Mets Merized Online » Michael Bourn Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:46:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Braves Looking To Trade Swisher And Bourn Mon, 04 Jan 2016 13:00:43 +0000 michael bourn

With the Atlanta Braves in full rebuilding mode, veteran outfielders Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher are on the trading block. Mark Bowman of reports that they hope to trade one of them prior to the season, and are willing to take on a significant portion of their salaries.

Bowman says that since the Braves are set in center field with Ender Inciarte and Emilio Bonifacio as his backup, it would make more sense to keep Swisher. However, he also notes that there’s serious concerns about Swisher because he underwent two knee surgeries in 2014.

Bourn, 33, batted .238/.310/.282 with a 64 OPS+ and 17 steals in 482 plate appearances during the 2015 season. Meanwhile, Swisher, 35, hit .196/.312/.320 with six home runs and posted a 75 OPS+ in 260 plate appearances.

While both players have severely declined in recent years, I can see someone taking a gamble on them as a bench pieces. They both were solid players in their primes, and may have something still left in the tank.



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Daniel Murphy, Superhero: Chapter 2 – Who’s Crying Now Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:32:40 +0000 Daniel-Murphy-Superhero copy

Daniel Murphy was in the Port St. Lucie locker room. His eyes were closed and he was in a deep meditation, envisioning a perfect swing, perfect contact, and a line drive hit to the opposite field to drive in the game winning run. He was distracted from his meditation by a disturbing sound.

Someone was crying.

Concerned, Daniel got up from his locker and soon discovered where the sound was coming from. A group of players were huddled outside of Terry Collins‘ office. The terrible sound was coming from inside.

“What’s going on?” Daniel asked.

“It’s Terry,” David said.

“I’ve never heard him so upset,” said Ike Davis.

“Esto es terrible!” said Johan Santana.

It indeed was terrible. Daniel knew what he had to do. He raced back to his locker and quickly looked around to make sure no one was looking. He reached inside his gym bag and hidden at the bottom, he pulled out his orange and blue superhero costume.

“My manager needs me,” he said.

In a flash, he was changed, and he sped off in the direction of Terry Collins‘ office, his cape with the large number 28 training behind him.

“It’s him!” said Ruben Tejada when Daniel arrived. “It’s the Superhero again!”

The team all let out a cheer, for they all remembered how the mysterious stranger had previously saved the bubble gum from the minion of the Evil Empire.

“Can you help our manager?” Bobby Parnell asked.

“Stand aside, fastballer,” Daniel said. “Let me handle this.”

And so Daniel did.

He knocked on the door of Terry Collins’ office. “Come in,” Terry said between sniffles.

“It’s you!” Terry said when he saw the masked superhero in the doorway. “Oh, help me, please help me! I don’t know what to do!”

“What seems to be the problem, Mr. Collins?” Daniel asked.

“I’m in the last year of my contract! Michael Bourn signed elsewhere yesterday and today Frank Francisco hurt his elbow! How will I ever win enough games to keep my job?” Terry Collins started sobbing all over again.

“Now, now,” Daniel said. “It will be okay. Just let it all out.”

So Terry did. He sobbed harder than ever before.

“I think you need a hug,” Daniel said. The masked man opened his arms wide and gave Terry Collins the biggest hug in the whole wide world. “Now doesn’t that make you feel better?” Daniel asked.

“Why, yes. Yes it does.” Terry Collins said. “Thank you, Superhero! I don’t know what I would have done without you!”

“No need to thank me,” Daniel Murphy said. “Just glad to be of service.” He reached into his cape. “How about a lollipop?”

Terry Collins gave him a big smile. “Cherry flavored. My favorite. Thank you.”

Daniel gave him a nod and before Terry Collins could get a better look at him, he sped off. The rest of the players started to disperse. As they were leaving, a non-roster invitee said to a passing clubhouse attendant, “We were sure lucky the Superhero was here today.”

“Yes, we were,” the attendant said. “Very lucky indeed.”

Presented By Diehards

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Rival GM Says Mets Are Not Really Sold On Tejada Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:34:55 +0000 drew

1/2/2014 – 1:00 PM

According to what a rival GM told Peter Gammons, while the Mets have claimed disinterest in Stephen Drew, it’s a ploy intended to aid their negotiations with Scott Boras. “They are not sold on Ruben Tejada,” Gammons writes.

Even more interesting that was the rival GM’s comment that the Mets are concerned about developing a very talented group of young players with the inexperience of Tejada, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud up the middle.

No mention of whether this was referring to up the middle defense, their offense, or both.

1/2/2014 – 5:00 AM

“It looks more and more likely that the Red Sox will re-sign Stephen Drew,” writes MLB Trade Rumors.

If that happens, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily trade Will Middlebrooks, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Rather than signing Drew and losing a draft pick, the Mets, Pirates, Twins and Yankees all appear content to go with internal options, leaving the Red Sox as the only team willing to sign the former Red Sox shortstop.

On Tuesday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said they were out and his team would not sign Drew, leaving the Red Sox and Mets as the only teams with any significant interest in him.

Last week, Marc Carig of Newsday wrote that the Mets remained in contact with Scott Boras about Drew, but seem prepared to begin the 2014 season witRuben Tejada as their starter at shortstop.

A source with knowledge of the talks, likened the Mets situation to the Michael Bourn negotiations last offseason, when the Mets temporarily jumped in sensing a lower price, but ultimately lost out to the Cleveland Indians.

I could be wrong, but with the Mets still about $10-12 million dollars below last year’s payroll, a payroll they promised to increase, they are looking at Drew on a one year deal for $8-10 million dollars. And if I’m right, the free agent shortstop would just as soon go back to Boston.

By the way, the Mets are currently at around $82 million in payroll, but even if that number was to rise to $90 million, they would rank in the bottom ten among all major league teams in payroll ranking.

With the Mets so close to their spending threshold, it’s not surprising that we’ve heard general manager Sandy Alderson and special assistant J.P. Ricciardi singing Ruben Tejada’s praises the last two weeks. Before the offseason got underway, Mets brass had very few good things to say about their now likely Opening Day shortstop.

Is it all a ploy to rattle Scott Boras and get him to lower his price on Drew? It’s a possibility, but I’m not so sure that is what’s happening here. What do you guys think?

Drew is certainly an upgrade to Tejada right now, although not by much. At this point, I’d rather save the money and look for a better upgrade via a trade, or even waiting for next season when Matt Harvey comes back and the shortstop market may be a lot better.

Presented By Diehards

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Are The Mets Moving Back Into The Steak Section? Wed, 04 Dec 2013 17:32:09 +0000 alderson sandy wilpon

In the winter of 2011, super-agent Scott Boras stated that the Mets typically shop in the “steak section” however they have been residing in the “fruits and nuts category” as of late.

Finally today we have seen reports of some high-rolling as the team has “intensified discussions” on the idea of splurging on a high-profile free agent in Curtis Granderson.

Does this mean they are they back in the steak section though? Not exactly.

Alderson and company did sit down for steaks with Robinson Cano, however that was more of a meeting to meet with Jay-Z rather than the Yankee second baseman. Their meeting with Granderson however, consisted of a “Q-and-A kind of thing” while the respective parties dined over a few slabs of salmon; a grand bit of symbolism.

The Mets aren’t quite back in the steak section, they probably never will be under the frugal Sandy Alderson. They do however, have money to spend; they aren’t picking through pistachios anymore.

This offseason is significantly different than years prior; we hope that these fishy negotiations with Granderson are an indication of that. We hope that this is more than the pursuance of Jose Reyes, the ‘What Outfield?’ fix of 2012 or the talks with Michael Bourn, for those were not but smoke without a fire.

It remains to be seen if these are some true, bonafide orange-and-blue embers on the Hot Stove fire or not. Either way, it appears the Mets are at least kicking around the thought of reeling in their first big fish under Alderson rather than watching the school go by.

Salmon beats a box of chocolates any day in my book.


