Mets Merized Online » Lucas Duda http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 12:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Numbers Point To A Big Season For Travis d’Arnaud http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/numbers-point-to-a-big-season-for-travis-darnaud.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/numbers-point-to-a-big-season-for-travis-darnaud.html/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:27:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173844 travis d'arnaud

Very few backstops have the ability to manipulate the strike zone and manufacture K’s like Travis d’Arnaud. That talent immediately caught the eye of the Mets front office following his 2013 debut.  His quick hands translates at the plate into raw power and bat speed.

There were obstacles and defensive flaws that d’Arnaud had to hurdle last year, but by the end of season, he had not only realized his offensive potential – but sustained it over the remaining 53% of his career at-bats.  With his high grade power, is it too soon to ordain him the catcher of the future, especially on the heels of a promotion by Kevin Plawecki?

Since June 24thof last year, after d’Arnaud was called back up from the minors, he batted .272 with an .805 OPS for the remainder of the year.  Translated into advanced metrics, that production was equal to a .350 wOBA and 128 wRC+.  Experience-wise, that accounted for 257 of his 484 total at bats (53%), representing the majority of his major league career.  The Mets are placing a high bet on his output so it’s important to determine what ailed him initially.

The first outlier that became immediately noticeable through his first 227 at-bats was a .219 BABIP.  That’s the time between his 2013 debut and 2014 demotion, where he was a .189 hitter with a .269 slugging percentage.  Most major league hitters eventually trend towards the league norm for BABIP which is around .300 and varying slightly from year to year.  While the sample size is small, there’s such a drastic difference in that same figure once he returned from Triple A Las Vegas.  What effect could the coaches out in the dessert really have had in that short period of time?

Credit Triple-A manager Wally Backman and hitting coach George Greer for implementing a simple, yet repeatable approach.  The idea was to swing at good pitches in the strike zone, regardless of the count.  The mechanical fix was even more simple, just a little back foot shuffle, but it arguably had the biggest impact on the rest of his season and possibly his career.

The major league staff had instructed TDA to move his back foot away from the plate in order to promote plate discipline.  The result was an inability to cover the strike zone with the barrel of the bat and pitchers took full advantage of it (ESPN Heat Map).  Once the AAA coaching staff recognized the issue, they moved his back foot closer to the plate, allowing him to square his hips up, be a power threat and cover that outside corner of the plate.

Also upon his return, d’Arnaud quickly joined teammate Lucas Duda on the hard-hit ball leader board, otherwise known as Exit Velocity.  He broke in at #33 in the major leagues following the All-Star break and kept climbing on the list up to #17 by mid-August.

A major statistical improvement that emerged as a result of his mechanical fix and improved exit velocity was a spike in BABIP.  His balls in play rate jumped to .287 over his final 257 at-bats, a far more believable career stat than his earlier .219 figure.  Common sense tells us that the mechanical improvement to his stance was simple, but it allowed him to square up the ball and drive it with power again.  Plus, you don’t need an advanced degree in sabermetrics to accept that a harder hit ball is more difficult to defend against and take out of play.  As a result, the fixes created a higher percentage of line drive hits.   There’s more to drill into on those 257 AB’s though, Citi Field might be a mental hurdle, but it has had adverse affects on hitter regardless.

At Citi Field last year, following his demotion, d’Arnaud hit .237 with a .729 OPS and a .243 BABIP at home, despite being a league leader in exit velocity.  He struggled to get a high frequency of balls to land for hits, but when he made contact, it was strong.  Notice the difference between his OPS and OBP?  That’s a .450 slugging percentage, it’s yet again odd that he’s driving with that much power but still landing so few balls for hits.  Strength and power will only improve with his offseason regimen and it’s reasonable to assume that home batting average will improve.  Let’s, take it to the road.

His statistics away from Citi Field were astonishing during that stretch, almost as if he felt a clear comfort at the plate.  By comparison to his output in Queens, he was a .314/.367/.901 player with a .330 BABIP on the road following June 24th.  The issue for the wide difference?  The Mets BABIP has dropped annually since the fences were first brought in to start the 2012 season.  A partial explanation is the high frequency of defensive shifts that were applied to Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson last year.  However, unless the ball leaves the park, the Mets have the worst chance in all of baseball to land a hit at home if their .266 home BABIP last year means anything.  It’s only been three seasons with the previous dimensions, but this would be something good to pay attention to in 2015.

One quick anecdote that stood out during this evaluation was his ability to manufacture offense against divisional opponents, in any ballpark.  The Mets had a healthy number of divisional matchups following his demotion and those were great moments for d’Arnaud.  His .277/.326/.844 slash line was produced over 23 games at home against the NL East during that stretch.  He managed to topple those numbers on the road, mashing the ball at a .298/.377/.931 rate in 12 remaining divisional games away from Citi Field.

There is a consistent correlation between d’Arnaud’s BABIP and his offensive production, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll range anywhere from .250 hitter at home and a .290 hitter on the road.  I allowed for some regression to settle in on the road because I believe his home average will come up, within reason.  The power should remain consistent too, as he maintained that production throughout his resurgence.

His offense wasn’t perfect during those 257 at-bats though, there were issues that needed to be addressed this offseason.  As I mentioned, his power was simply incredible and ultimately, it hid the fact that he only registered a .319 on base percentage during that stretch.  That can partially be attributed to his aggressive new approach that focused solely on attacking pitches in the strike zone, but still, it needs to come up a tick.  As a result his BB% dropped by an astounding 5.2% compared to his first 227 at bats, although, his K% did also reduce by 3.1% to help offset the lower number of walks.  Let’s be honest though, does anyone really have an issue with that OBP if he’s slugging at a high rate in the middle of the lineup?

While it’s reasonable to assume top end prospect Kevin Plawecki will get his shot at some point this year, it’s hard to imagine GM Sandy Alderson awarding the job to the younger, less experienced player if d’Arnaud is mashing at the plate and providing the young aces with a high percentage of called-strikes.  While power may not be a word that’s synonymous with the Mets, it’s a known commodity to Alderson and basically any GM who wants to win ball games.

This season looks to be something special for d’Arnaud, although this is just one man’s perspective. When the book is closed on his career, what do you believe TDA will accomplish in Queens?

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Mets Captain Is Locked On, Wright Says Playoffs Or Bust http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-captain-is-locked-on-wright-says-playoffs-or-bust.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-captain-is-locked-on-wright-says-playoffs-or-bust.html/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:00:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173167 david wright by NY Post

Kevin Kernan of the NY Post caught up with David Wright who is swinging a bat again pain free and insists he is right where he needs to be for 2015, a season in which he expects to be playing in October.

“I fully expect us to be in the playoffs,” the 32-year-old Wright said. “It’s not coming out here and boasting, but I think where we stand right now, we’re a much better team than we were last year and in years past. You win with young, dominant pitching and we have quite a bit of that, and offensively, we are going to be better than we have been.”

Wright is swinging a bat and is 100 percent ready to go as he gets his body and his mind in shape at the Mets training facility in Port St.Lucie. “In my eyes, I’m not too far behind from where I am normally at this time of year.”

Wright and many other Mets have embarked on this new offseason training program with Mike Barwis of the Discovery Channel show “American Muscle.”

“I’ve always worked out in the offseason, but I wish I would have had something like this earlier in my career,” Wright said. “It’s not just about getting yourself the strongest and the fastest. Everything we do in here is engineered, and it will translate to the baseball field. We’re all paying to do this. To see the dedication of all the guys throughout the organization is pretty impressive.”

Joining Wright at PSL are teammates Lucas Duda, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Travis d’Arnaud, Jeurys Familia, Rafael Montero, and Ruben Tejada.

Getting back to Wright, the Mets captain is a man on a mission and he vows to bounce back in a huge way and lead the Mets to the postseason in 2015.

“The thing that solves all problems is winning. The burden is on us as players and as an organization to go out there and win baseball games. If we start winning baseball games in April, the fans will come out, but we have to prove we have a good product on the field.”

“That is where the bar is set. The bar is not set to be just better than last year or to be a .500 team. The bar is set to be a playoff team.”

I really love hearing him talk like this. Wright needs to set the tone and really bust out of the gate next season as an offensive force and leader. All the young players respect him and look up to him. This is his team.

