Mets Merized Online » Collin McHugh Mon, 05 Dec 2016 01:32:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Game Thread: Mets vs Astros, 1:05 PM Sat, 05 Mar 2016 15:43:06 +0000 robert gsellman

New York Mets at Houston Astros

Osceola County Stadium – 1:05 PM

RHP Robert Gsellman vs LHP Collin McHugh

Today’s game marks the first of two with the Astros this Spring and it is the Mets only game in Kissimmee in 2016.

Robert Gsellman makes his first official start of the Spring. He was named the Sterling Organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2015 after going a combined 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 24 total games between St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League and Binghamton (AA) of the Eastern League.

T.J. Rivera has hit safely in each of the first two Spring Training games (.400, 2-5) with one RBI. Batted .325 with 63 runs, 27 doubles, and 48 RBI in a combined 110 games between Binghamton (AA) of the Eastern League and Las Vegas (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League. Rivera has a career .318 average in five minor league seasons.

Hansel Robles went 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in 57 games as a rookie last season. He made three appearances in the postseason and did not allow a run in 3.0 innings.

Mets pitchers today: RHP Robert Gsellman, RHP Seth Lugo, LHP Josh Smoker, RHP Hansel Robles, RHP Antonio Bastardo

Here are the starting lineups:

Mets Lineup

  1. Ty Kelly, CF
  2. Ruben Tejada, SS
  3. Michael Conforto, LF
  4. Travis d’Arnaud, DH
  5. Dominic Smith, 1B
  6. Wilmer Flores, 3B
  7. Kevin Plawecki, C
  8. Eric Campbell, RF
  9. Dilson Herrera, 2B

Astros Lineup

  1. George Springer, RF
  2. Colin Moran, 3B
  3. Colby Rasmus, L
  4. Carlos Gomez, CF
  5. A.J. Reed, 1B
  6. Jason Castro, DH
  7. Alex Bregman, SS
  8. Max Stassi, C
  9. Nolan Fontana, 2B

Enjoy the game and Let’s Go Mets!

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Game Recap: Mets 4, Marlins 4 In Spring Home Opener Fri, 04 Mar 2016 21:45:23 +0000 Dilson 0 Herrera

Finally, we got to watch the Mets play while hearing the voices of Gary, Keith, and Ronnie like baseball is meant to be. The sellout crowd of 7,003 at Tradition Field got to see one of my least favorite things in baseball, a tie. The Mets tied the game in dramatic fashion when Dilson Herrera hit an inside the park homerun to leadoff the bottom of the 9th inning.

Highlights from the pitching staff:

  • Logan Verrett pitched two innings with the only damage he allowed coming from a two-run homerun from Destin Hood. The long blast followed an error by Lucas Duda at first meaning only one of the runs were earned. He gave up two hits and did not strike out or walk anybody.
  • Akeel Morris worked around a double by Marcell Ozuna to pitch a scoreless 3rd inning, stadium gun had him at 93-94 MPH with the fastball.
  • Good spring debut for Addison Reed who walked one in a scoreless inning of work and threw a 137 MPH fastball that broke (apparently already broken) the Tradition Field radar gun.
  • The must anticipated return of lefty Jerry Blevins came in the fifth inning and started out promising as he retired the first two batters he faced (both righties). He then gave up back-to-back singles before Christian Yelich hit a slow roller to Asdrubal Cabrera that he could not handle allowing an unearned run to score. Blevins got the next batter out to finish his inning of work without a walk or strikeout.
  • Jim Henderson got his first audition for one of the Mets last bullpen spots and the early returns are solid as he pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Hit a batter and was registering 92-93 with his fastball according to SNY gun.
  • Lefty Duane Below struck out former Met Zach Lutz with runners on second and third to finish his scoreless inning of work. Allowed two hits and struck out two.
  • Minor leaguer Chasen Bradford pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning with one strikeout.
  • The Marlins took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 9th when Buddy Carlyle gave up a run scoring single to Kenny Wilson. Lutz followed with another single but left fielder Marc Krauss made a good throw home to nail the runner and end the inning. Carlyle gave up three hits and a run.

Herrera was the big story with the bat as the only Met with two hits (2 for 2) and scored the team’s final two runs. How the rest of the offense did today as the starting lineup featured six starters:

  • Juan Lagares got a hustle double in his first at bat, he went 1 for 2 out of the leadoff spot.
  • Cabrera made his Mets debut going 0 for 2 with a lineout and the costly error in the field at shortstop.
  • Yoenis Cespedes walked up to the plate to a roaring ovation (2nd loudest of day) in the first inning as the designated hitter, he went 0 for 4 with a strikeout on the day.
  • Mets first baseman went 0 for 4 on the day with Lucas Duda and Dominic Smith both grounding out twice. Smith continued to look smooth defensively.
  • Neil Walker singled in the fifth inning to start a two-run rally, he went 1 for 2.
  • With Curtis Granderson not ready yet, Alejandro De Aza got the start in right field and went 1 for 2 with an infield single.
  • T.J. Rivera started at third base going 1 for 4 with an RBI single, he was the only Met to play all nine innings defensively.
  • Ty Kelly started in left field, played three innings in center, and went 1 for 3 with run knocked in.
  • The Mets current extra base hit team leader (2) Travis Taijeron went 1 for 2 with a triple that the right fielder had some trouble tracking down. He scored in the 7th inning on a strikeout when the catcher couldn’t handle the wild pitch.
  • Travis d’Arnaud played for the first time this spring, he caught the first five innings and went 0 for 1 with a walk and run scored.
  • Matt Reynolds came up to bat in the 5th inning with the bases loaded and one out but hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Played the final five innings at shortstop.

Wilmer Flores walked in his only plate appearance of the game, the big story was the incredible ovation he was given by the Tradition Field fans when he came up to the plate.

The Mets head to Kissimmee to play the Astros tomorrow at 1:05 with prospect Robert Gsellman getting the start against the former Met Collin McHugh.  Also scheduled to pitch are Antonio Bastardo, Josh Smoker, Seth Lugo, and Hansel Robles.

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MMO Fan Shot: Collin McHugh Is Easy To Root For Fri, 15 May 2015 00:44:13 +0000 collin-mchugh

An MMO Fan Shot by Jack Ganchrow

As the old saying goes the first one is always the hardest. Collin McHugh learned that the hard way going 607 days before getting his first major league win. Between coming out of the bullpen and starting, McHugh lost his first eight decisions across his first two seasons. It took him until his third big league team to get that coveted first win.

In his major league debut for the Mets he pitched a gem going seven scoreless innings only giving up two hits and striking out nine against the Rockies (the Mets lost that game 1-0). After that it was pretty much all down hill in his rookie campaign. In eight 2012 Collin McHugh appearances (4 starts, 4 relief) the Mets posted an 0-8 record.

McHugh had a humble beginning to his career but it started before he even played professional baseball. He was born in the wealthiest city in the Midwest, 28 miles west of Chicago, Naperville, Illinois. He went to Providence Christian Academy (Lilburn, GA) for high school, total number of Major leaguers from there not named McHugh, none. Not recruited by D1 schools McHugh attended D-III Berry College, (Mount Berry, GA) number of major leaguers to attend not named McHugh, none.

McHugh heard 553 names called before the Mets made him their 18th round selection in the 2008 MLB draft. Being told he wasn’t good enough was the theme of McHugh’s pre-professional career.

Collin’s first four years in the minors got him through most of the Mets lower system, stopping through Kingsport, Brooklyn, Savannah, St. Lucie, and finishing his 2011 season in Double-A Binghamton.

The following season in 2012, McHugh was promoted to Triple-A in June and eventually made his major league debut on August 23, 2012, pitching his gem against the Rockies.

In 2013 he was up and down from Las Vegas until he was ultimately traded for Eric Young Jr. on June 18, and ended his Mets career with 11 appearances (5 starts, 6 in relief). He went 0-5 with an 8.25 ERA and the Mets were also 0-11 in games that he pitched in.

