Mets Merized Online » New York Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:19:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.18 Zack Wheeler Back On Track After Minor Soreness Issue http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/zack-wheeler-back-on-track-after-minor-soreness-issue.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/zack-wheeler-back-on-track-after-minor-soreness-issue.html/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231469 zack wheeler

First week of pitchers and catchers, check. First official team practice, check. Man what a week it has been for New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who gave everyone including himself a scare but survived to tell the tale.

It all started out a week from yesterday, last Sunday, when pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp. Wheeler told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, “I hope I’m good. I hope I’m ready. I’ve done everything that I could. I will get back out there and pitch, and just be healthy.”

“Get back out there and pitch,” is exactly what Wheeler did. He threw his first bullpen session of the spring on Tuesday afternoon. All went well during the session and Wheeler looked real good.

However, following the bullpen session Wheeler began experiencing some “tenderness” in his elbow. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, “we’re not going to push it.. we will have kid gloves with him.” The Mets did just that, and Wheeler took Wednesday off.

On Thursday, Wheeler went through his normal routine. He took some fielding practice and had a catch with pitching coach Dan Warthen. Everything went well and the Mets later said that they expected Wheeler to throw his next bullpen session over the weekend.

On Sunday, Wheeler (seen above) threw his second bullpen session of the spring. He threw a total of 21 pitches and felt good afterward. According to evaluators, he threw at about 75 percent strength and looked good. The Mets are hoping to put him back on a regular schedule, throwing every three days.

General manager Sandy Alderson told reporters that the Mets want to give their young right-hander time. “Right now he’s confident and we’re optimistic as well, but ultimately it’s been two years since he’s thrown so we have to see it. We’ve got to watch and see what develops in the next few weeks.”

Alderson added, “First and foremost, he’s got to be healthy. He threw today, and we’ll see how he recovers from that and build on that.”

Additionally, recent reports suggest that the Mets could have Wheeler start the season in extended spring training and then have him join the team later in the month so as not to rush him back. When he is ready to join the team, he will be in contention for the fifth starter spot, but he may also see some time out of the bullpen to help cut down his innings load.

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So You Think You Know The Mets: Distinguished Service Honorees http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/so-you-think-you-know-the-mets-distinguished-service-honorees.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/so-you-think-you-know-the-mets-distinguished-service-honorees.html/#comments Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231301 joan payson art shamsky tom seaver

It would be an easy task for most Met fans to run off a list of the Top 10 Mets of All-Time if I asked them, and for the most part each top ten list would look remarkably similar – give or take one or two names.

However, what about some of those players who grinded it out season after season for the Mets and essentially flew under the radar because they were simply overshadowed by some of the bigger names for most of their careers? I’m talking about those long-time Mets we grew up rooting for, many of whom became our favorite Mets?

You’ll need to remember some of these distinguished service Mets to complete today’s quiz in which we ask you to name the 11 players who played 10 or more seasons with the Mets. You have Two Minutes and Last Name Only is fine. Ready… Set… Go…

Spoiler Alert: Avoid Comments Until You Play Quiz

 

 

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MMO Exclusive Interview: 2016 First Rounder Justin Dunn http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-rhp-justin-dunn.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-rhp-justin-dunn.html/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:00:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231288 justin dunn 3

The New York Mets added yet another high upside pitcher to their system last year, drafting and signing Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn in the first round of the MLB Draft (19th overall).

The Freeport native grew up just thirty minutes from Shea Stadium and Citi Field, attending many games as a youth. Dunn, 21, has the chance to one day join LHP Steven Matz as being able to pitch in one’s back yard, so to speak, as Matz grew up about an hour from where he makes his living in Queens, born and raised in Stony Brook, New York.

Dunn is an intriguing prospect, having pitched both out of BC’s pen and in the starting rotation throughout his three seasons there, posting a combined record of 9-7, with a 3.67 ERA in 45 games, 15 of those starts. Dunn had his most successful season as a junior in 2016, where he posted a 2.06 ERA (4th in BC’s history for single-season records), and had career bests in WHIP (1.07), K/9 (9.87), IP (65.2), and games started (8).

Upon signing with the Mets on June 21, the team assigned the hard throwing righty to Brooklyn, where he appeared in 11 games, eight starts, posting a minuscule 1.50 ERA over 30 innings. Dunn held opponents to a .227 average, and struck out 10.5 batters per nine.

The hype is certainly warranted for Justin Dunn, MMO’s sixth best prospect for 2017, as he features a mid-nineties fastball that touches 97, a slider, curve and changeup. The Mets limited his innings in 2016, as he began tossing just two innings for the Cyclones before transitioning to the starting rotation, where he was capped at three innings of work.

Dunn also ranked twice in this offseason’s Top 100 prospect rankings with his highest being #84 by Keith Law.

I had the privilege of speaking to Justin earlier in the week, where we discussed the draft, playing close to home, and an awesome dunk tank story!

MMO - Hey Justin, thanks for taking some time to speak with me today. What was draft night like for you? Many Met fans have seen the video of you with your Boston College teammates celebrating at a sports bar when you heard the news, can you talk a bit about that night and the emotions you felt?

Justin - That night was awesome. We were down in Miami playing in a super regional for the first time in school history, so going down there for that weekend we knew it was draft day, we knew I had a chance to go in the first round. But we also knew we were doing something that had never been done in school history so there was a lot of different emotions going on. We had just finished up practice that night, and coach decided to have a team dinner.

We went over to Duffy’s Sports Bar in Miami; we sit down, long night, long stressful night. Kept waiting to hear my name called, pick after pick not hearing it and then to come down to 18 and 19 and see the Mets and the Yankees right there (Yankees had the 18th pick) that’s two New York teams, and then to see that the Mets were the team that drafted me was honestly a dream come true because being a pitcher you can’t beat this organization.

And growing up in Long Island, I’ve been to more Mets games than I can count, probably more than my own games. I was very familiar with the Mets and I love being home in New York, so that video was raw emotion of how excited I was to become a Met and start my career.

MMO - Did you have any inclination that the Mets had interest in you prior to the draft?

Justin - No that’s what made it even cooler, that video was raw. I didn’t get a phone call that was… I saw my name on the screen when all the Mets fans did and I jumped up in pure excitement. It’s a dream come true to have the potential to be playing thirty minutes from home to where my parents hop on the Cross Island and head straight into Queens.

MMO - The Dodgers drafted you in 2013 in the 37th round; did going through the draft process back then make it any easier for you last year?

Justin - Yeah for sure, I mean at that point in my career I was in a little bit different place. I was a buck fifty maybe, five-ten, and I wasn’t in a situation to where I was ready to go play with grown men that were 21-22 years-old like I am now.

Going into the draft I knew I needed to mature and I was most likely going to college unless someone came with an offer that I couldn’t refuse. So for that day it was just more of a learning (process), and getting used to the experience because I knew at some point in my college career I would go through it again. So for me, it was more learning what interest is and the process itself for draft day and how to handle the punches and things like that, and it was just an honor that the Dodgers even called my name because they didn’t have to.

MMO - Speaking of your time at college, can you talk a little bit about your experience attending Boston College, and how it prepared you for where you are now in your professional career?

Justin - If it wasn’t for BC I wouldn’t be where I am today. We had some great coaches come in: Coach Foster came in my sophomore year, and my freshman year I had Coach Friedholm as pitching coaches so I was fortunate enough to have two outstanding pitching coaches during my college career. And Coach Gambino, our head coach, he helped shape me into the man I am today, and put the morals and values that I have and the way I carry myself as a person, a lot of it is because of him and my parents.