I’m very optimistic that Wright is going to have a great comeback season in 2015 and that his presence in the middle of the Mets lineup is going to make players like Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares better. I can’t wait to get this season started. LGM

(Photo credit: Dennis A. Clark)

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Murphy, Duda, Mejia, Gee, Tejada File For Arbitration http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/murphy-duda-mejia-gee-tejada-file-for-arbitration.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/murphy-duda-mejia-gee-tejada-file-for-arbitration.html/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 02:42:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173146 daniel murphy

As expected, Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada were among the 172 players who filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday.

MLB teams now have until Friday to submit their bids for each player, although keep in mind both sides can still negotiate before their arbitration hearings and agree to a deal. I expect that to be the case for all five players. Salary arbitration hearings are held during the first three weeks of February.

MLB Trade Rumors posted their arbitration projections as follows:

The Mets avoided arbitration with right-hander Bobby Parnell last week, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $3.7 million. That was the same salary he earned for 2014.

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Duda Training In Port St. Lucie, Hoping To Find His Groove Against LHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/duda-training-in-port-st-lucie-hoping-to-find-his-groove-against-lhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/duda-training-in-port-st-lucie-hoping-to-find-his-groove-against-lhp.html/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 16:43:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172638 lucas duda

While New York City continues to endure bitter freezing temperatures and icy cold arctic winds, down in Port St. Lucie, Florida the weather is sunny and perfect as the first signs of Spring Training begin to emerge.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets’ offseason strength and conditioning camp is back in session in Port St. Lucie, where several players are already in attendance, including David Wright, Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia and Josh Edgin.

The Mets’ strength and conditioning coach, Mike Barwis, is busy getting the players to focus on their nutrition as well as strength, speed and agility drills. And joining him will be new hitting coach Kevin Long who is anxious to get started and working with his hitters.

Lucas Duda told SNY that he is excited and looking forward to working with Long, as he continues his offseason goal of improving his performance against left-handed pitching.

While Lucas Duda applauded the addition of Michael Cuddyer, he understands that he could lose playing time to him against left-handed pitching.

“I feel like in the past I’ve hit lefties a little bit better than I’ve shown or I’ve had the confidence to,” Duda said.

“But again if he has to spell me at first base against lefties then whatever is good for the team. Whatever will help us win, I’m all for. I’ll come off the bench or come in late in the game. Whatever it is. Anything to help us win, I think, that’s our main goal and we’ve got to accomplish it this year.”

Despite struggling against lefties in the last two seasons, batting just .180 off them in 2014, Duda believes he can still be proficient against southpaws. In what was a breakthrough season for Duda, he walloped 30 home runs, but only two of them came off left-handers.

First of all, you have to love Duda’s team first approach with regards to potentially losing some playing time. But I do hope he does get the opportunity to show whether his offseason commitment to addressing this issue has in fact worked. He deserves at least a month to show some results before he gets pulled in favor of Cuddyer.

Only 42 days until pitchers and catchers report!

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Projecting The Mets Opening Day Roster http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/projecting-the-mets-opening-day-roster.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/projecting-the-mets-opening-day-roster.html/#comments Thu, 25 Dec 2014 17:00:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172044 juan lagares eric campbell

With the Mets offseason essentially over, here’s my first stab at our projected Opening Day Roster.

Starting Rotation

Matt Harvey – The Mets ace will start the home opener.

Jacob deGrom – Look for Act II to be just as special.

Jon Niese – No way Mets go with five righties in rotation.

Zack Wheeler – Must reduce pitch counts, but young and improving.

Bartolo Colon – An innings eater the Mets can ill-afford to lose.

Bullpen

Bobby Parnell * – He’s Terry Collins‘ official closer when he returns.

Jenrry Mejia – I love Mejia, he’s exciting to watch.

Jeurys Familia – Last January I said he’d be the Mets’ most lethal reliever.

Vic Black – Call him Wild Thing, but with better control he could be special.

Josh Edgin – Ready or not, he’s the key lefty in pen.

Carlos Torres – This underrated long man has impressed.

Sean Gilmartin – Either he makes the Opening Day roster or he’s a goner.

Rafael Montero * – He’ll relieve until Parnell is ready to return.

Catchers

Travis d’Arnaud – Has to put it all together with Plawecki breathing down his neck.

Anthony Recker – His dashing looks and .199 bat assures him a bench spot?

Infielders

Lucas Duda – Minaya was right about his future 30 homer bat.

Daniel Murphy – He’ll be gone by trade deadline if Dilson rakes in Vegas.

Wilmer Flores – I never had any doubt.

David Wright – It all hinges on No. 5.

Ruben Tejada – Collins will look to get him going. Again.

Eric Campbell – Soup is good food.

Outfielders

Curtis Granderson – Moves to LF, Mets pulling all the stops to get him going.

Juan Lagares – You’re looking at your leadoff hitter, and expect 25 SB.

Michael Cuddyer – This “was” the Mets offseason. A lot riding on him.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – With Kirk out of options, it’s his job to lose.

John Mayberry Jr. – He can mash lefty pitching, but you know Terry.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend everybody…

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Duda Represented The Mets Well In Japan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/duda-represented-the-mets-well-in-japan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/duda-represented-the-mets-well-in-japan.html/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 14:10:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171123 lucas duda japan

The legend of Lucas Duda had already reached Japan by the time the Mets first baseman touched down in Kansai International Airport, but the journey ahead of him would certainly be special.  The Hulk had himself a trip overseas, playing as a member of MLB’s All-Star team and also enjoying time off the field with his father, David Duda.

In an era where sports players are viewed as commodities, we often lose touch with the journey they take to achieve professional success and how rewarding it must be when they do.  The Dude’s trip to Japan was a culmination of all the hard work he has put in as a professional, all of which paid dividends during his breakout 2014 season.

Lucas had a fantastic series, playing in four of the seven games against Japan’s very best and helping the squad go 2-2 in those matchups.  Duda batted .400 (4-10) with a 1.100 OPS, knocking two doubles and scoring a run for MLB’s All-Stars.  It shouldn’t go unnoticed that he also went 1-2 against left handed pitching, a part of his game that he believes will improve vastly.  He shared time between left field and first base, but had his best game manning right field.  In the final game of the series on November 20th, he went 3-3 with a double, two singles and a walk, en route to a tough loss to the home team.

Off the field, the Dude made a name for himself signing autographs, participating as an instructor in youth league camps and enjoying the overall “selfless culture” that Japan has to offer.  Many of the player’s dads joined along on the trip and Lucas’ father, David, had quite the experience alongside his son.  The elder joked that he “had to learn not to ask so many questions” after sharing hotel rooms with his son in four different cities.  “He just shuts down…he just wants his quiet time.”

It appears that even international stardom doesn’t even affect the man who speaks softly and carries a big stick. However, stardom is inevitable with success in NYC and with another season like the last, Lucas Duda may finally be the star at home, that he is abroad.

P.S.- I’m devastated that I cannot find the picture of Lucas with his dad.  David Duda and his mustache is the paramount cliché of what it is to be an American dad who loves baseball.

(Photo: Anthony DiComo, MLB.com)

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Oakland A’s Acquire Ike Davis http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/oakland-as-acquire-ike-davis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/oakland-as-acquire-ike-davis.html/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:20:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170529 Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

The saga of Ike Davis lives on.  ESPN’s Adam Rubin has reported that the Oakland A’s acquired the former Met from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for International signing money.  This will be the embattled slugger’s third team in less than a year’s time.

A’s GM Billy Beane jumped right away to pick up the first baseman after he was designated for assignment by the Bucs last week. Perhaps he sees some value in the once promising Davis against RHP, he owns a career .357 OBP, .456 SLG and.813 OPS versus righties.

Former Met Andrew Brown, who Oakland claimed last week, was designated for assignment to make room for Davis.

November 21

The Pittsburgh Pirates designated former Mets first basemen Ike Davis for assignment yesterday.  Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, “As we sit here right now, we’ve essentially committed to Pedro over Ike Davis”.

The organization feels the position must be cleared for resident third basemen Pedro Alvarez, who packs an outstanding power bat, but lacks the defensive prowess to stick at the hot corner.  As of now, Davis is searching for his third team in less than a year’s time.

Ike’s fall from grace has been flat out cataclysmic, no?  Look, I’m fully on board with Lucas Duda, but I still hoped Davis would have a good run at it once he got a fresh start.  It just still baffles me to this day every time I see his name in the papers, it’s another step back for him.  This from a player that flashed so much power that vanished in the blink of a collision. Seriously, that’s what it comes down to.  There’s Ike Davis pre-collision and then there’s Ike Davis post-collision.

