Mets Merized Online » hitting http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Kevin Long Discusses Hitting Approach and Philosophy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/kevin-long-discusses-hitting-apporach-and-philosophy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/kevin-long-discusses-hitting-apporach-and-philosophy.html/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173425 Kevin long cage

This off-season, the Mets hired former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to help alleviate some of the Mets woes on offense. In an article by John Harper of the NY Daily News, Long shared his thoughts about the Mets approach and he believes there are misconceptions about it.

“I think they’ve had to try to change the culture here,’’ says Long. “It’s funny, because, isn’t walking a byproduct of swinging at good pitches? It’s about swinging at good pitches. It’s about making smart decisions.”

“I believe the most important thing you can have as an offensive unit is guys that walk and guys that drive the baseball for power. But to drive the baseball, they have to swing at strikes.”

“I’d say that 95% of big league hitters can do damage with a pitch that gets some part of the heart of the plate. So if we can hone in on that, our walks will go up and we’ll drive the baseball.”

“I do think you can be too patient, if you’re taking fastballs in the heart of the plate just to work the count. But with some guys you do need to make them take just so they learn. We want to be aggressive in the strike zone but take the walk if it’s available because we want traffic on the bases. It goes hand in hand.”

Long also talked about his own philosophy and style as a coach:

“I feel very comfortable with what I see and taking that to the player and saying, ‘here’s what I’m seeing, here’s the adjustment I think needs to be made, here’s the drill I think can fix that, and let’s go to work.’

“Part of it is listening to their feedback too and creating a trust with the player. My philosophy is that I work within a guy’s individual scheme. I don’t have a cookie-cutter approach. Remember Walt Hriniak (a Charley Lau disciple who worked with the Red Sox and White Sox in the 80s), where everybody did it one way? That’s not my style.

“My style is more to work within what an Ichiro does, or a Jeter did, or a Cano. Or take a Swisher and kind of put him back together again. I’ve been given a lot of credit for being able to do that. And I feel comfortable doing that, where some hitting coaches, they can’t do it. It’s not their forte.”

Long has already worked with some of Mets hitters and provided an early analysis of several players. Here is what he had to say:

David Wright:

“I wasn’t here, I didn’t live that shoulder injury with him, but if you have a shoulder injury and you start to extend your swing, especially on a pitch away that you want to drive to the opposite field…if you feel pain doing that, you cut your swing off to compensate, and you can’t get through the ball and drive it. What I’m seeing now is a guy who’s healthy, he feels good, and I’m sure he’s on a little bit of a mission.”

Lucas Duda:

“He’s a beast. This guy’s special. You know when Lucas Duda’s hitting because it’s a different sound. There are some things he needs to work on, and lefthanded pitching is one of those. But we’ll gain on it. Remember, the knock on Curtis (Granderson) was he couldn’t hit lefties. And what happened? He ended up killing lefties (as a Yankee). It’s basically about angles. We’ve started on some drills to help Lucas with that and, I’ll tell you what, he looks great.”

Curtis Granderson

“I’m excited about working with him. We’ll just try to get back to what he was doing some of those years (with the Yankees) when he was hitting 40 home runs. You look at where his swing was. You look at where it is now. I felt like we had a very good blueprint. Get compact, ‘A’ swings that will play in any ballpark.”

Wilmer Flores

“He has a good understanding, a good feel for what he’s doing. He uses his hands real well. A lot has been made of using his lower half a little more. He’s a no-stride guy so he should be able to make good decisions. He’s looking to go middle-away but I feel like he reacts to the ball inside very well. There’s room for improvement and we’ll address things as we go along.”

Travis d’Arnaud

“When he came back from Triple-A he looked like he had some fire in him, and he wasn’t thinking so much. He’s got to get his body in a good position to be explosive. He’s got power but when his hands are moving all around or he’s jumping at the ball, those things aren’t going to come out. He’s quieted down quite a bit and he’s moving in the right direction.”

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MMO Exclusive: Mets Prospect Kyle Johnson Looks Back on Championship Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-kyle-johnson-looks-back-on-championship-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-kyle-johnson-looks-back-on-championship-season.html/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:21:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172121 mets - kyle johnson

Outfielder Kyle Johnson was a key part of the Binghamton Mets run to win the 2014 Eastern League Championship. Kyle played in 103 games and hit .259/.344/.384 with 25 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 home runs. He also stole 12 bases and had 14 outfield assists while playing all three outfield positions.

Kyle was drafted in 2012 by the Los Angeles Angels in the 25th round out of Washington State University. In his first full professional season in 2013 he batted .289/.385/.393 with 44 stolen bases and only struck out 89 times. On June 25th, 2013, he was traded to the Mets for outfielder Collin Cowgill who had been designated for assignment.

Kyle is a versatile outfielder who plays the game hard and has a knack for putting the ball in play in big spots proven by his .313/.423/.450 line with RISP last year. He also enjoys hitting from the leadoff spot where he batted .272/.354/.413 last year. He was nice enough to answer some questions for us about his season, so lets jump right into them:

Michael: First off just wanted to thank you for taking your time to answer some questions and congratulate you on being part of the EL Champions! What was it like to be part of a championship team? What was so special about this Binghamton team?

Kyle: The special part about our team was we had a core group of guys that didn’t move.  We had a great pitching staff, who knew how to compete.

Michael: For fans that haven’t seen you play how would you profile your own game?

