Mets Merized Online » David Wright http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:43:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Bring In The Fences, Bring On The Controversy… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bring-in-the-fences-bring-on-the-controversy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/bring-in-the-fences-bring-on-the-controversy.html/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167869 curtis granderson

As was reported on Tuesday by Kristie Ackert of the Daily News, the Mets are poised to renovate the dimensions of Citi Field for the second time in four years. Once again the team plans to bring in the fences, this time concentrating their efforts on the right-center and right field walls.

Why do this, you may ask. Citi Field ranked 7th in home runs surrendered in 2014 and it was tied for 8th in 2013. So over the past few seasons, Citi has been neither hitter nor pitcher friendly. So what’s to be gained?

The easy answer is that despite Sandy Alderson’s assertion that these changes aren’t designed to tailor the ballpark to any particular players, it is. Both David Wright and Curtis Granderson stand to benefit the most. Is that the right thing to do? Reaction, as is always the case with the Mets’ fan base, has been mixed. There are two prevailing arguments against moving the fences in again.

The most popular opinion is that doing so will adversely impact the Mets young pitching staff. This one has it’s merits. Of course, if the new Citi Field dimensions would promote more home runs for the home team, it’s reasonable to assume the same for the visitors. However, isn’t it also reasonable to think that the better pitching staff will prevail regardless of the dimensions?

Johnny Cueto didn’t seem to struggle in posting a 2.25 ERA despite half his starts coming in the band box that is Great American Ball Park. The same can be said for Cole Hamels and his 2.46 ERA playing in the small confines of Citizens Bank Park. Does this mean that Mets pitchers won’t be negatively impacted? Of course not. But it does illustrate that very good pitchers are just as capable of putting up excellent numbers even in stadiums that are regarded as hitter friendly.

The second and most frustrating argument by those against the changes is simply this…Get better players! That view is often partnered with the oh so popular, “opposing teams didn’t struggle to hit home runs at Citi Field.”

Although that may be true (71 vs. 59), getting better players isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. Power is in steep demand. Only eleven players mustered 30 or more home runs in 2014. Given the current Mets ownership and front office combination, such players aren’t as likely to find their way to Queens as they once were. So why not take steps to assist those players who are already here?

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There’s also another added benefit to bringing in the walls. The Mets are still trying to overcome the mental stigma attached to Citi Field since its construction.The park is still in their heads and many players openly admit to how difficult Citi Field is for hitters. And don’t think for one second that those notions wouldn’t play into a free agent’s decision making process in the future. So while it may not be this Winter, should the Mets ever re-enter the big-ticket free agent market again, it would be beneficial if their ballpark wasn’t working against them.

If it’s a more immediate impact you prefer, think about what a shorter porch would mean to the outfield defense. Juan Lagares could play a few more steps in, thus allowing him to steal even more hits in shallow center field. An aging Curtis Granderson – or some other acquisition in the not so distant future – would have that much less room to cover in right making limited range a lesser concern. Assuming tour pitchers can continue to keep the ball in the building, it’s very likely many of those balls that dropped in will now be tracked down. I realize that this too works both ways, however, with outfield defense being one of our strengths, the Mets may benefit more than the visiting teams in this scenario.

As is the case with most things baseball, winning cures all ills. Will a smaller Citi Field lead to more wins? I can’t predict the future, but I’m confident that it’s more likely to help the franchise than hurt it in the long run.

The Mets have yet to make a playoff appearance, or even post a winning season since Citi Field opened. The ballpark is gorgeous, but it has been a burden to many of the team’s best players. If making these alterations helps their performance or even their psyche, it’s something the team brass had to consider and it now appears they’ll move forward with the plan. Citi Field is changing again. Hopefully, it’s not the biggest change we see this winter, but on its own it was the right call.

Like what you read? Hit me up on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.

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MMO Trade Target: Starlin Castro, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167295 Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

The Mets have a solid foundation of pitching to go with a young core of position players, many of whom emerged as stars in 2014.  The team is no longer looking to rebuild, their disenchanted fan base has high expectations and a New York based franchise stocked with farm talent should have no trouble making a high impact acquisition in the offseason. In all reality, the winter spending is questionable, although team COO Jeff Wilpon did state that payroll flexibility is available going into 2015.  Regardless, the Mets minor league system is so rich in power pitching that almost any team should be open to making the right deal.  It makes more sense to seek out the best talent in the league first before signing someone out of a weak free agent class.

If the Mets are going to part ways with blue chip prospects, it should net a return that will hurdle the team into contention.  The player should be young, approaching the peak of their power range and under a team friendly contract for multiple years. The “Red Sox Model” of investing in mid-premium talent works when your home ballpark turns routine fly-outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, but Citi Field’s dimensions don’t offer that luxury. Enter Starlin Castro.

The Cubs’ 24 year old shortstop is a flat out stud at his position and his 2014 performance was certainly worthy of his third All-Star selection. Among all qualified major league shortstops, Starlin was 1st in batting average (.292), 2nd in OBP (.339), 3rd in SLG (.438), OPS (.777) and wOBA (.341). If you look at the list of qualified shortstops under the age of 30, Castro is number one in all those categories.  

In 134 games (season shortened by a sprained ankle), he posted 14 home runs (5th) and 65 RBI’s (7th). He played 161 games in 2013 and 162 in 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in those figures if he’d played a full season.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets struggled to hit the ball with men on base this season and it was undoubtedly the difference in a long list of close games that resulted in missing the playoffs for an 8th straight season. Castro’s bat has the stats to qualify him as a difference maker in this category. For his career (2010-2014), he has a (.297) batting average and a (.342) OBP when men are on base.

Equally important is the fact that his production doesn’t dip at Citi Field. It’s rare for any player not wearing a Nationals uniform to maintain their home field production in Flushing, so how does Castro stack up?  Starlin played his first game at Citi Field in 2011 and has posted encouraging numbers there since. His career (.304) batting average and (.429) slugging percentage at Citi deviates in an upward direction from his overall career numbers, but only slightly, and certainly not enough to be considered skewed.  His ability to hit for average with plus power in Queens should be the most relevant stat line of them all.

The cost is where the debate lies. The asking price in assets is going to be steep and it should be, Castro is a top young talent at a premium position for a relatively cheap price. The five years and $43 million left on his very team friendly contract comes with a one-year option for 2020, when he’ll only be 30.

The Cubs aren’t going to settle for a straight up one-for-one trade because that would be a clear signal that GM Theo Epstein is unfit for his job. Realistically, they’ll want some combination of a highly touted front end starter (Zack Wheeler/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard) and a not quite elite, but still top prospect (Rafael Montero/Steven Matz). The Mets might be able to work a Kevin Plawecki into the conversation in order to take one of the top end starters off the table, but the Cubs aren’t totally devoid at catcher and they’re deep at every other position on the field, so it’ll likely come down to strictly pitching.

The Cubs’ bullpen ranked 15th in ERA and gave up the 8th most earned runs in the majors this season, so a top end reliever could be a piece, with a front of the rotation starter, to push a deal  over the top. But that depends on the value Chicago will get initially. For instance, any deal that includes Matz as the second piece instead of Montero is probably where the Mets will end their offer.

My Take

It’s not just the production Castro would bring, but the attention he would take off of David Wright, who desperately needs to revitalize his output after an injury riddled season that included a number of career lows. Having Starlin in the #2 hole with Lucas Duda cleaning up behind him would create a lot of opportunities for David, who has carried this offense plenty of times before. There’s lots of time left to evaluate all the options the Mets have, but if Sandy Alderson is going to acquire a proven top talent at shortstop, Castro is where the conversation should start.

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Everything Hinges On Wright Returning To All Star Form http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/everything-hinges-on-wright-returning-to-all-star-form.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/everything-hinges-on-wright-returning-to-all-star-form.html/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 15:07:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166745 MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets

Kevin Kernan of the New York Post conveys that David Wright is stoked about the direction the Mets are heading and knows the front office must acquire a couple of key pieces this offseason to avoid a seventh straight losing season.

Ironically, Kernan argues, the biggest piece the Mets have to acquire is one David Wright. And even Terry Collins admitted as much to the Post on Friday.

