Mets Merized Online » LHP Sat, 14 Jan 2017 17:30:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2017 Top 30 Prospects: No. 4 Thomas Szapucki, LHP Wed, 04 Jan 2017 15:30:39 +0000 Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets

Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets

#4 Thomas Szapucki

Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 205 Level: Rookie Kingsport Mets & Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones

B/T: R/L Age: 06/12/1996 (20) Age Dif: -1.4 (w/ Brooklyn)

Acquired: Drafted by the Mets in the 5th Round of the 2015 MLB Draft (149th overall pick)

Last Year: #24

2016 Statistics: 9 G, 52 IP, 4-3 W-L, 1.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .145 BAA, 86/20 K/BB, 2 HR

148 picks had gone by in the 2015 MLB Draft before a local kid from Toms River, New Jersey was selected by the New York Mets in the fifth round for $375,500 out of William T. Dwyer High School in Florida. Thomas Szapucki may not be a household name to all Met fans yet, but he sure will be.

The 20-year-old left-hander entered the 2016 season with just 2.1 innings under his belt as a professional, appearing in three games for the GCL Mets in 2015. While his debut was underwhelming, tossing a third of an inning allowing four runs on four hits with no strikeouts, his next two appearances went much smoother, totaling two innings of one hit ball with three strikeouts.

The Mets sent their heralded young prospect to the fall instructional league to work on the mechanics in his delivery. Szapucki worked on raising his arm to a three-quarters position, which allowed for less stress on his shoulder and arm and improved the velocity on his fastball, which regularly sits in the mid 90s and can reach the upper 90s as well.

The instructional league seemed to do wonders for Szapucki, who entered 2016 with the Kingsport Mets. Luis Rivera, the Kingsport manager, noted how poised he was for his age, adding that Szapucki can have a very bright future because his repertoire plays well.

That bright future was on display for his 2016 debut on June 23 for Kingsport, where Szapucki tossed six-innings of two hit ball, while striking out 13 batters. He struck out the side twice on the night, however, Kingsport fell to Elizabethton 4-3. Sazpucki would go on to make four more starts for Kingsport, allowing no more than two-runs in a game (July 4), and had strikeout totals of six, eleven, eight, and nine.

On July 21, the Mets challenged Szapucki and promoted him to Short-A Brooklyn Cyclones, where he was nearly a year and a half younger than the rest of the competition. He made his Brooklyn debut three days later against the Staten Island Yankees, where Szapucki went 5.1 shutout innings on four hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. His ensuing three starts all registered double-digit strikeouts, however, he would have trouble with command by walking 11 batters in his four Cyclone starts. His season would soon be cut short due to a lower back issue.

Overall, Szapucki’s 2016 season was about as dominant as a 20-year-old could have: a 4-3 record in 52 innings pitched, with a sparkling 1.38 ERA (which would’ve been the lowest ERA among all non-complex short season pitchers had he qualified), and a 0.88 WHIP.

In September, the Mets awarded their young lefty with the Sterling Award for Kingsport, the equal for the Most Valuable Player in each Mets affiliate. Szapucki was one of only two Met pitchers to be honored with a Sterling Award, along with Organizational Pitcher of the Year, P.J. Conlon.

The Mets have become a model in Major League Baseball on developing young, hard-throwing starting pitching. Szapucki is the latest prospect to emerge with a ton of intrigue and excitement, and will continue to work on limiting the walks and utilizing his changeup that he showed off in Brooklyn.

“I’m definitely very happy with how my changeup is progressing,” Szapucki told “Earlier in the year, I didn’t really have a changeup. I mostly just used it for effect and to change the batter’s bat speed. But now, I consider it to be an out pitch.”

Mike M adds - 

It was an unbelievable breakout season for the young lefty that had double digit strikeouts in five of his nine starts and held opponents to a measly .460 OPS.

Szapucki showed off a plus breaking ball in 2016, a sweeping curveball that was tough on lefties and righties alike. The combination of a plus fastball and curveball from the young lefty gives him top of the rotation potential.

2017 Outlook:

Much attention will be placed on Szapucki in 2017, but the future looks once again promising for yet another hard throwing pitcher out of the Mets farm system. He could start the season with the Columbia Fireflies, but it shouldn’t be long before getting promoted to the St. Lucie Mets.


1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

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MMO Game Thread: Mets vs Marlins, 1:10 PM (SNY) Tue, 29 Mar 2016 14:42:02 +0000 sean gilmartin dealing

The New York Mets are back in St. Lucie where they will host the Miami Marlins this afternoon at Tradition Field. Starting in place of Matt Harvey will be left-hander Sean Gilmartin for the Mets, while the Marlins will counter with left-hander Chris Narveson in a 1:10 PM contest.

New York Mets

  1. Curtis Granderson, RF
  2. David Wright, 3B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, CF
  4. Wilmer Flores, 1B
  5. Neil Walker, 2B
  6. Kevin Plawecki, C
  7. Juan Lagares, LF
  8. Matt Reynolds, SS
  9. Sean Gilmartin, LHP

Miami Marlins

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B
  2. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  3. Justin Bour, 1B
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
  5. Martin Prado, 3B
  6. Derek Dietrich, LF
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
  9. Chris Narveson, LHP

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A Postcard From Port St. Lucie Tue, 01 Mar 2016 14:41:11 +0000 Piazza Cespedes

Well honestly folks, it just doesn’t – it could not possibly – get any better than this.  Watching our beloved National League champions go through their paces in the light breeze and 75 degree temperatures of Florida’s Atlantic coast, with the promise of spring and a memorable season dead ahead.  Free of charge.

But wait, that’s not all.  If you send before midnight tonight, we’ll also throw in – our newly minted Hall of Famer schooling our monster La Potencia.

Yes, indeed – Mr. Piazza in a pow-wow with Mr. Cespedes.  It was just the kind of spontaneous moment unique to the ST workouts I have made a priority since the team moved to St. Lucie from St. Petersburg.  (Did I mention you get in for free?)

We knew Mr. Mike was on the schedule for three days, but the coaching was obviously unstaged, with much of it appearing to revolve around YC learning to lay off those high pitches that bedeviled him in the World Series.  Mikey looks mahvelous.  Like he could still launch one 450 feet.  And he was ribbed by fans for refusing to get in the cage.

cespedes conforto

I have long preferred the up close, unscripted and interactive nature of spring training workouts over the essentially meaningless and dull spring training games, when you get to see your main men take a meaningless at bat or two or rehearse from the mound for a couple of innings before hitting the links and leaving us to a bunch of guys with high numbers, some of whom might at some point be intriguing, but most of whom will amount to little.  And you have to pay up to $50 a seat for the privilege.

But at the workouts, you get an intimate look at the players actually being coached, hitting in the cage, pitching on the side, taking fielding practice, doing calisthenics (Bartolo is the most entertaining at that – shocking, huh?) and actually interacting with the two or three hundred fans who are well within earshot.

But beyond that, the beauty of these workouts is all the number of things you see that happen in no other setting and no other time.

On Monday for example, there was Jeurys Familia pitching to Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda et al. (and he looked in almost mid-season form.  Very little contact.)  Those matchups happen only in fantasy leagues.

Of course, there’s the classic spring training ritual – PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice).  (Dario Alvarez needs some work on his throws to bases.)

Yes, you can form your own scouting report on young guys, or new guys you haven’t paid much attention to in the past.  Today, Neil Walker was raking as a righty hitter, leaving me to wonder why his career numbers vs. LHP are so poor.  And our other new switch-hitter who has also struggled against LHP, Asdrubal Cabrera, also showed good power the other way.

You can see certain players from yards away and reminisce – unfortunately for me today, one of the first things I saw upon arrival was Lucas Duda throwing home.  Ouch.  But that was soon offset by a flow of good memories – DW and the fist pump in DC, Jacob and his heroic work vs. LA, Thor and his 60’6” dare, and on and on.

And then there are those plentiful light moments, like Bullpen Coach Ricky Bones loudly ringing up the Captain on a devastating slider from another new guy, Antonio Bastardo.

david wright 2

You can attempt to answer lingering questions.  How, really, is David’s back?  You can assess as he stands, walks, jogs, runs, bats and fields (I was particularly looking at how he bends – encouraging, if you ask me).  Does Lagares looked really slimmed down without those 20 extra pounds?  (for sure – and he even made one of his patented routine/sensational catches circa 2014)

You can see experiments in progress.  Kevin Plawecki was playing 1B with the starters on a side field and looked free and easy there.  I think TDA ought to get some reps there as well, but not today.  I was also able to witness the solid arm, soft glove, slow feet and poor range of Wilmer.

And there are some things that bring to mind the proclivities of certain players, even though they’re not in game situations.  Duda went an entire round in the cage without swinging at a single pitch.

One gets a sense of the almost tribal nature of the workouts, with outfielders, infielders, pitchers and catchers all working and moving about as individual units.

And you see all manner of bottle washers on the field joining the chief cooks.  Overeager low level employees are ubiquitous, presumably intent on not wasting a moment of their time in the sun, literally and figuratively.  Not unlike the privilege a rank and file fan enjoys just being there.

All in all, it’s the five W’s – an experience that makes a…winter’s worth of waiting well worthwhile.


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Featured Post: Six Things To Watch As Mets Begin Spring Training Sat, 20 Feb 2016 17:37:38 +0000 wright flores spring

Spring Training Battles

The Mets head into Spring Training with a team that is pretty much set and ready to go. Barring any injuries or last minute trades, the offense is set around the horn in the infield, the outfield was cemented as Conforto in LF, Cespedes in CF and Granderson in RF after the ink on Yoenis’ new contract dried. About the only thing that will need to be decided is who gets the final two spots in the bullpen after Familia, Bastardo, Reed, Blevins and Robles. In the mix to round out the staff, the Mets will have Erik GoeddelSean GilmartinLogan VerrettRafael Montero, Dario Alvarez and Jim Henderson. Expect to see Terry Collins using them early and often once Grapefruit League games begin. I’m tabbing Goeddel and Henderson as the favorites to lock down those spots.