His career with the Rockies was a disaster. He was assigned to Double-A Tulsa to start and had two solid starts, before he moved up to Colorado Springs (AAA Rockies) where he made three more starts until he made his Rockies debut on July 27, 2013. It didn’t go as well as his Mets debut did.

He was demoted after taking the loss (now 0-6 lifetime record with his teams 0-12 in his appearances). After spending the entire month of August in AAA, McHugh was called back up in September even though he didn’t have such a productive August. He made three starts, going 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA (the Rockies did win one start so he finally snapped his team losing every game he pitched in streak).

After pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League in October, McHugh was DFAed by the Rockies on December 16, 2013.

collin mchugh

On December 17, 2013 Collin McHugh was a 26-year old kid without a team and had a career record of 0-8 to go with an ERA of 8.94. His major league career was in jeopardy.

However the very next day, the Houston Astros claimed McHugh off waivers as rotation insurance. He didn’t make the Opening Day roster, but after three Triple-A starts, the Astros called him up to replace Scott Feldman who was placed on the disabled list.

The date was April 22, 2014, the opponent, the Seattle Mariners, and Collin McHugh finally got his first career win.

It wasn’t an ordinary win though, McHugh’s Astros debut was historic. In that start Collin he tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings striking out 12 Mariners. Only J.R Richard in 1971 struck out more in an Astros debut (15).

After starting the season 4-3 McHugh lost his next six decisions. At 4-9 with a 3.45 ERA (which is still very good) many wondered if McHugh was back down to earth for good. That is when he really turned it on, his last ten starts he went 7-0 while lowering his ERA to 2.73. It was an incredible way to end a remarkable turnaround season.

One thing Collin McHugh was always successful at was writing his blog. It is called A Day Older, A Day Wiser, and he shares his ups and downs about baseball and life, and it’s another reason that makes him such a likable guy.

So here we are in 2015, and so far, Collin McHugh is 4-0 and in his six starts the Astros have a 6-0 record, a far cry from how his career started. He has won his last 11 decisions. 2015 was also the first Opening Day roster he ever made and hopefully there will be many more in the future.

When I was in Houston last summer at an Astros game, I was there for BP and I saw Collin walking toward the dugout. I shouted for him to come over and he did just that, signing the baseball card I had of him as a Met, as well as taking a picture with me. As a Mets fan I always rooted for Collin, and even though he didn’t perform for us, he gave it his all and it’s great to see him tasting success now.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Jack Ganchrow. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 12, Marlins 3 Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:59:36 +0000 michael cuddyer

The New York Mets went to Jupiter and pummeled the Miami Marlins by a score of 12-3.


Jacob deGrom started and aside from a two-run homer in the first inning by Michael Morse, he was pretty solid. The Mets righty tossed 4.0 innings allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five Marlins.

The Mets got scoreless outings in relief from Carlos Torres, Cody Satterwhite, Jack Leathersich, Chase Huchingson, and Eric Goeddel. Buddy Carlyle was tagged for a solo homer, the second of the day for Morse who went 3-for-3 for the Fish.


The Mets scored 12 runs in a 14-hit attack that featured three-hit games by Curtis Granderson and Anthony Recker who had three doubles, two RBI and a run scored.

Daniel Muno had a big game going 2-for-4 with a triple, home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Michael Cuddyer remained hot, homering for the fifth time this Spring among his two hits and scoring a pair.

Eric Campbell tripled and scored three runs, and Ruben Tejada doubled and drove in two.

The Mets have a .297 team batting average in Grapefruit League play.


Bartolo Colon was officially named the Opening Day starter after the game with Jacob deGrom pitching the second game and Matt Harvey going in the series finale.

Said Colon, “It’s always an honor to start on Opening Day. Anyone on the staff could have been named the Opening Day starter.”

“I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ve got a chance to have a great season and I want to do my part.”

At 41 years, 317 days young, Colon will become the oldest Opening Day starter in Mets history, passing Tom Glavine in 2007.

On Deck

The Mets head back to Tradition Field where they will host the Houston Astros on Tuesday at 1:10 PM. Dillon Gee gets the start for the Mets and will face former Met Collin McHugh.


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Collin McHugh Shutdown, Won’t Face Mets This Weekend Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:05:40 +0000 collin mchugh

The Houston Astros announced that righthander Collin McHugh will be shutdown for the rest of the season due to reaching his innings cap.

He was initially slated to start against the Mets this weekend at Citi Field, but that won’t happen now.

McHugh wraps up a solid rookie season for the Astros, going 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 25 starts. Over 154.2 innings pitched the former Met struck out 157 batters while walking 41.

Too bad… Would have been nice to see him match up with Montero.

September 4 – Collin McHugh: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Right-hander Collin McHugh didn’t exactly get his major league career off to a good start when he lost his first eight decisions in two brief stints with the Mets in 2012 and 2013. Despite posting a 2.91 minor league ERA in 2012, and a 2.87 ERA for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013, the Mets had seen enough after just five major league starts and decided to trade him to Colorado that June for utility outfielder Eric Young Jr., who had been placed on waivers by the last place Rockies.

After a brief 3-month stint in Colorado, McHugh was placed on waivers and claimed by the Houston Astros where the Illinois native began to flourish.

With nine major league starts under his belt, the 26-year old McHugh entered the 2014 season with a clean slate and a fresh new outlook.

After 22 starts this season, McHugh has a 2.89 ERA and is now among the top pitchers in the American League. With an ERA that ranks seventh and a 1.09 WHIP that ranks eighth, McHugh is also boasting a strikeout rate of 9.4. His 3.13 FIP suggests that this season is completely legit.

As Mark Simon of ESPN pointed out this morning, McHugh is closing the year out very strong, going 4-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in his last seven starts.

Recently ousted manager Bo Porter cited that McHugh’s key to success this season is how efficient he’s become and his aggressiveness on the mound.

“The biggest thing he did was attacking the strike zone. He doesn’t waste a lot of pitches. He went right after those guys and forced them to put the ball in play.”

If not for some pesky, no-name, Cuban guy, whose power wouldn’t translate to the majors, and who was considered a defensive disaster as a first baseman, you could argue that McHugh would be a contender for the American League Rookie of the Year this season.

Unfortunately for McHugh, he’ll have to settle for second or third place behind Jose Abreu for top rookie honors, but this kid has nothing to be ashamed about.

It’s been an incredible breakthrough season for the former Mets pitching prospect, and it certainly looks like the Astros have hit the jackpot with him.

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After Catching Segura With Two Swipes Last Night, Young Eyes Stolen Base Crown Fri, 27 Sep 2013 13:38:02 +0000 eric young jr

Young gets in ahead of tag for his second steal of the game

After two more swipes on Thursday night against the Brewers, Eric Young Jr. has caught Milwaukee’s Jean Segura for the National League lead with 44 stolen bases.

With Segura currently sidelined with a hamstring strain, it looks like Young is just one stolen base away from securing the stolen base crown in the National League.

Last night, Young affirmed that he’s got his eyes set on the prize.

“I didn’t want to worry about it too much, put too much emphasis on it until we actually got to this last series,” Young said. “I knew I was going to be facing Segura head to head. I didn’t become an everyday player until June. He had a two-and-a-half-month lead on me.”

“I saw Segura out there running today. So he might try to get out there these next three days. It’s going to be fun. Regardless of the results, it’s been fun the whole way, this whole season.”

Young has paid off handsomely for the Mets since acquiring him in a waiver swap with the Colorado Rockies for Collin McHugh.

Young’s previous career high in stolen bases came in 2011 when he swiped 27 bags, and the last time the Mets had a stolen base leader was in 2007 when Jose Reyes captured his third straight stolen base crown with 78 thefts.

Speed aside, Young has been somewhat disappointing at the top of the order with a .313 on-base and also closing in on 100 strikeouts with 98 already.