“I don’t mean to put the onus on David,’’ manager Collins said. “But when you have a star, your team will go the way the star goes. You look at the teams that are having success, and I’ll go to the Pirates.

“In the middle of their lineup is a kid who has the chance to be the MVP again, Andrew McCutchen. Without him, they’re not the same team. Without David being David, we’re not the same team. We need him back, we need him healthy. He changes our entire team when he is hitting in that three-hole.

“We have to get David to be David. He’s our guy.’’

Collins is right and in an attempt to get Wright going again, the front office is reversing their previous stance and are in fact moving in the fences to facilitate Wright’s power to right and right-center.

Compounding matters is the uncertainty regarding Wright’s injured shoulder. An MRI taken earlier this week revealed some damaged and stretched out ligaments and an unstable socket and rotator cuff that could require surgery if the six weeks of rehab fails to remedy the situation.

“Surgery is only a resort if the rehab doesn’t work,’’ Wright said. “I got to get healthy, that is the most important thing right now. I’ll hopefully get good news in about a month.”

With six years and $110 million remaining on his contract, Wright is coming off the worst season of his career, with just eight home runs and a .698 OPS.

Wright turns 32 in December and is not getting any younger. He’s the one carrying the load and he’s the player Sandy Alderson’s plan is counting on to provide the most thump.

“He knows how important he is to the team,” Collins added. “But because he’s set the bar so high that’s what you look for and when it’s not there, you have to find someone to rise up and give you that and that’s hard to do.’’

As Kernan concludes, the Mets need Wright not only to be healthy, but also to perform at an All-Star level again in 2015 and beyond.

“I plan on playing a full season next year and production wise,’’ Wright said, “we’ll get back to where we need to be next year.’’

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mr. September and the Keystone Kid http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:06:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166626 Curtis - Granderson

As our beloved New York Mets played their final series in the capital this season, the Nationals continued to work towards locking up the best record in the National League.  The Mets only took 1 of 3 from their division rivals, but there were positive takeaways despite losing the series.  Below is a breakdown in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. Back in late August, it was easy to speculate that Curtis Granderson would be the next free agent bust to hit Flushing, but the veteran outfielder maintained a positive attitude and strong work ethic, which has helped transform him into a doubles hitting, RBI machine.  Since the first of the month, Curtis is hitting (.329) with a (.980) OPS that’s being heavily bolstered by his (.566) slugging percentage.  He’s adapting to the needs of his current team and abandoning the high strikeout/high home run player he was across town.  If Granderson’s current month was stretched over a 150 game season (conservative figure), he’d have 50 doubles, 7 triples, 21 home runs and 114 RBI.  That’s exactly the type of player the Mets should pay $16 million for next season.  Whether he maintains a pace like this next season is highly debatable, but his mid-summer and fall statistics offer enough fuel to counter the negative predictions.  Overall, Curtis slashed out a series line of (.455/.500/1.045), with 3 RBI’s to go with a run scored.

2. Wilmer Flores is an entirely different player as a second baseman.  His range improves drastically in comparison to his reps at shortstop and his plus arm is a tool that finally has the Mets rounding out routine double plays.  In 15 games (54 at bats), Wilmer is batting (.296) while boasting a monstrous (.593) slugging percentage.  Wilmer’s (.321) OBP sits barely above his batting average, so he isn’t walking much when his glove is played at the keystone.  Instead, he’s opted for the conventional route of putting some wood on the ball, giving him 10 runs scored and 8 RBI’s in those 15 games.  Flores continued his playing time at second this series and actually turned in the exact same results as Granderson, posting a line of (.455/.500/1.045).

3. Jeurys Familia was outstanding in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, pitching a perfect 8th inning and striking out the side. Familia owns a 2.27 ERA to go with 71 strikeouts in 75.1 innings this season.  The other setup relievers have been excellent this season too, including Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin. It’s not yet known if Bobby Parnell will return as closer in 2015, but Jenrry Mejia has handled the role admirably and he has been ferocious against left-handed batters.  Whatever happens, the Mets will have one of the youngest and brightest bullpens in all of baseball next season and that’s a huge relief.

3 Down

1.  Injuries absolutely kill this team year in and year out.  It’s reasonable to expect some unscheduled absences during the season, but ask yourself this question, how many players have put in a full season?  For the starting pitchers, only Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon have remained healthy since Opening Day.  For position players, only four Mets have a qualified number of at-bats and only two have played more than 150 games (Lucas Duda has 150 and Curtis Granderson has 152).  We learned during this series that David Wright suffered structural damage in his left shoulder which he played through for the most of the season, and it could be more serious than the Mets originally thought. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been no stranger to the disabled list as well and now he’s undergoing tests with team doctors in New York for an unknown elbow injury.

2.  There are numerous ways to frame statistics and come up with hypothetical scenarios, but consider this “what if”.  What if the Mets went .500 against the Nationals this year?  Actually, they played an odd number of games this season, 19 in total, so let’s say they went one game over .500 and posted a seasonal W-L of 10-9.  In that case, the Mets 2014 record would stand at 83-76 and they would still be in the hunt for the last wild card spot.  Instead, NY finished the season 4-15 against their division rivals.

3.  Let the Matt Harvey media circus resume.  During the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, news broke that recovering ace Matt Harvey was at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter’s final home game.  It’s true that these kinds of actions raise more questions than most Mets fans want answered, but it’s going to be a bigger story than needs to be.  He’s proven that he’s a competitor no matter what uniform he puts on and Matt’s locked into the Orange and Blue for the next four seasons.  Derek Jeter’s last home game is an iconic moment for Yankee fans and Harvey has openly admitted that Jeter is his idol growing up and favorite player.  It could very well signal where he intends to go in the future, or it could just be a 25-year old guy, living in New York City, going to the only baseball game in town.  Sandy Alderson made the rules, which included staying behind when the team traveled for road games, and to the best of my knowledge that didn’t change when the Mets shut down Harvey for the season.  He knew exactly what he was doing and did it anyways.  That’s the beast the Mets have to live with, incredibly talented, but lacks the foresight to cater to a sensitive organization.  Hopefully, Harvey leads the Mets to a World Series title in the next four years, but the bottom line is that I could care less where he goes and what he does on his free time.

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3 Up 3 Down: Braves Get The Broom http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:41:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166297 wilmer flores dilson herrera

The Mets are finishing up on a strong note and played a great series down in Atlanta this weekend. Below are the usual takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

jacob degrom1. The starting pitching was excellent in this series, particularly the guys making the league minimum, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom. Wheeler went 6.0 innings, allowed 5 hits, struck out 7 batters and held the opposition scoreless. It was Zack’s 21st quality start on the year, the most among Mets starters in 2014. It was also his 11th win, pushing his record over the .500 mark with only one start left on the year. deGrom was stellar as well, going 6.0 innings, allowing 3 hits and one earned run while striking out 10. What else can be said about deGrom at this point? He’s a stud and along with Wheeler and Matt Harvey, the Mets will have one of the best rotations in all of baseball next year.

2. Curtis Granderson is finishing up the year strong. The veteran went 5 for 10 in the series (.500) and posted a 1.615 OPS. In the month of September, Curtis is batting .308, slugging .569 and getting on base at a .400 clip. He also has 13 RBI’s to go along with 12 runs scored during that time frame.

curtis granderson3. Lucas Duda hit his 28th home run of the year in yet another crucial situation to put the Mets ahead 2-0 in the sixth inning of Friday’s game. While it’s easy to admire Duda’s raw power, he still doesn’t get enough credit for how talented an offensive player he is outside the home run department. A perfect example was Saturday’s game, where Lucas went 0 for 3 at the plate, but still contributed an RBI on a sacrifice fly and drew a walk to get on base. Overall, Duda posted a .333/.357/1.024 triple slash line for the series.

