Mets Merized Online » Carlos Gomez Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:55:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Game Recap: Brewers 5, Mets 1 (13) Fri, 13 Jun 2014 04:18:50 +0000 niese recker

The Mets (29-37) lost to the Brewers (40-27) on Thursday night by a score of 5-1 in 13 innings at Citi Field.

Jon Niese got the start for the Mets and was fantastic, allowing one run on six hits and a walk in 7.2 innings, striking out eight and throwing 97 pitches.

The Brewers scored first in the top of the 2nd, on a solo shot by Aramis Ramirez. Niese got himself into a few of uncomfortable spots thanks to a couple hit batsmen and some scattered singles, but cruised for much of the night.

The Mets got their lone run off of Kyle Lohse in the bottom of the 4th. Daniel Murphy opened the frame with a single to center, and ended up on 3rd after the ball somehow got by Carlos Gomez. Murphy then scored on a sacrifice fly from Bobby Abreu.

With 2 outs and Niese rolling in the top of the 8th, Gomez hit the lefty’s 97th pitch of the night into center for a base hit. Terry Collins came out of the dugout to make a double switch and bring in a reliever, and a visibly upset Niese didn’t take it very well.

Jeurys Familia came in and got the 3rd out, and breezed through the top of the 9th. The Mets had the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the 9th, but Ruben Tejada grounded out to send the two teams to extras.

The Mets had a runner in scoring position once again in the bottom of the 10th, but Eric Campbell failed to drive in the run with two outs.

The Mets looked like they might win it in the bottom of the 11th after David Wright walked, stole 2nd, and advanced to 3rd on a grounder with only 1 out. Alas, after Chris Young worked a walk and Curtis Granderson was intentionally walked to load the bases, Wilmer Flores was unable to get the ball in the air, instead grounding out to 1st baseman Mark Reynolds, who threw home to erase Wright. With 2 outs, Anthony Recker came up to the plate looking to be the hero, but on a 2-2 pitch, Recker was rung up by Angel Hernandez on a pitch that did not appear to be in the strike zone. A furious Recker was ejected, and the teams headed to the 12th.

Carlos Torres worked in and out of trouble in the 12th, but after coming out for a 2nd inning, after having appeared in the previous night’s game, the righty looked absolutely exhausted in the 13th. The Brewers tagged Torres for four runs, the last of which was charged to Carlos despite scoring when Dana Eveland hit Rickie Weeks with the bases loaded.

The Mets went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 13th against Francisco Rodriguez to end the ballgame, giving New York a rather depressing loss.

Well, that wasn’t much fun. The Mets didn’t hit tonight, and couldn’t get it done despite having several chances to win it late.

Niese was fantastic, and had every right to be upset when he was taken out. Terry made some pretty questionable moves in this game. Pulling Niese earlier than he had to, and pulling josh Edgin after facing only 1 hitter… this is why the Mets always have a tired bullpen, and maybe it’s why Terry somehow convinced himself that leaving Torres in so long was a decent idea.

The Mets can’t be making money right now. The crowds are just pathetic. You could really notice this when Niese left to a very weak ovation after a very strong performance. It’s really just a question of whether Fred Wilpon’s bank account can hold up long enough for him to reach his dream of being able to hand the team on to Jeffy. He’s a pretty rich guy despite all of his Mets-and-Madoff-related problems, so the Wilpons are probably here for the long haul, in my opinion.

The one thing I loved about tonight’s game? The broadcast was amazing. No commercials, no annoying jingles or slogans, just the SNY broadcast team talking baseball and exploring Citi Field all night long. They even sent Kevin out there to do some groundskeeping at one point. The lack of a commercial breaks seemed to make it less frustrating when the Mets made the third out at the end of each inning. The Mets should definitely do this more often.

Up Next:

The Mets will begin a 3-game series with the San Diego Padres on Friday night at Citi Field. Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.31 ERA) will face off against Andrew Cashner (2-5, 2.13 ERA).

Yep. “2-5, 2.13 ERA.” Maybe he belongs on our team…

Game Notes:

Curtis Granderson was not in the lineup originally due to an issue with his calf.  Zack Wheeler came in to pinch-run for Granderson after his intentional walk. LGM!


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Lagares Saved 11 Runs With His Arm Last Season Sun, 12 Jan 2014 15:50:49 +0000 juan lagares

According to John Dewan, Mets center fielder Juan Lagares saved 11 runs last season with his arm. 

Most Outfield Arm Runs Saved, 2013
Player OF Arm Runs Saved
Gerardo Parra 12
Juan Lagares 11
Jose Bautista 9
Adam Jones 7
Leonys Martin 6
Chris Denorfia 6
Carlos Gomez 6
Alex Gordon 6
Jeff Francoeur 5
Juan Perez 5
Norichika Aoki 5

Rookie center fielder Juan Lagares saved the Mets an estimated 11 runs with his arm, and he did that in only 820 innings at the position.

His lofty total was supported by his 12 kills—runners thrown out without the assist of a relay man. That is the sixth-highest total in the last five seasons. 

So in addition to all the runs Lagares saves with his spectacular play in the outfield which includes countless leaping grabs and many diving stops, his arm is also rated among the best in baseball.

Presented By Diehards

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Ricciardi: Tejada Is Going To Be A Better Player Sat, 28 Dec 2013 02:38:26 +0000 jp ricciardi

Appearing on the ‘€˜Hot Stove Show’€™ with Rob Bradford and John McDonald on Thursday night, Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi said his team is happy with heading into the 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop.

œHe’€™s a young player…a lot of them don’€™t realize what it takes to play every day. I think in Ruben’€™s case…he’€™s starting to realize that he has to work a lot harder than he has in the past, and he has. To his credit, he really has.

But as a young player, they get to the big leagues, some things happen for them and they forget how tough it is to stay there. I think he’€™s at that stage in his career. I think next year he’€™s going to be a better player than he was this previous year.

It’s good to see Ricciardi come out and join Sandy Alderson in explaining why the team is confident going into the season with Tejada as their shortstop. Too many are ready to move on from players like Tejada and Juan Lagares during their formative years, much as we did with Heath Bell and Carlos Gomez.

Ricciardi also weighed in on on how supply and demand is impacting the free agent market for shortstops, namely Stephen Drew where the Mets are concerned.

I think right now there’€™s just not a lot of demand for shortstops.  €œIt’€™s funny how it works. Sometimes there’€™s a lot of opportunities for free agents, but sometimes the market is a little bit of a stonewall. I think in this case there’€™s a lot of shortstops that are already in place.

Of course, when Scott Boras is your agent, standard rules never apply as the Jacoby Ellsbury deal clearly illustrated.

Perhaps the most interesting thing Ricciardi said during his interview was in regards to Curtis Granderson, sacrificing a draft pick, and building a team through the draft:

One of the things that is happening in baseball right now, that I scratch my head, is€“ young players are so overvalued right now, and I think it falls in with the draft picks, too.

No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft. €œYou can’€™t build a team through the draft because they just don’€™t all work out.

But you can supplement your system, and I get all that. But if you’€™re telling me I have a chance to get Curtis Granderson over a second round pick I think I’€™m going to take my chances with a proven major league player as opposed to maybe a high school or college kid that may or may not become Curtis Granderson.

Hindsight is 20-20 and we can all go back and look at guys where they were drafted and what happened to them, but in the end, the major league players, the proven major league player, has a lot more value to me than the Double A kid, the Triple A kid or even the kid who is drafted.

Ricciardi echoes my feelings on that exactly. But of course you already knew that. Too many fans have become prospect drunk these days. And yes, hindsight is 20/20 as Ricciardi says. It’s easy to look back 5-10 years and psychoanalyze and say “we should have done this or that.” However it’s apropos of nothing.