If At First…

Lucas Duda is firmly entrenched as the everyday first baseman after posting another solid season that saw him collect 33 doubles and 27 homers while posting an impressive 133 wRC+ in in 135 games. But expect him to get his rest in whenever there’s a tough lefty on the mound. Wilmer Flores will likely be the primary backup as he begins his new role as the team’s super utility man. Meanwhile catchers Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud should also get some work at first base this Spring according to GM Sandy Alderson. This isn’t the big issue some are making it out to be, essentially we’re talking about a potential 12-14 starts in a 162 game season.

On Second Thought…

I would be shocked if Flores isn’t in the lineup whenever the team faces a left-handed starter in 2016. Last season, Flores posted a 162 wRC+ vs. LHP and when you compare that to Neil Walker and his 58 wRC+ vs. LHP, the choice is pretty clear. While you shouldn’t expect Terry Collins to come out and say it, expect second base to be a strict platoon between Walker and Flores this season.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

There’s a building undercurrent that the Mets may look to trade outfielder Alejandro De Aza this Spring, but I’m not so sure that will happen. It may be in the team’s best interest to hang onto him until later in the season where they can use him as a trade chip after they identify a potential need. De Aza does give the Mets a solid bat off the bench, speed on the base paths, and insurance in case of injuries. I think he stays put and you’ll see him on the
Opening Day roster.

Wright As Rain…

The Mets are saying that David Wright will not play more than 130 games this season as they look to keep his spinal stenosis in check. Sandy Alderson said this week that both Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker will see some time at third base to spell Wright at third. If the Mets could get the same .289/.379/.434 production that Wright produced in 38 games last season, everyone will be happy. But that’s a big if.

Keeping Those Young Arms Healthy

Especially for the young guns who will comprise the Mets’ starting rotation this season. Nothing is more important than ensuring Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz avoid any sort of aches and pains. All of them are being counted on for 200 innings not counting the postseason. Zack Wheeler is expected to rejoin the rotation around July after completing his rehab from TJS. While there will be no innings limits this season, Sandy Alderson said there will be occasional skipped starts and even the return of the six-man rotation at times to ensure those young arms are as strong in November as they are in April. Oh, and don’t expect anyone to throw Syndergaard’s lunch in the trash this Spring. :-)

Final Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for one of the most fun and exciting seasons the Mets have ever had. I am going into 2016 with the same confidence in this team as I had in 1986 which is pretty cool as we celebrate the 30 year anniversary of that magical World Series championship season. I can’t remember the last time we had a team go into Opening Day with as much balance and talent as this team. The starting pitching is the envy of all baseball and now we not only have an offense that will provide all the run support they’ll need, but we have one of the strongest bullpens in the league. Throw in all the versatility, flexibility and depth, and there are no apparent weaknesses to start the year. It’s important that we stay healthy and break camp with all the key players intact. But the bottom line is that this is going to be an incredibly dominating and memorable season for the Mets, so Getcha Popcorn Ready. LGM

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Collins Says Juan Lagares Is In “Unbelievable Shape” Fri, 19 Feb 2016 11:50:41 +0000 juan lagares

While his role has yet to be defined for the 2016 season, Juan Lagares has already made quite the impression on Terry Collins who was incredibly impressed with how good Lagares looked after he reported to spring training on Thursday.

“Did you see him? Oh my God. Unbelievable shape,” the Mets manager told reporters. “Tremendous shape.”

According to Collins, Lagares is ready to fight for playing time. However, with the return of Yoenis Cespedes as the primary center fielder, and with Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson essentially entrenched in left field and right respectively, playing time will be sparse for Lagares and Alejandro De Aza.

Lagares hit .259 with a .289 OBP and a .647 OPS over 465 plate appearances last season, but against left-handed pitching those numbers improve to a .273 average with a .333 OBP and .771 OPS.

Considering Granderson’s .558 OPS versus LHP, Lagares could find a way to squeeze into the starting outfield when the Mets are facing a southpaw.

Conforto has already been working out in right field in preparation for an alignment that would like Cespedes in LF, Lagares in CF and Conforto in RF versus LHP.

There’s also a chance that De Aza could be dealt this Spring according to GM Sandy Alderson.

The Texas Rangers are reportedly one team that is monitoring De Aza as they seek an outfielder that can give them some insurance in the event Josh Hamilton begins the year on the disabled list.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next four weeks. De Aza is owed $5.75 million, while Lagares is owed $22.5 million over the next four seasons.

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Platooning From A Position of Strength Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:25:10 +0000 2 granderson darnaud

I was watching MLB Network this morning as they did a replay of yesterday’s episode of ‘MLB Now’ with Brian Kenny. Dick Scott, the Mets new bench coach, was on the phone. The questions were about prospects and was there anyone he considered able to assist the major league team this season.

The former Director of Player Development made a great point. While farmhands like Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera might be called up this season, someone like Amed Rosario or Gavin Cecchini could get a September callup and Dominic Smith is a year or two away…there’s just no room in Queens.

This is the first time I can remember when the Amazin’s head into Port St. Lucie with just about everything already locked up. There are no position battles on the horizon and the only true question is who will support Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.

But even as I write that, I realize that there’s maybe two spots available between Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Dario Alvarez and Rafael Montero. And that’s not mentioning the fact that roster spots will eventually be needed for Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Josh Edgin.

Face it Mets fans, we’re rooting for a team with a plethora of major league talent and with more quality position pieces on the horizon.

It’s a roster that’s been assembled to get the best for what’s been paid for it. I’ve willingly altered my opinion on Juan Lagares and his role, accepting that the former Gold Glover will be an exceptional 4th OF in a platoon with Yoenis Cesdepes. But it’s not really a platoon with our big-ticket big bat.

michael conforto 2

The platoon is really with Michael Conforto since he’s projected to sit against LHP, moving Cespedes to his natural position in LF. According to August Fagerstrom’s recent article on FanGraphs, the duo of Lagares and Conforto is the fifth most promising projected platoon.

With Conforto playing 2/3 of the time against righties and Lagares the other 1/3 against lefties, they combine to project a WAR of 2.9, a Defensive Runs Above Average (Def) of 2.0 and a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 107, or seven points above league average.

Now while that 107 is one point less than what Gerardo Parra put up last year, his WAR was a 0.4 and his Def was -22.1. It’s equal to the Braves’ Nick Markakis and while his WAR was 1.6, his Def was -10.8. Long story short, the Mets are getting a better than average outfield with good defense to boot.

Of course, if you read what Sandy Alderson said yesterday on this subject, nothing is written in stone yet on the outfield alignment and both Conforto and Lagares can shift to right field, rendering Curtis Granderson as the one who shifts to the bench against LHP and not the kid. It’s a good problem to have.

But like I said, they were the fifth best projected platoon. Want to guess which pair was No. 1?

Here’s a hint – One is a Pittsburgh native, the other proved last year that he lives and cries for the Orange and Blue.

The newly-acquired Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores are likely to share at-bats at second base this year since according to Fagersrom, Walker “has been 40% better against righties (123 wRC+) than lefties (83) throughout his career”. Between his plummet last year to a 58 wRC+ against LHP and Flores’ .310 batting average and .955 OPS against southpaws, it makes sense we’ll see Wilmer when Walker sits.

Whether Wilmer is playing second at the time is a different matter. He’s going to be asked to play the entire infield and against LHP, Terry Collins might want to sit Lucas Duda since Ruben Tejada has a better glove up the middle.

And while David Wright has a career .340 average with a 1.005 OPS against lefties, he’s going to sit at times in 2016. So Flores at third, Duda at 1st, Cabrera and Tejada up the middle? And I’ve failed to mention if Dilson Herrera comes north with the team. A .400 hitter in 115 ABs against LHP at Las Vegas, maybe he starts at 2nd?

These are the types of problems Collins will have to deal with. Problems from a position of strength, where the wrong answer may only go 1-for-3 instead of 2-for-3. That’s the kind of season we’re optimistically in store for and I can’t wait.


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MMO Fan Shot: How Great It Feels To Be A Mets Fan Tue, 26 Jan 2016 21:58:12 +0000 mets win

An MMO Fan Shot by Austin Smith

At the beginning of the offseason, we were PRAYING to have a payroll around $120 million or at least enough to upgrade the roster as needed and give us a lineup that would compete with the Nationals and complement our rotation. Wrong. With the moves we have made, and Yoenis Cespedes of course falling into our laps because of his strong desire to remain in NY, our payroll is up to a surprising $140 million.

Let that set in for a second. The cheapskate Wilpons, who for years have been pinching every penny they can, stepped up and went all-out for Cespedes. Of course it probably helped that there was tons of pressure from the media and fan base, but still, you have to tip your hat to them.

cespedes gifffer

So most of us fans, myself included, expected us to be done after Alejandro De Aza signing, but this Cespedes deal changes everything. When you plug him in along with the additions of Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo and even bringing back fan favorite Bartolo Colon, wow.

All these moves truly puts us among the top three teams in the NL in my personal opinion, and certainly the best team in the NL East. Also, as important as the Cespedes contract is for us, the big takeaway is we kept him away from the Nationals. That’s huge.

I expect that Cespedes will likely opt-out after the first year and give us a comp pick, but if he doesn’t all the better. He’ll replace Curtis Granderson after next season, and hopefully Brandon Nimmo or Juan Lagares could produce at a well enough level to warrant the center field job and give us an outfield of Michael Conforto in LF, Nimmo or Lagares in CF, and Cespedes in RF. I’ll take it.

Plus, I think we have enough depth in the minors to keep the success we have going for at least another 5-10 years. Our young starting pitchers are being paid pennies for the next 2-4 years comparable to the market rate for their performance levels.

Matz Syndergaard deGrom

After that, Cespedes’ contract will be off the books, and Lucas Duda will be gone in favor of Dominic Smith in a year or two, so I think we will have the financial flexibility to sign at least three of our young guns and maybe even four if any of them give us a hometown discount. And why wouldn’t they, our New York Mets are a hot destination right now.

Okay, enough about the future. Lets look at where we stand for the 2016 season!

