Mets Merized Online » Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:29:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 Featured Post: Jim Callis Talks Mets Prospects With MMO http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-jim-callis-talks-mets-prospects-with-mmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/featured-post-jim-callis-talks-mets-prospects-with-mmo.html/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 18:35:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205244 mets batter silhouette hitter netting

Update: MLB Pipeline released their Top 100 Prospects last night with four Mets on the list: Gavin Cecchini #87, Amed Rosario #79, Dominic Smith #51, and Steven Matz at #15. Full write up to come. 

The following is an interview I conducted with the great Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline who you can follow on Twitter at @JimCallisMLB. Jim was kind enough to answer a number of questions about the Mets minor league system and many of our top prospects and sleepers. Please enjoy.

Mike – Would you say this years rookie class in MLB that included Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was the best you have ever seen?

Jim – I would say that based on the talent of the rookies and how well so many of them performed in the big leagues. Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Miguel Sano, Kyle Schwarber and on and on and on.

MikeGavin Cecchini had a breakout season with the bat this year but struggled in the field, is he someone who surprised you this year? Can you see him as an everyday MLB shortstop?

Jim – The Mets have pushed him pretty aggressively, and it seemed like he finally caught his breath in 2015 and started to hit. I think he is an everyday shortstop, though the floor still jumps out at me more than the ceiling. Solid defender, should hit for some average with a little bit of power and a few walks.

Mike – The Mets graduated and traded away a bunch of prospect talent in 2015, where would you rank their current system as a whole?

Jim – Though the system did get thinned out with graduations and trades, there’s still some intriguing talent, particularly with position players like Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario and Cecchini. Technically, Matz still counts as a prospect until he gets another 15 big league innings. I haven’t stacked up all the farm systems against each other yet, but I’d expect that when I do the Mets will fall in the 11-20 range somewhere.

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Mike – The R.A. Dickey trades seems to be the gift that keeps on giving with Wuilmer Becerra. Is he close to being a Top 100 prospect?

Jim – He’s not close to being a Top 100 guy yet, but he does have that kind of upside, just needs to polish up his tools. He fits the right field profile nicely. That trade keeps looking better and better for the Mets. Syndergaard alone would have been a sweet return.

Mike – Who is one Mets prospect that we won’t see on any Top 10 lists but you really like?

Jim – The system has lost some of its depth, so I don’t know if I’d say I “really like” anyone outside the consensus Top 10. But I am intrigued by Milton Ramos, who has a chance to be a very good defender. We’ll see how he hits.

Mike – I got to watch Robert Gsellman numerous times this year and was impressed with this ability to stay away from barrel contact despite low strikeout numbers. What do you see his potential as?

Jim – No. 5 starter at best. I’m not a big fan of guys who lack a plus pitch and don’t miss bats. Gsellman deserves credit for succeeding in Double-A but I’m skeptical as to how his stuff will play in the big leagues.

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MikeDominic Smith had six home runs this year but led the Florida State League with 33 doubles. Do you think he can be a 15-20 home run guy in the big leagues?

Jim – Definitely. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League and thought he was one of the best hitters there. He has power, you can see it in batting practice, but he’s focusing on developing as a hitter. It’s an easy swing with an up-the-middle approach, and he’ll hit homers as he gets more comfortable and aggressive about turning on pitches.

Mike – Who has a better chance of becoming a MLB starter: Gabriel Ynoa, Seth Lugo, or Mickey Jannis?

Jim – I’ll say Lugo because he misses more bats. Don’t see any of them as big league starters though.

Mike – Is Amed Rosario finally the answer to all the Mets hopes at shortstop?

Jim – Yes. Good defender, plus runner, chance to do some damage offensively once he gets stronger. Cecchini is a safer bet and will get their first but Rosario should be the better player.

MikeLuis Guillorme had an MVP season in the South Atlantic League, any chance he hits enough to be an everyday player?

Jim – Sure. He had an impressive 2015, and while he won’t hit for much power, he makes contact and controls the strike zone. That said, I don’t see him pushing Rosario off shortstop in New York.

Mike – The Mets went heavy on lefty pitchers in the 2015 draft? Which one do you think has the brightest future?

Jim – I like Thomas Szapucki the best, based on reports I heard on him versus Max Wotell, though Wotell went higher and had a better brief pro debut.

Mike – Who has the best raw power in the Mets farm system?

Jim – They don’t have a guy who really jumps out. In terms of usable power, I bet it’s Dominic Smith in the long run.

Great to hear Jim reconfirm what many of us think about Rosario, that he will be the Mets future shortstop and hopefully there for a long-time. As you can tell the Mets have built themselves some serious depth at the shortstop position with talents like Rosario, Cecchini, Ramos, and Guillorme.

That is without mentioning middle infielder Luis Carpio who had a great 2015 season and is jumping up prospect lists. The Mets also spent big on the infield in the 2015 international free agent period getting two of the best shortstop prospects in Gregory Guerrero and Andres Gimenez.

The Mets farm system has certainly taken a hit from graduations and trades but I think the Mets had a very good draft last year while supplementing that with the two talents I mentioned above. They also have a slew of intriguing toolsy young players in the lower levels including Carpio, catcher Ali Sanchez, outfielder Ricardo Cespedes, and pitcher Ronald Guedez.

I want to thank Jim for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. For more on the minors be sure to check out MMO partner site MetsMinors.net.

MLB Pipeline recently released their Top 10 first base prospects with Smith coming in at number three. They also did their Top 10 left-handed pitchers and they had Matz at number three behind Julio Urias and Blake Snell.

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Jacob deGrom Just Keeps Getting Better http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/jacob-degrom-just-keeps-getting-better.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/jacob-degrom-just-keeps-getting-better.html/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 15:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205785 jacob deGrom

Despite being omitted from MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now list, RHP Jacob deGrom‘s stock continues to rise, and for great reason. The 27 year-old has been improving since his debut in 2014, and has the chance to prove that he belongs in the top 5 best pitchers in baseball in 2016.

Start with the fact that nearly all his major stats improved from 2014 to 2015. His ERA in 2014 was 2.69 in 22 games pitched. In 8 more starts in 2015, his ERA dropped to 2.54, which was good for 6th in all of baseball. Other numbers that dropped in his favor were WHIP, BAA, and walks. A closer look at his advanced metrics make his 2015 performance look even more impressive though. To begin deGrom had the 6th best strike percentage in MLB, at 68.1%. That’s better than Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Gerrit Cole, and Madison Bumgarner to name a few. He also had the 4th best OPS against him at .574. Again the pitchers he beat out are a who’s who of stars including, Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray, David Price, Matt Harvey, and Chris Archer.

