Mets Merized Online » pitching Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:18:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hansel Robles Shined In Relief, Mets Took Notice Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:43:06 +0000 hansel robles

On Thursday, the New York Mets added RHP Hansel Robles to the 40-Man Roster so that he would be protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December. Since then, we’ve had quite a few readers ask us about him in the comment threads and via email. Here’s something our Binghamton beat writer, John Bernhardt, wrote about Robles a few weeks ago. It will give you a glimpse into this exciting talent and why the Mets felt it was important to protect him this week. Joe D. 

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Over the last eight weeks of the minor league season, a new name surfaced as part of the stable of New York Mets pitching prospects. Actually, to be accurate, it’s a name many Met fans already know. It’s this young pitcher’s role that changed and as a result, so too, may have his fortunes.

Hansel Robles is no stranger to Met fans who pay attention to prospects in the minor leagues. In terms of service time with the Mets, Robles reminds you of Wilmer Flores. He’s only 24, but it seems like Robles, who signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic, has been in the Mets minor league pipeline forever.

And, this talented young man is no stranger to some degree of notoriety over his minor league journey. In 2012 pitching in the NY-Penn League, he was nearly unhittable. In 72.2 innings on the hill, the strong righthander racked up a sterling 1.11 ERA while only allowing 47 hits and striking out 66 against only 10 walks. That was good for a ridiculous 0.78 WHIP. Robles struck out 24 percent of opposing batters and walked 3.7 percent. And, Robles counted off 22 scoreless innings and over 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to close out his season.

Robles’s pitching magic seemed to ebb when he reached full season minor league play in 2013. It’s not as if it was bad, but gone was the consistent dominating performances we saw in the NY-Penn League. Compared to that, it was a rather pedestrian performance in Port St. Lucie the following season.

Entering 2014, Robles had always been a starting pitcher his minor league career and for much of last season it was no different in Binghamton. Robles had a spot in Pedro Lopez’s B-Met rotation, but was an enigma of sorts in eighteen starts, often either very effective or otherwise looking like a train wreck.

But sometime in mid July the composition of the Binghamton roster changed. Greg Peavey, Tyler Pill and Matt Bowman were elevated to Triple-A. Cory Mazzoni, Gabriel Ynoa, and Steven Matz joined the B-Met rotation. In a July 19th contest against Trenton, manager Pedro Lopez called for Robles’ services out of the bullpen. It was his first relief appearance of the season and one of only a handful during his minor league career.

Nothing in his first appearance out of the pen served as an omen of what was to come. Robles threw two innings allowing an earned run while walking one and striking out one.

His impact as a relief pitcher began to emerge on August 3rd when in his 4th appearance out of the pen, Robles struck out the side in his inning of work that day and then fanned four more in two perfect innings of relief four days later against Richmond.

Down the homestretch, Robles’ confidence soared. In fact, by the end of the post season Robles was almost emboldened when Lopez would make the call and signal him into a game. Out of the pen, Robles’s fastball jumped up several ticks on the radar gun coming in regularly between 93 and 96 miles per hour and occasionally inching even higher. A sweeping slider in the 84-87 mph range complimented the heater.

Now a lat inning reliever, Robles pounded the strike zone like he had in his NY-Penn days. His issues with yielding extra base hits almost completely evaporated. Most impressive, was the bigger the importance and the higher the stakes, the more dominating Robles became.


What started out as an experiment evolved into a critical component of Binghamton’s Eastern League title run. As impressive outing followed impressive outing, by the post season, it was Lopez’s blueprint to stretch his starters to the point where he could use Robles as a bridge to his B-Met closer Cody Satterwhite. The relief duo rewarded their skipper with 11 innings of scoreless relief, a huge factor in Binghamton’s championship season.

What does it mean? Where does it lead? No one is really certain. Many unanswered questions remain. Can Robles work his relief magic for an entire season and at elevated levels of play? Are two pitches adequate to find success in a major league bullpen? (Robles is also working on a change-up) Can Robles handle back-to-back relief appearances, something he was never asked to do with the B-Mets?

For me the only no-brainer seems to be that with all the young starting pitchers in the Mets youth brigade, it is prudent to continue to develop Hansel Robles as another live arm out of the Met bullpen. Something clicked after this kid was converted to a reliever, he opened a lot of eyes in Binghamton.

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Braves Shopping Right-Handed Slugger Justin Upton Sat, 22 Nov 2014 12:00:16 +0000 justin-upton

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Braves are “very much shopping” outfielder Justin Upton and are looking for “a higher return” than they received for Jason Heyward, who they traded to St. Louis earlier this week.

In exchange for Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, Atlanta received 24-year old righthander Shelby Miller plus right-handed pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins.

Upton is a free agent after the 2015 season and is due $14.5 million. What makes him more valuable than Heyward whom he out-homered 29 to 11. Sherman also points out that the only right-handed hitter who had more homers than Upton in the National League was Giancarlo Stanton.

Interest in Upton is described as as significant with the Astros, Mariners and Rangers among interested teams.

MLB Trade Rumors likes what the Braves are trying to do, moving Heyward and Upton for top shelf young pitching and then signing Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas to pair with Evan Gattis and give the Braves a pair of powerful right-handed bats to surround Freddie Freeman.

I strongly doubt that Sandy Alderson will look into Upton, who turned 27 in August, despite reported interest back when he was being shopped by the D’backs. The cost in prospects would be beyond what he’d be willing to move, plus they already made their big outfield move by signing Michael Cuddyer for $21 million.

The Mets could still be in the market for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder, but at a much smaller scale such as for free-agents Jonny Gomes or Ryan Ludwick. That would allow the team the flexibility to shift Cuddyer to first base against tough lefties in place of Lucas Duda.

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Pitching Or Hitting? Assigning Post-Steroid Era Value Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:41:39 +0000 jacob degrom

There’s been a lot of talk these days about value. Many Mets fans wonder whether stockpiling valuable pitching assets will prove advantageous in an era when scarcity dictates that quality hitters possess the most value.

Value metrics have become the go-to statistic among many fans in this discussion as they provide a practical tool for defining a player’s contribution. But it’s hard to assign a win-value to a player completely exclusive of contextual influences such as lineup, quality of competition, difficulty of position, and even effectiveness of coaching … to assign a definitive value judgment when comparing similar players based on WAR is dubious. WAR is a broad stroke metric. On any given leader-board you can find multiple instances of  players falling behind clearly less valuable counterparts. Jhonny Peralta is not more valuable than Miguel Cabrera, likewise Josh Donaldson is not more valuable than Giancarlo Stanton.