On the field wise, my game kind of went to the next level when Coach Foster came in and broke down the mental side of the game for me. I’m a very mental player, I like to know my hitters well and have a good, lengthy scouting report going into the game, so that was something he taught me how to do; how to read a swing in the middle of an at-bat, how to sit down the night before and analyze a lineup and understand how to attack a lineup the first time through and be able to save a pitch for the second and third time through the order. It helped me go through all of my outings when I became a starter because I understood what he was doing, calling a game, and it made my job as well as his job a little bit easier.

MMO - I read a report on NY Daily News last year, where your dad recollects that you two went into an arcade and he couldn’t hit the dunk tank target. However, you hit the target three times in a row at a young age. Is that true?

Justin - (Laughs) One hundred percent true. We were at Dave & Buster’s and I think I was six years old. He (his dad) always likes to think that I throw the way I do because of him, so he was like ‘all right come here and watch this, I’m going to dunk this lady’. So I’m just sitting there at six years old watching him, and he goes 0-for-3. So I was like let me try, and he was like ‘no you’re not going to be able to do it’ and was like just let me try dad. And he paid the three dollars or whatever it was for three balls, and there was like a clown or somebody, or some dude sitting in the tank, and I think he called me ‘Little Bow Wow’ or something like that.

Just making fun of me, and the first ball I threw I squared it up, just knocked him straight down, and he got up and said ‘you can’t do it again’. Boom straight down (for the second time). Then he kind of got quiet, and there was a big crowd starting to circle because everybody was going nuts because I was this little kid dunking this clown that nobody else was able to dunk two times in a row and I did it again. So that was pretty funny, and then we ended up going to a carnival again a few years later and the same thing, and I dunked them like three-four times in a row.

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MMO - Was that your earliest baseball memory?

Justin - Honestly, my earliest memory was watching my dad play, he never played at a high level, but that was his passion. Going to watch his games, I think I was five or six, he would go play in a men’s league, and he’d bring me up and I’d be the bat boy for the team. But they would take me out there and let me catch groundballs, take some swings off the tee, stuff like that. And just seeing the fun he had, it was something we could share together, and I knew it was something I wanted to do from a very young age.

MMO - Growing up on Long Island, who were some of your favorite players to watch, and do you have any that you style your game after today?

Justin - I grew up a Yankee fan, so I grew up in the era of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, all those guys, Tino Martinez, so obviously being a New York Yankees fan you’ve got to have Jeter as their favorite player. And I loved David Wright too , I did love David Wright growing up, loved the way he carried himself. Mariano RiveraAndy Pettitte, just that whole New York core on both sides I loved all those guys.

And then now, I don’t really model myself after a single person to be honest, because at the level I’m at now I’m not a fan anymore. So I just like to watch good baseball, so I try to take bits and pieces from everybody because everyone at that level is where I want to be, so they all do something that I don’t know how to do yet. So I try to learn from them, and I just sit back and watch the game and look at things that I’m not doing that they’re doing that helps them get hitters out at that level, because it takes a lot of talent to do that against the best hitters in the world.

MMO - Growing up, did you pitch at an early age? What other positions did you play?

Justin - No, I was small like I said, so I didn’t always throw very hard. I mean I threw decent speed for how old I was, but it wasn’t enough for teams to be like you’re just a pitcher and going to come in and pitch for us. I was actually a middle infielder growing up. And our college coach kind of recruited me that way and said you’re going to be a middle infielder.

Coach Gambino (BC head coach) came to a game, and I’ll never forget it, they brought me into pitch, I forgot why, and he saw me warming up on the side and he’s like ‘drop your arm down a little bit, go at three-quarters, throw like your throwing from shortstop, don’t throw over the top’. And I went into that game and that was the first time I hit 90 at like 16-17 years-old and from then on he was like ‘all right I think he’s a pitcher’. But if you were to ask me when I was younger I thought I was going to be a shortstop. I always loved pitching, but I would’ve said I’m a better defensive player than I am pitcher.

MMO - Were you a decent hitter growing up?

Justin - No I was pretty bad. I’ll mess with people and tell them I was good, I mean I could get the job done, but definitely wasn’t the best though.

MMO - Once you were drafted and signed by the Mets, you started your career in Brooklyn. Tell me about that experience and what it was like pitching so close to home and in front of friends and family.

Justin - Yeah I mean you said it, being able to start my professional career 45 minutes from my house to where I had family and friends coming to see me play that haven’t seen my play since I was 12 years-old. To have close to 15-20 people at every game that I was pitching in was awesome. To come out and see familiar faces, to see my mom, see my dad, see my brother, and then to also have a great group of guys that we had in Brooklyn, it made my first year awesome. And I thought it was a great learning experience for me as a player, I learned a lot about pro ball, (I) have a lot more to learn, but I felt like it was a pretty good grasp for my first season and I was pretty happy with it.

MMO - Can you give me a quick scouting report on yourself for fans that might be new to you? What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

Justin - Me as a pitcher, I like to consider myself a pitcher with power stuff, where I’m not just going to throw 100 percent fastballs and try to throw it by you, I’m still a pitcher where I have three other pitches that I can come at you with. And I understand how to use all four of them.

But my weakness I would say is my changeup right now. It’s something that we started to develop in college and contributed a lot to my success at school. It was just another pitch for me to help get lefties and righties out, keep people off my fastball and make my fastball that much more effective. So the development of that, and tightening up my slider a little bit and understanding when to use it, when not to use it , when to make it tight when I want to spin it for a stike. Just things like that, the ins and outs of pitching that I didn’t really know before. But I would say I’m definitely a hard thrower who understands how to pitch.

MMO - You pitched out of the pen and started in college, do you have a preference when it comes to starting or relieving?

Justin - Yeah a lot of people ask me that, no I love to pitch. I just love being on the field and that was one of the things that held me back from loving pitching so much when I was younger because I couldn’t pitch everyday, but I could play infield everyday and I just loved being on the field. So for me it’s wherever you need me on the field and wherever I’m going to get a chance to play and do what I love, I’m fine with it.

In college, Coach said you should be a starter but we need you in the back end of the pen to close some games for us in the beginning of the season and I said that’s fine. Whatever’s going to help us win games is what I’m happy with because at the end of the day it’s all about winning, so I don’t have a preference at all, whatever the Mets see me as is what they see me as and I can’t control that and I just want to help (them) win, so whatever it takes to do that, I’ll do.

MMO - What’s the offseason been like for you? What’s a normal training day for you?

Justin - So I came down to Florida for this offseason, I’ve been working out at Cressey Performance in Jupiter. I’ve been working out with Eric (trainer) since I was a freshman in college, he was the start of me working out, and start putting some velocity on my fastball and my body thawing out a little bit. So I came down here with one of my teammates from college, Mike King, and we’ve been working out six days a week.

We throw in the mornings, throwing pens – I threw my sixth pen yesterday (Monday Feb 13), but it’s been going well. I’ve put on about ten-fifteen pounds this offseason, which is always nice, so I mean I’m happy with it and I’m excited to see how it translates into the spring.

MMO - Now every year there’s always the top prospects lists that come out from Keith Law, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, etc. You’ve made a lot of these lists this year, which must be awesome to see considering you’ve only thrown 30 professional innings. Do you pay close attention to these lists, and what does it mean to you when you see your name listed among the game’s best prospects?

