Mets Merized Online » Dave Hudgens Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:10:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets Deny Report That Jeff Wilpon Ordered Hit On Hudgens Wed, 28 May 2014 20:38:46 +0000 jeff wilpon

4:30 PM

The Mets have denied the report from Howard Megdal of Capital New York (read below) that the order to fire Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens came from Jeff Wilpon.

Megdal reported that Jeff Wilpon sent general manager Sandy Alderson an “angry” text during the team’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates on Memorial Day and followed it up with an “angry” phone call that resulted in Hudgens’ dismissal.

On Wednesday, the Mets released a statement saying “the reports are substantively inaccurate and erroneous.”

Sandy Alderson also added that the decision to ax Hudgens was made after consulting with many people including Jeff Wilpon.

11:00 AM

So who actually fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens on Monday? Was it his friend of 20+ years Sandy Alderson as it appears, or was this a directive straight from the top?

Both Hudgens and Sandy had nothing but pleasantries and complimentary things to say about each other after Hudgens’ freshly axed head rolled out the Mets clubhouse the next day. But perhaps it was what Hudgens told Michael Kay during an interview on ESPN Radio that really gave one pause:

“If they want a winner in that town, I would let the purse strings loose and let Sandy do what he wants to do.”

Wait, so Sandy isn’t doing what he wants to do? Sounds like that’s what Hudgens is implying.

Is this just some sour grapes and a veiled knock at Mets ownership or is there more to this sordid affair?

Enter Howard Megdal of Capital New York:

It’s been a common thing, as the Mets have struggled, for the team’s C.O.O. to express displeasure with general manager Sandy Alderson.

And sure enough, during Monday’s disappointing 5-3 loss at home to the Pirates, Jeff Wilpon sent Alderson an angry text, and followed it up with an angry call. Then, after the game, they had an angry meeting.

But at that meeting, according to a knowledgeable source, Wilpon did something new: He overruled his general manager on a baseball matter, ordering him to fire hitting coach Dave Hudgens, a longtime Alderson friend and colleague.

Alderson, who has been in the job since 2010, delivered the news to Hudgens shortly afterward, in the presence of manager Terry Collins.

Megdal did his due diligence and reached out to Mets spokesman David Newman to either confirm or deny his findings.

But Newman offered no denial and instead sent Howard on a mission to find the answer in Sandy Alderson’s post-firing comments, which of course provided nothing of substance on the matter.

Maybe it’s like one of those eighties abstract posters where if you stare long enough at the damn thing, an object or in this case the truth suddenly appears.


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Mets Hitting Approach: Back to the Drawing Board Thu, 08 May 2014 18:58:19 +0000 dave_hudgens_2012_05_24

As I was driving around for work yesterday, I was listening to the Mets broadcast on the radio, and something occurred to me.

At some point this year, this team will be no-hit, and you can pretty much assume that their current major league philosophy is the reason not only for that, but for their overall lack of success at the plate.

I’m not a huge “hitting coach” kind of guy. I like to think that when a hitter comes up to the big leagues, he earned his way up by already becoming a major league hitter. Here’s the thing about the Mets though – there is a difference between an organizational philosophy which is an attempt to educate young hitters in an attempt to get them to the big leagues, and a major league hitting philosophy which could change a hitter’s mentality after he’s already reached the big leagues.

My view of a hitting coach is the same as a pitching coach in the major leagues. They are there to help you get back on track when you’ve lost your way a bit. They are supposed to recognize and adjust to each player’s styles and tendencies and work with them to be the best they can possibly be. I feel like Dan Warthen does that, but I get the sense that Dave Hudgens wants everybody to be the same, and if they don’t fit his idea of a quality hitter, he’s going to try and change them.

It’s hard to change people as they get older, and learn more tools that help them achieve success. Think of it as learning a new language, if you’ve only learned one language and you’re successful at what you do and somebody came to you and told you in order to achieve the same success, you have to learn a second language – that wouldn’t be easy to do.

Following the Mets loss to the Marlins, hitting coach Dave Hudgens had some interesting and perhaps concerning comments with regards to the Mets hitters and their approach.

The first quote in this piece to me, comes off as a whole lot of excuses and not a lot of substance.

“It’s a whole different environment in Colorado than it is here,” Hudgens said, contrasting the Mets’ 22 runs in four games at Coors Field versus their three runs in three games at Marlins Park. “Not even the ballpark, but the pitching staffs are a little bit different. We squared some balls up. We just have to keep working through it, trust the process and keep working. There’s no real secrets in it. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward. We hit some balls hard today, squared some balls up. Their pitching is really good.”

Now, I don’t mean to be totally disrespectful to the Marlins here but a guy like Tom Koehler has been more lucky, than good. The fact you can’t beat him says more about you than it does about him. Koehler is a guy with 29 K and 17 BB in 45 innings of work, also allowing 28 hits. You know what that means? That means he has been helped out tremendously by two factors. The first, is his defense and the second is his home ballpark.

If you cannot have success at the plate in spite of the difficult ballpark, then that is not an excuse, it’s a flaw. Spare me this idea that anybody outside of Jose Fernandez in Miami is a pitcher that you are worried about facing. Just because you failed, doesn’t make them something they are not.

You’d think that if any team could succeed in a tough hitter’s park, it’d be a team with a tough hitter’s park. Instead, we’re going to use that as an excuse?

Then Hudgens added to the fire.

“I’m not pleased with the results. I don’t think anybody is pleased with the results. But we’re doing everything we’ve always done as far as getting ready, routines, trying to make adjustments. I’m pleased with how the guys are working and going about their business. Most definitely.”

Perhaps I’m a little confused, but in 2013, the Mets OPS was ranked 14th out of the 15 teams in the NL and in 2014, they remain 14th as well. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps doing the things you’ve always done isn’t exactly the best formula for success? Maybe, just maybe, if we look at the last few years and realize the offense hasn’t been good – that perhaps a new idea or new way of doing things might be the path to take?

Then, Hudgens explains what he believes is going on with Ruben Tejada.

“I just think he’s trying a little bit too hard. He’s swinging at some very marginal pitches. Yesterday he swung at two pitches that were up and in and hit ground balls. We’re kind of searching, wanting to get hits, as opposed to having a good approach and getting a good ball to hit and don’t try to force it. I think he’s just trying to force it a little bit right now.”

So here’s the other problem I have. If I know the Mets hitting approach pretty much doesn’t change, doesn’t that mean that every team in the NL knows that? It seems that the Mets are stuck on this idea of looking for that ONE pitch. But, here’s the problem. What if you miss that one pitch? Or what if that one pitch comes during the first pitch of the at bat and you watched it go by?

I get the approach with an 18 year old kid, I really do. The problem is you can’t change a hitter when they get to the big leagues. It’s sink or swim by that point, you either are a major league hitter or you are not. Changing how David Wright approaches each at bat does nothing positive for David Wright.

To be fair to Hudgens, there is some blame to go on the players as well. My point is not that I believe somebody like Ruben Tejada is a .290 hitter being held back by Hudgens’ approach. My point is that I think at a major league level, Hudgens’ approach is doing more harm than good.

Let’s say for argument (and dream) sake that the Mets found a way to bring in a superstar caliber hitter such as a Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton or somebody of that stature. What would be the Mets approach with them? To say, “hey what you did up to this point is why we brought you here, but let me introduce you to Dave Hudgens because he is going to change your approach”?

To me, where this team is whiffing (besides at the plate) is they have a minor league instructor trying to implement his methods at the big league level. You can’t do that. You don’t have Dan Warthen trying to change the way Bartolo Colon delivers his pitch do you?

The Mets are doing a lot of things right, even if it’s taking a little more time than some of us had hoped. Their biggest flaw however might be their lack of adjusting and re-tooling after something doesn’t work out the way they hoped.

Dave Hudgens as the major league hitting coach isn’t working. At the major league level, the learning process should be as close to complete as you can get with “experience” being the final piece to the puzzle. Anybody remember Carlos Delgado’s little notebook?

At some point this organization is going to have to admit defeat on some of their practices and adjust accordingly. It’s okay to fail sometimes, it’s how you respond to failure that says more about who you are than anything.

The worst response to failure is crossing your arms, denying that the failure exists and refusing to change your methods, and right now – that sums up the Mets quite nicely.


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Spring Training Recap: Mets 10, Marlins 2 Sat, 22 Mar 2014 20:17:03 +0000 USATSI brad barr travis d'arnaud

The Mets banged out 13 hits including three home runs to beat the Miami Marlins by a score of 10-2 on Saturday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

There were a lot of great story lines in this game for the Mets, but let’s begin with Travis d’Arnaud, who blasted a two-run homer against Miami Marlins lefthander Brad Hand. The home run snapped a hitless streak that had lasted 21 at-bats for the Mets Opening Day catcher.

