Mets Merized Online » kevin plawecki http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 12 Jan 2017 01:57:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.17 Mets Not Interested In Wieters, Hopeful With d’Arnaud http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/mets-not-interested-in-wieters-hopeful-with-darnaud.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/mets-not-interested-in-wieters-hopeful-with-darnaud.html/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2017 15:20:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=228811 travis-darnaud

The New York Mets are going to pass on free agent catcher Matt Wieters, a source told John Harper of the New York Daily News.

The Mets source told Harper, “We’re not spending our money on a catcher”.

Earlier this offseason, the Mets hired former long time Arizona Diamondbacks coach Glenn Sherlock to become their third base and catching coach.

The Mets are hopeful that the well respected Sherlock will be able to help catcher Travis d’Arnaud have a bounce back season in 2017.

They also have veteran catcher Rene Rivera returning as the backup to d’Arnaud after avoiding arbitration by agreeing on a $1.75 million contract.

Original Report – Jan. 4

The year 2017 will see the same group of catchers back at Citi Field as Mets General Manager, Sandy Alderson, has stated as such. What can we expect from the trio of Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera?

All eyes will be on d’Arnaud this year, who gets a vote of confidence from upper management after having a disastrous 2016. Travis will come into next season with a lot to prove in what could be his last chance to do so in a Metropolitan uniform.

The team’s incumbent catcher appeared in just 75 games last year while hitting to a .247/.307/.323 batting line to go along with just four homers and 15 RBI. It is possible this was just an anomaly in what was another injury ravaged season for the 27-year-old backstop. While playing just 67 games in 2015, he hit to a .268/.340/.485 batting line with 12 homers and 41 RBI.

His offense though is not his only struggle as of late as baserunners began to run on d’Arnaud at will. He allowed a career high 61 stolen bases, while throwing out just 17. It was an alarming number for d’Arnaud and something that must be worked on diligently in spring training for Travis to have success behind the plate. It will be a make or break year for the team’s primary catcher.

rene rivera

Rivera, 33, is likely to be the team’s primary backup for d’Arnaud in 2017. He has also taken on the role of Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher. As Thor struggles to hold runners on, Rivera has done a tremendous job on cutting down would be base stealers.

Not known for his offense, Rivera struggled at times at the plate, hitting to a .222/.291/.341 batting line to go with six homers and 26 RBI. Rivera had some key clutch hits throughout the season in 2016 though and has shown a knack to deliver when needed.

Rivera was a welcome addition to the team in 2016 and is a suitable backup. Defensively, he allowed 43 stolen bases while throwing out 18. Possibly his biggest asset is his ability to control the game. Any time a pitcher has seemed shaken, Rivera is the first out there to calm them down or pump them up in the right situation. This is something d’Arnaud can certainly work on as well.

kevin plawecki first hr

Lastly we have Plawecki, the Mets’ 25-year-old former prospect who continues to look to find a starting role behind the plate. So far he has shown an inability to hit major league pitching, batting to a 197/.298/.265 line to go with one homer and 11 RBI in 48 games in 2016.

Plawecki has had his opportunities and has been unable to take hold of the position. With d’Arnaud going down multiple times in 2015 and 2016, Plawecki was unable to get a grasp of the position he strived to start at. He has become somewhat of a forgotten man as he was once thought of as a top catching prospect. More opportunities are sure to come his way entering 2017, especially with the likelihood of d’Arnaud again going down with injury at some point in the coming season.

What was once thought of as a plethora of big time catching prospects has suddenly looked like a position the team desperately needs help with. Down in the minors sits another big prospect in Tomas Nido. If he continues to progress the way he has so far and the current core of catchers continue to struggle, it is hard not to wonder just how soon we could possibly see him at Citi Field?

It will be an interesting season for this group of catchers, especially for d’Arnaud and Plawecki as the team seems to be at wits end with their current group. What do you think this season will bring for our incumbent catchers? Will any find success in 2017 or will the team be shopping for a backstop come July?

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Don’t Count The Mets Out On Matt Wieters http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/dont-count-the-mets-out-on-matt-wieters.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/01/dont-count-the-mets-out-on-matt-wieters.html/#comments Sun, 01 Jan 2017 12:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=228629 matt-wieters

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the New York Mets and the Arizona Diamondbacks could still be possible landing spots for free agent catcher Matt Wieters and he says neither team should be counted out.

The market for Wieters has been relatively quiet given the fact that he entered the offseason as arguably the best healthy free agent catcher.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets do decide to jump into the Wieters sweepstakes the longer he stays on the open market.

Original Report – Dec 31

Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com has stated in his latest article that two National League East teams are currently in on free agent catcher, Matt Wieters. The Mets are not one of those teams.

Wieters, 30, is the top free agent catcher left on the market and Heyman believes that both the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves are the two NL teams still considering adding his services.

Another report from beat reporters Chelsea Janes and Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post says that the Nationals continue to maintain a dialog with Scott Boras and if his price were to drop on Wieters, they would be very interested. Both writers add that “the Nats still have more than enough money to spend on Wieters.”

The Mets, whose catching situation is somewhat in distress due to uncertainties surrounding Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Rene Rivera, could certainly use the veteran backstop.

General Manager, Sandy Alderson though has given a vote of confidence to his current crew of catchers entering the 2017 season. Wieters though is coming off an All-Star season, the fourth of his career, and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 homers and 66 RBI this past season. The veteran catcher also put up a .711 OPS last season, a steady batter when healthy.

Heyman notes that the Mets are a logical fit for Wieters as well but are mainly focused on the relief market and attempting to find a trade partner for the albatross that has become known as Jay Bruce. Could this become a missed opportunity for the Metropolitans?

As time continues to tick by, Wieters’ price tag on the open market is reportedly shrinking as it has for many position players that have recently signed or are still out there. The former O’s catcher could end up being a good free agent bargain for the team that eventually signs him.

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Mets Front Office and Ownership Deserve Some Praise http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/12/mets-front-office-and-ownership-deserve-some-praise.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/12/mets-front-office-and-ownership-deserve-some-praise.html/#comments Sun, 04 Dec 2016 15:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=227471 sandy-alderson

When the New York Mets entered the offseason after a disappointing Wild Card Game loss to the San Francisco Giants, fans and media alike pondered what type of moves and money the Mets’ front office would make and spend this winter. After all, the team has held a stigma of being “cheap” over the last several years, even though the claim is just not true. The Mets have seen some steady and significant payroll increases over the last three seasons since coming out of their rebuild.

While the Mets have spent the a few seasons ridding themselves of onerous contracts held over from the previous regime and develop talent from within, they started to form a chemistry and cohesion, resulting in back-to-back postseason trips in 2015-16, only the second time that’s occurred in franchise history (1999-00). With the team relying on an inexpensive group of young, top of the rotation starters, that gives them some wiggle room when it comes to doling out contracts in other areas of specific need.

And so far, GM Sandy Alderson and the front office have responded. Fans and beat reporters thought there was a chance that Neil Walker wouldn’t be tendered a qualifying offer, as the price tag of $17.2 million along with Walker’s season-ending back surgery gave some pause as to whether allocating that type of money would make the most financial sense. However, the Mets made the QO to Walker, who accepted minutes before the 5 PM deadline on November 14.

As fans remember, Walker had a career year of sorts in 2016, matching a career high in home runs (23), setting a career high in SLG (.476), OPS (.823), BB% (9.2), and fWAR (3.7). The switch-hitting second baseman also set a career high in his splits against left-handed pitchers in 2016, slashing .330/.391/.610 in 100 at-bats against southpaws, compared to his career line of .269/.327/.373.

rene rivera

The Mets were also unlikely to tender a contract to backup catcher Rene Rivera, according to multiple media reports. The thought process was the $2.2 million price tag Rivera was projected to earn was too pricey for a backup catcher, as the team still has underachieving Kevin Plawecki to back up Travis d’Arnaud at the league minimum.