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Featured Post: Does A “Mets Way” Exist? Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:03:57 +0000 wright wilpon aldersonWednesday night marked the beginning of the World Series and the two teams which have been praised all postseason long for having outstanding systems and team building began to battle one another for the championship. While the manner in which these League Champs were built is certainly much more complicated than the way the mass media is letting on, here are the basic structures of Boston and St. Louis in a nutshell. Boston added multiple mid-tier yet talented free agents who were “hungry for the challenge of winning” to fill the holes left by last year’s roster purge which also supplements their homegrown and retained talent. St. Louis built their lineup from within supplementing their previous free agent acquisitions with an emphasis on superior player development in their farm system and winning with a young big league roster.

These two teams have been praised by the media as well as many who follow and report on the Mets. And rightly so. Playing in the World Series obviously means whatever you are doing to build a championship caliber team is working very well. Many have even said the Mets need to follow the lead of either or both of these teams and model their off-season plans off of Boston and St. Louis’ 2013 success. I don’t dispute any of that. But don’t the Mets already have a system of their own in place? Under our current front office, isn’t there a “Mets Way?”

Presumably, yes. Fans have been force fed over the last few years that the Mets have a system as well and that in 2014 we would begin to see the fruits of said system’s labor. What are the cornerstones of the Mets Way? Based on what we’ve seen over the last few years I’d say the Mets Way consists of the following:

  1. Stockpile young power pitching prospects
  2. Hold OBP in high esteem and teach pitch recognition and the importance of getting on base throughout your player development system.
  3. In the off season when filling holes, shop for bargain bin players with high upside that can possibly be traded for more farm depth if your season is tanking.
  4. Do not overpay or offer too many contract years for a free agent. (ex. Michael Bourn vs. Marlon Byrd)
  5. Do not give up your 1st round draft pick in order to sign a “Type-A” free agent.

This is all well and good. The basic idea is to build from within with an emphasis on young power pitching. No sane baseball minded person would argue that that is the wrong way to do things under the current CBA. In taking cursory glances at both teams in this World Series, you will see young homegrown pitchers as well as young homegrown bats. These types of players are cheap and under team control for many years. The idea is to surround them (and fill your holes) with talent from outside the organization with the money you are saving by developing guys in your farm. Add a statistical analytic edge which is taught and hammered down across the various levels of your organization and you have the basics of what we are being sold on as The Mets Way.

terry collins sandy aldersonMany doubt that anything of value will be done this off season based on what we have seen the last few years. I don’t blame them. The Wilpons have not exactly opened their wallets to Sandy Alderson since he and his team have been here. Part of the blame also lies with Sandy seemingly being slow to act. He has been notorious for adding the final pieces just as Spring Training is rolling around, sometimes missing out on some potentially good fits. Whether this is a result of broke owners and negotiating his budget or if Sandy truly is too slow to act and too slow to shell out cash, what’s done is done.

But this year is different. In addition to being the year the front office promised would be the year of making a run at it, money seems to not be of a concern to ownership now. How coincidental! Sterling Equities and Mike “Luxury Condo” Bloomberg have even joined forces to approve plans for construction of a shopping mall and luxury apartment complex right next to Citi Field. To really top it all off Bloomberg Inc valued all the Major League Baseball clubs this week and the New York Mets clocked in at $2 billion.

Is this all for real? The Mets are still visibly losing money at the gate every year. Revenue has dipped to horrible levels, SNY viewership has tanked, and their own flagship radio station just kicked them off the air in favor of the Yankees. How can there suddenly be money to spend? The only thing that truly solves the financial issues The Mets have been facing is winning, and there hasn’t been much of that going on at all either. But if the Wilpons are building shopping mall/condo complexes and Mayor Bloomberg’s company is valuing this franchise as high as they are… could the most dire of money concerns truly be in the past? Was the exchange between Fred and Sandy similar to that of Lieutenant Dan and Forrest Gump?

Forrest Gump: So then I got a call from him saying we don’t have to worry about money no more. And I said, “That’s good! One less thing.”

I will believe in The Mets Way when I see it in action this winter and going forward. Put up or shut up. Ownership knows this to be true. Our GM knows this to be true. Because of that self awareness alone, I believe this team will spend money this winter. Not gobs and gobs of cash like those teams in LA or The Bronx, but money will be spent.

If we sit through another winter of nothing much happening and yet another Opening Day roster of AAA and AAAA players is shuffled out for our viewing displeasure, then mark my words there will be a true fan revolt and a baseball apathy unlike any this city has ever seen will fill the New York City air. Yankees fans are already extremely apathetic about their team and they haven’t even grazed the surface of what Mets fans have suffered through since 2009. The Mets have a serious chance to steal the heart and soul of this town again in the coming years.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: Mets fans are among the most passionate in baseball. When this team wins, this city absolutely rocks. If 2014 is another wasted year with no progress, then I’m afraid that passion may finally be extinguished. Here’s hoping I’m right, we are gifted with a real live major league roster, and Sandy finally gives us something to really cheer for.

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MLBTR Posts Their Mets Offseason Outlook Mon, 07 Oct 2013 17:41:35 +0000 As part of their Off-Season Outlook Series, MLB Trade Rumors rolled out their review and outlook for the New York Mets today. Here are some portions of their report

On Payroll & Spending

Sandy AldersonThe Mets opened 2011 with a $142.8MM payroll, only to drop into the low-$90MM level over the last two years. The team has the capacity for a big budget (at least in the long run), particularly now that it can finally pay Santana and Bay the last money owed on their ill-fated deals. And with the fallout from owner Fred Wilpon’s involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal apparently easing — Wilpon said earlier this year that his family’s financial distress was “all in the rearview mirror” — it could be time to rev up the spending. On the other hand, the team’s poor performance of late has driven down revenues, and things could be less rosy than Wilpon has suggested. A recent look by Howard Megdal suggests that the long-promised wallet opening may still be restrained.

All eyes will be on GM Sandy Alderson, who is entering the last year of his contract, to see how aggressively he pursues impact free agents. Alderson has estimated that the club has around $55MM committed next year (including arbitration-eligible and pre-arb players), and says it could add something in the realm of $40MM more, though Megdal has questioned those estimates and the potential impact that much room could have. The Harvey injury — which will have an impact on the team’s shopping list — could either provide reason for a conservative approach or a ready excuse for the same. Either way, Alderson has indicated that the Mets will be even more disinclined to deal from their young pitching and will likely be forced to open the wallet for a free agent starter.

On Starting Pitching

Niese, Gee, and Zack Wheeler are safe bets for the 2014 rotation, but the club’s other options all come with question marks. Internal possibilities range from Jenrry Mejia, who is coming off bone spur surgery, to spot starter Carlos Torres, to minor leaguers Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, and (perhaps less likely) Noah Syndergaard. There is enough youth and uncertainty in that group to make a veteran acquisition a likelihood.

The club could look at another incentive-laden, one-year deal for a veteran hoping to re-establish value, as the club did last time around with Shaun Marcum, and hope for better results. Or the Mets could look for more of a sure thing at a higher cost; for instance, rumor has it that a Bronson Arroyo signing could make sense for both club and player. Of course, even a limited-upside pitcher like Arroyo will command a substantial commitment; Dierkes recently pegged his market value at two years and $24MM. In addition to Arroyo, MLBTR has recently profiled several other starters — Scott Feldman, Scott Kazmir, and Paul Maholm – who could make sense for the Mets.

Acquiring Offense

carlos beltranAny dollars spent on starting pitching will eat into the payroll space that the Mets hoped to utilize on an impact bat. After reportedly trying and failing to land Wil Myers and Justin Upton last year, the club is said to covet Shin-Soo Choo.

Though Alderson managed to cobble together a surprisingly effective outfield unit this year, the club already traded its best performer, Marlon Byrd, who was set to hit the open market at age 36. The fielding exploits of 24-year-old Juan Lagares made the Mets especially happy to have missed on Michael Bourn, suggesting that Lagares a solid bet to man center.

