Mets Merized Online » New York Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:02:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Giants and Nationals Have Expressed Interest In Murphy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/giants-and-nationals-have-expressed-interest-in-murphy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/giants-and-nationals-have-expressed-interest-in-murphy.html/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:26:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162224 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have expressed interest in Daniel Murphy, but he calls the likelihood of any deal a longshot.

SiriusXM host and former GM Jim Duquette also had a source tell him that the Giants are still very interested in acquiring Murphy.

In all likelihood, Murphy isn;t going anywhere. Sandy Alderson will want much to move him and his value to the Mets may be higher than anything another team would offer to pry him away.

This is the kind of move the Mets would wait until the offseason to make.

(Joe D.)

July 30

In using humor to deflect a question about the Mets capacity to pay top or near top shelf salaries for three players on their roster, Sandy Alderson sent clear signals the financial situation for the New York Mets has not been resolved. Posture and position as he might, the reality is Alderson does not have the payroll flexibility of bringing a third top flight offensive player to Flushing.

With that in mind, it’s important for Alderson to consider the packaging of Met assets to build a Met offense, that matched with our young pitching cadre increases our possibilities of fielding a competitive baseball team. Such maneuvering involves risk, daring and keen baseball insights.

In all likelihood, that packaging will need to include Daniel Murphy. Accepting the reality that in trying to improve their roster, the Mets will likely need to move Murphy is a tough pill for me to swallow. When Murphy was in Binghamton with the Double-A Mets, I fell in love with his unpredictable, gritty, passionate style of baseball and I’ve followed his career closely ever since. Murphy has a work ethic second to none and through the force of hard work and a strong will has made himself an accomplished major league baseball hitter, the major reason why Murphy is one of the Met assets that make him a probable trading piece. Coupled with a top shelf Met pitching prospect, a trade involving Murphy might add a solid major leaguer to fill one of the position holes in left field or at shortstop on our current roster.

I understand the angst of Met fans who argue that in trading Murphy the Mets would simply trade one roster gap for a newly formed crevice at second base. They’re right. But, working to improve a roster takes the capacity to hedge bets and take risks. And, the status or our current crop of minor league position players builds a solid case that successfully filling a vacancy in Flushing at second base with prospects already in our system is far more probable than filling vacancies at other field positions.

Why? Because, the Mets have a nucleus of promising middle infielder contenders in the minor leagues. The probability is good that from that young group the Mets can find an everyday second baseman.

Who are the contenders? It’s a group of diverse baseball talent that places Murphy in the crosshairs of possibly being moved this off-season, especially knowing the Mets will need to dig considerably deeper into their pockets should they elect to stay with their current second baseman.

Wilmer Flores has to be the leading candidate to fill a future major league second base void in Flushing. Given a chance to play regularly, the 22-year old Flores has shined at whatever level he has played. There is little argument that it’s Flores’s bat that is his ticket to the major leagues. Solid batting fundamentals and home run power are an asset for Flores as well as his ability in an emergency to play almost any infield slot. And, although he may lack range defensively, Flores has proven he is sure handed and consistent, both qualities of a solid fielding second baseman.

dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

From there a pack of minor league middle infielders is nipping at Flores’ heels, all part of the Mets safety net should they move Murphy. In my opinion, Dilson Herrera has a slight edge on the rest of the pack. Getting an extended opportunity to watch Herrera in Binghamton has been a baseball bonus this summer. Met fans are simply going to love this toolsy middle infielder.

Of course it’s only a small sample but if first impressions count, Herrera has been a B-Met sensation, In 35 games covering 142 at bats, Herrera is batting .345 with 10 doubles, 2 triples and 6 home runs. The B-Met second baseman has hit in the clutch already knocking home 32 RBI’s in his short Binghamton stay. Herrera’s .407 on-base-percentage is the best on the current B-Met roster only trailing Matt Reynolds who posted a .430 OBP before his elevation to Las Vegas. Herrera’s .579 slugging percentage is nearly 75 percentage points higher than the nearest B-Met. Herrera is quick of foot, with great hands, a middle infield prospect who has Met fans who have watched him play thinking big.

Speaking of Matt Reynolds, the former University of Arkansas Razorback has exploded on the Met baseball scene this spring. After compiling modest production in A-ball in 2012 and 2013 at Savannah and St. Lucie, Reynolds has been a hitting machine in Binghamton and Las Vegas this spring and summer. Alternating in Binghamton on a day-to-day basis between second and short, Reynolds led the Eastern League in batting at .355 when he was called up to Vegas. Good plate discipline has to elevate Reynolds’s standing with Met brass.

After initially tearing up the Pacific Coast League in Vegas, Reynolds cooled, but has recently rediscovered his hitting stroke, hitting safely in his last four games going 8-for-17, scoring a run in each game, slamming two home runs and driving in 6 runs. Although he is not flashy with the leather, Reynolds has solid defensive skills and projects well at second base.

A dark horse contender, don’t count Wilfredo Tovar out. A thumb injury and surgery has almost erased the gritty Tovar out of consideration by most Met fans. But, Tovar is by far the best middle infield defensive option for the Mets, the Met minor league defensive player of the year for four years running. And since the Eastern League All-Star game in 2013, the tough B-Met infielder has raked at the plate. Before his thumb injury, Tovar was having a career season in Binghamton from the last slot in the B-Met batting order with a .313/.377/.373 stat line including 21 RBI’s in 150 at-bats. And, prior to his injury, Tovar drew more walks than he struck out. At present Tovar has returned to the diamond in Port St. Lucie where Tovar has played in 4 games including 14 at bats and is hitting .357.

Not highly recruited but highly productive, T.J. Rivera should also be part of the middle infield conversation. All Rivera does wherever he goes is hit. Rivera, who is currently playing shortstop for the B-Mets hit .341 in St. Lucie before his elevation to Double-A ball where he is batting .340 in Binghamton.

Although he probably doesn’t register on the radar, I’d wager if you asked Las Vegas manager Wally Backman, he’d say his Las Vegas second baseman Danny Muno deserves some consideration. That’s because Muno plays the same hard-nosed, hustle at all costs, dirt-on-the-uniform style of play at second base for the 51’s Backman used to play for the Mets. In both Binghamton and Vegas, Muno has profiled as a .250 stick at the plate with all the intangibles managers love in a middle infielder. Like he did in Binghamton, Muno hits in the clutch. His 46 RBI’s rank fourth on the 51 roster behind Allan Dykstra (62), Wilmer Flores (57) and Andrew Brown (52).

In the best of all worlds, I’d love to see the Mets use free agency to add the pieces to complement our promising young pitching to see us elevate our standing in major league baseball circles. But, for our Mets, financially, that best of all worlds simply does not exist. So, rather then gnash my already seriously compromised teeth (from all that anxiety night time grinding that comes with rooting for the Mets) fantasizing about what we can’t have, maybe it’s time to cobble together some intelligent baseball moves, risky as they might be, that might help get us what we want. One of the biggest risks of all might be moving Daniel Murphy.

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Show Us the Money?! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/show-us-the-money.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:20:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=162095 Ever since the end of the 2009 season, financial issues have been a critical if not overriding factor for the New York Mets and their decision making.

saul katz and fred wilpon

Whether it was the $140+ million major league payroll loaded with “toxic” contracts for a sub .500 mostly veteran team, the subsequent decline in attendance and related revenue, possible effects of the Madoff-Ponzi-scheme, including the claim filed by the administrator of the Madoff estate or some heavy leveraging of the Mets and related entities with all sorts of debt – it´s often been Finances first. And Baseball a very distant second.

Interestingly enough though, very little has been written or said about the Mets´ CURRENT financial situation. Basically, the claim/reporting – based on what transpired over the past few years – has been “they have no money” and it appears, fans, writers and the public believe and seemingly have accepted the Mets will be operating as a de-facto small-market team for a while.

That has led to discussion whether the Mets almost have to trade Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy for financial reasons leading up towards 2015 to possibly clear the roughly $20 million that duo will be making next year. Or whether the Mets even have the ability to think about taking on a significant contract such as that of Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez.

Shouldn’t we be discussing whether Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero (and Matt Harvey next year) are sufficient replacements for Colon or if and when Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds or Dilson Herrera can replace Daniel Murphy just fine at 2B going forward?

Shouldn’t the discussion be more about the pros and cons of parting with several promising young pieces in exchange for Tulo or CarGo than killing the debate with a “but they are too expensive anyway” comment?

METS FANS STRESSED SADHave the Mets themselves – successfully – lulled fans & media into a perception and belief that the payroll permanently has to be frozen in the $85 million range that it has hovered around for three years now?

And that a main concern right now should be that just keeping together the current roster minus free agents Chris Young, Dice-K and Bobby Abreu will probably cost over $90 million already? (Adam Rubin did the math a few days ago.)

Isn’t there some new evidence that the Mets currently are operating well below of what their “break even” ceiling actually is? Isn’t it time to reevaluate the situation? Books can and have been written about financial reorganizing or how the Mets got into this situation. But hasn’t the situation changed over the past couple of years ?

Leaving out the profits SNY – an entity majority owned by the Mets ownership group – has been earning, the explicitly stated financial goal for the Mets has been to “break even.” Something which it has failed to do for at least the past 4 years.

Operating losses - according to what´s been available via a google search or explicit statements by people who should know – were massive in 2010 and 2011 (Losses of $51 and $70 million reportedly) and a lot less severe over the past two years (23 million in 2012 and 10 million in 2013) as the major league payroll was cut by about $50 million. While instead of the dramatic decline in attendance (including premium seats) from 2009 through 2011, the Mets from 2012 through this season have merely experienced something between regression or stagnation at a very low level.

Unfortunately, there´s no detailed balance sheet for the Mets entity or “sister” companies such as SNY that are publicly available. But from what there is to gather, the financial picture is looking a lot better now than it has in recent past. The 2014 payroll, minus Ike Davis, for now projects to end up just around or even below $85 million and thus between $5-10 million less than it has been for the past couple of years.

