Mets Merized Online » Justin Verlander http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:04:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Clayton Kershaw Agrees To Record $215M Deal With Dodgers http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/clayton-kershaw-agrees-to-215m-deal-with-dodgers.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/clayton-kershaw-agrees-to-215m-deal-with-dodgers.html/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 15:42:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139723 kershaw

The Los Angeles Times reports that Clayton Kershaw has agreed to a seven-year, $215-million contract extension with the Dodgers.

The deal, which isn’t expected to be officially announced until Friday, will make Kershaw the highest paid pitcher in baseball history. The previous record contract for a pitcher was the seven-year, $180-million deal signed last winter by Justin Verlander of the Detroit TigersThe deal would give Kershaw an average annual salary of $30.7 million.

Kershaw’s new contract also  includes an out-clause that would allow the left-hander to void the remainder of the contract after five seasons.

In a meeting with L.A. Times on Wednesday, Dodgers President Stan Kasten said he was optimistic the team could sign Kershaw to an extension by Friday. That is the deadline for teams to exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players. He would have been a free agent after next season.

Kershaw, 26, went 16-9 with a career high 1.83 ERA and a 0.915 WHIP last season, The two-time Cy Young Award winner also led the NL in strikeouts for the second time in three years. He’s led the National League in ERA in each of the last three seasons.

mmo

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Disappointing To See Mets Bail Out On Phil Hughes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/disappointing-to-see-mets-bail-out-on-phil-hughes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/disappointing-to-see-mets-bail-out-on-phil-hughes.html/#comments Sat, 30 Nov 2013 17:26:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134142 philhughesmeltdownSince the New York Mets need pitching, it was discouraging to read reports they are not players for Phil Hughes. Two different sources confirmed they are out on Hughes. Too bad.

Of all the players in the free-agent market I thought the Mets had a chance to sign, the 27-year-old Hughes was high on my list. I felt he had the best chance to produce at a minimum cost to the Mets. Yes, he was 4-14 last season, but he is two years removed from winning 16 games.

Hughes wants two years, but the Mets will only guarantee one year. I’d give him two years in a second, maybe even two plus an option.

Hughes, who made $7.15 million last year, would have been worth the gamble.

Everybody has a bad year, and Hughes is no exception. When things are off, as they were last year – either mechanically or mentally – balls tend to fly when you get your pitches up in a bandbox.

Citi Field, with its spacious dimensions, would have been perfect for him. The same reason the Mets are willing to trade Ike Davis is the same reason they should take a run at Hughes – for the change of scenery.

Hell, last season when Mark Teixeira went down, I wrote that the Mets should trade Davis for Hughes. It made sense then and it makes sense now.

What doesn’t make sense is not giving Hughes at least two years at the same time you give $7 million to Chris Young. What is going on here?

Frank Francisco got two years, but not Hughes?

When Citi Field was built, it was done with the idea of building around pitching and defense. The Mets currently say they want to build around their young pitching, but pass on a young arm that had success in New York and pitched in a World Series?

What is Sandy Alderson thinking about?

Hughes has never had an arm injury, which makes him even more attractive. With Matt Harvey not available until 2015 – and even then we don’t know what he’ll be – and the jury not out yet on Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero, the gamble on Hughes turning it around would have been a good one.

The chance to sign a young pitcher, who is healthy, relatively inexpensive and who has tasted success in New York doesn’t come around every day and the Mets blew it.

What Alderson seems to be looking for is Justin Verlander to decide he wants to pitch pro-bono in New York.

The decision to sign Young was ridiculous and not well thought out, but the bottom line his Alderson thought he was worth the risk.

Hughes would have been a much better choice. The clock is ticking for Alderson and Young and Hughes have been bad decisions.

Really bad.

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Everybody Loves Sandy… Especially the Rest of the National League http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/everybody-loves-sandy-especially-the-rest-of-the-national-league.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/everybody-loves-sandy-especially-the-rest-of-the-national-league.html/#comments Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129898 tom glavine

It was the most important game of the year. If the Mets wanted to make the post-season they needed to win. There was no tomorrow. I prepared myself: A Coke, a handful of pretzels, a fresh pack of cigarettes, my Mets cap, my lucky Mets shirt. And before I even got comfortable, it was over.

A lead-off walk, a single, another single, a double, yet another single, another walk, still another base hit, a hit batsmen just for the hell of it and one more double. Tom Glavine lasted just 1/3 of an inning, the shortest outing of his career. The Marlins sent 12 men to the plate, scored 7 times and sealed the Mets fate on the final day of the season.

Man that was fun! No, the game surely wasn’t. It was heartbreaking to watch my team unravel before my eyes. The entire year shot to hell in 20 agonizing minutes. But yet it was enjoyable. 2007 was like a good movie that had a bad ending—just like 2006. The fact that in game No. 162 the Mets had the post-season within reach was exciting.

When we hear “Mets” and “1980’s” in the same sentence, we can’t help but smile. We immediately conjure up images of Doc and Darryl, Keith and Gary, Darling and Knight. Although things never materialized the way we envisioned, it was a fun and exciting time to be a Mets fan. From 1984 through 1990, our Amazins’ averaged 95 wins, never finishing below 2nd. However, in those seven years, we managed just one Championship and one division title. Not exactly a dynasty.

We older fans have fond memories of the Seaver/Koosman/Matlack days. From 1969 through 1976, our club averaged a respectable 84 wins. Yet during this eight year span, we won just two pennants and one World Series. Good, but not great.

So, why do we regard the eighties and early seventies so highly when we didn’t really dominate? The reason is because at least we were relevant. Each year the Mets had a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. Each year we played meaningful games through September.

sad mets bench

This is a big change from the current sad state of our club. Since Alderson has become GM, not only have the Mets not won, but we haven’t even been competitive. We have yet to play an important game after the All-Star Break. Whereas most teams play 162 games, the Mets’ season is, for all intents and purposes, wrapped up after 90. The last 2 ½ months are spent going through the motions of finishing out the schedule.

Mets fans are an interesting bunch. We’re not Yankee fans who deem anything less than a Championship as failure. We’re not Braves fans or Cardinals fans who battle and then always find a way to play into October. Regrettably, we’re turning into Cubs fans where sub-500 finishes and tolerating less than mediocrity is now the acceptable norm.

Alderson is missing one simple fact and it shows how out of touch he is with the fan base. We’re not looking for a dynasty. We’re not looking for a string of championships. We’d be happy with simply being relevant, respectable. Sure, a World Series would be nice, but we’d be content even contending, with fighting for the pennant. Ask yourself, would you rather go through the heartache of a late season collapse or hardly look at the standings after August 1?

Sadly, baseball IS a business. However, it also smacks of politics. Alderson supporters blame “the other guy.” Look at what Alderson inherited they claim. He can only do so much. It’s not his fault. Are we talking about George W. Bush or Omar Minaya? To a man who is unemployed, a single mom who now has to work two part-time jobs to support herself and her children or a family struggling to make ends meet on reduced income, they don’t care whose fault it is; they just want things better. The same can be said for Mets fans. I don’t care whose fault it is. I just want to win. Or at least be relevant.

Those in the Alderson camp are quick to argue that once big contracts come off the books, he’ll have more money to spend. However, many of these are the same fans who condemned Minaya for his big contracts. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

frank cashen davey johnson

Some compare what Alderson inherited to what Frank Cashen saw when he came in in 1980. However, Cashen had a harder road ahead of him. Back in the eighties and seventies, making the post-season was harder than it is now. Only 2 out of 12 teams got in — 1 out of 6. You had to earn it. Now, 5 of 15 teams make the playoffs. 1 of every 3, not 1 of every 6. Yet, in spite of the easier path, the Mets have yet to even come close under the Alderson regime.