Kyle: I take pride in my defense. Wherever I am in the outfield, I know I can make a play that will positively affect our team. With such a long season, some days the bat won’t show up, but I know my defense will always be there. Good defense and base running. Offensively, I do what I can to get on base. I take pride in scoring runs. Setting myself up for other guys to knock me in.

Michael: When on the road where is your favorite city/stadium to play?

Kyle: In the Eastern League, I really enjoyed Maine. Their atmosphere is something special. They have a unique field, plus the series were tough.

Michael: What do think you need to improve on to get to the Major League level?

Kyle: More consistent at the plate.  I’d have a month of .360 then a month of .220.  Just need to stay consistent for all 142 games.

Michael: What is life like for a Minor Leaguer when you are on the road?

Kyle: It’s tough. Long bus rides, get in late. But it’s all part of it. Makes you appreciate this game and the opportunity to continue to play. It’s fun going to different cities and parts of the country. You get to see a lot of the USA that otherwise I probably wouldn’t have seen. That’s one of the greatest treats of this game. I’ve been to every state now beside the Dakotas all because of baseball.

Michael: One last question,  what are you doing this offseason to prepare for the upcoming year?

Kyle: I spent the off season so far in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where I grew up. I train at Ultimate Athlete, a local gym in the area. I have my hitting coach there who I have worked with for the past seven years. Primary goal is to create a more consistent swing. I had hot months and cold months this year, working to stay more consistent. I am heading to Puerto Rico to play for a month or so. Best way to practice is by playing, and I’m extremely excited for the opportunity.

Michael:  Glad I got a chance to talk to you! Hope to see you at Citi Field soon!

Kyle: Hope so too, going to work as hard as I can to get there.

Michael: Thanks again from everyone at MetsMerized Online!

Unfortunately for Kyle the Las Vegas outfield will probably be stacked with the likes of Nimmo, MDD, Ceciliani, Allen, Castellanos, etc next season. Tough not to root for a guy who works hard and is dedicated to making himself better. Everyone loves an underdog story and guys like Dillon Gee have proved it can happen!

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Mets Could Lose Multiple Players Including Logan Verrett In Rule 5 Draft http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-could-lose-multiple-players-including-logan-verrett-in-rule-5-draft.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mets-could-lose-multiple-players-including-logan-verrett-in-rule-5-draft.html/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:35:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171513 Logan Verrett is quite the talented young pitcher.

Sandy Alderson told reporters that he expects to lose multiple players in the Rule 5 Draft, particularly during the minor league portion.

Joel Sherman adds that the Mets are expected to lose RHP Logan Verrett during the MLB portion of the draft.

Verrett, 24, went 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.370 WHIP for Triple-A Las Vegas last season. In 162 innings pitched he walked 34 and struck out 115 batters.

Among Las Vegas starting pitchers with 10 or more starts, only Rafael Montero (3.60) posted a better ERA in the hitting friendly PCL.

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The Leadoff Problem Persists For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/the-leadoff-problem-persists-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/the-leadoff-problem-persists-for-the-mets.html/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:59:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171049 MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Mets

The next Lenny Dykstra? Not quite…

Question: What do Andres Torres, Collin Cowgill and Eric Young Jr. all have in common?

Answer: Aside from all three having been released by the Mets, they each opened the season as the Mets official leadoff hitter in the last three years.

It’s going on four years since Jose Reyes moved on, and the Mets still haven’t found someone to replace him at the top of the order. And of all the Mets’ off-season questions, finding a leadoff hitter still remains the most critical.

With the non-tendering of Eric Young, the only internal candidates to bat leadoff for the Mets are Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy.

It’s already been pretty much established by Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson that newcomer Michael Cuddyer will bat in the middle of the lineup. And if the Mets do start the season with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, there’s little chance they’d bat him first.

The Mets used 11 different leadoff hitters in 2014 and ranked last in the majors with a .235 average and an equally dismal .308 on-base percentage.

Lagares appears to have the speed and the upside which should give him a leg up on Granderson who posted a paltry .289 on-base in 53 games batting leadoff last season. Lagares got on base at a .329 clip in 37 starts leading off. Murphy has been the team’s best hitter in the last two years, but seems better suited batting second.

If the Mets are left with filling the leadoff void internally, they may want to consider going with a platoon as none of their current options have demonstrated an aptitude for handling a pitcher’s handedness with equal aplomb.

Lagares, who batted .349 with a .387 on-base against left-handers is a no-brainer. It took Terry Collins only five months to figure that out as Lagares finally logged some time batting leadoff in the waning weeks of the season.

Nieuwenhuis and his .350 OBP would be very capable as the other half of the platoon. But it’s most likely he’ll be left in a reserve role where he has thrived as a pinch hitter. He has never fared well with regular playing time.

So who would partner with Lagares to fill the platoon? It’s tough to say as only Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson have the next best OBP vs RHP – and they’re tied with an unimpressive .329.

There are no easy answers. The only true solution might be to acquire a shortstop who can aptly fill the role – preferably a lefthanded batter. But Sandy may be too unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices being asked for such a shortstop.

Something’s gotta give, or else it could be a third straight season of MLB’s worst production batting leadoff for the Mets, and that may make any overall offensive improvement in 2015 less likelier.

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Granderson Won’t Change Approach, Expects Better Numbers Next Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/granderson-wont-change-approach-expects-better-numbers-next-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/granderson-wont-change-approach-expects-better-numbers-next-season.html/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:18:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170800 Curtis - Granderson

Responding to team reports that he could have hit nine more home runs last season with these new Citi Field dimensions, Curtis Granderson said he isn’t interested in playing “the would’ve, could’ve game.”