Apparently, d’Arnaud and hitting coach Dave Hudgens spent some considerable time together on Friday and hopefully this was a sign that things will now improve for 25-year old backstop.

“I’m seeing the ball well,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m just over-swinging. Yesterday me and ‘Hudgy’ just worked on keeping my eye on the ball. If you keep your eye on the ball, you have a higher chance of succeeding than when you don’t see the ball hit the bat.” 

More Highlights:

Perhaps the biggest star on the day was Bartolo Colon  who pitched all the way into the seventh inning and got the win. Colon tossed 6.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking none and striking out three. He threw over 80% of his pitches for strikes including 18 of them in a row at one point in the game. Collins was right – this guy is a strike-throwing machine. Additionally, Colon singled, drove in a run, and nearly beat out a grounder for an infield hit, much to the delight of the crowd who gave him a big ovation. This guy is going to be a lot of fun!

Wilmer Flores with a three hit, four RBI day that include a three-run shot – his second homer of the year. Flores leads the Mets in RBIs this Spring, but will likely begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. That’s unfortunate.

Ike Davis had his second big day in a row. After going 3-for-3 on Friday, Davis celebrated his 27th birthday by ripping a two-run homer off Marlins closer Steve Cishek. It was his second home run of the spring and he’s now 5-for-15 with four extra-base hits. Lucas Duda had the day off.

How about Chris Young? He reached base 5 times today and is having himself a fantastic spring. Young finished his day going 3-for-3 with a walk and two steals.

Eric Young Jr. batted leadoff and collected a single and a walk in four plate appearances while stealing a pair of bases including third.

Up Next:

The Mets play a pair of split squad games on Sunday. Jenrry Mejia opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark at 1:10 PM at Port St. Lucie, while John Lannan opposes Atlanta Braves right-hander Freddy Garcia at 1:05 PM at Disney.

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Travis d’Arnaud Instructed To Give Runners The Whole Plate Sat, 22 Feb 2014 13:39:59 +0000 travis d'arnaud first hr

February 21

Travis d’Arnaud told reporters that regardless of what rule goes into effect regarding blocking the plate, Mets personnel have instructed him today that he is to stand in fair territory and give base runners the whole plate.

The rule, which is not official yet, is to allow runners a lane to part of the plate so as to avoid contact and collisions with the catcher.

Mets bench coach Bob Geren said that he is working with all the Mets catchers about positioning and making sure they tag across the plate.

February 20

Keith Law of ESPN listed Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud among his top twenty impact prospects for 2014, but says he is “the archetypal GWH player” — Good When Healthy.

D’Arnaud can catch, throw, and hit for power, but has to stay on the field. The Mets don’t have a heavy-use backup on the 40-man, so they’re counting on d’Arnaud to catch 120 games this year, which should mean 15-20 homers and excellent defense if he can stay out of the trainers’ room.

Yesterday, Adam Rubin spoke with hitting coach Dave Hudgens about how TDA can shorten his swing and make more contact without the need for conscious mechanical adjustments.

“I think cutting down his swing just means not trying so hard,” Hudgens told Rubin. “I think when he came up last year he was trying, maybe not in his mind, but it looked like he was trying to hit every ball out of the ballpark and over swinging a little bit and probably just trying to do too much. Watching him this year, so far early in camp, his swing has been easy. He’s been staying in the middle of the field. And that will lend to less effort and less bat wrap.” 

Last season with the Mets, d’Arnaud batted .202/.286/.263, with one homer, five RBIs, and 21 strikeouts in 99 at-bats.

Rubin asks Hudgens to quantify d’Arnaud’s offensive capability? Is it .270 or .280 with 20 homers?

“Who knows?” Hudgens tells Rubins. “I’m not putting any numbers on guys. He’s got a chance to be a very good offensive player. I mean, he’s got very quick hands. He’s got a good idea at the plate. I think it’s just experience and confidence and getting that playing time. I think last year when he came up he hadn’t played that much. So I think a big thing is just staying healthy.”

If the fans are looking for d’Arnaud to be the next saving grace as Mike Piazza was for the Mets, Hudgens shares with Rubin, that would be asking too much. ”Piazza, I guess, was the greatest hitting catcher who ever lived. I just want Travis to be Travis.”

D’Arnaud acknowledged that he has some work to do and can’t come up to the plate thinking longball everytime. ”That was more me trying to hit the ball 600 feet,” he said. “When I would try to do that, I would overwrap or overswing pretty much, and it would just dig me in a bigger hole.”

Now it’s up to him to fix it.

(Updated 2/21)

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The Mets’ Offensive Philosophy: Discipline vs Patience Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:03:23 +0000 wright murphy

There was a nice Q&A over on Metsblog with Mets’ hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who gave a little insight into what the Mets’ hitting philosophy is. Hudgens also spends a little time talking about Ike Davis and his recent woes, and seems pretty confident that he can turn things around.

Matt Cerrone highlights one quote in particular from Hudgens: “We want hitters to look for their strength, especially early in the count, from the first pitch to the fifth pitch, to the sixth pitch, when we’re in hitters counts we want to be aggressive on our pitch,” he said. “I mean, obviously, I’d rather see a double in the gap with two guys on than a walk. But, there’s sometimes during the game, David Wright‘s not going to get his pitch. I would rather him take the walk as opposed to swing at a marginal pitch and hit into a double play.”

I have one main concern with this quote—the player who qualified with the most pitches per plate appearance (P/PA), in 2013, was Mike Napoli, with 4.59. So nobody averaged five pitches per plate appearance last year. I was surprised to see that Eric Young Jr was the Mets’ player with the fourth-highest P/PA (minimum 100 games played). Young saw 3.74 pitches per plate appearance in 2013, which ranked him behind only Wright, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda. I am starting to see why the Mets are enamored with him hitting leadoff—but he has to show me he can get on base more before I jump on board.

Here is my major issue with what Hudgens said—why is Hudgens talking about the fifth and sixth pitch in an at-bat? Simple math tells you that by the time a hitter see five or six pitches, they will have two strikes and naturally be more defensive, not aggressive. It’s impossible to get to the sixth pitch in a count without two strikes on the hitter.

Pitches seen and success varies greatly. Curtis Granderson saw just under four pitches per plate appearance in 2013 (3.99). Chris Young, Davis and Duda also averaged over four pitches per plate appearance. What do these four guys have in common? All four of them have a tendency to strike out.

lucas duda homersThe terms “discipline at the plate” and “patience at the plate” come up quite often when discussing hitters’ approaches at the plate—especially if you are a Mets fan. This notion that the organization is teaching their hitters to be more patient is a questionable one to say the least.

The two terms sound like they mean the same thing, but actually are quite different.

Patience refers to working a pitcher, seeing all his pitches, and waiting for the right pitch to jump on. The hitter basically is waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake. Some hitters excel using this strategy, while others flop. Patience naturally leads to a higher propensity to strike out, since you are taking at-bats into deep counts. The count itself is in the pitcher’s favor—three strikes versus four balls—which is more likely to occur?

You have to have an incredible amount of skill and mental toughness to hit using the strategy of patience. I would argue that this skill cannot even be taught. Being patient forces hitters to hit from behind in the count often, which also contributes to higher strikeout rates for patient hitters. So while patient hitters tend to pile up the walks, they also pile up the strikeouts. You either have what it takes to hit using this strategy, or you don’t.

Patience should be reserved for top-of-the-order hitters. The batting lineup is designed the way it is for a reason and is technically a division of labor. The top two hitters’ jobs are to work the pitchers and get on base. The middle-of-the-order hitters’ jobs are to drive in the top-of-the-order guys. The tail end of the lineup is generally reserved for defensive minded players, so not much is expected.

You cannot force your 3-4-5 hitter to be patient at the plate. Patience is not a strategy that can be forced on every player and that is why speed is not the only determining factor for guys hitting at the top of the order. Those middle-order hitters should show good plate discipline, but not be patient.

Discipline at the plate is the ability of the hitter to lay off pitches that are close, only swinging at pitches in the strike zone. This can be taught to hitters, and as they gain more experience at the plate, their plate discipline will improve. Of course, as with everything else, some hitters are better than others in this area.

So which is better to have, strike-zone discipline or patience at the plate?

The answer is that it depends on what slot in the batting order the hitter is in. For my one and two hitters, I would prefer them to be more patient. I want them to get on base as much as possible, see as many pitches as possible so the heart of my order gets a good look at what the pitcher is bringing. This also gets the pitcher tired. We know being patient comes with a higher propensity to strike out, but it’s a necessary evil.