If the same format that is in place today existed back in the 1980’s, the Cashen-led Mets would have made the post-season every year from 1984 through 1990. Seven straight years of seeing our Mets in October.

Can anyone picture this happening as long as Alderson is in charge?

Another example of how losing has become accepted is Terry Collins. Whatever you think of Collins, the simple fact remains he has not won. Just yesterday, Alderson stated of his manager, “He’s done an excellent job.” (Bartender, I’ll have what he’s drinking.)

Through September 22, Collins has a .463 winning percentage since becoming skipper, only slightly better than Dallas Green and the one and only Jeff Torborg, lower than even the gangsta, Jerry Manuel. Yet, Alderson will most likely be rewarding Collins’ losing ways by bringing him back for more. (Note: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.) And as Collins and his losing ways will return, Wally Backman–a proven winner both as manager and player—will not even be given a passing thought.

Many of us continue to buy what Alderson is selling….

the-myth-of-the-plan

Yes, The Plan… But yet, the losses pile up as we accept failure.

Five years ago today, Johan Santana won his 15th game, allowing two runs while striking out 10 in a 6-2 win over the Cubs. The Mets pulled to within a game and half of the first place Phillies with five games left. Now, under Alderson, fans are ecstatic that we moved into a tie with the Phillies for third place. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The Matt Harvey situation further proves how Alderson has lulled fans into a culture of accepting failure. Harvey is still a question mark for 2014 and yet many are already saying that without our ace next year, we’ll have to bide our time until 2015. HUH??? WHAT??? The 2013 season isn’t even finished yet and already we’re throwing in the towel on 2014???

But that’s what happens when you have a GM who keeps talking about the future, the future, the future…

In 1988, Gary Carter hit just 11 home runs, Keith Hernandez missed two months of the season with injuries, and Bobby Ojeda had a losing record. In spite of this, the Mets still captured the division with 100 victories. Yet, nowadays we lose one pitcher and immediately lose hope.

By comparison, look at the Bronx. The Yankees played the bulk of this year without Derek Jeter and A-Rod, two of their most potent bats and future Hall of Famers (well, at least Jeter.) They also have a 43-year old closer. Yet, in spite of this, the Yankees find themselves in contention for the wildcard. Meanwhile, in Flushing the AlderMets are doing what they do best: Reduced to playing spoiler—again.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Harvey is healthy in 2014. Let’s assume he shows no lingering effects and is 100%. Let’s say he picks up where he left off. He dominates the NL again in 2014…and 2015….and 2016. What if he REALLY is another Tom Seaver? Wouldn’t that be great?

However, if he is, then you’re looking at Harvey wanting a salary commensurate with Verlander or Kershaw. Perhaps, even more since he has a taste for the finer things in life. Can anyone picture the frugal Alderson and thrifty Wilpons handing over $23 million a year for 5-6 years? R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young award and he was allowed to walk over $8 million. Jose Reyes, one of the most beloved Mets in the last 20 years, became the first Met to win a batting title and he was discarded like an old rosin bag. Why will things be any different with Harvey?

In a few days, ten different teams will find themselves in the post-season while the Mets clear out their lockers and head home for another winter. Meanwhile, fans from Los Angeles to Boston, and from Oakland to Atlanta, will be cheering for their clubs to bring home a championship. And what will we be doing? We’ll be looking forward to 2014…unless Harvey isn’t healthy which means we’ll be looking forward to 2015…unless Wheeler gets hurt and then we’ll be hopeful about 2016…unless David Wright gets hurt. And so on and so on.

While most baseball fans cling to the age-old hope of “Wait Till Next Year.” Thanks to Alderson, we can cling to the hope of waiting for…the future. It will get here…eventually.

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Maxwell Crushes An Aardsma Fastball As Royals Beat The Mets 4-3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/maxwell-crushes-an-aardsma-fastball-as-royals-beat-the-mets-4-3.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/maxwell-crushes-an-aardsma-fastball-as-royals-beat-the-mets-4-3.html/#comments Sat, 03 Aug 2013 21:40:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=126417 aardsma

For the second time in two games since being named the closer while Bobby Parnell heals up, David Aardsma failed to get the job done as the Royals beat the Mets 4-3 at Citi Field this afternoon.

Jeremy Hefner started the game and showed some improvement after back-to-back poor starts and delivered a quality start in a 110-pitch effort. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits, walked none and struck out six in 6.0 innings pitched.

maxwell

The Mets bullpen was actually brilliant today until Aardsma came in to pitch in the top of the 12th inning and was nailed for a home run by pinch-hitter Justin Maxwell to break the 3-3 tie. Maxwell crushed it and the ball left the park in a hurry.

Gonzalez Germen, Pedro Feliciano and Scott Rice each threw perfect innings while Scott Atchison was most impressive of all as he retired six batters in a row.

Going into this game, the Mets bullpen has allowed one earned run over its last 15.0 innings (0.60 ERA) over its last five games with nine strikeouts.  Since July 1, the pen has a 2.15 ERA (24 earned runs/100.2 innings).

Offensively, the lineup looked barren without David Wright in the customary three-spot, making Bruce Chen look like Justin Verlander on the mound. And I’m sorry SNY, but I’m not tipping my cap to Chen no matter how many times you tell me to.

Josh Satin had two hits while batting third and drove in two of the Mets’ three runs with a big game-tying single in the eighth. Daniel Murphy batted fifth and also had two hits including a solo homer to give the Mets the early 1-0 lead. Murph also stole his 13th base of the season. Mike Baxter got his first at-bat since his return from Triple-A and flied out in a pinch-hit appearance.

young

The Mets had some nice defensive plays in the game including a spectacular diving catch by Eric Young Jr.

The Mets will wrap-up the series tomorrow with Zack Wheeler (4-1, 3.55 ERA) opposing right-hander Ervin Santana (7-6, 3.03) in the rubber match at 1:10 PM.

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How The Mets Landed Matt Harvey http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/how-the-mets-landed-matt-harvey.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/how-the-mets-landed-matt-harvey.html/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 18:38:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121027 Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has a must-read article on the events that led to the Mets decision to select Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft.

All the Mets’ key scouts and honchos at the time — from area scout Marlon McPhail all the way to then-GM Omar Minaya — endorsed Harvey, who has yet to lose in 12 starts for the 2013 Mets, a losing team. He’s 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA and 87 strikeouts. Back then, Mets people all marveled at how Harvey wouldn’t get rattled despite playing for a bad team (a good prep for the 2013 Mets?).

But perhaps no one was more enamored than veteran scout Bryan Lambe, who according to then-Mets scouting director Rudy Terrasas wrote a report suggesting Harvey could be another Justin Verlander – a buzz name for any of the 30 teams, but especially the Mets since they missed their chance to take Verlander six years earlier by one pick. When the Tigers made Verlander the No. 2 overall pick, the Mets were left with a consolation prize of Phil Humber, whose only noteworthy Mets moment came when he was thrown into the trade package for Johan Santana.

“At the end of the day, we were hoping [Harvey] was going to be there,” Terrasas recalled. “There was a lot of luck involved because there were [three] other teams before us [once Harper, Taillon and Machado were selected]. That’s the guy we were hoping to get to us, and he fell into our laps. We weren’t real happy with the other options.”

Terrasas, who has since been replaced as scouting director by new GM Sandy Alderson and moved into a pro scout role, recently called Lambe, who’s now with the Blue Jays, to thank him for the tout, which was hard to top. Other Mets scouts and bigwigs Sandy Johnson, David Lakey, Russ Bove, plus Minaya himself, affirmed the original recommendation of area scout McPhail.