An interesting stat I came across was when looking into average fastball speed and average perceived speed. Comparing deGrom to his counterpart Matt Harvey, deGrom’s average pitch speed clocks in at 95.28, compared to Harvey’s at 96.18. However, the average perceived speed of their pitches is higher for deGrom than Harvey. Which probably has to do with how well deGrom hides the ball during his pitching motion, and that his average extension when pitching exceeds Harvey’s as well (6.82 to 6.05). They both are listed at 6’4, but deGrom is a bit lankier than Harvey, which could play a part in the added extension in his motion. He also beats another 6’4 strikeout machine in Clayton Kershaw, in both perceived average speed (96.01 to 93.94) and extension (6.82 to 6.43).

And of course, one would be remiss not to mention his tremendous playoff resume that he accumulated in 2015. His first three outings against the Dodgers and Cubs were absolutely dominant, going 3-0 with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. Despite the loss in Game 2 of the World Series, he had pitched well up until the 5th inning, and the Mets offense only mustered two hits in that game. Needless to say, I imagine most fans would take deGrom’s impressive post-season cumulative stat line over those like Kershaw (2-6 4.59 ERA), Price (2-7 5.12 ERA), and Greinke (3-3 3.55 ERA).

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I also wanted to see how some contemporaries of deGrom’s fared from their rookie year to sophomore season. Take a look at some of the numbers:

Kershaw rookie year: 5-5,  4.26 ERA,  1.495 WHIP
Kershaw sophomore year: 8-8,  2.79 ERA,  1.22 WHIP

Bumgarner rookie year: 7-6,  3.00 ERA,  1.306 WHIP
Bumgarner sophomore year: 13-13,  3.21 ERA,  1.212 WHIP

Greinke rookie year: 8-11,  3.97 ERA,  1.166 WHIP
Greinke sophomore year: 5-17,  5.80 ERA,  1.563 WHIP

Now here’s deGrom’s numbers:

Rookie year: 9-6,  2.69 ERA,  1.14 WHIP
Sophomore year: 14-8,  2.54 ERA,  0.98 WHIP

Of course deGrom debuted at 25, a later age then the three examples listed. The point is to illustrate just how dominant deGrom has been to this point in such a short amount of time in the league. And now without any innings limitations lingering over him he could produce even better. Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the 9th round, 272nd overall.

For my money, deGrom would be one of the first players I address with a contract extension. It also is worth noting that he’s represented by CAA Sports, whose other clients include Buster Posey, Matt Cain, Ryan Howard, and Ryan Zimmerman, all of whom signed long term contracts with their respective teams before testing free agency.

With the numbers he’s produced in his first two years in the bigs, deGrom might be in line to challenge for the NL Cy Young Award this season. While he was snubbed by the MLB Network’s “Shredder”, Mets fans will not snub him or his gaudy numbers. If he continues to pitch like this, there’s no doubt the rest of baseball will soon appreciate and marvel at the job he’s done.

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Don’t Bet Against Travis d’Arnaud This Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/dont-bet-against-travis-darnaud-this-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/dont-bet-against-travis-darnaud-this-season.html/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:18:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205767 travis darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud was one of the first players to arrive to the Mets Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, having rented an RV with his brother and their girlfriends to make the cross-country trek from California to Florida right after the New Year.

Since January 11 – more than a month before the reporting date for pitchers and catchers – Travis has been working hard to get himself prepared for what he says will be a very special season.

D’Arnaud, who turns 27 in five days, is hoping this is the year he can put it altogether and avoid the injuries that have plagued him over the last few years. “There’s nothing I could do about the past, so I’m here and my focus is on present. Everyday I go out there with Kevin [Long] and Pat [Roessler] and work hard, set a routine and have fun.”

Expected to get some exposure to first base and left field this Spring, d’Arnaud says he considers it a privilege to be able to handle a rotation that includes Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon – who he calls a mentor that has so much knowledge to share with him and the staff.

“It’s a total blessing and I’m really honored to be a part of this organization. I think it’s gonna be an unbelievable year,” d’Arnaud told MLB.com. “Last year was so exciting and we shocked the world, and I think this year we’re going to do it again. We all believe in that. It’s going to be a helluva year.”

Although he missed significant time due to yet another freak injury, Travis was shined when he was on the field, producing at a .268/.340/.485 clip with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 268 trips to the plate. His .825 OPS, 129 OPS+ and 131 wRC+ clearly gives one pause to consider what kind of gaudy numbers he can produce in 130-135 games this season.

“We know he’s got big-time power and his confidence right now, offensively, is off the charts,” manager Terry Collins told reporters last Fall. “There’s nobody, when he walks up there, that doesn’t think he can hit, and he’s dangerous.”

D’Arnaud is poised for a huge season as he enters his third full year in the majors and the prime years of his career. I truly believe this is the season it all comes together for him. Don’t bet against him.

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Neil Walker Enjoys Batting Fifth In The Lineup http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/neil-walker-enjoys-batting-fifth-in-the-lineup.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/neil-walker-enjoys-batting-fifth-in-the-lineup.html/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 15:13:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205754 neil walker

New Mets second baseman Neil Walker is ready for the challenge of replacing Daniel Murphy this season, he tells Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.

“My style of baseball is kind of similar to Murph’s,’’ Walker said. “I’ve always considered myself as an athlete and a guy who pays attention to the small details. My game is not the prettiest. I consider myself a grinder.’’

Walker, 30, was happy to see Terry Collins pencil him into the number five spot in the order when he gave reporters a preview of his Opening Day lineup last week.

“That’s a place I really enjoy hitting,’’ the switch-hitting Walker said. “I’m a line-drive hitter from both sides of the plate, and I’ve always been the kind of guy who puts the ball in play. With the guys in front of me, there certainly will be the opportunity to drive some runs in here.’’

The Mets and Walker agreed on a one-year contract worth $10.55 million last week to avoid arbitration. He made $8 million with the Pirates last season and was requesting $11.8 million.

While he may not exceed his career high of 23 in home runs, I can certainly see Walker producing at a 125 OPS+ level this season. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him bat .285 with 35 doubles and 18 home runs. And if Collins leaves him in the fifth spot, he could easily drive in 80 or more runs – something he last did in 2011 when he had 83 RBI.

Defensively, he’s unquestionably better than Murphy, posting +1 defensive runs saved the last four seasons compared to -40 for Murph.

By the way, you’ll want to check out Kernan’s full article in which he and Walker look back on his days as a star wide receiver and cornerback in high school. Of particular note was an annual All Star Game of sorts pitting the best high school senior stars of Pennsylvania and Ohio against each other. Walker played one of the two cornerback positions – the other was Darrelle Revis. Check it out here.