WAR is more useful in grouping players. You can, for instance, be confident that a 4 WAR player will be categorically superior to a 2 WAR player. WAR only becomes problematic when comparing players separated by smaller increments.

Now if we want to assign a relative value to offense in today’s game we can look at WAR over time. In the charts below you can see that there is a spike of 6+ WAR players right around 1998 (24) with a spike in 8+ WAR players occurring in 2004.


8 war

Interestingly, in 1994, at the height of the steroid era, there were only five 6+ WAR players and no 8+ WAR players. There is definitely a dip in number of high value players in recent years, but there have been other dips over the years and the correlation between the steroid era and numerous high WAR players isn’t as strong as you might think. Part of this might be whatever value is placed on a player’s defense and the possibility that steroids didn’t factor in as much on the defensive side of the game.

A statistic that I do like is OPS. It is the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. OPS is the only widely used statistic that incorporates all the elements of offense: patience, power, and contact.  It is a relatively simple stat that gives us a good solid offensive performance indicator. OPS over time yields a much more pronounced pattern as you can see below (I also included a wOBA comparison for good measure).

ops by year



As you can see, the spike at right around 1998 in both OPS and wOBA is significant and the decline from about 2002 on is steep. This correlates heavily with increases in numerous other offensive categories during the steroid era. The subsequent decline is considerable and in many ways trends all the way back to standards set back in the early 60’s.

The question nevertheless remains … how does this precipitous decline in offense translate in terms of here-and-now value? Clearly there are fewer high level offensive players than there were only a few years ago … scarcity dictates that their monetary value should increase accordingly. Why have good hitters become so hard to come by? Steroids certainly had something to do with the insane number of 900 and 1000 OPS players in the late 90’s, but as the wave of PED’s subsided, like water finding its level, pitching has slowly begun to ascend to pre-steroid norms. The reason why hitters have become so scarce is because they are increasingly overmatched by pitching, which may have benefited less from steroids than hitting did.

So where do you assign greater baseball value in today’s market, hitting or pitching? 900 OPS players are fewer and further between … so from a monetary standpoint elite hitters will be expensive, probably more expensive than pitching. On the other hand, in this great contest of pitchers vs. batters, the pitchers have been absolutely destroying the batters. Good pitching is in fact beating good hitting all over the place. Tough question.

If you have the money and resources, securing an elite hitter or two will give you a rare advantage because there are so few of them available. I took the top three salaries from every team in the league and split the money between pitching and hitting and sure enough in 2014, teams spent $520,008,647 on “top 3 in salary” pitchers, while they spent a whopping $818,182,379 on “top 3” team hitting. So there is quite a difference.

If you are on a tight budget it becomes difficult to field a balanced team when you apportion a huge percentage of your payroll to 1 or 2 hitters (availability is also a major consideration), and you may be better off cultivating a pitching heavy system (since it’s clearly pitching that is carrying the day anyhow). Ideally you’d want to augment with a host of young cost-controlled home grown offensive players as well … Sound familiar?

This goes back to an earlier discussion that compared Sandy Alderson’s approach with the Mets to Theo Epstein’s strategy with the Cubs. The Mets are going to have a lot of pitching coming up in the next few seasons and the Cubs are brimming with young position players. Theo’s premise goes something like, “Since hitters are so scarce, teams will trade more than their pitching equivalent in value to obtain them.”  According to Theo (and a lot of Cubs fans) because there are so few quality hitters Sandy Alderson should be willing to part with deGrom or Syndergaard and Herrera and Plawecki for a single Starlin Castro … but that’s money talking, and increasingly expensive hitters haven’t been winning on the field, cheap young pitching has.

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Did Mets Wait Too Long To Trade Niese? Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:14:46 +0000 jon niese

Andy Martino of the Daily News wonders if the Mets blew it and waited too long to trade starting pitcher Jon Niese.

That there’s so little interest in him is a “striking contrast from two winters ago,” when many rivals were hotter for Niese than for the pitcher the Mets ultimately did move, R.A. Dickey, Martino writes.

“This winter, the Mets would argue that a talented, 28-year-old lefty with a team-friendly contract — $7, $9, $10, $11 million annually through 2018, with the final two years as club options — should bring value. And that might ultimately prove true, as the offseason progresses and trading partners lower their demands.”

“But as one official with a team who could be a fit with the Mets put it, ‘I think they underestimate the impact his injuries have had on perception. It’s not a team-friendly contract if he is on the D.L.’”

A team source told Mike Puma of the New York Post on Tuesday, “So far, very few inquiries from other teams about Colon, Niese and Gee, I was told. And “very few” might be overstating it.”

And when Arizona’s GM Dave Stewart was asked for his take on Niese, Dillon Gee, or Bartolo Colon, he bluntly replied:

“We don’t have any interest in those kind of guys. If we’re going to get something back for Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it’s going to be young, controllable pitching. Guys that aren’t making any money right now, who have a chance to grow within our organization.”

Martino concludes that despite Niese pitching 187 innings last year, teams are worried about a potential breakdown and that is the perception around baseball.

I think it’s still too early to worry… Everything may change in a month or two after Lester and Scherzer sign and the available pitching market shrinks.

(Updated 11/20)


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Mets Considering Re-Signing LHP Dana Eveland Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:32:02 +0000 dana-eveland-mlb-philadelphia-phillies-new-york-mets-850x560

Yesterday we learned the Mets were interested in bringing back right-handed reliever Buddy Carlyle, which you can read here.

Today, Adam Rubin of ESPN NY reports that Sandy Alderson also has interest in re-signing left-hander Dana Eveland.

Eveland, 31, had a 2.63 ERA in 30 relief appearances for the Mets, striking out 27 and walking six in 27.1 innings pitched. Eveland had a career best 1.09 WHIP after last pitching in the majors in 2012. Over nine major league seasons his WHIP is 1.629 with a 5.27 ERA.

It’s not known how Eveland has progressed since after being shutdown with inflammation in his pitching elbow in early September and being subsequently released after the season. If healthy, he’s worth bringing back on a one year deal.

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Can Matz Be That Second Lefty In The Bullpen? Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:17:51 +0000 steve matz

Echoing what I wrote last Thursday and again this Monday, general manager Sandy Alderson said there’s a possibility that pitching prospect Steve Matz can make his debut in 2015 as a left-handed reliever in the Mets bullpen.

Alderson is very high on Matz, recently telling MMO, “”I would say Steven is probably one of the top handful of left-handed pitching prospects in the game right now.”

“He’s got an excellent fastball for a lefty, at 93, 94 mph. It can get a little bit higher than that. His breaking ball has gotten much better. And he threw some excellent changeups that night in Binghamton in that championship game.”