3 Down

1. Dilson Herrera was having a great series before straining his right quad in the 6th inning of Saturday’s 4-2 win. His two run blast down the left field line was the difference in that game, but unfortunately, it looks as though the prized prospect might not return for the remainder of the year. There’s a lot of logical reasons why injuries like this happen, but every year I find myself questioning this training staff. Again, I’m not saying injuries, particularly in the leg, don’t happen, but it seems nearly impossible for players on this team to muster a full season without hurting themselves. I wish Herrera a quick and speedy recovery and if this was the end of his 2014 campaign, it was certainly a success for the 20 year old.

travis d'arnaud2. Travis d’Arnaud has to make immediate changes to how he positions himself behind the plate. I touched on mechanical improvements that he needs to make in the offseason in the last 3&3, but this needs to happen now. In this series, d’Arnaud once again got hit on the head with a back swing and was shaken up for a quick second. Luckily he was able to move on without a hitch. This is a major concern though, he already has a history of concussions that stem from this and it doesn’t seem to be improving. There are only so many times he can have his bell rung before it impacts his career. The Mets need to prioritize this and protect one of their top young stars.

3. This is a bit of a reach because it’s hard to gripe about anything, in particular when the team sweeps a division rival and all but ends their playoff hopes in the progress, but it’s a shame Matt Reynolds didn’t get a call-up to finish out the season. With Herrera and David Wright out, now would have been the perfect time to see Reynolds at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at second. The current lineup obviously is clicking, but giving at bats to Ruben Tejada doesn’t help the organization assess its internal assets heading into 2015.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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Despite Benching, Mets Think Herrera Is Ready For Bigs In 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/despite-benching-mets-see-herrera-ready-for-bigs-in-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/despite-benching-mets-see-herrera-ready-for-bigs-in-2015.html/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165407 dilson herrera first hitWith the return of Daniel Murphy, Dilson Herrera has been relegated to the bench with the regulars back on the field. Although he’s not in the starting lineup anymore, Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins seem confident in the 20 year old second baseman is ready for the majors.

“With a little work on certain aspects of his game. So hopefully he’ll play a little winter ball” Alderson said before the game. “He’ll be ready to go for spring training. We’ll all get to see him hit” (NJ.com).

As far as whether or not the Mets have seen what they need to see from Herrera, Alderson added “I think so” saying later that “We’ve gotten a pretty good look. That’s probably what we’ll have to go on going into the offseason.”

Clearly the Mets don’t see Herrera getting a lot of playing time with Murphy back but now the question becomes, what do you do about 3rd base. With David Wright on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Mets have the option to shift Murphy to 3rd temporarily and see more of Herrera at second.

After the game, Murphy told MLB.com‘s Anthony DiComo that he’d be willing to play 3rd base if the Mets want to see more of Herrera at second.

We’ll wait to see who gets the bulk of the playing time at second and third but one thing is for sure, the Mets front office doesn’t seem ready to look past Herrera despite Murphy’s return.

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1,700 Hits Down, 1,300 Hits To Go http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/1700-hits-down-1300-hits-to-go.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/1700-hits-down-1300-hits-to-go.html/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165103 david wright

With his single in the top of the first on Saturday off of the Reds Johnny Cueto, third baseman David Wright reached 1,700 base hits in his MLB career. The Captain will be entering his age 32 season in 2015 and with just 1,300 hits left until the magical 3,000 number, the question is can Wright get there?

Let’s say he collects only 10 more hits over the remaining 20 games of the season, that will leave him 1,290 hits away with just 152 hits on the season.

While it’s safe to say this has been the most disappointing season of Wright’s career, I chalk it up to him being hurt and I expect him to produce at a much higher level than what we’ve seen this year going forward, although I think we all know that the David Wright of 2006-2008 is a thing of the past.

Performing at his 2014 level (about 152 hits per year), it will take Wright roughly 8.5 seasons to get to the 3,000 hit mark or about midway through his 2023 season. He will be 40 years old by then. I certainly expect his production to tail off as he becomes a graybeard, but I also expect him to pick up the pace above the 152 hits/season before then as well.

His current contract with the Mets runs through the 2020 season. By then he’ll have 3,000 hits in sight. Hopefully the Mets will have been to the playoffs several times and we can raise another World Series banner.

It would be great for the franchise to finally have a player collect 3,000 hits as a lifelong member of the Mets. 1,700 hits down. 1,300 hits to go.

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Kids Are Alright http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164908 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

The Mets finished up their three game set against the Marlins with a 2-1 series victory last night. New York has an interesting parallel with their division rivals from Miami, in that both organizations have dwelled at the bottom of the NL East cellar for many years now, but through those years they also stockpiled young, athletic players with the potential to be stars. Let’s see how the Met’s youngsters stacked up in this edition of 3 Up and 3 Down.

3 Up

1.  Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are a stellar defensive unit in the outfield, they’re fast and fearless, but that speed and tenacity has transitioned recently at the plate. Of the three, I’ve been most impressed with den Dekker as of late. The indictment against Matt has always been that his offense may never develop enough to give his glove an everyday spot in the lineup. I’m only evaluating a small sample size, but MDD is showing improvement in areas that project future success. Mainly, he’s reverted to a shorter, more compact swing, allowing him to turn on pitches quickly. He’s also showing vast improvements in his plate discipline. In his first 12 games in August, he was seeing an average of 12.4 pitches per game. In his last seven, that number has gone up to 16.4 pitches per game, with a 22% increase in strikes. His walk rate has remained relatively flat, but now Matt is seeing better pitches and taking better swings. The results are fantastic as den Dekker left Miami with a triple slash line of .545/.615/1.252, plating a run, swiping a base and scoring twice. His defense holds up pretty well to his counterpart in center field as well.

2.  Juan Lagares is no stranger to Mets fans at this point. He continues to improve in every facet of his game, becoming more of a student, while retaining his ‘hair on fire’ style of play.  Lagares took tremendous strides in this series and gave us a glimpse of a superstar in the making.  First base coach Tom Goodwin has challenged Juan to transition his speed in the outfield to the basepaths and unsurprisingly, it’s been a success. Juan had three stolen bases in three attempts against the Marlins this series. In his last six games, he is 5-for-5, as Goodwin at times has forced him to steal. Lagares noted that he had previously been hesitant given the duress on his hamstring, but at 100%, he seems unstoppable. Prior to his recent streak, he was 4-for-7 all year. It also seems that the coaching staff is making a unique case for Lagares’ approach at the plate by ditching the one-size-fits-all philosophy and building on Juan’s strengths. Pitchers began to recognize his ability to hit balls on the outside of the plate, so they started going inside to him. Lamar Johnson worked with Lagares to pull the ball on the inside and it translated into home run power. Opposing pitchers are once again pitching him low and outside the strike zone and Juan has adjusted nicely by continuing to drive those balls to the opposite field. Tuesday, Lagares put his talents on exhibition, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Overall, the center fielder batted .500 with an OPS of 1.105 in South Beach.

3.  Little “d” on the mound and behind the plate, means a W in the books. The battery duo of Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud has produced a team record of 5-3 in the games they start together, allowing a meager 1.07 walks/hits per innings pitched. Last night kept pace with that production, as deGrom went 6.0 innings, allowing only one earned run while striking out six.  He has lowered his ERA on the season to 2.87 and kept his name hot in the hunt for Rookie Of The Year.  Meanwhile d’Arnaud (the little ‘d’ is killing my auto-correct) continues to emerge as one of the top offensive catchers in the league. He already leads all rookies in home runs with 12, but had a great series, giving his pitchers a boost on offense. Travis produced a triple slash line of .500/.571/1.155 this series and is now a point away from having a .300 OBP and .700 OPS on the year, which is fairly remarkable given his woes prior to returning from AAA Las Vegas. Consistency is the name of the game for the youngsters, it’s the only true measurement of projecting sustained success in the future, and these players named so far have done a great job making the future very bright.

3 Down

1.  Pitching was atrocious for the most part in this series, which for the Mets, has been their strength all year.  Zack Wheeler was fortunate enough to have minimal damage done to his ERA, as it now sits at 3.45.  He only gave up two earned runs in Monday’s loss, but as a whole, he allowed five runs total while he was on the mound. Wheeler again turned in a brief outing, going only 4.2 innings with five hits and two walks, using 114 pitches to get through it all.  Zack clearly has the material to be an ace, but he has yet to figure out a way to keep his pitch counts down and go deeper into games.  Pitching coach Dan Warthen has got to prioritize this and reverse the trend or Wheeler may never reach his full potential. Jon Niese remarkably was able to walk away with a win on Tuesday, thanks entirely to an eight-run offensive outburst by his teammates (Jon did go 1-1 with a run scored to be fair), but he still surrendered 10 hits and six earned runs.