The rest of the guys in the batting order should have good plate discipline. This means that they aren’t swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone, and not giving away at-bats.

The Mets were tied for third in the major leagues with strike outs in 2013—1384 total. That number was good for one in every four at-bats. The Mets also had the sixth-lowest OBP in baseball last season (.306). They gave away a ton of at-bats.

One could argue that the Mets are being overly patient, which is not attributing to the team getting on base more, or scoring more runs. They should focus on being more disciplined, which means not chasing balls out of the zone, and not patience, which has attributed to higher strike out rates and lower on base percentage.

Presented By Diehards

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Bobby Abreu Signs With Phillies, Nearly Chose Mets Tue, 21 Jan 2014 21:42:54 +0000 The Philadelphia Phillies signed outfielder Bobby Abreu to a minor league deal today, and according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, he was very close to choosing the Mets. (Why?)

Abreu, 40, did not play in 2013 after hitting .242 with three homers and 24 RBIs in 100 games with the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

The Mets had expressed interest in Abreu earlier in this offseason, but I find it odd that they still wanted him given the number of Triple-A and Quad-A outfielders we already have on the team.

Rubin explains that he began attracting interest of late due to a strong showing for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League, where Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens was his manager.

The two-time All-Star has 2,437 career hits, 287 homers and 399 stolen bases in 17 seasons with the Phillies, Angels, Astros, Yankees and Dodgers.

In his prime, Abreu was one of the best on-base guys in the game and I bet he could still get on at a decent clip. But defensively, he’d be in a mess of trouble in the vast expanses of Citi Field. It would be a huge mistake to hand Abreu an outfielder’s glove. Let the Phillies have him.


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Upon Further Review: The Mets Coaching Staff Mon, 25 Nov 2013 17:54:50 +0000 terry collins 2

When the Mets renewed Terry Collins‘ contract at the end of September once the season had concluded, it was also announced that the entire coaching staff would return as well. This announcement didn’t come as a huge shock, but it was conceivable due to the fact that the crew has been the same since the start of the 2012 campaign. There has been criticism, praise, doubt, hopefulness, hopelessness, and devotion to the staff, but it still raises the question, Does the Coaching Staff Deserve to be Here? Let’s find out.

Bob Geren, Bench Coach

Bench coach Bob Geren was hired back in October in 2011, coming off a five year tenure as manager of the Oakland Athletics and replacing Ken Oberkfell. Although not completely favored among his players, Geren finished with a winning percentage just under .500 in over 700 games managed. As bench coach, he is responsible for assisting the manager in making late game decisions and serving as his right-hand-man, if you will. In my opinion, I don’t see anyone more certified than a former manager to fill that position. So I say Geren is fine in that role going forward. Another plus to his resume is Geren’s 289 games played at catcher in his major league career, coming up with a fielding percentage of .992 for the Yankees and Padres. I believe that is an extreme upside for Travis d’Arnaud and others going forward. And also, before every game this past year (home and away, including Spring Training), Geren and that day’s starting catcher, whether it be John Buck, Anthony Recker or others, would go out to the bullpen and practice blocking balls in the dirt and other catching tactics. I think that relationship between player and coach is absolutely invaluable.

Dan Warthen, Pitching Coach

Longtime pitching coach Dan Warthen was hired in 2008 when the managerial position changed hands from Willie Randolph to Jerry Manuel, replacing Rick Peterson. Warthen is well liked around the clubhouse and in the front office, always a plus. Pitchers say that he prepares them well for starts and he is one of the best coaches they have worked with. Obviously something has to be going well if Warthen is about to begin his sixth full season on the job, and the numbers don’t tell much different. From 2007 to 2008, the Mets pitching staff improved in ERA, strikeouts, complete games, SO/BB ratio, and H/9. Although Peterson was well liked by players and fans, Warthen was a nice improvement. I say Dan Warthen deserves to be here, and possibly for the long term, as his contract runs through the 2015 season.

Dave Hudgens, Hitting Coach

The 2011 signing of Dave Hudgens as hitting coach was, to say the least, surprising, considering he played in just six major league games, connecting on one base hit in seven at bats. It is obvious that the Mets offensive production has been down over the past few years, but is Hudgens really to blame? Although Marlon Byrd says that he deserves credit for reconstructing his swing, David Wright‘s production went down from 2010 to 2011, as did Angel Pagan and (although there may have been other reasons) Jason Bay. Hudgens is well liked by players, and he is the lone Mets staff member that participates on social media (@dmhudgens), but I think the Mets could do better when it comes to their hitting coach; there has even been talk of the Mets adding an assistant hitting coach.

Tim Teufel, Third Base Coach

Longtime fan favorite Tim Teufel rejoined the Mets in 2012, when he replaced Chip Hale as the third base coach. Teufel had been around the organization since 2001, but had not been with the big league club since his playing days from 1986 to 1991. Teufel brings with him eight years of minor league managing experience, compiling a 464-562 record in that span. His best year came in 2003 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, when they finished with a 47-28 record, winning the New York-Penn League. Personally, I love how aggressive Teufel is in the third base coaching box. He is never reluctant to send runners, and even when you think he made a bad decision, the runner is usually safe at home plate. Like I said before, Teufel is well liked by the fans, so I don’t believe his position will be in jeopardy any time soon. I’m looking forward to seeing Teufel in the coaching box on March 31st.

Tom Goodwin, First Base Coach

Tom Goodwin was only six years removed from his professional playing career when the Mets signed him in 2012 as the first base coach. Goodwin played 13 years in the major leagues with the Dodgers, Royals, Rangers, Rockies, Giants, and Cubs. His duties as a coach include “handling the outfielders and baserunning instruction,” according to the Mets media guide. Goodwin committed only 22 errors in 1,288 career games and went 369 for 487 on stolen base attempts, so he passes that test. Goodwin also frequently communicates with runners at first base (unlike Ricky Henderson, who I once saw talk to only a single runner during a nine inning game — that runner was Ramon Castro), so he passes that test too. So Tom Goodwin can stay for now. Any objections? Okay, let’s move on.

Ricky Bones, Bullpen Coach

What are the duties of the bullpen coach? To chart pitches and pick up the phone in the ‘pen? Who couldn’t do that? All kidding aside, Bones brings with him 11 years of big league experience split between seven teams. During this time, he posted an ERA just south of 5 and finished with 19 more losses than wins. Can we bring Guy Conti back?

Who doesn’t love a ‘stache like that? And a name like Ricardo Bones? Priceless.

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MMO Fair or Foul: Mets Need Fewer Sourpusses And More Players Who Buy Into Offensive Philosophy Sat, 16 Nov 2013 16:42:15 +0000 fairorfoul

I came across this on MLBTR this morning:

The Mets are looking for players to buy into their offensive philosophy, and that means finding guys with discipline at the plate, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  That might help to explain why the free-swinging Daniel Murphy has found himself on the pages of MLBTR over the last week or so.

I headed over to Martino’s post after reading that, and immediately knew I was in store for something strange when I saw the title “The Mets Need Fewer Sourpusses.”

Sure enough, Martino makes his maiden voyage into MMO Fair or Foul

In Sandy Alderson’s previous three offseasons, the GM was shackled by budget constraints, and forced to choose from an undesirable pile of free agents.  In many cases, he did not choose well, signing guys who brought a sour vibe into the clubhouse, in some cases creating more trouble than was justified by their limited contributions.

marlon byrdIt began with catcher Ronny Paulino and reliever D.J. Carrasco in 2011; the former was uninterested in following game plans, and the latter drove the coaching staff crazy with frequent whining about his usage.  Subsequent years brought Jon Rauch’s unrelenting surliness and Frank Francisco’s unwillingness to pitch, along with attempts to dissuade youngsters from doing so.

Shaun Marcum was, well, not charming, and while Marlon Byrd arrived with a questionable reputation, he was generally a pleasant surprise in the clubhouse — save for what many Mets people saw as his overcoaching of teammates.

It is that latter point that the Mets want to address, in addition to bringing in more pleasant people. On every level of the organization up to major league hitting coach Dave Hudgens, Alderson’s staff has spent three years working to instill a hitting philosophy that stresses plate discipline and on-base percentage.  Agree or disagree with that view — many baseball folks criticize it for making hitters less aggressive, a characterization that proponents dispute — it is one that the GM insists on.