As for making his way to the majors as a reliever, Alderson said yesterday, “It might be a way for him to break in.”

Matz may also get the call when the Mets opt to skip a turn for Matt Harvey to conserve his innings. Along with Matz, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard and Cory Mazzoni were also options.

Given what Zach Duke (3 years, $15M) just signed for and the numbers being tossed around for Andrew Miller, it would behoove the Mets to explore Matz as that second lefty in the bullpen. If anyone can pull it off it’s him, and it’s only until we can open up a spot in the rotation for him..


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The Franchise Turns 70 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 15:32:28 +0000 tom seaver bw

James Rosen of the New York Post, penned a worthy piece that reminds us of the remarkable career and the greatness of Mets icon Tom Seaver who turns 70 today.

“His very motion was a thing of beauty: the high leg kick, the deep rearing back of his right arm, his right knee, perpetually dirtied, dragging along the mound as he lowered himself for maximum thrust, his face, even in the extremis of competition, a study in symmetrical perfection as he bit his lower lip and bore down.”

“When he ended innings with another strikeout, he never showboated with fist pumps or other unseemly displays. Rather, he walked calmly to the dugout, head down — as if in deep contemplation of the physical mechanics of pitching he so often spoke of, with the erudition that made him, in the sportswriters’ estimation, the Thinking Man’s Pitcher.”

Seaver epitomized what grace and class was in every aspect of his life both on and off the field. I always thought it was a real shame that there is no statue honoring him at our home park, after all he is The Franchise.

Seaver recently said that the Mets have never approached him about erecting a statue or monument in his honor.

“I understand that I’m a part of the history of the game of baseball, it is going to be what it is,” Seaver said, when asked about his legacy. “The wonderful thing are the memories that I have about the game, and I loved it.”

We are nearing 25 years since Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Wouldn’t it be something if we could mark that anniversary with a magnificent statue erected in his honor?

The Mets owners should make this happen, however as I see it, there’s just one obstacle standing in the way… The Mets owners.

Enjoy this video of a futuristic Tom Seaver unleashing an explosive fastball to home plate at Citi Field. It’s pitcher versus batter as a high powered windup unleashes a sci-fi fastball in this thrilling one minute short created exclusively for the New York Mets last season.

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Alderson Says Niese Incident Will Have No Bearing On If He’s Traded Thu, 13 Nov 2014 23:35:12 +0000 jon niese

Sandy Alderson acknowledged the Daily news report regarding the relationship between Jon Niese and Terry Collins, but said it would have no bearing on which pitcher the Mets will trade this offseason.

“It would have no impact whatsoever,” Alderson said Thursday morning, as the GM meetings concluded.

“I don’t know to what extent that incident was different than maybe a handful of others that have happened from time to time,” Alderson said. “You know, Jon isn’t always happy when he comes off the mound. I don’t know if I’m aware of that particular incident. You know, Jonathon is a competitive guy. He’s an emotional guy. And those things happen.”

“To me, it’s not so much a line between fired up and inappropriate. It’s more about how that moment affects the relationship going forward, whether there’s lingering anger by one party or the other. And I just don’t see that happening. That’s not Terry and that’s not Jonathon.”

8:00 AM – Original Report

In an exclusive report for the Daily News, columnist John Harper expands on what precipitated the heated exchange between Terry Collins and Jon Niese in his final abbreviated start of the season.

According to multiple sources, Niese may have crossed the line. In the third inning of that Friday night home game against the Astros, after Ruben Tejada had drawn a walk, Collins signaled for his pitcher to bunt. With the corner infielders charging, however, Niese decided to swing away and flied out, thereby angering his manager.

According to players and coaches who were there, Collins jumped Niese as he came back to the dugout:

“What the f— was that?’’ the manager demanded.

“They were coming down my throat so I tried to slash,” Niese said.

“Next time get the bunt down like we told you,” Collins continued.

“F— you,” Niese said to Collins. “Take me out if you don’t like it.”

The exchange was obviously heated, and while Collins on Wednesday didn’t acknowledge that Niese challenged him in quite that manner, he did admit that in his younger days as a manager, “Somebody would have had to get in the middle to break it up.”

Instead Collins said he sent Niese on his way by barking at him, “Just play the game right.”

Harper contends that this was why Niese was lifted so early but also points out that Niese is high-strung and often would bark at being removed from a game.

“I know Jon like the back of my hand,” Terry Collins said Wednesday. “He’s so wired during a game, when you say something to him in a situation like that he snaps.

A Mets executive told Harper: “That comes with the territory. When you’re talking about heat-of-the-battle stuff, it’s the manager’s job to handle it.”

I believe that Collins may have handled this differently if he wasn’t feeling so empowered having already found out he’d be returning in 2015. If Collins removed Niese in the middle of pitching a gem as a way of getting back at him, shame on him. Niese was pitching a 3-hit shutout, had not walked anyone, and had thrown just 60 pitches.

That said, Niese could be on his way out as Sandy seeks to acquire a shortstop or left-handed reliever, but his value is at a low point. Niese has had various arm problems in the last couple of years, and Harper points out that his ERA was a run higher in the second half of the season.

“The problem for the Mets is that other teams seem to think Niese’s value has slipped. And while he would have value in a trade package that included Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, he can’t be the headliner in a deal for Starlin Castro or Alexei Ramirez.”

I don’t think the Mets will risk having some bad blood between Collins and Niese taint the start of spring training. And while I always felt he could be dealt this offseason, this incident may hasten that. While I don’t care for how Collins handled the situation, Niese disobeyed a direct order to bunt. You can’t have that on a team.


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Latest On Didi Gregorius: D’Backs GM Has No Interest In Gee, Colon, Niese Wed, 12 Nov 2014 06:02:49 +0000 digi gregorius

On Tuesday, Andy Martino of the Daily News asked Arizona’s GM Dave Stewart for his take on Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, or Bartolo Colon, who the Mets would prefer to move in a deal for one of the Diamondbacks shortstops.

“We don’t have any interest in those kind of guys,” Stewart told the News. “If we’re going to get something back for Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it’s going to be young, controllable pitching. Guys that aren’t making any money right now, who have a chance to grow within our organization.”

That’s pretty much what I speculated yesterday, but wow, talk about being blunt….

Stewart is looking at Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, but Martino heard from other rival executives who have contacted the Mets, that those three are as close to untouchable as you can get.

November 11

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is hearing that the Arizona Diamondbacks are getting a lot of interest in shortstop Didi Gregorius at the GM Meetings.

The Arizona Republic reported that the Arizona’s general manager Dave Stewart wants to add a proven young starter this offseason and seems more open to a trade now.

