Mets Merized Online » OBP Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:40:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets Want To Bring Back Jerry Blevins Fri, 11 Nov 2016 18:25:14 +0000 jerry-blevins-mets-win

On Twitter, Adam Rubin of ESPN said the Mets want to bring back veteran lefty reliever Jerry Blevins.

He goes on to say that the Mets will “slow-play” his market, so as to see what other spending the Mets do in the meantime.

Originally signed as a lefty specialist, Blevins, 33, was far more successful against right-handed batters in 2016, holding them to a .182/.266/.345 slash line and striking out 17 in 55 at bats. Conversely, lefties slashed .255/.313/.324 off him in 102 at bats.

Original Report – Nov 2

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York hears that the Mets would like to retain pending free agent lefty reliever Jerry Blevins, but they expect him to get a sizable multiyear offer elsewhere which Rubin believes will price the Mets out.

Blevins, 33, had himself a solid season overall but tired a little at the end after appearing in a career high 73 games for the Mets.

In 42 innings pitched, he finished with a solid 2.79 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while striking out 52 and walking 15, three of them intentional.

Blevins has held left-handed batters to a .214 average and .266 OBP in his career, but had a mild case of reverse splits last season.

Other left-handed relievers the Mets have on the 40-man roster are Josh EdginSean Gilmartin, and Josh Smoker.

Options available in free agency include Brett Cecil (30), Felix Doubront (29), Mike Dunn (32), Dana Eveland (33), J.P. Howell (34), Kyle Lobstein (27), Boone Logan (32), Javier Lopez (39), Marc Rzepczynski (31), Matt Thornton (40) and Travis Wood (30).

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Tigers Unlikely to Deal Second Baseman Ian Kinsler Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:38:29 +0000 ian-kinsler

Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila has made it known that he is looking to cut payroll and shake up his roster this Winter. However, one writer who covers the team believes he has no intentions of moving two of his core players in second baseman Ian Kinsler or right-hander Justin Verlander for that matter.(Detroit Free Press)

Beat Writer Anthony Fenech explains why Kinsler is likely staying put:

“By trading Kinsler, who carries a lot of value with his contract expiring after the 2017 season pending a $12-million buyout, the Tigers would be parting with their heart and soul, an aggressor at the top of the lineup, and overall, a winning player.”

Original Report – Oct 22

The Mets have many needs this year, and only a few positions to add players. One position in flux is 2nd base. The Mets have the option of using some combination of Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Gavin Cecchini and T.J. Rivera, who all come with risk and uncertainties. Or they have the option of gambling on the balky back of Neil Walker (requiring either $17.2 million qualifying offer, or a long-term commitment). This is where the recent news that Detroit is looking to purge major salary comes into play.

This brings us to Ian Kinsler. For those of you who are unaware of Ian Kinsler, he is a premier second baseman coming off one of the best years of his career at age 34, posting  a 123 wRC+. While some may shy away from a player in his mid 30′s, Kinsler has shown no signs of decline, ranking as an elite defensive player (posting UZR/150 of 7.5, 6.7, 11.2 over the last 3 seasons) while annually putting up a .340+ on-base percentage ( a glaring need for the Mets) and posting a .319 average w/RISP last season (another glaring need for the Mets).

So the question comes down to what will it cost via trade, and in terms of finances. Kinsler is on the back side of a 5 year contract extension that currently has him on the books for $11 million in 2017 with a club option of $10 million for 2018, with a $5 million buyout. So essentially the Mets choose 1 year at $16 million total (cheaper than Walker’s QO) or 2 years at $21 million (cheaper than what Walker’s contract would be if signed). This is a low commitment, high reward scenario for the Mets with minimal risk.

As for the cost in prospects, that may be a determining factor. Reports are that the key is teams willingness to take on full contract requirements of any player Detroit unloads. So it would appear the price in terms of prospects may not be steep. Given that and the affordable contract it’s possible that Kinsler is a perfect fit for the Mets.

It will be interesting to see what route Sandy Alderson goes this offseason, but with a player of Kinsler’s caliber available, with minimal risk involved, it would be wise for Alderson to explore this option. He showed no issue with signing mid 30′s players, as he reportedly offered 4 years to Ben Zobrist just last offseason, and Kinsler is a younger, better all around player compared to Zobrist.

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Michael Conforto: Potential First Baseman? Thu, 06 Oct 2016 19:38:53 +0000 michael-conforto-2

Mets outfielder Michael Conforto may learn to play first base during Spring Training, Matt Ehalt of the Record reports.

What does this mean for Lucas Duda or James Loney?

The first baseman is arbitration eligible this offseason, and the Mets may choose to move past the Duda era.

Duda appeared in just 47 games for the Mets in 2016, hitting a meager .229/.302/.412 with seven homers and 23 RBI’s.

Loney had an up-and-down season, batting .265/.307/.397 in 100 games for the Mets, but his low OBP and only nine homers makes him a less than appealing long term option. He will be a free agent this offseason.

Conforto, 24 on Opening Day, had a disappointing year following his stellar rookie campaign, but with tremendous upside and a logjam of outfielders, Conforto could find himself snagging balls at first.

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Are Mets Loony to Let Loney Keep Hitting? Fri, 02 Sep 2016 17:29:50 +0000 james loney 2

James Loney is now hitting .260 on the year for the Mets, with only six homers and 24 RBIs in just under 300 at-bats. With a below-average walk rate of 4.7%, his OBP is .a low 302 and his .OPS this season is now .674, .which is 17% below average. His only somewhat solid glove (7 errors on the season is not great) is not enough to offset his below-average bat and his fWAR is now -.6.

Using Fangraphs, let’s take a look at what type of hitter Loney has been this year:

1. He increasingly swings at both strikes (Z-Swing%) and balls (O-Swing%), which is what one would expect given the below-average walk rate mentioned above:

    O-Swing%    Z-Swing%   Swing%
2016     33.7%      71.3%     51.2%
Career     30.2%      62.2%    45.6%

Thought: Negative

2.  Loney generally makes contact with what he swings at:

  O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
2016     81.0%    93.1%  88.8%
Career     78.9%    92.9%  88.1%

Thought: Positive

3. And he sprays the ball around, hitting to all fields:

Pull Percentage Center Percentage Opposite Field Percentage
         35.0%         33.3%                 31.7%

Thought: Positive

4. But he makes a lot of soft contact:

  Soft Percentage Medium Percentage Hard Percentage
2016 J. Loney          22.4%           49.6%          28.0%
League Average          18.0%           47.0%          35.0%

Thought: Negative

5. And as a result he produces very little against almost all pitch types, especially fastballs and changeups:

Pitch Type Runs above average
Fastball -2.7
Slider -2.4
Cutter -1.1
Curveball +2.0
Changeup -3.3
Split Finger -0.7

Thought: Negative

6. Knowing this, pitchers are throwing more fastballs and changeups and fewer curveballs:

Fastball Percentage Changeup Percentage Curveball Percentage
    2012-2015 33.7% 10.5% 9.1%
        2016 36.7% 14.5% 6.7%

Thought: Negative

7. And his production has suffered as a result:

chart 1

chart 2

Thought: Negative


James Loney certainly helped the Mets in the short term when he was picked up in late May.  However, the magic has run out and at this point Loney is best utilized as a lefty pinch hitter and late inning defensive replacement.

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Know Your Stats: OPS/OPS+ Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:00:04 +0000 simpsons sabermetrics

For the next few days, I will be bringing back my “Know Your Stats” series that I began a few years back to highlight some important sabermetric stats and concepts. We begin this afternoon with OPS and OPS+.

OPS, or On Base Plus Slugging was one of the first sabermetric stats to go mainstream. It is, as the name implies, On-Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage. It’s crude and simple, but it’s a good quick and dirty reference tool

OPS is expanded on even further when made into an index, OPS+. OPS+ does something very important: puts the OPS into context. The stat makes it possible to compare players from different eras, different teams, and different ballparks.

OPS+ is set on a percentage point scale. Essentially it is the percentage of league OPS. 100 (or 100% of the league average) is the league average, while a 110 mark is ten percent better than league average, and 90 is ten percent worse.

There are many issues with the crude OPS and OPS+. Is one point of OBP worth the same as one point of SLG? The math says no. In fact, the math says a point of OBP is worth 1.7 times what a point of Slugging is. Neither OPS nor OPS+ tell you the composition of OBP or Slugging and thus overvalues extra base hits.

OPS as I mentioned, is crude and the most basic sabermetric stat out there. It has its flaws, but it is a great way to get people to start thinking about sabermetrics. OPS and OPS+ are solid stats and certainly better than batting average, although not as good as wOBA or wRC+.

