Mets Merized Online » Mitch Petanick Mon, 16 Jan 2017 02:08:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Flores to Get a Long Look at 2B, SS, 3B in Spring Training Wed, 05 Feb 2014 17:10:38 +0000 wilmer flores

Terry Collins said he will be taking a long look at Wilmer Flores at second, third and shortstop during spring training, reports Kevin Kernan of the NY Post.

“There’s a lot of potential there and this is the time to see it,’’ Collins said.

On Friday, Anthony DiComo of first reported that Flores could get a look at shortstop. Mets GM Sandy Alderson told DiComo that he remains a possibility despite not playing the position since 2011 at the age of 19.

“I don’t think we’d rule it out,” Alderson said in a telephone interview. “Why should we? I think we have to see how Spring Training plays out for him — is there going to be a spot for him in the lineup? Is there not? Is he going to be a bench player for us? Is he going to go to Las Vegas?”

Flores has been participating in a nutrition and agility winter program in Michigan, and the team is hoping the Venezuela-native will make significant strides in his development.

Ruben Tejada has been widely assumed to be the starting shortstop, however many in and out of the organization do not see him as an attractive option as his commitment and focus came into question over the past year.

Flores told MMO back in September that his primary goal this winter was to improve his speed.

(Updated 2/3) (photo US Presswire)

Presented By Diehards

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Collins: Eric Young Jr Is The Leading Leadoff Candidate Fri, 31 Jan 2014 04:30:08 +0000 eric young jr

Terry Collins believes that Eric Young Jr. is his primary suitor for the leadoff position in the batting order say Adam Rubin of

The question, as Rubin also highlights, is how exactly the Mets will get Young into the lineup. The signings of Curtis Granderson and Chris Young have created a bit of a logjam in the outfield that doesn’t favor EY Jr.

As Alderson told MMO in December, there may be some “variation in the configuration” of the outfield in 2014, likely with Granderson as the only everyday starter.

The Mets may go with the option of having a three-man rotation between Juan Lagares, EY and Young in the centerfield and rightfield positions. This system would allow for each to earn their playing time, similar to how Marlon Byrd became an everyday starter this past season.

Eric Young Jr. played 90 games in the leadoff spot for New York this past season and led the National League with 46 stolen bases between his time for the Mets and Rockies in 2014.

Thoughts from Mitch Petanick

When I was being recruited to play college ball, one of the main questions I would ask was whether I would start right away. The response I often heard was “if you can hit, you will play.” In other words, the best offensive player with get the time—the coaches really never cared who the best defender was. That always resonated with me.

I’m sure the same holds true in the major leagues—the best offensive players will be on the field. The Mets would feel very comfortable with Chris Young in center (he’s no slouch defensively), and Eric Young Jr in left. The bottom line is whoever is performing the best offensively will play.

They may start with a mix of Juan Lagares and the two Youngs early in the season, but the hope is that two out of the three will establish themselves as everyday players—and that determination will be made by looking at offensive production.  

Presented By Diehards

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Mets Bullpen Update: Parnell Will Remain Closer If Healthy Thu, 30 Jan 2014 12:59:57 +0000 uspw_7124018

Despite an active offseason by the Mets, little has been done or discussed regarding the bullpen. Andy Martino of the Daily News provides an update on how the ‘pens of New York are rounding out as Spring Training nears.

Bobby Parnell has been assured by the team that the closer duties remain his, so long as he is healthy, says Martino.Parnell is recovering from a herniated disc, but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

Because of the fact that Parnell will most likely go into the 2014 season as the ninth inning man, Martino doesn’t see much of a fit with Fernando Rodney and Flushing. One N.L. executive told Martino, “Why would Balfour or Rodney go there if they don’t know they’re going to close?”

Also in Martino’s column was an interesting ‘what if?’. If the Mets are in contention come mid-season, top prospects such as Cory Mazzoni, Jacob deGrom, and Rafael Montero could be “temporarily reassigned” to a bullpen role on the major-league level to assist in a potential wild-card run. Noah Syndergaard however, will not be one of those coming out of the ‘pen, and will be kept to a strict innings limit.

I like that the Mets are open to using their prized prospects in such a way. There has been so much invested in their success, it would be nice to see them contribute should a postseason run materialize in 2014.

Thoughts from Mitch Petanick

Using prospects in the bullpen is something I have been arguing for since the Alderson era began. Many teams use this strategy, and I’m happy to see they realize how valuable it is to not only get these guys major league experience, but as a cheap alternative to bullpen pitching that could be more effective due to the fact that major league hitters haven’t seen these guys yet.

Sounds like a win-win situation.

Presented By Diehards


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MMO Mailbag: Should Mets Pursue Aledmys Diaz? Tue, 28 Jan 2014 23:03:40 +0000 images

We’ve received a dozen emails lately asking about Cuban shortstop Aledyms Diaz who will soon be eligible to sign with any MLB team. After falsifying his age, Diaz had been prevented from signing with any team, but his punishment is up Feb. 19.

There has been plenty of interest in him and he’s considered one of the top international players available, especially now with Masahiro Tanaka signed, sealed and delivered.

I’ll leave the rest of this to our MMO Senior Editor and Minor League Analyst, Mitch… Joe D.

(Pretend drum roll)

Thoughts from Mitch Petanick…

There will be no shortage of teams that are interested in Diaz. An offensive-minded shortstop, Diaz’s swing is compact and powerful. He’s well rounded offensively—patient, and hits for average and power. Defensively, he has a tendency to make errors, but has solid range and a cannon of an arm. If he doesn’t clean up the defense he could always survive in an outfield role due to his bat and his strong arm.

I would expect that whatever team signs Diaz could start him in Double-A due to his advanced bat. If the Mets signed him, he could be in a position to help the team as early as this season. A short stint in the minors to acclimate Diaz would be all that is necessary.

When the Athletics signed Yoeonis Cespedes, he was 26 years-old, so the team felt comfortable throwing him into the major-league mix immediately. Diaz is a slightly different case—he’s a little bit younger, and due to the defensive question mark, the team that signs him will probably opt to start him in the minors to give him a little bit of polish before promoting him. Make no bones about it, I think this guy can be a very solid major league ball player and he should definitely be on the Mets’ radar.

Below is a brief but excellent clip of Diaz showing off his arm strength. Notice how he chases the slow roller into the hole to his right, throws off his back foot, and has enough arm strength and accuracy to nail the runner with about three steps to spare. That is a major league play.

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Flashback: Prospect Pulse On Outfielder Juan Lagares Thu, 02 Jan 2014 19:30:55 +0000 juan lagares

I thought it would be cool to look back at one of my very first Prospect Pulse pieces that I did here on MMO from about a year ago. It was on the Mets’ current centerfielder Juan Lagares.

I remember when I first wrote this, I didn’t think Lagares had a shot at getting to the big leagues until 2014 at the earliest. Matt den Dekker seemed to be all the talk headed into spring training for 2013, and I was definitely down with MDD at the time. Juan Lagares surprised many, and has become the perfect example of how you don’t always find guys that contribute to major league ball clubs ranked in the top five or ten prospects in an organization.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Player Name: Juan Lagares
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6’1”  Weight: 175 lb.
Position: Outfield
Age: 23 (turns 24 in March)
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 21
ETA: 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking an in-depth look at the prospects that will be joining the Mets in spring training as members of the 40-man roster. We are starting it off with Juan Lagares.


Lagares is what most would consider an under-the-radar type of prospect. You won’t find him on any top prospect lists, but after a very solid 2011 season, Lagares put himself on the map in the Mets organization. He split time in 2011 between Binghamton and St. Lucie and put up some pretty impressive numbers. In 470 at bats, he compiled a .338 batting average, hit 9 home runs, added 71 RBI, swiped 15 bases and finished with a .383 OBP. Yeah, that will turn some heads. His 2012 season took a bit of a dip, but he still put up some solid numbers.