I still view him as a fourth outfielder at best and the only reason he’s netted so much playing time was for a lack of better options. He doesn’t have the on-base abilities to stay at the top of the order, nor does he have the power to bat in the middle of the order.

With Juan Lagares expected to grab the everyday centerfield job in 2014, the Mets will be looking to add a power bat in left or right field, likely via a trade considering the free agent options.

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The “Oh, Sandy” Edition Sun, 01 Sep 2013 15:11:32 +0000 sandy alderson

Sometimes I wonder why I even read some Mets related posts on Facebook or Twitter. If you were to gauge the Mets fan base on the way General Manager, Sandy Alderson has run the team, well you would think that this team was based out of Miami.

Yes, I realize that the lunatic fringe faction of our fan base ( a small  – yet loud minority) will never be satisfied with Alderson until this team finally turns things around and starts winning more than it loses. They are unhappy when Alderson doesn’t spend money… Although those among us who are remotely sane understand that is the burden of Mets’ ownership who either willingly or unknowingly (depending on whose accounts you believe) lost a ton of dough in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Alderson got eviscerated when he finally did sign a player to a big money multi-year  contract… Yes… it was Frank Francisco… And yes… we know he made Bobby Bonilla look good by comparison… But at least Alderson did try to fill a need by signing a proven closer … who ended up failing.

But lets take a look at some of Alderson’s other successes which has undeniably put this team in a better position than it was before he took over after the 2010 season. He was able to obtain Zack Wheeler – the San Francisco Giants best pitching prospect for seven weeks of Carlos Beltran – who was about to hit the free agent market at the end of that season and had no compensation picks attached to him.

He was able to trade R.A. Dickey, the 37 year old 2012 Cy Young award winning pitcher as well as roster fillers; Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays, in return for stud catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, minor league pitching phenom Noah Syndergaard, low-level outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra and veteran catcher John Buck.

This past week Alderson was able to repackage Buck along with outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Pirates for second base prospect, Dilson Herrera and the recently announced player to be named later in the deal – closing prospect, Vic Black. By the way… Herrera is off to a great start since being traded to the Mets, and has batted .385  with 4 RBIs and a OBP of .438!

Lastly, this past June, Sandy was able to obtain outfielder, Eric Young Jr. from the Colorado Rockies for minor league starting pitcher, Collin McHugh. Since his trade to the Mets, Young has been a catalyst out of the leadoff spot. Am I saying that Young is the answer to the Mets’ outfield needs? No, but he could be an asset off the bench if Alderson isn’t able to find a power bat that this team desperately needs in the offseason.

So here you have it a bunch of god reasons to be happy with Sandy, and I really do believe that this team will be one to reckon with in a very short period of time.

Your thoughts ?

And with that said….


Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

The only Mets coach to be born in Canada, Tom Burgess would have been  86 today (1927).

One time top Mets pitching prospect, David West is 49 (1964).  West was one of the players that was sent over to the Minnesota Twins for one time Cy Young Award winning pitcher, Frank Viola.

Middle reliever from the ’96 season, Derek Wallace is 42 (1971). Wallace appeared in 19 games for the Mets during the ’96 season. He finished the year with a record of 2-3 with 3 saves and a 4.01 E.R.A.

Some other notables:

The  New York Mets traded reserve outfielder, Rod Gaspar to the San Diego Padres for middle reliever, Ron Herbel, on September 1, 1970.

The New York Mets traded minor league pitcher, Kyle Kessel to the Detroit Tigers for journeyman reliever, C.J. Nitkowski on September 1, 2001.

The New York Mets signed free agent pitcher, Alay Soler on September 1, 2004. Soler was the Mets first foray into signing a Cuban defector. But as the Mets luck had it, he was a bust , going  2-3 with a 6.00 ERA during the ’06 season. He was released during Spring Training of ’07 and never resurfaced with another team.


Mo Vaughn is slated to open the first ever Fatburger franchise in New York City. The burger joint known for its tasty burgers of beefiness will only be allowed to serve him and his huge appetite!!!

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Eric Young Jr: The Mets Fourth Outfielder of the Future Tue, 13 Aug 2013 18:14:24 +0000

I think I’m going to have to step back from Mets Twitter for awhile. I see things flash across my timeline that just make me want to unplug my monitor and blast it to smithereens.

After responding to one Mets blogger who remarked that Juan Lagares had a terrible arm after that baseball skipped by Wilmer Flores last night, I needed to school him on why he was totally wrong.

It is because of Lagares’ arm, that Mets center fielders lead the major leagues with 12 outfield assists. Lagares himself, also leads the NL in assists with nine, while playing in about 40 less games than anyone else who comes close. The gifted centerfielder  is also among the MLB leaders in defensive runs saved according to John Dewan of the Fielding Bible.

eric youngAfter I got done wrapping up that mess, another tweet saying that we have our “left fielder of the future” flashes before my eyes. No doubt a reference to Eric Young who had just stroked a single… Dag nab it… What the heck is the matter with some people?

Young went 2-for-5 last night… wonderful…

Look… As I said yesterday, I’m really digging what Eric Young Jr. is doing since being acquired in a waiver trade for Collin McHugh. Honestly, I am…

But can we please stop this “we’re all set at left field” nonsense now?

We’re NOT set at left field. Young has exceeded expectations, but to think he’s anything, but a utility outfielder going forward is a bit too much.

At the plate, Young is batting .204/.250/.265 with a .515 OPS in 53 plate appearances in August.

He has already lost 100 points in batting average which some are calling a slump. It’s not a slump… Just ask any Colorado Rockies fan you know.

What we have here is not our left fielder of the future, but merely our fourth outfielder of the future.

Sorry EY, nothing personal…

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Hits & Misses: Forever Young? Who’s At Short? A Flores For Your Thoughts? Mon, 12 Aug 2013 15:48:12 +0000 HITS N MISSES

What a week we just wrapped up and as is usually the case, there’s plenty of storylines and news we can talk about before the Mets take the field at 10:10 PM against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Who’s At Short?

Omar - QuintanillaFor the time being Terry Collins is fully intent on going with Omar Quintanilla as his everyday shortstop.

“I’ve yet to see why Omar Quintanilla should lose his job. All he does is make plays like that night after night. You look at his batting average and it’s not what he’d like it to be. But, he’s on base 33 percent of the time and he’s done a really good job. We wouldn’t be playing like we’re playing without him.”

Actually Terry, it’s less than 30%, but fine… go ahead and play him if you like. Just please make sure we address the shortstop position in the offseason because I don’t want to see Q there on Opening Day.

As for Ruben Tejada, he can blame himself for not being here with the team right now. Collins says that Backman told him that Tejada is bent on hitting flyballs. Additionally, Tejada is 4-for-his-last-52, dropping his Pacific Coast League average to .257 since his demotion.

Collins also said that if Tejada was hitting better, he’d be back by now. I have no doubt about that, but would he also continue to reside in Collins’ exclusive dog house?

It appears to me that Tejada has been in Collins’ doghouse from day one when we wondered why Tejada didn’t report to Spring Training 26 days early back in 2012 and read him the riot act when he did show up three days early.

Forever Young?

eric young jr 2I’m digging what Eric Young Jr. is doing since being acquired in a waiver trade for Collin McHugh. But can we please stop the “we’re set at left field” narrative now?

Young has exceeded expectations, but to think he’s anything, but a utility outfielder going forward is a bit too much for me to handle. He’s had a solid week defensively, but that doesn’t mean he’s a solid defender, he isn’t. There not one metric that would dispute that. And his arm… What arm?

At the plate, Young has already lost 100 points in batting average which some are calling a slump. It’s not a slump… Just ask any Colorado Rockies fan you know. Eric young is batting .152 in his last 12 games with just nine hits in his last 54 at-bats. He has a career .660 OPS. Anyone up for a Jeff Francoeur revival?

