Mets Merized Online » giancarlo stanton Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:17:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Something Fishy Is Going On In Miami Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:34:59 +0000 Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins

While most in baseball still shudder at the thought of that monstrous $325 million deal that Giancarlo Stanton signed with the Marlins, it’s not as outrageous as it seems on the surface when you consider what Miami owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson told Pirates president Frank Coonelly recently.

“They thought it was a great deal. I just couldn’t get my head around the $325 million. They said to me, ‘You don’t understand. (Stanton) has an out clause after six years. Those first six years are only going to cost $107 million. After that, he’ll leave and play for somebody else. So, it’s not really $325 million.’”

What’s going on in Miami lately? When the Marlins promised Stanton that they would continue to build a team around him that was supposed to be a pile of BS intended only to get Stanton to sign on the dotted line, right? Apparently not.

The Marlins have been wheeling and dealing ever since locking in their right fielder and have since added speedster Dee Gordon and some right-handed power in Michael Morse to an already talent laden lineup that potentially looks like this:

  1. Dee Gordon (2B)
  2. Christian Yelich (LF)
  3. Giancarlo Stanton (RF)
  4. Michael Morse (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Marcell Ozuna (CF)
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C)
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria (SS)

Apparently they’re still not done as rumors circulate that they are shopping starting pitcher Dan Haren – who they obtained in the Gordon trade – to a West Coast team for another arm to bolster their bullpen.

The Marlins improved by 15 games in 2014 and are hungry for more according to president of baseball operations Michael Hill.

“When you lose 100 games, you’ve got a lot of work to do,”  said. “We made a lot of strides in 2014, but as we’ve said, we still have more to do and further to go, because we still aren’t playing into October, and that’s the ultimate goal. We wanted to continue to build upon the assets that we have.”

“We feel like we’ve got good, young players, and we want to surround them with players who give us the opportunity to win games,” Hill said. “I think we’re on our way into doing that. We’re trying to make our club better and address needs we’ve identified to help us improve.”

The Marlins are how focused on keeping their young core intact and have already reached out to right-hander Jose Fernandez, left fielder Christian Yelich, center fielder Marcell Ozuna and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria about long-term deals.

The Marlins are definitely a team to watch in 2015 as they are now viewed as legitimate contenders for at least a Wild Card. The scary part is that most baseball experts believe that Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna haven’t even scratched the surface of their vast potential.

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Marlins and Stanton Agree To 13 Year, $325 Million Extension Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:17:47 +0000 Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton have agreed to a new 13-year, $325 million contract extension, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The deal includes a full no-trade and opt-out clause that kicks in after Stanton turns 30 years old.

November 13

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Miami Marlins are looking to offer Giancarlo Stanton a record breaking deal for professional sports that would pay the slugger at least $300 million over the next decade.

A 10-year contract would cover Stanton’s final two years of arbitration and eight years of free agency, keeping the outfielder under club control through age 34.

The Marlins have also decided to shelve their strict policy against no-trade-clauses, citing that Stanton is a special player and someone you make exceptions for.

The paycheck alone would make this deal seem like a slam dunk, but there’s more to the storyline here than just the financial benefits. Is it possible that Stanton will be locked up through the prime of his career by the end of this offseason?

I’m not sold on it.  Stanton was the last man standing after ownership dismantled the team back in 2012 and he remembers Jose Reyes being encouraged to purchase a home close to the stadium only to be traded to Toronto shortly after.  Stanton wants to win a championship, players of his caliber want professional glory, not just the dollars.  It’s reasonable to assume that the 25 year old phenom may question whether Miami will remain committed to building a contender or be stuck in a perpetual phase of rebuilding.

Honestly, this is big, If Stanton doesn’t sign with the team it’s a clear indication that he wants out and teams around the league will start scrambling to assemble trade packages for his services.  The Marlins may react quickly to move him for a clean sweep of another organizations top prospects and in a flash we may find Giancarlo on a whole new team.

Either way, Miami is in a great position.  If they sign Stanton, they’ll have the best hitter in baseball for at least the rest of this decade.  If they trade him, the return will likely include the top 5-6 prospects from his new team and anyone worth bartering with will have serious trade chips.

Regardless, the Mets are likely out of any conversation should Stanton become available, especially after the recent signing of Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson signed through 2017. But it will still be interesting to see if this turns into a frenzy or if he actually stays put for good.

Incidentally, Stanton finished second in the MVP voting tonight behind winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.

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Justin Upton For Noah Syndergaard? Wed, 05 Nov 2014 22:48:26 +0000 justin upton 2

John Harper of The Daily News discussed a potential trade parallel between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves.  The idea is to trade Mets RHP prospect Noah Syndergaard for a return of Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton.  Neither team has publicly entertained the deal, but it has traction.

It certainly makes more sense than signing an underwhelming free agent simply because the spending signals a desire to win, or because it’s all that’s available.  Upton would immediately transform the Mets lineup, so what needs to happen in order for this to be more than a rumor?

The Braves need very little for this deal to manifest.  Upton is an elite talent, but the Braves have a solid farm system and will likely decide to hold on to homegrown right fielder Jason Heyward when he and Upton are available for free agency next season.  Atlanta will spend money when needed, but they’re a well balanced club that does their best to be efficient.  They’re in a transitional stage with their talent and should be considered a logical candidate to shed soon to expire contracts while simultaneously stockpiling elite talent.  Syndergaard would be a welcomed addition on nearly any MLB team and his assets speak for themselves, particularly in a league that covets power pitching.

Upton is the exact type of baseball player the Mets should target, if a bold move like shipping Noah brings him to Queens in 2015, he is one of a short list of players worth doing it for.  Of course there are obstacles, the biggest being team control and finances.

The 27 year old slugger would have to sign an extension prior to putting on a Mets uniform, likely in the neighborhood of 7 years, $120+ million, and this is just a conservative estimate.  This means Mets ownership would have to expand payroll anywhere around $20 million more than 2013 levels. The Wilpons have boldly claimed there’s flexibility, but is there any truth to that?

If this rumor picks up even a little bit of steam and manifests into a real discussion between the clubs, any effort by the Mets to avoid executing the deal would be the first real stress test of this team’s financial health.  If Atlanta showed interest and Upton stated a willingness to strike a long term deal, the onus would be on the Mets to push payroll closer to or over $100 million.

The return would be a game changer for the Mets though.  He’s a toolsy and athletic ball player whose averaged 147 games, 25 home runs, 90 runs scored and 80 RBI over the last six seasons.

Critics will cite his high strikeout totals and his 2014 campaign won’t help counter the argument.  He had 171 strikeouts this year and strikeouts are already a major issue with the Mets. The odd thing is, he still managed to produce a .270 average, and .833 OPS, 34 doubles, 29 home runs and 102 RBI along with those strikeouts. Plus if Kevin Long is every bit as good as they say he is, Upton would only thrive as he enters the prime years of his career.

Joe D recently lamented on the dwindling window to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, who could likely sign a long term contract that would make him a Miami Marlin well past his prime.  A deal for Stanton was always a long shot, but it was certainly more than a fabricated rumor.  A trade for Justin Upton should be more than that too.

Lets! Go! Mets!


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Marlins Looking To Get A Stanton Deal Done Before Winter Meetings Mon, 03 Nov 2014 20:13:33 +0000 Giancarlo-Stanton-Marlins1

In an interview with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden, Miami Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said the team’s goal is to try and sign their young star Giancarlo Stanton before the Winter Meetings in December.

The Marlins are looking to get their two-time All Star signed to a long-term extension that could easily top $200 million dollars.

The deal is even expected to include a no-trade clause, something the Marlins have always resisted, but are willing to make an exception to get this deal completed.

Stanton, who turns 25 this week, is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

Despite missing the final three weeks of the season due to a gruesome pitch to the face, Stanton batted .288/.395/.555 with a National League leading 37 home runs and 299 total bases.

Since his rookie campaign in 2010, Stanton has a 162-game average of  39 home runs, 102 RBI, and a .904 OPS.

Put away those blockbuster dreams and them three-team trade fantasies, my friends. It really does look like the Marlins are pulling all the stops to get this done. And why wouldn’t they?