Starting Rotation

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon

I see Harvey and deGrom both taking steps forward, but I honestly believe Syndergaard will take the biggest leap of them all. I truly think he is a dark horse for Cy Young (call me crazy). Matz will be an above average southpaw, so long as he can stay healthy. Colon will give us at least average performance until Wheeler is ready. But more than that his leadership, mentoring, popularity, antics, and willingness to swing to the bullpen when needed makes him so valuable. Hopefully Wheeler can be back by mid-June, and I’d be happy if he had a 4.00 ERA, but much happier at around a 3.70. This is baseball’s best rotation.

jeurys familia


  1. Jeurys Familia – Closer
  2. Antonio Bastardo  -Setup
  3. Addison Reed – Setup
  4. Jerry Blevins – Lefty Specialist
  5. Hansel Robles – Middle Reliever
  6. Erik Goeddel – Middle Reliever
  7. Verrett/Montero/Colon – Long Reliever/Swing man (Whoever wins out ST)

Familia will be Familia, top 5 closer in baseball, if he perfects his new pitches he’ll be top 2. Edgin could become of the best LH Relievers in baseball when healthy if you ask me. He dominates LHH and RHH just the same, he’s expected back in May. Love the Bastardo signing, lefty who gets out both LH/RH hitters with a consistent ERA under 3, and can be a solid setup man. Reed had a solid month with the Mets, but I wasn’t too sure he was worth the $6M tender. But after looking at the FA relievers and their price tags, I’m okay with it. Blevins is an absolutely perfect lefty specialist, though he only faced 15 batters last year before breaking his arm .He retired all 15 and has a track record of getting out lefties. Robles is a bit wild, but him and Goeddel should win roles in ST. Both have question marks and big upside, but I think Robles an become a beast. I also love his competitiveness. Also, should some guys flake out, we have some nice backups in Smoker, Morris, etc.

curtis granderson

Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson – RF
  2. Neil Walker – 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes – CF
  4. Lucas Duda – 1B
  5. David Wright – 3B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  7. Michael Conforto – LF
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera – SS

I expect Grandy to produce similar to last year, maybe a tad worse because of age, and he did over perform a little last season. Walker, I expect similar to Murphy numbers with more power vs RHP, but he doesn’t hit LHP very well so vs LHP I’d plug Flores in at 2B because he is a much better defender at 2B than SS, and mashes lefties.

Cespedes won’t do what he did in his two months with us last year, but I do expect him to carry our lineup and produce a .285/.325/.580 line with 30-35 home runs, and better defense in CF than people give him credit for.

People say Duda is inconsistent, but he’s been one of the most consistent first basemen in the majors over the last three years. People say he couldn’t hit lefties (he couldn’t), so he battled and actually hit lefties better than righties in 2015. Just not as many homers, but he evens it out with gap to gap doubles.

We all know Wright is a question mark, but if we can get 125 games from him with the same kind of production he had last season, we are going to be fine. If his injuries catch up, well then we have Flores and Cabrera to take over at third base instead of Campbell and Muno.

D’Arnaud will hopefully stay healthy and produce the way he’s shown he can. I expect 120+ games, .270/.350/.500, and 20-23 homers, not to mention how solid a defensive catcher he is, despite his weak arm.

Conforto will be hitting against RHP which is often, and he’ll get more AB against LHP. He has the look and feel of a future All Star. Lagares, who mashes lefties, should get plenty of work as a defensive replacement and part of a platoon. 

Flores Wilmer


  1. Wilmer Flores – Super Utility
  2. Ruben Tejada – SS/2B/3B
  3. Juan Lagares – CF
  4. Alejandro De Aza – OF
  5. Kevin Plawecki – C

I think De Aza is a fantastic signing. Didn’t think so before the Cespedes deal, but now knowing he’s a 4/5 outfielder, he’s an excellent asset. A .275 career hitter, not a bad defender, speedy, and a .800 OPS against RHP. Having that on the bench is huge, especially in the playoffs. Our entire bench could be starters on other teams. I think that says enough about how good our team looks right now.

Final Thought

An absolutely A+ offseason by Sandy Alderson, and respect to the Wilpons for allowing him to pull the trigger on all of these upgrades especially Cespedes. I am ready to enjoy the Mets dominate the 2016 season from wire to wire. I love everything about this team. I haven’t been this excited to begin a new season in quite some time. Boy, does it feel great to be a Mets fan right now. LGM

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Austin Smith (@NotDwright). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: What Does The Future Hold For Juan Lagares Tue, 26 Jan 2016 19:04:45 +0000 juan lagares safe
An MMO Fan Shot by Avi Gelboim

Lost in the excitement of the Yoenis Cespedes signing has been the impact on former fan favorite and gold glove center fielder Juan Lagares.

Lagares, who is entering his age-27 season, is under team control for the next four years (2016 – 2019) at an affordable $23 million with a fifth year team option (2020) for $9.5 million or a $500 K buyout.

During 2013-2014 Lagares had arguably the greatest two year defensive span in Mets history, combining for an incredible 40.1 UZR and 54 Defensive Runs Saved over just 220 games. In 2014 Lagares also took a step forward offensively, showing a knack for contact with a .281 AVG, swiping 13 bases, and beating up LHP to the tune of an .875 OPS. Lagares entered last season as the Mets undisputed everyday center fielder and was widely considered to be a star on the rise.

But 2015 was not kind to Juan. He regressed offensively, posting a weak .647 OPS while walking just 16 times over 465 plate appearances. More surprising was his defensive regression, which resulted in a mediocre 3.5 UZR and 2 Defensive Runs Saved over 139 games. Rumors abounded of a serious elbow injury and even possible Tommy John surgery.

A bad elbow explains Lagares’ reduced arm strength (just 3 OF assists), but not the numerous fly balls he perplexingly “just missed” that Mets fans had grown so accustomed to him catching over the previous two seasons. In one year, Lagares went from an all-world defensive CF to a barely-above-average defensive CF. Which version of Lagares we can expect in 2016 remains an open question.

When the Mets called up rookie Michael Conforto and traded for Cespedes last season in late July, Lagares was relegated to a platoon/defensive replacement role. Specifically, throughout August, September, and (a magical) October and early November, manager Terry Collins consistently platooned Conforto with Lagares, starting Conforto in LF and Cespedes in CF against RHP while sliding Cespedes to LF and starting Lagares in CF against LHP.


Collins also regularly brought Lagares into CF as a late inning defensive replacement (typically in games the Mets were winning), sometimes pinch hitting Lagares against a LHP and then keeping him in for defense (again sliding Cespedes over to LF). In all of these situations, Conforto was the OF who was removed (from the batting order and/or the defensive field) to make room for Lagares, with Cespedes and RF Curtis Granderson always remaining in the game.

So the original question remains: How will the Mets use Lagares in 2016? Until Cespedes was signed last week, Lagares was ticketed for another platoon/defensive replacement role, this time with new acquisition Alejandro De Aza. The Cespedes signing has (to the great relief of Mets fans everywhere) relegated De Aza to a 5th OF role and (at first glance) placed Lagares squarely back in the same CF/LF threesome with Cespedes and Conforto that he occupied late last season. Over a full season, such usage could result in 400+ plate appearances and 130+ games for Lagares, significant totals for a platoon player.

But one factor has changed between the 2015 World Series and Opening Day 2016: the Mets’ willingness to limit their emerging young star, Conforto, to a continued platoon role. Last season, with the Mets in a playoff hunt and Conforto fresh to the big leagues, it made sense for Collins to give Conforto’s ABs against LHP to Lagares.

But with a new season upon us, it seems likely the Mets will give Conforto the chance to play every day, including against LHP. Conforto had only 15 plate appearances against LHP in his debut MLB season. But he hit LHP quite well (.904 OPS) at AA prior to his call up and has the type of sweet swing that could translate to a career of productive ABs against LHP (as evidenced by his World Series Game 4 HR against Royals LHP Danny Duffy).

So if Conforto is slated to start every day, including against LHP, where does that leave Lagares? The answer: Lagares will likely enter the 2016 season primarily as a PH and late inning defensive replacement. But even such usage could be more limited than it was last season. In the 7th inning of a 2-2 game with Conforto coming to bat against a LHP, will Collins want to PH Lagares for Conforto? Quite possibly not.

juan lagares

Even the logic behind using Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement was somewhat eroded by Conforto’s surprisingly strong defense (2015: 7.5 UZR and 9 Defensive Runs Saved over just 50 games). If not for the great defensive benefit of shifting Cespedes from CF (2015: -3.2 UZR and -4 Defensive Runs Saved over 40 games) to LF (2015: 18.8 UZR and 15 Defensive Runs Saved over 134 games), Lagares’ role as a late inning defensive replacement would also be in jeopardy. As it stands, Conforto will continue to get pulled from the late innings of games not so much due to his LF defense, but due to Cespedes’ CF defense.

One other question is worth asking in considering how the Mets will use Lagares in 2016: Who plays RF when Granderson is out of the lineup? Curtis had an all-around fantastic 2015, with one exception: his .558 OPS vs LHP over 143 plate appearances. Should Granderson regress somewhat in 2016 (likely as he enters his age-35 season) and continue to struggle against LHP (also likely given his career .696 OPS vs LHP), Collins may want to sit him vs LHP. At a minimum Curtis will require the occasional day off, and he will almost certainly get those days off against LH starters. So who plays RF on those days? Probably Lagares?

Although Cespedes’ monster arm and success as a gold glove corner outfielder seemingly suit him perfectly for RF, he (reportedly?) doesn’t like the position. He has never played a single inning in RF over 490 career games, and when he played for the Red Sox rumors circulated of friction between him and the Sox over the manager’s desire to play him in RF. In two games last season, Collins chose to insert Lagares into RF rather then force Cespedes to play the position. The same could hold true this season.

Barring an injury to Cespedes, Conforto, or Granderson, Juan Lagares’ role on the 2016 New York Mets might be even more limited than it was last season, due primarily to Conforto’s likely emergence as an every day player. With De Aza in the fold as a capable backup OF and Lagares under a team-friendly contract, might Sandy Alderson seek to trade Lagares, possibly for relief pitching and/or prospects? Or will Lagares revert to 2014 form and force himself back into the Mets lineup?