Presented By Diehards

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This Day In Mets Infamy: “When Is The Right Time To Panic” Edition Wed, 04 Dec 2013 11:57:46 +0000 bacon 2

Well I don’t know about you but all that hot stove action yesterday gave me a serious case of whiplash as well as extreme nausea . It is not out of the ordinary for many deals – whether it is trades or free agent signings to get done before the winter meetings, but so many big names came off the board last night – capped by the cross town Yankees completely blowing up the free agent market. So it’s understandable why I felt so queasy – especially when word from Mets sources admitted that there aren’t any pending deals in the hopper.

If you’re a Mets fan this news doesn’t make you happy – I know it doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy. But as the obvious names keep being erased off of front office whiteboards when is the right time for us Mets fans to start panicking? Well in my opinion if you haven’t put your head in the oven, or started to tying the noose to your ceiling, I would wait until at least next Friday after the Winter Meetings conclude and Sandy Alderson has not filled any of the glaring voids on our roster – that is if you don’t have the wherewithal to wait until Spring Training starts in February.

I admit with the events of yesterday I am getting very antsy, I am sure the front office is almost about to go after and make an admirable run at  Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz – but with the Ellsbury contract you have to wonder if the Mets will have the stomach to strike a deal with either two players since obviously their stock has skyrocketed.

The Met front office as well as ownership seriously and woefully underestimated the market, and if there isn’t major changes by Opening Day on March 31st they will be panicking more than us over all the empty seats at Citi Field!

And with that said ,,,,, HERE COMES THE INFAMY!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

Utility infielder from the ’83 season, Tucker Ashford is 59 (1954).

Reserve outfielder from the ’86 season, Stan Jefferson is 51 (1962).

One time up and coming Mets outfielder, Carlos Gomez is 28 (1985). He is currently a star with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Other notable transactions include:

The New York Mets traded middle reliever, Jack DiLauro to the Detroit Tigers for minor leaguer, Hector Valle on December 4, 1968.

The Kansas City Royals signed middle reliever, Dan Schatzeder of the New York Mets as a free agent on December 4, 1990.

The Boston Red Sox drafted middle reliever, Joe Crawford from the Mets  on December 4, 1995.

The New York Mets traded outfielder,  Butch Huskey to the Seattle Mariners for pitching prospect, Lesli Brea on December 4, 1998.

The New York Mets traded reliever, Willie Blair to the Detroit Tigers for  outfielder/ first baseman, Joe Randa on December 4, 1998. Randa never played one game for the Mets.

The New York Mets signed free agent reserve catcher, Gustavo Molina of the Baltimore Orioles on December 4, 2007. And of course the Mets sign the wrong Molina – Stupid Mets !!!

The New York Mets signed free agent reserve catcher,  Raul Casanova on December 4, 2007.

The New York Mets signed free reserve catcher, Henry Blanco of the San Diego Padres on December 4, 2009.

Mo Vaughn  gets extremely violent cases of explosive diarrhea whenever he starts to panic!!!

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Brewers GM Doug Melvin Sees Mets As Good Trade Partner Mon, 18 Nov 2013 13:40:25 +0000 melvinBrewers GM Doug Melvin acknowledged in an interview this weekend that the Mets and Brewers could fit well together as trading partners.

“They’ve indicated that they have extra first basemen, and we have a need,” Melvin said. “Again, it’s all about keeping your options open. … Nothing imminent, and I don’t anticipate anything imminent. But first base is one of our needs, they have excess first basemen, so you can tie two and two together — and come up with three.”

The Mets have a need in the outfield and tradeable assets at first base, while the Brewers are in the opposite situation. Both Lucas Duda and Ike Davis are young and under affordable team control for the foreseeable future, so the Brewers could have interest in trading for one of the two. In return, the Mets could ask for one of Milwaukee’s solid outfielders. Carlos Gomez would be unrealistic unless the Mets were willing to sweeten the package, but Norichika Aoki could be a fair return in exchange for Davis or Duda.

Aoki is a solid player and is definitely an upgrade over the likes of Mike Baxter in the outfield, but I wouldn’t trade Ike Davis for him. Davis reportedly has a good amount of value on the market this winter, and given that he is only a season removed from a 32 HR campaign and quite solid in the field, the Mets should be in no rush to move him. I’m all for moving Davis if he can be involved in a deal to bring us a game-changing power bat in the outfield or at shortstop, but the Mets have no reason to just give him away unless the right deal presents itself. I would trade Ike (and a bit more) for Gomez, but I wouldn’t consider swapping him for Aoki. Duda is another story. He is worse in the field and has less potential at the plate than Davis, and he has less value on the market. I would be happy to get a solid—not great, but solid— outfielder such as Aoki back in exchange for Duda.

However, if Aoki is our biggest splash of the offseason, or even just our biggest splash in the outfield, I will be quite disappointed. Again, Aoki is a solid player, but the Mets need game-changing bats, and Aoki does not fit under that category. If Alderson can swap Duda for Aoki, it would be a nice first step to rebuilding the outfield and the lineup. But if that trade were to happen, it would only be the first of many measures that must be taken Alderson and the Wilpons to put a competitive team on the field in Flushing.

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Wright, Murphy, Young Recognized For Baserunning At Their Positions Sat, 16 Nov 2013 17:56:29 +0000 eric young

Eye On Baseball unveiled their 2013 NL Bronze Cleat winners and the Mets had three players get the gold – or the bronze in this case.

The Bronze Cleat recognizes players who helped their team the most on the bases, not just with stolen bases, but also things like going first-to-third on a single or scoring from first on a double. FanGraphs’ Base-Running WAR also figures into the voting.

Second Base

Daniel Murphy, Mets: After spending the first few years of his career as an OK base-runner, someone who wouldn’t kill his team with his legs but wouldn’t do much to help out either, Murphy was borderline elite in 2013. He led all NL second baseman by stealing 23 bases in 26 attempts (88 percent) and taking the extra base a whopping 61 percent of the time. That’s the second-highest rate in the entire league among players who batted 350 times. Only NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was better. Matt Carpenter deserves a shoutout for his work on the bases this year.

Third Base

David Wright, Mets: I think Wright has reached “he’s so good he’s boring” status. We’ve marveled at his ability for so long that it has sort of lost its appeal. Wright stole 11 more bases than any other regular third baseman in the league (17 in 20 attempts) and he was essentially tied for first by taking the extra base 43 percent of the time. He was unanimous, getting the first-place vote on all four ballots. Ho hum.


Eric Young, Mets: There are some truly outstanding outfielders in the NL, but none stood out on the bases as much as Carlos Gomez and Young. They clearly separated themselves from the pack and it showed in our voting. Young led the circuit with 46 stolen bases (in 57 attempts) and he hustled for that extra base 55 percent of the time. Gomez swiped 40 bags in 47 tries and took the extra base 44 percent of the time. They were both outstanding.

Make room for Daniel Murphy at second base.

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Juan Lagares Is Off To A Sizzling Start In Winter Ball Mon, 04 Nov 2013 00:55:36 +0000 future stars lagares

It’s only been six games for Juan Lagares who is working on his bat in the Dominican Winter League, but so far the early results have been incredible for the young center fielder.

Last night, Lagares went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two stolen bases to raise his average to .375 for the season with a .777 OPS.

The Dominican native has hit in six straight games for Las Aguilas and has eleven hits in his last twenty at-bats. Lagares is batting third in the lineup as his team takes advantage of his ability to spray the ball to all fields, make solid contact, and produce runs.

Like all rookies, Lagares had his highs and lows at the plate last season, but the team loves his coachability and his thirst to improve.

juan lagares

I’ve always seen Lagares as the center fielder of the future for the Mets after falling in love with his bat in 2010 and then his defense in 2011.

There are many who predict his power to increase and for him to start utilizing his plus-speed more on the basepaths. He’s one of the few Mets who have a controlled aggressiveness at the plate and has the potential to become a catalyst in the lineup.

Defensively, he is already considered among the best center fielders in the game, accumulating 26 Defensive Runs Saved in barely two-thirds of a season as an everyday player. His 21.5 UZR is off the charts.