The decline in attendance has apparently been stopped in 2014. And at least thus far, every loan due against the Mets has apparently been refinanced. Most of all though, the new National TV deal that kicked in for the 2014 season flushes in an extra $25-30 million – not subject to revenue sharing  for every MLB franchise. This is EXTRA revenue for the Mets that wasn´t there in 2013 or in previous years.

Do the math yourself: You save between $5-10 million on payroll, attendance related revenue at worst freezes at a low level or even improves slightly and you also get an extra $25-30 million in new revenue flushed into your operation. That’s a $30 to $35 million turnaround compared to 2013 and 2012 where the team – on average – reported losses of $16.5 million per year.

Mets CubsSo, assuming all other expenses (revenue sharing, travel, interest payments on debt, minor league operations, etc.) have remained about the same – and there is no indication of any significant change here between now and the past couple of years – this makes it seem probable the 2014 Mets figure to make an operating profit somewhere between $15 and $20 million if the payroll ends up close to its projection of $85 million. And in turn, the “break even” payroll would really be in the $100 to $105 million range for 2014.

Going forward, if the Mets happen to look like a more promising team in 2015 behind a full arsenal of high end young pitching and maybe the addition of another bat, attendance and revenue figure to rise, further lifting the payroll ceiling going forward.

Considering expected arbitration raises going forward, the injury to Matt Harvey and IP limits for various young arms, it’s actually understandable why the Mets didn’t already approach that payroll ceiling this year. But as it is, there’s really no reason why the 2015 payroll shouldn’t at least be in the $100 to 105 million range. And doesn’t that even make for some positive PR regarding ownership, showing their determination to field a winner?

Thus, trading Colon and / or Murphy should be BASEBALL decisions first and foremost. Just like acquiring a Tulowitzki or another high priced player should mainly be debated in terms of the young talent it’d take to make such a move instead of focusing on the annual salary. Sure, there’s no way the Mets will have a Top 5 in the majors payroll again – like they did on average from 1990 through 2011.

But it’s very likely, they’ll at least gravitate towards a “middle of the pack” payroll again rather sooner than later. Still, odd and tough to explain for a New York based franchise – but a lot better than finances being the overriding factor. So, show us the money!

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 7, Phillies 1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-phillies-1.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-game-recap-mets-7-phillies-1.html/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 03:01:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161998 bartolo colon

The New York Mets (51-55) took on the Philadelphia Phillies (46-60) tonight at Citi Field for the start of a seven game homestand. Bartolo Colon took the mound for the Mets, as A.J. Burnett got the nod for Philadelphia.

What you should know: 

The Mets got off to an early start tonight, as they put up a four spot in the first inning thanks to RBI hits by Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares.

Travis d’Arnaud broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning as he launched a three-run home run to left field. d’Arnaud would accumulate three extra base hits tonight (the home run and two doubles).

Burnett did not fare well at all for Philadelphia, as he was tagged for all seven runs over the span of five innings. Along with the seven earned runs, he also allowed eight hits, and walked two while striking out four.

Bartolo Colon on the other hand was terrific for the Mets. He would pitch 7.2 fantastic innings, allowing only one run and striking out six.

Dana Eveland came on in a low leverage situation to shut the door in the ninth but was forced to leave the game after being nailed by a comebacker in his pitching arm. Vic Black came on to get the final two outs, and secured the win for the Mets.

Despite having thirteen hits, the Phillies could only muster up one run, as the Mets defeated A.J. Burnett for the first time in nine years.

travis d'arnaud hr

Player of the Game:

Tonight, I decided to award two New York Mets with Player of the Game honors. Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, who threw seven shutout innings before allowing just the one run in the eighth, and earning his tenth win of the season. The second player of the game goes to catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who had three extra base hits and three runs batted in in the Mets routing of the Phillies.

On deck:

The Mets look for the series victory tomorrow night at Citi Field, with Dillon Gee (4-3, 3.49 ERA) squaring off against Cole Hamels (5-5, 2.72 ERA).

Ya Gotta Believe mmo

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MMO Fan Shot: Trading Murphy Would Be The Smart Move For The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-fan-shot-trading-murphy-would-be-the-smart-move-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-fan-shot-trading-murphy-would-be-the-smart-move-for-the-mets.html/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161867 wright murphy

An MMO Fan Shot by Quinn Barry

Daniel Murphy has been one of the best hitters on the New York Mets this season. Murphy is batting .293 with 7 homers, 11 Steals, 57 runs scored, and is second in the National League with 125 hits. However, the time to trade Daniel Murphy is now.

As the focal point of the Mets’ offense, Daniel Murphy’s trade value has never been higher. Plus, Murphy is becoming increasingly more and more expensive. According to ESPN.com, Murphy is making $5.7 million this season. Next year, his final year of arbitration, Murphy will earn upwards of $8 million dollars. That’s not exactly cheap for a Mets team that ranks 25th in league payroll, according to Deadspin.

Adding on to that, Murphy will be a free agent following the 2015 season, where he could presumably walk if the Mets don’t extend him, leaving the Mets with zero compensation.

Finally, trading away a player with an extra year of team control would maximize the Mets’ return. Moving on from Murphy now would allow the Mets more financial flexibility and greater value from the incoming prospects/players they would receive in a potential trade.

wilmer-flores-2013-bmPutting the money and trade value aside, the Mets would be able to rebound from trading Murphy, as they have a glut of second base prospects in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

Perhaps the most MLB ready replacement is Wilmer Flores, who was recently called up from Triple-A Las Vegas. Prior to receiving the call, Flores hit .323 with 13 home runs and sported an incredible .935 OPS in just 55 games. While many question Flores defensively, scouts say he has the arm strength, range, and hands to play an adequate second base.

Looking beyond Flores, 2012 second-rounder Matt Reynolds provides another intriguing option at second. Although he doesn’t hit for much power, the 23 year-old dominated the competition at Double-A Binghamton this year, hitting .355 with a .430 OBP, and earning a call-up to Triple-A Vegas. However, since arriving at Triple-A Reynolds is only hitting .285, and his on-base percentage is down almost .100 points from his Double-A clip. These struggles suggest that even though Reynolds is not big-league ready like Flores is right now, he could become a legitimate option down the road.

herreraAnother option and one that may have more potential than both Flores and Reynolds, but will need a bit more time to develop first. is Double-A second baseman Dilson Herrera. He has been a highly-touted prospect ever since the Pirates signed him out of Colombia in 2010, and has only seen his stock rise since he came over to the Mets in last August’s Marlon Byrd trade.

Herrera was raking at Class-A St. Lucie, hitting .307, before getting promoted to Double-A. Since arriving at Binghamton, Herrera has hit .353 with a .412 OBP and a ridiculous .978 OPS. For a twenty-year-old kid, those are some pretty impressive numbers. Herrera has a chance to become an impact bat in the Mets’ lineup as early as 2015.

A Murphy trade would save the Mets financially, bring back valuable talent, and open up a spot for one of their young second baseman to shine. If a trade centered around Murphy brought back a power-hitting left fielder, it should be a no-brainer for the Mets’ front office. It’s time to trade Daniel Murphy.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader and die-hard Met fan Quinn Barry. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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What Does A Mets “Core Four” Look Like? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/what-does-a-mets-core-four-look-like.html/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:05:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161512 wright harvey

It’s a fascinating query, a paradox of sorts, a question with no easy answer.  That fact speaks more to the New York Mets lingering status in baseball Nowhere Land than anything else.  No matter, identifying four core or foundational players of the New York Mets can be a real baseball brain teaser.

The concept of the ‘core four’ evolved from our pinstripe rivals across town when four homegrown prospects; Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, became the foundational pieces of sustained baseball excellence in the Bronx.  The Yankee core provided the Bombers a talented baseball foundation, a core of hungry consistent, relentless baseball exemplars Yankee management could build around to keep the Yankee machine running in high gear for much of two decades.

Building comparisons to the Yankee ‘core four’ is an impossibility.  Few could have predicted the success of these four Yankee prospects when they were signed.  Only Jeter was highly rated and considered a can’t miss pick.  The other three were signed in the 22nd and 24th rounds and as a free agent of the amateur draft.  Their legend as the indefatigable core of the Yankee success, as the unmovable granite on the pinstripe roster evolved over time.  That’s not a scenario that meshes well with the current standing of our New York Mets.

Stop the procrastinating and select four players Met management could use as the centerpiece of even  a short run of baseball success in Flushing.  Okay, here goes.

  1.  Matt Harvey  – In some ways selecting Matt Harvey is a no brainer, yet in some ways picking Harvey is a leap of blind faith.  After his arm surgery last summer, no one can really be sure what the Mets will have in Matt Harvey when he returns to the mound next spring.  What we know for certain is that Matt Harvey is a unique baseball talent, a rare combination of intelligence, bravado, authenticity, chutzpah, and baseball skill that can transform the culture of a baseball franchise.  The 2013 Mets that took the field when Matt Harvey pitched were a different animal than the squad that played working through the other four days of the starting rotation.  Harvey is the type of guy who simply won’t accept losing, the iron willed like persona needed in a baseball core.  Until he proves otherwise, Matt Harvey is the only non-negotiable member of my Met core four.
  2. David Wright – As it stands, David Wright is the cornerstone of the New York Met franchise, destined to become the greatest player to ever wear the New York Met orange and blue.  David Wright bleeds Mets blue.  He grew up near Norfolk Virginia watching and rooting for the Tides, the Mets Triple-A franchise located in Wright’s home town.  Wright is proud to wear a Met uniform and willing to personally sacrifice for the chance to play for Met fans in Citi Field.  Fred Wilpon once called David Wright a really good kid, a very good player, but not a superstar.  Based on NY Met standards, David Wright is a superstar, the pick of the litter, a border line Hall of Famer.  Wright, a career .300 hitter, is the all-time Met leader in a host of offensive categories which will soon include home runs.  It’s a shame, the Mets fell into franchise disarray during peak years on David Wright’s baseball arc.  But, loyal to a fault, David Wright always remains on script for the NY Mets, a solid baseball fixture for some time to come in Flushing and reliable source as one of the four core to build a baseball franchise around.