New York seems to like the mid-season pickup of Young, but hopes to use him in a reserve role. They could also move him to second base in the event of a Murphy trade. Duda has had success at times at the plate but is a defensive liability in the outfield. Other options, too, lack appeal: Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit in the minors but not the bigs; Mike Baxter has always been viewed as a reserve; the tumultuous Jordany Valdespin may not even see Spring Training after his PED suspension; and Cesar Puello seemed to be applying his tools in Double-A until he, too, sat out 50 games after the Biogenesis scandal.

A deal for an on-base machine like Choo makes sense, but the Mets don’t wish to exceed four years, which will likely make Choo too pricey. There are other established slugging corner outfielders on the market, of course, including Curtis Granderson and former Met Carlos Beltran. Then, there is the PED-tainted Nelson Cruz, who could be a budget target of multiple teams hunting for pop. But each of these players is 33 or older, has defense or injury concerns, and will benefit to some degree by the market-setting $90MM extension just inked by Hunter Pence. If the Mets do decide to chase after top talent, the team will not have to sacrifice its first-round pick to sign free agents who declined qualifying offers.

Mets Infield

wilmer floresIn the infield, Wright is a certainty at third base. Murphy is likely to man second base again, though the team will reportedly listen to trade offers for him. Despite shaky defense, Murphy doubled his 2012 home run and stolen base output this year. With two years of control remaining, he could be an extension candidate, though his net production has been marginal enough that he probably does not profile as a sure thing beyond 2015. The most interesting potential replacement at the keystone — Wilmer Flores, who only recently turned 22 — may not be suited for the position. And despite mashing in his first go at Triple-A, Flores has struggled mightily in his first taste of big league action.

That leaves shortstop and first base, both of which pose interesting dilemmas. The aforementioned Duda received a late-season chance to stake a claim on first base duties, but early promise gave way to a late-season swoon. If Duda cannot earn a starting gig, his remaining option does leave the team with some space to develop him further before making an all-or-nothing call. Davis’ huge promise faded this year with performance and injury issues. Entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, the 26-year-old isn’t likely to be non-tendered, but he or Duda could be traded this winter.

Josh Satin hit lefties well enough to make him a platoon option for whichever lefty swinger earns the bulk of the playing time at first. It would be somewhat surprising to see the Mets play in the free agent market at first, but the club could always elect to change course if it fell in love with a player like Cuban first bagger Jose Dariel Abreu.

At short, the Mets have two highly questionable in-house options coming off of sub-.600 OPS years. Quintanilla is a non-tender candidate after failing to grasp his chance at a starting role this year. And Tejada will now work back from a broken fibula after an already-poor campaign. Collins says that the job is Tejada’s to lose going into the spring, but Alderson has cast doubt publicly on Tejada’s work ethic, saying that the team “need[s] to see a commitment to improvement.” Turner has provided consistently average offensive production and defensive flexibility at a low cost, but is not an everyday option at short.

This presents a serious void that could be fixed via free agency or trade. Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew are probably the most promising options; of course, the former carries the scarlet letter of Biogenesis while the latter should be in a position to get multiple years after a roughly 3-win season at age 30. Alexei Ramirez is an obvious trade candidate, but his bat is declining at age 32, making the $20.5MM left on his deal look risky. Another possibility, Asdrubal Cabrera, has youth on his side and finished strong in 2013, but he has just one year of team control remaining at $10MM. And though it is popular to speculate on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, there is no indication that either could be had for less than a major haul, and Andrus is guaranteed $15MM annually for the foreseeable future.

Some Final Thoughts

MLBTR points to the bullpen as the one aspect of the team that “seems to have most of its pieces already under contract.” That and third base are the two true areas of least concern.

Second base should be included, but with all the rumors floating around, I can’t guarantee that Murphy will still be here even though he’s the second best legitimate bat the Mets have.

You would think the Mets would be set with d’Arnaud behind the plate, but even Sandy expressed concerns about his toughness and whether he endure the rigors of an entire season. He said getting a top backup catcher for him was a top priority in case he misses any time.

The Mets theoretically have $40 million to spend, but I’m betting they won’t cross the $25 million threshold. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’ll change my mind as the offseason evolves, but for now that’s my gut feeling.


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Mets Will Not Go After Any Free Agent That Costs A First or Second Round Pick Fri, 27 Sep 2013 19:50:48 +0000 alderson wilpon

Validating what I’ve been saying almost all year long, a team insider told Adam Rubin of ESPN that the New York Mets are not expected to vigorously pursue any free agents with draft-pick compensation attached — whether the pick is protected or not.

This nullifies any concern over the protected pick as the Mets will hold a second round pick in the same regard as a first round pick.

This wipes out virtually all of the top names in free agency, which I never believed they would pursue anyway.

The same source told Rubin that the lone exception is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. But the Mets will not give him more than what Michael Bourn got last offseason. The Indians signed Bourn to a four year, $48 million deal.

I think that’s hilarious if they think they have any chance at Choo who will have about 8-10 teams chasing him this Winter assuming he doesn’t re-sign with the Reds.

This is why I kept telling everyone not to buy into the whole “we’re gonna spend this offseason” murmurings from Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons. They never said how much they were gonna spend. They would never admit the $50 million coming of the books would be reinvested in the team. Never.

I’d be shocked if payroll is more than $89 million next season.

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MMO Fan Shot: Did Not Having A Leadoff Man Hurt Mets More Than We Think? Fri, 27 Sep 2013 18:52:30 +0000 collin cowgill

Opening Day Lead-off Man, Collin Cowgill

On September 22, 2013, Rob Rogan of wrote an article titled, The 2013 Mets were worse than you thought.

In his article, he includes the following table to show how the Mets performed by position using fWAR:


From April 20 - May 25, the Mets record was 9-22, a .290 winning percentage.  Horrible.  Their opponents were: Nationals, Dodgers, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, and Braves.  Some very good teams, some not as good, but a .290 winning percentage?

While his evidence tells us that “by position” the Mets should have a record ranking 18th in MLB, I want to make a case for the opposite.  That is, the Mets in fact were better than their final record.  As of this writing, the Mets are 73-85.  Although every team has good streaks and bad streaks, I want to point out a seven week period starting April 20 and ending June 15.

Following the improbable sweep of the Yankees, they went right back to a 3-10 nosedive, a .230 winning percentage.  These opponents featured such powerhouses as: Marlins, Nationals, Marlins, Cardinals, and Cubs.

Excluding this period, the Mets went 60-55, a .522 winning percentage.  Over a 162 game season, that’s 84 wins.  Not playoffs, but, not embarrassing either.

So, what happened from late April until middle of June?  It would be too easy to just say that it took Ike Davis to be sent down on June 10 and then the Cardinals came to town.  But, then the Cubs came after that and yet it took a pinch hit 3-run homerun by Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the ninth inning off Carlos Marmol to avoid being swept.  However, could the difference be the acquisition of Eric Young Jr. on June 18?

The close proximity of these two transactions to the turnaround may be coincidental, or they may not have any difference at all.  However, it should be pointed out that in late August with Davis back, David Wright got hurt, and Marlon Byrd was traded away, the Mets never performed this poorly.

Several factors played a role:

Daniel Murphy was quite cold during that time, dropping his batting average down to .258 on May 12, before rebounding to .304 by month’s end.

  1. Ike Davis…well, you know.
  2. Eric Young came in hitting 15-for-47 (.319) during June, with 8 runs scored, 7 runs batted in, and 3 steals.  Not bad for 11 games’ work.

Can it be said that not having a leadoff hitter hurt the Mets more than we realized?

Michael Bourn hit .333 in an injury shortened April, he hit .288 in May, and .292 in June.  However, .247, .219, and .220 in July, August, and September, respectively screams out “What happened?”

What if the Mets had him on April 1?  What do you think?