As our own former Mets scouting assistant Teddy Klein told us, Lagares’ defense is comparable to a young version of Carlos Beltran. “He just doesn’t give much away except the impossible, and he glides to the ball. It’s like an art to me, just watching his routes.”

The Mets have said they are very comfortable with Lagares as their everyday center fielder and some in the organization expect him to have a breakthrough season in 2014.

What he’s doing right now in Winter Ball is exciting to say the least.

How many days until pitchers and catchers report? :-)

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Video: Terry Collins On 2014, Murphy, Lagares, More… Sun, 29 Sep 2013 13:35:53 +0000 Here is the video I shot of Terry Collins, who held his last pre-game presser of the 2013 season a short while ago.

“We’ve been talking about 2014 for two years now…talk is pretty much over, it’s time to play.”

Terry Collins with high praise of Daniel Murphy, saying the team should model his ability to put the ball in play…

Terry said Wright and Murphy will most likely be taken out early today…

Terry Collins envisions Juan Lagares as his center fielder in 2014… Hoping for Carlos Gomez-type career….

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Brewers vs Mets: Wright Out With Sore Thumb, Torres Tries To Even Series Fri, 27 Sep 2013 12:18:30 +0000 carlos torres 2

BREWERS (72-87) at METS (73-86)

RHP Yovani Gallardo (11-10, 4.23) vs. RHP Carlos Torres (4-5, 3.36)

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Starting Lineup

  1. Eric Young, Jr. – LF
  2. Lucas Duda – 1B
  3. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  4. Justin Turner – 3B
  5. Andrew Brown – RF
  6. Juan Lagares – CF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  8. Wilfredo Tovar – SS
  9. Carlos Torres – RHP

David Wright appears to have escaped serious injury when he was beaned by Johnny Hellweg with an 86 mph changeup in the third inning Thursday. However he injured his thumb when he fell, and Collins said it’s still a little sore so he’ll be on the bench tonight. The Mets hope Wright will return to the lineup Saturday.

Yovani Gallardo is 3-3 with a 3.72 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets, including one complete game. Torres gave up two earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his lone relief appearance against the Brewers. Gallardo will face Mets right-hander Carlos Torres, who is coming off a quality start against the Phillies, limiting them to two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Still, Torres has been much better out of the bullpen this season, working to a 1.47 ERA as a reliever against a 4.95 ERA as a starter.

Carlos Gomez was issued a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Thursday and sat out the opener against the Mets because of his participation in a benches-clearing incident against the Braves on Wednesday. Gomez, who was replaced in center field Thursday by Norichika Aoki, said he chose not to appeal the suspension because he did not want to risk it getting pushed back until the 2014 season opener.

With two stolen bases Thursday, Eric Young Jr. has caught Milwaukee’s Jean Segura for the National League lead at 44. And Young now firmly is targeting winning the league crown.

Game Preview

The Mets and Brewers play the second game of the series tonight as the Mets look for a couple of bright moments at the end of the season. First, the Mets will be looking to see if David Wright is ok after being hit in the head yesterday (I’m in the camp thinking he should at least sit out tonight, if not the rest of the season). Second, Eric Young stole two bases last night, now tied in the lead for stolen bases in the National League with 44, so now he has a few games to get the overall lead. Carlos Torres gets the start tonight as he goes up against Yovani Gallardo.

Torres is 4-5 over 32 games this year with 80.1 innings of work and a 3.36 ERA. He is 1-3 over 25.0 innings in September with a 4.68 ERA. In his career he has pitched 2.1 innings against the Brewers and has allowed 2 earned runs who have the following numbers against Torres:

Ramirez 0-3
Gomez 1-2, 2B
Lucroy 0-1
Aoki 0-1

Yovani Gallardo is 11-10 this season over 30 games with 174.2 innings and 4.23 ERA. In the month of September he has pitched 27.0 innings with a 3.33 ERA. In one start against the Mets this year, he allowed 4 ER over 6 innings of work. The Mets have the following numbers against Gallardo:

Wright 3-19, HR
Murphy 5-12, 2 2B
Duda 3-7, 2 HR
Tejada 2-6

Lets Go Mets!

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Tejada To Start At Short Tonight, Will Play Bulk Of Remaining Games Wed, 11 Sep 2013 06:56:45 +0000 tejada

Ruben Tejada will start at shortstop on Wednesday night against the Nationals, according to Terry Collins, and will get the bulk of the starts at short the rest of the season.

“Everybody’s allowed to have a bad year. Everybody,” manager Terry Collins said. “He might look at this, 2013, as Ruben Tejada’s worst year. He may bounce back next year and resume where he was two years ago, and that, to me, was an up-and-coming player that brings a lot to the table.”

Which version of Tejada the Mets have for the final stretch of the season remains to be seen. New York recalled the shortstop from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, and Collins said Tejada is going to be in the lineup on Wednesday.

It’s been a tumultuous season so far for Tejada, but he’s hoping to keep that in the past.

“The past is the past,” Tejada said. “I’m here to keep going forward, and keep doing my job and keep working hard.”

During a radio interview with WFAN last week, general manager Sandy Alderson said asking Tejada to do extra work is “like pulling teeth.”

“Every GM, they try to push each player to work hard, do his job and try to get better every day,” Tejada said. “That’s what I think and that’s what I know. I’m here to keep working hard and try to keep playing better.”

I hope he tears the cover off the ball…

Original Post

As was reported on Sunday by Adam Rubin, Ruben Tejada is expected to rejoin the Mets today at Citi Field as they take on the Washington Nationals.

By delaying Tejada’s return for a week, the Mets are able to retain him for another year before he can hit free agency.

I don’t know what delaying his free agency really means for a player who seems to be in both the manager’s and front office’s dog house for the last two years.

Andy Martino spoke to two team officials this weekend. One of them said he was profoundly unimpressed by his work ethic and called him “a very disappointing kid”. The other official added that they “haven’t given up on him at all”.

Last week, Sandy Alderson said that one of the problems with Tejada is “it’s like pulling teeth” with regard to putting in the extra work to improve his performance on the field. “We need to see a commitment to improvement. He’s going to have to earn it.”

My take on this is that the team will do what it can this offseason to fill the shortstop position via trade or free agency. As I wrote yesterday, Stephen Drew and Yunel Escobar seem to be likely targets.

At 23, it seems a bit odd for an organization to give up like that on a player who posted a .284 batting average and .360 on-base when he was asked to step in at second base to replace Luis Castillo. Tejada showed a great deal of passion, baseball intellect and even had a penchant for big hits at the age of 20.

A season later, in 2012, he was asked to move over to shortstop and replace the iconic Jose Reyes. He held his own and batted .289, but clearly he was better suited for second base defensively where he rated as a plus defender the previous season.

Then enter 2013, where the problems began in spring training as soon as he arrived. He showed up to camp having put on a few extra pounds and the team expressed their disappointment to the media. Tejada went on to have an awful season in 2013.

Before he landed on the disabled list, he was moments away from being demoted after hitting just .209 with a .267 OBP over 50 games. So it was no surprise he was assigned to Las Vegas immediately after being activated from the disabled list.

The team believes he lacks any real commitment to improve as a player and that if he wants role on this he’s going to have to earn it. I like that approach, but I wish the Mets would apply it even handedly. There are some players on this team, many 3-4 years older than Tejada, who were given mile long leashes before the team acted.

Tejada went to Las Vegas and actually drove in the game-winning run that allowed the 51s to clinch a playoff berth. It was part of a five-hit day for Tejada who was selected as our Mets Minor League Player of the Week after batting .424 (14 for 33) with seven runs scored, a double, a triple, two home runs, five RBIs and four walks among his four multi-hit games that week.

Tejada finished the season batting .288 with a .716 OPS and in 269 plate appearances he struck out just 30 times, showing the strike zone judgement that impressed many during his first two seasons with the Mets.

