Mets Merized Online » infield http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:27:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.17 Who Gets The Last Spot On The Mets Bench? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/who-gets-the-last-spot-on-the-mets-bench.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/who-gets-the-last-spot-on-the-mets-bench.html/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=228820 mets win

While most are currently focused on the bullpen, this Mets team has some other areas it needs to address prior to the start of the 2017 season. One of the main issues facing this team is which player is going to get the last spot on the bench? The Mets infield currently consists of Lucas Duda at first, Neil Walker at second, Asdrubal Cabrera, and David Wright at third, with Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores supplying depth.

At first glance, this may not seem like it is a major issue. If any of the infielders go down with injury, it’s expected that Flores and Reyes can more than capably handle the four infield spots. If two were to go down, we have seen enough from both Flores and Reyes to know that they can at least be a good stopgap option at a position. However, the player who is the last man on the roster will begin to take on a larger role with the team.

Last year, that player was Eric Campbell. While Campbell may have had his positive attributes, he was certainly not capable of playing every day.  And yet, when Duda and Wright were injured, that was the position Campbell found himself in. In 2017, there is no reason to believe that all of Duda (back), Wright (spine), Walker (back), or Cabrera (knee) could last a full season. With their extensive injury history, the Mets need a deep bench for 2017 to prevent a player of Campbell’s caliber being a starter for two or more weeks.

For the past two seasons, the Mets have made trades to obtain Kelly Johnson to serve as a bench player. He proved to be a useful player who hit .260/.319/.441 over two brief stints with the Mets. Last year, he was a clutch pinch hitter, launching four pinch hit home runs. He is versatile in his ability to play first, second, third, and both corner outfield positions. The main issue facing Johnson is that he remains unsigned, and at this point, it is questionable whether the Mets have interest in him considering they want to cut payroll before the start of 2017.

One of the options is Terry Collins favorite Ty Kelly. Like Johnson, Kelly is versatile in his ability to play across the infield and the corner outfield positions. In a small sample size of 71 MLB plate appearances, Kelly hit .241/.352/.345 with one home run and seven RBI. His career minor league statistics are much more desirable, as across six seasons, he has hit .285/.389/.389 with as many as 15 home runs in a season (2014).

t-j-rivera

T.J. Rivera stood out during the 2016 season. Late in the season, with the injuries to Walker and Flores, Rivera grabbed hold of the second base job and hit .333/.346/.476 in 33 games. Unlike Kelly, Rivera has played a fair amount of games at shortstop. With that said, there is a reason why the Mets began transitioning him away from short beginning in AA. Despite that, the fact remains that he is proficient at all four infield positions as well as left field. The main sticking point with Rivera is the fact that he is an aggressive hitter who rarely draws a walk.

Last, but certainly not least, is Matt Reynolds. Unlike the aforementioned players, Reynolds is a legitimate shortstop who quite possibly has the best range out of all the Mets’ major league options. Reynolds has shown he can play second, third, and even some left field. On the downside, Reynolds is the worst hitter of the bunch. In his 47 games with the Mets last year, he only hit .255/.266/.416. In the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League, he hit only .264/.336/.357 last year. Ultimately, Reynolds is the guy you want out there defensively, but he is not the guy you want at the plate.

Unless the Mets re-sign Johnson, it looks like the fight will be between Kelly, Rivera, and Reynolds for the last spot on the bench. In those three players, the Mets have three intriguing yet flawed players. If the Mets face a number of injuries like they did in 2015 and 2016, they have a couple of options that have proven they can be useful Major League players. With that, it seems the Mets bench should not be a problem for the first time in a good number of years.

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2017 Top 30 Prospects: No. 7 Gavin Cecchini, INF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-top-30-prospects-no-7-gavin-cecchini-inf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/2017-top-30-prospects-no-7-gavin-cecchini-inf.html/#comments Tue, 10 Jan 2017 16:00:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229108 gavin-cecchini

#7 Gavin Cecchini

Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 200 Level: AAA & MLB

B/T: R/R  Age: 12/22/93 (23) Age Dif: -4.2 (AAA) & -6.6 (MLB)

Acquired: Selected in the first round (12th) of the 2012 Amateur Draft

Last year: #4

2016 MiLB Statistics:  117 G, 499 PA, 446 AB, 71 R, 145 H, 27 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB, .325/.390/.448

2016 MLB Statistics: 4 G, 7 PA, 6 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.429/.667

Cecchini is just one of a number of shortstops in a loaded Mets farm system at the position. As previously discussed, there is Amed Rosario, who is nipping at Cecchini’s heels. There is Matt Reynolds, who has transitioned to becoming a utility player despite his having a good glove for the position. There are also top shortstop prospects like Luis GuillormeGregory Guerrero, and Andres Gimenez in the lower levels of the Mets farm system.  With that in mind, the question has become what to to do with Cecchini.

Out of all of these shortstop, it appears Cecchini is the player best suited for a position change because he is very close to being major league ready, if not so already. He is stuck between Rosario and Asdrubal Cabrera, and he has also exhibited some defensive struggles at short.

Cecchini’s defensive troubles have been somewhat maddening because he has the tools to be a very good defender at the position. He has good range for a shortstop with a plus arm. Both are partially responsible for his struggles. With his range, Cecchini gets to some balls that other shortstops don’t, doesn’t get himself set, and he attempts to make a play. Additionally, he has an extremely strong arm, but he tends to rush throws that he: (1) shouldn’t make in the first place; or (2) didn’t need to rush. Throwing errors have been the overwhelming majority of all his errors.

The hope at least is that Cecchini’s issues will be abated by a transition to second base. Cecchini began that transition late in the 2016 season. Near the end of the season, Cecchini began working at second base, and he would play in three games at the position. During the Arizona Fall League, Cecchini also got a few reps at second base by Scottsdale Scorpions manager, and Mets first base coach, Tom Goodwin.

Speaking of the Arizona Fall League, Cecchini was one of the standouts not just on the Scorpions, but the entire league. In 16 games, he hit .295/.357/.459 with 12 runs, five doubles, a triple, home run, and seven RBI. This stint in the Arizona Fall League was just a part of a season where he continued his development as a hitter.

Cecchini has an advanced approach at the plate. He is a patient hitter that works the count well and is willing to draw a walk.  He is good at identifying his pitch and trying to drive it somewhere. He is a a line drive hitter with a gap-to-gap approach at the plate.

As he matures and begins to fill out, some of his doubles could very well begin to turn into home runs. Overall, with Cecchini’s advanced approach at the plate and him still having some untapped offensive potential, you can see why the Mets are looking to transition him to another position.

Combining his offensive potential, his competitiveness, and his high baseball IQ, Cecchini may well force his way onto the major league roster at some point during the 2017 season.  As is always the case with Cecchini, this will largely depend on his ability to show the Mets he can handle the middle infield defensively at the major league level.

Mike M adds…

I’m still a firm believer that Cecchini will hit well at the major level, even enough to provide value at second base. I also believe he has the tools to become an average defensive second baseman, which is likely his long-term future.

To me the question remains if it will be within the Mets organization that Cecchini becomes a productive big leaguer. The breakout of Amed Rosario would have likely moved Cecchini off shortstop regardless of defensive struggles. The Mets also have Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Neil Walker, T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes as current middle infield depth.

2017 Outlook:

Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy answer to this question. While the best answer would be Cecchini would best be suited to being the Opening Day second baseman for the Las Vegas 51s, the Mets have not made any definitive pronouncements as to where he will play next year. Of course, that will depend in large part on where Rosario begins the 2017 season.

With the Mets new organizational philosophy of exposing prospects to new positions, we will assuredly see Cecchini at second base. However, we may also see him at short, third base, and the outfield. While the exposure to the new positions will create more opportunities for him to get called up to the majors, it may slow his development at second, if that is his ultimate destination.