The Mets right fielder told Anthony McCarron of the Daily News that he doesn’t intend to change his approach. “There’ll be no adjustments because of the dimensions,” Granderson said in a phone interview.

Granderson said he’s already preparing for his second season as a Met and that he may go visit new hitting coach Kevin Long if it fits both their schedules. He disagreed with what Long said last week about the pressure of his 4-year, $60 million contract impacting his numbers last season.

“I don’t think the contract did,” Granderson said. “I think the change from this year to now − playing (roughly) 50 games to playing (155) games. Baseball’s funny − you have to play to fine-tune your craft, and when you’re injured, that takes away from it. Pitchers were outperforming me. I tip my hat to them.”

Granderson is confident that he can improve on his .227 batting average next season as well as the 20 homers. “If you hit it, it’ll go. It’s all about getting consistent. Put yourself into a position to attack.”

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Pitching Or Hitting? Assigning Post-Steroid Era Value http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/pitching-or-hitting-assigning-post-steroid-era-value.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/pitching-or-hitting-assigning-post-steroid-era-value.html/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:41:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170512 jacob degrom

There’s been a lot of talk these days about value. Many Mets fans wonder whether stockpiling valuable pitching assets will prove advantageous in an era when scarcity dictates that quality hitters possess the most value.

Value metrics have become the go-to statistic among many fans in this discussion as they provide a practical tool for defining a player’s contribution. But it’s hard to assign a win-value to a player completely exclusive of contextual influences such as lineup, quality of competition, difficulty of position, and even effectiveness of coaching … to assign a definitive value judgment when comparing similar players based on WAR is dubious. WAR is a broad stroke metric. On any given leader-board you can find multiple instances of  players falling behind clearly less valuable counterparts. Jhonny Peralta is not more valuable than Miguel Cabrera, likewise Josh Donaldson is not more valuable than Giancarlo Stanton.

WAR is more useful in grouping players. You can, for instance, be confident that a 4 WAR player will be categorically superior to a 2 WAR player. WAR only becomes problematic when comparing players separated by smaller increments.

Now if we want to assign a relative value to offense in today’s game we can look at WAR over time. In the charts below you can see that there is a spike of 6+ WAR players right around 1998 (24) with a spike in 8+ WAR players occurring in 2004.

6 WAR

8 war

Interestingly, in 1994, at the height of the steroid era, there were only five 6+ WAR players and no 8+ WAR players. There is definitely a dip in number of high value players in recent years, but there have been other dips over the years and the correlation between the steroid era and numerous high WAR players isn’t as strong as you might think. Part of this might be whatever value is placed on a player’s defense and the possibility that steroids didn’t factor in as much on the defensive side of the game.

A statistic that I do like is OPS. It is the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. OPS is the only widely used statistic that incorporates all the elements of offense: patience, power, and contact.  It is a relatively simple stat that gives us a good solid offensive performance indicator. OPS over time yields a much more pronounced pattern as you can see below (I also included a wOBA comparison for good measure).

ops by year

woba

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As you can see, the spike at right around 1998 in both OPS and wOBA is significant and the decline from about 2002 on is steep. This correlates heavily with increases in numerous other offensive categories during the steroid era. The subsequent decline is considerable and in many ways trends all the way back to standards set back in the early 60’s.

The question nevertheless remains … how does this precipitous decline in offense translate in terms of here-and-now value? Clearly there are fewer high level offensive players than there were only a few years ago … scarcity dictates that their monetary value should increase accordingly. Why have good hitters become so hard to come by? Steroids certainly had something to do with the insane number of 900 and 1000 OPS players in the late 90’s, but as the wave of PED’s subsided, like water finding its level, pitching has slowly begun to ascend to pre-steroid norms. The reason why hitters have become so scarce is because they are increasingly overmatched by pitching, which may have benefited less from steroids than hitting did.

So where do you assign greater baseball value in today’s market, hitting or pitching? 900 OPS players are fewer and further between … so from a monetary standpoint elite hitters will be expensive, probably more expensive than pitching. On the other hand, in this great contest of pitchers vs. batters, the pitchers have been absolutely destroying the batters. Good pitching is in fact beating good hitting all over the place. Tough question.

If you have the money and resources, securing an elite hitter or two will give you a rare advantage because there are so few of them available. I took the top three salaries from every team in the league and split the money between pitching and hitting and sure enough in 2014, teams spent $520,008,647 on “top 3 in salary” pitchers, while they spent a whopping $818,182,379 on “top 3” team hitting. So there is quite a difference.

If you are on a tight budget it becomes difficult to field a balanced team when you apportion a huge percentage of your payroll to 1 or 2 hitters (availability is also a major consideration), and you may be better off cultivating a pitching heavy system (since it’s clearly pitching that is carrying the day anyhow). Ideally you’d want to augment with a host of young cost-controlled home grown offensive players as well … Sound familiar?

This goes back to an earlier discussion that compared Sandy Alderson’s approach with the Mets to Theo Epstein’s strategy with the Cubs. The Mets are going to have a lot of pitching coming up in the next few seasons and the Cubs are brimming with young position players. Theo’s premise goes something like, “Since hitters are so scarce, teams will trade more than their pitching equivalent in value to obtain them.”  According to Theo (and a lot of Cubs fans) because there are so few quality hitters Sandy Alderson should be willing to part with deGrom or Syndergaard and Herrera and Plawecki for a single Starlin Castro … but that’s money talking, and increasingly expensive hitters haven’t been winning on the field, cheap young pitching has.