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader, TexasGusCC. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 22,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Mets Offseason Options Could Dwindle If Choo, Pence, Tulo and Cargo Stay Put Mon, 23 Sep 2013 15:58:31 +0000 Shin-Soo Choo

It happens every year… You take a pass on going hog-wild in the offseason with the belief that a better crop of stars will be available next offseason. But as is usually the case, the best players end up getting signed to extensions during the season and those that make it to November usually re-sign with their former teams.

Sometimes it’s all a matter of logistics and strategy. For example, let’s take a look at Shin-Soo Choo. The Reds can make him a one-year qualifying offer which would mean losing a draft pick to the signing team. All of a sudden the player becomes less desirable and it drives his price straight down. We saw this play out with Michael Bourn last offseason. He thought he would be endowed with a $75 million dollar deal heading into free agency, but instead had to settle for just 65% of that amount.

With that dynamic in play, it sometimes behooves the marquee player to work out an extension with his team rather than roll the dice in an open market that has few teams willing to part with their first or second round draft picks. Even the big market teams are thinking twice before losing their top picks.

With that in mind, there is already some scurrying about in the pre-dawn weeks leading into a new hot stove season.

troy tulowitzki

It’s been almost a foregone conclusion that the Colorado Rockies may move Carlos Gonzalez and possibly even Troy Tulowitzki this Winter as many reports have suggested. Not so, said a source with direct knowledge of the team’s plans, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. (MLBTR)

“There’s still a very small possibility that one will be dealt to address multiple needs, but there is zero likelihood that both will be moved.” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports confirmed the report adding that that Rockies ownership doesn’t have much interest in moving either player.

Getting back to Shin-Soo Choo, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer says the outfielder loves it in Cincinnati, and his Reds teammates are all lobbying him to re-sign with the team. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he will do everything he can to re-sign Choo and confirmed he has already reached out to agent Scott Boras. They are expected to exchange numbers soon after the season.

hunter pence

Two other players whose names frequently come up as potential Mets targets are outfielder Hunter Pence and righthander Tim Lincecum who are both pending free agents. But according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Giants want to retain both players. He believes that the Giants could offer Pence a four-year, $56 million deal similar to what the Indians gave Nick Swisher last Winter.

Both Pence and Lincecum have expressed a willingness to remain with the Giants, but either way both of them will receive and decline qualifying offers from the Giants as they each seek multi-year deals.

Did somebody mention Carlos Beltran? MLB Trade Rumors featured him in a Face-Off against Nelson Cruz. Over 70% of their readers preferred Beltran to Cruz in a poll question, but they pointed out that due to Beltran’s declining defensive skills, he might be best suited to a switch in leagues where he can DH twice a week. Beltran has always rejected the thought of that, they write, but reality and age might make Beltran reconsider his options.

So as the Mets get set to navigate a fourth consecutive offseason with Sandy Alderson at the helm, it will be interesting to see if the GM can prove me wrong and actually outbid other teams to get the pieces the Mets need to compete in 2014 – the year when everything is supposed to change. I think it’s a daunting task and while the Mets keep insisting they will spend, they always punt when asked how much, and keep ducking questions about how much the Mets payroll budget will be next season.

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Mets Executive Expresses Relief They Didn’t Sign Michael Bourn Thu, 12 Sep 2013 15:32:02 +0000 bourn

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who interviewed Sandy Alderson yesterday, said that the Mets are relieved that the “Protected Pick Controversy” allowed Michael Bourn to sign with the Cleveland Indians after they matched the guaranteed offer they made to the then free agent outfielder.

One top Mets executive recently expressed relief not to have signed Bourn — the Mets, ultimately, sought to wait to see if they could retain their draft choice via grievance before Bourn decided to take the same guaranteed money plus the option with Cleveland – another Mets exec said, “I think it’s a little early to write off Michael Bourn.”

Baseball is funny this way…

Who could have imagined that a desperate last minute gamble on Marlon Byrd as their “Plan B” would have resulted in a career year for Byrd, while Bourn batted .258 with a .311 on-base for Cleveland.

The Mets of course than parlayed Byrd in a deal with John Buck to acquire second base prospect Dilson Herrera and righthanded reliever Vic Black.

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Is Juan Lagares An Everyday Center Fielder? Thu, 22 Aug 2013 02:50:49 +0000 juan lagares


Mets righthander Dillon Gee credits his improved performance to his defense because he doesn’t have to be afraid to pitch to contact, he especially singles out Juan Lagares.

“It gives you confidence to keep attacking because you know you’ve got guys out there that are playing hard and making all the plays for you,” Gee said. ”Juan tracks down everything out there in centerfield. It helps having that. Other than that, I’m throwing the ball probably the best I’ve really ever thrown it.”

Now after pimping Juan Lagares on MMO for the last two years, you didn’t think I’d let yesterday’s incredible defensive performance go unchecked did you? Check out one of his many amazing grabs in yesterday’s win over Minnesota…

I smile whenever I see Lagares make plays like that and it reminds me of when I asked the producers at SNY and their minor league analyst Toby Hyde last March why they spend so much airtime on Brandon Nimmo and yet none on Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero. “Because average Met fans don’t care about Juan Lagares or Rafael Montero… They just want to know about Nimmo, Wheeler and D’Arnaud.”

I bet they’d love to take those words back…

On Monday, Joel Sherman of the NY Post spoke to a baseball official who compared Juan Lagares to Michael Bourn:

Lagares has really impressed me, and our scouts and I think he’s a much better value — and very likely a better player than Bourn for 2013-2016.

He isn’t as polished right now, but he may be the best defensive center fielder in the NL right now with apologies to Andrew McCutchen.

He’s a young, cheap, high-upside piece for the future. I would rather have Lagares through 2016 than Bourn independent of the money because the former has more upside and is younger and will continue to improve.

Actually, that was a quote from me back in April – Nah, just kidding, I only called him the best defensive outfielder in the entire Mets system back then…

I love how some of the fans I follow on Twitter laughed when I said he was better than Matt den Dekker, and now these same people compare him to Andruw Jones, Tommie Agee and Carlos Beltran…. (Note to SNY: It’s Tommie not Tommy)

I’m not the least bit worried about his bat… He’s young and you can see him making adjustments and working things out. After hitting the ground running in the month of June and then slumping, he stepped in closer to the plate and responded with a .353 average in July. He’s now seeing a healthy diet of inside pitches as they try to back him off the plate, and Lagares has slumped badly in August batting .227. But he’s made another adjustment after some time in the cage with Dave Hudgens and is now 4-for-12 in his last three games and also got robbed of a couple of hits in that span.

Also this from ESPN’s Mark Simon:

Juan Lagares had a great game on the defensive side in Target Field with a couple of nifty catches, one of which should be under strong consideration for a No. 1 Web Gem from Baseball Tonight. The Mets entered Monday with the most No. 1 Web Gems of any team with nine.

Lagares, with 20, ranks second among major-league center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved. That measures ability to turn batted balls into outs and the deterrent value of throwing arms. Only former Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez has more (27).

I wrote Mark and added that Gomez had played 400 more innings than Lagares and had over 140 more fielding chances. Lagares could easily be the league leader if Terry Collins has simply stayed out of his way and played him…

At 24 and with nothing but upside ahead of him, Lagares has cemented himself in centerfield and expect Terry Collins to start utilizing some of his great speed at the top of the order before this season ends. As I’ve said before, the Mets have a lot of things they need to fix in the upcoming offseason, but centerfield isn’t one of them.

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The Mets Outfield Is Showing Life Without Being Bourn Sun, 28 Jul 2013 16:38:39 +0000 michael bourn indians

Remember when the Mets were trying to land Michael Bourn during the offseason? Bourn decided to take the money and run to Cleveland instead. So how’s that going for him? Well, his new team is doing well in the American League Central, just three games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers. But they’re not succeeding because of Bourn. In fact, other than a decent batting average (.291), Bourn’s other numbers are far less than what Cleveland bargained for when they signed him.