However, the team came to a one-year $1.75 million deal with Rivera on Friday, keeping Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher in the fold for 2017. It appears the front office realized the impact he had on Syndergaard and controlling the running game, as he threw out 30% of would be base stealers last season.

Also keeping a veteran backstop on a team with youthful catchers is a smart choice, as Rivera can act as a second coach to Glenn Sherlock, who was hired as the new third base coach and catching instructor in November. That too, was a shrewd move, as the front office realized that former third base coach Tim Teufel made some questionable decisions with runners on the base paths, while also operating last season without a full time catching instructor on the roster. The hope is Sherlock can work with d’Arnaud and Plawecki, and get them back on track after rocky 2016 seasons for both catchers.

And of course, there’s the matter of Yoenis Cespedes. As soon as Cespedes inked his three-year, $75 million deal last winter with the opt-out after the first season, fans wondered what it would take to retain La Potencia, and if he would just sell himself to the highest bidder on the open market this offseason.

Varying reports about Cespedes’ intentions were spread across the internet: would the Nationals be interested again as they were last season? Could the Dodgers join the fray and add him to an already expensive roster? Would the crosstown rival Yankees swoop in, after shedding payroll with their trades of Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Ivan Nova, and Brian McCann?

cespedes press conference

Our editor in chief Joe D. offered his take throughout the month of November, calmly reminding fans that Cespedes’ first choice was always in Queens and that something was brewing between both sides. Sure enough, the Mets announced on Wednesday that they had come to an agreement with the 31-year-old Cuban slugger, agreeing to a four-year, $110 million deal with a full no-trade clause, making him the highest paid outfielder in the game.

The front office and ownership should be applauded for their hard work and dedication moving forward. They too realize the window for winning is now, with all their young arms controlled for the next few years before they have some serious decisions to make on extensions. Retaining the players that made them successful the past two seasons illustrates the level of seriousness they’re taking into each year, and not just standing pat and waiting for the scrapheap free agents to sift through in January and February.

A big part of ownership’s willingness to go out and spend money is the increased gate attendance the team has seen over the past three seasons. In 2014, the Mets totaled 2,148,808, good for 21st in baseball. The following season the Mets were sitting at 12th in attendance, with 2,569,753 fans going through the turnstiles. And in 2016, the Mets made it into the top 10, the first time since 2009, as they were 9th with 2,789,602 in attendance. Alderson did say at a season ticket holder’s event back in 2014 that ownership will spend more money if they’re supported at the gates by fans. So far it seems as if Alderson and ownership have kept their word.

Of course, there is more work to be done, as the team is in need of adding a left-handed reliever and a late inning arm to pair with Addison Reed, as it appears Jeurys Familia might face a suspension for his domestic violence arrest in October. The Mets also need to decide on moving one (or both) of Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, depending on who fetches them the greatest return. If the Mets continue working dutifully as they have when it comes to their own free agents, I have faith that Alderson and Co. have a game plan for who they will target at this week’s Winter Meetings in Maryland. Stay tuned…

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Travis d’Arnaud to be Given Every Chance to Succeed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/travis-darnaud-to-be-given-every-chance-to-succeed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/11/travis-darnaud-to-be-given-every-chance-to-succeed.html/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2016 13:30:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=226887 travis d'Arnaud

According to a report from the NY Daily News, incumbent catcher Travis d’Arnaud will be given every opportunity to succeed in his role as starting catcher in 2017.

Originally it was believed that the Mets may look to upgrade at the position this offseason, especially after flirting with acquiring Jonathan Lucroy at last season’s trading deadline. The team though seems primed to give d’Arnaud another shot.

Travis is coming off a trying year where he hit to a .247/.307/.323 batting line with just four homers and 15 RBI. The Mets catcher had another oft-injured season, playing in just 75 games. Baserunners have also begun to run on him at-will, causing for more concern.

Injuries have been a large part of the downfall of d’Arnaud’s young career. He has shown flashes of being able to contribute to this team on a regular basis but the injury bug has seemed to deter any progress he makes.

With word coming out this past week that the Mets may look to non-tender Rene Rivera and the uncertainties that surround Kevin Plawecki and his ability to play in the big leagues, the team may look for a stronger backup catcher as per MLB Trade Rumors.

The upcoming season could make or break d’Arnaud’s career, at least while being in a Metropolitans uniform. It will be interesting to see if Travis can turn it around and be the solid contributor that we have seen glimpses of.

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Harvey Still Ineffective In Middle Innings, His Next Start Comes Against Nationals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-still-ineffective-in-middle-innings-his-next-start-comes-against-nationals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/harvey-still-ineffective-in-middle-innings-his-next-start-comes-against-nationals.html/#comments Sat, 14 May 2016 14:19:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211880 matt harvey 2

After a strong outing against the Padres, the middle innings came back to haunt Matt Harvey again, making for a miserable 5-2 loss for the Mets at Colorado’s cavernous Coors Field.

The Mets bats that were muted by Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, barely made a peep off of Rockies rookie right-hander, Jon Gray, who unlike Harvey, found good fortune on Friday the 13th.

In his 14th career start, Gray finally got his elusive first major league victory, giving up 2 runs and 5 hits over 7 innings of 8 strike out ball – topped off with his first big league base hit to boot.

Gray’s 105 pitch performance snapped an 11 game Rockies losing skid to the Mets. It also puts the Amazins in second place behind the Washington Nationals, who the Mets will host at Citi Field for a crucial three game series that starts Tuesday.

Harvey’s ineffectiveness is cause for concern, and although he and Terry Collins claim that last year’s workload is not to blame, there is something amiss in the arm and mind of his former ace.

The velocity on his fastball last night was well, about 3-4 mph from where it should be, and his secondary pitches are more erratic than the stock market. It’s uncanny how he looks so good early in a game and then just peters out come the fourth and fifth innings.

With Jacob deGrom’s shaky outing, Colon’s colossal loss, and Steven Matz’s visit with the doctor on the docket, the touted top pitching staff has made the natives restless lately, and the starting lineup is doing a poor job patching it up when the ball stays in the park.

Granderson is batting .206, David Wright .223, Duda .235, and Neil Walker, who momentarily made us forget about Daniel Murphy, has lost his mojo at the plate of late.

Kevin Plawecki has heeded Terry Collins’ call to be more productive, but when your number one and two hitters whiff a combined five times, and your starting pitcher in a previous game accounts for all of your runs, there’s something seriously wrong in Mudville, and let’s hope the Mets figure it out before they face the Nationals in their first critical matchup of the season.

As of now, Noah SyndergaardBartolo Colon and Matt Harvey are slated to start against the Nationals, while they counter with Max ScherzerGio Gonzalez and now Stephen Strasburg.

Nats manager Dusty Baker has moved Strasburg’s start this weekend from Sunday to tonight so that he can pitch in Thursday’s finale against the Mets.

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The Z Files: 5 Takeaways From Mets 5-3 Loss to Padres http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/the-z-files-5-takeaways-from-mets-5-3-loss-to-padres.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/the-z-files-5-takeaways-from-mets-5-3-loss-to-padres.html/#comments Fri, 06 May 2016 15:30:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211208 yoenis cespedes hr

San Diego Padres starter Colin Rea took a no-hitter against the New York Mets into the seventh with two outs until Yoenis Cespedes hit a single opposite the defensive shift.  The Mets hit two home runs in the ninth inning but fell short, losing 5-3.

Here are five takeaways from last night’s loss.