Most analysts project Lagares as a left fielder, although he could probably play any of the three outfield positions. He has a nice athletic build, but seeing as he is turning 24, he probably won’t fill out much more (current weight is 175 lb.). That will limit his power numbers, but he still probably has the potential to be a 10-15 home run type of guy. Most believe his power numbers will limit him to a fourth outfielder role some day.


I’ve come across some scouting reports on Lagares’ hitting mechanics that have said he is ultra-aggressive at the plate. This is a cause of concern considering he isn’t much of a power guy. Lagares is a guy that has the potential to steal 20-25 bases in a season, so his goal should be to get on base as much as possible and to be ultra-patient at the plate.

After viewing the video on Lagares batting practice session above, a couple of things jumped out at me. Lagares opens his hips up slightly early, which is a tell-tale sign of over-aggressiveness at the plate. When I slowed down the video, it was very evident (not so easy to pick up during live speed). He should work on keeping his hips closed and allow the pitch to get closer to him which will make him a better overall hitter. If I were I pitcher I would pepper him with off-speed stuff on the outside half of the plate because that is probably his “cold zone.” You can actually see on the fourth or fifth pitch in his BP session how off-balance he was on an outside pitch. That is a pitch he should be driving to right-centerfield. By keeping his hips closed longer, it will allow him to drive the outside pitch, instead of taking defensive swings and fighting them off.

It also seemed like the bat head dragged through the zone. Lagares should be throwing his hands through the zone straight to the ball. Imagine a lumberjack chopping at a tree, which we don’t see with Lagares’ swing. This may not necessarily be an issue, and could just be the fact that he was trying to generate more power to put on a little show during batting practice. But his swing didn’t look very crisp in this particular BP session.

SNY took a look at Lagares last September on their Mets Minor League Report. Here is what Lagares’ coaches said about him:

It was nice to hear Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez say that Lagares can go as far as he wants to go. He also added that he believed Lagares was the best defensive centerfielder in the league last season. Lopez also stated that 2011 was a “Cinderella Season” for Lagares, and he had to live up to very lofty expectations in 2012. He may have fallen a tad short of expectation in 2012, but Lagares has a bright future. If he continues to work hard, maybe he can surpass the expectations that he will just be a fourth outfielder someday. Pedro Lopez seems to think he can. Depending on how he performs this spring, expect Lagares to begin 2013 with Triple-A Las Vegas.


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MMO Flashback: Grady Sizemore Is Still Out There – A Risk The Mets Should Take? Thu, 07 Nov 2013 17:58:00 +0000 I wrote a piece last October questioning whether the Mets should take a shot on Grady Sizemore. He should be fully recovered from knee injuries now, and could be signed on a minor league deal.

Why not take a shot?

I’m not talking about making Sizemore the main signing this off-season, I’m talking about taking a shot on a player that could be had relatively cheap, and potentially be this year’s version of Marlon Byrd.

The Mets seem comfortable going with Juan Lagares in center field in 2014, which is good, because the Mets could slot Sizemore in left field, and not put the added strain of playing center on his knees. 

I’m not convinced Eric Young Jr. should be handed the starting left field job and be the leadoff hitter in 2014, so why not bring in Sizemore and have him compete for a corner outfield spot—especially after seeing EYJR’s salary is going to triple this season.

The Mets probably won’t be in a position to bring in two big bats for the outfield, and unless they flip a couple of players to gain a second big bat, Sizemore could be a nice, low-risk, high-reward signing this winter. 

Original Post – 10/16/12

This is not breaking news – the Mets are in need of a lead off hitter and outfielders as we move towards the 2013 season. Some people may be ready to close the door on Grady Sizemore‘s career, but there is still value there. We are still talking about a player that was on his way to super stardom before some injuries side tracked his career.

After missing the entire 2012 season, Sizemore should be fully healed, rested, and ready to finish what he started a few seasons ago. There isn’t a team in a better position to take a risk on Sizemore than the New York Mets.

Many people will scoff at my last statement and argue that the reward isn’t worth the risk in Sizemore’s case. They will argue he’s too injury prone. Seriously…who cares at this point? Beggars can’t be choosers. With the outlook of the Mets outfield in 2013, adding Sizemore would bring Mets fans a glimmer of hope, and add another player with superstar potential to help David Wright out (pending him re-upping with the team).

The bottom line is the Mets are going to have to take some risks if they want to be able to get competitive again, and fast. The Mets are a Moneyball team now, right? Well, if my memory serves me correctly, one of the main story lines in Moneyball was that they went after a player in Scott Hatteberg, who other teams were avoiding due to injury risk, because they saw value there. Even Billy Beane, lord Moneyball himself, understood that there has to be some sort of risk involved if you are ever going to achieve greatness.

Signing Sizemore on the cheap screams Moneyball.

It’s time for the Mets to start taking a some calculated risks. Sizemore may be a risk, but oh the reward the Mets would receive for taking that risk if Sizemore is even 2/3 the player he was in 2008. Cleveland seems ready to finally part ways with Sizemore who is a free-agent this off-season. reported in August that two scouts said that Sizemore is worth signing if there isn’t much guaranteed money at stake. Hopefully one of those scouts was from the New York Mets.

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The Mighty Thor: Armed For The Future! Fri, 01 Nov 2013 19:08:14 +0000 syndergaard

Check out Noah Syndergaard who is featured on the cover of Baseball America this month. Our player analyst Mitch Petanick just shot this over to me to so we could share it with the MMO community…

That is one hot cover!!!

Earlier today, Syndergaard was named the Mets No. 1 Prospect by Matt Eddy of BA. Read more about that here.

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MLB Draft Notes: Why The Mets Passed On Austin Wilson Fri, 07 Jun 2013 20:30:33 +0000 WilsonWhen the 48th pick came up yesterday, many people were clamoring for the Mets to take Austin Wilson. Not many people believed that Wilson, a right-handed hitting outfielder from Stanford would drop to the 48th overall pick in the draft. The Mets instead took Andrew Church, a projectable right-handed pitcher out of Basic High School in Nevada. The Mariners took Wilson with the next pick.

I sorted through tweets and comments, as people were pouring out anger over the Mets inability to draft the player they wanted afterwards, already knowing the answer on why they passed on a player that the fan base thought was so promising.

Wilson was easily one of the toolsiest players in the draft — featuring above-average contact, present strength for plus power, some average running, a plus arm, and above average fielding tool. This was exactly what the Mets needed in a player, yet they didn’t take him. But why?

The reason is the “Stanford Stigma.”

I’ve been preaching this for about a week, saying that scouts do not like Stanford hitters. In my Draft Mailbag last week I explained what was going on with Stanford, saying:

“The college likes to teach a more mechanical swing that is geared towards contact on a flatter plane, rather than the usual hip-rotation uppercut swing that generates power.”

This swing is taught to most players on the team, generating contact over power and scouts hate it. When Wilson was a senior in high school, most scouts felts that he was better off going to college and trying to fix his swing, but they didn’t mean Stanford. His swing wasn’t pretty when he was drafted 3 years ago, so his drafting team let him go and work on it in college. When he went to college, the coaches changed his swing to their approach. This type of swing is oriented to face college competition, but as he moves up, the pros will expose the numerous holes in it.

I asked fellow analyst Mitch Petanick how long it could take to change to a more efficient swing, and he told me, “it could maybe take a few months or maybe never” to effectively change his swing.

Mitch was also able to help provide some in-depth analysis on Wilson’s swing:

Austin Wilson is one of the toolsiest players in the 2013 MLB Draft, but there are questions about his swing and approach at the plate that make many question if he will ever live up to that potential. Austin does not get very good extension with his arms, and for a guy his size, it saps his power. It almost looks like he is trying to inside-out pitches, and it basically turns him into a 6 foot 4 inch slap hitter. It looks really awkward to see a man of his size swinging like that.