Earlier this season, Bourn had a short stint on the disabled list, but he has still managed to rack up 306 at-bats. In those at-bats, he’s collected 14 doubles, one triple, four homers and 29 RBI. He’s also scored 43 runs and stolen 13 bases, while striking out 74 times and drawing 20 walks.

Think about this. Bourn was signed for his defensive prowess (he’s won two Gold Gloves) and for his speed. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to expect him to steal many bases, as well as leg out many doubles and triples. Yet Bourn is seventh on his own team in doubles (Asdrubal Cabrera has eight more doubles than Bourn even though Bourn has one more at-bat than Cabrera) and five teammates, including backup catcher Yan Gomes, have more triples than Bourn. Bourn isn’t even leading the team in stolen bases. That honor goes to Jason Kipnis, who has 21 steals in 26 attempts.

And let’s look at those stolen base numbers for Bourn. He has 13 steals in 21 attempts. In 2011, he led the league in times caught stealing with 14. But he also stole a league-leading 61 bases that year, which made it easy to overlook the times he was erased on the bases. Last year, he was once again the caught stealing champion with 13. He was successful on 42 stolen base attempts, a noticeable decline from his 2011 numbers, but still not something to be worried about. This year, Bourn has just 13 thefts, which is a significant dropoff. Despite the drastic decrease in stolen bases, Bourn is still the league leader in caught stealing with eight. Clearly, he is not the player he once was in the stolen base department, as his success rate has been taking a tremendous hit in 2013.

In addition to stealing bases, a leadoff hitter is supposed to get on base and score runs. Although Bourn has never been a threat to lead the league in on-base percentage, he has still managed to maintain an OBP above .340 in each of the last four seasons. This year, despite his .291 batting average, Bourn is only reaching base at a .338 clip, which would be his lowest on-base percentage since 2008. After averaging 61 walks per season since 2009, including a career-high 70 walks last season, Bourn has only seen ball four 20 times this year in 330 plate appearances.

The combination of his poor stolen base success rate and his inability to draw a walk has limited Bourn to only 43 runs scored, which is tied for fifth-most on the Indians. Prior to this year, Bourn had surpassed 90 runs scored in three of his last four seasons. The one year he failed to score 90, he missed the last three weeks of the season due to an oblique injury. He still managed to score 84 runs in 2010 despite missing 21 games.

So that’s what Michael Bourn has done in his first year with the Indians. Now let’s compare his numbers to the ones posted by Mets center fielder Juan Lagares. You might notice some similarities between the two.

  • Bourn: .291/.338/.382, 14 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 43 runs, 13 SB, 74 K, 20 BB, 1.9 WAR
  • Lagares: .263/.294/.398, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 17 runs, 2 SB, 47 K, 7 BB, 1.9 WAR
Juan Lagares looks better in blue and orange than Michael Bourn, don't you think?

Juan Lagares looks better in blue and orange than Michael Bourn, don’t you think?

Now what if I told you that Bourn has almost twice as many plate appearances (330) than Lagares has with the Mets (171)? Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that if Lagares had come to the plate 330 times, his cumulative offensive statistics would be equal to or would surpass many of the numbers posted by Bourn.

There are two things, however, that Bourn has a commanding edge over Lagares. First, he is more than six years older than Lagares. Bourn will turn 31 in December, while Lagares won’t turn 25 until next April. And second, Bourn is in the first year of a four-year, $48 million contract. A vesting option could turn that into a five-year, $60 million deal. Lagares is playing for the major league mininum salary.

The Mets came close to paying Michael Bourn tens of millions of dollars to play center field for the team until his mid-30s. Instead, they just handed over the job to a player in his mid-20s whose numbers are rivaling those being put up by Bourn in Cleveland. The only numbers Lagares is not rivaling Bourn in is age and salary.

When the season began, the Mets were playing musical chairs in the outfield, hoping to find a set of three players that would be around when the music stopped. With nearly two-thirds of the season complete, the Mets have finally found those three players. With Eric Young, Jr. and Marlon Byrd flanking him in left field and right field, respectively, Juan Lagares has taken over as the field general in the outfield. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him, including playing stellar defense. That’s what the Mets were hoping to get from Michael Bourn before the season started. It’s good to know that the outfield has shown signs of life without ever being Bourn.

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2012 Mets Castoffs Have Not Had Much Success In ’13 Thu, 11 Jul 2013 16:48:43 +0000 Scott Hairston

Former-Met Scott Hairston was dealt on Monday to the Washington Nationals after struggling mightily with the Cubs in 2013. While in hot pursuit of free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, Chicago swept Hairston out from under the feet of the Amazin’s front office, forcing Sandy’s “What Outfield?” Mets into the spotlight. Many, myself included, criticized Alderson for allowing the veteran to walk, especially on such an inexpensive deal. However once spring arrived and a new season was underway, it became quite clear that the Hairston that produced 20 home runs for the Mets in 2012 was unable to do the same in Wrigley.

Scott Hairston represents just the tip of the iceberg in a laundry list of now-former Mets who have struggled in their respective new homes after parting ways with New York this past winter. In fact, outside of Jason Bay who has 11 homers with the Mariners, almost every 2012 Met no longer with the team has found themselves in less than desirable spots since their departure from Queens.

r.a. dickey

When R.A. Dickey was traded to the Toronto just before Christmas, he was widely regarded as the final piece that put the new-look Jays over the top as the favorite in the AL East, yet to this point, he has failed to put up numbers even close to his 2012 Cy Young Award winning season. Going 8-9 with a 4.77 ERA, Dickey has become one of the many top-tier acquisitions that has yet to live up to expectations in 2013.

Also coming over in the Blue Jays deal was the catching duo of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. A pair known for a combined sub-par performance in their respective Met careers, leading many to believed they truly belonged in Buffalo rather than Flushing. Ironically, that is exactly where they ended up in 2013, pairing up once again behind the plate, only this time with the now Toronto-affiliated Buffalo Bisons.

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets

Mike Pelfrey‘s roller coaster Met career came to a conclusion this past winter when he was non-tendered rather than going to arbitration. The 2005 first-round pick was signed by the Minnesota Twins to a one-year, $4 million deal; a bargain. Pelfrey, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has since struggled to regain any sort of command, pitching to the tune of a 5.36 ERA over 15 starts.


Angel Pagan was dealt to the San Francisco Giants on the night of December 7th in return for RHP Ramon Ramirez and outfielder Andres Torres. Both were expected to play prominent roles in the 2012 season for the Mets, however as both were unable to rise to the occasion, they were let go by the Amazin’s and promptly re-signed by the club that traded them just one year ago. After posting an ERA north of 11, Ramirez was granted his unconditional release and is currently in the Rays minor league system. Torres, although not exactly swinging the bat well with a .661 OPS, has managed to find himself regular time in San Francisco, starting in place of Pagan, who is out for the year with a hamstring injury.

jon rauch mets

Jon Rauch was one one of the more reliable arms for the Amazin’s out of the ‘pen in 2012, however took his talents to South Beach for the 2013 season. His tenure with the Marlins was not long lived as he was released after posting a 7.56 ERA in just 15 outings.

Starter Chris Young signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, and after going 1-2 with a 7.88 ERA in Triple-A Syracuse, found himself out of a job.

A number of the Mets core performers of 2012 were not renewed for this year, and now at halfway through this season, it appears that Sandy Alderson made the right move in choosing to let them walk. While purging what turned out to be the right players, Alderson has also brought back guys like Jeremy Hefner who have contributed positively to the 2013 squad. Now if only he could get an outfielder…


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Ike Davis Is Determined To Make It Back To The Mets Wed, 12 Jun 2013 06:19:24 +0000 Ike Davis

Poor Ike Davis…  He gets demoted to Triple-A, deservedly so, and leaves for Las Vegas without commenting on his feelings or the matter. The obviously crushed first baseman kept his head down after the game on Sunday as he emptied his locker, packed his bags and headed for the airport.