1.  Mets Hitters Need to Get the Bat Off the Shoulder

Colin Rea isn’t a flame thrower blowing 96 mph fastballs past hitters.  Rea doesn’t have a devastating sinker/two-seam fastball inducing groundball after groundball.  So, why were Mets hitters taking so many four-seam and two-seam fastballs early in at-bats?

During Rea’s eight innings pitched, Mets hitters took a fastball for a called strike in 0-0 or 1-0 counts in fourteen of their twenty-eight at-bats against Rea.  In other words, in 50% of the Mets at-bats against Rea, they had viable fastballs to swing at to produce a good opportunity for a hit but instead, the Mets hitters didn’t even attempt a swing!

So far this season, Rea does have an issue throwing strikes as his walks per nine rate is average of 3.57 is considered poor by FanGraphs MLB standards but MLB hitters have to be prepared to aggressively swing at fastballs early in an at-bat regardless of a pitchers past control issues.

2.  Jacob deGrom (L, 3-1) 5.0 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 2 SO, 1 BB

Jacob deGrom’s outing is simple to breakdown.  He produced a strong overall strike rate of 68% and a strong 27.8% whiff/miss rate with his slider.  Unfortunately, a few of his pitches caught the middle third of home plate resulting in Wil Myers’ home run, Brett Wallace’s double, Derek Norris’ double and Rea’s RBI single.

Two positives from deGrom’s outing were:

  1. Although his pitches caught too much of the plate, he kept his pitches down in the strike zone (thigh-high and below)
  2. His fastball velocity was up from previous starts, averaging 94.2 mph while maxing at 96.4

3.  Logan Verrett 2.0 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 SO, 0 BB

Logan Verrett didn’t pitch as poorly as his stat line may suggest.  He made two mistakes on two-strike pitches, hanging a slider to Norris ending up in the left field bleachers and a hanging curveball to Jemile Weeks for a seeing eye single.  All other pitches showed good command low in the strike zone.

In case you missed it, the second run scored on a bloop single to left field.  Michael Conforto dove to catch the ball but instead deflected it twenty feet from himself.  He rushed his throw into second base in an effort to throw out the batter runner causing a throwing error allowing the unearned run to score.

4.  Ninth Inning Homers

Curtis Granderson hit a man-bomb to center.  Yoenis Cespedes hit an absolute laser into the left field bleachers.

5.  Kevin Plawecki Ground Out Every At-Bat

Catcher Kevin Plawecki looks over matched every time he steps into the batter’s box.

According to FanGraphs, Plawecki is 14th in MLB in groundball percentage at 62.1%, meaning 62.1% of all his contact made ends up on the ground (minimum 40 plate appearances).

Stat of the Night

Via SNY broadcast – the Mets pitching staff has allowed the third fewest base runners in MLB but have allowed the most stolen bases.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets insight going beyond statistics.

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Terry Collins Did What He Needed To Change The Narrative http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/terry-collins-did-what-he-needed-to-change-the-narrative.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/terry-collins-did-what-he-needed-to-change-the-narrative.html/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 23:32:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=209624 terry collins

I know this was already addressed on MMO in an article by John Delcos, but I have a somewhat different take on the issue, and that’s what makes this site so special anyway – the wide range of opinions on so many different Mets matters.

So Terry Collins knows his team plays hard and knows the effort his group of 25-players put forth in every game. It’s akin to a proud parent supporting his or her child, sticking up for them even when they’re not at their best.

The difference, obviously, is that Collins manages a group of professional athletes, a team that made it all the way to Game 5 of the World Series last season, and knows they have a window to win right now.

After the Mets 2-1 victory Wednesday afternoon against the Miami Marlins, Collins asserted that the game was essentially a must-win – an odd thing to say eight games into a 162 game season.

“This was a game we had to have,” Collins said. “We couldn’t sacrifice another game. I felt we needed to win this game to get ourselves going again.”

Collins’ post-game press conference revealed a lot about the mindset he has after a rough opening week where his team lost back to back series against the Phillies and Marlins.

He spoke about his usage of Jim Henderson three times in four days, including in back-to-back games and after tossing a career-high 34 pitches the night before. He talked about bringing in his closer Jeurys Familia for a five out save. He explained why David Wright was playing in a day game after a night game when the plan was to give him those games off.

Clearly game eight of the 2016 season wasn’t just an early game in April for Collins.

“You know, I’m not deaf and I’m not blind. I listen,” Collins said. “I see how people are reacting. I hear what’s going on. I’m not a lot of managers—I read between the lines at what’s being said. This team is dedicated. We’ve gotten off to a slow start—it’s part of the game! I just thought it was important today for our fan base to stay excited. I thought it was a game we should win.”

Collins was referring to a relentless and impatient media that knows how to fire up a very passionate fan base that has bemoaned the early offensive struggles; not hitting with runners in scoring position, the batting order, and some early season struggles from Matt Harvey and Steven Matz.

Collins has seen the constant negative headlines in the daily papers, and understands the pressures and circumstances that take place when you’re managing a New York team. Fans are passionate and obsessive with how their team fares, so when a season with very high expectations begins with a 2-5 record, a four-game losing streak and the risk of being swept by the Marlins at home, things understandably can get radioactive.

Collins signed a two-year extension with the Mets this past offseason, but of course there’s never a guarantee that he’ll live out the entirety of his contract. Especially with the heightened expectations the Mets now have. Many fans would feel that anything less than a return appearance into the World Series would be a disappointment.

jeurys familia

Which brings us back to Wednesday’s game. Collins has been in baseball for over forty-years, and knows when particular situations call for certain moves. Which is why, he explained, he brought Familia in for a five out save.

“It was quite obvious from how we finished the game—bringing in Jeurys in that particular situation. I thought it was a huge game for us. I thought it was a game we had to win.”

When the question was asked whether Collins would’ve brought Familia in for the same save situation if the Mets were 5-2 instead of 2-5 heading into play today, Collins admitted that he would’ve done things differently.

“I would have never have done it,” Collins said. “Never have done it. He would have pitched the ninth inning and the ninth inning only.”

Once the Mets got the lead in the bottom of the 7th off the bat of Kevin Plawecki’s two-run single, Collins had to envision Familia coming in to pitch in the eighth inning. With Jerry Blevins facing left-handed hitters in Ichiro and Christian Yelich to open the eighth, it made sense for Familia to come in to face right-handed slugger Giancarlo Stanton. And after Stanton’s turn in the lineup, Familia would be facing three more right-handed hitters minus first-baseman Justin Bour.

The move paid off, as Familia worked around back-to-back singles from Prado and Bour in the eighth, and worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, earning his second save of the season.

Collins knew the Mets had to walk away with a win today, especially with the off day on Thursday and the team flying to Cleveland to play three over the weekend against the Indians.

If the Marlins had swept the Mets, more panic would’ve set in from a New York media that’s always looking to rile up the the fan base. The headlines today would’ve been relentless and they would’ve had a field day at our team’s expense.

Collins made sure to address the topic of the team’s morale and wanted to let the fans know that his team will fight through adversity.

“The one thing I will tell you is that we don’t panic. OK? We don’t show any panic,” Collins said. “But I also want them to know that we’re trying to win here. “I just thought we had to send a message to leave this home stand—our opening home stand—that we can win some games.”

As has been mentioned a lot on MMO, it is way too early in the season to start panicking over eight games. But it’s worth noting that the schedule will only get tougher for our Mets, as we’ve yet to face the Nationals, Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs.

Stringing together a few wins would give this team the confidence, and hopefully the swagger we saw after the trade deadline last season, where they knew they could win every night.