In order for Wilson to tap into his enormous potential, he is going to need a lot of work. He’s going to have to change his approach at the plate and rebuild his swing in order to tap into his power.

Based on his potential, he was a top ten pick…but for the reasons listed above, teams passed on Wilson, and he slipped into the second round. Wilson was one of the highest risk/reward players in the 2013 draft.

Summing It Up

While some Stanford players have had success in the past, it was reported that they had refused to conform to the cookie-cutter swing that the coaches had employed onto other players. Most scouts hate this mechanically awkward swing, and don’t believe that it will help hitters to be successful in the minors or majors. Even with Wilson’s tools, (excellent ones) and athleticism, he could be doomed to join the other Stanford players who have failed using this approach.

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Injury Update: Wheeler To Rejoin Las Vegas Rotation Next Wednesday Sat, 18 May 2013 00:35:10 +0000 zack wheeler Michael G. Baron

Photo by Michael G. Baron of SNY.

Updated by Mitch Petanick on May 17, 2013

Adam Rubin has reported that Zack Wheeler is scheduled to start throwing again today, and is back with the team in Las Vegas. He was placed on the seven day DL, retroactive to his last start. He will rejoin the rotation next Wednesday when the team is in Iowa.

Wheeler received a cortisone shot last Wednesday after being diagnosed with inflammation of the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. He is still expected to only miss one start, which would have been on Saturday of this week.

Updated by Joe D. on May 15, 2013

Zack Wheeler has been diagnosed with slight inflammation in the AC joint in his shoulder, and will miss one start, according to Assistant GM John Ricco.

Wheeler received a cortisone shot at the Hospital for Special Surgery in his right shoulder and is flying to rejoin his team at Triple-A Las Vegas.

We spoke to his agent a few minutes ago who said there is no structural damage and that he is in good spirits.

That said, until I see Wheeler back on the mound pitching again, I will remain concerned.

It’s just the Mets fan in me.  :-)

Get back on that mound soon, Zack…

Original Post May 14, 2013

Zack Wheeler has a sore right clavicle, and will fly to New York to be examined by team doctors tomorrow at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

“I think we’re being a little conservative,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters about the Mets top prospect. Wheeler had already met with the team doctor in Las Vegas.

That said, Ricco added that Wheeler will not make his scheduled start on Saturday in Omaha.

Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Wheeler will undergo an MRI exam on his collarbone while in New York.

Terry Collins commented on this and said:

“From what I’ve heard today, it doesn’t sound serious. But any time you miss a start, it’s for the best interest of the player. We’ll wait to hear the doctor’s report and go from there. If it’s only one start, that’s certainly something we can handle easily.”

After a rough start to the season. Wheeler made a mechanical adjustment and has had incredible success over his last three starts for Triple-A Las Vegas and walked only three while posting a 1.35 ERA.

Overall, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA for the season with 18 walks and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched.

While the team calls this precautionary and conservative, any kind of soreness in the surrounding shoulder area should be a cause for some concern.

Thoughts From Mitch Petanick:

I’m hoping for the best here, but preparing for the worst. What I am worried most about is the fact that Zack Wheeler pitches using a delivery called the “Inverted W,” which could put added stress on the anterior labrum ligament in the shoulder — it slowly loosens the ligament and can actually lead to tears. Some pitchers use this delivery and go through their careers injury free, but many of them suffer injuries that require surgery…like John Smoltz and Stephen Strasburg.

Wheeler also recently tweaked his mechanics, which is what his improved control is accredited to, but could that mechanical fix in addition with the Inverted W delivery been enough to cause this shoulder discomfort? I guess we will find out after his MRI, but even precautionary MRIs are a cause for concern.

The Inverted W is like playing with fire…you can get burned.

Thoughts from Matt Musico:

It sounds like sending Wheeler to the Hospital for Special Surgery to get his sore clavicle checked out is precautionary, but that only goes so far for my nerves. I (like everyone else) will be anxiously waiting to find out whether or not this discomfort will be more serious than him missing his scheduled start, which was slated for Saturday in Omaha. I hope this ends up being minor, as Wheeler was just starting to gain steam toward a potential promotion following his last three starts, which included 19 strikeouts against only three walks in 20 innings pitched.

When it comes to top prospects, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and I’m happy that Wheeler didn’t try to ignore this discomfort and pitch through it. However, him calling attention to it makes me think it could possibly be more serious than the organization is letting on, but for now, we wait and see what the immediate future holds for Wheeler.

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Zack Wheeler: The Inverted W, PCL Effect, and Command Issues Sat, 27 Apr 2013 15:54:36 +0000 zack wheeler

Matthew Cerrone of profiled pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in his latest installment of the Mets Minor League Report on Friday. I wanted to address the many problems I found with his analysis and conclusions.

Before I go there, let’s take a quick look at where Zack Wheeler is right now.

Currently, the young right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA and 1.76 WHIP over five starts. He has allowed 15 earned runs on 26 hits and 15 walks while striking out 28 in 23.1 innings pitched.

Readers of MMO know fully well what I’ve been saying about Wheeler from day one. I’ve often raised my concerns and what I try to do is look at all our prospects not as Mets prospects, but just as a prospect.

That’s how we’ve always done things here and we try to be as objective in our analysis as we can, and often bring in the opinions of outside experts, executives and scouts. Oftentimes it means you won’t get that 100% fanboy nonsense, but what you do get is a true picture of whomever we analyze.

Our minor league staff comes packed with experience and includes points of views from those who have gotten a real taste of playing, coaching, instructing, injury experts, and scouting. It took 9 years to build this impressive team we have at MMO.

Now lets go to Matt Cerrone’s analysis…

My first issue with him is this:

“I talked to a talent evaluator who has watched Wheeler this season, and he says he’s pitching well, and his advanced stats prove it, but he’s clearly suffering from the hitter-friendly environment in Las Vegas.”

This talent evaluator of his is completely out of his mind for saying what he did.

He is dead wrong, along with Cerrone’s conclusion, that he’s suffering from the effects of pitching in the PCL.

It is complete nonsense and there’s nothing analytic about any of it. It’s simply an uneducated and unqualified statement to make in light of how he compares with the rest of the league.

The facts are that there is not one advanced metric that proves Wheeler is pitching well. None. Let Cerrone come here and elaborate on these so called great advanced metrics.

What the uninformed folks at SNY are doing is trying to present themselves as prospect analysts when they are clearly not.

If the effects of the PCL are as dramatic as they claim, than why is Wheeler one of only five starting pitchers in the entire league suffering from it?

Currently, among all qualified pitchers with four or more starts in the PCL, Zack Wheeler ranks 48th in ERA and 49th in WHIP. There are about 45 pitchers in the PCL who are out-performing Zack Wheeler including his own teammate Collin McHugh, who ranks sixth in the PCL with a 1.67 ERA.

If you look at the PCL leaders in ERA you will find four other top pitching prospects who along with Wheeler were also among Baseball America’s Top 100. They are all having great seasons with an average ERA of 3.39.

Cerrone mentions solid mechanics which is a phrase that should never be used in the same sentence as Zack Wheeler. NEVER.

You see, Wheeler pitches with what’s called an “Inverted W”. Basically, it’s a flawed delivery that puts an enormous amount of stress on the ulnar collateral ligament. This happens because as he delivers his pitch, the velocity that is built up, and the strain of it all, is not equally distributed between his knee, leg, shoulder and elbow. As Wheeler moves forward, the lower half of his body and his foot is already planted while his arm is still fully extended and behind him thereby putting all of the strain of his ferocious delivery on the the smallest of all the ligaments involved – the UCL. The science backs that up.

There are quite a few pitchers who have pitched with an Inverted W and didn’t end up having Tommy John Surgery, but what makes Wheeler such a high risk is that he is hard thrower with a 99 mph fastball. It’s these hard throwers who are most at risk. Stephen Strasburg was one such hard thrower who blew out his UCL because of the Inverted W in his delivery. And his Inverted W was not even as pronounced as Wheeler’s.

