Mets Merized Online » patience Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Things We Learned From Terry Collins Today Mon, 05 Oct 2015 01:15:55 +0000 terry collins

The dust has settled, and the New York Mets are in the playoffs and will face the Los Angeles Dodgers sans home-field advantage beginning Friday, October 9.

With the postseason beginning next week, Terry Collins addressed a number of topics regarding the NLDS at his final regular season post-game press conference. Here are some of the highlights:

1.  The fun is only just beginning

“90 wins is a big step, it’s a huge step from where we’ve been and all the things we went through and to see the expression on their faces that they accomplished something. Even though they accomplished it last week, knowing what we’ve got ahead. I just talked to (Cespedes) and he said ‘the fun is just starting,’ and he is right. We’ve worked hard to get there and we’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to get ourselves ready this week and go out to LA and play like we know how.”

2. Bartolo Colon will be a “steadying influence” in the bullpen

“He brings a lot to the table and he’s going to be a steadying influence in that bullpen, we’ve got a lot of guys that are going to be in that bullpen in Los Angeles, so to have him sitting out there will help a lot.”

3. The Mets are confident in the rotation they’ve set for the NLDS

“I think Game 3 in a 5-game series is the pivotal game. So I told Matt a week ago, if we get in, you’re going to pitch Game 3. It’s big, it’s going to limit you obviously to the number of times that you’re going to pitch, which is part of the whole plan behind him saying ‘hey, I want to go out and pitch as much as I can at the end of the season.’

“And then we went with the guy who’s pitched the best all year, and that’s Jake deGrom. To have him start Game 1. Noah, who after his rest in September has been absolutely brilliant, he can go Game 2 and we’re going to come home and we have Matt taking the mound, so we kind of like the way it sets up and we’re going to let them go pitch their games.”

4. Terry appreciates the fan base’s patience, support

I sat here last October and told our fan base that their patience is going to be rewarded, but it was time for us to win. So I just wanted to go out an applaud them for all of their support. The last month, those series against the Nationals here. The energy in the stadium, I have never been around it, and the players talked about the importance of it all and so I just wanted to go around and thank everybody. You can’t shake everybody’s hand but just to let them know that we knew we were there, we appreciate their support and we promise to show them a good time come Friday.

5. Jim Leyland likes to throw stat books

“In ’92, we were getting ready for the playoffs against Atlanta when I was with Pittsburgh and all the information was not on a computer, it was in a binder that was about *this* thick. Jim Leyland at the end of the meeting took the binder and threw it up in the air and papers were flying all over the place and he said ‘understand something, this game is played by humans, who make mistakes.”

“So all the information we have is legitimate, but now we have to go out and execute it, and I think we have the guys who can go out and do that.”

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Terry Collins: This Is How You Win Pennants Sun, 23 Aug 2015 15:06:40 +0000 terry collins

Denver beat reporter Tracy Ringolsby of writes about how patience has paid off for Mets manager Terry Collins who is a big league manager for the third time.

He is having fun, writes Ringolsby, and it is not just because the Mets are in first place in the National League East. Mainly it is because Collins is so much more comfortable with his situation.

“I am much more patient,” Collins said. “That time in Houston if we lost a game I felt like it was my fault. I thought I had failed the team. The players could see it and they thought I was upset with them. I was mad at myself, but if affected the team. Now I make a decision. Some work, some don’t.”

“One thing I wanted to do here, was I told myself to enjoy it,” Collins said. “I told myself to have fun. It doesn’t change the way I do my job. I still work to find that edge every day, but this has really been fun.”

Fresh off the heels of consecutive 14-9 wins against the Colorado Rockies with a chance to sweep all seven games of the season series, Collins says his team is simply doing what good teams have always done – that is beat the bad teams.

“This is how a lot of teams win pennants. They beat teams you’re supposed to beat,” Collins told reporters after Saturday night’s game. “You come in here, and they play very good in their park. They’re tough to play here. You know what? We’ll go in tomorrow, hopefully Logan can give us five or six, and we’ll see where we’re at.”

“But this is a good stretch. It’s a stretch you’ve got to make hay, because we’re going to run into the Yankees, we’re going to run into the Nationals. We’ve got our work cut out for us. That’s why we’re taking each one we can get, because you don’t know what’s going to take place tomorrow.”

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Conforto Electrifies Packed Citi Field With Four-Hit Performance Sun, 26 Jul 2015 11:17:04 +0000 michael Conforto

What a breakout game for Michael Conforto who busted out in a huge way only a day after making his major league debut on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Conforto, 22, picked up his first major-league hit and then some going 4-for-4 with two doubles, four runs scored, and a nice running catch in left field.

“I got a little lucky on the first one, and that took a little load off and I could just relax,” Conforto said. “I guess I was confident to begin with, and that’s what helped me play well today and get those four hits.

Conforto is the first Met in franchise history to record a four-hit game within his first two career games and the second player in major league baseball to do it this year. Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs also did it in his second career game on June 17 at Cleveland.

Conforto Granderson

“This game takes it to another level. I have expectations and so what I want to do is have good at-bats every time I come up to the plate. That’s the goal.”

He is the fifth player in the last 100 years to score four or more runs in one of his first two major league games.

Matt Harvey was as impressed in his new teammate as anyone else in that clubhouse.  “It didn’t look like he was having any pressure at all,” Harvey said

“I mean, four hits. Spraying the ball to left field, center field, right field. We have the same agent. Hearing from Scott [Boras] what kind of hitter he is, what kind of hitter he seems him, he’s definitely coming into his own.” (ESPN New York)

“This is more of what I was dreaming about,” Conforto said. “Couldn’t have pictured it any better tonight. Obviously all the bats were going and we were scoring a lot of runs, and I got that first win for myself.”

“That’s pretty cool to be a part of that, to be part of the winning effort as a team. A lot of firsts tonight so that’s a good thing.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing out there on Saturday, he was up there with all the poise of a 10 year veteran. And call me crazy, but he looked like a vintage Keith Hernandez out there.

The ball just jumps off of his bat, and I just love his approach at the plate. I love that he doesn’t go up there trying to pull everything that he sees.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping that what we’re seeing right now is just a sign of great  things to come. But wow, what a show he put on in front of a packed Citi Field crowd.

July 25

Top Mets prospect Michael Conforto made his major league debut on Friday and while he went just 0-3, he made solid contact in each at-bat and picked up his first MLB RBI.

“It was like a dream for me,” Conforto said after the game. “This whole day was like a dream for me. I was just so excited.”

Conforto, 22, displayed a fluid and level swing, excellent balance, very quick hands, and most importantly, an ability to make contact.

“I thought he looked good,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got a good stroke. That’s the same stroke we saw in spring training. He’s got a nice approach, some patience at the plate. I was very pleased with what I saw.”

“I had a lot of fun out there. It didn’t quite go the way I probably dreamed it, but I think I did a lot of good things out there tonight. I got that first RBI. I felt comfortable out there, so that’s the most important thing. It just makes me want to come back tomorrow. I’m excited. I felt good.”

The Mets struggling offense could use any sort of spark and they are hoping that their top position prospect player could provide that.

However, Terry Collins says they are not looking for Conforto to be a savior. “I think he will be a nice piece and a nice addition, but we will be careful to keep the pressure off him.”

“He’s not going to play every day. But he will not be in a platoon either. There will be some days he’ll play and some days that he won’t.”

“He’s not going to play every day. But he will not be in a platoon either. There will be some days he’ll play and some days that he won’t.”

Conforto was the Mets first round draft pick (No. 10) last year. He has fewer than 600 plate appearances in the minors but he has been producing and really tearing it up at every level.

Conforto hit .331 during last summer’s pro  debut for the Brooklyn Cyclones. This season he skipped Single-A Savannah and began the year at Advanced-A St Lucie, batting .283 which is still impressive considering the Florida State League is a difficult place to hit.

That earned him a promotion to Double -A Binghamton, where he batted .312 and displayed an excellent approach at the plate with a good power stroke. After 45 games the Mets made the decision to call him up after Michael Cuddyer was placed on the DL.

Overall Conforto has posted a very respectable .471 slugging percentage in his brief minor-league career, striking out just 90 times in 520 at-bats, while walking 56 times. And as a left-handed slugger, he’s batted .280 vs southpaws.

Collins and Sandy Alderson had a little pep talk with him before last night’s game. “We told him that there will be a lot of eyes on him. But that the reason he is here is because he belongs.”

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Our Baseball Maverick Is Under Fire, Can He Revive Mets Season? Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:05:15 +0000 Sandy-Alderson

I wanted to address some of what’s been written about Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins and the Panic City Mets.