Naming a ‘core two‘ was not that difficult.  From here the chore becomes almost ominous.  What players on an underperforming baseball team or unproven but highly regarded prospects in a vastly improved player development system could be included in a core four?

A rabid Binghamton Met baseball fanatic, I have watched almost all of the most promising Met prospects for extended stays playing Double-A ball in Binghamton.  My interest in minor league baseball has taught me predicting the success of developing baseball players is an inexact science at best.  Had I evaluated Matt Harvey’s value purely based on his minor league performance in Binghamton it would be preposterous to include him as part of a ‘core four‘ baseball gang in Flushing.  For those reasons, the final two players of my ‘core four‘ would need to come from the players currently on the Met roster.

  1. Curtis Granderson – At face value, judging only by baseball statistics, Curtis Granderson is an unlikely candidate to be included in a New York Met ‘core four.‘  But the bigger the sample size of Curtis Granderson baseball in Flushing, the more Met fans are coming to appreciate his baseball contributions.  Intelligent and adaptable, after a horrid debut in Flushing, Granderson  is proving once again he can mold his hitting approach to fit the venue where he plays and the batting demands for who he plays for.  With the Yankees, Granderson’s contact swing disappeared replaced by a pull hitting approach to take advantage of the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium.  When that approach was a dismal April failure at Citi Field, Granderson went about the hard work of adapting once again and the results have been satisfying.  Granderson adds a desperately needed home run threat to the Mets line-up.  His production at the top of the Met line-up helps fill a huge void in the lead-off spot.  Equally important, Granderson has a great clubhouse presence and is a badly needed positive voice for the Mets.  Granderson gives the Mets a bonafide outfield major league presence in the everyday line-up.
  2. Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud or Jeurys Familia?  Who do I choose.  Lagares gives the Mets a defensive outfield presence that is difficult to replace.  d’Arnaud provides heaps of untapped promise, a polished defensive catcher with a huge offensive upside.  And, with his nasty stuff and near triple digit fastball, Familia could be the sleeper in the group, the right-handed relief arm that someday could evolve to become a prized stopper in the Met bullpen.

I’l give the nod to Lagares.  With the Mets poised to stage a pitching first reinvention, defense becomes more important than ever and Lagares brings an elite glove to center field for the Mets.  Lagares’ defensive play is rare and special.  Baseball Reference labeled his 2013 defensive play in center field as the ninth best defensive performance by a baseball center fielder of all time.  Although the Mets were slow to appreciate the value of just what that means, defensive play at that level is almost irreplaceable.  And, Lagares shows signs of developing into an average to above average stick at the plate.  That’s the kind of performance a baseball team can build around.

Harvey, Wright, Granderson, Lagares, my Met ‘core four,‘ a tough call indeed. If you were asked to determine four players in the Met organization, not more, not less, to become a core to build anchor future Met baseball success, who would you choose?

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Law Ranks Mets Fourth Best Farm System http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/law-ranks-mets-fourth-best-farm-system.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/law-ranks-mets-fourth-best-farm-system.html/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:45:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161440 jake degrom

Keith Law of ESPN ranked the New York Mets among his top five farm systems, slotting them fourth behind No. 1 Chicago Cubs, No. 2 Minnesota Twins and No. 3 Houston Astros. (ESPN Insider)

4. New York Mets

The Mets have graduated a few prospects to the majors — Travis d’Arnaud (No. 2 in the system coming into the year) and Jacob deGrom (No. 13) in particular — but the guys still in the system have nearly all taken steps forward. Noah Syndergaard (No. 1) has had an excellent year in the pitchers’ hell of Las Vegas. Brandon Nimmo (No. 5) is hitting for power now that he’s out of Savannah, a terrible park for left-handed power hitters. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (No. 6) continues to receive well, as expected, but he also has hit well enough to push himself up to Triple-A in his second full season.

Eighteen-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario doesn’t look out of place among older players in the New York-Penn League, and he has the instincts and reactions to stay at short if he can find some consistency in the field. And they added the most polished hitter in this year’s draft class, Michael Conforto, who led Division I in OBP. They still have a ton of arms but are heavier on bats at the corners than in the middle infield or center, although Rosario might eventually make up for Gavin Cecchini‘s .194/.269/.247 line in high Class A.

He didn’t even mention my latest favorites Steven Matz, Dilson Herrera and Dominic Smith… The Mets continue to shine with the quality of prospects they are accumulating in the minors. Hopefully that begins to manifest itself on the major league level in the not too distant future.

The major league team still struggles to score runs but thanks to Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia the bullpen seems to have turned a corner. Starting pitching has been middle of the pack, but there’s also reason for optimism with the return of Matt Harvey next season and developing young arms in Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. Hot hitting Wilmer Flores has been ready for regular MLB at-bats for two years now, but is blocked by Ruben Tejada. Left Field also remains a sore spot for the team and is in some sort of 4-man merry-go-round.

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Lucas Duda: The Mets Most Pleasant Surprise in 2014 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/lucas-duda-the-mets-most-pleasant-surprise-in-2014.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/lucas-duda-the-mets-most-pleasant-surprise-in-2014.html/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:36:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161428 Nobody wanted Ike Davis patrolling the first base bag at Citi Field this year more than me. In several posts over the off-season I outlined my arguments why I believed that if the Mets chose to go within the organization at first base it made baseball sense that Davis was their man.

lucas duda home runRecent history with losing Beltran and Reyes and Dickey readied me to lose Ike as well. Making the sting more painful was the fact that I had watched Lucas Duda over long stints in Binghamton and I just didn’t believe he had the baseball skills or the internal compass to fill the first base void.

Based on the first half results of 2014, it’s looking more and more like I’m due a healthy serving of ‘crow.’

There can be no argument Lucas Duda for the Mets has outplayed Ike Davis for the Pirates. And, although Davis seems stuck in first gear in Pittsburgh, Duda seems to be growing in confidence in his unchallenged role as the Met first baseman. From what I understand, crow is a foul tasting bird. It always makes one queasy admitting that strong felt beliefs just may have been wrong, but my serving of crow will only leave a tinge of aftertaste should Duda continue his solid play at first base for the Mets.

After initially, starting very slowly at the plate, Duda has recently settled in. The Met first baseman is tied with Curtis Granderson for the most home runs on the team with 14, leads the team with 49 runs batted in, leads the regular position players with a .356 on-base-percentage and has the highest slugging percentage among all of the Met regulars.

Going into this series against the Mariners, Duda has reached base safely in 20 of his last 22 games, hitting .307 (23-75) during that span with a .409 on-base percentage. He has been very adept at driving in runs this season, and is seventh in the NL with an RBI every 5.9 at-bats.

In addition Duda has been surprisingly nimble around the first base bag.

That produces an output that was totally unexpected by me, thus my ‘crow dinner’ and Lucas Duda’s designation as the New York Mets most pleasant surprise in the first half of the 2014 baseball season.

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Will The Real New York Mets Please Stand Up http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/will-the-real-new-york-mets-please-stand-up.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/will-the-real-new-york-mets-please-stand-up.html/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:00:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161360 curtis granderson jacob degrom

Flashback to July 13th, 2014. The Mets have just defeated the Miami Marlins 9-1, with an outstanding pitching performance from Jacob deGrom. This win was important, because it completed the sweep of one of our division rivals, as well as placing us in third place in the National League Eastern division, and only seven games out of first place with a 45-50 record.

Now, that may seem very underwhelming, and many fans would even scoff at the suggestion that the Mets were still in the thick of it, maybe adding something along the lines of “Keep on dreaming, kid.”

From a very young age, my entire life as a Mets fan has consisted of dreaming. Dreaming of what could have been, and dreaming of a future when the Mets would one day dominate the league.

From the very beginning of my Mets journey, the slogan “You gotta believe!” has been so ingrained in my mind.

After a homestand that saw the Mets go 8-2, and taking six out of seven from division rivals leading into the All-Star break, the whole vibe of the team had changed. The Mets were waving their towels, and scoring runs, and playing like a real Major League team for the first time in what seems like an eternity.

The starting pitching has been good all year. The bullpen has worked out its kinks. The hitters were actually hitting… “Hey, maybe this team isn’t so bad after all. You gotta believe!” I thought to myself.

However, I still had this troubling little thought in the back of my head, as Daniel Murphy headed off to Minnesota and the rest of the team returned to their homes for a short four-day break, “Oh no. Not the All-Star break.”

Now if you’re a Mets fan, you very well know that over the last several years, the second half of the season is usually when things go downhill and terribly wrong for the Amazin’s.

For example, after going 48-40 heading into the All-Star break in 2010, the Mets fell apart and ended up finishing the season with a 79-83 record, going 11-43 the rest of the way.

Then 2011 saw the Mets heading into the All-Star break at 46-45. They would go 31-40 in the second half, finishing with a 77-85 record, good for fourth place in the East.

2012 wouldn’t be much different, as the Mets went into the All-Star break with a 46-40 record. They would finish with a 74-88 record.

Could this weekend be the start of another one of those dreaded second-half swoons? Even with the Mets finishing with a bang in the first half and meshing so well together… And even though they were playing  winning baseball, if only for a couple of weeks, and being as fun and exciting to watch as they have been in a long time, are we in store for some all too familiar second half heartbreak?

The Mets got off on the right foot in the first game back, as Travis d’Arnaud picked up right where he left off, hitting the ball hard all game and being the difference maker in the team’s defeat of the Padres. to open the weekend series. A brief sigh of relief.

However, we would go on to lose the next two games, score a grand total of one run over the span of eighteen innings, and almost got no-hit along the way. The exciting Mets we were just starting to get used to, were suddenly showing shades of their old ways. Even some of their most optimistic fans were veering back into depression-mode after their dismal offensive and defensive performances on Saturday and Sunday.

Was the lackluster team we saw for the first 80 games of this season the real New York Mets? Or were the real Mets that confident and exciting team we saw during the last homestand?

It begs the question: Will the real New York Mets please stand up?