Players like Byrd and Daniel Murphy are good hitters, but operate in a mode that is far from Aldersonian.  Byrd is an aggressive swinger, unwilling or unable to draw many walks (his walk rate last year was a lowly 5.4 percent), and more than willing to encourage teammates to follow his own ideas while they worked pregame in the batting cage. That is one of the reasons the Mets did not pursue a reunion with the outfielder, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The Mets are open to trading Murphy for similar reasons.  Murphy has earned the respect of the front office by working to turn himself into a passable second baseman, but he is another aggressive hitter, whose style does not fit what the general manager, hitting coach, and organizational instructors teach.  This is one of the reasons that the team might be ready to move him.

Read the rest of this article here.

Well that was quite the mixed bag… Who knew that backstory on Marlon Byrd as well as all those other free agents that have come and gone. I thought Byrd’s coaching of the younger players was kind of a good thing, but I guess it didn’t sit well with the higher-ups.

But what bugs me most is the thought that Murphy could be shipped simply because he doesn’t comply with the program. As much as they say it’s not a one-size fits all approach, you read something like this and it makes you wonder just how much truth there is to that.

The way I see it, the Mets already have their hands full trying to replace the 40 homers they got from Byrd and also John Buck. That should be difficult enough to do. But then to also have to replace Murphy as well makes me wonder how they intend to replace all three and then begin to upgrade the offense on top of all that. Maybe Sandy has a few tricks up his sleeve…

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Puma: Mets Contemplating Adding Assistant Hitting Coach Wed, 13 Nov 2013 21:42:49 +0000 The Mets are “kicking around” the idea of adding an assistant hitting coach, saying Mike Puma of the New York Post via Twitter. Puma indicates however that nothing is imminent.

New York’s current hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, was brought back by the Mets along with the entire 2013 coaching staff for next season despite a year in which the Mets ranked 29th in the MLB in OPS with a .672 figure, ahead of only the Miami Marlins’ .627.

Dave Hudgens has been the Mets hitting coach since the 2011 season, previously holding the same position with the A’s in 1999 and again from 2003-2005.

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How Has Dave Hudgens Impacted The Mets’ Hitting Results? Mon, 14 Oct 2013 18:44:56 +0000 dave hudgens

Hodges14 asks…

Exactly what does a hitting coach get judged by? How do you measure whether or not he’s doing an effective job? I would think it’s things like improving the team’s overall batting average and reducing strikeouts, so why is Dave Hudgens coming back? There’s a better case to be made for firing Hudgens than there ever was for firing Howard Johnson. I just don’t understand the front office’s fixation and obsession with this guy and there seems to be an apparent lack of accountability.

Joe D. replies…

I took a quick look at how the Mets performed under Dave Hudgens in various offensive categories:

Batting Average

2011 – .264 (Ranked 2nd)

2012 – .249 (Ranked 10th)

2013 – .237 (Ranked 14th)

On-Base Percentage

2011 – .335 (Ranked 2nd)

2012 – .316 (Ranked 11th)

2013 – .306 (Ranked 14th)


2011 – 1,085 (Ranked 13th)

2012 – 1,250 (Ranked 7th)

2013 – 1,384 (Ranked 1st)

Based on those team averages and rankings, it’s true that the team has regressed under the approach being incorporated by Dave Hudgens. It’s not exactly something that can be fixed by having the team spending extra time in the batting cages either. Especially if they have bad habits or a bad approach to begin with.

I know that there’s a good portion of fans that believe hitting coaches and pitching coaches make no impact on a team either way. However, I find that to be a simplistic view that’s not really based on the reality of why teams have specific coaches with defined roles in the first place.

Many coaches go into a given season with 2-3 pet projects. That is working with players that they’d like to see an improved performance from.

We’ve heard before that Ike Davis, for example, was not very coachable and that Ruben Tejada was another player I’ve heard that about. So it would seem that Hudgens has been working personally with these two players in an effort to impact their games positively. Of course it never happened for either of them, so obviously Hudgens wasn’t really connecting with them or vice-versa.

When Marlon Byrd was asked this summer to give a reason for his remarkable comeback this season, he credited hard work and hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

So I’m gonna roll with the assumption that Hudgens is a lot more than a flesh and blood paperweight with a nice title.

With that out of the way and given the teams backsliding couple with regressions from 4-5 key components of the Mets lineup, Hudgens isn’t living up to his end of the bargain.

Does he deserve to be fired? That’s not for me to say, but he doesn’t have many success stories he can point to. I often wonder why Mets hitters don’t do things I see hitters on the Yankees, Braves and Phillies do like shorten up their swings with two strikes on them or just being better situational hitters in general. The Mets are one of the worst team in the majors when batting with runners in scoring position.

How much of that is Sandy Alderson’s fault and how much of the blame goes to Hudgens?

It’s very likely that both share some of the blame.

If I had to grade Hudgens’ based on his three years with the Mets, I’d give probably him a C-. But if I were to grade him solely on the 2013 season, he’s earned a solid D and maybe an F.

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MMO Mailbag: Does Dave Hudgens Deserve To Come Back Next Season? Tue, 01 Oct 2013 15:43:40 +0000 dave hudgens

JetsMets13 asks…

Do you think Dave Hudgens deserves to come back next season? It seems like every player does worse when he gets his hands on them. Look at what happened to Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada. They all did great in their rookie years and then got worse instead of better. Look at Travis, Lagares and Flores. They were all top players in the minors, but as soon as they settled in with the Mets they look like scared sheep at the plate. I know that hitting coaches aren’t the end all – be all, but where is the accountability with this team?

Tommy Rothman replies…

Interesting question.

First of all, the struggles of Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores can likely be attributed to the fact that they are facing Major League pitching, which is much more difficult to hit than Minor League pitching.

Ike Davis is the most confusing player in the league, in my opinion. He comes up from the minors with a great approach at the plate. Last year, he turned into an awful hitter before figuring it out and exploding in the second half… only to revert to his dreadful form in the first half this season. Ike seemed to be figuring it out after he got called up from the minors, which is promising. But can he consistently turn his talent into production? Not if he keeps changing his batting stance and hitting approach for no reason. I’m not sure that Ike is the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to hitting; I am sure that Hudgens has told him what he needs to work on, but he seems to often ignore all advice he receives.

Anyway, the Mets are obviously a bad team at the plate no matter how you look at it. Out of 30 teams, they rank 28th in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, 29th in slugging percentage, and 25th in home runs. Despite the fact that the organization preaches a patient approach at the plate, the Mets strike out more than all but 3 teams at the plate, and there are 11 teams that draw more walks than New York. Overall, the Mets are 23rd in runs scored. The Mets have seen over 24,000 pitches at the plate, which is 5th in the league. The patience is there. The production is not. Is their approach at the plate wrong? Is the coach responsible?

I do think the Mets need to be less patient. When the Tigers came to town, we watched them slaughter us behind their aggressive first-pitch swinging. The Mets, on the other hand, usually like to take a strike before attempting to hit the ball. They also frequently let pitches sail by on 3-1. These pitchers they are facing are the best pitchers in the world. If they know that all they need to do is throw a pitch in the strike zone, they can probably do it. Taking a strike does not work. I am against the organizational approach to hitting, and I think that part of the blame must fall on Dave Hudgens.

However, there is only so much you can do when your lineup is so weak. Ruben Tejada is a lot more likely to draw a walk than he is to shoot a double into the gap, so maybe patience is the right approach for him.

Sandy Alderson has promised significant steps to improve the roster. If the organization is being honest, then Hudgens will have much more talent to work with. I say we keep Dave around for one more year. If the lineup improves, and production increases, continue to keep him around. However, if production stalls despite the added talent, send him packing. And if the lineup doesn’t improve… send Alderson packing…

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Pitching Coach Dan Warthen Also Gets A 2-Year Deal Mon, 30 Sep 2013 18:03:53 +0000 Andy Martino of the Daily News is reporting that the Mets have given pitching coach Dan Warthen a two-year contract, according to front office sources.

Earlier today, Sandy Alderson confirmed that all coaches the coaches were being retained, but Warthen is the only one to receive a multi-year deal.

Warthen has been the Mets’ pitching coach since Jerry Manuel took over for Willie Randolph in 2008, but has worked on a series of one-year deals, until now. Martino also adds that he is also invited to participate in organizational meetings this week in Florida.

Wow, didn’t see that coming, but you know what?

He’s the only one, and that includes Collins too, that actually had great results this season on a performance level.

Matt Harvey was phenomenal, Zack Wheeler got through a rough start to finish on high note and is primed for a solid season in 2014, Dillon Gee delivered his best season ever, and once Niese returned from injury he was incredible.

Lets not forget Jeremy Hefner and the transformations of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang after terrible first starts.

In the bullpen. Bobby Parnell has a career year as a closer, and journeyman LaTroy Hawkins became a key piece as did rookie Scott Rice.