Joel Sherman – While upper management has insisted the dollars are there, executives from other teams say their Mets counterparts tell them that the budget is either tight or non-existent. Is that gamesmanship by the Mets to try to get competitors to lower demands or honesty? Because if it is honesty, that means the Mets brass is lying to their fan base through the New York media by saying they can spend.

Joe D. – This has been an issue for years now. It was back in 2012 that Fred Wilpon came to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie and proclaimed the financial problems were in the rearview mirror and that Sandy Alderson had no limits and could sign anyone he wanted. It wasn’t true back then and it’s still not true today. Unfortunately you still have too many writers and bloggers who twist and turn over Alderson, Collins, and the team in general, that shouldn’t be taken seriously because they’re either oblivious, willfully ignorant, or in cahoots with the Wilpons or MLB.  At this point, you have to be an ass-hat if you don’t know how negatively team ownership impacts this team.

Mike Vaccaro - Day after day, week after week, the Wilpons and their chief henchman, Alderson, have allowed the good will of a hot start and the patience of a fiercely loyal fan base and the daily magnificence of their pitching staff to disintegrate to the point where there’s no longer rage as much as resignation – to another lousy season, another year when a little aggression and a little imagination might have made a difference.

Joe D.  - While the team has played some awful baseball that has included way too many heartbreaking losses and punches in the gut, I disagree that team brass is already resigned to another losing season. It may very well turn out that Vaccaro is right, but I need to see what happens between now and the July 31 trade deadline before I throw Alderson completely under the bus. It’s still early and I don’t see many teams proclaiming themselves sellers yet. That’s not to say Alderson doesn’t deserve some blame. The $125 million he has had to spend has been largely wasted on the likes of Francisco, C. Young, Cuddyer, and aside from two hot weeks in two seasons, Granderson too. And he has yet to pull off one trade, that didn’t backfire, to acquire a top MLB offensive player. He’s been living off the good vibes of three smart dumps for prospects, while riding the coattails of Harvey, DeGrom, Familia and Matz, three of whom should be All Stars this year and neither of them his doing.

Joel Sherman – We have seen this con with this organization before. It often comes up when the Mets leak that they are monitoring a player in free agency, then the player signs elsewhere and they criticize how much the player was paid. It is all misdirection. “Monitor” is a fake-out to try to gain points from their fans for actively pursuing someone they had no intentions of signing and then the overpay is to shift blame to a greedy player rather than a parsimonious organization.

Joe D. – It’s amazing that you still have some Mets media and sites that are used as propaganda machines for the Wilpons. They’ll post rumors that the Mets are after Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gomez, etc. for weeks on end and never include the quotes from opposing GMs who laugh and say they haven’t spoken to the Mets in months, or that it’s a complete web-created fabrication. The problem I have with what Sherman says here is not that it’s not true, it’s a completely accurate description of business as usual for the Mets. My issue with this is that Sherman is a huge part of the problem and he’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

Bottom line? Collins has borne the brunt of the incoming fire for years now while Alderson has been the Teflon Don, making wisecracks, alienating many, and doing his thing. He’s in the fifth year, said he expects 90 wins, and also asserted he’d be disappointed if this team failed to make the postseason. He said these things to the team’s top customers, the season ticket holders.

He even implored one ticket-holder who said he was dissatisfied with how he addressed the offense in the offseason to please withhold judgement until we get a chance to see the offense play this season.

Alderson has a lot of explaining to do. And so do the Wilpons.

That’s all for now, more later…

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Steve Phillips Recollects Acquiring Mike Piazza Wed, 11 Feb 2015 20:39:23 +0000 New York Mets - 2003 Season File Photos

Today former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips discussed his decision to acquire Mike Piazza in a blockbuster trade with the Florida Marlins on MLB Network Radio (Metsblog). He explained that the best trade is often the one that you don’t make.

“Back in 1997, 1998, we had a good little team with the Mets, but we knew we needed some star power,” he explained, telling a story from his time as GM of the Mets. “I remember sitting in the owner’s box with Mr. Doubleday and he would say, ‘Fans here love stars, they love super stars,’ and so did Mr. Doubleday. And he said, ‘If we get a super star, we’ll fill this stadium up like we did in the 80s, so I really want you to focus on getting that super-star, marquee player.’”

“We kicked the tires on Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, and other guys that were out there,” Phillips said, speaking about his winter after the 1997 season. “But, it wasn’t until Mike Piazza came around (early in 1998) that we felt, after a bit of hesitation, let’s get him. And, it was the right move to make. In other words, we were better served having not gotten the other guys, even though we may have been able to put a deal together, because the right guy came along at the right time. So, there is a level of patience you have to balance with patience in order to move your franchise forward.”


This was easily the best move of Phillips’ tenure as GM. Piazza performed like a true superstar, and he was arguably the greatest Mets hitter of all time. Phillips dealt three top 100 ranked prospects in order to bring Piazza to Queens, but Preston Wilson was the only one who achieved any success in the majors.

While the perception of Phillips’ time with the Mets is unfavorable, the one attribute I admire about him was his aggressiveness. He made a lot of bold moves, and he wasn’t afraid of making any mistakes. Even though his risky decisions to acquire veterans like Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar and Bobby Bonilla backfired severely,  his boldness also propelled the Mets to success during the late 90′s and early 2000′s. His acquisitions of key players such as Piazza, Al Leiter  Robin Ventura and Mike Hampton resulted into one of the most exciting and memorable eras in Mets history.

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Alderson Ranked No. 23: Philosophy Is Right, But Execution Is Troubling Fri, 23 May 2014 17:05:53 +0000 sandy alderson

In their annual MLB General Manager Rankings, The Sporting News has Mets GM Sandy Alderson slipping all the way to No. 23 out of 30.

Patience is a virtue, to be sure, but the Mets under Alderson have not shown great ability to do much more than add young pitching to the organizational talent pool. The lineup remains as much of a nightmare as ever, and the list of players who have been mishandled in one way or another by the organization is long, from young players like Ruben Tejada to veterans like Kyle Farnsworth to those in between like Ike Davis. The philosophy is right. The execution is troubling.

Billy Beane ranked No. 1, and rounding out the top five were Ben Cherington of the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski of the Tigers, Brian Sabean of the Giants and Andrew Friedman of the Rays.

Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Phillies was ranked as the worst GM.



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Ruben Tejada Leads The Mets With A .400 OBP Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:22:40 +0000 ruben tejada

Don’t look now, but among Mets players with 20 or more at-bats on the young season, shortstop Ruben Tejada is second on the team in batting with a .286 average and he pairs that with an impressive team-leading .400 on-base percentage.

The young Panamanian native has taken a lot of flack over the last six months, but to his credit he’s been quietly going about his job and trying to put an abysmal 2013 season behind him.

Before last night’s 4-0 victory over the Braves, manager Terry Collins spoke about his starting shortstop’s performance thus far.

“I think Ruben certainly had some work ahead of him in spring training,” Collins said. “He’s started out this season probably the way you’d like him to. Confidence is up, his at-bats have been good, he’s played good defense. I think as we get into it and towards the warmer months, I think he’ll get better if we can keep him healthy. He’s going to play a lot. We gotta figure out some days off for him coming up here beyond this road trip, but he’s played very well so far.”

Tejada went 2-for-3 in Tuesday’s contest, driving in two runs and scoring another pair, but what has been tough to ignore is his growing confidence at the plate. He’s having some solid at-bats and squaring up the bat evenly against the ball.

Another thing worth noting is his patience at the plate which was on full display in his first at-bat against Braves starter Aaron Harang when he drew a five-pitch walk.

All in all it’s been a good start for Tejada who has hit in six of the team’s first seven games.

Defensively, Tejada committed his first error of the season in last night’s game, but he’s shown some significant improvement from the shaky defense he had exhibited this Spring and much of last season.

I’ve gotta tip my cap to him…

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The Mets’ Offensive Philosophy: Discipline vs Patience Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:03:23 +0000 wright murphy

There was a nice Q&A over on Metsblog with Mets’ hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who gave a little insight into what the Mets’ hitting philosophy is. Hudgens also spends a little time talking about Ike Davis and his recent woes, and seems pretty confident that he can turn things around.

Matt Cerrone highlights one quote in particular from Hudgens: “We want hitters to look for their strength, especially early in the count, from the first pitch to the fifth pitch, to the sixth pitch, when we’re in hitters counts we want to be aggressive on our pitch,” he said. “I mean, obviously, I’d rather see a double in the gap with two guys on than a walk. But, there’s sometimes during the game, David Wright‘s not going to get his pitch. I would rather him take the walk as opposed to swing at a marginal pitch and hit into a double play.”