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Featured Post: Wright Says It’s Time For Mets To Start Adding Pieces http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/featured-post-wright-says-its-time-for-mets-to-start-adding-pieces.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/featured-post-wright-says-its-time-for-mets-to-start-adding-pieces.html/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:59:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161168 David Wright

On Friday night, Sandy Alderson told reporters he was optimistic about his team’s chances in the second half which began with a win against the Padres in San Diego.

“Sometimes you gotta believe, right?” Alderson asked before the game. “This is a time.”

With 66 games remaining in the season and the team in third place and gaining traction, Sandy likes our odds.

“Somebody says we have a 3 percent chance. You ask the guys on the field they probably think we have a little bit better chance than that,” Alderson said. “We’ve got 67 games. I know the math. We’ve got to play well and play well starting this road trip and pretty much straight through.”

So will Sandy do anything to increase the Mets chances at the deadline, or will it be stand pat and watch the team sink or swim?

David Wright seems to have his own opinion on what his general manager should do, after lamenting last week that he still believed in “the plan” but never expected it to take this long.

After five straight losing seasons and the realization that his prime years are closing in on him pretty fast, the Mets captain wants to see the front office stand up and deliver.

“When you get to the point you feel like you’re close, which I think we’re very close, then you go out and you add a piece here, you add a piece there, whether it’s through free agency, whether it’s through trades. And I think we are at the point.”

Wright said he could have jumped ship when things weren’t going so good rather than sign a longterm deal with the Mets, but Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson convinced him the team was at a transition point and about to improve. He was so taken in by the vision painted by Wilpon and Alderson, that he even gave them an interest-free $15 million dollar loan to help expedite the process.

The former All Star third baseman admitted that his agents cautioned him about remaining with the Mets rather than exploring other opportunities. “If they had it their way, I would have probably tested the market, no question, because their job is obviously the financial terms,” Wright said.

Still, Wright says he misses what it was like when the Mets were playing winning baseball and said his favorite memories are still reserved for the 2006-2008 seasons.

“There are just so many things,” Wright said. “Obviously you have the clinching game where we broke the Braves’ streak. The celebration on the field. The flight from L.A. after we swept L.A. (in the NLDS). And even the next series against the Cardinals, when we fell short. And, as much as it sucks in 2007 and 2008, being right in the thick of things down to the wire, it’s just tough to explain the feeling of coming to the ballpark every day knowing the importance of the game.”

I’m not so sure that Wright will get his wish. On Thursday Forbes reported that Mets home attendance was down for the fifth straight season and while Alderson keeps saying he has the capacity to add payroll, nobody really believes he can.

I feel bad for Wright who has given and done so much for this franchise. It’s now ten years in the major leagues for him and that’s when your body starts to remind you that you’re not 24 years old anymore. You feel every ache and pain, every bump and bruise. He’s probably assessing his situation and realizes the clock is ticking. But if Wright wants to get back to 2006, he needs to pick up the pace and do some of the heavy lifting. My guess is that no help is on the way.

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MMO First Half Report Cards: No Straight A’s, But Plenty Of High Marks http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-1st-half-grades.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-1st-half-grades.html/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=161282 mets - logo

With the All-Star Break behind us, we’re officially into the 2nd half of the 2014 MLB season. Over the break, I opened up a roundtable and invited some other MMO writers to chime in with their grades. How did the Mets do on their first-term report card? Keep reading to find out!

INFIELDERS

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Lucas Duda, 1B: Duda won the 1st base competition over Ike Davis, leading to the trade of the latter to the Pirates. Lucas has been hitting pretty well, getting on base at a nice clip, and has shown off his power this season. He also plays a capable 1st base, a far cry from the debilitating defense we saw from him in the outfield earlier in his career. – Tommy R.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Murphy has been the Mets’ most consistent hitter this season. His hot streaks last for weeks and his cold “streaks” only seem to plague him for a couple games. His defense is better than it used to be, but the slip-ups still come a bit too often, and he doesn’t hit for much power either. Overall, however, it has been a very nice season for Murphy. - Tommy R .

Ruben Tejada, SS: Tejada got off to a slow start this season after having a miserable 2013. However, Tejada has turned it on as of late, and is starting to look like 2011-2012 Ruben Tejada again. – Rob P.

david wright swings

David Wright, 3B: David hasn’t played up to his usual standards so far this season, but then again, those standards are very high. Wright has had a pretty solid last year, and 95% of the league would gladly take the numbers he has at this point. He is starting to pick it up a bit lately, and the power seems to be returning, so while it’s disappointing not to be getting an “A+” season out of the captain thus far, David probably deserves a bit more credit than he’s been getting. – Tommy R.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: As Rob’s grade reflects, it has been a tale of two seasons thus far for TDA.  However, the first stretch, the part where he struggled mightily, took place over a much larger number of games than his hot streak has. Travis has really picked it up since getting demoted and recalled, and he’s starting to show why he has been traded for 2 different Cy Young winners. I always said it was foolish to give up on Travis, or any big prospect, so early. He’s starting to make me look right. But a few good weeks can’t fully erase his dreadful start, so it’s hard for me to give Travis a very good grade. – Tommy R.

Anthony Recker, C: Recker is a fine backup catcher, but that’s all he will ever be. He will park a few over the wall and isn’t a defensive liability. I expect him to perform about the same as he did in the second half that he did in the first. – Rob P.

Eric Campbell, 1B: Campbell has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets this year. He always seems to perform when we need him to, whether it be the occasional start or coming off the bench. Gotta love Soup! - Rob P.

Wilmer Flores, SS: The kid is so young, and Terry Collins has used him about as often as he has rested Carlos Torres. We have seen his offensive skill set so far in the minors, but it hasn’t translated to the majors. Maybe he hasn’t been challenged a lot defensively but I haven’t seen a crazy awful fielder like scouts have said. Yes he doesn’t have much range and will take some improvement. But Murph has come a long way and I would argue that Flores looks less clumsy in the field then Murph. - Avery D.

OUTFIELDERS

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Curtis Granderson, RF: Grandy got off to a miserable start this season and Jason Bay-related nightmares haunted all of our dreams for about a month and a half. In May, Curtis started picking it up, making solid contact, showing better pitch selection, and driving the ball with authority. But games in April count too, and Curtis still falls into occasional slumps. A “B” is all I’m giving him for now, but I expect him to outperform that grade going forward. – Tommy R.

Juan Lagares, CF: Anybody who has read my recaps and articles this year knows I love to sing Lagares’ praises. Lagares has solid speed and a golden glove (I fully expect to be able to write “golden” with a capital “G” at year’s end). When he isn’t hitting, he is still a guy you can run out there. Fortunately, the bat hasn’t been a problem this year. He came out of the gate red-hot before landing on the DL, then returned and started hitting again before suffering another injury. Juan is back once more, and while he is no longer red-hot with the bat, it looks like he has developed into a pretty good hitter who will have his ups and downs at the plate. And as long as he keeps up the excellent work in center, I can live with that. – Tommy R.

Eric Young, LF: Yes, Young is fast. Yes, he is the reigning Stolen Base Champion. Yes, he makes the occasional outstanding catch in the outfield. He’s also hitting an underwhelming .236/.316/.310. I’m sure he will be dangled to other teams at the trade deadline, if not, he needs to be a fourth outfielder/pinch runner for us off the bench going forward. – Rob P.

Chris Young, LF:  Don’t worry Chris, I won’t be too hard on you. You won’t get an “F” from me. Instead, I will blame the front office. We all knew that your best years were behind you and the Mets put you in a position where you would be demanded to perform in a starting role. I’m sorry Chris. You seem like a great guy. – Avery D.

That 7.5 million dollar contract is looking like more and more of a mistake as each day passes. Young has hit the occasional home run for us in the first half, but he’s hovered around the Mendoza line all year and has a .287 OBP. I don’t see him getting traded at the deadline because no one will want to take on that ridiculous contract. It’s not worth keeping him on the bench for that kind of money either. There’s nothing Young does that Kirk Nieuwenhuis can’t do, and do much better. – Rob P.

The fact that you’re not Nelson Cruz will always hang like an albatross around your neck, in my eyes. Sorry, Chris. – Tommy R.

Bobby Abreu, RF: -Not much to say about Abreu, he’s been good enough for us at his age, and is a fourth/fifth outfielder at this point. Don’t see him being any better in the second half than he was in the first, and that’s not a terrible thing. – Rob P.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF: Kirk has been solid for the Mets this year, but because he has spent so little time on the Major League club, it’s hard for me to give him a grade in the “A” range. Still he has a great glove, nice speed, and a decent bat with some pop. He could run away with the 3rd outfield job in the 2nd half. – Tommy R.

STARTING PITCHING 

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Jon Niese: Niese has been fantastic this year, and if not for a brief stint on the DL, I would give him an “A” and argue that he deserved a spot on the All-Star team. Jon has really stepped up in Matt Harvey’s absence, and will hopefully anchor the rotation for the rest of the way. – Tommy R.

Dillon Gee: Gee was off to a great start to the year after a strong campaign last season, but missed 2 months with what originally was expected to be a 2 week injury. Dillon’s work on the mound has been worthy of at least an “A-”, but he hasn’t spent enough time on the mound to garner that high of a grade, in my opinion. Anyway, now that he is back, he gives the Mets another solid arm at the top of their rotation. – Tommy R.

zack wheeler

Zack Wheeler: Matt Harvey spoiled us last year, so a lot of us were really looking for Wheeler to come out and dominate the league this season. That hasn’t happened, but Zack has still been pretty good. When he is getting ahead in the count, he is fantastic. When he falls behind the opposing hitters, he gets himself into trouble. Wheeler has the stuff to be a great pitcher, so the only question is his command. It looks like he’s starting to figure it out, so let’s see if he can bump this grade up before year’s end. – Tommy R.

Bartolo Colon: Bartolo’s win-loss record is hampered by the fact that he is a Met, and his ERA is hampered by the fact that, despite being pretty solid nearly every time he takes the mound, he has had a few absolutely horrendous starts that really put a blemish on his stat line. Still, Bartolo has given us several good starts, a lot of innings, and, of course, a ton of laughs. The Mets will likely receive many offers for the big fella as the trade deadline approaches, so he might not be here in a couple weeks. Still, Colon has been pretty solid, albeit not great; a classic “B” performance in my book. – Tommy R.