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Mets Hire Pat Roessler As Assistant Hitting Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-hire-pat-roessler-as-assistant-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-hire-pat-roessler-as-assistant-hitting-coach.html/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:30:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170466 Alex Rodriuez, Pat RoesslerThe Mets have hired former Yankees director of player development Pat Roessler as their new assistant hitting coach. He had been with the Yankees franchise for nine seasons before being fired last month.

Roessler, who has a strong relationship with new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long – who was also fired by the Yankees during the offseason – will have other duties with the team as well, according to Mike Puma.

The Mets introduced the assistant hitting coach job prior to the 2014 season with Luis Natera the first to fill the position. However, the position remained vacant after Natera and hitting coach Dave Hudgens were fired in May.

 

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Mets Interviewed Pat Roessler For Assistant Hitting Coach Job http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-interviewed-pat-roessler-for-assistant-hitting-coach-job.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-interviewed-pat-roessler-for-assistant-hitting-coach-job.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 05:59:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169912 Minor League Baseball: Rome Braves at Charleston RiverDogs

David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that the Mets have interviewed Pat Roessler for the vacant assisting hitting coach position.The former farm director of the New York Yankees, Roessler was recently let go along with Kevin Long who has since been hired as the Mets new hitting coach.

Roessler has been coaching professionally for over three decades, having spent time with the Yankees, White Sox, Expos, Pirates and Astros organizations. Roessler was managing for Triple-A Charleston in 2006 before becoming farm director. He has a good relationship with Kevin Long.

The Mets fired Luis Natera in October after just one season as the team’s assistant hitting coach.

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Mets Have Michael Morse On Their Radar http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-have-michael-morse-on-their-radar.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-have-michael-morse-on-their-radar.html/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 10:40:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169374 Michael+Morse

Now that Michael Cuddyer has been crossed out from the Mets” list of potential free-agent targets, a new name has emerged according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Michael Morse is one such name who fits the Mets’ criteria, according to a person with knowledge of the club’s internal discussions.”

Morse, 32, gave the Giants a nice return on their investment this season, batting .279/.336/.475 with 16 homers and 61 RBI in 438 at-bats, while becoming a positive clubhouse influence and a significant part of San Francisco’s postseason run.

A right-handed slugger, Morse is not far removed from his best season in 2011 when he batted .303/.360/.550 with 31 homers and 95 RBI for the Washington Nationals.

Puma spoke to one major league talent evaluator who pointed out the big concern with Morse, his health history. He hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and there are questions if he can handle the grind of playing the outfield on a regular basis. “You worry about his legs,” the evaluator said.

Morse was bothered by a nagging oblique injury which cut into his playing time during the final two months of the season and limited him in the postseason.

The Giants did not extend Morse a qualifying offer, so the fact that the Mets won’t have to forfeit a first round pick to sign him will have some added appeal for Sandy Alderson.

Another thing you could put in the plus column is that he can do some damage versus left-handed pitchers. He slugged .511 against them in the regular season and owns a .485 career slugging percentage against southpaws.

He also likes to get his swings in at the plate, “I just put it in play,” Morse said. “You never know what can happen.”

Big thing to remember is that he can play left field and first base, though not particularly well, so that versatility may come in handy for the Mets especially if Lucas Duda continues to struggle against LHP.

The Mets would prefer Morse on a one-year deal, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if a couple of teams offered him two years at around $10-12 million annually.

So there you have it, thumbs up or thumbs down?

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Alex Rios Dumps Agent, Hires Scott Boras http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alex-rios-dumps-agent-hires-scott-boras.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alex-rios-dumps-agent-hires-scott-boras.html/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 16:26:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168797 alex rios

Updated November 1

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that free agent outfielder Alex Rios has parted ways with the Kinzer Management Group.and has hired Scott Boras to be his new agent.

The Rangers officially declined Rios’ team option before the switch as the 33-year old outfielder tests free agency for the first time in his career. Rios is projected to get a one year deal for around $7-8 million dollars this offseason.

Several teams have already expressed interest in Rios, but the Mets are not one of them reports Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com.

“The Mets have long been assumed to be looking to upgrade a corner outfield position this offseason and have been reportedly linked with several free agent outfielders. One outfielder on the market who could fit the profile is Alex Rios. The Rangers declined an option on him this month, making him a free agent.”

Rios had a precipitous drop in power this season, hitting just four home runs after averaging 15 homers and 32 doubles in his 11 year career.

Agent Paul Kinzer, who represents Rios, told The Dallas Morning News that the drop in production was due to injuries and that he played hurt during the second half of the season. He did not play after Sept. 4 because of a thumb injury. He also dealt with an ankle injury throughout the second half.

“His numbers were down because of the injuries. He stayed in the lineup and tried to do all he could because of what was happening with the team.”

October 28

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors profiled free-agent Alex Rios, concluding that the 11 year veteran would earn $8.5 million on a one year deal. As we’ve seen from Sandy Alderson, he always prefers short-term contracts over lengthy, multi-year deals. Rios will be on the market and could make a let of sense until players like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto arrive in 2016 and beyond.

Rios batted .280/.311/.398/.709 in 492 at-bats this season, hitting only four home runs in 131 games. However, he has been a very consistent player over the course of his career, hitting .278/.323/.439/.762 and averaging 17 home runs and 78 RBI. Coming off such a down year is unfortunate for Rios who is in the final year of the seven-year, $70 million contract he signed in 2008.