Collins handled the end of the game like it was Game 7 of the World Series, true. But he got the win, he changed the narrative, and begins a long nine-game road trip on a positive note. LGM

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Syndergaard Impresses Early At Spring Camp http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/syndergaard-impresses-early-at-spring-camp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/syndergaard-impresses-early-at-spring-camp.html/#comments Sat, 27 Feb 2016 04:00:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206870 noah syndergaard

Yoenis Cespedes’ flashy array of high end cars might have been the talking point outside Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, but the mid-90s fastball being tossed effortlessly Thursday morning was the talk inside of camp.

Noah Syndergaard’s live batting-practice session was the talk of Mets camp on Thursday, as selected Minor Leaguers stood in the batter’s box to simulate game action. The nickname “Thor” is perfect to describe Syndergaard, who stands at 6’6” with his golden hair flowing from his Mets cap. And while this Thor doesn’t wield a magical hammer, he does possess a golden arm, which he described as being in mid-season form after he retired his final batter.

thor syndergaard glove“I wish I really knew the answer to why I feel like I’m already in midseason form,” Syndergaard said. “I kind of shocked myself how good I feel so early in Spring Training.”

This is the first year that Syndergaard enters camp with a guaranteed spot in the rotation, and that peace of mind seems to give him a kind of swagger and the  right amount of cockiness he needs to continue to blossom into one of the best pitchers in the game.

When asked about his expectations for this upcoming season, Syndergaard offered this blunt assertion,

“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like this year,” Syndergaard said. “I think we’re going to go back to the World Series and win it all.”

Along with his mound presence and dominating repertoire, fans have flocked to Syndergaard for statements like that. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and is clearly enjoying every second of being a part of this once in a generation rotation. And while he seems pegged as the number three starter in the rotation, many scouts feel that he has the best stuff on the staff.

What’s exciting is that Syndergaard should be able to throw well over 200 innings this year. Including the playoffs and minor leagues, Syndergaard pitched 198 2/3 innings last season, which was 63 2/3 more than he’s ever thrown professionally. While that’s a considerable increase in workload, Syndergaard’s tremendous build and fluid pitching motion seem to give him an edge in terms of preventing future injury.

Syndergaard Noah

And we’ve only witnessed a very small sample of what he can accomplish. To put into context what Syndergaard accomplished last year, I looked at several comparable rookie seasons of other hard-throwing right-handers.

Regular Season Stats:

Syndergaard: 9-7 3.24 ERA 150 IP 166 K 114 ERA+ 1.047 WHIP

Justin Verlander: 17-9 3.63 ERA 186 IP 124 K 125 ERA+ 1.328 WHIP

Kevin Brown: 12-9 3.35 ERA 191 IP 104 K 119 ERA+ 1.241 WHIP

Roger Clemens: 9-4 4.32 ERA 133.1 IP 126 K 97 ERA+ 1.313 WHIP

Syndergaard’s numbers clearly hold well against the other three righties. I expect his strikeout totals to also keep rising, as he’s working on adding a fourth pitch to his arsenal, a slider. Looking further into his strikeout numbers, last year he averaged exactly 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. Clayton Kershaw, last year’s strikeout leader, didn’t average 10 strikeouts until 2014, his 7th year in the bigs. Felix Hernandez has never averaged 10 per 9.

Kevin Plawecki was his catcher on Thursday in Florida, and was taken aback by how free and easy Syndergaard was throwing, especially considering how early in camp it is.

“I was telling him that his command was in midseason form, his off-speed was midseason form,” Plawecki said. “He had good break in his breaking ball. His slider was really good. A couple of changeups he pushed a little bit, but he made the adjustment. He came back and threw some great ones at the end.”

Teammates were watching in awe as Syndergaard tossed his 25 pitch session, even drawing owner Fred and Jeff Wilpon over to catch a glimpse. “That ball is moving two feet,” manager Terry Collins said as he watched with delight. Come April, fans too will watch in awe and delight when they’ll flock to Citi Field to catch their own glimpse of Thor, armed with their plastic faux hammers in hand.

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D’Arnaud and Plawecki To Get Exposure At Other Positions This Spring http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/darnaud-and-plawecki-to-get-exposure-at-other-positions-this-spring.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/darnaud-and-plawecki-to-get-exposure-at-other-positions-this-spring.html/#comments Sat, 05 Dec 2015 15:31:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201636 plawecki-darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were the two main catchers for the Mets in 2015, with d’Arnaud being the team’s starter and the rookie Plawecki his backup.

D’Arnaud has proven himself as an established player and Plawecki is expected to follow suit as well despite some growing pains in 2015. As a result, the Mets are trying to figure out a way to get both players in the lineup on some occasions next season.

During the GM Meetings last month, assistant GM John Ricco told reporters that the team had no plans to trade either catcher.

“Catching is a position where you can’t have enough depth,” Ricco said. “And we have two guys we think are frontline catchers, but I think there’s ways for us, especially in the short term, to make use of both of them. The short answer is I don’t think we’ll be talking about either one of them in trades because they are both going to help us win.”

On Friday, Ricco added some more clarity to the situation and told reporters that both d’Arnaud and Plawecki are likely to get some exposure to other positions during spring training which begins in February.

“We’ve had some talk about that, because we have two players we like a lot, and we think they’re going to be good hitters. And we’d love to have them both on the field,” said Ricco. (ESPN New York)

“But in terms of the specifics of that, we’ll have plenty of discussions with Terry Collins. And, ultimately, that will be his decision as to where he plays those guys. But we like both of them, and we’re going to want to try to get them both as much playing time as possible.”

D’Arnaud, 26, hit .268 with 12 homers and 41 RBI last season and played in just 67 games due to injuries. Plawecki, 24, played in 73 games, hitting just .219 with three homers and 21 RBI.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I would imagine that first base and left field would be the two positions the Mets are considering as far as getting TDA and Plawecki some added exposure to in the Spring. But at the same time, I wouldn’t expect both players to be in the same lineup all that much next season unless the Mets have plans to carry three catchers which I don’t envision at this time.

Still, nothing wrong with making both catchers a little more versatile. It may prove valuable sometime in the future. For now however, I hope they get a chance to work on improving defensively as catchers this Spring in all areas ranging from blocking pitches to throwing out would-be base stealers.

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Mets Not Looking To Deal d’Arnaud or Plawecki http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-not-looking-to-deal-darnaud-or-plawecki.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-not-looking-to-deal-darnaud-or-plawecki.html/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2015 07:02:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199316 plawecki-darnaud

I wanted to update this post in which I argued that the Mets should not trade either of their two young catchers for the reasons I outlined below.

The question came up last night at the Boca Raton Hotel and Resort, the site of the GM Meetings. Assistant GM John Ricco was asked if the team was considering dealing one of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki

“Catching is a position where you can’t have enough depth,” Ricco said Tuesday. “And we have two guys we think are frontline catchers, but I think there’s ways for us, especially in the short-term, to make use of both of them.”

“The short answer is I don’t think we’ll be talking about either one of them in trades, because they are both going to help us win.”

Ricco also said there have been no discussions about moving either player to a different position, even on a part-time basis. But if the situation warrants it because both players are playing at high level it will be considered. “I don’t think we feel the urgency at all,” Ricco said.

“Kevin is still learning and developing. And Travis still has yet to show that he can be a healthy guy for a full year… If they’re both playing at an elite level and they’re kind of tripping over each other and it’s a situation where there’s resentment, then I think you think about it longer.”

November 10

Are the Mets going to move one of their catchers? That gets asked a lot these days, and I understand the reasoning behind it, but I consider the likelihood of that happening very unlikely and illogical as well.

Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were the two main catchers for the Mets in 2015, appearing in 140 of the season’s 162 games. D’Arnaud is undoubtedly the team’s number one catcher, but due to a pair of prolonged injuries, Plawecki was pushed into a lot of playing time as the primary backup last season.