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Putting Lucas Duda’s Season in Perspective Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:18:12 +0000 lucas duda

Lucas Duda burst onto the scene in 2011 with a stellar offensive season. “The Dude” finished his rookie season with a .292 batting average, .370 OBP and slugged .482 with an OPS of .852. After a couple of disappointing seasons, it seems as if Duda has finally come into his own. His 27 HRs currently rank 12th in all of baseball and 3rd in the NL, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton (36) and Anthony Rizzo (30).

What’s even more impressive is that he’s done his damage playing in one of the most difficult home conditions in the league. When the big man connects with the baseball, he hits no-doubters. 23 of his 27 home runs have gone 375 ft or more, and 17 of them have traveled at least 400 ft.

After starting the 2014 campaign splitting time at first base with Ike Davis and Josh Satin, Duda has averaged a HR every 16.5 at bats to date, and he’s been getting pitched around for more than a month now.

To put that in perspective, the great Giancarlo Stanton is averaging a HR every 14.6 AB, Rizzo 16.2 AB and Justin Upton is at 19.1. Duda also ranks 7th in the NL in RBI with 80 and 8th in walks.

Since the All Star break, only three players have more long balls than Duda’s 13. Chris Carter (17), Stanton (15) and Jose Bautista (14).  Those three batters all have one thing in common. They all bat from the right side. Duda has been the best left handed power hitter of all players since the break and only David Ortiz and Rizzo have more HRs from the left side on the year. Whether we realize it or not, we have an elite left-handed power bat manning 1B for us this year.

Maybe more surprisingly than his breakout at the plate, Duda has been, at the very least, solid defensively at 1B this season. He ranks 4th in double plays turned by a first baseman and ranks 4th in the NL in fielding percentage at the position. He’s also saved countless throwing errors for his infielders this season with his ability to pick errant throws.

Baseball-Reference currently has Duda at 3.5 WAR which is good for 6th, behind Jose Abreu, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Rizzo. That’s some pretty elite company. Abreu, Miggy and Pujols also have the luxury of DHing from time to time.

Duda is playing his age 28 season in 2014 and he looks very comfortable now that he’s settled in defensively. He is still under team control for three more years as a Super 2 player through his age 29-31 seasons. It certainly looks like we have the cleanup hitter we’ve been clamoring for. The only chink in his armor at this point is his inability to hit LHP. If he improves those numbers and takes another step forward now that he’s playing everyday, the sky is the limit for Duda.

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Kids Are Alright Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:05 +0000 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.


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Mets Offseason Hitting Trade Targets Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:00:06 +0000 The days of power hitters are over. Those that do remain are in such high demand that the thought of acquiring one will cost you an arm or a leg. If the Mets want a realistic shot to upgrade on offense, they will have to explore all options and alternatives available in the market.

Here are four types of hitters the Mets can consider trading for this offseason.

  • Top Tier Stars
  • Buy Low Former Stars
  • Elite Prospects
  • Under The Radar Players

But before we dive into available players from each category, let’s look at the trade chips the Mets have available, broken down into three groups. For this discussion, we will define “prospects” as players with under two years of major league service time.

Group A – Cost controlled starters with experience

Group B – Major league ready top prospects

Group C – Other top prospects

The Mets have no shortage of pieces to work with. This organization has arguably the best combination of young players and prospects to intrigue other teams. We should also note that it is reasonable to assume that the Mets will be a better team without making any significant moves at all. There is no rule of thumb that dictates that we have to make a big trade this offseason but it is certainly worth our time to review all of our options.

Group 1 – Top Tier Stars

San Francisco Giants v Miami MarlinsThe two biggest names that are rumored to be available are Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki. Stanton is said to be available due to the Marlins non competitive nature at the moment and Loria’s unwillingness to invest his own money into the team. Tulowitzki is rumored to be unhappy with Colorado’s inability to compete and the club’s lack of direction. So what will it cost to attain each one and would they be worth the hefty haul?

Here are a few points to note on Stanton vs Tulowitzki.

  • Stanton is younger and hitting his prime
  • Tulowitzki is the better defender, an elite one at a premium position
  • Tulowitzki has missed about 25% of games due to injury since his rookie year and will miss the rest of 2015.
  • Tulowitzki has 6 years/$118 mil guaranteed on his contract spanning to his age 35 season
  • Trading for Stanton will likely mean an extension starting at age 26. This could be a 10 year/$250-$300 mil deal or a short term 4 year/$120 mil deal with player opt outs.

Let’s pretend for a minute that we are in an alternate universe where the Mets are capable of taking on a large contract. From the list above, I believe the Mets would be willing to part with two players from group A, B and C as well as another one or two non top prospects for an elite player.

Before Tulowitzki’s season ending surgery, I could see the Mets willing to part with DeGrom (Colorado must be salivating at his ability to keep the ball down) and Nimmo for the elite shortstop. But with Tulo showing us another way to get on the disabled list, this thought can be classified in the “what if” section.

As for Stanton, I believe a fair return would be along the lines of Wheeler, Plawecki and Herrera. However, I expect Miami to ask for one player from group A and three or four prospects from groups B and/or C. Additionally, if Stanton gets dealt, it will not be to a team within the division. Add this thought to the “what if” section as well.

Trading for a big time slugger is one option and the Mets have more than enough trade chips to get it done. But considering all the factors necessary to make this blockbuster deal, I see next to no chance of either trade happening.

Group 2 – Buy Low Former Stars

matt kempThe second type of hitter that can be acquired is a former all-star that has struggled and/or dealt with injuries in recent years but still have potential to regain their previous forms. The Dodgers have two outfielders that fit this mold, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Despite the posing that GM Ned Colletti has done, we know that LA would be quick to move either or both. The Dodger outfield will be quite crowded in 2015 with Joc Pederson (more on him later) and Yasiel Puig slated in center and right field. Even if they go with a four man outfield rotation as they did this year, it will leave them with Crawford, Kemp, Ethier and Van Slyke (more on him later as well) fighting for two spots.

An acquisition for either Kemp or Ethier will require the Dodgers to eat at least half of their salaries. Kemp could probably fetch one player from groups A, B or C as well as a couple of lesser prospects. Ethier is probably not worth any of the players listed at this point but for a couple of lower level prospects, I would gladly take a risk with him if his cost will only be 3 years/$15 million.

A less damaged option (update* Cargo may miss the rest of the season as well) is the much talked about Carlos Gonzalez. As Connor O’Brien has pointed out already, Cargo appears to be a league average hitter away from Coors Field. His contract is not long, at 3 years/$53 million ending at his age 31 season so the package for Cargo would likely be in the range of Degrom or Montero plus a few lesser prospects. Any demand higher than this should signal Alderson to hang up the phone.

We know the risks that come with this group of players and they are available for a reason. All three can end up being nothing but a live body with a large contract. Yet, with a dearth of impact bats in the market, it is intriguing to consider picking up a .275 – 20 – 75 player for a single top prospect.

Group 3 – Elite Prospects

javier-baez-mlb-all-star-game-futures-game-850x560This is the group that is most financially realistic for the Mets to explore but for some inexplicable reason, general managers have always hesitated to exchange prospects. Hopefully, the chances of striking a deal are slightly improved when working with a new school GM such as the Chicago Cub’s Theo Epstein.

The Cubs have two major league ready shortstops in Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Baez is the can’t miss prospect with projected plus power and hit tools and he will be ranked higher than any prospect on the Mets list. It would likely cost Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard plus another lower level top prospect to heat up conversations.

While Baez is the big prize, I would actually prefer to acquire the lead off hitter Alcantara. You can start him at short or second and reevaluate during the 2015 season as Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera progresses in triple A or you can use him to compete with Tejada or Flores for a position. Scouting reports indicate he has a plus arm, plus footwork and a decent glove so he has the tools to stick at short but is prone to rushing and committing errors. He has also logged time in center field and has looked solid in limited action out there. Would there be interest in Alcantara for either Murphy, Flores or Montero?

The Cubs and Mets are perfect trade partners. There are dozens of scenarios and names that can be discussed. Do the Cubs want to compete in 2015 and acquire Murphy? Would they be interested in established starters such as Niese and Gee or prospects such as Syndergaard and Montero? At the same time, I can see Theo Epstein taking a big chunk of the winter to gauge the market before deciding to trade or keep Baez. With time being a factor, it may be wiser to strike a quick deal for Alcantara as opposed to the presumed back and forth it would take to acquire Baez.