2017 MMO TOP 30 PROSPECTS

1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

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Kelly Johnson Wants To Stay, But Infield Depth Makes It Difficult http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/12/kelly-johnson-wants-to-stay-but-infield-depth-makes-it-hard.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/12/kelly-johnson-wants-to-stay-but-infield-depth-makes-it-hard.html/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:30:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=227536 kelly-johnson

Per Adam Rubin on Twitter, utility man Kelly Johnson would like to stay in New York. However, as Rubin points out, the Mets glut of backup infielders will prove a big obstacle for him.

Johnson, 34, has been a very important cog in the Mets offense over the past two seasons. He is a reason they have been able to make the playoffs in two consecutive years despite injuries. Traded from the Braves (for the second time) on June 8th, Johnson hit .268 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 82 games for the Mets.

He has developed a reputation as a great clutch bat, as in the 8th inning or later after coming to the Mets, he hit .286/.327/.490 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 52 plate appearances. He also provided tremendous flexibility, logging innings at every infield position as well as left field.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the Mets have a very strong infield bench with Jose Reyes or David Wright, depending on who is starting at third base, and Wilmer Flores. They also have T.J. Rivera waiting in the wings in AAA as well as versatile Matt Reynolds who are both much cheaper than bringing back the veteran would be.

I am a Kelly Johnson fan, but I just don’t see the Mets signing him as a free agent this offseason. We will not see him in a Mets uniform again… That is, until we get him from the Braves this summer.

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Pace 2017 Salary Projections: Wilmer Flores, IF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/pace-2017-salary-projections-wilmer-flores-if.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/pace-2017-salary-projections-wilmer-flores-if.html/#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2016 13:30:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226037 wilmer flores 6 hits

Adam Rubin is rolling out his ever popular Pace Law Annual Salary Projection Series. In making their determinations, Pace puts together a panel that will base their projections on the following:

  • The quality of the player’s contribution to his club during the past season (referred to as his “platform season”), including but not limited to his overall performance, special qualities of leadership and public appeal
  • The length and consistency of his career contribution
  • The player’s past compensation
  • Comparative baseball salaries
  • The existence of any physical or mental issues on the part of the player
  • The recent performance record of the club, including but not limited to its league standing and attendance, as an indication of public acceptance

Wilmer Flores, IF

Pace Salary Projection: $2.9M

MLBTR Salary Projection: $1.9M

According to Pace, the three players that Flores will likely be compared to in the arbitration process are Neil Walker, Gordon Beckham, and Anthony Rendon.

You can read their full analysis here.

Fan-favorite Wilmer Flores put up solid numbers in 2016, setting new career highs in batting average (.267), on-base percentage (.319), and slugging percentage while matching his career high in home runs (16) in 103 games. He was on track to easily beat more of his career highs before his season ended with a wrist injury.

With the Mets’ second base situation in flux, it is hard to say at this point exactly what Flores’ role will be in 2017. It could range anywhere from a bench player, to a platoon with T.J. Rivera, or the every day starter. His value lies in his ability to play any infield position, as well as his prowess against left-handed pitching. Since 2015, in 214 plate appearances against lefties, he has hit .325/.369/.655 with a home run every 11.11 at bats. He has a better eye against lefty pitchers as well, drawing more walks (6.1% to 4.9%) and striking out less (12.1% to 13.5%).

Whichever projection is correct, anything less than $3M seems like a bargain if Wilmer continues to improve as he has.

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The Mets Infield of the Future Takes Shape http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/the-mets-infield-of-the-future-takes-shape.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/09/the-mets-infield-of-the-future-takes-shape.html/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2016 19:42:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=222973 ron-cey-steve-garvey-davey-lopes-bill-russell

The blueprint for a great homegrown infield is generally regarded as the one that the LA Dodgers installed in 1973. It was in June of that year that the unit of Ron Cey (3B), Bill Russell (SS), Davey Lopes (2B), and Steve Garvey (1B) was installed in the lineup and allowed to gel. Interestingly enough, most of the members of that outfit had shifted positions from those at which they had come up playing in order to better match their offensive capabilities with the Dodgers’ defensive needs. Russell and Lopes had both logged most of their time in the minors as outfielders, while Garvey had been primarily a third sacker whose highly suspect defense had predicated a shift across the diamond. Once established, this group remained entrenched for close to nine seasons and became the most memorable infield combo since “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

With the various Met minor affiliates having completed their seasons, those with an eye on the future can have some legitimate expectation of a near-future infield alignment in Flushing that, while perhaps not matching the overall production of the storied Dodger quartet, could still form the basis of a cohesive unit that, barring injury or trades, could last several years.

A couple of important distinctions exist between a projected Met infield and the one crafted by the Dodger front office more that 40 years ago. For starters, the third base component of the Met group is probably already here. I refer to fan favorite Wilmer Flores who, at age 25, should just be reaching his prime years as a player when the rest of the group are ready to begin establishing themselves in the big leagues.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while not strictly considered an “infield” position, the likelihood of an outstanding catching prospect arriving close to the time the primary infield slots are possibly filled by players graduating from the Met system is high. The player in this case, of course, is Tomas Nido, aka the newly minted batting champion of the Florida State League.

With Nido’s emergence as a two-way prospect and the current nebulous state of the Mets’ catching picture, one can envision a strong showing at Binghamton in 2017 leading to a shot at the big time by midway through the 2018 season.

dominic-smith

If so, Nido should be joining a squad that could include Dominic Smith at 1B, Ahmed Rosario at SS, and one of several possibilities at 2B. The plethora of candidates at this position is something that I have noted before and is a group that has grown somewhat with the emergence of Rosario as a clear favorite for the SS position forcing some other contenders to the other side of the keystone.

The 2B contingent, which includes PCL batting champ T.J. Rivera and dark horse candidate Jeff McNeil, has swelled to accommodate Gavin Cecchini and Phillip Evans, erstwhile shortstops whose bats have earned them consideration for the role of Rosario’s DP partner.

McNeil, it should be noted, has missed the bulk of this season due to injury and had been labeled as likely utility material by the organization due in part to a lack of power. To his credit, it was observed that he had made an effort to address that particular issue through a strengthening program in the offseason. His left handed bat is an added plus to help him stand out as at least a platoon option.

Evans, a 15th round pick in 2011 had done little to distinguish himself over the past 4 seasons but suddenly blossomed this year with a promotion to Binghamton and ended up with the Eastern League batting crown. His deployment at various infield slots again suggests a future utility role but it will be interesting to see if his development continues in more challenging environments.

For an organization whose hallmark has been a focus on the development of pitching, this coming wave of position players probably best represents the stamp of Sandy Alderson finally coming to bear.

While he has demonstrated that he is not shy about using minor league assets to swing the deals needed to nudge the big club closer to the possibility of a championship, there is no doubt that the advantages of a young, controllable, and yes, cheap lineup of Mets who come with the added cachet of home-grown appeal is not lost on the front office nor the Wilpons.

Toss in an outfielder or two and some permutation of the mighty pitching staff that might be (if Harvey, Matz, DeGrom, Wheeler, and Syndergaard can ever be healthy at the same time), and you have the ingredients for some kind of dreamed-of dynasty. Or at least a legitimately competitive squad for a reasonable amount of time. Not too much to hope for, is it?

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Can Mets Afford To Let Walker Walk? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/can-mets-afford-to-let-walker-walk.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/08/can-mets-afford-to-let-walker-walk.html/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2016 11:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=219987 neil walker

Just when it looked as if things couldn’t get bleaker for the Mets, Neil Walker rescued them Sunday afternoon with a two-run, ninth-inning homer.

It wasn’t the first time Walker picked up the Mets by the scruff of the neck this season, and it made me wonder if Walker will be around to save them in 2017. He’s free to leave after this season and there’s been no word on what the Mets’ plans are, but Walker is starting to feel right at home he told Kristie Ackert of the Daily News.

“I’d never lived in New York, I wasn’t sure what that was going to be like. I wasn’t sure how I would handle all the media and everything that goes with a big market team.

“But, honestly, it’s been great. I couldn’t be happier with everything. I’ve enjoyed the change. I love my teammates, the coaches and all the people here. I could not be more excited about this team and it’s future.”

