 11, Charlotte Stone Crabs 7 Box Score

The Mets scored four runs in the 7th and 8th innings to erase a 7-3 deficit and keep them tied for first place in the division. Patrick Biondi scored three runs out of the leadoff spot and Kevin Taylor knocked in two.

Charleston RiverDogs 4, Columbia Fireflies (60-69) 1 Box Score

Dash hit a home run for the fourth time in six games.

  • Andrew Church RHP: 7 IP, 4 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, L (5-2, 2.22)
  • Luis De Los Santos RHP: IP, H, 0 R, K

Luis started the season pitching for the DSL Mets, jumped to the GCL Mets and made his Fireflies debut last night. He had been working primarily as a starter before this relief appearance.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers 6, Brooklyn Cyclones 5 Box Score

Lindsay’s home run was a two-run shot in the bottom of the 8th inning that gave the Cyclones a 5-4 lead at the time. The home run went 429 feet with a 109 MPH exit velocity per our own Jacob Resnick.

Dunn hit 97 MPH on the gun last night and has now struck out 28 batters in his first 24 pro innings. Castro threw three wild pitches during the 9th inning.

For the rest of last night’s recap head over to MetsMinors.net.

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Enough Of This Nonsense, Call Up Michael Conforto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/enough-of-this-nonsense-call-up-michael-conforto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/enough-of-this-nonsense-call-up-michael-conforto.html/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220668 michael conforto

There were a number of reasons why the Mets made the move for Jay Bruce. There was the obvious reason that Bruce was the major league RBI leader and he was hitting well with runners in scoring position. His addition was meant to address the team’s issues in those areas. The Mets also obtained Bruce as Yoenis Cespedes insurance, not just for this year with Cespedes’ quad, but also for next year in the event the Mets cannot re-sign him after he opts out. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the Mets acquired Bruce due to the struggles of Michael Conforto.

It’s at least a possibility that the Mets never make the trade for Bruce if Conforto was hitting like he was last year. Instead, Conforto was mired in a horrific slump for two months after a hot April, all but forcing the Mets to eventually demote him to Triple-A where he could rediscover his swing.

Conforto would start out hitting pretty well when he returned from his stint in AAA. In his first 12 games back, he hit .267/.371/.400 with four doubles and two RBI. He looked like he was back to his previous form, and not only was he hitting he ball the other way, but he was doing so with authority.

However, Conforto’s progress wouldn’t last long as manager Terry Collins stopped giving him regular playing time. He sat Conforto against lefties, and even sat him against tough righties like Justin Verlander and Jose Fernandez. Collins opted instead for journeyman Ty Kelly, who he believed gave the Mets a better chance to win. By the way, the Mets are 7-14 in games in which Kelly plays.

Predictably, the young Conforto gets lost on the bench and eventually starts pressing again during some rare starts and pinch-hitting appearances. He began to slump and found himself mired in a 2-for-20 slump. During his second stint with the Mets, Conforto started in only 13 out of 23 games.

Naturally, the Mets decided to send Conforto back to the the minors . . . again . . . so he could get more playing time. Apparently, this was a better solution than telling the manager the obvious – Play Conforto because he is a much better baseball player than Ty Kelly.

michael conforto

In fact, Conforto, even at his worst, has been a better hitter than the other options the Mets have. Even with Conforto struggling this year, consider this:

  • Michael Conforto – hitting .200/.298/.340 with four doubles, one homer, and three RBI in the 19 games he played after he spent time in AAA
  • Brandon Nimmo – hitting .237/.297/.288 with one homer and five RBI in 20 games with the Mets
  • Ty Kelly – hitting .186/.280/.256 with one homer and four RBI in 21 games with the Mets
  • T.J. Rivera – hitting .222/.211/.278 with a double and three RBI in six games (none in the outfield).

In relatively similar small sample sizes, Conforto has hit better than Nimmo, who had been called up in his stead when Conforto was first demoted. Furthermore, Conforto has hit better than Kelly and Rivera, who the Mets have on the major league roster over Conforto now.

Also, take into consideration the Mets have a real center field problem. The aforementioned Bruce is not suited to play center, leaving the Mets with the following two options:

  • Curtis Granderson – hitting .187/.265/.293 with two doubles, two homers, and two RBI in his last 20 games.
  • Alejandro De Aza – hitting .196/.339/.304 with two doubles, one homer, and three RBI in his last 20 games.

Essentially, it is only Conforto who is being punished for being in a slump. Remember that during an epic postgame rant following a 9-0 loss to the Padres on August 11th, Collins had this to say:

“Starting tomorrow we’re going to get after it. And those that don’t want to get after it, I’ll find some who do. Because in Las Vegas there is a whole clubhouse of guys that want to sit in this room. And that’s all I have to say.”

After that game, Conforto was the only position player sent down because apparently he was the only player in that clubhouse that needed to be taught a lesson.

The end result is the Mets are getting diminishing returns from Granderson as he is forced to play every day in center field. It is also resulting in the Mets playing De Aza, who is once again slumping at the plate, against righties and Kelly, who cannot hit major league pitching, against lefties.

Even with his struggles, Conforto was better than the numbers those three are putting up right now. Instead, the Mets would rather watch Conforto play everyday in AAA and tear the cover off the ball. Since his ill-advised punishment, sorry demotion, Conforto is 5-for-9 with three runs, a double, a homer, and two RBI.

This isn’t a PCL mirage either as we’ve already seen Conforto do this at the major league level. The big difference as I see it comes down to consistent playing time. If the Mets really want to win, they would do well to call up Conforto and play him everyday because at his worst, he’s still better than what the Mets are throwing out there right now.

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Mets Minors Recap: Conforto and Smith Both Homer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-recap-conforto-and-smith-both-homer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/mets-minors-recap-conforto-and-smith-both-homer.html/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2016 12:30:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=220566 michael conforto

New Orleans Zephyrs (58-62) 8, Las Vegas 51s (57-65) 6 Box Score

Conforto started the day getting hits in his first three at bats against righties before striking out swinging vs a lefty in his final at bat.

Binghamton Mets (56-62) 6 vs. Harrisburg Senators (63-57) 2 BOX SCORE

The Binghamton Mets 4-5-6-7 hitters in the lineup combined to go 11 for 20 with the rest of the lineup going a combined 1-18. Dominic Smith hit his 13th homerun of the year. Smith also knocked in his 79th run of the year which ties is career high that he set last year.

Josh Zeid has been a solid pick for the Binghamton Mets, after the Mets got him out of independent ball. Zeid has pitched 49 innings, allowing just 40 hits. David Roseboom has not been scored upon in his last 15 outings out of the pen. In that span he lowered his ERA from 2.76 to 1.84.

Jupiter Hammerheads (59-59) 10 vs. St. Lucie Mets (61-54) 8 BOX SCORE

The St. Lucie Mets outhit the Hammerheads 14-11 but, it was not enough. St. Lucie scored two in the ninth but their comeback fell just short.

All St. Lucie Mets pitchers allowed at least one home run in their outing. Griset was impressive striking out seven over four relief innings. He now has 51 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched.

Columbia Fireflies (55-65) 3 vs. Greensboro Grasshoppers (63-57) 2 F/12 BOX SCORE

The Fireflies scored a run in the eight to tie and won it in the bottom of the twelfth. After the Fireflies made the first two outs, they collected three straight hits. J.C. Rodriguez and Dash Winningham singled before Tyler Moore hit the walk-off RBI single to send the fans home happy.

The Fireflies bullpen was tremendous today, going 6.2 scoreless innings combined. The Fireflies pitching staff allowed just six hits in twelve total innings.

Brooklyn Cyclones (30-26) 2 vs. West Virginia Black Bears (25-31) 1 BOX SCORE

The Brooklyn Cyclones collected just four hits as they scored two in the seventh. The Cyclones where 0-8 with RISP but, still managed to win the game.

It was the second time this season that Llanes had a start without giving up an earned run. He pitched six scoreless on the 8th of July. He is now 15th in the NYPL with his 2.92 ERA.

Greeneville Astros (26-25) 7 vs. Kingsport Mets (18-33) 3 BOX SCORE

  • Ricardo Cespedes CF: 2 for 4, 2B .283/.321/.302
  • Jose Miguel Medina RF: 2 for 4, HR, RBI, R, 2 K .272/.344/.399

Medina hit his fourth home run of the year as the Kingsport Mets took a 3-0 in the second. Kingsport could not get another runner across after the second inning.

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With Dilson Herrera Gone, Mets Have Some Options Internally http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/with-dilson-herrera-gone-mets-have-some-options-internally.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/with-dilson-herrera-gone-mets-have-some-options-internally.html/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2016 13:50:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219839 Walker Neil

Before the season began, fans and media knew that Neil Walker would more than likely just be a one-year stopgap for the Mets. Acquired in the off-season trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for lefty Jon Niese, Walker was the backup plan for the Mets not winning the Ben Zobrist free agency sweepstakes. And of course, by saving on Zobrist the Mets were able to sign Yoenis Cespedes to what is seemingly a one-year deal.