In the outfield market, there are two major league ready OF prospects that would make an impact on the Mets next season. They are Joc Pederson of the Dodgers and Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals. Both are ranked in the same elite class as Baez and unfortunately, neither of them are likely to be available. Pederson, a California native, slots right in as the true center fielder that LA has been missing while Taveras should also find himself starting everyday for the Cardinals now that Allen Craig has been traded to Boston.

Group 4 – Under The Radar Players

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles DodgersThese are the group of players that are overlooked by most teams and turn out extremely valuable for the one that give them a chance. I only have one name to offer in this group so allow me to re-introduce a favorite of mine, first baseman/outfielder Scott Van Slyke of the LA Dodgers. The son of former Pittsburgh all-star Andy Van Slyke, Scott is a solid defender in the outfield and at first base. At 6’5″, 220 lbs, he comes with plus power and even splits against both righties and lefties.

In three seasons with the Dodgers, he has been limited to part time duty due to a crowded outfield and Adrian Gonzalez at first base. This won’t change as long as he is in LA but I believe he is as deserving of a shot to start as any player in the league. Van Slyke projects to be a .250/.350/.500 type of hitter, capable of 25 HRs a year.

Last season, I suggested Van Slyke, Dee Gordon, Jordany Valdespin and Josh Satin as names the Mets and Dodgers could discuss. While Gordon and Valdespin are no longer relevant to this year’s conversation and Van Slyke and Satin’s stocks have traveled in opposite directions, I think a package of Vic Black and Juan Centeno would get the two sides pretty close. If the Dodgers choose not to re-sign Hanley Ramirez, could they possibly entertain Van Slyke for Tejada and Centeno? This allows them to start last year’s Cuban signing, Alex Guerrero at shortstop with Tejada backing up both Guerrero and Dee Gordon.

The Mets don’t have to hand Van Slyke a starting spot but he would be a perfect option to fill in as a fourth outfielder and platoon first baseman who can earn his way to more playing time. This is one unheralded name that I believe can be a game changer for the Mets.

Baseball fans have been treated to longballs and gaudy home run totals for two decades while general managers dreamed of landing that big slugger in the middle of their lineups. But as the game changes, strategy in acquiring and maintaining players must change too. We have already seen early adopters such as the Braves adjusting to the new CBA rules by extending their younger players much earlier than past years.

I believe the next shift will be in teams replacing power with other skill sets, whether it is the ability to draw walks, hit line drives, play defense or the very underrated skill of flexibility. This is the ability to play multiple positions, to hit in different spots in the lineup and reduce the impact of the loss of a starter to injury.

The Mets are finally in a position where their foundation is set. In the past, trading for a star would have meant the need to fill in other positions or risk not having adequate depth. Our circumstances are different now, we have the personnel to absorb the loss of 4-5 players and have those slots fill right in without missing a beat. Personally, I don’t believe the Mets have to acquire a power bat and that we would be better served with a high potential lead off hitter. While I would love to see the name Tulowitzki or Stanton in our lineup, I believe the Mets are going in the right direction and will be a better team regardless whether a star is acquired.

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Spring Training Recap: Marlins 10, Mets 7 Mon, 17 Mar 2014 20:51:10 +0000 jiohn lannan Phot by Howard Simmons, Daily News

The Mets traveled to Jupiter and were defeated by the Marlins 10-7 this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. The loss dropped the Mets’ spring record to 8-10.

John Lannan tossed 3.1 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, a home run and only struck out one batter. Lannan was behind every batter and had a hard time getting ahead of the hitters.  The one highlight of his day was the strike out of Giancarlo Stanton, but other than that, he saw his ERA balloon to 4.76 on the spring.

Jose Valverde followed Lannan and threw 1.2 innings and struck out two batters,.

Scott Rice tossed just two-thirds of an inning and was charged with two runs on two hits after Gonzalez Germen allowed two inherited runners to score off a three-run bomb by Stanton.

Ruben Tejada went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts and has a .120 Spring batting average.

Anthony Recker, the leading candidate to back up Travis d’Arnaud at catcher, went 2 for 3, with an RBI.

Anthony Seratelli, played right field today and will most likely make the Opening Day roster as the Mets new super sub; he went 2 for 4 with a run scored and one RBI.

Coming up: The Mets return home to Port St. Lucie on Tuesday to take on the Detroit Tigers at Tradition Field, with first pitch at 1:10 pm.

(Photo Credit: Howard Simmons/NY Daily News)

Presented By Diehards

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MMO Exclusive: Blaming Sandy Alderson Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:08:35 +0000 We are pleased to welcome the talents of Robert Walsh to our staff at Metsmerized Online.

It is now known that sometime this month, under a cloak of secrecy demanded by such bold initiative, Sandy Alderson visited Chris Young somewhere out west, ostensibly we can conclude to pitch him on the merits of signing a free agent contract with the Mets. Nary a tweet on Twitter revealed the details of the delicate operation, nor the results the monumental meeting pawned. The burglars of Watergate would be envious.

sandy alderson

To clear up any immediate confusion — Alderson did not go see Chris Young, the gutty but sore-armed pitcher, who the Mets have already signed twice. Rather he went to see Chris Young, the center fielder, who it has since been announced the Mets have signed to a free agent contract — to hit, not pitch. Apparently to not play center field, either. In light of all that appears troublesome with this signing, where the Mets most recently signed Chris Young plays in the field might be disingenuous nitpicking.

For the past three years, like the proverbial carrot, this was heralded as the winter of recalibration for the Mets, when 2 large contracts became extinct, and the Mets would return to acting as a large market team. Most Mets fans grudgingly accepted their collective fates and continued to be what they – we – are, fans.

Although we visited Citi Field less and less, we, the truest of fans, held up our side of the bargain. The Mets side of the ledger, they promised, would be to increase payroll this winter, bring in better players through trades and free agent signings, and return to a playoff caliber team. Not the AAAA teams we have endured.

To kick off this grand plan, the Mets will spend $7.25 million for a player who hit .200 last season, and gets on base less than than the kids who on special fan days get to run around the bases before games. Hell, Chris Young, the pitcher, who happens to be quite a hitter, would be embarrassed by the 2013 production of Chris Young, the hitter. Not the Mets. Not Sandy Alderson, who sure knows how to pinch $7.25 million worth of pennies.

In a kind of bargain with all that is illogical, it is agreed, in Alderson’s bell curving defense, that this signing can’t be any worse than wasting wads of cash on a hall of shame of degenerates, malingerers and malcontents that has been Alderson’s inexplicable bent to this point in time — see, Marcum, Rauch, and the gem of all, Francisco. That’s $23 million of post Madoff money down the drain. Wasted on three horrible baseball players. Put another way, it could have paid Jose Reyes’s salary for a couple of years more.

Even now, the question of why the disgruntled, lazy, contagious Francisco was ever paid to pitch for the Mets pains the intellect. Was the likable Tejada, once an eager young man with promise now sadly derailed, infected by the sour Fransisco while both supposedly rehabbed in Florida? Marcum and Rauch similarly strain logic and patience. Ask Harvey, as pure a professional athlete as they come, what he thinks of the overgrown bully, Rauch. It’s as if Alderson went looking for the most despicable players on the free agent market, and then overpaid for them.

Alderson and his brain trust (excuse the inelegant satire) remain focused on repairing this team through the draft. A good enough plan, it might seem, if it didn’t devolve into becoming ignorantly fixated on drafting every day position players regardless of who was available at their draft slot.

To wit: Alderson’s crack team passed on Jose Fernandez. And they passed on Michael Wacha. And Sonny Gray. Why? To draft 2 position players – Brandon Nimmo, who we know famously didn’t play high school baseball, and Gavin Cecchini, a shortstop who, at best, belongs in a long past era and not in one where power hitting shortstops are becoming an offensive necessity. You’d be hard pressed to find a single scout in baseball who thinks either of these two players can be anything more than an average major league players, under ideal circumstances.

Think of which position players Fernandez, Wacha, and Gray could have returned on the trade market this winter had we drafted them. Keep in mind – we’d still have Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Montero, Syndergaard, Mejia and the rest. In other words, we’d potentially have one of the greatest staffs in the history of the game, young and under full team control for years, with a few extra top of the rotation prospects to trade off for an established super star or two.