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Michael Conforto: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/michael-conforto-you-aint-seen-nothing-yet.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/michael-conforto-you-aint-seen-nothing-yet.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:14:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205731 michael conforto

It’s a shame that left-fielder Michael Conforto won’t count as a rookie this year, because I surmise he would’ve given Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager a real run for his money in the Rookie of the Year ballot. In fact, there are a lot of similarities that follow both Seager and Conforto. Both are right-handed throwers who bat from the left side. Both were taken in the first round of the draft (Seager 2012, Conforto 2014). And both were asked to be a part of their team’s respected playoff runs in 2015. These two highly touted players are going to be the next wave of young stars to hit the majors for seasons to come.

Sticking with Conforto (this is a Mets site after all), his promise was too alluring to pass on in the mid summer months for general manager Sandy Alderson. Playing in both High A and Double A in ’15, Conforto slashed a combined .297/.372/.482, good for an OPS of .854 along with 12 homeruns and 54 RBIs.

We can all recall the disarray the Mets lineup was in heading into the week of the trade deadline, and how the fans wanted something, ANYTHING to be done as long as we could rid the likes of John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell from the lineup.

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So here comes Conforto, one of the crown jewels of the organization, who at the same time the year prior, had just been drafted by the Mets 10th overall and was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones. While he went hitless in his first big league action on July 24th, it was the following day that fans got to witness what the hoopla was all about. The Mets punished the Dodgers 15-2 at home, and saw Conforto go 4-for-4 with four runs scored and also walked in the seventh inning.

Conforto finished the regular season with the line of .270/.335/.506 for an OPS of .841 to go with 9 homeruns and 26 RBI. Conforto contributed a WAR of 2.1 during those 56 games played, which played over a full season might translate to a near 6.0 WAR. Not bad for a 22 year-old rookie. Or put another way, Conforto might have had close to the same WAR over a full season as AL Rookie of the Year winner Carlos Correa. Correa had a 4.1 WAR in 99 games played, which could’ve been in the 6.5 range over 162 games played. Correa also plays a premium position at shortstop, which would make his value somewhat higher due to the demand of the position. That Conforto could be on par with that type of value in leftfield should give Met fans huge Grinch like grins spread wide across their faces.

Conforto was limited to just 14 at-bats against southpaws last season. Mets brass didn’t want to overload the rookie and put him in a position where he might get frustrated due to lack of success. The good news was that while he struggled in Port St. Lucie against lefties, to an OPS of .654, he did pick up the production upon his promotion to Binghamton. There he posted a .904 OPS in 51 at-bats. Yes, a small sample size, but something to build upon and get the much-needed experience.

And now this, when perusing through the projected starting rotations and the opponents the Mets will face in 2016, I came up with a potential of only 26 left-handed starters that he could face. I did not include relievers in this sample, only starting pitchers. Since the Mets face the Nationals 19 times next year, it’s conceivable that he faces their lone lefty Gio Gonzalez more than once, which would push that number up, same goes for the Dodgers who currently feature an almost all lefty rotation sans Kenta Maeda. What’s the point here? The point is, even if we round that 26 number up, and make it 40 times a starting pitcher goes against Conforto, he’s still going to be taking the majority of his at-bats against right-handed pitchers.

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The talk of having to substitute guys for righty-lefty matchups does have merit and is a worthy proponent of the modern game. However, I do expect to see Terry Collins run Conforto out in leftfield for the majority of the time, wanting to see how he reacts against left-handed pitchers. And he’ll still mainly face right-handed pitching, especially when facing the NL East division. The aforementioned Nationals feature just Gonzalez, the Marlins have newly signed Wei-Yin Chen, the Phillies might use Adam Morgan and the Braves might use one of the “Killer Bs” the Yankees once had in Manny Banuelos. The Mets face their division mates 76 times in 2016, so surely Conforto will get to feast on the righty-laden starters.

I expect Conforto to put up respectable numbers against lefties going forward. His swing is so smooth and he keeps his body very quiet at the plate. Conforto made such an impression that color analyst Keith Hernandez quipped as early as Spring Training that he “spied another hitter” in our midst. His lasting impression from spring made many of the Mets brass salivate over the prospects of having him man leftfield for years to come.

Conforto is going to be an integral part of this Mets team going forward. While he’s under team control for many more seasons, it would behoove the Mets to look to signing him to an early contract extension. Look at what Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria and what the Brewers did with Ryan Braun, all signing with their respected teams within the first year of playing in the Majors.

Given time, Conforto should be batting no lower than 5th on this team. He has the ability to drive the ball to all fields, and his hit trajectory suggests he is a line drive hitter, with opposite field power. His OPS with 2 outs and RISP is 1.025. His OPS in a tie game is .949, and within 1 run it’s .880. That’s the type of guy you want up in high leverage situations and runners on base. While the Mets bottom of the order has improved with the additions of Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker, I still prefer having Conforto up with the big boys in the meat of the order. Might even see him move up spots by the middle of the summer.

While it’s fun to project stats and careers for young players, we never can be certain of how it will all pan out. We’ve been fed players with hype in the past (hello Lastings Milledge, Alex Escobar, and Fernando Martinez). But this kid seems a bit different. He played in college ball. He excelled in Double A, which is always considered a good barometer of how well prospects will do. And he’s been in the big spotlight, playing into November for the National League champs. My hopes are extremely high for the young Conforto, and looking forward to ordering my number 30 jersey, and proudly displaying it at Citi Field this coming year.

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Should The Mets Deal Or Keep Alejandro De Aza http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/should-the-mets-deal-or-keep-alejandro-de-aza.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/should-the-mets-deal-or-keep-alejandro-de-aza.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:36:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205703 alejandro de aza 2

At the press conference on Wednesday, re-introducing Yoenis Cespedes to the masses to make his new contract official, the issue of what Alejandro De Aza‘s role will be came up when Sandy Alderson spoke to reporters afterward. Naturally, he’s expected to be on the bench ready, willing, and able to play all three outfield positions. But perhaps, that is jumping the gun a bit:

This really just confirms what every Mets fan thought when De Aza came aboard. De Aza signed with the Mets to share center field duties with Juan Lagares, mostly because Sandy Alderson admittedly didn’t believe they would be able to sign Cespedes. Yet, somehow, Cespedes’ strong desire to remain with the Mets changed everything and the stars aligned for both sides to get a deal done, essentially relegating Lagares and De Aza to 4th and 5th outfielder roles.

Now, we are not privy to what, if any, promises were made to De Aza.  We do know at the time De Aza was signed to his $5.75 million deal, at worst he would serve as the team’s fourth outfielder, but it was far more likely he was going to have a legitimate shot to get the bulk of the at-bats in center field. Now, he’s the team’s fifth outfielder. I’m sure he’s not happy with being pushed down the depth chart without even playing one game, especially when he could’ve signed elsewhere.

