Mets Merized Online » defense Sat, 23 Aug 2014 16:21:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Herrera Drives In Four, Scores Two, Now Batting .346 Sat, 23 Aug 2014 05:21:57 +0000 dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

Dilson Herrera had another great game tonight for Binghamton who beat Akron by a score of 12-3. Herrera finished 3-for-3 with two doubles, four RBIs, two runs scored and a walk.

ESPN’s Keith Law had heaps of praise for the Mets’ 20-year-old second baseman prospect  in an online chat.

Herrera is capable of becoming an above average, every-day, big-league second basemen, and maybe more, he revealed in his weekly chat. He continued, saying “If he ended up on a few All-Star teams, I wouldn’t be shocked.”

Between Single-A and Double-A this season, Herrera has hit .320 with a .378 OBP while hitting 12 home runs and driving in 65 runs. Add in 22 stolen bases and some sound defense up the middle and he has had an incredible all-around season.

Herrera was acquired in the trade that sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last season. The Mets also received Vic Black in the deal that is now looking like one of the best we’ve seen from Alderson thus far.

Barring injury, I would expect Herrera to start next season in Las Vegas and he could earn a call to the majors sometime late in 2015.

It is also important to note Herrera’s age and production in context of his peers. He is 4.7 years younger than the average hitter in the Eastern League. And yet his age has not held him from being among the top offensive players in the league thus far.

His production in Binghamton has dwarfed his St. Lucie production. So far in Binghamton, he is producing at a .344/.417/.574 clip with nine homeruns and eight stolen bases while driving in 46 runs. Keep in mind that he has played in 14 less games in AA as well.

All things considered, age, position, and offensive production, I believe Herrera has the potential to be a star in the majors, and he will significantly affect the Mets’ decision-making when it comes time to re-sign or part ways with Daniel Murphy.

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The True Value of Juan Lagares Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:42:55 +0000 juan lagaresAs the New York Mets near the end of their ongoing rebuilding process, it’s time for Sandy Alderson to re-evaluate the entire team and see who can help the team on a day to day basis over the next few years. Once that task is completed, it’s time for the front office to work to get rid of the dead weight, or those who aren’t seen as useful in the coming years, and to plug up the holes with quality talent. They also need to look at where there’s a surplus of talent, and where there’s a dearth to plan accordingly.

Some of the answers are rather obvious. David Wright looks to be regressing, but for now at least, he’s still a very useful player. Obviously, the pitching depth is incredible both at the major league level and coming up through the farm system. Guys like Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Steven Matz are well-known to Mets fans, but even in smaller prospects like Jack Leathersich and Cory Mazzoni, the Mets have the ability to put together a historically great rotation and bullpen filled with homegrown talent.

It’s clear that the team needs some more bats in the lineup. The question is, how many? Shortstop is an issue because while Ruben Tejada has improved upon an absymal 2013, he still hasn’t been anything to write home about. He’s been getting on base at a very nice pace, flashing a pretty .355 OBP, but his complete disregard for extra base hits, as evidenced by his .285 SLG, is an issue.

Outfield help is a necessity. The Young boys in left field have been nothing short of a disappointment, which is why Chris Young found himself Designated for Assignment last week. The really interesting debate begins when looking at who stands next to either of them in the outfield grass.

Juan Lagares has been an elite defensive player since his career began last April. The problem is that his offensive success has come and gone periodically. Is it worth locking him in as the center fielder when there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever develop into anything more than an inconsistent hitter?

Throughout his minor league career, Lagares was a largely uninspiring hitter. Since signing with the Mets as an amateur free agent at 17 years old in 2006, Lagares hit .281/.322/.403/.725 over the past nine seasons in all levels of the minors.

His best offensive season came in 2011, when he played 82 games in high-A and 38 games in Double-A, posting an overall .349/.383/.500/.883 line. And prior to making his major league debut in April 2013, he looked like he was on his way to a nice season in Las Vegas, hitting .346/.378/.551/.929 in a very tiny sample of 17 games.

There are some trends when looking at his professional career as a whole. First of all, Lagares has been a relatively free swinging hitter, as seen by his low walk totals. Over his first 203 games in the MLB, he’s drawn only 33 walks, which translates to one base-on-balls about every 6 games. His walk rate is 4.6%, which is well below the major league average of 7.9% over the past two years.

He also tends to swing at bad pitches more than most. According to Baseball Info Solutions, Lagares has swung at 35.8% of pitches outside of the strike zone during his major league career, compared to the major league average of 31%.

What makes his impatience somewhat bearable is the fact that he’s been a pretty decent contact hitter, which levels out his OBP to an acceptable level. While his .281 minor league batting average may not look like the greatest, considering the competition that he’s facing, it looks better when compared to the fact that he’s hitting .283 in 83 major league games this year.

While he may be over-aggressive in swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone, he also successfully makes contact at an above average clip. He makes contact with outside pitches 72% of the time, well above the MLB average of 66.2%. While the quality of that contact isn’t necessarily great, it’s good to know that if he’s going to keep chasing balls out of the zone, he’s not simply whiffing all of the time.

At times, he is able to flash a good amount of power. Some of that is due to his speed allowing him to stretch singles in the doubles, and doubles into triples, but as always, what happens off the bat is the most important thing to evaluate. A .403 slugging percentage in the minor leagues doesn’t suggest that he’ll hit for much power in the majors, but overall, his power has been coming in inconsistent bursts.

The problem is, I’m not sure how much of his moderate offensive success will continue. That .283 average in 2014 is heavily augmented by a ridiculous .363 BABIP, well above his major league mark from last year, which stood at .310 by year’s end. As a result, his .242 average from his rookie season has spiked significantly.

BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, can be a very telling stat when looking at a player’s future. A very high BABIP usually suggests that the batter is set for some regression, as they have been getting very good luck with bad defense, cheap infield singles, and bloopers in no-man’s land. A very famous case disproving this theory is Mariners’ center fielder Austin Jackson, who is able to use his speed to maintain a high BABIP mark. It’s entirely possible that Lagares’s speed is aiding him this season much more than last, but any wild fluctuation in BABIP is a red flag. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when evaluating Lagares’s career to this point and projecting forward.

Overall, Juan Lagares’s MLB averages of .260/.299/.367/.667 look to be right in the ballpark of what his slash line will look like for the forseeable future. He’s only 25 years old, meaning that he has yet to enter his offensive prime, but it’s unlikely that any player will get drastically better in their prime if their past doesn’t show anything that should get people excited. Juan Lagares will almost certainly be at best a mediocre hitter with some stretches of greatness, and many more slumps.

So, of course that means that he shouldn’t be part of the Mets’ long term plans. If there’s almost no hope for him offensively, then he needs to go, right?

I won’t blame anyone for thinking that way about Lagares. But their mind will change when they watch what the man can do with a glove. Watching Lagares field is one of the best things about the Mets. He’s easily the best center fielder to come to Flushing since Carlos Beltran‘s prime ended and he was shipped out of town.

Die-hard baseball fans already know about the other-worldy defense of Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but Lagares deserves that type of mainstream attention for the way he plays in center.

So what if his defense is great? If he can’t hit, then does it really matter?

That’s true depending on what position the player in question fields. If we’re talking about a first or second baseman, or a corner outfielder, defense is much less important, but still needs to be factored into the player’s overall value. But when the amazing defensive player is a center fielder, the value of that defense is much higher. Center field is probably the most important defensive position in baseball (except maybe catcher), so having a guy out there with the talent of Lagares of extremely valuable and can save many runs.

Speaking of saving runs, Lagares has been near the top of the leaderboard in Defensive Runs Saved since making his debut. Among all fielders, Lagares is second to the aforementioned Andrelton Simmons with 49 DRS. In fact, had Lagares not missed significant time due to injuries over the past couple of seasons, he would be far and away the league leader in this category. Lagares has only played 1485.2 innings since the beginning of the 2013 season, while Simmons has played 2302 innings.

Because DRS is a cumulative stat, playing less innings hurts Lagares overall, but on a per inning basis Lagares has been much better than Simmons. He has saved .033 runs per inning compared to .024 runs per inning for the Braves’ defensive whiz. When I extrapolated those per inning averages over a full season of 1455 innings, Lagares turns out to be much better than Simmons, racking up an incredible 48 DRS while Simmons only saves 34 runs above the average fielder.

Another well-known defensive metric, UZR speaks very well of Lagares’s abilities in the field. His Ultimate Zone Rating has been tops in the major leagues at 37.6 during his career.

Defensive statistics aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they do aid people in forming a broad opinion on a player’s defensive skills.