More thoughts

  • Anytime there is a stat with a “+” at the end, that means it is an index and adjusted for park factors. I get a lot of questions and concerns about the fact that these park factors sometimes change from year to year. However, these changes are so miniscule from year to year that they don’t really effect the stat. Here are Yankee Stadium’s park factors going back to 2009:

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 12.44.30 AM


OPS= ((H +BB+HBP)/PA) + (TB/AB)

OPS+=100 x (OBP/lgOBP*+SLG/lgSLG*- 1) then park adjusted

In Context

ops chart 3ops chart 1

Further Reading

Up Next: wOBA

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Featured Post: Is Now The Time To Call Up Nimmo? Wed, 15 Jun 2016 16:40:20 +0000 Brandon-Nimmo

Editor’s Note: A day after we posted the following article, reporters asked Sandy Alderson about Nimmo and GKR spent an inning discussing it during last night’s broadcast. Here is the original article.

One of the main issues the Mets have this season is their inability to get on base. While they are 6th in the majors in homeruns, they rank 23rd in OBP.

While I’ve seen fans discussing dozens of ideas to fix this problem, there’s one option that consistently gets overlooked. And that’s calling up 2011 first round pick, Brandon Nimmo.

Contrary to popular opinion, Nimmo is certainly not a bust and his ability to get on base is exactly what the team needs right now.

In 222 plate appearances with Triple-A this season, Nimmo is batting .330 with five home runs and an outstanding .405 OBP. The Wyoming native is also incredibly hot at the moment as he’s batting .462 with four homeruns and a .500 OBP in his last nine games including a two-homer game.

Even though Las Vegas is notoriously a hitting friendly environment, there’s nothing to suggest his on-base percentage is a fluke. During his five years in the minors, Nimmo’s career OBP is .384.

His power may not have developed like many had hoped back in 2011, but he knows how to get on base and does it extremely well – better than anyone else in the system over the last three seasons.

Adding a player with this unique skill set at the top of the batting order would not only give Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker more RBI opportunities, but it will also add another dimension to the lineup. The Mets rely heavily on power, but Nimmo would provide them with some speed and as well as a premium table setter.

The biggest challenge would be finding Nimmo a spot to play as Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto currently occupy starting roles.

But since the start of May, Conforto is batting .153 with a .529 OPS. If he continues to struggle, the Mets should at least start to think about having Nimmo take over.

This would allow Conforto some time off to fix his issues, and give Nimmo a chance to prove himself in the MLB. After toiling five years in the minors, perhaps it’s time to see what this former first rounder can do.

Given the team’s crowded outfield, maybe now is not the best time to make the move. But it’s one possibility the Mets have to consider and he’s already on the 40-man roster.

Nimmo is still only 23 years old, and he is quietly in the midst of an excellent season in Triple-A. With all this talk of trading for a bat, perhaps the Mets already have an ideal option to turn to – a potential solution in search of an opportunity.

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MMO 2015 Season Preview: National League East Mon, 06 Apr 2015 15:24:36 +0000 matt harvey

Philadelphia Phillies – 5th Place

Key additions: Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley and Jeff Francoeur

Key subtractions: Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, Kyle Kendrick, and A.J. Burnett

Nobody’s failure makes me smile more than this team. To see Ruin Tomorrow Jr’s efforts here really have been a thing of beauty. Their most valuable commodity, Cole Hamels is still a member of this inevitable last place team. What are they waiting for?

This team is going nowhere, and they have a young arm. The only way this can get worse for Philadelphia is if Hamels goes down with an injury before they trade him. Mark my words, if Hamels does get hurt in a Phillies uniform, Tomorrow Jr will start to pack his bags.

The mere fact that Jonathan Papelbon is still on this roster is a huge failure in my mind. The guy couldn’t have been more clear that he wanted out, teams need a closer and they couldn’t get rid of him. Likely because of unrealistic demands.

Overall, for this team it’s all about whether they can dump players like Hamels, Howard, Utley, Papelbon and a few others onto others and what they get in return.

Their window has been slammed shut and yes, I’m gloating.

Atlanta Braves – 4th Place

Key additions: Shelby Miller, Nick Markakis, Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, A.J. Pierzynski, Alberto Callaspo, Jace Peterson, Jonny Gomes, Eric Young Jr. and Manny Banuelos

Key subtractions: Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Emilio Bonacio, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, Jordan Walden, David Carpenter, and David Hale, Craig Kimbrel, Melvin Upton Jr.

Atlanta’s complete overhaul is quite interesting. I do believe Heyward is a player you build around, not trade away but I also understand why they felt they had to make the move.

I think a few Braves fans are buying into Eric Young Jr a little too much. He isn’t an everyday player, so if he is penciled in as one, then you have a problem.

Let’s talk about the good for a second. They have developed an infield core that showcases Christian Bethancourt, Freddie Freeman, and Andrelton Simmons. If Bethancourt can prove to be what Atlanta fans believe he can be, then the Braves have a very young, very capable infield core built.

Julio Teheran and Mike Wood together make up a 1-2 that could develop into a Harvey-deGrom kind of 1-2. Wood needs to prove it, Teheran needs to build on a great 2014.

If Shelby Miller can put together a consistent season and Wood puts together a true #2 like year, then Atlanta could be peskier than we think.

I love the addition of Trevor Cahill. I think he can be one of those guys who just finds his way back thanks to pitching in Atlanta.

The Braves had the most dominant relief pitcher in the game right now. They gave him away on Opening Night, and I think that is a sign that this team is rebuilding, and not retooling like they said.

I did think they were a 3rd place team, but after the Kimbrel deal I am pegging them officially as the 4th place team. The deal makes this franchise appear like they have no interest in winning, so why should I predict them to do so?

Miami Marlins – 3rd Place

Key additions: Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Martin Prado, Aaron Crow, and David Phelps

Key subtractions: Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi, Anthony DeSclafani, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee

Miami is a popular pick this year, and I find it fascinating because usually the people who are in love with Miami use the fact that Jose Fernandez comes back in June to their advantage. No big deal right?

How many of those same people question whether Matt Harvey can return to his 2013-self? Probably most.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Giancarlo Stanton is drool worthy. He’s offensive talent in the NL, and if Mike Trout didn’t exist – I’d say he’s the best offensive talent in the sport.

I view Dee Gordon as Emilio Bonifacio 2.0. He’s a player with excellent speed that can’t get on base enough to utilize that speed and to top it off, strikes out a lot.

There is likely some concern from Marlins fans over the fact Mat Latos has not been able to throw as hard as he once did. I like Latos, but if his velocity is dropping, then that should scare Marlins fans.

Morse is a great bench player, the Marlins need him to be an every day 1B.

If the Marlins can hang in there until Fernandez returns then it will be a very fun summer for Marlins fans. Still, I am just not too sure they have the talent and depth right now.

I think they’ll be competitive, I just think 80 wins is their ceiling probably.

NY Mets – 2nd Place

Key additions: Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Torres, and John Mayberry Jr

Key subtractions: Zack Wheeler due to injury

I’m trying not to be a homer here, I honestly do feel like they have the 2nd best team in this division. Of course, they need to put it all together over 162 games.

I think the addition of Cuddyer is going to be a huge positive for the Mets. I think the things we won’t see (as in behind closed doors) will make a huge difference in this team’s attitude and effort on the field.

I’m also really intrigued by Kevin Long. I’ve never been one to say a hitting coach makes a huge difference, but if you watched the same Spring Training as I, then you saw something different compared to years past.

The rotation is going to give us a reason to watch every game. Yes, even on Bartolo days.

I believe they have a top 5 rotation, and yes while we will all probably hold our breath every time Harvey pitches, they will be a ton of fun to watch.

The bullpen worries me a little, but I don’t want to underestimate Mejia and Familia either. I think if the Mets can tread water, more bullpen arms will become available throughout the year.

I’m not totally sure that this is a playoff team, but I am sure it will be an enjoyable season to watch all year. We deserve that.

Washington Nationals – 1st Place

Key additions: Max Scherzer, Casey Janssen, and Yunel Escobar

Key subtractions: Adam LaRoche, Tyler Clippard, Steven Souza, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ross Detwiler, and Rafael Soriano

The two players I hated seeing the most from Washington were Adam LaRoche and Tyler Clippard. LaRoche has a .845 OPS against the Mets, and take Clippard’s 1.00 WHIP in in 51 appearances with you too.

You can’t ignore the addition of Scherzer. I think long term that will be a problem for Washington, but I think for right now it makes them nasty 1-4.

This team has such high expectations, again – and it seems like it’s World Series or bust for the Nats.

So why won’t they get there?

Easy answer is, their bullpen. Drew Storen has proven that he cannot close out the big game. Overall, I’d say their bullpen is just okay and while they have enough talent to win the division, they don’t have enough to win the pennant.

NL East MVP: Giancarlo Stanton. Best player in the division, on a team that will at least be competitive.

NL East Cy Young: I’m not positive but I think if I don’t pick Matt Harvey, I get hate mail.