Jacob deGrom: DeGrom has been maybe the single most pleasant surprise for the Mets in the 2014 season. Jacob’s 3-5 record doesn’t do him any justice, as he should have several more wins, but has been a victim of poor offense. In 10 of his 12 starts, deGrom has allowed 3 or fewer runs, and is pitching to a 3.18 ERA on the season. deGrom will most likely remain the rotation when Niese returns from the disabled list, so I’m excited to see what Jacob can do from here on out. – Rob P.

Daisuke Matsuzaka:  Dice-K, you haven’t been spectacular. But you do everything and anything the Mets ask of you. You go to AAA, you come out of the pen, you close games, you start games. Not to mention, you stay healthy. No complaints here. - Avery D.

RELIEF PITCHERS

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Carlos Torres: Torres has done everything we have asked of him this year. He owns a 4-4 record and 2.88 ERA over a span of 43 games. Torres is the kind of guy every team needs and has been quality for us since he joined us last season. I hope Terry doesn’t blow his arm out, however. - Rob P.

Jenrry Mejia: Our starter-turned-closer Mejia has learned to enjoy his new role on the Mets and has been a nice replacement to the injured Bobby Parnell. Mejia has ten saves in twelve chances, and will look to add on to his success as our closer in the second half. – Rob P.

Jeurys Familia: I’ll take Familia’s 2.06 ERA any day of the week. He still lacks control at times, but he’s still so young and will only get better over time. – Rob P.

Vic Black: Black had the set-up role locked up going into 2014 and pitched himself out of a spot on the roster during the spring. Since being called up, however, Vic has been solid, and his strong performance, along with that of Dilson Herrera in the minors, makes the Marlon Byrd trade look better and better each day. If Black can keep working on his control, he can be a major piece in this bullpen. – Tommy R.

Josh Edgin: Coming into the year, I thought Josh Edgin was a bum. But it’s hard to argue with a 1.76 ERA, and Josh has performed to this high standard equally well against both lefties and righties. However, Terry Collins still mostly uses him as a LOOGY, and Edgin averages far less than an inning per outing, so I can’t put him in the “A” range just yet. – Tommy R.

Gonzalez Germen: Germen had an absolutely ridiculous start to the season, but then started to struggle, got hurt, and was ineffective upon his return. Gonzalez is now in the minors, and might not be back too soon. – Tommy R.

Dana Eveland:  The second lefty out of the ‘pen has also been good for us so far. I’ll take his 2.63 ERA. He’s only pitched in 13 games so far, so let’s see what he’s got when being exposed a bit more. – Rob P.

METS BRASS

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Terry Collins, Manager: I’m not a big fan of Collins. I don’t particularly like how he manages the team during games. But you can only pin so much on a manager, and the team seems to play hard for him, if not always well. – Tommy R.

Sandy Alderson, General Manager: So how exactly do we grade the GM during the season? By looking at how his acquisitions have fared? Does the performance of a prospect he acquired back in 2011 have an impact on his grade in 2014? I’m not exactly sure. Anyway, I’m not a huge Alderson fan, as I think he lets far too many opportunities go by the wayside, but most of his moves (at least the ones that aren’t “flyers”) seem good, and it’s not like the Wilpons have given him the appropriate resources, so it’s hard to grade him too harshly. Alderson gets a C for his seemingly passive approach, but to give him a lower mark would be unjust, in my opinion. – Tommy R.

The Wilpons, Owners: Many Mets fans think that the team’s struggles begin and end with the Wilpon Family. My brother, who doesn’t watch baseball, noted how much of a shame it is that the Wilpons are in enough of a financial bind that they are unable to spend freely on the team, but aren’t in enough of a pinch that they have to sell the team. Sometimes, it feels like we are in limbo… permanent limbo. Still, teams have won with payrolls equal to or lower than the one the Mets currently have, so giving the Owners an “F” because the team doesn’t win very much isn’t something I’m prepared to do. They won’t earn anything much higher though, at least not out of me. – Tommy R.

TEAM UNITS

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Offense: Our offense has been middle-of-the-pack in terms of getting on base and scoring runs. But beware: those numbers are skewed by the occasional huge game at the plate. There have been far too many games where the bats have been completely impotent and the valiant efforts of our pitchers have gone to waste. Consistency is a must at the plate, and while the offense has been better of late, it hasn’t been consistent enough this season to earn a very high grade. – Tommy R.

Starting Pitching: We all knew that our rotation would be our main strength going into the season, and there have been no surprises on that part. Niese has been great, Gee has been great when healthy, deGrom has been great, Colon has been pretty steady, and Wheeler looks like he’s going to really turn a corner before too long. Matsuzaka has been solid when called into duty. I miss Harvey, and I hope Noah Syndergaard can pick it up in AAA and get his electric arm up to Flushing before too long, but I have no real complaints about the pitching thus far. – Tommy R.

jenrry mejia

Bullpen: Our bullpen looked weak coming into the year and things got even worse when Bobby Parnell’s season ended after just 1 game. However, Torres and the young guys like Mejia, Familia, Edgin, and Black have really stepped up to make this bullpen respectable, albeit still a bit more shaky than you’d like. Good teams usually need good bullpens, and while our pen isn’t great, it’s not the main culprit for our sub-500 record. – Tommy R.

Bench: The bench has been pretty disappointing in general this season, although some of the reserves have had their moments. Eric Campbell’s efforts salvage this unit from the “D” range. – Tommy R.

Defense: The defense has been decent, but nothing more. We have some solid speed in the outfield, which helps keep the number of extra-base hits down, but the fundamentals haven’t been pretty. How many times have our infielders failed to turn an easy double-play? I don’t even want to know the answer to that. – Tommy R.

Overall: The Mets have been alright this year. Alright, but not good. Mediocre, you could say. However, they are red-hot right now, and are slowly climbing back into the picture. If they can keep it up, maybe they can make this an exciting season. If not, it’s not like we have been trained to expect more, lately…

There have been some ups and downs this season. Let’s hope the Mets can make this a special year as we head into the second half! - Tommy R.

ya gotta belive gfx mr. met

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The Braves Retool Blueprint http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/the-braves-retool-blueprint.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/the-braves-retool-blueprint.html/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:02:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160887 atlanta-braves-1995

Of Mikes and Men, the autobiography of Atlanta Braves long time and beloved broadcaster Pete Van Wieren is a fascinating read. Van Wieren grew up in upstate New York and cut his teeth as a baseball broadcaster in Binghamton covering the play-by-play for the Triplets. In fact, a few summers back I sat in the stands at NYSEG Stadium as Pete Van Wieren was inducted into Binghamton’s Baseball Shrine. Like every baseball broadcaster who works for the same franchise for several decades, Pete Van Wieren is a baseball historian, a curator of the Atlanta Braves baseball past.

Of course any tome addressing the history of the Atlanta Braves is historically interwoven with our New York Mets. As I dove deeper and deeper into Van Wieren’s work, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the early Braves and the current status of our Mets.

The Braves have been positioned as a National League power for so long, it’s easy to forget that at one time they were an abysmal baseball mess. In Van Wieren’s first 15 seasons manning the mike in Atlanta the Braves had just three winning campaigns and finished in last place eight different times.

Things began to change for the Braves when they rehired former manager Bobby Cox to be their General Manager. Cox had skippered the American League’s Toronto Blue Jays to a 99 win 1985 season before rejoining the Braves. And, Cox was blunt about the retooling task that faced him in Atlanta telling everyone who would listen it would take five years to reshape the Braves organization. As Van Wieren emphasizes, Cox was right.

And, ironically during those 5 building years, Cox was unable to field a quality Braves baseball product on the field at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. What he did do was build a foundation that would help shoulder 14 consecutive division winning baseball seasons, seasons he would enjoy from the Braves dugout after he was moved down from the front office to take the reins of the Atlanta team as manager.

Bobby-CoxIn some ways, Cox’s strategy closely resembles the Sandy Alderson game plan put into place in Flushing to retool the Mets. Cox understood if the Braves were to become successful they needed to overhaul their player development system to establish a pipeline to bring quality young baseball talent through the Atlanta farm system to the major leagues. Sound familiar?

According to Van Wieren, Cox immediately added minor league affiliates and hired more minor league coaches and baseball instructors. The size of the Atlanta scouting team grew proportionately and trades were made with an eye on the future with Cox moving established major league pieces on the Braves roster for talent he believed would be part of a brighter Atlanta baseball future.

Of course, the most significant of those moves came when Cox sent an aging, 36-year old Doyle Alexander to help the Tigers chase a pennant for low level minor league prospect John Smoltz. Lesser productive trades during that 5 year retool brought guys like Lonnie Smith, Francisco Cabrera and Charlie Leibrandt, all players who would factor into the early Brave renaissance when things shifted in a positive direction in the early 1990’s.

In some ways, I saw a lot of Sandy Alderson in Van Wieren’s description of Bobby Cox’s years as the Braves GM, the building block years of Atlanta’s baseball reawakening. Yet, it wasn’t until Cox moved back to the dugout and Atlanta brought John Schuerholz from Kansas City as the team’s new GM that the Braves employed the daring and risk taking to fit all the pieces together into a championship baseball product.

Schuerholz was wildly busy in his first off-season as the Braves GM. The new Braves boss understood much of the heavy lifting had been done by Cox and the Braves farm system was packed full of promising home grown talent. He also understood, it was imperative to use some of that talent to leverage trades as well as to be active in the free agent market to bring in vital pieces to anchor a Braves championship run. Significant Schuerholz moves brought Terry Pendleton from St. Louis and Sid Bream and Rafael Belliard from Pittsburgh.

Appreciating the value speed adds to a roster, Schuerholz also signed Deion Sanders and moved two minor leaguers to Montreal to pick up Otis Nixon. The new GM found Juan Berenguer, ‘Senior Smoke,’ who saved 17 games out of the pen for the championship 91 Braves.