SNY sent their Baseball Insider Andy Martino to Vegas and asked Davis what was going through his mind after a couple of days to let the reality of the situation sink in.

“It’s not a good feeling. I was a little down, for sure,” he said. “You’re getting fired or demoted. In a normal job, that’s what happens, but you’ve got to brush yourself off and go back to where you should be. You don’t ever want to come back to the minor leagues after playing in the big leagues for three straight years.”

Ike Davis is now where he belongs. I wish they had done this in April when I first pointed out his slump would continue because his swing was out of whack. This wasn’t a problem of not making contact as much as it was a swing that that was in need of an overhaul. Anyway, better late than never…

The good news is that manager Wally Backman is determined to get Davis back on track and the Met first baseman has put his hurt feelings and bruised ego aside and is prepared to let Wally help him. The goal is to bring back the Ike Davis who thrilled fans from 2010 until Ankle-Gate in 2011.

When asked if the Mets gave him any type of timetable for a return, Davis responded:

“I’ve proven that I can get hot in a couple of months and totally turn things around,” Davis said. “Hopefully, if I rake, I’ll be back soon, but they didn’t have a date or anything.”

It’s hard not to like Ike… He’s the ultimate competitor and we all know what a positive presence he was in the clubhouse from day one. He fit right in from the start.

I’m confident that Davis will be back and that Backman will have him performing better than ever. You couldn’t have a better qualified person than Wally to get Davis through this. He’ll keep his new first baseman motivated and focused as he begins the task of getting him to play and enjoy the game the way he used to.

Davis will have plenty of time to make adjustments without having to worry about the boo-birds haunting him if he strikes out. The atmosphere will be relaxed now that he’s away from the pressure cooker at Citi Field. He’s gonna be just fine…

Get back soon, Ike…

Original Post 6/11

Anthony Rieber of Newsday, spoke to Las Vegas manager Wally Backman who has been charged, along with hitting coach George Greer, with fixing Ike Davis beginning today.

“It may be two weeks. It could be a month. I don’t know,” Backman said regarding the length of Davis’ demotion. “He’s coming here for us to fix him, and we’re going try to fix him. I think there’s a lot more mental than there is physical. When I sit him down and talk to him, we’re going to try to attack that. Try to clear his head from everything. He was getting, from what I heard, lots of different people giving him a lot of different information. So basically, mentally, he’s totally messed up.”

Backman said that he’s already “watched hours and hours of tape” on Davis and that his swing now is so completely different from when he first arrived to the big leagues.

“He’s made so many changes. I think personally it’s been too many changes. Try to get him back to what he did to get to the big leagues. We’re going to work with him on a daily basis. It’s going to be one-on-one work with me, him and George. Nobody else is out there. We’re going to let him really try to figure it out.”

Greer, who coached Davis in the minors, told Rieber that they will be going back to square one with the former Mets first baseman.

“We’re just going to go from ground zero. He’ll tell me how he feels, and I’ll tell him what I see, and because we have worked together in the past, we’ll come hopefully to a happy medium where he can start feeling good about himself.”

One thing to consider is that Davis, who is now earning $3.125 million, could become a non-tender candidate for the Mets after this season. Especially if he doesn’t get himself sorted out. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.

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Would Andre Ethier Be A Good Fit For Mets? Thu, 06 Jun 2013 17:33:05 +0000 Andre_EthierIt’s become very apparent that the Mets have made little progress in fixing a glaring need in the outfield that prompted GM Sandy Alderson to famously say, “Outfield? What outfield” last November.

Wile there was a halfhearted attempt made in trading for Justin Upton or signing free agent Michael Bourn, readers here will remember my warnings that neither situation was to be taken very seriously and was simply intended to provide a fan base that is losing interest with some faint hope.

Incidentally, tonight we’ll find out the name of that 11th overall pick that was deemed untouchable during their pursuit of the bonafide leadoff hitter and gold glove center fielder they so desperately needed. While Bourn is batting .301 with a .346 on-base for the Indians this season, while Mets leadoff hitters are batting a combined .219 this season. Leadoff hitter? What leadoff hitter?

Two weeks ago,’s Buster Olney listed the Mets among seven teams that would be a potential suitor for Andre Ethier, if the Dodgers choose to move him this summer.

“If the Dodgers decide to simply bite down and eat a whole bunch of Ethier’s deal,” he writes. “Then the list of potential suitors will grow and the New York Mets should be in the market for major league outfielders.”

Easier said than done. Money isn’t the only thing that has been holding back the Mets, as they’ve yet to show any willingness to use their surplus of your right-handed pitching prospects to shore up a huge organizational need.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, rival executives say the Dodgers will need to absorb at least half of Ethier’s contract, or take back an equally bad contract, if they want to find a trade for their outfielder.

As of today, Ethier is owed about $80 million on the five-year deal he signed less than a year ago — mid-June of last year.

2013: $13.5 million
2014: $15.5 million
2015: $18 million
2016: $18 million
2017: $17.5 million
2018: A $2.5 million buyout on a $17.5 million vesting option.

Ethier sounds enticing, but that’s a boatload of money to commit to a player who’s not exactly having a good season and could be in decline.

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Alderson Says He Could Be Buyer At Trade Deadline, Open To Adding Big League Players Tue, 28 May 2013 13:44:19 +0000 sandy aldersonThe Mets could be buyers at the trade deadline according to what Sandy Alderson told reporters before yesterday’s game against the Yankees.

Alderson would not discuss specific players or scenarios, but confirmed that his team is open to adding big leaguers this time, rather than restocking the farm system.

“We will see how the market develops, but yes,” the GM told the Daily News. “It’s a possibility. It depends on what is available. I have been involved in deals in the past whose first consideration was not the current season but the following season…The possibility of making an acquisition that has implications not just for the second half of this season? Yes.”

I’m not sure I’m buying any of this. It sounds more like a ploy to keep hope on the upswing than any kind of strategy the team has seriously discussed.

Despite glaring needs in the outfield and no help on the way internally, I doubt the front office will pay trade deadline prices to remedy the situation. This is a mindset of needing to feel every addition has to be an obvious bargain or they’d rather pass even if it’s what the team needs to improve. They have no intention of paying market prices and that’s why all of their additions are for players whose demand was zero to none.

I wish it were true and I could tell you that the Mets have their sights set on top outfielders like Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez, but I’ll leave those fairytale scenarios for sites like MetsBlog where everything is bliss.

I’m sure you’ll hear the Mets rumored to be interested in some of the top available players, but that’s where the seriousness ends and the pretense begins. It’s something we’ve seen played out many times in the last three offseasons and deadlines and I expect the future to be no different.

As most of you are aware, the Mets front office is pretty big on sabermetrics and using historical advanced metrics to predict future outcomes. You can use the same exact methodology to predict how the front office will navigate moving forward. They are as consistent as can be when it comes to player valuation.

So if you start hearing big names associated with the Mets in the coming days, just remember how the Justin Upton and Michael Bourn scenarios played out.

If there is another team interested and a bidding war ensues, bank on the same “No Mas” strategy we have already seen employed to great use over the last three seasons. That is the “we’re out” and “no more” strategy for those of you who are behind in Spanish class.

This whole rebuilding the farm dream – built largely on swapping established stars for prospects and not through an ambitious sign and develop strategy – is about to get played out once Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud make their debuts at some point this season. Those two names alone have lifted the Mets temporarily up the Baseball America Organizational Rankings. Once they’re gone from the farm, Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini won’t keep them from slipping back into the twenties.

Or maybe this is not a true rebuild as many of you have thought… Maybe it’s what I’ve said all along and this is just a cover for slashing payroll and continued penny-pinching to keep payroll below $100 million and the Wilpons entrenched? What makes more sense? Are you familiar with the concept behind Occam’s Razor?

occam's razor

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Den Dekker Stands To Gain If Nieuwenhuis Lands On DL Mon, 04 Mar 2013 13:10:08 +0000

Opportunity could be knocking for Matt den Dekker if Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ knee injury turns out to be more serious than just a bruise. We’ll know more on that later today.