The Mets were lucky to get him from Pittsburgh after Daniel Murphy left last winter. Ben Zobrist was their first choice, but they were never going to afford him. GM Sandy Alderson let Murphy walk for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which was budding phenom and second baseman of the future Dilson Herrera. Well, Herrera now is in Cincinnati’s farm system.

If they let Walker go as they did Murphy, they will be forced to find a second baseman. Will they go outside? Will it be Wilmer Flores, whom they never want to give a fair chance? Will it be Jose Reyes? Will they bring back Kelly Johnson or try Matt Reynolds?

Whoever they choose, it’s unlikely he’ll match Walker’s production, which will become even more important should Yoenis Cespedes opt out and leave. That would be roughly 55 homers and 180 RBI they’d need to replace. What Walker did Sunday is to remind us how important he has been to the Mets and the fragility of their offense.

As has been the case with the Mets a lot lately, the game boiled down to the late innings. Manager Terry Collins pulled Jacob deGrom with the bases loaded, two outs and a one-run lead in the seventh, but Jerry Blevins couldn’t keep Detroit from tying the game and the Mets were in danger of being swept and falling further behind in the wild-card race.

However, the Tigers ran themselves out of the eighth inning to set up Walker’s 19th homer, a drive well into the right-field seats that carried the Mets to a 3-1 victory.

Walker Neil

After a sizzling April, Walker went into a dismal slump, but he regained his stroke after the All-Star break and took a .489 stretch (22-for-45) into the game. With Cespedes basically a non-entity since early July, Walker has kept the Mets afloat; he has three homers and nine RBI over his last dozen games.

Walker approached his at-bat against Francisco Rodriguez wanting to get a fastball early and stay away from the closer’s put-away changeup.

“You hope he leaves something up in the zone and that’s what I got,” Walker said. “With most closers you want to get to them early in the count because they have a devastating out pitch.”

Considering the Mets’ overall lack of prowess hitting with RISP and their injuries, one shudders to think where they would be without Walker. For one thing, it’s doubtful they would be three games over .500.

Walker has been crucial to the Mets’ hanging around, and as dismal as they have played, they are one good week from getting a foothold in the wild card race. They are currently nine games behind Washington in the NL East, so that boat is pulling out of the harbor. Still, the wild card is possible, as they trail the second slot by just 1.5 games.

Ackert spoke to a team source who said that with Herrera gone, the Mets would “make a good run” at trying to re-sign Walker – who said the Mets have not approached him about the future, but he’s very open to the idea.

“When I say I am excited about the future here, I don’t just mean what I think we can still do this season,” Walker said. “I like the players we have here, I like what I think we are building for this season and for years to come. I’d like to be a part of it.”

Like Murphy last offseason. Walker will be the top offensive second baseman this Winter. But unlike Murphy, Walker can actually field his position adequately and he has stabilized the team’s infield defense. How should the Mets play this? Letting him walk seems like a bad idea right now. And I’n not sure any of our internal options have half the upside and ceiling Dilson Herrera had.

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Gavin Cecchini Makes Sense as a Trade Chip for Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/gavin-cecchini-makes-sense-as-a-trade-chip-for-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/gavin-cecchini-makes-sense-as-a-trade-chip-for-mets.html/#comments Sat, 16 Jul 2016 16:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217703 New York Mets

In 2012, the Mets selected shortstop Gavin Cecchini with their first round pick in the MLB draft. The hope was that he would develop into exactly what he has — a solid middle infielder that hits for a high average and got on base. After hitting .317/.377/.442 in Double-A last season, he’s off to a .320/.401/.447 start in Triple-A this year. With low strikeout totals throughout his minor league career, Cecchini has a knack for putting the ball in play. When you throw in that he’s not an elite defender and somewhat overlooked as a prospect, Cecchini is in many ways the minor league version of Daniel Murphy.

And like Murphy, Cecchini could be headed elsewhere soon. Cecchini’s chances as the Mets’ future shortstop looks bleak. The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera under contract through 2017, and his likely replacement is the fast-rising Amed Rosario. At second base, Cecchini seems to be blocked by Dilson Herrera, who has hit even better than Cecchini in the minor leagues and is regarded as a potential impact player at the next level.

The Mets seem to like Wilmer Flores as a third base/utility role hybrid, and he’s under contract through 2020. And speaking of that role, the Mets have a team option on Jose Reyes for next season. Considering the Mets owe him the league minimum, it’s likely they exercise it if he can keep up what he’s been doing so far. Long-term, Luis Carpio is a 19-year old middle infielder that scouts seem to like at least as much as Cecchini even with a torn labrum that has knocked him out for all of 2016.

So that leaves Cecchini most likely without a spot on the roster until 2018. Now it’s possible that Flores gets traded or some one gets unexpectedly hurt, but if the Mets have shown anything over the last few seasons, it’s that they aren’t too keen on giving young hitters playing time on their infield. If Herrera still isn’t in the major leagues, then it’s unlikely Cecchini will get there before him.

It doesn’t take much to add it all up and see where that leaves Cecchini in the Mets’ future plans. The Mets have a win-now attitude. Cecchini is the team’s top prospect who appears available for trade. He also is unlikely to have a substantial role with the Mets until at least 2018. However, he can be considered major league ready and could potentially start right away or by the end of 2016 for any team he is traded to.

When the Mets drafted Cecchini in 2012, their middle infield was in disarray. Now when he’s on the cusp on promotion, the middle infield is perhaps the deepest part of their team. But that doesn’t mean Cecchini won’t have an impact on the Mets. If he’s traded for something that can get the Mets back to the World Series, he’ll have served a very important role on this team — trade chip.

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Mets Hoping Cespedes Can Avoid DL With Strained Right Quad http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-hoping-cespedes-can-avoid-dl-with-strained-right-quad.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/mets-hoping-cespedes-can-avoid-dl-with-strained-right-quad.html/#comments Sat, 09 Jul 2016 13:28:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217172 yoenis-cespedes10

All Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes strained his right quadriceps muscle on Friday after chasing down a Daniel Murphy double in the third inning.

“Hopefully it doesn’t translate into me going on the 15-day DL,” Cespedes said through his interpreter. He said he suffered a similar injury with the Detroit Tigers and it forced him to miss four or five days.

Cespedes, 30, will be checked out by team doctors on Saturday and manager Terry Collins doesn’t expect him to be available to play in Tuesday’s All Star Game in San Diego.

“When you’ve got strains, that’s an issue, especially when you’re as strong as he is,” Collins explained after the game.

Additionally, Collins said the team will play out the last two games of the first half with a short bench rather than promote another outfielder from Triple-A.

“We’re just going to have to keep going. I’ve told you before that no one in baseball feels sorry for us. And so we’ll just have to suck it up and come in tomorrow and get ready to play with the bodies we have available.” 

Original Report – July 8

The New York Mets announced that center fielder Yoenis Cespedes left the game with a strained right quad.

It appeared that Cespedes injured his leg after playing a Daniel Murphy double off the center field wall in the top of the third. After he threw the ball back into the infield, he was seen pounding and rubbing his quad area. Juan Lagares replaced Cespedes him in center in the top of the fourth.

After the Mets announcement, Adam Rubin tweeted out the following:

“Mets didn’t even use the term “mild” for Cespedes’ strain, which is usually their default terminology. Guess All-Star Game out for Cespedes.”

Hopefully he’s just being the typical alarmist that he is. We’ll know more after the game when Terry Collins speaks to reporters.

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Sandy Alderson Dials Up Winning Code in Offseason (643) (463) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/sandy-alderson-dials-up-winning-code-in-offseason-643-463.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/sandy-alderson-dials-up-winning-code-in-offseason-643-463.html/#comments Mon, 02 May 2016 14:04:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210895 neil walker asdrubal cabrera

The lead had dwindled to one.