The consensus of the Mets’ top decision makers was that Harvey was potentially a No. 2 starter in the making, with his above-average fastball, curveball and slider and still-developing changeup. All, that is, except Lambe, who invoked the Verlander name and sealed the deal for Terrasas. Terrasas is so appreciative of Lambe’s conviction he called him a few days ago to tell him, “I owe you.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

I always love reading these types of back stories.

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Harvey and Wheeler: One Ace Showing, Another One In The Hole http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/harvey-and-wheeler-one-ace-showing-another-one-in-the-hole.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/harvey-and-wheeler-one-ace-showing-another-one-in-the-hole.html/#comments Sun, 05 May 2013 02:47:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117527 matt harvey zack wheeler

Blue chip pitching prospects are professional sports’ most delicate flower. Except, unlike a flower, no scientifically proven method has been established regarding proper cultivation.

There’s no “right” way to bring a teenager up through an organization’s system while still absolutely maximizing his production at the major league level. And in the back of everyone’s mind lingers the possibility to a debilitating injury that is always one pitch away.

For every David Price or Matt Moore who’s appeared to have bloomed with relative ease, a dozen Mark Prior or Joba Chamberlain clones lay crumpled on muddy soil.

Coddling a prospect by hawk-eyeing his pitches and innings hasn’t proven to do more bad than good, but it hasn’t proven to do more good than bad either. Once a prospect is inside the system, fertilization can be a high stakes game of roulette.

Should he start? Should he come out of the pen? Should more pitches be added to his arsenal? Should he focus on developing a curve? Is he throwing too much heat?

But the lure of what a young blue chip pitching prospect brings to an organization is enough to make all the stress worth it. Even though they only contribute once every five days, a sturdy starting pitcher is any good baseball team’s foundation.

Momentum will never be strong enough to overcome ace starters like Justin Verlander or C.C. Sabathia once they take the mound. The fear they instill in the opposing team is unmatched.

The New York Mets are lucky enough to be holding two aces in their hand right now: Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey. The former is currently sporting an ERA of 4.80 in Pacific Coast League Triple-A, while the latter is making major league hitters look like kids on a sandlot, and through the season’s opening month is arguably the National League’s best starting pitcher.

Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA, and, well, despite averaging 10.62 strikeouts per nine innings in 10 starts last season (a number that would place him in the top 10 so far this season, where he happens to be anyway, with 10.2 strikeouts per nine), those numbers are still a little shocking.

In 2012 he averaged nearly four walks per nine innings. This season his control has been even better, as he’s down to 2.68.

That’s not all he’s shown.

So far this season, Harvey ranks fourth throughout baseball in Wins Above Replacement (second behind only Clay Buchholz among pitchers), fifth in ERA, third in WHIP, second in hits per nine innings, and eighth in strikeouts.

He’s throwing an impractical 90 mile per hour slider about once every five pitches, and is dominating with his high heat, which averages 95 mph and tops off at about 98 mph.

Before the year began, most projections had him as a solid starter in New York’s rotation—after all, the process of bringing along a prospect with Harvey’s skill is supposed to be slow and careful—but through the first month he’s blowing by everything anyone thought he could accomplish so soon.

Wheeler is two years younger than Harvey, and has yet to throw one pitch at the Major League level. But he’s striking out 10.8 hitters per nine innings through 30 minor league innings this season (six starts), despite having trouble gripping the ball.

Harvey appears to have already come along, and Wheeler should be following soon enough. If the Mets can successfully oversee both of them reaching their full potential for years to come, it’ll be viewed as a serious job well done. Two flowers are always better than none.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Michael Pina who is also a writer for ESPN’s TrueHoop Network. His work has been published on The Classical and ScoreBig. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVPina.

Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 17,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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The Matt Harvey Phenomenon: I’ve Seen Meteoric Rises Like This Before http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-matt-harvey-phenomenon-ive-seen-meteoric-rises-like-this-before.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-matt-harvey-phenomenon-ive-seen-meteoric-rises-like-this-before.html/#comments Mon, 22 Apr 2013 11:00:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115688 matt harvey

Matt Harvey has been compared to some of the biggest names of the game both past and present. Whether it’s because of his lethal arsenal, his no-nonsense demeanor on the mound, or just his determination to keep getting better. In 14 starts he is breaking down long-standing records with such ease.

While expectations and pressure like that would crush most young players, Matt Harvey thrives on it. I was especially taken by his reaction on Friday night when fans at Citi Field roared with the chants of “Har-Vey’s Better! Har-Vey’s Better” with every pitch Stephen Strasburg threw.

It was amazing to watch both pitcher’s reactions as the SNY camera crew went to a split screen. There was Harvey sitting on the bench – looking all business and wiping his face with a towel. He was immune to what was happening on the field and didn’t allow himself to be captured by the moment. On the mound however, you could tell Strasburg was being rattled.

Pressure and expectations is a crazy thing. For many players it’s their death knell, but not for Harvey. This kid has ice running through his veins.

2013 matt harvey 33

There’s more to Harvey than meets the eye and it may take years until we figure out what makes him tick. Baseball has always been a game of comparisons, but most often the comparisons are unfounded and the expectations are never met. So far, it looks like Harvey will be the exception to that rule. Gregg Jefferies never did become the next Ty Cobb, and the teenage hitting machine Fernando Martinez never did become the next Roberto Clemente.

“A lot of guys can throw 98,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “I like his competitive make-up. … Fear of failure is not in Matt Harvey’s make-up.’’

You know what else stood out from Friday night? Harvey’s comments after the game.

“I’ve got a long way to go,’’ Harvey said. “I appreciate the fans and the support and all that. But we’re here to win. We’re the New York Mets. It’s not just one guy out there. Every time I take the ball I’m trying to win for the team.”

Spoken like a true leader…

And for those of you who keep saying you want to see how Harvey would react in a tough situation, how does the the bases loaded with nobody out against the team who won more games than any other team last season sound? Is that challenging enough for you?

Harvey worked out of the jam with ease. “That’s a tough lineup, he said. “At any point it felt like it could unravel and things could have gone the other way.’’

However it didn’t unravel. Harvey bore down like a warrior and slammed the door on their offense. ”That’s the mark of an ace right there,’’ Collins said. “That’s why we can’t say enough things about him. Games like this can lead to a great season.”

harvey 2

Can you believe that there are still some Mets fan who haven’t bought into Harvey yet? It’s true. I’ve seen the doubts and speculation right here on our comment threads. They remain cautiously optimistic waiting for the bubble to burst. It’s hard to believe that 14 starts or basically a half season, and non-believers still abound.

I’m seeing some of the best raves and optimism about Harvey from non-Mets and rival fans. One Yankee fan told Me, “I can’t believe you got, Harvey. You’re so freaking lucky.”

David Price and Curt Schilling are also on the Matt Harvey bandwagon. So are Michael Kay and Mike Francesa. So are Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. So are R.A. Dickey, Jon Lester and Justin Verlander.

So am I and most of MMO. I actually have been since day one.

I’ve seen a meteoric rise like one this twice before as Met fan. The first time was with with “The Franchise” Tom Seaver, and then two decades later I saw it again with “Doctor K’ Dwight Gooden. I became emotionally invested from day with those two Mets icons too, just like I am now with Harvey. As a Met fan, I always did take “Ya Gotta Believe” very seriously. Times have changed, but I’m still old-fashioned that way.

believe mr met button

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Mets Quotables: Matt Harvey Only Wants To Get Better http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-quotables-matt-harvey-only-wants-to-get-better.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-quotables-matt-harvey-only-wants-to-get-better.html/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 19:56:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=115372 matt harvey 33As unusual as it might sound from a pitcher who has given up six hits in 22 innings with three wins, 25 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA, Matt Harvey wants to improve.