Suppose I’ll always have a soft spot for Ike because he made the time when he first came up so special to watch.  He hit home runs and made diving catches over the railing at a time when the team was entering it’s darkest hours.  Now, he’s struggling to stay in the major leagues.

I’m sure someone will pick him up, maybe give him a platoon/DH role somewhere in the American League.  He still managed to compile a .343 OBP during his time in Pittsburgh and he has good skills with the glove.

Sandy Alderson, good call on this one.

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Can We Pencil Lucas Duda In For 30 Home Runs Next Year? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/can-we-pencil-lucas-duda-in-for-30-home-runs-next-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/can-we-pencil-lucas-duda-in-for-30-home-runs-next-year.html/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 16:15:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167585 lucas dudaLucas Duda and Ike Davis rode on very different paths to the major leagues. Davis was a first-round draft pick in 2008 while Duda had to wait until round seven to hear his name read one year earlier. Big things were expected from Davis who has a major league pedigree in place. Duda always seemed like a guy that could develop into an effective power hitter but would likely struggle to find a position. Oh how things change.

Duda wrapped up the 2014 with a career high 30 home runs while Davis hit just 11. Can we expect Duda to hit 30 again next season? Some of those answers can come from looking back at Davis’ Mets career.

In 2012 the Mets thought they had hit the jackpot with Davis. He was flourishing as a defensive first-baseman and hit a career high 32 home runs. During the next few seasons Davis regressed dramatically. He hit just nine home runs in 2013 and that trend continued this season. So what can we expect from Duda in the season following his career high?

Adam Rubin of ESPN makes the case that Duda’s hard-hit ball rate is a good sign:

“The best argument Duda is legit would be his hard-hit ball rate, a stat the Mets have previously pointed to as a reason they like him so much. Based on video review by Inside Edge, which provides data to teams and media, Duda hit balls that rated “hard-hit” in 21.6 percent of his at-bats, ranking him 11th best in the majors among those with at least 300 plate appearances.”

He concludes that this statistic is not an aberration. He has always hit the ball hard. There was only one player with a higher hard-hit ball rate in the National League. His name is Andrew McCutchen.

Another thing that bodes well for Duda are the percentage of home runs he hit at Citi Field compared to on the road in 2014. Duda slugged 14 homers at Citi Field and 16 on the road. That’s 47%. Just in case you need a comparison, only 11 of Davis’ 32 home runs came at Citi Field in 2012. That’s only 34% in a nearly identical number of at-bats.

Rubin concludes “It appears reasonable to believe Duda can replicate his numbers in 2015.” What do you think? Can Lucas Duda replicate his 2014 season next year?mmo presented

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MMO Trade Target: Starlin Castro, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-trade-target-starlin-castro-ss.html/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167295 Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

The Mets have a solid foundation of pitching to go with a young core of position players, many of whom emerged as stars in 2014.  The team is no longer looking to rebuild, their disenchanted fan base has high expectations and a New York based franchise stocked with farm talent should have no trouble making a high impact acquisition in the offseason. In all reality, the winter spending is questionable, although team COO Jeff Wilpon did state that payroll flexibility is available going into 2015.  Regardless, the Mets minor league system is so rich in power pitching that almost any team should be open to making the right deal.  It makes more sense to seek out the best talent in the league first before signing someone out of a weak free agent class.

If the Mets are going to part ways with blue chip prospects, it should net a return that will hurdle the team into contention.  The player should be young, approaching the peak of their power range and under a team friendly contract for multiple years. The “Red Sox Model” of investing in mid-premium talent works when your home ballpark turns routine fly-outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, but Citi Field’s dimensions don’t offer that luxury. Enter Starlin Castro.

The Cubs’ 24 year old shortstop is a flat out stud at his position and his 2014 performance was certainly worthy of his third All-Star selection. Among all qualified major league shortstops, Starlin was 1st in batting average (.292), 2nd in OBP (.339), 3rd in SLG (.438), OPS (.777) and wOBA (.341). If you look at the list of qualified shortstops under the age of 30, Castro is number one in all those categories.  

In 134 games (season shortened by a sprained ankle), he posted 14 home runs (5th) and 65 RBI’s (7th). He played 161 games in 2013 and 162 in 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in those figures if he’d played a full season.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets struggled to hit the ball with men on base this season and it was undoubtedly the difference in a long list of close games that resulted in missing the playoffs for an 8th straight season. Castro’s bat has the stats to qualify him as a difference maker in this category. For his career (2010-2014), he has a (.297) batting average and a (.342) OBP when men are on base.

Equally important is the fact that his production doesn’t dip at Citi Field. It’s rare for any player not wearing a Nationals uniform to maintain their home field production in Flushing, so how does Castro stack up?  Starlin played his first game at Citi Field in 2011 and has posted encouraging numbers there since. His career (.304) batting average and (.429) slugging percentage at Citi deviates in an upward direction from his overall career numbers, but only slightly, and certainly not enough to be considered skewed.  His ability to hit for average with plus power in Queens should be the most relevant stat line of them all.

The cost is where the debate lies. The asking price in assets is going to be steep and it should be, Castro is a top young talent at a premium position for a relatively cheap price. The five years and $43 million left on his very team friendly contract comes with a one-year option for 2020, when he’ll only be 30.

The Cubs aren’t going to settle for a straight up one-for-one trade because that would be a clear signal that GM Theo Epstein is unfit for his job. Realistically, they’ll want some combination of a highly touted front end starter (Zack Wheeler/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard) and a not quite elite, but still top prospect (Rafael Montero/Steven Matz). The Mets might be able to work a Kevin Plawecki into the conversation in order to take one of the top end starters off the table, but the Cubs aren’t totally devoid at catcher and they’re deep at every other position on the field, so it’ll likely come down to strictly pitching.

The Cubs’ bullpen ranked 15th in ERA and gave up the 8th most earned runs in the majors this season, so a top end reliever could be a piece, with a front of the rotation starter, to push a deal  over the top. But that depends on the value Chicago will get initially. For instance, any deal that includes Matz as the second piece instead of Montero is probably where the Mets will end their offer.

My Take

It’s not just the production Castro would bring, but the attention he would take off of David Wright, who desperately needs to revitalize his output after an injury riddled season that included a number of career lows. Having Starlin in the #2 hole with Lucas Duda cleaning up behind him would create a lot of opportunities for David, who has carried this offense plenty of times before. There’s lots of time left to evaluate all the options the Mets have, but if Sandy Alderson is going to acquire a proven top talent at shortstop, Castro is where the conversation should start.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Hot Hand Luke http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166894 daniel murphy lucas duda

The New York Mets wrapped up their 2014 campaign at Citi Field yesterday, taking two out of three from the Houston Astros to finish 79-83 on the year. The Amazins’ concluded their final two games with authority as they head into a highly anticipated offseason. Below are the series takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. In front of a crowd of nearly 35,000 fans, which included his parents, Lucas Duda smashed his 30th home run of the season and rounded out one of the most hysterical dugout celebrations I’ve ever seen on television. The two-run jack was his 14th at home this year, the most by any player at Citi Field in a single season and it was a total no-doubter. To witness a player discover his power stroke in Flushing, in a lineup where he is the protection, is just remarkable. For the series, Duda hit (.333), slugged (.917) and totaled an OPS of (1.250) to go with his 6 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

2. Matt den Dekker turned in one of the best series of his brief Major League career, going 4 for 10 (.400) with an RBI and a run scored. The majority of writers, fans and critics believe the Mets would benefit from another power bat in the lineup and feel that left field is the most logical position for such an acquisition. However, den Dekker put up a strong fight towards the end season to throw his name in the conversation. In the month of September, he hit .328, got on base at a .426 clip and posted an .858 OPS. After being in center for the majority of his amateur and professional career, den Dekker made great adjustments defensively and played a strong left field. An outfield tandem of den Dekker in left and Juan Lagares in center is about as ‘lock-down’ as you can get. I’m probably in the minority here, but barring any overwhelming offers, I’d like to retain the pitching we’d use to trade for an outfielder and watch Matt back them up in left.

bobby abreu3. In the 5th inning of yesterday’s game, Bobby Abreu knocked the 2,470th hit of his 18 year MLB career. Immediately after, Abreu left to a standing ovation as Eric Young Jr. came in to pinch run for the veteran. Citi Field sent the former All-Star off with a warm and joyous applause, but many see this as merely the beginning of Abreu’s career as a Met. The front office believes he had a positive influence on the many young call-ups in search of guidance this season and find his offensive approach to be identical to the organizations hitting philosophy. MLB.com’s Tim Healey summed up the end to Abreu’s storied career nicely, noting that he “was playing against the organization with which he got his professional start (the Astros), playing for the team against which he collected his first big league hit (the Mets), and playing under the same manager as when he was a 22-year-old September callup in 1996 (Collins).” Congratulations Bobby, may all the good fortune that followed you as a ball player continue in the next chapter of your life.