Pendleton would become the National League’s MVP in Schuerholz’s maiden season as the Braves GM. Nixon would set a club record with 72 stolen bases. More importantly, the Braves would finish first in the NL’s Eastern Division beginning an incredible 14-year run. And, attendance at Fulton County Stadium exploded growing from 980,129 in 1990 to 2,140, 217 in 1991 then surging to just under 4 million the following summer.

Bringing winning baseball to Atlanta and bringing the fans to the Stadium locked in a revenue line that allowed Schuerholz the flexibility to strategically wheel and deal to keep the post season train in motion. Never complacent, Schuerholz signed ’92 Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux before the 1993 season. Maddux would go on to win the Cy Young award in each of his first three seasons in Atlanta.

Even with Maddux leading a star studded pitching staff, Schuerholz feared the Braves roster might not have enough to repeat in ’93. On July 18 with the Braves at 54-41 but still 8 games behind San Francisco (63-32), Schuerholz pulled the trigger on a pennant shaping move, sending three minor leaguers to the Padres for ‘The Crime Dog,’ Fred McGriff. With McGriff pounding 19 HR’s, knocking home 55 runs and with a slash line of .310/.392/.612, the Braves caught the Giants and moved to the post season once again. Of course, that pattern of strategic decision making was repeated over and over again much to the distress of all New York Met fans.

But, it’s exactly that daring, insightful and bold decision making that, so far, is missing from the Met rebuilding blueprint. Like Bobby Cox, Sandy Alderson has laid a solid minor league foundation, a pipeline to add important roster pieces in Citi Field for some time to go. But, like John Schuerholz, will Sandy take the next step; bold and brass free agent signings sprinkled with the strategic trades that see the Mets rise to the next level, post season baseball play? We’ll see.

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David Wright Takes Night Shift As Barber http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/david-wright-takes-night-shift-as-barber.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/david-wright-takes-night-shift-as-barber.html/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:39:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160664 degrom

In an article on ESPN.com, Adam Rubin noted a funny incident that happened in the Mets clubhouse on Sunday. Apparently Jacob deGrom hit a ball while taking batting practice that just missed hitting David Wright who was stretching on the field.

As payback, the Mets captain snuck up on deGrom with a pair of scissors and cut a lock of his long flowing hair. He then took the flow of hair and stuck it on a poster of deGrom that hangs in the clubhouse. Apparently deGrom had given Wright permission, but Wright still felt the need to be ‘sneaky’.

hairwego

The poster, which features an outline of deGrom’s head and hair with the phrase #HAIRWEGO was placed in between lockers in the clubhouse. It was created by the Mets’ social media team and has been used as a promotional graphic.

This homestand has provided fans with more positive vibes and fun than we’ve had in a long while and it’s great to see that reflected in the players as well. A team that wins is a team that is having fun and it’s great for team chemistry. Let’s see the team carry it into the second half.

In the meantime, let’s root on Daniel Murphy in Minnesota this week. It’s been a lot fun to be a fan of the orange and blue in recent weeks!

mmo always believe

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 9 , Marlins 1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-game-recap-mets-9-marlins-1.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mmo-game-recap-mets-9-marlins-1.html/#comments Sun, 13 Jul 2014 20:58:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160642 jacob degrom

The very hot New York Mets (45-50) were looking for the series sweep against the Miami Marlins (44-50) this afternoon at Citi Field, with Jacob deGrom facing off against Brad Hand.

What you should know:

Jacob deGrom was impressive yet again for New York, as he would pitch seven strong innings, allowing only one run on five hits, while walking two and striking out eight.

Brad Hand would last only four innings for Miami as he would allow three runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out only one.

chris young

Chris Young would drive in the first run for New York in the bottom of the second inning with a sacrifice fly to center to score Lucas Duda.

The Marlins would get on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth on a Marcell Ozuna infield single that would score Casey McGehee.

The game wouldn’t stay tied for long, as Jacob deGrom helped his own cause and earning his first career RBI, driving a ball up the middle to score Chris Young.

Later in the inning, Curtis Granderson would hit a ground rule double to shallow left field to score deGrom, making it 3-1 Mets.

The Mets would add on to their lead in the bottom of the fifth as Juan Lagares hit a deep fly ball to center field that would score David Wright.

David Wright would drive in a run of his own in the bottom of the sixth as he drove in Curtis Granderson with a double to left field, making it 5-1 New York.

The Mets would then blow the game open in the bottom of the eighth, as David Wright walked with the bases loaded, and Lucas Duda, Chris Young and Anthony Recker each drove in a run, putting the nail in the coffin, and now making it 9-1 Mets.

The Mets are now 25-23 at home on the season, have won 8 of their last 10 games, and won each series on the homestand leading into the All-Star break. They are also now in sole possession of third place in the National League Eastern Division with the win over Miami today.

Buddy Carlyle came on the in the top of the ninth, setting down the Marlins 1, 2, 3.

Final score: Mets 9, Marlins 1

Winning pitcher: Jacob deGrom (3-5)
Losing pitcher: Brad Hand (0-2)

Player of the Game:

Today’s Player of the Game goes to New York Mets’ starting pitcher Jacob deGrom would put in another solid outing today, striking out eight Marlins hitters over seven innings and only allowing one run (and driving in one of his own!) And earning the win. deGrom has done nothing but impress since he has come up in May. I look forward to seeing what Jacob can do the second half of the campaign.

juan lagares

Thoughts:

Everything is clicking for the Mets right now. It’s a shame that we have to go into the All-Star break at this point after winning eight of our last ten games. The team is having fun right now and it’s showing, as their pitching has stayed fantastic and the offense is firing from all cylinders. Though they have four days off before their series in San Diego starting on Friday, let’s hope the momentum carries into the second half. The feeling in the clubhouse right now is great, and it looks like everything is coming together. The Mets are only 6.5 games back, and no one is running away with the division. As long as we take it game by game and keep producing, who knows what can happen? Let’s go Mets and let’s keep on keeping on!

On another note, great luck to Daniel Murphy who will be representing the Mets for the National League this Tuesday night in Minnesota!!

On deck:

The Mets have off the next four days due to the All-Star break, but will get back into action Friday night in San Diego with Bartolo Colon (8-8, 3.99 ERA) slated to pitch for the Amazin’s.

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Dillon Gee: “I felt like I was making my debut all over again.” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/dillon-gee-i-felt-like-i-was-making-my-debut-all-over-again.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/dillon-gee-i-felt-like-i-was-making-my-debut-all-over-again.html/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:32:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160454 dillon gee

What a performance by right-hander Dillon Gee on Wednesday night in his return to the rotation after missing nearly two months to a strained right lat.

Gee stymied the Atlanta Braves for seven innings, holding them to one run on six hits while walking one and striking out four.

“I felt like I was making my debut all over again,” Gee said.

Gee hit the ground running, facing the minimum 15 batters through his first five innings. A single by Tommy La Stella was wiped out by a double play, while a walk to B.J. Upton was erased after he was caught stealing.

“He was sailing along about as good as you can possibly do. He made pitch after pitch,” Collins said. “That’s the Dillon Gee we have known to love.”

Gee pitched into the eighth, but was pulled after the Braves put runners on first and second with no outs after a pair of singles. He was on a 95 pitch limit, but needed only 88 pitches on the night.

The significance of that was not lost on reliever Vic Black. ”Incredible. We assumed he was on a pitch count, but then it was, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the sixth inning already and we haven’t moved. Awesome. Absolutely awesome.”

Gee’s strong performance led to a 4-1 Mets victory and the Mets are now in good position to complete a 4-game sweep against their division rivals.

“I’ve been gone so long,” said Gee about the feeling in the clubhouse. “I don’t know what they were going through. I just know it’s nice now. I know we’re expecting to win.”

So the Mets Opening Day starter returns and picks up right where he left off, winning his fourth game of the season and lowering his ERA to 2.56 in nine starts this season.

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With d’Arnaud Heating Up and Plawecki Almost Ready, Will Mets Make A Play For Starlin Castro? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/with-darnaud-heating-up-and-plawecki-almost-ready-will-mets-make-a-play-for-starlin-castro.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/with-darnaud-heating-up-and-plawecki-almost-ready-will-mets-make-a-play-for-starlin-castro.html/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 16:23:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160046 MLB: Texas Rangers at New York Mets

Travis d’Arnaud may have had his coming-out party for the Mets on Friday night, when he drove a two-run double into the gap to snap an eighth-inning tie that led to a 6-5 4th of July victory over the Rangers.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Mets and showcased what has been a much more confident d’Arnaud at the plate.

“It felt really good,” d’Arnaud said after the game. “It’s a big win for us to start the homestand.”

The top ranked catching prospect heading into this season, credits a back-to-basics approach for his turnaround and clearing his head of all the noise and advice he’s been collecting since his joining the big-league team.

“Just keep things simple. Not overthink my mechanics or overthink anything, have one thought in my head at the plate and that’s it.”

D’Arnaud has now hit in eight of nine games since being recalled from Triple-A, batting .319 (10-for-33) with three doubles, one home run and six RBIs during that span.

“He’s a very confident kid,” said Collins of d’Arnaud. “I know that he’s been swinging pretty good. Tonight he had his chance to help us big time, and he did.”

With Kevin Plawecki coming on strong in the minors, the Mets may ultimately decide to flip one of them to fill another area of need, perhaps the shortstop position.

starlin castro

After last night’s blockbuster trade, the Chicago Cubs are now stacked with several high-upside shortstops, and they may be the perfect partner for a deal that could land the Mets Starlin Castro - who is as talented as they come but has sometimes rubbed the Cubs the wrong way.

Castro is batting .290 and leads all major league shortstops with 26 doubles. He has 11 home runs this season and his 50 RBIs rank second among all shortstops. in 335 at-bats he’s boasting an .807 OPS which ranks third among major league shortstops.

A two-time All Star already, the 24-year old is at the top of the food chain among shortstops who may be available this month. But a talent like that will be prized by many teams and not just the Mets, and he won’t come cheap. His contract calls for a very team friendly $48 million over 6 years with a club option for 2020.