After Zack Wheeler was drafted, the San Francisco Giants moved quickly to alter Wheeler’s delivery to avoid this ticking time bomb. They knew it would ultimately lead to a weakened elbow ligament, loss of command, and a future trip to see Dr. Andrews. However, in the midst of this change in Wheelers delivery, they opted instead to just trade him to the Mets. It was then learned from someone I spoke to last year, that Wheeler resisted the change in his delivery and was only too glad when Mets trainers told him to go back to his regular delivery.

One red flag that you frequently see from a power pitcher with an Inverted W is a gradual loss of command. That is because the UCL is what stabilizes the entire structure of the elbow. The weaker it gets, the more difficult it becomes to command your pitches – especially the fastball.

Cerrone talks about improved command and I have to wonder if he’s been watching Wheeler’s starts at all this season. He’s now sporting the highest walk rate of his professional career and that has nothing at all to do with humidity.

Cerrone asks, “why let him develop bad habits in a ballpark that is not indicative of the rest of reality?”

He then proceeds to answer the question and writes:

“I understand the arbitration and free agent, clock issues, etc., I get it, but I think this kid has to be promoted the minute the team feels it is viable. He’s closing in on 200 upper-level innings. It’s time. Let’s go.”

My God, what is he talking about?

Even Terry Collins on Thursday expressed his concerns saying, “What worries me the most is that he’s not pounding the strike zone. We’ve got to have some strikes out of him because his stuff is going to play.”

Collins is right. Nobody doubts Wheeler has three to four plus pitches. His stuff is extraordinary. But you have to have command of those pitches – you have to throw strikes. You can’t have a 100 pitch count every time out by the sixth inning or even the fifth because of all the pitches out of the zone. Too many deep counts, too many hitter’s counts, and none of it has anything to do with park effects. This is all on him.

Promoting Wheeler to the major leagues now is an awful idea. It’s a terrible idea. Wheeler needs to execute and exhibit better command. This notion that a MLB callup will remedy that is both preposterous and irrational.

So my issues with all of Cerrone’s analysis are this:

1. It’s The Humidity. WRONG

2. Sound Mechanics. WRONG

3. Improved Command. WRONG

4. Bring Him Up Anyway. WRONG.

I did leave Matt a comment on his post yesterday, and had hoped he would reply. he didn’t so I took to writing my rebuttal here. This is what I initially left him:

The Giants were actually trying to alter Wheeler’s mechanics for fear of the inverted W leading to TJS. It was during this transition that he was traded and the Mets opted to let him resume pitching with the inverted W.

As you know it puts more stress on the elbow and shoulder because his lower body and plant foot are way ahead of his arm and release.

It’s even more dangerous for hard throwers as pointed out with Strasburg.

I thought it was curious that the Mets decided to let him proceed along this path and questioned the wisdom of it at the time. It’s a ticking time bomb.

Sound mechanics and Zack Wheeler should never be in the same sentence. The fact that his release is so late is also why he has no idea where the ball will end up and part of his command issues. It’s a scientific fact based on all the momentum and velocity that is built up not being evenly distributed as it should be.

We have a great prospect with 3 and maybe 4 plus pitches, but right now he’s a thrower and not a pitcher.

Finally, the thin air is a terrible excuse and even more so when that’s your basis for a promotion to the majors.

That is faulty logic and irrational thinking, Wheeler is obviously far from ready and it has nothing to do with humidity as this report points out.

Among all starters with four or more starts in the PCL, Wheeler ranks 48th in ERA and 47th in WHIP.

Wheeler is not ready, and I think what we see here is the fan in Cerrone speaking and not anything resembling true player analysis.

I think it’s time for the Mets to fix Wheeler’s command issues and move forward with the plan the Giants initially had in place, and that the Nationals put in place when Strasburg came back from Tommy John Surgery. I think the Giants know what they’re doing when it comes to developing pitchers. Wheeler hasn’t developed and he is regressing, and that’s a fact I know most of you will choose to ignore because nobody wants to hear that about any Met prospect. So if you want fairy tales stick with Mets Blog, but if you opt for real minor league analysis, you’re at the right place.

This talk of bringing him up and the incessant over-coverage of Wheeler on SNY broadcasts, features, videos, and minor league reports, all calling for his promotion has really got to stop.

I want to leave on one bright note and that is that in Zack Wheeler we have the potential for a truly great pitcher that could be just as good as Matt Harvey is now. Zack Wheeler has the arsenal to become an ace one day, but only if the Mets do this right.

I think the inverted W is a huge concern, but not one that can’t be remedied with a slight mechanical fix. All we can do as fans is hope for the best, but please don’t buy into this amateurish SNY message that Wheeler is ready for a promotion. He’s not. No pitcher with numbers like that should ever be promoted no matter what league he’s pitching in.

Thoughts from Mitch Petanick

Everyone loves Zack Wheeler’s stuff. If it were based on his stuff alone, he would be in the top 10 percent of pitchers in the big leagues today. His stuff is that good. But there is more to pitching than having good stuff. Joe brings up very valid points regarding Wheeler.

With regards to his mechanics, the inverted W raises concern. The inverted W generally causes additional strain on the arm, because the pitcher’s lead foot will land early, causing the pitcher to have to speed up his arm to catch up to his lower body.

The Mets have said that even though he uses the inverted W, Wheeler doesn’t have the issue of his foot landing early. This may be the case right now, but all it takes is one pitch where his foot lands too early to cause potential damage. I think this is a bigger issue than most are leading it on to be, especially with your top pitching prospect.

The issue I have with Wheeler’s command is hitting batters, although through five games it hasn’t been a big concern this season. We know that Wheeler likes pitching inside to right-handed hitters and his two seam fastball has ridiculous inward movement to right-handed hitters. He still hasn’t learned to use this pitch effectively, because if he did, he wouldn’t have so many hit batters. Wheeler should start that two-seamer on the middle of the plate, and have it move in on the hands, either jamming hitters or breaking bats. Wheeler starts that pitch too far inside, which leads to hitting batters.

He’s not bored, and what happened with Matt Harvey last year was an exception to the rule. It’s not the air in Las Vegas either, other pitchers seem to be having success. This is all on Wheeler. Time to stop making excuses. The kid has dynamite stuff, but hasn’t mastered the art of pitching. Once he does, the Mets will have something special.

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Prospect Pulse: Righthander Tyler Pill Is Seeing His Stock Rising Fast Fri, 29 Mar 2013 12:30:37 +0000 Tyler Pill


Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185 lb.
Position: RHP
Age: 22
ETA: 2014
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #28


Here is a brief profile on Tyler Pill from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

Pill’s fastball basically sits in the high-80s. Pill also tosses a curveball out there, which I feel is pretty underrated, and a slider and change-up. The slider is extremely inconsistent and hittable, but could potentially be worked on. Logically, it would seem more useful for a guy like Pill to keep a fourth pitch, but it does more harm than good at times. The change-up is a good pitch, and I like the movement on it.

Pill’s success as a pitcher is directly related to how good he can control his pitches, because he just does not profile as a power or dominating pitcher. The issue built in here is that his stuff does not exactly look like a prime fit for the bullpen either, so its going to be a long road for Tyler Pill. A 2.30 ERA in 113 innings is a start, and the numbers that are more important are the 22 BB/105 Ks. Tyler Pill is trying and I am rooting for him. We have seen stranger things.


Everyone is boasting about all the right-handed power arms in the Mets system right now, and Pill is often not mentioned because he is not what you would consider a power pitcher. As stated earlier, his fastball sits in the high-80s and touches the low-90s. However, the impressive thing about Pill was that even though he does not have overpowering stuff, he is practically striking out one batter per inning. His career strikeout rate is 8.5 per nine innings, which is a solid ratio. His career 2.34 ERA is also very promising. The key for Pill’s success will be keeping guys off balance and keeping them off the basepaths, which he has done a good job of doing thus far in his career. He will throw strikes, and as long as he continues to do so, will have a chance to continue progressing through the system.