My hope is that this doesn’t end up being another Carlos Gomez situation and that Tejada is traded and emerges as a solid and productive player with another team.

This new Mets organization is always being touted for their player development even though that doesn’t seem to be apparent at the major league level just yet. Here’s your test… Take this kid and actually develop him. We already know he has the offensive tools, and even has your plate approach down to a science, so what’s the problem? Invest the time and try to break through and get this kid motivated.

I keep saying that these issues of laziness and work ethic are more a matter of not enough people on staff to communicate and develop these Latino players emotionally as well as physically. Doesn’t it bother the Mets that Tejada does his offseason workouts with Robinson Cano and Jose Reyes? Instead of David Wright and Daniel Murphy? Doesn’t that tell you something?

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Hey Met Fans… Check This Out… Mon, 08 Jul 2013 23:15:33 +0000 I was over at FanGraphs curious to see what Jeremy Hefner‘s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was for the season for another post I’m working on. While I was there I checked to see who the National League leaders in WAR were.

What a nice surprise…

  1. Carlos Gomez, Brewers – 5.0

  2. David Wright, Mets – 4.5

  3. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals – 4.4

  4. Matt Harvey, Mets – 4.3

  5. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies – 4.1

What is fascinating to me about that is that three of the top four National League players in the game today were drafted/signed by the New York Mets and developed in their farm system.

That’s a nice feather in the cap for our Amazins….

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Daniel Murphy’s Fielding Cycle and Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ Offensive Outburst Sat, 06 Jul 2013 15:36:39 +0000 daniel murphy throwingkirk nieuwenhuis mets brewers

On Friday night, the Mets hammered the Milwaukee Brewers, defeating them by the final score of 12-5.  The Bad News Brewers committed three errors on the field and a number of mental errors on the bases.  Despite the Brew Crew’s valiant effort to become the butt of David Letterman’s next Top Ten list, it was two Mets players who really stood out.  One went 0-for-6 but took part in a fielding oddity, while the other reached base all six times he came up to the plate, something very few Mets had ever accomplished.

Daniel Murphy did not have a good night at the dish, going hitless in six plate appearances on a night the Mets collected 14 hits.  But he did make up for it on the field, especially after committing what appeared to be a costly error in the first inning.

In the second inning, with the Mets holding a 5-2 lead, pitcher Zack Wheeler got his Brewers’ counterpart Johnny Hellweg to hit a ground ball to Murphy.  Murphy threw out Hellweg at first base to end the inning.

One inning later, Murphy was involved in a huge play, one that helped the Mets maintain their three-run lead.  With Norichika Aoki on third base and Carlos Gomez on first, the Brewers attempted a double steal.  But Murphy wisely cut off catcher John Buck‘s throw to second and fired a strike back to Buck, who tagged out Aoki as he was trying to score.  Murphy’s heads-up assist kept the Brewers off the scoreboard in the third.

Murphy’s defensive acumen was showcased in the seventh inning, when he participated in two consecutive key plays.  With the Mets holding on to an 8-4 lead, Aoki led off the inning with a single off reliever Greg Burke.  The next batter, Jean Segura, then hit a grounder to Murphy, who threw out Aoki at second base.  Carlos Gomez then followed with a long fly ball to deep center that bounced off the wall.  Segura scored easily to cut the Mets’ lead to three.  But Murphy, after taking the relay throw from centerfielder Juan Lagares, threw a laser to third baseman David Wright, who placed the tag on the sliding Gomez for the second out of the inning.

So did you notice what Murphy did?  He threw out Johnny Hellweg at first base, Norichika Aoki at home plate, Aoki again at second base, and Carlos Gomez at third base.  Murphy may not have gotten a hit at the plate, but he was a big hit on the field, collecting a rare “fielding cycle” by throwing out runners at every base.  No records on fielding cycles are kept (after all, I just created the term), but it must be a rarity and is certainly an oddity.

Speaking of rarities, Mets’ rightfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis also had a wonderful game at the plate.  Nieuwenhuis had six plate appearances and reached base in every one of them, collecting four hits and two walks.  He also stole a base, scored three runs and had a career-high five RBI.

In reaching base six times, Nieuwenhuis accomplished a feat that hadn’t been done by a Met in 13 seasons.  The last Met to reach base six times in a nine-inning game was Mike Piazza, who went 2-for-6 with four walks in a 12-8 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on May 27, 2000.  That came less than a year after Edgardo Alfonzo also reached base six times in a nine-inning game against the Houston Astros, although Alfonzo collected six hits in his special game.

Prior to last night, only three Mets had ever had a game in which they collected four hits, three runs, five RBI and a stolen base.  The first Met to do so was Claudell Washington, who went 4-for-5 with three runs, five RBI and a steal against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 22, 1980.  Seven years later, Darryl Strawberry torched the Chicago Cubs for four hits, five runs, five RBI and threw in a stolen base for good measure on August 16, 1987 – the same game in which the Mets scored a team record 23 runs.  Finally, David Wright joined the club on August 10, 2005, when he lit up Padres pitchers for four hits, three runs, six RBI and a steal.  But none of those players reached base six times in their memorable games.  Washington and Wright reached base four times, while Strawberry was a baserunner five times.  Nieuwenhuis is now the fourth player in this exclusive club, and the only one who reached base six times in his club-making effort.

The Mets had a number of contributors in Friday night’s 12-5 victory over the Brewers.  Zack Wheeler got out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the fifth inning to qualify for the victory.  Ike Davis, in his first game back from his one-month Vegas vacation, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.  Eric Young, Jr. collected two hits, scored three runs and stole a base as the Mets’ table setter.  And Juan Lagares continued to contribute defensively while recording his first three-RBI game in the majors.

All of those players had outstanding games against Milwaukee.  But Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis had performances that had rarely, if ever, been seen before by a player wearing a Mets uniform.  As the old saying goes, if you watch this game long enough, you may see something you’ve never seen before.  With their performances on the field last night, Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis certainly did their part to make that statement true.


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Nieuwenhuis Goes Crazy, Davis Goes Insane, Wheeler Wins The Game! Sat, 06 Jul 2013 04:47:44 +0000 kirk nieuwenhuis


What a comedy of errors we had in this one as the New York Mets walloped the Milwaukee Brewers by the score of 12-5 tonight at Miller Park. This was a fun game and I hope you all got a chance to watch it.

I’m going to forego a retelling of all the many Brewer baserunning blunders and just get to the stuff we really care about – what did the Mets do!!!

Lets cut right to the chase and say that the return of Ike Davis to the lineup couldn’t have gone any better than it did. Davis went 3-for-5 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBI’s. It was his first 3-hit game since last September. Good for him…

Kirk Nieuwenhuis had the game of his life… He was on base six times, going 4-for-4 with a pair of walks, three runs scored and five RBIs… Wow… Are you kidding me??? Nieuwenhuis became the first Met to reach base six times in one game since Mike Piazza in 2000.

Juan Lagares also had a nice game going 2-for-3 with a walk and three ribbies, while Eric Young had a pair of hits and scored three runs. The Mets totaled 14 hits and went 7-for-22 with runners in scoring position.

Oh yeah… Zack Wheeler pitched tonight… The kid had a pedestrian performance, but he’s a work in progress. He allowed three runs, one earned, on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Wheeler also had a single for his first career hit. One more thing…. When Wheeler is in trouble and has ducks on the pond, I love how he bears down and fights his way out of trouble. You can’t teach that… But yes, he’s a work in progress…

carlos gomez


What a leaping catch by former Met Carlos Gomez who robbed Marlon Byrd of a home run. Gomez is having an incredible season for the Brew Crew!

Six of the 17 runs scored tonight were unearned. The Brewers were charged with three errors and six boneheaded plays.