There are quite a few reasons why Lagares is such an incredible defensive player. These spray charts gathered by FanGraphs illustrate his talent:


The percentages seen in the second chart are measured by Inside Edge, in an attempt to put into perspective how easy each defensive play is to make. Do you see that huge gap in the middle of the second chart, which is almost all green in the first chart? That’s because Lagares does not mess up easy fly balls. His only missed play right in the heart of center field was considered by Inside Edge to be impossible to field. According to this chart, he’s missed quite a few fly outs with a 40% or higher chance of being fielded. But, when the time parameters are shortened to include only his 2014 results, you get this:


All but one of the yellow and green dots completely vanish, suggesting that Lagares has been even more reliable in the field this season than last. It’s a scary thought that someone already so good can keep improving. He’s a very sure-handed fielder, and tends not to mess up routine plays. He also won’t make the spectacular, diving grabs that get replayed all over the internet and ESPN, but I’d trade that for his inability to make mistakes on easy fly balls.

FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote an amazing piece of Lagares’s defensive prowess last September, and I encourage everyone to read it. In a quick analysis of Lagares in center, one would be able to see that his starting position is routinely more shallow than most center fielders in the MLB. He’s able to do that because his speed allows him to catch up to the balls that go over his head, as seen here:

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

And here:

GIF courtesy of Amazin Avenue

As Sullivan wrote, playing so shallow, along with a quick first step and very sound fundamentals enables Lagares to catch up to balls quicker than usual, and closer to the infield. Once there, he’s able to fire the ball in and, despite not having the strongest arm in the world, overall has one of the best. Starting his throws so much closer to the infield lessens the need for a cannon arm like what Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes are known for. Shorter, more accurate throws makes Lagares nearly impossible to run on.

Teams have started to take notice of this, as Lagares’s 15 assists in 2013 have been nearly eliminated from his stat line this season, as the number now only stands at 4 in the middle of August. That’s because everyone is so deathly afraid of Lagares’s arm that they won’t run on him unless the circumstances are perfect. They know that he isn’t any average center fielder out there.

There are few center fielders in the league that can even come close to matching Lagares’s value. The only players that come anywhere near him in center are Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, Texas’s Leonys Martin, Arizona’s A.J. Pollock, and Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. No, not even my boy Mike Trout, who has admittedly fallen off defensively over the last couple of years, can sniff Lagares’s defensive value. And while these other guys may come close, Lagares is clearly better than all of them.

What does all of this mean for the Mets? 

A remarkable defensive center fielder is rare, and any team with a player like that should make sure that they do their best to retain that player, even if their offense is subpar. Watching Lagares at the plate might be a tough pill to swallow at times, but as long as the other seven position players are quality hitters, Lagares’s issues will be much less of a factor. Hitting him eighth and surrounding him with good bats will lessen the blow. In the case of Lagares, his exceptional defense more than makes up for his lackluster offense.

All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. All graphs courtesy of FanGraphs. 

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MMO Players of the Week: Murphy, Granderson, Colon, Oh My! Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:22:40 +0000 It’s been one of those wacky high and low weeks for the Mets yet again, showing that while the future looks bright, the present is rather bleak. It always seems as if each factor– offense, defense and pitching– seem to work independently. One day the offense will explode… but the defense will falter. The next day the defense is spectacular, but the pitching almost blows it. It’s a vicious cycle that the Mets cannot seem to break out of yet. Unfortunately for us, the Mets showcased this uneven system to us in full force, shrouding some spectacular standout performances with, as Keith Hernandez puts it, bad fundies. However, you cannot be a Mets fan without looking for every possible speck of good, even in the bad times. On that note, I present the MMO Players of the Week!

daniel murphy


After a slow start coming out of the gate after the All-Star Break, our lone representative reminded us why he was chosen in the first place. Daniel Murphy recorded AT LEAST one hit and one RBI in every game, except for the 11-inning win on Saturday. He still stands as the only everyday starter with an average above .300 (.303). With a whopping 8 RBI and 13 hits in 32 at-bats throughout the week, Murph is not only showcasing why he is the best hitter on the team, but is also building a strong case as to why he should be extended in the offseason. His defense vastly improved, his offensive game presently better than even a seven-time All-Star, Murphy could be a very important asset to the team’s success in the near future. However, a popular debate that has been going on for years has more fuel to it than ever: reap the highest benefit you can after a career year and trade him, or use his productivity to help solidify a contending team and extend him?

curtis granderson


Whether he was helping a pal earn his 200th career win or just making your run-of-the-mill impressive catch, Curtis Granderson was flashing the leather all week, reminding us that he can be a force with his glove as well as his bat. While some of these catches came during eventual Met losses, the most notable one of the week was on Friday’s nail biter in Philly, when Granderson made a sliding catch in the 9th with second and third, no outs to prevent the runs from scoring and secure career win number 200 for fan favorite Bartolo Colón. Speaking of which…

bartolo colon


The guy who has the internet buzzing with every at bat, the man with the helmet that probably needs a chin strap, your friend and ours, Bartolo Colon is finally a member of the 200-win club. Keeping his hot streak up (on the mound, that is), Colon went eight strong innings allowing only one run on six hits while fanning six. As always, Colon’s fastball was masterfully controlled and expertly placed, occasionally mixing in the offspeed pitch to generate the swing and miss when needed. Colon has been showcasing his craft at his best lately, whether bidding for a perfect game or a career milestone. We may not be seeing him for very much longer in a Met uniform, but we can enjoy his outings while we can– and his plate appearances.


Grab some refreshments, because this is gonna be a long one: Juan Lagares put on his own show this week, smacking doubles, triples and making his fair share of spectacular plays: nailing Gregor Blanco at the plate on Monday and making a great diving catch on Tuesday that knocked the wind out of him. Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud generated their own offense, hitting back-to-back jacks on Sunday in a game where the offense shined bright. Duda has been piecing together some high quality at bats, showing an aggressive side while also being able to work a count. d’Arnaud’s bat only continues to get better, proving that he can flourish to be the player he was scouted to be. Kirk Nieuwenhuis threw himself a birthday party in center field on Thursday, making two spectacular diving catches that were run saving and loomed large in a tie game that the Mets would eventually give away. Josh Edgin has really improved since last year, striking out five and giving up no runs in his appearances this week. Strong offense… star defense… stellar pitching… why can’t they ever work in harmony?!

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Flores Crushes Sixth Home Run In Four Days With 15 RBIs Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:11:25 +0000 wilmer flores

Wilmer Flores is an unstoppable force.

He did it again on Sunday, blasting another home run, scoring a pair of runs and driving in three.

He now has 18 RBI in his last ten games and six home runs in his last five games.

Since his demotion to Triple-A, Flores is batting .419 with a 1.352 OPS.

July 6

Wilmer Flores homered in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, giving him five home runs and 12 RBIs in the last three days. The righthanded slugger has hit in ten straight games and is batting .409 in that span with a 1.266 OPS.

Since June 27, when Flores was demoted and Ruben Tejada became the everyday shortstop, he is batting .225 (7-for-31) with no extra-base hits and one RBI.

Tejada has had his chances.

Tasked with filling the big shoes left by Jose Reyes‘ departure for Miami in 2012, Tejada played well. But after a promising start to his career, he fizzled, posting a paltry .218 average with mediocre defense over the past two seasons.

Perhaps he has kept the job this long for the sole reason that we have no other options; there are no free agents currently floating around, and no teams have been rushing to deal their franchise shortstop.

But today, the situation at the 6-slot is entirely different. Following a monstrous season at Triple A in 2013 where he smacked 15 home runs with 86 RBI’s, Wilmer Flores, put himself on the map as a viable option to be the 2014 starter. However, the front office chose Tejada this Spring and opted to let Flores go back to Triple-A. Eventually he was called up a month later, but played sparingly, mostly relegated to pinch-hit duty. For two months, one of our best hitting prospects was being treated like a marginal bench player.

Developmentally, I cannot fathom how difficult this must be for Flores. For a promising young player to be called up and sent down repeatedly, it can’t be easy. Confidence is everything for them at this age.

Flores has to be given the opportunity to play, hit everyday, and then we can see what we truly have and if he’ll blossom. Making Flores the starter now is also supported by practical reasoning. For a team so desperate for run production, it would make sense to get as many potent bats into the lineup as you can.

I can’t comprehend the logic in starting Ruben Tejada, a defense first, light-hitting shortstop, when we have such a better option in Flores, who can flat out hit and has proven himself throughout all levels of the minors. He has nothing left to accomplish there.

So why keep him in Triple-A when he can help in Queens now?

For those of you who are critics, I understand that starting Flores would sacrifice a little infield defense for offense, but this is a trade-off the Mets must accept. The opportunity for more production in a currently weak lineup cannot be passed up.

Bottom line is, it’s not like 22-year old prospects with plus-hitting skills grow on trees. Flores has tremendous upside as a young hitter and plays at a premium position. Run him out there. Let him play everyday. And who knows, maybe we’ll ultimately find our shortstop of the future.


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My American League All Star Team Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:00:36 +0000

The All-Star game is almost upon us and with that comes my annual two-post series revealing my picks, because I know you were all having trouble sleeping in anticipation. Well, fret no more. Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, but my votes are already in. Are yours?