Its always interesting when you hear the opposing press rave about a player. Patrick Reusse, legendary Twin Cities sportswriter, and a few others peppered me with questions about Harvey as I was one of the first members of the Mets press to arrive last Saturday before Harvey’s start.

“How hard does he throw?” “How’s his command?  “How’s his breaking ball?” “Is he as good as he was last year?”

They were clearly intrigued by our phenomenal young starter.

“He reminds me of Tom Seaver,” I said, “Big righthander, late life up in the zone with his fastball. His strikeout rates are actually comparable, maybe a little better.”

Funny thing, don’t mention Tom Seaver to Patrick Reusse. While Tom Terrific is revered in Met circles like no one else, I quickly realized following a remarkably colorful string of expletives (that all but made me spit my coffee out laughing), this isn’t necessarily the case in other circles.

“Harvey seems like a nice kid,” I interjected. “Soft spoken, low key.”

Reusse raised his eyebrows and laughed, “He sure isn’t like that on the mound.”

I had to concur there, Mr. Harvey is all business when he takes the hill.

“I think he’s actually been better than he was last year, his command is better.” I said, as Mr. Reusse did a double take.

Harvey’s biggest goal in the off-season and during the spring, by his own admission, was to improve his command so that he could work deeper into games. So far so good.

His changeup and slider have been working well, he’s been able to mix his pitches and change speeds both with his fastball and his changeup  He’s worked his slider inside to left-handed batters, using it almost like a cut fastball with marvelous effectiveness (one notable exception), while spotting his fastball with pinpoint accuracy.

Harvey’s also been able to dial up his velocity in key spots late in games, causing you to overhear things like “reminds me of Justin Verlander that way.”

Harvey mentioned during the press briefing that his curveball needs some work, that it’s been up at times. Difficult to imagine what he’ll be like if he can get his breaking pitch working right.

Below are a collection of quotes by his teammates from the post game press conference following his last start:

Kevin Burkhardt: Asks Marlon Byrd, “After 13 starts does he wow you a little bit with the way he pitched tonight?”

Marlon Byrd: “He looks like he’s pitched 1,300. He’s one of those guys, certain guys, you know he’s bringing it to the table, that bulldog mentality.”

“To be young and throw 97 and be able to use his other pitches like he does. He hits his spots. You know he’s going to work hard and we’re going to work hard for him. It”s nice, it’s nice when he’s out there, you try to get a run or two and you know you have a chance to win.”

Burkhardt: Asks John Buck, “What has it been like catching his first 3 starts?”

Buck: “Yeah it”s a lot of fun, gives you a lot of weapons to work with. The most exciting part about it is right after, he wants to evaluate his starts, to say, ‘hey, what could we have done better here and here,’ he’s not satisfied. He knows there’s room to improve. He also liked to go over some of the good sequences as well , he’ definitely looking to get better.”

Burkhardt: ”When he asks you what can he do to get better, what do you tell him?”

Buck: “Usually it’s like a sequence I know, like a certain particular sequence, or a hitter, or when he’s had a long inning, being ready for the first hitter, little things like that, he pays attention to detail, those are the little things he wants to get better at and repeat better. That’s exciting for me.”

On whether Buck was worried about how the home run would affect his mindset:

Buck: “Yeah, no, that’s one of his pluses. To be able to stay focused. I don’t think we’ll ever see Harv back off. If anything I have to ask him to, especially in that situation. I think David went out there to see but he quickly turned away. I think he saw he (Harvey) was pretty locked in.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

For Met fans, the excitement in the air every time Harvey starts is palpable. We find ourselves throwing out “not since … ” comments with every batter he blows away, with every overpowering high fastball.

You don’t want to miss a pitch, you hurry and grab a sandwich before his next inning. But what continues to impresses me like nothing else after these first three starts of his season is his demeanor, his understated intensity and his desire to improve.

This kid is the definition of “special.”

We’ve got a good one on our hands Mets fans.

mets cap hat blue

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Who Will Have The Better Season, Cowgill or Valdespin? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/who-will-have-the-better-season-cowgill-or-valdespin.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/who-will-have-the-better-season-cowgill-or-valdespin.html/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111781 space  jordany-valdespin  collin cowgill sage

ClaytonJordany Valdespin, I see Cowgill getting a hot start then hitting a wall. Valdespin however I could see being the best run producer in the outfield in 2013.

AdamCollin Cowgill because he’s a better defender and has better plate discipline/selection at the plate. Valdespin will hit for more power and be a question mark on defense, while Cowgill will produce better on-base numbers to go along with decent defense.

XtreemIcon – Jordany has the higher ceiling and more talent. Given equal playing time, he should outperform Cowgill. But the key phrase is “equal playing time.” We’ve seen how Valdy has not endeared himself to management, for a variety of reasons. However, production makes everything better.

Joe S. - JV1 as long as he protects himself from his own over-inflated ego and Justin Verlander fastballs.

Satish – Valdespin, but I have to admit, I am really starting to like what I see out of Cowgill. Something about Valdespin’s approach at the plate, in a small sample size of course, seems a little more mature so far and I would like to hope he worked out some of the kinks in his free-swinging ways. My only experience watching Cowgill has been his time here in Spring Training, and while I do like it, I am hesitant to completely jump on the bandwagon yet. I always thought Valdespin could work out to be a poor man’s Brandon Phillips – lite.

Craig L. – I think ‘Spin is a flash in the pan having a great spring. Cowgill will be more consistent have his coming out party in 2013.

Jessica – I think Cowgill will because he’ll get more of a chance than Valdespin. Cowgill has pretty much locked his spot on the Opening Day roster and Terry Collins will keep him around, not only because he’s an outfielder, but he’s an outfielder that hits the ball.

Dan V.Jordany Valdespin hands down. Attitude aside, Valdespin is probably the most talented overall player on the Mets roster right now. If he keeps his mind right, he will steal a starting job, possibly in center, and lead the team in stolen bases and triples.

Paul Z. - If Valdespin, has his head on straight, and it seems he does, he has all the potential.

Daniel N. – ‘Spin, ‘Spin, ‘Spin! That’s no slight to Cowgill whose been having a great spring, but I think Valdespin can be used in more situations, which will give him better numbers. ‘Spin has quickness and power. He can hit almost anywhere in the lineup and can platoon in more positions.

Gregg – Tough choice between Valdespin & Cowgill, but Cowgill could become an icon here, if he plays well. After all who couldn’t use some more Cowgill?

Elliot – Jordany Valdespin. He worked a lot on plate patience in the off-season and it will pay off big time.

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2013 MLB Preview: American League West http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/2013-mlb-preview-american-league-west.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/2013-mlb-preview-american-league-west.html/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 15:30:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111563 Seattle-Mariners-Felix-Hernandez

AL West At A Glance

Los Angeles Angels: What’s there to say about the Angels? They have the best lineup in baseball and one of the game’s top pitchers in Jered Weaver. C.J. Wilson is solid, though there are some concerns after that. Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson are all back end starters and there’s a huge bridge between the top two and bottom three. They should score a ton of runs, though. Their bullpen is very deep. They also probably sport the best defense around the diamond, as well. The division is deeper than the AL Central, otherwise I’d peg them as 100-game winners along with the Tigers.