We need to get a left fielder with power this offseason. Young is under team control and will be fine as a 4th outfielder, but please…. nothing more than that… Forever Young? God, I hope not…

Lets Pile On Flores

wilmer floresMatt Cerrone has been talking to his baseball people again. This time they tell him that they all said they project him to hit around .260 in the big leagues — with around 15-20 home run potential — with no real position.

It’s amazing how everyone has already defined Flores’ career after six games and after just turning 22 years old… Wow…

Are these the same people who predicted Harvey would be a lesser version of Mike Pelfrey? Or were those different baseball people? Are these the same people that led him to conclude that Harvey was good, but not Cy Young good? Are these the same people that said Juan Lagares was a lesser version of Kirk Nieuwenhuis?

Why can’t we just enjoy these players who come up and hit the ground running?

Why must they be criticized and defined after such a small sample size?

Poor Wilmer Flores… Might as well hang them up, kid… You’re nothing but a .250 hitting first baseman with 15 home run power. We can get that from anybody. Your trade value sucks too, because every team has five players just like you. Sorry Wilmer, it’s not me, it’s all the experts and the baseball people who talk to MetsBlog…

Can’t we all just sit back and enjoy the game they way it used to be?

Maybe I’m getting old and the game has passed me by. Maybe this is how it is now. Maybe this is the norm.

Too bad… As for me I’ll keep doing what Tug McGraw implored us to do, believe and hope for the best…

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Eric Young Jr. Has Quickly Become A Fan Favorite Wed, 07 Aug 2013 13:10:13 +0000 Eric Young Jr. has helped solidify this outfield and provided a spark offensively

Eric Young Jr. has helped solidify Mets outfield and provided a spark offensively

In less than two months Eric Young Jr. has made himself a favorite among Mets fans. He plays with a dynamic of speed and hustle that this team has sorely missed and it has been fun to watch. Coming into the season, the outfield was the biggest question mark defensively and no one knew who was going to bat lead off, Young has become the answer to both of those problems.

The Mets traded pitcher Collin McHugh for the 28-year-old outfielder in the middle of June after the Rockies had designated Young for assignment. Young had become the odd man out in the Rockies outfield rotation and came into a great situation where the Mets had no set outfield whatsoever upon his arrival. He has taken the opportunity that he was given and ran with it. Since joining the Mets Young is hitting .271 with 15 stolen bases and 46 hits in just 40 games.

You can’t help but enjoy the play you are getting from Young, Juan Lagares and Marlon Byrd in the outfield as of late. The defense we have been seeing out of these three makes me never want to suffer through watching Lucas Duda track down a fly ball again. There’s three have solidified the Mets have outfield and finally given Terry Collins a group he can pencil into the line up everyday.


Last night Young made a tremendous diving catch in the sixth inning with two outs to save a few runs in a crucial part of the game. Later he went on to score what would be the winning run on a hustle play as he scored from second base on a Lagares infield single. His speed has added a dimension the Mets have not had since Jose Reyes left town. He might not be in the same class of Reyes, in his healthy years, when it comes to stealing bases, but he is certainly capable of stealing his fair share.

Young may have earned the respect of fans across the country with the way he handled himself after the horrific Tim Hudson accident. In what was one of the more gruesome looking injuries you will ever see, Young was there to consult Hudson and have his deepest apologies felt by his family. He was a class act every step of the way from an incident that was nothing more than a case of the wrong place at the wrong time for Tim Hudson.

eric young points

The final stretch of the season will be an important one for Young. He will certainly be the everyday outfielder as he is receiving a tryout of sorts to see if he could be a piece of this teams future. It’s players that possess Young’s character and hustle that I want this team to load up on. Plus he also has the best at bat music on the team, “Forever Young” gets me every time he steps to the plate. I hope he can continue to play at this level and sticks with the Mets going forward.

For more of my insights on the Mets or baseball in general, check out my site and follow me on Twitter at @NYBaseballBlog

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Why Is Duda Playing The Outfield Instead Of First Base During His Rehab? Tue, 06 Aug 2013 16:30:19 +0000 Lucas Duda right fieldLucas Duda has moved into the third and final stage of his rehab from a strained intercostal muscle. He appeared as a pinch hitter in last night’s 5-2 win over the Memphis Cardinals, walking in his only plate appearance. Judging by how he’s performed thus far in the Gulf Coast League and Florida State League, he may be with Ruben Tejada in Triple-A for an extended period of time. It also helps that the big league outfield is performing just fine with the likes of Eric Young, Jr., Juan Lagares, and Marlon Byrd.

In 11 games and 41 at-bats between the GCL and FSL, Duda has only collected seven hits and five walks, while striking out 15 times. That includes a big goose egg in 13 GCL at-bats, which didn’t sit well with Mets fans upon the news of him moving on to High-A with St. Lucie.

I’ve been in favor of major leaguers spending time in the minors to get in a groove at the plate following an injury, and earning their way back to the majors. It shows them that nothing should be taken for granted. However, I don’t think Duda should be continuing to play the outfield in Las Vegas, like he has at his other rehab stops.

Moving forward, the biggest question for the Mets (outside of who is going to play shortstop) is who will play first base. Will it be Duda, Ike Davis, or someone else? The outfield picture has cleared up a bit; Lagares is emerging as a potential solution, as is Young. With Cesar Puello coming back from his suspension next season, Sandy Alderson needs to acquire more than one outfielder this off-season.

With that situation becoming more clear, that leaves Duda on the outside looking in for a spot in the outfield. His natural position is first base, and when he played that position in the majors following Ike’s demotion, he performed pretty well. So, why not have an open audition between the two in September? They both know their futures in the organization are hanging in the balance, mostly depending on their performance through the remainder of the season.

I say light another fire under each of them and have them split time at first base next month. The Mets need to make a decision on which player should be a part of their future, so put them up against each other, and see who rises to the occasion.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Nice basis for a debate, Matt. This organization has been trying to fit round pegs into square holes for as far back as I can remember. And this ol’ Met fan can remember a lot.

As you stated, at least for the remainder of this season, Duda would be a third wheel err fourth wheel in the current outfield configuration. As for moving forward, Juan Lagares is the only keeper as far as an everyday job goes for next season. Young can stay on, but not as an everyday player. As I mentioned in a previous post, he has already begun receding to his career norms and is batting around .195 since the All Star break. I have no problem with him as a fourth outfielder, but let’s stop making it sound like this waiver wire pickup that cost us Collin McHugh is anything more than a utility outfielder with great speed. An Endy Chavez if you will…

We need at least one power bat in the outfield and hopefully that’s a top priority for Sandy this offseason. Although I shudder to think it was his top priority last offseason as well. Luckily, after all the big chips were gone, he got lucky on Marlon Byrd – who may or may not return next season depending on his price.

Puello is the next big offensive thing now that Flores is already here, and one of those corner outfield spots will be commandeered by him for the next 6-7 years if all goes as expected.

So what the hell is Duda doing playing the outfield? Who needs him in the outfield muffing things up?

Look, from what I know and what I’ve heard, nobody is this front office is high on Duda. He plays mostly because there’s a chance can show some power that another team might want to take a chance on. I mean come on folks, Alderson went on WFAN and told the world that he did not view Duda as a core player. What does that tell you?

Let him play some first base and showcase him at his natural position, because watching him make an adventure out of every ball hit to him in left or right field will not enhance his value, it will kill it.

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These Mets Could Fight Their Way Out Of Mediocrity Sat, 20 Jul 2013 14:00:23 +0000 ya gotta believe

Stephanie was in an optimistic mood after last night’s game, believe it or not, and it wasn’t due to the post-game Nas concert… This is her first full-length piece that isn’t a Player of the Week, enjoy her collection of thoughts after the game and play nice in the comments… (Satish R.)