Votes are all subjective, of course, but the following is how I came to choosing: Some comparisons and choices are easy. Some are not. In the case where good arguments can be made for more than one player, I lean towards the player with the more established career. This is the All-Star game, not the All-Good-For-Three-Months game. After that, I lean towards the player whose offensive contributions are greater. This is not how I would choose my roster for a real team, but as the saying goes, “Chicks dig the long ball,” and so do most casual fans, and this game is merely a fun exhibition. So let’s score some runs.

As I run through each position, I’ll highlight my top three candidates, and the first name listed is my choice for starter. In the end, I’ll have rounded out a 34-man roster with eight starters and thirteen each of reserves and pitchers, keeping in mind that every team has to be represented. It’ll make for a fun debate. So here are my choices for the American League:

Catcher – Derek Norris, Salvador Perez, Kurt Suzuki. This one was somewhat easy. Norris has been fairly convincingly the best offensive catcher in league, and is a decent receiver to boot. Salvador is a defensive whiz and can handle the stick. Suzuki falls in a cluster of deserving third-string backups, so I’ll give him the hometown nod because he’s a good enough hitter to justify the selection. Yan Gomes is a great defensive backstop but doesn’t quite have the offensive numbers to warrant a selection over Salvador or Suzuki.

Miguel CabreraFirst BaseMiguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Abreu. This is where I get a bit irritable that the ballots are released so early. Encarnacion is listed as a DH, but has only started at DH sixteen times as of this writing. He’s a first baseman and I’m listing him here. Defense isn’t a factor because all three (and most AL first baseman) are butchers. Brandon Moss also got consideration, but he butchers several positions equally and can’t be defined as a first baseman.

Second BaseRobinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jose Altuve. I thought about starting Kinsler because he’s been the all-around best second baseman in the league this season, and Altuve’s been the best hitter in the bunch, but Cano is one of the better players in the league and has the “superstar” pedigree. Brian Dozier and Howie Kendrick have had nice seasons, but not nice enough.

derek jeterShortstopAlcides Escobar, Erick Aybar, Derek Jeter. Jeter’s been a smidge north of abysmal this season, but he’s an all-time player and it’s his last season. That tends to resonate with the baseball community, so I’ll let him go. He’ll probably be voted in to start, but I have standards. Alcides has been hands down the best offensive shortstop this season and Aybar is in the next batch while playing superior defense. That next batch also includes Alexei Ramirez, who falls victim to Jeter’s farewell tour. Xander Bogaerts has had a mediocre-at-best season on first glance, but strangely enough, he’s hitting .296/.389/.427 as a shortstop, easily enough to earn the starting nod, but .143/.186/.264 as a third baseman. Signing Stephen Drew has weakened two positions in Boston.

Third BaseAdrian Beltre, Lonnie Chisenhall, Kyle Seager. Who should start was close. While Chisenhall has some stupid gaudy numbers, Beltre has been a top third baseman for years, so he earns the start. On June 1st, Josh Donaldson would be starting, but since then he’s hit .168/.213/.277 and allowed Seager to sneak in there. Big ups to Conor Gillaspie, who’s just a victim of bad timing. He’s having a real nice season, but has no power to speak of, and chicks dig the aforementioned longball.

mike-troutOutfieldJose Bautista, Mike Trout, Alex Gordon (left to right), Adam Jones, Yoenis Cespedes, Nelson Cruz. Quick note on Trout: If you extrapolate his 2014 season thus far, his 162-game average is .314/.407/.610 with 39 home runs, 45 doubles, 11 triples, and 22 stolen bases (hasn’t been caught yet). He plays a different game than the rest of them. I digress. This is actually the easiest position to call because the three starters are easily the three best outfielders this season, and they just happen to play each of the three positions. Works out well. Cruz would sub in right field for my All Star team so Cespedes can play left. Better defender earns his actual position. Jones is a solid center fielder. If Lorenzo Cain hadn’t missed some time, he’d get heavy consideration, but while his numbers are good, and he’s a defensive whiz, the full-timers get the benefit of the doubt. Michael Brantley was snubbed in favor of Cruz. Brantley has an edge in most facets of the game, but Cruz’s power advantage is significant. The knock on Cruz is his defense, and it’s miserable, but so is Brantley’s. If I were managing, Cruz would be my starting DH.

PitchersFelix Hernandez, Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel, Jon Lester, David Price, Phil Hughes, Dellin Betances, Sean Doolittle, Koji Uehara, Greg Holland, Joakim Soria.

Pitchers are always the biggest source of debate, but I’m very comfortable with this staff. Price could be questioned because his ERA is a little high, but I’d counter that by pointing out his peripherals are much better than his ERA suggests and he’s the lone Rays representative. You can debate Evan Longoria for third base and thus adding another pitcher instead of Price, and I’d listen, but in the end I don’t think Longo is more deserving than the three third basemen I chose and I really am confident in Price’s peripherals.

Hughes is another debate, on my team instead of Mark Buehrle, but Hughes has pitched much better when you look at the peripherals, is a hometown guy, and I really like his story this season. So far, he’s got to be the front runner for comeback player of the year. I tried to find a second set-up man instead of just sending Betances, but I couldn’t justify leaving off a starting pitcher for a middle reliever. Wade Davis is that snub, admittedly, and I guess I could have left Hughes off for him, but Hughes is a great story and I was a little uncomfortable sending two players from the same bullpen (Holland). Maybe you wouldn’t be.

35th Man candidates – Michael Brantley, Conor Gillaspie, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Brandon Moss.

Those are my votes. Who’d you vote for?

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Cyclones Drop 1-0 Contest In 10 Innings Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:00:51 +0000 Tom Gamboa (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Tom Gamboa (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Of course, the old saying in baseball that pitching and defense win games more often than not holds true.

But unfortunately that was not the case Monday night at MCU Park in Coney Island for the Brooklyn Cyclones (8-3), who dropped a 1-0 contest in 10 innings to the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Cyclones – who had won six straight games coming into this game – pitched and fielded well but failed to get a runner to second base all night. Pitching and defense may win games, but you still have to score.

“When we don’t get a guy to second base, we don’t have much of an opportunity to get a run,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa.

But Gamboa was still pleased with the team’s overall effort.

“That was fun to be a part of and fun to watch,” he said. “I had a feeling after two innings with the wind blowing in and watching both guys pitch, I told my coaches that this looks like it’s going to be a 1-0 game that probably goes extra innings. And it did. I wish the outcome would have been different, but I admire a well-pitched game.”

Right-hander Corey Oswalt followed up his six-scoreless-inning performance from last week with seven scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and one walk while striking out six in a no-decision. He’s started his stint in Brooklyn with 13.0 scoreless innings.

“I felt good in the pen, and I had the same game plan the second time I was facing this team,” Oswalt said. “I just stuck with the same game plan and attacked the hitters.”

Oswalt’s performance continues the Cyclones’ recent string of dominant starting pitching.

Through 11 games, Brooklyn starting pitchers have allowed more than two runs only once

In 60.2 innings, the starters have allowed just nine runs for a combined 1.35 ERA.

Oswalt said it’s become a friendly competition among the starting pitchers as who can out-do the previous night’s starting pitcher.

“There’s always competition, but it’s good when everyone is competing out there and it just only makes the team better,” the San Diego native said.

But on the opposing side, righty Hunter Wood turned in six scoreless innings himself for the Renegades, striking out five and walking only one.

The game was scoreless until the top of the 10th inning. Cyclones’ reliever Scarlyn Reyes, who has been baffling hitters in his previous two innings of work – gave up a two-out swinging-bunt infield single to Renegades’ designated hitter Coty Blanchard.

Blanchard then stole second base on a throw that Cyclones’ catcher Tomas Nido double-clutched. The next batter was center fielder Clayton Henning, who doubled to left center to drive in the only run of the game.

Cyclones’ shortstop Amed Rosario finished 2-for-4 with two singles to right field for two of the Cyclones four hits in the loss.

“What I told the guys is that we’re never going to lose, but some nights we’ll run out of innings, and tonight was one of those cases,” Gamboa said.

Brooklyn is right back in action Tuesday night in Hudson Valley for a 6:05 p.m. start. Tall lefty Alberto Baldonado, who tossed 5.2 innings of one run ball in his first start last week, takes the mound.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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Defensive Miscues, Walks Haunt Cyclones In Loss Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:00:11 +0000 Cyclones righty Gaither Bumgardner was the tough luck loser Monday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Cyclones righty Gaither Bumgardner was the tough luck loser Monday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It’s never a good sign when a baseball team has more errors than runs scored.

That was the case Monday night for the Brooklyn Cyclones (2-2), who dropped a 7-2 contest to the Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park in Coney Island – which evened the opening four-game series at two games apiece.