Oakland Athletics: I went back and forth between the Rangers and Athletics for second place and ultimately settled on Oakland because of their loaded pitching staff. Brett Anderson, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are as talented a young rotation as there is in baseball. There’s a health issue with Anderson, clearly the team’s ace talent-wise, and rookie Dan Straily will be the fifth starter and all he did was lead all of the minor leagues in strikeouts in 2012, despite only starting 25 games prior to his callup. The A’s scored the second most runs in the league after the All Star Break and Yoenis Cespedes will be better after getting acclimated to the bigs. Josh Reddick emerged, but needs to be more consistent at the plate. First baseman Brandon Moss had a second half to remember, hitting .291/.358/.596 with 21 home runs and 18 doubles in only 296 plate appearances.

Texas Rangers: Jurickson Profar is going to infuse a lot of good karma into the Rangers, and they need it, especially after they lost their last four games of the season (three regular season games and the one-game playoff against Baltimore) and went from winning their division to watching the playoffs on TV. Compounding matters, the team let megastar Josh Hamilton leave via free agency to their bitter rivals in Anaheim and spent free agency locking up a pair of 37-year-olds in Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski. They can’t afford anything less than big years from just about everyone in their lineup. They do have a strong rotation, led by ace Yu Darvish, followed by Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando, a 2011 All Star. Colby Lewis should return from surgery in June. Joe Nathan really needs to keep his head on a swivel. The Rangers are shorthanded in the pen, but if Nathan can keep the ninth inning under wraps, he’ll get some much needed help from Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz, both due back from Tommy John surgery in May and August respectively.

Seattle Mariners: I really like what the Mariners did this offseason. Unlike the Indians who made win-now moves when they are clearly not ready to win now, the Mariners signed older veterans to short term deals and added Michael Morse who’s playing out his final arbitration year and is ready to be locked up. They added Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez as their righty and lefty bats off the bench, both of whom should have significant clubhouse influence, as well. Jesus Montero should be ready to break out and start flashing the potential he showed in the Yankees minor league system, making him one of baseball’s top prospects for several years. Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley need to join Montero and hold their own coming out party and Franklin Gutierrez needs to stay healthy. And I can’t say enough about Michael Saunders in right field. He showed last season he has “star” written all over him. Oh. They also have Felix Hernandez. Much like the Royals, they are a year or two away, provided they continue to make these savvy acquisitions.

Houston Astros: The Astros are the only reason the Twins aren’t the worst team in the league. Houston lost 213 games the last two seasons in a division in which they played the Pirates and the Cubs 36 times. Now they move to a division with three legitimate playoff caliber teams and the Mariners, a far better team than the Pirates or Cubs. It could get ugly. There are some bright spots on the team. Ace Lucas Harrell is a promising arm, but needs to get the walks down. Second baseman Jose Altuve was an All Star last season but actually deserved it, not because the Astros had to have one by rule. Matt Dominguez at third base is a top prospect, acquired from the Marlins as part their attempt to make fools of baseball fans in Miami. Justin Maxwell has all the tools (and I mean all of them), but he just hasn’t figured out how to use them yet. He’s too old to be a prospect anymore, but he’s young enough to still be able to put it together. If he finally does, he could join Altuve for All Star weekend on his own merit. They do have five players in Baseball America’s Top 100, but only two of them even saw AA action in 2012. On second thought, it will get ugly.

Projected Standings

XtreemIcon: Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Mariners, Astros

Jessep: Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Rangers, Astros

Joe D: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Athletics, Astros

Top Sleeper

XtreemIcon: Jesus Montero

Jessep: Jason Bay

Joe D: Jarrod Parker

Top Rookie

XtreemIcon: Jurickson Profar

Jessep: Brandon Maurer

Joe D: Jurickson Profar

Top Pitcher

XtreemIcon: Jered Weaver

Jessep: Felix Hernandez

Joe D: Felix Hernandez

Top Hitter

XtreemIcon: Mike Trout

Jessep: Albert Pujols

Joe D: Mike Trout

Up Next: National League West

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Nelson Figueroa: Hometown Kid Shines In WBC Spotlight http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nelson-figueroa-hometown-kid-shines-in-wbc-spotlight.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nelson-figueroa-hometown-kid-shines-in-wbc-spotlight.html/#comments Sat, 16 Mar 2013 16:40:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111110 nelson figueroaI always regarded the WBC as Dancing With The Stars with spikes. It’s a manufactured competition, but with its roots in nationalism.

However, last night’s USA-Puerto Rico elimination match was compelling, far more interesting than your average Mets-Marlins spring training game. That interest was generated by the passion in the stands. The WBC means more in terms of national pride to the teams and fans in Asia and Latin America than to the United States.

Puerto Rico is now in the international sports spotlight. The American players who are always in the spotlight can now return to their major league teams and big contracts.Nationalism represented some of the motivational fuel for Nelson Figueroa, a journeyman pitcher who has toiled for six teams in parts of nine years – including the Mets – but pitched like a star last night in sending the United States home for the third straight time.

Figueroa was special, doing what he used to do at times with the Mets, which was burn innings. But, last nigh he gave Puerto Rico six shutout innings in his 80-pitch allotment. Working both sides of the plate effectively with everything but an electric fastball, he gave US hitters nothing to hit.

Putting on a show was the rest of his motivational fuel.

“We were supreme underdogs against that lineup,’’ Figueroa told reporters. “It was motivation to show them what kind of pitcher I was.’’

Maybe he showed what kind of pitcher he can be to somebody with the power to make a decision on his career as so many other have done.

Figueroa was signed by Arizona to a minor league contract as organizational depth in December. If Figueroa were higher on the pitching food chain, but not good enough to be a given, he might have been better off in spring training.

However, in this case, showing what he could do against major league hitters should count for more points than a couple of innings against the Dodgers minor leaguers.

Sometime this year, the Diamondbacks or somebody else, will have a sudden need for an arm and think back at how Figueroa toyed with the US lineup.

Figueroa is not flashy. He does not have a great fastball or singular dominant pitch. What he has is command of the corners and guile. When both are on he’s tough to beat.

“I don’t throw very hard, but I pitch inside,’’ Figueroa said, giving us his personal scouting report. “It was a great exhibition of what can be done without a plus fastball. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that good pitching beats good hitting.’’

That’s the way it always has been and always will be. From a fundamental perspective, that’s baseball’s essence. From a human perspective, Figueroa is also the essence of the sport.

History has given us far more Figueroas in the game than Matt Harveys or Stephen Strasburgs. Harvey and Strasburg have power potential and will always get a shot. Things must break right for Figueroa to get his.

Figueroa has bounced around the globe in search of a job, last pitching in the major leagues with Houston in 2011. He’s been with the Phillies. Toronto and the Yankees released him without his cup of coffee. He has pitched in the winter leagues, for Mexico, for just about anybody who would give him the ball and a few dollars.

Figueroa pitches because that’s what he does. The sport is in his blood, rushing through his veins and consuming his soul. Until he’s physically unable, or run out of teams, Figueroa will pitch. It is players like him, perhaps even more than players like Justin Verlander, as the reason we watch.

Verlander is elite. Figueroa is more like us, who once dreamed of the big leagues. However, unlike us, he persevered through rough times, rejection and defeat to get the taste we will never.

wbc puerto rico

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Matt Harvey Finishes Strong In Mets 8-5 Loss To Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/matt-harvey-finishes-strong-in-mets-8-5-loss-to-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/matt-harvey-finishes-strong-in-mets-8-5-loss-to-nationals.html/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2013 00:45:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110839 matt harveyNearly flawless in his last start, Matt Harvey took his lumps today, but on a positive note rebounded and regained control.

Harvey gave up a three-run homer to Washington’s Bryce Harper in the first inning, but rebounded to throw three scoreless innings and strike out six in an 8-5 loss.

Harvey settled down to retire 11 of the final 12 hitters against him; a very good sign for any pitcher let alone a young one after a rough start.