Jeremy Hefner has never fared well against the Phillies. It’s just one of those weird baseball things, but the stats actually back it up, too. But bare me with here and do a little speculating. There’s no arguing that Hefner just didn’t have his best stuff last night, and that happens to even the best of pitchers. But say that after he came out of the game, Burke doesn’t give up the Michael Young homer. Let’s say he was able to retire him, and the next two batters as he did, and the score would be 8-0. Maybe that somehow compels Terry not to replace him with Edgin, and the Chase Utley homer never happens — so the score stays at 8-0. I know I sound completely irrational, but hang with me for a little bit. Now, that all being said, perhaps the Mets offense was able to do exactly what it did tonight. The David Wright ninth inning home run would have capped off a brilliant comeback, and all of a sudden people are chirping about how much fight this team has.

But since those home runs did happen, and the score was 13-8 in all actuality after 9 instead of 8-8, the Mets were instead tabbed as teases and the losers who always put together late efforts that amounted to too little, too late. Instead of tweeting “LOLMets” and letting my mood drop, I sat back and thought about this. The fact that our Mets, who struggle so badly scoring at home, were able to pull together 8 runs, is a very good sign — especially when we take note of the guys who were getting hits. Ike Davis went 2-for-4, John Buck went 2-for-5 and Juan Lagares went 2-3 after coming in as a pinch hitter. Small sample size? Obviously, but these are the guys that we need to see start hitting, and it needs to start somewhere.

The amazing thing, and somewhat disappointing simultaneously, is that eight runs might have been enough to take a win during any other Hefner start — or rather, any other start recently for that matter. Harvey can only dream of his team pulling together run support like that! If the Mets want to get to .500, offense is crucial. They’ve already gotten everything they could have asked for out of their starting pitching. Mix what you saw tonight from the offense plus what you’ve been seeing from the starting pitching and you see a team very capable of fighting their way back to .500 — maybe even beyond. I know that the Mets aren’t going to start averaging eight runs a game or something outlandish like that, but they have the potential to start producing. Don’t let one bad start by Hefner — which, for all intents and purposes, he was probably due for — change your perception of what he’s given to the team the eight or so starts before last night. He’ll most definitely pull himself together and give you the kind of effort he has been for the past month in his next outing, which is all you could possibly ask from him.

My point, though? Last night’s game was actually a POSITIVE sign. Not trying to beat a dead horse here, but the fight in this team IS real, and it is so important! Being in an 11-0 hole and coming back to score eight runs shows incredible determination. They were well aware of their position, but not one player hung their head and said “Why bother? It’s over.” They racked up hits, got on base and were one Josh Satin swing away from being right back in the game.

That’s the kind of play that the Mets could give you this second half — and that’s what could allow them to hit .500 again. The ol’ Yogi Berra “It ain’t over till it’s over” line is what the Mets need to live by, and they need to stop at nothing to let people know that. Last year, it seemed like they had all given up by August, but not this year. By August, you could see a team busting its butt every game to climb back to .500. Call me crazy, call me unreasonable, call me delusional. All I’m saying is that the Mets have been playing very good ball as of late, and take away one bad starting pitching performance from a guy who has NEVER faired out well against the Phillies and you’ve got something here.

I never like to throw in the towel. Ya gotta believe!

ya gotta believe button

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MMO Exclusive: 2013 Mets Midseason Report Cards Fri, 19 Jul 2013 17:25:53 +0000 report card

With the New York Mets (41-50) about to embark on the second half of the the 2013 season, I hit up two dozen of our MMO writers for their overall grades by position for our Mid-Season Report Cards.

For added measure we also included Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and Mr. Met who was the only one to score an A+. :-)

So without further ado, here’s our 2013 Mid-Season Mets Report Cards.

2013 report cards

Terry Collins  C-

TC has been dealt a limited hand but has done a solid enough job overall. His bullpen management remains terrible. His opinion changes rather quickly. Just because you´ve been names a starting player on Monday doesn´t mean you´ll still be one on Saturday. That said, the players seem to enjoy playing for him and usually play hard – even if it´s not always obvious due to their limitations. – Andre

Sandy Alderson  C-

If you accept that 2013 is and was always going to be a transitional / building year, hopefully the final one in terms of financial austerity and waiting out contracts, then Alderson has done a pretty good job overall over the past calendar year. Yes, the team remains a mediocre 75-win caliber team all things considered that´ll probably finish 4th yet again this season. However, if you deduct the Santana & Bay contracts from this year´s payroll, the Mets are 3rd to last in the majors overall with only the Astros & Marlins spending less on their product on the field. So, not contending should not come as a surprise when prospects get moved at a rather slow pace and no money is spent while the group of remaining players lacks high-end talent beyond David Wright, Matt Harvey and to a lesser degree Bobby Parnell. – Andre

If the goal that Sandy himself established in 2010 was to see a renaissance in 2014 that will usher in years and years of sustainable success then you have to give him a near failing grade. Nobody I speak to among scouts, baseball insiders and baseball journalists see 2014 as anything other than what we’ve seen in the last three seasons. Wheeler was never going to be a difference maker, and winning franchises need more than two core players to achieve sustainable success. In three seasons we have more holes than we did in 2010 and no immediate help on the way. He has yet to develop any of his own minor leaguers as the cream of the crop came from trading players that he inherited. Sure it takes time to develop a farm and more than three seasons, but I’m using his timetable not one that I conjured up. The heat is on Sandy. – Joe D.

First Base  D-

The Governor needs to step in and declare first base a disaster area. Ike Davis was once looked upon as a core player and the first baseman of the future. Not anymore. Sadly, there are few in-house options that can give the Mets the 30-homer bat they desperately need from this position. Josh Satin should be getting the majority of playing time, but he doesn’t have that kind of power, but can get on base and drive in runs with his line-drive stroke. – Joe D.

Second Base  B-

Daniel Murphy has improved his defense and while he´s been hot & cold on offense still is at least an average bat offensively at second base. He´s a solid average piece. With Wilmer Flores mashing at AAA, the Mets will face a big question here soon. Keep the solid average piece as he enters his later arbitration years ? Go with the higher upside bat with the defensive question marks? – Andre

The Wilmer Flores situation will come to a head very soon. – Joe D.

Shortstop  C-

Ruben Tejada has been the other big disappointment. He has gradually regressed from his nice 2011 / early 2012 form and was a well below average player over the past calendar year. He´s still young and thus some hope remains. Quintanilla is a limited talent but has made the best out of his opportunity playing steady defense and providing a decent enough bat that this spot isn´t a liability right now. – Andre

Shortstop? What shortstop?

Third Base  A

David Wright has hit at or slightly above his already lofty career norms in spite of no protection around him in the lineup and played Gold Glove caliber defense. It´s time to surround him with better talent. – Andre

The worst part of signing Wright to the ginormous contract, was not going the extra hard and surrounding him with the guns to battle the NL East. So he’ll unfairly get the the blame for results in the standings and this was exactly what I hoped wouldn’t happen – Joe D.

Catcher  C+

Mostly manned by John Buck and Anthony Recker, things looked promising through the first three weeks of the season, but quickly went into a deep decline after that. Mets catchers are now batting .213 with a .277 OBP and 103 strikeouts in 347 at-bats. Very Thole-esque wouldn’t you say? – Joe D.

Left Field  C-

It started out with Lucas Duda and now has Eric Young Jr. and in about two more weeks it will be a combination of the two. What’s a manager to do. The bottom line though is that left field has produced the second highest OPS for the Mets so far at pedestrian .783. Keep on drawing those walks Lucas. Despite missing nearly a month, Duda is still second on the team with 38 walks which accounts for a huge chunk of the OPS. I need to see more of EY until I’m convinced he’s not the player his first 950 MLB plate appearances say he was. – Joe D.

Lucas Duda has proven he is not the long term answer in LF. Certainly not defensively. Possibly not offensively either. Eric Young Jr. has played some here recently and looks like the spark plug the team had been missing. – Andre

Center Field  C-

Cowgill flopped. Valdespin didn´t do much either. Nieuwenhuis has been up & down. Lagares has shown great defense but also some rawness offensively. – Andre

I can’t believe Sandy Alderson has me missing Andres Torres. – Joe D.