Chris Young was a one year fiasco and was in a similar position. He was floundering as a player after being highly touted early in his career. The difference is that Rios has a proven track record. His career numbers blow Young’s out of the water. You have to believe that one bad signing that didn’t work out, won’t make Alderson gun shy moving forward.

If the goal is to build from within and wait for Nimmo or Conforto to break through in the bigs, then Rios on a one year deal could make a lot of sense. He’ll be a veteran leader in the clubhouse, hopefully providing a little bit of power to go along with a resurgent David Wright and Curtis Granderson.

Rios alone isn’t the answer, but at one year and $8.5 million he might be too good to pass up for the bargain hunting Sandy Alderson.

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AFL Update: Mazzilli Is Red Hot, Nimmo and Reynolds Get All Star Nods http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/afl-update-mazzilli-is-red-hot-nimmo-and-reynolds-get-all-star-nods.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/afl-update-mazzilli-is-red-hot-nimmo-and-reynolds-get-all-star-nods.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:58:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168801 mazzilli

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo and shortstop Matt Reynolds have been named Arizona Fall League All Stars and will represent the Mets in Saturday’s Fall-Stars Game, which will be televised at 8:00 PM on the MLB Network.

Nimmo, 21, was the 13th overall pick of the 2011 Draft and he made great strides this year in the Mets system. The Wyoming native started the season at Advanced-A St. Lucie where he batted .322 with a .448 on-base in 227 at-bats before earning a promotion to Binghamton. Nimmo struggled for the most part in Double-A batting .238/.339/.396 in 240 at-bats with six homers and 26 RBI.

brandon nimmoIn the AFL, Nimmo is batting .231 with just three extra-base hits in 52 at-bats with 20 strikeouts. He told MiLB.com that he is enjoying the opportunity to play in the elite developmental league and is eager to build on the progress he made this year.

“There’s always just little things that you’re working on,” Nimmo said. “For me, I’m always going to try to include every aspect of the game — the fielding, the first steps when I’m trying to steal bags, obviously the hitting, being a little more consistent.”

Nimmo said he knows ups and downs are an inevitable part of baseball. But he hopes he can learn to even out his performance and avoid prolonged slumps.

“You’re going to have the peaks and the valleys, it’s just minimizing that and keeping it a little more constant and consistent,” he said. “I think I did better at that this year. I think there is still a lot of room to improve, especially from that jump from high A to Double-A.”

Matt Reynolds had a breakthrough season for the Mets in 2014. The 2012 second-rounder batted a combined .343 between Binghamton and Las Vegas with a .406 on-base and a robust .859 OPS in 478 at-bats. He could win a job on the Opening Day roster with a good Spring. In Arizona he’s showing some power, posting a .542 Slugging Percentage with three doubles and three homers in 48 at-bats.

One Met prospect who certainly deserved an All Star nod is second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, who is in the top ten in many offensive categories. Mazz, who is sporting a 7-game hitting streak, has a .316/.422/.506 slash line for Scottsdale in 11 games. He was the Mets fourth-round pick in the 2013 Draft and batted .301/.361/.440 with 11 home runs in 131 games in his first full professional season. His approach at the plate and his defense has been drawing raves from scouts.

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Royals and Giants Embrace Their Big Ballparks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/royals-and-giants-embrace-their-huge-ballparks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/royals-and-giants-embrace-their-huge-ballparks.html/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:22:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168781 giants walkoff

Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets could learn a lot by watching how this season’s World Series combatants constructed their teams to excel and win within their spacious ballparks. Both the Giants and Royals play in parks that are not conducive to hitting home runs.

The teams competing in the World Series play their home games in huge parks. AT&T Park in San Francisco annually comes in as either the toughest or one of the toughest stadiums to hit a homer in the majors, according to Park Factors, which compares stat rates at home versus on the road.

Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium has the most square footage in the outfield of any major league park. The Royals, fittingly, hit the fewest homers, just 95 with an MLB-low 43 coming at home. The Giants were in the middle of the pack with 132, but their 53 at home were the fewest in the NL — six less than the Mets had at the old dimensions at Citi.

The Giants, who are gunning for their third World Series championship in five years, have embraced their big ballpark and team president Larry Baer intends to keep it that way. “We don’t think we have anything to fix,” Baer told Sherman.

Offensively, the Giants emphasize a philosophy of making contact, using a line-drive stroke, and maximizing their base running.

Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens says: “Our ballpark is not a home-run park, so why try to hit for power? We have to utilize the park to our advantage, the strange caroms. Strikeouts don’t help.”

Sherman believes the Mets have an outdated philosophy where home runs are prized too highly and strikeouts don’t matter.

“Alderson has always preached building an offense around long at-bats and long balls, and if strikeouts come, so be it.”

In the end, however, Sherman sums up the Mets as follows:.

Is it the size of the park or the size of the talent or the size of the payroll?

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Kevin Long, Front Office Might Not See Eye-To-Eye http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/kevin-long-front-office-might-not-see-eye-to-eye.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/kevin-long-front-office-might-not-see-eye-to-eye.html/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168507 kevin long

Yesterday the Mets announced the hiring of Kevin Long as the new batting coach (or as they call it hitting instructor). This move makes sense for a number of reasons. On top of that list is the work he did with Curtis Granderson while they were both with the Yankees. You could argue that a productive Granderson is the most important thing to the Mets in 2015 and Long should help that. There is one issue with Long’s philosophy. It doesn’t quite lineup with the Mets.