The Mets will consider all their options if Nieuwenhuis were to miss any significant time, but one could make a strong argument that den Dekker could have a leg up on his competition because of his stellar defense which can impact a game as much as a solid bat. His glove-work is that good. Here is what I wrote about that this weekend…

Original Post 3/2

If you have been watching the Mets at all this spring, one thing has become evident – Matt den Dekker deserves a shot to be the Opening Day centerfielder.

Throw the offensive stats out the window for just a second and ask yourself who you would want out there chasing down fly balls. After seeing a few highlight reel catches already this spring, it becomes more and more evident who should get the nod.

Now let’s take the spring stats into consideration. Here is a breakdown of how the Mets outfield competition is playing out so far this Spring:

OF STATS(Games played through March 1 – Note: Nieuwenhuis should read six strikeouts.)

The common argument when looking into spring training stats is that they should be taken with a grain of salt. In other words, don’t put too much weight into whether a player gets off to an extremely hot start, or an extremely cold start.

While that argument holds some validity, because spring stats are not factored into any regular season awards and does not factor into the race for the pennant, when you have a situation like the Mets have, where it’s an open audition for an outfield job, spring stats will definitely impact the decision of who is standing in the Mets outfield on opening day.

With that being said, looking at the stats shown above, only a couple of guys have gotten off to hot starts in the outfield–and one of them (Valdespin), has yet to get any reps in the outfield.

Den Dekker’s spring stats are comparable to the other players vying for an outfield job with the exception of Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd. However, defensively, den Dekker sticks out like a sore thumb amongst his colleagues, and I mean that in a good way.

Terry Collins should be looking at ways to strengthen the team’s defense up the middle, and the best way to do that right now is by having den Dekker out there. Having a defensive player like den Dekker in center will make the pitching staff that more effective. Having a gold glove caliber outfielder in center will also take the pressure off the other outfielders, and help cover some of the defensive gaps that may exist when Lucas Duda or Byrd are out there with him.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Den Dekker has made a living making highlight reel catches.

Having solid defense up the middle will also let the pitchers pitch the way they want to pitch. If a pitcher has too little confidence in the defense behind them, they will try to strike every hitter out. This inevitably leads to more walks as they try to nibble corners (unless they are a power pitcher) because they are afraid to let the hitters put the ball in play. So by having a defender of den Dekker’s quality in centerfield, pressure is not only taken off of the other outfielders, but the pitcher as well.

If den Dekker can perform offensively as well as the other outfielders on the roster, then why not just have him join the team right out of spring training? Right now, is there any reason to believe that he can’t perform as well offensively, or maybe even better than the other outfielders on the Mets roster?

I did my weekly MMO Prospect Pulse on Matt den Dekker, and while I noted I wasn’t sure he would ever be a .300 hitter at the major league level, I do think he has the potential to be a 20/20 player; a 20/20 player that can win a gold glove. Maybe we are starting to see why the Mets may have not pulled the trigger on Michael Bourn after all.

The only argument I can see being made about den Dekker being given the keys to the centerfield job with the Mets this year was his performance when promoted to Buffalo last year.

However, as I noted in last week’s feature, it has been a trend across his career thus far to go through an adjustment period when promoted. During that adjustment period, his offensive stats tend to take a dip. However, after the adjustment period, his offensive numbers are at an all-star level. Mix that in with that solid defense, and there is only one man for the job this year in centerfield.

There is no reason to start den Dekker at Las Vegas this year. Throw him in centerfield, bat him in the eight hole of the lineup where he will experience minimal pressure, and let him do his thing. He will figure it out. The best thing for his development would be to let him adjust to the major league pitchers and the major league level while taking advantage of that ridiculous defensive skill set.

The Mets need den Dekker’s glove in centerfield, and when his bat comes around, they will be able to use that too. But the Mets have to stick with him. They can’t send him down to Las Vegas if he starts to go through an adjustment period at the big league level. Let the kid figure it out and entertain us with some jaw dropping catches while he’s in the process.

Enjoy this recent den Dekker highlight-reel catch from last week’s Grapefruit League action!

In case you missed it, check out my exclusive MMO Prospect Pulse on Matt den Dekker.

Follow MMO Minor League Analyst Mitch Petanick on Twitter at @FirstPitchMitch for even more Mets Minor League and prospect coverage.

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Mets Willing To Deal Murphy or Tejada, Plus Montero, Fulmer or Syndergaard For Upton? Mon, 25 Feb 2013 20:22:25 +0000 daniel murphy

While the Mets try to make do with an outfield made up of what would likely be utility outfielders on most other teams, John Harper of the Daily News sheds some new details on the Mets’ failed pursuits of Justin Upton and Michael Bourn.

Regarding Upton, the Mets were hoping he would just fall in their laps for either Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada plus two A-Ball pitching prospects, believing Arizona GM Kevin Towers was desperate for a third baseman or shortstop.

In addition to either Murphy or Tejada, the Mets would have included one or more of lower-level pitching prospects, presumably someone from the likes of Rafael Montero, Luis Mateo, Michael Fulmer, or even recently-acquired Noah Syndergaard.

But while Alderson actually thought he was in the game, a baseball executive from another club who knows Towers well says the D-Backs GM never got close to doing anything with the Mets before finally trading Upton to the Braves.

As for the Bourn situation, for one thing it’s now clear other teams complained about making an exception to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement just to appease the Mets and also let Scott Boras beat the system.

The Mets were going to have to win a grievance to keep the draft pick, and Alderson didn’t want to go through that process before having an agreement because he believed it would give Boras more leverage. It was that fear and tentativeness that blew any chance to sign Bourn, sources told Harper.

“Typical Mets.”

“They can say this happened or that happened but the bottom line is they didn’t act decisively,” one major league executive said. “They should have gotten the draft pick decision settled — it wasn’t going to change Bourn’s market. To let the delay of the draft-pick decision get in the way of a deal was small-time thinking.”

The executive added that while neither Bourn or Upton was going to make the Mets winners in 2013, it now makes building a contender-worthy outfield in 2014 considerably more difficult, and that Alderson will be under the gun to finally deliver a winning season in his fourth and final year of his contract.

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Multiple Mets Playing For A Chance To Be Part Of The Future Tue, 12 Feb 2013 15:00:36 +0000 ike-davisUnlike many teams throughout Major League Baseball which are preparing to open spring training this week, the Mets don’t have many unanswered questions to be worked out in the next six weeks.

The Mets, a team in transition, are just about set from top to bottom, short of a spot on the bench and maybe another spot in the bullpen.  Being set for this season doesn’t necessarily mean set for the future, though. In fact, although this spring won’t, the upcoming season will answer a variety of questions about the path the organization will take next season and beyond.

Will the Mets need to acquire two outfielders or three?  Is the right side of the infield set for years to come?  How about the back end of the rotation?  These are all questions that need to be answered.  As a result, each of these players finds himself on the block this year…

Lucas Duda

A natural first baseman who is blocked at the position by Ike Davis, the Mets still hope to find a position Duda can play efficiently enough to justify keeping his bat in the lineup.  That bat however, also needs to improve this upcoming season if Lucas intends to keep himself in the fold beyond the 2013 season.  2012 saw his power numbers increase, but at the expense of his strikeout count, which averaged one per game.  The hope is that Duda can hit .260+ while realizing his 25-30 home run potential, but if he can’t find that happy medium, his struggles in the outfield will ultimately usher him out of the Mets’ plans.

Daniel Murphy

The twenty-seven year old Murphy has absolutely clawed his way to a starting spot in Queens.  His reward comes in the form of a significant raise he received just two weeks ago and the knowledge he’ll have to continue to claw if he hopes to maintain his spot.  In 2013, the Mets will not only ask Murphy to continue his progression at second base, they’ll ask him to better his power numbers that have only featured six home runs each of the past two years.  A fair request for a career contact hitter with gap power?  Probably not…but to date nothing has come easy for Murphy, so why should things start now?