I have one main concern with this quote—the player who qualified with the most pitches per plate appearance (P/PA), in 2013, was Mike Napoli, with 4.59. So nobody averaged five pitches per plate appearance last year. I was surprised to see that Eric Young Jr was the Mets’ player with the fourth-highest P/PA (minimum 100 games played). Young saw 3.74 pitches per plate appearance in 2013, which ranked him behind only Wright, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda. I am starting to see why the Mets are enamored with him hitting leadoff—but he has to show me he can get on base more before I jump on board.

Here is my major issue with what Hudgens said—why is Hudgens talking about the fifth and sixth pitch in an at-bat? Simple math tells you that by the time a hitter see five or six pitches, they will have two strikes and naturally be more defensive, not aggressive. It’s impossible to get to the sixth pitch in a count without two strikes on the hitter.

Pitches seen and success varies greatly. Curtis Granderson saw just under four pitches per plate appearance in 2013 (3.99). Chris Young, Davis and Duda also averaged over four pitches per plate appearance. What do these four guys have in common? All four of them have a tendency to strike out.

lucas duda homersThe terms “discipline at the plate” and “patience at the plate” come up quite often when discussing hitters’ approaches at the plate—especially if you are a Mets fan. This notion that the organization is teaching their hitters to be more patient is a questionable one to say the least.

The two terms sound like they mean the same thing, but actually are quite different.

Patience refers to working a pitcher, seeing all his pitches, and waiting for the right pitch to jump on. The hitter basically is waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake. Some hitters excel using this strategy, while others flop. Patience naturally leads to a higher propensity to strike out, since you are taking at-bats into deep counts. The count itself is in the pitcher’s favor—three strikes versus four balls—which is more likely to occur?

You have to have an incredible amount of skill and mental toughness to hit using the strategy of patience. I would argue that this skill cannot even be taught. Being patient forces hitters to hit from behind in the count often, which also contributes to higher strikeout rates for patient hitters. So while patient hitters tend to pile up the walks, they also pile up the strikeouts. You either have what it takes to hit using this strategy, or you don’t.

Patience should be reserved for top-of-the-order hitters. The batting lineup is designed the way it is for a reason and is technically a division of labor. The top two hitters’ jobs are to work the pitchers and get on base. The middle-of-the-order hitters’ jobs are to drive in the top-of-the-order guys. The tail end of the lineup is generally reserved for defensive minded players, so not much is expected.

You cannot force your 3-4-5 hitter to be patient at the plate. Patience is not a strategy that can be forced on every player and that is why speed is not the only determining factor for guys hitting at the top of the order. Those middle-order hitters should show good plate discipline, but not be patient.

Discipline at the plate is the ability of the hitter to lay off pitches that are close, only swinging at pitches in the strike zone. This can be taught to hitters, and as they gain more experience at the plate, their plate discipline will improve. Of course, as with everything else, some hitters are better than others in this area.

So which is better to have, strike-zone discipline or patience at the plate?

The answer is that it depends on what slot in the batting order the hitter is in. For my one and two hitters, I would prefer them to be more patient. I want them to get on base as much as possible, see as many pitches as possible so the heart of my order gets a good look at what the pitcher is bringing. This also gets the pitcher tired. We know being patient comes with a higher propensity to strike out, but it’s a necessary evil.

The rest of the guys in the batting order should have good plate discipline. This means that they aren’t swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone, and not giving away at-bats.

The Mets were tied for third in the major leagues with strike outs in 2013—1384 total. That number was good for one in every four at-bats. The Mets also had the sixth-lowest OBP in baseball last season (.306). They gave away a ton of at-bats.

One could argue that the Mets are being overly patient, which is not attributing to the team getting on base more, or scoring more runs. They should focus on being more disciplined, which means not chasing balls out of the zone, and not patience, which has attributed to higher strike out rates and lower on base percentage.

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Allan Dykstra: A Sabermetrician’s Dream Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:15:35 +0000 DykstraAllan Dykstra was drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He played his college ball at Wake Forest University, and the Demon Deacon was considered one of the top power threats in college baseball at the time.

Some considered Dykstra to be a better prospect than Ike Davis coming out of college, mainly because of his power and his ability to get on base. He was a sabermetrician’s dream player.

Maybe even Alderson believed this, which is why he went and traded for the first baseman that the Padres selected with their first round pick in 2008 while Alderson was the CEO of the team.

While some saw Dykstra’s potential, others considered him a guy whose game would not translate in the professional ranks.  He would have to undergo major swing overhauls if he was ever going to have success hitting with a wooden bat. Defensively, he would be limited to first base due to his size — 6 feet 5 inches tall and 240 lbs.

After a few lackluster years where Dykstra never batted over .270 in a season, he seems to be putting it together at 26 years old. In 2013, he had exceeded all of his offensive numbers from 2012 in fewer games played. Along with his 18 homeruns, he batted .274, and was getting on base over 40% of the time (.436 OBP). This was a breakout season for Dykstra.

His patience at the plate seems to be the difference in 2013, and one of his more impressive stats this year has to be that he walked as much as he has struck out. The combination of patience and power finally coming together has gotten Dykstra back on the radar.

It’s time to take Dykstra seriously—and why not, he played in his first professional All-Star game when he took the field with fellow Binghamton Mets players Cesar PuelloJosh RodriguezLogan Verrett and Jeff Walters during the Eastern League All-Star Game in New Britain, Connecticut on July 10.

Adam Rubin recently asked Dykstra if he thought he was back on the radar after his monster first-half of 2013. Dykstra replied, “I can’t personally say that. I hope that’s true. I’m having a great year. Personally, my confidence is back. I feel like I did when I got drafted, where I know what I’m doing with my swing. It’s not really up to me to decide if I’m back on the radar or not.”

Dykstra has definitely established himself as a prospect to keep an eye on moving forward. With first base wide open for the Mets, Dykstra’s performance in 2013 should not, and can not be overlooked. His winter league stint was cut short by a fractured fibula, but up until his injury, he hadn’t skipped a beat. Expect Dykstra to start the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, and put some pressure on the Mets regarding who their first baseman is for the next few seasons.

Check out Allan Dykstra’s exclusive interview with MMO’s Joe D. which you can read here.

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Discipline vs. Patience and The Mets’ Offensive Philosophy Mon, 25 Nov 2013 16:22:40 +0000 wright murphy

The terms “discipline at the plate” and “patience at the plate” come up quite often when discussing hitters’ approaches at the plate—especially if you are a Mets fan. This notion that the organization is teaching their hitters to be more patient is a questionable one to say the least.

The two terms sound like they mean the same thing, but actually are quite different.

Patience refers to working a pitcher, seeing all his pitches, and waiting for the right pitch to jump on. The hitter basically is waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake. Some hitters excel using this strategy, while others flop. Patience naturally leads to a higher propensity to strike out, since you are taking at-bats into deep counts. The count itself is in the pitcher’s favor—three strikes versus four balls—which is more likely to occur?

You have to have an incredible amount of skill and mental toughness to hit using the strategy of patience. I would argue that this skill cannot even be taught. You either have what it takes to hit using this strategy, or you don’t.

Patience should be reserved for top-of-the-order hitters. The batting lineup is designed the way it is for a reason and is technically a division of labor. The top two hitters’ jobs are to work the pitchers and get on base. The middle-of-the-order hitters’ jobs are to drive in the top-of-the-order guys. The tail end of the lineup is generally reserved for defensive minded players, so not much is expected.

You cannot force your 3-4-5 hitter to be patient at the plate. Patience is not a strategy that can be forced on every player and that is why speed is not the only determining factor for guys hitting at the top of the order. Those middle-order hitters should show good plate discipline, but not be patient.

Discipline at the plate is the ability of the hitter to lay off pitches that are close, only swinging at pitches in the strike zone. This can be taught to hitters, and as they gain more experience at the plate, their plate discipline will improve. Of course, as with everything else, some hitters are better than others in this area.

If the Mets were teaching their hitters to have advanced plate discipline, I would think that is a sound strategy. However, forcing hitters to be more patient could turn very skilled top draft picks into career minor leaguers and wash outs.

Baseball America recently listed Brandon Nimmo as having the best strike-zone discipline in the organization. He walked 71 times in 110 games played, good for a 14.8% walk rate. However, Nimmo also struck out 27.3% of the time. After looking at the stats, I would argue with Baseball America that Nimmo is patient at the plate, but doesn’t necessarily have good plate discipline due to the amount he strikes out.

Nimmo’s stats in 2013 would have me believe the Mets should be grooming him for a leadoff spot in the lineup. He has a solid walk rate and on base percentage, and the speed to be a solid table setter in the future. But his strike out rate leads one to believe that he swings at pitches out of the strike-zone too often.