Fast forward to the end of July, at a point where the Mets were desperately searching for offense in the worst way. The injury bug stung the Mets clubhouse and many players were simply under-performing on the year, leaving a large void in the lineup on a nightly basis.

General Manager Sandy Alderson pulled off a trade before the deadline approached Monday afternoon, swapping second base prized prospect Dilson Herrera and lefty Max Wotell to the Cincinnati Reds for right fielder Jay Bruce. While Bruce is not expected to pull off the miraculous second half that Cespedes showcased last season, he is expected to generate some power and hopefully continue to contribute to his outstanding numbers with runners in scoring position this year.

However, by trading away Herrera, who was presumed to be next in line to take over the vacated second base position in 2017, the Mets are left to decide who to turn to for that position in the off-season. Depending on how Walker finishes his 2016 season, he might be a candidate to bring back, even if it’s just on the one-year qualifying offer.

The Mets have some decisions to make on that though, because offering a qualifying offer this off-season would likely mean a salary near $17 million annually, a steep price to pay for a guy that has had prolonged slumps this season, including from May 1 to June 30, where Walker put up a slash line of .233/.313/.349 with five homers, 13 RBI, and 39 strikeouts in 51 games.

Of course the flip side of offering Walker the qualifying offer would be in hopes that he rejects it, looking instead to land a multi-year deal in what seemingly might be his last big payday. The Mets would collect a compensation draft pick for Walker turning down the offer, and would be able to keep stockpiling young talent in the minor leagues.

Another option would be to try Jose Reyes out at second base for next season, since he holds a team option at the league minimum, since Colorado is on the hook for the rest of his contract. The option would have to be exercised within five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Although he hasn’t played the position since the Kaz Matsui experiment in 2004, Reyes has handled third base well in limited action this year, and giving him all of the off-season along with spring would surely give him the necessary time to adjust to second base. The question with Reyes however, is whether or not he can stay healthy during the course of the year.

t.j. rivera

What I propose for the second base conundrum, would be to give two in-house options a chance to earn the starting job. Local product T.J. Rivera and Gavin Cecchini are both viable options to get a chance to earn the spot in 2017.

Rivera, 27, was a topic of discussion back in the spring, when I detailed why he should be given a shot at the major league level. Once again, Rivera has done nothing but hit at Triple A Las Vegas this season, as of Friday afternoon Rivera posted a line of .343/.387/.497 with 10 homers, 74 RBI, and 58 runs scored in 93 games. Rivera has mainly maned third base this season, starting 57 games at the hot corner.

However, Rivera has spent time at second during the course of his minor league career, totaling 262 games at second. Just as recently as last year, Rivera appeared in 39 games at second for Las Vegas and Binghamton, amassing 330 innings played with a .994 fielding percentage.

And on the ever popular topic of hitting with runners in scoring position, something that has been almost as rare this season for the Mets as the famous T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, Rivera has posted a line of .404/.446/.605 in 114 at-bats this year.

What’s also great about Rivera is that he doesn’t strike out a ton, normally within the 11-13% range, while getting on base around 37-38% of the time each year. Throughout his entire minor league career, the lowest wRC+ that Rivera has posted was 103, however in 2015 in Double A Rivera posted a 144 wRC+, then a 111 wRC+ in Triple A in 54 games last year. This season, with Rivera spending the entire year at Triple A, he’s posted another strong wRC+ of 134, with league and park adjusted in the calculation, which is good considering the Pacific Coast League is normally a hitter friendly league, and can give a better idea of the type of hitter Rivera is.

Consistency has been a reoccurring theme for Rivera’s minor league career, now he just needs an opportunity to showcase his talent in Queens. He finally earned a spot with the major league club in spring this year, an encouraging sign that maybe the Mets will be open to giving Rivera a shot down the line. This past week in fact, Alderson admitted that Rivera was a consideration for a call up to replace the injured Cespedes who landed on the 15-day disabled list, however since he’s played primarily in the infield, the Mets went with Brandon Nimmo, who’s already on the 40-man roster, instead.

gavin cecchini

The other possibility is with Cecchini, 22, the 12th overall pick in 2012 who has posted yet another strong offensive campaign this season. Cecchini’s line of .316/.390/.440 with five homers and 41 RBI is yet another appealing hitter for the Mets to think about utilizing next year. Like Rivera, Cecchini is also an on-base machine, with almost as many walks (40) as strikeouts (42), and has lowered his strikeout rate drastically from his early minor league seasons to a reasonable 11.5% this year. Cecchini also boasts strong numbers with runners in scoring position, with a line of .348/.430/.489 in 92 at-bats.

His bat has intrigued scouts the last few seasons, it’s his glove that needs improvement. Cecchini has been a shortstop throughout his entire minor league career, amassing 387 games at the position. He received positive grades by scouts on his fielding prowess early on in his career, however, the last three seasons Cecchini has recorded 27, 28, and 29 errors at short, many of them throwing errors. With top prospect Amed Rosario in Double A and making a strong case to be ready by mid 2017 to take over at short, keeping Cecchini at short in Triple A seems foolish. Why not move him over to second, where he can have the rest of the year to get accustomed to the position, and then have him transition in the off-season where he can compete in camp for the spot in 2017? His offensive game is intriguing enough to warrant a tryout at second base.

Both Rivera and Cecchini offer solid splits against both righties and lefties this season, and Rivera offers the option of playing multiple positions for the Mets. Alderson and Co. will have plenty of choices for second next year, the question is, do they finally give a shot to two players that fans have heard about and are waiting to see, or perhaps go a different route, perhaps sticking with Walker for another season or going with Reyes and or Flores? With Herrera out of the mix, Rivera and Cecchini at the very least move up the ladder, and continue to let their consistent play and stats do all the talking for them.

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Baseball America’s Mid-Season Mets Top 10 Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/baseball-americas-mid-season-mets-top-10-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/baseball-americas-mid-season-mets-top-10-prospects.html/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 19:17:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=218268 brandon nimmo hr

Baseball America released their top ten Mets mid-season prospect list and it does present some surprises. Though it doesn’t appear to be because they actually scouted the players and simply went with their preseason list minus graduates.

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Dominic Smith
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Gavin Cecchini
  5. Desmond Lindsay
  6. Robert Gsellman
  7. Wuilmer Becerra
  8. Luis Guillorme
  9. Marcos Molina
  10. Gabriel Ynoa

The upper four of the list appears to be in concert with most other recent publications. The rest of the list is well, confusing at best.

The upside is there that you can look past the fact that Lindsay has missed more games than he has played as a professional. With the bump in velocity he has shown, Gsellman is among the top ten as well, especially being so close to the majors. Becerra has done a good job prioritizing contact, but there is no mention of his shoulder (and it’s possible correlation to his power outage) in the article.

That Matt Eddy apparently penalized Luis Carpio (his preseason #7) for season ending surgery, yet has Lindsay (#8) pass him and Molina dropped from #6 to #9 doesn’t seem to be very consistent.

While I am a huge fan of both Guillorme and Ynoa, (preseason #12 & 13 respectively) it appears as he took his preseason list and just moved them up, by-passing Jhoan Urena based on the stat line. Truth be told, Guillorme is a slick fielding slap hitter, and Ynoa a starting pitch without an out pitch, both potential major league players, just not top 10 prospects. (Except in the Angels or Marlins system, where they may be top 5.)

Andres GimenezAli SanchezTomas Nido, (leading FSL in batting and third among all catchers in minor league baseball, and second in SLG), and Thomas Szapucki (and his Chapman’esqe k rate) deserve to be a part of the conversation.

I expect more from Baseball America, it’s writers and journalists should be better than everyone else. The insight and analysis should be what other publications strive for.

For comprehensive (maybe slightly biased) Mets minor league coverage check out MetsMinors.Net where we will be unveiling our mid-season top 50 prospects, starting with numbers 50-41 on Friday morning.

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Mets Minors Recap: Dominic Smith Blasts 12th Home Run http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-minors-recap-dominic-smith-blasts-12th-home-run.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-minors-recap-dominic-smith-blasts-12th-home-run.html/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2016 13:00:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=218231 Courtesy Binghamton Mets/Rick Nelson Photography

Courtesy Binghamton Mets/Rick Nelson Photography

Omaha Storm Chasers 8 (Kansas City, 43-53), Las Vegas 51s (49-47) 3 Box Score

Gavin Cecchini went 2 for 4 with a run knocked in but also made his 28th error at shortstop.

Rainy Lara was added to the roster before the game and got Raul Mondesi to pop as the only batter he faced. Infielder Niuman Romero was placed on the 7-day disabled list in the corresponding move.