The Cyclones committed four errors and only managed two runs in the loss. In addition to shoddy defense, the team struck out 11 times – six looking – walked nine opposing hitters and even balked in a run. All in all, it was a game that manager Tom Gamboa hopes the team will put in its rearview mirror immediately.

“This was a typical rookie league game,” he said. “That’s all I can say about it.”

Only two of the Yankees’ seven runs were actually recorded as runs batted in – a bases-loaded walk and an RBI groundout – and only three of the seven runs were earned. The Yankees also wound up with more runs (seven) than hits (six).

Lefty Carlos Valdez, who was 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA in nine starts last season for Brooklyn, started the game and lasted four innings. He surrendered two runs but walked six batters, which ultimately led to his early exit.

“Carlos Valdez had real good stuff,” Gamboa said. “They didn’t hit him, but he was a victim of himself.”

Down 2-0, the Cyclones scored a run each in the second and third innings to tie the game. Designated hitter Tomas Nido scored on a fielder’s choice error in the second, and shortstop Amed Rosario plated left fielder Joe Tuschak – who finished 3-for-4 on the night – on a sacrifice fly in the third.

Right-hander Gaither Bumgardner relieved Valdez and pitched better than his numbers show. He gave up four runs in four innings, but they were all unearned as the Cyclones committed three errors behind him.

“I really thought Gaither Bumgardner pitched well tonight,” Gamboa said. “It’s a shame he took the loss, but he was victimized by our own defense. We shot ourselves in the foot with the three errors we made in the two innings.”

Two of those three errors were committed by right fielder Michael Bernal. He misplayed a scorching line drive that plated two runs and then bobbled a ball on a single, which allowed another run to score.

“There’s no question he (Bernal) had a tough night tonight,” Gamboa said.

Through four games, the Cyclones have now committed nine errors. The team ranked second in the New York-Penn League last year in fielding percentage, so Gamboa hopes his team’s defense will improve.

“The guys are trying,” Gamboa said. “They’re young, and they’re going to make mistakes. We hope that we can come back tomorrow and clean a lot of this stuff up in practice and play better tomorrow night.”

The Cyclones can put this tough loss behind them right away as they’ll host the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Click here to view the complete box score of this game.

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It’s Not the Dimensions of the Park, It’s the Complexion of the Team Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:27:33 +0000 lucas duda

The question of whether the Mets need to bring in the walls at Citi Field is back on the menu again after a season-ticket holder raised the issue with Sandy Alderson during a Q&A session held on Friday.

“Changing the ballpark is not a panacea for not hitting with men in scoring position,” Alderson said. “So when I suggest we look at the dimensions of the ballpark, that doesn’t mean that I think that’s the solution. It’s just part of the equation.”

A bigger part of the equation would be the makeup of the offense.

The one and only thing this team has going for them is their starting pitching. Our starting pitching has performed remarkably well and will only get better once Matt Harvey rejoins the fold next season.

Do we really want to undermine our one, solitary strength by bringing in the walls and making it even more accommodating for the opposition to beat us? Is that what we want?

Perhaps we should simply consider getting better hitters.

Perhaps we could do better for $7.5 million dollars than Chris Young.

Perhaps we should hit better than .224 in 609 at-bats with runners in scoring position, or better than .162 with the bases loaded.

You think a a few singles in those instances would have kept us from losing 17 games by just one run this season?

I would argue that as long as our lineup remains the same, moving in the fences another few feet will result in more runs for opposing teams while any uptick in offense will be negligible for the Mets.

Shortening the fences is not going to transform the Mets into a lineup laden with impact bats. What the Mets need are better players and the money to acquire them.

MMO footer

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From Left Field: Sloppy Defensive Fundamentals Dooming Amazin’s Thu, 22 May 2014 14:04:02 +0000 Wilmer Flores (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Wilmer Flores (Photo by Jim Mancari)

I was sitting on the edge of my seat at Citi Field last night in the top of the eighth inning with one out and runners on the corners for the Dodgers.

The dangerous Hanley Ramirez was up with the Mets only down by one run. Boy did we need a double play in that spot.

Ramirez likely would have been tough to double up, except maybe if he wound up hitting a sharp comebacker right to Jeurys Familia on the mound.

To my surprise, he did. Right off the bat, I’m thinking, “Wow, what a huge double play in that spot!”

But Familia all of sudden double clutches, and I see two guys – Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores – both hovering around second base and in each other’s way.

Naturally, the Mets fail to turn the double play and allow an insurance run to score. As if the script was written prior to the game, the Mets only muster one run in the next two innings – meaning the fielder’s choice off the bat of Ramirez produced what was essentially the game-winning run.

And it’s all because the Mets have trouble with the fundamentals.

In recent memory, the Mets pretty much have been in every game they’ve played. Yet they’ve now lost three in a row and 14 of the last 19 games.

How many times is this team going to shoot itself in the foot by making mental mistakes?

A slow trickler out in front of the plate with two outs, and Anthony Recker and Carlos Torres can’t communicate to get an out at first, allowing a run to score. And that was after a wild pitch that allowed the runner to move from second to third.

Another huge double play situation the next night, and Jacob deGrom induces the dangerous Brian McCann to hit a sharp grounder. Murphy throws to David Wright covering second due to the shift, but Wright makes a weak and wide throw to first. Of course, Alfonso Soriano follows that with the only run-producing hit of the game.

We know this team is not going to score five-plus runs per game. But the starting pitching has been better than the team’s record shows.

I’ve written about it already this season that the Mets can’t rely on playing “perfect games” every single night. But what they have to do is make the plays they are supposed to make – especially in game-changing situations.

On the play last night, there’s two ways to look at it. With a right-handed hitter batting in Ramirez, maybe Murphy and Flores communicated that Murph would cover on a comebacker. But the traditional play is that the shortstop takes the throw, since his momentum is already carrying him towards first base to complete the double play. They were already positioned in double-play depth, so it’s not like Flores had far to go.

Sure, Familia should have just thrown it in the general area, and hopefully one of the middle infielders still would have had enough time to take the throw and complete the play. But still, it should have been clear who was covering the base before the play, and the other middle infielder should have then backed up the play.

“Shoulda, woulda, coulda” at this point – and sadly, this phrase has been used way too often this season.

So after another tough loss, I left Citi Field discouraged. The silver lining: deGrom has looked great through two starts.

But without offense and with routine defensive miscues, his starts – and all the pitchers’ starts – will come to naught.

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Has Chris Young Been Guaranteed At-Bats? #FreeLagares Sat, 17 May 2014 14:07:55 +0000 juan lagares

Center fielder Juan Lagares is expected to return to the starting lineup on Saturday, when the Mets take on the Nationals at 4:05 PM.

Before last night’s game, Terry Collins told reporters that the reason Lagares has not been in the lineup for four of the last five games is because he has better offensive options among the outfielders.

“Right now, the defensive side, even though I’m a big believer in defense and the importance of defense, we’re not scoring,” said Collins.

“We’ve got to come up with some way to come up with some runs on the board. So I’m trying to put guys up there I think will drive in some runs.

What’s preposterous about that statement is that Lagares (.781) has over 100 points more in OPS than Curtis Granderson (.615), Eric Young Jr. (.659), and Chris Young (.667).

Collins says that Lagares is mired in a deep slump and that he needs to get him going. But in his last 12 games during this so-called slump, Lagares is batting .250 with a .342 on-base.

I mention that because every other player on the team aside from Daniel Murphy, have endured much worse slumps and the worst offenders have been the Young brothers and Granderson.

Mike Vaccaro of the NY Post points out that this perceived slump by Lagares began on May 5, the day after Lagares had a three-hit game in Denver and then was benched in favor of Bobby Abreu the next day in Miami.

On more thing to note is that for the offense upgrade Collins thinks he’s getting by playing other options instead of Lagares, the Mets have lost three straight and scored just two runs in those 27 innings. The last win came when Lagares was in the lineup and they beat the Yankees 12-7.

Lagares remains positive and professional about the situation, but points out that the inconsistent playing time makes it difficult to get into a good groove – as any major league player would tell you.

“It’s a little hard, but you have to be ready for the opportunity,” Lagares said of playing so infrequently. “You never know what’s going to happen. When you play every day, you can make better adjustments.”

Vaccaro says that the reason why one of the Mets most promising players has been mothballed comes down to two things:

  • A desperate attempt by Terry Collins to solidify his job security, although he is too stupid to realize he’s benching his third-most-talented player.
  • Sandy Alderson is egregiously commanding Collins to bench Lagares because of how much they are paying the other three members of the outfield.

I will also add that it’s very likely that Alderson has guaranteed Chris Young at-bats and Collins is probably being forced to play him regularly despite being the least productive of the four.

Lost in all of this is the fact that Lagares is the one player that most fans – the true New Yorkers – want to see when they buy tickets.

Most fans love Lagares because they tie him to this future renaissance the Mets brass keeps talking about. You know the one – “The Plan.”