2.  Errors absolutely killed this team.  Jeurys Familia is a relief pitcher, so I’m slightly less aggravated by his two errors in the series, although they were total blunders. Dilson Herrera committed two errors in his three starts and David Wright also had a pair in the series, giving him 15 on the year. Wright is a seasoned vet and a former gold glover, although watching his errors gave me hope and disappointment simultaneously. Hope, because they had nothing to do with injury or lack of range. Disappointment because he was back on his heels when he committed a fielding error and he wasn’t squaring his body up when he made a poor throw. When David struggles from injury, I’m probably his biggest apologist and have been all year. This series was not a good display of The Captain leading by example though.

3.  In game decision making by the manager, in my opinion, cost the Mets their only loss in this series and could have cost the team another loss last night as well.  In the top of the 7th of a tie ball game on Monday night, Terry Collins made an offensive switch to bat Eric Campbell against lefty reliever Mike Dunn, taking Matt den Dekker out of the game.  Conventional wisdom agrees with Collins’ move here, but there were different elements that immediately made me feel like this was a poor choice.  The Marlins were producing runs all night, using all parts of the outfield to knock out base hits. Den Dekker is clearly the better defensive choice, and had also been producing at the plate that night too. In a game where the Mets pitchers were getting lit up, it made sense to leave den Dekker in. The result was Campbell flying out to center and in the following frame he dropped a ball he dove to catch in left field, It was the beginning of an error-filled meltdown. Hindsight is 20/20, but den Dekker was playing great that night and he undoubtedly would have made that catch. This isn’t a knock on Soup, but he’s not an outfielder. I also understand situational hitting, but at the same time, this is supposed to be a developmental period for our up and coming youngsters.  All position players who are looking to lock down a job in 2015 should be tested in all situations across nine innings of baseball to see what they’re really made of. As for last night, leaving Carlos Torres in to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, instead of pinch-hitting Curtis Granderson, was a dangerous choice that just barely paid off. The entire reason behind that decision was so that Torres could face Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the eighth. The result?  Stanton cranked his 36th home run of the year, a magnificent bomb to left field.  Again, this is another case of hindsight after the fact, but I was baffled when I saw Torres toss a batting helmet on.  If it weren’t for a slick defensive play by Lucas Duda to rob a rocketed baseball off the bat Marcel Ozuna and end the inning, it most certainly could have backfired.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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David Wright Finally Coming Around With Bat http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/david-wright-finally-coming-around-with-bat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/david-wright-finally-coming-around-with-bat.html/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:39:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164854 david wright“It’s nice to feel dangerous at the plate” (Marc Carig, Newsday). David Wright expressed that very simple sentiment after Tuesday nights win over the Marlins. For Mets fans, it was as big a relief as it was for Wright.

There’s no question that Wright is trying to breakout from the worst slump of his career. Last night, Wright recorded his first extra base hit since August 7th and now has 6 hits in his last 3 games. Since August 13th, Wright’s batting average slid from .276 down to .263 on August 30th. That slide finally came to an end this week and he now has his average back up to .268.

wright 221 homers“This last week, I’ve felt better, and more comfortable at the plate than I have probably the last month or so,” Wright said. “That’s a good sign” Wright said after the game. It’s clear that Wright has looked better over the last week and it’s nice that he’s seen it too.

Manager Terry Collins has seen it too. “He’s human too, even though he’s who he is. He’s got feelings and he knows he’s got to contribute. And so when you have games like tonight, you’ve got to feel good about it.”

Wright needs to have a big September to prove to himself that he can still tear the cover off the ball. With so much responsibility heading into 2015, Wright needs to get his confidence up and this week has the perfect start.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mets Phil Up on Momentum For Miami http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mets-phil-up-on-momentum-for-miami.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mets-phil-up-on-momentum-for-miami.html/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:21:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164748 dilson herrera jenrry mejia

The Mets went almost entirely with home grown talent this weekend against the Phillies as clubhouse veterans such as Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Curtis Granderson saw their playing diminished for various reasons.  The results?  The Amazins’ added another series W to this year’s resume.  Below are the usual 3 Up/3 Down takeaways.

3 Up

1.  Sunday was an interesting sight as the Mets trotted out three former center field prospects in Matt den Dekker (LF), Juan Lagares (CF) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (RF) to defend the outfield.  As a unit, they also accounted for half of the offensive production yesterday, scoring 3 runs, stealing 3 bases while putting up a slash line of .333/.500/.833.  Defensively, Matt den Dekker played some great defense all series, making a web gem catch in Saturday’s loss to rob Ryan Howard of an extra base hit.  He also put in a great bid to gun down Freddy Galvis at home plate off of a sharp single by Jimmy Rollins, but Anthony Recker was unable to hold on to the one hop toss from Matt, despite on a dime.

2.  Jacob deGrom resumed his campaign for ROTY by having an excellent outing on Friday.  The former Stetson standout went 7 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 unearned run and 2 walks while punching out 5.  The 26 year old rookie has some outstanding numbers at home this season, posting a 1.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, a 3.06 strikeout to walk ratio, 0.50 home runs per 9 innings while opponents bat a meager .215 against him at Citi Field.

3.  Wilmer Flores had an outstanding series.  The 24 year old Venezuelan turned a great performance at the plate and with the glove.  Flores had a triple slash line of .500/.545/1.145, scored 2 runs, plated an RBI and even swiped a base.  On defense, Wilmer helped turn four separate double plays while also flashing some nice range, robbing Ben Revere of a base hit with a diving snag in yesterday’s win.

4. A bonus “UP” for Dilson Herrera who made his major league debut and earned his first hit, walk and RBI during the three game set. The beginning of what should be a fantastic career for the 20-year old second baseman.

3 Down

1. Curtis Granderson is spiraling downward rapidly since the All-Star break.  The struggling slugger only played two games in the series, getting a day to “clear his head” (a.k.a. benched) on Sunday.  Granderson went 0-8 with 2 strikeouts and despite one spectacular catch on Saturday night, his defense is extremely conservative and overall a liability.  It doesn’t help his cause that Lagares and den Dekker are spectacular within their respective regions, but there were several outfield hits that either of Granderson’s counterparts would have made and these hits ended up being the majority difference in the Amazins’ lone loss from the series.  Terry Collins disregarded the hits as more luck than anything else, but Curtis has lost a step in his speed to the ball and his bat isn’t hot enough to make up for the lack of defense.

2.  Lucas Duda is slumping hard recently and carried this trend into the Phillies series.  The Hulk went 1 for 12 in the series with no extra base hits, walks or RBI’s.  Duda even contributed a rare throwing error in Friday’s win, although his defense has remained solid overall.  The emergence of Duda was sure to come with some downward movement, but the upcoming series against Miami will be a true test for him and his future.  He is batting 0.87 with two singles in his last two series.  If Lucas is able to break out of his woes and get back to laying the barrel on the ball, it will go a long way towards quieting his critics who do not see his 2014 performance as proof that he is a lock at 1st base for the future.

3. Terry Collins continues to look like a lock in 2015, despite Wally Backman putting up tremendous numbers on the farm and garnering the support of nearly the entire fan base.  News broke during this series that there’s no chance the front office will consider the former World Series champ as a candidate to unseat the current manager and Collins’ remaining contract has little to do with it.  Had something to do with Wally thinking on his own, managing winning ball clubs with constantly fluctuating rosters, just winning in general…I don’t know, something along those lines.

*Side Note*- Condolences to Bartolo Colon for the loss of his mother, whom he buried Thursday prior to the start of this series.  Big ‘tolo didn’t have the best outing on Saturday, but it took incredible guts for him to get on the mound after such a devastating experience.  Thoughts and prayers are with Colon and his whole family.