Here’s what Long had to say to Sports Illustrated on his approach:

“You really have to re-think your hitting philosophy. It used to be that you wanted to take pitches and get the starter’s pitch count up so you could get into the other team’s bullpen. Now if you do that, chances are you’re going to see a better arm coming out of the bullpen, and it’s one after the other.”

That sounds like something that could directly conflict with the organizational philosophy. With the broad strokes of money ball known throughout the baseball world by now, Sandy Alderson has always preached a patient approach and waiting for your pitch.

“It’s getting a good pitch to hit, and these guys are sorting through the pitches they are seeing to get something to hit,” Alderson told the New York Post’s Mike Puma back in 2013. “That approach is what really made us successful offensively in 2011 and the first half of 2012, and then we lost the approach. We couldn’t generate any offense in the second half of last year.”

So is this an issue in the waiting? Will Long be able to be an effective hitting instructor while under the watchful eyes of the Mets front office? We don’t expect Alderson to charge through the locker room with a baseball bat like Brad Pitt but one would imagine they’ll be keeping very close tabs on things like opposing pitch counts and on-base percentage under Long’s guidance.

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Mets Announce Kevin Long As New Hitting Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-hire-kevin-long-as-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-hire-kevin-long-as-hitting-coach.html/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:04:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168491 Kevin long cage

The Mets have announced that Kevin Long will become the hitting coach for the Mets. In a statement released to the media, Sandy Alderson said the following:

“Kevin’s experience, success and wealth of knowledge make him the perfect fit as our hitting instructor. This is a very positive step for the Mets. We welcome Kevin, and his wife, Marcey, to the Mets family.”

On becoming the Mets hitting instructor, Long had this to say:

“I’m excited to get the opportunity to work with a team that I think is on the rise. I had a great meeting with Sandy and Terry yesterday and I can’t wait to get started and help in any way I can.”

Long, 47, had spent the previous eight seasons (2007-2014) as the Yankees hitting coach. Under his guidance, the Yankees led the majors in runs scored three times and finished second twice. Before he joined the major league team, Long served as the Yankees’ Triple-A hitting coach with Columbus of the International League for three years (2004-2006).

Prior to joining the Yankees, Long was the hitting coach for the Triple-A Omaha Royals from 2002-2003 and the Double-A Wichita Wranglers’ from 2000-2001. Long was named the Northwest League Manager of the Year after leading Spokane to the title in 1998. He began his coaching career with Wilmington in the Carolina League in 1997.

Long was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10 in 1989 at the University of Arizona. The outfielder was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 31st round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft and played eight years (1989-1996) in Kansas City’s minor league system reaching, Triple-A.

The club also named Dustin Clarke, their new Major League Strength and Conditioning Coach.

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Mets To Formally Interview Kevin Long On Wednesday http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-to-formally-interview-kevin-long-on-wednesday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-to-formally-interview-kevin-long-on-wednesday.html/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 01:12:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167893 Kevin long cage

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Mets will formally interview former Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long on Wednesday, for the vacant hitting coach position created when Lamar Johnson was relieved of his duties.

Long was the hitting coach for the Yankees for seven seasons before being fired by Brian Cashman two weeks ago.

In addition to the Mets, he is drawing interest from the Blue Jays, brewers, Pirates, D’Backs  and Braves.

October 15 – Who is Kevin Long

With all the talk about the Mets considering Kevin Long to fill the Mets vacant hitting coach position, I decided to spend an hour researching him and learning what this former Yankee is all about. I learned some things along the way and thought I’d share some of them with you.

Long Is Very Confident

“If you’re going to fix somebody’s swing, you better know what you’re doing because you’re putting your name and reputation on the line. One of the criticisms I heard was how I could teach this caliber of player when I never played at this level. That doesn’t matter. It matters what kind of educator and teacher I am that I can get these guys to compete at an optimal level.”

Long Is A Hard Worker

“There’s always three things that I think are going to put you above anybody else as a coach. First of all, work ethic. No one is going to outwork me. No one is going to put in more time. That’s number one because the players see that.

Number two is knowledge. I’ve got to be very knowledgeable about what I do. Drill work, what adjustments I make with these guys… I have to know what makes good hitters good. I’ve done my homework. I’ve studied. I’ve taken Barry Bonds’ swing and broken it down into the finest details. And that’s how I started with my philosophy.

The third part—and if you don’t have this, you might as well pack it in as a hitting coach— is you’d better be personable. You’d better have people skills.”

About the Home Run Drill

“You never know if it’s going to catch on,” Long said. “You’re trying to help players become as consistent as possible. When you see guys have a lot of success with a certain drill, you keep it around. And it’s just one of those drills where I’ve seen numerous people throughout my career get better and better with it.”

The drill is intended to build muscle memory and teach players to consistently pull the ball for power.

Long Goes Above and Beyond

“I went to the Dominican Republic to work with Robinson Cano. Did the Yankees pay for that? Did Robinson Cano pay for that? You know who paid for that? Kevin Long paid for that….It wasn’t the Yankees saying go. I went in order for me to be a good instructor. You know what Robinson Cano thinks of me? He thinks I’m the greatest guy in the world…And as I do that, and as we go through a season where there’s struggles and this and that, he now feels he can lean on me, and we can lean on each other and that part can get you over the hump.”