NL East Sleeper: Wouldn’t it be great if this turns out to be a guy like Syndergaard?  Does Alex Wood count? If he does, take him – if he doesn’t, then take Wilmer Flores and throw a party.

bryce harper

XtreemIcon’s Picks

5th Place – Philadelphia Phillies

I had the Rays drafting first overall in 2016, but I had forgotten about the Phillies. They’ll be the only team to lose 100 games.

4th Place – Atlanta Braves

They said they were retooling and not rebuilding, and I think that’s accurate. They sold a lot of payroll, but got back good, intriguing young pieces to go along with the cost controlled pieces they kept, including Freeman, Simmons, Bethancourt, Tehran, Wood and Miller. That’s more than half of a really good infield and three top starters. Jose Peraza will fill the void at second base nicely very soon and the farm system is lousy with arms. They’ll be heard from again real soon.

3rd Place – Florida Marlins

I’m not buying into the hype. Will they be better? Maybe. They won 77 games last season, so I’d think they couldn’t get much worse because I don’t honestly think they’re terrible. Before the Padres paid $27 million for a closer, I thought the Marlins swung the worst trade of the off season, sending Andrew Heaney to the Dodgers for Gordon. He’s lightning fast and has legit game-changing speed, but he’s not a good hitter and won’t get on base nearly as much as he’d need as needed to turn that speed into a weapon. That speed also makes his defense overrated, as people often confuse speed with range. I’m also not a fan of Marcell Ozuna’s approach and feel he’s going to suffer a big time power regression now that pitchers know he’s likely to swing at anything. And since his hit tool and plate discipline suffer as it is, he’s not going to offer as much in the middle of the lineup as the Marlins need. I love Stanton and Yelich as players and think Adeiny Hechavarria is a great defensive shortstop. I also like Henderson Alvarez to take a nice step forward. But in order for the Marlins to make any noise, they have to overachieve while Fernandez is out and hope he comes back no worse than 85% of his 2013 self. There’s not one other pitcher behind Alvarez I have any faith in. I just don’t see it from the Marlins this season.

2nd Place – New York Mets

This is a Mets site, so we all know the deal. I think it says a lot about the talent and depth of this organization to lose a starter the caliber of Wheeler and a reliever as important as Edgin and still be expected (by the “experts”) to win roughly 85 games and compete for a playoff spot. Some actually have the Mets grabbing a Wild Card. I do, too. I think they’re more talented and (maybe more importantly) deeper than the Marlins, Giants, Padres and Cubs.

1st Place – Washington Nationals

They’re better than the Mets, yes, but what if I told you the Mets would finish closer to the Nationals than they will the Marlins. To be better than they were last season, the Nats need Scherzer to outpitch a 2.85/3.47/3.84 pitcher slash (ERA/FIP/xFIP) well enough to also overcome a huge bat they didn’t replace (LaRoche) and one of the best relievers in the game (Clippard). Not to mention the three of their top five hitters will be starting the season on the DL. They’ll win 92-93 games, but will fight the Mets for the division pretty closely until the end of September. But if one more guy gets hurt or the law firm of Span, Werth and Rendon don’t recover as quickly as expected, there could be serious problems, as the Nats have very little depth.

NL East MVP: Bryce Harper. The kid’s a two-time all star and we still haven’t seen what he can do.

NL East Cy Young: Harvey’s better.

NL East Sleeper: Mets fans know this division inside and out. How can someone fly under the radar? I’m going to be lazy and take Harper, because he’s criminally underrated and (jealous) people have actually called him a bust. But if it’s a Met, the Nationals are in serious trouble…


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How Low Can You Go? Mets Peddling Relevance On A Shoestring… Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:27:47 +0000 chris-rock

I had some cheap friends when I was younger. Guys who had jobs and money but who didn’t like to spend any of it. I’m sure you all remember the type. The sort who liked to spend other people’s money and never smoked their own cigarettes. Reminds me of the Chris Rock skit from “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” where he walks into a rib joint and asks “how much for one rib?” Trying to buy a single rib for fifty cents and ten cents worth of soda, “pour it into my hand for a dime.” All the while he’s got a roll of $20 dollar bills in his shirt pocket. It’s how I feel about the Wilpons.

I’ve been defending this front office’s decision not to spend on free agents all winter. There’s an argument there. You can pick up any of the NY dailies and there will be at least one article slamming the Mets for not doing more, but it’s self-serving in a way. The quiet hot stove is bad business for the back pages. It’s like “C’mon Mets, I’m trying to make a living here, what the hell am I supposed to write about all winter? The Knicks??!!” That line could be from any number of NY sports journalists. But the truth is there really weren’t many tangible upgrades available which didn’t involve mortgaging the farm.

Sadly I’m afraid that’s been a convenient ruse. The real reason they didn’t spend is the same reason it’s always been, they’re still broke. Some might argue that they’re playing the pauper lest their creditors get the best of them, stashing their assets in equities insulated from their Mets enterprise, like the Chris Rock character with the hidden wad of twenties in his pocket … But I doubt it. Given the unprecedented level of fan discontent, I think the Wilpons would spend if they could.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Minnesota Twins

Yesterday’s news on Everth Cabrera signing with the Orioles for a whopping $2.4 million was the latest indicator. I know a lot of folks out there think Everth is a miscreant and a criminal, and that may be true, but hey, who are we to judge? All I know is I had this Everth kid on my fantasy team a couple of years ago and he killed it for me with hits and steals. Now sure, maybe he was juiced up, but I don’t know that he’s not worth a shot given how perfectly he fits our needs (lead-off and shortstop) … and for 2.4 million? You could probably scrape up 2.4 million searching through A-rod’s couch cushions.

But no. Everth signs with the Orioles. The frigging Orioles of Baltimore.

Here’s the thing. Say Sandy Alderson signs Everth Cabrera to a 1 year deal for $2.4 million. What is the worst that could happen? Cabrera has a minor league option so if he bombs or holds up a liquor store he could still be sent down to work things out. Sure he’d be an expensive minor leaguer but the upside is if he hits he’d be beating out Tejada … Tejada. And therein lies the rub … in Tejada, you have the kid who used to stop at the newsstand on the way home from school to buy a Moon Pie and 6 Swedish Fish with his pocket full of nickels … in Cabrera you have the kid who would mug him before he got there. Which one would you rather have playing for the Mets? Tough question I know.

While his numbers may not jump out at you, Cabrera has one thing Tejada (and the Mets team as a whole) sorely lacks, speed. Cabrera, 28 and a switch hitter, led the National League with 44 stolen bases (on 48 attempts) in 2012. If he regains his form he is a legitimate lead-off option. Now look, I’m not saying he’s this poor man’s Rafael Furcal or anything, but the guy was running a 3.1 WAR in 2013 when he got shut down for his Biogenesis run-in. I don’t think Tejada could touch 3 WAR if he fell into a vat of PED loaded hypodermic needles in an abandoned warehouse during a full moon. He’s just not that dynamic a player.  We’re also down one Eric Young and could use those wheels, but who needs team speed? Certainly not the Mets.

At 2.4 million? I mean, that’s like Pablo Sandoval’s cheesy-snack budget. That’s the 1986 Mets’ in-flight cocaine bill for crying out loud. Pocket change right? Nope. Not when it comes to the Wilpons. Here’s the crazy part. A best case is Cabrera hits around .280 with a .330 or so OBP and around 40 steals with a 2.0 to 3.0 WAR … he essentially replaces Tejada and pushes Flores over to 2B (which makes Murphy available) providing the Mets with a pesky lead-off presence. The Mets would actually save money under said scenario because they could shed Murphy’s salary … the risk? 2.4 million.  Or, Cabrera could just replace Tejada as back-up infielder. With a year of arbitration eligibility left after 2015, if Cabrera proves a capable SS and lead-off hitter the Mets would have solved these two annoying magpies with one well placed stone.

Mets Cubs

How cheap are the Mets? The possibility of a bona-fide lead-off option at short is not worth a 2.4 million gamble when they could simply play Flores there and bring up Hererra if and when they trade Murphy. It’s also not worth biting the bullet on Tejada’s salary should Cabrera prove more capable as a switch-hitting infield back-up/pinch runner (which I firmly believe he would). That’s pretty damned cheap folks, especially for a team trying to sell fans on this idea that they’re contenders.

The Orioles have had some success with reclamation projects … They were after all the team that gave Nelson Cruz a shot. It’s not like the Mets haven’t tiptoed into those waters, Marlon Byrd was one such player. It could be that the Wilpons, given their sterling reputation, put the kibosh on signing a guy with a lengthy and colorful rap sheet. That’s what they’ll tell us … too many  “character questions.” Don’t you believe it … this guy would have been a perfect low risk high reward gamble to throw into our middle infield mix were the Mets in a position to scrape together 2.4 million.

They are not.

They are broke.