Vaccaro closes:

No need for crystal balls. Just working eyes. The best way to score runs, best way to win games? Let the best players play. Every day. Only the Mets would try to reinvent a wheel that’s already flat.


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MMO Game Recap: Yankees 1, Mets 0 Fri, 16 May 2014 02:56:10 +0000 jacob jake degrom

The New York Mets (19-21) fell to the New York Yankees (21-19) by the score of 1-0 tonight at Citi Field, splitting the series two games apiece. The Mets were looking for a series victory against the Yankees tonight, with rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom making his Major League debut squaring off against Chase Whitley, who like deGrom was also making his Major League debut.

What you should know:

DeGrom was effective and dazzled straight out of the gate tonight, looking like a seasoned veteran. He would pitch seven innings, allowing one run and four hits while striking out six. deGrom was splendid tonight and did not deserve this loss. His only blemish came in the seventh inning when he allowed a double to Alfonso Soriano to score Brian McCann. The situation may not have occurred, however, but the Mets failed to turn a double play before Soriano’s at-bat.

DeGrom also had a good day at the plate, recording the first Mets hit for a pitcher of the 2014 season (Mets pitchers had previously gone 0-64 at the plate,) and dropped down a sacrifice bunt.

Chase Whitley also pitched well for the Yankees, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs while walking two. Dellin Betances would bail him out in the bottom of the 5th with two of Whitley’s runners in scoring position.

Betances would pitch 2 1/3 innings for the Yankees, striking out six of the seven batters he faced. Yankees pitchers would strike out fourteen Mets hitters altogether on the night.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game One

David Wright, as well as the rest of the team, had a miserable day at the plate, going 0-4 with three strikeouts. The Mets have not scored a run in eighteen innings.

The Mets bullpen pitched two scoreless innings with help from Scott Rice, Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin and Jenrry Mejia, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Chris Young is now 5 for his 36, and Gary Cohen made a comment tonight that if Juan Lagares had started in center field, there might have been a play at the plate on the lone Yankee run scored.

Final score: Yankees 1, Mets 0

Winning pitcher: Dellin Betances (2-0)

Losing pitcher: Jacob deGrom (1-0)

Save: David Robertson (7)

Well, that was a deflating loss to say the least. After the Mets put on an offensive clinic earlier this week at Yankee Stadium in which the Amazin’s scored twenty-one runs and hit nine home runs, the Mets offense was barren again, and their woes at Citi Field continue, as they are now scoreless in the last eighteen innings.

DeGrom’s outing tonight was reminiscent of many of Matt Harvey‘s outings last year, in which he never got any run support, and deGrom, unfortunately, took a hard luck loss.

On another note, Juan Lagares needs to start everyday in center field, and Wilmer Flores needs to start everyday at shortstop to see what he can do as well.

Bottom line: Not only is Lagares our best defensive player, but this season, he has also been one of our most consistent offensive players as well. I don’t care if Chris Young is making seven million dollars this year. He’s struggling. Start Lagares and sit Young. Lagares is very young and packed with potential. We can’t let him rot on the bench while Chris Young, who is only signed to a one year deal, is gone after this season.

As for Ruben Tejada, over his last ten games he is hitting .148, and is still flirting with the Mendoza line for the season. Flores’ offense has been talked about since day one, and right now that’s what this team needs. Offense. Yes, Tejada had a good couple of games earlier this week, but even a broken clock is right two times a day. His defense has been good, but I would easily trade in Flores’ offense and passable defense for Tejada’s almost non-existent offense and okay defense. The Mets starting pitching has not been the problem and everyone knows it. It’s time for the offense to start pulling its weight. The Mets are now two games under .500 for the season and need to pick it up soon before they become irrelevant for the seventh straight season.

On Deck:

The Mets start a weekend series with the Washington Nationals tomorrow night at Nationals Park with Jonathon Niese facing off against Tanner Roark. The Mets will look to turn things around, and win this series before returning home next week.


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Scouts Are High On Brandon Nimmo Wed, 07 May 2014 23:53:19 +0000 nimmo_2zeph9gs_yw6h0z3y

Baseball Prospectus today released a host of eyewitness scouting reports on top prospects in the minors, one including Brandon Nimmo, which, in contrast to other top picks like Bubba Starling is an excellent scouting report with a good future projection on his value. The scouting report was issued by scout Jeff Moore, who saw him on three separate occasions in May, with very satisfactory remarks. He evaluates the body type and the 5 tools of Nimmo, which will be shown below.

On Nimmo’s body type:

Tall frame, strong and well-developed for a 21-year-old, but with broad shoulders that still allow for some room to fill out.

Moore rates Nimmo’s contact tool at a 55:

Classic left-handed stance with quiet hands and a slight knee bend. Features a short swing, especially for a tall player, with a slight natural uppercut. Not an ultra-quick bat but enough to handle anything but the highest velocity. Has natural ability to put the barrel on the ball and is willing to use the whole field. Hits with a line-drive approach and is extremely patient at the plate, even in RBI situations. Hit tool will play up because of patience, which helps him get into hitter’s counts.

He also rates his power at a 55:

Does not have the premium bat speed needed to generate plus power, but does have good size and strength, a slight uppercut and creates natural backspin to help the ball carry. Still learning how to drive the ball, and his in-game power is limited by his all-fields/line-drive approach.

His speed was rated at a 50:

Does not have quick acceleration but runs well under way; long-strider.

As well as his glove:

Good route runner, makes the most of his speed in the outfield. Can play adequate defense in center field or plus defense on the corners.

And Arm:

Average arm strength. Will play in center or left; below-average in right field but won’t be a liability.

And in Summation:

Nimmo is still figuring out what kind of player he is going to be. He’s built like a power hitter but approaches his at-bats like a table-setter, and his game fits that mold. While none of his traditional tools stand out, he does have one premium ability—plate discipline. He refuses to expand the strike zone, even when he has an easy run-producing opportunity. He can be an above-average hitter, but the hit tool will play up because of the plate discipline. He could be a plus on-base player. His defensive profile is still a question, but if he gets on base and provides plus defense in an outfield corner, he could start on a first-division team.

My take on this Scouting Report:

This is Nimmo in a nutshell for the time being. He’s hitting a lot of singles at the moment, but knows how to barrel the ball, but is an interesting physical specimen that figures to grow some strength, and finally figure out how to drive it.  Scouts last year were not impressed with his bat speed apparently, and there isn’t too much quickness, but this scout assures that it’s enough to generate above-average power one day, or in terms of Citi Field- a lot of doubles and an average amount of home runs. His contact value and plate discipline gives him an above-average possibility when it comes to batting average, and his on-base-percentage will be one of the best in the league, should he succeed in the Major leagues. He should hit around .270 with 35 doubles, and 18-20 homers and a high on-base percentage if playing for the Mets in his peak years.

As a runner, if he fills out, I expect him to steal less. He has been learning the base paths, and aggression, but he isn’t going to be a 20-20 type guy, so you can strike Choo off your comparison list.

In terms of defense, no, he is no Juan Lagares, and I wouldn’t unseat Lagares for Brandon Nimmo, but he can hold his own in center, and would be a great fielder in Left Field, should Lagares stay with the Mets by the time he is called up. His arm wouldn’t be adequate for right, but would likely be better than Granderson, should he still be with the Mets in the future.

Just in general, this is a great scouting report from Baseball Prospectus on Brandon Nimmo, in contrast to others, like Bubba Starling who was picked 8 picks higher than Nimmo, who received a 30 on his future hit tool, and 55 in power, but his speed and defense received the higher marks.

To me, with Baseball America recently down on him, this shows the contrast in differing opinions with scouts. Nimmo won’t have an ultimate upside of a great power hitter, or a great contact hitter, or base-stealer, but he should succeed and at the very least become a good all-around player.

Presented By Diehards

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Lagares Rips Two Doubles In His Return Fri, 02 May 2014 14:48:26 +0000 future stars lagares

Juan Lagares returned to the Mets lineup on Thursday night after a stint on the 15 day disabled list, and didn’t skip a beat.

While batting leadoff, Lagares connected for two doubles and drove in the first Mets run of the game, while displaying his customary spectacular defense in center field.

Lagares lifted his batting average to a team best .327 for the season and said everything is back to normal regarding his physical condition and that his leg has felt great for well over a week. “I just want to go out there and try to do what I do,” Lagares said.

In Lagares’ first game back, Eric Young Jr. found himself on the bench. The speedy left fielder is hitting just .158 with a .273 on-base percentage in his last ten games.

It was amazing to see Lagares get back in the box and drive a double into the gap in his first at-bat of the game. The excitement he brings to the game and the impact he currently adds to that lineup cannot be understated.

Presented By Diehards

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The Frustration of Loving the Mets Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:30:06 +0000 Metallica+Performs+Mandalay+Bay+Las+Vegas+O6AZUBWLaZ9l

Someone once joked “Marriage is about finding that one special person to annoy you the rest of your life.” The same could be said of Baseball fans. In our case, we’ve found the Mets.