“I don’t know if we get it accomplished this week,” Stewart said, “but by the time we start the season I’d really like to try to improve our starting rotation.”

“If we can clearly improve our team, then I’m not hesitant to make a trade,” Stewart said. “I don’t know that we will or that we won’t. What I know is that there’s some clubs out there that we’ve had some conversations with that includes pitching, pretty good pitching. It’s a matter of if we can make it happen or not.”

The Diamondbacks have three young shortstops in Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed, however Owings has entrenched himself as part of the core in Arizona and barring a huge overpay he’s not going anywhere.

Some executives believe Gregorius or Ahmed will be dangled for pitching but neither of them will bring back the young, controllable, top-of-the-rotation pitcher Stewart is looking for.

“You’re not getting back Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom,” said one scout, referencing two top young arms on a New York Mets team that could conceivably use help at shortstop. “But maybe you get back Rafael Montero.”

If they’re looking for a young and proven starter, chances are that neither of Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese would interest them.


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Platooning Lucas Duda Isn’t A Bad Thing Fri, 07 Nov 2014 17:23:58 +0000 lucas duda hr

First off, I am a huge fan of Lucas Duda.  When considering the question about platooning Duda, I have to ask myself a different question: Do the Mets have a better chance of winning with Duda in the lineup against left-handed pitching?

As much as I want to see him get as many at-bats as possible, the answer to that question is still an overwhelming, NO.  Even if Duda becomes serviceable versus lefties, he will never be the same hitter that he is against righties.

Duda hit 30 home runs this past season, and did virtually nothing against southpaws, just two in 125 plate appearances. It also looked like it negatively impacted his production against right-handed pitching when Terry Collins started to give him more playing time against later in the season. He was so focused on trying to go the other way against LHP, that he went into a month long slump against righties.  Additionally, he seemed to wear down a bit playing everyday and looked like he benefited with those occasional nights off.

What is the advantage of playing Duda against lefties?  So he can hit 32 homers instead of 30 but at the expense of about 130 unproductive at-bats? Wouldn’t the team be much better off having a RH batter that crushes lefties playing those games instead? What if we find a platoon partner that hits 10 or more home runs in those at-bats with a .300 or better batting average?  Suddenly we have 40 homer, 40 double, 125 RBI  production from our first base position. You think that could put more of those one-run losses into our win column?

Having a platoon partner with Duda would not only improve the lineup against guys like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Mike Minor, but just think of match-up problems it would cause when the opposing manager goes to the bullpen? We have Lucas Duda chomping at the bit to get in the batters box as soon as a right handed reliever enters the game. Even if the opposing manager immediately takes out the righty and brings in a lefty specialist, you still made them burn two relief pitchers to get one guy out. So it’s not like Duda wouldn’t play during most of those games he starts on the bench.

Duda turns 29 in February, at this age you are what you are…

This is not about the name on the back of the jersey, it’s about the name on the front. And all the evidence points to increased production from first base with Lucas Duda in a platoon.


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Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz Among 12 Players Extended Qualifying Offers Tue, 04 Nov 2014 12:22:58 +0000 Melky_Cabrera

The following 12 players were each extended one-year qualifying offers worth $15.3 million by their teams before yesterday’s deadline:


Russell Martin


Victor Martinez
Hanley Ramirez
Pablo Sandoval


Melky Cabrera
Nelson Cruz
Michael Cuddyer

Starting Pitchers

Francisco Liriano
Ervin Santana
Max Scherzer
James Shields

Relief pitchers

David Robertson

These 12  players will now have one week to decide whether or not to accept the QO or instead reject the offer and pursue a bigger deal in the free agent market.

If any of them reject the offer and sign with a new team, their former team will receive a compensatory pick in next June’s draft, while their new team forfeits their top unprotected draft pick.

Among these players, the Mets had been connected closely to Michael Cuddyer, and to a lesser degree, Melky Cabrera. However, neither will be pursued by the Mets now because of their draft pick compensation. The Mets do not have a protected pick.

This is the third offseason under the qualifying offer system and in that time, no player has ever accepted their team’s guaranteed offer. That decision backfired on free agents Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales, Ervin Santana and Nelson Cruz, who each ended up signing lesser one-year deals. This could be the year when we’ll finally see players accepting their qualifying offers and Cuddyer will certainly be one of them.


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Mets Are A Bandbox Team Playing In A Pitcher’s Park Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:34:44 +0000 MLB Opening Day at Citi Field

An adaptation is a trait that plays a role in the survival of a given organism. Animals adapt to their surroundings by means of natural selection because those who are not well adapted to their environments die off — like a penguin in the Sahara. Humans adapt as well … my wife tells me I am well adapted to carrying stuff and she insists she’s adapted to telling me to carry stuff. She may have a point. The rule applies to most competitive habitats, even the baseball diamond. Some teams are more adapted to their environments than others.

The mark of any good team, however, is not only how well adapted they are to their surroundings but how well they perform against top teams, and in 2014 The Mets did not do so well. Out of all the playoff teams on the Mets schedule, the only one they had a winning record against was the Cardinals against whom they went 4–3. The Mets split against the A’s, lost season series against the Dodgers and Pirates (2–4 and 3–4 respectively) and lost badly against the Giants and Nationals (1–6 and 3–15). That comes out to a combined 15 wins and 34 losses against playoff bound opponents which is a .306 winning percentage for those of you keeping score at home. While the Mets did beat up on many lesser clubs, you aren’t going to get very far in this league if you do that poorly against the upper echelon … Bottom feeders tend to stay near the bottom.

Below is a breakdown of where the playoff teams on the Mets schedule ranked respectively for ERA, OPS and UZR … As you can see Mets pitching and defense ranked up there with some of the better teams, but the offense was abysmal. Also of note is that arguably the most balanced team in the league in terms of offense and pitching (the Dodgers) was promptly bounced from the playoffs, as were the Pirates and Nationals, with all three sporting bottom third in the league defensive rankings. The Giants, who are looking like they might win the world series, have done it with an average offense, an average defense, and very good pitching.

(3–15)   Nationals 1st 8th 20th
(4–3)   Cardinals 11th 18th 6th
(1–6)    Giants 10th 14th 15th
(2–4)    Dodgers 6th 3rd 23rd
(3–4)    Pirates 8th 5th 27th
(2–2)    A’s 3rd 13th 8th
TOTAL (15–34) Mets 9th 26th 11th

The takeaway here is that with a little improvement to the offense the Mets should be able to keep pace with some of the better teams. As the Cardinals and Giants (and the A’s) showed, the Mets don’t even necessarily need a great offense. The league averaged a .700 OPS in 2014, so for the Mets, who had a .673 OPS, a .027 point bump might just do it.