Now, De Aza can’t be traded until June 15th unless he consents to a deal, which he very well might. While every player wants to win, every player also wants to play. Right now, De Aza’s at-bats will be few and far between as he’s the left-handed option off the bench, and our corner outfielders both hit left-handed as well. He could be buried on the bench for a while. It’s not exactly an exciting proposition for a 31 year old utility outfielder.

So yes, we understand why De Aza would want to be traded, but why would the Mets want to trade him?  With the Brandon Nimmo injury and the Darrell Ceciliani trade, De Aza is it when it comes to organizational center field depth. Well, there are a few good reasons.

First, De Aza may not be happy on the bench for long stretches, especially after he signed believing that he could be a starter with the Mets. Could that grow into a bigger concern once the season begins? No, I’m not suggesting De Aza is a bad guy. Rather, I’m saying any player not getting sufficient playing time is an issue that could eventually come to a head.

On the plus side Terry Collins has always had a good grasp of running the clubhouse and he handled the Michael Cuddyer situation quite well when the veteran lost his everyday job to Michael Conforto.

Another reason you trade De Aza now is this might be the time when he has the most value. As teams look to fill out their rosters for Spring Training and/or the regular season, De Aza may be a very attractive option. The Mets aren’t likely to get much in return, but whatever they do get is most likely to be better than what they get around the trade deadline.

And who knows, maybe after they deal De Aza, they can fill his roster spot with a right-handed bat who can play the corner outfield and first base – that was the plan before the Mets signed Cespedes. A power bat to spell Granderson or Duda against left-handed pitching.

Whether or not the Mets trade De Aza, we should be able to agree on one thing. De Aza is here because the Mets never expected Cespedes to be here. Now the Mets need to find playing time for FIVE major league caliber outfielders.

This really is a nice problem to have especially when you think back to a few years ago when the Mets general manager famously quipped, “Outfield? What outfield?”  Sometimes, it’s not so bad when a plan doesn’t come together.

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Platooning From A Position of Strength http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/platooning-from-a-position-of-strength.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/platooning-from-a-position-of-strength.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:25:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205648 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.

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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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2015 Mets Contact Rates: A Tale Of Quality vs. Quantity http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205605 lucas duda

It used to be you could tell when a ball was hit hard because it made a loud noise and it moved quickly through the air. Now, according to Baseball Information Solutions, you need an algorithm

“BIS now records certain hard data (duration of hang time and landing location) with the observed hit type — liner, grounder, etc. — and then an algorithm decides if the ball is hard hit.” Neil Weinberg via Hardball Times.  The actual algorithm is proprietary, so we have to take their word for what constitutes “hard contact,” but, generally speaking, the calculation is based on hang time, location, and trajectory.

I see it playing out something like this, David Wright lines out to Dee Gordon and as he’s taking his batting gloves off in the dugout he complains to Kevin Long, “Dagnabbit Mr. Long, I really thought I tattooed that one,” at which point Kevin Long pulls out a handy printout, “Sorry son, the algorithm says it was medium – see, right there.”

The truth is that the almost infinite diversity of statistics is one of the things that makes baseball so fascinating for so many. There was a time when a kid who saw [∂∂pβ(λ)∂∂λ+2(1−γ(λ))] G(2)(p)=0 in his head, when told to put a bunt down the first base line, would have no place on a baseball diamond. Now, the same kid can turn a soft blooper into a screaming liner with the right algorithm.

It’s amazing what data can tell you. For instance, it was recently discovered that guys like Giancarlo Stanton who routinely hit the ball hard, tend to be good hitters. A shocker, I know – there’s even proof in the form of a correlation study between wOBA and exit velocity.

EXIT VELOCITY AND wOBA IN 2015 (1)

It’s not the biggest of correlations, but it’s there.

Ultimately BIS modified their approach with hang time and landing to presumably make it less of an abstraction. Previously hard/soft hit% data involved some guy who would watch the games and decide whether balls were hit hard, medium, or soft … I mean, if he drops a melted cheese Dorito on his vintage Jethro Tull jersey, it can skew the results. So the algorithm is a good thing in spite of my incessant persiflage.

But technology is only good if you can use it, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why StatCast exit velocities have yet to be employed quantifying hard and soft hit%. There are limitations (StatCast has trouble with weak contact) but the potential to disambiguate contact rates at the initial judgment level is tremendous. There is in fact some preliminary data showing that StatCast exit velocity correlates closely with hard% contact, which I’m sure brought a sigh of relief from the guy with the stained Jethro Tull shirt — who may want to keep his job options open nonetheless (I hear UZR is hiring).

Over the past few seasons, indications are that soft and medium contact rates have risen in MLB while hard contact has fallen. Teams have increasingly delved into contact rates in an effort to improve, and for good reason. A top 10 leaderboard for hard% contact features dignitaries such as Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera (by the way Lucas Duda comes in at #11).

murphy wright

The Mets had a 31.5% hard contact rate in 2015, good for best in the game. The Mets are also tied for the fourth lowest hard% contact rate allowed (27.5%). Now there are lots of reasons teams succeed, but you have to think that the ability to make solid contact while preventing the opposition from doing the same gives you quite the advantage.

Sure enough the 2015 Mets made it to the World Series where they faced … the Royals with their 22nd in the league hard% contact rate and their 19th in the league hard% contact allowed … nothing to write Dorothy about. The Royals also had the lowest line drive percentage (19%) in all of baseball, while the Mets were third (22%).

The 2015 Mets hit the ball with authority more than just about anyone, which is very much in line with their selective philosophy – wait for your pitch, square it, clobber it. Yet they were beaten by a team who threw quality contact out the window in favor of plain old ordinary contact. The Royals led the league in contact% with an 81.9% mark.

KC also gave up quite a lot of hard contact (29.3%) but compensated with a top-notch defense. For the Mets, on the other hand, it didn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time or money on defense, given their high-K pitching staff and relatively low hard% contact rate (27.5%). The Mets looked like the better team, yet the Royals, a catch and throw outfit designed to spray the ball around, beat them in 5.

It’s doubtful that Dayton Moore, knowing his Royals were destined to play the Mets in the fall classic, specifically designed a team that would act as their ultimate foil … but it felt that way. The Mets vs. the Royals in the World Series was a tale of quantity trumping quality. In the end, the Royals were able to scrape enough runs together by putting the ball in play, while many a Met line drive ended up in a Royal mitt.

Still, the ability to hit the ball hard has to count for something, and, given the correlations (below) between that skill and other offensive indicators, (not to mention the wOBA / EV chart above), I’d hesitate to scrap the pursuit of quality contact in favor of increasing overall contact.