We’re talking trawling for pennies and dimes at the fountain in the mall broke … picking cigarette butts out of ashtrays in the park broke … the Mets aren’t just “limited,” they are picking pizza crusts out of the trash and living out of a cardboard box broke.

Now Ownership has even taken to peddling relevance as if the pennant is a foregone conclusion … perhaps in the hope that they’ll sell enough tickets to actually increase payroll? Or to pay down debt? I’ll let you decide which.

And all the while they cling feverishly with their greasy fingers to this beleaguered franchise as if it’s some relic from a by-gone life buried under a heap of rags in a shopping cart, without regard to the once in a generation pitching talent whose window will close as quickly as it opened.

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Featured Post: Granderson Was Getting A Raw Deal Sun, 15 Feb 2015 12:04:46 +0000 curtis granderson

Many people seem to have low expectations and even less optimism when discussing Curtis Granderson.  It seems like his bad season was what should be expected as everyone points to his age and playing in more of a pitcher’s park than Yankee Stadium was.  However, while he only had a pathetic 1.0 WAR last year, that was worse than even Ruben Tejada, let’s breakdown the factors that led up to this.

Granderson was placed in right field last year to accommodate Chris Young and Eric Young.  Chris was such a proud signing that he was promised certain opportunities even though he had stunk for three years running and was pronounced the starting center fielder a week before the opener by that noted player development guru, Terry Collins, and Eric was “the only leadoff hitter” on the roster.  So as the right fielder by default, Granderson’s Fangraphs defensive rating of -17.2 was mostly due to his poor throwing arm (he rated the worst of all qualifying right fielders) because he had a 43% success rate of catching fly balls that were in the “unlikely” category (10%-40% chance of being caught).  That’s pretty good!  So he definitely can cover ground.  Shifting to left field and not needing to have a good arm while covering pretty good ground can only make that defensive rating shoot up, thus increasing his overall WAR.

Now for the offense.  He rated 43rd offensively for all qualified outfielders with a 6.5 rating.  Not great, but that is the middle of the pack for a player that last year everyone agrees just sucked at times.  Miscast once again, but this time in his offensive role, first he was a cleanup hitter and having the pressure of being in a spot he wasn’t familiar with and then he was put in the table setting spots of #1 and #2 in which he hit a dreadful .198 in about 1/3 of his at bats.  But, when placed in a less pressure #5 or #6 spots, he hit .268.

Therefore, between being in a comfort zone offensively and being moved to a more favorable defensive position according to his abilities, I don’t see why he couldn’t have a season of 2.8 WAR like Daniel Murphy had last year who also was poor defensively and not overly impressive offensively other than his doubles, but was more a consistent accumulator of statistics by playing all the time thus scoring alot of runs despite an ordinary .332 OBP.

Lastly, while I am not Granderson’s lawyer, one thing that warms the heart of us fans is clutch hitting.  Guess who was #1 of the Mets qualified hitters according to Fangraphs?  Yep, the Grandy man.

I’m not expecting miracles, but I think he can do a .269/.340/.435 stat line, with 75 runs scored as I expect TDA and Flores behind him to rock, 80 RBI, and 25 homeruns.  This is exactly what the Mets need from Granderson and the rest of the lineup.  Steady and consistent production according to their histories and let the pitching staff carry the team.

So, let’s take a more objective view of this player before he is pronounced a complete bust and give him another year in more favorable conditions.


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Featured Post: Do The Mets “Have The Horses” To Win? Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:46:05 +0000 It was the 7th game of the World Series, a heavyweight championship bout, and the Kentucky Derby all rolled into one. There was a definite buzz in the air during the summer of 1960 leading up to the presidential election. In one corner was Republican Richard Nixon. Fresh off 8 years as Vice President, Americans were already familiar with him. In the other corner was a young, vibrant John Kennedy, a man who at forty three would be the second youngest president in history.  Pundits predicted it would be a nail biter.

CL24354As Election Day neared, a photo of Nixon was circulated. Grinning slyly and appearing smarmy, the caption read “Would YOU buy a used car from this man?”

After more than 68,000,000 ballots were cast on November 8, 1960, Kennedy prevailed by a mere 112,827 votes, 49.7% to 49.6%. Did one simple picture posing one simple question make the difference? Americans didn’t trust Nixon to lead the nation. They didn’t want to buy a used car from him.

Fast-forward fifty five years.

The Mets were floundering. From 2001-2004, they played .455 ball and finished a collective 92 games back. Ownership, now flush with a shipload of cash from the USS Madoff and the promise of a new ballpark in 2009, urged their new GM to go on a spending spree and bring in some pizazz. And boy, did he ever. Over the next few years, they handed out millions like candy. Contracts offered to Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Shawn Green, Luis Castillo and Tom Glavine totaled more than half a billion dollars. The return on the investment? One post-season that ended shockingly in an upset to the Cardinals. That sure didn’t work out too well.

Enter Sandy Alderson whose job it was to right the ship. The new course was for the Mets to win the old-fashioned way. We’d rebuild the farm system. We’d go with youth. We’d win with a roster flush with homegrown players just like we always have. We’d shy away from splashy trades and long-term contracts. Weary fans applauded the new direction. Yes, yes, a homegrown championship, just like before.

Nothing could be further from the truth. No team in history, not even our beloved Mets, has ever won with only homegrown talent.

donn clendenon

1969 was actually shaping up to be a decent year. For the first time in our history, the Amazins actually had an outside shot to finish over .500. At the trading deadline we were 30-26 and nine games behind the powerhouse Chicago Cubs. And that’s when management acted. Four players were sent to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Donn Clendenon. Buddy Harrelson would later state this was the turning point of the season. It indicated to the guys in uniform that the guys in suits were willing to take the next step, that they believed. With this acquisition the Mets now possessed a legitimate power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Clendenon would go deep 12 times in 14 weeks. The Mets would go 70-36 after the trade.

When we think back to ‘69, we like to think we did it with just the kids. Homegrown talent like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones and Gary Gentry definitely did their part. But it was the players acquired that cinched the deal. Clendenon would become the first player in history to hit three home runs in a five-game World Series. His performance would earn him the World Series MVP. Tommie Agee, who arrived the previous year, led the team in home runs and RBIs and single-handedly – or perhaps single glovedly – won Game 3. Yes, the kids were an integral part. But would the Mets have won their first championship without key big additions like Agee and Clendenon?

Four years later, we were back in the Fall Classic. Many kids remained from that first championship club and now had the experience of post-season baseball. But it was players who’d been traded for that made the difference in 1973.

Felix Millan came from Atlanta that spring. In addition to solid defense, he led the team in hits (185) and batting average (290). Rusty Staub, obtained the previous season, was the team’s leader in RBIs, setting a new team record with 105. He also led the Mets in on-base percentage (.361) and doubles (36), while finishing second in base hits, batting average and slugging percentage.

On the pitching side we had the most intimidating trio of starters in the NL. But in 1973, homegrown Seaver, Koosman and Matlack were just a combined 6 games over .500. It was George Stone, acquired in the same trade that brought Millan over, that made the difference. Stone was 12-3, nine games over .500 for a team that was only three games over at 82-79. Without George Stone, the Mets don’t win. Without Stone, Millan and Staub, the Mets get no pennant.

keith hernandez gary carter

1986. Ah, yes. The kids. Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra all played in Tidewater. But Mets do not win by kids alone. It was Keith Hernandez, acquired three years prior, who led that championship club in hits, runs, doubles and OBP. Like Clendenon and Staub, it was a former Expo who cemented the deal. Gary Carter, aka KID, went deep 24 times and tied Rusty’s record with 105 RBIs.

Oh, and the young pitching we had. Doc Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez. But it was Bobby Ojeda, 18-5, 2.57 who the Mets traded for the previous winter that led the team in wins and ERA. His +13 was higher than Doc, Darling or El Sid.

The MVP of the 86 Series? Ray Knight, who like Clendenon, had been acquired through a trade.

In 2000, Mets fans adored homegrown stars like Edgardo Alfonzo, Timo Perez and Benny Agbayani. But let’s face it; it was primarily Mike Piazza along with Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile who guided us to the NL pennant. They combined for an astounding 84 HR’s and 276 RBIs. Without those three acquisitions, the Mets accomplish nothing in 2000.

In 2006, the Mets returned to the post-season for what we believed would be the first of many. We were on the cusp of recapturing the city from the Yankees thanks to a pair of exciting youngsters named David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets collected 97 victories and finished 12 games ahead of the second place Phillies. But it was a pair of Carlos’ who spearheaded the offensive assault all summer long. Carlos Beltran was an offensive juggernaut and led the team in runs score, home runs, slugging, OBP, and he tied Wright for first in RBIs. Carlos Delgado added not only a stellar glove at first, but slammed 38 homers while knocking in 114 RBIs. Without Beltran and Delgado, two key acquisitions, there’s no post-season in 2006.