3 Down

1. Jon Niese battled injuries and discomfort all season and ended up leaving Friday’s game early with the return of an accelerated heart rate. Overall, Bartolo Colon was the only Mets pitcher to reach 200+ innings this season. Zack Wheeler came close at 185.1 and despite the fact that he remained healthy all year, he consistently suffered from high pitch counts that forced him to routinely exit games in the 5th or 6th inning. Dillon Gee was also no stranger to the disabled list. Matt Harvey will be coming off of Tommy John Surgery and undoubtedly be under an innings limit and Jacob deGrom, aside from an outstanding rookie campaign, battled shoulder soreness with a stint on the DL. For a team that is grounded in its young starting pitching, there’s a component of durability that’s certainly missing.

2. The Mets did tie for second place, but did so with a losing record for the 6th straight season. The club hasn’t made it to the playoffs in 8 straight seasons now and aside from the “additions” they’ll be getting from the disabled list, it doesn’t appear that much will change heading into 2015. If the team can stay healthy all season, I think we have the pieces to be relevant, at least in the wild card standings, but I hope the front office has a better back up plan than AAA Las Vegas should the youth initiative fall through next year.

3. The season is over with and I’ll still be paying an outrageous cable bill even though I’ll have nothing to watch. Here’s to Spring Training 2015, down in Port St. Lucie.

A special thank you to all those who followed along with 3 & 3 this season, I learned a tremendous amount from all of those who added their input. I also realized that expanding my thoughts on the Mets through MMO is a true passion of mine, so a special thank you to Joe D and all the MMO staff for allowing me to be a part of such a great entity. The writing was as therapeutic as the season was frustrating, but I would not have enjoyed 2014 as much as I did had it not been for Mets Merized Online.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mr. September and the Keystone Kid http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mr-september-and-the-keystone-kid.html/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:06:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166626 Curtis - Granderson

As our beloved New York Mets played their final series in the capital this season, the Nationals continued to work towards locking up the best record in the National League.  The Mets only took 1 of 3 from their division rivals, but there were positive takeaways despite losing the series.  Below is a breakdown in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. Back in late August, it was easy to speculate that Curtis Granderson would be the next free agent bust to hit Flushing, but the veteran outfielder maintained a positive attitude and strong work ethic, which has helped transform him into a doubles hitting, RBI machine.  Since the first of the month, Curtis is hitting (.329) with a (.980) OPS that’s being heavily bolstered by his (.566) slugging percentage.  He’s adapting to the needs of his current team and abandoning the high strikeout/high home run player he was across town.  If Granderson’s current month was stretched over a 150 game season (conservative figure), he’d have 50 doubles, 7 triples, 21 home runs and 114 RBI.  That’s exactly the type of player the Mets should pay $16 million for next season.  Whether he maintains a pace like this next season is highly debatable, but his mid-summer and fall statistics offer enough fuel to counter the negative predictions.  Overall, Curtis slashed out a series line of (.455/.500/1.045), with 3 RBI’s to go with a run scored.

2. Wilmer Flores is an entirely different player as a second baseman.  His range improves drastically in comparison to his reps at shortstop and his plus arm is a tool that finally has the Mets rounding out routine double plays.  In 15 games (54 at bats), Wilmer is batting (.296) while boasting a monstrous (.593) slugging percentage.  Wilmer’s (.321) OBP sits barely above his batting average, so he isn’t walking much when his glove is played at the keystone.  Instead, he’s opted for the conventional route of putting some wood on the ball, giving him 10 runs scored and 8 RBI’s in those 15 games.  Flores continued his playing time at second this series and actually turned in the exact same results as Granderson, posting a line of (.455/.500/1.045).

3. Jeurys Familia was outstanding in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader, pitching a perfect 8th inning and striking out the side. Familia owns a 2.27 ERA to go with 71 strikeouts in 75.1 innings this season.  The other setup relievers have been excellent this season too, including Vic Black, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin. It’s not yet known if Bobby Parnell will return as closer in 2015, but Jenrry Mejia has handled the role admirably and he has been ferocious against left-handed batters.  Whatever happens, the Mets will have one of the youngest and brightest bullpens in all of baseball next season and that’s a huge relief.

3 Down

1.  Injuries absolutely kill this team year in and year out.  It’s reasonable to expect some unscheduled absences during the season, but ask yourself this question, how many players have put in a full season?  For the starting pitchers, only Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon have remained healthy since Opening Day.  For position players, only four Mets have a qualified number of at-bats and only two have played more than 150 games (Lucas Duda has 150 and Curtis Granderson has 152).  We learned during this series that David Wright suffered structural damage in his left shoulder which he played through for the most of the season, and it could be more serious than the Mets originally thought. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been no stranger to the disabled list as well and now he’s undergoing tests with team doctors in New York for an unknown elbow injury.

2.  There are numerous ways to frame statistics and come up with hypothetical scenarios, but consider this “what if”.  What if the Mets went .500 against the Nationals this year?  Actually, they played an odd number of games this season, 19 in total, so let’s say they went one game over .500 and posted a seasonal W-L of 10-9.  In that case, the Mets 2014 record would stand at 83-76 and they would still be in the hunt for the last wild card spot.  Instead, NY finished the season 4-15 against their division rivals.

3.  Let the Matt Harvey media circus resume.  During the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader, news broke that recovering ace Matt Harvey was at Yankee Stadium for Derek Jeter’s final home game.  It’s true that these kinds of actions raise more questions than most Mets fans want answered, but it’s going to be a bigger story than needs to be.  He’s proven that he’s a competitor no matter what uniform he puts on and Matt’s locked into the Orange and Blue for the next four seasons.  Derek Jeter’s last home game is an iconic moment for Yankee fans and Harvey has openly admitted that Jeter is his idol growing up and favorite player.  It could very well signal where he intends to go in the future, or it could just be a 25-year old guy, living in New York City, going to the only baseball game in town.  Sandy Alderson made the rules, which included staying behind when the team traveled for road games, and to the best of my knowledge that didn’t change when the Mets shut down Harvey for the season.  He knew exactly what he was doing and did it anyways.  That’s the beast the Mets have to live with, incredibly talented, but lacks the foresight to cater to a sensitive organization.  Hopefully, Harvey leads the Mets to a World Series title in the next four years, but the bottom line is that I could care less where he goes and what he does on his free time.

addicted to mets button

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3 Up 3 Down: Braves Get The Broom http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-braves-get-the-broom.html/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:41:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166297 wilmer flores dilson herrera

The Mets are finishing up on a strong note and played a great series down in Atlanta this weekend. Below are the usual takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

jacob degrom1. The starting pitching was excellent in this series, particularly the guys making the league minimum, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom. Wheeler went 6.0 innings, allowed 5 hits, struck out 7 batters and held the opposition scoreless. It was Zack’s 21st quality start on the year, the most among Mets starters in 2014. It was also his 11th win, pushing his record over the .500 mark with only one start left on the year. deGrom was stellar as well, going 6.0 innings, allowing 3 hits and one earned run while striking out 10. What else can be said about deGrom at this point? He’s a stud and along with Wheeler and Matt Harvey, the Mets will have one of the best rotations in all of baseball next year.

2. Curtis Granderson is finishing up the year strong. The veteran went 5 for 10 in the series (.500) and posted a 1.615 OPS. In the month of September, Curtis is batting .308, slugging .569 and getting on base at a .400 clip. He also has 13 RBI’s to go along with 12 runs scored during that time frame.

curtis granderson3. Lucas Duda hit his 28th home run of the year in yet another crucial situation to put the Mets ahead 2-0 in the sixth inning of Friday’s game. While it’s easy to admire Duda’s raw power, he still doesn’t get enough credit for how talented an offensive player he is outside the home run department. A perfect example was Saturday’s game, where Lucas went 0 for 3 at the plate, but still contributed an RBI on a sacrifice fly and drew a walk to get on base. Overall, Duda posted a .333/.357/1.024 triple slash line for the series.