However they dice to do it, the Mets need to find a way to add an impact bat to their lineup which is laden with far too many Quad-A type talents, waiver wire pickups, and reclamation projects. Players like Castro are not often made available by most teams – who usually lock players like this up.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.

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The Mazzilli’s and the Mets Time Machine http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/the-mazzillis-and-the-mets-time-machine.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/the-mazzillis-and-the-mets-time-machine.html/#comments Sat, 05 Jul 2014 12:56:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=159900 lee-mazzilli

Flashback: Mazzilli Stars For Amazins!

Climb aboard Petey’s Mets Time Machine. As we travel back in time to the year 1976. The day was the 7th of September, when a 21-year-old center fielder made his MLB debut for the New York Mets.

When the Mets drafted a high school player by the name of Lee Mazzilli with the 14th overall pick in the 1973 amateur draft, he was an instant sensation.

For one thing he was one of the top prep players in the country that year. An excellent athlete and the son of a welterweight boxer, young Mazzilli had already made a name for himself as a high school speed skating champion. He was a local kid who came from Brooklyn, and the girls thought he was hot.

He was also truly ambidextrous from birth and was a natural switch-hitter from a very early age. As a matter of fact he not only hit from both sides, but he threw from both sides as well. He used to alternate between throwing left-handed and throwing right-handed in games from his post in center field, sometimes switching from inning to inning.

The Mets brought in a mentor to work with Mazzilli while he was in the minors with the idea of polishing his outfield skills. The temporary outfield coach was a guy by the name of Willie Mays who immediately told Mazzilli to ditch one of the gloves and concentrate on throwing right-handed only.

A young Mazzilli with HOFers Joe Torre and Willie Mays

A young Mazzilli with Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Willie Mays

On June 8th, 1975, Mazz set a California League record (believed to be a professional record) when he stole seven bases in a single game against San Jose while playing for the Mets’ Visalia farm club.

He broke into the bigs for a cup-of-coffee in September 1976 for the Mets getting 93 plate appearances in 24 games, and hitting .195 with two homers, seven RBI’s and five stolen bases.

Assuming the starting job in center for the 1977 season, Mazzilli began to garnish over 600 plate appearances for each of the next four seasons for the Mets. He showed steady development in his on-the-job training hitting .250 in 1977, and then .273 in 1978.

His breakout season came in 1979 when he put up a slash-line of .303/.395/.449 in 693 plate appearances with 15 home runs, 79 RBI’s and 34 stolen bases.

He was naturally the Mets representative at the All-Star Game that year, actually he was the only decent major league player the Mets had on their roster that season, unless of course you want to count the unforgettable Craig Swan. Hmmmm, does this sound vaguely familiar?

The 1979 MLB All-Star Game was a come-from-behind thriller for the National League squad and fans of the Amazins would experience the kind of pride rarely felt after a mid-season classic. It began when the Mets’ lone player on the NL roster, Lee Mazzilli, stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning with the National Leaguers trailing 6-5. He proceeded to belt a game-tying opposite field home run knotting the score at six apiece, but he wasn’t finished yet.

Batting for the second time, in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, he drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in the winning run in a 7-6 victory. Inexplicably he was denied the MVP honor for the game which went to right-fielder Dave Parker of the Pirates who nailed two would-be runs at the plate with the score tied, in what was quite an impressive display of his rocket launcher throwing-arm. But Mazzilli being snubbed for the award despite his contribution was definitely a sucker punch to Mets Nation. Hmmm, does that sound vaguely familiar?

The following season, 1980 was perhaps Mazzilli’s best year as a Met. In 668 plate appearances he slashed .280/.370/.431, with 82 runs, 16 homers, 76 RBI’s and 41 stolen bases. The 1981 season however was ruined by a labor conflict that wiped out around a third of the season and really screwed up everything baseball-related big time.

Mazzilli had a poor season in ’81 as well hitting only .228 in 376 plate appearances that year and Mets GM Frank Cashen decided to take a chance by trading Mazzilli while his value was still up to the Texas Rangers on the eve of the 1982 season. It was probably a deal Cashen couldn’t refuse as the Rangers were dangling two young pitchers from the upper levels of their minor league system as trade bait, two youngsters named Ron Darling and Walt Terrell (who was later traded for Howard Johnson). Cashen realized that he had to trade his best commodity in order to fill multiple needs for the rebuilding process. Does this sound vaguely familiar?

Mazzilli struggled in Texas and was moved at the trade deadline to the Yankees in exchange for Bucky Dent. At the end of the season he was traded again, this time to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he played for three plus seasons as a part-time outfielder before being released in July of 1986.

Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Less than two weeks later he was brought back to Flushing by Cashen to give the team a veteran pinch-hitter down the stretch and in the post-season. Mazzilli would fill an important reserve role for the Mets, and fill it so well, that he remained with the club until the trade deadline during the 1989 season when he was claimed by Toronto off waivers. That would signal the end of his Mets career after two very productive stints.

And now it’s time to hop back into the time machine Mets fans as we leave our place in the distant past behind and launch ourselves forward to the following year! That’s right, we now shoot ahead to another day in early September, the 6th to be precise, but now the year is 1990.

On that day the Mazzilli’s welcomed a new baby boy into the world and named him Lee Jr. He would come to be known as LJ, and like his dad he became a fine ball player. Does this sound familiar?

Okay everybody back into the time machine! Now we jump ahead about 19 years. LJ took his skills to the University of Connecticut where the right-handed hitter played second base for three years. There he matured physically and now stands 6’1″ and weighs in at 190 lbs.

Now here we are once again traveling through time to June of 2013 when the Mets, like they did with LJ’s father, tabbed him in the MLB Amateur Player Draft, this time in the 4th round. A few seconds in the time machine bring us to Coney Island.

That’s where L.J. Mazzilli started his professional career as a 2013 Brooklyn Cyclone and got his feet wet with 273 plate appearances in 70 games. He slashed a modest .278/.329/.381 with four homers, 34 RBI’s and three stolen bases. We skip to the spring of 2014 when Mazzilli impressed the Mets during spring training with his level of development and polish, so he was challenged with the assignment of manning the keystone for the Savannah Sand Gnats at the start of this season.

A Chip Off The Old Block

A Chip Off The Old Block

Although the expectation was more than likely for him to remain at that level for an entire season, Mazzilli had other ideas. In the first half of the 2014 season Mazzilli had 250 plate appearances in the South Atlantic League and slashed his way to a .292/.363/.428 line with seven homers, 45 RBI’s, and 11 stolen bases.

This outstanding performance forced the Mets to promote Mazzilli to high-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League last month. Although much more advanced than the South Atlantic League, Mazzilli met the challenge of the FSL and hit the ground running.

In his first 50 something at-bats over 13 games, young Mazz is slashing a respectable .288/.339/.500. He’s got eight runs scored, five doubles, two dingers, nine RBI’s and a stolen base. Does this sound vaguely familiar?

The younger Mazzilli is a good contact hitter with gap power. He has a rather complete skill-set, but the only tool that plays above average is his very good speed, which will enable him to remain at second base as he advances.

So far we have only used my Time Machine to go back in time, now it’s time to go forward into the future. Strap in folks as our first stop will be another day in September, the 10th, in the year 2015. A Mets prospect will make his Major League debut on that day. He will be batting seventh in the order and playing second base for the home team at Citi Field. In the stands his proud father, a former big leaguer in his own right beams with pride.

Now back into the time machine one last time everyone, before we head home. This time it’s not September. This time it’s a Tuesday night in the middle of July. July in the year 2023.

It’s the MLB All-Star game being played in the brand new state-of-the-art ballpark in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fans around the world have been treated to a tense back-and-forth struggle between the Senior and Junior circuits. With the score tied at four apiece, the National League comes to bat in the bottom of the 14th inning. First up is a pinch hitter from the New York Mets by the name of LJ Mazzilli.

Back To The Future

Back To The Future

Like his father who played for the very same team, his father who was drafted by the Mets five decades earlier, his father who launched a game-tying home run in an All-Star Game some 44 years before and then won it an inning later with a walk-off walk. Like his father who is watching tensely from the stands, LJ Mazzilli sends an All-Star winning, game ending drive deep into the tropical summer night. National League 5, American League 4. And miracle of miracles, he even wins the game’s MVP Award! Is this sounding even vaguely familiar?

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Gee Feels Fine After Rehab Start, Cyclones Drop Rubber Game To Staten Island http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/dillon-gee-makes-rehab-start-cyclones-drop-rubber-game-to-staten-island.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/dillon-gee-makes-rehab-start-cyclones-drop-rubber-game-to-staten-island.html/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=159470 Dillon Gee warming up in the bullpen (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

Dillon Gee warming up in the bullpen (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

BROOKYLN, N.Y. – On Sunday afternoon at MCU Park in Coney Island, Mets’ starting pitcher Dillon Gee returned to his old stomping grounds as he made a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Gee settled in nicely after a rough first inning and tossed 2.2 innings, but he was tagged with the loss after giving up a run on four hits. He also walked one and struck out six.

The Cyclones (11-6) dropped the rubber game 5-4 Sunday against the Staten Island Yankees in the “Battle of the Bridge” series.

Gee threw 55 pitches – which was the exact number he was slated to throw – in addition to a 30-pitch warm-up session. He has been on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his right side since May 14.

This was Gee’s second rehab start, as he also started a game last Tuesday in the Gulf Coast League. In that outing, he pitched two scoreless innings and allowed only one hit with two strikeouts.

“I feel good right now, but the big test is always the next day. So hopefully everything goes the way that it’s been going, and hopefully I’ll be out there for the next one.”

It took Gee 24 pitches to get through the first inning Sunday. Yankees’ center fielder Daniel Lopez led off with a bloop double to right. Gee proceeded to walk right fielder Austin Aune before an RBI single up the middle by second baseman Ty McFarland on an 0-2 pitch up in the zone that gave the Yankees their only run off Gee.