“I struggled there in the first inning, obviously. I think I came out a little too excited and needed to tone that down a little bit,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I made one bad pitch and it cost me three runs.’’

Harvey said he came out pumped in trying to atone for a three-homer rocking by the Nationals last year in spring training.

Bobby Parnell had a rough outing, giving up four runs in the seventh inning, which included a run-producing error by left fielderLucas Duda and RBI single by Harper.

Bright spots for the Mets included Collin Cowgill’s homer and scoreless relief innings from Robert Carson and LaTroy Hawkins. As of now, Cowgill seems to have the inside track in center field. Hawkins is expected to earn one of the bullpen spots. Carson, who was effective last year out of the pen in spots, could be the second lefty behind Josh Edgin.

METS MUSINGS: The Mets are expected to option catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and infielder Wilmer Flores to the minor league camp by Friday. If a player on the 40-man roster is injured within 15 days of Opening Day they qualify for major league service time and pay, and must be placed on the disabled list until they are healed. It’s a financial risk the Mets will not take, especially since neither is expected to make the team. … The Mets are expected to name David Wright captain by the start of the season, joining Keith HernandezGary Carter and John Franco. Wright is having a mammoth WBC with ten RBI in four games, including a grand slam. Hope he doesn’t get used to hitting with the bases loaded when he returns. If the USA goes the distance, Wright will be out of camp for another week. …Daniel Murphy is expected to get into a minor league game this weekend. He took live batting practice today. … It his hoped Kirk Nieuwenhuis will begin baseball activities Thursday. He’s been out with a bruised left knee sustained 10 days ago. … Jordany Valdespin, who was hit in the groin by a Justin Verlander pitcher yesterday, now vows to wear a cup. Smart guy.

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Nieuwenhuis and Valdespin Battling For Outfield Spot http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nieuwenhuis-and-valdespin-battling-for-outfield-spot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/nieuwenhuis-and-valdespin-battling-for-outfield-spot.html/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 22:30:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110647 jordany valdespinThe Mets are holding conclave this spring as they seek out a center field replacement for the departed Andres Torres.

Jordany Valdespin is not an easy person to like, and especially hard to cheer for, but he’s become a leading candidate. Ask him a question and he’ll often mumble an indifferent and inaudible answer.

He exudes confidence on the field, but crosses the line with a brash attitude, tendency to showboat and not always hustle. Off the field he wears a bright red baseball cap reading “JV 1.’’ He often carries himself  with an “I own the world,” persona that goes beyond confidence, so much that manager Terry Collins has warned him to tone it down a notch.

Last year, Valdespin fell out of favor with the Mets despite hitting five pinch-hit homers. He didn’t help himself in the offseason when he was suspended in winter ball. Even so, with Kirk Nieuwenhuis out with a bruised left knee and Daniel Murphy sidelined with a strained right side, Valdespin is being given every opportunity to make the roster in the outfield or as a second baseman.

Valdespin has produced, but with a caveat: He plays to his own soundtrack.

“He plays with enthusiasm,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He plays with a flair and, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.’’

It can be a painful thing, as over-the-top behavior, or shall we say, “showmanship,’’ angers the opposition. Collins warned Valdespin teams might retaliate against him. However, that wasn’t the case this afternoon when Justin Verlander plunked him in his following at-bat in which he homered in the 11-0 victory over Detroit.

Valdespin is outplaying both Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter, both of whom were the projected starters in center and right, respectively, at the start of spring training. Today he was at second as Murphy continues on the mend from a strained rib cage muscle.

“If they give me a chance to play, I can do the job,’’ Valdespin said. “That’s what I’m waiting for — a chance to play every day and then show everything I can do.’’

With all else being equal, Valdespin’s ability to play second base gives him the edge.

“If you’re going to be an extra player, the fact you can play a lot of positions means a lot,’’ Collins said. “But, we saw last year the fact he can come off the bench and be dangerous also.’’

Regardless of what happened last year, if he continues to produce and play hard – there has been no hustle issues this spring – it is hard to see Valdespin not landing a back-up spot in the outfield, presumably now as the reserve to Collin Cowgill in center if Nieuwenhuis doesn’t make it.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I don’t really care how brash or how cocky a player is as long as he produces on the field. To me, performance always comes first and all the other stuff is just background noise. Heck if we had worried ourselves with stuff like that back in the eighties, I doubt we would have won our last World Series in 1986. Maybe that’s what our problem has been the last ten years, too many choir boys and not enough players with brass balls…

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, there’s a catalyst-type quality about Valdespin that I love. He has a little bit of Jose Reyes in him. He brings a certain kind of electricity to the lineup when he’s in it and I get the feeling something good could happen at any moment when he’s in the game. I don’t get that with Lucas Duda or Mike Baxter or Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

If it’s true, as Adam Rubin reported, that this battle for a spot in the outfield will come down to between Valdespin and Nieuwenhuis, it’s clear to me right now who the winner of that battle is.

I’m not one of those know-it-alls who spout off every March about how spring stats don’t matter. What are they nuts? Of course they mater, and right now Valdespin is earning his place on the Opening Day roster because his performance has been off the charts and that does matter.

However, I don’t want to look at this as just a battle between Spin and Kirk. We have ten outfielders in camp and I just want to be sure that we go up North with the top five producers in camp this Spring – no matter who they are.

Nobody should have a leg up or be considered a lock at this point, especially after that embarrassing production we got from our outfield last season. That was a disgrace…

Like Terry Collins said today, “a lot things are going to happen in the next three weeks.” He’s right. So let’s just see how this plays out, and lets not make the mistake of ignoring a player who batted .375  and showing up on April 1 with a left fielder who batted .220 because he helped a little old lady cross the street this morning.

It’s time to man up, look at the numbers, and go with the hot hand. I’m not looking for five feel-good stories to fill some airtime on SNY in April. I’m looking for some big-time production, lots of attitude and plenty of moxie. If it means Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis end up in Sin City – so be it.

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Niese Still Hasn’t Allowed A Run, Den Dekker Gloves Another, ‘Spin Homers Then Gets Drilled http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/niese-still-hasnt-allowed-a-run-den-dekker-gloves-another-spin-homers-then-gets-drilled.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/niese-still-hasnt-allowed-a-run-den-dekker-gloves-another-spin-homers-then-gets-drilled.html/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2013 22:43:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110626 jon-niese

The Mets had an absolute field-day this afternoon with an 11-0 romp over against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.

Jonathon Niese got the start against Detroit and continues to roll, tossing four and two thirds innings of scoreless ball and allowing just one hit while walking four. Niese has yet to allow a run this Spring. It won’t be long until he ‘s officially tapped as the Opening Day starter. I sense a big season in 2013 for the southpaw.

den dekker

Matt den Dekker played a big part in preventing any damage with yet another spectacular grab in centerfield. His solid effort on that play did not go unnoticed by his teammate Niese. “Oh, it was amazing. He plays a great outfield. It’s great to have that defense behind you.”

If Den Dekker can find a way to show Terry Collins that he could hit better than Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis (still nursing an injury), Marlon Byrd or Collin Cowgill, the lefthanded human highlight reel would stand a good chance to make the team. But after two more strikeouts today, he now has ten in his last 27 at-bats and for a team starving for outfield offense, his chances are slim to none.

SPIN THE THROTTLE: Jordany Valdespin wasted no time making news today after leading off today’s game with home run off Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Later in the game during the fifth inning, Verlander drilled Valdespin with a 95 mph fastball right in the groin (ouch!). But the kid just laughed it off and then created some comic relief on Twitter when Mike Puma of the NY Post asked him where the pitch hit him. “On my d*ck,” replied Valdespin, who could probably star in his own reality show at this point. He leads the team with three homers and is batting .370 this spring.