3 Down

1. Dilson Herrera was having a great series before straining his right quad in the 6th inning of Saturday’s 4-2 win. His two run blast down the left field line was the difference in that game, but unfortunately, it looks as though the prized prospect might not return for the remainder of the year. There’s a lot of logical reasons why injuries like this happen, but every year I find myself questioning this training staff. Again, I’m not saying injuries, particularly in the leg, don’t happen, but it seems nearly impossible for players on this team to muster a full season without hurting themselves. I wish Herrera a quick and speedy recovery and if this was the end of his 2014 campaign, it was certainly a success for the 20 year old.

travis d'arnaud2. Travis d’Arnaud has to make immediate changes to how he positions himself behind the plate. I touched on mechanical improvements that he needs to make in the offseason in the last 3&3, but this needs to happen now. In this series, d’Arnaud once again got hit on the head with a back swing and was shaken up for a quick second. Luckily he was able to move on without a hitch. This is a major concern though, he already has a history of concussions that stem from this and it doesn’t seem to be improving. There are only so many times he can have his bell rung before it impacts his career. The Mets need to prioritize this and protect one of their top young stars.

3. This is a bit of a reach because it’s hard to gripe about anything, in particular when the team sweeps a division rival and all but ends their playoff hopes in the progress, but it’s a shame Matt Reynolds didn’t get a call-up to finish out the season. With Herrera and David Wright out, now would have been the perfect time to see Reynolds at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at second. The current lineup obviously is clicking, but giving at bats to Ruben Tejada doesn’t help the organization assess its internal assets heading into 2015.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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MMO Fan Shot: Was Flores’ Development Strategy Actually a Budgetary Strategy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-was-flores-development-strategy-actually-a-budgetary-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-fan-shot-was-flores-development-strategy-actually-a-budgetary-strategy.html/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:17:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166121 Wilmer -  Flores

An MMO Fan Shot by Pedro’s Rooster

In Thursday’s New York Post, Sandy Alderson spoke of the organization’s feelings about Wilmer Flores, presumably as part of the team’s future.

“We’re getting a lot more comfortable,” Alderson said. “One of the reasons for giving Flores as much playing time as we have is to build up his number of plate appearances to get him more comfortable to try to establish sort of a baseline.”

After breaking this statement down, I had several questions.

  • Why congratulate yourself for finally getting around to playing your organizations’ top hitting prospect, especially one with such a strong minor-league resume?
  • Why are you in a position in late September to “try” to establish “sort of” a baseline? Couldn’t you have started this evaluation in early May and known for sure by now?

On the surface, this sounds like an obvious mismanagement of a player’s development and the team’s needs. But I don’t believe Sandy Alderson (and the rest of the front office) would botch something this simple and straightforward, especially given that we’re clearly in the middle of a youth movement.

What’s the alternative, you ask? Well, put on your tinfoil hats:

I’m beginning to think Flores was intentionally brought along this way, to hedge against the risk of having to spend on a shortstop this offseason.

You see, if they stayed with Tejada all year, the front office would absolutely be on the hook for upgrading the position this winter—I don’t think anyone internally views him as a full-time option. And while they may have reaped rewards from installing Flores as the everyday SS in May or June, there was obviously a risk that he’d struggle. (And to be fair, he didn’t set the world on fire when he received spotty playing time earlier this season.) And if he struggled, they’d again be on the hook for upgrading.

But (and this is a big conspiracy theory “but”) if they start playing him every day starting in August, they can go into the offseason with a nice, cost-effective question mark. They can claim they don’t have enough information to make a decision on shortstop—they can plausibly say, “we’d like to see more of Wilmer next season, to see what we really have there.” And Mets fans will eat that up.

They’ll forgive a GM who’s willing to give a homegrown prospect a longer leash. Heck, he might be that next great hitting star we’ve been waiting for since Wright came up in 2004.

Nothing Sandy Alderson does is accidental or poorly considered. Wilmer Flores is likely a convenient money-saving device for Alderson and the Wilpons, much like the Ike Davis-Lucas Duda controversy was.

With payroll flat-lining in the $80-90M range, with countless impact free agents ignored by this front office, with approximately $20M in raises due this offseason, with 40% of the payroll tied up in Wright and Granderson, make no mistake: every single decision made by this front office is first and foremost a financial decision, not a baseball decision.

In a perfect world, Flores will deliver on his potential, and make Alderson look like a genius. But even if he doesn’t, his league-minimum salary will quietly save ownership precious millions in their race for financial solvency.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and die-hard Met fan Pedro’s Rooster. 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 FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Another NL East Rivalry Lives On http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-another-nl-east-rivalry-lives-on.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-another-nl-east-rivalry-lives-on.html/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:59:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166052 wilmer flores

Perhaps not as intense as the Mets and Nationals rivalry looks to be in coming years, but the Miami Marlins have played hard fought games against New York all season and like the Mets, they’re a squad that is centered around young talent and a low payroll.  The fish kept finding ways to get hits en route to taking 2 out of 3 games in this series, below are the usual takeaways in this edition of 3 and 3.

3 Up

  1. Wilmer Flores was incredible this series.  Apparently no one told the 23 year old Venezuelan that hitting for power in Citi Field is impossible because he made it a top priority the last three days.  Wilmer’s slugging percentage against Miami this week was 1.273, hitting 2 doubles and 2 home runs to go with 8 RBI’s.  Overall, he registered a .545/.583/1.856 slash line for the series.  It appears Flores has developed a repeatable approach at the plate.  He’s getting the barrel on the ball consistently and has an idea of what pitchers are trying to do to him.  6 of Wilmer’s 8 RBI’s came Tuesday night and the SNY crew flashed a very interesting statistic.  In Mets franchise history, only four players have had two separate 6 RBI nights in a single season.  Along with Flores, that list includes Carlos Delgado, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura.
  2. Lucas Duda regressed towards the end of August, but he has bounced back gradually, adjusting different parts of his offensive approach to remain productive.  It’s easy to dismiss Lucas when he isn’t hitting home runs, but he is much more of an all around hitter than he’s been given credit for.  In this series, Lucas went 4 for 9 (.444), but also drew 4 walks to give him a .615 on base percentage.  This as a major plus because the league caught up to Duda and he’s seeing mostly breaking balls, a common treatment in the majors for emerging sluggers.  Any elite power hitter goes through periods where the home runs slow down, so it’s imperative that Lucas finds a way to contribute when the quality of pitches diminishes.  A perfect example was last night’s game where he managed to punch in two runs with a slap single off a pitch that landed on the upper outside portion of the plate.  Would it have been more fun to see him crank a 3 run shot over the Shea Bridge?  Of course, but I’m firmly content having a 25-30 HR first baseman who also drives in runs with singles and doubles.  Additionally, as his power and average have dipped, his OBP has skyrocketed.  In the month of September, he’s getting on base at a .439 clip.  Eventually, this will come down, but with it, his home runs will go up as opposing pitchers will have to throw their fastball for strikes.  When they do, there will be misses over the plate, the Hulk will be unleashed and moonshots will resume.  One other thing, Duda is hitting .308 against left-handed pitching this month and getting on base at a .400 clip against them.
  3. Have to give the final “Up” nod to Jacob deGrom, his performance on Monday night was spectacular.  He made the first 8 Marlins batters look completely lost at the plate, striking them out one after the next in dominate fashion.  Ironically, the first hit came off of the opposing pitcher, Jarred Cosart, but deGrom got back to work and cruised up to the 7th inning nicely after that.  The outfield was playing oddly deep in that inning and the Marlins took advantage with a series of hits that landed in front Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares, allowing them to briefly take a 3-2 lead.  The Mets offense would come back with go ahead runs in the bottom of the frame, but the bullpen could not hold on to keep Jacob’s W in line.  Another hard luck loss for the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but not before tying the major league record for number of consecutive batters struck out to start a game.  Congrats sir.