I’m okay with this… It’s Dave Hudgens I have the real problem with…

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Thoughts On Alderson And His Offseason Goals Sat, 28 Sep 2013 13:17:15 +0000 During last night’s 4-2 loss to the Brewers, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson joined Gary, Keith,and Ron in the SNY booth to discuss the  team’s 2013 season and what the plan might be going into the offseason.

I’m going to break this down into some more manageable posts and hone in on some of the things Sandy tried to covey, despite the overall vagueness of his end-of-year message to the fans.

Lets get right to it and a big thanks to Amazin Avenue who provides most of the quotes I’ll be referring to…

sandy alderson

Not happy, but we’ve got something to build on. I’ve always felt that from when I arrived here through about this point, with the expiration of some contracts, that we needed to acquire and develop talent, we had to, unfortunately, manage our payroll, and try to win some games—and I think in that order. I think going into next season, that order changes. And I’m really happy that Mets fans have been relatively patient with us on that basis.

If we were to take Sandy at his word, he says he’s unhappy – which is nothing new as this has become his typical diatribe every October. This time however, he wants us to believe that we are going to be rewarded for our patience, but how so?

He asserts that there have been four main tenets to the way he’s gone about his job of turning this team around. They are:

  1. Waiting for some contracts to come off the books.
  2. Acquiring and developing talent.
  3. Managing payroll.
  4. Winning “some” games.

We can eliminate the first thing he listed as all the bad contracts he inherited are off the books. The only players with remaining multi-year commitments are David Wright who has $127 million and seven years remaining on his deal, and lefthander Jon Niese who has three years and $21 million left on his deal, not including his two option years.

Winning “some” games is a throw-away because in the same interview he admits that projecting wins is an unknown quantity and he himself thought this team he constructed would be a winning team (really?) – it wasn’t. Also, if winning “some” games is his goal I object to how low he has set the bar. How about contending for a wild card, winning the division or winning some championships instead?

We are left with “acquiring and developing talent” and “managing payroll.” This might have been the most lucid and revealing message Alderson gave us all night.

He even reiterated that the order would be different this time, and in saying that he gave us the hint that managing payroll would be Job Number One.

Now that his top priority of slashing payroll and gutting most of the major league roster is complete, managing payroll is still paramount to him as we enter this next offseason  - the offseason that he allegedly would be able to spend. But as I’ve asked so many times this year, how much? How much is he willing to spend?

Validating what I’ve been saying almost all year long, a team insider told Adam Rubin of ESPN that the New York Mets are not expected to vigorously pursue any free agents with draft-pick compensation attached — whether the pick is protected or not.

This nullifies any concern over the protected pick as the Mets will hold a second round pick in the same regard as a first round pick. It also wipes out virtually all of the top names in free agency, which I never believed they would pursue anyway.

You have some daydreamers out there who are expecting our new core that includes Matt Harvey, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and one or two others to now be supplemented with major league talent to fill in the gaps so that we may usher in this glorious dynasty of sustainable championship baseball in 2014.

Sorry to break it to you, but this team is still years away from reaching that point.

This team, as currently constructed, has no offense and desperately needs at least two big if not huge bats. For those of you think things have improved on the offensive front, think again.

Lets look at some National League 15-team rankings:

.238 Batting Average:14th

.675 On-Base plus Slugging: 14th

1,371 Strikeouts: 1st

Those are the worst offensive numbers as whole since the 1992 season when Jeff Torborg presided over a 72-90 last place finish. And for all this talk of “The Approach” leading the league in strikeouts is quite the stigma on hitting coach Dave Hudgens in my opinion.

For those of you who think the bullpen has been vastly improved, it hasn’t been. The Mets rank 13th in bullpen ERA up from 15th in the NL in 2011 and 2012. That’s not the kind of improvement you exactly rave about.

This team has more gaps and holes to fill than ever before. Alderson addressed those concerns last night saying that he will be looking to upgrade at first base, shortstop, and backup catcher. Nary a word about the outfield which for now looks like Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

His payroll now stands at around $50-55 million including arbitration settlements and raises. That leaves roughly $45 million in spending if he wants to maintain a $100 million payroll. But I say that’s a pipe dream.

The red flags are already rampant in the leaks that are coming out. They duck questions about what the payroll budget will be for 2014 whenever a beat writer asks them. They never respond assertively when asked if the money from the Bay and Santana contracts will be reinvested in the team. They’ve already showed their cards and admitted they will have no interest in any free agent that would cost a pick.

So how will this current team transform into the championship caliber team we were all expecting in 2014 – year four of the Alderson Era?

Honestly, given my belief that Alderson will spend around half of that $45 million, or lets just say he’ll spend $25 million, Mets payroll will be around $80 million – $85 million tops. It will come with usual January caveat that he wants to save money in case he needs it to make mid-season additions – another famous Alderson tradition.

But please, don’t hang all of this on Sandy… Mets ownership still calls all the shots…

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Three Years Later And Mets Still Striking Out At Alarming Rates Fri, 20 Sep 2013 15:48:52 +0000 giants fans

Another loss, another dozen strikeouts for the New York Mets. This time the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner toyed with the Mets the way a cat would a mouse.

With the Mets at 1,299 strikeouts for the season (an average of 8.6 a game compared to 8.2 hits), it stands to reason a lot of pitchers have had their way with them this summer.

For all the talk of a lack of power, unquestionably the Mets’ primary offensive concern for hitting coach Dave Hudgens – assuming he comes back – is to focus on shaving down that whiff rate. No, make that hack at it wildly with an ax the way most of his hitters aimlessly flail at the plate.

Pause for a second to consider the carnage if the Mets had Ike Davis for a full season, and John Buck, and Marlon Byrd, and Lucas Duda, and David Wright. As it is, the Mets had two hitters with over 100 strikeouts – Byrd and Davis – and three more with over 90 – Buck, Duda and Murphy. Totally, they had seven with at least 75.

And, Murphy is supposed to be a contact hitter. Still, there’s time for Duda and him to break 100. It will take some doing for Juan Lagares (87) and Wright to do it. Lagares, for all the raves he’s drawn, he shouldn’t get that many Ks in just 112 games played.

As the Mets rallied in the ninth inning Wednesday night, manager Terry Collins raved about how his team worked the count, but doing so usually leaves the hitters with two strikes.

There’s no leeway after that. Wednesday was the exception; Thursday’s loss however, has usually been the norm.

There are a lot of theories why strikeouts are so prevalent in today’s game, usually falling on the emphasis on hitting home runs.


Davis, when he was here, said, “I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs, and strikeouts are part of the game.’’

Did you notice how well that worked out for him?

The strikeout ratio with Mets’ hitters is alarming. If strikeouts were hits, consider these numbers:

Mike Baxter: .217 strikeout average/.191 batting average. SKINNY: He was the starting right fielder in the beginning, but has always been more effective as a pinch-hitter. As the Mets look to upgrade their outfield, he won’t stick with those numbers.

Andrew Brown: .296 strikeout average/.237 batting average. SKINNY: Just not acceptable if he wants to play part time, let alone full time. Has some power, but could produce more with better plate discipline.

John Buck: .269 strikeout average/.215 batting average. SKINNY: Gets a partial pass because of 15 homers and 60 RBI, despite a dreadful post-April slump. Also, because of what he gave the pitching staff, which is underrated. Still, consider what his run production would have been with a reduction of empty at-bats.

Marlon Byrd: .284 strikeout average/.285 batting average. SKINNY: In today’s game, an equal average is passable if there’s an element of run production, which there was with Byrd (21 homers/71 RBI).

Travis d’Arnaud: .212 strikeout average/.163 batting average: SKINNY: There hasn’t been enough of a window for him, but the first impression isn’t good. The Mets still don’t know what they have in d’Arnaud. As of now, Anthony Recker has given them more.

Matt den Dekker: .354 strikeout average/.250 batting average: SKINNY: There’s no doubting his defense, but the Mets wonder about his run production. His window has been too small to make a decision. He has speed and as he showed Wednesday makes things happen on the bases. He just needs to get on.

Ike Davis: .318 strikeout average/.205 batting average. SKINNY: That ratio says it all, especially when there’s little run production. Until his strikeouts significantly drop and on-base percentage (.326) improves, he’s not what the Mets need. For over $3.1 million, he’s no bargain.

Lucas Duda: .310 strikeout average/.232 batting average. SKINNY: Has not provided the run production (14 homers/31 RBI) to justify 91 strikeouts in 293 at-bats. His .351 on-base percentage is better, but there’s clearly something wrong with his plate discipline. Of his 68 hits, 29 have gone for extra bases, which is a good ratio, but he doesn’t make enough contact. His on-base percentage masks that deficiency.