Right Field  B+

Marlon Byrd has had quite the unexpected comeback season. He single-handedly made right field a strength for the team so far this season, which of course means it may be time to move him. Right? Isn’t how this works? – Joe D.

Starting Rotation  B+

Matt Harvey has been great. Jeremy Hefner has far exceeded expectations and has done well. Dillon Gee has been up & down – but pretty much as expected overall. Jon Niese is the third biggest disappointment of the year. Though injuries and bad luck & bad weather have played a key role. It´ll be a big key getting him back to 100% going forward. Marcum was rarely healthy and performed between mediocre and terrible. Zack Wheeler remains a work in progress though the upside is huge. Getting him to be more consistent is another key going forward. – Andre

Bullpen  C

Bobby Parnell has emerged as a lights out closer which is very nice. Most other relievers have been unspectacular though better off late. The injury to Jeurys Familia was a big blow structurally as he could have been that 2nd power arm a good team needs in the pen. Josh Edgin has been too inconsistent. – Andre

I knew this group was in trouble again when after three weeks they already shuffled ten different players off or into the pen. Wow… Bullpen Revamp 3.0 was looking like another failure. By the time May ended it was in familiar territory ranking last in the majors in ERA, BAA and WHIP. Collins burned out his two best middle relief arms resulting in Lyon getting cut and Rice going from great to scary. Edgin had a short hiatus in the minors after a demotion, but has looked better. But largely, the bullpen has been a one-man show. – Joe D.

Bench  C+

Considering all the fluctuations in the lineup, the bench pieces have done a solid enough job. Unfortunately, too many bench pieces have been pressed into starting roles they´re probably not suited to fill. Mike Baxter being one example. – Andre

Andre pretty much nailed it. With most of the solid bench options now pressed into starting duty, I’m fearful as to what we’ll get in the second half. – Joe D.


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Jeremy Hefner: The Improbable Dream Sat, 13 Jul 2013 14:30:54 +0000 jeremy hefner

Starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner didn’t come to the Mets with all hype and bravado of an elite pitching prospect the way that his teammates Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler did. In fact, most never even gave him a chance to be in the rotation until news broke during spring training, that Johan Santana would be out for the season. Even then, Hefner was just one of three possible options to replace Johan in the rotation. The other two, Aaron Laffey and Collin McHugh, are not even with the organization anymore.

Last night, the incredible journey that is the 2013 season for Jeremy Hefner continued. After surrendering a two-run home run to Pedro Alvarez in the first inning, it didn’t look good for Heff, but he held the Pirates to just one more hit for the rest of the night and gave his team the chance to comeback and tie the game. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and no walks while striking out three over seven innings and was pulled after 78 pitches thrown.

He closes out the first half of the season with a 4-6 record, a 3.33 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 19 appearances (18 starts). He has a 65-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 108 innings and is a win away from matching his career high in a season.

Even more remarkable than that, over the last 30 days Hefner has been the best pitcher in the National League. In his last ten starts spanning 63.0 innings, he has a 2.14 ERA and allowed just ten walks while striking out 54 batters. He has allowed just ten runs over his last eight starts and since the end of April has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. He has posted a 1.80 ERA in June and a 1.29 ERA in July. Scintillating….

Nothing phases him and while he should easily have 8-9 extra wins on his record, the losses and no-decisions don’t bother him.

“That doesn’t matter to me,” the Moore, Oklahoma native said. “If I give a quality outing, go deep into games, I’ve done my job. If we score runs, then I’ll get a win. If we don’t, then I might get a no-decision or whatever. Just as long as the team wins, I’m happy.”

As most of you know, I’ve been on the Hefner bandwagon since last season. There’s a subdued coolness about him that stands out and is hard not to admire. It’s not a glaring cockiness, but rather a quiet and confident demeanor of someone who’s  focused on working hard at being the best he could be.

“I knew that I could pitch this way,” says Hefner. “My performance is finally matching up to the expectation. This doesn’t surprise me. I know I’m capable of doing this. So it’s not a shock to me.”

Hefner, 27, just closed out the first half of the season with flair, domination, and excellence. His reward will be taking the mound against the Phillies when the Mets begin the second half of their season. Piece of cake…

“I know that I’m good enough to be here,” Hefner said. “I know I’m good enough to beat these hitters. If someone does beat me, I know I can get the next guy.”

There have been a few nice surprises to the Mets 2013 season so far, but none of them compare to what Jeremy Hefner has done. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody that is, except Jeremy Hefner.

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Is Eric Young For Real? Sat, 13 Jul 2013 12:30:26 +0000 eric young

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent weeks over whether or not Eric Young’s performance is sustainable. While there are some worrisome albeit short samples of major league play that seem to indicate he is currently playing above his head, if you look back a bit more you may see a different player.

Eric Young was drafted in the 33rd round by the Colorado Rockies in 2003 as a 5 ft 9 inch 170 lb 2nd baseman from Piscataway H.S. in NJ.  Young had his first exposure to pro ball as a 19 year old with the Casper Rockies of the Pioneer (rookie) League in 2004 where he hit .264 with a .407 OBP and 13 steals in 23 games, profiling as a true leadoff hitter. He resumed his stint with the Casper Rockeis in 2005 doing a lot better in a much larger sample – in 219 ab’s he hit .301 with a .404 OBP and 25 steals. He was promoted to the low A-ball Ashville Tourists of the South Atlantic League in 2006 where, in his largest sample up to that point, Young played to a .295 avg., a .391 OBP and 87 steals in 482 at bats. Young had learned how to play to his speed.

From 2007 to 2009 Young worked his way through the Colorado system from Modesto (A+), to Tulsa (AA), and finally to Colorado Springs (AAA) where he hit .299 with a .387 OBP and 58 steals (caught 14 times) in 472 at bats. Young was named to the Futures game in 2009 and was the #6 ranked prospect in the Colorado system in 2010.

Below is a Baseball Cube scouting scale comparing Eric Young to his peers. Ranked players are assigned a number ranging from 100 to 1 with equal distribution to each number. The worst player receives 1 while the best receives 100. Depending on the number of players eligible, there could be more than 1 or more than 100 assigned.

Speed Contact Patience Batting Power Health
98 62 79 73 31 58

Two things jump out at you, his patience, and his speed. Sounds like an Alderson / DePo guy doesn’t it? Young had been on Depotesta’s radar for quite a while. He totally fits the current Met organizational philosophy.

Eric Young reached something of an apex in his minor league career in 2009 with numbers that certainly warranted a call-up, which he got, but a funny thing happened to Eric Young Jr. on his way to stardom, the Colorado Rockies stopped playing him. They gave him 30 at bats in 2009 and after he hit .246 they sent him back down to Colorado Springs the following year where he didn’t do quite as well in only 123 at bats (.252. avg, .340 OBP). Nevertheless Young got called up again to a crowded Colorado outfield and managed to hit .244 with a 312 OBP and 17 steals, still nowhere near his minor league norms. Young bounced back to Colorado Springs for the 2011 season and he hit .363 with an otherworldly .454. OBP in 223 at bats. The Rockies brought him back to Colorado where he hit an underwhelming (but serviceable) .247 with a .342 OBP and with, hold on now, 27 steals in 198 at bats … Is that right? Yep, 27 steals, Young seemed in the midst of figuring something out and I remember him as a guy who began to make it onto fantasy rosters for his speed. Young began the 2012 season in Colorado and he again found himself trying to break into Colorodo’s crowded outfield, however, Young continued to look like a player that had begun to find his way, hitting .316 with a .377 OBP 14 steals and an 825 OPS in 223 at bats. I for one couldn’t figure out why the Rockies weren’t playing him more.