D’Arnaud batted .268 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 239 at-bats last season, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect 30 doubles, 25 homers and 80 RBI in a healthy season. His .821 OPS and 129 OPS+ rank him in the top five among all catchers.

At 26-years old, I cannot see an offensive-starved team like the Mets tossing in the towel and trading d’Arnaud to fill a need in the infield or bullpen. His value is exponentially higher to the Mets than it is in trade mostly due to the injury history. But if there’s a better example of a high reward/risk player for the Mets I’d like to see it.

While the Mets were pleased with Kevin Plawecki, who hit .219 with three homers and 21 RBI in 73 games, last season, there were some legitimate concerns, and nobody would put him on the same level as Travis d’Arnaud as an offensive player. Not even close.

Still, as a backup, Plawecki more than qualifies for the job, and as a tandem the Mets are in good shape behind the plate with their young backstops. If there’s one quibble, it’s with TDA defensively and mostly limited to throwing runners out at second base.

Clearly there’s room for improvement, and I’m hearing that d’Arnaud is going to focus more on blocking the plate and being in position to throw to second with runners on base, while easing up on his intense pitch-framing focus which some in the organization see as the culprit.

There’s been on-again, off-again talk of moving one of them to a different position, but GM Sandy Alderson downplayed it.  ”We’ll see how that sorts out over the course of the offseason. But I don’t think we’re anxious to run either one of them out of that catching position.”

But getting back to the debate of trading one of d’Arnaud or Plawecki, let me leave you with this.

1. Did Kevin Plawecki show you enough in nearly a half season of games that he can adequately step in as the number one catcher and replace d’Arnaud’s offensive value to the lineup?

2. Are you so confident that Travis d’Arnaud can give you 140 games next season, that you’ll peddle away Plawecki for a similarly valued middle reliever or bench option?

If the answers to those two questions are no, then there;s your answer on whether the Mets should deal one of them. I just don’t see the logic in moving either of these players with their value to other teams so much lower than their value to us.  And moving a potential 25 HR and 80 RBI bat while you’re trying to replace the loss of Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy is about as ridiculous an idea as you can get.

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Mets Part Ways With Wilfredo Tovar and Anthony Recker http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/wilfredo-tovar-and-anthony-recker-both-outrighted-from-40-man-roster.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/wilfredo-tovar-and-anthony-recker-both-outrighted-from-40-man-roster.html/#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2015 18:42:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=199383 anthony recker

Middle infielder Wilfredo Tovar and catcher Anthony Recker cleared waivers and were both outrighted by the New York Mets on Thursday. The move cleared two spots on the 40-man roster.

Tovar was hitting .283 in 102 games for Triple-A Las Vegas but he had a concussion early in the season. It’s not clear if he will be ready to play next season but this move will take him off the New York Mets 40-man roster.

Recker made 32 appearances with the Mets at catcher this season and was mainly a backup catcher to Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

He failed to have at least 100 at-bats in a season for the first time since 2012, mainly because of the emergence of Plawecki. He has the option to enter free agency this offseason but he likely won’t get much interest after hitting only .125/.213/.235 in 80 at-bats this season.

The Mets added reliever Josh Smoker to the 40-man roster on Thursday, and are expected to add outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo in the next day or two. The roster currently stands at 38.

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Mets Announce First Wave Of September Call-Ups http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/mets-announce-first-wave-of-september-call-ups.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/08/mets-announce-first-wave-of-september-call-ups.html/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 03:55:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=191550 kevin plawecki 1

The New York Mets announced that catcher Kevin Plawecki, infielder Eric Campbell and outfielders Eric Young Jr. and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will join the team on Tuesday from Triple-A Las Vegas when major league rosters expand.

Sandy Alderson also said on Friday that RHP Erik Goeddel will be activated from the DL on September 1st.

Goeddel pitched very well for the Mets to start the year with a 1.96 ERA and 1.043 WHIP in 23 innings before going down with elbow soreness in June. After struggling in the start of his rehab for St. Lucie (4 runs in 4.2) he has been good for Binghamton pitching four scoreless innings with five strikeouts. He has allowed three hits and a walk for the B’Mets while hitting 94 MPH on the gun in his last two outings.

Nieuwenhuis was hitting well in his 11 games since returning to the Mets batting .317/.404/.634 with four doubles, three homeruns, and ten RBI before going on the disabled list with a pinched nerve. Kirk has kept swinging the bat well hitting .342/.366/.526 since rejoining the Las Vegas 51′s on August 17th in his rehab assignment.

Plawecki was sent down on August 11th when the Mets decided Travis d’Arnaud was able to play everyday. He was hitting .228/.283/.296 for the Mets in 62 games but drew praise for his defense and the Mets were 31-27 when he started. He did also play one game at first base for the Las Vegas 51′s.

Dario Alvarez will also be back at some point, however Josh Smoker will likely not be promoted since the Mets do not want to put him on the 40-man roster yet.

Alvarez was called up last week for some bullpen depth and was sent back down on Monday without throwing a pitch. He has been dominant over his last 24.2 innings combined for Binghamton and Las Vegas allowing only one run while striking out 39 in that span. He has shut lefties down all year holding them to .118/.241/.176 slash line and could render Eric O’Flaherty useless.

Smoker has been a great story in the Minors Leagues for the Mets after signing in Spring Training and pitching very well in 37 games with three different affiliates. He is in Binghamton right now where he has pitched 17.2 innings striking out 23 with a 2.04 ERA and 1.132 WHIP.

Lefties have actually hit Smoker better this year with a .613 OPS compared to a .537 OPS by righties. This is partially due to the fact that Smoker’s best secondary pitch is his split change. He has been hitting 96/97 MPH with his fastball and been working on a slider to help him be more effective against lefties.

(Updated 8/30)

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If It Happens, Mets Seem Well Equipped To Usher In The DH http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/if-it-happens-mets-seem-well-equipped-to-usher-in-the-dh.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/if-it-happens-mets-seem-well-equipped-to-usher-in-the-dh.html/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 13:30:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=181004 kevin plawecki first hr

Designated Hitter. The concept invokes a variety of opinions, however, the majority of National League baseball fans view it unfavorably. There’s great arguments on both sides, it would benefit the game in many ways and certainly add more excitement.

However, it would also mark the end of a tradition that has held strong for decades, despite the urging of many due to the potential gains in marketability and subsequent consumer demand.

Personal preference aside though, let’s say for a hot minute that the DH was instituted next year. How does that impact the decisions currently facing the front office, the pitching staff and ultimately, our two prized young catchers?

The Mets have excellent pitching depth, both in the majors and down on the farm. Top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are hard throwing, high strikeout pitchers and by this time next year, they could both be regulars in the rotation alongside Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. Now, there’s a lot that has to go right in order for this to come full circle, but the window for skepticism is closing rapidly. Thor and Matz have been lights out in a hitter’s haven. Harvey and deGrom have dominated long enough to prove they’re for real and Wheeler turned a major corner before tearing his elbow.

The point? Looking towards the future with the addition of the DH, the Mets stand the best chance at weathering the uptick in offense. Every team will have some concerns in regards to how their staff will be affected, but the Mets are sitting pretty in that category right now.

Travis, d'Arnaud

Adding the DH could also enable the Mets to keep both of their young catchers, something that’s already being debated quite passionately in Mets circles of late.

The idea of keeping both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki on the same National League team, long term, without a DH- is wasteful. Both players are highly coveted and unless the Mets can find a way to get both players in the same lineup regularly, it probably  makes sense to trade one of them while they’re still young, just entering their power curve, and having nice value.

The possibility of a first base/catching platoon once existed for TDA and Plawecki, but Lucas Duda has since gone Hulk on the entire league, all but guaranteeing himself  a contract extension after the 2015 season.