Closer Jeurys Familia yielded a leadoff single to the pesky Denard Span and was staring at the stern, focused face of former Met Angel Pagan. The speedy Pagan has flourished since his departure from Flushing for two forgettable experiments in Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez, netting a World Series ring in 2012 and about 40 million dollars in contract money from the Giants. He stood in the batters box as an unlikely candidate to record an out, let alone two. Familia dealt his signature sinker at 96 MPH on the outer half which Pagan rolled over to the right side.

The record breaking regular season crowd of 44,466, two-thirds of them Gnome-less and agitated, fell silent on contact.

In years past, particularly 2015, this was a cue for Mets fans to hide their eyes. Countless times the middle infield of the Mets botched tailor-made twin killings and extended innings. The Mets ranked 26th in executed DP’s last year, ahead of only four clubs. Giving teams extra outs is a classic recipe for disaster.

And of course, look at any game log in the World Series vs the Royals if you need further evidence of their defensive woes up the middle.

Even more significant, but often under-discussed, the defense failing to execute induced double play ground balls can needlessly extend the Mets’ young pitchers who were subject to innings limits in 2015 and pitch counts in 2016.

But, Alas Met fans! Do not avert your eyes! The newly constructed middle infield of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are on the case!

Walker fielded Pagan’s grounder on the short hop and adroitly executed his back hand push-flip toss to Cabrera who was in an athletic shuffle transition over the second base bag that would make past Met shortstops ankles hurt. Cabrera fired to first to a splitting Lucas Duda to nail the busting Pagan by an eye lash.

The threat was thwarted. And silly you! You missed it, understandably so, because you had covered your eyes.

While the Mets are on pace to turn almost exactly the same number of double plays this year than in 2015, many variables can account for that. The turnover in the rotation to include more strikeout pitchers and the elimination of contact guys like Neise and Gee now make double play chances few and far between.

Converting these chances is tantamount to any team’s success.

Sandy Alderson acquired Walker and Cabrera to shore up the middle infield defense. With all the talk about the potent bats of the newly acquired double play combination, little has been said about the defense.

But the most basic defensive stat pretty much tells the story about the middle infield.

Last year, Mets shortstops and second baseman combined to make 27 errors. This year, through the first month, the Mets have had TWO errors at those spots. What a difference two players not known for their defense can make.

Countless balls that you are used to seeing squirt through the middle of the diamond have been snagged, some in fancy fashion. Throws have been made from knees, from mid-air, and from posteriors to nail base runners.

So, next time the Mets have an opportunity to roll one up, feel free to watch hopefully instead of hopelessly.

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Mets Minors: Pill Fires Eight Scoreless Innings In 6-0 B-Mets Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mets-minors-pill-fires-eight-scoreless-innings-in-6-0-b-mets-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mets-minors-pill-fires-eight-scoreless-innings-in-6-0-b-mets-win.html/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:10:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210670 pill1

The Binghamton Mets got just what the doctor ordered last night at NYSEG Stadium when Tyler Pill tossed 8.0 innings of shutout baseball as the B-Mets downed Portland, 6-0, to complete a three game sweep.

Pill, historically a dependable starter for Binghamton, had struggled in his first two outings, but seems to have turned things around in his last two trips to the hill. That’s a positive sign for Binghamton’s rotation moving forward.

A pitcher with a surgeon’s precision, Pill brought his A-game on Wednesday limiting the Sea Dogs to just four hits while striking out seven, walking one, and hitting a batter.

Reliever Kelly Secrest followed Pill and fanned two more Sea Dogs working a scoreless eighth for the B-Mets.

Binghamton scored all the runs they would need in their first at- bat. Derrick Gibson led off with a double and scored when Kyle Johnson reached base on an infield error.

After Niuman Garcia walked, Dominic Smith continued his hot hitting, singling to drive Johnson home. With another two hit night – Smith has added 106 points to his batting average during this home stand lifting this batting average from .174 to .280.

Later in the inning, L.J. Mazzilli laced a double to left-field driving home Garcia and Smith and providing Pill with all the firepower he would need.

Smith led off the home fifth with his second hit of the night and scored when Victor De La Cruz doubled.

Binghamton added their final tally when Mazzilli lined a one-out single to centerfield, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on an infield error. Mazzilli had a three-hit night for Binghamton.

The B-Mets ended their homestead at 9-9 and travel to New Hampshire to start a seven game road trip on Friday night.

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For more of last night’s action and the best Mets minor league coverage, go to MetsMinors.net and add them to your favorites. 

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Who Gets Final Bench Spot: Eric Campbell Or Matt Reynolds http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/who-gets-final-bench-spot-eric-campbell-or-matt-reynolds.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/who-gets-final-bench-spot-eric-campbell-or-matt-reynolds.html/#comments Sun, 20 Mar 2016 13:21:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208050 eric campbell

With the recent news that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera looks to be ready for opening day in Kansas City, the Mets will have to decide on who they’re bringing north with them, and who’s heading back to Vegas to start the year.

That final roster spot seems to be narrowed down to Matt Reynolds and Eric Campbell, both names Mets fans are familiar with over the past few years. Although I believe that infielder T.J. Rivera should be in the mix for this final spot as well, we’ll stick with Reynolds and Campbell, since they’re both already on the 40-Man Roster. While both players come with flaws and inexperience, I believe that one of them has a clearer shot of making this roster, and being of some value in the upcoming 2016 season.

Let’s examine Eric Campbell and some of his statistics the past few seasons. Campbell, 28, was called up in May 2014 when the Mets demoted Josh Satin, and proved to be a useful fill-in at the corner infield spots. Campbell was an efficient pinch-hitter, going 8-28 in such spots, with a .814 OPS. While his splits won’t overly impress, Campbell was consistent with both righties and lefties, garnering almost identical SLG, OBP, and OPS numbers against the two. Campbell also seemed to thrive in medium to high leverage situations of the game. On Baseball Reference, they had Campbell batting in 48 high leverage situations, normally when the game is late and its close, and he contributed a line of .286/.354/.405 with 10 of his 16 RBIs coming in those spots. His OPS rose to .801 in 88 plate appearances in medium leverage situations, and in lower leverage opportunities his OPS fell to .535. He provided some offense at a time when the Mets were struggling, and created an opportunity for himself.

However, 2015 wasn’t kind to Campbell. In 71 games he slashed .197/.312/.295 for an OPS of .607. He registered well below average OPS+ numbers, 72, compared to his rookie campaign of 96, about league average. Campbell also represented a symbol of Mets futility in the middle of the season, when on July 23rd, Collins ran John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell in the number four and five spots in the order. Some critics would say that Collins wrote that order as a sign to ownership that he needed reinforcements on his roster. Needless to say, the Mets were shut out 3-0 at home, and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw had a perfect game going into the seventh inning. Campbell was later optioned back to Triple A Las Vegas in August, and was recalled when rosters expanded in September.

Defensively, first base is a much stronger position for Campbell, as he registered a 1.2 UZR in 2014, compared to a -2.2 UZR at third that same year. The 2015 campaign was identical to his rookie year, as he posted a 0.9 UZR at first base, and -2.0 UZR at third. Campbell played some corner outfield both years, and held his own to a tune of a 2.3 UZR combined. Much of the critique holds true for his minor league fielding stats, as Campbell posted far stronger numbers at first throughout his minor league career.

Campbell would be best served backing up Duda against LHP, however, Duda had somewhat of a renaissance last year, hitting .285/.333/.545 against southpaws, all career highs. This news is extremely encouraging, as it allows our cleanup hitter to remain in the lineup without Terry Collins having to shuffle the deck to play the matchups. And if Duda’s 2015 splits weren’t just a flash in the pan, then Campbell doesn’t offer a ton of versatility to this current team.

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Which brings us to Matt Reynolds. Drafted in the second round in 2012, Reynolds was a third baseman in college, but shifted to short by the Mets who were lacking viable options in their system at the time. Reynolds, 25, has progressed through the Mets minor leagues, posting high averages, BABIP, and WRC+ in the process. Reynolds would struggle with pulling the ball and striking out a high rate in 2013, and sought the aid of hitting instructor and part-time Mets scout Rick Strickland to help his mechanics. Reynolds put together his strongest campaign in 2014, slashing .343/.405/.454 along with 20 stolen bases between Binghamton and Las Vegas.