Best case scenario is that Pill is a back-end of the rotation starter at the big league level in a couple of years. Worst case scenario is that he is a Triple-A pitcher that will be called up now and then for spot duty. We have yet to see him pitch against advanced hitters, so the big test will be in 2013, where he is projected to make that jump to Double-A Binghamton. If he continues to dominate hitters by keeping them off-balance and throwing strikes, then he could be pushing for a call-up sometime in 2014.

Pill tends to get lost in the shuffle when discussing right-handed pitchers in the Mets organization because everyone is drooling over the power arms in the system right now. However, guys with power arms have a tendency to suffer arm injuries (not wishing for it, just stating a fact). A guy like Pill will continue to fly under the radar, but out of all those promising right-handed pitchers in the Mets organization, Pill may be the first one to crack the Mets starting rotation in the next couple of years due to his consistency and ability to throw strikes. Pill is definitely a pitcher that fans will want to monitor over the course of this summer, as he often gets overshadowed by other pitchers in the system.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

To read previous editions of this feature, go to our MMO Prospect Pulse Archives.

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

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Domingo Tapia and Jacob deGrom Shine In Minor League Tune-Up Thu, 21 Mar 2013 22:07:10 +0000 Domingo Tapia

The Binghamton Mets and Springfield Cardinals played to a scoreless tie today in minor league action. While there may not have been much offense in the game, the pitching was very impressive, as Domingo Tapia and Jacob deGrom combined efforts in the shutout.

Tapia got the start, going four innings and allowed just one hit. MMO had both Tapia and deGrom pegged to start the season at High-A ball with the St. Lucie Mets. However, they were both named to the “Group 2″ starters, who traditionally start the season with the Binghamton Mets (AA).

DeGrom (17) and Tapia (8) were both listed in the most recent top 25 prospect list by MMO, and are two reasons why the Mets are boasting that they have the one of the strongest crop of young right-handed pitchers in baseball. Neither Tapia nor deGrom were listed on the recent list of top right-handed pitching prospects by Baseball America, but if they keep pitching the way they did today, it won’t be long before the men or women that make these lists start taking notice.

With names like Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero and Michael Fulmer already giving the Mets a reason to be excited about some young and promising right-handed pitchers, deGrom and Tapia are just two more reasons why the Mets are smiling. You will never hear anyone complain about having too much pitching, and the Mets are definitely stocked in that category right now. The biggest problem will be trying to figure out what to do with all these great arms if they all pan out.

The Binghamton Mets have six more games scheduled in spring training before they kick off their regular season action on April 4th, against the Akron Aeros.

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Duda’s Bat Is Showing Signs Of Life Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:00:25 +0000 Atlanta Braves v New York Mets

Lucas Duda got off to one of the more forgettable starts that a player can have when spring training opened up back in February. In fact, for the month of February, he was 1/10 at the plate with seven strikeouts. With numbers like those, fans began to question whether Duda would ever be able to put it together at the big league level.

Duda was given a few days off after his slow start, and the fact that he was recovering from a fractured wrist and that he changed his stance started to become the excuses for his slow start. Mets fans were skeptical, but the month of March is proving to be much better for the left-handed slugger.

Through the 18th, Duda is hitting .286 with three home runs—not too shabby.

Hitting is funny like that. You can go weeks without hitting water if you were to jump off a bridge, then all of a sudden be on complete fire again. One of the smartest decisions I have ever seen Terry Collins make was to rest Duda for those few games after his slow start. A decision like that could have potentially saved Duda’s season. Sure, Collins could have let Duda keep going out there and try to swing his way out of his slump, but what would have happened had it not worked? A young player like Duda could have been mired in that slump for weeks, and maybe get to the point where he’s trying to figure it out down in Triple-A again. Another demotion could have been detrimental to Duda.

Instead, Collins made the right decision in giving Duda a few days off, and Duda has responded in March with very formidable numbers thus far.

It wasn’t until the opposite field homerun that Duda hit on Monday (3/18) that I started to really get the sense that he is finally coming around. As a hitter, you know you are locked in when you are taking the ball to the opposite field gap. For Duda, the left-centerfield homerun shows that his bat had officially awoken from its February slumber.

In a quote from the New York Post, Collins stated “That’s one of the biggest things of spring training that we’ve been trying to get from him, and before that. To get him to understand the great power he’s got to center field and to left-center field, and certainly it’s good to see it.”

I always remember growing up as a ball player and having it drilled into my brain to work on hitting the ball to right-center (for a right-handed hitter, opposite for left-handed). It helps to keep the hitter inside the baseball, thus becoming a more complete hitter using all fields. This is a difficult philosophy to teach to younger hitters, especially power hitters who have the urge to pull everything. The key is to get them to trust their hands, and that not everything has to be pulled. The homeruns will come; they just have to trust their hands.

It’s good to see Duda taking the ball the other way with power. It looks like Duda is trusting his hands again, which is a great sign. It’s easy for hitters to try and break out of their slump by falling back into their comfort zone, which is pulling the ball. However, that just tends to dig the hitter into a deeper slump, and it isn’t until they trust their hands that the hits start coming again. It’s like the guy who just had his heart broken by his girlfriend in college, and now doesn’t want to leave his dorm room because it’s his comfort zone. It may be awhile before he trusts the opposite sex and gets that confidence back that he had before. But once he leaves that comfort zone, and starts to trust again, he starts getting the digits.

There is still a week and a half until opening day, but the Mets, and the fans alike, should be pleased to see what Duda has been doing with the bat so far in the month of March. If he continues to build on the success he has had in March, and focus on taking the ball to the left-centerfield gap, the Mets will have a very dangerous hitter on their hands in 2013.

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Who is Greg Burke? Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:33:30 +0000 greg burke

Back in November, the Mets announced they had signed a right-handed relief pitcher named Greg Burke to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. When I heard of the signing, it reminded me of the scene at the beginning of the movie Major League where the Cleveland fans are all giving their take on roster moves the team made, and the guy in the diner asks “Mitchell Freidman?” In similar fashion, after the signing was announced, Mets fans asked “Greg Burke?”

Who's Greg  Burke???

Who’s Greg Burke???

Burke is an easy guy to point out on the field because he has a very distinct motion. You see, Burke is a side-winder. Side-arm pitching is somewhat of a lost art, similar to the knuckle ball. When you find a guy who is effective, he can wreak havoc on a lineup. The problem with side-winders is, and the reason why most pitchers avoid style of delivery, because you immediately turn yourself into a righty/lefty specialist. A right-handed side-winder, as Burke is, would be incredibly difficult for a right-handed batter to face.

The motion looks weird, the ball comes from a completely different angle, and it just makes the hitter feel very uncomfortable in the batter’s box. However, for a left-handed hitter, it would almost work to their advantage to face a righty side-winder. They would have more time to see the pitch coming across and out of the side-winders hand. A left-handed hitter would feel much more comfortable batting against a right-handed side-winder than a right-handed hitter would. So Burke, like many pitchers trying to stay in the show, have mastered a lost art. He is out of options, and hopefully becoming a side-winding righty specialist will keep him in the show for one more year.

Another movie I am immediately reminded of when seeing Burke, is Moneyball. In Moneyball, an overweight Jonas Hill who we are supposed to believe is representing Paul DePodesta, is virtually obsessed with Chad Bradford, a sidewinding pitcher that Hill’s character believes can be the most effective reliever in their pen.