In a world where the DH exists though, the Mets have the potential to pair up an unrivaled catching tandem with an unfathomably potent pitching staff.

Offensively, the team would benefit from a boost in run support. TDA and Plawecki both have explosive bats and this has always pushed their value beyond today’s offensive expectations from a catcher.

D’Arnaud was one of the best hitters in the National League prior to his injury and Plawecki has already started breaking out early in his rookie campaign.

There’s always good reason to hold on to what we know, to embrace tradition, but the Mets are entering a new chapter in the organization’s history, aimed at achieving perennial success.

The front office did an excellent job drafting and acquiring plenty of young position talent with high offensive upside and now, a good portion of that talent is ready to contribute.

At some point, hopefully soon enough so that both catchers will still be in Flushing, the National League will yet again be faced with a decision to incorporate the DH. The Mets, previously, had only their young pitching to build a future around with the hope that even a near return to October baseball would boost revenue streams high enough to buy another bat. As someone who has held strong in the belief that pitchers should hit, I find myself torn as a fan who is tired of seeing this team endure annual offensive droughts with little hope that a blockbuster trade will bring a superstar to Queens.

Everyone collectively held their breath through the developmental stages of d’Arnaud and Plawecki. The odds that both turned out as projected were decent, but now, the Mets have had a glimpse of what both players are truly capable of both behind the plate and at it. The Mets have themselves a pair of very solid hitters who can both evolve into impact players. The kind of players you want to keep. The DH would allow both d’Arnaud and Plawecki to each rack up about 550 at-bats while keeping them fresh behind the plate.

As a whole, the Mets have the pieces they need to be a high powered offense, with emerging talent already here and some top prospects knocking at the door. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll produce an offense just as prized as their pitching.

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3 Concerns and 3 Positive Takeaways From Marlins Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-concerns-and-3-positive-takeaways-from-marlins-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-concerns-and-3-positive-takeaways-from-marlins-series.html/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 18:46:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180403 cuddyer duda murphy

3 Concerns To Keep An Eye On

1. Defense Holding On By A Thread

The Mets are 5-7 on the road this year and the middle infield defense has played a large part in those results. Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy have shown signs of life at the plate, but aside from a few long balls, their offensive contributions have done little to erase their defensive woes. The truth is that both players will have to exceed their projected offensive ceilings in order to combat the negative impact they’re on pace to generate with their gloves.

Flores has hit three home runs and all have been clutch, but in the 17 games he’s played where he didn’t hit a home run? He’s a .214 hitter with only 1 extra base hit and 1 RBI to go with a handful of fielding errors and blown throws on a number of routine plays.

And Daniel Murphy? The argument lately has been that he leads the team in RBI’s (14), but consider this. Murphy generated 9 of those RBI’s in just 3 games this year in which the team went 2-1. In the other 19 games he’s played on the season? He’s a .164 hitter with 6 runs scored and only 5 RBI’s, despite an excellent 13-6 record by the team. Looking at that sample, it’s difficult to justify Murphy’s production as a necessity.

2. Plawecki Has Quite A Workload

Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki, right? Trade one, keep one, right? I think the Mets are on the precipice of something special with this catching tandem. Behind the plate, Plawecki has been very impressive. The transition from d’Arnaud to the rookie Purdue product has been nearly seamless, however, he’s struggling at the plate.

In the minors, Plawecki profiled as a high contact hitter with a level, compact, line drive swing. So far, he’s employed that same swing, but he’s struggled to make contact at a high rate, strike out 5 times in 7 games and posted a .231 average. It’s unfair to ask a rookie catcher to step in immediately and replace the production of a red hot Travis d’Arnaud, but the Mets were really banking on that in order to remain competitive. Plawecki will eventually pick it up, but the learning curve may be too steep for what the team needs at the moment.

3. What To Make Of Montero

Not that long ago, Rafael Montero was considered a top propsect for the NY Mets. In terms of the future, his name was penciled in with the likes of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler as the next generation of young power pitchers. Since his debut last year, Jacob deGrom emerged as the real elite pitching prospect and Montero has been on a roller coaster ride between the bullpen and starting rotation. Now, he once again finds himself in the minors after a lackluster start against the Marlins on Tuesday.

When the team enters it’s second phase of the sixth man rotation, will Montero be called up again, or will we finally see one of the two names we’ve all been waiting for (i.e. Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz)?

3 Positives Takeaways

1. Duda Is Making Adjustments – Still Raking

Lucas Duda is the main cog in this Mets lineup. He hits for average, hits for power, gets on base, plates runs, scores runs, etc. Recently, opposing pitchers have relied heavily on their change-ups to neutralize the left-handed power threat, but the effect has been similar to robbing Peter to pay Paul. In the Miami series, Duda went 2-9 at the plate (.222), but drew 4 walks, scored two runs and plated an RBI.

The major issue with Duda last year was that, either he produced astronomical numbers, or there was complete fall out and he added nothing. There will be periods of adjustment for any feared hitter, especially in a lineup as empty as the Mets. However, Duda also posted a .462 OBP in the Marlins series to go with those 4 walks and the return of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud should hopefully make better use of that plate discipline.

Essentially, Duda has bought into the team’s offensive philosophy and either drove in runs off of pitches he can hit, or drawn walks when the opposition chooses to avoid him. He can’t drive in everything, the players behind him have to pick it up as well.

2. Lagares Is Swinging The Bat Real Well

Juan Lagares is hot at the plate and his batting average and on base percentage are shooting upwards because of it. The 26 year old gold glover has continued to eat up extra base hits and flash massive range in the outfield, but with the team struggling to produce runs, his presence at the plate will be crucial.

If Lagares can get on base and into scoring position ahead of Duda, the Mets may find the offensive catalyst they’ll need until Wright and d’Arnaud make a healthy return.

3. The Grandy Man Can

Over his last nine games, Curtis Granderson is batting .333/.405/.545 with a home run, 7 runs scored and 5 RBI’s. His ability to draw walks and high pitch counts out of the lead off spot have proven valuable during what would otherwise be deemed a horrid slump for the veteran outfielder, but his recent outburst has been a welcomed sight. He’ll need to sustain this outburst in order for the Mets to win.

Look for Granderson to lead the charge with Duda and Lagares as the Mets look to put a beat down on the Nationals back in Flushing.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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MMO Morning Grind: Three Takeaways From Mets 11-3 Start http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-morning-grind-three-takeaways-from-mets-11-3-start.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-morning-grind-three-takeaways-from-mets-11-3-start.html/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=179639 plawecki flores

The league-leading, red-hot Mets won their ninth straight game in a row to move to 11-3 on the season – the best record in baseball. Here are Three Takeaways from the game last night.

1. The Mets are CAPITALIZING on other teams’ mistakes.

mmo feature original footerThere has been much talk from fans and broadcasters alike about how many errors have been committed against the Mets early in the season. Are teams making mistakes against the Mets? Yes. But teams didn’t play flawless ball against us from 2009-2014, and the Mets didn’t make much noise during that time. The difference isn’t that every opposing fielder has suddenly turned into Dan Uggla on the field, it’s that the Mets are capitalizing on the mistakes of their opponents, who had been doing the same to the not-so-Amazin’s for the last six years. The Mets loaded the bases with none out early against Trevor Cahill and they got four runs out of it, thanks in part, but not entirely, to an Atlanta error. You need a bit of luck to win, whether it’s a soft pop-up to left turning into a ground-rule double or a couple tough plays inexplicably being too tough for fielding maestro Andrelton Simmons. But when a lucky break cracks the door open, you need to be good to burst through that door. Nine in a row? I think it’s safe to say the Mets have been good.