Wilmer Flores: .222 strikeout average/.211 batting average. SKINNY: It took awhile for Flores to get here, and it will take significantly better than that for him to stay next year – regardless of what position he plays. Flores has five walks to go along with his 20 strikeouts, a ratio that should be reversed.

Juan Lagares: .242 strikeout average/.251 batting average. SKINNY: Way too many strikeouts for a young player, showing lack of knowledge of the strikezone and opposing players. Also showing lack of discipline.

Daniel Murphy: .145 strikeout average/.281 batting average. SKINNY: For his reputation as a contact hitter with plate discipline, Murphy’s 30 walks are not acceptable, and neither is his .315 on-base percentage. In comparison to Davis and Duda, I’d rather have Murphy hitting in the middle of the order where he could have more RBI opportunities. That is, unless the Mets add a bat in the offseason.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: .336 strikeout average/.189 batting average. SKINNY: He made a good first impression, but has been a bust since. Injuries are just a part of the story. He has little plate discipline with 32 strikeouts to 18 hits. Lagares and Matt den Dekker have clearly moved ahead of him.

Omar Quintanilla: .223 strikeout average/.227 batting average. SKINNY: No run production to speak of and is a throwback to the good field-no hit shortstops of the Bud Harrelson era. However, filled a huge void when Ruben Tejada went down.

Josh Satin:  .290 strikeout average/.285 batting average. SKINNY: Is supposed to be a contact hitter, but if he struck out less he might warrant more playing time.

Ruben Tejada: .115 strikeout average/.202 batting average. SKINNY: All right, injuries were a part of his problem, but there was a definite drop-off. He’s had a miserable season, compounded by breaking his leg Wednesday night. Unless convinced there is an attitude change found in Las Vegas, the Mets will need to upgrade at shortstop.

Jordany Valdespin: .210 strikeout average/.188 batting average. SKINNY: Call this a parting shot at Valdespin. There were productive moments from him, but not enough to warrant a full time job.

Eric Young: .175 strikeout average/.248 batting average. SKINNY: Has 31 stolen bases, but would be pushing 40, if not more, with a .270 average and a spike in his 34 walks. With his speed, Young should be bunting more and slapping the ball on the ground. He has resolved the leadoff situation, but needs to improve greatly.

David Wright: .188 strikeout percentage/.309 batting average. SKINNY: Has 77 strikeouts and would have cleared 100 had he not gone on the disabled list. His strikeout average has been high by his standards, but with a .391 on-base percentage and .904 OPS he more than compensates. He hopes to be activated for Friday’s game in Philadelphia.

Overall, the Mets have more strikeouts than hits, and less than 500 walks to go with their 1,299 strikeouts. They have scored 588 runs compared to giving up 589. Philosophy? What philosophy? The bare numbers reflect the season, but there’s more to consider.

Sure, Davis like to hit homers. What player doesn’t? But, his 101 strikeouts, and everybody else’s, represent empty at-bats. Occasionally, a strikeout can be a positive, as in a 10-pitch at-bat that raises the pitch count, but outside of that, it produces nothing.

Better plate discipline would result in more walks and hits – which is a chance to score runs – and more sacrifice flies, which drives in runs. It also advances runners into scoring position, and in the case of a fielder’s choice, it adds another base runner.

What does a strikeout add?

I am old school and don’t follow all the new numbers, such as WAR, but baseball is a very simple game and has been for over a century.

The object is to hit the ball and do something, and all too often the Mets don’t. There are only 27 outs in a game and they are to be regarded as currency. When you look at the Mets’ strikeouts in the analysis of games played, their whiffs equal 48 games of doing nothing at the plate.

An oversimplification? Not really when you consider a 68-84 record. In this era of numbers, their strikeout numbers scream the loudest.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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Is Collins Sending His Team The Right Message? Fri, 13 Sep 2013 15:17:53 +0000 terry-collins

New York Mets manager Terry Collins has recently been speaking with a sense of urgency we haven’t heard regularly this season.

With the Mets in the midst of losing 10 of their last 12 games, it can be hard to ascertain whether Collins’ intent is to spark his team with the allure of 2014 jobs or deflect attention of another lost season from himself.

Several times this summer I advocated an extension for Collins, and still believe so. However, recent comments come across as him throwing his young team and hitting coach Dave Hudgens under the bus, something a manager can’t do if he doesn’t want to lose his team.

Collins’ latest buzzword is “adjustments,’’ and that’s a direct reflection on Hudgens’ ability to teach.

“You’ve got to make adjustments,’’ Collins told reporters after the Mets were shut out for the second time in the series. “You can’t keep thinking you’re going to get balls to pull, or try to go up there and pull every pitch. … [You have to] realize what the opposing pitcher is doing to get you out, and try to come up with a plan to make an adjustment at the plate and put the bat on the ball.’’

That’s either saying his hitters are clueless or haven’t been taught properly by Hudgens. There didn’t appear that much angst with Ike Davis earlier this season, although there was some noise about Lucas Duda taking too much and Ruben Tejada hitting the ball too much in the air.

The Mets’ stated offensive approach coming out of spring training was to be patient, work the count and swing at your pitch. There’s been a disconnect in there somewhere.

“I know they’re young. That’s all part of it,” Collins said. “We want to see some guys get better. And part of that getting better is being able to gather yourself on the side, and get in the batter’s box, and put a good at-bat on.”

Collins said there are jobs to be had and it isn’t hard to figure where he’s talking about: first base is between Davis and Duda; shortstop is open; and there’s room in the outfield.

“You’d think some of these guys would grab the opportunity that’s in front of them because of the injury issues on our club to say, Here’s my chance to show I’m a major league player,” Collins said. “And we’re not seeing it. We’re not seeing it at this moment, I can tell you.”

Collectively, Collins said the Mets are starting to feel sorry for themselves.

“And I will not stand for that. Not in this clubhouse, not in this league,” Collins said. “You don’t feel sorry for yourself in this league. Nobody feels sorry for you in the game. Our guys in that room, because a lot of them are young, they better learn that lesson real fast. Because if they’re going to play here, they better learn how to bounce back.”

That aspect of the game is mental and psychological, and a large part of that development falls on Collins. Part of his job when it comes to rookies and younger players is to put them in position to succeed and give positive reinforcement, but that doesn’t always happen here.

Players have played multiple positions, and some in which they are uncomfortable. These guys are smart enough to know their futures are on the line. They don’t have to be reminded of it. There’s enough pressure in this sport without the manager adding more.

There’s a fine line behind telling players the importance of a situation and crushing their confidence, and Collins has danced on it.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong and the problem is the players just aren’t good enough to begin with. If that’s the case, threatening them to get better isn’t going to work.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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Is Juan Lagares An Everyday Center Fielder? Thu, 22 Aug 2013 02:50:49 +0000 juan lagares


Mets righthander Dillon Gee credits his improved performance to his defense because he doesn’t have to be afraid to pitch to contact, he especially singles out Juan Lagares.

“It gives you confidence to keep attacking because you know you’ve got guys out there that are playing hard and making all the plays for you,” Gee said. ”Juan tracks down everything out there in centerfield. It helps having that. Other than that, I’m throwing the ball probably the best I’ve really ever thrown it.”

Now after pimping Juan Lagares on MMO for the last two years, you didn’t think I’d let yesterday’s incredible defensive performance go unchecked did you? Check out one of his many amazing grabs in yesterday’s win over Minnesota…

I smile whenever I see Lagares make plays like that and it reminds me of when I asked the producers at SNY and their minor league analyst Toby Hyde last March why they spend so much airtime on Brandon Nimmo and yet none on Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero. “Because average Met fans don’t care about Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero… They just want to know about Nimmo, Wheeler and D’Arnaud.”

I bet they’d love to take those words back…

On Monday, Joel Sherman of the NY Post spoke to a baseball official who compared Juan Lagares to Michael Bourn:

Lagares has really impressed me, and our scouts and I think he’s a much better value — and very likely a better player than Bourn for 2013-2016.

He isn’t as polished right now, but he may be the best defensive center fielder in the NL right now with apologies to Andrew McCutchen.

He’s a young, cheap, high-upside piece for the future. I would rather have Lagares through 2016 than Bourn independent of the money because the former has more upside and is younger and will continue to improve.