While Nimmo and Cecchini struggle in the low minors, Fernandez was named Rookie of the Year, and finished third in Cy Young voting. Greatness beckons. Gray and Wacha had much postseason success, and should have brilliant careers. It is less idle daydreaming and more a systemic repudiation of Alderson’s drafting philosophy that if they had drafted Fernandez, they could have, in a case of brutal irony, traded him for his current teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, who actually has a chance to be a franchise player. Ergo, and this is not rocket science, the Mets would have had that dominating franchise player they hoped to draft in Nimmo in Stanton, the result of drafting Fernandez.

Now, had they not told the world that they had deliberately passed on Fernandez, who they discounted solely because he was a pitcher, then its a different story. A choice between two viable players, and they picked, wrongly, who they thought was the best prospect. Happens all the time. But since they NEVER considered Fernandez, the pitcher, because they had stubbornly made their minds up not to draft any pitcher with the first pick, the result becomes something much closer to howling organizational absurdity – the kind petty self-absorbed dictators who refuse to listen to anyone else make.

All this makes one wonder exactly how the brain trust of the Mets makes decisions, and what degree of contempt and arrogance towards the fan base factors into the equation. Here’s the obscene part of this sham they have perpetrated. In the 3 years going on 4 years that Alderson has been GM, just about everything good that has happened to the Mets in that time period, and it hasn’t been much, has a direct link to the hated, exiled in disgrace, former GM, Omar Minaya.

Emotions aside, let’s objectively consider the facts, which is something far different than having Alderson’s pedantic rhetoric about rebuilding what Minaya destroyed shoved down our throats. Or its alternate disingenuous delusion: blaming it all on Madoff, another self-serving red herring. In truth, the Mets owners received twice the money they invested with Madoff – even in their world of constant lies, that’s quite a profit. Real estate, the Wilpon’s prime means of money making, is also on a strong rebound.

Facts, of course, have an annoying habit of being true. Here’s a few for consideration.

Harvey? Minaya draft pick. Its almost blasphemous to write this, but one sees a young Seaver here. Yet Harvey already seems more than up to the task.

Wheeler? Traded for Beltran, a great player for the Mets for 5 years, signed by Minaya, when no one of consequence would sign here.

Travis d’Arnaud? Not happening if Minaya didn’t sign RA Dickey, the kind of low risk, high reward player Alderson can’t seem to find, despite his ridiculous fawning over Sabermetrics. Also add in that Mets fans have rarely had the pleasure of having a player with Dickey’s heartwarming humanity to root for – indeed, Dickey makes some of Alderson’s acquisitions seem even more monstrous in comparison.

Noah Syndergraard? Perhaps the jewel of a very pitching rich minor league system, see above.

Jenrry Mejia (whose stuff last year was electric), Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz … I think you see where this is going. All drafted or signed by Minaya.

In balance, Alderson did make the two trades mentioned above. He has also managed to accomplish another milestone of some note in 3 years.

At this precise moment in his grand scheme to return the Mets to relevance, the team has one of the lowest committed payrolls in major league baseball — prior to the Young signing, less than $30 million, and almost all of that to one player, David Wright. Small market teams smirk at such a pathetically low number.

This, after a recent Bloomberg audit had the Mets franchise valued at over two billion dollars. Alderson must see the Mets fans as rubes, when he repeatedly promises ‘significant’ acquisitions’ this winter, and a payroll of $100 million by spring training – and then begins this massive revamping with the signing of the likes of Chris Young, a very insignificant player, to a very significant contract.

To be clear. As a periphery player to add depth – and take a shot at his production returning – the signing of Chris Young for a few million dollars for a single season would seem about right. Heralding the ‘new’ era in spending, on star players, after so much suffering as fans, not so much. We’ve drunk this cool-aid from Alderson before, and except for Byrd, who the Mets should have resigned instead of Young, bottom feeding misses far more often than it works.

Beyond all the posturing, proselytizing and prevarications by Sandy and his brain trust about Madoff and Minaya, the $2.05 billion Mets continue to have the lowest payroll of the large market teams. A 2014 budget of $87 million is now being bandied about, but even that comes with stipulations.

Unless something changes real fast, we have only the transformative genius of Sandy Alderson, who made his career proudly pinching pennies in small markets, to blame.


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NL East Notes: Nats Sign Young, Phillies Love Bourjos, Braves Want Out On Uggla Wed, 20 Nov 2013 02:48:09 +0000 Giancarlo-Stanton-Marlins1

The Marlins’ top priority this offseason is to sell stability to their fans according to Joe Frisaro. It’s the only way they can convince Giancarlo Stanton to sign an extension to stay in Miami. Since Stanton was promoted to the big leagues in 2010, he has had five different hitting coaches and five different managers, writes Frisaro. New president of baseball operations Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings are in the hunt for position players to supplement a core of young stars like Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Chris Yelich.

The Nationals have re-signed right-hander Chris Young to a Minor League contract according to the team’s website. Young suffered a neck injury last season while pitching in the Nationals minor league system and didn’t pitch in the majors in 2013. Young, 35, was torched for a 7.88 ERA in seven Triple-A starts for the Nationals. He last pitched in the majors in 2012, when the righthander posted a 4.12 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets.

The Phillies are not done adding outfielders after signing Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract last week. According to Ken Rosenthal, they would love to add Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos whom they have coveted for a long time. Rosenthal says that Bourjos is available and a perfect fit for the Phils. However, there’s a problem, the Angels want young, affordable starting pitching, and the Phillies are notably thin in that regard. To get Bourjos, the Phillies likely would need to be creative and involve a third team, writes Rosenthal.

The Braves are making every attempt to move Dan Uggla and willing to eat a portion of the $26 million he is owed over the next two seasons. They want a new face at second base and would like to trade for either the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler or the Angels’ Howie Kendrick. Another option they would consider is signing free agent Omar Infante. The Braves were not willing to “break the bank” for Tim Hudson believing his best days are behind him and that he is still damaged goods, according to beat writers.

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Nationals and Phillies Will Target Ellsbury, Braves Increasing Payroll To $100 Million Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:55:48 +0000 jacoby ellsbury

The Phillies are targeting big-time free-agent outfielders and baseball people expect them to be in the mix for Jacoby EllsburyShin-Soo ChooNelson Cruz and possibly Curtis Granderson according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The Phillies have a team built around superior starting pitching and veteran infielders, Heyman writes. But have a clear weakness in the outfield, where they got sub-par production this past year.

One person familiar with their situation said they were even prepared to try to bring back Hunter Pence, who eventually signed an extension with the Giants for $90 million.

General manager Ruben Amaro wouldn’t address specific players, and rather succinctly summed up their needs as “catching, pitching, outfield.”

Heyman also adds that the Nationals, who are also targeting an outfielder, could make a play for free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, according to sources.

The Mariners, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers (if they trade outfielders), Phillies, Astros, Mets and incumbent Red Sox are among other possibilities.

Despite turning down an offer of more than $100 million already, the Red Sox are still interested in bringing Ellsbury back.

Ellsbury batted .298/.355/.436 with 31 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs and a league-leading 52 stolen bases this year with 92 runs scored.

Despite the obvious fit, the Mets won’t be big players for Ellsbury who will have no less than eight teams going after him. The Scott Boras client will get $100 million easily and one report said there might be a team that will go to $125 million for him.

In other NL East news, the Braves are expected to increase payroll to $100 million for the 2014 season according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Does 2015 Free Agent Market Influence Mets 2014 Offseason Strategy? Tue, 29 Oct 2013 02:16:59 +0000 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot By Andrew Doris

The two-year plan

The past two seasons, the Mets have finished 74-88. Over that time, they’ve dumped all their albatross contracts (except Bobby Bonilla…) and resolved the Bernie Madoff lawsuit, such that management finally appears capable of investing in the team. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, but Sandy Alderson has said the team has about $30 million to spend this off-season if he chooses. This post assumes they are serious, and aims to shed light on the wisest way to invest that money.