2. Next Man Up

When one guy (or two, or three) goes down, the next man up has to come through. The Mets have been answering the call all season, with Jeurys Familia racking up the saves in place of Jenrry Mejia, Eric Campbell producing in David Wright‘s absence, and Jerry Blevins pitching perfectly place of Josh Edgin. When Blevins was done in by a line drive to his now-fractured pitching arm on Sunday, gloom and doom started to set in, aided and abetted by the subsequent injury to Travis d’Arnaud. But Alex Torres filled Blevins’ shoes tonight, striking out Freddie Freeman in a huge spot in the sixth. Strike three ended up in a mitt belonging not to d’Arnaud, but to Kevin Plawecki, called up to replace the injured catcher. Plawecki had himself a heck of a Major League debut, showing why he entered the season as the Mets’ #2 prospect. Plawecki notched two hits, hit another one very hard (but right at Freeman), and showed off his strong arm by gunning down a runner at second. The Mets have been special so far this season, but injuries will still happen. Will the Mets continue to find solutions when problems arise? They should. The good teams do.

3. Niese is in a groove

Jon Niese isn’t Matt Harvey. He doesn’t need to be. Harvey and deGrom are an awesome punch at the top. But Niese is sporting an ERA of 1.50, which sure isn’t bad for a guy who doesn’t even have a clear right to the “#3″ title over Bartolo Colon. Ron Darling said during the game that the Mets’ starting pitchers should have a “seven innings or bust” mentality. Jon didn’t quite get there as he exited after 6.2, but if he can give the Mets six innings of three-run ball every night, he’s filling the role of a capable #3. If he’s giving them six-plus and only giving up one run, those are #2 numbers at least. Zack Wheeler‘s injury before the season took some of the upside out of this rotation, but if their #3 and #4 guys are pitching like #2s (I won’t expect Jon to keep up that superstar-level 1.50 mark), this team will continue to keep rolling, even when the bats don’t back the hurlers with seven runs).

This team is on fire. Enjoy it, guys.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 7, Braves 1 (Nine In A Row!!!) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-braves-1-nine-in-a-row.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-braves-1-nine-in-a-row.html/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 02:26:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=179636 plawecki flores

The New York Mets extended their winning streak to 9 games after defeating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 at Citi Field on Tuesday evening.

Pitching:

Starter Jonathon Niese went 6.2 strong innings, allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5. The only run came on a solo home run off the bat of center fielder Cameron Maybin. Niese improves to 2-0 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 1.50 on the season.

Niese was relieved by Erik Goeddel who walked the only batter he faced on four pitches. The ball was taken from him and given to lefty Alex Torres to face Freddie Freeman, who he subsequently struck out looking with a 93 mph fastball on the inside corner.

Carlos Torres bounced back nicely from a rough outing by pitching a perfect inning, recording a strikeout. Lefty Sean Gilmartin took the mound for the 9th. After giving up a base hit to the first batter, he induced a double play, then got Cameron Maybin to pop up to Lucas Duda to end the game.

plawecki first mlb hit

Offense:

Congratulations to Kevin Plawecki who went 2-4, recording his first two major league hits and scoring two runs. In his first at bat, he hit a screaming line drive right at Freddie Freeman, but he showed he can also hit it where they ain’t. He should serve as a fantastic stop-gap until Travis d’Arnaud comes back. Congratulations again to him.

Curtis Granderson broke out, going 3-5 with 4 RBIs (his first of the season) while registering his first extra base hit, a ground-rule double.

Juan Lagares went 1-4, his only hit being an RBI single in the 5th inning. Eric Campbell went 1-2 with two walks and two runs scored, as he continues to fill in admirably for captain David Wright.

Notes:

Newcomer Kevin Plawecki not only showed his batting skills, but he handled the pitching staff very well. In the booth, Keith and Ron were lauding him for being aggressive pitching inside. Overall, it was a very impressive debut for Plawecki. If he continues to perform well, the Mets will have an interesting situation when Travis d’Arnaud returns.

Mets starters have the best K/BB ratio in the major leagues. Niese’s 4 walks and 5 strikeouts contradict that, but there is no cause for concern as Niese generally has good command.

The Mets won their 9th straight game, improving their record to 11-3. The only other time the Mets started a season 11-3 was in 1986, and we all know what happened that year. Just sayin’…

On Deck:

The Mets will face the Braves again tomorrow night at Citi Field at 7:10. Dillon Gee (0-1) will face off against Eric Stults (0-1) as the Mets try to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

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Baseball Prospectus Ranks Mets Farm System Fifth Best http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/baseball-prospectus-ranks-mets-farm-system-fifth-best.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/baseball-prospectus-ranks-mets-farm-system-fifth-best.html/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:45:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174938 dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

More good news from Baseball Prospectus, who  ranked all 30 MLB farm systems and placed the Mets at number five. That’s a nice bump from last year’s No. 8 ranking.

“Not the best, but likely the most balanced farm system in all of baseball, the Mets have everything you could want from a group of minor-league players—a potential ace (Noah Syndergaard), a major-league ready, everyday player (Dilson Herrera), an up-the-middle regular (Kevin Plawecki), a next wave of prospects coming behind them (Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz), potential bats with a few years to go (Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto), and young, unproven, high-ceiling talent (Amed Rosario and Jhoan Urena).”

“Not all of these players are going to work out, but the Mets, as an organizational whole, have enough safety nets to continue to refill their major-league roster for the next few years.”

Let the good times roll…

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Who Will Be This Year’s Spring Training Surprise? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/who-will-be-this-years-spring-training-surprise.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/who-will-be-this-years-spring-training-surprise.html/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:00:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174797 matt reynolds

There are a number of young prospects and fringe players who will be fighting for recognition this spring.  Every year, there’s usually one surprise performance that puts a previously unheralded name on the radar.  After all the action wraps up in the Grapefruit League, who will be the player to leave a lingering impression on the minds of Mets brass and fans?

Pitchers and catchers report February 19th and there are a lot of interesting names on that list.  Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz highlight the premier arms vying for a promotion, however, Rafael Montero could always reignite his stock value.  Other invites include Gabriel Ynoa and Dario Alvarez.  Ynoa has been discussed more recently by the front office as an emerging young star and Alvarez played well enough to earn himself a late season promotion from Double-A Binghamton last year.

The most interesting position players without major league experience are mostly non-roster invites.  Guys like Brandon Nimmo I’ve barely seen any live footage off, so seeing his name in a few lineup cards will be fun.  Kevin Plawecki will almost certainly get a healthy share of reps behind the plate and while I’m a fan of Travis d’Arnaud, it’s time the competition between these two heated up.  I think Plawecki has a great spring training and that’s a great problem for the Mets to have.

Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds are two top infield prospects who will have their chances to showcase their middle infield talents .  Cecchini is an intriguing athlete with a ton of upside who, at times, has flashed the potential that made him a coveted draft pick.  Reynolds showed great offensive potential in Triple-A Las Vegas, regardless of the hitter friendly condition he was playing in.  He could very well grab himself a bench spot if he shows enough of an improvement from last year defensively.

If you had to choose one player to be this year’s Spring Training Cinderella, who’re you going with?

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Featured Post: DePodesta Explains Mets Strategy To Improve Farm System http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/featured-post-depodesta-explains-mets-strategy-to-improve-farm-system.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/featured-post-depodesta-explains-mets-strategy-to-improve-farm-system.html/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 01:02:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174082 ny_a_depodesta_sy_576

Mike Vorkunov (NJ.com) recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

* * * * * * * *

As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.

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Law: Mets Have 6 Prospects in Top 100 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/law-mets-have-6-prospects-in-top-100.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/law-mets-have-6-prospects-in-top-100.html/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:56:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173981 michael-conforto-2

Here they are, what you’ve all been waiting for… ESPN’s Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects for 2015 and the Mets had an impressive showing with six players making the cut.