Actually, that was a quote from me back in April – Nah, just kidding, I only called him the best defensive outfielder in the entire Mets system back then…

I love how some of the fans I follow on Twitter laughed when I said he was better than Matt den Dekker, and now these same people compare him to Andruw Jones, Tommie Agee and Carlos Beltran…. (Note to SNY: It’s Tommie not Tommy)

I’m not the least bit worried about his bat… He’s young and you can see him making adjustments and working things out. After hitting the ground running in the month of June and then slumping, he stepped in closer to the plate and responded with a .353 average in July. He’s now seeing a healthy diet of inside pitches as they try to back him off the plate, and Lagares has slumped badly in August batting .227. But he’s made another adjustment after some time in the cage with Dave Hudgens and is now 4-for-12 in his last three games and also got robbed of a couple of hits in that span.

Also this from ESPN’s Mark Simon:

Juan Lagares had a great game on the defensive side in Target Field with a couple of nifty catches, one of which should be under strong consideration for a No. 1 Web Gem from Baseball Tonight. The Mets entered Monday with the most No. 1 Web Gems of any team with nine.

Lagares, with 20, ranks second among major-league center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved. That measures ability to turn batted balls into outs and the deterrent value of throwing arms. Only former Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez has more (27).

I wrote Mark and added that Gomez had played 400 more innings than Lagares and had over 140 more fielding chances. Lagares could easily be the league leader if Terry Collins has simply stayed out of his way and played him…

At 24 and with nothing but upside ahead of him, Lagares has cemented himself in centerfield and expect Terry Collins to start utilizing some of his great speed at the top of the order before this season ends. As I’ve said before, the Mets have a lot of things they need to fix in the upcoming offseason, but centerfield isn’t one of them.

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Mets vs Padres: D’Arnaud, Flores, Lagares In Tonight’s Future Laden Lineup Sat, 17 Aug 2013 19:21:39 +0000 travis-d'arnaud

Mets at Padres • 8:40 PM • Petco Park

RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-2, 2.22) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (8-10, 5.80)

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Starting Lineup

  1. Eric Young, Jr. – LF
  2. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  3. Marlon Byrd – RF
  4. Ike Davis – 1B
  5. Wilmer Flores – 3B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  7. Juan Lagares – CF
  8. Omar Quintanilla – SS
  9. Jenrry Mejia – RHP

Game Notes

  • Marlon ByrdIke Davis and Daniel Murphy homered as the Mets beat San Diego, 5-2, Friday night. Byrd produced his 19th long ball, one shy of matching his career high, which he achieved in 2009 with the Texas Rangers. Anthony Recker, whose playing time is above to nosedive with d’Arnaud’s arrival, went 3-for-3 with a walk in the victory.
  • Jonathon Niese struck out nine—six of those coming in the first two innings—and allowed a run and six hits in six innings, leading the Mets to a 5-2 decision over the Padres on Friday night. Niese has a 3-2 record with a 2.04 ERA in five starts against the Padres.
  • Jenrry Mejia, who will start Saturday against the Padres, has worked at least 5 1/3 innings in each of his four starts this season. Mejia, who has 22 strikeouts and three walks in 24 1/3 innings, suffered a loss in his last outing, a 4-2 setback to the Dodgers on Aug. 12 at Dodger Stadium. Mejia will make his first start against the Padres. In two relief appearances against them, he allowed a hit in two scoreless innings.
  • Prized catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud is due to make his major league debut today as the Mets look to make it three straight wins against the San Diego Padres. D’Arnaud hit .400 (8-for-20) with one homer, four RBIs and nine walks in seven games since rejoining Triple-A Las Vegas. He had broken the first metatarsal in his left foot on a foul ball while catching for the 51s on April 17. Sandy Alderson suggested d’Arnaud could remain in the big leagues after Buck’s three-day paternity leave expires if the prospect performs well during the cameo.
  • Sandy Alderson said Tommy John surgery could be a possibility for injured right-hander Jeremy Hefner. He has received two exams on his right elbow last week — one of which revealed a partially torn MCL — and is scheduled for a third on Monday. Tommy John is usually associated with UCL tears, but Hefner may have his MCL replaced with a similar surgery.
  • Juan Lagares didn’t start but appeared late as a defensive replacement. Lagares has been struggling at the plate, going hitless in his last 14 at-bats. “He’s been scuffling. He did some things on the field (Friday). Dave is just trying to get him more calm,” Collins said, referring to hitting coach Dave Hudgens. “I just thought one day would certainly help him.” Lagares is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and is batting .210 in 14 games this month. In his last 10 games, Lagares is 9-for-44 (.205).
  • Wilmer Flores should return to the starting lineup Saturday for the first time since twisting his right ankle in Monday’s game at Dodger Stadium. Flores tested the balky ankle running before Friday’s game at Petco Park. His only appearance since Monday came two days later, when he had a pinch-hit single in the ninth at L.A. and then departed for a pinch runner.

Game Preview

The Mets look for the series victory today in San Diego as they play game 3 of 4. So far the Mets have done well against the Padres and last night’s game featured three Mets homers (Byrd, Davis, Murphy) and a nice outing from Niese. Recker had a nice day at the plate too, going 3-3 with a run. That being said, a new catcher is coming to town tonight for the Mets as Travis d’Arnaud looks to be on the major league roster for tonight’s game. Anyway, Jenrry Mejia gets the nod for the for the Amazin’s tonight as he faces off with Edison Volquez.

Jenrry Mejia is 1-2 over 4 starts this season with a 2.22 ERA while pitching 24.1 innings and striking out 22 batters. In his short career, Mejia has faced the Padres twice, both in relief and both for one inning a piece. He’s allowed 2 hits and no runs. Because of the limited time in front of Mejia, the Padres have really limited stats against him:

Cedeno 0-1
Hundley 0-1
Denorfia 0-1

The Mets bats get to see Edison Volquez who is 8-10 over 25 starts this year with a 5.80 ERA. In that stretch he has pitched 136.2 innings, struck out 111 batters and has allowed a league leading 88 earned runs (he also leads the league in starts). He started August off on the right foot allowing only 2 ER over 6.0 innings but in his last start he allowed 8 ER over 4.1 innings. His first start of the season was against the Mets where he allowed 6 ER over 3.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Edison:

Byrd 4-11
Young 2-9, 2B
Murphy 2-7
Baxter 2-6, 2B, HR
Turner 2-6, 2B

Lets Go Mets!

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How The Mets Almost Derailed The Career Of Juan Lagares Fri, 16 Aug 2013 12:17:06 +0000 juan lagares

In a chat for ESPN Insider, baseball analyst Keith Law fielded a couple of questions about the Mets including one on Juan Lagares.

Keith Law: Pretty darn good defender, better than I’d ever heard (never saw him before he reached the majors). He was 10th on my Mets prospect rankings before 2012, so he was on the radar, but spent about a decade in Savannah before he finally hit enough to move up the ladder.

Joe D: Law is right in that Lagares spent a ton of time in Savannah that included one full season and parts of three others, but there is a backstory to this that needs to be told. At the age of 17, Lagares was playing shortstop for the Mets’ Dominican Summer League. The following season at 18, he was skipped three levels (GCL, Kingsport, Brooklyn) and began the year in Single-A Savannah – a jump that he was clearly not ready for, and he was the youngest player in the league. Apparently Tony Bernazard, who made that call, was bent on rushing this raw talent up the food chain as quickly as he could. It was a bad call. Lagares remained in Savannah for the entire season and batted a disappointing .210/.262/.317 in 304 plate appearances.

In 2008 and 2009, Lagares was now being tossed all over the place, making stops at the Gulf Coast League (Rookie Ball), Brooklyn (Low-A) and eventually two more stopovers in Savannah. By the time he was ready to be promoted to Advanced-A St. Lucie, the decision was made to convert him from a shortstop to an outfielder because he was being blocked by Jose Reyes. He started a fourth season at Savannah being tested at all three outfield positions where they decided he was best suited for center field.

Ironically, he’d be moved to a corner outfield position once Matt den Dekker came along, even though many outside the organization believed Lagares was the more superior center fielder.

Lagares was mishandled almost from the very beginning and it proved to be an impingement to his development and stunted his ability to have a smooth and natural progression through the system.

In 2011, Lagares finally had his breakthrough season and batted .338/.380/.494 for Advanced-A St. Lucie and then after a promotion to Double-A Binghamton he actually improved, posting a .370/.391/.512 slash in 170 plate appearances. The rest as they say, is history.

Since his promotion to the majors in April of this season, Lagares has enjoyed steady growth at the plate and has made adjustments along the way while working with hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

After batting .234/.255/.340 in sporadic play that included week-long stretches on the bench, Lagares has finally cemented himself as the Mets regular centerfielder and he has responded with a .294/.336/.500 showing in the second half. As an everyday player and fixture in the lineup he even earned himself a National League Player of the Week honor in late July – a month that saw him post a team best .937 OPS.