It’s reasonable to assume that without any major off-season additions, the Mets might finish 74-88 again in 2014. That might even be optimistic, because they’ve lost two key producers from last season already: Matt Harvey and Marlon Byrd. Perhaps young players will develop and improve enough to replace those losses, but even if that’s the case, they would still just be treading water to match last year’s output. It’s safe to say the current roster is no better than a 74 win team.

With that in mind, it is highly unlikely the Mets will win the World Series next season – there are just too many holes to fill in one off-season with the money and trade chips at Alderson’s disposal. A more realistic approach is to view the next two off-seasons as stepping stones to serious contention – a sort of “two-year plan” to get this team among the league’s elite.

Phase one of this plan should be to improve the team by enough that the fans take notice and tune in for 2014. The piqued interest would increase ticket sales and TV revenue, and ideally enable additional payroll expansions (read: player acquisitions) in phase two – next off-season and beyond.

However, doing this will require a team that, as Fred Wilpon famously put it back in 2004, is “playing meaningful games in September”, and a 74 win team does not match that criteria. How much does Alderson need to improve the roster to make that team a reality?

In a division with the Braves and Nationals, I suspect the Mets will need to win at least 85 games to even compete for the playoffs. Last year the Nationals won 86 and still finished 4 games out of the wildcard race. To actually make the playoffs, they may need to win 90, but I think Mets fans would be satisfied with 85 if it meant they stayed in the hunt until late in the season.

The question Alderson must answer, therefore, is this: how can he improve the team by 10 wins or more this off-season, without impeding his flexibility to make even more acquisitions next year? If the Mets are to navigate this question successfully, it behooves them to consider what options might be at their disposal next off-season. This foresight is particularly necessary at their positions of need, because those are the spots at which the greatest improvement can be made.

As I see it, the Mets’ greatest positions of need are OF, SS, 1B and SP, in that order. I put SP last because it is the only one of those holes that exists only in the short term. With the return of Harvey and the ascent of Syndergaard, Mejia, Montero, DeGrom and even Robles all expected by 2015, pitching shouldn’t be a problem over the long term (unless some of those names get traded filling one of the other three holes). By the time we’re seriously contending for a world series, that hole will ideally have filled itself. Neither OF, SS, nor 1B, however, have any promising minor leaguers nearing an MLB arrival date, so it makes the most sense to target external additions at those positions.

The options at shortstop:

Let’s start at SS. As Mets fans know, this was one of our biggest areas of need last year, with Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla combining for a woeful -1.7 WAR on the season. The 2014 free agent class has two primary options at SS: Stephen Drew, and Jhonny Peralta. Although these are good players, both are on the wrong side of 30 with health concerns, and both may cost around $12 million a year on a multi-year contract. The 2015 class, by contrast, features a whole host of interesting names: Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Hanley Ramirez, and Jed Lowrie. Furthermore, each of those players play on teams that are often open to trading players in contract years, such that Sandy might be able to land them in a deadline deal this upcoming summer depending on where everyone is in the standings.

For this reason, I recommend the Mets hold off on signing a big-name SS this winter, when the market is thin and prices are high. This has the added benefit of giving Ruben Tejada a few more months to turn things around. Even if the Mets don’t view Tejada as their SS of the future, it is unwise to sell low, and Tejada’s value has never been lower. A solid start to 2014 might improve his trade value and net them something better in return than they could get right now.

The options in the outfield:

Next up is OF. Even if we assume that light-hitting Juan Lagares is the answer in CF, the Mets have only one MLB caliber starting outfielder on their roster, with no help from the minors in sight (short of Cesar Puello, who has some questions to answer). If they are to get away with Lagares in CF, they desperately need some offense from the corner OF spots. Thankfully, the 2014 free agent class has several big name outfielders that could serve as the power-hitting cleanup hitter Terry Collins needs. Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and Nelson Cruz could all fit that mold, while Jacoby Ellsbury could busy our competition on the market and make those other names more affordable (higher supply of marquee OF’s = lower price for each one). Additionally, there are several big name outfielders rumored to be on the trading block this winter, from Jose Bautista to Giancarlo Stanton to Matt Kemp to Andre Ethier. 2015, by contrast, has very few exciting names under 35 years old. Colby Rasmus is pretty good, but after that it goes downhill fast: Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Jonny Gomes, Emilio Bonifacio, Nate Schierholtz, Norichika Aoki, Chris Denorfia…you get the picture.

Curtis+GrandersonFor these reasons, it’s imperative that the Mets land at least one marquee, power-hitting outfielder this offseason, even if they have to sign him to a long term deal. Ellsbury and Choo may be outside our price range, but I think Curtis Granderson could be an excellent fit. He’s certainly comfortable in New York; in his first three years with the Yankees, Granderson was a superstar, averaging 36 homers per season with an 11% walk rate. Before you argue that was inflated by Yankee stadium, realize that Granderson averaged 18.5 road home runs from 2011-2012, which is more than any current Mets OF could provide in an entire season.

The 2013 season was lost to fluke injuries stemming from two stray fastballs, but before that Granderson was extremely durable, averaging 153 games a season from 2010-2012. His speed and defense will decline with age, but keep in mind what it’s declining from: a speedy, gold-glove caliber centerfielder. If the Mets shift him to LF to accommodate Lagares, he’d still offer plus defense and base-running in the short term, without being anything close to a liability in the long run. Granderson also has a reputation for being one of the most amiable players in the game, making him a fan favorite and a great locker room presence. He does strike out a lot, but that’s nitpicking, especially when you consider the much larger flaws of any 2015 option. In a deep market, Granderson could probably be had on a 3-4 year deal at $14-15 million per year, which still leaves Alderson enough flexibility to sign a SP and some role players for 2014. If they miss out on Granderson, I’d suggest Carlos Beltran or Nelson Cruz as high-ceiling fallbacks. If we felt like signing two outfielders, Nate McLouth might warrant consideration.

The options at first base:

Finally, we have 1B. With Jose Abreu gone to the White Sox, this year’s free agent class features interesting options like Mike Napoli, Kendrys Morales, and Corey Hart. 2015, by contrast, has very few good options under the age of 35 (assuming the Royals use their club option to pick up Billy Butler’s contract). Using the above logic, this would seem to imply that if the Mets are to get an external option to man 1B, this is the offseason to do it. If Sandy chooses to go that route, I’d support the decision.

However, I don’t think first base is such a dire necessity as is the outfield, for the simple reason that the Mets have better in-house options to man the former than they do the latter. Between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Satin, Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy, the Mets have five candidates for one position. With the exception of Flores, none of those candidates have a career OPS below .746. Even if only one or two of those options work out, Terry Collins could probably cobble together moderate levels of production by riding the hot hand. The options in the OF, by contrast, inspire much less confidence: Eric Young Jr., Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, and Matt den Dekker. None of those guys have a career OPS over .672 – none have a track record to prove they are major league caliber hitters. Until Cesar Puello (who has his own question marks) gets called up, these four AAAA guys would be competing for two vacancies, and the result would be woeful even if nobody got hurt.


The bottom line is this: if the Mets are serious on improving the team in 2014 while maintaining the flexibility to make additional improvements next winter, they should devote this off-season to acquiring at least one marquee OF, either via a trade or via free agency. Then, they should sign a high-upside veteran starting pitcher to a short, cheap, incentive laden deal, as well as a backup catcher and some affordable bullpen arms. However, they should hold off on acquiring a SS upgrade until the market thickens, and if money’s tight, they should also hold off on committing to an external 1B until they have more information on the viability of their internal options.

By following this blueprint and getting a little lucky, the Mets should be able to plug all their holes with capable and exciting players in a cost efficient way before the 2015 season, while still improving enough in the short term to make 2014 exciting. Only time will tell if Sandy Alderson agrees.

bleed orange & blue  button

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Featured Post: A Dying Brand Mon, 21 Oct 2013 13:41:09 +0000 Carlos = BeltranA few minutes ago, I was scrolling through MLB Trade Rumors when I noticed some Yankees’ notes. Turns out the Yanks, long believed to be trying to climb under the luxury-tax threshold, are going to spend this winter. (I know – pick up your jaw) The clip listed their preferred targets as Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. I read the names and had to laugh. The dichotomy between these two clubs in New York is simply incredible.