So anyway, that’s the long and short of it… The Mets get their road trip off to a nice start with a not so pretty, but very satisfying win in Milwaukee…

Shaun Marcum faces his former team tomorrow night at 7:15 PM. He opposes right-hander Yovani Gallardo (6-8, 4.78). MMO will be there live on Saturday and Sunday and we’ll bring you some extra bonus coverage. Thanks to Jay Horwitz for the assist!

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MMO Featured Post: On The Cusp Of Respectability, What Should Mets Do Now? Mon, 17 Jun 2013 11:28:56 +0000 sandy aldersonI was gratified to read Sandy Alderson’s recent comments regarding a strategic shift in the Mets’ front office. Specifically, his statement to the effect that he feels that it would be worthwhile for the team to begin to add established major league talent to supplement the roster indicates to me that major decisions have been made with respect to the limitations of the organization in its present state.

When trying to assess the strategy of the post-Minaya/Madoff Mets, I have always found it a bit of a puzzler to try to put a finger on when the “money” element of the so-called “Moneyball with money” approach that had been heralded as the defining element of the Alderson/DePodesta/Ricciardi regime would kick in.

Like many, I’ve regarded Sandy’s assertions that the majority of the team’s spending restraint has been his decision alone with a bit of skepticism; after all, part of a general manager’s job is to manage perceptions about the organization as well as its personnel.

Choosing to convey to the world at large that you have accepted the necessity of a period of mediocrity while the team rebuilds is OK, but attempting to maintain the Mets’ role as a big market team along with affording the Wilpon family a degree of mystery as regards their financial strength has resulted in a variety of mixed messages to the fan base. Aiming for the team to remain competitive enough to sustain interest while doing what is necessary to revitalize a barren farm system is an admirable goal, but clearly one that requires a lot of gambles to pay off. Not surprisingly, the results have been desultory, to say the least.

If the team is now ready to rebound from its largely moribund performances of the past few seasons, we should expect that any infusion of new talent to the roster will properly address the weaknesses that are evident to anyone watching. At the same time, we have to hope that the strengths that the team does possess are not unduly compromised by any personnel shuffling that the future may hold.  Still, I would expect that most of us are ready to have some eggs broken if the resulting omelet becomes a breakfast of champions. Let’s take a look at how the promised makeover could take shape:

OFFENSE: The team’s run production has been deplorable. Other than Murphy, Wright, and the surprisingly resurgent Byrd, there hasn’t been a dependable bat to be found, leaving the lineup bereft of the elements that can generate enough runs to allow even a pitcher of Matt Harvey’s meager support requirements to win consistently. The time has come to make a judgment on the very legitimacy of some of these player’s claims to a major league roster spot. This would appear to be the case now with Valdespin, who has been given an audition at second base to see if he can inject some life into the top of the order. So far the results have been disappointing, but the sample size is pretty small. With a player like that, it might never really happen or you could have a scenario similar to what has occurred with Carlos Gomez, now a world-beater years after being merely a piece in the Johan Santana trade. I’m not sure if anyone has the patience to see if ‘Spin’s tools have a chance of translating into a consistent offensive force before his lapses on the field and in the clubhouse become too great an issue to abide. Regardless, it might well be that he is being showcased with the intention of returning Murphy to the spot he has worked so hard to master.

What has really jumped out at me this year is the inability of the “supporting” bats, that is, the 5-6-7 hitters, to get a big hit with any regularity when the game is on the line.  Even as the team struggles to hold down the opposition thanks to the as-always porous bullpen (we’ll get to them in a bit), there have been instances in game after game where “half rallies” have been staged, with runners getting on only to be left high and dry. There has been no spate of 3-run homers, bases-clearing doubles , or even timely bloops despite what seems to be regular opportunities for the lower part of the lineup. With most of these at-bats seeming to fall to John Buck and Lucas Duda, one is acutely aware of the former’s severe dropoff after his blazing start and the latter’s propensity for restricting his power displays to times when the bases are empty.  It is clear that if the heart of the order is reasonably healthy with Wright and Murphy, the lungs and liver are showing signs of distress. Duda is still young enough and shows sufficient potential for me to want to see if he can step his game up as the season progresses, but to be frank, Buck is just killing them at this point.  As we likely won’t be seeing Travis D’Arnaud before rosters expand in September, I think Terry Collins would be better off running Anthony Recker out there three times a week if only to give Buck some much needed rest. Ultimately, what we need to see is another legitimate bat find its way into the order behind the 3-4 slots so that somebody starts knocking those runners in. The most obvious spot for this to happen is first base, so the clock is ticking as far as Ike and a possible non-tender later this year.

BULLPEN: Boy, is this getting to be a tired topic or what? Now that Dillon Gee has largely regained his form, the rotation has been one of the few strengths of the team. Still, even if you get a quality start on a regular basis, you can’t have the bullpen cough up a couple of runs as often as this one has and stand a chance of winning with the anemic offense just described. It might be overwork (certainly in the case of Scott Rice), but there are other flaws in the design of the Mets’ pen that can’t be traced strictly to frequency of use. One of these is the seeming inability to get a strikeout when it’s needed. Despite ranking 6th in the league in relief innings pitched, the Mets’ pen is ranked next-to-last in strikeouts. The amount of contact permitted to the opposition has led to a bullpen ERA that is the highest in the league. Mr. Leathersich can’t get here soon enough, but in the meantime, reinforcements must be found in the form of anyone who can miss some bats for a change. I’m hoping that the return of Scott Atchison and possibly Pedro Feliciano can address this need to a degree, but clearly an emphasis on power arms is needed.

Looking farther ahead, if we anticipate a lineup that will eventually be bolstered by the addition of legitimate bats at catcher, the outfield, and first base (not too tall an order, eh?), and yet another makeover of the bullpen, the legitimate resources of the starting staff could be given a chance to make their presence felt in the form of ACTUAL WINS.  This ain’t gonna happen overnight, but I’d love to see something start happening soon.

(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

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The Mets’ Hardscrabble History Of Drafting Outfielders Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:02:09 +0000 darryl strawberry

The Mets have drafted 72 outfielders in the first 5 rounds (top 100 picks) during the 48 year history of the MLB draft. Of those 72, 18 made it to the majors.

Of those 18, six of them enjoyed what can only be described as cups of coffee with a variety of teams. They were, John Gibbons (24th overall 1980), John Christensen (38th overall 1981), Terry Blocker (4th overall 1981), Stan Jefferson (20th overall 1983), Rod Gaspar (40th overall 1967), Ike Blessitt (56th overall 1967).

Seven had careers as back-ups or bench players:

Lastings Milledge: (12th overall 2003) A toolsy outfielder out of Bradenton, Florida, once ranked as the best 16 year old player in the nation by Baseball America. He was considered by many a top three pick who fell to 12th overall because of a history of sexual misconduct. Lastings was much maligned in the Met clubhouse for his enthusiasm on the field and his choice of music in the clubhouse and was eventually traded to the Nationals. His best season was 2008 with the Nationals when he hit 14 homers and had 61 RBI’s. He is currently playing with the Yahult Swallows in Japan.

Jason Tyner: (21st overall 1998) Speedy outfielder out of Texas A& M was traded to the Rays and had one good season with them when he stole 31 bases in 105 games and hit .280. With various stints with Minnesota and Cleveland in the ensuing years he mostly bounced back and fort from AAA to the majors as a back-up.

Jay Payton: (29th overall 1992) Spent several seasons after being traded by the Mets as a 4th outfielder bench player type. Had a couple of seasons as a regular and one really good season (2003) with Colorado when he hit 28 home runs with .302 average, but never really established himself anywhere.

Shawn Abner: (1st overall 1984) Labeled a “can’t miss” prospect, Shawn never played up to his potential and was eventually traded to San Diego in the Kevin McReynolds deal where he played occasionally. His best season was 1992 with the White Sox when he hit .279 in 208 at bats.

Kal Daniels: (58th overall 1982 but did not sign with the Mets in the January phase, signed with Cincinatti in the June phase). Had a couple of pretty good seasons with Cincinnati and one excellent season with the Dodgers when he hit 27 home runs and had 94 RBI with a .296 average.