Binghamton Mets 8 (44-51), Bowie Baysox 4 (Baltimore, 40-55) Box Score

This was Smith’s second homer (Click Here to view) in three games, but also snapped his multi-hit streak. Rosario hit his eighth double in his 23rd game after hitting ten in 66 High-A St. Lucie games.

Not even sure what to say about Montero anymore, he also hit a batter and threw 105 pitches with only 55 of them for strikes.

Tampa Yankees 6 (55-41), St. Lucie Mets 0 (50-43) Box Score

St. Lucie only mustered two hits, and they were both from Thompson.

Conlon has not skipped a beat since being promoted to High-A.

Hagerstown Suns 4 (Washington, 60-36), Columbia Fireflies 2 (42-53) Box Score

Brandon Brosher sustained a head injury in the first inning, we wish him luck. Zabala has been stellar defensively for Columbia.

Shaw allows a lot of hits, but somehow misses many bats as well as he has allowed 118 hits in 97.1 innings, and has struck out 99.

Minors Notes

For the rest of the minor league recap including Gregory Guerrero and Andres Gimenez now playing on the same team, head over to MetsMinors.net.

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MMO Players Of The Week: Cespedes and Colon Get It Done http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mmo-players-of-the-week-cespedes-and-colon-get-it-done.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mmo-players-of-the-week-cespedes-and-colon-get-it-done.html/#comments Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:24:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216686 MMO PLAYER OF THE WEEK

What a difference a weekend series with the N.L. best Chicago Cubs made for the Mets last week. Before starting their four-game series with the Cubs at Citi Field Thursday, the Mets were having a dreadful week, losing four in a row, including being swept by the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Mets were outscored 20-6 in that three-game series with their division rival, and had to witness ex-second baseman Daniel Murphy go 5-for-12 in the series, with two home runs, five RBI and four runs scored. The Mets left Washington six games back of first place in their division.

But the tides changed as soon as the Mets came back home to face the Cubs, a team that was playing 11 games over .500 before the first game against the Mets. The Amazins held on to defeat the Cubs by a score of 4-3 on both Thursday and Saturday, and brought the thunder on a stormy night Friday, totaling ten runs including five home runs. That was the fifth time in franchise history that they hit five home runs in a game, and the first since June 26, 2000.

One of the home runs belonged to rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who belted his first career homer that night, and drove in three runs while batting out of the lead-off spot. Since his promotion on Sunday, Nimmo has gone 8-for-28 with one home run, four runs scored, four RBIs and a .703 OPS. His wide-eyed, happy to be here mentality has seemed to rub off on the team, as they’re playing with more fire and energy than in recent past. One can’t help but to root for the young kid, as he genuinely seems overjoyed to be playing in the majors, and fulfilling a lifelong dream. The Mets have gotten lucky the past two seasons with young outfielders, last year Michael Conforto sparked the club with his call-up, and now this year Nimmo is filling the same role.

There were quite a few deserving candidates for MMO’s Player of the Week, a far cry from recent weeks where only a select few players stood out. With that said, here as always, are your Players of the Week.

yoenis cespedes 2

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: YOENIS CESPEDES

La Potencia just continues to absolutely rake, and enjoyed another strong week of production at the plate. Cespedes went 8-for-28, with four runs scored, two home runs, three R.B.I., two walks, and a slash line of .286/.333/.536. He recorded at least one hit in every game this week except the Sunday finale against the Atlanta Braves.

In the bottom of the sixth of the Mets Thursday game against the Cubs, Cespedes came to the plate with the Mets trailing 3-0 against veteran right-hander John Lackey. With the count in his favor at 2-0, Lackey left a fastball over the heart of the plate, a BIG mistake against a guy with such brute strength that Cespedes has.

Cespedes tattooed the fastball to the third deck in left field, or as Gary Cohen described, “Home run derby style into the third deck.” Even Cespedes was impressed with his own power, as the SNY cameras caught Cespedes touching home plate and saying “wow” to the on-deck batter James Loney. This put the Mets on the board and was a precursor to the Mets coming back and taking the lead in the eighth inning.

Before Sunday’s finale with the Cubs, Cespedes was batting .291/.360/.571 with 20 home runs, and 47 R.B.I.. He’s on pace to eclipse his career high in home runs, runs batted in, and walks this season. And oh by the way, that ball still hasn’t landed from Thursday night’s game.

bartolo colon

PITCHER OF THE WEEK: BARTOLO COLON

Bartolo Colon gets the nod for Pitcher of the Week here at MMO, as he had two strong performances this week. He took the hard luck loss against the Braves last Sunday, pitching seven inning of one run ball, giving up six hits, one walk, while striking out two. The only mistake Colon had came in the bottom of the first, when he served up a first pitch fastball that Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman belted to left-center field to put the Braves ahead early. He kept the Braves off the board the rest of the game, but the Mets couldn’t score until the ninth inning, when at that point they were already down 5-2.

“Big Sexy” pitched again on Saturday, facing a tough Cubs lineup, one in which is in the top four of several offensive categories in baseball including OPS, R.B.I., runs scored, and OBP.

This time, the Mets gave him an early 2-0 lead after Neil Walker belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first for his 15th home run on the year. Colon was cruising through the first few frames, but then hit a snag in the top of the fourth against first baseman Anthony Rizzo. With one on and nobody out, Rizzo swatted a 1-0 two-seam fastball to deep center, near the home run apple. That tied the game at 2-2, though the Mets would retake the lead in the bottom of the frame, when Travis d’Arnaud blooped a single into shallow center and out of the reach of second baseman Javier Baez‘s outstretched hand, scoring two runs.

On the night, Colon went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. The win gives him seven on the season, and was career win number 225 for the hefty right-hander, passing Hall of Fame members Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter (both with 224). George Mullin is next on the list with 228 wins.

Colon has once again posted a solid season thus far, with a 7-4 record and 2.87 ERA in 17 games, 16 of them starts. He has a 1.17 WHIP, and currently has a batting average against of .260, which if the season ended today would be the lowest its been since his Cy Young winning year in 2005, when he held opponents to a .254 average as a member of the Angels.

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Talkin’ Mets: Mets Sweep, July 4th 1985 and Stars & Strikes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/talkin-mets-mets-sweep-july-4th-1985-and-stars-strikes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/talkin-mets-mets-sweep-july-4th-1985-and-stars-strikes.html/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 16:00:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216739 brandon nimmo neil walker

The Chicago Cubs came to Citi Field and left without a victory as the New York Mets completed am impressive four game sweep against the best team in baseball. I examine the reason for the quick turnaround after the disaster against the Nationals in Washington.

Was it Brandon Nimmo’s energy? Familia’s high-wire act in the first game of the series? Or is the team just benefiting from some home cooking?

We remember the classic July 4th, 1985 game that ended at 4:00 AM in which the Mets beat the Braves 16-13 in 19 innings.

Dan Epstein, author of Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ‘76 remembers the national pastime, pop culture and music during the 1970s.

 

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Nimmo Blasts His First MLB Home Run http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/nimmo-blasts-his-first-mlb-home-run.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/nimmo-blasts-his-first-mlb-home-run.html/#comments Sat, 02 Jul 2016 02:51:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216537 brandon nimmo hr

Brandon Nimmo already had himself a game to remember on Thursday night with a huge hit and some head’s up baserunning to score the winning run in 4-3 Mets victory.

So what does a kid from Wyoming do for an encore?

He crushes his first career home run, a three-run shot, in the fourth inning, of course! Unbelievable!

brandon nimmo hr 2

The home run measured at 442 feet, surpassing the 441-foot bomb that Yoenis Cespedes blasted just last night!

Move over Grandy, there’s a new kid in town….

Here it is:

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Nimmo Catapults Mets Offense To Victory In Citi Debut http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/nimmo-catapults-mets-offense-to-victory-in-citi-debut.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/nimmo-catapults-mets-offense-to-victory-in-citi-debut.html/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 11:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216464 brandon nimmo

New York Mets rookie, Brandon Nimmo came through in a big way in Thursday’s 4-3 comeback victory over the Chicago Cubs. Sitting atop the order in his Citi Field debut, Nimmo helped to electrify a stagnant Mets offense.

Nimmo, 23, who was 1-for-4 on the night, saved his hit for the biggest at-bat of the game. Coming up with runners on first and second in the seventh and the team trailing by a score of 3-1, Nimmo smacked a single up the middle to score Travis d’Arnaud. With heads up base running, he took second base as well, setting the Mets up to take the lead on the very next at-bat by Neil Walker. Nimmo would score the eventual winning run.

“It is hard to put into words because this is just something that I’ve dreamed about ever since I was a kid,” Nimmo said, “and to be able to come through and help the team win, you always need it but I felt like tonight was really big.” (NY Daily News)

With a smile that could light up the entire city, Nimmo truly shows how to have fun while playing the game.