Justin - Yeah I mean it’s awesome, I try not to look into it honestly because there’s a lot of other things that go into the decision making in the front office that aren’t about those lists. So at the end of the day my focus is just going out there and performing and trying to put up some numbers because if you put up numbers then it’s hard to ignore you. The lists are great honors and I’m very appreciative to be on those lists with the great talents in minor league baseball and be mentioned with some of them. But I try not to let them get to my head too much and stay grounded and just keep working hard.

MMO - Thank you again Justin for taking some time to answer some questions, all Mets fans are excited to see your progression and we’ll be rooting for you.

Justin - No problem, thanks for reaching out.

Follow Justin Dunn on Twitter, @Dunn_Deal19

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Pitching Expert Says Noah Syndergaard Is At Risk For Injury http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/pitching-expert-says-noah-syndergaard-is-at-risk-for-injury.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/pitching-expert-says-noah-syndergaard-is-at-risk-for-injury.html/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 15:30:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231361 noah-syndergaard

New York Mets fans might want to look away from this one. One of baseball’s best pitching gurus has some potential bad news for the Mets and their ace. Noah Syndergaard will likely be injured by “the second week of June.”

Those are the words of pitching expert Tom House. House was formerly the Texas Rangers pitching coach. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan credited him with prolonging his MLB career. Ryan said about House, “Tom taught me things I hadn’t heard about in my 22 years in the game. He helped me slow down the aging process.”

House is a strong believer in pitchers pitching year round. He believes Syndergaard will get hurt this season due to the fact that he put on 17 pounds of muscle without pitching throughout the winter.

House told Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com via phone, “unfortunately, this is an injury waiting to happen by the second week of June. Unless you’re picking up a ball while you’re getting stronger, you’re just adding muscle that doesn’t know how to throw.”

Syndergaard told Klapisch that he hasn’t thrown all between November and the beginning of camp. The big righty said he gets what House is saying but is “not worried.”

Syndergaard probably isn’t worried because of the Mets strong belief that throwing less is the key to injury prevention. Thus far in camp there is a whole new injury prevention method in place. Starters throw off a mound every three days as opposed to every two. Also during fielding drills, pitchers aren’t allowed to actually throw.

At the beginning of camp Syndergaard also said he hopes to throw harder this upcoming season. Noah is already up there as one of, if not, the hardest throwing starting pitchers in the game today after averaging 98.86 MPH on his fastball during the 2016 according to Brooks Baseball.

House added that he is really a fan of Thor. “He’s tremendous … Baseball needs more young players like him … Im praying for Syndergaard. I really hope I’m wrong.” Mets fans hope you are wrong too Mr. House.

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Mets Hope New Batting Stance Helps Travis d’Arnaud http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-hope-new-batting-stance-helps-travis-darnaud.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-hope-new-batting-stance-helps-travis-darnaud.html/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 14:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231344 travis-darnaud

Travis d’Arnaud was a huge disappointment for the New York Mets this past season hitting only .247/.307/.323 in 75 games. His swing has so much going on, and the Mets need to fix it, and fast. He spent time this offseason working with hitting coach Kevin Long rebuilding his batting setup.

This week as pitchers and catchers reported to camp, Long talked to Marc Carig of Newsday.com about the Mets starting catcher. Long told Carig that Travis can “change like the wind sometimes,” he noticed that d’Arnaud’s bat angle and his hand position would change from pitch to pitch last season.

Thus far during the first week of pitchers and catchers, d’Arnaud’s batting routine has looked very different. The drastic bat wrap, sometimes so bad his bat pointed directly at the pitcher, is long gone. To go with that, the long and unneeded leg stride is gone as well. This will hopefully make his swing quicker and more consistent.

Steve Gelbs of SNY provided video evidence of d’Arnaud’s swing in the cages.

Travis told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post earlier in the offseason, “we wanted to eliminate the wrap. We watched a lot of film, too. A lot of the balls I hit well, I thought I was wrapping and I wasn’t actually wrapping. I know now where to start my hands to stay consistent.”

“He just got away from some stuff that had been really beneficial for him in the past,” Long said. d’Arnaud was expected to come in and be the Mets catcher of the future. In the minors, he was a .290 hitter with 206 doubles, 106 home runs, and 441 RBI’s.

Thus far in his MLB career, d’Arnaud has had trouble staying on the field, playing in only 142 games over the past two seasons.

However, when he has been on the field he hasn’t been as productive as expected. He has hit to a career line of .245/.311/.393 with 46 doubles, 30 home runs, and 102 RBIs.

The Mets didn’t go out and acquire a catcher this offseason with hope for some big improvements from the 28-year old backstop. The Mets are hopeful that d’Arnaud can return to the offensive threat he was in 2015 when he hit .268/.340/.485 with a career high 130 wRC+. 

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A Day At Tradition Field In Pictures http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/a-day-at-tradition-field-in-pictures.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/a-day-at-tradition-field-in-pictures.html/#comments Sat, 18 Feb 2017 01:39:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231339 amed rosario

New York Mets pitchers and catchers have now been in camp for six days and here I will show you some of my best pictures from the week. Above is the infectious smile of the Mets top prospect Amed Rosario. He’s been working hard this offseason and even added some upper body strength.

ben rowen

Look at that release point from the new Met submariner Ben Rowen. The Mets brought in the 28-year old righty on a minor league deal this offseason to give the team some depth in what will be a long 2017 season.

seth lugo

Seth Lugo enters camp this year with a much different opportunity than he did in 2016 as he fights for the fifth starter spot with Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman.

Jerry Blevins

The veteran left-hander Jerry Blevins returned to the Mets on a one-year deal with an option right before camp started. He looks to be the Mets #1 lefty option in bullpen again this season.

Tomas Nido

The Mets top catching prospect Tomas Nido is in big league camp for the first time this spring after being added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He won the Florida State League batting title in 2016 when he hit .320 for the St. Lucie Mets.

marcos molina

Mets pitching prospect Marcos Molina that was also added to the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Molina had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and returned to the mound in the Arizona Fall League this past season.

noah syndergaard matt harvey

If Matt Harvey returns to form he could combine with ace Noah Syndergaard to provide one of the best top of the rotations in all of baseball.

Kevin mcgowan

Meet Mets right-handed relief prospect Kevin McGowan - who had a breakout season after switching from a starter. The hard-throwing 25-year old impressed the Mets enough to get an invite to big league camp despite starting the 2016 season with the St. Lucie Mets.

jacob degrom

Jacob deGrom looks to bounce back from what could be seen as a down year for him with a 3.02 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Since making his Major League debut on May 15, 2014 he has the sixth best FIP (2.89) among starters in baseball.

steven matz

Here is the Long Island Lefty Steven Matz trying to contain his laughter after letting a a ball get by him from his catcher. The 25-year old southpaw says he feels great and will begin his third big league season with a 3.16 career ERA.

All pictures were taken by MMO Photographer Ed Delany who you can follow on Twitter at @Ed880.

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How Should Granderson Be Utilized in Center Field? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/how-should-granderson-be-utilized-in-center-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/how-should-granderson-be-utilized-in-center-field.html/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:30:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231315 curtis granderson

In the past three seasons Juan Lagares has been the New York Mets center fielder on Opening Day, but that will most likely change in 2017 with Curtis Granderson getting the start.