The Giants and Nationals absolutely killed the Mets to the tune of a combined 4 wins and 21 losses and they did it by matching Mets pitching and outhitting them. Against the Giants it was particularly frustrating because they didn’t outhit the Mets by much, but they didn’t need to, which is an important point.

If the Mets had even a slightly better offense this past year they would have been in a lot more ballgames. Unlike the Giants, the Nats outhit the Mets handily, and they capitalized on all of the Mets’ weaknesses. Not only was their pitching better, they walloped the Mets offensively, and, to rub salt in the wound, it sure felt like they kept Mets contact rates down by striking the hell out of them thereby insulating the problematic Nationals defense. Had the Mets made more (or better) contact against the Nats they may have fared somewhat better … but nope, the Mets couldn’t even take advantage of their one true weakness.

The Mets simply need to make more contact. There is a general sense among fans that the Mets strikeout too much, but is there any truth to that?

The weird thing is that the Mets’ contact rates weren’t all that bad.

Plate Discipline: League Mets
Z Contact % 87.3 87.6
O Contact % 65.8 66.1
Contact % 79.4 80.2
F Strike % 60.6 61.1
Sw Strike % 9.4 8.8
Z Swing % 65.7 64.9
O Swing % 31.2 28.8

According to the above, the Mets made slightly more contact than the rest of the league on pitches inside the zone (z contact) and outside the zone (0 contact), and the Mets also had a lower swinging strike percentage and swung at fewer pitches both in the zone (z swing) but especially out of the zone (o swing), all good things. The league struck out 20.4% of the time while the Mets struck out 21.1% of the time which is less than a 1% difference. The Mets also walked 3.13 times per 9 innings to the league’s 2.89/9, so in general Mets plate discipline was pretty solid.

Mets batting average on the other hand was .239 and as a team they slugged .364 to the league’s .251 BA and .386 SLG — kind of a significant difference. They also had a BABIP of .286 to the league’s .299, so the Mets may have also been slightly unlucky, but I dislike BABIP for one important reason — low BABIP sometimes has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with poor contact (we’ll get back to that later). Additionally, the Mets had a 75.7% left on base percentage to the leagues 73% … they left a lot of guys on base.

Yes, the Mets did strikeout slightly more than the rest of the league (especially at home where they struck out 2.6% more than they did on the road), but they walked a lot more too, and, while their plate discipline was decent, they left a ton of guys on base. The Mets clearly got on base at a healthy clip, but they stalled far too frequently.

Why? What killed the offense? Was it the Mets’ marginally higher tendency to strike out? Was it a lack of aggressiveness? (I don’t think their plate discipline metrics support that at all). Was it bad luck? Turns out it wasn’t any of those things. The Mets didn’t strike out that much more than the rest of the league but they made outs a lot more on balls in play … which brings us back to BABIP and the real culprit.

The Mets had the 4th highest flyball percentage in baseball at 36.7%, and even more astonishing, they had the second lowest ground ball rate at 42%. The Mets are essentially a team built for a band-box playing in a pitcher’s park (which explains why they did so well against the Phillies). Now, I get the whole “chicks digging the long ball” thing, but the Mets are not really well adapted to Citi Field’s expansive dimensions … their flyball rates are way too high and they hardly ever hit the ball on the ground. Hopefully the Mets front office will address this disparity this off-season by signing a hitter or two with a knack for line drives and ground balls through the hole.

Will the fly ball problem be somewhat mitigated by bringing in the fences? Maybe … it doesn’t help that the Mets are an extreme flyball team playing in an extreme flyball park. What the Mets don’t need are more all-or-nothing flyball hitters.

The Mets clearly need to do a better job of adapting their roster to their home confines or they will suffer the fate of the dodo and the triceratops.


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Pitching and Defense Is In Our DNA Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:55:18 +0000 Seaver-Koosman-Matlack - Copy

Baseball is loaded with tradition, perhaps more than any other sport, and for good reason. The Mets have their own traditions, their own uniforms and stories passed down to them, their own sacred relics.

Mets tradition is rooted in the Miracle of 1969, and to a lesser degree the 1986 Championship season. Mets tradition is entrenched in the successes of the past, and that success has been, and more than likely will be (should we ever be treated to it again), grounded in lights-out, shutdown, overpowering pitching. Tom SeaverJerry KoosmanDwight Gooden and many other greats led our pitching heavy success stories. The lessons learned? We live and die by our pitching.

Building on previous success emboldens and prepares current generations with winning strategies, confidence, and important lessons. Traditions teach us who we are based on and who we’ve been. They teach us how to conduct ourselves based on how we’ve conducted ourselves in the past. They are an integral part of organizational success and as such should never ever be ignored. To do so is to invite failure.

The Mets of course play in the National League, and have always played their home games in pitchers’ havens. They were conceived during a pitching dominated NL “small ball” era and when you add Shea’s dimensions to their humble origins, you can see the where and why of our fine Mets pitching tradition.

The current generation of Mets is tasked with a monumental task — learning to win. What better way to do that than by looking at what has worked in the past? It’s a hard lesson, particularly after the horrendous failures of our recent history.

Pitching and defense are in our blood… 2–0 games should be ingrained in the DNA of every Met prospect in every Met franchise throughout the minors. This is our template, our formula, our recipe. Embrace the stinginess and the tension Met fans, I’ll take a traditional 2–0 win any day over a 7–3 slugfest.

Traditions are resilient, and I have to say there may even be something magical about them. There is a painful irony to the fact that 2006 ended tragically at the hands of a defense first backstop whose only home run vs. the Mets came in the postseason, against a power laden Met team lacking its traditional pitching first make-up.

Personally, I’ll take deGrom, Wheeler, Harvey, Syndergaard and Montero going forward over any host of boppers and mashers. Just get some great defense and a decent offense to support them. It doesn’t have to be a Murderer’s Row. Embrace the stinginess Met fans, embrace the tension!


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Handicapping Trade Value and Odds Of Mets Pitchers Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:11:09 +0000 zack wheeler

To get something, you have to give something, but what the New York Mets don’t want to give up is their young pitching.  Understandable, but how long can they hold out?

The Mets say they won’t deal Matt Harvey, but remember there is no such thing as an untouchable. What if some team, in the words of Don Corleone, make them “an offer they can’t refuse.’’

Let’s take a look at the Mets’ young arms in relation to their trade value and odds they could be dealt.