On Thursday, April 3rd, the Mets lost to Washington, 8-2 and dropped to 0-3. We’d given up 22 runs in 3 days. It was the first time in history we lost the first 3 games of the season at home. And worst of all, we had another 159 yet to go. That night I did what most Mets fans wanted to do: Drink heavily. I went to the kitchen and much to my chagrin, there was no bottle of Jack Daniels. I did the next best thing and began working on a blog for MMO. Angry, frustrated and yes, pissed off, I banged on the keyboard of my computer like I was Metallica’s Lars Ulrich. I went off on Fred and Jeff Coupon, M. Donald Alderson, the human windmill Ike Davis, Bartolo’s belly and the ‘Yankee in right field.’ I suggested that even Chico Escuela would be an improvement.

Don’t go looking in the archives for the blog cause it ain’t there. After winning 2 of the next 3 from Cincinnati, I deleted the blog before it was posted.

Why was I so annoyed? Because I love this team. I care about this team deeply. Kinda like a marriage. How long have you been with your current husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? Now, how long you’ve cared about the Mets? More than 2 of every 3 marriages fail. Spouses come and go. The Mets are forever. The Mets are the one team that will annoy us for the rest of our life.

1655864_662824207116611_99812273_nA little over a week later, the Mets were leaving Anaheim after getting crushed 14-2. Colon gave up 9 ER in 5 IP. We’d lost 2 of 3 that weekend, lucky to win the one game we did after blowing a lead in the 9th. We were 5-7. Frustrated, exasperated and yes, pissed off yet again, I took out my frustration on my poor, defenseless keyboard. Could I endure another 150 games of this torture? Sandy Alderson says this team will win 90 games??? Is he delusional, suffering dementia or just that out of touch? I posted the blog right around the time the Mets touched down in Phoenix for 3 games against the D-Backs.

Don’t go looking in the archives cause this one because it ain’t there either. (To let you all in on a little secret, with the exception of breaking news or game recaps, most posts pend for 24-48 hours. And thank goodness for that.) After sweeping the D-Backs, outscoring them 21-5, suddenly, somehow, someway, the Mets were amazingly over .500.

And suddenly, somehow, someway, we were playing some pretty good baseball. My own statements began to change. I went from:

SARCASM: Wow, the Mets actually won a game today

GUARDED OPTIMISM: Hey, the Mets won today.

BELIEVING: The Mets won again. Ohhh, boy…

CONFIDENCE:  Let’s kick some ass tonight, guys!

daniel murphy

Suddenly, somehow, someway, we were playing solid defense (second fewest errors in the league), anemic but timely hitting and pitchers were becoming stingy. Pitching and defense…just like 1969.

We went through 3 closers in 3 weeks. Ike Davis hit a Grand Slam…for Pittsburgh. Matt Harvey appeared flipping the bird: Plenty of fodder to complain about and air my frustrations. But this time, I held back. We were playing well and winning has a tendency to decrease the relevance of such trivial things.

When MLB Network shows their Premier Plays, I still get impressed with good defense. Watching an outfielder stick their glove over the wall and robbing someone of a HR never gets old. Nice! Watching a third baseman snag a line drive destined for the corner, plant his feet and fire across the diamond to nail the batter by half a step always elicits a Wow. And though I shouldn’t admit this, after all these years I still like seeing Derek Jeter do that thing where he leaps, turns in mid-air and fires to first base. Awesome. But when it’s one of our guys, when it’s Daniel Murphy turning a seemingly un-turnable 6-4-3 double play or when Travis d’Arnaud nails the potential tying run at the plate, I don’t say Wow, Nice! or Awesome. I just smile proudly. Those are MY GUYS, MY TEAM, MY METS.

"Positive thinking breeds positive results."  ~  Tug McGraw

In late 1973, Tug McGraw coined ‘Ya Gotta Believe.’ No one will ever know if Tug really believed it. The fact remains, however, that the Mets went from 5th place on August 31 to within one hit of winning the World Series six weeks later.

And since that unlikely pennant, we fans have repeated Tug’s mantra over and over and over and over. Almost blindly, robotically regurgitating a tired worn-out cliché that originated back during the Nixon administration. Even when the Mets had no legitimate chance, no matter how bleak and how awful our team was, we spewed Ya Gotta Believe. Maybe if we said it often enough there’d be another miracle.

seaver santana

From Seaver to Santana, from Darryl and Dykstra to Dessens and Duda, from Knight to Wright, from Pacella to Pedro to Parnell, from Mazz to Kaz, from Doctor K to Generation K to K-Rod, from Bobby V to Dillon Gee, from John Franco to Matt Franco to Julio Franco, we’ve repeated Tug’s war cry until we ourselves get tired of hearing it.

But is there legitimacy this time? Since starting out 0-3, the Mets have played .652 ball, going 15-8. Granted we’re only 1/6 through the season. But just weeks ago we asked ourselves, ‘Can I take six more months of this torture?’ Perhaps the coming months wont be as hopeless as we anticipated. Who amongst us isn’t—even in a small, tiny, microscopic way—starting to ‘believe?’

Will our pitching hold-up? Can we expect 41-year old Colon to keep it up all year? Will NL batters learn to hit Wheeler? Can our young untested pitchers compete in the heat of a pennant race if we get to the summer and are still playing solid? Maybe, maybe not. But did anyone think we had a chance in 1969?

Presented By Diehards

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Mets Defense Leading the Way Sat, 26 Apr 2014 18:21:26 +0000 mets win granderson

What a refreshing sight last night to see the Mets lose the lead, and not quit.  For the first time in what seems like forever, the Mets didn’t mope around as if the game was already over when the Marlins pulled ahead late. Their come from behind victory is exactly the type of game that changes a team in the clubhouse overnight.  It’s the type of game that makes players believe in themselves.  I don’t recall a Mets team that believed in themselves in a long time.

The presence of Curtis Granderson in the lineup, even with the .140 avg, brings an element to the team that we have been missing.  He was not going to make an out in that situation.  It didn’t matter who we were playing.  It didn’t matter who was on the hill.  He was not making the last out of the game.  He let the Marlins, the fans, and most of all his Met teammates, know that we can win.  He let everyone know that we have a chance in every game.  So what if Steve Cishek is on the hill to lock down his 33rd consecutive save.  Granderson let everyone know that the Marlins are not better than we are, and now his teammates know it too.

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at St. Louis Cardinals

The win put the Mets at 13-10 on the season during a brutal early season schedule that has included the Mets being matched up against the top 10 NL ERA leaders seven times already.  That’s one third of our total games played.  The Mets have faced the suddenly untouchable, and current NL ERA leader, Aaron Harang twice, man on a mission, Ervin Santana, twice, while also seeing Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, C.J. WilsonAdam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn.  To come out of the first part of that schedule at 13-10 is about as good of an outcome as we could’ve possibly imagined.

How did we get there?  If you take a quick look at the early season team stats, the offensive numbers look absolutely putrid on paper.  It wasn’t our offense.  Although, we have scored a ton more runs than what would normally be produced by a team last in the NL is almost every statistical category. Are we looking are the wrong offensive numbers?

Maybe Sandy’s philosophy is finally paying off. It sure was nice to see Michael Wacha reach 100 pitches after four innings in the second game of a four game set. We tired out the bullpen, and got one of the best starting pitchers in baseball out early. Did we hit him hard? No, but he didn’t come out for the fifth inning, and we were up 2-1 with the Cardinals bullpen facing a long day of work.  Did that also help us win games 3 and 4 of the series?  Was the Cardinals bullpen exhausted from throwing additional innings from us taking pitches against Wacha?  Something to think about.

Our pitching has been pretty good.  Hasn’t it?  Our team ERA is 3.70 good for 11th out of 15 teams in the NL.  If you remove the Angels game, in which Colon got blasted, its looks better, but why remove it?  It happened. The team ERA is certainly not good enough to withstand such a small offensive contribution.

Surprisingly, its been our defense that has had the biggest impact on our team, currently the third best record in the senior circuit. Yep.  You read that correctly.  The Mets have played tremendous defense in the early part of the season.  Possibly the best in baseball thus far.  The Mets are 2nd in the league in Fielding Percentage at .986, 4th in Defensive Runs Saved/Year, according to Baseball Reference, and 2nd in fewest errors with 12. For comparisons sake, the Nationals, or shall I say, “the 3rd place team in the NL East”, have committed 25 errors thus far.  The simple fact is, the Mets are playing some “D”.

ytavis d'arnaud home

Behind the dish, TDA & Recker have all but eliminated the opposition’s run game with an NL leading 5 stolen bases allowed. Compare that to the Padres, who have allowed a whopping 26 steals.  Mets catchers have thrown out 44% of would be base steals for 2nd in CS%, and just ahead of St. Louis and the howitzer that is attached to Yadier Molina‘s right shoulder, who sits at 43%. The D-Backs and Cubs have thrown out 4% of attempted base stealers. It seems all of those passed balls that TDA has had isn’t hurting the Mets that much. I think its because the Mets’ tandem have but a single PB to date on the young season.  Funny how things get blown out of proportion sometimes.