Reynolds has been viewed as an average defender at short, making the routine plays and going to his right well. He doesn’t offer a ton of range, and scouts have mostly concurred that Reynolds won’t wow with any particular skill set in his game. Errors have also been an issue with Reynolds, however, he did cut them down to 12 last year in 94 games at short, an improvement from the 16 he had in 104 games in 2014, and the 21 he had in 2013.

However, the Mets need to make a decision based on their current needs. With uncertainly surrounding the number of games David Wright will be able to play this year due to spinal stenosis, I’d foresee Collins using Flores in that role, where his bat can produce and he can hold his own at third. Collins knows the importance of getting Flores comfortable at third again, especially with the frailty of Wright’s back.

“We’re trying to get him as comfortable as we can at third base,” Collins said. “Should anything unforeseen happen to David, we’ve just got to get him ready to play there.”

With the prospects of Flores potentially playing a big role at third for long stretches of the year, the Mets would be in dire need of a backup shortstop to spell Cabrera. Which is why my roster choice would go to Reynolds. He can adequately fill in for Cabrera, and also shift to second to spell Walker against tough lefties, considering Walker had a .575 OPS against LHP as a right-handed hitter last year. Reynolds allows Collins the flexibility of utilizing Flores as a jack of all trades type player, but can also place him at one position for a long period in case of injury. This is why Reynolds makes more sense than Campbell, for the middle infield depth that Campbell cannot provide. Not to mention that Flores’ splits against LHP last year was terrific, posting a .955 OPS in 57 games. Compared to Campbell who posted a .683 and .588 OPS in ’14 and ’15 and it makes the decision a bit clearer.

While Reynolds couldn’t become the answer to a trivia question last year, as to who was the first player to make his debut in the World Series, he can play a vital role in providing solid up the middle defense this year, along with his “grinder” approach as Las Vegas manager Wally Backman describes him as. Reynolds deserves a shot for this Mets roster, just as Campbell deserved his when Satin was demoted and Duda was recovering from food poisoning. The flexibility Reynolds provides up the middle is crucial, but it also allows for Collins to utilize Flores in spots where he can succeed for the short and long term, makes Reynolds my run away choice for the backup infield spot.

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Sandy Alderson Talks About His Health and 2016 Expectations http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/sandy-alderson-talks-about-his-health-and-2016-expectations.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/sandy-alderson-talks-about-his-health-and-2016-expectations.html/#comments Sun, 14 Feb 2016 11:10:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206222 sandy alderson

In an exclusive interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, GM Sandy Alderson weighed in on a wide variety of topics including expectations for the team, the offseason, the bullpen, the rotation, the bench, David Wright, what he’s most proud of as the Mets GM, and his own personal battle with cancer. This is something you should read in it’s entirety as it gives you a comprehensive understanding of so many different issues. Here’s a quick rundown on a few of the topics discussed…

Before we get to the team issues, let me first pass along that Sandy continues to undergo chemotherapy, but he’s very optimistic and pleased with the way things have gone. He goes to work every day at Citi Field, and all of us at MMO wish him continued progress in his battle. Get better Sandy…

On the workload for starting pitchers:

“You go that deep into the playoffs, there’s gonna be kind of a surcharge on their innings. So we’re gonna be careful with them. It doesn’t mean that we’re gonna manage their innings necessarily, but I think we gotta be careful about how we use them in spring training, how we use them early in the season, and try to make sure they’re available to us if we get into October again.”

The overhaul of the bench:

“I’m gonna try not to refer to the bench as the bench, because I view the full 13-member position player roster to be somewhat interchangeable. And so, we’re gonna have a lot of guys playing and sharing time, maybe not in a strict platoon, but with a lot of guys moving in and out. One of the problems we had last year with our bench was some of these guys didn’t get to play much, and when they did get to play, they weren’t very good because the sporadic playing time. … We’ve got a lot more depth than we had last season.”

His biggest frustration as GM:

“From my standpoint, I kind of knew what it was gonna take to get us turned around, and hoped it would have taken less time than it did, but there was a certain progression we had to go through. So I never really got that frustrated. Fans were frustrated from time to time, I understood that. It didn’t make me happy that they were, but I certainly didn’t get frustrated at the fans or the media or even the team. I sort of managed my own expectations in that sense.”

What is he most proud of as Mets GM:

“We knew what we wanted to accomplish, but we had an idea of how we wanted to pursue that, and we stuck with it, ownership was supportive, and we focused on process more than outcomes, because you can’t really control outcomes, you can only control what you can control.”

His legacy and how he hopes fans view him:

“I hope they believe that I have their best interests at heart. That what drives me is really … I think what I get as much pleasure out of is knowing Mets fans are happy. They’re enjoying the team, they feel that their loyalty had been rewarded, and that all of their patience for the last four or five years was not for naught … that it translated into something, and there was a payoff at the end.”

Sandy also weighs in on so many more issues and offers some incredible insights into his own personal thoughts. Check out the full interview, great stuff by Serby.

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MMO Exclusive: T.J. Rivera Just Keeps Hitting and Hoping http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-exclusive-t-j-rivera-just-keeps-hitting-and-hoping.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/09/mmo-exclusive-t-j-rivera-just-keeps-hitting-and-hoping.html/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2015 15:00:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=192610 t.j. Rivera

When his baseball playing days are behind him, T.J. Rivera wants to be remembered as a grinder, a guy who didn’t simply go through the motions but played with 100 percent effort every time he stepped on a baseball diamond.

“That’s something I’ve always tried to live up to, going out there and playing hard every pitch,” Rivera stated in his final response during an interview I conducted with him on our WIOX, Tip-Off Sports radio hour.

You won’t get an argument about Rivera’s work ethic from Binghamton Met baseball fans who have watched the popular B-Met play three of the four infield positions during parts of the past two baseball seasons. Going into the final weekend of the regular season, Rivera leads the B-Mets in batting with a sparkling .350 batting average.

Amazingly, Rivera’s lofty BA is actually 8 points lower than his team high mark in the batter’s box in 2014. Over two seasons, in 415 B-Met at-bats, Rivera has 147 hits. That’s a combined two year Double-A batting average of .354.

And, in nearly 200 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas this summer Rivera was slashing at the plate. On July 18th, Rivera went 3-for-5 against Albuquerque raising his batting average to .327. A mini slump, 3-23, in the 8 games before his recall to Binghamton, dropped his Triple-A hitting stats to .306.

Putting it simply, T.J. Rivera can hit. With numbers echoing the batting line outlined above on every rung of the Met’s minor league ladder, it’s not surprising Rivera takes a bit of swagger into the batting box. I asked T.J. about his batting approach.

“It really depends on the situation,” he began. “With a guy on third base, you’re trying to do something different to what you’d do with no one on. You’re also just trying to hit the ball hard.”

Rivera went on to say that in every at bat he’s trying to compete with the pitcher. “Early in the count, I’m just trying to find a good fastball in the middle of the zone, something I can drive and something I can really put a good swing on and hopefully hit the ball in a gap somewhere.”

“With a strike or two strikes my approach will change a little bit. My swing doesn’t change but my approach does. With two strikes, I’m going to let the ball get a little deeper. The pitcher’s got a different approach, too, he’s trying to extend the zone a little. So, I have to change my approach and work a little harder to compete.”

“I don’t want to just put the ball in play with two strikes, I want to put it in play hard and make something happen. Obviously, everything changes with guys on base.”

Since T.J, has played at every level in the Mets minor league system, I asked him if there is a specific batting approach or philosophy emphasized in the Met farm system all the way up the minor league chain.

“I wouldn’t say anything too crazy that other teams are not doing. They do like us working the count. They like us to swing at pitches in the zone, and I think any club would probably think the same thing, because you don’t want to help the pitcher out.”

“They’re trying to teach us to find the pitch we like to hit and where in the zone we like to hit the ball best. Then try to hit that pitch and that pitch only until you get two strikes. You don’t want to swing at the pitch the pitcher wants you to. That ends up in a weak ground ball that you’re not looking to do.”