Correlations:
R2 with ISO: 0.70
R2 with SLG: 0.63
R2 with wRC+: 0.57

(Courtesy of Hardball Times)

From the Mets perspective it’s hard to find fault. Chances are they won’t have to face this same Royals team again in a World Series, and there’s a good chance that if they do, they could just as easily beat them. I’m also not sure there’s an overarching lesson here … for instance, in spite of the fact that the Mets lost to the Royals, I’d take hard contact over more “general” contact, because, again, according to the correlations above, it means you have better hitters. Furthermore, if you’re facing a team that can field, that’s all the more reason to hit the ball hard – anybody can make the routine play.

If there’s a caveat it’s that defense has to be more than an afterthought. The most ambiguous and unwieldy of all the branches of Sabermetrics, defense it turns out was the Mets’ Achilles heel all along. Hard contact will play as will power pitching, but if you are going up against a team who puts the bat to the ball, you’d best be able to field.

The Royals had an insane 59.6 dWAR in 2015, easily tops in the game (26.7 points ahead of the second place team). The Mets? 17th, with a 2.3 dWAR. In 2015, the Royals had 24.4 more defensive wins above replacement than the Mets.

If I’m Sandy Alderson, I am all of a sudden very interested in recalibrating the value of defense in a seven game series and I’m checking to see whether StatCast velocity data comes in a dry aerosol.

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Mets, Familia Reach Agreement, Avoiding Arbitration http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-familia-settle-avoid-arbitration.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-familia-settle-avoid-arbitration.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 00:30:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205679 jeurys familia

The Mets avoided arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia on Wednesday, agreeing upon a one-year, $4.1 million deal, per reports.

Familia, 26, emerged as a star in 2015, taking over the closer’s role and notching 43 saves and a league-high 65 games finished. Familia had an ERA of 1.85 and a WHIP of 1.00, striking out 86 and walking 19 in 78 innings.

He was dominant during the Mets’ run to the World Series, although many criticized his performance in the final series against Kansas City — Familia entered with the Mets ahead in 3 of their 4 losses — despite a 1.80 ERA and a 0.600 WHIP.

Familia is the highest-paid closer ever among pitchers with only one season of closing.

The Mets have avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players.

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Mets To Wear ’86 Uniforms Throughout New Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-to-wear-86-uniforms-throughout-new-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-to-wear-86-uniforms-throughout-new-season.html/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:22:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205670 1986 mets win

In honor of the 30th anniversary of their last World Championship, the Mets will wear their 1986 uniforms multiple times throughout this season, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

The original design of those iconic 1986 uniforms were he brainchild of die-hard Met fan and acclaimed artist Joe Petruccio, who does a brilliant job of documenting each Mets season day by day in his artistic NY Mets Journal.

1986 uniOriginal sketch submitted to Mets by Joe Petruccio

For the full story on how it all came about, I urge you to check out this fantastic interview Joe did for the fine folks at Uni Watch. Here’s a small sampling.

Joe Petruccio: It’s kind of weird. When I was in high school in the 1970s, I loved the Astros’ uniforms, and I basically noticed that all the teams were changing their uniforms except the Mets. So I called the Mets and said, “Who’s in charge of uniforms?” and they said it was this guy named Jim Nagourney. So I would do drawings of new uniform designs and send them to him. I did this for a couple of years.

UW: Did he ever respond?

JP: No. But I kept sending them in anyway, until I went to college. Then, after college, I was working for Della Famina, the ad agency that had the account for lots of Mets advertising. One day I was up at Shea Stadium, and they said, “Why don’t you take a shot at doing a new uniform for us? Nothing too drastic, but see what you can come up with.” So I did a few sketches and brought them back to Shea for them to see, and they bring in this guy to take a look at them — Jim Nagourney.

I knew the Mets were planning on having the team wear these bright and colorful 1986 uniforms for the three-day celebration of that amazing World Series team, but that we’ll be seeing the players wearing them throughout the regular season is beyond awesome. I can’t wait to see Syndergaard or deGrom dealing while wearing those orange and blue racing stripes. This offseason just keeps getting better and better.

Follow Joe Petruccio on Instagram and on Twitter at @RocknRollArtist.

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Mets trade Darrell Ceciliani to Blue Jays http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-trade-darrell-ceciliani-to-blue-jays.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-trade-darrell-ceciliani-to-blue-jays.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 20:03:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205598 darrell Ceciliani

The Mets have traded OF Darrell Ceciliani to the Toronto Blue Jays, the clubs have confirmed.

Ceciliani hit .206 in 68 at-bats last season. He started 13 games in the early part of the season, having a couple nice moments but mostly struggling before being sent back to the minors when the Mets upgraded their offense. He was DFA’d last week to make room for Yoenis Cespedes on the 40-man roster.

The Mets announced that they acquired cash considerations from Toronto, while the Blue Jays announced that they were sending a Player To Be Named Later to New York. (Reports suggest it is indeed cash)

Sandy Alderson did not manage to walk away with the tattered remains of Toronto’s farm system in this deal.

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2015-16-FA-spending-by-team-2-1-16-table1

May I direct your attention to that team all the way at the bottom of the list… Namely the New York Yankees.

As for our Mets, they only managed to finish second with six guaranteed contracts and that placed them at ninth as far as AAV – a far cry form years past and a clear indication – much like the $140 million dollar payroll – that our financial wherewithal has taken a turn for the better.

So who’s crying now….

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Thoughts On Zack Wheeler and His Evolution http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/thoughts-on-zack-wheeler-and-his-evolution.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/thoughts-on-zack-wheeler-and-his-evolution.html/#comments Tue, 02 Feb 2016 17:49:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205565 zack wheeler

In an exclusive interview with rehabbing Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post covered a variety of issues that go beyond the typical reports we’ve been getting on the former top pitching prospect in baseball.

It’s not the usual mundane “Wheeler feels great” blah, blah, blah, push the “publish” button, mission accomplished type articles, we’ve been seeing with agonizing regularity every week since October. We actually have some substance here so pay attention.

For one, Wheeler is reinventing his throwing mechanics. He has altered his arm angle following his March surgery — just like Jacob deGrom did following his Tommy John surgery back in 2010. And according to Kernan, the hope is that it leads to the same kind of success as it did for deGrom. God willing.

The benefits to this are two-fold. One, it results in more downward movement to his pitches, which could lead to an increased groundball rate – always a good thing. But secondly – and primarily – this new delivery will put less stress on his right elbow.

“I want to stay on top of the ball instead of being on the side of it,’’ Wheeler told Kernan as he demonstrated his revamped delivery. “In the past I was just throwing and saying, ‘Here it is.’ My ball moves a lot, and that’s what got me in trouble.’’

This reminds me of something Buffalo Bisons (remember them) manager Wally Backman once told me about Wheeler after working with him for a couple of months.