Granderson, now the Mets elder statesman at 35, is in the final year of his four-year contract and could be playing a majority of his time in his old home, center field. Grandy has been the Mets Opening Day starter in right field the past three seasons and has played 401 of his 471 defensive games for the Mets in right.

Grandy has played 53 games in three seasons with the Mets in center field including 36 in 2016, the most since 2012 for the New York Yankees at 31 years old.

The veteran Granderson told Mike Puma of the NY Post this about playing center field daily, “It is doable definitely, but we also have a lot of great guys who at any time, if needed, can go out there.”

Indeed, the Mets have former Gold Glove center fielder Juan Lagares that will give Granderson rest against lefties (assuming he stays healthy). The 27-year old Lagares played in only 79 last season due to thumb surgery in August. Lagares has hit lefties better in his career (.276/.322/.412) than Granderson (.224/.297/.401).

Lagares bounced back defensively last season with eight defensive runs saved in just 325.2 innings in center field. He also posted a 5.2 UZR and showed off a better arm than we saw in 2015.

Granderson himself put up respectable numbers defensively in center last year (albeit in small sample size/250 innings) with one defensive run saved, 0.3 UZR and that tremendous catch in the Wild Card game. If he could repeat that performance in 2017 the Mets will certainly be very happy given that in the previous five seasons in center he had -9 defensive runs saved.

The Mets also have Michael Conforto as a center field option, whom was better than expected in center last year, in a very small sample size of 39 innings. Conforto is likely to start the season in Triple-A given the presence of Jay Bruce and his offensive struggles in 2016 with a disappointing .220/.310/.414 slash line.

One thing the Mets have made pretty clear is that Yoenis Cespedes is left fielder and that’s where he will stay this year. Cespedes played a career high 63 games in center last season, but had trouble keeping his legs healthy and his offense is too important to worry about stretching him in center.

With Cespedes locked into left and Jay Bruce (currently) locked into right field, one question is how many games will Grandy play in center? Collins said this to the NY Post, “Yeah, I have got to get Grandy out of there a little more than I have in the past. I think he’s got to be smart, and he certainly is, that you have got to make sure he can have some days off so you can maintain that quality of play you are going to need in that position.”

Granderson is coming off a solid offensive season in which he hit .237/.335/.464 with 24 doubles, five triples, 30 home runs, 59 RBI and a 114 wRC+.

He proved he can still be an important part of the offense, however, it would probably be best for him and the team if they used Lagares as much as possible for defense late in games and against most lefties. But is that how Terry Collins will use the soon-to-be 36-year old that hasn’t played center field regularly in the past four seasons?

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Jeurys Familia Leaves Camp For Personal Matter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/jeurys-familia-leaves-camp-for-personal-matter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/jeurys-familia-leaves-camp-for-personal-matter.html/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231086 jeurys familia

Jeurys Familia left camp in Port St. Lucie today before workouts because of a personal matter according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Familia is expected back in camp on Saturday according to Terry Collins.

The New York Mets closer already arrived to camp late because of visa issues.

Uncertainty still surrounds Familia and the Mets bullpen situation as they await the news on whether or not the valuable reliever will be suspended to start the 2017 season.

Original Report – Feb 14

New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia arrived to camp today at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

Familia, 27, had been detained in his native Dominican Republic due to a visa issue that kept him from arriving to Mets Spring Training camp by Sunday’s reporting deadline for pitchers and catchers. The visa delay was unrelated to his domestic violence issue and most likely a clerical issue with one of his forms.

Major League Baseball has not yet ruled on Familia’s domestic violence investigation, but the Mets are expecting some sort of suspension even though the charges were dismissed.

Familia is coming off a huge season for the Mets, becoming the first Mets reliever to lead the majors in saves with 51. He became the 13th pitcher in MLB history to reach the 50-save plateau and his 51 saves are tied for the ninth-most in major league history.

Jeurys will be pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic which he will leave to train for later this month.

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Remembering Gary “Kid” Carter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/remembering-gary-kid-carter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/remembering-gary-kid-carter.html/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:30:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231272 gary-carter mets

Five years ago today, this world lost an amazing person. Known not just as a great ball player but an even better man, Gary Carter lost his battle with brain cancer on February 16, 2012.

Given the nickname “The Kid” for his shear joy of the game, Carter was known for his big infectious smile that could light up Shea Stadium. Even his Hall of Fame plaque shows him with a nice big grin. Carter is remembered for the kid like energy he provided on the field every game.

Carter was an 11-time All Star, a 3-time Gold Glove Award winner, and a 5-time Silver Slugger Award winner. And in my opinion one of, if not, the best catchers of all-time.

He hit his way into Mets fans hearts right away. In his first game as a Met in the 1985 season opener, it was a 5-5 game in the top of the 10th inning. Carter stepped up to the plate facing Neil Allen with no men on base. Allen hung a curve on the first pitch, it hung up there for Carter, and he put it over the left field fence.

Carter pumped his arms as he rounded the bases, and as he was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, he was serenaded by a packed Shea Stadium to chants of “Gary! Gary!” He provided many more exciting moments throughout his career.

One moment Carter is most famously known for is his role in the 1986 World Series. He had a career year that season finishing 3rd in the NL MVP ballot, behind Mike Schmidt and Glenn Davis. In the World Series, Carter made his presence felt with a two homer game in Game 4, and of course his two hits in Game 6.

Known for famously saying, “I will not make the last f’kng out of the World Series,” Carter sparked a two out rally leading to a Mets win and ultimately a come from behind World Series Championship. Carter provided some amazing and unforgettable moments on the field.

The reason people loved Gary Carter so much is because of the man he is. Carter was a man first, and a baseball player second. Gary made an impact on a countless number of lives not only on, but also off the field.

In 1989, Carter won the Roberto Clemente Award for a countless number of contributions off the field. He was the founder of the Gary Carter Foundation, which helps better the physical, mental, and spiritual well being of children.

He also raised funds and helped spread the awareness of causes of leukemia, and juvenile diabetes. Amongst a number of other things, Gary was involved in the Autism Project of Palm Beach County. Gary Carter was a great man both on and off the field.

Carter’s teammate Darryl Strawberry said of him, “I wish I could have lived my life like Gary Carter… He was a true man!”

Gary Carter lived a Hall of Fame life. He had a Hall of Fame career and was a Hall of Fame man. The Kid will forever be in the hearts and memories of baseball fans all over the world. His passion, leadership, and sheer love of the game will never be forgotten!

We Miss Ya and Love Ya Kid! RIP Gary Carter.

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Zack Wheeler Plays Catch, Aiming For Weekend Bullpen http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/zack-wheeler-plays-catch-aiming-for-weekend-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/zack-wheeler-plays-catch-aiming-for-weekend-bullpen.html/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:45:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231225 zack wheeler spring

Zack Wheeler played catch today for about 10 minutes with New York Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen with no ill effects. This coming the day after it was reported that he felt some “tenderness” in his right elbow after a recent bullpen session.

Wheeler was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday in Port St. Lucie. He will now throw his next bullpen session on Saturday or Sunday.

Original Report – Feb 15

New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler experienced what he called ”tenderness” in his right arm after a recent bullpen session according to multiple reports from Port St. Lucie on Wednesday.

Wheeler is still scheduled to play catch on Thursday and throw a bullpen on Friday as the Mets believe it’s just scar tissue causing the tenderness.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen also said on Wednesday that Wheeler will be limited to the low 100′s for innings in 2017.