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Avi Gelboim. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Alderson Says Michael Cuddyer Was “Overused” Fri, 10 Jul 2015 17:02:33 +0000 michael cuddyer

Despite only starting in just 70 of the team’s first 86 games (80%), Sandy Alderson surprisingly told Kristie Ackert of the Daily News that veteran left fielder Michael Cuddyer has been “overused.”

Cuddyer, whom Alderson signed to a two-year, $21 million deal last winter, has been forced into a role that he was not expected to play this season and it is taking its toll,  Alderson asserts.

“One of the problems we’ve had, is we have had to overuse a couple of players, I think Michael is a perfect example,” Alderson said.

“He is someone who has played quite a bit more than we anticipated he would have because of David’s absence and some other injuries we have had. Hopefully that will sort itself out in the second half.”

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but it sounds as if Alderson looks at Cuddyer as somewhat of a part-time player or one that he expected no more than 400 at-bats in a season.

Which begs the question, why did we forfeit a first round draft pick (No. 15 overall) for the 36-year old veteran who was the only significant signing of the entire offseason?

“Michael is a tremendous addition to the middle of our lineup,” Alderson said after signing him. “He is a proven offensive threat who also brings versatility in the field with the ability to play multiple positions.”

Cuddyer, who has struggled all season, is batting just .240 with six home runs and 28 RBI and ranks  last among all qualified left fielders with a .648 OPS.

He continues to deal with a sore left knee and has missed six of the last eight games, and is meeting with team doctors today to determine if a DL stint is necessary.

Cuddyer has already received a cortisone shot to reduce the pain, but manager Terry Collins said his knee was “acting up” and “pretty swelled up.”

I also wonder if Sandy was taking issue with Cuddyer’s handling by Terry Collins who I thought was definitely giving him ample time off.

On Wednesday I suggested the Mets should sign an outfielder like Gerardo Parra of the Brewers and that way Cuddyer, Granderson and Lagares can form a three-way outfield rotation based on matchups.

The goal would be to reduce Cuddyer’s and Lagares’ exposure to RHP, while benching Granderson altogether against LHP.

I’m sure Sandy’s comments will be addressed later this afternoon before tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks. I’m looking forward to hearing him further clarify his statement.

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Mets 2015 Draft Analysis: The Year of the Lefty Thu, 11 Jun 2015 12:56:29 +0000 MLB draft manfred

The New York Mets wrapped up the 2015 Amateur Draft, finishing with 39 picks from rounds 2 through 40.

After forgoing their first round pick to sign Michael Cuddyer, the Mets were left with an MLB low $3,587,800 to spend on their picks, making getting high-upside picks much more difficult to acquire without some creativity.

What they did was go for college seniors early to gain more money to spend on higher upside players in rounds of 11 to 40.

Also unique of this draft was their selection of 10 lefty pitchers, from as early as the 3rd round, which was something that Sandy’s regime had not done before. Since 2011, they have drafted just 16 left-handed pitchers and not many were starters.

Here is the breakdown of positions chosen:

C: 3
2B: 1
3B: 2
SS: 1
OF: 4
RHP: 17
LHP: 10

In my recap, I’ll go through every pick and give as much information as I can, as well as commitments if they are a high school student, slot values,  likely destination, and signability.

2, 53: Desmond Lindsay, OF, Out-Of-Door Academy (FL), R/R, 6’0, 200, 1/15/97 $1,142,700

Lindsay DesmondMets’ first pick of out a relatively small school in Florida, he was a 1B/3B in high school, which were uncharacteristic positions, considering he has above-average to plus speed. He has great bat speed, and the potential for above-average to plus power, but has some swing and miss to his game as well.  His athletic ability will allow him to be used in center field, which is a new position to him, but he’s just 18, so he has time to learn the position. However, his arm is below average, so it won’t be a cannon from center.

While he is unranked on MLB’s top 200, he is ranked 102 on Baseball America’s top 500, and 71on Keith Law’s top 100, as well as 75 on, so it’s not as much of a “reach” on the draft board. I’m not going to buy Depo’s “Hitting Machine” and “We got a first rounder in the second round”, however, until he swings a bat with authority in the Minors. Instead, I’ll label him High Risk, High Reward.

Why he slipped, considering his upside and value, however is because he had only played 7 games due to a hamstring injury, so while his upside is considerable, another perk of drafting someone like him gives the Mets the chance to pay him a below-slot bonus on a pre-draft deal and get creative with higher upside in the draft. As for Lindsay, I believe he’ll start at either Gulf Coast League or Kingsport, in the Appalachian League.

3, 88: Max Wotell, LHP, Marvin Ridge HS (NC), R/L, 6’3, 180, 9/13/96 $666,500

wotell6’3” projectable lefthander with a funky delivery, who can run his fastball up to 93. He throws with a lowish arm slot, and has a curve he needs to improve, and feel for a changeup.

Said via Twitter that he’s ready to go, but we won’t know until someone reports the ink is dry. Gulf Coast League or Kingsport are his likely assignments, should he sign.

4, 119: David Thompson, 3B, Miami, R/R, 6’1, 220, 8/28/93 $474,800

david thompsonThompson has a lot of power, hitting 19 homers this past year with the University of Miami. However, he has not had a lot luck staying on the field, with two surgeries to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, depleting his throwing strength, as well as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which required him to  remove a rib.

This year, he was finally healthy, playing third base for the Hurricanes, but he does not figure to stay there due to his throwing arm, and instead move to the other corner of the diamond, or left field, where his plus power will play just fine. While he has plus power, there are some worries about his bat speed and whether or not he will catch up to premium velocity. He does have a good eye at the plate, however, and had more walks than strikeouts this year. Should he sign, he will likely bat cleanup in Brooklyn.

5, 149: Thomas Szapucki, LHP, William T. Dwyer HS (FL), R/L, 6’2, 190, 6/12/96, $355,500

Thomas SzapuckiHigh School lefty has a fastball that has reached 95, and stays steadily 92-93, with a slider that has a chance to be plus. His changeup also could be average. He struggles with control, but among young lefties, that is common. He does throw with a little effort, and from a low arm slot, making questions about his ability to stay a starter. Still a high-risk, high reward lefty. He lives near St. Lucie and has indicated that he is going to sign via Twitter. I’d bet on him being in the Gulf Coast League rotation.

6, 179: Chase Ingram, RHP, Hillsborough CC (FL), R/R, 6’3, 190, 4/17/95 $266,200

Righthanded pitcher out of Junior college, he has a fastball that reaches 92, but also a plus curve and an average changeup. He has usually pitched from the stretch, but has been a starter his entire career. He could be either a back of the rotation starter or a fast-moving reliever going forward. He has indicated he is signing via twitter

7, 209: Corey Taylor, RHP, Texas Tech, R/R, 6’1, 250, 1/8/93, $199,500

College senior who throws 91-95. He went 4-0, 0.31 era, but projects as a reliever. Likely signing, as a below-slot senior sign. He’ll fit in nicely in Savannah or Brooklyn’s bullpen.

8, 239: Patrick Mazeika, C, Stetson, L/R, 6’3, 210, 10/14/93 171,900

Career .348 hitter as a lefthander with some good patience at the plate. He might not be long for Catcher with an average arm and large frame for a Catcher. Likely signing, and you’ll see him at both 1B/C at Kingsport.

9, 269: Kevin Kaczmarski, OF, Evansville, L/R, 6’0, 190, 12/31/91 $160,700

Has minor league bloodlines with a father who played in the Padres’ farm system a few years in the 80’s. Kevin is a 5-year, redshirt senior who missed the season in 2011, and has never been drafted. While those aren’t in his favor, he is a good hitter, having a .465/.543/.746 line, and a solid gap-to-gap approach. He also gives the Mets flexibility to spend more in later rounds. He is probably signing, since he has no leverage, and could be an outfielder in Brooklyn.

10, 299: Witt Haggard, RHP, Delta State, R/R, 6’2, 205. 12/09/91 $150,000

Former walk-on quarterback at Missisippi who didn’t play in 2 seasons, and then transferred to Meridian Community College to play baseball, before moving to Delta State. He runs his fastball into the low 90’s but doesn’t have much control as a reliever, nor much experience due to playing football. He is likely another guy saving them money signing below slot so they can go after more upside later in the draft. He is probably slated for Kingsport.

11, 329: Jake Simon, LHP, Galveston Ball HS (TX), L/L, 6’2, 175, 1/21/97

A lefty with a chance to fill out and gain velocity, he sits 87-89 right now. He also has feel for a changeup and a breaking ball. He however, might be hard to sign, as he has a commitment to Rice. Should the Mets give him a nice bonus, he could be going to Kingsport or Gulf Coast League

12, 359: Joe Shaw, RHP, Dallas Baptist, R/R, 6’4, 240, 12/20/93

As a college reliever, before, Shaw showed a plus fastball around 96-97, but that dropped significantly when he was converted to a starter for his junior year, and was instead throwing 88-92, with the occasional 93-94. His breaking ball and changeup are iffy at best, so he might be a reliever going forward. Definitely seems signable, and would probably be heading to the Brooklyn Cyclones.

13, 389: PJ Conlon, LHP, San Diego, L/L, 6’0, 175, 11/11/93

A soft-tossing lefty with a good slow curve who will likely sign and dominate the New York-Penn League

14, 419: Vincent Siena, 2B, Connecticut, R/R, 5’10, 190, 12/24/93

Had an inconsistent career at Uconn, starting out with a season over .300, and then struggled in the cape league, and then as a sophomore, before hitting .362/.424/.519 as a Junior, with 7 homers. He has above-average bat speed and is a good gap hitter, and if he had performed in his sophomore year, probably would have been drafted much earlier. He also has a plus arm, and could play 2nd, 3rd, or the outfield. Should he sign, he should be slated for Brooklyn.

15, 449: Thomas Hackimer, RHP, St. John’s, R/R, 5’11, 190, 6/28/94

Converted shortstop who pitches from a side-arm slot, that gets up to 91 miles per hour. He has a good slider that’s an asset. He could be a fast-rising reliever. He could be signable, and would probably have an advanced assignment in the minors.