Herm Winningham: (9th overall 1981) – became a useful bench player and pinch hitter over several seasons with Montreal / Cincinnati.

Randy Milligan: (3rd overall 1981) several seasons of 20 or more doubles, one 20 home run season (1990) with the Orioles. Walked a lot — had a career OBP of .391 – but otherwise unremarkable.

Only five Mets first round selections out of 72 ended up as All-Stars:

Lee Mazzilli: (14th overall 1973) His best seasons were 1979 and 1980, he got on base, stole bases (41 steals in 1989), and had decent pop with 15 and 16 home runs respectively in those two seasons. Mazzilli was an All-Star in 1979 and was the best player on the Mets for several of the dark late 70’s years otherwise I would have probably included him in the former primarily “back-up” list — he became more well known as a pinch hitter and bench player later in his career.

Darryl Strawberry: (1st overall 1980) Perennial All-Star MVP candidate. One of the greatest players of his generation. Central figure in outstanding Mets teams during the late 1980’s including the 1986 World Series winner. Greatest Right Fielder in club history.

Ken Singleton: (3rd overall 1967). Was traded in 1972 for Rusty Staub. Singleton went on to be a perennial middle of the order All-Star with Montreal and Baltimore. Ended up with 246 career homers and 1065 RBI’s over a 15 year Major League career. Singleton was part of the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series winner.

Jeromy Burnitz: (17th overall 1990) Solid Major League outfielder with good power and decent defense mostly with the Brewers. Had 5, 30 + homer seasons and 4 seasons of 100 or more RBI.

Todd Hundley: (39th overall 1987) drafted as an outfielder, Hundley spent most of his career as a catcher. had two All Star seasons and one MVP caliber season (1996), During the height of the steroid era his power jumped from 16 and 15 home runs in 1994 and 1995 to 40 and 30 home runs respectively in 1996 and 1997. Hundley was featured prominently in the Mitchel report as both a user of steroids and a person known for connecting other players with means and access to PED’s.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In the 48 years since the draft was first instituted, the Mets have drafted five outfielders in the first five rounds who ended up having careers as Major League regulars. Four when you consider one was really a catcher. 48 years, 4 players. That’s one player every 12 years.

David Schoenfield of ESPN recently pointed out that the last time the Mets drafted an all star was 2002 (Scott Kazmir). Prior to that you have David Wright in 2001 and then you have to go back to Bobby Jones, who was drafted in 1991.  People talk a lot about spending on free agents, but when you look at teams who’ve spent recently, the Yankees, the Angels, and the Dodgers, you realize spending big on free agents doesn’t guarantee anything in today’s game. The Mets, as a team, are not struggling solely because they haven’t spent on free agency, they’re struggling because they haven’t drafted well. Teams are becoming better at locking up young exceptional players to long term deals and free agency no longer provides the panacea of talent it once did.

If the Mets are to build a winner they have to do it through the draft, and historically Met drafts have been littered with busts and question marks, particularly in the outfield. The Mets could help themselves tremendously if they pick the right players in today’s draft. I like Hunter Renfroe for his power and defense and as a college player he could progress quickly. Austin Wilson might be a good one, Aaron Judge is another with a huge presence (6’7″) and massive power potential. I also like Billy McKinney for his outstanding bat speed. We should have a shot at at least one of these guys.

Whomever the Mets select today and tomorrow, if they are to field a competitive team in the next few years they’re going to need some decent young outfielders, and relying on free agency may not provide the quality and consistency a championship team requires. A case in point, next year’s free agent outfield pool is headlined by the likes of Hunter Pence and Shin-Soo Choo … decent players to be sure, but not exactly game-changers.

You could go the trade rout, but trades are always a risk as you have to give to get, and given the current Mets farm system, the Mets would almost certainly be giving up pitching talent — something I’d be hesitant to do when you consider pitching is what wins in the playoffs and good pitching is exceedingly hard to come by. Nope, if the Mets want to develop a championship caliber outfield I think the best bet is to focus on drafting some solid outfielders … a scary premise historically for the Mets.

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Choo Could Be Impact Outfielder For Mets In 2014, But Would Cost A Pick Tue, 21 May 2013 17:49:54 +0000 Shin-Soo Choo

Updated Post 1:44 PM

MLB Trade Rumors just posted something that would add to the debate on Choo as a potential acquisition for the Mets in 2014. I also updated the original post to indicate that Choo’s best position is right-field.

Of course, as with most free agents, Choo’s next contract will cover post-prime years, perhaps age 31-35.  With Boras doing the negotiating, we can’t rule out a sixth year or a salary in the $18-20MM range, plus the loss of a draft pick.

Are you guys ready for another Winter of debating the loss of a pick, even if in the Mets case it’s a second round pick based on where this season is heading?

Original Post 12:44

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, had an article this morning suggesting the Mets should make a strong attempt at signing Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo if they are serious about contending in 2014. Choo is a free agent at the end of this season.

Choo, 30, was acquired by the Reds in the offseason for highly regarded shortstop prospect Didi Gregorious and outfielder Drew Stubbs. According to Kepner, Cincinnati Choo was charged targeted Choo to fix their problems in the leadoff spot, which produced a .254 on-base percentage last season. So far, Choo has delivered in a big way, ranking second in the National League with a .455 on-base percentage.

The Scott Boras client has always been able to hit for average and get on base as his career .386 OBP would attest. Going into this season, he has averaged 38 doubles and 90 runs per season in his career. He also can give the Mets power and speed while providing solid range and defense in center field, though right field is his best position. The left-handed batter has averaged 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a typical season for him and is on a pace to smash both of those marks in his walk year with the Reds.

“He’s the big reason why we are where we are right now,” said Brandon Phillips of the Reds, who hold the second-best record in the National League. “Playing against him when he was with the Indians, I always told everybody he’s one of the best all-around players in baseball — underrated. Right now he’s just being himself. It’s a blessing to have him over here.”

Kepner also adds that the South Korean native, might be a sensation in New York, whose metropolitan area has the second-largest Korean population in the United States, behind Los Angeles.

Obviously, I love Choo and had wanted the Mets to go after him last offseason, and even though he’ll be a year older I would still have no problem bringing him on board for the 2014 season and beyond. I’m assuming it would require at least a four-year commitment and the bidding from other teams will be aggressive. That’s the part that frightens me – or should I say frightens Sandy Alderson. You see, I’ll maintain what I’ve been saying all along about him and that is that he doesn’t have the stomach for these types of negotiations. To quote myself from last October, “Alderson doesn’t have the ability to go after a desirable and marketable free-agent, it sin’t in his DNA.”

There will be other outfield options out there next offseason, assuming they are not re-signed. Jacoby Ellsbury and  Carlos Beltran are among them.

The problem is will Alderson be willing to spend and come out strong?

Or will it be another Winter of waiting for the market to settle to his liking, which of course never happens leaving him to scamper and pick the bones of whatever carcass he can find on the scrap heap?

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How It All Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge Sun, 07 Apr 2013 12:53:41 +0000 lastings milledge 2I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, Rook … signed, your teammates,” was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Lastings Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

milledge 3He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

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A Final Review Of The Johan Santana Trade Fri, 29 Mar 2013 13:30:41 +0000 The moment will live on in Mets history

This moment will live on in Mets history forever.

January 30, 2008 was supposed to be a great day for Mets’ fans everywhere. The Mets had just acquired Johan Santana, the clear-cut best pitcher in the game, from the Minnesota Twins for pitching prospects: Philip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey, as well as center fielder Carlos Gomez, pending an extension agreement. Even David Wright was ecstatic when he said, “If it’s true, obviously, you’re getting arguably the best pitcher in the game.”