3 Down

  1. This isn’t an indictment of Juan Lagares, but the centerfielder may be out for the rest of the season after spraining his right elbow in the 4th inning of Tuesday night’s game throwing to second base.  This is a major downer, obviously there’s only 9 games left in the season, but Juan has hands down been my favorite player to watch this year.  He was also hitting .317 in the month of September, working hard to end his first full campaign on a high note.  First priority is to get healthy for next season though, so if Tuesday marked the end to Lagares’ season, tip of the hat to this young lad.  If he doesn’t win a gold glove award, I’m going to explode.
  2. Travis d’Arnaud has got to improve his footwork behind the plate.  Bobby Ojeda did an excellent job breaking down TDA’s mechanical flaws during last night’s pre-game segment with a side by side comparison to backup catcher Anthony Recker.  Travis comes up flat and doesn’t sets his throwing arm back far enough before firing to second, forcing him to add an extra hitch in his release.  This adds another second for the runner and more pressure to d’Arnaud’s timing resulting in rushed misfires over the second basemen’s head.  One second seems harmless, but it’s the difference between locking up runners and sailing the ball into center field.  However, like Ojeda, I believe d’Arnaud will improve in the offseason.  Also, his catching abilities are much more valuable than he gets credit for.  There were several pitches in this series that were clearly out of the strike zone before Travis snapped them back in with the flick of his wrist.  This ability, along with his game calling, are two very underappreciated aspects of his game.
  3. Last down goes to the farewell tour that stopped by Queens on Tuesday night.  Bud Selig’s vote of confidence for Fred and Jeff Wilpon is infuriating at this point.  Look, I understand that blindly spending money in free agency this offseason will not cure this Met’s post-season woes.  However, Selig is avoiding the bigger picture.  Financial prowess doesn’t just pertain to offseason acquisitions.  It deals with retaining talent that is set for a raise in the offseason.  It deals with acquiring talent midseason in the midst of a playoff hunt, when other players undoubtedly go down or underperform.  It deals with justifying the price the Mets charge their fans to go see a game.  This isn’t Oakland, it isn’t Kansas City, it’s New York.  No one is fooled by the numbers, the product, or the slick sales pitch.  The Mets are going to miss the offseason for an 8th straight year and despite having the pieces to build a dominant contender going into next season, it looks like the organization is instead banking on a miracle.  I’ll write later on about other options this team can exercise in the offseason, but regardless, the approach for next year should have been described as ”we’ll spend when the right opportunity presents itself”, not “we’re still broke, but it’s all good”.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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Can We Really Trust Lucas Duda? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/can-we-really-trust-lucas-duda.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/can-we-really-trust-lucas-duda.html/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165948 lucas dudaOn August 1st, Lucas Duda was batting .263. He had driven in 61 runs and had 20 home runs under his belt. Since that date, his numbers have slipped drastically. This morning he wakes up to a .248 batting average and has added 7 more home runs. The numbers tell the story of an emerging slugger at first base. The eye test tells a slightly different tale.

Since Duda went on his home run rampage on the west coast, he hasn’t been the same guy. Instead of a feared slugger, he’s been an average hitter in the middle of a very average lineup. Over that stretch, from August 1st through today, Duda is hitting just .211. It seems like he’s coming up time after time in big spots and just isn’t getting it done.

The question is, can we trust Duda heading into the 2015 season?

In order to win in 2015, most fans agree that Sandy Alderson must add a left fielder and a shortstop. Neither position has been filled internally and it seems as if the free agent crop is weak at best. This leaves the door open for a trade, likely involving the abundance of pitching talent. Questions surrounding Duda create yet another hole heading into a key season.

lucas duda ike davisIf you trust that Duda will hit 30 home runs in 2015 then you have nothing to worry about. While Ike Davis was slowed down by Valley Fever, it’s easy to draw comparisons between his 2012 season and Duda’s 2014 campaign. Both hit below .250, both will strikeout around 140 times and both challenged the 30 home run mark. Davis ended up smashing 32 while Duda sits at 27. In 2013, Davis slipped off the charts, hitting just 9 home runs in 103 games.

One statistic that works in Duda’s favor is his at bats per home run. Duda ranks 12th in Major League Baseball, sandwiched between Chris Davis and Adam Dunn, in at bats per home run. He hits a home run every 17.6 at bats, an impressive number by any measure.

Another thing that you love about Duda is his on base percentage. Alderson loves guys that can get on base and Duda does it better than any Met. His .349 OBP is 42nd in Major League Baseball, largely because of the incredible plate discipline he has showed this year. He’s walking a ton and by some accounts has become too patient. Keith Hernandez often points this out during Mets telecasts.

So now I turn the question to you. Do you trust Lucas Duda going forward? Is first base a position that Sandy Alderson has to look at heading into 2015, or are you confident handing the job to The Dude?

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3 Up 3 Down: Playoffs? Nat Happening. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-playoffs-nat-happening.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-playoffs-nat-happening.html/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165822 bartolo colon terry collins

Yesterday, the Mets wrapped up a 4 game series against their division rival, the Washington Nationals.  Prior to the start of Thursday’s series opener at Citi Field, the Mets were 7-2 in the month of September and on the back end discussions of the wild card race.  This matchup confirmed two things, the Mets are not able to compete with the best team in their division and they are not headed to the playoffs.  The Amazins’ ended up losing 3 of 4 at home, below are the best and worst takeaways in this edition of 3 and 3.

3 Up

1.  Juan Lagares is no stranger to the “Up” list.  All year, he has shown measured growth and improvement in all facets of his game, offense in particular.  In this series, Juan went 6-16 (.375) with 2 doubles, batting out of the 2 hole in all four games.  The #2 spot in the lineup card is where the young center fielder thrives best.  His numbers out of the 2 hole are fantastic this year, owning a triple slash line of .375/.531/.943 in 32 at bats (ESPN.com).  2014 has been an incredible year for Lagares, he is on a short list of players that has salvaged what little bragging rights Mets fans have left.

2.  Lucas Duda had a decent series, getting on base at a .375 clip, but also passed a big test against one of the game’s elite left handed pitchers on Friday night.  With Gio Gonzalez on the mound,  Lucas went 1-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Mets 4-3 win.  While one game is not enough to declare him capable against southpaws, Lucas has improved slightly against lefties over the last couple months and turned in a few big hits in situations where he is facing one.  The learning curve for left handed power hitters can be much steeper, but I believe Duda has turned in a valuable 2014 campaign with marked improvement in a lot of areas.

3. Curtis Granderson has come alive since being moved to the #6 hole.  He remained in that slot this series and produced a triple slash line of .308/.400/.862 in the four game set.  If this is where Granderson finds a home everything else should be irrelevant.  At this point, all that matters is that he is as productive as his salary would suggest.  In 80 at bats from the #5 or #6 spot this year, Granderson is batting .362, slugging .650 and producing an OPS of 1.091.  He also has 6 doubles, a triple and 5 home runs to go along with 20 RBI’s when hitting in the middle of the order.

3 Down

1. The Mets have to do a better job against the top team in the division. The Nationals are now 9-1 at Citi Field this year, 13-3 overall, and have completely dominated with their pitching and hitting.  Washington’s pitching staff owns a 2.31 ERA against the Mets and their hitters are batting .280, with 25 home runs and an .815 OPS.

2. Getting on base does not appear to be an issue for the Mets, but getting across home plate certainly has been all year.  New York left 27 men on base this series and batted .176 with runners in scoring position.

3. Bartolo Colon’s ejection was a rare display of emotion from a Mets player, which was probably the only part of the whole fiasco that I appreciated.  In the end, Bartolo had no one to be frustrated with but himself for allowing home runs to Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon.  Over the years, I’ve come to understand the unwritten rules of baseball more and more, but hitting an opposing batter simply because the guy in front of him took you yard is an utterly selfish thing to do.  Colon only put in 3 innings of work, gave up 7 hits and 5 earned runs while leaving his team to try and battle back from the results of his poor outing.

Lets.Go.Mets

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Grandy Man Can http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-grandy-man-can.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-grandy-man-can.html/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 15:47:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=165231 curtis granderson

Let’s take a brief look at some of this weekend’s highs and lows in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. Curtis Granderson needed to turn in a great series and that is exactly what happened this weekend. The veteran right fielder went 5-for-12 (.417 Average) with a double, two home runs, six RBI and three runs scored.  He was also able to draw two walks.  As of yesterday, Curtis is tied with Mike Trout for 3rd in walks among all major league qualified outfielders with 72 on the year.  When looking at his numbers in comparison to the other major league outfielders ranking in the top 10 in walks, Granderson is one of 3 players with a BABIP that’s lower than .300.  In fact, his number (.249) is drastically less than the other two, with St. Louis’ Matt Holiday coming in at .295 and Toronto’s Jose Bautista generating a .291 in-play average.  Curtis’ BABIP has been heavily cited throughout the season as a sign of bad luck, but it also could speak volumes to his need to adapt to defensive shifts used often on the slugger.  If he can work in the offseason to evolve as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter at home, while still pulling pitches on the low and inside part of the strike zone, it will give the Mets a more realistic version of the player Sandy Alderson expected to be signing.  Against righties, Granderson is slugging .846 from that portion of the plate this year (ESPN.com), so developing a game inside the ball park for pitches on the rest of the plate will benefit his game tremendously.