MATT HARVEY (75:1) Everybody wants him and that’s a given. However, coming off Tommy John surgery there might be a twinge of reluctance of making a big offer although the odds of recovery are good. They might get more if Harvey rebounds with a good season, which would undoubtedly spike his value. Also a consideration is that he may eventually bolt when given the chance considering his sometimes rocky relationship with management. If he continues to perform well and the Mets don’t sign him to a long term contract, his salary would increase dramatically through arbitration. Sometime in that process, if they can’t get a long term deal done, they might seriously think of trading him off before he leaves as a free agent to the Bronx. But not this offseason.

ZACK WHEELER (50:1) Some scouts say his stuff is better than Harvey’s, but Zack Wheeler doesn’t have nearly the poise or knowledge of pitching. Harvey is way ahead in those areas. Wheeler is reminiscent of Nolan Ryan early in his career when he threw hard with no idea where the pitch would go. Wheeler tries too much for the strikeout, which elevates is pitch count and reduces his innings. His potential is so high that he’s worth waiting for, but conversely it is so attractive there will be takers. Another thing about Wheeler, and this also applies to Harvey and Jacob deGrom, is they are very affordable for the next 3-4 years. Mets would have to be overwhelmed.

JACOB deGROM (50:1) It would be a crime if he is not the Rookie of the Year. He’s closer to being where Harvey is than Wheeler. He’s got great stuff, an outstanding breaking ball, poise and a sense about what pitching is all about. He’s definitely more a pitcher than a thrower. Like Harvey in his first year, deGrom caught teams by surprise. It might be different in 2015. But, I like this guy and would be more disappointed if he were traded than Harvey or Wheeler.

NOAH SYNDERGAARD (25:1) Some scouts say Noah Syndergaard might be the best prospect of all, but we really won’t know what he is until he pitches at the major league level, which won’t be until June at the earliest. He’s got a terrific breaking ball, great stuff and by all accounts could be the real thing. We shall see, and I hope we see it in Flushing.

JON NIESE (10:1) He’s left-handed, throws hard, 27 and signed to a reasonable contract. That makes Jon Niese attractive to the Mets and other teams. What’s not to like? Well, there’s his injury history, inconsistency (only one winning season in seven years), and the bad habit of not being able to put away hitters and letting innings unravel. The argument is a change of scenery might help, but unlike the previous four mentioned his value has decreased. Good GMs don’t typically sell low.

RAFAEL MONTERO (5:1) He has loads of potential, but other teams also see that in him. Rafael Montero is a lot like Jenrry Mejia in that the Mets haven’t found a definitive role for him. Starter or reliever? He could be in the rotation until Syndergaard is ready and if Niese were traded. But, on Opening Day I see him either in the bullpen or Triple-A.

DILLON GEE (3:1) He’s rated no higher than a fifth starter and could be bumped to the bullpen when Syndergaard is ready. Too bad. Gee doesn’t have great stuff, but is mentally tough – until he gets to Philadelphia – and shows a lot of poise. He’s somebody that could get the Mets something at the deadline as he can also work out of the bullpen in long relief. There’s things a contender could like about him. Question is, will the Mets be such a contender? The Mets could have traded him numerous times, but there were no serious takers. That says something.

BARTOLO COLON (2:1) At 41, he threw over 200 innings and won 15 games. Was it all him, or did the move to the National League and spacious Citi Field have something to do with that? Colon will get $11 million in 2015, of which half of that will be gone by the trade deadline. If the Mets are in it, they’d be wise to keep him, but if he’s pitching well he could bring something in return in the right package. He’s likely being shopped, but nobody will offer anything until they explore the free-agent market.

BOBBY PARNELL (30:1) I remember the day he hit triple digits on the radar gun at Fenway Park. But, it never happened for him as a starter. After some trial and error he won the closer role in 2013, but missed last season because of an injury. Should Mejia or Jeurys Familia win the closer role and Parnell proves healthy in spring training, maybe he gets dealt. But for now he’s not going anywhere.

JENRRY MEJIA (25:1) When the Mets were bouncing him from the bullpen to the rotation his value declined. Especially when it led to elbow surgery. Now, it was a sports hernia that cut his breakout season. Mejia showed he has the stuff to be a closer, especially since he’s learning how to pitch rather than just trying to blow heat past a hitter. There’s value here.

JEURYS FAMILIA (20:1) Had an outstanding rookie season and drew a lot of attention. Some believe he could be the closer of future, however some teams might think he could be a closer now. This is a tough one considering the fragile nature of constructing a bullpen. Of these three relievers, Parnell could be the most available, but also bring the least in return.


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Dodgers’ Outfield Surplus May Pose An Opportunity For Mets Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:49:19 +0000 royals

Ah, the post-season, or if you’re a Mets fan, another year of watching the new Fall TV Season on your big flat screen, while fans in other cities watch their teams compete in the playoffs.

There is no question that the last five seasons have been painful to watch unfold. We saw a potent offense get dismantled, along with a slashed payroll to help two con artists disguised as real estate entrepreneurs get over their misplaced faith in a criminal known as Madoff. It’s been hard as we watched players like Collin Cowgill, Brad Emaus, and Ruben Tejada get touted as diamonds in the rough, only to be exposed when they faced real pitching from the big boys.

Through it all, I have personally kept the faith with this front office. Ownership and the manager, not so much. I understand the value of trying to build something that can stand the test of time, and using the draft and young talent to provide a foundation for future success. The downside being that we would have to endure some dreadful baseball along the way. We are not alone in this regard, teams such as the Rays, Rangers, and even the Cardinals restocked and replaced over priced veterans using this model, with the St. Louis franchise now the standard bearer for how to build a perennial winner.

As has been well documented on MMO, this time of re-structure, re-tooling, and re-whatchamacallit has seemingly reached its nadir. There is plenty of excitement regarding the young pitching that will take the mound at Citi Field in 2015, and with good reason. Young power arms who can blow away opposing hitters, and with a bullpen that can hold any lead after the 7th inning. Dare I say it, things are looking up. But with such a surplus of talent, speculation is rampant on whether we can address the deficiencies on offense. The time to trade for that power hitting outfielder is now, screams every corner of Metsdom. But who is available in trade? Who do we match up with? Will we get taken to the cleaners?

This is where is gets crazy, these pages have already seen a million trade rumors with a plethora of suggested bats for the lineup, and to be honest, most of these trade efforts try to give the Mets a better shake of the stick. By far the most consistent trade rumors are those involving the Cubs, Diamondbacks, or Red Sox. Primarily as these teams have either great young infielders/outfielders but are lacking good young controllable pitching.