In just over two months the 2015 Mets, a team largely comprised of homegrown talent and kids, will take the field against Max Scherzer and the Nationals. The goal is to return to the post-season for the first time in almost a decade and hopefully capture our first pennant since 2000 and maybe, just maybe, win a championship for the first time since Ronald Reagan was president. How confident are you?

Can outfielder Curtis Granderson lead the team the way outfielder Rusty Staub did in 1973? Can one-time Red Sox Bartolo Colon replicate the performance of another one time Red Sox named Ojeda? Can catcher Travis d’Arnaud, imported from Canada, lead team the way another catcher from Canada once did?

fred wilpon

Will this team unseat the defending NL East Champions? Have they done enough to jump from a 79 win team to a 90 win team? Everyone from the players on down to the coaches, manager and front office say yes. But that’s expected, nobody goes into Spring Training and tells reporters they’re going to stink.

The Mets are selling. More importantly Mets owner Fred Wilpon is selling. And he’s hoping you’re buying. Last week he said the Mets now have “the horses to win,” but when pressed for details Wilpon refused to comment and would only defer to his GM.

The Mets have put together an exciting bunch, and as far as pitching goes they have what it would take to make a legitimate run. But pitching alone doesn’t win games, do the Mets have the offense and defense to compliment their rotation and bullpen?

During previous championship runs, Mets brass always acted when they knew they had the young core to challenge for a title. They went out and added all star caliber players who were in their prime to support the team and maximize their chances to win it all.

There’s no denying that the Mets are at this point right now. We all can see it in our up and coming stars like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia. We can see it in a farm system loaded with blue-chip prospects that’s ranked among the best in baseball. We have David Wright and Curtis Granderson, and let’s face it, neither one is getting any younger. So if not now then when?

Do the Mets really have the horses as presently constructed to advance to the playoffs as Fred Wilpon says? Or was there more he could have done?

Wilpon says he has never once denied Sandy Alderson any player he wanted to acquire. Are you buying that?  I’m not sure I can. I’m not sure I’d buy a used car from this man, would you?


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Kirk Nieuwenhuis Is Out Of Options Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:53:18 +0000 kirk walkoff

Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be entering his fourth MLB season in 2015, and at age 27 he’s now a fringe player who has run out of options.

As Mike Vorkunov of points out, Nieuwenhuis is entering this season without a starting position available and is most likely fighting for a roster spot as a fourth outfielder for the Mets.

The most encouraging thing about Nieuwenhuis was his ability to hit for power in limited play last season, batting .259/.346/.482/.828 with 14 doubles and three home runs in 130 plate appearances.

Kirk seemed to thrive in his role as a pinch hitter, and defensively he’s capable of playing all three outfield spots. He even registered an impressive four defensive runs saved in 2014 according to FanGraphs.

Terry Collins was very pleased with the job Nieuwenhuis did for him. “He’s come off the bench, he came back and he’s probably been our most proficient pinch hitter.”

“The one value he brings us is he can play any position out there and that helps us a lot on the flexibility side of things. He’s done a nice job and this winter we’ll talk about what he needs to do to make sure he comes in and I think he’s out of options so he has to make himself ready.”

What do you think? Is Captain-Kirk a solid option as the Mets fourth outfielder?iheartnym

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Mets Would Trade Murphy For A Hefty Haul Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:56:11 +0000 daniel murphy

Despite reports that the Mets are not actively shopping Daniel Murphy, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said in a chat today, that the Mets second baseman is available if teams were willing to pay a high price.

“They’d definitely move him,” he writes. “But they want quality back. Sandy Alderson does a really good job of making these types of moves. And there are enough teams looking for a second baseman that I think that’s a real possibility.”

Nobody should be untouchable, especially when you’re on the verge of six straight losing seasons.

What Stark is saying here is neither revealing or insightful and could be said about almost any player on the Mets.

If a team is willing to overpay for any of our players, it would be negligent of us not to listen or even act if it makes the team significantly better.

11:00 AM

Marc Carig of Newsday reports that teams have reached out to the Mets about trading for second baseman Daniel Murphy. However, he adds that the front office is more likely to keep Murphy rather than deal him away.

Yesterday I mentioned that I can’t see the Mets trading Murphy mostly because it would send a signal that the team is still not ready to be competitive and is still rebuilding. The exact opposite of what Sandy Alderson is trying to convey.

Murphy, 29, made his first All-Star team this season and is batting .287/.335/.406 with 26 doubles, seven homers, 38 RBI, 57 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.

He is currently earning $5.7 million this year and will be eligible for his final year of arbitration this winter and could get about $8 million or a little more than what the Mets gave Chris Young for 2014.

The topic of trading Murphy has become a hot-button issue in the fan base, so I asked some of our writers to weigh in on this to give us a broader sense.

Destry – The Mets should absolutely lock up Daniel Murphy as soon as they possibly can.  He was quoted recently as saying something to the effect of “I’ve already made enough money for one lifetime.”  This tells me that he would sign a below market deal, and those just don’t happen for players that have already established themselves as an All Star caliber player.  He does everything the right way.  He’s done everything the team and the organization has ever asked of him, and he’s never complained once, about anything.  He’s a tireless worker, and an excellent role model for the young players and this franchise.  He’s also at or near the top of almost every major offensive category in the NL for the past year and a half.  With the exception of OBP, its uncanny how his numbers are virtually identical to league MVP Andrew McCutchen during that span.  Sign him up ASAP for 5 years and $47.5 mil. He could easily get $12 million per on the open market.

Roger – Daniel Murphy should be signed to an extension. Yes, the team has some really good second base prospects in the minors right now, but prospects are just that until they prove they can perform on the major league level. Most prospects don’t make it and even those that don’t – how many of them do you truly look back on 10 years down the line and say, “We never should have traded him away.” Odds are, you’re not trading a Future Hall of Famer. Murphy is a proven major league hitter. Why trade him in hope of a couple of years down the line one of the prospects eventually produces at the level Murphy currently is?

Joe Spector – I love Murph. He’s turned into one of the best second basemen in the game. Obviously he’s an offensive player but he’s come a long way since first being asked to play second. Keep him. He’s not great enough to bring in a haul but he’s good enough to keep.

XtreemIcon – Impossible to answer without knowing the potential return or contract demands. Murphy is significantly overrated by Mets fans. That doesn’t make him bad or invaluable, but consider that there was very little buzz surrounding him at the Winter Meetings, the Astros declined a trade for him for a shortstop that they demoted to AAA and has a career OPS barely north of .600, and the only reported trade offer TO the Mets for him was one middle reliever. The league doesn’t seem to value him quite as highly as Mets fans do, and for good reason.

Michael Branda – It depends on what he wants. If he wants to be here until say 2017, then sign him. He comes off as a heart and soul type player and you can’t just find those guys easily. If they let him walk, they are basically guaranteeing themselves a downgrade at a position that is giving them some of their best offensive production. If they dealt him, their internal plan would be what? Wilmer Flores? So basically you’re trading an All-Star 2B and replacing him with a young player who isn’t ready to hit in the major leagues yet. That’s what rebuilding teams do.

Ed Marcus – I am a Murph supporter, but with Dilson Herrera in the pipeline and possibly two seasons away I feel the Mets should maybe give Murphy a short term extension or just avoid arbitration and trade him next midseason.

Stephanie – I feel that they should re-sign him to a two to four year deal. He’s been improving every season at second base and it would be a real shame to see him traded this year. He has deserved an extension but we should be extremely cautious of the years and money we are giving him after just one great season which still isn’t even over yet.

David Conde – Tough, tough one, because I really like what is coming up in the minors. I mean with Dilson Herrera tearing it up at every level and they still have Flores, and I really like Murphy, but signing him to an extension just closes the door on any chance these kids have. But trading Murphy now would mean that Flores gets a real opportunity this season. I’m a skeptic that if you’re building for the future then don’t block the way for the future to happen.

Robert Piersall – I am a huge Murphy supporter. We need to lock this guy up right now. He has worked his rear end off to become a quality defensive second baseman, and though he still has his occasional mishaps in the field, his hitting makes up for it 100%. Murphy is our most consistent hitter. Definitely think it would be a huge mistake to trade Murphy, unless it was a very overwhelming offer for another major league ready player who could make a difference for this team.

Gerry Silverman – The Murphy question is perhaps the most intriguing personnel decision that will need to be made. Clearly he has developed some legitimate value at his position but appears to stand in the way of the team’s top current offensive prospect. I love his grit and his spirit, but I gotta confess, I think Wilmer Flores could be the middle of the lineup bat that Murph won’t ever evolve into. I’m torn.

Connor O’Brien – It doesn’t matter. Either way, trading Murphy or extending him, you are going to get tremendous value. If he is signed to $8-10 million annually, that’s a huge steal. If Alderson uses him as a big piece in a deal for a slugger, he has a lot of trade value. I like Murphy, but this team can’t really go wrong trading him or extending him, unless he wants too much – like $15 million per of course.