Ike Davis

I know what your thinking…There is no way the Mets could possibly jettison their twenty-five year old power-hitting first baseman who remains under team control through the 2016 season.  However, allow me to remind you that the only thing that salvaged Davis’ 2012 campaign was his 32  home runs, which partially overshadowed his embarrassing first half which ultimately resulted to only a .227 batting average.  If nothing else, Davis represents a ton of potential.  That’s a commodity which may be valuable to a slue of other teams, should the Mets’ front office decide a trade is in order.  With Lucas Duda and possibly even Reese Havens as other long term options at first, Davis will still need to prove his value moving forward.  While the much more likely scenario sees Davis signed to a long term, team friendly, contract at some point this season, Ike’s future remains far from certain.

Dillon Gee

The 2013 season will bring with it the eventual arrival of Zack Wheeler, who will join the previously established Matt Harvey as the pitching saviors who the Mets’ front office hope can secure the rotation for many years to come.  While they may secure the front end of the rotation, the back end remains left to Dillon Gee, who seeks to return from season ending surgery as the result of a vascular ailment late last year.  Prior to falling victim to a blood clot, Gee’s 6-7 record was a poor representation of his performance which included 8.0 K/9IP and the lowest ERA of his short career.  With a plethora of young pitchers many have described as virtual clones of Dillon at the Triple-A level, Gee will have to stay on his game should he want to maintain his spot on what may be one of the strongest young rotations in baseball in short order.

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Every season has the potential to shed light on the future.  The 2013 season will be no different for the New York Mets.  In a perfect world, each of these guys earn their way onto the 2014 roster, thus allowing Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Mets’ front office to apply their considerable assets elsewhere.  However if they can’t, the Mets may find themselves with more holes than they can possible fill next winter, resulting in an even longer delay in the organization’s revitalization.

Follow me on twitter at @RobPatterson83

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The Bourn Debacle Was Mishandled By All Sides Tue, 12 Feb 2013 14:30:07 +0000 The big Mets news from last night was Michael Bourn, who decided not to sign with the Mets. Instead, Bourn signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Indians with an easily-attainable fifth option year that would bring the total contract to five years and $60 million. Regardless of what you think of Bourn as a player, or how much money he was really worth, this whole situation was mismanaged from the beginning by all parties — including the Mets.

As the offseason winded down, so did the price for Michael Bourn. Bourn and his agent Scott Boras thought they had a chance at cashing in on a big contract, especially after B.J. Upton signed with the Braves for $75 million. However, for a variety of reasons, Bourn’s price dropped to the point where the Mets were now major players.

There was one sticking point for the Mets, however: the compensation pick they would have to give up. I agree with Sandy Alderson and the front office about this, and it was the right move to fight the compensation. Losing the pick would have huge consequences on the rest of the draft, well past the first round. Not only would the Mets lose their first-rounder if they signed Bourn, but they would also lose up to a third of this year’s draft budget. That didn’t make sense, even for a player of Bourn’s caliber.

The negotiations inched along, and rumors kept swirling. Eventually, it became clear that the Mets were the favorites to land the 30 year-old center fielder. It made sense for them as a team, and they were one of only a few clubs willing to come close to Bourn’s asking price. It got to the point where the Mets were in heavy negotiations with Bourn and Boras. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, they even agreed to terms on money and years, and were just down to little details. So what went wrong? The draft pick compensation ruling.

The biggest mistake the Mets made was not appealing earlier. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted after the signing that the Mets were reluctant to appeal the rule in the CBA that forced them to give up their pick until they had first signed Bourn, fearing that once it became public, Bourn would have more leverage and drive the price up. They were right, and the price of Bourn would have increased once it became known that they were appealing. What upsets me most isn’t their strategy once they were in the final stages with Bourn, it’s the lack of preparedness the Mets showed in this situation. Why they didn’t appeal on Day 1 of the offseason is unbelievable.

Even if Alderson had doubts the team would be able to sign a big free agent, he should have made that option available from the beginning. They were too passive in that sense before the rumors with Bourn even began to surface. Why not take care of (or at least fight) that issue before it can become a problem? If they knew that this issue would take a few days (or even a few weeks) to resolve, why wait? (The MLBPA is in the same boat.)

The other side of this is how Major League Baseball handled this. They too, were passive from the beginning, refusing to go to an arbitrator until Bourn agreed to terms with the Mets. They didn’t want to make a ruling on this matter and set an unwanted precedent. I get that. However, the way they milked and manipulated this situation was wrong. They told the Mets to agree with Bourn and then go to an arbitrator. But the longer Bourn was left on the market, the less patient he  would be in waiting for a ruling. All Major League Baseball had to do was wait, and they would not have to get that ruling. And that’s exactly what happened.

It’s disappointing the Mets missed out on Bourn. He was a very talented player and one who could have helped the team greatly over the next few years. His price was a little high, but very fair when you consider some of the other free agent outfielders who signed multi-year contracts this winter.

I have been a fan of Sandy Alderson from early on, and still am. I like the overall direction he is taking the organization and the emphasis on a strong core of cheap, young stars. That’s the way you build championship teams. But he messed up here. He is going to take a lot of heat if he fails to address the outfield. It isn’t completely his fault (Major League Baseball deserves as much blame) but had he been more aggressive in fighting this compensation rule, Michael Bourn might be a New York Met.

While I still support Alderson, his passiveness was too much this time. There is a saying that in order to truly appreciate something, you must concede its faults. For Alderson, passiveness is one of them.

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Where There’s Black Smoke…There’s Nothing Tue, 12 Feb 2013 04:01:41 +0000 It seems like for the past, I dunno, five eon’s, we’ve been discussing whether or not the New York Mets were going to sign free agent outfielder, former Atlanta Brave, Michael Bourn. Some of us thought it was all a ruse to begin with, that the Mets were playing with our fragile hopes and dreams just to keep the team relevant and to keep selling tickets. Some of us thought it would be a great signing considering the outfield was as bleak as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post Governorship acting career. While some of us saw an aging player whose career relied on speed and who struck out more times than your average 15 year old high school nerd.

So of course we find out that Bourn was signed by the Cleveland Indians to a 4 year deal at $48 million with a vesting 5th year if he gets 550 at-bats, totaling the deal to 5 years and $60 million. Somewhere Jason Bay was gritting his teeth and giving himself a self-induced concussion upon hearing the news. I was never on the lets sign Bourn boat to start with and the least of which had to do with losing the draft pick. First off, why sign a player whose game is all about speed, to a long term contract and roll the dice that he stays healthy. No I’m not talking about Jose Reyes because Reyes was and is about 100 times more talented a player than Bourn.

Sure both are leadoff hitters, but Michael Bourn is a leadoff hitter by default – only for his speed. He struck out 155 times last year. Reyes did just about that over a three season span. Both of their on-base-percentages are relatively similar – something that should wake Reyes up I would think, but Reyes is just a better all-around player than Bourn ever has been. So what was so incredibly desirable about Bourn to Mets fans?

Yes, I know we’re probably going to see more faces in the outfield than Lindsay Lohan has DUI’s so a little certainty would be nice but at what risk? Are we ready to bring in yet ANOTHER player closer to the back end of their career to plug a hole only to lament the decision in year 3 when we’re paying a guy 12 million “who tries hard” and that’s about it?

I get it. It would be nice to have a warm body out there with some pedigree that didn’t require a background check with the Department of Homeland Security. Guess what –been there, done that and I’m sick of the Mets being burned in the process. Michael Bourn wasn’t the key player to take us to the next level. He’s just a name and Mets fans need to stop this love affair with names. The “next” star, if that comes from any of the young talent the Mets currently have, will not be a household name or a name the rest of us baseball wonks know of easily. It will be another Edgardo Alfonso. It will be another Todd Hundley. It will be another Jon Niese. It won’t be a Michael Bourn.

Sorry Mets fans…no white smoke this time.


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