Defensively, the 24-year old centerfielder is rated among the best in the majors and leads the National League with 12 outfield assists and is second in DRS (defensive runs saved) at his position despite only logging 57 games as a starter.

The Mets will have many questions going into the 2013 offseason, but center field isn’t one of them.

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A Day At The Cages With Murphy And Hudgens Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:00:19 +0000  clinic 1

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their batting glove, the executives at Franklin Sports held a celebratory private batting clinic with Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, and team batting coach, Dave Hudgens, for a few contest winners and a number of media representatives. This one hour batting session gave viewers a first-hand chance to learn from professional ballplayers in the private facilities they often inhabit.

Team officials greeted the attendees just within the doors of the Hodges entrance. Once inside, the group was guided through the stadium’s hallways to the team’s private batting cage. After a brief introduction, Murphy and Hudgens made their grand entrance.

Daniel Murphy has arguably been one of the Mets best hitters over the past few years, with a career slash line of .288/.332/.420 and a batting average in the top five of team rankings over the last three years.

Dave Hudgens has been the Mets hitting coach since replacing Howard Johnson in 2011. He briefly played professionally in 1983, appearing in six games for the Oakland Athletics. He would go on to work as the hitting coach for the Athletics in 1999, and then again from 2003-2005 before coming to the Mets in 2011.

They began right away, introducing the audience to many key elements of a swing and all the work that goes into maintaining its efficiency. They detailed many of it’s critical components, and touched on the many factors that contribute to a successful at-bat.

“There are certain things that every hitter does that is probably the same. You’ve got to have good balance, you’ve got to have good head position, you’ve got to see the ball well,” Hudgens said.

And even though the focus of the clinic was how to successfully swing a bat, the two ballplayers made sure to speak to the kids about the amount of work it takeclinic3s to thrive in the major leagues.

“That’s the main objective, to take good at bats in the game. That’s why they come in here to do their work,” Hudgens said.

“It all starts long before 7:10,” Murphy said referring to the start time of most night games.

But the work has a reason. The many hours spent within the cage are for the very purpose of locking down mechanics and making them feel almost instinctual.

“When you get to the game, if you trust your swing, hopefully all you have to do is look for the ball,” Murphy said. “And that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

After the introduction and brief preliminary lessons, Murphy transitioned into actual training. Picking up a wooden bat to take some hacks and show onlookers the many steps that go into his swing.

“I really want to make sure I fire my hands right through the ball,” he said.

As he spoke, he would occasionally pause, focusing himself on crushing another ball to the back of the cage, before beginning his speech again. He would describe a mechanic of his swing and then demonstrate it to the audience before him. After each blast, Hudgens would replace the ball and adjust the tee, adding to the lesson and allowing Murphy to focus on the demonstration.

Murphy’s many tips were spoken simply as he attempted to guide the children through the incredibly complex nature of a successful swing.

“Everybody’s swing is going to be different. A swing is your personality. It’s like your DNA, and we all have different DNA.” Murphy said.

“Every hitter is a little bit different, every hitter’s mechanics are a little bit different” followed Hudgens.

Eventually, the clinic transitioned into a front-toss session between Hudgens and Murphy where the two ran through the specifics of successfully hitting a moving ball.clinic2

Hudgens seated himself behind the L screen and lofted balls gently at Murphy who slammed them towards a section of the cage. The two would pause after every toss and analyze every minor detail of the swing.

“There’s three areas where you’ll see the ball. You’ll see it out of the hand… You gotta see it in the middle area ’cause that’s where these guys will start to see a little bit of spin… and then as you track the ball into the hitting zone,” Hudgens said.

The event concluded with a brief hitting session where the children took swings at soft tosses thrown by Hudgens before a group photo wrapped it all together.

Murphy and Hudgens were knowledgeable and gracious hosts. The two seemed legitimately interested in helping the next generation of ballplayers develop and were excited to be the ones to help. The young Murphy played the part of a relatable role model, while Hudgens sat back as the grizzled veteran, positions they both filled perfectly. At the end of the day, both men did an exemplary job of leading these kids while giving them valuable advice for their future playing careers.

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This Time – It’s About Mechanics Not Excuses With Ike Tue, 25 Jun 2013 13:31:26 +0000 In 2012, Ike Davis had valley fever.

In 2012, Ike Davis was rusty because he had missed so much playing time in 2011.

In 2012, the hitting approach impacted Ike Davis negatively.

In 2012, Ike Davis didn’t have enough lineup protection or he was shuffled around the order too much.

In 2012, Ike Davis should have been sent to the minors but instead he was allowed to “work things out” at the big league level, and that move allowed fans and coaches to believe Davis was magically fixed.

Sure, Davis showed significant signs of improvement during the later part of 2012. Realistically though, he wasn’t fixed in 2012. He was still striking out and hitting for a low average. For some reason we decided to accept that type of performance merely because he 27 HR from June 1st on.

Regardless of the power he found, he was still a .252 hitter from June 1st on. I’m not sure when that became acceptable from a guy we all expected to be a top 3 1B in the National League – but I’m done giving Davis the benefit of the doubt.

Davis was able to use every excuse in the book to explain his embarrassing 2012 season, and he took those opportunities in February with The Star-Ledger.

“I’m definitely more ready to play this year, I’m not worried about my ankle. I didn’t miss a year. I’m definitely in a baseball flow so I’m excited.”

“Every time you come back from an injury and you don’t do very well for a long period of time, you’re like ‘Did I lose what I once had?’” Davis said. “You start second-guessing yourself. Then, obviously, I started feeling better and I said, ‘OK, I can do this again. I didn’t lose my talent or lose my skill.”

Hitting coach Dave Hudgens even joined in,

“He’s capable of doing that, he didn’t have that same rhythm and timing that he was so used to in the game because he was off so long. When you’re off that long and then you come back and try to do the same thing, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.”

And now fast forward to 2013, according to WFAN’s Craig Carton Ike Davis who was supposed to be a cornerstone player for the franchise gets angry at the organization for not calling him up after a few good games in Las Vegas?

This organization went above and way beyond what they should have done to protect Ike Davis. He should have been sent down in May last year and in April of this year after déjà vu struck. But after 13 Triple-A games, Davis thinks he deserves to be back ahead of Zach Lutz?

Whether the story is 100% accurate or not, the truth is Ike Davis lost his opportunity to be an everyday 1B with no questions asked. He’s not the guy we all thought he’d be. Top 1B don’t need to go to AAA at age 26 to fix a swing, not an approach. It has nothing to do with the boogey man known as “the approach”.

According to Terry Collins, Davis isn’t working on philosophy – he’s working on mechanics with Las Vegas hitting coach George Greer.

“They are trying to calm the hitch down, not have it so big. They are trying to keep his upper body back, behind the baseball a little more, keep his head in a little bit better. His stride has got him to where he is kind of lunging, so they’ve got him on the plate a little bit better. Keeping his front hip in, instead of having it fly, which sometimes can cause his shoulders to come off the ball. The grip of the bat has helped him free up his hands a little bit.”

I am tired of all of the excuses, and anybody who thinks Davis deserves any more than what he’s been given. He has proven to me that he is not the player we thought he was. He’s shown me that he’s just another Gaby Sanchez. A player who did just enough to make us think he’d be around for years to come.

The Mets and all of us thought we had a 1B for the next several years to build around, and until I see Davis put together a 162 game season worth talking about and not yelling about, that 1B’s name is either Wilmer Flores or Lucas Duda.

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Mets In Danger Of Becoming MLB’s Worst Hitting Team Fri, 07 Jun 2013 15:05:54 +0000 dave hudgensWith the Miami Marlins rolling into Citi Field tonight and the memory of their sweep over the Mets still fresh in our minds, here is some added incentive for the Mets to come out swinging this evening.

Entering tonight’s contest, the Mets are hitting .228 as a team, baseball’s second-worst average. The only team worse is… wait for it… the Miami Marlins, who are just one-thousandth of a percentage behind with .227 average.

Andrew Keh of the New York Times, spoke to Mets pitching coach Dave Hudgens who says that Mets hitters shouldn’t panic.

“I think we’re much better than the number,” said Hudgens. “But it’s difficult to get it back up quickly. You can’t panic. You need to grind it out little by little to get to where you need to be.”

“When guys are struggling, they chase hits, trying to get their averages up, because they don’t like to see .215 on the board. But when you do that, you lose your approach, and when you lose your approach you swing at bad pitches, and when you do that, you become an out. And that’s what we’ve been doing.”

You all know my feelings on Hudgens and his approach that has yet to bear any fruit. The Mets have only one qualified batter that is hitting over .280 – Daniel Murphy, who’s batting .290 for the season. That’s it.

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