I’m not so sure DePodesta thinks Burke will be the most effective reliever in the bullpen for the Mets, that is if he makes the team out of camp, but he definitely has the ability to get right-handed hitters out. While I’m not a big believer in bullpen specialists, I think that Burke could provide some decent value with his deceptive pitching style. For at least one go around, the hitters will be very confused when they face Burke, and as long as you get him out of the game before the hitters can adjust, he can be effective.

In 2012, Burke was with the Baltimore Orioles, and split time between AA and AAA. He pitched a total of 64 innings and had a miniscule 1.53 ERA. That is promising. He was named an organizational All-Star by in 2012.

It’s yet to be seen if Burke sticks with the big league club after camp breaks, but he definitely has something the Mets are in need of—the ability to get guys out. Burke is a true underdog, having a brief stint with the Padres back in 2009, but spending most of his career riding buses and staying in motels playing the minor leagues. Everyone loves an underdog story. He has shown the ability to get right-handed hitters out, and hopefully he does enough to earn a spot on the 2013 Mets. Everyone here at MMO will be rooting for him.

addicted to mets button

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Mets Catching Prospect Kevin Plawecki Mon, 11 Mar 2013 15:48:51 +0000 kevin_plawecki

Kevin Plawecki, C

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205 lb.
Position: Catcher
Age: 22
ETA: 2015
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #19


Here is a brief player profile from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

The 35th pick in the 2012 draft, Kevin Plawecki, was selected with one of the comp picks we received for losing Jose Reyes. The main criticism about the pick was not so much a knock on Plawecki, but rather that the Mets made a big reach taking him with the 35th pick when he could have been around in the third. One of the things that scouts keyed in on was that he had a long swing and it cut some of his power away, but he made strides to fix that in his first pro season since coming out of Purdue. Down in Brooklyn, Plawecki put up a .250 average with a 1:1 BB/K rate (25:24). The NYPL is a pitching dominant league, so try not to get too down on the .250 average, especially when he accompanied it with seven homers and eight doubles in just 216 at-bats.

Plawecki is not a defensive wizard, as he gets by with a below average arm, but he is an intelligent baseball player. Intelligence at the catcher position is key, and he was known for calling his own games when he played at Purdue. Also, considering the fact that he was drafted as a junior in college, it puts him on somewhat of a fast track to the major leagues. His 2013 season will be key in determining what kind of player he will really turn out to be, as he makes the same jump as Hansel Robles to Savannah and potentially St. Lucie.

The biggest issue I have come across in scouting reports was the fact that almost everyone is in consensus that Plawecki should have been a third or fourth round pick. However, that is simply semantics. If you think a guy can help your organization, then why run the risk of someone else taking him?

At the time of the pick, the Mets had little catcher depth in their system, and Plawecki is the type of guy that will be able to move through the system very quickly, and hopefully help the Mets in the near future. While we can label a player a reach because we think that he should have been selected later, there is really no telling what the other teams will do, so when you have a chance to take your guy, you take him. The San Francisco Giants did something very similar in 2011 when they drafted shortstop Joe Panik. When evaluating draft picks it’s not always a matter of who has the better ability, but who has the ability to help the big league club as fast as possible. Plawecki is that type of a guy.


Plawecki is a guy that makes excellent contact. Through his college career, he had a very low strike out rate, and as stated earlier, had a 1:1 K/BB ratio at Brooklyn last season. I have read a couple of scouting reports that have noted his swing was a little long, but his swing is actually very compact, and he gets his hands through the hitting zone very quickly when he keeps them close to his body. If his hands get away from him, he could have trouble with pitchers with better fastballs. He starts with his hands high, has a nice load, and then gets his hands in a nice hitting position. I noticed that on a couple of the pitches he took, he didn’t keep his weight back, and transferred his weight early to the front leg. This can make him susceptible to off-speed pitches as he progresses to the higher levels of the organization.

He has a very level swing, which will lead to a ton of line drives, but it does not generate a ton of backspin on the ball when contact is made, which is why he won’t be a big home run threat. However, he does have solid to gap-to-gap power. Think of Daniel Murphy, but with a little more pop. I would project him to hit 10-15 home runs at the big league level at this point.

Everyone has been completely enthralled with the addition to Travis d’Arnaud, but Plawecki is a guy that fans should keep an eye on over the next couple of years. With questions of d’Arnaud’s durability arising, Plawecki is definitely a guy that could find himself behind the plate at Citi Field within the next couple of years.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

To read previous editions of this feature, go to our MMO Prospect Pulse Archives.

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

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Governor Chris Christie Likes The Mets’ Direction Fri, 08 Mar 2013 14:24:41 +0000 christie-metsjpg-4eebed596f258110_large

According to the Star-Ledger, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spent some time on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio channel yesterday discussing the Mets. Christie has been a long-time Mets fan, and will be in the stands on April 1 when the Mets take on the San Diego Padres on opening day.

Christie went through a list of players he likes, which he considers the nucleus, and includes David Wright, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy. He’s also excited about seeing top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud in blue and orange very soon. Christie believes with that young core of players, in addition to the Mets’ young pitchers Matt Harvey, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler, the Mets are headed in the right direction. Like most Mets fans, Christie raises questions about the outfield situation, but is looking forward to 2014 where he hopes that the Mets can add a few pieces to the puzzle.

matt harvey zack wheeler

Christie sounds like most Mets fans these days—he likes the young core, loves the young pitching, and has no idea what the outfield situation is going to look like. The outfield situation quickly becomes the center of attention for anyone discussing the Mets. The fans are tired of it and want to move on, but unfortunatley it’s one of those problems that seem to continue rearing it’s ugly head.

When looking at how some of the outfielders performed this spring, it could prompt a Mets fan to say to themselves “maybe this outfield won’t be as bad as everyone thinks.” I actually buy into that thought, but only out of sheer optimism. Overall, the performance of the outfield this spring has been utterly disappointing for me.

I expected Lucas Duda to take a step forward. I expected Kirk Nieuwenhuis to soildify himself as an everyday player, and even before the knee injury, did little to convince us he was ready. These are two guys the Mets really were hoping would take the bull by the horns, and it’s looking like they still need more fine tuning.

One guy that has really turned some heads this spring has been Matt den Dekker, in centerfield. Everyone should know how I feel about den Dekker by now (You down with MDD? Yeah you know me). Den Dekker is a human highlight reel with solid power, and will be a 20/20 type of a guy once he makes it to the show. I would love to see him in centerfield for the Mets this year, but the reality is starting to set in that he will be starting the season with Las Vegas. Hopefully he tears it up in Triple-A and joins the Mets sometime in the middle of the year.


It looks more and more like Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd will be with the team when camp breaks. Not only will they be with the team, but they seem to be playing themselves into starting roles. Most fans have been blown away by the play of these two guys, as the bar was set very, very low coming into the spring. It will be interesting to see how these guys perform once the regular season starts and opposing pitchers are trying to get them out, rather than getting their work in. There will most likely be a drop off in performance from these two guys once the regular season starts.

Jordany Valdespin is another guy that seems to be playing himself into a starting role this spring. With his skill set, it wil be very difficult to not have him in the lineup everyday. It seems like Valdespin is starting to realize that he has a major opportunity to leap frog some guys that got off to slow starts this spring, and he’s going after it.

So here we are, three weeks into spring training, and the outfield situation is just as muddled as it was when camp opened. It’s starting to look like the competition is separating, but it’s yet to be seen what kind of impact the spring performance will have on who is in that starting lineup when the season opens up. This saga will continue into the regular season.


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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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Remembering The Great No. 8 Sun, 03 Mar 2013 05:35:48 +0000 PetanickI was walking around the mall yesterday with my wife, trying to get her to go into labor with our second child (first son). They say walking is good for kick-starting the labor process at this point, and as we were walking around, I decided to duck into the sports memorabilia store. I was pacing through the store, looking at the autographs of all the great players hanging on the wall, and I came across a beautiful autographed picture of Gary Carter.