Now let’s look at a couple of guys in the Mets organization that have excellent plate discipline—Kevin Plawecki and Jayce Boyd.

kevin plaweckiPlawecki should have earned the honors of best strike-zone discipline from Baseball America. Plawecki only struck out 8.8% of the time in 2013 with St. Lucie, and for his career, he is a guy that has only struck out about 10% of the time. He doesn’t walk as much, but his low strike out rate is a tell-tale sign of excellent plate discipline. Jayce Boyd is another guy that has about an 11% career strikeout rate but also earns walks at a similar clip.

Boyd and Plawecki both had better wOBA than Nimmo in 2013 as well. This is a more accurate way to determine offensive value than OBP.

So which is better to have, strike-zone discipline or patience at the plate?

The answer is that it depends on what slot in the batting order the hitter is in. For my one and two hitters, I would prefer them to be more patient. I want them to get on base as much as possible, see as many pitches as possible so the heart of my order gets a good look at what the pitcher is bringing which also gets the pitcher tired. We know this comes with a higher propensity to strike out, but it’s a necessary evil.

The rest of the guys in the batting order should have good plate discipline. This means that they aren’t swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone, and not giving away at-bats.

In an article by Mike Puma in the New York Post last April, the title read GM’s Message Gets Through as Mets’ Plate Patience Paying Off.

Dave Hudgens stated in the article that “if you see 150 pitches a game, there is a good chance you are going to win.” Sorry, but seeing 150 pitches in a game doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t generate runs. If this is so, then why don’t the Mets make the playoffs? Is it because other teams are more patient?

Sandy Alderson goes on to say in that same article that “It’s getting a good pitch to hit, and these guys are sorting through the pitches they are seeing to get something to hit. That approach is what really made us successful offensively in 2011 and the first half of 2012, and then we lost the approach. We couldn’t generate any offense in the second half of last year.”

In other words, Alderson and the Mets’ philosophy is taking the bat out of the hitters’ hands. They have the hitters waiting around for the beach ball to come down the middle of the plate or the pitcher to make a mistake. But what happens if the pitcher makes a mistake on the first pitch? What happens when that meatball comes down Broadway and you have trained your hitters like Pavlov’s dog to see a ton of pitches? Or better yet, what if that golden pitch never even comes?

wright and wilponDavid Wright has a much better idea of what the philosophy should be, and what he describes is a hitter having good plate discipline and not necessarily patience: “You want kind of a controlled aggressive,” Wright said. “If you get a good pitch early in the count, we want you to pull the trigger, but you can’t go up there with the idea of trying to draw a walk. I think that’s the result of having a good at-bat and having a plan.”

Thank goodness he understands. It’s probably why he performs so much better than the rest of the team offensively.

The Mets were tied for third in the major leagues with strike outs in 2013—1384 total. That number was good for one in every four at-bats. The Mets also had the sixth-lowest OBP in baseball last season (.306).

What that means is that being patient for the Mets, is not attributing to the team getting on base more, or scoring more runs. Trying to force the philosophy on players is not going to make it work.

A smart man that runs a team will evaluate the players on the roster, and then adapt a strategy that is best for those given players. This is why teams with lesser talent sometimes break through and have outstanding seasons. The Mets offensive philosophy cannot be unilateral. If you force Robert Griffin III to be a pocket passer, he won’t be as effective of a player—if you want a pocket passer you draft or trade for one.

The same rules apply in baseball. The Mets need to build an offensive philosophy around the players they have on the roster and not expect everyone to just be able to conform because they have proclaimed this as the philosophy. Either they adapt the philosophy to the current players, or bring in the players that will fit with the philosophy. That is the only solution.

While I know there is disdain amongst the fan base with regards to players who get walks, keep in mind that seven out of the top ten teams in the league in walks made the postseason in 2013. While the Mets’ team philosophy may not be the best fit for the current players on the roster, they may be on to something with regards to walks and plate discipline which contributes to overall team success.

Presented By Diehards

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Featured Post: Are We Giving Up Too Quickly On Ike Davis? Mon, 11 Nov 2013 16:44:28 +0000 babe ruth

Everybody loves a home run slugger. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of watching batters with pop in their bats blast the ball out of the park whenever they step to the plate. Yet, in the post steroid baseball era, consistent home run sluggers, guys that can be counted on to hit thirty or more home runs year after year, is diminishing.

Soaring individual home run totals were a rarity in 2013. Only two major league sluggers, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera went yard 40 or more times with Davis leading the major leagues with 53 four-baggers and Cabrera finishing second with a healthy 44.

Only 12 other big leaguers hit 30 or more homers in 2013, and just three from the National League. In fact, since 2010, National League sluggers pounding 40 or more HR’s have become nearly extinct. Ryan Braun did it in 2012, but no other NL batter has reached that magic total over the last four years.

Take a look at baseball’s four year home run totals.


The 2013 season was an especially disastrous one for longball hitters in the National League. Only three NL batters went yard 30 or more times this summer. That’s stunning.

Let’s hope it’s not a trend. With so many Met fans clamoring to add a HR slugging bat to our roster during this off-season, it does make you wonder just where that bat would be coming from.

In yesteryear, many sluggers showed uncanny consistency stringing together seasons with 30 or more home runs. Mickey Mantle did it 8 straight times. Willie Mays had a run of 11 of 13 years missing each of his off-years by a single home run. Met great Mike Piazza had a run of 11 of 12 seasons, Mike Schmidt 14 of 15, and Willie Stargell 15 of 17.

Unlike the old days, consistency of this sort in recent years is hard to find. Since 2010, Miguel Cabrera is the only player to total 30 + home runs every year. Five players; Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre and Jay Bruce have reached that mark in three of the last four years.

Examining the home run totals unearthed some real surprises. David Ortiz never hit more than 20 home runs until he was 27 years old. Rafael Palmeiro never climbed to 30+ HR’s until he was 28. Justin Upton has only reached 30 dingers once in seven big league seasons. Adrian Beltre, consistent since 2010, had his first 30+ home run season in his 13th big league year. Matt Kemp has only had one 30+ home run total in eight seasons, Joey Votto one in seven campaigns, and Robinson Cano has reached 30 or more HR’s once in his nine years in the big leagues.

And, even the great home run sluggers many times had a disastrous campaign, at least on their standards, somewhere along the line. For example at 26 years old, Willie McCovey hit .220 with 18 HR’s and only 54 RBI’s. When he was 27 years old, Mark McGwire hit 21 HR’s with 75 RBI’s, batted .201 with a .383 slugging percentage. It happens.

All these home runs numbers leave me wondering about Ike Davis. It’s not like Ike Davis doesn’t have the power potential to hit the ball out of the park. Just one season removed, Davis put himself on the 30+ leader board slamming the ball out of the yard 32 times, with all but 5 of those home runs coming in his final 100 games.

The beginning of the 2013 season was a train wreck for Davis. After he was demoted to Las Vegas, he returned to Flushing and was showing improved offensive output when an oblique injury put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season.

Every indication leads Met fans to believe the front office has run out of patience with Davis. The fear of the demoralizing effect a third straight ice cold spring would have on the team has trumped the longball potential Davis brings to the team.

With so few baseball sluggers slamming the ball consistently our of the park (only 3 – 30+ HR hitters in the NL in 2013) and with no other internal promising options at first base at the moment, I can’t help but wonder if this direction is unwise or premature.

Every time I think I have run out of patience with Davis, I consider the alternative, Lucas Duda, and I find a little extra patience in my tank. There is very little difference in their stat line, although, Duda’s defensive WAR totals, whether as an outfielder or a first baseman are scary.

              AB     R   2B  HR  RBI   BA    OBP   SLG   OWar  DWar
Lucas  Duda   1,104  134  58  44  153  .246  .342  .424   3.6   -6.3
Ike  Davis    1,488  196  81  67  219  .242  .334  .434   4.2   -1.5

On paper, the differences seem pretty insignificant. In my gut, there’s a much wider gap that tips in favor of Davis. When I consider both Davis and Duda in terms of positive potential at someday regularly posting 30+ HR numbers, I come down on the side of Davis again. And, when I consider which guy I want patrolling the bag at first base, especially with an infield of questionable defensive acumen, it’s Davis by a long shot.

If the Mets don’t go outside the organization to fill their first base needs, I think they need to think long and hard about who they tab as next year’s starting first baseman. The cost of now is sometimes a loss for the future. Patience never guarantees longterm success, but it dramatically increases the odds.

not typical metsmerized

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Featured Post: Three Years In And Things May Be Worse… Mon, 04 Nov 2013 16:15:26 +0000 alderson wilpon

I got an email the other day asking me why I always downplay the Mets going after players like Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury or Carlos Beltran. The reader wanted to know why I’ve become such a pessimist. My response to her was simple. “I don’t trust the people in charge, hence I’m skeptical of anything they say.”