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Mets’ Farm System Has A Bumper Crop At Second Base Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:44:49 +0000 Much has been made of the Met organization’s penchant for accumulating shortstop prospects in recent years, a strategy that has paid dividends for many teams in the past. Generally speaking, players capable of handling what is considered the most demanding defensive slot on the fair territory side of the field are usually judged to be able to make the move to any other non-battery position if needed at a later time. If their bat looks to be enough of an asset to justify a starting role, it is assumed that they will find a place on the field where their glove will play effectively enough to hide any shortcomings that may have emerged over time.

Second base, interestingly enough, often seems to be a position in professional ball that is the repository for players who possess those shortcomings, either defensively, as with suspect range or a “fringy” arm, or if their bat won’t play at a more offensively oriented position such as corner infield or outfield. Naturally, there are many examples of second sackers who play brilliantly on both sides of the ball such as Chase Utley, but for every one of these there are a passel of “good glove-no stick” utility types or error-prone keystoners whose power (it is hoped) can offset their deficiencies in the field, a la Dan Uggla. Factors such as the tendencies of the pitching staff (flyball vs. groundball), the team’s home park (bandbox vs. pitcher’s haven), and the makeup of the rest of a team’s active roster can influence what type of players draw the 4 position assignment as well.

Second base has not been a storied position in Met team history. Clearly, Edgardo Alfonzo ranks as the best all-around player on the list, and some past-their-prime luminaries have filled the slot for a time as well (Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar), but generally, the Mets have run out a group of players there who could do something offensively and provide enough in the way of defense to keep the word “liability” from being mentioned in the same sentence with their name on a too-regular basis. Of course, the greatest offensive powerhouse to have played second in a Met uniform was Jeff Kent, but he saved his MVP-level performances for his future employers.

Interestingly, now that Daniel Murphy has established himself as one of the better offensive options in the league at the position, many are looking for him to be traded. While the merits of this idea can and have been debated, I thought it would prove insightful to look at the backlog of candidates to replace him that the team appears to be accumulating throughout its farm system.


Triple-A Las Vegas

Wilmer Flores continues to make it known that his time has arrived. Yes, his prodigious recent power display has come in the hitter-friendly parks of the PCL, but at age 22 (turning 23 next month), his apprenticeship looks to be overlong. He needs a spot in the big club’s lineup. Murphy’s bat has necessitated his reclassification as a shortstop, but his future appears to be elsewhere in the infield. His minor league numbers may be enhanced by the rarified air of Las Vegas, but he still profiles as at least a .270+ hitter with 15+ HR potential. If that type of production comes with passable defense, most clubs would be thrilled.

Matt Reynolds, while not a name that has been listed among the team’s top prospects, has nonetheless hit his way into consideration over the past season and a half. Another ostensible shortstop, no scouting report projects him there as a regular. He lacks power or elite speed, but having hit above the .350 mark across two levels over half a season and posted a combined OBP of .424, he at least merits some consideration as at least a candidate for a spring training tryout in the leadoff spot.


Double-A Binghamton 

Dilson Herrera, who arrived last season from the Pittsburgh organization as part of the Marlon Byrd/John Buck deal that also netted current bullpen component Vic Black, may be relatively small in stature at 5’10” and 150 lb, but has also hit at every level, tallying a .312 career mark across rookie, low A, high A, and now AA levels. At only 20 years of age, his stroke is precocious enough (along with a hint of occasional pop) to intrigue.

T.J. Rivera, another “non-prospect” who went undrafted and signed as a free agent out of college, has done nothing but hit since joining the organization in 2011. In stints at Kingsport, Brooklyn, Savanna, St. Lucie, and now Binghamton, he has batted a composite .346 with an OBP of .392. Like Reynolds, he lacks the added dimension of plus power or speed, and at age 25 is older than is typical for his level, but his numbers demand consideration as a utility player if nothing else. Anyway, even Mike Piazza was only drafted as a “courtesy.”


Advanced-A St. Lucie 

L.J. Mazzilli, he of the pedigree, has shown a bit of his Dad’s hard-nosed style and a tad more power than the typical middle infielder in the Met organization. The 23-year old is in his second year of pro ball, now manning second for St. Lucie after a mid-season promotion from low A Savannah. Drafted in the fourth round last year out of the University of Connecticut, he had a respectable showing with short-season Brooklyn last year and has improved across the board this year with better numbers in average, slugging, and OBP. Definitely one to watch.

Single-A Savannah

Jeff McNeil, taken 8 rounds after Mazzilli out of Long Beach State, was assigned to Kingsport of the Appalachian League and hit .329 over the course of 164 AB while showing some base-stealing ability with 11 bags in 13 attempts. After showing similar numbers at Savannah this year (.332 with 15 steals in 18 tries over 232 AB) and making the Sally league All-Star team, he was promoted to St. Lucie where so far, he is demonstrating a need to adjust to elevated level of play.

While we all may find ourselves waiting a bit for Messrs. Evans, Cecchini, or Rosario to lay a claim to the shortstop position in Citifield, it appears that at least with the other half of the middle infield combo, a plethora of candidates may thrust themselves into the picture relatively soon. Competition at positions is said to be a good thing. In any event, it appears that the Mets should have no lack of supply of it at second base for years to come.

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Featured Post: Is Alderson Gaming The System… Again? Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:44:02 +0000 sandy alderson by Jeff Roberson AP

Sandy Alderson was never a professional baseball player. He never donned a major league uniform, he never stood in a box facing major league pitching, he never even coached.  He ascended the ranks of Oakland’s front office through a business partnership with Roy Eisenhardt (whose father-in-law owned the team), though admittedly Alderson had shown a remarkable aptitude as an organizer and was already a consummate administrator. Under Alderson the A’s made it to three straight world series appearances and four division titles in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992.

Sandy Alderson is, on the other hand, a Vietnam veteran, an ex-Marine, a graduate of Dartmouth and then Harvard Law. Not a bad resume. His claim to fame in baseball circles revolves around his accomplishments in Oakland in the late 80’s when he overhauled their farm system propelling the team into contention, then switched his emphasis to “sabermetric principles” after being ordered to slash payroll in the 90’s. A precursor (and by some considered a mentor) to Billy Beane of Moneyball fame.

In October of 2010 when Alderson was introduced as the new Mets GM, he was asked whether he knew about Jose Canseco juicing. As reported at the time by Dan Martin of the NY Post (and others), he responded with the following:

“It’s hard to avoid it in light of Jose Canseco’s book. In a nutshell, I suspected Jose Canseco of doing steroids, but I never suspected Mark McGwire. It was a time as an organization we actually had begun to emphasize weight training as a part of a regimen that is now widespread, but at the time may have inadvertently gotten us involved with the steroid aspect.”

He added that the team looked into testing its own players, but was unable to as it would have been illegal in California at the time.

“If you go back and put all that in perspective, do I wish we had done more? I think that’s almost always true in retrospect.”

basg brothers canseco mcgwire

Under Alderson the A’s drafted players like Mark McGuire and Walt Weiss as Jose Canseco bulked up in the Minors. In that same introductory press conference he went on to say:

“We actually had a very active minor league drug policy at the time that included the prohibition of amphetamines. But you’re talking about a time in the late ’80s when this issue was emergent in a general sense and there was a personal sense of a lack of awareness, lack of knowledge and ultimately a lack of tools to deal with the problem.”

With this, it appeared the book was closed on the issue of Alderson’s complicity in PED abuse. I believe he was aware of what was happening in his newly outfitted weight rooms (every major league team was in some shape or form bulking up by then), but his hands were tied. So, in a “if you can’t beat em join em” kind of way he went about drafting big framed power hitters.

In the end he was an employee like any other of the Oakland Athletics, and if anyone should be complicit in PED abuse, you might argue it is the owners who are more responsible (the juicing was happening in their workplaces, with their knowledge) and even then they’d only (legally) be on the hook for lost wages in suits brought against them by minor leaguers who did not juice. Players of comparable talent who got passed over. These lawsuits never got off the ground due to questionable legal merits, the lack of credible plaintiffs, and the difficulty proving someone did not use while projecting performance (and future salary) based on minor league promise … But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about whether Sandy Alderson is gaming the system … again.

It occurred to me recently that those early 90’s Oakland teams sure were stacked offensively … I say this because I was thinking about how woefully lacking our current Met offense appears to be.  What gives? Where are our “Bash Brothers” ?? Where are our three consecutive Rookie of the Years (all power laden position players)?

Strange isn’t it, or, maybe not.

I’m not sure “gaming the system” is the right term for what I believe Alderson is doing. It’s more like opportunism with a side of exploitation. And just to be clear, I am not bashing Alderson … in fact I’m sort of praising him. I think he’s outsmarted a lot of people all the while persisting in an approach that has been assailed as only an approach can be assailed (in NY), ruthlessly.