Wheeler has not pitched for the Mets since 2014, but was being counted on to be a significant part of the club’s plans going into the 2017 season.

In two seasons with the Mets, Wheeler has a 3.50 ERA over 285.1 innings. Over that span, he posted an 8.5 K/9 rate as well as a 3.9 BB/9 rate.

In March of 2015, just before the start of the season, Wheeler tore his UCL, requiring Tommy John surgery. He required extra recovery time for another minor procedure on his elbow.

Last season, in his effort to return to the Mets by season’s end, he suffered numerous setbacks. Wheeler threw a grand total of 17 pitches in the minor leagues before being shut down for the year.

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Bruce Expects To Be Everyday Right Fielder http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/bruce-expects-to-be-everyday-right-fielder.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/bruce-expects-to-be-everyday-right-fielder.html/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:00:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231263 jay bruce

New York Mets outfielder Jay Bruce spoke to the media in Port St. Lucie on today and one of the things he said was that the front office told him to be ready to be the everyday right fielder.

The Mets seem intent on keeping the veteran outfielder (for now) after having shopped him most of the offseason which would clear up the outfield logjam and presumably shed some of his $13 million salary for this season.

Instead, the Mets didn’t find any offers they liked and will head into spring training action with left-handed hitting corner outfielders Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto vying for playing time alongside Bruce.

Yesterday, manager Terry Collins mentioned that Bruce could also get some reps at first base this spring and here is what Bruce said about that, “If they want me to do it I will bust my ass to do it the best I can.” He went on to mention that the team has yet to approach him about playing at first.

Bruce, who’s no stranger to trade rumors, “I refuse to be a distraction in the clubhouse.” The Reds had put him on the trading block for the past few seasons before actually trading him to the Mets in August of last year for Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell.

Right now the Mets starting outfield looks like Yoenis Cespedes in left field, Granderson in center field (with Juan Lagares against lefties) and Bruce in right field. Which could mean that Conforto goes back to Triple-A and awaits his chance.

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Mets To Play Army To Conclude Spring Training http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-to-play-army-to-conclude-spring-training.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mets-to-play-army-to-conclude-spring-training.html/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:45:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=229278 army baseball

The Mets officially announced via Twitter that they will play the Army baseball team to conclude spring training. They will play at West Point’s Doubleday Field at Johnson Stadium on Friday March 31st at 3:00pm.

Original Report – Jan 12

On March 31, the New York Mets will play the Army baseball team at West Point in an exhibition game according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Pitchers and catchers for the Mets will report on February 12 and their first Grapefruit League game will be on February 24 against the Boston Red Sox.

The game will come three days before the Mets open the 2017 regular season against the Atlanta Braves on April 3 at Citi Field.

Fun Fact: Army has it’s own Shea Stadium which is used for spring football, lacrosse and track and field.

This match-up is another example of the Mets fostering a good relationship with our nation’s military. During the season, the Mets work in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project to honor a veteran at each and every home game.

Also, at some point during each season, the Mets visit Walter Reed Hospital to honor our nation’s injured and ailing veterans. Additionally, active and retired military receive discounts at the Mets team store.

Overall, while many fans gripe about the team and its ownership, this is one area where they get things right, and the Mets should be commended for how it treats our nation’s military and veterans.

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Erik Goeddel Healthy After Surgery To Remove Bone Spur http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/erik-goeddel-healthy-after-surgery-to-remove-bone-spur.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/erik-goeddel-healthy-after-surgery-to-remove-bone-spur.html/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:30:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231179 erik goeddel

According to MLB.com’s Anthony Dicomo, Mets reliever Erik Goeddel has reported to camp fully healthy and will resume a normal throwing schedule as camp processes. Goeddel underwent surgery in October to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow.

Goeddel called the diagnosis “a relief,” as he is currently competing for one of the final three bullpen spots for the 2017 ballclub. Goeddel, Josh Edgin, Josh Smoker, Paul Sewald, P.J. Conlon, and Ben Rowen amongst others are competing for the final three spots.

The operation helps provide the Mets with an explanation as to why Goeddel’s performance declined from a strong 2015 season to 2016. In 2015, Goeddel had a 2.43 ERA in 33 innings. He struck out 34 batters and allowed only 9 earned runs. He struck out 9.0 batters/nine innings. In 2016, his ERA spiked all the way up to 4.54, as he allowed 18 runs in 35 innings. He was able to strike out 9.1 batters/nine innings.

If Goeddel were to return to his 2015 form, he would prove to be a very reliable piece of the Mets bullpen in 2017, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jeurys Familia.

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So You Think You Know The Mets: I Am Iron Man http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/so-you-think-you-know-the-mets-i-am-iron-man.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/so-you-think-you-know-the-mets-i-am-iron-man.html/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:26:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231136 iron man

This week we’re going to ask you to name our All-Time Mets Pitching Iron Men – that is the 12 starting pitchers who have logged 1,000 or more innings while with the New York Mets.

The pitcher at the top of this exclusive club has logged an amazing 3,045.1 innings, a true Iron Man to say the least among the dozen or so of his other notable nicknames.

You have three minutes as always. Good luck, everyone.

Spoilers Alert!

Don’t look at the comments until you play the quiz. 


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BP Leaves Dominic Smith Off Top 101 Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/bp-leaves-dominic-smith-off-top-101-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/bp-leaves-dominic-smith-off-top-101-prospects.html/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2017 15:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=231077 dominic smith swings

Baseball Prospectus published their Top 101 Prospect list today which will certainly raise some eyebrows among New York Mets.

The first Mets prospect on the list was the consensus #1 overall prospect in the system in shortstop Amed Rosario at #8. The 21-year old Rosario was ranked as high #3 by Keith Law then #5 by MLB Pipeline and #8 previously by Baseball America.

Rosario hit .324/.374/.459 with 24 doubles, 13 triples, five home runs, 71 RBI, 65 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 120 games played and 479 at bats between Advanced Single-A St. Lucie Mets and the Double-A Binghamton Mets.

Rosario was added to the 40-man roster this offseason meaning he will be in big league camp with the Mets and is expected the 2017 with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. We had Rosario ranked as our number one prospect here at MMO.

The second Mets prospect on the list is right-hander pitcher Robert Gsellman at #17 which is sure to raise eyebrows in a good way. Gsellman was somehow left off Top 100 lists by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America and ranked #76 by Law.

Gsellman, 23, made a strong impression with the big league club last season, pitching to a 4-2 record with an ERA of just 2.42. He threw 44.2 innings while striking out 42 batters and only allowing one home run.

Gsellman jumped all the way up to number three on our MMO Top 30 Prospects.

The final Mets prospect on BP’s list is left-handed starter Thomas Szapucki at #69. Szapucki, like Gsellman, was left off the rankings by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America but ranked #60 but Law who had a whopping five Mets prospects in his Top 100.

In our MMO Top 30 Prospects list we had Szapucki at number four after a breakout season in only 52 innings last season combined for the Kingsport Mets and the Brooklyn Cyclones.

In nine starts between the Appalachian League and the New York Penn-League, Szapucki went 4-3 with a stellar 1.38 ERA while striking out 86 batters in 52 innings.

By now you’re realizing why I said Mets fans eyebrow would be raised by the list and that is the exclusion of Dominic SmithSmith, 21, was ranked in all four of the lists with Law being the high man at #29 then #63 by MLB Pipeline and finally #71 by Baseball America.