The funny thing is, I was talking to Joe D earlier that day about how I was going to groom my son to be the next great Mets catcher, and then found myself standing in front of that beautifully framed picture of Carter. I had been in that store many times in the past, and never have seen a picture of Carter.

People sometimes wonder what the big deal of owning an autographed picture of a great athlete is. Well, if you find the right piece of memorabilia, it should stir up some memories…

Only the good die young.

We hear that saying all the time, but for a man that carried the nickname “the Kid,” it couldn’t be truer. As I sit here and reflect on one of my childhood heroes, it’s hard to envision the 1986 Mets team that we hold so dear in our hearts, ever reaching the heights they did that season without Carter. He brought stability and leadership to a young and immature team that was in desperate need of guidance. The Mets may have only one World Series under their belts today if it wasn’t for the Mets bringing Carter in for the 1985 season. I think everyone that knows the story of the ’86 Mets would agree that (sorry for the cheesy line but) without No. 8, they would have never been great.

Carter was the only good guy portrayed in the book The Bad Guys Won, which chronicled the crazy journey of 1986 Mets. He has an entire chapter dedicated to himself. The chapter starts off by calling him a “geek.” Literally.

The reason people called him a geek was because if you lumped all the other Mets players in a tank, and the water that filled the tank was represented by all the drug use, womanizing, and alcohol they consumed, Carter was like a bead of oil sitting on top of the water.

He never cursed, never wore cool clothes, never drank alcohol, never smoked, never used illegal drugs or cheated on his wife. For these behaviors, he was alienated in the clubhouse, and labeled a “geek.” The truth is Carter wasn’t a “geek.” He wasn’t a “kid.” He was what we would consider a man in it’s truest form. He was a role model. He was who every parent hoped their child would grow up to be. Oh, and the man could play ball.

The picture that stirred the echoes

The picture in the mall that stirred the emotions.

I remember when I was in little league, I convinced my coach to move me from my main position of shortstop, where I was an all-star, to catcher. I wanted to strap on those shin guards for one reason: Gary Carter. I still had the No. 1 on my back because Ozzie Smith’s back flips and smooth shortstop play had me hooked, but I was behind the plate grinding it out every game because of Carter. And I mean I was grinding it out. I’m not sure how many of you have played catcher in little league, but it isn’t as easy as it seems on the T.V. screen.

The professional pitchers hardly ever throw the ball in the dirt. Little League pitchers, on the other hand, throw it in the dirt quite often. I was bruised up from blocking all the balls, but I stuck with it, and it wasn’t long before I was named an all-star at catcher too. I remember the umpires would thank me at the end of every game because I would block all the wild pitches, saving them from taking their usual beating behind the plate. Evidently that was a rarity at that age.

They really should have thanked Gary Carter. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been back there blocking the balls that would normally giving them bruises. Carter was my favorite Mets player, but I eventually couldn’t take the abuse anymore that comes with blocking all those wild pitches. I ended up moving to the outfield to try and follow in the footsteps of my next childhood hero who also carried the nickname “the kid” – Ken Griffey Jr. I played the outfield all the way through college, and it earned me some tryouts for some major league teams, but I always regretted giving up on catching too soon.

I was a young boy during 1986, so I don’t remember much from that season. However, there are two moments that always stick out in my mind: the ball squibbling through Buckner’s legs in game six, and Gary Carter jumping into Jesse Orosco’s arms with that completely elated look on his face at the end of the ’86 World Series.

I also vaguely remember being at a game one summer night with my parents. At some point during the game, the umpire made a bad call. The three young men sitting in front of us decided to show the umpire how displeased they were with the call. First they got the umpire’s attention. Then they turned around very calmly, so that their backs were facing the field. After that, they dropped their pants in perfect unison, and proceeded to “moon” the umpire. Evidently, the 80s were a different time, because they didn’t get in trouble, but I can’t go to a Mets game without thinking about that moment.

Gary Carter will always be remembered as a great player (11 time All-Star and Hall of Famer), but he should also be remembered as a great man.  He showed us young Mets fans growing up how to play the game the way it was supposed to be played, and how to be a man, and not a “kid” like his nickname portrays him.

When looking back at that 1986 Mets team, it’s hard to believe that Carter was the youngest man to perish. With the way some of those Mets players abused their bodies with that indestructible feeling so many young men have, it’s amazing they haven’t experienced more health issues. It doesn’t seem fair that a person such as Carter was taken from us so young, especially when he lived his life in a manner that is said to provide us with longevity. I guess it must be true…the good really do die young.


We’ll always remember you No. 8…

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Now Batting No. 5 and Playing Left Field, Wilmer Flores Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:42:38 +0000 Wilmer_Flores_New_York_Mets

Updated by Joe D. on 2/27

We may hear those words blare over the Citi Field PA system one day in the near future during a Mets game… Maybe…

Whether or not Wilmer Flores should be handed an outfield glove has been debated quite passionately on MMO many times over the last several months. We’ve all debated the pros and cons of such a move, and obviously so have the Mets.

As Andrew Keh of the New York Times pointed out, Flores has continued to distinguish himself as one of the more promising hitters in the Mets’ organization, but he is a player who, at the moment, seems to lack an obvious position. That said,, everything keeps pointing to the outfield.

“It’s an obvious question,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday morning, “and we’ve considered it. Our focus is developing him as a hitter, and that’s not something we want to interfere with.”

As for Flores, he keeps saying the same thing each time he’s asked, “Sure, why not? I’ll play anywhere they ask me to play.”

Look for Flores to get some playing time in the outfield this month and next as well. It may only be an experiment for now, but it’s becoming quite clear the team is not looking to trade him and view him as a keeper. That means a position change will have to be coming…

Stay tuned…

Original Post 2/26

Last night was the first time most Mets fans got the chance to see Wilmer Flores play second base, including myself. Seeing Flores at second base was one of the main things I was focused on during last night’s game against the Washington Nationals. I’m sure other fans were focused on Flores as well, as talks about running Daniel Murphy out of town began as soon as the Mets announced that Flores would be taking reps at second base this spring.

Making the jump from third base to a middle infield position is generally a very difficult one. The switch from the middle infield to third base is much, much easier. Flores, has now made the switch from the middle infield to third base, and now back to the middle infield.

The reason why the switch from third base to the middle infield is difficult is because the positions are fundamentally different. Sure, you mechanically field the grounder the same way at third base as you would any place on the diamond, but aside from that, just about everything else is different—different reaction times, different angles off the bat, turning the double play is different, different footwork, and different positions to be on cut-offs.

Two of the main things I watched for last night was to see how Flores approached grounders hit in his direction, and how he turned the double play.

Third base is a position where the balls are generally hit sharply, so the player usually waits for the ball to get to him, rather than charge and play the ball. They may have to move laterally, but generally don’t move in on the ball unless it is a weakly hit grounder or bunt—hence being called the “hot corner.” At second base it’s the complete opposite. If the player waits for the ball to get to him, in other words, let the ball play him instead of “playing the ball,” the most routine grounders will turn into infield hits. I wanted to see if Flores took that with him to second base, because playing third base for the past couple of years could have re-programmed him mentally. Flores did a good job of “playing the ball,” and it looked as if his instincts from when he was a former shortstop are still there.

When turning the double play, Flores looked smooth. I was watching for Flores’ pivot, and how he received the throws from the shortstop. There are a couple of different ways for a second baseman to receive the toss on a double play from the left side of the infield. They can use a timing play where they try to time the toss from the left side, and come across the front of the bag to get more momentum on the throw. The other way is to wait at the bag, which generally leads to the second baseman making a flat footed throw off the back foot. Flores arm is definitely strong enough for the latter, and he demonstrated it in last night’s game.

It’s only one game, but Flores had a successful night at second base. It seems the instincts are still there from when he used to play shortstop, the arm strength is there, and now we have to see how his range is on some more challenging ground balls. Everyone will be keeping a very close eye on Flores at second base this spring, the bat is definitely there, and it seems like he may have found a home defensively.