“I tell ya, he’s a young man that’s got a lot of confidence in himself,” Terry Collins said after the game.

A great story for a great kid who has waited for his time and is now attempting to make the best of it. So far in his short stint up he has batted 5-for-15 after going hitless in his debut. Of course those numbers are a small sample size but his approach at the plate has been as advertised. Nimmo continued to reflect on his biggest big league moment to date after the game.

“That’s fun to have that many people into a single event and you’re on the field playing that at-bat,” Nimmo said. “You can see how important it is for this fan-base and this city. I’m just excited to be a part of it and glad that I can contribute a little bit. At the end there, that was amazing. That was the loudest (atmosphere) I’ve ever been in.”

Hopefully just his first big success on the way to a long and prosperous major league career. Nimmo has shown in his short time up that he is nothing short of a professional ball player who looks to be able to handle himself well at the plate. The team can use all the help it can get, as the offense seems to have been awakened in last night’s comeback victory after being dormant for the past week.

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Mets Rally To Beat Cubs 4-3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-rally-to-beat-cubs-4-3.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mets-rally-to-beat-cubs-4-3.html/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 02:40:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216447 yoenis cespedes 2

The New York Mets (41-37) defeated the Chicago Cubs (51-27) by a score of 4-3 tonight. However, the Nationals also won, so the Mets were unable to gain any ground in the standings.

Pitching:

Steven Matz, dealing with the widely talked about bone spur in his elbow, toed the rubber for the Mets tonight and quickly served up a two-run shot to Kris Bryant in the first, as a collective sigh flooded Citi Field.

Matz was able to labor through his elbow troubles, though, and hold the Cubs to just three runs in 5.1 innings, and also struck out six.

Matz left the game down 3-0, but came away with a no-decision as the offense was able to come alive and score four (!!!) runs to bail the lefty out.

Erik Goeddel, who has been very solid, relieved Matz and tossed 1.2 innings, fanning two Cubbies in the process.

Addison Reed came on to pitch the eighth inning, and let up a hit and a walk, but was unable to complete the frame.

Jerry Blevins finished off the inning and kept the Mets up 4-3.

Jeurys Familia as per usual gave the Flushing Faithful a spike in blood pressure, but was able to hold on and record the save as the Mets finally got back in the win column.

Offense:

The Mets didn’t get much going until the fifth, when they had runners at first and second with only one out, but yet again failed to manufacture a run.

However, in the sixth inning, the Mets finally got into the run column in what seemed like the first time in ages. Yoenis Cespedes launched his 19th homer of the year, and additionally, is set to represent the Mets in the all-star game if things stay the way they are.

In the seventh inning down 3-1, the Mets were able to rally and put up a three spot, taking the lead for the first time in the game.

Travis d’Arnaud singled, and Alejandro de Aza (!!!) walked to set up a prime RBI situation for the newbie Brandon Nimmo, who promptly cut the deficit down to one.

Neil Walker reached on a fielder’s choice which scored a run, and then Brandon Nimmo scored on a throwing error as the Mets took the lead. A much needed win for the dejected Mets who just got swept out of Washington. Now let’s make a habit out of it!

On deck:

The Mets will look for another victory tomorrow, as Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67 ERA) faces off against Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.

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Murphy Carries Nats To Sweep Despite Late Mets Rally As Washington Wins 4-2 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-murphy-carries-nats-to-sweep-despite-mets-late-rally-as-washington-wins-4-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-game-recap-murphy-carries-nats-to-sweep-despite-mets-late-rally-as-washington-wins-4-2.html/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2016 02:35:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216331 daniel murphy

The New York Mets (40-37) fell by a score of 4-2 on Wednesday night in DC to the Washington Nationals (47-32). The loss capped off a sweep at the hands of the Nats and dropped the Mets to 6 games back in the NL East.

Logan Verrett pitched fairly well for the Mets in a spot start, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings.

But the Mets did nothing against Nationals stud Max Scherzer, who struck out 10 and allowed just 2 hits and a walk in 7.1 scoreless innings.

The Mets fell behind early, as they have done far too often lately, when former Met Daniel Murphy let off the bottom of the second with a solo shot. Washington scored again in the next inning when Brandon Nimmo misplayed a fly ball that turned into a double for Danny Espinosa, who later scored on a sacrifice fly from Jason Werth.

The game crawled on uneventfully for several innings until the top of the eighth. With Scherzer cruising and the Nats up 2-0, Nimmo put together a terrific at-bat that ended in a single up the middle. Former Met Ollie Perez came in and allowed a pinch-hit single to Curtis Granderson, before being replaced by Blake Treinen. Treinen got a slow roller from pinch-hitter Travis d’Arnaud for the second out, but the tying runs both moved up a base, bringing Alejandro De Aza up with a chance to tie the game with a single. But De Aza continued his monumental struggles, striking out against Shawn Kelley to end the inning.

The Nationals tacked on what seemed like unnecessary insurance against a lifeless offense in the top of the 9th, when Murphy took Sean Gilmartin deep with a man on base for his second home run of the year, tying his career high of 14 in a season (it’s June 29th).

But that insurance proved to be the difference, as the Mets put together a rally in the top of the ninth against Kelley. After Neil Walker struck out, Yoenis Cespedes singled and James Loney hit a two-run shot to make it 4-2. Asdrubal Cabrera then whiffed before Kelly Johnson doubled to bring Brandon Nimmo up as the tying run, but for the second time in his week-old Major League career, Nimmo struck out looking to end the ballgame.

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Verrett did his job tonight. He kept us in the game, which is all you can ask from a guy making a spot start against one of the game’s best pitchers. The only thing he could have done better was give the Mets more length to rest a tired bullpen. If Verrett stays in the game longer, Gilmartin doesn’t pitch the ninth and give up that crucial home run. But Verrett’s shaky control ran his pitch count up early in the game.

The Mets led 4-0 in the third inning of game 1 of this series, but trailed after all but 2 innings the rest of the series. We didn’t make the Nationals work too hard en route to what was a huge sweep for our rivals, who are now six games up in the division.

There’s plenty of baseball left to play, but the Mets are in gut-check mode as far as the divisional race is concerned. They have 4 games with the MLB-best Cubs, while the Nationals will play 4 with the Reds (probably the worst team in baseball right now). We then play 3 with the Marlins while the Nats play 3 with the Brewers (another bad team, albeit one that has given both the Mets and the Nationals trouble recently) before the two teams meet again for a 4-game set, this time at Citi Field.

If things break well for the Mets between now and then, they will likely still be about six back. Winning three or possibly even four against Washington at home would keep the Mets right on the Nationals’ heels going into the break, so that series will be huge, and the Mets will need to play much better than they did over the last three days. If Washington wins that series, the standings will start to look ugly.

It was nice to see the Mets put together a rally in the ninth in this game, even if it was a bit frustrating (we needed 2 runs most of the night, and finally got 2 when we needed 4). The bats looked better in those final two innings, and maybe that’s what the team needs heading into a meeting with a team hell-bent on revenge.

Let’s sweep the Cubbies again, for old times’ sake.

Up next: Steven Matz, who pitched game 4 of the NLCS, will face the Cubs again on Thursday at 7:10 PM in New York. John Lackey will pitch for Chicago.

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Bartolo Colon Thumbs His Way Through Seven Solid Innings http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/bartolo-colon-thumbs-his-way-through-seven-solid-innings.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/bartolo-colon-thumbs-his-way-through-seven-solid-innings.html/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2016 14:55:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=216065 bartolo colon 2

Now that the diamond dust of Michael Conforto’s demotion, Jose Reyes’ resigning, Logan Verrett, Sean Gilmartin and Brandon Nimmo being recalled from Las Vegas has settled, it’s still much ado about nothing with the Mets starting line-up.

NY prospect Brandon Nimmo’s 0-4 major league debut was not one that dreams are made of, as he got a taste of the meal Conforto dined on during his roller-coaster stay in the “show.”

“I’m sure the first-game jitters were huge for him,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’ve got to get him calmed down because he’s going to a bigger series here in 24 hours.”

A day after Jacob deGrom had the dubious honor of pitching a gem of a no-decision without any input from his offense, Bartolo Colon got the same cold shoulders, as the Mets lost to the basement dwelling Braves 5-2.

Colon’s one run to Freddie Freeman was his only flaw, and it’s a shame that the 43 year old couldn’t cash in a win on an impressive seven-inning outing that was his for the taking. This was his first start since taking a line drive off his thumb and giving everyone a scare.

“At no point throughout the game did the thumb bother me, thank god,” Colon said through an interpreter. “I’m able to squeeze the ball without any issues.”

Colon has really ramped up his performance of late and owns a 1.80 ERA over his last seven starts.