The Mets had two days to seal-the-deal with an extension agreement, and both sides had no problem making the fans sweat it out. As the two-day window was closing both clubs asked for, and received, an MLB approved 2-hour extension beyond the Friday 5 p.m. deadline. The result was an agreement on a 6-year $137.5 Million contract extension that would make Santana a Met through 2014, should they choose to pick up his club option. The deal made Santana the highest paid pitcher in baseball history and made the Mets the new favorites to win the NL East, after a historic and forgettable collapse in 2007.

I still remember driving home from school in Plattsburgh, New York. I had a four-hour drive, and as I was driving through the Catskill Mountains, I kept losing radio reception and cell phone service. As I reached the Lake George area, I regained my radio reception and quickly tuned to ESPN. Moments later, I literally screamed aloud to myself with excitement as I fumbled for my phone to call my brother and my father to tell them that the Mets had just completed the deal for Santana.

The Mets traded four players who weren’t considered top prospects at the time.  Carlos Gomez and Philip Humber have had some success at the Major League level, but neither player has developed into a star. The Yankees and Red Sox were also in on Santana at the time, but were reluctant to meet the Twins demands. As a result, Minnesota was left with nothing better on the table then to accept the Mets offer.

The record and ERA looked great on the surface, but there was more to Santana’s story than just those numbers. In the four seasons with the Twins prior to the trade, Johan had pitched at least 219 innings, while striking out a minimum 235 hitters in his dominance of the AL Central. The Venezuelan native was durable averaging 33.5 starts, while winning 70 games on his way to two Cy Young Awards. The lefty had a fastball that sat in the 91-95 Mph range, a hard slider, and a devastating change-up that just fell off the table.

The Mets had gotten a steal, or so they thought.

Things began to change with Santana once he joined the Mets. The lefty made over 30 starts and pitched over 200 innings just once, which is the same number of times he’s struck out over 150 batters. Starting as early as the 2009 season, his velocity began to dip. The mighty Santana saw the Yankees smack him around for nine earned runs in 2009, and the Phillies put up a 10 spot off him in 2010. Recently, he still showed flashes of the old Johan, but found himself struggling to muster up a heater that hit 90 on the radar gun. The drop in velocity made it easy to distinguish between his fastball and patented change. His win total fell and the injuries began to pile up. The man, who once prided himself on making only one trip to disabled list in his time with the Twins, was hurt each season with the Mets, including missing all of the 2011 season, and now likely all of 2013.

Putting the injuries aside, Santana gave Mets fans a reason to hope again when he was healthy and on the mound, plus he gave the franchise some great moments to remember forever. He pitched a complete game three-hit shutout on one leg against the Marlins, in the second to last game of the 2008 season on three days rest. He twirled the Mets first no-hitter in franchise history. The 34-year-old will be remembered as a gamer and a leader. Johan Santana was a true “ace”, but injuries derailed what could have been a Hall of Fame career.

Ultimately, the deal was the right one for the Mets at the time. However, looking at it now, you wonder how different things could have been had the trade never been made. This is a disappointing end to his Mets career, one that once had so much promise.

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Johan Santana’s Rite of Spring Sun, 03 Mar 2013 18:41:23 +0000 SPSANTANA 5 MUNSONIn January of 2008, a few months after one of the more epic collapses in baseball history cruelly deprived Met fans of a chance at redemption for the call third strike that kept us from the 2006 Fall Classic, The Mets acquired arguably the best pitcher in the game for 4 unproven prospects. In Minnesota, a land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000 heartaches (if you’re a Twins fan) this was the latest gut wrenching expulsion of a cherished mainstay in a stretch that saw the Twins lose Luis Castillo, Torii Hunter, and 2 time Cy Young winner Johan Santana.

The Santana trade was Billy Smith’s first foray into the “blockbuster” business as the fledgling GM in training under the watchful eye of Terry Ryan, the longtime Twins General Manager. It was rumored that Ryan wasn’t thrilled with the specifics of the trade with the Mets and that Smith approached him during the final days leading up to the trade in an effort to obtain something akin to a blessing. Ryan didn’t give it, refusing to put what would have amounted to a seal of approval on the trade. His rationale was that he didn’t want to undermine Smith’s “final word” authority, Ryan wanted it to be understood that it was Smith’s team now.

In the months leading up to the trade another story had been quietly brewing in this quiet corner of the baseball universe. Santana was not happy. He’d voiced his disapproval of General Manager Terry Ryan’s tendency to periodically dismantle and rearm as the circuitous exercise in perpetual mediocrity the fans believed it to be. In August of 2007, Santana unleashed his sentiments to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I’m not surprised. That’s exactly how they are. That’s why we’re never going to go beyond where we’ve gone.”

“It’s not just about hope,” Santana said. “In a realistic world, you have to really make it happen and go for it. You always talk about future, future. … But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won’t be part of it.”

“Why waste time when you’re talking about something that’s always going to be like that? It’s never going to be beyond this point. It doesn’t make any sense for me to be here, you know?”

johan santana twinsSantana was upset because the Twins had traded Luis Castillo to the big market big spending N.Y. Mets for Dustin Martin and Drew Butera, a defensive catching prospect with no real value and a low level outfield prospect with a decent eye and little else. It was a salary dump of some two million dollars. It was said Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager wasn’t Happy with Castillo dating back to October of 2006 during the division series when, inexplicably, Luis failed to put down a bunt during a critical point in 8th inning of Game One.

Half way through the following season he was shipped off to N.Y. even though he was on pace to amass 200 hits and the team was only 6 games back. It was a strange trade for several reasons, beyond the fact that the Twins weren’t really out of it, the return for Castillo, who was having a good year, was minimal. The trade also happened so quickly there was speculation that Gardy wanted him out fast.

There was talk that the Twins clubhouse, which had in earlier years been a model of cohesion, was fractured. There was again tension between some of the younger players and the veterans dating back to an ugly confrontation at the conclusion of the 2005 season when Torii Hunter took a swing at young slugger Justin Morneau.

Following the Castillo trade when it was clear the Veterans would be sold off for parts, they weren’t happy about it and they let it be known. Castillo went on to the Mets where strangely the clubhouse began to fracture as well. There was talk that certain players were skirting the press and one incident where an unidentified player pretended his English was poorer than it actually was to avoid the Media. Meanwhile, Reyes was struggling with his hamstrings, and the team in general seemed to play poorly whenever Castillo was in the lineup, in fact it had become a strange and glaring reality how badly they played when Luis manned second.

It seemed like Reyes wasn’t himself. I don’t know whether Castillo saw Reyes as just another “Juan Pierre” speedster batting ahead of him or as the phenomenal talent he actually was, but I found it odd that 2009 was a lost year for Reyes while Castillo enjoyed his best year as a Met. Ironically it was said Castillo and Reyes clicked more off the field (as Reyes began to keep later hours) than they did on the field. I’d always been astounded by the arrogance of Castillo’s talk when he first came to the Mets about taking Reyes “under his wing,” as Reyes was already a far greater player by then than Castillo ever was, but I took it in stride and gave Luis the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he just didn’t understand how good Reyes was.

Eventually Castillo’s 4 year 25 million dollar deal would become one of the worst contracts handed out to a Free Agent by the Mets, as Luis found it harder and harder to stay on the field, or get on base, or even slap the ball onto the outfield grass, while Luis’ delusions of being on equal footing with Jose (or even his mentor) became absurd and comical in hindsight.

Santana, meanwhile, in 2007, had what you might call an off-year for a guy who’d won two Cy Young awards in the three preceding years and who arguably should have won a third. His era rose to 3.33 after averaging 2.75 over that 3 year span. I mention this because for some, Santana’s discontent with management was carried onto the field, not in an overt in your face manner, but in a “why should I give it my absolute best?” Kind of way. In his first season with the Mets Santana’s ERA dropped back down to 2.53, adding some credibility to this perception.