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Prospect Pulse: 2013 Mets Centerfield Candidate Matt den Dekker Sat, 23 Feb 2013 18:00:35 +0000 matt den dekker 2

Matt den Dekker, CF

Bats: L Throws: L
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 205 lb.
Position: Centerfield
Age: 25 (26 in August)
ETA: 2013
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #12


Here is a brief player profile from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

Matt den Dekker has only been in the Mets farm system for three years, but his name has been relevant since the Mets tabbed him as a legitimate centerfield prospect. Den Dekker torched Binghamton upon his arrival in 2012, but struggled after his promotion to Buffalo and saw his strikeout rate increase to nearly 30%. He has a great feel for centerfield and could get by on his spectacular defense alone as a major leaguer. But his ability to hit advanced pitching will ultimately determine how quickly he makes his way onto the Mets.

Den Dekker is likely the closest outfield prospect the Mets have to being MLB ready. The one downside is that he’s another left-handed hitter which means he would have to outperform the glut of other Mets left-handed hitters to earn a promotion.

He is considered a superior defender to incumbent Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but with his inability to consistently make contact and a poor split-performance, den Dekker is likely to begin the season in Las Vegas and won’t make a trip up to Flushing until he can improve some elements to his offensive game. If he can square up and make more consistent contact, while reducing his strikeouts, Den Dekker could make an appearance later this season and end up playing a significant role this year and next. It’s a big “if” but it’s certainly not out of the question.

When looking at den Dekker’s stats, it’s easy to see his numbers took a dive after he made the jump to a higher level. This happened in both 2011 and 2012. What’s promising is how he adjusted at those levels when he started with those teams the following season. He was absolutely destroying Double-A pitching in 2012 after struggling during his first stint there in 2011. In 58 games with Binghamton last year, he hit to the tune of a .340 AVG/.397 OBP/ 8 HR/ 29 RBI/ 10 SB. You can see why he got promoted to Triple-A Buffalo after a sizzling start like that.

Up at Buffalo, he struggled. But as I stated earlier, that seems to be the trend with den Dekker (when he initially makes a jump, he struggles). It will be interesting to see what he does in Las Vegas this year, because if he follows the trend, he should put up some really solid numbers at the Triple-A level now that he got a half season under his belt. If he succeeds in Vegas, he will surely be a candidate to join the Mets sometime in June or July.


Based on the video, den Dekker does have a slight mechanical issue with his swing. It is easily fixable using muscle memory drills. However, he does have a very smooth swing and the potential is there to be a 20/20 type of player at the major league level.

I’m not sure den Dekker will ever be a .300 hitter unless he works out the mechanical deficiency that was described in the video. His front foot opens up during his swing, which causes his hips to open early. This could make him susceptible to off-speed pitches and pitches on the outside part of the plate. Keeping his front foot and hips closed longer should also improve his strikeout rate (since it will help him with the off-speed/outside pitches). If he is going to be a .300 hitter, he is going to have to working on keeping those hips closed and use all parts of the field when hitting.

Here is what a scout had to say about den Dekker via ESPN New York:

He’s a good defender. He throws good enough. He’s got some power — not great power, but he’s got some power. He’s making adjustments. I’ve been there [to watch Binghamton] three times. Every time he’s gotten better with the bat. He’s not flailing. He’s not trying to pull the ball. He’s making adjustments. It looks natural. He will cut down on his strikeouts with this new approach. He’s more patient. He’s going to be OK. I was prepared to not like this kid. He’s really won me over. It’s going to be a very spirited competition for center field between him and Nieuwenhuis, who are both better than Torres.

Those are pretty powerful words from that scout who said that both Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker were better than Andres Torres already, and this quote is from last June. Matt den Dekker should start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, and you should definitely keep an eye on him in 2013. Depending on how he performs in Las Vegas, he could be in the outfield mix at Citi Field very soon.

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Prospect Pulse: Stock Is Rising For RHP Rafael Montero Thu, 21 Feb 2013 00:52:32 +0000 rafael montero


Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6′  
Weight: 170 lb.
Position: Pitcher
Age: 22
ETA: 2015
2013 MMO Top Prospect Ranking: #9


Here is a brief player profile from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

If you go by the numbers, Sterling Award winner Rafael Montero is a guy that you should be taking note of. He entered the Mets system in 2011, and has already seen work at six different levels, culminating in his work in St.Lucie last year. Montero was stopped short last year because he hit his innings limit, but impressed basically everybody with a 2.36 ERA in 122.0 innings over two levels, while posting a 0.943 WHIP.

He has continued to keep his walks down, as he’s done during every stop of his MiLB career so far, posting a 1.6 BB/9 rate compared to a 8.1 K/9. To put it plainly, he walked only 19 while striking out 110, and it’s mainly because of the strength of his secondary offerings. In addition, he only allowed six home runs all season, so there are more than just a few reasons to be excited about him.

Montero has an interesting skill set which is accompanied by a frame that most scouts agree needs to be bulked up a little before guaranteeing any success. His fastball is not dominant by any means, but it is possible to work with it at the MLB level. Although it sits in the 90-92 MPH range, it has great late movement and Montero commands it impressively. I have seen him work a curve and a change into his pitching arsenal at times, but I have to say he also throws a good hard slider that’s not far from being a plus-offering. Montero has three solid pitches to work with – the fastball, slider, and change up. He varies the speed on his change well and the bottom drops out more often than not.

Montero pitched well enough in 2012 to get an invite to spring training, and thus far in camp, he has been nothing short of spectacular. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has reported in a recent tweet that Montero is ”thrilling Mets people” in camp, and “unreal’ is the word being used in camp when describing this exciting prospect.

Michael Baron of Metsblog was also recently blown away by Montero and noted that the young right-hander had “electrifying stuff.” Here is more of what he had to say about Montero, after watching a recent bullpen session down in Florida:

He worked counts and the pitch situations that come with that, such as coming back with fastballs down 2-0, and using his breaking pitch on the corners when ahead in the count. He didn’t seem to fall behind too much…Montero’s stuff looks electrifying, but he’s still quite raw, which is to be expected at this stage of his development. He throws very hard, and his breaking pitch has very heavy movement down through the strike zone. He is very lanky, kind of like Pedro Martinez when he was younger.

Baron’s report is just as promising as Heyman’s, however I found it to be a tad contradicting. Baron states that Montero worked counts, didn’t fall behind much, and used his breaking pitch on the corners when ahead in the count which hardly sounds like Montero is ”raw.”

I think what Baron was trying to convey was that Montero is inexperienced, since he has only pitched in the lower levels of the system. Someone who is raw generally oozes talent, but hasn’t figured out how to apply that talent in game situations — it seems that from Baron’s description that Montero is still figuring out how to pitch. Being a raw talent and an inexperienced player are two different things.


Based on the video, Montero does have a couple of minor mechanical issues he has to work on, but he does have electric stuff and tons of potential. His fastball tops out at 93mph, and he has a nice, biting slider to go along with his fastball.

He also throws a slower slurve, which is a bendy combination of slider and curveball, but he uses it very rarely. Montero has a lot of promise, but I would like to see him focusing on developing his changeup, and get rid of that slurve he throws. Most early scouting reports had Montero labeled as a bullpen arm, but with continued progress, he could be a very formidable middle of the rotation starter.

Montero still relies on his fastball, so the Mets will start working with Montero to incorporate his secondary pitches more and more as he progresses. In the lower levels of the system, it is easy for pitchers to get by with fastball, fastball, but as he rises through the system, he will need a variety of well developed pitches to get the more advanced hitters out.

Montero should start the season with Double-A Binghamton, and you should definitely keep an eye on him in 2013. Montero is a name that Met fans should get used to hearing.

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To read previous editions of this feature, go to our MMO Prospect Pulse Archives.

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