Forget about OBP, forget about plate discipline, forget about power hitters. That is so very “1990’s.” The steroid era went out with wallet chains and the Backstreet Boys. We’re ALL missing the point, the offense sucks, yeah, so what? It’s not about offense, it’s about pitching.

“What?” You say, incredulous. “But we’ve assembled a Moneyball dream team, they’re all about OBP, getting on base, taking walks.” That perception is not only wrong now, for reasons I will illustrate shortly, it’s not even an accurate description of Moneyball back then. I think people who think Moneyball is about OBP simply haven’t read the book. In a nutshell the approach is about finding hidden value and stockpiling talent in the aggregate as a commodity.

In the late 80’s the “target skill” was getting on-base because at the time it was undervalued. So a process was implemented system-wide whereby the ability to get on base was stockpiled (in the aggregate – which is to say the skill was spread out over entire rosters instead of focused on one or two players who might walk when their contract is up).

noah syndergaard

Now lets fast forward to 2010. Sandy has just returned from the Dominican Republic where he’d spent time cleaning up rampant institutional corruption involving agents and team employees exploiting 16-year olds. He is offered a job in NY. He is an MLB insider and has cooperated extensively with the Mitchell report. He has voluminous knowledge of MLB’s plans to continue to come down hard on PED’s. His understanding of these proceedings was probably more intimate than any other GM at the time.

So what do you think he’s going to tell his big-brained minions? Go after hulking body builders who crack tape measure home runs and take lots of walks? I think not. The approach is going to focus on securing big durable pitchers with fluid repeatable deliveries, because as MLB rosters are weaned off the juice, pitching will become an even more valuable commodity than it ever was before. Simple as that.

Say hello to Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Michael Fulmer, and Robert Whalen, not to mention holdovers Harvey, Matz, deGrom and Mejia … the list is deep and rich in talent.

Whatever happens in the coming seasons, we know one thing, the Mets, thanks to Alderson and his braintrust, will have some pitching, and if offensive stats across the league over the past few seasons are any indication, this team will be uniquely positioned to remain competitive. And that’s a good thing Mets fans, that’s a very good thing.


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Mets Are 5-0 When Eric Young Jr. Steals A Base Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:17:37 +0000 USATSI eric young jr

There have been a lot of complaints about Eric Young. He doesn’t get on base enough. His batting average is too low. He shouldn’t be an everyday player. He should be the 4th outfielder.

Guess what? Speed Kills.

Stolen bases don’t produce runs?

Last year, I went through the Mets top stolen base seasons and wrote a post about how often runs were scored when both a stolen base was attempted and when an attempt was successful.

Who’s currently 4th in the Major Leagues in Runs Scored? Eric Young. Who’s currently 2nd in the Majors in stolen bases? Eric Young.

Eric Young is only 110th in batting average among qualifiers at .255 and 89th in on-base percentage – yet when he’s getting on base, he’s scoring. Why? Because he gets on first base and proceeds to get himself into scoring position. When runners get into scoring position, they score at a higher clip than when they stay stationary on first base.

On the young season (pun intended), EY has stolen 9 bases and has yet to be caught. He has scored 5 times after attempting a steal.

When Eric Young has made/attempted a steal, he has scored 56% of the time. In other words, if EY makes it to first base and attempts to steal… there’s a better than 50/50 chance he will score.

The Mets are 5-0 when Eric Young steals a base this season.

Roger Cedeno stole 66 bases in 1999 and scored 58% of the time after a successful steal.

Mookie Wilson had a career .314 OBP and his three best OBP seasons with the Mets were 1986-88 when he had OBP’s of .345, .359, and .345. He scored 90 and 91 runs on weak hitting Mets teams in 1982 and 1983 when he had OBP’s of .314 and .300.

Eric Young has a .344 OBP through April 16th.

If EY is at the top of the lineup and runs, he will score. Even with a lower OBP, he will score. If he continues to get on base at the clip he currently is and runs, we have a top flight run scorer right under our noses.

Presented By Diehards

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The Underwhelming Mets First Base Battle Sat, 08 Mar 2014 16:33:57 +0000 duda davis

We’re a week into spring training games and the big position battle we’ve been anticipating all winter has thus far been, shall we say…. underwhelming?

Ike Davis has calf tightness. Lucas Duda has leg stiffness. Pardon the pun, but are we dealing with a couple of stiffs?

In a battle for their Major League lives with millions of dollars in future earnings at stake for both players, neither one of them has taken the bull by the horns and said, “This job is mine!”

Sounds a lot like the last couple of seasons, doesn’t it?

So in their limited action thus far, how have the two lefty sluggers fared?

Ike Davis (2 Games) – .167 BA (1 for 6), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K, 0 BB, .167 OBP, .667 SLG

Lucas Duda (3 Games) – .286 BA (2 for 7), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 BB, .375 OBP, .857 SLG

Ladies and gentlemen – your first basemen.

Neither of the two are in today’s lineup and remain sidelined.

Eric Campbell, who has been playing first base predominantly in their absence, is batting .429/.467/.500 over 14 at-bats in six games.

(Photo Credit: Alejandra Villa, Newsday)

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Featured Post: Can Eric Young Have a .350 OBP If He Bunts More? Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:54:47 +0000 eric young

“Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.” Crash Davis, Bull Durham

That’s all it takes. One hit per week to turn a .250 hitter into a .300 hitter. It just so happens that Eric Young Jr. hit .249 last year. That would mean that if he could manage one more hit per week…just one more ground ball with eyes…just one more bunt base hit…he could be a .300 hitter and probably get his OBP up in the .350 range.

Terry Collins advised the media yesterday that Young could have a .350 OBP if he bunted more. It sounds like they want Young to play more of a Willie Mays Hayes style of baseball in 2014.

Here is what Metsblog contributor, Maggie Wiggin, tweeted in response to the Collins quote yesterday:

This tweet is accurate. Gaining an additional 20 bunt hits seems highly unlikely, but it leaves out one important fact—Young’s speed puts added pressure on the defense. That means if he bunts, the defense has to field the ball cleanly, and make a strong accurate throw in order to get the speedy Young out. Odds are, while he may not be able to accumulate 22-25 extra hits from bunts, he may be able to accumulate 10-15 more hits and get on base an additional 5-10 times due to errors made.

That’s hypothetical, but possible.

If Young added 15 more hits (less than one per week), that’s a .276 average and .330 OBP (based on his 539 at-bats in 2013). That is more realistic than saying Young can have a .350 OBP simply by bunting more.

While reaching base on an error is helping the team, it isn’t factored into OBP because it is looked at as luck. However, when your speed is causing fielders to rush, that isn’t luck, it’s skill. Even if it’s not reflected in his actual OBP, Young is impacting the offense by getting on base more often where the Mets can take advantage of his speed. So if he bunts more, hypothetically he will get on base more, even if it’s not reflected in his stats.

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Spring Training Battles: Will Consistency be Rewarded at First Base? Wed, 12 Feb 2014 14:52:28 +0000 lucas duda ike davis

In an article written Monday for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff asked 30 questions, one for each major league team as they head to spring training. Of the Mets, Davidoff asked the following.

“Who is the starting first baseman, and does the loser of the Ike Davis/Lucas Duda competition stick around?”

The answer to the first part of this question is still very much up in the air and will come down to pure production come springtime, but if overall consistency can serve as a projector, Josh Satin may win at least part of that starting job. We all want facts and stats to determine 2014’s starting First Baseman, and for those we will need to hang on a bit longer and wait for spring training to start. But until then, why not have a little fun? Here are Josh Satin’s slash lines (AVG/OBP/SLG) in each level of pro ball.

satin stats

Satin, through each tour in the Mets’ organization rarely faltered. His numbers dipped a bit when he joined the Mets’ midseason in 2013 but that was to be expected. It doesn’t appear that his numbers fell enough to suggest banishment to the minors forever. What is a bit worrisome is Satin’s K% of 25.3% that he posted once he joined the the big league team. This clip was the highest he had every posted. However, Satin accompanied that percentage with a 13.6 BB%, which in his first year of pro ball is a pretty nice mark. For a player who does not rely on raw power but on sharp, well-placed line drives a high BB% would be key in his overall success. Satin’s tremendous On Base Percentages throughout his minor league career offer encouragement that he may be able to bring those to the Majors.

This is not to suggest that Davis and Duda did not enjoy similar success in the Minors, they did. But we have seen both men prove less than successful in the Major Leagues. With Davis’ batting average hovering around .216 in his last two seasons and Duda posting a career -0.8 Wins Above Replacement, it is hard to figure that it will take a phenomenal spring for Satin to slide into that starting job. Ironically, the fact that Satin has played the least in the Major Leagues is what may prove to benefit him most significantly in the competition. Satin, with a strong spring could spark Collins to opt with the “lets try this guy” approach.