Smith was left off despite having the best offensive season of his career hitting .302/.367/.457 with 29 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, and 91 RBI while being the youngest player to play a full season in the Double-A Eastern League.

Smith was ranked our number two prospect here at MMO.

As someone who’s always been high on Gsellman as a prospect, I’m glad to see a group of people so high on Gsellman, who was inexplicably left off two often publications rankings.

Smith being left off is pretty baffling to me, coming off a season in which he answered a ton of questions about whether he would show the necessary power to provide offensive value at the first base position. In my opinion, he’s a no doubt Top 100 guy and should be in the discussion for the Top 50.

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Addison Reed Ready For Any Role http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/addison-reed-ready-for-any-role-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/addison-reed-ready-for-any-role-2.html/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 17:00:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230905 addison-reed-2

Since the Mets acquired him way back when in 2015, Addison Reed has been nothing but a god-sent for the Mets.

In 97 games since being acquired, Reed has been one of the top set-up men in the game. In his Mets career, he has a 1.84 ERA with 108 strikeouts and a 10.5 K/9 rate. He’s allowed only 19 earned runs in 93 innings.

The Mets settled on a salary of $7.75 million for the 2017 season with Reed this offseason. He will quickly be earning every penny of that money as the beginning of the 2017 season may be when the Mets rely on Reed the most.

With the Mets likely to begin the season with closer Jeurys Familia suspended due to a violation of the domestic violence policy, Reed will likely be expected to fill in as the closer. He has closed before in his career, from 2012-2014 with the White Sox and Diamondbacks he recorded 101 saves.

With the Mets having been knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round last season, Reed watched the rest of the postseason closely. One thing that stood out to him the most was the bullpen usage. He loved how Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona used lefty Andrew Miller throughout the playoffs.

Reed hopes to be used in just that way this season. The righty wants to be a super reliever of sorts for the Mets. He wants to pitch in any situation, no matter what the inning. About this “super-reliever” role, Reed told Kevin Kernan of the NY Post that he takes “the same mindset out there no matter what inning, I’m throwing.”

Reed also added that he thinks the saves stat is an “over-hyped stat.” He believes that roles play too much of a factor these days. “Three big outs in the sixth are just as important as three outs in the ninth,” Reed said.

I agree with Reed on this point. People focus on the save stat way too much. Say like Reed said, a reliever comes in in a big spot, men on base and nobody out in the sixth and gets out of trouble. Then in the ninth the closer gets three straight outs with no men on base. Why should the closer earn a save if he does no heavy lifting. Just because you’re the closer and you are the last pitcher in the game you get a save? No, it shouldn’t work like that. Saves are exactly as Reed says a “over-hyped stat.”

Terry Collins and Dan Warthen must be very happy to have a pitcher like Reed on their staff. He has come out and said he’s ready to go no matter when the Mets need him to pitch. The Mets are certainly going to need the righty early and often this season. I look forward to seeing Reed dominate out of the Mets bullpen again this season.

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Three Mets Prospects Make Baseball America’s Top 100 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/three-mets-prospects-make-baseball-americas-top-100.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/three-mets-prospects-make-baseball-americas-top-100.html/#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2017 02:46:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230911 amed+rosario1_1435890584555_20724978_ver1.0_640_480

Baseball America released their Top 100 MLB Prospects late Friday night which included three players from the New York Mets farm system.

The highest ranking Mets prospect on the list was shortstop Amed Rosario at #8. Rosario has been previously ranked #3 by Keith Law and #5 by MLB Pipeline earlier this offseason.

Rosario, 21, is the Mets consensus number one prospect and was ranked as such in our MMO Top 30 list after a breakout offensive season in 2016.

The young shortstop hit an impressive .324/.374/.459 with 24 doubles, 13 triples, five home runs, 71 RBI, 65 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 120 games played and 479 at bats between Advanced Single-A St. Lucie Mets and the Double-A Binghamton Mets.

Dominic Smith was the second Mets prospect to make Baseball America’s Top 100 list coming in at #71. The 21-year old Smith was ranked #29 by Law and #63 by MLB Pipeline.

Smith, 21, is coming off his best season as a professional. While being the youngest player to play a full season in the Eastern League, Smith hit .302/.367/.457 with 29 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, and 91 RBI.

One of the concerns about Smith by scouts has been his conditioning, but he has tried to counter that issue this offseason by working with a personal trainer that has helped him drop 20-25 pounds while adding muscle.

The third and final Mets prospect on BA’s list is right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn at #100, whom the Mets drafted with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 draft.

In his first pro season, the 21-year old appeared in 11 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones, eight of which he started. He logged 30 innings, going 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .227 BAA, and 35/10 K/BB.

Law had five Mets prospects in his Top 100 with the aforementioned Rosario and Smith joined by left-handed pitcher Thomas Szapucki (#60), right-handed pitcher Robert Gsellman (#76) and right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn (#84). MLB Pipeline listed only Rosario and Smith in their own Top 100.

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SNY Announces Spring Training Broadcast Schedule http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/sny-announces-spring-training-broadcast-schedule.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/sny-announces-spring-training-broadcast-schedule.html/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 18:12:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230880 gkr gary keith ron sny

Mets fans it’s that time of year again. There may be snow on the ground but baseball season is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers report in two days, with exhibition games starting two weeks later.

Mets fans will get to hear the beloved Gary Cohen’s voice early this year. Via a tweet from MLB.com’s Anthony Dicomo, SNY has announced that they will broadcast 15 Mets spring training games.

The first broadcast will take place on February 25 at 1 p.m. against the Washington Nationals. Every home full squad exhibition game thereafter will be televised, up until the last home scrimmage on March 28 at 1 p.m. against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Earlier in the offseason, SNY also announced they will be implementing a streaming service for the 2017 regular season. The network will now make Mets games available via livestream at no additional cost to SNY subscribers. Starting opening day, broadcasts will be available live on SNY.tv and the NBC Sports app.

The Mets first workout that will be open to the public is on Tuesday, February 14 and gates will open at 9:30 a.m.

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Why the Mets Should Sign Kelly Johnson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/why-the-mets-should-sign-kelly-johnson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/why-the-mets-should-sign-kelly-johnson.html/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:00:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230856 kelly-johnson

In 2015 with the season hanging on by a thread, the Mets went out and made a couple of moves. The most notable of course was Yoenis Cespedes, however the first of those deals was to bring in utility man Kelly Johnson. Johnson was a good pickup for the Mets as he got some big hits in big spots, and hit .250/.304/.414 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 128 at-bats. At the end of the season he signed a one-year deal to go back to Atlanta.

Then again in 2016, with the team struggling and looking for depth who does Sandy Alderson make a deal for? Utility-man Kelly Johnson. Johnson again, came in and did what was asked of him. He again picked up some big hits in big spots, helping the team make the playoffs.

One big hit that sticks out the most is against his former team in Atlanta. With the game tied at zero in the top of the 11th, Johnson came off the bench and hit a game-winning, go-ahead home run, leading the Mets offense to a win. In a total of 183 at-bats, Johnson hit .268 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

With the offseason quickly coming to an end, Kelly Johnson is still available as a free agent. The Mets should sign Johnson, preferably to a minor league deal if he’ll take it.

First off, Johnson was very useful with the Mets. As mentioned before, he plays just about whatever position asked of him. Also, in two seasons in New York he was pretty productive, as he hit a combined .260/.319/.440 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs in 339 plate appearances.