“This kid is something special. He’s legit. I can see why the front office went after him. He probably can pitch in the majors right now and be better than half of the pitchers up there. He’s just a thrower right now, but watch out when we learns how to pitch. Watch out when that happens.”

Those words always stuck with me and when Wheeler finally made his major league debut over a year later in Atlanta during that Super Tuesday doubleheader against the Braves, I was drooling at how easily he made quick work of them. Wow, we really have something here, I thought with giddiness.

Reading what Wheeler had to say to Kernan, it sounded to me like he is ready to take that next step from thrower to pitcher which has me pretty stoked and excited.

Mind you, it’s not like there was anything wrong with a pitcher who has posted an 18-16 record with a 3.50 ERA and 271 strikeouts in 285 innings before the age of 24 in the major leagues. There are not too many who can boast that.

But imagine Wheeler with a little less walks and a little less line drives – imagine that. Imagine how much more incredible Zack Wheeler could be.

Taking a page out of their Matt Harvey playbook – that’s the playbook all the other 29 MLB teams are now trying to plagiarize – the Mets have slowed Wheeler down and are shooting for a July comeback, which puts him on the same 15-month rehab as TDK.

When that day finally comes, I urge all of you to sit back and enjoy the show.

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Mets 2016 Breakout Prospect: RHP Chris Flexen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-2016-breakout-prospect-rhp-chris-flexen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mets-2016-breakout-prospect-rhp-chris-flexen.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 23:26:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205553 Chris-Flexen

 

Continuing our series of potential breakout prospects is right-handed pitcher Chris Flexen, a projectable righty drafted in 2012, who suffered a delay due to Tommy John Surgery. Our first two candidates in the series were third baseman David Thompson and Jhoan Urena.

Profile:

Chris Flexen was drafted out of Newark Memorial HS in California, during the 14th round. He was awarded an overslot bonus of $374,000. In an early draft report by Baseball America, he was called a “projectable arm” that could reach 93, with much more potential to fill out a skinny frame. BA also said he had the potential for a plus slider.

He, however has had an inconsistent career struggling initially in Kingsport before repeating and excelling. Then in 2014 he struggled with his control and recorded a 4.83 earned run average with 13 starts in Savannah, before undergoing Tommy John Surgery.  He returned on June 24th of this past year and pitched rehabilitation games in Gulf Coast League, and Brooklyn before returning to the Savannah Sand Gnats. In his final six games, he pitched much better, posting a 1.87 ERA, with a 1.9 BB/9, and nearly a strikeout per inning.

Why he may be a candidate:

According to recent scouting reports, Flexen’s fastball velocity has improved to the mid 90’s, and has touched 97. With an improving slider, and changeup he could have a serious arsenal in his future. He is finally healthy, which could lead to a great full season. One caveat is he has only pitched a maximum of 69 innings, so we’ll keep cautious about his future for now. We hope to see a bigger influx of innings as well.

Ted’s Prospect Extras

The Top 5 2012 Draft Picks

  1. Kevin Plawecki (1st Rd Supplemental, 35th overall)
  2. SS Gavin Cecchini (1st Rd, 12th overall)
  3. UT Matt Reynolds (2nd Rd, 71st overall)
  4. RHP Matthew Bowman (13th Rd, 410th overall)
  5. RHP Paul Sewald (10th Rd, 320th overall)

For more minor league coverage check out our partner site MetsMinors.net where we give you some info on the newest Met Raywilly Gomez

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MMO Mailbag: Sorry To Disappoint You http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-mailbag-sorry-to-disappoint-you.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-mailbag-sorry-to-disappoint-you.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 21:50:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205532 Mets Cubs

Morgan writes…

I think you were way to quick to say you were “moving on” from the Mets payroll discussion just based on a one-year deal to Yoenis Cespedes, which quite frankly they were forced to do to prevent rioting at Citi Field if he had signed with the Washington Nationals. For someone I admired for continuously holding the Wilpons’ feet to the fire over the last 6-7 years, I’ve gotta say I was disappointed to see you take such a stance. You should know better than most that you never give the Wilpons a free pass which is essentially what you did. Does okaying a one-year deal for Cespedes and raising payroll to $140 million following a year in which they had a $100 million windfall make the Mets owners any less unethical and dysfunctional than they they were in December when you defined them as such? I think you know the answer to that, Joe.

Joe D. replies…

First of all, I never said I would stop holding the Wilpons’ feet to the fire, and I certainly am not giving them a free pass or even forgiving them for how they’ve run this team after buying out Nelson Doubleday Jr.

You are making far too many assumptions based on my decision to enjoy the season rather than complain about payroll, billboards, protests and boycotts. This was all I wrote:

“I don’t know about you guys, but as for me, I’m going to tone down my rhetoric against the Wilpons moving forward. The truth is that they pledged to spend accordingly once the fans returned to Citi Field and they did exactly that.”

“The Mets are now exactly where I want them to be as an organization and are on the verge of great things, and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on in 2016. It’s time to drop that heavy, burdening sack of bricks and move on. LGM”

Look, I get your anger. I get your disdain for ownership. I get your unwillingness to forgive. I totally respect all that. But as a passionate Met fan and coming off a World Series appearance and an offseason that saw payroll rise over 50 percent – at what point are you going to ease up on the accelerator and enjoy what’s happening with our team?

At what point do you stop focusing on the owners and instead devote your time and energy to what could possibly be a golden era of Mets baseball? These are very exciting times for us.

At least for this one offseason, we spent like a big market team and more importantly we spent wisely. That’s good enough for me. So why not take some solace and encouragement from that? That’s all I’m guilty of… Wanting to watch and experience the 2016 season without any distractions.

After the season, I will reassess and see how things stand. But right now, I’m going to enjoy and relish every moment of the 2016 season – a season that promises to be fun, exciting and memorable. Sorry to disappoint you.

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How Good Is Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/how-good-is-mets-pitching-coach-dan-warthen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/how-good-is-mets-pitching-coach-dan-warthen.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:49:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205405 warthen syndergaard

Back in the 90′s when the Atlanta Braves had a historically dominant rotation that included Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, pitching coach Leo Mazzone was hailed as a genius. When he went to the Baltimore Orioles, not so much.

Rick Peterson was also lauded for his work with an A’s rotation comprised of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. With the Mets, he was a scapegoat. He was fired in June of 2008 and replaced by Dan Warthen who begins his ninth season as pitching coach of the Mets in 2016.

Now that the Mets have Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, Warthen has finally gained some notoriety. We now hear about the “Warthen Slider.”  As is usually the case, when you are blessed with a trio of young ace caliber pitchers, some fame is going to come your way as a pitching coach. They point to certain things you may have said or done, a tweak perhaps, or maybe just some sage advice that helped make some great pitchers great. Warthen, who has survived two GMs and two managers, is no different. But how good is he really? Perhaps this season, we are about to find out.