2013 saw the Rockies open the season with a starting outfield of  Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Michael Cuddyer. As a 4th outfielder Young hit a disappointing .242 with an even more uncharacteristic .277 OBP in 165 at bats. He was traded to the Mets on June 19th for Collin McHugh. Eric Young’s tenure in Colorado was characterized by inconsistent playing time primarily as a late inning replacement and an occasional spot starter. It’s difficult to gauge a young player’s ability as a backup, particularly a player who throughout his minor league career seemed to do far better in larger samples as a starter.

So what do we go with? Samples of 30, 51, and 77 games a piece while playing as an occasional replacement, or stints of 128, 130, 105, and 119 games as a regular that show a much different player? Personally I’d go with the bigger samples even though they are minor league stats. Some guys can just never get it going without consistent playing time and Young appears to fit that profile. Throughout his career, the more at bats he’s gotten during any given season, the better his performance.

Young has been a pretty darned good minor league player amassing 330 steals with a .295 career minor league average a .388 OBP and an 808 ops. I don’t expect that to translate to the majors, but you could do a lot worse than a guy with a .260 or so average and a .360 to .380 OBP who can steal 30 to 40 bases and play a decent outfield, and honestly I’d say that’s the least we might expect from Young. Given his 2012 numbers I think it isn’t outrageous to project that Young could hit .300 with an OPB approaching .400 with 60 steals.

Young is more than the sum of his very fast parts. His speed creates problems for the opposition by both forcing them to hurry their defense as well as requiring them to protect against steals and bunts. He also replaces an element of excitement that has been missing since Jose Reyes departed. He can score from first on many hits and he has reintroduced Mets fans to the likelihood of a triple. He not only gets on base, he’s able to move around the bases with world class speed and with stealth, and, he can cover a massive tract of real estate in the outfield. The cumulative effect of Eric Young is one that has managed to help jump start a Mets offense that was a moribund disaster while also shoring up the outfield defense. As such, Young may be a lot more integral to this team than we realize.

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Eric Young Jr. Is Making A Great First Impression Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:04:58 +0000 eric young

Small sample sizes be damned, but Eric Young has been going out of his way to display some of the talent that made this organization want to target him in the first place — and no, I’m not talking about the fact that he’s arbitration eligible.

Picked up recently in a deal for Collin McHugh, who I can only wish the best to, Young has been tearing it up since his arrival in New York. He has amassed 29 at-bats in a Mets uniform to the tune of a .414/.469/.552 slash line, with 12 hits in those 29 at-bats. Four of those hits have been doubles, and he’s scored four runs. He has a stolen base to his credit, too.

Young also provides something that the Mets are severely lacking in — versatility on defense. Young has returned to his duties at second base with the Mets once already, but shows his true talent playing any of the three outfield positions. His overall impressive speed and recent hot hitting leave him as a prime candidate for time in the outfield and leading off in our lineup.

One can even claim that Eric Young’s real contribution can’t be measured in numbers, but rather seen in the way that he is suddenly a catalyst for a lost Mets team. Sometimes, all it does take for a guy is a change of scenery, and Young could be a consistent producer for us down the line.

That being said, Young does not come without questions. It would be impossible to feel hesitant about how much stock we could be putting into his hot hitting on arrival. People who dislike Jordany Valdespin have cited his so-so numbers in a little over 300 at-bats at the MLB level, so Young’s .264/.332/.348 career average in nearly 800 at-bats should worry them as well. Compared to Valdespin, Young has much less power — but can still play hard in other aspects, so let’s hope that he doesn’t become vilified.

The bottom line, however, is that trading a AAA pitcher for a speedy utility player who may at least play a part in the MLB bench for years to come could turn out to be a a solid move.

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MMO Exclusive: As Mets Continue Their Evolution, Their Outlook Keeps Getting Brighter Sat, 22 Jun 2013 15:10:04 +0000 the future

Aided by subtle changes to the roster and some apparent development on the part of some of the younger Mets, the Orange and Blue have stepped up their game recently in a most heartening way. Possibly spurred on by a lackluster style of play that seemingly reached its nadir with a run of 10 losses in 13 games following the surprising sweep of the Yankees, the Flushing brain trust may finally have found enough of the right kind of pieces inside and outside the organization to begin to address the more pressing needs of the team.

Looking back about three weeks, we can trace a number of key moves made by the front office that, while not making any big splashes, have changed the face of the Mets to a degree and have apparently changed the rhythm of their play on the field for the better. The chronology looks something like this:

eric young jr 2The net effect of these moves was more significant than what appears on the surface. After some finagling with Jordany Valdespin playing second base and leading off, Alderson and company finally made a more decisive move to address the Mets’ leadoff woes by importing Young who, while not without his flaws, brings some elements sorely lacking from the team’s arsenal: switch hitting ability and real speed.

In addition, moving Ankiel out of the picture has afforded Juan Lagares some regular playing time and he appears to be responding to it positively. With the end of the Valdespin experiment, Daniel Murphy has returned to his deserved spot at second and Lucas Duda has been shifted to first. The latter move seems to have had a galvanizing effect on the Dude who had a 4-for-4 game in Atlanta and has continued his high OBP ways by leading the team in walks.

What these shifts have accomplished is to add a significant enough element of contact to the lineup to allow more rallies to occur. While the Mets still are a ways from being an offensive powerhouse, replacing the largely impotent bats of Tejada, Ankiel, and Davis with those of Quintanilla, Lagares, and Young has contributed to creating what appears to be a slight uptick in run production. As of now, it may only be sufficient for the team to be on the long side of a few 4-3 scores instead the short end, but for a team that has struggled to score to the degree that the 2013 Mets have, this is noteworthy and may mark the beginning of something more sustained and significant.

This apparent offensive gain, slight as it is, is made more meaningful because it has been accompanied by a concomitant boost in the bullpen’s performance. Since adding Aardsma, Torres, and Edgin to the relief corps, there has been a noticeable improvement in the team’s ability to keep games close in the late innings. In a small sample, Torres in particular has looked tremendous and Aardsma has flashed a fastball that suggests his recovery is for real. Even Edgin, whose minor league numbers were nothing to get excited about this year, has evidenced an improved approach that suggests he can contribute as a reliable lefty specialist and take some of the burden off of the clearly overworked Scott Rice.

zack wheeler 2The cherry on top of all this, of course, is the addition of Zack Wheeler to the rotation. While the news regarding Jonathon Niese’s shoulder is worrisome, the recent string of good performances by Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee to go with the ever-dominating presence of Matt Harvey have given the team every reason to expect to be given a fighting chance against any opponent. Wheeler’s power arsenal along with his determination in front of a hometown contingent at his debut was inspiring, to be sure. There will be bumps in the road, of course, but his maturity and sheer stuff are indicative of something special.

As far as this season is concerned, the signs are still only that the Mets may begin playing closer to the level of a .500 team than continuing the abysmal trend of rolling over for teams like the Marlins. Still, more changes are clearly in the offing, and the resolution of some of the possible future personnel issues will be interesting to watch unfold. If, for instance, Ike Davis recovers his swing in the PCL and looms as a slugging addition to the lineup, what then to do with Duda? If Lagares continues to improve at the plate and Young grabs his chance to be a regular and runs with it, do we look for a major addition to be made in right field to complement them? What about Flores and D’Arnaud? Ah, the endless possibilities…

Comparisons with this season and those of 1968 and 1983 have been bandied about, and similarities do exist, but some important differences as well. Regardless, it is hard not to be excited about the prospect of a rotation fronted by those two right arms we all rhapsodize over.  Whether they are enough on their own to tip the scales in the Mets’ favor is debatable, but it clearly is a start.  One of the things I look for as a portent of things to come will be an improved level of play in the second half, sort of a reverse of the 2012 pattern where team weaknesses were exposed and exploited. I think we may be seeing the beginning of that stretch a little earlier than anticipated.

believe mr met button

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Where Does Wheeler Rank Among Best Mets Pitching Debuts? Wed, 19 Jun 2013 13:52:39 +0000 Mets Dick Rusteck

Mark Simon of ESPN New York had a great post on Sunday in which he ranked the Top 11 memorable Mets debuts over the team’s history. He included both pitching and hitting debuts. Check out his work and research here. (This is great for some of you younger Mets fans)

I pulled the pitchers out of his list to see where Zack Wheeler might rank on this list. Here are the top five.