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Hitting the way he has year after year, apparently, T.J. Rivera is an attentive student. I asked him too about the difference in the pitching he has experienced as he climbed the Met minor league ladder.

“As you move up to Double-A and Triple-A you’re not going to get as many hitter’s counts where you can get the pitch you’re looking for, So, selective hitting plays a bigger role, because now if I don’t get the pitch I’m looking for and I swing at a pitch too low, I’m not going to do what I want at the plate.”

As Rivera sees it, stronger bullpens at the upper minor league levels also add to the batting challenge. “The bullpens get a lot better, too. It’s like every team has a lot of hard throwers and good arms in the bullpen. Other than that, pitchers at the upper level know how to pitch, so as you get older, you have to get smarter.”

Rivera said that the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez is one of the toughest pitchers he has faced so far in the minors. “You kind of knew he was going to be special.” Ironically, although he has faced some outstanding minor league prospects, it’s many times those crafty pitchers that change speeds in different ways that give him the most trouble.

As far as strong pitchers go, Rivera likes the guys in the Mets system most. “The guys on my teams, they’re the ones who impress me more than anybody, a guy like Steven Matz. I had to face him in spring training and that’s not fun. Noah Syndergaard, I had to face him, too.”

“Guys like that are overpowering. They throw the kind of stuff you’re expecting to see in the ninth inning from a closer, but they’re throwing it for 6 or 7 innings.”

T.J talked about the subtle differences in playing the various infield positions. At shortstop he said he has to remember to move his feet, to get to the ball with his feet because his throw from short is the longest you will make in the infield. Manning third base is about reflexes and handling the hot stuff and knowing the speedsters most likely to place a bunt perfectly down the line. He finds second base a bit easier because of the added time, but coming across the bag and throwing across your body with a sliding runner coming at you makes the turn on a double play an added challenge.

I mentioned that the middle infield slots seems to be the strongest position spots in the Met farm system and asked T.J. to talk briefly about some of his teammates who have played there. Here’s what he said.

Matt Reynolds – Consistent defensive play. He has a nice swing, but he really impresses me defensively at short.

Dilson Herrera – He’s an animal. That kid is a little ball of fire. He’s kind of like Darrell Cecilaini in that he ignites a team because he plays so hard. Sometimes you see a top prospect who kind of goes through the motions. He’s not like that. You’d never think he’s a top prospect because of the way he plays. You’ve got to love the way he goes about his business.

Wilfredo Tovar – Great hands. Smooth defensively. He’ll do some things with his glove that kind of wow you on the field and you’ll think – did that just happen? Great hands.

Daniel Muno – Nothing phases him. He’s the type of guy you can put in a tough situation because nothing phases him.

Gavin Cecchini – He’s impressed me with his stick, and he goes about his business the right way. He plays the game pretty well, pretty hard, and he’s impressed me this year a lot.

L.J. Mazzilli – He’s my roomie, a grinder on the baseball diamond. He knows how to play the game. He hits the ball consistently, and he’s got a really good swing. He hits the ball hard all over the place. He knows how to hit the ball hard to right-center field. That’s impressive.

Met fans always mention that Rivera went undrafted. T.J. told me the Mets called about a week after the draft to discuss his signing on. His humble introduction to professional baseball is a motivator. “There’s a lot that motivates me. For guys that went undrafted, it would be nice to show, we can play the game, too, and to never give up hope.”

Chatting with T.J. on the air and briefly following him this week at NYSEG Stadium, I can only hope he gets a shot and gets a chance at the big leagues. He’s earned it.

“If this kid ever gets a look in the majors, I know he’s going to hit,” said B-Mets GM Jim Weed, who has watched a lot of prospects over the years at Binghamton and the rest of the Eastern League. My sentiments exactly.

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David Wright Goes 3-for-4 For St. Lucie http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/david-wright-goes-3-for-4-for-st-lucie.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/david-wright-goes-3-for-4-for-st-lucie.html/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 01:49:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=190880 image-3-1

Mets third baseman David Wright went 3-for-4 with a run scored tonight for St. Lucie as he continues his final two tuneup games before he’s activated on Monday in Philadelphia.

Wright raised his average to .375 in seven games during his rehab assignment.

Mets manager Terry Collins said that Wright will not be an everyday player immediately on his return.

“I talked to Dave today about some stuff and he is certainly aware, I don’t know how many days a week it will be, but he certainly won’t be that every day guy until we know his back is 100 percent,” Collins said.

“That may not be until next spring. We’ll have to keep an eye on it.”

Once Wright returns, Collins will face some challenges ahead on how he uses his infielders. The Mets have mixed and matched with their infield for much of this season. Wilmer Flores and Reuben Tejada have shared time at shortstop, five different players got 10 or more starts at second base and four players received more than 10 starts at third.

Collins plans to continually use both Tejada and Flores at short and move Daniel Murphy back to second base permanently to make room for Wright at third. Murphy made 39 starts at third base this year.

“Number one, these guys get in routines and when you come to the ballpark it’s always nice to know you’re going to be in the lineup. Right now that’s not the case,” said Collins.

“I’m going to try and do as good a job as I can to give guys warnings the night before so that they have an idea of whether they are going to be in or not in.”

“The only thing I try to be careful of is when you have a guy that’s playing pretty good and all of a sudden tomorrow you’re not going to play him. You may be hurting yourself by trying to manipulate all these different pieces. Once in a while you need to leave the same lineup out there.”

(Updated 8/21)

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Juan Uribe’s Second Homer As A Met Proves Crucial http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/juan-uribes-second-homer-as-a-met-proves-crucial.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/juan-uribes-second-homer-as-a-met-proves-crucial.html/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 14:27:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=189650 juan uribe

After crushing a fifth inning, three-run homer to left field off Miami’s starter David Phelps, Juan Uribe turned last night’s game against the Marlins into a laugher.

However, those three runs Uribe produced proved to be critical in holding off a late ninth inning charge by the Marlins as the Mets prevailed by a score of 8-6.

Uribe has impressed in the field and especially at the plate since joining the team just over a week ago. He has hit two homers and driven in five with the Mets in 27 at-bats.

The veteran third baseman also made few spectacular plays in the field since being acquired, including Wednesday when he made a nifty bare-handed grab, firing and nailing the runner at first.

His time at third base will all but vanish once David Wright is activated hopefully at the end of this month, but what an improvement for now over Eric Campbell and Daniel Muno, and his instincts defensively are also better than Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada.

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An MMO Original: Ultimately, Wither Wilmer? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-ultimately-wither-wilmer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/an-mmo-original-ultimately-wither-wilmer.html/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:12:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=189473 wilmer flores

By virtue of his tearful response to the rumored report of his services being dispatched to Milwaukee as part of the return in the scuttled Carlos Gomez deal, Wilmer Flores has become a fan and media darling. Every at-bat since that fateful night has been greeted with an ovation and his subsequent heroic performance in sealing a win against the Nationals in walk-off fashion have seemingly sealed his legend for good.

But what of the bigger picture? Failing a revival of the shortstop “experiment,’ something that seems increasingly unlikely the longer the improved level of infield play with Ruben Tejada manning the position remains apparent, Flores now appears relegated to the role of part-timer.

With Terry Collins now granted an unprecedented level of flexibility by virtue of the acquisition of Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, the daily second base assignment has become a “mix-and-match” proposition rotating between Flores, Johnson, and Daniel Murphy depending on the matchups deemed optimal versus the opposing starter on any given day. Other than occasionally returning to short to spell Tejada, Wilmer’s role on the team appears largely reduced as a side effect of the newly supplemented roster.

While it is likely that certain elements of the current arrangement will change at the end of this season when Johnson and Uribe become free agents, the fact remains that management clearly regards Dilson Herrera as the heir apparent at second. This was made evident as details of the collapsed Gomez deal surfaced in the days following the trade deadline.