As for the second question offered by Davidoff, will the loser of the Davis/Duda competition stick around? I can’t imagine so and Sandy Alderson sounded like the loser could very well go to Triple-A, in his interview on WFAN on Tuesday, even adding that both still have minor league options.

Both Davis and Duda bat left-handed while Satin bats Righty. Joe DeCaro of MetsMerized offered an insightful article on the possibility of a platoon situation involving Satin and Davis with Duda falling by the wayside. The “winner” of this competition should prove to be the second piece of a platoon with Satin at First Base, while the loser heads back to AAA.

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Should The Best Hitter In The Lineup Bat Leadoff? Fri, 07 Feb 2014 01:32:47 +0000 david wright

The question posed in the title has been a hot topic in the MMO comment thread lately. I decided to take a look at this idea from a little different perspective and compare two players — Mike Trout and David Wright.

I remember the first time I heard about this idea of the best hitter in the lineup batting leadoff. The year was 1988, and I was 10 years old when one of my Little League coaches explained to us how the lineups worked in Japan. He explained that they bat their best hitter (the hitter we would consider a No. 3 hitter in America) in the leadoff spot. We asked him why, since it made zero sense to us. He said it was because they want their best hitter in the lineup getting up the most times in the game.

We were only 10 years old, so that was about as deep as the conversation went. But I always remembered it. I don’t remember where I was exactly, or the people that were with me, but I remember not knowing anything about Japanese baseball and taking it at face value. I never found out if what that coach told us was true, but with the rise of advanced statistics, there is tons of evidence that now backs this up as a feasible option.

It goes against everything we have grown up learning, but the fundamental reasoning behind it makes perfect sense. The leadoff hitter gets the most plate appearances in a game and is only guaranteed to hit leadoff once in a game, so why not have my best hitter there? The more opportunities my best player has to hit, the better the team’s chances of winning — seems simple enough.

I mentioned earlier I was going to compare two hitters — Trout and Wright. Wright has been the Mets No. 3 hitter for the majority of his nine year career. Trout spent most of his time in the two-hole last year, but has been one of the best leadoff hitters (when used in that capacity) in baseball over the past two seasons. The question is why is Trout sometimes used as the leadoff hitter when he puts up numbers that are better than most three-hole hitters? Wouldn’t he be better served in the three-hole? If he were on a different team, would he be the best option to hit third, or would that team have him hit leadoff? And one more question — if Trout can hit leadoff, why not Wright?

Let’s look at some statistics. Here are Trout’s career numbers when he leads off a game and when he leads off an inning:

1st Batter G 157 157 143 35 40 9 5 5 10 40 .280 .344 .476 .819
Leadoff Inn. 252 403 355 88 120 25 14 14 44 84 .338 .417 .544 .961

When Trout leads off a game his numbers drop way below his career marks. However, when he leads off an inning, all of his statistics are on par with his career numbers. About one-third of his homeruns have come when he led off an inning. The majority of his homeruns have come in the leadoff hole, but oddly enough, his highest OPS comes out of the two-hole.

In fact, one can argue that Trout is a better hitter when he hits second. By the way, Trout has zero career stolen bases after leading off the game or an inning and getting on base.

Now let’s look at Wright’s statistics. Here are Wright’s career numbers when he leads of an inning:

Leadoff Inn. 847 1153 1033 229 307 64 48 48 114 207 .297 .370 .512 .882

When leading off an inning, Wright has hit .297 with a .370 on base percentage. His career OBP is .382, so it’s slightly lower when he leads off an inning. His power numbers also drop off drastically. Could this be because he is being pitched differently when he is leading off an inning? Is it a comfort level? Whatever it is, Wright’s numbers are much better when he hits out of the three-hole.

Is it worth it to get Wright approximately 100 more plate appearances in a season if his production will drop off?

Here’s a brief story about my experience of hitting leadoff. I was finishing up an outstanding freshman year of college where I spent most of the time hitting out of the 3-4-5 hole in the lineup. Going into my sophomore year, the team lacked a leadoff hitter. I volunteered to move out of the middle of the order and hit leadoff — the coach agreed it was a great idea. Unfortunately things didn’t go as smoothly as we planned. I started the season in a 1-for-20 slump, and it wasn’t long before I was moved back to the middle of the lineup.

Obviously, it was all mental for me. Hitting leadoff should have given me more fastballs, and there is nothing I liked more than seeing fastballs. My numbers should have improved hitting leadoff, but they didn’t improve until the coach moved me back to the middle of the lineup.

Oddly enough, when I was looking up Trout’s numbers on for this piece, I stumbled onto a post on Peter Gammons’ blog. In this post he covers a sabermetric book entitled The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. This book highlights the optimal lineup and states the best hitters should be in the one, two and four-hole. Wait, what happened to the three-hitter? I’m not sure because I haven’t read the book yet. But here is a brief breakdown of the book from Gammons:

Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin analyze the data and conclude that the optimal lineup has a team’s three best hitters in the #1, #2, and #4 slots in the batting order. They outline the skill set that determines how these players are positioned. The leadoff hitter should reach base most often and less home run power is preferred. Meanwhile, the #2 hitter should walk more than the #4 hitter, who ideally has the most extra-base hits.
The number two batter comes to the plate more frequently than any batter other than the leadoff batter, often with the bases empty, so think of him as having the characteristics of a second number one in the lineup.

Again, the logic behind having your best hitters hitting as high in the order to get them more plate appearances is sound. Unfortunately, this is looking at it based on their performance of where they currently hit in the lineup. A large chunk of baseball, and hitting especially, is mental.

The stats won’t reflect the change that can happen to a hitter similar to what happened to me when I was moved to the leadoff spot. There is just no telling what can happen when a player is taken out of their comfort zone. There is a better chance that a player who is considered your best hitter hits just as good out of the leadoff spot, but there is also a chance it turns out to be the worst decision you ever made.

Long story short, you cannot assume your best hitter will still be your best hitter if you start putting them into positions they are not comfortable in.

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Hits & Misses: Mets Going Dutch, Still Searching For Reyes’ Replacement Mon, 03 Feb 2014 15:03:32 +0000 tejada Joshua Lott

On Saturday, we posted something about the article in the New York Times by Tim Rohan about some of the Mets players that were going to the strength and conditioning camp in Michigan run by Mets adviser, Mike Barwis.

The training program was voluntary, but it was the Mets who suggested to Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores that they go before the end of last season. Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda and prospects Dominic SmithPatrick Biondi and Phillip Evans also ended up attending once they heard about it.

What I thought was very odd, was this part of the article:

The program was voluntary, the cost split between the organization and each player.

Now maybe this is common practice, but I found it odd that the Mets didn’t completely fund this for each player. Especially in the cases of Tejada and Flores who probably knew if they declined to go that the media would have been leaked some negative info and before you know it they would make a hail storm out of it. You know it’s true…


The Mets’ lack of an ideal leadoff candidate has everyone in a tizzy lately, the least of which is the Mets’ own manager Terry Collins who recently said over the weekend that Eric Young is his primary leadoff candidate.

Of course that’s code for Eric Young will play everyday and Juan Lagares will likely be hitting the pine in Flushing or the sand in Vegas.

What I find odd is how quickly this front office has run from their Moneyball roots, especially when it comes to how they viewed hitters with high strikeout totals and low on-base percentages. Once thought of as a bad thing, they’ve become less important, while home runs and stolen bases are back on the featured menu.

Four Winters ago, I became hooked on the concept that at it’s most rudimentary level, the game depended on avoiding outs. I never looked at it that way before, but it made complete sense. As did having your best OBP guys at the top of your lineup. The reason being that you want those who are the best at getting on base to get the most playing time AKA at-bats. That made a lot of sense to me too.

But apparently, those things are not so important anymore. Young may not excel at getting on base, but he can steal bases, so…

Four Winters ago, Sandy Alderson downplayed Jose Reyes‘ speed saying that a stolen base was just a footnote when it comes to winning games.

Boy, how things have changed…

The truth is that this team has not been able to find anyone to replace Reyes both at the shortstop position or at the top of the order. I guess some players are irreplaceable after all…

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Mets Sign 1B Matt Clark To Minor League Contract Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:11:49 +0000 Matt-Clark-300x226The Mets announced they have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league contract and have invited him to big league camp.

A career minor leaguer, Clark played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan last season and batted .238 with 25 home runs, 70 RBI, and a .785 OPS.

Clark, 27, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 12th round of the 2008 draft. He last played for them in 2012 when he batted .290/.367/.506 for the Triple-A Tucson Padres in the Pacific Coast League. The lefthanded slugger belted 22 home runs and drove in 77 runs that season.

Clark has hit for power at every level of his six year pro career, averaging 24 homeruns and 90 RBI over his four full seasons in the Padres system. But with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda already on the roster, he will certainly be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas when camp breaks.

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