Carlos Pena on Kevin Long

“You can know it all, but if you don’t know how to share it with your players, then the knowledge is lost. His strength is not actually all he knows, but how he teaches, how he can relate to a single player and make the player comfortable and confident and make the player trust him. Regardless of the stage or the level of the hitter, they start to feel they are the best in the world without ever even realizing it.”

Hope you enjoyed this and that you learned a little bit more about Kevin Long that you didn’t know already. These quotes were courtesy of ESPN, the New York Times, Hardball Magazine and Fox Sports.

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Hitting Coach Update: Yankees Tell Magadan He Didn’t Get The Job http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/hitting-coach-update-yankees-tell-magadan-he-didnt-get-the-job.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/hitting-coach-update-yankees-tell-magadan-he-didnt-get-the-job.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:04:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167977 dave magadan

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that Dave Magadan, who was a finalist for the Yankees’ hitting coach job, was informed he did not get the position and that the Yankees and are looking elsewhere.

That makes Magadan the frontrunner for Oakland’s open hitting coach job, Slusser says, particularly with Chili Davis having accepted the Red Sox position and leaving the A’s with the vacancy. Magadan told Slusser he has “had some conversations” with A’s general manager Billy Beane.

The Mets also have talked to Magadan, but as I pointed out last week and you can read below, there’s no chance of that happening given the history between Magadan and Alderson.

Kevin Long is still a possibility, but since last week several more teams have joined the hunt for his services including the Braves, Blue Jays, Brewers, Pirates and Diamondbacks.

October 16

According to what Dave Magadan told NJ.com, he got the sense that neither the Yankees or Mets are in any rush to fill their vacant hitting coach positions. ”I don’t think either one of them is in a huge hurry to make any choices.”

George King and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, first reported that the former Met had been contacted by the Mets, telling them that talks were very preliminary.

This evening a reader emailed me to say that Magadan and Sandy Alderson actually have a history, and not particularly a good one. Sandy fired Magadan when the two were together in San Diego.

After a stint as the Padres’ minor league hitting instructor, Magadan was promoted to the big-league staff a year later as hitting coach for manager Bruce Bochy.

“I’d met with Sandy two weeks before, and he was like, ‘You’re doing a great job. Whatever you need — videotape, whatever it is you need that you feel will enhance what you want to do — let us know, we’ll get it for you.’

“Two weeks later, I was driving home…I don’t even remember what I said. I was in such shock.”

Manager Bruce Bochy was upset and angered by the move. He stormed into the team clubhouse to tell his players that Magadan had just been fired and that he had no part in the decision. That didn’t sit well with team brass.

After being granted permission to look for another opportunity, Bochy left the Padres with one year remaining on his contract to become the manager of the San Francisco Giants.

At the time Magadan was fired, the Padres, played in pitching-friendly Petco Park, were just one game out of first place in the NL West.

Merv Rettenmund replaced Magadan as the Padres hitting coach, but he too was fired mid-season just under a year later. Wally Joyner took over as the new hitting coach, but resigned 14 months later citing a difference in hitting philosophy with Sandy Alderson.

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MMO Mailbag: Adding A Big Power Bat This Offseason http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-adding-a-big-power-bat-this-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-adding-a-big-power-bat-this-offseason.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168195 matt kemp

Stephen H. asks…

Joe, why are you always so against the Mets adding a big power hitter in the outfield? This team needs to score a lot more runs and a Matt Kemp,  Jose Bautista or a Nelson Cruz could be the one piece this team needs to get us into the postseason. Imagine if we had one of them this season instead of Chris Young who was a complete waste of money? I usually agree with you but lately you’re always knocking down any suggestions to do what it takes to add that big bat this team desperately needs. Please reply back.

Joe D. replies…

Actually there is one slugger I’d love to see the Mets go after and that’s Yasmani Tomas, so it’s not entirely true that I’m against adding a big bat. What I am against is going after players like the ones you mentioned. I am tired of continuously giving up draft picks, top prospects and huge amounts of money for players whose best seasons are behind them. I’m tired of the Mets getting stuck paying these players exorbitant sums of money and in return getting the worst seasons of their careers instead of their best. This is why I was against the Curtis Granderson deal last season.

In the case of Tomas I’m more open because one – we don’t have to give up any prospects to get him, two – we don’t forfeit a first round pick, and three – he’s only 24 years old. A team in a market as big as New York shouldn’t be on the sidelines for a young talent like this who could fill several needs. But it’s not happening, so enough on him.

While in the right circumstances it would be nice, I don’t agree that we need a 30-homer bat to get into the postseason in 2015.

I’m impressed by the Kansas City Royals and how they’ve come as far as they have while hitting the fewest home runs in the majors and being the only team with less than a hundred longballs this season.

The Mets hit 30 more home runs than the Royals this season, and yet Kansas City scored far more runs and had the higher slugging percentage. They also had 279 fewer strikeouts than the Mets and therein lies the big problem.

As I stressed on Friday, we need to make more contact. We need to reduce these alarmingly high strikeouts and put the ball in play. We leave too many runners on base and suffer from a severe lack productive outs. Putting balls in play puts pressure on the opposing team’s defense and advances runners.

This isn’t to say that power isn’t important, only that it isn’t as vital as everyone is making it out to be. Hopefully the new hitting coach can get this team back to basics and the Mets can again start using contact and speed to manufacture more runs. 

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Astros Name Dave Hudgens New Hitting Coach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/astros-name-dave-hudgens-new-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/astros-name-dave-hudgens-new-hitting-coach.html/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 06:13:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168140 dave hudgensAccording to beat writer Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Houston Astros have hired Dave Hudgens as the team’s hitting coach. He joins Gary Pettis as third base coach, and Rich Dauer as first base coach as part of new manager A.J. Hinch’s coaching staff.