When Sandy Alderson arrived in Queens in the Fall of 2010, many Mets fans – including myself – were eager to see the legend from the Bay area work his Moneyball magic on the Amazin’ Mets. Many of us were ready to watch him restock the farm and make some dynamic trades that would bring in the next star we could pair with David Wright and Jose Reyes.

Three years have passed. Many of those fans that were in Team Sandy’s corner are long gone. And one word summarizes why they jumped ship – losing. Under Sandy, the Mets have remained mired in the 74-77 win range of baseball’s no-man’s-land. You’re never good enough to contend, but you aren’t bad enough to get an elite drafting position either.

The net result of all of this is very clear – and for Fred and Jeff Wilpon – very unsettling.

21 and 31.

21 is where the New York Mets ranked in attendance in 2013, out of 30 major league teams. The New York Mets – not the Milwaukee Mets – the New York Mets.

empty seats citi field turner

31 is the percent decrease in SNY viewership from 2012 to 2013. What has happened is the sports and entertainment industries’ worst nightmare – apathy.

By the thousands, Mets fans are finding other ways to spend their time and money. They aren’t going to games and they aren’t watching them either. Some are, of course – but the sheer volume of fans that have already tuned out is staggering.

In short, this organization has bigger problems than winning ballgames. The Mets have sunk back into the mid-90s era of fan disinterest.

The franchise and fanbase was eventually jolted back to life by the May 1998 trade for Mike Piazza – a trade that catapulted the Mets back to respectability and – two and a half years later – back to the World Series.

I believe that is precisely the course the 2013-14 Mets need to take. A direction-changing trade. Who that player is – I honestly have no idea. Maybe its Jurickson Profar or maybe its Giancarlo Stanton. No matter who it is – a player of that caliber would be exactly what this team and this sleepy fan base needs.

Because right now, this brand – the “Amazin’ Mets” is in trouble. Their lifeblood, the fans, are beyond angry. Many of them just don’t care anymore.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader, Matt Mosher. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 22,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Jose Dariel Abreu Signs 6-Year Deal With White Sox Fri, 18 Oct 2013 01:22:12 +0000 Jose+Abreu+Cuba

Updated 10/17 9:00 PM

Free agent Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Rosenthal says the deal is for six years and $68 million, shattering the four-year, $36MM contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes and the seven-year, $42MM pact signed by Yasiel Puig.

As I stated earlier, Abreu makes perfect sense for the White Sox, especially with the expected retirement of Paul Konerko.

If he can hit like Ryan Howard, what a steal he’ll be at just over $11 million a year…

Updated 10/17 3:45 PM

Jesse Sanchez of is reporting that Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu has narrowed his choices down to the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago White Sox.  The 26-year old first baseman could reach a final decision within the next two weeks.

Last night, we reported that Buster Olney put the value of his deal at $70 million. Such a deal would shatter the four-year, $36MM contract signed by Yoenis Cespedes and the seven-year, $42MM pact signed by Yasiel Puig according to MLBTR.

It looks to me like Abreu will either be wearing white or red stockings once he gives the ‘Stros a look and sees how bad things are down there.

Updated 10/17 1:00 AM

Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the bidding on Cuban free agent Jose Abreu is expected to be for a $70 million deal, according to what sources have told him. He says that the White Sox, Astros and Rangers are viewed as the frontrunners to land him.

The blind bids for Abreu were submitted during last Saturday’s deadline. At the time, Joe Frisaro said the Marlins were also considered heavy favorites to land the slugging first baseman, who many compare to the Phillies’ Ryan Howard in his prime. But that no longer seems to be the case.

While many were low-balling the potential deal, I’ve always thought he’d get $60 million or more.

Several Marlins officials who attended Abreu’s showcase said that he showed an easy swing, and the ball exploded off his bat, even adding that he was more of a pure hitter than Giancarlo Stanton.

Signing Abreu could have been a good test for the Mets and a sign that things are as improved financially as they keep telling us. The Mets are obviously in the market for power and a first baseman and Abreu fits both those bills.

I don’t know if we’ll find out whether the Mets bid or not or how much their bid was, but that doesn’t really matter because nobody ever considered them favorites.

So who’s the next guy up for grabs, Choo? Ellsbury?

They’ll cost way more than $70 million…

Original Post 10/11

Jose Abreu, 26, is free to sign with any club, but Andy Martino cited a team source who said it’s highly unlikely the Mets would be interested, despite an earlier report of a high ranking official telling Mike Puma they were impressed with his power.

I’d be shocked if the Mets made any bid to acquire him and if they do you can bet it’ll be one they know won’t come close to sealing the deal.

One of our readers, Andrew, left this comment about Abreu yesterday:

Keep in mind that Abreu’s power numbers and scouting reports are way higher than Yoenis Cespedes’ ever were. Scouts are giving him an 80 out of 80 on power – those are Giancarlo Stanton numbers. It’s true he’s not as fast or athletic as Cespedes or Yasiel Puig, but he doesn’t need to be because he’s a first baseman – which, go figure, is one of our biggest holes right now.

Besides, Abreu makes a ton of sense for lots of other reasons:

  • His annual salary will be lower than other free agent 1B like Mike Napoli.
  • He’s only 27, which is just entering his prime.
  • He’s not coming from another MLB team, so he won’t cost even a 2nd round draft pick, let alone a prospect in a trade.

Even if he falls short of expectations, he’d still probably be better than anything else we have or can reasonably acquire in the near future. The trade market for 1B is non-existent. Neither Duda nor Davis can hit above .240 for any extended period of time, and nobody thinks Satin has the power to really be an everyday 1B.

We have no real 1B prospects in the pipeline any higher than rookie ball. Next years free agent class for first base has Billy Butler, but the Royals have a club option on him and will probably pick that up. This year has Napoli, coming off a hitter friendly park with degenerative hips, and then Kendrys MoralesCorey Hart that hasn’t played since 2012… Those guys would cost half as much as Abreu anyway, even without the 40-homer upside.

Also, you can’t dismiss the fan excitement that would result that has to factor into the Mets’ strategy, because next year is all about increasing revenue by putting out a good enough team to draw the fans’ interest.

Abreu is someone people will get excited about, which will keep our positive momentum going and give us more cap flexibility moving forward. I’m not saying he’s a miracle who’ll solve all our problems, and we shouldn’t go into hysterics whether we get him or not.

But we also shouldn’t be afraid of taking a chance once in awhile. Sooner or later we have to pay somebody!

Thanks for your comment, Andrew…

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Featured Post: Let’s Just See What Happens… Thu, 03 Oct 2013 19:28:07 +0000 wright 221 homers

It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last post. During that time, like most Mets fans, I’ve resigned myself to another season of mediocrity. The ownership is cheap, the general manager doesn’t care, the manager isn’t very good and the talent just isn’t there to compete.

Well the season has come to a end and already the fans are up in arms because “a team source” says that the Mets won’t spend big money on free agents and Terry Collins and his coaching staff are all coming back. So what can we expect but another year of uncompetitive dull baseball ?

Fans want the Mets to go after some big-name free agents and maybe package 4 or 5 young prospects for a “stud” like Giancarlo Stanton. Well, I look at it this way. Suppose before the 2013 season started, I told you that the Mets would finish the season with approximately the same record as the Blue Jays, Giants, and Phillies. Yes, those same Blue Jays who dealt prospects for three of baseball’s best starting pitchers (Dickey, Johnson, and Buehrle) and arguably the game’s most exciting player in Jose Reyes, the World Champion Giants and our arch-rival Phillies loaded with proven talent like Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Papelbon, Howard, Utley, Rollins, and an up and coming star in Dominic Brown. Now THOSE teams had disappointing years.

Last off-season, I thought the Mets should look into bringing back Lastings Milledge from Japan to provide some righthanded punch in the outfield. Instead, the Mets signed Marlon Byrd. I have to admit that was a much better move.

Of course, there were disappointments – Ike Davis for sure, Ruben Tejada, and Matt Harvey’s season-ending injury just when it looked like the Mets had their new Seaver or Gooden. Obviously, you aren’t going to win any pennants when guys like Mike Baxter, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintinilla, and Justin Turner get regular playing time, but I still have hopes that players like Wheeler, d’Arnaud and Lagares can be part of a bright future. I would have hoped that Collins gave more playing time to Flores so we could see if/where he might fit in. Most likely, he’s trade bait. I would have also liked to see Vic Black given more chances to close rather than LaTroy Hawkins, but it’s hard to fault Hawkins’ work. There will be changes for sure, but there is no quick fix, no matter how much the team spends. It’s easy to say that if you don’t compete for the big-money guys, you can’t win, but Oakland in particular, has shown that’s not necessarily true. And as far as replacing Collins, before the 2012 season, the Red Sox hired a “proven winner” in Bobby Valentine and they had their worst year in memory.