  1. Dick Rusteck (June 10, 1966 vs. Reds) - The only Mets pitcher to throw a shutout in his major league debut beat the Reds’ ace, Jim Maloney, in a swift two hours, six minutes. Rusteck struck out only four, but dominated. He did not face a runner in scoring position the entire night. Rusteck made only seven more appearances and two more major league starts. That win would be the only one of his major league career.
  2. Collin McHugh (Aug. 23, 2012 vs. Rockies) - Against what was a lineup comprised mostly of minor leaguers, McHugh dominated, allowing two hits and striking out nine in seven scoreless innings. He’d get a no-decision because the Mets couldn’t score against five Rockies pitchers. McHugh is one of only five pitchers to allow no runs and two hits or fewer, with at least nine strikeouts, in a debut in the modern era, a list that begins with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (1960).
  3. Matt Harvey (July 26, 2012 vs. Diamondbacks) - This one wasn’t that long ago, so it should be fresh in the memory bank: Harvey piled up the pitch count early, limiting him to 5 1/3 scoreless innings, but he was very impressive, both on the mound (with 11 strikeouts) and at the plate (with a pair of base hits in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks). The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Harvey is the first pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to strike out 11 hitters and record two hits in his major league debut.
  4. Dillon Gee (Sept. 7, 2010 vs. Nationals) - Gee opened his career with five no-hit innings before surrendering a homer to Mets scourge Willie Harris leading off the sixth. It would be the only run he would allow in seven two-hit frames in a 4-1 win. Gee’s five wins against the Nationals are his most against any major league team.
  5. Gary Gentry (April 10, 1969 vs. Expos) - Gentry came within one out of a shutout in his first start against the expansion Expos. He’d settle for a 4-2 win, the first of many productive moments in a championship season, one in which he would start games in both the NLCS and World Series. The win was a big deal for the Mets in this regard: It made them 2-1, marking only the second time in eight years that they had a winning record through three games.

So where do we slot Zack Wheeler who certainly pitched worthy enough to make this list?

Certainly, Wheeler moves ahead of Gary “Baby Face” Gentry and Dillon Gee. No way he unseats Dick Rusteck, who still remains the standard bearer with his complete game shutout. And Collin McHugh, who was just ousted to Colorado, is probably safe as well.

It comes down to putting Wheeler’s debut either ahead or behind Matt Harvey. I asked the progenitor of the list, Mark Simon, last night. He puts Wheeler at No. 4 behind Matt Harvey citing the walks. Not a bad showing at all… The 4th best pitching debut in 51 years of Mets baseball.

You know what else is amazing here? That we have four pitchers on this list who debuted during 2010-2013. You would think you’d see names like Jon Matlack, Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman here.

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Mets Acquire Eric Young Jr. For Collin McHugh, DFA Cowgill and Promote Brown Wed, 19 Jun 2013 03:41:59 +0000 eric young apThe Mets announced that they have acquired outfielder Eric Young Jr. from Colorado for RHP Collin McHugh.

On Wednesday, the Rockies designated Young for assignment giving them 10 days to trade him.

Young, 28, hit just .261 with a .671 OPS in 313 career games and is a .211 career hitter away from Coors Field.

Young was hitting .246 on the season with one home run and eight stolen bases, but his defense was the subject of plenty of scrutiny over the course of his time with the Rockies, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

Mets VP Jay Horwitz also announced that OF Andrew Brown is on his way to join the Mets. To make room for Brown, the Mets have designated Collin Cowgill for assignment.


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More Changes: Mets Promote Torres, Option Burke, DFA McHugh Sun, 16 Jun 2013 00:50:48 +0000 carlos torres 2Forced to exercise a clause that would have prevented him from becoming a free agent, the Mets promoted right-hander Carlos Torres from Triple-A Las Vegas.

To make room for him, the team optioned reliever Greg Burke to Vegas and designated Collin McHugh for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Torres, 30, exercised an opt-out in his contract Friday, giving the Mets 48 hours to promote him or release him.

Torres is in the middle of a recent good stretch that has him toss consecutive complete games with Las Vegas and he has won five straight starts. The former Colorado Rockie had a 5.26 ERA in 31 relief appearances last season.

There will be more moves coming as the Mets  plan to add pitchers Zack Wheeler and likely Scott Atchison as well on Tuesday. That would indicate two more cuts to be made, possibly Josh Edgin giving them just one lefty in the bullpen – something the Mets have been very accustomed to in the last few years.

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Alderson: Montero Is A Long Shot To Be Promoted To Mets In 2013 Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:36:02 +0000 Echoing what Terry Collins told reporters on Friday, Sandy Alderson told season ticket holders at Citi Field this morning, that Rafael Montero is a longshot to be promoted to the Mets this season. He cited an innings limit as the reason and said he’s currently about 70-80 innings away from being shutdown for the season.

Last season, Montero tossed just 122 innings and he is already at 73.1 innings this year.

Yesterday, Collins said that Montero may not debut in the majors this season for similar reasons and also because he felt the Mets’ rotation is performing well enough. He wished him well on his promotion to Triple-A Las Vegas.

“I hope Montero goes, and I hope he pitches very, very well there,” Collins said, referring to Las Vegas. “But you’re looking at a guy who last year pitched 120 innings. He’s going to get to that 150 mark pretty fast because he’s been getting deep into games in Binghamton. How many innings he’s going to have when you’re looking up in late August, or early or the middle of August, it could be a situation where he’s going to be spent anyway.”

Original Post 6/14

Mets pitching prospect Rafael Montero has been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Montero was having a stellar season at Double-A Binghamton, where he was 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA and 0.915 WHIP. In 66.2 innings pitched, the control artist struck out 72 batters while walking just 10 batters. He will start on Sunday for Las Vegas.

Because Montero will pound the zone and exhibit such great command as he has throughout his pro career, his ability to pinpoint the location of his pitches should play very well at Vegas.

Last week, I asked Lynn Worthy, who covers the Binghamton Mets for the Press & Sun Bulletin, who has impressed him the most this season, and he had this to say about Montero:

The most impressive so far would have to be Rafael Montero because of the command he’s displayed. Cesar Puello’s recent play has made it a close call, but Montero has performed so well all season. While his stuff isn’t at the level of Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler, he has consistently demonstrated remarkable control beyond what I saw from either Harvey or Wheeler at this level.

It’s a very interesting question to consider how well Montero’s actual stuff translates to a major-league level. I’m not sure. I would tend to think his margin for error will be even smaller against those hitters. There could be a real possibility of him getting hit hard at times. This certainly isn’t an exact comparison, but Collin McHugh had tremendous success and command of multiple pitches in Binghamton and also pitched well at Triple-A. His first start in the big leagues was also stellar, but he has also been hit hard at times.

Montero’s command will be a big plus, and I do think he’s shown a strong ability to work through a lineup a second or third time and keep hitters off-balance. On several occasions he has racked up the majority of his strikeouts after the first time through the lineup. It will be interesting how he gets used if/when he does reach the big league level.

Great job here by Lynn, who provides some great insight.

Montero has been overshadowed by Zack Wheeler ever since the Mets acquired him. The young righthander has done nothing, but excel at each level where he was always among the most dominating pitchers in his league.

Earlier this week, the Mets promoted his teammate Jack Leathersich to Triple-A.

It’s obvious now that the front office is feeling the pressure to start advancing their best prospects after operating at a snail’s pace the last three seasons. I don’t like rushing prospects, but when they are pushing the envelope, a front office should recognize it and act on it. Look for Kevin Plawecki, Jayce Boyd, Noah Syndergaard and others to get the bump in the coming days.

(Photo credit: Gordon Donovan)

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