This past offseason the Mets traded left-hander Jon Niese to the Pirates in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. He was once so highly regarded that the team saw fit to give him a five year contract extension that also included two additional team options. Overall, Niese was somewhat disappointing.  He’s had shoulder problems. He was 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.361 WHIP. I believe it’s fair to say the Mets expected more and didn’t receive it. Now, Niese is a Pittsburgh Pirate where he is now joined with well-regarded pitching coach Ray Searage.

Searage is fast developing a reputation as a pitching guru. Unlike most pitching coaches, it’s not because of who he has, but what he does with what he has. Here’s an example of some of his success stories:

Francisco Liriano

  • 2012 Twins/White Sox 6-12, 5.34 ERA, 1.468 WHIP
  • 2013-2015 Pirates 35-25, 3.26 ERA, 1.241 WHIP

A.J. Burnett

  • 2011 Yankees, 11-11, 5.15 ERA, 1.434 WHIP
  • 2012-2013 Pirates, 26-21, 3.41 ERA, 1.228 WHIP
  • 2014 Phillies, 8-18, 4.59 ERA, 1.409 WHIP
  • 2015 Pirates, 9-7, 3.18 ERA, 1.360 WHIP

J.A. Happ

  • 2015 Mariners, 4-6, 4.64 ERA, 1.408 WHIP
  • 2015 Pirates, 7-2, 1.85 ERA, 1.026 WHIP

As noted above, Searage’s next project is Niese. He’s coming off of what might be perhaps the worst year of his career where he went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.398 WHIP. Searage has his work cut out for him, especially with a head strong pitcher like Niese. For his part, Niese says he is seeing an opportunity for improvement with a superior Pirates defense. Is the Pirates defense Searage’s equivalent to Warthen’s slider?  Who knows?

At the end of the day, it’s a results based business, and Searage has done something with his pitchers to coax better results than they’ve had elsewhere. If that continues, Niese is about to have the best year of what has so far been a very disappointing career. It’ll be another pitcher that Searage has been able to reach that other pitching coaches couldn’t.

If that’s true, it doesn’t make Warthen a bad pitching coach. Rather, it shows that like those who have come before him, sometimes a pitching coach’s perceived skill and reputation is more closely tied to the skills and talent possessed by his pitching staff.

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MMO Fan Shot: The Mets Are Building A Dynasty http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-fan-shot-the-mets-are-building-a-dynasty.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-fan-shot-the-mets-are-building-a-dynasty.html/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:07:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205352 noah-syndergaard-matt-harvey-jacob-degrom-pittsburgh

An MMO Fan Shot by Austin Smith

Obviously, after the Yoenis Cespedes signing, it’s clear the Mets are all in for not only this year, but for years to come. Before Yoenis chose to come back to New York, we were still an above average team led by our Super-Rotation, with some question marks floating in the lineup.

Now, with Cespedes plugged into that number three spot, Terry’s “First Choice Lineup” looks incredibly formidable anyway you slice it. We not only have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, but now it has a legitimate powerhouse lineup to complement it. We haven’t had that since 2006, and our pitching back then wasn’t even near the caliber it is now.

And it doesn’t stop there. We also now have a pretty solid bullpen to protect those late-game leads, something we often struggled with last year as we tried to find an effective bridge to one of the best closers in the game – La Familia. So it’s incredibly difficult not to get excited for a season that manager Terry Collins described as “World Series or Bust”.

Our young starting pitching core is only locked up for another 2-3 years though, at most. So even though we have yet to start the 2016 season, I looked into what we have beyond this 2-3 year window of having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler all pitching in the same rotation, and what we have to look forward to once we move past that.

What I have found is just as exciting a potential roster as we have now. Top prospect after top prospect, and even some very high ceiling prospects that aren’t as highly touted as Steven Matz, Dom Smith, and Amed Rosario, but potentially just as promising.

These lesser known but high-upside prospects will ensure that the Mets will continue to maintain a championship caliber team for years to come. And even though it’s impossible to lock up all five of our young starting pitchers, you have to believe that the Mets will lock up at least 2-3 of them, and it’s not like we don’t still have more pitching on the way in our pipeline.

prospects.jpg

Come, say, 2020, our Opening Day Roster could be just as scary good as it is today. I would expect Harvey to be the one to go, if he isn’t traded first. But deGrom I see as the main piece we’ll look to keep, followed by Syndergaard, and I could even see Matz and Wheeler possibly taking club friendly deals being a hometown kid and a guy that clearly wants to contribute to winning in NY.

2020 Opening Day Roster

1B – Dominic Smith

2B – Dilson Herrera

3B – Wilmer Flores

SS – Amed Rosario

C – Travis d’Arnaud

LF – Michael Conforto

CF – Desmond Lindsay

RF – Wuilmer Becerra

SP – Jacob deGrom

SP – Noah Syndergaard

SP – Zack Wheeler

SP - Steven Matz

SP – Seth Lugo

RP – Jeurys Familia

RP – Erik Goeddel

RP – Hansel Robles

RP – Josh Edgin

RP – Dario Alvarez

RP – Akeel Morris

RP – Marcos Molina

Now obviously, not all of these guys could pan out, nor will it be easy to keep all of them in the organization for the next four years. Things happen that we can’t foresee. But what I really wanted to point out is that we have a great and exciting pipeline of talent that is still on the way.

I’m really looking forward to winning a title or two beginning this season over the next three years. But after that, after Granderson, Cespedes, Wright, etc. move on, we still have a scary good team for the next 10+ years.

As long as we can keep some of our core pitching, this team is setup for longterm success. Assuming ownership continues to reinvest in the team as they have shown this season, this franchise could be on the verge of the dynasty run we’ve always dreamed of.

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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 FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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The Horsemen: Gooden Says Mets Young Starters Are “Crazy Good” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/the-horsemen-gooden-says-mets-young-starters-are-crazy-good.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/the-horsemen-gooden-says-mets-young-starters-are-crazy-good.html/#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 14:27:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205359 horsemen

Here is the latest Mets graphic by MMO reader and graphic designer David Dolinsky who you can follow on Twitter at @david_dolinsky.

This stunning image is entitled “The Horsemen” and features young Mets starters Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.

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You may recall David shared some other great Mets graphics like this one entitled “THOR” last October. You can check out those other spectacular Mets graphics here. I love the way he depicts our young guns who are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.

Incidentally, former Mets starting pitcher Dwight Gooden, couldn’t stop raving about the Amazins’ hard-throwing rotation in an interview with Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.

dwight-gooden

A four-time All Star and the 1985 NL Cy Young, Gooden believes the Mets are on the verge of a dynasty that will be fueled by the team’s young and dominating starting rotation.