According to certain reports in the twittersphere, the Mets had originally sought to package Juan Lagares along with Zack Wheeler in the deal, a proposal rejected by the Brewers due to concerns with Lagares’ elbow. Milwaukee then asked for Herrera instead, a demand that was quickly dismissed by Alderson & Co., who offered Flores instead. This became the agreed-upon return for Gomez until medical concerns were allowed to rule the day.

Now, with Flores seemingly anointed the symbol of the rising tide of Met fever, and with no shortage of second base candidates as noted before, there is no pressing reason to bring Herrera up to the varsity before rosters expand in September. In fact, were Flores to be supplanted at this point, the front office would be risking the wrath of fans, the press, and romantics everywhere. BUT…

When the season is over and whatever happens the rest of this year begins to fade into memory, a decision will need to be made.

In an earlier piece I wrote anticipating an eventual logjam for the Mets at second base even before the Johnson/Uribe trade was made, I suggested that team management would likely look to Flores as third base insurance against the now nebulous state of David Wright‘s back. This likely remains the case, but with Wright now targeted for rehab games in the near future, it is probable that a clearer picture will emerge before too long.

If the team heads into the off-season reasonably confident that Wright can manage his condition well enough to stay on the field a majority of the time, they may opt to either stick with Eric Campbell or Zach Lutz as a backup plan for 2016 or look to re-sign Uribe now that he’s in the fold. Either way, it should be expected that Herrera will have the second base job to lose going into next season as he clearly has nothing left to prove at Triple-A.

Consequently, Flores either becomes the shortstop again or the odd man out. Yes, there are any number of variables that could influence this situation (e.g. Wright’s back fails to hold up), but it pays to consider what is most likely.

In this case, with Collins affirming that Tejada is the everyday shortstop, Flores appears to have become excess baggage. A shame, in my opinion, as his enthusiasm, good humor, and current role as poster child for the new breed of Amazin’s makes me want to root for him that much harder.

Still, young, controllable players who can play multiple positions and demonstrate a degree of power potential should be regarded as valuable commodities. Now that the Met farm system has been somewhat tapped of its higher rated pitching talent with the trades of Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, etc., perhaps Sandy will look to restock a bit in the offseason with Wilmer as bait. I only hope that if this is the case that it will be handled in a kinder, gentler manner.

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Featured Post: Team Responds After Collins Puts Them All On Notice http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/featured-post-team-responds-after-collins-puts-them-all-on-notice.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/featured-post-team-responds-after-collins-puts-them-all-on-notice.html/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 03:55:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=188224 New York Mets v Arizona Diamondbacks

Prior to Saturday’s 15-2 Mets blowout victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mets manager Terry Collins put all Mets position players “on notice” especially the underperforming hitters.

Collins message was fairly simple. Play well and you’ll keep playing. Play badly and you will be benched.

“Whoever’s swinging the bat’s going to play,” said Collins. “It’s about scoring runs right now. The message has been sent: ’Listen, we’ve got to start scoring.”

“They’ve been put on notice,” added Collins. “It’s time to pick it up.”

“We have not scored. We have not hit. We went out and got two guys who we think have added some offense to us. I’m not going to leave them sitting on the bench. If they’re going to bring more offense than what we’ve got, they’re going to get in there somewhere.”

Call it a coincidence, call it the fact they faced two pitchers who were demoted to the minors after the game, call it the addition of three new players to the offense, whatever it was, it looked like the team responded.

They got off to a great start on Saturday, scoring four runs on five hits in the first inning on their way to a 15 run and 21 hit barrage.

After a horrific two-month slump for Lucas Duda, he responded with a two-homer game, his 13th and 14th homeruns of the season.

Newly acquired Kelly Johnson was  alsoone of the many offensive heroes in the game with two hits and a home run. Johnson is a hitter who can play the infield (1st, 2nd and 3rd base) or both corner outfield positions.

“Hopefully this creates some depth, creates some different opportunities and different matchups,” said Johnson. “Obviously (Uribe and I) have both been in the league a little while, both swinging the bats pretty good this year, so that’s going to help.”

Johnson is on a tear and is now batting .341 (15-44) since July 4 in his time with Atlanta (13 games) and New York (one game).

Juan Uribe, who was also acquired in the trade with Johnson, picked up a single after he came into the game late, and also made a spectacular play at third base, showing off a strong arm narrowly beating a runner to first.

Uribe is also another player who can  play multiple infield positions, but for now he will be asked to man third base until David Wright can return.

“I want to help the team and help us make it to the playoffs<” said Uribe. “I’m just here to do my job. If I do good, I’m going to play. If I’m not doing good, maybe I won’t play.”

Kirk Nieuwenhuis started in center field over Juan Lagares and drove in four runs to match a season-high and finished the game with a career high-tying four hits. He’s been red hot and is now hitting .375 (12-32) since being recalled two weeks ago.

Kirk also recorded his first outfield assist of the season when he nailed Joc Pederson trying to stretch a single into a double in the third inning.

So all in all it was a tremendous game for the Mets, with all hands on deck offensively including Matt Harvey, who not only pitched a gem but also contributed two hits as well.

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Potential Second Base Logjam Looms http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/potential-second-base-logjam-looms.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/07/potential-second-base-logjam-looms.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 20:30:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=187655 wilmer flores

If we are to assume that the Wilmer Flores shortstop era has come to a close, then and a potential logjam at second base appears to be in the cards for the 2016 season. Based on Flores’ recent statement to the effect that his comfort level is higher on the right side of the keystone along with the clear evidence of improved infield play since the installation of Ruben Tejada at his more customary position, we are probably safe in projecting future infield assignments to follow the current model.

But if David Wright ever emerges from his injury limbo, be it later this season (a possibility that appears increasingly unlikely with every passing day) or in 2016, a jostling for position will likely ensue as a surplus of candidates to man second base will likely force the hand of management to make some sort of roster adjustment.

As presently constructed, the Met infield finally reflects an approach that allows the players involved to man the positions for which they are probably best suited. Daniel Murphy, veteran of multiple shifts around the infield (as well as an outfield experiment that is best forgotten), has always figured best as a third baseman, not coincidentally his primary position during his minor league career. Flores, following an early attempt to establish him at short, split most of his time in AA and AAA between third and second as the reality of his tall frame and less than lightning-quick footwork suggested that his optimal defensive assignment lay in one of those areas. Tejada, of course, is the best shortstop on the club, as least for the time being.

Add Wright to the picture and not only will Flores and Murphy likely be shifted yet again, but the addition of Dilson Herrera to the equation will surely complicate matters further. Despite looking somewhat overmatched during his previous tenure on the varsity roster earlier this season, he has continued to rake at Vegas which, considering his age (a still precocious 21 in the PCL), suggests that only a period of adjustment may be needed for his abilities to translate more fully to the major league level. For now, the team will likely be content to leave him at AAA until the roster expands in September, barring a trade or injury.

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But what of the longer term? Obviously the intent is to let Murphy walk at the end of this season rather than re-sign him, but if that is the case, one wonders if no market truly exists for him. While never much of a factor in the power department, he certainly has been serviceable at third, a position that is not generally easy to fill, and his ability to hit in the upper part of the lineup should normally have piqued someone’s interest.

Regardless, if he is subtracted from the big picture but Wright is added back in, the question still boils down to Flores vs. Herrera. In the event that Wright cannot be counted on even for next season (a genuine possibility I’m sad to say), Flores looks to be the natural replacement at the hot corner. If he does return, well, other than allowing Herrera to languish at AAA as insurance (currently Zach Lutz‘s job now that Alex Castellanos has fled for the greener pastures of Japan), one would expect one of two things to happen:

1. If a deal for a new shortstop is not consummated this season, we should expect another go-round of Flores at that slot, regardless of all declarations that the “experiment” is over. On a club as offensively challenged as this one, the good of the team will be emphasized over positional preference. Flores, being the good soldier that he is, will undoubtedly say the right things and give it his best shot. Hopefully the result will not be his lack of range or quickness being a determining factor in a crucial play in a crucial game that leaves heads shaking during the off season.