And by the way, Marlon Byrd had a better year than Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton, or Albert Pujols to name just a few. Projecting the team’s future with players like Montero, Syndergaard, Puello, Nimmo, and Dom Smith is fun, but probably meaningless. Let the Mets surprise us and become winners again. It may not happen in my lifetime, but if it does, it will be special. I have no trades to offer, no surefire free-agent signings, no master plan. As long as I’ve followed baseball and as much as I thought I knew, there’s no way I would have predicted that Chris Davis would be better than Ike or that Kyle Seager would be better than his more highly-touted college teammate, Dustin Ackley, who looked like a future star at UNC. And having seen a bunch of UNC games living in Chapel Hill, there’s no way I expected Matt Harvey to outshine Andrew Miller or Daniel Bard. Yes, I know I’m rambling and changing the topic, but after 50 years of following the Mets, it’s time to sit back and hope for the best and not think I know more about putting together a winning team than the men who are paid to do it. However the Mets can bring us a winner, I’ll be grateful for it when it happens. A fan is someone who supports a team through thick and thin. And I will stay a Mets fan.

bleed orange & blue  button

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Featured Post: Are Dillon Gee and Jon Niese Keepers or Trade Bait? Tue, 24 Sep 2013 19:32:56 +0000 dillon geeMets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese

Who’s ready for another Mets offseason? Well like it or not, here it comes. This particular offseason has already got me feeling a little edgy compared to past ones since Sandy Alderson took the reins. I wasn’t really expecting much before and I knew we were dismantling and rebuilding even though Sandy would never say as much.

However, this is the offseason I’ve been waiting for… This is the one where we’ve been conditioned to believe that all the bad parts would be replaced, some new stars would be signed, and our top prospects would have arrived. That would lead up to our first winning season in 2014. So yeah, I’m nervous… I don’t want to be let down. Although we’ve had our ups and downs, I’ve trusted Sandy so far, but now it’s time for him to deliver.

With that in mind, it appears that two veterans or holdovers from the past regime are frequently mentioned as potential trade chips as the Mets look to fill offensive gaps throughout their lineup. I’m talking about Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. Honestly, I don’t see why everyone wants to trade two of the more consistent pitchers in our rotation, especially Gee who has taken a huge step forward in 2013.

Gee, 27, leads the team with 31 starts and 12 wins while posting a 3.54 ERA this season. He has allowed one run or less in 15 of those starts – just one of seven major league pitchers to have accomplished that this season. Since May 30, when he mowed down 12 New York Yankees, his ERA stands at a very pristine 2.42.

Niese, 26, on the other hand, has had an uneven season, but still has a respectable 3.81 ERA in 22 starts. He also has three years and a $10 million option left on that team-friendly five year contract he got from Sandy. He also happens to be the only lefthander in the Mets rotation.

How do you view Gee and Niese? I decided to put that question to our writers a week ago and here is what they had to say.

Are Dillon Gee and Jon Niese keepers or trade bait?

David – To see what Niese did after he came back he is definitely a keeper and without knowing if we’ll have Harvey next season, I see no reason to even attempt to get rid of Gee who is a valuable player and is showing his worth with a strong second half.

Joe S. – I would keep as much pitching as possible unless something extraordinary comes their way (Stanton?). It’s better to have too much pitching than not enough.

Connor – They are both absolutely keepers. Not only will they be under control for a number of years going forward, but they have been fantastic as of late. The Mets have a real strength in their pitching staff, which is hard to attain, but very easy to lose.

Xtreem – Impossible to answer without a proposed trade. Would they be involved in a deal for Profar or Stanton? The only thing I can say with certainty is that they certainly have earned and deserve a spot in the rotation and there’s no chance I’d trade them for prospects or to “get younger.” That said, if they need to be dealt to improve in other needed areas, it has to be considered.

Rob C. – Gee and Niese are both exceptional 3-4 starters. I say keep them until the youngsters (Thor & Montero) prove themselves. Obviously, if you can get someone like Giancarlo Stanton by throwing in Gee, you have to do it.

Jacob – Ooh tough question. If I’m correct, the Mets have put Niese on the market before and discussed trades with numerous teams, so I say keep Gee trade Niese. Jonathan is a southpaw with a nice change up and a devastating curve, so what couldn’t the Mets get for him?

Gerry – Gee and Niese are now the veteran guts of the rotation. I see them as keepers. Sandy will sign a veteran arm of a higher quality than usual to add to the mix, and we will see Montero by mid-season.

Andre – At this point, with Matt Harvey´s injury, they are keepers for 2014. If two of Rafael Montero, Jenrry Mejia and Noah Syndergaard establish themselves as rotation fixtures for 2015 and beyond, Gee could become trade bait by mid-summer.

So what do you have to say on the matter?

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Goodbye Wilmer Flores, We Hardly Knew Ye Fri, 20 Sep 2013 17:17:49 +0000 wilmer flores

According the ESPN’s Adam Rubin, Terry Collins said that if Wilmer Flores does not make the Mets as a starting player next season, he will return to Triple-A Las Vegas where he can play on a daily basis. SNY media mogul Matt Cerrone chimed in that the decision would be made by another team.

It’s unbelievable that a team that is so hard up for position players, would trade one of their top prospects and one that they’ve invested six years in developing. But for some odd reason, that seems to be the narrative at MetsBlog. Do they know something the rest of the world don’t know?

Hey look, nobody’s untouchable… I wouldn’t mind trading Flores as part of a huge deal to get someone like Giancarlo Stanton, but that goes the same for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and any other Met not named Matt Harvey or Zack Wheeler.

I understand that the Mets don’t have a precise landing spot for Flores defensively, and mostly because they choose to keep relying on fringe major leaguers for their future.

But the way this kid Flores get slapped around by media and Mets bloggers alike is quite perplexing to me. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out exactly why he’s held in such low esteem. And if that’s really the case, what could we possibly get in a trade for him? Do we really need a bag of donuts that desperately?

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Harvey Will Avoid Surgery, Elects To Rehab Elbow Tue, 17 Sep 2013 18:50:39 +0000 matt harvey

Update 2:20 PM

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Matt Harvey has opted to rehabilitate the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and avoid surgery for now.

“The diagnosis apparently was positive enough whereby Harvey is expected to try rehab for now, then begin a throwing program in one-to-two months,” Heyman said.

Harvey still could undergo Tommy John surgery this offseason for the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament if the elbow continues to have issues.

It looks like this decision was ALL Harvey and Dr. Andrews, as neither the Mets nor Scott Boras would comment on the matter.

Update 1:00 PM

Andy Martino spoke with a league source briefed on the situation, and received this answer on whether or not the Mets’ ace will opt for Tommy John surgery: “Still debating.”

This source believed that Harvey is likely to throw a baseball again before making the final decision.

The Mets are being extremely tight-lipped about the situation, and would not confirm this information on any level. Stay tuned.

Update 11:00 AM

Yesterday, Matt Harvey returned from seeing Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Florida to get that second opinion on the partial UCL tear in his right elbow. However, nobody was talking afterward. Instead, the Mets released this short and somewhat ominous statement:

Matt Harvey saw Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. today for a second opinion on his right elbow. Harvey is on his way back to New York. We expect to have further information tomorrow.

Like all Met fans, I hope to hear some good news today, but I am bracing for the worst. That’s the way it’s always been for our kind…

I’ve read about many different instances where Tommy John Surgery was avoided altogether for UCL tears and pitchers went onto having solid careers – Roy Halladay being one of them. But for every one of those outcomes, there were ten times more in which the pitcher ultimately needed surgery anyway.

I never bought into the prevailing theory that Sandy Alderson would bring a playoff contender to Flushing in 2014. He has no magic wand that I know of, and despite two years of saying he’s had money to spend – he hasn’t. But that’s fodder for another post.