 Braves right-hander Bud Norris has made the best of his move from the bullpen back to the staring rotation where he is 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA in his last five starts.  He raised Colon’s seven strong innings by not surrendering a single run, allowing 4 hits, striking out 8.

The Mets, rotating their batting order more than a team of volleyball players, are lucky that the team they are chasing are 1-7 in their last eight games.  But believing they’re going to bank on the misfortune of Dusty Baker’s boys is a risky venture.

This same old same old silence in the batter’s box does not bode well with a three game series in our Nation’s capital, followed by four against the Cubs, three with the Marlins, and another plateful of the Nationals prior to the All Star break.

Noah Syndergaard takes the mound on Monday bringing triple digit heat along with a 2-0 record and 1.33 ERA in his last four career starts against the Nats.

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MMO Fan Shot: Mets Can’t Afford To Trade Zack Wheeler http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-mets-cant-afford-to-trade-zack-wheeler.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/mmo-fan-shot-mets-cant-afford-to-trade-zack-wheeler.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:52:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215157 zack wheeler

An MMO Fan Shot by The Metssiah

This season, the injury plague has spread throughout the Mets clubhouse much like it did in 2015. As soon as David Wright went down, the fan base started clamoring for a big time trade. Every fan has a pipe dream proposal where they just name a bunch of guys on the Mets top prospect list and assume the package will land the Mets a franchise type bat.

But I’ve poured over the lists of prospective trade options as well as the Mets farm system, and I keep coming to the same conclusion. If the Mets want to land a big time bat that is under team control for more than just this season, the trade talks will begin and end with Zack Wheeler. For most fans, that price doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. Well it should be. Trading Zack Wheeler would be a mistake, and it’s a price the Mets cannot afford to pay if they want to remain competitive over the next few seasons.

In 2015, the Mets had a pitching surplus. They had arguably the top rotation in the game and two frontline starter types in Zack Wheeler and Michael Fulmer that weren’t even a part of the major league equation. The Mets knew they had the flexibility to deal from that surplus, and at the deadline they clearly made Wheeler and Fulmer available. We saw the Carlos Gomez for Wheeler trade play out and ultimately fall through. And we saw the Mets ultimately pull the trigger on the Michael Fulmer for Yoenis Cespedes deal that catapulted the team to the NL East crown.

In his brief major league stint so far this season, Fulmer looks like he’s going to be a top of the rotation starter (7-1, 2.52 ERA). The Mets already knew that was the likely outcome with Fulmer. It’s the reason they were hesitant to deal him. But that trade netted the Mets Cespedes, and it’s a deal the 2015 Mets make 10 times out of 10. Why? Because the 2015 Mets had the pitching depth to afford it. Unfortunately, after dealing Fulmer and a number of other pitching prospects in 2015 deadline deals, the 2016 Mets lack that luxury.

The Mets blueprint for making the playoffs includes them putting an ace on the mound every single day. Five aces baby. That’s been the plan for years. Wheeler is that fifth ace. The one area the Mets have been blessed this season is the health of their young pitchers (Yeah I said it. I’m ferociously knocking on wood. Relax). Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that run of luck lasts year after year.

In order to make the most of this championship window and have any chance of sustained success, the Mets are going to need all five aces to carry them. Period. You think Bartolo Colon will be around forever? You want to trade Wheeler and possibly roll with Logan Verrett or Sean Gilmartin as the fifth starter next season? Trust me, don’t look at the list of available free agent starting pitchers for next offseason. There’s a reason front line guys get paid so much. There’s not that many of them.

I’m not saying the Mets shouldn’t look to deal some minor league talent to upgrade the roster. But the available crop of infielders that I’ve been reading about (e.g. Danny ValenciaYangervis Solarte) does not include a franchise level bat, and Jonathan Lucroy is a catcher. I realize Lucroy can play first base, but it’s not his true position. He’s started just over 30 games at first base in his 7 year career. Travis d’Arnaud is supposed to be back next week, and Lucas Duda is supposed to be back before the end of the season.

To give up Zack Wheeler for a player that ultimately creates a roster conundrum for the end of the season and into next season seems foolish to me. In the short term for this season, I think the best move for the Mets is to look to make marginal upgrades to the roster via trade, utilize internal options (e.g. Dilson HerreraBrandon Nimmo), or make a big international signing (*cough* Yulieski Gourriel *cough*).

In the long term, I think the Mets are better served holding on to all the pitching and looking for ways to upgrade the major league roster in the offseason via free agency. To me that’s the most effective route to elevate this specific roster to a championship caliber level without sacrificing the key strength upon which all the hope for success is predicated. We will live and die with our core of five aces. We cannot afford to compromise that blueprint for the sake of a quick fix. At least not this year.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader The Metssiah who you could follow at @TheMetssiahHave something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Mets Players And Staff Host Clinic For St. Lucie Special Olympics http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mets-players-and-staff-host-clinic-for-st-lucie-special-olympics.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mets-players-and-staff-host-clinic-for-st-lucie-special-olympics.html/#comments Tue, 01 Mar 2016 16:48:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207092 tmp3plVur

On Sunday, the New York Mets hosted a clinic for the St. Lucie Special Olympics at Tradition Field.

The feel of the event can be summed up with a quote from Special Olympics regional director Jeff Hancock, who said, “This is beyond amazing. The opportunities that our athletes in the Special Olympics have because of the New York Mets bringing this clinic in is unbelievable.”

“This is once-in-a-lifetime for anybody, let alone an athlete with the Special Olympics. I cannot say it enough: Thank you, New York Mets, for allowing us out here today.”

The group consisted of over 100 athletes, ranging from as young as four years old to adults. The clinic lasted longer than two hours, as over a dozen Mets players taught and played with the special Olympians.

When the athletes got to the stadium entrance, they were greeted by David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza. They all then went onto the field where the rest of the players were waiting to meet them.

Many players were there helping out giving the athletes the times of their lives, including the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Neil Walker, Buddy Carlyle, Wilmer Flores, Eric Campbell, and Brandon Nimmo.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo spoke to Granderson who said, “It’s every kid’s dream, and these kids are no different than anybody else. They all enjoy watching the game. They enjoy being out on the field and they enjoy playing. They get a chance to do all of that today, so it’s a great moment and experience. Hopefully we just get a chance to put smiles on their faces and bring some joy.”

Thor was speaking to the TC Palm’s Jon Santucci, and said, “It’s a great cause. This allows them to come out, participate with us and be part of the team. Just being able to hang out is great.” There are some more wonderful photos here at TC Palm.

“We take great pride in being an active member in the St. Lucie community during the spring training months and throughout the year,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “Our players and coaches have always been willing to give their time to local community and charitable efforts, including our players and coaches hosting Special Olympic athletes from all over the state.”

My brother has Down’s Syndrome so this is, to me, extra awesome. The Mets keep doing amazin’ things, being a fantastic organization both on and off the field. I am so very proud to be a Mets fan.

Follow me on Twitter @LBarer32! LET’S GO METS!

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Special Feature: Keith Law Talks Mets Baseball With MMO http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/special-feature-keith-law-talks-mets-baseball-with-mmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/special-feature-keith-law-talks-mets-baseball-with-mmo.html/#comments Tue, 23 Feb 2016 14:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206532 keith law

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending 40 minutes on the phone with ESPN Senior Baseball Writer Keith Law. Keith is a lead baseball analyst for ESPN.com and senior analyst for Scouts.Inc. He formerly worked in the front office of the Toronto Blue Jays. I interviewed Keith before last season and he graciously agreed to do it again with the 2016 season approaching. Check out what Keith had to say about the state of the Mets minor league system, their young core players, pitching, infielders, positional logjams, top prospects, and so much more. Then hop down to the comments and share your thoughts! Here we go:

Tommy Rothman, MetsMerized Online: Hi Keith, thanks a ton for agreeing to do this again this year. So I guess I’ll start with the farm system rankings. You just put out your MLB rankings, your top 100 rankings, and your team-by-team rankings. The Mets fell from number 4 last year to middle-of-the-pack this year. Obviously some of that is because they graduated guys like Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto who are no longer “prospects,” but they also traded away some prospects to get the guys they added during the season. So how would you size up the state of the Mets’ farm system, not only in terms of the prospects who qualify for your rankings, but the young core in general?

Keith Law, ESPN: Well the young core’s a lot better, obviously, if you’re looking at most of the rotation. And if you’re looking at most of the rotation, it depends where you draw the line between who’s young and who’s not, you could argue that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are still a part of that young core. I’ve always been a big Michael Conforto fan, I obviously ranked Noah Syndergaard very high the last couple of years. The only part of that young core I’ve never been particularly high on is Steven Matz, because the injury history is so bad.