Johnson is a good fit for the Mets because of that versatility as well. If you think about it, the Mets entire infield missed an extended period of time at some point last season. Johnson played five different positions for the Mets last year and played six during his 2015 stint.

In 42 pinch hit at-bats for the the Mets, Johnson has 11 hits and a whopping five of them have left the park. Also important to note, Terry Collins please listen, that the left-handed hitting Johnson has actually fared better against left-handed pitching in his career (.762 OPS) than right-handed pitching (.748 OPS).

Now Mets fans, I know you’re all saying we don’t have the room for him but hear me out. We already heard from Sandy Alderson that the plan could be to start the season with Michael Conforto in Triple-A. The Mets could option utility infielder T.J. Rivera to Triple-A as well. Yes, Rivera was solid in his brief appearance last season, but Johnson provides proven versatility and has shown in back-to-back seasons he fills this role very well in New York. Injuries will happen that surely bring Conforto and Rivera back to the big leagues at some point in 2017.

Johnson would then join a bench of Juan Lagares, Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, and Wilmer Flores, making Kelly the fifth outfielder on the roster and a key backup for the infield as well.

Sandy Alderson, please sign Kelly Johnson.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: First Base Prospect Peter Alonso http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-first-base-prospect-peter-alonso.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-first-base-prospect-peter-alonso.html/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:30:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230791 peter alonso

After selecting Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the New York Mets continued the trend of drafting college players with their second round selection (64th overall) of first baseman, Peter Alonso out of the University of Florida.

The six-foot-three, right-handed, slugging first baseman is an intriguing force at the plate, combining raw power and a shortened swing to use the whole field to his advantage at the plate. Speaking with the 22-year-old Tampa native, I immediately got the impression of a player with a terrific work regimen, a simple approach at the plate, and a willingness to strive to be great.

Following the draft, the Mets assigned Alonso to the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he began in grand fashion, carrying a seven-game hitting streak from July 9 to July 15. Unfortunately, Alonso would be relegated to the disabled list following the August 9th game against the Vermont Lake Monsters, where he suffered a broken right pinky finger while trying to avoid a tag at second base.

In all, Alonso played in 30 games with Brooklyn, slashing .321/.382/.587 (led the Cyclones in SLG), with five home runs (tied for the team lead with Brandon Brosher), 21 RBI, 11 walks, and 20 runs scored in 109 at-bats. Here at MMO/MMN, we rated Alonso as the 12th best prospect in the Mets’ organization, however, I have a feeling that after a full healthy season this year, Alonso will become more of a household name for fans, and an intriguing force at the plate to keep an eye on as he progresses throughout the system.

I had the privilege to speak with Alonso earlier this week, and we talked about a wide range of topics, from his draft night experience with his family, to his time with Brooklyn last year, and even a good recommendation for a chicken joint in Brooklyn!

peter alonso

MMO - What was the moment like when you heard your name selected by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2016 Draft? Were you with family and friends when you heard the news?

Pete - Well I was with my parents, both my parents, my little brother Alex, and my girlfriend Hailey. And for draft night I was home, I just wanted to get away from the craziness… And we were practicing (Florida Gators) getting ready for Super Regional, I mean it was a pretty hectic week to say the least, but I just kind of wanted to get away and be with my immediate loved ones and it was definetly the most surreal experience and hearing my name called.

Like I, I just started to cry and I gave my girlfriend the biggest hug ever and gave both my mom and dad a hug. It was so anxiety filled that whole day, but then after my name was called it was just a huge sigh of relief and just a feeling, like my body was tingling, it was just an unbelievable experience to get drafted on the first day, and I’m extremely thankful I got drafted by such a great organization and I’m all in and I’m going to give the Mets everything I’ve got.

MMO - It must’ve been almost an out of body experience, to hear your name called on TV and be drafted by the Mets, something you’ve worked your whole life to reach.

Pete - Yeah it was definitely a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just extremely happy and last year got to work real quick and this year I just look to continue off of it, and build off my last first season. So, I’m just really excited for this first full year in pro ball, my first spring training, and I’m just ready to get after it.

MMO - If you had to write a scouting report on yourself, especially for fans that may not know a lot about you, how would you describe your strengths and weaknesses?

Pete - Well, definitely my biggest strength is my bat, but also to go with that, one thing I take pride in is my aggressive approach at the plate. I have a real simple but aggressive approach: if I see a ball that is remotely in my zone, or if I see a pitch that I think I can drive, I’m going to swing at it, or I’m going to take a chance that I’m going to take a good hack at it. Also, at the same token, if you’re a good pitcher then I guess you can use a hitter’s aggressiveness against them, so that’s definitely one of the big things.

For me, once I get that pitch, one of the things I’ve been working on most is capitalizing on the pitches I can drive the most because if I miss that pitch, you may end up getting one pitch an at-bat, or even one pitch per game that you can really do damage with just depending on how good the pitcher is that day, but I mean if the pitcher can really execute then that definitely helps them out with my aggressive approach.

MMO - Growing up in Tampa, Florida who were some of your favorite players to watch, and any that you style your game after today? Do you have any good comparisons or heard of any given to you?

Pete - Well for me the ideal comp, I know it’s kind of embarrassing but I didn’t know who he was until I got to college, I was hitting in the cage one day and Coach O’ Sullivan called me Paul Konerko, and I looked him up on YouTube and saw how great of a player he was, and for me he’s just a big right-right first baseman that can drive the ball, extremely good with the glove, and that’s kind of my best player comp. Also a guy that I like watching now is Paul Goldschmidt and I try to emulate my game after him because he’s just an unbelievable defensive first baseman, he can change the game by either one swing or just an unbelievable defensive play and he just has such a great presence on the field. I love watching Goldy.

MMO - You and your Florida teammates had tremendous success in college, how did the time there help shape and prepare you for where you are now in your career?

Pete - Well college taught me how to put the work in in the right way and realize what I need to work on. As a freshmen coming in it’s like ‘oh you need to work on your hitting’  ’you need to work everything you can a little more specialized’. And I feel like going to college I was a good player throughout my life, and I was kind of more raw and toolsy but going to college definetly helped me refine some of the things in my game, like defense is one of the biggest things ever.

I’m sure you’ve heard reports or whatever, but in high school I had a bad rap for being bad defensively, but I completely changed that. Throughout my college career I was struggling a little bit freshmen year but after that I decided that you know what, I’m tired of it and I’m going to make a change, and I made an extremely, extremely huge conscious effort just to never be labeled as that guy again. And for me also, work on approach things like at the plate, analyze scouting reports better, just nitty gritty things just to help me be more refined and more mature as a player.

MMO - You played primarily third base in high school and then you transitioned to first base in college, is that right?

Pete - Yeah, I played third base in high school and I mean in college, my freshmen year I played a couple of games at third, and then eventually it just turned into we needed a first baseman, and I’m just a corner guy. I think I got a pretty good arm, I’ve got an arm that can be effective at third base and I know that, I know that I have a pretty good arm for a first baseman, and a lot of people told me that’s pretty rare to see. And for me, it’s just making that transition pretty easy, it’s just understanding the game from the first base position because it’s a totally different game.

The game changes for what position you play because it’s just how you perceive everything differently just from a position, because it’s a different game from the shortstop to third base, it’s a different game, it’s crazy. There’s just different little things you need to know and understand for each little description of the position. Understanding that and how it works, I mean it’s very similar to third but also you have to be better communicating with pitchers, second baseman, coverage, different double-play depths, talking to your shortstop, and talking to the catcher.