He then gave up a single to Yankees’ catcher Isaias Tejeda before striking out two and getting a fielder’s choice grounder to end the inning.

Gee minimized the damage in the first inning, allowing only one run. (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

Gee minimized the damage in the first inning, allowing only one run. (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

“It took me a few batters that first inning to get under control,” Gee said. “I’m not going to lie, I had a little adrenaline going into this game. But I felt fine physically and that’s the goal.”

Gee’s second inning started with an error by Cyclones’ second baseman Anthony Chavez. Gee struck out the next batter but then gave up a single to Lopez before retiring the next two.

With 46 pitches through two innings, Gee returned for the top of the third and struck out both men he faced before being relieved by Josh Prevost. Of Gee’s 55 pitches, 36 went for strikes.

He said he would like to improve upon his fastball command in his next start, which the team will determine sometime after reevaluating him Monday to see how he feels.

“The change-up was pretty good, and the slider was actually pretty good,” Gee said. “The off-speed stuff was pretty good for the most part. I just have to get ahead of hitters better. No matter which level you’re at, you have to pitch ahead.”

At age 21, Gee was a member of the 2007 Brooklyn Cyclones. He was mostly a reliever until being called upon to make 11 starts later in the season. He finished that campaign 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA as a starter.

“It’s pretty special this being the place that I started,” he said. “It’s changed so much. It’s a great place to play, it’s a great place to start your pro career, and to come back and make a rehab start here was a lot of fun. It’s good to come back to the place where you start your career.”

Gee is the first Cyclone to be named an Opening Day starter for the Mets. His outing Sunday was the 19th time in Cyclones’ franchise history that a Met played a rehab game in Brooklyn. Gee also became the second player to play for the Cyclones as a minor leaguer and Major Leaguer, joining Angel Pagan who played on the inaugural Cyclones team in 2001 and then with Brooklyn in a rehab game in 2008.

The game remained 1-0 until the top of the sixth inning when the Yankees tagged Brooklyn righty Corey Oswalt – who had been working on a 13.0-inning scoreless streak through his first two starts – for four runs as they batted around in the frame.

But the Cyclones immediately responded in the bottom of the inning by batting around themselves and plating four runs.

With the bases loaded and none out, third baseman Jhoan Ureña drove in the first run on what would have been an RBI ground out, but Yankees’ pitcher David Palladino dropped the ball covering the bag. Michael Bernal, Tyler Moore and Jeff Diehl each followed with RBI’s.

In the final three innings, the Cyclones only managed two hits against the Yankees’ bullpen and struck out five times. They wound up getting the tying and winning run in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, but catcher Tomas Nido went down swinging to end the threat.

On a positive note, Brooklyn reliever Scarlyn Reyes continues to shine as he threw 3.1 innings of hitless relief.

Meanwhile, Ureña doubled to left field in the first inning to increase his hitting streak to 10 games, becoming only the second Cyclone teenager (19 years old) to have a double-digit hitting streak joining outfielder Alhaji Turay who hit in 12 straight games in 2012.

The Cyclones have Monday off and open a three-game series with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday upstate. Lefty Alberto Baldonado will bid for his first win of the season in the 7:05 p.m. start.

Click here to view the complete box score of this game.

Gee addresses the media after his start. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Gee addresses the media after his start. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

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Travis d’Arnaud Continues His Assault On The PCL http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/travis-darnaud-raking-since-demotion.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/travis-darnaud-raking-since-demotion.html/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 14:03:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158766 travis d'arnaud

Travis d’Arnaud certainly does not seem to be taking his demotion very lightly at all. When he received the not so pleasurable news of his recent demotion, his response was “I’ve just got work to do”.

And work is exactly what he’s done since the day he was sent down. d’Arnaud went 1 for 1 in his first game on June 9th and has not looked back as he attempts to blaze his trail back to the majors at full force. He went 2 for 4 the next day but it was on June 11th when he really started to catch fire.

He homered not once, but twice in the contest, registering a 3 for 5 night with three RBI’s in the process. Fast-forward two days later to June 13th, and he homered again with another multi-hit game.

He wouldn’t stop there, though, as he went on to do the exact same thing the next two nights, notching another two homers and another two multi hit games on his belt.

Overall, Travis is slashing .394/.459/.909 since his demotion.

Unfortunately, he is not getting paid to put up gaudy numbers in Las Vegas. TDA looked lost during his brief cup of coffee in the majors and when he gets his second opportunity, it’s in his best interest to capitalize on it. The Mets could certainly use his bat.

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The Easiest Thing To Do In Baseball? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/whats-the-easiest-thing-in-the-baseball-world.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/whats-the-easiest-thing-in-the-baseball-world.html/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 20:28:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158726 jose reyes

By now, you all have read that Jose Reyes & Josh Thole shared their views of David Wright and the New York Mets as a franchise.

You know, it’s funny to me. With Reyes, you have a guy who had his career built here in New York – a guy who took a big contract with a BAD team, talking about how he just wants to win? And he feels bad for Wright in his current situation?

Let me break this down for you Jose. In 2007, the Mets had one of the most epic collapses in baseball history – you hit .205 in September, Wright hit .352.

The Mets followed up said that epic collapse with an encore performance – you hit .243 that September, Wright hit .340.

So Jose when you say things like:

“After a little while, you just want to win, it’s not about the money, because we are already set. We’ve got a contract and it’s now about winning. We’re not getting any younger, you know? What is he, 31? I’m 31. I want to win. So I know about that.”

“At this point, we want to win. I’m tired of being in last place. I want to play meaningful games in September. The year that we went to the playoffs in 2006, oh, man, that was an unbelievable feeling. Just every game that we played, like wow, the intensity and stuff. I loved that. We’re in a good position this year to have a good year.”

Maybe you should focus on YOUR role in the Mets recent failures rather than feeling sorry for the guy who chose to stay here and try to see things through? You are one of the reasons why the Mets are where they are. Had you performed to your ability in 2007 or 2008, things could be different yet. You’re not a victim, you’re a cause.

In fact, Reyes not only was a MAJOR factor in the 2007 and 2008 choke jobs – but he also played a major role in not one but TWO teams with HUGE expectations falling flat on their face (Miami 2012, Toronto 2013). Where was Jose’s views of the Mets in 2012 and 2013? Oh right he was too busy contributing to another failure. 

You want to feel bad for David Wright because he is here now? How did you feel when you let him and everybody down in 2007 and 2008 with a AAA performance when things were falling apart? Oh but wait, at that point you apparently were not intrigued by playoff baseball as you are now since you’re team is 40-30. I guess back then you didn’t care about meaningful games in September.

Say whatever you want about the Mets, and Sandy Alderson – but Jose Reyes CHOSE to go to a bad baseball team for the money. Yeah, the Mets could have matched it if they wanted to, but I believe Reyes wanted to leave regardless – he wanted his money, he didn’t care about winning when he signed with Miami. He cared about the paycheck.

Then you have Josh Thole, the backup catcher who only kept a job because he could catch a knuckleball. Thole couldn’t even stay in the big leagues in 2013 and now suddenly is a bit chatty since he has 18 hits in 68 plate appearances.

“It was there from ’09 through ’12 and it was ‘wait till next year, wait till next year,’ ” said catcher Josh Thole, who came to the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard deal. “I always tell the guys: The hardest thing in the baseball world, in my opinion, is to play in New York for the Mets. No. 1, you have a bunch of young kids coming up. Every day, there’s something.  A story. Everything is a story there. So you can get caught up into that quickly. It’s just a tough place to play. I would say it’s been the hardest for David. He just signed that bangin’ deal. It’s just weird.”

No Josh, the hardest thing in baseball is watching you swing a bat. Stop acting like you’re some established veteran, you’re lucky to keep a big league job. You’re a backup catcher right now, and you’re 27 – keep quiet. The rest of the sentence in your quote should have read “wait till next year maybe we will find a new catcher.”

When it’s all said and done, Reyes got his money, and coincidentally he has had his three worst big league seasons since signing that contract that many of us felt he was not worth. So yet again, a guy had his career year just in time for a new contract – funny how that happens huh?

Still, the Blue Jays are leading the AL East (in a down year) – and maybe he will get his wish and play meaningful games in September (and hit .220). Good for him.

So I guess if playing for the Mets is the hardest thing in baseball, we know what the easiest thing to do in baseball is, right?

Riding the coattails of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

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Ryan Reid Could Join Mets Overworked Bullpen On Monday http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/ryan-reid-could-join-mets-overworked-bullpen-on-monday.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/ryan-reid-could-join-mets-overworked-bullpen-on-monday.html/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 01:42:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158393 Ryan Reid

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York speculates that righthanded reliever Ryan Reid could be an option when the Mets look to add a fresh arm to their fatigued bullpen on Monday when they begin a three game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Mets bullpen was leaned on for eight innings of relief on Sunday after starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was forced to leave the game after one inning with a serious stomach ailment,.

The 29-year old Reid has had a remarkable stretch at Triple-A Las Vegas and improved his scoreless streak to 22.2 innings on Saturday.

If Reid does get the call, the Mets would have to add him to the 40-man roster.

 

June 12

Ryan Reid has emerged in Las Vegas as a potential major league ready reliever. Adam Rubin noted on Twitter that Reid has thrown 17.1 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run and has pitched to a 3.64 ERA over 29.2 innings during his 2014 campaign.

Reid’s only appearances in the majors came in 2013 with Pittsburgh, where he posted a 1.64 ERA over 11 innings, with seven strikeouts against three walks. On December 23, 2013, he was selected off waivers by the Mets from the Pirates.

The Mets bullpen has been solid recently. It seems that Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia have solidified the 8th and 9th innings, helping to give members of the bullpen an identity which was lacking during the early weeks of the season. Gonzalez Germen, the Mets most consistent arm out of the pen earlier in the year, was activated from DL the Tuesday.

Playoff caliber teams have strong bullpens and don’t blow games for their starting pitchers, simple as that. I believe the Mets could be on their way to having a very solid bullpen and strong arms in Triple-A give them some wiggle room in case of injuries.

mmo presented

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