2. If an actual upgrade of some sort is brought in to replace Tejada, let’s say Jean Segura for the sake of argument, and the team seems content to keep him installed at least until Ahmed Rosario shows whether or not he is deserving of the hype he is currently receiving, a healthy, or at least functional Wright will push the front office to make a choice. At 24 in August, Flores is still years away from his prime and has demonstrated at least moderate power, an increasingly sought-after commodity in the post-PED baseball universe. Herrera, despite his somewhat slight stature, has also demonstrated a penchant for producing extra base hits throughout his minor league career and because of his youth, carries the promise of outsize ability as he matures. Neither presently projects as a Gold Glover, but both seem at least capable in the field with the ability to improve with time.

What will ultimately determine the outcome in the short run will be Wright’s status, and based on what we’ve learned about the nature of spinal stenosis, this is not something that is likely to be something resembling a certainty going forward.

Accordingly, I expect juggling on the part of management to continue as long as Flores figures to be the primary insurance policy at third. If by some chance Sandy Alderson pulls off a shocker and deals a package to Milwaukee in return for Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, the only real change will be a return of Tejada to the bench. If this imaginary trade is expanded to include the soon-to-be retired Aramis Ramirez, then we will likely see some platooning at second as the logjam returns.

All pretty much speculation for now, I know, but hopefully the team will have more questions to be resolved in the future brought about by a plethora of possibilities in the infield. There are worse things to have to deal with.

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Collins Frustrated, Will His Pleas For Help Fall On Deaf Ears? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/collins-frustrated-will-his-pleas-for-help-fall-on-deaf-ears.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/collins-frustrated-will-his-pleas-for-help-fall-on-deaf-ears.html/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=185045 terry collins

What a frustrating weekend it’s been. Turner Field has been a house of horrors for our Mets, and this particular sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves was deflating to say the least. I’ll be happy when they tear that damned stadium down in 2017 and make it a parking lot.

Listening to Terry Collins‘ post-game media session on Sunday night, sounded a lot like a man who was drowning and desperately crying for help. Honestly, I felt bad for the guy and some of what he had to say resonated with me.

Most of you know that I’m not a big fan of Terry Collins, but his subliminal pleas for help these last few days have certainly painted him as a very sympathetic figure.

“We’ve had everybody from Triple-A here,” Collins said. “One guy was hitting .500 with Las Vegas, he’s here. Another guy was hitting .375, he’s here. Another guy hitting .350, he’s here. I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”

Collins is alluding to that long conga line from Triple-A Las Vegas to the big-league team that hasn’t provided any relief or thump to the lineup and lackluster results on defense.

“We’ve done everything we can. We’ve brought all those guys up that are swinging the bats good. This is not the Pacific Coast League. You can make all the changes you want.”

He’s right.

Fans clamored for the Mets to bring up Eric Campbell who was batting .440 with a 1.323 OPS in Vegas. But Campbell is currently batting .174 with a .523 OPS for the Mets and has 8 errors in just 32 starts at third base.

I was one of thousands on the bandwagon for 22-year old second baseman Dilson Herrera who had a .367/.398/.505 slash line in Triple-A. But he too has disappointed, batting .202/.307/.316 for the Mets and looking completely overmatched at the plate.

Kevin Plawecki has shown flashes, but how long can the Mets carry his .233 average and .276 on-base in the lineup?

Those three were intended to replace David Wright (.333/.397/.424) Daniel Murphy (.285/.335/.414) and Travis d’Arnaud (.296/.338/.535).

Of course all teams have to deal with injuries, look at the Washington Nationals who have been without Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman nearly the entire year. The only difference is they had productive players to back them up while we didn’t.

That’s on Sandy Alderson, not Collins.

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It’s also on two high-priced sluggers, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, who have failed to step up when the team needed them to.

I guess you could say that’s on Sandy Alderson too.

Some readers felt I was giving Alderson a pass in my last article, but honestly I wasn’t. I was merely trying to convey that I’m glad Alderson isn’t listening to the lunatic fringe demanding he trades one of our young arms for some overpaid and overrated bat. That’s all.

Believe me, I have plenty of issues with Sandy. And the makeup of this offense is certainly one of them.

One person who seems to be flying under the radar is our rock star hitting coach Kevin Long. What part, if any, does he play into this underwhelming offensive nosedive?

You can’t blame him for the injuries, but what about Granderson, Cuddyer, Mayberry, Lagares and Duda who have all regressed on his watch?

The guys I really feel bad for are Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey.

Did you see how distraught deGrom was in that dugout slamming his glove to the ground in frustration?

Did you see the look on Harvey’s face on Sunday when Cuddyer ground into the game-ending double play in the ninth?

Those two deserve better.

The trouble is that we have nobody else left in Triple-A to call-up. They’re all already here.

Terry Collins says he’s out of answers. And don’t look at me, I don’t have any answers either.

What’s that you say, Mr. Alderson? Mets Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

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Erik Goeddel Placed On DL; Daniel Muno Recalled http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/erik-goeddel-placed-on-dl-daniel-muno-recalled.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/erik-goeddel-placed-on-dl-daniel-muno-recalled.html/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:52:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=184329 erik goeddelThe Mets have placed right-handed relief pitcher Erik Goeddel on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. In his place, Daniel Muno has been recalled again from Triple-A.

Goeddel, 26, has a 1.96 ERA over 23 innings with the Mets. In that span, he has struck out 23 batters and walked just seven.

Muno, 26, has a .100/.182/.100 slash line in 22 plate appearances with the Mets this season. He was sent down earlier this week, but with the Mets bench so short and with Kevin Plawecki out but not on the DL, Muno will provide Terry Collins a little more flexibility with his infield late in games.

 

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Tejada Continues To Produce, Has Three-Hit Night http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/tejada-continues-to-produce-has-three-hit-night.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/06/tejada-continues-to-produce-has-three-hit-night.html/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:06:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=183036 USATSI_8591154_154511658_lowres

Ruben Tejada continued to swing a hot bat on Monday night, going 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored.

He is now 8-for-17 with four RBI over his last four games since starting at third base.

After the game manager Terry Collins told reporters that he doesn’t want Tejada to view this as a last chance to prove he’s an everyday player. (New York Post)

“I don’t think it’s his last shot — he’s 25 years old,” Collins said. “I do believe it’s important he reestablish himself as a quality major league player, and I think he’s doing that. He’s had a couple of rough years and he needs to establish himself as that guy people can rely on.”

June 1

Nobody knows how long David Wright is going to remain out with his spinal stenosis, but as of right now utility infielder Ruben Tejada has seized the moment prompting Terry Collins to proclaim him the Mets third baseman.

Tejada was the difference in Sunday’s 4-3 win against the Marlins when he launched an RBI double late in the game to break the 3-3 deadlock. It capped of a productive weekend for Tejada who went 5-for-12 with four runs batted in.

According to Newsday, before the series started, Collins told Tejada: “Listen, at no other time the past couple of years did we need you more than we do right now. We’re struggling here. We don’t know when we’re getting David back. You know how to play at this level. You’ve shown it. We need you.”

Asked if Tejada is now the team’s third baseman, Collins responded, “Right now he is. He’s earned it. He can do a lot of things when he’s playing well. Right now, he’s playing well.”

Which one of you saw this coming? :-)

May 31

After another Mets loss to the division rival Miami Marlins on Saturday (9-5), one of the few bright spots in that game was Ruben Tejada. He started at third base and went 2-for-4 including a bases clearing double that drove in three runs to tie the game at 5-5 in the 4th inning.

“With men in scoring position, I go aggressive every time,” Tejada said. “Sometimes you only have one pitch to hit.”

Mets third basemen had gone 0-for-33 until Tejada started at the hot corner on Friday. Tejada has at least one hit in 4 of the last 5 games he’s played and raised his average from .215 to .245.

Tejada has mainly been a reserve this season for the Mets, but with David Wright probably out for awhile and the fact that Tejada can play multiple infield positions and is swinging a hot bat, expect him to get more starts for the Mets as long as he keeps hitting.

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