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Collins Unsure of Wright, Murphy Timelines for Return to Action http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/collins-unsure-of-wright-murphy-timelines-for-return-to-action.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/collins-unsure-of-wright-murphy-timelines-for-return-to-action.html/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:13:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164321 david wright 2

During Terry Collin’s pre-game conference on Tuesday afternoon, the majority of questions addressed the absence of David Wright and Daniel Murphy from the lineup, unsurprisingly.

Originally, Wright intended to get back out in the field for tonight’s tilt against the Braves. However, after the club’s training staff assessed the Captain, the organization decided to override Wright’s desire to play.

Collins acknowledged that an extended break may be in the best interest of the Mets third baseman but didn’t make any promises. When asked about the prospects of such an occurrence Collins responded, “Look, in order to be at 100% he’s going to need a long period of time off. He’s probably not going to get it here, right now. When the neck is better he’ll be ready to get back in there.”

Terry emphasized that the shoulder which has plagued David throughout the season was not a factor in the Mets decision to keep him out of the lineup on Tuesday evening. He elaborated that at this point in the season, its tough to tell if these aches and pains fall under the spectrum of wear and tear or serious injury.

“We’ve had (his shoulder) examined, there’s no damage in there, he’s got a bruise.” Terry candidly elaborated that he is unsure whether the bruise is affecting David’s ability to swing. Only David can know how the lingering pain is affecting his swing.

daniel murphy

Regarding the Mets All-Star second baseman, Collins was hesitant to give a timeline for Murphy’s return.

Given the cautious nature of lower leg injuries, it seems that the Mets will not rush Murphy back before he feels 100%.

From what I can glean, it seems that David’s neck spasms have made it difficult to turn his head and face the pitcher, resulting in him being withheld from the lineup. For the moment, no one should rush to any conclusions beyond that salient point.

In regards to Murphy, one would hope this is a minor, short-term injury but Collin’s did not appear comfortable corroborating that notion. Murphy’s calf is an issue that will have to work itself out over the next couple of days. Don’t be surprised if the infield consists of Duda, Flores, Tejada and Campbell throughout the upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Hollywood Hulk http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-hollywood-hulk.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-hollywood-hulk.html/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:43:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164217 duda unleashed

The Mets continued their West Coast road trip and stopped by Los Angeles for a 3 game set against the N.L. West leading Dodgers. NY dropped 2 of 3, but unlike previous series, there were great individual takeaways for players looking to lock up their positions for 2015 and beyond. Conversely, the veterans were showed up by their younger counterparts. Below is a recap of 3 stocks that went up and 3 that went down over the weekend.

3 Up

1. The Hulk, The Dude, The Big Lebowski. Lucas Duda has a lot of nicknames, but he’s collecting even more home runs this season. The 1st baseman hit .417 in the series with a whopping 1.166 slugging percentage. He reached his career high in single season home run totals with 26 (and counting), as well as having a career best 5 RBI game on Sunday. Duda was also a key part in the Mets triple play from Sunday, gunning down the over aggressive Yasiel Puig at home plate after finishing off a double play ball from second basemen Daniel Murphy. Among all 1st basemen in MLB, Lucas is 3rd in WAR with a score of 3.8. Among all MLB players, he is 2nd in slugging percentage against right handed pitching this season, pounding righties at a .580 clip. Lucas is doing an excellent job and has emerged as one of the premier sluggers in all of baseball.

2. Juan Lagares bounced back from a recent slump to turn in an excellent series. While not as slug happy as Duda, he hit at a .455 clip, including a home run, which helped him generate an OPS of .871. The offensive numbers are very respectable for arguably the top center fielder in the game. Lagares is 1st in MLB in DWAR among all qualified outfielders, by a long shot, with a score of 3.5. The next closest OF is Atlanta’s right fielder Jason Heyward with a DWAR mark of 3.1. At his position alone, Juan is second among all center fielders in the game for overall WAR (4.9- also leads the Mets), tied with Pirates all-star Andrew McCutchen and trailing only Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout (6.0). That’s some great company for a guy who doesn’t even have 400 at bats in the majors this season. Lagares brings enough value with his glove that if he hits .275 for his career, he would be more than productive to lock up long term. There’s more power to come once his plate discipline improves, as he gains more patience and slightly better pitch recognition, he could be expected to put out 10-15 home runs with great gap-to-gap doubles power at Citi Field. Quick thought, if David Wright is injured and out, put Juan in the 2 hole. On the year, Juan has a triple slash line of .333/.385/.968 as the #2 hitter.

3. Travis d’Arnaud had a solid series, hitting .308 with a solo home run, contributing his one and only RBI for the series. His overall performance is important because it reinforces the potential that’s been realized since returning from his demotion to AAA Las Vegas in June. In 47 games since his return on June 24th, Travis has the following numbers: Batting Average (.263), SLG (.486), OPS (.794), 2B (10), HR (9). Over the course of a 162 game season, this projects d’Arnaud at 34 doubles, 31 home runs and 79 RBI’s. Compared to last season’s total among all catchers in MLB, that puts him 5th in doubles, 1st in home runs and 2nd in RBI’s- tied with Yadier Molina. Travis is tied for 1st in MLB for HR’s among catchers in the month of August with 5.

3 Down

1. David Wright finally broke down and left Sunday’s game with what the team described as muscle spasms in the right side of his neck. Terry Collins insisted that The Captain was not injured prior to yesterday’s start, but he needs to be shut down for the remainder of the year if he goes to the disabled list for any reason. The team is keeping him day-to-day at the moment, but his sore left shoulder along with other nagging injuries are undoubtedly contributing to his poor performance dating back to June and it’s not getting better in the short term, nor helping in the long term. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo noted that Wright has gone his last 62 plate appearances without an extra base hit, batting 0.95 in his last 6 games. I hope the Mets realize that although he’s not as outspoken as the Matt Harvey types, Wright is also a warrior and will not always do what’s best for his body by playing through injuries. That’s admirable when the playoffs are on the line, but get healthy, we need the old David for 2015.

2. As if Wright’s injury wasn’t enough of a blow to the offense, Daniel Murphy is also listed as day-to-day after leaving the ninth inning with a cramp in his right calf. Within a span of two hours, the Mets lost 2 of their 3 veteran position players and Murphy’s status is even less predictable as this is his first time experiencing an injury of this nature. When asked about his return, he said, “I really can’t tell you how it’s going to feel until we get to Tuesday”.

3. This rubbed me the wrong way, so I’m taking liberties with the 3rd down and calling out Terry Collins for comparing Lucas Duda to Ike Davis after the former churned out a 2 home run performance in a 11-3 victory over the Dodgers. In the post-game interview, Collins stated that he had seen another Mets basemen have the type of second half that Lucas is having in former incumbent Ike Davis. Why make that comparison? Davis is a forgotten topic for most fans, mainly due to Lucas Duda’s incredible performance as the starting first base since June 1st (Terry- that’s more than 1 half) . His production from that date over the course of a full season would put Duda at 42 home runs and 115 RBI. Also, his glove has improved vastly (minus a boneheaded foul ball botch near the 1st base line this series, like Keith Hernandez always says Dude…TWO HANDS!). I thought Bobby Ojeda responded perfectly in his SNY post game recap saying, “The manager would do well to stop using that comparison and just let Lucas Duda shine on his own”. Agreed.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Bay Watch http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-bay-watch.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-bay-watch.html/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:25:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163908 terry-collins-and-sandy-alderson-watch-bp

The Mets concluded their brief two game set against the Oakland A’s and yet again, walked away with a split.  To quote ACDC’s late Bon Scott, “I’m hot, and when I’m not, I’m cold as ice”.  That pretty much sums up this series, this season and this team.  Below is a 3 up/3 down review of how the Mets performed out in California the last two days.

3 Up

1. Lucas Duda blasted his 23rd bomb of the season dead to center field in yesterday’s matchup.  He is now tied for 4th in the National League in home runs.  Among National League 1st basemen, he is 2nd in homers and 3rd in WAR (3.2).  It’s also noteworthy to mention that as far as flashing the leather goes, Lucas is tied for 2nd, along with Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez, in fielding percentage (.997).  While The Hulk has struggled to hit for average in August, he once again proves that slugging at a high rate (.625 in this series) can cure a lot of offensive woes for a struggling lineup.