But I think their young core is one of the strongest in the game, which will [enable] them to continue to contend even though they’re not gonna spend that much money— the ownership group has made it clear that they’re not gonna spend the way a New York club should spend. So it’s critical to continue to compete through the farm system. And they have plenty of pitching for right now— they have no pitching depth. But they have plenty of pitching for the present, and you do have a lot of position players coming, as some of their guys… say, David Wright‘s tenure comes to an end, or Lucas Duda they decide to let walk, which I’m sure they will, and replace with Dominic Smith. You’ve got replacements for most positions on the diamond. So I think they’re in really great shape, I wish they’d spend more money obviously, but if they’re not gonna do that, they’re still in a great position even after the trades.

Tommy: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised to see that when Yoenis Cespedes fell back into their range financially, they realized it was the move they had to make and pulled the trigger. But they certainly won’t be competing for those longer-term deals. So with that in mind, you mentioned the pitching depth— they do have the pitchers now, but after they traded guys like Michael Fulmer and Casey Meisner for Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, and other pieces, in the event of injury, they don’t have as many young arms in the pipeline. So obviously young pitching is the Mets’ strength, but is it also something they need to shore up in terms of depth?

 Keith: I mean, if they have the opportunity to add prospects somewhere, sure, adding more pitching would be great. I don’t know if they’ll target pitching in the draft because they’ve never drafted that way, it’s always been “best player available” since Tommy Tanous took over as Scouting Director. I want them to continue to do that. But the strength of the draft this year is probably college pitching anyway, so if the right one happens to fall into their lap, great, they certainly need it. But they’re not really in a position where they’re going to be able to add pitching prospects.

It might make sense for them to target somebody who might be a good sixth starter for them this season, who could spend part of the year in Las Vegas, but who you figure is probably going to make 12 to 14 starts this year for the big league club because you always need that. I don’t know who that’s gonna be, it might have been Fulmer if they hadn’t traded him for Cespedes, but there was nobody backing him up, even if he were still there, you could probably still ask the question, ‘What if Fulmer gets hurt again, who’s behind him?’ And the answer would be, probably nobody.

Tommy: Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Paul DePodesta left a couple months ago for the NFL. What impact do you think that will have on the Mets organization and how they do things?

Keith: Well, I think that’s a big loss, because I think Paul was kind of a philosophical thought leader too, helping drive direction in the draft and player development, and not just losing his intelligence, but losing his voice in the room, could have a lot of impact. Because I think you really had a split camp there last year where folks in the front office didn’t want to trade from the prospect depth to make a short-term run because they were looking at a long-term run of contention with this young core— and they still are. So don’t trade from it unless you’re getting longer-term assets in return. Instead they traded who I thought was their two best pitching prospects at the time in Fulmer and Casey Meisner for rentals. Without DePodesta there, is there going to be a strong voice in favor of continuing to build from within as opposed to making those short-term trades, as opposed to signing a Michael Cuddyer? I don’t know the answer to that. I will say I retain very high confidence in the amateur scouting department because they’ve had such good results and produced prospect value and produced big leaguers over the past couple of drafts since Tanous took over, and I think they’ll be able to continue to do so.

steven matz spring

Tommy: So like you said, you’ve never been high on Matz. Last year he didn’t make your top prospects list. Now you have him up there. Obviously it’s big that he could stay relatively healthy and it obviously helps his ranking that he pitched in the Majors, he pitched in the World Series… how do you analyze Matz, as an individual prospect but also among the Mets group? My personal opinion is that, well, I’m lowest on him of the four, or the five. What are your thoughts on him?

Keith: I would agree. I think he’s clearly behind the other guys. For stuff, it’s an above-average to plus fastball, a plus-or-better changeup, he will show you at least a solidly above-average breaking ball, it’s control more than command, and the delivery is still a little bit mechanical although it’s a million miles better than where it was in high school. But he has still yet to reach 150 innings in any regular season in his career, and he was drafted in 2009. And even last year, which was by his standards a full season, he was out twice with injuries that took him off the field for a period of time. And part of why he wasn’t on the list last year, and when I said it was kind of a fourth-starter type ceiling, and part of why he’s lower this year than Mets fans would have wanted him, is because I have no reason to believe he’s going to be a 180 or 200 inning starter, and certainly not on a regular basis. And a guy who pitches like a #2 starter, but only throws 140 innings a year, that’s not a #2 starter, that’s somebody who, by WAR, is going to produce more like a #3 or a #4.

If he hadn’t had— somebody asked where would I have him if he hadn’t had all the health problems, I said I wouldn’t have ranked him at all, because he would have been their #2 starter by now going into last season. It’s not that I don’t like him, but I have to be realistic about a guy who’s had this many injuries, some of which seem like they’re likely to recur, all of which I think adds up. Wheeler, Harvey, Syndergaard— who is like a machine— or Jacob deGrom, it’s funny, because three of those guys have had Tommy John Surgery, but we sort of shrug that off, whereas Matz it’s like almost anything he could break has broken at some point. And I feel bad for the kid, but we have to be kind of callous when looking at these guys’ futures.

Tommy: So if the Mets did need to make a move, or wanted to make a move, to get a major impact hitter or another asset— obviously Matz probably has the lowest trade value of the four, but he does still have value— is that the guy you think they would and should look to trade to make it happen?

Keith: I’ve never had that discussion with anybody in the front office, specifically in terms of trade value. I think my ranking of Matz has reflected their internal sense of Matz relative to the other pitchers, I think they’ve always had Syndergaard higher since he came into the system, obviously you know what they think of Harvey and deGrom, and I think they believe that Wheeler, as long as he’s back at 100% this year, is also going to be ahead of Matz. And I think Matz’s trade value is going to depend entirely on whether they find a trade partner undisturbed by his medicals. If somebody looks at him and says, ‘we’re comfortable with it,’ says that he’s gonna be healthy and he can throw 160 innings next year, then they’re going to get a really good return on him. It’s possible that there could be something we don’t know about, that would stop any potential trade. That’s the kind of thing we won’t find out— if ever— until there’s a trade out there that falls through because the other team saw something they really didn’t like. But there I’m just speculating…

Tommy:  Yeah, when I watched Matz in the playoffs, and I guess throughout the season, it seemed like he really was just a five-inning pitcher. He was fine, he was solid through five innings, but—

Keith: Yep. And that’s fine, if you’ve got the long guys in the bullpen. The Cubs have Adam Warren, and Travis Wood, and others, if you’ve got a couple of those guys, that’s fine. A five-inning starter as your nominal fifth starter is fine. I don’t know if the Mets are set up to have a five-inning guy as a fifth starter.

Tommy: So with deGrom, I would say he has the least— he doesn’t have Thor’s curveball, for instance. But he’s gotten it done two years in a row now. He’s shown that 2014 wasn’t a fluke. But sometimes you’re watching and you still don’t know how he does it, how they don’t manage to hit him. Do you think he’s a candidate for regression going forward? What are your thoughts on deGrom?

Keith: I’m all in. I don’t think he’s a candidate for regression. I think his fastball life is real, I think his aggressiveness is real, I’m a huge fan of anybody who’s that athletic on the mound, I think he adds value with his fielding, obviously he adds a little value with his hitting. But he can compete really well, he throws strikes, there’s some command, I think there might be even better command going forward, because he doesn’t have the same pitching experience as these other guys [deGrom used to be a shortstop], I’m a huge fan, and, no, I’m not worried about regression.

The only guy in the rotation— we’ve talked about Matz— of the other four, the only one I’d say I’m worried about, I don’t know what Wheeler’s going to look like, or be able to handle, in his first year back from Tommy John. But I was an enormous Zack Wheeler fan going all the way back to high school. If he’s still that guy, their rotation might be the best in baseball. With Matz as the five, Matz could be the best number five starter in baseball. I’m not worried about Thor, I’m really not worried about Harvey— Harvey gave us nothing to worry about last year— and I’m certainly not worried about deGrom. I think deGrom being better in the Majors than he was at any point in the minors is just a reflection of that he didn’t pitch a lot around Tommy John Surgery after signing, and I think the stuff picked up right around the time he got to the big leagues.

noah syndergaard

Tommy: Obviously with Harvey, his first full year, his second year overall in 2013, he had a monster season. Thor is going into that season now. What upside do you think he has, not going forward, but just for 2016 specifically?