Noah Syndergaard RHP (No. 17)

Syndergaard just keeps chugging along fairly quietly compared to most pitchers who throw 95-plus, getting results while refining his off-speed stuff gradually but consistently. He’s now to the point where he seems like the safest bet of any of the premium pitching prospects on this list. Syndergaard will hold mid-90s into the seventh inning, working with what seems like negative effort, and his changeup is plus at 78-79. His curveball, about a grade-35 pitch when he was first drafted by Toronto in 2010, has advanced to be at least solid-average, showing as a 55 in most outings, playing up in particular because he can throw the pitch for strikes.

His Triple-A stat line was hurt by his home park, a very good environment for hitters, and some generally bad luck, but to the extent that it forced him to continue to refine his command — which is already a strength — the experience won’t hurt him. The Norse God of Velocity is ready for the call to Queens, with the floor of an above-average starter who can carry 200-plus-inning workloads.

Michael Conforto OF (No. 41)

Conforto was the best pure college hitter in the 2014 draft class, with a tremendous combination of feel to hit, an advanced approach and above-average power, but he slipped to the 10th overall pick probably because he’s limited to playing left field, in which he had a rough reputation dating back to his freshman year. He has improved significantly on defense between his reads on balls and his throwing accuracy and now projects as an average or better defender there.

What he truly brings to the table, however, is his bat. He loads a little high and deep, but his hands are quick, so he can get the bat head into the zone quickly, and he rotates his hips well for power from right field out to center. He’s a patient hitter — he led Division I in OBP and walks in the spring and finished fifth in the New York-Penn League in OBP this summer — but he’s not passive. I see him as a fantastic two-hole hitter, posting high averages and OBPs with 20-homer power while adding value with his defense and smart baserunning.

Kevin Plawecki C (No. 45)

Ask anyone in a major league front office about the state of catching in MLB, and you’ll probably get a scatological term in response: There isn’t enough of it to go around, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have one of the dozen or so good ones, you’re constantly looking to upgrade. That means prospects such as Plawecki, a good receiver who can hit and is about ready for the majors, have very high value not just in terms of future production, but also in the trade market. Plawecki, the Mets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue, has great hands behind the plate and should be a strong framer pitchers want to throw to, with a good feel for the softer aspects of catching, such as game-calling. His arm is just average, and I think even with his work ethic, he’ll top out as a 30 percent caught-stealing guy.

At the plate, he might have the shortest swing of anyone in the top 100, very consistent and simple, with strong hands to let him run into a dozen or so homers a year with a slew of doubles. His ability to hit for average should separate him from other catchers — only five regular or semi-regular catchers hit .280 in 2014, and only 14 hit even .260 — with added value from his glove, all boosted by the fact that he could play every day for someone by the middle of 2015.

Dominic Smith 1B (No. 65)

Smith’s superficial stats don’t give Mets fans a lot of confidence in his future, but he actually had a very solid year considering his age, experience and home ballpark. Smith was just 19 years old in Class A Savannah, going to a full-season league less than a year out of high school, whereas other recent Mets first-rounders, such as Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, spent a second summer in short-season ball first. Savannah is a terrible park for left-handed hitters, especially for pull power, so Smith worked on going the other way much of the season, with far more of his extra-base hits going to left than to right. He has grade-70 raw power, but we may not see much of it until he reaches Binghamton late in 2015, or more likely 2016. He’s an excellent defensive first baseman with a 70-grade arm, although defense at that position is secondary to offense. Don’t be alarmed if his home run total is still low in the Florida State League this year, but once he reaches Double-A, I expect Smith to hit double-digit homers and peak at 20-plus per year in the majors, with high batting averages and OBPs north of .350, making him an above-average or better regular at first.

Amed Rosario SS (No. 69)

Rosario was my sleeper prospect for the Mets last year, and the $1.75 million the Mets paid him in 2012 looks like it’s going to more than pay off. Rosario is a toolshed, with athleticism, strength, plus raw power and a laser arm. He’s a true shortstop with very good actions at the position, including soft hands and excellent reads on balls in front him on which he has to come in or in front of the bag. His bat is a blur through the zone, and he keeps his hands inside the ball exceptionally well. His approach is very mature for his age, atypical of an 18-year-old playing with much older competition; he’ll hit the other way and show power there as well, with more than half of his career home runs going out to right-center.

He has broad shoulders and might fill out some but doesn’t project to outgrow the position. He’ll need to be challenged by better pitching, especially pitchers who can locate their off-speed stuff, which he might not see until high Class A or Double-A. Savannah has a brutal park for power, so his superficial stats might not show much progress this year, but if he keeps his contact rate up and works on adjusting to changing speeds, he won’t be there for long.

Brandon Nimmo OF (No. 91)

He profiles as an everyday right fielder between his defense and potential for .380-.400 OBPs, but I’d like to see better results when he puts the ball in play against lefties.

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Not bad, not bad… I was hoping Matz would sneak in but I’m pretty thrilled.

I’ve got some great news for you, Keith Law was kind enough to agree to an interview with our own Tommy Rothman this morning. It’s very in depth and the two of them covered a lot of Mets topics. We’ll be posting it in the morning for you.

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MMO Mailbag: Where Are All Of Sandy’s Draft Picks? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-where-are-all-of-sandys-draft-picks.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-mailbag-where-are-all-of-sandys-draft-picks.html/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:59:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173898 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Devin asks…

Isn’t anyone the least bit concerned that as Sandy Alderson enters his fifth season as GM not one of his draft selections has made it to the majors yet and none are expected to be on the 2015 Opening Day roster? In the MLB Preview they pick Noah Syndergaard, Dilson Herrera and Steven Matz as three Mets prospects to watch in 2015, and neither of them are Sandy’s draft picks either. We’re all hoping to see Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud have breakthrough seasons in 2015, but again, none are Sandy’s draft picks. Take a look at the AL and NL and there are dozens of players from the 2011, 2012 and even the 2013 draft. 38 major leaguers have already come out of the 2011 draft from 28 different teams, none of course from the Mets. This obsession with drafting high risk, high school players in the top rounds hasn’t really worked out for us, has it?

Andre replies…

The upside with high school prospects usually is that they can still be taught and trained in a way that the organization feels confident about. And in general, the majority of drafted impact players in the majors have come from high school and not the college ranks in the past 15+ years or so.

While, the risk may be higher, the upside often is also higher than with college picks. Of course, the aspect of player DEVELOPMENT is far more important with HS or young IFA talent than it is with advanced college players.

Now, the downside is that it generally takes longer to develop HS talent than college players for obvious reasons. So, if you have to be willing and able to give HS picks 4-5 years to develop in general before they reach the majors and probably another year before they have an impact.

A team that´s not able to sport a “large market” high payroll may be more inclined to go after college talent early in a draft during a window of contention than a team with a large market payroll OR during a rebuilding. That of course, is besides taking the best player available early in a draft.

The Mets have – rightfully – focused on HS talent and getting IFA signed that they´re now trying to develop – hopefully with better success than in the two previous decades. The problems of finding a legit young middle infielder ever since Jose Reyes was signed as an IFA in 2000 can directly be traced to both having a sub par development system in place AND not really drafting many – if any – players with a middle infield upside defensively in over a decade (from 2001 through 2011). We have since brought in some high upside talent led by top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario.

And while it remains to be seen if and how successful the “Alderson” drafts have been – and pretty sure Alderson hasn’t really been actively involved in these but at best listened with interest – the fact that none of “his” picks has appeared in the majors isn’t a problem at all. Besides the focus on HS talent, several college players such as Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Cory Mazzoni or Daniel Muno could easily have appeared in the majors already. But mainly due to 40-man roster management and perhaps financial issues, they have been held back so far.

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