In the Fall of 2010, nobody was happier to see Sandy Alderson and company take control of this team than I was. It was time for change and on the heels of the Bernie Madoff fiasco, who better to run this franchise than three of the four people that figured prominently in the success of the Moneyball A’s, right?

I figured Sandy, DePo and Ricciardi were the perfect tonic for the financial purge that was to come.

“Moneyball with money,” Paul DePodesta called it with a big smile as he cited the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees as two such models.

Wow, maybe this isn’t going to be as painful as I thought….

But here we are three years later and still no closer to contention than we were when this whole thing started.

Where are all the moneyball signings that were going to exploit all the market inefficiencies and make the Mets a championship caliber team by 2014? Can you see them?

The 2013 baseball season is officially over and the Mets head into year four of whatever it is you want to label this era – just don’t call it moneyball.

We now rush headlong into an offseason of complete uncertainty with more weaknesses now than we had in 2010. First base is a mess, so is the outfield, and so is shortstop. The catching position is still a big unknown as is the front and back of the rotation, and most of the bullpen. Our ace Matt Harvey is lost for the season, nobody knows if our closer Bobby Parnell will be ready, and Travis d’Arnaud didn’t exactly hit the ground running – so much so that Sandy Alderson has expressed real concerns and made finding a veteran backup a top offseason priority.

So after three years what exactly do I have to be excited about? That our minor league won-loss record was outstanding?  That our bullpen ERA is ranked 14th instead of 15th? That our offense led the league in strikeouts while posting an abysmal .306 on-base? That our second best hitter is the subject of rampant trade rumors because he’s due to make $6 million in arbitration?

I gotta be honest, I’m running out of patience…

Running out of patience with an ownership who continues to be less than forthcoming and has made my fandom disjointed… Patience with a front office that has fallen far short of their top billing and were never up to the task of contending on a shoestring which was supposed to be their forte…

I gave them their three years and outside of all the hollow words and empty promises, I see a team that is broken and still in a state of chaos and utter disrepair.

So how can I go into this offseason believing that we’re really going to spend when everything inside me believes it’s a lie?

I love my team so much and it kills me to see them in such an incredibly bad place. The downward trend I thought would reverse itself has only gotten worse.

This team has no credibility and no real identity.

Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons are the faces of the franchise and that sucks.

Did they think they could bribe us or buy our loyalty by signing David Wright to that $140 million deal? Do they think we are that ignorant? It was just a ploy… It was just another gimmick… The Wilpons love gimmicks…

The only thing that will change this teams fortunes and make them the contender they promised for 2014 is money – money I don’t believe they have. Actually, let me clarify that… Money that they have but are unwilling to spend.

I’m tired of waiting… I’m tired of losing…

I don’t believe the front office or team owners feel the same way…

This plan we keep hearing about sounds more and more like a sham with every passing day…

The offense is a disaster and in three years we haven’t been able to add one legitimate major league bat to the active roster. Again, where are all these moneyball signings? Where are all these on-base machines? How is it possible that we haven’t upgraded one position in all this time and in fact downgraded across the board?

This is a disaster…

The only legitimate bat on this team is Wright and he was here long before this regime got here… So was the second best hitter, Daniel Murphy

Where are all these ingenious draft picks? Will any players selected under three years of DePodesta appear on the upcoming Baseball America Top 100? I don’t think so… How is that even possible?

You want hear something really scary?

I believe that Lucas Duda will be your first baseman in 2014 and that waiver-wire pickup Eric Young Jr. will be your starting left fielder. Add in Wright, Murphy, d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares and all of a sudden you show up on Opening day with basically the same bottom ranked offense from a year ago.

Even if they do find and sign a 25 home run bat for right field – technically all he does is replace Marlon Byrd. And even if we do somehow get Stephen Drew, so what? Will the difference between him and Ruben Tejada be enough to make a significant enough impact?

I understand the extreme conditions Alderson was navigating in, but he knew the circumstances and still took the job so I won’t hold a pity party for him… Nobody put a gun to his head and believe me he’s being compensated better than most GMs.

Every year we seem to be moving the goal posts and the worst part of that is the lack of accountability…

I’m sick and tired of hearing about this bright future that keeps getting pushed further back every year… We are not the only team focusing on the draft and building the farm – all teams do that – there’s nothing unique happening here.

I love this team, but I wish we had owners and executives who love this team too… If we did we wouldn’t be worse off today than we were three years ago…

So yes I’m a confirmed pessimist… The only think that can change that is a front office and ownership that can convince me that they want to win as badly as I do…

So far, I’m not seeing that…

I’m not cut out to be a pessimist… And I’m mad as hell that these guys have done this to me…

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Five Things I Love & Hate About You Fri, 27 Sep 2013 19:00:42 +0000 fans sad angry citi field empty seatsBeing a baseball fan brings out the best, and sometimes the worst in people of all walks of life. Being a fan of a bad baseball team often brings magnifies those characteristics.

I’m not talking about terrible things like racism, sexism, or God forbid acts of violence like we saw recently with the Giants and Dodgers. Those thoughts, whether they are an unfounded accusation or an actual action are wrong no matter the situation. They do not belong in a discussion about the game, that’s for sure.

I’m talking about patience, optimism, pessimism, loyalty, and cynicism.

I was always taught that when you’re delivering bad news, start with the positive first.

I am absolutely amazed by any Mets fan who sits and watches the Mets voluntarily right now. Whether you purchase a ticket to the game, or watch the game – my hat is off to you.

With so many other options for better entertainment such as the NFL, Duck Dynasty, NCIS or paint drying, I don’t know how you do it, but I am thoroughly impressed by it.

That level of loyalty is something that should be admired.

There are many, like myself in fact, who have been waiting for the 2014 off-season for the last three years. The upcoming off-season is when many Mets fans expect to see action with regard to shaping this roster for a competitive season.

We’ve been through the trades that needed to be made, we’ve been through the free agents that couldn’t be signed, and we’ve been through the contracts that had to come off the books.

The farm looks healthy-ish, and now it’s time to prove that the Mets (like many other teams) can maintain a farm system while also competing during the regular season.

That level of patience is hard to come by. Understanding that you can’t have something now because you hope it will be better tomorrow is a tough pill to swallow. Many have given the Mets the time they needed to figure this out, and I think everybody is likely on the same page regarding 2014. I don’t need a canyon of hero’s parade in 2014, I need action, and I need legitimate competitive baseball.

It’s time for patience to be rewarded.

There’s those of you who are optimistic about the future. Optimistic that everything with Matt Harvey will be okay, and optimistic that kids like d’Arnaud, Flores, Lagares etc. will be key pieces toward a competitive 2014 if surrounded by the right players.

matt harveyWith regard to Harvey, I wish I could say I share your level of optimism, but I’ve seen this story before written in Mets blue and orange and it doesn’t end well. The truth is, Harvey is trading 2014 for the next 5 years of his career and that’s a huge risk and one that I am not sure was worth taking. You’re optimistic though, so you keep on keepin’ on and hopefully I’ll come around!

I guess that is a good segue toward pessimism. I’m a wait and see kind of guy. I like the idea of Harvey-Wheeler-Syndergaard along with Niese and Gee and many others, but I want to see that it can work before I just assume it’s going to be as good as I hope. Oftentimes we’ve learned, it’s never as good as we hope.

I don’t believe in Josh Satin the way Joe D does. I think he’s the type of player that if he’s in your opening day lineup – you have a problem.

I saw Wilmer Flores struggle in 100 AB’s and I worry that maybe he’s all hype. The same can be said about Travis d’Arnaud. At this point heading into 2014, the Mets need two corner outfielders, a shortstop, a first baseman and a legitimate backup catcher in case Juan Centeno or d’Arnaud do not prove ready for a full time gig.

That gets us to the worst of the worst in my view. Cynicism to me is one of the worst traits to have as a baseball fan.

From the final out in game 162, you’re going to hear everybody’s views on what the Mets WILL do in 2014. Not what they hope they do, but what they WILL do. It’s all going to be negative also. It’s all going to be centered around money, contracts, and draft picks. Want to know the truth though?

The truth is, just like trade rumors in the month of July – 99% of the stuff that comes out about a team’s offseason plan is simply there because a blank piece of paper looks boring. The truth is, nobody knows what WILL happen. Nobody knows whether the Mets will sign players, nobody knows what potential trades could be out there. But, because people want to equate 2011 with 2014 for the sake of being negative, we’re going to pretend we have a clue as to what will happen.