16, 479: Dillon Becker, RHP, Angelo State, R/R, 6’3, 225, 4/21/94

Don’t have much info on his stuff, but he is a college reliever with good college stats. He seems signable, and would likely be heading to Brooklyn or Kingsport.

17, 509: Sixto Torres, LHP, Faith Baptist Christian HS (FL), L/L, 6’4, 220, 3/31/96

Lefty that sits in the low 90’s and hits 94, with even more in the tank. His slider could become plus and change could likely be average or better in offerings. His command could be inconsistent, but that is expected. Although he is committed to Alabama State, people have considered him signable, and the Mets will likely give some of that extra bonus to this high-upside lefty.

18, 539: Jordan Humphreys, RHP, Crystal River HS (FL), R/R, 6’1, 190, 6/11/96

Don’t have much info on him except that he throws in the low 90’s. Not sure how signable he is.

19, 569: Nic Enright, RHP, The Steward School (VA), R/R, 6’3, 205, 1/8/97

A guy who was ranked at at #132 and Baseball America at #231, who lost draft standing because his usual 94 mile per hour fastball, and above average curve didn’t show up last spring. He is committed to Virginia Tech and seems unlikely to sign.

20, 599: Thomas McIlraith, RHP, Oklahoma JR, R/R, 6’4, 185, 2/17/94

Not much info on him, but struggled out of the pen at Oklahoma. Seems signable, likely Kingsport-bound.

21, 629: Taylor Henry, LHP, Centenary, L/L, 6’2, 185, 7/6/93

Senior Lefty Reliever with good stats, definitely signable.

22, 659: Nick Blackburn, RHP, Illinois JR, R/R, 6’2, 205, 7/10/94

A righty college reliever with solid stats and only 20 innings under his belt. Seems unsure whether or not he will sign.

23, 689: Kenneth Bautista, OF, Puerto Rico BB Academy, R/R, 6’3, 210, 8/7/97

Large kid from Carolina, Puerto Rico with some great power potential. Really glad to see the team is drafting more Puerto Ricans players. He could be signable, and if so, will likely go to the Gulf Coast League.

24, 719: Jordan Verdon, 3B, Granite Hills HS (CA), L/R, 6’3, 190, 1/7/97

A good hitter with a nice left-handed stroke and some good power potential. Unlikely the team will buy him out of a San Diego State commitment.

25, 749: Dylan King, RHP, Riverdale HS (TN), R/R, 6’3, 190, 12/5/96

Not much information, but has touched 91 in the past, and is a Belmont University Commit, so he could sign and head to Kingsport or Gulf Coast League.

26, 779: Shane McClanahan, LHP, Cape Coral HS (FL), L/L, 6’1, 165, 4/28/97

Thanks to a growth spurt that shot him up 8 inches in the last year and a half, he gained velocity that took him from pitching in the mid-80’s, to 90-94, with more in the tank. He also has a potentially plus curve, and good changeup. He is committed to University to South Florida, but will go pro, based on the dollar amount.

27, 809: Jake Higginbotham, LHP, Buford HS (GA), L/L, 6’0, 175, 1/11/96

A lefthander that throws in the high-80’s, to low 90’s, and could add more strength, and has a curve and change that could be at least average offerings. His control is above average, but he is committed to Clemson, with some possible leverage of being eligible for the draft again in his sophomore year. Signing remains unlikely. Nice Name

28, 839: Anthony Dimino, C, Belmont Abbey SR, L/R, 5’11, 180, 8/5/93

Not much information except that he hit .452 this past year, but has indicated that he is signing. Likely headed for Brooklyn.

29, 869: Seth Davis, LHP, Augustana, SR L/L, 5’10, 185, 5/8/93

Left-handed Starter, senior, likely going to sign.

30, 899: Jackson Wark, RHP, Bellerose Composite HS (AB), L/R, 6’6, 215, 5/23/97

Tall, projectable Canadian high school pitcher who already reaches the high-80’s. Gulf Coast League possibility. He is committed to Saint Louis University.

31, 929: Tanner Dodson, RHP, Jesuit HS (CA), R/R, 6’1, 160, 5/9/97

Not signing, as tweeted last night.

32, 959: Dustin Beggs, RHP, Kentucky, R/R, 6’3, 180, 6/14/93

College Senior who throws in the high-80’s to low 90’s, with an above average curve, as well as a slider and change, and great location and deception. He’s a senior so he’s definitely signable, and could possibly go to Savannah.

33, 989: Brendan Illies, C, Puyallup HS (WA), R/R, 6’0, 195, 9/28/96

Very smart catcher with plus defensive skils, and a feel to hitting with some power. However, at the 33rd round, with a University of North Carolina commitment, he is probably not going to sign.

34, 1019, LT Tolbert, SS, IMG Academy (FL), L/R, 6’3, 175, 6/7/96

A line drive hitter with a decent left-handed stroke, who has some good power projection. However, committed to University of South Carolina, and it will be very hard to buy him out of that.

35, 1049: George Thanopoulos, RHP, Columbia, R/R, 6’1, 205, 1/18/93

14 G, 13 GS, 75.2 IP, 69 H, 31 ER, 28 BB, 68 K, 3.69 ERA in Ivy League Baseball this year as a senior.

36, 1079: Anthony Gordon, OF, Terra Nova HS (CA), L/R, 6’3, 185, 8/28/97

No information available on this guy, if he signs, he goes to the Gulf Coast League.

37, 1109: Geoff Hartlieb, RHP, Lindenwood, R/R, 6’6, 210, 12/9/93

Tall Redshirt Sophomore with a College Senior’s age. Signable.

38, 1139: Jacob Wyrick, LHP, Cleveland State CC, L/L, 6’0, 165, 11/14/95

Youngish lefty community college starter. Unsure about him being signable or not.

39, 1169: Chad Luensmann, RHP, Bellwood Antis HS (PA), L/R, 6’3, 208, 2/4/97

Has a heavy 88-90 Fastball and a funky delivery, and a sharp slider, and a slow curve and changeup. He is committed to the University of Nebraska.

40, 1199: Nick Conti, 2B, Dr. Phillips HS (FL), R/R, 5’9, 160, 2/14/97

Grandson of Guy Conti, with good defense. Unsure about commitment or signabilty.


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Gee To DL With Strained Groin, Syndergaard To Make MLB Debut Tuesday Fri, 08 May 2015 22:58:09 +0000 noah syndergaard - las vegas 51s

It’s official…

Moments ago Sandy Alderson announced that Dillon Gee was being placed on the DL with a strained groin, and that Noah Syndergaard will be promoted and make his major league debut on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Bartolo Colon will start in Gee’s place on Sunday on regular rest.

Sandy Alderson called Steven Matz “an equally deserving candidate.”

“This is a year plus at Class AAA, and he’s certainly done a nice job there to date,” Alderson said of Syndergaard.

“His last three starts were overpowering. So from that standpoint he’s deserving.”

Wow, the Syndergaard era begins…

6:00 PM

After a team source told reporter Kristie Ackert of the Daily News that Dillon Gee may need to miss his next scheduled start, Twitter ran amok and soon the story warped into Steven Matz was being called up to start on Sunday. Wow.

Of course, that’s not actually the case, at least not now, and certainly not officially.

According to Newsday’s Marc Carig, the team is more likely to push Bartolo Colon up a day and have him pitch Sunday instead of Monday.

Because of the day off on Thursday, Colon would be on his regular rest. So we’re merely talking about a minor reshuffling. And if need be, Carlos Torres could get a spot start.

Gee is dealing with a groin issue according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. However Carig was told the issue is not a big deal.

The team was reportedly targeting May 20 or May 21 to call up a spot starter anyway, but when news leaked about Gee, things spiraled out of control. One minute you had Noah Syndergaard getting called up, the next one Matz.

There was even evidence of many cheering for Gee to be hurt more significantly than was being reported, as some became hysterical with the possibility of more than just a spot start. Grown men were acting like 14 year old girls at a Beatles concert.

Pretty sad actually when you consider how much Gee has meant to this team and what a class act and decent person he is.

Anyway, with groin injuries being what they are, the chance does exist that Gee could miss more than just a start or even land on the DL.

As a precaution Matz is being held from his start for Las Vegas until the team has more information to work with.

The word is team brass is discussing their options right now at CBP and Sandy Alderson will address the media at 7:00 PM.

Stay tuned…

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Jon Matlack, the Mets’ Underrated Lefty Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:27:22 +0000 matlack

Jon Matlack’s career record of 125-126 may be as mediocre as you can get, but Matlack was a much, much better than average major league pitcher. In fact, he was one of the very finest lefthanded pitchers ever developed by the Mets’ organization.

His other career marks – a 3.18 lifetime ERA (better than Steve Carlton, who was considered the best lefty of his generation), 97 complete games, and 30 shutouts attest to the fact that he was a workhorse, who when he was on, was as good as anyone.

Matlack holds several important distinctions as a Met, although not necessarily statistical ones. To begin with, he was the Mets’ very first GOOD first round amateur draft pick.

In ’65 with the second pick, the Mets selected the forgettable Les Rohr. With the first pick in ’66, they opted for Steve Chilcott over Reggie Jackson and we all know how that turned out.

In 1967, having advanced to ninth place the previous season, they didn’t get to pick until the #4 slot. The first three picks were Ron Blomberg, Terry Hughes, and Mike Garman. The Mets, up next, chose Jon Matlack, a 6-foot-3 lefthanded pitcher out of high school in West Chester, PA.

Certainly you could make a case that later first round picks like John Mayberry and Ted Simmons turned out better, but there’s no doubt that the Mets’ selction of Matlack was better than the three choices that preceded him that year and a whole lot better than most of the Mets’ #1′s through the years.

Next, Matlack was the first of the Mets’ hot young pitching prospects to be brought along slowly, getting three full seasons in AAA before being brought up for a cup of coffee in 1971. Prior to his extended hitch in AAA, in his first full year in the minors, 1968, Matlack had a superb year, going 13-6 2.76 with 188 strikeouts in 173 innings for Class A Raleigh-Durham.