2. Six different Mets took a pitch out of the yard this series, giving the team a total of seven home runs, with notable blasts coming from up and comers under the age of 30.  Travis d’Arnaud hit his 13th on the year and continues to lead all NL rookies in the category.  Dilson Herrera hit the second long ball of his brief career, helping to generate a .500 slugging percentage in his first 34 major league a- bats.  Lucas Duda added his 27th home run in the ninth inning of Friday’s matchup and is now 3rd in the National League in homers, 2nd among first basemen to Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo (30).

3. Matt den Dekker and Juan Lagares are both doing excellent jobs of translating their speed and overall baseball IQ from the outfield to the basepaths.  While he didn’t have his best offensive performance this series, den Dekker has gotten on base at a .370 clip in 22 games since being recalled from AAA Las Vegas in August.  More importantly, his ratio of walks to runs scored during that time is nearly 1 for 1, having sprinted across home plate 15 times compared to his 16 walks.  His batting average is ascending slowly, but still only at .261 since the call up, so he is still finding a way to make an impact offensively, while continuing to adjust to major league pitching.  Matt scored two runs off of his two walks in Friday’s game.  Meanwhile, Lagares has been unbelievably efficient with the use of his explosive speed, going 3 for 4 in stolen bases this series.  The lone failed attempt came in Saturday’s game and marks the only time he’s been nabbed in his last 10 attempts.

3 Down

1. Jenrry Mejia managed to record a save in yesterday’s 4-3 victory, but just barely.  The closer allowed 4 hits, including a home run to Jay Bruce, while surrendering 2 earned runs before shutting the door.  In the month of September, Mejia is 3 for 3 in save opportunities, but is doing so with an ERA of 6.00 and an even WHIP of 2.00.  My concern is that a much needed bout of luck is overshadowing the fact that he is not in a healthy enough condition to finish out the season.  As always, it depends on the results.  If he is able to finish out the season strong and battle through adversities such as injury and strong hitting opponents down the stretch, then it could be beneficial.  However, if pitching through physical duress creates an issue that lasts into next season, it would be wise to preserve his body for 2015 and shut him down.  Also, I love the intensity, but tone down the celebration dance when you nearly blow a 3 run lead my man.

2. Home runs were equally helpful and hurtful in this series.  Dillon Gee failed to hold on to a one run lead during his outing on Saturday, giving up home runs in the 6th and 7th innings en route to his 7th loss of the season.  Dillon will always be a pitcher who relies heavily on location, not power.  He must be able to keep the ball down and reduce the number of fly balls, particularly in situations like Saturdays where his offense has given him a lead against a formidable opponent in Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto.

3. The team batted .242 with runners in scoring position this series, with that average being propped up heavily by Friday’s 14 run onslaught.  Looking specifically at the latter two games, the Mets were 2-15 (.133) with a total of 18 men left on base.  For the series, the Amazins’ left a total of 31 men on base.

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3 Up, 3 Down: The Kids Are Alright http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-the-kids-are-alright.html/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:32:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164908 MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

The Mets finished up their three game set against the Marlins with a 2-1 series victory last night. New York has an interesting parallel with their division rivals from Miami, in that both organizations have dwelled at the bottom of the NL East cellar for many years now, but through those years they also stockpiled young, athletic players with the potential to be stars. Let’s see how the Met’s youngsters stacked up in this edition of 3 Up and 3 Down.

3 Up

1.  Matt den Dekker, Juan Lagares and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are a stellar defensive unit in the outfield, they’re fast and fearless, but that speed and tenacity has transitioned recently at the plate. Of the three, I’ve been most impressed with den Dekker as of late. The indictment against Matt has always been that his offense may never develop enough to give his glove an everyday spot in the lineup. I’m only evaluating a small sample size, but MDD is showing improvement in areas that project future success. Mainly, he’s reverted to a shorter, more compact swing, allowing him to turn on pitches quickly. He’s also showing vast improvements in his plate discipline. In his first 12 games in August, he was seeing an average of 12.4 pitches per game. In his last seven, that number has gone up to 16.4 pitches per game, with a 22% increase in strikes. His walk rate has remained relatively flat, but now Matt is seeing better pitches and taking better swings. The results are fantastic as den Dekker left Miami with a triple slash line of .545/.615/1.252, plating a run, swiping a base and scoring twice. His defense holds up pretty well to his counterpart in center field as well.

2.  Juan Lagares is no stranger to Mets fans at this point. He continues to improve in every facet of his game, becoming more of a student, while retaining his ‘hair on fire’ style of play.  Lagares took tremendous strides in this series and gave us a glimpse of a superstar in the making.  First base coach Tom Goodwin has challenged Juan to transition his speed in the outfield to the basepaths and unsurprisingly, it’s been a success. Juan had three stolen bases in three attempts against the Marlins this series. In his last six games, he is 5-for-5, as Goodwin at times has forced him to steal. Lagares noted that he had previously been hesitant given the duress on his hamstring, but at 100%, he seems unstoppable. Prior to his recent streak, he was 4-for-7 all year. It also seems that the coaching staff is making a unique case for Lagares’ approach at the plate by ditching the one-size-fits-all philosophy and building on Juan’s strengths. Pitchers began to recognize his ability to hit balls on the outside of the plate, so they started going inside to him. Lamar Johnson worked with Lagares to pull the ball on the inside and it translated into home run power. Opposing pitchers are once again pitching him low and outside the strike zone and Juan has adjusted nicely by continuing to drive those balls to the opposite field. Tuesday, Lagares put his talents on exhibition, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. Overall, the center fielder batted .500 with an OPS of 1.105 in South Beach.

3.  Little “d” on the mound and behind the plate, means a W in the books. The battery duo of Jacob deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud has produced a team record of 5-3 in the games they start together, allowing a meager 1.07 walks/hits per innings pitched. Last night kept pace with that production, as deGrom went 6.0 innings, allowing only one earned run while striking out six.  He has lowered his ERA on the season to 2.87 and kept his name hot in the hunt for Rookie Of The Year.  Meanwhile d’Arnaud (the little ‘d’ is killing my auto-correct) continues to emerge as one of the top offensive catchers in the league. He already leads all rookies in home runs with 12, but had a great series, giving his pitchers a boost on offense. Travis produced a triple slash line of .500/.571/1.155 this series and is now a point away from having a .300 OBP and .700 OPS on the year, which is fairly remarkable given his woes prior to returning from AAA Las Vegas. Consistency is the name of the game for the youngsters, it’s the only true measurement of projecting sustained success in the future, and these players named so far have done a great job making the future very bright.

3 Down

1.  Pitching was atrocious for the most part in this series, which for the Mets, has been their strength all year.  Zack Wheeler was fortunate enough to have minimal damage done to his ERA, as it now sits at 3.45.  He only gave up two earned runs in Monday’s loss, but as a whole, he allowed five runs total while he was on the mound. Wheeler again turned in a brief outing, going only 4.2 innings with five hits and two walks, using 114 pitches to get through it all.  Zack clearly has the material to be an ace, but he has yet to figure out a way to keep his pitch counts down and go deeper into games.  Pitching coach Dan Warthen has got to prioritize this and reverse the trend or Wheeler may never reach his full potential. Jon Niese remarkably was able to walk away with a win on Tuesday, thanks entirely to an eight-run offensive outburst by his teammates (Jon did go 1-1 with a run scored to be fair), but he still surrendered 10 hits and six earned runs.

2.  Errors absolutely killed this team.  Jeurys Familia is a relief pitcher, so I’m slightly less aggravated by his two errors in the series, although they were total blunders. Dilson Herrera committed two errors in his three starts and David Wright also had a pair in the series, giving him 15 on the year. Wright is a seasoned vet and a former gold glover, although watching his errors gave me hope and disappointment simultaneously. Hope, because they had nothing to do with injury or lack of range. Disappointment because he was back on his heels when he committed a fielding error and he wasn’t squaring his body up when he made a poor throw. When David struggles from injury, I’m probably his biggest apologist and have been all year. This series was not a good display of The Captain leading by example though.