I don’t mind Matt Harvey missing the 2014 season if he decides to have the surgery. I’ve already processed that scenario and have made my peace with it.

With or without Harvey, and barring the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, Stephen Drew and Jose Abreu, I don’t see the Mets eclipsing a .500 season next year. But maybe, just maybe, 2015 can be different… And by “different” I mean that in a good way. I don’t want to see Harvey miss that season…

Anyway, as an anxious fan base awaits, we’ll be here to report whatever the Mets announce today.

Original Post

Today could be decision day  for New York Mets ace Matt Harvey, who will have his right elbow tear examined by notable orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Afterward, he will decide whether or not to proceed with Tommy John surgery that will wipe out his 2014 season, or rehab his elbow and avoid surgery altogether. It’s no secret at this point that Harvey wants to avoid surgery and remains optimistic he will be ready to pitch come Spring Training.

But what factors will weigh into his final decision?

It all comes down to how stable Harvey’s elbow is and the New York Times did a nice job of explaining exactly what will take place today, and how it will ultimately decide Harvey’s fate.

Much, of course, is riding on Harvey’s right elbow. For that reason, Dr. Craig Levitz, the chief of orthopedic surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital, said Harvey was right to take his time to decide. Levitz spent a year training under Andrews and has performed dozens of these operations alongside him.

At the appointment Monday, Levitz said, Andrews will determine if the ligament is stable. To do that, Andrews will place his hands on either side of Harvey’s elbow, one below and one above, and push his forearm and biceps in opposite directions.

A healthy U.C.L. is taut, Levitz said, and a partly torn U.C.L. is loose, which makes it unstable. If Harvey’s U.C.L. is unstable, when Andrews pushes on his forearm and biceps, there will be a space between the bones. This is where Andrews’s expertise comes in. He has seen so many of these injuries, Levitz said, that Andrews can diagnose, to the millimeter, how unstable the ligament is.

“He can tell if it’s three millimeter, two millimeters, one,” Levitz said.

That test should influence Andrews’s diagnosis. If the ligament is unstable, the discussion will be over, Levitz said. Harvey would be wasting his time rehabilitating it. But if it is stable, Levitz added, “I think you’d be foolish not to rehab it.”

Last week, a very upbeat Harvey told reporters that his arm feels great.

“Everything feels fine,” said Harvey. “My arm feels great. I’m still very optimistic about everything. But I know I’m not a doctor so we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets organization, led by General Manager Sandy Alderson, seems to prefer that Harvey have the operation now, so as not to risk tearing the ligament later and missing part, if not all, of the 2015 season.

The decision however, is Harvey’s alone to make.

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Torres Solid, But Mets Shutout 3-0 To Clinch Fifth Straight Losing Season Sat, 14 Sep 2013 23:17:46 +0000

The Mets clinched their fifth consecutive losing season after they were beaten by the Marlins 3-0 this afternoon at Citi Field. It was the third shutout loss for the Mets in this homestand.

Five straight losing seasons is the fourth-longest streak in franchise history. The only streaks longer: seven from 1962-68 and 1977-83, and six from 1991-96.

Carlos Torres limited the Marlins to two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high eight in six innings.

Frank Francisco left the game after being struck on the right thumb on a come-backer by Logan Morrison.

We’ll have a full recap of all today’s action after the second game.

Jacob Turner (3-6, 3.43) will oppose Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3, 8.00) at 7:35 PM.

Game 2 Mets Lineup

  1. Eric Young, Jr. – LF
  2. Juan Lagares – RF
  3. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  4. Lucas Duda – 1B
  5. Wilmer Flores – 3B
  6. Matt den Dekker – CF
  7. Anthony Recker – C
  8. Ruben Tejada – SS
  9. Daisuke Matsuzaka – RHP

Doubleheader Preview

The Mets stopped their slide last night with a 4-3 win against the Marlins and today they try to make it three wins with a doubleheader sweep. Fans that come to the ballpark today will be treated to Carlos Torres followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka as they face off against Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner.

Carlos Torres looks to get back on the right track. On the season he is 3-4 with a 3.53 ERA over 66.1 innings. In his last start he allowed 6 ER over 4.0 innings and his previous two starts he allowed 4 ER over 13.0 innings. He has only pitched one inning against the Marlins this year and it was a quiet inning. The Marlins have the following numbers against the Torres:

Hill 0-3
Polanco 0-3
Stanton 0-2
Morrison 0-1
Pierre 1-1

In the first game the Mets will get a look at Henderson Alvarez who is 3-4 with a 4.34 ERA over 13 games and 74.2 innings. In the month of September he has pitched 10.0 innings with 8 ER. In one start against the Mets this year he allowed 2 ER in 7.1 innings of work. The Mets have the following numbers against Alvarez:

Murphy 1-6
Young 1-3, 2B
Baxter 3-3, 2B, 3B
Duda 0-3
Lagares 0-2

In the second game today, the Mets will go with Matsuzaka who finally had a good start his last time out pitching 5.2 innings allowing one run, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts. As a Met he’s 0-3 over 4 starts pitching 18.0 innings with an 8.00 ERA. In his career he has had one start against the Marlins allowing 4 ER in 5.1 innings of work. The Marlins have the following numbers against him:

Polanco 2-9
Mathis 1-11
Dobbs 1-3
Stanton 1-2, HR

In the nightcap, the Mets will try to deal with Jacob Turner who is 3-6 over 18 games with a 3.43 ERA and 107.2 innings. In his last four starts he is 0-2 while allowing 13 ER over 20.1 innings which is a 5.75 ERA. He is 1-0 against the Mets in 13.1 innings with a 2.03 ERA (3 ER). The Mets have the following numbers against Turner:

Murphy 3-10
Duda 2-7
Tejada 1-7, 2B
Lagares 0-3

Lets Go Mets!

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LaTroy Hawkins Was Masterful Last Night, Has Excelled As Mets Closer Sat, 14 Sep 2013 15:20:31 +0000 latroy hawkinsWhen the New York Mets begin their annual winter task of building their bullpen, they’d be wise to consider three names instrumental in beating Miami last night at Citi Field.

Yes, Lucas Duda gets props for a three-run homer, Jon Niese pitched into the seventh, and Andrew Brown took advantage of a rare start by hitting a mammoth home run, but the Mets might not have won without Vic Black, Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins.

By definition, winning 4-3 is not a slam-dunk, but a study of perseverance and endurance. Those three carried the Mets to the end.

Hawkins has been solid all year in a set-up role, and despite his reservations, assumed the closer role when Bobby Parnell went down and excelled, picking up his ninth save with a 1-2-3 ninth highlighted by a classic punch-out of Giancarlo Stanton, who had already hit two homers in the game.

In a masterful display, Hawkins got ahead 0-and-2 with two inside fastballs. Stanton wouldn’t bite on two down-and-away sliders to even the count 2-and-2. But, fearless as usual, Hawkins blew away Stanton inside with a 94 mph. fastball.

At 40, most teams might consider Hawkins an afterthought in constructing a bullpen, but he still has the fastball plus the guile that can’t be measured by a radar gun.

Not only does he get the job done, but he’s an invaluable and calming influence to the younger relievers and in the clubhouse.

My favorite Hawkins moment came at mid-season when the Mets – including manager Terry Collins – danced around the Jordany Valdespin saga. However, Hawkins, a proud veteran, called it as he saw it and wouldn’t let the immature Valdespin off the hook.

Meanwhile, Feliciano doesn’t throw in the 90s, but is still an effective lefty specialist and last night closed the eighth by getting Christian Yelich on a grounder to second.

If used properly – which is to say sparingly and not wear him out – Feliciano is still a plus.

The Mets don’t know Parnell’s availability next year after undergoing neck surgery. They must assume they won’t have him, at least at the start.

They’ll need a closer and Black, who throws in the mid-90s, could emerge as the choice. In preparing for next season, Collins should use Black in as many pressure situations as possible.

Of course, the bullpen key for 2014 is Parnell. If healthy, the three could slot in behind him and GM Sandy Alderson’s bullpen reclamation would be halfway done.

The key to a strong bullpen is having quality starters capable of working deep into the game as Niese did last night. The fewer innings the bullpen works, the more effective.

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