Typically, baseball trades do not work they way we expect them to. For example, for all the chatter about how the Metropolitans match up with the Cubs, nearly every published report has stated that neither team can find common ground on which pizza to eat at the bargaining table, let alone what players to swap. The D’Backs have a plethora of shortstops, but any mention of the Norse god of Thunder (Syndergaard) as return should result in a resounding no! So, are these all our options?

My answer would be no, but the team we match up with (and the player) might surprise you. I give you, a very disgruntled Los Angeles Dodgers team who may want to shake things up. The Dodgers have Hanley Ramirez departing via Free Agency, although the Dodgers have plenty of infield talent to fill that hole. However, the back end of their rotation will need shoring up after the retirement of Josh Beckett and the uncertainty around the return from injury of Chad Billingsley.

So, how do we match up with them Bums? Obviously, the first place to look would be in their crowded outfield. Uber prospect Joc Pederson will need to find room to play, so in my view its not if the Dodgers deal one of the surplus, its when. The real question afterwards is who will they deal? Lets take a look at the options.

The aforementioned Pederson isn’t going anywhere unless there is a team willing to part with at least two young pitching prospects, with a major league reliever possibly to boot. He will be on LA’s opening day roster and starting lineup in 2015, book it.

Andre Ethier was a decent contact hitter who is now on the big down slope of his career. As if that wasn’t bad enough he is owed over $50 million over the next three years, if that doesn’t scream stay away, not sure what will. Even if we offered Josh Edgin and LA pays 50% of his salary, its not worth it.

Scott Van Slyke is the favorite of many a Metsmerized commenter, he is young, put up an OPS of .919 in 246 at-bats, and can play anywhere in the outfield (though his defensive metrics aren’t wonderful). If the price is a Dillon Gee and a lower lever reliever (or possibly even a Jenrry Mejia), this is a deal that should be considered, though I think the Dodgers will ask for more.

Matt Kemp is an intriguing possibility. His late season surge in 2014 proves that he is still capable of being the offensive juggernaut that won him the mega contract in 2011. But he is also very brittle and susceptible to falling on his finger nail and being out for the season. I do not believe the Mets bite unless LA eats a very obese portion of that contract, and even then the return may have to be a Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler. Let’s leave this one alone.

There’s also Carl Crawford who is owed $63 million for his declining skills over the next three seasons. That’s more annually than David Wright. Interested? I didn’t think so.

yasiel puig

And that brings us to, Yasiel Puig, the Cuban phenom with the mercurial personality to go with the talent. No way the Dodgers deal him, right? Well, there are several reasons why they might entertain such a deal. One, after yet another post-season failure, the Dodgers may be looking for scapegoats (are you listening Donny Baseball?) and Puig did himself no favors with how he acted in the Division series. Plus with the Kemp, Crawford and Ethier contracts practically unmovable, this might be the roll of the dice they are willing to take. It bears noting that rumors are already making the rounds that Billy Beane might be making a pitch for Puig. Where there’s smoke?

What I believe is more amazing however is that the potential candidates we can send to LA may not be as onerous as one would believe. As I stated previously, the Dodgers need backend rotation help, catcher, and potentially bullpen or third base. What about Juan Uribe you ask? Well, he’s someone who hasn’t been able to stay on the field more than 130 games each of the last four years, and perhaps Daniel Murphy at the hot corner can appeal to the Dodgers. Add either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki to that package, and perhaps you are starting to generate a strong basis for a deal. Of course now some pitching will have to be added to the deal at this point, be it Niese, Mejia, Matz, or Ynoa. And Puig then gets to entertain the Big Apple.

The 23-year old Puig slashed at a .296/.382/.480 clip in pitching friendly Dodger Stadium with 37 doubles, 9 triples and 16 home runs in 640 plate appearances.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but keep in mind that Puig has turned off many in the Dodgers’ front office and clubhouse alike. His poor display in the Division series (and the Cardinals knew how to get to him) must have had some Dodger execs shaking their head. He was even benched in the NLDS finale by manager Don Mattingly. Also, having the young right fielder come to New York, and its large Cuban population, might do him good.

You gotta at least admit; it’s a possibility.


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The Splendor and Folly of Yoenis Cespedes Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:00:34 +0000 yoenis cespedes

cespedes stats

What’s not to like? Especially when you compare that production to the last three years of Mets left fielders? Sure, Yoenis Cespedes is an intriguing name, but like those that came before him – Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales to name just two – it’s just more wishful thinking about something that has very little chance of happening.

I don’t want to rain on your off-season parade, but as good as he is, Cespedes will be far too costly for the Mets, both in terms of potential salary and perhaps more importantly, the prospects they must surrender to get him.

Let’s look at salary first.

Cespedes, 28, will make $10.5 million this season, after which he will become a free agent. The Mets can afford the $10.5 million for one year, but why would they give up talent for a one-year rental? That makes no sense.

As they did with Johan Santana, the Mets will have to agree to terms with Cespedes on a multi-year extension before completing a trade. That’s the way these things work. No extension; no trade.

Cespedes’ demands – and I’m guessing here – could be in the area of five-plus years and close to $90 million, if not more.

When you consider a five-year contract for Cespedes, you must also take into consideration the money they’ll be paying David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and in the future, possible long-term deals with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler among others.

As far as what it would cost in terms of talent to acquire Cespedes, remember the Red Sox gave up Jon Lester (even if it was only 14 weeks) to acquire him, who is better than anybody in the Mets’ rotation.

Personally, how far-fetched is it to think Boston might not just re-sign Lester, which would give the Sox both Lester and Cespedes.

Yes, Jon Niese is just one name who has some value, but it will also have to take some of the young pitching among Harvey, Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom. One of those four plus Niese is the price – or maybe it’s just a starting point. The Red Sox are in the hunt for controllable top of the rotation arms.

Sure, I like Cespedes and he’d look good in a Mets’ uniform, but I’ve been watching these new Mets long enough to know there’s little chance of this happening.


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MMO Mailbag: Boston’s Mookie Betts Instead Of Yoenis Cespedes? Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:00:03 +0000 mookie betts aaa

Gabriel asks…

What would it take to acquire Mookie Betts from Boston? I like the idea of getting him much more than the Mets going for Yoenis Cespedes. For a kid his size (5’9″, 155 lbs), there’s a lot of power there while he has room to fill out, and he would fill a need for the Mets out of the leadoff spot.

Tommy replies…

Betts is a very solid prospect, although not an elite prospect. He plays second base, although the Red Sox have tried turning him into an outfielder to accommodate Dustin Pedroia. Betts was called up in June and hit .291/.368/.444 with 5 homers in 52 games.