I don’t see value as a baseball fan in deciding my favorite team won’t acquire players just because I haven’t been happy lately. I don’t see value as a fan in always assuming the worst. Why get mad about December 2013, in October 2013?

There’s plenty of time to react to action or inaction that pre-emptively doing so, to me seems like a waste of time and effort.


Oscar Wilde once said “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

The Mets fan has been through a lot in the past 8 seasons, and we all deserve a chance at redemption and satisfaction. Whether you like it or not, that satisfaction can only come due to acquisitions made by Sandy Alderson.

If you root against him, you’re rooting against the Mets. I understand not being happy with the last three seasons, but the only way things will change right now – is if he changes them.

You may call me a kool-aid drinker or whatever you’d like – I call myself a realist.

If you head into the 2014 season begging to be disappointed, then nothing they do will ever make you happy enough to buy back in, so you might as well set your DVR and find something else to do with your time.

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Do You Still Believe Or Have The Mets Lost Your Trust? Mon, 16 Sep 2013 17:07:05 +0000 alderson wilpon

In case you missed this, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post hits the Mets over the head as they conclude their fifth consecutive losing season, all while they try to convince fans that next season will be different… Again… So far, they were right… It’s always been different as they continue collecting even more losses with few signs of life on the MLB roster.

After the season ends, Sandy and Jeff will hit the airwaves with their feel good stories asking fans once again to “trust us”…

Vaccaro says that while the Mets are about to conclude a fifth straight year of excruciating, exasperating and entirely infuriating baseball, they have asked a dwindling fan base for an endless supply of patience while providing a bottomless slate of empty, awful results.

On that note, I’ll let Vaccaro deliver the gut-punch…

The Mets want you to believe the “but” is coming, that by this time next year you will see the ancient corporate credo of “meaningful September baseball” visit Citi Field, that you will be transported to those halcyon years of 1969 and 1986 and 2000 soon enough. They are, in fact, banking on that, banking on you to believe them, and this is the most compelling evidence they can provide:

Because we said so. Trust us.

And that’s tremendous, really, because if there has ever been a trustworthy bunch, it’s the men who own and operate the Mets. Trust us, they say, even as attendance declines and ratings diminish, even as they’ve been forced to take their top farm club to Nevada because they were chased out of Buffalo by an affiliate that grew to abhor them.

Even as they’ve been abandoned by WFAN, a move that has hit a lot of Mets fans like an anvil to the skull even if it’s shocking the station lasted this long with them.

Trust us, they say, even as it appears they’re about to grant Terry Collins another mulligan for another September when the Mets aren’t even remotely competitive, three straight years now, the wrong kind of pattern. Trust us, they say, as they apparently choose to ignore the fact that Wally Backman made the playoffs at Triple-A with an ever-transient roster and that so many of their fans want, at the least, to see Backman in a major league role next year.

Trust us, they say, we’ll spend money this year, even as there remains a lot of doubt just how much money the Mets have to spend. Trust us, they say, we know the kind of roster we want to build — even if nobody has yet sufficiently explained how the most valuable commodity the Mets had in building that roster — Matt Harvey’s right arm — was kept out of an MRI tube while they knowingly allowed him to pitch with soreness building.

Trust us, they say, even as an army of fans insists they will stay away until the Wilpons sell. And though that would be a positive step, it does not guaranteed prosperity (Many Mets fans are Jets fans who pined for the day Leon Hess would sell. How’s that worked out so far under Woody Johnson?).

Trust us, they say, as they plead patience even as the Yankees, decimated most of the year, stayed competitive with castoffs and spare parts playing much of the first four months — even as they see how a trustworthy baseball brain trust operates.

Trust us, they say.

Do you? Will you? Can you?

woud i lie to you

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Lucas Duda Getting His Chance To Shine At First Base Sat, 14 Sep 2013 13:26:09 +0000 lucas duda

When New York Mets manager Terry Collins railed at his listless team for not taking advantage of the opportunity to make an impression toward 2014, he had Lucas Duda in mind.

“This is his chance to play every day at first base. That’s where he likes to play,’’ Collins said last night. “We’re hoping he relaxes at the plate. He doesn’t have to worry about playing defense because he knows he can play first.’’

This is the third year the Mets hoped Duda would emerge as their lefty-hitting slugger, and the third time he has disappointed.

However, in Friday night’s 4-3 victory over Miami, Duda responded with a three-run homer in his chance to play with the injured Ike Davis sidelined. Duda has outperformed Davis statistically this season, hitting .236 with 13 homers, 30 RBI and a much-improved .351 on-base percentage.

Even so, Davis has the 32-homer 2012 season on his resume.

The Mets began the season with the offensive approach of patience, of working the count, waiting for and then driving your pitch. The rap on Duda was he became too selective and subsequently too passive at the plate.

But, playing in New York is about right-now production and Duda’s critics were far less patient with him than he was at the plate. While the final two weeks is about making an impression over Davis, everybody knows there will be a sense of urgency come spring training.

The experiment at the start of the year of Duda in left field – after playing right field the previous season – is over. It effectively ended when Duda went on the disabled list with a strained intercostal muscle. Duda lacks speed and range to complement his poor defensive skills, and there was no way he’d get back in the lineup after the acquisition of Eric Young.

At one time this summer there was the feeling the Mets would not tender a contract to Davis and Duda would get first base by default. However, Duda’s power output wasn’t what the Mets hoped, and when Davis showed signs of patience after his return from Triple-A, management’s thinking changed to keeping Davis and have the two battle it out in spring training.

Part of their thinking is that whoever wins, it will be an inexpensive option, and with first base covered they could fill other holes.

The Mets won’t carry two lefty first basemen, and with right-handed hitting Josh Satin available in a platoon, the loser would either go to the minors or be traded.

The homer last night is what the Mets want, but after the game Duda wouldn’t bite on reporters’ questions speculating the future.

“I’m just more concerned with winning and playing well,’’ Duda said. “Whatever they do is up to them. I’m just going to play hard, have fun, and hopefully continue to win.’’

Those comments are about playing the good soldier and saying the right thing, but what the Mets really need from his is to be aggressive and mash.

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The Excitement Of Following Mets Baseball, Even If Its Only In The Minors Fri, 06 Sep 2013 14:10:55 +0000 Kevin Plawecki goes yard.

Kevin Plawecki goes yard.

Having the opportunity to follow the Mets Minor league teams has been such a rewarding experience.  Being a Mets fan for so many years, I have limited myself to only worrying about the big club, which has truly limited me to really knowing what the Mets have in their farm system.  When I took on the task to pick the Mets Minors Player of the Week, I had to truly engulf myself into each team and really get to know each player.  It seemed to be a daunting task at first to follow 6 teams in the 6 levels of the Mets farm system. Now that task didn’t even include the Gulf Coast League and Dominican League teams.  But what I found was more of an excitement for the talent pool that the Mets have in their farm system than I thought I could have.

I started to question the mere ignorance that a lot of us Mets fans have when we worry about where the next star will come from, does it have to be a free agent signee, do we have to trade away the future to just get a player that might be past his prime, or do the Mets truly have diamonds in the rough just waiting for their time to shine.  I have to admit I never really knew what the Mets had, but these past two months, I have realized that not only do the Mets have some great young ball players, they have great organizations within the farm system.  This season alone proved that with the 4 out of the 6 teams making the playoffs and the remaining two in contention to the final week of the season.

The future does look so bright for the Mets organization and if the players are handled in the right manner, we fans will get to experience some real good talent come through the system.  The hope is that the Mets do not get rid of too many to try and land a superstar, because what I can see are a few superstars waiting to shine.  Now it may not be as immediate as we would like to hope, but if we can have a bit of patience with them, the future of the Mets looks great.

Allan Dykstra rips one.

Allan Dykstra rips one.

I have been able to follow the Las Vegas 51’s and watch as a number of players moved from the team to the Big Club and they still put together an amazing run through the season to capture the Division Crown. The excitement of watching the B-Mets dominating surge to the top of their division along with the 2013 Eastern League MVP Allan Dykstra and 2013 Manager of the Year Pedro Lopez.  To be able to watch the likes of St Lucie Mets own Dustin Lawley (2013 Florida State League MVP) and Bronx native T.J. Rivera (2013 Florida State League Hits Winner). The Sand Gnats surge to the top in the first half and a big win in game 1 of last nights opening round of the playoffs. The Cyclones young talented stars like L.J. Mazzilli and Gavin Cecchini who helped the team to complete the 13th consecutive season of playing .500 or better and the Kingsport Mets dominating pitcher Robert Whalen and a great group of players worth getting excited about.