At first base, the defensively challenged Lucas Duda, has committed a colossal ZERO errors, a stretch of errorless baseball that dates back to 2012 for Lucas while playing 1B. I thought the guy had stone hands.  What gives? The Giants and D-Backs with their defensive dynamos at 1B in Brandon Belt & Paul Goldschmidt have committed 3 errors each. For the saber guys, the Mets are 2nd in DRS and DRS/Year by a wide margin at 1B.  Looks like Duda isn’t a defensive liability anymore.

The keystone position has seen Daniel Murphy play really solid defense thus far.  He did have the two error game earlier in the year, but I would bet Murph didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night before as he and his wife celebrated the birth of their first child. Say what you want about Murph, but he has been outstanding at 2B this year.

David Wright leads all 3B in Fldg%, and made his first error of the season last night. He’s always strong defensively, and Tejada has been solid defensively at SS of late, as well.

juan lagares

In the outfield, the Mets boast 5 outfielders in the top 17 of Baseball-Reference’s DRS/Year statistic. Eric Young Jr. has been superb in left field, with three OF assists in the early going, as he has one of the highest defensive WAR of any outfielder in baseball thus far.

Juan Lagares leads the league in range factor, and is slightly ahead of teammate Chris Young.  Granderson has played really good defense and the ball he caught in right field down the line to end the game against the Cardinals was a lot tougher than it looked.  The wind was swirling like a pinwheel that evening.

All in all, the Mets have gotten off to the hot start because they are not only NOT giving opponents additional outs. They hare taking away hits.

Its fun to see a fly ball hit in the air, and two guys waiting underneath to catch it each time.  Our outfield defense is freakishly good. We the fans have had our sense of reality skewed a bit while watching balls fly out of the yard during the steroid era, and we are constantly thinking we need more offense to win, but why do we always say, “we need to score more runs” or “we need more offense”?  Why don’t we ever say, “we need to limit the opposition’s scoring” or “we need solid defense.” 

We don’t have a very good offense right now, but our record says we have a very good team. The Mets look for their 6th win in their last 7 games at………home?  Maybe it was the food.

Presented By Diehards

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The Traditional Importance of Mets Pitching Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:44:31 +0000 harvey gee wheeler

Traditions are interesting. They place events from the here and now in a historical context so that we may gain some insight or understanding about what the events mean. My parents, for instance, are from two adjacent towns on an island in the Mediterranean where Easter is stacked with strange traditions that culminate in the Easter Eve midnight massacring of each others’ church domes with tens of thousands of homemade rockets.

The following day they will count the number of broken roof tiles to determine who won the “battle.” The Ottomans tried to suppress the tradition as its organizational structure (secret basement and backyard “rocket cohorts” composed of mostly young men) had a clear potential for more subversive purposes, but it persists to this day. Traditions are resilient that way.

The military, for those of you who’ve served in one of our four fine branches, is steeped in tradition. I remember how surprised I was to receive 4 full days of liberty following November 10th festivities celebrating the Marine Corps’ birthday. Everything from cadence to uniforms to the stories passed down to us about Tun Tavern and Belleau Wood and the Frozen Chosin, all served to indoctrinate us into the culture and history of what we’d become a part of.

In the end, traditions are a means. They speak to how we transfer critical information from one generation to the next, a kind of generational mnemonic.

Baseball is loaded with tradition, perhaps more than any other sport, and for good reason. Generations in baseball are not like normal lifespan generations that last the 70 odd years most of us can expect to live. A generation in baseball doesn’t last very long. When we think baseball “careers” we tend to imagine the typically longer more successful careers that run anywhere from 12 to 16 years, but the reality is that the average baseball career is much shorter.

Back in 2007 Sam Roberts of The NY Times published a piece discussing longevity in baseball and cited a study that looked at 5,989 position players who began their careers between 1902 and 1993 and who played 33.272 years of major league baseball. They found that the average career for a rookie entering the majors is a measly 5.6 years. Now granted many rookies flame out and career norms for players for instance in their third year tend to be longer, but the fact remains, there is tremendous turnover in baseball. On any given team, if you stick around long enough the personnel will be largely different every 5 or 6 years.  So tradition takes on an even greater role because it’s the one thing that remains constant generation after generation of players coming up from the minors.

Tony Stark

The Mets have their own traditions, their own uniforms and stories passed down to them, their own sacred relics. Met tradition is rooted in the Miracle of 1969, and to a lesser degree the 1986 Championship season. Met tradition is entrenched in the successes of the past, and that success has been, and more than likely will be (should we ever be treated to it again), grounded in lights-out, shutdown, overpowering pitching. Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden and many other greats led our pitching heavy success stories. The lessons learned? We live and die by our pitching. To quote a Tony Stark line from Iron Man, “That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”

It is no surprise that tradition is a means to relay information that is heavily relied upon by military organizations. Building on previous success emboldens and prepares current generations with winning strategies, confidence, and important lessons. Even the church blasting rocket tradition in all likelihood had its organizational roots in any number of insurgencies against very real oppressors, and in the absence of these oppressors turned to more peaceful village rivalries with only a few annual blown off fingers as casualties.

The Marines instill their recruits with a sense of pride and “esprit de corps.” Camaraderie through mindless drill and the drudgery of boot camp and amazing stories of courage and sacrifice serving to produce remarkably cohesive units that function seamlessly under fire – with the ability to maintain morale under unbelievable hardship.

buddy harrelson pete rose

Traditions teach us who we are based on who we’ve been, they teach us how to conduct ourselves based on how we’ve conducted ourselves in the past. They are an integral part of organizational success and as such should never ever be ignored. To do so is to invite failure, as Mike Piazza did after Clemens threw the bat … That certainly wasn’t a Bud Harrelson (vs. Pete Rose) moment, or even a Ray Knight (vs Eric Davis) inspired trot to first … the Metropolitans traditionally have never shied away from a scrap, in fact they’ve often appeared to look for one.

The Mets of course play in the National League, and have always played their home games in pitchers’ havens.They were conceived during a pitching dominated NL “small ball” era and when you add Shea’s dimensions to their humble origins, you can see the where and why of our fine Met pitching tradition.

2014 is a pivotal season in this regard. The current generation of Mets is tasked with a monumental task — learning to win. What better way to do that than by looking at what has worked in the past? It’s a hard lesson, particularly after the horrendous failures of our recent history. Many fans are hesitant to embrace any inkling of success given so many losing seasons and point to a futile offense and shaky bullpen, but after last night’s 2 – 0 win against another NL franchise loaded with pitching and small ball success (the Cardinals of course), I feel compelled to point out that last night’s victory was as reminiscent of games from 1969 and 1973 as I’ve seen in a very very long time. The pace, the defense, the pitching, last night had it all, and that is significant.

Pitching and defense are in our blood… 2–0 games should be ingrained in the DNA of every Met prospect in every Met franchise throughout the minors. This is our template, our formula, our recipe. Embrace the stinginess and the tension Met fans, I’ll take a traditional 2–0 win any day over a 7–3 slugfest. We can put last night’s win in the books, and in historical context … 2 – 0 type games are how we roll. It’s a good sign folks, perhaps a harbinger … provided we can repeat the delivery.

Traditions are resilient, and I have to say there may even be something magical about them. There is a painful irony to the fact that 2006 ended tragically at the hands of a defense first backstop whose only home run vs. the Mets came in the post season, against a power laden Met team lacking its traditional pitching first make-up. Personally, I’ll take Wheeler, Harvey, Mejia, Syndergaard, and Montero going forward over any host of boppers and mashers.

Embrace the stinginess Met fans, embrace the tension!


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MMO Players of the Week: Lagares and Niese Cop Top Honors Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:43:33 +0000 Mets POTW

This week in Mets baseball was just like any other: stagnant offense, average defense and bi-polar pitching. At the close of week two, it became apparent that more than one player was going to have to hit consistently for this team to experience constant success and reach that seemingly astronomical 90-win goal. However, despite the up and down pattern we have been seeing from this team, there are only a very small group of people who have heard cheers and not boos from the fans– our MMO Players of the Week!

USATSI  juan lagares


There was no need to keep these categories separate: Juan Lagares has once again stolen the show. Before I get into him, I would like to give a hefty nod to the Mets who had huge games: Eric Young Jr for his historical night on Tuesday and Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla on Saturday night who basically won the game for the Mets; however I could not give them any honors this week on account of they either did not start for the majority of the week or simply did not perform consistently enough to be considered.