Keith: Yeah, I think he could— look, I still think there’s growth here as a pitcher, I’ve talked in the past about how he’s a guy who seems to make gradual adjustments and come back to the curveball, which in high school was a 30 or a 35 (on the 20-80 scale), in the Blue Jays system was like a 40-45, around the time of the trade to the Mets it was average, or maybe a little less than average, but everybody liked where it was heading, and now, you’ve seen with Thor it was pretty consistently an above-average pitch for him [last season]. I know he was worth about 3 Wins Above Replacement in three-quarters of a season, I see no reason he can’t pitch at that level over a 200-inning season, because he’s a horse. He’s built like a horse, the delivery is easy, he repeats it, he does everything you want in a pitcher you’d ask to go out and throw 200 innings for you. And the command and control were better last year. That’s another guy— pitchers get to the Big Leagues with the Mets and they pitch better. And I don’t think that’s a fluke. We’ve seen this with a bunch of guys now. And I think that’s true of Thor too, where— could he be a 5 WAR pitcher over a full season? I think it’s within reach, as long as he’s healthy. And he’s always been healthy. He has the best track record of health of anybody in that rotation. Yeah, I think he could do it. (Note for reference: deGrom had a 4.7 WAR in 191 innings last season).

 Tommy: And then for the other main guy the Mets got in the R.A. Dickey trade, Travis d’Arnaud. Every year we think he can’t possibly have another freak injury, and then he gets hit by a ball a week in. When he’s on the field, I think the consensus amongst us fans is that his defense has been a bit disappointing, especially his throwing. But he’s still young. How would you evaluate him and his opportunity to grow this year and become more of a star all-around catcher?

Keith: I really wonder if his future is at catcher— and I said this last season too— because he can’t stay healthy. And he’s had at least one concussion, which last year I was concerned about just in a baseball sense, now I’m concerned, you know, in a human sense.

Tommy: Yeah.

Keith: So if you wanna remove him from that risk of injury, well if they were any other club, you could find a spot for him, first base, left field, but they’re full right now. I don’t know where you put him. Because they could put Kevin Plawecki behind the plate 140 games, and I think he’d be great in that role. He’s a better receiver, certainly, and I think he’s even more consistent in controlling the running game, but he doesn’t give you Travis’ potential for offense. I think Travis’ bat might play in left, and you might get him on the field more, it’s just not an opportunity that’s open to the Mets. So since he’s clearly going to be on the 25-man roster, my guess is he catches a bunch, gets hurt at some point, they’ll try to mix him in at other positions as they need to, if Duda needs a day off, or Conforto should go on the DL for whatever reason, they could just try d’Arnaud out there, maybe think long-term to see if there’s another opportunity. But I wonder if he’s a guy who ends up traded because they have guys at the other positions where he might play. He’s not gonna run Conforto off of left field, clearly. And if the defense is an ongoing concern— and I agree with you that it’s disappointing— maybe Plawecki ends up the long-term catcher instead.

michael Conforto

Tommy: So you mentioned Conforto, I don’t think many people saw him arriving by July, establishing himself as a starter, and helping during the World Series run. So I know you were definitely extremely high on him when we talked last year, but were you surprised by how quickly he developed and got up to the Majors?

Keith: The only thing I was surprised about was the power output in the Big Leagues— and it was only half a season, so I don’t want to read too much into it— but otherwise that’s kind of what I thought he would be. I thought he was the best college hitter in the draft in 2014, I thought it was a great pick when they took him 10th overall, I thought his approach was really advanced when he worked through the low minors, and I was critical of the Mets when they started him in the Florida State League because he was too advanced for that. I thought he had a lot in common with [young Cubs slugger] Kyle Schwarber, in terms of proximity to the big leagues. Where Schwarber has the higher upside because he’s a potential catcher, I thought Conforto was further along. I was probably a little more surprised by how good Schwarber was as quickly as he was, than I was by Conforto.

Tommy: I think a lot of people will be surprised, when they look at your prospect rankings, by how high you have Wuilmer Becerra, because a lot of people who know him just know him as the throw-in in that amazing Dickey trade. But how close do you think he is to having a chance to contribute, either to the Mets or to another team if they decide to move him?

Keith: He’s probably three years away, I mean maybe it’s a little faster now because he’s 20. I thought it was a real breakout year for him, where he always had the ability— Mets people were stoked when they got him in the trade— but you knew it was a long-term play for them. The approach there is good enough, so that he can get to the strength and to the power. And you and I talked last year about what a terrible park Savannah is for power. So maybe Becerra gets out this year, gets to the Florida State League and starts to hit for a little more power, maybe the next year he gets to Binghamton and then the power really blossoms, because he’s out of those deadly A-ball parks that I think haunt a lot of those Mets hitters, where they get there and they really can’t hit for any power. My only real concern on him— other than that he’s young and that there’s some volatility there— no one is really confident in his outfield defense, so I think you’re just hoping he ends up playable, at either one of the corner spots. And then if he hits for the power I think he’s gonna have, it’s not really gonna matter.

Tommy: So with people worrying about defense with prospects, the idea that the NL might get a DH at some point, would that change the way you value prospects, just because you won’t have to say ‘he can start but he’d need to be on an AL team,’ would that be a big shift for you and other people who look at talent from a young age and factor in the fielding?

Keith: I can only speak for myself here, but I think it really wouldn’t affect the rankings because I try to make all my rankings team-agnostic, so that if I’m evaluating a player for an NL team, who looks like he’s going to have to be a DH, like Josh Naylor with the Marlins, I evaluate him exactly the same. His role is limited. He’s maybe a DH, he may be a first baseman, we’ll see. But it’s a bad body, and it could potentially end up at DH. And that’s going to drastically reduce his value, because we know replacement level is higher, anybody can DH. So it’s not gonna change that. It may actually change his market value, because you’re doubling the number of teams that could have an opportunity to play a player like that. Like where the Cubs look at a prospect like Daniel Vogelbach and say, ‘The kid can hit, but we have zero use for him.’

Tommy: The Mets have a lot of outfield depth, so one guy who’s kind of being forgotten about as a prospect is Brandon Nimmo, obviously they picked him very high several years ago, despite him having not— I don’t think he even played high school baseball.

Keith: Right. They don’t have it in Wyoming.

Tommy: So where would you say he is in terms of his development at this stage?

Keith: I would describe his development as kind of stalling out, where he got to double-A, and did not take a step forward. And it looks like he’s not taking a step forward, he moved to Vegas at the end of the year, and still didn’t hit well, and still didn’t find any power. And nobody seems to think he can play center field. So now you’ve got a corner guy, with some on-base ability, but no power, and isn’t really hitting for a high- enough average that you feel super confident in the OBP, and I don’t think that’s a regular anymore. When he was 19 and drafted, I could see the pick, but it has to come with power. And I don’t know if the lack of power is a hand strength issue, or— he had a lot of problems with his knees when he was younger, maybe he’s not generating that power from his legs— but at some point I have to look away from the body and just look at the production. And even in a more favorable power environment, he’s still not hitting for power. And given his age, and how long he’s been in the system, and especially the fact that he went to Vegas and didn’t find power, I just sort of feel like, I don’t know, maybe it’s not gonna be there. And that would make him a fourth outfielder. And probably a fourth outfielder soon, but nothing more than that.

Tommy: And now for the middle infield, obviously it’s going to look a lot different this year with Wilmer Flores bouncing around, and then Asdrubal Cabrera at short, and then Neil Walker instead of Daniel Murphy at second. So the first question is, whether you think they upgraded, downgraded, whether there’s much of a shift going from Walker to Murphy on both sides of the ball?

Keith: I’ll say I like Walker more than Murphy. I think Murphy was pretty bad defensively and I think it really cost them, maybe even more than the defensive metrics might reflect, because of the way they might have had to compensate with guys at other positions. Because he never really could play second base. They were just trying to find a spot for his bat, and I respect that approach, but it didn’t work. Walker can play second base. He’s not great, but he’s turned himself into a perfectly serviceable defensive second baseman.

Cespedes Yoenis

Tommy: So speaking of defense— before I ask you about Cabrera— with Cespedes, he won a Gold Glove last year in the AL, in left field, obviously those aren’t much of a reliable stat, but he has the best arm in baseball and he has good speed. But people view him… statistically there are a lot of people who argue he’s a disaster in center field. Do you think there’s room for his physical tools to translate and for him to become a good center fielder now that he’s going to be playing there full time?

Keith: I don’t think so. Having seen Cespedes all the way back to his first Spring Training in Oakland, where they did run him around in center, no I don’t think so. I think he can really be excellent in a corner, but it’s too much of an ask to ask him to play average or better defense in center field. Maybe it’s something they can live with, because they want his power, because the middle of the order is a little short on power— it’s a much better OBP lineup, especially because of Conforto, but definitely light on the power. It’s a trade-off. And it may be that that trade-off is fine for them, but I do think they’re gonna miss— 2014 Lagares back in center would be an awfully nice thing to have.