I feel like you’re a little bit more involved at first, and you’ve got to keep your head on a swivel a little bit more, but I find I adjusted fantastically and I’m just happy that I’ve accomplished so much defensively and I’m only going to get better, because that’s one of the things that I like to stress the most because one thing I learned at the University of Florida from Coach Brad Weitzel is offense can get you in the lineup, but defense keeps you in the lineup.

MMO - To follow up with that, given the situation the Mets are in with the health of David Wright at third, if the Mets asked you to go back to third and take reps at the hot corner, would you feel comfortable transitioning back?

Pete - Of course, I’d take reps wherever they want me, if they wanted me at catch, pitch, play shortstop, center field I don’t care I just want to play.

MMO - You got off to an extremely fast start in Brooklyn, carrying a 7-game hitting streak in your first seven games there. What’s the transition like from going to college to the minor leagues in such a quick fashion as you did? Not to mention coming off the injury you sustained on May 13 when you fractured your fifth metacarpal against Vanderbilt.

Pete - Well I think that being in Brooklyn was awesome because I really enjoyed that group of guys. And I played with or against some of the guys, I played against Blake Tiberi in the Cape (Cape Cod League), I played against Jay Jabs. Desmond Lindsay, he’s a local Florida guy from Bradenton which is 45 minutes down South. I played with Thomas Szapucki in travel ball in high school. I played against Michael Paez in the (College) World Series. And Colby Woodmansee, and Brandon Brosher, we played in high school and prospect showcases and stuff like that together, so it’s not like I didn’t know some of the guys, there were a bunch of familiar faces.

MMO - So having the familiar faces has to make the transition easier.

Pete - Yeah it was a nice easy transition and it was really cool getting to learn some Spanish and stuff like that from some of the Latin guys, I mean it’s interesting, you know? And it’s just a more diverse group of people that I feel like we had an awesome group of guys, and that’s what made it an easy transition. Sometimes it’s not about where you are, it’s who you’re with, and we had a great group of guys. So for me I loved it, I had  a great coaching staff, Tom Gamboa (former Cyclones MGR) was awesome, and Sean Ratliff (Hitting Coach) it was awesome working with him, and of course Edgardo Alfonzo (2017 Cyclones MGR), having him around, being a Mets’ great is just absolutely fantastic and being able to pick his brain, and being able to go to the field and go to work everyday was just awesome and just being around them.

MMO - And when you were playing with Brooklyn did you get the chance to explore NYC much? What are your initial thoughts on the city?

Pete - It’s definitely different but I loved it. On an off day, me and my girlfriend we went to the 9/11 Museum and it was fantastic, absolutely fantastic, that was definitely one of my favorite museums for sure. We also did the Circle Line tour, took the boat around the island of Manhattan which was pretty cool. We got to see different sights and stuff. We went to the Statue of Liberty, we went to Times Square and that was a madhouse (laughs). But my favorite part about New York City is the food, I am such a food guy it’s unbelievable.

MMO - What’s your go-to meal?

Pete - I don’t have one, everything is good.

MMO - No favorite pre-game meal then?

Pete - No, I just like anything that’s tasty, like for me if it’s chicken, steak, pork I don’t care, I am not picky whatsoever. If you make something that’s good I’ll eat it.

MMO - Well you’re in a great city for that man, you have such a diversity of cuisine and everything around, you’ll love it.

Pete - Yeah and it doesn’t matter where you go either, like every deli and every sandwich shop is just as good as the other, it’s fantastic, love it! But my favorite place is Pies and Thighs, it’s a little out of the way from the team hotel (in Brooklyn) kind of in that hipster area right by the bridge, it’s probably about five minutes away from DUMBO, but Pies and Thighs is amazing. It’s the best chicken biscuit you’ll ever have in your life, and I’m from the south so…”

MMO - Your numbers with RISP w/ Brooklyn were insane, you posted a 1.341 OPS w/ 16 RBI in those situations. How do you stay so locked in during those moments, and what’s your approach at the plate with runners on?

Pete - For me I just love getting guys in, I mean that’s what the Mets drafted me to do. For organizations that preach the long ball or whatever, I don’t really.. for me I think the whole point of having a four hole hitter, like you could hit zero home runs but if you have 100 plus RBIs then you’re a run producer, it doesn’t matter.

I’m sure that’s not going to happen, but for me it’s just, ‘I’ve got to get my guys in’. And that’s just what I take pride in and you have to make it personal with the pitcher because he’s got a job too, he’s getting paid to get outs and I’m trying to get paid to get guys in, so it’s just a battle of wills. It’s just mental toughness and I take pride in getting my guys in and coming up clutch in the moment, and that’s what every kid dreams of doing, I’m just lucky enough to get paid for doing that.

MMO - What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the upcoming season? For fans that are curious how players train, can you take me into a normal day or routine for yourself?

Pete - Well for me I wake up and drop my girlfriend off at work and then after that I go lift, throw, hit, and after that eat lunch. Then do some chores around the apartment and do whatever I need to do and pick my girlfriend up from work. And it’s kind of like an 8-5 job because I get my work done, get my lift in, hit for an hour, got to throw, and then some days it may not be hitting it may be taking 100 plus groundballs, doing some base running or conditioning, it just varies from day to day. But the main thing I’ve been working on is trying to transform my body, and I want to come back as big and strong and fast as I possibly can.

Just come back in the best possible shape I can, and I want to transform my body into I guess a big league body, and I just want to be able to make an immediate impact, like the first day of Spring Training I want people to think ‘wow, Pete worked out on the offseason and he’s ready to get after it.

That’s what I want people to think because for me I pride myself on working hard, and I just want people to understand how hard I work and just let them know that no matter what I’m always going to bust my butt and trying to make something happen.  And if it doesn’t that’s fine, at least I can go to bed at night knowing I put my all in it. And for me, I just work hard day in and day out whether it’s in conditioning, lifting, hitting, throwing, fielding; I just take pride in everything I do and how I play the game. I know I got a little bit left, but the itch is real right now and I can’t wait to get back out there.

MMO - Well I can speak for most Mets fans that we’re really excited for you and see how you do, we’re rooting for you and we’ll be watching, thanks again for taking the time to talk today Pete.

Pete - Thank you, I appreciate you reaching out and hopefully you’ll ask for another one down the road.

Follow Pete on Twitter: @PeterAlonso20

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Baseball Prospectus Projects Mets To Win NL East http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/baseball-prospectus-projects-mets-to-win-nl-east.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2017/02/baseball-prospectus-projects-mets-to-win-nl-east.html/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 20:24:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=230753 Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Five

Sorry Washington Nationals, but the New York Mets did what you couldn’t do and they bolstered their bullpen with the midnight hour re-signings of Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins, while you have yet to replace your closer Mark Melancon or even Matt Belisle (who was huge for you last season) with Spring Training now only five days away.

The Nationals were rebuffed at their attempts to sign premier closers such as Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen and even bottom tier relievers like Greg Holland had no interest in signing with the Nats this offseason.

As such, those astute folks at Baseball Prospectus updated their projections last night, and for the first time in well over a year, the Mets have pulled in front of the Nationals with 88 wins – just enough to take over first place in the National League East by one solitary game.

Of course this actually means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but after all the article that have had the Mets projected for 83 wins or less, the die-hard Mets fan in me was not going to let an opportunity like this pass me by.

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