What would it take for the Mets to get him? I’m not sure. Probably a nice pitching prospect, or maybe a “real” pitcher. I’m not sure if Jon Niese would be too much. Probably not. Rafael Montero plus another good but lesser prospect might do it. But these days, hitters and hitting prospects, are very expensive in trades, which is why we have been hearing about the Mets needing to give up multiple premium prospects for shortstop prospects who aren’t all that impressive… So I’m inclined to say Mookie would be expensive, too expensive for him to be worth it.

But more importantly, I don’t think it’s a move the Mets should make. They have Murphy. They have Flores. They have Herrera. If they’re going to be dealing pitching (which is the likely outcome in such a trade), they should be filling holes, not adding to their cluster at 2nd base. I don’t think Betts is the guy. If we’re trading our pitching prospects and our pitchers, we should be bringing in established bats.

Cespedes, on the other hand, brings big power and gives us a solid player in left field, which is something we do not have right now. He only has 1 year on his contract, which makes it a risky trade, but also makes him cheaper to acquire. And once the Wilpons bring in a guy like that, you can bet the pressure will be on to pony up and keep him around if he performs.

I suppose if the Mets wanted to get fancy, they could swap 2B for 2B, since Murphy makes much more than Betts and every dollar matters in terms of patching up this team’s holes, but I’m not sure that works for either team… again, the Red Sox are completely set at 2B themselves.

These two teams match up in some areas, but both teams have a logjam at 2nd base, so neither team is well-suited to clear up the other club’s logjam.

ask mmo 2

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A Cautionary Tale: You Need To Hit In October Sat, 04 Oct 2014 14:30:24 +0000 madison bumgarner

The Major League Baseball postseason is just six games old and it’s already turning into an all-time great year. You had the Oakland A’s getting bounced in the Wild Card Round by the upstart Kansas City Royals. You have the #1 seed in the American League going down 2-0 to those same Royals and the Giants overcoming big hits by the Nationals to take game one.

One thing no-one expected was the mediocrity from some of the best starting pitchers in the game. While Madison Bumgarner pitched an all time classic in the Wild Card round and Jake Peavy followed it up with a solid start in game one for the Giants, the pitching overall has been very bad so far.

Clayton Kershaw gave up eight runs on eight hits in the Dodgers game one loss to the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright wasn’t much better in that game. He surrendered six runs in just 4.1. The list goes on. Jon Lester, Wei-Yin Chen, Edinson Volquez and Max Scherzer each gave up five runs in their starts.

So what’s the point? Should the Mets look to revamp their ‘build-through-pitching’ mentality?

Of course not. Teams get to the playoffs on pitching alone, but you need the bats to come through in big spots. That’s where the Mets could have a lot of trouble. That trouble could arrive as early as next season. There is no David Freese on the Mets to get that clutch hit in the 9th. Nor is there a Nelson Cruz to drive deep blasts into the night. The Mets hitting doesn’t scare anyone, but these playoffs are rubbing that point in.

Ironically, there are several players having solid postseasons that the Mets could be targeting as free-agents. Asdrubal Cabrera slugged a home run last night and Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy each have one as well. Are these the guys that take the edge off? Who knows. With my two eyes I see a lot of clutch hits and not a lot of clutch pitching going on. Does this mean the Mets can’t win with pitching? It does not. But it does point out  the need for big bats in that lineup next season.MMO footer

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Octavio Dotel Retires After 15 Seasons Sat, 04 Oct 2014 14:00:07 +0000 dotelIf you mention the year 1999 to a Mets fan, one-of-two things comes to mind. Either you see Robin Ventura’s grand-slam-single that ended game five of the National League Championship Series or you see Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run that sealed that series for the Braves. Game five will always be Ventura’s game and despite his late game heroics, one man made sure he’d have a chance to hit that historic shot.

Bobby Valentine went to Dotel, at that moment an unproven rookie with a lot of raw talent, to try to extend an extra inning game. “What I remember about Game 5 is, I kept seeing pitchers coming out of the dugout, starting pitchers, and I was like, ‘What about me?’” Dotel told the New York Times Pat Borzi 12-years after the a series that shaped his young career. “Then they decided: ‘Let’s lose the game. Let’s put in Doti.’ And then I won the game. I showed Bobby Valentine I could do it.”

Obviously this stuck in Dotel’s craws. It stuck as early as game six when Rogers walked in the winning run in the 11th inning. “Nothing against Kenny but I think I was the right guy to come in in that situation” Dotel said after the game. Soon after that series Dotel was on his way to Houston in the trade that brought Mike Hampton to New York.

Looking back at the scouting reports for Dotel is fascinating. On the back of his Bowman rookie card, printed in 1997 reads this: “Undersized righty with big arm…throws comfortably into 90s…gets good downward and side-to-side movement…Big dropping curve…will challenge hitters inside.”

With the Astros he would continue to develop, finally settling in as a reliever despite a number of trips between the rotation and bullpen. Over five full seasons in Houston he pitched to a 3.26 ERA over 414.1 innings. He also managed 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

From there his tour around Major League Baseball was on. He pitched for 13 different teams, an all-time record. His career came to an end earlier this month after last pitching in April of 2013 for the Tigers. There are lessons to be learned about a young pitchers confidence when discussing Dotel. He was fragile with the Mets and despite shining moments after his short stint with the Mets, it’s clear that the team stunted his growth.

Octavio Dotel rides into the sunset having logged 951.0 innings in the majors and with a career ERA of just 3.78.97bowchro30008

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Mets Won’t Add Backman To Big League Coaching Staff Sat, 04 Oct 2014 13:12:26 +0000 backman

Matt Ehalt of is reporting that Wally Backman will not be promoted to the Mets major league staff. Instead he has been offered the managing job with the Las Vegas 51′s but it is currently unclear if he will return.

The Mets are still searching for a hitting coach and it was reported last week by Mike Puma of the New York Post that Bobby Abreu and Edgardo Alfonzo are the leading candidates for that position.

Sandy Alderson described the work Backman has done in Las Vegas with high praise. “They score a lot of runs,” Alderson said. “He’s had to manage additions and subtractions in personnel. He’s obviously had to deal with pitching challenges that come with Las Vegas. I think it reflects the work he’s done this year.”

That the Mets won’t even add Backman as a coach is unsurprising. In fact both Andy Martino and Mike Puma shot down the idea when the Mets first said he was being considered.

A day after Backman joined this season’s staff on September 19, Sandy Alderson was already agitated by the outspoken Backman.

“Alderson, according to a source, was recently put off by a comment Backman made in which he indicated he knew all along that pitcher Jacob deGrom — who has emerged as an NL Rookie of the Year candidate — had the potential to become something special. The source indicated Alderson believed the comment implied that nobody else in the organization knew of deGrom’s potential.” 

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