Tommy: So what do you think goes into that, the idea that someone with great physical tools, and definitely the speed to have good range, could be great in left, what makes him just so hopeless out in center? Is it route-running, how he reads fly balls, or…

Keith: I mean I don’t think he’s super fast, either. It’s not like he’s a 70 runner, and his first step is not that quick. Underway, he’s fast. And underway, I’d wanna get the hell out of his way. But speed in center, speed translating to defense in center is often about that first step quickness. I don’t think he has that. Maybe I haven’t seen him enough in center, other than in the playoffs, where he didn’t look good, if you really evaluate that. I don’t think that’s gonna be— or I don’t think that is— a strength of his.  Where in a corner it’s a little bit less of an issue, and you mentioned the Gold Glove, it’s probably because he can really throw, the guy’s a human highlight reel if you let him throw. And really, if you run on him, you’re stupid. Because it’s, not only is it strong, it’s reasonably accurate. It’s not an arm I would actively want to test.

Tommy: So you mentioned the lineup earlier, you’re right that there’s not a ton of 30-homer guys— you’ve got Cespedes, and maybe Duda. But one thing they have that they definitely haven’t had in a long time is that when you go up and down, everybody in that lineup should be able to hit 15 home runs, plus, including Cabrera. What’s Cabrera— what does he have, first in terms of power, and then— because he’s been so streaky, he was a star a few years ago, then he had a slump, but last year he had a great second half— what should Mets fans, first of all, expect, and also, be able to hope for?

Keith: I mean, the big problem with him is that he can’t play shortstop. He CANNOT play shortstop, and he hasn’t been able to play shortstop for several years now. So I don’t understand— I mean yes, this is the front office that decided Wilmer Flores could play shortstop, he really couldn’t play shortstop either— but then to go from Flores to Cabrera— is Cabrera really better than Flores, at anything? I mean Flores, I know the production wasn’t great, but the swing’s good, he puts the ball in play a lot, and I still think he’s going to come into some power, whereas Cabrera, outside of that one crazy first half power-wise he had with Cleveland a couple years ago, you kind of never got it. So I don’t understand— do they think they’re getting a better defensive shortstop than they really are? Do they think he’s going to turn into a 20 homer guy? Because I don’t believe that that’s the case.

I didn’t understand that signing at all. It’s part of why— somebody asked me about the Mets offseason— it’s great that they did spend some money, but what if they had taken the money they gave to Cespedes, and Cabrera, and Alejandro De Aza, and thrown it at one of the more premium free agents on the market. They could have done something better. Cabrera over Flores, I don’t even know if that’s an upgrade, and if it is, it’s a fairly small one.

Tommy: So prospect-wise in the middle infield, I know you’re extremely high on Amed Rosario and you have been for awhile, and then there’s Gavin Cecchini, who you put in your top 100. I know Cecchini’s probably closer in terms of an MLB timeline, but how would you analyze those guys offensively and defensively, and in terms of when you think they’re going to be able to contribute?

Keith: Cecchini’s glove is ready. His arm, he had a little bit of a throwing issue, last year. And he was better in Fall League, he was even better in August or so, I know they started to work on him with— particularly if a runner was going fast, he hesitated a fraction of a second, and suddenly looked up and realized the runner was getting down the line, then he’d rush a throw and often overthrow the first baseman. Just trying to work with him on that, it looked like he was better in Fall League. If that problem is resolved, his glove is ready. A half-season or more at Triple-A is not gonna hurt him because he’s really only been performing offensively the way we expected when he was rafted for about a year and two months, or so. So I’m fine with taking it slow with a guy like that.

Rosario, it’s still more tools than performance. This will be a big year for him. Obviously they jumped him a level last year, which was aggressive, and I think in the context of his aging and experience, he had a great year. But now, alright, now let’s go, let’s see the harder contact, let’s see the power, because we think it’s all there, but again he pays in a crappy offensive environment in St Lucie. Let’s see him go to double-A and start to produce a little more. He doesn’t have to be a superstar statistically, because given his youth, if he performs even a little bit, if some of that power starts to arrive, I think we’ll all feel a lot better about him getting to that star upside. But I think he’s a solid two years away from doing anything in the Majors, and he may be a guy who gets to the Big Leagues, and it’s defense first and the occasional home run, but it takes another year or two for the whole offensive [set] to come together. I’m just betting on the huge upside, because from tools, I don’t think there’s louder tools anywhere in the system.

jeurys familia

Tommy: So now I have a few questions about the bullpen. What are your thoughts on that situation at large?

Keith: On the Major League bullpen? I didn’t like the Clippard acquisition, in part because I didn’t think he was that huge of an upgrade over a Hansel Robles, I think they paid for experience. Then they turned around and picked up Addison Reed for lesser prospects, and that made more sense, and Reed carried over so they get more than a couple months out of him. I think that they had enough power arms, still have enough power arm relievers, sticking around the system that they can certainly patch together a good enough, more than good enough bullpen for than this year, with Jeurys Familia being potentially a dominant, top five, top ten closer in the game for a couple years here. I certainly feel way better about their bullpen now than I would have going into last season. And I would really like to see them trust that, and not do what they did. Don’t go out and trade real prospects, like Meisner, for bullpen help, while that bullpen help is already in hand, somebody in the system, who maybe can convert. It’s not gonna be a guy like Robert Gsellman. They have power arms sticking around, who could potentially go into that role for them.

Tommy: So like you said, you’re not a big fan of big trades for relievers at the deadline. But because a lot of teams usually do make some veteran relievers available, do you think they still have some of the depth, possibly at the major league level, to—

Keith: Oh yeah. To go get one? Yeah. Absolutely. Well because you can swap a position player who doesn’t fit for you, to go get a reliever. Or— Nick Pivetta was the cost for Jonathan Papelbon. I do like Pivetta, but he is— I like Pivetta because I think he has a chance to be a fourth starter. But if you said to me, ‘Hey Keith, I want you to nitpick Pivetta to death right now,’ I could also do that for you. He’s not a perfect prospect. There are strengths and there are flaws. And the Mets have prospects like that, mostly on the position player side, but they have prospects like that who could return someone of value. Nimmo could be that guy, where they flip him in July, one-for-one deal for a reliever with an expiring contract, and because I don’t Nimmo’s ceiling is that high, I’m okay with that. You hope to get a good reliever, not a Tyler Clippard, but that concept is fine. My problem with the Clippard deal was they gave up a good prospect for a reliever who I just did not think was very good. And then he wasn’t good.

Tommy: So now, with a situation like Jenrry Mejia, you follow these guys, being in your position, you follow them from a very young age. And it kind of looked like he was gonna contribute, he had 30 saves a couple years ago, and then his career, and really his life, just fell apart so fast… what are your comments and thoughts on that situation?

Keith: It’s sad. And it’s sad that a guy like that would feel like he has to do that, to further his career. I don’t know what the path back is, for a guy like that, we really don’t have any precedent… If I were his agent, for one, you’re just trying to get the kid— do we have a problem here that needs to be addressed off the field? And the second thing is, you wanna work, you wanna pitch, let’s get you in one of those leagues overseas, whether it’s in Europe, or somewhere, or something. Let’s just have you go pitch somewhere, be healthy, be clean, for a year, two years, work his way back and then try to work with Major League Baseball to see if there’s a chance of reinstatement at some point. Because as much as the lifetime ban was intended to— I think it’s there to be a deterrent, rather than to actually kick someone out forever. My guess is they probably figured they’d never get to this point, now they are at this point. They have to at least create an appeals process for somebody like that to clean his act up and potentially get back into organized baseball here. And I hope he does. Because I, you know, his livelihood has been taken away from him. Through his own fault! But still, he’s not hurting anybody. You’d like to see him be able to, if he cleans up his act, to be able to get back into organized baseball.

Tommy: And finally, the Mets are obviously in a much different situation in terms of outlook than they were a year ago. And the way their division is set up, obviously the Braves and Phillies aren’t going to threaten them in any way, the Marlins, every year people think they might do something, but they usually don’t, and then there’s the Mets and the Nationals. So the Mets definitely aren’t a guarantee to repeat, but they definitely have one of the most enviable positions, in terms of winning their division, in Baseball. So what’s your outlook on the Mets this season, just what you’re expecting, what you think the upside and the floor is?

Keith: I think I’d probably pick them to win the division. I think they can at least match Washington for talent on the field. Washington might be more famous, obviously Washington has maybe the best player in the league playing right field. But I think the Mets have a little more depth, they probably have more players who are underrated on name value, and I trust their front office more. And I trust their manager substantially more. I do not wish to underestimate Dusty Baker‘s ability to make the wrong decision, to think Trea Turner isn’t ready and send him to the minors and let Danny Espinosa screw up at shortstop for two months before they make a change. We’ll know more on April 3rd or whenever Spring Training breaks, but for right now, I’d give the edge to the Mets in a couple for departments.

Tommy: Alright! That’s all the questions I have for you. Thanks again so much for doing this.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Again, a big thanks to Keith for his time and insight. Check out his recently released Prospect Rankings if you have ESPN insider.

As always, leave your reactions in the comments (Unless you’re Dusty Baker).

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