Considering how the likes of Les Rohr, Dennis Musgraves, Ron Locke, Tug McGraw, Grover Powell, Tom Seaver, et al were force-fed to the big leagues based on single year minor league performances, you would have almost expected Matlack to be given a shot at the Mets’ rotation in 1969 or 1970 at the latest, but starting pitching was the Mets’ strong suit and that gave the organization the luxury of nurturing Matlack until he was unquestionably big-league ready. And in 1972, he certainly was, going 15-10 2.32 with the Mets, and winning the National League Rookie Of The Year Award.

Matlack was a solid starter for the Mets for six years, although he never really surpassed his rookie season, so he could be regarded as something of a disappointment i.e. he never became Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman.

Matlack was a three-time All-Star for the Mets and even shared MVP honors in the 1975 game with Bill Madlock.

He was eventually dealt away to Texas prior to the 1978 season in a bizarre 4-team trade involving a lot of big name players. I won’t go into the details here, but I’ve always wondered how that one came about.

Matlack pitched decently for the Rangers, but was out of baseball before he turned 34. In 1989, at the age of 39, Matlack resurfaced in the late, lamented Senior Professional Baseball Association where he had a solid 10-2 record, making him one of the few well-known players in the league to deliver more than “name value”.

I’ll always remember him as a true quality starter who unfortunately pitched on too many Mets’ teams that couldn’t score enough runs to make a pitcher with a 3.00 ERA a winner.


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Mets Opening Day Roster and Lineup Challenges Mon, 06 Apr 2015 09:00:43 +0000 CASEY-STYLE FAREWELL

“They told me my services were no longer desired because they wanted to put in a youth program as a way of keeping the club going. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.”  ~ Casey Stengel

Here is the official Opening Day roster followed by a look at today’s potential lineup.

Starting Lineup

opening day 20151. Juan Lagares, CF
2. Curtis Granderson, RF
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Lucas Duda, 1B
5. Michael Cuddyer, LF
6. Daniel Murphy, 2B
7. Wilmer Flores, SS
8. Travis d’Arnaud, C


1. Anthony Recker, C
2. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
3. John Mayberry Jr, OF
4. Ruben Tejada, IF

Starting Rotation

1. Bartolo Colon, RHP
2. Jacob deGrom, RHP
3. Matt Harvey, RHP
4. Jon Niese, LHP
5. Dillon Gee, RHP


1. Jenrry Mejia, CL
2. Jeurys Familia, SU
3. Carlos Torres, RHP
4. Rafael Montero, RHP
5. Buddy Carlyle, RHP
6. Alex Torres, LHP
7. Jerry Blevins, LHP
8. Sean Gilmartin, LHP

Disabled List

Vic Black
Bobby Parnell
Josh Edgin
Zack Wheeler

As for the Opening Day lineup, because the Mets have opted to forgo a fifth bat for the bench,  choosing instead to carry an extra arm in the bullpen, the Mets are now considering an unorthodox starting lineup.

According to a report by Marc Carig, sources tell him that Opening Day lineup will have Curtis Granderson leading off, David Wright batting second, Lucas Duda hitting third, and Michael Cuddyer batting cleanup ahead of Daniel Murphy in the fifth spot.

Further, Carig points out than given the smaller bench, batting the pitcher eighth may make more sense even with Bartolo Colon. He says it reduces the chances of Collins burning a pinch hitter in that spot.

He speculates the Opening Day lineup to look like this:

  1. Curtis Granderson (L) RF
  2. David Wright (R) 3B
  3. Lucas Duda (L) 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer (R) LF
  5. Daniel Murphy (L) 2B
  6. Wilmer Flores (R) SS
  7. Juan Lagares (R) CF
  8. Bartolo Colon (R) RHP
  9. Travis d’Arnaud (R) C

Also, because Eric Campbell is not on the team, they have no emergency catcher meaning Anthony Recker is not going to see any pinch hitting duties.

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MMO Fan Shot: 2015 Mets Projections Using Career Splits Sun, 18 Jan 2015 05:00:18 +0000 juan lagares scores

An MMO Fan Shot by Chris Maloney

I can’t believe some of the negativity I’m seeing this offseason from some Mets fans who lack confidence in our team. This one sucks, that one sucks, ad nauseam. So I decided to share some analysis just to show how good the Mets offense can be in 2015.

The charts below were created using most players’ career averages. Here’s a brief explanation.

1. I used career averages for batting splits for each player.

2. I adjusted to show as 162 games or 650 plate appearances.

3. I copied results for players vs RHP and LHP (Career splits based 650 PA)

4. I adjusted results using a 70/30 split, 70% of totals below weighted for RHP and 30% weighted for LHP.

The following example shows Murphy’s career averages vs both lefties and righties based on a total of 650 PA, 455 vs RHP and 195 vs LHP. So in his Career Average year his slash line would be .274/.306/.374/.681 vs LHP and .295/.342/.435/.777 vs RHP.

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I repeated the process above for each position player for the 2015 Mets 25 man roster. The below shows IMO the best possible lineup for the Mets against RHP. The batting order can be tweaked but this is how it should shake out. The average slash line as a team reads .271/.331/.442/.774. These are based on all players having an average year not a career year vs RHP.

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The bench’s numbers are how they would perform given an equal number of AB vs RHP. Granted MDD is an incomplete for lack of AB, but I included him anyway for his 2014 numbers projected over 455 PA.

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Here is what the career average numbers look like against LHP. What, no Duda? What, no Flores? Look at the numbers. Tejada’s numbers against LHP are great .285/.368/.347/.715, Flores’ numbers are not very good vs LHP. So Tejada starts 30% of games and is a defensive replacement in late innings of close games. Bottom line for 2015 Mets .277/.340/.447/.787, is a killer lineup vs LHP.

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The bench numbers are how they would perform given an equal number of AB vs LHP. Granted MDD and Flores are incomplete for lack of AB, but I included with 2014 numbers projected over 195 PA.

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Finally, the 2015 Platoon lineup uses aggregate career numbers for the six non platoon player’s vs both LHP and RHP. The Duda / Mayberry platoon I will get to that below. The Flores / Tejada is the best surprise for the nay-Sayers, .285/.336/.391/.727 which are great numbers for SS and with the rest of the 2015 offense you can sacrifice a little defense. Duda, same thing but maybe not as a straight platoon even though numbers strongly suggests it.

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Platoon Duda?

The case to platoon Duda might be sacrilege to some because everybody loved what he accomplished in 2014. But as you can see below all the damage was done vs RHP. He leaves the Mets very vulnerable when he starts vs LHP. The Duda / Mayberry platoon career splits project a .265/.343/.509/.852 with 32 HR and 93 RBI. I realize these numbers are similar to what Duda put up in 2014 by himself in 596 PA.

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Now if you were to combine Duda’s 2014 numbers vs RHP with Mayberry’s career numbers vs LHP you get the monster numbers below. Duda still starts over 70% of games and is a Huge Bat off the bench in late innings in games he doesn’t start. What other team can potentially get 39 HR and 110 RBI production from First Base.

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Many are saying there are a lot of ifs and there are, but this outlook is based on players having an average year. Bottom line Team numbers of .274/.336/.445/.781 are awesome. Combine this with our pitching and the Mets should challenge the Nats for the NL East. I actually think we beat them head-to-head this year, the LaRoche numbers alone IMO won them 3-4 games last season and now he’s gone.

The numbers for the 2015 Mets reserves included above can be used to plug in if and when injuries occur and they look very good to hold down the fort if used correctly.

Let’s say for example Wright goes down with his shoulder. One choice would be to move Cuddyer to 3B and have a new RF platoon, choosing one of the below. If you go with MDD you now have a speedier lead-off hitter with much improved contact in second half of 2014, which is not included in his stats below. In any case these are not bad options if Wright is injured. So In the event of injuries we have the depth to Platoon are way forward.

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So look at the numbers and you might change your mind about the team we have going into the 2015 season. Even if all the players have an average year this season, expect the team to be making some noise. Be positive and Lets Go Mets!

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Chris Maloney. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Red Sox and LHP Craig Breslow Agree On $2 Million Deal Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:03:43 +0000 Craig-Breslow-Greg-M.-Cooper-USA-TODAY-Sports

The Red Sox have agreed on a one year deal with left-handed reliever Craig Breslow worth $2 million dollars according to Rob Bradford of WEEI Sports Radio.

The Mets met personally with Breslow at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but the talks were brief and not substantial.

Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that he will not sign any lefty relievers to a major league deal. Instead, he prefers a competition between recently signed Scott Rice, Rule 5 selection Sean Gilmartin and minor leaguers Jack Leathersich and Dario Alvarez.

If nobody emerges from that spring training competition, Alderson said, ‘then we’ll go with six righties.”

Breslow is viewed as one of the better left-handed relievers in the game, posting a 2.82 ERA from 2008-2013.

He went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in 60 relief appearances last season, however most teams are expecting him to bounce back in 2015 and return to his career norm. The 34-year old Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2013.

(Updated 12/19)

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Alderson Explains Why He Targeted Mayberry Jr. Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:32:00 +0000 john-mayberry-

At the Mets holiday party on Tuesday, general manager Sandy Alderson explained why he targeted John Mayberry Jr. for the team. With the quotes courtesy of ESPN’s Adam Rubin, here’s what he said.

“We weren’t very good against left-handed pitching last year,” Alderson said. “I think we had one of the lowest OPS numbers in the National League, if not the entire game.”

“Signing Michael Cuddyer was part of addressing that problem. Mayberry? Similar motivation. We need somebody potentially to play against left-handed pitching, to come off the bench against left-handed [relief] pitching, and just help us be a little more balanced in that way. And he was prepared to accept the role, which is a big part of it. So we’re happy to have him. He has an excellent record against lefties over his career.”

Rubin points out the Mets had a .633 OPS against left-handed pitching last season, second-worst in the majors.

Mayberry, 31, has a .269/.324/.533 slash with 30 homers in 490 career at-bats against LHP, mostly compiled at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

He signed a one-year deal with the Mets which is worth a guaranteed $1.45 million.

Mayberry has performance bonuses built into his contract that total an additional $500,000 based on plate appearances.

He will earn $50,000 each for 200 plate appearances, and each additional 50 through 450, and $100,000 apiece for 500 and 550.