2. Eric Campbell gets souped to play baseball.  The rookie utility man went 4 for 7 in this series (.572) and he was the first to get the Mets on board during yesterday’s onslaught by launching his third home run on the season to center field.  Campbell has quietly produced at a high rate despite inconsistent playing time, coming up with clutch hits, all while manning several positions defensively around the field.

3. Zack Wheeler bounced back against the A’s.  We all remember the last time Zack faced Oakland on June 25th at Citi Field, turning in arguably the worst performance of his young career.  He gave up 6 hits and 6 earned runs before being pulled with only 2 innings of work.  Wheeler once again showed maturity and grit, despite some borderline comical defense behind him.  This outing, the young gun went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only 2 earned runs (two others were scored on Daniel Murphy’s fielding error on a routine ground ball).  As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com noted, Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA since June 30th.  The Mets have now won 7 of Zack’s last 10 outings.

3 Down

1. Dillon Gee continues to struggle since returning from the disabled list on July 9th, including Tuesday’s loss, which was his fifth straight.  Gee is by no means overpowering, he relies heavily on his command and his high baseball IQ to maneuver the ball in and off the plate and keep hitters off balance and guessing.  Prior to his DL stint, Gee was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, posting the 4th best ERA among pitchers with at least 175 innings as of May 30th, 2013.  Since his return, he is 1-5 with a 5.06 ERA.

2. Juan Lagares is slumping and he needs to bust out.  The Mets are lethargic in a lot of their decision making, but one thing they are quick to do is bench Lagares when he goes into a minor slump.  He is an unbelievably talented player defensively and has shown such vast improvements offensively from last year.  I fear that one bad streak will land him on the pine and derail his development through the end of the season because Terry Collins feels the need to choose someone else and “get them going”, or whatever generic phrase he uses in lieu of a specific, analytic response.  Lagares went hitless in Tuesday’s loss and didn’t get any at bats on Wednesday, hitting .107 in his last 10 games combined.  Hopefully it’s just a bit of fatigue and the rest will have him back to producing at a respectable clip.

3. Curtis Granderson is equally as responsible as David Wright for this teams power outage.  Granderson hasn’t hit a home run since July 26th and he’s slugging an abysmal .179 in the month of August, producing only 1 double and 0 triples.  He has been given ample opportunities to thrive, even owning the lead-off spot for an extended period of time in order to get his production up, but in reality he was paid to come here and protect Wright in the cleanup spot.  I can appreciate his professionalism, but fans can also appreciate seeing the team’s high rollers put some wood on the ball.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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3 Up 3 Down: Cubs Split With Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-cubs-split-with-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/3-up-3-down-cubs-split-with-mets.html/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:49:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163736 vic black

The Mets split their most recent 4 game series with the Chicago Cubs, below are some key takeaways between the final scores.

3 Up

1. Zack Wheeler is exciting to watch and he’s backing up his electric arsenal of pitches with some great results. This series was no different, as Wheels went 6.2 innings on Friday night, allowing only 4 hits while striking out 10. When he exited the game, he’d only given up 2 runs and the bullpen would come in to keep the Cubs at exactly that number, pushing Zack to 8-8 on the season. The 24 year old heat hurler now owns a 2.02 ERA in his last nine starts, giving up more than 2 earned runs in only 1 of those games.

2. Vic Black has been the bullpen equivalent of the aforementioned Wheeler. The rookie stalwart has stranded 22 base runners in a row and 24 out of 25 on the season. Part of that came from Saturday’s performance where Black came in to relieve starter Jon Niese with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 7th inning. He sat down the top of the Cubs lineup using only 8 pitches and let nobody cross home plate. Black has pitched 10.2 innings this year with runners in scoring position. In those situations, opponents are hitting .114 against him and he owns a .75 WHIP (walks-hits per innings pitched).

3. Matt den Dekker hit .285 with 3 walks, an RBI and a stolen base, playing in 3 of the 4 games in this series. While these numbers are jaw dropping, Matt has provided the exact type of lift offensively that the organization could have expected and maintained his stellar play in the outfield. Keep in mind, prior to den Dekker getting his second call-up of the year, the Mets were batting .200 with an OPS of .568 from their collection of left fielders. Since coming up from Triple-A Las Vegas, Matt is getting on base at a .379 clip.

3 Down

1. David Wright, well, he’s having a bad season and Saturday’s game symbolized the exclamation point. The Captain left the game in the seventh inning after trying to play through an at bat where he was beamed in the bottom of the 6th, directly on the area where he’s currently rehabilitating from posterior left shoulder soreness. David is not in good shape and this is painfully obvious, literally and metaphorically. He needs to hit the DL and try to recover before he does damage that lasts into next year. I admire Wright for going into Terry Collins’ office prior to Monday’s series finale and insisting that he was in good enough condition to play, but his 0-4 performance should be a good enough indication that something is wrong and playing through the injury isn’t helping his or the team’s long term goals. One other thing to add. Where is the response from our pitchers? The pitch delivered by Cubs starter Dan Straily was intended to brush Wright back and it missed and hit his shoulder. It wasn’t a breaking ball that slipped, it was an 88 mph fastball. Starter Jon Niese already loaded the bases in the seventh, one of those should have been a hit-by-pitch if that’s how the Cubs want to pitch our franchise player.

2. Jenrry Mejia had two bad outings in a row this series on Sunday and Monday. In 2 innings of work, Mejia allowed 4 hits, 3 earned runs and 2 home runs while only striking out 1. No real thoughts here, either he’s pitching injured and this is a mistake by medical staff or he’s not performing and that is a larger issue.

3. Wilmer Flores has ironically maintained a serviceable level of defense at shortstop, allowing only 1 error in 32 games played at the position in 2014, but his bat has not delivered as advertised. Flores had 1 hit in 8 at bats this series and in the last 7 days, he is batting and slugging a measly .211. Somehow, his offensive production is beginning to dip below Ruben Tejada‘s.

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Mets On Verge Of Setting Historic Streak Of Offensive Futility http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-on-verge-of-setting-historic-streak-of-offensive-futility.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/mets-on-verge-of-setting-historic-streak-of-offensive-futility.html/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:22:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163740 terry collins dugout

All the leaves are brown… and the skies are gray…

If the Mets thought they had it rough against the woeful Chicago Cubs, they’re in for some real trouble this week as they head to the West Coast for some California reaming.

The Mets begin a five-game west coast swing with a pair of games starting tonight against the Oakland A’s before kicking off a weekend series with the first place Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

It’s the first three games of this road trip that will pose the biggest challenge for the Mets as they’ll face Scott Kazmir (13-5, 2.78), Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 2.96) and Clayton Kershaw (14-3, 1.86) all in succession.

The Mets have seen their offense reach an all-time low, having totaled only four hits or less in their last five games – a level of futility that has not been duplicated in the major leagues in more than a decade.

If that streak continues against Kazmir and the A’s tonight, the Mets will become the first MLB team since 1900 to have a single-season streak of six games producing four or fewer hits, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. 

The Mets have been absolutely dreadful at the plate in August and aside from Daniel Murphy who is batting .297, the rest of the team is all struggling including Lucas Duda (.217), Curtis Granderson (.155), Eric Campbell (.087), Wilmer Flores (.239), Ruben Tejada (.174), Travis d’Arnaud (.218), Juan Lagares (.246) and David Wright (.258).

This is rock-bottom for the Mets and trying to break out of a slump against three of this season’s most elite pitchers will be quite the tall task for Terry Collins and company.

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Is It Time To Move Wright Out Of The Third Spot? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/is-it-time-to-move-wright-out-of-the-third-spot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/is-it-time-to-move-wright-out-of-the-third-spot.html/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:18:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163286 Mets

David Wright is on pace to post career lows in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. His struggles this season have been well documented. One thing to keep in mind is that because the Mets third baseman has produced at such an elite level over the years, his current level of career low production is not exactly bad, it’s just bad for him.

I’m not going to delve into the reasons behind Wright’s problems this season, is it age-related, is it his shoulder. is it Citi Field, is he suffering from a lack of protection… Nobody really knows… But my question is whether it may be time to reconsider if Wright should remain as the number three hitter.