Hudgens was fired as the Mets’ hitting coach in the middle of this season and was replaced by Lamar Johnson, who was also relieved of his duties by the Mets after the season.

After Hudgens was told he was out, he didn’t go quietly,  heavily criticizing Mets ownership, low payroll, and even the SNY broadcast team of Gary, Keith and Ron.

He insinuated that the lack of results on offense wasn’t him but not having the payroll to afford better hitters.

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MMO Mailbag: Will Mets Strikeout At Hitting Coach? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-strikeout-at-hitting-coach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-mailbag-will-mets-strikeout-at-hitting-coach.html/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167967 travis d'arnaud hr

Alex asks…

Do you have a personal favorite for the next Mets hitting coach and who do you think they’ll ultimately go with?

Joe D. replies…

I don’t really have a favorite to be quite honest. I’ve shared my pros and cons on Bobby Abreu, Kevin Long and most recently Dave Magadan. But the fact of the matter is I don’t really care which way Sandy Alderson goes. In the grand scheme of things, a hitting coach is item number 150 on things that really matter this offseason.

The Mets already have an organizational hitting philosophy and regardless of whom they choose as their next hitting coach, rest assured that he’ll be on board and lockstep with that philosophy.

The philosophy is a sound one based on a fundamental approach that many of the game’s best hitters have always used. Being selective at the plate, making good contact, and understanding that you’ll do more damage hitting pitches in the zone is nothing new. It’s common sense.

The problem for the Mets has been a failure to deliver that message. Dave Hudgens over-complicated everything and never connected with the players who just wanted to go to the plate and hit. He was unable to reach most of them and eventually they all just tuned him out.

Perhaps Travis d’Arnaud was the one who helped usher in Hudgens’ ouster. When asked to explain his turnaround after a demotion to the minors, he said he needed to get all the noise out of his head and go back to basics.

What the Mets need is someone personable who can connect with the team. Someone who could simplify the organizational philosophy and not burden the hitters with weekly spray charts and tons of scientific data. It’s not a science to them, it’s a game.

While the Mets are on the hunt to increase home run output at home and overall, I hope they don’t forget that what they need most is disciplined contact hitters who can hit the ball with authority and to all fields.

They also need a communicator who can teach the basics of situational hitting. Our players need to understand the importance of advancing runners and getting them home from third. Strikeouts are never productive, but a well placed grounder or a deep fly with a runner on third and less than two outs is. Hopefully our next hitting coach will be able to do a better job of delivering that message and getting the team to buy in.

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Alderson Contacted Kevin Long About Vacant Hitting Coach Job http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-contacted-kevin-long-about-vacant-hitting-coach-job.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/alderson-contacted-kevin-long-about-vacant-hitting-coach-job.html/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:32:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167689 kevin long

Through a league source, Mark Feinsand of the Daily News has confirmed that ousted Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has spoken with Sandy Alderson about the Mets hitting coach position.

The source said Long has already had phone conversations with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as well as the general managers and/or managers from the Braves and Blue Jays.

Long declined to go into specifics about who he has or has not spoken with. ”I’ve gotten calls from a lot of teams,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

The Red Sox are also said to be very interested in Long.

October 13

According to Matt Ehalt of The Record, Mets sources are indicating that Kevin Long could be looked at to fill the Mets vacancy at hitting coach. Long was relieved of his duties with the Yankees on Friday after ten years of service.

Long was best known for developing and implementing his ‘Home Run Drill’ during batting practice sessions and pre-game warm ups to get Yankee sluggers to take advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

He would be an interesting fit for the Mets solely because of his existing relationship with Curtis Granderson. Long helped Granderson develop into an extreme power hitter and was one of the many players he transformed into a pull home run hitter at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s been working with Kevin Long and the ability of him to throw lefthanded BP day in and day out,” Granderson told the Daily News‘ Sean Brennan in 2011 about his home run surge.

“But it’s constantly battling, trusting what we’ve been working on, the changes that we made, definitely never second-guessing what Kevin Long and myself started on last August.”

While it seems unlikely that a hitting coach would be brought in because of his relationship with a single player, fixing Granderson’s swing should be a top priority heading into 2015. Without a resurgence from Granderson and David Wright, the 2015 season could become a repeat of 2014.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I’m not sure it would be a good idea to bring in a hitting coach predominantly because he had some success with one player in the past. Especially when that one player was signed to a $60 million dollar deal to initially become the team’s cleanup hitter. When you get that kind of a contract, you usually don’t need to travel with a personal hitting coach.

The more you read the tea leaves, you get the sense that the front office is abandoning the pitching, contact, speed and defense that Citi Field was built for. The Mets are going alter their ballpark dimensions for the third time in six years.

The team has become so desperate that they have already fired two hitting coaches in the space of four months and by the looks of things, they still have no clear idea as to who the replacement will be. Among the candidates is Bobby Abreu who has recently retired and never worked as a hitting coach before, but is cherished by the front office for his patience and approach at the plate. But is that something he can teach, when others and more experienced hitting coaches have failed with this current Mets team?

Incredibly, the thought that perhaps the Mets need better players to score more runs is never mentioned or brought up, which is kind of perplexing to me. It’s either the approach, protection for Wright, the fences, and now the hitting coach.

(Updated 10/13)

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