I admired Santana when he was on the Twins and was thrilled beyond belief when the Mets landed him, but while I liked Santana, the player, I always had reservations about Santana, the person. I remember the fuss he raised when he was working out of the bullpen in 2001 and parts of 2002, the way he bashed the Twins front office in 2007, the weird “be a man” comments, and of course the “consensual” incident on the golf course in 2010, but ultimately it was Johan’s disappointing performance on the field, the injuries, and the unfulfilled promise that deflated all my positive feelings. Sure, he’ll forever get a pass for delivering our first no-hitter, but as someone who has seen more than most fans’ share of Santana, in person, back in the hideous Metrodome, as well as on SNY, it was hard to get past the fact that Johan on the Mets was nothing like the Santana I remember on the Twins.

The Twins offered him 6 years and 100 million and eventually he went with Minaya’s offer of 7 years at 137 million. People decried the trade as a gift to the Mets, as absurdly one sided, but Deolis Guerra the youngest prospect with the highest ceiling in the Santana trade is still in the Twins organization and has quietly turned a corner while Carlos Gomez had a breakout season last year, albeit on another team. Even more valuable for the Twins, however, is the money they aren’t paying Santana in 2013, not to mention the money they didn’t pay him in 2012 and 2011. Smith is no longer GM of the Twins, Ryan took his old spot atop the organization back from his apprentice who never quite got past the failure of Santana’s return.

Sandy Alderson’s peculiar preemptive torpedoing of our de facto Ace and opening day starter yesterday was odd. Was he anticipating discontent from his oft-injured ace? Is there any truth to the whispers about Santana staying to himself and failing to connect with non-Latin players? You don’t really get the sense that Johan has taken Harvey or Wheeler “under his wing.” Has Santana become the new Castillo? The proud veteran struggling to come to grips with his own decline?

“I think there was an expectation that when he came in, he’d be ready to pitch,” Alderson said. “But I think that was his expectations too, regardless of the winter that he had. I don’t think there was disagreement; I don’t think there was a disappointment on our part or an acceptance on his part that that’s the way it would be. But it was clear over the first few days he wasn’t ready. So we’re going to get him ready.”

Santana’s response was somewhere between disdain and quiet indignation, “I’ve been doing this for years,” Santana said. “I know what it takes. And that’s what I’m doing right now — getting ready for the season, not for spring training. I’m very focused. I know exactly what I have to do, so that’s what I’m doing.” The following morning he decided to finally step out onto a mound, commenting, ”What is spring training for? Training.”

What I find more odd than Santana coming in with a weak shoulder, is Alderson’s cold hard criticism leading me to speculate that Santana is history. If he can get a handful of decent starts under his belt he’s gone, you can bank on it.

I was hurt when we traded Dickey, crushed when we lost Reyes (a loss I may never recover from as a fan), strangely though, and I’m not entirely certain why, I will not mourn the loss of Santana. He’s no Tom Seaver, in fact, he’s not even Pedro. Players age, performance declines, the years pass and we all get older. Some of us handle it better than others, and my thinking has always been that playing in the major leagues and getting paid 25 million a year would certainly be enough motivation for me. I understand wanting to win, but after a while the noble pursuit of glory becomes the awkward product of an unsustainable ego in an aging body. Still, Baseball returns every spring filling us with hope and promise, a strange and beautiful game.

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What If Pagan Weren’t a Met? Wed, 30 Jun 2010 17:33:45 +0000

With all the uproar associated with those who even DARE mention Angel Pagan‘s name in a potential Cliff Lee trade, I thought it would be appropriate to explore a certain scenario.  What if, just what if, Angel Pagan was putting up his 2010 numbers…… in another uniform.  In other words, what if Pagan were on the Braves, hitting .302 with 4 HR, 35 RBI, 41 R, 14 SB and exceeding everyone’s expectations in nearly every way.  As a Met fan, would a swap for Cliff Lee make you be happy to just see him off the Braves or would you think Atlanta got a steal of a deal and curse the fact that your team now had to deal with Lee within the division and down the playoff stretch?  Would you think a 29-year old outfielder (as of this coming Friday) who, in 9+ years of professional baseball has never hit more than 10 HR’s at any level and been on the DL 5 times from 2006-2009 (that is not a misprint), was an absolute coup for Seattle or would you think the Braves pulled a heist of Enron like proportions in selling high and securing one of the games 5 best pitchers to head up their rotation.  A guy who has proven throughout his career that he can flat out win against NL East competition (see career stats below) and when playoff tested came up with a performance for the record books (4-0 in 5 starts, 2 of which were against the Yankees in the World Series, with a 1.56 ERA) during Philadelphia’s 2009 World Series run.  Not to mention this is a guy who would undoubtedly have something to prove if he were to ever square off the Phillies after their offseason snub of the 2008 AL Cy Young award winner.

I’m not surprised that fans adore Pagan, Jay wrote a recent article outlining why he deserves all the support he has gotten (click HERE to read), but public opinion is seemingly reaching fanatic proportions.  The talks of dumping Beltran to open up room for Pagan continue to grow as fans label Carlos ‘injury prone’ (a label that I disagree with when you consider he routinely plays hurt in order to avoid trips to the DL).  I’m not sure you can find more than a handful of fans that would be willing to see Pagan traded for Lee.  I can agree that I don’t think Angel should be ousted from the starting line-up upon Beltran’s return.  With Beltran’s health still FAR from being proven, I’m not even sure I would be crazy about a Pagan trade for Lee without an extension involved, but I am in no way opposed to the subject being broached.  How is that topic taboo?

Sometimes, as a die hard Met fan, I have to catch myself when it comes to situations like this.  I have to try and distance myself from the every day play-by-play and emotional investment I have in the team.  I know team chemistry is important and am all for seeing Jose Reyes and Pagan laugh it up, but in the end if a team’s clubhouse nucleus is strong enough players (be they brought up from Triple-A, traded for, or claimed off waivers) will gravitate towards that.  With that being said, I’m in no way concerned with this team losing it’s sense of unity if Pagan were traded.  That’s not to say I want to see the trade happen, but if it did Reyes, Wright, Pelfrey, and even newcomers Barajas, Blanco, and Francoeur have the right attitude and mindset to keep things straight.

While Pagan is very good, he is not yet great, nor is he a 5-tool player.  Will he develop power?  Will he become great?  I would hope so because I am a huge Pagan fan, but his numbers give no indication that we should expect any type of power surge and he is more similar to Brett Gardner and David DeJesus than Carlos Beltran.  The chart below shows the the projected 2010 stats for each player should they continue at their current pace, except for Beltran whose stats are based on projections had he played a full season in 2009:.

I can only imagine the uproar that would ensue if the Yankees ‘robbed’ the Mariners for Lee by trading Brett Gardner and a pitching prospect.  I mean Brett Gardner, he’s solid, but for Cliff Lee…..c’mon.   So the question remains, what if we saw someone who hasn’t won our hearts but whose value may be at it’s pinnacle get traded for Cliff Lee.  What if Angel Pagan were simply not a Met?  Thankfully it’s not a question we have to answer just yet, but it’s worth considering when looking at what is going to give this team the best chance to win this year and down the road.

The Mets front office has done a tremendous job evaluating their high profiled talent over recent years.  Lastings Milledge is gone and nobody can criticize the Mets for the move.  Then there’s the Johan trade:  Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra for Santana.  Regardless of your opinion of Johan there’s no questioning that the Mets were absolutely spot on in their evaluation of the players they traded (only Guerra remains with the Twins organization at Double-A).  So why not have some faith in a front office that has done right by us in recent years?  A front office that has shown they will go out and pay for the best free agents to hit the market. If I asked you on April 5th, would you trade Angel Pagan in a deal for Cliff Lee, I strongly believe I would have received an emphatic YES!!! I just feel as though the Mets will have a better chance finding someone to take Pagan’s place than they are to find someone like Lee, who has proven he can be a dominant force at the top of a rotation in the regular season and playoffs.   Come to think of it, isn’t David DeJesus available????

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