3.  In game decision making by the manager, in my opinion, cost the Mets their only loss in this series and could have cost the team another loss last night as well.  In the top of the 7th of a tie ball game on Monday night, Terry Collins made an offensive switch to bat Eric Campbell against lefty reliever Mike Dunn, taking Matt den Dekker out of the game.  Conventional wisdom agrees with Collins’ move here, but there were different elements that immediately made me feel like this was a poor choice.  The Marlins were producing runs all night, using all parts of the outfield to knock out base hits. Den Dekker is clearly the better defensive choice, and had also been producing at the plate that night too. In a game where the Mets pitchers were getting lit up, it made sense to leave den Dekker in. The result was Campbell flying out to center and in the following frame he dropped a ball he dove to catch in left field, It was the beginning of an error-filled meltdown. Hindsight is 20/20, but den Dekker was playing great that night and he undoubtedly would have made that catch. This isn’t a knock on Soup, but he’s not an outfielder. I also understand situational hitting, but at the same time, this is supposed to be a developmental period for our up and coming youngsters.  All position players who are looking to lock down a job in 2015 should be tested in all situations across nine innings of baseball to see what they’re really made of. As for last night, leaving Carlos Torres in to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth, instead of pinch-hitting Curtis Granderson, was a dangerous choice that just barely paid off. The entire reason behind that decision was so that Torres could face Giancarlo Stanton in the bottom of the eighth. The result?  Stanton cranked his 36th home run of the year, a magnificent bomb to left field.  Again, this is another case of hindsight after the fact, but I was baffled when I saw Torres toss a batting helmet on.  If it weren’t for a slick defensive play by Lucas Duda to rob a rocketed baseball off the bat Marcel Ozuna and end the inning, it most certainly could have backfired.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Mets Phil Up on Momentum For Miami http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mets-phil-up-on-momentum-for-miami.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-mets-phil-up-on-momentum-for-miami.html/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 14:21:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164748 dilson herrera jenrry mejia

The Mets went almost entirely with home grown talent this weekend against the Phillies as clubhouse veterans such as Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Curtis Granderson saw their playing diminished for various reasons.  The results?  The Amazins’ added another series W to this year’s resume.  Below are the usual 3 Up/3 Down takeaways.

3 Up

1.  Sunday was an interesting sight as the Mets trotted out three former center field prospects in Matt den Dekker (LF), Juan Lagares (CF) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (RF) to defend the outfield.  As a unit, they also accounted for half of the offensive production yesterday, scoring 3 runs, stealing 3 bases while putting up a slash line of .333/.500/.833.  Defensively, Matt den Dekker played some great defense all series, making a web gem catch in Saturday’s loss to rob Ryan Howard of an extra base hit.  He also put in a great bid to gun down Freddy Galvis at home plate off of a sharp single by Jimmy Rollins, but Anthony Recker was unable to hold on to the one hop toss from Matt, despite on a dime.

2.  Jacob deGrom resumed his campaign for ROTY by having an excellent outing on Friday.  The former Stetson standout went 7 innings, allowing only 4 hits, 1 unearned run and 2 walks while punching out 5.  The 26 year old rookie has some outstanding numbers at home this season, posting a 1.68 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, a 3.06 strikeout to walk ratio, 0.50 home runs per 9 innings while opponents bat a meager .215 against him at Citi Field.

3.  Wilmer Flores had an outstanding series.  The 24 year old Venezuelan turned a great performance at the plate and with the glove.  Flores had a triple slash line of .500/.545/1.145, scored 2 runs, plated an RBI and even swiped a base.  On defense, Wilmer helped turn four separate double plays while also flashing some nice range, robbing Ben Revere of a base hit with a diving snag in yesterday’s win.

4. A bonus “UP” for Dilson Herrera who made his major league debut and earned his first hit, walk and RBI during the three game set. The beginning of what should be a fantastic career for the 20-year old second baseman.

3 Down

1. Curtis Granderson is spiraling downward rapidly since the All-Star break.  The struggling slugger only played two games in the series, getting a day to “clear his head” (a.k.a. benched) on Sunday.  Granderson went 0-8 with 2 strikeouts and despite one spectacular catch on Saturday night, his defense is extremely conservative and overall a liability.  It doesn’t help his cause that Lagares and den Dekker are spectacular within their respective regions, but there were several outfield hits that either of Granderson’s counterparts would have made and these hits ended up being the majority difference in the Amazins’ lone loss from the series.  Terry Collins disregarded the hits as more luck than anything else, but Curtis has lost a step in his speed to the ball and his bat isn’t hot enough to make up for the lack of defense.

2.  Lucas Duda is slumping hard recently and carried this trend into the Phillies series.  The Hulk went 1 for 12 in the series with no extra base hits, walks or RBI’s.  Duda even contributed a rare throwing error in Friday’s win, although his defense has remained solid overall.  The emergence of Duda was sure to come with some downward movement, but the upcoming series against Miami will be a true test for him and his future.  He is batting 0.87 with two singles in his last two series.  If Lucas is able to break out of his woes and get back to laying the barrel on the ball, it will go a long way towards quieting his critics who do not see his 2014 performance as proof that he is a lock at 1st base for the future.

3. Terry Collins continues to look like a lock in 2015, despite Wally Backman putting up tremendous numbers on the farm and garnering the support of nearly the entire fan base.  News broke during this series that there’s no chance the front office will consider the former World Series champ as a candidate to unseat the current manager and Collins’ remaining contract has little to do with it.  Had something to do with Wally thinking on his own, managing winning ball clubs with constantly fluctuating rosters, just winning in general…I don’t know, something along those lines.

*Side Note*- Condolences to Bartolo Colon for the loss of his mother, whom he buried Thursday prior to the start of this series.  Big ‘tolo didn’t have the best outing on Saturday, but it took incredible guts for him to get on the mound after such a devastating experience.  Thoughts and prayers are with Colon and his whole family.

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Is Lucas Duda The Future At First Base? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/is-lucas-duda-the-future-at-first-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/is-lucas-duda-the-future-at-first-base.html/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=164300 lucas duda

A simple search of my Twitter feed, or my comment history on this site will reveal a strong dislike for Lucas Duda (as a baseball player, I don’t know the man).

This spring when the Mets were auditioning both Duda and the since traded Ike Davis for the everyday first base spot, I strongly backed Ike Davis. In my opinion, I had seen flashes of brilliance from Ike that I hadn’t seen in Duda. Davis hit 32 homers in 2012. He’d shown a disciplined approach, posting walk rates over 10.0% from 2010-2012. He’d hit .302 in an injury shortened 2011. Ike Davis looked like a guy who was waiting to put it all together. Duda looked like a spare part.

I was dead wrong, and I’m here to admit that.

Lucas Duda has turned himself into more than just an average first basemen, while Ike Davis has continued to struggle — recently losing his job in Pittsburgh’s first base platoon.

Yesterday, Mike Petriello of FanGraphs published an article entitled “Is Lucas Duda a Star Now?”, and it really caught me off-guard. I knew Lucas was having a good season, but I hadn’t really put it in perspective by considering his standing amongst his peers. Petriello broke down some of Duda’s stats, and I highly recommend reading the article, as well as everything they do on FanGraphs.

Here’s some numbers in Duda’s stat-line that really jumped out at me.

(All statistics are accurate as of 8/26)

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 7.40.46 PM

 

 

 

 

Despite being more than a full run lower than stars like Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo and Freddie Freeman, Duda ranks an impressive fourth in WAR amongst National League first basemen.

While we all know that Lucas currently sits in third place in the NL in home runs, there’s another metric which really highlights just how much of a power boost he’s provided for this light-hitting Mets team. Check out the NL leaders in ISO:

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 7.37.06 PM

 

 

 

 

This is quite a surprise. Essentially what ISO means is how many extra base hits a player averages per at-bat. As you can see, Lucas trails just the NL home run leader Giancarlo Stanton in this category.

Lastly, we’ll take a look at how Duda stacks up against other first basemen in wOBA, or Weighted On-Base Percentage. wOBA is one of my favorite metrics. While batting average is certainly useful, its flaw is that it weighs all hits equally. Slugging percentage, while weighing hits differently, has proven to be inaccurate over time while leaving certain components out all together. wOBA weighs all hits and ways of reaching base differently in correlation to their actual run value.

Once again Lucas places in the upper echelon.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 7.53.47 PM

 

 

 

 

 

So does, that answer the question? Is Lucas the future at first base for this team? In short, I don’t know. While he’s shown improvements in nearly all facets of his game, there’s no telling what next season will bring. What I do know is that Lucas is having a tremendous season and has a lot of us eating crow– but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t taste pretty good.

What do our knowledgeable readers think?

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