HEFNER IS THE MAN: If you haven’t figured it out already, Terry Collins made it crystal clear when he said that Jeremy Hefner will be the replacement for Johan Santana if he ends up on the DL to start the season. ”We’re getting Jeremy Hefner ready,” Collins said. The Mets will now focus on stretching Hefner out so that they can get 6-7 innings out of him when he gets the nod. So far, the righty has 2.61 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched and has held opposing batters to a .189 average.

NO NO-HAN: There is nobody in camp that believes Johan Santana will avoid the DL to start the season. Even though there has been no official announcement yet, it looks like Sandy Alderson is the only one holding out any hope, while Collins is planning to start the season without him.

SWELTERING HOT: Ike Davis smacked a two-run single to right in the fifth and is now batting .364 in Grapefruit League play. Catcher John Buck went 2-for-3 and scored twice while notching a pair of doubles. After Valdespin was removed from the game, he was replaced at second base by Brian Bixler who had two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs, including an eighth-inning solo homer. Three deuces beats aces and kings all the time.

THE WRIGHT STUFF: If you’re concerned that David Wright isn’t getting enough work in while competing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, put your mind at ease. Wright is batting .455 with five RBIs through three games and carried his team through their last two victories. Team USA has advanced to the Semi-Finals and faces the very tough Puerto Rican team on Tuesday at 8:00 PM.

ON DECK: The Mets are off tomorrow, but RHP Matt Harvey looks to continue his hot start against the Washington Nationals squad at 1:05 PM on Wednesday. Harvey is coming off a four and a third hitless innings in his last appearance. Word has it that Harvey won’t ever win a Cy Young Award so temper those expectations.

CONGRATULATIONS: The Mets, SNY and the local papers are stealing all our talent on MMO so far in 2013. Just kidding, I think it’s a credit to all of us at Metsmerized. Our latest congratulations go out to Elliot Chester who recently wrote this post on Collin McHugh last week for MMO. Elliot was chosen to intern for the Mets Media Relations Department this Summer. We wish him all the best and look forward to seeing him at the park this season. Say hello to Jay, Shannon, Danielle and Ethan for us.

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Mets Spring Notes: Parnell Making Strides, Gee Feeling It, Spin Turns On One http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-spring-notes-parnell-making-strides-gee-feeling-it-spin-turns-on-one.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/mets-spring-notes-parnell-making-strides-gee-feeling-it-spin-turns-on-one.html/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 12:15:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110367 terry collins spring 2

It is too soon to say much definitive about Terry Collins’ 2013 Mets other than it has the makings of a long year. Twice yesterday afternoon, the frustrated Mets’ manager answered seemingly innocuous questions about his roster with a curt, “It is March 8.’’

PARNELL CLOSING IN:

One silver thread out of Friday’s 3-2 loss to Detroit was reliever Bobby Parnell, who pitched a 1-2-3 sixth as he’s settling in to the closer job with Frank Francisco destined to open the season on the disabled list with a sore right elbow.

Parnell could always throw hard – sometimes in triple digits – but had trouble with command of his secondary pitches. That wasn’t the case against the Tigers.

“My curveball is working really well,’’ said Parnell. “Last year, I was inconsistent with my curveball. Today I was able to able to throw it for strikes early in the count.’’

Parnell was aggressive and attacked the hitters, and perhaps most importantly threw his curveball in counts where the hitter would normally be expecting a fastball.

“His breaking ball has really improved,’’ Collins said. “I loved his demeanor. He’s going after hitters like he knows he’s going to get them out.’’

Parnell will face another test when he goes back-to-back tomorrow.

“You want to build up your arm strength in spring training,’’ Parnell said. “It is just a mild test to tell you where you are.’’

It isn’t as mild for 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins, who is trying to hook on in the bullpen. Hawkins said he threw 25 pitches to the five batters he faced. He gave up two hits and struck out one.

Hawkins wouldn’t say he was happy, or even satisfied, for that matter.

“I got a lot of work in today,’’ Hawkins said. “It wasn’t bad.’’

Convincing.

GEE FEELING IT:

Dillon Gee wanted to fine-tune his mechanics and was only partially satisfied with the results, giving up a run on one hit is four innings.

Not to his liking were three walks.

“Other than the walks, I felt better than (my last start, March 3 against Miami at) Jupiter,’’ Gee said. “I feel close to clicking. Maybe it’s a sixth sense, but I feel pretty close.’’

Gee was bailed out by a double play in the second, something Collins liked because he didn’t let the moment get away from him.

“He couldn’t locate all his pitches,’’ Collins said. “But, he kept his composure.’’

VALDESPIN MAKES IMPRESSION:

Jordany Valdespin hurried out of the Mets’ clubhouse with two cheeseburgers on a paper plate. He didn’t stop to talk about his homer that gave the Mets a brief 2-1 lead in the seventh.

Valdespin, who is hitting .333 this spring, started in left and batted second. The previous game he hit leadoff.

Valdespin is nothing if not supremely confident, perhaps overly so. He left the clubhouse wearing a bright red cap backwards with the lettering JV1.

Not hard to figure out what it means.

“He likes to play. He likes to be on the stage,’’ Collins said. “He plays with some flair.’’ Then, after a pause, Collins added: “There’s nothing wrong with that.’’

SIGHTS OF SPRING:

One of my favorite things about spring training is seeing players I enjoyed watching as a kid.

Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were at Tradition Field Thursday calling the game on television. At lunch Friday was Jim Fregosi – whom Mets remember as the player acquired for Nolan Ryan – and Hall of Famer Al Kaline.

It’s the same in every camp as the alumni visit, many as guest instructors. The Yankees and Dodgers especially like to boast their tradition.

CLASSIC LOOK:

I’ve always thought the Tigers’ home whites are one of the best uniforms in sports. White with dark navy numbering with the old English “D’’ a stunningly simple, but elegant look.

Along with the Tigers there are the home uniforms of the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. I do like the Mets’ pinstripes with the team name in script.

The simpler the better when it comes to uniforms and caps. That often makes the most powerful statement.

METS NOTEBOOK:

Travis d’Arnaud was one of three Mets hit by Luke Putkonen. He had his right elbow wrapped with an ice back but said he was all right. … The Mets’ offense continued to flounder with five hits. The Mets left 11 and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They also struck out 14 times. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Detroit reporters he doesn’t intend to retire. … Jeremy Hefner, Brandon Lyon and Parnell are among those scheduled to pitch Saturday against Houston. Shaun Marcum, Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano will work Sunday. The Mets are back in Lakeland Monday with Jonathan Niese starting against Justin Verlander.

COMING SOON:

Me and Joe D. will be combining our efforts beginning Monday as we decide what our Opening Day Mets roster will look like. We don’t agree on many of the decisions, but we spend a great deal of time arguing our points everyday and think it would be a great dynamic for the site. He’s talked me into doing a week by week retelling of the 1973 Mets season which we both feel gets very little playtime considering it went all the way down to Game 7 of the World Series. For those of you who weren’t around back then, get ready to relive the all the excitement of one of the most underrated great Mets seasons of all time. Joe will chime in as well as he calls that season his Mets baptism and the start of his Agony and Ecstasy. It should be fun.

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Analyzing The 2012 Mets Pitching Staff Using The Factor12 Rating http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/analyzing-the-2012-mets-pitching-staff-using-the-factor12-rating.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/analyzing-the-2012-mets-pitching-staff-using-the-factor12-rating.html/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 12:00:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=98967  

For the most part, Mets fans were pleasantly surprised with the production of the Mets pitching staff in 2012. The bullpen kept us on the edge of  our seats the majority of the season, but the starters were one of the bright spots for the Mets. None shone brighter than the ace of the staff, RA Dickey. Some injuries prevented the Mets starting rotation from reaching its full potential, but when all the starters are healthy, it is easily the strongest aspect of the New York Mets. But what will we find out about the Mets Pitchers if we break them down statistically? Statistically speaking, the Mets pitchers may not be as strong as we thought.