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Syndergaard and Matz Top Sickels’ Mets Top 20 Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:29:47 +0000 steve matz

Here are the New York Mets Top 20 Prospects for 2015 as comprised by John Sickels of Minor League Ball.

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade A-: Age 22, 4.60 ERA with 145/43 K/BB in 133 innings in Triple-A, 154 hits. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Syndergaard that getting out of the PCL/Las Vegas won’t cure. Velocity continues to increase, curve continues to improve, just needs to prove that minor health issues aren’t precursor to anything major.

2. Steven Matz, LHP, Grade B+: Age 23, 2.24 ERA with 131/35 K/BB in 141 innings between High-A and Double-A. Great story on Tommy John recovery, power lefty arm with good command, fastball well into the 90s now. Terrific complement to Syndergaard.

3. Dilson Herrera, 2B, Grade B+: Age 20. He’s just 20. Hit .323/.379/.479 with 13 homers, 23 steals, 47/96 BB/K in 524 at-bats in High-A/Double-A. His reputation is growing but if anything he may still be under-estimated.

4. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Grade B/Borderline B+: Age 21, hit .322/.448/.458 in High-A but just .238/.339/.396 in Double-A. I love Nimmo’s on-base abilities and overall approach, but I am hesitant to go full-bore B+ or higher at this time due to serious platoon split problems. For now I have Herrera ahead, which is likely a minority view. That should be seen as praise for Herrera, not any disrespect towards Nimmo, who is one of my favorite prospects.

5. Kevin Plawecki, C, Grade B: Age 23, hit .309/.365/.460 between Double-A and Triple-A. Just a solid all-around prospect, not deadly against base runners but otherwise very skilled on defense, not a big home run hitter but should maintain solid average and OBP with gap power. Great backup for Travis d’Arnaud, can start if necessary. He would also make attractive trade bait.

6. Rafael Montero, RHP, Grade B

7. Michael Conforto, OF, Grade B

8. Marcos Molina, RHP, Grade B-

9. Amed Rosario, SS, Grade B-/Borderline B

10. Jhoan Urena, 3B, Grade B-

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Grade C+

12. Dominic Smith, 1B, Grade C+

13. Cory Mazzoni, RHP, Grade C+

14. Robert Whalen, RHP, Grade C+

15. L.J. Mazzilli, 2B, Grade C+

16. Cesar Puello, OF, Grade C+

17. Wuilmer Becerra, OF, Grade C+

18. Jack Leathersich, LHP, Grade C+

19. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, Grade C+

20. Casey Meisner, RHP, Grade C+

Here are some comments on the overall system, which he’s extremely high on.

“The big strength is pitching. Noah Syndergaard is one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Steven Matz is another Top 50 pitching prospect and his success is a testament to the efforts of the rehab staff, coaches, and his own work ethic in coming back from a difficult Tommy John recovery.”

Rafael Montero still looks like a solid prospect to me, and there is a large group of Grade C+ types who could be fourth/fifth starters or sound relief options. The Mets have done a particularly good job discovering solid arms for reasonable bonuses in Latin America, but they’ve found talent at the college and high school levels as well.”

“The lower level pitcher with the greatest potential is Marcos Molina, who took a giant step forward and dominated the New York-Penn League in ’14. We need to see how he responds to a larger workload, but he could top this list next year.”

Sickels believes the position players could look even better if Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini can live up to their first-round draft status. “Perhaps that won’t happen,” he says. “But Latin American products Amed Rosario and Jhoan Urena will transition to full season ball in 2015 and provide more depth should the early North American draftees fail.L.J. Mazzilli and Matt Reynolds provide up-the-middle depth possibilities from the college ranks. Even enigmatic Cesar Puello could still turn into an interesting player.”


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MMO Free Agent Profile: Andrew Miller, LHP Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:10:03 +0000 andrew-miller-mlb-seattle-mariners-baltimore-orioles-590x900

Andrew Miller

Relief Pitcher

Bats: L  Throws: L

Age on Opening Day: 29

2014 Snapshot

Andrew Miller had a career year in 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles. Through 42.1 innings in Boston, Miller held a 2.35 ERA before being dealt for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez during Boston’s massive fire sale before the trade deadline. Down the stretch for Baltimore, he was even more impressive, posting a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings. His strikeout, home run, and hit rates were all at career-bests. And at 29 years old, Miller has hit free agency at just the right time.


Miller strikes out an insane number of batters. This season, in 62.1 innings, he fanned 103 batters, equating to a 14.9 K/9 rate and a 42.6 strikeout percentage. Both of those numbers are second only to Aroldis Chapma among pitchers with 50 innings or more.

What was it? The numbers, albeit in a small sample size, point towards his slider. His slider was over 13 runs above average this season, far better than ever before. He has been able to use his low arm slot and deadly slider to his advantage, producing gems like this:


Yes, that’s not Miller striking out a power-hitting lefty, that’s Derek Jeter. While that may not be too impressive anymore, it highlights my point: Miller dominates righties, too. Righties hit just .145/.245/.202 against him, which was actually slightly worse than the .163/.206/.261 line lefties put up against him. Although his numbers overall favor Miller against lefties, he has actually reversed his platoon splits over the past two seasons. That doesn’t mean he will going forward, but it is something to consider.

Forget about the strikeouts for a minute and look at the number of baserunners allowed. Miller had a 0.802 WHIP this season, a career-best by far. Over the last three years, he has really improved in this manner, bringing his walks down to a (somewhat) manageable level, and limiting his hits allowed as well. He is running on all cylinders right now.


Miller’s track record of major success is relatively short. From 2006 through 2012, Miller owned a career 5.54 ERA and walked 5.4 batters per nine innings. Even as he started to turn his career around in 2012, he walked five batters per nine innings. That should be an area of concern for Sandy Alderson. He could easily regress back to his career averages.

His 4.8 hits per nine innings rate from last season is, without a doubt, unsustainable. You don’t see that very often, and you definitely don’t see is multiple years in a row.

As good as Miller is, his biggest weakness is the fact that he doesn’t really fit. Signing Miller would only muddle up the closer situation even more. Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Bobby Parnell can handle the late innings just fine. If the Mets are going to spend big money on a multi-year contract, it shouldn’t be for a relief pitcher. Maybe Miller would be a better fit if the team had more money.

Projected Contract

To give you a sense of what Miller is looking for, check out what Jason Mastrodonato wrote for MassLive the other day:

According to an industry source, Miller is seeking at least a four-year deal and isn’t listening to any other offers unless the average annual value is “astounding.”

I am assuming “astounding” is at least $12 to $15 million per year, which is ridiculous for Miller. Yes, he is 29, but he has also only been dominant for two seasons. That being said, he is arguably the top relief pitcher on the market, meaning there will be demand for him. He won’t get what he wants, but I see a four-year deal as almost a guarantee. I see Miller getting four years and $40 million.

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MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Pursuing Pirates Prospect Josh Bell Sun, 09 Nov 2014 18:02:49 +0000 Josh_Bell_qvrhw676_mdesbg6a

An MMO Fan Shot by Jason Bay

The case for Josh Bell as I see it is threefold.

1) The longstanding belief that it is having many good players together for as much of their careers as possible, all at the same time that is the critical difference in how high a team can rise. (Think Rollins, Utley, Howard)

2) Combining Bell with Brandon Nimmo is a perfect fit as they compliment each other very well whether it be in the lineup together or splitting time in certain circumstances .

3) It’s an opportunity of being able to acquire Bell without having to move any of our young high end pitching, namely Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz. The immediate needs of the Pirates are such that we can add Bell without worrying about raising payroll or moving any of our prized arms.

Platoon splits for left-handed hitters in the minors do not always hold up when reaching the majors and in Nimmo’s case there is some cause for concern.

Nimmo vs. LHP

Career – .220/.331/.298, 24.2 K/9, 11.8 BB/9

2014 AA – .152/.278/.239, 22.0 K/9, 13.8 BB/9

2014 A+ – .333/.435/.417, 16.5 K/9, 12.9 BB/9

Let’s see how the switch-hitting Bell compares…

Bell vs. LHP

Career – .300/.343/.450, 11.2 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

2014 AA – .295/.354/.341, 8.3 K/9, 8.3 BB/9

2014 A+ – .320/.333/.495, 10.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

What this tells me is that if Nimmo does not hit LHP in the majors, Bell’s presence allows us to get the production we need from one outfield spot the 30-40 times a year we face a left-handed starting pitcher.

When we face a righthander however, is where the benefit of adding Bell really kicks in because in this case we would have both in the lineup together (Approx.120-130 starts)

Bell vs. RHP

Career – .298/.363/.449, 17.5 K/9, 9.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .280/.333/.280, 14.8 K/9, 17.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .341/.396/.504, 12.1 K/9, 8.6 BB/9

As you can see in limited play (94 AB) the power did not show up for Bell in AA but here is where Nimmo compliments Bell if his weaker side power doesn’t develop.

Nimmo vs. RHP

Career – .287/.409/.440, 23.3 K/9, 16.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .291/.379/.493, 17.6 K/9, 12.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .316/.454/.477, 19.1 K/9, 20.1 BB/9

What you have in Bell and Nimmo are two players who together can be a real force in the lineup and who individually cover the others potential flaws. An outfield with Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto (plus a RH compliment to Conforto) would afford the opportunity to start three right-handed hitters or three left-handed hitters in the outfield anytime we wanted with the ability to double switch and strategize later in the game, utilizing all five outfielders in situations that accentuate their strengths and bypass their potential weaknesses.

Bell also has the arm for right field, something we do not currently have in-house unless Cesar Puello somehow comes through. And If we did execute a trade for Bell, Cesar could get his shot this year as a platoon right fielder while Bell continues to develop.

Having at the least Lagares, Bell, Nimmo and Granderson followed by Conforto does give us four outfielders which in case of injury to one wouldn’t hurt and would be a godsend in the event Conforto does not have the range to play the outfield.

The reason I think this is potentially doable is pure opportunity. Pittsburgh has Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano most likely departing the starting rotation as free agents and Russell Martin leaving a void behind the plate as well. They also have outfielders in abundance in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows on the way.