The following is a chart of the top twenty No. 3 hitters in the majors this season:

mlb number 3 hitters 250

It’s been said that the third hitter in the lineup is the most critical in  impacting offensive results, more than any other spot in the lineup. The three spot is the linchpin and what the rest of the lineup feeds off of.

For a team that ranks 23rd in runs scored, obviously this is an area of concern and it bears a closer examination of the Mets lineup. Could the Mets drive better results and perhaps win more games with just a tweak of the batting order? It’s been done countless times before and constructing a lineup based on a player’s strengths is one of the most important jobs of any major league manager.

We build such emotional connections with our favorite stars that sometimes we blind ourselves to deciphering results and we develop an unwillingness to change something we’ve become so accustomed to – in this case seeing Wright penciled into the three spot. We’ve seen this before with Mike Piazza and Keith Hernandez before him. It’s difficult to face the reality that all players go into decline on the other side of thirty and that doesn’t mean they can’t still be productive – only that a manager should always be evaluating and reevaluating a player’s performance and putting him in a position to make the most impact.

The problem with Wright goes beyond his numbers. The eyeball-test, as Keith Hernandez calls it, shows a ongoing pattern of Wright no longer driving the ball as he once did and that accounts for his precipitous drop in run production.

So where do you bat Wright and who bats third?

At least until the current trends reverse themselves, I’d argue that Wright should bat leadoff against left-handers and second against rightys. Sounds preposterous? Not as preposterous as batting our $60 million dollar cleanup hitter in the leadoff spot I assure you.

I would have no problem with batting Daniel Murphy third and Lucas Duda cleanup with Travis d’Arnaud batting fifth.

For a team that has submitted over 70 different lineup configurations this season, you would think that just once they would have experimented with Wright batting first, second, fourth or fifth, but instead he’s been the one constant in the lineup for the better part of nine years. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Look, this may come off as an indictment of David Wright, but it’s not. It’s about whether or not the Mets are capable of using a player’s strengths and weaknesses to construct a better lineup and score more runs.

Search your feelings and you’ll know this to be true.

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Wright Insists That He’s Not Playing Hurt http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/wright-insists-that-hes-not-playing-hurt.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/wright-insists-that-hes-not-playing-hurt.html/#comments Sun, 03 Aug 2014 21:03:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162443 Mets

After Sunday’s 9-0 shelling by the San Francisco Giants, Mets third baseman David Wright insisted that he’s healthy. ”I’m fine,” Wright told reporters gathered at his locker. “I’m just not hitting.”

“I’ve got to get going,” Wright said. “We have a few guys who have to get going.”

A reference perhaps to Curtis Granderson, who is 9-for-53 since the All-Star break, his .179 average is the second-worst in the NL.

Although he had a broken-bat single in the seventh inning against Madison Bumgarner, Wright has been mired in a slump that has him batting .143 (3-for-35) in his last ten games.

During today’s broadcast, SNY’s  Keith Hernandez pointed out that there’s no drive or power behind his swing since returning from the All Star break, and that he’s just gliding the bat when he turns on a pitch with nothing behind it.

August 2

On Saturday, Terry Collins was asked if Wright was hurting, but the Mets skipper said he didn’t know. “I know he gets treatment on (his left shoulder) but is it still bothering him?”

“II haven’t really gotten into it much. Again, it could be bothering him a little bit. I haven’t discussed it with him.”

“I’m concerned about the fact he’s not hitting. I’m not sure about the physical side. Before he got hurt, he was slumping a little bit, too. Right now, I don’t know if he’s just trying to drive the ball but his swing has got just a little long. He was in the cage yesterday. He was in the cage earlier today trying to shorten it up. Hopefully, it pays off.”

Wright, 32, is hitting .270 with career lows in on-base (.331), slugging (.391) and OPS (.722). He’s currently in the second year of his 8-year, $138 million dollar contract.

Recently, Wright has become more vocal about the team being ready to add pieces and taking the next step toward being a contender.

Wright received a cortisone shot during the All-Star break to lessen the pain and inflammation in his shoulder.

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Harsh Realities: The Mets Are Stuck In The Spin-Cycle http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/harsh-realities-the-mets-are-stuck-in-the-spin-cycle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/harsh-realities-the-mets-are-stuck-in-the-spin-cycle.html/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:17:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162189 It’s always fun debating all the possible ways the Mets can bring a superstar to Queens at this time of the year. Nobody wants to be a seller, that usually means your season is “over and out” and relevancy is still a year or more away.

As we close in on our sixth consecutive losing season, it’s become very clear that even the biggest proponents of a rebuild four years ago are getting tired of the waiting. Heck, even David Wright is telling reporters that now is the time to start adding those significant pieces, venturing in terrain he’s never navigated before. But of course the captain realizes that he isn’t getting any younger.

And while some of us discuss the potential to land a Troy Tulowitzki or a Carlos Gonzalez, there is a stark reality that clouds everything – the still stifling financial situation that has encumbered this team for over half a decade now.

wilpon aldersonOh how the Mets want you all to believe they are now on easy street, but even in a year when they promised to increase payroll, there they sit almost $10 million lower than 2013 levels, $20 million lower than 2012 levels, and an astounding $70 million lower than 2011 levels.

The Mets are led by a GM who is most famous for how little he says about anyone or anything. However, it’s how he crafts his jokes that really tell the story, always managing to use humor to convey the sad reality that payroll is not going to alter much over the next few years.

Alderson made his big “superstar plays” by signing David Wright to a deal that takes him into retirement, and then giving Curtis Granderson a cushy second generation contract worth four years and $60 million. Because Grandy’s deal was discounted in year one, his salary jumps from $13MM in 2014 to $16 million in 2015. That’s $36 million for two players and about $45 million left to fill the other 23 spots on the roster.

While someone in the organization (is that you Jeff?) keeps leaking things like the Mets are targeting Tulo and Gonzalez, Alderson used his dry wit to put that rumor neatly to bed.

When he was asked if the Mets even had the financial wherewithal to add one of those players he responded as such:

“We’ve got a 20 and 15,’’ he said referring to David Wright and Curtis Granderson. “So we go with a 20, 20, 15 and what? 22 dwarfs?’’

Yes, Mr. Alderson, point taken.

Sandy brings us back to “payroll concentration” a phrase he coined last offseason when he attempted to convey that two $15 million per year players is as good as it gets in Flushing.

It’s great to dream, and we’ll keep dreaming on MMO, but it’s important to understand that no matter what you think the financial landscape hasn’t changed much at all over the last few years.

Do you find it all befuddling that the only players in the “sell” conversation are those who are making some significant change like Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese? In 2-3 years it might be Matt Harvey, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler needed to be moved because they’re getting “too pricey” another term made famous by our esteemed GM last offseason when he had this to say after arriving to dinner late at the Winter Meetings.

“Sorry I’m late” he told reporters. “I was upstairs stacking our money. But don’t get too excited. They were all fives.”

When asked how high the pile was, he said: “Not as high as some people expect.”

It must be tough for a man with such integrity and honor to keep up a variety of pretenses for his bosses, but don’t feel too bad for Sandy, he’s well paid and up to the task.

So while you hear me saying things about how optimistic I am about our future (and I am), and how I gloat over a farm system that both our current and former GM helped to build (and yes they both did), I’m still grounded in the reality that this team is tapped out, flat broke, and running on fumes.

Our organization still lacks any reasonable financial flexibility – especially for a franchise in this market. They can only add quality players after first jettisoning established (and well paid) players off the current roster to clear up room for them.

The fact is that nothing has changed much… We’ll still continue to trade quality players for prospects, hope that it’s enough to take us to the next level, but understanding that once any of these players become too good and too costly, they’ll simply get turned over for a newer crop of prospects who are 2-3 years away. The Mets are stuck in the Spin-Cycle and that may not change until the Wilpons are finally gone and as long as they take their crippling debt and decades of bad decision-making with them.

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What Does A Mets “Core Four” Look Like? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:05:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161512 wright harvey

It’s a fascinating query, a paradox of sorts, a question with no easy answer.  That fact speaks more to the New York Mets lingering status in baseball Nowhere Land than anything else.  No matter, identifying four core or foundational players of the New York Mets can be a real baseball brain teaser.