“A staff like this comes together once in a generation,” Gooden told The Post. ”These guys are crazy good and no one wants to face them.”

Gooden said he sees a lot of himself in Thor. “I’d say Syndergaard is my favorite. I’m not saying Syndergaard is the best pitcher on that staff, but I like watching him. He has that bulldog mentality… His aggressiveness reminds me of me, although he is more vocal than I was. Throw inside, move the batter’s feet.’’

He offered some sage advice for Mets ownership and GM Sandy Alderson, ”If I were the owner of the Mets, I would try to lock these guys up now,” Gooden said. “Buy out the arbitration years and two or three years of free agency. They are that good.”

They certainly are! I can’t wait for this season to get underway already – this year is going to be epic.

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David Wright Says Mets Are Now A Destination Team For Top Players http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/david-wright-says-mets-are-now-a-destination-team-for-top-players.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/david-wright-says-mets-are-now-a-destination-team-for-top-players.html/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 13:54:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205279 David, Wright

Adam Schein of CBS Sports spoke with Mets third baseman David Wright, who weighed in on the Yoenis Cespedes signing and pointed out that the Mets are now a team that has become attractive to the game’s top players.

“Until this Yoenis signing, we didn’t have that big splash, sexy free agent signing. We made good baseball moves this offseason, I believe. And then you come in at the end and get an impact bat like Cespedes definitely makes our team better going into this year. We are, I feel, a much better team than what we were going into 2015.”

“Obviously you want the good players to come play for you instead of going to your division rival. We’ve proven that players want to come play for us. You have to prove that you can be a winning team, a winning organization, an organization that is willing to be aggressive and pull triggers on trades in the middle of the year, or make those free agent signings. And once you prove that you can stabilize that, and hopefully become a perennial winner, big time impact players want to come play for you. That was the case here.”

The Mets’ captain also talks about Sandy Alderson and his impact on the team, expectations for the 2016 season, and why it’s important for the Mets to be on top of their game now that they’ve become targets.

When David Wright re-signed with the club back in 2012, he took a leap of faith in Sandy Alderson’s plan and now he’s seen the team grow into a very desired destination after years of struggles. The team is on the rise and on the verge of a dynasty-type run thanks to the patience, player development, and stability that Sandy has provided. As long as the team continues to trend upwards, being a destination team should remain the norm.

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Matz, Smith, Rosario Make Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/matz-smith-rosario-make-baseball-prospectus-top-101.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/matz-smith-rosario-make-baseball-prospectus-top-101.html/#comments Thu, 28 Jan 2016 21:26:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205253 matz steven

Baseball Prospectus released their annual list of the Top 101 Prospects in baseball on Thursday. Three Mets made the list, namely LHP Steven Matz (9), 1B Dominic Smith (86), and SS Amed Rosario (96). The list is headlined by Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who had three hits including a double in 16 at bats against the Mets in the 2015 NLDS.

Here’s what BP had to say about Matz, who was the second left-handed pitcher on the list behind Dodgers flame thrower Julio Urias:

It seems odd to call someone who made three playoff starts for the National League pennant winner a prospect, but Prospect List protocol demands it. A torn lat muscle and a stiff back in the second half kept Matz from accruing enough service time to graduate, but he did pitch enough for the Mets to show off three average-or-better major-league offerings, including a plus-plus fastball and plus curve. He also has begun to work on the vaunted “Warthen Slider,” which you may remember from such 70-grade offerings as Matt Harvey’s and Jacob deGrom’s.

They hit the nail on the head in the first sentence. It’s easy to forget that Matz is still a rookie and has only pitched in nine major league games, although three of them were on the biggest of stages in the playoffs. His plus-plus fastball, a mix of a sinker and a two-seam fastball, averaged around 94 miles per hour last year and netted him 18 of his 34 strikeouts in the regular season, via Fangraphs. Matz’ curveball, which he could dial down to 73 miles per hour struck out eleven more batters. A slider would make Matz’ arsenal that much stronger, and would have to put him as one of the most dangerous number four starters in the majors.

Smith Dominic

Dominic Smith was one of two first basemen to make the cut (A.J. Reed, Astros, 55), and BP had this to say about the 20-year-old:

Unix programmers follow a guiding philosophy of DOTADIW (Do One Thing And Do It Well). Meet Smith. Dude can hit. He’s a first-base-only prospect, and he has yet to show much in the way of game power in his first two professional seasons, but he has preternatural bat-to-ball skills and started driving the ball into the left-center gap more in 2015. It’s still a difficult profile, and he has a high-maintenance body even for first base, but when you watch him swing the bat, those thoughts drift further from your mind. Now if only we could get you all using mutt for email.

Smith had his finest season as a pro in 2015, hitting .305/.354/.417 with 33 doubles and 79 runs batted in  with St. Lucie, en route to a Florida State League MVP. It’s really encouraging to see his progress with the bat since coming out of high school, but the power just still hasn’t shown up. Most thought Smith would benefit from leaving Savannah, where he hit one home run in the entire 2014 season, but he still only managed to knock six balls out of the park last year (two more than his career total coming into 2015). Binghamton should help Smith blossom and build on last season, as should recognition in major league spring training.

amed

Finally, Amed Rosario’s report looked like this:

Rosario has turned into a very different type of prospect than the Mets might have figured when they gave the Dominican shortstop $1.7 million in 2012. Scouts thought he might grow into serious game power but out of the position. Rosario hasn’t really put on mass, and hit zero home runs in the Florida State League (where he was the youngest every-day player) last year, but he has made huge strides with his defense. Rosario now looks like he could be an above-average glove, and he does have incredibly quick wrists that should at least give him gap power as he continues to physically mature. He may not be the prospect we expected, but he’s still a good one. If you were just here for the shortstops, you can quit now. No more, promise.

Shortstop is truly one of the deepest positions in Minor League Baseball, as an outstanding 20 players made the top 101. Rosario certainly has the tools to distinguish himself from the pack – a plus glove, and great speed – but he’s really struggled to get on base consistently at any level. The good news is that he’s only 20 so hopefully the Mets stay patient and give him time to develop into a more complete player in Binghamton.

It’s a bit disappointing to see a weak showing by Mets prospects on the list, but there have been a number of graduations. Last year’s BP list featured Noah Syndergaard (9), Matz (33), Brandon Nimmo (69) Rosario (78), Kevin Plawecki (80), and Dilson Herrera (82). Hopefully the number of guys on the fringe, like Gavin Cecchini and Wuilmer Becerra, take the next step this season.

 For more Mets prospect coverage check us out on MMO partner site MetsMinors.net and read our recent interview with new Met Ty Kelly

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