The best statistical measure I have come across when evaluating pitchers is the Factor12 (F12) rating. The majority of readers out there are asking, what’s the Factor12 rating? Well, it’s probably best if I let one of the co-creators of the F12 rating explain it to you in his own words:

The Factor12 Rating uses the league average performance to calculate the value of MLB pitchers in a given season. The theoretical average pitcher will have a F12 Rating of 24.000. Elite pitchers will post a 30.000+ seasonal rating. F12 is calculated by comparing each pitcher to the league average in ten ratio statistics, and two counting statistics. – Sven Jenkins

I know. Some of the readers are still scratching their heads. Many are still questioning why this rating is so great. Still not convinced? I will include the entire description of the F12 rating below, so you can get a better feel for why this rating is the best way to analyze a pitcher’s success. You can also find this information on their website:

The Factor12 Rating (F12) is an analytic measurement utilizing league average performance to compare the value of all MLB pitchers.

F12 consists of the following twelve statistics incorporating every aspect of pitching.

Innings Pitched (IP); Strikeouts Minus Walks (SO-BB); Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP); Earned Run Average (ERA); Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP); Home Runs per 9 innings (HR/9); Walks per 9 innings (BB/9); Strikeouts per 9 innings (SO/9); Opponents Batting Average (OBA); Opponents On-Base Average (OOBA); Opponents Slugging Average (OSLG); Modified Base-Out Percentage (MBOP) has been adjusted to include wild pitches and balks.

F12 produces a numeric total value using the percentage difference equation for the ten pre-defined ratio categories. Each pitcher is ranked according to league average performance using 2.000 as the baseline. Categories have a maximum value of 4.000 and a minimum of 0.001.

Percentage difference equals the absolute value of the change in value, divided by the average of the 2 numbers, all multiplied by 100. To illustrate, the average MLB pitcher compiled a 3.94 ERA in 2011. Clayton Kershaw finished his Cy Young campaign with a 2.28 ERA: =((3.94-2.28)/((2.28+3.94)/2))*100. The Factor12 Method adds: /100+2 to utilize an easy number less than, greater than, or equal to 2.000. As a result, Kershaw received a 2.536 F12 value for ERA last season.

The Innings Pitched (IP) and Strikeout Minus Walks (SO-BB) categories utilize a percentage change formula, which does not contain a fixed range. Percentage change represents the relative change between the old value and the new one. For example, the average MLB pitcher totaled 65.75 innings pitched in 2011. Clayton Kershaw compiled 233.33 innings pitched: =((233.33-65.75)/65.75)*100. The Factor12 Method adds: /100+2 and Kershaw earned a 4.549 value for IP last season.

A pitcher’s F12 is the sum of the percentage difference/change value of the twelve statistical categories. The league average performance is 24.000 and the  minimum is 0.001. Pitchers recording zero innings pitched will receive a 0.000 F12 Rating. Elite pitchers will accumulate a 30.000+ seasonal rating.

Pitchers completing less than the average yearly innings (i.e. 65.75 in 2011) will have their F12 Rating weighed by the percentage of innings completed in relation to the league average (i.e. Sergio Romo 48 IP/65.75). This adjustment enables starting pitchers and relievers to be compared together based on different workloads for the season.

Factor12 rates yearly performance, with the potential for future projections. Weekly updates were available during the 2012 season to quantify every pitcher in Major League Baseball using F12.

Sounds simple enough right? I think a good way of explaining the F12 rating is by saying that it gives us a better idea of which pitchers actually control the strike zone the best. That’s why I prefer to use the F12 when analyzing pitchers statistically. We can sometimes get caught up in strikeouts, and ERA, but those aren’t always the best ways to analyze how well a pitcher is actually picthing. The F12 rating gives a better overall picture of how a pitcher is performing.

Now that you understand a little more about the rating, and how it works, we can look at how some of the Mets pitchers performed in 2012 by using this rating system. I asked the guys at 60ft6in.com if they could create a spreadsheet of all the pitchers that pitched in a game for the Mets this year. I asked them to provide us with their F12 rating, as well as how it ranked up against every other pitcher in the MLB. Aside from Dickey, you may be surprised about how the other Mets pitchers stacked up against the rest of the league.

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Dickey is at the top of the list for the Mets. Dickey is ranked fourth in the MLB using the F12 rating – only Justin Verlander (31.422), Clayton Kershaw (31.219), and Felix Hernandez (30.914) were ranked higher. Even F12 agrees that Dickey has a great chance at being the 2012 National League Cy Young winner. Something that was surprising to me when looking at the spreadsheet, was that only two Mets pitchers ranked in the top 100. I figured to see more than two pitchers in the top 100. I was also surprised to see that Bobby Parnell, every Met fan’s nightmare, was actually the third best Mets pitcher according to the F12. That kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I will let it slide.

I can’t be the only person who thought the Mets pitching was pretty good this year (not taking the bullpen into consideration). But according to the F12 rating, they actually weren’t too good at all. The theoretical average F12 rating for pitchers in 24. That being said, the Mets had three average pitchers in 2012 (Parnell, Gee, Santana), one slightly better than average pitcher (Niese), and one elite pitcher (Dickey). The rest of the pitchers were considered below average. It makes you realize how bad the rest of the team must have been in 2012 to make the pitching staff look so good to the fans. However, after a little elbow grease by the guys at 60ft6in.com, and some analysis, we see that the Mets pitching staff is not as strong as it seems.

Regardless of F12, we had some memorable moments from the pitching staff in 2012. Dickey became the first twenty game winner in a Mets uniform since 1990, and is up for the Cy Young award (hopefully some voters check out his F12 rating). Johan Santana maybe injury prone, and average according to his F12 rating, but he pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. When it’s all said and done, the Factor12 can’t measure those things…and those are the things the Mets fans will remember about the 2012 baseball season.

I would like to give a special thanks to Sven Jenkins for taking the time to help out with this article. If any readers want to learn more about the Factor12 rating, or get pitching scouting reports, check out 60ft6in.com. As always, please share any thoughts in the comment section below – was anything surprising to you when looking at the F12 ratings? Do you buy into the F12 rating? Let’s hear it…

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We Don’t See Pitchers Winning 25 Games Very Often… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/we-dont-see-pitchers-winning-25-games-very-often.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/we-dont-see-pitchers-winning-25-games-very-often.html/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 11:09:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=61272 I want to push all the Mets stuff aside for at least one small post, to mention something going on in the world of Major League Baseball that i think we should look at (and NO it doesn’t involve “hat-gate”).

We’ve seen Sandy Koufax win 25 games and go onto win the MVP and Cy Young that season.

We now have the opportunity to witness a pitcher reaching the 25 win plateau again, joining the likes of Koufax and Seaver.

Justin Verlander has been nothing short of dominant in 2011.  It kind of surprised me to see him perform this well and this dominant.

With Verlander very close to earning his 25th win this season, he could become the next pitcher to win both the Cy Young and MVP award in the American League.

He currently has 24 wins, and has several more opportunities No. 25 this season.

In this day and age, we rarely see guys get as many innings, and as many starts as the Tigers ace.

In 33 starts this season Verlander has thrown 244 innings struck out 244 batters. K’s. Did i forget to mention he threw a no-hitter this season too?

Who knows when we’ll ever witness something like this again.

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