The 2013 Mets farm teams have put together a great summer worth getting excited about.  No matter what happens in the playoffs, they have accomplished a great feat and as the players continue to develop and grow through the system, it will only enhance the talent that the Mets have and each organization will continue to strive.

The exciting part of it all is waiting for the day that these players will wear the orange and blue at Citi Field and then we will truly watch the future unfold.  Some have already made the trek and have been successful and others are on the way. So as a Mets fan, we have so much to look forward to, it will just take a little bit of patience, but I know I am willing to wait.  Lets Go Mets 2014 and Beyond.

(photo credit: Gordon Donovan)

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Featured Post: Patience Is Bitter…But It’s Fruit Is Sweet Tue, 02 Jul 2013 15:11:01 +0000 Patience was never really a word you would hear when it comes to New York fan bases. Now, possibly more than ever, Mets fans with the exception of a vocal minority are practicing patience with regard to their expectations for this franchise.

I know it’s tough to be a fan especially in New York and think “we’re almost there,” especially after 2006 – but the situation is what it is. I’m trying to embrace it and hope for the best rather than live in a constant state of negativity toward a baseball team.

Zack Wheeler is going to be the ultimate test for so many fans, and even the coaches and front office.

Control was always Wheeler’s biggest flaw, and what Wheeler becomes will be the truest form of evaluation for Dan Warthen. I didn’t even want Wheeler called up in 2013 because I feared the possibility of being sent back down to work on his control which could crush the kid. He’s here, he needs to stay here and Warthen needs time to work with him first before we decide anybody’s fate.

Everybody loves to mention the pitching coach when a pitcher fails. Nobody mentions that Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell or even Matt Harvey when it comes to evaluating Warthen. The truth is, none of us know what impact he’s had whether it be positive or negative. With Wheeler, I think we’ll all be able to tell – but we have to be patient and allow him some time to actually work with Wheeler.

In my lifetime, nobody was better with his control than Greg Maddux. Maddux threw over 400 major league innings before he turned 23. His WHIP was a 1.42, and his BB/9 was a 3.4 with a K/9 at 5.4. In all reality, Maddux didn’t really figure it all out until he was 25 years old. From 25-37, Maddux’s BB/9 rate went down to a 1.5 with his K/9 rate jumping to a 6.5 paired with a 1.055 WHIP.

Isn’t it interesting that Maddux’s control success seemed to coincide with his arrival in Atlanta under pitching coach Leo Mazzone?

I’m in no way comparing Wheeler to one of the greatest pitchers of all time. However, I am trying to point out that control issues can be something a pitching coach can help a pitcher with and for Warthen there is no greater opportunity than with Wheeler. If Wheeler cannot get it together under Warthen, then it will be time to bring a new coach in.

For fans, the realization that not every young pitcher can be Matt Harvey out of the gate and that it takes time to figure out how to pitch in the big leagues. I’ve gone on record to say I think Wheeler should be the main trade chip to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, but if that cannot happen – then we need to be patient with him as he figures out a way to be a big league pitcher.

There was a lot of hype around Wheeler, there’s no denying that. The hype was created when fans and local media learned who Wheeler was on the day Beltran was traded. We all read the reports, and we judged the trade from that standpoint. I’d still make the trade happily, but I think some of us penciled him in as an automatic. The truth of the matter is, there’s nothing automatic about baseball players whether young or old.

If I told you that in 1,705 games Albert Pujols would hit 445 Homeruns, drive in 1,329 runs and hit with a 1.037 OPS you’d call him one of the greatest players to ever play the game. We all did. At 31 years old, names like Fox, Aaron, Mantle and Robinson were being tossed around when comparing Pujols in a historical sense.

Now, in 234 games he has hit 43 HR, driven in 154 runs and has an OPS of .822. An OPS of .822 isn’t really all that bad, but when you were on a path to becoming one of the greatest players ever – it’s borderline horrifying.

If Pujols isn’t a guarantee, then nobody is.

We as fans as well as the franchise itself need to practice the art of patience. Patience would have meant Nolan Ryan in a Mets uniform long term. Patience could have meant Heath Bell as the Mets closer during the two years the Mets desperately needed relief help. Patience is a funny thing, nobody likes to lose – but sometimes you need to go through some rough times before things get better.

The truth of the matter is, nothing Wheeler does or can do will turn this franchise around overnight. The Mets still need to figure out their 1B and SS situation, along with a long term solution in the OF.

The best thing for Wheeler right now is to continue to work, and figure out a way to get the talent that everybody says he has and translate it into a big league pitcher.

He doesn’t need to be an ace, he just needs to be an effective pitcher. His success is in all of our best interests, and so I hope everybody, fans, coaches and executives practice a little patience when it comes to Wheeler. Every bad outing doesn’t make him a hopeless cause, and every successful outing doesn’t make him Tom Seaver.

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”

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The Sandy Alderson Improvement Plan Mon, 17 Jun 2013 14:31:17 +0000 It was the stuff of Candid Camera.

It has since become known as the “Marshmallow Experiment.” In 1960, Stamford Professor Walter Mischel, wanted to find out whether delayed gratification, having to wait before attaining a satisfying outcome, was healthy for people. Mischel devised a study to find out.


Mischel brought together a group of young children in a test study. Each child was taken into a room where they were presented with a marshmallow. The youngsters were told they could eat the marshmallow whenever they wanted. They were also told if they waited without eating the marshmallow they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow treat.

Mischel left the room and didn’t return for 15 minutes. The children were taped. Some gobbled their marshmallow almost before Mischel could get out the door. Others waiting in agony fighting off the temptation to consume their prize wanting a second marshmallow.

In a testimony to his ability to delay gratification, Mischel, studied the youngsters for years after the experiment recording data about different facets of their lives. The results were astonishing. In almost every category, the youngsters who were capable of delaying the need to instantly consume their marshmallow outperformed those who could not. Those who showed an early ability to delay gratification had fewer behavior problems, lower stress, developed stronger friendships and social networks, and performed better academically, including SAT results.

Yale researches have also studied the topic concluding that people demonstrating delayed gratification provided more stimulation to a particular part of the brain. The Yale researchers proved a link between intelligence and delayed gratification and self-control.

This should be great news for Mets fans. Over the last three seasons, Met fans have received a more than healthy opportunity to test our delayed gratification capabilities. For many of us, that means around the corner, sometime in the future when the Mets return to respectability, we should have less of a likelihood to get into trouble, experience less stress, stop whining and complaining and maintain more friends, and, by heavens, we’re already smarter.

In his Sunday “Shooting from the LIP” column, New York Daily News sportswriter Mike Lupica signaled the days of delayed gratification for Met fans could soon be over. Lupica claims the reality for Met fans is that a three-year Sandy Alderson Cleanup, like the end of the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico after BP, is ending. I like Lupica’s analogy but advise caution. The negative effects of the BP spill are still being felt in the Gulf.

Not to be outdone, Mark Hale of the New York Post wrote that Alderson, when meeting with season’s ticket holders, had unveiled a six-month plan. Alderson’s message to Met fans: the team will soon be adding substantial pieces to the roster and the need for patience (delayed gratification) is almost over. “I believe in the next six months or so, we’ll be in the position to make some significant acquisitions, either by free agency or trade,” Sandy told the big spending Met faithful.

There has been a lot of discussion over the last six months about Sandy Alderson’s plan to bring the Mets back to baseball respectability. I’ve always believe the Met General Manager has had a plan and that the plan would someday prove positive. I still maintain the faith.

Having said that I wish Sandy would use concise and exact language to outline the key points of his plan for Met fans. I think in some ways his meeting with the season ticket holders was a start. Still, I’m looking for an Improvement Plan Brief sent directly to fans, maybe through MetsMerized. It might be a four-point plan, a five-point plan, whatever, with each point explained simply, perhaps like this.

The Sandy Alderson Improvement Plan

Point 1 – Revamp and improve the minor league system.

Point 2 – Use the draft and an upgrade scouting and player development system to stockpile young talent, especially strong pitching arms, to build a infrastructure for future success.

Point 3 – Cleanup the roster bringing salary spending within affordable parameters while shedding unproductive salary costs.

Point 4 – Evaluate current roster and minor league prospects closest to playing in Flushing to determine the viability of a future role with the organization.

Point 5 – Strategically add substantial pieces to the roster to fill greatest priority needs.

A clear and precise list of points or indicators making up the foundation of the plan could then be evaluated more fairly. Has Alderson revamped the Mets minor league system? That would be a point of fair debate. I believe the answer is an overwhelming yes, and I feel there is good evidence to support that claim. The fact the Met minor league teams have winning records at every level this season might be one indicator. Minor league evaluations by different baseball research groups showing huge leaps in progress for the Met minor leagues might be another.