Juan Lagares, however, is a completely different story. While he did not have a humongous week, he still not only recorded at least one hit in every game this week, but he still leads the team in RBIs at 7. When you compare his offense from last season into this season, the change is substantial: he is taking a marginally less amount of pitches and is developing an aggressive recognition of the strike zone and certain pitch types– a fantastic example of this was during Saturday night’s extra inning game when Lagares took a pitch that could not have been any closer to the strike zone without being called a strike. On the next pitch, he stroked a single into center field and would come around to score two batters later. His discipline has improved significantly and while in all seriousness it is not likely that he can keep this streak up, it’s refreshing to see that Lagares’ biggest question going into the season, is being thoroughly addressed. He’s learning and improving.

Now, onto the defensive side: the defense this week was just as it has been the last week: relatively consistent, but nothing overwhelming. David Wright has made a few flashy plays, but at this point that barehanded play is routine for him. Quintanilla had a good night on Saturday, but he has only made one start all season. That leaves one player: Juan Lagares. It may seem repetitive, but he is truly worth the recognition he is getting so far. On Wednesday night in Atlanta, Lagares made a beautiful leaping catch to rob Freddie Freeman of an extra base hit. Lagares’ defense has arguably been the most consistent so far this season. Unsurprisingly, this consistency is exactly why he seems to be the most exciting player to watch thus far. He has not just been having one great game a week, or having a night where he makes an array of good plays, but he has been playing all around solid baseball since Opening Day. Like I said last week, it is not at all far fetched to consider Lagares an early contender for the All Star game if he keeps up this level of play.

 USATSI  jon niese


This honor was 100% about to go to Bartolo Colon… until yesterday’s game. With Colon getting absolutely hammered by the Angels and the rest of the starting pitching being relatively weak this week, the honor goes to Jon Niese. Our lone lefty in the rotation tossed a very respectable 7.1 innings, striking out five and only giving up three earned runs, two of them leaving the ballpark (but let’s be honest, which pitcher DIDN’T let up at least one home run this week?).

Early on, his curveball has looked as good at is has ever been and it is wonderful to see him starting to throw it a bit more. When his fastball was working for him, it was a spectacular weapon that even froze some Angel hitters. While he did make some mistakes that seemed costly at the time, it makes me feel so great to say that for once, the Mets offense actually bailed him out. Of course, I have to give a special mention to Bartolo Colon‘s start against the Braves at the beginning of the week, which was absolutely dominant. Shutting out a team with Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and the red hot Justin Upton is not an easy thing to do, but he did it, not allowing any Brave with the exception of Justin Upton to have a multi-hit game.

We all know what the Mets starters are capable of, and we all know what the offense can do as well… now it is just a matter of putting the pieces together and letting the chemistry unfold. We’ve got 85 wins until we hit 90!

bleed orange & blue  button

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Lagares Continues To Prove He Belongs Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:14:00 +0000 USATSI juan lagares

Juan Lagares has certainly been showing Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson that he deserves to be playing every day and that his permanent spot in the lineup should remain unchanged when Chris Young is ready to come off the disabled list.

Yes, it is still early in the season and it’s still a small sample size – but at this point, he has been the Mets best everyday player.

We all know about his stellar defense and few now doubt that Lagares is indeed the best center fielder in the game. Additionally, we’re also seeing more and more baserunners holding back on the basepaths for fear of being gunned down at second, third or home.

Lagares leads Mets in these categories:

  • Batting Average – .319
  • On-Base Percentage - .353
  • Runs Batted In – 7
  • Base Hits – 15
  • Slugging Percentage – .468
  • Total Bases – 22

Thoughts from Joe D.

It blows my mind that there are still those who doubt Juan Lagares. Despite his stellar performance in Winter Ball, followed by a solid showing in Spring Training, and now an incredible start to this season. we still have doubters who say his performance is the result of sheer luck. He doesn’t walk enough… He strikes out too much…  It’s hilarious… Maybe we should just bring Andres Torres and Collin Cowgill back…

I’ve been believing in Lagares since the 2011 season. I called him the best defensive player in our organization two years before he actually came up and proved it.  

Offensively, I’ve always had Lagares ranked ahead of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker. He makes solid contact and can drive the ball to all fields, He pairs that with a deceptive power/speed combination. Lagares is a hard worker who continues to improve. Is he going to keep hitting .320? No, of course not, but he certainly can hit .280 and given the total package that makes him a valuable asset and everyday player.

The problem, as I see it, is that I’m not sure Terry Collins understands that. On Saturday, he still referred to Lagares as “a hacker” and said “he is what he is”. That was his assessment last September as well. Considering the strides he’s made since then, and that Lagares has personally put three “W’s” in Collins’ pocket this season already, you would think he’d be more appreciative of his talents…

Sorry Terry, but this kid is a lot more than a hacker…

Collins also told reporters this weekend, that the activation of Chris Young will usher in a three-man platoon in the outfield. Really? Because that’s worked out so well at first base…

Once again I call on the Mets GM to take this decision out of the manager’s hands and say officially that Juan Lagares is the Mets’ everyday center fielder. 

It should be a matter of fact just like David Wright is at third base. The job should be Lagares’ to lose. Period.

future stars lagares

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From Left Field: Playing A ‘Perfect Game’ Is Too Much To Ask Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:52:30 +0000 USATSI bartolo colon

We all know what a perfect game is.

27 up, 27 down.

But a “perfect” game can also be when a team excels in all aspects of the game in the same night: pitching, hitting and defense.

When a team plays a “perfect” game, they usually win. It’s pretty simple, since if all three aspects are perfect – especially pitching and defense – it means the other team didn’t score many runs.

With the way this Mets team is built, the only way for them to consistently win games is for them to play perfect games. The problem is that playing a perfect game is extremely difficult – especially multiple perfect games in a row.

Tuesday night in Atlanta, the Mets basically played a perfect game. They hit in timely situations, fielded well enough – despite two errors, one which could have been costly – to keep them in front and received dominant pitching by Bartolo Colon for seven innings.

Sure, Jose Valverde gave us a scare at the end, but the team hung on for the win and that’s all that mattered.

It’s a lot of pressure for a team to know it has to be perfect to win games. Unfortunately for the Mets, that’s the mindset right now.

They’ve received decent starting pitching so far, but this team’s offense is anemic. If they are only going to score three or four runs a game, it’s imperative that the pitching and defense be perfect.

Last night, Zack Wheeler pitched well for four innings, but he came apart in the fifth. The Mets mounted a nice comeback in the ninth, but did we really expect the team to make up a four-run deficit against Craig Kimbrel?

A one- or two-run deficit? Maybe. But we know this team has its limitations, so we can’t expect to come from behind every night.

If this team’s offense could ever click, then maybe a pitcher giving up four runs over five or six innings wouldn’t be so bad. The whole point of this game is to score more runs than the other team, so even if you give up 10 but score 11, you win.

The most runs the Mets have scored this season was seven, and it came in the Opening Day, 10-inning loss to the Nationals. The only other time they scored more than four was the Ike Davis walk-off grand slam game.

Sadly, we will likely see too many 2-1 or 1-0 losses this season. What that tells me is that even on days when the starting pitching and defense click, the offense falters.

We’ve got plenty of season to go, but the thought of having to play a “perfect” game every night is daunting to think about.

Nights like Monday could happen every once in a while, but the reality is that those nights are too rare for a team to live by.

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Ruben Tejada Leads The Mets With A .400 OBP Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:22:40 +0000 ruben tejada

Don’t look now, but among Mets players with 20 or more at-bats on the young season, shortstop Ruben Tejada is second on the team in batting with a .286 average and he pairs that with an impressive team-leading .400 on-base percentage.

The young Panamanian native has taken a lot of flack over the last six months, but to his credit he’s been quietly going about his job and trying to put an abysmal 2013 season behind him.

Before last night’s 4-0 victory over the Braves, manager Terry Collins spoke about his starting shortstop’s performance thus far.

“I think Ruben certainly had some work ahead of him in spring training,” Collins said. “He’s started out this season probably the way you’d like him to. Confidence is up, his at-bats have been good, he’s played good defense. I think as we get into it and towards the warmer months, I think he’ll get better if we can keep him healthy. He’s going to play a lot. We gotta figure out some days off for him coming up here beyond this road trip, but he’s played very well so far.”

Tejada went 2-for-3 in Tuesday’s contest, driving in two runs and scoring another pair, but what has been tough to ignore is his growing confidence at the plate. He’s having some solid at-bats and squaring up the bat evenly against the ball.

Another thing worth noting is his patience at the plate which was on full display in his first at-bat against Braves starter Aaron Harang when he drew a five-pitch walk.

All in all it’s been a good start for Tejada who has hit in six of the team’s first seven games.

Defensively, Tejada committed his first error of the season in last night’s game, but he’s shown some significant improvement from the shaky defense he had exhibited this Spring and much of last season.

I’ve gotta tip my cap to him…

addicted to mets button

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