Here’s one possible suggestion. We can offer Jon Niese, Dillon Gee (or Bartolo Colon), Kevin Plawecki and Wilmer Flores (or Daniel Murphy) in exchange for Josh Bell and RF Keon Broxton (ETA 2015),  C Reese McGuire (ETA 2017) and CF/LF Harold Ramirez (ETA 2017).

Flores or Murphy can takeover at 3B and allow Pedro Alvarez to move to 1B, and we can kick in some money to help cover part of Niese’s or Colon’s salary if necessary.

It does leave us a little bare behind the plate in case of injury, and of course means SS comes down to a competition between Tejada, Tovar and Reynolds while we await Cecchini or Rosario. But the deal would certainly accomplish the Pirates’ offseason goals and pretty much solidifies the Mets outfield for many years to come in the most impactful way possible.

It also gets us a top notch catching prospect who hits left-handed to boot, and more importantly, maintains all of our elite young pitching.

The OF in 2016 at some point would be:

LF Grandy, Nimmo
CF Lagares, Nimmo
RF Bell, Nimmo

What do you think?

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This Fan Shot was contributed by Jason Bay. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Fan Shot: Could Juan Lagares Become the Mets Version of Lorenzo Cain? Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:42:19 +0000 lorenzo cain

An MMO Fan Shot by yfern328

Fresh off an ALCS MVP where he batted .533 (8 for 15) with two doubles, two walks, and a stolen base, Lorenzo Cain has catapulted himself from “that-guy-who-plays-baseball-for-the-Royals” to an oft mentioned name in the national spotlight of the World Series. In addition to his sound batting, Cain has not disappointed with the glove either as he’s played spectacularly in the outfield tracking down balls in the gaps while making highlight-reel catches. Simply put, watching Lorenzo Cain during this postseason has been a treat, and if anything, it affirms my belief that stars can be born with organizational patience and commitment. As a Mets fan, I couldn’t help but wonder how awesome it would be to have a player like Cain leading off for the Mets. And then suddenly it dawned on me—perhaps the Mets already have a similar breakout candidate on the roster? Maybe that player is Juan Lagares?

Considering that Cain broke out big time in 2014 with a line of .301/.339/.412, I figured that maybe Lagares had a shot to best his STEAMER projections for 2015 if he too could take a similar step forward. When I began comparing Lagares and Cain, the first thing I was drawn to was Cain’s 2013 season and Lagares’ in 2014.

In 2013, Lorenzo Cain posted a triple slash line of .251/.310/.348 along with a wRC+ of 80 in 115 games. In many ways, Lagares had a better season in 2014. Lagares posted a triple slash line of .281/.321/.382 with a wRC+ of 101 in 116 games. Going back just another year, I found that in 61 games in 2012, Cain posted a line of .266/.316/.419 which was slightly better, but roughly just as bad as the .242/.281/.352 line Lagares had in 2013 over 121 games. Looking at just the stats from the past couple of years, it was clear that Cain had a slight edge in his ability to get on base, so I wondered if Cain had that reputation in the minors as well.

Turns out that was true. When I compared the cumulative minor league stats of Cain and Lagares, I found that Cain had a .294/.366/.430 line over 728 games which was just a notch better than Lagares’ .281/.322/.403 in 633 games. The interesting thing to note however was that while Cain performed pretty well at all the levels he played in the minors, Lagares seemed to show improvement over time. For instance in all levels below A+, Cain posted a .311/.387/.446 line in 206 games while Lagares only had a .255/.297/.372 line in 327 games.

However, Lagares showed marked improvement in the minor leagues from A+ onwards as compared to Cain who continued to produce stats in a similar fashion—in 728 games Cain hit .294/.366/.430 as compared to Lagares’ line of .308/.347/.435 over 306 games. If we consider these numbers, Lagares and Cain actually have a lot in common. Considering that Lagares improved over the course of his minor league career to eventually be comparable to Cain at the high minor league levels, is it that unreasonable to believe that Lagares could continue to make improvements at the plate in 2015 like Cain did this past year? It’s certainly reasonable to speculate that with Lagares’ steady improvement over the years, maybe he starts to trend more towards the hitter he was in the high minor leagues moving forward.

Again comparing Cain’s 2013 to Lagares’ 2014, what can be noted is that the two had nearly identical strikeout rates (20.4% vs 19.2%) and isolated power (.098 vs .101) while posting the same line drive rates (21.9%).

While Lagares did have a slightly higher BABIP compared to Cain (.341 vs .309), overall Lagares’ numbers were slightly better as a whole, so even if his stats regressed a little bit, the point is that Cain still ended up breaking out in 2014 with slightly worse numbers in 2013. One thing to note is that Cain had a much higher walk rate in 2013 (7.5%) compared to Lagares in 2014 (4.4%). Oddly enough though, in Cain’s breakout year he ended posting a 4.8% walk rate, so maybe there is hope for Lagares after all.

juan lagares claps

Additionally on the base paths, Lagares compares quite favorably. In 2013 and 2014 Juan Lagares stole 6 and 13 bases respectively. In 2012 and 2013 Cain respectively stole 10 and 14 bases, and in his breakout season Cain managed to steal 28 bases.It’s not crazy to think that Lagares could be a mid-20’s steal candidate in 2014 considering the ability he showed late in 2014 when he was given the green light. In fact, Lagares was no slouch in the minors either. Over his minor league career Lagares managed to steal 100 bases compared to Cain who stole 140.

Lastly there’s defense: both players are quite adept defensively, but Lagares is arguably the best centerfielder in baseball. Among qualified players, Lagares was the only one in baseball to be in the top 5 in DRS, UZR, and UZR/150 besides Alex Gordon. So assuming his defensive value remains constant, I don’t think it’s too lofty to believe that Lagares can have the same impact as Cain next year if his bat improves. In 2014 Cain was a 4.9 fWAR player while Lagares was pretty good himself at 3.8 fWAR. But what exactly does Lagares need to work on?

To me the big thing that stuck out was Lagares’ performance versus RHP. In 2014 Lagares hit a whopping .349 against LHP but only .264 against righties. While he showed improvement from his 2013 numbers where he hit .241 against LHP and .243 against RHP, Lagares has got to improve against RHP to even out his splits.

In 2013 Lorenzo Cain hit .238 against LHP and .256 against RHP but drastically improved on those figures this year by hitting .313 against LHP and .297 against RHP. If Lagares could hit righties with more authority, there’s every reason to believe that he can post similar numbers to Cain considering he already hits southpaws better. Outside of June and July, Lagares had a pretty solid year, but he’s got to build on this past season to really break out.

What is encouraging is that Lagares had pretty even Home/Away splits, so I’d continue to hope that Lagares can be a consistent player for the Mets in 2015. Another thing I do like about Lagares is that he had slightly better numbers with men in scoring position this past year, and that has been a trademark for Cain this postseason. That said, Lagares has got to improve upon hitting off-speed pitches. With more exposure to the league, and with more experience, I think Juan can greatly improve in this facet of his game as well. Moving into 2015, if Lagares continues to make steady improvements, he could be a very valuable hitter at the top of the Mets lineup.

Overall, do I project Lagares to become the next Lorenzo Cain? No. But what I am saying is that it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to assume that Lagares can breakout like Cain did this past year. Currently STEAMER projects Lagares to hit .256/.298/.360 with a 2.6 fWAR in 2015. I think those figures are shockingly low. Lagares has the potential to put up that level of fWAR defensively alone. He’s a good bet to approach the 4.8 fWAR Cain posted this year, or at least get into 4.0 fWAR territory with some moderate improvement.

In closing, Lagares has always shown steady improvement at the minor league level, and has made adjustments while continually improving at the major league level as well. Everything points to a player that’s gaining experience and continuing to develop and evolve as time passes. Nothing would make me happier than to see Juan Lagares take that next step and become every bit as good as Lorenzo Cain – and that he can pull it off as soon as next season.  Let’s Go Mets.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader yfern328. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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How Should Mets Handle Duda’s Struggles Against LHP? Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:09:23 +0000 lucas duda

Coming off an incredible breakthrough season in 2014 that saw him hit 30 home runs while driving in 92 runs, Lucas Duda may participate in the MLB All-Star tour of Japan, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

While a final decision hasn’t been made yet, it’s quite an honor that Major League Baseball is looking at Duda to represent the best of the best for their team.

Duda prospered after the Mets traded Ike Davis and decided to stick with him as their regular first baseman. He posted an .830 OPS in 153 games and was one of the few bright spots for the Mets this season.

After he was finally moved up in the batting order, Duda stabilized the lineup from the cleanup spot and at times carried the team.

If there’s a knock on Duda, it’s that he needs to improve against lefties. He batted just .180 with two homers and a .516 OPS in 125 plate appearances against southpaws. But I’ll also point out he seemed to be improving in that regard during the final month of the season which included a clutch walk-off home run in the last series of the season off Astros lefty Tony Sipp.

On Sunday, I asked a few of our writers about Duda moving forward and here’s what they had to say:

Matt Balasis – He’s got to show he can do more against lefties, a .180 average just isn’t going to cut it. That being said he looked a little better as the year progressed and he needs to have the chance to be the everyday guy. Give him 6 weeks out of spring training and if he’s still under the Mendoza line pull the plug and platoon him.

Connor O’Brien – Duda is a really good hitter – against righties. As good as he is against RHP, he still shouldn’t be played against lefties. I don’t care what his final home run total is, a .180/.264/.252 line against lefties is unacceptable. Eric Campbell is already on the roster. Why not get more production out of first base if Campbell is already on the team anyway? Good overall numbers by Duda against righties should not force the Mets to just give up getting maximum production out of the position.

XtreemIcon – This is the first winter in Duda’s career he knows he’s the starter. While he can’t continue playing everyday hitting LHP the way he does, I think he deserves one offseason of being able to solely focus on improving against LHP because he doesn’t have to focus on winning a starting job. The Mets should give him three months into the season playing every day. If he’s still struggling against LHP, then get Campbell in there for now and next offseason look for a strict platoon partner if Campbell doesn’t grow capably into that role.

We’ll be hearing a lot more about Duda’s needed improvement against southpaws this offseason as both Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson pointed to it as an opportunity in their end of the season press conferences.


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