The same process can be used to evaluate each point of Alderson’s plan. Remember, this is MY summary of the points I believe are included in the Met Improvement Plan. I’m wishing the Mets would provide fans specified points and their own evaluation.

By the way, point five of my example, adding substantial roster pieces through trade or free agency was recently marketed by Sandy as something new that will occur over the next six months. For the past two years, I’ve considered it part of the plan. It only makes sense that when the Santana and Bay salary commitments concluded a cash strapped franchise desperately needing roster upgrades will seek trades and free agent acquisitions at strategic positions to improve baseball results.

The tough pill to swallow is the enormity of that task. At the conclusion of last season you could make a decent argument that Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis, and maybe Lucas Duda could be seriously considered as future roster pieces. At the moment, those assumptions would seriously challenged.

Forged and fortified by years of delayed gratification and bolstered by an Improvement Plan, Met fans are ready to rock. Even though we don’t feel smarter, are certainly not less stressed, and might be having trouble maintaining friendships, our patience is wearing thin. Come on, Front Office, how about specifying your Improvement Plan with some simple clarifying points we could then evaluate, up or down, and gauge the progress you’re making and the likelihood the Mets could be winning at least half their games next season.

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Alderson Preaches Patience, Will Look To Add MLB Talent To Team In Next Six Months Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:12:09 +0000

This morning at Citi Field, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, and a few of the players, participated in a Q&A session with season ticket holders. We have John Delcos there and will file a full report later, but here’s a quick summary for you to chew on until then.

  • Alderson said that he believes the team has reached the stage where he can begin to add veteran major league talent to the roster now. He expects to add some players in the next six months.
  • Alderson cited that with some of the organization’s top young prospects either here already or coming soon, that now is the time to start filling in the gaps with seasoned major league talent.
  • “What I’d like to be able to do is maybe acquire a player or two who will not only be with us this year but into the future,” Alderson said. “That makes sense and is consistent with what we’ve been trying to do longer term. We’re going to keep working at it and I’m sure you’ll see some different faces between now and say the end of July or the All-Star break.”
  • Alderson described this new strategy as a shift in organizational planning, and they intend to seriously pursue major league talent from outside the organization within the next six months, and that fans should expect to see some new faces between now and the All Star break
  • “I do believe that over the next six months or so we will be in position to make some significant acquisitions, whether it’s through free agency or trade,” Alderson said. “We’re certainly looking forward to that possibility.”
  • Alderson said that while there will larger amounts of money on hand to to invest in these veterans for the short-term, and acknowledged that the team has not gotten the return they wanted on money invested in players in recent years.
  • “When I got here,” Alderson said, “I always understood that I was looking at some of these contracts, from which we were either going to get production, or simply have to wait for them to expire. Now we’re in a time frame where in another half-season, because the players didn’t perform for various reasons (injury to Santana, total ineptness from Bay), those contracts will expire.
  • “Listen: The reality of our situation is that we owe Bay and Johan a total of around $52 million, out of a payroll of about $107 million. One of them is hurt and one of them is gone. But we’re still paying them. When you take away that money, you are talking about a payroll that is in the bottom three or four. For now. That’s not an excuse, that’s the fact of our situation.”
  • Alderson wants to build a team that fans will be happy and proud of and urges just a little bit more patience.
  • “We’re working at it, The problem is, at some point, the best thing you can do is have a little patience and unfortunately I’ve been preaching that for two-and-a-half years and it’s wearing thin. But we’re almost there.”
  • “All I care about is happy Mets fans,” Alderson said Saturday morning, on his way to talk to season-ticket holders, whoever they are at this point. “That is my motive in life. And I know that’s not happening right now. And if they’re unhappy, believe me, I am even more unhappy.”
  • Wilmer Flores could be promoted to the Mets at any time. (Unless Valdespin turns it around quickly, he will be the player that is replaced. – Joe D.)
  • Sandy has no say in whether Gary Carter’s number should be retired, but if it were up to him his number would be on the wall next to Seaver, Casey, Hodges, Shea and Robinson.

(Photo by Mets)

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An Open Letter To Sandy Alderson Tue, 28 May 2013 12:48:19 +0000 Dear Mr. Alderson,

A little more than two & a half years ago, you took over as the GM of this rollercoaster franchise. With the team coming off back to back sub .500 seasons which had been littered with failed expectations, injuries and disappointments prior to your arrival, most of us are generally aware – and were back then too – that you inherited a challenging situation: A rather high payroll that didn´t perform like one, a farm system that wasn´t exactly loaded with high upside & major league ready talent, and a difficult financial situation influenced by various factors outside of your control, certainly didn´t give you & your assistants a great starting point.

Sandy Alderson

I understand that a few difficult decisions had to be made in the meantime with the “greater good” of the franchise‘s long term in mind – both in terms of finances and roster construction. Even if they certainly hurt the quality of the team in the shorter term.

Scott Boras stated that these apparent financial restrictions forced you to go shopping in the “fruit & nuts” section of the “supermarket” instead of the expensive “meats” section. Regardless of whether it´s even a good idea to invest a lot of money in expensive meat or veteran high profile free agents, sometimes even “fruit & nuts” appeared a bit generous and actually it seemed you mostly had to plod through the waste bin behind the supermarket, searching for disposed assets beyond their date of expiration for virtually no cost.

In spite of these mostly inevitable measures, you never ever mentioned the “R”(rebuilding) word to the fan base. Maybe this happened in an effort to keep fans motivated to come to the park and / or watch games on TV and thus help to avoid the franchise losing even further revenue. Instead you decided to refuse to acknowledge that any season was going to be “punted” while stressing how much the focus supposedly is (or was in terms of 2011 and 2012) on competing in that respective season. Even if most measures – like stockpiling prospects and draft picks, holding them back a bit longer in the minors to get them better prepared for a hopefully long & productive major league career, trading or letting go quality veteran players, avoiding any sort of financial risks in free agency and spending very little on shorter term veteran replacements – clearly pointed in that “R”-word direction. Whether it came out of financial necessity or Baseball necessity or both.

While I understand that you can´t go out and say “we´re going to be terrible because we´re rebuilding – please come back in a couple of years”, I believe it´s important and the right time to get us fans back into the “boat” and make us “believers” (again ?). Maybe it´s time to share at least part of “The Plan” you apparently shared with David Wright in depth. You don´t have to lay out in detail which players you´ll target. But more in general how you expect the next Mets contender to look like and when you expect that team to be in place.

In retrospect there´s no way around it and no denying that we are currently right in the middle a major “REBUILDING” process – and already have been for a couple of years. And I believe we´re all grownup enough to hear the truth.

Especially since patience is not only wearing thin with your critics (they didn´t have it in the first place anyway) but also with those who were generally supportive of that idea but are now asking for leadership as we´re watching mediocre Baseball at best for yet another season.

However, please be more specific of your plan going forward. And please don´t try to sell intriguing pickups from the waiver wire as the supposed remedy for the Mets´ woes. Because while I´m sure you mean well and believe there´s some upside left in the Rick Ankiels, Marlon Byrds or Jeremy Hefners of the world, it does somewhat insult the intelligence of the “believers” and at the same time reinforces the skepticism of the critics who can rightfully point out that supposed “Moneyball” pickups have largely failed to make up for the loss of several star caliber players and the quality of the major league roster has gradually deteriorated. Which shouldn´t come as much of a surprise to anyone as there´s usually a good reason why such players are generally available for next to nothing in terms of Baseball economics. And while I´m sure you hoped for a better end result and are rightfully disappointed, you couldn´t seriously expect a much better outcome, or did you?

We are able to see the large number of promising young arms up & down the farm system and we are able to see that 2014 payroll obligations for 2014 – as of now – merely figure to be in the low 50 million $ range including all the arbitration eligible players, thus suggesting an enormous amount of available funds even if the payroll is to remain at the current – for a large market team rather modest – level of roughly 95 million $. However, a statement that you acknowledge that there´s a major need to add impact major league talent and that you´re not only able to but very much determined to get it and get it soon – be it via free agency or trades would certainly help us feel a bit better and remain understanding of the process. Just some more frankness and candidness about the current situation and what you plan to do in the future would be much appreciated.

I am afraid that the “honeymoon” phase will be over by the end of the 2013 season. From 2014 on, even those who have remained patient, understanding & optimistic throughout the past three years will expect results on the field. And even if that´s quite a challenge, at the very least we expect direction from the person in charge of steering this ship going forward.

Eager to hear from you and hoping our patience will be rewarded.

Best regards,

André D. (a caring & generally optimistic fan and member of the MMO team)

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