The concept of the ‘core four’ evolved from our pinstripe rivals across town when four homegrown prospects; Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, became the foundational pieces of sustained baseball excellence in the Bronx.  The Yankee core provided the Bombers a talented baseball foundation, a core of hungry consistent, relentless baseball exemplars Yankee management could build around to keep the Yankee machine running in high gear for much of two decades.

Building comparisons to the Yankee ‘core four’ is an impossibility.  Few could have predicted the success of these four Yankee prospects when they were signed.  Only Jeter was highly rated and considered a can’t miss pick.  The other three were signed in the 22nd and 24th rounds and as a free agent of the amateur draft.  Their legend as the indefatigable core of the Yankee success, as the unmovable granite on the pinstripe roster evolved over time.  That’s not a scenario that meshes well with the current standing of our New York Mets.

Stop the procrastinating and select four players Met management could use as the centerpiece of even  a short run of baseball success in Flushing.  Okay, here goes.

  1.  Matt Harvey  – In some ways selecting Matt Harvey is a no brainer, yet in some ways picking Harvey is a leap of blind faith.  After his arm surgery last summer, no one can really be sure what the Mets will have in Matt Harvey when he returns to the mound next spring.  What we know for certain is that Matt Harvey is a unique baseball talent, a rare combination of intelligence, bravado, authenticity, chutzpah, and baseball skill that can transform the culture of a baseball franchise.  The 2013 Mets that took the field when Matt Harvey pitched were a different animal than the squad that played working through the other four days of the starting rotation.  Harvey is the type of guy who simply won’t accept losing, the iron willed like persona needed in a baseball core.  Until he proves otherwise, Matt Harvey is the only non-negotiable member of my Met core four.
  2. David Wright – As it stands, David Wright is the cornerstone of the New York Met franchise, destined to become the greatest player to ever wear the New York Met orange and blue.  David Wright bleeds Mets blue.  He grew up near Norfolk Virginia watching and rooting for the Tides, the Mets Triple-A franchise located in Wright’s home town.  Wright is proud to wear a Met uniform and willing to personally sacrifice for the chance to play for Met fans in Citi Field.  Fred Wilpon once called David Wright a really good kid, a very good player, but not a superstar.  Based on NY Met standards, David Wright is a superstar, the pick of the litter, a border line Hall of Famer.  Wright, a career .300 hitter, is the all-time Met leader in a host of offensive categories which will soon include home runs.  It’s a shame, the Mets fell into franchise disarray during peak years on David Wright’s baseball arc.  But, loyal to a fault, David Wright always remains on script for the NY Mets, a solid baseball fixture for some time to come in Flushing and reliable source as one of the four core to build a baseball franchise around.

Naming a ‘core two‘ was not that difficult.  From here the chore becomes almost ominous.  What players on an underperforming baseball team or unproven but highly regarded prospects in a vastly improved player development system could be included in a core four?

A rabid Binghamton Met baseball fanatic, I have watched almost all of the most promising Met prospects for extended stays playing Double-A ball in Binghamton.  My interest in minor league baseball has taught me predicting the success of developing baseball players is an inexact science at best.  Had I evaluated Matt Harvey’s value purely based on his minor league performance in Binghamton it would be preposterous to include him as part of a ‘core four‘ baseball gang in Flushing.  For those reasons, the final two players of my ‘core four‘ would need to come from the players currently on the Met roster.

  1. Curtis Granderson – At face value, judging only by baseball statistics, Curtis Granderson is an unlikely candidate to be included in a New York Met ‘core four.‘  But the bigger the sample size of Curtis Granderson baseball in Flushing, the more Met fans are coming to appreciate his baseball contributions.  Intelligent and adaptable, after a horrid debut in Flushing, Granderson  is proving once again he can mold his hitting approach to fit the venue where he plays and the batting demands for who he plays for.  With the Yankees, Granderson’s contact swing disappeared replaced by a pull hitting approach to take advantage of the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium.  When that approach was a dismal April failure at Citi Field, Granderson went about the hard work of adapting once again and the results have been satisfying.  Granderson adds a desperately needed home run threat to the Mets line-up.  His production at the top of the Met line-up helps fill a huge void in the lead-off spot.  Equally important, Granderson has a great clubhouse presence and is a badly needed positive voice for the Mets.  Granderson gives the Mets a bonafide outfield major league presence in the everyday line-up.
  2. Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud or Jeurys Familia?  Who do I choose.  Lagares gives the Mets a defensive outfield presence that is difficult to replace.  d’Arnaud provides heaps of untapped promise, a polished defensive catcher with a huge offensive upside.  And, with his nasty stuff and near triple digit fastball, Familia could be the sleeper in the group, the right-handed relief arm that someday could evolve to become a prized stopper in the Met bullpen.

I’l give the nod to Lagares.  With the Mets poised to stage a pitching first reinvention, defense becomes more important than ever and Lagares brings an elite glove to center field for the Mets.  Lagares’ defensive play is rare and special.  Baseball Reference labeled his 2013 defensive play in center field as the ninth best defensive performance by a baseball center fielder of all time.  Although the Mets were slow to appreciate the value of just what that means, defensive play at that level is almost irreplaceable.  And, Lagares shows signs of developing into an average to above average stick at the plate.  That’s the kind of performance a baseball team can build around.

Harvey, Wright, Granderson, Lagares, my Met ‘core four,‘ a tough call indeed. If you were asked to determine four players in the Met organization, not more, not less, to become a core to build anchor future Met baseball success, who would you choose?

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10 Years In: What is David Wright’s Legacy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/10-years-in-what-is-david-wrights-legacy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/10-years-in-what-is-david-wrights-legacy.html/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161021 david wright

Believe it or not, today marks the 10th anniversary of David Wright’s Major League debut. As we reach this milestone, it is an appropriate time to assess his legacy with the team.

Selected during the supplemental round of the 2001 amateur draft (20 picks after Aaron Heilman if you can believe it), David Wright served as a compensatory pick after the Mets lost Mike Hampton to the Colorado Rockies during free agency. Prior to being drafted, Wright, the 2001 Gatorade Virginia High School player of the year, had committed to attending Georgia Tech.

Fortunately for the Mets, Wright decided to forgo his prior commitment and sign with his childhood team.

Wright rocketed through the Mets farm system. In the 91 minor league games that Wright played before being promoted in the summer of 2004, Wright hit .341 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs between Binghamton and Norfolk.

On July 21st, the Mets selected David’s contract for a game against the Montreal Expos. In just 69 games, David would hit 14 homers and garner 40 RBIs while batting .293. The future franchise cornerstone had arrived.

Now, ten years later, Wright is the captain of the Mets and unanimously beloved amongst the team’s fans. He already owns nearly every accumulative franchise record and by the time he retires he will undoubtedly lead in every offensive category, save for perhaps triples and stolen bases.

Known as Captain America, Wright has been the face of our franchise for a decade now. He has demonstrated his loyalty to the team, stuck it out through the tough times and yet the fact remains, the Mets have made the playoffs only once since his debut all those years ago.

From 2005-2008 David Wright was unbelievable. In those four seasons David batted .310 with 116 home runs and 449 RBIs. He won two Gold Gloves with matching Silver Slugger awards in 2007 and 2008 respectively. He also played in 160 games three of those four seasons, the lone outlier being 154 in 2006.

David had accomplished so much by the time he was 25 years old. Now, Wright is 31 and since that time he has just one 100 RBI season and one season of 25 or more home runs, both in 2010.

His batting average since 2008 has dropped nearly 20 points, to .292 over that span. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wright has struggled to stay healthy through a 162 game season as he has gotten older.

After playing in at least 154 games every full season through the age of 25, he has accomplished that feat just twice since. The other fact to keep in mind, Wright has not been to the playoffs since he was 23 years old.

This is not a knock on David Wright in any way. In the dark years that have followed the September collapses of ’07 and ’08, Wright has been a lone bright spot for a franchise with little to cheer for. He is certainly one of the greatest if not the greatest position players in franchise history. But with just one post-season series victory under his belt in 10 years, I have to wonder what his legacy is at this point in time. Where does he rank in Mets lore?

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